Limbo Dancing.

I’m still in limbo at work. I’ve faced the music, and danced, three or four times now. It’s getting irksome.

Tomorrow, I should get my official sacking. Again. I just wish they would hurry up about it. If I was to keep my job that would obviously be the best outcome, but that is a vanishingly remote chance. Unless they’ve decided to change the company policy, and I’m the first driver to whom it has been applied, I’m sacked. Sad, but let’s get on with it.

My training has been up and down. As I’ve been off work I’ve managed to stick to my Sufferfest training programme. Yoga, strength training, mental toughness, and the bike.

My weight loss has been a work in progress. Or rather how I go about it is a work in progress. I’ve revised my expectations and my plan. Now I’m trying damage limitation on plague weakness days, diet on normal days. I started at 11 stone 5, and I want to get back to 10 stone. It may take a while. After losing 5lbs in the first week, the plague weakness struck and I put 2 back on. I’m slowly edging down again. I’m 10.12 now.

It’s not just a vanity thing. I’m training for a triathlon that has 7,700 feet of elevation changes so I need powerful legs. I’ve been reading up on what constitutes good watts (power) for a cyclist. The answer is “It’s not that simple”. On the flat a 12 stone rider putting out, say 250W will thrash a 9 stone rider putting out 220W. But as soon as you come to a hill the lighter person will waste the chubster.

“To illustrate this, let’s compare power requirements of a 70kg and 80kg rider riding a 6kg road bike up a hill of seven per cent gradient at 16kph (10mph) in still winds. Using data on rolling and aerodynamic resistance, we can calculate that an 80kg rider would have to maintain an average power output or around 298W. The 70kg rider would only need to average 266W to ride up the same hill at the same speed on the same bike.”

A few articles state that for hill climbing you want to pushing the least possible weight against gravity. They say it might cost thousands of pounds, or even be impossible, to lose a 10lbs/ 4.5 kilos (or in my case 19lbs/ 8.6 kilos) off a bike, it cost nothing to lose that off your blubber.

A quick comparison.

My cheapo Decathlon “comfortable” road bike is a smidge under 10 kilos.

The carbon fibre (light), top spec gears, version is 7.8 kilos and £2,000

That’s just under 5lbs of weight for 2 grand. Or to put it another way, in the first week of my diet I saved £2,000! (To be honest, there’s more to the bike than that, it has lighter, deeper wheels so less aero drag, it has a proper stretched out racing shape so easier to stay in an aero riding position and pump power, etc.)

I digress, I was going to say it seems power isn’t measured by pure watts, but by watts per kilo. So my first (inaccurate) ride of the Sufferfest fitness test (4DP) when I was 11 stone 5, put my FTP (Functional Threshold Power, = sustainable max) at 154W. Or 2.16W/K

I’ve just got a proper power meter and did an accurate 4DP test yesterday. This time I was 10 stone 12 and FTP 199W, which is 2.88W/K. Without getting any stronger, when I get to my target weight I’ll be 3.13W/K. Considering that’s likely to be 2 months, I expect to have a bunch more watts as well by then.

I was watching a vlog of this young man, skinny cyclist build, mad for his bikes, saying he had a FTP of 225W. He did a three month training plan on the Trainer Road (like Sufferfest but without the fun) and went to 288 watts! I’ve got about 19 months before Bolton. I’ve just been found a cycling comparison site, and it says if I could get to 280W and 10 stone (63.5 kilos) which would make me 4.4W/K, I would be in the top 12% of cyclists!

Now that is something to aim for! I’m already in the ‘not bad’ group for running, (or was) with plans to break into benchmark territory, if I got to be a good cyclist as well.. Wow.

Which just leaves the swimming. There are no pools open, but I’ve just heard you are still allowed to swim in Pickmere Lake. Literally only found out a few hours ago, so I’ll have to recce and see where I am. It will have to be at a time when Wendy isn’t using the car, probably. But the opportunity is there for proper wetsuit swimming. It’s a bit scary (freezing cold winter swimming, and I don’t know the drill. Parking, access, swimming) but as the Sufferfest say, look for the opportunity.

Week 3

Things have taken a turn for the pear shaped.

I’ve managed to keep up all my Sufferfest training. Mental toughness, yoga and the actual bike training. But my weight loss stalled. The plague weakness is making it impossible for me to stop shoving food in my gob.

I’m trying to take a revised view of my plans. Try not to eat too much on weak days, (tons of fruit and veg to try to bulk out) then make gains (or rather, losses) on the better days.

In the first week I lost 5lbs, since then I’ve regained 2 and lost a 2 more. I got up to 11.5, today I was 10.12.

It going in the right direction.

Obviously there has been no swim training due to the lockdown.

I gave in this week and bought a power meter so I can do the fitness test (4DP) on the Sufferfest, accurately.

