New Life

There’s been an standing joke running between myself and Mr Alt since I started using Zwift for exercise: I don’t do more than an hour at a time. As soon as the clock ticks over to 01:00:00 I stop and that’s me done. I knew the reasons behind this were sound, and last night science decided to show him with FACTS. My body is nowhere near as strong or capable as his is, and I genuinely struggle with endurance. On what I know about myself I’d expected to last about ninety minutes before legs stopped working. In the end, I made it to one hour and forty minutes before the bottom half of my body gave the finger and simply ceased to function.

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The first hour included pacing, not pushing 100% (as I normally do.) It did not matter one iota that I went up hills, because I’ve been training in fixed gear pretty much 90% of the time and the trainer I used down not automatically adjust when there’s a gradient. Resistance is my concern as a result and was only really used as way to give arse a rest from over an hour sitting down. The problem, on reflection, was that I never had anywhere to recover. Active recovery is a concept my trainer has taught me, the means by which you don’t stop after a burst of intense exercise. Having Mr Alt next to me who just pedalled through everything made me push, far more than was normally the case.

It is probably time I stopped training alone, and (more importantly) I don’t automatically assume that because I had to stop it was a failure.

These stats were a revelation, especially when Mr Alt showed me his for the same ride. He spent the entire ride in Zone 1 and 2, not really breaking a sweat, based on his own FTP (which is clearly considerably higher than mine due to his time cycling.) For me, there was no recovery time at all, hence why I finally had to stop dead. The next step in my journey is to work out how I can take the pain out of longer rides, and increase endurance/stamina. My goal of 110 miles a week is now complete: I’ll consider whether today is a rest day or not a bit later on, once I’ve got my prep work for the next seven days organised.

Once upon a time I would have gotten very nervous about using stats like this to rate my performance. Now I realise that there’s a mental disparity between ability and performance that needs to be both considered and addressed.

Fight the Power

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I’d love to be able to embed my Strava workouts into my blog. Because I don’t own my own server (SO NOT DOING THAT) I pay WordPress to hold my data: they won’t allow me to use <iframe> Widgets, which is the sole means by which Strava reports. Looking at their support pages, requests to change this have been 100% totally ignored. I shoved a Tweet into the ether yesterday night, and part of me is expecting radio silence on that, too. However, it has only been 13 hours, so there will need to be some patience. It took Patreon a week and about a bazillion people getting upset for a problem to even register.

It is easy to forget (as an Activision Blizzard customer) that getting anybody else to sort out your technical issues can be a bit fraught if you’re a sole user several thousand miles away from their technical hub. Customer Service for World of Warcraft is the benchmark I lay at every other tech company’s door, I’ll be honest, and it makes even a short delay in response times seem like an age (and a half.) However, the fact remains that many US companies with whom I have had customer relationships spreading over years really do have a lot to learn about being in a global marketplace. The hassle it took to replace my faulty Fitbit a couple of years back is tip of a HUGE iceberg. To look at how popular Strava is, and then realise just how woeful they are at dealing with certain technical issues is, quite frankly, depressing beyond belief.

I had a problem yesterday with Zwift too, but it transpires a flat battery was the cause. I spent a decade troubleshooting computers before my kids were born and this has stood me in pretty decent stead for dealing with modern frustrations, but even I last night was ready to break stuff having been unable to make the tech work first time. However, I still got my hour of training in, forcing my husband to do the same… and now we’re playing chicken with each other, to see who misses a session first. It makes for more effort on my part, and it’s been great for keeping this sore throat/cough thing at bay that I have. But eventually, there will come a reckoning.

It’s just a real shame I have to keep screen-shotting and cut/pasting my effort into web pages in 2018.

Wake Up

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Once my Fitbit is charged (probably another 30 minutes) I’ll be walking to the Gym for the first time since the 23rd. It’s not like I’ve not exercised between then and now either: I’m on Day Five of what (I hope) will be a long, interrupted run of indoor hourly bike rides.

