Marcothon – A year later…..

I didn’t stop running. Still going.

Here are some stats from successfully completing 366 days of running (trust me to do this on a Leap year!!)

In 366 days I ran 973.7 miles.  I wanted to go for 1000 but have been ill most of November. Continuing the streak was more important to me than lots of mileage.

That 973.7 miles took a total time of 185hrs 28minutes 31secs.

Working on an average of 100 calories per mile (although I am ‘bigger than average’ for a runner) that means I burned off 97370 calories. My body shape has changed but I am still roughly the same weight that I was at the start of the year.

My fastest mile was approximately 8:20.

My slowest mile was 12:45 – the day after both the Manchester Marathon and the Salisbury 54321 events.

The earliest run I went out on was 5:58am. The photo below was taken an hour later.

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The latest one I did was just after 8pm.

The best place (in a tight competition) I ran was the disused runway at Templehof Airport, Berlin (below). From one end to the other it was 1.3 miles.

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The weirdest place I ran was 1 mile up and down the quieter platform at Kensington Olympia tube/rail station after spending all day working at an exhibition there.

Marcothon has different rules – a minimum of 3 miles or 25 minutes, whichever comes first.  To start or keep a streak (or #runstreak) going, you only have to do 1 mile per day, which at the slowest pace to count as a run would be about 15 minutes.  So whilst I am once more taking part in Marcothon, I will be trying to do the 25 minute minimum per day.

After a while I started taking pictures of things I saw as I ran.  They can be found on Instagram (vixxthompson) under the hashtag #thingsiseewhenirun.  I will post some of my favourites in a blog or two soon.

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Copyright 2016 Kinetic Lifestyle/Vixx Thompson. Please do not reproduce without permission.

100 not out…

Marcothon finished, but I did not.

From December 1st to today (March 9th) amounts to 100 days.

100 days where I have run at least 1 mile every day.

Here are some stats:

Since December 1st (to today) I have run 320 miles.

Working on a basis of 100 calories per mile (but most likely more as I’m not a skinny thing), I have burned off 32,000 calories.

My fastest mile was yesterday at 8:57 min/mile. I stopped after one mile because it wasn’t going to get better than that!

I’ve done a few slow miles – mostly around 12:30min/mile – and some of the longer sessions I have done have been run-walks after about 4 or 5 miles so that I can start upping the distances again so those can be a little slower still, but I note all the walking distances so that I know I am running more than I walk.

Overall, I have become faster.  On Dec 1st I did a 5km to get a reasonable judgement on where I was at.  Dec 2nd was faster, but it was not a very nice day and I needed to let off some steam.  So Dec 1st was still the benchmark.  That 5km was done in 32:00min.

Today I hit 5km in 28:30min.  I managed 4 miles in 37:45min.  I have not done that for quite some time.

But what have I learned?

Over this time, a large number of people have all expressed concern that I’m not having ‘rest days’.  I shall address this in a separate blog, as my thoughts on it are quite lengthy. I have, however used it as a way of getting more acquainted with my own body – getting used to how it feels under pressure, and how the aches and pains that were almost ever-present in December are now more manageable because I am listening and reacting differently.

Some days it can just be Mind Over Matter.  Days where I know I will be pushed for time, I can be out and running before I am truly awake.  Luckily, I am dressed!  It stops procrastination, and I’m home and making coffee in the time I would have spent faffing around debating what time to get out there.

The best runs are often the ones you dread the most.  I went out in one the other week.  The car said it was 3C outside, and there were flurries of snow dancing around in the wind.  It felt like -1C, and catching my breath wasn’t always easy, but it felt strangely exhilarating!  Another day the wind was hefty and the rain was falling.  My legs felt like lead.  You can’t choose the weather to run in.  You roll the dice and go when you can. If it’s sunny half an hour later, then that’s just the way it is.  I have to say – I did love the Christmas lights during December.

