Friday, 31 December 2010

31st December 2010

       Last day of the year, time for that blowout before all the new years resolutions kick in. High protein blowout for me, Bacon and mushroom omelette for breakfast, and Denise has got me a steak for later, (wonder what she's after, haha.) So out for a walk to get the metabolism into gear. I went for a walk yesterday with an old friend who was in a similar situation to me a few years ago. He's climbing up the corporate ladder but having all the expense account lunches on the way. Along the Humber, a footpath that (allegedly) crosses the country to Liverpool. Didn't go that far, but 4 miles took us far enough and as we walked back the fog suddenly cleared so got the above photo. You don't get that sort of view sitting at home watching telly!
      Anyway, I've given him a goal, and sometime in May or June, I'll be dragging him around the Yorkshire 3 peaks. I haven't done it for a couple of years, and as training goes, it's excellent! 25 miles, 3 biggest mountains in Yorkshire and a mecca for hikers, ramblers, fell walkers and the like. I'll have to keep an eye on him up until then, though, it's not for the faint hearted...

I'll be having chips with my steak, a baking tray with a tiny dash of olive oil in the oven until it's smoking hot, then throw the chips in (proper cut potatoes, not reconstituted frozen "chips") turning occasionally, and sprinkling a pinch of mild curry powder on them just before they're done. Healthy chips, who'd have thought it?

Happy New Year everyone.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

30th December 2010

         It's that boring time between christmas and new year, time to start gearing up for the new years resolutions. Luckily here the snow has just about gone so out and about visiting friends and relatives which adds up to a decent 10 to 15 miles a day, although not too quickly, enough to get a bit of a sweat on and slightly out of breath which is a good indication that the walking is doing you some good. You will get peckish, and low cal power bars are expensive, and also manufactured so you never know quite what they contain. I make my own, and I know a few people who have taken this recipe and use it regularly.

Flapjacks/power bars.

My cooking is better than my photography.

        I don't normally stick to recipes, I'm the sort of cook who throws what seems to be the right amount in and see what comes out, if it works, all well and good. I've made this batch yesterday and tried to figure out amounts and method. So here goes!

Time, 10 minutes preparation, 25 to 30 mins cooking time.

Porridge oats, 250g to 350g
Honey  200g
Brown sugar 150g
Butter 150g (I use the cholesterol reducing spread with the plant sterols, although any spread will do.)
Fruit. maybe a couple of bananas, apples, pears, kiwi, etc. use your imagination.
Dried fruit, mixed dried fruit, also available dried cranberries, guji berries etc. the small ones though, if you use the big ones they expand too much.
Seed mix. Sunflower, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, mixed chopped nuts. 
Dashes of olive oil.

pre-heat oven to 180 degrees or equivalent gas mark (Not off the top of my head, sorry) you need a straight sided roasting tray, mine's about 14 inches by 10 inches, and an inch deep. Line with silver foil, pop it into the oven.
Put the sugar, honey and butter/spread into a large pan, pop it on the hob, and melt and stir.. (I used to microwave them, see previous posts...)
Add half of the oats. Stir in until well mixed.
Add fruit. make sure its chopped finely and well mixed. Stir in well until mixed.
Add seed mix, keep adding handfuls and mixing until you think there's enough in.
Add dried fruit, same thing, keep adding until theres plenty in. Sorry I can't be more specific, but in my mind I just add until I think "That's enough now."
Once its stirred and well mixed, add the rest of the oats gradually, mixing as you go. A few dashes of olive oil if you want to keep it moist.
A dash of olive oil in the silver foil lined tray which should be hot now. Leave it a couple of minutes to get hot, then it's time to add the mix.
Make sure the hot oil, (or butter) is spread evenly over the bottom of the tin. Pour in the mix, and spread evenly. Once it's filling the tin evenly to about an inch deep, I usually drizzle the surface with olive oil and use a tablespoon to flatten it dow so its even and fairly compact.
Once it's ready, sprinkle some brown sugar on the surface.
In the oven, fan assisted about 25 minutes. A bit longer makes them crunchier, and you may have to turn them round halfway through to make them cook evenly. Take them out if they start to burn.
Once it's cooked, take out of the oven, and slice up. i do one lengthways and can get 7 cuts widthways to make 16 bars. once they are cut, don't try and take them out just yet. Put the whole tin in the fridge for at least 3 to 4 hours. This helps them firm up into solid (though nicely chewy) bars.  You can lift out the silver foil and break it up into bars once the whole thing has cooled down

Scored ready for the fridge.

          Similar bars in the shops go for over a quid each, so at about 3 or 4 quid all in, is good value, and as an added bonus you know what's in them. Trial and error can make them better, they keep for a couple of weeks and are easy to take in a small tupperware container whilst out walking. Simple sugars and Carbs release energy gradually, and the oats make you feel more full.

       You can add any ingredients, cinammon, grated ginger, melt chocolate on top to make them with a chocolate layer (Popular!) or add any flavouring you like. 


Wednesday, 29 December 2010

29th December 2010

            I recieved an interesting message about microwave ovens. As with most people, I grew up with microwave ovens, accepting them as safe and normal. Interestingly, much research has been done on the effects of microwaving food. It seems that microwaving works by physically rotating the food molecules which causes friction and heats up the food. At the same time though, it destroys the cell walls of the molecules and reduces nutrients as well as changing in a way that increases radiation in the bloodstream, increases bad cholesterol, causes a reduction in good cholesterol, and reductions in lymphocites, the white blood cells key to the immune system. Studies have found that not only are nutrients in the food reduced, sometimes drastically, but also the blood of people who eat microwaved foods is affected.
            From now on, microwaving for me is an emergency only option, at least until I can do more research. Any recipes I post will have proper cooking instructions.

