Switching Up Training

It was National Fitness Day 2017 yesterday and I can’t think of a better time to share with you all why I have changed my training recently, what I’ve been doing and what results I’m expecting!

Training should not feel like a chore (because no-one likes doing chores) and it’s impossible to adhere to a programme if you don’t enjoy it.

In the last few months, I have found myself struggling to motivate myself to train without a specific goal to work towards. I’d spoken about this previously  I began skipping my workouts or working out out purely because I felt like I had to burn off calories, rather than doing because I truly love it. This is the mindset I have been battling (and winning the battle) with over the last few years so I knew I had to do something to find my love for exercise again.

What I did to switch up my workouts? 

As a runner, its strange to admit that I have actually been doing very minimal cardio. Other than the odd 5k at the weekend, I’ve only been running to and from the gym – which is only 0.8 miles each way! I haven’t even been to a spin class recently! Instead, I’ve been focusing a lot on strength training. I’ve been doing conditioning and strength classes in the morning before work. These include compound movements such as squats and deadlifts, as well as plyometrics (jump training) and I’m working my entire body.

What results am I expecting from this shift in my style of training?

I think (hope) that I will go into next years running season feeling strong. With a bit of a rest from longer distances and a focus on building muscle, I hope that my legs will be refreshed (as well as bigger and stronger) and I’ll be at a good starting point to prevent any injuries when I start loading back on the miles!

Have any of you ever gotten fed up with your training? What did you do to combat this?

I hope you all have a lovely Thursday!

L x

Tracking and Accountability

What do you do/use to track or plan your workouts?

There’s a number of apps, websites and diaries out there where you can plug in or write down your workouts. I have personally used the FitBit app, MyFitnessPal, MapMyRun and a Believe Journal. I have found all 3 of these apps really useful, particularly MapMyRun which I still use today because I don’t own a fancy Garmin watch (yet!) and haven’t quite figured out how accurate my FitBit is at tracking mileage (it’s the ChargeHR from a couple of years ago) but over time I’ve discovered what works best for me.

It all started with a really simple spreadsheet that I began using to track when I was sore or having problems with my back to feed back to the chiropractor. Rather than telling him, “oh, it was sore the other day” I could tell him exactly what day I was sore and what I had been doing that day or days previous, in order to see if there was a pattern in my pain.

I have a seperate tab for each month with all the dates pre-entered, then a column for the workout and one for any notes. Here is my July workouts so far!


I realised that I love being able to see all my workouts in a list like that as it really does show all the hard work I’ve put in. It motivates me and it only takes 30 seconds to fill it out after a workout. There’s no tricking the mind into thinking you’re doing more or less when it’s written down in front of you. I can’t lie to myself about the work I’m putting in. Right now, I’m getting results because, as you can see there, I’m putting in the work.

It keeps me on track as I can also see where I skipped workouts or took rest days. I had a bit of a rough time at the start of the month which meant I prioritised family over working out. It’s not normal for me to take 3 days rest in a row.

If you have any tips or suggestions for tracking and staying accountable, let me know!

L x

Lent 

For most of my generation Lent has lost it’s religious meaning and instead has manifested in to a period of restriction and another fad diet.

I’ve seen it (and done it myself) countless times where people give up all the foods/drinks they believe to be ‘bad’. 

This is where the problem begins. Labelling foods into groups of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ or foods you are allowed to eat and others you feel guilty for eating is where many falter before they’ve even gotten started with their ‘diet’. This unhealthy relationship with food tends to spiral out of control pretty quickly and ultimately leads to people giving up on their health and returning to their old ways. How many times have you heard of someone giving up chocolate for Lent… but they’ve had a Dairy Milk bar by day 2. 

I’ve experienced first hand the reason as to why this happens. Pyscologically, if you tell yourself you can’t have something, you actually think about it more than if you were not restricting yourself and it is ALL you want! 

Whereas, I have not said to myself that I’m not allowed to have chocolate, I just don’t have it regularly and this works. I don’t often think about it and if I do have it I don’t feel bad or feel like I have to punish myself in the gym because I had it!

