30 Jun 2013

What Have I Done This Week?

3x Barry's boot camp

2x Body Pump

1x long run

1x short run

1x BOOM! Cycle

The training week's been good, life's been busy - hence the lack of blogging. This is what I've been doing instead....:

25 Jun 2013

Center of the Universe

Hands down my favourite running track at the moment. Ultimate guilty pleasure. Big tune. I absolutely love it!

24 Jun 2013

HIT Parachute

Swedish blogger Jeanna has tried a new product from Swedish company Casall - the HIT parachute! I now want one, would people look at me suspiciously if I cam running with this in central London?! I think I could make this look work for me....

23 Jun 2013

Make The Most Out Of Your Training

Swedish ski star Marcus Hellner talks about making the most of his training in beautiful surroundings, inspirational!

21 Jun 2013

This Beats The Gym Every Time

Power Zone

The boys at OzoneFit have created a functional training class, a kind of cross fit inspired circuit class. On Thursday we started our day taking on this admittedly very tough class. After a thorough warm up we were introduced to the first five exercises, with heavy focus on correct technique (something I can't praise enough!). The first exercise was box jumps, the second high pulls with kettle bells, the third the plank, the fourth was bicep curls plus overhead press with a sandbag, the fifth was the plank and the sicth and last exercise was squatting down, lifting up a heavy ball high over your head to then slam it down to the ground as hard as we could.
We worked for 30 seconds and rested for 30 seconds, working as hard as we could. This was repeated until we'd gone the full circle of exercises a few times Before changing some of the exercises and then continuing with our intervals. It was a tough, full body, workout, using functional exercises to really blast those muscles and get your heart rate up high - in short, right up my alley!

20 Jun 2013

Today I Ran Up A Mountain....

....and down again!

Well, first we trekked from Playitas to Gran Tarajal and had lunch, then fellow Swede Chris and myself ran back with Coach Rob over the mountain and down! For someone who is a) scared of heights and b) as light on the foot as an elephant it felt like a huge achievement to manage the run both up and down without falling on fainting. I might not have had the best form but as Rob said I showed 'plenty of enthusiasm'.....

Express Yourself

The ex-Royal Marine and the ex-paratrooper joining into the street dance class. What's the moral of the story?! Don't limit yourself!

18 Jun 2013

Go Hard Or Go Home

Today's been an intense day at Playitas. Rob had us up at 7.30am for an hour of Military Fitness before breakfast, and it was bloody brilliant! I've done some bootcamp before but this was just on another level, in everything from the exercises we did to the coaching we got. My two favourite parts were firstly when we were doing decline pushups on the beach, easing a little bit more into the sea for every set we did, only to be comepletely soaked  during the last. My second favourite part was when we were doing hill sprints up a trail on a mountain - so hard, yet so rewarding!
After breakfast we had a bricktraining session, starting with a 15 minute biking session where we were meant to push ourselves at roughly 80% of maximum heartrate. We then got off the bike and did a timed 4k run on the seafront, to then head back to the bikes for another 15 minute session before finishing off with a second 4k tempo run. I pushed myself well on the runs, partly thanks to Coach Mark giving me updates on the time and then sprinting the last 500 metres with me on both runs!
With lunch taken care off, and some pool time done, we headed to the gym for almost an hour of essential core sessions with Mark that had us all sweating, panting and working hard. My body now feels pretty mushy, having been worked out thoroughly - what a great feeling! The only downside with these Ozone Fit guys being all awesome is that I'm getting very spoilt and I'm not particularly looking forward to go back to London and not have their support and coaching.....
A brick session with a view 

17 Jun 2013

Right Now, I'm Loving Life

Yea, that's right - I'm having a great time! I'm spending my times being drilled by ex-Royal Marine/advanced instructor Rob and ex-paratrooper/PTI Mark from Ozone Fit. Well, we don't only work our butts off, some of us (read: Rob, Mark and I) also frequents the hotel bar at late nights....but mainly we work hard!

Yesterday we kicked off the day with a bleep test...now for those of you who don't know what that is it's a test that's used to estimate the athletes VO2-max. You run between two points, 20 metres apart,  and have to complete each run within set intervals- The intervals are indicated by a beep and thoughout the test the interval between the beeps shortens, forcins you to run quicker. I'm not going to lie to you, it's really bloody hard! Coach Rob gave us loads of tips and tricks before starting on how to conserve/not waste energy so that you would be able to keep up with the bleeps for as long as possible. The first few stages are easy and the whole group completed them, but after that some people strted dropping out (it's people of varying fitness attending this week) until there was only one person still running - yours truly! Rob was running with me, as he had from the beginning to help us pace ourselves, and he pushed and helped me to reach level 12 when I missed a few beeps and was out. I was a little bit annoyed with myself as I felt I could have pushed myself a little bit harder but once the lactic acid takes its grip over your legs it's hard...

