A Bridge too far?

The last few days I’ve been feeling a bit drained both physically and mentally. Mentally is a combination of work as well as trying to balance everything at home (which I admit i struggle with but I’m fortunate that i have a fantastic wife who seems to put up with me). Physically I’ve been drained because I’ve had a head cold to contend with (which due to my asthma always has the potential to move to my chest) and a dodgy stomach that has led to me dancing the sour apple quick step (another Profanisaurus reference) for a few days now.

Imagine my joy then when the plan said ‘Recovery Run 15 miles’!

Now just to be clear I’ve never run further than a half marathon before so not only was this daunting because of the distance but i wasn’t feeling 100% and my legs were tired and heavy from some intervals I’d done two days before.

I loaded up my running water bottles and stashed them on my belt along with a couple of caffeine gels and my phone. I also made sure that i packed some emergency tissues just in case i was blessed with a visit from the poo fairy mid way through as we all know I’ve been caught out there before.

Just as i was about to pop my earphones in and set off i looked at my wife and said “keep your phone near you in case something goes wrong and i need picking up please”

“I’m not picking you up!” She shot back.

I paused, one earphone in and the other on its way to blocking out the world, “w w what?”

“I’m not picking you up, you can make your own way back!” She clarified.

“Oh ok then” I whimpered as i set off out the door. The first couple of miles were sore as my legs loosened up and my lungs opened but i eventually made it to 4 miles when i popped my first gel. This was just prior to crossing the bridge which I hadn’t done in a long time. Now the Humber Bridge is an engineering sight to behold if you’re unaware of it, once the longest single span suspension bridge in the world, bigger than the Golden Gate Bridge but just not painted or marketed as well. It’s great to run across as it has dedicated footpaths which make it traffic free and the sights are incredible which really help as otherwise it can feel incredibly monotonous trudging across it. I got to the other side and swung by a nearby visitors centre for an emergency toilet stop before cracking back on with the run and heading home, popping my second gel at 8 miles. It was about 12 miles in when it got really tough and my legs felt really heavy. I had to stop and walk on a couple of occasions but i eventually made it home and celebrated by jumping straight into a bath which my loving wife had made me and polishing off some left over spaghetti bolognese with a recovery shake. Oh yeah I’m a class act alright.

Even better was having to get dressed and go to work after that where i basically just moaned and groaned with every movement like an arthritic porn star.

That being said i had surprised myself by hitting a new milestone, literally and yet the plan demands more of me with an even further run planned for a few days time. No time to rest on my laurels just stretch it out, walk it off and get ready for the next round but try to have some faith that your body will do it, it’s the mind that’s the hardest one to train.

P.s. Yes i know i look a dick in the visor but it keeps the sweat and sun out my eyes without boiling my head.

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Spinning a yarn

Now I don’t know about you but whilst I really enjoy a spinning class for how much variety you can fit into a short space of time one of the main annoyances for me is the utter commercialised bollocks that the instructors (be they on screen or in person) spout during the workout. The ability to use simple, everyday language that the whole group understands is apparently stripped from the majority of them when they mount that bike at the front.

Examples of this are:

Find a connection with the gear”

What in sweet Mary does this shite mean!? Am I trying to build an emotional connection with an inanimate object!? Am I looking for some common ground with a piece of exercise equipment!? Why not just say keep increasing the resistance until it feels like you’re actually riding a bike and not one where the chain’s slipped off?

Power climb”

Look, there is nothing powerful about me sitting down, grimacing and making faces like I’m constipated as a i try to stomp my feet down one after another like some sort of tantrum riddled toddler in a matrix film. It’s a seated climb/agony, nuff said.

“Add another gear”

Now this one depends on the type of spinning bike you use. The old ones they used to have at my gym used to have a lever that could be moved back and forth in order to add or remove resistance as required and this would be translated into a number that was displayed on the small screen nearby. Now this was brilliant as you could establish, for example, that ‘4’ was your warm up gear, ’10’ was your racing gear and ’18’ was your climbing resistence, etc. The bikes they have now however, don’t have such a visual representation and instead stick with the incredibly vague knob/dial that you keep turning in the hope that something happens until all of a sudden it’s like you’ve deployed the anchor and began your ascent up Everest! This makes it really frustrating when they instructor says ‘add another gear’ as you don’t know whether to turn it a little bit, half a turn, a full turn, seventeen times round. It’s like saying ‘you’re underweight, eat more food’
(how much food?). It would be much better if they worked off the cadence if they don’t have a gear number to refer to.

