Tag Archives: gym

Running 5k (away from peanut butter!)

Since coming back from holiday in April half a stone heavier, (all that lovely American food was worth it!), my fitness regime has taken a bit of a nosedive. I haven’t had the desire to get back on the Weight Watchers bandwagon yet, so I’ve been relying on sporadic gym visits to get me back on track.

Peanut butter on toastAlas, I’m only human, and I’m not working out enough to combat the speed I can eat peanut butter on toast! To spur me on, I’ve signed up again this year for the St Albans Race for Life. The thought of running a 5k where I MUST BEAT last year’s time, is enough pressure to get my trainers back on!

Being a great fan of ‘The Biggest Loser USA’ and MTV’s ‘I Used To Be Fat’, I’m mortified to see people weighing twice as much as I do, running 5K in half the time it takes me! Ok, so these people work out for 6 hours every day with a personal trainer by their side but even so, I was feeling pretty inadequate.

For all you treadmill junkies out there, I usually run on a 7.2km speed and build up slowly to 8.5km by the end. If I complete the 5k (because sometimes I haven’t got the stamina to run more than 3k), it takes around 45 minutes. To up the ante, my speed is now 8.5km for most of the run with a quick sprint right at the end, in desperation to get finished! This takes about 35 minutes.

I’m never going to break any Olympic speed records at this rate, but as long as I can run the whole way AND beat last year’s time, it will be a great achievement for me! Why not donate the cost of one cup of coffee to a great cause? £2.50 can help to make a world of difference in cancer research… If you’d like to sponsor me, follow this link http://www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/charlottemoore3103

Thanks to boozebagbettygoestorehab.blogspot.com for the image!

How to experience a completely legal high…

OMG (and I never say that!) but somehow, I managed to run 5k all in one go!

It was only on Friday just gone, that I had celebrated achieving a private milestone of running for 28 minutes without stopping. As it was outside, I had no idea how far it was in distance but, the voice prompts of the Get Running app spurred me on to reach my brand new time goal. After a couple of rest days, I started the new 5k programme Nick the Trainer had given me and, he wanted me to run 4k all in one go. “But how?” was my question when he presented the challenge, I had never run more than 3.2k in one go before and, was always ready to die by the end. He advised me to run at a slower pace than usual and walk some of it if needed, just to get to the end of the distance. So with this in mind, instead of my usual 7.6km per hour treadmill speed, I went down to 6.6km per hour and plugged my headphones into an old episode of Friends…

As I approached 28 minutes, I couldn’t believe I still felt comfortable compared to that same time on Friday’s run (and believe me, I run even more slowly outside!) I sensed a bubble of excitement inside me that I could run 4k in one go. Although looking red and sweaty on the outside, my breathing was steady and the DREADED STITCH had still not arrived at this point. I got to 4k and adrenaline kicked in, I still felt great and started to hallucinate that I had super running powers; it ticked over in my mind that mildly boasting about running 6 or 7k would be even more impressive. Luckily, the running fairy heard my crazy thoughts and brought me stright back into reality – the DREADED STITCH kicked in, I was breathing much heavier and, continually looked at the distance as I willed that 5k to greet me.

At 48 minutes, I had completed my first non-stop running 5k. I was so happy that I couldn’t stop grinning! I rushed over to tell Nick the Trainer and, he was able to confirm in his official trainer capacity, that the daft look on my face and, inability to stop hopping around on the spot meant I was experiencing a true runner’s high…

New trainers make you run faster…

… or at least that’s what I always thought when I was a kid! Since faithfully training for my 5k run over the past few months, I felt I could justify a new pair as I’ve managed to break through the ‘just a running phase’ barrier. Nick the Trainer recommended Sweatshop, so Other Half and I drove over to the Hatfield branch to see what was available. We were welcomed by Sue the Manager who has the most incredible trainer knowledge ever! We both had our running gate assessed (for free), by jogging on the instore treadmill with a video camera at our feet, recording our every step. The results showed that Other Half had a normal to mild over-pronation which meant he required overall support in his shoe. I, on the other hand, have low arches and this caused me to show up as a massive over-pronator – this means I roll my feet in as I run. Now, before you start thinking I’m a bit of a weirdo, most people are also over-pronators to some degree, so this actually makes me ‘normal’!  

