Monday, 30 January 2012

Set myself up for that one!

A reasonable week training-wise. Went for a short run on Monday night and on Tuesday I had planned to go to football training, but it was cancelled due to a problem with the floodlights. Only found out whilst I was still at work, but it was too late at that point to get home changed and down to the NSC to meet the guys at 6pm, so had a lazy evening.

On Wednesday I went to circuit training at the NSC with Kyley. Michael George was there and put me to shame when he mentioned it was his 3rd training session of the day. He had already been for a walk along Marine Drive in the morning, and had then done a number of 1 mile reps in the afternoon, before winding down at the NSC in the evening! I haven't been to circuit training for a while and whilst I didn't have any problems with the stations that involved running, steps up, skipping, etc, it was certainly more of a struggle with the weights and abdominal exercises. This manifested itself for the next couple of days in the aching stomach I had.

If you have done circuit training before it is conditioning that involves performing multiple exercises within one session, moving from one exercise to the next in a circuit. At each station, the exercise is performed  for a certain amount of time, and then you move to the next station. The goal is to move between them with little or no break. Once each has been performed, you can move back to the beginning of the circuit and perform them in order again. The benefits of circuit training are:


  • An effective means of improving strength endurance

  • Can be easily structured to provide a whole body workout, using a range of different muscle groups.

  • It's time efficient and incorporates strength, flexibility and cardio in the same workout

  • It doesn't necessarily require expensive gym equipment, so you could do it at home.

  • You can work in small groups, motivating each other and it also allows beginners to be helped by more experienced people, as well as getting guidance from the person running the session (Liz Corrin runs the Wednesday session and is always on hand to provide encouragement).

  • It is more motivating and stimulating than spending hours in the Gym on a treadmill or rowing machine.

  • It has the potential to burn more calories than conventional aerobic exercise or strength training, both during and post-workout (increase in post workout metabolism), thus beneficial for those attempting to lose body fat.

  • Saturday morning was a really good training session. Met up with Jock, Michael, Dave W and Vinny at the NSC and headed off on the Parish route again. It was freezing cold with the roads frosty with ice in places. I usually make the mistake of wearing too many layers of clothing when I go out training, so on Saturday I only wore a base layer and a waterproof jacket, which was a mistake. I never really warmed up during the whole walk, which was probably why it was a very quick session, as I so was keen to get back into the warmth. After reaching Santon we came back along the old Castletown Road and ended up covering just under 14 miles, but it was only about 7 minutes slower than the previous week when we walked 2 miles less. Stopped for the usual cuppa and sausage bap in Mash, which really felt like it had been earned this week. If these early training sessions are anything to go by, then Dave is going to knock a lot of time off his PB in the Parish - definitely one to watch!

    I'm ashamed to say that Saturday afternoon and evening were spent in the pub. I met up with a few mates to watch the Man U v Liverpool FA Cup match and wish I hadn't. We had a lot of possession but couldn't turn it in to goals, so had to stay in the pub longer than planned to drown my sorrows. In my last blog I made the mistake of commenting on Man U beating Arsenal and also having a dig at my fellow blogger Ed's team Livepool losing at Bolton. He returned the favour on his blog by asking if I enjoyed the footy on Saturday, hence the title of the blog.

    Sunday was a big match for Colby Vets against last year's champions St Mary's, who beat us 7-1 last season. We have steadily started to improve over the last couple of games, so confidence had grown but our expectations weren't that high. We settled into the game really well and played some good football on a pitch that was starting to cut up badly after the constant rain and the Under 17s match in the morning (my son Tom was playing for Corinthians against Colby).

