February 1, 2022

Photo of Christopher Blakeslee while bouldering in January 2022

Here is my January 2022 health update! This is a short post after covering so much territory in my extensive fifth recovery anniversary health update on January 16th. Still, I experienced more much-appreciated improvements!

Starting the Year

January was a busy month of work and exercise. I had intended to take the first week of the year off for vacation but found myself reluctant to do so. Curious about the feeling, I introspected about it. I determined that a main reason I didn’t want time off is that I have gotten into a groove with my work. I love every part of my job: working with others, writing to help others speed up their health recovery stories, and making videos.

Related to this feeling, late January marked the first anniversary of launching my business. I have gotten much more efficient at running the company and more effective in honing my skills to help others. Realizing this excited me further to keep doing all that I can to keep helping others with their chronic health problems and pain and continue improving my methods. After this reflection, I only took a day off and then dived into my year review and plan so I could get back to work!

Pain

I had another 17 days with time without pain. There is now a definitive causal connection: exercising makes me feel better. My pain vanished during every weightlifting session in the second half of the month! This development has me well on track for my new goal of having half of my days have time without pain this year!

Weightlifting

I’m the strongest I’ve ever been. I have exceeded all the record weights I listed on January 16th and see no sign of slowing down. I progressed three times on each of my eleven lifts.

Running

There were a couple of developments here. First, I began fasted jogging on January 4th. It seems to have sped up my fat loss. Second, I set two new running records. On the last day of the month, I ran my fastest mile yet. It took me 7:25. More impressively, I pushed myself to keep going during the session and completed a 5k (3.1 miles) in 25:27. That’s an improvement of four seconds on the mile and 2 minutes and 45 seconds on the 5k over last month! It also ranks me better than novice on both distances! That’s fine progress in just one month toward my year goal of a 23:02 5k. Also of note, I seem to be recovering well with only needing a day off from strenuous running.

To start building in some daily step reduction per my yearly goal of reducing to 8,000 daily steps, I took my first day off from walking at least five miles in thirteen months. Surprisingly, it didn’t help with workout recovery or make me feel any better or worse. Nevertheless, it’s something I’ll keep experimenting with to free up more time each day.

Two Bouldering Sessions in Four Days

This month featured a new first for me: two bouldering trips in four days! My hands are hamburger after such a short recovery time between these workouts. I usually go a month between sessions. I lost a lot of hide on my hands and ended up with several bandages. Fortunately, it didn’t hurt much and healed quickly. My muscles recovered very well each time, despite going until failure during the second session. This year, my focus is on doing more difficult walls in the green, purple, and orange colors rather than sheer quantity of lower-difficulty yellow and red walls. The green, purple, and orange walls I did are in the difficulty range of V1-3. In all my prior months, I was only climbing V0-2 walls.

Photo of Bouldering Difficulty V Scale for Christopher Blakeslee's February 2022 Health Update

During the first trip, I did my first orange wall! I also did two purples, seven greens, nine reds, and two yellows. The second time around, I completed two purples, six greens, seven reds, and five yellows.

I spent one-third of my time on a single diagonal wall during the second session, which I couldn’t complete. My failure came on the last move. I couldn’t quite hold onto the final grip on the path despite trying around a dozen times. It had two small holes, just large enough to secure a hold with a couple of fingers from each hand. My failure came from trying to lead with my left hand. That arm is a bit weaker than my right. I think I could’ve succeeded despite it being a more difficult angle if I’d led with my right arm. I should’ve been taking my body composition into account rather than the ideal way to complete the move.

It was a little frustrating not to complete the wall, but I learned some valuable lessons from the attempts. First, a fellow climber taught me that I was wasting a lot of energy by keeping my muscles taut the whole time during a climb. I typically burn out by the end of a route because my inclination is never to stop working my muscles against gravity, so I have no chance to fall. This point became obvious to me watching others after it was brought to my attention, and I watched other climbers go into positions of rest many times while they were climbing. Second, I realized that I was not tightening my core enough, which caused my body to dangle further from the walls. Even just a few inches further away from a wall wastes energy and gets one into disadvantageous positions for moves.

Thinking about what I learned from the failures and still getting plenty of good exercise from trying kept me focused on progress. I wasn’t the least bit cranky after the session.

See the adjacent video of the lengthiest moderate difficulty wall I’ve done to this point in my first year of bouldering. I completed it on my first try!

Most importantly, I had no increase in nerve pain either time I went bouldering, and I became pain-free during each session! Surprisingly, I had time without pain each day afterward, too, continuing the trend from December when I changed up my recovery strategy.

February

That’s a wrap for my January 2022 health update! I look forward to seeing you all in my February health update. Also, be on the lookout for some new content from me coming out soon. There will be several new videos and my second appearance on The Natural Evolution podcast!