Weathering the Storm

So, here in northern England it has not only been three storms in a row but it is also so cold that the arthritis in my toe is painful even when I am just sitting around. Not to be undone, however, I managed to improvise. During storm Dennis I couldn’t run distance in such high winds, so I decided to run a mile as quickly as I could, with a pathetic time of 9:32, as you can see below.

Posting detailed Garmin metrics for this is pointless, but you see the point, that I am a painfully slow runner. I always have been, but I am pushing for endurance rather than speed. I would like both of course and I hope that as I keep stretching myself I can pick up speed. It will be genuinely fascinating to see the difference in pace when I run on a flat course though. Right now I have in mind to run from where I live to the city of Preston. This is mostly a flattish course that will clock in at around 24 miles, so clearly I have some training to do yet to hit that. The point is that I want to see what difference the course makes to my average speed. Right now I run locally as I am not passing 10 mile distances yet, which means I do some moderate climbing. This is because where I live it is more or less uphill in every direction. The exception is down into the town centre but obviously I won’t run there, so that leaves courses that always have a substantive elevation gain. I bet that when I am fit enough I will run to Preston and the pace will be better than my local running. This has certainly been the truth for cycling where I have found cycling great distances insanely easy when on a flat course. This brings to mind the time I did the inaugural Wiggo Sportive race and a bunch of Londoners couldn’t finish it because they cycled distance but not hills. Slackers.

So, yesterday I pushed up to six miles and it was a hard run. My muscles were achy, it was absolutely freezing cold, thus I was sluggish and my muscles needed to contract constantly. Data below.

Data Summary

Splits

Graph Data

In addition to thinking about how courses might affect my times and pace, hopefully just the change in the weather as it gets warmer should give me better times. I’m pretty pleased at how my distances are improving quickly in difficult, cold weather conditions and also I hope that my arthritis calms down, because that is very painful, right in the ball joint of the big toe I broke as a wee nipper. That can be very unpleasant, I can tell you. I hope that in roughly two weeks I will have pushed through ten mile distance running, heading towards my personal best distance of 15 miles by the end of April. That puts me on course, presuming I have no health issues, injuries or otherwise unforeseen events, to hit marathon distances by the summer holidays.

The other positive side of things is my health, my clothes are starting to hang off me! This is a great problem to have but I also have to start replacing my wardrobe. My waist diameter is down two inches already. After the horrible summer I had last year this is exceedingly gratifying. I feel like I am striking back at the challenges of life and hitting it harder than it hits me. I hate being cooped up inside the house so to have had to endure months of it was dreadful, but what is past is prologue. If I can hit marathon distances in time for winter then the great lost summer of 2019 will be nothing but a distant memory.

Hormesis Redux: Electric Boogaloo

Hot on the heels of my learning about hormesis I have decided to go, as they say among the bros, balls deep. If stressing the body is the way forward then I will stress the ass out of mine.

Today I ran five miles, one more than last time, in a fasted state and I started the run with a long, hard 400 metre (approximately) 2.5 mile climb. My extensive cycling experience has taught me that if you want to get strong and get fit, and do so quickly, then god damn it, climb. Just find a hill and run up it. It doesn’t matter how much you climb, how steep it is, or how quickly you can do the run, just find a hill and leg it up there, and no matter how hard it gets, don’t stop until you get to the top. Trust me when I tell you that the reward of running downhill after having done that successfully is superb.

You can check out the details of the elevation gain in the Garmin graphs below, but today I made sure that I did the climbing first, the ran downhill back home followed by a detour into the trail I ran last time I was out running in order to get wet, dirty and exposed to cold. It worked too. I arrived home filthy, cold, wet and absolutely pumped and full of energy. Of course I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t do something dumb, so the data below is slightly lacking in detail because I accidentally recorded this as a bike ride! Thankfully you can edit Garmin data so it’s all alright.

