A Racing the Reaper Man Year: February 2021

I started February with the echoes of a dry January filling my ears. I realised that, in being true to my aim – showing people what may be possible and reporting how I felt – I needed to take stock. Well, my whole body has changed, including the way my mind works. Initially I thought of alcohol a lot, especially my very favourite combination of a perfect day. Saturday: do a long run of 10+ miles, then buy a large haddock and large chips from my local chippy (superb by the way) and a good bottle of Malbec. Eat with mayonnaise. 2070kcal of bliss. The habit and action had become a mental totem I could barely resist. Yet, resist I did. By the third week in January I was no longer feeling deprived. By February, I no longer drooled at the thought of booze.

Icy February running by Two Mile Oak

It took a month for my body to adjust to being without what I used to habitually put into it. And here was a stumbling block – a month did not denote success. It marked a single step to adjusting to my reset way of life. I made the logical decision to keep up the no drinking for another month, and to refine my eating habits. I now grazed through the day, eating the very healthiest, unprocessed food where possible. The result was I was seldom hungry and never went above a balance of 1600kcal a day. It was relatively simple. The main link I had broken, I have come to realise, is that between eating for the simple joy of good nourishment, and stuffing ‘bliss-point’ treats into my face without thought. I had stopped being a self-satisfying pig, put simply. The bonus of looking carefully at food, is my cooking skills in plant-based recipes have improved remarkably. I now ‘see’ food, rather than just grab for a taste bomb. I have come to realise that the only pleasure I had shoving junk in, was just that… after there was no pleasure. Now I’m not bloated, and I’m even starting to notice my body ‘asking’ for specific food. If I crave for a slice of bread with olive oil and tomato, it seems to come from a need for that type of nutrition. I’ve experienced this on mountains where the craving for fat is obvious. This is something I will examine as I go forward. Interesting.

My new diet is not boring

At the start of the month I was called in for my first Covid-19 Pfizer vaccination. Two days later I was extremely tired on a 2-mile run, and coincidentally developed a boil on my back for which I needed antibiotics. I did short runs for the rest of that week, but by the weekend was fine. 

I ran every day of February as well, totting up 102 miles, with long runs of: 1 x 11 miles; 2 x 12 miles; and a glorious 13 miler up onto the South Downs. At 64, I’ve learned that shorter runs of 1 and 2 miles are very important for recovery after long runs. Recovery takes longer and getting injuries is easier. It is a fine balance. I hope that this experimental year finds me on the safer side of that line. The core work I do is a great help – I can feel that already. There are early indications that a layer of fat has been stripped from my legs, as my muscle definition has surprised me.

February running at Bosham

How did I fare in February?

  • Age 64
  • Weight: 12st 8lbs (176lbs/80kg) – down another 6lbs/2.8kg (11lbs/5kg in total)
  • BMI: Down from 27.6 to 26.0
  • Avg kcal/day = 1403

My Personal trainer, Martin Sorenson, decided to make me the main focus of his MSc work, so during the month we firmed up our plans to square with his project. So, I will continue to do weekly core training, but geared towards a weigh goal of 12st 4lbs (172lbs/78kg) by the end of April. We have set a 50k time trial for May 1st with a target time between 6 hours and 6 hours 13 minutes. These goals will show how well the diet, training and strength work affects my running. (In addition, I finally caved in an purchased a smart watch to give me easier access to running statistics, freedom to run adjusted routes and see distance covered and a whole series of health monitoring readings. I chose the Garmin Forerunner 45, which turns out to suit me just fine.)

Martin Sorenson PT, my trainer for a sub 6 hour 50k

The hardest day was a Fitness VO2 Max test on 26th: 1.5 miles at 8 min/mile pace, 25 pushups and 35 pull ups. It showed 43 – my fitness age was 28. Average heart Rate at rest 49.

So, February was a month of consolidation where the reset of January became more of an ingrained habit. The main take away is, I’m enjoying running much more.

All website content ©Paul Comerford, author, unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.