Dymchurch Marathon 2015 Training: Week 4

Yesterday, I started to write a post about how I haven’t been slacking off, but that post was flatter than a can of Coke that had been left open for three weeks and so I spared you all and deleted it.

However, in case you’d been wondering – what with the lack of marathon training updates – if I had been slacking, then I’m here to tell you that no, I haven’t. Whoop.

But (you knew there was a ‘but’ coming, didn’t you?), I probably should confess that I’ve ignored the Wednesday runs my schedule has down for me but, as far as I’m concerned, it’s not possible to slack off something you had no intention of doing in the first place.

Anyway, so now I’ve confessed to not slacking, I’m going to confess to not slacking again. I really didn’t fancy a 5 mile run today, so I asked Twitter if I could go to the gym instead and Twitter – bless it and all who Tweets in it – replied.

That was good enough for me (although the only weakness I could see the gym highlighting for me was my ‘slacking off to the gym’ weakness*). This next reply was also good enough for me:

and the confirmations I wasn’t a slacker just kept coming:

and so off I skipped to the gym, happy in my heart that I wasn’t a slacker. But… then… oh no… Twitter must have been broken because it was letting Tweets disagreeing with me through, like this one:

and this one (although this was more encouraging than disagreeing):

but it was too late – I’d already been to the gym. While I was there though, I did 20 minutes on the rowing machine, 15 minutes on the treadmill and 5 miles on the cross-trainer and, seeing as those 5 miles were the 5 miles I was supposed to run, I’m considering this valid marathon training.

*’weakness’ reminded me of this scene from Trainspotting. (Please note I am not advocating a) taking speed before a job interview; or b) telling an interviewer your weakness is that you’re a perfectionist. If you do that, you’re a nincompoop.) 

Try a Box of Tribe Snacks for Just £1!

#inspiredrunning

Will run for pizza

Tribe recently ran a 10-day #InspiredRunning campaign which involved asking over 5,000 runners what inspires them to run. A team of 50 Tribe runners also spent the early mornings and evenings in running hot-spots around London, asking runners to let Tribe know, in one word: “What inspires you to run?”

Tribe also asked a few bloggers to join in by writing down on a piece of card one word explaining why we run and then taking a selfie of said piece of card. I must have been in an exceptionally good mood or, perhaps, drunk when I agreed to this, but the more likely explanation is that I just wanted the box of healthy snacks they promised me.

Still, a deal’s a deal and so after coming back from a run one morning, I decided to take my selfie. Then I looked in the mirror and disguised myself in a hat and a pair of sunglasses, as you can see in the photo at the top of this post.

Tribe subscription box

Tribe subscription box (there was also a packet of baobob but I had that before taking the pic)

Of course, I don’t just run for pizza. I will also run for wine, chocolate, crisps and boxes of healthy snacks like the ones Tribe do. You can choose from a weekly, fortnightly or monthly subscription and each box contains four Tribe health snacks, one Discover Health snack, nutrition and training tips and invitations to Tribe events.

Tribe healthy snacks subscription box

Tribe leaflet telling you stuff about stuff

Special offer: Try a box of Tribe snacks for just £1

A weekly subscription to Tribe usually costs £6.50 but if you’d like to try Tribe for just £1, go to the Tribe website and enter the code CATHYTRIBE at the checkout (selfies optional).

Giveaway: Win a Roll of Kinesio Tex Gold Tape

Kinesio Tex Gold Tape

Kinesio Tape

You probably know what Kinesio tape is – it’s that tape that sportspeople wear and, although I’ve only ever seen it worn around the knees (purely because I don’t watch any kind of sport on the television and so the only people I see doing any kind of sporting activity are runners when I’m out running myself – either on my own or at a race), a quick Google image search shows me it can be used all over the body and even on dogs and horses, too.

When I’ve seen runners’ knees all taped up, my initial thought has always been, ‘If you need to tape your knee up, maybe you should be resting, not running’ but upon investigating further for the purpose of this blog post, Kinesio tape isn’t just used for support but also to help alleviate pain, relax the muscles, enhance performance and to help with rehabilitation.

