“On-On” – Running the Hash

Well!

hash picture hashers2

I’d been eagerly awaiting the chance to do my first jungle run and rather than thrashing through the nearest mangrove, armed with a machete and leech socks, I coerced a new friend from Seria to bring me to the local ‘hash’. I had been told about the tradition of hashing by DOUG, who was part of the inaugural Hash House harriers (or 3H/HHH) in Kuala Lumpur during an ex-pat posting. On further research, I discovered that Brunei was the very first female-only hash in the world, so all in, it was sounding like a good opportunity (and perhaps the safest option) for exploring the off-road terrain. Read HERE for a bit more info on the Brunei chapter.

With local hash names (given, never designated by the member) like “Yackie fackie”, I didn’t know what to expect from the outing but I made BEN promise not to leave me to be swallowed up by termite mounds, overcome by fire ants, tousled by a bearded pig etc. weehashersThis picture is a bit more akin to the Labi Road hash set-up; you turn onto the 50 Km stretch, which has a cluster of local housing but which gradually gives way to jungle either side. Basically drive until you see a collection of cars randomly parked along the verges and voila! that’s very likely the hash. I had worn head to foot clothing cover. Ben was in shorts n vest! I am far far too tasty to the local fauna to risk that and expecting the odd stumble in highly undulating terrain, I chose baking in the heat over having my blood sucked and believe me, once inside the canopy, the atmosphere was oven-like, as you would expect. We said some hellos and discovered there was another “virgin” there tonight, a first-timer like me.

imagesCAH2H2X9Following roll-call and payment of $5 to cover post-run refreshment 😉 Ben explained a few protocols about registering where you are and if you’re following the right trail. No sooner were we off than the hoots of “on-on” and “on-up” (signifying that the route is ascending) started and boy, there were some calf busting near scrambles! arm jungleI’d been warned to look before I grabbed and I followed this advice as trees and shrubs assisted our movement through the forest. I was toasty in my long sleeve neon top and glad of the Camel bak tee-shirt I had worn underneath, allowing me to drink on the run whilst keeping my hands free. I’d also brought a waist-pack containing gloves, a head-torch and a CLIF bar and I’d worn my Suunto watch and tested out the compass and altimeter quite a few times. I was also very glad of my INOV-8 Roclite’s, which aren’t a kick in the pants different from the authentic wellies (same sole) or rubber sticky outer of the professional hashers gym-shoes. See what you think:

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In total I was in the forest for about 75 minutes and as I was setting the pace for myself and Ben, I ended up notably “off-paper” twice, which was more to do with having found a previous trail (white loo-roll with yellow dots in comparison to this hash, using plain white) and not checking….but that’s why it was great to have an experienced hasher alongside and I’d recommend buddying up with someone sympathetic to your pace, ability and novice status. The paper was draped, mostly at eye-level but sometimes on the ground, usually within glancing distance from the previous markings. Occasionally the path would be scattered with shredded paper. Quite amusing having to examine toilet paper to ascertain the direction  of the hash 🙂 The going was pretty good underfoot, a mix of deep leafy trail, bush, gnarly root systems, crumbly sandy embankments and equally crumbly verticals, trees and leafy undergrowth at all angles and a couple of (thankfully) dryish waterways,

DSC_0236Interestingly enough, after using hill-walking and running techniques including hands on hips and hands on knees to push up through some very steep little sections, my instinct was to break into a jog as soon as I was able and found this really shook off the ascents before the next one was upon us. And I only got one fly in my gob! I was starting to lose my breathe as the compass began registering East, showing that we were on our way towards the road. Following a couple of boggy crossings over make-shift log bridges (I took a slight detour to use a lower, wider, more girly log) and making a couple of easy leaps, very like jumping from one pile of rushes to another when running through wetlands, the clearing came into view.

I was quite tired from continually scanning the ground for over an hour but as we met a hasher walking back down the route, I urged Ben to ‘pretend to sprint’ into the clearing, as if we had been running the whole time. As if! But it was apparent that many of the local hashers had taken a shortcut (which is entirely allowed) and almost everyone was home and already stripped or changed and quaffing a Tiger beer! To a few cheers of “the virgin is back”, I treated myself to an ice-cold 100Plus as the second virgin and the sweeper emerged from the canopy. It seemed like the night was just getting started – as the darkness closed in, a small fire had been built, there was talk of food and the beer buckets were being re-stocked. But we couldn’t stay.

It’s about a 30 minute drive back to Panaga, so we headed off to shouts of “See you next week”. Too right! Although one gent stated that tonight’s was a relatively easy, short one with no check-points [where the front runners have to hunt around for the trail continuation and then mark back towards the cross, for the subsequent slower “hounds”], this hasn’t put me off one bit. I *did* see some rather large ants on my travels but made it home unscathed by The Biters.

bugs blog

This time 🙂

Kit List: The North Face merino socks, INOV-8 Roclite GTX 212, Sugoi compression tights, Camelbak hydration vest, Long sleeve Neon Brooks top, Ben Fogle Buff, Suunto vector Altimeter, Pete Bland waist-pack (containing) Blueberry CLIF bar, Ron Hill gloves, Petzl Tikka2 headtorch. Cologne of choice: DEET spray called OFF!

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Hot weather training – distance running goals

Last week we moved from the temporary accommodation provided by my husbands company, to our new permanent home – a rented terraced townhouse, not unlike the one we left behind in Scotland! What this means as far as training is concerned, is that I now get to have my very own gym, on the top floor, with balcony. The luxury! Well, it’s far from luxurious and is really just a mish-mosh of gear at the moment but I am hoping to pimp it up a bit with mirrors, storage and maybe a barbell. For now, it is functional and allows me to run, cycle, stretch and cross-train: what more could a girl need?

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The treadmill is an inexpensive lesser-known brand Powertech and suits all my current needs; it is very good at dealing with a vast amount of sweat pouring onto it! The cycling set-up is basically a duff old stainless steel framed mountain bike I won as a safety award from Baker Hughes, a new rear road-tyre from Wiggle and a Riva Tesla Turbo-trainer trainer from Sport Pursuit. No proper computer on it but I am training for X duration at < 130 bpm, so I just wear my Garmin Heart-rate monitor and I’m all good.

IMG-20130513-03254I’ve been trying to do the majority of my running outside; only taking to the gym when I had no available time in the cooler hours between 6-8am or 5-7pm. Now that it’s time to start upping the distance towards the 20+ mile mark, I had hoped to run outside for ~2 hours and then finish off the distance inside on the treadmill, although I worried that these later stage miles would not be as affective if they were run in cooler conditions. Not to worry! The top floor of the house has an ambient of 29-33 degC, so although there is an air-conditioning unit in the room, I have been keeping it switched off, thus getting a full “hot climate” work-out!

The furthest I have run in the home-gym has been 10K straight through and one 10 mile session carried out in 5K/6K/5K chunks with a water re-fill in-between. The black fridge/freezer we brought from the UK is now the designated “beer” fridge, which would be fairly incongruent in the gym, save only for the water dispenser in the front! I also keep my electrolye tabs and TORQ fuel in there too.

