Rest Day

Lots of errands to run today before I return to work, also my calfs were still tight from yesterday’s run. I felt today would be the best time to fit in a rest day. I’ll have two 4 hour cycle commutes on Thursday and Friday, and I hope to build-in some runs over the week-end.

My energy intake comparative breakdown [planned verses (actual)] according to diary logging on was:

  • Breakfast 500 Kcal (actual 500 Kcal)
  • Lunch 500 Kcal (actual 600 Kcal)
  • Main Meal 600 Kcal  (actual 600 Kcal)
  • Snacks 150 Kcal twice daily (actual 40 Kcal x 3 – coffee)

Total: ≈1,700 Kcal

My planned macronutrient ratios were 24% Protein, 28% Lipids and 48% Carbohydrates (closer to 30/30/40 – P/L/F). I’m finding it difficult to hit my protein goals, which is restricted by the combined fats (nuts) and sugars (legumes) in the main high protein foods. One of the easiest ways to up my protein content without adding too many other macronutrients is drinking smoothies. One plan may be to eat smaller meals and have post workout shakes, made with 50/50 – water / plant based milk.

Although I did not have a workout today I needed to run errands and knocked up around 200 Kcal energy expenditure according to Strava. My Garmin Vivosmart HR tells me I have used 2400 calories including physical activity and resting metabolism. This means I have around a 700 Kcal deficit today.

Tomorrow I plan to cycle first thing, doing around 15 miles at a tempo pace and then have an extended flexibility session to work out the knots in my calfs in preparation for the park run on Saturday and a long run on Sunday.

Day 1: Event Training and Weight Management

The objectives: (and no they are not SMART):

  • Increase comfortable running distance (for Brighton Marathon 2017)
  • Increase upper body strength (for Tough Muddier)
  • Maintain cardiovascular health
  • Avoid Injury (especially leg)

The measurable parts of these will be included in spreadsheets monitoring vital statistics and exercise performance.

The Plan:

  1. Maintain cycling mileage of at least 100 miles per week
  2. Weekly HIIT runs and long runs of increasing distance and intensity
  3. Twice weekly upper-body-workouts with increasing resistance and intensity
  4. Daily core and flexibility exercises
  5. Add 800 Kcal of exercise 6-days-a-week (one rest day)
  6. Maintain a 500 Kcal daily deficit through a 1900 kcal gross intake
  7. Maintain a high protein macronutrient ratio of 30% fat, 30% protein, 40% carbohydrates

The nuts and bolts:

  • Schedule exercise plan on google calendar
  • Spreadsheet to monitor vital statistics, diet plan, exercise plan and execution

The day has had its ups-and-downs, food wise all is good, very good, maintained the nutritional plan of being under 1,900 Kcal, although not intended energy intake for the meal breakdown:

  • Breakfast 500 Kcal (actual 400 Kcal)
  • Lunch 500 Kcal (actual 600 Kcal)
  • Main Meal 600 Kcal  (actual 750 Kcal)
  • Snacks 150 Kcal twice daily (actual 40 Kcal x 2)

Total: ≈1,800 Kcal (approximate based on estimated from [MFP])

I did not hit my planned macros, mainly due to adding a tin of coconut milk to imy evening meal, adding 28g fat and a total of ≈300 Kcals to my total energy intake, leaving a ratio 20% Protein, 30% fat and 50% Carbohydrates.

Exercise execution was not ideal, with my morning run resulting in a tight / sprained calf, which I spent the rest of the day stretching as it stiffened up! My planned evening upper body workout was uneventful, and further demonstrated I have zero upper body strength and may need to be increased if I’m to be properly prepared for Tough Muddier! I was pleased to be able to stretch and foam roller my calf to a bearable condition. Over the day I managed 135 mins of exercise with an estimated (MFP) 900 Kcals of exercise-energy-expenditure.

The flexibility workouts will be essential to prevent leg injuries caused by running, which remains my Achilles Heal (pun intended). The planned tempo / HIIT running workouts might need to be substituted with plyometric exercise as an alternative to build on leg strength and improve running speed / power? Key next steps are to schedule all activities into google calendar and complete diet and exercise spreadsheets.




Shaftesbury Spring 200 – a recount!