Garmin Data

Splits

Graphs

Hormesis: If it Doesn’t Kill You…

Lately I have been listening to the work of an incredible scientist, Dr David Sinclair, Harvard geneticist. His most recent book, Lifespan is essentially a document detailing his quest to cure ageing. One concept he introduced to me in this audiobook is hormesis, the notion that stressing yourself will do you good, aka the popular aphorism, ‘whatever does not kill you simply makes you stronger’. Having given this some thought recently I found a way to put it into action this morning on my run. The details are below. This was a starved run and thus hard work. If you are interested in the book but not sure then Sinclair was recently on the Joe Rogan and Rich Roll podcasts so you can try before you buy.

Garmin Data

Data Summary

Mile Splits

Graphs

Now, with the summary above done I can detail what I learned on this run. Firstly, I really ought to pay better attention to the pavement as I went over on my ankle twice, albeit not badly so thankfully there was no injury but it could have been worse. Secondly, I learned to stress myself. In his work Sinclair details several different stressors that can be hugely beneficial to humans: endurance sports, fasting and cold exposure. The first two I am working on already but the third had never occurred to me previously. Serendipity allowed me to improvise today, however. Running along the Leeds-Liverpool canal I came to a railway bridge on my regular route which was being repaired and thus the pathway was closed, so I had to improvise. This meant taking an adjacent path which either continues as tarmac, or, crucially, there is a short trail. I took the trail and got absolutely drenched, both from the rain and also the muddy filth and freezing cold water that was flowing liberally on the trail.

What I discovered was not only that running in crap conditions is great fun and feels amazing afterwards, but also that I need to get better shoes. I have to be honest and say that I haven’t done as much running as I would like over the last fortnight because here in the U.K. we have had some pretty severe storms and it’s genuinely dangerous to be out in the countryside in such conditions. Where I live you can’t go anywhere for more than twenty minutes before you end up in rural surroundings, and I try to avoid pounding road too much because it is hard on my 6’1, 16 stone frame. I’m a pretty big guy so softer ground is good. I also live in a place where, should I run distances, I end up on country roads where people drive like dickheads. Add that to storm weather and it can be pretty difficult.

That all being said, however, Sinclair’s work and influence has shifted my perspective. I have to start stressing my body more. If I am to run ultra distances as I previously committed to doing then risk is inherent to that, both of injury and some generalised danger. Also, when I thought about it I realised that people are far more likely to endanger me on my bike due to the bizarre cyclist hatred that exists in England and that never stopped me cycling so I think it’s time to start to really hammer myself to get good at serious endurance again. I’ve cycled over 100 miles on a good few occasions, so I can run it for sure.

This means that I can’t fast 5 days out of 7 though. I just can’t see how that is possible, so I have a plan. I will fast on non-running days, meaning that when I do run my fast will commence at 2000 that evening and I fast through to lunch the next day. There is no way I can run endurance distances without eating. That’s crazy and, whilst I am no nutritionist, it can’t be good or healthy for me.

When faced with a closed pathway I took the trail, got myself covered in crap, soaking wet and freezing, but it felt amazing. It didn’t kill me so it must have made me stronger. I then finished up the morning by cooking myself this delicious brunch consisting of savoury pancakes stuffed with potatoes fried in garlic, chilli, ginger and turmeric followed by a fruit salad. Yum!

Past is Prologue – The Future Belongs to Gods!

Today’s post is a line in the sand, followed by the data from today’s swim.

My best distance run is 15 miles. I have had ambitions to do a marathon for years, ambitions I upgraded to an Iron Man. Sadly when I was working at this I got hit by cars three times in two years whilst cycling. End of Iron Man. I recovered a while ago but had children and real life took over. Now I am feeling ambitious again. My kids are old enough that I have renewed independence and so I have committed myself mentally to pushing into major endurance running. Quite simply, I would like to be an ultra runner. Lofty ideas I know, but you have to believe right?

