A different kind of training

One of the things I have agreed to take part in during 2018 is The Three Peaks Challenge. This involves climbing the tallest mountains in England (Scafell Pike), Scotland (Ben Nevis) and Wales (Snowdon). 

But here’s the kicker: you have to do it all in twenty four hours. 

Why would anyone want to do this? I don’t know. I’m too young for a mid-life crisis, too old for a quarter life crisis (yeah, seriously, that’s a thing now). Maybe just plain stupidity…

“…sign me up”, I said. 

And so it was that I found myself a few weeks back heading out in totally inappropriate footwear on the one and only day of 2017 when we got any real snow. Needless to say my non-waterproof trail shoes (not even boots) got soaked. 

I had been shopping for boots the week before but got stingey at the last minute and decided “one more pay cheque first”. (I tend to do that: put off buying things I need when I see the cost of them. After a year of living in my current (unfurnished) house, I still don’t own a bed frame (the mattress is the important bit after all, isn’t it? Who needs to be raised off the floor?) 

Nevertheless, the walk was only six miles, and I really had no choice but to suck it up. 

We went along a section of the Ridgeway in Berkshire. It looks a bit like this, not a mountain, but still undulating: 

The original plan was to climb a proper mountain in Wales but the conditions were too severe, both for driving that far, and for climbing. 

We did make snowmen though: 

(Mine is the one on the right, with a face that looks as if it had been modelled on a Slipknot mask.) 

A quick trip to a pub in the village of  Goring with an open fire completed the day:

Advertisements

Mid-week run

Today’s session was another chilled out run with RB2 (running buddy number 2) and it was very welcome since I skipped the gym yesterday after a tiring day at work. (RB1 is still around and is doing the Farnborough Winter Half Marathon with me.) 

I say it was chilled because my music, which normally involves an incredibly loud hour-long onslaught on my eardrums, was replaced with an (at times breathless) conversation.

We kept up a moderate pace over 4.6km, and ran up a gentle hill twice, over two loops. 

It was pitch black and we probably needed head torches in places where the street lighting wasn’t quite enough to show up the roots growing through the pavement, but I am very self-conscious about looking like a fool. On the bright side though (pun intended) we got to see a cool skyline at the top of the hill. 

Getting home, I did a few stretches and some foam rolling, something which is thankfully becoming a habit. But I also did some squats and push-ups; I’m trying to do these after every run so that it becomes routine. I need to get more into strength training and it has to start somewhere. 

Hopefully I will get to the gym tomorrow with GB (gym buddy – I think working for a large corporation has twisted my tiny brain and sent me acronym crazy). 

Thoughts on running nutrition and weight loss

This post was inspired by The Story of my Treadmill on the Yuvi’s Buzz blog. It is a really good account of the emotional ups and downs of dieting. I recommend that you read it first and then (hopefully) return and read the rest of this post. You can read it here.

I hope she won’t mind me saying this but I fundamentally disagree with the idea of dieting. (Yes, I said it. I don’t follow diet plans.)  Instead, I think the way forward is to embrace long-term, sustainable changes. This embraces a number of ideas, such as healthy food swaps, portion control by stealth, and small adjustments.

Let me explain further…

Healthy food swaps

This is stuff like replacing beef mince with turkey mince in your cooking, replacing refined sugar with honey (sugar is still sugar, but honey hasn’t been stripped of it’s natural, fibre-containing, context), replacing soft drinks with sparkling water, and so on. These might not seem like too much of a big deal but could add up to a lot less fat and sugar in your diet. The jury’s still out on fat consumption but reducing sugar intake should contribute to weight loss.

Portion control

This one is dead simple: buy smaller plates, preferably attractive looking ones that will complement your food presentation.

My partner and I used to eat portions that were really far too big. For instance, those microwaveable rice packets that you get that they recommended to serve two people, well, we used to have one each. As rice is a carbohydrate, I decided to use only one pack for the two of us. I then upped the amount of vegetables on the plate so we didn’t feel that we were on a diet. (I always put butter on our vegetables by the way because a nutritionist at the gym told me that butter is not a problem. In fact, news stories have come out lately saying that margarine may be more harmful than butter. Seriously, search that one in your browser. And it makes a huge pile of vegetables much more palatable.) I try to have at least two different colours of vegetable if I can; it makes the meal look more attractive and gets more micronutrients onto the plate.

Cutting down the plate size is a well-known trick and really is portion control by stealth. A larger plate that’s half-empty always looks a lot sadder than a full smaller plate, even though there may be the same amount of food on each.

Below, you can see a picture of our old plates and our new plates, which are black and make the food you serve look more fancy!

IMAG0453

Small adjustments

Do you take sugar in tea or coffee? Could you cut the number of teaspoons/sugar cubes you take by one?

I challenge you!

It may take you a while to get used to the new taste but in the long run it will reduce those sweet-tooth cravings and reduce your teaspoons of sugar per day by the number of hot beverages you have everyday. That means if you’re like me, and drink three to four coffees a day, you will reduce your sugar intake by three to four teaspoons per day, everyday, FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. No diet plan. No calorie counting. Just one simple change. What’s more, if you try going back, you will find that your taste has adjusted and having your previous number of sugars now makes you feel a bit sick. (A sweet-tooth really is more of a habit than a pre-set disposition.)

Upgrade your nutrition

There is a lot of emphasis out there about eating less. It seems to me that a lot of people think the way forward is to just keep reducing their calories. In the short term, this may work, but you inevitably cannot sustain eating fewer calories than you need. It has been shown that a staggeringly high percentage of yo-yo dieters not only re-gain the weight a few years later, but they normally put more on as well.

I think a lot of people need to eat more: more fruits and vegetables, more protein (not if you’re already on protein supplements), more healthy fats. So instead of thinking in terms of cutting back, it may help to think in terms of cramming as much nutrition into a dish as you possibly can.

Porridge made with milk and honey is good. It’s got oats, it’s got protein in the milk, and it avoids empty-calorie refined sugar.

Porridge made with milk and honey, and added flaxseed, is even better though. Now you’ve added omega 3!

And porridge made with milk, honey, added flaxseed and added blueberries, is even better still!

This is a breakfast that will really set you up for the day, and should satisfy your appetite so that you aren’t craving a bag of crisps or a chocolate bar later on. (If you buy fruit and can’t manage to eat it all before it goes off, a cheaper option is to buy frozen blueberries and take out a small portion to defrost overnight. I know this is starting to sound like hard work but it’s really not.)

Food really isn’t something to be scared of.

In fact, it’s essential for your life, energy and wellbeing.

Eat well, enjoy your food and give yourself the fuel you need for an awesome run!