The Lost Art of Running

I finished this book yesterday. After climbing, the sport I most enjoy is running. I am not a great runner and I am going by seasons but still there are few things better that a good run (with a good sweat) to feel you alive!

Due to injuries and time (I can’t have it all) I haven’t run as much as I would like but now with more daylight, I want to start doing it again and rest a bit of the bike.

This book is a bit of motivation and improvement. Mainly to run better without getting injured and coping with current ones.

The main idea is the body to move fluently as it was done in the past before we became office / chair-addicted. So it is not just a mechanic system of muscles, tendons, bones, etc. The missing element is the fascia (info1)

So taking that point of view, running takes a different approach. The author uses plenty of examples for natural African runners to ultra runners.

The summary is:

  • Foot Placement: Dont be afraid to using the whole foot. Thing of the tripod position
  • Cadence: around 175-180
  • Stride length: The key is to “cycle”.
  • Posture: Stand tall!
  • The head: look at the horizon, not down!
  • Arms: coordination with body
  • Natural lean: I think this is connected to the posture
  • Breathing: control it for not over-breathing
  • Mind: Some of the points above, need our mind to be conscious to make them happen and as well to remind us we are doing well. And this is very important for ultra races.

So, in my next runs, I will try to put in practice some of these points!

Beastmaking

I finished this book this week. I have been climbing for a while and I really love it. But as well, for several years I think I am not improving. I dont make a living with climbing but I want to try more difficult routes and challenge myself.

So I decided I was going to start to try different things to get stronger and climb harder. First of all, early this year, after watching this video, I decided to put in use my beastmaker board that was gathering dust…

It took me a weekend of DIY for completing it…. But has been worth it. Although I haven’t managed to get an schedule to do it twice a day. I do it on weekends morning and some non-climbing weekdays. I think I feel some improvement though.

Later on, I started to do weighted pull-ups as recommended by a fellow climber from the gym. This was the excuse to buy a harness after soooo many years! 🙂

Since last year, I had a finger injury so that kept me out of proper climbing for several months but I discovered endurance. I was only able to make easy routes and put low stress in my finger so with time I managed an expected endurance. So I was happy with that and I am trying to get an endurance session each week (if my skin agrees with that).

As well, I had watched this video several times and it helped too.

In the last couple of months I started to get back to the normal climbing checking how my finger was feeling. So I decided to keep adding things. And the book has clarified many things. I really need to improve my finger strength. Something I have ignored as I always thought it was too much for me and it was easy to get injured.

Prioritise fingers and flexibility. Work in your “core”

Do high-intensity strength training when you are fresh and well rested.

Finger strength takes time, it is a slow process, dont rush it. And dont get injured!

Important is to warm-up and stretch. So this is always do so I am happy I have it in my routine.

The book gives a lot examples (and have very nice pictures) for exercises.

So I need to try things and build my training plan. And very likely get back to the book to refresh things.

Scout Mindset

I finished this ebook yesterday. Somehow I had some ebooks to read and they are kind of connected. This one is related to mindsets and relates to this book a read some time ago.

The goal is to have a “scout” mindset that a “soldier” mindset. A scout mindset is the one that see the world as it is, learns from mistakes, it is not biased (something quite difficult) and is flexible. The soldier one doesnt accept what it sees and try to rationalize its believe and mistakes. It relates to the concept of think fast, slow, where your take most of the decisions quickly and without much digging, something critical some thousands years ago . This doesnt really work nowadays for us. In general, we want a quick benefit although long-term is not the best.

The book gives many example of biases / soldier mindset, like Dreyfus affair, political views, feminism view, breast feeding, etc. And how the “experts” predictions are so bad.

Part of developing a scout mindset starts with the self-awareness, that is noticing your (many types) of bias that may change depending of the situation. Other steps are motivating without self-deception, influencing without overconfidence and be able to change your mind.

The last part of the book relates to identities that can make as “soldiers” and so missing opportunities so see other opinions more clearly.

In general, interesting book. And as usual, the goal is to take things and put them in practice.

One thing that I struggle with ebooks is the highlights and notes. In a normal book, I can highlight something and make a small note at the end of the book so I can get a “quick summary” of what I find interesting.

Upside of Stress

Somehow, just by chance, I feel the last three books I have read are connected. And this last one, has been a real slap in my face. And deserved.

In the last years, I have complained about stress at work, dissatisfaction, etc. And questions about what’s my goal in life. What I am really doing apart from working (and climbing and reading and cooking). As well, this is connected to my breakup.

I have changed job twice, and still in the same situation to be honest. I knew the problems wasn’t the job. It was me. It was my expectations. But still stuck.

