Tag Archives: cycling

Early bird or night owl?

3 Jul

I was reading an article in this month’s GI News – the Official Glycaemic Index newsletter, about the body’s clock, which operates on a circadian cycle (Latin for about a day). The biological clock controls our circadian rhythm—the physiological processes that occur repeatedly on approximately a 24-hour cycle. Some of these processes in addition to alertness include body temperature, production of the stress hormone (cortisol), and cognition (mental alertness, memory, and intelligence).

And this got me thinking…

Are we naturally a morning person or a night owl? Are we one or the other or can we be a bit of both? If we are naturally, say, a night owl, can we learn to become an early bird or are we going to be forever fighting against our natural instincts?

I do know that I operate much better in the morning than I do in the evening which is why I was schedule my exercise at the start of the day, not at the end, when all I want to do is go home. However, by morning I mean around the hours of 7am onwards, not the uncivilised hour of 5.30am, but circumstances mean that’s when I have to get up and get going.

But I wasn’t always a morning person. No siree, there was a time when the thought of getting out of bed before 10am was anathema to my very soul. In fact, just ask my mum or other girls at the boarding school I went to, or when I was living at nurses’ quarters when doing my nursing training! In fact, just ask a couple of the charge sisters of wards I was working on at the time, when it came to punctuality and the…ahem…morning shift (7am start)! Yes, there was a definite pattern of struggling to get up early but I could party the night away with the best of them!

Of course, having children changed all that but even when the kids were a bit older, I still had to drag myself out of bed around 7am. And I had a multitude of excuses as to why I didn’t want to exercise in the morning…and basically, I didn’t!

Then one day, 17 years ago I decided I wanted to take up running and so I enrolled in a 6 week course that would get me ready for the Canberra Times 10km fun run. There were several challenges involved with this – running, running 10km, entering an event, and exercising. Shock, horror – it meant I had to do ‘training’ – that word I had always associated with other people, crazy people really, not some muggins like me who had this strange idea that maybe they could run 10km! And to do this training, because I had children, I really had to get up early to fit it in my day otherwise it was never going to happen. I won’t bore you with the details but it took a lot of coercion, persistence and grumbling to get me out of bed and out the door at some stupidly unbelievably early hour each day to do my training. And there were lots of failures to begin with. You know, the shouldas, couldas, wouldas, but didn’ts! Mr CJ was very supportive, not that I perceived it as such at the time – he would dig me in the ribs when the alarm went off to ensure I was awake and getting up.

But persistence eventually paid off. Gradually, over time I began to find it easier to get up, get dressed and out the door and once I was moving, I was really glad I made the effort. The payoffs were that I became fitter, I felt better, my health improved, I had more energy and I could run!

Over time, I proved that I could change to be more of an early bird. However it has meant that I am no longer a night owl. By the time night comes around I am definitely ready for bed though I have been guilty of burning the candle at both ends, to my detriment. Trying to get by on less than 6 hours sleep eventually catches up with me – I am constantly tired, I start getting sick, I tend to eat more and it’s not necessarily healthy food I crave, I drink more coffee and so it goes. It’s true what they – early to bed and early to rise makes CJ healthy, wealthy and wise!

The early bird CJ was up and on the bike on the wind trainer at 5.30 this morning. It’s been a while since I’ve been on my bike because of the location of the hammie tear – sitting on a bike seat was not comfortable up until now. As it is, I can’t use the upright bikes at the gym because those seats are a lot wider and this does irritate the injury. However I had no such problems this morning. The session involved 10 x 1min hard gear (1min easy spin) with a warm up and cool down. After this I then had 4 sets of 15 reps of push ups, 20 dips, and 3 sets of 12 reps of reverse crunches, straight leg scissors and scissors crossovers.

Whew! All that before breakfast! 🙂



A+ report card

18 Jun

This afternoon I had my physio appointment.

Had there been any improvement?

More importantly, would I be allowed to run?

What would my report card say?

