FitBits - fitness for fun and wellbeing: January 2014

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Sunday, 26 January 2014

Weeks 5 & 6 Brighton Marathon training


I'll open this post with a message from Jantastic that really resonates with me at the moment:


I can't believe that tomorrow will be the beginning of week 7 Brighton Marathon training! That means the big day is only 9 weeks away. If I'm honest I've thought of pretty much nothing else, apart from Wedfest, of course. I'm so focused it's sickening. (Or obsessive, you decide). 

Training's been going well mostly and I'm really enjoying the journey. Apart from anything else it's just nice to be outside and enjoy the seaside/countryside - I feel lucky every day knowing I've got such natural beauty on my doorstep to run through.

Bexhill on sea Galley Hill, Collonade
A beautiful misty run in Bexhill yesterday


As much as it scares me how fast time is disappearing I'm loving having a target and ticking sessions off/seeing improvements in pace and distance.

I've been practicing with gels/fuelling, kit to wear and listening to my body (especially knees) to rest when needed. With my dodgy knees this has meant that I've had to rest a bit more than I'd like, and have missed a few runs but on a whole the miles are clocking up nicely and I'm getting my head around pacing for threshold, long and easy sessions. Had some pretty hot dates with the foam roller and Tiger Tail too.

Marathon training - gels foam roller tiger tail


Core blimey!

The Kenyan Hills sessions are still a bit of a battle as my knees don't always recover in time for these but I'm doing my physio exercises and lots of yoga/core classes and cycling to get some cross training and strength/conditioning in.

bfit Brighton Core class bootcamp
bfit Brighton Core class

Another thing that's been great for core strength is kayaking. I'm a couple of weeks into a six week pool kayaking course with the Martlet Kayak Club in Brighton to learn to eskimo roll, which I'm loving. This is part of my goals for 2014 as I'll also be learning to swim and get back in the sea for some Spring/Summer kayaking. (More on this later).

Martlet Kayak Club Brighton

Pain in the arse

A couple of things worrying me with running though; my hamstrings and glutes are so ridiculously tight after and sometimes during runs, so much so that it physically hurts to sit down for too long. I've had cramp like this for a while but it's got much worse as I've increased the running. Sometimes it gets so bad I have to stand up and stretch it all out every hour at work, it's like stabbing pains in my glutes and backs of the legs - even though I've been stretching/foam rolling etc. like a boss post-run.

I'm overdue a review anyway so am getting it looked at on Tuesday with Tom at PhysioRooms in Brighton - hopefully it's fixable.

The other thing that's worrying me a little is the fact that my weekly mileage isn't that high - but I'm not sure if it matters at this stage as I'm sure it'll increase and anyway I have to take things slowly because of my knees so we'll see... 

Braving the elements 

Today's long run was a number of things, not all of them good: cold, wet, windy, muddy, hilly and quite frankly bloody hard work. In fact, it's the hardest run I've done in a long time, not because it's the furthest, (11 miles people!!), but because the weather, terrain and driving wind and rain battered me senseless for over two hours and made me question my sanity on a number of occasions. 

RunBrighton training run - South Downs Devil's Dyke marathon training brighton


Despite this though, it was absolutely exhilarating, and the atmosphere and camaraderie of other runners and RunBrighton Ambassadors was just fantastic. I'm totally loving these group Sunday long runs; I've met so many amazing people (a lot of whom I've been chatting to on Twitter for a while but hadn't met in person - Beth, Nik, Matt, Danny, Michelle to name a few), found new running routes, challenged myself and come away feeling on top of the world after every single run. 

I couldn't do it on my own, I know that for a fact. 

Anyway, a breakdown of training for weeks 5 and 6:


*Every day includes cycling to and from work but I can't be assed to write this on every training day*


Week 5

Monday: bfit Core class + physio exercises 
Tuesday: Kayaking 
Wednesday: 50min threshold run with 5x(5mins effort / 2mins jog) + bfit Yoga class
Thursday: Rest 
Friday: Rest + physio exercises
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Winter Duathlon at Dorney Lake (the one where I lapped Kelly Holmes)

Total miles: 23

Week 6

Monday: Physio exercises 
Tuesday: 25min kettlebells workout @ home + Kayaking 
Wednesday: 35min threshold run with 2x(10mins effort / 3mins jog)
Thursday: Rest 
Friday: Rest + physio exercises
Saturday: 40min easy run
Sunday: 11miles long run (trails, hills, wind & rain!) with RunBrighton 

Total miles: 17



Next week is a recovery week so no threshold or hill sessions, just four lovely easy pace runs. I've got physio on Tuesday morning and am gonna hopefully book a sports massage too so looking forward to it! 