As a pair, we presented quite a challenge when it came to sizes – Other Half is a 7 (most men’s start at an 8), I’m an 8 1/2 (most girl’s stop at an 8), so we expected choice to be limited, however, Sue the Manager was more than happy to order in multiple pairs in our specified sizes. We both tried on many pairs (even if the size wasn’t quite right) to gauge the difference between gel support (like Asics) and air support (like Nike). Both work well, it simply came down to preference once you have the shoe on (gel supports can sometimes feel more prominent inside of the shoe). We ran on the treadmill to see which styles gave the best support and, corrected my over- pronation. It is amazing how much difference a pair of well supported trainers makes to your running style! Other Half settled on a pair of Nike+ that were in his size, and I was stuck between a pair of Mizuna and Nike+, both of which made me run properly and were top in my style stakes. Sue the Manager said she would order them in for me and give me a call when they arrived.  

10 days later, I went back to the shop and tried each pair on, mentally
comparing the two and crossing off a checklist in my head;  

Most comfortable – both
Most stylish – both
Most supportive – both  

Hmm, I am rubbish at making decisions and missed the wise words of Other Half, who always thinks of something that makes me sway one way or the other! I walked round and round the shop with 1 of each shoe on, trying to decide and failing miserably. Sue the Manager came to my rescue by suggesting I run on the treadmill to directly compare which felt more comfortable. It was a genius solution as after 10 seconds, I could tell that the Mizuna’s fit me like a glove. 

New Mizuna trainers!

New Mizuna trainers!

I paid £85 which I thought was a reasonable price for the trainers, you also get a 30 day guarantee so if you have any problems with them, they will help you find and swap to a better fitting pair.  

Best of all, the great advice came free from Sue the Manager. I don’t know if this sort of knowledge is standard in all Sweatshops, but her customer service, attention to detail and, willingness to help us find the perfect footwear for our needs was second to none – I can’t imagine shopping anywhere else for all my future running requirements.  

Yesterday, I did the first outdoor run in my new trainers. Despite sporting a freshly burst blister (from work shoes) on each foot, they didn’t rub at all. Imagine if you could jog comfortably in slippers; that would describe the effortless, cloud-like feeling on my Mizuna shod feet!

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20 minutes and counting…

Since identifying that I might actually enjoy running, I’ve started going to the gym without a dread of ‘I can’t do it’, more a wonderment of ‘Wow, this running lark is getting a little bit easier!’ After completing my cardio, I jumped onto the treadmill for the 20 minute rolling hills program (still thinking ‘eek, gradients!’) Annoyingly, I had forgotten to pack my headphones so could only watch the tv screens ahead of me and listen to the gym soundtrack which luckily, was pretty good. I did a steady 5 minute walking warm up and then started to jog.

The usual routine consists of me telling myself not to look down at the time/distance for as long as possible, because once I have, the countdown to finishing starts in my head and I seem to be checking every minute before I get to the end! This time, I decided to jog and only look at the time when I got to the point of tiredness and wished it would stop. Now, I can only guess but after about 10 minutes, I was still running on changing gradients and feeling comfortable, it was really strange as over the past 6 weeks, I could only identify with running for a few minutes and then really wanting to stop! I kept jogging and didn’t check the time because by now, I had made a pact with myself that I could get to the end of 20 mins without stopping.

Curiosity about the remaining time was killing me but, I refused to look as I needed to proudly tell Nick the Trainer and Other Half that I ran 20 minutes and it wasn’t a struggle. Suddenly, the treadmill slowed down and that was the end of my programme, woo hoo! I can genuinely say the first 18 minutes were comfortable and, it was only the last two where I could feel the familiar pain of the DREADED STITCH starting and I was breathing more heavily.

After many weeks of complaining to Nick the Trainer that I wasn’t making any progress, out of the blue, my running gene has finally kicked in! Next step; getting fitted with real runners shoes (cause I’m a proper runner! :o)

Pounding the pavements for the first time…

After singing the praises of Nick the Trainer to my Other Half, he decided to book in for a session to try to sort out his problematic running gait. It was during this time, Nick the Trainer asked him if I had been doing 5k training programme no 4 – running outside for 30-40 minutes. Other Half laughingly told him I had only done the outside running programme from inside of the gym on the treadmill and, proceeded to relay the conversation to me when he got home that night. Feeling slightly shamed at this truth and worried about letting Nick the Trainer down, I decided that Monday was the day to try it out…

I usually go to water aerobics at the gym on a Monday lunchtime, so I decided I would leave early and jog there instead of driving. The route is pretty flat, snaking through an industrial estate so I wasn’t battling rolling hills on my first go. I was however, carrying my gym bag full of swimming gear and despite the padded straps being on the tightest setting, it bounced around like a hyperactive child on popping candy! I quickly got hold of the excess loose straps and tied them together in front of me to make the bag more fitted to my body and, this really helped give some stability. I also used my Get Running app to give me verbal updates about how long I had been running for, I needed all the motivation I could get when I couldn’t see time or distance ticking away like I do on the treadmill.

