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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 Faff and ExerciseMy 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.

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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?

20140108 222102 Poor Excuse for a Blog

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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.

20140108 073815 A Lame Excuse

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.

20140106 110623 A Janathon Commute for Day 6

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.

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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 Fast Exercise for JanathonThe 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.

20140104 232301 A Soggy First for Janathon Day 4

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.

20140104 232311 A Soggy First for Janathon Day 4

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

20140103 215157 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.

20140103 215207 Pyjama WeightliftingI 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.

20140103 215753 Pyjama Weightlifting

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.


British Military Lightweights

Janathon is the beast that continually needs feeding. So despite it being a miserable wet day we felt that a gruelling session of British Military Fitness was in order. We arrived at the designated meeting spot, eager to get down and dirty with the crew.

Despite being two minutes early, it appeared that the BMF team were not there. Either still polishing off the last of the Christmas chocolates or avoiding the deluge.

I was quite sanguine about the wasted trip and quite happy to head back for a night in front of the fire, perhaps with a pyjama plank to show willing but Lynn had other ideas and suggested we brave the weather and take a quick jog around the common.

The observant among you will have noticed the odd use of the word “appeared” in the 2nd paragraph. After all, they either were there or they weren’t.

As it happened, they were.

Screen Shot 2014 01 02 at 21.26.05 British Military LightweightsWe were just coming up to our first complete lap of Tooting Bec Common when I spotted a group of tabard wearing folk sitting in a huddle, doing sit-ups in the rain.

Lynn had forgotten her glasses so was pretty much reliant on me for navigation. As I had long since gone off the idea of doing press ups in the mud and refocused my mind on the pork joint slowly roasting in the oven, I took evasive action. Quick as a flash, I conjured an enormous puddle and suggested to Lynn that we take an unusually sharp left turn to avoid it (and coincidentally the British Military Fitness group).

I started the run thinking that BMF were the lightweights but it turns out that it was me and by association, we, that were the softies. It all counts for Janathon though and I’ve notched up another 4k for the beast.


Janathon Day 1 Running on Fumes

I always kick Janathon off with a post-midnight run. I enjoy the cool night breeze and the fusty haze from thousands of celebratory fireworks and the smug satisfaction as I publish my Day 1 Janathon post before going to bed.

booze Janathon Day 1 Running on Fumes

Last night, as I wobbled away from the party at 3am, barely managing to tie the laces on my Hoka running shoes I was not particularly impressed with my plan. The teenagers were intent on beating me home though and as they’d grabbed themselves a head start I had no option but to run.

It wasn’t my best running performance. I forgot about style and substance and zig zagged up the street in a manner not immediately recognisable as running.

When I spotted the teenagers missing the turn off for a substantial shortcut home, I was imbibed with new vigour and endeavoured to run both faster and straighter. I cut them off only yards from the front door, shoved one of them into our neighbours garden and proudly declared myself the winner as I collapsed on the doorstep to let my brain spin freely.

20140101 180150 Janathon Day 1 Running on Fumes

With the exercise part of Janathon completed, I just needed to blog about my sporting prowess. I posted a couple of preliminary tweets, which required far more concentration than I could muster and one eyed squinting to detect typos. Even when I recognised errors I couldn’t control my finger well enough to correct them. It seemed that this was not a year for blogging before sleeping and I would miss the title of First Janathon Blogger 2014. I think that award goes to NotMuchOfARunner with his Janathon tips post which made it onto twitter at a rather tardy 0:26 hours.


As for the other element of my JanathonExperimentation where I’m supposed to be sticking to the Slow Carb diet of 4 Hour Body fame, I’m afraid I have suffered a slight derailment. I’ve started my slow carb experiment with the cheat day at Day 1. Not quite in the spirit of things but my body has required sustained carb loading to dilute the poisons from last night. My egg and pulse diet starts tomorrow.


12 Weeks to a Sleek Body with The Fat Burn Revolution

Screen Shot 2013 12 31 at 12.56.04 12 Weeks to a Sleek Body with The Fat Burn RevolutionI’ve known Julia Buckley for a few years now, through the running and blogging ether. Earlier this year I decided to join in the second phase of her Fat Burn Revolution pilot scheme.

The original pilot was designed to test a program that she was planning to bring to a wider audience through the publication of a fitness manual – The Fat Burn Revolution. By coming in at the second stage I was working with a tried and tested routine and by the looks of it, it’s the version that made it into the book.

The weight loss / fat loss market is huge and it’s hard to imagine a space for yet another book on the subject. When Julia’s book dropped through the letter box I have to admit to be a little underwhelmed. I was expecting another me-too book with pretty pictures and a smattering of familiar advice.

I have to say I was wrong. The book is very pretty, really well organised and whoever was in charge of the page layout deserves a thumbs up, but the book is so much more than I expected.

20131231 130114 12 Weeks to a Sleek Body with The Fat Burn Revolution

There is real content here. Inspiring, sensible advice from someone who comes across as a truly honest and insightful guide, a guide who encourages you to seize control of your own life by offering you the tools and the permission to be steadfast with your goals.

The tools aren’t just limited to the exercises, you will also find advice for dealing with saboteurs, the way to decline offers that intefere with your goals and how to plan to succeed.

The type of advice that resonates with me:

Always remember that it is totally up to you what you eat. You are an adult and no one can make you eat or drink anything you don’t want to.

and when dealing with potential diet and exercise sabateurs:

don’t invite unhelpful comments from others by intimating that you’d rather be doing anything else……turn it down politely, but not apologetically

As I’ve said, I have known Julia in a distant capacity for some time and having had near daily contact with her for 3 months while doing the fat burn program I can confirm that Julia is genuinely supportive and truly wants you to achieve your health goals.

The exercises and routines are very well described in the book and have full colour photos to accompany the descriptions. Just as with the program I took part in, the Fat Burn Revolution is split into 3 phases which build in intensity (not necessarily duration). There is a combination of high intensity sessions, plyometric routines and weight lifting. The weightlifting section is a refreshing addition to a mainstream fitness program but for anyone who wants to shift lard and/or develop a strong, sleek and fit body it is the secret key.

The Fat Burn Revolution is an ideal program for both beginners and more seasoned sporty types. It will lead you away from a focus on sustained endurance activities to short, sharp bursts and progressive weigh training. The ideas are likely to be new to most people.

I came to the program from years of long distance running which had initially helped me to shift about 6 stone in the early years but had allowed me to stabilise somewhere close to 5 stone above my ideal weight. After 12 weeks on the Fat Burn Revolution I had shifted another stone, much of which was fat, and most importantly I had dramatically improved my appearance and my sense of well being. If you want to see the results of someone who has completed a number of back to back sessions of the Fat Burn program you should check out Becca’s blog at From Snickers to Marathon.

I’m very grateful to Julia and her program for introducing me to the tools that my body responds to. All my programs post The Fat Burn Revolution have included more HIT and strength sessions than endurance ones and this has helped me to maintain my losses and my fitness.

If you are about to embark on this program I strongly advise you take the measurements and most importantly the horrendous before photos, these can be so inspiring to compare with at the end of each phase. Check out Julia’s transformation pages for illustrations of how the pilot groups did.

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