I did it today. An hour’s beasting, containing within it 2x 5 second max efforts, a 5 minute max effort, a 20 minute max effort, and a 1 minute max effort.

Individually not too terrible, one after the other… wow.

The inaccurate power reading I’ve been going off had my maximum sustainable effort as 154W (measured over 20 minutes) today I held it to 199W. I think I had a bit more in the tank. Slight gearing issues (had to set the other bike up on the trainer and change the gear cassette, don’t think I did it right) meant I dropped into no-gear a few times, and had to quickly build my power back up again. Also the power meter is fitted to the left hand crank arm. If you’re right handed I assume you put more power through your right leg,so I had to keep remembering to concentrate on my left leg stroke. Otherwise I was working just as hard but my left was just carrying the power round from my right, so it wasn’t registering.

Anyway, that’s nearly a third increase in my power settings going forward. Which puts me at 2.88 W/Kilo, for the same power I’ll be 3.13 W/Kilo when I’m down to 10 stone.

I was watching a vlog from some young guy, looked like a mad-for-it cyclist, said he’d started a 3 month training plan with Trainer Road (a no frills training app) and had gone from 224W to 286W!

I’ll stick with the Sufferfest to get myself fit and used to pushing through the pain. I really like the way they beast the best out of me. But when I get fit enough I’ll try the Trainer Road.

The Sufferfest has videos with a story, and loads of encouraging messages, that cajole and demand greater efforts from you. And it has a sense of humour, which good in the dark places. The Trainer Road has nothing. It’s just a rolling bar chart. This much power at this many revs for this long. Times however many.

Apparently there are thousands of different training plans, and lots of top people recommend it, but it looks as dull as ditch water. I’ll see what sort of gains I make in 3 months on the Sufferfest, then give it a go.



Crossroads

I started so full of beans last week. I had goals, I had a plan to get them and the will to achieve. I lost 5lb in my first week, I was battering the Sufferfest and all was going great.

Then a day later I started coming down with the plague weakness in the evenings. It smashes you. You just have to eat. Well, I just have to eat. Wendy manages to woman-up and tough it out. I put on 2lb which, with more weakness, took me all week to lose again.

Then I had a bit of a debacle with the swimming. They said my card was declined over the ‘phone, and that I’d have to pay at the door. I went to Sainsbury’s straight away and my card was fine in the cash machine and contactless, so I don’t know what the issue was. Anyway, seeing as they wouldn’t accept my card I pedaled to the baths for my booked swim with the money. They don’t accept cash. What? So that didn’t happen. I couldn’t be bothered doing it again the next day as that was the final one before it was shut for at least a month. I was thinking I’d commit to training and get a membership when it re-opens. It was only about £19 a month last time, and it’s £4.20 a swim so it’s the way to go.

I’ve been doing my Sufferfest workouts. I don’t feel bad at the start of the day. But here’s the rub, after the last two long rides I’ve been completely wasted. I’ve been trying to work out if it’s a serious energy crash from dieting and exercising, or plague. I did a 2½ hour ride today with 2x 25 minute hard (ish) blocks. By the end of the ride I was weak.

I read a few articles on Long Covid last night, by far the most common symptom is chronic fatigue, and there were several mentions of the theory that the recurrent bouts could be triggered by exertion.

That is not good. That is very not good.

The thing is, at the moment it’s a brand new virus, and nobody knows what it does, or how it does it, or for how long. If you read the list of things it can affect it’s just crazy. It does whatever the hell it likes. Brain damage, organ function, lung damage, nerve damage, toes, hair loss, you name it, it can do it. Now they’re comparing the plague weakness to chronic fatigue, autoimmune issues and M.E.

All of that is by the by, my point is, there are no answers yet because it hasn’t been around long enough for them to collect data from beginning to end. The effects of the first wave are still happening.

It has raised some very awkward questions for me, though. I’m going to have to monitor my workout/ weakness and see if it is a direct correlation. It’s rest day tomorrow, so, assuming it goes off tonight, I can start the test straight away.

I am really, really hoping this is not the case. It could potentially mean me giving up all sports. It’s not worth being wasted all day for one training session. Especially if I’m weak after just 2½ hours. That’s not long enough for me to train for, or attempt, any of my goals. I need about 14 hours of endurance in reserve for an Ironman, 3 hours flat out for my goal marathon, and 9 or so hours a day for the Lands End- John O’Groats.

As I say, at the moment it’s all speculation, but at first glance that would seem to answer why it is that I get it so much more frequently than Wendy, when intuition would suggest that being fitter I should get it less. There was other cheery reading, that this could be a permanent condition. And that, as it’s possibly autoimmune related, even if it goes off, it could be triggered annually by less serious seasonal viruses.

As I say, all guess work, but we’ve had this since April, that’s 7 months. At some point you have to consider that this just isn’t going to go away.

