Monday 29 September 2008

Excellent progress being made in training!

I'm now 4 weeks into the training schedule for USA 2011 and I genuinely feel that things could not have gone any better so far.  Things are going so well on all fronts!  Have I made my point yet?  

Firstly and most importantly, I'm managing to get all of the required running, gym work and gym classes in.   My routine has really settled down and even if it means not getting in until 19:30 most nights at least I make it in time for story time!  This also means that every minute I'm not training is so very precious and spending quality time with Katy and Jack is of the upmost importance.  

For instance, I was ever so proud when Jack (pictured) and I went for a run on Saturday morning.  We managed 1 and 3/4 miles on the Derwent Walk.  That's not bad at all for a 5 year old and after he'd played tennis for 45 minutes.  Hopefully, we'll be able to repeat that distance this coming Saturday.  

Anyhow, I digress!  Being motivated enough to get out and run has never been a problem.  I usually have some good running company and recently, colleague and fellow season ticket holder, Carl Hudson has been dragging me round (not literally!) various routes on a lunchtime.  His company was especially valued in week 1 and 2 when my speed wasn't at it's best but he stuck with me and 4 weeks later I have started running at a respectable (for me!) pace again.  

Likewise, gym classes have always been enjoyable and again I've never had a problem getting the motivation to do a spinning class or boxercise and now I've started to do Body Pump.  The instructors at the Northern Rock gym are top class and always seem to be able to push me to my limit.

The problem I have had in the past though was attending the gym proper.  It's not been unusual for me to do 5 or 6 classes a week but trying to get into the gym has been a real issue.  Thankfully, David and Mark have helped out on this front with some advice and a schedule and getting in the gym is now something I look forward to.   In fact, I'm looking forward to a session in David's gym with Mark this Thursday.  I've got a feeling that one is going to be tough but I hope they are going to be able to see the progress made since I last had an assessment 4 weeks ago.

Put it all together and I've got plenty of training options.  I'm not likely to get bored!  I've never been so determined to train as hard and as long for anything in my life.  And that includes last year's run from John O'Groats to Lands End.  There is something quite different about this run.  I think it may be the fact that I know the size and scale of what lies ahead (and it's not my stomach for a change!).  I know how great the potential rewards are for completing this one.  The ultimate reward will be handing over sizable cheques to St Benedict's Hospice and The Children's Foundation.

I'm going off on a tangent here but stick with it.  I'll get back on track in a minute.  Already, I can tell that the interest in the event, even at this early stage, is starting to grow and gain momentum.  Appearing on the front page and page 3 of the Journal last week was fantastic.   Also, I was at a bit of a do last Thursday.  A lot of people there, knew who I was and what I was planning to do and some had seen the Journal article.  I was a little bit embarrassed at times with the praise that was sent my way.   No really I was!

Anyway never mind that!  Without going into too much detail, that Do, by the way, was one of the most amazing nights I've ever had.  To say that I was inspired by the people who were at the centre of the night is an absolute understatement.  It was a privilege to be there and I've had a spring in my step ever since.

Where was I?  Ah yes.  The training is going well!   Did I mention the fact that training is going well?   That's only half the story.  The other bit to all this is my diet.  And not just my diet but my changed attitude towards food in general.  I'm now into the 3rd week of healthy eating.  As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, David and Mark provided the inspiration and ideas for a structured eating plan and Katy has prepared and cooked most of it.  

Today was a textbook day in terms of eating and having enough energy to do the required amount of exercise.  I started off with the usual porridge and raisins.  Lunchtime saw me run 5 miles in 00:46:05.  I felt strong throughout and brilliant at the end.  In fact, I probably had a quicker run in me but I'm happy with that time.  I followed that run up with a baked potato and beans.  That was enough energy to be able to do 50 minutes in the gym followed by a tough spinning class.  I rounded off the day with roast chicken and vegetables followed by meringue and fruit.  Not a chocolate bar or bag of crisps in sight.  Nor the usual cravings for them either!

Well I hope you'll agree that things have started off on a really good foot.  I've just got to keep on keeping on, as they say.  Long may it continue.

Sunday 28 September 2008

The final total for 2008

Good news this week as the Northern Rock Foundation have rubber stamped the final application for matching in respect of this year's Pennine Challenge cycle ride and run.  This leaves the final total for the event at an impressive £2601.

This year's team was made up of  cyclists Michael Dunn, Ian Glasgow and Jim Patterson and runners Steven Moore (pictured left), Jonathan Dixon (pictured right), Mark Cass, Carlton Fletcher and cycling and running was yours truly, Mark Allison.

And of course, none of this would have been possible without the roadside support team of Mandy Baker, John Brettell and Katy Allison.

There is already talk in the office of putting on the event again next year.  Watch this space!

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Sleeping in a tent at the side of the road! You are lucky, all I had was.......

I'd just like to put one rumour straight that's doing the rounds on Tyneside tonight!  I will not be sleeping in a tent on the roadside in order to save money to fund the USA 2011 tour!   I am of course referring to the otherwise rather brilliant article in today's Journal newspaper.  It can be read online here.

