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No Keswick to Barrow 2012 for Scrib.

2 May

For the past few months I’ve been in the ‘Runners injury circle’. Whats this?

Its the situation I found myself in when trying to train for the 2012 London marathon and describes the loop you can get into trying to train with injury.

The more you train the more your injuries niggle. The less you train the more you worry about if you are ready for the event!

There comes a point, in some cases (and in my case), where its just best to throw in the towl and take some time off just to let your body repair properly.

Because of this I’ve decided to take a month off running after completing the 2012 London marathon. Normally two to three weeks would be sufficient for this type of repair break, but I’ve decided on a month due to various injury and medical reasons.  I’ll still be doing some running related activities, stretching and foam rolling to keep things ticking over, but no actual running.

So its no Keswick to Barrow this year for me! Which I’m actually going to really miss!

A huge ‘Good luck’ to everyone who is walking, or running it this year and enjoy your 42 miles. I’ll hopefully see you next year as I have a personal best to beat!

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Running while away? No excuse here!

27 Oct

I’m drawing to the end of a week away from home due to a work trip. Its been an interesting  week, with busy days and early nights, but at least my running – or to be more accurate – at least my keeping fit hasn’t suffered.

Living in a hotel for any length of time can be a challenge, when it’s not a holiday trip. The first day or so can be a little exciting with the change of scenery, pace, people and getting to know your surroundings. However, this can quickly wear thin and you are left counting the days until you return home again.

I don’t go away all that often, but I’ve found that my attitude has totally changed from a few years ago when I was totally unfit. What do I mean? OK here are some examples:

Food: You can easily eat a lot more than usual whilst away, and the food tends to be a lot richer than you might normally eat. Theres also the temptation of spending as much of that daily allowance as you can, which again, can result in taking in far too many calories, much more than your body needs.

For me the real killer used to breakfast! A few years ago I’d go mad on the cooked breakfast pretty much everyday. And we’re not talking small portions here. When I finally got fit I suddenly realised that eating loads of food wasn’t making me any happier, in fact it did the opposite, when I realised how much weight I’d put on. Nowadays my hotel breakfast will be a glass of OJ, fruit and yoghurt and a cup of coffee/tea. I enjoy this much more than eating the fatty slop alternative and you feel like you’ve accomplished something by looking after yourself. ‘Good stuff in, good stuff out and all that!’.

Exercise: Even in my fatty days I used to get quite a lot of exercise in whilst I was away simply by walking everywhere. Quite a few trips were to London and walking was a great way to see the sites and explore in the evenings after work. Nowadays I carry on that tradition and always make sure I book a hotel that’s far enough away from my trips work destination to give me a good walk. For this trip, for example, I have a car with me, that I used to travel to the hotel from home. However, the car has stayed firmly in the hotel car park and I have walked from the hotel to work instead of driving, which is about a 6 mile round trip. See my ‘Why drive when you can walk to work‘ post.

Would driving be quicker – Hell yes! If I drove would I get a sleep in – Yes, about an extra hour a day!

So why walk? Simple, I enjoy it, it gets me out, it keeps me fit, it clears your head and sets you up for the day. The return walk is also a great way to unwind and I often look forward to it. A lot better than sitting in a car! There also the obvious environmental benefits to leaving the car behind also. We all need to do our bit don’t we!

I’ve also learned that when booking a hotel to always try and find one with a gym. As some of ScribsBlog regular visitors know I normally hate gym’s and much prefer the great out doors, but they do have there uses on occasion. Its also a bonus if you can get a hotel with a gym and swimming pool.

I’ve said before, in previous posts, I always take my running kit with me when going away (work, holiday, etc), and this is also the case on this trip. But due to a potential oncoming knee injury I’ve purposely reduced my running this week and mixed up my exercise between walking (daily), running (back from work to hotel) and using the hotel gym and swimming pool (daily). This has been a good mix and has worked out well to help sort out my knee. Don’t get me wrong, I would have much preferred to do more running and explore the area, but I also don’t want to exacerbate the knee. So this week has been a sort of rest from running and more walking, elliptical equipment in the gym and swimming.

