Suck it up Princess

Running is hard.  Running is harder than it’s ever been (if you can actually call it running at all) and  I’m really struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel (there’s going to be a light isn’t there…please tell me there’s going to be a light??)

I’ve moved on from the run/walk strategy.  It was good while it lasted, mostly because it took the huge pressure off hitting a pace I was vaguely happy with rather than my foot, but it had to end at some point.  In all honesty I hadn’t planned to end it quite as soon as I did but it was actually snowing in London and my blood is 100% southern so, you know, I get cold and running is quicker than walking.  I didn’t dare look at my watch.

Of course after I had transitioned to continuous running there was no way back, you don’t make progress by taking steps backwards, and so for the last 2 weeks I’ve been shuffling around London trying to remember how to be a runner again.  It was hard and it was scary and it wasn’t particularly enjoyable.  I didn’t know why I was doing it.

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The last two Saturdays I’ve made an appearance at my local Parkrun on Tooting Common.  Running with other people helps me to forget that I’m running and that I’m finding it hard, Parkrun is the perfect place to learn to run again.  It feels kinda safe.

The only problem was trying to run a Parkrun without running as fast as I could, that was another new one on me.  Being much slower than I usually am is difficult to deal with, but I have been enjoying running again and that was the whole point.  You’re ace Parkrun, thank you!

You can’t be at the top of your game all the time, there will always be times when you’re just a little bit rubbish.  But you don’t make progress by hiding away and doing nothing about it, you have to get out the door, suck it up and do it.  So that’s what I’m doing.  I’ve also never got as much Strava kudos for so many rubbish runs so THANK YOU for making me feel better about it, it really does help.

I will get faster and I will get back to the top of my game but, for now, I need to suck it up and plod on.  Joy.

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“The biggest mistake is doing nothing because you can only do a little”

I don’t know who said that but, for now, I’ll credit it to Dad French.  Not long ago I came back from a 5 mile run (I say run, this most definitely fell into the ‘jog’ category) downhearted about both pace and distance. ‘When will I get faster again, it was so slow I may as well not bothered’ I moaned to my Dad.  He simply turned around and said:

There aren’t many people that can just go out and run 5 miles, they say the biggest mistake of all is doing nothing because you can only do a little

And he was right.  As I try and get myself out of a real running rut it’s time to hit the reset button and shake off the mindset that anything less than 10 miles isn’t worth getting out of bed for.  Easier said than done though.

Instead of going out for shorter runs I found I was making excuses not to go out for 12 mile runs.  My thought process went a bit like this

  • What if I can’t run that far?
  • What if someone I know sees me?
  • What if I forget to switch my watch off before it uploads to Strava for the world to see  how slow I am?
  • What if I get attacked by a dog?
  • What if I get attacked by the Beast of Wandsworth Common?
  • What if I can’t actually run at all anymore?
  • What if I fall over?
  • Well, 12 miles is quite far isn’t it, maybe I should just go for a run round the block?
  • No, that’s just stupid, what’s the point?
  • Maybe I’ll just stay here and watch the next episode of Stranger Things then…

And so that’s how it went.  Of course, eventually I ran out of excuses and finally managed to bribe myself into running 3 miles round the block with my favourite smashed avocado on sourdough.  I even managed to face the Beast of Wandsworth Common.  Don’t be fooled by those friendly eyes and little twitchy nose…

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I think it’s all so easy to get swept up in marathon madness and forget that it’s actually OK to run shorter distances (even at the weekends, yes really) and it’s much better to run a little, not matter how slowly, than to not run at all.

A couple of weeks ago I ran the Cabbage Patch 10.  That’s 10 whole miles.  I was dead nervous.  I woke up early on a Sunday morning to a miserable day pouring with rain and felt sick.  Honestly, if I hadn’t of promised Graham a lift to the race there’s a 90% chance I wouldn’t have turned up.

But I did turn up, I ran, and I got the t-shirt.  Plus, if you take out the pain of seeing my Garmin flash up embarrassingly slow miles, and the fear of coming last, I actually enjoyed running.  I needed that race to kickstart my confidence again.

