Monday, 24 September 2007

Two steps forward, one step back...

The Fat Runner is running again! But not really out of choice, and now it looks like he's put his overall recovery back a bit...

So why did he start running so early - only two days after having his stitches out? Well it's all because of Network Rail. Probably.

He was flying to Sweden on Thursday evening so took the Heathrow Express out of London, leaving plenty of time to get to his flight. So far, so good, but the train eventually arrived 35 minutes late, meaning TFR had to run through the terminal to get to check-in on time. It's probably not a long run, perhaps only 1k, but TFR was surprised at how his legs felt, even running in hard-soled shoes. The thing he thought would take longest to heal, the gastrocnemius strain, didn't flare up at all.

But the wound has started to bleed again. There is a large scab over it so it's difficult to see how much healing has been undone, but it looks like TFR still needs to stay off the roads...

So why was it Network Rail's fault? For those who don't know, Network Rail is the new Railtrack, and it owns and manages the UK's rail infrastructure. According to the Heathrow Express driver, there was a faulty signal which meant he needed to slam the emergency brakes on, and once you've deployed the emergency brake there is a lengthy process to restart the train. And then it must have taken some time to find a new time slot on the track.

So that's how TFR ended up 35 minutes late at Heathrow, and STILL CAN'T RUN

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Running music

When The Fat Runner started running, he used to do it without music. Since then, he has seen the light (so to speak) and started listening on his runs.

Initially, he used to listen to standard podcasts, either comedy or news or business. It enabled him to focus on something else other than the run, which seemed to work for him.

However, he always wondered how he could get some good music on his ipod - ideally a long mix which would just keep playing throughout his run. Well obviously he could buy some tracks from iTunes, but he's too tight for that.

So after a little searching, he found some podcasts with pre-mixed music and a minimum of talking, which he is now (or at least was) listening to on his runs.

The first ones are just general kind of 'music with a beat' mixes, but are actually quite good:

  • burners
  • Radio 538: Tiesto's club life podcast
The next one is specifically designed for working out to, and has a nice website to go along with it!
  • fitMix Archives
TFR's favourite, however, is actually a podcast which has published a set of hour-long mixes, all recorded with different BPMs - and the BPMs are included in the title so you know exactly what speed of music you are listening to:
  • PodRunner
Now TFR has heard that running with higher BPM music can be a way to help your legs turnover faster, and therefore create some more speed. Perhaps this is true for elite athletes, but right now TFR's leg speed is more limited by the fact that when he increases leg speed, his heart rate goes up and he hits the limit he has set on his Forerunner.

But right now, by picking a song with a BPM which is close to his typical running speed (which is about 155 steps per minute) he can run, trying to keep time to the music, which just adds a little bit of a game to his workout, and means he doesn't hit the limit on his Forerunner quite so many times.

Try it out!

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Stitches out!

Great news! My stitches came out yesterday! I was a little nervous before I went to the surgery to get them removed. Not because of the procedure - after all I've seen a doctor poke her finger through by cut and knuckle-deep into my leg to make sure the muscle was still attached - but because he might decide not to do it.

You see, up until yesterday, it hadn't really healed. Each night when I took the bandage off, there was fresh blood. But luckily there was no fresh blood at 5pm last night which is when my appointment was!

Already, it seems easier to walk. Not sure if it's psychosomatic, whether it's just part of the healing process, or whether it is just slightly easier to walk without the stitches, because it allows my skin to flex more naturally without the four bits of string trying to pull it back.

Anyway, for whatever reason it is, I'm happy, and think there's a good chance I'll be running again by next weekend. I might try to get some light cycling in beforehand just to do at least a small level of cardio...

And the weights are continuing! I've found it really easy to keep it up actually, because it takes so little time. And already it's having an effect - my upper body is lifting back into the shape it should be. There's a concept I remember reading about called 'muscle memory' which says that muscles that have been big/strong before 'remember' that they were big and strong, and therefore respond very well to training. In other words, it's easier to rebuild muscles that have already been built than it is to start afresh.

One of the things I hadn't told you so far is that I used to play American Football. Yes, in the UK! Ok so the standard is not much to write home about, but we had US College division 3 starters in our team who were not obviously better than us... So the standard wasn't too bad. Anyway, because of this it meant that I'd done a lot of weight training and it seems like my muscles are remembering it!!

Anyway, a good day today, all is right with the world. I hope your day is going just as well!

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Calorie counting

This is the journal of a fat runner, aiming to be less fat and a better runner. So not only will The Fat Runner be running more (starting again in a few weeks time, injury permitting) but he'll also be eating a more healthy diet.

Now most people trying to lose weight will be told to start a food diary. Write down everything you eat and then you can understand where the sins are creeping in. But how do you know how healthy (or not) your diet actually is, unless you take your food diary to be analysed by a professional nutritionist?

