31 May 2013

HIIT Friday

The other week I was talking about how I mainly go to classes with instructors I already know. When I hit BOOM! Cycle in Shoreditch I've got some favorites that I know will always give me both a cracking workout and some good tunes but today there was someone subbing for the regular instructor - and she got me out of my comfort zone! It was literally a combination of a HIIT and a tabata session - and it was tough! Carli, the instructor, played some good tunes and cracked the whip and I was happy with my efforts. It might not have been my normal kind of session, but this mining it was great!

30 May 2013

Don't Be Too Hard On Yourself

You know how I was talking about commitment, dedication and putting in some serious effort this morning? Well, while I stand by all of that I also have another message to you guys - don't be too hard of yourself!

Tonight I was meant to head to swim practice but after a very hectic day (and a hard Body Pump session this morning!) it felt like I needed nothing more than to hit the sofa and stay there for the rest of the night - so that's what I did! A few years ago I might have felt guilty about ditching a planned workout session but as I've gotten older and wiser I know that you just can't be too hard on yourself. You need to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard. Yes  you should be diciplined and out in some effort but you shouldn't drain yourself either. To keep energy and motivation levels up you need to get some rest and relaxation. Watch rubbish telly, eat some ice cream and before you know it you'll be going like a boeing again!

Believe You Can!

You know one thing that really annoys me? When people go 'I could never run a marathon' to me, when they in fact mean 'I'm not willing to put in time, effort and dedication'. Almost everyone can run a marathon if they put in the enough time and effort - you don't just go out and run a marathon, I myself put in 6 months of thorough training before my first one.

It's one thing saying you don't want to run 26.2 miles, but don't do yourself the disservice of not believing in yourself. You can do anything you set your mind to, but be prepared to work hard for it. Are you unfit? Then get fit. Overweight? You can lose weight. Are you short of time? Make time. Don't just hope for it though, believe in yourself and just do it.

29 May 2013

..And Now I'm Calm!

This morning I posted a picture to the blog on how the road is a good listener, and this afternoon that really proved to be true. For those of you who know me and read the blog know that I work a lot, and rack up many overtime hours a month despite my best intentions not to. Today I had planned to do a bit of a longer run home from work as I wont have time to do it this weekend so I really wanted to leave on time (for once!). The plan for my run was to make my way to Edgeware road and then onto Regent's Canal, run on the canal past London Zoo, Camden, King's Cross and Islington before hitting the last stretch east on the canal and then when arriving at Victoria Park maybe do a lap of the park before heading home.

 Unsurprisingly I didn't get off on time so when I walked out of the hospital and into the cold, grey, weather I was pretty annoyed and didn't know how many miles I'd get under my belt. I headed off towards Edgeware road on legs that didn't feel all that convincing but once I hit the canal they'd loosened up and I could fall into a good rhythm. The canal was fairly quiet up until King's Cross (even the part where you have to head into Camden market,  which is normally crazy busy) and I ran on listening to my music and was a bit surprised when my GPS thingymajiggy told me I was running at a 5.20min/k pace. When I hit Islington and had to leave the towpath for a short I while I found mysekl feeling way more energetic than when I first started back in Marylebone and also a lot less annoyed. The canal got busier when approaching Hackney and I didn't really know if I should believe that I really was running at the 5.05min/k pace that the GPS told me but a quick glance at the time showed me that the time did match what the GPS told me and I then decided to definitely do a lap of my beloved Victoria Park.

When hitting Victoria Park my hands felt pretty stiff and cold, as it's only 10C and windy here (not to mention that I have zero circulation in my hands and feet), but that didn't really bother me. I was listening to The National's new album Trouble Will Find Me (buy it asap, you won't regret it) and the legs were just doing there own things, working at a steady 5min/k pace. The park was filled with runners and everyone was nodding a smiling, which doesn't happen all that often, and despite the greyness the park looked beautiful. The 4.5k lap took no time at all and soon I was on the homestretch. Reaching my road I wanted to make sure I'd done 20k hence sprinting round Tredegar Square before letting myself into the house with fringers now frozen stiff.

Not only was I happy with having run a 20.5k run at an average 5.10min/k pace barely winded and with lots of energy left, I was also happy to have done a long run after work as I normally only do my long runs on Sunday mornings. I was also completely zen, having left the annoyance and disappointment from work behind me. The road really is a good listener!

Today's run, from west to east - much recommended!

A Good Listener

28 May 2013

Like A Drowned Rat

That's how I looked this morning when I arrived at the gym, after having cycled 40 minutes in the pouring rain and gotten sprayed by a few red buses......yet I was feeling pretty great, the kind of great you feel when your body is strong and you've managed to avoid stopping at too many red lights. The streets were quiet, the majority of the cars considerate and I was almost sad to get off my bike and go inside.

27 May 2013

Let's Get Naked!

