Mar 2, 2015

Running involves more than just getting out on the road and putting one foot in front on the other. So I thought I’d occasionally address other issues in this blog, related in some way to running, but perhaps more relevant to many readers.

One of these is weight loss. Except in some extreme cases, runners run better when they are lighter. I’ve always found this to be true for myself. I don’t have a classical long distance runner’s body, so it’s more important for me than most that I keep relatively light. It was easy when I was running around the world, but not quite so easy when, for example, holidaying over summer with friends.

Although you’ll see many diets out there claiming all sorts of miracles, I’ve found there to be a simple basic rule if you want to lose weight – put less in your gob. Exercise is important too, but eating less is the major component in any weight loss program. However, the success of exercise itself can be quite variable. If you do the same exercise every day (or however regularly you do it) and at the same intensity, it will be less effective than if you “mix it up”.

If you do concentrate on exercise to lose weight (and, for many readers, I assume that exercise is running), try varying the intensity. Instead of running the same distance and same pace all the time, do some really high intensity stuff on occasions. My experience has been that my metabolism has been shocked to a noticeably higher level of activity when I add short extreme bits to my runs. The more intense, the better the result seems to be.

For example, go to an oval and run some flat out sprints – just a couple – till your lungs are bursting and you feel you’re at your absolute limit. I know it hurts, but you’ll only be doing it for a very short time. This whole partial session shouldn’t take more than a minute or two, but it has a very positive effect on your fitness and metabolism and, hence, on your potential weight loss. Be careful, though, as your muscles, tendons, and ligaments might not be as capable as your lungs.

And it doesn’t have to be running. Cycling, swimming, rowing, and other activities are just as good for intense exercise, and they’re easier on the joints, so these might be more appropriate for many.

But don’t think this is some magical formula that allows you to eat as much as you like and still lose weight. It’s simply a good adjunct to eating less. The two complement each other nicely. Employ both and you may see the weight falling off before your eyes.


On This Day


Mar 2, 2012

Distance today = 52.86 km; Total distance = 2851.18 km; Location = Calimesa, California – 34 00.969′ N, 117 05.917′ W; Start time = 0843, Finish time = 1618


Today was a day of highly variable winds. I headed off in very still conditions. At the 5 km mark, all of a sudden there was a massive gale-force headwind which hammered me for the next hour or so. It gradually swung around to be a cross-wind from the north, and by lunch-time had eased off to a moderate tailwind. If the intense headwind had continued all day, it would certainly have been the hardest day of running I’d ever encountered.

The skies were extremely clear and I was watched over by Mount Baldy all morning, replete with a very light cover of snow. It made the peak look like a pointy muffin top dusted with a sprinkle of icing sugar.

I am now about 120 km east of the centre of Los Angeles, and yet I still haven’t reached true rural landscape. I think it might come tomorrow, however, as I head toward Palm Springs. I pushed a little further today than I had planned, so that I finished within striking distance of Palm Springs – that is, within a single day of running. It’s like being within a 9-iron of the green.


Mar 2, 2013

Distance today = 53.10 km; Total distance = 17,316.53 km; Location = Lacaune, France (8 km west of) – 43 41.362′ N, 02 36.675′ E; Start time = 0858, Finish time = 1726


Today was like a mountain stage in the Tour de France. It started with some minor rolling hills, progressed to a serious mountain, followed by a steep decent, and culminated with a final mountain climb of well over a thousand feet, to the finish at the high point of the day. Take a look at the vertical profile in the link above.

I actually cycled this road 18 months ago. On that occasion, the free-wheel mechanism on my bike broke at the beginning of the first climb, and I was forced to ride the next 200 km (until I had it repaired the next day) with a fixed wheel – in other words, I always had to pedal, even when going downhill. I couldn’t keep up the pedalling on the long downhills, so I was descending with my brakes on.

There were some nice scenes during the day. The city of Castres looked quite appealing, and the town of Brassac is very picturesque (see the photos). I finished just west of Lacaune, which is also a cute French mountain town. Tomorrow is mainly downhill – a reward for today.

I forgot to mention in yesterday’s blog, about another internet issue. Carmel had booked into the lovely thousand year old former abbey hotel in Soreze, unpacked everything after dragging all the gear up the stairs, only to find that the internet didn’t work. As you know, internet access is vital to us for getting the daily info out. She ended up having to pack everything up and drag it back to the car, before heading on to the next town to find another hotel.

This was an unusual incident, but Carmel is behind the scenes (and the camera) every day, performing numerous tasks – administrative, logistical, manual (e.g. unpacking the car while I’m still running), driving, shopping for supplies, feeding me, taking photos, and the list goes on. It certainly makes the job of running so much easier.

PS I forgot to turn the Garmin back on today after stopping it at a shop in Castres. I have added back in the 1.07 km which I covered while it was off.