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I’ve tried to run in as many different places as I can, so that I can see new things – and there’s so much to see out there! When my knee is stronger still I will head back to the trails.  Overall, my legs feel stronger, and my cholesterol has come down along with my weight, so I am starting to see some fitness benefits now.

There are more tests still to come, and for now I will continue.  There are other people who have their own runstreaks going, and I am inspired by them and their ability to continue every single day for as long as they have.  I am not putting pressure on myself – I just want to do it whilst I enjoy it.

8 things I learned from Marcothon.

At the end of November, I had an invite on Facebook to an event called Marcothon.  The basic premise was simple: all you had to do was run every day in December for a minimum of 25 minutes or 3 miles, whichever came first.

Initially I was going to reject that idea.  December is a hectic month at the best of times, and I really didn’t see how I’d manage it.  During this Marcothon I would also be getting married, as well as celebrating birthdays and Christmas.  However, as I’d not done a lot of training since the Berlin Marathon I figured that even if I did the minimum each day it would provide a good fitness base to work from, so I said Yes to the invite.

On December 2nd, there was an unexpected death in the family.  I could have stopped there and no-one would have said anything.  But I didn’t, and from that point on I felt that the only way I could stop would be if I got injured.  There was no excuse that mattered after that.

  1. Planning ahead helps.

Looking ahead to see when I could fit my daily run in helped me to be more organised.  If I knew when I was likely to be free to run I had more chance of actually getting out there and achieving that day’s target.

2. Be prepared in case of schedule changes.

I kept my trainers and running gear in my car so that if there was a cancellation, or I finished early then I had a chance to get my run done without wasting time.  This helped me with #3:

3. You can see lots of different things.

I got to run in a number of different places that I had wanted to run in, but had never previously had the opportunity to do.  As a result, I saw lots of new places and found that my running was more enjoyable with the changes in scenery.  I especially enjoyed running around the streets in the evening and seeing all the Christmas lights on people’s houses and garden trees.  They have been so pretty to look at and really nice to see so many people getting into the Christmas spirit.

4.  It can be a great way to socialise.

There were a couple of runs over the month where I had company, and that was great as it gave me a chance to catch up with my running buddy, and we got some fresh air.  December has so many parties and social opportunities that I was grateful to have a social catch-up without eating or drinking coffee.  You also don’t notice the miles as much when you have someone to chat to.

5.  It can help you clear your mind.

With everything that has been going on over the last few weeks, it has been good to get out and just have 25-30 minutes to mull things over.  I have felt pressured when out though to get back and get on with things, but once I am out there I can just think things through, and occasionally find the answers I want too.

6.  Coffee isn’t as important as it used to be.

Now, I like my coffee.  I don’t need it to wake up to though now, as there were a couple of times in the month that in order to get my run in I had to be up earlier than I would generally have liked.  Both of these involved literally getting up, getting dressed and getting on with it.  I think I was actually out running before I could say I was awake!  I know now that I don’t need coffee to get out running (but it is nice).

7.  There’s no ‘NO’.

Procrastination goes out of the window.  There’s no “Shall I?” because you ARE going out unless you want to drop out of the challenge.  As I said above, there was no excuse big enough to drop out so it became a case of WHEN rather than IF.  That made me better organised overall, and I feel that I was much more productive over the course of the day – especially on the days where I had to be up and about earlier.

8.  Mixing it up helps keep it interesting.

There were times when mentally and physically it did feel like hard work to get out consistently, and I found that I tried to plan optimally so that I wasn’t doing runs back to back too closely – so if I went out on an evening, I tried not to go out too early the next morning.  If I did a speed session on one day then I tried to take it a bit easier the next day.  Different scenery and a few hill sessions helped to keep things mixed up well.

**********

I enjoyed the challenge, and I have actually decided to try and keep going – the next goal I have set is to continue to make 50 days consecutive running.  Some days I will have to stick to the minimum time-frame, and other days I want to try and start getting back to longer distances.