What are you training for, and how's it going? Do you do long runs in a group or go solo? I don't know if I could hack racking up the miles on my own... 





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Friday, 24 January 2014

Lapping Kelly Holmes at the Maxifuel Winter Duathlon


Ladies and Gentlemen, I lapped Dame Kelly Holmes. Twice. 


Kelly Holmes at the Maxifuel Winter Duathlon, Dorney Lake


OK, so maybe she lapped me, spectacularly, over and over again, on the run and bike laps, even with a puncture. But I did run past her twice on the out-and-back course so let me have my moment, yeah?

Last Sunday, me and the boy got up at stupid o'clock and drove to the beautiful Dorney Lake to take part in the first race of the Maxifuel Winter Duathlon Series. 
Maxifuel Winter Duathlon, Dorney Lake

It was to be my second duathlon, his first. My first duathlon was the better-trained-for London Duathlon, in which I finished strong and with a good time. 

For this one, the boy signed up for Super Sprint (2.5k, 10k, 2.5k) and I went for Sprint (5k, 20k, 5k), so an 8k upgrade on the bike lap. Olympic distance of 5k, 40k, 10k was also available but I didn't fancy that on my chunky hybrid and temperamental knees.

Being in the middle of marathon training means that specific training for this race was cleverly disguised as marathon training with the odd cycle-to-and-do-Parkrun thrown in for good measure - so as you can imagine, I wasn't at my duathlete best to say the least. 

A word of advice, kids...

If you're thinking of doing a duathlon make sure you train properly for it and respect the difficulty of having to put the distances and disciplines together - they may each be doable with your current level of fitness, but trust me, putting them together is a different matter!


Maxifuel Winter Duathlon, Dorney Lake, F3 Events

Anyway, this is how it went, km for km:


Run One (5k) 

Start line: 
Oh he's giving us a pre-race brief. What's he saying? Where's the run lap? Don't run into the lake? I need the toilet. My knees are a bit temperamental, hope they don't give me jip. Ah, isn't it a lovely day?

km 1:
Shit, overtaken by 90% of racers already - this is gonna be a fast one. Come on legs, stop being heavy, it's only 5k. How many laps am I doing again? *checks hand*. I wonder where the boy is?

km 2:
That's better, into my groove a bit. Overtaken a couple of people, but still at the back. That's fine. This sun is getting in my eyes, where's the boy? Oh there he is, on his way back! *High Five*.

km 3:
Hmm, out again for the second lap - this isn't too comfortable. I'm not racing anyone here, taking it steady as don't wanna bugger knees for the marathon.

km 4:
I like that girl's compression socks. I'm gonna get some on payday. This is such a beautiful place :) I wonder how the boy's getting on.

km 5:
Yay, (first) home straight. Shit, gotta do that again after 20k on the bike. Come on legs. *takes gel*

Time: 00:29:26

Bike Lap (20k)

Lap 1:
Right, come on, let's do this. I smashed the cycle lap at London - this is a flat course. It's in the bag.

Lap 2:
Ah. This is harder than I thought. Everyone's got carbon fibre performance tri bikes. Why did I bring a hybrid?  Ooh look at the rowers on the lake! This wind is up on the way back - my legs hurt. I wonder if the boy's finished yet?

Winter Duathlon Dorney Lake
Behold our chunky hybrids
Lap 3:
Two more of these? This is gonna hurt. *takes gel* Why are these people walking their bikes back? Oh they've got punctures. Gutted. Bless my hybrid and its chunky, non-racing tyres. Where's the boy? Oh there he is! Shit, he's got a camera. Look happy. *grimaces*.

Lap 4:
Jesus Christ I'm knackered. How am I gonna run another 5k after this? I want to stop. Shall I just pretend I've got a puncture? Nah, I want that bloody medal. My bum hurts.

