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A Year to Turn My Life Around

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 584 ✭✭✭ Reality_Check1

    I've been planning on starting this for awhile but kept putting it off as my goals initially were more about weight loss and health. As this year has gone on I've shifted the focus more and more to cycling so I think now is as good a time as ever to start a training log. The plan will be to do a monthly update with the occasional added update if something extra or special happens. It now being May the first 4 posts will all be retrospective and I'll try to get them all out this week if possible.

    A bit about myself first. 33 (nearly 34) Male. Nearly 0 cycling experience. Bought a bike a couple of years ago on the bike to work scheme but it sat in the shed gathering dust. In terms of previous fitness experience I played GAA at a decent level until I was 24/25 but the last 8 years I've nearly been completely sedentary. I had a good hard look at myself over the new year and decided I needed to make a change as I had a kid on the way.

    Its January 4th I currently weigh 115kg at 5 foot 10 which puts me as Class 2 Obese. Ive just finished smoking the last of the stash as I polish off a bottle of whiskey and 6 beers in the fridge. With the exception of an odd day this is probably the 3rd week straight I've been locked / smoked and I've just admitted to myself that, like my dad, Im an alcoholic. Probably a drug addict too.

    At the moment I have one goal - turn my life around :(


  • Ok so obviously I'm starting from a pretty poor baseline. I know if I'm going to succeed at this I need to make small consistent changes. At the moment cycling is as far away from my mind as possible. I write out my goals for the month.

    (1) No alcohol or smoking. Cold turkey no excuses
    (2) Walk 10k steps per day (I get myself a Garmin to track this)
    (3) Log all my food and attempt to stay within the calorie deficit

    I've no problem admitting the 1st 2 weeks were absolute hell on earth. Pretty significant withdrawal, sleep was awful - nightmares and night sweats and I was climbing the walls. With support from herself I managed to stay true and thankfully it got easier after day 10. It definitely helped not having booze or smoke in the house as any time I got a craving I would do some steps. Religiously every day I would get my 10k steps even if it meant walking the garden at 11pm at night.

    Of note I took my bike out of the shed on January 12th for the first spin. I was too heavy to do any running and I wanted to speed up the weight loss process. It was awful. I went one short loop around the block but I didn't have the correct clothing. After 12.4km :o I got off the bike out of breath and frozen cold so I put it back in the shed with the intention of never getting on it again.

    Around this time I became aware of Zwift and online cycling. Prior to this I was a massive gamer so the whole concept appealed to me. I picked up a second hand smart trainer on Adverts and the whole game changed for me! I was now able to exercise in a nice warm house and I began to fall in love with cycling.

    I read as much as I could about online cycling, power numbers and what they meant etc etc. I did my first FTP test 17th January and got 137w @110kg (Ive lost a lot of water weight at this stage). Now even for how poor I am I think 137w is a bit low - I didn't really know how to do the ramp test and over the rest of the month I do a few group rides and some Tour du Zwift stages and it automatically updates my FTP to around 180 by the end of the month.

    At the end of the month im 107kg and have stuck to all the goals I have laid out for myself. Total Cycling for the month 266km. A good start!

  • After a month of healthier living I am starting to feel much better now - especially in terms of sleeping. As with the first month I lay out my goals;

    (1) stay off the booze and smokes
    (2) 10k steps a day
    (3) Continue to log food and stay within my calories
    (4) 4 days on the trainer per week

    I'm already starting to feel myself getting fitter. I want to finish all the stages of the Tour Du Zwift because I want the kit and it would feel like an achievement. The only problem is I need to complete "Road to Sky" on the last stage which is up Alpe du Zwift roughly 17km with 1100m of climbing which seems very daunting. I plan my whole week around this effort and on Feb 17th I manage to make it up in a time of 98 mins. Not ground breaking but I felt like it was a massive achievement for me at the time. I also kept up doing regular group rides and the odd structured workout.
    I still had the memories of the horror show that was my last outdoor spin so I didn't take the bike off the trainer for the whole of February

    I've found staying clean much easier this month and even cleaned up my diet another but to make good progress.

    Towards the end of Feb I do another FTP test and get 235 @ 104kg which I feel is more reflective than the first one.

