FitBits - fitness for fun and wellbeing: December 2014

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Saturday, 27 December 2014

A week of (mostly French) Christmas running

Christmas makes me happy. 
Running makes me happy. 
Marathon training makes me hungry.


Good job it's Christmas then.

One half of the Christmas Dinner Dream Team - cooked for 13 :)


This week is the first official week of training for Brighton Marathon 2015.

I'm attempting the Intermediate plan from RunLounge / RunBrighton as did the Beginner's this year and was advised to step it up a notch.

I ran my first marathon on three runs a week as didn't wanna push it with my knees, but I'm hoping I'm now strong enough to cope with the four or five weekly runs - especially with the extra strength training I've been doing with Love Life Fitness (more on that later).

We've been in France for Christmas and I've been loving the quiet country lanes instead of the busy streets of Brighton to bosh out the miles. I've also loved the excellent level of Christmas bingeing that's been happening in between runs - a PB in many ways.

Oh, and I got the BEST present from my Secret Santa:

A photo posted by @fitbits_tess on

So a week of Christmas running looked a bit like this:

Run 1: A ploddy run commute 


Not much to say about this one - I ran the nearly two miles to work, it wasn't comfortable and I didn't like it, waaaaaaah. Check out my AWESOME pacing consistency. Why can't I keep a steady pace dammit!!


Run 2: An easy Christmas Eve run


After a whole day of sitting on my arse on trains and ferries to get to Droux for Christmas, I was itching to get out to turn the legs over, so went out with my sis-in-law for a nice easy paced 5k

We ran down to the village of Droux and along the old railway track before coming home to refuel on chocolate, bread, cheese, wine and everything else you should be gorging on at Christmas. 


Run 3: A Christmas Day progression run 


After waking up with a belly full of wine and food I kinda knew this run wouldn't start off very easily. On the plan was a 30 min progression run - 10 mins easy, 10 steady and 10 threshold. I did the same loop as the day before and it took me a good half of it to warm up and get comfortable. 

By the end though I was flying, sort of, in a not-quite-threshold-but-the-best-you're-gonna-get-at-Christmas kind of way. I totally made enough room for the mountain of food I packed away that afternoon.

Definitely. 


Run 4: The one with the donkeys

Boxing Day was a day off for running but I did do the bodyweight circuit that Amy had given me to do while I was away. On paper it looked like an easy-enough session but by the third repetition I was more than ready for another glass of wine. 

Today's run was the long run - 80 mins slow and steady - I was a good girl and used Garmin Connect to map out the route before setting off, wrote down directions and made sure everyone had their phones on in case I got lost and needed a Cote du Rhone delivery to the side of the road. 




I ran down to Droux and towards La Brousse along a very busy and not-made-for-running main road. This bit wasn't good fun at all, there were loads of cars and although I was on the grassy verge I decided there and then not to run that way again. The numerous French drivers doing 60mph past me seemed to agree as they honked their horns aggressively. 

My calves were also screaming at me for the first few miles and I had to keep stopping to stretch. Anyone else had this? It's a new one for me, not sure what to do other than foam roll and stretch it out?

Happy to turn off onto a quiet country lane



Once I turned off the main road towards Villefavard it was all lovely country lanes and quaint French villages so I relaxed into a comfy pace again, stopping to check the route and take photos/stretch out the angry calves. 

I met a couple of friendly French donkeys too, which slowed me down a bit as I stopped to say hello:





I got back tired, hungry and achey but glad I could tick the session off as done, despite the pain and extra Christmas weight I was carrying. 

I'm pretty convinced that once I'm back home and not eating / drinking like a pig it'll be easier to bosh out the miles for the coming weeks. 

Have you ran this week or written it off to enjoy the break? 
Who else is marathon training for a Spring race? 




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Friday, 12 December 2014

Building a stronger me

I've been saying it for years - I want to be a faster, stronger, better runner.

I love running but it's bloody hard work and there's a lot of room for improvement.

Yes, I'm relatively fit, but I'm not very strong. I have muscle imbalances and joint issues that cause me pain and discomfort on almost a daily basis in one way or another. My knees, although they are so much better now I've been to physio and addressed some issues, have been a problem ever since I started exercising, (and no, Mr GP, I won't 'just stop running', as helpful as your advice was all those years ago).