I committed to this event with a social media friend called Ross we met by chance passing through Harrold-Odell. We ended up following each other on, and he wanted to try out the dark art of ‘Audax’. Ross and I departed from the event HQ in Ugly Essex a few mins after 8 am. We were one of the last to leave, but soon caught up with a group who we cycled with till the first stop at a cafe in St. Neots. On leaving St. Neots we joined a ‘fellowship’ of riders which didn’t part with until after the last control with only 36 km to the finish.  The day offered perfect touring conditions, intermittent sun, no rain throughout, although there was a slightly challenging headwind at times.

In the early part of the first loop I did my obligatory touring-tumble. Coming too close to the side of the road, I hit a tump of mud doing a sideways roll into the grass verge. Leaving me with a tender hip for the rest of the ride. I was up within moments and quickly caught-up with the group I was riding with at the time. The worst part of the accident was the bent rim on my brand new pedals.

Towards the last third of the first loop I allowed myself to bonk! Desiring to challenge myself, I aggressively attacked the hills and headwinds. I pushed into them with the desire to overcome that I would usually  reserve for training rides. I knew I was exhausting my supplies of glycogen and I would soon be running on glucose and my bodies reluctant necessity of using fat stores. Even knowing I was on the verge of a ‘bonk’, I’d ran out of the will to munch and drink. I soldiered on, even knowing that, the 30 mins it would take for fat-metabolism to kick-in wouldn’t save me now!  My sugar and salt ladened drink now all-gone, & I honestly couldn’t face another Cliff Bar! The bonk fog filled my mind followed by waves of defeatism and paranoia! Only the knowledge of bonk symptoms prevented me from crawling-into-a-ball on the next comfy looking grass triangle! My understanding of the bonk, combined with the hope of a savoury salad-roll and plain unsweetened water kept me pushing in and holding on. At long last the clubhouse presented itself and the dream of 20-30 mins of relief could now be realised!

I’m usually very conservative when riding long distances trying to conserve myself for a push, if needed. What I hadn’t added to my equation was the headwind that was sapping my strength. I entered the last 15 mile of the first loop empty and drained. Each rise made me lose the pack and left me fighting the headwind alone without  a slip-to-ride. I would slowly catch the pack only to be left-behind at the top of another hill, needing to spin my legs like a hamster on a wheel to catch-up and enjoy being shielded from the wind!

At the start of the second loop, that burning, numb sensation in the legs that occupies the mind returned! Ankle, thigh, buttocks and toes all burning! Lactic waste pooling below the waist as my body struggled to remove or use the surplus in my lower limbs. We hit the return part of the last loop and I was dreaming of the relief of stopping at the next control point. For most of the second loop I lost the comfort of my comrades (especially their slip wind) and knew the headwind would continue until we made a northern turn at the control point.

Ross humbly stayed with me for the last 36km as I dutifully dragged myself back to the event HQ. Even though this was his first ride above 110 miles he fared much better than me and was strong till-the-end.

This was my fastest Audax to-date and I was pleased to have completed another event on my trusty fixed-speed bike. Lots of lessons learnt and looking forward to my next audacious cycle ride!

Kick Start 2015

Kick Start 2015, 12 days of fun and challenges…

Kick Start Course 2015


This taster session involved both staff and previous students, who took on leadership roles as course mentors, giving an overview of the programme and encouraged the students to try out some of the activities.  This session also gave students the opportunity to meet the team members and ask questions.  The highlight activity was organised with Inspired Life using their Paddle Machine. Course mentor Hannah knocked up an epic time paddling 100m in 22.03secs, beaten only by Richard from Inspired Life. It was good to see that all those who took part in the challenge tried to improve their performance. It was also encouraging to see the Bedford Academy staff taking part in the activities.   All this was done in a very relaxed atmosphere. We were all inspired by Richard’s Olympic medal and his stories about changing his whole life and hope this will be our story!

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Kickstart – Morphing Minions Video

Minions movie twist! In the original movie the minions play a smaller part in the production but in our own twist the short movie is all about the Minions. To explain it briefly, a minion becomes lost and then becomes deadly ill and the others have to save him from it. Here’s how we did it

We learn’t how to work together by listening to each other, through a discussion and sharing ideas and views. Exploring roles, timings, responsibilities, also exploring our skills and abilities. Once we had established our abilities and roles we matched these together and gave the team members job titles.

Chantal was the producer, Dan took the role of model maker, Rhys technical department and Ethan cameraman. Chantal lead the team in designing a project plan and schedule. Then the filming began! 400 pictures later we’d produced a 45 second animation.

