When we still lived in a subdivision, part of my exercise program was to take long walks at night and listen to audiobooks or podcasts.  The other part was lifting weights once or twice per week using Fred Hahn’s Slow Burn method.  I still do that.

I’ve given up the long night-time walks for a variety of reasons since moving to the farm.  I don’t work at home anymore, so I can no longer take an evening walk that ends around midnight and then just sleep until my body decides to wake up.  I’m up early these days (for me, anyway) and off to work in downtown Nashville.  The commute is now my audiobook and podcast time.

Even if I could sleep in, there’s no place around here I’d feel safe walking in the dark.  The subdivision had sidewalks and streetlights, with very little in the way of wildlife.  Out here, there’s a good chance I’d step into a hole, trip over a rock, or end up with a surprise introduction to a critter I’d rather not meet … like a snake.

After giving up on the night-time walks, my plan was to get some paleo-type exercise by sprinting around our land.  An unrelated plan was to create a Frisbee golf course around the property for weekend entertainment, which I did.  I started out with three holes in one of the front pastures, but later expanded the course (with my lovely wife’s encouragement) to nine.  Instead of setting up nine separate targets, I elected to go with six and create the extra holes by approaching three of the targets from different directions.  You can see the official course layout below.  The second and ninth holes require throwing between the trees and over the creek.

While playing last weekend, a thought occurred to me:  You know, if you sprinted to your next shot instead of walking, this would be pretty decent exercise.  Running, throwing, trying to hit a target … if you were half-naked and had a bone stuck through your nose, this would almost resemble a paleo hunting expedition.  Let’s just call it play-leo exercise.

So that’s my excuse now for running around the land and throwing Frisbees at targets.  (If you’re not familiar with Frisbee golf – or Disc Golf, as it’s properly called – you sink a “putt” by landing the disc in a basket.  If you hit the chains, that will usually do the trick.)

It actually is good exercise.  There’s a lot of slope in the land, so by the time I’ve sprinted after my shots for nine holes, I’m pretty winded.  I usually reward this effort by playing another nine holes at a leisurely pace.  By the time I play 18 holes, I’ve walked or sprinted several miles.

I can hear some of you already:  What?!  Several miles?!   No way!

Yes, I understand your doubt.   You probably looked at the course diagram above and correctly concluded that those distances can’t possibly add up to several miles.  But here’s where you miscalculated:  you assumed I’m blessed with enough athletic ability to throw a Frisbee more or less on a straight line.  Sadly, that’s not the case.  Below I’ve recreated a typical flight pattern for my shots on the first three holes:

The sharper angles are where I either hit a tree, have to toss out from behind a tree, or hang onto the Frisbee too long and throw it nearly sideways.

Now multiply by 18 holes … then try to tell me I don’t walk several miles in a typical round.

Years ago I read that Willie Nelson had a nine-hole golf course built on his property.  I hoped someday I’d be able to do the same.  I guess I succeeded in a manner of speaking.

Frisbee golf is different in several ways, of course.  There are no fairways and greens to maintain, which is nice.  The discs (there are drivers, mid-ranges and putters) are far less expensive a set of decent golf clubs, and unlike golf balls (which are engineered specifically to find their way into deep grass, bushes or leaves), they’re hard to lose.   So far I’ve only lost one disc, and that was temporary.  After searching all over the yard for it, I finally spotted it overhead, stuck in a tree.  I’ve never lost a real golf ball in a tree as far as I know.

Those differences aside, I’m finding that Frisbee golf is indeed a lot like traditional golf and every bit as enjoyable … same basic rules for scoring, much of the same terminology, and many of the same principles, such as:

  • The harder you swing with your driver, the more likely you’ll end up someplace you really, really didn’t want to be.
  • A terrific drive will inevitably be followed by a big slice into the trees.
  • If you’re close to the target and try to lay up, you’ll sail 30 yard past it.
  • If you are foolish enough to give advice to your wife or daughter on how to make a good shot, your next 10 shots will be the worst of your entire career.
  • Every change you make in your technique will work like a charm for exactly two holes.  Then it’ll never work again.
  • At least half of all bad shots are caused by a mistake in your grip, stance or alignment.  Knowing this won’t make you any better, but it will help you understand why you suck.
  • If there’s even one wispy little tree branch anywhere in the general direction of your shot, you will hit it 75% of the time.  If the tree branch is in a position to knock your shot into the water, you’ll hit it 95% of the time.
  • If your shots are all hooking left, the advice from the pros is to adjust accordingly and aim to the right.  As soon as you do, your next shot will slice WAY to the right.
  • If you try to curve a shot on purpose to get around a barrier, you’re either a pro or a bit of an idiot.
  • If you are two under par after eight holes, you will sextuple bogey the ninth hole.
  • None of this will prevent you from playing every chance you get.