The cameraderie of Marcothon was another reason to keep going.  Everyone was so supportive and generous in their time and comments to each other to keep the motivation high.  Thank you to everyone – it was fun, and I hope to be back again next December to go again.

25 minutes a day can seem like nothing to some people and yet it can feel like forever when you are doing it, but it did make me realise that I could be putting more of my day to better use, and that’s my aim for 2016.

What could you be doing better with your time?  Is there any activity you could be doing in 25 minutes a day?  Let me know!

Have a great day!

Vixx 😀

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Twitter: @KineticL

©2016 Vixx Thompson/Kinetic Lifestyle.  All rights reserved.  No reproduction in whole or in part without permission.

How badly do you REALLY want something?

I recently had that thought put to the test.  I had previously thought that I had really wanted something, only to then look at things differently and consider changing my mind and accept a different result – but when the chance to achieve a dream was being taken from me right before my eyes I had to make a decision there and then.  What exactly did I actually want?  Did I want it as much as I thought I did?

Let us go back about 12 months.

My partner and I entered the ballot for the Berlin Marathon.  She absolutely loves Berlin, and  I’d had a long-standing knee issue that had stopped me from running so I thought it would be something that would make me push harder to find out the cause of the problem and get it sorted out.  She got into the ballot and I did not.

The thing that she did not know at this point was that I had planned that we would do the race together and toward the end, as we approached the Brandenburg Gate I would propose.  Not getting a ballot place meant that temporarily this was not going to happen.  Down, but not out, I looked at getting a place running for charity.  Some wanted more money than I knew I could hope to raise.  I have done marathons before, so it’s not a new challenge that people would be interested in.  The last charity I looked at was Shelter, who wanted an amount I could manage to raise.  They had a spot for me, and I was grateful for that. (www.justgiving.com/vixxthompson)

So then began the long process toward regaining my fitness and trying to sort out my knee and leg issues.  I could cross-train quite successfully, but as soon as I started trying to run, the discomfort and pain would return, so I asked a couple of friends to help me with resolving this issue.  I am qualified in sports massage therapy and rehabilitation techniques, so going to the doctor was not really possible in the short term, as I would only be sent for physiotherapy in the first instance which I could do for myself.  I could walk OK, and I could manage to work with no problem.  I didn’t actually wish to see a doctor until I had exhausted my own rehab options.  If there was still a problem after trying rehab then I would go to see my GP.

I had a suspicion as to what was wrong due to where I could feel the most pain and discomfort, and this was confirmed when I had it looked at and it was found that my kneecap was off-centre due to tight musculature on the outside and weak musculature on the inside of my leg.  Thus began a long process of massage, trigger-point therapy and rehabilitation exercises alongside cross-training.  Down, but not out, and getting stronger.

Over time I managed to start doing some small amounts of running, but not particularly fast.  I had other things to look at too such as arranging a ring.  My partner had arranged the hotel, and we arranged the flights, but I needed to find a ring (not easy when your partner doesn’t wear jewellery), and get it to Berlin without her finding it, or getting a hint of the situation.  Airport security loves to pull me aside for a frisk or a bag check (8 times in my last 4 trips to Europe), and I was concerned that they’d be looking through my bag, pulling out the box with the ring in it, and the missus looking over my shoulder, going “What’s that?”

There’s a way around everything though if you want to look hard enough.

A friend of mine works for a well renowned jewellers, and he helped me to get the ring and kept it for me until as close to the trip as he could, so that there was less chance of it being found by anyone.  I entrusted a few friends with giving an opinion on the ring and with keeping things secret – which helped me immensely! Thanks guys!  I tried to plan this out so that the less people who knew, the more chance of this being a total surprise.  In my head I had it all planned out so that it could be a day for her to remember.

However, on the day things became markedly different.  I’d had a cold come out a couple of days before, but luckily it had stayed as a head cold and did not go onto my chest.  The sneezes and sniffles had disappeared by race morning, and we had prepared in the best way that we could.  We had planned to run together, and we got to the Start Line together.  The race was on.  Although mentally it wasn’t.