So rather than ‘giving up’ something for Lent… start to make lifestyle changes today, tomorrow or whenever you feel ready. Don’t tell yourself you can’t have something but instead start to look into a healthier alternative and maybe swap out some of the things that don’t make you feel so great! You’ll notice real, sustainable changes and you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything! 

And if you still feel like you have to get involved in Lent, give up something unrelated to food. Last year, I gave up having negative thoughts about myself and my body.

L x 

Marathon Training – Week 3

Day 1 – 30 minutes Cross-Trainer

I was really lacking motivation before this workout. I’m really not a fan of the cross-trainer as I never really feel like I get the same workout as when I run but I understood I just had to get it done. I alternated between high-resistance and speed to vary the intensity of my session – which kept my head in the game a little longer. In the end, I actually left the gym feeling grateful for the low-impact workout!

Day 2 – Rest

Day 3 – 3 miles

I ran on the treadmill in the morning before work. I watched a BBC documentary about SAS training to pass the time. I’m starting to get bored of the indoor workouts and am getting excited for the better weather to come! Training in the Summer months is always a lot more enjoyable but the hard work has to continue throughout the Winter! I finished my session with a bit of foam rolling (painful but necessary!)

Day 4 – 5 miles

The weather was so terrible so I had to run on the treadmill at the gym. Generally, if I can avoid doing anything longer than 3 miles on the treadmill I will but in this case I just couldn’t run outside! I’ve really grown to prefer being outdoors and running where I know the finish line is when I make it home rather than the mental game of when you stop on the treadmill.

Day 5 – 3 miles

Another pre-work run in the gym. As much as I prefer running outdoors, I like the atmosphere in the gym in the morning. It’s other like-minded individuals chasing similar goals and that motivates me! I finished up my workout with some core work and more foam rolling. Brandon and I then had a fun sober Friday evening at his Granny and Grandad’s for dinner, followed by a night with the space geeks at The Royal Observatory in Edinburgh! I’m finding lots of alternatives to nights out and still have a social life whilst abstaining from drinking throughout my training. 

Day 6 – Rest

I had a relatively productive rest day. I went to get my nails done in the morning and then we were over at Brandon’s Mum’s house clearing our stuff out of their garage as Stuart is getting a treadmill (so you know where I’ll be when that arrives!) I got up at 8am and didn’t sit down again until well after 5pm. We also went and got our food shop for the week (between Aldi and Sainbury’s) so we’re all set for meal prepping!

Day 7 – 10 miles

I left the house in a crop top and sunglasses and enjoyed gorgeous weather for about 5 miles and then I got soaked! I don’t mind running in the rain – in fact I quite enjoy it… It felt good and I really settled into the run. I found my rhythm and my splits were pretty even. My average pace was just 0.01 seconds faster than last weeks 9 mile run – which shows how consistent my pacing has become! 



Total: 21 miles

I’ve had another good strong week of pushing myself and have proven to myself (again!) what my body is capable of. A little self-belief and I might actually be able to run this marathon! 

Bring on week 4! 

L x

Simple Weeknight Dinner – Turkey Mince

Ingredients

  • Turkey Mince (as little or as much as you like – we always cook extra for lunches/leftovers)
  • 1 can Chopped Tomatoes
  • Garlic – 2 cloves
  • 1 White Onion
  • Tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1/4 Tsp Cumin
  • Chilli Flakes or 1 Fresh Chilli 
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

    Method

    1. Melt coconut oil (or any other oil of your choosing) in a pan on a medium heat.
    2. Add onion and garlic and fry until browning.
    3. Add turkey mince and fry until there are no visible pink pieces of meat left.
    4. Pour in chopped tomatoes and add the spices.
    5. Mix altogether and simmer until the turkey mince is cooked through and the juices from the tomatoes are being absorbed.