Flashback to 5 weeks ago: doing 100m intervals. On the last one for the night I overdid it and felt that telltale crunch or pop, followed by an immediate stop mid-pace. Diagnosis: torn hamstring up at the attachment. How bad we didn’t know, without an MRI. The decision was made to treat it conservatively and see how it goes. The first week it was so sore – couldn’t walk far, couldn’t stand for long, even sitting was painful, given where the tear was.

I have been a model student, doing my prescribed exercises. And slowly, ever so slowly, I could do more. Now? Now I can do weighted lunges, squats, and hamstring curls. I can walk briskly (a surprise to many, including me!), use a recumbent bike and cross trainer. I’ve also followed my 12WBT program, working around the exercises I could do and substituting for those I couldn’t. No excuses.

And now? Now I can introduce short intervals of running during my walks, whether on the treadmill or outside. Woo hoo! Progress! I’m to use discomfort as a guide as to whether to continue, slow down or stop. Common sense really. I can also get on a conventional bike. And incorporate step ups in my program.

I also have some neural stretches to do to prevent scarring around the sciatic nerve, as the hammie heals.

I have a glowing report card – I’m an A+ student who applies herself diligently. 🙂

So, tomorrow it’s my cardio day. I’m off to the gym in the morning for a combination of the bike, cross trainer and treadmill and now I can include some…running! 🙂 Glory be! Hallelujah! Woo hoo! And one helluva happy dance! 🙂


Upsy Daisy Day

8 Jun

Did you know that it is National Upsy Daisy Day today? No? I thought as much.

This day is a day set aside to encourage you to face the day positively, and to get up ‘gloriously, gratefully and gleefully’ each morning.

National Upsy Daisy Day, an “unofficial” National holiday (US) was created by Stephanie West Allen is 2003. Her desire in creating National Upsy Daisy Day was to make humor, laughter and a positive attitude part of the Upsy Daisy Day way.

To be honest, I can’t say that I got out of bed gloriously, gratefully and gleefully this morning. No sireee. Mr CJ was working this morning so got up at his usual time and brought me a coffee before leaving, at 5.20am. However, I didn’t have to get up for another hour as the pool/gym doesn’t open until 7am on weekends. This gave me an hour when evil CJ tried to convince me that I didn’t need to swim today.

That just a gym workout would be enough…

In fact, maybe a walk later in the day might be enough…

Despite the fact that today is my SSS.

Truly, I’m better off waking up just before the gym opens, have my coffee, get ready and go. No time for thinking. No time for evil CJ to think up lots of reasons why I don’t need to go.

So I used the 10 minute tactic this morning: show up, do 10 mins and if I’ve had enough, call it a day. It was really the swimming that I was resisting. I was okay with doing the gym workout. But true to form, once I got in the pool I forgot about the 10 min rule and completed my swim session: 1km.

This was followed by 6 x 25m of pool walking in the shallow pool.

Up in the gym I alternated between bike and treadmill: a total of 20min on the bike & 25 min on the treadmill. In between there were lunges, squats, push ups, bridges, SSS twisting crunches and planks. Total time in the gym: 1hr 04.55min.

Continuing with the new food/recipe challenge, I made kale chips this afternoon which were delicious. And tonight for dinner, with the lemon & chilli marinated pork and roast pumpkin, I am having roasted Brussels sprouts with toasted almonds. 🙂

So all in all, I think I had an upsy daisy day! 🙂

“Everyday is a gift and if we remember that as we rise each morning, it will help us carry a good attitude throughout the day, whatever the day may bring us. Life is full of challenges and bumps in the road, it is our attitude that helps us over the bumps and through the challenges to move onward with a smile.” – Upsy Daisy Day, National Day Calendar


The week that was: review of week 3

2 Jun

I can’t believe that it’s been almost 3 weeks since I started this round of 12WBT. It used to be said that to form a habit takes 21 days. However there seems to be a shift in thinking lately that it takes anywhere between 26 – 66 days depending on the habit you’re either trying to make or break.

