February Health Log

This is the 54th day and the second monthly health log where I do a bit of reflective practice. You can read previous logs here: Jan. All round the results have been solid this month, I’m losing fat at 440 grams average per week. I’ve started preventative physio for my legs, been increasing running volume and variety, weights sessions are seeing a good volume increase too. No major slip ups on food, that feels really well tuned in. Booze was more than I’d like which needs addressing this month. I will run my first half in 33 days so I will be refining my training towards that.


  • Say goodbye to my gut fat
  • Improve cardio performance
  • Improve gut health
  • Drink less booze


28 days of Feb: down 1.6kg of fat. 143.05km of running. 6 lifting sessions.

Jan 6th Jan 31st Feb 28th Month
Weight (kg) 68.2 65.3 62.8 -2.5 -5.4
Fat (%) 22.2 19.6 17.8 -2.6 -4.4
Muscle (kg) 50.4 49.8 49 -0.8 -1.4
Fat Mass (kg) 15.1 12.8 11.2 -1.6 -3.9


It’s the second month of dedicated focus on my health. I did a reset last month and started easing back into training and progressively adding volume. For the last few years I’d been ballooning in weight and fat. My diet was all over the place and my training was inconsistent or non existent for weeks on end.

What did I do in February?

Food & Drink

  • No big changes on food, I’m hovering between 2-3 meals a day, aiming to maximise protein at 42 grams per meal. Small amount of whole carbs, variety of veg and fruits
  • A few meals out, takeaways here and there so I’m not working off an unsustainable model of pure whole and unprocessed foods. Added a couple of absolute bangers I had out locally below.
  • Booze went off track after seeing a few people, definitely felt the impact of just a few extra drinks compared to January.
  • No fasting, I considered a 2+ day one but I’m slightly hesitant as I’m balancing a higher volume of running with a reduced meal size already. Perhaps after the first half race it’s worth a shot.
  • Experimented with adding coffee back in on a few occasions because I do really love it. Mixed results, a range of feeling OK, anxious and gut somersault. I’m really on the fence about coffee. Perhaps I just stick to certain days of the week to enjoy it. Whatever happens, I’ve broken through the pattern of depending on it twice daily and my gut grinding for hours on end.


  • Bought the Polar H10 and I’m using this in the gym and outside to keep a close eye on the heart rate goal for the session. I’m working off the zones in Strava, which I know are estimates so I’m still interested in getting a VO2 max test done to see what my zones and lactate levels actually look like.
  • I noticed my pace had to increase by a fair bit (I might be able to figure this out from Strava) in my zone two sessions to get out of zone one. This led very mild muscle strain because my legs just haven’t got used to moving at that pace yet
  • No half distance for February, I might squeeze that one out in the next few days of early March, however the weather looks well rank.
  • Ran a total of 143.05km in February. Peaches did her first 10km. I did a silly experiment to see how fast and far I could run in the park – managed 3 km at 3:59 /km pace. I’m finding it hard to easily pull data from Strava on my effort sessions, which tells me I need to make a better effort at labelling runs if I really care about organising the data.
  • My cardio recovery markers have improved by a big leap, see Apple Health trend below.
  • Physio for knees and legs is going really well. Had a video appointment with a physiotherapist and he sent a bunch of extra exercises. I’ve got a nice routine going now and added bands, a wobble cushion and a range of exercises to mix it up.
  • Weight training has been at an average once a week, I’m seeing more volume and better form in a few exercises.
  • I still haven’t cracked how to make pull ups a part of my weekly routine, perhaps I need to book these in for after I have dropped Peaches off at school. That way I know I would get x3 sessions a week.