           I suppose I am susceptible to a little scaremongering, but I'd rather take the safe line, the bloodstream is the most important part of the body, and if microwaving food affects it for the worst, then I have to make time to cook food the old fashioned way.

The following link is to one of hundreds of pages warning of these dangers.

           In other news, Hull City drew 1-1 mainly thanks to an awful referee who didn't know the rules of football, it should have been a penalty blah blah blah................



Tuesday, 28 December 2010

28th December 2010

A Balanced diet.

         Australia just lost another wicket, now 169 for 6, still over 240 behind with 2 days left and England another innings if they want it. I might pop to the bookies and put a fiver on England to win...

         The reason fad diets and diet pills don't work is because they all involve cutting out some part of the balanced diet we all need to stay healthy. There are 6 parts to a healthy diet;
1. Carbohydrates. This is where we get most of our energy, and comes in a few forms. Starch, in potatoes, rice, pasta, bread and cereals are turned into glucose in the digetive system to be absorbed by the body tissue as a form of energy. Sucrose is found in sugar and sweets as well as fruits and is turned into glucose by the digestive system also. (Sucrose molecules are too big to enter the bloodstream) These collectively are known as complex carbs and simple carbs, and a mixture of these in a meal mean we get a steady stream of glucose energy instead of it getting dumped into the system all in one go.
2. Protein. This is necessary for muscle growth and repair. Proteins are large molecules so they are turned into amino acids by the digestive system. Protein shakes are powdered amino acids that go straight into the system.
3 Fats. Fats are necessary as they contain some sources of nutrition not contained in Carbs, whilst also containing some necessary vitamins not found elsewhere. Fat is stored in the body to be used later, and insulate us from the cold whilst cushioning the internal organs. Good fats are polyunsaturates and monounsaturates, and help transport vitamins around the body, whilst essential fatty acids help the immune system. Fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds, amongst others, carry vital omega 3, 6 and 9. All good.
4. Fibre. Fibre is essential for the digestive system but is not absorbed by the body. Some fibres attract fat molecules such as bad cholesterol and carry them away through the digestive system. Imagine a toilet brush through a car exhaust...
5. Vitamins. Are essential in only small quantities but are many, and have munerous jobs. Immune system, healthy skin, bones eyes, reproductive system, and many transporting and repair jobs. Can all be obtained from a balanced diet, you shouldn't have to take vitamin tablets unless you are in serious heavy duty training, or pregnant.
6. Minerals. Iron, sodium, Calcium, amongst others, are all essential for normal bodily function, and are all found in a balanced diet.

         So, a balanced diet, avoiding saturated fats, taking enough water, and getting a decent amount of exercise. Cutting out ready made meals may be a little more expensive, and you may say you're too busy to exercise, but if you are determined to be fit and healthy, you can make the time. Half an hours brisk walk every day is more than enough. (Do it instead of watching eastenders, it'll help your mind and sanity too!) A good breakfast, mixed carbs and proteins to keep you going through the morning, and 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day. A big lunch stretches the stomach and gives you a energy rush, but unfortunately gives energy dips throughout the afternoon and makes you want to snack.
        A glass of water or cup of tea before eating, and eat slowly. The body doesn't register being full until twenty or thirty minutes after it is, so you keep on eating and go too far. Stop halfway through a meal for 5 minutes so the body can catch up.
       Do correct portions, which means don't count as much as you fit on the plate as a portion. If it says a portion is 100g then it is 100g. Be honest with yourself.
       Don't eat 3 hours before going to bed. Food in the stomach when you sleep is converted to fat.
       If you are serious, mark everything down in a diary, portions, calories, fat. Try to keep to 40%-50% Carbs, 25%-30% protein, 20%-30% fat with at least 25g of fibre. Not essential, but it helps to keep roughly to this.
      Cut down on salt, caffeine and alcohol.

       One other thing. If you are cutting down on the calories by over 500 a day (ladies 1200, men 2000) then you will lose weight quicker. Unfortunately, the body has a defense system that is like a starvation mode. This is a primeval instinct from the body which was when the hunters caught a nice fresh wooly mammoth, there was plenty to eat. When it was gone the body was starved and after a few days, the body learns to depend on what it has... nothing. It cuts down bodily functions so it only burns what calories it takes in until it gets back to normal feeding again. I tried this, and in extreme cases the extremities are cut off, cold white hands and feet as the blood flow is restricted, increased lethargy, reduced efficiency, physically as well as mentally, and weight stops dropping so you are essentially defeating the object of dieting. If this happens, it can be off putting and soon send you back to the old ways. 
       So, for reduced calorie diets, 3 or four days on the reduced calories, 1 day on ABOVE calories, say 2500 women, 3500 for men to fool the body in thinking it's getting a good feed, one day normal calories then back on the reduced. Lose weight slowly and steadily and it's more likely to stay off.

3 tablespoons of porridge in a bowl, half fill with semi skimmed milk. Microwave for 2, to 2 and a half minutes. (Porridge is one of natures finest cholesterol reducers)
Chop in any 2 portions of fruit. Banana, kiwi, apple, pear etc.
Microwave for 1 minute.
sprinkle in some currants/raisins, and stir in a spoonful of honey for taste.
half a scoop of protein powder (my favourite is banana flavour) and stir in.
30 seconds in the microwave.
Sprinkle on a mix of nuts and seeds. I have sunflower, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, sesame seeds and crushed nuts ready prepared in a container, which I sprinkle on anything, salads, soups, stews cereals etc.
For a variation, add any of your favourite ingredients such as cinnamon, ginger, lemon zest, bottled flavourings such as almond or strawberry, or a sprinkle of hot chocolate powder.

Large mug of tea. (Optional)

A mixed breakfast of 600 calories that'll keep you going all morning. Microwave times are dependant, so don't send any caked overflowing microwaves to me for cleaning...

