Monday, 9 November 2009

Detox Update

I have completed the first week of my healthy/ detox month.
So far its going pretty well. I have now been a full week without meat products, caffeine or booze. The toughest thing has been the caffeine.

I definitely have a hell of a caffeine habit. On an average day I probably drink about 6 or more cups of coffee a day, so going from 6 to 0 has been hard. The first few days I was getting headaches, feeling unfocused, grouchy and generally was not a joy to be around.
Its getting better but its still tough. I still WANT coffee.

My aim with the coffee thing though is not to give up coffee completely, but to top drinking it in the way that I do. I currently drink coffee completely mindlessly. I couldn't tell you for sure how many cups I drink a day for the simple reason that I'm not really 100% aware of how much I drink. I have a cup in the morning, then once I arrive in the office I pretty much drink it all day. The worst thing is, the coffee in the office isn't even good. In fact, its pretty dreadful. My aim is not to stop drinking coffee altogether, but to now only drink coffee when I am focused on drinking a cup of coffee. Like when I go out for a coffee, or I am sitting down with Steph to have a cup of coffee and a chat. Or just when I feel like I want to drink a cup of coffee for enjoyment. I picked up this tip from my buddy Christine the HolisticGuru and it seems like a good approach. Its also following the zen idea of focus.
"when drinking coffee, only drink coffee."
I am probably going to set some kind of limit on it too, like no more than one or two cups a day.

Next up... booze. My aim is simply to drink less. I have had a tendency since I was a teenager to drink too much. I'm toying with the idea of just staying booze free completely. However, I do live in Ireland and its not easy! Its so ingrained in our culture. I have given up drinking on numerous occasions before. Once I just randomly gave up for three months. During that time I continued to go out to clubs etc. This is a real example of what happens when you try to stop drinking in Ireland

Friend: "what are you drinking"
Me: "nothing I'm OK"
Friend: "Ah sure have a drink"
Me: "OK I will have a coke or something"
Friend: "Vodka and coke?"
Me: "No Just a coke"
Friend: *Uncontrollable laughter*
At which point friend goes to bar, buys me a pint anyway and places it in front of me.
I remember one particular night that by the time I left the bar, my table had 5 full pints of beer on it, completely untouched by me.
Now admittedly this was a fair few years ago when we were all a bit more into going out and enjoying ourselves. These days its a bit easier as people settle down, have kids etc.
The additional problem is, however, that I LOVE red wine. So we will see how that one goes.

As for the veganism... Well, I personally don't think that a vegan is really the best diet that human beings can eat. We are not really designed to live on such a diet. However for a one month detox sort of thing, I think its great. We've been eating really well. Ive even cooked once.. and BAKED! Yes, for the second time in my life i baked something. I have vague memories of baking scones when I was about 10. On Saturday me and Zane baked vegan Banana muffins. They were delicious! That night I cooked vegan french bread pizza. this consisted of a baguette base topped with a sauce made from tahini, soy sauce and lime topped with sauteed kale, mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes. It was go good I'm cooking it again tonight.

As for training. Its been going pretty well too. Ive hurt my foot so am taking two weeks off from running, but have been cycling and doing strength training. Last week was actually my highest mileage week for cycling to date with a total of 80 miles over 4 sessions. I know this isn't a lot compared with most cyclists, but its a lot for me as a novice. My previous highest mileage week was 70 miles (although I did admittedly run 35 miles that week too... This week Ive only run 6 miles). Three of this weeks rides were 13 milers... so to bring it up to 80 I did my longest ride to date of 41 miles on Sunday morning. This took me 2.5 hours and was hugely enjoyable.
Ive also been doing push ups, dips and core work. I tend to fail to keep up on doing this so Ive been working to a new challenge of doing this every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and have had my buddy Josh the Speedy Sasquatch doing the same thing. Having mutual support/ encouragement/ competition really helps with this sort of thing. Originally the challenge was to do 100 push ups and 100 reps of core work 3 times a week. We are now both doing 150 push ups, 100 dips, and I'm doing around 200 reps of core work with Josh doing about 4 million or something like that.

On the whole I am feeling great, going to sleep earlier, getting up earlier, training in the morning and sometimes again at night. I still miss coffee.. and I'm permanently hungry. That, however, is nothing new... Its the training, rather than the vegan diet, that does that. I do think its worsened slightly due to the fact that I used to have a constant intake of appetite suppressant (caffeine).
I will update again next week.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

"Off Season"

So, having completed my "A-Race" for the year, I have allowed myself an off-season. A time for decompression.
Basically, lots of boozing and lots less exercise. In the week after my marathon I didn't run at all and cycled twice. (a 13 mile ride and a 26.5 mile ride). The following week, I ran twice for a total of 9.1 miles and cycled once (31.15 miles).