Because of the high temperatures, the running is slower and I lower and raise the speed on the treadmill or my own pace when outside, to keep my heart-rate constant. Maximum heart-rate is desired as 165 bpm and an average of 140 bpm ideally. I am noting duration, average speed versus heart-rate in my training diary and will be looking for trends in fitness as my mileage and conditioning progresses.

Meanwhile my remaining running goals for 2013 are:

  1. Acclimatise to running in high humidity heats of 30+degC
  2. Remain injury free
  3. Become au fait with off-road jungle terrain

I have ear-marked a few key races for me, which will be a helluva lot of fun but also strategic to these and longer term goals.

  1. Marathon D’ile Maurice (July, Mauritius, 42 Km) – as a training run for (2) and also to try and run under 5 hours in 25+ degC conditions. Plus of course, Mauritius is a beautiful place and will be another island off the bucket-list. It also happens to fall on the weekend before my birthday.
  2. Speyside Way Ultramarathon (August, UK, 58 Km) – determined to finish an ultra without stomach or derrier issues! I completed this last year after a fairly horrendous but also extremely full-filling experience in just under 7.5 hours; I’d like to think I could do something different/ better in 2013.
  3. The Most Beautiful Thing (September, Malaysia, 25-30 Km) – to experience some local hills, valleys, forest and scenery around Kota Kinabalu and associated forests. Officially called Colourcoil TMBT Ultramarathon, the 100K runners who finish in < 30 hours earn 3 points towards UTMB. That means the course is challenging (hence why I’m starting with the short distance, did I say “starting” there? 😉 )

So it’s going to be a fairly intense few months of training, leading up to a few months of eventing (I shake my head when I try and call these “races”). As ever, the planning phase for my training has been intense, profuse, detailed and because I know I am a ‘planner’ by nature, I’ve allowed myself to draw up schedule after schedule, move things around, prescribe every aspect……so now I’m ready to RELAX and commit to my long distance runs as well as a few things which have ‘just happened to come my way’, so I’m not going to knock the Universe on that. So, having said all that, my week looks like this, with a couple of step-back weeks of low intensity for development. I’ve also started incorporating short HIIT and a glutes work-out wherever/whenever I feel like it, which currently, is most days 🙂

Monday – 10 miles (am)

Tuesday – 30-40 minute sprint session with local ladies running club (pm)

Wednesday – jungle hash ( 1-1.5 hours) (pm)

Thursday – MASSAGE (am)

Friday – reformer pilates (am) / bike session (pm)

Saturday – REST

Sunday – long run (various distances)

Borneo Half Marathon – the Unoffical Night Run

The Borneo Half Marathon was due to take place on May 5th in Kota Kinabalu (KK), in the Malaysian State of Sabah – to the North East of Brunei. However the race was cancelled (I’m not getting paranoid yet, but this is becoming a familiar story in my race calendar) due to local elections. Like many of the runners, we had non-refundable air and hotel bookings so decided to go anyway and a few ladies from Panaga were also due to run, so we all made our various routes towards Sabah; ours being an early morning drive across the southern border to Miri, Sarawak and a flight with AirAsia. [I sat beside a tiny ultrarunner who had previously competed the HongKong 100K- he and his friend ogled my Dean Karnazes book ‘Ultramarathonman”].

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KK will be the stepping off point for the TMBT in September, so we checked into the Hyatt Regency which was very plush and had lovely seaview rooms, delicious buffet lunch with traditional drum and dancer display and a luxurious spa.

There had been talk about meeting up for an unofficial night-run round the proposed routes and I quite fancied that, so I took my stuff and kept an eye on the website for further updates. Meantime, the Brunei ladies all met up at the race expo which was in this huge shopping mall called Suriah Sabah – a monstrous L-shaped multi-layered complex with higher end shops like Coach and Levi through to local style supermarkets and cafes in the basement.

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We bumped into lots of other runners, since we all seemed to have had the same idea of changing into our race tee-shirts. I got directions to the local outdoor survival shop from one gent and bought a snakebite kit and a small torch.

We spoke to a couple from Taiwan, whilst I was buying my very bright Adidas race leggings (as per the cover of last months Runner’s World magazine) and Wan (spelling?) had studied a year at Herriot-Watt and he and his girlfriend Avalyn (sp?) would be running the full marathon that night. There were various rumours about start-times for FM/HM but my plan was to just turn up at 21:30 and use the course map to navigate round. Wan thought 9pm, others were going for 10.30pm. Hmmmmm

Back near the hotel, Liz, Rachel and Marie ‘s other halves had ‘forced’ my OH to drink beer and therefore, I knew I was on my own for the race (the ladies had all had a run and were looking forward to a nice dinner/drinking in an actual pub, since Brunei is a dry country). I decided I would get a taxi but luckily, a local runner Hazazi offered to give me a lift. Well now, my Mum would have a hairy fit if she knew I was accepting a lift to a remote location in a foreign town and country, from someone I had met only days previously through FaceBook (!!) but I went with my gut and runners are usually a genuine, friendly bunch, so I said OK and we headed out to the Lika Stadium at 08:40pm.

Hazazi was meeting numerous friends and I was introduced as we started amassing in the car-park near the would-be start. The KK runners were handing out red bicycle lights for clipping on, as we would be running on open busy roads, in the dark. I had worn reflective, bright clothing and we would be running in groups for safety. So it was not to be a race. I hoped there would be some people at my pace, although I didn’t care about time I just wanted to complete the distance as a training run.

After some discrepancy in start-times, with foreigners who didn’t know the route being paired up with cyclists, I discovered the half runners had left already and the next bacth wouldn’t be going until 10:30 😦 Luckily someone let me use their phone and I rang OH to tell him I would get a lift home. Hazazi was looking after the orphaned Scottish girl and would also give me a lift back to town; how nice was that? Especially as he was due to run the 10K so would be waiting for hours…….so we agreed that I would run with him to the 5K turnaround point which was roughly at a Shell petrol station (an unofficial toilet/water station).