Plan for March

  • Get ready for the Putney Half, this is on the 2nd of April. I need to do a bit of reading about the best training plan, my bet is I will want to be doing a wee bit of zone two the week before and that’s it.
  • I haven’t yet done any park intervals, so that’d be fun to try. I messed about with the Apple Watch programs and it seems pretty easy to program something into the watch too. My gut says it might just be easier to measure a distance in the park and go for that on loops. Let’s see.
  • I’ve also been wondering if I set running distance/duration targets for each week. Strava tracks this in the activity view very nicely so they could help nudge me along if I get sidetracked.
  • The treadmills can be very sketchy at reading the live heart rate, there seems to be no logic to when they cut out or if one treadmill is more reliable than the others. I’ve downloaded an app that I’m going to test drive that claims it gives a live view on the phone. Although, in writing this I now realise that I won’t be able to watch any live DJ Sets which really keep me going. Bugger. I guess I could take an iPad and iPhone, but jeez, way to look like a complete melt. Bottom line, how do I keep track of my heart rate without needing to glance at the watch constantly.
  • Back on to strict low drinking. I’ve already had a kick start this week just gone and was only out on Friday for x3 drinks with Jess.
  • More prehab / physio conditioning for my legs. This is going great and I’m keen to get as much as I can in to bolster up the running strength and be ahead of any injury risks. I might pop my routine up as a webpost here, the only issue is the visuals, I guess I could record myself doing them but that’s a bit cringe.
  • In terms of body fat goals, it’s highly likely I’m getting into the really difficult stage very soon. I’ve been in the high 17% for a total of five days on and off at the point of writing this on 4th March. Realistically, I should be looking at ending March in the high 16%, stretch goal of making the low 16%/high 15%. Again, let’s see. It might just take a couple of months to get there depending on my body’s adaptation.

What have I learned?

  • Prehab / physio / stretching at least three times a week is essential for strength and bolstering running performance.
  • Even with a high quality diet and gut health foods I can’t avoid the damage even a low amount booze has on my gut condition.
  • Tracking and planning my running session types will help prepare my legs for faster speeds as my cardiovascular performance improves.


Written by
Lawrence Brown on 5th March 2023

January Health Log

This year I’m rebooting some plans from last year. The monthly log is still a solid bit of reflective practice, a chance to celebrate any wins and set the attention for the coming month. I put too much pressure on the Hackney Half last year so I’m going to do four half marathons rather than just one in 2023. That way, I always need to be training and there is no big pressure, just consistency. I’d love to close this year with no love handles, 40 is around the corner and it’d be a delight to feel and look amazing.


  • Say goodbye to my gut fat
  • Improve cardio performance
  • Improve gut health
  • Drink less booze


26 days of Jan: down 2.3kg of fat. 9 hours of running, 85.7km. 7 lifting sessions. 42% of the month I drank booze. Gut inflamation down.

Jan 6th Jan 31st Change
Weight (kg) 68.2 65.3 -2.9
Fat (%) 22.2 19.6 -2.6
Muscle (%) 50.4 49.8 -0.6
Fat Mass (kg) 15.1 12.8 -2.3


2022 featured valiant efforts to run, build muscle and lose fat. These were thwarted by covid, colds, holidays and a decadent summer. Towards the end of the year I got back to running and lifting in a consistent rhythm. As a result of zone two running my resting heart rate dropped down. My nutrition choices were clearly out of whack as my gut started getting more unstable and inflamed. A new year, back from Mexico and I hatched a plan to reset the dials on my health. As much as 2022 did feel like a flop, I ended the year not as fat as I started – I was 73 kg and 25% fat in April 2022. So, not all bad news.

What did I do in January?

Food & Drink

  • I landed back in the UK on 6th Jan with food poisoning. A couple of days of fasting and slowly introducing chicken and rice helped my gut inflammation. The plan was to slowly start adding more fibre day by day.
  • Cut to one meal a day for ~five days. Started to feel woozy when adding running and lifting back in. I was also concerned about not getting enough nutrition each day.
  • Stumbled upon Tim Spector interview, researched further and bought recommended high polyphenol foods.
  • Stayed off booze for a few days to give my gut a good chance of restoration.
  • Set a rough guide on only drinking when I go out with friends, no drinking at home unless it’s a special occasion. Red wine only and I’m tracking how many I have.
  • Purchased three bottles of nice wine to hold back for special occasions. I want to reverse the pattern of home drinking and perhaps build up a collection of good bottles.
  • Had one coffee as a test on my first day back to work. It made me anxious and tense, randomly clicking things on the computer with no real sense of focus. I’ve stayed off coffee since.
  • Started eating fish, one tin of mackerel in the morning to add omega3 into my diet.
  • Ate very little processed food, sugar and take-aways. I had a Five Guys burger and some Chick N’ Sours, but no snacks and puddings from M&S.


