Starting Again

Term Four Fitness Challenge Review – Week 1.

The blogging about my fitness regime for the past few years has been about as consistent as the actual sessions, not at all. I have however decided that it is time to start again, but this time try to do both a little smarter as time seems to becoming increasingly precious as a get older and my commitments / lifestyle has continued to change. It’s basically time to start fresh and try to set some new and more achievable goals.

One of the things that I have learnt over the years with goal setting is that they need to challenge you but also be achievable. You need to have a definitive start and end date for the goal and be able to break it down into manageable sized actions to ensure that you actually have the procedures in place to give you the best chance of success. This is what I have decided to do regarding fitness:

Over the length of Term 4 (8 weeks) I will endeavour to exercise five days a week, week days by getting up out of bed between 5:15 and 5:30 every morning. This will allow me to get to the gym no later than 5:50am where I can do an intense workout for 30 – 40 minutes before showering, dressing and heading into school. My sessions will vary between cardio (three times a week) and free weights (two times a week).

For me to be successful in this I know that there’s a few actions important for me to commit to, the first being getting to bed at a decent hour to get enough sleep. I am going to try to commit to getting to bed between 10:30 and 11:00 each night so that at a minimum I’ll be getting 6 hours sleep, I know I can function off this amount quite easily. I also know that I have to get out of bed as soon as my alarm goes off in the morning, any hesitation and I’ll miss my session.

Part of my challenge will also be trying to control what I eat, especially the junk food. I have weakness for chocolate and chips (crisps) that I know are not having a positive effect on my waistline currently.

Posting wise, I’ll try to do a single review post outlining “the week that has been” which would include challenges and successes I have experienced throughout the week.

Week 1: Monday 9th – Friday 13th of October.

I have managed to have a great start to the Term Four Challenge with me getting to the gym on all five days and doing decent workouts.

I have already encounter see problems that have meant changing my routine. The first hindrance occurred as a result of filling in for an indoor soccer team on Monday night, all I can say is that I am so unfit!!! I felt my hamstring go quite weak towards the end of the game, this feeling continued throughout Monday evening. I have experienced this feeling before, usually during rehab. after tearing the same muscle but never without having actually pulled the muscle prior.

Knowing that my leg was in trouble, I made the call to continue with the gym but to lay off the cardio for the remainder of the week – it will be four weights sessions in a row for me!

My next hinderance occurred on Wednesday morning. I made the silly decision to stay out late on Tuesday night by going to a late movie – this meant I didn’t get into bed until after midnight…BAD MOVE! I managed to push through and get out of bed and completed the session.

My Thursday an Friday sessions were completed with minimal problems or disruptions.

Overall, I am happy with the start I have made to the challenge. I am cautious however, it takes three weeks to form a habit and this week will be vitally important in seeing me push through and set up a good routine for the remainder of the challenge.

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A Long Time Between Fitness Posts

Thursday 5th March 2015.

Whilst it has been a long time since I have posted any fitness updates to my webpage I can honestly say that I have been pleasantly surprised with the level of consistency I have retained over a long period of time.

2014 ended up being my best year regarding regular exercise, I didn’t miss a weekday from half way through July through to mid-December when I was holidaying on Rottnest (and even on Rotto I managed to fit in three 15km runs).

I did have some down time after Rottnest, not a lot happened exercise wise from Rottnest through to my return to school at the end of January, however, I have managed to pickup the routine again already with me not missing a weekday since returning to school.

I am yet to decide what my goals are fitness wise for this year, I have tossed up with the idea of running a Half Marathon at the end of May (HBF Run for a Reason) and then maybe the Half Marathon City to Surf in August as well. My first challenge will be at the beginning of May at school, the Inter-House Cross Country. I have challenged the boys in my Tutor Group (the Pastoral Care Form Class I have every morning) that for every boy who beats me I will donate $10 to charity. I am confident that there’s probably only one boy who will beat me, the fastest in the Year 9 cohort, however I’d like to even give it a good crack to beat him.

