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A quick catch up for readers interested in my daily torment.

Wednesday was running, today was a spin preceded by hand weights and metabolic punishment. It was a grueling day today. We took a vote. We agreed. Challenging, which I guess is at least part of the point of the challenge.

Plans by our leader Wednesday to benchmark and record our efforts in the punishing 300×3 shuttle run suicides eventually were abandoned. But I did run my heat twice and proudly finished last (out of five runners) in each.

I don’t honestly care. A few short months ago I was not able to run a single 50-metre length of the indoor turf. So to run it six times in succession, twice, enduring the stopping and starting is progress even if my splits could be timed with a sundial.

My regular readers know of my knee challenges and the way that derails my running ambitions (actually, my running ambition is to never run again but that’s not on right now). But that’s not an excuse. Two months from now I’ll be a fitter, better runner than I am today. And it was awfully good of, particularly, Simon, Mike and Dar to privately speak to me about my progress. They all run like cheetahs chasing breakfast across an African steppe.

It gives one the motivation to come back another day. I have motivation to burn, but when it’s -12 and snowing and windy and it’s 520a in January and the bed is warm, sometimes a little more motivation helps. And it will tomorrow, when I summon it up again.

Of all the things I’ve learned and gained from my six months at The Athlete Training Centre, the best by far is the quality of the people and friendships I’ve made. I can’t say enough about the folks who work and train there. Top to bottom, simply outstanding. I would not still be there if not for them.

For the purposes of the gym’s computer tracking and database, everyone has a six-letter nickname. Mine is Nuzman. And by the way, I ran my third and final heat anyway with two others who also wanted to complete the commitment to run three times 300 shuttles.

And I finished last. Again. The Nuzman Hattrick.

The 2016 Challenge – based largely on eating less meat and dairy and more plants – has created domestic challenges that I am happy to report are not unique to me.

Tuesday morning there were two other men sharing stories of best efforts to create veggie meals and they had a similar end-of-day experience as me – the cleanup time was horrendous. I have no idea why this is so, but our meal (which was excellent) of dairy-free leek and potato soup and spicy Portobello mushroom fajitas created a lot of pots and pans.

Meat or veggie, I usually handle most of the clean up at home because Laura handles most of the cooking/creation. I don’t mind at all, given her support for this new regime. But it was nice to hear it’s not just me.

Less than four days into the challenge, I’ve already had successes. They are modest compared to my younger and my fitter colleagues, but if the challenge is about change, well, I see change.

First, I’ve stuck with the dietary imperatives of no dairy, no alcohol and restrictions on how much meat we can eat. So, I’ve eaten far less chicken/beef/fish already than I normally would. Vegetable ragu, anyone?

Second, I did a pull up. It hurt like hell because of my elbow, which seriously has only started to stop burning constantly today. But I did ONE. And that’s one more than Sam Bennett.

Third, I’ve lost almost four pounds since the Monday weigh in. Which at face value is ridiculous. But – knowing the challenge was at hand, I ate generously on the weekend.

Gluttony, I think is the word.

And my weight was up a little over Christmas. So I knew Monday was a “fat” day. I’m about three pounds away from getting to a number that will be my genuine benchmark. At this pace, I’ll be there by Saturday morning.

Fourth – last week I said I was having trouble pushing my cardio up and I was going to challenge myself a bit more in that regard. And I have, not just in the spin room. Twice this week I did personal bests in terms of minutes spent in the highest zones for cardio stress. There’s a lot of Red Zone on my chart – meaning 90 per cent of max heart rate or higher.

And I was really happy with my time in the 25-kilometre spin – 37 minutes 35 seconds. Not first, but far from last. Above respectable. The 50-km spin may be another story.

Just keep 9-1-1 on speed dial.

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