I have read a lot about Stoicism, Buddhism, meditation, etc. And I really believe on those philosophies as the ground stones of my moral.

But I didn’t lead by example. That is the best piece of advice that my first manager in UK (and the person who gave me the chance to work here) told me and have always try to live by.

The book reminded me the worse experiences of my life: dead, heartbreaks, letdowns, etc. But then reminded me of the growth I experimented after that. I forgot those futsal games that were so intense, those kumites with people much more stronger than me, those difficult exams, competitions, races. I forgot the satisfaction of giving all, the learning, the challenge, the growth from defeat and failures. Growth.

And I know, without that stress, I wouldn’t have improved. So, I have been making things worse trying to escape it.

As the book says, pain is part of life, one way or the other, so you’r better off to deal with it face on because there are too many things out of our control. But we are in control of the most important one, ourselves.

So at the end, it is all about your mindset. The worse moments can bring the best of you. Because you are not alone there.

And this is a new habit I want back to the core of my moral. And think it is already working. For the last weeks I have been struggling with an injure and I knew my feelings about work were not helping. This week, I was nearly alone most of the week dealing with the major projects. Normally I would be very stressed. But I tried to think as challenges. Maybe the week was quieter than normal but I felt better at work and in my body.

I want to see if these are just words or a real shift. More challenging times will come (for sure).

Atomic Habits

I finished this ebook last week. It has been interesting to read about some techniques that I have used without really noticing like adding/removing things from my visual radar.

I believe that the key is to create your mindset and grow little by little (atomic). This in an investment in the long run, on you.

The big picture for building habits:

  • Obvious, Attractive, Easy and Satisfying:

The big picture for removing habits:

  • Invisible, Unattractive, Hard and Unsatisfying.

And this book makes references to “Man’s search for meaning”.

Some other notes from the summary:

  • Happiness is simple the absence of desire (The richest is not the one who has more things but the one with less needs – my grandmother told me that once)
  • Being curious is better than being smart.
  • Emotions drives behaviour. Your response tends to follow your emotions.
  • Suffering drives progress.
  • Satisfaction = Craving – Reward
  • Feelings come both before and after behaviour: Cue -> Craving (feeling) -> Response -> Reward (feeling)

Man’s search for meaning

I finished this book a bit more than a week ago. It is quite short but very dense in meaning. I didnt know it was from a Holocaust survivor and he was a psychiatrist. The first parts is mainly about his experience in the concentration camps. It is not gory in details. It is detailed in his mindset and psychology of the prisioners. It is amazing how in the most extreme circumstances (this is real stress), human beings can survive (by a thin line though). And as well, luck. He mentions the three phases of a prisoner: admission (shock), camp routine (brutality, gave up, apathy) and release (another shock, as your reason for meaning can be non-existing… family gone, society gone, etc)

It is a book I need to read again.

I have some notes:

logotherapy

Existentialism: To live is to suffer, to survive is to find meaning in the suffering. That is for me, it is Buddhism. And each man/woman needs to find its own.

The last human of human freedoms is the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances. It is like stoicism.

Nietzsche: He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.

It is hope, it is meaning.

It is not what we expect from life but rather what life expects from us. Our answer must consist in right action and right conduct. Again, like stoicism.

And sometimes, you just have to accept fate and bear your cross.

Man needs tension, can’t thrive in tensionless state and find meaning in life.

“Sunday neurosis” – kind of depression happens at the end of a (busy) week and during the free time you notice the lack of meaning that you can’t ignore – existential vacuum. This happened to me for many years, mainly during my first job. Then in UK, studying for certifications the first years and afterwards, climbing on Sunday cleared that feeling. It was the first time I felt at peace before starting a new week.

Rise

I am not very keen of sportsmen/women biographies but I decided to read this one, after watching this video some time ago.

Although Siya is still young, he relates about his career from a very challenging upbringing to the summit of his sport career.

But what I liked from the book, it is not just the path to success but the persona. How he relates to the problems of South Africa, to his own personal problems. In a very macho sport, it is difficult to imagine somebody talking about his feelings, his wrongs, his addictions. This is another very interesting video about mental heath issues from a “big boy”.

As he shows in the book, he found help in his wife and faith. And admits he is not perfect.

There is a important point about success and values. It is more important to be a well-rounded person than a top rugby player. But we live in a society/world that we only focus in the best, the winner (who takes all) And those are the values we give to kids. As a famous coach said, the result takes care by itself. That means, if you put the work .

You would expect the book would finish in his top achievement but not, if follows with what it is really important to him, make a different in the society. From supporting campaigns against violence to women (and it is not just a problem in SA, we had similar problem in Spain) and setup the kolisifoundation.