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Sure, I’m slow.  Sure, I’m scared of long distances right now.  Sure, I can’t see myself improving.  But I know I will as long as I keep going.  Besides, I don’t really have much choice now I’ve signed up for the Brighton Marathon in April…

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WeTRAIN: A New Fitness Concept in London

It was hot, muggy and humid at a sweaty Brixton warehouse, in a stifling 31 degree London, when WeTRAIN hosted their WePLAY Launch Party.  I wasn’t entirely sure what was in-store, but I was promised an evening of HIIT, Barre and Yoga so I was prepared for a tough workout!

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WeTRAIN is a new fitness concept to launch in Clapham and Brixton that brings you a range of classes, from Insanity and HIIT, to Sunrise Vinyasa Flow, Rocket Yoga and even ballet inspired Barre, in small groups of 8.  They call it ‘The Shared Personal Training Co’.

The idea is that you mix socialising with your workout to give you a personal training experience, without the extravagant cost or commitment of a series of sessions.  You’re free to go to any session you fancy, when you fancy, and just pay as you go. Just make sure you book first as I have a feeling this is about to take off!

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When we arrived we were greeted with Strawberry Serotonin Smoothies and Energy Chickpea Blondies courtesy of  The Thinking Kitchen which was just the kickstart we needed (and both tasted AMAZING, I need that blondie recipe!)

I started off with a Power Yoga session and quickly realised my stiff limbs have been missing their weekly downward dogs and pigeons!  We went through a series of postures and stretches, with hip openers and strength poses, before a very welcome savasana.

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This was followed by a Barre class. What’s Barre?  Well, I didn’t know either, but it’s a mix of ballet, pilates and yoga, all set to a hip hop soundtrack, I loved it!  The class was made even better by the instructor, Hillary Cannon, who has a refreshing approach to teaching where twerking midway through Fiddy’s Candy Shop is not only acceptable, but actively encouraged…

It challenges you by working each muscle to the point of exhaustion, in a full body workout, to build tone, core stability and strength.  Think push ups, planks, tricep dips, plies, clam shells, and everything else that hurts like hell.

There were actually quite a few exercises I was ordered to do by my physio last time I was injured with my lazy arse (true story), so I really think it’s the perfect session for a runner. Don’t expect not to wake up the next day in a world of pain though, as Hilary says ‘pulses hurt like a mother f**ker!’

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As the classes were small, it was easy to follow what was going on and the instructors could make sure we were doing the moves correctly, always helpful when muscles start to tire and form drops (and, err, what’s a plie again?!)

After the oh-so sweaty workouts, we re-hydrated with (ahem) prosecco and re-fueled with salad tubs from Gym Bites whilst WeTRAIN CEO, Adrian Mooney, explained to us a little more about how WeTRAIN works.

Finally, GB triple jumper Julien Allwood talked to us about how WeTRAIN donate a percentage of their fees to the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, a charity that empowers disadvantaged young people, so you can be sure your workout is doing more more than just keeping you fit!

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I genuinely think WeTRAIN is a great concept and a welcome addition to the London fitness scene, there are even plans to expand their offering into other areas of London next year.

For people who are looking for a bit of flexibility, and some bang-on-trend classes, without the monthly spend commitments, this is definitely for you.  I’ve already done another Yoga and Barre class and I’m booked into Fit for Function (with the lovely Elle from Keep it simpELLE) and, yep, more Barre!

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Classes are just £12 a session and with only 8 people (max) per class, you can be sure you’re getting a much more personal experience than in a gym.

I was invited to the WeTRAIN launch party to try out some of the sessions on offer.  All views are my own.

Front Crawl Masterclass with Richard Stannard

I always loved swimming as a kid.  I mean, I kinda had no choice, my Mum threw me in the deep end of the pool when I was about 2 years old and told me not to get out until I’d earned my 5m badge.  I almost drowned that day (I remember it clearly) but I came away with my little pink badge and, after I’d finished choking, a big smile on my face.

Of course I exaggerate (slightly) but I think learning to swim at a young age is an important life skill.  I would have missed out on so many fun activities without that skill and, if nothing else, it teaches you not to be fearful of the water when your brother tries to suffocate you in the rapids on holiday (and he wonders why I used to lock him in sheds?!)

