Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas / New Year gap blues

It's the odd bit between Christmas and New Year and its raining, my wife has a stomach bug, and I feel rotten. We got the blues. I would like to report loads of exercise but that never happens in any Christmas period so this one is no different. Got some fantastic presents for Christmas, I was very taken aback by some of them, and felt terrible that I didn't reciprocate with good enough gifts!! Bit of a mad time with lots of travelling to see all the relatives... all the driving did mean a bit less excess than normal - not so much aimless munching during evenings watching crimbo telly.

Worst of all I have not been sleeping because of worries about my career in the New Year... a change is coming and I don't know which way to go. I really do not know what to do for the best and what path is the right one. I have had nightmares the last few nights about a former employer and while I don't know what they mean specifically it seems to be my subconscious saying a change is the most likely outcome (but the dreams give no clue as to what those changes will be).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Crazy crush - sad incident while commuting

I am perplexed by what us humans do to each other... I had to watch a poor unfortunate future mother get off a train suffering what can only be summed up as panic attack.

The train that arrived in the station this evening was clearly packed as it pulled in so I stepped back knowing not even to try, and that another would be along soon. The rest of the assembled public on the platform surged desperately at the packed train and tried to push themselves on board. As the shuffling continued some passengers fought to get off in the face of those fighting to get on. Out of the side of this melee appeared a small'ish woman sobbing and looking distressed, she stood to one side on the platform starring at the train she'd just disembarked. As the moments went by and the massively overcrowded train pulled away the woman, now in floods of tears, passed by to sit down in the platform shelter. As she sat down I realised she was quite pregnant and holding her bump as she cried. Obviously those on the train had paid no heed to her condition and carried on pushing the woman into a space that she felt so uncomfortable in that she just had to get out.

I was shocked and baffled. Luckily as she recomposed herself she pulled out her mobile and called for some friend / relative to come and get her. Unbelievable that at this time (or any time) of the year no one would care enough to give the poor woman space!! I don't know how to round this post off other than to quietly hope I never have to see anything like that happen again.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Back in the right cycles

After last weeks wake up call regarding my increased mass (unfortunately not muscle mass), I have renewed a couple of blog pledges and had a look at my current habits. The result has been a drop of 2.5 lbs since last week. A good move in the right direction again, although the 'peak' in weight (lets call it that at least) may have been in part due to over-eating the day before, being over-hydrated, etc. I can not get away from the fact though that I was sliding in the wrong direction.

Cycles happen in life all of the time, every second, minute and hour of every day. It really is a case of how in tune with them you are. There are so many cycles in life that it is very easy to lose sight of the ones you might feel are most important. I have, of late, been caught up in the work cycle of contract renewal (and perhaps even job change) and so have not paid enough attention to health cycles. Both exercise and food habit cycles suffered under the pressures of others. I am only relieved that I spotted the shifting cycles and set about putting them right (or at least what I feel is right for me).

Everyone has pressures upon how they spend their time, what I had forgotten this last few weeks is how many of those perceived time pressures are in fact self-made. Much of my own stress was on reflection truly self-made and impacting on my health through poorer diet and lower exercise. It took some straight forward questions of myself to work out what had slipped and why, and knowing the answers made the fixes all the more straight-forward.

I always have to remind myself that negative cycles are entirely natural and not something that I willingly place myself into, but are cycles that can be altered as soon as they are noticed. Life is life and life is fun, all the more so for the challenges of its balancing acts. All you need to re-balance at any point is to give yourself that moment to notice. There is hoping that the next time I spot the negative pattern sooner... and that is the joy of experience of life... I probably will.

This mornings scales read 15st 7.5lbs, the weather outside is foul, but the weather inside is improving.

This weeks rain & storm hampered activity chart

Training LogRowStretchRunErgoCircuitWeightsCycle

From Thursday onwards the weather really did play a big part in the activity drop off.

There are a great many horror stories in the news at the moment about the effects of the winter storm, for example :

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Crazy little thing called "weather"

I don't claim to know whats going on, whether the weather is indeed changing for the worst (i.e. global warming, green house effect, El nino, carbon release syndrome, or whatever its called). But the winter storms have arrived this week and put paid to all things rowing at least on the river. The river we row on is a fast reacting one. The catchment area is steep sided (Welsh valleys), and so the levels go up and down at times like a yo-yo.

Worse than our own river not being 'rowable' (we kind of use that as a word at the rowing club?!?!), a neighbouring clubs river is also badly affected by the storms so no race tomorrow. Monmouth Rowing Club had planned their Winter Head tomorrow... I can't help but feel deep empathy for their situation as they seem to lose more than their fair share of events to bad weather.

Land training (i.e. indoor training) would have seemed the likely way ahead, but my training buddy was busy and moreover I was very stressed by all things work in the latter half of this week!! Still I am trying to take my own advice with respect to the food / activity balance that I went on at length about in my previous post. Only time will tell, Christmas will be a stern test of that particular resolve.