On August 15th the ZSL London Zoo is hosting the even 'Streak for Tigers' As the name implies, you're meant to get nude and streak in aid for the 300 sumatran tigers left in the world. They assure you that you wont get arrested for nudity (phew!) and that you don't have to get completely nude even if it's encouraged..... So, who's in?!

(Not me!)

No One Likes A Quitter

26 May 2013

For The Love of Running

"I always loved running...it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs." - Jesse Owens

10 miles along the River Lea, in sunshine (although it wasn't as warm as it looks...) and on bouncy feet. No pressure with time or distance, just running for the sake of running. For the love of running!




Thought of the Day

Yesteryou, Yesterme, Yesterday

Yesterday was a great day. The sun and warmth finally returned to London, I spent the afternoon/evening with some very dear friends and I watched a great game of football. East London was being that kind of awesome that only east London can be and I felt very happy and at peace with life.

In the morning I headed to the gym for a Body Pump session but sadly my faourite instructor is on holiday at the moment so a sub taught the class. He was pretty good, but nothing like Roo. That said, he did deliver a perfectly good 60 minute class and I was quite happy I managed to up my back track weights to 22.5kg (but only because it's a short track, my forearms were killing me), I also added some weights to the tricep track and managed to do the whole chest track with 20kg on the bar. After the pump class I decided to do another kilometer of swimming and it went good, even if I didn't swimas well as the day before - my arms were pretty tired from the class I'd just done. But I'm pretty happy that I now can swim a full kilometre of front crawl despite not being 'on top' - it's ahuge step for me!

Speaking of favourite instructors...do you have one? I am ridiculously picky with my instructors, hence meaning I've not been to the great BOOM! Cycle for a week or so - I've not been able to go to my regular classes and then I don't go at all. I know that all the other instructors are good too, but they don't make me work for it like for instance Mark and Martin does.

24 May 2013

Today I Did Well

I Ran:

Pyramid intervalls! After yesterday's 1am finish at work and the missed dinner (I don't do missed meals, but operating theatres doesn't take that into account) I didn't know how much energy I'd have today but I did a decent set set of intervals. I paced myself at 4.17min/k and ran 1 - 2 - 3 -2 -1 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 2 - 1 minute(s) with equal rest inbetween. I didn't feel invincible, but I felt strong enough to think of it as a  good session.

I Swam:

1 kilometer! Not only did I miss dinner yesterday due to finishing late at work, I also missed swim club. I decided to make up for it today by doing some swimming - and I felt great! I almost felt like a real swimmer, doing 2x 400metres and 1x 200metres front crawl with 2 laps of backstroke in between. For the first time ever I felt like I could have swum for ages and ages without my breathing giving up on me, and it felt like a real victory.

Fake It 'Til You Make It

Lately I've come to the conclusion that I'm a bit of a fake when it comes to blogging about training, fitness and exercising. I do a lot of training, I race and it's a passion but there's a few things that stops me from being a fully fledged fitspo blogger....:

1. I eat sweets. Yup, and I love it - I love chocolate, I love pick 'n mix and two of my best friends are called Ben & Jerry.  I know there are additives and rubbish in sweets and ice cream but I think you can eat everything in moderation.

2. I drink alcohol - and not only a 'good glass of red' with my food. I love going to a proper rock gig and having a few pints, or going out drinking tequila shots with my good friends. You only live once!

3. I don't eat raw food or paleo. Well, I do eat some food that's raw but I'm not a convert to the Church of Raw and although I like the 'eat clean' mantra of paleo I'm not obssessing about it. I like my food to be cooked, and I don't really care if it's better for you to eat like we did in the stone age (not that we're really sure what we did eat, anyway....).

4. My blog isn't filled with selfie pictures I've taken of myself in the gym locker room. I sometime put a picture up of myself because that's what you 'should do' but I don't get much enjoyment from a seeing myself posing in gym kit. Lycra ain't a flattering fabric....

5. I don't do yoga. In fact, I'm pretty much as flexible as an iron rod. I see pictures of people in all sorts of impossible positions and I have to say I don't know if I think any human was ever meant to be that flexible...

There you go, I'm a big fake - but I can still run 26.2 miles in less than 3 hours and 45 minutes!

Duathlon vs Halfmarathon

I've got a bit of dilemma. I have been planning to enter the Bristol halfmarathon on September 15th, as I'd love to go back to my old stomping grounds and do some running, but then today I saw that on the same day the London Duathlon takes place in and around Richmond Park..... Now I'm trying to decide which one to do - try for a personal best on the halfmarathon in Bristol or make my duathlon debut in London?! Decisions decisions.

Richmond Park at wintertime

AdiPure Ignition, I Love You

Earlier I've professed my love for the Adidas Boost, but I've got another love in my life - the AdiPure Ignition! It's a minimalistic running shoe and it fits my foot like a second skin. It's light and slim (a must for me, I ain't got time for a heavy and clumsy shoe) and encourages a forefoot rubbning, making it perfect for speed or interval sessions

22 May 2013

'How Do You Find Time To Run?'