After that we did a great core session, with lots of tweaking of our technique and lots of great exercises, until it was lunch time where Clair, Ian and myself hit a lovely little seaside restaurant. In the afternoon we had a technique session in the gym and a little circuit. Yet again Rob was absolutely brilliant (there's just nothing he doesn't know, I tell you!), showing us basic, full body, exercises. We ended the day with a beach volleyball game, which was great fun and most people went from the court dusty and with abs aching from laughing so much. The day ended with a good nutrition workshop with Coach Mark where the moral of the story was 'be conscious of what you eat, but remember to live as well' - right up my alley!

Today we started the day with running up to the lighthouse behind the hotel/resort. In my naivety I'd pictured it as an easy run but it was pretty much 7k uphill....steep uphill even! The other Swede in the group, Chris, and I set off at a decent pace (for uphill running that is) and soldiered up the various hills. It was an absolutely stunning run and I was enjoying a good hilly run after all the flat running I've done in east London lately. When we had about a mile or so left Rob caught up with us (he's a machine...) and ran with us the last stretch until we reached the lighthouse. Now, the last kilometer was tough and proper steep and Chris left to finish of strongly. Rob stayed with me and coached me up the last climb, and I don't know if I could have done it without him! He reminded me of my breathing technique, running economy and helped me visualize the hill in different stages hence tricking me into running the whole thing. My legs were like jelly when I reached the top but the view was worth it! We had a bit of a rest before we headed down again on tired legs. Chris, Rob and I kept up a good pace and let our legs do their own thing and speed up downhill, making use of the gradient.

In the afternoon we had a kind of foamrolling session, but using a tennisball. Coach Mark was great and started off with a  mobility and stretch session before torturing us with the tennisball. The sounds, moans and grunts that escaped various people had us all in stitches but the muscles that were soooo tired after that tough run felt pretty good afterwards. Clair and I then set off to the gym for a short session, utilizing the new knowledge we had from the day before whilst other people chose to go and rest.

In short - I love it here! I'm here with a great group of people and the training we're doing is varied and fun, yet top notch. Coaches Rob and Mark are full of knowledge and I'm constantly learning new things. Life is good.....!

15 Jun 2013

Hellooooooo Playitas!

So today I arrived at a warm and sunny Playitas resort, having left a rainy London behind. I'm here for an Outdoor Fitness Week but since it all kicks off tomorrow I mainly spent this afternoon chilling on the beach.....I did go to the pool though, to try and practice my front crawl today. During those 45 or so minutes I might not have turned into Ian Thorpe but I did realise that swimming's meant to be done on a sunny island outside the coast of Africa.

13 Jun 2013

On My iPod

I'm officially off work until the 24th of June now, and I'm spending that time off by going to Playitas Resort for on Outdoor Fitness Week. Crazy? No, I'm not crazy - my mother had me tested. Right now I'm trying to pack (scrap that. I'm not even trying - I just think that I should be trying to pack....) whilst listening to a slightly eclectic mix of songs. Today I did a Body Pump session and tomorrow I'm resting before flying out to Fuerteventura on Saturday.

This is what I got on my iPod right now...

Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke

My God is the Sun - Queens of the Stone Age

The National's Tiny Desk Concert

12 Jun 2013

Legs Officially Dead

In preparation for the Ride London race I'm doing I went to BOOM! Cycle today for a 2 hour session with Coack Mark and pro triathlete Daz. Having had all day off and done pretty much nothing my legs felt pretty good when I mounted my trusty Trek and headed to the studio. When I booked myself into the class there was only one bike left, bike 38....right in the back! Now, as the OCD person I am I always like to sit on the right side of the room, on the second or third row, and lovely Rob had moved me to my favourite bike, 12, when that one became availible so I really didn't have any excuse whatsoever to not work hard for 120 minutes.

Today Coach Mark and Daz had decided to treat us to a form of compressed reversed periodisation, meaning that instead of doing a mainly aerobic hour to start with, only to smah our legs to bits in the second half, we did the opposite! Mark took the reins in the first hour, made us climb three hills (one easy, one medium, one hard) and added intervals.....lots of intervals. Speed intervals, endurance intervals, aerobic intervals, near death experience intervals - you name it, we did it. The least three songs of Mark's hour were nothing but brutal and my legs felt like they were made out of lactic acid.