We started off in 2s and 3s and ran towards the sea, via some roundabouts, it was vaguely down-hill so I noted that for the return, as the course was a ‘lollipop’ (out and back route with a loop at mid-way). I was at conversational pace for the first few Ks which were along the coast-line but eventually H urged me on, so I tried to catch up with one of his friends Jasmie who was just ahead. I ran with him for a few more roundabouts and then another friend, Burn, appeared from an impromptu toilet-stop, so the three of us started a slight ascent on the main carriageway towards the University, where the hill-challenge lay. borneo water stationLuckily there were some volunteer water stations which also had 100Plus dotted along the course, some with tables, others from the back of a truck! So many thanks to everyone who manned these. The race might have been at night but it was still melting hot. I know now to just watch my heart-rate and slow down if it gets high, regardless of pace. We were pretty steady, speaking in clips and taking turns running on the outside. I was sweeping the hand-held torch I’d picked up in the outdoor shop, in our paths when the street light waned and occasionally swept it along the tree-line. The frogs were really loud! I held my precious electrolyte drink in the UltrAspire Handheld which is fast becoming my new race-buddy, despite saying after the Crathes Half 2012 that it was too heavy for just a half marathon (when I’m presumably meant to be running fast as opposed to an ultra-distance where I’m just bimbling along “enduring”).

borneo halfJasmie fell back a bit, so I was running now with Burn, who told me he had completed the TMBT 25K option last year and was moving up to 50Ks in September. Interesting, so I started asking a few questions and, well, we had a little race up the hill ! I wanted to see if I still remembered how to run a proper gradient as I hadn’t done so for a few months since I left Scotland. As we came through the campus, we hit the first of 3 inclines. Burn had a slight advantage in that he knew where we were going and how long the hills were whereas I was just striding with my head down; we both notably picked up the pace up-hill and I started to breathe hard for the first time. I was glad when we crested the top of the hill and then……suddenly we were lost! Looking back at the route map, it seems we should have gone right at the University but I think we went left and up another hill. Burn asked a passing student but we had no idea which right turn to take. J had easily caught up by then (humph! all our hard work on the hill was lost) and we all agreed that it would be better to do too far than be under 21Km, so we eased down towards the far right turn, knowing that what goes down must come up. I let gravity take me and coasted down but I think this is where the other two suffered the most- downhill hates quads, luckily I am poorly developed in that area 🙂

bim route half

Another ramp up, turning us back onto our original route and we were passed the half way mark and on our way home. I suggested we took a short walk to allow J to join us (and to get a breather) but after a minute or 2, Burn had had enough and we started jogging again and enjoyed the downhill we had previously attacked! We didn’t wait for Jasmie but Burn assured me that he knew the way alright and I gently reminded him that I did not (ie stay with me please).

By now the full marathon guys and gals who had set off at 9pm, were starting to come up towards us. I asked what the Malay for “Well done” was but was too chicken to say it, so just clapped or gave some encouragement in English. Everyone was so smiley and happy, like any run, some were struggling, some were coasting; we all waved.

I was glad to see the Shell garage as we excused ourselves amongst folks who were gathering on the pavements, probably wondering what was going on. Cars were tooting and shouting at us and we got a few more water stations before the final roundabout.

I was pushing quite hard now as my heart-rate had been slowly rising from mile 10 and I felt the lethargy of my 6am start, flight, expo. The last food I had eaten, being 8 hours previous, was a distant memory and hunger started itching at me to finish! We both speeded up and as I mounted the pavement over the last bridge I felt something go click in my right ankle. “No! The Achilles site, please don’t let it be the Achilles”. I didn’t want to sustain an injury on such an optional non-race as tonight (or at any other time for that matter) but there was no further pain and less than a mile to go……then suddenly we were finished! Only 12.65 miles. I said to Burn “I need to go on and complete the half marathon distance”, he understood and ran with me- a few laps around the complex until my Garmin said 13.11 miles. DONE!

Then I rested. I thanked Burn profusely for running with me (he looked like he could have sprinted off at any moment) and whilst I was topping up on cooler water at the running clubs’ van, Jasmie came in and had some pictures taken with Burn, Hazazis and a few others. Thank God no one wanted my picture as I felt quite gash, queasy and like I wanted to lie down. Of course I couldn’t, but I sat on the grass until we were ready to go. I felt very tired and light-headed and sick with hunger. I thanked Hazazis for everything – basically I probably wouldn’t have gone if he hadn’t offered me that lift – and made my way to the hotel-room. Luckily my OH hadn’t stayed out drinking so he got me some full fat coke and a huge bag of crisps from the mini-bar 😉 I collapsed into bed after a quick shower.

IMG-20130513-03254Next morning I went for a full-body massage and asked for them to be careful around the Achilles area. Time will tell what’s actually happened there. I felt yet again much better and had some delicious noodles for brunch at the Mosaic café. Spoke with another few runners in the distinctive race tee-shirt and felt pleased to be able to say “I ran it”. I also got a little present for my efforts – a Suunto Vector watch –  to help me with my hiller running and it includes a temperature gauge as well as altimeter. I’m looking forward to using it in the jungle hash.

We were also fair chuffed to get to Miri and find that the car was in one piece. The OH took another opportunity to stock up on beer before we crossed the border. So, another hot  race experience, in another part of the world. Unfortunately I can’t make the re-scheduled date as I’ll be in the UK (running) but I WILL be back to KK for the trail event in September and hopefully a few recce runs with my new Malaysian buddies before then.

Distance: 13.11 miles / Time: 2:23:50 / Race-pack contents: Newton technical tee-shirt, Newton sports socks, PowerBar, various money-off tokens / Race shoes: Purple Nike Lunarglide+ 4 / Race cothes: Adidas capris, 2XU socks (bought at the expo), Black Ron Hill reflective Fetch Everyone vest, Black Fetch buff

Brunei Half Marathon

How long does it take a frequent runner to acclimatise from Scottish winter to Equatorial summer, where the mercury hits 30+ degrees? Longer than three weeks, you betcha….and here’s how I know.

The Brunei Half Marathon was entered at the start of 2013, as I rejoiced at finding a distance race in my new home country. I would run the same distance in the UK as a benchmark and then train on heart-rate until I was at a similar fitness and voila, everything would be hunky-dory. As time passed I was beginning to think we wouldn’t even make it over for the race, so 3 weeks to get used to the heat and humidity went something like:

IMG-20130318-029825K at 10:30am=beetroot and dying, 6K at 8am=still cream crackered and lung-less, 5K at 7am/5pm=almost bearable at a barely jogging pace. Longest run of 7 miles and 21 days in country …..oh, OK then.

But it wasn’t that bad. Race strategy was (a) don’t race (b) don’t exceed 175 bpm unless it’s a sprint to the loo or the final 10 metres (c) keep salted and hydrated (d) enjoy the city. I managed (nearly) all of those, slowed down when I had to, jogged all the inclines and had a tough but steady event, finishing in a not-too-slovenly 2:13:34 and I can honestly say, I was pleased with that.

Pace splits/heart-rate (the last 3 miles after the morning hotted up were very tough)

5K in 30.55 / 10K in 63.05/16K in 1.42/21K in 2.13

So roughly: 5K/5K/6K/5K in 31, 32, 39, 31 minutes, so you can see where the hills were but it was still pretty even. OK, important to me for this first hotter race but I promise the stats are over now for the descriptive and pictures.

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We stayed at The Empire Hotel in the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan and I enjoyed being go-karted around between our wing and the main building. The complex is mahooosive and I look forward to a more exploratory return. I endured another highly painful foot torture-massage but felt brilliant the next morning for our 4 am start.

