Counting Steps is Pointless, Moving Constantly is the Future

Along with my loathing of the gym another bunch of fitness bores I roll my eyes at are the 10000 steps a day merchants, and largely for the same reasons – particularly the Fitbit Squadron. I can’t stand the gym not only because of the whole staring at the wall and picking things up and putting them down thing, but also because of the vanity of men trying to pick up girls there. Trust me guys – she’s breaking a sweat and working hard. She doesn’t want you to talk to her. The other thing about gym workouts is that they are often pointless because people often sit around all day, literally not moving, then flog themselves to death for 45 minutes before returning to a sedentary position. This is no good for staying well, and the 10000 steps a day mantra is the same.

I also typically don’t like self help books either but one of the best books I’ve read in a while is Dan Buettner’s Blue Zones, in which he visits the six places on Earth where people live longest, happiest and most free of chronic illness. These areas all have huge concentrations of centenarians, almost no cancers or diseases associated with chronic inflammation and no lingering chronic illness killing people. When people in the Blue Zones die they just have one bad day, and in the meantime they live lives of healthy productivity well into their eighties and nineties. The book uses hard data and observations and Buettner discovered several things they all have in common. They are all more or less vegans, drink tea, coffee and a little red wine, they gather as a community regularly, venerate elders, often have several generations in one house and so forth. One thing that stood out to me, however is that these people never stop moving. I should be clear that they aren’t trying to live long lives, rather their longevity is a byproduct of their lifestyles. So, for the same reason that I long since ceased calorie counting, I have never tried to hit an arbitrary number of steps. Instead of fostering the ‘I’ve moved 10000 steps and thus have earned this 500 calorie chocolate muffin’ attitude I have lived, for many years, a de-convenienced lifestyle.

Below is yesterday’s health data from my iPhone:

Not bad huh? This is a typical day in the summer for me. I had no idea that I had covered such a huge distance yesterday. I didn’t try to either. All I have done for the last five or six years is to live according to a set of principles that essentially force me to move constantly. So, for example, below is what yesterday entailed. I preface this by saying that I work from home so I’m lucky in that sense, and I can arrange my day around bursts of work.

  • Walk the school run
  • Go running straight from school
  • Come home, draw a bath
  • Hang out wet washing, start new load
  • Bathe
  • Prepare evening meal whilst dripping dry
  • Dress
  • Work for three hours, raising to either prepare food, hang out washing, prepare next load etc. Much of work is reading and I do as much as I can standing up
  • Walk 2 miles to shops, collect what I need
  • Another hour reading in the sun by the canal
  • Walk home and collect children
  • Whilst children change hang out more washing and prepare another load
  • Walk 3 miles to the park, play with children for an hour
  • Go home, eat
  • Collect washing
  • Put children to bed
  • Another burst of work
  • Walk the dog 3 miles
  • Bed

Obviously we all live our own lives but what you can see there is that I never stop moving and this raises my metabolism all day. Rather than being sluggish and sedentary for 12 hours with one burst of high intensity exercise, this way I ended up moving over 15 miles without even thinking about it. This is a better way. As long as you eat well you simply cannot gain weight living like this.

I also live according to a few simple rules that make a huge difference. This will read like luddism but there’s a reason that the Blue Zone communities are all relatively poor ones, or in the case of the Seventh Day Adventists, living lives of modest means deliberately.

  • The car is a deadly sin. Use it only when the journey cannot be made without it.
  • All journeys under 3 miles are walked
  • Any activity done whilst sitting can be done standing – getting a standing desk at work for example can be a remarkable change
  • Never automate that which you can do by hand

This list is not exhaustive but you get the idea. I also stress the need for common sense in the sense that this has to work with one’s lifestyle. Fit these things in so that it’s natural. Even simple things like taking the stairs rather than the lift make a huge difference to one’s heart rate and keeps the calorie burn ticking over in the background. Walking everywhere also frees up time for podcasts, audiobooks, quiet reflection etc, or if walking with family it frees up time for conversation.