It all worked really well, because … we all worked together and what we wanted panned out in the end and we produced this video. It’s not perfect but not bad with an old camera, gooey stuff and only a couple of hours. Watch the video here:

Kick Start 2015: Inspired Life on the River

It was a perfect day for a trip down the river, gentle breeze, slightly overcast, interspersed with brilliant sunshine. We arrived at the boating lake to be greeted by Richard and Ashley from Inspired Life. They gave us a dummies guide to canoeing and we were off. After a lot of fun cruising down the prettier parts of Bedford by river we arrived safe and dry at our lunch spot. Refreshed by lunch we all threw ourselves in the river, which was wake-up cool! We all swapped canoes and those that had tried Canadian canoeing or paddle boarding shifted to kayaking. We made our way back and now felt comfortable enough with each other to rock-the-boat. A few of us were ‘helped’ into the water by our team mates! We finished off with a quick lesson from Richard on how to help a capsized canoeist and use a tow rope. The day ended on a high and looking forward to the next 11 sessions.

Kick Start 2015 Taster Event

Great taster session with Inspired Life, using their Paddle Machines. Course mentor Hannah knocked up a epic time paddling 100m in 22:03 sec. The fun and adventures will continue on 6th July where we will be canoeing with a real risk of dampness! We were all inspired by Richard’s personal challenges and growth and his Olympic medal taking his African team to victory at the 2010 Olympics!

The Kick Start 2015 Programme will be running throughout July into August, those young people interested can still enroll, but places are limited. Please contact Kathy or Darshan at First Place Training for enrollment criteria and further details. Tel: 01234 262004 or e-mail:

The first session is on 6th July 2015 at:

First Place Bedford,The Mansards, Tavistock Street, Bedford, MK40 2RX

Keeping in Shape When Pregnant

One big question when you’re pregnant:

What can I do to maintain a healthy level of activity. What are some safe exercises I can do?

If you’re reading this and you are pregnant then congratulations! Even if it’s your fifth! There are so many benefits to pursuing a healthy level of activity during pregnancy. Keeping active is a great way to prevent some of the common conditions and problems that can accompany pregnancy. You’ll be preparing your body for delivery, and helping to speed up your recovery afterwards.

What is a workout during pregnancy going to look like? First of all stick to what you’ve been doing. Don’t push your body into activities it isn’t used to performing. If you’re a runner, continue to run, keeping pace and distance easy and if you must moderate. This is not the time to start improving your 10k personal best. There are lots of great forms of cardio you can do when pregnant:

pregnant_woman_in_poolWalking and swimming are probably the most accessible low impact activities for pregnant women.

If you are feeling adventurous then an elliptical machine or Nordic Walking are great forms of cardio too.

Try the best you can to schedule in exercise, that’s going to be hard if you already have other children, and work pressures, but at least 30 minutes-a-day is a good goal. Although cardio isn’t the only form of fitness to focus on. If you can focus on a few key areas when exercising, these would be core strengthening, maintaining muscles in your bottom and legs, and strengthening shoulders and neck muscles.


During pregnancy the core muscles going down the front of the abdomen become stretched and stop working as efficiently. This means other core muscles have to pick up the slack. One of the most important things you can do during your pregnancy is to strengthen those core muscles.

One exercise that can help strengthen your core, specifically the pelvic floor muscles, is a kegel ball squeeze.

Kegel Ball Squeeze

  • Lie on your back (or sit at a 45-degree incline) with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Place a small medicine ball or pillow in between your knees.kegel ball exercise
  • Keep your back flat throughout the entire exercise.
  • Contract your pelvic floor muscles and squeeze the ball, holding for five seconds. To activate the right muscles pretend that you have to stop the flow of urine.
  • Keeping the ball in place relax the ball squeeze and your core muscles, repeat this 12 times, have a rest for 20-30 seconds and do another 2 sets of 12 resting between sets

These are typically done on your back, after the first trimester the move should be modified, and performed while seated at a 45-degree angle.

Bottom and Leg Muscles

During pregnancy your belly grows, and your abdominal muscles stretch. These muscles will become less-and-less capable of absorbing force and stabilizing your body. Increasingly your body will be depending more on the muscles at the top front of your legs (quads) and and the muscles in your bottom (glutes).

Moves that strengthen and elongate these muscles are essential, inner thigh squats are great for this.

