Sunday, 31 March 2013

A Good Walk Spoiled

I played a round of golf yesterday.  That brings my lifetime total to two.  It's quite tough - I reckon I hit about five shots the way I wanted to; the least said about the other hundred the better.  I did demonstrate an uncanny ability to find water mind - a talent that would've come in handy this time last year when, if you recall, a near-nationwide hosepipe ban was announced.  Also this time last year I was enjoying a week of pretty much unbroken sunshine and daily barbecues; a fact I had a chance to reflect upon as I was struggling up the 5th fairway in the middle of a snowstorm.  I was amazed to discover however that an average sized man (I met him once; he's quite a lot smaller than me) playing a round of golf and carrying his own clubs will burn 1,442 calories.  This is a huge amount so it came as something of a disappointment to find my weight increased again this morning (after yet another plod on the treadmill).  Still, this isn't about losing weight it's about running a half-marathon.  The positive news is my strength and fitness do seem to be improving.  The first round of golf I played was last year and the muscle pains I experienced for days afterwards have not been replicated this time, neither the fatigue I developed around the 15th hole.

I remain positive about the training, largely because the run itself it still around 18 months away but I do worry about what will happen when I need to run for 2-3 hours in a single session - where do people find the time?  My wife is running a 10K in a couple of weeks' time - she can do it on the treadmill but has never really done any road running; I'll be interested to see how she finds it.

In other news,  I have been mostly playing Metal Gear: Revengeance (a bit like God Of War but with Metal Gear characters) which looks nice but is a bit rubbish.  More cooking today as we provide more food for the family - pate, roast pork and some sort of chocolate concoction the kids have made.  Currently baking the bread (well, proving it).

End of week four:
4.5 miles covered, plus a round of golf
Appear to be stuck at 131kg (I know they say you shouldn't weight yourself too often but what're you gonna do?)
Musical highlight: Cuddly Toy by Roachford

Monday, 25 March 2013

Lighter, Faster, Stronger

"You don't understand the power of the dark side." D. Vader.

Apparently all good essays start with a quote.  I don't know where I got that from - note the use of the word 'apparently' which in modern parlance is used to justify any old guff.  Darth was a tortured soul and I'm beginning to understand how he felt; I doubt I'll progress to planetary destruction any time soon but I remain certain that one day I'll master the Force - certainly anyone who has witnessed my mystical hand gesture as I 'open' the automatic doors at the supermarket will testify to the fact.  I could've done with a bit of time travel this week as a weekend on-call has played havoc with my training plan.  I've just completed a 56 hour shift - yes people, some of us still do those!  It didn't leave much space for my planned 30 minute session so I've had to bump that by a day, which then puts next week into disarray.  Fortunately my workouts are still relatively light so recovery is not a massive issue; I can see this becoming a problem however when I'm expected to be running 5 miles several times a week.

The sessions (still mostly walking but with a bit of running increasingly thrown in) are still getting easier and the pain in my right knee appears to have gone.  This can only be good.  Also, I appear to be starting to shed some weight.  I've been training for about 3 weeks now and I reckon I've lost about 2kg.  Not much in the grand scheme of things but if it carries on I'm golden.  Unfortunately it appears that the lighter you are the fewer calories you burn when exercising.  They don't tell you that on the government healthy lifestyle information ads do they?  Still - swings and roundabouts.

The week has mostly been dominated by a frankly abject performance by England in the cricket.  To be fair - well played New Zealand, who have managed to make a flat track look flat when batting and anything but when bowling.  The much vaunted England attack have some questions to answer and the batsmen need their heads knocking together!  I still reckon we should call up Geoffrey's grandmother - she must be some player.

Next weeks plan seems to involve a bit more running.  Hopefully the ankle pain will improve as they strengthen - I'm hoping the shin pain will stay away (I'm not allowed to call it shin splints apparently - that just leads to ridicule).  If the weather improves I may even get out on the road.  I was reminded by my daughter yesterday that this time last year we had a barbecue and ate outside.  Not likely today! Although to all of those who have taken the piss out of the fact my barbecue is chained to the wall, it has made a run for it this week so that chain has turned out to be very wise.

I've been trying to think of ways to make this blog of more general use to its readers (zero I reckon although Google seem to think someone in America has viewed it this week) so here it is: in the new Tomb Raider game, max out the bow and stick with it; the other weapons pale by comparison, particularly once you have the Napalm upgrade.

So there you have it for another week:
3.6 miles covered.
131kg but still fat (surely some of it has turned to muscle??).
Musical highlight : Don't Let Me Down (Gently) by The Wonderstuff - thanks Miles.
Treadmill living up to its promise to carry fat lads.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

How d'ya like them apples?