Previously we would often drive to places to do things and view the car as a time saver, but then I realised that we rushed around like that for no reason. I literally thought that it was best to get out and in as soon as possible. Why? We would only sit around during the time saved. The constant drive to get somewhere more quickly is pointless. What will you do with the time saved? You can’t put it in the bank to use it later. When we stopped the lunacy of rushing around everywhere we found our days to be much more pleasant. No mindless rushing around like headless chickens, no stress from trying to park with energetic children bouncing around in the back. Just joyful nature and long, productive days of healthy activity.

I also live by the following dietary rules:

  • No animal ever
  • Default morning drink is green tea
  • Cook by hand, from scratch with fresh ingredients
  • Where possible buy local, as this makes you walk to the shops
  • Snack on food that looks like it does when it is in the ground, on the vine or branch etc.
  • Where possible grow your own food
  • Put turmeric in everything as it is a natural anti-inflammatory

In addition to this I would also argue that counting calories is a disaster. When I used to engage in this ridiculous practice of logging meals to the gram I would always eat right up to my limit, even if I wasn’t hungry a lot of the time.

I’ve discovered that living a life of convenience is a disaster. Spending 3 hours a week in a gym trying to run off 168 hours of sitting or lying around just doesn’t work. I’ve seen the future and it is one where I never sit still. Not only is it good for physical health, but also being productive and useful all day has a profound effect on mental health and wellbeing. Being outside is how humans thrive, and making our bodies work constantly generates a life of purpose and induces healthy sleep.

I remember as a kid I never tried to be thin, I simply was thin and I never thought about it. The main reason is that I never stopped moving and nothing was convenient. The things I do now are the things I did as a kid. The only difference is that I have to do real life as well, so I adapt.

Feed the Machine

Today’s run was shortened to two miles and I have nobody but myself to blame.

Feed the Machine

We all do fat days – occasional days where we eat junk as a treat and last night I did precisely that. Sadly what I ate and drank turn out to be terrible fuel for running but I already knew that. At the two miles mark I felt dreadful and stopped. I simply did not fuel my body properly and I need to do a proper analysis of what I eat.

Still, it’s two more miles in the bank. I’ll move forward positively and improve my diet.

Not a Bad Week, Changes are Afoot, and Losing Patience with Apple Watch

So, since breaking fifteen miles this week I have been a little under the weather and I have taken action, made a few decisions and finally caught up with running again. Currently weight is falling off me, mainly due to cutting out bread and sugar (simple carbohydrates: my nemesis) and other similar bad foods. I have replaced them with nuts and fruit. Of course, I ate those before, but sparingly, however I have discovered that adding fat and calories from nuts is a superb way to manage one’s physique. I now might have toast every ten days or so, if at all, and unless I bonk during a long run I do not eat sugar at all. Obviously when referring to sugars I mean those such as fructose (in all its many dastardly forms). Natural sugars found in fruits for example are just fine. My diet is something I have been scrutinising intensely lately. I have looked into a ketogenic diet and I am trying to get somewhere close to that, however my priority with food and lifestyle is veganism, for reasons of both health and compassion. I will always adhere to the principles of a vegan diet, and that means that options for low carbohydrate, high fat foods are limited.

When it comes to nutrition I am a novice and I am trying my best to brush up on research, and whilst I am not convinced by a diet of low or no carbohydrates at all, I do think that I used to eat far too many carbohydrates in terms of calorie volume. Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and the fact is that my diet plan (and it is a plan – fad diets are a portal to lifetime yoyo-ing and are very unhealthy) is proving to be effective for me and it is based on the following, in rough order of importance to me:

  • A vegan ethic, teetotal and no fizzy drinks (sodas to my Yankee friends)
  • High prevalence of starchy foods, dark green and leafy green vegetables, a variety of beans such as kidney beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), black eyed beans and black beans
  • Whole grains such as quinoa, millet and buckwheat
  • A variety of nuts, my favourites being pistachios, followed closely by cashews

Since we are a family of six we have one pot dishes most of the time so I always cook with sauces or bases made from either tomatoes or coconut milk. Veganism carries certain risks with it, deficiencies in certain things such as vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron. Viamin D I have covered by being outdoors most of my free time, however iron and B12 are more challenging. Getting around that comes down to fortified milks and by putting nutritional yeast and/or Marmite (both B12 sources) in practically everything. When it comes to iron it is fairly easy to overcome. Spinach goes in everything, and with young children there is the obvious problem of them turning their noses up at anything that looks green so it gets chopped as finely as possible. Cunning I am.

