Friday, 5 August 2011

Changing the way I do my food shopping

Tonight when we went food shopping I found I was looking at everything in a different way.  I was paying a lot more attention to what I was putting in the shopping trolley.  This is a response to reading the book "Racing Weight", which I am about half way through I would like to add.

Wherever possible I was replacing refined foods by wholegrain foods.  For instance I bought wholegrain pasta for the first time.  I was also purchasing natural yoghurt instead of syrupy flavoured yoghurt.  There were quite a lot of soups in my trolley too, because apparently eating soup before your main meal helps to satisfy your appetite a little, and you end up eating less overall.

I also spotted some bee pollen, which is considered by many as a superfood, and couldn't resist putting that in my trolley.  Usually superfoods taste like crap but this one is actual nice tasting.  I really hate the taste of maca for instance, despite its numerous health benefits.

Now is the time to start eating my way through these healthy foods.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Going once, going twice, not yet gone - Holmes place ZH 6 month membership reduced to its lowest possible price - I will not allow it to be sold for any less now

I still have had no offers on for my Holmes Place ZH gym and spa membership, so I have reduced the reserve price to the lowest possible price that I could accept.  Before it was for sale with a reserve price of 700CHF.  Now I have lowered the reserve price to 600CHF.  Any less would be an insult.

Come on guys and girls - someone in Zurich must want it.  For gym and spa membership, 100CHF a month is not that much, and I mean that.

There is no way on earth you will get the same deal by going directly to the club.  At the club itself the usual price for both gym and spa membership for 6 months is 1,390CHF.  The only way I am able to offer this low price is because Holmes Place ZH donated the membership to me for free, to help my fundraising campaign, in return for nothing more than a little publicity.  And the start date for the membership is flexible.

It would really help my Mencap Marathon des Sables fundraising campaign if I could sell this membership.  I still have 3,200GBP left to raise.  That doesn't seem so bad when you think that I have already raised more than this, but in all truth I am fast running out of sponsors.  I have already badgered most of my friends and family, and a lot of other people besides.  There are still a few people who have promised to donate, and some I am sure will nearer the time.  But remember that the sooner you can put it on my site the less stressed I will be.  There is nothing better than to get an email in my inbox saying that someone has just sponsored me on the virginmoneygiving site.  In the early days the total was increasing by hundreds of pounds each day, but in the last few months there has been relatively little activity.

My aim is not just to complete the Marathon des Sables but to do the Brits proud by coming in the top 25%.  This may seem like an impossible dream but I am happy to devote up to 20 hours per week to my training in January, February and March, even if that means only working half time.  These kind of challenges do not come along every day and I want to give it my all.

Double up your runs

Today I had not just one but two runs.  The reason was effective use of time.  I ran to work, carrying a pack with my clothes in it.  Then at lunchtime I went for a run with two colleagues.  Each run was very different as the first one was during the cooler part of the day but carrying additional weight, and then the lunchtime run was very hot.

This raises the interesting point though of whether single runs or double runs are better for you.  In other words is it better to run 2 times 5 miles or 1 time 10 miles.  The answer seems to depend on your current training mileage.  If you are already running fairly high mileage then the body can cope better with double runs than it can with single runs.  On the other hand if your weekly mileage is not that high and your body can cope with it fine, then single runs give a more effective training.   The other aspect to consider is time constraints.  Most of us only have limited time in the day, and we may be able to fit in 2 runs of 1 hour but not be able to fit in a single run of 2 hours.  In this case double runs may be the preferred choice.

On a separate note I have started reading the book I ordered recently on how to achieve your racing weight.  This is the weight at which your performance is at its best.  I am learning a lot by reading it, and can't wait to try out the advice.  The section on nutrient timing is particularly interesting.  It talks about how the best way to become lean is to eat according to what you are doing at that time of day - in other words it is not only about what you eat but also when you eat.  During the parts of the day when your body needs lots of calories you should eat more and then in the periods when you are just sitting at your desk you should eat less.  This encourages the body not to store fat, like it would if you ate your big meal during the sedentary part of the day (like most of us do).

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Beware - fast moving bicycles

In general the attitude of drivers in Switzerland towards cyclists is pretty good.  The main reason for this is that cyclists here are so common, so they are very used to sharing the roads with them.  However, you still get the odd idiot who just has no idea.  Take for instance the bike ride I just came back from.  I was cycling fast along the main road (30km/h or so) and a car was joining the main road from the left at a diagonal.  He could clearly see me coming but still kept pulling out.  In the end I was either going to cycle into the rear right hand side wing of the car if I maintained my current path or I needed to take some evasive action.  So I went up the inside of him and overtook him along the inside.  It could have been that he was intending for me to do this, but I doubt that very much.  Usually when drivers intend that you go up the inside of them before they join the main road they leave enough space so it is clear what their intention is.

