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?


Stretching Success


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. Tuesdays

In my book, Tuesday’s are the worst day of the week.

Sure, Mondays aren’t exactly ideal (especially if you’ve had a heavy weekend) but they do have their perks. The way I see it, the week goes something like this:

Monday – A fresh start to the week. The perfect day to start a new project or get back on track with an existing one. Everyone at work is chattering about what they got up to at the weekend. Monday’s at work always seem to whoosh by.

Wednesday – The half way mark. About now, people start to plan things for the next weekend.

Thursday – The day before Friday. Once you have got yourself to work, you can tell yourself that you only have to get up just once more. Hooray!

Friday – Well, it’s Friday! Everyone seems to be in a good mood, you may have fun plans for the evening, or just be looking forward to a night on the sofa with [insert desired vice here.]

Then we are left with Tuesdays. What happens on a Tuesday? Nothing. Nada.  The past weekend is long gone, the next weekend is still an eternity away. Everyone is a bit grumpy, including ME.

When I arrive at the gym on a Tuesday morning, I pretty much always say the same, totally nonsensical thing to my gym buddy….

” Lets do something where we don’t have to move too much.”

By this I mean no ski jumps, no running, no squat thrusts and NO burpees. Usually, I like to reserve Tuesday’s for strength training. Slow (but painful!) movements seem to work the best.

Today however, I had to do a little more moving than I’d usually like. My gym buddy had heard about a workout challenge that people at our gym had been attempting to do within 30 minutes. Here it is in case anyone wants to give it a go!

  • 800m Rowing
  • 50 Press Ups
  • 50 Sit Ups
  • 50 Squats
  • 20 Bent Over Rows
  • 800m Rowing
  • 50 Dead lift into Clean and Push Press
  • 50 Dead lifts
  • 50 Shoulder Presses
  • 800m Rowing

I managed it 27 minutes and 24 seconds.

For about 10 minutes I was able to enjoy my post workout rush. Then I remembered that it was Tuesday and I still had to run home and wash my hair before work (you don’t know this yet, but I have a lot of hair!) That’s when in true Tuesday style, it all started to go wrong. My knee randomly started hurting so I was forced to walk home, leaving me even less time. I limped through the door and thought I’d whip up a quick protein shake for breakfast. Somehow, despite the lid being on, my shake ended up all over the worktop!! I salvaged enough for a small glass then hopped upstairs for a shower. In my haste to lather my hair up as speedily as possible, I knocked the entire shelf of shampoos, shower gels (and most worryingly my razor!) down onto my head. I rushed out of the house with slightly damp (if you’re in the UK today then you understand that this is made worse by how ridiculously cold it is!!!!) totally frizzy hair and no make up and made it to work just 1 minute late. Sat down at my desk to tuck into an orange…dropped it on the floor, bent down to pick it up and hit my head on my desk.

For all the reasons above, I am now going to DEMOLISH the last Carrot Cupcake from this weekend’s bake off… (told you my cake coma wouldn’t last long didn’t I?!)

How is your Tuesday going? What is your worst day of the week?

Me Vs. Running

After many years of begrudgingly commuting around 90 minutes (morning and night) to work each day, last April, my prayers were finally answered when I was offered a job 5 minutes drive away from my home. Hallelujah!!!

I’d always promised that if only it could be arranged for me to work closer to home, I’d use the extra time wisely, by going to the gym. Cross my heart and all of that! Once I started my new job, I desperately feared that if I didn’t stay true to my word, some higher force might seek vengeance and I would be once again be forced to commute…I thought it best to keep my promise just in case! So instead of spending an extra 90 minutes curled under the duvet hitting the snooze button (tempting though it is!) I began a regular exercise regime.

Back when I was a fit and lively teenager I dabbled with what at the time seemed like “long distance running” (ahem, 800m and 1500m) so running seemed like a good place to start now that I was serious about getting fit again.

I signed up for a 5k race and once I had completed that, went on to sign up for a 10k and a half marathon. As a pretty uncompetitive newbie, I didn’t set myself any serious time aims, but merely aimed to complete the distance and was chuffed when I succeeded.

I hung up my running shoes for the winter, in favour of workouts somewhere warm and dry. Having never been a fan of the treadmill (boring!!!) I instead spent most of my gym time in group classes such as Circuit Training, X-Biking, Body Pump and Zumba.

In fact, aside from running the half a mile or so each way to the gym every session, the only running I have completed since November 2012 is in the form of sprint intervals. On Saturday’s I usually hit the treadmill for 10-15 mins of short but intense sprint intervals using the Tabata method. (20seconds on, 10 seconds rest – you can read more about that here)

Last week, my gym buddy and I signed up for a 10k Race on the 14th April 2013. Since the days are now much longer and the weather seems to have brightened slightly, I figured I should probably start training!

I laced up my shoes and headed out the door, fully expecting to struggle my way through 3 miles and come home totally disheartened that I was back to stage one again. You can’t imagine my  shock when I arrived home to discover that I had beaten last years PB. In fact, I hadn’t just beaten it, I had smashed it!

Thinking it too good to be true, I began wondering whether my MapMyRun App had miscalculated. I headed out hesitantly this morning to give it another go. This time I comfortably completed 4 miles in my best ever time!

So I think it’s safe to say, that a combination of strength training and sprint training has greatly improve my running!

Now we get to the important part… what to do with all those extra calories (yes, I love to over-estimate my calorie burn) on a Sunday?! Well, since you ask, a delicious Beef Roast with yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, cabbage, carrots, gravy (and enough horseradish sauce to clear my sinuses for the week!) courtesy of The Man’s parents.

I’m sure you have already guessed that I gleefully indulged in pudding too, and not that it needs an excuse…but it’s just not Sunday without pudding. End of. So what better way to finish to off than with a bowl of homemade apple and berry crumble with ice cream. Yum!