We arrived at the Hassanal Bolkiah stadium (named after the current Sultan of Brunei) P1000301and the place was buzzing with athlete’s, media and rows of food stalls serving rice and noodle dishes, fruit punch and water; all at 5 am. No queue for the loos and soon we were huddling behind the start-line, waiting to stride out into the dark. I opted to run with the Ipod in 1 ear and carrying an UltrAspire Handheld full of Aquarius sports drink, which is widely available in Seria. The race was sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank who have a series of marathons and half marathons throughout the Far East, including Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore. We all got very nice turquoise/green tee-shirts and an over-sized mesh cap in our goody bags and can I just say that the expo and registration, although not well attended, was well organised and very friendly, with a personal smiley welcome and good-bye from their meet n greet team (this is proving typical of Brunei hospitality).

Back to the race! I was slightly taller and much paler than 90% of the participants and I felt there were at least twice as many first timers as there were regular runners (evident P1000295later when most of the 10K race was walking at the point where the half route merged). Of course this is fine until the last few miles when you’re tired and it’s hot and you’re weaving in and out of groups of walkers! I was in awe of the amount of fully clad head-to-foot in black, compression wearing folks, some with two layers on, including long sleeves and long socks. I saw one wheelchair entrant and at the 5K mark passed one single-legged blade-runner. There were a smattering of ex-pat types as well and I spotted a Dutch flag at the start-line. I tried not to stare at the Bruneian lady runners who were attempting to run in their Muslim headscarves: how hot would THAT have been (shudders). NIK6696_250_1Fair play to them! We were united in our goal though and we eased into the race start at 5.30 am and I waved at the cameras and tried to settle into a pace to the background noise of insects, feet falling on tarmac and ‘The Climb’ playing in one ear! I had opted to run in my grey/blue Nike+ Lunarglide 4s as they matched the outfit and also hadn’t done a long race; I wore the purple versions for my last half marathon. Rest of the attire was my usual garb: Nike dryfit shorts over Skins compression shorts, X-socks run (men’s version), Shockabsorber B4490 in turquoise, new BASIC charity tee-shirt, Scotland Buff, Worm sunglasses (not needed) and Lunarglides.

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At around the 5-6K mark, the sun started to come up just as we passed the large gold-domed mosque and the heat wasn’t any worse than I’d experienced over the prevailing weeks. I was drinking frequently, had a short-lived twinge right knee and had some crystallised ginger and some Neurofen stashed ‘just encase’. My fellow runners were friendly, smiled and I felt confident enough to tap a local gent on the shoulder to tell him his shoe-lace was undone. I managed to ditch a rather annoying girl who was overtaking me and then slowing in my line of sight continually, by running through the second water station. My other half was made to jog alongside me to capture these pictures at the next water-station 🙂P1000311

The cheering bands were very enthusiastic as we came through the main town and by now, there were people on their way to work and it was getting warmer with every passing minute. Then someone turned on the heat and day broke over the streets just as we made our way to the first of three substantial fly-overs. The gradient would be manageable on it’s own but the addition of the camber as well as the amalgamation of walking HM and 10Kers…it was getting tougher. My strategy was to adopt the classic hill running mentality of lift from the thigh, take very small steps and let gravity put your foot back down. Only stop running if someone walks passed you faster…so I continued, snail-like but steady, taking tiny steps, working my arms, lifting from the thigh and you know? I was passing people. No one around me was jogging the hills! The crest came in sight and I tried not to bomb down the far side as the camber was killing my right leg. Repeated this pretty much 3 times and by then the 10 Mile mark had passed, so mentally I was on my way home.

One last fly-over onto the main road and by now the sun was beating off the tarmac back at me, people were slowing, very fit triathlete looking guys were bimbling, blinded by their own sweat. The water stations were now handing out DEET cream and the flies from the drains as we re-entered the main town, were quite something else. I’d slathered on SPF30 with insect repellent incorporated and just hoped I hadn’t sweated it all off.

My heart-rate was now over 180 BPM but I felt a greater urgency- to get out of the heat! I pulled my buff off my head, wound it round my wrist and felt a momentary relief as my head literally let off steam. The last 2 miles were all about trying not to blow up, keeping form (I could feel my head roll back and my middle start to collapse a few times) and dodging slower runners and 10K walkers. I saw a smaller lady up in front who looked like she was slowing and I just aimed at catching her and passing her. P1000350This pre-occupied me as we turned for a very decent 150m straight to the line (although I almost ran into the 10K funnel because a group of guys were cheering right in the finish-stretch). Luckily the Other Half has seen me lose direction near the end of races before (!) and shouted me over to the 21Km mat. I did speed up at the end but it wasn’t a massive push. I passed the girl though 😉

I got over the mat and immediately walked up the steps whilst taking my medal, water and can of 100Plus There were 100s of runners lying out in the sun, stretching, some flaked out and I sat and drank in the rehydration and the atmosphere. I’d completed my first half marathon in the hottest and most humid P1000358conditions I’d ever experienced and I had no “issues” – blisters, bad belly, energy dip (and like the Lossie Half in February, I didn’t use carb gels, just the carb drinks and water). Although the time was nothing special (to me), it was apparently representative of the 13th place in the non-local Open Female category and although they don’t publish the full results, I reckon it was a top 30 finish. It makes me wonder what further adaptions I’ll gain in the following weeks and what I can do next time? Mind you, I quite like the feeling of constant effort, sight-seeing and not being dead at the end…….. Brunei is beautiful and friendly and I look forward to running here again 🙂

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When the rain comes

It’s raining today; how I miss this weather and I want to shove on my trainers and get out in it, get soaked through, feel that fresh and salty wash down my face and enjoy the cooling effects. But there will be no running in the rain today. The rain is torrential and my windscreen wipers barely blink fast enough to keep visibility up. Then comes the thunder, loud enough to crack park benches and then too, cIMG-20130330-03089omes the fizzle of lightening- so severe that there are warning sirens sounding, telling people to get inside and particularly away from open spaces. No, the rain will not be a running friend for me over here. In other news, the weather is normally too hot to go without sunblock Factor 30 (bearing in mind, I’m not exactly Scottish blue-skinned, having earned my sock n vest lines on the West coast last year). The humidity makes consuming Oxygen very tough and I run with a gawping fish mouth, valiantly sucking at air but gaining little for my efforts. Its anoxic exercise at best and completely knackering at worst.

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The one dry piece of teeshirt after a 5K run

And the efforts have been monumental. Try three miles in 32 degC with your heart-rate hammering at 181 bpm! Now I’m not the fittest person out there but, for context, a sub-8 minute mile back in the UK requires the same effort as a 10+ minute mile in Brunei going on heart-rate comparison. Not that really worries me. It’s to be expected and I will get better as I acclimate.

