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Scrib’s 2014 New Years message

1 Jan

Its been a while, but one of my 2014 resolutions is to get blogging again!

So its 2014 and I bet a few of you have New Years resolutions to get fit, lose a few pounds, stop smoking and be healthier. But like so many previous years you are wondering if this new spark will last much past March. I’ve been there myself, and people often ask me how I broke the cycle and went from fat Scrib’s to not fat Scrib’s. So heres Scrib’s top tips based on my experience:


1. Money doesn’t do the work – YOU DO!

Buying sports stuff or paying for the gym doesn’t make you fit! Really? Yes really! We’ve all done it, including myself. You start out and buy all the latest gear or sign up for a year to the local gym. After a few months, after giving up, you are left out of pocket and feeling beaten and you still haven’t done what you set out to do. That then makes you feel more deflated than you were when you started.


I’ll let you in on a little secret: Spending your money might give you an initial mental boost, everyone likes a bit of retail therapy, but its YOU that does the work, not the gear or the membership card. Rather than spending your hard earned cash on the best kit why don’t you simply try going for a run/or walk with what you have to hand. Just put on the trainers, T-Shirt , etc you already have.


Gym’s are a good way of getting fit, but personally I’ve never used one. I don’t see the point as you can get fit by just using your own body and the great outdoors. One obvious advantage a gym has, of course, is weather protection, especially in the UK!. Personally I love running/walking in the elements, maybe you should try it? Do what feels right for you, but remember a 12 month gym membership alone is not going to get you fit. Its YOU and YOU alone!


You could do what I did and tell yourself you’ll treat yourself to that snazzy gear or the gym membership once you’ve proven yourself by achieving a goal (see tip 2 first though).



2. The most expensive isn’t always the best.

So now you’ve proven to yourself you can do this. You’ve been running, cycling or walking and the miles are racking up. You’ve used stuff you already had (trainers, etc) and it hasn’t cost you a penny. Now you may – although this isn’t a necessity – want to treat yourself as a reward by replacing those dogeared trainers with some shiny new ones. So you go onto the sports store website and buy the most expensive pair of trainers you can find, within your budget. I did this a number of times but I found that the most expensive isn’t always the best and I actually ended up getting injuries from trainers claiming all sorts of ‘high tech’ wizardry. Keep it simple.



3. Don’t listen to that little negative voice.

You know the one….. “you haven’t got the time”, “Its too cold outside”, “I’ll go tomorrow”. If I had a pound for every time I hear people say “I just haven’t got the time” but then spend the next hour playing on their favourite smart phone app or watching TV.


Tell the little voice to “shut the f*** up!” and get out there! Don’t let it win, take control. I still fight with the little voice sometimes, but I realised that I get a much better feeling of achievement when I’ve finished a run and know that I beat it!



4. Don’t do too much – No quick fixes – Baby steps.

A BIG mistake people often make is to slap on their trainers a few days after New Year and try and do too much. On my first trip out I was aiming to run for miles and miles and I ended up almost collapsing at the end of my street, literally yards from my front door. It put me straight off and I didn’t attempt to exercise again for weeks!


Give yourself a realistic aim. Even if its a slow 5 – 10 minute run at first. Be realistic and build up SLOWLY! Nothing is easy in life especially getting out of a rut. Getting fit is one thing that money can’t fix. YOU have to do it yourself. You’re probably not going to be running a 10k, or cycling 50k, on your first trip out so don’t discourage yourself by assuming you can.


Start slowly and work up. We live in a society that demands instant results, but you have to face facts its not going to happen over night. If anyone told me I could run a marathon when I stumbled down my street, carrying my 14 stone, all those years ago I would have laughed in their face. But now I have, but it took time, effort and determination. But the rewards were worth it! Well worth it!


Achieving your REALISTIC goals gives you an amazing sense of satisfaction.



5. Yummy treats are good, but as treats.

OK, we all like food treats (cakes and curry are mine – but not at the same time), but if that becomes a daily event its no longer a treat, its the norm. I’ll treat myself at the weekends (Friday night nosh up for example). At first it can be hard, but you’ll certainly enjoy the treat more when you’ve waited and earned it. Remember a treat isn’t a treat if you have it often. Also keep in mind that drinks also contain calories. Think of food as anything you consume that is used as energy by your body. If you think about that for a second it may change your thinking somewhat. If you stick to this and exercise, you’ll soon find your whole attitude to food changes.