       Sorry it's been a large post this morning, but as christmas is over I needed to get it all down for my own benefit as well, to skim away those few pounds I've put on. I think I've covered most of it. If I can think of anything else then I can always add it later. Thanks for the messages and e-mails, it's good to know my efforts are appreciated.

   Now, 5 miles walk to Hull Cuty v Reading.


Monday, 27 December 2010

27th December 2010


                     England are 400 for 5, beating Australia by 300 runs, and still clocking em up! Record partnerships and scores more than ticking over. I know I'm being cynical but every time one of my teams does well, I always clock it up to the other side being rubbish. I suppose that comes with following Hull City! They won again yesterday, 2-0 up by half time and cruising, they drop to 2-2, City fans waiting for the obvious, but up pops the villain Jimmy Bullard, off the bench for only his 4th game this season to score the winner in the last kick of the game. My knee is feeling better, been doing a few stretches but apart from that haven't been out of the house. Family and telly. City at home tomorrow, and as I live about 5 miles from the KC Stadium, it's a good hours walk but one I enjoy, listening to the build up on the radio, watching the rest of the crowd making their own way until evenyually you are part of a throng. Expecting well over 20,000 tomorrow with a holiday feel about the place, just after a good away win, we'll probably lose 3-0......
         The walk home will be more difficult as it will be dark, cold, and I'm meeting a few mates in Zoological Pub for a couple of pints of guinness,  self imposed, no sympathy etc. On my beer scooter though, it doesn't seem to take long at all!
          I tell myself whilst I start the third pint that Guinness is high in Iron. Iron is important as it is used by the red blood cells to transport and store oxygen. A very important mineral although daily requirements are unusual as it is more for women than for men: 15mg for women whilst we need only 10mg. It comes in red meat and greens, especially spinach, and whilst you don't normally need to take supplements, I will be taking an extra amount in the run up to the Parish to counteract the extra training done. I probably don't have to, it's just another one of those psychological things that push you over the finish line. There is a lot of oxygen to be transported in those 85 miles!

         Dieting and water. (Sorry, got sidelined England 444or 5 at the close!)Now as we all know, the body is mostly made of water. It needs water to replace the water we use, and that's a lot. Of water. During sedentary periods we lose water through the lungs as you can see when you breath out during cold weather. During exercise your body loses more water through sweat as the body tries to stay cool. Water is used to transport nutrients and dispose of waste. Water lubricates the joints and tissues, and water is vital in digestion.
        Now, the fact is, you only have to lose 2% of your body weight in water to be de-hydrated, and unfortunately for us, the only time you know you are dehydrated is when it's too late. Your blood is largely water, and dehydration causes it to thicken and make the heart work harder to get the blood around, so uses more water to transport more oxygen as you're burning more calories, and its an ever inreasing situation which eventually results in dizziness, muscle cramps and major fatigue.
        Carry water around with you. The body requires water but has no way of telling us. As a consequence we can often feel hunger pangs which mean we require liquid instead of solids. This is a primeval urge from when we were hunter gatherers, and we got a lot of water from wild berries and fruits our ancestors used to eat. If you feel hunger pangs, try a drink first before food. After a while you get to tell what you really need, and that urge to nibble on something goes away, and helps towards the healthy eating in the process.
         There are a couple of ways to tell if you're getting enough liquid during and after exercise. The colour and amount of urine. Not enough, or it's too dark, drink more. The other is weight, as you lose water during exercise so weight pre and post exercise will vary and need to be replaced, although if you are taking in at least a couple of litres a day it should be more than enough.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

26th December 2010.

Trans Fats  and healthy eating.

        Trans fats, also known as hydrogenated fats and saturated fats, are a manufactured solid fat used in food manufacturing. It is created by introducing hydrogen atoms under pressure into the liquid oil or fat, either partially or completely saturating with hydrogen, creating a solid fat which increases shelf life and boosts taste, and also reduces costs. Baked products need a solid fat product to suspend other solids at room temperature. Unfortunately trans fats stay solid at body temperature, so are suspended in the body, and because of this, are difficult to break down. It’s been likened to injecting candle wax straight into the bloodstream. This in turn increases LDL (bad) cholesterol in the bloodstream, reducing HDL (good) cholesterol. The result when you eat saturated fats and the body can’t use the calories in them or break them down as waste is that they are dumped on the waistline.
         Banned in many countries, it is still widely used in the UK, and found in imported foods, especially in biscuits and pastries, but not limited to them. The label will say whether the product contains trans fats, but as a basic rule, anything pre prepared for human consumption will contain added rubbish used to either reduce costs, increase flavours or increase shelf life. Ready meals contain excess fat, salt, sugar or other things not good for the body. Put it this way, if you run a car on cheap petrol, with water and rubbish suspended in it, then the car will not run properly. The body is the same. Eat rubbish and you’ll feel lethargic, your immune system will not work properly, and you’ll gain weight. Getting up off the couch and going for a walk will seem like a chore.
       Unfortunately for the general public, the government had an option to ban trans fats altogether, but have decided to let the food industry self regulate, and it doesn’t have to show any amounts on the packaging. It doesn’t want food prices to soar, so turns a blind eye. This probably means that if a packaging states that a product has fat, including some saturated fat, it’s probably a larger portion worded nicely.
         So, my first piece of advice. Avoid anything pre prepared, frozen ready meals, pies, pastries, sauces, and tinned goods; if someone has manufactured it, then it has been made as cheaply as possible to last the longest time with little regard to health. Trans fats are still present in many, many products. A quick glance at the label in any food store will show widespread use. And virtually all fast food contains them. Even fish and chip shops using “healthy vegetable oil” can say this because hydrogenated fats are made from vegetable oil. I avoid them as much as possible, although I admit it is impossible to cut them out altogether.  Even if you are fit, if the bloodstream is full of fat, then there’s less room for oxygen. 
         It’s no coincidence that since the discovery of trans fats in the early 20th century, and the widespread use of them since the 1970’s, the rise of obesity in this country runs at an alarmingly parallel rate. 

