Long time, no writesy!

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It has been too long, old friend. So here’s the haps.

  1. My half marathon went reasonably well. I finished in 2 hours, 11 minutes and ten seconds. I could have finished faster, but I wanted to really enjoy it more than I wanted a fast time. I did enjoy it too. My music player crapped out right at the start so I spend almost the whole way round doing my running meditation breathing exercise, which felt really good.
    Only irritation was the super loud (wheezy breathing, jangly pockets) guy that seemed determined to get ahead of me and then slow down between 9 and 16 kilometres. I kept passing him (breathing slow, steady) which seemed to work his nerves. Whatever. I didn’t end up running or doing most of my training in my vibrams. I bought cheap-o replacement asics instead. C’est le shoe.
  2. I have continued to make thesis progress. I should be resubmitting it to the committee within a couple of weeks. Hopefully it won’t get knocked back this time. I don’t know what I will do if it does. Cry? Fight someone? Pack a bag and go wander along the camino de santiago for a month? I have already told my supervisors that I will NOT be rewriting it a third time and that if this all goes tits up that will be the end of it for me.
  3. It has been almost two years since I drew a regular wage because of all of the thesis complications and assholery, so I am living pretty much on the poverty line. This brings back very painful memories from my childhood, and is putting me right back in the dark mental places I used to be in. I broke one of my teeth from stress-grinding at night and I have been having nightmares and panic attacks. However, you can better believe that I can make a meal out 4 euros. Last night was `vaguely Mexican’, so I hand made 8 tortillas, a veggie and bean chilli business, and a bunch of brown rice. All very filling, with enough for leftovers and it only needed flour, oil, carrots, half a courgette (zucchini), an onion, brown beans (from dried instead of a tin), brown rice, and tomato paste, plus odds and ends of spices and seasoning. I might cost it all out to see exactly how much money that ends up being per meal… I will probably also be checking out Jack Monroe’s blog because she has a lot of good ideas and is obviously interested in helping people eat as well as they can with limited resources.
  4.  Immigration woes are still hanging over my head. I have until the end of the month to see if I have permission to stay in this country, but then the process to see if I can get permission to move to the UK begins. There is no real reason to believe that I won’t be granted permission to stay here, but the UK is far less certain. Also, I have no idea on how long either will take. Hopefully I will not be an illegal resident (again) and that permission to stay will be granted by the time the thesis business has wrapped up so that I can get a job and start bringing in the cash money.

Most of this sounds quite grim, and it is. I am not doing well. I write this blog to as an outlet. Let’s hope it helps.

I am working damn hard

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And it is paying off, for the most part. First, on a non-athletic front, the thesis is going well. The supervisors are confident that it can be published as a trade edition, meaning that it will be a proper book. Hopefully it will become a text book for some classes on complex adaptive systems, philosophy of science, modelling as a modern version of thought experiments, or sustainability science. We’ll see.

 

But on the athletic front, I have done some serious working out every day this week so far! I have carried on with the Spartan 30 day abs/core challenge, which today focused on hips and butt rather than abs. Not only it is important not to do the same thing everyday, it is important to not work the same area, so this was a nice change. I also did a few pushups, pull ups and dips, with weight offset for the pull ups and dips.

I jogged a slow and asthmatic 4K on Tuesday, ran a relatively slow 7.5K yesterday, and did a bit of interval training this morning. Tomorrow will be a no-running day to give me enough rest before my 10K race on Saturday.

And, since I know you are dying to see it, here is my belly. I took this photo in the gym after my morning workout. I feel like it is reassuringly flat, but not particularly muscular, or at least not visibly muscular. I have the rest of this month to change that.

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Back on track…

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So, my fitness plans have been pretty well derailed by a lot of stuff, only some of which is no bueno. For example, I have been laid low by the dreaded hay fever, which is triggering my asthma something terrible. Then, I travelled to Austria to see some friends get married, which means I ended up eating a hell of a lot of really rich food and drinking several metric ass-tons of alcohol that I would not normally have consumed. However, I had a great time and kept active while there with some swimming, biking, and hiking. Finally, I finished writing the final content chapter of my thesis (the crowd goes wild!) but had to put in some serious hours to get that done and dusted on time, which left little time or energy for the fitness plans.