I’ll not lie, I’m a bit miffed about the whole thing. I didn’t sign up for this. I heard it was a 7% mortality rate, liked the odds and wanted to get it over with. Live or die, get it out of the way. Nobody said anything about whole-of-life conditions. To be fair, nobody knew, but that’s not the point.

One thing though, a few of the doctors were saying you should be pushing to build your endurance and regain your lung capacity and such. Working to get yourself back to fitness. Which is what I’ve been doing and desperately want to continue to do.

I’ll just have to monitor it and make my own mind up. I only read of the possible link yesterday so I need to see if it is the case.

Next day…

I was waiting until I had my (second) hearing at work before posting this, but apparently that is just a stage, the next, and presumably last, stage is the disciplinary hearing which they said I should get by the end of the week. The good new is there are some permanent jobs out there, that look OK. Not as good as the one I’ve got, but OK. *sigh*

In other news, the Sufferfest, as part of the mental toughness programme, had me list my goals, define my personal Mount Sufferlandria, and plan towards it. OK, all well and good. Then, to keep your goal crystal and fixed in your brain for when the urge to quit is at it’s worst, they said I had to write down the reason I wanted it. WHAT? Seriously, WHAT? I’m better at clarifying my thoughts when writing them down so I had a go:

“Why. You. Want. It.

My first thought is to say “I don’t know/ absolutely no idea” but that smacks of negativity.

So here we are.

Why do I want it?

Bolton (one of the hardest) Ironman

Lands End – John O’Groats

Sub 3 hour marathon.

First observation: those are all events that other people consider benchmarks. Is it a need for recognition and approval? Certainly not on any conscious level. The thought of it being that makes me despise myself just a little bit more.

I started all this fitness lark just to pass the army run test. Then found I quite enjoyed it. And thought I could do better next time. Then someone on twitter said about a half marathon and that was a massive challenge, did that and suddenly it wasn’t a big challenge, it was something even I could do, so 9 months later I did an Iron distance tri.

Perhaps it’s to do with me not being able to feel pride in my accomplishments, so always looking for the one big enough that I’ll be happy and proud of myself? Again, not consciously. I never expect to achieve that and I’m not sure it’s even possible for me, though I’m sure it would be nice.

I read a book in which people had 7 lives and then the bits of them that were interesting and unusual enough to distinguish them from the humdrum of the herd were kept alive in the virtual reality afterlife. That appeals on some level. A life less ordinary. I want my life to be a catalogue of extraordinary events.

Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. It’s not other people’s recognition, or contentment and fulfillment I’m looking for, it’s just a narcissistic, vainglorious, futile attempt to give my life meaning.

Well, that wasn’t so hard.

Cool.

Crack on.”

I’m a guru of navel gazing insight. Pity it only applies to me or I could be rich!

Well, on to Twitter. It’s been a great week!

The man who was sued for not renting to black people, who said nazi protesters were “very fine people”, who left his wife when she got cancer, is accused of rape by his second wife, has 26 allegations of sexual assault against him, who slept with a porn star whilst his trophy wife was having his child, who is alleged to have attended paedo sex parties arranged by his good friend Jeffery Epstein, who told nazi militias to “stand back and stand by” in case he lost, has finally been booted out of office.

I don’t know much about his successor, but he’s not Trump. The slide into fascist demagoguery has been suspended. Not without last minute shenanigans. Trump tried to stop the postal votes, closed voting stations in predominantly black areas, and reduced opening times at the polling stations that were left open. He failed.

When it became clear he was losing badly he called for the count to be stopped.

His redneck white supremacists tried to invade a counting station to stop it.

In final act of moronic incompetence he tried to rally support in Philadelphia by holding a press conference at some famous luxury hotel, The Four Seasons. Being Trump they turned up at the Fours Seasons Total Landscaping, a garden management company. Rather than admit the error they held the press conference in the car park. Four Seasons Total Landscaping were quick to capitalise.

The (non-racist) Philadelphia residents turned out to make sure Trumps Brown Shirts didn’t get uppity.

CNN had a bit of a hoot honestly captioning Trumps tantrums.

But in the end sanity prevailed.

Oddly enough, as soon as draft dodging Donny Bonespurs was out a job, Boris Johnson said he was going to negotiate with the EU after all. And not show contempt for the rule of law. Can’t think why. Then he backed down on starving kids over the school holidays.

Away from the Poundshop Hitlers, Twitter was more fun.

A bit of feel-good news. Some guy with Downs Syndrome (and a pretty good sense of humour) became the first person with the condition to finish and Ironman. Go Chris!

And my new favourite account, @dinoman_j.

Plague update before I go. I haven’t done any exercise today. I was fine this morning, troughed like a herd of starving swine at dinner, and I’m starting to feel weak again. Not badly, but certainly not a calorie crash. *deepest of sighs*

Right, I’m out of here.

Later,

Buck.