Bank Holiday Brunch

I personally think that I should win girlfriend of the year award for this…

I stayed out at a friends house on Sunday night, whilst The Man went out for a few (too many!) pints with the boys. Knowing that the kitchen was bare and The Man’s stomach would be empty, I stopped off on my way home in the morning and picked up croissants. I then made the ultimate croissant breakfast – one savoury, one sweet. The first one had a rasher of crispy bacon and melted cheddar cheese and the second one was filled with melted chocolate, which was perfect for dipping in a frothy coffee. It’s like having a main course and a dessert!

Croissants & Coffee

Croissants & Coffee

Obviously I am totally aware of how unhealthy this is, so here is a workout to burn it off!

Grab a barbell and put a weight on that you can use for the entire workout. I used 15kg which might not seem like much but there are a lot of reps – those Clean and Presses really do get you!

30 x Clean and Press
30 x Squats
30 x Deadlifts
30 x Press Ups

Row 500m as fast as you can.

20 x Clean and Press
20 x Squats
20 x Deadlifts
20 x Press Ups

Row 500m as fast as you can.

10 x Clean and Press
10 x Squats
10 x Deadlifts
10 x Press Ups

Row 500m as fast as you can.

Thinking about it, I’d probably recommend you do the workout first then eat the double croissant wonder afterwards, otherwise it could get messy….

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Cardio Vs. Strength

Strength Vs. Cardio

Let me start by saying that I love both. It is my opinion that they both have their part to play in overall health, fitness and weight management.

The problem I’m having is finding the right balance between the two.

Now that the weather has (at least temporarily for the UK!) brightened up, I’m more and more inclined to go for a run outside in the fresh air rather than head to a sweaty, dark gym.

For me, running is the easiest way to fit a work out in. All I need is my iPhone with music and the MapMyRun app and I can head out the door. (Alright, that’s a lie. I also need my favourite running tights, a good sports bra, a bottle of water, headphones, an arm-band to hold said iPhone, a pair of 1000 mile socks to stop the blisters, trainers and my door key – but you know what I mean!) There’s little planning required and it fits into my daily routine easily – if I don’t have long then I can go for a fast paced short distance run, if I have plenty of time then I can do 10 miles at a leisurely pace. I don’t need to book a week in advance to make sure I have a place secured (like some of my favourite group exercise classes) and I don’t have to fight for space to swing kettle bells like I sometimes do during peak time in the gym.

18 months ago I never would have thought I would say this, but here goes… I love running.

All sounds rosy,  so you’d think that I’d be happy. But no. This morning, when I revisited an old strength circuit that I used to do during the winter, I discovered that I could no longer manage the 25 full press ups that I used to be able to. In fact, I couldn’t even manage 12.  Sob!

There is nothing more frustrating than going backwards.

I love the feeling of being strong and the muscle definition that comes with that strength. Sadly, it turns out that I need to work hard at it week after week, just to maintain it, otherwise that feeling soon fades away and instead I am an angry mess lying on the mats relegated back to doing girly press ups. Well I’m not having that. Not after all that hard work to get there in the first place.

So it’s time to reset the balance. From now on, every Tuesday and Friday I am going to resist the urge to run and instead hit the gym for some strength training. Paying particular attention to my stubborn, needy, selfish, upper body.

Let’s hope that muscle memory isn’t a myth!!

How do you find the balance between Cardio and Strength?

Me Vs. New Kit

Leave me unattended with the laptop for an evening and I will most likely end up indulging in some ‘virtual’ online shopping. I say ‘virtual’ because I don’t actually buy anything. I just put lots of things in my basket, dream for a little while about a) How amazing it would be to actually own those things and b) How I could find a way to afford those things….then eventually resign to the fact that short of winning the lottery it isn’t going to happen and close the laptop in a huff.

Lately though, my virtual shopping has extended from Topshop & ASOS to JD Sports, the Nike Store and Sweaty Betty.

In my dream world, I’d have an entire wardrobe dedicated purely to workout clothing and trainers. Lorna at Lunges and Lycra has got the right idea with her huge collection of trainers – soooo jealous!!

Wearing the right clothing does not only make working out more comfortable but it also makes me feel the part, which in turn, makes me act the part too.

Crazy though it might sound, the right clothes make me feel stronger and faster. When I made the switch from a baggy old pair of jogging bottoms to a new pair of Nike running tights it was like something clicked inside me. Suddenly I felt like I belonged at the gym.

In fact, investing (doesn’t that word make spending feel less guilty?!) in new workout clothes boosts my motivation in two different ways.