  • Got back on the treadmill for zone two runs, averaging five runs a week. Got one interval session in which I think gave me a bit of strain due to my treadmill form at a fast pace.
  • Ran a half marathon distance set to Maffetone Method heart rate of 148 bpm. The thinking was to mentally and physically get used to it. Went slightly turbo in the last 2km and completed it with a sub 2 hours time. IT bands were quite tight for the next two days, recovery was a breeze though.
  • Started stretching a lot more, I think I know enough stretches by memory now to do it zone out and crack on for at least fifteen minutes.
  • Tried one (or two?) lifting sessions where the weight was at the top end so I could only do 3-6 reps. Had a couple of mini and long workouts.

Plan for next month

  • Accurate heart rate tracking after buying the Polar H10, I want to combine this with heart rate alarms on my watch for outdoor running so I can keep in zones easily.
  • Get another half distance in. Add a couple of interval sessions in the park so I can concentrate on form that seems harder for me to get right on a treadmill
  • Focused IT band physio sessions at home, I’ve created a Notion gif cheat sheet from YouTube tutorial videos.
  • Experiment with ~two minute high intensity exercise bursts through the work days to improve fat loss, vitality and heart strength — probably by doing jumping jacks.
  • I’ve already started making sure Peaches gets walked after I’ve eaten dinner, helping smooth out my blood sugar spikes.
  • Plan out my training across the week and for the year. Nothing too complex, just picking what will happen in the week and keeping tabs on race dates across as they come into view – reduced booze and training effort.
  • Two day long fast. I’m keen to see if I notice any benefits other than fat loss, mainly to gut and skin health.
  • Even less drinking. The toughest part to crack is only having three small glasses of red wine when I’m at a pub or bar.
  • Continue with Tim Spector approach to nutrition. If time allows I might write down a few recipes so I have dishes I can lean on with no effort.
  • I want to say goodbye to vaping. I’m really stuck on how to scrub this one, I’m considering hypnosis.

What have I learned?

  • Eating a wide range of plants high in polyphenols helps increase the microbiome diversity which improves gut health, brain activity and supports weight loss.
  • Lean protein appears to be more suitable for fat loss for my body, switching from thighs to breasts has made a noticeable difference.
  • My heart rate is lowering when running. Both average and maximum are down in my training log when doing the same pace on the treadmill.
  • Drinking is getting harder on me as I get older. Even with easing up on the frequency and volume over January I still noticed gut inflammation, fatigue, brain fog and increased heart rate on days after drinks.
  • Currently I’m shifting 300 grams of fat a week, I have to remind myself that the initial bit is always easier than the rest


Written by
Lawrence Brown on 5th February 2023

July Training, Not Training

If you’re reading this and you’re not me, it probably won’t be that thrilling. There are plenty of other content nuggets more compelling and scientific to consume on exercise and health. This is the fourth web post that logs what is on my mind so I can refer back to it later. Read April’s here, May’s here and June’s here. The aim is these monthly posts will be valuable to rewire habits and thinking with my training.

Goal: Keep on reducing body fat so I look good on the beach

Results: Progress stalled, workouts and running significantly down, skipping meals has been helping maintain weight

April 1st April 29th May 31st June 28th July 29th Month
Weight (kg) 73.1 69.8 68.6 66.1 66.4 +0.3 -6.7
Fat (%) 25 22.6 22 20.5 20.6 +0.1 -4.4
Muscle (%) 71.2 73.4 74.1 75.4 75.4 0 -4.2
Fat Mass (kg) 18.3 15.8 15.1 13.6 13.7 +0.1 -4.6

I’ve reached what could easily turn into the inflection point. Four months of concentrating on my body, diet and exercise and the progress has stalled. I’ve been here before and gained the weight, undone the habitual cache of exercise and stuffed any old food in my mouth. Today is 1st August, I need a reboot, a level up a back to basics to avoid the inflection point.

