Tuesday, 28 May 2013

8 Hour VS 5:2 Diet - Let The Hunger Games Begin!

A few posts ago I reviewed the 8 Hour Diet and at the end called for guinea pigs that would want to try it out. Jo, a friend I hadn't caught up with in years (literally, we worked out it was about 4 years... very sad) facebooked me and put her hand up.  Full points for being brave, if not smart :D

I was then chatting with another friend over dinner and she mentioned that since I had looked at the 8 Hour Diet, I really ought to also look at the 5:2 Diet, the other (more) popular form of intermittent fasting.

5:2 Diet you say?

Why yes!

I jumped on line and did a bit of research, and the research interested me. While I will go into the diet in more details later, as the name suggests the basic formula is eat whatever you want 5 days a week and then have a very restricted diet 2 days a week (so not even real fasting!).

How restricted you ask? 25% of your required daily intake, which is roughly around 500 calories for girls and 600 calories for boys. Just to put that in perspective, an Australian MacDonald's Big Mac burger is 515 calories, without the chips or drinks (Yes, the number of calories does actually change country to country... more in Singapore, would you believe?). However, you would be amazed how much food you can squeeze into 500 calories if you really try.

So I posed to Jo the concept of a challenge - her on the 8 Hour Diet and me on the 5:2 Diet. Minimum two weeks: which was easier to live with and produced good results.

Sadly, can't directly compare them against each other in weight loss terms, as I'm still trying to train for my half marathon (yes, I haven't posted, but I'm still, sort of, with slightly guilty tones, training), and the other general personal differences between us. Also, I happened to start on Wednesday last week while Jo couldn't start until Saturday. As I didn't know this until I had already started fasting, I wasn't going to give up the hard work I had done already. But I'm sure you will forgive me.

But we will tell you all the gory details and leave you to decide. 

So, in the next post I'm going to outline for you the 5:2 Diet and why I think it's going to be the more practical and sustainable of the two. 

Then, at the end of each week Jo and I are both going to report in with how things have been going, any weight loss, and advice to those trying to follow in our paths.

The Hunger Games have begun... stay tuned for more!

Check out Jo's first check-in: 8 Hour Diet 8th Day Wrap!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Diet Plan Reviews: Lite'n'Easy

So far in diet reviews I've looked at the Primal Diet, and more recently the 8-Hour Diet (tune back in soon for more on that as my volunteer Jo starts reporting back on her experience).

Looking at a different type of diet plan today I'm reviewing Lite'n'Easy, an Australian meal delivery company. I've created a video so you can actually see what the food is like and how much you get to eat.

What is Lite'n'Easy?

Lite'n'Easy is an Australian company that delivers calorie controlled meals right to your doorstep. It can be used both for weight loss and just for those who want the convenience of nutritionally balanced meals without needing to cook.

How Does It Work?

The customer service aspect of it is fully automated through their website. You go to the site, create an account, and then each week you place an order for what you want. On the assigned day for your suburb, an esky with your meals will be delivered to your door step. They use dry-ice to keep the food cold for up to 8 hours, so if you are not there you don't have to worry (unless someone steals it.) The esky comes sealed so you can tell if someone has tampered with it. 
(I've used it while living in apartment buildings, and they appear not to have any trouble with leaving it common areas.)

As they state on their website:

Eating well and losing weight is easy with Lite n' Easy because all the thinking, calorie counting, weighing and cooking has been done for you by our team of experts.

On the full meal plan for example, you are provided with your choice of breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner each day. Each meal is prepared for you then packed separately and marked with the day it should be eaten

How it works pic 

 What is the Cost?

The cost depends a lot on what you order. The most popular options is the 'full meal plan' where you get absolutely everything that you need for either 5 days or 7 days a week, except milk, or 'dinners only', where they will deliver packs of dinners for those who want a good meal without the hassle. 