Alana hasn’t shown any interest in the game, but Sara loves it.  Pretty much anytime I suggest we go hit the course, she’s up for it.  She’s even taken to playing after school now and then when I’m not around.

Good fun, good exercise, an outdoor sport I can play with my daughter.  The only downside is knowing that once Chareva gets the farm up and running, I’ll probably be banking my shots off a few chickens.

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31 Responses to “The Farm Report: Play-leo Exercise”
  1. bigmyc says:

    Sounds awesome, Tom..congrats on doing something that most with such resources would never think to do..even as they continually talk about getting more active while pining for a hobby.

    But, on a barely related note, I was wondering what the main difference is between the Paleo and Primal lifestyles. Obviously, the two are very similar but, as Sisson put it, Paleo folks are more wary of the role that saturated fat should play in their diet. This confuses me somewhat as both ethics employ the lean, conditioned cave dude as their patron saint, so to speak. I know that you embrace nutrient dense saturated fat as does the Primal Blueprint, but you also use the phrase, “Paleo” quite often. Perhaps, there is more than one style of Paleo…

    Some of the people who popularized the term paleo, such as Loren Cordain, pointed out (correctly) that the wild animals humans hunted were leaner on average than the animals we raise on farms, and so assumed early humans lived on low-fat diets. But they didn’t take into account the fact that early hunters didn’t just eat the meat. They also ate the brains, marrow, and fatty organs. Corden has changed his mind a bit on that topic.

    “Paleo” to me means mimicking (to the degree possible) the diet and physical activity of pre-agricultural humans. Since food sources differed all over the world, so did paleo diets. Some were heavy on meat or fish, some on plants. Paleo Inuits ate a lot of whale and seal blubber, which is high in saturated fat. But none of the paleo diets had sugars or grains as dietary staples, and most contained no sugar or grain at all. Early humans also didn’t milk wild animals, so paleo diets didn’t include dairy foods.

    By paleo exercise, I mean sprinting, walking and lifting heavy things, as opposed to jogging or doing aerobics.

    Mark’s Primal Blueprint is pretty much the same idea, the main difference being that he doesn’t discourage people from consuming full-fat dairy products. I’ve cut way back on dairy, but haven’t eliminated it totally from my diet, so I’m sort of paleo-primal.

  2. Lori says:

    Yes, but do you get to wear funny clothes?

    I had a challenge exercising my dog: several months out of the year the sidewalks are icy, and it’s dark when I get home. Even under the best circumstances, my dog doesn’t walk well on a leash. Solution: treadmill (for her). She *loves* it. As for me, I shoveled four inches of wet snow tonight. Having been ill off and on for six months, I found it quite the workout.

    Shoveling deep snow is definitely a workout. I haven’t had to do that one yet in Tennessee, but it would be quite a task to shovel our looooong driveway.

  3. Aaron says:

    If you really want to get winded, come sprint around at our local Disc Golf course here in Aspen (in the summer of course). It’s located atop Aspen Mountain and, I believe, is the highest course in the country at 11,000′.

    Wow, that would do it. If it’s on a mountain, I also suspect my first drive would never be seen again, except perhaps by some lost hikers.

  4. Jenny says:

    As someone who has actually met up with a snake on your property, I think this is a fine alternative.

    I believe that would be the famous bathtub snake during renovations. I’ve already warned Chareva if I’m ever taking a shower and open my eyes to find a snake in the tub, there will be a third “Scream Like A Girl” incident.

    (The first two involved wasps: http://www.tomnaughton.com/?p=667)

  5. nonegiven says:

    If it goes right it’s a slice
    If it goes left it’s a hook
    If it goes straight it’s a miracle?

    If it goes straight, Sara threw it.

  6. julianne says:

    I thought you would like this story of a woman who was inspired by your movie to cut carbs to control her blood sugar, she is a type 1 diabetic here in New Zealand
    http://paleozonenutrition.com/2012/02/24/type-1-diabetic-loses-weight-achieves-normal-blood-sugar-on-low-carb-paleo-diet/

    Like it? I love it. Thanks for letting me know.

  7. QUOT:
    “once Chareva gets the farm up and running, I’ll probably be banking my shots off a few chickens.”

    Birdie shots!

    LOL.

  8. Bruce says:

    Regarding Willie Nelsons golf course;

    Willie Nelson, discussing what par is on a golf course he bought. It’s anything I want it to be. For instance, the hole right here is 47. and yesterday I birdied the sucker

    I went with the par distances recommended by the Disc Golf Association for recreational players. The pro distances would only ensure a string of triple bogeys for me. Sara’s par is also two tosses per hole more than mine.