There have been a couple of small wins this month, more on that in a bit.

Context: Eighteen weeks into the mission of losing fat, gaining muscle and improving cardiovascular performance I’ve plateaued in the last four weeks. For a variety of reasons I’ve started to fall off the wagon. I need to get back on. July has been crap. Hardly any workouts, running or progression to speak of.

I’m still feeling really motivated to carry on and recalibrate. Not to dwell on the last month for too long, I think it has been a combination of drinking too much, hot weather, holidays, bad sleep (see drinking and hot weather).

How about some good stuff? I put 2KG on going on holiday for a week and eating everything. The good bit – within four days of returning and skipping meals I lost 2.8KG. And, I saw my first sub 20% body fat on the scale – 19.7%.

Not eating is the biggest progression accelerator.

Plan for August

  • Full house on training, show up to each planned session
  • Drop 2% body fat
  • Reduce drinking right down
  • Improve sleep
  • Get back on the wagon
  • Think, research and write about mindsets – what makes us believe we’re staying on the wagon


Written by
Lawrence Brown on 1st August 2022

June Training

If you’re reading this and you’re not me, it probably won’t be that thrilling. There are plenty of other content nuggets more compelling and scientific to consume on exercise and health. This is the third web post that logs what is on my mind so I can refer back to it later. Read April’s here and May’s here. The aim is these monthly posts will be valuable to rewire habits and thinking with my training.

Goal: Keep on reducing body fat so I look good on the beach

Results: Slow start to the month but a strong finish, closing in on sub 20% body fat

April 1st April 29th May 31st June 28th Month
Weight (kg) 73.1 69.8 68.6 66.1 -2.5 -7
Fat (%) 25 22.6 22 20.5 -1.5 -4.5
Muscle (%) 71.2 73.4 74.1 75.4 1.3 -4.2
Fat Mass (kg) 18.3 15.8 15.1 13.6 -1.5 -4.7

I didn’t get back into jogging until half way through the month, once I’m in a rut I stay there and I’d love to design a way that I can break out of it. The last two weeks I’ve got three weights sessions in, several one meal per day days and I’m really chuffed to be seeing 66’s-kgs on the scale for what I think might be a decade.

Context: For the last 12 weeks I’ve been working towards the goal of shifting fat, growing a bit of muscle and increasing my cardiovascular performance. Last month in May the plan took a slight detour when I got quite sick for a long time, spent a long time not moving and recovering. Q2’s plan was all about the Hackney Half training, better attention to diet and following one all round weights routine that ensured I worked my core and legs as well as my upper body.

June has been pretty good, considering it gets harder to shift mass as you lose more of it, the numbers above are quite strong. I’m still really motivated by the idea of looking great on the beach, I’ve never felt confident in my body to wonder around in the sun without keeping a baggy t-shirt on. The longer this journey goes on, the less the numbers are really in my head and more the visual of not having a podgy overhang on my trousers, boxers or shorts. They are still handy to keep the balance of “what happens next?” when getting on the scales twice a week.

What has happened?

  • Longer durations between eating, sometimes eating once a day
  • Some meals are just protein and veg
  • There were a couple of spikes in weight data, from memory this was poor eating and no running
  • Two experiments ran with weights sessions flat out (~30min)
  • Upped weights on a few exercises, made some harder by body position
  • Jogging at the gym started again half way through the month, pace 7km/h
  • Lowered boozing during the week for half the month

When I was sick in May I extended skipping meals a bit longer than just breakfast. This month I’ve done it again a few times and it works especially well after a weekend of eating out and catching up with people. For example, eating between 3-5pm on Sunday and then waiting until Monday 5-6pm to eat again is pretty easy for me. I have wondered about setting fixed days in the week to do this but I think it’s better to do it ad hoc to allow for a flexible social and couples calendar.

