Every Day In May

The ElliptiGo Every Day In May (EDIM) challenge is for ElliptiGo riders worldwide to sign up and commit to riding their Go’s either 5,10 or 20 miles every day in May.

“I’m just not going to be able to do that” was my first reaction to the EDIM challenge.

I was away in Norway for starters, then with work commitments all over the UK when I got back it just wouldn’t be possible to do what was required.

It soon became clear that perhaps I could do it though.  The clever team at ElliptiGo were making this challenge as possible as they could by allowing 3 days where you can miss riding and 3 days where you can choose another form of aerobic training.  With 6 days to play with (20% of the month) I came round to thinking maybe I could do it.  Yes it would require some planning, early mornings, travelling with my ElliptiGo and some effort but actually I decided this was totally do-able.

I filled out the EDIM form on the ElliptiGo website sitting in a hotel room on 30th April at 11.30pm at night and I set my alarm for the early the next morning.  I didn’t have my ElliptiGo with me in Norway so I would get up and use an alternative training day pass.

I was staying in Alesund and was at the end of a ski tour trip.  There is a peak over the town that has the most incredible views, I had intended to go up there when I arrived the previous week, but the early departure meant I hadn’t been able to.  I had time in Alesund on my return, but I had blisters on my feet so had decided I wouldn’t do the run up to the view point.  Things had changed now though.  I had committed to the EDIM challenge, I had to do a run, I would strap my blisters and get on with it!

This view was my reward and I was so pleased I did it.

View over Alesund
View over Alesund

The following day I was still in Norway and without my ElliptiGo, I was flying back to the UK later in the day, my feet were too sore to run again, I was tired and had lots of reasons why today I could rest and do nothing.   But now I was signed up to the EDIM challenge and I was committed so when I passed a kayak rental shop I decided that would be a pretty cool alternative aerobic training – a paddle around the coastline.

It was fantastic.

Kayak in Alesund
Kayak in Alesund

Back in the UK and back to my EllitpiGo I was enjoying having to do the distance everyday.

Amazing rainbow during an EDIM Ride
Amazing rainbow during an EDIM Ride

Whatever the weather I had to Go out, so even on rainy, miserable days I completed the miles and not once did I think, I wish I hadn’t of done that!  Every ride I did left me feeling good.

My rides have been varied; I’ve used them to deliver chunks of Toblerone (See Toblerone blog), I have visited Helen and Nick (who set have set up ElliptiGo rental at Draycote Water in Rugby) to do a ride together and I have enjoyed breaking my own speed record on a short circuit I have been doing for a while!

Suunto Movescount Summary May 2015
Suunto Movescount Summary May 2015

Today is the 1st June and I’ve completed the EDIM challenge.  I realised that there were several days when I would have definitely not done the ride had I not made the commitment to the EDIM challenge.  Making a commitment to yourself quietly might work but actually making the commitment to other people, out loud – verbally or by writing it down – makes a HUGE difference.

It’s a simple process > Decide to do it > Commit to doing it > Do it!

It’s so effective that I’ve decided to do another challenge this month – it’s called Every Day In June!  It’s a bit different, with a few friends we’ve committed to eating clean for a month, which means NO SUGAR.

If anyone else wants to join us – you can… You can start on June 2nd!  All you need to do is tell me or tell someone, making the commitment out loud makes a huge difference.

 

 

 

 

 

Strategy – how I keep Go’ing

I have been surprised by how many of the skills that I have learnt and called upon to climb big mountains – I’ve also been able to apply to The Go Trek.

This trip will total almost 70days when I my journey ends on Friday and that’s the longest expedition that I have completed – even longer than my Everest trip!

Kit wise; my Rab sleeping bag (my comfort blanket!), my Peli head torch & my Powertraveller solar chargers all remind me of days in the mountains but I wasn’t expecting to find so many other similarities as I’ve ElliptiGo’ed through Europe.  After all I’ve not been remote, out of touch or without the comfort of regular showers and I’ve even enjoyed the luxury of a proper bed for some nights of the trip!

However, endurance is endurance and as the weeks have gone by and as with other expeditions, I’ve really had to keep focused mentally and very importantly look after my physical well-being.

It has been calculated that an ElliptiGo is 30% more effort to ride than a regular bicycle, add a trailer of 20-30kgs (depending on how much chocolate is in it!) and you have an idea of the energy needed to ride the Go.

