Friday, 30 July 2010

Walking in Dingle

Here are some snaps from a walk I did yesterday with my Dad and brother:

That was the afternoon, I had gotten up early that morning and went for a beautiful walk along a cliff path but I forgot to take my camera. While it was the most beautiful walk I've ever done, I'm kind of glad I didn't have my camera so instead of trying to capture it, I was able to just enjoy it. I read somewhere that the walk was ranked in the top 10 most beautiful walks in the world, it most definitely is wonderful. When I come back in September, I will probably stay out at that end of the peninsula.

I was supposed to be climbing Mount Brandon this morning, but it's raining very heavily and the visibility was about 20 metres when I got up. So I'm spending my last night sitting around reading and visiting the pottery shops. The break has left me refreshed and calmed, ready to put in a good couple of solid week's of training before my return to this end of the country.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Rain, rain go to Spain

It usually annoys me when people say "Oh, you're from Ireland, it rains all the time there doesn't it??". But the last few days, I have to concede that they might just be on to something. Dingle, being on the coast, is particularly prone to an attack of blanket atlantic mist and drizzle. I took that picture an hour ago and it doesn't look any different.

Yesterday morning was ever so slightly brighter so I went out early for a long, hilly run (over 6 miles). With the hills it took me an hour! I did stop a lot to catch my breath and went off road so the path was very rocky and wet. My intention was to swim in the afternoon and I did find a good spot (Ballydavid pier), but there was no beach so my folks didn't want to hang around. For swimming, I really need to go by myself as no-one wants to sit around waiting on me. Safety wise, there is a good beach with a lifeguard which is where I was on saturday, so I wouldn't be in danger if I went alone. Only problem is where to put my car keys when I'm in the water! I suppose I could get some sort of waterproof pocket and put it down my wetsuit.

The plan today is a 25k cycle and then maybe a gentle hike or easy swim. Depending on whether the mist decides to lift!

Eats are plenty of fresh vegetables (salads or gently sauteed), hummus, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, nooch, quinoa, brown rice and porridge for breakfast made with soya milk to enrich. I'm missing my raspberry smoothies and homemade hummus! One thing I have noticed is a decrease in cravings for sweet stuff after dinner. Yesterday evening I had leftover black eye bean, leek and tomato stew with quinoa and steamed brocc (with some nooch and seeds to garnish). Later on I had one square of dark chocolate but could have left it. However, my folks, who had had a huge feed of pasta, were all craving ice-cream, cookies and chocolate within an hour of eating. Same story the previous evening when they had fish and chips, chocolate was voraciously consumed a short while later. All those quick release carbs just make you want more! I definitely think a dinner centred on vegetable protein and veggies satisfies me perfectly.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Hello from the Dingle Peninsula

Image source:,-Dingle-Peninsula.jpg

I'm in Dingle! It's a village on one of the 'fingers' that sticks out of the south west of Ireland. I have been coming here most summers for half my life. It's a great spot, rugged, mountainous, coastal and warmer than the rest of Ireland (that doesn't really say very much, but hey, every degree matters to us here)

Dingle is where I'll be doing the tri in September. Today I called in with the lady who organises the tris. She did her first in 2002 and now organises them! I just love the spirit of this event and think it'll be the perfect first triathlon for me, especially since it takes place in a part of the world that's more or less a second home to me. While in town, I did some shopping; I got fruity porridg oats, quinoa, oat groats, soy yogurt and milk, nooch, hummus and LOTS of veggies.

Foodwise, things have been a real mix. I had two sandwiches for the journey down. It was very flax heavy bread and doesn't seem to have done me much damage. We ate out the night I arrived, I just got salad, courgettes, beans and hot berries. All that veg meant things moved pretty quickly the next day...
Today, I had porridge with a banana mixed in for brekkie, which I thought was a bit meh. I had rocket, green beans, pepper and lots of hummus and some seeds for lunch which was ok, although I had a few oatcakes with PB and jam for dessert. I then waited around before getting active. After exercise, I had a mix up of everything, black eye beans, brown rice, broccoli, leeks, tomato, pepper and lots of nooch. A very unphotogenic heap of easy digested carbs, protein, vits and minerals. Ugly but yummy.