And that's it.
Off season is OVER.

Over those two weeks I ate a huge amount of BAD food, and drank far too much.
On the bright side...I got a new bike.
I picked up a cube streamer under the cycle to work scheme. On Sunday I took it out for the first time and MASSIVELY enjoyed my 31 mile ride. the weather was terrible, cold, windy and heavy rain. when I got home my feet were completely numb and I could not have been more soaked had I jumped in a swimming pool. Yet I enjoyed the ride loads. I'm attributing that to the bike!

Of course, they say when you get a new bike you should name it. So I put out a shout on Twitter for suggestions and Rae Threat, my photographer friend from LA, instantly suggested Pretty Hate Machine. Cliched as this may be... I LIKE IT. I also had John Hirsh, my pro-triathlete twitter buddy, volunteer to name it. John had previously given bikes some awesome names (BLOOD BIKE being my favourite). At the end of the day though, John couldn't beat Pretty Hate Machine... so that is indeed the name of my shiny new bike.

So. Its November and its base training / transition time. For the month of November, I will be undergoing a detox.
No caffeine
No alcohol
No meat
No dairy

I'm a teetotal, caffeine free Vegan for a month.
Today was the first day and I am really struggling without caffeine.
I will do it though.

Ive recently read Joe Friels great blog post on the transition period and he suggests strongly that we should take this period seriously. Don't train... exercise. Don't plan, don't overdo it. This makes sense and (combined with what I fear is a stress fracture in my foot) means for the next 4 weeks or so of the detox, it will be lots of easy bike riding, a bit of running (if i can) and hopefully swimming but nothing structured and planned. Im going to try and post more regularly through this period giving updates on the detox.. who knows though, the lack of caffiene may be too much and i might sleep for the next 4 weeks.

Monday, 2 November 2009


This must be one of the most delayed race reports ever.
I wasn't sure where to go with this, but knowing my propensity for verbosity.. Ive decided to try and keep this short and sweet.

Two weeks ago I ran my first marathon. It was a truly fantastic experience.

I had planned very carefully how I was going to get through the race. I knew the key was to not go out too hard and just stick to the plan. I planned to keep an 8:30 AP for the first 13 miles. Then I planned to let myself speed up slightly up to the 20 mile mark.. then, I was just going to see how it went for the last 10k.

The first 13 miles was fantastic. We started in the Olympic stadium in Amsterdam and it was amazing to start with so many people. For the first 13 miles I did genuinely have to keep a close eye on my Garmin to stop myself from speeding up too much. As this was my first marathon, I was starting pretty near the back... which was good as it meant I spent the majority of the race overtaking people.. but it was tough in some ways as I had to be my own pacer, and i struggled to slow myself down with my excitement, that of the other runners and the support of the crowd.

Once I hit the halfway mark I allowed myself to speed up.. but just a little bit, to about an 8:15 AP. Once I hit 20 miles, things were starting to get tough. By this time my right knee had already been hurting for a few miles, various other parts of my legs were sore and my left calf was starting to cramp up.

I had chatted to one of my co-workers, who has about 4 marathons under his belt, and he mentioned to me that one really important thing once you get past 20 miles is DON'T WALK. This makes a lot of sense to me, however when i felt that left calf start cramping, i stopped and stretched it for about 10 seconds, then moved on. from this point and for about the next 5k, i was slowed down. I made sure to keep sub 9, but it was tough and i could feel that I was close to the calf muscle seizing up. I could also feel that speeding up at all would be the trigger to cause that to happen! So for that 5k i slowed, but not too much. the last 3 miles I was able to speed up again, to around the pace I ran the first half at. Most importantly, I finished strong.
Strong... and VERY happy.

I have to say, finishing this marathon was one of the proudest achievements of my life. Its probably the hardest and most rewarding thing Ive ever done by myself and purely for myself. Throughout my life to date, I know I have achieved a lot... I'm not going to list off things as I'm not trying to be boastful... but I think this was the biggest thing that I've done just for me, and it felt great.

My finishing time was 3:43:41. A time I'm very proud of an very happy with.
After finishing, I met Steph and we went for a beer. I gotta say, beer tastes good after a marathon!