That told me then. But what do I know? I’ve been relying on stretchy bandages since the 70s, which, incidentally, was when Dr Kenzo Kase – a Japanese chiropractor – invented Kinesio tape in the first place.

 

Win a roll of Kinesio Tex Gold Tape

Premier Healthcare & Hygiene Ltd have given me a roll of Kinesio tape to give away. The features of this tape are:

  • 100% cotton and latex free
  • Elasticity of up to 30-40% from resting length
  • Tape is applied with 10% stretch
  • Medical grade, heat sensitive acrylic adhesive
  • Allows the skin to breathe
  • Thickness and weight approximates that of skin
  • Easily tolerated
  • Allows range of motion and does not restrict like conventional athletic tape
  • Elastic properties support and reduce muscle fatigue
  • Facilitated myofascial release and improves lymphatic flow – in turn reducing pain and swelling
  • Can be worn for several days (3-5) without re-application
  • Cost effective patient management (6-10 applications per roll)

If you’d like to win a roll of this Kinesio tape, simply leave the answer to this question in the comments box below:

What colour is the tape I’m giving away? 

a) Pink with blue stripes
b) Orange with rainbow polka-dots
c) Gold

Giveaway ends at midnight Saturday 26 September 2015. UK entries only.

The JogBlog Guide to Being a Wuss

As a child, I had no fear. I’d climb up to the tops of trees to get the shiniest, reddest apple – usually to find to my disappointment that some apple-munching-insect-git had got there first but, hey ho, I had fun getting up there.

Tree-top adventures

So, bearing in mind I spent most of my childhood up trees, you’d think I’d be the first to say ‘YEAH, BABY, BRING IT ON’ upon being invited to take part in a tree-top adventure. But now I have put away childish things and no longer spend most of my time up trees, walking along bits of string in the sky just doesn’t appeal.

I’ve been invited to take part in a tree-top adventure three times now: once a few years ago to review on my blog; a couple of weeks ago to go with a group of friends; and just yesterday, again, to review for my blog.

My answer has always been the same: Sorry, I’m a wuss. 

Even the chance to give it a go for free hasn’t tempted me (okay, I’m lying – I’m almost tempted to give it a go if it means if I really do faint or throw up or an unladylike combination of the two and don’t take part in any of it, I haven’t wasted my money).

The Three Peaks Challenge

Still, not all challenges have to involve walking on bits of string in the sky – some can be done land-level; for example, The Three Peaks Challenge.

Now, you may be thinking, ‘Hang on a minute, Miss JogBlog… Yes, you are walking on the ground, but doesn’t the Three Peaks Challenge involve mountains, and aren’t mountains – by default due to their mountainous nature – high up?’

Well, yes, they are, but it’s just walking up hills and I’m okay with walking up hills (I may have wimped out of walking up the steps at the top of Mount Snowdon – it was snowing and windy and the steps are narrow and there aren’t any handrails).

Here I am, cold and wet at the top of Ben Nevis. Sitting next to me is Lucy who a) despite saying she was really unfit, whizzed up and down all three mountains quicker than most of the rest of the 20-strong group; and b) remained glamorous whatever the weather was like.

Ben Nevis, Scotland - Three Peaks Challenge

At the top of Ben Nevis. It was cold.

I should probably point out that I did the more leisurely Three Peaks Challenge – completing it over three days, one mountain a day, instead of the 24-hour challenge. Although I think the 24-hour challenge is hardcore, I think it’s a waste of mountains and I’m not just saying that because I did the lightweight girly version.

The Nuts Challenge and Tough Mudder

You’ll remember that a couple of years ago, I took part in The Nuts Challenge. This was definitely a challenge I thought I’d wuss out of but, in spite of my fears, I absolutely loved it and threw myself into those muddy ditches with the best of them.

Water slide at The Nuts Challenge

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!