So, that is my plan. As the summer arrives and the nights get long I am going to push for serious distance, and hopefully by the time autumn is in view I will be hitting ultra distances. I mean, really, how hard can it be?

I say that with my tongue firmly in my cheek of course but there is a part of me that genuinely believes in my ability right now. After all, a marathon is just an arbitrary distance. It’s not any kind of universal limit on human endurance. So, with the obvious caveat that it’s going to be hard, how hard can it be? I guess I will soon learn!

Today’s Swim

Here is the day’s swim data. Pushed up to 1250 metres in drills of eight laps. The extra 50 is because I did a ten lap drill by mistake.

Summary

Interval Splits

Graphs

Achievement Unlocked, Electric Boogaloo: Bonk! Bonus: Fastest Mile.

Today I bonked for the first time running, plus I hit my fastest mile yet at 10:29. I pushed my run up to 3.5 miles and at around 2.5 I bonked and took a few minutes to rest and push through it. I think that this was caused by me running whilst recovering from a sore stomach. Normally I would have waited but thanks to storms Ciara and Dennis I haven’t exercised for almost a week so I pushed myself. As I work to run farther, faster I am going to hit things like the bonk as well as other challenges so I am glad that I went through it today.

Garmin Data

Mile Splits

Pace Graph

Heart Rate Graph

Cadence Graph

Elevation Graph

Heart Rate Zones

This is all positive. I ran a very even cadence, and spent almost the whole run in heart rate zone four, a fat burning zone. Additionally my resting heart rate is still falling, it clocked in at 47 yesterday. This can be normal variation of course but the trend is downward which is perfect. Data is definitely useful to me now. For ages I was only ever interested in times and maps, but these graphs are interesting. Most of the troughs are points where I had to stop or slow right down on muddy terrain or avoiding giant puddles and suchlike. It is also great to identify trends and to see everything going in the right direction is good for the future.

Three Miles Broken, Stronger Back Muscles and the Virtue of Plotting Routes in Advance

This evening I broke the three mile barrier with a relatively slow average speed of eleven minute miles but I think that my lack of route planning might have had an influence on my pace. I hit 2.5 miles tonight and ran out of road so I just kept going until I hit 3 miles, and that final 0.5 miles felt slow and uneven so I suspect I could have done better had I plotted even a sketchy route in advance. I also made the mistake of running on the canal in the pitch dark which slowed me to a walk at times.

Still, tonight felt good and the endorphins are currently feeling great so I am happy to be progressing efficiently. My resting heart rate is currently holding steady at 48-49 bpm which is still 7 bpm over my lowest ever reading. I am definitely starting to feel psychologically more healthy, and also my back is getting stronger. It is no longer painful to get up in the morning or to get out of the bath. This is likely because of the strengthening of my body generally through a combination of swimming, cycling and running. Cycling definitely strengthens the core and swimming is not only an all over the body exercise, it also needs you to use your back muscles to flick your body over when tumble turning between laps. All of which means that my body is strengthening, I am shedding weight fast and my overall health is improving.

Garmin Data

Summary

Summary
Summary

Specific Metrics

Metrics
Metrics

Mileage Split Times

Split Times
Graphs

Graphs

Graphs
Graphs
Graphs
Graphs

Week in Review, Plus First Running Readings from Vivoactive HR

After the bizarre readings I took the first time I clocked a swim with my Garmin Vivoactive HR watch I am relieved to have gotten accurate, good quality data when running with it for the first time. It will be interesting to see what happens when I swim again. Hopefully it is just a teething issue but let’s wait and see. My cycling is hovering around the 6 mile mark at 12 minute miles, and to be honest I could cycle 25 miles tomorrow easily so right now my focus is on my weaker sports. I have also maintained my 16/8 fasting routine whilst trying various new recipes, all of which are posted here and on my Instagram.