Time: 45:57

Run Two (5k) 

km 1:
My bum hurts. My legs don't work. I want my mummy. *stops to do hair and contemplate calling mum*.

km 2:
I'm hungry. *tries to take caffeine non-isotonic gel*. Shit this is thick. Eugh this is horrible. *gulps water, chokes*. My legs hurt. Half way there though... keep going. She looks comfortable. Show off. There's the boy with a camera. Don't grimace. Smile. *grimaces*.

Winter Duathlon Dorney Lake
"This is comfortable." Said no one. 

km 3:
OK nearly there, have turned back now. I can do this. God, this is little more than a shuffle. Knees not too happy. Hope this doesn't happen at the marathon. I wonder what the medal's like.

km 4:
There's that show off again. Looking all comfortable. I want her legs. And her sunglasses, this sun's right in my eyes. Are we finished yet? *checks Garmin* Oh wow that's a slow pace. Don't tell anyone.

km 5:
Right, come on. This is it. Pick the pace up. Oh ok, no, no, slow it back down, that's fine. I want a roast. Where's the boy? Home straight. There's the finish line. There's the boy with the camera again. Don't grimace. Smile. *grimaces*. Ooh, shiny medal!

Time: 31:57

Total time: 01:50:01

Winter Duathlon, Dorney Lake F3 Events

I found out at the end that the boy had completely smashed his time, coming in 11th out of 28 in the Super Sprint, even on a chunky hybrid. He's now up for triathlons and all sorts. :) 


So, boys and girls, lessons learned from my second duathlon:


  1. Train specifically for the event - Sunday 10 milers and other marathon training doesn't cut it for a duathlon. 
  2. Don't race a chunky hybrid against seasoned duathletes/triathletes/cyclists/superheroes with pro bikes. 
  3. Caffeine gels are rank.
  4. That 'show off' from the last run was actually Dame Kelly Holmes. And she wasn't showing off at all, she was just running. I'll let her off. 

More photos on my Facebook page

I won the pair of tickets at the Write This Run conference at the Running Show - who else won places for this one? Or have you done a duathlon before/thinking about one?


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Friday, 17 January 2014

Brighton Marathon Training Day

Last Sunday after my long morning run with the RunBrighton crew *cough-10miles-cough :)*, I went to the Brighton Marathon Training Day, held at the Hilton Metropole hotel on the seafront.

Brighton Marathon Training Day 2014

The day was run by the guys behind my training plan, Nick and Phoebe, who run RunLounge, and Runningwithus. (Blatantly going for the record number of times I can say 'run' in two sentences here).


The right plan? 


I've been a bit unsure if my training plan is right for me, as I had to bail on the threshold session last week and wasn't able to run again until Saturday - if I can't keep up with the training plan now what am I going to do in a few weeks?!

The advice and information we got on the Training Day has put my mind at ease though and I've worked out now that threshold sessions on a Tuesday aren't going to happen after a long run on Sunday as I need more time to recover. So it's basically about listening to my body and changing and adapting the plan to suit.

Brighton Marathon Training Day Saucony RunLounge
Saucony demonstrating gait analysis


I'm following the RunLounge Beginner Marathon plan and it gets emailed to me every week on a Friday. You might think it's a bit weird not to know what's coming until the week before but I actually really like it as it's an exciting surprise and leaves no time to get scared or overwhelmed with what lies ahead.

I've just received next week's plan in my inbox and am excited to see another easy run added, taking the total weekly runs to four, as I was a bit nervous that three runs a week may not be enough.

To take away... 


This whole marathon malarkey is unchartered territory for me and I've never been to a training day before so wanted to share what I learnt before I forget it all!

  • Marathon uses AEROBIC system. 
  • Consistency is key - if you miss a session or few through injury or illness don't try and jump in where you should be. Pick up where you left off. Don't cram training as you'll just crash and burn. 
  • Tapering is IMPORTANT - Don't do too much a few weeks before. Your body won't recover and you'll be fatigued on marathon day. 
  • Last long run should be minimum 3 weeks before big day - Worthing 20 is a perfect option - 9th March, exactly a month before. --> except it's a lapped course - 4x5miles?! :-/
  • Buy new shoes approx six weeks before marathon day - this gives enough time to break in. (I don't need telling twice, I LOVE buying new shoes!)