Look at the graph below. The start of the month had a couple of spikes (“Lynn, I’ve pierced my foot on a spiiiiike!). I can’t remember specifically what happened there, my bet is it was sweets, take-aways, eating out and booze compounded. I wasn’t back running again at the start of the month either. The fasting, dog walking and weights seemed to nicely correct them pretty quickly. I did end up thinking about when I’m my ideal body weight and shape – what will my maintenance intake of food look like? My bet is on skipping meals, the benefits are huge and I will always be doing this in some form regardless of how steady I feel.

Weights. The two sessions I did at fast pace – fifteen exercises with zero rest in between until one set was complete – were an absolute energy drain for nearly three days afterwards. I haven’t looked into if the increase in pace is beneficial in any way. It is reassuring to know it can be done in ~30 mins, but it kind of sucked doing it. As soon as form vanishes or motivation dips, it feels like it would be easy to get out of the rhythm of 2-3 routines a week. I started upping some weights 2kgs, second sets was mostly possible, sometimes a reduction in reps. I also made press ups a touch harder by changing hand positioning and switched to a leg elevated bench dip.

The plan is that Q3 will have two weights routines. One normal mode, one functional strength. My bet right now is that doing every single one as functional strength may be too hard to sustain three times a week. Somedays you need to show up and get on with it after a bad sleep or a night out – so I’m building in that insurance layer to the plan. I need to start the routine tomorrow and currently it’ very scrappy – Russian twists, farmer carries, press up and raise above head, walking lunges, standing press, pull ups, jackknife sit-up, push to dumbbell burpie, squats, calve raises. Not yet added to my Strong app as a routine. Let’s see.

Not much to say about the running itself, it just needs to happen. I’ve started making a techno playlist on YouTube so I can watch DJs mixing while running, probably the easiest way to zone out for 30/40 mins.

Finally, here are the quarters numbers:

Plan for next month

  • Call me crazy, I might do a dexa body scan ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  (might)
  • More skipping meals, boost that mitochondria fat breaking function
  • Fast runs need to come back, two weeks of jogging under my belt so this should be easy
  • Functional strength routine should help grow and develop more interesting muscles than the isolated normie ones
  • Training while in Barcelona, don’t let the flights make you fat
  • Stability training of some type, probably combined with warm ups and cool downs on running
  • I feel slightly under prepared with the details on the training, it will help to get a few basics down on paper for the month
  • Drop 2% fat (<18% body fat by August 1st)


Written by
Lawrence Brown on 30th June 2022

May Training

If you’re reading this and you’re not me, it probably won’t be that thrilling. There are plenty of other content nuggets more compelling and scientific to consume on exercise and health. This is the second web post that logs what is on my mind so I can refer back to it later. Read April 2022 training post here. The aim is these monthly posts will be valuable to rewire habits and thinking with my training.

Goal: Reduce body fat and build a reliable base fitness for running Hackney Half marathon in 60 days. Start date 1st April, race date 22nd May.

Results: Cold virus contracted on 2nd May, too sick to run.

April 1st April 29th May 31st Month
Weight (kg) 73.1 69.8 68.6 -1.2 -4.5
Fat (%) 25 22.6 22 -0.6 -3
Muscle (%) 71.2 73.4 74.1 0.7 -2.9
Fat Mass (kg) 18.3 15.8 15.1 -0.7 3.2

It has been 29 gruelling days of living with a cold virus. I managed all of two runs and seven weights session. Cancelled running the half marathon and I’m gutted about the outcome.

Context: I started May the leanest, strongest and fastest I’d been in years. On April 30th I ran for an hour at my race pace, felt amazing and logged a 4:39 /km average. My assumption was that I’d train for three more weeks up to the half marathon and focus on three times: 1:35 – 1:40 – 1:50.  I bet that I’d finish the month with my weight around 67kg and be closer to <20% body fat. I’d just come from months of ballooning and no running, more detail on this in April’s web log.

