9 September 2010

Downhilling in Cabarete

1/2 Day DH Mtb - Cabarete - Dom Rep by egeorgie at Garmin Connect - Details

After a hearty breakfast with stunning mountain views and admiring the avocado trees it was time to head off, in the pouring rain, all the way down from 2,661 feet above sea level to 149ft!  Most of it was on the road with a couple of good offroad sections.  Sandy muddy dirt over smooth rock scattered with all sizes of boulders was challenging enough thank you very much!  After the first offroad section we stopped for some fresh coconut, orange and banana with honey, yum!  The river crossings were cool and welcome, we couldn't get any wetter anyway, and with the thunder still rumbling overhead we were past caring and having heaps of fun.  A bit of rooty singletrack followed by a wider less challenging bit and that was that.  All done and dusted.  The ride its self took about 2 hours 20, long enough in this heat!

Thank goodness there's a good physio next door, I'm getting battered!

25 August 2010

Walk Round Outrabister With Ally

Walk Round Outrabister With Ally by egeorgie at Garmin Connect - Details

While most people were groping round for more alkaseltzer and considering the merits of bacon rolls and sweet tea, me and Ally headed up North to Lunna Ness for a good yomp round the headland. It's quite wet so if you were considering heading here yourself I'd highly recommend good hiking boots and a pair of clean socks to change into just incase.

It's a good old lumpy bumpy uppy downy traipse, the ground is very soft underfoot and littered with rocks making it quite hard going in places.  There's plenty to see though, the Stanes of Stofast (above), a couple of small lochs with old mills (right) still visible closer to the cliffside, great views all round and even the drive there and back opens up some really lovely views.  If you've got time, stop off at 'Fruity Franks' at Outrabister to have a gander at the antiques and also at Lunna House and Kirk on your way back.  The pier-head at Voe does great haddock and chips before heading back to town.

Brisk Skyte Round Scatness

Brisk Skyte Round Scatness by egeorgie at Garmin Connect - Details

This afternoon I didn't feel much like doing much at all, especially with a mild fever. Two paracetamol and a tuna roll later though (ah, trusty remedies) and I was donning my HRM and ipod and heading out the door suspiciously eyeing the apparent break in the weather, into the brisk north westerly wind that seems to be hell bent on battering the garden to within an inch of it's life today. Still, it was sunny and it is my most favourite walk, if anything was going to lift my spirits, this was it!

A lot of changes have taken place since the last time I walked round, the chicks have all hatched and flown the nest so venturing along the cliffs on the West side didn't see me being dive bombed by overly panicky tirricks, the seapinks have gone white and crispy and the place seems to have twice as many rabbits as it did a couple of months ago.  I noticed there were an awful lot of mushrooms and quite a few types at that.  Probably thanks to the horrendous wet weather that's hit Shetland of late!

18 June 2010

10 Top Motivational Tips

As a follow on from last weeks post, I have for you this offering!

1. You have your sight set on that sub 50 10K, sign up to do a 10K race in your area and get sponsored for it!  Pretty tough to back out once you've done that isn't it?!

2. Go public!  Tell people what you're setting out to achieve, it's hard to shy away from your goals when people keep asking how you're getting on with it!  Keep a blog or even publish your results online for all to see, you'd be amazed at the unexpected places support comes from!  For running there's the likes of mapmyrun and fetcheveryone!

3. Get a training buddy or join a club, its hard to back out when they're on the phone saying 'see you in 5'!

4. Use a PT once a week or once a month, they'll help you with your goals and with your fitness planning to reach your goal.

5. Put it in your diary and make sure you're well prepared for each session, you know what you're going to set out to do, you've set aside enough time to do it, and you have your kit and everything you need prepped and ready to go.

6. Set yourself some kind of reward scheme.  Something small once a week that you only get if you've stuck to your plan, or something bigger at the end of each 4 weeks, perhaps a spa day the day after the 10K?

7. Educate yourself, start reading magazines and articles and doing a bit of research, it'll give you more ideas, a boost to succeed, perhaps help you visualise your goal.

8. Watch people doing the sport/activity you want to do, it'll make you feel more like you want to be part of it.  Don't tell me you watched the marathon on TV and didn't feel half way through like getting up and going for a run!  Keep an eye on the local press for any mini-events or taster sessions you could attend.

9. Use music!  Make a playlist of your favourite up-beat tunes and play it when you're in need of that little push.  The time'll just fly by and the beat can give you some great positive vibes.

