Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Where's my mojo?

This week I got back into the stride of running after taking a four day break. On Saturday the weather was great, a hot summer day (although a little windy). I had lunch with my brother and his wife (Satpal & Parm) and then we watched the Nissan Qasqui Challenge (Mountain Biking Freeride competition) by the Tate Modern (art museum) in London.

Mountain Biking - without mountains or fear!!!

Look Ma! No hands!!!

Urm look Ma! No bike!!!!

It was a nice change from running - I do miss the mountain biking. Hopefully I'll get to do a couple of days in Vail after the TRR with Satpal, since Satpal and Parm will be coming to Colorado to cheer us on at the finish line. Currently though I have to contend myself with looking at bike magazines as I cannot take the risk of injuring myself through a mountain bike crash (I'm not very safe and steady!!!).

We were supposed to run on Monday (bank holiday here in the UK) but it rained bucket loads. I do enjoy running in the rain, but I find it difficult to motivate myself to go out if it's raining from the off. It was a pretty grim day - more like November than May so we took the time to do sort out our finances. The course Jo had been on for the past four days was Wealth Mastery designed by Anthony Robbins. Jo and I have always been pretty poor at organising our finances, and we spend money like it's going out of fashion :( But after the course Jo came home with a new found determination to get the house in order and, maybe for once, for us to live within our means. So it was a pretty constructive day - but once you sit down and write down the numbers you are amazed at how much running costs you, over the year (especially when you take into account event entry fees). I suspect running supplies are considerably cheaper in the USA but as per usual we do get ripped off here in the UK with most running tops and shorts costing $50 each and trainers costing in the region of $130 a all adds up :(

I've kind of started a running club at work - running on Tuesday and Thursday lunchtimes (probably why I felt I'd overdone it!). Anyway, I found none of the gang were around to run on Tuesday so decided to do a long run on my own. I decided to do a 12km loop, via the Regent's Canal, Limehouse, St Katharine Docks (home) and then back to Bishopsgate by Liverpool Street Station (work). I felt great almost immediately into the run. For once I was running with my iPod on and the shuffle was picking some great tunes. I did run a little fast, as per my usual "struggling to control my pace when running on my own" pace, but it was nice to shake off the cobwebs. Also it was a bit hot - especially since I had judged the weather by the previous day's grimness and gone running with an extra layer. Anyway, not much to tell regarding the run, but there was an incident which still bugs me....

As I was running along the canal I saw a man (probably about 65-70 years old) minding his own business, sitting by the canal and having a sandwich. As I was approaching the man ahead of me was a group of about 5 schools kids (it's half-term holidays at the moment) ranging in age from about 13 to 16. Most of the kids were pretty big but there was one small weed of a kid, and he approached the old guy from behind (unnoticed) and gave him a light but pretty disrespectful slap on the back of his head. The guy looked pretty shocked, and so was I.

The news in London these days is dominated by the yob culture in our youth today. Stabbings in London are becoming more and more common. It seems to be a common theme - kids torment society, someone stick up for themselves or others and then they are either kicked or stabbed to death. Sometimes gangs go on the rampage just so they can film it on their mobiles and laugh about it later. The police seem to be powerless to do anything about it (until there's an actual death involved) - they catch the yobs, send them to the courts and the courts slap their wrist and send them back out (to brag to their friends about how they beat the system).

Apart from giving the kid a pretty disgusted look I did nothing. In that moment I weighed up the situation and decided it was in my (and the man's) interest if I did not escalate the incident by confronting the evil brat. Also, I suspect, it's part of the British upbringing which encourages us to mind our own business. I should have at the very least told the kid off. No doubt part of it was fear, in case the kids carried knives. Although the news is littered with stories of people doing the right thing just before being beaten or stabbed to death I think, with hindsight, I think I made the wrong decision. Fear and conditioning are not an excuse - I should have confronted the yob. It may not have achieved anything but it would have been the right thing to do. We're all worm food at the end of the day - we enter the world with innocence and can only leave it with pride, so I think it's important to do the right thing irrespective of the consequences.

At the very least I should have asked the guy if he was okay - if anything it would have put him at ease.

Also, as Jo pointed out (when we discussed it later that day) I am a pretty big guy. I often "forget" how large and intimidating I can be. I wasn't particularly large as a kid - I shot up in height at the age of about sixteen. I've also been pretty skinny, until after I was 25 when work took over and I stopped playing tennis and football - then I got considerably heavier. Then over the years in my battle to get fit I piled on muscle rather than losing fat. I think the first time I ever realised I was "big" was when playing football one of the very large defenders on my team referred to me as "the big guy" - up until then I had always considered myself to be the skinny winger!! Doh!

Anyway - so there you have it...hopefully it wont happen again, but if something similar happens again then I'm committing myself to a different action next time.

Moving on, Jo and I ran on Wednesday morning. It's usually our 21km run before work, but we've decided it's too much. Doing a half-marathon before work was initially a confidence booster but now it's just wearing us out (especially getting up at 5am), so we've reverted back to doing 15km instead. We still found it hard though - it did make me wonder when would I get my running mojo back.

