Friday, August 19, 2011

Yippee! A 10 year low!

Image: foto76 /

Yippee, indeed this morning I weighed in at the lightest I have done at any point in the last ten years! A 10 year low of 14st 6.5lb (202.5lb or just under 92kg).

It has all been due to keeping a thorough diary / check on what I am eating. Not eating anything strange or new, not taking any supplements or pills. Just using the calorie counter to make sure I know what I am eating, and in what balance my meals are through the day (trying to avoid small breakfast versus say a large dinner and keeping everything relatively even).

The next stop, my target of 14 stone (just under 90kg).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Good run, good weight - signed up for a 10k race

Well, well, well I had a pretty good run last night. It was a 5.6 mile circuit which I completed in 51min 43sec. I set out to run it nice and relaxed. The average split was what I wish all my easy runs would be roughly, 9min 15sec per mile. I would like to make 9 the new 10, so that instead of cruising at 10min/mile in light training I would cruise at 9min/mile instead. Have to see if my change in running style facilitates this or not.

Then the morning after the night (run) before I have a pleasant surprise, I have equalled the lightest weight that I have measured in the last ten years!! This may also be contributing to an increased running pace it has to be said. I am very happy, though very aware that unlike previous bests over the last ten years I want to make this weight change stick!

In amongst all this, in fact before all this, I signed up for the Cardiff 10k race next month. It is really part of my half marathon preparation, but I am also quietly hoping for an official 10k personal best (sorry, personal record). More details on the race to follow.

Overcast, light showers, light to moderate winds, looks like heavier rain due later in the day (haven't done a weather check in a while, and it felt like a good day to bring it back).

Monday, August 15, 2011

Graph, activity and tiredness

The graph from Saturdays run was really very pleasing. The overall pace was pretty good for 'easy' running, and the half hour burst stands out nice and clearly. The more I think about the tinkering with my stride the more I think it was beneficial. The other factor that may have helped was I nice sticky energy gel thingy at around half way.
The recovery day, Sunday, was in the end very active. Started off peacefully with me watching cBeebies with my daughter while my wife went out for her long weekend run. Then I went up to the allotment did a lot of digging and picking, got home and mowed the lawn, then spent a large part of late afternoon and early evening stood at the sink prepping harvested beans for the freezer.
So it shouldn't have really come as a surprise that this morning I was dog tired? Never mind, I feel really good for all the activity and ready to keep on keeping on the move.

New training table started today, and happily as of this morning I have lost 7lb in the last 20 days.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Long, long run

I didn't set out to do a really long run, it just sort of happened. I was supposed to run for an hour and fifty minutes, but along the way a diversion inspired an idea to run around the bay. Half of the way back up the river I realised that I might he heading for a longer run that turned out to be half-marathon distance. So in the end I ran 13.24 miles in 2hrs 9mins, and was really happily surprised.

All the way around I was trying to work on my posture and running stride. I have been reading in a running magazine about economical running and how over striding can be bad for your knees. Seeing as I have had a few knee niggles I thought it would be good to try out. It turns out that modifying my stride felt far more efficient and comfortable. For 30mins of the run according to the plan I have been following was supposed to be at race pace, even that felt much more comfortable using the shorter stride length. It was quite a shock when I kept looking at the GPS watch and seeing such a healthy pace. In the end I felt some aches in my knees, but I am hoping that that is adjusting to the new stride and nothing more. Only time will tell... I am off to read some more running technique articles to see what else I have been doing wrong?!?!

Friday, August 12, 2011

PBs vs. PRs, who knew? - In which the blogger perhaps gets a little PC

I hadn't realised until recently that a PB (personal best) is not a universal term. Near enough every blog I browse notes PR (which I assume to mean 'personal record'), when did this happen? Is it an American / British alternate? Or, and I hope I am wrong, a move towards another PC (politically correct) phrase? My assumption there being that somewhere someone perhaps thought 'best' was too strong a word and opted for 'record' instead.

I simply don't know the answer, and would love to know.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Itching to run, but lacking the energy

I haven't quite gotten to the bottom of the reason, but at the moment I am itching to go running. This would / should be a great thing however I am lacking energy. There are several possible reasons and I can't decide which is most to blame (or if it is a conspiracy of all of them). Firstly, there is the diet plan / calorie counting which I think is the lead candidate given that I have lost 6lb in two weeks. Secondly, there is the possibility that one of my lovely offspring has passed on a bug, also quite likely as the youngest is teething just now. Thirdly, there is lack of sleep, which is always a strong contender in these matters (multiple reasons for sleep debt, not least watching late night news about the recent English riots). Fourth, work, but that is an ever present and can't really be put in the frame. 