Threshold and Kenyan What-nows?!

  • Threshold and hill sessions very important 
    • Threshold: 10-15mins warm up essential. Should be at 3-4 word pace - i.e. controlled discomfort. NOT 5k smash pace. If you can't sustain the pace for the effort time, you're running too fast
    • Kenyan Hills: 10-15mins warm up essential. Find a good hill. Run up for 45-50 seconds and back down at the same pace - don't smash it up the hill, die at the top and walk/jog down - using wrong energy system (anaerobic). 

Nutrition

  • Sort nutrition/fuelling now
  • Practice with gels, sports drinks and kit
  • Practice long runs at the same time as marathon start time
  • CONTROL the CONTROLLABLE - make better decisions more often
  • Test - review - change
  • Breakfast - PROTEIN
  • Prep own lunch - batch cook for week
  • If running hard in the morning - fuel the night before
  • Don't go longer than 4 hours without food 
  • Don't try something new on race day
  • Common sense prevails - balance between what is ideal and what works for you
Brighton Marathon Training Day
Dawn from Body Rehab talking dynamic stretches and warm ups

There was definitely lots to take away from the Training Day, probably far too much to put down here. I spoke to the guys at Body Rehab about sports massages and glutes/hamstrings stretches as I really seize up after running. Dawn from Body Rehab took the group through some great dynamic and static stretches to practice throughout the next few weeks, so I'll be taking those on board too. 

The next Brighton Marathon Training Days are 9th February and then 2nd March - it's already only 78 days until the big race, and I want all the help I can get so I'll definitely be attending! 

Have you been to a Training Day like this? Were you at the Brighton one? 
Tell me how your training's going! 

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Week 4 Brighton Marathon Training - Breaking 10 miles


I'm sprawled across the floor in a pitiful version of pigeon pose as I type this; trying to shut up my screaming arse and hamstrings after today's long run.

Today, I broke 10miles. TEN MOTHERTRUCKIN' MILES boys & girls. 
*Happy face*

To say I'm chuffed is a bit of an understatement - I'm not gonna shut up about this for ages. Well, OK, until I run it again, or further. So gimme a couple of weeks, yeah?  

RunBrighton training runs brighton marathon training
Into double figures!!

Little by little


There are a lot of psychological barriers and milestones in marathon training; not least the terrifying prospect of actually running the damn thing - 26.2 miles is a bloody long way, and it scares the shit out of me. But, doing things that scare and challenge you are good for the soul. 

If something's easy, what's the point in doing it? 

Brighton Marathon training run alarm
Epic Sunday run alarm!
I'm a big believer in setting goals and working hard to reach them. And despite my constant state of terror and denial at the moment I know deep down that if training is broken down into manageable, weekly chunks, and I keep up with my physio/strength and conditioning exercises, foam rolling and rest/recovery, I can do it.

*hang on, let me swap legs*

After running 8.5miles for a couple of weeks during the 1hr30 long runs with RunBrighton, this morning's outing was 1hr45, starting at the Hilton Metropole in Brighton and out and back to Rottingdean over the chalk cliffs. The first half of the run was into some immense headwind, which, combined with the hills was interesting to say the least!

I was really nervous about this run as I've had a bit of a crap week running-wise and missed the two hard midweek runs. I had to abandon my threshold session on Tuesday because of niggling knees that weren't easing during the warm up. I think it might be because I need longer to recover from the Sunday long run. Not wanting to put myself out again I didn't try to run again until Saturday and did a couple of yoga sessions (one at home and one class) alongside cycling to work to keep things moving.

A beautiful Brighton Parkrun


By Saturday my knees felt OK to run so I ventured out to my first Parkrun since October. One word: OUCH. It's been far too long and despite my resolve to take it easy to save my legs for today I couldn't help but push on through - it was my second slowest Parkrun ever but it hurt like hell. Still, it was a beautiful morning, and I was glad to be out running. 