At first you may have to be more strict, but as you build your fitness you can sometime afford to have the odd extra midweek treat  (birthday cakes at work for example), but I always make sure I run a few extra miles to counter it.


Remember food (remembering drink) is fuel – pure and simple. You have to balance it. Too much and your body stores it.



6. Motivation – You don’t have to do it alone.

I started getting fit pretty much on my own, but thats just me. If you want a bit of encouragement, motivation or company why not join a running club, perhaps with a friend. They are free to inexpensive (perhaps a couple of quid a session) and you’ll be running with lots of different people of all abilities, including beginners.


Most towns (UK) now also do a ‘Park run’. This is a 5k run around the local park on a Saturday morning. Theres a great sense of community at these events and well worth a try.


You can do an internet search for such events in your area.



7. Apps.

If you already have a smart phone there are a variety of free fitness Apps that can help motivate you. Personally I use Runkeeper, but there are many others. These are useful for seeing your miles build and your pace drop. This can then have the effect of motivating you to do better – works for me. You can also use many of these Apps to monitor your gym activities, swimming etc, some will even interface with some of the more modern Gym equipment.



Well thats my round up of what worked for me. Good luck!


Running while away? No excuse here!

27 Oct

I’m drawing to the end of a week away from home due to a work trip. Its been an interesting  week, with busy days and early nights, but at least my running – or to be more accurate – at least my keeping fit hasn’t suffered.

Living in a hotel for any length of time can be a challenge, when it’s not a holiday trip. The first day or so can be a little exciting with the change of scenery, pace, people and getting to know your surroundings. However, this can quickly wear thin and you are left counting the days until you return home again.

I don’t go away all that often, but I’ve found that my attitude has totally changed from a few years ago when I was totally unfit. What do I mean? OK here are some examples:

Food: You can easily eat a lot more than usual whilst away, and the food tends to be a lot richer than you might normally eat. Theres also the temptation of spending as much of that daily allowance as you can, which again, can result in taking in far too many calories, much more than your body needs.

For me the real killer used to breakfast! A few years ago I’d go mad on the cooked breakfast pretty much everyday. And we’re not talking small portions here. When I finally got fit I suddenly realised that eating loads of food wasn’t making me any happier, in fact it did the opposite, when I realised how much weight I’d put on. Nowadays my hotel breakfast will be a glass of OJ, fruit and yoghurt and a cup of coffee/tea. I enjoy this much more than eating the fatty slop alternative and you feel like you’ve accomplished something by looking after yourself. ‘Good stuff in, good stuff out and all that!’.

Exercise: Even in my fatty days I used to get quite a lot of exercise in whilst I was away simply by walking everywhere. Quite a few trips were to London and walking was a great way to see the sites and explore in the evenings after work. Nowadays I carry on that tradition and always make sure I book a hotel that’s far enough away from my trips work destination to give me a good walk. For this trip, for example, I have a car with me, that I used to travel to the hotel from home. However, the car has stayed firmly in the hotel car park and I have walked from the hotel to work instead of driving, which is about a 6 mile round trip. See my ‘Why drive when you can walk to work‘ post.

Would driving be quicker – Hell yes! If I drove would I get a sleep in – Yes, about an extra hour a day!

So why walk? Simple, I enjoy it, it gets me out, it keeps me fit, it clears your head and sets you up for the day. The return walk is also a great way to unwind and I often look forward to it. A lot better than sitting in a car! There also the obvious environmental benefits to leaving the car behind also. We all need to do our bit don’t we!

I’ve also learned that when booking a hotel to always try and find one with a gym. As some of ScribsBlog regular visitors know I normally hate gym’s and much prefer the great out doors, but they do have there uses on occasion. Its also a bonus if you can get a hotel with a gym and swimming pool.

I’ve said before, in previous posts, I always take my running kit with me when going away (work, holiday, etc), and this is also the case on this trip. But due to a potential oncoming knee injury I’ve purposely reduced my running this week and mixed up my exercise between walking (daily), running (back from work to hotel) and using the hotel gym and swimming pool (daily). This has been a good mix and has worked out well to help sort out my knee. Don’t get me wrong, I would have much preferred to do more running and explore the area, but I also don’t want to exacerbate the knee. So this week has been a sort of rest from running and more walking, elliptical equipment in the gym and swimming.

So remember, just because you are away from home doesn’t mean you can’t keep yourself in shape. Eat sensibly and use the time to your advantage. Try and get a hotel a few miles away from your destination and walk or use the hotel gym and/or swimming pool.