Anyway, the point of all of this being that whilst I shall not be going full zero carbohydrate, a major reduction whilst keeping things fresh, often raw and with no sugar is proving to be very good for me. So that was the first decision I made.

My second decision, made yesterday, is that of stopping weightlifting. I absolutely hate it. I have tried to convince myself that I wish to do it but I loathe it, I have to torture myself to motivate myself to go and I cannot see a way forward into serious distance running whilst building upper body strength through heavy lifting. Instead I am going to do resistance exercises with my body weight, focusing particularly on planking and things like press ups and lunges. To be quite honest resistance is not a priority really since I live in a very hilly area. There is not much exercise I can do without doing resistance owing to the terrain, so as long as I incorporate a little upper body work I think that that should suffice. In addition to all of this winter is coming and in winter I swim, so that will give me plenty of work above the waist.

On to tonight’s run. This week I had intended to run home from university, something I keep banging on about here, however lectures were not on this week, it was an induction and as a returning student it was not for me to attend. My mistake, so I will see if I can pick up where I left off and do it this week. So, this one was only a gentle four miles. I have cycled a wee bit since the fifteen miler but tonight I kept a shorter distance and aimed to push harder in terms of speed, and managed to get back under twelve minute miles. I stress that a good portion of my runs are climbing serious hills so until I do take the relatively flat course from UCLan to home I will not know how fast I can run on flat terrain.

Map

It is funny how, when pushing through barriers, one always feels better. Yesterday I made deliberate attempts to extend my gait and stride further, faster, and longer on the hill climbs. All the while my instinct was telling me to conserve the energy, yet when I ignored it I felt better, stronger, and more energised. It is very odd how that works, but it does work. I have suffered no ill effects and felt much better after the run.

One last thing, yesterday my Apple Watch decided not to allow Force Touch to work, meaning that I had to get out my iPhone to pause and end Runtastic and record the run, thus defeating entirely the point of using the watch in the first place. I am rapidly running out of patience with this device and I am looking at my options for a proper running watch. When Apple Watch works properly I like it, but it is too slow, too often it tells me my iPhone is not in range, even though it is two inches away, and it is buggy, laggy and slow. As a long time Apple fan this disappoints me hugely, but there we are. I can now no longer recommend Apple Watch as a fitness tool. It simply does not cut the mustard.

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!

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

Maintenance Running

I don’t know if maintenance running is a thing, but it is in my house. I am now levelling off my performances in the midweek sessions I do at 9-10 mile runs. The weekends are when I have more time and therefore I intend to use them to drive hard on distances. Unfortunately the last two weekends have seen me have to cancel runs for personal reasons but I fully intend to push through the half marathon barrier very shortly. Sometimes life conspires against us in strange ways. In this post I will have my usual map and performance assessment but I want to talk a little bit about food and diet planning too.

Map

This was what I call a maintenance run. It is a good distance and kept my fitness up.

Eating for Fitness

Diet must be one of the most talked about yet simultaneously most misunderstood and neglected lifestyle issues in the West. Hell, do you know anyone who isn’t in some way dysfunctional about what they eat? Everyone I know is either constantly ‘dieting’ – a stupid word that is misused, or constantly eating and drinking in a shockingly irresponsible and unhealthy way. I have to provide full disclosure at this point and say that I eat a vegan diet, just to be upfront about my own choices and so forth.

‘Dieting’ and Exercise

The word dieting is just silly. You’re not ‘dieting’. You’re eating unsustainably. Every single person I know who ever went on a diet didn’t make it. The reason is obvious: diets are intended to provide short term results. And they do. And that is all. I can hear you all saying ‘but you’re a vegan’. Well, yes, but that is the point. Firstly, veganism is a philosophy and as such it is sustainable. I live this way for many reasons. Compassion for animals is a primary motivating factor but so is the need to eat healthily. The point about veganism for me is that it is not something I am doing temporarily and this in my opinion is the whole issue concerning the rank stupidity of ‘dieting’. You cannot change your body without changing your lifestyle. Simply eating a Weight Watchers diet or low carb diet or whatever for a few months is pointless. It is unsustainable. People who do this know that they are not going to stick to it, and of course the weight returns eventually. I know people, women in particular who have been dieting for their entire adult lives. Not only that, but they are still overweight, sometimes grotesquely so. This is because – here comes that word again – dieting is UNSUSTAINABLE.