But there are other things that nag me. Apart from the SPF, there’s insect repellent to wear – DEET on any available flesh and remember, don’t wipe your forehead with your hand once the rivers of perspiration start- as that’ll clean the DEET off and will sting your eyes once the sweat carries the chemical there. So running vests are great for keeping as cool as possible but also highly likely to return two outcomes- sunburn and/or insect bites. I’ve experienced a couple of sand-fly bites on each hand.IMG-20130404-03114 I was bitten on the Monday evening but the bites didn’t swell until Wednesday lunchtime. My hand was puffed up and tight, pulsing red and white and the bite sites were yellow and puss-filled, requiring both anti-histamine and topical antibiotic cream. Prevention being less itchy….I am also swatting Buddhist principles to one side and if something flies, buzzes and could remotely bite me, I am squishing first and asking for forgiveness later. There are mosquito repellent plug-ins in the bedroom and living-room and the air-con is kept at goose-bump level. I sleep with full length pyjamas and my ears beneath the covers (even though it’s too hot), which I haven’t done since the farm days, when there would be ear-wigs in the bed room during summer. I will no longer laugh at (German) tourists who wear both socks and open toed sandals; keeping the feet protected from the sun and the biters, is essential. I wish I had brought more long sleeved tee-shirts.

Humidity is constantly 80% +/- 5%.....

Humidity is constantly 80% +/- 5%…..making things a bit ickier and warmer than temperature alone might suggest

But running continues- of course it does! From my fool-hardy 5K on that first Monday morning, wearing a too thick tee-shirt, buff over my head, out and back on the main road at 10:30 a.m. thinking to myself that if this was how it was going to be, that I would never manage……P1000388to starting out earlier and earlier or leaving the run until an hour before sundown and running the gauntlet with the Biters. That’s when people run, there are so many runners here, both ex-pat and local, 7 am or 5pm. The ex-pats Panaga club has a group called the Panas Runners who go for a beach run on Mondays and Fridays and also have a session on Wednesdays, although I don’t think you get to go to that until you can keep up with the main group on the beach-runs. The first Monday I ran up the beach for 1.5 miles and luckily had some buddies who were happy with a 10+ min/mile. P1000489The beach is compact and more importantly, flat with no camber issues although there is a varying degree of litter- both natural (logs, Shells, crabs and crab-mounds) and man-made (bottles, plastic tubs). There’s a light breeze as well which although not temperature cool, does have a cooling effect. To get off the beach there is a scramble up a steep concrete sea-wall, drop down on the otherside onto long grass near some nodding donkey oil-wells and then a fairly quick section along a sandy trail onto the Jalan Utara to avoid lingering in Biter territory near stagnant waters. The route continues down passed the Lapan Puluh apaP1000437rtment and onto the cycle-paths, which weave their way through the Shell housing camp and back towards the Panaga club. That route is about 4 miles and there is some shade on the return journey from the canopy which intersperses all the housing in sections F9 and beyond. The Friday runs are a variation on this by heading firstly down passed the school, onto the cycle-paths and down towards F1 and the roundabout towards the town of Kuala Belait (KB). Across through sector E1 and then onto the beach, this time running up towards the Panaga club – always with the sun behind you. The sun-sets are really beautiful here.P1000460 The sun seems to set almost within minutes and the sea and beach turn from yellow to red and then it’s night. Like a light-switch. The mornings are the reverse, although I have only seen the sunrise once during the Brunei Half Marathon….seconds after lights-on, someone turns the heat on too and that murky bathwater feel becomes over-whelming, forcing blood to the surface of my skin and the heart-rate goes up and up and up. And that’s how running is now. Slower than normal but not the slowest I’ve ever been 😉 I have a new set of base-lines to improve upon and any previous times and efforts are not forgotten but are meaningless in this context. I still strive for fitness, for improvement and for running to be more fluid, easier on the lungs and not so exhausting. I am enjoying it despite these so-called frustrations and I look forward to chipping away at my pace, upping the mileage and lowering my heart-rate a beat at a time.

NEXT UP- The Borneo Half Marathon, in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, which will now be run at midnight on 4th/5th May due to clashes with the local election voting!

Harris Half Marathon – archive 2012

The last outing in the Heb 3 series was the Half Marathon, Tarbert, Isle of Harris. Find out more about the Heb 3 from the Stornoway Running Club website. In 2011, I completed Benbecula, Skye and Harris and got this lovely scoop for my efforts. DSC_0147The main issue (apart from hills, wind, 13.1 miles….) is that the travel requires some pre-organising and commitment, especially the wee country roads drive across to and through Skye, which we did  a couple of times for these and the Uist Hill Races. Plenty ferry’s from Uig to Tarbert, Harris and to Lochmaddy, North Uist for the commute across causeways to Benbecula and there’s transport laid on to take you to and from the races, although camping and B&Bs/hotels are viable options (look out for runner’s discounted rooms/meals).

Sadly in 2012, I only made the Benbecula and Harris races due to injury and road blockages on the morning of the Skye half. But 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, apparently.

Did I mention that the Outer Hebrides are thee most beautiful places in the world 😉 There’s no home-land bias here, I’m an ‘Eastie Beastie’ myself being from Easter Ross, but wow! I waiver between telling anyone who’ll listen about the islands to keeping complete schtum for fear of over-crowding. The scenery can be tear-evoking and certainly removes some of the sting from the wind, the rain, the gradients……..

This particular half marathon is a hilly route with high chance of a head-wind and no shelter what-so-ever.

DSC_06412012 was no exception – about 100 of us were bussed out passed Skeabost and I was lucky enough to be distracted from my travel-sickness through chatting to a gent about this years Cape Wrath Challenge (thanks Mr). We huddled at the start and eased into an uphill struggle against the wind. Not just any wind, a Galeforce 7 which would see many of the hills unrunnable as we struggled to make our trainers meet the ground before they were whipped away.

My running style, such as it is, became bent over as I leaned into the wind to balance myself. This was actually a neat trick until my back started to complain about the S-shape curve it was holding in the very open sections.

I’ll admit, I echoed a mad-man’s cackle at the sheer stupidity of trying to make haste against the elements. I pushed and pushed, sometimes with very little forward momentum and the overall effort was literally unsurpassed in any previous race. I literally had nothing left at the end and had to just let gravity take me for the steep descent into the ferry terminal.DSC_0834

This was all further compounded by the fact that I’d beaten last years time(!) AND everyone else was about 10 minutes off their normal time (which means this was likely a best performance for me). I hated parts of it (because I was under-trained and it was hard) but I also loved the route’s scenery, the camaraderie that you get during the Hebridean series; like a really exclusive gang, respectful of each other regardless of ability, conjoined in our love for the islands and individually touched by how special the Outer Hebrides are. I’d consider everyone a friend when you’re out there and you don’t compete per se, you encourage and commiserate and you get invited for a ceilidh, porridge and offered a nights kip from people you have literally known for 2 hours during a race. Hell yeah! Don’t mention the drinking at the Hebridean Hotel which continues all the way back on the late night ferry!

Then there’s the ever present Jim Bruce from SRAC, notable by his grey pony-tail (see below gallery) and the super sub-set of exclusive Heb 5 individuals, who have completed all 5 races in one year- Barra, Benbecula, Stornoway, Skye and Harris (not necessarily in that order!) and get a special gaelic mention on their series tee-shirt “rinn mise na coig” meaning, I did the five. There are other island halfs if you can’t get to these ones which take place May through July; Isle of Coll, Mull, Berneray to Lochmaddy “two islands” half and there are rumours of an Isle of Lewis Marathon coming soon 🙂

Take it from someone who has made the pilgrimage for two consecutive years- it’s worth it and you won’t regret anything about the experience, so bring your best camera and prepare to eat a lot of cake and sandwiches.

