Lockdown Lifestyle

So, here we are, a family in a semi rural town with time on our hands. Of course I have been hiking and cycling.

Climbing Ingleborough

Strava Data

Map and Splits

Pace, Heart Rate and Cadence

This was a hard slog for whatever reason, but ultimately rewarding. I am definitely not 100% healthy, my immunity is low and I feel a background malaise but still it was great to get out hiking. Isolation from the rest of the world is the thing I love about hiking the most so it is obviously fine in respect to social distancing. I think we saw perhaps three other people, two at the summit and one on his mountain bike ascending after us.

Cycling

As I previously posted, I bought myself a folding bicycle so naturally the thing to do is buy another bike also, which I did – a tourer hybrid. This means that I can now go cycling off road. It’s no good for mountains or whatever but for towpaths and dirt tracks it’s just fine. The Leeds-Liverpool canal is like an artery running through my town, linking it to almost all of the North West of England so it’s useful to be able to access it, not only for my convenience but also because it is much safer for taking the kids cycling. My daughters love it. The oldest is the cautious, cerebral one and we cycle more or less together. All the while her younger sister – the absolute little shitbag – slams the pedals hard and flies off into the distance. I love her bravery and fearlessness as much as I love her sister’s gentle, caring nature. It’s fascinating how different they can be. Anyway, below are data for a couple of rides. I have done more - you can visit my Strava if you really want to see the lot.

May 12th 2020

Bolton Map

This ride was very strange. Firstly I was testing out my tourer over distance. It’s not only a slow ride compared to what I would have done on my racer, but also because the last eight miles were me cycling slowly, hopelessly lost. For some reason, once I arrived near to my destination my Garmin Edge 1000 took me on an eight mile track which was basically an orbit of my actual intended destination. It was the most bizarre navigation error I have ever experienced.

In terms of features the Edge 1000 is streets ahead of the Edge 800 it replaced, but the navigation performance has been very iffy. The 800 was genuinely a fantastic addition to my gear. Every single destination I used to to reach was in there and I arrived literally at the front door every time. The 1000 has taken me on some exceptionally unusual routes. For example, when I was working in Todmorden it took me over an unbelievably difficult and hilly ride because it was around .25 miles shorter than the much flatter, faster alternative. Obviously the hills added a lot of time to the journey, and I can’t believe that the Garmin algorithm did that. Now it has taken me eight miles around my destination for no reason, and when I was plotting the route originally it struggled to find the address. The 800 always accepted the postcode and took me there. For me the jury is out right now on the 1000. I got it because the 800 has no Bluetooth or WiFi and I used to have to boot my computer and plug it in just to upload routes which drove me batty in the wireless era of technology. Right now I would happily go back rather than have the current issues I am facing. I hope that things improve quickly.

Thoughts on Foldies

In the midst of the COVID–19 outbreak I took stock of various things and realised that, since my current commute is fewer than two miles in distance, to use my carbon fibre racing bicycle to do that journey is bonkers. So, to cut a long story short, I did some research, a cost benefit analysis and as a result I now own a Holborn Challenge, 20″ wheel diameter, six geared folding bicycle.

I have ridden my foldie twice and it is a wildly different prospect to my racer, which is obviously going to be the case. Here and here is Strava data recorded using my Vivoactive HR watch from my first two rides. I forgot to press stop on my watch when I stopped for prolonged times so take the mileage numbers with a massive pinch of salt.

Foldies

  • You will never break any speed records on a foldie, but they are absolutely perfect for zipping around town, covering short distances, urban commuting and suchlike where there will be loads of turning, starting and stopping.
  • You cannot rest at speed like you would in ‘cruise control’ on a racer, where you are going fast but not putting in much effort because you are carrying momentum.
  • You can’t really bonk.
  • Going downhill means you freewheel. With six gears you just can’t go very fast before you start pedal spinning. A 20″ diameter doesn’t allow for much pace.
  • Aside from downhill freewheeling will slow you down quickly, so prepare to pedal all the time.
  • Different frame geometry means using different muscles, or the same ones in a different way and at different angles.
  • It turns on a sixpence, so be careful when signalling as it’s easy to drift into the road.
  • You look kind of funny as they are a novel design, but that’s okay really.

One day into riding a foldie and it’s nice to be able to go short distances at a leisurely pace. I don’t have to wear cleats or aerodynamic clothing. I clock rides using my watch rather my Garmin Edge 1000 as it is all just for fun really. I can’t mount my expensive Hope lights on it so I just bought a decent set on sale.

