DOMS Rule One: If it’s hurt you then do some more

That walk in Guernsey has taken its toll. I haven’t really pushed myself very hard at all since the Wight Challenge and perhaps Wednesday was a bit too much for both of us at the moment. I spoke to the family’s budding sports physiotherapist and he immediately diagnosed Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which is the pain and stiffness felt in muscles several hours to days after unaccustomed or strenuous exercise. You learn something new every day, though everything he said made perfect sense. Soreness is often worse a couple of days after exercise and my calves are painful today, that is for sure.

Counterintuitively, continued exercise may temporarily suppress the soreness. Apparently, exercise increases pain thresholds and pain tolerance and this effect, called exercise-induced analgesia, is known to occur in endurance training. I guess that’s why I never felt so bad during the very long walk last year. So in a bid to treat ourselves, Pammy and I went for a very gentle 4 mile stroll and I think we both felt better for it. However, as soon as I sit down for more than five minutes, it hurts for a few seconds on getting up. I think Pammy feels the same.

I managed to put on just one pound during the cruise, which counts as a pretty good effort over five days. Some of the cruise literature encouraged exercise, citing that an average of a pound a day can typically be gained when inactive on cruises. We have a 14 day Mediterranean cruise in September so we’d better watch out for that one. I am comforting myself that that single pound might well be muscle built from Wednesday’s walk – Monday’s Belgian effort was pretty run of the mill. So now it’s back to normal for a while, continued restraint on some foods and perhaps a walk on Sunday, weather permitting.

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Venturaing into Guernsey

Have been looking forward immensely to Wednesday and the day in Guernsey. The day arrived in beautiful sunshine, so much so that I have some sunburn on my arms. Before you say anything, it only takes a whiff of sun to have me don a cap or sometimes even more substantial headgear, especially at cricket.

The good ship Ventura is too large (3,192 passenger capacity) to rock at the capital St Peter Port, so it docked some way out to sea where was a shuttle boat into the harbour. Yes, our ship is that small looking object in the sea!

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We had always planned to do a decent walk today and had some good advice to head south and west around the island. After climbing 82 steps (yes, we did count them) leaving the town, we found some lovely paths paved with various flora and fauna: look at this beauty……

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and a couple of hours in, we took the 231 (not 230 as in our Guernsey Self-Guide book) steps to Jerbourg Point. Pammy and I both fancied some refreshment and had a decent sized pot of tea and an decenter sized banana and fudge muffin, all for £4, receiving something I hadn’t seen for years, a pound note, in my change. A Guernsey pound note, it must be said. The currency is UK sterling but with some home-styled notes, that no doubt would be impossible to part with in any shop back on English home soil.

The terrain was challenging but became easier after the break, though continually punctuated by sets of steps, both up and down, that tested the knees and Achilles in particular. But it was all worth it for some fantastic scenery. Everyone who followed this blog during the long walk (and bought the calendar) knows my love of water in pictures. I was not to be disappointed.

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Unfortunately the day couldn’t last for ever. Last shuttle boat trip was due 5:30 and we were aiming to get back for 4:30 to be safe. We passed Saints Bay without mentioning you know what and reached Icart Point, which is at about the midpoint of the south coast. Venturing northward on paths, eventually finding houses and life, we asked three local ladies where a bus could be caught. Two had no idea, having apparently “not been on a bus for years”, but one directed us to a bus stop about five minutes away. No bus stop post, but the letters B U S painted on the road. The bus was precisely on time and took us to the bus terminus just a couple of minutes walk from the shuttle boat stop.

Quite tired from today’s walk. Certainly testing. Not sure of the distance but it was about five and a half hours walking. Very very enjoyable indeed.

Belgian pun

Monday: Off cruising again, just for a short one and two stops. First up today is Zeebrugge and a familiar walk for us through the paths to Blankenberge. We also walked along the familiar promenade and part-beach, so that I had to take my running shoes off to empty them of sand.

