|2012 ....a lot of water under the bridge|
I don't do New Year Resolutions but, reluctantly, I feel one or two will have to be implemented if I'm to continue racing through the coming year. I'm feeling a bit ashamed of myself. After a 6 mile run on New Year's Day I decided it was time to step onto the scales to assess how much damage all the recent indulgences and scaled down exercise have wrought upon this ancient body. The answer, in a word, is considerable. I'd wondered why I wasn't running too well, why I'd been reduced to walking one of the hills in a recent road race, and why my average training pace was becoming embarrassingly slow. The magic scales gave me the answer. To my ideal racing weight of 138 lbs I've added an extra 8.60 lbs - most of which is anchored firmly round my waist. It's not nice when I look in the mirror, especially when I turn sideways. Fat percentage has risen to 19.5% (from 16.6), visceral fat to 9% (from 7.0) and BMI to 23.3 (from 22.1) - figures which might be 'normal' for the average man in the street. For an athlete they're well into the region of 'fat'.
|Making haggis more palatable on New Year's Eve.....|
So what’s to be done about it? I hate the word ‘diet’. To my mind dieting, along with calorie counting and food journaling, is something women do – so I’ll not go down that road – but I’ve obviously got to make some adjustments if ever I’m to get back to my optimum racing weight. In the past I could eat or drink as much as I jolly well wanted so long as I was exercising sufficiently to burn it off, but that no longer seems to be the case. As I’ve slowed down with age, and not training as intensely, the balance has got a little upset and the calories appear to be winning. Maybe I’m succumbing to too many ‘treats’. I don’t buy sweets, buns, cake or biscuits but my wonderful partner invariably has jars and tins full of these calorie loaded goodies which, because she’s made or baked them, I feel obliged to eat – before they go stale. The rest of my diet is fairly sensible, no fast food or junk food and all my meat, fish, fruit and vegetables etc. bought and eaten as fresh as possible. Never once have I darkened the doors of MacDonalds, or any other such place. So New Year resolution No. 1 is to start exercising a bit more self-control over my eating habits, though I must admit I’ll miss all those little treats if they aren’t there.
|....and pouring the bubbly|
And mention of the word 'exercising', I used to have a regular short routine I practiced on most days, and always on non-running days. That was way back in the days when running and racing was serious, not just for fun. It included lunges and press-ups, crunches, plank and tricep dips – not to mention bicep curls, upward rowing and squats using mainly light weights. All that has gone by the board so I can’t remember when the weights were last rolled out from their hiding place, or when I got down to just a bare minimum of core exercises. Common sense tells me I must get back into the habit of regular exercising, stretching and lifting if I’m to carry on racing. I want no more of those embarrassing walks up poxy little hills – as in my last 10K road race. So New Year resolution No. 2 is to stop procrastinating, get out that sheet of paper with its list of exercises that take no more than half an hour to perform, and do what it says. If I fail in these two resolutions, if my body composition remains all out of proportion and I find myself moving humiliatingly even further towards the back of the field, I’ll call it a day and stop racing. After all, I’ve had a good innings and amassed a fair number of racing trophies in various age categories. When that trend declines it will be time to move over and allow some other dog to have his day.
Another factor I found discouraging, that frequently kept me indoors, was the appalling weather we had last year, reputedly the wettest in Yorkshire since records began. During the day on New Year’s Eve we couldn’t run, or even walk, alongside the River Wharfe, such was the amount of water spewing across adjacent fields and paths. Trees, drowned sheep and goodness knows what else went hurtling down its swollen current. Linton Falls was a veritable maelstrom. The noise was deafening. We felt concerned for those living on flood plains farther down river, but the barriers must have held for we heard no bad reports.
|Worse still, you might not even wake up...|
Later, our radio said that over 100,000 people were gathered in London (with a measly twenty portaloos between them causing hour long queues) waiting for the midnight chimes of Big Ben to herald the New Year. In Edinburgh another 75,000 were packed into Princes Street for the increasingly popular Hogmanay folk music and celebrations. Back in our cosy cottage there was just the two of us to share a traditional meal of haggis, tatties and neeps with a well chosen bottle of bubbly to help things on their way. On the chimes of Big Ben we toasted the New Year with a delectable glass of Jura malt whisky and a warm hug, wishing each other the best of everything as fireworks exploded and lit the night sky over the village. 2013 came in with a bang. Several bangs! Efforts to text our good wishes to friends and relations were largely unsuccessful, presumably due to lines being somewhat overloaded at that popular hour.
So to each and everyone of those who failed to get the message – Have a Very Happy New Year and may it bring you all that your hearts desire, whether you’re a runner, or not!