So, apart from yesterday's Preston Park Parkrun and this morning's 10miler (yay, said it again!), that's it for running this week. I'm hoping to nail the sessions next week as I learned at today's Brighton Marathon Training Day (more on this later) that the threshold runs are crucial for developing running efficiency and everyone knows that hills make you stronger so no room to skip sessions. 

So, a summary of Week Five:

The week in training:
*Every day includes cycling to and from work but I can't be assed to write this on every training week*

Monday: Core class, physio exercises 
Tuesday: 9mins of knee-niggly plodding until abandonment --> morning yoga session instead
Wednesday: Yoga class
Thursday: Rest + physio exercises
Friday: Rest 
Saturday: Parkrun
Sunday: RunBrighton long run - 10 miles :)

Oh yeah, and I got my breakfast bang on this morning too, and had a gel at halfway point, so I didn't feel hungry in the latter stages of the run like I have for the last couple of weeks. Think I'm beginning to learn what works and what doesn't!



What are you training for and how's it going? I want stories!! 

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Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Brighton Marathon training so far - Weeks 1-3


I can't believe I'm already in Week Four of my marathon training! The weeks have gone so quick, April's gonna be here before I know it!

Foam roller, tiger tail, running
Apparatus in the temple of DOOM
I'm still going through recurring stages of abject terror and childlike excitement at the prospect of completing my first marathon - my mind is so determined to do it but my body might have other ideas, so I just need to take it slow and be sensible throughout the coming weeks.

I wasn't too sensible at the start though and went and fucked my knees enough to put me out for a few weeks - now that I'm back running it's ALL about rest and recovery just as much as it is about putting the miles in.

The last three weeks have looked a bit like this:

Week One - 16-22 December
Easy does it 

The last week at work before Christmas was a monumentally busy one with lots of overtime so no time to run in the evenings. I was glad to see Tom my ace physio on Tuesday to go through taping and check progress on my exercises, and was chuffed that my balance and control has improved a little since doing all these single leg knee dips and squats/Jane Fondas.

He filmed my running style and showed me what to improve on (I'm such a waddler!) and sent me on my way, with the focus of 'running comfortably' ingrained in my mind for the coming weeks. With so much to think about and comfort as the main goal, I logged a few easy plods and ignored Thursday's threshold session:

Monday: CORE class + physio exercises
Tuesday: Physio appointment
Wednesday: Careful lunchtime run, 25mins
Thursday: Careful lunchtime run, 24mins
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Rest + physio exercises
Sunday: Long run - 45mins (4.2 miles)

Total miles: 8.25


Week Two - 23-29 December
Ho ho hop to it 

Christmas week. Again, with the focus on comfort and lots of festive cheer/chocolate/wine around, I took it easy and logged a few plods throughout the week. It was really nice running in Bexhill where I grew up; I did a bit of a nostalgic tour of the town to pass my old haunts - although was upset to see that my High School has been demolished to make way for a new road build. 

A muddy Christmas Day woodland run saw me return with happy feet and lots of room to polish off the day's excesses and I finished the week with the most EPIC Sunday in the history of EVER, finally making it to a RunBrighton group training run after missing the first few weeks. 

trail running, christmas day


Monday: Rest (aka Christmas piss up with an old friend :) )
Tuesday (Christmas Eve): Run to town to pick up the car (25mins)
Wednesday (Christmas Day): Muddy woodland Run 25mins + physio exercises
Thursday (Boxing Day): Rest/eat/drink/be merry
Friday: Rest + physio exercises
Saturday: Rest/drive back to Brighton
Sunday: RunBrighton Long run - 90mins (8.5miles) --> my longest run since Brighton Half Marathon in Feb 2013! Beautiful sunshine, no knee pain whatsoever and plenty of fuel left in the tank at the end - I was on top of the world!
Sunday also included a 12km bike ride for an EPIC reward roast :)

Brighton sunrise beach seaside
Beautiful Brighton sunrise for our Sunday long run

Total miles: 13.5 ran + 7.5 cycled.


Week Three - 30 December - 5 January  
Happy New Year, happy feet :) 

Preston Park Brighton running
A wet & muddy NYE threshold run
The one with New Year in the middle, and going back to work. I've really enjoyed running through the festive period; getting up when I want, going for a run, getting back into my pyjamas to eat chocolate and watch crap TV has been lots of fun. Going back to work on Thursday of this week was hard - and I knew I had to bag my planned run in the morning as I wouldn't be arsed after work.

