Tag Archives: Weight Loss

Greater Manchester Marathon 2016: Week 8 of 18

This week has been a bit of a game changer in my training mission for the Greater Manchester Marathon. One of those weeks where everything to do with my running seems to have started to click together, and like a step up in ability has been achieved.

Tuesday was meant to be a 7 mile recovery run with some strides, but instead I elected to lead a 6 mile social club run. There were only 3 of us but it was very enjoyable and we went over some ground I’d not run before as something a bit different. The pace was nice and easy and it felt like I was just bouncing along, which surprised me given the way my legs felt after sunday’s 20!

Wednesday saw a small step up in the midweek long run, with 12 miles to do. Midweek long runs are my least favourite. Having to get home from work and then run for 2 hours, eating at gone 8pm isn’t a lot of fun, but they seem to help. Usually I would try and run these progressively, but as I intended to run Friday’s tempo run on Thursday, I tried to just keep this at a steady pace. I ended up loosely progressing anyway, with the final mile at marathon pace. Despite the hilly elevation profile on the route, I felt strong throughout, like I was gliding through the air almost effortlessly (Aside from the hills) and got a couple of segment PBs in the process.

As I mentioned, I had to do Friday’s tempo run on Thursday as we had a club social and wouldn’t have time to squeeze it in. I thought I would struggle with 10 miles, 6 of which at tempo pace, but I didn’t really until the last tempo mile. As these runs get longer its harder to find enough level ground to cover, and a couple of the miles were net downhill. I did try and increase the pace to compensate and the GAPs on my splits were only off target by a few seconds.

10 miles, 6 at tempo workout analysis

I’m confident that if I’d have had the extra rest day I would have nailed it. I “made up” the difference in GAP on other miles and would have managed the 6th mile on rested legs.

Friday was my usual weigh-in day, and I had a feeling I’d get a positive result as I’d “been good” for the last few weeks and the mileage increase usually benefits me. I was right! 3lbs off this week with an increase in muscle mass.

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All good news! 3lbs to go to my intermediate target (the weight I was for the wedding) and 10lbs overall pre-marathon. At this rate (And I DO fully expect the burn rate to level off) I may even be able to go a little bit lighter still – but we’ll see.

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As mentioned, we had a good social night out with the club on Friday, a skittles night. A few of us ate too, and I figured I’d have something nice as a bit of a reward for the hard work and good results! I ended up having too many ciders but everyone enjoyed themselves, thanks to Michelle’s organisation. It’s just a shame Dave won the game of killer!

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A bit bleary eyed, we headed to Longrun Meadow parkrun on Saturday, as Jodie hadn’t done it before and we needed to stay local. James was coincidentally there too as he was visiting friends the night before.

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The puddled were DEEP, over the ankles in some places, and the muddy section was pretty horrendous too, but an enjoyable run. We did an extra couple of miles top up afterwards as I needed to do a 5 mile recovery run. Running along the river was really nice, Taunton seems to have a lot of foot/cycle paths, must be great for local runners!

 

Sunday saw an incredible 20 people turn up for the Running For Time long run. Lots of new people I hadn’t met, many of them training for their own races and events. It was a sight to behold and a sign of how the club is going from strength to strength.

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Sarah did a great job organising a good quiet and flat route for 10 miles. Most of the group finished up, but I needed to do 22 so a smaller sub group splintered off to top up their mileage. I ran with Fred and Sue Fox for most of their journey home, and I hope I didn’t bore them! They are one inspirational couple, I can’t run Fred’s times as a 33 year old, its amazing how well they both still run as vets! We also ran with Michelle, Helen and Chrissy, who peeled off at their own rates when they reached their mileage.

The flat course and steady pace meant I felt much stronger towards the end, and progressed my last 5 miles to target marathon pace, and as I write this I can’t help but notice how much better I feel compared to last weekend. I think that means the training is working! I’m definitely feeling stronger.

One bit of bad news is that I think my Garmin is on the way out. It froze at 21 miles and by 22 I only had 12% left in the battery. Still, it’s a good excuse to buy some new kit – my eye is on the Forerunner 235!

Next week is another marathon paced run. I’ll be in Basingstoke which will be a challenge, as finding a flat section to do the marathon paced miles will be near impossible! Time to man up and try the pace over some hills!

Greater Manchester Marathon 2016: Week 7 of 18

It’s when a training plan starts ramping up towards the business end that the usefulness of using a training log tool (such as Strava) alongside a plan you’ve used before really comes into its own, as you can directly compare sessions against each other. You can see your paces and heart rate relative to each other to see how well you are performing.

