30 Jan 2013

Racing Season is (Almost) Here!

I'm not a very fast runner, so racing wont bring me much glory but what I love about running a race is that it make me try my very hardest. It gives me a clear goal to focus on and challenge me to up my game. Last year my goal for the Edinburgh Marathon was to get under 4 hours, which I did with 6 seconds to spare but I don't think I'd have been able to push myself as I did if it wasn't because I was racing. This year I'm - so far - planning on running the Orion 15 (best cross country race in London!), the Greater Manchester Marathon (another sub 4h effort is the goal) and  Jämtland på Fötter Half Marathon (a fairly local half marathon when I'm home visiting the parents this July). Are you doing any races this year?

A Moment of Calm

After a 10 hour day at work and a 2 hour spin class I'm now having a moment of calm, drinking my camomille tea that my housemates love making fun of. I'm a big coffee lover but my tummy doesn't like the copious amounts I can drink in a day so I've started to swap some of the cups of coffee for mugs of camomille tea. Hopefully my tummy will like me for that decisions, and maybe I can become a bit more calmer and have a more zen-like approach to  all the things that normally drives me up the walls....

29 Jan 2013


On my twitter (@emmajosefine07) I sometimes add a 'Track of the Treadmill', a song that pushed me a little bit extra during my run. Today this is that song, enjoy!

Fat & Money.

This morning I was back on my bike, after two weeks of using public transport due to the short English winter with its snow and ice. I know a lot of people can't cycle to work but a lot of people that complain about being unfit and broke could kill two birds with one stone and start commuting on their bikes. As the picture says, a bike runs on fat and saves you money while a car runs on money and make you fat.....and not to mention the wonderful feeling of freedom biking creates!

28 Jan 2013

Surviving Cycling in London

Sensing a theme to the clothing....

 Anyone who's been cycling in London (or any other big city) knows it can be a nerve wrecking experience. After two years cycling in London, and one year in Bristol, I've found the following 'rules' help a lot:

  1. Be visible! Wear bright clothes, high vis gear and proper lights. If your fellow road users can see you life on the road becomes a lot safer.
  2. Follow the rules! It might sound obvious, but a lot of cyclists seem to think that some rules don't apply to them. If you want the same rights, then you have to follow the same rules.
  3. Take the (quieter) back roads! Trust me, Euston road during rush hour is a scary story. If you're commuting on your bike, map out your route on the quieter roads and save yourself from a fair few close encounters.
  4. Be vigilant! Motorists in London are notorious for not indicating (or indicating really late) when turning left, or before pulling out from the side. Not to mention black cabs and buses don't seem to notice anyone on a bike.
  5. Cycle 1/3 out in the road! This forces the cars to properly overtake you, and not try and sneak past you where it's really too tight. Claim your space on the road.
  6. Travel outside of rush hour! I know it can be hard, as a lot of people cycle to and from work, but cycling on quieter times is way more pleasant than cycling in rush hour.
  7. Don't pass buses/lorries/HGV's on the inside! They can't see you, but they can crush you.
  8. Make sure your equipment is safe! Wear a god helmet, make sure your tyres are in good condition, check your breaks regularly etc.
  9. Use your arms! Signal where you're going by using your hands/arms, so that fellow road users know where you're going.
  10. Err on the side of caution! It's better that your ride takes 5 minutes longer than that you risk your life...and for heaven's sake, don't cycle with headphones!

27 Jan 2013

Ian, Me and that Eureka Moment.

Today it happened, that eureka moment when you finally get what your coach has been shouting at you for months! After having had moments in the past where I almost wanted to cry in the pool I today felt a bit like Ian Thorpe on the picture above. At the swim course I attend we do loads of drills and this afternoon we were doing a drill where we were to imagine pilling a zipper up along our sides, all the way up to our shoulder, before lifting the hand out of the water and completing the stroke. After a length of that coach Martin asked us to swim back and all of a sudden my body position improved heaps and I rolled much more smoothly, allowing my breathing just that tiny bit more of time that it needed. When I reached the end of the pool I (almost) punched the air - it felt like a proper breakthrough in my front crawl training. At the end of the session coach Martin told me that my stroke was 'beautiful' and I don't think I've ever been more genuinely happy for a compliment...front crawl for me has been/is blood, sweat and tears but maybe, just maybe, I will conquer it!