10. Mix it up to keep it interesting.  Don't just do 5K 3 times a week round the same circuit.  Incorporate HIIT, intervals, tempo sessions, head for the hills or cross country, find different routes, cross train in another sport, do 1-2 days weights or core strengthening.

12 June 2010

Motivation - Setting Your Goals

I'm not going to tell you anything new here, sometimes we just need to remind ourselves of what we already know!

Motivation is the activation or energisation of goal-orientated behaviour.  Motivation is related to but is distinct from emotion.  When people say they feel motivated or de-motivated, what they really mean is they're feeling positive or negative.  Keeping motivated is about staying positive and focused on your goals.  Yes, that's a little pedantic, but important none-the-less.

Lets start at the beginning with this one...

You've sat on the sofa and seen something on TV, or a jogger has whooshed past you in the park, or you've decided in your head to 'do something' and bought a pair of shorts... What you have felt is some positive push to get a bit of what they've got.  You've become motivated to do something.  So... what's next?

What you do next will be the underpinning of everything to come.  It will be the single most biggest motivational tool you will ever have and will ever use and you will revisit it time and time again.  Grab yourself a notebook, it'll be your best friend over the next few months.  You are going to set yourself some GOALS.

Hell yes.

There is one rule when you are doing this.  You are going to banish ALL negative thoughts.  There is no such thing as a negative here, there are only solutions and positives.

First and foremost you need to clear your head and think straight, why did I decide to start, what am I actually setting out to achieve?  As an example, I'm going to use the girl who whooshed past you in the park jogging!  You wanna be like her right?  (Bear with me on this one...)  So you write a short list of why you want to do this.  Then you get down to the nitty gritty.  Actually writing your main goal.

All Goals You Set Must be Set SMARTER

They must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Responsible, Targeted, Empowering and Revisable!  (Thank you Jon Shepperd for this utterly brilliant acronym!)  And this goes for all goals in life, not just fitness related ones.

A specific goal to get to whooshy girl status would perhaps be to comfortably run 10K at a reasonable pace, say in 50 minutes.

For it to be measurable you need a plan where the end achievement is to do this, you need also to have a fortnightly or monthly 'goal post' such as a 3K run, you will during your training see the times for this come down and perhaps after a couple of months this 3K will become 5K.  If you record your heart rate alongside this and calories, for the same run you can expect over time to see your heart rate and calories come down for the same paced run, or in order to maintain the heart rate, your pace increase and your time come down.

Your goal must be achievable, if you have a very busy life and can only fit in 2 runs a week then perhaps 12 months would be a good timescale, if you have plenty time, support and dedication, then perhaps 6 months would be do-able.  You want to set yourself up to succeed!

It must be responsible, you need to make sure that by doing this, it's not going to have a detrimental effect on your body, your work, your home life etc.  Pushing yourself to run twice a day straight away would probably be detrimental to all 3 for example.  You're looking to enhance your life, remember?!

Your goals need to be targeted, your target in this instance is a sub 50 10K!

The empowering part comes along with setting yourself up to succeed.  As you pass each milestone you will feel empowered, boosted by your success, you must not look on it as 'still got a long way to go' but as 'yes that's a step closer'!  Positive thinking is King!  It'll give you a confidence boost too.

All goals must be revisable, you must be allow yourself for example, if you go on holiday, get sick for a week, or are performing better than you expected to, to sit down and re-visit your goals and push/pull things in one direction or another.  If you reach your goal, revise it, change it a bit, give yourself a new challenge, this will keep you motivated beyond your original time frame!

So, you've got the motivation to start in the first place, you've written down that you want to run a sub 50 10K in 12 months time... what now?

You need to think about how you are going to get there.  That's where the mid and short term goals come in.  Oh yes.  We're not finished with the goal setting just yet!

A good example of a mid term goal would be to run a 5K in 12 weeks time.  So you have your first distance goal. Your short term goal would then be to complete week 1 if a 12 week 5K program.

Now, the reason this is all so important is that it has given you A PLAN to stick to and A FOCUS.  One of the biggest reasons people fail to continue working toward their goals is a lack of focus and no real planning.  They wander into the gym, halfheartedly do a few things but don't really know what they're doing.  The mid and short term goal setting forces you to THINK hard about how you are going to achieve the end goal.  Even a quick skeg of the web looking for a plan and some info can give you the motivation to get out there and just start!

