Weekly training recap: Mon 8th – Sun 14th Aug

We have done a lot of exercise this week friends! So much so that I am totally wiped out this evening. I have made sandwiches for lunch tomorrow, put out the bins, put the washing on, made dinner and now I am sitting on the sofa and I am not moving a muscle until bedtime. If there is anything I have forgotten to do I may cry!!! I am totally knackered.

Monday:

Gym session:

  • 1.5 miles on the stationary bike at level 3 resistance (8 minutes)
  • 10 minute session on the cross trainer
  • Various weight machines. 5 reps per machine with various weights from 10kg – 25kg (this was part of our induction)
  • 2 miles on the sitting bike at level 1 resistance (10 minutes)

Tuesday:

Didn’t run today because my knee was hurting from the gym yesterday.

Wednesday:

Knee still playing up so decided to just run at the gym on Thurs.

Thursday:

Treadmill run: 1.5 miles with an average pace of 12:14 per mile. 2 x reps of 6 on the shoulder press and chest press. Stretching.

Friday:

Rest day

Saturday:

Gym session:

  • 12 minute brisk walk at 3.5mph (treadmill elevation level 5)
  • 2000 meter row. Weight level 6. This took just under 16 mins
  • 5 minutes cross trainer effort level 5
  • 8 minutes on hand bike at resistance level 5
  • Shoulder press: 1 rep of 16 then 3 reps of 10 (5kg)
  • Lateral pulldown machine: 4 reps of 16 (5kg)
  • 3 x 30 second planks
  • flutter kicks
  • 4 minute warm down on sitting bike.

Sunday:

Ran 3 miles! This was a horribly difficult run. It’s not sunny here but it is so so humid! I didn’t realise quite how bad it was until we had started. I managed to run the entire thing though (just) average pace was 12:17 per mile. I’m not surprised by this because I was still achy from yesterday. I’m really proud of myself for running the entire thing though, as I wanted to give up so many times. Gideon did really well, he ran the three miles in under 30 minutes! woop!

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Three runs scheduled for next week – 2 x 2 milers and 1 x 3.5 miler – along with some time in the gym and possibly a swim. But a well-earned rest day tomorrow to help me feel a little more alive again!

 

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Gym training plan.

I don’t normally blog twice in one day butttttttt I really want to tell you about my gym session today!

Today we sat down with the trainer at the gym and he wrote us each out a personalised training plan! This training plan KICKED MY BUTT.

We explained that we do a lot of running, and that we want to use the gym for other things. Gideon explained that he wants to use the gym to lose a bit of weight and also improve his all round fitness ready for his longer term triathlon plan. I explained that I would like to strengthen my upper body (because I have piddly weakling arms), so my arms, shoulders and also tone up my abs and (hopefully) loose my love handles!

The gym instructor wrote us each a personalised plan to do in our gym sessions each week. It’s supposed to take roughly an hour. Here is my plan:-

  • Treadmill to warm up. Elevation level 5. Walk at a brisk pace (3.5mph) for 12 minutes.
  • 2000m on the rowing machine. Level 6 difficulty.
  • 4 minutes forward cycling on the hand bike at level 5 resistance.
  • 4 minutes backward cycling on the hand bike at level 5 resistance.
  • 15 minutes on the cross trainer – level 5
  • 4 reps of 16 on the shoulder press with 5kg weight to begin with
  • 4 reps of 16 on the lateral pulldown machine with 10-15kg weight to begin with
  • 3 30 second planks
  • 3 reps of 30 flutter kicks
  • 8 minute cool down on the sitting bike.

Gideon’s is different to mine (being personalised and all) so after our plans had been written out we parted ways to our respective machines and got on with it.

It was TOUGH.

The treadmill warm up was fine. Walking at a brisk pace is fine for me, I walk ridiculously fast in normal life. I burned about 80 calories doing this though according to the machine which I thought was pretty great.

Then it was onto the rowing. I really like the rowing machine. It took me just under 16 minutes to row 2000 meters. Not sure if thats good or not (I doubt it). I wasn’t trying too hard in terms of speed, I was focusing on getting my form right, because the hardest part about the rowing machine for me isn’t the actual weight/resistance, its sitting upright in a comfortable position for 16 minutes!

Then onto the handbike. If you haven’t seen one of these its a bit bizarre, you do a cycle motion basically but with your arms. This turns a sort of propeller type thing which is in water and you can adjust the resistance of it. The forward cycling was fairly easy,  but I found the backward cycling really hard. I’m not sure actually if there was a problem with my machine, because it didn’t stay consistent, the resistance got harder and harder until it ground to a halt. This is the first time i’ve ever done a backwards motion on it so I don’t know if that is supposed to happen or not.

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This is the hand bike. Cycling for your arms!