I’ve since then been invited to take part in Tough Mudder, which is similar to The Nuts Challenge but involves getting electrocuted and jumping 15 feet into icy water and, to be honest, I’m just not that stupid. (Yes, you guessed it: For ‘stupid’ read, ‘I’m too much of a wuss’.)

However, if you want to read the blog of someone who’s done Tough Mudder not only once but twice and even with a fractured elbow, head over to the inimitable Cat Henderson’s (aka The Running Goth) blog. She is Scottish though, and therefore well ‘ard.

If you’re worn out thinking about challenges that involve walking on bits of string in the sky, climbing up mountains, diving into ditches and getting electrocuted, don’t worry, there are plenty of challenges that involve sitting down in a comfy seat.

Driving experiences

Take driving experiences, for example. A few years ago, for Shaun’s birthday (or it might have been Christmas, I can’t remember but it doesn’t really matter) I bought him a Ferrari v Porsche driving experience. As you’d imagine, this involves driving Ferraris and Porsches. In the photo below is one of them and, no, I have no idea whether this is the Ferrari or the Porsche. My guess is it’s the Ferrari and that guess is purely based on it being red.

Ferrari driving experience

Brmm brmm.

It’s a good thing Shaun likes things like this because, for the last few years, his presents have mostly involved sitting down on things with engines. As well as the Ferrari v Porsche driving experience, I’ve bought him a quad-biking experience, for which I also bought myself a ticket but after about three minutes, decided it wasn’t for me, jumped off the quad-bike and went and sat in the office to play on my phone while waiting for Shaun and his brother to finish their quad-biking thing.

Hovercrafting

He’s also been hovercrafting on land and in the sea, as the picture below proves (it proves the land bit, anyway. Actually, I made up the ‘in the sea’ bit and only added it in the unlikely event any Cardiacs fans read this).

Hovercrafting on the land

It’s a lot less bovver than a hover

Flying

If he ever gets round to booking it, he’ll be flying a little aeroplane next and I’m jealous because I want to go in a little aeroplane.

There are plenty of other experiences you can take part in – have a look at Into The Blue Experiences – they’ve got loads on there. Just don’t expect me to do any of them with you.

 

Review: Quest Protein Bars by Predator Nutrition

Quest Protein Bars

I might have eaten one before taking this photo

Quest Protein Bars come in about a billion different flavours. This might be a slight exaggeration but they do come in a lot of flavours and Predator Nutrition sent me 8 of them to try: mint chocolate chunk, cinnamon roll, white chocolate raspberry, cookies & cream, mixed berry bliss, chocolate brownie, chocolate chip cookie dough and peanut butter supreme.

Yum.

I say ‘yum’ after trying them because, to be honest, the packaging made them look like those chemically-tasting bars you find next to the muscle-gaining stuff in Holland & Barrett and, last time I tried one of those, I only had one bite before binning the rest and since then I’ve stuck to natural bars such as Trek Bars. So, I was a little apprehensive about trying these but hey, free food, yeah?

The first one I tried was the mixed berry bliss flavour, which I had after a 40 mile bike ride on Sunday. Sorry for the lack of photo but I was more interested in eating than taking photos but from what I remember it was a kind of beige colour. I do remember it didn’t taste of much but it wasn’t unpleasant and the bar was dense and filling, which was exactly what I needed at the time as I was in danger of eating everything I could find, possibly even the cat. Okay, not the cat.

Cookies & Cream Quest Bar

Cookies & Cream Quest Bar

Today, after a run, hunger/greed kicked in and I thought, ‘Aha, I can have a protein bar because runners need protein, innit?’ and gave the cookies & cream flavour a go.

Cookies & Cream Quest Bar

Cookies & Cream Quest Bar

Mmm, this was nice! It was sweet, contained crunchy bits of biscuit and, like the mixed berries flavour, it was dense and filling.

Technical bit

As with all these types of protein bars, they come with technical blurb about protein and carb content and stuff so, in case you’re interested in that kind of thing, here it is:

Quest Protein Bars are high in protein (20g), low carb, gluten-free, have no added sugar (they’re sweetened with Sucralose – I have no idea if this is a good thing or not) and contain around 200 calories per bar.

