Sunday 27 September 2020

Plans and Pants (inc Wild Camp Sept 2020)

RIP Cody

September was a month where I tried to stick to 'Golden Rules' that I had created recently, in an attempt to feel fitter, happier and ideally lose some weight (fat). The first half of the month went ok and the second went as follows:

The week beginning 14th September didn't start too great, I felt as rough as boots. I had a mild 'man flu'. It wasn't Covid, I just had the snots. Even so, I pushed myself to complete a run and by the end of the week felt much better. I ran a fair few times and was really quite pleased with my efforts.

Cycled on a few occasions during that week too and used a number of different bikes which is always fun. Cycled with a few different folk which is always nice. Was good to get cousin Aid out on his bike again, along with Ron.

Aid and Doo
My poor dog 'Cody' died during this week which was real sad. She had lived with my sister Kim for a number of years, however, this didn't stop me from missing her so. She had quite an impact on all my family. Memories of her will last a life time.
Cody as a pup
SJ, Doo and Cody x
Swimming at Charmouth
This really was a mixed week. It was the first time in a long time that I had cycled over 100k (in one shot) and the first time ever (I think) that I cycled with the 'WT's', a group of cycling friends from the Wythal area. This was a great cycle with Tony and Mark and new (to me) folks - John and Les (who was 69 years old).
My Diet wasn't fantastic this week, however, it wasn't that bad. I had another intermittent fast. Throughout the week days I ate relatively well, however, once Friday appeared so did the chocolate, coke, wine, chips and burgers. 
The tail of September was much like the week before - pretty mixed. I was pleased to cycle a few k again (though didn't cycle anywhere near a 100k) and it was good to cycle with Ron and Aid. If only I could add a few more k's.

Running went real well. I ran over 30k in the week and must report that I was super pleased with my Runderwear pants (no chafing) and my new super Garmin Forerunner watch. This watch beeps every k and the face lights up when you turn your wrist to look at the face amongst the many other ace features it has. This watch also plays music and the sound quality appears much crisper than my Tom Tom watch ever did.

Diet was mixed again. Began the week quite well, however, was munching fish and chips and kebab by the weekend. I did fit in another fast. Weekend camping saw me consume a little alcohol and eat more fat. Oh well. The awesome thing is, I weighed myself and 89.6kg was what the scales read - woo hoo - I had lost exactly 3kg in a month.
Starting as we meant to go on
The destination
Cool camp
Camping was awesome as it always is. It was just Rob Dog and I camping on this occasion. We camped in a brand new spot and had the usual fried delights, alcohol, laughs and chats before falling asleep. I decided to use my Rab bivvy for a change. It was very cold in the night and both Rob and I had some condensation come morning. I climbed out my bivvy in the night and saw an awesome starry sky, an owl and we both saw a badger earlier! We awoke to a frost, not to worry, we soon had a warm tea and a fried breakfast to provide some central heating!
New wheel, chosen to withstand much weight
Rob Dog aka The Cook
Home with a cuppa, reflecting on a great camp
Once home, had time for a nice cup of tea before the next adventure began. Finished the week with a nice walk with the kids and SJ. Croom Court, such a lovely place to visit.
My family - Moo, Spoon, SJ and Doo
All in all, a great month. Praise and thanks be to God for his great creation. How awesome to be blessed with health, equipped with senses and filled with hope.

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!

Happy New Year 2022

Happy New Year folks. I wonder what's in store for 2022,  - something crazy, something new? It's a shame Covid is still here and I&#...