Wednesday 29 October 2008

Pre-training almost at an end!

I've been in the pre-training phase of USA 2011 training schedule for the past 10 weeks and it is almost at an end. Pictured to the left is the elevation profile of a 9.5 mile run I did yesterday (as taken by my GPS watch). Based on how I felt at the end of that very cold uphill run I could easily tell that there has been much progress made since September. I hardly felt like I'd done a run at all when I got to the end of the Derwent Walk after having set off from Blaydon Rugby Club 1 hour 37 minutes and 13 seconds earlier. I was gutted to later find out that my PB for this run is 01:36:16. If only I'd realised, I'd have made more of an effort of it! I'll save that one for next time!

Seriously though, what I feel I've achieved over the last 10 weeks is nothing compared to what I need to achieve over the next 2.5 years. The weekly mileage needs to increase.  The gym sessions need to increase and become more intense.  I'm bordering on 16 stone at the minute (better than 17 stone 8 pounds in January 2007!). At least 3 of that needs to come off before I set off from California in May 2011!   So much improvement and effort to be made but thankfully time is on my side.

My diet has changed quite a bit over the last 10 weeks. Despite having the odd lapse now and again things are definitely going in the right direction on this front. For instance, it has been 8 weeks since I had a takeaway or a bacon sandwich (my real vice). I've cut out processed food almost altogether and fresh vegetables and lean meat are regularly the order of the day for my tea. There is still plenty of hard work to do with my nutrition. With the help of my mentor's David (Fairlamb) and Mark Fleming, I'm far better placed to succeed than ever before. In fact, I've got a weigh in and an hour's gym session this Friday with Mark. The proof of the pudding will come out of that test!

At present my training is a mixture of running, gym work, Body Pump and Spinning. I'm so pleased to report that 3 weeks ago I added tennis to this list. Coach Phil Atess, really puts me through my paces for an hour with a mixture of drills and games. Despite not hitting a ball in anger for over 2 years I was surprised to find that I wasn't too rusty (by my standards!).

Not only is Phil a top class coach, he is also to blame for putting the idea of running from John O'Groats to Lands in my mind. Phil ran that route in 1992 and raised over £12,000 for charity. That was a staggering amount to raise in a pre-internet age. He told me about it in 2001 and 6 years later I followed in his footsteps.

I'm also pleased to report that my son Jack has started to play mini tennis and Phil is one of the coaches charged with coaching him. Good luck!

Moving on to the financial side of things. There are 2 distinct sides to the funding of the next event. Firstly, there is sponsorship. I'm pretty sure that given the magnitude of this event, I'll be able to reach the £50,000 target. I have a couple of fundraising initiatives that I'll be announcing over the coming months to help boost the fund before I do the actual run in 2011. More on that soon!

Secondly though and just as important as sponsorship is the Tour Fund. This is the pot of money that I'll need to pay for flights, insurance, accommodation, food, lap dancers in Vegas, fuel and all other incidental supplies.  This pot of money needs to be around £14,000. A more accurate figure will be calculated next year. Hopefully, the exchange rate will have picked up by then!

As I've said many times, the Tour Fund will come entirely out of my own pocket. It has been suggested by a number of people that I should seek assistance from various companies. If I do happen to find a company willing to support me then it would directed towards the sponsorship for the 2 charities. The only personal assistance I will be seeking will be for the supply of footwear. I have written to a couple of major footwear manufacturers and at the time of writing all I can say is that I await favourable replies! Given that I get through a pair of trainers every 600 miles or so I anticipate using quite a few pairs. If anyone has any contacts in this area and you think they may be willing to help out then please get in touch at

The good news is though that after 7 months of saving I have almost 1/3 of the Tour Fund in place. The fund was boosted in the summer when I was able to do a lot of cycling into work and I banked the saved petrol money. I'm also saving quite a bit by not drinking beer and the fact that takeaways are off the menu it's amazing how it all adds up.

