Small steps

Hopefully this won’t jinx it, but it’s fair to say we’ve had a fabulous summer so far.  There was a week or so where it cooled down, was a bit dreich and autumnal, but thankfully that passed quickly and the summer has returned in full force.  I have to say I do love the heat, even it means the midges seem to be out in full force this year, and for the first time in years I’ve been bitten a few times this last few weeks.  When I go camping later in the month, I think I’ll need to stock up on citronella candles and industrial strength insect repellent.

So I’ve finally hit the half way mark on my debt repayment, hurrah! and this is despite paying for flights and car parking for a Spring ’18 Lanza trip, and also paying a deposit for a hotel next summer.  All unplanned expenses at this point, but I took the decision to use up spare cash for June & July (i.e the only money I had in my savings) to pay for the holiday expenses now while they’re cheaper (in Lanza’s case – I’ve save about £70 over what I paid for the trip this year).  Next year the Pirate party is heading to Ironman Austria in July, so I couldn’t resist signing up….to support!  I’ve never been to Austria, and when you know you’re staying 100m from the lake front below, there’s no way I’m missing out.


Due to the fact the race is on, the hotels are only booking for a minimum 7 night stay, so I’ve had to sign up for a full week of lakes, mountains and fresh air, how awful!  The only downside is having to pay the hotel this year, but that’s only because I hadn’t planned for it.  Anyway, I managed to pay the deposit, and will pay the balance by the end of the year.  Paying in advance for holidays is actually making me very happy though.  I used to credit card the lot and worry about it after the fact.  No more!!  The result is it that the debt repayment may extend a wee bit longer, and as such after a big payment in January, my last card repayment may be in February 2018 (the last £400!).  I may be able to pay more than planned this year and bring that back, but ultimately it doesn’t really matter, I’ll get shot of it all eventually, end of.  My attitude to money has completely changed, only about 20 years too late, ha! Hence paying for holiday stuff now when I can, otherwise if I didn’t have the money at the time, I’d now say no, and quite frankly, I like my holidays and don’t want to miss out if I can avoid it.  So after a lean (ish) year, I’ve still got two amazing trips to look forward to next year 🙂

Allotment wise, I’ve been learning that you can weed & weed until the cows come home, but if you don’t cover the cleared-bed up, they’ll come back, with a vengeance.  So because I’m a numpty and have only just realised, in some ways I feel like I’m not getting anywhere!  I’ve got the one bed I plant stuff in, but I’ve not been able to plant anything else.  However, it doesn’t really matter because I still enjoy it, i’ve learned my lesson, and i’m slowly getting on top of it.  Today I finally finished clearing one bed (again!) and i’ve covered it up until i’m ready to plant in it.  My aim now is to have the place in better shape for the Autumn, so I can then start to plant more stuff that can cope with the cold and frosts of winter (parsnips anyone?).  What I have planted is doing well, and despite thinking they were dead, the even the broad beans are starting to grow!

I pulled an onion up because I was dying to try it, but I’ll try to leave the others in a bit longer; some are a reasonable size, some are still pretty small.  The potatoes are doing well.  I’ve pulled most of the Charlottes, as the leaves succumbed to a bit of blight, so I’ve dug up those potatoes now.  The International Kidneys are still in the ground and will keep me in tatties for a while.

Otherwise I’ve been taking a few walks down by the river when it’s been nice, and always manage to go and say hello to the locals, who always come when I call them.


I’ve finally managed to get back to the gym too.  My back is still bothering me off & on, but I got a new 12-week programme designed to work on flexibility & mobility, and so far (2 weeks in), I’m feeling better for it.  Over time I’m hoping it will sort out the back issues I’ve been having once and for all.  Sugar wise i’ve been a bit up & down like a yo-yo.  The culprit isn’t sugar as such, it’s basically too many carbs.  A ridiculous amount of trial and error has demonstrated to me, without a shadow of a doubt, that I can give up sugar and have few issues with cravings, but if I overeat on the carbs or have bread or anything similar (even if no/low sugar), it makes me crave sugar like a drug-starved crack addict, and I can’t stay off it.  So attempt no. 1 billion is underway, and i’m 8 days in and feeling good.  I’ve even managed to do it in a PMT week (unknowingly, but it makes sense why my back has been worse for a few days).  So the upshot is when I go camping at the end of the month, i’m going to sadly have to refuse all the beautiful cakes and scones in the local Tea Room.  It sucks and will sound insane to anyone that doesn’t have an issue with the stuff, but I need to do it for me, once and for all.  Enjoying life, i’ve realised, is much more important than ‘missing out’ on some foods, so that’s what i’m going to do.

