Change of marathon plans…

Well my marathon plans have to be scrapped, I have an unavoidable work weekend the same weekend I was planning to run the Robin Hood Marathon in Nottingham (in England). The good thing is that I don’t have to worry so much about my knee/hip/cramp pain and can relax a little before starting to train again.

Also, inspired by folks earlier in the thread I looked around for other runs in the UK that I can travel to, and found the Eden Project Marathon from this page that collects all the UK marathons during the year. If you don’t know what the Eden Project is, basically it’s the science project (now tourist spot) that inspired the movie ‘BioDome’. The thing is, this is a ‘multiterrain’ race, which I’ve been wanting to do, but not this early. But I can look forward to it, as it coincides with an annual birthday/camping trip, and I was just in Cornwall last year at the same time!

Marathon training (temporarily) derailed

What the hell…

So I hurt my knee on Wednesday, limped around on Thursday and felt fine on Friday. I went for a very slow 2-mile jog (instead of the 3-miler called for in the schedule), did the scheduled rest on Saturday (knee feld fine but I could feel a twinge in my hip) and attempted a slow jog yesterday (6 miles was the scheduled run but I started with attempting 3).

This was a bad idea, methinks, because although I slowed down and walked every time I felt the knee pain, I started getting a cramp in my calf on the same leg. I’m guessing this might because I was altering my gait to compensate? It’s the same calf that gets cramped after a heavy mountain biking session, though, so I’m not sure what to think about the cramp. I did massage it and stretch it for quite a bit and I can feel it today but nowhere near as much.

I’m skipping the biking tonight and resting until at least Wednesday, which is the next scheduled run. I’m a bit annoyed now because my first week of actual training is pretty much totally shot, and possibly the second week too.

Marathon training

My official marathon training starts next week (for the Robin Hood Marathon in September), and I’ve been running a few days a week for the past several weeks to build myself up. Yesterday I was even able to drag myself out of bed, lace up and run 3 miles, shower, cook breakfast…and go to work. Wow!

That was the second run of the week, and I was very tired this morning (very sore from running around all day so no sleep) so I’ll run 3 miles when I get home, then do a long run on Sunday.

Monday is the official start of my 18-week training, starting with a 1.5 hr mountain bike ride on Monday, then rest then 3 consecutive days of runs, then a rest then a 6-mile run on Sunday. From there the long run gets longer every week, and the weekday runs slowly ramp up in length as well until I’m doing 7 to 10 miles during the 3 weekday runs and up to 23 miles on the long run. Yikes!

Had a run on Saturday, then mountain biking last night

I started up mountain biking last night after a winter layover (my poor bike…the last time it was ridden was when I put it away before November sometime, and I didn’t even wash it!). Notice how it was cold and wet? Yeah…that was how it was on the trail – then toss in ankle-deep mud in inky blackness and it was VERY difficult to stay upright most of the time.

Surprisingly my legs aren’t as tired as they were on Sunday (I ran a few miles Saturday morning) so I guess I’m sorta used to it already, which is cool.

I’m going to use the biking as training for the marathon, so I’m counting it as my Monday run, then I’ll run Wednesday mornings or Thursday nights (I’m busy most Wednesday nights) and then run again on Saturdays.

Kind of on a stall with weight loss – time to hit the weights!

I didn’t pig out on food or anything, I’ve never been a comfort eater, but my weight has stayed stagnant for the last couple of weeks, hovering around 90kg or 200 lbs.

Although I’ve lost 15+ pounds in the last few months (about a pound a week) I’m pretty sure I’m in a stall, so I’m going to get back on the wagon and start working out this week.

I should have done some working out last week to get rid of some bad energy, but I just did a 2-hour mountain bike ride today, I’m tired as hell and I’ll lift weights a couple of times this week and do high-intensity interval training 2-3 times as well to get right back into the program I was doing several weeks ago.

So, tomorrow: the weights!

Diet, next step

The next ‘phase’ of the diet (actually just another diet, but much less intense than the last one) will probably be an amalgamation of the Eat Stop Eat diet, but with cheat days, similar to the program I just finished.

The Eat Stop Eat ‘plan’ is basically eating what normal healthy food you eat, but you  fast for 1 or 2 24-hr periods during the week – there’s an e-book you can buy that explains the science behind it, but that is literally the whole plan. It’s called ‘Intermittent Fasting’, or ‘IF’ to abbreviate.

Each week I’ll weigh myself, figure out my calorie needs to maintain my weight, then eat what I need on non-fasting days, and on the days I fast I just won’t have anything but non-calorie drinks, so I’ll be operating at a slight calorie deficit over the course of the week.

I’ve read through some other diet programs, ideas and sites (the ones without loads of salesy marketing garbage), and many of these advocate intermittent fasting (shortened to IF) as well as occasional cheat days – usually once a week. The cheat days, as I think I’ve explained before, boost various hormone levels and ‘trick’ your body into raising the levels of these hormones (insulin and leptin), which make your body burn off calories (if I’m remembering the literature right, I’m no expert).