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Husband last night was kind enough to gift me Strava Premium, which is where all my stats go from Zwift, giving an extremely accurate idea of how much work is going on. I also have the Watt Bike at the Gym reporting to the same device, but it is going to be quite hard to register an hourly session because there’s only three of them available to record data, with January set to be a busy month. Therefore I may yet pick a time of day to do an hour out of my normal routine (say after 8pm) in order to start getting body ready for doing 50 miles in a day.

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I’m on familiar territory for the next few days: Zwift has parts of the Ride London circuit digitised and yesterday evening I did the ‘London Flat’: the run up to this loop, and then three circuits worth of sprints. In Encouraging News I was able to beat the sprint time on each loop, which means that there is energy still left after 60 minutes of my legs going OW (quite a lot.) Once I hit the Gym and do weights (plus I think some running today) there will be a better picture of how I’m faring. I’ve put on two pounds since Christmas but that will soon vanish once I get back into good habits and nobody is shoving fresh sausage rolls in my face.

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I’m going to post this here, and assuming Humanity make it to the end of 2018 unscathed? We’ll do a compare and contrast to see how I’m doing then. For now, I need to be burning off more calories, getting physically stronger, and not letting fear and anxiety get the better of me. The last one will be the hardest, on the results of the last week.

Exercise is no longer frightening or intimidating.

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Number of Days of Continuous Exercise = EIGHT

That was Christmas, then, when I ate what I was given, didn’t log any calories and had a sandwich for Festive lunch. Honestly, this ought to be the norm going forward: very little food was wasted yesterday, everybody was hugely happy and Doctor Who is now female. I’ll watch the Xmas episode again at some point via the iPlayer, but I honestly don’t think there’s been a better seasonal episode/Regeneration handover since Mr Tennant entered the TARDIS.

Last night’s board gaming was definite sea change from previous years too, resulting in a pleasant hangover. It is Boxing Day lunchtime and both kids are still in bed, for instance, and we were the ones getting them up yesterday. However, in what was undoubtedly the best change of all, I did an hour on the bike yesterday afternoon.

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The fact you can cheat, if you desire, by spoofing your bike’s power output is a real source of amusement to me: this isn’t like making a Facebook post where you pretend to go on a run and then don’t. The numbers, in this case, are inescapable proof. I also did more yesterday than I did on Sunday, and what this means is that today’s ride has the potential to feature three sprint sections and not two. If that is the case, the plan will become in the next few weeks to ride it harder and better, with the sprint times being worked on and reduced. I also think I could do this on top of what I have planned for scheduled exercise: it will all depend on how organised I can get myself in the meantime.

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I just ate the last mince pie in the house, and after dinner with my parents tonight I’ll be back on the healthy wagon. Having turned my 6.58 alarm off my Fitbit a couple of minutes ago, there will still be early Gym tomorrow morning.

I think maybe it is time to keep this line drawn in the sand.

Work It :: Week One COMPLETE

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I’ve never lost this amount of weight in one hit before. It was a shock to watch too, that even with the occasional chocolate bar in the mix, this was what my body needed. Six days of consistent, focussed effort has meant that the weight has vanished. I’ve done work on a Watt Bike for the first time, gone back to the Rowing machine (and not performed that badly) and run. Yes, there has been lots of running. I’m going to have to retire my knackered shoes this week, the tread has worn to nothing on both heels.

The key, of course, has been adhering to the calorie goal. It means on certain days I’ve just skipped lunch to be able to have a substantive evening meal. A lot of protein has been consumed, yet the sugar will return today, as I have my husband’s Christmas meal this evening (who eats their festive dinner on a Monday?) but after that I intend to keep up the good fight right up until Christmas Eve. Then, I suspect, there may be a slice of Christmas Cake with my cuppa.

