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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

How to Lose a Belly When You're 44 (part 23)

I managed to put 3 pounds of flab back on over the last fortnight.  Maybe these posts should be called How to Maintain a Beergut When You're Middle-aged?
Anyway, it's the first day of the Easter holiday (I have the best job in the world) so I did a bit of boring stuff around the house, put some items up for sale on eBay, and eventually got out for a run. I managed to keep going for just over 3 miles when I found myself slowing to a walk. I had an overpowering feeling of "I just can't be arsed." My legs were aching, I was far too hot and it was one of those times when I lose sight of why I'm training in the first place. I soon got back up to a run but it wasn't long before I was walking again! I carried on like that for the rest of the four and a half miles - yes, I didn't even bother completing the 10K.
Needless to say, I had a beer and felt sorry for myself while making dinner.

I cycled in to work to get some stuff done.
By the time I got to work, my injured arm was throbbing. Sitting at my desk, it was hard to concentrate because of the ache. The shoulder is definitely getting worse, and I don't know why.
I got some exams marked, planned a lesson and then cycled home in a drizzle of rain.
Tonight's session in the dojo was a good one. We started with one of Sensei Russell's proper warm ups and then I volunteered to help some youngsters get through a mock grading. As always, I was impressed by Sensei Gary's ability to inspire (and control!) a group of children. I was eventually put in charge of a group of 5 young people who immediately started to lose focus! I was very glad when Sensei Russell took charge of them!
I got to join in with some mawashi geri pad work before going through a new kata - Bassai Sho.
Martha and I collected Mouse from Rose's house before heading home for fishcakes and green beans with two bottles of stout.

Dodgy Debbie's birthday.
When she arrived, I dropped her and Lucy off at the train station and then went home for some soup. An hour later, I rode off into the glorious sunshine. It was at least 17 degrees with hardly any wind. I was wearing bib shorts instead of tights - my first bare legs ride of 2019! I rode 32 miles with a stop at the bench in Ullenhall. It was the kind of ride that is good for soul as well as the body. The English countryside is beautiful in the warm spring sunshine, and in the silence I felt more in touch with the rhythms of my body, and my body felt more in touch with the rhythm of the bike...
I did my best to keep the pace high but eventually finished with an average speed of 14.8mph. Not too bad, although I did have an average of 15.6mph after 20 miles as I went through Wootton Wawen.
In the evening, after finishing watching all of the first season of One Punch Man with Mouse, I collected Debbie and Lucy from the train station and stayed up late partying with them until the small hours of the morning...

Wasted day. Hungover on the couch.

I walked the dogs and then rearranged the man cave.

The hounds in the park

Lucy had me doing a bit of work in the backgarden - I managed to hang three mirrors on the wall of the house facing the garden. They look nice.

Drilling into housebricks requires some protection...


I considered going along to the dojo today. The club was running contests for the kids and handing out chocolate. However, it was 22 degrees and sunny outside so I couldn't face being indoors. I washed my bike in the sunshine on the drive with Montydog helping. I discovered that the back wheel may have some dodgy bearings -it doesn't make a nice noise when freewheeling.
Then I returned to the back garden to read comic books (Avengers vs Thanos from 1973) and drink a beer. I stayed up until 11:30 to meet Martha from work.

Jonnie, Roger and I set off on our bicycles at 9am. It was warm enough for just one layer so I had decided to wear my newest piece of cycling gear - the Saddle Black jersey which I had received as a Christmas present. I was feeling good and we kept the pace high. It was a glorious morning and we had an average of 15.5mph when we arrived at Wilmcote for cake.

The new jersey - my favourite beer!
As we consumed tea and homemade cake in the sunshine, we discussed our options - take a longer route back at a leisurely pace, or take our usual route but try to keep the average above 15mph. We decided to go for the fast option!
We were all up for the challenge and we even had a bit of a tailwind to help us along! Roger was in good form and did a lot of work at the head of our little group. Eventually, he dashed off the front to inspire us up the hills. I worked with Jonnie to keep our pace above 15mph. By the time we had conquered Tom Hill, it was obvious we were going to meet our target and stay above 15mph. I suggested to Jonnie that we could try for 15.5mph which I know is his best for this route and would be a new record for me. We put our heads down, got the bikes up over 20mph and managed to get back to his place with an average speed of 15.5mph over 40 miles. Job done!
In the afternoon, Lucy, Martha and I joined Jane and Eric back at Jonnie's place to celebrate Easter together. There was plenty of eating and drinking and we sat outside in the lovely weather. Dave and Becky came to join us as the sun went down. What a splendid end to the first week of my Easter holiday!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

How to Lose a Belly When You're 44 (part 22)

Weight: 10st 0lbs
Blood Pressure: 136/67
Resting Heart Rate: 58
I cycled in to work and back, ate healthily, didn't drink any alcohol, but didn't do any exercise either.

