Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Marching Middle Earth

You just might be a geek if...

One of my favorite podcasts, Fear the Boot, has dedicated their last couple of episodes to "gamer health". I am a prime candidate for needing the talk about the birds, the bees, and the clogged arteries. Not to put too fine of a point on it, but I'm a "tad" out of shape. If you click some of my 'personal' posts, you'll maybe see pics of me, it's a gaming blog, but I still make some cameos. 'Carrying my weight well' is little consolation, I'm 5'6" but weigh in at 220 pounds. If I offend anyone by saying I have a "solid gamer body", sorry.

Let's face it, ours is a most sedentary hobby. We sit for hours painting, we sit for hours playing games, and usually (especially with the latter) we accompany all that sitting around with junk food, soft drinks, and high caloric adult beverages. Not a whole lot of physical activity in gaming. Of course the young have metabolism and time on their hands, married family gamers, not so much. I'm not calling anyone out but myself here. If you're a chubby gamer, great. Also, there's always those who run marathons and 40k tournaments, have six children, and work two full time jobs. That's awesome. Really awesome. That's not me though.

We've got a treadmill in the garage, and it's pretty boring. I mean, it's a freakin' treadmill, come on already. In the winter time there's little other outlet though, you can't go for a jog around the blog when it's thirty degrees and raining. So this week I thought I'd do something. My wife uses the treadmill during the cold months, and she's in shape, so it must work, right? To cure the boredom I heard about something called the Eowyn Challenge...

Basically this author, Karen W. Fonstad of the Middle-Earth Atlas, has painstakingly charted the foot journeys of the heroes in the books. Tolkien was also pretty OCD about these things as well, so Fonstad had good data to work with. She's measured out the distances in miles, and basically you just track your progress compared to the chart. Easy enough, and you have goals and benchmarks to work with. There's a "total miles" number, but also milestones big and small along the way that the characters in the books encountered.

The first trek I'm undergoing is the Hobbiton to Rivendell journey, setting out at a whopping 458 miles. As you can see from the link, some little markers include leaving the front gate of Hobbiton at mile marker one, but get detailed all the way through the list. Mile marker 32 for instance is when Sam and Frodo hide from the Black Rider on the road. These of course have been thoroughly checked and double checked with the novels.

So the bottom line is I'm going to have to get in shape, getting on the treadmill is the best bet right now. Sure I could eat healthier, but where's the fun in that? If I've got to grind through miles anyway, I may as well geek out to boot with some Middle Earth "goals". On the right hand column here on the blog I've added a little mile marker box to track my progress. As you can see I've left Bag End, and am heading south on the lane towards the plank bridge over the water. Okay, I admit, it's not a lot of progress, but it's still a start!

Also I find walking on the treadmill is a good time to listen to podcasts, such as the aforementioned Fear the Boot. Speaking of all those gaming podcasts out there, have you checked out the Minions of the Monster Master yet? If not, you should!


  1. I'll share you pain. I'm 6' and 290. I am also one of those guys who carries it well but, approaching 40 and with a wife and kids, I become increasingly aware (and am reminded) of how my weight and general health are going to come back to bite me in the butt if I don't make changes.

    The MArch is a great idea. Putting a fun spin on exorcise and a gamer-friendly challenge to it is a great motivator. When my wife and I tried Weight Watchers, I had great fun with it.

    "You just gave me a points systetm to min/max." I told her :)


  2. I lived in the US for three years or so, and I ballooned to the point that my green card picture looks like someone else. Almost as soon as I moved back to Britain, it dropped off, so I'd guess it's something to do with the food. The portions probably.

    I found it horrifying to see the junk food consumed by my gaming group, so I make a point to bring a big bag of grapes and a box of chopped carrots to every game. I find that what gamers like is to have something to graze on, and it actually doesn't matter if that's chips or chopped veg. I suspect it's more to do with the tactile element than anything else.

    Even with all that, I could probably do with some more exercise.

  3. My wife has me using the Wii Fit which actually has been a great deal of fun. I get to pretend bicycle, skateboard, hulahoop and do step aerobics. Then we also have a stationary bike and a few other odds and ends at home for working out. I am 6'2" and 224. I think it will be fun when I shout "I'm almost to Uncle Bilbo's" from the bike later tonight. :) Great podcast btw and also this leads me to another thing which I am considering is a podcast of general gamer talk using the blogtalk radio and allowing people to call in, discuss, etc. I'll let you know more as that develops.

  4. @Eli: We're in the same boat you and I. Not just to you, but anyone, I finished the second Fear the Boot podcast (while on the treadmill) and they had some very insightful comments that stayed applicable to the gaming table as well, I recommend it.

    @kelvingreen: Portions for sure, but the ease of availability to acquire junk food is right around every corner too. Around the game table you're right, it's grazing, just something to do, you're not even hungry. My group and I bring tens of thousands of calories to each session, I'm sure.

    @ACGen: You're not the first Wii Fit advocate I've heard from. I don't have a Wii, but it looks like a fun way to do something physical. I'll have to shout, "Come on Brandywine Bridge!". I love your idea of blogtalk radio, keep me posted...

  5. dudes, I am 6 6 at 204. I run 3 times a week on the treadmill, usually 3 miles in a half an hour or so.
    Pushing 41 with two kids and two jobs, I HAVE to stay fit so I can be up late to paint and blog. I rarely go to bed before 12 and get up every day at 6.45 (damn kids)
    I love the modeling so much that running on the mill is totally worth the result; "happier-fitter-more productive"
    says Thom Yorke

    Love that atlas, have had it for years and I am taking it out right now.

    Mik, love your posts

    Santa Cruz Warhammer