That's what one of my colleagues asked me today and the only thing I had to say to her was that you have to prioritise. I don't find time, I make time- We all have 24 hours a day, so you need to chose how to spend them. I may spend a lot of hours at work each week so my training is fitted in before or after work (I'm known to run intervals at 6am before a 12 hour shift) and the days I'm off my training takes up a lot of the time. Some people enjoy going shopping on their days off, I enjoy going to the gym.

If you want results, you're going to have to work for them. You're going to have to prioritize the gym and healthy eating, you're going to have to make it a lifestyle. That doesn't mean you have to be a slave to the gym but it does mean that if you spend more time at the pub than in the gym then you can guess the result. Eat well and exercise and you'll be a more energized person. Stop taking shortcuts and making excuses, you chose the person you want to be.

In June I'm prioritizing myself and my training, and have booked myself for a training week at Playitas Resort. I'm going to log some training hours and fill up on Vitamin D. What do you prioritize?

This Is How I Roll

You know when you watch TV-Shop (don't deny it, we've all done it - mainly on Sunday's when we've been stuck in the sofa and too delicate to reach over and change the channels on the telly....) and they go '..and this product was originally created by NASA/the US Navy/etc'?! It is supposed to make you go 'oh wow, great, I NEED that salad rinser despite never eating salad!'. Well, I think that if the foam roller was ever to be advertised on TV-Shop then we'd probably get to hear that 'the foam roller has been developed by XX Army as a torture device and ir's fool proof!'.
Foam roller. The name is deceiving, it make it sound like it's all soft and, well, foamy. It makes it sound like you're in for a bit of a treat, like your muscles are about to get a aromatherapy massage, while in reality the foam roller is not soft but more like one of those massges where you see the massage therapist walk on the person they're treating. Deep deep tissue. Hardcore. No pain no gain. Go hard or go home (etcetera).
Or maybe it's just me who's got either the lowest pain threshold known to man (and I doubt tha as I once walked around with a burst appendix for three days before succumbing to hospital) or maybe muscles stiff and hard as bricks.... I know that theae foam roller sessions that I've started with will help, and the pain is the nice kind of pain (you know what I mean) but when you're in the middle of the sessions then I can't help but think that I'd never be able to survive child birth.

21 May 2013

It's Just You And The Pool

After last Thursday's 'slit my wrists' swim practice I was on a mission today when I entered the pool. No more of this bloody 'I'm tired!', 'my breathing troubles me', 'I feel stressed by the other swimmers' mumbo jumbo that I've been doing since I started front crawling last September. Today I decided to man up and just get on with it, like I've done with all the other things I've accomplished in my life. I decided to stop thinking that I'm not a swimmer and live by the devise 'if you swim, you're a swimmer'.

I did stall getting into the pool though. I started my day with a 7am Body Pump session, then avoided the pool and went to a training day for one of my jobs. After the training day I went to the gym again, only to then do some speedwork on the treadmill. Having run a good 5k at threshold pace (13k/hour) I couldn't stall anymore and had to get into the pool. My goal was to swim 1k front crawl but in an attempt to psyche myself up for it (and actually do it!) I decided to swim sets of 200 metres front crawl (10 laps) at a time, with two laps of back stroke in between the sets. I purposely swam slowly, constantly telling myself not to care how slow or bad it looked, and voila! 1k front crawl done! I don't know how long it took, as I can't see the poolside clock (damn being shortsighted!), and frankly....I don't care. Today was all about persistence and getting the laps done, and less about speed and style. Speed and style will come, if I persist and get the laps done - so that's what I'm going to do from now on.

And you know what?! Today I actually felt a little bit like a 'real' swimmer!


“I knocked a cyclist off his bike. I have right of way, he doesn’t even pay road tax. #bloodycyclists”

If you only read one thing on the internet today, I urge you to read this entry on the site I PAY ROAD TAX.COM. The site aims to spread the message that road tax was abolished in 1937, nowadays you pay vehicle excise duty - the actual road use isn't taxed. Vehicle excise duty is based on how much CO2 is emitted, so all that complaining from motorists that cyclist should pay 'road tax' if they want to use the roads is nothing but pure BS. Cyclists, horseriders and pedestrians have just as much right to use the road as any motorised vehicle and it's about time that drivers accept that.

It angers me a that my life should be put in danger by misinformed and dangerous motorists just because I chose to commute via a very environmental friendly and healthy way. It angers me that you hear parents say they don't want their kids to cycle to school as it's not safe. But most of all it saddens me. It saddens me to think that people don't have enough consideration for a fellow human being to stop and think that that cyclist is someone's child/spouse/friend/etc, and not just a 'bloody cyclist'.