Weight: 10st 1lb
Blood Pressure: 144/ 72
Resting Heart Rate: 53
I cycled in to work, didn't eat junkfood, didn't drink booze and went along to do some Karate.

Weight: 10st 0lbs
Blood Pressure: 131/69
Resting Heart Rate: 51
I cycled in to work. After lessons had finished, I went to join in with Mr Roger's interval training in the college gym. We did a dumb bell circuit that lasted over an hour! Mr Roger is a little older than me but has trained himself to be incredibly fit. He was throwing 16kg dumb bells around during many of the exercises he had us doing. I tried my best to try to keep up but the heaviest I could manage was 10kg for most of the techniques. Somewhere in the back of mind I knew that 10kg was still too heavy for me - the dumb bell exercises I do at home use 8kg and 6.5kg weights...
Towards the end for the circuit, I was trying to perform a set of Turkish get ups. I was struggling with the weight, my muscles already tired and shaky after all the other exercises I'd done. As I forced myself upwards I felt a familiar pain in my right arm. It seems I'd aggravated an old injury from last year.
So what did I do? I forced myself, injured, to carry on with the circuit.
Needless to say, I'd now damaged myself but I didn't yet realise quite how badly my arm was injured...
I cycled home to eat healthily and avoid alcohol.

Weight: 10st 1lb
Blood Pressure: 137/70
Resting Heart Rate: 55
I cycled to work and back and then went out for my weekly 10K run. I returned home in a time of 64 minutes and 37 seconds. I ate healthily but did let myself have a couple of beers after dinner.

Weight: 10st 1lb
Blood Pressure: 138/74
Resting Heart Rate: 56
I cycled in to work and back.
It was grading weekend at Ruach Karate but I'm nowhere near ready to claim my black belt. Instead, I decided to do a lifting session.
I started with a set of 6 front raises using dumb bells. There was the sickeningly familiar shooting pain in my right arm, just at the top of the arm, roughly where the triceps meet the deltoid - the same pain as I had experienced during Wednesday's circuit training!  After completing this set, I performed 9 barbell curls. So far so good. But when I went to complete my second set of raises, the right arm didn't want to move - it was weak and even a little numb. I swung it up to get it moving and somehow completed the set. I followed this with 9 more curls.
When I went to complete the third set of raises, the arm was useless. It felt just like I'd slept on it and it was now a 'dead arm' as we used to say as kids. I tried to think positively, to not see my muscles wasting away because I couldn't train anymore, to not see me having to wait another year before trying for black belt, but I couldn't do it. My mental strength, as well as my physical strength, wasn't enough. So I dumped the weights down and I spent the rest of the evening feeling sorry for myself.

Weight: 10st 0lbs
Blood Pressure: 136/68
Resting Heart Rate: 54
Today, Jonnie, Roger and I were trying a new route on the bicycles. I'd spent at least two hours in the man cave this week plotting the way on Google maps. I then wrote out the directions in note form using my smallest handwriting on a rectangle of card that fits inside my cycling jacket front pocket.
The first part of the route was an abridged version of High Cross. It meant that we were approaching Snitterfield after just 13 miles. The weather was bright but cold and we had a gentle crosswind coming from the east as we headed south.
However, instead of heading into Snitterfield, we continued south. This meant negotiating the A46 - the least enjoyable section of the new route! We had to travel along this very fast and busy road for 700 metres before turning off into a country lane. It was a hair raising experience as traffic roared past us at the national speed limit! We continued south to Hampton Lucy.
Unfortunately, the roads were a lot busier than I'd anticipated. It was a Saturday after all, and it was the type of village that would attract tourists on a sunny day like today. So, mindful of the traffic, we turned west after Hampton Lucy and carried on along National Cycle Route 41.
Eventually, the traffic lessened, the lanes got quieter and we really began to appreciate the day, especially as we now had a tailwind helping us along! We had to negotiate a couple of busy trunk roads but they were worth the trouble to get to the excellent cycling to be had south of Stratford Upon Avon.
We found a bench in Lower Quinton and had some snacks. 

After a brief rest, we climbed back on the bikes and headed for Binton. We kept a steady pace back up the Binton bends (achieving silver cups on Strava for our efforts!) and were glad to get to Wilmcote for hot tea and homemade cake. Unfortunately, the cakemaker was out running a jumble sale at the village hall, but I did a good job of being the waitress!
With only fifteen miles to go, we set off again at a tremendous pace. However, it was soon clear that my legs weren't up to the task and I found myself hanging on at the back. My injured right arm was now throbbing and it was an effort just to lift it to indicate that I was turning. I suffered for about twelve miles until we eventually rolled into Jonnie's drive with a frustrating 13.9mph average.
The bike said I'd completed the ride with an average speed of 14.0mph

The verdict on the new route: it is busier than we usually like our rides, maybe we should try it on a Sunday. It was very exposed in places and a strong wind would dramatically change the complexion of the route. The lanes and scenery are quite beautiful, however!
Our reward after the ride. Thanks, Jess!