    Stats at the end of Feb:
    Weight 102.5kg
    Monthly cycling distance 490km

  • I feel that this is the month that was a turning point for me as I did my first few races on Zwift as well as my first few outdoor spins and got more and more into cycling. I particularly loved the outdoor stuff and tried to get out as often as I could.

    Also the local athletics club were running a fundraiser where they would provide 8 weeks of training for a 5km race. I signed up for this and joined the 25-30 min group as I vaguely remember I ran a 5k in 27 mins sometime before.

    Goals for the month
    (1) Stay off the smokes - my kid was due to be born this month so I knew there would be booze to celebrate
    (2) 10k steps a day
    (3) Race in the Cycling Ireland racing league
    (4) Complete all the running sessions and cycle as often as I could

    I had mixed feelings about the running. I did all the sessions but it became clear very quickly the I didn't really like running but I loved the structure of a planned training programme so I stuck at it.

    In terms of cycling I was racing in the D category in the Cycling Ireland league and even managed to snag a second place which I was thrilled about :) I really enjoyed the numbers of virtual cycling so I got a Garmin and a left sided power metre for my outdoor spins which were becoming longer and more frequent. I read a copy of Training and Racing with a power meter cover to cover.

    My son was born towards the latter half of March and I lost about a week of training and dieting as we let loose to celebrate (one night drinking was 3 days hungover so it certainly made it clear to me I wouldn't be going back on the booze). His arrival made it more difficult to get out but herself has been a star and encouraged me to get out for a spin as often as possible because she seen what a positive effect it was having on me.

    Stats at the end of March;
    weight 98.4kg
    Monthly distance cycling 799km

  • I suppose with all the training load I was putting on my body the inevitable happened in April and I got injured during one of the running session. Only a slight hamstring strain thankfully but enough to remind me to cop on! I think this is the first month I decided I wanted to take the cycling more seriously and I asked about racing in the main forum. Was swiftly told to reign it in and join a club first to get experience which was great advice. Unfortunately with Covid there were no clubs meeting so I had to continue on with the solo efforts but for the first time my goals started to shift towards cycling

    (1) Same health and step goals as before
    (2) Finish the running plan and do the race without getting injured
    (3) Pick up a win in the Cycling Ireland Zwift League
    (4) Complete a metric century and take in more hilly routes

    The Zwift racing was probably the most disappointing as I was in position to take a win with a 30 second lead in a solo break on the crit course and my trainer lost connection with 2 laps to go :mad::mad::( That kinda sickened me off racing for awhile but on the plus side I got upgraded to C category on Zwiftpower. Id missed to0 many weeks of the league with work so I was never in a position to threaten for the overall win but a stage win would have been nice.
    Toward the end of the month I retested my FTP and got 271 @ 94kg for a new high of 2.88w/kg

    I managed to complete the running plan without getting injured and completely surprised myself with a 5km time of 21:31 :eek: But as soon it was over my main feeling was that of relief and delight that I could now dedicate more time to cycling training. Like I said previously I really enjoyed the structured training so my goal for May will be to complete 4 weeks of the FTP builder on Zwift. Family and work commitments will mean that these all need to take place at 5am with anything outside of this being a bonus. I also intend to join a club in May and get out for club spins twice per week.

    Myself and a friend completed our metric century with a lovely hilly spin towards the end of the month taking in a spin around Johnny Foxes and Enniskery so managed 900m of climbing too - not easy for those of us on the heavier side :(

    I also managed to pick up a couple of local KOM's too which has been great for the motivation

    Stats at end of April
    Weight 93.4kg
    Monthly cycling distance 891.2km

    At the time of writing this May training has been going well, Ive joined a local club and the weight is continuing to tick down. I will update the log at the end of May but I suppose its no harm in putting in some specific goals now.

    (1) Keep improving the fitness and improving my w/kg. I don't want to put a number on this just keep enjoying the noob gains for as long as possible

    (2) Keep getting out with the club consistently and partake in club events

    (3) Do at least 1 sportive before end of Summer

    (4) Do at least one race towards the end of the year

    (5) Explore the option of coaching and put in place a longer training plan

    Thats all for now thanks for reading

  • Wow. Congrats on the progress you're making and congrats in the new arrival!
    As the weather improves you'll see more gains as it's easier to keep motivated when it's good weather, but just remember not to push it too hard and take some rest days.