    Healthy food doesn’t have to be complicated or contain loads of ingredients you’ve never heard of! This meal is cheap, accessible and you can choose how your serve it. You can also add any leftover veg in the fridge (as I have done in the above picture by adding a green pepper that needed used) and I’m pretty sure it would still taste great – don’t hold me to that! We’ve tried it in stuffed peppers, with rice and poured over sweet potato wedges… all 3 are delicious! 

    Give it a go and let me know what you think!

    L x

    Marathon Training – Week 2

    I started off the week feeling really positive after a good weekend of eating well, resting and a run of course! Here is a breakdown of week 2:

    Day 1 – 1hr Body Pump 

    I felt a little niggle in my hip throughout the class – which I’m not overly worried about but I’m going to keep an eye on as I can’t afford any time off running for injuries!

    Day 2 – Rest

    I don’t often enjoy rest days, especially when I don’t necessarily feel like I needed them (even though I know I do!) However, my hip was still a little sore and it was Valentine’s Day so it was much preferable to spend a night at home cooking with Brandon. We made one of our favourite dishes from Lean in 15 – Seabass with Pak Choi and Cashews followed by some healthy treats from Sweet Deceits! I tried out their Chocolate Brownie baking kit and was not disappointed! I love that sweet treats don’t have to be unhealthy. These are made with no refined sugar and taste pretty good!


    Day 3 – Rest

    I was meant to run 3 miles but I woke up with a UTI and it couldn’t have come at a worse time – just as I was getting into the rhythm of my training. I took a Ciprofloxacin tablet in the morning – which I had excess of from a previous infection but then read some absolute horror stories about taking this as a runner. One of the possible side effects is tendon rupture which can even occur long after you stop taking the antibiotic. This freaked me out a lot and alongside my hip still giving me problems, I decided I was going to have to skip my run. This threw me a little mentally as I really want/need to stick to my training plan but I figured 3 miles wouldn’t make a HUGE difference and I vowed to make it up later in the week or next week.

    Day 4 – 4 miles

    I ran on the treadmill before work and despite a little discomfort in my belly, I had a pretty good run!

    Day 5 – 3 miles

    Another morning run in the bag! It was great to get it done before work so that I had my evening to myself. I had contemplated adding on a little bit to this run to make up for my miles lost on Tuesday but in the end I decided just to take the hit on that one.

    Day 6 – Rest

    I still had a nice active day spent at Vogrie Country Park with Brandon. We completed the Tyne Valley walk and ate our picnic with our legs dangling over a small river! Banana pancakes…mmm! I love being outdoors and getting fresh air so it was a really nice way to spend my day off work and my day off running.

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    Day 7 – 9 miles

    This is the furthest I’ve run so far! I had no idea if I was going to manage this and in what time! When I left the flat I gave myself an estimated time of 1 hour and 45 minutes but had told Brandon not to worry if I was still out around the 2 hour mark. I ended up finishing it in 1 hour and 22 minutes and was absolutely over the moon! I maintained a similar pace to my 5k pace and was happy to see that my mile splits were pretty even.


    So that’s another week of training down and even if it didn’t get off to the best start with falling ill, I pushed through and I’m feeling much better going in to week 3.

    Happy Running.

    L x

    Hydration

    In the health conscious world we live in we’re constantly being told to keep hydrated and to hit a goal of 8 litres of water a day! It’s plastered throughout our favourite health magazines or on the wall in the doctor’s surgery – but not without good reason!

    Staying hydrated is essential in terms of general health and well-being but it’s importance is increased further when you’re living an active lifestyle. As a runner, I was aware that I was previously not taking on enough water throughout the day. I would drink coffee at my desk, only filling up my water bottle when the time to exercise came round and as a result, I was dehydrated a lot of the time! Not only did this mean I was gulping water whilst working out (never a good idea on a long run) but I was also suffering from mild headaches throughout the day.

    Since I told myself I must drink more water – and forced myself to do it – I have seen a number of benefits. Yes, what you read is true!