Using a foldie has reconnected me with leisure cycling. All cycling is pleasurable for me, however this does not go fast so I get to see the scenery a little. It’s just good fun instead of endorphins and adrenaline, and I don’t wear out my much more expensive bike on two and three mile rides here and there.

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

Last week I picked up my schedule for the first time in 2020 after a pretty awful 2019. I got Twitter and Instagram accounts, and in addition to easing back into the outdoors I started to further expand my nutritional horizons. I love cooking and it’s a great way to express one’s creativity. I remain on a 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule and I am more than ever committed to a vegan diet that contains little to no sugar and is not processed wherever possible.

I cycled twice but only over short distances. I don’t pay too much attention to statistics and data for rides under five miles as cycling in Lancashire is so roly-poly, hilly and stop-start that it is difficult to build up a decent cadence and pick up a good cruising speed for any meaningful length of time. I was hoping to post some swimming data but I have been held up by the supplier of a replacement strap for my Garmin Vivoactive watch, which has yet to arrive and is now six days late. Thanks useless eBay parts supplier.

Today’s Cycle
Today’s Cycle

I have cycled today already, again just a short town ride on an errand, the virtue of which I extolled last week. My focus this week is to begin to add swimming to my cycling again. I hope to strengthen my lower back after hurting it quite badly last year, such was the sedentary nature of caring for my crocked little boy.

Small beginnings yield massive outcomes. Let’s destroy 2020.

Workout is Dead – Long Live Lifestyle!

The dumbest thing anyone ever does to be healthy is one hour of workout and then sit around all day. National Geographic some time ago commissioned a study that became a book called Blue Zones. Essentially they studied the places on Earth where the greatest concentration of people live the longest lives and experience the least chronic illness. I recommend the book and the YouTube talks about it. One of the things that was found is that these people never worked out. They had no gyms, they were usually poor and they did not attempt to live long, healthy, happy lives. Of the many factors that were pertinent, one thing they did do is move constantly. This means that their metabolisms never dropped as low as a sedentary westerner. They lived de- convenienced lives. I have been living this way for years. Now that I am once again cycling even though it is a bitterly cold January here in England I am again combining lifestyle and exercise.

I do not work out. I live.

In the spirit of minimalism and frugal living I often take my clothes to the seamstress – a lady I have known since primary school incidentally – to be adjusted or fitted rather than simply throwing them away. Conventionally a person in a UK town would drive there, drop them off and then drive home. I did not. Since I needed to go I cycled. I did not allot an hour in my day to workout. I simply lived. I think that the Blue Zone way is a better one and we all ought to embrace it. Instead of constantly rushing to save time – not that you can put time in the bank – it is surely better to live in such a way that one is never in a rush, to whatever extent one can live in such a way.

Urban cycling is not fast unfortunately. Too many turns, short hills, too much traffic and so forth. You just can’t pick up much speed in the urban north of England as there are few straight stretches of road in an old mill town like mine. However, with a lot of short, steep hills my body got what it needs and loves, which is plenty of resistance and out of breath pedalling, raised heart rate, delicious endorphins and I got outside in the greenery and fresh air, even if it was cold enough to crack a ball bearing.

Stats

2020: Let’s DO THIS THANG!

I have the world’s most unlucky son. In 2019 I lost an entire season of activities as he broke his wrist, had his cast off, then days later he fell and sustained a double break to his his leg, and then whilst he had his full leg cast on he contracted appendicitis and had to have an appendectomy. I spent the entire summer and autumn caring for the poor little monkey. Suffice to say I did absolutely sod all in terms of cycling, hiking, running or swimming in 2019 as I loved on him and helped him recover from a horrendous set of circumstances. That has been a hard and long road to walk, and especially for him, what a nightmare! He has bounced back thankfully – kids are so resilient, so I now must do the same.

That being said, I am not to be undone by such a run of misfortune. After getting flu – as in actual, cannot get out of bed, seriously ill flu – I am now starting a new regime, and I guess that I am starting pretty much from scratch. I have upgraded my Garmin Edge 800 to an Edge 1000 and below is my first ride of 2020. I have only just figured out after this ride how to turn on auto pause as the 1000 is way more complex to use than the 800, so this ride looks a little bit slow and a couple of times I forgot to use the manual stop/start controls so I post here purely as a progress marker. I have been fasting intermittently on a 16/8 daily schedule which has allowed me to drop two inches from my waist without exercising, so now I am adding exercising in a fasted state to that, so this ride was done on an empty stomach, overnight. Ironically I have not shed any actual weight, but my body has changed considerably. Fasting seems to be efficacious for serious fitness and positive body changes.