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  • Thread followed and I have to say, savage work, you seem to be down nearly 20% which is incredible over such a short period. I'll be honest, I don't like the BMI scale as its too crude and can misplace you but nonetheless, I think you are out of the obese range there now as well. Aside from the benefits to you, statistically speaking you are now going to live longer, and as a parent, you will be able ot enjoy that more as well. Keep it up.

  • Really enjoyable read and great progress.
    I am now at a similar age and fitness you were at the start of January. Played sports regularish up to mid twenties and would have been considered fairly athletic. Thankfully don't smoke and drink very little, but did the dog for a while up to a few years ago. My sedentary lifestyle now means I am very unfit for any real level of exercise, I can plod along at a slow pace all day, but any intensity and I am a goner. Thankfully I am naturally quite well built about 95kg at 6ft1, but this truly belies my fitness level and happiness of where I iam
    I would love to get fitter and this zwift thing sounds right up my street too, as I loved gaming also and prefer doing my own thing. Any advice or recommendations for beginner equipment..

  • eurokev wrote: »
    Really enjoyable read and great progress.
    I am now at a similar age and fitness you were at the start of January. Played sports regularish up to mid twenties and would have been considered fairly athletic. Thankfully don't smoke and drink very little, but did the dog for a while up to a few years ago. My sedentary lifestyle now means I am very unfit for any real level of exercise, I can plod along at a slow pace all day, but any intensity and I am a goner. Thankfully I am naturally quite well built about 95kg at 6ft1, but this truly belies my fitness level and happiness of where I iam
    I would love to get fitter and this zwift thing sounds right up my street too, as I loved gaming also and prefer doing my own thing. Any advice or recommendations for beginner equipment..

    Thanks it’s all about steady progress. As much as I enjoyed reading all the other logs here I didn’t see many (any?) where someone was coming from being completely sedentary so I thought it might inspire some other newbies to get out.

    In terms of equipment you can buy a “dumb trainer” and fit it with speed and cadence sensors but you don’t really get the immersive experience from this. I’d recommend looking for a cheap second hand smart trainer from somewhere like adverts and see if you enjoy it. I think they have decentish resale value so you could always sell it on if you decide it’s not for you.

    Personally I much prefer getting out on the road but time and weather (I’m a wimp) don’t always allow that

  • So I set out at the start of May to complete a really tough 4 week training block and try and improve my fitness as much as possible. With that in mind I have pretty much put running on the back burner except for 1 10km run at the start of the month. I really enjoyed planning out my whole month of training which consisted of:
    (1) Zwift 4 week FTP builder
    (2) Club spins 2 x per week
    (3) The odd social spin with friends if I could fit it in

    Trying to balance work and family meant getting up at 4:45am at least 4 times per week to get the training in on Zwift. Quick shower and Ive left the house at the latest 6:20 to be in work for 7. It was tough at the start but once you get into a routine its actually grand. Doing this also means I have more family time available in the evening which means I can get a pass to do club spins and friend cycles.

    The 4 weeks averaged out as follows
    Week 1: 8 hours 187km Training load 492
    Week 2: 13 hours 354km Training load 615
    Week 3: 10 hours 285km Training load 595
    Week 4: 14 hours 402km Training load 872

    So a total of just over 1250km for the month. I've found the added training really meant I was tanking a lot of food into me so the weight loss has slowed a bit and Im currently sitting at 90kg - I want to refocus here in June and keep up the good progress. Im feeling really strong (but very fatigued) at the moment so next week is going to be a recovery week with some testing at the end so I can see an objective score of how I'm doing.

    In terms of health Im still off the smokes with no desire to go back to them and I can enjoy an occasional beer to 2 without going mental.

    I have also organised a coach for myself. While I enjoyed the last 4 weeks I really have no clue what Im at so I think to make the best improvements I'll leave it to an expert.

    In terms of whats planned for the next month:
    (1) rest week and get some power tests done
    (2) Start racing the club league when it starts the 2nd week of June
    (3) Build on the fitness I have now with another 3 week training block as designed by my coach.
    (4) All going well will have a family holiday at the end of June so that will be my next recovery week.