Getting to the start line of a marathon is tough.  It takes a lot of planning and preparation, and training and getting the right nutrition.  But if you get up in the wrong frame of mind on the day, it can still go wrong.  My head said it didn’t want to do this.  I was worried about the cut-off.  I was concerned about the knee being untested at this distance.  I was frightened I would be forced to stop because of it.  Doubt had entered my mind right at the last minute.

Down, but not out.  Keep one foot in front of the other until you’re sure of where you want to go.

So many things started to go wrong that I was fighting the odds right from the start line.  After 1km I could quite easily have stopped and gone home.  I didn’t feel comfortable with my running pattern, and it was already starting to shape up to be a hot day.  At 3km the sweat running down my face was mixing with the sunscreen that I had been made to put on and my eyes were burning.  At 8km I had a mini mental-meltdown, and at 13km my stomach was rumbling!  With 29km to go at this point that was a bad sign.  Luckily the water stations also had bananas and apple slices, and whilst I am not a fruit fan (love veggies though!), I took some banana to shut my stomach up, which did the trick.

I was spending every footstep reminding myself why I was doing this.  I was raising money for people who needed a roof over their heads, who needed support from people when there was no-one else to help.  I was lucky enough to be able to afford to fly to Berlin and stay in a hotel to take part in the race.  I was thinking that I am lucky that I have a roof over my head every night, and I should be grateful that I have the opportunity to take part in such a huge race to be able to try and help other people who might need it.

However, soon after this came the defining moment of the race – THE moment where it was time to decide just how much this race mattered to me, and just how much I wanted to finish it.  Down, and very nearly out.

As we passed the halfway point, we were a little slower than I would have liked, although we had been informed that the cut-off point for finishing was later than we had previously been told.  We were just starting to pick up the pace when I heard a noise behind us.  Approaching were two coaches.  I turned round and pointed to them, and said “Those must be the elite athletes, they’ve run it, won it and are going back to the hotel.”

Only, it wasn’t.  The buses pulled up behind us and a man got out and told us to get in.  I realised to my horror that it was actually the sweeper bus, for those who are not moving quickly enough to finish the race in the allotted time.  I moved away slightly, my partner arguing with the man that we could still finish in the time allowed.  “You must move onto the pavement then,” he said as he moved on to other people around us.  We moved as fast as we could, but the bus and its convoy soon overtook us, and started to move slowly into the distance.  Heads down, we just kept putting one foot in front of the other.  About a kilometre or so later, we bumped into some race marshalls that were all heading their separate ways.  One looked at my race number with confusion, and barked something at me in German.  I can usually understand German if spoken slowly so my confused look must have been especially fetching that day as he then spoke in English.

“What are you doing?” he said.

“Carrying on with the race.”

“No. No, no.  The sweeper bus is gone.  You must stop.”

My other half steps in.  “Why? We were told we could carry on along the pavement.”

“It’s not safe.  The roads are re-opening.  You must stop.”

Down.

Out?

The choice was made in seconds – possibly before I had even had a chance to properly think it through.  IF I thought it through.  Suddenly we were running, sprinting as if our lives depended on it.  We were dodging people on the pavements, weaving in and out of spectators who thought that the race was past them.  We had to periodically stop and catch our breath, but we kept pushing.  Suddenly I saw the 25km marker in front, and they hadn’t yet removed the timing mats.  The rules before the race stated that if one of these mats were missed by a runner, then that person would be disqualified.  We had to get over that mat, but there was fencing up, and the drinks tables were being dismantled before our eyes.  But there was a gap ahead!  A small gap, but enough to squeeze through to get over that mat.  It beeped as I went over, and then I heard it beep for the missus and I knew that we weren’t out yet.

We still had to try and get ahead of the sweeper buses though, which were still ahead of us, although they were getting closer now.  As we approached them, I ran on the opposite side to the door – just in case they tried to make us get on them again.  Luckily, the chap was too busy trying to persuade other people to get on to notice us advancing.