Whatever it is I will try to run this evening it see how I feel, and try to blow a few cobwebs away. Perhaps while I'm zoned out during the run I'll figure it out.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New 'circuits'

From here on I am going to be putting any use of the Jillian Michaels 30-day Shred DVD in the 'circuits' box of my training table. I gave it a go last night and discovered that the first workout (and I assume all three on the disc) is very much a short sharp circuit workout. It was good and certainly had me breathing hard at times, the mix of exercises was very good and logical to follow. In many ways it suffers from many of the usual exercise video drawbacks, but there are plenty of positives to help look beyond those. It seems simple and has an obvious progression, so I hope to stick with it for a fair while.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

New record, new week

Something of to celebrate after my weekend run, a new personal best! The training plan suggested either an hour and forty pace run or a 10k race. In the interests of time I went with the shorter option, running a 10k. Only I hadn't entered a race so I choose a 10k course and went out as if I were in a race. So I set off with purpose and tried to maintain that intensity (pace) through the run. It was a lovely morning and it was really quiet on the trail. Half way around the 'course' I knew I would do well if only I could hold things together over the second half.

It was mentally a very different exercise from running from A to B in such and such a time. I really did manage to get myself into the right kind of competitive frame of mind. My 10k time in the end was 54min 47sec, a best by some margin although not of course an officially timed event. As soon as I slowed up for the short walk home the heavens opened and I received an early cold shower. I arrived on the doorstep looking like someone had thrown several buckets of water over my head!

In hindsight it was probably going to be a good run, because I had been really chuffed at losing 4lbs since my previously first Sunday of the month weigh-in. I weigh in every week for my graph (graph geek!) but I have recently plotted the monthly figure to give an easier to read all time trend. It was great to see a nice steep drop on the monthly plotted graph - which I will post up later.

Thanks to some moment of insanity I went onto a well known internet store and purchased a copy of Jillian Michaels "30-day Shred". It was a moment of 'oh, perhaps I could cross train a bit', coupled with 'those people on the calorie counting site rave about that DVD'. If it ever makes it into the DVD player I'll let you know what happens, that is the things aside from my wife crying with laughter!

In other news over the weekend was that the Cardiff Half Marathon is now full! They apparently have all of their 15,000 runners signed up and accounted for. My wife and I happily signed up some while back, and aside from getting on with the training have the grand parents booked to look after the kids. They will no doubt grab a nice coffee somewhere, whilst we both run around the fair city of Cardiff of a Sunday morning in mid-October.

Friday, August 05, 2011

TFI Friday

Been an up and down week - mileage up and weight down. Between the two I think I have run out of steam, I'm happy with training but very tired. Hopefully over the weekend things will rebalance a little, though I am unlikely to do very well with getting extra sleep in our house just now (our house seems to be set to sunrise time just now).

Looking forward to weighing in on Sunday morning, I am hoping the swank app will carry on doing its magic...
Image 'ripped' from the iPhone app myfitnesspal, showing my 'progress'.
Over the week I have been merrily blog tweaking, creating a new training tables page (see the tabs below my blog banner) to store my weekly activity logs, and generally trying to clean up the look of things. Any advice always welcome :-) 

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Lighter and briefer post

As I was updating my training table I noticed this week has been something of a 'serious' week of post content. So a quick simple one is probably in order.

Last nights run was the second in two days, it was warm and sunny out and the park was busy. I ran for 1hr 15min at 'easy' pace, and got to 7.2 miles. It was nice to run consecutive days to see how I'd go. Today I don't ache much, and though I'm very tired I am happy with my running. So far in around 5 weeks my log tells me I've covered 99 miles, which is pretty cool. I am impressing myself with the adaptation to higher miles a week, gonna try and keep it rolling.

Calorie counting, no really!

I have on the face of it succumbed to calorie counting. "Ssssh!", seems to be the general advice to those thinking of mentioning it in polite company. Calorie counting seems to have a number of negative connotations attached to it, everything from implications of an eating disorder, to obsessive compulsive disorder, or simply that the counter is 'bonkers'.  However, of course it isn't always as a negative as the common social labels, it can be a useful 'tool' for many. Having looked at a few pages it seems there are a number of communities of people trying to lose weight / get fit using this kind of system.
For me it is appeals to my inner (well okay not so 'inner') geek, numbers and graphs can easily get my interest. I plan to follow a counting 'regimin' for a few weeks to remind myself of the energy values of the foods that I tend to eat, use it to refresh habits. General, like many I guess, I over 'fuel' myself especially during periods when perhaps I'm not rowing, cycling or running. Happily the system I chose was a simple free App (yeah, those things really are everywhere for everything just now). I went with myfitnesspal, and it seems to be fabulously simple and straight-forward (in fact I found it being reviewed in a running magazine).