In the afternoon, I built the first level of a huge raised bed in the back garden.
In the evening, the family returned to Wilmcote for dinner and drinks (although I stayed sober because I was driving.)


Weight: 10st 2lbs
Blood Pressure: 138/67
Resting Heart Rate: 54
So now I'm putting on weight too. I can't remember what I did on Sunday but it didn't involve exercise and it did involve alcohol.

The following week, I tried to deal with the fact that I was injured again.
And failed miserably.
Suffice to say, I drank more than I should, and ate things that I shouldn't.
The first bit of exercise I did (besides cycling to work and back every day) was my 10K run on Thursday. I surprised myself by setting a faster time than I had the week before. I managed to run the distance in 64 minutes and 1 second. This is still embarrassingly slow, but still better than my previous effort!
I went along to a fantastic Friday Karate session led by Sensei Ronnie Christopher. It was all kumite based and full of useful stuff for grading.
Saturday saw Jonnie and me cycling off into a cold but sunny morning on bone-dry lanes. We rocketed down the Widowmaker (I found my descending nerve today) and chatted our way to Featherbed Lane. We got ourselves a bit confused when we reached the Mary Arden Inn: Jonnie turned right to the cakestop but I was turning left towards Luddington! It transpired that Jonnie had 39 miles in mind whereas I was hoping for a 50 miler. We compromised at 45 miles by having tea and cake and then heading home via the Temple Purity route. Riding down the Average Destroyer on Croft Lane is a lot more enjoyable than riding up it - I managed to set my English speed record today (I think) of 34.9 mph. The only place I can go faster than that is on the way back from Happy Valley in Wales.
After the Purity Brewery, things got tough. We were against the wind and the terrain was very up and down. Jonnie and I met the task head on but the best we could manage was a 13.9mph average over 45 miles. Jonnie's Strava claims he did it in 14.0mph but he obviously hasn't got it set up correctly...
In the afternoon, I finished building the raised bed that I'd started the weekend before.
In the evening, the family set off to Wilmcote to meet Laura, Carl and their two girls. Ten people and three dogs all had dinner together and watched the Masters golf tournament on TV. I was the driver so I stayed sober.
On Sunday, Lucy put me to work filling up the raised bed in the back garden. This meant a trip to Jonnie's to fill up 4 bags with donkey manure followed by a trip to B&Q for more compost. It was when I lifted the first of the 125 litre bags that I was aware of the shocking pain in my left wrist. Oh joy, another injury...
Back at home, I lifted the lot from the car and into the back garden. This time, however, I was wearing my various straps including a weight lifting belt to support my back, an elbow support and a powerlifter's wrist strapping.
In the afternoon, after walking the dogs, I attended Sensei Ronnie's advanced class. I was lucky enough to be partnered with a 2nd Dan Black Belt for the evening. The lesson was entirely kumite based and I know that everyone came away with something useful for their own self-defence. Another great session.
Yes, my injuries bothered me, but I guess I just have to get used to being injured rather than hoping my injuries will go away now that I'm in my mid forties.
I went home to watch the end of Paris Roubaix and to get slowly drunk on Cava and real ale.

Monday, April 1, 2019

How to Lose a Belly When You're 44 (part 21)

Weight: 10st 1lb
Blood Pressure: 143/70
Resting Heart Rate: 56
I woke up feeling battered. I was a little sore from all the cycling yesterday, and also from the red wine! I couldn't face the bike so I drove in to work and back and then sipped three beers on the couch in the evening. Recovery day!
No exercise, no junkfood, 3 beers

Weight: 10st 2lbs
Blood Pressure: 144/71
Resting Heart Rate: 57
I cycled in to work and back.
Tonight's Karate session was a fantastic mix of kihon, kata and kumite. Sensei Gary took over towards the end and we went over some advanced kata techniques. We went through Kanku Dai which is a fantastic kata, one that I really should start to practise myself. (In fact, I'm going to do that right now!)
There was a healthy dinner waiting for me when I got home.
Karate, no junkfood, no alcohol

Weight: 10st 2lbs
Blood Pressure: 138/75
Resting Heart Rate: 51
I cycled in to work. Unfortunately, i was interviewing a student this evening so I couldn't attend MR Roger's interval training session. Instead, I cycled home and got stuck into some weight training. Tonight I worked through curls, side raises, military presses, shrugs, front raises and deadlifts, along with 300 bodyweight reps. I got it done in just under an hour and then, red faced and sweaty, sat down to have dinner with the family, Hydro, Cassie, Tilly's latest boyfriend and his mates!
Weight training, no junkfood, no alcohol


