Training day

I’ve been meaning to write about Les Mills for a while now and have a lot to say, but for now, I wanted to give a quick shout out to the new, free workout they’ve released featuring Nina Dobrev.

They built up to it for a few weeks, with a new challenge each week such as completing as many burpees or lunges as you can in a minute. I didn’t participate in these challenges and now I wish I had because I would have been a bit more prepared for the awesomeness of this workout.

I’m relatively new to Grit and rubbish at it, so it’s nice to see Nina looking as shattered as I do after each and every track.

Also, who came up with burpees? Because I’d like to have a word.

Watch for those New Year’s Resolutions

Apple have presented Watch users with a new challenge for January, hoping to encourage people to stick to their new year’s resolutions and get active. A notification on the watch this week highlighted a new and unique badge that can be earned during January 2017 by completing the activity, stand and exercise rings for a full week Monday to Sunday.

It’s harder than it sounds, particularly if you’ve spent Christmas lounging on the sofa, but it’s totally doable and I love, love, love the motivation a standalone badge can give you.

I think there was previously a Thanksgiving challenge but I never saw it and so assume it was US only. I’m really glad they’ve expanded with this new one and hope there are more to come. But first, come on January, I need to earn me some stickers.


The healthy month of May

I’ve been wondering why I’ve felt quite tired recently, and then I realised. It’s because I’ve suddenly started focusing on my health and fitness again, ramping up the amount of exercise I actually do. Three years of concentrating on exams can have a detrimental effect on the time available for little things like: joining a gym, going for a walk, dancing around the kitchen, that kind of thing.

That’s all done and dusted (for now at least!) so I’m focusing on fitness which, for me, begins with the Apple Watch and it’s pesky three-ring strategy. Stand goals are relatively easy, but it took a considerable effort to get Stand, Move and Exercise maxed out every day. First I did it for a week, then that turned into two weeks, and then I thought, can I? Could I possibly? Will I be able to keep this up for a whole calendar month?

I did!!

Now there’s pressure to keep it up for two months, and there’s the added problem of trying to balance achievability against the excitement of the watch suggesting you up your move goal for the week. But it’s a lot of fun, and who doesn’t like to get a badge at the end of it all?

Get fit with Miranda… maybe

I’ve developed a bit of a fascination with workout apps and digital videos, and it turns out iTunes is stocked full of both. I’ve tried a few here and there, but was most excited when it was announced that Miranda Hart, of Miranda fame, was going to release something. The premise behind her video is that you have to have fun while getting up and moving, otherwise it’s easier to sit on the couch. Hence, Maracattack! It’s a good premise.

Unfortunately, I don’t think the end product works as intended. It’s a brilliant comedy video, stacked full of guests and jokes and Miranda being Miranda. As an exercise, the Maraca thing is unique and unusual, enough to peak your interest.

What doesn’t seem to work is the flow of the video at all. On iTunes, there are no chapters, so you either have to watch the whole thing each time, or spend an awful lot of precious minutes fast forwarding. The introduction, you see, is massive. It involves Miranda introducing herself and the concept, some new comedy clips, and a bit about making your own maracas with a special guest. It’s about half an hour before the actual trainer even shows up (and she is almost identical to Stevie, very weird). In between the sections, there’s more chatting and stuff, which just breaks up the rhythm.

The moves within the fitness regime are fun and silly, the crazy crab and the maraca version of a high five. There’s even some galloping around. I haven’t actually done the routine, but having watched it and compared it to others, I’d say it’s an odd mixture. Clearly, it’s aimed at beginners, hoping to get people up and moving when they’d usually be keeping still. But there are some moves that are a little advanced and somewhat precarious – one minute you’re doing a box step, the next you’re leaping in the air for flying star jumps.

One of the main problems with it though, is something Mr C pointed out. You get the workout videos to complete over and over again, and so they have to be fun enough to not get boring, whilst also not being too irritating on the hundredth time. Miranda has the fun sorted, but the pace and quips might not be so appealing on multiple viewings.

I’m assuming the chapter thing isn’t an issue on DVDs, because it can’t have been designed as one ninety minute lump that you have to navigate yourself. That’s my biggest issue with it, and probably the reason I wouldn’t get to the hundredth viewing to find out if it was annoying.

I admire Miranda for taking a new stance when it comes to workouts – it’s not your traditional Eastenders star wants to make a Christmas buck, it really feels like she wants to make a difference. There’s been criticism and probably even ridicule, which isn’t fair, because it’s a fantastic endeavour. I just think the routine needs a bit of tweaking, or perhaps a clearer idea of who its aimed at.

But hey, I’ll take more Miranda clips any day!