It's been a funny old week.  Last Sunday (Mothers' Day) saw us entertaining the whole family with a massive piece of pork loin (with fennel-flavoured crackling and apple gravy, well Strongbow gravy which is probably about as far away from apples as you can get*).  A lovely meal, plenty of American craft beers and a bit of wine and champagne followed by the obligatory round of Trivial Pursuit and before I knew it it was midnight and we were watching Pulp Fiction (Zed's dead baby, Zed's dead).  The day before I'd just about managed 20 minutes on the treadmill at 6kph - before you scoff you need to realise just how unfit I am.  To put it mildly I thought I might die at the end and briefly hoped for it!

Monday brought freak snow and hail showers and very achy legs but the mid-week session (15 minutes at 6kph) went very easily.  I've now put my running playlist together - it lasts 3 hours and I reckon if I can run for all of it then I can do a half-marathon.  Sounds easy, doesn't it?

I'm just starting to realise that it's quite tricky putting a training session together whilst working a more-than-full time job.  I've heard stories of people getting up at ridiculous o'clock to get their workout in before work and I now appreciate why.  Friday's session had to be bumped to Saturday.  A repeat of last Saturday's session, you know - the one that nearly killed me.  Anyway, I can't believe it was the same me doing it.  It was so much easier.  Less sweaty.  Less breathless.  Fewer aches in ankles.  Faster recovery.  It's almost as if doing regular exercise increases your ability to exercise!  If only someone had told me.  I clearly need a montage.

This morning I actually ran properly (I'm not sure what I've been doing so far qualifies) - 1 minute running alternating with 1 minute walking.  The aim over the next 6 (now 5) weeks is to get me running for 20 minutes without a break.  Then I can start the training proper.  Rather disappointingly I've actually gained weight (I suspect yesterday's continental lagerathon in front of the festival of sport on TV didn't help).  Nottingham Forest won their sixth successive game (I've a feeling the club record is seven), cementing our position of being back where we were before the owners embarked on a bizarre series of decisions about the manager's post; the England rugby union team got their arses handed to them by a committed and more skilful Wales in a frantic 6 Nations decider and the Kiwi test match looks to be wandering to a draw unless we can rip through them quick smart later on today.  I may need to get on the rowing machine for some fat burning.

So there you go:
4.5km covered
A bit less sweaty
Still fat (133kg)
Musical highlight: Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order

*Strongbow is not as far away from apples as you can get

Monday, 11 March 2013

It's not a sprint, or even a marathon to be fair

So it's come to this.  When I was 16 I was a reasonably capable long-distance runner and thought nothing of running 10+ miles; it stood out amongst my general lack of any athletic ability whatsoever.  Then beer entered my life and since then it's been a gradual accumulation of excess body fat!  In my day job I regularly advise people on their lifestyle - drink alcohol in moderation, eat healthily and exercise more.  Unfortunately it has been very much a case of do as I say, not as I do!

As for many people the age of 40 came with the awareness that I may well have passed the halfway point in my life and that now all those healthy living messages may actually be important.  Also, the old knees have started to complain at the sheer weight they're being asked to carry.  Several abortive attempts at getting fit over the last few years have indicated the need for a target; something to keep me committed.  I ran the Sport Relief Mile in 2012 and was astonished at just how difficult I found it.  I don't think my time of just over 12 minutes is going to be troubling any record keepers!

A recent weekend trip (to see The Darkness in Manchester) resulted in a conversation very much along these lines with an old friend who has also seen the need to get fit (although to be fair he's not exactly in my league).  A discussion about exercise equipment and training programmes ensued and it seems he took it all rather seriously - upon my return home an email appeared from him, asking if I'd be interested in the 2014 Great North Run.  Even more bizarrely I appear to have agreed.  My wife is already training for the upcoming Lincoln 10K roadrace (and ran her first 10K at the weekend) and she's thrown her hat in the ring as well.

So there you are.  Currently standing at 132kg and barely capable of running a mile I appear to have committed to the 2014 Great North Run.  Can I do it?  Will I survive?  Does anyone care?

I've plotted a 32-week training programme which I reckon will get me running a half-marathon by the end of the year - there will then of course be the best part of a year to keep things going.  I'm hoping a bit of weight loss will be inevitable and, in the immortal words of Homer Simpson - I "won't get chest pain when I eat any more."

If you're remotely bothered, I intend to my log my progress on this Blog.  See the weight fall.  See the distances grow.  See the whole thing lapse into non-existence after a few weeks!!  I intend to run the race for Yorkshire Cancer Research so, when I eventually register (the 2013 race hasn't even happened yet) you may even feel like supporting me.  Please do.

So at the end of Week One:

A 15 minute walk and a 20 minute walk (covering 1.49k and 1.99k).
Severe anterior ankle pain at the end of each.
Very sweaty.
Still weigh 132kg.
Still fat.
Ate some pork scratchings today (D'oh!).

Watch this space.......