Sunday, January 29, 2006

Targets, targets, targets

If the truth be told I drifted through the first 30 (OK...40) something years of my life somewhat aimlessly. Underachieving, I'll probably admit. I suppose I've done OK and I'm not complaining, but one thing that has finally sunk in is that I always need a target. Focus. Something very specific to strive towards
Mrs M will probably reckon that this epiphany coincided with meeting her. She might be right
And right now I am incredibly motivated towards attempting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in February 2007, to mark my 50th birthday in May 2007 and also to try and raise £25,000 for World Vision. Please see the earlier article World Vision overcomes South West Trains for some more information on World Vision and click the link on the right Sponsor Andrew here for more information
Anyway, I suppose I'm reasonably fit for a 48 year old with a dodgy back, more allergies than you can point a hypodermic needle at, and a weird eating disorder...but I recognize that I ain't got a chance of getting to the top of 5,895m / 19,710 feet if I'm not in optimum physical fit as someone of my advancing years can be, at any rate. And mental condition too, but that's an entirely different challenge to be thought about in the next 13 months
Mrs M and I joined the Charterhouse gym shortly after the excesses of Christmas. I'm 48 and she's 44 in a month's time...we definitely need some motivation and some very tangible targets. As for the rest of the Kili 5, they probably don't have to plan the fitness thing quite as meticulously or far ahead as we old farts do (that's me, Gill..not you, obviously). Jon (42) is a rangy sort of character and build, and I reckon he'll meander up Kili barely breaking sweat; Esther/Eszt/Est is a mere 25, in the prime of her life and taking a healthily cautious view of her chances which should help by all accounts. Steve, 21 later this month, left the prime of his life in Oz and NZ a couple of years ago but his training is definitely on track: I walked to the car yesterday
I had a health and fitness check thingy yesterday. I need that benchmark...a measure of where I am today compared with where I need to be on February 23, 2007 when we see the snow-capped peak for the first time. And I know it's a bloody long way in every sense

Here's what I got from a very pleasant 30 minutes with Julie:

Height: 181cm (target = 185cm)

Weight: 73kg (hmmm...I've been 75kg for years now. Not sure why I've dropped a couple of kg recently, especially after a lot of rum punch and jerk chicken at Christmas). Might need to bulk up a bit to get my puny frame up 5,895m in sub zero temperatures

Blood pressure: 118/74mm/Hg. Fine. 118/74 compared with the normal (120/80) range. Stick to a healthy diet, minimising the intake of saturated fats and keep up with your regular aerobic exercise. There's no saturated fat in the weekend bacon butties, right?

Body fat: percentage body fat refers to the proportion of your body fat that is comprised of fat. Your assessment indicated a level of 18.1% which is within the recommended range of 14-20%. Really push yourself on the cardiovascular the end of the day the harder you work, the better the results will be.Thanks, Julie, but sometimes I just don't feel like really pushing myself on the treadmill after a long day sweating for The Motley Fool and wrestling with South West Trains

Flexibility: this is an important factor for injury prevention and to assist in day to day activities. Your flexibility in the sit and reach test, particularly in the hamstrings could be improved. You obtained 20 cms, which is below the minimum range (22-31 cms) for your age. Flexibility can be increased by taking more time to stretch properly before and after exercise. Oops. This one hurt. I'm blaming the pathetic hamstring bendiness on my bad back...but I know I've never stretched properly before or after exercise, I just want to get on with it. Definitely a could do better area. I'll aim for an ambitious improved target of 24 cms

Stamina (aerobic fitness): basically the ability of the heart, lungs and rest of the cardio respiratory system to deliver oxygen to the exercising muscles.From the test we carried out on the treadmill I have worked out your aerobic fitness (running comfortably on the treadmill for 1 mile / 1.6 km while hooked up to a heart monitor thing...I think it took me about 8 minutes) and my heart rate at the finish was 139 bpm

VO2MAX = maximum oxygen uptake (ml/kg/min). In other words the maximum capacity of oxygen you can get to your muscles in ml, per kg of body weight per minute. You obtained 57.5 ml/kg/min, which is in the EXCELLENT category for your age group (40+) so you should be very pleased. Too right I'm pleased, Julie...this is going to be crucial to try and get to Kili's summit where we'll have less than half of our normal oxygen intake, apparently. Hoorah

Here's how you can work out your own VO2MAX in the future (are you ready for this?):

108.44 - (0.164 x weight)(kg)) - (1.438 x mile jog time (m)) - (0.193 x final heart rate)

This formula is for the guys, by the way, so get measuring, Jon & Steve. I'm targeting a significant improvement, but not quantifying it yet! Obviously the higher it is the more oxygen you can uptake and the fitter you are

I'm trying to persuade Gill to take a similar test to benchmark her own fitness level, and hopefully she can get the girlies' VO2MAX magic formula if she & Est are vaguely interested in any of this mumbo jumbo

Water: for the amount of exercise you do your water percentage was good. You were within the recommended range (55-65%) with 60.1%. It is recommended that for an active person two and a half litres of water should be drunk per day. Apparently this water intake is absolutely critical during the Kili climb...if you don't drink enough you'll dehydrate and don't stand a chance of dealing with the altitude. And of course if you do drink enough you spend half the day peeing. Which is a good thing because it forces you to rest a lot

Conclusion: your aerobic fitness is excellent so just work at maintaining that. Your flexibility should be improved though just remember to stretch properly before and after your workout sessions and hold your cool down stretches for longer than your warm up stretches. Other than that, continue what you're doing. Well done, keep up the good work. And of course you're allowed 4 pints of lager and a curry every Friday, Saturday and Wednesday night

OK, I made up that last bit but otherwise not too shabby for an old git, eh? Still got something to aim for in the next 13 months so that I've got a fighting chance of summiting Kili, though. Thanks, Julie for an enjoyable and thought-provoking experience. The fitness assessment was OK, too

I hope that when I look back at this article and measurements this time next year I'll be on the right track...and maybe the rest of the Kili 5 would like to record some of their own stats to benchmark their progress. Or not. But everyone needs a target, right.....?


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