2022 in Exercise

Posted on Dec 29, 2022

As another year is coming to an end I’m curious: What does the exercise data have to tell me? I did something similar in 2021, 2020 as well as in 2019.

running distance [km]962129514031150
share of running among exercise activities79.26%58.57%54.27%38.89%
cycling distance [km]10446601340
#bike rides201836
#strength trainings66382110
#exercise activities135210234324
#different kinds of exercise activities61117

I figure I have completed my metamorphosis from a hobby runner to an aspirational jack of all traits, master of none. Partially, this diversifying transformation was by design, acknowledging my dependence on running. Partially it has been fostered by a running injury in 2022.

New sports I have tried in 2022 include inline skating, rope climbing, snowshoe hiking and most importantly riding(?) the elliptical machine. I have also started(!) to learn(!) how to crawl in the pool. Much work remains to be done.

In terms of sports, aforementioned injury has had an immense impact on my year 2022. This can be easily seen by this plot of my cumulative running distance - compared to the previous to years:

Since many tweaks and pulls come and go, it hadn’t been so clear to me what triggered the injury - the boundaries seemed blurry. Yet, thanks to the running data I was able to narrow down the trigger: a group interval run on asphalt.

I ran 10 times 1km between 4:30’ and 5:00’ per km - which I felt like I totally had the legs for, warmly recalling past times of running much more, much faster, like I imagine the elderly recall their youthful strengths with a tad of sadness and a tad of pride. In a way I did have the legs, in a way I didn’t. No cramps, no stomach problem. Yet, an aching tendon. Most notably, this kind of run wasn’t something I had been doing recently. To the contrary, I had become a disciple of the zone 2 school of thought, usually averaging way over 6’/km.

I would really like this injury not be in vain and to learn something from it. It’s not clear to me that this is a realistic ambition, it’s not clear to me to what extent the injury (and the prior absence of other injuries) is signal and to what extent it is noise, randomness , bad luck. Yet, some contenders for lessons I have come up with are the following:

  • When asking yourself whether you can take on an effort, think of the weakest link. Heart and lungs being happy to go harder does not guarantee anything for other components. This might be especially relevant when switching around between sports.
  • When asking yourself whether you can take on an effort, disregard what happened >2 months ago and instead consider what took place in recent weeks.
  • Do unusual things first by yourself, making it easier to be conscious of bumps and bruises and allowing for a lower threshold of bailing out.

Sadly, all of these - as so often with health advice - sound like killjoys. Let’s hope my injury was noise, then!