Today I tweeted to say I was a proud #bloodycyclist, after excellent bikeblogger Danny Williams started a campaing to reclaim the hastag #bloodycyclists, the very hastag that the tweeter/sorry excuse for a human being used when she was bragging about knocking a cyclist from his bike. If I'd been angry and sad before I felt very happy and hopeful reading the tweets from all us #bloodycyclists! A little while ago I gave my old bike to my friend Zoe and last Sunday she texted me to say she'd cycled to her parents and that it is 'a beautiful way to go about town'. I'm proud to say that I have introduced another #bloodycyclist to the joys of cycling!

20 May 2013

Making Wise(r) Decisions

I don't usually make New Year's Resolutions, as I'm fairly certain I'd break any kind of resolution that went along the lines of 'stop eating chocolate digestives', 'lose a stone before summer' or 'spend less money'. All of those sounds boring and restrictive, and that's not how I want to live my life. It doesn't mean I shouldn't stop eating chocolate digestives, lose a stone or spend less money but it does mean that I'm not going to make a promise to the New Year's God that will make me feel like a failure if I can't keep it. I usually do come up with something to promise though, because when you're at a New Year's do and the weeks after people will ask you about it. This year I made two (kind of ) resolutions, and how's that worked out for me so far?

Well, the first one was to go to the cinema more often and I have since been to the cinema 3 times. Now, that might sound like a bit of a failure to you, but seeing that I went once during the whole of last year this means that I've already improved myself 300%! That's great statistics for you, and seeing that we're not even halfway through the year I think this particular resolution has got great potential!

The second one was on the more serious note, and it was to make wiser decisions. Wiser decisions regarding work, training and life in general. Like all people I've been known for making some stupid decisions, like agreeing to take over someone's on call only to then finish work at 3am and having to be back in for 8am. Bad, bad decision. When it comes to training I've also done some poor decisions, mainly due to being a bit too eager and not thinking things through clearly. Does anyone remember my pre-marathon illness this year?! I made some bad decisions then and that's why today I decided to let my aching hamstrings have a rest. Who could ever imagine that running 10k at high speed could give you sore legs?! It's probably only me who thought that running a 10k would leave you as comfortable as after a night in the sofa, accompanied by Ben & Jerry's....well it turns out it doesn't. It might be a different ache from a marathon and it is just soreness, and not an injury, but I still decided to scrap the whole project of cycling out to the gym in Leyton at 5.45am this morning and doing a Body Pump class. In line with my 'make wiser decisions' resolution I'm resting as a preventative measure, allowing my body to recover and not develop some stupid injury that will leave me unable to run for four months - that's just so, well, 2011....waaaaaay before my New Year's Resolution.

19 May 2013

Dreaming of Boston

Have you guys ever heard of that calculator where you put in your 5 or 10k race time and you'll get a predicted time on the half and full marathon distance?! After Saturday's 10k race I googled that time calculator and this is the data I got, with a 10k time of 45:43....

  • 5k - 21:49
  • 10k - 45:43
  • Half Marathon - 1:41:22
  • Marathon - 3:32:19
Now this is intresting. The qualifying time for Boston for my age group is 3:35 and the last marathon I ran I finished in 3:44:15 and I wasn't knackered when crossing the finish line. I know that this is just a theoretical calculation but I'm willing to give it a go, willing to put some serious effort into this. So what do you say, do you think I could do it?

If You Run, You're A Runner!

I Owned The Night!

Warning, this blogpost will contain both happiness and a little bit of bragging!

So, as I told you yesterday I ran Nike's We Own The Night Women's 10k. I'm not very fast on short distances (I'm not very fast on long distances either, come to think of it) but yesterday I did surprise myself by running the race in an offical time of 45:43, even with a longdistance training regime! Now I do wonder how much time I'd be able to cut from that on 10k if I really set my mind to it....and I am just a wee bit proud over finishing as 63rd person out of 3386!

18 May 2013

Race Report: We Own The Night

Tonight Nike took over Victoria Park and filled it with thousands of running women, all wearing luminous orange tops. It was a novel experience being able to walk to the race and a novel experience running a race where everyone was wearing the same outfit....

We Own The Night was my first ever 10k race, surprisingly enough for someone who's run 3 marathons. The good thing with running your first race is that whatever time you run, it's a personal best. I was a bit trigger happy with the cider last night when I met up with my old collegues so I didn't have high hopes for a good time, but just in case I decided to wear my Adidas adipure lightweight shoes....shoes made for speed!

After a very americanized warm up we were all sent to our respective starting pens. You just got sectioned in after how much effort you wanted to put into it so I was quite far back and when the race started it took me some time to get to the starting point and then I spent the first 2k just passing the slower runners. After 2k my inner devil took over and I decided I wanted to try for sub50 even if I was feeling a bit weak. After 3k I passed the 5o minute pacer and then I just decided to chance it and run pretty fast for as long as I had the energy to. The first 6k felt easy, then I had a bit of a dip between 7 and 8k, and got some extra energy to power through the last 2k in style. Well, some sort of style.... I finished in just over 45 minutes (the chip time isn't in yet), which I was happy with. Sub50 and even though I was tired when crossing the finish line I could have done better with better preparation and less of a hangover. It was great running a different distance and now I'm proper pumped to see how much I can improve that time (yeah yeah, I know, I'm ridiculously competitive......).