So remember, just because you are away from home doesn’t mean you can’t keep yourself in shape. Eat sensibly and use the time to your advantage. Try and get a hotel a few miles away from your destination and walk or use the hotel gym and/or swimming pool.

The only person stopping you is you!

Scrib.

Running baby steps – Part 2.

8 Oct

Baby Harry running

I did a brief blog post a while back about ‘Running Baby steps‘ and after talking to someone in the Runnersworld forums, who had just taken up running to loose weight, I wanted to add some more meat to the subject, based on my own experiences from when I started out a few years ago.

I won’t go over my weight loss and get fit story again (but if you’re interested read my story via the Runkeeper blog, who did my story, or read the older posts in ScribsBlog) but I took up running to loose weight and it worked as I went from 14 stone to 11. The one thing I remember, and it brought the memories flooding back after talking to the newby runner, was what it was like to start running!

O MY GOD! I look back now at my early running attempts and I can still see myself running (or perhaps to be fair ‘wobbling’) down the street, reaching the end (it wasn’t far, perhaps less than quarter of a mile) and having to sit down, exhausted! If you’d told me then that I could run a half marathon or a 40 mile event I’d have politely told you to stop taking the mickie as that was impossible for someone of my physical stature!

But I did it, and I did do those things but, and there’s a lesson coming, it took time, patience and work!

We are ‘lucky’ enough to live in a society where we’re used to things being done for us with little input on our parts – the ‘instant society’ as I call it. Can you imagine life without your car, washing machine, dish washer, etc and having to perform the functions those items do ‘manually’. It might take a little longer to do the laundry and lets face it, all we have to do today is load the machine, put in the detergent and press the ‘ON’ button. Can you imagine washing each item of clothing by hand?! Unfortunately getting fit has no short cuts and that is what puts people off.

The future instant Fitness Pod?

The machine doesn’t exist – yet – where we can walk in, select our fitness level, press ‘GO’ and we’re instantly transformed into the selected body configuration. To be honest would you want such a machine? Yes it sounds like a great idea but such a device would miss one important side effect of doing it the ‘old fashioned way’ and that is the sense of achievement when you’ve completed your chosen fitness session and you think ‘YES!’.

Getting fit takes work, patience and determination (sweat, blood, tears!). Obviously the more unfit you are the more work will be involved but the sense of achievement can be a driving force for your motivation. I gave up a number of times, but looking back I know why:

  1. I tried to do too much, and expected to become fit almost over night:  There’s the ‘instant society’ attitude for you. There was zero chance of running 10 miles on my first trip out and I expected too much to soon.
  2. I then gave up too quickly & didn’t give it a chance: As soon as it became hard, with no instant results, I gave up.
  3. Self doubt: I thought I couldn’t get fit because it was just too hard! “Being fit just isn’t for me”, “I can’t do it!”, “I’m not built for it!”.

The above three ‘failure’ points are interesting in the fact that they feed and lead into each other. One leads to two, leads to three and BANG you’ve failed. Fix point one and two becomes less of a threat, which in turn annihilates point three! Do this and you’ve got a much better chance to achieve your goal.

We’ve all know someone (or done it ourselves) who has bought a load of new fitness kit only to give up a few sessions later – I talk more about this in my ‘Running Kit‘ blog post. I’ve done exactly the same thing myself, I remember buying a weight bench and dumbbells some years ago. The bench came flat packed so I spend a few hours one Sunday afternoon putting it together. Once finished I stood back and admired my hand work. That was the last time I ever touched the bench or dumbbells, until I sold them. Just because you have the kit, or an expensive pair of running shoes it doesn’t make you an instant runner, muscle man, super fit person, etc (‘instant society’ again).

So how do we fix this? How did I fix it and pushed through to loose the weight and more importantly keep it off? Easy, although hindsight is a great thing!

B A B Y   S T E P S !

What the heck are “Baby steps?”.

A baby does not learn to walk straight away, it takes time and patient (sound familiar?). One step leads to another, to another, to another and before you know it little junior is walking. Its the same with getting fit. What would happen if you tried to get a baby to walk across a room before they were ready? They would fall, fail, possibly with tears.