On Thursday morning Jo and I were pretty tired, but scheduled to run 12km at a hard (DPT) pace. I even gave Jo and opt-out; "We can run tomorrow instead", but we were up and awake by then so she wasn't about to cop out :(

In the end it was a great run, the pace was consistently fast and afterwards, after the run, I felt really great. Now that I've found my running mojo I'm looking forward to this weekend's runs....think Saturday is going to be a mammoth run ;)

Going forward, things begin to get a little harder from next week. We enter the "Strength & Pace Training" phase. Basically we step up to six runs a week (from five currently) which isn't so bad since we have had the odd week where we have had only one rest day already. The hard part is the fact that we will start doing interval training (to build strength and pace), but we've got to this point gradually. We've had over 15 weeks of training to get here and I'm not so worried/scared of intervals - I might even be looking forward to them!

We're not bothered about our pace, but if we improve our pace and strength then hopefully we've be able to overcome the things we cannot train for effectively here in London, the terrain (i.e. inclines) and the altitude.

As George pointed out though, in his comment recently, it's the miles under our feet that matter, the adrenaline will help with the rest when it comes to the actual event. So if we find the intervals and the high intensity runs are wrecking us then we'll just have a rethink and get back to slow long runs.

With regard to the altitude, sometime ago I did mention we were getting an altitude/mountain air generator; a hypoxic trainer. I know it seems a bit of an overkill - but my eyes always light-up when I discover a new training gadget/aid. I remember I started using a Polar HR Monitor back in the early 1990s, well before most people in the UK had even heard of them - I remember most of my 5-a-side football crowd looking at me like I had grown a 2nd head. I like to think I'm a bit of a trendsetter, so maybe in years to come these hypoxic trainers will be as common as heart rate trainers ;)

Well, anyway, we've been using the hypoxic trainer for almost three weeks now. Initially the aim was to sleep in an altitude tent. The problem with that was that Higher Peak cannot supply the "tent", the patent is held by a company called Hypoxio. I thought I'd get the hypoxic trainer from Higher Peak (as it worked out about $3000 shipped into the UK compared to the $8000 for the Hypoxio trainers - it's exactly the same hardware!!) and then get the "tent" from Hypoxio. Hypoxio, however, refuse to sell the "tent" to anyone who doesn't have one of their trainers. They even claimed any altitude generator I may have purchased from anyone else was a "pirate" and effectively "stolen property" - personally I think charging $8000 for something, when others supply it for $3000, is day-light robbery.

Portable mountain anyone?

Anyway - I tried making a "tent" myself (they don't have to be air-tight), but we found it got a bit hot sleeping in an enclosed space and Jo found it a bit claustrophobic. In the end we decided to just try sleeping with the oxygen masks supplied with the trainers. It was uncomfortable initially but I think we're getting used to them now. The trainer comes with guidelines as to what altitude to set it to, basically a mini-training plan. Now we've entered week three we've set it to 9000 feet. Apparently the first four weeks are really just for acclimatisation and then we should notice the improvements (as it takes new red blood cells about 3 weeks to mature hence provide our body with the oxygen transporting improvements). Jo's pretty certain that her breathing had improved a lot recently and I'm inclined to agree. We'll know more when we start doing the interval training and we'll definitely know at the end of June when we spend a week on holiday in the Swiss Alps...

One thing I'm sure this hardware does is to work my body a little while I sleep - I think that slight gain in heart rate should translate to a bit more of a fat calorie burn. Either way I hit a big milestone in my weight loss goals yesterday, so expect a posting on my journey so far on losing weight through fat loss very soon.

Anyway, feel free to post comments on your weight loss goals as well as any information on how you hope to train for and overcome the issue of altitude. It would be nice to hear from some of our readers from around the world - especially those, who have so far remained silent, from Australia, New Zealand and mainland Europe....I know you're out there and you've been reading the blog ;)


Blogger Georgie B said...

Here's a thought.... run with pepper spray and then spray the little twit kid " By mistake " as you were testing the spray valve on your pepper sprayer.

30 May 2008 at 14:17  
Blogger Sat Sandhu said...

I like your thinking George, although I suspect I'd have a lot of explaining to do to the police:
"Sorry officer, I just accidently sprayed the pepper spray onto the brat...erm I mean the poor child"
"Is that right sir, and how did you end up emptying the whole canister onto him?"
"Erm, my finger got cramp and I just couldn't let go of the button!!!" ;)

Hope you had a great weekend.

2 June 2008 at 10:05  
Blogger J-one said...

Hi Guys!
As a female, I worry about getting caught up in any kind of incident that might result in me sustaining bodily harm! On the other hand, I don't like mean people, esp. hooligans.

One of my favorite subjects this month is the Higher Peak Mountain Air Generator. My friends and co-workers think I'm crazy--many people are forced to carry around Oxygen cannisters and I've paid good money to buy a machine that takes O2 out of the ambient air! We're still acclimating - am looking forward to the next phase. Each time we move up a notch, my morning workouts suffer. I will be running a relay up at Lake Tahoe this weekend, so we'll see if I've gotten any benefit as yet. I hope I will as my 3 legs total some 19 miles.
I'm going to try to post to my blog before I head up there on Friday.

3 June 2008 at 21:13  
Blogger Sat Sandhu said...

Hi Judy,

Yeah we get funny looks too when we mention the Mountain Air Generator!! ;)

Does take some getting used to - some days it's fine and on others it really wrecks the sleep. We're going to take next two days off from the generator - to ensure full sleep. We're started making sure we take extra supplements as recommended by Higher Peak (B, Folic and Iron).

I'm sure you'll do great running relay by Lake Tahoe - Jo and I love Lake's one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Damn - wish I was on holiday there right now ;)


4 June 2008 at 09:03  

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