Category Archives: Health

Always wear sunscreen

I’ve had a small patch on my forehead for a while now which has been a little sore from time-to-time. There was nothing visible really, and I thought nothing of it, as I put it down to friction where I’m continuously wiping sweat away whilst out training. However, the patch has now got a little worse, and Leigh prompted me to mention it to the doctor as I was going to see him about my foot anyway.

It was a good thing I did show the doctor as he recognised the patch as sun damage, and diagnosed ‘actinic keratosis’. The definition of actinic keratosis is a scaly or crusty bump that forms on the skin surface. They can also be called ‘solar keratosis’ or ‘sun spots’ or even ‘precancerous spots’.

Nick’s forehead

The doc prescribed some cream which is to dry up the patch so that the skin heals. Hopefully we caught it early enough so that we can get rid of it, as this is a precancerous condition and left untreated, especially with ongoing exposure to sun, these patches can develop into skin cancer.

The message of the story folks is to ‘always wear sunscreen’! You may put sun lotion on when you’re sunbathing, but this shows that it’s also important to protect your skin when out and about. Even if the weather is not particularly sunny, the sun’s rays can penetrate cloud, and can bounce off snow, sand and other reflective surfaces.

Sun damage to the skin accumulates over time. It is lifetime sun exposure, not recent sun-tanning that adds to your risk. Up to 80% of sun damage is thought to occur before the age of 18. If you have fair skin, blonde or red hair, and pale eyes you are at the greatest risk, but even those with darker complexions are not immune.

It’s worth a trip to the doc if you notice any patches developing as the earlier caught the better.  The patch may itch or produce a prickling or tender sensation, especially after being in the sun.

I’ve been guilty of not using sun protection even when out in the sun, because lets face it, it is a faff to put on, it gets on your clothes, and it rubs off anyway. Well, we’ve recently found a great sun lotion that solves these problems nicely. It’s called Ultrasun and you only need to apply it once and it stays put all day so there’s no excuse any more. There’s a range of different choices and I use the sports formula. It’s not greasy and rubs in well, is resistant to water, sweat, and friction and has a high protection factor so you can apply and forget it. The sports formula does allow tanning but Leigh uses the sun-block version as she’s really prone to burn.


I used the sports formula when I did the Austria Ironman when I was out in blazing sun for hours. Our team top was sleeveless, and even with sun lotion on, several of the others ended up with badly burned shoulders. I did tan but didn’t burn and was grateful that the Ultrasun had protected me.

Check it out: ultrasun

A Run in the Wet

Sunday’s run wasn’t promising to be very good weather-wise, but I started out in the dry and it remained dry for the best part of an hour.  After an hour it rained quite heavily but what surprised me was the amount of water on the roads.  Clearly, we have had enough rain to saturate the ground and with nowhere to go it is staying on the roads.  Suffice to say it wasn’t too long before my feet were very wet.  The second hour of my run was therefore wet from the sky and from the roads.  The last hour the rain stopped and all in all the run was pretty good.  I was surprised to see quite a few other people out, some horse riders, cyclists and other runners.  I am clearly not the only crazy fool!

The secret to weight loss

Hi, Leigh here, Nick’s other half.  We’re getting quite a few questions about weight-loss so I thought I’d add my suggestions for your weight-loss goals.

Forget counting calories!

Firstly, the good news is that you don’t need to count calories, points or use any other quota system.  Traditional diets that require you to reduce the amount of food you eat don’t work – you may lose weight short-term, but the weight nearly always goes back on again, and usually more than before, so traditional diets have been shown to be poor for long term weight goals.  Traditional diets are so last-century! 

The 21st century way to your ideal weight is through healthy eating i.e. the key to successful weight loss lies in what you eat (and what you don’t eat!).  If you focus on eating the right foods, the weight will drop off you.  You can lose 20 pounds in 6 weeks using this system.  And you needn’t worry about it being a dangerous fad-diet that could damage your health.  This diet is the healthiest diet on earth.  By following this plan, not only will you lose all your excess weight and become naturally slim, you will feel great too.  This diet is packed with delicious high-nutrient good-for-you foods that are naturally low-calorie.

There are so many other powerful benefits

Aside from easily attaining your ideal weight, there are numerous other big benefits to eating this way too.  Such as developing a powerful immune system to help protect you from colds and flu, and any other diseases that you might be exposed to.  And there’s more.  Much more.  This diet helps prevent all the ‘Western’ diseases such as heart disease and heart attacks, type-2 diabetes, osteoporosis, stroke, autoimmune diseases, kidney stones and even Cancer.  This diet lowers blood pressure and lowers cholesterol.  On this programme, you can attain your ideal weight without having to feel hungry, and you will glow with health and give yourself a good chance of living a much longer active life too.  People following this programme often come off drugs that they’ve been relying on for years (be sure to consult with your doctor before changing your drugs dose).