Well The Fat Runner has been using something for the last few weeks called Sparkpeople which allows you to track your food using their easy-to-use food diary, but also has a very active forum, groups you can join depending on where you are, what you're trying to do, any special conditions etc., an exercise tracker, suggested diets and exercise programmes, and many other things to keep you informed and motivated as you lose weight and get fitter.

The downside? Well if you're not based in the US, then it may be tricky to find some of the foods and ingredients that TFR would use in the UK... But it's normally possible to find something which is about right.

One benefit the TFR is finding is that the 'sin' of eating a biscuit or drinking a glass of wine is more immediate. Rather than him thinking 'oh well, no-one will notice - I'll just work harder tomorrow' or something similar, the evidence is there in black and white of his submission to temptation!

If you want to have something which has more UK foods, then Weight Loss Resources may be for you, but they do charge a monthly membership fee whereas Sparkpeople is free to use.

Monday, 17 September 2007

London Tree-athlon: Race report

The 5k London tree-athlon race was a great success. Great weather, great course, lots of competitors and a large crowd. In all a great success!!

As you will know, although The Fat Runner was training quite hard for this run, an injury last week meant that he wasn't able to compete. But his wife was running so he went down to support and was impressed and motivated by the large crowds and competitor field.

As this was the first 5k race which TFR has been to, there are a few thoughts he had which he'd like to share with other potential novice runners:

Firstly, there are a WIDE range of abilities. Sure, there were some people at the front of the race who were able to finish the 5k in less than 17 minutes, and there were some people who were finishing well after 40 minutes or more had passed.

Secondly, runner shapes are VERY deceptive. Once the top 20 or so athletes had gone past (who were all very trained, and very obviously so), the remainder of the field was very mixed. There were some people running 20 minute 5k's who were really quite wobbly, and equally some people who were taking 30-35 minutes looked to be extremely toned. It all goes to show that you can't judge a book by its cover. It also goes to show that even if you do have a few wobbly bits, there's a very good chance that you'll be able to beat those people who look like they're very very fit (but in reality, might just be eating very little and getting very little exercise).

All in all, The Fat Runner was very disappointed not to have been able to take part, but is also more motivated than ever to get out running again once his leg has healed, and to find a 5k for late October!

Friday, 14 September 2007

Map of my run before my injury

Map of HP - accident run>

Rehabilitation continues

TFR feels bad that he started this blog about a fat guy running, and he hasn't been able to talk much about running!

Rehabilitation, however, is continuing, and he has found a great way of reducing the pressure on his calf strain. It is through heel lifts!

He has put a wad of paper into the heel of his show, which lifts the heel relative to the toes, and so reduces the strain on his calf. It also means he is a slight bit taller, which is good when his wife is close to 6 feet tall!

The 5k race he entered for down in Battersea Park is tomorrow. He will be going down there to lend some support to his wife, but will only be able to look on from the sidelines. But given the way the rehabilitation is going, he is hoping to be able to run in just a little over 2 weeks. Hopefully he won't have lost too much conditioning in the time away from running!

His next post will be a report of the run, hopefully with some pictures, and should be some inspiration for those of you who have always thought about doing a race, but never quite plucked up the courage!

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Running injury getting better!! Starting weights...

Great news!!

TFR's leg is getting better already!! Ok, so there is no way he's going to be able to do the 5k race he was hoping to do this weekend in Battersea, but his range of movement has increased.

He did some research on the internet into calf strain yesterday, and the symptoms described of gastrocnemius strain matched exactly. When he pushes his toes up towards his knee, he gets pain in the middle of his calf, rather than lower down which would probably be soleus strain. For those who don't know, the gastrocnemius and soleus are the two major muscles in the lower leg.

So he now feels better because he understands a little more about what is wrong, and how long it will take to fix - approximately 1-2 weeks before the strain goes away.

TFR has booked an appointment to take the stitches out next Tuesday, so hopefully a week after that he will be able to do some light training on his leg...

In the meantime, however, the TFR has temporarily become TFWT - The Fat Weight Trainer! At the weekend, he had bought some weights from Argos (a UK-based catalogue store) and started using them last night.

Weight training routine (for someone with no weights bench, and unable to use his legs...)

3x15 alternate standing press with dumbells
3x15 concentration biceps curls
3x15 lateral raises
3x15 reverse flies
3x15 front raises
3x15 single arm rows

Whole thing takes about 40 minutes including a rest period. TFR (TFWT) is keeping the weights relatively light for the first set until he gets more warmed up, and then slapping another plate onto either side of the dumbell...