myfitnesspal - iphone app or website
In setting up the app I went with a weight loss strategy as I would really prefer to haul a little less if possible around my runs. So far in a week and a half I have lost 4lbs (I'm currently 14st 10lb - my lightest in a long time), and have already remembered what it is to eat what my body needs not whatever I find through the day. For me the decrease in over 'fuelling' has left me with more energy, so I am happy that a re-balance here is a positive thing.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Two most recent runs - trying to follow a plan

My last two runs have been good ones, especially the one on Saturday morning I ran 12.2 miles and actually thoroughly enjoyed it (I did it in 2hr 3min). The training plan instructed me to run for two hours with the last 30 minutes at half-marathon pace. I am not sure how far I went in 'picking up' the pace, but certainly I managed to go out reasonably steadily. In the process saving enough for the second half of the run, which worked out quicker than the first. The graph is courtesy of Garmin GPS watch and my wife working some magic. Across the graph looks great, though the last bar in only for the 0.19 of a mile and so isn't reflective of true pace. 

Thanks to Mrs. Taffi for graphing my run up and giving a copy to me :-)
Last night saw me off for a 6 mile run, which I was to do at 'easy' pace according to the training plan. I didn't manage easy exactly, it wasn't flat out nor easy pace. The first 1.5miles were too quick and then I thought I'd try and hold onto that pace a little bit. In the end I did it in 1hr 1min, instead of what should have been closer to 1hr 10min. Still it felt good in spite of the heat and humidity we have here just now. Probably will pay for my lack of discipline tonight when I am supposed to be doing a pace / fartlek session.

I am following a half-marathon plan that was 'built' by the "Half Coach" Running Method free iphone app. You input you goal race date some body stats and then it produces a scheme for you to follow. I am enjoying it so far, like a lot of things recently it satisfies my gadget geeky, and it shows a nice tidy progress graph. 

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Goal choice can give you more than you expect

There are a million and one ways to succeed, there are undoubtedly many more ways to fail. Either way lessons are learned and we move on. The hardest part of success or failure (essentially undertaking a task), is choosing what to do in the first place. Selecting a goal is one of the more difficult things in life for many people. Many set a bunch of goals at New Years Eve, just because that's a habit in some societies. The choices of those goals and goals set throughout the year are often deferred, they are not wholly driven from within.

"I will lose 20lbs", "I will quit smoking", "I will exercise more", "I will join a gym", "I will take up a new hobby"....

These kinds of goals all too often are fed by peer pressure, by perspectives based around the media, and are things our societies say we 'should' do. Real goals, and often ironically those most likely to succeed, are those we derive from within ourselves. The ones that bubble up, that 'come out of no where', the ones we wake up one morning and just do. How often do you hear someone say, "I tried that for many years, then one day I just kind of did it and I've been doing it ever since". The goal may have been attempted many different ways until then until a different angle / impetus materialised from within themselves.

Choosing a goal though however we make it happen is just plain difficult. Lives are built around frameworks that mean we can't all simply decide to get up, train for a period, and then go climb Mount Everest. Negotiation and planning sit behind the choice of most goals, even in choosing to get out and run a 10k road race. Whether we need to fit around work, family, or social commitments we need to choose goals with a degree of balance.

By this point you might believe I am about to imply that these 'pressures' on goal choice are negative, suggest that we'd all feel better if we could do whatever we want whenever we want. Ah no, I am not going that way, I feel that goals built to fit around life commitments are often the most satisfying at completion (whether in fact they fail or succeed). Why? Well, for the reason that the negotiation, the planning and the investigating gives the goal that extra something (that extra cache, relevance, or importance).

When we've chosen our goals wisely we have made that choice taking into account the full meaning of it. Not simply because it's that time of year, because that celebrity does it, or because society impressed it upon us. We had all the facts of our lives around us and set a goal choice that we genuinely own within ourselves. It is this that gives me the most satisfaction at the end of a half-marathon, that I juggled things around training, that I found ways to get fitter, that I found new advice, that I found more things that worked when I ran 2-3-4+ times a week, that I found better kit, that I found better nutrition, that I discovered different preparation... the myriad of choices and negotiations made around that goal of completing a half-marathon that generate that pay-off. Choose a goal wisely, there will be more rewards than you can calculate I promise. Go on!

Monday, August 01, 2011

New week, new month, new week's training table and new helmet

Well, well, new week (Monday already!), new month (August already!), and a new training table to try to fill up (again already!).

Week beginning Mon 1st Aug.

Happily the new helmet that my wife carefully bought for my daughter went down a treat, she was involved in picking it out and loves it. There was little sign of worries as we cycled into daycare today, at least on her part. Daddy is still not quite over the moment of terror he experienced as he looked down at the crumpled girl before he starting checking her and un-clipping her from her bike seat after last weeks accident. I hope that perhaps she'll retain her strength of nerve as she goes through life. I wouldn't say she's totally fearless but she certainly seems to have a healthy inner 'toughness'.