Adductor or Sumo Squats

  • Place your feet slightly more than shoulder width apart, with your toes pointed outwards at 45-degrees. Turn out with your hips not your knees, with weight through your heels.sumo squat pregnant women
  • Start to squat by bringing your hips back, like sitting on a chair, that is too far behind you. Try to move your knees out behind you as you squat.
  • Sink down as low as you can comfortably squat, then push back up through your heels.
  • If you struggle to balance, use a chair or the back of an exercise bench in front of you for extra support.
  • Do this for around 12 repetitions, have a 20-30 second rest and repeat 2 more times

Shoulders and Neck

As a woman’s abdomen and chest expand during pregnancy, your centre of gravity shifts and forces the spine to adjust. Pregnant women are forced to round their shoulders and curve their lower-back to compensate. It’s important to strengthen your back to compensate for these issues. Moves with a resistance band, can strengthen the muscles in your upper and middle back and help combat the (forward) pull caused by changes to a pregnant woman’s body.

Standing Row

  • Loop a low to medium resistance band around a pole, tree, or an upright sturdy object.standing row pregnant woman
  • Stand up, feet shoulder width apart, knees soft, abs contracted, and arms bent at the elbows.
  • Keeping your palms forward, holding the resistance band. Imagine you’re trying to squeeze a pencil between your shoulder blades, but do so without changing the position of your back, bring wrists straight back with elbows pointing toward the ground and hold for three seconds.
  • Repeat for 12 times and rest for 20-30 seconds and then repeat for 2 more sets.

Exercising during pregnancy has so many great benefits, but always make sure to check in with your doctor before trying something new or if there are any moves or exercises you feel uncertain about.

Got a question for David? Ask in the comments below or contact him directly.

Losing Weight, Simply – one small habit at a time.

Weight loss is like being on a roller coaster: Up, down, up, down, round and round. It makes your head spin and you feel sick! We know that our weight varies a lot and at times feels out of our control. A more reliable way to impact your body weight that puts you in control is by committing to a few small, simple changes in your habits. By making small lifestyle changes you’ll keep moving toward your goal, and your small changes will build into larger ones that can permanently change your behaviour.

Winning Small Battles and Win the War

One reason small habit changes work is because you see results quickly. Each time you follow through on a small habit, you build your self-confidence. That way you know you are in control. When you’ve set-up a specific small habit you can lower anxiety about whether you’re doing “it right” or doing “enough.” For example, you decide to eat a vegetable every day at lunch, every time you do it you’ve achieved a goal, and grow in confidence.

Keep it Simple

Choose a small habit, something you can do without too much stress or major adjustments, remember to make it something you can do and does not depend on someone else.  This way you will set yourself up for success. Later you can ramp up that small habit to the next level for even better results. When eating a vegetable every day at lunch becomes a no-brainer, you can move to the next level of your goal. Now eat two vegetables at dinner every day!

Simple right, and that’s the beauty of making small habits, when one habit becomes routine, and then you can move onto another small habit. You keep moving steadily in easy steps that move you toward a big life changing results.

Connect with Something that Motivates

Changing old negative behaviours takes effort, you’ll need a good reason to make the next new behaviour change worth the effort. Improving your health is a great reason, right?  But if that doesn’t, try picking something more concrete and immediately noticeable. If you want to drink water instead of soda, one way you could motivate yourself is to save the money you’d spend on soda to splurge on something you don’t usually get for yourself. A new gadget? A weekend away? You can also make it about how you feel or think. Maybe you feel healthier and more natural when you drink water.

Create Positive Triggers

Triggers are often seen as a negative influence that leads you to an unhealthy activity. You might be feeling sad which could be a trigger to overeat. On the other hand you can pull the trigger and make it a positive influence. You can use triggers to remind you to do your chosen habit. These kinds of triggers can be simple, like setting an alarm, a well placed note or an event. But it must be a trigger that you’ll notice, and give you time to fulfill the habit. To trigger yourself to drink water, you could schedule a meeting with a ‘glass of water’.

Start associating your habits with something you do every day. I used to do a simple strength workout that took the same amount of time for the kettle to boil, so every time I had a coffee at home I’d do 10 bicep curls, 10 press-ups, 10 abdo-curls and 10 tricep extensions!