In the first few weeks of the trip we were doing days of 20 – 70 miles and had a few rest days. It was a gentle start and allowed fitness and condition to increase. However as we came further South and reached Switzerland/France I began doing 100 mile plus days (often consecutively and in the mountains with lots of hill climbing).

As my aim has always been to hit the 3000mile target by Paris it’s meant that I’ve had to continue to cover large distances over extended and here’s how I’ve a. achieved it, and b. maintained my condition so that I can continue to do it.

  • Eating and drinking correctly. I’m keeping myself hydrated by drinking between 4 and 8 litres of water a day and I’m eating as many calories as I can take on board and eating every hour to avoid energy crashes. I stick to the same tried and tested routine that I use in the mountains – for me, the key is to eat before I feel hungry and drink before I feel thirsty.
  • Sleeping at least 7 hours a night. It might not sound a lot, but as long as I get this as a minimum I’m ok. I also find I sleep very deeply when I’m exercising to this degree and the quality of sleep I’m getting is good.
  • Working no harder than 70-80% of my full capacity. I’m using a slower pace to ensure that I can keep going and don’t burn out and I use my Suunto heart rate monitor to help me to do this.
  • Planning and taking rest days. When I was in Nice at the Ironman I met Bobby Julich (competitor in 2005/06 tour de France and now trainer for the top riders in the tour). We discussed tactics and Bobby said to me, “When you ride – ride hard and when you rest – rest hard”.

With that in mind I pushed hard last week so that I could have two days complete rest days.

I now I have just four more days Go’ing and I know that these will be long, hard days. But, if I continue to drink, eat and sleep well and maintain a steady pace….and if I keep this in mind (see below) then I’ll arrive in Paris having completed an amazing 3000miles!!

Anything is possible! .... Certainly trying anything is possible!
Anything is possible! …. Certainly trying anything is possible!

 

 

 

 

 

The Go Trek – Week Eight

Finishing last week after three 100mile days (an ElliptiGo hat trick!) meant that I welcomed a few days in Nice.  Although I had miles to cover, the time there meant that I had a couple of days of almost complete rest.

The cote d’azur is as glorious as it’s name suggests.

Gorgeous blue water - Nice, France.
Gorgeous blue water – Nice, France.

Jean-louis, inventor of the famous O Symetric ring, that Bradley Wiggins won the last tour de France with, is also the ElliptiGo distributor in the Cote d’azur.  Last Friday night was the grand opening of Jean-louis ElliptiGo showroom.  It was a great night and we met some very impressive athletes – French runner Marc Raquil and Belgium Ironman champion Frederic Vanlierde!

Dave and I with Marc Raquil & Frederic Vanlierde
Dave and I with Marc Raquil & Frederic Vanlierde

Frederic was in Nice for the Ironman that would be happening that weekend.  I was privileged to be invited to be the pacer for the leader of the marathon stage (the final part of the Ironman after the swim and run) on my ElliptiGo.  Frederic was favourite to win and we got the chance to chat about what he would need me to do if indeed he came through as the leader – my task was to clear the path in front and also act as a pacer for him.

Discussing tactics with Frederic Vanlierde
Discussing tactics with Frederic Vanlierde

I didn’t quite realise just what a big deal the Nice Ironman was and I was delighted to be a part of such an impressive event and help lead Fred all the way to his victory!

On the ElliptiGo with Frederic Vanlierde leading the marathon stage of the Nice Ironman - shortly before he won!
On the ElliptiGo with Frederic Vanlierde leading the marathon stage of the Nice Ironman – shortly before he won!

Bobby Julich (tour de france 05/06) was pacing the Woman leader – it was very cool getting to meet him too!

With Bobby Julich
With Bobby Julich

While I was in Nice I took the opportunity to enjoy the coastline and headed out early one morning to Italy, via Monaco!

Nipped over the boarder to Italy!
Nipped over the boarder to Italy!

I had said goodbye to Dave at the opening of the new ElliptiGo showroom, that was our final GoTrek event together before he headed back to the UK.  His departure didn’t really hit me until I left Nice though and set out before sunrise to continue to St Tropez.  It was an amazing morning but I was on my own and that felt very strange.