Whilst I’ll always be the first person to run into the sea, swimming is one of those things I haven’t really tried to improve as I got older.  Last week, Olympic Team GB partner, Fitness First, invited me to their Hammersmith pool for a front crawl masterclass with 7 time Triathlon and Biathlon World Champ Richard Stannard.  Given the time it took me to dig out my swimming cap, googles and sensible swimming costume (sequin clad bikinis don’t really scream ‘credible athlete’ do they?!), I realised it had been some time since I had gone swimming.  I was a little nervous.

FF Hammersmith’s brand new 17.5m pool

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Of course I had no need to be nervous as the Fitness First team immediately made me feel at ease when I turned up, and Richard and Jas, from The Triathlon Training Centre, were more than welcoming.  We were lucky enough to have the pool all to ourselves and, after an intro where Richard explained the correct way of putting on a swimming hat and goggles (I didn’t know there was a right and wrong way…) we were ready to jump in the water.

As soon as Richard got into the pool and glided effortlessly through the water it was clear why he’s nicknamed The Fish.  It turns out learning the correct front crawl technique is a little like learning to drive, a lot to think about at the same time but, once you get it, it all falls into place.  Once you get it..

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We went through a series of drills up and down the pool concentrating on a different aspect of front crawl each time.  The one thing that way made clear was that, if you want to improve, improve one thing at a time.

Breathing:

We started with a focus on breathing, but apparently that’s the most difficult bit to master.  Breathing out in the water has never really felt natural to me so it took a few minutes to remember not to simply hold my breath!  Luckily, I’ve always been a front crawl rather than breast stroke swimmer, so a lot of the basics came back to me quickly (ie. I didn’t drown or embarrass myself).

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Legs:

Next we focused on leg work using a kick board to allow us to concentrate on fast, straight leg kicks.  Apparently many people ignore their kicking and rely more on the arms but a good leg technique reduces effort.  The goal is to kick from the hip, rather than the knee, with a straight leg and pointed toes, this helps to keep the body flat in the water rather than sinking.  I think I got this bit…

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Arms – The Catch:

Finally, we moved on to arm technique we where we learned ‘the catch’.  The catch isn’t something I’ve heard of before but it’s a technique where you create a paddle with your arm to push yourself through the water.  You press the water behind you rather than down to swim faster.  Makes complete sense…until you try to do it…along with the hip kick thing and occasional oxygen intake which just gets in the way of everything.

Apparently I started off well but defaulted to my usual stroke towards the end of the length, I put this down to my concentration moving rapidly from my arms to my lungs!  I think my catch will take a bit more practice.

That’s me on the left, err, smooth as a fish…

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My evening in the pool reminded me how much I used to love swimming, and the bonus is it’s much easier on the joints than pounding the streets in my trainers.  Maybe they’ll make a triathlete of me yet 🙂

Fab bunch of Fitness Bloggers with Richard and Jono – Photo courtesy of Abbi at Upraised Living

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I would like to thank Richard, Fitness First Hammersmith, The Triathlon Training Centre (and Nandos for the post swim salad!) for a fabulous evening in the pool, I honestly enjoyed every minute and you’ve inspired me to go swimming more often!

#FFSwimSquad

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Confessions of a Runner

1.We’re obsessed with Strava

  • Who ran what, where, when and HOW fast?!  No way, the GPS must be wrong…oh yes, that complicated zig zag, that’s not right is it?
  • Errrr, excuse me, I’ve just run a Parkrun PB, why hasn’t the random-guy-I’ve-never-met-but-stalks-my-every-move given me kudos yet??
  • It really looks like that guy sprinted the last half mile of their run to improve their average pace.  That’s just silly.  I would never do that.

Yep, we spend much more time stalking Strava than any other social network. Because we have to. Kudos.

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2. When people ask us how far our next marathon is we want to jab them in the eye with a pencil

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  AAARRGHHHHHHHH.

When we don’t quite know someone well enough to poke them in the eye with a blunt object, and we have to smile politely and explain how marathons work, a little part of us dies inside.