We stopped off for a quick and quite lovely cup of tea, amazed as always by the linguistic gymnastics of some of our European friends who can switch from English to German to French to another tongue that might well have been Flemish, all in the space of four short conversations with customers.

An interesting monument on the sea front here, showing a woman and child tugging the flag of two soldiers. This was opened in 1900, stolen by the Germans during World War I and repatriated to the town in 1922.

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We walked down toward the town centre, past a seemingly endless row of cafes and bars, until reaching a pleasant garden with a small crazy golf course. Past there was something I have never seen before, crazy snooker!

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Well I never. Belgium is not known for its snooker excellence, and one wonders of the possible economic benefits of introducing this to England. If anyone is aware of one of these in England, I would be fascinated to see it, and wonder at how it had no doubt been vandalised beyond repair by ignorant youth.

Next up was the Church of St Roch:

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Beautiful inside too, though spoilt by so many opportunities for us to part with our money. Rather unchurch like – one collection box would have been sufficient.

End of the photos for today, guys, I am sure you wouldn’t have wanted any of me inspecting my feet at the end of the walk, something like 10-11 miles, after another grapple with sand grains creeping into all those old blisters and cracks. A day at sea tomorrow and then Guernsey on Wednesday.

By the way, there is no further pun than the title of the post. So sorry about that. You just can’t have your cake and eat it. Boom boom.

Pre-cruise muse and weight update

Amazing what a bit of restraint and self-control can do, and the scales this morning show a loss of four pounds in just under two weeks. It also feels quite sustainable, just eating less bread, less cheese and only a small amount of dark chocolate. Barely having anything between meals and it is nice to get to mealtimes feeling like I need food (as well as wanting it). Also the odd brisk walk, as well as those long ones, feel good, especially before a meal. You might already know that Pammy and I walked for just over 43 minutes on Tuesday and yesterday took almost 5 minutes off that same route (38 minutes 25 seconds). That did feel ‘brisk’, especially the final part up Sarisbury Hill.

The goal for this next week is to weigh no more than I do at the moment. Short cruise tomorrow and back home on Thursday, and those of you who have been on cruises will know that there is unlimited food just everywhere on cruise ships, inclusive in the price. Of course, to offset any additional calorific intake, we will go walking on our stops in Belgium and Guernsey, the latter a place I have never visited, and which is a mere 30 square miles in area. In my head, without the aid of either a calculator or a safety net, if Guernsey were circular, and it isn’t, a walk around the perimeter would be in the region of 18-20 miles, not out of the question for us. But there appear to be lots of inlets and strange shapes and the road doesn’t stretch right to the edge so, basically, I haven’t got a clue. We will find a decent walk to do, I’m sure.

Made the decision to definitely do another ultra challenge next year. No doubt about that. Any takers to walk with me on Grand Union Canal Challenge? Likely to be in June 2016, around 100km, through the night into Sunday, and you get to hear a string of stories, jokes, confessions and lots lots more. Not holding my breath, never a good idea in any case to do that for too long!

Tolstoy can sleep easy…

Not going to be War and Peace, this post. Health, fitness and fat loss drive appears to be going OK. Very little chocolate or cheese eaten in the last week, still some bread, but less than I would usually have. Plenty of fruit. No lifts taken, 22 flights of stairs yesterday (22 up, 22 down) and 11 today at work. 43 minute brisk walk with Pammy after work – Holly Hill, past Linvoy MBE’s house, down to the marina, up the river and Sarisbury Hill. Sun, rain, hail. Beans on toast when we got back. Doesn’t take too much food just after exercise to feel full.

Not going to weigh myself yet but I feel the trousers loosening……slightly…….

Poisson outlier in today’s walk

It is hard to keep up the motivation when there is no event or challenge in the pipeline, but I feel I need to keep ticking over during the summer, with probably one walk per week. Sunday looks like the day of choice and it was a promising weather forecast this morning. Despite that, it did cloud over for a while but towards mid-afternoon it became a beautiful early summer’s afternoon. That affirmed my choice of just a thin base layer and a hoodie and it was really very pleasant indeed.