This week I have pushed my swimming up to 100 metre interval drills, hitting the 700 metre mark. My run below is the longest yet, having added roughly 33% in distance to the last one. The one caveat here is that I ran during storm Clara and thus had to stop a couple of times to avoid torrential rain soaking me wet through.

Garmin Connect Data

Garmin Connect Data Summary
Garmin Connect Data Summary
Garmin Connect Data Summary
Garmin Connect Data Summary

Data Breakdown

Detailed Data Breakdown
Detailed Data Breakdown

Split Times

Split Times
Split Times

Graphs for Heart Rate, Cadence, Heart Rate Zones and So Forth

Cadence, Elevation and Heart Rate Zones

Cadence, Elevation and Heart Rate Zones

Pace and Heart Rate
Pace and Heart Rate

Strava Data

Strava Data
Strava Data

View on Strava and follow me here to get a follow back.

Week in Review & Pushing Forward

Sports

Last week I couldn’t hike as the weather stank. I ran and swam, and when running I hit that feeling when you suddenly start enjoying it. It happened during my previous run that was spuriously recorded as 3.99 miles when it was actually closer to 1.5. This is not the first time my Garmin Vivoactive has done this and my tweeting Garmin about it was ignored. I have remedied the situation, however, by upgrading to a Garmin Vivoactive HR. It arrived in the mail today so hopefully that will be a step forward that solves this. It’s an obviously better watch with or without the heart rate monitor, but more data can only be a good thing so I look forward to seeing my readings on that front.

Swimming

I am pushing this hard as I enjoy swimming enormously. My latest progress is below, including times, interval splits and frankly more data than I am ever going to need, but here it is anyway.

Summary

Interval Splits and More

Pace, Strokes & Swolf

Cycling

Holding at just over 12mph average. That will change with the weather

Running

Positive growth but I am not going to post spurious GPS data. That would be pointless. Suffice to say my new watch should do better.

I’m so Ashamed

Today I ran for the first time in over a year. In the past I have put some impressive distances on my personal scoreboard but right now I am pretty much beginning from square one. To be fair, I have never been a keen runner, or a good one for that matter. I like trails but generally tolerate running the roads at best. Lugging my large frame around on a run is probably the only time I envy skinny little guys who are nine stones wet through.

Today’s Run
Today’s Run

I posted a one mile run at 10:34. Which is crap, but it is better than not running. I have maxed out at fifteen miles at my strongest. Right now I feel as though that would be impossible, which is obviously the best reason to push on and beat that record.

Blog of Ages

Good lord, it has been such a while since last I posted. This post will appear slightly late relative to the activities as I forgot to renew my domain name so I have to do that first, but hey, I am still here and hopefully somebody somewhere is vaguely interested in what I have to say on here.

I have been jolted back into blogging by the weather improving and the nights getting longer. Here in Lancashire we have very dark winters where the day essentially ends around four o’clock. This is particularly annoying for those with a family. The last week has seen sunny days and temperatures around ten degrees celsius which is definitely all the excuse I need to break out the hiking boots.

I ran twice this week. Conveniently my GP is about 0.6 miles away so if I jog there and back it’s a decent fifteen minutes or so of raised heart rate, which is fine just for a daily thing whilst I wait out the winter months. I am currently running using the latest Apple Watch and the auto pause does not always work properly indoors so the figures for mileage times and pace during the first run are wrong, but for what it is worth, here we are.

Wednesday 13th February

This was when I ran down there to get a blood test and the watch kept running whilst I was at the surgery.

Map

Friday 15th February

Slightly shorter run, but again Wednesday’s distance includes spurious data from the watch not pausing properly.

Map

Saturday Afternoon Hike

We hike every year, as often as possible, and we always commence with a hike around Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales. It is beautiful up there.

Map

If you are not too experienced a hiker or you need to get fit then this is not too challenging and the location is rewarding in terms of scenery and views looking out over Yorkshire, and the fantastic waterfall, Janet’s Foss.