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3. When we get drunk we sign up to all the races

Most people get drunk and do stupid things. But when we get drunk, our stupid thing is to sign up to all the races.  It doesn’t really matter what distance they are, or how far away they are, or if we have to race against wild horses, or trains, or jump into freezing bogs in the middle of them (all actual races by the way). No, one bottle of prosecco and we sign up to all the races that exist in the whole wide world.

Then we wake up and wonder why we’re poor.

THEN we realise what we’ve done and that we actually have to run the damn things.

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4. We Lie

Not all the time.  But sometimes.  You know when we tell you we can’t go for a drink on a Friday night because it’s our neighbours, cousin’s, best mates annual BBQ and we promised to look after their pet tortoise Jimmy?  Well, that’s not strictly true.  It’s actually because we know one drink leads to 16 and we can’t possibly risk having a Parkrun hangover.  In our defense, it’s not just Parkrun…there’s usually brunch and cake and stuff…

Sadly, little Jimmy the Tortoise does not exist in real life.  Well he might do, but we don’t care if he gets fed or not.

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5. We own more pairs of trainers than any other type of shoe

And we need all of them. Don’t ask questions.

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6. We suffer extraordinary things to make sure a run goes to plan

Not long ago I was getting ready to run to my tempo session from work when I realised I didn’t have any socks. None at all.  After begging everyone who was left in the office for the socks they were still wearing, I finally came up trumps with a pair of colleagues gym socks…that he had already worn to the gym earlier that day…and were still sweaty.

I see no problem with that.

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7. We don’t always have time to wash our hair

Running can take up a lot of time, what with having to do muggle activities like working and sleeping as well.  It  means we don’t always have time to partake in life’s little luxuries such as washing our hair.  Sometimes, just sometimes, we’ll take a hairdryer and just dry the sweat right out.

Ironically, these always seem to be the days when people politely comment ‘your hair looks good today, have you done something different?’ Yeah, it’s sweat mate, 8 miles of pure sweat.

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8. Post long run pain is our favourite

When we’ve run a long way it hurts.  It hurts during the run, and it definitely hurts after.  We put our legs up against the wall, waddle up stairs, climb down them backwards and shuffle along the street. But we like that pain, it means we worked hard, and it will make us stronger.  In fact, that pain just means we’re winning at life.  So giggle all you want, we don’t care.

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9. Injuries make us angry. Like, really angry

You need to understand that, when we’re run-injured  and we can’t run, it is the end of the actual world.  And you can’t help in any way.  In fact, you can only really make it worse.

I know it was only a few days ago we were moaning about our training schedule and how tired we were.  But that was when we could run.  And now we can’t run.  So that means the only thing in the world we want to do is run.

No it’s not ‘nice to have a rest’, it’s not ‘good to take a break’, and it’s definitely not ‘fun to go for a swim instead’.  JUST. BACK. OFF.

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10. We don’t understand why you recoil in horror at our ‘easy 10 miler’

Because an easy 10 miler is simply that, we’re running 10 miles and we’re keeping it easy.  OK, maybe running 10 miles isn’t ‘easy’ but, what we mean is, we won’t be adding any strides, fartleks, tempo or MP (I know, I know, I lost you).

The problem is, our concept of distance is completely distorted, we think nothing of our 15 mile weekend run and, for that reason, it’s never wise to ask us if we think somewhere is close enough to walk.  We only know how long it takes to run there.  And therefore the answer is always yes.

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11. We don’t always WANT to go for a run

Despite everything I’ve said, we’re not always filled with joy at the prospect of going for another run.  Sometimes running is hard, and it hurts, and we would much rather sit on the sofa with a box of Lindt balls and watch back to back Friends episodes we’ve already seen 100 times.  But we run anyway. Because running is life.  And it’s the only life we know.  We don’t expect you to understand.

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When do you declare Game Over?

Katherine French. Liverpool Marathon. DNS.  That’s what it will say next to my name this weekend.  Another marathon, another fail.

After falling some way short of target in London, I wanted to give it another go whilst I was still marathon fit because, quite honestly, the thought of another season training for an Autumn marathon simply makes me want to throw allllll my trainers in the bin and swear a lot.  But it’s quite evident that I just don’t have that kind of speed in my legs at the moment.  Entering Liverpool and thinking I could smash it really wasn’t my brightest idea.