Instead of trying to go for long runs I set myself goals of short runs and built them up slowly. Try it!

Remember, before taking any exercise, if you are not used to it, if you feel you might have medical difficulties talk to your doctor BEFORE hand!

Start off with a small five – ten minute walk. Do this three to seven times a week, perhaps do it instead of taking the car to the shop down the street? After a couple of weeks increase the speed and time of the walk. As you get used to it keep increasing the speed/time/distant. Try to throw in some hills and different terrain to your route. After four to six weeks of doing this try breaking out into a slow jog. Perhaps mix in a burst of jogging with your walking. One good idea is to walk for 10 minutes and run for 1 minute and keep repeating. Over time increase the jogging time and you’ll soon find you can jog for longer as your body becomes stronger and fitter. Keep this up until you can run for 100% of your activity. Don’t forget to mix up your route so you don’t get board of the same surroundings.

Notice that I didn’t suggest you start running straight away. That’s one of the key lessons I learnt. I started by walking to work, which was about a 6 mile round trip. I did this two-three times a week and increased my walking speed, over time, as I got fitter. I then extended the route on the way home to increase the mileage. After doing this for a few months I started to run in the evenings and found the transition a LOT easier than if I’d tried to run from day one.

Build it up, take baby steps. Yes we can all be impatient at times, but do you want to fail or achieve? You’ve not super man and you need to build up your body and to do that you’ve got to take baby steps. I did and it worked out for me after numerous failures.

Good luck,

Scrib.

Why drive when you can walk to work?

24 May

I was walking to work this morning. It was a fresh clear morning, the sun was coming up and the birds singing. It was a bit breezy, but otherwise a pretty nice start to the day! Soon, as I made my way along the road towards work, Runkeeper announced the second mile and I heard a ‘beep’ as someone I knew drove past on their way to the same destination. Waves and ‘good morning’ nods were exchanged as they drove past. People know not to stop and offer me a lift anymore, as in the past I have thanked them for the offer but explained that walking to work and walking/running home was part of my exercise routine.

Towards the end of my journey, as I approached the steps to take me over the dock bridge, I pondered why people, who worry about their weight and/or fitness, drive to work when they could easily walk. I walk to work out of choice because it’s free exercise and it helps keep me fit! I tried the gym years ago, but the only pounds I seemed to loose were £’s and I quickly got board. I purposely don’t own a second car so I don’t get tempted to cheat (it also helps me feel like I’m doing my bit for the environment).

I much prefer to walk/run or cycle to work and back, why? As I said, not only is it free exercise, it gets you out in the fresh air, helps clear your head (especially after a hard day at work), gives you a buzz and the feeling that you’ve done ‘something’ fitness related without really going out of your way. I mean, you have to go to work anyway, right? So you’re in affect killing two birds with one stone.

Of course the downside is that it takes longer, in some cases. My walk is a shade under three miles and it takes me about 40 – 45 minutes each way. Running isn’t normally that much quicker because I normally take a longer route to bump up the miles, but running the same route takes me about 15-20 minutes. Cycling can take about ten minutes, depending on wind and road conditions, but again I like to take a longer scenic route along the coast, if time allows. I’ve also noticed that cycling is not much slower than driving, once you take into account that you don’t get as suck in traffic jams as much and you can cycle pretty up to the office door (in my case) rather than parking in a car park and then walking the final stretch to your desk.

Now, we all live busy lives and some people can’t afford the extra time it takes to get to work under your own steam. For example,  the dash from dropping the kids at school to getting into work on time. Others live way to far away from work for it to be practical although, I do know some people to cycle 8+ miles each way to work every day! Rain or shine!

But keep in mind that if you are in the position where you could simply get up a little earier and walk into work and/or walk home again, then give it a go. You’ll feel good for it, especially once your fitness levels increase.

If you commute to work on the bus/train/tube, if feasible, get off a stop or two earlier and walk the rest of the way.

Oh, and the old ‘its raining’ excuse. Get yourself some waterproof trousers and jacket. Personally I enjoy walking in the rain, its only water!

Give it a go, what have you got to loose? It might not be your thing, but at least try it.

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