    1. Clearer Skin – I’ve never really suffered from bad acne or spots. I tend to get the odd one here or there but nothing major. However, lots of water and peppermint tea throughout the day have completely cleared things up and I’m pretty much blemish free. I have noticed a drastic improvement in my complexion and you could say I’m now glowing! My skin feels soft, smooth and clean!
    2. Less Bloating – Drinking more to combat water retention? That sounds like a myth but it’s not! If you drink more, your body retains less water as it isn’t thinking – ‘when am I next going to get water?’ As a result, I’m also nipping to the bathroom a lot more often and flushing toxins from my body. Forget expensive teas, etc – plenty of water and a simple green tea will detox your body far more effectively.
    3. Reduced Hunger – A lot of the time when we think we may be hungry, we may actually just be thirsty or even bored. Grab a big glass of water and see if you really are still hungry afterwards.

    Give it a go and see how you feel afterwards – I can promise you won’t regret it! Ditching coffee for peppermint tea and water was one of the best things I’ve done for my health so far!

    L x

    Marathon Training – Week 1

    So as most of you will be aware, I decided to take on a big challenge in 2017 and entered my first marathon! It is now 16 weeks away and I’m in my first week of structured training. Until now, I have been running regularly but intuitively. I am both nervous and excited for this venture and can’t wait to share it all with you! Does anyone else have a big race coming up this year or something you’re working towards?!

    Day 1 – 1hr Body Pump

    I was actually feeling really negative about my training and my body (everyone has those days, right?!) and I totally lacked the motivation to work out. However, if I’ve learned anything in this process, I know that the best way to shake the negative attitude is to go work out! Guess what? It worked and I felt 10000 times better after my class. I couldn’t cop out on day 1, especially as I slipped up and bought a bar of chocolate… Cravings took over, but hey, I knew it wouldn’t kill me.

    Day 2 – 3 miles

    I decided to run the 3 miles intended for day 3 and swap my rest day as I had plans for Wednesday evening and it worked better for my week. The weather was absolutely shocking (lots of rain and wind) so I took to the treadmill on the way home from work. I can’t afford to catch a cold in this training cycle! I haven’t run treadmill miles in forever – so it felt a little bit weird but I got it done nonetheless (and was glad that it was only 3 miles!)

    Day 3 – Rest

    I took my rest day and it was entirely welcomed! My legs were aching from Body Pump on Monday and I really needed a night to just chill after getting my nails done. Sometimes it just takes something small to make you feel a little better.

    Day 4 – 4 miles

    4 miles before breakfast! God I missed my morning workouts. It sets me up for the day and I generally feel a lot better and more productive at work. I’m going to try and get back into doing these, even though it means I do have to get up pre-6am to fit it in before work.

    Day 5 – 3 miles + 45 minute spin class

    I was going out for dinner with my friend after work and going to a spin class at 7am before working, meaning I’d have to have come home and run before going for dinner. I knew I wouldn’t feel like doing that so I got up half an hour earlier in the morning and got it all done before work. I felt great all day – but it did affect my hunger!! I’ll need to take more food to work next time I decide to do a longer session in the morning.

    Day 6 – Rest 

    Ah… what a lovely Saturday morning spent chilling out, eating good food and watching Peaky Blinders. Just because it’s the weekend and a rest day doesn’t mean I have to fall off track. I still made good choices in terms of nutrition and a sober night bowling with friends was the perfect way to socialise without throwing all my hard work out the window!

    Day 7 – 5 miles

    I finished the week off with a mid-afternoon run. It was really cold and trying to snow outside but it felt good nonetheless. I ran in a pretty good time and had a delicious treat afterwards – my 3 ingredient banana pancakes! A great end to a great week!

    Total: 15 miles

    I spend my Sunday evening preparing and planning my meals and workouts for next week. I am ready for week 2 of my training and actually looking forward to Monday! Hope you all have a good week!

    L x

    Eating Out In Amsterdam

    I’m just home from an incredible 3-day city break in Amsterdam and I couldn’t be more upset about it. The minute we arrived in our hotel to leaving for the airport to fly home it was crazy busy but brilliant!