WE WERE BACK IN THE GAME!

From that point on, every single person we passed was another person between us and that bus.  I firmly believed that we could do this now, but we still had work to do.  We teamed up with other people at times to push through at an acceptable pace.  Sometimes they went on, and other times we went on, but we were all avoiding being called to the bus in our own way.  My leg was getting stiff now, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t deal with and the pain wasn’t getting any worse.  I took fluid at every aid station, having finished my bottle miles beforehand and ditching it in the gutter somewhere.  Gels were taken regularly to make sure I didn’t run out of fuel, even though they were making me feel sick – I HAD to finish now.  I knew I wanted this, and I wanted to carry off my plan exactly as I had thought it through in the days before the race.  As we hit 40km and the final timing mate before the finish, I knew we were safe from the bus.  We continued forward.

As we turned the corner and the Brandenburg Gate came into view, I realised that this was what the whole race had led us to.  We were still together, and I could feel the ring box in my pocket telling me it was time.  We passed some cheerleaders and made our way onto the cobbles, with the area still busy with spectators.  I unzipped my pocket and took the box into my hand.

I told my partner that I had something for her, that had travelled with me today and that it was time for her to have it now, but that there was a question for her first.  I told her that we’d done all of this race together, and that we’d met because of a marathon, but that I didn’t want to finish this one unless she would be my fiancée.

I didn’t get down on one knee.  I was frightened that I wouldn’t get back up.

Luckily she said Yes.

**************************

Marathons are often used as euphemisms for various trials of life, and over the course of one, things can change quite rapidly.  It’s rare that everything stays the same but it’s about handling the changes that occur whilst you undergo the distance.  It can see the best and the worst of you – just like life.  Whether you are quick or slow, you’ll go the same distance.  Some people take longer to reach their destination than others.

The thing is that people want things enough to go for them.  If it matters enough, then whatever you want to do in life CAN happen.  It may take longer, or there might be diversions in the way, but if it matters enough then these things can be overcome.  You will learn more about yourself than you thought, and will be a true test of time and patience, but if it is worth it to you, then it is worth sticking with.

After all, nothing truly worthwhile in life just drops into your lap, does it?

What do you really want?

How do you intend to achieve it?

Let me know if I can help.

Have a great day,

Vixx 😀

©2015 Vixx Thompson/Kinetic Lifestyle.  All rights reserved.  No reproduction without permission.

We NEED to talk about depression.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/31142797

After reading about Clark Carlisle’s recent revelations in the media about his suicide attempt before Christmas last year, it made me sad, but it also made me think.

We have a strange attitude in this country toward mental health.  The British ‘stiff upper lip’ is trying to remain in place, but it is beginning to quiver.

People are suffering from depression and anxiety in silence, because they are frightened of being judged.  They are frightened of people avoiding them, not knowing what to say or do for the best.  They are frightened that one day it may all become too much for them.

Depression has a few signposts, but they can be mistaken for other things if someone is not specifically considering depression as an issue.  Symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Difficulty remembering details.
  • Difficulty making decisions.
  • Fatigue and decreased energy.
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness.
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism.
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping.
  • Losing interest in things that used to be enjoyable.

It seems that there are a few higher profile people now talking about suffering from depression, but it’s not something that we should be frightened of, it is something that we desperately need to acknowledge – not necessarily for our health, but for the health of someone in our family, or our friendship groups – someone who may need to talk and get help, but may be too frightened to ask for that help because they are ashamed or embarrassed.

Do YOU know someone who has suffered, or suffers from depression?

Do you know someone who MIGHT be dealing silently with depression?

With help, depression can be managed, and hopefully, if we can learn to understand and accept that depression is an illness that can strike anyone at any time, then people may learn that they can open up and talk about this horrible illness, and receive the care and compassion that is needed to help them to help themselves.

No-one should feel that they have reached the end of the road.

No-one needs to feel that they have been left in the dark.

No-one should feel alone.