However I have noticed that I’m not picking at food between meals, I’m trying to differentiate between head and stomach hunger (ie kicking the emotional eating habit) and most of the time I’m satisfied with less on my plate. It does help that the weekly menus offer up tasty options and for someone who loves variety, this program offers plenty of variety.

Not that I’m anywhere near perfect, no way, not by a long shot. Ask me again in 66 days! 😉

This was how week 3 panned out for me:

Monday – froze on my early morning walk. Note to self: wear more warm clothes! Dealt with a social event with amazing restraint. Diet coke anyone?!

Tuesday – apparently I’m an elite athlete according to a health check I had today! On the serious front, my cholesterol ratio is improving. This has been a long time coming. Had my weekly physio appointment and there has been some teensy improvement – I have been given the go ahead to use a recumbent bike at the gym!

Wednesday – lost 300g! Discovered that lentils and I have an uncomfortable relationship. Underwhelmed with dhal.

Thursday – weights session and 5 mins on the recumbent bike! Amazing how little things like this can make my day! Busy planning next weeks menu and exercise program.

Friday – a hungry day. The grumbling gremlins made their presence felt in the afternoon. Drove me crazy. But I didn’t attack the charity chocolate box (just thought about!)

Saturday – my version of a SSS – swim, pool walking, bike, treadmill and weights. The grumbling gremlins hung around again today. Deployed my secret weapon. I also made and ate an awesome chicken, roasted eggplant and capsicum roll with ricotta & baby spinach for lunch. Did the final 50 push-ups for a total of 300 for the week (two weeks now).

Sunday – rest day. Loved the smoked salmon cases with salad for lunch. Very fancy schmancy!

Week 4 – bring it on!

Those fancy schmancy smoked salmon & tomato cases with salad

Doing it my way

1 Jun

Super Saturday Session (aka SSS) today. So no sleep in but instead I was up early to get ready for swim and gym. I was wondering why on earth I was doing this, as I was drinking my coffee. I’m injured so surely that’s my get out of jail card? Well, no. Lame excuse really, but was worth a try 😉

First up was my swim session: 200m warm up, then 500m with pull buoy, and finally 500m without. Total: 1.2km

Next: 4 x 25m pool walking.

Gym session: I had to modify today’s SSS because I can’t do any of the lower body exercises such as burpees, lunges, etc (there is a god!). So I did things my way!

5 min warm up on the bike
Then 3 circuits of the following:
20 bridges
20 push ups
5 min bike
20 one arm rows (10kg)
20 dips
20 barbell shoulder presses (10kg)
20 barbell bicep curls (10kg)
5 min treadmill walk
Total: 63 min

The grumbling gremlins had started before I even left home this morning so the grumbles from my my stomach were almost deafening by the time I got home again 2 hours later! I was starving.

It’s been a wet, miserable and cold day – appropriate for the first day of winter. I’ve had to employ my secret weapon this afternoon to stop any unnecessary snacking. It doesn’t help that Mr CJ had bought a packet of chocolate coated marshmallows, waves them under my nose and then proceeds to eat them in front of me, one by one.


Operation Marshmallow to Muscle

13 May

5.50am: cardio session + abs
Session: 10 x 1 min hard efforts (1 min easy spin) bike intervals on wind trainer; 1min mountain climbers & squat thrusts with medicine balls; abs – 3 exercises x 3 sets; stretches
Time: 53.26min
AHR: 133; MHR: 221
Cals: 304

Operation Marshmallow to Muscle is officially underway. The soft squishy middle needs to go, or at least morph into something less soft and squishy. Muscles hopefully will be revealed.

So it’s goodbye…temporarily…to chocolate, magnum icecreams, sponge cake with jam and cream, and all the other tasty delights I have been…ahem…indulging in lately. Hey, it was Mother’s Day after all! But for the next 12 weeks, unless it’s on my nutrition plan it’s not part of my food consumption.

