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.

 

Oof. So much to do.

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Do you ever get those times in your life, where you feel all the things on your to-do list, all those casual suggestions or offhand promises (“Yeah, we should get together for lunch some time. It’d be great.”), and all of your deadlines come due at once?

This is one of those times for me. I am finishing up the last content chapter on the thesis, so that’s a big deal. Then the six-pack abs challenge is coming to and end sometime in June (I have to find out whether it ends at the beginning of the month or the end…), so that is preying on my mind. Then there is a trip to plan to see some friends get married at the top of a lonely mountain in Austria (What?!? A week away? When did that… but… Eh?) which is a distraction to say the least.  Also, I applied for unemployment benefit, which means I need to start sending out job applications and writing cover letters, which requires non-trivial amounts of time and mental energy.

 

So. Lots on. Here are two somewhat belated belly pics, one which looks a bit spooky because decent bathroom lighting is not apparently worth designing.

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Not terrible. But I think I need three or four solid weeks of serious discipline if I am going to win this six-pack abs challenge. On the plus side, I did your planks yesterday… each of which lasted ONE MINUTE AND FIFTEEN SECONDS! Holy belly button, Batman! I did not think I could plank for so long back when I started this challenge.

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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Been absent

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Sorry to have disappeared like that. Life gets in the way. In fact, life is getting in the way in a lot of ways right now. A family member has died, so there is international travel associated with that. I was invited to give a presentation, so there is prep work for that. And the research is currently revolving around running some pretty big simulations and then analyzing the seriously massive results. All of that takes time.

 

So, long story short. I have not been running at all this past week. But sometimes a break can be a really good thing. Doing too much for too long, or even the same thing for too long, can lead to serious burnout.

 

Hopefully I will get out there this afternoon and then again on Saturday. Probably not a long or fast run, since springtime is hitting my hay fever hard, but something is better than nothing. I have been able to control the appetite a bit better though, even though the travel means that I don’t always have good options open to me for meals and snacks. We’ll see.

 

Anyway, here is a belly shot. I rather like how it is starting to look.

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Think positive!

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To bring you up to speed on developments since last week:

  • I do have asthma, the doctor did give me an inhaler to use daily, in addition to the one to use just before exercise. All seems to be going reasonably well.
  • I have managed to gain .6 of a kilo. How I did that is a mystery, as all my clothes are hanging off me. Whatever.
  • The gym I normally go to does not have a body fat measuring device, but I can use my same card to access another location that has said device. I may have to go slightly out of my way one day as I head into work. Actually… I could stop by on my way home today…
  • Core exercises are continuing at the office. I try to alternate days I do planks (forward and sides) with days I do crunches and reverse crunches. Today was a crunch day. So far, 40 crunches, 40 reverse crunches. Boo. Yah.
  • I am feeling less hungry now that Aunt Flo has left. Thank god for that because I was about to ruin our weekly budget on a load of junk food.
  • I forgot my phone today, so no belly pic. I will try tomorrow.

And on an unrelated note, my partner and I are thinking of signing up for the Lisbon half marathon in October. That should give me plenty of time to finish this damn thesis and still train for a longer distance than I am currently training for. The course looks lovely (all along the water!) and Lisbon has one of the longest bridges in Europe. Wow.

 

On another unrelated note, I have decided to participate in the #100HappyDays photo challenge. You just have to post one photo every day for 100 days of something that makes you happy. Simples. There is nothing to win, except for a more positive mental outlook, and nothing to lose, but a bit of time. Since I like photo-a-day challenges, I don’t mind losing that tiny bit of time and I am quite interested to see if I can win a sunnier disposition. I started yesterday and can already think of about a billion things to post pictures of.

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.

Best title yet

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I have been having a rough time of it lately, so I skipped some runs and cut the runs I did do a bit short.  I have also been trying to maintain a lower heart rate while running, but that is not easy for me, and it means I am constantly being beeped at by my polar or that I have to keep checking on my heart rate, all of which prevent me from getting to runner’s zen… which means my heart rate doesn’t get to fall in zen. Bah.

