- Exercise control -

18th August '17

True to my word, the morning after the last blog, I did go on a run longer than any that I did last year. And I've done a few more fairly long runs since, which is why it might sound odd that running is actually something that I'm trying to do less of.

In the last blog I explained the thought-process of why I'm going to try and join my local gym once I get back to Bangkok, and that was probably the start of it. Afterall, if I am paying £60 per month for a gym membership... well I want to exercise there, and fuck treadmills. But it goes deeper than that.

Unlike last year, I didn't bring my scales/body-fat monitor to London with me this year, so for almost a month, I haven't weighed myself once.

OMG!

Being serious, I do weigh myself everyday in Bangkok because, as I've said before, I think it's kind of important.

In this world of gluttony, it's easy to trick yourself into believing you're in good health, until suddenly it's too late and you realise... you're not.

Being at a healthy weight doesn't necessarily mean that you're a healthy person, but I still use my scales as a sort-of... early warning system. A way to see how my body's changing far more effectively than were I just looking in the mirror.

Those cold, hard numbers of my weight and fat % every night are hard to ignore.

I know what I should weigh, and if I don't, then I fix it.

As well as not wanting to transport them though, the reason that I left my scales in Bangkok this year, is that for the first time in a while, I don't actually care about my weight that much.

Why?

With my body-type, I'm naturally made for running.

Not wanting to sound arrogant, but I could sit on the couch for three months, and still run 10km faster than most people. And that's probably why running is always the primary exercise that I do.

I do bodyweight workouts too, I swim occasionally, and even do yoga sometimes, although not for a while. But motivated primarily because I enjoy it and I'm quite good at it, running takes priority.

And there's nothing wrong with that. Just this morning I measured my resting heart-rate at 41bpm, and that's mostly down to running.

As I eluded to in the last blog though, you should focus more on the things that are challenging than the things that are easy, if you're to have any hope of improving yourself. And to me, running is just kind of... easy.

The things that I'm not naturally built for; weight-lifting for example, they're the things where there's a real challenge for me.

I have zero desire to ever compete in running, so there's no practical reason to be able to run as far and as fast as I can. I'd much rather be an all around healthy person, than excelling at this one thing.

Coincidentally, the world athletics championships have been on this past week, and I watched the 5,000 and 10,000 metre races.

I obviously can't run anything like that fast, but I couldn't help watching races of these scrawnily-built athletes and thinking... damn. That's what you look like if you run too much.

I'd kept my word of exercising almost every day in August, but taken somewhat out of my hands, very little of this was actually running.

I always find that when I do runs of about 15km or more, I get a huge blister on my right foot.

It's easy to blame that on the shoes I run in, which are of course a completely worn-out pair of old trainers that cost me less than £20 back when I bought them, but I don't think that's the reason.

It's a problem that stems many generations of cheap running shoes. I actually think my right leg's attached to my body a little bit wonkily, because when I look down at my feet when I'm running, my right foot always seems to be at a bit of an angle but... whatever.

But the problem with running several long runs in a short period, is that I'll get a big blister from the first run. Then the second run I'll get a blister on top of that blister. Then the third there will be a blister on that one, and so on. And much like how tree trunks have concentric circles within them to show each year of bark, my foot had concentric circles of blisters to show how many times I'd gone running. To the point there was just a big hole in my foot.

That kind of takes some of the fun out of running, so I was opting for alternative exercise anyway. I was enjoying lifting these surprisingly heavy dumbells, and was doing bodyweight exercises, even putting up my old chin-up bar and... yeah, this isn't as easy as it used to be.

That was perhaps the final wake-up call I needed. Running's great if you want to be good at... running. It's not good for much else though.

If someone struggles to do a chin-up, even if they can run 20km and do so easily, do you think of them as an all around healthy person? I don't.

How can you think of someone that has so little control over their body, as healthy?

Experts in yoga, for example, have complete control over their bodies. People who do gymnastics have complete control over their bodies. But people who run...?

Being able to run 20km, but struggling to touch my toes or lift my bodyweight off the ground, doesn't scream healthy to me. And it just added credence to at least attempt to join this gym once I'm back in Bangkok.

Will I?

I hope so, but this... dynamic pricing structure that so many businesses operate under nowadays, whereby every customer seems to get a different price depending on how hard they bargain, means that joining a gym isn't a purchase, it's a negotiation. And how do you get power in any negotiation?

By being willing to walk away.

And being the meticulous planner than I am, I've even earmarked August 28th as the best day to try and join this gym, because my observations of salespeople that work at these kinds of places, are that they invariably have monthly targets to hit on order to get their bonus/commission. That means that they're going to be at their most vulnerable at the end of the month.

I don't want to go in on a weekend, because that's when they're busy and have many irons left in the fire. But if I wait until Monday 28th August, when very few people are likely to walk through the doors before the end of the month, then I might be their last white hope to get their bonus, although there are still three more days until the end of the month for them to call me with a better offer, if we can't agree when I first go in there.

I hate that this is the world we live in. I wish that everyone got the same price as everyone else, but if you're going to play the game...

Or am I thinking about it too much? Would a normal person just go into the gym and ask to join?

Well... when it's going to impact how healthy I am and how I exercise for the next twelve months, it's worth doing it right.

