If This is It

We’re over a week into November. How’s it going?

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Been a massively transformative seven days. Running on a gradient has been something of a revelation. It’s helped not only build confidence, but alter training. However, the bigger shift undoubtedly is diet-based. This new regime is not only working, but improving both energy and recovery. How do I know this? Let’s look at the numbers:

  • Monday Blaze Percentage effort: 73%
  • Wednesday Blaze Percentage effort: 78%
  • Thursday Blaze Percentage effort: 79%

I’ve never improved like that before. This is the first week in almost a year that I’ve got stronger as the week has gone on.

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Thursday was notable for a couple of reasons: being the first Anniversary of Blaze at my club, there was a live DJ and a saxophonist. Both made the 45 minutes quite a lot louder than usual: I had to wear earplugs in order to think correctly. However, a decent mix and a lot of people attempting to serially overachieve around me did undoubtedly pick the game up considerably. LOOK AT THESE NUMBERS:

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ALL THAT YELLOW. I don’t normally feel like I’ve done a decent job, but this absolutely was. Those two green bars between all the yellow? End of each round. I didn’t record the exercise before, so have no idea of how well (or otherwise) that went, but it really doesn’t matter. Here is a nice shiny new high water mark. I can work hard, and keep my heart-rate up, and this is the demonstrative result of concerted effort.

I’ve not been this proud about anything in quite some time.

Sing it Back

…ooh look, it’s two days into a new month and I’ve not put my belt on yet. Dun worry, that’ll all change tomorrow. For now, it’s probably time to celebrate last month’s achievement.

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4611 MEP’s to beat… that’s gonna take some work. I could strap on the belt 24/7, I suppose, but that rather defeats the object of the exercise. What’s needed here is CONSISTENCY, which is really quite easy to work on. Keep the rest days, know when it’s appropriate not to push, and ensure that there’s a proper balance between cardio and strength training.

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I always knew today would need to be an enforced rest day, and undoubtedly as we get closer to Christmas there will be other days where it is impossible to fit in the exercise required. If there’s a feeling on Tuesday morning there’s enough energy to catch up on today’s missed work I will, but it’s more likely to be a gimme. 22 days out of 31 with summat is brilliant. 

The aim is 20 days minimum on the calendar for November.

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With the news breaking yesterday that Google’s bought Fitbit, you’ll all soon be able to see my data, all over the interwebs without me needing to do screencaps… ^^ Until the changeover happens, I have plenty of opportunities to work on that 12k a day step total. If I wondered why I was so wiped after Wednesday night this week, I reckon almost 20k including a Blaze with hill incline runs probably had summat to do with it…

That’s tomorrow’s task too, with some heavy lifting thrown in for good measure. Why am I doing all this again…?

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However, I will be very much enjoying not having exercised today, oh yes…

Work That Body

Apologies for absence yesterday, but I’m on a bit of a mission. Now this new desk is set up, and the new machine pretty much established, it is time to get a long-ignored set of issues done and dusted. Over a decade’s worth of detritus needs to be organised, much of it removed. Right now most of that is sitting in the middle of the front room. That’s Saturday afternoon’s task after the Gym. Speaking of which…


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Every exercise session I do with my heart-rate belt gives me a MYZONE Effort Point (MEP) score: August was the low water mark, for obvious reasons. I have another five days of exercise to do, and that should then exceed that monthly exercise total. It has been a really interesting week too, with some quite distinct improvements in both fitness and ability.

Those of you paying attention will know I have a historical hip injury that’s being treated with physiotherapy. In the last week, legs have been pushed a lot, especially on gradients, and the effect that had on my left side, particuarly on Thursday, was significant. In fact, at one point, it was as if that entire side was so hot it could be burning. There wasn’t pain, which is still a surprise… but that sensation was not pleasant.

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The highlight undoubtedly was Thursday.

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It should be noted that there’s not a single red minute in any of this. That’s only seven of yellow effort too… so why is this so good? I wasn’t tired at all: there was constant, sustained effort, and good use of both weights and exercises. I split jumped for the first time, and ran on an eight percent incline for thirty seconds. Thursday was a day of solid, undeniable progress.

I’m also raring to go this morning, once I’ve knocked some chores off and cleared a portion of the pile of stuff to my left. Enthusiasm to work has never been a real issue: problems would arise not being strong enough to do what I wanted to do. That is no longer a problem. The strength is here.

That’s all that is really needed.

Big Time

This week’s been fucking mental, it has.

