GymBug

I've caught it. Fortunately, it's not treatable.

Archive for the category “Exercise”

Earn rewards for working out!

Hi there!

So there’s been a gap in my posts because my parents were out visiting me for Easter! After a phenomenal week I’m devastated to say they’ve now returned home but I will be seeing them again in 45 days! People say time flies when you’re having fun, I can now definitly vouch for that one. After my brilliant holiday it’s now to get back on track. 3 weeks until my first 10k and I have my final visitor in between (which is another 4 days off exercising, not a bad thing though) so need to say focused.

Today, I discovered Bounts which is an app that allows you to collect points for exercising. Paid to exercise!? That sounds too good to be true! You collect points through your work out (for example, you earn 15 points for a 20 minute workout on MapMyFitness if connected to Bounts). You can then redeem these points for vouchers at places such as Waitrose, Starbucks, M&S and New Look! You can connect loads of apps and fitness trackers!

If you do sign up use referral code white327 and you’ll get 50 points straight away!

Money for keeping fit? Win. Win.

Gym Bug

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How I drastically cut my 10km run time

Hi there!

When I started running consistently it was during my Christmas break of 2012. I had put on weight in first year (the ‘fresher’s fifteen’) and was really uncomfortable with how my clothes felt and how unfit I was generally. I started running with my dad who had been at it for a while. When I ran my first 10k it was brutal. My time was around 1 hour 15 minutes. It was a struggle the whole way and my evening was spent with me on the couch. It was here I realised just how unfit I had been.

I started running regularly and more and more I started to enjoy my Dad’s and I’s Sunday 10k sessions. By Christmas 2013 we were running 12k’s and made the mistake of doing a 16k too (no one won that one). Our 10k always hovered around the 1 hour mark. My dad is over 50, so we never pushed it.

Fast forward to Summer 2014. I went on a family holiday to Nerja (below you see the view from our villa, which indicates the length of the hill I had to run up). It was here my sister introduced me to hill sprints. Brutal, heart-pounding hill sprints. We only had to do roughly 20-30 minutes to be as worn out as a solid 45 minute run! I fell in love with the new high intensity element, something that I had generally lacked in my running. I continued to do hill sprints when I got home over the summer and I noticed my 10k runs with my Dad were becoming easier and easier (but not faster, because my Dad is over 50, I was warned).

I joined a gym within my first couple of weeks of moving to Madrid for a year abroad for University. I started off with just using the bike, doing some intervals and things. Then I went onto the treadmill and slowly started incorporating more and more intervals and HIIT into my cardio. I now combine HIIT on the treadmill and the bike for 2 cardio sessions a week, I do about 45 minutes each session.
Important; my first stint in Madrid was September-December, and I lost far too much weight. A key part of this was doing too much HIIT and not fuelling my body properly. Even with weight training I ended up being scrawny and unhealthy. If you do HIIT, ensure you’re fuelling your body correctly too. This means good carbs, protein and fats.

Now, onto Christmas 2014. I was limited to my exercise routine because I was putting on weight (because it was absolutely necessary). However, I did go out with my Dad for a 10k during my tme at home. The second we were out the car he said ‘Just you go on and run at your own pace’. I initially resisted, because I enjoyed the time we spent together running, but he refuses to accept it wasn’t my fault we ran a 16k!
It ended up being a mistake anyway, I ran so far ahead he tried to reduce the distance between us and pushed himself to far. However, I ran 11k in 57 minutes! I couldn’t believe it. I thought back to what caused my sudden incrase in speed and realised it was the HIIT. Whilst I did not fuel myself, my fitness and times improved dramatically (the lack of fuel is really bad and embarassing, I’m not endorsing my stupidity, if you do HIIT or speed work, fuel it right)!

My most recent 10k which I did on a treadmill clocked in at 47 mins 35 seconds. I altered my incline and speed throughout to achieve this and I wasn’t wiped out by the end! (I was tired, don’t get me wrong).

So, after this long (hopefully not boring) story, what’s my point? My point is if you want to cut your time and improve your fitness, logging kilometers and kilometers of steady running will not do it quite the same as using HIIT, hill sprints and lots of intervals. You need to speed train to improve your times!