Price

I had no idea of the price of these until this morning and nearly had a heart attack when I looked on the Predator Nutrition website and saw that they’re £2.79 each. Yes, I said each. Gulp. However, it is possible to buy a box of 12 which works out cheaper and, even cheaper still, you can buy a box with a short expiry date which works out at just £1 per bar. They’re also available at a discounted price on Amazon.

To sum up then, Quest Protein Bars are tasty, filling protein bars perfect for those post-workout munchies but a bit on the pricey side. I wouldn’t pay £2.79 for one bar but I’d happily buy a box of 12 for around £12.

Giveaway: Win 1 of 3 Foam Rollers from Hardcore Fitness!

HardCore Fitness Foam Roller

HardCore Fitness Foam Roller

It occurred to me that yesterday’s post might have given the impression I’d been slacking. But… come on… AS IF! I haven’t been slacking, honest – I’ve been injured. And if you don’t believe me, you can ask Twitter. Just don’t ask Twitter when you’re busy, because, on a whim, I asked for advice while I was eating my lunch, then spent the rest of the day thanking people (and if anyone who gave me advice that day is reading this – thank you, again).

Twitter’s diagnosis for my ailment – after I’d given more information than, ‘Help me Twitter, my leg hurts’ – seemed to be quad/hip/adductor-related and someone helpfully sent me a video of a foam roller exercise.

But, alas, I didn’t have a foam roller so it was a happy coincidence when HardCore Fitness got in touch and asked me if I wanted to try out one of theirs. I’d only heard bad things in relation to foam rollers before – mostly centering around the word ‘ouch’, but I had a bad leg and I was desperate not to fuck up my marathon training (you’re not buying that at all, are you? You know I just wanted a freebie) so I said, ‘Yeah, man, bring it on’. (The words I actually used may have been more along the lines of, ‘Yes please’, but you get the gist.)

HardCore Fitness Foam Roller

As mentioned above, my knowledge of foam rollers only went as far as ‘ouch’, so I’m not going to pretend I know whether HardCore Fitness’s one is any better than any other but what I can tell you is that considering how light it is (about 600g), it’s surprisingly robust and sturdy and when you do your exercises on it, you can really feel it. And it wasn’t ‘ouch’, it was actually quite nice, although I can see where the ‘ouch’ would come in if your muscles were particularly achy that day.

HardCore Fitness Foam Roller

HardCore Fitness are so sure of their foam roller’s indestructibility, they offer a lifetime guarantee with each one. With each one, they also give away a free 33 page ebook full of exercises.

Foam roller exercises ebook

Free 33-page ebook with each foam roller

Giveaway: Win 1 of 3 HardCore Fitness Foam Rollers

You want a foam roller now, don’t you? It’s just as well I have 3 to give away then, isn’t it?

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is answer this question:

Which marathon have I entered?

a) Dymsynagogue Marathon

b) Dymchurch Marathon

c) Dymosque Marathon

Leave your answer in the comments and I’ll pick 3 winners after the closing date of Saturday 12 September 2015.

UK entries only, sorry.

Thanks to HardCore Fitness for supplying me with a foam roller to review and for the ones to give away.

New Plan on Tuesday

My computer ate my marathon training schedule. Is that the best excuse ever for slacking, or is it up there with ‘the dog ate my homework’?

My guess is the latter, especially as there is obviously more than one training schedule in the entire universe. It’s just that I liked that one – it could be downloaded and imported into my Outlook calendar and if I didn’t fancy training that day, I could satisfyingly click the delete button and – whoosh! – it had gone like it never said ‘go and run, you lazy moo, you’ve got a marathon to train for’ in the first place.

