Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

So, it’s been a couple of weeks since my last post so I’ll give you a quick catch up first.

A few weeks ago, after cycling almost 40 miles around Warwickshire, I developed the most awful toothache. It took four days to get into see the Dentist. 4 horrendously pain filled days, by which time there was nothing the Dentist could do but pull the tooth. Big respect to my Dentist who did a top notch job but the after effects, probably not helped by the amount of pain medication I was taking, robbed me of another three days of training.

Back now as fit as a fiddle and on to my next adventure. A short while ago my Gym Instructor asked me if I fancied taking an empty seat in a pedal car for a race at a go kart track just 20 miles from my house. Not knowing anything about the sport he pointed me to http://pedalcarracing.info/ the British Pedal Car Championship’s website. The cars are basically four wheeled recumbent bikes with light-weight body work. 


The day arrived and I made me way to Bruntingthorpe in Leicestershire. The 480m Go-Kart track would be our venue for the 6 hour endurance race. I quickly met my fellow team mates. We were to be in the third car ran by Apollo Racing who are currently leading the championship. There were 4 drivers per car and our car had two experienced drivers and two novices. Once the tents were erected I got a litle go in the pits and, despite the controls feeling totally alien at first, soon got the hang of it.

Official practice was delayed due to issues with the timing system but once underway our car made 1 1/2 laps before the chain jumped off the rear sprocket and getting stuck round the axle. This required the axle being removed curtailing any chance of me getting on track before the race. 

After the drivers briefing it was decided that I would be driver 4, meaning I would take the fourth, eighth and final stints of 30 minutes each. Luckily, due to the earlier timing issues the start was delayed and our car was back together in time to make the rolling start. 


When our car pulled into the pits for my first stint I would like to say our change over was professional but I made a hash of it and panicked leading to my first couple of laps out on circuit being slow while I regained composure. Soon enough though the car started to feel natural and my lap times improved. On my final stint I was lapping at an average of 16 mph which I thought was ok for a first attempt and we finally finished 6th out of 18 cars.

The weather was fantastic and the day was fun. If asked back I would love to have another go. It’s always great to try something new

As I sit here typing this I am in an immense amount of pain. Sporting injury? a fall in the obstacle race? No. Toothache! I am at home on a work day waiting to go to see my Dentist to hopefully get it fixed. It started coming on immediately after I had finished training and then go an hour or so later. Me being me, I chose to ignore it but when it came on Friday afternoon it didn’t go. Hey kids! If you have pain don’t ignore it because now I am suffering caffeine withdrawal on top of every thing else because hot coffee send the pain through the roof! Its hard to stay positive in pain but here’s the rest of my amazing weekend.

Gel Break at Corley Rocks

I finish work at 2 p.m. on a Friday afternoon and the Sun was shining, birds were singing and I had several hours to kill. Far too nice to be in the gym I thought it was way past time I started getting some miles under the cut price road bike I purchased a few weeks ago. Yes she is cheap, yes she is heavy but it’s all I can afford right now. When I set off I was thinking I would get in around 25 miles but the day was so nice, every time I hit a junction, I kept turning away from home eventually clocking up over 38 miles. The first 11 (the distance I will have to bike in the Sprint Triathlon) were racked up in 42 minutes. So 15 minutes for the swim and a conservative 30 minutes for the run puts me in the ball park of 1 hour 30 dependent on how bad I screw up the transitions. The ride itself was brilliant except for hitting traffic through one of the towns. Really need to plan my route better.

Saturday saw me miss Parkrun. I know, Shock right? With the Wolf Run the next day I thought it best to save the legs, especially after the use they got on the cycle ride the previous day. Instead I took in a strength session in the gym. I have started a new programme with more free weights. An area I will freely admit to neglecting before but as strength training is becoming more important in my fitness plan its time to embrace it.

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At Registration

And so to the main Event. The Wolf Run (http://thewolfrun.com/) is an Obstacle Course Race (OCR) Held four times a year over two locations. The WOLF stands for Woods, Obstacles, Lakes, Fields and is billed as Wild running. The Spring and Autumn events are held just a short drive from my home at Offchurch in Warwickshire.

