Climbing out of the doldrums

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It feels like every post of late has begun with something along the lines of, I’ve not written much lately…  and that’s true.  The truth is I was becoming a little bit befuggled, the winter mornings dark and cool make staying in bed look a lot more inviting than getting up for a run.  Add to that my feeling that I wasn’t making progress, and lack of planning out what I was going to be doing each morning/week and you have a perfect storm of rationalsation that would end up with me waking up in a few months going #$%^ I’m unfit again…

So what do you do when you find yourself lacking in motivation and drive?  The option that I was going with to start off with was to go with it and enjoy my sleep-ins, except that I wouldn’t actually enjoy them, I would lie there beating myself up for not getting out of bed all the while staying in bed…  some might label that a little on the stupid side, the least I could have done was skip a workout and enjoy the experience.  Clearly this work avoidance scheme wasn’t working for me any more than trying to train without a plan was working for me.  In fact it was beginning to feel like the photo above – well and truly out of control and in danger of crashing down.

Clearly it was time to bring some structure back to my training and to this end  I have engaged the services of local coach Mark Sutherland.  For those of you who have been paying attention to sport in NZ over the past 20 years you may have come across his name before, making his name coaching Ian Ferguson & Paul MacDonald back in 1987, Mark has continued to coach a number of international athletes to world acclaim.  needless to say I am far from the dizzying heights of olympic gold, but the skills and rigor that Mark has provided over the past couple of weeks have already shown me that I made the right decision to enlist his aid.

Having a plan laid out each week has made getting up in the dark that little bit easier, and having someone other than myself to explain why I chose the duvet rather than the pavement to is definitely a great motivator.  The plan Mark presented me with has added some much needed variety to my training while not increasing the volume overall.

After my first full week on the new programme I am already feeling the effects, I’m definitely working harder than I was before and I am seeing some improvement already, some of this is possibly due to having a bit of a break and then getting back into it with renewed vigor but I can already feel myself getting a little bit faster and stronger.

Its going to be an interesting few months coming up, I am traveling for work quite a bit so I’ll be training in some new places – new roads to ride and paths to run.  The weather is getting a lot cooler too so I am having to work out just what gear works when its below zero.  All I can say at the moment is that I need some gloves…

The first weeks training

Saturday – Bike 32k, Run 7k

Sunday – Kayak 14k

Monday – Ride 22k

Wednesday – Run 5k, Ride 13k

Thursday – Run 9k

If you want to contact Mark you can find him on his website http://www.thegoldmedalzone.co.nz/

 

Getting old and creaky…

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Regular readers will notice that I’ve been a bit quiet of late, partly that’s because I’ve been recovering from an operation, partly because I didn’t seem to have anything to say. (Those who know me personally know that this doesn’t happen very often)

My last week of training went really well, I managed to get in all the rides and runs that I had planned, and my Achilles were getting back to normal thanks to my physio and my exercises.  On the weekend I did my longest ride yet, which was great even if it did highlight that I need to look at a different seat, or at least harden my butt to the one I’ve got 🙂

Last week I went into hospital for an operation on my heart to fix (hopefully) the electrical issues I have once and for good.  While that sounds fairly major, it’s the third time I’ve had it (its hard to get a good surgeon these days) and I have been awake during the operation the last couple of times.  It’s actually quite surreal watching your heart on the screen as they operate.  Note this is a keyhole procedure, I’m looking at a computer monitor, there is no blood.

The downside of the operation is that I’m not allowed to do anything strenuous for two weeks afterwards and I’ve checked, this includes running and cycling.  So for the time being, I’ve just got to take it easy and keep up with my calf stretches and some other core work that I’ve been doing to counteract 25 years of sloth and gluttony.  I have been amazed at how much strength my body has lost and starting to get fit again has really highlighted just how it is so easy to kid yourself that you are more active than you actually are.

On a lighter note, I also hit 92kg and 5kg of weight loss.  I’m still not at my target weight but I am on my way and losing the weight is a great motivator.  Technically I’m still overweight with a BMI of 26.9 but I am now closer to healthy than I am obese!