  9. Pat says:

    If you get a dog, don’t play frisbee golf with the dog. Dogs just loooove frisbees. Are yours built to survive sharp teeth?
    If my dog were there, you would be throwing the disc and persuading her to give it back to you. Course hazard! And she is *not* a retrieving breed.

    It’s occurred to me that the dog will have to be put in the back pasture when I play … unless I can train the dog to fetch my bad drives and place them close to the targets.

  10. Erik says:

    If you really want to make it Paleo, you should be throwing boulders at the targets.

    As long as each hole is at least a par 50, I could go for that. Wouldn’t do my baskets much good, though.

  11. LCNana says:

    Forgive me for being a doofus, Tom, but do you just toss these with your hand? or is there some sort of stick involved, like in Lacrosse? I’ve never heard of this before and I’m curious….how’s about a picture of you actually “doing” it? This could all be just talk eh? (ha, ha, ha…)

    Just like throwing a frisbee.

  12. Marc says:

    Check out the course directory on the PDGA (yes, Professional Disc Golf Association) site for places around the country and world to play.

    http://www.pdga.com/course_directory?s=a24355fdd20af7776c650b7717133717

    I always pack a driver, mid, and putter when I travel so I can play if time allows. Much better than hotel gyms with all the broken equipment.

    And way more fun.

  13. Elenor says:

    “once Chareva gets the farm up and running, I’ll probably be banking my shots off a few chickens.”

    Oh, I dunno, I was thinking it might be a pretty good way to exercise the chickens too! They’ll know when Farmer Tom gets home, they need to practice their ducking (squats), their push-ups (leaping up-and-over), and their sprinting (“run away! run away!”) {wink}

    It’ll be interesting to see how quickly the animals learn to scatter when they see me approaching with an armful of discs. “Run! Here comes that goofball who keeps hitting us!”

  14. Firebird says:

    Something else can be done here is to create stations along a route, where an exercise can be performed. I’ve seen several public parks set up their walking and jogging paths this way.

    If I had exercise stations along my course, I’d hit them with a frisbee.

  15. Bev says:

    Chickens are resilient and not nearly as stupid as popular opinion claims. It won’t take more than 3 or 4 thwwaacks with a disc before they hurl it back at you and a week after that they’ll be giving you advice on how to improve your aim. I wouldnt actually TAKE the advice though, they aren’t as smart as all that.

    That’s another rule that applies to golf and disc golf: the people who give you advice mean well, but the advice usually makes your game worse. That’s especially true if the advice comes from chickens.

  16. Kristin says:

    That’s hilarious. You’re not the only one to have thought of that–Kim Stanley Robinson has an amazing trilogy of books (40 Signs of Rain, 50 Degrees Below, 60 Days and Counting) in which (among other things) the main character runs through a park playing disc golf and contemplates how similar this activity is to things our ancestors would have done. The trilogy is sort of a near-future hard-science speculative fiction look at how drastic climate change might look, but it includes plenty of sociobiology. If you like speculative fiction at all, you should check it out.

    Great minds thinking alike?

    My prowess at disc golf so far has convinced me that it’s a good thing I never had to survive by throwing things at animals to get my dinner.

  17. Mike P says:

    Tom,

    Once the farm is up an running, are you only focusing on providing for your family or do you see yourself turning it into some kind of small business venture – selling small amounts locally?

    You have inspired me to look at farm land when we buy a house in the next 24-36 months.

    Keep it up!

    We’ll be growing and raising food for ourselves. I’m not interested in turning it into a business.

  18. Dave says:

    I frolf all the time for my exercise, it’s great! There are 2 great courses near me and after 27 holes I get to skip a sprint session (they are in hilly, mountainous area) that week.

    I love it. I played 36 holes today (18 with Sara) and felt great afterwards, like I’d had a good, long walk. We also had a Weston A. Price chapter meeting at the house today, some of people attending brought their adolescent or teen kids, so Sara took them out for a round. They seemed to really enjoy it.

  19. CeeBee says:

    I finally got my husband and son to sit down and watch the entire Fat Head documentary with me last night. My 13 year old thinks you are hysterically funny and brilliant, to boot. He was telling me later that he thinks one of our relatives, who is 16 and a dedicated vegetarian, ought to see it.

    Tell your son I’m glad he enjoyed it. Dedicated vegetarians often cling to their beliefs with religious fervor, so don’t be surprised if your relative has no interest in the science.

  20. Eric says:

    Hey Tom,

    First of all….that sounds awesome. I’d love to have a handful of acres somewhere to mess around with….how fun.