    Im really loving getting fitter and May was a great Month. Hoping to build on this now. I might even do some more regular updates if anything interesting happens

  • Got some testing done over the last week. All done on the trainer for repeatability except for the 1 min effort which was done on a hill sprint outside. Because of this I feel the 1 min effort is probably least reflective (it was a longer climb so I had more in the tank) but I just don't have it in me right now to do a flat out 1 minute test properly :o. Smart trainer used is a CycleOps and I was also using a left sided 4iii power meter - most data is fairly close to each other. All testing done between 89-90kg so will just say 90 for handiness.

    5 second = 1415w = 15.72w/kg

    1 min = 614 = 6.75w/kg

    5 min = 362 = 3.98

    FTP = 286 = 3.17

    Using Coggans power chart I have a good sprint, moderate 5 min effort and FTP and a fair 1 min effort.

    I know people say don't worry about the numbers but its the only objective measure I have that I'm getting better. I also like the numbers :p

    It is encouraging to see the power numbers continue to creep up as the weight comes down. I'll ride the crest of these noob gains for as long as I can.

    The club league got pushed back another week and I'm absolutely chomping at the bit to get going

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  • That's great work and commitment. You've made mighty progress this year and you should be really proud of your success so far.

    What you've achieved to date shows the rest of us what can be done in a relatively short period of time and gives us all a bit of encouragement to keep trying. Well done you. All the best in the racing.

  • Wow that is some great progress.

  • Fantastic work, Reality_Check1. I've just caught your thread and read it from the start. Your progress has been outstanding. I know you weren't too keen on the running, but I just have to say that your 5K time was pretty amazing. I'm glad you've found the sport you like, though, and it's a great one to do (and usually fairly safe, injury-wise).

  • Another good month of progress in the books so its hard to know where to start. I suppose I'll start with general health. Weight was down to 87kg at the start of this week (currently on a family holiday so trying to limit the damage in that regard :P) My blood pressure is back in the normal range for the first time in 10 years. I have no desire to smoke or do drugs (mainly because I'm putting such a big effort into cycling I don't want to undermine that). I have an occasional few beers but not a patch on what I used to do. I never know how to take the compliments that I "look better" and "look far healthier" - I must have looked shocking before!I suppose the main thing is I don't think ive ever felt better in my life either physically or mentally and thats a big win.

    In terms of training this month I've been very happy with the time I've been able to get on the bike. In total I completed 1300km with 13600m of climbing - mostly on the road with some turbo sessions sprinkled in. I've much more structure to training now and I feel like a lot of rides have a specific purpose (however I still enjoy the club spins and noodling around with my friends). I also ticked off a few bucket list climbs this Month - a few in Wicklow and a couple in Donegal. In saying that after spending a week in the hills of Donegal I'll be looking forward to getting back to flatter terrain :P

    My fitness has continued to improve and my FTP now sits at 299w at 88kg (3.4w/kg). This is enough to get me semi competitive in the B category of most Zwift races but Im still a bit off competing for podiums yet so that will be a future goal.

    Ive also completed a few club events:

    My first TT

    Hadn't really a notion what I was doing here just had a power number in my head that I thought I could hold for the length of the course and went out and did that. As it turns out I actually did a little better than expected in the power department but Id say im about as aero as a parachute so I didn't threaten the top 15 for any points. I learned a lot though and I really enjoyed it

    My first handicap race

    Again hadn't a notion what I was supposed to be doing. We were the first group let off and we were very disorganised. Nobody was really pushing the pace so I tried to go off the front a few times only to be chased down like there lives depended on it. The annoying thing is though when I was caught everyone would just sit in. I gave up on this idea and when we were inevitably caught by semi limit and semi scratch things got a little bit hectic. I filtered back down through the pack not realising the importance of grabbing a wheel. When Scratch came around us I was caught admiring how fast they were and before I knew it I was out the back of the Peloton and couldn't get back on :( Again a massive learning experience and Im really looking forward to doing it again.

    Plan for July is;

    (1) Continue to do the league and not get dropped hopefully
    (2) Keep improving my fitness as per the training plan from my coach
    (3) Keep getting the weight down
    (4) I have some open road races planned too and I will give each one their own write up here if / when I do them