The first run of this week was 10 miles with 5 of them at Lactate Threshold. Strava’s tools can let me see how I performed for this session – specifically, for the Lactate Threshold miles.

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Using GAP (Grade Adjusted Pace – so it tells you the equivalent pace on a flat mile) I can clearly see on average I’m doing about 15s per mile faster than last year. Unfortunately, last years activity for this session isn’t a good session for this comparison as I abandoned it half way through – But I only know this because I have it recorded as a note! So not only was I faster, but I was able to actually complete the session – unlike last year.

It was a tough run for sure, and at about 4.1 miles I had to pause for a short breather, but on the whole I was very happy.

On Wednesday I had a 4 mile recovery run with the wife. it was fricking FREEZING. My toes were numb by the end and I literally had to soak them in hot water to bring the feeling back.

Thursday was one of the runs I dread – midweek medium-long runs. The idea is to progress through your long run pace zone so you finish about 15% slower than Marathon Pace. This 11 miler I followed a similar route to the one I did on sunday – hilly – and I was delighted with the results. Again, comparing to year on year, this run had much more elevation, an increase in pace (And GAP) and a slightly lower HR overall. The difference in “suffer score” can be attributed to me “having a go” at a long uphill segment whilst maintaining the faster end of the pace zone.

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Rather delightfully as a result, I made the top 10! I finished with a quick downhill mile and finished feeling really strong. It was a good confidence booster.

Friday was weigh day. I didn’t hold out a lot of hope – we had an enormous meal on the previous Friday night, the Saturday was lunch AND dinner out (with a skinful of cider, popcorn and Maltesers) and Sunday was a hungover massive Premier Inn breakfast… So to have lost 1lb and have a small shift in body composition was quite pleasing!

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I lost 1.5lbs in fat (good), increased my body water (good) but saw a small fall in Muscle mass (bad – but an increase in percentage). So something to keep an eye on. Most importantly though its that Body Fat and overall weight loss that’s going to make me lighter and therefore faster.

Saturday saw me on a split session. I needed to do a 7 mile easy run with Strides, but we had a club outing to Bath Skyline parkrun. So I ran that easy and then did the other 4 miles + strides in the afternoon.

It was nice going to a different parkrun as a group/club. We have a good spirit with our members and it was an awful lot of fun.

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The course itself was quite nice. Aside from the first K it was relatively flat, with a slightly downhill final K. In the first section you get a beautiful view of the historic City of bath from on high which could have taken your breath away… and if the view didn’t the 37 steps that took place right afterwards finished it off! The course was mostly compact trail but there were some sections of muddy field which must make fast times a bit tricky at the moment. It’s a single lap figure of 8 style which meant you pass near the finish close enough for a gathering of supporters to stand which was pretty nice. The parking was about a 5 minute walk to the course and there was a single toilet – though it was at the car park. No cafe nearby, and the website shows that you should bring your own refreshments in lieu of this. This week though, a local school had volunteered and provided hot chocolate and custard creams – such a lovely thought!

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Despite the lack of cafe, as we’d made the trip we visited the local Sainsbury’s cafe anyway. They do a fantastic 5 rasher bacon sandwich on thick bloomer, for 3 quid. Brilliant value and just what the doctor ordered!

My plan had me to do 7 miles with some strides, so I pulled a second session in the evening. Was very pleased with the pace of my strides, and shook the body a little bit – it’s not used to 2 runs in a day!

I was dreading Sunday’s 20 miler – my longest since Manchester last year – So I decided it would be nice to run with other people, at least for the first half. So i joined the club for the Sunday Social run. The time absolutely flew by, with great company, great banter, and I couldn’t believe I’d done 10 miles by the time they returned! We also saw loads of runners, even some other club mates. I love going out on the early runs, but with it being the only real day I can get a lay in, early Sunday’s are not high on my priority list! After this weekend though, it will be much more regular.

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By the time we got back, I still needed to do 10 miles. But I’d pre-organised with Dave that we’d do a further 10. it was brilliant to have some company for the second half too. The last few miles were tough, but running with Dave really helped to “keep me honest” as it was extremely tempting to just slow to a gentle plod!

All in all, the best, most enjoyable Sunday run I’ve had for a very long time.

The mileage steps up a bit over the next few weeks to peak at around 60 miles (with my own adjustments) before the next recovery week. So far I’m feeling strong though and if I can get through this mesocycle unscathed I will be very confident to achieve my target.

