A Forest

Yesterday’s PT was pyramid sets, and BOY can I feel it this morning: legs, arms and back are all in a state of high dudgeon. Also, as a compliment I pushed 29 minutes of cardio out of a body which, quite frankly, did not want to know. Every day this month that is the plan: something. The upper and middle part of the body is getting a lot of love, but my legs tend to miss out, so that’s where Zwift comes in. Having a training machine in the shed and not using it is no longer acceptable.

It is time to start doing the miles again.

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I wish I could have my long hair in a ponytail, but apart from that I’m pretty pleased with my virtual avatar at present. Zwift’s just introduced a virtual shop, which is chock full of exactly zero items I find of any interest. I’m not even that bothered about a particularly fast bike either, if truth be told. This isn’t about showing off a special kit to prove I did this thing or that race. Now, all that matters is somewhere I can train at my own pace, without people telling me it’s not enough.

That right now is probably the most important thing of all: safe spaces. When I get Ride On’s from people I’m going to bet a fair bit of cash that’s got absolutely nothing to do with my actual ability or attainment, and everything to do with the picture I chose to use on my profile. The entire process of encouragement online is flawed. A generic avatar grants me no interest at all, but change that to something obviously female and suddenly, I’m popular. The biggest joke of all is that I’m too busy trying to keep up HR and RPM to have the ability to Ride On anybody else.

I wonder if the designers realise this is the biggest shortcoming with their system.

Ultimately, the ‘social media’ aspects of sports is irrelevant. I’m not looking to be part of someone else’s idea of attainment, and never have, what matters most is ploughing my own, extremely distinct furrow. However, the whole esports thing with Zwift looks very interesting indeed, and might yet become the means by which I get interested in the genre. That’s a bit of a surprise I’m still adjusting to, if truth be told.

Whatever happens, I will be in Zwift every day this month. When we’re done, it will be interesting to judge my level of fitness as a result.

A Whiter Shade of Pale

It’s good to know that intellectual exercise has borne fruit. I was in the Gym for a secondary, unscheduled Saturday PT. I pay for this using a voucher system, so when my trainer goes away, the vouchers pile up. The hour was, it has to be said, some of the hardest stuff I have done for some time. Kettle bell work, clean and press, hanging: it’s been many months since my arms and core ached as much as they did after the session.

Then, last night, it was time to crack the hour mark on the bike.

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Cycling is a different beast to anything else exercise-related I have ever undertaken. It asks a phenomenal amount of you in terms of stamina and consistency. Neither of these things are particularly my strengths. I could not honestly say there was any real stress last night either, just a phenomenal amount of pain. This was not OW OW OW SOMETHING IS WRONG pain but nope, there’s just no energy here, I need to stop now and have a cuppa and cycling is ridiculous and nope there are better things to do pain.

My legs were effectively useless: the low level discomfort after 15 minutes was tolerable, after 30 minutes annoying and after an hour… BOY. Think of the most irritating thing anybody could do to you and that happens every time you push down the pedals, and so I zoned out. However, without these sessions, you do absolutely never move past anything than just casual attainment. It’s the perfect storm of brain and body telling you there’s no point to anything.

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62% when placed alongside the 80% Blaze output is an interesting comparative benchmark. The former, for starters, is absolutely not a full body workout. More significantly, there are no rest periods. Here’s where my exercise shortcomings come into stark focus as a result: stamina is still very much lacking. To build that, you really do have to put in the miles, which means every session is not necessarily about massive numbers, but just doing the work. I’d forgotten that along the way. 

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The depressing number is the 94W (effectively how hard your legs are working), because this time last year I was running considerably higher that that. However this is not a disaster, just a starting point. My husband also reassures me that the bike I’ve chosen in Zwift is far too heavy and not doing me any favours at all (and I’m sure he knows that this is important) so after I’ve finished typing this, it’ll be time to log into the app and alter my setup. However, there will be no riding, or weights today.

This is most definitely a rest day.

Won’t Get Fooled Again

Ah, Blaze class, we meet again.

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This is an important set of numbers, for several reasons. That’s 7 bpm slower on max HR than I was on Tuesday, yet I was flat out last night. That means one of two things: the red zone is largely unattainable for me, or my belt’s not calibrated correctly. It is more likely to be the latter, on reflection: last night, of sixteen people recording with me, I was the only one not able to hit red. I mustn’t get stressed about it, but last night did. That’s the goal for tonight: just work. Work and don’t look at the output.

This World of Data has its shortcomings.

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Last month’s effort calender’s a drop from January’s: I managed 20 days in the Blue zone or above… except that’s a lie. Many of my Grey tile days would have been Blue had I remembered to take off the belt when it wasn’t recording the right kind of exercise. Is that even possible: how can any exercise not be good? In this case, it’s about hitting the optimum heart-rate thresholds: therefore, I’m far better off not recording to and from the Gym when walking (grey zones only) because suddenly, that exercise is restricting my totals…

…and that’s when you realise you’re ‘gaming’ your fitness in the exact same fashion as you’ve done with online entertainment for four decades, and it is time to stop and think. It’s a great way to get people who’ve not thought about exercise like this before but for someone whose not only done obsession but addiction, the warning bells ran pretty loud last night. I don’t need to get obsessed with output, it has to be a constant, measured means by which I push beyond the numbers.