Strong is the new Skinny

Today I ran 21k with my friend Zoe. The sun was shining, the wind was warm, my legs felt light and like I could go on forever. The dominating feeling throughout this run was pure happiness. Happiness is having a strong and healthy body, that wont let me down as long as I treat it well. There's a world of difference at the two pictures above. Not only is there a 25 kg difference in weight but also a massive difference in how I feel about my body. On the right hand picture I'm at my lowest weight ever, with no energy, no strength and no real joy. My only goal in the morning at that time was to get through the day without eating too much. On the picture to the left I probably carry 5kg too much but I'd also just finished my second marathon, the Edinburgh Marathon, on a personal best (sub 4h, 3h59mins) and despite being tiiiiired I still felt pretty awesome and strong - and not to mention happy!

Nowadays I'm enjoying my life. I enjoy being able to run for hours, lift heavy weights and eating Chocolate Digestives without having a panic attack. For me strong really is the new skinny.

26 Jan 2013

There Is No Off Season

On Your Skis!

Today I went and booked a flight home for easter! Not only do I miss my family and friends, I also miss skiing. As a kid I competed in cross country skiing and skiing is one of the things I really miss, living in a country where there's no possibility to ski. Not only is it  a great workout but also give you a special feeling of freedom and happiness that's very hard to beat. And going home to the little village in the middle of nowhere also means that you've got your dad to service both your classic and skate skis!

24 Jan 2013

Strong enough to lift a horse?!

On Tuesdays and Thursday mornings I almost always go to a Body Pump class before work and after a fair few months now all the regulars have gotten to 'know' or at least recognize eachother and before and after the class there's always a 'Hi, How are you?'. Some of them I know the names of, some I don't but they're all a part of my everyday London life. Today as I was leaving the class I hear one girl asking the instructor Roo for my name to which she replies 'That's Josefine but as she's so strong and Swedish I sometimes call her Pippi'. Now, I'm not the weakest girl out there, but I don't know if I'm strong enough to lift a horse....

23 Jan 2013

Fast Food

One thing that always amazes and impresses me when reading other people's traning blogs is the food they make and eat. It's fresh,  healthy, modern and a lot of the time 'raw'.  I'm just home from a 13 hour shift at work and the only thing I have the energy to cook is scrambled eggs on toast. Not as bad a fast food as on the picture above but still not ideal. Then again, in an ideal world I would have had lunch too, but since that didn't happen either I'll just start all over again tomorrow and cook myself a good and proper meal.....

22 Jan 2013

Pick and Choose

A lot of the time when I've done an early morning session in the gym people say things like 'you're mad' or 'that's a bit obssessive'. Maybe it is mad and/or obssessive but for me it's everyday life, some people make time to watch their favorite tv-sjow, I make time to go to the gym. I can't do as it says on the picture above and choose one - I work in operating theatres at a private hospital and 3-5 days a week I work from 9am to 8pm or later and there's just not time to do my training apart from in the mornings. Today was one of those days so I hit the gym at 7am for a body pump session followed by some intervals on the treadmill and I was at work by 10am. I had planned to go spinning at 6.15am tomorrow, before starting work at 8.15am, but my legs told me during today's intervals that they wanted a (well deserved) rest tomorrow. We all make choices in our lives and hopefully my choices will keep me from ending up at the hospital floor as a patient. What's your choice?

21 Jan 2013

As Much As I Love the Snow...


Now I love the snow, but having to go on the tube drives me crazy! There are people everywhere, it's expensive, the service is unreliable and it's not nearly as much fun as cycling. But, as everyone that has ever been to London knows, cycling in London can be iffy on a day when the road is dry and positively dangerous on a day where the road can be anything from icy to wet to slushy. Hence I havem't been on my bike for a few days, I've probably been erring on the side of caution but I'd rather do that than end up under a red double decker. Let's hope the roads are good to go on next week!

Swim or Sink?!