Greater Manchester Marathon 2016: Week 6 of 18

Week 6 has been somewhat of a milestone week. Not only is it the end of the first Mesocycle of the training, and not only is it the first recovery week, or the point where it marked being exactly  one third of the way through… But we were finally able to announce that we are growing a new little runner!

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We’re 12 weeks pregnant, and have had our scan. It was a truly magical experience which I’m sure every parent goes through the first time. What you don’t expect to see in the scan is the baby moving – I assumed it was still pictures – Imagine my surprise when our little one kicked out and had a ride around Jodie’s uterus! This of course means that Jodie will not be running the Manchester Marathon this year, but she is continuing to run to maintain fitness and hopefully she’ll be fine to run in the Cardiff world championships!

The recovery week in the plan has obviously been perfectly timed. My legs felt battered all week right up until Saturday so I deliberately went out to run at the slower end of all of my pace zones.

Tuesday saw me on an easy 8  miler with 8 strides. The weather was miserable and my legs were knackered. I also sufferedf romt he fact that I needed a poo. At some point I realised that everytime my runs are interrupted by a such an event, its normally a Tuesday! Without wanting to get too graphic, I suspect that as my biggest meal of the day is on Sunday, that Tuesday’s GI problems are simply that the food has finally digested! So I need to try and shift that event to happen pre-run!

Wednesday was a straightforward recovery run. Legs still feeling a bit dead, still miserable weather.

Thursday was another easy 8 miler with no strides. Heavy legged but did a reasonable amount of climbing too. Heart rate looked better though, and I knew Friday was a rest day.

Friday of course is weigh day, and it seems the hard work has paid off, I dropped 4lbs this week, most of it in fat and increased my muscle mass! So just another stone to go til my pre-race target.

weight progress

I’m a little unsure how much stock to take in the body composition analysis of these things. It said that I was 25.1% body fat, 50.3% water, and 28.3% muscle – that’s over 100% and doesn’t include bone any everything else! But I guess its designed as a guide and a way of tracking progress rather than a zero-sum game.

On parkrunday we avoided Ham Hill again to continue our tour. A group of us went to Blandford parkrun instead. I was scheduled for 4 miles recovery, but I was tempted to “have a go”. Its a fast course and could have had a pop at sub 20, but I figured if I run this hard it would affect my sessions next week. I felt quite self righteously smug at my self control! It was a good controlled effort and finished feeling refreshed.

Unfortunately, the next 18 hours consisted of bad food and several cans off Thatchers Gold. Which meant Sunday turned into a bit of a mare… Still, I figured a bit of a blowout wouldn’t hurt. Struggled through the first 6 of my 12 miler slowy, and had to make a pub stop to use the facilities, after which I felt significantly better. Managed lots of climbing too which was a plus point.

Next week is a bit of a big week (not as big as the following week though!), with 52 miles scheduled (It’ll go over that with warm up/cool down) and will be the biggest week for ages. Another tempo run is on the cards (Which I struggled with last year) and my first 20 miler of the campaign, which I’m going to part run with the group – carefully considered after my 18 miler a few weeks back caused me to want to cry!

12 weeks to go – which means only really 9 weeks until the taper…. this time is disappearing fast!

 

 

 

 

Opening Weigh In

Well, that wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought…

I weighed in this morning for the first time since the wedding and I was 15st 4lbs. So a “holiday gain” of 12lbs. OK, that’s still a lot, but I had feared i’d come back over 16st, so that’s a real bonus.

Contextualising that for me, is that I am currently around the weight I was for the Paris Marathon last year. Not too shabby!

Now, doing what I do best (Putting together whizzy spreadsheets to make things easier for me to track)

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I can see that in order to reach my target, I need to lose 2lbs per week every week, and need to have a 3lb week too. Its ambitious but acheiveable.

No doubt I’ll lose a lot quickly and then plateau, but I am motivated to succeed and have set myself some interim goals to get some “quick wins” and stay on track.

Time to finally “finish” this weight loss thing!

 

Time for a new plan!

So now I’m a married man, it appears I’ve already let myself go. I have a noticable weight gain since our amazing 3 week honeymoon, and I’m keen to shift it fast. That, and a renewed motivation to get training for the Great Birmingham Run means I need a new plan.

As mentioned in my last post, my ultimate goal is to reach 13st3lbs by the age of 33, which I turn on Nov 10th. I’m not convinced this is feasible yet, as I haven’t had the opportunity to weight myself post-honeymoon as I’ve not been home. But that will be my starting point. I at least want to finally break the 8 stone barrier… 13st 13lbs also has a nice ring to it and be an adequate secondary goal.