For the past few months I have enjoyed the luxury of not having to get up really early in the morning to exercise but instead I have been running at lunchtime or after work. Well, things are about to change…well not about to, they have! This morning I was up on my bike on the windtrainer at 5.50am doing a session of 40mins which included 10 x 1 min hard intervals. It’s been a while since I’ve been on my bike so yesterday afternoon I had to dust off the cobwebs and brush out the leaves that were caught up in the spokes. Mr CJ sprayed the bike with insect repellent so I didn’t experience any nasty creepy crawly surprises this morning.

Last night I prepared today’s lunch and cooked a couple of chicken breasts in preparation for tonight’s meal (chicken noodle soup). I diarised my exercise commitments for the week and then I breathed deeply. I can do this! I have a secret weapon for night times which are my downfall when it comes to snacking and when I tend to hover around the pantry and fridge. This secret weapon will be revealed all in good time. 🙂

This morning I weighed myself (gulp), took measurements (bigger gulp) and a ‘before’ photo (omigawd). However, these stats and the photo will remain private – a girl has to retain some mystery. 🙂

So the bike intervals were done – hot and sweaty work and 10 intervals seemed to take forever. This was followed by 1 minute of mountain climbers and then 1 minute of squat thrusts with the medicine ball. Can I just put it out there now that I hate mountain climbers with a passion. In fact, they are up there with burpees as things I don’t love at all. Anyway I started the mountain climbers at speed (stupid, stupid, stupid) and promptly died about 30 seconds in. How could it possibly be that only 30 secs have gone by? I did some more at a slightly slower pace. Still 20 secs to go. @#$%! Another one…or…two…or…three…done.quite.slowly…because I could hardly move at this stage! Ok, now let’s do some squat thrusts. Awesome! With a heavy medicine ball. Double awesome! Squat…now…what?! Stand up raising the heavy (did I mention this?) ball above my head. Do this for a minute. I cannot believe how out of practice and out of shape I am. Running certainly does not prepare one for this. Trust me on that.

Okay, now I can lie down. Thank goodness. Yes, yes, I know…it’s not rest time, its abs time. Three sets of three different abs exercises. I watch the video for each ab exercise intently and then try to mimic the action. Somehow I don’t think my efforts quite replicate Mish’s graceful actions but hey, it’s close (ok I look like a dying bug), and you know what, right now close enough is good enough.

Finally it’s time for stretches. Now this bit I like and I can feel the stretches doing me good. I confess I don’t do these stretches often enough so I will religiously do them as part of my program *cross my heart*. When the program says ’stretch’ I will stretch. 🙂

This afternoon I hit a brick wall figuratively speaking – yep, the dreaded mid-afternoon slump. I was almost face planting the keyboard. I’m blaming it on the early morning cardio session. I resorted to a caffeine kick (black coffee) as well as some afternoon tea (a designated, Mish-approved snack). Hopefully this is only a temporary state and I will soon get used to the early morning exercise sessions.

One day down; 83 days to go…

This morning’s breakfast – apple & ricotta toast

Two sleeps to go

23 Dec

23 Dec 2012_Lake Burley GriffinI can see a light at the end of the tunnel – this pre-Christmas mayhem will soon be over! But in the meantime it’s a case of navigate the car parks and then brave the crowds at shopping centres to find that elusive present. In my case, its been very bloody elusive! And thank god for gift wrapping services at the centres! They have been my saviour today!

This morning I went for an early morning bike ride. It hadn’t cooled down a great deal overnight but it made for pleasant riding and the traffic was practically non-existent. However I also decided that I didn’t want to have to deal with traffic this morning so I headed off along the cycle path to Lake Burley Griffin. I haven’t been this way in a very, very long time but I used to cycle it regularly years ago, when I used to work in Woden. The thing is, its a great cycle to Woden because it’s mostly downhill but what goes down must go up, and that’s what it’s like on the return trip!

