Sunday, 31 January 2016

Beach hike – Hamiltons Gap to Kariotahi

Inspired by wild boy I decided to hike part of the coast line. I choose somewhere local and not too remote, but somewhere I’d never gone before. I planned a section that should take a day or two and planned for two days. It was approximately 18-20km and mostly open beach, with a couple of sections that would be under water at any time other than low tide. I checked this all out with google earth to see what I was getting into, check the tide times to give myself the best shot and organised my drop offs and pickups. To be fair I organised a pretty simple section of coast line

The first half of the walk was probably the easiest, flat beach, no rocks or sections of cliff to work around. I took off my shoes and walked bare foot for the whole walk (this was a mistake but more on that later) About 4-5km from the start I saw four goats, one would have taken a rifle to get, but I think the other three could have been taken down with a bow or cross bow. I enjoyed almost all sections of the hike; this section was good because it was an easy walk, lots of cool stuff to take photos of and nothing stressful.

About half way through the hike I reached a section that I was going to have to get into waist high surf to get passed. The hills around this section were really steep and so it was going to be a really long and hard round trip to go over the cliffs. The surf on that day was probably the calmest I have ever seen this part of the west coast. If it wasn’t so calm I would have never got into the water while out there alone. So I walked in waist deep, but it was still a little scary when swells were up to my arm pits and just taking me off my feet. Also wearing a pack made it difficult as the waves hit my pack. I made it around that point just fine and it was the most difficult section of the hike.

After that the hike was a little more varied a few small rock areas to climb over and around which was fun. I stopped for lunch and took a 40 minute break to rest my feet. Now comes one important piece of advice - print off a map. I didn’t print off a map from google earth, so I didn’t know how far I had gone. If I had known I probably would have taken it slower or stopped earlier. But not knowing meant I pressed on, encase I wasn’t as far as I had hoped.

I finally got to a section where I could see para-gliders and vehicles (trapped by the tide). I asked how far to Kariotahi and was told 20 minutes, if I could make it around the rocks. The time was 2:30 so I figured I might just finish the walk and get picked up a day early. The other option was to walk back the way I had come to find a quiet spot to set up camp, but at theat point this option wasn’t so appealing. The rocks were easily passed, again due to the calm surf.

At 3:30 I was at the beach parking lot, 7 hours after I had started, my legs were getting sore but I had done it. I wasn’t till that night that I regretted walking bare foot, my toes were killing me and I could barely walk. What happened was the ball of the foot sinks into the sand, so the flexion of the toes is much greater than normal, so 18-20km of extra flexion was well beyond what I have ever asked of my feet. So the lesson is don’t walk so damn far bare foot on sand. If I did it over again I would probably walk the second half in shoes to save my toes. This really reminds me of what Katy Bowman talks about, that we are what we repeatedly do. If I want to be able to walk 20km on bare feet on sand without pain, I better put the time in to building them up first.

Edit: I just found one more casualty - my lighter got wet and rusted.

Cliffs at Hamiltons Gap

First big rock, easy to get around at low tide

The other side of the rock

Cool cliffs

The white spot is a goat
One mother goat and two kids

I only just managed to get up in time for this shot

Easy rock to climb up on

This was the one I had to get in the water to go around

From the other side

Probably about 5km from Kariotahi beach

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Book Review – Wild boy

Wild boy is the story of Brando Yelavich, a young man without control over his life, drugs, alcohol, no job etc who decided to walk the entire coast line of New Zealand (inspired by the movie ‘Into the Wild’) in order to regain control of his life. The walk would be over 6000km; which he thought would take him 6 months and it ended up taking 600 days. The book is ghost written due to his dyslexia, but it’s written in his words from the why he got started, and his whole journey to the end.

Over all I really enjoyed the book, it’s simply written and could probably be read in a day, quite fascinating and inspiring. It was interesting to see the different types of land he covered, beach, bush, cliffs, front lawns, ocean swims, kayaking etc. Also the type of food he ate along the way, birds, goats, fish, shellfish and a little bit of seal. It seems he had a varied and healthy diet throughout the trip (mostly paleo, without calling it such). The story of someone with few starting skills in also interesting the way his skills slowly collect, develop and change. To me the book was an interesting and easy read which I quite enjoy; I like the story of adventure and getting back to nature that flowed through the book, but wasn’t push onto the reader. The only flaw I found was that the black and white pictures in the book were of poor quality, but the colour photos were good.

The following criticism is probably due to my personality, but I wish the book had more details (its nearly 300 pages so it’s a pretty good length already). Personally I would have liked to know what gear he took. He stated his pack was 50kg when he started, but of what? He started with an air gun, but later was using a cross bow. I like to know when and why he gave up the air gun for the cross bow, what brand it was and some more details on his hunting. He talked a couple of times about sending gear home he wasn’t using, I’d like to know what gear that was. He also apparently put on 20kg, so a little more information on that would be interesting too. I’m rather scientific and like to know these things, but most people might not, so it’s not really a down side of the book, others might find lists like that boring, or the hunting distasteful. As for more details in generally, the trip was 600 days and details are easily lost over time.