You can eat as much as you like, as long as you eat the right foods, you need never go hungry.  Only by eating more of the right foods can you successfully be healthy and well nourished and feel satisfied whilst losing weight, feeling great and looking good!

Are you ready to eat healthily?

I have loads of information on this, if you’d like some more details, just send me an e-mail telling me what you want to achieve, and I will send you some information on how to achieve what you want.  I look forward to hearing from you :o)   

The Truth about Food Fat Percentages

One Calorie is the heat required to raise the temperature of one gram of water by 1°C. In dietetics (food matters) a kilocalorie (kcal) is equal to 1,000 calories.

The kcal therefore, measures the energy value of food in terms of its heat output: 1 oz  (28 grams) of protein yields 120 kcals, 1 oz (28g) carbohydrate yields 110 kcal, and 1 oz (28g) fat yields 270 kcal.  So, 1g of protein equates to 4.2 kcals, 1g of carbohydrate equates to 3.9 kcals and 1g of fat is 9.6 kcals.

Now for the important bit if you are trying to lose weight whilst eating healthily.  Losing, gaining or maintaining weight is a simple matter of adjusting the quantity of fuel you put into your body against the fuel your body uses.  If you put in more fuel than you use, you will gain weight and conversely if you take in less fuel than you use, weight loss will result.  I’ll state the obvious here just in case it didn’t come to mind, you can burn more kcals by doing some exercise.  The traditional swim, run, walk, cycle etc. are excellent forms of exercise but you could also think about other not so obvious forms which aren’t usually labelled as exercise such as housework, dancing, gardening etc.  In addition, you should try to get the correct balance of the composition of your diet through carbohydrates, proteins and fats as they are all important elements which the body requires.  You should be consuming approximately 60% carbs, 30% protein and 10% fat.  However, it is clear from the above information on food calorie contents that if you can reduce the fat content of foods you eat, you will be more easily able to eat fewer calories. 

When you see a food item that states its fat content, it is almost certain to be as a percentage of the weight of the product.  However, as you can see from the above kcal values for food types, fat has over twice the calorific content of proteins and carbohydrates.  In other words, if you are trying to lose weight and therefore reduce your calorific input, you need to work out the percentages in real fuel terms.  To do this you simply take the weight (in grammes) of the fat in the item and multiply it by 9.5 (kcals per gram of fat) then divide that by the total kcals of the item.  This will give you the fat content as a percentage based on calories and not weight.  Try it, it’s a real eye opener!  You can do the same for carbs and protein but use a multiplication factor of 4 (4 kcals per 1 g).  In additon, another little trick the food manufacturers use is to lower the fat content by increasing the overall calorie content.  Why do they do this?  Because people buy based on the wrapper marketing.  If during development a product has a 5% fat content (by weight) the manufaturers can add sugar to reduce the fat content as a percentage, but of course at the same time they increase the calories in the product.  But they know people will buy the product because the wrapper states “only 3 % fat”.  Do the calculation next time you see this and you will find it is more likely to be nearer to 50% fat as a percentage of calories.  If you also find a similar product not purporting to be a diet product, it might well have less total calories than the low fat product.  By doing this calculation you won’t be sucked in to the trap of the marketeers!

3500 Calories equals one pound of fat

Yesterday work took me to one of our supplier companies and the girls in the team I deal with were interested in weight loss and the do’s and don’ts of “dieting”.  Obviously it is a very large topic and my wife Leigh is writing a manual to help, guide and support people, which will go into depth on how to go about losing, gaining and maintaining weight.  In addition, there will be tips, recipes and other useful tools available.  I find the whole topic of nutrition and its effect on health and training really fascinating.  The girls of course were gob-smacked with some of the simple facts such as one pound of fat contains 3500 calories and for the average person that equates to 35 miles of running.  The point was also brought home as we had all just eaten some chocolates and the nutritional details on the box stated that 4 chocolates contained enough calories to require some additional exercise to burn them off or they will add to our current waist size.  I am sure I will cover nutrition in future blog entries which relate to my training and competitions but for those interested in losing, gaining or maintaining weight healthily, send me a comment or request specific details and I’ll try to respond accordingly.  Things you might be interested in could include how many calories do I burn?  What foods should I get my calories from?  How can I burn more calories whilst watching the TV?  Why does my body burn calories?  What is a calorie? And many, many more.