Any attempt at weight loss must have one thing as its central, core philosophy, and that is permanence. You will be what you are. If you do not have it in you to change everything about your lifestyle then you aren’t going to make it. Simply enrolling at a gym and carrying on as you were is going to accomplish absolutely nothing. I am going to go even further than that and say that gyms are very often a waste of time. Not only are you being charged to do what you can do at home for free, but you are likely going to be intimidated and put off by those who are either ludicrously muscular or simply vain. You should not believe the hype either. Plenty of these guys are using steroids. They will say they aren’t but they are, I can promise you that. Secondly, the stupidity of using gyms for cardiovascular exercise is simply mind boggling to me. I know people who drive to the gym, run on a treadmill and then drive home. Here’s an idea folks: save yourself £20 a month by just running to the gym and back.

Gyms are a cancer in our collective living spaces because they promote the idea that people go somewhere to get fit. We don’t. We don’t go to the fitness place and become fit any more than we temporarily eat healthy to get thin. Going to the gym to run for half an hour, burning 300 calories and then coming home and rewarding yourself with a 500 calorie chocolate muffin is why so many people fail. You’re not a car. You can’t be dropped off at the mechanic and come home fixed. It just doesn’t work that way. Some of the happiest, fittest, healthiest and long lived people I know never use gyms. They never exercise the way I do either. What they do is walk everywhere, never drive unless they have to, and they spend their lives outdoors. They don’t sit still for more than twenty or thirty minutes and they eat sensibly, and most importantly they don’t think about it. This is the secret to health and happiness.

My vegan diet is a healthy one. You can eat crisps and drink Coke all day and you’ll be a vegan so it isn’t as simple as just eschewing animal products. My veganism taught me to understand food with a focus on getting everything a body needs. When one lives this way one quickly learns what the human body needs regularly, and how to get it. I personally discovered that the Western diet is an unmitigated disaster. Too much salt, sugar, red meat, processed foods and so on. Veganism for me was a part of a wider lifestyle change with a focus on learning what I should be eating and why. In the UK we are still at a stage where, if I say I am a vegan (I try to avoid this conversation at all costs) people often look at me as though I have just confessed to being a genocidal war criminal. It is also remarkable to watch people transform into expert nutritionists right before my eyes. Common concerns from people with no knowledge of my lifestyle are often whether or not I get enough protein, whether or not I would eat meat if trapped on a desert island with little food, or whether I ‘force it on my children’. The last issue on that list is particularly comical when one considers the number of fat, wheezing teenage lardasses I see all the time. Nobody ever chastises their parents for feeding them enough for three and subsequently shortening their lives and ruining their bodies. Strange that.

The point about all of this is that veganism was and is not a ‘diet’. Obviously it is in the sense that however I eat is my diet, but I think you see what I mean. It is not a phase or a fad, it is how I live, and that is why I have sustained it. I am not trying to do it, I just do. That is why I do not yoyo diet and while not ever need to do so, for the rest of my life.

Lifestyle Changes

When I was in my twenties I made a decision. I bought a bicycle and cycled to work . This was the smartest thing I did in that decade. Why? Because it built exercise into my life in a way that was easy to maintain. It took only slightly longer to get to work than driving or public transport. It was therefore easy to keep it up. The time was allocated anyway, it was simply a choice of how I spent it. Needless to say I became much fitter with ease and rapidity. Now that I am at the end of my thirties I have been cycling ever since, and over much greater distances too.

We live two miles from our children’ school. We walk to school every day unless it is raining torrentially, and by that I mean rain that drenches a body in minutes. I have seen feats of laziness during the school run that simply blow my mind. I have watched people drive in rush hour traffic for 20-25 minutes to drop their children off when a ten minute walk was all that was necessary. I see people regularly turn up in taxis rather than just walk a mile. I don’t like being negative about this sort of thing but there has to be a line somewhere between a lack of options and sloth, and these people deserve to be fat and unhealthy in my opinion. If you are so lazy that you would rather drive the long way than just walk for ten minutes then you ought to be utterly ashamed of yourself.