However, neither a) pressing the delete button; nor b) having my computer eat my training schedule means that I don’t actually have a marathon to run at the end of November, so I thought I’d better get myself a new training schedule. This new-found motivation was partly helped by getting inspired after nipping down the road to Wye on Sunday to see Louise shortly after she’d finished running the Centurion 100. For those of you who don’t know what that is, the Centurion 100 is a running race of 100 miles. I know… hardcore. Louise is especially hardcore as it’s the third 100 mile race in a series of four she’s done this year and if you do all four you get a special t-shirt and a piggyback from Mo Farah. (I might have made up the Mo Farah bit.)

Centurion 100

Louise enjoying a veggie sausage sandwich after running 100 miles

So, off to the Hal Higdon website I went to get me a new marathon training plan. Here it is.

Hal Higdon novice marathon training plan

Hal Higdon novice marathon training plan

Because I had to buy a new computer and my new computer doesn’t have Outlook or any decent email program on it, I couldn’t get an electronic schedule and had to go old school and print one off on to paper. Then, because it’s an eighteen-week schedule and my marathon’s in sixteen weeks, I had to use one of those old-fashioned pen things and cross out the first two weeks.

But, as you can see, I successfully completed day one by resting and I even successfully completed day two by going out for a three mile run this morning. And, yay me – I did it without stopping to walk like a lame-o and even managed sub-11:30 minute miles. This might be because I left the house at 8:20am and needed to be back by 9am for a delivery but you’ve got to get your incentive to work harder from somewhere, haven’t you?

As an added bonus, I even inadvertently GPSd myself a moose’s head.

A moose drawn with GPS

A moose, do you think?

I usually manage to slack off Wednesday’s running by going on a walk, but I haven’t got any walks planned for tomorrow, so I might just do the 4 miles Hal wants me to do.

Or I might go and buy some Tippex.

3 Reasons to Use a Home Gym

Kettlebells

Kettle bells are cheap and come in pretty colours

Although I love going to the gym, I don’t go as often as I should to get the full value from the monthly membership fee and, so, sometimes I use the gym equipment I have at home instead. Here are a few reasons why a home gym is a good idea.

It saves you money

I’m lucky my gym is cheap – it only costs me £20 a month with my student card (yes, I still have one) and even before I had a student card, it only cost me £25 a month off-peak. Not everyone is a student though or at home in the daytime to go in off-peak times, so gym fees can be expensive, with most gyms charging between £50 and £100 a month.

Aha, you say – treadmills and elliptical trainers and all those machines cost a fortune, don’t they? Well, yes, they can do, but you don’t have to get all the machines – I’ve got a rowing machine, a Swiss ball, a bench, a step, dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, a resistance trainer and a bunch of fitness DVDs and that does me just fine. I do quite fancy a treadmill though. Especially one of those desk ones.

If you do decide to go down the buying-all-the-machines route though, it’s a one-off expense, so you’ll eventually save money on gym fees in the long run (no pun intended).

Convenience

What could be more convenient than going into your garage/spare room/conservatory/bit of front room not covered with kids’ toys instead of walking or driving to the gym. Hell, you don’t even have to get dressed! (Although, for the females reading this, I’d advise you to wear a sports bra. I’d also advise – and this is for the men as well – to keep your curtains and blinds closed.)

Working out at home is also convenient if your local gym holds classes at a time inconvenient for you. Get yourself a fitness DVD or have a look at fitnessblender.com and have your own exclusive gym class in the privacy of your own home. As an added bonus, no one will see you skip the bits you don’t like (for me, that’d be the lying down bits in body pump) and you won’t get told off for not stretching, either.

No people

Speaking of privacy; for the more shy and self-conscious of you out there, working out at home saves you from having to exercise in front of people or getting changed in front of strangers in the changing room (and after seeing a girl dry her armpits with a hairdryer in the gym in London once, I almost cancelled my own membership).

Although I love to encourage people to go to the gym and emphasise just how much everyone is there to do their own thing and NO ONE IS LOOKING AT YOU, I can understand it might make some people a bit anxious. So, unless you ignore my advice above about closing your blinds and curtains, no one will be able to see you, so you can really go for it without fear of embarrassment (you know, like when you haven’t noticed everyone’s on a rest bit in body pump and you’re still going, in a little world of your own).

