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.

The Road to Tipperary

20130118-121940.jpgFinding myself unexpectedly in the City of Londinium, I very nearly allowed an impromptu tour of the local Porter houses to scupper my Janathon attempts.

It started with an extremely fine pint of Guinness in The Tipperary.

I always think of Guinness as a horribly bitter drink requiring at least one shot of blackcurrant to make it palatable. This glass was a delight of creamy smoothness and if hunger wasn’t spurring me on I’d have had another and another.

We moved off in search of a Chop House but instead fell into the Longroom at Smithfield Market where we sampled porters and salt beef.

I was attracted to the Espresso stout but it was truly disgusting – think of used coffee grinds steeped in cold water. It became, what I think is, the first unfinished pint of stout.

20130118-122418.jpgI followed it closely with a half of Black Isle Porter which proved to be a treat of creamy beeriness. It’s a potential winner in my month of stouts.

By the time I got home I was ready to fall into bed but the guilt of Janathon played on my mind. In the end I pressed play on Day 2 of Insanity and ended the evening on my hands an knees in a sweaty heap of pain.

The cat maintained his dignity throughout the 40 minute ordeal. He watched me through squinted eyes and maintained the illusion of sleep despite being bounced up and down by the heffalump attempting power squat jumps.

I made very good use of my Give Me Tap water bottle that I’d been sent to review. The concept is simple. Buy a bottle, fill it with tap water, repeat. An ever increasing number of shops and cafes are coming onboard and offering free refills so you should never be far from free water. There is a charitable element to the scheme with half the proceeds from the bottle sales going to fund water schemes in the third world. Apparently 2 bottle purchases can provide one person with water for life.


Accidents are Inevitable


I can’t write a great deal as I appear to have wrenched my arm out of its socket.

It may have something to do with my latest fad.

It’s a recycled fad which previously dislocated multiple vertebrae so I count today’s Janathon exercise as an improvement.

The stout was a success but you surely can’t go wrong with a Guinness even if its the export variety. It was sort of sweet with a long bitter after taste and something else, something quite out of place. When I got half way through the bottle it clicked, it was either Ruby Port or Sherry.

Very nice though, I approve.


Sickness and Recovery

I’ve been ill for a couple of days now so you could call today’s Janathon offering either heroic or lame, depending on your sympathy levels.

I’ve been drawn to a video by kinetic revolution showing standing jumps as an ideal exercise for improving knee alignment an reducing patellar femoral pain.

20130108-211517.jpgIt’s basically the standing block jump that you see the more athletic competitors from the Bigger Loser partaking in.

I am embarrassingly pants at jumping. I have been known to stand in front of a low bench at the gym for a good 5 mins, psyching myself up for a plyometric leap. Even then I usually wimp out with a one legged hop or worse bail completely because someone walks by.

Today I’ve been practising in the privacy of my own home. Leaping with a perfect double legged formation onto a cushion.

Yes I have leapt approximately 2 inches high……but the form was perfect.

I progressed to the bottom step of the stairs and managed two leaps before the bookcase wobbled so ferociously that I had to stop to steady it.

After all that exertion I moved on to some medicinal stout. Starting with a bittersweet Irish Stout but moving rather rapidly on to a St Peter’s Cream Stout as the malty brew seemed to improve my constitution.

I’m a fan of the Cream Stout, it has a fairly ropey smell but the texture is truly creamy and the flavour, although odd – I’m thinking syrup of figs, is entirely delightful.


In Need of a Bath

A friend commented on my blogging the other day and said that while she was completely fascinated by my route maps and device obsession, what she really wanted to know was what I think about when I run.

I think she was being polite and was really asking, “Why do you do this running thing? and when will you stop filling my newsfeed with such drivel”.


I’ve spent a good portion of my recent runs trying to think about what I’m thinking about, which is always a fairly futile task involving much tail chasing.

I was pretty convinced that I was always focussed “on the now”, consumed by the elements but always fully in the present. Having done a few test runs I’m not so sure at all. It strikes me that I go all over the place.

I compose stuff, mostly blog posts…… the most marvellous blog posts that you never get to read as I can never remember them by the time I’ve finished. I plan stuff and commit myself to wild and wacky schemes that if I’m lucky will also be forgotten by the time I finish. It’s a really creative time actually. Today I was planning a book that I fancy writing, I was dreaming of the software required for the task and even prepared a few quotes to kick me off.

While I seem to be creative and inspired (if a little forgetful), it is clear that I’m also a bit thick. There must be a left-brain, right-brain divert when I run because I cannot perform even the most simple task of mathematic reasoning. I think my logic centre gets starved of blood from the moment I press start on the Garmin. I test myself regularly with simple pace queries:

if I maintain an average 10 minute per kilometre for 100 km, how long would it take me to complete the London2Brighton challenge.

I just can’t do it. I can’t compute and run.

It does appear that I am almost always future focussed and positive when thinking and running, except of course when I get lost, which happens often. Then I get rather grouchy and miserable. The last time I got lost was in Wimbledon Common – it almost always is in Wimbledon Common. I was doing my thinking about thinking thing and was suddenly thrown in to the here and now as a rather unexpected Windmill came into sight and I realised I wan’t where I expected myself to be. Dark clouds assembled but then I spotted the car and it dawned on me that I’d arrived back at the start point a good 3k ahead of schedule and quite fortuitously there was a cafe right in front of me. I accepted the gift of silver linings and stopped off for a latte.