Today I did a bit of everything: I swam about 500m in the sea, against the tide first and then with it. It was so weird with a wetsuit! My legs wouldn't stay in the water. It didn't help that I was doing the old face out of the water thing. I think tomorrow I'm going to try my best at some face in water stuff. I'm getting less scared. I then took my bike a quick spin down the road (like 2km) and then ran for 2mins as soon as I stepped off just to get the feeling of running on biked legs. Yesterday evening after I arrived I did a proper run, a very speedy 3miles in the driving rain, with a very steep hill at the end. Dingle is great for hilly training, although the tri is in the flattest area of the peninsula. I'm pleased to say I'm still on my training schedule and I'm loving working out in this beautiful spot of the world:)

Until next time (and hopefully with pictures)

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Training a happy tummy

Seriously, if you have IBS, try doing more exercise. Nothing I've tried up until now has given me relief from my symptoms like it. Since the beginning of the year, when I decided to really find out what was causing my IBS and then do something about it. I did begin doing more exercise in an effort to get fitter but focussed on food as the source of my symptoms. I found out that I'm lactose intolerant, and became vegan. Then I realised too much gluten could really upset my system. I also realised that eating too much, and eating a lot of nuts and sugar could cause havoc too.
However, when I upped the amount of exercise I did, I really started to notice a change.
Working out a lot also seems to be reducing my cravings for sugary things, so it's a happy tummy circle.

Swimming front crawl is still beyond me at the moment. I still cannot breathe out with my face in the water, water gets up my nose and I get freaked. So I have been doing breaststroke and have started doing the drills from Lesson 1 of the Total Immersion program, which is basically armless backstroke and then alternating rolled on one side. However, with every visit to the pool, I feel myself getting stronger, faster, my stroke getting more even. Although most people find the sea scarier than a pool, I'm looking forward to going out to the coast next week and splashing around in them waves. I feel safer there. At this stage though, it's looking unlikely I'll be able to front crawl for the tri. So I'm just going to keep working on my breaststroke, and maybe try out sidestroke in the sea and see what it feels like.

Some recent munching:
Avocado, tofu and veggies with salsa and frozen raspberry, banana and mango blended up as a post run cooldown. Yum.

Lentils, sweet potatoes and salad (romaine, peppers, carrots, green onion)

Nut burger and salad with Brendan Brazier's tahini cayenne dressing

Porridge with fresh orange, soy yogurt and cacao

Collards and onions, pesto, salsa, sweet potato and hummus

Friday, 9 July 2010

Lost in the blogosphere!

It seems like my change of blog name didn't work as I though it would...I thought would just change to But I was just being silly. I'm going to leave comments on anyone's blog who has commented on mine before to let them know where I've disappeared off to!

My training plan is going well. I have deviated from the plan, but only to change activities around to suit better. I haven't actually missed a workout. I just feel so motivated to do this thing! And, wait for it, I'm even starting to look forward to swimming. The first few times I was so nervous I felt sick. Another time I got into my swimming gear at the pool, got showered, had one look at the pool and got the hell out of there. But the last time I was there, my breathing was starting to get more coordinated and I did a few lengths front crawl, although still without putting my face properly in the water. I'm working on it. I hope to be swimming all front crawl properly (ie face-in-water) by the end of week 3.

One annoying thing about the last swim was that I started getting painful cramps in my calves that were sore most of the next day. However I went for my run as normal and it didn't bother them in fact I think it probably helped. I went steady, doing 4.5 miles (3 loops of the park) and sprinted the last 300m home. It felt good, but it was too warm! I wore my compression leggings to help my tired legs. It's so hot and humid here, all grey and threatening rain but even when it does rain, it doesn't really clear the atmosphere.

I've been eating well, lots of clean food, very little sugar, although I have had one or two helpings of bread. I had baked potato one evening and then another the next day at lunch and I did suffer a bit for it. Luckily I'm not a huge fan, so I won't be eating them in a hurry again!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Change of blog address

Given the slight change in focus my blog has taken, I've decided it was time to rename. I was writing as much, if not more about exercise as food. I intend to write a lot more about the training, but I won't be neglecting the food I'll be eating to get me through it all. Just expect it to be aimed at good athletic performance, but it'll still be the same clean, IBS-friendly vegan diet.