So how was the organisation?! Hats off to Nike, it was a top class race - well organised, inspirational and professional. Who can resist speeding up when you run past a banner saying 'Run Like Ryan Gosling Is Waiting For You At The Finish Line'??
The only downside was the fact that all the pacers were male - how can that be?! If it's a women's only race then surely you could find female pacers, there's plenty of good runners out there that aren't male....


A Trip Down Memory Lane: Stockholm Marathon 2008

Back in 2008 I got this crazy that I should run a marathon. I'd done my first year at uni, was on a pretty solid road to recovery from my long lasting eating disorder and felt that I needed to do something that would make me appreciate my body. When I was ill running was a form of punishment, a punishment for eating, but once I'd signed up for the 2008 Stockholm Marathon I fell in love with running. Running became a form of therapy, it made me grateful that my body was fit enough to keep moving for hours and first and foremost it made me feel alive and strong after having spent many years feeling numb and weak.

I started training properly in December 2007, following the official training program for the marathon composed by Swedish ex-olympian Anders Szalkai. Despite never meeting the bloke he became a friend and mentor solely based on the little comments in the training programme, making me believe that I actually would be able to run the entire 26.2 miles. To say I followed the programme religiously would be an understatement - that winter I lived, eat and breathed marathon running. My parents were a great source of support, picking me up in nearby villages after my 30k runs and driving me to some smaller races in the lead up to the marathon. My uncle, who used to be an avid and talented runner in his youth, gave me loads of advice and encouragement.

When the big day finally arrived my dad drove me down the 600 kilometres to Stockholm and some family friends put us up the night before and after the race. Stockholm marathon is a special city race, instead of taking place at 9am on a Sunday morning (to cause as little disruptions as possible) they instead shut down the whole city on a Saturday afternoon, dedicating the whole day to the race. There is an immense crowd support throughout the course (which is a 2 lap course, but the laps aren't identical) and you finish the race at the 1912 Olympic Stadium (the only time I will ever feel like an olympian haha).

On race day 2008 it was almost 30C at 2pm when we started and Stockholm was looking bsolutely stunning in the blazing sunshine. I had tried to eat and hearty breakfast but I was too nervous to eat really (which now has become a tradition whenever I race....pre-race nerves = Josefine can't eat) so I jus hoped that I'd fuelled enough the days before. I started very far back and it took me sometime to even reach the starting line. I had decided that I was gonna run at a leisurely pace as I wanted to finish the race feeling strong and the first lap was probably the most pleasant 13 miles I've ever run in a race. On the second lap I allowed myself to pick up the pace slightly, enjoying feeling strong and fit, and not even passing the much feared Västerbron for the second time made me feel very tired. The heat didn't bother me much at all, I sweat much regardless of weather and kept drinking lots of water and isotonic fluids throughout the race, in addition to running under all the massive showers they'd positioned along the course to help cool the runners. When I got to the 40k mark I already felt like a winner and the last 2 kilometres were pretty easy running mainly because I was on such a runners high, knowing that I'd not only conquered the 26.2 mile course, but also the demons in my head - I had conquered my eating disorder! When entering the packed Olympic Stadium I didn't know if I wanted to laugh or cry, and I think I did both, and when crossing the finish line and looked up at the stands and saw my dad waving ecstatically I knew I'd never been happier in my life.

After the race I was pretty stiff and sore, not to mentioned sunburned, but the one thought that kept popping up in my head is this quote from the poem Invictus:
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul
I finished the race in 4:15:10, running a negative split i my first ever marathon. I stuck to my plan and finished the race feeling strong and I was the 809 lady out of 4320! Crossing the finish line this song was playing on my iPod and whenever I hear it now it takes me right back to that day when I came alive again.


17 May 2013

The Rules For Being Amazing

I saw this picture browsing the internet aimlessly the other day and it stuck with me. This should be everyone's mantra!

When In Doubt, Talk To Your Mum

Mums, aren't they just the best?! I've put my mum through a lot, from teenage years plagued by eating disorders (if you ever want to know who it hurts the most, it's definitely the people who loves you) to moving to another country (as the baby of the family, mum still doesn't think that I should be so far away from home...). Mum (and also dad!) has always been my biggest fan and supporter and whilst I frequently doubt my abilities, she never does - like when I was dumbstruck by my PB on the Manchester marathon and mum just calmly replied 'I knew you had it in you'.

