Wednesday, 21 September 2011

A mini-update

Hello again

I'd set today aside as the day I'd write another post, convinced I'd have lots to say and things to update you with but I realised this morning that's probably not the case.

Don't get me wrong, I could easily spout for a page or so about all things great and small, but I know that wouldn't be fair to you as readers and so I'll attempt to be concise.

I'd chosen today specifically as I'd had my diabetes check up and I'd had physio straight after.  I thought there'd be a lot more bloggable information than there probably is but I'll give you the highlights and try to explain what this means for the training.

Diabetes appointment went really well - they seem to be pleased with the progress I've made since I decided to sort my life out a bit.  I won't get a definitive answer as to how it's going (i.e. a blood test) until December but I came away feeling positive and with a few tips to bear in mind.

Physio went OK too which is about what I expected.  I've had four appointments now but I've seen three difference physios in that time so I feel that my continuity of care (for want of a better phrase) isn't quite there.  They work incredibly hard and I'm very grateful for the time they give me, but it would be nice to see the same person every time.  I think that'll settle down soon though.

They've continued to advise me to stay away from impact exercise, so running is still off the table in the short term but I'm hoping for the go ahead to do some light jogging (or even brisk walking!) next time around.  I think the swimming I've been doing has helped a bit, but I actually feel like I've had more pain this last week or so than I have in quite some time.   Perhaps that means my joint is starting to free up a bit.

If you dip into my tweets from time to time, you'll know I'm going away for a few nights this weekend - specifically to Las Vegas.  It's somewhere I've always wanted to go so I'm very pleased I've finally got the chance.  I'm not sure what it means for the diet but I'm going to enjoy myself but without resorting to excess - I think that's what a holiday is supposed to be about.  I'm also looking forward to taking some (hopefully) impressive photos to remember it all by (this is my Flickr account).

One last note, I lost anther 4lbs this week so I'm standing (proudly??) at 198lbs - it's the first time I can remember being under 200lbs for a while now so hopefully the walking up and down the Strip in Vegas will keep the weight off.

As always, if you want to get in touch or fancy a general chat, I can be found on Twitter as @Broomowl or mail me on

Thanks for reading.  Andy.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Compare and contrast

I’m going to talk about my contrasting approach to two important parts of my preparation, namely diet and exercise.

As I alluded to in my last post, the events of the last few years have lead to me having what would politely be described as a somewhat ‘jolly’ appearance.  I’ve usually been able to hide most of my excess weight with a cleverly selected shirt and, when discussing dieting, most people have told me that I don’t look like I need to lose weight – which is very kind, but sadly untrue.

However, the fact remains that as of the second week of August (coinciding with my first diabetes hospital review since I moved house) I was a 30 year old, 5’11” (ish) weighing more than 210lb (about 97kg for all your new money people).  All that added together puts me right on the cusp of obesity (clinically overweight at least).

What I’d lacked for the past few years was clear motivation to actually do something about it.  Moving back to Sheffield felt like a fresh start and if I’m going to run/walk/hobble for 26 and a bit miles, the last thing I want to do is to lug any excess weight around.  So after that hospital appointment I made a change.

I’ve dieted before (and very successfully – I lost over 2 stone in about 5 months back in 2008) but it came at a cost in that it made me miserable.  There are plenty of approaches to losing weight out there – a lot of them accompanied by a bit of a hefty price tag.  But really, losing weight is down to science - eat fewer calories than your body requires to keep you warm and breathing (determined by your BMI) and you’ll lose weight.

My approach to dieting is somewhat gung-ho.  I lost all that weight the first time around by carrying a calorie book everywhere, weighing all my food and recording everything in a spreadsheet.  I was fairly slim (I got down to 174lb I think) but it wasn’t sustainable and when I stopped exercising, the weight went back on.

I’m employing a similar ‘all out attack’ approach this time round, but with some concessions.  I’m not weighing my food, I don’t carry the calorie book and I don’t have a food spreadsheet.  What I have done is dramatically reduce the amount of food I eat and significantly alter the kind of food I eat.  I won’t go into the details but let’s say that salad, homemade fruit smoothies and stir fry have become my friends.

I feel better for it and fortunately the bathroom scales don’t lie – I lost 4lbs last week and 3lbs this week and I currently tip the scales at 202lb (just under 92kg).  I’m fairly proud of that given that I’ve lost it all essentially through diet alone.

That leads me to exercise (sort of).  I actually enjoy exercise so finding my opportunities limited is frustrating at the moment.  My physio told me that swimming would be a good way to get back into physical activity (and should help with my foot) and so I’ve started swimming again.