Happy summer folks 🙂

The longest day

The longest day is upon us, and it’s a scorcher!  The past week has been fabulous; it feels as though we’re getting a proper summer, hurrah!  Summer might just last a week this year, but better than hee-haw! So this month has been good so far.  A last-minute visit from one of my lovely nieces a couple of weeks ago was great, and we were fortunate enough to have good weather so managed to get out and about each day for a wee wander which was nice.  I’ve walked to work a few times too, and want to keep that going as I definitely need to move more in general.  My back has been really bothering me though which has pissed me off no-end.  Unfortunately it’s meant I’ve not spent as much time down the allotment as I’d have liked, especially in the heat of summer.  As a result the bastarding weeds have regained overall control!  All the kale, cabbage and lettuce planted was completely decimated by snails or slugs.  RIP poor wee veggies 😥 On the plus side though, the tatties, garlic & onions are doing well, so much so that I did a test-dig of the potatoes and got some lovely Charlottes to eat.


Yesterday I also dug up some of the other variety i’d planted – International Kidney (like Jersey Royals but you can’t call them that if they’re not from Jersey) –  and they look good, if a bit wee….I really need to leave them be for another few weeks to let them all grow!  Anyway, it feels fab to have actually grown something myself 😀  I also got another haul of rhubarb which appears to have rallied even though in May it looked as though it was on its last legs.


What the allotment has really given me an appreciation of is, well, just food.  The fact I planted something over 2 months ago, and it’s now giving me food is amazing.  The fact it takes so long in a way is what gets me.  It just cements for me how bad it is to waste food.  We are so used to popping to the shops to be faced with rows an rows of stacked veggies (and all the rest), that you become immune to the fact that the produce is the result of weeks & months of hard work.  Okay, so you could say that mass production takes a lot of the graft away, but not entirely.  Anyway, I’m sure you get my point.  It’s humbling to me, coming to this fairly late in the game, and it being such a revelation and novelty, but growing your own food really is something special.  I’ve got so much to do to wrangle control the allotment from the weeds and what not, I’ll not be planting anything else in the immediate future, but that’s okay.  (Oh and I know i’ll never actually be the one in control here!).

The flip side of my allotment love is that I think this is also primarily one of the reasons my back hasn’t been great.  I’ve been doing whole new movement patterns on a slightly dodgy back with crappy core strength and limited flexibility etc., so as much as I love it, it’s not loving me.  I’ve not been able to stick to my weight-lifting plan as a result, so I’ve taken the sensible position of dialling it back and getting some help.  I was at the gym earlier tonight for an assessment/chat about what I wanted, so I’m getting a new programme that I’ll do myself, and it’ll focus on increasing range of mobility/flexibility and ensuring I have the correct movement patterns.  It’ll be a 12-week plan, and might be that I don’t lift anything heavy at all in that time, but that’s okay.  If it helps get me in the right place, then it’ll help my lifting no end, and my lifting goals will take care of themselves in the long run.  So i’m looking forward to getting that started, and hopefully sorting this back out.

Money-wise has been a bit of a disaster this month.  Well, actually not bad compared to where I used to be, but the new money-saver me has ballsed up this month.  I had a couple of unplanned expenses that have wiped me out and left me overdrawn.  It just means the spare case from July’s money is no longer spare, and will get eaten up by the overdraft.  Not the end of the world, but it’s a place I don’t like being in anymore.  The good thing is I’m bothered by it – this was a monthly occurrence before.  Also it’s meant having to say no (again) to another weekend event with some lovely pals I’ve not seen in a while.  One even offered to pick me up on the way, but since I would only ever have been going for the day, while they were staying for the weekend, I had to decline the generous offer.  It sucks, I feel like a boring twat, but it is what it is.  On the plus side my debt is now less than £10K, meaning i’ve paid off over £7K since August 2016.  It’ll likely take until Jan. ’18 to finally get shot of it, but I can live with an extra month.

So in the meantime it’s nothing but free entertainment – allotment, gym and swims in the beautiful river near my flat.  I can live with that 🙂


New goals

I’m not sure how many posts I’ve written setting out a ream of goals that have fallen by the wayside.  Lots probably.  Anyway, this year, while my running goals have now fallen by the wayside, I’m doing well on the financial side of things, and starting to really feel the benefits of the low carb high fat (LCHF) way of eating and lack of sugar.  Importantly i’m back at the gym and loving it.  At the moment the programme i’m following just has two sessions a week, but on the 27th March I’ll be starting a new 6-week programme that will take me to the gym three times a week.  I feel I need it actually as twice a week is fine but already feeling like it’s not enough.  I do need to remember though that i’m only really back at the gym after a long (too long) hiatus, and building back up.  Also whilst i’m adapting to a LCHF lifestyle, I can expect my training to suffer a bit initially.