Being on my own didn’t last long!  After 20miles I was in Cannes and met with some fellow ElliptiGo’ers who would be joining me for the days ride.  It was great to be Go’ing in a group and the coastline was stunning.

We arrived at the Pan Dei Palais in St Tropez where we were greeted with a delicious lunch (thanks to Eric and Melanie for arranging).  I was also invited to stay the night at the hotel which was a real treat!

I was glad of the comfort that night because I had a very early start the next day, 4.45am… and I was on a mission!  I had friends who were in Avignon for the night as they travelled South on their holiday and I wanted to see them.  Looking at the map it didn’t look too far away (just a few centimetres!) however it was 129miles away.

It was a HUGE day but I did it… by 7.30pm that evening I was with Pippa and Nick in the Old Town of Avignon at ‘The Popes New Castle’!  We had a lovely evening together.  I was so happy to see them.

The following morning I departed Avignon after randomly bumping into some friends from the UK!  Incredible coincidence that they spotted the ElliptiGo as they drove past!

Randomly bumping into Ian and his wife!
Randomly bumping into Ian and his wife!

I set off into some serious headwind.  I’ve since learned it’s the famous mistral wind – it was horrendous.  I moved slowly… all day.  Freewheeling downhill which usually yields 20+mph only gave me 5mph.  Mentally it was one of the toughest days of the trip, but by the end of the day I’d still covered over 70miles and so I was tired but pleased with the distance covered considering the conditions.

I found a great place to camp just off the road, I was completely hidden in long grass and next to a very grand house.  I knocked to see if anyone was in, but there was no reply.  I took advantage of the outdoor sink at the house and had a quick bath before bed!  Camping alone makes me a little nervous but I was so hidden I felt really safe and I was so tired I was asleep within minutes!

My motivation to get up and ride the remaining 80miles to Lyon was big – my sister would be there to meet me and I had two rest days ahead!  The wind wasn’t as bad but more importantly and more surprisingly, although tired, my body was still ready to Go.  It has been an almighty push this week.  A 74 mile day to start, followed by a record 129 mile day, straight into a tough long day of 71miles into a strong headwind and I had an 80mile day infront of me!  Not forgetting this was after two months of pretty much non stop ElliptiGo’ing.

Even writing this myself I find it hard to believe – it’s 100% testiment to what a wonderful machine the ElliptiGo is.  Naturally I’m tired but my body is in great condition.  I’m simply getting fitter and stronger and I’m not hurting anywhere.  I have never experienced this with any other kind of endurance exercise.

Last night I met my sister, Jo – It’s been a long week, saying goodbye to Dave at the start of it was not nice, but finishing it with Jo was great.

I’ve met some wonderful people and had so much support since going solo that I don’t feel solo at all.  Thank you everyone!

My sister, Jo!
My sister, Jo!

Just this past week we’ve received even more generous donations to Coppafeel – thank you all.  Total raised is over £2000 now and I’d dearly like to reach the £3000 target.  Next week I’m going to dig deep and am aiming to reach the 3000mile goal by Friday!

Please donate by clicking here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Firmer, fitter and faster!

I’ve been on the Go Trek for just over six weeks, I’ve covered 1,736 miles, had 6 rest days, participated in 1 stair race and completed three 100mile plus days!

My weight when I left was 64kgs, it is now 61.5kgs.  I’m leaner all over and I have increased muscle definition in my legs, arms, back.

My arm after six weeks on the GO
My arm after six weeks on the GO

I’m most excited about the development of the muscles on the inside of my knees – my vastus medialis muscles.  I’ve always had an awareness that one of the best ways to protect knees from injury is to develop the muscles around the knee… but never had the discipline to do specific exercises to achieve that (ie, squats!).

ElliptiGo legs - bigger Vastus Medialis Muscles!
ElliptiGo legs – bigger Vastus Medialis Muscles!

I’ve been wearing a heart rate band and over the six weeks as I’m getting fitter my average heart rate has decreased by around 10/15bpm.

Here is a link to some of my stats – Squash’s Moves – not all days ElliptiGo’ing have been recorded and some results are not accurate as the stopwatch has included time not moving – therefore my average speed/heart rate is a little distorted.. but it gives you an idea.

Unlike other expeditions I’ve done (mountain/endurance/cycling) this is the first trip I’ve been on where I haven’t lost condition – in fact I am getting stronger and fitter each week.