  • Monday – Bike 17k
  • Wednesday – Bike 17k
  • Friday – Bike 17k
  • Saturday – Bike 35k, Run 5k
  • Monday – Bike 17k

What a weekend!

WP_20160120_06_01_17_Pro_LIWhat a weekend!  I watched the live stream and GPS tracking of this years Coast to Coast competitors with a mixture of fear and awe.  The winners of each of the respective races and sections were extremely humbling, the sheer pace they set absolutely staggered me – I’m not sure I’ve ever been able to run/bike that fast let alone do it now, it was truly inspirational to watch. Full details of the winners etc is available on the Coast to Coast website.

It would be easy to get discouraged by these seemingly inhuman feats of speed and endurance, but what really inspired me this weekend was the photos of the rest of the competitors, the average men and women who had decided that this was the year that they were going to test themselves like they’ve never tested themselves before.  Their photos, looking tired but happy along the course, really reaffirmed my decision to compete next year.  The oldest competitor this year has nearly 30 years on me, if he can do it then so can I.  So to all the athletes who competed this year, I salute you and thank you for the inspiration to keep going.  I’ll be going back to look over those photos again and again as the next 12 months roll past to give me a shot of inspiration and keep me on track.

This week training was a little sporadic – there’s no real excuse other than I just didn’t feel up to it.  I was originally planning on a combination of cycling and running but after Wednesday’s run I flagged the run for the rest of the week because my Achilles are still not 100% and I want to nip this in the bud before it sidelines me later in the year.  I did manage a new cycle route on Saturday, the weather was pretty warm but I decided to alter my normal route and go up Te Miro hill.  Te Miro is a slow steady climb over 4.5 kilometers with an elevation gain of 150m and its a long slow (well mine was) grind.  This was my first attempt at this route and I was happy to reach the top/school without stopping.  I did stop at the school and have something to drink and eat, and a well earned rest.

From there I carried on across the top to the hill that I normally run up and came down that hill (which is much steeper than Te Miro)  All in all I climbed a total of 350m on my ride that day and my legs were having a bit of a moan by the end of it, but the euphoria of actually riding a route that I had once thought of as unachieveable was pretty damn good and a great way to finish up a week that had felt a bit hum drum in the training stakes.

Tuesday – Ride 16k

Wednesday – Run 6k

Saturday – Ride 23k

 

Ouch, that hurt…

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Last week I had a nice reminder that I’m getting on a bit, don’t get me wrong, I’m not old, but the halcyon days of my youth have become a gilded memory and my body is starting to remind me in subtle and not so subtle ways that I can’t quite perform at the levels I remember.

I was really happy with my 10k effort last Saturday and I felt good all things considered so on Monday I went for my normal 40 minute run, but I thought it was time to add the hill back into at least one of my weekly runs.  After all the Coast to Coast mountain run is 33k’s long but involves 800+m of elevation gain, so it makes sense to me to make sure I train on hills to get myself ready for the actual event.

Monday morning I woke up still a little stiff from the weekends long run and my Achilles were still a little tight, but I walked them loose before I began my slow run – 25 minutes up and 15 down – I actually had a good run, although it was well off my flat pace but I was definitely fitter and it was easier than the last time I had tackled the hill. (10 weeks ago just before I started the couch to 5k series – time really does fly when you’re pounding pavements) However on Tuesday morning my Achilles were really stiff and I was not as mobile as I should be.  Luckily I had an appointment with Laura my physio who had already been treating my stiff Achilles.

Laura took one look at me hobbling into her office and pretty much said “no more running for the rest of the week” To be honest, that was the best news out as it had gone beyond stiff and was fast approaching quite sore, I could ride my bike though so that meant that I could still get some training in.  Laura worked some of the tightness out of my calves and Achilles and sent me off with some more exercises to help with my underdeveloped calf muscles. (That’s what happens when you stop walking everywhere and only drive)

So for the rest of the week I had a welcome change of cycling instead of running, I cycled for the same duration as I normally run, and we’re lucky enough to have a 17k loop that takes me just on 40 minutes.  The riding and exercises to work my calves definitely helped my Achilles and by the weekend I had no pain and could blast out the exercises I had been given a lot easier than in the previous weeks.