The only person stopping you is you!


Running baby steps – Part 2.

8 Oct

Baby Harry running

I did a brief blog post a while back about ‘Running Baby steps‘ and after talking to someone in the Runnersworld forums, who had just taken up running to loose weight, I wanted to add some more meat to the subject, based on my own experiences from when I started out a few years ago.

I won’t go over my weight loss and get fit story again (but if you’re interested read my story via the Runkeeper blog, who did my story, or read the older posts in ScribsBlog) but I took up running to loose weight and it worked as I went from 14 stone to 11. The one thing I remember, and it brought the memories flooding back after talking to the newby runner, was what it was like to start running!

O MY GOD! I look back now at my early running attempts and I can still see myself running (or perhaps to be fair ‘wobbling’) down the street, reaching the end (it wasn’t far, perhaps less than quarter of a mile) and having to sit down, exhausted! If you’d told me then that I could run a half marathon or a 40 mile event I’d have politely told you to stop taking the mickie as that was impossible for someone of my physical stature!

But I did it, and I did do those things but, and there’s a lesson coming, it took time, patience and work!

We are ‘lucky’ enough to live in a society where we’re used to things being done for us with little input on our parts – the ‘instant society’ as I call it. Can you imagine life without your car, washing machine, dish washer, etc and having to perform the functions those items do ‘manually’. It might take a little longer to do the laundry and lets face it, all we have to do today is load the machine, put in the detergent and press the ‘ON’ button. Can you imagine washing each item of clothing by hand?! Unfortunately getting fit has no short cuts and that is what puts people off.

The future instant Fitness Pod?

The machine doesn’t exist – yet – where we can walk in, select our fitness level, press ‘GO’ and we’re instantly transformed into the selected body configuration. To be honest would you want such a machine? Yes it sounds like a great idea but such a device would miss one important side effect of doing it the ‘old fashioned way’ and that is the sense of achievement when you’ve completed your chosen fitness session and you think ‘YES!’.

Getting fit takes work, patience and determination (sweat, blood, tears!). Obviously the more unfit you are the more work will be involved but the sense of achievement can be a driving force for your motivation. I gave up a number of times, but looking back I know why:

  1. I tried to do too much, and expected to become fit almost over night:  There’s the ‘instant society’ attitude for you. There was zero chance of running 10 miles on my first trip out and I expected too much to soon.
  2. I then gave up too quickly & didn’t give it a chance: As soon as it became hard, with no instant results, I gave up.
  3. Self doubt: I thought I couldn’t get fit because it was just too hard! “Being fit just isn’t for me”, “I can’t do it!”, “I’m not built for it!”.

The above three ‘failure’ points are interesting in the fact that they feed and lead into each other. One leads to two, leads to three and BANG you’ve failed. Fix point one and two becomes less of a threat, which in turn annihilates point three! Do this and you’ve got a much better chance to achieve your goal.

We’ve all know someone (or done it ourselves) who has bought a load of new fitness kit only to give up a few sessions later – I talk more about this in my ‘Running Kit‘ blog post. I’ve done exactly the same thing myself, I remember buying a weight bench and dumbbells some years ago. The bench came flat packed so I spend a few hours one Sunday afternoon putting it together. Once finished I stood back and admired my hand work. That was the last time I ever touched the bench or dumbbells, until I sold them. Just because you have the kit, or an expensive pair of running shoes it doesn’t make you an instant runner, muscle man, super fit person, etc (‘instant society’ again).

So how do we fix this? How did I fix it and pushed through to loose the weight and more importantly keep it off? Easy, although hindsight is a great thing!

B A B Y   S T E P S !

What the heck are “Baby steps?”.

A baby does not learn to walk straight away, it takes time and patient (sound familiar?). One step leads to another, to another, to another and before you know it little junior is walking. Its the same with getting fit. What would happen if you tried to get a baby to walk across a room before they were ready? They would fall, fail, possibly with tears.

Instead of trying to go for long runs I set myself goals of short runs and built them up slowly. Try it!

Remember, before taking any exercise, if you are not used to it, if you feel you might have medical difficulties talk to your doctor BEFORE hand!