We arrived at 9:30 to get registered and collect my Dryrobe (https://dryrobe.com/) which was included in the price of the season ticket I have purchased to do all 4 Wolfs this year. The party was already in full swing with music pumping from the event village and all the food vendors ready to serve you all the carbs you need. My Daughter, a first time Wolf runner (there is an 18+ age cap or she would have done it last time too) chose to fill up on donuts. Maybe not the choice I would of made but it worked for her.

We didn’t have to wait too long before we were called into the warm up area for our start bracket where we were lead through several minutes of exercises that I am sure were as much for the amusement of the gathered crowd of friends and relatives as it was to warm up the runners.

Once the safety announcements were out of the way, we were ushered to the start and we were off. First up were some tyres followed by a crawl under some cargo netting. Much to my daughter’s amusement she found she could pretty much bear crawl through all of the tunnels. As she frequently pointed out “I am only 5 ft” though this would be her downfall later during the lake wade and in the muddy bomb holes which others walk through, she elected to swim rather than submerge. In fact she tackled every obstacle with aplomb and despite a few nervous moments on the 20 ft vertical cargo net and the infamous “Nut Cracker” She completed everything. The Lake swim was probably the toughest of all the obstacles. An 80 m swim in freezing cold water. No wetsuits and only breast stroke allowed, it was tough for me and Jess needed to cling to a passing canoe half way across to get her breath back. A big shout out to all the marshals on the day because they were all encouraging and helpful.

Highlight of the day was, as many will agree, the “Landslide” A 100 m long water slide downhill. it was all over too quickly though and before I knew it the end was in sight. With one last drop in to a muddy pit to go we had both completed the Spring Wolf. It was then off to pose for a finishers picture and collect our T-shirts and goodie bag before returning to the village once more for a well earned pint and a pork and stuffing roll.

My one regret from all of this is that I didn’t get fitter sooner because, in all honesty, I would have loved to have been doing this event every year. It really has an amazing vibe and is just a brilliant day out. That said in just 8 weeks I will be lining up for the Summer Wolf at the other location in Leicestershire. Will my Daughter be Joining me? You better believe it!

Feeling really upbeat after the weekend and have some great news to share. Yesterday (Sunday 2nd May) saw my take my practical assessment for the Gym Instructor’s course. This involved creating a programme for my client, welcoming them, making them aware of fire exits, first aid etc. This was followed by demoing and instructing the session you had designed, all under the watchful eye of an adjudicator. 

The result was a pass and I am now qualified as a level 2 Gym Instructor. Now the work begins to try to get into the industry at 48 with no previous experience. I have no doubt it will be hard but motivation has got me this far!

Earlier in the day I had been running at Draycote Water with some friends who are training for the London Marathon. The plan had been a nice steady run of ten miles. It was a cracking day and the banter was flowing and before I knew it I had put in an new PB for 10 miles at 1:23:09 at an average pace of 8:17/ mile. I like running with other people. 

The week ahead will be a busy on. Wolf run coming up on Sunday and the Triathlon is under 5 weeks away. Still plenty to do. 

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Last Year’s Myton Cycle Challenge

I am now pleased to announce the big news this week that I have chosen which Charity I will be raising funds for this year. After much consideration I have elected to support a local Hospice that provides end of life care to people throughout Coventry and Warwickshire and who’s care has reached out to nearly everyone’s family that I know at some point. In their own words, taken from their page (https://www.mytonhospice.org/) “At Myton, we believe that everyone matters for every single moment of their life and that treating patients with dignity and respect is more important than meeting targets. We passionately believe that the final part of someone’s life is as important as the beginning.”

The main thing I will be doing is taking part in the Myton Hospice Cycle Challenge on the 6th of August. This is a ride around the south Warwickshire countryside taking in Villages and hills over a course of 30k, 100k, or 100 miles. I have opted to do the 30k ride with a couple of friends. I completed this ride for the first time ever during last year’s event on-board my trusty Giant Talon mountain bike but this year will be riding my Ammaco road bike. It will be definitely faster down hill but I will miss the low gears on the climbs.