After he passed me I got a little blast of road rage and chased behind him for a good kilometre or so, hoping that he would stop so I could have a few harsh words with him.  He didn't stop but in the next village he had to slow down in the pedestrianised area, and I took the chance to overtake him.  As I passed the drivers side window I gave him a deathly glare but there was no reaction.  So I left it at that and cycled off.  If nothing else it gave me a good fast burst of speed for a kilometre or so, and a good dose of adrenalin.

I haven't been doing that much cycling since La Marmotte so I am a little worried I need to do more work on the bike.  The best is probably if I try to cycle to and from work as much as possible, as every little helps, especially if I put in some bursts of speed along the way.  Also, I can try to do a long ride this weekend as my friend had to cancel the Barrhorn trip due to other commitments, so I now have the weekend free.  The best weekend plan would probably be one long bike ride and one long hike rather than two days of hiking alone.   The reason for this is that I need to to cycle in order to do the Vuelta Sudamericana and to hike in order to climb Kilimanjaro.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Sleep deprivation and its effect on motivation levels

This morning we had to wake up at 4.45am in order to catch the TGV from Paris to Zurich.  On top of that we were out quite late every night during our bridge weekend trip.  The lack of sleep has really taken its toll and going out for a run is the last thing on my mind at the moment.  All I can picture right now is my bed saying "Sleeeeep sleeeeep".

Don't get me wrong, it was a great weekend.  It's just that I am not a party animal these days and there is almost never a chance of me turning into a pumpkin by being out past the stroke of midnight.  What I find most striking though is how the amount of sleep we get affects our motivation levels.  For instance, normally when I have a good night's sleep I can't wait to go for a run in the evening, but now after a night of only a few hours sleep my motivation level to go jogging is rock bottom.

Even my motivation to continue writing this post is fading.  So I am off to bed now my friends.  I will come back when my motivation levels have had 40 winks :)).  Sweet dreams to all.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Life balance

I have been reading various blogs about trying to achieve life balance, and I think this is a very interesting topic.  It is easy to get totally absorbed by a new project and forget about everything else around you.  For instance there is the classic mistake many people make of getting a new girlfriend/ boyfriend and forgetting about the existence of their other friends.  Then suddenly the relationship ends and they wonder why noone calls them to invite them out or ask how they are feeling.

I have as a youth been very poor at achieving a balance.  I would throw myself head first into new projects and new relationships.  Then whenever I took a moment to examine my life I wondered why for instance I was playing squash 7 days a week for 3 hours a day, and what it was actually achieving me.  Then I would give it up and the pattern would repeat with something else.  Throughout my youth I have at various points been completely absorbed by running or cycling or squash or martial arts or exploring new countries.

I think in the last few years I have become much better at achieving a balance.  It is also extremely important to have the right partner to support you.  For instance in previous relationships I didn't feel I could enter events like La Marmotte because the girlfriends at that time would complain about the amount of time that I was spending on my bike.  It felt somehow like I wasn't able to do the things I wanted to do for myself, and everything I did felt like a compromise.  Of course in any relationship there need to be compromises - we are not clones after all.  But at the same time in a healthy relationship it is good for each partner to have their own mini projects too.

I am now at the point where I am fairly balanced, and I would like to stay in this state more or less.  I am focusssing my energy into both my relationship and my personal goals like the Marathon des Sables.  I have my freedoms but at the same time my responsibilities, like looking after our dog.  I am able to travel but at the same time I have a home to come back to.  Overall I am much happier than I used to be when I was not balanced.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Why is walking more tiring than running?

Yesterday we were walking around Paris and we went inside Le Louvre for a few hours.  What surprised me is that I can run for several hours with no after effects, but after walking around Paris for a couple of hours my legs were aching like hell.  It is not the first time I have noticed this difference between walking and running.  I usually find that a few hours of strolling and window shopping are much more tiring than running a half marathon at a slow to medium pace.

I am finding Paris much more lively than Zurich from what I have seen so far.  The streets were still buzzing at 2am, and there were lots of street entertainers even at that time of night/ morning.  I still love Zurich though, and despite it sometimes being a bit quiet the quality of life there is pretty much unrivalled.

A little tip by the way - if you want to visit Le Louvre try to do it on the first Sunday of the month.  On the first Sunday of each month the entrance is free.  Even on a  normal day it is only 10 EUR though, which is not expensive. 

Today we are taking it quite easy but tomorrow I will go for a quick run again.  Based on yesterdays run, there seem to be an awful lot of joggers in Paris, but most of them are fairly casual/ slow.  I must have passed several hundred runners in the park near our friend's house.  It was quite a boost to my self esteem to be passing so many people without even trying.