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?

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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!