“Racing resistence”

I’m aware that in the previous paragraph i used the term ‘climbing resistence’ but I’ll defend this by saying that this is more identifiable as it’s basically the point where you have to stand up on the pedals to get anything done but ‘racing resistence’? What the chuff is that!? Am i racing the Team Sky peloton? The old guy in the mobility scooter that trundles around the village? Those kids on their bikes nipping round the streets causing havoc during school run? It’s too vague a term.

Spin instructors, get a grip, use simple terms in plain language and you’ll probably connect with your audience much better.

There are other terms no doubt that just haven’t sprung to my mind right now but the fact remains that it’s still a great workout if a little frustrating at times.

Battling a serious case of the f@%k its

Slumps, we all go through them at some point. Times when you just generally can’t be arsed with something and your motivation is practically non existent. Well these last few days I’ve been a bit like that. I’d love to say that it was down to finding out that my dad was in hospital with a suspected kidney stone (it’s all sorted now and he’s fine) and that is partly true but I’d felt this way for the past few days. I’d let the diet slip a little bit and working nights didn’t help so all in all things weren’t exactly going to plan. I’d expected times like this because after all I’d gone from doing some occasional general fitness to full on physical warfare on my body and stripping just about all the fun stuff out of my diet. To be fair I’m surprised I’ve not been through this already.

Then, as if the Nike running app sensed my melancholic mood, it gifted me a most wonderful present, following the last benchmark run it had reconfigured the plan and i no longer needed to do the 12 mile run that i had been begrudgingly lining myself up. Now I’m not a religious person so I’ll just thank Elvis or the baby Chuck Norris for this little beauty.

So instead of the 12 mile run i had to a 5.75 mile run which worked out nicely as i had to pick the car up from the garage after it’s service. The run went well and considering it was meant to be a recovery run, i just can’t seem to bring my pace down by much compared to my ‘normal’ runs. The run was done with a couple of calf testing inclines thrown in and all worked out well in the end so to celebrate i drove home and knocked up some soup, a shepherd’s pie and some more breakfast cookies before walking the dog and doing the school run.

I even managed to squeeze some foam rolling in despite our Golden Retriever (Stuart) getting right up in face and nudging me as he clearly thought that it was game time what with daddy down on his level.

Battle plan for tomorrow is another benchmark run, a bit of spinning (not swinging, that’s a different blog) and maybe some time in the pool depending on how busy it is before battling the supermarket for the big shop and the school run. See you never hear Chris Froome or the Brownlees talking about that sort of shit do you!?

The fact is, despite initially having about as much motivation to carry on as the government have of sorting out Brexit (ooo he’s gone political), if you look for something positive you’ll find it and that may just spark your appetite again. And on that pearl of wisdom (more Norman than Buddha), laters.

Sit rep

It’s been about 6 weeks since i last weighed myself on the Boditrax machine and after my recent dip in mojo i wasn’t overly looking forward to the results but was pleasantly surprised to find that I’d not only lost weight but that this weight was mainly fat as my body fat percentage has decreased yet my muscle mass has slightly increased. My visceral fat has gone down, which is always good, so clearly there is some good to all of this.

I’ll try and check in again around the start of May to see how things look then but for now i can’t really complain too much, i just wish it made me a bit taller but life’s never that kind.

Jan 22

March 7

One way to beet the competition

A few years ago i read an article following a study by the University of Exeter which basically found that drinking beetroot juice can help you exercise longer and this is due to the nitrate found in it which helps your blood cells to carry more oxygen around your body.

If you want to read more about it then a short version of the findings can be found here:

http://www.exeter.ac.uk/news/featurednews/title_472029_en.html

Now ever since then I’ve bored my friends and colleagues with this stuff time and time again so i thought I’d bore a wider audience this time, you lot. Not only does it help with endurance but it also helps to lower blood pressure naturally so the benefits are two fold.