       As I write, England have overtaken the Aussies 1st innings total of 98 all out. And if they win this test they retain the ashes. Nice.

        I’ve already bought a new diary for 2011. One thing I’ll be doing over the new year is writing down everything I eat and drink. It’s so easy to think you’ve reduced your calorific intake to below necessary daily levels, but then when weight goes up, wonder where it’s all going wrong! Be honest, write everything down, cup of tea, 80 cals, slice of toast with butter, 150 cals. Biscuit, 100 cals, they all add up. If you write them down, then it increases the guilty feeling, so you end up thinking, maybe I’ll not have that chocolate bar, it’s taking up 250 calories of my daily allowance. There are websites which show calorific and fat levels of every foodstuff, although I got a pocket sized book from Tesco for under 4 quid, the pocket calorie counter by Carolyn Humphries, which lists alphabetically, product, portion size, calories, carbs, fat content and fibre content. Any good bookstore should have a similar type book cheaply available.
         Men should have 2500 calories a day, women 1900, partly because women have a different metabolism. If you are exercising about 30 minutes a day, sticking to these rates, then you will lose weight. Avoiding white bread, processed sugar, fatty foods and other rubbish will make you feel better.
        One other thing. Don't weigh yourself every day. Don't bother with scales at all. It's how you feel, not overall weight. if you are exercising properly for the first time in ages, then you'll develop taut muscle, which is heavier and less bulky than fat, so weight can stay the same whilst fat is reducing. And, as an added bonus, every 3lb of muscle you add needs 250 calories a day just to survive.
The fitter you are, the more calories you burn! 

Friday, 24 December 2010

24th December 2010

      I got home okay, despite the country being covered in snow, the motorways were clear, and despite people crashing and jacknifing across the country, I managed a trouble free trip home. Despite this, I manage to get into my local, have a few drinks with a few friends, including my mates Arthur Guinness, and Jack Daniels, and managed to knock my knee in the pub. I don't know how exactly, just managed to wake up the next morning with a bruised knee, can't be straightened out, and any walking is to be slow and sure. So much for putting the car in the garage and waiting for next year!
     Christmas is a time for panic, last minute gifts, visiting relatives, getting things done, mainly lots of work to get one day out of the way. My "knee" injury means I have an unenforced rest, was meaning to get a 5 mile walk done each day, maybe will, see how it feels, but I was going to get an hour in each day only to keep myself fit. I have put a few pounds back on again, and one thing I mean to do before new year is to pass on how I managed to lose all the spare weight I gained. It's not a fly by night weight loss programme, just a sensible, common sense, and scientific way of losing weight whilst staying healthy.
     Going to enjoy christmas with my family now, have a few too many guinness, chocolates, chips, and other things that maybe I shouldn't, but then, what the hell, life is for living.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, 20 December 2010

20th December 2010.

         As I sit here waiting for the Tanker loading at the condensate berth to decide whether she will finish and sail on tonight's tide or, all pack up and sail tomorrow morning, I've been glancing through the blog so far. It seems to show someone that is obsessed with the Parish Walk, an impression I find a little embarrassing. True, I have an addictive personality, and have latched on the race walking probably a little more than is normally healthy, but I feel that it has given me a little success, I know people who I class as close friends because of my association with race walking, people who I otherwise wouldn't have known, and if I hadn't taken it up, would probably have used up my time in another way, video games, daytime t.v, stamp collecting or something else which meant I would have stayed overweight, unfit, and heading towards coronary meltdown. I enjoy it, it keeps me healthy, and contrary to how it may seem to some, doesn't take up all my time. My life isn't just work and walking. I like to visit the pub. I bought a guitar just after the 2009 End to End as a result of a drunken afternoon of what seemed like good ideas, and, on sobering up the next day, decided to learn to play it rather than go back to get a refund. (Granted, I can't play concert standard yet, but I'm pretty pleased with the results so far...) I like to cook, I'm a keen amateur genealogist, studying my own family tree back to the 1600's, (Still living in Yorkshire. I like to say that I've walked further in one day than my family travelled in over 400 years!) and helping others with their trees with the experiences I've had. I went to sea at 16, starting as a deck boy cleaning toilets and making cups of tea (I washed my hands first!) and decided I wanted to be Captain.
         I suppose this means that I have a stubborn nature rather than an addictive nature. If I find something I like doing then I want to do it the best I can. This is probably what pushed me over the line the first time when I wanted to stop, and what pushes me on.
         The Parish is a mental challenge, (Not in the "you must be mental to take up that challenge!" sort of way. Okay, maybe a little.) It is a challenge that shows how much you want to walk down the prom in the early hours of a June sunday morning. How much you want to prove, mainly to yourself, that you are good enough, physically and mentally, to complete one of the worlds toughest physical challenges. This goes some way to explain why the majority of finishers are not tough young fit athletic types, but mature, experienced people, who have lived a little and have faced challenges enough to have the mental push to say to themselves "I can get over this, persevere a little further" so they experience the virtually indescribable satisfaction of walking over the finish line and be able to say, "I stood up to the challenge and won, and by doing this, I've pushed my personal boundaries and made myself a better person."

      Not good. The Tanker will now sail at 10am tomorrow (Tuesday 21st Dec). It's my final job of the year, and I was hoping to get away in the morning for the 200 mile journey through the snow to be with my family at christmas. Too late to get home safely tomorrow, try Wednesday.
       Don't travel unless you have to. Ha! No choice!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

18th December 2010

Lactic tolerance training.

