Fadtastico!

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Yeah all right mum

Time for another fad diet! I'm 3 years into low carbohydrate eating and on the whole it's been great; lost a load of weight, gave energy to exercise and blunted the majority of type 2 diabetes risks.

That's been great but I need a new project. One of the downsides is that despite losing a lot of weight I'm a bit skinny fat; slim but carrying more midriff weight than I'd like and a little punier than I'd prefer. And I probably weigh a little more than I'd like. I think my body has got pretty efficient running under low carbohydrate regimen and after hitting a low of 11st 12lb in the early days I'm settled at around 13st. For 6'2" that's okay and huge improvement over the heady heights of 17st but my I'm not hitting my goals. I'd like are a bit more muscle mass (particularly in the core area), lose some fat to get a little lighter and ultimately have a better build for running / cycling.

So time to try something new and this time it's Carb Nite; an ultra low carbohydrate (ULC) diet punctuated with weekly carbohydrate backloading while swapping out cardio for strength training.

The theory is on a low carb diet your body can get the idea it's starving and cling on it to is fat. On Carb Nite ULC forces the body to metabolize fat while a weekly carb pig out stops you going into starvation mode.

It could be cobblers but there's a graph and everything :D

Play to your strengths yeah? I do best when I have some sort of framework to fit activity into irrespective of how stupid that framework is. It won't kill me and I'm measuring my progress pretty closely to see if it's something works for me.

Cutting down cardio and doing gym work again has been fun but a bit painful. Cycling's given me a good base level fitness but there's a shit load of muscles I haven't been using that have taken a bit of a battering in the weight room. Basically it's given me horrible arse DOMS. That'll soon go.

Day #5 right now and your initial Carb Nite is supposed to be on Day #10. Having not eaten carbs in any meaningful way for a couple of years now this is going to be an interesting experience. Not sure what I'll choose for that evening yet either but I'm pretty sure that there'll be a Twix on the menu :D

Flipping Ada

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Doh!

Had this happen over the weekend, the crank arm fell off mid ride. It's looking very much that the holding pins at the top weren't properly fixed during a service a few weeks back :( There's a narrow band of torque advised for attaching the crank arm; too tight and the pins can shear off under strain and too lose it'll just fall off. I suspect they've tightened it by hand rather than use a torque wrench.

Luckily it happened pootling down an unbusy cyclepath on a Saturday morning rather than on some of the excessively hard / fast runs I'd done the previous week. And there was a cab office just around the corner that got me home safely. The guy at the local bike shop was really apologetic and I'm glad it didn't turn into an argument about who's responsibility this was.

After having a bit of a read around about different crank sets I've ditched the FSA Gossamer and ordered a nicer Shimano CX specific one.

So basically I'm an idiot. Something vital falls off my bike because of a less than perfect service and I show them what's what by shelling out a load more money upgrading the thing they broke.

GNNNNNNG.

Back In Black

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Horrendous weather for cycling last night but I got my cyclocross bike back from Spokes after being serviced.

It's been out of action for a few months so I've been on the racer for a while. It's been an interesting time; I've significantly up my mileage and that extra riding has improved my speed. And it turns out that's also given some perspective to really appreciate the CX.

Turns out it's a cracking bike. There's a load of differences (weight, geometry, ride comfort, disc brakes) but what stands out most is a feeling a lot more of my pedal effort is getting transferred into going a bit faster. It just feels really responsive at times when the Trek can be a bit sloggy.

The frame geometry means I'm nearer to the ground and maybe that's increasing the feeling of speed and acceleration. It's hard to objectively compare it to the Trek on the basis of one run last night in a near gale but 52 minutes for the trip home isn't disgraceful even in sunnier conditions.

Maybe it's just that a change is as good a rest but whatever the reason and despite arriving home drenched and cold it was with a massive grin all over my face.

Going to try for Arbroath and back before getting into work this morning.

N+1

So here's the worse thing. I'm now convinced I need an N+1, a carbon framed road bike with a better groupset :D With winter bearing in there's no point even considering getting something until the weather gets better but I'm going to start looking. Might have my eyes on some of the new, cheaper brands of power meters starting to hit the market.

Back To Montrose

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Great cycling weekend all in all and appropriate for a little reflection on where I've got to. Best indication was Sunday's 98km round trip to Montrose, back via Dundee. It's a route I've done once before but utterly wrecked me, I remember being wobbly legged for the rest of the day and completely good for nothing.