The walk had an end of season feel to it, with end of season footie on the radio too. Typical of that, it was no more than a steady paced walk at best, sometimes just a stroll through the streets, and a bizarre number of people honking their horns to say hello to me. I can often go weeks without anyone greeting me (though sometimes later people tell me they saw me) but this felt almost like that lap of honour – or ‘lap of appreciation’ as it appears to be now termed – that the players do at the last home game of the season. Of course, that sounds incredibly arrogant and self-centred, and it was mere coincidence. The numbers of people seeing me should be Poisson distributed**, I would have thought, except that there are many other factors playing a part – the route, the weather, the time and basically the mood of the viewer (whether they feel like greeting me or not!) – and so estimation of the λ parameter is not straightforward here.

** If you are really interested in this, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poisson_distribution. Ok, I thought not….

15.5 miles in total, and no great exertions. Feet a trifle sore, but that was down to me trying out some different inner socks. At least my toe appears to be returning to its normal skin tone. By the way, many thanks for those who have sponsored me, some through https://www.justgiving.com/Keith-Spicer2/ and some on sponsor forms. I haven’t exactly been aggressive in chasing for sponsors, because I felt that I harangued and sold myself so much last year (when over £11,000 was donated to SANDS, whose home page is http://www.uk-sands.org/) that I couldn’t really ask for too much more! Anyway, I only have two more weeks to get all the sponsorship money to the charity, so if you do want to donate, despite my failure to make it all the way round, you need to visit my just giving site, hunt down my sponsor form at work (Room 2400 near the printers) or see me before next Sunday, when I go away on a short break. At least I have raised enough under the conditions of entry to the Isle of Wight Challenge event, but any more would of course be very welcome. God bless you all.

Chewing the fat

It is difficult sometimes to know how open to be on social media. It was tremendously helpful and invigorating to blog about depression a couple of years ago and many others clearly felt an empathy, judging by responses and conversations at later times. I even got a few hugs. Turning to another page, I haven’t felt quite as good about myself in the last three months or so and I have known why. I just haven’t thought about doing anything about it, except thinking that walking long distances would be the cure.

Actually, they haven’t been, even the 50 miles in that fateful challenge ten days ago. To keep one’s weight down is a struggle once you get past about 35 as the metabolism slows and you really need to make an effort. Burning calories with walking has only done me so much good in that respect. I did come back from John O’Groats a really trim figure, or at least as trim as I had been for a few years. I was still weighing 13 stone but there was plenty of muscle. But now the time has come to do something diet-wise and not a fad diet. I keep pretending to myself that my trousers have shrunk but I did weigh myself for the first time for months yesterday. Even then, I made the excuse that it was the evening, after tea and I had clothes on, but 14 stone 10 is a bit much nevertheless. The heaviest I had ever been, I think. Not really really overweight (BMI of 27, and Redgrave and Pinsent both had BMIs of about 33 when they were really at their peak so what does that tell you?) but better to do something now. Bread, cheese, chocolate – I know the vices.

So until further notice, healthier eating, no more than one coffee a day, no bread outside mealtime (bread is my real enemy) and even then keep it to a minimum, and cut down cheese and chocolate by about 50%. No crisps. Picking between meals – ah, that’s me, must try to cut that out. And I know that a short period of high intensity exercise actually does as much, if not more, good than a long period of lower intensity. No more taking the lift at work. I once worked on the 13th floor at Apollo House, Croydon – Apollo 13 if you like – and took the stairs only twice in 18 months, but now I am on the 4th floor at work, so it has to be the stairs, every time. I will make a deal from today that I will give a fiver to anyone who sees me take the lift at work (or who sees me eat crisps – at cricket is the most likely!) until further notice. I took the stairs five times today – so that’s 20 floors worth – that has to be good for you. I had a reasonable excuse after the long walk that my knees were aching and vulnerable but that’s not the case now.

So that’s it. Keep up the walking, perhaps a gym session here and there, take the stairs but most of all eat better. How else am I going to do it?