Saturday was my 99th parkrun. It’s taken me a long time to get there (more than 99 weeks, for sure) and I’ve done many runs in between, but it never fails to amaze me how the same old routes on the same old days can be so utterly different. I’ve been to other parkruns (about 9, I think), so we can discount those, but I can confidently say that, despite approx 90 slogs around that 2.5-loop route on a Saturday morning, I can never predict how I’m going to feel, how fast I am going to go, or even whether I will enjoy it. And that’s true right up until I cross the finish line. I can sometimes rock up feeling full of energy, bouncing around at the start, raring to go, and then flag completely within ten minutes. Or get stitch. Or feel sick. Then other times (like this week), I feel like I could do with a nap even before I get there. On Saturday I even stepped to the side to do some Pilates roll-downs as I felt so snarled up and tired. But then I zoomed around, consistently overtaking, and finishing faster than I have in ages.
I guess it’s an example of the benefits of just getting on with it, and I mean that for exercise in general (not just running!), proving that you shouldn’t let your mind tell you that it’s not worth bothering, or convince you to give it a miss today. Easier said than done, I know, but I have started to use good memories of my surprise parkruns to get me out of the door when I’m not feeling motivated. And maybe, if it helps, now you will too.
I’m pretty sure most of us don’t drink enough water. I definitely don’t – although I do carry a bottle with me, to encourage better behaviour in myself. My new absolutely favourite thing is this huge (2-litre) bottle, £15.95 from The Big Bottle Co. It comes in loads of colours; mine is purple but I think I might try to collect them all! (Might? Will.)
The idea behind it is that we’re supposed to drink 2ltrs per day, so if you get through this then you’ve done good. BUT… it’s also an awesome weight for circuits in the park! The handle makes it easy to do bicep curls, lateral raises, pretty much any resistance work, and you can fill it from a fountain when you get to the park and empty before you leave, so the walk there and back is a touch easier.
And don’t worry, I’ve taken the brainwork out of it by weighing it at various stages of fullness (1kg, 1.5kg, 2kg) – go forth and train/drink/train!!
1ltr = 1kg (Exactly where the water line is, mind))
Just below the ridge = 1.5kg
Just below the 2ltr sign = 2kg
I try to give my clients a ‘take-home’ exercise to do on a daily basis (or at least a few times a week) so that we can maintain the good work we’ve achieved in our sessions. One of my favourites is one I call The Compass, which I learnt from my friend Sarah Russell, who is a biomechanics coach. It’s not only brilliant for making your bum look great, but it helps strengthen your core as you try to balance, too.
How to do it:
Go into a single leg squat, then using the arm opposite to the one you’re standing on touch the floor in front of you in four places; north, south, east and west (you can pulse the squat between compass points). Do this a few times on each leg, standing upright again between goes (but without setting your other foot down). Switch the arm you use to increase the challenge.
I don’t play golf – I don’t even have a t-shirt with a collar – so when I was invited to give speed golf a try at Trent Park Golf Course, I did a big laugh. But then I said yes anyway.
And I’m so glad I did – I didn’t know golf courses could be so fun! It really is what it sounds like – golf, but you run between the shots, rather than walk. Simple really, and great for impatient types who just want to get to have their next go. The fastest person sets off first (so you don’t keep overtaking each other), with their light bag that has only about four clubs in, and scoring is your normal golf score, plus the amount of minutes you took to complete the course. Easy. Or not, if you’re me. I’m not dreadful at golf (I hit the ball 90% of the time) but I’m not very good at it, and, in the pouring rain that we had on the day, I would have happily thrown my clubs into a passing buggy and hitched a lift to the finish. But the organisers from American Golf suggested I team up with another amateur, which was a complete game changer. Suddenly it didn’t matter that I had no idea what I was doing; we were in it together, supporting (and laughing at) each other the whole way round – somehow I didn’t even notice the rain til the last hole!
I fully recommend this for any beginner – it’s fun, you get lots of goes, you don’t have to be good, and it’s much quicker than a standard game of golf.
Fore! (I don’t know what that means.)
Last week I got the chance to try out my new kettle bells (from Powerhouse Fitness) with one of my clients. So far so good – she uses a kettle bell at home but said these are an easier grip as the handle is that bit wider. We tried out some one-handed moves (as she’s used to the classic swings) and they really are just an easier grip than either of us have used before.
Try this: backward lunges, each time passing a lighter kettle bell underneath your front, bent leg (from inside to outside of the leg). So if your right leg lunges back, the right hand passes the kettle bell under the bent leg to the left hand. Stand up again and repeat on the other side. Start with a lighter weight to get the knack and the rhythm before progressing.
Always lunge backwards for this exercise.
Martina Hingis and Patrick Mouratoglou instructing a game of doubles
Martina, Patrick and Dan
Warm-ups on court
Sunday was the one day this fortnight that play stops at Wimbledon – giving all the players a day off to prepare for week two and the Big Matches. Not for Martina Hingis though, as she was with me (oh ok, and a few others, including England coach Dan Bloxham and French coach Patrick Mouratoglou) over on the club courts for a tennis masterclass sponsored by Maui Jim eyewear.
I’m lucky that I get to attend events like this, due to my job in journalism, and despite my gammy shoulder stopping me from joining in, I had a great time. I took Matt along to take part while I watched from the sidelines and the 2.5hr class was fascinating. To see Dan Bloxhan help those who had never picked up a racquet before go from missing every hit to performing the perfect serve in the space of five minutes – amazing. Lots of people have a talent for playing, but it’s quite special to have a talent for teaching too.
Oh, and there was free Pimms and cake too, so don’t worry, I was fine all alone on the spectators’ balcony!
This Wednesday was the annual Dino Dash at Crystal Palace Park. It’s a relay race organised by my running club and usually has quite a good turn-out. It’s teams of 3 and each person runs one 3k lap, so most abilities can manage it (despite those hills) and very well marshalled (by us, the club members!).
It’s amazing how we always manage to choose a night that is unbearably hot, too – top tip: if you’re planning a bbq next year, check when the DD is on and book for then; guaranteed good weather!
If you’ve been thinking of joining a running club, come and have a few gos with CPFR; it’s an inclusive club and my running improved no end when I joined! (Taster runs FREE!) More here: https://crystalpalacefunrunners.co.uk