    We turned round at half time with the score at 1-1, which was a fair reflection of the first half. Despite the cold wind and driving rain our manager decided to keep us on the pitch at half time (inspired by Tony Pulis no doubt) to deliver the team talk and show the opposition we weren't a team of southern softies who could be pushed around. Unfortunately it didn't work very well as we conceded a goal almost immediately after the second half kicked off. We dug and pulled a goal back through a long range effort from one of our midfielders that hit the cross-bar and went in off the St Mary's goalie's back to level the score at 2-2. We then had a period of 10 minutes where we had them under constant pressure but just couldn't put the ball in the back of the net. A couple of minutes later they were up our end of the pitch and we had things under control until their centre forward decided to throw himself up in the air over an imaginary leg and the ref fell for it! He converted the penalty to make it 3-2 and in our enthusiasm to get an equaliser and put right the shocking penalty decision we conceded a late goal to finish 4-2. Undeserved but it was a great team performance and it is matches like that, that make it difficult to think about packing in football to avoid a potential injury before the Parish!


    Monday, 23 January 2012

    Quality not Quantity

    In my last blog I mentioned the football match I played in for Colby Vets against Peel. Towards the end of the match ones our team, Roger, went down heavily after a 50/50 tackle. Eager to get on with the match we all encouraged him to get up and run-off the injury and he was soon be fine. After a minute or so it was evident that he wouldn't be able to continue, so he hobbled off to the sideline. In the dressing room after the match he was complaining that his ankle didn't feel right, but decided to have a beer and see how it felt later. Anyway, it didn't get any better so he thought it best to drive himself to A&E, where following an examination and x-ray was advised he had broken it! That'll probably be the end of Roger's season, but wishing him a speedy recovery, and it's such a shame as he's our leading goal scorer. One thing it did highlight again to me was that football and training for the Parish Walk aren't a great mix! I will definitely be winding up playing any more games after March.

    After the 10km walk and football last Sunday I had a rest day on Monday. On Tuesday I met the usual crowd down at the NSC and rather than do laps round the perimeter we headed out on to the road. From the NSC it was a stroll along Peel Road, down on the quay and then we picked up the pace out past the nunnery. We then had a good blast up the hill past Kewaigue School, which whilst not that steep is a long drag and definitely one to get the lungs gasping for air. It wasn't a long walk, but by the time we got back to the NSC it felt like a decent workout nonetheless. Did my usual 5 mile run on Wednesday and on Thursday Dave Walker and I walked the same route as Tuesday and the Kewaigue hill was no easier!

    8 of us turned up for Saturday's training walk, which was a good turnout and the most I can remember since I started going out with the group on Saturday mornings. We left the NSC and followed the Parish Walk route as far as the Old Castletown Road and instead of turning right at the end of Oatlands Road towards Santon Church, we headed back in Douglas. It was only just over 12 miles, but we did it at a decent pace, mainly interval training, so when we finished I felt like I had earned my sausage bap at Mash!

    In this blog I thought I would do a rough outline of the training I will do over each week in the build up to the Parish Walk. It is not a rigid schedule, but as you have probably gathered it doesn't focus purely around walking, as for me doing different sports helps my overall fitness and stamina levels and improves my walking.

    Saturday - this is the long walk for the week and I start off in January doing about 10 miles and build up by a mile or two each week, to 20 miles or so by the end of March. I probably won't walk much further than this in one training session, apart from the Sara Killey Memorial Walk at the end of April, which is ideally placed and also an ideal distance (50km/31.1 miles) to be used as preparation for the Parish Walk. From mid-May the distance of the long Saturday walk will start to reduce each week down to about 15 miles, but will get quicker.

    Sunday - at the moment I have a football match every other week, but when I don't have a match I will use this as a rest day or just go out for a leisurely walk.

    Monday - if I have played football on the Sunday then this will be my rest day. If not, then I will go out for a fairly easy run, anywhere from 5-8 miles.

    Tuesday - football training on the astroturf for an hour and a half. If there is no football then I will meet the usual crowd for a fast session at the NSC doing interval training, but as the nights get a bit lighter I will head out on to the roads, with the distance between 5-10 miles.

    Wednesday - a quicker 5-8 mile run or occasionally circuit training at the NSC, which Liz Corran runs, if Kyley talks me in to it!

