Sunday, 22 January 2012

Dragon 2012 Preparations. Week 3

If veggies be the food of love, jog on

Having spent the previous week exercising to the point of exhaustion, this week I have been taking it relatively easy. Which gives me a little time to tell you about some gadgets I use whilst training...

A Less Sweaty Week

Firstly, this is what I've been up to in the sweat department last week...

On Monday I ran for an hour in the evening with Kirk, but after the previous week of excess, we both realised we needed a rest. On Tues and Wed I did nothing. On Thursday I ran into work and back (total of 13 miles), and on Friday I ran into work. As I got near to the Police Station, my right knee twinged in a slightly painful way and I ended up walking the last few metres.

I've not run since, and drove into work for the first time this year yesterday, but that was because I woke up rather late. My knee is a concern. Now I've stopped running, there is no pain, or any twinge so i'm hoping it will be good to run on again in a few days. I won't rush to try. In the meanwhile I shall cycle.

As you can see from the grainy photograph above, I have endeavoured to become a healthy eater. I can tell you that whilst most of those items have been eaten this week, so have a lot of other less healthy items.

I have devoured two donuts, 5 white Choc Chip Cookies, 1/2 a bag of Popcorn (whilst watching the very impressive War Horse at the Cinema) and a plethora of fairly greasy products from Morrisons. Which really means I have to diet.

Although I've given up drinking alcohol this year, it would seem that I need to do more in order to lose weight. I genuinely thought that giving up the beer and the snacks would have the same effect as popping a balloon.

However, this week I've actually gained weight, but I am certainly not any fatter. I can feel at the side of my stomach the beginnings of hard muscle under thinning layers of lard. In fairness to myself, this week has still be a fairly active one, and I am pretty sure that I've gained muscle mass from running. As a result, whilst I'm heavier I feel fitter than I've felt in a very long time.

With this positive mindset I shall be turning my focus from running to cycling. I have no muscle to gain from cycling, having done it repetitively for several years, so any steady exercise on a bike will be promote weight-loss.

I mentioned last week that I've been using a couple of Apps to assist my endeavours. They are:-


Myfitnesspal is a calorie counter which most of you will be familiar with. It does the same job as the Livestrong Ipod app, but I'm an Android user and find FitnessPal more accessible. For those of you who haven't used a calorie counter App, then it would be best described as an electronic journal charting your daily calorie consumtion, offset by your daily exercise (calories burned). You simply input the food you've eaten, which is usually on the database, set the amount and watch your daily calorie allowance drop by the amount you've just entered.

By offsetting this with exercise you can add calories on to your daily allowance by recording exactly the kind of exercise you've just done, and for how long. However, I'm beginning to learn that in order to lose weight, the aim isn't to eat your daily allowance! On a couple of occasions I've finished the day with in excess of 1000 calories remaining (after running to work and back), but generally I hover around the daily limit.

Sensible choices can be made to reduce your intake, one of the most effective is simply by reducing portion sizes. A colleague at work started doing this at work a couple of years ago, and ended up slimming down from 18 stone to 12 stone in less than a year. All he did was put his food on smaller plates!

I will be ramping up my attentions to this App next week, as I've developed more than enough muscle to be getting along with for now. I just need to burn off the stomach fat.


MapMyRide is a very useful App for ... erm ... mapping your ride. My phone will last around 5 hours with GPS activated, which is enough to complete almost any training ride. I simply boot up the GPS, load MapMyRide. The App will faithfully record your ride for on a detailed map and will also show you your average speed and average pace. The App will show you the gradient in side profile which is a useful touch along with the facility to pause your progress if you stop for any reason.

Because I ride to work along the same route every day, I decided to employ this App to spark my competitive edge. Generally speaking, if I have this App running, I'm getting to work as fast as I bloody well can. In that sense, it makes for a brilliant motivator.

I've yet to find a way of importing the routes into Navigon, my SatNav App. If anyone knows if it's possible to do this I would be very grateful to hear how. I would love to be able to retrace my recent 65mile cycle by Navigon piping instructions into my ears via my headphones.

My Weight

This month I am a disappointing 16 stone. However, I feel really strong and believe I'm fitter than I've been in a really long time. Naturally, to complete the Dragon in a quick time, I need to be a lot leaner. This will come with time.

Next Week

After a fairly sedentary week gaining leg muscle and eating half of Morrisons Supermarket, the time is rapidly approaching for me to actually diet as well as sweat. I am cautious, but I hope to start this dieting today. Whether I have the will-power to maintain this remains to be seen.

My rest days fall on school days this week, which means for 3 whole days I can hit the road whilst the children are at school. I will need to make the most of these three days and cycle at least two of them, one being a substantial 50+ mile ride.

Because I'm feeling rested and strong, I think it's time to ride my 20 mile loop around Kenilworth. My best time around this hilly ride is approximately 20mph (calculated in my head before I had a funky phone) in favourable conditions. I shall see how I fare.

There are two Sportives fast approaching. The first is the Phile Cooke Challenge on the 19th of February and the Mike Vaughan 69'er on March the 11th. Mike Vaughan Cycles are who I ride with regularly through the lighter months and this is highly anticipated fixture. Both these rides are 69 mile rides through rolling countryside. Both are fraught with early-season muddy lanes, but both are excellent training rides. They will be my short-term preparation goals and I will gear my training towards this middle-distance riding.

As the Dragon gets closer I will start riding further, hillier routes. Ultimately I will be riding around 100 miles out towards Gloucestershire, where I will climb Saintbury Hill (read all about that one here ) and a plethora of other bastard slopes, culminating on a hill with no name ... that makes Saintbury look like a speed-bump. But that will be in April/May time when I can actually climb big hills.

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