In addition, now that I’m used to fasting for a day or two at a time on this ‘xtreme’ diet I can do it once or twice a week easily, and the IF folks say there’s a definite advantage to working out while fasted. I think I could do it from Sunday 8 PM to Monday 8 PM easily, since that is when I usually say bye to my GF, and then from Thursday 8 PM to Friday 8 PM, since Friday is usually when I next see my GF, so it works out socially and all, as well. The cheat day could be Sundays (Sunday roast and junk food during the Grand Prix) or Wednesdays when I do my D&D gaming and there’s usually lots of crisps and wine gums.

(By the way, another intermittent fasting plan is the Warrior Diet, which consists of snacking on fruit and veg during the day but having nothing else but water, then at night, have a massive meal of anything healthy that you want until you’re comfortably full. Combine this with heavy workouts and you’re doing the Warrior Diet. But some people have trouble with the Warrior Diet and think it can lead to eating junk to fill you up, when you’re supposed to eat healthy stuff, but still carbs. The same problem can happen with Eat Stop Eat, where you might trick yourself into eating a big meal at the end of your 24-hr fast – you’re just supposed to eat a normal-size dinner of 600-1000 calories.)

So the idea is that if you follow up a high-carb cheat day with a hard workout and a short fasting period you burn off lots of calories – and hopefully fat as well.

Hopefully I’ll lose half a kilo to a kilo per week by simply eating normal healthy food, fasting once or twice a week, and working out 3 times a week.

Finally, now that I ‘know’ I can wake up early and work out, then shower and go to work (just like how I’ve cycle commuted 16mi to work twice in a row so I ‘know’ it can be done – basically just confidence I can do it), I should be able to do this once or twice a week as needed, when I don’t have time in the evenings. That was I can get in 3 workouts a weeks and have proper rest days between them and everything.

Diet, the wrap-up

So the big ‘xtreme’ diet is over, and the first thing that will be asked is: Did the damn thing work? Did all the fasting, pills, protein powders and working out help?

Well, overall, I feel better, and some of my ‘dimensions’ have improved: my waist has gone down by almost 1.5 inches (bringing my Waist-to-Height Ratio down quite a bit, from 60.5 to 58.7, very close to the merely ‘overweight’ range) and my bicep measurement has gone up almost one and a half inches. My weight has stayed about the same, but I’ve put on more muscle (evidenced by my arm measurement), which weighs more than fat, so overall I’m fitter. I sit up straighter in my chair at work, like I usually do when I’m exercising regularly, and of course I’m more conscious of things such as the starchy carb content in my meals, calories in my drinks, etc. I’m not nutty about it (I think – but if I mention this to anyone they’re like ‘HURF HURF you’re all mentalist crazy dieter now!’) but I’m aware of these things.

So – did I get the results promised in the ‘Xtreme Fat Loss Diet‘? Well, the diet promises that you can lose up to 20-25 pounds – like I said above I didn’t lose any, but I wasn’t expecting to drop below 200 lbs doing this diet. I was hoping to lose 10-15 pounds, which I didn’t, but I have added muscle while losing a little weight, which means I have lost fat, which is good.

I suppose the next question would be what went ‘wrong’, why didn’t I lose loads of weight? There’s actually a few things here and there. The first thing is that the diet wasn’t a failure – I’m well on the road to regular, consistent exercise and eating healthily, kind of like a 4-week health bootcamp. But there were hiccups, for sure. On at least a couple of the Moderate Carb days, I had a fast food meal (leaving out the fries) and for one of those meals I had a full-fat Coke due to an ordering mix-up (not mine). I also went on a weekend holiday, so had to improvise on food due to eating out and camping, plus I missed a couple of workouts that weekend. Then the following weekend I went on a heaving drinking night, (for a friend’s bachelor party) and didn’t do anything the following day.

To top it off, I was using a cheap, crappy body fat measuring thing to figure out my body fat percentage (I was getting regular readings of just over 30% every time) and I forgot my digital scale at my girlfriend’s a couple of weeks ago, so I haven’t been able to get scale readings when I should. I am able to hop on the shipping scale at work, but if I do that it’s not at a consistent time (I like to weigh myself after waking, after the toilet and before the shower, consistently) and I’m wearing clothes so I have to fudge off some imagined weight for my clothes. I just today received a good body monitor scale (Tanita brand, recommended by pro trainers) and the body fat measurement came to 22.4% – and there’s no way I could have lost 8% body fat from yesterday (when I measured with the cheap handheld thing) to today. No way in hell. So – forgetfulness and equipment failures prevent me from providing a full and accurate way to track my progress, and for now I have to rely on guesstimates from the measurements I can get.

Will I try the Xtreme Fat Loss Diet again? Not sure yet, but I might. I believe in the science of it, with the carb-loading on cheat days, the fasting and shake days, plus the targeted workouts depending on what day of the cycle you’re on. If you try to explain it to anyone you sound like a raving crazy person, but people expect that of me anyway 🙂

Now for the money question, literally: Will I ask for a refund of my $67? To be honest, I’m not sure yet. I could, the program allows a 60-day no-questions-asked returns policy, but I don’t know yet. I didn’t see the weight drop off like I thought I would could, but then again I wasn’t able to follow the program to a ‘T’. I’ll have to think about it.