Sunday's ride was different; I tried hard but ended feeling chipper and had a relatively active remainder of the day (including a really nice trip to the Monifieth playpark with Suzie ans Charlie). Managed a small speed increase in weather conditions a bit more challenging than the balmy July day on the original run (28.4km/h vs 27.9km/h) :)

And I'd done a 75km run the day before as well. So all in all a little bit of a step up and also my longest distance in a week.

Pretty happy but I need to get a bit faster. 100km @ 30km/h average sounds like a good goal though I think that may have to wait until next year. The Scottish weather's starting to get a lot more Scottish as we move towards winter.

Fun Stuff

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That was an early morning start with a pleasant surprise :) I'm slowly easing back into regular running and the current plan is to try every other day with a minimum of 30 minutes a session. The order of the day is to pace sensibly, slowly re-build my skills and avoid any injury like the plague.

So today I kept to the plan but counter to expectations my pace wasn't an utter disgrace. 5:16 minutes per km. That's not too bad for me and a good base to build from.

Felt pretty good after finishing. It's half a minute faster than last weeks first run back but unlike then my legs aren't completely fucked. Honestly I was hobbling about like an octegenarian for a couple of days after that :D But today was good, so good I rode in instead of going with original plan to bus to work. Ace!

And best of all? It was a lovely day again; sun was just up, crisp but cold and the Tay looked magnificent. Next run Thursday. There's snow forecast but that don't scare me :)

Blowing Out The Cobwebs

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After getting into running last year and hitting some real highs I've drifted out of it a bit recently. So I'm currently trying to get back into it with the ultimate aim of hitting < 50m 10k and 22:30 5km by the end of the year. It's tricky these days as I need to balance that with a new found love, riding my bike.

This is Week Zero, what have I learned?

  • I need a plan
  • Run Slow
  • I love doing this
  • Conclusions

I Need A Plan

I think a lot of people pride themselves on their self determination and individuality. We're masters of our destiny and no one is going to tell us what to do right?

Truth is the majority of us need structure and being told what to do even and for running that's certainly the case for me. I had a bit of abortive attempt to rekindle my running passion a month back but ultimately it didn't stuck.

Knowing I'm sucker for being told what to do this I selected a run for fat loss training programme from Runkeeper. I've lost a lot of weight in the last year and if I don't really need to lose a load of fat at this point however there's only a few plans on RK and of all of these this one most fitted a classic running training plan split between steady running, intervals, tempo and long slow runs.

Previously I've been an idiot and just run at the best pace I could every outing. Everything I've read about running has been quite emphatic that you'll achieve more over time with a more varied approach. So that's what I'm doing.

The commitment I've made (though really light, basically I've promised a web site I'll run regularly for 8 weeks) has worked pretty well. I've done every run and one extra on top. It's a big step up from the fallow last few months of all cycling and feck all running :)

Run Slow

Well. Run slower than you can, I'm in now way pretending my top pace is anything I can claim to be fast but a big portion of the plan I'm on is running at 70% heart rate max. What's that? Basically running at a pace that you're not out of breath and have a bit of chat without huffing and puffing.

What pace is that? There's some online calculators and they seem to agree given my recent 5km times it should likely be somewhere around the 6:20 mins per km mark. I tried this. It was really hard to do. It just felt embarrassing. So I've sped up a bit but been careful to keep an eye on how I'm feeling and slow down at even the slightest hint of weariness.

It's all new but I think I've managed to get there.

So over the week what's been cool is I've seen my run pace increase for similar amounts of effort. It seems to be working. I'm not close to pace I'd got at peak last year but it's good to say some of that level of running fitness come back over the last week. Last night in particular felt amazing so yeah that leads onto:

I Love Doing This

By around 7pm I had a stinking headache, was in a pretty foul mood and generally didn't feel great. It would have been really easy to not go out and honestly didn't feel like it in the slightest but because of the commitment I'd made to a website (I know) I dragged myself out.

And it was pretty amazing. Got a real groove going on and felt my form snap nicely into place near the end with effort going down while speeding up a bit. Big grin while getting back to the car, mood completely lifted and no more headache.

On top of that I was pretty refreshed managing to keep well within the bounds of effort the plan called for and ended up with a 5:41 min per km pace over 35 minutes including a slower 5 minute warm up. It was pretty windy too.

My first and start of the week run was stupidly at full on pace, left me knackered and was slower at 5:44. Nice seeing this improvement in a short time and brilliant to be enjoying it so much.