Surely there must be some sort of catch i hear you say? Well yes, there kind of is. Firstly the taste is an acquired one but a lot of them these days come with a small amount of apple juice included to help make them more palatable as otherwise it can taste like you’re basically drinking dirt. Secondly there’s the fact that it turns your pee and your poo pinky red and so, despite using it for many years when I’m training for something, i still forget and have a small micro panic every time i pee as i think my kidneys have packed in and I’m in trouble. Obviously I’m not and this is all natural.

Again, it could largely be a placebo effect but as the study shows there is some scientific evidence to back it up so that’ll do for me and I’ll take any help i can get so for the sake of pink piss I’ll knock it back and crack on.

If you’re interested in giving it a go then you’ll find it in most supermarkets and health shops in both the larger juice carton size and the smaller ‘shot bottle’ size. The shots might be harder to find and tend to be in the health shops but they’re great for throwing in a kit bag if you’re travelling to an event.

You’ll find out yourself how you’re body reacts to it but I’ve found that i need to leave at least 2-3 hours between drinking it to exercising otherwise i end up with a stitch.

Enjoy

Sprints

Ah yes, it’s that time again, time to feel like an old man as my inner youth constantly reminds me that I’m slowing down as I get older, time to grit my teeth and move my arms slightly faster in the vain hope that I’ll go a few seconds quicker than usual.

I was delighted to see that I had 14 x 200m sprints today so I set off out the door and did my usual 1 mile(ish) warm up loop before settling in at the start point of the 200m that id used the other week and was already familiar with the start and finish points so I didn’t have to think too much about it.

Even though the app suggested that I rest for about 3.5 mins in between sprints I decided to cut it down to 2.5 to save time as I’ve found that they surprisingly take longer than you think to complete the workout because of all the waiting around. Groundhog Day was happening not only for me but also the builders and dog walkers, etc on that road as this strange guy would walk up to a lamppost, turn around, sigh and then set off like a lacklustre rocket trying his best to go full throttle with legs and arms flailing everywhere time after time. My brain was screaming at my legs to give me more but the biological Scotty within was retorting with his usual “I’m giving it all she’s got! She can’t take much more!”

Finally they were done and the sweaty mess that was me could waddle back home for a recovery shake and a shower secretly pleased that I’d made it and was improving if only slightly given how my heart rate had been but also somewhat dreading the 12 mile long run that awaited me on the other side of a set of night shifts.

Back in the saddle

Another ‘rest day’ on the running plan so time to focus on a different discipline. What with the weather being so unseasonably fantastic it seemed only right that i get out on the bike and use the opportunity to try out my new saddle.

Now it seems that my arse is more sensitive than a highly opinionated snowflake teenager when it comes to bike saddles so over the past few years I’ve tried all sorts and ultimately just had to work through the pain that has seemingly been the erosion of my Humber Bridge (or Biffin’s Bridge, see Roger Mellie’s Profanisaurus if you’re unfamiliar with the term). However, i was lucky enough to receive an ISM saddle for my birthday (after many a huge hint was dropped) as I’d read the reviews and thrown all my eggs into one noseless basket hoping it would be the panacea for my problem.

I decided to do a very familiar route which worked out just under 40 miles and included some climbing (about 1600ft overall) some flats and plenty of lovely scenery with very little traffic.

Overall the ride was awesome and it always makes me wonder why i leave it so long between them. The awesomeness was not down to my effort as that was distinctly average due to the lack of road miles through my legs and this just being a lonely trundle round the Wolds but the views and weather were what really made it. At one point as i bobbed along a quiet country road an owl appeared over my shoulder and flew ahead of me at the same speed as if matching me. It was just a few feet above and in front of me and took my breath away how effortless it seemed whilst i wheezed and spluttered along.

The usual cafe stop was closed today so i tried a new one and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was so that will be remembered for next time.

The saddle was better than my old one but still needs some bedding in and to be fair to ISM, they do state this on their site and in the videos.

All in all I’m chalking it up as a success for now as i can sit down without fighting back tears, I’m not applying nappy rash cream and already looking forward to the next ride out.