2020 will come to fear my might.

Data

I Like to Ride my Bicycle…

God damn it I have missed cycling so much. I got back on it on Saturday and today after a long (for me) time. I came in just above and just under an average of 12mph respectively. That is slow, however today especially I deliberately picked hills. The beauty of where I live is that there are serious hills in every direction. Fifteen to twenty degree climbs are not unusual. This will make for an interesting experiment in weight loss. I have maintained my weight whilst not being very active of late so I hope that upping my calorie burn and in particular doing absolute buggers of resistance rides will have a serious effect on that front. Even without my love of cycling, the hills are still cool because it does not matter how steep the incline, coasting downhill is the ultimate payoff for the hard work on the climb.

Saturday

Today

What a Crap Summer!

It has been an awful summer and I have not posted for a few months. I have still been busy but blogging has taken a back seat due to the summer holidays (four children at home – I defy anyone to find time, energy or the inclination to post) and yet again being unwell. I have had rotten luck with my health this year. I guess that is all a product of approaching forty? I cannot be certain as I have never been forty before.

What have I been doing

The running has dropped off the radar as I have had to combine my work day with the children with my exercise, meaning that I have mostly been walking and cycling. Project Lake District has taken a back seat, because our last trip out was to Grasmere, and on that day we had a blowout on the motorway with no spare tyre, and since then nigh on every weekend has either seen somebody in the house being sick or, worse than that, rain. As I said in the title of this post: what a crap summer!

I have also added the gym to my routine. I have to be honest straight out of the gate and say that I hate gyms. I mean, I REALLY hate them. I hate the places, I hate the routine and I hate the more annoying people one finds there, but I have resolved to dscipline myself to do it because lifting weights is so beneficial for men of my age that is crazy not to do so. That being said it will still be difficult to cope with the panheads found at any gym, and I have catalogued them below, purely to summarise my annoyance, so forgive my indulgence, but here are the people I hate at the gym, and whom I wish that I could kill with hate lasers fired from my eyes:

  1. The man who deliberately drops his weights as loudly as possible
  2. The man who roars as loudly as possible with every rep
  3. The man who does not put weights away
  4. The man who talks to me (at all)
  5. The man who chats up women who just want to exercise

This list is not exhaustive. Number five is the worst since I get angry on her behalf, but getting involved is unwise unless it graduates to serious harassment – such interventions are best left to the staff. For my part I take my Kindle along and read between sets. One page between each set makes for the perfect break, and reading for the time between changing exercises is as healthy for the brain as resistance exercise is for the body. I am slowly raising the weights I am lifting each month and I have devised the perfect post-workout vegan smoothie: 250ml unsweetened hemp milk and three tablespoons of peanut butter, pulverised in the blender. Absolutely delicious and very effective. My body is changing remarkably quickly. I have applied the same standard to this as I do to my other exercising, which is essentially flogging myself half to death by working at as high an intensity as I can whilst not endangering my health or safety. Again, it seems to be very effective for me.

Future Plans

With winter coming I hope to step up my running again, and I am going to swim again too. I am not entirely sure why but I prefer these two sports in the winter for some reason. Project Lake District is still something I will definitely do, but obviously not this year. So rather than aim for that I simply intend to complete it in as short a time as possible.

One plan for the medium-long term is to take up sailing and kayaking. I have done both before and I wish to do so again. I previously intended to use a kayak to commute as I used to work near to the Leeds-Liverpool canal, and I live right next to it so it made perfect sense. Unfortunately I left that job before I could realise it and therefore I had no reason to continue that plan, but now that I am approaching forty it seems to be now or never to me. I am currently looking at buying a good quality inflatable canoe or kayak (almost certainly the latter but I remain open to being convinced either way). Concerning sailing, there is a club near me to which I have applied for membership, but that will likely be next year as the weather and winter is drawing in rapidly and they process club administration in their free time so it takes a few months to complete an application. I will start out by taking my son and hiring boats and eventually I hope to buy a boat of my own and have my younger children get involved too; right now they are a little bit young and a wee bit too small for it but they will grow quickly.