If we can start to talk about it, and bring the subject of depression out into the light, and make it more acceptable as an illness, then we can all start to fight this, and help those who need it.

Just because it can’t be seen, doesn’t mean it isn’t there, and what appears to be the end of the road doesn’t mean that there isn’t a corner there to turn.  I sincerely hope that Clark Carlisle is on the road to better health, and that he and his family are getting the help that they need. Depression can affect the family too if it gets as bad as it did for Clark, and I hope he recovers fully from this. Get well soon Clark!

Please talk to your GP if you feel that you may be depressed and wish to seek help.

If you don’t feel that you can talk to your GP, then please try The Samaritans (www.samaritans.org) on:

  • 08457 90 90 90 * (UK) – *call charges apply
  • 116 123 (ROI)

If there are other support groups, please leave them in the comments below.

Let’s talk!

Vixx

Twitter: @KineticL

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KineticLifestyle

What you can see in the gym when you weren’t looking for it…..

I recently returned to the gym after an extended absence.  I should add that I love the atmosphere of the gym and have always enjoyed training in one, but I was running marathons regularly and getting my exercise outdoors and so paying gym membership has not been a priority – especially when I’ve been with my running buddies, and seeing them regularly (and paying for race entries can accumulate!)

I’ve primarily rejoined the gym due to persistent niggling knee issues that have put the kybosh on any running-related activity for the time being.  It’s allowing me to keep up my cardiovascular fitness (even walking can be problematic at times, otherwise I’d be walking to keep fit), and it’s also allowing me to do my rehab exercises, so that when I can run again I should be able to come back fitter and stronger – and less likely to become injured as quickly.

I prefer to train stealth when I am in the gym. It’s MY time to train, and I don’t let people know I am a Personal Trainer (even the ones that work there don’t know).  This allows me to be able to watch other people training when they think they aren’t being watched.  It’s amazing to see the different ways that one exercise can be performed if you watch enough people try.

There’s a reason that exercises should be done in a certain way, and it’s called Avoiding Injury.  You wouldn’t drive a car alone without having some practice or lessons first (and passing your test of course), and you wouldn’t sit an exam without having some knowledge about the subject you were sitting, so why do people think it’s fine to go and fling a dumb-bell around without having any idea as to what benefit it would have?

I’ve watched a number of people exercising today who have differed in their level of skill at the exercises that they were performing.  Some were brilliant, and you could tell that they have had a lot of practice in the exercises that they had chosen, or that they had been taught well at the beginning.  One guy caught my eye in the mirror (not like that you dirty minded individuals!) as I was finishing a set, and I had to use my rest period to watch what he was doing.

Initially, I thought he was doing exaggerated toe touches, but then I noticed he had a weighted medicine ball in his hand (the ones with grips on), and he was using it to do kettlebell swings.  His feet were not far enough apart for optimal weight distribution, and he wasn’t bending his legs at all, bending at the waist instead.  He was taking the ball back so far on the down phase that it was causing his head to be almost hitting his knees, and on the upswing it was going so far backward that he was almost hitting his backside with the ball.  There’s a lot of strain being placed on the legs, knees and lower back with that version and other muscles will be overcompensating by having to be used for stability and power instead of the legs, glutes and core.  It’s asking for trouble in the long term, but he’s picked this up from somewhere, whether it’s a mate who showed him, or he’s watched someone else and decided to try it himself.  Chances are that he won’t see any positive results from it, which will be a shame as he put a lot of (misplaced) effort into it.

Kettlebells can offer a lot to someone’s training routine, but with anything new being added to a training plan, it’s best to learn the correct technique first and then develop the strength by upping the weight of the kettlebell as you get used to the movement.  Kettlebells are about movement and control to assist in developing power and strength.  Get it wrong and it won’t be enjoyable and could well lead to injury.  If in doubt, this is where a Personal Trainer or Kettlebell expert will be able to assist you to make the most of developing your workout by teaching you correct technique, and to help you to get it right whilst you learn.

