Sunday, 13 September 2020

Planning the plan. Writing my golden rules.

If you read my last post (boring as it was) you'd know that I'm planning a plan. The plan is to create a healthier (not necessarily better, so please don't comment on my morals, behaviours, values etc) me. I'm kinda making it up as I go along and have decided to plan on a weekly or monthly basis. I think I'm going to create my own golden rules as I go along.

My first rule is 'eat healthier'. This does not mean that I am on a diet, does not mean I can't indulge once in a while and does not mean that Mc Donald's is off limits. It means that I have to eat healthier than I currently do. There is a need for me to improve my diet as I'm fat, weigh too much and have high cholesterol. I think I can improve my diet by cutting out a lot of fat and sugars I would normally eat, be more conscious regarding what I eat and by eating cholesterol lowering foods.

My research has shown that there are a whole bunch of cholesterol lowering foods and I'm eating much of them already. They are as follows:

  • Avacoda (This appears to be no.1 cholesterol lowering food). I don't like it much but will eat it alongside a poached egg on occasions.
  • Almonds and walnuts (which contains Omega 3). Love nuts and will snack on these at work.
  • Fatty fish - salmon, lake trout, mackerel, herring, sardines and tuna (all of which contain Omega 3). Am liking fish more and more and tend to eat tuna most days at work.
  • Oats and barley. Am eating Alpen (no added sugar) most days for breakfast.
  • Fruits and berries including apples, grapes, citrus fruit and strawberries. Am tending to add berries to my Alpen and eat fruit most days.
  • Dark chocolate and cocoa. Hmm, don't tend to touch either much but nice knowing I can.
  • Garlic. This is good for keeping insects away too).
  • Vegetables especially dark leafy greens. I do like my veg and will try to eat more of it.
  • Tea. I drink lots (maybe too much).
  • Extra virgin olive oil. Ok, let's change my current spread.
Researching also informed me that fasting had a whole heap of health benefits too. Initially, I thought this would never be an option for me because I love food and can eat several times in a day. However, I also read that there are different types of fasting and 'intermittent fasting' sounded ideal - you can still eat, (lots potentially) just between a certain time frame. It doesn't specify which foods you can eat (I've kinda done that above) but rather when you should eat them. This fasting is clearly not a diet but an eating pattern. This fasting works in different ways and a once weekly (maybe moving to twice if all works out well) daily fast of 18 hours might prove of benefit to me. This fasting is really quite simple and essentially means I stop eating after my tea (say 6 pm) and then skip breakfast and eat again at lunch, effectively fasting for 18 hours. Simples. Apparently, when fasting, many growth hormone levels go up and insulin levels go down as well as genes doing something funky that leads to cellular repair processes. Articles suggest that this fasting may slightly boost metabolism and report its a very effective way to lose belly fat and weight. Better yet, research states that intermittent fasting may reduce 'bad' LDL cholesterol and a whole heap of other health benefits (such as brain health, cancer prevention, anti-aging). I'm in - golden rule no.2 'intermittently fast'. I will trial this and will plan to fast just once weekly whilst at work. 

Research on what may have caused my painful foot led me to create golden rule 3 'warm up before a big run' and golden rule 4 'stretch after a run'. If truth be told, I'm not exactly sure what caused pain to my foot, however, it may have been overload (too much to soon), plantar issue (common injury) or the fact that I didn't warm up and/or stretch. Anyways, my research clearly indicated that by warming up before a run it was 'one of the best things you can do to stay healthy, injury free, and improve your running performance'. Apparently, a warm up will get the blood flowing and loosen up muscles which will help you prevent injury and avoid pain during and after running. I've never tended to bother warming up before because basically have found it time consuming and too technical. A look at 'Running' for Sweets' blog though has provided me with 7 simple 'best warm up exercises for runners' which are simple, quick and quite fun. These exercises are as follows:
  • Standing leg extensions
  • Knee hug to chest
  • Forward leg swings
  • Lateral leg swings
  • Bent leg circles
  • Skips
  • Butt kicks
My rule is not implicit but rather a good idea and I will warm up before a big run - these exercises do not take long. I'd like to warm up before each and every run, however, time constraints might not allow and some times I just have to head straight out or risk not running at all. Busy lies and all that...

As for stretching after a run, well, my research stated 'stretching after running helps to decrease injury... If [muscles are] stretched appropriately... flexibility will improve'. Again, historically I have found such stretches quite technical and time consuming. After scouring the internet, I've found a bunch of quick ('hold for 15 seconds') stretches which in time might prove easy (just mostly unfamiliar to me at present time). These stretches are as follows:
  • Hip flexor stretch
  • Thigh stretch
  • Hamstring stretch
  • Illiotibial band stretch
  • Calf stretch
  • Lower back stretch
  • Buttock stretch
On my previous blog post, I commented about 'Running Heroes' informing that it was a free website and app that rewarded folks for running. Golden rule 5 was easily created 'run weekly using Running Heroes as a motivator'. In a similar vein, 'Cycling Heroes' is another free website and app that rewards cyclists for biking with exclusive discounts and prizes. Again, it doesn't matter how good (or bad) one pedals. Golden rule 6 simply is 'cycle weekly using Cycling Heroes as a motivator'.