To further boost the Tour Fund I've set up an eBay account and will be auctioning off some of my prized possessions over the coming months.  In 2004, I set out to raise £6,000 via eBay with the sole intention of buying a state of the art 50" Plasma TV and home cinema setup. It took 12 months to do but I made it and the TV was installed in time for Christmas (and I was on 1st name terms with the lady in the Post Office!). If you're interested in a bid then the list of items for sale by RUNGEORDIERUN can be found by clicking here. First up is an Adidas Team GB tracksuit worn in the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens. Watch out for more unique items coming soon.

Thursday 23 October 2008

Tough Tuesday - a success!

Well I did it!  I managed to get that elusive 5 mile run in before the school run on the 3rd Tough Tuesday.  Somehow, I was up and away at 06:10 for a run in the dark.  I must admit that it's quite spooky in the dark country lanes at that time of the morning!  Perhaps I shouldn't have watched Dog Soldiers last week!

I followed that run up with my second quickest 5 mile run of the year (00:45:05) at lunchtime.  Carl, Carlton and Julie set a decent pace and I was able to keep up with them for most of the way.  Although Julie nearly came a cropper when she didn't see an oncoming lamppost and just missed it with millimeters to spare!  I would probably have beaten 45 minutes if it wasn't for the time wasted laughing at the incident!

To complete Tough Tuesday, I managed a Spinning Class and Body Pump after work.  I felt I had another session in me afterwards too but that feeling lasted all of 5 minutes!

The most pleasing and important thing about Tuesday was the fact that I got my lazy backside out of bed and managed to get 5 miles in.  This has certainly given me the confidence to do it again in the future.

Monday 20 October 2008

Introducing........Tough Tuesday!

Two weeks ago I invented a new type of Tuesday.  It's a particular day of the week that will see training increase in difficulty, above all others, over the coming months.  It's what I like to call Tough Tuesday!  

All joking and catchy names aside, I've always wanted to have one day in training stand out from the rest.  This is the one day where I eventually hope to simulate the tiredness and fatigue (not to mention the calorie burn) that I will be experiencing for 100 days in 2011.  I hope to learn a few lessons along the way, particularly with regard to recovery. More importantly, though, I'll be putting myself to the test on a weekly basis.  It should serve as a useful benchmark.

Last Tuesday and the one before both saw me do a 6 mile run at lunchtime followed by Spinning and Body Pump after work.   Not bad for starters.  It was interesting to see how I coped with a steady 8.4 mile run on the following days.  The first 8.4 miler was done in 01:17:36.  Last week was 01:26:14.  What a difference!

For tomorrow's tough Tuesday, I'll be doing my best to get 5 miles in before taking Jack to school.  There'll be another 5 miles at lunchtime followed by Spinning and Body Pump after work.   It's all well and good to turn up and do these things.  I'll always be looking for as high a quality workout as possible.  For example, I'll not be looking for excuses in Spinning.  I'll be looking for my average  heart rate to be 160+, as per usual with a decent resistance on the bike. Mind you,  I'll just be looking to hold back the tears in Body Pump!

Wednesday 8 October 2008

The beer is off!

Well I had my last night on the beer with the lads last Saturday!  Or rather I should have had.  I just couldn't bring myself to tarnish my new healthy regime so it was pints of orange all the way.  6 or 7 of them actually!

With a pint of orange at only 20p a pint in the Newcastle Comedy Club, I later made a contribution to the USA 2011 Tour Fund roughly equal to that of the money saved on the night.  

The tour fund, started earlier this year, has come out of my own pocket and now stands at over £3000.  The estimated cost of the tour will be close to £15,000 so there is plenty more saving to be done.  But I'm well on the way!  

Giving up beer will save a few quid as well as allowing me to train to my maximum at all times.  Thanks mainly to having a young family, I didn't get the chance to drink that much anyway so it will not be missed that much.  I've only managed 3 sessions since February!  They were all in August and make no mistake they were big sessions!  No wonder my metabolic age was 52!

So the next planned beer is in August 2011.  It will be a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale and it will be sipped in New York City.  Now it's time to build up that thirst!