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It was all a bit too perfect.  5 weeks after London, a large UK marathon, a friend with a flat I could stay in, I’d even managed to wing a lift there and back.  But my heart and my body had a full blown argument that only my body could ever win.

I know exactly what would have happened.

  • Turn up at the start line
  • Full of hope, but knowing I probably wouldn’t make it
  • But maybe, just maybe I could make it?
  • Purposely set off just behind the 3:30 pacer and hang on for dear life
  • Curse the sodding hills that I was warned about
  • Fall off the pace
  • Get angry
  • Walk
  • Hate everyone overtaking me
  • Hate myself for being rubbish
  • Hate life
  • Be the the very last person to finish the Liverpool Marathon in the slowest time on record. Ever
  • Cry
  • Still not get into Boston
  • Hate running

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It might sound silly, but I know myself well enough to know that would be the most likely outcome right now.  It wasn’t worth it.

Last week someone said to me, in reference to London,

‘Remember when you spent 6 months training for a marathon and then jogged it?!’  

Whilst there was obviously an air of jest, it doesn’t change the fact that it is indeed true.  I trained really hard for London and still didn’t have what it takes to achieve what I wanted to.  I just can’t get that out of my head.  When it came to game time, the really serious-poker-face-hardcore bit, I jogged.

It’s definitely game over for this season.  But is it game over for good? I don’t know.  How do you know?  I’m not sure I have any coins left to play again.

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Annoyingly, I had cancelled all my fun weekend plans to go to Liverpool so I’m now plan-less for the Bank Holiday.  But instead of killing myself on the streets of Liverpool on Sunday, you’ll find me bumbling along the North Downs Way eating Jenn’s Jelly Babies (and other nutritional snacks), and talking to Barry about alarm clocks (and other important things).  I’m much happier about that.  I think.

When I finally made the decision to pull out I felt a huge sense of relief, I didn’t have to actually run another marathon!  But the dark cloud?  That hasn’t shifted yet.

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Review: Best’s Bootcamp

I always have good intentions of giving my tired limbs a whole week off exercise after running a marathon, but I’m shamelessly addicted to sweat drenched workouts so, when I was invited to be one of the very first people to try out London’s hottest new bootcamp since Barry’s on Thursday, I really couldn’t say no!

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When I turned up to Best’s Bootcamp’s brand new swanky studio in Charing Cross, it was clear this was going to be a tough workout, the trainer’s were all ripped and the studio, complete with DJ, looked serious…perhaps not the gentle return to exercise my body had in mind!

The dimmed room is lined with 22 treadmills facing floor length mirrors, with each having a workout station behind it so you can switch between running, and strength based exercises throughout the class.  I was given a treadmill (a treadmill complete with a personal fan no less) to start on, so my legs would just have to deal with what ever was coming their way!

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Named ‘Tread Army’, we were given the choice of starting on 8, 10 or 12 kph which steadily increased by increments of 2 throughout the 7 minute warmup, before I knew it I was up to 14 and hoping I wouldn’t fly off!

We then switched to the floor station where we were now the ‘WorkerBs’ for 7 minutes of squats, lunges and jumps on a soft box which, handily, you can flip over for a choice of 2 heights, I took the lower option, don’t judge me!

The studio has a unique Trainer Cam on the wall so, wherever you are in the room, you can always see what you’re supposed to be doing and focus on form rather than straining your neck to see what’s going on.  I though this was a great addition because, with just 60 seconds or so per exercise, you don’t want to waste any time.

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Already exhausted, I was back in the Tread Army again, increasing both speed and incline for some lung busting hill work and speed intervals, the legs were coping well.  Back on the floor we performed various kettlebell moves to  work on the arms, back and glutes, I’m not used to kettlebells so this was hard!

The final sweat session on the treadmill involved more speedwork and hills, but also involved some downhill running (who knew treadmills could go downhill?!)  This felt really odd to me and I couldn’t quite get used to it so I went back to zero (I kept the speed the same though, I promise!).  We then moved on to the last section of floor work to attack the abs, and attack we did with a mix of weighted sit ups and planks.

