Just Give Me The Numbers

I’m trapped! Trapped at 36,000 feet (or just over 10k) up in the air aboard Air Canada 855 from London to Vancouver. Why am I heading to BC? For the wedding of a friend (and instigator of my return to running), who will soon be massive in the realm of food blogging on all things free from gluten, dairy etc etc. Check it out at Every Last Bite – the energy ball recipes come in handy post-run and are easy enough for a dunce like me to make!


As I race through the sky my mind wanders to my fears over the safety of air travel. I’m encased within a metal tube with wings, with a thin skin of aluminium between myself and 36,000 feet of empty air! 36,000 feet is roughly 10k, so should the worse happen I would at least achieve a new personal best for the distance. The only problem being that it would be vertical drop 10k ending with a splat and no opportunity for me to try and beat the time again. So to get my mind off all of that I think it might be worth writing about the first 6 months of my running odyssey. I’ve already talked about the downside of air travel, but for writing an airplane isn’t the worst place to be. A plane is surely one of the last places where you are happily non-contactable (my flight does not have wifi), so no distractions. If you can look past crying kids (easy once you have practice with one of your own), the bland ‘food’ that repeats on you and the terror of any turbulence (I don’t appreciate bouncing around with that much sky below me) then you’re in a decent place to get started writing. I reckon if I spent more time flying I’d have a novel in me. Maybe the unlikely feel good tale of a handsome 40-something on a glorious journey to Olympic gold in the 10,000 metres! There’s definitely an idea there, maybe I’ll start a kickstarter to pay for the flights!

Back to the point, the last 6 months by numbers.

Weight loss – 32lbs or 14.5kg (12% loss)

Lot of research says that if you lose 10% of your body weight then your cholesterol drops lowering risk of heart disease, while also reducing your risk of cancer and diabetes. So my 12% loss is very good, but those risks are a bit abstract, I can’t see my cholesterol lowering, it’s not like it leaks out of my ears at night and is all over my pillow in the morning. I need to see something a bit more tangible. That being the case, the biggest bonus of the weight loss for me so far is how delighted my knees are about it! All runners get sore knees, but when you start running and you’re heavy (I was 266lbs or 120.8kg) then it’s fair to say your joints ache. And mine were aching a lot, before, during and after. To the point where if I had listened to the pain then I would probably have given up running before February ended. If that had happened I’m pretty sure that the sensible eating would also have gone out of the window as well, leaving me heavier than ever. It might not have been the most sensible thing to run through the knee pain, but as I’ve got lighter the pain has eased considerably and if I do feel any discomfort then it passes quite quickly – so, shut up knees! It is said that for every pound you are overweight, that weight then exerts 4 pounds of extra stress on your joints. My knees now have 128lbs less stress on them, no wonder they feel better! Fun fact – that’s the weight of a new born giraffe!

Belly measurement – 6 inches smaller

I use belly measurement rather than waist. Especially as the famous male beer belly is what I am running away from. I started at 49 inches round (that’s really round)! The drop in 6 months of 6 inches is pretty significant on my clothes. My jeans have gone from a skin tight 40 to a comfortable 36. Work shirts now fit again, I did fear for my colleague’s eyesight in case the buttons around my middle burst off at sonic speeds and detach a retina or two. Not spending the day looking down at bursting buttons and the unsightly gaps between them is very pleasing. That along with slimming back into some of my work suits is giving me a very cheap wardrobe makeover – for now. With luck I’ll keep getting smaller and it will be time to buy new stuff!

Running pace – 1.86 min/km faster

I started in January with a run of 4.61k in 34.33 a pace of 7.30 min/km, and I was very happy at the time to have run that far. I’m not exactly Mo Farah now, but going from that pace to my July average pace of 6.11 min/km is decent. There’s no getting around it but heading out running on that first day carrying all that weight was daunting. Dragging yourself round the streets trying not to stop is hard enough (I did keep going that first time) but also being chunky and really filling my running jacket to bursting point there was a little bit of embarrassment factor for being out there wobbling around. I still need to lose more, but now when I head out for a run I know I won’t have to stop at any point (accepting a shamelessly promotional selfie for Instagram) and I won’t look like I’m struggling so much as my pace is that much quicker. Now I can even speed up towards the end – not quite to a sprint finish but enough to feel like the bell for the last lap is ringing. I started all this with the goal of running the British 10k. 10k was a distance I’d NEVER ran before in my life and it’s been hard both times that I’ve ran it so far, the 6-7k point is an absolute killer for me – my legs just want to curl up and go to bed (shut up legs). However the goal was achieved and the British 10k completed, without stopping as well! Next goal, run 10k in sub 1 hour. I’m about 1-2 minutes away from that now, so fingers crossed that will be reached in the next 6 months – my next attempt is the Run the River 10k along the banks of the Thames in September, take a look it’s for a good cause. If the course is flat I may have a chance, but I hear the stairs up and down on the bridges come into play – I’m betting there are stairs waiting for me at the 6k mark! When I break the hour I’ll have to dream up another goal, maybe time or maybe distance or maybe aim higher.

Got it! Maybe I’ll make that unlikely feel good tale of a handsome 40-something Olympic champion come true!


PS – totally unrelated, but safely got to BC. The flight was worth it, look at what a beautiful spot it is.


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