Disappearing Act

So, what the hell happened there? It’s been like 6 weeks since that last post.

During my absence, I was inundated with literally one message querying my current mortal status. Worry not, I’m alive and well, and more to the point, do not worry that I have given up.

The running is going rather well, I must say. Though it seems a little ridiculous to use the chronology of this App after so long, I’m now just coming to the end of their “Week 11”, leaving me with about 4 more sessions before they kick me off their training wagon and tell me to sort myself out.

And that shouldn’t be a problem, based on my current progress. 6 weeks ago, when I was last talking to you about the interval training, I was whinging about it asking me to run for 10 minutes with a 1-2 minute break in between. Well, not long after that, the difficulty curve went up pretty quickly. 10 became 20, then 25, 30 and now I’m being asked to run for 40 minutes, take a 1 minute breather, and then top it off with another 10 minute blast. And the remarkable thing is that I’m managing it.

The last session it had me running 35 minutes, taking a 1 minute walking break, then another 25 minutes. Which equated to 11km. My pod tracked me to running the 10km target distance in just under 52 minutes. It doesn’t seem too long ago that I was talking about a 69 minute run, and wondering how I could improve it. Taking another 9 minutes off my time before the race next May seems rather straightforward now, if I do say so myself.

Aside from my actions on the treadmill – and perhaps linked to it – is my recent foray into the world of supplements.

I posted an entry a few months ago about taking vitamins and fish oils every day to see if they improved anything. Well, I dare say that they have. By now, just making my way into December, I would normally just be getting over my first cold of the season. Not so this year. The rest of my office have fallen foul of it, but so far I’ve gotten away with just a brief sniffle. I can only put this down to my vitamins and minerals, I think. And as for the fish oils, well my left knee still complains a bit during runs, but it’s never failed on me and caused me to take time off through injury. So that has to be something.

In addition to this initial phase of supplementation, I’ve also moved on to trying “shakes”.

Nope, not quite me yet

There is a vending machine at the gym which sells bottles containing a portion of this powder, which you take over to the drinks fountain and add water to. And they cost something like £2 a go.

Going to the same company’s website (once you get through the overwhelming number of products being thrown at you) you eventually work out that buying the stuff in bulk will cost you about £50 and last at least 6 weeks, taken twice a day, every day. Which is a lot cheaper, sufficed to say.

Basically, it boils down to the following:

Whey Protein – this stuff is the foundation of the shake mix, and comes in different flavours to form a milkshake (I’ve not tried it with water as it sounds nasty). It is pure protein which is meant to help you improve muscle mass, if that’s what you’re interested in, or just improve your diet if not. The certain variety that I buy also contains probiotics and other clever bits and pieces which are meant to improve your digestion.

Instant Oats – this is basically porridge oats which have been machine ground down into a floury consistency, which mix into the protein shake and 1) make it thick like a smoothie, and 2) give you slow-release energy. I find a shake of protein and whey at 6am when I wake up for work lasts until 1pm lunch, which is better than any other breakfast I’ve tried.

Dextrose – this is a type of quick-burn glucose that you drink after a workout session, and it instantly refuels your energy (and if you haven’t been working out, makes you go hyper for about an hour!)

Creatine Monohydrate – you put a tiny teaspoon of this into a shake before a workout, and…well, I forget what the website told me it did, but it something along the lines of helping your muscles to repair themselves and stops you getting that horrible next-day pain. Which it does.

So, you take the four items above in various different combinations based on the circumstances (though always the protein) and that’s it. No, I don’t look like the man in that picture, but then again I have put on a little bit of muscle here and there. Considering I don’t grunt and lift proper weights in the gym, I’m happy.

And seeing as I’m coping with these big runs nowadays, I’m inclined to say that these dietary supplements are a big helping hand. I know I started off on this whole quest saying that I wouldn’t stop eating my normal diet. And I really haven’t intentionally stopped anything. I still eat big fatty meals when I feel like it, and I still eat snacks when I want. But the truth is that I just don’t want what I used to. I can’t take sugar in my drinks any more, I no longer have fizzy drinks in the house, and I can no longer binge on a bag of those big cookies from the supermarket bakery without literally feeling rather sick. My body is changing. Not into some superhero physique, but enough that I’m optimistic it’s a degree or two healthier, and capable of keeping me alive long enough to grow senile and forget about all this hard work.

And doesn’t that make it worthwhile?