Here is the prices for delivery within Victoria, though it varies between states:

1200 Calorie Meal Plans (1200)
7 Day - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner$135.00
7 Day - Lunch, Dinner$119.00
7 Day - Breakfast, Dinner$106.00
7 Day - Breakfast, Lunch$82.00
5 Day - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner$106.00
5 Day - Lunch,Dinner$97.00
5 Day - Breakfast, Dinner$86.00
5 Day - Breakfast, Lunch$71.0

1500 Calorie Meal Plans (1500)
7 Day - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner$148.00
7 Day - Lunch, Dinner$131.00
7 Day - Breakfast, Dinner$109.00
7 Day - Breakfast, Lunch$89.00
5 Day - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner$116.00
5 Day - Lunch, Dinner$104.00
5 Day - Breakfast, Dinner$88.00
5 Day - Breakfast, Lunch$75.00

1800 Calorie Meal Plans (1800)
7 Day - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner$166.00
7 Day - Lunch, Dinner$145.00
7 Day - Breakfast, Dinner$112.00
7 Day - Breakfast, Lunch$103.00
5 Day - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner$131.00
5 Day - Lunch, Dinner$113.00
5 Day - Breakfast, Dinner$89.00
5 Day - Breakfast, Lunch$87.00

Dinners Only (Dinners)
5 Dinners$60.50
7 Dinners$75.50
10 Dinners$105.50
14 Dinners$136.50
21 Dinners$201.50
28 Dinners$267.50

Basically, for 1 person trying to cook well for themselves, it actually turns out pretty cheap. While I don't think I spend that much a week shopping for myself, when I add in all the lunches I buy at work, and the times I just nip down to the supermarket to pick up a few more ingredients, it quickly adds up. It is also much easier to budget if you pay for all your food up front at the beginning of the week.


It really is convenient. 

It is much healthier for you than eating out or just eating baked beans on toast all the time. 

The meals do taste good. 

For one person it is very cost effective.

It does save a lot of time and effort. Coming home and 10 minutes later being able to eat a balanced meal does have its advantages.

On the full meal plans, you get to eat every few hours which helps you resist snacking on other things.

There are no contracts or amount you must buy. If I know I have a busy week coming up, I can jump on line and order it just for that week, or if I know I'm going to end up eating out a lot, I just won't order it until next week. So flexible in that way.

Was just surprised to find out that when I typed in my parents' address, a country town an hour out of Melbourne, they do actually deliver there every Wednesday. And the small country town with a population of about 800 people I grew up in an hour out the other side of Melbourne is serviced on Thursday. So their reach is further than I thought.
(Out of interest I then tried as many out of the way places as I could, and the only one they didn't service was a town called 'Rainbow' that a friend of my grew up in, 400km from Melbourne with a population of 500. So sorry all you guys).


Major downside is that it is no good for vegetarians or people with any allergies. There are not enough meal options if you don't eat meat, and they don't tell you which foods have allergens in them. 
I was a bit disappointed with the fruit which is often under ripe or a bit bland. 

It can feel awkward pulling out your lite'n'easy branded containers at work and having everyone know.

It can be a bit fiddly to go through all the bags to find Day 1's breakfast in the fridge, then the freezer, then put all the bits together. There is also a lot of packaging, if you are worried about the environment.

If you forget to order it, you have to wait a whole week and because you'll have nothing in the fridge I at least tend to eat takeaway instead. As I tended to forget quite often, this was bad. 


If you don't supplement it too much (which I had a small habit of doing), it definitely does work to help you lose weight without much effort or thought on your part. If you don't mind eating what you're told, it is a very convenient way to shape up. It is also a good option for those who are living by themselves and not used to cooking for one. You will have a much more nutritionally balanced meal than you might otherwise. While I always planned much better meals in my head, compared to what I actually cooked after coming home late at night it is a big improvement. 

However, it is really is for a limited group of people with very little flexibility. Not having a vegetarian option seems strange to me now, even though I'm not a vegetarian. And not advising on allergens or having the options to say 'please don't give me any of... in my meals' limits it's use for some people.
But I have used it to successfully lose weight, and when I get stressed and know life is going to be busy for a while, I still sign up. 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Interview With Samantha Lilly - Australian Athlete for the 2013 World Dwarf Games

Sam in 2009 with one of her medals for swimming

Let me introduce Samantha Lilly, a work colleague who is flying over to the US in August to represent Australia at the World Dwarf Games. Until Sam started fundraising in order to pay her flights, I didn't even know there were World Dwarf Games. Sam has very kindly agreed to answer my questions about the games and how training as a person of short stature is different to other world athletes.