  1. It motivates me to get out of the door. Some days, this can be the biggest hurdle to overcome!
  2. It motivates me to work hard. Unfortunately, getting out of the door is only half of the battle. Tempting though it may be to plod along on the X-Trainer for 20 minutes, I think we all know by now that it doesn’t give you the best results. You’ve got to work up a sweat!

Think of it this way. You can’t rock up at the gym in sexy new Nike Flyknits and then just hang around the water cooler for an hour, now can you?! Or worse still, leave the lovely little things lurking at the back of the cupboard unused, Quel Horreur!!  These sorts of trainers need to be out pounding the pavements…or at least pounding the treadmill if you don’t want to get them dirty (they are so pretty after all).

I mean who wouldn’t want to go for a run EVERYDAY if they owned a pair of these…

Shame  that my budget dictates that I have to make do with my trusty but boring, plain, black Asics. Hmph. Guess I’ll have to dig deep to find some motivation within for now.

P.S. Unfortunately for me Nike hasn’t endorsed this post. I really am just a big Nike fan who wants, but can’t afford, to buy their entire ladies range. Shame.

What workout gear gets you motivated? What new kit are you lusting after at the moment?

Me Vs. The RAF Fitness Test

Over the weekend I caught up with my 17 year old cousin who is currently going through screening to enter the RAF as a Mechanic. He’d recently passed the Fitness Test and I was intrigued to hear what it consisted of.

The thing that stood out to me was the running test:

  • Complete 2.4km in 11 minutes and 11 seconds or less (on a treadmill)

I like to think of myself as quite fit, but that sounded pretty fast!

Despite having absolutely no intention of attempting to join the armed forces (sorry – the title of this blog is probably a bit misleading!) I decided I needed to know whether I could do it.

This morning I hit the gym to give it a go. I calculated that I would need to set the speed to 13 kmph – yikes! Despite having pretty long legs, I usually consider 14 kmph to be a sprint for me – I accepted long ago that I am definitely built for endurance not speed!

After 5 minutes I was blowing pretty hard. I turned the speed down to catch my breath, then cranked it back up again. Towards the end I had to speed up to 14.5 kmph to try make up some ground. But damnit, I didn’t quite make it!!!!!!

2.4km in 11mins 45seconds.

2.4km in 11 mins 45 seconds.

A quick google when I arrived home and I discovered that as a woman I’d in fact only need to do it in 13 minutes and 23 seconds.

Still, I am not satisfied. I am absolutely determined to do it in less that 11 minutes and 11 seconds, so watch this space…

In fact, consider it a challenge to any fellow runners/gym goers out there reading this…I hope to see some shakey pics of sweaty treadmills soon!

Me Vs. Hills

I admit it, I plan my running routes to avoid hills.

All well and good if the upcoming race you are training for avoids hills too…

Alas, mine doesn’t. In fact, there is a pretty mammoth hill to climb to get to the finish line. Bummer!

It’s not like I totally avoid hills altogether – actually I’d go as far as to say that I enjoy doing Tabata hill sprints on the treadmill (is that weird?!). Deep down though, I know that it isn’t enough. Don’t get me wrong, Tabata hill sprints make for an extremely sweaty workout and I will definitely continue to do them. But it’s just not the same as having to climb a ‘never ending’ hill in the middle of a 10k race.

With only 10 days til Race Day, this morning Gym Buddy and I figured it might be a good idea to pull our heads out of the sand and drag ourselves up some hills.

The changing of clocks has made the mornings dark again so getting up has been a struggle. To make matters worse, it is still bitterly cold and windy out. Had I had sensed even the teeniest tiniest droplet of rain, I think I would have been back under the duvet in a flash!

With our brains still in bed (it was 06:50AM !) we couldn’t come up with a decent 10k route which incorporated some hills, so instead we did a couple of loops around a shorter route. The main hill is a particularly long and nasty one. The sort where the peak seems to be an ever moving target, like trying to find the end of a rainbow. The gradient eases but never seems to level off entirely. And worst of all, when you do finally get to the top it doesn’t offer the relief of an instant downhill.

We conquered it twice despite a bit of resistance from my usually patient left knee. However, I can’t exactly say that we had as much fun as usual. Instead of constant chatter and laughter along the way, all I could hear was some poor soul gasping for breath…Oh, that was me.

Chocolate & Raspberry Porridge

Chocolate & Raspberry Porridge

When I arrived home , my skin was stinging an attractive shade of red from the cold. So I warmed up with a tasty bowl of Chocolate & Raspberry porridge. Note to self, next time – add more chocolate!

Enough moaning, it’s time to man up. Next week the aim is to complete 3 loops.

