Monday, 4 November 2013

Myvember 2013

Hat tip to everyone raising money for male cancer issues this month. Movember is a terrific concept and every year new generations of young men will come awkwardly stumbling through puberty with the same concerns that ever other generation of men have faced. It's for those young fellas that we need to continually push the need for education, awareness and the importance of visiting your doctor to discuss honestly and without fear of embarrassment matters pertaining to our physical well-being.

I have only one concern and that is that sometimes we might just be missing the elephant in the room; that in our typical male zeal for competition where we challenge one another to grow the finest tache, or to raise the most money are we putting the cart before the horse. Shouldn't we simply make our own efforts to raise awareness. Highlight to one another that we need to ask our doctors for prostate tests and to have abnormalities examined; acknowledge that there are other benign conditions which could have similar symptoms to those of a cancer, but it's a whole lot smarter to get a benign condition checked out than to allow a cancer to develop unchecked - never mind the mental relief when that dark shadow at the back of your mind has been addressed. No point growing a big gunslinger for money and not getting your own issues addressed.

For My November this year, I'm going to sport a tache in support of the bro's who do so, but I don't want your money. I want you to look after yourself and go and get those things that checked out, checked out. Go and see your Doctor about that creaky knee - get some physio organised and get active again. Go talk about your digestive issues. Drink less this month - have a few extra AFDs (Alcohol Free Days)! Do something for yourself and your health every day whether it's a cardio session or as simple as a health check - that's what I'm going to do, even if it is just getting my teeth checked, it counts!

Starting at 86.3kg, this is MYvember:

Day Activity Effort A.F.D.
1 Treadmill 5km 26 mins Hard Y - 1
2 Boxing circuits (Sweeneys) 30 mins Easy N - 1
3 Road Running 6km Easy N - 1
4 Dental Checkup n/a N - 1
5 Spin Class 300 kCal - Hard Y - 2
6 Swimming Moderate Y - 3
7 KickBox Circuits v. Hard Y - 4
8 Gym stretch & Swim v. Easy Y - 5
9 Watch the rugby with a bottle of wine n/a N - 5
10 Swimming training Moderate Y - 6
11 Body Pump Class Hard Y - 7
12 Spin Class Hard Y - 8
13 Swimming Easy Y - 9
14 KickBox Circuits v. Hard Y -10
15 Walk Easy N -10
16 Watch Rugby n/a N -10
17 Swimming & watch Rugby, Travel to Paris v. Hard N -10
18 Jogging Champs Elysee, Arc de Triomphe Easy N -10
19 Conference & Travelling home n/a N -10
20 Walking v. Easy Y -11
21 KickBox Circuits v. Hard Y -12
22 Gym & swim Moderate N -13
23 Swim & Squash Moderate N -13
24 Daughter's birthday party ;-) n/a N -13
25 Pump Class (30 mins) Hard Y -14
26 Spin class (30 mins) Hard N -14
27 Swim & stretch Moderate Y -15
28 KickBox Circuits v. Hard N -15
29 Squash League match v. Hard N -15
30 Kids Swimming v. Easy N -15
Summary: I started the month @ 86.3 Kg and finished at 85.9 kg - that's just measurement noise unfortunately, so we can't claim any great weight loss. Just by looking at the alcohol consumption in a very specific way it seems that I've had at least a glass of wine, if not more, on exactly 50% of the days this month. If you'd asked me to predict what days I might drink during the month I'd have said probably about 6-8 days, so that's a bit disappointing - but quite telling in it's own way. I had 12 fitness sessions lasting 30 minutes or more that I would class as working hard with 5 sessions of moderate effort and 8 easy sessions. Interesting, as I feel pretty good generally, but I do think I need to lose weight!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Bike rollers

First session on cycle rollers.
Been slacking for a while using a sore knee as an excuse, but really feeling the need to get something done I finally built the bike rollers I bought in summer for winter training - easy as pie.

First thing that struck me was how much higher the bike sits of the ground when up on the rollers. Still, I gingerly climbed aboard and using the kitchen benches for support got going (I've wedged myself and the bike into a galley kitchen till I learn how to ride these things).
No freewheeling at all...
Pedal stroke completely erratic...
No balance...
Tyres were flat...
Pumped them up...
Bit better...
Got riding with hands on the handle bars for short bursts, but nothing like these guys who post internet videos claiming to have just opened the box and can ride no problem... Suspect they might be exaggerating their capabilities somewhat.

Was quickly sweating like the proverbial. Maybe due to the need for total focus, maybe due to cycling with no ventilation - although I don't sweat like that in spin classes until we really get going, so suspect it's the hidden effort of trying to stay upright.

Overall, I'm quite pleased. I can see exactly how poor and lacking in smoothness my pedal stroke is and how little I engage my core when riding. Time for some new skills and this looks like exactly the machine to help me develop those techniques!

