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What a January. I think I found the cure for seasonal affective disorder. Do stuff. Lots of stuff.

January was all about two things for me, the Iron/ultrafire challenges, and my now annual trip to Rochester to do something I love, with people I love. It has been an intense month to say the least.

Our friends at Octane Athletics put out a New Year Challenge to do the mileage of an Ironman in January. (2.4 swim, 112 bike, 26.2 run/walk) You don’t just get 17 hours, you get 31 days. No problem. I thought I’d try to do it in seven. But I hadn’t been on my bike or in a pool in months. So, it took me 13 days. Then a one-week finisher was going for a double, when I proposed an even longer challenge: the mileage of Ultraman. (6.2 swim, 261.4 bike, 52.4 run/walk). A bunch of these guys jumped on the idea and #ironfire got a big brother in #ultrafire.

I knocked out the swim easily, just a few sessions. The bike was harder since I don’t sit in the saddle for long very well. I bought a cheap big cushy seat from Wal-mart and decided I don’t care how goofy it looks on my skinny Trek roadie. If it gets me moving, so be it. I did session from 6-12 miles typically, sometimes two a day. I really wanted to finish the bike by the 23rd because I was planning on driving to Rochester after work on Sunday the 24th. The big storm came on the 23rd, so I was house bound anyway. That day I did four separate sessions of 14 miles each, to do a half-ironman’s worth of biking in a day. That left me with 19 miles of walking to do in a week. Easy enough, except I really only got a couple chances to walk in Rochester, and did seven miles. I ended up with 11.6 left with two days to go. Work and family commitments meant getting in a mere three miles on January 30. January 31st I had to get in 8.6. It took three separate sessions, and yes I am waking up sore on February 1. But I did it.

So now what? More of the same? Yes and no. I did find that this experiment yielded some observations that I want to use properly. I found that a session on the bike trainer was really good at lowering my blood sugar, even better than walking. I did lose another 10 pounds in January. So it would seem that this course of action is appropriate for my blood sugar management and my weight loss.

But I also know that endurance training has its limits, and the hormonal issues that are tied to blood sugar cannot be doing great with chronic stress. And that’s what high mileage will create: chronic stress. So it’s time to dial it back a bit and add in weight training.

The banner picture is my office calendar. I hadn’t hung a paper calendar in years. But in addition to logging with digital devices, I really wanted to have a visual representation staring me in the face. I used a big blue X for each day I ate “right.” Only two days where I had something I shouldn’t have, and neither was a major binge or anything, but they weren’t worthy of an X. Those few orange spots are when I did some kind of strength, and it was minimal. Green is walking, yellow swimming, and light blue is biking. Mileage is written in each block.

For anyone who believes that weight loss is simply an issue of calorie-in-calorie-out, I submit that is hogwash. I ate about the same in December and in January. I have the photo log evidence. i exercised way way more in January. I lost more weight in December.

So now as I look to the next month, I need to set a new goal, but I am not sure what it looks like. 1000 kettlebell swings? 200 burpees? I don’t even know what those are honestly. I don’t lift enough to know what to shoot for right now. I definitely want to get my walking mileage up to get back on track with my 1000 miles in 2016 challenge. That shouldn’t be stressful if I am consistent and not piling it all up on the last day.

The real goal was to get my A1C into a non-diabetic range by my birthday, Feb 29. My last test was 5.4. I had some weird blood sugar spikes in Rochester which were connected to sleep deprivation followed by bad decisions in sleep deprivation. But I leveled out as soon as I was home. Whether a 4.9 is a reasonable expectation by the end of the month I can’t say. I am happy to be out of the imminent danger zone with a 5.4.

This has been easily the more boring blog post ever, and i don’t really like to be that guy who writes about the minutia of training. But this may be helpful in seeing the big picture patterns as I move toward health.

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