My training is consisting currently of a 20 minute cycle, I consistently am riding 10km in this time, followed by a 10 minute run running 5 minute kms. Today I increased the time running to 15 minutes keeping the same pace with tomorrow the aim being for 20 minutes at this pace. I would like to be able to work towards keeping a sub-5 minute km pace over an extended distance, I know this will take a bit of work and more attention to my diet.

The biggest hurdle to my achieving my best results is probably going to be related to sleep, particularly getting enough of it. I am still getting up at 5:15am every morning to exercise before work, however I haven’t been too disciplined with going to bed so far this year. This is starting to now make me feel that little more tired first thing in the morning and it’s harder to motivate myself to really push to my fullest capacity when at the gym.

There’s no time like the present to really get cracking!!!

Consistency is the Key to Success in the Long Term

Day 275 – Tuesday 30th September 2014 – Cardiovascular Session.

It’s been a long time since I have sat down to write a fitness update on how I am going in reaching my 2014 goals that I set out in “New Beginnings”. The year has proved to be a busy one and finding the time to sit down regularly and write about my fitness journey has proved challenging if not impossible on a regular basis. Having said this though, it has been pleasing to see me get into a good routine over the past eleven weeks of the year in completing cardio sessions.

Day 193_1I did have a troubled part of the year from mid-February through until the end of May, usually this would write me off for the remainder of the year, it is so difficult to get back into habit once you have lost it. I have been pleased that this hasn’t been the case, since the middle of July I have completed five cardio sessions almost every week, I have been rising at 5:15am and getting done a combination of riding, running and rowing with some abdominal work thrown in there over the past few weeks.  Since this date I have only missed four training days, this has always occurred as a result of me sleeping through my alarm clock in the morning (usually due to it not going off because of a flat battery).

In this time I have increased my average cycle distance from 10km in 20 minutes to averaging over 11km in 20 minutes with a personal best up at 11.5km. I have increased the work load adding in a 5 minute row on the ergo and a 10 minute run, the run is now slowly increasing in its intensity as well and I hope to be able to increase the length of this run in the coming weeks.

I did find that yesterday’s session is the headrest one that I have completed for a very long time due to the nature of it. The gym was closed until 9:00am with it being a public holiday in Perth, I know my weaknesses and that I would not complete any exercise if it wasn’t done early so I decided to go for a run. This is the first outdoor run of any distance that I have completed for a long time, and I didn’t hold back as I completed 10km inside 50 minutes. My legs started to burn towards the end of it, and I knew that they’d be sore later but I didn’t mind as it was quite an achievement for myself.

Today has been difficult, my legs are so sore and the session this morning at the gym I had to take easy due to fatigue. I did manage to complete my 20 minutes on the bike, riding only 9.8km, a 5 minute ergo and 10 minute run before spending a decent amount of time stretching out some sore and tired muscles.

I really enjoyed my run, moving forward I think I will need to incorporate one longer run a week into my program. I don’t overly want to drop a gym session so it might mean moving to a six day a week program. My program will need to change in the next week as I try to restart my weights program, there’s been very little of this done so far this year…things are about to get a bit more painful.

Back into the Routine of Things

Day 13 – Monday 13th January 2014 – Cardiovascular Session.

Today saw me return to the gym and my regular routine for the first time since injuring my calf muscle. Today was a planned cardiovascular workout day and I was keen to complete a worthwhile session to make up for the missed sessions due to the calf strain.

Whilst I was keen to put in a good session I was also aware of not pushing things too hard as I would not want to cause further disruption to my routine and I have an indoor soccer game tonight that I want to be fighting fit for. To ensure that I would get through this session I decided to keep away from running on the treadmill instead opting for a long ride followed by a longer session on the rowing machine before finishing with an additional ride.