My Nutty Salty Balls: high calorie blogging

Food. Food is very rarely just fuel, it’s quite an emotional facet of life:our best friend and sometimes a bit of a Frenemy! Like most people, I celebrate by eating, some mope and comfort eat or abstain altogether, I have been known to “overeat”.  My working days were moulded by the ritual of coffee breaks and by the etiquette of taking lunch. Going without it or not eating enough of the right stuff, is not a great idea. I’ve done that too. Sometimes food defines us – vegetarianism, veganism, fruititarians, people on the “face type” diet’. For others, it ‘confines’ for health reasons – coeliacs, diabetics, intolerences and allergies. It certainly makes life interesting and as an erstwhile distance runner, I’m always on the quest for palatable energy whilst avoiding tummy issues (ahem!). Of course, food is an industry whether it’s the growing, sourcing, preparing, eating or writing about it 🙂

So! How fantastic to be emptying the food cupboards, in preparation for renting the house out and finding all sorts of wonderful and out-of-date dried goods, cans, spices and basically just ingredients to experiement with.

DRUM ROLL! Where chemistry and imagination meet a 10-year amalgamation of ingredients, there are bound to be some new “species” of food types created. The fact that I am a trained chef AND a chemist should not deter anyone from trying out their own concoctions! I should probably insert some kind of disclaimer about the recipes herein, but…….

Aberdeen City-20130222-02692I posted a picture of my’ alternative to wheaty buttery flapjacks’ on FB a few weeks back and after a threat and a couple of nudges, I produced a few of my “nutty balls” (cue numerous childish innuendo) and even organised an exchange on the Formartine & Buchan Way (a popular local distance runners route) with some friends. Dodgy passing of tin-foiled balls were followed by texts saying yum-yum-what’s the recipe? and I didn’t really know what the recipe was. Cos it was basically just a whole heap of “stuff” in random quantities and, like the best nights out always being the unplanned ones, I hadn’t recorded any details. Bad scientist, no method, no utensil list.

So…………………..

My Nutty BallsAberdeen City-20130224-02714

Blast some popped popcorn & rice cakes with the hand-mixer, then add room temperature crunchy peanut butter (I used no salt, no sugar organic Whole Earth brand), add some runny hunny (preferrably acacia or off the comb). Keep adding and tasting until (1) it’s yummy and (2) all the dry stuff sticks together. Form into mitt-sizes balls and leave in the fridge overnight. Then wrap a few balls up in foil, stick in your run-bag and hand them out to grateful friends when you meet them out and about. I got a little sick on eating more-than-my-fair share but have learned my lesson and they really are an excellent alternative to flapjacks or carb gels, both of which I have problems stomaching for any length of time.

PopCoNuts

A variation on the theme and this time, with added flavour balancing to knock out some of the sweetness from the last lot, in the shape of cracked pepper and salt! I’m not talking vast quantities, season to taste, being the operative phrase.

  • 50g plain popcorn (popped,stale & mashed down)
  • 50g dessicated coconut (vintage from 2008 or in date, if you prefer)
  • Honey, melted in micro – or if you wanna make the balls vegan, use algave nectar (from a flower nae from a bee)
  • Golden syrup melted in micro
  • Cinnamon, ground black pepper and table salt

TIP: Mix the salt in with the syrup after it’s come out of the micro, for better distribution when adding into the dry ingredients. It’s simple really and you can add any dried fruit or seeds as required. I’ve made a nice spicy batch with carob, sugared ginger and a hint of nutmeg. Go mental, get designing….and remember to share with and experiment on running friends.

I was however a bit miffed to see that popcorn use is ‘in vogue’ and Grazia mag have listed a popcorn biscuit in their latest issue. Pah! I was there first, eh?

And a link for an article about whether we should/ shouldn’t eat before a long run HERE

Lastly, a wee gallery of other stuff I regularly eat which doesn’t seem to mess with exercise done immediately before or after. Try Dole fruit sachets (Ella Oragnics are good too) for upt to 25g of easy-carry, easy-quaff carbs, with no additive nonsense.

#CheerioFatty shrinkage and some runnering

In the last few weeks since blogging, I’ve been in a daze of frustrated dream-like proportion: I am standing on the side-lines of my life, watching the days whizz by whilst I am helplessly trapped into a slow-motion but parallel time-frame.Aberdeen City-20130208-02567

Time is literally running out and although I am not going to cease to be on the 15th March, I have a too long list of Things to Do and People to see. It is now 19 days until we fly to London for our onwards journey to Brunei. Take or leave a day or two for on-going Visa processing. Actually, we have been very fortunate that my husbands’ persistent following-up of the 50+ people involved in our move, has borne fruit. The other two couples who started before us, with a similar time-line are now 2-4 weeks behind. But it’s had it’s down sides, mostly that we’ve been on shorter fuses and having to make very quick decisions, rationing even our time together as we “divide and conquer” the To Do List. It will be worth it though and all thoughts pertaining to the move to the Far East will soon appear on a different blog – Brunei Banter, so have a looky there in a week or so!

Back to the matter in hand. #CheerioFatty and my ongoing crusade against injury has been going really well. I am assuming that this is nothing to do with the lower than training plan mileage (!) Or that because running is truly my one stress-buster at the moment, I am savouring every single mile, regardless of weather conditions or tiredness. Running with a permanent grin on my face is no good for my wrinkles!

Aberdeen City-20130220-02634Had a fantastic run at the Kinloss to Lossiemouth Half Marathon. I wasn’t clock watching but rather basing the whole thing on effort and heart-rate and surprised myself with a performance just outside my 2011 Personal best (PB). Why is this significant? Well, Oct 2011 was a long time ago and I haven’t really done any PB hunting since succumbing to Achilles issues in March 2012. Then PO10 hacked me right off by not recognising my PB as such, due to the half marathon course not being AIMS and classified as down-hill because it finished lower down than it started (despite several climbs through the route) and the start was greater than X away from the finish. Fercrivvensakes, what’s a girl to DO to get an official PB these days, eh? 🙂

The slow road back has been slow on purpose and so this run was a great marker for me and I wanted a jumping off point before I take that inevitable step backwards where pace is concerned. Brunei is practically on the equator and can be very humid = a tough running climate. In summary, the RAF Half Marathon was completed with

  • Less miles + less racing = similar time result under less duress
  • No pacing, either by watch or other runner(s)
  • No mid-race fuelling (usually I have 3 carb gels and a carb drink)
  • No pain, niggles or blisters

Moray-20130217-02610Surprisingly, I ran a ‘fairly’ comfortable sub-2 Half Marathon whilst trying to maintain my HR at 171 BPM which is what I’ve seen in training as my hard-maintainable effort. I achieved a time of 1.57.04 and an average HR of 175 BPM (I did up the pace in the last 3 miles and my max HR = 190 BPM). No pain in feet, calves or Achilles, no blisters, no sore stomach, dodgy guts, lungs on fire or, well, anything untowards really. The day was clear and warm for this time of year- a toasty 11 degC – and the route was pleasant and strewn with friendly club runners, first timers and a few familiar faces from JS Bridge of Don and Metro Aberdeen. Immediately after the race, I sat around in the sun feeling a bit disappointed that I was so close to a PB but that didn’t last long. I can still remember standing in the physio’s treatment room unable to lift my body up on my right ankle……that was about a year ago. Instead I stood up and cheered in the remaining runners, including sounding my favourite Barbaric YAWP for Esty, Gingerpaw (both PeeBeed) and Ultracat & Lorna. Also a first, I drove myself up to and back from Lossiemouth and stopped off at Tyrebagger forest that afternoon for a muddy trail run, just to prove to myself I wasn’t 100% knackered. Slept like a baby that night!

