Sunday, 8 January 2012

Dragon 2012 Preparations. Week 1.

My series of articles titled "How to lose 2 stone in 2 months" failed ... dismally.

In December 2011 I wrote weekly blogs about my attempts to lose weight in preparation for the 2012 Dragon Ride. Instead of losing weight, I ended up gaining 1/2 a stone over Christmas. Clearly I was doing something  very wrong.

I hate you so much it hurts Wii.

I now weigh approximately 16 and 1/2 stone. However, I've got a secret weapon: It's January, and this is the beginning of my last full year in my thirties. If there's a better reason to see what my body can do before it hits the slippery slope into old age, I'm buggered if I can think of it.

My first problem is my weight. I am 2 and a 1/2 stone overweight, which in cycling terms means I've eaten a whole road bike, the saddle pack, and the bottles. On top of that I've eaten my cycle shoes and lycra clothing. This means that when I lose the weight, it will be the equivalent of cycling on a bike weighing nothing, with a team car handing me bottles when I'm thirsty .... butt naked .... with my feet superglued to the pedals. Ok, the last two points aren't particularly attractive, but the others have a lot going for them. Screw Carbon; far too heavy. My Trek 1.7 aluminium road bike will be rendered effectively weightless. I can't wait.

In order for me to become this specimen of athletic prowess, I have had to embrace 2012 with more than the usual gusto. Waking on January 1st in a fog of inebriated optimism, I vowed to myself that 2012 will be my year for physical achievement.

January 1st 2012. Oops

To that end I have taken some radical steps. Firstly, I've given up smoking. After a few months of toying with giving up, I've gone cold turkey and stopped. Just like that.

Secondly, and by far the most significantly, I've given up alcohol. Completely. Not an easy decision to make, and definitely not an easy one to sustain. I'm going to be battling more than hills this year.

Thirdly, I've decided to cut down significantly on bread and chocolate. These two quick-fix dietary landmines are all too prevelant in my life: We have a cupboard loaded with chocolates for the kids school lunches, and a permanently full bread bin beneath it.

Fourthly, I'm embracing running. And I'll come on to this a little later, you will see that at least I'm through the initial pain barrier.

Fifthly, I'll be riding further distances on the bike. I don't expect to start out riding 100 milers, but I expect to complete one 100 mile ride before the end of February.

The 2012 Dragon Ride will be my major Sportive in 2012. It won't be my only Sportive, but I regard the Dragon as the definitive Sportive. On June the 10th I will be undertaking my third  and easily my hardest Gran Fondo. I rode in 2010 and 2011 (read my Cycling Weekly article on the 2010 event here and the 2011 Dragon here) and I know how punishing the Welsh Mountains can be, particularly to the big of belly. I'm a "Big Unit" and in order for me to do well in June, I will have to drop at least 2 1/2 stone and maintain my power.

It's now a week into 2012 and the plan is going well. Possibly due to the bloated effect of too much booze and food, I've shed more than a few pounds in just 7 days. Here is how I did it:-

Day one - Hungover, useless, dead to the world. I thought about running and stayed on the sofa. In the evening I pushed out a grand total of 40 situps.

Day two - Feeling better I donned my new trainers and jogged for an amazing 32 minutes!

Day three - I cycled to work (as usual). Twelve miles in total, 25 mins either way. This is something my body is so used to, it barely registers as exercise even though I always push myself. It's only when I don't cycle to work that I notice how much effect it has on my weight.

Day four - Emboldened by my 32 minute jog I decided to run into work! It took me 58 minutes to complete and my legs were aching for the rest of the day. Having not really thought it through, a colleague kindly drove me home.

Day five - Another cycle to work, which was a great relief after the mammoth run. The legs still ache but not as bad as I thought they might.

Day six - I commuted to work by bike and then met up in the evening with a friend and jogged a further 4.5 miles!

Day seven - I went into rest days and ran 3.5 miles with Kirk in the evening. Amazingly the legs felt fresh. It would appear I've broken through the pain barrier.

Without actually counting any calories through the week, looking at the list of exercises above, it's fairly clear I am going to lose some weight. I was hopeful that I would break through the 1/4 of a stone in a week barrier that eluded me last month. So I stepped on the Wii Balance Board and took a deep breath.....

Almost 1/2 a stone in a week. Go me!
I had managed to drop around 3kg in a week, courtesy of fairly extreme exercising and no alcohol. On top of that I didn't smoke and barely touched chocolate and bread. I also aimed to stop eating after 7pm, which I've not been great at, but much better than any day in 2011.

Week 1 of my new and improved Dragon Ride Preparation couldn't have started better. I'm reluctant to title this blog "how to lose 2 stone in 2 months" because the last one didn't go well at all.

This time I shall update my blog weekly for the first two months and then review my progress on the 1st of March. I need to lose 2 and 1/2 stone, but whether it happens in the first two months will remain to be seen. The goal will be to exercise comfortably, not to sustain injury, and to keep it fresh and interesting.

Jogging with Kirk is a great bonus as we tend to compete with each other. And because we're jogging late into the evening, it doesn't impact heavily on family time.

My wife has bought a nice pair of running shoes and went out a couple of nights ago, on her own. She has promised to run with me once she finds her feet, so to speak.

Next week, I shall focus mainly on the running, as I plan to run to work and back on at least one occasion. Whether this happens depends on how good my legs feel through the week. One definite goal is to cycle at least 50 miles on my day off, tomorrow. I shall update you at the end of the week.

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