I arrived at the gym and headed for the cycles, my first ride was a 20 minute cycle with a medium resistance set. I managed to keep a relatively good speed up and had completed a distance of 10km inside the 20minutes. My upper legs, particularly glutes, were hurting towards the end of the ride but at this stage my calf was feeling quite good.

The row was next on the agenda today,  I was going to complete a 10 minute row instead of my usual 5 minutes. The row probably wasn’t the most intense one that I have ever done though I did manage to keep my stroke rate up at the 30 strokes per minute and my average 500m split around the 2 minute and 5 second mark.

I finished the cardio part of the session with another ten minute cycle. Managing to keep the intensity up I rode an additional 5km in this time.

I then headed to the stretching abs area and completed three sets of fifty sit ups before doing a comprehensive stretch.

Tomorrow is supposed to be my next weights day, I am looking forward to getting into completing another one. So far getting back into the routine of things is proving quite enjoyable.

A Day of Mixed Results

Day 3 – Friday 3rd January 2014 – Cardiovascular Session.

Today marked the beginning of my scheduled cardiovascular workouts for the year. Although feeling quite sore from yesterday’s weights workout I was optimistic that today’s session would be a good one.

I arrived at the gym just before 7:00am, the plan of attack was to be a 20 minute run on the treadmill followed by a 5 minute ergo and a 10 minute ride to finish. I began my 20 minute run with 5 minutes on 8km/h and felt good so increased the speed to 10km/h. Unfortunately a setback occurred at the 19 minute mark with a twinge in my left calf, not wanting to risk further damage at this point of the year I stopped my run and moved onto the ergo.

I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to compete the session due to the calf injury so began slowly on both the ergo and cycle. Neither appeared to be pulling too much which meant I could complete the session.

I am not sure what condition my calf is going to be in when I wake up tomorrow, being on honest it has been quite tight all day. I have been wearing a pressure bandage on it to try and keep some pressure on it and have been trying to take it easy with limited movement. Hopefully come my next session on Monday I will be ready to go, if not then I will have to look at modifying my program until it is ready for me to run on again. I am not going to let this be a setback to me reaching the fitness goals I have set for myself for New Beginnings 2014.

It would be possible for me to feel a little dejected from this set back, the last 24 hours has seen me receive an amazing and very unexpected present. I received a tweet from HBF WA in response to my post yesterday into my fitness goals for 2014, they have given me a gift in the form of a gym pack to help me reach my goals.

New Beginnings 2014  Day 3

I returned home from my walk with my wife and daughter to find the present on our front door step; inside was a gym towel, set of fitted headphones and two pairs of gym socks. This unexpected gift is such an encouragement and I am looking forward to using these over the year ahead.New Beginnings 2014 Day 3

Tomorrow is an unscheduled exercise day, I know that as the year goes on I will start writing posts less frequently; I will do my best to write at least one a week. As New Beginnings is about more than just exercise, there are a series of goals across every area of my life,  may use Saturday and Sunday as an opportunity to do an overview of the entire week and how I think everything has gone (Saturday) and then use Sunday as an opportunity to outline the areas I am hoping to improve. I know that the goals I have set myself I will not achieve immediately, they really are about a lifestyle shift to not necessarily be busier but utilise time more effectively, continue to grow and develop into a better Husband, Father and Man in every area of my life.

New Beginnings 2014 Day_3

Bring on the challenges ahead!

The Joys of Winter

Day 199 – Wednesday 17th July 2013.

I awoke this morning to the sound of wind and rain on the roof, the storm from yesterday still hadn’t passed the big question is will it be bad enough for me to decide not to run? I got out of bed a little later, 5:45am, and headed through the darkness to the back room to peer out into the early morning to get an idea of weather conditions. The sight I saw was heavy rain, and the trees being battered with high speed winds…not a hard decision to make at all, the run was not going to happen.