Finally on Saturday I decided that even if I couldn’t run I was going to get some K’s in, so the dog and I walked up the hill and then continued on for a few more K’s enjoying the views and the sun from the top of Maungakawa.  We walked the majority of it but there was some running once we were on the top and everything was limber and pain free, it felt good to run a few K’s and Zoe (the dog) really enjoyed it as well – I’m going to have to take her out on a few of my morning runs as well.

All in all a good week, even though I was not running for all of it.  The biking was a nice change and a reminder that I also have two other disciplines that I need to work on.

The week that was:

  • Monday – Run 6k
  • Wednesday – Ride 17k
  • Thursday – Ride 17k
  • Saturday – Walk 14k

Two Weeks Holiday

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I’m back at work again after two glorious weeks off in the Wairarapa at the bottom of the North Island of New Zealand.  I do have to apologise for the tardy postings while I was away, I had written the two articles that went out the other day and scheduled them to publish at intervals while I was away but something went wrong and for some reason they never published.  To make it worse I then published them in the incorrect order – never mind, I’m sure the 15 of you who regularly read the blog can work it out.

The holiday was great – the weather was a bit windy at the beginning, but nothing a crayfish and some fish couldn’t help.  We were pretty  much completely alone in our little bach on the beach, with beautiful sea views and empty farmlands all around.  I was excited to be somewhere different to go for a run and explore.

I managed to get 3 runs in a week as well as some hiking and kayaking – although the kayaking was in a sit on top fishing kayak, not a sea kayak or multi-sport boat.  Still I figure that at this stage any paddling will help to build kayaking muscle and I needed something a bit more stable to drop the cray pot with and fish from.

Once the weather sorted itself out the days were hot and sunny with beautiful sunrises and cloud free skies, the temperature was hot and the best time for any exercise was either first thing in the morning or at Gin O’clock – needless to say I was running first thing in the morning.  Behind our bach was a big hill which Chicken and I decided to climb on one of my rest days – we followed a ridge line up to the summit of the hill, a short 4k round trip, but the 250m elevation in the mid-morning sun made it a bit of a chore, not to mention that my 15yr old step-daughter is Waaaayyy fitter than I am.  To add a little insult to injury, Buddy had decided to race us to the top and came directly up the front of the hill – a far steeper and direct route.  We won, but only just.

As for fitting in training, well I had week 8 and 9 to complete which were to be 28 and 30 minutes of constant running, which to be honest I had already been doing the week before.  So while I finished the podcast series I was already running for 30-40 minutes by the end of the holiday.  The NHS Couch to 5k series has been really good for me, it forced me to pace myself as my fitness increased and made my progress much more linear than it had previously been and is a really great way to get yourself running.

The long lazy days were perfect for pushing out the length of my runs, with no real calls on my time and the ability to have an afternoon snooze, it just felt right to push my run duration out to 40 minutes.  Needless to day the distances covered while on holiday are a bit longer than I’ve been doing in the past, but I’ve felt really good about the additional distance and my body seems to be ready to stretch the distances I’m running.

On Saturday I felt like I was ready for a new challenge and I decided to go on a longer run than I had done previously, so I readied myself for an hours run and decided on an appropriate course and set off.  I was listening to an audiofuel podcast of 160bpm music and monitoring my heart rate as per the Maffetone method and busted out the 10k of my chosen route in a little over an hour, not bad considering my Round the Bridges 6.5k was 52 minutes.

Holiday Training.

Week 1

  • Tuesday – Run 6k
  • Wednesday – Walk 4k
  • Thursday – Run 5k
  • Friday – Paddle 8k
  • Saturday – Run 7k

Week 2

  • Tuesday – Run 7k
  • Tuesday – Paddle 5.6k
  • Wednesday – Paddle 6k
  • Thursday – Run 6k
  • Saturday – Run 10k

Back to Work

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Yep, all too soon the Christmas break ended and I’ve been back at work, although a 4 day week went some way to making the transition a bit easier.

