Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Pathological Moseyer Gets a Desk Treadmill

Canada Goose

I love walking at a moseying speed. When my mother-in-law still lived in Port Wing, Wisconsin, I loved to take long walks along a regular route. I’d begin on her street, Kinney Valley Road, walk to Highway 13, head west to Quarry Point Road, mosey down that road to the end, then backtrack and turn on Quarry Road. I’d stop at the Quarry beach where I’d take a little break, then head on to where it ends in town at Washington Avenue. I’d turn in at Sauna Road to find any interesting shorebirds in the sand spits, then head back to Lake View Road, turn in at Beach Road to check out the harbor area, then back on Lake View to Big Pete Road. After reaching the end, I’d backtrack to Washington Avenue, follow it to Highway 13, stop at Johnson’s Store for a Cherry Garcia ice cream bar or a coke, then walk along the highway to Twin Falls Park and to the sewage ponds, then back to Kinney Valley Road and Russ’s mom’s house. 

The entire walk, with all the little turn-ins, was about 12 miles, and took from early in the morning until mid- or late-afternoon. After 10 or 12 miles, I’d be pretty tired if I hadn’t gone on a good walk recently, but it was a happy exhaustion. And it would hardly tire me out at all if I’d been doing regular exercising beforehand.

Something about the rhythmic movement of walking appeals to me. And something about it helps me to magically shake off my worries, focus on happier or more creative things, and have sudden breakthroughs when I’m puzzled by some important element of a project. 

After my heart attack, when I had to do cardiac rehab, I mostly did the treadmill. I could get an excellent workout by setting it at the steepest grade and walking 2.8 miles per hour. It took me a few weeks to work up to that, especially with the grade, what with how weak the heart attack left me for a while, but eventually it became a very comfortable pace, and I could easily read while going that speed. Once I got into my groove, I didn’t try to go any faster—that was speedy enough. It's not like I was in a race. I did notice people in cardiac rehab looking over at my monitor to see how fast I was going and what my incline was. I felt bad when some poor septuagenarian just barely over his heart attack would be trying to beat the speed and incline I'd built up to over a year. Setting goals for ourselves is very important to fully recover from such a thing, but we need to set those goals based on our own body, not anyone else's.

If I were a bird, I’d not be a plover or sandpiper—their quick little legs move much too fast for me. And no way would I be an ostrich—whenever I see one in a zoo or on TV, it’s standing perfectly still or galloping way faster than I could possibly imagine wanting to do, as if its only speeds are 0 and 70. I think if I were a bird, as far as my walking goes, I’d probably be a good old Canada Goose. I wouldn’t mind flying at goose speed—I’ve been up in an Ultralight once, and it was lovely cruising at such a reasonable speed above the tree line, seeing the world as migrating cranes and geese do. And when geese walk, they’re easygoing moseyers just like me, even if they’d find a quicker way to cover 12 miles. 

Operation Migration!
I got to ride in this Ultralight (not when it was leading cranes) in 2001.

The problem with writing about ostriches and plovers, sandpipers and geese is that I’ve spent so much of my life in recent years sitting down to do it. This is neither healthy nor comfortable, and as someone who has now had both a heart attack and breast cancer, consistent exercise is more important than ever for me. So for Christmas, Russ decided a desk treadmill would be the right gift, and my whole family chipped in for it. I’ve set it up as my main writing desk, with my laptop, extra monitor, keyboard, speakers, phone, and all the little things I keep at hand while working. I thought it would take at least a couple of weeks to adjust to it, but for some reason, probably my being a goose-like moseyer, I adapted right away. 

Pip and my desk treadmill
Pip approved! 
My original plan was to shoot for 5,000 steps a day, but the very first day, December 29, I easily hit 7,700 steps. In the five days since then I’ve done from 10,000 to 23,000 steps every day, adding up to almost 30 miles. Desk treadmills don’t incline, and I’m keeping mine at 1.5 miles per hour—faster than that would make writing difficult, and this isn’t supposed to be cardio—moving fast enough to work up a sweat should be done before or after work, or during breaks. I can read during cardio, but can’t write.

I’m having a great time, my legs didn’t get too sore and are fully recovered from that, and I’m focusing well on my work. We have the treadmill set up so I’m facing my window—the worst thing about that is that my mooching squirrels can more easily catch my eye and act pitiful so I’ll hop off and toss them some peanuts. If I buy mealworms for my chickadees this year, that’ll become even more of a distraction. But even going to the window to feed squirrels and chickadees keeps me moving, so it’s no problem. I’m not focused on going faster or longer—I don’t like competing even with myself. I’m just enjoying the journey as I try to keep from sitting down on the job.


My model is the LifeSpan 1200B. Right now I've got a temporary setup. The desktop that came with the treadmill was damaged in transit so I'll be getting a new one next week. Meanwhile, Russ made a makeshift one out of plywood. The real one will be six inches wider on both sides.

And yes, if I started a rock band, I would most assuredly call us the Pathological Moseyers.