Here’s an example of what you could do on a treadmill;

Warm-Up; 5 minutes at 9km/h

Sprint; 1 minute at 13-15km/h (wherever you feel you won’t come flying off the treadmill)

Rest; 1 minute at 9km/h

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Cool-Down; 5 minutes starting at 9km/h then reducing by 0.5km/h every minute.

I do this often, I also mix it up with inclines in place of a sprint. The point is to challenge your body and your speed. You also don’t need to workout for as ong when doing HIIT because your sending your heartrate into a higher zone (if done correctly. Check out my HIIT post for more information on HIIT and routines!

Gym Bug

Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2015

Hi there!

I’ve already mentioned in a post a while that I was running the Edinburgh Marathon Festival 10K with my family, but I thought I’d tell you a little more about it!

There are 6 different events taking place on Saturday May 30th and Sunday May 31st. On Saturday the 10K, 5K and Junior Races take place. On the Sunday it’s the Marathon, Half-Marathon and Marathon Hairy Haggis Team Relay runs. There really is a distance for everyone!
Prices vary and can be found on their website. The price includes the run itself with all associated entertainment, a technical wicking finisher’s T-shirt, medal, accurate chip timing, training plan, online results and a race recovery pack! There is also stalls in the finisher’s area with companies marketing their products as well as delicious food and drink to be purchased! The course also has numerous water and energy stations, providing hydration and energy gels (the energy gels are for those running the Half Marathon or Marathon).

EMF 2015

The whole event is in support primarily of MacMillan Cancer Support, who you can choose to run and fundraise for when you sign up. You can of course choose to run for your own charity! It’s a great way to raise some money and get fit! My family are fundraising as a group for MacMillan because cancer has hit our family quite hard and we all know the value of support for the sufferers and their loved ones. I know it’s a big ask, but if you can spare anything please donate on our JustGiving page.

MacMillan are a brilliant chairty seeking to provide help and support. I can’t describe them any better than they have on their website;
“No one should face cancer alone. So when you need someone to turn to, we’re here. Right from the moment you’re diagnosed, through your treatment and beyond, we’re a constant source of support, giving you the energy and inspiration to help you take back control of your life.”

                                                                      Enough said.

As someone who has watched loved ones go through diagnosis, treatment and (unfortunately not everytime) recovery, I know how important a solid support system is and how valued it is by everyone involved. MacMillan deserve funding and are a key source of care for those suffering cancer and their loved ones.

So if you’re looking for some fantastic motivation, go for the Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2015! Get your running shoes and get going!

Gym Bug

My first 10k event!

Hi there!

Just a quick post for just now to share my excitement at having signed up for the Madrid Rock ‘n’ Roll 10k in April! I’m super excited and have signed up with a friend to do it. I’ve ran 10k before a lot but never in an event setting. This race as well gives loads of great perks icluding photos, pasta meal, a huge fitness expo, a commerative gift, T-Shirt and medal! All for £18. It’s incredible and I can’t wait to be part of a big runnig event through Madrid in the sunny month of April!

I’ve written a post already on motivation which explains how signing up to these things can be a great way to kick start a healthy change! Set yourself some realistic goals and you’ll be amazed by how great it is at helping you stick to your plans!

                                               Let’s get training!

Gym Bug

Un-dull the gym bike

Hi there!

Today was cardio day and I did a mix of treadmill work and bike work. Anyone that’s used a gym bike repeatedly probably understands that it can get quite monotonous and boring and the drive to keep pushing yourself dwindles away relatively quickly. However, today I tried a different type of bike session involving my gym playlist on my iPod. It’s almost like a little game you play against yourself. It’s really easy but can get your heart rate soaring at times, so it’s a really good HIIT workout.

Basically, after your warm-up start your chosen playlist. You want to have a mix of heavy, fast songs and slightly slower ones to achieve a mix of strength and speed work. Once you’ve started your HIIT session you cannot touch your iPod unless it’s to change the volume. The idea is that from now until cool-down you have to match the beat of the song that’s playing. No changing. To achieve the beat you need to change the resistance to allow you to match the beat whilst still working hard. If a really fast song comes on do not drop all resistance and let your legs freewheel. Make yourself work! What you’ll find is that instead of watching the clock you’re concentrating on the song and trying to think of any changes in the beat or how a particular song goes. It distracts you from the time and has you challenging yourself. It’s quite fun!