And his wife likes feeling his muscles once he has worked out and his muscles are pumped with blood ;-)

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Things TFR is grateful for even though he can't run right now

Things The Fat Runner is grateful for:

A park on his doorstep where he is able to run (even if it gets locked up by 8pm playing at least some part in him getting injured in the first place)

The stranger who trusted him enough to let him use her mobile phone to call his wife, despite looking like he'd just been in a fight

The doctor who stitched his leg, and was able to do so with a combination of care, professionalism and humour

The fact that he can walk at all - it's when these things happen that you focus on what you do have rather than what you don't have

His wonderful wife - who has been understanding, supportive, calm, generous and loving while he has been feeling annoyed and frustrated.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Running injury

The Fat Runner feels stupid.

Less than a day after he started The Fat Runner blog, he is injured.

How did it happen?

Well TFR decided he was going to go to Hyde Park for his normal 3 mile run to see how he was progressing before his first 5K race.

Well the good news is that he did it in 29 minutes which is a full minute faster than he has ever done 3 miles!

But now we come to the stupid bit.

Hyde Park gets locked up at night. The Fat Runner thought it was only the minor gates which were locked, as he is sure the Royal Parks website says the park is open until midnight...

But anyway, at 8:50pm, TFR found himself unable to get out of the park. In the end, he decided to climb over a fence - only a short one - but one with spikes on the top. As he dropped to the other side, his shoe got caught between two spikes and pulled the inside of his calf onto one of the spikes...

So, once over the other side, he looks down at his leg and is finding that he's bleeding quite freely.

A quick call to TFR's wife later, he is in the car being taken to the Chelsea and Westminster hospital. By that point thankfully most of the bleeding had stopped, and 2 hours later TFR was hobbling out with 4 stitches in his leg.

Now for the thing which is most annoying... TFR can't run for 3 to 4 weeks!! Aarggghhh!!! So I can't do the 5K next weekend. And I can't even keep training to improve my fitness and reduce my weight... So what am I going to do instead??



I'll let you know tomorrow.

By the way, the picture shows my right shoe with the contents of my leg, after they had run out, down my leg, soaked my sock, and only THEN got onto my shoe...

Monday, 10 September 2007

First 5K race

So, I've been running for about two months. Sometimes 3 or even 4 times a week. And sometimes I haven't run at all.

But I to give myself some motivation, I decided to enter a 5K race. It's called the London Tree-athlon and it is going to be run in Battersea Park.

The fastest I've run 5K before has been about 30 minutes. But I'm hoping that the training over the last few months, as well as losing a few more kilo's, will allow me to run this one a little quicker. Anything close to 28 minutes would make me very happy. Still much, much slower than I'd like to go eventually, but it would make me happy for now.

Wish me luck!

Running gadgets

Running gadgets have substantially helped my motivation to run. Perhaps it's because I'm male and I like gadgets, but I certainly seem to run more with them.

So what is my number 1 gadget? Very easy question - it's the Garmin Forerunner 305.

You will be able to read many other reviews of the Forerunner, so I'm just going to provide a brief description and tell you how I use it.

So what is the Forerunner?

The Forerunner is a GPS HRM watch. It is a watch with a GPS receiver built into it, as well as having the ability to track your heart rate through a chest strap. You can therefore use this watch to understand your current speed, speed since you set off, your lap speed (more on that later) etc. as well as making sure you are keeping your heart rate where you want it!

So how do I use the Forerunner?

These are the things I set up most on my Forerunner:

For training runs, I try to keep a relatively low heart rate - around 150bpm - which means I run far more slowly than I can run, but I also can run longer. The Forerunner allows me to set an alarm for when I go over a particular heart rate and reminds me to slow down.

For runs where I'm pushing myself to see how fast I can run a course, then I'll set the heart rate limit much higher - at around 170bpm. It's there just to make sure I don't run so fast that I'll need to walk part of the course. The other thing I'll do is to set the Forerunner's 'virtual partner'. This allows me to run against myself, the last time I did the course! There are two main screens I can use to see if I am running faster or slower than my previous time - but it's a great motivator to run against the best you've ever run!

Lastly, for both types of run, I set the 'auto-lap' feature. Again, the Forerunner gives you lots of different options for how it calculates laps. I set it to auto-lap every half mile, which means every half mile, the watch beeps and I can look down at it to see how long my last half-mile took.

Anyway, those are the ways I like to use my Forerunner - let me know your favourite functions too!

First steps

This is the first post in The Fat Runner blog - do let me know what you think of the blog, where it can be expanded or where you would like me to focus more time.

I will post tomorrow with a little bit more about myself and what I'm trying to do to get fitter, healthier and lighter.

The blog will encompass everything I'm doing. It will look at what I'm eating, what exercise I'm doing, what gadgets, books, magazines, supplements I'm buying. In short, you'll have full insight into everything I'm doing.

I'll also keep you up to date with some of the major statistics I'm trying to shift. The major ones are my weight, my body fat percentage and my running times.

So for now, feel free to subscribe to the blog, put the RSS into your RSS page or whatever, sit back and enjoy the journey - I know I will!