How to Stay Motivated

So, you have a specific, easy goal, with a powerful motivator, and a great trigger that reminds you to maintain your small habit, you’ll still have moments when you are tempted to give in, now it’s time to round up more reinforcements. You’ll need support for your new habit, time to tell a trusted friend or family member what you’re doing, and ask them to remind you why you’re in this game. This is a perfect opportunity for you to use Facebook, Strava, MyFitnessPal or other social media.

If you feel tempted to skip a workout or eat something you decided not to eat, simple planned statements like, “I always feel better after I walk” or “That doughnut is not part of my plan” can help keep you on track.

The small-habit approach won’t shed pounds overnight, it’s going to take time, but the changes will be deep and lasting. You can keep you on track without the jarring impact of a huge life change. Adding one small habit change after another leads to a powerful array of healthy habits that you can use to keep your weight under control and add years to your life.

Not all burns are created equal! Why Tabata rocks!

One thing that I encourage my clients to do is be ‘aware’ of their activity and nutrition, it is a process to keep ourselves ‘in-check’ a bit like balancing our cheque book at the end of the month. If we have been eating poorly or chaotically for a while it may be beneficial to keep a diary / log our activity and diet on a daily basis until we establish good habits. Whilst trying to work out his calories used, one of my clients asked me:

Does the rest period in Tabata Training count in my calculations of calories burned?

We’ll look at what Tabata is in a moment, but it’s a great question and difficult to explain, we need to start with the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise, which is like comparing setting off a fire cracker vs detonating plastic explosives.

When a fire cracker goes off there’s a loud noise and some heat, that’s about it. When you let off plastic explosives there’s a very loud noise, a lot of heat and a shock wave!

Aerobic exercise is like a fire cracker which lasts briefly, when you exercise your lungs and heart work whilst you exercise, when you stop you bodies’ metabolism recovers pretty quickly afterwards. When you exercise anaerobically it sends a shock-wave through your body, which has a lot of catching up to do afterwards, and this knock-on metabolic effect is often called ‘after-burn’.

Walking, running, cycling, swimming (not sprinting or hill climbing) are usually aerobic exercises. This kind of exercise is great for burning a lot of calories over a long period, these low to moderate intensity exercises carry less risk of injury, help with cardiovascular development, and stress busting, in fact the benefits of aerobic exercise are endless.

Anaerobic exercise is when you can’t talk or struggle to breath when exercising, obviously called high intensity exercise. When exercising like this we cannot, of course carry on exercising continuously. Our bodies need time to stop and recover , once rested we can go on and exercise again. When we ‘max-out’ when exercising then reduce the intensity repeatedly this is called ‘High Intensity Interval Training’ (HIIT). Tabata is a kind of HIIT, in-fact it is ‘painfully’ simple and works with the way the anaerobic energy systems work within our muscles (they take around 15-30 seconds to exhaust). Tabata Training is working with maximum effort for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest, usually repeated 8 times, 4 mins too-the-limit! One of the fuels our body uses during anaerobic exercise is glycogen, which is stored in our muscles. A well trained individual can have around 2000 calories of glycogen stored in their muscles and liver. If someone has not been exercising regularly their body may not have the stores of glycogen needed for the Tabata 20 seconds of maximal effort! This is why Tabata is best for people who have been exercising regularly, also with training your body becomes better at using the stored glycogen too.

Additionally, lactic acid can be produced in our muscles. When we exercise too hard for too long lactic acid builds up and gives the ‘burn’ feeling when exercising at a high intensity. The 10 seconds rest allows your body time to remove / metabolise the lactic acid that has built up as a result of the anaerobic burn. Although the 10 seconds ‘rest’ is not a rest for our metabolism which will still be working (using energy) to remove the lactic build up. As part of this process your heart and lungs continue to work hard circulating blood around the body to remove the lactic acid building up in your muscles, so in the 10 sec rest you’ll not see much of a reduction in your heart rate and respiration either.

When we use up the glycogen stored in our muscles during Tabata Training it needs to be replaced later-on, for a period of around 24-48 hours afterwards our body is working hard replacing the glycogen stores in our muscles. This means that our bodies are busy using the calories we eat making glycogen stores and not fat stores. Which also means the insulin in our body is being used to metabolise carbohydrate and not to help build up fatty deposites… Doesn’t Tabata rock!?

Oh yes, in answer to the question…

Do the 10 seconds of rest count when calculating calories ….
Hell YES!

Join a Local Tabata Training class