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Aaaandd finally the 50 minute workout was over, the very first Best’s Bootcamp class complete – ouch!  On leaving the studio we were treated to a post workout shake from the Blend Bar.  I chose the Berry Blast which was a mix of strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, almond milk and vanilla whey, perfect recovery, it was delicious!

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I thought Best’s Bootcamp was a pretty fantastic workout, intense, tough, sweaty and a good mix of cardio, strength training and HIIT.  To make the most of it, I would recommend having a good base level of fitness beforehand or you might struggle, but otherwise it’s a workout that delivers on everything you could want from a bootcamp, with some pretty top notch equipment, in a stylish studio, and changing rooms stocked with Kiehls, hair dryers and GHDs.  And how did I feel the next day?  Errr, it hurt, but that’s the only way I would have it!

Best’s Bootcamp is just a 2 minute walk from both Charing Cross and Embankment station and opens on 9th May, with individual classes priced at £20.  I highly recommended you check it out, I have a feeling it’s going to be very popular very soon! #BeYourBest

Many thanks to Marcel Grabowski Photography for all the great photos and Best’s and Action PR for having me. I was invited as a guest to try out Best’s Bootcamp. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Never be ashamed of a scar

I’ve never quite been brave enough to share this story before now, but finding the courage to do so makes me realise how far I’ve come, and how much running has made a difference to my life.  It’s scary to admit you had a problem, a problem where you were addicted to self destructive behaviour that led you down a dark path.  It’s scary, and a little bit embarrassing.  Despite being a problem that affects many people, particularly in the world of sport, it’s a topic that people just don’t talk about enough.  I’ve read many peoples stories that have helped me in the past, so if my story can help someone else then it’s worth sharing.  Please be aware this post discusses eating disorders.

I wasn’t always as fit and strong as I appear to be now.  I say appear to be because, most of the time, I really don’t feel it.  But, despite this, I’m aware of my achievements and I’m aware that I couldn’t have achieved them without being fit and healthy and having a sensible approach to nutrition.  It’s something I have learned over many years.  Running has become so much more than a hobby to me, it literally keeps me sane and it’s showed me how strong I can really be.  When I can’t run, it’s fair to say I’m pretty unbearable to be around.

What most people don’t know about me is that I was bulimic.  Whilst I believe it’s a battle I’ve well and truly won, it will always be a part of me and I’m not sure I will ever have a ‘normal’ relationship with food.  My illness was characterised by a combination of restrictive eating, long periods without food, binging and purging, pretty text book you could say.

Eating Disorder charity, Beat, estimate more than 725k people in the UK suffer from an eating disorder, but the true number is likely to be much higher.  And it’s not just women, around 25% of those are men.  Eating disorders can be difficult to understand, they’re complex and built on distorted versions of reality and cycles of behaviour that are difficult to break.  They also carry a certain stigma that people need to ‘just get over it’ or ‘it’s a lifestyle choice’ that means it has become a taboo subject, it really needs to change.  No one with an eating disorder would ever choose to have one, it’s lonely & isolating and physically & mentally exhausting.

In a country where we now face an obesity crisis that is becoming a national health issue, and we’re bombarded with reams of airbrushed and photo shopped images throughout the media, as well as on social platforms, being more open and honest about eating disorders and food issues is more important now than it ever has been.  I worry about young people growing up in a world surrounded by social pressure and unrealistic expectations that dangerously blur the lines between fact and fiction.  There’s not enough transparency around the fact that a lot of what you see simply isn’t real.

Like a lot of people, I started running to lose weight, it’s the easiest way to drop the pounds, but I didn’t enjoy it.  Exercise was simply a way to burn calories, that’s all.  But as time went on I did start to enjoy it and it became something I wanted to get better at, setting my sights on longer distances and faster times.  Around about this time my relationship with food changed from being destructive to much more positive and shaped by smart choices.  You just can’t run on empty, or at least not very far, and I started to see food as a source of fuel.