With my Golden Rules in place (eat healthier, intermittently fast, warm up before a big run, stretch after a big run, and run and cycle weekly using Heroes app as a motivator), I figured I had a good plan for the week. What could possibly go wrong? Would it all work out well.

Well, Monday started off ok. I went for a 8k run and warmed up before and stretched afterwards. My right foot was still a little painful but no major concern and did not hurt on any following days. Maybe warming up and stretching helped? This run also saw me complete the 3 x 6k runs from the Running Heroes app (carried over from week before). No prizes won. Cycled some distance on my fixed bike later same day which felt nice too.

Tuesday was a great day. I completed my first intermittent fast with no major issue. My 50k+ cycle commute saw me complete a Cycling Heroes challenge too. No prizes won.

Wednesday saw me complete another 8k run which felt good. I didn't warm up or stretch, simply because I forgot, d'oh! Took a short walk up the Malvern Hills with SJ and Melody which was nice. Visited Prezzo's in the evening and healthy eating wasn't so great.

Thursday saw me complete another run. Beginning to find difficulty in remembering warm up exercises and stretches and maybe completed just a few.

Friday saw me cycle over a 100k on fixed which felt awesome. My Greek lunch wasn't so healthy. Does cycling balance out the eating? 

Cycled further on Saturday and completed more Cycling Heroes challenges. Sadly, I binged and ate much chocolate pot and drank wine. Argh, so hard maintaining a healthy lifestyle!

Sunday saw me complete another run and hence complete another 'Heroes' challenge. I cycled a little more in the afternoon too. Sunday lunch was nice, however, dessert was probably not the healthiest.

All in all I felt I did relatively well. It wasn't flawless, however, I exercised a lot, are better than I have for a long spell and felt ok once the week was out. I nearly added 'lift weight weekly' as a golden rule but didn't - I tried lifting some and ouch it hurt too much. A step at a time, right?!
A lot of fun, not good for the tum
Jonny Java
The following week was awful. Mc Donald's called me and forced me to eat (twice). Purity called me too and made me eat 2 burgers and consume 4 pints stating it was the last cycle and drink for a while. I drank more over the weekend too and had fish and chips on both Friday and Saturday. Argh! Epic fail. I cycled little and ran little. I did manage an intermittent fast. 

Oh man, I will try harder over the next few weeks. I will. I'll blog at the end of the month and it'll be interesting to see if any weight has shifted and whether my mood and motivation has improved. Place your bets....

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Reviews and reflections of 2020 thus far

Oh man, it's 27th August 2020 (at least it was when I started writing this post) and I'm feeling pretty de-motivated, flat and fed up of moaning. Covid issues have seriously messed up my training plans and forced planned events to cancel. Thus far I have only ran 162k this year and only cycled just over 6,000k. My plan was to run 500k by end of year and cycle 10,000k. Not much chance of hitting that target on the cycling front - I'd have to cycle something like 235k a week. Hmm. To reach my running target, I'd have to run something like 20k per week, hmm, that remains possible...

The past few months have seen me run and cycle little and have witnessed me indulging in a more 'rock and roll' kinda lifestyle. I weigh 92.6kg and despite being pleasantly surprised by this (thinking I weighed much more), I objectively look fat and feel sluggish. I think this is the most I have weighed this year. I want things to change, I want to feel better. I'm (relatively) good at following plans, so maybe I should create one?!

Purchasing things is a great motivator and I started my plan by purchasing some new running shoes and a cycling top. Brooks Ghost 12 were my shoes of choice - they look quite fancy and 'back in the day' a pair of Ghost 4's were my best ever running shoes. My cycling jersey was a Raphia merino number.

As for a written plan, I'm still struggling. I have thoughts - a combination of things I think I'd enjoy and also things I think I'd benefit from. Hmm. Initial thoughts are as follows: Each month complete a long distance cycle (knowing I will not reach my planned target yearly distance), wild camp monthly (just because it's fun), eat less fat and sugar (because as well as being fat, I have high cholesterol and this phenomena runs in my family), lift weights (ugh) and maybe fast (that would be a first).

Oh man, I don't know, I don't know, I don't know...

Well, it's only 4 days until this month is out. I've decided to just to plan for the last few days of this week. My plan is to reach my running target of 500k before the year is out and so these next few days will focus solely on running and attempting to eat better.