A couple of really good songs to have on your playlist can be found in my previous post here.

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

Gym Bug

I’m trying something new!

Hi there!

So I’ve decided to mix up my gym routine completely in an attempt to tone up more and put on more muscle mass. I’ve decided to now have “body part days” in the following format;

Day 1; leg and bum day
Day 2; arm, back and shoulder day
Day 3; cardio

I will then repeat this process again to maintain my usual 6 days a week at the gym!

I decided it was time to change up my routine and doing 3 days of cardio was seeing me not gain enough muscle mass (I was losing weight, didn’t want that). Mixing up also means more motivation as I’m not stuck doing the same again.

I shall keep any readers updated on how I think it’s going! First time I focus so much on my weight lifting!

Gym Bug

Getting Motivated

Hi there!

Hope everyone is enjoying the New Year! Since it’s a New Year you may be looking to change up your training, do something different, explore a new way of fitness? Well, I have a few challenges you may be interested in trying out to get that extra kick you need to make 2015 a great and healthy year!

I’ve already written about Spartan Race and Tough Mudder and I recommend checking those posts out! (of course I do) but there’s also plenty more motivational challenges to take up!

If getting super filthy and electrocuted is not your thing there are plenty others to take a look at. If you’re a Rock ‘n’ Roll fan (or just keen to run) then ‘Rock and Roll Edinburgh Half Marathon & 10K’ could be right up your alley! They have events all over the world! I’m going to enter the Madrid 10km in April. Check it out!

Not a runner? No problem! What about doing a combination of cycling, climbing and canoeing in the Lake District? This one is a lot more expensive (£195 plus min. £2,000 sponsorship) but it looks incredible and all money raised goes to Action Medical Research (helping families cope with early babies, disabled children or caring for a child with a rare disease). You join a team of 3 other people to cycle 50 miles through the Lake District before climbing Mt Helvellyn and then finishing off with a canoe trip to Lake Thirlmere. Sounds tough!

If you’re more of a water baby then why not give the Great Swim a go? It proudly boasts the fact that it’s Europe’s biggest open water swim series in clean lakes, lochs and urban docks all over Britain. It’s the first year it has an official charity which is the phenomenal Macmillan Cancer Support, but you can raise money for any charity you wish. It’s throughout Britain between June and August.

For those of you that are up for a tough, gruelling triathlon that also raises money for blood cancer research then the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Blenheim Palace Triathlon is for you! (What a mouth full!) Again, it’s more expensive (but it’s a great cause) Registration costs from £82.50 and you need a min. sponsorship of £300. It takes place in Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire. You can race individually or as a team.

You should take a look at local runs too. Park Run is a brilliant organisation that free, weekly, timed 5km races around the world. The linked website is specifically for the UK but Google it to find out about any in your area! It’s a great way to meet runners and set yourself a weekly motivational goal!

This is literally a teeny, tiny teaspoonful of what’s out there in terms of charity sporting events, take a good look and pick your motivation! I’ve got Spartan Race in a few months and it’s constantly motivating me to keep pushing a little harder. With my injury my aerobic fitness is plummeting but with the knowledge that I have to endure a grueling 8 mile obstacle course I know I’ll be fighting fit again in no time!

So choose your challenge and get going!

Gym Bug

Getting oot’n’aboot

Hi there!

For non Scottish readers “oo’n’aboot” translates to ” out and about”. It’s highly stereotypical and I love the phrase, I have no idea why. Anyway, now that I’m home I do not have access to a gym, which is really, really, really nice. I get to spend my cardio days outside in the gorgeous (haha) Scottish weather.

I love getting out and going for a good run outdoors. My first run since returning was great and it didn’t feel like a workout. I ran at an average pace of 5.33 minutes per km, which was faster than I usually run and I really enjoyed being outdoors rather than looking at my reflection in the gym window on the treadmill. Not getting sweat in my eyes was also an added bonus.