1.       Okay, pretending that you happen to be speaking to someone who has never heard of it before, can you give a brief history of the World Dwarf Games?

The world dwarf games are an international event, exclusively for those whom have a condition of dwarfism. The games in Lansing, Michigan, USA this year, will be the 6th international games. Previous cities who hosted the games include Rambouillett (France), Chicago (USA), Peterborough (UK), Toronto (Canada) and Belfast (N. Ireland). The sports offered are archery, badminton, basketball, kurling, soccer, athletics (track & field), boccia, shooting, powerlifting, floor hockey, table tennis, volleyball and swimming.

If you have anymore questions http://www.2013worlddwarfgames.org/

Similar to the Olympics - the WDG games are held every four years, and are awarded to a country and city via bids, proposals and suitability to hold the games. Melbourne has put in a bid to hold the 2017 games! Fingers crossed! Athletes stay in a 'games village' which is equipped with individual bedrooms, dining hall and an array of sports facilities.

(Go Melbourne!)

2.       Just out of interest, historically is the Australian team any good in world standing? 

Surprisingly, the Australian contingent is very new to sport on such a global scale. Belfast in 2009 was the first time Australia has sent a team to the games. We went not knowing what to expect, and did extremely well, considering. Australia only sent athletes whom were competing in swimming, athletics, basketball, powerlifting and boccia. In Belfast - 15 athletes were competing in an array of sports, and came away with a total of 24 medals. For our first attempt at sport on a global scale, we were thrilled.
2009 Australian team

3.       Tell us a bit about you, Sam. How did you get involved?

When I was born (24 years ago), my parents joined me up as a member to the Short Statured People of Australia Association - as a way of understanding that I wasn't alone. This enabled me to share experiences, ask questions. To me, this has been an incredible avenue for friendships, as well as an opportunity to play sport with people of my own height. This is something I never experienced at school or other sports teams.

For the first time, in 2009 Australia sent a team to the games. Being a competitive swimming - I decided to swim six events (crazy, I know) and managed to come away with five gold medals and a silver medal.

I was initially hesitant about participating in the games in Ireland. I have always struggled to accept the word 'dwarf'. Although it is medically correct - I do tend to find it rather impersonal and to an extent, trivial. I have grown up with 'short statured' being a term I feel more comfortable with. This however, is entirely personal preference.

Despite standing at just over a meter tall - I lead a very normal, healthy and happy life. I hold a full-time job (which she does excellently!), have traveled the world. I have a black belt in taekwondo, a degree, have gone sky-diving and have friends and family whom are incredibly supportive. I refuse to let my height stand in the way of a normal life and opportunities it may present. For instance, next year I am planning on doing a safari in Kenya, as well as some conservation work.

4.       What is the training program like?

The training program is ever-so hectic and at times, relentless. Balancing full-time work, and being an -almost-full-time athlete is very demanding and exhausting. Everyday after work - I will train, and I will attempt to finish for the day sometime before dinner. Coming from a swimming background - the intense and exhaustive nature of a training regime isn't a new experience. It is important to get adequate sleep each night, of a good quality and ensure that my diet is varied and nutritionally complete. I guess my bachelor of Food Science and Nutrition does help me out with this, and I am able to unleash my inner-nerd.
5.       Are there differences in training as a person of small stature? Is it harder to put on muscle, etc?

Yes & no! I feel that I will train just as hard as a person of average stature. However, I do feel fatigue is something I need to be aware of. Interestingly, people of short stature have intense trouble keeping their weight down. Remembering, legs are small - it is crucial to keep lean body mass at a minimum. This is done largely through diet.

Furthermore, stretching post-training is incredibly important. As my muscle length is quite short - due to short bones, it is extremely important to keep these muscles flexible. Otherwise, training is the same as any other athlete competing on a global scale.

6.       What’s the most common question you get asked when you tell people you a World Games athlete?

'There is such a thing?" and then "So, is that like the Olympics?"  and then "Wow - you must train hard" The answers are Yes, yes & yes! Prior to 2007, I hadn't heard of the WDG either - it is understandable that people are curious.