I was pretty much dead after that first hour, so the second one wasn't easy despite being mainly aerobic. The threshold work Daz had us do was downright painful, especially since we did fairly long stretches of time without changing position. I tried to tough it out though, and not give in to the temptation of slowing my RPM or easing off the resistance, and when we were done I was tired with a capital T but also happy to see that go hard for a long time. My legs responded well and mentally I felt pretty strong. When I was leaving the studio Coach Mark said I looked 'strong as an oxe' despite me saying I was feeling like I was dying halfway through.....maybe I should take up poker?!

What I Do On My Day Off

Do You Feel Stressed?

I think we all have them on our social media sites, those people who don't seem able to go to the gym without posting about it on their wall. If we're (un)lucky we'll also get a selfie from the locker room and some of us will definitely get a guilty conscience for not exercising. In today's society where we get instant access to our friends (and enemies) lives via The Internet it's easy to feel stressed out. Look at all those people who have a great life, doing great things, with their great other halves, in their great houses and on their great holidays. It can be opressing and depressing, making your own life seem lacking in comparison, but what's important to remember is that people chose what to show you. They chose to show off that happy photo of themselves and their spouse, but 'conveniently' omits showing that argument they had about some petty thing half an hour after the photo was taken. In short, we only see what other people wants us to see, and in most cases it's a (falsely) positive portrayal of their lives (apart from my brother-in-laws cousing who constantly posted about her gastritis, to the point where my brother-in-law actually considered un-friending her).

It's the same thing with people who posts excessively about their exercising habits. From my experience it's the people who don't exercise that much that posts the most about it, while my friends who runs ultra marathons, competes in triathlons, are crossfit beasts or incredibly flexible and strong yogis don't feel the need to prove themselves. Instead of spending time 'bragging' about their exercising habits they just do it. They don't feel like hey have to prove themselves, which seem to be the case with people who can't go to the gym if they can't check-in on Facebook. Of course it can be motivating to hear about someone who's just done a crazy WOD and I've myself had people saying to me how their goal is to be able to run a 13 mile run after I've posted about it on Facebook., but it can also be stressful, hearing  how busy people are managing to squeeze in exercise while you yourself are just about keeping your head over water with work and family life. It can add to feelings of inadequacy, add to the guilt you feel for not using that gym membership as uch as you'd want to, but this is also when you need to remember that you only see what people want you to see - you don't see them posting about missing the gym for 10 days running when/if that happens.....

As I've spoken about before on this blog the key to fit training into a busy life is to prioritize, and whilst I fully stand by that, I also think that the stress that comes out of comparing your life to other people's lives is toxic. Instead of comparing your life to other peoples lives and finding it lacking, you should sit back and evaluate your life. Are you happy the way your life is? Maybe you hate the gym? Being an advocate for all the positive benefits of physical activities I wouldn't sit here and just tell you to scrap it all but maybe you need to find an activity that you like and can fit in as and when you're able to? Stop thinking about what you should do, and instead do things you want to. Exercise because you want to invest in your health, not because you feel stressed about the upcoming 'Beach 2013' - and last but not least, try not to be stressed out by the warped social media personas of your friends!

11 Jun 2013

Ride London

I have been invited to join BOOM! Cycle's relay team for the Ride London  race. I'll be covering 25 of the 100 miles, alongside a pro triathlete, so now I need to do some serious cycling. This is my first ever cycle race, and to say I'm nervous would be a massive understatement, but I just can't resist a challenge. So keep your fingers crossed for me on August 4th....

8 Jun 2013

Quality vs Quantity.

Yesterday I went to Barry's Bootcamp before work where instructor Olly worked us hard. Alternating between the treadmill and the floor/weights he had us doing burpees, hill sprints, push ups, bicep curls, overhead squats, tempo runs, mountain climbers, sprints with the Woodway treadmills in dynamic mode (allowing the treadmill to run non-motorized) and more. It was a tough and thorough, high quality, hour-long session.

Today I went to BOOM! Cycle for Coach Mark's turbo cycle class and the hills, time trials and speedwork.I'd earlier this morning done Roo's fantastic Body Pump at Baker Street and my legs felt a bit sore already and Coach Mark smashed them to pieces with his hardcore cycle session. I think I'm a pretty fit person, until halfway into a Coach Mark class, when my heart is about to get dislodged from my chest and my legs are made of nothing but lactic acid.

