A Quiet Week

So much time, so much daylight, and so many possibilities. So far this summer has been the sizzling slice of life that I had long been awaiting, and to think we’re only in mid-July is certainly surprising.

I’ve been relaxed when it comes to making plans because well, time is very much on our side, and that is a luxury we seldom possess. As such, I felt little urgency to rush into my to-do list this week, and instead focused on recharging my batteries a bit after a lively return to Medway.

It didn’t take long for me to conclude that a hat-trick of Tap appearances just would not happen. I couldn’t have possibly gone through a third consecutive week of the sleep deprivation, and subsequent crankiness which blesses my household for a few days after. For all it is, and all it stands for, Tap is undoubtedly a great night- but it has to maintain that sense of occasion. If anything, that holds for every night out, particularly during the summer. We don’t want to saturate the experience, otherwise it loses the enjoyment factor- the main reason we go out in the first place.

Unfortunately for those that did go, they went on to echo my concern of Monday losing its charm. Another week for sure, but not too soon. For the time being, I’ve been trying to arrange just exactly what projects I want to pursue in the coming weeks, mainly in terms of running and writing. Additionally, it’s also been another period of simply letting my head just chill out.

There’s admittedly been a pungent air of tension throughout this week as I awaited my final results for my first year at SOAS. I always had it instilled in myself that nothing would be achieved at the end of this particular year, and that setting myself up to be successful when it matters, i.e. in year two, was what counted the most. However, as the exam period came and went, I managed to become convinced that I hadn’t done enough to hit the 50% pass rate in certain exams, namely the Japanese culture paper which I previously mentioned for containing none of the content I had revised.

Despite the concerns and consecutive sleepless nights, I am relieved to say that I have passed my first year of Japanese and Economics at SOAS, and will resume my studies into the second year in September.

With the results settled and no summer retakes booked, I can now begin the inquest into my performance over the past year, evaluating what went well, what went wrong, which methods need to be improved, and which need to be scrapped. It’s continuing the main aim of the first year by shaping myself up for a better 2017/18, and hopefully when all becomes clear I can write a little bit about how I’m going to tackle the next academic year, especially in light of two daunting maths courses.

Like previous years’ results, digesting it all takes a while, and I’ve still had that draining sense of mental fatigue even after crossing out all of the worst-case scenarios. It’s still difficult to sleep at night, and during these hot days I sometimes find myself staring into space before drifting off to sleep, so finding things to keep you motivated and focused is key. For me, it always starts with a good breakfast.

Every day has to start with a good breakfast. I’ve been trying to make the most of the season with the cheaper fruit, and the excess of berries growing all around me. A personal favourite has to be three wheat bisks (Aldi’s) with blueberries and strawberries. You can of course include other additions; kiwi always goes well, so do raspberries and blackberries. If I’m going for a run in the morning then I tend to add a banana for the carbohydrates and potassium, which complements the boost you get from the wheat bisks, which are also high in protein, low in fat, and best of all, low in sugar. On normal days I have a cup of tea, but to prep your body to fat-burn, black coffee is great for utilising fat as a fuel. This only works in the short-term however, and so I have been alternating weeks with and without coffee to try and hold on to the benefits. Another good option is green tea, which is similarly beneficial for getting that boost, and for fat-burning.

In terms of nutrition, my main goal this summer has been to lower my body-fat percentage, while improving my core strength. As a runner, strong and stable leadership hips are a must when the body absorbs so much shock from the ground. When your abs and core muscles become stronger and more durable, they can take stress away from the legs, and crucially the knees, thus preventing injury. To dispel a common myth, running does not actually harm your knees, rather it makes them stronger. It is those that cannot run properly, nor invest time in improving their core which suffer knee injuries. I was guilty of both earlier in the year, and learnt my lesson after spending three months wearing a patella strap.

While exercise is ultimately what sheds the unwanted fat, it is the nutritional side which acts as the catalyst in ensuring the fat-burning process is successful. Lower calorie intake is a complicated task, but a good trick is to focus more on the natural foods like fruits, vegetables, and anything which is packed with micro-nutrients that make you feel fuller for longer.

To use fat as a fuel, you will also need to invest less in those glycogen stores by lowering the carbs, and increasing the protein intake- lean meats, eggs, and nuts are great for this, just don’t go overboard on them, though.

Experimenting with your diet is definitely quite fun, and rewarding when everything goes to plan. With my body-fat percentage lower, it also opens up the possibility of doing a bulk and cut period later in the year, which I wouldn’t shy away from with the festive period sitting there so invitingly in the winter. Perhaps in anticipation then, I have already stocked up on muscle fuel for the winter, taking full advantage of Amazon Prime Day. I also bagged a foam roller for a ridiculous price.

On the running side, this week has been a continuation of the fartlek interval regime to improve my VO2 max ahead of the upcoming half marathon training. Before my long run at the weekend however, I did feel the need to take an extra day to rest. Sprint work definitely suffocates you into shape, while the multi-terrain course I have been running certainly takes its toll on the thighs. Alas, one extra day of rest did a world of good, as I went on run my 10K course around Hollingbourne at a faster pace than before without losing my breath or encountering any nasty stitches. There must be no underestimating the benefits of fartlek, I felt myself running so much more comfortably at a quicker pace, and the results make you feel incredible. The important thing, as always, is listening to your body, and knowing when to take that extra day of rest.

In other areas, it’s been another rare seven days where the TV has had plenty to offer. Once again Wimbledon dominated my afternoons, and had a thoroughly satisfying end in Roger Federer, perhaps the classiest man in sport, taking a dominant record-breaking victory. The same weekend, Lewis Hamilton absolutely owned the British Grand Prix, and finally got that crucial bit of luck which, let’s face it, he deserved. With no football, and now no tennis, Formula 1 is filling the void, just for these next two weeks before the summer break, though.

In the meantime, it’s nice to just have a few lazy afternoons- I’ve even had a bit of time for Pokemon Moon.

At the end of it all though, I’m feeling my energy levels topping themselves back up, and am ready to hit the towns once again for whatever plans unravel next week.

The summer days are long- there’s never any need to hurry. 


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