At first I was hoping to reach £100 in sponsorship but this was smashed in just 90 minutes. That’s how worth a cause this is. As a result of this I will keep the funding page going. If you should wish to sponsor me for any sum please do consider helping this Charity as they really are doing superb work. the link to my donation page is https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/dazliss?utm_medium=email&utm_source=ExactTarget&utm_campaign=20170305_96877

If I can work out how to do it I will be adding a link to the side of the blog.

And so to my training.

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Park run 4/3/17

Despite the poor weather and a few real life issues impacting on my training schedule this week it has, on the whole, been quite successful. I have had to find a new swimming venue due to scheduling conflicts meaning the pool was closed to the public at a time when I needed it. This has been resolved as I now have bitten the bullet and joined a local club so I get unlimited use of the pool (also sauna, steam and spa because who says it has to be all hard work) and they also have a running club on a Wednesday night which I shall be looking into.

On Saturday I completed my 21st Parkrun. My times are getting really consistent now and I hit an average pace of 7:43/ mi without feeling like I was pushing too hard. This was my second fastest after last weeks PB and I honestly felt I was taking it easy by comparison. Of course it always helps to be running with friends.

Finishing in 154th and 19th in my age group is a pretty good feeling out of 733 runners.

This morning (Sunday) I had planed of doing a 30+ mile ride but driving rain and bitter winds cut my ride short at just 12 miles. Its all time on the bike so I am not too despondent.

And so on to the coming week. More of the same really with a heavy dose of Study because my exams are fast approaching and if I hope to crack this fitness instructors course I need to balance training and study much better. I know there is a lot still to do but I am more positive than ever that I will get there.

 

Have a great week!

Another week has passed by and now I am more focused than ever on training. I have signed up for yet another event and this time I am really moving out of my comfort zone. I have registered for The Stratford Sprint Triathlon on the 14th of May! (http://uktriathlon.co.uk/events/stratford-220-triathlon/) This is something I have had on my mind for a while. I love running, cycling and swimming, why not put them together in one event?

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Sprint Triathlon will be an excellent introduction to the sport. As the name suggests it is a quicker version than an Olympic event, only having a 400m swim, 18k cycle and 5k run. Now, each of these events on their own are pretty comfortable for me at my current level of fitness. The trick comes in doing them all together which is why I have tried to fit two disciplines into some of my training days. A run/ swim/ run on a Wednesday for example. I must admit though the thought of the transition scares me. Having to locate my bike in a sea of them and then manage footwear changes has got me watching “how to” videos on YouTube. To that end I have bought myself a Tri-suit. This enables me to do all three activities without having to change my clothes…. Bonus!

Although my times for running and cycling are improving (Switching to a cheap road bike instead of the mountain bike has seen times tumble) the swim is killing me. I was very late learning to swim and can only really do breast stroke. My time has improved a bit but anyone doing front crawl just breezes past. Time to learn a new stroke, me thinks.

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Picking up my race number at Registration (Picture credit Jessica Lissaman)

Speaking of improving times, Today was the second Draycote Water 10k of the year held by The Race Organiser (http://www.theraceorganiser.com/index.html) and thankfully this time the weather was much more favourable. With around 500 people taking part it was great to feel apart of something. I spend far too much time training alone, unfortunately. With improved weather conditions the general mood was far better and I carried this with me. Occasional glances at my TomTom Spark watch told me that my pace was good at Km 2 but I expected it to drop off as I progressed further. However the pace held and I finished the race with and average pace of 8:01m/ miles. This knocked 2 minutes off my previous personal best. I was ecstatic. After a winter nursing my Calf injury its rewarding to know that I am getting stronger.