I have gone to the gym a couple of time though. I had been avoiding it because the place was lousy with January starters. You know the type, the New Year’s Resolutionaries. But most of them have cleared out by now, and they are especially absent first thing in the morning on a weekday. I had never been to the gym on a weekday morning, but I rather liked it and will probably try to make a habit of it. I think it can help me in this particular life goal or personal challenge or whatever you want to call it, but could help me in life in general. I feel quite good at the office today, better than I normally would at this time. Breakfast will be a tricky one though, because I can’t do some serious sporting on a full tummy. Must look into options.

At the gym I usually do either some treadmill running (with incline at least 1%) or some rowing machining, plus some core exercises like planks, superman situps, russian twists (now that the gym has medicine balls!) and proto-dragon flags. I am somewhere between the first two levels of dragon flag training, and hoping to progress rapidly now that I can use the padded bench at the gym more often.

 

I also do some weights, mostly weight offset pull ups and dips, but also chest presses. I need to look into what weight exercises are best for strengthening the back and shoulders and improving posture. Typing this damn thesis out is killing me.
I am liking my new pink and black, almost lacy sport shorts pink shorts more and more. I do need to take off the plastic toggles on the sides, because when I walk on the treadmill to warm up or cool down my arms brush against the hard plastic and that is going to bug. I also need to add pocket, but I think I have just the thing. An old set of Phillips sport headphones came in a little mesh drawstring bag, so I think I might just pin that to the inside. If it works well, I will sew it in. The pinkness of the shorts might also be making the gents in the weight area a bit uncomfortable, which is a bit funny.

So here are some belly pics, two in fact since I missed a week.
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Not doing too badly, I guess, but I think I have hit a plateau and need to kick it up if I am to push through. But I think I can do it. I just need to finish off a handful of things on my to-do list that are creeping around in the back of my mind and preventing me from really making the most of my time, both when I want to focus and when I want to relax.

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.

Peanut butter and belly sandwiches.

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So, a week has passed and not much change is visible. In fact, I may even be a little less muscular than I was last week? Weird.

But it doesn’t really matter too much. This is a long term thing and I am still getting used to making little changes that should (eventually) all add up.

What is in store for me this week? Well, the porridge for breakfast continues. Today’s edition contained cut up dried apple and too much cinnamon. I didn’t realize that the cap wasn’t on the spice canister properly, so a HUGE whack of cinnamon came out, almost causing a cinnamon challenge moment. Nevertheless, I persevered. I also packed myself a healthy and sensible lunch of some Hairy Dieter’s skinny lasagne, two mandarins, a banana and a handful of sugar snap peas for snacking. I love sugar snap peas. I love them so much. 
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Also on the cards is more ab workouts during the day. I have WorkRave on my computer to help prevent RSI and unbearable pain, which encourages me to take an eight minute break about every 55 minutes. I have been using these breaks to do some stretching, some press ups and crunches, etc. But the industrial grade carpet in my office is not so nice. I brought in a foam pad to make it easier for me to do those mid-day mini-workouts. Planking will certainly be less painful on my elbow skin, if not any less painful on my core muscles.

One of my previous challenges was the 100 press up challenge, which involves training yourself up to the point that you can do 100 press ups in a single go. I only made it to about 45, but I certainly felt better about myself with those 45 than I did with the pitiful 2 that I could do when I started. I am contemplating another go on that challenge, but right now I have a bit much going on. Holiday season always takes up a lot of time, for travel, shopping, cooking, gift wrap, etc. I am also mere months away from finishing my PhD. And I just started a new batch of sourdough starter (I have named it Barnaby Plankton). It looks like the press ups is going to have to sit on the back burner at least until the new year, if not until after I finish this blasted degree. But I am kind of looking forward to taking it up again. I like press ups. They feel good. And they are probably a good way to prevent RSI, so 10 or 20 a day (most days) seems like a good idea all around.