The article explains "Sleeping by roadside to save money - Mark Allison aims to raise £50,000 for St Benedict’s Hospice and the Children’s Foundation but will fund the trip from his own pocket and save all he can along the way.  That means sleeping in tents on the roadside and pocketing petrol money before he leaves.  He said: "I’ve been cycling to work and putting the petrol money away for the trip so I’m hoping that will earn me around £3,000 by the time the run comes round."".  CLASSIC!

So I can categorically state that, yes I have been putting away the saved petrol money and I am indeed saving furiously to fund the trip out of my own pocket.  But despite being in the middle of a credit crunch, things haven't got so bad yet that I need to sleep in a tent on the roadside to save money.

All joking aside, I thought the coverage given by the Journal today was superb.  Not only did I make all of page 3 (not topless ladies, calm down now!), but I also had a picture on the front page.  There also an online link to the story in the media section at the right of this page.

Pictured above is a tent who was unavailable for comment today!

Sunday 21 September 2008

Run Geordie Run!

At last!  I've managed to draw a new logo for the blog.  It wasn't too difficult to do once I had the image of black and white in my mind.  

I'm hoping to use it on many things in the future such this t-shirt (pictured) that I'm in the process of getting a quote or two for.  This is just one of the avenues I'll be pursuing in an attempt to raise as many funds as I can for The Children's Foundation and St Benedict's Hospice.  I can see it now!  Run Geordie Run mugs to have your daily brew out of.  How about a Run Geordie Run his and her's matching thong set!  Or is that taking things just a bit too far?

Speaking of fundraising ideas.  Today, I received the first draft of lyrics from Tim and Alan (aka The Exiles) for the charity song to be used as the soundtrack to the run in 2011.  All I can say at this point is that I was very impressed indeed.  It'll be interesting to hear what the lyrics sound like with music.  Watch this space for further updates on that front.

Food glorious (and healthy) food!

I've put as much effort into training this week, as I have eating healthy food!  At the time of writing, I've just had my 7th healthy tea cooked, of course, by Katy.  I have followed Mark and David's food guidelines very closely this week.  Gone are the takeaways, the flapjacks, the crisps and the bacon sandwiches.  Very much in is porridge for breakfast (sometimes with blueberries or sultanas for flavour), baked potatoes and freshly prepared salads and lean meat for lunch and lean meat and vegetables for tea followed by a nice fruit salad.  Mark and David have provided the inspiration and Katy has been a star, preparing and cooking it all.  Even Jack has got in on the act as we had to make a healthy eating poster as part of his homework for school.

I'm not saying it has been an easy week.  It has been difficult on 2 fronts.  Firstly, adjusting to life without saturated fat, processed convenience food and poor quality carbohydrates has seen me almost break out into a cold sweat at times (and this is just the first week!).  Secondly, finding the energy to do a 6 mile route up the hills of Jesmond Dene when I didn't have many carbs the previous day was difficult.  I've learned my lesson on that one the hard way!  

In terms of energy levels, that particular 6 mile run was the only lapse.  I actually managed to put in 10 hours of training last week with a mixture of gym work, running and spinning.  On no other occasion did I feel as week as I did in Jesmond Dene on Wednesday.

As David reminded me in a consultation on Friday, it won't always be as difficult as this.  The first priority is to lose weight and get rid of the nasty food habits.  Well I've definitely started on the right foot and will try my best to keep it going.  Next week, I'm aiming for more of the same food wise and will look to increase work in the gym, keeping the running at about 25 miles.  I've got a session with David in his gym on Monday.  I'll be learning some new techniques and new machinery which I'll be able to take away and use in the many hours I seem to be spending in the Northern Rock gym.  If all goes to plan, then I'll be able to start the proper training in November at a reasonable weight.  Now pass me another apple!

Monday 15 September 2008

Tonight Matthew I'm going to be Mark Cavendish!

If every day could be like today I'd be very happy indeed. Food intake and training were both of a very good quality and if I could replicate this every day I'll be on the road to superior fitness in no time. 

Now, I've started having breakfast at home over the last few weeks which has replaced trips to the canteen and the resulting bacon sandwiches and hash browns. Today's brekky was 3 slices of wholemeal toast before dropping Jack off at school.  A good start to the day in anyone's book.

Lunchtime saw me put in a quite respectable 47 minute effort for 5 miles. Miles 2, 3 and 4 contained a few intervals as I started picking up the pace between lamp posts. I felt great and the end of it and was rewarded with a jacket potato and beans.

I was just about to get myself a Double Decker when some nutritional information came through via email from Dave and Mark. That put paid to that hope of getting a chocolaty treat! Talk about bad timing!