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The first climb (Picture credit Jessica Lissaman)

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The finish line (Picture credit Jessica Lissaman)

When I started getting fit in the Late Summer of 2015 I never thought I would be entering events like this. I wasn’t even sure I could lose more than a couple of pounds but this race saw me finishing in a time of 50:03 according to the official timing equipment and Position 102, the 91st Male home and 21st in my age group out of 71! How far I have come! With this result and the PB for last week’s Parkrun I know that I can crack the Triathlon. I know I will never come first but I am constantly beating the guy I used to be hands down.

 

Happy Running.

So, as my fitness has increased, I have found myself feeling like I am not doing enough of any one thing to stay fit for everything. This time last year this wasn’t a problem as all I did was cycling. If I was in the gym it was stationary bike or Spin class. If we had a rare sunny day it was back to the roads and trails.

As the year progressed though, I came to love running. Not just running though, distance running. Running a mile for me was a dream but now it’s like, a mile? That’s 8 minutes. That’s not training! As a result even 5k now feels like a cheat day.

So far that’s running and cycling, distances and time commitment increasing for both. If only it was just that though. As a result of a recurring calf injury I started seeing a physio. She basically told me all cardio had made my body enter “starvation mode”. As a result it had started cannibalising my lean muscles to preserve fat reserves resulting in weaker muscles. To rectify this I needed to both add strength training and take a rest day at least once a week. I had been running or cycling every day so this came as a blow. 

And now I want to add swimming. A brilliant full body workout. I’m not fast though so 1k is taking me 40 minutes. 

I work full time and am now well into my fitness instructor course so time is needed for revision etc. 

I know this sounds like an “oh poor me” post but, honestly, it’s not. I feel totally blessed that I am in a position to be even contemplating all this. The me of a year or so ago wouldn’t believe it’s possible. So from here on in it’s time to buckle down. If I have to train twice a day I will. Even jog to the swimming baths and back. I love training. It really is my life now. I cannot wait to be able to help others find this too! Am I addicted? Yes maybe a little but when I see the addictions other people have had I can’t help feeling this is one of the good ones. 

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When my daughter announced she had got an audition at a prominent Dance academy we were very pleased. When she told me it was 120 miles away in Leeds and she would only need to be there half a day…. not so much!

Anyway, my new mental philosophy is to try to turn a negative into a positive. The audition was on a Saturday and Saturday is Parkrun day. A quick google found me not only a Parkrun close to the Dance school but a Hotel slap between the two. It didn’t take long for a plan to form in my mind. Travel up on the Friday night, sleep in the Hotel, both be fresh as daisies for our exertion in the morning.

The plan went with out a hitch and, despite the weather being on the drizzly side, I left the Hotel and ran the mile to Woodhouse Moor, known colloquially as Hyde Park. The buildings I passed along the way were stunning and a real credit to Leeds.

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So, this leads me (Leeds, Get it?) on to the park run itself. Situated in a very pleasant park behind some of the Leeds University campus, the course consists of, mostly, tarmacked paths with some grass/ mud (mostly mud on a rainy morning in January). Being a smaller area than my home Parkrun of The Memorial Park in Coventry, Woodhouse Moor requires almost 3 full laps to complete the 5k route. The route is quite undulating with 250 feet of elevation change. Strangely enough the route felt more down hill than up but this must have been my imagination or the famous “runners high”, who knows?

The run started just a few minutes late with a cheerful briefing and a round of applause and a few friendly jeers for the visitor from down south and also a visit from the Leeds University Mascot.

I completed the run in an official time of 24:29 helped, in part, by the downhill sections no doubt. This is now just a few seconds off my PB for 5k so my leg is definitely getting stronger. I just hope that this is a sign that my injury is a thing of the past.

Post race there were sweets and cakes laid on by the University. Unfortunately I didn’t partake as I had to be back to my hotel to shower and check out but I did have time to chat to a couple of runners. One of which had come over from India and was only running his second ever Parkrun.

Summing up I had a fabulous experience of a new city and a new to me Parkrun. If you are reading this and are thinking I could never run 5k, it’s cool, you don’t have to. walk, jog, run, it’s totally up to you but please go and try one. There is bound to be one close to you.