The problem here is that in England in particular we are obsessed with driving. It used to be the case that cars were machines built to serve us. Now we serve cars. We  spend 30% of our income on them, we polish them, talk about them, watch films about them. Some men I meet love their cars more than their wives. It’s astonishing to me. I’ll again fully disclose my feelings on this: I don’t get cars. I don’t like them. I don’t care about them. I don’t understand why people get to a state of near sexual arousal over them. I don’t understand why it is exciting that a car can go from 0-60 in a certain time, nor am I impressed by such number. I don’t care for cars, I don’t watch TV shows about cars and I don’t want to be within a thousand miles of anyone who does.

That being said, even accounting for my feelings on the matter I still do not understand why people are so lazy. But that is the issue for certain. Somehow we have arrived at a place where, rather than owning a car as a way to get to work, we seem to go to work as a way to own a car. I have a car. I hate it. It’s 16 years old. If I could live without one I would. We use it only when we have no other option, usually when transporting shopping or other heavy things over long distances. Failing that we we walk or cycle and usually commute by train. As a result we walk often, because we have built the necessity to walk into our lifestyles.

Alcohol

In my thirties I made another decision. I went teetotal. I am not going to debate the merits of moderate alcohol consumption and so forth, although I will briefly say that this mythical moderate drinker is something I have never observed in the wild, and the meme is often trotted out every time anyone wants to pass laws to do something about the fact that we in the UK drink like no other country. We drink the way Americans eat. I personally view it as a national disgrace.

Anyway, the reason this is in here is that my decision to stop drinking cost me a lot in terms of my social life. This further enhances my point about lifestyle changes. You cannot change habits if you do all of the things you associate with that habit. At school I was teetotal too. After a brief flirtation with a bottle of cider at the age of 15 or so I didn’t drink until I was around 22-23 years old. Believe me, here in the UK that is years after most people. I didn’t exactly swill it for fun but I was never comfortable as a drinker at all, and the only reason I did it was that in the UK everything revolves around alcohol. It is nigh on impossible to have a social life and avoid alcohol. The pressure placed upon people, men especially, to drink is ludicrous. I personally got fed up of spending my time with people who, on occasions I chose not to drink, would harass me all night long and I realised that in order to succeed in my commitment to being teetotal there was only one option. Those friends had to go. It was difficult at first when attempting to fill the social void, but by god it was worth it. I am the only teetotaller I know and it does make for awkward situations. Bizarrely it seems to have a negative effect in the world of dating. I would have thought that with all of the dangers faced by women in relation to alcohol it would be a welcome thing but it really isn’t. There is a distinct distrust of men who don’t drink in my experience. I would thought that the opposite would apply, but there we are.

Getting rid of friends who only drink and don’t think much of exercise was hard, because they were friends after all. In retrospect it seems odd that we ever were friends. They were heavy smokers and drug users, I am neither, nor have I ever tried either of those – I just don’t feel the need or possess the appetite. I could never really keep up with them either, and I realised over time that they thought that this was their best version of life. They would often enthuse about going on trips to breweries. I can’t think of anything less interesting. Much like cars, I just don’t get it. I was always a fish out of water and eventually, after around a decade I wound down the habit and then just stopped. Many teetotallers are ex-alcoholics. Not so with me. I just realised that I was doing it for everybody else rather than for myself. My personal conviction is that anyone with sense will put alcohol away and live a life of sobriety. It is a better way, but of course people are what they are and I have no interest in telling people how to live. The only thing to which I do object is the fact that people who destroy themselves tend to blame everyone and everything else but themselves and I get annoyed at those running to the state for help when they can change their lives on their on their own.

So there you are. My opinions on how to eat well.

The Week in Review

Summary

This week has been an interesting one. I have pushed my morning run over the eight miles mark, I returned to the swimming pool (an event which itself spawned a post about irritating people at the pool), and I managed to sabotage a promising shot at a half-marathon distance run by ingesting fart fuel.

This week I have learned a lot about myself and the limitations of my body (i.e. I do not seem to be anywhere near reaching them yet) and the farting incident in particular has taught me a lot, especially in terms of planning my diet and timing meals well in relation to runs.