If you’ve been following the blog for a while now, you may notice that the picture looks a little different today.  Normally I try to get a good shot during my warm ups (or turn rounds) on at least one run of the week but because I got the chance to paddle last week I managed to get some shots while I was in the boat.  The one above is from the limestone rock formations in the Raglan harbour.  As you can see the weather was fantastic even if the rock gardening was a little tame in the harbour.  Strangely enough I was a bit busy paddling in the rougher stuff at the harbour mouth and didn’t manage to get a decent picture, I’ll have to work on something to make that a bit better.

It’s been quite a good week for exercise too, I managed to get out on my bike again for the first time since starting the couch to 5k series and I can see the improvement in my bike times just from the additional fitness.  Who knew, getting fit in one area has benefits in others, its almost like its a conspiracy 🙂  I managed to drop a couple of minutes on my round the block time and did it keeping my heart rate in my training zone.

Which is a nice segue into a change I have made to my training.  I’ve been reading quite a bit around endurance training and different methodologies and came across Phil Maffetone who is a proponent of purely aerobic training dictated by HR and keeping it in a specific zone.  Once I got my Garmin watch with Heart Rate I decided to give this a try and see how it worked for me.  It’s early days but it seems to be showing some promise and I will keep using it for the time being, and write a more in depth post about it in the near future.

I have found it invaluable on my longer run, I’ve run around the block twice now which is a nice even 6k and have managed to run the entire distance (YAAAYYY) and more importantly have done so without hurting myself or feeling like I was dying, which is probably more important at the moment.

  • Monday – Run 5.24k
  • Wednesday – Run 5.34k
  • Thursday – Bike 17k
  • Friday – Run 6k (the block)

We’re off on holiday for the next two weeks so posts will come when I can get to the internet.  Have fun and I’ll talk soon.

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas!

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Well a merry Christmas to everyone, I hope you enjoyed the festive season and Santa was kind to you.

Santa (aka Jane) was extremely good to me, I’ve been lusting after a bit of exercise tech ever since I started on this get fit kick and Santa was kind enough to ensure that it was waiting for me under the tree this Christmas!

So amongst the presents under our tree was a brand new Garmin Forerunner 920XT and a set of sensors for my bike!  The Forerunner 920XT is a premium multisport watch and even has a quick release kit to allow it to fit on a standard Garmin bike mount.  It collects a heap of data from your run/ride/swim or paddle and will help me ensure that I’m training as efficiently as possible, plus it looks the part which is always important.  Once I’ve worked out all the functions and how to use it I will post a review (to add to the many that are already out there) and my thoughts on it.

I did manage to get in all my runs this week, although there was some juggling of the program so that I wasn’t running on Christmas morning and had a couple of days off over the busiest part of the Christmas break.  The weather has turned extremely hot in the last few days, so running early is really important otherwise I just burn to a crisp.  The upside is that I’ve been in the pool quite a lot and have been putting in some lengths which is working my shoulders and other paddling muscles in preparation for our holiday later in January and the beginning of my kayak training.

  • Tuesday – Run 5.0k
  • Thursday – Run 5.0k
  • Sunday – Run 5.0k

 

Travelling again

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It’s been a pretty good year for travel this year.  Usually I don’t travel that much these days, but this year I have been overseas twice for work and last week Jane and I headed back to sunny Queensland to attend her uncles 70th birthday!  So yaaayyy for traveling, but its not so good for maintaining running schedule, still, I had already traveled and come up with my 8 tips for running while you travel so it should be fine right?

It’s amazing just how much difference 6 weeks can make to the weather, and whereas last time I was on the Gold Coast I was running in the mid-high 20’s this time it was hitting the low 30’s quite early in the morning.   I did still get out for my runs though, and Jane joined me for one as well – she would walk with me for my warm-up and I would then run and turn round at the end of my running sections of the Week 4 couch to 5k podcast and then walk back to meet her.  As a result I did a couple of days where I put in some decent K’s.