After yesterday's swimming debacle and my dented confidence I today had a bit of a whinge to mum Eriksson on Skype and what did she do?! She laughed at me, and calmly pointed out that I'll have to get over myself and get working. She then proceeded to tell me that the weather back home was great and outlined what she's going to grow in the garden this summer. So what's the moral of this story? Don't let a bruised ego get in the way from what you want. Eat some humble pie (as Alex would say in Everything is Illuminated), swallow your pride and put some serious effort in. I'll see you all in the pool, people!

English vs Swedish weather at the moment.....remember there's always a silver lining, even for Eeyore!

16 May 2013

Dented Confidence

Today I went to my first swim club practice - and I now sit here with mixed feelings. Well, to be honest I want to have a proper breakdown, drink a bottle of wine and eat a massive bar of Cadburys chocolate but since I have neither in the house I'll have to settle for natural yoghurt and a purging blog entry.....

'I am not a swimmer'. That's what goes through my head as soon as I put on my swimming costume. Back as a kid in Sweden I never learnt more than the breast stroke you had to learn to pass school - I simply wasn't all that interested in swimming and I probably wouldn't be now either if it wasn't for the fact that I want to do a triathlon. Last September I took up swimming in an attempt to get around to doing that triathlon and found I really quite liked it, but had forgotten just how hard it is to to be a complete beginner - and I'm not good at being a complete beginner....

Ever since I was a kid I've only ever liked to do things that I'm good at. My best friend Jenny can vouch for how I hated to paint as a kid, simply because I wasn't good at it. As a part of my Type A personality I struggle to wrap my head around the fact that I can't excel in everything, so if I don't excel I opt not to do that thing. I am, as they call it, 'achievement addicted' and just doing things for the sake of doing them doesn't really appeal to me

I don't excel in swimming. I know that Coach Martin would disagree with me, as I head him sing my praises and tell the club about my progress since last September, but with my standards I'm rubbish. Tonight I did an hour of practically continous swimming, being pushed fairly hard by tonight's club coach David, and when I left the pool I wanted to cry. Not because I was exhausted (although I was fairly tired) but because I hadn't exceeded my expectations. I knew I was being silly but knowing and feeling is two very different things....during the session I felt like I couldn't keep up with the people in my lane and was a bit stressed out about holding them up (which I didn't do) hence making swimming even harder. I couldn't understand how I can run a marathon in under 3h45min but struggle to swim 400 metres continously at a decent speed. Every breath I took didn't feel like it was big enough and I spent most of the hour feeling like an utter failure.

When I came down to the changing rooms and got some distance to the session I knew I shouldn't be so hard on myself. I'd previously never swum that much or that hard before. Swimming with (almost) only men will make you fall behind a bit, as they are physically stronger. On your first proper club practice you can't expect to keep up with people who swim three-four times as much as you do a week, especially not if you're a beginner swimmer like me. A lot of people couldn't do what I just did, but instead of thinking what I had done well I started comparing myself with really proficient swimmer during the session.

I left the gym with a massively dented confidence, but also very eager to get practicing to improve. Sitting in the sofa now, two hours later, I feel like I put in a good effort today and am very happy how much I've improved since September. I know that if I put in enough effort in becoming a good (or at least half decent) swimmer I can do it. I seem to forget that  when I first started running I was in no marathon shape - I had to work hard to finish my first marathon, just as I'm going to have to work hard with my swimming. Rome wasn't built in a day but I'm willing to get building.

It's All Quite Simple

15 May 2013

What Makes A Day Special?

This morning I read this list of things that makes a day special in Metro, as suggested by their readers. It made me think what made today special, for me:
1. A good set of intervals: This moning I ran intervals before work, 5x4min at 13k/h, with 2 minutes rest inbetween, then 2x2min at 14k/, with a minutes rest inbetween, and finally 2x1min 15k/h with a minutes rest inbetween. I felt strong and  my breathing wasn't esepcially laboured throughout - a perfect start to the morning!
2. A good breakfast: natural yoghurt, chopped nuts, a banana....delightful!
3. A lovely patient telling me I'm a great nurse: I take pride in my job and I always enjoy knowing people appreciate my efforts.
4. Finishing work before it's dark outside: for someone who frequently works to late it's such a treat.
5. Wearing jammies and watching a film in bed: a cup of tea and totally switching off from work and all the new responsibilities I've been given
What makes your day special?

I Love Lunges!

I love lunges. Squats are great, but lunges make my legs shake uncontrollaby, and I bloody love it.

So what's so great about lunges? Apart from the fact that it works multiple muscles it's also a one leg at a time, training one side of your body independantly for the other hence improving balance and coordination. Lunges (in good form) also increase hip flexor flexibility and improves the glute activation, as the position isolates and activates the glutes. When keeping your spine upright you also improve that all important core stability!

Have a look below to see some good quality lunges.

13 May 2013

Camp Northern Lights Marathon

Yesterday the 2013 Camp Northern Lights Marathon took place at the military base in Mazar-e Sharif. At Camp Northern Lights Swedish peace keeping soldiers are stationed and is the head camp for the Swedish part of ISAF. Swedes are a people that like to run and do other physical exertions hence arranging a marathon at the camp!

