Treadmill Desk

Back in the Saddle (cause I'm a Cowboy)

Today I started back on the treadmill after two weeks off and it was awesome.  I'll tell you what, I had really missed it.  The day absolutely flew by and just felt more productive.  Before I knew it, I had knocked out my self-assigned task list for the day and I was diving into tomorrow's. I didn't push it hard and only logged 6 miles, but my leg held up well without any real twinges or problems.  I'll keep at about the same thing tomorrow so as to ease back into things.

I still haven't fully decided, but I may add back in some incline in August.  It's a great way to up the calorie burn.  But this time, instead of going at it for 7 miles in the first day, I'll probably log half miles at a stretch.  But slowly, ease into it.  For the time being, it'll be important to just work my muscles back into shape.

So, all in all, a great day.

Injury Time Out

I had a friend ask me today how I was doing with Project: Treadmill Desk.  He has been hearing more and more about them, but hadn't heard anything from me recently.  Sadly, I have been sidelined for the past two weeks due to injury.

Now, I will say this:  I am not without embarrassment with regards to my injury.  It's not even a good story.  It's just the kind of stupidity that a few folks warned me about, but which I didn't listen to.  There's a part of me that really wishes I could say, "Well, I wasn't paying attention and my treadmill desk turned into a head desk."  But, alas, that's not the case.

The first three weeks went really well.  I was averaging around 45 miles a week and I was down about 8 pounds.  Not bad at all.  But things had become a little blasé, truth be told.  I kept thinking, "I should push the limits again!"  So, on Monday of the fourth week, I decided to do just that by adding max incline.

I mentioned this to a colleague while in the process, and his remark was something to the effect of "Your desire to take things to the extreme is going to get you hurt."  I shrugged it off.  Another friend, upon hearing what I was doing just shook his head and cautioned that I'm not in my 20s anymore.

On Monday I did 7 miles uphill.  

Now, let me tell you, walking uphill is hard as hell.  You can burn more calories walking uphill for a mile than you can running 3 miles on level ground.  The first day, it was novel, so I didn't really notice it as much.  The second day, I decided to take it easier, so I only did 4 miles uphill.  That day, I started noticing that I was eager to finish each 1 mile uphill hike.  I then did 3, 1 and 2 miles uphill in the subsequent days.  On all but that Friday, I did ~10 miles total.

On Thursday afternoon, as I was finishing up, I had a sudden sharp, almost electrical tingle in my right outer shin, followed by a strange warm sensation and some pain.  I wrapped things up shortly after that happened, but I did keep on for a bit longer.  Then, on Friday, which was a half day due to some travel, I noticed that my outer right shin just kind of hurt.  After a few miles, I had a reoccurrence of the sharp tingling pain, but I was almost done, so I kept at it for a bit more.

When I got off the treadmill, I knew I had done something stupid.  Walking was suddenly a chore.  I then had to drive 5 hours, which required a lot of holding my right foot up on the gas pedal, and this was not a pleasant thing to have to do right then.

The weekend was pretty much agony and I began popping ibuprofen and tylenol as often as I could, to no real avail.  As the weekend wore on and quickly came to a close, I was boarding a plane to San Francisco, a city in which I walk constantly, all the time, everywhere I go.

Let me be honest, I am not a tough kind of guy.  I need to complain to get through things, at least just for a moment.  However, no one really wanted to hear it.  Turns out people don't want to commiserate with stupid people.  

Half way through the week, I found a hidden stash of celebrex, a prescription NSAID, and to my delight, it helped cut the pain.  Prior to the dose of celebrex, I was walking more like a shuffling version of semi-well dressed Frankenstein with a bad right leg.

I quickly phoned my doc's nurse (who also happens to be my wife!) and asked them to phone in a script to the Wal-Green's near 4th and Market.  Sadly, insurance was having none of it.  I basically hobbled the rest of the way through my SF trip, taking down copious amounts of ibuprofen and tylenol.

I got home, survived the weekend, then went to see my doc on Monday.  He gave me some samples of a new NSAID (Zorvolex) and ordered me to get an X-Ray to make sure I hadn't fractured my shin.  I hadn't, and the Zorvolex therapy did wonders.  By today, I was feeling much better, ready to face the day walking on Monday...  Until I took a session on the trampoline with my kids.

Did I mention that I'm not the brightest bulb in the candelabra?

So, here I sit, wondering if i'll be able to at least walk a bit next week.  I sorely need to, I miss it.  My days without walking have been much higher stress.  All of the constant energy burn really makes a huge difference when it comes to ending the day without being completely stressed out.

