Unloading Ballast

The time has come to do something about my weight. I have been inspired by a number of people who have done great things. It started with a close friend who astounded everyone by managing to work off an astonishing 60Kg (132lb, 9.5 stone). Then, Steve in the office caught the bug, dropped 4 stone (56lb, 25KG) and started running half marathons. Next, Paul my brother, transformed into an Adonis in 12 weeks, then cycled the length of the country from Lands End to John O'Groats. Finally, a video of Arthur Boorman caught my eye.

So, on 10th May, I got a new scale from Withings . It is a fancy device, with WiFi connectivity. Every time I jump on it, it logs my progress, so it is really easy to keep track. I find it particularly motivating. I'm going to take the plunge and make it public.

On the 10th May, I stopped snacking. It might not sound like much but that's a big move for me.

Whilst stopping the snacks will help, I really need to get more exercise. I havn't been able to run since falling off the kite back in 2008, so I have taken up walking. I started off gently with a mile or two but I have now worked out a decent route and I'm tracking it with RunKeeper. I started off with an average speed of 2.7 to 2.8mph but I have now increased to comfortably over 3mph. I established a route of 9 miles and was pleased to get it done in less than three hours. Next, I tweaked the route to a square 10 miles and challenged myself to complete that in less than 3 hours. I can now do this comfortably. The next obvious challenge was the half-marathon distance. At the time of writing, I have managed this distance twice but it takes me a full four hours to walk, which is more than I can sustainably manage to put aside before starting work at 9am.

The combination of exercise without snacking is paying off. By 10 weeks, I had managed to loose just a shade under 3 stone (18.4Kg). But I have a long way to go. My targets include:

  • 9 miles in 3 hours (3mph average) - done!
  • 10 miles in 3 hours (3.33mph average) - done!
  • 6 miles at an average of 3.5mph average - done!
  • 13 miles (half marathon) - done. And on my first attempt, I did this at a cracking average of 3.5 mph!
  • 20 miles - future target
  • 26 miles (marathon distance) - future target
  • 50 miles - future target
  • Touching my toes. I started off able to reach about half-way down my shin - I had lost a heap of flexibility since the fall. I recently manage to reach one toe with one hand, which is a great improvement but obviously the target is to reach both toes with both hands, together.
  • Running a mile. This might not be practical. The flexibility lost after the fall makes it very difficult for me to run without the risk of further injury. Hoever, I have run short distances (100 - 200m) for the first time since the fall.
  • 12 stone (168lb, 76Kg). My weight target is a placeholder. I don't know the weight that I am actualy aiming for, I will decide when I am closer to the target, but mentally, I am figuring that it may be something around the 12 stone mark, some 6kg South of my start point.
  • And a stretch target. Having the weight, flexibility and fitness to take an Accellerated Freefall course. Well see...

Progress is good, but not constant as I struggle to find the right level of challenge (a moving target) and the right equipment. My feet are not normal. I am the opposite of flat footed. Very strong, high arch. Tendancy to walk on the front of my feet rather than landing the heel first. If I stand on my bare feet, my toes don't touch the floor. The result is that rather than the pressure being spread across the whole foot, most of the pressure is on the ball of the foot for most of the time.

I started off with a pair of lightweight boots but they let too much of the contour of the ground through. The balls of my feet were sore and stepping on the smallest stone would come through the sole with a sharp pain. I tried doing 10 miles in a pair of Caterpillar boots. Sure enough, I couldn't feel anything on the road but they left me crippled due to rubbing on the heel and a total lack of cushioning.

So, on the advice of Steve and Izzy, I went to Sweatshop in Reading where the looked at my pathetic walking style and found me a pair of trainers with lots of cushioning and a hard outer sole. £70 later and I had a pair of Nikes - the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. Followed by a trip to the cheropodist to get the damage sorted out and I was back on track.

Encouraged by Karen, I have tried to increase my pace. She challenged we to do 6 miles at an average of 3.5 mph. That's about as fast as I can walk without bursting into a run. I managed to do it and then kept going to complete 13 miles (a half marathon) at the same pace, but I got blisters as a result, so I don't think that I am ready to do that sort of pace on a consistent basis.

So, progress is being made. My clothes are feeling looser, my face is thinner, I can walk further and faster without difficulty. If you would like to join my runkeeper street team, please drop me a line.