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Ideally, this is the aim: this day in January remains the only one where I consistently stuck in the Green zone (one up from blue) and this came from non-stop, controlled exercise. Cycling is the key to understanding how consistency can be transferred to my running, and we’re already well on the way to having that organised. That will mean tonight seeing if I can summon the energy to work harder in warm-up AND class, to push Blue into Green for the first time this month.

If I don’t let the numbers dictate my action, things tend to work out pretty well all round.

I’m Only Sleeping

Day 2: Welcome to the Age of Saying What I Really Wanted to Say. Today’s nugget of interest? I don’t like having my midriff uncovered. It makes me feel physically uncomfortable at present: is this a deep-seated issue or is it just too fucking cold to be wearing anything than about 35 layers? Leave that one with me.

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Blaze was… well, HARD. 2 minutes in the red zone (according to my MyZone Heart rate belt) was enough to make me physically sick. Also, FUN FACT, you wanna see what an anxiety attack looks like from my heart’s perspective? Here you go:

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With the benefit of over two hours of deep sleep and a lovely long chat with my Physio I am much better mentally. Physically however, I am exhausted. There needs to be lots of tea and quite possibly a very large sandwich because really, truthfully, this needs to be more fun than it is right now and last night was not fun.

Weigh In:
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Next up on the list of priorities is edit the novel that I want to enter for various things. It’s in a corner and won’t come out right now, which is going to require some work from me that, probably up until yesterday I wasn’t capable of doing. Then, it is probably an idea to sit down with all the other half-finished pieces of work and set up some kind of priority order with them.

There’s a phenomenal amount of work to do on some: is it worth it? Should I be brutal and start from scratch? It will be considerably easier going forward to ignore a lot of old content, but some of it will have value. I’m going to need to learn how to edit again: simple enough, but brutality is not one of my strong points. It will help that this weekend I’m away and that my brain doesn’t have to think about anything important or stressful.

Yes, I really am very tired.

This is It

I walked to the Gym this morning for the first time in a while: pavements were slippery and required some thought, sky was the Winter Blue of post-storm optimism, and my hip and back were not happy. However, after an hour of exercise, and some heavy weights, things have definitely improved. It has taken a few days to grasp the transformation that has taken place since August: it is also apparent that to make the next step forward, it will be diet that has to change.

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On considered research, I’m going to replace lunch every day with a Huel shake. This will continue to provide a protein hit, but reduce my normal food intake (hopefully) enough to kick-start the fat burning processes. This also appeases that part of me which knows only too well that to save the planet I need to be eating less meat and more plants. I’ve enough cash left after Christmas to afford 4 week’s supply, which means January’s food intake is sorted.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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It was genuinely scary getting on the scales on Friday. I’ll do it again after Christmas, but not before. Food logging’s about to get very serious indeed, because to lose what needs to vanish, there’s gotta be a whole lotta hard work. I’m ready for all this.

This has become the most unexpected of transformations.

Down Down

Weight, inexorably, is falling. Undoubtedly the second Blaze class will help, with understanding that if this weight is going to be shifted, I will have to sweat like something that sweats a very great deal to do so. As a result of yesterday however, this is becoming increasingly less of a problem.

The classes have become a complement to the normal weights and running, which means now that a) this is using my membership to its natural limit and b) it provides individually-led exercise three times a week. I’ve not cycled for nearly a fortnight at home, however, and that will end up being added to the schedule properly over Christmas. The plan, such as it is right now, is to keep stuff ticking over as much as possible across a range of activities.

If that keeps happening, presumably thinner will then occur in due course.

It’s bloody hard work, that much is obvious. However, there’s method in all of this madness.

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The whole point of Blaze, like it or not, is to shove you up to the Red Zone in terms of heart-rate. Zwift Running conveniently provides me with zonal indicators too: to be burning fat, the more time spent in green and yellow the better, where orange and red allow that fat burn to take place after I’ve stopped exercising. Therefore, anything in green and above = progress. After Zwift tomorrow we’ll take a look at the numbers, and weight on the Gym’s bio-metric scale will be taken on Friday.

YES, THIS IS HAPPENING.

Running on Ice

Okay then, time to be honest.

We are reaching a crossroads in the training regime. I used to kid myself I’d go and ‘run’ at the Gym, but actually it was all HIIT work, no more than 500 meters at a time. Then Blaze came along and suddenly I was forced to run for 3 minutes at a time without a break. That forced a rethink. So now, I try and run a KM at a time, with a break. This is proving quite hard.

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The red line there is my heart-rate, which sat steadfastly in the amber zone when flat out and does not appear to be capable of hitting red which is absolutely fine because honestly, I would have hurled. That, today was 1km on, 1km off, and me getting to 800 meters before my lungs pretty much told me to fuck off. I’m not sure how this gets broken, to be honest, other than exhaustion, recovery and then the same again. Building stamina is hateful. Yet, undoubtedly, something has begun to change.

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I’ve booked a second Blaze class. Not gonna lie, it is because the teacher made me feel really comfortable, and there’s a definite positive to having someone else teach me other than my PT. My membership supports this so frankly, it’s time to get my money’s worth. If it all works out next week, I’ll reorganise January’s exercise around the change. What needs to happen is more pushing, and less slacking, though considering the number of hours I now do, maybe a bit of slacking can go on over Christmas without getting too stressed.

We’ll have an overview at the end of December, i think.