5 years on a virtual hike

Back on 1July2012 I posted my first description of my virtual hike after two years of collecting daily workout data. Three years ago I stated my goal was to transfer my treadmill data onto real geography so I could create a sense of actually taking a hike as an incentive to continue doing boring treadmill workouts. Since that post I’ve frequently commented on my progress plus expanded my effort to include some real hiking on the local Omaha trails, the MoPac trail (east of Lincoln) and lately the Wabash Trace in Iowa. All of this has given me the motivation to somehow translate all this stationary walking to some long walk adventure while I still have sufficient physical condition to actually accomplish such a thing (before the ravages of aging and joint wear-and-tear take away that possibility). So here’s a few stats of what I’ve accomplished since then.

On 24Jun2015 I completed five years of virtual hiking with a total of 2071.07 miles accomplished in 914 treadmill sessions (an average of about 1 day on treadmill for every two days).

#hikes miles/yr ave per day max in year
256 221.5 0.865 3.28
228 261.5 1.147 3.83
253 603.0 2.383 7.46
96 497.0 5.177 10.5
81 488.0 6.025 11.0

For the first two years, before I retired, my time to exercise was limited and so the average distance per session was much lower than recent results. In the third year I retired and had more time for longer sessions (often multiple sub-sessions per day). Then in the fourth and fifth year my #hikes dropped significantly but that was due to my acquisition of an exercise bike where I’ve now done 14061.2 miles in 2.5 years (447 sessions). But these last two years are the point where I began to significantly increase my daily workouts which is reflected in the average miles per treadmill day and even more noticeably in the maximum distance on some day during each year (my actual hikes are even longer but it’s easier to go further on real hike than a treadmill session due to how boring treadmill is compared to real hike).

As one other metric I’ve also expended 383,074 calories on these five years which translate to 109 pounds of either weight loss (started in the third year of workouts) or weight not gained back (I’ve been fairly level for nearly two years after 70lb loss).

So these numbers may not be very impressive compared to real jocks (or especially the real long-distance hikers who could do this distance in less than a year, e.g. on Appalachian Trail or American Discovery Trail), but for a 67 year old (average age over 5 years) I think this is fairly good. IOW, I’m reasonably pleased with my accomplishment even though in absolute terms it’s not that big a deal.

Now in the first three years or so I was fairly assiduous in transfer my mileage on top of a GPS trace I had of the Pacific Crest Trail as well as several other virtual paths along maps (like going all the way from Omaha to Glacier National Park and then back southwest to California). But over time I found the “virtual hiking” less interesting and mostly stopped updating maps (meanwhile I’ve transferred that kind of thing to my biking (almost done a path to all of the 48 states). And then I have 300+ miles of real hikes on top of these boring treadmill hikes in the basement.

So it’s time and so I’ll declare my goal. Before or at least during my 70th year of life I just have to get out and do a real long-distance walk. I’ve been fascinated with the Camino de Santiago but I doubt that will be my target. I don’t want to do backpacking so the wilderness trails are out. And the America Discovery Trail looks pretty unpleasant so now I’m searching in Europe (mainly due to much closer spacing of towns and thus overnight accommodations) and I’ve just got to do this. Not exactly a bucket list kind of thing but just some goal as an incentive to maintain my fitness as long as I can.

My health is good (despite the brush with a temporary diagnosis of a fatal illness) and my cardiovascular is strong enough to sustain me and my legs, which I maintained in good shape over my life (crew, then backpacking and lots of cycling, a tinman triathlon, etc) feel strong and my knees and hips are still solid enough to manage a real walk. During this time I’ve watched my now 100YO mother decline to the point of now complete immobility (a recent fall and broken ankle ended her walking, even with a walker and assistance) so I am constantly reminded about how we will someday (assuming we don’t die first) will eventually lose this conditioning (of course I read about remarkable people doing amazing physical feats even into 90s or even 100s, but that won’t be me). So my days are numbered and it’s getting close to do the walk soon or never. However I’m glad I’ve managed to stick with treadmill for these five years because as my fitness declines at least I can use this five year period as proof (to myself) I can at least do as much as I can even into my declining years.

So hopefully one of these days I’ll be able to make posts of a real hike and real adventure, but for a while longer (not going anywhere in 2015) I’ll continue with a few more of these boring statistical reports. btw: I pushed over 2000 miles on 26May2015 whereas I passed 1000 miles on 27Mar2013; IOW nearly 3 years for the first 1000 and a bit over 2 years for the second thousand. I estimate that had I not switched mostly to stationary bike I certainly would have done 3000 miles in these five years, maybe even 4000.

So good for me, but I have to reach for something new to maintain my incentive, a virtual hike just isn’t enough to keep me going.


About dmill96

old fat (but now getting trim and fit) guy, who used to create software in Silicon Valley (almost before it was called that), who used to go backpacking and bicycling and cross-country skiing and now geodashes, drives AWD in Wyoming, takes pictures, and writes long blog posts and does xizquvjyk.
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2 Responses to 5 years on a virtual hike

  1. dmill96 says:

    btw: Transferring my five years of treadmill walking to a map I’ve traveled from my old address in Los Altos California via I-80 past my present location in Omaha and just past Princeton Illinois so I still have a long way to go to reach my old apartment in Woburn Massachusetts where I was living, after college, and from which I left to move to Silicon Valley for my first real job 33 years ago. That trip took about five days in my old Datsun 510.

  2. Pingback: Virtual hike (fail) | dailydouq

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