The Wiggle Dragon Ride may be months away, but I have a gut I need to bust. The last two Dragons were hard, this one is going to make them seem like a quick cycle to work. To survive 2012, you need to be fit. To do it fast, you also need to be pretty bloody thin.
Rather than easing myself into the newly discovered world of running, I have been typically male, and pushed myself hard .... even harder than when I first took up cycling. This is partly because Ive actually broken through the pain barrier.
Running has always been an uncomfortable experience and an extreme test of my cardiovascular capabilities. It is now almost, erm, enjoyable. My breathing has settled down into level, easy breaths. My legs feel stronger and generally my body has been giving me a big "thumbs up" to push it a little further. So I've put my running shoes on and started pushing it.
|A runner, running.|
The Week in miles
To show you just how extreme this week has been, here's a snapshot of my week in miles....
On Monday I rode 65.60miles in 3 hours and 50 minutes. I then fell asleep on my bed for an hour before the school run. In the evening I ran two miles with my wife.
On Tuesday I ran 6.54 miles to work, and then ran home again. This totals a half marathon, completed with a back-pack. Due to overtime at work, I end up running home at 0300hours arriving home at 0355hours, knackered.
On Wednesday I cycled 6.54 miles to work as fast as I could, and cycled back again around midnight.
On Thursday I ran into work again along the same route. That day I bought some boxes of painkillers as my knees start to feel a little uncomfortable. Then I ran home again forgetting to take any of the Ibuprofen. I got home utterly knackered.
On Friday I rode into work as fast as possible and cycled home in much the same way. My knees seem to be ok, even after yesterdays long run.
On Saturday I rode into work and then cycled 10.66 miles as fast as I could to my friends house, where I didn't drink alcohol all night!
On Sunday I rode into work from Neil's as fast as I could. My "fast" pace is usually around twenty mph but after a week of this level of exercise all I could manage "in the red" was an aerage of 16.5 mph. I then cycled home and ran for a whole hour with my mate Kirk later in the evening.
I keep looking at this list and find it mildly amazing that I'm writing about me. Being around 16 and 1/2 stone two weeks ago, I'm not really a perfect running design. To say I'm happy with my efforts this week would be a mammoth understatement.
It's safe to say that this amount of exercise is going to have an effect on the body. My hope was for the effect to be purely weight loss, however I have since discovered that by pushing myself hard for the shorter cycle rides, and by managing a decent 17.09mph average over 65 solo miles, I have gained leg muscle. Normally I would be happy with bigger legs, but when I need to lose weight, I initially felt like I'd wasted time bulking up by targeting the wrong type of exercise.
However, being a philosophical man, I have tried to see it as a benefit ..... The way I see it, if you put the same engine in a bigger car, you're going to burn fuel faster. Effectively I'm asking my heart and lungs to power a bigger machine. If my muscles are larger then I'm needing more calories to fuel them! This means I'm losing weight easier now than I was last week. That's grounded in Science I just made up, so please take it with a pinch of salt.
The running has been my biggest eye-opener this week. Whereas I've always viewed it as a tortuous, masochistic pursuit; a last-chance saloon for the ballooning armchair athlete, I now see it for what it really is....
I see there being two stages to running. Everyone who has been for a run has experienced the first stage; This is the stage where the runner knows nothing but pain and suffering. Having got off the sofa and put on a pair of trainers, the new runner will discover how hard it is to actually keep pounding the pavement. Strains, muscle aches, leg pains, chest burn, breathlessness, stiffness and a myriad of other discomforts litter the near future for any new runner. It's not surprising most get changed back into their PJ bottoms and slump back onto the sofa.
Most people never get past this stage. Most people think that running is this stage. However, persevere and you get through the pain barrier into the second stage; This is where I am right now. Instead of fearing the jog, I yearn for a quick 30 minutes or even an hour of trotting steadily around my home town. The aches and pains of muscle creation are gone. I have become a runner (of sorts) and it will take a few weeks, maybe months to lapse back into stage one.
I'm overweight but with years of cycling, I'm relatively fit. Even with my weight exceeding 100kg, the transformation from stage one to stage two has taken me less than a month. I would estimate that it took about 7 runs over a month to create a pair of running legs. Now they will function for an hour on the road, without stopping! Beyond that, I just don't know.
If you don't run, then be prepared to battle through the first stage. If you persevere, It's an excellent way to exercise for relatively short periods of time and get very fit quickly. Just make sure you get some decent shoes.
At the beginning of 2012, just 2 weeks ago I was slightly over 16 and a 1/2 stone in weight. Today I weigh 15 and 3/4 stone. I am happy with this progress. I'm on target for losing more than 2 stone in 2 months (which is my goal). After the first week where I lost almost 1/2 a stone in weight, it's clear that my weight loss is slowing slightly. I'm not concerned, I've not even considered dieting yet, so there's plenty of scope for improvement.
|Next week I aim to be significantly under 100kg - A mighty milestone.|
The coming week
On average I spent approximately 2 hours each day sweating. I can't keep that kind of exercise up indefinitely, it's just not reasonable to expect my body not to fall apart. Because of all this hard work I've concluded that this coming week I need rest. Bearing in mind I cycle to work and back, resting isn't exactly complete inactivity. I plan on throttling back on the hours per day in lycra.
I'm not fighting some kind of crazed exercise addiction (I may be talking to myself here so feel free to skip a few lines); the volume of work I've done this week has been pleasurable and although extreme, it's been planned. Now I will tackle the excess weight through sensible diet for at least a few days. My body and mind need to recouperate.
So my plan for the week is much less dictatorial. I will be guided by my Apps (more of that next week) and will attempt the hardest task of them all .... eating less. It is probably worth noting that through all this exercise I've been eating foolishly; One night at work ... clearly showing off ... I ate 4 donuts one after the other. I didn't even bite the last one, I just chucked it all in! In fairness, I work in a Police Station, where donut abuse is mandatory ..... that is .... until now *SOB*