7.       If people want to support the team, how can they do that?

Due to the sparse geographical nature of Australia, all athletes have had to fork out a lot of money to attend training camps - hosted in various states in order to train together. This tends to be rather important when playing a team sport, such as soccer!

The team has received no formal funding to represent their country at the WDG in 2013. Therefore, the games experience does hit a rather sore-hip-pocket-nerve. The team is desperately seeking funds, in which other sporting teams representing their country are entitled to.

If anyone has any ideas on how they, or someone they know can support the team - please call me on 0400826912.

A gala dinner is being held in order to raise funds to support the Australian team - and an auction will be held (silent & vocal). At this dinner, the team will officially be presented and awarded their Australian uniform. If anyone has any items/services that are able to be auctioned - please give me a call.

If anyone is interested in helping out, feel free to email me at b.greentr@gmail.com, call Sam or email the Australian team's coordinators (listed below). Watching how hard Sam is training each day while managing a full time job is impressive and deserves all support she can get!

Here's more information from the Australian team's press release:

The 2013 World Dwarf Games will be hosted by the Dwarf Athletic Association of America (DAAA) and held between 3––10 August at Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA. The sixth World Dwarf Games will be conducted under the auspices of the International Dwarf Athletic Federation (IDAF) with recognised events sanctioned by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

Michigan State University will play host to this event which houses over 50,000 students and has one of the largest sporting programs in the USA. IDAF President Arthur Dean, has declared that ““the DAAA (has) presented us with world class venues, ready to host a world class event. (Our) dwarf athletes will turn it into a world class competition.””

Australia’’s Team Manager, Rob Millard promises that ““Team Australia is committed to raising the bar of competition, integrity and passion. Our athletes are fully committed to their preparations and are
focused on continuing Australia’’s sharp rise on the world stage”” he added.

It is anticipated that both national trainings and the games themselves will cost athletes individually
$5,000. Team Australia’’s fundraising campaign has a target of $160,000. The team welcome donations and sponsorship –– further information, including a full sponsorship proposal, can be obtained from the contact details below.

Samuel Millard, National Sports Coordinator: samuel.r.millard@gmail.com
Meredith Young, National President: young.meredith.e@gmail.com

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Half Marathon Training Week 4: When 'Recovery' Becomes 'Bludging'.

It Always Turns Out This Way
Okay, so this sort of describes my week.
Courtesy of stateyourbidnis on I Can Has Cheezburger

Yes, I've completed week 4 of the half marathon training program! (I completed it on time, it's just the posting that's been a bit late!)

Last week I discovered the difference between treadmill and trail. This week I discovered that a little bit of recovery is good, too much and it just becomes bludging.

The program is organised so that I take Monday, Friday and Saturday off. As it turns out, this is very different to taking Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off.

First of all, I want to stress the importance of proper recovery within a training program. However, while a lot of information is now out there trying to get athletes to actually relax, very little of it seems to be on 'how much recovery is too much?' Obviously they are dealing with people a lot more motivated than I am after a long day at work.

Recovery is an important factor in EVERY training program. However, two things I needed to remind myself (and so I'm also passing onto you) is that the length of recovery depends on the type of workout preceding it, and that 'recovery' doesn't mean sitting in front of the TV or drinking at the pub.

Scale of Recovery Times:

Basically, the harder you work, the more time your body needs to adapt. 'Harder' here refers to overloading your system. This can be through increased frequency, intensity, or duration of training.
If you are increasing any of these three, you need to factor in more recovery in scale with the increase.

How much more is a difficult question, because it is variable between individuals. Recovering from a hard session in 24-48 hours is good, but some people may take a few more days.

However, anything that builds up lactate or works your body longer than you are used to requires some recovery, starting at 24 hours and feeling on from there is a good place to begin. As you do more, you'll get to feel what works for you.

Having said that, unlike me last week, this doesn't mean just lying around doing nothing.

What Counts As Recovery?

First of all, there are a lot of steps you can be taking to improve and speed up your own recovery, including getting quality sleep, appropriate nutrition, massage, stretching, and heat/cold therapy. There is a lot of information around about how to uses these appropriately.