What happen?

  • Caught the cold virus (probably at a night out in Birmingham) on the 30th April, by the 2nd of April I was in bed
  • Training ground to a halt, I was too sick to concentrate, work, run and sleep
  • The virus haunted me on and off for three weeks, I always felt like I was around the corner from recovery – I never quite arrived until week four since being in bed. Week four I was back at work and had my spirit and energy back
  • During week three of the virus my GP was alarmed by the blood coming from my nose and sent me for chest x-rays, bloods and a face to face consultation
  • My assumption that I had sinusitis turned out to be true, a huge relief after an evening in hospital
  • Seven weights training session in total over month, I think the goal would have been 14
  • Two runs, one while sick which was a terrible idea, one yesterday now I’m better
  • Skipped two meals on a few days, eating only dinner
  • Indulged on food more times than I can remember, puddings, large portions, take-outs, carb heavy options

What a shitty month. Perhaps one of the most prominent examples in my life of a well made plan not going to plan. Perhaps running races are just cursed. Before I delve further into the dark of the last month, I’m going to look at a few positives that and the bigger picture. I reached 67.2kg | 21% body fat | 14.1kg fat mass on May 26th – this is with diet being all over the place, no running and a few weight sessions. That is just under 6kg total loss, 4% body fat loss and 4.2kg of fat mass loss in 60 days. Those are some great stats and they can get better. On top of that, my weights session yesterday (Mon 30th May) saw me push arnold press and tricep extension up to 14kg, squat, goblet squat and floor press all to 20kg. I learnt that the dog can jog! Over the last year I’ve tried running with her and it’s been a nightmare, she steps into a sprint and pulls your arm out of its socket whilst tripping you up with the lead when she changes direction. However, if you jog and never let her get past a fast trot – she can actually jog. I’ve done about three of these so far, ideally I want to get as many in as possible in June. My belly isn’t so fat that my Nike Germany t-shirt clings to it, only noticed this month. Skipping two meals wasn’t that hard. I want to test this out now I’m feeling heaps better, it could have been the ride of paracetamol, endless tea and living on a sofa that made it so easy. However tricky it might be, I’ve been learning about the benefits so I’m all for as many additional skipped meals as I can squeeze in whilst still feeling strong and capable. Which leads nicely into learning about electrolytes. In the past, when I’ve skipped meals I haven’t had any supplements. In June I’m going to see how I feel when topping up on electrolytes.

Right, onto some analysis – I haven’t seen huge wins this month, it is a slow and steady improvement. Which is okay, but we’re approaching familiar plateau. Potentially a dangerously complacent one when combined with no running. The total wins of dropping a bunch of fat of 60 days can easily become the only thing I concentrate on. Whilst at the same time my fat loss is slowing, my eating plan is closer to random guess work and a few bad habits of sweet treats are creeping back in. If we add all these together the forecast could easily trend back to fat gain. The numbers right now look like this:

Note: I mentioned the best day of the month, this wasn’t a weigh in day so it sat between logged spreadsheet days.

May is now behind me. Thinking about the 30 days of June, what do I want to get out of it? I really want to break into the sub 20% body fat. Now, this is a strange concept as fat percentage is calculated from total weight and a dexa scan is the only real way to determine fat composition. So the goal is more about seeing the fat loss in the mirror and feeling less fat. I’m using my scales a bit like I use Google Maps when I have a working knowledge of how to get somewhere, it’s a calibrator to keep you in check. Also, as I can still pinch a fair old grab of belly fat with my finger and thumb – theres no real concern on the metric accuracy when the evidence is a fist of fat.

Next up, running. Running and spinning. From watching a few training videos I really like the idea of mixing up my heart rate zone 2 training with spinning so I get the benefits of effort exertion but I’m not overworking muscles in the same way day on day. This should reduce the risk of injury and increase the volume of training. Dog jogs, park jogs, in and then out routes, fast laps in Victoria Park and laps with Chris are all on the cards. I might not hit the final target this month, but there is a plan to do a half marathon distance with Hollie on the bike next to me when I feel as physically fit as I did on April 30th.