    Thursday - a walking session, similar to Tuesday

    Friday - a rest day

    As you can see not too many miles walking - maybe a maximum of 40 miles at the peak week. A couple of years ago as preparation I did nothing but walk at the same pace, as training for the Parish - probably doing 60/70 miles per week, mainly by myself. Firstly, I didn't feel as fit as I do now and secondly I was bored. So to reiterate what I have said previously; find other people to train with and focus on the quality of the training - shorter, quick sessions rather than just monotonously cranking out the miles.

    Good result for Man U yesterday against Arsenal (my son is an Arsenal supporter), but a shame City won with a goal scored by someone who should have been sent off. All being well he should have 4 matches off to think about his behaviour. As my fellow blogger Ed is a Liverpool fan I won't mention that match!

    Sunday, 15 January 2012

    The First Attempt

    Quite a good week on the training front starting with running my 5 mile loop on Monday evening. Tuesday was back to football training for Colby Vets after the Christmas break. Following a warm up all we did for the next hour and a half was have a kick around, but I could certainly feel it the following morning - just shows how you use completely different muscles from walking and running, but good for the allround fitness.

    Had a rest day on Wednesday as we had our first committee meeting for the End to End Walk, which is held in September. A long way off but a lot to organise.  On Thursday I met up with the two Daves and we did a few laps round the NSC. It wasn't too strenuous and we had a good chat with one of the topics being the 28 hour walk held each year in Roubaix, but more about that later. Went out with the two Daves again,  plus Vinny and Michael for the usual Saturday morning walk from the NSC. Given that we all planned to do the 10km in the Winter Walking League the folowing day, we decided not to go too far, except for Michael who did a 2 1/2 hour walk, but couldn't convince any of us to join him!

    A cracking turnout for the walk at St John's this morning - there must have been nearly 70 people taking part, which can only be good for the future of the sport. It was a bright morning, but with quite a cold breeze and other than that conditions were perfect. After a quick start I settled into a good rhythm, but when Jock passed me after about 3 or 4km I couldn't stay with him, but just tried to keep him sight. I went through the 5km mark at 25.55 and ended finishing in 52.09, which was a PB and my pace didn't drop off too much in the second half, so I was really pleased with how it went. Had my Garmin GPS watch on as usual and for anyone who is interested, below are my stats from the race.

    This afternoon Colby Vets had a match against Peel, so given this morning's exertions I was hoping to be on the bench. Unfortunately, I was in the starting line-up, but the the Isle of Man FA, obviously recognising the physical limitations of the older footballer, allow 4 rolling subs throughout the match. The game took place at our new ground, so before we kicked off we had a few team photos taken, went through our warm up and then realised there was no referree. Appears no one told him we were playing at our new place! It was a tight game with a few feisty tackles and Peel took the lead late on in the second half, only for us to equalise right at the death, for what was probably a fair result. My legs 'went' with about 15 minutes to go, so I decided to substitute myself.

    Contining the theme from my last blog, where I started to trace my intial steps into competitive walking, in this one I will cover my first Parish Walk experience. My training was anything but organised, as it started off merely as a method to assist with my weight-loss. At this stage I started going out walking with Kyley every Sunday, dressed in boots and jeans. We would dump the kids at my parents house and just ramble for an hour or two. It was only then I started to realise that walking might be a decent form of exercise, owing to the fact I ached after each walk and usually developed decent blisters, due to the choice of footwear.

    I progressed through February and March doing a couple or shorter walks during the week, to complement the 'longer' one at the weekend. However, I realised I would need to step it up a bit if I was going to beat my father-in-law who had got as far as Kirk Michael the previous year, so on Good Friday 2007 I decided to walk the Parish route from the start to Rushen church. I got myself some decent walking gear, including a pair of trainers, in preparation for the walk. I thought I was well prepared, but omitted to bring anything to eat or drink with me, so by the time I reached Malew and was able to stop at a shop, I wasn't in great shape. I pulled myself together to stumble on to Rushen church, When I finished I couldn't understand why my feet were in such a poor state with numerous blisters, despite investing in some quality trainers. What I didn't realise was that I would need to wear them in first, rather than expecting to walk nearly 20 miles in them, on their first outing! After that training walk I had no idea how I was going to make it Peel, never mind past Kirk Michael!