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The 5 of 7 days with exercise is working out quite nicely: ideally I should break on Tuesday instead of Sunday, which is easily fixed going forward. Thus far, Fitbit has recorded 369 active minutes and we’re only at Saturday lunchtime. Steady momentum, meet consistency. I’ve today also exceeded the MEP totals of September and August: not combined, obviously, but this will put me back on track for real progress.

With 12 days left this month, I’ll end up doing summat for at least nine of them.

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There are a number of key moments to cover: the most important came on Thursday night. That block of eight minutes may not look like much to you, but it represents an important realisation that if I wanna push, it’s there. The key is wanting to do so: eating better is definitely helping. Rest is absolutely vital, and making Tuesday one of my two days will make a huge difference. The biggest shift undoubtedly is psychological.

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The other key change this week is strength, and actual muscle mass. One of my favourite coats is now simply too small to go around my shoulders: arms are being forces to sit back from my chest thanks to improvement in arm definition and bulk. I could do with a couple of leg days as a result, if I’m honest, and Sunday will probably be the right time to go flex the running muscles a bit. I’m back to leg pressing 100kg, which is great.

Lungs continue to be the major sticking point in stamina, and cardio will always be my Kryptonite. It’s not a problem: sometimes, accepting shortcomings is the means by which you are able to become better regardless. I’m not winning any sprints any time soon, but response times are undoubtedly improving. The equation is all wrapped around active recovery, and that’s an ability that is is undoubtedly getting better over time.

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It’s important to note that Thursday and Monday’s sessions (above) were both at 75% effort but the output was a fair bit different. Undoubtedly fatigue will have had a hand in events. Again, rest and common sense need to be considered… but most vitally, I need to think less. This is becoming genuinely enjoyable, not just in single session, but every fucking time I walk in the Gym.

When did I alter? That’s easy: in a hospital bed. Alone, lonely and desperately tired, I found myself being grateful for the fitness already built or else I would never have been let go in three days. There was a quiet and determined promise made, early on a Saturday morning, as a woman lay opposite me, crying her eyes out. As long as I am capable, there will always be exercise, because this not only keeps me sane but helps me cope with the World right now. Without it, I would be broken.

It’s great to be strong. I love being strong. Long may strong continue.

Happy

When I began my exercise journey, there were blog posts about it. In fact, if you go search my archive, you’ll find them. Things were considerably simpler back then, which seems quite bizarre right now to say, considering how much fear was felt. A great deal has changed in that intervening couple of years, not just my attitude towards working hard. The most significant change however is an ability to pull feelings from head to page without their inherent substance altering.

Let us begin this new venture therefore by looking at my year thus far using only the monitoring tools at my disposal.

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The Fitbit on my wrist has been on there for 51 of 52 weeks: there’s a small gap at the end of December when the Christmas present failed and needed replacement. That graph tells you when I was ill this year (March and August) and despite its monitoring shortfalls, is a pretty decent record of how hard I’ve worked. Since switching to a heart monitor, the actual scope of effort’s been far better recorded.

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For a time, this Fitbit became no more than a glorified pedometer. Using a heart rate belt for every piece of organised exercise is great for effort, but doesn’t recognise all the times my belt isn’t on. Therefore the concept of Active Minutes is gaining more prominence, especially on days when I’m not on a treadmill or lifting weights. This week’s benchmark therefore is 316 active minutes in the first four days of work. Once we have a seven day total, that’s going to guide thinking going forward.

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Then, there’s that ever-elusive Red Zone in my exercise classes. I tried on Thursday after Wednesday’s success but didn’t get close: it wasn’t a mental issue. I was just fucked. The best chance that exists to pull red minutes is when a) the workout is geared towards things I can get my heart-rate up for or b) I cheat. Wednesday night, that’s what I did. I just ran for 4 minutes and BOOM there I am.

Going forward therefore, it might be time to reassess some goals.

If weight loss is my key, this is probably the moment to start reassessing what my basal metabolic rate is being fuelled by. I don’t like using MyFitnessPal to keep a calorie goal but if I wanna get the weight to vanish, it might be the moment. All those people who tell me that knowledge is power aren’t having to fight nearly as many internal demons as me either, I’d wager. There’ll still be the occasional slice of cake. I’m not an idiot.

Learning to form good habits is one of the things I’ve been subconsciously doing for months. These are the kind of positive steps that need to be implemented as we head towards Christmas… and that’s why there’s a header for these posts. Once a week, on a Saturday, we’ll go through the week’s exercise and look where we are. Yes, there may even be a Bridget Jones’ style weigh in.

It gives me the chance to talk about other stuff in the week than getting fit.