Seeing as I spend a fair bit of time at the PC at the moment I did use it for some good yesterday... I sent sponsor money to the two challenges that have caught my interest of late [Charity Fundraisers]. Not the same as getting out there and making a difference I know, but it put a smile on my face to support their immense efforts :o)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Following your own advice

Sounds like stating the flaming obvious and I know I am... have gone to a saver supermarket, bought a new MP3 player for pennies and started filling it with music. "Ah ha", you think having noticed my blog entry two days ago, "he's motivating himself - following his own advice, simpleton!". Okay, to a point you'd be right, but no the advice I am renewing my pledge to follow is that of my own blog and getting 'on the move'....

Look a bit further down my blog roll to Sunday just gone (the 2nd December entry)... get the idea now? Hmm, yes I am heavier and lets be honest unfitter than I have been in some time, nigh on two years by rough reckoning. Want the reasons? No, thought not. Want the response? Well I am gonna tell you anyway.

The response has been in part the motivation MP3 true, but other than that, and more importantly I have been re-addressing of the one of the simplest sets of equations in life:-

Food + drink = Calories
Living + Exercise = Activity = Calories burnt

Calories + low activity = low Fitness + excess Weight
Calories + Activity = Fitness + 'normal' Weight
Calories + high Activity = high Fitness + functional Weight

Put simpler still (partly in case some smart-ass starts picking at my crude maths)... I've been eating too much food for the activity I undertake, therefore have gained weight.

The answer happily does not lay at the door of some hair brained wacko quack selling a book / CD / symposium, it lays squarely at the door marked "sensible healthy food in appropriate amounts". So that is indeed the door I have opened, I am trying to avoid the spare chocolate bar, the handy sports drink when I am sat in the office doing no exercise, the extra portion I couldn't say "no" to, the pack of sweets next to the shop checkout desk.

Whilst no I will not lose my extra weight in a period of strange starvation, I will whittle it away gradually, with purpose of activity and good habit. What else to say but watch my space ;o)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Atlantic Rowing Race 2007 is underway

After having my interest renewed by a recent e-mail from a colleague I looked up the events homepage...

Atlantic Rowing Race 2007 – The Worlds Toughest Rowing Race

They started yesterday (3rd December), ahead of them lays an immense challenge crossing an ocean using their knowledge of the tidal flows and pairs of oars.

I'll be following 'Unfinished Business' (see earlier post) they are raising money for the Meningitis Trust (their event blog and fundraising link is at ). [this link since expired]

Monday, December 03, 2007

Build a motivation CD and you will run...

"Build a motivation CD and you will run..." - no, I don't mean sit in a sound studio and record your deepest thoughts on how to attain a wonderful life and success in your sphere of work (though if the mood takes you to do so go ahead,... it is after all a lucrative market!).

What I mean is get some of your favourite music (the kind that makes you move about like a nutter whilst in your armchair) and get it onto some device you can use whilst running or working out.

Several reasons to "Build a motivation CD"...
1) You will feel inspired by the rhythm and tempo to work hard.

2) It will distract you from what you may otherwise feel is a "dull" workout (the same stretch of park land running track can even with changing seasons be a bit monotonous if you run it a lot).

3) It's a fun exercise in itself to work out what in your music collection inspires you to greater efforts... you might find the theme from the "Rocky" movies is surpassed by that stirring classical movement that gets you waving your arms conductor style!!

4) You can re-burn, reshuffle, rejuvenate, restart the tracks whenever they too begin to feel a bit samey.

How to "Build a motivation CD"...
Well know this bit is as simple or as complicated as your circumstance dictates. There are more routes than might otherwise appear obvious. I am not gonna tell you how do this in detail, there is always a tech geek in anyone's sphere of friends / colleagues....

1) an MP3 player - there are a great many of differing price - the lower end of the scale get cheaper all the time (and given you are likely to put it through wear and tear a cheap replacement to make if need be). They very often link to a computer via USB leads meaning the interface is 'plug and play' and simply requires 'dragging and dropping' tracks onto the device.

2) a cassette walkman - okay, old school, but far less likely to skip than CD players. Have the benefit of being simple to operate for those not of the "facebook", "myspace", "youTube" generation. Again now relatively cheap, so can be replaced if dropped during a hard session without hurting the pocket too much. Editing might be fun if your HiFi is so new it no longer has a double tape deck, but if it is new you could no doubt transfer 'new' format digital media onto the analog tape pretty simply.

3) a CD Walkman - making a CD (CD burning) can be a bit of a pain depending on how computer literate you are and what software you have access to. Though once mastered it does mean that you can share your inspiration with fellow gym goers (ahem, albeit bending rules on sharing music slightly, kinda counts as a public broadcast but hey very few 'artistes' would begrudge you your motivation I'm sure?!?!)... what gym doesn't have a CD player in the corner? Does mean that others may hear that classical stirring track you like and wonder just when the theme from "Rocky" will come on.