There have been very few rest days but each day my body is ready to go again.  Even after a 70km day I participated in a stair race and I had two consecutive 100mile plus days in Switzerland with the trailer, followed by a hilly 45mile day.

The ElliptiGo gives an all over body workout.  My concern at the start was that I would increase bulk and muscle in my thighs and bum – that hasn’t happened at all – I’ve just become leaner and more defined in these areas.

Unlike cycling, hiking and running I’ve had zero body discomfort with no blisters, sores, aches or pains and standing on the ElliptiGo for long periods of time has been comfortable.

My body is running like an efficient machine!  My digestion is great, my skin is healthy, I’m sleeping really well and I feel in excellent condition – which is remarkable considering the distance I’m going and the weight I’m towing (roughly 25kgs in trailer).

This week I met up with a friend who greeted me with this comment, “Squash I am so relieved to see you looking so well, after I saw you return home from your mountain expeditions you looked half dead and I was expecting to see you look drained and tired.  I think you look in the best condition I’ve ever seen you in!”

I love the ElliptiGo it’s been one of the most enjoyable and effective ways I’ve experienced to achieve overall fitness and well being.

High speed on the way down from the Col D'Iseran!
High speed on the way down from the Col D’Iseran!

 

The Go Trek – Week Five

I’m looking at the sky, it’s cloudy and grey BUT it’s not raining!  This week has been the wettest so far and the places we have been have made world news due to the floods!  I was told by a local that “in 50years of being in the region there has never been this much rain”…

It was however a sunny start to week five, thank goodness, because we were welcomed to the beautiful town of Germersheim by the Mayor, newspapers and television!

Click here to see our debut appearance on the news in Germany.

The day and event was organised by Hardy, owner of this incredible bike – the Pedersen.  The design is over 100yrs old!  Michael Pedersen was a danish inventor and manufctured the bike in Dursley (GB) in 1893.

A very old and very cool bike!
A very old and very cool bike!

The cycle paths in Germany are a real treat, they are well signed, in good condition and at often take you through beautiful countryside.  After time in Germersheim we took a very remote path through dense but stunning woodland to Knittelsheim Muhule – a lovely hotel off the beaten track.  Thank you to Hannes for a lovely evening and to Hardy who organised it all.

The following morning we awoke to heavy rain that lasted all day – with miles to cover we set off anyway and were so happy at 6pm when the rain stopped and we had this view!

After the rain comes the sun!
After the rain comes the sun!

We took advantage of the dry weather and covered more miles that evening and found a nice little spot to camp just outside of Beitigheim, which meant only a few miles the next day to our destination, another gorgeous German town – Affalterbach.  We had the good fortune of being invited to stay with Herman and Marlene.  They are Daryn’s parents, Daryn is the ElliptiGo distributer in Germany.  After hot showers Marlene fed us delicious home cooked food and then Daryn arrived and gave us massages – incredible massages!  You see Daryn also happens to be a physiotherapist, reflexologist and practitioner of Chinese medicine.  That saying….. feet, landing on, springs to mind!   After our service, it was time to have a look at the Go’s.  and give them some TLC too.

Here’s a little Punkt video about The ElliptiGo Service.

We had a date with the Mayor in Affalterbach, who has a great sense of humour – he gave us towels!  Daryn and Herman rode with us for a while that day.  Herman is 70.  He’s had two hip replacements and he did 50km, a distance he and Marlene regularly go on their ElliptiGo’s!

With Daryn and his Mum & Dad!
With Daryn and his Mum & Dad!

Our next stop was Basti’s house.  Basti is a friend of a friend of Daryn’s, kind of!  He’d met him once.  Anyway, when Basti was asked if we could stay he said YES!  Basti was so much fun!  Dave and I left his house both a little bit in love with him the next day.

Punkt video – This is Basti

Basti’s house was in Reichenbach, that night we had sand bags at the door and the town was on the news expected to be under water by morning!  Thankfully it wasn’t…  Just…  Another days ride in the rain with u turns several times due to flooded cycle paths and we made it to Ulm.  What a reception we had!  Live on the radio, with the television and newspapers there too the Mayor greeted us with quite a crowd in the square.

Click here to see our welcome – Dave captured the moment on Punkt!