The importance of keeping a good log is not to be overlooked.  Remember your notebook?

Once you've done your rough plan, you need to get more specific, you need to write down what you're going to do day on day for the next few weeks.  Ticking each thing off as you go along as well as writing down what you've achieved will give you the motivation to continue in what might seem like a bit of a twisted sadistic kind of a way.

Remember, part of the SMARTER acronym is 'Measurable'.  When you record times, distances, paces, heart rate stats and how you felt before/after etc. It gives you a greater focus.  You'll look satisfyingly at your first week and think 'I did that'!  Or you'll flip back over the last six weeks and go 'oh my god I couldn't run for 2 minutes 6 weeks ago and I just ran for 30 minutes straight'.  Or 'oh, this time 3 months ago I was 4 minutes slower on that same circuit'.  Do not underestimate the power of the log! And faced with a longer run you can look back at when you did 3x10 minutes and say to yourself 'ach it's just a couple of those stuck together, easy!'.

Flipping back to the front page to remind yourself of your goals on days you feel a bit lacklustre will also help!

22 April 2010

Confusion Over Dietary Fats

I know I said I wasn't going to write about diet but given that there's so much confusion over fats in foods, what fats are good and which are bad, I thought I'd have a dig in my personal archive and summarise it for you.  Think on it as a sort of Fatty-Fatty-Crib-Sheet.

While there is increasing evidence of the protective, curative and life-enhancing benefits of omega 3,omega 6 and omega 9, throughout the Western world, most people consume far too little of the essential fats and far too much of all the others.

Omega 3,6 and 9 fats play a key role in brain development, heart protection and healthy vision. They help relieve allergies and can create periods of remission for those suffering from Crohn's disease, IBS, colitis and ulcerative colitis. Both adults and children with joint pain, asthma, eczema and psoriasis can benefit from the  anti-inflammatory properties of these fats.

They assist our fitness goals by improving stamina and endurance, decreasing recovery times, improving protein and amino acid utilization, increasing metabolic rate, improving oxygen uptake, optimizing glandular function and heightening reflexes and concentration.

Types of Fats

Essential fatty acids

These are polyunsaturated fats and are liquid at room temperature. There are three groups - omega 3, omega 6. EFAs are essential and our bodies cannot manufacture them.

Linoleic, otherwise known as omega 6 fatty acids, are found in most vegetable oils. You don't need much of them and excessive amounts can speed up the growth of cancer cells. Proportions of omegas 3 and 6 are important. Oils with lots of 6 and very little 3 put you in double jeopardy because of the likely cancer-forming properties of the omega 6s and because they also have a negative effect on the heart protection benefits of omega 3.

Alpha-linolenic, or omega 3 fatty acids are the healthiest of all and abound in oily fish and some vegetable oils, especially those made from rapeseed, walnuts and flax seeds. They protect against heart disease and cancer and are very important during pregnancy for the proper formation of the baby's brain cells.

Non-Essential fatty acids

This is the category that Omega 9 falls into.  This is because omega 9 can be created by the body from  unsaturated fats.  Oleic acid (most common omega 9) is associated with a decrease in breast cancer risk.  It is the main component in olive oil and can be found in other monosaturated fats.  It also occurs as Erucic acid in rapeseed, wallflower seed and mustard seed.

Omega 3,6 and 9 Ratio

The ratio at which you intake fats is important.  As is mentioned above, too much 6 can cancel out the benefit of the omega 3s.  The optimum ratio is thought to be 2:1:1 (3,6,9).  The recommended dose for those on a heavy weight training schedule would be 15ml blended per 50lbs of bodyweight.

Buying a blended oil with the right ratios such as Udos oil means it can be added to the food you’re already  eating in order to get the amount you want and consuming it this way is cheaper than getting 15ml in capsules.

Conjugated linoleic acid

Occurs in free-range cattle raised on natural grassland. Has anti-cancer properties and stimulates the human body's conversion of stored fats into energy.

Monounsaturated fats

Olive oil is the most commonly used and, although liquid at room temperature, it solidifies if refrigerated. The  richest sources are olives, olive oil, avocados, walnuts and walnut oil, peanuts and peanut oil. Monounsaturated fats are much better for your heart and can even help reduce cholesterol. They appear to have no role in the formation of cancer.

