Saturday, 28 February 2009

Galvin's Chance tower race training: day four

The Back of Love

My back has been aching a bit during and after running, but no longer! A few simple stretches seems to have eased the problem considerably. That didn't make today's session any easier. I thought I'd have to give up at the fifteen minute mark but I pushed on and the one minute runs became easier to complete. I am however very glad to have a days rest tomorrow.

Despite my hypertension, I'm going to have a glass or two this evening to help me relax and spend tomorrow doing as little as possible. The health issue has taken the wind out of my sails a bit. Up until yesterday afternoon's bombshell, I'd been feeling better than I have in years. Now I know that getting healthy could be a little more complicated than I'd anticipated. Voluntary changes of lifestyle suddendly becoming mandatory ones puts things in a different light.

That said, I intend to stick to my training plan until advised otherwise. Although I'm finding it a challenge, it's a gradual and gentle regime and one that won't put me in danger. He says. Like he knows what he's talking about all of a sudden.

I'm booked in for blood work and ECG on Wednesday so should have the results fairly soon. Till then its business as usual, although I'll be looking closely at my diet from here on in and at ways of managing stress. You may think that being a food writer is a piece of piss, but pitching for commissions, meeting deadlines and the tyranny of the blank page are no joke.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Galvin's Chance tower race training: day three

High Tension Line

New running shorts arrived, but could only squeeze into one pair, despite them both being XXL. Oh dear. Discovered that I've been stretching incorrectly and that leaning on a tree is not the best way to loosen up your calf muscles. Standing upright, putting your weight on one leg while lifting your toes up towards your shin is better as it doesn't put a strain on your lower back and neck. In fact there's a whole debate about stretching in general that I need to investigate further. It's a contentious issue. Who knew.

Today's run was as hard as I expected it to be, and wasn't helped by it actually being sunny at midday when I headed out. However, I managed to complete all 10 reps of one minute running and 2 minutes walking, although it felt like torture. I'm not looking forward to doing it all again tomorrow. I keep telling myself that the first week is the hardest.

The check up at the doctor's today was not the walk in the park I expected. I knew he was going to tell me I was overweight (my BMI is 37) and that I should drink less. What I hadn't expected was a blood pressure reading of 170/110. That's dangerously high and I've now got to go back for blood tests and another blood pressure reading on Wednesday to ensure it wasn't a one off unusually high reading.

I'm ok to continue my training at the current level. Exercise and weight loss, along with moderating my alcohol intake will be key to decreasing my blood pressure. I can expect it to fall in due course as long as there is no secondary cause such as diabeties which the GP seemed to think was unlikely, although I'm not quite sure why. But I could need medication to get it down to a safe level. Fingers crossed that won't be the case.

The Fall: High Tension Line

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Galvin's Chance tower race training: day two

A walk in the woods

The only side effect from yesterday's inaugural run is slightly aching calf muscles. However, I'm glad all I have to do today is 30 mintues of easy walking. Friday and Saturday's runs will be tougher, and I know that I'll feel progressively more tired as the week goes on.

At the moment, the excitement of getting back into shape is spurring me on, as well as little things like buying kit, setting up my schedule and even researching the best way to tie my shoelaces.

But that won't last for long. Training will settle into a routine and I know that somedays I'll struggle to get myself motivated at all.

In the meantime I have a doctors appointment to look forward to, my first for a number of years and my first ever physical check up. Given the state of the NHS and the sort of pressure GPs are under these days, I'm expecting no more than a blood pressure test and a couple of questions about my diet, so I may try and get an appointment at a Wellman clinic where I can get a blood and urine test too.

Next week I plan to nip over to Blackheath and pick up my brother's currently unused running machine. He is far fitter and thinner than I am and has just completed the Brighton half marathon, but he does all his running on the road. The machine appeals to me partly because of the novelty but also because it will provide a completely flat surface to run on. Not having to run up hills at this early stage will be bliss, although I will have to incorporate hill work later on. I am training for a tower race after all.