This guy wasn’t on his own though – there was also:

  • The chap sat on the exercise bike with his seat too low, forbidding him from getting optimal leverage out of his long limbs as he tried to get more power into his cycling. Just adjusting his seat by about 4 inches would have allowed him to be a little more comfortable, and would have allowed him to have much more power for much less energy expenditure.
  • The chap doing sit-ups who was continually looking toward the telly on his left hand side, and had little control on the downward movement. He also was going beyond the point of working the abs, into hip flexion. Isolating the abdominal muscles a bit more would probably have allowed him to have a little more control with his downward return, rather than overdoing the upward movement and taking his chest up to his knees (he was using a raised board), which looked a little uncomfortable for him overall. Keeping the head forward would be a better bet too, rather than straining the neck in that manner.

And the WINNER:

  • The guy who was doing the same exercises in THREE different areas of the gym.

He wins for me. He was doing bench press at one end of the gym on his own, then leaving his stuff over there to come over to the other end of the gym to do what I think was supposed to be chest flyes, but the dumbbells that he was using were so heavy that he couldn’t get the proper range of motion on the movement and so it was similar to what he’d been doing on the other side of the gym.  Then he was going around the corner to the chest press machine (rather than the pec deck, which was also right by it and would have offered a slightly different range of motion exercise) and struggling to hit the top of the movement.  This ended up being about 90 repetitions of the same movement using different equipment to work the same muscles.

He is also a winner (in the most sarcastic terms) because he:

  • Dropped the weights at the end of every set to announce he had finished.
  • Didn’t put the weights back. (If you can lift them off the rack you can put them back!)
  • Didn’t clean off ANY of the areas in which he was working.

Just be glad that no-one was using the Concept 2 rowers today or this would never end…..

Today’s Gym Moral is – if in doubt, ask for someone to watch your form, or get someone to film you on your phone so that you can compare it to a video from a trainer online (if you are too shy to ask a Trainer to watch your technique).  Exercise should be fun, not frustrating!

Have a great day!

Vixx 😀

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Post Race Recovery.

To my old and new friends, who will be embarking on the Enigma Running Week at the Knees tomorrow (7 marathons in 7 days) – good luck, and race well!

For more information on Enigma events, visit www.enigmarunning.co.uk.

There are many people out there who are entering into running half or full marathons.  They invest in a decent pair of running trainers, maybe take time to get their gait analysed to minimise the possibility of injury.  They might take the time to download a training plan, or ask for help from others who have run the distance before as they look to get started.

Then, they put the time and effort in to prepare their bodies for the rigours of completing the challenge that they have set themselves.  They train, they put the mileage in. Early morning runs, after work training, building up and working toward race day.

They check their dietary requirements – many people find that they don’t drink as much alcohol, or have as many nights out as in the past, as they want to achieve their goal.  For many, fundraising for charity may play a big part in motivating them – and no-one wants to fall at the last hurdle!

The day arrives and runners crawl out of bed, nervous and excited for what lies ahead.  They have breakfast, lace up the trainers, pin on the race number and head to the Start line.  A few hours later, with a smile and a medal, mission completed, many fall into a satisfied glow before overlooking the one area that is just as important as all the effort that has gone before:

Recovering after the race!

There is not as much information out there on post-race recovery as there is about preparing for the race, training for the race and fuelling yourself properly before and during the race.

Personally, I see the post race recovery as being just as important as the effort that I put into training for, and completing the race.  I am at the slower end of the pack, and I will spend more time out on the course than many other people doing the same event.  My muscles will be working longer, where other people’s muscles will work faster.  The effort is different but the recovery still needs to be done – especially if you want to be able to reduce the aches and pains that the muscles will feel the next day.

My recovery starts the minute I finish the race.

Nutritional recovery:

I know that I am not alone here, but I just cannot eat for the first couple of hours post-race.  However, this is the optimal period for nutritional recovery to take place.  Ideally (although the theory appears to be changing), the first 20 minutes after finishing an event is when the body likes to be able to utilise protein effectively, so I always make sure I have some kind of protein recovery shake in my race bag, so that I can be sipping on that as I cool down.