Straight away I found that I run more slowly outside, it turns out that when I don’t have a rolling pace to keep up with, my own pace is even slower! This proved to be advantageous in the dreaded stitch arena – I didn’t get one for the whole run, yay! BUT, it made absolutely no difference to the time it took for my tomato coloured jogging face to arrive i.e. within about the first 5 minutes! Despite the goal being a 30 minute jog, I could only manage 20 minutes and thought it wise to sit down outside of the gym for 10 minutes, in an effort to reduce my face from scarlet to a more palatable fire engine red…

The pool had never been so welcome, despite a 45 minute session of water aerobics in front of me and a 40 minute walk home afterwards. As I started to sink down under the cool water, I swear a little bit of steam came off my rosy cheeks!

Final 5k training programmes…

So, feeling invigorated at the start of each new workout and shattered by the end, I tried out programme 3 on my 5k training schedule:

Treadmill  20 mins of hill intervals at a constant speed

Weighted Lunges  2 x 20

Swiss Ball Alternate Leg Raises  3 x 20

Seated Row Machine  3 x 12

V-sit Twists  3 x 20

Rower  400 metres

Hmmm, rolling hills on the treadmill?!? That’s seemed a bit adventurous when I am only just managing to jog any sort of distance on the flat, so I approached this with much trepidation. I only put the hill programme on level 1 which meant the incline didn’t rise any higher than 3.5 (3.5 what, I’m not sure but it was enough for me to cope with at this early stage!) I wish I could tell you it wasn’t as bad as I feared but, I found it tough and got the dreaded stitch earlier than usual. I managed to do a bit of mind of matter and spurred myself on to get to the end, even though I kept wondering why on earth I’m doing something that doesn’t come naturally to me at all…

Programme 4 is simply this;

Outdoor Running for a minimum of 30 mins, including 8-10 x 30 second sprints every few minutes, building up to being able to maintain a constant run for 40 mins.

So far, I have done this outdoor running programme once, in the gym! I know, I know, it appears as if I’m slightly crazy because;

a) Race for Life is outside in a park

b) The park is not completely flat (mores the pity!) and I need to be able to run up gentle gradients

But what can I tell you? I’m a beginner and taking all this running stuff 1 training day at a time, this includes only exposing my tomato coloured jogging face within the safe confines of the gym for now..!

Next 5k training session…

Having started and survived the first of my new 5 km training programmes, I thought it was time to give programme 2 a go:

Single-leg Press  2 x 10

Adductor Machine 2 x 10

Abductor Machine 2 x 10

Treadmill  3 x 1 km with 3 minutes recovery walk between sets

Ascent Trainer  20 mins on rolling hills programme

Swiss Ball Crunches 3 x max

Let me tell you now, single-leg presses are a lot harder than you would imagine! It seems logical that if you can push 40 kg with 2 legs, then you simply half this weight for single leg pushes. Maybe I am just a complete wimp but I couldn’t push more than 12 kg with 1 leg! The weight machines are programmed so that if the stack of weights touch, it assumes you are at the end of your set, not that you simply need a few seconds rest from the heavy weight counterbalanced by your foot! Therefore, I find I have to go slightly lighter to make sure I can do all 10 presses in the set.

The best thing about this programme is the 3 x 1 km runs with the 3 minute walk in between. Although it’s difficult, the short recovery walk meant I didn’t get a dreaded stitch, (ALWAYS the worst thing about running for me!) and I was able to run each kilometer without stopping. This is a huge confidence booster and makes me feel that running a full 5 km is actually in my future grasp..!

To 5k or not to 5k… that is the question!

I have been pondering this question for a few months now. There are a couple of local 5k runs for Cancer Research in June and July and, despite never having been a runner in my life, I am wondering if this might be the push I need to become one!