I'm no longer 52 (metabolically speaking)!

Well I'm afraid this blog post is going to sound very much like the one I made last week.  I can't state enough just how pleased I am with the progress being made and the hours I'm able to put in to training.   This week, for example, should see me get over 10 hours of exercise in with a mixture of running, Spinning, Body Pump and interval sessions in the gym.  

5 weeks ago I started with a basic level of fitness on the back of a good number of sessions on the beer in August.  And with beer there's always Kebabs and Takeaways!  I could never have imagined the transformation that is starting to take place.  And I'm not just talking about a physical transformation either.  

My attitude towards food (eating the right types and at the right times) remains solid.   I'm now into the 4th week of healthy eating!   This must be the longest period of healthy eating I've managed in years and, despite being very early days in the training schedule, the results are starting to show.  Last Thursday, I had a good session in David Fairlamb's gym with coach and mentor Mark Fleming (pictured with me blinking!  I wasn't asleep!  Honest!).  This was a session, primarily designed to show me what I should be doing on my own in the time spent at the Northern Rock gym.  It was a very tough workout indeed!  I also took another body composition test. 

In the 4 weeks since the last test I had lost 3% body fat.  Now down to 25.5%  Brilliant!  Muscle mass was up 3 kg to 74.2kg.  Total Body Water % (which I know David is keen on improving) was up 1.5% to 51%.  Visceral fat rating (the fat around major organs) was down 2 points to 10.  The one stat that I was quite pleased with was my metabolic age (in simple terms that's the age your body thinks it is).  I had lost 3 years and was down to 49 from 52!  Remember that in real life terms I'm 37, so there is a long way to go on that one.
And in response to these stats Mark (pictured right) said the following "All improvements!  You have only lost 3 lbs in overall weight but you have lost a good percentage of fat and gained muscle.  The efforts you are putting in with the diet and exercise are paying off already".  That was music to my ears and was an echo of the encouragement given by David who said he could see a difference already when I turned up at the gym. 

Now the challenge is going to be to show David and Mark another similar improvement over the next 4 week period (I might even get down to my mid 40's in metabolic age!).  

This is an example of how I'm able to cope with the enormity of and pressure that is running 3100 miles across the USA in 100 days.  If the penny hasn't dropped yet then please let me explain.  I'll never think of that run in it's entirety.  Or indeed think of the thousands of miles I've got to run in training either.  I'll always look to break it down into as many manageable milestones that I can.  

At the moment, I can't see past the next body composition test at the end of this month.  Everything I do between now and then is geared up towards that test and recording another improved set of stats.  This will only achieved by a similar or even better effort than I've given in the first 4 weeks of training.  It's up to me to put that effort in but there are a number of people helping me along the way.  

Obviously, David and Mark are to thank for the advice and inspiration given so far.  My missus, Katy is instrumental in preparing and making all of the healthy food.  For example, I had a lovely warm chicken salad last night and I've just been informed that I've got a ham and pasta salad for my bait tomorrow!  Then there are the staff at the Northern Rock gym.  The spinning and body pump classes are second to none.  I always leave feeling that they've managed to get the most effort out of me that is physically possible.  

Also worth a mention are the various people I run with on a lunchtime.  Carl Hudson and Julie Symonds seem to be my latest regular running buddies.  They are training for various events themselves (including the Edinburgh Marathon).  Today, with their help, I managed an 8.4 mile effort in 01:17:36.  This was especially pleasing in the context of what I'd already done this week.  Monday was a 5 mile run, 45 minutes gym and spinning class.  Tuesday was a 6.5 mile run, spinning class and body pump.   What makes it even more pleasing is the fact that I'm doing all of this training while eating smaller quantities but the right quality of food.  I rarely feel hungry at all now.   Figure that one out!

Anyway, as I said at the top of this blog post, I'm very pleased with the progress made so far.  I'm getting more and more determined to succeed as each week passes.  There is no sign yet of that determination wavering.  Surely, I'm on for 46 metabolic years old at the next test!