It will also make it easier to monitor my speed - not important now, but useful for later on when I'm trying to decrease my minutes per mile. Currently I'm completing a mile of running and walking in about 15 minutes which is frankly pathetic. My first goal once I'm running continuously is 10 minutes and ultimately I'd like to get that down to 7.5 but I'd settle for 8 minutes. For a 3.2km race, that will be pretty slow, but there is the small matter of 475 stairs to consider.

The Fatima Mansions: A walk in the woods

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Galvin's Chance tower race training: day one

Look what fear's done to my body

In preperation for my run today, I ate a bowl of muesli for breakfast then a banana at 10.00am and drank a glass of water at 11.00am to ensure I was properly fed and hydrated. I'm still waiting for my new shorts to arrive from Natterjack so I headed out with my long baggy summer shorts rolled up over my knees. Nice.

I took Lulu, my GSP (German Shorthaired Pointer) around her usual walking route in Patcham which I calculated to be approximately 3.5km using the Good Run Guide. Its the perfect distance, but until I started running today, I hadn't noticed quite how hilly the route is. That meant I only managed to run one minute before having to walk for five in order to get over an incline. I did however stick to the one minute run , two minute walk for the remaining 24 minutes.

I was surprised at how much hard work it seemed. The minute runs seemed to last forever while the 2 minute walking rests went by all too quickly. Following advice from Runners World, I didn't do any stretching before the run which turned out to be a terrible idea. My calf muscles (yes, I still have some after all these years) began to tighten up almost instantly and I had to stop to lean against a tree and loosen them up.

I really felt the excess weight as I ran and hate to imagine what I looked like - a fat bloke out for his first jog for a decade probably.

Towards the end however, I was running more freely and remembered for a fleeting moment how good it feels to be fit. Tomorrow is just a 30 minute gentle walk, which is handy as I'm out at the Eagle pub for a Brighton Journalists social night. I know from past training experience that I'll feel any alcohol consumption in my legs, which will tire more quickly.

My next run is Friday when I plan to stick to running around the local recreation ground which is much flatter than the circular walking route. Less interesting, but I think it will improve my chances of completing the full 10 minutes of running which is the important thing.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Galvin's Chance Mayfair Park and Tower Race 2009

On 17 June this year, I'll be taking part in the Mayfair Park and Tower Race in London. Its an invitation only 3.2km race around Hyde Park and up 56 flights of stairs to the finish line at the Galvin at Windows restaurant in the Hilton Park Lane Hotel. I'll be running in aid of the Galvin's Chance charity which aims to get disadvantaged kids out of gang culture and into full-time jobs in Park Lane Hotels.

The only problem is that I'm 44 years old with a matching waistline measurement. The only exercise I get is walking the dog a couple of times a week, supplemented by regular trips to the fridge for beer and chocolate.

I was something of a runner in my youth, completing a half marathon and several 10k races, but its a decade since I last trained regularly. Consequently, I'm taking the possibility of injury and the risk of putting an unbearable strain on my heart (we are talking about running up 475 steps after all) seriously. I'll be consulting my doctor later this week, and will proceed depending on his advice.

In preparation, I've bagged a bargain pair of off road running shoes and scheduled the Runners World 8-week Beginning Runner's Training Program into my Sunbird calendar.

I start the programme tomorrow with a 30 minute walk/run that alternates one minute of running with two of walking. By mid-April I should be running for 30 minutes. I'll then spend the rest of the training time before the race increasing my speed and practising running up stairs.

My goal is simply to finish the race rather than end up clutching my chest somewhere on back stairway of the Hilton. I'd also love not to be the last person through the restaurant's doors on the day.

I'll be moderating my alcohol intake quite a bit and eating a little more healthily, but exercising properly everyday (apart from Sunday when I'll be resting) rather than just a brisk walk once or twice a week will be the biggest change I'll be making.

I won't be counting calories or weighing myself regularly. I know from previous experience that its ultimately counter productive. I do want to loose my beer gut but will be using the idea of being able to fit into a clothes that have laid unworn in my wardrobe for years as my motivation, rather than trying to attain a specific weight.

In order to help me stick to my training regime, I plan to update my progress on how I combine the indulgent and sedentary life of a food writer with trying to reverse the effects of middle age spread on this blog. Wish me luck; I've got a feeling I'm going to need it.