On Sunday I ran a 20 mile race with my club, I don’t need to tell you that 20 miles is a long way, but in all honesty, I often forget to respect the long distance runs and the demands it places on the body.  Recently I’ve been feeling completely exhausted and I was determined last week to stick to all my sessions, knock out some big miles, take my iron supplements, eat well and sleep well.  I came away with a new 5k PB and a solid 20 mile training run.  On Saturday, I ate healthily and ate enough to fuel my run, I’m not saying that was the only factor, but I have never felt as strong over 20 miles as I did on Sunday.  I was delighted with my pace and the way I felt.  Eating like a marathon runner sometimes scares me, but I know it’s necessary and I know it makes a difference.

Not being able to run stresses me out more than I can put into words, I have been known to go into a frenzy worrying that I’m going to wake up 2 stone heavier.  Similarly, I can feel horrendously guilty if I don’t run as many miles as I planned because I don’t have the time, or don’t want to, or drank too much wine the night before.  It takes a lot of mental strength to cope with that.  I’m getting a lot better at it.

Bulimia no longer has any power over me, I don’t have room for that in my life anymore.  Running really changed my life, especially the commitment and dedication involved in marathon running, and, despite my ups and downs, it makes me happy.  Achievements make me happy.

I’m not sure if you ever fully recover from an eating disorder, it will always be a part of you, but it’s certainly not something that defines you and it’s definitely something you can shut the door on.

I will always be very conscious of what I eat and I will probably always struggle with body image, I accept that, but when I look back and see how far I’ve come, I realise that it’s no longer something that controls me.  I’m stronger now than I ever have been.

 

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Barry’s Bootcamp – London East

I’d heard of Barry’s Bootcamp, they call it ‘The Best Workout in the World’.  I’d heard it was popular with the A Listers over in Hollywood and New York.  I’d also heard it was pretty tough.  But hey, I ran 37 miles round the Lake District, I ran down a fell mountain in high winds and rain, I’ve pulled myself out of the darkest places just to cross a finish line – I’m tougher than anything Barry and his Bootcamp could throw at me.  Aren’t I?!  I thought it was time to give it a try.

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On Tuesday I headed over to the London East studio with a couple of girls from work, we I was really looking forward to it!  I have to admit, I didn’t really know what would be involved but, checking out the website beforehand, I was a little concerned that the first question on the FAQ’s was ‘Will I die?’ but, really, how hard can a 60 minute workout be?!

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When we got there (an hour early, we were a little keen!) so had plenty of time to have a look around and check out the selection of post-workout protein drinks available from the Fuel Bar.

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There’s only one room, it’s not a gym, it’s just one room where the bootcamp takes place with a row of 20 treadmills and 20 floor stations.  When you book your place (which you have to do pretty fast!) you choose to start on the treadmill, or on the floor, we chose the treadmill.

It looks swanky.  The lights are low with floor to ceiling mirrors on each wall, the trainers are all ripped and the other fitness fanatics all look like they know what they’re doing.  Still, I know how to work a treadmill and I remembered to pack my favourite lycra so I didn’t feel too intimidated!  Our trainer was Sandy, Sandy is is responsible for bringing Barry’s to London, so he must be good…

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You’re assigned a workstation at reception so there’s no fighting over your spot.  I hopped on treadmill 2 and waited for instructions.  We started with a warm up and were given 3 different choices for beginners, intermediates and advanced.  It’s running on a treadmill, clearly I’m an intermediate verging on advanced, right?!

Barry’s treadmills are set at miles per hour rather than the usual kilometer per hour and we were given the choice to start on 6, 7, or 8.  7 mph is 8.30mm (not that I could do that kind of maths at the time but I started on that pace anyway!).  Over the course of the next 8-9 minutes Sandy had me working up to 9 mph (errr, 6.40mm) on an incline.  I wasn’t sure I was intermediate anymore. Warm up over then…

We then moved onto our floor spot – Tuesday is ‘leg and butt’ day so we were in for 8-9 minutes of weighted lunges and squats.  This wouldn’t be so bad but the lightest weights they had left were 7.5kg, and I needed 2 of them!  Jess managed to get some 6kg ones, I didn’t like her anymore.