 

But all of that is now behind me. I signed up here to receive a workout of the day in an email from Spartan races. They do those obstacle course type things, which I would love to try someday but there are none near me. I also signed up to do their 30 day challenge, which this month is about core and abs. So today’s combined workout was a 2 minute dynamic warmup, 10 minutes running, 1 minute burpees, 5 minutes running, 2 minutes burpees, 5 minutes running, 30 butterfly situps, 30 pushups, and 20 pullups with 20 kilos weight offset. I imagine that I will be feeling that soon enough.

 

Irritatingly, my sports bra managed to malfunction again, fortunately near the end of the running portion of the workout. One of the hooks on the back (and there are many, many hooks) came undone. It didn’t seem to affect my chestal stability too much, but meant I wasn’t totally relaxed for all of the running. Boo.

 

I think the six-pack abs challenge I have going with my colleague will have to end at the end of June rather than at the beginning because I am not prepared. By which I mean, I do not have six pack abs right now.

 

 

 

On another note, I also signed up to do a night time 10K race this weekend. I have never done one of those before, but it could be good fun. It is a Nike sponsored race, which means it costs a bit of money but tends to include a nice t-shirt and to have good facilities. Nike used to do one of my favourite races when I lived in Barcelona, so I am expecting good things.

Then there is the 14K race the week after. I don’t think I will have trouble running the distance, but it will be interesting to see what my time will be.

 

Right. Belly shot tomorrow, and I shall keep you posted on the daily workouts.

 

Keepin’ on keepin’ on.

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I have been particularly active so far this week, running twice and going to the gym in the morning twice too. I have also been especially good at doing core work on the RSI prevention breaks that my computer enforces, alternating between crunches one day and planks the next. My planks are now up to 1 minute and 10 seconds. Crunches are much easier. I hope to keep it up.

 

Yesterday my partner and I had planned to run 8K after he got home from work, but he called to say that a meeting had run long, making him miss a train, and that I should run on my own. Which I did.

 

I borrowed his GPS device so that I would have some idea of how far I had gone and how fast I was going, which reinforces my desire to get a proper GPS device for myself. I am looking at this all-singing, all-dancing new Polar one, coming soon. Of course, I could just buy the GPS unit that is compatible with the current Polar heart rate monitor/sport watch that I have now… and maybe a flow link to connect the whole business to the web to track data better over the long term… and maybe a new chest strap in small (or extra small) so the bastard thing will fit properly… but the new one is so… shiny!

 

Anyway, using the borrowed GPS device, I found that I actually ran 8.32K, in a reasonably fast time. This means that I am on track for the running plan I created for the 14K race in June. Friday is the next run, also 8K, and then a 12K on Sunday. I think I can do it. I can even do it without purchasing any new gear.

It’s the final countdown….!

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We are on the cusp of a new month, which is important because that month is the final month before the 6 pack abs challenge finishes. That’s right, June is the reckoning!

I am not really too worried about it though, for several reasons.

  • I am doing a reasonable amount of work on developing the core muscles. I can certainly feel the difference when I go running and I can see the benefits in my run times. My slow runs are at the speed that I used to do for my fast runs, and my fast runs are way faster than I ever thought I could do.
  • I am doing a reasonable job of controlling my food, in terms of quantity and quality. This is not to say that I don’t eat any chocolate (that way madness lies), but I am keeping it under control. I eat LOTS of veg every day, and quite often just have fruit (maybe with shredded coconut on top) when I need something sweet.
  • I am making good progress on all my other goals. For example, I just submitted a chapter to the supervisors last week. Hopefully, that was the last difficult chapter to write, so that I can get on with the difficult business of editing soon. Also, just this morning I achieved one of my other mini-fitness goals! 2K on the rowing machine in under 10 minutes (9:49 to be exact).
  • My partner and I signed up for a 14K race in mid June, which means that he will be motivated to train more, which makes it easier for me to train more too. For example, he suggested we go for an 8K run yesterday, when if it had been me alone I might have only done 5.

So there you have it. Here you also have the most recent belly shot, although this one is a week old. New one tomorrow!
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News! And olds.

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I have several things to share today.

