Almost a Sick Note

Recently, whenever I start to prepare for exercise I feel as though I am about to have a heart attack. It’s not extreme pain but does feel as though I have an elephant sitting on me or more precisely a belt tied tightly around my chest.

Today the plan was to attend an early morning BMF session, our first since xmas, and so Lynn was inclined to assume my groans were some form of psychosomatic / exercise avoidance attack.

The discomfort lasted right up to our arrival at the park and I very nearly got out of the group exercise torture. When I got out of the car and stretched it had disappeared though and I’d also determined that the new pain coincides with the precise moment I fasten my sports bra. So it’s probably an indication that my girth has expanded rather than a shrinking of my cardiac arteries.

British Military Fitness was a bit of shock to the system this week. We may as well have been first timers again, weeping silently as we did wide legged pressups into a muddy puddle. The only thing that keeps me going is the image of me as GI Jane. Almost there I think.

Wide Legged GI Jane Preesups

Not a Lot of Fun on The Royal Military Canal

Both fitflo and jogblog have noticed my absence and have been kind enough to send out a search party.

I’m still here, quietly dabbling with Janathon, which of course is not the point – Janathon is supposed to be shouted about on a daily basis.

20140119-232041.jpgThere has been some daily form of exercise happening. This weekend for example, was given over to hiking as the London2Brighton training has started in earnest again. From now until May I will have to gradually increase my weekend walks until I can happily skip my way across 100km of the South Downs. Given that neither Lynn or I actually enjoy walking, that should make for a few grumpy weekends.

We tried to make the most of the first training hike by booking into our favourite sea-front hotel in Hastings, and spent the first evening plotting what appeared to be, an exciting 11 mile route along the Royal Military Canal. The walk sounded exciting and a touch romantic.

20140120-083231.jpgWe managed a little enthusiasm at the first WWII pill box but very soon descended into a downward facing trudge. The canal was monotonous and it was a cold day, which never helps. The ground was so slippery that it was constant battle to keep your feet from sliding back and losing ground.

I won’t go on with the moaning or you will soon find yourself joining the funk.

20140119-232051.jpgI woke the next day with thighs that carried the pains of at least twice the distance walked. My daily commute has clearly not been preparing me well for sliding across grassy trails with 20kg of excess mud attached to my cleats.

Today was a much brighter day and we celebrated with a more leisurely stroll along the sea front.

A Near Fail

I came very close on the 11th.

It was 11:45pm and I was settling down to watch episode 4 of The Bridge, when Lynn started the Janathon countdown. I told her didn’t matter and I wasn’t doing it anymore but she wasn’t having any of it.

I’m a starter-leaver by nature. I love the thrill of a new project but have very little interest in following anything through to the end.

I married a completer-finisher which can lead to an interesting dynamic, where I tend to have a million and one things on the go and Lynn feels some sort of compulsion to make me finish…. them…. all. I’ll be run ragged by the time I reach my grave.

Anyway, back to last night.

With 15 mins between me, The Bridge and Janathon failure, Lynn had me off the settee and on the carpet performing a sequence of BMF inspired exercises. I did a 57 sec plank, 15 push ups and 10 squats. Unfortunately I can’t provide photographic evidence as I was wearing the same t-shirt as yesterday and can’t have you thinking I’m stinky as well as lazy.

Faff and Exercise

There was considerably more faff than exercise associated with today, the 9th day of Janathon.

There was another long and frustrating day at the accountancy desk split by a particularly frustrating lunch. I had failed to prepare a slow carb pack-up and therefore slowly descended to a near starvation, stressy state because I couldn’t find a low carb snack anywhere.

When I got home the internet welcomed me with broadband speeds below 1MB which took me back to the frustrating days of dial up. I dialled up Virgin to complain and spent the next hour chatting with a nice chap, checking ping speeds, adjusting channels and polishing off a bottle of wine.

When we finished I still had a shit broadband speed, but was £30 better off and felt the comforting complacency of Chardonnay.

Still no exercise though.