As luck would have it we’d arrived just in time to have special entry into the annual Ulm Minster stair race.  Yes, that’s right a race!  540 steps after 1,300miles of ElliptiGo’ing!

The record time is just over three mins to the top.  The average is five mins.  I’m delighted to say we both did it in four and a half!

Leaving Ulm the next day we decided to do 90km – I mean why not, after a race?  The thinking behind this was to reach our next stop a day early so that we could then have a full rest day.  We set off feeling strong and managed a record pace!  We covered 33miles in two and a half hours.

If someone had told me that Dave and I would do hundreds, in fact thousands of miles on an ElliptiGo, then after a long day, enter a stair race, get great times and then set a record pace for a long distance on the ElliptiGo the next day I probably wouldn’t have believed them…  However, that is how we finished Week Five!  The ElliptiGo is amazing.  It’s not just a great way to travel, it’s a great way to train, to get super fit and improve condition too.

I love it!

So now back to the rain!  ….  While sun would be amazing I think to myself, “it might be wet, but compared to a bad day on a high mountain this is actually just fine”.  The ElliptiGo’s aren’t phased by the rain either and I think my face here is a good indicator of how I’m feeling!

Smiling as I ElliptiGo in the rain!
Smiling as I ElliptiGo in the rain!

Thank you to everyone who is supporting and who has donated to Coppafeel, our choosen charity for this event.  We’re now over half way to our £3000.00 goal with online and offline donations!

For more info on The Go Trek and to make a donation please click here.

 

 

The Go Trek – Week Three

This week was always going to be a mile stone in the journey – I knew by now that I would be fully into the flow of the trip.  (see previous blog – The significance of three weeks)

We’d just arrived in Holland the last time I wrote about events on the GoTrek – now well in to Germany Holland feels a long time ago!

Although very wet compared to the glorious weather we had in the UK Holland and more importantly the people we spent time with there made it a wonderful part of the journey.  Not forgetting how delightfully flat the country is with an impressive cycle lane network too.

We visited a gym with an altitude training room, something I’ve never experienced before, funny that I should be in there with a picture of Everest behind me during the anniversary week of my summit push on the mountain two years ago!

Sport, health & wellness centre Julien 

ElliptiGo'ing at altitude!
ElliptiGo’ing at altitude!

We also enjoyed a night at Fitland!  An impressive set up where you sleep at altitude in rooms with air pressure equivalent to being at 2,500m.  The hotel had an aeroplane bar and a ferry spa – click here to see Punkt video for details!!

Dave, Arnoud and I
Dave, Arnoud and I

Arnoud, a lovely Dutch guy who’d joined us from Rotterdam to Amsterdam when we had arrived in Holland, invited us to stay at his hotel.  He and his wife had set it up soon after they lost there daughter, Loek, to cancer.  It is only open one week out of every month and it was a privilege to be invited there.  The hotel is for families with severely ill children.  It’s a place that they can go to relax, enjoy lots of activities, good food and have fun.  The weeks are run by volunteers and the cost is covered by the Foundation Lucai.  We spent time with the families and children, shared meals and soaked up the atmosphere – it was a remarkable atmosphere.  It amazed me that after what Arnoud and Karen have been through that they both have such capacity for giving and caring.  Amongst the fun and lightness of our journey this was a poignant time.

People are just amazing, you never know what somebody else might be going through or has gone through.  It made me, yet again, realise how precious life is and that we can make a difference… and that I can certainly ElliptiGo a huge number of miles… especially knowing that the bigger purpose behind each elliptical rotation is to inspire others, to raise money for Coppafeel and to support the brave and inspirational woman behind Coppafeel, Kris.

With Kris the founder of Coppafeel
With Kris the founder of Coppafeel

We departed Holland in the pouring rain and crossed the boarder into Germany.  It was grey and miserable.  The change between the two countries was immediate.  The cycle paths were not quite what they had been, the road signs were in a different font and different colour – which actually makes a surprisingly huge difference!

We got our heads down and  ElliptiGo’ed all day in the rain.  With no sign of the rain letting up we decided that our plan to camp should be abandoned and we’d find a cheap place to stay.  We looked at a few places and they weren’t that nice so we carried on.  Realising our options were running out, it was getting late and we needed to find somewhere, we past a building that looked like a big house but with loads of Canoe’s outside.  The door was open and Adolf (Addy) greeted us.  We briefly explained our scenario – he told us to take our ElliptiGo’s around the back, said that he would be leaving soon, but the hostel (ordinarily only for organised Canoe groups of 15 people or more) was empty for the night and we could stay!  We felt the kitchen, dining room, games room, shower room and huge dorm would be enough for the evening.  What a welcome to Germany!