Monday, 9 September 2013

Monday Strength training

Found a colleague at work willing to join me for a strength training Monday session. We seem to have settled on a wee pyramid session doing some old school exercises and it's great! So we've been progressing with a sets of 8/5/3/5/8 as we add weight. The idea is to quickly progress up towards what should be our maximal weight for the exercise, hopefully without getting injured or over-stressing ourselves on the way. We'll base the starting weight next week on what we attained as heaviest weight this week. after a 10 minute warm up on the trainers, we're pushing big weights on Deadlifts & Bench Press then using Clean & press as an almost aerobic allover body 'finisher'. Throw in a couple of sets of pullups & dips using body weight to remind ourselves where we are in terms of actual power to weight ratios and finally give the show ponies a wee pump doing a spot of Ezy bar curling - mainly for aesthetics, but perhaps in deference to the old school naivety of our program ;-)

Weigh-in 85 Kg; Still a bit heavy and mildly surprised that I'm not shifting any weight, as I definitely feel much better going about my business. Trousers fitting much better this week too!

  • 10 mins warm up - elliptical trainer

    ExerciseMax Weight (kg)
    BenchPress87.5 kg
  • 3 sets of 10 pull ups - failed miserably, attaining 5 on the first set then pretty much falling of the bars somewhere between 3 & 4 on the next 2 sets.
  • Did manage 1 set of 10 dips, before embarrassing myself on the next 2 sets also.
  • 3 sets of 10 Clean & Press with a 30kg BarBell - aiming to really get the heart going and get some power through speed into each movement.
  • 2 sets of 10 with 20kg on the Ezy bar.

    Felt a lot better at the end of the session than I did going into it. Old school chucking rocks about rocks!!!

  • Wednesday, 4 September 2013

    Rowing challenge - update

    So, a few more detail have emerged on this rowing challenge, which my mate's evil personal trainer has decided is a suitable end of session 'metabolic booster' (He sounds pretty evil if you ask me!) (Just for the record, the task is to perform x6 250m spints on the rowing machine (ergometer) at a pace faster than 1:30/500m - it's a bloody tough challenge in it's own right, never mind one that follows a fast paced, personal training circuit with weights). My first few attempts have been miserable failures, but Ian posted a picture of the stats for him completing 1 set in 41 seconds... and I'm nowehere near that pace. The picture led to some interesting comments on facebook. An interesting development on the thread was this bit:
    1.25/500m is FAST. For people who don't know - the 2000m WR is a 1.22/500 pace. (Albeit for 4x longer). And that guy is obviously a professional rower. So for Ian to be close to that pace, even for a 250m is fantastic.
    1:24.6/500 average for a 5:38 2000m is the record (Rob Waddell from NZ back in 1999 n the man was a monster.) My PB is 5:48 - about 20 years ago (christ I am getting old!) Full respect for an amatur 1:25/500 split!
    And for reference on the age thing, Rob in 2008 broke the 30-39 age record age 32 in 5:38.6, only 0.3 seconds slower than his row 9 years prior.
    I bloody knew it was a difficult challenge! Anyway! Resistance (drag) set to ten. Loins girded, strategy decided (High stroke rate at expense of length), position assumed... and they're off.
    Predicted Finish time....Elapsed time
    41 sec 5 sec... ya beauty!
    43 sec10 sec... keep it together Jimmy, keep it together.
    45 sec15 sec... awwwww feck!!!!!
    45 sec20 sec...Yes! Yes!...
    "This is the engine room Cap'n... she cannae take it anymore!!!"
    Predicted Finish time....Elapsed time
    48 sec48 sec...och well, getting better...
    just need to shave 3 seconds off my best time, repeat it 5 more times then slip in a heavy weights session before hand, but I'm getting there.

    Monday, 2 September 2013

    Different approach - same result...

    Instead of aiming to do 250m as quickly as I could, I thought this week I'd try rowing as fast as I could for the 45sec that the challenge should take... Best effort 215m... I honestly don't feel that I can row any faster than this... How can it be possible?

    Wednesday, 21 August 2013

    Getting the (not so) Good news - you are what you eat!

    Despite a fairly active last few months with a regular commitment to serious circuit training on Thursdays, spin class on Tuesdays & strength sessions on a Monday my Nuffield Health MOT didn't go too well today. Nearly 2kg up from where I thought I should be and with an increased belly-hip ratio, we know exactly where that extra weight is - and unfortunately it's not in the old 'muscle is heavier than fat' story. The sad truth is I've been eating a lot and a lot of what I've been eating has been rubbish... I guess it's time to really start paying attention to the re-fuelling strategy, as I don't think I can afford to spend any more time training at the moment. You should probably sell your Dorito shares about now...

    Monday, 19 August 2013

    uh oh!