Weight: 10st 2lbs
Blood Pressure: 149/70
Resting Heart Rate: 50
I cycled in to work and back.
I went for a run tonight. I was pleased to find that I was breathing easy and not aching. I didn't push too hard but I did go a little faster than I have been lately. I managed to complete a 10K - the first time I've managed that distance since my ankle injury in October.
I got home for a glass of milk and a shower followed by a huge homemade dinner and three beers!
10K: 63 minutes, 31 seconds, no junkfood, 3 beers

Weight: 10st 2lbs
Blood Pressure: 150/71 or 123/80
Resting Heart Rate: 60 or 44
I was disappointed to see my blood pressure back up to 150 when I measured it after breakfast.
I cycled in to work using the heavy bike. It was a lovely sunny morning and I wore my thinner jacket to work for the first time this year.
Today, I was starting the "Improve your Fitness" unit with my first years at college. This meant that all of the kids had to weight themselves, measure their height, and record their resting heart rate and blood pressure. They had an excellent support assistant with them and I helped them through it by demonstrating. When it came to measuring my blood pressure in front of the class, I was very surprised to find it had dropped to 123/80 which is more or less ideal! It's the best result I've had this year! How strange! So it seems likely that my dozens of high blood pressure readings are a result of the time of day when I record them. Perhaps I shouldn't record my blood pressure immediately after breakfast? It's interesting to note that my resting heart rate was 60bpm after breakfast but had dropped to 44 after a bike ride to my busy classroom. I may try measuring my blood pressure in the evenings to see what results I get compared to my measurements after breakfast.
I cycled home to get ready for dojo.
Today's Karate session was run my Sensei Ronnie Christopher. He was the only instructor present and he had a huge class to deal with. There were too many of us to stand side by side in the room, we had to make two lines just to fit in!
There were two beginners tonight, an adult and his son. I was asked to supervise the adult for the session. I worked with him during basics, kata and a bit of one-step sparring. He was very tense and twitchy for the kumite and he blocked very enthusiastically. I think he may have given himself a few bruises! He did seem to enjoy it and I hope they'll both be back.
In the evening, I found myself in slob mode: I enjoyed two beers with dinner followed by two glasses of wine with Game of Thrones.
Karate, no junkfood, alcohol

Weight: 10st 2lbs
Blood Pressure: 129/73
Resting Heart Rate: 44
I got up at 6 with a banging headache. I had breakfast and aspirin and then practised a bit of Kanku Dai.
When I got round to measuring my blood pressure and resting heart rate, the results were much better than I expected! They were the best after breakfast results I've had this year!
I had a list of jobs to do, so after I dropped Lucy off at the train station I set about vacuuming, hanging washing out, cleaning my bathroom, tidying the man-cave, and fixing a wheelbarrow tyre. I stopped for egg and sausage on toast and to watch some cycling on Eurosport.
In the afternoon, I went along to the Saturday Karate session at the Village Hotel. As expected, I spent a lot of time working with the young ADHD learner which was good fun. There is actually some progress happening now. He can get himself into a lower block position and then do a half decent punch. However, he spent most of the time either bear-hugging me, punching me in the face (literally!) or sliding along on the floor between my knees!
Immediately after the session, Sensei Mark talked to me about grading. I was shocked to learn that my grading kata, which was going to be Jion, will now be changed to Kanku Dai! What a coincidence! I'd been practising it earlier today just for fun! I went through the kata with Sensei Mark and he wasn't at all impressed. I have until December 1st to put it right.
After training, I picked up Lucy from the station, we went food shopping and then I cooked a beef stir fry for the family.
I had to stay up until 11:47 when Martha got out of work. I didn't actually get to bed until 12:05am...
Karate, no junkfood, no alcohol

Weight: 10st 0lbs
Blood Pressure: 136/67
Resting Heart Rate: 58
The clocks went forward last night so I got an hour less in bed. I'd had about 6 hours sleep so it wasn't all that bad. I called for Jonnie and we cycled off into the lanes. Roger couldn't make it out today. We enjoyed a fairly nondescript ride along our Honiley route to Wilmcote. We chatted, rode against a fairly stiff cross wind, and rolled in at 14.1mph. The cake and tea were splendid.
The ride back was against the wind and Jonnie was still battling against the after effects of a bit of overindulgence last night. He fought on and, although we tried desperately to stay above 14 mph, we got back to base after 40 miles with a frustrating average speed of 13.9mph.
I got home to eat chicken legs (protein!) and do some ironing.
Later on, Lucy, Mouse and I went for dinner and homemade cheesecake at Wilmcote and to enjoy Liverpool defeating Tottenham on the TV.
Sunday night treat
Back at home, it was my turn to overindulge with beer and red wine while watching Game of Thrones. Hold the door!
Cycling, junkfood, alcohol