After work I managed 20 minutes on the cross trainer and a 15 minute interval session on the bike. This left time to try one of may latest favourite bits of gym equipment; the rowing machine. I've been knocking time of my PB's for 2000 meters on each of the last 5 attempts. Tonight was no exception as I managed a time of 00:08:10. I then had just about enough energy for a Spinning class. Now the benchmark for this class is to achieve an average heart rate of 162. I really went for it tonight in the class and I sweat buckets. Nice!

I got my heart rate up to an average of 161 during the last song and no matter how hard I tried the number just wouldn't increase by 1 to 162! I managed to sustain 170 BPM for what seemed like an age and still no movement on my heart rate monitor. AHHH!! I couldn't tell at this point if it was sweat or tears streaming down my face! Just before the last song finished and I pressed stop on my watch the reading on my watch went up to 162. "Yes!", I exclaimed with a clenched fist. The others in the class must have thought that I was taking things far too seriously. In my mind, it was as close a margin as one of the finishes by Mark Cavendish (pictured) in this year's Tour de France. Sad but true!  It's not the first time I've imagined I was in contention for a stage win with a sprint over the final few meters (or rather on the last song in the spinning class).  Watch out soon for tales of Olympic Gold while on the rowing machine!  

Now the best was yet to come! When I got home from the gym, a most amazing feast of chicken kebabs with salad and peppers was waiting on the table. Nice one Katy! On the advice of David and Mark there were no carbs in sight and I even managed a couple of pears for pudding. This just about left enough time for a few bedtime stories which Jack read half of himself. His reading is coming along really well. What a perfect end to a perfect day! Now I've got it all to do again tomorrow! The training is the easy bit! Can I manage to keep off the chocolate?

Saturday 13 September 2008

Putting together the jigsaw!

I'm pleased to report that it's been another good week of training.  I've ached really badly for most of the week as I've pushed myself quite hard in the gym (as well as spinning classes and a good variety of 4, 5 and 6 mile runs).  

On the flip side, I think the aches wouldn't have been quite as bad if I had my diet sorted out.  I feel like it's slightly better but there's massive room for improvement.  In fact when I sent the details of what I'd been eating to David and Mark the messages back were "We really need to sort this out.", "This is nowhere near what we are looking for", "This is not going to drop your weight quickly or give you the nutrition for a quick recovery from your workouts" and "if we sort this out now you will gain the most benefit from your training".

Hopefully, I'll have a more structured and better quality eating plan very soon.  Nutrition, though, is just one of the pieces in this very large jigsaw.  Albeit, a very major piece.  Of equal importance is the training that I'm doing and the ability to find the time to fit it around family and work commitments (and watching the Toon of course!).  

Two weeks ago, finding the necessary time to train was all a big mystery.  Two weeks later, though, and things are starting to become a little clearer.  The time slots available for training are becoming more obvious and I want these to settle and become part of the routine.  And when I say routine I'm not just talking about my routine.  Katy and Jack's routine will also be affected!

Sunday 7 September 2008

Beyond my years!

The initial consultation with Mark Fleming and David Fairlamb went ahead as planned last Wednesday.  Part of this meeting was a test using a body composition monitor.   The results from this test didn't make for great reading but that's not too worrying as there will be so much progress to be made over the next 3 years.  Anyway, the main stats were that my metabolic age is 52, body fat is 28.6% and my weight is 105.6 kg!

David said that I shouldn't entertain doing the big mileage in training until I at least lose some weight.  That was tough news to take given that I had planned to start training this week and already had a couple of runs under my belt.   But take the news I did and I've started the hard task of trying to get below 100 kg.  I hope to manage to do this before my original planned training start date in November.   It doesn't mean I'll be working any less hard than planned for the next 2 months.  It just means that I'll be working very hard in a way that will be putting less pressure on my joints.

Tuesday 2 September 2008

More brilliant fundraising news!

Great news today!  The Northern Rock Foundation have agreed to match the first of 2 applications in respect of this year's Pennine Challenge.  This equates to £821 and gives us a total raised so far of £2,121.  

The second application, if successful, would see the total amount raised this year stand at £2600.  Fingers crossed!

Meanwhile, I managed my 2nd 5 mile run of the week at lunchtime today.  It was another slow one and presented few problems in the Gosforth rain.  

I have the consultation with David Fairlamb and Mark Fleming tomorrow so I'll be doing my 5 mile run before I drop Jack off at school and go to work.  Getting up early to do a run is one of the biggest challenges I've faced in a long old while.  Being able to train at this time of the day is going to be the key to being able to fit all of the required mileage in.  

Monday 1 September 2008

And so it begins......

I'm very pleased to report I started my USA 2011 training plan today with a steady 5 mile run to Newcastle Race Course and back.  Nothing spectacular, but it's a start.  The aim is to get 50 miles done this week.  It's so important to get things off to a good solid start and signal my intentions.  Nothing less than 50 miles will do!

In the meantime, I've got the initial consultation with Coach David and Coach Mark on Wednesday.  I've been asked to keep a list of everything I eat and drink.  They will no doubt cast a critical eye over it at the meeting.  It's only got 4 days worth of information on so far but is already spread over 2 pages!  Oops!