Rain

Probably at the point many people would tell me to just “harden up” and “get out there and do your run even in the Winter conditions”. If it was just raining lightly or looked like it would clear then I would have no problem with doing this, however, I do draw the line at running in the midst of a storm for a number of reasons including, the possibility of sickness which would have a greater effect on my training routine, the danger of falling branches from trees and the chance of slipping over and injuring myself.

I do I find it frustrating when these mornings occur that effect my training regime, it is probably the one thing about Winter that I really am not a fan of. I love the sound of the rain on a tin roof and even the powerful wind blowing through trees, the ability to get warm in winter clothes and the smell of an open log fire would be some of my favourites. It’s the only time that I really miss my gym membership, being able to complete a cross-training sessions inside. Possibly I could have completed some exercises using my body weight at home but I injured my right hand a few weeks ago and I know it won’t be able to take my weight at this point in time.

Day 199

One of my plans is to set up an area in my back shed with a bench so I can get back into doing some weights. My mate Mike Haydon gave me some free weights a few years ago but I just don’t have the area set up to use these at the moment and with the amount of work to get done around the back yard this probably won’t be a reality until early next year. I guess for now all I can hope is this storm has passed by tomorrow morning so I can get back into a run.

The one positive I can take out of all this is that I still have gotten up and can use this time productively to get some more work done.

The Enjoyment of Early Mornings

Day 193 – Thursday 11th July 2013

I know that to many people this will seem a strange statement, especially coming from a musician who, due to the very nature of his work, can be out quite late at night but I am really beginning to enjoy my early morning starts. Don’t get me wrong, there are many mornings that I wake to my alarm at 5:15am and don’t feel like getting up, in fact this morning was one of these due to Zoe, my 4 month old daughter, deciding to wake us up at 4:30am this morning with her singing in her bassinet. What I am beginning to love is all the benefits that go with waking early and committing to a daily run.

This morning I did get up a little later than usual with the clock just turning over to 6:00am. It was still dark and cold as I got ready and headed off for my 4.5km run from home, around Lake Monger and back again. As I mentioned previously my energy levels were feeling a little low due to being disturbed by my daughter serenading my wife and I at a ghastly hour, I suppose some would say we should get used to that though! The resultant in a lack of energy made the run a struggle and I found it difficult to get any momentum and rhythm throughout the entire run, I did manage to work up a sweat so there were at least some positives to take out of the experience.

Day 193_1As I was running this morning I really managed to have the opportunity to take in the beautiful surrounds of the Lake as it awoke to another day. The sun was not up by the time I had finished but in the last 1.5km as I was looking East across the waters you could see a wonderful display of colours beginning to form and take shape in the sky behind the city scape and in the waters of the lake. I really am very blessed to live in such a beautiful city and near an incredible lake where I can exercise regularly.

Day 193I have also been enjoying the extra time in day of my holidays from rising early. I made a decision at the beginning of the week that I wanted to keep my regular routine from the school term with regards to rising. The reason behind this was to try and help me keep in routine making it easier to go back to school without any significant effect on my exercise regime. I have found that I can have a shower, breakfast and get a couple of hours work done before the rest of the house stirs. This has been of huge benefit in getting a number of jobs done for my wedding music business, teaching admin work and general blog writing like this one. It has enabled me to have more time free later int he day for the important things in life including spending time with my family.

One of the great benefit to the early starts was seen yesterday morning, It was raining, I don’t run in the rain, so I got up and into organising all the details needed to complete my tax return. By the end of the day everything tax wise is ready to go to the accountant early next week. As well as completing this I managed to go out with my wife to the shops and hangout over a coffee down by Scarborough Beach for a few hours. That’s what I call being able to enjoy the important things in life.

Tomorrow will be an interesting run as I have a gig tonight down in Fremantle. I am hoping that the night isn’t too late but will probably be around 1:00am before I get to bed. Hopefully it’s not too hard to get up after only a few hours sleep,  suppose I’ll know by this time tomorrow!

Now where’s my cup of coffee!

Cold Beginnings

Day 191 – Tuesday 9th July 2013.