We were then straight back on the treadmill for another round of fast paced running, with the incline going up to 10% my pace dropped to somewhere inbetween the beginner and intermediate pace.  It was 8 minutes of solid hard work and I only made it up to 8.5 mph this time.  Back on the floor we did some weighted side lunges and box jumps before jumping back on the treadmill for round 3 (where I managed 9.3 mph without falling off!)

By the end we had done 3 sets on the treadmill and 3 sets of leg and bum floor work.  Honestly? I was knackered.  When we headed back upstairs our pre-ordered protein shakes were waiting for us, I went for Cool Runnings, a blend of pineapple juice, coconut milk and vanilla whey, it tasted pretty damn good.

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So, it turns out Barry’s Bootcamp is actually a bloody tough workout, the runs are pretty fast paced and the floor work is brutal.  As with everything, you get out what you put in, but I think you would struggle without a good level of fitness beforehand.  When I woke up on Wednesday I was quite pleased not to ache as much as I thought I would but, after a morning sat at my desk I quickly changed my mind…my legs were suffering post-Barry’s depression.  However, I loved it and I want to go back!

Whilst it’s pretty swanky, unsurprisingly, it also has a pretty swanky price tag.  For a one off class it’s £20.  There are savings to be made by buying packs of 10 if you have a spare £170, you can even buy a pack of 50 for £700 but, either way, it’s quite pricey.  Throw in a fiver for a post workout protein shake and you’ve easily spent £25 before walking out the door.

Is it worth it?  I’m definitely going to give it another go, maybe on abs day…

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I went to Barry’s Bootcamp as a paying customer.  All views are my own.

Hot & Sweaty with Ellie Goulding

When an email landed in my inbox from Nike Women inviting me to the exclusive launch of Ellie Gouldings’ new Tighten & Tone N+TC workout with none other than Ellie herself I couldn’t reply quick enough!

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The venue was Tobacco Dock in East London where I joined maybe 300 other like minded ladies bubbling with excitement and ready to get sweaty on the mat. There was a small stage at the front and the evening kicked off with a stunning acoustic performance from Ellie who treated us 5 or 6 of her hits including the current number 1, Love Me Like You Do and one of my favourite running tracks, Anything Could Happen.

Ellie Goulding was singing just a metre away from me!!  ARRGHHHH

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Despite being an international superstar, she told us she was feeling shy.  She needn’t of been because we all loved her, and even more so for being so normal, but  she was clearly putting her heart into her performance.  It was bloody brilliant!

Ellie then rushed off to change into her workout gear (reminding us why we were there!) and we went to find ourselves a mat, the punishment was about to begin…

The Nike Master Trainers were introduced on stage together with Ellie’s personal trainer, Faisal, who would be leading the session with Ellie. Ellie has been a bit of a fitness freak for some now and she’s also a keen runner so I knew the workout would be beneficial to my marathon training.

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We started the session with a good warm up before getting stuck into the Tighten & Tone workout. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect but it’s only a 15 minute workout, how hard could it be?  I was expecting an easy ride. I was wrong.

Tighten & Tone is a combination of high and low intensity intervals designed to activate the core, strengthen the arms and work the legs.  We completed a range of exercises including burpees, planks, pike push-ups, squats, thrusts, seated scissor kicks (ouch!) & lunges for 30-60 seconds with a couple of 10 second rests if we were lucky.

The Nike Master Trainers were dotted around everywhere checking we weren’t slacking so there was nowhere to hide!  Ellie proved herself to be just as fit and strong as I thought and completed all of the exercises with graceful ease.

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How was it?  More intense than I thought and definitely one to work up a sweat – there were some real lung busters in there.  I’m definitely going to need some more practice at those seated scissor kicks!

After the workout we were greeted with a choice of healthy meals, I went for the teriyaki salmon salad, together with a welcome glass of bubbles, it was just what we needed!

And how did I feel the next day? In pain…

Thanks To Nike for a fabulously fun evening of live music, sweaty exercise, delightful company and champagne!

I’ll definitely be doing Ellie’s workout again and you can try it yourself by downloading the free NTC app, you don’t need any equipment so you can even do it in front of the TV.  No excuses!  There won’t be any Faisal though…sorry 🙂

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