With the clocks springing forward yesterday, it was back to peering into the coffee pot to see the water level after a dark 6am start this morning.  But the last time it was this dark was the 1st March, so it’s taken less than four weeks to gain an hour of morning light.  With longer days on the menu it’s difficult to feel anything other than excellent!

With the onset of beautiful weather we spent most of the weekend working in the garden, but based on my HIT experience on Saturday I decided not to run yesterday.  We did the three 20-second burst of running, but each time it felt like it was 10 seconds too long… I was totally exhausted afterwards!

The garden is looking pretty neat though, with the table out for the summer and already used twice, whilst the tea-house has a new carpet courtesy of Kim.

The lurgi blues

Oh my, the winter lurgi this year was a minger, with a razor-blade sore throat and days of incessant coughing.  Loads of people have had it already and no-one seems to have a good word about it… and if you’ve not had it, then it’s one to avoid at all costs!

Thankfully mine is on the exit ramp now, so I will hopefully be back in my runners next weekend.

Kim and I did manage another training HIT on the 13th and my fitness had already improved sufficiently to bring my knees up while I ran wildly on the spot… thankfully out of the public view!  Even after just 60 seconds of exercise I was SO hot, but there is definitely a benefit to be gained.

It’s a very rare thing for me to ask for sponsorship (and I’m not breaking that habit now either), but my good friend Daren is going to be running the 50-mile Paris Ecotrail next weekend and he is collecting for a brilliant charity that he started in memory of his brother, Clive.  The charity encourages young people to go on adventures… a little like the TMB clallenge that Daren and I went on in the summer, the link for which is on the menu above.

So even if you don’t know Daren but you can spare a couple of quid, please donate to a really great cause at http://www.justgiving.com/Daren-Packham – Thank you very much!

Minute three

We’ve just done our third HIT session and all I can say is that I’m glad each segment is no longer than 20 seconds, and that there are only three of them!

I guess that our natural instinct is to hold back something in reserve, and we can only overcome this default setting because of the short durations involved.  At the rate I was pushing, arms and legs pumping away like a steam train on full tilt, I would flat out on the floor even at 30 seconds!

Having only completed three minutes of exercise in the last nine days, it’s possibly too early to look for signs of progress… but it’s fair to say that none are yet apparent!

Avoiding the circuit breakers

One of the reasons that people often end up breaking their New Year resolutions is the way that the mind works… or should I say, minds.  Our subconscious is basically a series of computers which manage local services within our body.  They react to both internal and external stimuli, but otherwise they quite simply execute habitual behaviour.

Our habitual behaviour (aka habit) towards the end of a year is generally eating and drinking to excess and doing little exercise… a line of computer code that our subconscious is happy to run for us.

When New Year comes and our conscious decides that we’re going to diet and exercise more, the subconscious is still trying to run the old line of code, so there’s a little battle of willpower.  In most people, the subconscious is way more resilient, having had years of getting its own way and at some point, maybe in February or March, we pause our exercise routine for some reason and forget to get back to it.  At lest until our next reminder when the swimsuit comes out of the cupboard in the summer.

Meanwhile the subconscious goes back to running its old line of code and when we realise that our new routine has lapsed we often get frustrated or depressed, all of which the subconscious wraps into its memory of that new diet and exercise behaviour… essentially making it harder to get back to in the future.

To overcome this cyclical frustration we must simply approach the challenge in a different way.

First, we must accept that the new behaviour of dieting and going to the gym will definitely lapse.  For sure!  So there is no point in getting upset about it.

Second, we should recognise that we won’t pick up on the fact that it has lapsed, at least to start with, so once again we should not be upset with ourselves when we do finally realise.

Third, we should just pick up again where we left off.  In doing this we are essentially offering up a new line of code for the subconscious computer to run.  It will eventually adopt this new code as a default behaviour, although you will undoubtedly have to go around the circuit… lapse, realise and re-present, lapse, realise and re-present… a number of times first.

Except for one week, we have so far managed to stick with the Monday circuits class this year and have even started to add our extra minute from time to time… an indication that the subconscious likes the dopamine rush that exercise gives.  Our good intentions will undoubtedly lapse at some point, as other things distract us, but when they do, you now know exactly what we’ll be doing about it.

Last night there was a round of applause for Peter, whose birthday it is this week.  He quietly works his way around the exercises just like everyone else and has apparently been coming for quite some time.  I think his conscious must be quite resilient though, compared to many people, since he will turn 83 tomorrow.

Six of the best

I was a bit miserable this morning, having missed a 40th birthday party that I was really looking forward to last night.  Kim thought it was later in the month and I didn’t realise until too late.

My neighbour’s wonderful cats cheered me up a little (I occasionally act as their food-on-feet service when my neighbours are away), a quadespresso and a little guitar playing brightened me further still and finally a great friend called from the other side of the world for a catch up, which was top banana and improved my morning no end!

It was raining persistently outside which, though GREAT for the garden and water-table, since we’ve been on drought alert, was not so appealing to run in.  So, risking the mirth of Cliff & Co, I opted for a run on the machine.

I’d still not had breakfast at this point so I downed a banana (the largest I’ve seen in an age) by way of sustenance before  jumping straight on and winding the speed up… somewhat against Kim’s advice.  As normal I moved the speed up, up, up or down at each quarter-mile and by the time I reached 9mph had decided that I would complete 6 miles… which is about the time that I got the stitch, that big banana fighting back against being digested!

My plans for greater speed disrupted, I was adamant that I wasn’t going to acquiesce to my subconscious by stopping at 4 miles and calling it a day.  Instead I just lowered the speed until I managed to catch my breath and then started increasing it again, this time every eighth of a mile.

I crossed the 6-mile line in 48 minutes, an average of 7.5mph on the nose, before cooling down for a quarter mile at a sedentary 3mph.

Cooling down is a misnomer… I was so wet with sweat when I finally stepped off that I looked like I had just stepped out of the shower.  Realising that I wasn’t going to cool down for quite some time, I capitalised on the rain outside by going to wash Kim’s car… using less water than normal in the process and saving me the effort of rinsing or drying it!

I’m now finally back down to normal working temperature and am also actually really glad that I didn’t go to the party last night.  I’m pretty certain that it would have been a tediously boring evening…

…without all those people, including the host, who will be attending it next weekend!  Needless to say that I’ve not yet told Kim… I reckon I’m going to get six of the well-deserved best when she reads this!

Minute two

Sitting here PANTING after our second minute of HIT (High Intensity Training).

My goodness, what an amazing workout!  Though my body clearly didn’t register the sports-scientists assertion that you can do it without sweating… I am HOT!