Charlie's Blog: April 2024


Walking Versus Rucking

DISCLAIMER: I am not a physician, healthcare professional, or personal trainer. Consult with professionals before beginning any fitness program.

Load weight is the biggest risk factor when rucking. Studies suggest carrying loads equal to 10% of body weight (approximately 20lbs) is enough to significantly increase the risk of musculoskeletal injuries. Soldiers in the army routinely ruck with 80 to 50lbs. Subsequent declines in performance are acknowledged but, in a combat scenario, transporting such weight may be a realistic prospect. Research has determined four rucks per month to be the optimal frequency for soldiers’ efficiency and improvement. Additional marches are likely to negatively affect performance and increase the risk of foot, ankle and lower leg injuries.

This quotation alone is enough to settle any debate about walking versus rucking. It also comes from an advocate for rucking as a fitness activity. I don't think rucking is worth the increased injury risk relative to plain vanilla walking. I think rucking is better than running when it comes to injuries, but it isn't better than walking. I can walk every single day versus the four times per month that you can ruck optimally according to the research.

The advice for preventing rucking injuries comes down to conditioning and equipment. You are advised to build up gradually with rucking. You are also advised to get expensive backpacks and special boots. I am a cheapskate, so I am not interested in activities that require special and expensive gear. Additionally, you will find many more websites and YouTube channels for rucking than for walking which fits with my thesis concerning products and activities. More gear produces more marketing and more media.

Rucking has a utilitarian argument that I will not dispute. It will condition you to carry loads for the military, hiking, or just lugging a backpack in your everyday life. I am a backpack guy except I don't carry the types of loads for the extended mileage that is common to rucking. I find that the easiest way to train for a thing is to actually do the thing you are training to do. This would be hiking or lugging books to class instead of rucking. You don't need to ruck with a 100 lb. load for 20 miles to be able to carry 20 lbs. of books from your car to your classroom. But if you are a "ground pounder" in the military, those rucks are vital necessities.

Simple walking is sufficient to improve health and fitness with a low risk of injury. If you want to increase the exercise, your best options are to walk more briskly and for greater distance. Some people add hills or walk treadmills set on an incline.

I will dig into the math of walking versus rucking using the Calories Burned Calculator. I cannot attest to the accuracy of the calculator, but it is what I have used to arrive at these figures. The Gentle Reader is now informed.

If a 150 lb. man walks at 3 mph for 1 hour, he will burn 208 calories. If you add 100 lbs. to that, he will burn 339 calories. 100 lbs. is a heavy load, but some people in the rucking community actually carry this load. Here's the thing. That 150 lb. man could eschew the rucksack and walk one additional hour to burn 415 calories. Walking further burns more calories than walking with heavier weight. Is saving that hour worth the injury risk of carrying the heavier load?

What happens when the 150 lb. man walks at 4 mph for an hour? He will burn 336 calories which is just 3 shy if he had lugged the 100 lb. rucksack at 3 mph for an hour. Walking faster gets it done without an increase in the risk of injury.

What is the takeaway from this? If you want to burn more calories, walk farther and walk faster. This is a better way than rucking. Naturally, you will hear claims that rucking burns 2 to 3 times more calories than walking. I think these claims are bogus. This would mean that 1 hour of rucking would be equal to 2 to 3 hours of walking. My calculator doesn't agree. But that bogus claim sells more product. The only way it would be legit is if you carried double or triple your current body weight. Who does this?

Rucking also makes the claim of enhancing strength. I tend to agree. What also enhances strength is dedicated strength training. I think exercising those areas you want to improve would be better than risking injuries with rucking. You may even want to do that strength training before you begin a rucking program.

I don't see rucking as being worth the increased injury risk. It's the same argument I make with running. If you can get the same results with less risk of injury, that's the way to go. Walking does that for you. As it stands, rucking with light weight isn't worth the time while rucking with heavy weight isn't worth the risk of injury.

UPDATE #1: I came across this video on YouTube about weighted walking:

I walked w/ a weighted vest for 30 days – what to avoid

I like videos where people experiment with things and give an honest appraisal of the experience. In this video, the presenter wore a 30 lb. weighted vest while walking. She seemed to enjoy it at first until the vest became painful and uncomfortable for her shoulders. Naturally, she blamed the vest and decided that a weighted belt would be better. I think going without additional weight is the better way to go. Just do plain vanilla walking and dedicated strength training.