Running Heroes is a free website and app that rewards folk for running with exclusive discounts and prizes. It doesn't matter how good (or bad) a runner you are and I figured I'd use this app to provide some motivation. I saw there were prizes up for grabs for running 3 x 6k in a week and a further prize for running 5k on the Sunday. Perfect, my plan was made!

Friday started well and I ran my first 6k in ages (I actually ran 8k) and was pleased with my new shoes (which felt bigger despite being same size). Before the day was out though, I drank much wine, ate chocolate pot and argh, the rock and roll lifestyle is hard to shift!

Ran my second 6k on Saturday. Ate a little better but succumbed to chicken nibbles that were in the fridge at work. Healthy living is hard!

Sunday saw me complete the 3 x 6k challenge - yay! I didn't win any prizes and my right foot started to hurt - boo! My foot was hurting so much I decided not to attempt the 5k Sunday run challenge.

At the end of the week, I felt better for running a total distance of 20k and think I learnt some lessons. Such lessons were - 'don't go all out, train slowly' (I think my foot might have 'plantar' issues), 'maintaining a healthy lifestyle is hard' and 'running 20k a week is definitely possible' (I ran that distance in 3 days'.

Well, that's a start. I plan to read stuff (research) before September begins and will create a new plan. I have nothing to lose - argh, yes I do, weight!

Sunday, 16 August 2020

Purity Wild Goose nights and August Wild Camp 2020 #2

Rainy weather on a Purity night

August is a good month. It's the month when Purity Brewery invite cyclists to rock up, drink beer, eat burgers and chat. I think, so far this month, I've been to the brewery twice and done just that. Ron, Jonny Mitchell, Ben, Chris and I have all cycled together recently during these Purity nights and Terry joined for the feasting on at least one occasion. I'm sure the month will see another visit to this Brewery. I wonder if we'll beat the 'most burgers eaten in 1 sitting' before the month is out?

With the August summer month turning summery once more, it only felt right to a squeeze in another wild camp. I'm pleased my family and friends (for the most part) felt the same. 

This adventure started a little different to the norm. 6 of us had decided to camp and rather than all starting from my abode, we set off for the location from different start points. First to reach the camp spot was Ron and Jonny Mitchel, who I'm led to believe, were dropped off close to the location and walked in. Next was Jamie (who had cycled to my yard from Birmingham on his heavy steel bike), Milad (still not sure how he got to my domicile from Dudley) and myself who all cycled. We spotted the location quite easily - we could hear Jonny and see Ron's hands waving over the undergrowth. Locating the spot, we trudged through tufts of wild grass, past many bright yellow wild flowers and set about stringing up our tarps.

It didn't take too long to set up and soon we set about drinking and fraternising. A great number of bugs and flying insects has joined out party - not to worry Ron had taken precautions and had repellant with him. We sat about, chilling out, and watched the day turn into night. Rob dog was still missing at this time, so Ron set about cooking. As soon as the first batch of sausages were cooked, Rob had text to indicate he wasn't too far away. I grabbed a sausage bap and set out on a solo mission to meet Rob and bring him to the location spot. Finding Rob wasn't difficult, however, phase 2 of my mission was a little more testing. A stop at Tesco's in the nearby village to purchase a crate of beer was in order. Cycling with this crate was a little menace. Pleased to inform, Rob, beer and I managed to make it back without incident, we spotted the location just fine. It was a relief to take Jonny's back pack off (it had been swinging like a pendulum) and crack open the beers. 

This was the chicken I missed whilst collecting Rob

Much eating, drinking and social disorder followed. Y'know the typical wild camp. Music, jokes, chat, fun, beer, sausage, burger, etc. Not sure what Milad made of it all - this was his first wild camp in the UK (historically camping out in the desserts and mountains of Iran).

This was a late night, with us 'turning in' around 2 a.m. A relatively decent nights sleep followed. I heard the sound of Jamie snoring and caught Milad giggling as he saw me try and get out of my bivvy each time I needed a comfort break. Like old times, Jamie and I were using our 'traditional' Hunka bivvy's. It was a warm night and the tarps weren't required as very little rain fell.

Jamie was first to arouse in the morning. He had to wake early as he had to cycle back to Birmingham to pick his son up from football. I felt obliged to make my buddy a cup of mint/jasmine green tea. Soon everybody was up drinking tea and chatting about the lovely camp we'd had thus far.

After tea, we set about cooking breakfast. With so much food, 3 of us set about cooking on different stoves all at the same time. All agreed, my cooking skills weren't great - my eggs were a mash-up combination of fried, poached and scrambled. Whatever, all the food tasted delicious and went down well.

