Thursday, 23 December 2010

Publicising my MDS 2012 entry. Success!!!!

Today I received a very exciting email from Concept2, one of the most if not the most well known manufacturer of rowing machines in the world.  Although they already support various charities directly and are not able to sponsor me, they agreed to feature me in their monthly newsletter which goes out to 20,000 people.  That is a much larger audience than I could have hoped for in terms of potential sponsorhip sources.

I now have to start thinking about what to write in my short summary and what kind of photo would be most appropriate.  I was thinking about taking a picture of me sitting on my Concept2 rower with a sign which reads in big letters "MDS 2012 for Mencap", and wearing one of those khaki desert caps with the fabric that covers your neck.  What do you think?  I was also thinking to add a link to my blog so people can follow my progress, but that got me thinking that maybe I need to set up a website of my own with a blogging section on it.

Some of you may have noticed by the way that I have monetised my blog and enabled GoogleAdsense.  Any money that I do get from Adsense I will be putting towards my fundrasing target, at least until my minimum fundraising target of 9,500GBP has been achieved.

I would like to add that I am now on holiday for the next week so I will have more time to update my blog with new and informative posts.  But that's all for today folks. 

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

To indulge or not to indulge? Christmas time is here again.

Tomorrow I will be taking the Eurostar from Paris to London, and I am hoping that this year my train does not get stuck because of "extra than fluffier snow", which was Eurostar's official explanation for last years fiasco.

Last year I was on one of the trains which reached the tunnel and then decided to turn round and head back to the outskirts of Paris.  Two days of being herded round like a sheep ensued for me and my fellow passengers.  Had Eurostar given me the option of getting out and running through the tunnel I think I would have accepted it in retrospect.  Fingers crossed this year will be better.

If I do manage to get back to the UK then it will be a xmas of nice food, family and wine, but also a xmas of training.  I can already feel the base fitness improving.  Once a week I do a lunchtime run with a work colleague and usually I am quite happy with the distance we cover.  But today I was feeling in great from and decided to extend it by an extra kilometre.  Now that I have been given a conditional offer of a place in the Marathon des Sables 2012, subject to completion of the documentation and a medical declaration signed by my doctor, the training will have to become ever more a part of my daily routine.

Actually though it is easy to incorporate some fitness into your daily routine even if it is a small amount.  For instance walking up or down the stairs instead of taking the lift, getting out of the tram one stop early and walking the last bit, using a powerball or handgrip whilst watching the television or whilst taking a coffee break at work and so on.  If you don't know what a powerball is, I highly recommend it.  It is a lot of fun and improves your grip strength at the same time.  Also if you get the one with the counter then you can take it into work and compete with your colleagues to see who can achieve the highest rpm.  Here is the link

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Massage - luxury or necessity?

What do you think of massage therapy?  Is it something you can do without or do you think it is an important part of a holistic approach to being healthy.  I personally tend to lean towards the latter, regardless of whether you are a sportsman/sportswoman or not.

I first started getting regular sports massage when I was weight training.  My muscles would become so tensed up after several hours of pumping iron in the gym and a sports massage was the perfect antidote.  The massage therapist that I used back then seemed to be believe in the "No pain no gain" approach.  He would use his thumbs to dig deep in my muscle and then apply his full body weight to it.  It wasn't pleasant at all but at least it prevented the cramps.  Then I moved to Switzerland and stopped the weight training and no longer felt that I needed the regular sports massage.

Time went on and then a few years later I was completing in my first Marmotte cyclosportive (a one day cycle race with 5000m of vertical climbing), when my knee started to cause me a lot of discomfort.  I managed to complete the event but as the days and weeks went on the pain stayed.  I could barely walk up or down stairs.  I booked an appointment with a sports therapist here in Zurich and when he examined me he said that all the pain was down to incredible short tight muscles which were locked up.  With regular weekly massages I recovered well.  His approach was completely the opposite of the first masseur and he told me that there is no need at all for the sports massage to be painful if it is done correctly.  He would always start by using ultrasound to work deep within the muscle.  I would have kept up regular sports massage with this guy but the problem was that he only had day appointments and it was hard to go to him during my working day due to my workload.

My next encounter with massage was following a very tough initiation to x-country skiing (skating style).  I went with one of my friends who was already accustomed to the technique and we covered a decent distance, but my technique was very bad and I was using my upper body strength far too much.  The next day I had an incredibly painful headache and the pain was over my right eye.  My friend had a suspicion that tension in my back had caused the headache and she was right.  When she pressed certain points on my back the pain would go away momentarily.  From this point onwards I decided I would take regular massage to address my muscle tension and indeed I have.

I am very lucky as at UBS we have our own on site massage service.  We do have to pay, but despite that it is still great that we can fit it so easily into a working day.  The other wonderful point is that the company offering massage services has many masseuses who offer different kinds of massage.  So over the last year I have experimenting with various massage techniques.  I would like to summarise my experiences as follows (but please remember that this is just my personal experience and other people may find for them another massage technique is their preferred choice):

1) Classic massage with ultrasound - this gave good recovery but I didn't feel any effect from the ultrasound part of the treatment.  Maybe it was working silently but it would be hard for me to tell.  At this point I was going for specific treatment and wasn't looking at the effect of the massage on my headaches.

2) Classic massage alone - this gave me quick temporary relief from my muscular symptoms but I didn't notice a really progressive improvement over time in terms of reduction in my tension headaches.

3) Shiatsu massage - this one I really like.  The masseuse used her elbows to apply pressure to various points on my back.  My back ached less as the weeks went on and although I still had some headaches the frequency was slightly reduced.

4) My personal favourite - acupuncture and classic massage combined.  There are 2 masseuses at UBS who offer acupuncture and both are very good.  The sessions begin with classic massage on my back, shoulders and neck to assess the problem points and to start to warm up the muscles.  When specific problem spots are found they use needles to activate the site and leave them for some time to do their work.  In addition they insert needles at various other points in the body such as the foot or the hand or the head to stimulate the body's own immune system.  Since I started this combination the number of headaches I suffer from has reduced drastically and I no longer get backache.  In addition touchwood I seem to have a healthier immune system.  It is probably not only the acupuncture/classic massage which is improving my health but the combination of this plus yoga.  However I had also been doing yoga during the period I was receiving Shiatsu and didn't notice quite such a powerful effect as with this combination.

Monday, 20 December 2010

MDS 2012

Dear friends, Romans and countrymen

I don't know if you know what MDS is, but it has been deemed one of the toughest footraces on the planet.  Running through the Sahara desert in searing heat, and completing 5.5 marathons in 6 days.  Only crazy people attempt it.  But I want to be one of them.  There is a certain camaraderie in these events that you can never forget afterwards.

Entries for 2011 and 2012 are full via the non-charity routes, but a few of the charities still have places for 2012.  I applied to do it for Mencap and they have said that I have a high likelihood of being chosen as long as I submit a detailed fundraising plan in the next few days.  In order to go I need to commit to raising 9,500GBP for Mencap.

I will of course be putting up a significant amount of money myself.  I haven't decided exactly how much yet, but I am thinking of 2,000GBP or thereabouts.  So that leaves me with 7,500GBP to raise.  It won't be easy but with all of your help, however big or small I am sure I can make it.

I am not sure the best way to do this yet, but I will probably set up a website with a payment link on it so that people can contribute.  As soon as I have sorted that part out I will post it here on my blog.  But in the meantine if you would like to contribute please let me know and it will give me a better idea of how realistic it is for me to achieve the fundraising target.

A big shout out to you all