Recovery should start almost straight away, with a proper cool down and stretch which allows your body to start fixing itself up. Then, within 30mins of the end of a hard work out you should try to get some carbs and protein in to allow your body to start refuelling and rebuilding. That night ice and heat therapy maybe called for, though I personally can't bring myself to sit in an ice bath each night after working out. Then you need to get a decent amount of quality sleep. I need a lot more sleep than a lot of people, so work it out for yourself, but I found that for every solid hour of exercise I do, I generally need an extra 30mins of sleep to recover properly.

These are things you should be doing to reduce the time taken to recovery. However, even with all this, you will still need to go easy after hard sessions. But this doesn't mean doing nothing. Lighter easier sessions are still considered 'active recovery'. So, while I was lounging around doing nothing, I should have been out trying a bit of easy cross training, a gentle cycle or row. This would have got the blood flowing, and not let me get too stale.

The consensus among athletes appears to be one day completely off can be good. Two days off might be necessary on occasion, but three days completely off and they can see a noticeable decrease in their performance.

This Week's Training:

So, taking Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off, I hit the treadmill on Thursday for what was supposed to be a 40min easy jog, but turned out to be 32min (with breaks), finishing with me limping because my knee started playing up.

Friday was supposed to be 1 hour pace with 25 mins easy, 3 mins at pace followed by 1 min easy jog x 5, and then 16 mins easy. Yeah... went out for work drinks and came back after the gym had shut. So that was just a fail.

Saturday I managed the 45mins easy, though didn't feel quite so easy for me, and did take a short walking break.

But Sunday I did my full 1:20min long run breaking only at water fountains. I jogged from my house, down to the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne, did two laps of the Tan (probably Melbourne's most famous jogging track) and then back to my house. This is particularly impressive as at school we had to do the Tan for PE, and I never made it around. So, big sense of achievement there.

Sadly, feel that Mum and Dad's scales weren't actually telling me the truth. They told me that last week I had dropped a whole 1kg (while not being very good) and was 74.6. This week they told me I was 75.7. Hmm... So, need to stick to the gym scales, and start being much better about what I'm eating (also, not doing the proper training for a week might have had an effect.)

Interested in trying to lose weight? Why not be my guinea pig for the 8 Hour Diet? You'll receive a free copy of the book, and you just have to try it for a minimum of 2 weeks and let me know how it goes! (I have one kind person already signed up, just want at least 1 more for better results.)

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The 8 Hour Diet - Review and Giveaway

The 8-hour Diet: Watch the Pounds Disappear, without Watching What You Eat!

Okay, so while being locked out of my apartment last week, I settled in to my local library and read the current issue of Women's Health. I have to admit, I have lost a lot of respect for the magazine.

It is one thing to give contradictory information over the life cycle of a magazine, it's completely another to have contradictory information within the same issue. (It also irritates me that they never list research properly, and draw ridiculous conclusions that isn't what the researchers found.)

This was noticeable particularly in the article about the 8 Hour Diet, which they were hugely in favour of because you get to eat whatever you want, and it's all supported by research. Yah!

Unfortunately, their other articles about food and diet, including their expert advice, totally contradicts the 8 Hour Diet.

So, I thought I would look into the diet myself and see what the hype is about.

What is The 8 Hour Diet?

The book is written by David Zinczenko and Peter Moore, who have both written diet books before and both have been editors of Men's Health, which might suggest why Women's Health was so happy with it.

The basics of the diet appears to be pretty simple: you can eat whatever you want, as long as you also include the 8 superfoods, and you can only eat for 8 hours a day (for example that would be from 10am to 6pm.) You are also supposed to do 8 minutes of high intensity exercise just before you break the fast, to start your body burning fat (because it will have already run through all the glycogen stored in the liver). 

The theory behind it: that by intermittent fasting, your body adapts and becomes better at burning fat.

You can check out an interview with Peter Moore on YouTube for a general overview (though doesn't give a large amount of detail).

What are the 8 Superfoods?

The book divides the superfood (groups) into two types: fat busters and health boosters, and suggests having one of each at every meal.

Fat Busters:
- eggs and lean meats.
- yogurt and dairy
- nuts
- beans and legumes

Health Boosters:
- Raspberries and other berries
- tree fruits
- whole grains (quinoa, oatmeal)
- spinach and green vegetables.