I’ve always found running faster and losing weight to be complimentary to each other, goal wise. The lighter you are the less energy you need to run, so can use the energy to go faster. Also, when you are training carrying extra weight it also provides an extra training stimulus… think about running whilst wearing pack with an arbitrary 10lbs, that has to help when its gone right?

To acheive the weight loss along with the running I need to control my calories, and I’m going back to using MyFitnessPal. My username on there is mattywarr if you want to follow me. I’ve always had the best results when I make myself FULLY accountable for whats going in my body.

As part of this, I am also considering my nutrition – specifically post run. Last year I experimented a bit with recovery shakes, and they seemed to do me some good. So after every session (Excluding recovery jogs) I’ll be having a recovery drink of some sort to help build muscle and recover those muscles faster.

And then of course there is my training plan. I’ve learned a lot over the last year and have designed my own training regime for this campaign. I only hope it works! Some of the lessons I’ve picked up and applied for this cycle are:

  • There are my usual prerequisites, like no back to back hard days, no increase in mileage over 10% per week.
  • More recovery runs. P&D taught me that easy mileage should be very easy an I’ll be following the same principles.
  • Rotating my quality sessions. Back when I was following the Bupa Intermediate plan it rotated Tempo work, Intervals and Hill Repeats. I’ve rotated tempo and hill repeats, as i want to do my regular interval session with the running group to build back up my core speed.
  • Strides. I found these to be fantastic for my running form and speed, so am going to use them in this plan too.
  • Race pace in my long runs. This was another key component from P&D, and I’ve adopted a similar approach for this plan, running the last x miles at race pace to get my body used to it, hopefully without burning it out!

August is all about building mileage back up and getting my body used to running at a decent pace again. Shorter tempo runs and running at the slower end of my pace zones. I am going to run the Yeovilton 5k early in the month as a way of gauging my current fitness levels. From this, I may end up further adjusting my pace zones for the remainder of the programme as to avoid injury. I know I’m not in good condition right now and would be silly to overdo it.

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In September I’ll run the Yeovilton 5k and use it as a progress measure. My pace zones will be adjusted and as I will be up to where I want to be volume-wise, I am going to increase the intensity, peaking at the end of the month with a 14 miler with 6 at Half-Marathon pace. I have highlight the Bath Two Tunnels 10k as another race to test my fitness, but may opt for another long run yet or switch to a different race. Maybe even do a hard parkrun the week after instead.

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And in October its just tapering. I’ll run my hardest tempo run before drioopping the volume off and recovering a bit for the race.

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I’ll update on a weekly basis as to how my sessions went. As for the race itself, I am running it as part of a team at work. Though running as a team, I still want to finish first in that team! Bragging rights in the office would be quite nice…

Watch this space, and thanks for reading!

 

Why does Garmin not agree with Strava…

… When it comes to Calories?

Figure 1 – My workout in Garmin Connect, displaying my workout burning an impressive 1230 calories.

garmincalsSo why is it that Strava (Figure 2), when the activity is synced via the Garmin integration (The accounts are linked) shows an even more impressive 1802 calories?!

stravacalsI mean… that’s not even close! 600 calories is 3 pints of lager! Or a decent lunch! How can 2 systems with exactly the same data calculate such different values? And more importantly, when considering this data from a weight loss/calorie controlled diet point of view, which is right?

Answers on a postcard…

 

 

Return of the weigh in…

It would be fair to say I’ve been rather more relaxed about my weightless since I broke my previous goal. I’ve found myself feeling much less self inflicted pressure to carry on shedding pounds, have been relying far less on MyFitnessPal, and generally just been a bit more relaxed about my eating whilst still training.

As such, I’ve not really been weighing in on a regular basis. A couple of weeks back, before I went on holiday, I weighed in at 14st10, so a net increase of 3lbs. But after a solid weeks graft I’ve been able to gain that back, and then some.

Weight: 14st5lbs (-2lbs, 12lbs to go)
Body Fat%: 21.7% (-0.7%, 6.3% to go)

So I’m now exactly 1 stone lighter than my Paris weight! With 2 weeks to go until Bristol Half Marathon, I’m hoping I can get that down to 14st flat.