Whether it’s a milk drink (or milk substitute) or a protein shake, I find that easier for my body to stomach (no pun intended) in the immediate aftermath of the finish line.  By sipping it, it’s less likely to cause digestive problems, or make a return visit.

For those who can stomach small amounts of food, then yoghurt, soya desserts, or a handful of nuts and seeds will also be effective in the initial stages.

There is a 90-120 minute window post-race for carbohydrates, but I prefer to make sure that I have a balanced meal when I feel up to eating, rather than forcing myself to eat when I am not ready. Most protein recovery or milk drinks have carbohydrates too, so I’m not neglecting that area anyway.

Eat when you feel ready, but make sure that you do eat something. The body needs to repair itself and it can’t do that when there are no materials to work with.

Hydration recovery:

Fluid intake is also important post-race as dehydration can occur during the event, and if fluids are not replaced, then this too can impinge upon optimal recovery.

Aside from the protein drink, I also have a cherry juice drink, and depending upon requirements, I might stick an electrolyte tablet in there too.  Cherries have been found to have a compound within them that assists in muscle recovery – reducing soreness and joint stiffness.  I’ll have approximately 500ml of that – some people prefer something like Cherry Active, but I have found that supermarkets that have a foreign foods section quite often have a cherry juice available for purchase, so I can just buy it as I require it.

Between race finish and about an hour before bedtime, I will regularly sip on fluids and check my urine colour to ensure that I do not remain dehydrated for longer than necessary.  I don’t gulp down fluids as they cause bloating and discomfort.  Sipping allows the body to rehydrate slowly but surely.

I know many people like to have a celebratory beer post-race, and there was some research done in the UK a few years ago showing that Real Ales were quite effective in aiding recovery (as long as they were not drunk to excess), as the quality of the hops and the brewing process allowed for better carbohydrate within the drink than with lagers and other alcoholic beverages, which just tended to dehydrate the body further.  Thus, enjoy a Real Ale rather than a poor imitation!

Cool down recovery.

It’s amazing how many people ‘stop’ post-race, or complain that they have to keep walking through the funnelling to get their medal/water/foil wrap/baggage once they have finished, but this is designed as such to allow the muscles a chance to cool down and allow the lactic acid to start working its way out of the muscles and be flushed out of the body more efficiently.  If the body stops before it has been given the chance to cool down, then the lactic acid remains in the muscles and this contributes to DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Stiffness/Soreness) either the next day or the day after (when it sneaks up on you with little or no warning).

As I am sipping my post-race protein drink, I stay on my feet, slowly moving about.  When I have finished it, I have the first of many gentle stretches.  Only gentle, nothing exceptional as the muscle fibres will already be suffering from the small micro-tears that make them stronger in the long run, so it is only ever extremely gentle, but enough to help me ward off stiffness later on.  I will probably stretch 5 or 6 times between finishing the race and bedtime, for no more than 3 or 4 minutes at a time.

I also change my trainers (I keep a second pair in my race bag) so that my feet have a chance to wear something different – it’s amazing how different your feet feel after a change of footwear!

Hydro recovery.

Basically, this is bath-time.  I’ll have a quick cold or lukewarm shower first before having a warm bath.  The cold shower will allow any areas that might be swelling from exertion (such as feet or ankles for example) to get some cool water on them to help ease any areas that have potential to be problematic, as well as allowing the body to stimulate and remove any post-race toxins as waste products. This doesn’t need to be long at all, a couple of minutes at most.

The warm bath is just to allow the muscles to relax as you get clean.  If in a facility with no bath, a warm shower works just as well.

 

This is what I have been doing for the last 10 years after races, and I have found that the only times that I have had problems are the occasions when I have missed out one or more of the sections above – or left them for too long after the race.

What works for you?  What are your post-race rituals?

Have a great race!

Vixx

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