Wednesday, May 04, 2016


My 21.2K-step walk this evening involved a radical change: while walking east along the Yangjae-cheon creekside trail, I decided I'd climb every single staircase along the way. Turned out there were ten of them along my chosen path, each about 55-60 steps high, from creek level up to street level. I did all ten, so that's almost 600 steps, just counting the steps as I ascended them. Were I do to every single staircase on both sides of the creek, I'd end up climbing about 23 or 24 separate staircases. If the average number of steps per staircase is about 57.5, and the total number of staircases is 23.5 (because I can't remember whether I'd counted 23 or 24 staircases), then the total number of steps ascended is approximately 1351. That's slightly more than the number of steps I'd be climbing were I climbing up Namsan from the library side of the mountain, starting at Soweol Street. But as I said, I did only the steps while walking east tonight, so my staircase-step count was less than half that total.

Adding the staircases to my walk radically changes my walk's cardio profile: there's a lot more puffing and sweating now, but it's not too awful because the staircases are spaced roughly 150 to 200 meters apart. In reality, they're actually much more bunched up toward the beginning of the eastbound walk, then they become scarce by the time I make my U-turn and walk back west. That said, what had been a mere stroll has now become, as of tonight, a legitimate workout, and it's one I can handle compared to, say, the brutality that is Daemosan (take a look one more time, Dear Reader, at the infinite steps of Daemosan, which I'll be facing again this Saturday... goddammit).

Increased intensity will be good: it'll ramp up my metabolism and help with weight loss. I've tried to keep my diet low-carb ever since I finished my great experiment, but the sad fact is that I've regained a few kilos. I don't see rapid weight loss happening for me unless I plunge into something like a grueling and rigorous Biggest Loser program (and even those programs don't always stick, as this recent article pointed out; the body is always resisting attempts to lose weight because weight loss is anti-entropic). But something like that may be on the horizon as I consider making the move to join a local boxing gym, then maybe re-sign up for taekwondo (there's a dojang in the building where I work).

But tonight's decision to climb the staircases was an important step. I'm happy I did it, and I look forward to climbing up 24 staircases soon.



John Mac said...

Good for you. That's motivation, especially if you are "happy" you did it. I'll sometimes take the tougher route because I know it's for my own good, but that doesn't mean I have to like it!

Good luck with tackling that beast on Saturday. I got tired looking at the photos...

Surprises Aplenty said...

I 'enjoy' climbing stairs in apartment buildings or other tall buildings because I can take the elevator down. When I go up stairs or a mountain, I get tired but I don't hurt. On the descent, my knees begin to throb and heat up. Going up stairs inside is boring and feels more like work than exploration or exercise but I suggest you consider it for the health of your own legs. You might want to set goals with this in mind. Until your are, let's say, 125 kg or less, you only go up and down stairs once a week. Between 120 and 125, twice a week... and reserve other climbs to locations you can be transported down. For example, climb Namsan and take the cable car down. Or find a building with good windows so you can look out as your ascend. As the song says about knees, "You'll miss them when they're gone."

Kevin Kim said...


Thanks for the encouragement.


Thanks for the advice, but... walking up Namsan and cabling it back down?? NEVER! If we walk up the mountain, we must walk back down the mountain! (Besides, Namsan's descent isn't that jarring on the knees if you follow one of the two main bus roads back down the mountain.)

Charles said...

Stairs are the new black, apparently. If only you could figure out how to just do the ascending part (the descent is not so great on the joints).

Also, I think it might be more accurate to say that programs like The Biggest Loser hardly ever stick. According to the charts in that article, only one contestant actually weighs less than before the program six years ago.

Kevin Kim said...


Yes, that was sad to read. The article did, however, seem to dovetail with my own remarks (from my posts re: my "experiment") about metabolism and its influence on weight. What was strange, though, was reading that people's metabolisms went down after they had gone through the Biggest Loser regimen. I would have thought that getting leaner and doing all that exercise would increase one's basal resting metabolic rate, but according to the article, scientists have known for a while about the met-lowering effects of sustained diet and exercise. Obviously, I really don't understand the biology behind metabolism. Time to do some research.

As for just ascending: the best solution would be to go up Namsan's largest set of stairs, then down one of the bus roads which, because of their smooth inclines, are far gentler on the knees. My only problem with doing the steps on Namsan is that the staircase route is the shortest way to the summit: I can huff and puff my way to the top in less than 20 minutes (if the starting point is the library parking lot). Given a choice between the super-intense-but-brief stairs or the slow burn of a bus route, I'd rather pick the bus route because, if I walk that route fast, the incline is just steep enough to get me breathing hard, which is cardio enough.

Charles said...

Yeah, I had read about BMR slowing down with exercise and diet as well. My understanding of it (which is admittedly probably not very good) is that the body adjusts the BMR to become more efficient as caloric output increases and input decreases. This is, apparently, what accounts for plateaus.

That's a good idea re: Namsan. In fact, HJ and I did just that on Sunday. We chose a random path up the mountain--some hiking trail that involved lots of stairs and steep inclines--and then walked down the bus road. If you're really lazy, you could even just take the cable car down.

I can't claim to understand all the cardio stuff, either, but studies have shown that you get more bang for your buck with brief-but-intense interval training than you do with longer, less intensive training. That being said, both are far, far better than just sitting on your butt. And I guess it depends on the individual. If hoofing it up the bus road at a snazzy pace gets your ticker pumping, that might count as intensive.