Archive for August, 2014

When you’re struggling with motivation, use this awesome no-excuse planning trick

| August 31, 2014 | 0 Comments


We all struggle with motivation from time to time, and when we’re on the fence it’s easy to talk ourselves out of doing something.

We may spend more time thinking about whether to do something, or exactly how we should do it, than we actually spend doing it. For example, if we’re thinking about going for a hike, we might get up early and then do some ruminating about exactly where to go and which route to take. After an hour of that, we might decide that we’ve now missed our early morning window for a hike so we do something easier instead.

In this article, we’ll look at a great technique for turning thinking about it into actually doing it. It involves pre-planning your activities so the decision-making is done ahead of time. Having the decisions already made lowers the barrier for doing the activity. And, no matter how little time you have, there will always be something that you can do.

It works like this.

Step 1

Write a list of some fitness activities that you can do in 10 minutes.

Step 2

Go back over your list and make each one very specific. So, instead of writing, "Do some stretching" write, "Do two sets of the 10-stretch routine from my stretching book".

It’s really important to make each one very specific because that eliminates any decision-making before you can do the activity.

Here’s how you would write your list of activities.

In 10 minutes I can:

  • Do three sets of push-ups and ab crunches
  • Do two sets of the 10-stretch routine from my stretching book while listening to streaming relaxation music
  • Do three 3-minute sets of Jump roping in the backyard

Step 3

Repeat this for different amounts of available time. If you do this, no matter how much time you have, there will always be something on the list that you can do. For example:

In 30 minutes I can:

  • Run this route around my neighborhood: Daley St – Chestnut Drive – Sierra Street – Courtould Road – Surrey Street
  • Follow the floor workout in this YouTube video <URL of video>
  • Bike to the local coffee shop on Tuesday to meet my friends instead of driving

In 1 hour I can…

  • Use the gym at work and do two sets of the exercises on page 47 of my  Basic Conditioning  book

In 2 hours I can…

  • Take the cardio class at Pete’s Gym (Mon, Wed, Thur 7pm)
  • Load my mountain bike into the car, drive to Gossamer Trail, ride the 10 mile loop around Fig Reservoir, drive home

In 4 hours I can…

  • Drive to Castle State Park, hike the Sunset Peak Loop Trail, drive home

In 8 hours I can…

  • Drive to Henry Fir Park, cross-country ski from Sitka Lodge to Pine Ridge and back, drive home

Step 4

For each item on your list, break down the entry barrier to doing the activity by identifying and eliminating any dependencies.

For example, if you really need your yoga mat before you can stretch, but it’s in the garage and needs to be cleaned, take 10 minutes to get it out of the garage, wipe it down, and put it near where you’d do the stretching. Then find your stretching book and put it next to the mat. You could even put a timer there set for 10 minutes. You’re not actually going to do the exercise today so you don’t have to deal with the fear of doing the exercise. But now, the barrier for actually doing it is very low and tomorrow it’ll be a lot easier to walk over to the mat, hit the timer button, and go.

You can prepare for a 4-hour hike the same way. Pick a destination, write down your route and put it in your backpack. Load everything else that you would need into your pack, including food and water. The next time you have a spare 4 hours, there’s no excuse. All you have to do is pick up your backpack and go.

By pre-planning a variety of activities when you’re not feeling very motivated to actually do them, it will help you lower your resistance to getting started. Then, like magic, the more you get out there and the more positive feedback you get from your results, the easier it will be keep doing it.

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Photo credits: Mark Beresford

Why not multitask exercise? Here’s one creative example

| August 31, 2014 | 0 Comments

urbanwalk-1We can’t always be out on the trail, but with some creative thinking there are ways to combine exercise with other interests that bring us double the benefit.

British street photographer, Chris Porsz has been doing just this for decades. While taking regular 10-mile urban walks and snapping photos of people along the way, he’s built up a portfolio that now has local historical significance. Through his photographs, we see how the people and town of Peterborough have changed in the last 30 years. And to make it even more fascinating, Chris has been organizing re-unions of the groups of people he took pictures of in the 1980’s.

Just one example of how to multitask exercise

You can learn more about Chris and his urban street photography hikes in this video and on his website.

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Here’s a fun idea for a new fitness goal – the Warrior Dash

| August 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

If you’re looking for some fun and adventure, while also helping others in need, why not do a Warrior Dash?

Warrior Dash is the world’s largest obstacle race series and is held on more than 50 challenging and rugged terrains across the world. Participants will bound over fire, trudge through mud and scale over 12 obstacles during this fierce 5K. After pushing their limits and conquering extreme obstacles, Warriors celebrate with live music, Warrior grub and beer steins.

For more information, visit

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How your GPS can get you lost – and how you can prevent it

| August 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

OutdoorPeople-1Your handheld GPS receiver can give you your location with incredible accuracy. However, if you don’t understand how to set it up it could also get you lost.