Conclusion

So far so good is probably the best summary :) The running has been a lot of fun and despite concerns previously it's not been a stretch to balance that with my cycling. On top of the 25km or so on my feet I've managed to clock off nearly 250km on the bike at some of my best times.

I'll do another update next Sunday and it might be a different story. It's been all easy runs so far, next week there's intervals and tempo runs too. But I'm optimistic and kind of looking forward to it. We'll see how I do.

Running

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image

Yesterday I went out for a run, it was really nice, down by the Tay. Bright brisk day, bracing but ultimately exhilarating. I'd not done that for a while and it felt strangely familiar. Struck me that was where I'd run my first probably about a year ago.

So I checked Runkeeper and yeah, today is the one year anniversary of my first run. Ever.

It's weird looking back as right now I don't feel too great about my form having laid off running in favor of cycling the last few months. But even so I've just knocked out a 26.5m celebratory 5km. My first run was 33m and and for a paltry 3.7km :) Look at it here:

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The idea of running 5km under 30m a year ago would have just been science fiction. But since then I've run 921km, a duration of 86 hours in total! That's two working weeks. Crikey. Personal highlight is getting just over 50 minute 10km at the very hilly Bupa Edinburgh Run.

image

I've been remarkably lucky not to have picked up any injuries beyond tight calves and the odd bit of cramp from time to time. Atypically for me I actually planned a bit before starting and got some decent kit. I'm convinced going the minimalist trainer route has helped me avoid the usual damage new runners are prone to do to themselves.

It's not all been a bed of roses, I've really enjoyed cycling lately and that's seen my running trail off quite a bit. But overall I'm doing more cardio than ever and it's the running that's started that and something I'm very thankful for.

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yellow: walking green: running reddish: cycling

So have I learned anything? Hell yeah, bullet list a go-go

  • Starting is the hardest thing That kind of applies to all aspects of running, well for me anyway. Beginning at all was completely daunting. Even once that hurdle is clambered over it's a repeating pattern that rears it head every time before I go out. If you push yourself it's kind of hard work and the it's that memory that can come to the fore when you're trying to psych yourself up to go out. But!
  • Running, it's awesome! And it is! Post every run I've been completely exhilarated, often in complete proportion to the reluctance to get going in the first place. Rained on, snowed on, frozen by bitter wind? Those things? For me they're THE THINGS that slap a great big grin on my face.
  • You can do it! Probably. I mean you need legs and a fitness level that means you can use them but the barrier to entry is far lower than I ever suspected. Couch To Five K (C25K) is the way I got in, easy to start with but coaxes you along a path that'll get your running 5km straight within 6 weeks. Very simple, brilliantly structured.
  • The Stuff You've Decided You Don't Like? You might actually like. You might actually love it. The only standpoint with any credibility is one that speaks from experience. I mean I spent years slagging off Avocados without trying them. I have no idea why but this up-swell in physical activity over the last year has me scoffing them down like there's no tomorrow. And just over a year ago the idea of running was utterly repellent. Turned out it's now an important part of my life. This last point is a bit muddled. Just eat more avocados I suppose.

Have I done as well as I'd liked? No, I really wanted a sub 50m 10km and 22 something 5km. After some time off I'm quite a way away from hitting those goals but that's still possible, yeah? This morning's run, realizing I'm at an anniversary and writing this has given me a bit of spur. Maybe sometime this year :)]]>
running

My Legs, They're Giving Me Evils

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Man my legs are calling me an idiot. What was good was I went for a run on Saturday. Not a long one, just 5km on a local course up and down some of the not so gentle hills of Monifieth and came in around 27m. Which isn't all that terrible given the lack of running so far this year but kind of disappointing how much your form will just ebb away if you don't tend to it by keeping a hand in. Or a foot in. Or whatever.

It was hard though and left me a little wheezy though definitely exhilarated. That exhilaration is what I blame for the decision to celebrate with a 45km bike ride to Arbroath and back. And it was ludicrously windy, an hour and 11m to get there, around 20m slower than my normal pace. It cuts both ways and wind propelled return journey was stupidly fast. I even got a NUMBER ONE SPOT in a pretty hefty Strava Leaderboard.

Is that fair? No :D But I like it. Today not so much, my legs are very achey. There's a still a touch of sting from last week's accident to top it off nicely. Cycling in today was pretty hard, lots of snow and leaden limbs. But again, once in I was pretty exhilarated. Just hope that doesn't spur me on to more stupidery :)

But yeah, the takeaway is really I need to run more. I'm currently trying to do 500km cycling this month and balancing that with more running is tricky but ultimately worth it. I get a buzz from running that's quite amazing, it's good for me and I'd like to keep the form I worked hard to gain last year. Thinking of trying the David Lloyd Running Club that meets up on Tues / Wednesdays.