Had a couple of e-mails asking what I mean by lactose tolerance levels. Firstly, got that wrong. Lactose intolerance is intolerance to milk products, sorry!
It's Lactic tolerance, and an explanation goes some way to explain why we have to train in the first place.
       When you exercise, the heart carries oxygen to the muscles where it is used, then afterwards the residue in the muscles is carried away in the form of Lactic Acid, again in the bloodstream and away as waste. As you exercise more, then a greater amount of lactic acid is produced and has to be carried away, and to do this, the heart beats faster to pass more blood into the muscles. At a certain point, more lactic acid will be produced than the body can deal with. This means the blood can't circulate fast enough and not only does the bloodstream become unable to deal with the excess waste, but the same bloodstream cannot deliver the oxygen needed to the overworked muscles.
      This can be explained by the feeling when you are walking up a steep hill at speed. At a certain point, you will start gasping for breath and feel burning in the muscles. This is because the muscles signal to the brain that it isn't getting the required oxygen, so the brain responds by signalling the lungs to work harder, hence the gasping and if you keep going, the dizziness as the lack of oxygen means the brain isn't getting enough. When exercising, a heart rate monitor can show this point the heart rate becomes unable to cope.
       Cardio training can improve this. The heart is the main muscle in this case, and as with all muscles, it can be strengthened. Constantly doing cardio training can increase the strength of the heart which can push more blood round the system and deliver more oxygen. Say for example, you feel tired when you heart rate is 120, you have to slow down. As your heart strengthens it increases to 130, 140 etc, as the circulation system becomes more efficient.
       Benefits include a cleaner bloodstream, as cholesterol is reduced and waste products are taken away more efficiently, a more efficient heart, resting heart rate comes down as it doesn't need to work as hard. Less energy used  as the body is not working so hard so performance is more efficient and less food has to be taken, and quicker recovery times. Stride up Ballikillowey and when you get to the top you can stride away quicker rather than spend ten minutes waiting for the heart rate to come down again.
       So, a Cardio session or two a week in your training will improve fitness, recovery and efficiency, something we all need to get to our target church!

       I'm typing this as I listen to Hull City on the internet, couldn't get to this weeks match. New owners who have paid off over £20 million in debts, and a 2-0 win.

    Come on you tigers! 

Friday, 17 December 2010

17th December 2010.

Sat at work waiting for a ship to finish loading and surfing the web, (slang for bored?) passing the time. Had a job this morning and finished about 8ish, and got another one this evening, so had a few hours to spare, a couple of us packed some butties and a flask and drove round to Black Coomb, the most South Westerly of the mountains here. 600 metres, 1950 feet, and quite steep depending on which direction you approach it from, and with a chill NE wind, the steep option was the warmer, more sheltered one. If you look across from Douglas prom it is the closest, and first from your right.
Steep ascent, Barrow and Walney Island in the background.
Parked up at Whitbeck church (had a strange urge to run across and touch the church gate!) and pushed on. it seems this is about the only place in Britain which doesn't have snow today. Took an hour or so to get to the top, burning calves and quads, and a good Cardio workout. Minus two at sea level, in the chill NE wind it was minus 10 C at the top! Had to change t-shirts, which was brisk to say the least but necessary as you sweat on the way up but not on the way down, liable to freezing, not very comfortable. Also had the unusual feeling of sweating into my wooly hat which then froze to my hair, next time I must remember to take a spare hat or two.

Lunch at the summit, Scafell with snow on top in the distance.

Snow is coming, so don't know how much walking we can do over the next few days, I suppose we have to make the most of it. I'm just hoping the motorways are clear next Thursday so I can make it home.
Good luck to everyone taking part in  the Islands winter season 10k on sunday, don't forget to warm up!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

15th December 2010.

     Had some news today, while I was due back in Hull for good next week, it now seems that the Walney windfarm extension has come on a pace, and whilst I will be going back until the end of February, I'm needed here, so will be back until summertime, so while I'll be home and picking up on the coaching and Yorkshire winter league 10k's, the fine training ground of the lake district will be available for me to prepare for 2011. If it all goes well, I'm considering the roubaix 28 hour race, but that's in the future.
     Here in Barrow, the weather has been fine for the time of year, good walking weather, so I've got in at least 10 miles a day on the good hilly climbs. The weather has been especially clear, the island looks spectacular from the top of the nearby hills with the sun setting behind it. I usually get across to visit my father before christmas, but we're a little busy here with the current windfarm trying to catch up on schedule and a new nuclear submarine, HMS Ambush, due for launch on monday, it's been all go. Hoping to get a week across in January, pack some butties and a flask and do the Douglas to Peel section, for fun as much as training. Some of my favourite views are on the south of the island, I usually stop for a while at Tom the Dippers and watch the steam train making it's way southwards. Something you can't really do when you are racing against 1700 others...
     One problem with taking part so often in the Parish is that you make so many friends, people with a similar outlook on life. Whereas before I nipped across for a couple of days, saw my niece and my father, then went home, it now means I have to make it a week, to get out for a beer and a chat with everyone. Wouldn't do to come across and leave anyone out!
      Got to take advantage, while I'm across, to visit Dawne Watson, who has the Revive in Peel, which has become a bit of a superstition of mine. She does a fine sports massage, and gives me a chance before every Parish and End to End to get rid of all my training knots, kinks and injuries. It's surprising how tense and worked up the muscles get with constant training, and I must admit she has magical hands. I had a minor quad strain before last summers Parish which I thought would give me a problem and which after a visit to Dawne gave me no trouble at all. She hails from Ulverston as well, which is a massive coincidence, but gives us plenty to talk about. I thoroughly recommend an occasional sports massage to anyone putting in the miles before the Parish, sometimes what you think are injuries that could slow you down can be put right by a good sports masseur.
     A day off, or at least a day on stand-by, tomorrow, so hopefully a chance to pick a mountain I haven't been up yet. I'm lucky as I don't have a nine to five job, get lots of time off, and can take advantage. For anyone contemplating the Parish, the finest piece of advice I can give, is that nothing beats putting the miles on the road. You can't walk 5 miles each weekend and expect to do 85 miles in one day. get up an hour earlier and put in 5 miles each morning. It gets the blood circulating, releases good endorphins, gets the oxygen to the brain before the rigours of the day, and gets the metabolism into gear, burning calories long after you have finished the walk.
Dawne, at her usual middle table, after the 2010 End to End.