Take a look at http://www.parkrun.org.uk/ it might just provide your path to fitness and turn you in to a runner like it did me.

The Road Ahead

Posted: January 23, 2017 in Fitness, Health, Uncategorized

I thought I would amalgamate a few posts I had been thinking of into this one. Basically it’s a catch up of what I have done and what I plan for the rest of the year.

It was a cold and frosty morning on Saturday but even wheelie bin covered ice patches could not deter me from completing my 17th Coventry Parkrun in, what turned out to be, my second fastest time. I had been worried my calf troubles would come back now that I have increased my running again but so far so good. The heel raises I was given by the physio along with new trainers (ASICS Patriot 8) and the purchase of some Kalenji calf sleeves (Decathlon) seem to be keeping me on track. Unfortunately it’s not such good news on the shoulder injury I got taking a slow speed tumble off my mountain bike during the Evans’ cycle Ride It cross country event on Cannock Chase at the start of October. Despite physio and implementing the exercises I was given, the shoulder is a million miles away from where it needs to be.

With this in mind it was time to start thinking about events for the year ahead. I have already ran the January Draycote 10k and have now signed up to run again in February. Let’s hope the weather is kinder to us then as it rained so much last time I may as well have swam the 10k.

Also signed up are not one but four Wolf Runs this year ( http://thewolfrun.com/ ). Last year it was my ultimate goal to complete the Autumn Wolf, which I did, and that has given me an appetite for more. If I can complete Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter I will qualify as an Alpha Wolf. This will be my main goal this year. Not bad for a totally Beta Male. For those of you unsure why anyone would want to put themselves through the torture of an obstacle race I urge you to watch Rise of The Sufferfests. A documentary into what makes people repeatedly go back for more. http://riseofthesufferfests.com/

I do intend to enter a few more events, including a return to the King of the Mytons cycling event, but that’s all that are booked so far.

My training has stepped up a gear lately so I thought I would share what an average week looks like for me. With this being winter, my distances have fallen but as lighter evenings and warmth returns I will be building back up.

Monday

3-4 mile run

Tuesday

HIIT row session 20s sprint/ 10s rest x8

Supersets of:

chest press/ seated row. 3 sets 20 reps.

Squats/ dumbbell lunge 3 sets 20 reps

Lat pull downs/ shoulder raise (forwards and to the side) 3 sets 20 reps

Leg curls/ leg extensions 3 sets 20 reps

Plank 75s

Plank push-ups 30s

Mountain climbers 30s

Swiss ball jack knives 30s

Leg raises 30s

Plank 75s

X-trainer 20 minutes on random

Followed by a repeat of the core exercises (plank etc.)

Wednesday

Rest day

Thursday 

Repeat Tuesday

Friday

Bike 10 miles +

Saturday

Run

Sunday

Repeat Tuesday

Now, that may seem like a lot but I do worry that I need to increase the cycling and, at some point, introduce swimming. Not enough hours in the day!


My online Active I.Q. Gym instructors course seems to have gone off with more of a whimper than a bang after the first online lesson was cancelled due to technical difficulties and the rescheduled lesson was during my working day so I couldn’t attend. Ascthere is no course portal or online forums yet, there is no way to collaborate with my peers on the course. This is not what I am used to from distance learning. Things can only get better I guess.

On the whole though, what is normally my most hated month, January has got off to a flying start and as we approach it’s end I hope to carry this momentum into February and beyond.

Happy training!

First Event Of The Year

Posted: January 15, 2017 in Fitness, Health, Uncategorized
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The Draycote 10k

After what seems like an eternity since my last event I am pleased to report my 2017 campaign has got off without a hitch.

The Draycote 10k is a new run to me but has been running for several years. The event is organised by The Race organiser ( http://theraceorganiser.com/index.html ) and is set around the normally picturesque Draycote Water Reservoir located in the Warwickshire countryside about 13 miles South East of Coventry. I say normally because, today, the weather was not kind to us. Low cloud, heavy rain and low temperatures greeted us as we assembled in the car park to head to the race village to claim our start numbers.