Coincidentally I just read a section from Tim Noake’s bible: The Lore of Running, discussing the different thought patterns of runners and walkers:

…..I learn how different the worlds of the runner and walker are. Compatible as we are, when we walk, we frequent two different worlds. When I run my mind is elsewhere, full of everything but that which I am doing at the moment. Perhaps I am vainly trying to understand humanity, or writing this book, or planning some new experiment that will finally explain all of exercise physiology. Only occasionally does my environment impinge on my activity – usually when I need a rest.

I was in the run/walk section of The Lore of Running as I’m sure the only way I’ll get round my 100k challenge is to mix in the two. I’ve therefore been dabbling on my training runs with different ratios of run/walk intervals. Today I was out for my long-ish run around the Thames and opted for a 3min run followed by 1min walk break. It’s pretty relentless but I was comfortable throughout, finished 15 mins ahead of my previous time, which I recall was a horror of a run, but nevertheless I was faster this time.

It was a drab ole day today but perfect conditions for a cool run around the river. I extended it beyond the planned route as I was feeling so spritely and finally racked up 13k for Day 6 of Janathon.

A few hours later and I am now feeling shattered after my efforts and all I want to do is to crawl into a lovely hot bath. The challenge is not yet over though and so the closest I will get to that for a while is an an equally warming bottle of Bath Ales Dark Side Stout.

I was initially disappointed by the Dark Side, it seemed a bit thin, with a weak aroma and a correspondingly bland flavour. A little dusty malt coming through and a poor head. In the end I came to appreciate its smoothness as it was so different from the rest of the stouts. I did a little research on the difference between Stout and Porter and it seems the historical difference is mainly related to strength with stout meaning strong but nowadays it seems to be down to the brewers choice when naming. Historically this one would have been a Porter but Bath Ales have gone to great lengths to adopt the stout nomenclature suggesting the smoothness of flavour is “a hallmark of exquisite stouts”.


Porterhouse Rules

I may have cheated a little by choosing to imbibe the alcohol before I actually earned it but it just ensured that the treadmill running was even more of a challenge.

I’m worried this stout tasting might get a bit monotonous. Every sniff thus far has brought chocolate and coffee grinds to mind, offset with a little ash. Perhaps you get that with all stouts.

Anyway, I seem to have found one without half a sack of sugar in it. This Old Fashioned Porter from St Peters brewery is almost astringent. Mind you it softens after a few sips. I like that about a proper beer – you have to work at the enjoyment.


Not unlike the treadmill actually. I sulked and procrastinated for hours and only clambered on board the treadmill when the rest of the house had retired to bed and the clock was ticking so fast that I almost missed the Day 3 deadline. At least it is done now.

A 3k offering.

A Family Janathon

I’m a traditionalist, and for the past few years that has meant a midnight run to kick off Janathon.

Family JanathonThis year my powers of persuasion have improved quite considerably and I managed to encourage Lynn and the kids to join me, in fact this year they practically had to carry me.

The hangover was bad this year and it kicked in just as I bent over to lace up my shoes. The pulsing head joined in as I opened the front door. It was not a good time for running. The fireworks were impressive though and we jogged around the streets with burned out shells dropping around our ankles.

I need my bed now but am grateful that I have now secured myself close to 48hrs of Janathon respite.


Stout-athlon: Janathon’s Darker Side

Inspired by Lengthorn and his ale a-day Decembeer challenge, I have decided that Janathon needs a less healthy counterpart and have now committed to a combined Janathon and Stout-athlon. So this January I will be exercising in order to offset a single bottle of new stout each day.

It has taken some planning and to date I have acquired 11 different varieties of Stout and Porter – only 20 more to source.


Pinning my Hopes on Janathon

JanathonLike many other running bloggers out there, I’m holding out for Janathon. It’s excusing my Quality Street excesses and tempering the pain of each incremental ounce appearing on the tanita speak the truth scales.

Janathon is a shiny health beacon in a desert of flab an lethargy.

Some time back in a moment of resolve, I was going to shed 3 stone and reach all new PB heights. The new slimline speedy me was up for all sorts of challenges such as the hilly Hastings half and the mountainous Keswick Challenge. I was going to whup ass. Unfortunately my ass just grew wobblier and wobblier.

All is not yet lost but Janathon really does have its work cut out this year if I’m to be a finely honed athlete by early spring.

Thanks to fortnightflo for reminding me of the light at the end of the tunnel.

The Crushing Pain of Defeat

All mouth and no trouser….

20120110-001044.jpgDespite wailing, breath holding and more wailing, the all-over body shudder had me collapse in a vainglorious heap after today’s #plankaday attempt. A mere 48 secs to Jogblog’s 62.


I headed to the rower with the bitter taste of defeat in my mouth.

20120110-001916.jpgLife didn’t get an awful lot better here. I felt like I had a tight band around my chest, crushing me while I rowed. I stopped to stretch and then decided to ignore my impending coronary in order to crack on with the task at hand.

6500 metres later I disembarked or whatever you do with rowers, and discovered that the tight band was actually my heart rate strap that I’d tightened for one of the skinny teenagers we have knocking around the house.