Not long after breakfast, we slowly cleared our camp and made our separate ways back home. Rob and Milad came back to mine for a spell. It didn't take long before each of us closed our eyes and had a few extra winks of sleep. Milad was clearly the sleeping beauty!

Dreaming of adventure

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Aug 2020 Wild Camp

Managed to fit a second wild camp into the month of July, which continued into the first day of August. Strange how 1 month merges into another with a camp in the centre of the 2. Maybe, I've thought about this too much... Ha!
Rob Dog, ready to roll
Rob Dog, ready to roll
Just Rob Dog and I headed out on this particular adventure. Despite not leaving until 9 p.m., Rob was surprisingly excited about the pending camp and said he had something awesome for '1 night only'. What on earth was he on about?
We originally planned to camp out where we camped earlier in the month, however, the dark made navigating a slight menace. After a short pause, wonder and consideration we headed to another spot where we had camped before. We camped at On route to our camp spot we passed a couple who had pitched a tent and were camping out too. We chatted for a while about the joys of wild camping, they indicated that they only lived a mile away. Nice to know we weren't the only loons!
Almost as soon as we had reached our camp spot, Rob Dog set about cooking. He also revealed what he had been carrying for '1 night only' - a fold up chair! Ha, who'd have thought!
We both slept pretty well following our near midnight feast and drinks. A warm morning followed a warm night. Pretty awesome views once daylight appeared.
Morning was much like evening - Rob Dog was delighted with his chair and enjoyed cooking from his seated position. Last night we devoured burgers, egg and chilli cheese. This morning, we swapped sausages for burgers.
My new kettle came in handy and a lovely mint and jasmine green tea was soon prepared. Delicious. My new ultra-sized Yeti mug was a super replacement to the mug I lost on my last trip too. 
Almost as soon as our camp began, it was time to pack up and return home. As always, we had a lovely adventure and eagerly await the next. Rob Dog plans to buy a stool to replace his weighty chair. I think his bag weighed something crazy like 14 kg (twice the weight of mine). I just plan to find my missing spork!

Monday, 13 July 2020

Hollibobs during C19 pandemic, part 2

The second week of my hollibobs was much like the first,
Only the weather wasn't so great, yeah, it was definitely worse.
I managed lots of adventure and surely had some fun,
Met up with different folks and even had a run!
Cycled 45k on the Monday with my Cousin 'Aid',
We stopped at Earlswood Lakes and woulda liked a lemonade.
Before the day was out, we took a 5k walk with our kids,
If they had cycled earlier, we'd probably have done bunny hops and skids.
Doo and Cody (Mark took this pic about 10 years ago)
Ree (pic also taken by Mark all those years ago)
Tuesday was quite a lazy day with just a 7k jog,
Got lots of scratches being 'off road' and wet feet from the soggy bog.
Chilled out rest of day, with my buddies Mark and Ree,
Mark did much cooking, which saved me making tea.

Wednesday was a nothing day where I completed very little.
In fact, I hardly did anything at all,
I guess I needn't say too much more,
It's all so trivial and would only bore.

Thursday was more active and my head-space felt quite good,
I ran a couple of loops around the lovely Webheath Wood,
5k was what I ran outdoors and 16k I cycled 'in',
I used my turbo trainer see, and went for an indoor spin.
Pimped up Pixie, my fixie
Friday saw me cycle 48k on my fixie,
This is my favourite bike of late - adoringly, I've named her 'Pixie'.
I've pimped her up a little - just check out that new seat,
Don't you think it's lovely? I'm telling you, I think it's neat!
A nice ascent in Uffington
Sweet X-Country
Tom's suitcase
Russ with a fixed tube (at last!)
Chris punctured both tubes
The best event, was more cycling over the weekend which I saved to last,
This was the OxDURO off-road event - and boy, it really was a blast!
Six of us cycled this event, a real motley crew,
Mostly old friends, but at least one of them was 'new'.
Russ, Ron and Chris all punctured - what a menace blow,
I was secretly pleased for the stops and liked to take it slow.
Kirk, Tom and I, we didn't face such woes,
Though must of us got stung or scratched (I had grass seeds in my toes),
As through 'nettle alley' we took our great machines,
Tom was riding a mountain bike - he really must've been keen.
Tom also took a suitcase, I really kid you not,
The rest of us took little, nearly diddly-squat.
We cycled a road and chalk and trail course,
And up and past the great Uffington White Horse.
We stopped at a cafe, in fact we stopped at two,
Such a great adventure, perhaps next time you'll come too?
And so ends my hollibobs and now it's back to work,
The things we do for a living, just to fund some perk!

Planning the plan. Writing my golden rules.

If you read my last post (boring as it was) you'd know that I'm planning a plan. The plan is to create a healthier (not necessarily ...