A good year despite lockdowns and injuries. Some strong running, some new hobbies, a good smattering of projects, a new role at work, and in general just feeling pretty good about life.
- Read a book (see my reading list for the year).
- 60s plank.
- 10 push-ups.
- Anki cards.
- Aural trainer.
- Gratitude journal.
These were my every day habits. Both plank and push ups fell off the wagon through injuries. Plank is back as of the last month, push ups not so much.
I’ve been using Functional Ear Trainer all year, starting with the basic training and now on Not-C Major chromatic melodic dictation. Coming off a base of “pretty good at identifying ascending intervals”, my ear has definitely improved. But I’ve resented the process (and also plateaued) the past quarter and am looking forward to a break. I know to improve further I need to work on vocalising and singing, but am not currently motivated to do so.
For Anki, the Geography deck I learned last year provides approximately 3 cards a day. Interestingly, I’m still only sitting at 90% accuracy for mature cards, which has been flat all year. This suggests I’ve found my upper limit using this technique. In the last month I’ve added the NATO phonetic alphabet and a well designed deck for the periodic table which includes visual aids. The phonetic alphabet is a small deck which I basically already knew and so was absorbed quickly. The elements I’m currently mid-way through learning.
At the end of the day I write down three things I did well and three things I’m grateful for. I started this practice in February and have kept at it since. In addition to the in-the-moment cultivation of gratefulness, it’s been nice to review at the end of the year as well. It’s been suggested that I should also reflect on what I could have done better, but I didn’t feel that habit of thought needed further reinforcement, and isn’t really the point of a gratitude exercise.
Other habits I tried for a couple of months here and there include:
- No algorithmically recommended content. I defined this to include my Youtube subscriptions, so in practice this meant no Twitter, Tiktok, or Youtube. I did this for a month and it was a refreshing reset.
- No alcohol. This happened mostly by accident as my training ramped up but is now going on about 3 months, with one deliberate “test exemption” after the first month. An explosion in the availability of quality alcohol free beers certainly helped here.
A new habit I’m trialing for January is cold showers, or more specifically “some portion of shower must be cold”. Various physical and mental benefits are claimed but none with particularly rigorous support. Seems like a fun one to try.
Another new habit for this year is “yoga once a week”. Running exacerbates a my general lack of flexibility (something my physio has confirmed multiple times), and I’ve wanted to incorporate yoga for a while but never made it fit. My new gym offers classes and if I can get to one a week that will be good progress.
Last year I decided I was going to play hockey again, but the ongoing pandemic and some poorly timed injuries meant the season was disrupted and I didn’t get much of a go at it. All up I played three games for Hawthorn: two for the Monday night Open team and one for Pennant C.
Despite that, I had fun and I’m glad I followed through on giving it a go. I’m unsure whether I’ll try again next season — will depend where my running and climbing are at.
My brother came to visit at the start of December and we went to the local bouldering gym together. I kept going after he left. I’ve been through short climbing phases before so it’s not a new sport for me, but I’m enjoying rediscovering it. Particularly since the gym is practically next door!
I’m currently able to climb most of the green and orange routes in the gym. They’re not standardised, and it has been a long time since I climbed anything graded, but I suspect they would be in the V2/3 range.
The gym also has yoga classes and free weights, both of which I intend to take advantage of.
It’s been a trail-y year. In fact this is the first year I haven’t done any road races in a very long time. I spent the first part of the year training up for the Lumberjack 50k at the start of March, which I got a coach for. As a result this was probably the strongest I’ve felt over the distance, even though I still didn’t eat or drink enough.
Hockey started up the very next week, so my running mileage dropped into maintenance, with a few extended absences due to (unrelated) injury and sickness.
Post-season I started base building again mid-August with about six weeks of ~50K before getting stuck into workouts and 70K+ at the end of September.
Melbourne cup weekend was our first time allowed outside the city in months, so I took advantage by heading up to Bright for a 50K up Mt Buffalo day one followed by ascents of Bogong and Feathertop on subsequent days — I did a separate write-up of that.
Hunter workouts started up again beginning of November and I continued training solidly, though not for anything in particular. Just getting on the trails whenever I could.
I was on leave from work for most of December, during which I did a lot of running in the north Grampians and also visited Langi Ghiran and Mount Buangor. I rounded out the year with a 60K along the coast in Portland.