2013 running diary – A halting hiatus halfway

And so, I’m done.

If you’ve been following along, you might remember that May was a bumper month for running activities, including an epic 10k. Unfortunately, that 10k was the pinnacle, and the eventual downfall of my running career.

Gradually, things got worse and worse, and at the end of my May monthly update, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about it.

I completed four runs in June. The first was my attempt at a 5k, and it was bad but at least I completed the distance. The next was 1.4km, in which I had to stop and turn round, limping home with a painful thigh. I decided to take a full week off, and returned well-rested to complete a 30 minute run that felt a bit better. However, my last run was less than 3km, because the pain just came back again.

I tweeted at the time that I was desperately trying not to swear off running FOREVER, because that’s the kind of thing you say and then have to retract later. But, after a shower in which I couldn’t distinguish the water from the tears (DRAMA QUEEN), I realised I was done, perhaps forever, at least for now.

I stopped running less than a month ago, and since then, I’ve taken up more inside-based workout/aerobic/weight-swinging activities. I thought I was going to miss running dreadfully, and for the first few days I did. I would watch people jogging while I was driving to work and feel jealous, and guilty. But now, several weeks on, there are so many positives to what I’m doing now, that running feels like that bad boyfriend you keep going out with even though you know he’s no good.

The things I’m doing now, jumping around, doing weight repetitions, stretching before and after a workout, and really doing things properly, it’s like I can understand what’s happening in my body. When I was running, I’d throw on the shoes and hope for the best… and the best never came. I was never built for running, I kept doing it because it was the only thing I’d ever kept doing, and it served its purpose. At the moment, though, my body is saying enough is enough.

I don’t regret running at all. I’m so proud of that first 5k race, which was such an achievement for me in both sporting and mental endeavours. I’m proud of inspiring others to try it. I’m proud of sticking with it so long, and I’m proud of reaching 10k, even if I never got to improve on my time. Running has made me appreciate the weather, and the outdoors, a lot more, and it’s forced me to notice just how many flipping runners are out there! It taught me that you can keep going even when you hit a bit of a wall, and that it really doesn’t matter what you do because, like the song says, the race is only with yourself. I am fitter, even if my shape didn’t change at all.

So, I can’t say that I will never run again, but I can’t see it happening any time soon.

My only lingering regret is not finding out what happens in Zombies Run 2!

2013 running diary – 250 of 500 kilometres

Starting with the good news, I reached the halfway point of the “500 kilometres in one year” challenge. It’s quite a big achievement for me to have reached the middle mark, especially considering the slow start to the year I had! The gap between actual and target is also very heartening.


The bad news is that running at the moment is a complete nightmare. There’s a big leap in that chart where I completed a 10k. It felt okay at the time, although I was a bit tired afterwards and needed an extra day or two to get back in my running shoes.

However, even when I pushed myself to run 5k again, it’s just a struggle from start to finish. There’s a bit of a niggle in my right leg, but it’s not pain that’s making it hard. It feels as though there’s absolutely nothing to come from my legs, no matter how motivated I am. I can be breathing easily, swinging my arms, leaning forward, totally ready to zip forward, but the legs just won’t co-operate.

I’ve tried all kinds of things too, extra rest days, just pushing on through, extra stretching, stocking up on some energy or the opposite, nothing is working. I rewarded myself with new trainers when I reached the halfway point, and I was convinced that they would turn things around. However the run I did yesterday (counted in June’s numbers) was worse than ever. It’s been two weeks and going out again fills me with dread.

I don’t know what to do about it, other than keep plugging away and hope something changes for the better.

Meanwhile, I have to focus on the fact that I’m halfway through, with a month in hand. It could be worse, I guess.

2013 running diary – 172 of 500 kilometres


Hoorah! At last I have managed to not only keep up with the target, but overtake it and get a bit of a healthy lead. Another achievement this month is to have no gap longer than three days. That is something I am looking at working on reducing even further but I am slightly torn.

This 5k route I have found myself is becoming routine but I think I would have to do less to run more days, at least to start with anyway. And I don’t want to give up my 5k!

I had a bit of a disastrous run towards the very end of the month, in which both of my lower legs, knee and below, were not playing ball at all. I had an aching calf, a dodgy knee, my left foot inexplicably got pins and needles whilst running, and it was all just very wrong. I rested up a day, went out again today (May 1st) and it was as normal, if a bit slower than my usual snail’s pace.

Generally feeling good about running though, despite that blip, and the sun has started making an appearance which makes everything just that bit brighter. (And hotter, but hey, I can’t complain when I’ve spent all winter praying for the snow to go away.)