Well, I'm not that quite rubbish a swimmer - I've been swimming breaststrokes since I was 5 - but front crawl is an altogether different story.... I never learned as a kid, attending 'swimming school' in the north of Sweden in the middle of May meant many cold and miserable memories and not much inspiration to learn more than the bare essential. As I've been running and cycling more over the last year I've started to dream about completing a triathlon so last September I enrolled at a swim course at the Central YMCA in London to rectify my non-existant front crawl. Poor coach Martin had to drill me over 8 weeks - and not only in front crawl! At the end of the course I had not only learned how to front crawl but also improved my backstroke and started with butterfly....the man is, in short, a miracle worker! My front crawl still wasn't great, especially not when left to my own device. Over Christmas I gave myself a break as my confidence was taking a bit of a beating in the pool just because I didn't feel like a I was making enough progress.

20 Jan 2013

The Worst Part of Daily Exercise

All the bloody washing up...and for me who lives in a small rented room in east London this means that I will almost constantly have clothes drying in my room. So much for a tidy existance....

Thumbs Up for the Snow!

When I lived in Sweden I ran in the snow a lot, so much I was probably known as the crazy chick running 20k in -15C.... Since moving to London I have, well, gotten out of the habit (we don't get much snow here) but today I got to refresh my snow running skills. My friend Zoe and I had set a time and date for our first long run date and who am I to back out of that just because it's snowing?! Would a northern Swede surrender to some snow?! Hell to the no! We met as planned outside Mile End Tube station at 10am and set off along the canals towards Tottenham. I had almost forgotten how nice it is to have company on the long runs and both time and kilometers flew by. The snow made it a bit harder to run and the wind was pretty grim so we ended up cutting the run a bit shorter tha planned but we still did a solid 16k - which is a lot more than we'd have done if we'd stayed on the couch!

19 Jan 2013

Challenging Your Limits

I do most of my running alone, but I'm also quite an avid group trainer. I am also very picky when it comes to instructors, I give them an hour of my life and I will give my all - and I want them to do the same!  There's nothing less inspiring than being at a class with an instructor who a) isn't very good at instructing and b) doesn't push/encourage the participants to do their best. There's no wonder that so many people go year in and year out to various classes with absolutely no results to talk about, when there are so many mediocre istructors out there. But, that said, there are also some pretty great ones out there that will help you do what it says on the picture above....they will help you challenge and redefine you limits.

18 Jan 2013

Like a Boss

Today I ran like a boss.  I had decided to do some interval running prior to work as I was a bit unsure as to when I was going to finish, so I got on the treadmill at 7am and kicked off some intervals. I was dead when I got up an hour earlier so I didn't have very high hopes of doing something 'great' - but I did! I extended my normal 2 minute intervals to three, whilst keeping my normal pace of 13.5k/h, and did 8 reps (and the last rep was actually 5 minutes long). Throughout this session I felt strong and fast and I left the gym with a smile on my lips despite the snow falling and hence creating chaos in London. I bloody love running!

15 Jan 2013

Pump it!

I know, I know, I know...it's not politically correct to really like pump...it is, after all, 'not real weight training'. Or at least that what you hear people say. I say each to their own, and I happen to quite like body pump - it's a good complement to my running and cycling. One thing that i do find though it that most people (girls) in a class seem to have the same weight on their bars week in and week out. There's no challenging themselves, which is what you have to do to get better/stronger/fitter. Yes, you run the risk of 'failing' but you also have the chance to improve and prove to yourself that you can do it! I am no Arnold Schwarzenegger but every now and then I try and challenge myself. On this current release I add, in the backtrack, 2.5 kg to my 20kg during the first break. Soon I hope to be able to have those 22.5kg on my bar throughout the track. A while now I have also put on 20kg on my bar for chest, but have had to take off 2.5kg during the break/rest to be able to finish the track - but not today! Today I did the whole chest track with 20kg and yes, it was hard, but I did it! I went to work with slightly more spring in my step and despite having to do 5.5 hours of overtime I was still pretty chuffed by the time I came home.