Then onto the cross trainer. Here is where I slipped up a little. I only managed 5 minutes on the cross trainer. I mentioned earlier in the week that my knee had been giving me trouble, well the cross trainer really annoyed it, so I cut it short and moved onto the weights.

The shoulder press: Ow. OW OW OW OW OW!!!!! I did not think it would be that hard! Maybe it was because i’d already been rowing for ages and hand cycling etc. but getting 16 reps of 5kg on the shoulder press was tough. I managed the first 16. Just. But then had to give up after 10 on the other goes. Hopefully if I keep doing it i’ll see some improvement.

Then 4 reps of 16 on the lateral pull down. I kept the weight to 5kg instead of the suggested 10-15 because I found the shoulder press so hard, but I won’t do that again because it was much much easier than the shoulder press.

Then, for the plank! I told the trainer I didn’t think I’d be able to do three 30 second planks. He said just to do as long as I could. I didn’t have a timer so I had to count to 30 in my head, so I may have been a bit faster I don’t know, but I managed to count to 30 on every single one and I’m pretty proud of that. I didn’t think I had that in me, especially after all the rowing/cycling/weight lifting.

Then finally it was the flutter kicks. I’d never done these before. The trainer demonstrated it. It looks like the below:

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I figured that would be really easy, boy was I wrong! This was so hard, I really really felt the stretch in my lower abdomen, and I didn’t get anywhere near 30 on each rep before having to give up.

Then it was just a cool down cycle and done.

I left the gym feeling pretty pleased with myself, but I still think that I feel much more knackered after running than I ever seem to after the gym. I don’t know if that means I should push more?

4 hours-ish later, I can definitely feel the work in my shoulders and arms. They ache a lot. Lifting things is hard. It’s the kind of ache I get after I’ve been trimming the hedges in the garden all afternoon, only worse. But no pain no gain I guess.

We have done a fair bit of gym work this week, and I’m very interested to find out how that impacts our 3 mile run tomorrow. I’m still really enjoying the gym though, I think the variety is good. Just running was getting a bit monotonous. We have been told to follow our plan for the next two weeks and then meet with the trainer again to review it, so this is just the beginning. Hopefully in time we will be able to find out what really works for us!

 

 

Exploring the Gym

Yesterday Gideon and I had our induction at the gym. I’ve always been a bit ‘ugh’ when it comes to gym inductions. I had one at college when I used the gym then and so I therefore feel that I know all there is to know about the gym. Obviously this is not the case! It’s been like 10 years since college, technology has moved on a little even if the basic idea is the same.

I actually found the induction session really helpful – I say session – it’s actually going to be two sessions as the instructor only showed us half the equipment and then booked us an appointment to come back on Thursday! I don’t really want to just stick to the treadmill and the other cardio machines, I want to be able to use the weights and weight machines to do strength training, but they can (and do) look very intimidating to begin with.

Having the instructor go through some of the weight machines with us was super helpful. She showed us the proper posture for each machine so as to lessen the chances of injury. She explained the weights to us. The lowest weight is 5kg. I was expecting it to then go up to 10kg, but it actually jumps straight up to 15kg! Wouldn’t have known that if it weren’t for the induction and probably would have been sufficiently shocked when it was more than twice as heavy, which might have put me off wanting to keep doing it!

As it happens, I did some reps on each machine and was sufficiently surprised by the amount I could already lift. 25kg on some of the machines was manageable. I know that’s not a lot to most, but I have serious chicken arms! There is like no muscle to them whatsoever! So I was pleasantly surprised at myself!

We also did a bit on the exercise bikes (I only biked 3 miles in total across two different bikes but it was still fun) and spent some time on the cross trainer. I really enjoyed the session and it’s got me excited to go back Thursday and test out the rest of the kit.

The only problem is that I seem to have woken up this morning with a rather weird feeling in my right knee. I’m hoping it’s just ache from using it in a different way (from the cycling and lifting etc, as opposed to the running its used to), but it feels a little agitated, almost like it needs to click. Hmmmm. I’ve taken today off running and will run tomorrow instead, so I’m hoping that the extra days rest will fix it and it will just be general post workout aches and pains rather than anything more sinister.

How NOT to train for a half marathon!

So on Monday we will start 10 weeks of training towards our second half marathon; the Swansea half marathon! I’m looking forward to training for Swansea. It should be easier than last time round, what with it being better weather and light in the evenings and just nicer. But it has got me thinking, what would I like to do differently this time around?

Quite a lot actually.