Ensure adequate rest

Tomorrow’s session (Tuesday’s) is meant to be a turbo session but due to work commitments and a massage, I won’t get time, so that will be a forced rest day. However, I might try to sneak it in on Wednesday before work as the schedule has me down to do a PM run which I am doing with Nathan at lunch time.  So an extra day’s rest but without missing a session!  If you think about doing the same sort of thing you have to work out if changing the schedule around still gives you adequate rest.  What ever you do don’t change things in such a way that you miss rest days.  These are really important and necessary.


I was talking to some people in my office last week and they asked me if it was possible to over hydrate.  The short answer is yes but you would have to work quite hard at drinking the volumes required.  However, over hydration or Hyponatremia (not Hyponitremia which is completely different) as it is termed can be life threatening.

Into the Wind

It’s been a while since my last entry, time is flying past.  I am now trying to remember all the things I have thought it would be good to put in my blog over the past few days.  They may come in no particular order but hope they will prompt some thoughts for your exercise/training schedule and the tips will help. 

After my last entry the next longer session was scheduled to be a 3 hour ride.  I planned an out and back route, which I have done many times before and as usual the out was in to the wind.  However, “the wind it was a bloin” and one and a half hours later I had only covered 20 miles.  After a very quick snack, a newly discovered Macadamia nut bar from Eat Natural, and a pee, I cycled back home.  The return leg only took me one hour and 7 mins.  In other words, the wind added 23 minutes on to my outward leg.  Training is hard enough as it is, so don’t make it unnecessarily harder.  Before you commence your ride, it is always a good idea to work out the wind direction and cycle in to it on the outwards leg and have the wind assist you on the return leg.  Also, if you are really keen to exercise for the exact time it states in your schedule then you need to take weather into account.

The following day I had a 15 mile run scheduled and I wanted a change of scenery, so I ran out with the wind and battled on the return leg against the wind.  It wasn’t too bad but I did feel a bit of a Muppet having not learnt the lesson from the bike ride the day before.

But it’s not just about the time or distance spent exercising; it does have to be enjoyable as well, at least, most of the time.  I wanted to run in a particular direction for a change of scenery and I did enjoy the countryside.  The route I ran also takes me along part of a Tri course which I have competed on for several years and it was really good to picture myself racing with like minded people in sunny conditions.  One of the things that keeps me going, is competing during the summer.  Not sure why, but I always get nervous before a race but once it starts I am generally OK and take in the atmosphere and enjoy the competition.

This weekend (tomorrow and Sunday) I am scheduled for a 90 mins run and 3 hour ride.  On Saturday Leigh and I are out to lunch with some friends in
Swindon and I hope to get a couple of DIY jobs done as well as some work on the pool.  It’s still on-going but I am getting there.

All for now

It’s all a matter of priorities

Just found a bit of time to draw breath and write this blog entry.  Thursday I had an early start (leave home at 05:50 hours) to fly to
Germany with work.  After a pretty long day of presentations and new product reveals, I managed to get a stolen 20 minute swim in at the hotel before going out for a celebratory meal with 125 other people who work with me.  I got on the first bus back to the hotel and got in to bed just after midnight.  Up at 06.15 hours the next day and out for a 10 mile run along the bank of the river which runs through the heart of
Munich.  It was a bit windy but otherwise a lovely morning.  It’s strange to see lots of people cycling to work on the cycle paths, especially young women wearing skirts, some of which were quite short.  Still, it brightened up the run even more!


After my run, it was back to the hotel for shower, breakfast and check out and then the journey back to the
UK.  I am always amazed at how a short flight (100 minutes) actually takes hours in real time.  As well as getting to the airport there are the inevitable queues for check in, passport, security and then to get on the aircraft and exactly the reverse at the other end.  The upshot is the waste of many hours which could otherwise be used for other things (albeit I try to read on journeys as this cuts down wasted time).  However, once back in the
UK I had my annual review with my boss, which sets how much (or not) of a rise I get at the annual salary review.  Fortunately, all went well and I was marked where I hoped I would be.  That was the last one with my current manager as he has moved within the organisation and this year’s objectives will be set by someone else.


Going back to my run.  I had it planned in my schedule and didn’t want to miss it despite being abroad and having early mornings and long days, as well as being wined and dined.  As I mentioned earlier, I left the restaurant after the meal and a little social time at about 23.30 hours on the first bus, whilst many of my colleagues didn’t leave until 03.30 hours.  The two outcomes of that late night (or rather, early morning) for my colleagues are that many of them looked decidedly ill on the plane.  There was no way I wanted to feel that way.  One of my colleagues, who was going to run with me in
Germany, never made it to our prearranged rendezvous.  I guess after not returning to the hotel until after 03.30 hours it was never going to happen. 