I’m going to continue with the Q2 weight lifting routine, ideally pushing a few sessions to fatigue, overload and reduce the rest time. These will be done on days where I’m well slept and up for the intensity. It would be a nice to have to get some big lifts in at the gym, highly likely to only do these if and when.

Food is easy to get complacent about, theres been a lot of eating out, over eating, eating sugar and carby meals and larger portion sizes this month. June is about recalibrating these. I’m tempted to set some rules on the consumption, but, I know they tend to be hard to follow to the letter. I will let the scales guide me and aim for a mix of skipped meals and veg/protein only after spikes. I do need to get better at picking healthier options when I eat out. I’m still in the stage of seeing weight loss even when not running, however, my bet is this will plateau soon if what I’m eating still follows three a day and spikes. It is a tough one as I don’t sustain a strict plan for long.

Plan for next month

  • 65kg | 19% body fat | 12kg fat mass – these are tough targets, but that’s the point, right?
  • Running training back to 1hr at 4:39 /km average or better
  • Run with Chris, dog and in-and-out routes
  • 15 chin-ups in a row
  • Four mega weights session (low rest, higher volume)
  • Skip breakfast unless a weekend, skip three lunches on weekdays (around 40% meal skipping from three meals a day)
  • 50% of meals out are healthier options and/or not a full portion eaten


Written by
Lawrence Brown on 31st May 2022

April Training

If you’re reading this and you’re not me, it probably won’t be that thrilling. There are plenty of other content nuggets more compelling and scientific to consume on exercise and health. I’m writing this down to clear it out my mind and refer back to later. These two things feel most important to me right now, clear a busy mind, keep myself on the horse. Hopefully, these monthly posts will be valuable to rewire habits and thinking if and when I’m not training like I have in the last month.

Goal: Reduce body fat and build a reliable base fitness for running Hackney Half marathon in 60 days. Start date 1st April, race date 22nd May.

Results: A solid start out the gate.

April 1st April 29th Change
Weight (kg) 73.1 69.8 -3.3
Fat (%) 25 22.6 -2.4
Muscle (%) 71.2 73.4 2.2
Fat Mass (kg) 18.3 15.8 -2.5

All round, I’m feeling stronger and faster. The training of 2-3 weights and 3-4 runs a week is a better mix than just the weights.

Context: I’ve got the Hackney Half coming up in a few weeks. It will be my fourth half marathon and I’ve gone into the last three with no training plan. The first quarter of this year was pretty focused. I chose to do an enjoyable weights routine, trained every Monday, Wednesday and Friday – covid and travel permitting. I started karate training for the first time as an adult and was at practice nearly every Monday and Thursday. The focus and discipline from that quarter feels banked, just like a savings account with a wedge of money in. It feels like it has potential.

However, I’d noticed my weight creeping up. When I caught a side view of my gut in the mirror it was depressingly large. Hollie and I had chatted about going to the beach in Mexico in March. It filled me with dread knowing that my pregnant milky belly would be joining us. That idea got scrapped.

So, I had a huge slice of motivation to feed the change. Perhaps destroying a few less huge slices of pizza might also help. Last year I reached around 68.6kg and 21.9% body fat when I focused on my food and training. I didn’t look amazing. But I looked and felt heaps better than I did going into April.

What has happened?