References

saturdayrun todaysride barry2monifieth bangcrashwallop

So what did I learn today?

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Arbroath is further away than it looks on the map

Managed to clock > 50km in a day cycling (Ride 1, Ride 2 and Ride 3 ) for the first time today. A small 5km in the morning coupled with a 45km round trip cycle to Arbroath. The intention had been to to cycle there, coffee shop code for a bit and then come back. That'd have worked fine if I wasn't the sort of idiot who leaves the keys for their bike lock at home. So after 5 minutes of cursing I just cycled straight back.

Must admit I'm still enjoying this, only started in earnest 4 weeks ago but I've now built to a pretty solid with daily commute round trip of 20km per day coupled with a longer run at the weekend. I can feel my legs getting and times creeping up. The ride today ended with the longish climb up Grange Road and the big surprise? It was my quickest time so yet :) A jump to sixth in the segment leader board. In your face Vicki Maclean! :D

Cross Domain AJAX Calls - Empty Calorie Learning

I know about this sort of thing now and kind of wish I didn't. After quick change in how I'm organising my home project I hit a bit of a brick wall with this nonsense. Basically if your page is served to your browser from machine A then your web client can't make an AJAX request to a different domain.

Only it can through the horrid bodge that is JSONP which I got working. But then you find out all requests have to be PUT which breaks the idea of using http verbs to implement a [RESTful interface][REST. So I binned that and have ended up using OSXs built in install of Apache as a proxy to the game that all IO is done through.

And this is great as I'm not getting a better level of separation between my game app and the browser editor client with game only have to handle the REST api. Only the other thing I learned is Apple removed easy access to the Apache server they bundled and in turn had to learn a load of rubbishy rubbish on re-enabling it again and then how to set it up as a proxy.

Also I learnt some stuff about manipulating headers in Apache to allow CORS and also setting Chrome up so it won't moan about trying to do this kind of thing.

And did that move my home project along? No. Gnnnng. It's a shame in some ways, I had a fair bit of energy this weekend, used it up and don't have a lot to show for it development wise.

But On The Plus Side

There's always days like this I suppose and I did learn some a few awesome things. Had a brief look at various bits of JS middleware out there. This thing? it's an excellent thing! I want to eventually have some live shader editing and this will be perfect for it. KickJS already does that kind of thing and it works really well.

As the JS code I'm writing gets beyond a few hundred lines it's apparent some structure and organisation that the language doesn't naturally support. The way different bits of Javascript can know about each other is by polluting the global namespace with a a load of mess. There's a few formalised approaches to packaging things up which I found after playing about with my own solution. It was interesting reading about these, I'll likely go for CommonJS or RequireJS not sure which yet. In turn lead me to an introduction of the upcoming Harmony and tangentially about the imminent Coffeescript 2 release and its exciting Kickstarter journey.

I learnt a bit more about nice development environments for Coffescript and Javascript. After experimenting with have Guard auto compile things for me last week I'm now using Cake (yes, every language seems to have their own build environment, there was make, Ruby's rake so there's also cake of course for Coffeescript) after wholesale ripping off the really pleasant setup in this lovely demo app of Coffee Physics. It's so cool all of this stuff is easily available as source and so easy to learn from. So much great stuff out, just found a port of bullet to JS!

Actually when you write it down, on top of the cross domain nonsense I learnt a lot of good stuff. Not so bad then.

I Learnt I Don't Like Old Naked Men Commenting On The Fancyness of My Goggles

Went for a bit of swimming with Suzey and the boy at the local gym. Which was ace. Charlie's really come along and close to swimming completely solo. Right now he's just got a float to help him along but he's kicking away in the water and putting his head under with a boat load more confidence and verve that the last time we went.

In the changing room after a naked old man looked at my googles and said they were 'fancy'. And I really didn't like it.

References

Strava ride 1 Strava ride 2 Strava ride 3 Up Grange Road leaderboard JSONP Cross Domain AJAX Module Approaches Common Js Require JS Harmony Cake make rake Coffeescript 2 Coffee Physics KickJS Ace Code Editor Coffeescript2 Kickstater JSBullet CORS Chrome CORS Lion Apache REST