Both Barry's Bootcamp and BOOM! Cycle charges around £15-20 per class and several times I've heard people's gasping in horror when I tell them this. They can't seem to wrap their heads around why anyone would pay that 'much' for an exercise class, while I'm of the opposite opinion - I'd rather pay a bit more money for a top quality class, where the people attending are there to work hard and the actual place is top notch than having the cheapest gym membership out there and not getting the quality gym time I want. If I chose to give my hard earned money to a gym, I want it to be good and if I chose to hit the gym at 6am I want to know it'll be worth it. Good quality classes also give you more bang for your buck, it's as easy as that!

I Shape Me

6 Jun 2013

Take What You Need

Take what you need in life, don't wait for someone to give it to you.

5 Jun 2013

Excuses Excuses

This morning I tried getting out of my morning run using all the excuses above. It was early, it was cold, my legs hurt after yesterday's Body Pump session and I did stay up too late last night but I decided that they were all moot points. I had to get up and shower anyway if I wanted to take the tube, it was cold but I'd feel warmer once I started to run, my legs would feel after a run and it was too late to change the fact that I'd stayed up late the night before.

So off I went, at what felt like a very leisurely pace. I stably regretted my choice of clothes (short shorts and a t-shirt...) as the wind was pretty cruel but it did wake me up. My legs felt like lead and there was no excess energy in my body but I just decided to think of it as a slow recovery run.

I reached the hospital 57 minutes after I started, having covered 10.1k, and happy that I hadn't succumbed to one of the above excuses. It wasn't a great run, but at least I did run. The only workout you regret is the one that didn't happen!

Why Do You Run?

I run because it makes me feel fit, free an fabulous. I run to get to places and I run to get away from things. I run to push myself and to indulge myself. I run to make every day count.

Today it's National Running Day. Why do you run?

4 Jun 2013

Ride Central

I saw this TfL safety tip for cyclists in yesterday's Metro and this is something I stand by 110%. Dare to take up space on the road, cyclists - it's a matter of safety! Be considerate and streetwise but don't let drivers bully you to get too close to the side of the road, you've got as much right to be on the road as they have. Remember, there's no such thing as road tax.

Go Bananas!

Today when I was browsing various blogs I came across this brilliant picture, of a guy running last weekends Stockholm Marathon dressed as a gorilla! Now, a marathon is pretty tough (you do run 26.2 miles, after all) and imaging the effort it takes to run it in a gorilla suit whilst lugging around a cage!?! Impressive work (and a funny read, if you know swedish) from Swedish guy Per who runs far and writes the blog Harder Better Faster Stronger (where I've also borrowed the picture above).

3 Jun 2013

Top Notch Monday

Today was another Coach Martin Monday. I was off today and after the disppointment of not getting a ticket for the Queens of the Stone Age gig at Rough Trade east I needed something to bring me back to awesome. I had booked myself into both Martin's classes at BOOM! Cycle so I had 45 + 60 minutes of tough, road cyling inspired, spinning to get through.

The first class consisted of 4 above threshold intervals and then a 10 minute climb, working from aerobic to anaerobic over 10 minutes. After the 10 minute break between the classes it was the 60 minute class, based on three hills - the 10 minute extended warm up hill, the medium hard second 10 minute climb and then finally a tough 20 minute hill where we worked in intervals of 30secs under and over threshold then 1 minute under/over threshold, varying between standing and sitting for the different intervals. My legs felt great throughout the sessions and during the last 20 minute climb I felt like I could push myself hard without loading my legs with too much lactic acid.

So what did/do I love so much about these class(es)? I love how the class is structured, with a clear aim for each class - to become a better athlete. It's not just 'pedal as fast as you can' or 'put on as much resistance as you an' but a focus on the correlation between cadence and resistance, getting the most out of what you put in. It's disciplined and no nonsense, Martin tells you it's going to be tough so accept it and give it your all - if you want to be comfortable, stay in the sofa.

Finally today I will recommend the following:

Song of the Day
This Blog Post from the great gals at Lunges & Lycra
These banana pancakes from Be Pretty Fit

Pic from Be Pretty Fit (mine didn't look this stylish, but the taste was great!)

Current Favourites

There are two recurring themes in my life - I'm constantly washing my workout clothes and I'm constantly in a hurry. My latest bid in buying myself more time is using the Nivea In-Shower Moisturiser. Instead of faffing around with body lotion or body butter after you've stepped out of the shower, you apply the in-shower moisturiser after you've washed, rinse it off, then you dry off and voila! You're done! It leaves your skin soft without sticking to your clothes as normal body lotion does when you don't have time to wait for it to be absorbed....