I keep mentioning it tentatively to people in the hope that if I say it out loud enough times, I will actually have to do it! I asked my trainer at the gym to devise a new fitness programme for me to incorporate 5k training and he gave it to me today. On average, I can run 2k before needing to stop and walk for a while and I don’t know if I can improve quick enough! He seems to think I’ll have enough time to build the stamina needed, but part of me is now worried about letting him down. You don’t have to run the whole way round the course but for me, if I was going to do it, that would be the whole point of entering. Of course, I also hope that the side effect of training will give me those toned abs and killer legs that would be oh so handy for the summer time..! :o)

So, should I take the plunge and give it a go? Or should I train for a good few months and try a run later in the year?

Getting back into the old (exercise) routine…

While waiting for the temping / permanent job of my dreams to come along, I thought it’s about time I got back on the fitness wagon! Last week, I’m sure the gym trainers nearly died of shock when I actually turned up to work out. I was close behind them as I logged into my workout programme and saw my last session had been on 11th October 2009 – hmm so I hadn’t exactly taken a ‘Christmas break’ from the gym..! 

There were 3 messages waiting for me, sent by my appointed trainer which basically read ‘I notice you haven’t worked out for a few weeks! Do you need a new programme? You haven’t worked out for a while, take it easy during your first few sessions to avoid injury! Do you need a new programme? Don’t forget, if you need encouragement or a new programme, contact me!’ Ok, ok I get the hint, it’s time to get back into the old routine!

Half an hour on the treadmill and I felt a bit sick. A token 20 reps on the Lat Pulldown and a few sit-ups wrapped up my first session. Just before I left, I jumped on the scales to assess the damage of Christmas excesses – many, many chocolates, cheese, crackers, no exercise… the scale showed I am 12 st 4 lbs (with shoes on, very important detail!) and the last time I got on in October after my hols, (I don’t believe in weighing yourself regularly, go by the feel of your clothes), I was about 12 st 2 lbs, so not a bad result after 2 months off the exercise and many tasty treats consumed over the festive period!

Since then, I’ve managed 3 water aerobics classes and 3 gym visits, I’m hoping this means I’m firmly back on the exercise bandwagon because it’s so easy to roll back off…

The dreaded first post-holiday gym session…

To ease myself back into some sort of fitness routine, I went to water aerobics last Monday and ached enough the next day not to visit the gym for the rest of the week! I got another aqua session under my belt yesterday and today, decided to brave the gym for the first time in five weeks… oh man, it was hard. The gym has recently installed a fancy signing in system that sets up all your programmes automatically on the new machines and I was greeted with a message from my trainer. He gave me a big wow for all the visits I had put in (pre-holiday) and told me to keep going. I felt really proud of myself and wondered if maybe this wouldn’t be as bad as I expected (note to self: always go with your gut instinct!)

After 12 minutes on the bike, I felt dizzy and wondered how on earth you can lose your fitness level so quickly, I was a gymming, swimming machine a month ago and now I can barely do 20 second bike sprints! I wandered over to the converging chest press machine and did a couple of sets, determinedly ignoring the flashing message that told me I wasn’t lifting my pre-holiday weight – I know I have turned into a post holiday weakling, I don’t need machines to keep reminding me! 15 minutes on the elliptical trainer at a paltry level 5 instead of 10, a couple of sets on the lat pulldown and my workout was finished. I logged out and was about to leave when I spotted the scales, was now the right moment to find out how much of a great time I had had on holiday?

Hmm, as I took a step towards them, two weeks of waffle / pancake / pastry breakfasts came flooding back. Another step and the healthy side of me jumped in with “Don’t forget you also had fruit with breakfast everyday!” “Maybe so,” argues holiday side “but you also ate out every night and enjoyed cheesecake that possibly contains your whole days calories in one slice!” Despite not being a big fan of scales, (I’m more about how your clothes feel), curiosity got the better of me and I jumped on. The pointer raced round to the top to reveal I was 12 st, my pre-holiday weight. Joy and relief wash over me because it has taken time for Other Half and I to adapt back to this healthy eating lark. We are back on the cereal and salad but are still celebrating the joys of weekend pizza, Starbucks, fast food and eating out. I know from previous experience that I can only fool my body in the short-term that these extra yummy calories are absolutely vital for my health and wellbeing…!

So, don’t let me sit here all alone feeling like a post holiday lemon, please tell me some of you out there also struggle to get back on track with healthy eating after sampling the joys of an I’ll-eat-whatever-I-fancy holiday. Don’t tell me I should exercise while on holiday or we will fall out big style, just because I think you’re right, doesn’t mean I want to agree!