I guess the lesson I may take away from this is to moderate my need to do things to the extreme.  Though, truthfully, who am I kidding?  I might be able to do that 1 in 3 times...  Unless I can take not doing things to the extreme to the extreme...

Project: Treadmill Desk, the First Two Weeks


On Friday, I completed week two of Project: Treadmill Desk.  Let me share some stats with you.

  • Total Miles Walked:  98.69 miles
  • Total Weight Lost: 7 pounds
  • Total Time: 35.6 hours
  • Total Cost (minus shoes): $189
  • Total Cost (with shoes): $312

I'm averaging roughly 50 miles/week, or 10 miles/day.  According to RunKeeper, I'm burning around 1,200 calories/day at the pace I've set.  My walking pace is averaging between 2.6 and 3.0 mph.  During that time, I've worked on iOS apps, spent a lot of time on a special project for work, written blog posts, handled the day to day demands of my job and even had meetings.  I'm quite pleased to say that my productivity has not fallen off at all and may even have increased, though that is a subjective statement.

I'm doing something really awesome for my health

Add to that the knowledge that, as I walk so many miles a day, I'm doing something really awesome for my health.  That knowledge has become a very serious motivation.  I recently had a conversation with my wife about a close friend that may be having heart problems.  In the back of my mind I realized that it would be very easy, if I chose to continue my sedentary lifestyle, to be having that conversation about myself.  Conversely, I realized that if I continue walking each day I could be around for a really long time (assuming an asteroid doesn't hit the planet and wipe out the human race...).

So, how does it feel, you might ask?  What kinds of things have you noticed?

First off, I sweat a lot more than I thought I would.  I mean, I'm only walking, right?  But man, you get going at ~2.8 mph for 2 hours and you're going to sweat.  A lot.  I work at home, so that's not a huge issue, but if I worked in an office I would probably need to walk slower.

I've also been surprised at my energy.  I am typically a 3-cup-of-coffee per day kind of guy.  Two in the morning, one after lunch.  That's changed.  I can take or leave the second morning cup (though I normally have it because I enjoy it), but the afternoon cup is getting moved to 3 PM.  Why?  If you're walking for 4 hours and controlling your calories, you can get tired in the afternoon.  If I have a cup of coffee around 3 PM, that can help push me through the rest of the day as I transition from wrangling code to wrangling children.

The more I do this, the more I realize that the human body is designed to move

Besides that late afternoon slump, though, from an all-day energy perspective, I feel awesome.  I definitely have more get-up-and-go and simply moving is easier.  The more I do this, the more I realize that the human body is designed to move.  I can walk all day easier than I can sit or stand all day.

I've also learned that this is pretty extreme, and I had better take care of myself.  Most folks don't log 50 miles a week of anything.  50 miles is a lot of wear and tear on your body, even if it's something low impact like walking.  Something I've learned:  Your feet are important, don't #&*% them up.  Three days into it, I realized that my shoes weren't cutting it.  I had bruised my middle toe on my left foot and was rubbing a blister into my pinky toe on my left foot.  If that kept up, there was no way I was going to be able to keep walking.

Your feet are important, don't #&*% them up

So I went out to my local running store, told them what I was doing (which they thought was cool) and got some proper footwear.  The difference has been phenomenal.  Hurting while you're doing anything just pretty much sucks.  Having the right footwear relieved the stress on my toes and has made my hips and lower back feel better.  Night and day difference.  I'm still getting the occasional blister, which I expect will continue for a while, but they're manageable.  If you're going to do something like this, make sure you have the right equipment.

All in all, I've really enjoyed the last two weeks.  I feel better, I look better (well, I'm not so sure that's entirely possible, but I like to think I look better!) and I'm being both healthy and productive.  it's a bit extreme, but this is really one of the best ways I've ever found to work.

Project: Treadmill Desk, Day One


Today was my first day of walking while working.  I have to say, it was kind of anticlimactic, but the results were awesome.  

I had a goal of walking for 4 hours today at a sedate pace of ~2.5 MPH.  Mission accomplished!  Without calculating my current walk, I've logged 9 miles in 3.4 hours.  This walk will take me over my 4 hour mark.

According to my FitBit (pictured above), I completely crushed it today.  Over 30,000 steps, 14 miles and 4,000 calories.  For a dude that has had to work to get 10,000 steps in, that's nothing short of freaking amazing.  

