Tag Archive: Exercise


For the past 6 to 12 months I’ve not been cycling or exercising as I should.  I’ve literally gone from one injury to another whilst the weight has been piling back on.  The irony being that I’m sure the injuries are the bi-product of being very overweight for years and yet to lose the weight I need to exercise with which being injured makes it a struggle.

Cycling is my first love and my previous blog was full of the journey I made from just playing about on a mountain bike and doing infrequent and small mileage to buying a road bike and doing 50 – 70 miles a week.  Alas but my weight yo-yo’d throughout that period and has continued to this very day.

I’m back to 20 stone and I’m keen to get down to 14 or so.  I have a number of close friends who similarly enjoy their cycling and the last few weeks have seen me going back out with them.  Nothing serious but enough to rewet the appetite.  I’ve also been watching “The Biggest Loser” on channel Pick.  It’s the American series but to be fair I find their version FAR superior to the British one.  They provide a great source of inspiration and this has also served to rewet my appetite for getting back in shape.

So without further to do I’m announcing that I’m back in the land of blog to record the next phase of the weight loss/cycling journey.  Complimenting this will hopefully be other points of interest like dogs, hill walking and fishing. We’ll see…

Who’s up for journeying with me?

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Back in the day I liked to mess about on my BMX and/or mountain bike. I wasn’t brilliant nor even good but I could pass myself and I enjoyed the challenge of it. At the time I was a tad cocky (hard to believe I know) and I would have given most things a rattle.  Now 25 years later and 10 or so stone heavier I’m a different person.  My co-ordination is awful and my timing has gone to pot.  Is mountain biking a good idea?  Now let’s get this clear I’m not talking about downhill racing or anything hyper nuts just something a little crazy.

I have a mate who I’ve known for 20 years or so and for the last few years throughout the winter he’s been cycling the forests at night.  Again back in the day it would have been me you’d have expected to give that a rattle, not him. Strange how things change. He’s been asking me to give it a go for ages now and so far to date I’ve always found an excuse but of late I’ve been having a rethink.  I still haven’t made my mind up to be honest all I know is that if I’m going to do this I am going to have to work hard at my all round fitness and more importantly my confidence.  I’ll also need to purchase a decent set of lights and be prepared to come off the odd time or three… is it worth it?

I don’t know, all I know is I would like to have my mind made up soon!

I took my bike out for a quick 15 miles this morning.  The weather was bright, dry and without wind, so ok it was 4 degrees but it was as close to perfect as you are likely to get given the time of year.  The first mile was slow and as I climbed the hill out of my village I was struggling.  Why so slow & why is this so hard?  I hit the top of the hill and unusually stopped to catch my breath.  I hadn’t trained in 5 days so it wasn’t fatigue that was affecting me.

Three miles later and I felt like my muscles were still cold and my lungs reluctant.  Surely this was going to get easier soon I thought. Over the next hill and a few miles further down the road there was still no sign of the new legs I was hoping for.  It hit me that over the past week I hadn’t been sleeping well and with work, stress levels were unusually high.  To a certain extent stress levels are always reasonable high but this past week has been tough.  Were these two factors having a bigger effect than I had budgeted for?

I hit mile 10 and I was starting to get cross with myself!  What on earth is going on I demanded to know, I have been training for the past 5 weeks and this should be a heck of a lot easier.  Then it struck me for the past week my diet has been so poor its been close to a dung fly’s.  With stress come anxiety and with anxiety comes comfort eating.  If I’m honest the last week has been nothing short of a disgrace.  An old saying about computers says “crap in- crap out” why should my body be any different, crap food = crap performance.  Then in my anger and frustration I heard the bike say to me, it’s the junk food or me…  Cheeky git I thought, but you know something? Cheeky or not, the bike or just a thought, whatever it was it is right!  Things need to change if I want to experience results, its time not just to train but to commit to a balanced diet.  It is time to start prioritising decent sleep and to stop running from stress and instead to work through it.  It’s time to take control and give myself a chance of progress.

Of course this is nothing new; this has been a three year journey that has looked more like the hokey cokey than a journey towards weight loss and health.  I’m tired of the one step forward two steps back approach. I’ve been huffing with myself for ages about this issue.  What is the point of losing weight if you are just going to put it back on?  Three times now I’ve moved from 19 and a half stone to 17 stone and three times I’ve put it back on.  I need to grow up and move on, crap or get off the pot so to speak.  Here’s to movement into new ground and thinking never to return to the old pastures of the hokey cokey.