A woman out walking 4 young labradors off leashes this morning had me slowing right down (and I wasn’t going particularly fast to begin with) and eventually stopping, as she wasn’t making any effort to call them back and they had absolutely no road (or cycle path) sense. I’m all for people out walking their dogs but please maintain some sort of control, especially when bikes are around!

On the return trip I was cycling along minding my own business when I looked up, refocused and looked again – almost coming face to face with a big roo on the side of the path. Again I slowed right down, preparing to stop, but he just looked at me and then bounded off in the other direction.

Tomorrow: the plan is to swim early and then face the shops for the final time. I’m also hoping to get down south to drop off some pressies to a good friend who I haven’t seen in ages. And tomorrow night, as tradition dictates in my household, I will watch the Christmas carols on TV, with a side of  GF fruit mince pies and Baileys to help them go down!  🙂

“TTFN Ta Ta For Now!” ― A.A. Milne

Nearly there

20 Dec
20 Dec 2012_friends

20 Dec 2012_friends

One more day to go and then I’m on three weeks leave. It can’t come soon enough!

This morning I did a short run of 6km before meeting the girls for brekkie, always the highlight of my week. Friends are very important and can make a huge difference in what could be a very ordinary, if not downright crappy, week. I met another friend for lunch at Two Before Ten, and while we were there another friend who I hadn’t seen in a very long time, and who is obviously pregnant, also popped in to buy some coffee. So I managed to catch up with 4 very good friends in the one day!

This afternoon I did a short but sharp bike intervals session consisting of: 5 minute warm up; 5 x (2 min hard [30s RI]; 20s sprint [1 minute RI]); 5 minute cool down.

Tomorrow: the plan is to swim before breakfast (1.5km). We are having a team lunch tomorrow and then hopefully we can get away earlyish afternoon to start our well-earned Christmas break. 🙂

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” ― Albert Camus


8 Dec
8 Dec 2012_today's ride

8 Dec 2012_today’s ride

That was the sound of Saturday rushing by. Why is it that weekends go so quickly and yet week days can drag, minute by painful minute!

The day started early with a cycle. The neighbour didn’t help – he was banging and crashing in his backyard as if he was constructing something…..at 6 o’clock in the morning. We must be a tolerant lot in this street because how no-one yelled at him is beyond me.

It was a pleasant ride, on a beautiful morning, along William Slim Drive to Barton Highway, then down Kuringa Drive and on to Kingsford Smith Drive, before heading home. Surprisingly I never saw any other cyclists out enjoying the lovely morning, just some runners. Plenty of traffic which was surprising,given it was early.

Met up with Ruth and Mr B for coffee this afternoon at Kingston & Co. And then by the time I got home, and brought the washing in, I decided against going for a swim. Tomorrow. There’s always tomorrow!

Tomorrow: the plan is to run and then fit in a swim somewhere. I have a feeling its going to be another busy day BUT there will be a sleep in! 🙂

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” ― Maya Angelou

Its starting to look a lot like Christmas

4 Dec

4 Dec 2012_I believe...Well, at work anyway – we still have a way to go at home. Work colleagues in my area had set up and decorated the Christmas tree and have hung tinsel and baubles around our bay. It was also a Christmassy afternoon tea today as it was the last day that all of us would be together  until after Christmas. Hence why I was baking blueberry brownies last night. Others had done the same so there was blueberry cheesecake (mmm I love cheesecake), peppermint slice, dips and chips and other nibblies. Our boss had bought us each a small gift which was sweet of her. I do seem to have this reputation for chocolate (I have no idea where they get that idea!!!) and received two blocks of 70% dark chocolate plus a bag of chocolate eggs. 🙂

Fortunately I had an hour of intervals on the bike after work so I definitely worked off some of that afternoon tea! And this morning I had a weights session at the gym.

Tomorrow: the plan is to swim before work and then run at lunchtime. The weather forecast is for mild weather before it starts heating up again by the end of the week.

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” – Mahatma Ghandi