So how am I getting on with this tri lark?

Yesterday, I'm afraid to say, I skipped my scheduled swim. I did actually go to the pool but it was so packed I went straight back home. I just couldn't handle the busy water. Too scary. Instead, I took my rest day and rescheduled the swim for today. I used my evening to go and collect two packages. The first was my new trainers.

They are so comfortable. Seriously great running shoes. Incredibly light, not really the barefoot feeling they market them as, but I don't think barefoot running and tarmac are a good combo, so a little support is very welcome.

The second was my bike!!! And my wetsuit, trisuit, cycle shoes, pedals, helmet and open water goggles all thrown in too. It was a really great deal. I got the tri package from these guys:
I spent the rest of the evening putting the bike together, screwing the cleats onto the shoes, that sort of thing.

Having had a rest day yesterday, by lunchtime today I was stircrazy. My body wanted to let off some steam. Anyway, I made it through the afternoon with a lot of bounding up stairs and skipping along empty corridors. I had a nice speedy walk home, and have just eaten a PB+sugar free jam sandwich. I'm going for my swim at 19:45, when I hope it'll be a good deal quieter. The unversity area's weekend starts on thursday evening, so I'm hoping more people will be down the pub than in the pool. Friday is a run day, then bike day on saturday, and sunday is another swim.

Tri fuel:

Baked potato with edamame beans in tomato passata, topped off with hummus and eaten with plenty of salad leaves. I don't eat potatoes very often, but this was quite nice.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Tri Training has begun!

I got up early this morning and wrote a post, then it got deleted:( Not sure what happened, but here we go again.
I started my 12 weeks tri training program yesterday. Basically I took two 12 week plans I got free online and mixed them up a bit and varied the days for different activities and rests to suit my life.

I worked out intensively enough at the weekend, with a spinning session, 2 strength training sessions, a real slog on my mum's elliptical and a 750m swim (a lot for me). This is what I ate to fuel up:

A big heap of tenderstem broccoli with tomato salsa. And yes, that is bread. I'm weak!

A high fibre cereal bar from Dorset Cereals, my favourite muesli company (especially their spelt one, but would love to see an all oat muesli), a black coffee and some motivational reading.

Close up of the bar. It's sweetened with agave nectar, which is very unusual in the UK. Nearly all 'health' bars are sweetened with honey.

A post-swim protein feast: broccoli, corn, butternut squash, bok choi, chilli and black eye beans in black bean sauce.

A couple of slices of melon and pineapple to rehydrate after a sweaty elliptical session.

So that was the weekend. Things began in earnest on Monday. I printed off my personalised plan, colour coded it and put it up on the kitchen wall. I joined my alma mater's sports centre- it's the closest pool to me, a fairly new facility and I pass it on the way to and from work, it's not much more than 5 minutes walk from my house. My neighbour who goes there has told me when the quiet times are! After that, I stuck the dinner on and did 2 speedy laps of the park, just over 3 miles in 20 minutes. When I got back, dinner was good to go! I was so hungry I didn't photograph. It was millet with a big heap of coconutty chilli veggies.
Today was biking day. As I still haven't got my new bike, this was half an hour on the cycling machine. Can't wait to get my bike!
Tomorrow will be my first visit to my new pool! I am nervous, I always find it a bit nervewracking going to new places alone, especially wearing tight fitting skimpy clothes and that ultra flattering combo, swim cap and goggles. I just have to go for it! I'm actually pretty proud of myself, I've been pushing my comfort boundaries quite a bit recently. In my book that can only be a good thing:)
In other news, my tummy continues to be very well behaved!

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Kicking IBS with veggies, beans and tri training. TMI warning!

A bought quinoa, wild rice, edamame, red pepper and butternut squash salad with a lemon basil dressing. There were some pumpkin seeds in there too. Deelish! I need to recreate this at home.
Super gingery sesame collard greens, onion and pepper with a nut burger.

Below: a big melange of cannellini beans, tomato, spinach and onion. Probably peppers and courgettes too, I forget!