However, despite all that, I feel that I want to set myself some strength training goals.  I can’t tell you how much I love lifting weights, even just on a small-scale.  I’m not doing any Olympics lifts at the moment, but actually I’m just interested in building strength at the moment, so I’m good with that.  I’ve only been back at the gym for 4 weeks, so i’m kind of right back to the start in terms of my strength journey.  So, as a bit of a benchmark against which I can measure progress, here are my current stats:

March 2017
Bodyweight: 104kg (it was 115kg last May, fook!!)
Bench press: 30kg (8 reps)
Back Squat: 45kg (4 reps)
Deadlift: 55kg (8 reps)
Press-ups: 0 (can’t do a full body press-up yet)
Pull-up: 0 (YOU try lifting 104kg! 😉 )

I’ve not tried to do any 1-rep max testing lately, but that’s what I’ve been pushing/pulling etc. in the gym in the last week.  Happily my weight is coming down slowly but surely, and there will inevitably be some plateaus along the way, but overall it should drop.  Therefore I’ve set some goals in a couple of different ways:

Goals for next 6-12 months
Bodyweight: 88 – 72kg
Bench Press: a) 50kg  b) 0.75 x bodyweight (BW)  c) 1 x BW
Back Squat: a) 75kg  b) 1 x BW  c) 1.5 x BW
Deadlift: a) 100kg  b) 1 x BW c) 1.5 x BW
Press-ups: 10 in a row
Pull-ups: a) 1!  b) 5 in a row c) 10 in a row

So there you have it.  It may be that some of those will take longer than 12 months (e.g. some of the c) goals!) – I’ll be able to reassess as I go as to what’s realistic.  For the deadlift, the BW lift might come first if I lose >4kg before I’m lifting anywhere near 100kg, but we’ll see.

At the moment I’m just working my way through old training programmes that my personal trainer wrote for me, and once I’ve finished those (in about 16 weeks or so) then I’ll resume the personal training and take it from there.

Alongside this I need to introduce regular stretching and mobility work, as I’ll soon come a cropper if I don’t look after that side of things.

I’ll report back on progress, and I’m happy to say this is definitely the most excited I’ve been about a goal in a long time, so I think I’ve actually found the right goal for me.  Woo hoooo!


Injury update

Last week I managed to ‘ping’ my knee/hamstring getting in the car, and for a few days it was really sore, and I totally laid off the stretches etc. It’s now feeling much better, so I went back to the physio today to see what was what. I’ve still got a very tight right hip (I often do) and calf pain albeit more internal than surface pain. A few more tests, some prodding and it would seem that my sciatic nerve has been irritated, and in fact it probably was the start of the problem. The hamstring is healing well and I can continue with the exercises for that so long as they don’t hurt, but focus is on sorting nerve issue. I’ve been feeling for ages that I want to reeeeally stretch out my leg, and I’m constantly doing so whilst sitting/in bed etc. but of course I now know that the muscles are probably tight to protect the nerve and every time I stretch it I’m irritating it more. Bugger! So I’ve got new stuff to focus on for the next 2 weeks which should hopefully calm that down then I can attempt running again. Realistically Brighton marathon isn’t going to happen. I’ve missed six weeks of running, will miss another 2 then need to build back up. I’ve emailed to ask if I can defer, if not then I’ll see how it goes, you never know. But if it gets to the point I’m only back up to half mara distance with a few weeks to go I’m not going to run. Another marathon finish in a crappy time is not my aim. I’m now mostly annoyed that it might also mean I can’t do another few pre-marathon races I have planned. Again though I’ll wait and see. They might be okay. 

So, it’s really disappointing but I’ll be back running soon enough and otherwise life is good, so I’ve nothing to complain about. Onwards and upwards 🙂 


I’ve had tightness in my right leg for the last couple of weeks, and amazingly enough I’ve actually been doing some stretching and foam-rollering of my hamstrings/calves/glutes etc.  I managed to get a 20 min massage at work via a Wellness programme they were running, and it definitely helped with the pain I was starting to get behind my knee.  The Goonies run that I did last weekend went okay, and I didn’t have any particular issues which was good.

