Pie advice for Christmas

IMG_5869

For info, this is a Mr Kipling but I intend to try many more brands before January rolls around

Do you know how many calories there are in a mince pie? I don’t. And I don’t want to; it’s not going to affect whether or not I eat one.

At this time of year we are even more conscious of ‘bad’ foods than usual and it makes me sad. If you want the pie/wine/chocolate, in my opinion, you should just have it. But make sure you genuinely do want it. If you’re just stuffing your face because it’s there and you can, where’s the enjoyment in that? Equally, where’s the enjoyment in denying yourself if you really want it?

Sure, fitness, BMI, cholesterol levels etc are important, but so is mental and emotional wellbeing. Equally as important, actually. And by counting the calories of everything you eat or drink this season, you’re bringing stress into the equation. If you’re someone who struggles with their weight, with emotional eating or you have a tendency to obsess over healthy foods, counting the calories in every extra treat you have this season is going to make matters even worse. I suggest, if you’re worried about over-indulging, ask yourself this: ‘Will I get proper enjoyment from this?’ (or, ‘Is it worth it?’ if that’s more the way you think). If the answer is yes, then go for it! Life is too short to overthink things. If you feel like you’re maybe just eating and drinking things because they are there, perhaps it’s a good time to take a break.

It can be so simple really; listen to your body – if you’re honest, you know what it feels like when you’re overdoing things, so back off a bit and you’ll feel better. And if you’re really worried about putting on weight, factor in an extra run, walk or other workout, just for good measure.

Let’s not ruin the awesome relationship we have with that mince pie by over-analysing it; it’s there to make you happy, that’s all. Stop worrying about food, be kind to yourself and have fun!

Dealing with setbacks

6a21dd78-6b28-4582-90b4-10fa8675dcf4

My humorous. Not where it’s meant to be.

Nobody’s invincible. We all know that, but it’s easy to forget when you’re on a roll, training is going well, you’re in good health and you have goals that you really can reach, if you just carry on. So when the rug is pulled from under you, what do you do? A few weeks ago, I had just completed an ultra marathon and was heading into training for a road marathon when I fell on a bouncy castle (yes, I know, I’m 40 – my mum has already mentioned this) and dislocated my shoulder.

 

So it’s all change. Ten days in a sling, four weeks with no high-impact or weight-bearing exercise. Sixteen weeks recovery with physio. It would be easy to get down about this. And at times I have been, but the thing that’s most surprising is that it’s actually not that bad. Sure, I had to drop out of the marathon, and not being allowed to drive has been a pain but, overall, I’ve realised that it’s ok.

First obvious problem is training. I was worried I would lose fitness, lose all the hard work I’d put in. But all that hard work is in fact still paying off – if you have incorporated fitness and training into your everyday life, it takes quite a while to lose. And I’m lucky, I’m a PT, so I have devised a couple of zero-impact, cardio and resistance workouts that I’m confident will keep me going while I wait to get stronger.

Second problem is work. I can’t demo new moves, I can’t drive to see clients. After a disastrous morning where I insisted I could walk from client to client with a kettlebell, yoga mat and bag all hanging off one shoulder (the good one), I realised I could ask for help. This can be really difficult, even when people outright offer, when you’re used to doing everything yourself. But the relief when you do and (in my case) don’t have to try to figure out a new non-weights routine for your client, don’t have to get cover for teaching a class… the relief. Look at it this way, if someone you cared about needed help; nothing crazy, just a lift in the car or lending something for a few days, you absolutely would do it! You wouldn’t even think twice about it. Take the help when it’s offered. Ask when you need it.

I guess I’m just advocating positive thinking and positive action. Not a new concept, but certainly a good one. And maybe that marathon would have been a boring one anyway.

 

Drink up!

I have a drinking problem… I am NEVER properly hydrated. I’m pretty good at drinking coffee, and wine, but water is something I definitely don’t get enough of. I was recently commissioned by netdoctor.co.uk to investigate the role of electrolytes in hydration and what I found confirmed that I need to hydrate more! I’m trying to at least have one electrolyte drink (500ml) per day and any water/herbal tea/cordial I can add to that is a bonus. Have a read on the link below and see what you think – you might be surprised at the facts:

“Do I Need Electrolytes?”

It’s all about me

I’ve been cultivating this new attitude: stop pressuring myself. When we enter events, we instantly start to feel the pressure – it’s official, you’re going to run or cycle or climb or whatever, on this date, for this distance and you’re going to be measured officially in some way too. And that’s all good in terms of rising to the challenge and improving your sport, but what about the pressure from peers and fellow contestants? And from yourself? Some people thrive on this, and I think I did once, too, but these days I’ve realised I need to re-shape my priorities and stop thinking about stats and stuff.