All really good numbers and I am of course delighted…

… But not as delighted as I was to buy new jeans at the weekend… In a 34 inch waist! THIRTY-FOUR! I’ve not been this slim since I was 16! They are the first jeans I’ve bought since Christmas, those being a 38 waist. Jodie kept telling me they were hanging off me, but I was scared to buy new ones. I don’t really know why, but I felt like I’d be disappointed if I didn’t get into a 34.

Still this is only one brand of jeans. Some others I could get on, but they weren’t what I’d call comfortable. Hopefully by the time I reach my final goal weight I’ll be comfortable in any 34s that are going. I shouldn’t think I’ll fit into 32s ever, just not got that build!

Either way, I am absolutely over the moon. Now time to try a final push for that dream goal weight.

Weigh In

Last week was a tremendous result for me. So much so i thought it could have been an anomaly. That, coupled with the fact I have had a particularly average week food wise (I wasn’t bad, but I certainly wasn’t as controlled as I should have been) I wasn’t going to weigh myself today.

But that would have just been burying my head in the sand, and I’m not scared of the scales any more. So I weighed myself just to remain accountable for my actions!

And I stayed the same weight.

A pleasing result, and a platform for me to work on next week when I can be a little more disciplined.

The downside to weight loss…

unnamed (1)One thing I need to remember… I don’t have the body weight to support the alcohol I was previously able to comfortably consume. Look at the state of me!! (Photo taken from my desk at work the morning after). Don’t worry folks, I feel just as bad as I look!

 

Weigh In: Plateau Smashed, Goal Achieved!

If you read last weeks weigh in report you’ll know that I’ve bee struggling with somewhat of a plateau in recent weeks, my body simply has not wanted to shift any weight at all. This has been tough to swallow as I was so close to my goal.

My primary goal has always been, ever since that fateful first day at Weight Watchers, to have a healthy BMI of under 25. BMI isn’t for everyone. I understand that if you are a body builder, or a rugby player then your BMI is not going to be an appropriate way to measure your health based upon weight. But for an average guy like me, not interested in bulking up, its as close to an accurate barometer as I am likely to find.

After following most of the advice in the article (I didn’t change up my workout routine, but I have changed my weigh day to non-running day) the results have been a staggering success. I weighed in at 14st7lbs. Thats a shift of 5lbs week on week.

Now, thats a huge amount and extremely unlikely to have been achieved in a week. I would say that last weeks was an anomalous result to some extent. But nonetheless I am absolutely chuffed as nuts. Thats a 10 year old goal, finally achieved.

I don’t have accurate records of my weight loss until I started using Garmin Connect in November. But since then alone the graph looks pretty cool.

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“Back in the day” I though reaching this goal would be some kind of watershed moment, that I’d be overcome with emotion, or want to throw some sort of party for my achievement. But it doesn’t really feel like that. Its taken me so long to do it, and there were so many false starts I’d feel a bit of a fraud for celebrating this. After all, the real challenge is learning to keep the weight off.

I still feel happy, but it’s not the life changing moment I thought it would be. Its more a sense of quiet satisfaction. Unless you’ve struggled with your weight you won’t understand I guess.

I want to thank the following people from the bottom of my heart for helping me acheive this personal goal. I quite literally couldn’t have done it without them.

  • Mum – without you I wouldn’t have gone to weight watchers and set me off on this journey
  • Jodie – You put up with the miserable weeks when I don’t lose weight, and the hours I’m out running. I hope the good times outweigh the bad! I love you

A New Goal

Since I’ve started running though and I’ve gotten closer to my goal I’ve realised that even a healthy BMI was still going to leave me with a bit of a wobbly belly and wobbly inner thighs. So it isn’t quite “Job Done” yet, and I’ve known for a while I’d need a secondary goal to shoot for. Much like with Races, its always best to have a target!

Trying to work out what that should be is a tough question. On the one hand, I’d like to have a certain body fat %, and on the other hand I’d like a mid-range healthy BMI. So I’ve gotten to work in excel and come up with some numbers.

  • According to the NHS, a healthy BMI ranges between 18.5 and 25. The midpoint of that is 22. At my height, I would need a weight of 12st13lbs (181lbs) to be this BMI.
  • The generally accepted body fat percentage for “Fitness” is between 14% and 17%. The midpoint for this is 15.5%
  • My current Body Fat % is 22.3%. If I were to take 7% off of my current bodyweight it would give me a weight of 13st 7lbs (189lbs)

Therefore, my newly amended target is 13st 7lbs (189lbs). Once I reach this target I’ll use the same methodology so see where my Body Fat is vs my Weight/BMI to see if I can find a way to reconcile those two numbers. But, for now at least, only 14lbs to go!