My hamstrings are so tight I can't touch my toes, I get muscle cramps if I sit for too long and my ankles used to give way for no apparent reason. Two weeks before the marathon this April I developed a hip injury which although is much better now, the joint is still tight and needs exercising.



Basically, some of me is broken 


I'm very quad dominant. My calves are rock solid too. I've cycled everywhere since being a kid, always had a set of wheels (or two, or three at uni) and have never shied away from hills, rather just sit back and get on with them.

But my hamstrings and glutes are so stupidly weak it's embarrassing. Yoga is particularly entertaining. I've also lost much of my core strength since moving away from bootcamp and doing more running, cycling, swimming and other training, even though it's pretty integral to these things too.

I had a body fat analysis last week - 36% body fat, boys and girls. I weigh 60kg and more than a third of that is fat. I got a bit too comfortable after my boxing fight and it's all got a bit wobbly. Must stop refuelling with pizza and beer.


Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I'm fat, and I'm not telling you all this to have a right old moan - I'm telling you because I love being fit and healthy and I'm excited for what 2015 will bring but there's only so much I can blag while carrying certain weaknesses.

Running two marathons next year might just tip that threshold.

The Masterplan


So, it begins.

Project get-off-the-sugar-and-sort-your-legs-out starts now. I realise that a) the project needs a better name, and b) Christmas is not a great time to be abstaining from the sweet stuff. I'm all up for indulging at this time of year, and don't worry, I still will - it's just I just had a choice about whether to start now or in January and I chose now because there's no point putting it off.

Here's what I'm doing to build a faster, stronger me:


Strength & conditioning 
How can I expect my body to cope with the impending winter training if I don't make sure I'm strong enough to manage the load I expect of it? My amazing physio, Tom Goom, of The Physio Rooms in Brighton, has taught me lots about preventing injury for runners and given me the tools to get stronger.

I WILL DO MY PHYSIO EXERCISES AT LEAST TWICE A WEEK.

Weight training 
Comes under the above category really, and I've been faffing about with weights on my own for too long now. I need some structured training - say hello to Brighton personal trainer Amy Jordan, of Love Life Fitness. I started training with her this week and for the next few weeks we're gonna sort me out good and proper.

Getting up for 6:30am gym sessions has its benefits:

Brighton Pier sunrise - Tess Agnew

Weight training for runners


This week alone I've finally had my first go at playing with barbells after wanting to learn the clean and press for so long. I was more than a little excited when we moved over to the pull up machine too.

We've done body weight and weighted squats, lunges, barbell upright row and shoulder press, bench presses, leg raises, deadlifts, russian twists with the medicine ball - basically lots of stuff that I've been avoiding because I'm not strong enough or I'm scared of my knees hurting.

Give me a few months, just you wait.

Magnesium supplement 
This was recommended to me by Rachel at Body Optimum when I first went to see her after Weight Watchers stopped working for me a couple of years ago. Alongside the clean eating nutrition plan she advised me to get some of this stuff to ease my muscle cramps and top up my low stores. It's also great for exercise recovery.

I cannot recommend this stuff enough if you've got a magnesium deficiency. I didn't know I did have until I saw a nutritionist - symptoms were muscle cramps and restless legs when still, and generally low energy and poor recovery during and after exercise.


Magnesium supplement for runners


Clean(ish) eating 
I'm no stranger to eating clean. I'm a pro at a good old dabble - I'll behave for a few weeks and then have a binge to reward myself, so can never stay 'clean' for long periods of time.

This time it's gonna be different. I'm going clean(ish). 80/20 and all that.

I'll try to eat a nutritious, balanced diet, upping my protein intake and decreasing my grains to one portion a day. I'm gonna start the day with one of my beasty clean eating breakfast recipes.

Clean eating breakfast recipes - egg & veg muffins
Healthy egg & veg breakfast muffins. Recipe here.

I'll get my fill of healthy fats and get the majority of my carbs from a mix of fresh vegetables. I'll keep sugar to a minimum (apart from Christmas Day and Boxing Day, when I'll eat ALL THE CHOCOLATE).

I'll get off the booze in January but for now will enjoy December for what it is and make sure I'm eating clean to compensate for any alcohol. No more refuelling from a long cycle ride or run with pizza and beer.

Well. Maybe only if over 60miles.

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Are you weight training to build strength for a particular goal? Am I the only one who finds lifting heavy weights really empowering? If anyone else has found weight training has improved your running please share below! xx



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