The camp is 250x250 meters so a lap within the protective walls of the camp measure 1k, meaning that to run the full marathon they had to run 42 laps. There were several different categories/races - a relay, a half marathon, the full marathon and even a 'lazy marathon' which means you could walk or run the 26 miles spread out on several occasions during a week. There was a hydration station that they passed on every lap, keeping the participants well hydrated. The winner, Sven Thelin, fininshed the race in 3:28:25 despite the temperature reaching 30C!

Here are some pictures from the race, taken by Kajsa Norman/FS24 (here's the link to their blog) and borrowed from the Marathonblog at SvD:

Relay changeover for the winning team (2:48:01)
The winner, Sven Thelin
Claes Jeppson finishing the halfmarathon
The winning relay team

12 May 2013

On My iPod Today

Well, obviously I'm not going to list every single song that I've got on my iPod but I thought I'd share my three favourites from my run today....:

1. Things We Lost In The Fire - Bastille. I'm slightly obssessed with this band at the moment, loving their debut album and all the videos of them doing amazing acoustic versions of their songs or brilliant covers of other people's songs. Thanks to having friends with good contacts I get to see them supporting Muse at Emirates Stadium later on this month and I'm actually more excited about seeing them than Muse....
2. Sea of Love - The National. I love love love The National, they're this amazing mix between hope and despair and one of the absolutely best live band I've ever had the pleasure to see. This is a song from their upcoming album Trouble Will Find Me and November feels way too far away (I have a ticket to see them play Alexandra Palace in November).
3. Get Lucky - Daft Punk. I know I know, everyone loves it - but that's just because it's so.damn.good! I instantly feel good and want to go out and paint the town red.

Get all of those songs onto your iPod now, you wont regret it.

What I Did This Sunday

Sunshine in London is always a bit of a rarity so you have to be on your toes and make the most of it every time this phenomenon occurs! Today I did my first longer run since the marathon two weeks ago, banking a neat 13 miles. The legs felt pretty good for most of the run, it was only the last few kilometers that reminded me off the last few days escapades.

I ran up along the lovely River Lea, passing Victoria park, the Olympic Park, Hackney Marshes, Springfield Marina and the rowers before turning back. It wasn't hot but I could probably have done with bringing some water with me but as usual I was to lazy to bother. I still haven't found a fluid belt I'm really happy with hence my reluctance to bring water -  it's just so damn uncomfortable running with the one I have and too warm to bring my running back pack and the water pouch. First world problems, I know....

11 May 2013

'Not Just Another Sport'

What a great video, hearing the professionals talking about highs and lows of the sport they love. It's (in want of a better word) encouraging to hear the members of Team Sky explain how they sometimes just can't hold on to the wheel in front of them, hearing how they also can have bad days - like us measly amateurs. Encouraging to hear them talk about how you sometimes have to trust that doing your best will be enough.

As I see it, that's applicable to life in general - especially for us people with Type A personalities. Sometimes you have to sit back and trust that you've done all you can do. Sometimes you also have to accept that it wont be enough, but that doesn't mean you give up. You keep trying, you keep pushing....you might fail, but that's alright. What's not alright is not even trying!

A Beginners Guide To Finishing Your First Race

The other day I got talking to a friend who was thinking of entering a bike race. Now, I have a lot of super fit friends who've done marathons, ridiculously long bike races and triathlons. But the friend I was talking to is not one of them, she's just getting back into the gym after long absence and was asking me if I thought she was crazy. Normally I'd be the first one to encourage any kind of crazy and challenging race but considering my friend's background I started thinking, and advising her, on how you go about completing a race when you're an absolute beginner and you've got to start from scratch with building up your fitness. Now, I'm absolutely no expert but thinking back on my first marathon I did give her some advice on how to tackle this inaugural race and here are the pointers that popped up in my head...:

* How much time and effort are you willing to put into this race? Are you willing to give up boozey nights and spend hours at a time training instead of chilling on the sofa? If the answer is no then maybe aim for a 5k race that you can get through without much training. If you're willing to make some sacrifices and put some real effort into it then aim higher!
* How much money are you willing to put into it? In the case of my friend she was thinking of a 100 mile bike race but without owning a bike she'd have to do some serious investing - a proper bike, helmet, cycling gear, shoes etc., all very pricey. Get help finding a good bike or good shoes, it's a necessary investment. If you're not loaded then maybe aim for a less challenging race and get yourself some second hand gear. It's not important that you have the most expensive clothing but I do suggest having purpose made clothing, when you start running or cycling for hours you'll be soon be pretty uncomfortable if the clothes are not breathable or rub of skin at sensitive areas.
* What are your fitness level like?  (Do you even like exercising, or do you do it because you 'have to'?) And what's your time frame for training before the race? If you're not very fit, then don't aim to do a massively challenging race in just a few months time. It'll hurt, it wont be fun and the chances are you wont be able to complete the race - or worse, you'll get injured! Train for life, but use the race as extra motivtion to start or get even better.