The Phoenix Project

I wanted to read this book for some time. I thought it was going to be a technical book but it was a novel and felt like a thriller! and IT thriller if you can believe it. While I was reading it, I felt quite tense at some points, like, “I have been there!”. Although I am not a developer, I felt the pain mentioned in the book. I have been like that I spend many years in a good devops environment. When I started there, I didnt have a clue what devops menat but I learnt on the job training. I wish the networks world could be more “devops” but as we nearly always relay in 3rd party vendors to provide equipment, they always want you to lock in their product. Still, it is possible, but you need to have the drive (and time) and some support from your employer.

One of the things that surprise me from the devops methodology is that is based in manufacturing. I read in the past about Kaizen but now, I can see the connection. One of the main references is the book, The Goal.

And another very important point, nothing of these things work if people are not on board. You can have the smartest people around but if people dont buy in, nothing is accomplished.

So I like the idea of quick iterations (return of investment is received by the company and customer sooner) where you get earlier feedback, interactions and communication between all teams, awareness for the business that IT is everywhere, constant testing/experimentation (chaos monkey, antifragility), kanban boards / flow models to visualize process and constraints (WIP), constant learning, etc.

It was interesting at some point in the book where the main characters where interviewing the top people in the company to gather info about what is important for them and what means successful results and bad days. Then map all that to IT process. From there you can see what is clearly important and what is not. So you can focus in value.

Other things I learned is about the types of work we do:

  • Business projects
  • Internal projects
  • Changes
  • Unplanned work

And that unplanned work is the killer for any attempt to have a process like a manufacturing plant.

As well, based on “The Goal”, there are a lot of mentions about the “Three Ways”:

  • Find your constraint: maximize flow -> reduce batch, reduce intervals, increase quality to detect failures before moving to next steps.
  • Exploit your constraint: fast and constant flow of feedback.
  • Subordinate your constraint: high-trust culture -> dynamic, disciplined and scientific approach to experiment and risks.

In summary, I enjoyed the book. It was engaging, easy to digest and I learned!

Doom

I have never been a hardcore gamer but I remember spending many hours playing DOOM2 in PC. I never played online but I have definitely clear memories of how fast paced was the game and the kind of dark/horror atmosphere. It was quite unique at that time. And to be honest, I didnt feel it was that violent, keeping that I was a teenager and the shooting of Columbine was recent. For the record, I never completed the last phase.

I finish this book about the creators of DOOM and its origins. I had heard about John Carmack from a good friend but I never dag further in the subject so it was interesting to find out about the origins of Carmack and John Romero, how the learned to program and got to create a new culture/wave of games. I like how the games evolved in the book (although it was released in 2004) and nowadays you see how far everything has gone from technology to business size.

I didnt know Carmack was behind all the 3D engines, the evolution of them, the first usage of dedicated 3D graphic cards, etc. I think the last first person shooter I played was “Return to the Castle of Wolfenstein” and it was really good. And this was I managed to finish it. After there was a crazy about playing online that somehow I never got interested. I remember one of the games that hook me at that time was Commandos. What a great series of games was that.

It is interesting how their success was as well later their doom…. they enjoyed working long hours and playing, how the different personalities set them for the stardom. But once money and fame came, things changed and seems all fell apart.

So yes, it was a nice read and good culture fix.

RISC-V

I have been reading this book during my lunch brakes for several month. Most of the times just a couple of pages to be honest as generally my knowledge of CPU architecture is very poor. I really enjoyed this subject in Uni and this book was one of my favourites during that time. It was like a bible of CPU architecture. And Patterson is an author in both books.

I remember that there were too main architectures RISC vs CISC. In a very summarize way, RISC were simple instruction that were easy to parallelized and executed (with more instructions to execute) and CISC were complex instruction (few to execute) but that were difficult to scale. So let’s say simplicity (RISC) “won” the race in CPU architecture.

RISC-V is an open standard so anybody can produce CPUs for executing those instruction. So you can easily get your hands dirty getting a board.

One of the reason of RISC-V is to learn from all the architectures mistakes and provide a design that works for any type of processor (embedded to super-computers), is efficient, modular and stable.

The book compares RISC-V with current ISAS from ARM-32, MIPS-32, Intel x86-32, etc. Based on cost, simplicity, performance , isolation from implementation, room for growth, code size and ease of programming.

There were many parts of the book that I couldn’t really understand but I found the chapter 8 quite interesting. This is about how to compute data concurrently. The best know architecture is Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD). The alternative is Vector architecture. And this is used in RISC-V. The implementation details are too our of my league.

In summary, it was a nice read to refresh a bit my CPU architecture knowledge.