Week One DUNSKI

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I’m not going to weigh myself until Wednesday, so I can get the excess of food today out of my system. The kids finish school on Wednesday, and after that I intend to exercise early, and often. That means I paid my Zwift sub this week and I’ll be back on the bike before I’m scheduled to ride on Christmas Day. There’ll be updates as we go, of course… because I firmly believe there is even more weight to lose…

Today

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Look, I don’t want to jinx this, but this week’s going remarkably well. The whole ‘upping the step count’ thing’s moving amazingly to plan, there’s gonna be two sessions of PT instead of one, and it’s only taken me until Wednesday to sort about 80% of the To Do list. I keep looking over my shoulder, expecting summat rubbish to transpire, but it has as yet failed to materialise. I know what is driving the push to get stuff done, however, the reminder from various quarters this week that we are only visitors to this existence. Each day needs to be lived well, and with a passion.

That is certainly how things are coming to pass this week.

Also, this week I have given my daughter something that, a decade ago, probably wouldn’t have existed. I’ll be chaperoning her and a friend to see Dan and Phil, Internet superstars, on their 2018 World Tour. If the levels of squee in this house yesterday were any indicator, I’m going to need to invest in earplugs for the night. Fortunately, this is taking place at my favourite London venue, the Eventim Apollo, where I’ve seen both Elbow and Kate Bush… at least it’ll be familiar surroundings. Maybe I can watch some videos before I go, so I don’t look like an utter n00b when I get there…

Right, just enough time to get another load of laundry on before I have to walk to the Gym :D

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When I began my journey in the Gym, back in May of 2016, this was the first goal I wrote on my admission form. It is all Daniel Craig’s fault, you know. That scene in Skyfall where they need to physically show 007’s not at 100% and he really looks like he’s struggling with the chin-ups? It always looks so easy when people did it in the Gym, those days before I got serious about exercise. I was right to suppose that this ease hid not only a phenomenal amount of work required but a required physical ability. Both are correct. I’ve spent seventeen months building the muscles in my upper body to a point, late last week, where it was possible to hold my arms at a right angle (at the elbow) on the Roman chair and then let my body back down to straight arms.

That was the reverse pull up, or what I’m told is known as a NEGATIVE.

Yesterday, therefore, my trainer suggested that if I was capable of doing the ‘down’ bit of the pull-up, then going up might not be unreasonable. The problem, however, is the strength required to do an entire movement is considerable. It is a world away from what my brain concieves as doable, but there was undoubtedly one complete movement yesterday, up and down. One Pull Up. Seventeen months to get to this stage. Patience has never been an issue in this entire journey. That was learnt with push-ups. My trainer, right at the beginning, suggested the first stage of competence was to learn how to lift my body off the floor. It would build strength in my arms that didn’t exist, and show her if it was capable for me to create the muscle needed to do the next stage.

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This was the Summer we went to New York. Every night we were away I spent 30 minutes after the day’s sightseeing staring at the wooden floor of our apartment. I never once ended up falling on my face, but it was close. 36 press ups were painful, wobbly and continually frustrating. My form was dreadful, I realise now, but I kept going. When I returned from my break to my first PT, my trainer looked at me with almost disbelief and I asked why. She knew I’d done the work, could see it already. That was the moment when she tells me it became apparent that if I wanted something badly enough, I’d put in the work to get it.

It really has taken this long to get here because this is the point where my body is ready. May’s gallbladder hiccup put progress back a bit, but not enough. It was, on reflection, the repair of my umbilical hernia that has been the real key to unlocking core strength and combining that with my upper body. Now everything works together, as should be the case, I find myself just stronger. It manifests in ways I didn’t expect, either, and after what was a pretty intense workout yesterday (clean and press, new core exercises plus the pull up practice) I’ve woken up feeling… well, brilliant.

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This is, I suppose, the first part of a process of continual self-development that will never end. Most people will consider an achievement a goal as being the point of their travails: I’m not that person. That could have been me, a few years ago, but not anymore. What matters more right now is finding goals that are achievable at my speed, at my pace and not to stop. I don’t need everything to happen tomorrow. Knowing that things like this are achievable has become enough.

This is the journey into a brighter Universe.