    Anyway, learning from some of my earlier mistakes I kept up the training and the big day arrived. The first thing that struck me when I arrived at the NSC the day of the 2007 Parish Walk was the sheer number of people taking part. The second thing was the atmosphere and the sense of anticipation as people nervously chatted to one and other, wondering what lay ahead. It was only then that it hit me as to what an amazing event the Parish Walk really is. This only increased throughout the day, as the sense of community and support from the spectators came to the fore.

    On the day the walk to Peel was a lot easier than I expected and passed fairly quickly, as I spoke to numerous people and made new friends. Only after Peel, when the number of competitors visibly reduced, did I start to feel pain, but nothing that a few painkillers wouldn't sort out. On the outskirts of Kirk Michael blisters on both my heels had formed and walking was starting to feel uncomfortable - couple more painkillers. I passed Kirk Michael and had beaten my initial target, so was feeling quite pleased with myself, so the next objective was to get to Jurby, which is roughly half way round. Continuing to Jurby wasn't too bad and I then began the walk to Bride. Only in the last couple of years have I actually enjoyed the leg from Jurby to Bride, as I hated it so much in the 2007 walk. My blisters had got even worse and I was also feeling unwell - time for more painkillers! I was getting slower and slower but received a short lived boost by the Welcome to Bride sign. I say short lived, because the sign must be at least 2 miles before you actually get to Bride church.

    On reaching Bride I barely had enough energy to carry on and seeing the short, but steep hill out of the village that faced me was hardly a great motivator to continue. Kyley told me it was only 2 or 3 miles to Andreas, so I should at least try and get there. By this time I had resigned myself to there and this decision was compounded by the walk up the path to the church. My badly blistered feet feeling every one of the small stones on the way to check point. I had no hesitation at all in asking the marshall to cut off my dibber. I was relieved to finally stop and pleased to get to Andreas, which I thought at 55 miles was no mean feet.

    I gingerly made by way back down the path to the entrance where my wife and mother-in-law Jill were waiting, There was no sign of my father-in-law Paul and they confirmed he was still going strong. I then started to feel ill, like I was going to pass out and I stumbled over and grabbed a tree at the side of the road.  Paul then strolled past, looking really fresh and asked me if I was stopping for a rest (he went on complete to the first of his 2 Parish walk finishes).  At that point I went from feeling like I had achieved something to knowing I had unfinished business. This was made worse a few minutes later when I started to feel a lot better and wondered how I would have got on if I had just rested for a bit and then continued. What I learnt from future Parish walks is that everyone will have a rough patch and that you can push your body and overcome pain a lot more than you initially think. If you feel like quitting, stop and rest. At least then you will definitely know whether you could have carried on or not. Also, don't have too many painkillers unless you want to bring your walk to a premature end!

    Below is a picture from my first attempt and as you can see I'm still carrying a little too much weight but a huge improvement on the last blog's photo!

    Sunday, 8 January 2012

    From Blob to Blog

    Had to go back to work this week after the last 10 days off over Christmas and New Year and it wasn't a pleasant experience having to get up early again! From a training perspective it has been fairly productive. After my exertions in the Fell Race on New Year's Day it was good to do a few laps around the NSC on Tuesday evening - not too strenuous, but a good workout. I had planned to do the Fireman's run on Thursday, but ended up going down to the NSC again and met Jock and Michael George. Michael had been away on holiday after Christmas and seemed keen to make up for being away, as he really went for it, leaving me in his trail, as we started off doing 200m at pace, increasing 100m per time up to 600m and back down again to 200m.  This will certainly help with the fitness and stamina.