It got me thinking, as I receive many comments about my training such as “why are you so obsessed?” and “why don’t you just have a bit of fun for a change and forget about the training?” to “it won’t matter if you miss a session” and they are all correct but as an individual I think one has to decided what and when things are important and after deciding your priorities, stick to your plan and not worry about other people’s perception of you.  I know I have to plan training in order to complete and compete in an Ironman race.  I also know that planning is not enough, the training hours have to be put in.  I also know that missing the odd session is inevitable and in the grand scheme of the plan won’t make a big difference.  However, I also know that there is a lot of determination and single mindedness required to ensure that only sessions are missed where it is impossible to fit them in or when it would be inappropriate to train.  Only the individual following the training plan can determine when not to train, as only they are aware of the consequences of missing sessions and how important training and competing is to them.  I find training for sport gives me real focus and drive and without it I become extremely irritable and difficult to live with.  The moral of the tale, you decide what is important and only let things get in your way when it suits you and missing the odd session isn’t the end of the world.


Whilst away, the pool saga continues.  The chap turned up to fit all the new kit but on inspecting the boiler has found some problems.  Ultimately, he was unable to get the pool up and running.  He may be back tomorrow (Sunday) to have another go at it (what a top bloke, working on a Sunday) and if successful will get the boiler working temporarily until he can sort it out properly in February after his holiday.  Of course the news was disappointing and of course to do it properly is going to cost more (much more) than originally quoted.  If anyone is thinking of having a pool fitted, let me know and I will let you have the details of our original installers and you will know to avoid them like the plague.


I must sign off now as I have helped Leigh prepare and cook dinner for my brother and sister-in-law who are visiting this afternoon and they should be arriving shortly and I need to do final prep stuff.


I’ll be back soon

Dark nights

Yesterday (Tuesday) I was in
Basingstoke for work, with the result that I had to run in the dark when I got home.  I shouldn’t find it hard as I have had to work in the dark for bloomin’ years! 

It’s been a long time since I have run at night.  My early morning runs from work start off in the dark, but we run on lit paths and it gradually becomes daylight.  I was reminded last night that running from home in the village, means only unlit country roads are available and although I wear lights to be visible, when cars are coming towards me, I can’t see where I am running as the headlights are blinding, with the upshot that the odd pothole catches me out.

I remembered most things but it is always wise if running at night to wear lights, both front and back, and plenty of reflective clothing.  Take identification (I do every time I go out training, my faithful dog tags) and possibly a mobile phone.  Of course you should try to stick to paths etc. but if it’s not possible make sure you are prepared for the road.

The session was a warm up of about 1 mile then eight 4 minute intervals at just quicker that race pace with a 1 minute recovery between each interval, followed by a 1 mile cool down.  Going out, on my out and back route, wasn’t too bad but after the turn I realised just how windy it was.  The last effort was particularly hard and I was pleased to get back home.  A shower and then a home made bean casserole made me feel more human again.  I haven’t mentioned it yet but my wife is a vegetarian and a damn fine cook as well.  I’ll eat anything and I especially love meat and fish but we only have veggie at home and that’s fine as I am looked after very well by Leigh.

I woke up this morning only to find the garden flooded.  It’s quite a long tail but the short version is that our garden has a rill (stream) which runs through it.  Over the years people have piped in and covered over in bits and pieces.  Unfortunately, every now and then the leaves from the oak trees block the pipe and the garden floods.  It hasn’t happened for a long time now, in fact since before the swimming pool was built.  I now know (as of this morning) that when the garden floods, the pool house also floods and I will have to resolve that some how.  It was also a panic today as there was a possibility that the pool engineer was going to arrive to fit the new equipment and reinstall the boiler etc.  So, picture me in the garden in the pouring rain trying to clear the blockage before the engineer turns up.  As it happens, once the blockage was cleared the garden drained quickly and the engineer didn’t turn up.  However, he has promised he will be here tomorrow, although the weather doesn’t look good, and I will be away in
Germany.  The best laid plans of mice and men eh!

Today’s training is a 45 minute steady session on the turbo trainer and I have a swim planned in the hotel in Germany on Thursday evening with a longish run on Friday morning with Nathan before we fly back to the UK.  I hope that I can get it all in.

No other news to report but if you read this blog and would like some specific advice/help on running, triathlon, diet and nutrition etc. just let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

All for now