    We stayed in a gorgeous hotel, The Hoxton, in an area called 9 streets. The hotel came highly recommended to us by a friend and it did not disappoint! We had an amazing room with a view out on to the canal so we couldn’t have asked for more.


    However, I was apprehensive about having a weekend away from my normal routine, with the start of my marathon training cycle due to begin in just a weeks time. With no room in my hand luggage for my runners, I set about researching some healthy eateries to ensure that I at least stayed relatively on track with my nutrition. Upon arriving in Amsterdam, I quickly realised that it wasn’t going to be hard to eat well there. Being a pretty hip city, it was way ahead of the game in terms of health cafes and restaurants. This being said, I was also there to enjoy myself just before my training began so I didn’t want to be too strict with it.

    On Friday, we were pretty hungry after travelling and arrived at our hotel just in time for lunch. We decided to dine at the hotels restaurant and use the time to get our bearings and figure out a plan of action for the coming days. The restaurant, Lotti’s, had quite a short menu but also offered good options for breakfast, lunch and dinner all within the one menu. I quite fancied a steak (one of my go-to choices when eating out as you can easily keep it relatively low-calorie by pairing with a salad or veg) but as it was lunchtime I opted for a salad instead. Chicken Caesar salad. Now this dish is a tricky one as once you add up the sauce, the Parmesan cheese and croutons, your lettuce based dish could end up clocking in at 1000+ calories. I’m a little fussy when it comes to ordering this. I always ask for dressing on the side – that way I can add the bare minimum or none at all. I also tend to request no croutons as I don’t really see the sense in ordering a salad if you’re going to eat half a loaf of crispy bread through it. However, in certain situations, I sometimes feel uncomfortable or feel it is not appropriate to be making such demands so I just leave them to the side. This time, Lotti’s were super accommodating and I got my dressing on the side! The salad itself; I’d give it a 6/10.

    Friday night was a little bit of a disaster. We walked for miles across the city before we came to the restaurant where we eventually dined. We just hadn’t planned things properly and by the time we arrived and got a table it was well after 9pm and we were starving from the days exertions. We ate at an Argentinian restaurant in Jordaan called Salmuera. On walking through the door to our table we walked past a huge grill full of chicken, steak, pork and fish with the spicy aromas filling the air immediately…mmm!! At this point I knew we’d made a good choice and I was going to be able to eat well there. We both went for a 1/2 grilled chicken and shared a side of mixed vegetables and sweet potato. It was a high class Nandos – and that’s not a bad thing! 8/10.


    I forgot to mention we drank quite a lot of red wine in the Argentinian place so I woke up on the Saturday morning feeling less than fresh – but still determined to stick to my plan of eating as well as possible. That went out the window when we ventured to The Pancake Bakery! It seemed like half of Amsterdam had the same idea.. but it’s always a good sign when you have to wait for a table. After Brandon convincing me I deserved it after all the walking we’d done (and it didn’t take a lot of convincing) I ordered a crepe style pancake with Nutella. It was everything that dreams are made of. I’m sure you can all imagine… but it beat me, I ended up feeling sick and couldn’t finish it. At that point I realised I’d made an error and should have gone for one of their savoury giant omelettes – which looked incredible! It still gets a solid 7/10 but be prepared for the laidback service!


    Lunch on Saturday was on the go! We ended up getting a Braatwurst from a stall, Braat! on the rooftop terrace of the Heineken Experience. This was a solid 10/10. It was far from what I’d choose as a healthy lunch option back home but it tasted amazing and I really wanted to try it – so I decided not to deny myself a simple pleasure.

    It was Italian (one of my favourite cuisines EVER!) on Saturday night at Casa Di David. It was just a short walk from our hotel which was also a bonus! We’d tried to get in on the Friday evening but they were fully booked – a good sign – so we had to wait! Make a reservation if you want to go at the weekend. I had Amatriciana bucatini (a kind of thick spaghetti-like pasta) and it was delicious. The carbs were most-welcomed after a long day of walking all over the ENTIRE city! I wish I’d worn my Fitbit to track how many miles we walked/steps we’d done.

