Archives for posts with tag: Health

Water is essential to life, human life anyway. We can’t live without it, much as we can’t live without oxygen. No oxygen and we’re done for in a minute or two. No water and we’ve got a few days of excruciating agony before we slip away.

We’re supposed to have at least 2 litres of the stuff per day, that’s 8 glasses. The more the better too. They say that if you’re 1% down on hydration you might be 25% down on performance.

Me, I can’t stand the stuff. It’s boring, I don’t find it particularly refreshing, unless I’ve had a salty meal or I’ve been exercising hard. I inherited this from my mother. She can’t stand water, so much so that she never bothered to learn how to swim. She’s not shy of the shower, she simply doesn’t like water.

When we were kids we didn’t have water with our meals. We drank milk. I hardly had water as a kid, and I did OK, except I’m on the short side, and I don’t think you can blame the lack of water for that.

About a decade ago, I paid for one of those full health check-ups with a private hospital. It was partly discounted by the company’s health insurance and I felt I should go in for a 50-thousand mile service. I remember scoring very well on the hearing test, nearly off the chart. The doctor said to me in the debrief that my hearing was very good. ‘Pardon?’, I said in reply. I know, I thought it was funny, a had-to-be-there moment.

The doctor didn’t laugh either, but what she did say was that I could take me 8 cups of water in any form I wanted: tea, coffee, cordial. I don’t think beer counted.

This was music to my ears, but I have since heard conflicting reports that it really should be ‘unpolluted’ water. I do track my water intake and it’s rarely 2 litres per day, and usually 50% of it is tea or coffee. Maybe that’s where I’ve been going wrong all these years.

On the odd day that I do make a concerted effort to up my water intake, I find that I need to use the bathroom almost every half an hour. That’s simply not practical when you’re in meetings, presentations or travelling.

 

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All the sensible advice for being productive and healthy is around getting a good night’s sleep. Here’s a very articulate post on it – and a good book recommendation – from Tom Tunguz.

I’ve written before about my need for 8 hours’ sleep. What I’ve also found is how close I get to the magic 8 hours is important too:

  • Any more than 8 hours’ sleep and I’m in good shape. If I’ve been in the red on sleep the past few days, and I get 8 hours’ sleep or more, then I’m fine. Then it’s simply a better 8 hours’ sleep than normal
  • If I get less than 7 hours’ sleep, I’m feeling OK, but I need to fix it at some point in the short term. I can’t go more than a couple of days with, say, 6 hours’ sleep
  • If I get between 7 and 8 hours’ sleep, I’m shattered! I feel groggy and it takes me a while to get out of the funk

I can’t explain this, and it presents a dilemma if I have to get up a specific time and the 8 hour window for going to bed has just closed. Do I stay up longer and get less than 7 hours’ sleep, as counter-intuitive as that sounds, or do I go to bed anyway and risk the outcome of getting between 7 and 8 hours’s sleep?

 

I’ve debated for nearly the last five years as to whether to devote a blog post to this topic, whether it lowered the tone of this blog. I raised it with my good lady the other day and she said ‘it’s common knowledge, and it might help in a small way, so publish.’ So I have.

What I’ve observed over my decades of using public or shared toilet facilities is this, and it concerns male hygiene: a lot of men don’t wash their hands after using the facilities.  Horrifyingly, their propensity to not wash afterwards seems to increase when there’s food and drink involved, so in restaurants, bars and clubs.

I’ve never understood this. Your body expels waste products for a reason. Why would you not wash your hands and reduce the risk of infection? Why would you not reduce the risk of infection to others, to the people with whom you’re socialising?

Is it that men can’t be bothered, or is it that it’s more macho not to care about such things? Whether it’s laziness or lack of respect for our fellow man, it baffles me.

We use the word pain a lot in sales and marketing. We don’t mean physical pain of course, we mean business-related pain, and use the word to signify a problem, deficiency or other kind of challenge that our prospective customer needs to overcome. We home in on that pain, highlight it, illustrate the downside of not fixing it, and demonstrate how we’re uniquely positioned to remove that pain.

We also hope that our customer is not experiencing that pain constantly. You’d think we might be, but actually if they’re so preoccupied with that pain then it makes it very difficult for them to focus properly and absorb the reasoning about how we can help alleviate the pain.

There’s an exact corollary in constant pain of a physical nature too. When we’re in constant pain, a pain that medicine or treatment won’t lessen, it consumes every waking moment and makes it almost impossible to do anything productive. That’s why we’re generally in hospital, at the Doctor’s or laid up in bed. Nothing else for it.

I pity those unfortunate people who have to live with constant pain. It must be so hard. I have to imagine you’re preoccupied with managing that pain every waking moment.