My 12 week tri training is supposed to begin on monday! I still haven't sorted pool membership though, I need to do this early next week. In case I don't get a swim back home in the early part of the week, I'm going to get a swim in tomorrow while I'm staying at my parents. My sister likes swimming so we are going together. It'll be nice to have a swim buddy as I am not as confident in the pool yet as I'd like to be. But I'm excited about making progress. Speaking of which, this time last year was when my GI issues stepped up a gear. I got pretty badly constipated and a result ended up with haemorrhoids that I still haven't managed to totally get rid of. However, the last month has seen big improvements. That's because I've been swapping grains out fairly often for pulses or extra veggies (see above). All the extra fibre seems to be helping things and isn't irritating my gut. So for example, instead of pasta or noodles with tomato sauce, I have a big heap of steamed spring greens or broccoli. Instead of rice, I cook up a big pile of green lentils. Not only does this boost the fibre content in my diet, but all those greens and pulses are high in protein, great for repairing and building muscle after the extra strength training I've been adding to my routine.

I think I am finally making some headway with my digestive problems.
Quite simply, lots of water, lots of fibre and lots of exercise.

Also plenty of sleep and breathing exercises to ease stress.

Sugar, fat or starch-rich meals aren't doing me any favours. I'm still eating grains, just a lot less frequently and in smaller portions, and I'm choosing them more carefully. I go for high protein gluten free grains like millet, buckwheat, quinoa and amaranth, although I just have to have some nutty brown basmati or short grain rice every now and again.

After some experimenting, a fruit based breakfast suits my tummy best, although the odd bowl of pinhead oatmeal in the winter is no problem. I can handle a little muesli, as I eat it with twice the quantity of fruit. I would like to get into the way of veggies at breakfast, but I think a diet with variety is the way to go, and I get my veggies in later. It's best to eat part early in the day.

I also eat a little more frequently than before, usually four times a day. I find my tummy copes better with smaller meals, but then I get hungry sooner. So I obey the hunger, because I don't want to put myself in an energy deficit and wreck my training.

My non breakfast meals are about 2/3 veggies and 1/3 pulses (I count homemade bean burgers and hummus). I can handle very occasional tofu munching, and I have tempeh in the freezer to try.

My go-to treats are soy yogurt or amazake with frozen berries, dark chocolate or non-dairy ice cream (LOVE Booja Booja). I can only take biscuits (i.e. cookies) and other baked goods in very small amounts.

I have pictures of my eats for today on my camera, but can't get them uploaded to this computer, so I will edit the post tomorrow. Get ready for training galore next week!

In other news, I think I'm going to get my periods back soon (they've been vacationing for a while). I ovulated yesterday. This is good in a way because I was worried they'd gone away because of the running and I was worried about bone density loss. Does anyone else feel ovulation? I get a sharp pain for a couple of hours in whatever side it's happenin' at this time around. While it's quite uncomfortable, I think it's pretty valuable info!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Colour returns

This was breakfast this morning: spelt muesli, soy yogurt and a big heap of berry compote. Gluten is still keeping a low profile in my diet, but this stuff is super tasty, so I make the odd exception. However bread and pasta just won't go through my digestive system without kicking up a storm. I have had a few slices of bread over the last few weeks, usually when I'm not in my own house and I'm hungry. It always upsets my tummy for a couple of days.
In general I'm not eating much grain- instead I've been subbing them for lentils or beans to keep my fibre and protein intake nice and high.
Exercise has been super fun lately- I've added some strength training (hence the extra protein) and have been enjoying some long runs, and getting back into swimming. I ordered a new bicycle today! An entry level road bike so I can train properly for the tri in September. I haven't had a bike since October 2008, when my six month old bike was stolen from the carpark at work:( Along with my bike, I'm getting a swimming wetsuit to get out into the sea more. I had a nice sheltered sea swim last weekend. Mixing it up is such a great way to keep exercise from turning into a chore.

However, a few things have happened lately (not always to me) that make me really despair of the world we live in- why is it that some men think that a woman out getting some exercise, minding her own business, is fair game for unsolicited attention, wolf-whistles, cat calls, feeling up....yuck. Seriously. While I do get nervous sometimes, there's no way I'm changing my preferred workout or choice or clothing in case I might attract the attentions of some idiot with his brain rerouted through his you know whats. What really galls me is that if I was a guy, I wouldn't be typing this. Anyone else experience this sort of crap?