I'm also tracking my daily diet, and I struggled to get in 1,700 calories.  If I keep up with this deficit, I'll be losing ~4 lbs/week.  Though, I expect that in a day or so, my body is going to make known its need for calories.

Which brings me to my motivation for doing all of this.  Besides the fun of exploring something and the pride of building it, I'm doing this to lose weight.  I'm sitting at a solid 220 lbs right now and I'm 5'11".  That's after I spent the first 3 months doing P90X 3!  

220 would be cool if I was 6'4", but I'm not (sadly!  I would even love to claim 6', but alas, God or nature or both denied me that last inch).  I haven't felt really good about my size in at least 3 years, and even then, it was grudging.  I was 180 when I married my lovely wife, and, let's be honest, I felt like a complete stud back then.  I mean, I was 23 and I had just married this really awesome girl, so maybe one would expect me to feel like a stud, but I'd love to see the comparison of 180 at 23 and 180 at 36.

Now, there are other benefits.  I'm cutting my risk of heart disease, diabetes and a host of other diseases significantly.  The daily recommendation is 30 minutes of physical activity a day.  I logged 228 minutes today.  I'm checking that box.  Just being healthier would be huge.  But hitting 180 for our trip to Hawaii in July would be pretty awesome, too.  Perhaps I'm shallow, but I've found my motivation, and it's extreme...  Just like I like it to be!

Now, how is it walking while you work?  Did I get stuff done?  Was I productive?  Was I distracted?

In fact, I found walking and working to be better for productivity and focus than sitting.  When I encounter a problem, I really like when you get to that place where you become so consumed with the problem and its possible solutions that the rest of the world fades away.  The problem becomes everything.  It doesn't happen often, but when it does, I log that day as a good day.  It happened twice today!  I also knocked out half of my weekly todo list.

I'm not having any difficulty adjusting to typing while walking, and while I'm having a bit of a problem with the trackpad (getting the cursor exactly where I want it is a bit tough), I don't expect that to last.  Most blogs and articles I've read have said that it takes a few days to get adjusted, so I should be just fine.

At any rate, a mile went by while I was telling you all this, and I really didn't notice.  Tomorrow may tell a different tale, though, as it's possible I overdid it a bit today.  If so, I'll tone it back some.  But I have thoroughly enjoyed day one of my experiment.  Let's see what day two brings!

Let the Fury (Flurry?) Unleash! Project: Treadmill Desk

Today marked the first day of Project: Treadmill Desk.  I acquired a treadmill today, a Pro-Form DL of some unknown year.  It has rudimentary controls, but it will tell me my time, speed, distance and calories burned.

The treadmill is situated to the left of my sitting desk (I really have to make that distinction now, don't I?).  I have installed an 18" shelf to hold my laptop and I intend on installing another one above it to hold a 24" monitor.  I still need to figure out how best to run power to the computing equipment, so there may be another shelf installed as an intermediary between the floor and everything else.

So far, I've walked for roughly 40 minutes at a pace of ~2.5 MPH, gaining me 1.69 miles walked.  I have a board set up on the arm rests to hold my keyboard and trackpad.  I quickly realized that resting my hands on this negated my step count on my FitBit, so I will probably begin putting it in my pocket when I'm on the treadmill desk.

Of all the distance I've walked, about half of it has been at max incline.  This is sweaty-making business.  I can see that if I really want to continue this, I'm going to need to get some good workout clothing.  I will also likely need to invest in some good shoes, but for tonight I'm walking barefoot.

I have a good set of noise-canceling headphones, so I don't notice the whine of the treadmill much, but it's not quiet.  I'm not sure this is appropriate for an office environment.  Since I work at home, this is not a big deal, though I may crank the A/C down and freeze the rest of the house...

I've been writing this blog post and doing some light iOS development work for the past hour or so.  Keeping accurate on my keyboard isn't too much of a challenge.  Keeping track of my laptop, though, is another matter.  My head is bobbing back and forth enough that it makes focusing a bit difficult.  Of course, the time (11:30 pm) and the few beers I have had may be contributing.  We'll see tomorrow.

I'm going to be keeping a log of each day, which I may share soon.  I'd like to flesh it out before I make it public.

All in all, I'm quite excited about what this may entail for my health.  My goal is to get down to 180 lbs, which is a drop of ~40 from the ~220 lbs I am right now.  I figure that walking at least 5 miles a day will help with this.

I'll check back in soon.  In the meantime, you all have a good night.

Signing off at 50 minutes, 2.18 miles walked.