If you're not enjoying it, the training isn't fun.

Monday, 13 December 2010

13th December 2010.

Learned my hamstring problem in my right leg which has kept my walking down to a minimum over for the last few weeks is not a hamstring problem at all! When I've been walking I've slowed up as the pain started, to ease off and give it a chance. It never seemed to get better, although at the same time didn't get worse. When the pain started down my calf though, I seeked help. It seems now that it is a sciatic problem, and with manipulation, stretching, yoga and massage will right itself. This gave me an opportunity to get out and put a few miles on over the weekend, especially taking advantage of the mild spell, and with high water in Barrow during the early afternoon, I've been able to walk to work and back for the last three days, 60 plus miles altogether, metabolism kicking off again, a few pounds dropped that had crept on and feeling much better. Because I've just been doing gentle walking the muscles have had a much better rest than I would normally have allowed, which is an advantage. All the injuries I got over last summer, hamstrings, groin strain, abdominal and the blisters have pretty much healed, so gently picking up and strengthening again, hopefully learning from last years mistakes.

The cold snap is due to return soon, and even though I feel fine I won't be walking into work today. Rest is just as important as training, so protein shakes, ginger tea and car to work today, even though, as I sit in the traffic jam, I'm wishing I was walking!  
No partucular reason for this one, I pass this horse on the way to work near Dalton, it just looks like it has a blonde wig and ginger moustache. Makes me smile, wondering whether the horse is in hiding, or the owner is just trying to make it look prettier...

Sunday, 12 December 2010

12th December 2010.

2007, My first Parish.

My first day’s “training” involved walking to Hull city centre from my home, a distance of about 4 miles, buying new trainers, shorts and a rucksack, and then walking home. Then 4 days rest because my muscles had seized up, and I was chaffing in places that don’t bear thinking about. During this waiting time I applied for the race and started planning for the date nearly six months away. Someone suggested doing it for charity. I wanted an incentive, something to give me a goal which means I had to carry on rather than getting fed up and packing in at the first inopportunity, so picked two. The Humber Inshore Lifeboat which was associated with work, and Macmillan Cancer Support, which my mother had supported herself when diagnosed with cancer in 1995, a cancer which finally took her in 1999. It was to be a long and happy association with Macmillan which still continues to the present day, not only sponsorship for my walking, but volunteering for any other thing a could do because I saw what a remarkable charity it is. One of the things I did was help to set up the Annual Humber Bridge walk which raises tens of thousands of pounds every year. I had my goal and reason for continuing with the race. Once I had my sponsorship I realised I was going to make over £50 a mile, and whenever there were thoughts about stopping, it was a case of one more mile and another £50 first. An excellent incentive to continue.
          Training was haphazard, just walking 3 or 4 times a week. A 5 mile circuit around North Hull took about an hour and a quarter. A weekly walk to Beverley, about 7 miles away, packed lunch, then walk home. Once a month a circuit around Hull stopping in at relatives for a cuppa, totalling about 20 miles. My diet changed a little, stop the fried breakfast and substitute with cereal, and cutting down (a little) on beer. Proper training, or so I thought. I crossed to the Island for the TT in June, something I’m glad of as I managed to see Joey in his final race from one of my favourite vantage points at Quarterbridge. I also packed a few sandwiches and drinks and set off one morning with a map of the Island and confidence from Douglas and walked the course through Santon, Ballasalla, up the sloc to Peel. Just over 9 hours and nearly run over several times on the sloc by the thousands of bikes that had invaded the island. And one incredibly blistered heel that saw it nearly hanging off like a flip flop! 3 weeks before the race…
          It healed quite well, and made me rest before the day arrived. I was down to just under fifteen and a half stone, blood pressure down, 10 year back problem cured (weak back muscles) and Cholesterol down to near normal levels. I had lost a couple of chins and people were mentioning how well I looked, always good for the ego.

         The race itself was a day to remember. I really underestimated the whole concept of 85 miles, but as a mid pace walker was constantly surrounded by others, chatting to anyone near the same speed. At the bottom of the sloc I bumped into Bertie Convery, and we chatted all the way to Peel, the whole thing passing without really noticing. She stopped for 5 minutes at Peel and I carried on, regrettably now as she stopped shortly after with a hip problem. Sorry Bertie, maybe if I’d have waited it would have been different and you’d have finished.
         One thing she asked was “How far are you going?” a question a few others asked as well. A question which surprised me as it had cost me hundreds of pounds to even get to the start line and the whole thing was a physical and mental challenge to prove I wasn’t turning into some couch potato. I had set off with the finish line in mind from the very start. When I told them this, there were a few wry smiles and shakes of the head.
Heading through peel, just after leaving Bertie.
      At Ballasalla I had got a stone in my left shoe which had lodged in between my big and second toe, it was only by taking pain killers that I managed to ignore it. Stupidly I thought that it was only an irritation which could be ignored. Coupled with the pain in the leg muscles, back, and, surprisingly, shoulders, I was pretty downhearted between Jurby and Bride. As it also started raining, it seemed that it was taking forever. It was nearly nine in the evening when I finally clocked in at the top of the island, getting dark. Helen managed to get me a cup of tea, made by some still unthanked Bride resident, and one of the finest cuppa’s I’ve ever tasted. With a change of clothing and shoes; seeing with mild shock the blackened second toe. “Oh, that’ll fall off!” Helen casually mentioned while picking up my socks with a stick. More pain killers and off. The walk south was easier to Ramsey, then the worst part came. Climbing up to Maughold in the dark and rain, then up to the Hibernian. Nearly thinking of giving up a few times, but Helen was calculating that I was ahead of schedule, well withn the 24 hours, and keeping me going. Robbie Callister had long since finished and was probably tucked up in bed, but for me it was a way to go. It was here I found myself walking just behind Irene Taggart and Michael Bonney, which helped as I had no idea where I was. Tiredness was setting in so we talked sparingly, just encouraging and re-assuring there wasn’t far to go.
     The pain was unbelievable, cramping up legs and back, but I realised that you only get one chance with this. I knew that now I’d taken on the Parish, I had to finish it. I had less than a quarter of the race to go, and, unusually at the back of my mind, I was sadistically enjoying myself. Not the pain, but the fact I was taking on an unbelievable challenge, the sort of thing you only read about. I didn’t know where I was. In the dark and confusion I was pretty ignorant to how far I had to go. Helen was being vague, with a lot of “not far to goes” and “Nearly there’s” which helped, but, as anyone who has finished will tell you, the moment yyou come round Port Jack onto the Prom and the pain vanishes.  