If I pay too much to join this gym, then I'll have to work more, and then I won't have time to exercise. If I don't join at all, then I'll be limited in how I exercise. May as well give myself the best chance as possible.

The fact that I've had the time to plan exactly which day I'm going to go into this gym though, is probably a pretty good indicator that I haven't had enough to keep myself occupied whilst I've been back.

Sure, I've been exercising everyday, but I don't have that goal that I'm currently working towards, like I had last year when I was studying Thai.

Last year I was trying to study everyday, so my free-time got used productively. This year though?

Well I learnt quite a lot. I can tell you in excruciating detail the region system that Sony operates for PS4 games, how DLC works based on the region of your PS4 account and the regions of the game discs that you're using, whether or not your PS4 is set to primary, and the advantages and carry-over of having multiple PSN accounts in different regions.

I'm an encyclopedia on the compatabilities of PS4 games, and I didn't know any of that when I arrived home.

A good use of time?

Probably not, but suffering this PS4 bug right before leaving Bangkok gave me something to do whilst I was home, and for about a solid week, eBay kept me busy.

I always say that there are some things that are easier/cheaper to buy in London, and some things that are easier/cheaper to buy in Bangkok. Although you really have to take that with a pinch of salt.

There's a reason that I can afford to work as little as I do; I scrimp and save every penny.

I haven't taken public transport once since I've been back because... well it costs roughly 10-15 times more than in Bangkok.

So when I say that there are things, socks for example, that are easier/cheaper to buy in London, appreciate that is because buying them in Primark saves me mere pennies on buying them in Bangkok. But I'll resultantly buy my socks here nonetheless.

PS4 game discs though, actually are significantly cheaper in London. And seeing as I don't know if Sony will ever fix this bug, and I'll ever be able to download my PS4 games again, I figured I'd better stock-up for the year.

European-region game discs wouldn't work with Asian DLC, so I had to be wary of what I bought, but I made myself a list of ten PS4 games I wanted to buy; mostly older games that I could pick-up for about £10, and...

During a week when I had little else to do, I probably got more entertainment bidding on these games on eBay, than I will playing them.

But I was able to buy all ten games; eight of which to this point have been delivered. The hardest one? A game called 'The Talos Principle'.

That became a very enigmatic pursuit for me, because it's a game not even available in Thailand. When trying to find-out why, someone suggested it's because it includes religious overtones.

But it was such a rarity in this country as well, that it only appeared on eBay once or twice a week. Most other games were coming up fifteen times per day.

I try to find-out as little about games as possible before I play them; just enough to decide whether I want to buy them or not. But the concept of this game absolutely fascinated me. It sounded like a real thinking game. I had to have it, but a connection issue precluded me on bidding for the one that was available last week. So instead I bid on the first one this week, that ended yesterday night, on a promise from the seller that they'd dispatch it first thing this morning.

Which they did.

So now there's a race on. Can Royal Mail deliver me this game, coming from Leamington Spa, before my flight next Tuesday evening?

Seeing as I could walk to Leamington Spa and back before then, it'd be a pretty bad reflection on Royal Mail if they can't, but this pursuit of PS4 games on eBay, now promising to go on right up until my flight, was probably the most significant thing I did while I was back.

That's a little sad really.

But I do now have enough PS4 games to last me the year, and I've topped-up on all the other things that are easier to buy in London than in Bangkok.

Trainers, socks, underwear.

Can you imagine if after all of this, the airline loses my bag?

I've calculated that I have 463.5 hours of unplayed PS4 games (yes, that's how bored I've been). What could I do for the next year to fill-up 463.5 hours?

That's probably enough time to become conversational in Thai. Almost a shame that I'm flying with a reputable airline.

Studying Thai is actually on my back-up list, if I don't end up joining this gym. And do you know when the next four-week term starts at both of the intensive schools that I'd be interested in going to?

August 29th.

If they don't make me a good offer, I could literally go straight from the gym on August 28th, sign-up for one of these schools, and then start studying the next day. It's almost like it's fate.

Well I certainly didn't make this the most exciting visit ever, but I'm actually ok with that.

If you'd asked me what I wanted from this month in London, I'd have told you that I want to be flying back with all the things that are a pain to buy in Bangkok.

Check.

I'd have told you that I want to exercise a lot.

Check.

I'd have told you that I want to relax, and to not be too busy, especially after how last term was.

Check.

And I'd have told you that I want Bangkok to feel so distant that I can look back at it, and see exactly what I need to change. And the fact that I'll be flying home with a whole new philosophy of health and exercise, means that I did that as well, so this month's been exactly what I needed it to be. And now I feel ready for this next year, which if you read the last blog, might be the last one where my life's like this.

Something's got to change. If I do what I'm doing now for the next thirty years, I'm going to reach retirement age, with not a penny to retire on. And just today I saw a photo of the girl who started at my school at the same time as me, posing at Harvard, where she's about to do a master's degree.

She's also got engaged since I last saw her.

Well that's nothing, I've bought 463.5 hours worth of PS4 games on eBay since then, so who's really winning?

My flight's on Tuesday, and I'll be landing at 3:05pm next Wednesday. Oh joy.