So, you are meant to eat all of those, everyday, within 8 hours. But you can still eat whatever you want. As long as what you want include those foods.

Benefits of the Program:

It says you can eat anything you want (though see down-sides). 
It doesn't require huge amounts of exercise, which is great for those who don't like getting sweaty.
It doesn't require too many strange and weird tasting foods.
You don't have to do it all the time. Even just doing the intermittent fasting 3 days a week is supposed to bring about weight loss. Though if you do it 7 days a week, obviously it works faster.

Down-Side to the Actual Diet:

Okay, so accepting that the claims might be true for a moment, are there any downsides to this type of diet?

Well, first off, you don't get to eat for 16 hours a day, which for some of us is going to be hard. The book's advice? Distract yourself with tasks such as cleaning the toilet. ... um, right. That might put me off eating for a few minutes, but I can't see it getting me from 6pm until I go to bed.

Second, as Women's Health mentioned themselves in the same issue, it's not a great idea to do hard exercise on an empty stomach and then not eat for another few hours afterwards. All athletes know that you should try to have some protein within 30minutes of a workout. You might burn fat this way, but you won't be able to get back out there and perform so well tomorrow or the day after. So that means you can only work out between the hours you can eat, which is pretty difficult if you have a job. This might be why the diet recommends just 8 minutes of exercise before breaking the fast.

Third, despite all the claims of the diet that you can eat what you want, no calorie restrictions, Yoni at Weighty Matters did some number crunching for the suggested 7 day plan:

"Because his recipes include calories (I wish every diet book's recipes did, kudos to Zinczenko) I crunched every day. If you follow his 7-day meal plan, you'll average 1,595 calories. From a low of 1,222 to a high of 1,805."

For a girl, that's a restrictive diet. For a guy?  It's definitely not eating whatever you want.

Fourth, what about all the research and evidence (again brought up by Women's Health in this issue) that says skipping breakfast is bad? Why does the same not apply here? Or we just saying all that research is now invalid because this other research (not listed) says its okay?

Issues with the Actual Book:

First of all, I really dislike how it is written. It's just way too over the top and promises everything. Even just the covers are annoying:

"In just 6 weeks you're going to have your best body ever. You'll be LEANER, HEALTHIER, MORE ENERGETIC. You'll have the flat, firm belly you've always wanted. You'll sleep better, think more clearly-and have much better sex. You'll look younger, feel younger, and dramatically cut your risk of the major diseases of our time.

You'll lose weight faster than ever-as much as 5 pounds a week-without restricting calories OR giving up your favourite foods.

My best body ever? That is going to take more than 6 weeks pal. Also, as much as 5 pounds a week? That's 2.26kgs a week, which is seriously unhealthy. Healthy weight loss is half that: 1 kgs -1.5kgs. Despite claims that it doesn't affect muscle growth, I just can't see how without working out you don't lose muscle bulk.  (Though, prepared to be proved wrong on this). Basically, just putting every human desire into a paragraph doesn't actually mean you are delivering.

Second, despite repeated claims that it's all based on research, they don't appear to ever properly cite the research they are basing it on. This is really bad scholarship and as a university tutor, I give them an automatic fail.

Third, a lot of people claim that they have stolen the idea (which since they have cited any of the research they are basing their ideas on, they sort of have anyway). Compare the book's claims to that of Martin Berkhan who talks about an 8 hour diet back in 2007 on his blog Lean Gains:

"The basic idea behind this protocol is to provide nutrients at a time where they will be used for recovery and repair, being the post workout window. In order to receive the benefits of nutrient partitioning, the protocol consists of a fasting period, lasting 16 hours. This means you initiate your first meal 16 hours before eating the last meal on the night before (which is easily done by skipping breakfast and lunch). Thus, ideally all eating is done within an 8 +-1 hour timeframe."

Lean Gains appears to actually have a lot of good information, if you are interested in Intermittent Fasting in relation to strength and fitness (not just weightloss).


The book itself is a bit of a fad. However, I'm not ruling out that intermittent fasting might work for some people. So, I'm looking for volunteers.