Polyunsaturated fats

These are liquid even at low temperatures and extracted from plant sources like sunflowers, safflowers,  rapeseed and corn. Generally healthier than saturated fats, these have a high content of omega 6 EFAs in relation to omega 3. This imbalance means we now consume four times more 6s than 3s. Even though 6 is essential, this ratio has been linked to mental and physical disorders.

Saturated fats

Nearly all animal fats from meat and meat products - milk, cream, cheese, butter, lard and suet - go solid at room temperature. These can increase cholesterol which in turn locks arteries and causes heart disease. Though there is little evidence they play a role in the development of cancer, many experts believe that lower consumption reduces the risk.

Trans fats

Do not occur in nature but are the result of a catalytic process to solidify the cheapest vegetable oils used in food manufacture. The resulting hydrogenated fats are used in margarines, take-aways, ready meals, cakes, biscuits, crisps and sauces. Consuming these raises the risk of heart disease. There is evidence that trans fats are linked to a risk of breast cancer.

Off the Supermarket Shelf

Olive oil
Reduces blood levels of cholesterol, contains monounsaturates and is low in omega 6.

Rapeseed, walnut and flax seed oil
All low in saturated fatty acids, substantial monounsaturates and a good source of omega 3 and 6 EFAs.  It should be noted though that flaxseed oil has a ratio of 4:1 omega 3:6 which leaves it a bit low on the omega 6 side.

Coconut and palm oils
Contain large amounts of saturated fats, little monunsaturated and virtually no omega 3. Avoid it.

Can You Get Too Much of the Good Stuff?

In short, no.

When you get more than 12-15% of total calories as n-3s, there is a fat "burn-off" based on increased metabolic rate. Other than exceeding liver capacity and getting nauseous, or not sleeping because of too much energy because you took it too close to bedtime, it doesn't appear so.

In tropical climates too much oil can make people sweat more easily, that’s not necessarily bad, but if you’re heading off somewhere tropical you’ll have to remember you may well need to drink more water.

How much is optimum?

Generally 15-30% of overall calories should come fats and the majority (if not all) of these should come from healthy sources such as fruit, veg, nuts, seeds, fish and meat. 15% is at the lower end of the scale and should only be followed for short periods of time.

Further Reading
For more information I recommend reading any of Anita Beans books , a raft of articles from ultra fit magazine that unfortunately aren't online, new scientist magazines health section, Dr Udos Fat FAQs, Tom Venutos book 'Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle'.  For great recipies see JAGs Health & Fitness blog and Stella Does Healthy Eating.

16 April 2010

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses.

So many folk say they want to be able to go to the gym/run 5K/do weights etc.  I tell them that with a plan, they can.  They maybe make a start and then slacken off and stop working out so often or just stop.  My knee jerk reaction used to hearing this used to be along the lines of 'well clearly you don't actually want to be able to do x/y/z'.  But now instead of merely replying with a quip, I ask them why they have stopped or haven't gone to the gym today, and then out tumbles the string of excuses...  Now, I've been called a lot of things for these replies, including a 'gym nazi' which is one of the nicer names, but it wouldn't get the heckles up there wasn't some truth in it!

Below are some of the classic excuses I've heard recently and my thoughts on these.

'You see, the thing is, I just don't have the time'
In life, if you really want to do something then you WILL prioritise it.  It will become an appointment in your diary.  This is true for many things, lunch with friends, evenings out, doctors appointments, holidays, think about it.You don't need a lot of time to get results.  You can do a warm up, cool down and a full body weights session in 30 minutes.  You can do an high intensity intervals session in 20 minutes.  Quality over quantity!  You DO have the time.

'I can't be bothered today'
What exactly can't you be bothered with?  Put on your gear.  Get on with it.  Once you start warming up you'll probably find your motivation again and complete your workout, even if it's not with your usual vim and vigor. Even twenty minutes makes a difference and you'll probably feel better for having gone too.  If 'I can't be bothered' is becoming a more regular part of your repertoire then maybe it's time to re-examine your routine, perhaps you need to change it, try something new, ditch a piece of equipment in favour of another, perhaps even set some new goals and find some new inspiration.

'My head/knee/elbow/back hurts'
That does not mean that you can not do something.  If the pain is not serious then you have options.  If you have books and magazines then have a flick through to see if there are alternative ways of working the same muscles that do not involve your injured joint or limb or takes the pressure off it.  Google the exercise you want to avoid and browse alternatives.  If there are gym staff handy then ask them to show you something new.  Go for a swim or a walk instead.  Jump on the cross trainer instead of the treadmill.  Even if you warm up and have a good long stretch that's still going to do you more good than sitting on your bum doing diddly-squat.

