Friday, August 09, 2013
Retiring in good shape.
Seems to make sense, doesn't it? Retiring in good shape. But what does that mean? Being able to bench my body weight? Able to run a 10 K in under an hour? Or simply be able to get through a day of ordinary activity without unreasonable fatigue, pain or injury? For me, being in good shape means being able to do a couple things I've gotten a lot of pleasure out of: bicycle touring and backpacking. I like being out and on my own, and using my own resources to get from one place to another. Hard to practice doing these things in an ordinary day. It takes time to get away from the house and into the woods and down the path. For me, being in good shape means being able to take off on an extended trip. Tomorrow. But it's hard to know if I'm ready to go.
I thought I was ready to go when 1) some kind of pinched nerve symptoms surfaced and I learned my right foot was weak. Physicians have identified potential problems but no partcular problem. I'm working with a great physical therapist to restore the foot strength. I think it's getting better. Then 2) the shoulder I had surgery on about a year ago and which I thought was doing fine developed a lot of pain after simply carrying a fairly heavy bag a short distance with that hand. The pain and difficulty reaching out in front of me has almost completely disappeared over a month's time, but I'm suddenly aware that this kind of thing could happen again with the same minimal sort of work. Again, my physicial therapist is helping me work to stretch and strengthen the shoulder to make it able to handle that kind of load, and more, as I expect it would need to on a long backpacking trip.
My body weight, blood pressure, and lipid profile are all OK. People say I'm trim. I walk 1-2 miles a day just in the course of doing errands in the neighborhood. Supermarket, library, even medical visits. I rarely drive. I prefer mass transit so I don't have to deal with traffic and don't have to park. I've been off my bike because of the pinched nerve problem, though I think, if I set the bike up with a bit more upright position, I'll be able to ride around the neighborhood soon. Haven't done any 10 mile hikes recently. Have had trouble "fitting" it into my activities.
People around me sometimes say I'm asking for too much. Since my day to day life is pain free, and I can do everything I have to, including some plumbing, painting and plaster work around the house, they say that I don't need anything more. Not true. I'm not happy sitting at a desk doing work on a computer and otherwise simple walks around town. I like being outdoors and doing things. My problem seems to be telling someone who's never done it that I'm looking for help in preparing to hike or bike for weeks at a time, camping along the way.
Nevertheless I'm feeling optimistic. The Appalachian Trail is calling me, looking for a meetup next April, giving me another chance to try to walk from Georgia to Maine. I think I can be ready. Now that will entail being in shape.