My second solution to my life problems in Halo Sports Wash. You know that particular smell that lycra can get after some time?! The clothes smell alright just after washing but when you start sweating a little bit of odour appears?! Lycra is problematic as you can't wash it in very high temperatures without the elasticity disappearing but Halo Sports Wash removes the bacteria in the clothing that make them smell even in low temperatues. So far I've used it 3-4 and I am very happy with the result, as the odour-phobic I am.

2 Jun 2013

Things I Do When I Don't Train

Breakfast in the sunshine with great friends

World War Z premiere and free Muse gig

1 Jun 2013

Testing Testing: Barry's Bootcamp

Have you lot heard of Barry's Bootcamp? It's one of those celebrity workouts you hear about, also branded as the 1000 Calorie Workout. Situated on Euston road in a basement it has one of those hip and slightly industrial vibes (a bit like BOOM! Cycle) which I, admittedly, am a bit of a sucker for.

I booked myself in for a 7.30am class, as I've got things planned for later today, hence dragging myself up out of bed at 6am on a day off....my one thought when siting half asleep on the Hammersmith & City line, with my coffee cup in a firm hold, was 'this better be good'! It was easy to find the gym and the receptionist that met me was lovely and helpful, giving me a little tour and a quick explanation of what was going to happen. The changing rooms weren't massive (3 showers) but the showers were verrrry nice and had Malin & Goetz toiletries and lockers that you locked with a code of your own choice (no padlocks or keycards, yay!).

As I sat waiting outside the studio instructor Sandy came and explained the concept later, taking care to learn your name (and use it for the whole of the class, which is not only a nice personal touch but it also makes you work harder as the directions are pointed right at you), and explaining how the treadmills worked. Now, those treadmills made a runners heart sing with joy! The make is Woodway and for someone that's used to using Fitness First's ratty old treadmills they were just heaven to run on. There were also work/strength stations that were already set up so we only complemented with an elastic band and a mat to lie on.

The class was divided into cardio and strength blocks, 10 minutes each. We kicked off with a 10 minute running session with an interval format and Sandy gave us three options for pace - beginner, intermediate and advanced. The treadmills were set to miles, which confused a person brought up in a rigid metric system - but it also made me run quicker than I thought I could! When I did some of the sprints I found myself running at 10miles an hour, which is roughly 16k an hour - normally when I run my (longish) sprints I do them at 15k an hour!

After the first running session the pulse was up and the strength session begun - triceps! We worked in 60 second blocks and started with tricep pushups at our designated station. Triceps pushups are my nemesis and I had to do some of them on my knees (rather than carry on win a shitty technique) and for the triceps dips I tries to work to fail before shaking my arms and carry on. After five minutes we swapped to biceps, standing on our steps and using the elastic bands we'd fastened on our steps to do curls, uppercuts and so on....after that my arms felt like jelly!
Then we were back on the treadmills for a hill interval block (and I love hill intervals!). It was tough, as we increased both incline and speed at 60 second intervals and finished off the ten minutes with a decent sprint uphill - awesome!
Next we worked our core, doing side planks, both static and dynamic. During the lengthy planks my shoulders got really tired but I did as Sandy told us and worked until fail then stopped and waved my arm around a little before getting at it again. Getting back on the treadmill for the third and final time was a little bit of a struggle but the last block was slightly shorter. It was speed work for 5/6 minutes and we finished off with going flat out for 60 seconds.
Last but not least worked legs with our elastic bands doing kickbacks, leg raises and other devilish things until our legs buuuuuurned. For someone who prides herself on having pretty strong legs (I can easily squat repeatedly at body pump with 37.5kg for six minutes) it hurt pretty badly! The whole session was finished off with a bit of a relaxation/stretch thingymanjiggy and although it wasn't perfect it was longer and more thorough that for instance the cool down at a Body Pump class. I left the studio dripping win sweat but with a big grin of my face - that session was right up my alley. Tough, challenging and with lots of encouragement. 
Do I think this work??! Hell yeah, it a full body session crammed into 60 effective minutes and although you won't build big muscles you'll get toned and strong. There are different sessions to chose from, full body, arms + core etc but they all have the cardio element (with the kind of High Intensity Interval Training I love!). For overall fitness I definitely recommend it and I will definitely go back - I've already almost decided I go for the academy option in August (a session a day at a set time, Monday - Friday for a month). I thought the instructor was great, explaining what we were doing in a calm and thorough way, but he didn't waste any time and kept us working hard (no slacking, brilliant).The one minus I can think of is that the studio was quite warm and for someone who already sweats like the monsoon season it made it a very wet session....

Now I'm sitting at a cafe and having a distinct problem lifting my arms - I don't want to think about how I'll feel tomorrow haha! Barry's Bootcamp: truly recommended!