A Racing the Reaper Man Year: July 2021

July started with a race and ended in Shetland. I carried a drop in confidence with me from June, but stuck to a tried and tested fallback plan – just keep to my program and results will follow, even if feeling a bit flat. Work and family issues had taken its toll on my energy, but giving up is something I had stopped myself doing: it always seems to be an easy option, but the aftermath is crippling. At some point I knew my mood would lift and my body would reinvigorate my mind. It is this knowledge, that mood should never stop me exercising, indeed living, that keeps me going. It is an important key to my successful year so far and has worked for 7 months. I had discovered the link between body and mind, the Self, was a two-way street.

The body invigorates the mind

With Covid-19 restrictions, I turned up for a 5k race, on the 4th, at the classic Goodwood motor racing circuit, alone. No spectators allowed. I had run a 7:48.7 mile time trial the previous Wednesday, which was nearly 20 seconds down on my previous attempt, so I was unsure what the outcome would be. A few stretches and jogs – I had a bit of bounce! The atmosphere was infectious, so I thought I had a good chance of running well. A rolling start and I was cruising at 6:15/mile pace! Crazy, so I throttled back, relaxed and passed the mile just below 8, relaxed and settled for an 8:40, then put some effort in to clock 25:43! 08:19 pace. Once home, I found I had been first in the V60 category, so had won my first ever race too! Unexpected, but further indication that my Racing the Reaper Man Year was still working.

Running a 5k race at Goodwood Motor Circuit

There would be no let up, as Martin’s MSc project was finishing with a full fitness test on 14th, so I continued with speed and strength work, my weight dropping to a new low of 11st 9lbs (163lbs/73.9kg). I have to admit that full time work with months of focused training was not easy, and definitely not sustainable, so I was eyeing an active rest period in the second half of the month. On 14th I was nervously pacing at the start of my mile time trial course, as agitated as ever, but aiming to concentrate on form and style, rather than just brutal flat out running. Martin had driven to the end to wait. He was after data and reminded me that we had already achieved far more than we had expected, so the time was only relevant to the workload. For me, the time I would run was important. Even at 64, I knew I should be closer to 7 minutes than 8. I always felt the weight of my own expectation…

Away! I did concentrate on form, striding, straight backed and trying to control my breathing. I glanced at my watch a few times and at one point it showed 6:24 pace, so I eased back. This time I held form beyond the halfway point. Digging in I felt myself slowing and my form fell away, but I rallied, dodged a big tractor and stopped the watch at 7:24.6… my fastest mile since 2011. I recovered quickly, then Martin drove me to the gym where I went through a few other exercises, ending in a set of 6 squats with 85kg… some 11kg above my body weight. That was it. The planned year had reached the end of Martin’s MSc work, and I was still improving. 

A timed mile with Martin Sorenson MSc

It was time to rest a little, so, with my Passepartout, we set out to the Shetland Islands, where we ran every day, but reduced the intensity and I stopped core work. I ran my furthest north, for a mile on Unst, at Hermaness. On the islands we stayed at Burrastow House, the best possible setting way out at Walls. Pierre Dupont was a fine chef, using local ingredients where possible and furnished us with find breakfasts and superb evening meals. High in equality, low in fats, all vegetarian or pescatarian. I never exceeded a 1700kcal average for my whole trip.

The lesson I was learning at this point is that one needs to trust a proven system. For the Racing the Reaper Man Year I had put myself under pressure, so I always had the nagging feeling that resting would see me balloon up to a huge weight and my fitness would collapse. This, of course is not so. By continuing to stick to my new lifestyle, even when easing off, my body reacted the same. My weight was still drifting down, my fitness remained at a high level.

Running on the Shetland Islands

We kept our streaks going as we travelled back, putting in a mile here and there as I completed over 2000 miles of driving. This took me to the end of July, and the final days of the Shetland trip drifted into August… and August is another month.

How did I fare in July?

The stats are interesting as, though my weight remained fairly steady, I’ve marked some key points:

  • The most hydrated I’ve ever been, so technically as heavy as I will be for a weigh in.
  • % body fat lowest ever at 19.6
  • % visceral fat lowest ever at 11.0
  • Bone mass up a shade.
  • Muscle mass higher than ever.
  • BMI: Down from an initial 27.6 to 24.4
  • Avg kcal/day balance = 1493
  • Tummy: Down from an initial 38” in November, to a steady 31”

Weight progression:

  • Dec 31st: 13st 5lbs
  • End Jan: 13st 0lbs
  • End Feb: 12st 8.2lbs
  • End Mar: 12st 4.8lbs
  • End Apr: 12st 4lbs
  • End May: 11st 12.4lbs
  • End June: 11st 11lbs
  • End July: 11st 9lbs


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