    Yesterday was the usual Saturday morning at 8am with Jock, Vinny, Dave W and Marie. We covered about 11 miles, heading out from the NSC, along the promenade, up Summerhill and out to the Liverpool Arms, before coming back through Groudle and back along the prom again. Anyone who was out training yesterday will have appreciated just how windy it was!

    Stopping on the prom, Jock and Vinny tried to sell the benefits to Dave and I, of paddling in the sea, apparently giving similar benefits to an ice bath. It was high tide, so they were able to go straight down the concrete steps into the uninviting water. Vinny held on to the rail at the side whilst Jock enthusiastically ran down the steps only to end up sliding on his backside into the sea, grazing his arms and hands in the process, whilst Dave and I looked on providing encouragement and sympathy. To help Jock's recovery and allow him to treat his wounds, we headed off to Mash for sausage and bacon baps. This morning I pushed myself to get out of bed and go for a run on a five mile loop from my house on Bray Hill, out to the Strang and Abbeylands and back home again.  Glad I did in the end as had Sunday lunch at the In-laws and didn't feel guilty about the chocolate biscuits I ate after.

    As promised in my last blog I said I would write about what motivated me to do the Parish Walk for the first time. The clue is in the title of this blog, as I was very overweight, was eating and drinking the wrong things and not taking enough exercise. The best way to emphasise this point is to publish a photo from my fat days. I was initially reluctant to do this, as I still can't believe how I managed to let myself go so much and it embarrasses me. However, I looked back through our collection to try and find the worst photo I could and I think you'll agree this one is pretty shocking, so brace yourself!!!!!!!

    This is a picture of me on my Stag Do in Brussels in 2004. Can't believe Kyley was so brave to marry that! (Neither can I!!- The Editor)

    I was pretty much the same size until 5 years ago when I decided enough was enough. I had always been fairly active, either playing football or running, but a few years earlier had torn the ligaments in my ankle and did little exercise for months after that. However, I somehow convinced myself that I wasn't too overweight and plodding around playing 5 a side football once a week was more than sufficient. It was at the end of October 2006 that Kyley's sister Steph had her 21st birthday and seeing the photos afterwards convinced me that enough was enough. A complete lifestyle change was required, but it would have to wait until after Christmas that year.

    I can recall on 4th January 2007 finishing off all the sweets, biscuits and fattening foods in the house (couldn't throw them out could I!), before kicking off the lifestyle change on 5th January. It's all very well deciding to change your eating and drinking habits and start doing more exercise, but without a clear objective or target to work towards it is even more difficult. I had been overweight before, lost a few pounds and then put them back on again and thought I would always be a fat lad. Fortunately, my father-in-law Paul Phillips had taken part in the 2006 Parish Walk and suggested I join him in 2006. He had finished at Kirk Michael, which I thought was pretty impressive, but never one to shirk a challenge I said I would give it a go in 2007. I knew a little about the Parish Walk beforehand, but this mainly consisted of Robbie Callister's amazing exploits and Sean Hands's unbelievable record lap in 2006. I also had a recollection of stumbling out of a nightclub on Douglas Prom and seeing these 'idiots' finishing the Parish Walk. Whilst I respected what they were doing, I couldn't believe that someone could actually walk 85 miles, but worse even want to!

    Even so, I did agree to enter in 2007, as I thought how hard could walking be! Kyley started going out first with her friends and convinced me to join them a couple of times. I didn't think walking would be a particularly good form of exercise and felt I would need to do something more strenuous. I soon realised that this walking lark was actually quite hard work, especially carrying significant excess pounds, but that it was ideal for increasing the metabolism for losing weight plus a very sociable activity. My diet changed completely from processed and takeaway food, plus regular visits to the pub, to more vegetables and home cooked meals, replacing snacks with fruit and cutting back on alcohol. The first two or three weeks were very difficult, but once you start to form routines and start to see the pounds dropping off, your motivation levels increase. Over the next 6 months I lost 6 stone and have kept the weight off ever since and would never let myself get back to the size I was before, as I can recognise when I slip back into old eating habits. Also, I enjoy exercise more than ever and in the last year I can't remember a time in my life when I have been as fit.