UPDATE #2: The big injury area for runners are the knees. That pounding takes a toll. With rucking, the big injury area is the back. I see many discussions about back pain and injuries related to rucking. Rucking advocates stress weight distribution and better equipment which sounds like runners with their expensive shoes.

This was a helpful article:

Is Rucking Bad For Your Back

When I read articles like this, they remind me of the fine print in a contract. You usually find out the negatives after you have signed the paperwork. With rucking, shoulder pain and back pain are common. One of the recommendations was wearing a weight vest instead of a pack like the lady did in Update #1. The vest didn't do her any good.

Why risk these injuries? Rucking lost me at "compression nerve injury." Once again, save your back and just do plain vanilla walking.


Sensibility Applied to the Spiritual Dimension

A sensible mind is a medium mind which is neither too great nor too little.

My accident and my injuries gave me a gift. This was the gift of sensibility. Before my accident, I was very hard on myself. I was a failure in my own eyes, and I thought the way to remedy this failure was to try harder. This meant going to extremes. I was an extremist. After the accident, I had to come off of that extremism. I had to go easy on myself. Sensibility replaced my extremism, and I learned that I do not have to be superhuman. I just need to be me. This means being consistent on modest goals instead of being inconsistent on extreme goals. That is the heart of sensibility.

I apply sensibility to everything I do now. This includes my life as a Roman Catholic. People go to extremes in their spiritual practices, but this extremism doesn't produce the fruit of sanctity and holiness. Extremism just feeds the pride and vanity of the individual. This vanity is antithetical to holiness. Realizing this, I have used sensibility to chart a different path under the inspiration of Saint Francis de Sales.

1. Cults

It will come as a newsflash that there are cults in the Roman Catholic Church. These cults exist because the lay faithful pewsitters feel that something is missing, and they would be correct. Vatican II and the Novus Ordo liturgy have worked to water down and diminish the faith. The antidote is a return to what things were like pre-Vatican II. Instead, cults promise to fill what is missing in parish life and personal devotions. One of these cults is Opus Dei. There are others.

I reject these cults now and follow the path of Saint Francis de Sales in his brilliant book, Introduction to the Devout Life. Nothing that Josemaria Escriva said, wrote, or thought compares to what is in the writings of Saint Francis de Sales. Escriva is a counterfeit saint while Saint Francis de Sales was the genuine thing. You don't need a cult to become holy. Everything you need is there in your parish and in the time honored writings and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. You don't need anything special or extra to become holy and devout. You just need to use what God has already given you.

2. Labels

The only label I care to have now is "Roman Catholic." I don't care about "traditionalist," "conservative", or "modernist" except as adjectives for certain strains of thought within Catholicism. The reality is that these labels create camps that each have errors. A great example would be trads who see a couple with less than 10 kids and assume that they must be on the Pill. I assume those trads are on the dole.

The vast majority of Roman Catholics do not attend the Traditional Latin Mass. Attendance at the TLM is sort of a requirement to be considered a trad. I am not driving more than an hour each weekend to get to a TLM, and I am not moving. I looked into this and considered moving to be closer to the TLM. Now, the TLM is on the verge of being cancelled everywhere except SSPX chapels. It is a moving target that you are unlikely to hit for very long.

I need valid sacraments. A reverent liturgy is a bonus but unnecessary to receive the graces of those sacraments. My top preference is for the TLM. My second preference is a reverent Novus Ordo. Trads would rather deprive themselves of the sacraments than receive them at a Novus Ordo Mass. At this stage, these folks care more for the purity of their label than the practice of their faith.

I am not playing the label game anymore. God in His providence and through Cardinal Ottaviani preserved the validity of our sacraments in the Novus Ordo. Because of this, I will continue to receive those sacraments where they are available. The TLM will have to come to me now. Until then, I do the best I can with what I have where I am at. I am a Roman Catholic. I don't need additional qualifiers to that label.

3. Devotions

There are more devotions in the Catholic Church than I can count along with sacramentals. I think they all have value, but I think it is extreme and foolish to try and have them all. I limit myself to the basic ones like the Rosary, the Angelus, the Brown Scapular, the Sacred Heart Litany, and wearing a Franciscan tau cross. My strategy is to practice a few devotions consistently than many devotions inconsistently.