In this article, we’ll look at the effect of selecting the wrong map datum in your GPS receiver’s settings and show you how to ensure that you don’t get lost because of it. You don’t need to understand what a map datum is to use your GPS receiver, so we’ll be steering clear of the technical theory.

How big a difference can it make?

If you choose the wrong map datum, you could be a long way from where you think you are. Using the following map as an example, your GPS receiver could tell you that you’re on a trail located at the bottom red dot when really you’re over 1km away at the top red dot. In this situation you would become utterly confused because your location on the map wouldn’t match what you see around you.


Prove it to yourself now

If you follow this exercise, it will show you how we arrived at the red dots on the map shown above, and help you to learn the importance of selecting the right map datum.

  1. Turn on your GPS receiver and wait to get a signal.
  2. Make sure it is set up to display a grid position format and not a longitude/latitude position format.
  3. Longitude/latitude formats start with hddd…

    For example, the Garmin eTrex Vista HCx has three longitude/latitude position formats shown as the first three rows in this screenshot.


    All the other choices are grid position formats.

    The sequence of button pushes used to change the grid position format varies by brand and model of GPS receiver. On a Garmin eTrex 10 it’s in the settings > Position Format page, and on a Garmin eTrex Vista it’s on the Setup > Units page.

  4. Draw a table like the one shown below and enter the position coordinates that your GPS is displaying on the main page.
  5. Datum First number Second number
     0594320  4130719
  6. In your settings, look at which map datum you currently have selected and write it in the table. In this example it’s WGS 84.
  7. GarminSetup

    Datum First number Second number
    WGS 84 0594320 4130719
  8. One-by-one, change the map datum that you have selected and write in the new coordinates that are displayed. The table below shows coordinates for seven example map datums.
  9. Datum First number Second number
    WGS 84 0674320 4430719
    Arc 1950 0674390 4431090
    Austria 0673856 4429630
    Guam 1963 0674274 4430698
    Indonesia 74 0674331 4430727
    Tokyo 0674681 4429513
    RT 90 0673873 4429649
  10. For the First number column find the largest number and subtract the smallest number.
  11. 0674681 – 0673856 = 825

  12. Repeat for the Second number column.
  13. 4430727 – 4429513 = 1214

What these numbers mean

The number pairs that you wrote down show your location in meters from a known reference point. The first number of the pair is your distance east of the reference point and the second number is your distance north of the reference point.

Subtracting the small number from the large number shows the variation in distance you can get when selecting a datum in your GPS receiver that’s different from the datum that your map uses.

In our example the distance varied by as much as 825 meters in an east-west direction and 1214 meters in a north-south direction. Now, this is not exactly correct because the example picks the biggest difference in each direction so it’s the worst possible case for each axis. Also, I wasn’t actually at the location shown in the map above and that map doesn’t use any of the datums in the example. But, it still gives you an idea of the magnitude of the distance that you could be off — hopefully enough to convince you that map datums are important.

At this point you might be thinking, “How can your position be different when you were sitting in the same place?” The answer is because each map datum uses a slightly different mathematical model for the shape of the earth and the grid will be placed on the map differently depending on which one is used. For you to locate your position accurately, your map and GPS receiver must be using the same mathematical model of the earth.

How do you know which datum to select?

Now that you know how important it is to select the correct map datum, you need to know how to find which datum to select.

If you have a decent topographic map, the datum will be written somewhere on the map. See if you can find the datum information for the following four maps.

This is from a US Tom Harrison map, my favorite brand of US map:


This is from a UK Ordnance Survey map that is written in English and Welsh:


This is from a United States USGS map:


And this is from a French map:


The answers are:

  1. NAD27, written as 1927 North American datum
  2. (OSGB) 1936 Datum, which would be selected on a Garmin receiver as British Grid
  3. NAD27 and NAD83. This is interesting because this type of map doesn’t have any grid lines on it. It has tick marks at the edge of the map so if you want a grid you have to draw it yourself. It actually has tick marks for two different map datums so you can pick the one you want to use.
  4. WGS84

You can see from these examples that it isn’t always obvious which datum to use. Someone new to navigation may see the words 1927 North American datum without knowing that this says the map was created using the datum NAD27. Becoming familiar with the names of the most commonly used datums will help a lot.

How to make sure you don’t get lost

Now we’ve arrived at the most important part of this article — how to make sure you don’t get lost because you have the wrong map datum selected. There are two steps:

  1. Before you leave your house for an outdoor adventure, review the map you will be using and set the datum on your GPS receiver to match.
  2. Verify your position at the trailhead.
  3. To verify your position at the trailhead, get the coordinates from your GPS receiver and plot them on your map. If the coordinates don’t place you where you think you are, either your selected map datum is wrong or you’re not where you think you are. To avoid getting lost, don’t move off until your map matches your receiver.

For more terrific articles about navigation, see:

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