20140109-230157.jpgMy trusty spotter persuaded me to dabble with the weights routine and there followed a giggly and wobbly session with excess weights.

It is remarkable that I have yet to paralyse myself with an abrupt bar to neck, shoulder press manoeuvre, or worse yet, split the veneer on the Scandinavian sideboard that sits perilously close to the barbell action.

Another Janathon completed but it breached health and safety regulations and is not to be recommended.

Poor Excuse for a Blog

Well I woke up this morning and completely forgot about the lame leg experience. It must have been psychological.

Work took up far more than its fair share of my life today, so by the time I got back home I had only a tiny modicum of energy for exercise.

I opted for a very sedate 20 mins on the treadmill while my pork chop roasted itself to perfection.

Did I mention that I want a new job?


A Lame Excuse

The 9th is the day that most people abandon their new fitness resolutions and I’m ashamed to say that while we are only on the 7th day, my excuses are already stacking up.

Immediately after yesterday’s run commute I had a strange dead-legging experience. Without any obvious contributing factor, my leg started to behave as though it had received a forceful knee into the side of the thigh assault.

It’s getting worse and I am now hobbling around with ooh oww accompaniments.

So I’m afraid today’s exercise offering was a bit lame and restricted to the upper body.

I performed 6 pull-ups.

Slow Carb Breakfast

I would be quite impressed by that sentence but they were of the stool assisted pull-up variety, so practically a step-up really.

In other news the slow carb diet is going well.

I’m sticking with the plan and have successfully removed sugar and all white carbs from my diet and the post Xmas weight hike is finally reversing.

A Janathon Commute for Day 6

What is with this January weather, it is just not conducive to outdoor activities. This morning I was attempting to gather sufficient enthusiasm to walk to work. I was tucked under the duvet admiring the muddy prints that Hugo was leaving across the beige bedroom carpet and pondering how to get from bed to work without drowning. Motivation escaped me and even the cat’s howls for food were not sufficient to rouse me from my daydreams.

According to yesterdays paper, most of the UK workforce choose today, the first Monday in January, to start looking for a new job. I had to make it in if I was to join the rush and log onto the NHS Jobs portal.

When I finally dragged myself out of bed, I wasted 10 mins turning the house upside down trying to find my harsh weather gear but thats been missing since last years London 2 Brighton attempt and it continued to evade me. So what with the cat and the hidden overtrousers, I was now late for a job I didn’t want to go to and still had no protection from the horizontal rain.

I could only see two choices ahead of me
– Throw a sickie
– Try a run commute

Obviously as a committed, if de-motivated, management accountant, I chose the latter option. Donned my finest mountain marathon gear, shoved work wear into a plastic bag, and opened the door to the worst gale since yesterday.

Photo from Stockport Harriers

And off I pootled, jogging past the miserable folk huddled together hoping for a number 109 to pass with enough room for at least 1 extra passenger. I rather enjoyed myself actually, its always more fun to bound through ankle deep puddles and embrace the mini, lorry-induced, tidal waves that swamp you in road slurry. Its a badge of honour to arrive at your destination dripping and muddy, looking as though you’ve just won a championship cross country race.

Of course if you’ve planned your running commute properly you have a complete change of clobber so you can look like a professional. I am of course a seasoned, if rusty, running commuter so I had remembered everything bar spare socks. I had also forgotten that shirts need to be chosen wisely, starched cotton shirts do not take well to being bounced around in a rucksack, squished up against your lunch box. It came out looking like a grandads hankie and has tarnished my professional image a little.

Still, I am jolly content. Janathon has been done and dusted by 10am and with any luck my running gear will have drip dried in time for the homeward journey.

Fast Exercise for Janathon

I’ve planned a lazy day so my exercise needs to be over and done with quickly today. Time to call on Fast Exercise, which is the term coined by Dr Mosley, of Intermittent Fasting fame, to describe a variety of High Intensity Training routines.

The book is all the rage at the moment but I’m not actually going to call upon it for todays routine, as I’ve mentioned in an earlier review of Fast Exercise, the book is a bit dull and gives very uninspiring HIT sessions.

