A Racing the Reaper Man Year: March 2021

In March I stopped reflecting upon what I was missing when it came to my new dietary regime. I had become quite a Socratic thinker and questioned every intrenched desire, asking myself ‘Why?’ Why did specific foods seem to become treats or rewards? Why had booze become something that can control a person’s actions? Why do things that are bad for health, become something desirable? I had deciphered most of the answers during the previous few weeks, so the month of March became a proving ground for defusing dangerous subconscious programming and habits. I seemed to have broken through a very common mental blockage. All my planned adjustments were becoming a way of life and I was interested how March would pan out.

I extended my Dry January through February into March and still did not miss alcohol. The benefits of my new style of eating had been marked. I’m never hungry, am enjoying tasting new flavours and have found that knowing the nutritional values of the food I eat, helps me enjoy it even more. 

My training became more intense. Martin’s core workouts each week included 5 fast sprints, and lots of strength work, focusing on making me resilient to the needs of a 50k. Indeed, I was feeling very strong, and the most remarkable thing was I was losing my ever-present stomach. Each evening I would do shoulder exercises with light weights to strengthen and give flexibility to my recovering rotator cuff, and would add a single core workout at random. 

Magnificent mammatus clouds in March

I increased my long runs through the month with 15, 16 and 18 milers being completed over varying terrains. I was still nervous about speed, but the Garmin Forerunner 45 gave me a boost I’d not perceived at first. My resting heart-rate was between 47 & 51 bpm, and showed my VO2 Max stayed at 43, improving to 44. With such a strong heart, and with very fast recovery from effort, I had no reason to worry about my main engine being fragile. My new regime had improved all my stats, so it was also the month to start testing my speed over distance.  

Being imperial in my running measurements, I selected a 3-mile course to see if I could find a racing pace. It had been so long since I had considered speed, I had no idea what I was capable of. My last timed run was a 4:30:48 marathon in 2019, so all I knew is I could maintain 10:20 pace two years ago. My first 3 miler was 28:32 (9:32 pace) which felt hard, but my third one near the end of the month was 26:18 – 8:46 pace was quite an improvement. However, with even bigger mileage coming, I shelved time trials for the following weeks. I completed 110 miles for the month and had not missed a day’s running since 27th December 2020.

Out of the blue I was called in for my second Pfizer jab on the 28th, the after-effects of which caused me to ease down for the following few days to the end of the month.

How did I fare in March?

  • Age 64
  • Weight progression:
    • Dec 31st: 13st 5lbs
    • End Jan: 13st 0lbs
    • End Feb: 12st 8.2lbs
    • End Mar: 12st 4.8lbs
  • BMI: Down from an initial 27.6 to 25.4
  • Avg kcal/day balance = 1500
  • Tummy: Down from an initial 38” in November, to 33”.

Being my own experiment, applying my accumulated knowledge to a whole year, was starting to show big improvements to my health and fitness. I had also started to use a set of ‘Smart’ Scales that gave me a whole suite of statistics, which I’ll cover more in April’s overview. The main thing I’d noticed was my visceral fat – the fat that men store around their organs, giving the classic gut – had dropped from 13 to 12.5%. Finally, after 20 years, my tummy was shrinking! 

After three months I had never felt deprived of anything and had started to build a new confidence. Distance didn’t worry me, but I was still wary of sustained pace. Yet, I was now running every day for enjoyment, and because I could find no real excuse not to. I had yet to complete a run feeling worse than when I started. Racing the Reaper Man, as a philosophy, had yet to fail under scrutiny. April was to be my toughest month yet.

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