A Racing the Reaper Man Year: September 2021

September started with a heatwave. After the decision to focus on the 50k in October, I suddenly realised that I had no easy way to prepare. After two years of pandemic-limiting travel, a holiday in Greece would take up half the month.  So, after two early-in-the-month long runs of 12 and 10 miles, all I could do was rely on my built in fitness and run every day. A couple of big core sessions with Martin, including 60m sprints, kept my strength tuned, and our self-imposed 10-minute plank-off happened on the 8th. My weight had levelled off to a new low of 11st 6.8lbs, which surprised me. My system was still working.

A 10 minute plank-off with my PT Martin Sorenson

I had started to realise that September and October were evolving into ‘active rest’ months. In view of my self-experiment, I decided to see what happened if I just kept up my training, but ditch the formal data gathering until November. I felt I needed to simulate those times when discipline ebbs a little, the body needs a bit of recovery time and living my basic philosophy. I would test my built in fitness and allow some, now controlled, old habits to raise their heads. All of this came at a time when Martin was completing his MSc work and I had a series of commitments that would exclude a formal training schedule. Thus, I hurtled towards October’s 50k, more in hope than in confidence.

Ditching formal training, and hurtling towards October’s 50k

My resting pulse rate had raised in my July Shetland journey – the taking of alcohol did that – from 48/49 to 54/55. In September I was back to normal, and before my journey with Passepartout to Alónnisos, was running well. My running streak was now up to 250+ days and I had decided to keep it going to the end of the year, then beyond. The journey to Alónnisos would make that daily run difficult as it started at 01:50 in the morning! All went to plan, journey wise, and at 16:00 or so, local time, we stepped from the hydrofoil onto the quay on Alónnisos. We were both knackered, but both on a streak, so motivation overcame weariness. We ran a mile together in the intense heat of a Greek heatwave, to make our British heatwave earlier in the month pale into insignificance.

There followed two happy weeks. We ran every day and I managed some very hilly trail runs across the island, up to 6 miles in length. On Alónnisos steep hills are unavoidable. My legs coped very well on the hills and I felt the training would keep my fitness high. Yet again, whilst away from home, I drank wine with the evening meals. My resting pulse slowly rose, exacerbated by the heat, to around 56 bpm. To my great joy I also hit a new target before my 65th birthday. We took a taxi ride to the high village of Chora, and in running down the 2.5 miles to the harbour, I reached 1000 miles for the year.

Steep hills on Alónnisos are unavoidable

The journey home involved a very early start again, but it was straightforward and we ran a tired mile to my local orchard and trails. The following day I had my 65th birthday. The difference between this and my 64th was marked: 28lbs (12.7kg) lighter, 8” smaller around the middle and much hairier! I ran a mile and drank some wine – my first imbibing of alcohol in the house this year. Thereafter, I resumed the application of my Racing the Reaper Man Year lifestyle, which had become my new normality. I topped 100 miles for the tenth month in a row and viewed October with some uncertainty. I had 2 weeks to prepare for a 50k.

How did I fare in September?

My weight remained fairly steady, but still drifting down. I’ve marked some key points:

  • Still the most hydrated I’ve been, so still as heavy as I will be for a weigh in.
  • % body fat still low at 19.8
  • % visceral fat lowest ever at 11.0
  • Bone mass down a shade.
  • Muscle mass level.
  • BMI: Down from an initial 27.6 to 23.7
  • Avg kcal/day balance = 1689 – a rise showing fewer longer runs.
  • Tummy: Down from an initial 38” in November, to a new low of 30”

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
  • End Aug: 11st 7lbs
  • End Sept: 11st 6.8lbs

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