Start off with a small five – ten minute walk. Do this three to seven times a week, perhaps do it instead of taking the car to the shop down the street? After a couple of weeks increase the speed and time of the walk. As you get used to it keep increasing the speed/time/distant. Try to throw in some hills and different terrain to your route. After four to six weeks of doing this try breaking out into a slow jog. Perhaps mix in a burst of jogging with your walking. One good idea is to walk for 10 minutes and run for 1 minute and keep repeating. Over time increase the jogging time and you’ll soon find you can jog for longer as your body becomes stronger and fitter. Keep this up until you can run for 100% of your activity. Don’t forget to mix up your route so you don’t get board of the same surroundings.

Notice that I didn’t suggest you start running straight away. That’s one of the key lessons I learnt. I started by walking to work, which was about a 6 mile round trip. I did this two-three times a week and increased my walking speed, over time, as I got fitter. I then extended the route on the way home to increase the mileage. After doing this for a few months I started to run in the evenings and found the transition a LOT easier than if I’d tried to run from day one.

Build it up, take baby steps. Yes we can all be impatient at times, but do you want to fail or achieve? You’ve not super man and you need to build up your body and to do that you’ve got to take baby steps. I did and it worked out for me after numerous failures.

Good luck,


Runkeeper blog does ScribBlogs story

3 Sep

The Runkeeper blog has just published my fat to thin story. See it here:

Incorporate not Decimate!

20 Jun

Life can be busy and this can be a real pain for training. Its all too easy to come up with excuses why not to train, and one of the best excuses is ‘Oh, I’m too busy’ or ‘Something important (not really) has come up’. I’ve always found the best way to combat this is to have a fixed schedule of training that MUST not be changed!

What I mean is, finding the gaps in your normal weeks schedule and slotting training into those gaps and then make them a permanent fixture. It sometimes helps to make a calendar of your week to help you identify these gaps. If something unexpected crops up, then tough! You’re busy! It’ll have to be done on a different day! NO EXCUSES!

Think of it this way, if you have kids and they do Football (Soccer to my American friends) on Monday, Karate on Tuesday and Swimming on Thursday, you wouldn’t necessarily miss an activity when a little excuse comes up, especially if you pay for those activities. These are fixed events in your week’s schedule. So why do it for your training?

In the above example, assuming you wanted to train three times a week,  you could fit it into Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, remembering that there is the opportunity to train early mornings (my favorite time is early Sunday morning before everyone is awake) or later in the evenings,  or why not train whilst going to or coming home from work, as I do.

I use the above rule to make sure I stick to my training. There is the odd occasion when something comes up, but I have to put my foot down and say “No, I’ve got something on then”. It soon becomes the ‘norm’ and it isn’t really a problem anymore.

Incorporate not Decimate! What does that mean?

Last weekend was Fathers day and we had a busy day lined up visiting parents and grandparents, I also fancied having a lie in for a change. But I normally train on a Sunday morning so the plan was to get up extra early and forget about my lie in. The thing was my son had a football tournament on the Saturday in a town 10 miles away. It suddenly occurred to me on the Saturday morning, a few hours before the tournament, that I could simply run to the event and still get my lie in on Sunday! Brilliant! I was still going to get my training in, all be it a day earlier than normal, and I’d have a different & new route to run which can really make a difference. In fact I was quite excited at the prospect of doing a fresh route which I’d never done before!

So that’s what I did. My wife took the kids in the car with a change of clothes for me – problem sorted!

Incorporate your training into the stuff you have to do, don’t Decimate your training!

Why drive when you can walk to work?

24 May

I was walking to work this morning. It was a fresh clear morning, the sun was coming up and the birds singing. It was a bit breezy, but otherwise a pretty nice start to the day! Soon, as I made my way along the road towards work, Runkeeper announced the second mile and I heard a ‘beep’ as someone I knew drove past on their way to the same destination. Waves and ‘good morning’ nods were exchanged as they drove past. People know not to stop and offer me a lift anymore, as in the past I have thanked them for the offer but explained that walking to work and walking/running home was part of my exercise routine.

Towards the end of my journey, as I approached the steps to take me over the dock bridge, I pondered why people, who worry about their weight and/or fitness, drive to work when they could easily walk. I walk to work out of choice because it’s free exercise and it helps keep me fit! I tried the gym years ago, but the only pounds I seemed to loose were £’s and I quickly got board. I purposely don’t own a second car so I don’t get tempted to cheat (it also helps me feel like I’m doing my bit for the environment).

I much prefer to walk/run or cycle to work and back, why? As I said, not only is it free exercise, it gets you out in the fresh air, helps clear your head (especially after a hard day at work), gives you a buzz and the feeling that you’ve done ‘something’ fitness related without really going out of your way. I mean, you have to go to work anyway, right? So you’re in affect killing two birds with one stone.