Fast forward to Parkrun yesterday.  This was the first time I’d attempted a Parkrun since last September, as i’d opted to help out there a few times this year rather than run.  It was a pretty cold day, and I admit I didn’t warm up (I never do and count the first 10 mins or so as a warm up).  Right from the start my right calf muscle felt a bit niggly.  It wasn’t sore but I could feel it, as if it was tight along the outer edge.  I stuck to my usual run/walk albeit I had reduced the walk to 45s as recently I’ve felt the minutes was too long.  Everything was going fine until the last couple of hundred metres.  I started running again after a walk break and all of a sudden there was immediate weakness behind the knee and I couldn’t run.  I started to walk again, but as I neared the finish I did a kind of limp-run to cross the line.

I know it sounds insane but I couldn’t figure out whether I’d pulled my calf or my hamstring.  Having tried various movement patterns today it feels as if both the calf and hamstring are sore at their insertion points, so a bit of both.  Whatever the hell it is, it is really sore and there is NO WAY i could run at the moment.  So nothing else to do but rest it, try to keep moving and some self massage to get the blood flowing.  It’s unlikely to be a rupture as it isn’t that bad, and there’s no bruising that I can see, and no popping or tearing sound, just immediate weakness.

So needless to say I’m pretty gutted, but it is early days and there is time to resolve this and get back to the training plan before panic needs to set in.  Still pissed off though, gah!  Training has been going pretty well too, but hey ho.  So even more reason to stay on point with nutrition.  Admittedly it’s gone off the rails in the last week because I’ve been pretty busy and a bit stressed with all the work I’ve got to do at the moment, so prep went out the window.  Anyway, back to normal this weekend which will help.

Oh it’s worth mentioning that on the bright side, I got a Parkrun PB for the Southsea Parkrun (still 5 mins exactly off my best ever 5K time), so at least it wasn’t all bad!

Marathon plan is a GO!

When I wrote my last post, I casually mentioned that I was just kicking along until my planned marathon training plan started in December.  Ages and ages ago I found a plan I liked, I wrote the long runs in my online diary, and generally forgot about it, knowing it was a while until it started.  So last night I thought I’d dig it out and have a look, and noticed that i’d scored out all the Thursday runs.  I really wanted a plan that only had me running 3 days a week, but this one had 4, so I just binned one.  After a little bit of pondering, I thought maybe this wasn’t actually such a good plan.  Missing out 1/4 of a plan on purpose isn’t possibly the best prep for the big day.  What to do though, I really don’t want to run more than 3 times a week.  Why? Let me tell you:

  •  when you’re overweight, lots of running fucking hurts.  My knees wouldn’t thank me.
  • when I’ve followed 4 day (or more) plans in the past, I’ve usually missed the odd run which turns into lots of missed runs which turns into a shitty race day.
  • when I’ve run more than 4 times a week i’ve gotten injured.  Every time.

Cue early evening panic – I need another plan!!  Much perusing on the wonderful inter web produced a lot of plans that didn’t fit my aims.  Then I happened to stumble upon the ‘Marathon 3’ plan by Hal Higdon.  While he advocates this is for experienced runners (is that me? Erm…..), it looked pretty good.  The main point with this plan was that you did one bike session and one cross-training session a week alongside the 3 runs.  Looked great.  Except it was 24 weeks long so technically I should have started it last week.  Erm…..

I took the plan and butchered it somewhat by taking out a couple of the weeks towards the end of the programme (it suggests 3 x 20 mile runs all in), and a couple towards the start, to make it fit without me having to resort to time travel.  However, I wasn’t sure whether this was the best way to proceed, so I decided to defer to my lovely mentor Nicky who has run many, many more marathons than I and actually knows what she’s talking about.  Thankfully she thought the plan was good, so long as I do the additional cross training; this is a must.  Sorted!!  Rather than butchering it, I’ve just to start on week two.  Hmm, why didn’t I think of that!  So plan unbutchered (bar striking off week one) and I’m good to go.  Thankfully Monday’s are rest days because I did fuck all exercise yesterday as I was busy studying.  So today I started the plan, and I now have 4 miles in the bank.  Hurrah!

I’m out tomorrow evening so alarm is already set early so I can do the spin before work.  It’s a long road ahead, so I’m taking it day by day.  It’s a bit scary starting the plan, but also it’s quite exciting.  I do so want to improve on my previous times, but for now all I need to focus on is being consistent, and ticking off the plan day-by-day.

I’m hoping to use this blog to track training, to be honest about how it’s going (i.e. if I miss sessions I’ll confess, but hopefully I’ll not need to!), and to use as a bit of a record for how the LCHF lifestyle is going alongside all the training.  They should compliment each other, but as with anything, it’s all still fairly new to me, so I anticipate some trial and error.