#CheerioFatty is ambling along and I’m maintaining the weight-loss despite what I would class as minimal mileage

last few weeks trainingWeek 4 (22/1 – 28/01) 2 lbs loss. BIKE= 28  RUN= 24

Week 5 (29/1 – 04/2) weight maintained. BIKE=0 RUN= 14

Week 6 (05/02 – 11/02) weight maintained. BIKE=9 RUN=16

Week 7 (12/02 – 18/02) 1 lb loss.BIKE=11 RUN=16

Week 8 (19/02 – 25/02) weight maintained. BIKE=17 RUN= 18

weekly distanceThat’s a grand total of one whole stone (14 lbs) since the start of the year and as previously noted, I’ll be tracking body-fat, water and lean weight from now on as moving into an equatorial environment means that hydration levels and body composition will need to be monitored whilst I make dietary and training adaptions. Well, that all sounded a bit official didn’t it? I’ve been eating out on a fairly regular basis and unfortunately, there are still a high number of convenience foods in the mix but I’m certain this is just a function of the whole short-of-time moving situation.

Additional observations

Original bra size 34D Now 32D
Original Haglofs size 40 (L) Now 36 (S)
Jeans size 30 Now 28
Zara size L/XL Now M/S

Non-desireable effects

Leg cellulite is more apparent than EVER before (Och well, it’s not what it looks like, it’s what it can do). More noticeable eye-wrinkles where cheek meets eye-socket . Knees look weirder if that’s even possible,  stomach skin has taken on a Tara Reid failed tummy-tuck appearance and that’s going to suck when I get to hotter climes and have to get it out for swimming and the like, saddle-bags look relatively bigger as the rest of my legs slim down, my nose looks flatter and the chin has taken on a Reese Witherspoon ability to burst balloons due to it’s sharpness.

All in the name of fitness 🙂

I’ve arranged to see Claire (previously of Vito-Fitness) to have my cholesterol, visceral fat and other parameters re-checked to compare to 16 months ago when I had a pre-running club assessment. And that’s about it for the pre-move MOT. Now to the rapid if desparate attempt to humidity acclimatise in the 3 weeks before the Brunei Half and the Borneo Half four weeks after that. Well, I’m not one to shun away from a cheeky challenge and I’m fully prepared to be the relatively giant white slow-thing at the back of the field. Again.

And to end, a quote from Anita Brookner “In real life, of course, it is the hare who wins. Every time. Look around you. And in any case it is my contention that Aesop was writing for the tortoise market…Hares have no time to read, they are too busy winning the game.”

Week 3 & 4 – Everywhere you go….

…always take the weather with you! A new cold front hit the North East last week and once again, everyone seemed to respond as if it was the first time snow had ever fallen. This extended to the cancellation of quite a few races this passed weekend, including the Brass Monkey Half Marathon in York, which would have been a long run “look see” as to fitness and training progress and slid nicely into Lochaber Marathon training (which I’m no longer in the country for).

Campaign #CheerioFatty continued until the eve of the race and once cancellations had been confirmed, I went all out with a 5 course meal at our Country Manor Hotel & Spa Middlethorpe Hall. The next day there was also “cake”. Whoops. Consequently my plummeting weight has plateaued, probably helped along with no treadmill session due to family commitments and no long run due to race cancellation. Excuses, excuses, still it’s Game (back) On this week.

However, my stats for the clean eating campaign look something like this and I now weigh the least I have weighed, for 6 years:

  • Jan1st- 7th, miles run = 20.38, lbs lost = 5.4 lbs
  • Jan 8th – 14th, miles run = 21.21, lbs lost 4.4 lbs
  • Jan 15th – 21st, miles run = 3.65, lbs lost -1.2 lbs

I’be just received a set of these Tanita body fat monitor/scales and regardless of how accurate they are, they will show relative improvements, so long as I stay hydrated. The weight lost will soon cease to matter and it’ll be about fat: muscle ratio. And while we’re talking about body changes and motivation to change, have a read of this blog Medalslut Regardless of whether you prefer a good cop or bad cop approach, this lady has certainly changed her lifestyle, health and body. Personally, I never notice anyone’s size unless they draw my attention to it first and I’m therefore not a good friend when it comes to congratulating and/or ‘having a quiet word’. I’ve also found a lot of commonality and inspiration from this Fella Ultra-runner Jon Mackintosh

So far I have this result (week 3):-

York-20130119-02403But no discernible running races to see how the weightloss has affected that aspect of my life. So now, with the Half Marathon gone, I search for something else to run before I depart for hotter climes. Unfortunately, I’m starting to feel a bit of a ‘jinx’ coming on and the last few races I have blogged about have been cancelled, so I’ll keep schtum on my last distance target. Meantime, I should make my second appearance at the local park-run as Race director, having just completed a turn in all the other volunteer positions. You’d think I’d know what I was doing by now, alas, I’ll probably still manage to fluff the intro and knacker the results 🙂 Hopefully I’ll get to run a few more as well before I depart. I guess we take  these free local 5Ks for granted and you never know what you’ve got til it’s gone.

Also, please remember to check out my reviews page which is still getting built but I’ve a list of stuff as long as my arm (some still in boxes) to review…first up, the Salomon S-LAB 2013 version of the 12-set; surely one of the Daddy’s of the latest range of rucksacks?

Ciao Bellas.

New Years Food Flounce

As more details come through regarding the lock,stock n barrel move to the Far East, the likelihood of having a Goal Event or “A” Race before summer, dwindles away. However, training continues in a somewhat structured manner and if I do manage to find an outlet for the training so be it. It’s good to know that my focus for running doesn’t necessarily need to be Run Event “A” and try and achieve time/WAVA “B”. It’ll be nice to be Half Mara ready and Marathon capable, come April and the surprisingly mild weather has made long runs very pleasant, so I continue to smile whilst the Achilles holds out.