14 Jan 2013

120 Minutes.

The picture above illustrates very well what120 minutes threshold spin cycling does to you. Your legs go numb from lactic acid and screams 'STOP PEDALING!' while your trainers/instructors screams 'Whatever you do, DON'T STOP PEDALING!'. You know you can do it, it's just about getting your mind set on convincing the legs to keep going. Learn to love the burn, and all that jazz.

13 Jan 2013

10 Miles Along the River Lea

Long slow distance in London. Obviously I must be running in the city, with loads of cars, pollution, bikes and the worst of all - tourists!??!

Actually...no. I am lucky enough to be living not far from the River Lea, leading up past Hackney marshes towards Waltham Abbey woods. Sure, there are a other people around (quite a few on a Sunday) but you'll see cows! Cows! As someone who's grown up in the middle of nowhere in the north of Sweden just seeing fields and animals is abig boost to morale.

But how was the actual run?! It was delightful, my legs felt light, my breathing was easy and completely unstrained. This week is the second week on my marathon training and I'm glad to say that I feel a lot fitter and stronger than I did last year at this stage of my marathon training.

Run Hard.

Every now and then you have to run hard. Well, you don't have to run hard but it can give you some pretty great results....you can get quicker and fitter, it can improve your endurance and stamina and so on. Now when I'm en route to Greater Manchester Marathon I'm following a more structured training plan and interval running is featuring regularaly. This week I've been tired, despite sleeping plenty, my legs felt heavy and I felt like I was falling ill without actually falling ill - in short, the thought of my interval session didn't feel all that appealing this week. On Friday night I decided to brave it after my Body Pump session but to make the intervals shorter and faster (which in theory should scare me, as I'm painfully slow). After a (nervous) 5 minute warm up I cranked up the speed to 14k/h or 4.28 min/k and waited for the disaster to happen. But...the first minute just flew by, as did the second, and third, and all of a sudden I'd done not only the 8 intervals I'd planned to do, but 10 intervals and I didn't even feel that tired. I went home from the gym that night feeling very confused but very happy and satisfied with my effort.

On Saturday morning I had decided to go to the gym in the morning for another Body Pump session followed by a short 30 minute run before heading off to work in the afternoon. When I stepped on the treadmill I had a change of mind and decided that I should try and do my 'real' interval session, which was 8x2minutes at 13.5k/h. I'm not going to bore you with describing all eight intervals, but let's just say that the legs were on fire and I felt slightly invincible - the last interval I extended to 3 minutes, with the last minute at a pace of 14k/h! I left the gym that day feeling even more confused and even more happy than the night before but my hubris wwas slightly diminished by the sore muscles in my legs and bum that had nothing to do with my two Body Pump sessions but everything to do with my two good and disciplined interval sessions.

11 Jan 2013

Love food, hate diets

It's that time of year again. The gyms are full. People are going on (crazy) diets. I don't believe in diets, I believe in eating healty all year round, but a lot of the time you'll get questioned when bringing a healthy lunchbox to work or when you decline a slice of cake. Now, I love cake, I love chocolate, I love ice cream and so on but I don't think you need to eat it all the time....everything in moderation is my motto. That said, I don't believe in 'treating' yourself either. If I want to eat something I will eat it without having to bargain with myself, but I wont eat in excess 'just because'. What I do believe in though is that you should eat food that you love, prioritise homecooked/baked meals, enjoy your food, eat varied and that when you exercise regularly your body will start craving better food. Treat your body well, and give it fuel that makes it thrive - but also indulge sometimes, it's good for the soul!

10 Jan 2013

Three times as good??!

I am on a mission. The mission is to complete a triathlon this year....I took up front crawling last autumn when I signed up for a swim course (although I'm still a very poor front crawler and I have not been practising as I should lately), I bought a road bike and the running is always present. Yesterday I did my first brick training session of the year, in an effort to spice up my triahtlon training and give myself an incentive to properly start swim training again. Brick training is simply two sessions put together, in this case cycling followed by running, to make your legs used to the transition. Yesterday's cycling session was a leg killer with a girl called Debbie chez BOOM! Cycle, and the running part was carried out on stiff legs. But the swimming part just depresses me. I get really stressed when I go to the pool and see these amazing front crawlers and I end up not going at all as I feel way to inadequate what with only being able to do a few laps before my breahing gets all out of sunc. Hopefully I can get my swimming mojo back next week, when my swimming course starts up again.