Even though I was attempting to play hockey during the winter, my overall mileage for the year (2,586K) was still pretty high relative to previous years (2800K last year was my equal most). This was surprising, though I suppose the longer trail efforts add up quickly.
As foreshadowed last year, I switched to the Brooks Hyperion Tempo for my road training and fell in love. Definitely going to be getting another pair, and after many years I’m finally breaking up with the Brooks Levitate 2. I continued using the Saucony Peregine 8 for trails and wore them into the ground — over 1000K on them and the stitching finally gave out. Great shoe. Unfortunately I didn’t like the newer model (11) and so for the last month have been running in Solomon’s S/Lab Ultra 3 which seem promising.
This was the year I got comfortable with 50K. While I still have a lot to learn racing it, I’m now confident I can get around the distance and time in training with appropriate pacing and fueling to not wreck myself.
I more motivated at the moment by running new routes rather than racing. This coming year I’ve signed up for the Great Southern Stage Run in November — 210K over 3 days along the Bibbulmun Track in Albany, WA. Before then I need to qualify, which will likely need to be a 100K which I haven’t done before. Many more trails are in my future!
Another six vlogs and jams continuing to experiment with sound synthesis and digital music, but didn’t really follow through on any momentum from last year. In particular, didn’t make use of much hardware.
Five recorded piano pieces. Two movements from Haydn Piano Sonatas, a Chopin waltz, one of Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words, and a ripping prelude from Scriabin. The first three were the same I was almost ready to record at the end of last year, but another injury meant I had to build them back up for a third time to record them.
- Made a surprisingly popular tutorial for spaceship automation in the Space Exploration mod for Factorio.
- Upgraded my Vitamin VCV Rack modules to version 2.
- Made Peaky Finders, an app to detect and track summits automatically from Strava activities, using OpenStreetMap data.
- A Haskell prototype of a tool to programatically transform mathematical expressions by applying axioms.
- A Haskell simulation of a simplified model of Factorio’s circuit network to help validate some logistics designs.
- Factorio. Completed a marathon deathworld (~50h) and the Space Exploration mod (~225h). These were both very rewarding, and showed up frequently in my end of day joy lists.
- Slay the Spire. All achievements. Already had about half of them from just general playing last year, biggest part of this was getting to A20 which meant getting a lot better at the game. Enjoyed and played Defect the most. I also sunk a few hours into The Animator mod, which had some fun new mechanics but I never quite learned it enough to get into it. Not knowing any of the source material didn’t help…
- Dice Legacy. Only spent a few hours with this and didn’t find a lot of replayability, but it was enjoyable while it lasted and the idea felt novel. Was pretty early access when I tried it, there is a lot more content now.
- Nova Drift. Again only spent a few hours and it’s early access, but it was surprisingly gripping for the type of game it is (…2D one-screen space shooter rogue like?)
- Dyson Sphere Program. This was still pretty early access when I tried it and I abandoned my run in the late game after ~40h because it became a bit too grindy. It was a lot of fun up until that point though, and they’ve done a lot of work on that part of the game since. Really liked the aesthetic.
I became interested in mathematics again this year, and have been slowly working through Neil Sainsbury’s recommendations for self-study. I watched the same online course he started with (Calculus: Single Variable), worked through An Introduction to Mathematical Reasoning, and am currently half way through Spivak’s Calculus. This last one is quite a tome and is probably a bit hard for me, but I’m enjoying it nonetheless.
OK so this isn’t really a project, but I did watch quite a lot of the games:
- Every Australian hockey match, and a fair few of the others.
Most of the men’s weightlifting finals, which were surprisingly compelling. Particularly the 109kg+ division, which included the most dominant performance I’ve seen in any sport, ever, from Lasha Talakhadze.
He only comes out on stage when everyone else has finished lifting, the last of them invariably failing at a final weight well below the one he opens with.
- Climbing. I have Opinions about the scoring, and the editing was terrible, but was fun to see.
- Middle distance track finals and the marathon. In the mens it was great to see Kipchoge comfortably pick up the gold, but the struggle for the rest of the podium came right down to the line.
I transitioned into the CEO role at Ferocia (the company behind Up) at the beginning of September, after the sale of the company to Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. As part of that I got the opportunity to do some formal media training which I was then able to put to use through a number of press interviews. Despite the continued trials of the pandemic it’s been a cracking year for us and I’m excited to carry that momentum into the coming year.