Of course the downside is that it takes longer, in some cases. My walk is a shade under three miles and it takes me about 40 – 45 minutes each way. Running isn’t normally that much quicker because I normally take a longer route to bump up the miles, but running the same route takes me about 15-20 minutes. Cycling can take about ten minutes, depending on wind and road conditions, but again I like to take a longer scenic route along the coast, if time allows. I’ve also noticed that cycling is not much slower than driving, once you take into account that you don’t get as suck in traffic jams as much and you can cycle pretty up to the office door (in my case) rather than parking in a car park and then walking the final stretch to your desk.

Now, we all live busy lives and some people can’t afford the extra time it takes to get to work under your own steam. For example,  the dash from dropping the kids at school to getting into work on time. Others live way to far away from work for it to be practical although, I do know some people to cycle 8+ miles each way to work every day! Rain or shine!

But keep in mind that if you are in the position where you could simply get up a little earier and walk into work and/or walk home again, then give it a go. You’ll feel good for it, especially once your fitness levels increase.

If you commute to work on the bus/train/tube, if feasible, get off a stop or two earlier and walk the rest of the way.

Oh, and the old ‘its raining’ excuse. Get yourself some waterproof trousers and jacket. Personally I enjoy walking in the rain, its only water!

Give it a go, what have you got to loose? It might not be your thing, but at least try it.

Keswick to Barrow 2011 – The results.

15 May

The Keswick to Barrow (K to B) results came out on Wednesday and came 64’th out of 2014 which I’m really pleased with!

Its been a week since the Keswick to Barrow last Saturday. Things have returned pretty much to normal, what with work, the kids, recovering, etc! As expected my body has been on a massive ‘give me food!’ protest. With last weeks exertions my body has gone into mad repair and recharge mode. Whilst I’ve been obeying these requests I’ve also been mindful of not over doing it. Having enough to satisfy me without being too stupid, but with the odd treat, considering the circumstances. This can be an important point. An analogy I sometimes use is that ‘it might be great exercise to go on a 10 mile hike but if you come home hungry and stuff down 5 potions of curry’s and rice you haven’t really achieved much! In fact you’ll probably end up putting more weight on!’ OK, maybe a bit exaggerated, but you get my point. You need to refuel with whats been lost and whats required for repair. The trick is knowing how much is too much, and how much is too little. My tip for this is to eat sensibly and then wait a while (20 – 30 minutes or so) if you’re still hungrey then have a little more. You’d be surprised that once you let your food settle you often don’t need anything else. You’ll notice I said ‘sensibly‘, if you eat sugary foods (and drink) your more likely to feel hungry sooner.  I talk about this further in my ‘How I lost weight’ sections.

So a week on since the K to B and the stiffness has gone now, I’ve taken it easy and haven’t run since the event to allow my body to ‘reset’. I’ve still kept things ticking over by walking and cycling to work, with the odd detour to increase the mileage. I’ve also kept up my daily stretching and exercise routine. However, next week I plan to start my running again. I looked at my Runkeeper running stats the other day for the last three years. I noticed that every year during January to May, my training period for the K to B, I do more training than in the previous year.

Runkeeper total miles run per month 11/2008 - 04/2011

This is certainly reflected in my K to B results for the last three years, with my times getting better each year.

Keswick to Barrow score card 2009

Keswick to Barrow score card 2010

Keswick to Barrow score card 2011

I also noticed that my recovery time is less and less each year with this year having hardly any post event limps at all and no BLISTERS! In 2009 I spent the entire Sunday walking on my hands and knees, much to the amusement of the kids who thought I wanted to play horses!

The Runkeeper stats also show my training is a little erratic between June and December, something I plan to correct this year. I have the Newcastle Great North run coming up in September theres something to aim for.

Finally, I noticed this week a huge buzz at work and in my personal life with people suddenly wanting to get out there and be more active. I couple of people have started running and another has dusted off their hiking boots and started walking. Some of these people are wanting to do the K to B next year, others just want to get more active. I think this is fantastic! And it goes to show that being active can rub of on people, which is the main reason I write this blog in the hope that some people might be encouraged to get off their backside’s and ‘get out there!’.

I had the pleasure of listening to someone the other day shortly after they had finished their first long walk, they were absolutely buzzing with excitement due to their achievement. I just sat there, smiled to myself and thought ‘ yep, you got it!’.

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