I am genuinely excited about taking up this sport, one which I have previously enjoyed and that I will enjoy again. First up is kayaking, and once I master that I should be ready for the next sailing season.

Nutrition

I am currently shedding weight on a ketogenic diet. Low carb, high fat and protein is very difficult as a vegan and it involves eating nuts by the truckload, which is lucky since I love cashews and pistachios, and it is very effective. The remaining weight I am carrying is dropping off me very quickly indeed. I have already gone through two cycles of buying and donating clothes as I shrink, which is, financially speaking, slightly annoying, but luckily there are plenty of charity shops and bric-a-brac shops (thrift stores to you Yanks) near me (I love shopping in them anyway – bargains are my drug of choice!) so I am currently dropping weight quickly and dropping donation bags off at the charity shops equally as quickly!

Seriously though, I have put a lot of time and effort into researching the benefits of nutrition and whilst I cannot ever see me eschewing a vegan diet, I certainly had to think long and hard about how to engage in serious weight cutting that is fast and effective, and the ketogenic plan turns out to be the best by far. I would have implemented it sooner but the brain fog and anarchy of the summer holidays makes life challenging to say the least, which means that I decided to eat as healthily as I can until I re-established the routine of kids at school and I studying and working from home. If you are not a parent then this probably sounds rather contrived, but I can assure you that merely surviving the summer holidays is a ninor miracle. As a teetotaller I have no crutch such as drinking my sorrows away so I had to survive as best I could whilst it rained every other day. I almost forgot my own name…

Summary

In summary, the future of this blog and my routine goes like this:

  1. I am taking up kayaking and sailing, both for me and for some father and son action
  2. I am lifting weights again
  3. As winter approaches I will be back in the pool and back pounding the road, accumulating serious running miles
  4. I have finally found a diet to shed the last of my excess weight and I am hitting it hard
  5. Project Lake District will be completed in a longer timescale, mainly due to my overestimating what can be achieved with young children!
  6. The future is bright and I am going to do my best to once again post regularly

I would love it y’all would join me for the ride!

Good Friday Push and Interval Swimming

Tomorrow is Good Friday and I have teamed up with a friend to push through the half marathon barrier for a run. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and I won’t get sick. Anything else I can work through. I’ve been swimming and cycling regularly, although unlike my previous blogging I won’t be posting maps all the time unless I take on a new course. Anyone genuinely interested in maps of previous runs can view them via the Garmin Connect links posted with my data. The last couple of days are thus:

Data

Cycling

Distance 11.03 mi | Time 47:03 | Speed 14.1 mph | Elev Gain 896 ft

Source: Garmin Connect

Swimming

Distance 1,000 m | Time 40:06 | Pace 1:40 min/100m

Source: Garmin Connect

I have had a week off from swimming so I carried on yesterday from where I left off previously, namely interval swimming. Two sets of 8, 6, 4 and 2 laps, going as quickly as I can with three minutes rests between each interval in order to get my heart rate down to resting as quickly as possible. I could carry on doing 3000 metres three times weekly but this new routine not only breaks up the monotony, but also interval training is recommended for fat burning (calorie burn continues for hours after workouts), building endurance and it allegedly is very good for the heart as it ‘increases the flexibility and elasticity of arteries and veins better than continuous aerobic exercise‘.

I haven’t really done very much interval training in the past so I am keen to explore it, however I worry about it becoming a means to and end in itself. I actually enjoy long runs and bike rides so if I do go further on intervals I will restrict it to the swimming pool for now. I also need to learn a lot more about it before I continue to develop as I know very little other than my own invented interval swim workout.

Evil MSG Scuppers Plans

On Saturday I went for a good ten mile run, only to be scuppered on Sunday. I planned to cycle a good distance but unfortunately  I inadvertently ate monosodium glutamate (MSG), something that makes me so ill that I feel sick just talking about it. Unfortunately the only treatment is to drink water and flush it out of one’s system, so that is what I did. Hence, I lost 24 hours and my cycling was but a figment of my imagination. Still, I had Saturday to run and I cycled this morning. Monday I missed due to a bout of insomnia. All in all it has been a tough weekend health wise so the push was well worth it.

Running Map

It was a good run where I just about hit 11 minute miles (give or take a second or two) and that to me is pretty damned good given that there is a minimum 1000 foot climb involved here.

Cycling Map & Data

Distance 11.02 mi | Time 48:58 | Speed 13.5 mph | Elev Gain 902 ft

Source: Garmin Connect