8 Jan 2013

Tracks of the Treadmill

If there's one thing I love besides running it's music, so combining the two is for me perfect. Sometime when I've acquired a new album I put it on my iPhone and go on a long run so that there's nothing to distract me from the music and sometimes when I'm feeling really tired it's the music that carries me through my run. Yesterday I was running home from work, and I felt awesome...so I listened to songs that 'accentuated' that and the whole 11k's were like a celebration. This morning, not so much....I was stuck on the treadmill today, having to squeeze in my running before my 11h shift. I'd decided to spice up my run with a hill interval program, as I find it extremely boring to just run and run on the treadmill (and not get anywhere!), but my legs felt heavy. I was hungry (this was before breakfast) and a tad uninspired, wishing I was back in bed. It was time to crack out the best tracks of the treadmill, those kind of songs that almost do the running for you. I blasted some Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club etc and boom! the 45 minutes were up and I could stagger to the showers for a well deserved wash. This song came on as I was starting the think I might skip the last interval but when I heard what song it was there was no such option - the only option was to keep on running!

6 Jan 2013

No One Has Ever Drowned in Sweat

Today was a close call though, when I hit BOOM! Cycle for a neat double whammy - 75mins + 45 mins with pro triathlete Daz. I sweat a lot whenever I exercise and especially when spinning. Today put us through 2 hours of endurance intervals, working alternately at a percieved exertion rate of 8 and 8.5 out of 10, with a few recovery sessions of 7.5 out of 10. It sounds pretty neat, long aerobic intervals and not flat out vo2 max intervals, but when applied you suffer. It requires discipline and that you're honest with yourself (you've got to keep up the exertion rate for a long time and not slack off!). For me who's running a marathon in April this is perfect, as I will be running for roughly 4 hours at a higher exertion rate. When the two sessions/hours were up I was, to say the least, drenched in sweat but I also knew that I walked away from the spin studio a little bit stronger than before!

5 Jan 2013

You'll love it at some point!

This is how I felt both yesterday and on Thursday. On Thursday I was running intervals, and not any kind of intervals but the worst kind (for a Captain Slow like me) - 2 min intervals at 'high' speed. It was 10am, I hadn't had breakfast and just done an hours BodyPump. I struggled (and swore) a bit, and my leg didn't really feel all that good, my breahting was all over the place.... but I did all the six intervals I set out to do! I stepped of the treadmill feeling very tired and very happy. Yesterday I did 5k's at threshold pace, also after a 60 minute Body Pump session, and even if I wasn't as tired as the day before it is quite mentally tiring running at a constant pace which is higher that your comfort pace. I plugged in my iPod (well, iPhone), cranked up the volume and tried to diverse myself with music. It worked and I finished the 5k without any major problems. So, what's the morale of this story? You might not like running while you're at it, but you'll love it when you're done!

2 Jan 2013

Keep calm and go running!

'One day back at work and I have already agreed to work overtime next Saturday although I don't really want to. My rota next week is a bit sh*t, and it's raining outside. Plus it's ages before we get paid!' That's what went through my head when I was getting changed at work this afternoon. But, as I was was pulling on my running tights and lacing up my shoes, all the irritation slowly left me so when I turned into Euston road and my legs felt ever so good I had the biggest grin plastered on my face. By the time I was home I felt great, slightly invincible and proper pumped for my upcoming marathon - and that's part of the reason I love running! I'm a natural born worrier (I worry about most things) but running makes me calm, like a natural and legal Valium.

1 Jan 2013

Kicking off 2013 with...a rest day.I

I don't like to rest...there's so much fun training to be done, and so little time, so why waste that time on resting?! Except...that it isn't a waste of time, but something essential. As much as it annoy me to see the blue sky outside and imagining how delightful it would be to go for a run I know that I need to rest. It is over ten days since I last had a rest day and my legs will thank me - and tomorrow I will be back in lycra, with legs a little bit more bouncy and happy.