Right then, now I’ve extolled the virtues of exercising at home, I’m off to the gym. See ya.

If you’re interested in buying an elliptical trainer, here are some elliptical reviews.

The JogBlog Guide To Training For Your First 5k

A friend on Twitter recently challenged himself to train for his first 5k in just 14 days. On top of this, he further challenged himself to run it in under 30 minutes. And guess what? He did it! Hardcore.

However, us mere mortals tend to take more than 14 days to train for our first 5k, so here’s my guide for new runners.

Get a training plan

In the olden days, before smartphones (yes kids there was such a time), we couldn’t download apps like the Kiqplan coaching app and had to make do with plans in books or printed off from the internet. I can’t remember where I got my first training plan from but it was one of those Couch to 5k plans that starts off with run/walk and progresses to 5k at the end of the plan. These plans usually last for 8 weeks or so but it took me twice as long to get through mine, so if you have to redo a week, don’t worry about it. Everyone progresses at different speeds.

If you want a laugh, go to the beginning of my blog and you can read all about my early running days back in January 2006, including endearing little snippets such as:

It was the first of the 3 minutes running / 1 minute walking (repeated 6 times) schedule today and doing 3 minutes non-stop was surprisingly easy, seeing as when I first attempted to run a few weeks ago, a minute nearly killed me.

As you can see, we all started somewhere.

Get comfortable kit

There’s no need to go out and buy the most expensive kit, especially if you’ve just started running as who knows if you’re going to continue with it? I would advise not doing what I did when I started running though and buy something more comfortable than thick, heavy tracksuit bottoms, a normal cotton t-shirt, two normal bras worn at the same time, a thick, heavy, hooded fleece, and a stiff pair of trainers that cost £10 from Shoezone. You can get perfectly decent kit at bargain prices from Sports Direct although you should probably go to a specialist running shop and get them to advise you on the right running shoes for you. Be warned though – proper running shoes aren’t cheap, although Decathlon‘s own make, Kalenji, are reasonably priced and I was very happy with the ones I had a couple of years ago.

Get gadgets

Running is more fun when you know you’re going to get home and see pretty charts and graphs and stats and stuff. There are millions of fitness apps to download and try and you can even run away from Zombies if Zombies are your thing, or you can just be old school and get a good old Garmin like my Garmin Forerunner 405 (other GPS watches are available, such as the Tom Tom Runner also pictured below).

Garmin and Tom Tom Runner

Or you can be even more old school like I was in the early days and just use a stopwatch and pedometer. Or you can be really really really old school and not use anything. That would be weird though.

The other gadget I don’t run without is my iPod. Lots of people don’t listen to music when they run but maybe they sound more elegant than I do when I’m running.

Get a race booked

You could do a parkrun, but it might be more rewarding to do a ‘proper’ race and get a medal at the end for all your hard work.

5k medal

Will run for bling

You will be nervous and you will be scared but, trust me, you’re going to fucking love it and you’ll cross that finish line with a massive grin. My first race was the Crisis Square Mile Run and I still smile when I remember how I felt when I’d finished.

Get clued up on nutrition

I’m joking. It’s 5k; eat what you want.

So, that’s my tips for new runners. Enjoy your first 5k!

The Visualising Div

Running bracelet

I am such a der-brain. I was on the rowing machine at the gym, wondering what kind of bracelet to make Chris – who won the run bracelet giveaway – and visualised my boxes of beads, when my mind’s eye zoomed in on the little plastic bag the run bead is kept and… oh… HANG ON A MINUTE, I could clearly see two beads in the little plastic bag and then I remembered I was supposed to be giving away two bracelets but, because I’m a div, I only randomly selected one winner.

So, better late than never, I am pleased to announce the second winner of a run bracelet is:

Mercy Morris, who blogs at moorhenscampers and said this is what she’d like as a magic power. I approve of this magic power.

screenshot

Well done, Mercy – my apologies for being a div.

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