I have also hit a couple more personal milestones. The first is the fact that this is the first full week I have completed my running regimen whilst wearing proper running trousers, running gloves and running shoes. This turns out to have been far more important than I ever imagined in terms of keeping warm, comfortable and remaining injury free. Of course, I have no doubt that at some point I will pick up a strain or muscle tear but it is all about reducing the risk and likelihood of doing so. In addition to this I have purchased an Apple Watch. Whilst I confess to being an Apple devotee I will say that this watch was purchased with running in mind. I hate wearing my phone in an armband and I get annoyed when I have to stop to skip a podcast/song or check on my exercise statistics. Now it is all there in the Runtastic app on my watch; easily accessible with a mere flick of the wrist.

Unfortunately a tough night with the kids means I missed my cycle ride to university and I was not able to take the kids and dogs walking or hiking due to the fact that it has rained heavily more or less all weekend. I fear that the torrential rain that is predicted tomorrow is going to stop me from cycling again, but I will try my best. I am happy in wet conditions but I do take a few busy roads en route which I would not like to take on in a torrential downpour, purely from the point of view relating to safety concerns. Fingers crossed on that front.

I am pushing hard to be a real distance runner by summer, regularly putting in runs of double figures and I would love to be able to run the 21.5 miles home from university at least once this semester. Whether or not I will be able to stretch myself that far without doing myself some damage is a matter of fine margins, but I can try my best nonetheless.

This Week’s Media

Video: BBC Question Time, Redmen TV

Podcasts: BBC Any Questions, Real Time with Bill Maher, The Rubin Report.

See you on the road.

I’m a Pretty Good Cook, However…

An Object Lesson in Planning

Today’s aborted long run was a reminder to me of how a good few little things can add up to one big thing when it comes to the best laid plans going awry. This evening I set off excitedly on what was to be a run of half marathon distance or greater. My excitement stemmed from it being the first run with my shiny new Apple Watch (I thoroughly recommend this piece of gadgetry by the way) and I was looking forward to road testing it, having spent the previous evening and pretty much all of today playing with it and showing it off to my partner. Then two words, two simple little words interrupted: mapo tofu. You see, I am a pretty damned fine cook and tonight I made this delicious Chinese dish. What I should have done is go for a run in the early evening and eaten later on. Sadly I did the opposite.

Mapo tofu is an oil-based, spicy dish that contains miso (a bean paste common in asian food). Any one of these on its own is, frankly, fart fuel. Combine oil, miso and chilli flakes and you get one thing: stomach cramps. I was forced to abandon tonight’s run because it felt as though half the world was about to blast out of my bum. I know, I know, it’s pretty gross, but there we are. I post it here as a cautionary tale. I was actually doing very well indeed, accelerating up the Crown Point hill with a greater speed and vigour than I had previously mustered but as soon as I hit the steeper bit it was a matter of time until nature took its course. At around four miles in I had turn back for home. I initially thought that running back home on the relatively flat part of the course would cause the cramps to subside and I would at least get a solid ten miles but, alas, it was not to be. It simply became too painful and so I dejectedly phoned home for a lift. I was also down to 15% battery on the watch which would not have been enough to complete the long run I had in mind, so another lesson learned: be fully charged upon setting off.

Add to this the fact that at 4.82 miles I learned that the crown on my watch could be activated by my sleeve and Runtastic abruptly stopped tracking at that point, forcing me to start recording the run again. This is all a rather annoying catalogue of events that scuppered a run that I has been very much looking forward to and was enjoying immensely. I now sit here, gutted and blogging about it.

Map

The Moral of the Story

Deep down I knew that this scenario was likely. I ate badly, planned badly and let my passion for a long run that I would certainly have enjoyed to circumvent my good sense, and given that it rained hard here all day until the weather cleared just as I set off I feel that I have passed up a great opportunity to grab a serious amount of road miles. It is therefore the moral of the story that good vibes and a good feeling are no substitute for good practices and good habits. Fortunately I can either run tomorrow (and miss the swim I had planned) or extend Monday’s morning run to the long run I could and should have done today, but I still feel very foolish for not planning intelligently and all I have to show for what was still a 1000 calorie is an evening of absolutely massive farts that shows no sign of getting any less windy. My self-generated wind power currently shows no signs of abating.

The joy of running overwhelmed me and my brain took a back seat. I will never let that happen again.