* What do you know about the sport you want to race in? Do you know how to train? I know not everyone are die hard fans of rigorous training plans (although I am) but if you're a complete beginner then maybe you should recruit some help - it can be a professional or a friend that's in the know. When I did my first marathon back in 2008 I followed a training programme by Swedish olympic marathoner Anders Szalkai and it was such a big help for a beginner that he's still fondly talked about back home in my parent's house. I also got a lot of advice from my uncle who used to run long distance when he was young, small titbits of informtion of training throughout the winter before the race, making me feel a lot more confident in my abilities and comforted by the knowledge that I wasn't 'in it alone'.
I'm sure there are hundreds more pointers and advice, more indepth and complete than the ones I've listed but these things here are the things you should think about before entering, so that you can chose a suitable race. With the right time frame, equipment and willingness to train you can do anything you set your mind to!

10 May 2013

Train Like Mo Farah

I bloody love Mo Farah.

If I am to recommend one website for you this week it's definitely Full Potential. Full Potential offers personal coaching for all runners, they arrange trips to races and training camps - and they also have a free Runclub! If you join the Runclub you get access to a database covering all things running and this week they've featured a series of core exercises from Mo Farah's coach Alberto Salazar, exercises to strengthen your core muscles. It's not your usual sit ups and planks, it's full body exercises to stabilize and strengthen that all important core.

So did I train like Mo Farah today? Weeell...I ran, so I guess that counts as training like Mo Farah. Today I did some 1k intervals and instead of my usual rigid routine I improvised a little. To tell the truth, I didn't really have a choice as the bloody fire alarm went off 20 minutes into my interval session and the whole gym had to evacuate! As much as I love firemen, they did disrupt my session. Anyway, to get back to my running I ran my first four intervals at 4 minutes 36 seconds/k pace, the following two at 4 min 26 seconds/k pace and the last one at 4 minutes 16 seconds/k pace, with a 2-3 minute long rest inbetween. Finishing off the set I wasn't dying, but I was tired and I felt like I'd done a good days work. I clocked 12k in total and was happy with my running considering my glutes and hamstrings are sore.

9 May 2013

Walk Like John Wayne.

That's what I'm going to be doing tomorrow, I can feel it already. In a sudden spur of energy early this morning I loaded on some extra weight on the bar and lunged like my life depended on it - that's the effect instructor Roo has got on you. She brings out the competitive streak in me (easily done, I'm fiercly competitive), making me challenge myself everyday but still with a smile on my face. I know it's not 'politically correct' to like Body Pump but for me personally Body Pump has made me enjoy lifting weights - and that has got to count for something.

As much as I love running/cycling, feeling completely exhausted after a session, working hard to take control or your laboured breathing and your pounding heart, there's a different sense of satisfaction after a proper tough weight session.....the way that the muscles burn and shake almost uncontrollaby. The sense of triumph when you can lift heavier than before, not to mention when you look yourself in the mirror and find a new muscles!

Tonight I'm knackered, partly from today's weight session, but mainly because work's been long and hard these last three days. I'm off tomorrow so tonight I'm allowing myself to properly unwind with a glass of wine, some chocolate and the glorious band Bastille.

Any Idiot Can Run....

6 May 2013

Tourist Running

Today my friend Zoe and I took advantage of the absolutely beautiful weather here and went for a run in the sunshine. We'd decided to try out a new route today and since we were not going for a really long run we settled for ticking off some Royal Parks.

We met at Camden, heading for Regent's Park first. After crossing that park we ran down Baker Street and towards Hyde Park. Hyde Park was full of runners, ramblers and riders adding to the holiday feel (it's a bank holiday here today!). From Hyde Park we continued onto Kensington Gardens, passing the beautiful Kensington Palace. Zoe was going to her parents after our run so we took aim for Waterloo, passing a heaving Buckingham Palace and crossing through St James's Park. On the last stretch we passed Houses of Parliament and then sprinted to Waterloo. Reaching Waterloo we'd done 14k, which was pretty much what we'd wanted to do. Zoe took the train to Wimbledon and I got on the tube, getting off at Bethnal Green and there adding another 2k to my run.

Neither of us had great legs to run on, mine were feeling a bit heavy and tired and Zoe struggled a bit with shin splints after having done a long trail run in Croatia just a few days ago, but today was more about enjoying running and enjoying the weather rather than training hard.When coming home I quickly showered and got on my bike and cycled down to Brixton where I met my friends at Brockwell Park, chilling in the sunshine before getting on my trusty Trek and cycling home.

As stated today was not about focused training, today was about the joy of movement - running and cycling!

The Orangery at Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace gardens

Buckingham Palace as seen from St James's Park

Military music

Mile End Park