Same for the business in constant pain as well. We must work super hard as marketers and sales people to provide a glimmer of quality respite for them to buy into a better future, a future that’s tied to us.

Ever had food poisoning before? The kind where you wonder if you’ll ever get out of this black hole? It feels like someone is drilling you a new eye socket, while at the same time hitting your stomach with a baseball bat. Meanwhile the rest of your body has gone to defcon 3 and is ejecting whatever is inside you from both ends?

Ever had a brutal hangover? The symptoms for me are the same. You can’t control an episode of food poisoning, even if you’re careful, but you can a hangover, so I avoid them wherever possible.

Ever had a migraine? A proper one? Guess what, the symptoms for me are the same. Unfortunately, apart from avoiding certain foods like chocolate and cheese, you can’t really control them either. Besides, who wants to live in a world completely bereft of chocolate and cheese?

The cure for all three aliments is the same. It’s not medication. I’s not really hydration, though that helps somewhat. It is sleep. If. I. Can. Just. Get. To. Sleep. I’ll. Be. OK. It’s really hard to do it with all the pain and the upheaval, but if I can finally get to sleep, I can sleep it off and emerge the other side.

So, in case you didn’t know, you do now. Food poisoning, hangovers, migraines. Same symptoms, same cure.

I was helping my daughter bake a cake the other day. She wanted help measuring out the ingredients and then she got on with it herself. It was to be a cake for her Ladyship’s birthday, one of those two-sponge affairs with jam in the middle and icing on the top.

I haven’t baked in a long time. I was staggered at the amount of butter that was called for in the recipe. Half a bar of the stuff. Worse was to come. The required amount of sugar filled a desert bowl, heaped.

It reminded me how much of the stuff that we’re supposed to moderate in our diets goes into making the big 5 food indulgences: cakes, crisps, sweets, chocolates and biscuits. I also love the cake mix, the gloopy mass of ingredients before it goes into the oven. Not usually the one to make the mix, I would grab a few scrapes of the remains of the mixing bowl. I had forgotten how much badness goes into these delicacies.

I guess that’s why legislation insists on manufacturers explicitly listing contents of food and also showing the number of calories in a meal. This has applicability not just in the world of fast moving consumer goods but in the broader marketing of both B2C and B2B products. Sometimes we don’t want to know what goes into the making of something. Sometimes we do, so it’s good to have the option.

On a Monday evening, if I’m in my hometown, I like to play some 5-a-side footie with my fellow middle-aged men, sans lycra of course.

Recently, I went out for a game. I had a sore calf – again – so I didn’t want to let the lads down and decided I’d play in goal. It was unseasonably cold, snowing and sleeting in fact, and I had a very thin, porous set of gloves on. They got wet very early on, and so did my hands.

An hour later, the pain was unrelenting. I can’t remember having colder hands. So much so that I went grey and felt nauseous. I made it home, but my fingers were so cold they felt solid. I had to gradually warm them up, in agony, for about half an hour before I realised I was, in fact, not going to have a heart attack, stroke, or die.

I probably wasn’t that close to having frostbite, and my fingers were 90% fine the next day. I can’t begin to imagine, however, what it must be like to be genuinely very cold indeed for a long period of time. I think the body and organs must shut down and you must literally want to crawl into a ball and die.

I also know now why scaling Everest or Arctic trekking isn’t on my bucket list. Sawing off frost-bitten fingers is not on my top-1000 list of things I’d like to do.

7 Days to 10K

7 Days to 10K

Here we are with Part 5 – the final part – of 7 days to 10K. A hastily drawn up plan for successfully completing the local 10K race, my first. Not, as one of the people that reads my blog mistakenly thought, a 7-day plan to 10-grand. Sorry. That would be great though, wouldn’t it?

The weather was glorious, sunny and 7 degrees, that’s the mid-40’s for you Fahrenheit folk. The high winds of the previous day had blown themselves out, to leave a gentle breeze. At the start I found myself with a couple of neighbours who were hoping to dip under the hour-mark. We positioned ourselves in front of the 60 minute pacer, and within sight of the 55-minute pacer.

Within the first kilometre or 2, it was clear to me that I was running noticeably faster than I had 2 days previously. I was relatively comfortable, but it was also clear to me that the 55-minute pacer was a bridge – or runner – too far. We were all very boxed in for the first few k’s too, since there were a lot of people in the race and the roads were country roads.

As we turned at about 4 K we went onto a real country track for 2K, before the turn back into town at 6K. It was a gradual incline, and I prefer to take those a bit quicker to get them over with, if I have sufficient gas in the tank. I felt good, and conscious too that I was pushing myself quite hard. I stuck in there, up through another gradual incline from 7 to 8K, until we passed the local soccer club and then I knew I was going to make it, since I’ve jogged back from there many times.

