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I can’t believe that January is almost gone, and as ever I seem to have neglected writing on here in any substantial way. Not good.

After my last less than optimistic post I thought I’d better try and drag myself out of this mood and focus on something a whole lot more positive: successes, achievements, and future challenges.

Looking Back

2012 almost seems like a dim and distant memory now but I’m pleased to think that, overall, it was a great year. I’ll admit that the physical challenge I set myself was an ambitious one, one that nearly broke my spirit a few times over the course of the year as it was so all-consuming. But I did it! I hit all my mileage targets, lost all the extra pounds I’d put on, and managed to raise some money for four very deserving charities.

Speaking of raising money, my sponsorship page is still live, and as we’re coming up to pay day I’ll make one final plug for anything you lovely people can afford to give. Head on over to my fundraising page and give anything you can; every penny is very gratefully received. Thanks.

Last year I turned forty – boo! This was the main reason I set myself such a crazy challenge, one that would hopefully see me fitter at forty than I was when I was twenty. Okay, there’s no definite way I can categorically say that that was the case. All I can say is, there’s no way at twenty I would have considered doing anything like I did last year! The thought of walking, running and cycling so many miles would have been completely dismissed, mainly because I would never have believed I could have done such a thing.

To mark that milestone in my life, one I’ll admit having doubts about ever reaching sometimes, Shelli and I embarked on a trip of a lifetime to trek in the Atlas mountains, conquering Mount Toubkal along the way. It was an amazing adventure and something I will remember to the end of my days, much like my LEJOG walk. It’s another life experience I never thought I’d ever have and I can only hope that more adventures lie ahead in my new life with Shelli. We’ll see I guess? And no, that wasn’t a defeatist attitude creaping in there before you say anything. Adventures will come in all shapes and sizes, I’m sure of that!

I got divorced too. Not something I really want to spend too much time thinking about. That part of my life – with exception of my girls of course – is well and truly over. The divorce needed to happen. The line is well and truly drawn under that chapter. Onwards and upwards!

It was a full year from end to end. Lots of great times with the girls and with Shelli, and it’s lovely to look back on all the photos and read about those good times on here.

Looking Forward

I entered 2013 happy, optimistic, and fitter than I’d been for some time – damn those extra pounds, so easily gained but so hard to lose! I didn’t make any resolutions as the new year dawned. I’m pretty sure I explained why last year, but the long and short of it is that they’re all too easy to make and even easier to break.

Instead, as the new year was approaching I took a look at where I was, where I wanted to be, and what I needed to do to make everything a reality. No easy task that’s for sure, complicated beast that I am.

Having worked so hard over 2012 to get myself fit this was obviously something I wanted to make sure I kept up. Instead of setting myself an even harder challenge to try and make sure I kept up the exercising, I decided to just do the 2013 miles in 2013 challenge…”just” he says?! This will hopefully keep me focused and consistently hitting the paths, treadmill and bike to make sure I keep myself in shape.

I’m not doing this challenge for charity this year so other than my final request for sponsorship above I won’t be harassing you for cash again. I’ve become disheartened about the whole asking for sponsorship thing. Being someone who’ll sponsor pretty much everyone for anything I found it hard when that generosity wasn’t returned. Not a lot I can do about it but it’s certainly made me decide to take a break from raising money this year. Shame.

As part of this year’s challenge I’ve decided to up the running event distance for at least a couple of races, opting for half marathons instead of the usual 10K distance. The Bath half marathon is just over a month away and I’ll be signing up to the Blenheim half marathon very soon.

The training’s going well. I’m taking it easy and easing myself back into it all after my break over Christmas and new year. That said, I’ve almost doubled my intended training miles to help Shelli with her training. Yes that’s right…she’s signed up for the Bath half too! I’m so proud of her for doing this. She’s doing great and I think is surprising herself with her progress. Well done honey, keep it up!

As well as all the miles I’ve started to supplement my aerobic training with more strength and core training. This was something that was missing last year but let’s be honest, with the amount of time I had to spend getting the miles completed, there was no way I was going to squeeze anything else in. So with the smaller mileage target this year I can now comfortably fit in two weight sessions a week, using the dumbbells Russ and Rachel bought me before my LEJOG walk and the weights bench Shelli got me for Christmas.

I’m not trying to gain a load of muscle mass from these sessions, it’s more to do with toning and increasing my overall strength. I’m using fairly light weights so I’m never going to have massive “guns” but it’s good to be doing something different. I guess we’ll see at the end of the year what effect these sessions have had won’t we?

Part of the weights sessions is a number of sets of sit-ups. This is something I’ve never been good at. My abdominal strength has been poor to useless for as long as I can remember. So, to try and help the sit-ups along I’ve also taken up the “Plank a Day” challenge – you can read more about that here.

I started the year at 1 minute with the aim of adding 5 seconds at the beginning of every week. If I continue like that throughout the year then my daily plank will creep up to an excrutiating 5 minutes and 15 seconds! Not sure I’ll be able to do that but it’s good to have stretch goals…isn’t it?!

How’s it going? 24 days into the year, 24 planks done, and I’m currently doing them for 1 minute and 15 seconds! I think it’s having a positive effect as my sit-up sets – which are done to failure – are creeping up in the number of sit-ups I can do before I scream in agony!

I’ve never been happy with my tummy, this made even worse after I got butchered when they took out my apendix many, many years ago – did I mention I’d turned forty? Elisa seems to take pleasure in telling everyone that little fact! – so hopefully all this will have a positive effect on my self-image? We’ll see.

It’s clear from all of this that I’m taking good care of myself physically. Edging closer to the age dad died has really focused my mind on making sure I’m around as long as I can be for my girls, and for Shelli too. I’m hoping my approach is a sensible one and adding the strength training is certainly going to help with my overal fitness levels.

Physical fitness isn’t everything though. I know I struggle with my head sometimes and, as posted in a haiku the other week, I’m taking steps to try and help that side of my health. Hopefully this will also have positive effects and will help me to enjoy life to it’s fullest

What Else?

It’s clear from the above that I’m taking my health seriously again this coming year, both physically and mentally. Obviously that isn’t everything for the year, although I do kind of come across as a bit of a health nut?! I’m looking forward to many fun times and adventures over the coming months. Plans are afoot already; more to be said on those some time in the not too distant future hopefully!

Until then though, I’ll try to write more regularly on here…he says. Oh, and in case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve posted a load of photos over the last few weeks from Christmas, times with the girls, and walks Shelli and I have already undertaken this year. If you’ve not checked them out yet then go and have a look, well, if you want to that is!?! A login’s required so if you’re reading this and you haven’t got one then drop me a line through the contact page.