This is a link to the hostels facebook page.

Addy said “I’d like to think that someone would do this for me if I was doing something similar” which is what Joe (the stranger – now friend) who had taken us in on the first night of the Go Trek had said.  People are mostly full of goodness…  I think maybe we just don’t get a chance to see it when we’re all so busy being independent and not ElliptiGo’ing around Europe!

Addy's Hostel
Addy’s Hostel

Unfortunately the rain continued into Dusseldorf.  It was good to arrive at our event that evening and meet Stefan (the ElliptiGo man in Germany) who had been riding around on his ElliptiGo with a trailer promoting our arrival!

The Punkt video of our meeting with Stefan

ElliptiGo trailer advert
ElliptiGo trailer advert

A few days into Germany despite the miserable weather we’d experienced hospitable, welcoming and kind people.  We were on route to Klien- Villip via Cologne and the sun finally appeared as we rode alongside the Rhine.  We reached the mountains and passed through stunning woodland – I love Germany!

Our Go's by the Rhine
Our Go’s by the Rhine

Dave’s friend Nicola realised that our route passed her parents house and we had a wonderful evening with them and delicious home cooked food.  It was a real treat and I wished (as I have so often on this trip) that we could stay longer.  But Bad Neuenahr was calling – a beautiful and interesting little German village where we did some ElliptiGo test rides and met the locals.

We met Marc and Machaela Linden, owners of a nearby family run vine yard and boutique hotel.  They invited us to a BBQ at theirs that evening.  They also invited us to stay.

Wine bottling/ElliptiGo parking shed
Wine bottling/ElliptiGo parking shed

We accepted their kind offer and yesterday (Day 23) left our trailers in their wine bottling shed and did a century on the ElliptiGo’s!

100 miles!

A friend of theirs told us that just a few days ago the cycle path that runs alongside the River Ahr from the source to the Rhine had just been finished and we calculated that an out and return would make us not only the first ElliptiGoer’s along the route but we’d also be able to hit the 100mile mark!

It was a gorgeous ride…  Already totally taken with Germany I am loving it more and more!  I’d recommend coming to stay here, Weingut Sonnenberg, and visiting the River Ahr and the region.  (It’d be a long shot but Nicola’s parents are worth a visit too – they are lovely, warm and fun people!)

After 769 miles and yesterdays 100 Dave and I are feeling great.  Physically we’re strong and both feeling fitter, especially now we’re back into hills.  The ElliptiGo is proving to be a remarkable machine.  We’re getting fit without compromising condition.

ElliptiGo'ing in Utrecht
ElliptiGo’ing in Utrecht

Our efforts to raise money for our £3000.00 target for Coppafeel continue…  We’re at 42% of our target with £1,276.01 raised.  Thank you to everyone who has donated.

Please support by donating directly to our charity – Click here to donate to Coppafeel.

Or by buying a Go Trek T Shirt – Click here for T-Shirts.

www.thegotrek.com

 

 

Eating for Everest

I love a cup of tea and a bar (or two!) of chocolate...

Apart from training and kit the other rather large area that I’m focusing on is my diet.  Hmmm food – now here’s a sensitive subject!

I think I have been lucky in my life that I’ve always been pretty active and in general can get away with eating what I like, staying healthy and not putting on too much weight.  That said, a few years ago I went travelling around the world or perhaps more accurately I ate my way around the world!  I wasn’t doing a lot of exercise, I was eating everything and I put on rather a lot of weight.

This was my first experience of feeling that I wanted and needed to go on a ‘diet’.  I didn’t like my body, I didn’t like how it looked or felt and I wanted to lose weight.  I went down the sensible eating route, it worked for about 15mins.  The thing was I was on ‘a diet’ so all I was thinking about was, guess what?  Food!  And as a result I was just eating, eating, eating!… so for me, it was the exercise route that was going to help solve this problem.

I ran, I cycled, I swam (a little bit) and I found that when I was exercising, without thinking about it, my diet kind of fell into place too.