    Pancakes were on the menu again for Sunday morning. This time, we dined at a really cool restaurant, Mook, which was quite a walk from our hotel – but oh, so worth it! The simple, clean interior oozed style and it was clear we were in one of Amsterdam’s hip, well established brunch locations. Surrounded by loads of cool and quirky people, we couldn’t wait to get a look at the menu! Brandon was excited to see stacks of pancakes being served around us and we both opted for the Blue Magic Pancakes – organic pancakes served with blueberries, maple syrup and coconut. Brandon chose the deluxe version which included strawberries and banana too! They were absolutely delicious but again, I couldn’t finish them! It felt naughty but healthy at the same time! I highly rate this restaurant and would 100% return if I’m ever back in the city.


    I realised I am a creature of habit when I ended up ordering another Caesar salad for lunch at a gorgeous restaurant we discovered, Herengracht, located in the Herengracht area. Either that or it’s just a popular salad that a lot of restaurants have on their menu. We dined outside in their terraced garden area with Brandon’s friends despite the sub-zero temperatures. That might be a bit of an exaggeration but it was close! I made my usual requests and to my surprise the waitress got it right without writing anything down. My salad arrived and it was delicious; a definite 9/10. Maybe it was the addition of the bacon but I wasn’t even jealous watching the boys eat club sandwiches and french onion soup!


    Sadly, after all that our weekend in Amsterdam came to and end and it was off to the airport to catch our flight home! There was so much we didn’t see or do and I would love to return to experience it again and check out more of the places we discovered to eat!

    I hope this is of some use to you all if you ever find yourselves in the Netherlands wondering where to eat out!

    L x

    ‘I Can’t Run’

    I said these exact same words to myself around a year ago when I struggled to run for longer than 5 minutes on a treadmill without feeling like I required a full tank of oxygen to breathe. I said it to my partner over and over again meanwhile I’d be sat on the sofa gorging on my second packet of crisps of the day. Then I was unable to run as my body didn’t have any fuel from starving myself. These were all excuses, because running was hard. In fact, it seemed damn near impossible to me at the time. I’d see people out running and wonder how they were performing this miraculous act. Oh, how messed up this thinking was. In reality, I couldn’t run because I wasn’t in a good frame of mind to try, not because MY body was incapable.

    My first piece of advice to anyone looking to get into running is don’t tell yourself that you can’t do anything. As I’ve discovered – the human body is capable of a lot more than we may even realise. It adapts to whatever you put it through! Everyone can run. You just have to get out there and remember that the first run is always the hardest!!

    Don’t do too much too soon either. Even experienced runners make this mistake. It’s no use running six times a week on week 1 and then week 2 is non-existent. Start slow and build it up until you’re consistent week to week. This is where you’ll see your body changing and progress being made.

    I’m about to enter into my training cycle for the Edinburgh Marathon in May after 3 weeks of being unwell. I’ll begin on Monday 6 February and train for 16 weeks. After recovering from illness I wanted to get myself back to a base-level of fitness before this begins and my first time back pounding the pavements was tough. I ran 2.5 miles (which was all I could manage) on Monday and then 3 miles on Tuesday – in pretty slow times compared to what I was doing prior to Christmas. It was difficult for me, mentally, to listen to my body and ease myself back in slowly. Yes, I’m a bit gutted I didn’t run a bit further or a bit faster but I would have done more damage to my body going hell for leather on those 2 runs. I made that mistake just after Christmas in going back to the gym too soon and it put me out for a further 2 weeks!

    And… just after getting back into running, I’m off to Amsterdam this weekend for 3 days so I’ll be taking some more time off exercising. Hopefully all the walking we do whilst sightseeing will make up for it! I’ve also done a lot of research into healthy-eating hotspots in Amsterdam so I’ll be doing a post on where to stay on track whilst in the city, when I get back! Keep your eyes peeled!

    Time to get my bags packed! Have a good one.

    L x