Planning my runs worked really well for the first few days in Coolangatta where the beach front path provides some of the best running scenery around, but I got it a bit wrong when we moved inland to stay with family.  I planned a route on google maps but the reality wasn’t as good as the map indicated.  The run started OK but I hit a fairly decent hill just as my run was about to start and there was also no footpath for one section.  Not to be discouraged I pushed myself up the hill and round the course I had decided upon, and then proceeded to get lost when I missed a fairly major “feature” on the run. (I mean how was I to know there was a railway line in the way).  Needless to say the run wasn’t my best, although with getting lost and a small detour meant that I covered about 8-9k in total.  To add insult to injury, Brisbane had decided that the previous days of 30+ temperatures were just not on and it rained on me for the entire hour or so that I was out.

We flew out on the Monday, which should have been a run day, but I’ve decided to redo week 4 this week so that I can do it justice and week 5 has some big runs that I thought some more training wouldn’t hurt to do before I gave them a go.

 

Monday – 5.0 K’s

Thursday – 4.75K plus 5k Walk

Saturday – 9k due to getting lost and walked about half.

 

 

The month that was..

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Well the month of Movember is drawing to a close and my move for Movember efforts closed off this morning with the first run of week three of the NHS Couch to 5K series.  I managed to get some excercise in 28 of the 30 days of November, and while I could go for a bike ride this afternoon, I wont as my legs are feeling more than a little tired after everything I have put them through in the last 30 days.

Last week was quite a good week, I found by Friday that I was able to keep running at the end of each run session in the podcast and my sore knee felt quite a bit better after changing my route and shoes.  The road I was previously running on had a steep camber and I think this was causing me to aggravate my knee, so a change of course and shoes seems to have made a difference to it and the knee feels better, if not completely healed just yet.

One thing I did find over the last month was that trying to do some excercise everyday of the week meant that I did feel like I was over training a little by the end of the month – basically my legs have ached for the last 10 days or so and really just need a break, especially as I walked up to the top of Maungakawa and back on Saturday which meant that on Sunday I actually just had a rest day and chilled out. (Some ghouls and super mutants may have suffered as a result)

I did go back over my whole month just to get a feel of how many K’s I did in official training runs/walks this month, and was surprised to discover that I ran 79.6k and biked 49.1k, which means that I managed to do just over the equivalent of HALF the cost to coast distance in an entire month, its going to be an interesting year next year.

 

  • Monday – Run 4.6k
  • Tuesday – Bike 10k
  • Wednesday – Run 4.3k
  • Friday – Run 4.6k
  • Saturday – Walk 9.2k

The week that was…

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Last week started out pretty tough, I hadn’t really made any plans for training after the round the bridges, and as that run was on the Sunday my normal Monday morning run wasn’t really an option.  After my experience on the Round the Bridges run I decided that I needed to change the focus of my training from relatively casual, but distance based to a more focussed plan that was geared to get me up to the point where I could run for 30 minutes/5 k.

Luckily there are plenty of couch to 5k plans out there on the internet either written down or as podcasts and being a bit of a geek I went down the podcast route.  I looked at a couple but settled on the NHS couch to 5k series, for no other reason that a get fit guide produced by the UK National Health Service is unlikely to set unrealistic goals or cause me to injure myself.

The first week was really good – the run/walk is a 5 minute warm up walk then 60 seconds running interspersed with 90 seconds of walking.  After the previous work I have done I found that the first few running sections were quite easy, however after the 5th and 6th I was getting quite tired and I really appreciated the ‘coach’ letting me know what was coming up and making me stick to the regime. My only criticisim of the podcast was that it didn’t tell me when I had gone halfway through the podcast and I ended up going for a bit longer than the 30 minutes on the first day.  Apparently it will take 9 weeks to get me to a point where I’m able to run for 30 minutes or 5k, and at the moment I’m doing 4.5k in the 30 minute programme so hopefully I will be able to do a bit more than the 5k in 30 minutes by the end.

Tuesday – Run 4.46k  36:30

Friday – Run 4.5k 32:00

Saturday – Run 4.8k 35:00