Before I emigrated to the countryside, I – like many others – was office-bound, spending many hours sitting down staring at a screen. Ironically though, I was at my lightest then because I was an expert at getting exercise into my day without really trying. Here are my tips for getting some exercise into your working day:
Unless you’re Zola Budd (if you’re under 40, ask your parents who she is), you’re going to need to wear something on your feet (and I don’t mean Heelys or rollerskates like the ones you can buy at Skate Hut). When I started running, I bought a cheap pair of trainers from ShoeZone for £10 and although I don’t recommend you do that, there are some common myths about running shoes. Here are 3 of them.
I come from a family of champions. I won a trophy made out of tinfoil when I was about 5 for being a chess champion. My younger brother won a scholarship to go to a public school, and my eldest brother came home most weeks with trophies he’d won by playing golf.
I won my trophy by being a sneaky, devious 5-year-old and getting a book from the local mobile library that showed me how to checkmate my opponent in three moves. My younger brother won his scholarship by being a cleverclogs and my eldest brother won his trophies by learning how to play golf properly.
And on that note, I leave you with this infographic that shows you how you can improve your golf swing. If you feel inclined to improve your golf swing, that is. Personally, I’m in the ‘golf is a good walk spoiled‘ camp*.
(*I’m not really – I just like to quote stuff)
If you followed my guide to training for your first 5k, you undoubtedly would have a) won it; and then b) got home and immediately started looking for your first 10k. So, here’s my guide to training for your first 10k.
Get a training plan
You may think, ‘I can run 5k, I don’t need a training plan, I just need to run a bit further’. Which, yes, is true to an extent but a proper training plan will get you running further and faster better than if you just tag a couple of extra miles onto your long runs now and again.
Personally, I’m old-school and like something I can print off so I can cross out the days I’ve done with a pen; my favourite plans being those from Hal Higdon but, if you’re not quite that old school, you can also generate an iCal file to import Hal Higdon plans into your calendar.
If importing a plan into your calendar is still too old-school for you, there are loads of apps you can use, such as the 10k Run Ready app from Kiqplan. This app contains everything you need to train for your first 10k, including advice on snacking, meal planning and how to get more sleep.
Stick to the training plan
Let’s face it – 10k (6.2 miles) is a long way to walk, let alone run, so do stick to your training plan if you don’t want to hurt too much on race day. And, while we’re on the subject of hurting on race day, when you’re running the actual race, try not to fall over a football, like I did during my first ever 10k.
Think about nutrition
The better your diet leading up to the race, the better the race you’ll have, so you might want to have a look at using sports supplements such as protein shakes and creatine (which is especially good for those of you who, like me, are vegetarian). If you’re not into supplements, just make sure you eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of protein to help your muscles recover after training. No need to be too strict though – you can still have your takeaway at the weekend; everything in moderation and all that.
On race day
Don’t worry about any special breakfasts or anything – just have what you normally have, whether that’s a massive bowl of porridge or just a cigarette and a cup of coffee. It’s only 6 and a bit miles and if Mahatma Ghandi can go three weeks without food, you can go without for an hour or so. But, although there should be a water stop during the race, you might want to take some water with you, as a 10k can make you thirsty, especially if it’s a hot day.
There are always massive queues for the toilet at races, so get there early enough for a wee, unless you’re a bloke, then you can just do it in the bushes (don’t tell anyone I said that). And if you’re a Billy-no-mates with no one to look after your bag, get there early enough to put your bag in the baggage drop too.
So, there you go then. There’s my guide for training for your first 10k. Good luck!
If I ever get a phase of sleepness nights, I know exactly the reason why – it’s because I haven’t been exercising enough (unless it’s a Friday night and then I can’t sleep because I’ve stuffed myself full of battered halloumi, onion rings and chippy chips, all covered in curry sauce from Tesco).
If you want to know how to sleep like an athlete (hint: it doesn’t involve eating battered halloumi, onion rings and chippy chips), then this infographic will be of interest to you.
Although I’m always downloading apps and trying new ones out, I keep forgetting to use them. They’re a great fitness tool though, and here are six reasons why:
1. You can unleash your inner (or not so inner) geek
Fitness apps are great for geeks. You’ll get hours and hours of fun from all those lovely charts and stats and graphs and stuff and, if all those lovely charts and stats and graphs and stuff start showing you’ve been slacking, that should shame you enough to unslack yourself.
