Monday, October 31, 2011

An Upright Life

It now a full four months since I last published a post on the Ranger.
Some of the silence came from a fitness situation which has yet to be totally resolved. I had picked up a soreness between my shoulder blades, months ago, which I suspect came from an inaccurate rowing posture - and which temporarily gave me a very painful right shoulder - and I had to wait until it was well on the mend before I could discuss it. This was especially true, as in that last post I had somewhat erred, in thinking I would be able to address the back yard buttercup problem with a steady attack with physical labour. I was correct to be confident in the grace to be regularly active in the garden, but that was not for buttercups, but for slugs. I spent a good three weeks manually hunting the little beggars, very bountiful this year, before we bought a manufactured ally. This stuff does the job, with a fortnightly sprinkling of attractive suicide pills, freeing my back from the ache brought on by  a half-hour of daily stooping with a dull blade for lifting the little slug off a defenseless leaf and drowning him in a pail of salt water.
The buttercups we are addressing with two bundles of asphalt shingles. The stuff is sturdy enough to walk on, and of course blots out the light the green pest needs to grow with. In the spring we will plant grass on the bare earth, and move the shingles to the other half of the buttercup infested lawn. As might be expected around this house, where all the practical masculine intelligence and brawn is spent on music research, the shingle solution was the cook's idea.
On the erg, I was going in too far on the release stroke. You're right, I had not taken time to watch the DVD provided by Concept 2 and the Australian foursome. Nor had I even looked at the short film on the display terminal on the erg. I was simply trying to maximize the time on the erg - initially, I'm convinced, one does get more calories per stroke on that longer reach - and I had firmly in my mind, so I thought, memories of the Olympic sculling in Sydney, particularly the British Eights. I would have said that they reached as far forward as possible.
My household, as it turns out, was smarter than I was. Both Shawn and Marianne rowed with nicely upright spines, leaning back rather than forward. And to be honest, I did not feel any muscle discomfort in the beginning months that I could attribute to rowing posture.
But in the middle of this winter, I started to notice the pain between my shoulder blades, and found it rather sharp, anytime I turned my head when out walking. For months I had no real solution,  and even when I cut back on the rowing, there was no cure. Fat Watch fell back on the Walkman treatment, and I caught up with Eric Clapton and J.J. Cale, the latter of whom actually played in little old Nelson many years ago. Also, I had recently read Clapton's autobiography.
But then the attic ambiance beckoned once again. After all, the view, although small, is exquisite, for memories as well as present events, and the library up there not a little compelling. (I am now half-way through Edith Nesbit's Enchanted Castle, a ripping yarn, and a definite precursor to J.K. Rowling.) It was also a most integral part of a scientific discovery, which may have been the chief purpose in my posture mistake and the result of working my way through it.
You see, my habit in the attic is to read at least half as much, timewise, as I row. This why, for one reason, I suggest the erg as an excellent fitness device for clergy and religious. (But remember, ask your bishop if you may read your breviary, while you row, not if you may row while you read your breviary. Just another example of the sufficient distinctions Saint Thomas speaks of.)
In my first months, I noted, I was often only good for 10 or 15 calories between reading breaks, at least until I was fully warmed up. (10 to 20 minutes, depending on your body type) This was with the arms reaching full forward, and thus, as I was to realize, actually compressing my lungs against  a real full breath. Because I was using nasal breathing - easier on an erg or bicycle than running - my nose could sting quite easily. Now, using the upright posture, my average rowing set is 35 calories between reading breaks with no stinging nose unless my body is till rebuilding from previous efforts like longer walks or every day rows of 315 calories worth. I found this situation a thundering validity of the superiority of nasal breathing, and the utter necessity of making yoga the basis of all athletic disciplines. I could even forgive God for letting me wander so long up the garden path of half-wit fitness.

1 comment:

Rebecca S. said...

J.J. Cale once played there? Wow! I'm glad you have sorted things out so that you and the erg can have a long and happy life together. I like that St. Thomas type distinction, too
Oh, Buttercups...we have little grass between them and the moss.