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The visitor centre and race village through the rain

Never one to be put of by a bit of rain, it was heartening to see how many others had decided to turn out anyway and the carpark was soon way over capacity. As were the loos with the ladies having to form a long but orderly queue which meant some had to start the race late.

As start time approached I moved up to the start with some trepidation. It had only been 9 days since I pulled my calf yet again and hadn’t run at all in that time. I had done a couple of sessions of resistance with some supported cardio on the X-Trainer and had been wearing a calf sleeve all week. To say the injury was worrying me would be an understatement. I tried to fight back the natural instinct to get swept along with the crowd at the start to try to help my leg but I was soon setting a pace in the low 8’s. The course helped. Set along the perimeter road of the reservoir, the 10k course had 2k of, mostly, downhill double back till we strode off around the course proper. Undulating around the lake, giving a fair change in elevation, the tarmacked surface was a pleasure to run on with only avoiding action for puddles breaking the flow.

 

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Elevation plan of the course

 

As it turned out the injury didn’t reappear and my pace for the first 5k was good (for me) but as I passed the 6k marker I felt that my pace had fallen right off. That said I still felt good. Running a 10k straight off in brand new trainers was probably not the sanest thing to do but even that turned out to not be a problem. Hey, I didn’t even feel the rain despite having to do jumping jacks on the start line to stop shaking in the cold.

It was with relief that I spied the red LED glow of the finish clock 1km from the finish. All my fears of my calf ending my season before it started melted away and I made a push for home. As I crossed the line a glance at the clock showed me I had finished 53.33 after the official start. Knowing that I hadn’t crossed the start line till over 1 minute after the start I knew I had put in a time far faster than I thought and one possibly a PB. After I regained my breath, a quick check on my TomTom Spark showed me that I had indeed set a new fastest 10k time of 52.11! What an awesome way to start the new year.

As I moved up to claim my goodie bag (the usual fare of protein bar, nutrient drink etc.), medal and T-shirt I caught up with one of my friends who had came home a couple of minutes before me for the usual photos and war stories. He too had enjoyed the event and vowed we should do more. Looks like 2017 will be a busy year.

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To the Victor, the spoils

 

New Year, New Goals

Posted: January 13, 2017 in Fitness, Health, Uncategorized

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Here we are, two whole weeks into 2017. Time to think about what I want to achieve this year. In all honestly last year exceeded my expectations and I will be hard pressed to match it but here goes.

First off I want to say thank you for the support I have received through the last 12 months. Going from the weight I was to being considered fit and healthy has had its own rewards but the constant encouragement I have had from friends, old and new, has got me through the tough times and there have been a few. more on that later.

I have taken the decision to rebrand both this blog and my Instagram (go give me a follow) to be more in keeping with the new direction my life is taking. Will I still play and rant about video games? You betcha. They are still a part of who I am but I am so much more.

That leads me to my main goal for this year. At the start of this journey it was all about feeling better about myself. improving my self image, feeling healthy and basically extending my life as much as I possibly could. As I made progress and started to lose weight I started getting people asking how they could do the same. I have found I have really enjoyed offering what advice I could and seeing others start their own journey and it has made me consider my career choices. I really want to help make the difference. I feel that, as I have taken the journey myself, I am well placed to help others do the same. The upshot of this is that on the 17th of January I will start studying to become a level 2 Fitness instructor with Henley College, here in Coventry. This will then give me a more in-depth knowledge of the subject helping me to give better advice. I am obviously hoping it will also lead to a career change eventually. Me? A gym coach? who would have guessed!

I am also hoping to get to 50 ParkRuns this year. So far I have 16 under my belt so this should be easy to do so long as I can get Saturdays free.

Coming up before that is the Draycote 10k on the 15th January. This is a lovely location around the perimeter of a local reservoir. I have walked around it many times but this will be my first run there. I am excited to get this year’s events under way but I am still carrying an injury that has bugged me off and on through last year and have been advised not to do it. Trouble is I really want to so I may end up walking by the end.