     Walking over the finish line I was guilty of uttering those immortal Parish words, probably uttered by all first time finishers;-

     “Never again!”

     The marshal who was taking off my dibber, glanced up, looked me in the eye, smiled and said “Oh yes you will.”

    21h 30m 7s, half five on a drizzly june sunday morning, wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

     I was severely cramped up, Helen drove me back to Peel and stood laughing as I spent half an hour getting out of the car an “walking” into the house. I was dehydrated, cold to the bone, sick,  I ended up lying on an inflatable mattress on the floor for two days unable to eat properly, having to plan toilet breaks an hour in advance.
     And I had a smile on my face nothing could wipe off.
     The presentation night saw me hobbling, and I was determined to make it onto the stage, although the few steps up were almost as difficult as doing the whole 85 miles done 2 days before. My father came along which made me proud. One thing I did mention to Helen, as I sat there with my trophy watching the top ten go up for their trophies. “If I’m going to get any better, I’m going to have to lose a lot more weight and train properly.”
     People ask, if your house was on fire and the family were safe, what would you go in and rescue? Without a doubt it would be my Parish trophies, all irreplaceable, the hardest thing I’ve ever worked for.

Presentation, June 2007, with Robbie Callister, race winner.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

9th December 2010.

I'd just like to take this opportunity to congratulate Brother Centurion C1080, otherwise known as Bernie Ball, on her news about the London Marathon. I know she is thrilled to be going to London, and especially to be taking part in such an auspicious event for her first marathon. I know she is a dedicated athlete and will do her very best. Well done, and enjoy the training!
Myself and Bernie, Colchester, August 2010. Dedication... and an idiot grinning at the camera!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Wednesday 8th December.

Finally got home a couple of days ago, although not much walking to be done with over a foot of compacted snow covering the city. Still, got two good hours of Cardio and upper body work done and was left feeling aches in the back and shoulder muscles after shovelling a foot thick ice off the paths around the house and up to the garage. An hour's race walk practise on the treadmill, (had it a couple of years now, got it second hand off ebay - seems to be the popular option!) and lots of stretching, been a good day. The treadmill is opposite the telly which makes it popular with the wife and girls. It does get a lot of use but only walking which doesn't impact on the machinery so it'll last so much longer. The race walking seems to be getting more comfortable now, although keeping the treadmill to 6mph for the moment. My coach said it's all about muscle memory, a bit like a golf swing. It's unnatural but after enough practise it becomes second nature, although I hope I have more success with my race walking than my golf swing!
Just got a couple of months supply of C.L.A in the mail. C.L.A, or Conjugated Linoleic Acid, is a natural amino acid normally found in beef and lamb fed from grass rather than feed, and in trace amounts in other foods. It is the main natural amino acid that burns fat to convert to the right energy to increase muscle mass although the body only has enough for a moderately active life. It works best in an exercise, balanced diet regime and is becoming popular amongst sportsmen. It does mean that during longer training sessions more fat is burned and stays off, and muscle mass is increased. (density and core rather than bulk amongst runners and walkers.) All good, and all healthy, although not a good idea for athletes with low body fat count. I'm not one of these, I only have to walk past a chippy to put a couple of pounds on!
Going for a swim and gym session tomorrow, need to do a lot more cross training this year, although I don't run... at all. I don't find it comfortably bouncing along, too high impact, so I don't bother. Maybe I'll have a go in the spring, but as I said earlier in the blog, only do it if you enjoy doing it. If I have to force myself to go out running it'll be defeating the object.

Hull's drive to get people walking. Pretty posters. Does it work?

Sunday, 5 December 2010

5th January 2010

Looking at photo's of this mornings Peel to Douglas walk, wishing I'd been there. Had a 10k with Yorkshire Race Walking Club planned this morning which is why I hadn't come across for it, but York is still under 3 feet of snow so cancelled. Almost phoned Steam Packet yesterday but thought P2D would have been iced off as well.
For anyone who has done it this morning and achieved their target, well done, and I can pass on one of my tips:
Ginger tea. Dice up a piece of ginger root about the size of a stock cube into small as possible pieces, put into a saucepan in about a pint of boiling water and simmer for ten minutes. Pour into a cup with a couple of spoons of honey, stir and drink, and eat the ginger. The ginger has a few properties, post exercise it reduces inflammation of the muscles and joints, reducing pain and helping speed up recovery. It also helps digestion (I'll have a couple of bottles of iced ginger tea with me during the Parish), assists rehydration, helps fight germs which cause colds and flu amongst others, is scientifically proven anti carcinogenic... and is an ideal hangover cure!
Oh, and if you're off on the ferry, it prevents sea sickness.


Saturday, 4 December 2010

4th December 2010.