    Totally off topic question for ya. How do you manage all that growth in the spring and summer? IE: an enormous mower, etc?? Lot’s of weed killer, etc? It seems like it could get out of control FAST!

    Eric

    Definitely no weed killer. We’re going to be growing food here, so I don’t want spray poison on the land. I’ve paid a guy with a big ol’ mower to cut the growth a few times now. To get rid of the snarly, thorny bushes I don’t like, a farmer friend of Chareva’s suggested a goat. Apparently they’ll chew up any plant they can reach. Eventually we plan to get a flock of sheep. They’ll keep the grass short while adding topsoil.

  21. jethro says:

    Play as much as you can but make sure no dangerous critters invade the farm such as africanized bees, foxes, wolves, bears, venomous snakes, etc.

  22. KRS says:

    It’s funny to me that you feel less safe going for a walk on your farm than you would in the suburbs. I feel the opposite way, that it’s not as safe to walk in the suburbs because there are people and lights everywhere. I have to talk myself into going for walks everyday by thinking to myself that millions of people walk in suburbs everyday. And no, I do not have some sort of social anxiety disorder. I just grew up on a farm and, like you, am in an environment I am not accustomed to. So, i would encourage you to push your boundaries and go for nightwalks around your property (bring a light for emergencies, but keep it off). To start, go to an area you know well in daylight and then go back to the same place at night. You should even take your kids, go look at the constellations, or try to find an owl. It’s a great way to keep your night vision in good shape and use your other senses to explore. There are a whole bunch of great , easy activities you can do to help build confidence and explore your surroundings in the dark. Just doing a google search for “night hike activities” will probably give you a lot of ideas. Trust me, there is nothing to be afraid of.

    With a good flashlight, maybe. There are too many rocks, uneven spots, chunks of wood and so forth for me to want to walk around without having a clear view.

  23. John Hunter says:

    Maybe you should buy a golf cart ;)

    NEVER!

  24. Chareva says:

    @KRS. I like your suggestions. Thanks.

  25. Wow. If you need to know more about disc golf, read this article. Very good information on the sport! I knew there were some similiarities to traditional golf, but I didn’t know that there were that many! I wish I had a big enough yard to build my own course.

    Matt-www.digitalsportinggoods.com

    I must admit, my wildly inconsistent throws have prompted me to start watching lessons online.

  26. Becky says:

    Oooh, you’d better check with PETA to see if killing a chicken via frisbee is humane! They’ll be picketing you in no time. FROLF = MURDER! Lol.

    I’m pretty sure they’d be unhappy with me for enslaving chickens as well.

  27. Derek says:

    This is great, I’ve been doing the disc golf/sprint/exercise the dog routine down in San Diego for over a year now. Mostly at Kit Carson Park in Escondido. One change I’ve made recently is focusing on running on the balls of my feet. This is pretty natural when sprinting, but I was a bad heel striker my whole life when jogging. It takes a little time to acclimate your legs, but the stress on the joints etc. is so much better. I just can’t believe it took me 30 years to figure out how to eat and run properly. Actually I can, a mass amount of misinformation and marketing has gone into getting people to load up on carbs and buy shoes with giant cushions in the heels while our bodies were made to eat meat and veggies and run on the balls of our feet.
    P.S. The cheap discs are quickly ruined by a minor dog bite, but the premium (i.e. Champion/Star etc.) hold up really well to tree hits and dogs alike.

    I think I run on the balls of my feet, but the truth is that I’ve never really thought about it. I do like the fact that our pastures are covered with thick grass, so it’s a spongy surface.

  28. Paul Eilers says:

    So when is the Tom Naughton Invitational? And will this become an annual event?

    I think it will need to be a combination disc golf tournament and cookout. I’d probably want to get three more baskets and arrange nine separate holes in that case. Otherwise we’d have people in my current criss-cross layout beaning each other with discs.

  29. Underground says:

    You need some nice logs to drag and carry from hole to hole.

    There’s a pretty decent disc golf course over here in Murfreesboro at Barfield-Crescent park.

    We’ve got one in Franklin and one in nearby Brentwood as well. I just haven’t gotten around to trying them out yet.

  30. Dan says:

    Ha ha. That shot map you made reminds me of how I used to play disc golf. No wonder I was so tired after a couple rounds.

    They have midnight disc-golf tournaments up here in Maine. They stick a glow-light on the top of the baskets and everybody plays with glow-in-the-dark discs.

    I wouldn’t worry about night animals either. By now, word has probably spread about how wild your shots are. The animals are likely keeping their distance. Whenever I pick up a disc the forest grows quiet.

    I did notice that when I lined up a drive on Sunday, a nearby flock of birds took off in a big hurry.

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