I’m training for the Race to the Stones ultra marathon at the moment and, rather than beating my best time, I’m just aiming to get there. To start. To enjoy it. Whatever happens after the gun… happens. I’ve done what I can to make my body strong and ready and that’s all I can do. I can’t control conditions, trips and falls, sniffles, hay fever, a bad night’s sleep, so why worry? All sounds very zen, right? It’s pretty hard but I am trying. Enjoying the ride is what I want to do, I don’t want to find myself dwelling what might go wrong. (Obviously, I am dwelling on what might go wrong, but I am trying not to and that’s a good first step.)

I’ll let you know how I get on. But then again, I might not. No pressure, right?

(S)pace setters…

Lyme Regis

End of the road… Lyme Regis harbour

We’ve been to the coast for a long weekend. Escaping our fast-paced city lives for a few days, we were looking forward to lie-ins and copious amounts of wine and seafood. But of course we also took our running gear ’cause, you know, we’re us.

And Day One presented a bit of a problem – the idyllic Lyme Regis beach run had to be nixed because Lyme Regis beach is a pebble beach. Yeah, should’ve checked that. So we headed towards town and found the Cobb wall and harbour on our way. This is a lovely sweeping arc of a pedestrianised walkway right out to the tip of the harbour – perfect for short sprints and a bit of tag-team speedwork. Lots of fun, even if it wasn’t the run we had planned. It got me thinking about having to ‘pivot’ when something gets in the way of your route (closed roads, floods, fallen trees…. pebbles instead of sand). It’s always worth keeping some ideas in your repertoire to adapt as you go, here are some that only need a small area:

  • Run 100 steps fast in one direction. Run 100 steps slowly back to where you started. Repeat 5 times.
  • Choose 6-8 evenly spaced points along the route you have. Sprint past two, walk back one; sprint past two more, walk back one etc. (This is a classic hill exercise so all the better if you have an incline.)
  • For two people: start at opposite ends, sprint towards each other. As you pass each other, go down to a slower, recovery run. When you get to the other end, turn and come back – when you pass each other, go back up to sprint. Keep going, switch from sprint to recovery every time you pass each other. Do high fives if you must.
  • Add in some bodyweight exercises by creating a course (there-and-back, around the perimeter of carpark, whatever) for running; one person runs while the other performs squats. Switch. Do this with lunges, press-ups etc etc.

 

Keep on track

It’s snowing outside today and I have therefore nixed my idea of a 10k run as I’m in danger of slipping over and injuring myself. That’s sensible, right? But it’s easy to now make another pot of coffee and carry on my day without doing a thing. This is where we all fall down at some point or another I think – one good, legit reason not to do something has the potential to have a domino effect and ruin all our hard work thus far. So how to stop it? I’m a big fan of HIIT (high intensity interval training) – you can do it ANYWHERE and 20 minutes is enough. So if you can’t go out, clear a space in your living room/spare room/kitchen, wherever, and try this:

Press-ups
High knees
Tricep dips
Burpees
Crunches
Jumping alternate lunges

Do your best to complete 45 seconds of each, with a 15 second rest between. This is the goal so if you can’t do that yet, modify with going more slowly, reducing the time (30 secs with 20 sec rest for instance), making it easier (eg. press-ups off knees) until you can complete the circuit properly. Then do it again; do it three times, in fact. Then brag to social media about just how damn dedicated you are. And done!

(Find examples of all these exercises on YouTube if you’re unsure.)

Flu season

IMG_1921I’ve just crawled out of bed after days of flu and feel like I really need to go for a run. But then I made the bed and that wiped me out, so I guess a run is out. If you’re seeing results from your training and have something to aim for, it can be hard to take a step back when you feel a bit under the weather, but it’s important not to overdo it and end up bed ridden. If you’re not sure whether to train, one way to figure it out is to use the ‘neck check’. This basically means that if your symptoms are above the neck (head aches, runny nose, sore throat) you’re good to go – you’ll be able to exercise moderately and still be ok. If it’s below the neck (chesty cough, aches and pains in your body) then it’s a no.

And when you’re better, take it easy – a fantastic option for those recovering from illness is Pilates. Your heart rate stays steady, your body is challenged, but you can push yourself less if necessary, and you’re staying in one spot, so won’t find yourself out in the park or pool, wishing you were at home in bed. I can’t recommend Harri Angell’s Pilates for Runners enough – it has beginner, intermediate and advanced exercises and you can get back on track with as little as 15 minutes a day, at home on the living room rug – what’s not to like?

Water works!

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!!

Kettle bell ideas…

Kettle bells from Powerhouse FitnessLast 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.