Diet, day 26

Well, I’m nearing the end of the diet, I’m on the last 5-day cycle (there are five 5-day cycles to go through).

Technically I should have finished yesterday, but I took a few days off here and there because of a weekend holiday trip and a lad’s night out for a friend who’s getting married soon. I ate sensibly on the holiday trip and even worked out on one of the days I was out of town, and the stag night turned out to be on the final cheat day, so that was alright – except for the copious amount of drinking I did, which was mostly low-calorie drinks except for bottle of cider, a bottle of wine and a white Russian. The day after the night out was meant to be a fast day but I was far too tired to care, but I didn’t gorge myself and ate a mostly-protein breakfast and ate a bit during the day.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get on a proper scale for a week or so, but I was able to get on the big postal box scale at work and at the start of cycle 4 I was about the same weight as at the start of cycle 3. I’m hoping I will have lost another kilo or so by the end of cycle 5, but I think I’m a ways off losing the 4-7kg I was hoping to drop at the start of the diet. The thing is, I don’t really know, but basically I’ll have to see where I am at the finish. I didn’t think I’d get the ‘up to 20-25 pounds’ promised in the diet literature, so I was hoping to be realistic with 10-15 pounds! 🙂

Another thing to consider, though, is that I’m probably putting on a nice amount of muscle, which weighs more than fat. I can almost certainly feel more muscle in my biceps, although my chest looks about the same. My legs have always been fairly muscular, if I can admit/brag about that, so no big changes there, but my arms definitely feel stronger. I haven’t measured my waist in a while either, but I’m hoping to be down another 1 to 1.5 inches for a total of 3 inches dropped in my waist by the end.

Is it a bit too early to be thinking and talking about what I’m expecting by Thursday? I don’t know, it’s just a couple of days to go and I’m looking forward to shifting to a different diet and a new workout routine. More on that later…

Diet, day 20 (I think)

I’ve lost track a bit of what day I’m on, but regardless the diet is still going good.

The last time I weighed myself, last Friday, I’d dropped an inch and a half in my waist and lost a little bit more weight. The number on the scale doesn’t mean too much (although it is nice to see it go down), what’s more important is fitting better/looser in my clothes! I might also be gaining some muscle through the workouts and protein I’m taking in, which is great because having muscles mean I burn more calories while I’m doing literally nothing.

Over the weekend I went away for a few days – more on that in another post – so I didn’t work out Friday (which was going to be a rest day anyway, Saturday (oops, meant to work out that day) or yesterday/Monday (ack, I really did mean to work out but was knackered after driving back!). So, although I brought my 16kg kettlebell with me, I didn’t bring it up to the yurt – a good 250 yards away…up a hill, I was too tired after dragging all the bags and food with me from the car to get the damned thing. I did, however use nearly-full 20-liter jerry cans of water to do some rows with on Sunday as part of the protein-only day workout. I figured those things were at least 16-18kg each, quite a decent workout just with them, definitely went to exhaustion on the rows.

Today is pill day (fasting all day, no calories whatsoever, just BCAA protein pills) which means yesterday was CHEAT DAY – so I had a huge breakfast pastry and soon after a big English breakfast (4 bacon rashers, 2 sausages, 2 poached eggs, mushrooms, tomatos, fried bread…I skipped the black pudding) and later on nearly a full large pizza with garlic bread and chicken breast strips. And full-fat Coke here and there as well 🙂

I’ve got a stag do this weekend, a friend is getting married soon but rather than a full on British ‘stag weekend’ some younger guys might do, we’ve got a day full of activities planned and a big drunken night out. No getting around it in regards to the diet, and I’ve already massaged the eating plan once for the weekend just gone, but at least the day we’re all going out is an actual Cheat Day according to the plan, so I can have a fast food lunch and later on pig out on the Mexican dinner. The hard part will be recovering the next day, which is a Fast Day – but I’m not *really* planning to get *that* wasted…we’ll have to see though 😉 At least I’ll be exercising every day for the next week, to ‘make up’ for not exercising for a couple of days just recently.

Diet, day 12

Fast Day again, uggghh. Not fun.

Have felt pretty weak and even light-headed, so much so that for lunch I had to have a flapjack (baked oat/sugar cake popular with backpackers and trekkers in the UK) in addition to the 8 massive tablets of BCAA protein for the 1 PM meal.

To give an idea of the pills, here’s a picture of an entire day’s ‘meals’ of protein tablets:

I did okay last Wednesday with the fast day, and at the end of the day I had a table full of chips/crisps (excuse the American/British terminology duplication), plus wine gums, Maltesers and assorted other candies in front of me, but a friend of mine was giving me moral support and not imbibing either. I suppose today the flapjacks were just conveniently right next to me and I’m freaking STARVING.

Some diet pros might say ‘well you were listening to your body’, which makes you feel fine about cheating, but then again I was cheating all day yesterday and today’s plan is to fast…oh well. I’m not kicking myself about it too hard, but last week I was able to make it and this time I wasn’t. One flapjack won’t throw me off too much.