Still stuck in Ulverston instead of with the family, not good.
Got an e-mail from a friend of mine, one with a sports ph/d so he can talk the talk, who'd glimpsed through the blog. His interpretation was that I was training for next year already (I'm not) and this was not good. What he basically said was that walking was good, obviously, not full on 5 to 6 mph training, just gentle strolls to keep in healthy shape. Anyone considering the Parish for the first time should be changing their diet and considering weight at the moment, which means healthy and natural foods, and enough exercise that more calories burned then taken in. Two or three good walks a week, and lose any excess weight gradually with more success in keeping it off. Remember, any spare pounds you are carrying have to be carried for 85 miles. To feel the effect, walk 10 miles with just drinks, then another day do the 10 miles again with 5lb potatoes in a rucksack. Notice the difference.
Myself, I am a few pounds heavier than last summer, one of the things I did wrong was peak in fitness march/april time and keep it up for the summer months, ending in all kinds of injuries cropping up. The professor at Hull Uni advised me that fitness should be allowed in peaks and troughs, it's when the body is coming down and resting that any damage to the joints and muscles repair themselves.
I am doing some 10k races through the winter, although mainly using these to hone my race walking technique. I'm putting the full on walk now, and my coach is also walking in these races so he can keep an eye on me. Not too quick at the moment, breaking the hour mark, which is slower than my old walk, but with a few months practice hopefully it'll become more natural and I should speed up.
So, build up the training slowly, diet, cardio, and just gradual improvement, trying to peak in June, at the right time. Fingers crossed.

Friday, 3 December 2010

December 3rd 2010.

Well, it's finally started snowing here, had half an inch last week but it's mainly been icy with the glass falling below zero for the last few days. Not good weather for walking to say the least as any slip on an icy patch could bring an instant groin strain, hamstring, or worse, going right over and breaking something. This does mean that I can't go back home to Hull this weekend, don't want to risk spending a couple of days in a snowdrift on the M62.
        Walking is more productive in this weather though, the minus temperatures make the body burn more calories just to maintain temperature, and walking on ice makes you walked tensed up as if your feet are clinging on to the floor. Good for tightening the leg muscles...
     Anyway, went up the hills last week and didn't get far before slipping, no damage, but had to turn back. Take no risks. Walked to work a couple of days ago along the A590 and through the towns which were relatively clear. Today, with the proper snow, gave me a chance to get out and burn some calories off. Over the top of the Furness peninsula, a total climb of about 1000 feet and round the undulating hills back to Ulverston. No cars could get up there so had the hills to myself. 8.5 miles altogether in 2hrs 25, not a bad speed for the conditions, and had that muffled silence that comes with snowfall, making it eerily distracting. Started on the plans, in my mind at least.
      Other years I've not planned any training or preparation, just gone out when I could, and walked. Whether distance, just to the shops, or up hills, whichever was available. Now that I'm entered and committed to the race there is no excuse for not being ready.
1. Cardio. The heart is the most important muscle in the body, as it transports the oxygen to the muscles, and transports all the waste away. The higher the lactose tolerance levels, the more power is available.
2. Distance. The muscles have to be used to walking long distance non-stop. This is only achieved by walking regularly for long distances, non-stop. Can't skimp on this...
3  Diet. This breaks down into what I'm eating all the time, which is basically healthy and varied, what I need for training, and what preparation and food for the race itself. I burnt over 14,000 calories in the 2010 race, all had to be taken in, or found somewhere.
4 Core. Gym work to help the muscles, especially upper body, back and stomach, which are all important in race walking and posture. Got a set up at home, just need to start using it.
5, Equipment. I have a chance now to do all this properly having learned a great deal last year. I made some mistakes, which is good, as they then become "Learning opportunities!" (Spent too much time talking to management at work I think...) This includes clothing and shoes, and also the bootful of junk which gets carried around the 85 miles with me.
6 Coaching. This I can do now as I've been put in touch with a good coach by Yorkshire Race Walking Club. I've started to learn how to race walk properly, which should improve on my quick stomp style of walking which was fast, but wasted energy and caused damage. It can only help.
7. Winner's speech..... Haha, only kidding. Got a feeling a lot of good walkers are going to be in this one. I only hope I make a decent effort and can wake up sunday morning after the race satisfied with my days work.

I'd like to say thanks for the encouraging comments so far about the blog, If I can help anyone then all well and good. I was overweight, had a back problem since my early thirties, was developing high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and was a medium to high risk of heart trouble. These things I thought were normal for my age, yet have all since gone. The back problems were caused by weak muscles, and vanished after 3 months training. Everything else cleared up, and I now have a standing heart rate of 55 to 60. My life has changed so much for the better, and best of all I've discovered a new sense of adventure that has me not only walking in stunning surroundings like the photo above, but enjoying it. Walk briskly enough and it's not even cold.
Anyone can do it, middle age infirmity is far from inevitable, easily preventable. And Jimmy Bullard plays top class football even though his knees were so bad they had to replace them with somebody elses!

Happy training.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

1st December 2010

The day's finally arrived, the steam engine firing the website was turned over and filled with coal, and it started up just before midnight. Tried to get in first but somebody beat me to it! Last I looked there were a dozen or so.
It's all real now, so much more for me doing this than in previous years. Before it was at the back of my mind training but always mentally shrugging and saying maybe, maybe not, before finally entering around easter and admitting it's going to happen. This year I'm in from the start.
Walked  to work and back today, 10.3 miles each way. Safer than driving in this ice... Well wrapped up it was quite enjoyable, just a few icy patches to tread carefully over. Also nipped in to Holland and Barrett for two drums of banana whey protein shake mix. Half price until tomorrow, got to take advantage so got 2. Banana milk shake that's good for you! Nice.
Anyone out there who hasn't entered yet, you'd better hurry, closing date will be here before you know it!