I was eating what I wanted, I wasn’t over eating and because of the exercise I had ‘a balance’.  I’m laughing as I’m writing this because ‘a balance’ was a ridiculous thing to write.  The truth is I was either gaining weight or losing it but only within a kilo or two so I had ‘a good average weight over all’.

Having done Biology A-Level and generally being interested in the whole food thing I had a fairly good knowledge of different food groups, what I should be eating and what I needed to eat more specifically for the sport I was doing.  I needed ‘a balance’!…  I needed to be getting plently of carbs, a good amount of protein and some fats – good fats, that’s chocolate, right?!  And obviously I needed to make sure I was getting all the right vitamins and minerals.

A bit like with my whole training and fitness theories I’m the same with my food thinking.  I’m not too specific about it but I have built up my knowledge over the years and I have a good idea of what works for me.

I had a very interesting experience with food when I climbed Cho Oyu in 2008.  I was a vegetarian.  In the months before I climbed the mountain I had been getting the right amount of protein from milk, eggs, cheese and chocolate!… during the expedition, with limited food options (no fresh food available) I was getting a good amount of calories but couldn’t ensure I was getting a good ‘balance’ of the things I needed.

{Little science bit – When you get above a certain height (around 6,500m ish – very ish) your body starts to work in a different way.  Digestion becomes an issue.  Without going into too much detail, very basically, your body finds it easier to break down your muscles to get the energy from their protein.  As a result you quickly begin to lose muscle mass which is one of the reasons why once you get above a certain height you are on limited time to stay up there and it’s not ideal. }

So I had been on the mountain for over three weeks, we were at about 7000m and I could actually see myself losing weight!  Each day I was pulling the waist strap on my back pack tighter and tighter.  I was in a tent with one of the climbing Sherpa’s and he had a sealed pack of chicken – it looked pretty gross, red bits and bones included urghhhh!  Anyway he opened the sealed pack and I, like some kind of starving animal, leapt over to where he was and pretty much inhaled the chicken.  I was totally over whelmed by my desire to eat the chicken, I smelt it and every conscious thought I had was overridden with this huge desire, complete instinct to get myself some protein.  Never before in my life have I experienced my body telling me what I needed.

I think most of us are so used to having a routine with food.  We have three meals a day, we get used to eating certain foods, we choose what we like and what we don’t like – not necessarily based on what we need, generally based on taste or mono sodium glutamate!  And we don’t really experience hunger, not real hunger.  Why would we?

This experience changed the way I thought about food and my relationship with food.  On a mountain food isn’t a luxury, something we choose from a menu or an enjoyable past time.  It’s another job to do.  The calories must go in and you must get what you need.

Since this experience when I’m preparing for or I’m on an expedition I’ve really tried to be more aware of what I need, what my body wants and it’s for this reason that I’m not a vegetarian anymore.  When I’m doing a lot of training I feel a huge benefit when I eat meat.  So I do.  I don’t particularly enjoy it but I know I feel better for it.

So what am I eating now to prepare for Everest?  Loads!  I’m eating to fuel my body for the training I’m doing now and I’m also eating to put on weight.  It’s handy on mountains to have a few kilos to keep you warm and to have some excess to lose when you do the 9000calories a day burning when you’re high up!

I’m literally eating everything and a good variety so I know I’m covering all areas and food groups. I’m trying to listen to my body.  For example, if I’m tired hiking, I’ll eat more carbs, if I crave a steak I’ll have one and as per usual I’m always satisfying my desire for chocolate!

A typical days food at the moment would be –

Breakfast – A bowl of fruit, yogurt and honey followed by about 3 slices of toast or a couple of croissants. (and/or a pan au chocolate!)

Lunch – A large (sun dried preferably!) tomato and cheese baguette.  Maybe some kind of biscuit/cake/crisp/chocolate combo too.

Dinner 1 – Potatoes, veg and/or salad sometimes with meat (about twice a week I’ll try and eat steak/chicken). Sometimes pudding.

Dinner 2 – Yep, dinner two! Dinner one is usually about 6pm and then I’m having a second sitting about 8/9pm.  This might be a pizza or soup or just another chocolate feast!

I’m drinking loads of water and about 10cups of tea a day too.

I do love a cup of tea, with a chocolate bar obviously!

My favourite lunch!