Behold the pretty twilight hills:




Monday: Rest + physio exercises
Tuesday (NYE): 40min threshold run in the pouring rain - with 3x(5min effort/2min recoveries) OUCH.
Wednesday (NYD): Rest/succumb to hangover
Thursday (Back to work): 25min hills (meant to be 40 but I miscalculated the time)
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Rest + physio exercises
Sunday: RunBrighton long run 90mins (8.77miles) --> a teeny bit further than last week but harder as shit night sleep the night before.


Total miles: 16 

Back to normal for week four...

Now that we're back to work and normal routine has resumed, week four will include regular cross training like cycling to work and Core/Yoga classes with bfit. I'm keeping an eye on my knees and listening to any niggles as don't wanna put myself out again. This morning's threshold run was cut short as knees weren't happy so gonna take it easy again in time for Sunday's long run. 


Brighton, I'm coming to get you!  

Are you training for a marathon? Let me know how your training's going!

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Thursday, 2 January 2014

New Year, New You - the ultimate guilt trip

I got an email today with the following subject line:

'Change your relationship with food away from 'it's complicated'...‏ 

I work in marketing and I know about effective subject lines, and this one pissed me off royally. I have a great relationship with food, thank you very much, we get on just fine. 

Inside the email were 20 heavily discounted products and services to help us 'lose weight', 'blast fat', or 'beat the bulge this New Year' - basically a barrage of stuff to make us feel guilty for our Christmas indulgences, undo our wrongdoings and suck us into the whole New Year, New You bullshit.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for new beginnings and setting goals at New Year, but I don't agree with the way we are constantly bombarded with airbrushed, unrealistic perfection and made to feel like crap if we don't have the ultimate 'bikini body'.

protein shake supplement diet shake
Skinny Diva Diet Shake. Er... no thanks. 

This one email had everything for the self-loathing, post-Christmas guilt tripper - protein muffins and 5:2 diet books; weekly meal subscriptions;  slimming patches, food hypnosis sessions, juice detoxes and about 101 different types of meal supplement or replacement shake with the word 'skinny' in the product name.

Almost half of the products used those irritating, ubiquitous stock photos that plague our media at this time of year - the perfectly-slim waistline with a tape measure wrapped around - a symbol of the relentless quest for the 'perfect body' that so many of us have strived to attain since we first found our body-insecurities as adolescents.

New Year New You slimming patches lose weight fast
I tried slimming patches years ago - bought them in secret (and no, they didn't work)

The healthy way


The problem is, until you eat a healthy, balanced diet and exercise regularly (i.e. find something you LOVE doing not just something you feel like you HAVE to do like hit the gym for hours on end in January), you'll never change your lifestyle or body shape - not for the long term, anyway.

It took me a long time to find joy in exercise - I quit smoking and joined Weight Watchers first and lost nearly two stone, and once the weight started to drop off I got into bootcamp and then started running.

I quit Weight Watchers after it stopped working for me and saw a Brighton nutritionist and that was my turning point. I'm by no means totally happy with my fitness or body image; I still love a good binge and know I've got so much more to learn in terms of running and nutrition/fuelling - but it's a journey, and a lifelong one that I'm never turning back on.

I'm not going back to the sofa-dwelling*, fag-sucking lazy arse that I used to be - but that's because I've changed my life the right way, the healthy way - not by being hypnotised into stopping eating, detoxing or sticking slimming patches on in the hope that I'll be a size six by next week.

A word of advice, folks - if you get an email like this, do yourself a favour and scan it for cool exercise class deals and then stick it in the trash. No amount of chemically-produced self-adhesive slimming patches or magic meal replacement capsules are gonna make you change your lifestyle.

That takes something called dedication, perseverance and desire to change. It'll take a bloody long time and it won't be easy, but the only person who can do it is YOU.

Now go make it happen!

Apologies to anyone who has found longterm success with any of the products in this email - 
I'm keen to hear your story if you have! 


* A fair amount of sofa-dwelling still goes on I can assure you. 

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