    So, 6 x 250m on the ergometer @ 1:30/500m pace.... You should have taken that bet!

    I gave it a wee bash today at lunch time, with a fairly easy warm-up, some upper body moves (pull-ups & dips if you must know) and some stretching.

    1. Set the erg up for 250m and row at a quickish pace, but still breathing... 1 min 06 sec with an end pace of 2:13 / 500m.

    ok, so that means that 1:30 / 500m is quite a bit quicker than my normal pace.

    Let's go balls out to see how far away...

    2. Perform 3 sets @ maximum pace whilst maintaining some semblance of form...

    Time Pace / 500m

    It's not getting any quicker as we practice and it's a long way from 1:30 / 500m and that's not at the end of a hard PT workout and it's only half the challenge... uh oh!

    Friday, 16 August 2013

    A New & Interesting Remote Challenge

    I've got an old rugby mate who live in Melbourne, who seems to be going through his own form of mid-life crisis with some pretty tough sounding personal training. He just posted that they finished a session with 6x250m sprints on the ergometer @ 1:30/500m pace... If you haven't tried it, that's bloody hard going by any standards. Right now I don't even think I could do that pace, never mind hold it for 250m then repeat it 5 times.... but I bet I can before the end of October... Game on!

    Thursday, 15 August 2013

    Maggie's monster

    Can't believe I forgot to mention this, but I completed the gold level of Maggie's monster bike and hike with 2 great friends in May this year. I was really looking forward to it as an event since the turn of the year, but a chest infection in March, which knocked me for 6 had cast a fairly big shadow of doubt over my participation. In the end I got some fairly powerful anti-biotics and was better with 3 weeks to go... not the greatest ever training program. Fortunately my team mates agreed to a trial run 2 weeks out from the event and Finlay planned a circular route from Callander, which included 2 hours cycling in the rain then a hike from Callander out to Balquidder and back over Glen Finglas to Brig O'Turk, before hitting the road along the South side of Loch Venacher back to Callander.

    Hill walking & Scottish Weather - always a challenge!
    I think we learned an awful lot about ourselves on that - and it dawned on us just how big an undertaking the Monster was going to be... The only thing to do from then on was diet carefully, do a bit more cardio work without overdoing it and concentrate on stretching for strength & flexibility.

    Wasn't able to do justice to the early morning light unfortunately

    For the event we cycled from Fort William to Fort Augustus on a glorious Saturday morning, after having seen it lash with rain for all of Friday. It had snowed overnight and Nevis Range was as stunning a backdrop as you could imagine as we followed the Caledonian Canal footpath for about 20 miles, before getting into 5 miles of reasonably challenging & occasionally technical mountain biking - with not a few moments of utter joy free wheeling down through forestry tracks.

    After parking the bikes at Fort Augustus and donning the walking gear, the rain started and stayed with us for the next 6 hours as we trudged up the West side of Loch Ness. Chatting with our fellow 'competitors' though was entertaining and inspirational as we heard so many stories of people who had recovered from cancer and were walking or those who were doing so in tribute to friends or family members that had lost their battle with this awful disease.

    From Drumnadrochit to Inverness was an overnight adventure through forestry trails and about as strange a thing as I'll ever do. Who wouldn't be touched by the kindness of the volunteers who were manning tea tents in the middle of nowhere. Walking from the darkest part of the night towards the lights of Inverness and a slow breaking dawn was a high I'll never forget, and 23 hours 21 minutes after setting off, we crossed the finish line to the slight whiff of bacon butties in the distance and the satisfied feeling of a good job, well done.

    You can still donate to the cause here.

    Endurance Events and the mid-life crisis

    As I head further into my forties now I find myself more and more drawn to endurance sports. It seems to be a common theme amongst us middle aged men, as the 21st century is becoming the age of the MAMIL (middle aged men in Lycra). I'm hugely impressed by my fellow odd balls who drag themselves through pain barriers to complete 10km, half marathon, marathon and ultra- marathon events, sometimes I even get jealous when someone completes a novel new challenge that I hadn't had the imagination to have already considered for myself. It doesn't bode well for aging gracefully!

    Attended an interesting talk last night though by Mark Cooper who had a slightly different, almost non-competitive, perspective on life, happiness and endurance eventing. He's set me thinking! He got into endurance events as a way of getting focus and shaking off his mental & physical flabbiness. I liked the term, mental flabbiness - I wonder if I don't suffer a fair bit of that at times. Running replaced smoking as an addiction for Mark, but finding a job that he loves has meant that he doesn't depend on having a running event to aim for... which is just as well really, as each time his events get bigger and having run from Amsterdam to Barcelona already, that could get out of control quite quickly I imagine.

    Wednesday, 7 August 2013

    August 2013 Weigh-In

    What you can't measure, you can't control.