I always find it challenging to run regularly in the middle of Winter, something about getting up well before the sun at 5:15am every morning, out of my warm bed, into my running gear and braving the cold conditions regularly under 5 degrees is just not that appealing to me for some reason. I have, however, managed to regularly commit to subjecting myself to this torture four times a week regularly over the last month and a half to two months.

Unlike at the beginning of the year I have not been blogging regularly on my regular runs, this is not due to a lack of wanting to or a lack of completing exercise but rather just a lack of time to sit down and do it. A lot has changed since 2013 began; I am now a Father with my beautiful wife giving birth to a beautiful little girl, I am in a new job working longer hours, a new house and a bigger mortgage to just name a few of these things. Life is just feeling a lot fuller which has made my time limited to regularly blog, I am hoping to be able to start to do this more and also get back into doing it for my gigs and start on teaching resources as well. All that aside though, I’d better get back to my run this morning and progress over the past few months.

At 5:25am my second alarm for the morning went off, I semi-woke up to it before being nudged by my beautiful wife to hurry up and turn it off so that I didn’t wake Zoe up. She had only gotten back to sleep recently after a 4:30am feed and I didn’t want to be the one responsible for waking her up again! I have gotten into the habit of setting two alarms, one at 5:15am and the second at 5:25am this is because a number of times I began sleeping through my alarm due to having the volume on really low to not wake up Zoe.

Day 191I considered rolling over and going back to sleep but knew that in order to continue ti grow I’d need to face the cold so I got up and proceeded to get ready for my run. Like all my runs of the last two months I was to complete a 4.5km course my aim is to do this under 20 minutes, I have only managed to achieve this once so far with most of my runs falling between the 22 and 23 minutes mark depending on the morning and how tired I am feeling. By 5:35am I had made my way out to the car, as usual it was dark and cold with the sun not due up until after 7:00am and the temperature sitting somewhere between 4.7 and 5.1 degrees centigrade.

I arrived at the car park a little away from Lake Monger for my 4.5km run by 5:40am. I retightened my shoelaces to try and prevent them from coming undone on the run and then began the run into the cold. I find the first  one and a half kilometres I feel quite cold, the chill goes straight through my jumper and other layers and penetrates deep to my bones, it didn’t help with my shoelace coming undone 500m into the run meaning  had to stop and do it up before continuing.

One element of the cold mornings I do continue to find quite refreshing, the cold air into my lungs and the feeling of freshness in the air around me. I have stopped listening to music when I run instead listening to the sound of my breathing and it’s rate in relation to the number of footsteps I take. Interestingly this seems to have helped take my mind off the cold and find a more consistent rhythm to my running. By the end of the first kilometre I had found my rhythm in running and was starting to warm up. I felt I was making reasonable time but knew it wasn’t going to be fast enough to break the elusive 20 minute mark.

Having found my natural rhythm for the morning I began the process of thinking of the challenges I foresee my family facing in the future especially with regards to financial decisions and finding the right balance between spending / providing everything that is needed now with saving for the future and ways I can try and increase our income stream. Whilst I still don’t have all answers on this front I am confident that we are on the right track, it’s more a matter of continuing to examine / re-examine possibilities and not hold onto anything as sacred. By the 2km mark I had noticed that my speed had slowed down, largely due to the lack of concentration on my running, I began to correct this and pick up my overall pace which was re-established by the 2.5km mark.

By the time I had returned to my car in the car park 23 minutes had passed. This is not the greatest time that I had run, there’s a lot of room for improvement. I am hoping over these holidays that I can try and stretch myself with some longer runs as well. A few things that I do know, whilst my blogging isn’t happening regularly, the early morning starts are here to stay for the foreseeable future, hopefully I can bring this time down a little more and build on developing a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

An Early Start to the Day

Day 64 – Tuesday 4th March 2013.