2. You can unleash your inner (or not so inner) competitive streak
Most apps let you hook up with your friends who are also using the same app so you can spy on how they’re doing and silently set yourself up in competition with them and overtake them. Or, if you want to be less sly, a lot of apps will let you set up challenges with other users of the app, whether that’s by way of a leaderboard or as a one-to-one challenge (such as this one Warriorwoman and I undertook last year).
Accountability. Now there’s a word that makes my teeth itch but apps do keep you accountable, it must be said. Miss a day’s training and there’ll be a little gap in the calendar to remind you that YOU ARE A SLACKER. And you wouldn’t want an app calling you a slacker, would you?
4. They’re convenient
Smartphones are great, aren’t they? No longer do we need to carry round a Garmin, a phone and an iPod; we can just take our phones out with us and have our GPS device, our making-phone-calls device and our music device all in one handy shiny black rectangle. And, as an added bonus, you don’t even need to look like a dick by having it on your arm in one of those armbands, you can get a handy pouch for them, like this Roosport Fitness Pouch.
5. They’re fun
The main reason for using a fitness app. They’re fun. Some let other people join in the fun by allowing you to link the app to Facebook, then when someone ‘likes’ the post that appears automatically once you start the app, you get a cheer through the headphones. Make sure you turn it off though if all you’re doing is walking the dog and don’t particularly feel the need to have people cheering you every five seconds.
There are apps that are also games, like the Zombies, Run! app. I have tried this and am rubbish at it. You’ll probably be better than me.
6. They’re free
Okay, that’s a bit of a fib. Most are free, although some don’t give you all the features you’d get if you paid for the premium version, while others have lots of features and are totally free, like the Superbody app, which is a personal nutritionist and workout coach.
So, there are a few of my reasons for using apps. Feel free to let me know which your favourite apps are.
I’m not one of those runners who can’t run even a 5k without clutching a drink and neither do I take a sports drink to the gym with me. But, I’ve got to say, my methods of hydration on a long run/walk/bike ride are a bit rubbish. Okay, a lot rubbish. So rubbish in fact, I didn’t take enough water out with me on a twenty-mile cross-country walk a few weeks ago on the second hottest day of the year and ran out of water at eleven miles. So, guess what? Yes, I fainted at the end of it. Yes, properly fainted, as in passed-out-unconscious-woke-up-thinking-where-the-fuck-am-I fainted.
My excuse was that I didn’t want to fill my Camelbak up completely because I didn’t want to walk twenty-miles cross-country on the second hottest day of the year carrying 3 litres of water; because a) it was heavy; and b) I didn’t think I’d drink it all, but, obviously a) I would drink it all because b) I was walking twenty-miles cross-country on the second hottest day of the year.
Still, I learnt my lesson and when I had a long marathon-training run come up, I not only took water with me but also took money out with me so I could buy a sports drink while I was out. Unfortunately, the running shop I’d planned to buy a sports drink from didn’t sell any (eh?) and although the reception of the stadium in which the running shop lives did sell a sports drink, it was Lucozade, and I don’t buy Lucozade because they’re vivisectionist scum. I had been hoping they’d sell Powerade because Powerade has given me a massive boost both times I’ve run the Great South Run but, alas, I had to make do with water.
I’ve currently got a Tesco own brand sports drink in the fridge that I’d planned to take out with me on my next long marathon-training run but as I’m no longer doing Dymchurch Marathon because I won’t make the cut-off time, it looks like it’s going to stay in the fridge for ever.
You may be the kind of person who prefers an energy drink to a sports drink but I have no knowledge of energy drinks except I used to have a boyfriend who drank them and it stank. Some people swear by energy drinks though, as opposed to swearing at them, so if you’d like to read up about the ingredients, effects and risks of energy drinks, here’s a pretty infographic for you.
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 Thursday 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.
— Fitability PT Studio (@BoutiqueBPD) September 2, 2015
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:
@jogblog Programmes are guides not religion
— 100Marathons4PTSD (@SimonABuckden) September 2, 2015
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):
— paul worboys (@warderbois) September 2, 2015
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 (that’s about all we have in my little local gym – nothing posh like a vibration plate or anything, not that I’m complaining; I love my little gym) 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.)
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
- 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
Giveaway ends at midnight Saturday 26 September 2015. UK entries only.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.