Twenty-Thirteen training started with the NYD park-run, accompanied by Hamster and donning my new Lunarglide+ 4s. OMG these are sooo different from the 3s and make my preferred model, the mark 2s, seem clunky and heavy by comparison. More importantly from my perspective, is that the 4s have no seam along the inside foot a.k.a blister sites.shoes Bonus. Hamster and I chatted  and caught up for the first 2 miles and then, at the point where my fitness fell short, I shut up and concentrated on not succumbing to my dodgy belly. A modest 25.34 which is a nice target to beat over the coming months.  I managed at rather tougher, windier 25.16 at Ediniburgh a few days later [where FiWright got awarded her 50 teeshirt but didn’t actually get given it on the day], again, succumbing to that feeling of dodgy guts. But then, I had altered my eating, so I couldn’t have expected anything else. Altered? Yeah, I was suddenly not eating chocolate :-p

Clean Eating

I have heard a lot about clean eating and experienced a week of such at the Fitcamp I attended last May www.TheCamp.co.uk . What surprised me that week was that I didn’t feel hungry. Not once. I ate all my food and I enjoyed it. I was also exercising frequently and through-out each day. Sure I was extra tired but not hungry. Two friends have also recently had a lot of success with weight control following a similar approach (take a bow LabWalker and Corrah) and I decided on Hogmanay that I would adopt a couple of new habits and carry them out for 20 days as a wee experiment.

Habit Breaking

Every year we as a nation resolve to lose weight/take up a new fitness regime/stop smoking or similar and hence the gyms are fit to burst and the streets are paved with new runners. Nicotinette sales and Slimmers World subscriptions shoot through the roof. Good luck if you ARE one of those, making and sticking to 2013 resolutions! I have never succeeded in keeping any specific New Years Resolutions but this year I thought I would make a few positive changes for a short time and see if the effects were sustainable and whether the changes could become part of my life (rather than a finite diet which can be restrictive and lead to grumpiness)

There is much myth and mire written about the 21 day habit forming theory but in reality what I need is: consistency, reward and motivation. I find that not doing too many things at once (quality over quantity) and being realistic in the approach works best. I might need to lose 20 lbs according to some BMI chart somewhere, but let’s just start with 7 lbs, shall we?

My guidelines are:

  • Drink only water or herbal tea
  • Choose the most natural food available
  • No artificial sweetners as substitute for sugars

I kept a food diary for 8 weeks; painful to fill out every day and painful to read, but it has helped me acknowledge the following “shocker”

I drank up to 30% of my total calorie intake: fruit juice, hot chocolate, coca-cola, non-alcoholic drinks when out i.e. virgin cocktails, fizzy juices like lemonade, tea with milk and sweetner, often 8 or more a day including Starbucks, Costa and other brands with full fat sweetened milk.

Not only were these drinks adding calories without filling me up or providing satiety, they were also adding E-numbers, various toxins (think aspartame et al) and elevating my sweetness signals, which if you’ve ever tried having “just one” chocolate/biscuit/slice of cake you’ll know that one begets the desire for more!

After 1 week of “clean eating” I was astounded as the scales registered over 5 lbs difference! I weighed myself at the same time, one week from initial weigh-in on Hogmanay morning (31/12/2012). If anything my exercise has been slightly down this passed week. We’ll see how the next 2 weeks go but I am quite hopeful that I will be below my lowest running weight and as I write, I am just 3 lbs above it.

Consistency- just do the three things above

Motivation – to drop below my lowest weight recorded since I started running in June 2009 (bearing in mind I didn’t actually lose any weight, although I lost bulk, until February 2011 !!!)

Reward – a lighter me running around, putting less pressure on my knees, ankles, feet, joints, ligaments and that all important Achilles tendon. I may have bought myself a new swimmer as well 😉

Restaurants

In my day to day business and social life, I tend to eat out quite a lot. At least 3 times a week. Instead of avoiding the situation I’ve decided to become a pain in the backside, in order to be Good to myself and not let someone else’s menu dictate portion size and content. Be a pain, why not? It’s your body and chefs don’t usually mind making small changes especially if it saves them money because you’re leaving things off or out. I’ve had chefs come over and make suggestions as to how they could decrease the fat or calorie content of their dishes for me (when I’ve been bothered to ask and I’ve known the establishment pretty well).

  1. Make protein the focus of the meal. I go for baked fish or grilled skinless chicken
  2. Ask for no bread and take the sauce on the side
  3. Substitute salad for any creamy side dishes containing mayo. You can usually have this instead of chips/mash
  4. Only drink water
  5. If you must have a starter, ask if the soup is non-cream or ask for a salad
  6. If you must have a dessert, ask for sorbet or fresh fruit salad (no cream)

Travel

I can’t see myself as a good “Mom” who always has an apple or healthy snack squirreled away in my sensible handbag but I can say that faced with one of the denizens of unhealthy travel eating – the petrol station – I can note that they have very little which might qualify as clean food. However (as I told myself last week) DON’T PANIC! Do the best with what’s available and that goes for buffets, set menus and the like. I opted for a black tea (no milk or sugar) and a plain oaty porridge pot. OK, carbs yes but not full of junk….and it was one little pot of porridge in a week full of fruit and water and good clean eating. I always thought it was weird that folk would come spiraling off a diet after eating one of something they deemed as bad and then just restart the following Monday. No, darnit, keep going. I am not fretting about it but I am still concerned that unless you want a plastic cheese sandwich (their only non-mayo option), there’s not much for the weary, hungry traveler who doesn’t want pies, crisps and chocolate. Maybe I should’ve packed something in that sensible bag eh?

booksSo bearing all that in mind, the couple of long runs have been tough due to a lack of carbs and general stodge to draw from. I re-read various parts in the Allen Carr Easy-weigh book and also Fit B*tch in the Kitch which centred on the fact that milk is designed to fatten up baby calves and cereal is used to fatten up livestock. So for the moment, cereal is off the breakfast list (Carr advocates fruit and fruit only).books2 I use coconut, soya, rice and other milk substitutes as well as soya yoghurt so without milk in my numerous cups of tea, I’m quite low on dairy at the moment too. I wouldn’t be adverse to protein for breakfast tho! I’ll not lie, I did find a 14 mile LSR on Halva and Yerba Mate tea a little tough but it’ll take some time for my body to get used to this. Halva is my carb-gel substitute for longer runs and it is yum-tastic and you don’t need much to satisfy a little hunger pang.

[I’m a bit worried about having a carb fest or eating any carbohydrate foods incase I slump into a coma an hour afterwards!]

Summary

01 – 07 Jan

20.4 miles run

5.4 lbs lost

Some useful links

HABITS http://www.spring.org.uk/2009/09/how-long-to-form-a-habit.php

YERBA MATE TEA http://www.selfridges.com/en/Food-Wine/Categories/Shop-Food/Tea-coffee/Tea/Yerba-mate-tea_554-3002133-YERBAMATE/?cm_mmc=SEO-_-google-_-googleshopping-_-Teapigs&_$ja=tsid:32977%7Ccc:%7Cprd:12641253%7Ccat:Food+%26+Wine+%3E+Categories+%3E+Shop+Food+%3E+Tea+%26+coffee+%3E+Tea

HALVA http://www.dvah.co.uk/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=2147494253