I woke this morning to note that it was blowing a gale and lashing it down… No cycling outside today I thought.  I did the school run and as we travelled down the A1 the skies looked like they had the potential to break out nice.  Half an hour later and whilst still blowing a gale the skies were blue and thankfully the rain had ceased.  My new Trek 1.5 is in the workshop at the moment getting the once over.  Last week 90 miles into its new life it started to make a dull thumping noise and not the type that comes from something simple like a chain rattling off the front derailleur.

So I reached for my mountain bike, an old faithful friend that I’ve always enjoyed.  It’s been a while and as I looked at it I remembered that with the last puncture I had put the front tyre on wrong with the directional arrow rotating in the wrong direction.  I’d suggest that that’s why the last time I was out on it there was more water hitting me from the tyres than the skies… Giving the high level of water on the road I decided that now was the time to amend the error.  What a struggle I had getting the tyre off.  It was 4 degrees and the cold tyre was just refusing to stretch off the rim.  Frustrated and in an unusual moment of genius I put the wheel on the radiator in the kitchen and in two minutes the tyre just popped off with the slightest encouragement from the tyre lever.

 

Eventually I got out complete with my new winter Lycra bib tights on, would they be too warm?  Well, we were about to find out.  Once out of the village and onto the open road the wind hit me relentlessly hard.  I started to question if this venture was wise but the mountain bike whilst slow was making comfortable work of it; I took the pressure off to be fast and told myself to relax. It was going well but after a while you really begin to notice just how slow a mountain bike is.  I was sitting at 10mph, now to be fair the wind had a lot to do with the lack of velocity but I couldn’t help but get frustrated.  If I was on my road bike I would be sitting at 15mph, a full 50% faster.

 

As I reached the brow of a hill having clocked up 12 miles and just about to head for home I could feel the joy within me well up.  I was out in very inhospitable conditions and winning.  I wasn’t tired or cold, this was fun and I was enjoying it.  The thought came to me that I had worked my way from hatred to love.  The initial hatred of the wind and the cold and the hatred in the early miles for cold muscles and reluctant lungs but as everything warmed up and the blood began to flow easily, love for the task arrived.  I could hear the question being asked was there other things in life that I needed to push from hatred to love with.  Dieting is the obvious one but are there others? Are there areas of life where I just need to push on through … food for thought.

 

Home was in sight and the wind had taken its toll on my legs, I was tired but feeling on a high. As I climbed the last hill before home I was glad of the triple on the mountain bike, the gearing really is nicely spaced out on the bike.  It’s a bike I think I’ll keep for some time to come.

A walk in Drumkeeragh Forest…

I took a walk today round an old favourite, Drumkeeragh Forest. A mate of mine brought the place into a conversation I was having on Facebook about how wild the entrance fee is to Castlewellan Park, and so I thought I’d pay a visit. It’s always been a kind of a weird place and I’ve always been a bit spooked by it and yet at the same time drawn to it.  I’m not sure what the weird atmosphere is about. Is it simply the feeling of being on ones own in the middle of a forest or is it influenced by its history which includes a murder that took place there in the 90’s and/or the IRA using it to hide in when they staged a big prison breakout in the 80’s. The place is starting to suffer from a lack of investment which I’m sure can only continue with the recession. Some of the paths have been washed away by the rain over the years and not replaced and grass has also overgrown the path too in parts.  The picture is of the path that cuts through the centre of the forest during a particularly wet period.

It’s a little hilly in places and to be honest as I walked I was shocked at how bad a condition my chest is in.  I’ve had a cold for two weeks, nothing major and so I was shocked when the wheezing started as did the pounding heart as I struggled for air.  Getting back to a decent level of fitness may take longer than I thought.

This week has seen my return to training. Even with a heavy cold I managed three sessions.  Basically I’ve had about 6 weeks off and since Easter I have slowly and steadily been putting weight back on.  My mates Nigel (aka Webber) & Jeremy have been a real encouragement to me to back on the bike.  As usual one of the outcomes of a prolonged absence from cycling is a lack of confidence.  I’ve been battling with it for a few weeks whilst taking small steps towards getting back to healthy eating & regular exercise.  This week I grasped the nettle and got on my turbo trainer and also did some very light weights.

It felt good to get back on the horse so to speak.  My eating has been far from perfect but I have to say I’m feeling a heck of a lot better for the three sessions I trained this week.  Bring it on…