  • First off, it seems like I have exercise-induced asthma. Bummer. But the inhaler seems to help and at least this means that I am not gasping for air and feeling like a panic attack for no reason at all. It also means that I am not wheezing and panting through some sort of serious heart related issue, which is a relief. You know, a doctor once looked at an Xray and told me I had a small heart. What am I, the Grinch?

I forgot to take my inhaler yesterday, so when I went to the gym I did a bit of gasping and realized how much better I felt on my runs over the weekend when I used the inhaler. It also makes a huge difference in heart rate since I was well up into the mid 180’s without the inhaler, but only mid to low 160’s with it. I have an appointment tomorrow to get a final diagnosis, but I am pretty sure the doc will just give me a refillable ‘scrip for the inhaler.

 

  • Second, since I did that 8K run with the vibram 5 fingers (my rubber gorilla feet shoes) I have had a bit of a twinge in my right calf. Not painful exactly, but a bit stiff, especially when I have been at rest for a while. It also seems to swell up when I am running, again, not exactly painful, but certainly a weird pressure feeling. I shall have to watch that carefully and be sure to stretch well.

 

  • Third, I took another body fat percentage reading with the pinch-tastic callipers. I am now 20.4% fat, apparently. That is less than 1 percent change. I had hoped for a bigger change, since I am aiming for 18% body fat and also since I seem to have dropped at least one clothing size (my clothes were a bit to big to begin with anyway, so now is the time for belts!). I forgot to weigh myself at the gym yesterday, but I will try to remember again today. I think I can try to get my body fat percentage checked at the gym too, but with an electrical resistance measure instead of the pinch method. Might give a different reading.

 

  • And finally, I am seriously craving everything inappropriate. Bacon and cheddar scones? Yes, please. Chocolate by the heap? I’ll take two. That’s right. The red menace has return to scupper my plans. Damn you, physiology! It is also throwing a spanner in my mental works, which is making it very hard to write the current chapter on chaos theory for the thesis. Nevermind. Victory will soon be mine. In the meantime, I am trying out hazelnut milk in my morning oat-goodness. I like it. I like it a lot.

I should have posted this belly shot yesterday, but whatever. I haven’t heard any complaints about my lack of punctuality yet.  I can feel the muscles really well now but they are not quite showing… At least not in all lights. Anyway. Enjoy!

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Plans change

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So, the old myasics.nl plan wasn’t working, partly because I am just way too busy right now to be setting aside the time it takes to run 16 kilometres. I have started a new plan for a 10K, but with four days running per week instead of three so each running event is short.

I got a bit bummed out and nonchalant about all of this, and took at least a week off of running. I did some ab workouts, especially at the office during my RSI prevention breaks. Mostly I am just wigging out. I have a guest lecture to give on short notice this week, and two more damn chapters to write.

Then I have more work to do after that. Bugger.

But, on the plus side, I feel pretty good with my diet. Being totally in charge of cooking and eating meant I was damn near vegetarian the whole time my partner was away. I also avoided all unnecessary desserts, from the birthday cakes brought into the office to the random munchies in the evenings. When I needed something sweet I had fresh fruit and yogurt, or a banana, almond milk and unsweetened cocoa powder smoothie. I also had some dark chocolate stashed in my drawer at work, but seriously. I bar of chocolate lasted me for weeks, so it is all good.

 

Results? I am starting to get visible vertical lines on my abs! Woo hoo! I can definitely feel strong, hard muscles underneath, and it seems (at least to me) that the layer of fat is getting smaller. I have asked to borrow the callipers again to check my body fat percentage. For now, enjoy this belly shot!

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All on my own…

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So, with fairly short notice my partner is now travelling for at least two weeks. This means I am totally in charge of what I eat and when, as well as how much I work out, when, where, etc.

Which would be great if I were also not at a REALLY major crunch time for the thesis. Which is why this is just posted now when it should have gone up last Tuesday.
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The muscles look a tiny bit more defined in person than they do in the photo, but I still have 3 whole months before the six-pack abs challenge is decided. If they are just coming out now then by June they should be reasonably visible.

I am doing an abs and squat plan now too, which encourages me to do other types of ab workouts, including crunches with my legs raised, twisting crunches, classic situps, and, obviously, squats. I kind of love squats. If I haven’t done any in a while I always feel the burn, which I kind of like. I also just like the motion of them, which reminds me of classic strongmen, like with twirly moustaches and old fashioned striped bathing suits.