    Whether your objective is to get fitter or lose weight, my advice would be to set yourself challenging but achievable targets and when you meet them, set new ones. Also, find people who can support you doing this, which in my case was Kyley. (This bought a tear to my eye, and he really is the best husband, big or small - The Editor)

    Monday, 2 January 2012

    Tony the Tiger

    Happy New Year to all.

    2011 closed on happy note with the arrival of a baby boy for my brother David and his wife Angela on the 29th December. They had a plan for who was going to look after their daughter (Elisa) when Angela went into labour, which involved either her mum or my mum and dad stepping in. Unfortunately, Angela's mum was ill and my mum and dad where away on holiday as the due date wasn't until 15th January. It was a bit of surprise when we received a panicked phone call about 2.20am asking if I could get round to their house quickly to look after Elisa, as the baby was on the way. As I drove up their road to David passed me in his car as things were starting to move very quickly. The baby was delivered at 2.37am!

    I always think that New Years Eve is a bit overrated and therefore don't have particularly high expectations for a good night out. In fact the last few years we have stayed in and either done nothing or had my other brother and his wife round. This year Kyley and I decided to go to the Cat With No Tail with Ronnie and Karen Kelly and Ronnie's sister Janette and her husband Kevin. On the way to the Cat we stopped off at Jock and Teri Waddington's for a quick drink and caught up with a few fellow walkers. Jock, the two Dave's (Mackey and Walker) and I had been out training earlier in the day and we had been talking about the St John's Fell Race on New Years Day. The two Dave's had already said they were doing the run and Dave M was trying to talk me in to it. At this stage I was very non-committal as the memories of how hard the Boxing Day run was, were still fresh in my mind and this continued round at Jock's.

    We headed up to the Cat With No Tail and Ronnie said that he was definitely going to do the race. A few drinks later not only had I agreed to take part, but also said I would do it in a tiger suit and had arranged to go around to Jeanette's house with Ronnie the following day to get our faces painted and whiskers added! A great night followed with lots of dancing on tables and I vaguely remember crawling in sometime after 4am, The following morning I woke up to a text from Dave M asking if 'Tony the Tiger wanted a lift to St Johns'. The realisation of what I had committed to the previous night then hit home. I can honestly say I have never felt any less like running then I did at that moment. The car journey out to St John's and then Dave M greeting me with "christ you look rough" didn't improve things for what would be my first fell race.

    We all lined up on the field by St John's football club and after being advised to take it carefully on the downhill section due to the wet conditions, the starter set us off. The pace was immediately quite quick and I took a decision to take it easy to start with. Being fairly near the back of the field to start with and the fact that a lot of the immediate ascent was too steep to run up anyway, I was able to pick off a few people ahead of me just walking. After what felt like an age I reached the summit and decided to take a few risks on the descent. Watching some of the experienced fell runners descend at speed was very impressive and definitely an art. I managed to pick off a few more people on the way back down the hill and avoided slipping whilst crossing the river. The run definitely got rid of the hangover, but not a cure I would recommend! I've just read the write up on the Manx Fell Runners website and there were a record 148 people who took part. Congratulations to all, as beforehand I didn't appreciate how hard it would be.

    Below is an action shot of me and Ronnie in our Tiger suits crossing the river at the start.

    Finally, welcome to the third blogger Ed Walter. I spoke to Ed at a dinner at the Hilton Hotel a couple of months ago and it was immediately evident that he is very passionate about the Parish Walk, so his blog should be an interesting read.

    Unfortunately, in this blog, I still haven't got round to writing about what motivated me to do the Parish Walk for the first time. I will cover this in my next one and actually write something about walking, instead of waffling on about my Christmas excesses and forays into running.