Freshness Big Year: How I learned to not hate gym quite as much

Some folks actually enjoy going to the gym. I know this because at Visions Fitness Centre, the wonderful place I walk to, happy faces are perennially smiling. Me, I’ve never been able to bring a grin to my face on a gym day. Yes, I always felt satisfied after each session (a large part of which is the geek’s academic understanding of how low-weight-bearing gym routines dramatically improve the health and prospects of us older folks), but getting me to Visions involves plenty of grimacing.

Well, a side benefit of having a leg injured enough to ground me from jogging is that I’ve suddenly transformed into one of those looneys with maniacal smiles while they pump iron. When gym is your only time wrestled away from pen and desk, it suddenly feels sweet. Did I catch myself whistling yesterday on the way to Visions?

Freshness Big Year: New goals

The details are boring but at last, after a few weeks of uncertainty, I can plan anew:

I’ll only jog 1,000 kms this year, quite a bit lower than my original target (which itself was the same as 2017’s achievement but far below 2016’s 1,700 kms). I’ll ratchet up distances slowly to spare myself a gluteal muscle relapse. I’m happy with this: at least I’ll be back running round my streets three times a week.

I’ll still aim to hit 2,000 kms on the bike. Not easy but not hard either.

I’ll only aim to hit the gym 75 times (down from 100 last year), which amounts to maybe twice a week, the bare minimum frequency to have a positive impact.

A wondrous blanket of peace descends onto me . . .

Are you as light as you should be?

How can you know? Ask ten people how much you ought to weigh and you get ten disparate answers. BMI is, in my opinion, more suitable for the more athletic, and nigh useless for many of us.

Ever the geek, I have six years of daily weight data, which I’ve averaged over months and plotted. You can see I got my myself down from 81+ kgs to a late-age low of 75, had a rough patch, and then for two years in 2016 and 2017, I consistently came in at 76 to 78 kgs. These two years, not coincidentally, were my first two Big Years (daily exercise helps stabilise weight, not news, right?) But then our Italian trip earlier this year took me to 78 kgs and it’s climbed to a recent high of 81 kgs and rising.

Has cycling put on some muscle mass, as a couple of people have suggested? Not 4 kgs’ worth!

Not being able to jog gives me a chance to crack open the 5:2 diet, which reliably shifts weight downwards at least half a kilogram a week, no matter how much you eat on the five non-fasting days. Results? Excellent so far, now solidly under 80 kgs, and I’m looking at 79 kgs at the end of next week. I’m aiming for 77 to 78 kgs and predict a wonderful boost to my running as a result.

100 days to go!

Urgency grips the geek. 100 days! Can he do it? So what if he does?

I’ve reassessed progress and prospects. The picture over the four Big Years isn’t pretty but each has lifted me for the better. Over the next week or so, I’ll reshape the four pushes towards December 31. Call me excited!

Freshness Big Year: Walking not jogging

Does that look like a jogger’s shadow? Of course not: a seemingly quite serious gluteal injury (I had thought it was the right quadricep but that was referred pain) has largely benched me during all of September. The setback threw me off my entire Big Year, for the very good reason that I’d already concluded I couldn’t miss many days at all to hit my targets. Since then, confusion has reigned.

But the situation isn’t a dire as my stunned response indicated. A fortnight ago the physio set me some tough daily gluteal strengthening and balancing exercises, which seem to have paid off. I walked-plus-ran the trivial distance of 2 kms last Saturday and, on Thursday, did the same without stopping. Yesterday I was given the all clear by the physio to ramp up to 5 kms next week, and then, oh so carefully, back to 10 kms in the coming weeks. At last I can begin to reconfigure the Big Year. More on that tomorrow . . .

2018: Scrabbling back onto the rails

In my experience it doesn’t take much to unscramble one’s determination. Over the last week I’ve been plumbing the dizzy heights and mired depths of self publishing (Deadly Investment, my first crime novel, approaches!). Commissioning professionals to assemble the book’s bits and pieces, trying to think in sales mode, planning detailed steps, all the while struggling with a leg injury . . .  I lapsed. I was laboring hard but all my Big Years momentarily faltered. I got up early but wasn’t drafting my big book (1,000 Big Year). Some hiking, biking, and gym kept me from ossifying but my exercise targets slumped (Freshness Big Year). I even missed a couple of Headspace days (Stillness Big Year). I did keep up the Tractor Big Year research into publishing (in fact that’s all I did). I drank wine and ate chocolate.

Yesterday the usual “why falter” gloom set in but today I’m reassembling my life. Back on track soon . . .

Injury unplugs me . . . need to plug in again

I jogged a couple of days ago, not 10 kms as per my Freshness Big Year, not 5 kms as has been a frequent last-resort action, but only 2 kms. And it didn’t work. My right quad muscle is messed up and it’s time to see the physio. In the meantime all my exercise goals are moot and need to be sensibly revised. My other Big Years also flounder, I’m not sure why.

So, with a quarter of 2018 remaining, let me reorient and recommit.

Freshness Big Year: New gear cheers me up

I should be so lucky. An unexpected but brilliant birthday gift was my first ever running watch, a Garmin Forerunner 35. I’ve only tested it once, on the run that stressed out my quad muscle, and I’m far from mastering it, but it seems a most welcome step up from carrying an iPhone (plus Ziploc bag plus little towel as rain insurance). Strava on the iPhone used to talk to me every kilometer, which I enjoyed, whereas the Forerunner just buzzes on my wrist, but at least I’m no longer straining to hear my Strava companion over traffic noise.

Now to figure out how to use the new heartrate data . . .

Freshness Big Year: Running shoes take a break

I’d begun to imagine I was bullet proof. After months of feeling undercooked, my jogging last week was regular and improving. Sturdy legs were my undying allies. Or so I thought until I stopped halfway up a hill to walk-then-run-then-walk and noticed a quad muscle twinge and kept part running (I had a Big Year goal to upkeep!) and experienced the shock of gripping pain and kept part running (goal!) and limped the final hundred metres. That was four days ago and I suspect I’ll be grounded for a few more days.

Icing . . . stretching . . . using a roller . . . dreading the eventual reassessment of my Big Year possibilities . . . so it goes.