Our training for the Cardiff half marathon was flakey at best – thankfully we went into it with quite a good base fitness from our training for Wine and Dine and ultimately I think that’s what saw us through relatively well. This time however, I’d like to improve on my performance and if that’s going to happen then I’m going to need to take this training cycle a bit more seriously than the last one. So I’m writing this post – How NOT to train for a half marathon – to remind myself NOT TO DO ALL THESE THINGS during the next 10 weeks. And hopefully, if I start to struggle and things start to slip, I can look back on this post and remind myself that if I want to improve I need to NOT do the following:

  1. Skip the maintenance runs – We did a lot of this in the last training cycle. It was excuse after excuse really. It’s raining. It’s dark. I’m tired. It’s cold. If I want to improve my time I NEED to keep up with the mid-week maintenance runs. I’ve tried to spice them up this time too, with tempo run’s and hill repeats! Hopefully this variation will encourage me to do them and not put them off – but time will tell!
  2. Increase the mileage quickly – We had a few bad long run’s during training for Cardiff, and then instead of adjusting the training plan a bit, we tended to just carry on. This probably wasn’t sensible and I managed to injure myself – probably from increasing the mileage too quickly if I’m honest. This time round we’ll go up about a mile per week – with a few weeks where we go back down in between. Hopefully as well as seeming achievable as the mileage is only slightly increased week by week, this will prevent injury from extreme increases in mileage.
  3. Don’t replenish the electrolytes – About an hour and a half to two hours after each of our long run’s I would get a headache. This seemed to happen after every long run without fail and it was incredibly irritating because it would linger on for the whole day. It was only towards the very end of training that I realised perhaps this was due to the fact that I wasn’t replenishing my electrolytes after running. I was taking in calories, and I was rehydrating with water, but perhaps I needed some kind of electrolyte drink as well. Sure enough, the first time I drank a poweraid after a long run I had no headache, and every time since has been the same. I now have a stash of poweraid’s in the fridge ready for this training cycle!
  4. Eat greasy dinners – I distinctly remember some delicious lunches like sausage butties and pizza, followed by some pretty horrific runs! This time around I’m going to really try and think about what I’m eating prior to running. If it’s full of grease, it can wait till after!
  5. Stay indoors during adverse weather – As Cardiff has taught me – you can’t control the weather on race day. Nor can you control the weather in training, but you can control your attitude towards it. I really HATE training in the rain and the cold, but I managed to run a half marathon in it without dying, so I can’t use weather as an excuse not to train! This time, i’m going to try and get out whatever the weather!
  6. Don’t do any cross training – I did like zero cross training in the last training cycle, and ultimately my knee gave up the ghost and decided it didnt want to run anymore!! Now I don’t know for sure if this was in part due to a lack of muscle strength – but doing some cross training probably couldn’t have hurt, and may have even helped prevent the knee’s sudden hissy fit!
  7. Don’t stretch after running – Oh yeah… stretching. That’s important. Did I do any? We’ll if you count 30 seconds doing hamstring stretches that they teach you in school and that your probably doing wrong then sure! But real stretching, and foam rolling? Nope – I only learnt that lesson after I got injured! This time round I’m going to try to make sure to do a good stretching session after every run – especially the long ones!

So those are my 7 tips of how NOT to train for a half marathon! I’ll try NOT to follow them during this training cycle! Wish me luck!

Weekly training recap: Mon 4th April – Sun 10th April

This weeks weekly training recap recap’s a week where there has been nothing to train for! And do you know what? It’s been kinda nice, not having to worry about getting out to run and then feeling guilty if you didn’t.

I’m not saying that I don’t like having a training plan, because I do, and I don’t think I could prepare for a race without one. It’s nice to have a break though. I’ve only ran a tiny bit this week, but I’ve done other things and that’s been good too! I don’t feel bad for just running the once, because my training plan for the Swansea half hasn’t started yet, so there’s nothing to worry about. Plus with my knee still twinging, it’s probably best to take it easy until I know if there’s a problem.

Monday:

Gideon ran a 5k as he was away on a training course. He completed this in 32 minutes and 22 seconds. I had a rest day.

Tuesday:

I ran 1.08 miles with an average pace of 11:13 per mile. My knee was still a bit twingey  whilst running. The earliest appointment for the doctors I could get is the 20th, so if it hasn’t fixed itself by then i’ll be seeking a professionals opinion on what to do!

Wednesday:

I did a workout DVD with friends. The basic idea is it’s 12 rounds of 3 minutes with a small break in between. Each round is slightly different, so some are cardio, some are strength, some are stretching, some work your legs, some work your abs etc. It’s actually pretty hard work and I always feel it the next day. I’m hoping the squatting and strengthening will strengthen my legs up and maybe help my knee. My knee doesn’t hurt when I do the workouts, only when I run which is annoying!

Thursday:

Rest day

Friday:

Rest day

Saturday:

Walked approximately 3 miles along the seafront. It was a lovely day!

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Not my bike – I don’t do bikes!