When it comes to my prayers, I don't even try to pray the Divine Office. I leave that to priests and religious. I don't know how a layperson can pray the Office and hold down a day job or tend to a family. I may revisit this in the future.

I have added the prayers of the Auxilium Christianorum to my routine. This has been in response to the demonic attacks in my life. Those prayers have been a real blessing to my wife and me.

I think you can add additional prayers and devotions if they have particular value to you. My rule is to only do those things you can perform on a consistent basis. Right now, I am at my maximum for me. Do the basics and add the extras as needed.

4. Mortifications

I had a keen interest for awhile in corporal mortification practices. Now, I think they should be reserved to priests and religious under spiritual direction. The fact is that normal life has enough mortification to endure all by itself. I think priests and religious need mortification practices because they are insulated from the world in much the same way that an office worker needs to hit the gym while a farmer doesn't.

My mortifications are trying to recover from a traumatic brain injury, do my chores under my present limitations, and endure the usual calamities that life throws at all of us. When I compare my sufferings to the mortifications of monks, I think I have endured more than a simple hairshirt or discipline can deliver.

5. Works

I attend a parish that is part of what I call the "Church of Ceaseless Activity." This comes from the modernists and semi-modernists who would like to turn the Catholic Church into an NGO. Their good works amount to raising money for Marxism and illegal immigration, and I have to endure the pitches each weekend at Mass.

I take inspiration from Saint Therese of Lisieux aka the "Little Flower" who yearned to be a foreign missionary and do spectacular things for God. Instead, she had to forge her Little Way. Therese never became a missionary or a martyr. She never left her monastery. She was a nobody except for her autobiography which has inspired many to live holy lives despite being nobodies themselves.

The Little Way fits perfectly into the teachings of Saint Francis de Sales. The Church of Ceaseless Activity believes in neither the great way of a Saint Francis Xavier or the Little Way of Saint Therese. It strips supernatural faith and love from its works and turns to worldly cares and honors. I have had my fill of it.

I focus on doing my little works for God. I don't go into details about this stuff because they are small and done for the Lord. I am never going to build an orphanage or a hospital, but I can do other things relative to where I am. I am no philanthropist. I am just a blue collar working class Roman Catholic.


I know what I need to do and where I need to go on these things. I am not perfect, but I am trying. That's all that any of us can do. I have simply stepped back from extreme ways and come up for air on this stuff. As I said, it is better to be consistent in the modest things than inconsistent on the great things. This is how I apply sensibility to the spiritual dimension of my life.


The 2 Excuses People Give For Not Walking For Fitness

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, healthcare professional, or personal trainer. Consult with professionals before beginning any exercise program.

It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.

I hear and read very few excuses given for not walking for fitness. If you physically cannot walk, that is a good reason for not walking. I was there once and had to do physical therapy to be able to walk like a normal person again. I know a lady who had an arthritic hip that made walking impossible. I know a veteran from the Army Airborne who has damaged knees who rides a bicycle instead of walking. These are reasons for not walking for fitness. Everyone else has an excuse, and they come in 2 categories.

1. Walking is too easy.

There are people who will tell you that walking is not exercise. I had that mentality for a long time seeing walking as merely the way to transition to running. Walking was a second class activity for soccer moms and old ladies at the mall. Something that easy just couldn't count as exercise.

I have been walking for a couple of years now, and I can tell you that walking is definitely exercise. I have logged more mileage walking than I ever did running. I have lost weight. It makes me feel good. I realized that I had wasted a good part of my life in the mental prison of thinking that walking didn't count as exercise.

There are idiots who will tell you that walking isn't exercise. YouTube has videos of these clowns. These folks tend to be either endurance athletes like runners and triathletes or steroid freaks who pump heavy weights and take kidney destroying supplements. Simple walking is a threat to them, so they have to throw shade especially if walking could hurt their business.

The people you should really listen to are the doctors and the research scientists who have the hard data. Walking definitely counts as exercise. This is because of the many benefits that come from walking. There are too many to list here, so I recommend doing a Google search on the health benefits of walking. The list is impressive.

2. Walking is too hard.

There are people who are physically able to walk but choose to do as little walking as possible. They claim that walking is too boring. They don't have the time to walk. They don't have anywhere to walk. You get the picture.