It offers a grounding in the fundamentals of Interval training and some beginner level routines. The routines themselves are so basic though, that anyone who has ever stepped on a treadmill or read a running magazine will be able to conjure up more imaginative or challenging routines.

Today I will be calling upon the fastest of fast exercises – Tabata training. A session that will come closer to killing me than any other but which requires a mere 2.5 mins of real effort. It’s amazing how gruelling those 2 and a bit minutes can be though.

20140105-185724.jpgThe Tabata routine requires you to put out 20-second intervals of maximal effort interspersed with 10-second rests. You then repeat this cycle between 6 and 8 times for a sweaty 4 minute workout.

This style of 20/10 maximal effort interval training is best suited (but not limited) to cardio exercising such as stationary bike or treadmill. Due to the rapid cycling of all out effort I find that when on a treadmill you need to get used to jumping on off – the speed controls will not react quickly enough for Tabata.

For me that means setting the treadmill to 15kph, hitting the start button on my Tabata timer and then jumping on and off as instructed. A crazy routine but it’s over in 6 minutes including a 2 minute warm up to prepare my body for the shock.

I’ve just completed the session and it seems the warm up wasn’t sufficient to prepare my body – I’ve pulled both hamstrings but I still consider it a success that I wasn’t catapulted from the end of the treadmill.

A Soggy First for Janathon Day 4

The alarm went off at 6.30 this morning so we could get across London for Lynn’s first parkrun. It needn’t have bothered, I’d been laying awake for hours listening to the rain drumming on the velux and the bin lid bouncing around the garden.

If we hadn’t arranged to meet Suzan at Bushy Park I can shamefully confirm that we would have stayed in bed and failed Janathon.


But we had planned a meet up, so at 8.55 we were hovering round the start line trying to get close enough to the bodies in front to afford a little protection from the driving rain. At 9, on the dot, the starting horn sounded and the rain stopped.

We hadn’t spotted Suzan in amongst the 567 starters so Lynn and I set off down the long straight and focused on staying upright for the duration of the course

Lynn was quite interested in our positioning within the crowd, obviously keen not to be last in her first event. It’s best not to worry about these thing in the first heady km, there is much more ebb and flo later in the race as pacing plans begin to unravel. We were however, very close to the back and could survey the slips and slides of the runners ahead of us.


As we started the 2nd km I spotted a rather dishevelled 250 club member hugging a tree. As we got closer I realised it was Suzan, covered head to toe in mud, having come a cropper in the mud fest.

Despite being bruised and bloody she picked up our pace and talked us around the course. I’m not much of a conversationalist when I’m out on a run. My heart rate hovers about 2 beats below my theoretical maximum and that doesn’t leave room for non essential activities like talking, it barely copes with breathing. That left Lynn and Suzan to natter away while I tried not collapse.

With 1k left to run, Suzan started to push Lynn. I didn’t have anything left in reserve but I didn’t want Lynn to finish her first event with enough breath to natter across the finish line. Luckily Suzan, even in her injured state, has a killer competitive attitude. I could see them picking runners off one by one. If the field hadn’t been quite so slippery I’m sure the race for the line would have been worthy of chariots of fire. My final straight was much closer to dancers on ice.

Pyjama Weightlifting

Pyjama weightliftingAs there is a definite pyjama trend for this year’s Janathon, I thought I would complete today’s Starting Strength routine in my Winnie the Pooh PJs.

As I’ve mentioned before, lugging Olympic weights around in confined spaces is a little hazardous, neither aided nor abetted by the wearing of loose baggy evening wear.

In search of lost earringsI require concentrated input from my loyal spotter to prevent being sandwiched between the bar and the parquet flooring. Unfortunately today my loyal spotter was a bit distracted, having just absent-mindedly lobbed her earrings into the open fire. I had to yell repeatedly to catch her attention and will have rather overworked my pecs in an effort to protect my windpipe during the bench press routine.


Day 3 of Janathon complete, looking forward to tomorrow where Lynn runs in her first parkrun event – it threatens to be a lovely soggy day.