4) Mobile phone - aside from being handy if you are running by yourself in 'that' part of town many now have music / radio capacity. Great option if you like to keep up with current affairs but don't catch the news at home, for example. The phones that can will come with all the bumph to guide you with the "how to", some might need you to buy a headset or other add-on, but its well worth considering the next time you upgrade (check you contract has insurance, if you are on one, handy with the afore mentioned drop risk). Many will have software which will give you more or less the 'drag and drop' track options.

5) iPod or other similar - kinda should be under the "MP3" type category, but as a lot are "MP4" I can split hairs. Basically the bits of kit that belong at the fancier end of the personal music spectrum... they usually bristle with handy features and bigger storage capacities. Some even come with jogging add-on's which will alter the beat of the song to fit the rhythm of your foot steps. Whizz bang, and great if you like running and working out all the time and get the benefit of the gadgets... can be a bit of a target of thieves and you will be all the more gutted to drop it losing your entire CD collection that you spent weeks burning onto it!!

The simplest motivational track available...
The cheapest and simplest alternative to all of these is of course to drag a friend / colleague along with you so that you can chat / share the pain / plan your next sporting conquest or whatever as you run and workout. By far the most rewarding in as far as you have a witness to your goals, improvements, and a motivator (i.e. someone to race in a sprint burst, hehe).

Motivation comes from within for sure, but don't hesitate to give yourself variety in your endeavours be that a new motivation CD, a new challenge, a new sport, a new route around the park.... Have fun :o)

Another weeks activities...

Well I will be trying to get back on the bike this week, last week (below) shows another week where I failed to keep that going. Work has been the main reason, though I can't deny that the cold and erratic weather does not have more than a little to do with it also.

Training LogRowStretchRunErgoCircuitWeightsCycle

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Bad news... travels slower!?!?!

Bum, I discovered (if that really is the right word for getting on the scales) that I am heavier than I have been in quite a long time!!! A#s#, indeed according to my scales I am currently 15st 10lbs.... nooooooo!!!

Can hardly really keep up the pretense of surprise given that I have been enjoying my food all too much lately in any form at any time... the faster the form the better lately. I am not happy and will be cutting out the extra snacking and being sensible to put myself back on track..... especially as the Crimbo food fest is looming..... argh!!!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Charity fundraisers

This week I have had news of two charity efforts that involve huge personal strength of differing kinds. One in the South pole and the other in the North Atlantic.....
Polar Trek
One of the recent post-grads from where I work, Cameron Hudson, is about to embark on a 700mile trek across Antarctica to raise funds for Guide Dogs for the Blind and the International Glaucoma Association.

This is a huge physical and mental challenge and Cameron hopes to raise at least £250,000 for these worthy causes. For more information and to find out how to make a donation (which is via the justgiving website), please visit  [link since expired]
2007 Atlantic Rowing Race
Colleagues from the Cardiff rowing community are taking on the 2007 Atlantic Rowing Race.

Rower Jo Davies trained at LRC as part of the Cardiff University Rowing Squad. After failing to complete the Atlantic Rowing Race in 2005 due to injury, Jo is attempting the crossing again this year with three other women, all of whom were forced to retire from the 2005 race for different reasons.

Their crew - 'Unfinished Business' - will leave the Canary Islands on 3 December and race to Antigua in the 2007 Atlantic Rowing Race, raising money for the Meningitis Trust in the process. Support the girls and follow their progress here:  [link since expired]
I find the kind of efforts people like these go to quite incredible, to put lives on hold and on the line in the name of charitable fundraising is something I am very much in awe of. I will be supporting these and other efforts, seems the least I can do for the moment.

Ahem, what happens when work gets in the way...

The last couple of weeks I have been attending a Welsh language course in the mornings which have had a couple of knock on effects... firstly I am pretty tired from getting up early, secondly work has had to try and be compressed into a little less time (not really managed that yet). The other thing that has impacted on my training I have been taking the train into work to get to the course in time and in a fresh frame of mind... this is probably me finding an easy way out of cycling on cold mornings... although it isn't nice turning up in class hot and sweaty from the cycle to work.

The answer is to arrive at work in time to cool down from the ride, therefore get up earlier, argh - I like to sleep as much as I can... I am very definitely an individual who needs the 8 hour mark of good sleep!!

This week has been a bit better than last week, in as far as I have done some quality training, albeit not great quantity then certainly in a better fashion than I have been doing. I did some ergo work that I intended to strengthen up some of my slide work, and from what little I did it seems to be a move in right direction ;o)

Last weeks training table - ahem not much in it!!

Training LogRowStretchRunErgoCircuitWeightsCycle