  • Skipping breakfast, dropping oat milk before 1pm
  • Added more protein back in to meals, cooking quick pan veg, brown rice, chicken
  • Watching booze, aiming for 1-2 drinks max on casual nights
  • Weight training is now full body routine, reps till failure on a few exercises
  • Started 50 min jogs 2-3 times a week, staying in heart rate zone 2
  • Started incremental fast runs 2 times a week, going off how my legs feel and sustainable pace for the time allocated (20, 30, 40 mins)
  • Focusing on form when running: mid foot strike, feet under knees, upper body leaning forward, quick steps
  • Weigh in every Tuesday and Friday, keep it on track but avoid the spiral of weekend fluctuations

Skipping breakfast most days makes sense. I find it easy and the benefits to insulin spikes are a massive win. I’m trying out removing coffee to improve my diverticular reactions. The experiment is to see if coffee alone (not caffeine) impacts my ability to form a 3-4 score Bristol stool scale poop. Oat milk has been dropped from tea before lunch. I don’t mind black tea but would like to find other teas to mix it up.

A few weeks before the race and I’m not overthinking the food. I know chicken, veg and rice is very easy and quick to make. Hopefully the macronutrients are near enough. Once the race is done I might look at measuring macronutrients again, although there is more of a temptation to try skipping a day of food or two meals here and there instead.

Booze hasn’t seemed to have a massive impact on weight loss, however, a big however, it is messing up my sleep more than ever before. Lack of good sleep will only damage muscle recovery and kill opportunities for my body to shift weight. Three drinks (two beers and wine) was too much one night in April to get good sleep. FFS. Ideally I need a two drink limit on casual nights.

Weight training shifted from upper body only in Q1 to all body in Q2. I’ve been working my core a lot more and getting lunges and squats back in. Q1 routine was all about getting back on the horse, making it easy and doing exercises I enjoy. I didn’t push hard or challenge myself. The Q2 routine is about variation of muscle groups, core work, pushing a bit harder. I haven’t always met the three workouts a week goal I set, but, with adding running into the week I have needed rest days here and there. Morning workouts are best, any later in the day and my brain struggles to find deep concentration again. I’ve pushed the second round up to failure with reps or increase of weight.

While I was in Mexico I started researching and planning my running training. YouTube suggested Peter Attia’s podcast with Iñigo San-Millán on heart rate zone two training. A few aspects got my attention: lower resting heart rate, decrease in blood pressure, improving resilience and ability to deal with increasing load, improve zone four-five function and performance. I learnt for the first time about mitochondria and how zone two training improves the efficiency. I suck at keeping pace on the road, I need something to make it easier to just stay on the slow pace of heart rate zone two. A few months back Dan had showed me around his gym in Homerton. I bit the bullet and got a membership just to use a treadmill for jogging at zone two for 50 minute blocks.

My resting heart rate seems to have lowered from the mid sixties to mid fifties in the space of a month.

Faster running didn’t go exactly to plan. The plan has way too much volume. I dialled back the frequency to allow for recovery after listening to my legs. Nina and I had chatted about her shin splints, and remembering my history of injuries I just went off feel of legs alone. However, the results have been pretty good. Last training day of the month I held a 4:39 /km average for 60 minutes. Listening to the legs has been key and trying to get that heart rate sustainable on feel. I’ve not gone mad on the stats yet, guess I can tuck into those later when I’ve got my of a rhythm built up.

Form feels okay, I’m conscious that changing form before a race is a recipe for injury so I’m not forcing form when I run, just being mindful of easy stuff I can do to help my body: relaxed upper half, arms high and on beat, slight upper body lean, toes landing under knees.

Nothing exciting to say about weighing, expect it is essential to staying on the horse. I’ve been doing a couple of extra weighs here and there but only the Tuesday and Friday weigh ins get logged into the spreadsheet tracker. Think of it like checking your bank balance, you can wing it and guess that you’re doing okay or you can check it every few days and keep spending in check.

Plan for the next month

  • Drop at least 2 kg in weight
  • Sub 20% body fat, start focusing on shifting the teens
  • Reduce the impact on my body with a taper two weeks before the race, this means weight training will go down so I could see muscle staying at the same metrics I’m at now. This isn’t such a bother
  • Sleep as much possible, removing booze where possible or reducing it down to just one drink
  • Knee strengthening exercises every couple of days
  • Pull ups and chin ups
  • Film my running
  • Skip two meals in a day where possible


Written by
Lawrence Brown on 3rd May 2022