If the head/knee/elbow/back thing is recurring then check if you are performing your workout correctly, go and see a doctor or a physio and start working towards sorting it out.  Unless you're getting your legs chopped off then there are NO excuses.  Even if you do get your legs chopped off then there's still hope for you, a paraplegic has sailed across the ocean, a woman paralysed from the waist down has kayaked hundreds of miles, a guy who was told he would never walk again 6 months later did the London marathon on crutches.  Gerronwithit!

'My muscles hurt from yesterday'
If your workout for today isn't loading the muscles that are sore then go.  If your legs are stiff, a good warm-up followed by a light jog or going for a walk or a swim will actually aid the recovery process.  The blood gets moving round the body, more oxygen gets delivered to the muscles, lactic acid gets flushed out. If the soreness isn't too severe then you'll probably find you'll have loosened off enough after your warm up to carry on with what you had planned in the first place.  It is hugely important when you have muscle soreness to keep moving and not allow yourself to stiffen up, unless you really want to be suffering tomorrow as well.  If you have a desk job then keep getting up and wandering around, if you can't leave your desk then stand up and do hip circles, walk on the spot, anything!

'My kits dirty'
So?  Are you seriously telling me you don't own a clean pair of knickers, a clean pair of socks and a clean t-shirt?  Ok, it's a bit minging, but I'd rather chuck on dirty shorts (with clean undies) than do nothing.  If you've noticed early enough then chuck it in on a 30 degree quick wash and hang it up straight away, most kit will be dry in no time at all.  Go and treat yourself to another full set of kit.  There's nothing more frustrating than heading to get changed and finding the drawer empty and all your kit festering in the washing basket.  Sort it out and do not let it happen again.

'I finish at 5 and I need my tea and then it's too late'
Bollocks.  This is about being organised and planning your meals.  Shove a banana and some protein down your neck at your desk at 4, if you're not allowed to eat at your desk then sneak into the bogs and wolf it down, you can hit the gym at 5 when you finish and have your tea a teeny bit later.  Plenty folk work 9-5 and still manage to work out.

'I don't know what to do'
What do you want to do?  What do you enjoy?  What are your goals?
Buy a book, if it's general fitness you're after then you can't really go wrong with John Shepherds Your Own Personal Trainer, if you're interested straight off in weight training then buy Alwyn Cosgroves New Rules of Lifting (for women or men).  If you're really stuck, see what classes are on and try some of those, you don't have to go to the same one every day or even every week.  Book a session with a personal trainer.  Have a look at workouts on the net.  Buy a hand full of fitness magazines and see if there's a routine in there that you think you'd enjoy.  Never tried running?  Have a look at 5K plans.  Need something easier on the joints?  Do the same plan but on a cross trainer!  Join a swimming club or a sports club.  The possibilities are endless!

'I can't join a gym' or 'I can't afford it'
What's wrong with the great outdoors?  If you do have to be in all the time then there's a freeview fitness TV channel, if you don't like it or can't get it then buy a couple of DVDs , you don't have to be a gym member to be able to work out.  Small space?  Most workout dvds do take this into account.  You don't need lots of kit either, none if you're just doing body weight exercises and a couple of dvds.  A small set of adjustable dumbells and a mat is about all you'll need to begin with for resistance. If you have space then a skipping rope, a swiss ball and a bench will provide about all you'll ever need.

'I've got kids'
Even better, they make great weights, get them to cling to your legs while you try and hoover.  Got 2?  Make one batter, one bowler and you're the poor sod who has to do sprints to fetch the ball, and no, you can't just get your dog to fetch, that is cheating!

'I travel a lot for work'
I have a few choice words for you, pressups, dips, planks, squats, lunges.  Do them as a circuit without a rest.  If you're lucky, some of the hotels you get chucked into might have spa/gym areas.  Use them.  Have a look on youtube for the hotel room workout and have a look at other body weight exercises.  Resistance bands are small and light, take those for some resistance.

The long and short is that if you do want to reach your goal, prioritising and planning are all that are needed.  For sticking points there are always points of reference; professionals, books, the web, friends in the know.  It is up to you to man-up and get on with it.