Sunday:

Rest day

So that’s it basically – I’ve done a tiny bit of running, some cross training and some walking. I’ve also spent some time this week devising a training plan for the Swansea half marathon, as proper training has to start again some time! The plan below is for 10 weeks and I created it myself, but hopefully we’ll be able to stick to it. I’ve put in some hill work as well to hopefully strengthen and speed us up, but I’ll have to see how the knee is once we get to the weeks with hill work and see if it’s a good idea.

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The training plan doesn’t start for another week, so we’ll take it easy again this week and just run when we feel like it, but hopefully a little bit more than last week, so that it won’t be a complete shock to the system when the ‘real’ training starts again!

 

A bit of a stretch!

So since my knee had a ‘moment’ at the weekend I’ve spent many hours frantically searching the internet (as you do when you get injured 2 weeks before your first half marathon) for appropriate stretches that could help to strengthen the muscles in my thighs and glutes. Apparently when these muscles are weak -so the internet tells me – it can cause/contribute to knee pain.

I thought i’d share the stretches i’ve found with you all. I’ve no idea if they are helping, or if they will help, but I figure at this point if it might help its probably worth trying. I’ve also read time and time again that cross training and strengthening exercise can benefit your running (precisely to help prevent you getting injured) but I could never be bothered before. Well now i’ve had a scare i’m thinking I might try a little harder to incorporate the stretching and cross-training into my routine, you know “just incase”.

This is the first stretch i’ve been doing. The side lying leg lift. I’m currently doing 20 reps of this one which should help strengthen my glutes:

Then there is this lovely ‘clam shell’ stretch. I’m sure I look like a complete dufus doing it – but I can definitely feel the pull on this one. Again i’m doing 20 reps of these a day at the moment:

This particular stretch was recommended by my physio friend at work. It should help stretch/strengthen my IT band muscles. I try to hold it for about 20 seconds:

Then finally – this one, which is by far the worst! I can only do about 5 reps of this at the moment, And my right leg (the injured one) is far more shakey than my left leg, so hopefully that will improve with time.

Other than these stretches i’ve been resting since Saturday and icing my knee a couple of times a day. There was a lingering pain on Monday, mostly when walking down slopes or stairs, but since yesterday that seems to have disappeared. So i’m planning a very short jog around the neighbourhood this evening just to see how it’s feeling. Any pain and i’ll be stopping and walking immediately.

Do you have any regular stretches or strengthening exercises you build into your training regime? Have you felt an improvement in your running from adding regular strengthening exercises? I’d love to know in the comments. 

 

 

 

Weekly training recap: Mon 7th March – Sun 13th March

So this isn’t going to be much of a training recap. Not a lot of training has happened this week really. We skipped both the midweek run’s – no excuses, just wasn’t feeling it at the time. And i’ve already been through yesterday’s running related injury.

Honestly – skipping the weekly run’s this week was stupid, but perhaps i’ll learn from my mistakes in the future.

Monday:

Rest day

Tuesday:

Skipped maintenance run

Wednesday:

Did Jillian Michaels 30 day shred workout 1. It was hard – I haven’t done this one for a while (i’m well out of the habit) and I was wiped by the end of it. Hopefully I can build up some strength again by making this a weekly thing (though possibly not till my knee feels better).

Thursday:

Skipped ANOTHER maintenance run.

Friday:

Rest day

Saturday:

Ran 8.81 miles using run/walk intervals of 3 minutes running and 1 minute walking. Average pace 13 minutes per mile. This is a slow average because the last mile kinda fell to pieces due to the injured knee as was mostly walked. Most of the ‘good’ miles were in the 11-12 minute range.

Sunday:

Went for a walk today – it was about 2 miles in total. We walked a mile down hill to Brandy Cove, stopped to enjoy the view and then walked back up again. It feels like spring has arrived today! It’s beautiful!

The downhill definitely aggravated my knee a bit. I could feel the pulling sensation that i’d had yesterday, so i’m definitely not going to start running on it yet. Uphill was fine, it’s definitely a downhill problem, which is so annoying because I love downhill! I’ll keep icing it for now.

So I really have no idea how next weeks training is going to look. It’s taper time what with the Cardiff World Half Marathon in 2 weeks, so I shouldn’t be doing much distance, but I really have no idea if i’ll be able to do anything at all.

My main focus for the start of the week is going to be on resting and stretching. I’ve found a lot of stretches online that are helpful for knee pain, and i’m going to ask my physio friend at work if he has any suggestions. I might try some light yoga as well, but the second any exercise aggravates it and I feel pain i’m stopping. If all things go well and I don’t get any pain I may try a light run towards the end of the week – i’ll play it by feel.

The goal is to just be well enough by race day to be able to finish. If it means I don’t run at all until then then so be it. I hope that’s not the case as i’ll be a nervous mess, but if rest is what is needed then that’s what i’ll do.