The last month has been nothing short of a disappointing effort in my overall training regime. After having started the month brilliantly with not missing a day during the month of January I did not train at all throughout all of February, not one run! There are many reasons behind this occurring, the most significant being a long list of injuries. Over the last month I have had a swollen ankle for over a week and a half from someone stomping on me in a social soccer game as well as hip and glute problems. The last few days is the best I have felt physically since January.

All of this aside, I knew it was important for me to now get back into some sort of routine this week. Our baby is due in the next week and if I don’t get on top of training now, as a friend pointed out to me, things are just going to be more difficult later on!

Day 64This morning I decided to ease back into it with a 4.5km run, I was not out to break any records but rather just get it done. I awoke this morning at 5:29 am, my alarm was set for 5:30 so this was great as I didn’t disturb my wife who was still asleep in bed next to me. The morning air felt really fresh and I was looking forward to hitting the pavement.

By 5:45 am I was beginning my run around Lake Monger, the sun had only just risen by this stage. I love the feeling of an early morning run as the sun is just coming up or even starting when it is dark and witnessing that moment of transition from night to day. There is just something about witnessing the entire world wake up to a brand new day, an opportunity for redemption and to start a fresh on many new adventures.

The run itself was quite enjoyable, I didn’t really time myself today although I would say it would have been approximately 25 minutes to complete the circuit. This isn’t the best time int he world but I am happy with how my body felt and I know that if I can continue to get up and get on with my running that this time can very quickly come down.

This year I think one of my goals should be to run in a few races, not to compete but rather to measure my development and hopefully hold me accountable. The first I am thinking of is the HBF run for a Reason. It’s not too long only being 14km so it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge for me.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself but I am hoping that this month will be a much more successful one for exercise and committing to my regime. I suppose all I can do is make sure I get up int he mornings when my alarm goes off and give it my best…let’s see how that goes once the baby arrives!

Reflection is a Powerful Tool

Day 31 – Thursday 31st January 2013.

Today marks the end of the first month of my new training regime. As I write this I am reminded that in order to grow and develop one needs to not only look forward at what is to come but also backwards as to what has previously occurred, assess the results of this and decide how things can be improved to encourage a better tomorrow. I feel that as I write today’s post that I could possibly try and cover some of these aspects.

I have been happy with the progress I have made so far throughout this month, whilst there have been some hurdles including a move which took away a good two weeks of training, I have seen growth and development in my abilities. It is still a struggle to get out of bed and do my runs but I believe already I am seeing the benefits with me feeling fitter and definitely looking like I have lost some of the weight already from around my middle. As my desire for doing this training is to maintain a healthier lifestyle I think that I am hitting this target.

Going forward into the next month I would love to get to the end of February having run on every weekday of the month. This is a challenge that is not impossible but will stretch me, especially with full time work now having kicked in.

Day 31Today’s run began just after 6:00am, it was another planned short run of 4.5km. I started the run feeling quite well although I couldn’t get into a fast rhythm. It was a fairly uneventful run, my focus was on trying to complete the lap in under 20 minutes. I felt whilst this would be a challenging target that it would be possible to achieve if I worked hard throughout the entire run.

By the one kilometre mark I had been running for just over five minutes, I knew that this would be off the pace from what I needed to be setting of 4 minute and 40 seconds per kilometre. I tried to pick up the pace but found it challenging to increase my speed, I did manage this however with my next kilometre coming up in 10 minutes. I then experienced the usual problem, my shoelaces came undone, this time both feet!

Picking the pace back up after the shoelace tying was a challenge, but manageable. Unfortunately by this stage I knew that I wouldn’t be breaking my previous best time and going under the 20 minute mark for the 4.5km. My attention now turned to completing it under 25 minutes, this would still be a reasonable effort on my behalf.

By the time I completed the lap and returned to the car my clock clicked over to 22 minutes and 14 seconds which meant the average kilometre was run in 4 minutes and 54 seconds.

If I can get up early enough tomorrow I might try and extend myself with three laps…it all depends on what time I get up in the morning!

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