I am also drinking a HELL OF A LOT of water, sometimes with flavours or with fizzy vitamin tabs in, sometimes just plain. Which means I am peeing like a racehorse every 40 minutes. Not a bad thing necessarily, since it motivates me to move around more and prevents RSI, but a pain since I am working in the office this weekend and the lights in the loo don’t work. That’s right. I had to bring a torch/flashlight into work with me in order to pee. Le sigh.

Just for your viewing pleasure, here is a picture of what I got in this week’s organic veg box delivery.

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Flower sprouts and avocados?!? What joy. Looks like cooking for one will be easy peasy.

Planks are now 1 minute and 10 seconds.

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Boo. Yah. Mofo!

So, the ab workouts and core exercises may be coming into their own, but the diet is seriously derailed. I am finding it very hard to cut calories and fat. I am hungry ALL THE TIME and my partner is not currently trying to do any serious weight loss, which makes planning difficult. On the plus side, we agreed to eat no snack or dessert that we did not make ourselves. On the minus side, we made chocolate fudge brownies. And since there are only two of us, there is still almost half a tray left. D’oh!

 

Nevertheless, I shall persevere. I went to the gym this morning for some rowing, some core work, and some pull up and dip practice. I am using the weight offset machine to offset 15 kilos of my weight for this, and since I weigh 56 kilos (I weighed myself at the gym this morning too) I am pulling up 41 kilos of me! Super! I was using 20 kilos offset, but graduated to 15 and hope to move down to 10 in a few weeks. The core work included some dragon flag practice and some serious planks that each lasted over one minute and ten seconds. Awwww, yeah. I hope to do some research on planks this week to see how else I can improve them, such as doing them on a power plate or on an unstable surface (medicine ball?).

Also at the gym, I wore my Vibram five fingers, which I call my gorilla feet. See photo below.
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And, since today is Tuesday, here is a photo of me belly!

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You can just about see the top 2 muscles in the classic six pack. The rest will be here soon, as soon as I sort out this diet business.

Run, run, run, run, run, run awaaaay!

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I went out for a long(ish) run yesterday, which was in many ways a bit disheartening. I have lost so much pace! I completely forgot how to get to the zen of running and had a bit of a panic attack instead.
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And I noticed that I was not using good form or foot strike. Le sigh. Well, it is all back to square one I suppose.

Also, the partner and I decided that we would like to sign up for some local 10K races to keep us motivated, and probably a half marathon in April. I just had a look and there are 2 tens in March super close by to ours. Score!
There is also a half in April that we could do. It is not terribly close, which is ok. More importantly, it is not flat. We have been training on the super flat for about… oh… 4 years now? A hilly race will be quite a change. Still, why not try something new, eh? Core muscles will need a hell of a lot of work if we are going to manage that.

In other news, the shop was out of almond milk (really?!?) so I got rice milk instead, in regular and chocolate flavours. I tell you what, chocolate rice milk in your porridge gives you a weird choco-crispy sensation from the oats.

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As promised last week, I want to talk about sports bras. They are not typically considered sexy, especially not the ones that really work. The ones that cover a lot of space, have wide straps, flatten the girls down to prevent as much wobbling as possible. Not really the commonly portrayed image of feminine beauty that society force feeds us, is it?

But when I was running I felt sexy. I felt strong, and powerful, and capable. I felt like I could do whatever I wanted and then make a getaway before anyone noticed that I wasn’t supposed to be doing that.

What does this say about beauty and attraction and sexiness? That to be beautiful is to be incapable? Sexy demands being hobbled by absurdly high heels? Ravishing only applies to those on the verge of asphyxiating due to a whole body spanx?

Personally, I like the natural look most of the time. I spend a lot of time taking care of my skin so that it looks healthy and beautiful, but I don’t wear a lot of make-up. I like bright coloured clothes, sparkly belts, fun scarves, etc. , but I refuse to wear something that is uncomfortable, which is why I only own one pair of heels (and often go barefoot). I actually wear sports bras often, even on days when I am not necessarily planning to work out, because I feel really sexy when I feel comfortable and confident. And on its own, not too many sports bras count as sexy, but when part of a life-size, kick-ass, women package, they are a tool of power.

I just wish it were easier to get them in my size.