The book has inspired me to do some more hiking and in particular a beach hike, I hope to write about it soon. The book is quite good to read while thinking about paleo diets, ancestral fitness and generally finding adventure.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Vertical plate storage

140kg of plates

I have plans to build a bumper plate rack, but I can’t finish it until I get the plates for sizing. I also wanted a small rolling platform to store a few steel plates. I’ve seen similar on pintrest and on You Tube videos so I decided to build one out of some left over ply. Again this beats my previous storage system of ‘stack plates all around the rack’.

The base is around 450mm x 450mm, the pole in the middle is approximately 350mm high (50mm thick plates, so I can comfortably fit 3 pairs). I would have preferred a steel pole, but I had the ply so I decided to use that. The pole is approximately 35mmx35mm because maths. The base is two sheets of ply, the top sheet is cut so that the pole could fit in the centre and be glued and screwed in.

The wheels are rated to 40kg each, so 160kg total allows me 3 pairs of 25kg plates which should be more than enough once I get my bumper plates.

Fairly basic, took me a day to build less than $40 worth of ply and $20 in the wheels.

I doubt I'll ever need more than 250kg or so I plates, so this system should work great for me, but if you think you'll want more weight it might be best to buy a commercial version of this rack so you can store a few 100 kilos on it.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Barbell Rack

I’m currently storing a bunch of gym gear for a friend while his house is built, but I also figured once I have to give all his gear back I’ll then buy my own. So I decided to start building some stuff for storage.

The first thing I built was a barbell rack. I’ve made mine to hold up to six barbells, one of which being a fat bar. This is a way better option than the previous floor storage system. Originally I was planning to build something like the Rouge gun rack, but found pictures of this style of vertical rack on pintrest. For me the vertical rack is better and it take up much less wall space encase I was to put something else next to it later.

I don’t have any construction pictures so here are a few notes on how I made mine.

-The holes for the barbells were drilled with a 30mm hole saws (50mm for the fat bar). I then used a table saw to cut one side out so that I could slide bars in. A jig saw or circular saw would work fine too.

-The overall dimensions are approximately 200mmx200mmx600mm. The first hole (for a barbell) is 50mm from the end, then each barbell is spaced 100mm apart (top the centre of the hole). The last two barbells are 150mm apart to give extra room if I ever get something like a football bar

-I wasn’t going to brace between each barbell, but changed my mine after it was built, I think bracing between each is necessary.

-Be sure to screw into a stud, or two if possible with large gauge screws, I could easily load 120kg worth of bars onto this rack.

Thats really all there is to it, fairly straight forward, I used scrap plywood from work, but if I bought half a sheet of ply I could have built two racks for $40.

The ezi curl bar isn’t mine and I don’t do any body building however I might buy myself one, I found it really good for doing some reverse curls when I had some elbow pain from grip work.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

What I've been up to

Before starting this post I looked over some old posts and realised I posted nothing at all in 2015. I was working some longer hours and still training hard but that’s no excuse. This year I plan on putting in some effort and posting a bit more regularly.

When I started this blog it was mostly about my homemade fitness equipment and a little about the natural method. I was much more into a natural fitness kind of focus. I’ve since changed my focus a little, aiming for higher level performance goals which require more specialised training. For me this means more focus on gymnastics and some heavy (heavy –ish) powerlifting.

A dip variation
Last year was a slow but steady year of progress on the gymnastic bodies foundations 1, and moving some skills into foundations 2. My goal moving forward is to make good progress on F2 throughout the year. I also want to get moving on the handstand series again, but shoulder mobility is holding me back, which brings me to my next gymnastics focus. I have the stretch series which builds to a pancake, pike, back bridge, front and middle splits. I have been putting in reasonably consistent effort into this and I want to keep making progress on each of these. (Here is a link to the programs, I like them, but I don’t get paid to sell them, take a look if you like, or don’t).

Now for the why. For one thing I really enjoy the process on working more and more difficult progressions and building strength for the gymnastic movements. As well and a lot of the auxiliary training that goes with it (like weighted dislocates that Coach Sommer always talks about on the Paleo solution podcast, here, here and here). I find that having new variations and auxiliary training hits new angles I’ve never trained and exposes holes I never knew I had. It’s not variation for variations sake; it’s about finding where you’re weak. This is another reason I enjoy it, it exposes my weakness and I can’t more forward without fixing it. While I still like simple body weight, and natural training systems (whatever that happens to mean), for me I find this gymnastics training approach to be the most beneficial for my training. I strongly suggest taking a look, and adding in some more focused gymnastics training.

Still working on form and depth
I also got back into some powerlifting last year, and have started collecting some basic equipment (some is mine, some is only borrowed for now). Currently I’m working on my squat and deadlift, but I’m getting some bumper plates soon to begin a little Olympic lifting. The goal here is roughly a 200kg squat and 250kg deadlift. That’s strong, but I think it’s achievable without having to get too fancy on it. At that point I figure any stronger in those lifts won’t really carry over to help me elsewhere. I could be wrong and if I am my plan might change. While sandbags and functional training is great (and I plan on continuing, maybe with some strongman as well) I think 1-2 sessions a week building up that high end strength can be really beneficial.

I’ll keep this short and end it here by saying this is all with the natural method philosophy in mind. “Be strong to be useful”. As I’ve said before, it’s more than about just being fit for me, but to be able to help others. One day I might find I pushed this too far, or I’ll find that right spot to maintain. At any rate I’m always open to change.