Saturday, 27 April 2013

I'm gonna hit the highway like a battering ram

I have a dilemma this week.  Next week I'm off to sunny Spain - my first break from work since October and sorely needed.  It also coincides with the end of my current training programme (to get me running for 20 minutes) which will then dovetail in to the start of my next (to get me running 5K).  The question is; do I have a week off or do I continue to run whilst on holiday?  I've a nagging feeling that any progress lost during a weeks' break will take far longer than a week to recover.  And besides, the whole point of this is that it is a lifestyle change rather than a temporary health kick.  Looks like I'll be running in Spain.  D'oh!  Still, at least a nice run down the riverside in 21 degree sunshine will prepare me nicely for running along the coast in South Shields.

Managed some good sessions this week - up to 40mins on the treadmill (albeit at a fairly slow pace) and can easily run for 10 minutes without too much stress or panic.  The pain in my ankles has completely disappeared and the pains in my shins are becoming more manageable.  My wife has been to a sports shop where they got her on a treadmill to analyse her gait and recommended a particular type of running shoe.  I think I should probably do the same - I definitely come down on the outside of my heel rather than straight on.

Anyway - these ribs.  The trick is to sous vide them first - this is a (fairly old) French cooking technique akin to boil-in-the-bag.  I used belly ribs (the big ones with loads of meat on them) covered in a dry rub (paprika, oregano, salt, sugar, cayenne pepper, mustard powder and black pepper) then vac packed.  The resulting bag of goodies goes in a temperature controlled water bath at 57C for 72 hours.  Then chilled, smothered in a barbecue sauce and grilled on the barbecue until caramelised (slightly burnt to you and me).  The meat will fall off the bone.  Proper sous vide kits are pretty expensive but you can rig your own up using a slow cooker and something called a PID unit; an American company called SousVideMagic sell them online.  You'll also need a vac pack machine but these are pretty cheap nowadays too.  Enjoy.

I went to see Meat Loaf live last Friday - as part of the show he performed the original Bat Out of Hell album in its entirety.  It was a good night but you had to feel a bit sorry for Meat.  His voice has gone.  Completely.  He struggled gamely through but I think this'll be his last tour.  One for nostalgia only I think.

So at the end of week eight:
9 kilometres covered
128.5kg (thats 5kg down from where we started)
Not that sweaty or breathless
Finding it easier going upstairs at work (I do have 8 stories to cover)
Ankle pain gone
Musical highlight: Meat Loaf (for old times' sake)

Sunday, 21 April 2013


I’m guessing not many of my readers are familiar with the concept of time dilation.  I’m especially sure seeing as my number of readers is zero according to the stats that Google kindly provide.  Anyhow - if anyone ever does read this, they may not be familiar with the concept of time dilation.  Put simply, time moves at different speeds depending on gravity and velocity.  A real example for this is the fact that astronauts on board the International Space Station age slightly slower than those of us on Earth (it’s fractions of a second but it is true; you can demonstrate the phenomenon using highly accurate atomic clocks).  This is because they’re in a region of low gravity.  Similarly, the faster you go, the slower time passes.  This is a staple of many science fiction books where they often talk about time debt - if you travel to a distant site in the galaxy, lets say 100 light years away, at just shy of the speed of light then it will take just over 100 years for you to get there according to an observer on Earth.  However, because time passes more slowly for you while you are traveling at that speed, it’ll only take you say 60 years (I don’t know the precise calculation).  If you then return, a total of 120 years will have passed for you but it’ll be 200 years later on Earth.  Another example of the bizarre world of relativity.  And I haven’t even mentioned quantum!

There is a reason for all this geekiness.  I can only surmise that when I run I must run at speeds approaching the speed of light.  My training routines are often split running and walking, for example run for 4 minutes, walk for 1, repeated 6 times.  That 1 minute walking zooms by whilst the 4 minutes take forever - time definitely passes more slowly when you are running on a treadmill.  The thing beeps every minute and the mental discipline required not to look at the clock until it beeps is phenomenal.  When you eventually give in and look, because surely you just didn’t hear the beep or the machine is malfunctioning, you find that actually only 38 seconds have elapsed.  Time dilation*.

In other news, I had the first barbecue of the year yesterday - I think it was a roaring success (I'm not entirely certain due to the intervention of Patron Tequila).  If you're really lucky I may post my ribs recipe in a future blog.  The weight does seem to be starting to drop off - I've clocked below 130kg for the first time in about 2 years and running feels easier - I managed a whole 10 minutes the other day without dying.  The London Marathon took place this morning - at one point the elite runners were running 4.45m miles.  Madness.

So, at the end of week seven
3 miles covered
Sweaty but stronger
Bottomed out at 128.6kg - woo hoo!
Highlight of the week: Rediscovering A Flock of Seagulls - I Ran is the greatest record of all time.

*Incidentally the actual difference between my running speed and the speed of light is so close to the speed of light as makes no difference**.

**The speed of light is 1,079,252,850,000,000,000kph.  My treadmill only goes to 15.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Mmmm.... Black pudding

I have a confession to make.  It's been two weeks since my last blog.  While I am determined to keep things up life has a way of interfering - I seem to be have working every day (including weekends and bank holidays) for about three weeks now, at least it feels that way.  I have the unusual privilege of a full weekend off with no plans at the moment so clearly I'm going to waste it by sitting in and watching telly all day!

Actually, I have already been active today - a 25 minute brisk walk on the treadmill and the first lawnmow of the year; really quite late this year for obvious reasons but the sun is actually shining and I've even considered having a barbecue.  I suspect that when the sun disappears this afternoon it's going to be rather cold however.

GNR preparation-wise I appear to have become a bit stuck.  The initial surge in extra fitness and strength seems to have plateaued out and I seem to be gaining weight (muscle, presumably?).  I'm assuming this is normal however and will stick to the training programme as planned.  My wife did the Lincoln 10K last weekend in a time of 1hr 5mins which is pretty impressive especially when you consider it was her first actual road run (all of her training was on the treadmill).  Unfortunately I missed it; guess what?  I was at work.

Went to see The Hairy Bikers live (in Skegness) last week.  A really quite bizarre show involving watching clips of their TV show while they took their clothes off.  Probably not how they would promote it but that's what sticks in the memory!  Mind you, I did enjoy the bit where Si held up a little pot (of what was actually cornflour in water) and said "This is the dieter's best friend ......... amphetamine."

The programme next week involves a few more prolonged runs and brisk walks and hopefully I should be up to running for 20 minutes within another 2-3 weeks.  Then I just need to string about 10 of those together and I reckon we're there!  Easy.

So - weeks five and six:
6.25 miles covered (but another session to go tomorrow)
1kg gained
Legs ache - knees feel stronger; start to get out of breath after 20mins (about 10 when I started)
Highlight : Watching someone make smoked haddock scotch eggs with black pudding salad on Saturday Kitchen
Total distance :19.3 miles at a might just over 3 miles a week.  Feel the burn!