I'm offering free copies of the book for two readers who are willing to try the program for at least 2 weeks and report back.

 (I'm chickening out at the moment because of the half marathon training which I don't want to stuff up.)

Interested? Just leave a comment below saying why you'd like to give it a go.

Update: having become interested in another diet based on intermittent fasting, I challenged my volunteer Jo to a Hunger Games: 8 Hour Diet Vs 5:2 Diet. Follow the links to see the results!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Half Marathon Training: Week 3. Trail Vs. Treadmill.

Footpath in snowy Forest
Courtesy of Andreas Krappweis at Stock.xchng

So I've done it. Finished Week 3 of the half marathon training. Though  I skipped one session this week. Just put it off until too late and couldn't fit it in. But other than that, it wasn't too bad a week.

The most interesting thing I found this week was the trail vs. treadmill debate.

I've been doing most of my training on a treadmill, because it's getting cold and dark, and I like watching TV while I jog.

However, yesterday for my long run I went out to Woodend (at the base of Mt. Macedon) and jogged the trails through the state forest there. It was a really nice change of scenery but my legs were killing me by half way through!

It was ALOT harder on my calves not having the road slip away beneath me, and then there were the hills. I mean, they were short in distance, but tracks I wouldn't take my car down. Add in all the unevenness, the jumping between tyre tracks and over eroded parts, and it made for a much more active jog than on a treadmill.

Lots of people have noted this and argue that jogging outside is the way to go. But is it actually better for you?

Benefits to trail jogging:
- it does work more muscles, especially with hills, wind resistance, needing to push your own weight.
- it does build up your stabilisers and develop your balance etc, which can reduce injury.
- the constant changes required in foot fall reduce risk of over stressing one particular muscle.
- the change in scenery can make it more enjoyable.

Benefits to the treadmill:
- you can actually monitor your pace, so it's much better for training to a particular speed.
- can monitor technique much more easily.
- it's not cold, dark, wet or likely to get you attacked by bears.

So, it appears in general if you can choose between the two, for your long steady runs outside is better. However, there are still plenty of good reasons to use a treadmill, just maybe not all the time.

Keeping in mind that the actual race is going to be outside, but I'm not going to go running outside every night after work, I've put together some strategies to make up for the deficit of the treadmill:

- make sure I do my long run outside on the weekend.
- keep the treadmill on a slight incline (1-1.5 for me I think will be fine) to prepare for the extra resistance of jogging outside (I'm not just talking about air resistance here, but resistance of pushing off a stationary base, and making up for the slight raise and fall that happens in most running tracks).
- on my steady runs, I'm going to try throwing in a few hills, just to spice things up.

And as I get closer to race day, I might start trying to add in more outside running. (Am contemplating the run home from work. It's a nice 5km, it's just a matter of what to do with work gear and avoiding all the insane cyclists on the track).

So, will see if that prepares me a bit better for the real thing.

Training this week:

Again moved things around, which resulted in me missing one, so might really need to stop doing this.

Wednesday 45mins steady. Was supposed to be Tuesday, but you know. The jog was fine.

Friday 50 min pace: 20 minute warm up, 1min fast/1 minute easy x 5, 20 minutes warm down. Fast was meant to be at estimated 10km pace, but I've been doing all my intervals above my 10 km pace already, so just stuck with it. (It's only 11k/h, but my 10km pace is not quite 10k/h.) Finished the jogging cool down and was just walking while trying to find out what happened on The Voice when the TVs suddenly went off. Didn't realise the gym closed at 8pm on a Friday. It's sort of like they expect you to have a life or something!

Saturday: the day I was bad. But I went to the zoo with my little sister and did lots of walking. Does that count for something?

Sunday: 1:10min long run. Was much harder out in the real world, and the hills did get me, but plodded through. Got back to the car for the second time at 1:07, and decided that would just have to do, as I was parked on a hill, so either way I went would mean coming back up again.

Weighed in about an hour after my long run and a snack, using my parents' scales, and was 74.6! Yah! Though, will have to make sure that wasn't just because of a change of scales.

Otherwise, weight on track, mileage increasing, and while I'm exhausted (but that might also be partly work) I've so far have avoided injury. Go me!