It doesn't get any easier than walking. If walking is too much for you, you are doomed. I don't think any of these excuses are legitimate whatsoever. People prefer comfort to discomfort. The problem is that comfort leads to discomfort as you lose fitness. Before you know it, just walking to the bathroom becomes torture.

Walking gets easier the more you do it. In time, missing a walk becomes the greater torture. It just feels good to get outside and get moving. Walking can be very addicting and pleasurable.


You will quickly find yourself putting people you meet into these two categories. I don't get into it with these people. If people are doing something harder than me, that's fine. If people are doing nothing, that's also fine. What I have found is that people are inspired when they see me out for a walk. They can walk for health and fitness, too. It doesn't have to be torture to count.

UPDATE: Here are some videos from some idiots on YouTube who claim walking doesn't count as exercise:

Find Out Why Walking Isn't Really Exercise In This Revealing New Video!

Walking Isn't Exercise

And one video from a genius:

Is Walking Really Exercise?


Charlie's Reading Tips

For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.

People want to read more books. I want to read more books. Why don't we read more books? That's easy. We have television and the internet sucking up our attention. In a power outage or a vacation away from devices, you will find yourself reaching for a book. So, should you toss out your TV set or your internet connected device in order to read more books? I think this is a drastic and unrealistic step. Here are some tips that I have found work for me. They may work for you.

1. Stop binge reading.

Binge reading comes in various forms, but it is the aspiration to read for hours at a stretch as you work your way through a bucket list of books. This strategy is doomed to failure unless books are all you have in life. The better strategy is to read in bits the same way you consume all of your other content. I pick a book that I am going to live with for awhile and read one chapter each evening. You discover why books are cut into chapters. Each chapter is a bit. Read each bit like you would eat a meal.

The thing that surprises me is how quickly I get through books using this method. I read more each week reading a daily bit that I could ever do binge reading on a Sunday afternoon. I also retain more as I take my time to read each chapter and reflect upon it until the next day's reading.

It is here that I must comment on the foolishness of speed reading. People think that speed reading is the way to go. I've tried it, and I can honestly say that speed reading doesn't work for me. I could barely tell you what I had just read. Like speed eating, speed reading doesn't do much for the digestion. I am a slow reader which means I enjoy it more and get more benefit from what I read.

2. Reading the Holy Bible.

The greatest book of all time is the Holy Bible. Naturally, people want to read the whole thing. I have read the entire Bible a couple of times. I don't know if Protestant versions should count, but I have read the entire Catholic Douay-Rheims translation of the Bible. It took me five years to do this.

I reject those reading the Bible in a Year plans. Those plans don't work. They have you read from both the Old Testament and the New Testament at the same time. Life happens, and you fall behind on the reading schedule. You play catch up on the reading which leads to binge reading. Eventually, you just give up and forget you even tried. Do yourself a favor and don't do this.

The way I read the Bible is to cover a couple of chapters each morning as I drink my coffee. I read the Bible like a newspaper. Once upon a time, I read the morning newspaper, but the internet happened. That leaves the Bible. I may read a chapter or three depending upon my time and mood. If I miss a day, I just pick up where I last stopped reading. I keep a fat bookmark just for this purpose.

I recommend reading the New Testament first with the four gospels. After completing the New Testament, I go to the Old Testament with Genesis. I just read it straight through like any other book. When you finish, do it again. You can never read the Bible too much. It will become a daily part of life and give you many blessings, encouragement, and wisdom.

3. NFP.

I pick a book for my evening reading, but I force myself to read a variety of books. If I didn't do this, I would only read mystery novels. To maintain variety, I remember the letters NFP which stands for non-fiction, fiction, and practical. As I write this, I am reading a fiction book. My next book will be a practical book. After that book, I go to a non-fiction book. By doing this, I read broadly but also pragmatically. It also keeps your reading from becoming dull.


Those are my tips for reading. My key point is to not binge read. I think binge reading is a vanity for stupid people. These are the ones who were focused on getting a piece of paper instead of learning things back in school. I am also not a books only type of guy. I surf the internet. I listen to the radio and podcasts. I watch movies and television. Books are just another pipeline of content for me. I just consume a more balanced information diet with those books. I think my tips will help you read more and get more enjoyment and benefit from what you read. You will end up reading a lot more with the bits method than the binge method.