The 9K mark passed the estate where we live, and with the kids to give me a yell of support it was downhill for the last K, a very welcome run home. 50 metres from the end Her Ladyship, who had finished a good way ahead of me, was there to yell to me to sprint for the finish. The legs felt great, the best they’ve felt in years, and I passed over the finish line, at speed, in a time of 57:09.

We then headed up to the hall for teas and buns, to join the huge throng of post-race euphoria. Job done.

As I was enjoying my first beer of the evening with friends, I had an automated text from the race organisers to say that my actual time, since I passed the start mark a little while after the starting gun as the crowds passed through, was 56:17.

The event was superbly organised, as it always is for this event which draws in runners from all over, and very social afterwards. It made the food and drink consumed in celebration that evening all the sweeter. It was also interesting to be a participant rather than a vocal supporter for the last 9 years. I’m sure I cheered louder last year than anyone did for me this year…

2 parting thoughts: first, a little planning gets you a long way towards successfully executing your goals. Second, I may be a better supporter than a runner, though I might also have taken the first few thousands paces towards an annual tradition…

In Part 3 of 7 days to 10K, I outlined my plan to run a practise 10K on the roads and take 2 full days off before the big day, day 7. So you’re probably wondering how I got on? Whether things went according to my somewhat flimsy plan? Did I do the run? Did I finish it? Did the legs give way?

Well, yes and no, as is always the way with planning.

I didn’t run the 10K on day 4, for 2 reasons. Firstly, the weather was utterly foul. Cold, wet and hellishly windy. Storm-force windy. Second, my daughter got sick for a few hours, and I didn’t want to leave her. By the time she was better, it was dark, I’d lost my mojo and the storm hadn’t abated.

I did have a plan B though. My plan B was simply to run on day 5 and suffer 1 less day of recovery. So that’s what I did. My good lady helped me design a route that was never too far from the house that if I pulled up I couldn’t walk home in a reasonable time.

I set off slowly, in milder weather, and felt great for the first 15 minutes, and 25 minutes, and 35 minutes. The only arduous part was about the 35 – 50 minute mark, a long uphill stretch of 1.5K into a strong wind. I tend to run faster uphill, to get the pain over with, and catch my breath on the down phase, so it was hard – but manageable – work.

I made it! The calves were fine, they held up great, and I never doubted the fitness. I completed the 10K in a leisurely 65 minutes, with no after effects. And felt great afterwards. Plenty left in the tank, it was always a question of avoiding injury rather than running out of puff, literally. I stretched, iced and spent the rest of the day eating, drinking and making merry.

Yesterday, I did some final stretches for the legs and back, which was a little tight after such a long time on the move.

So, today’s the day. It’s race day, day 7. The race is around some of the roads I have only just run on. I’m hoping to duck in under the hour mark. I’ve done the prep. I’m cautiously optimistic. Plan for the worst, hope for the best. I’ll let you know how I get on in the final part, part 5 of 7 days to 10K.

In Part 2 of 7 Days to 10K I shared my trepidation about phase 2 of the plan, which was to run 8K on the treadmill, the first serious test of my body’s resilience and recovery from injury.

Well, I got through it, just about. I did indeed run 8K, in the grand old time of 52:17. It’s the longest I’ve run in years. It was hard. I had a stitch, sometimes 2 stitches, for most of the way. I haven’t had a stitch for probably 25 years!

I rowed for 5 minutes to warm up, then did some leg stretches to get in the mood. I’d been worried about this run all day and wasn’t sure if the legs would hold up. I walked for the first 2 minutes to warm up, then ran at 10 km/hour up until the 20 minute mark. After 20 minutes my right calf, the one which I most recently injured, was fine, but the left one was aching, so I went back to walking for 2 minutes. I thought that I might have neglected it since most of my recent rehab work was on the right side, and I didn’t want it to pain suddenly, hence the middle walking phase.

After that, I went back to jogging, at 9 km/hour. The left calf was still aching, but I figured ‘well it’s either going to stay aching or I can’t run on it, so I might as well test it out since I’ve only 5 days to go til the race…’

Finally, I finished the 8K. The aching had not got any worse. I walked for 2 minutes to warm down, stretched the legs out, went home and even iced the calf, such was my dedication.

Yesterday I did some more exercises on the troublesome right side that caused the biomedical fault I mentioned in Part 1 of this series. Today I plan to execute the third phase of the 7 days to 10K plan, which is a 10K street run. If I can get through that, I know I should be OK for the big day. I’ll report back on the morning of the race and let you know how my final stage of preparation goes. I know you can’t wait…