Runners out there – do hills ever get any easier?

Me Vs. Easter

My scales and I are not on speaking terms this morning and I blame Jesus and his Lindt bunny disciples.

I also blame Hot Cross buns. And Wine. And the late night burger and chips I ate. And the bacon and egg baguette I needed.  And creme eggs. And the cheese scones I baked.

OK so it’s pretty obvious who’s really to blame…

Me.

It all started so well, Friday morning Gym Buddy and I hit the gym at 08:00 for a 90 minute full body work out. I arrived home ravenous (see previous post about my extraordinary post workout hunger!) and that is when the halo started slipping. I think it finally came crashing down when I was polishing off a burger and chips at 01:00 AM after a boozy girls night out.

When I woke up on Easter Sunday I sealed the deal by eating an entire Lindt Gold Bunny for breakfast. Yep, you read that right.

Ironic really that this supposedly Holy holiday seems to encourage  gluttony these days – oh wait, maybe it’s just me?! (Tell me it’s not just me?!)

This morning I dragged my bloated body out of bed to the gym for this workout:

  • Burpees (30 seconds)
  • Deadlifts x 8 (30kg)
  • Shoulder Press x 8 (8kg Dumbell in each hand)
  • Sumo Squats x 8 (8kg Kettle Bells in each hand, held in front)
  • Bent Over Rows x 8 (20kg)
  • Press Ups x 10

Repeat 6 times. 

  • Plank on the Swiss Ball (rolling ball in and out)
  • Crunches on the Bosu x 15
  • Side Plank (30 secs each side)

Repeat 3 times.

It’s slow going, but I am back on track and hope to be able to report that my scales have forgiven me come the end of the week….

In the meantime, someone PLEASE ease my guilt a little by telling me about your overindulgence’s this Bank Holiday weekend!

Me Vs. Post Workout Hunger

My appetite after running is incredible.

Take this morning for instance.

Before leaving the house, I drank a pint of water and ate one of the homemade Hot Cross Buns I had made the night before (another post to come on those!) I knew as I was eating it that it was a bit of a mistake and that I should only eat half, but I don’t really do the whole ‘save half for later’ thing – I salute those who can manage this, but I am more of a ‘have one now…and then have another one later too’  kind of girl. That my friends is why I will never be a skinny minny.

Anyway, I then ran 6.5 miles as scheduled with Gym Buddy. It was a windy run again (no, still not that sort of wind, even after the hot cross bun) which made it tough, but the sun was shining so we kept our chins up.

On returning from my run, I then had my real breakfast which was a banana, oats, yoghurt and berries (the hot cross bun was more of an accidental breakfast, so doesn’t count alright?) and some more water. Pretty substantial right? A good blend of carbs, protein and fruit – just what my body needs post run.

By 10:00AM, despite 2 cups of coffee, my stomach was rumbling! What is that all about??

Fortunately for my belly, one kind soul at the office had brought in some homemade Tiffin. Which as it happens, tastes suspiciously like Rocky Road. Anyone know the difference?! Either way, it was yummy.

So belly was satisfied for a little longer. But it came at a price. Before 10:30AM I had almost certainly consumed more calories than I burnt running this morning.

There’s still a lot of hours left in the day to eat my way through!

I’m not suggesting for a second that I would have been better off staying in bed this morning and therefore having a slightly smaller appetite. I’d rather gain all the fantastic health benefits of exercise and eat like a horse any day.

I just can’t help but think it’s all a little bit unfair that my appetite seems to totally overestimate my calorific needs! I’ve been exercising regularly now for nearly 12 months, you’d think my body would have realised that I am definitely NOT going to let it starve.

So come on appetite, relax, chill out, I will continue to feed you cake – I promise!

Me Vs. Wind

Nope, not that sort.

Sorry to disappoint all the fans of toilet humour out there (I’m definitely one of them) – this post has absolutely nothing to do with flatulence (I thought I’d at least give you something there!)

Here in Blighty the weather at the moment is pants. Think snow, ice, grey skies, cold and arctic wind and you are almost there. Spring has definitely not sprung. Unfortunately, with only just over 2 weeks until I will be taking part in a 10k race, the training must go on.

Morning runs the past few weeks have taught me that even at -2 you will soon warm up after the initial ‘AAAHHHHHHHHH It’s FREEEEEEZING!!!!!!!’ panic. So, when I woke up feeling quite sprightly this morning (AMAZING for a Tuesday!)  I decided to brave the weather once more and go for a quick 5k run before my regular Circuit Training class  at 7:30AM.

What I was not prepared for, was the wind.