This is where the contrasting approach comes in.  I used to be a very gung-ho exerciser.  I was a member of a gym and I’d go at least three times a week and swim once a week.  This time around, however, I’m taking a much more measured approach.  Marathon training (or any kind of exercise) isn’t about doing as much as you can as often as you can.  It’s about conditioning your body to be able to gradually do more and more until you reach your goal.

It’s taken me far too long to really realise that, and it takes quite a bit of self control to actually exercise in that mindset.  I’ve set myself a target of swimming twice a week at the moment with an aim to steadily increase the distance I swim.  ‘Old’ me would have jumped in the pool and stubbornly refuse to get out until I’d done 40, 50 or 60 lengths.  ‘New’ me knows that I’ll get to that distance but I’ll do myself no favours if I start out there.  While my diet can afford to be a bit more extreme (for now at least), my approach to exercising can’t.

Looking ahead a few months, I think that I’ll have a slightly steeper training curve than I’d like (when I start running it’ll be shorter distances than I’d need) but I feel confident that I’m starting with the right foundations to get me to where I want to be (coughing my guts up on The Mall in April).

I’m also not so blinkered to know that my diet won’t have to change (more exercise require more calories) and I know that will lead to changes in how I approach my diabetes control.

But for now, I’m losing weight, exercising and have a sensible blood sugar level, all for the first time in a long time.  I’ve got another hospital check up next week and I’ll blog again after that before my long anticipated week’s holiday.

As always, if you want to get in touch or fancy a general chat, I can be found on Twitter as @Broomowl or mail me on

Thanks for reading.  Andy.

Friday, 9 September 2011

An introduction

Hi – welcome to my blog.  I’ve been considering writing something for quite some time now, but haven’t really hit upon anything I thought I could pass comment on.  Until now.

In April 2012 I’ll be running the London Marathon.  Granted, that’s not the most astounding revelation or the most fascinating topic (and nor is it meant to be).  This blog’s purpose (if you like) is to document my progress over the next six months or so, and give you an idea of just how challenging it’s going to be.

This post is mostly going to be background information – an introduction to me and my reasons for doing all this.  Hopefully that doesn’t fill you with too much dread as it’s the background that makes it interesting.

A bit about me… I’m 30, I hail from the fair city of Sheffield, and I have Type 1 Diabetes (I take 5 insulin injections a day).  The last bit  is the most pertinent to my story.

I want to introduce an important point here.  While I’ve been diabetic for the last 10 years, I’ve consciously (or perhaps subconsciously) never let it define who I am.  I firmly believe that you shouldn’t pigeon-hole yourself (or allow others to do the same).  There are many things that make me who I am – interests, hobbies, past experiences, family, work…these are all parts of a whole.

That said, for the purposes of this blog, my ‘condition’ will be something I talk about more than usual.

I’m not going to try and educate you about diabetes – I guess the majority of you know about it (or at least of it) and there’s plenty of information out there if you get curious.  I’m hopefully going to give you a bit of an insight into how you prepare for something like a marathon, but with that extra bit of consideration needed for dealing with diabetes.

So – what’s my starting position?  Well, I’ve wanted to run the marathon since my Dad did it when I was 8 years old.  Since I was 18 I’ve spent 10 of the last 12 years desperately trying to get a place in the ballot.  In 2010 I was lucky enough to manage it.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that I should have run it last year, and you’d be right.  This is the final bit of background to the story.

Way back in 2008, I was training for the Sheffield Half Marathon.  After my last distance run (15 miles about 3 weeks before the race) I felt a pain in my foot and ended up hobbling about for days afterwards.  To cut a long story short, x-rays and GP visits couldn’t determine anything, but I ended up having to forfeit my place as I couldn’t walk properly, let alone run.

That lead to a bit of a downward spiral in my general levels of health and fitness (and a corresponding decline in my own care for my diabetes).  I gave up on the gym and put on a fair bit of weight.

After having two years of ‘rest’ for my mystery foot pain (including more x-rays and an MRI), I took an extremely cautious approach to my training for the 2011 marathon, but sadly after about 40 training miles, my foot gave up again and I had to defer my place to 2012.

I’m now having regular physio and should be starting my proper training at the beginning of October when the 6 month countdown will begin.  I’m also in the middle of a fairly intense diet to try and shift some of this excess weight.

This feels like the last hurrah in terms of my marathon chances.  It’s been my dream for more than 20 years and, having been so close to it already this year, I’m determined to make it happen in 2012.

If this has given you a glimmer of interest then I’d love it if you keep coming back.  I’m going to try and keep this fairly regular (certainly from October when the fun starts) and I’ll try and intersperse the running and diabetes chat with the odd bit of humour where time (and brain capacity) allows.

If you want to get in touch or fancy a general chat, I can be found on Twitter as @Broomowl or mail me on

Thanks for reading.  Andy.