It felt like I was trying to run through a force field. A force field which  steals your breath with it’s icy fingers. A force field which whips through your leggings and makes your skin sting.

I battled on, clinging to the hope that when I turned around, I’d be able to comfortably ride the wind all the way back. Why then, when I changed direction to head back towards the gym, did the wind decide to change direction too?!!!

The only thing that kept me going was the realisation that if I stopped running, I would be colder still AND it would take me even longer to get back. So I carried on, as fast as my stinging legs would carry me.

So I guess what I’m getting at here is that, wind is a bitch. No doubt about it. But, on the bright side, once you are out there it is also one hell of a motivator to run home as hard as you can!

Stretching Success

limber_up

This morning I stuck to my pledge and after completing a quick 30 minute workout, I spent around 5 minutes stretching out all of the major muscle groups.

OK, so it is only day one, but I am pretty pleased with myself!

And I must confess, that it really wasn’t as terrible as I thought it would be. Although, I still can’t shake that ‘wimpy’ feeling.

The question in my mind now is:

“Does it really work?” Or should I say…

“To what extent does post workout stretching prevent DOMS?”

First things first, here’s the workout I did this morning (if you read my post about Tuesday’s last week then you’ll know that it doesn’t involve too much ‘moving’) :

  • 10 x Assisted Pull Ups
  • 25 x Press Ups
  • 10 x Sumo Squats (Holding 24kg Dumbell)
  • 1 Minute Plank
  • 10 Squats (60kg on Smith Machine)

REPEAT the above x 3

  • 10 x Clean and Push Press (with 8kg kettle bell in each hand)
  • 12 x Full Kettle Bell Swing (with 12kg kettle bell)
  • 30 Second Side plank on each side (lowering and lifting hips)
  • 30 Second Plank on the Swiss Ball (rolling ball in and out)

REPEAT the above x 3

Previous experience tells me that both pull ups and 60kg squats usually leave me with a pretty serious case of DOMS around 48 hours later. Which means that I am scheduled for tightness and pain on Thursday morning…. so, the exact same time that I am scheduled to run another 10k then.

But since I stretched immediately after the workout, the affects should at least be reduced, right??

I’ll let you know on Thursday….

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from some of you about your thoughts and experiences with stretching and DOMS!

Me Vs. Stretching

I hate stretching.

I also hate how terribly inflexible I am.

Yep, I can see the correlation there.

There are only two occasions when I actually stretch:

  1. When I am forced to ie. in a group exercise class.
  2. When it is already too late. ie. when I wake up the day after a tough workout and discover that I can’t sit on the toilet without wincing.

I’ve always envied the yoga babe / dancer types who can bend their slender limbs every which way with grace and ease. I on the other hand, can barely touch my toes. I wish that was an exaggeration, but it’s not. Not only that, any attempts at deep stretches usually leave me not so gracefully grunting and grimacing.

I’m sure that my flexibility, like any other area of fitness, could be improved if I were just to put the training in. So why don’t I?

Well, there are a few reasons:

  1. I’m bad at it (I realise this is a stupid reason, but I’m sure some of you will be able to relate to the fact that doing things you are no good at is not fun!)
  2. It hurts.
  3. It’s boring.
  4. It takes too long (30 seconds for each stretch, psshhhhh!)
  5. I just don’t like it, alright?!

So why do I suddenly feel like this needs to change?

Last week, after I completed the workout mentioned here, my gym buddy warned me that I should stretch afterwards. Do you know what I said?

“Pah, stretching is for wimps. I never stretch, I’ll be fine.”

I wasn’t fine. Turns out, 100 dead lifts in one session really gets those hamstrings screaming.

Thursday morning when we met for our 10k run, I was struggling, whilst she smiled the whole way.

It wasn’t just the hamstrings in the end either, other little niggles were beginning to appear here and there.  Running 6 miles in the rain at 07:00 is bad enough already without tight hamstrings, a dodgy ankle and a twinge in your knee. After 53 minutes of listening to me moaning, Gym Buddy informed me that all the little aches and pains I was experiencing were probably connected to the fact that my leg muscles are too tight. Makes sense really!

I hate the thought of  getting an injury, especially as we all know that on the days when you can’t run, the sun shines brightly and there is a gentle breeze in the air (also known as my PERFECT running conditions!)

All of this got me thinking, maybe stretching isn’t just for wimps after all…

So here is my pledge:

  1. I will make time to stretch thoroughly after every workout.
  2. I will use the evil foam roller after every run.
  3. I will never say that stretching is just for wimps ever again. Promise.

I won’t blame you if you don’t believe me, taking into account my most recent promise and subsequent failure. But trying and failing is better than never trying at all!