Running outdoors is not only more aesthetically pleasing, it also has additional heath benefits that you can’t get from a gym. Outdoor running means you’re exposed to a variety of different terrains. This adds to the development of muscles in your legs and gets them nice and strong!
Anyone who has run outdoors will also have probably, at least once, faced wind. Running against the wind requires more energy which requires more calories! You won’t get that kind of natural resistance in a gym.
You get fresh air! The gym can become a hot box and the air becomes thick and warm, but outdoors your lungs, body and mind can rejuvenate and benefit from getting decent fresh air.
I also find that running outdoors leaves me feeling more refreshed. I can come in from a run outside feeling more energised. I attribute this mainly to the fact that I’m not drowning in my own sweat and I smell of outside.

If you can’t run, I still recommend trying to get outside as much as possible. There’s so much to do! Go for a walk, a hike, a cycle, even sit outside and enjoy the fresh air. A well-balanced, healthy lifestyle is not achieved by powering it out in a gym. You need nature to help keep your lungs and mind fresh!

If you do decide to go outside for a run and don’t want a monotonous run, try mix it up a bit. You can sprint for 1-minute and jog for 1-minute (or any length of time). I like finding a hill and doing hill runs too. There’s a long hill next to my house and I find a good, challenging run is to run one full length at a moderate pace, walk down, sprint half the hill, walk to the bottom and repeat for a maximum of 5 times. I don’t plan on going beyond 5 repetitions of this because it will most likely end in injury. Instead I focus on improving my speed and recovery.

So get out there and enjoy the fresh air!

Gym Bug

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/treadmill-vs-running-outside.html

http://healthontrack.info/outdoor-running-benefits/

Tom Tom Runner Cardio GPS Watch

Hi there!

A while ago, for my birthday, I was given the Tom Tom Cardio GPS Watch. It’s been months since I received it but I wanted to give it a really good go before I spoke about it. And, since there’s been a couple of gaps in posts and I’m wide awake at 6am I thought I would tell you a little bit more about it! What appealed to me about it was the fact that it has a heart rate monitor, which is a more accurate measure of calorie burn and fitness improvement. It’s a great way to keep track of how well you’re doing throughout your training and that was a major appeal to me. The heart rate monitor is also not a strap around your chest (which I’ve heard can be annoying). The heart rate monitor is placed underneath the watch face and is an optical monitor. A rather bright green light (do not look into it) will appear when the watch is active and this measures your pulse on the top of your wrist to measure your heart rate. Another appeal is the GPS tracking device that is very accurate and can be paired with an app on your laptop, smart phone, tablet etc to get a really nice looking presentation of each of your runs and your progress.

Fit The fitting of this watch is important. The heart rate monitor will not work properly unless it’s placed in the correct place on your wrist, which is just above the wrist bone. It’s not uncomfortable fortunately, even though you have to fasten the watch in such a way the watch fits snugly. The fit is tighter than I wear a normal watch, but the wide strap makes it more a comfortable fit . The strap is wide and fastens very securely, so there’s no movement on the run (at least there shouldn’t be it you’ve tightened it enough). Once fitted, the watch is pretty quick at detecting your heart rate.

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Use Once you’ve excitedly torn the watch from it’s impressively sturdy plastic box you need to charge it. It’s a relatively quick process and once it’s charged it’s very easy to get started. You can fill in all your details regarding your age, height, weight and gender to get accurate readings. It is also possible to have it in pounds or kilograms, miles or kilometres and centimetres or feet. Once fully charged the battery lasts between 4-6 hours, depending on length of your runs. Using the watch is really easy. There is one large button underneath the watch face that you use to navigate through the menu. There’s 3 options for running; run, treadmill or stopwatch. You can custom the run into sprint, speed, endure, fat burn and easy. It’s a super easy watch to navigate which is brilliant. Also, I know other runners who have touch sensitive watches and running in the rain makes it a nightmare sometimes to use them, this one does not have this problem! It is also waterproof (although I do not recommend showering with it on). The GPS element of the watch is also quick. I typically don’t initiate the GPS loading until I’m outside walking towards my gate and usually by the time I’ve gotten to the gate (about 30 seconds) the watch is ready to go. Once you start running you can have the watch display calories, distance, time, heart rate or average pace. If you have customised your run, for example to sprints, it will beep and vibrate to inform you of when to speed up or slow down, so you don’t need to be constantly looking down to monitor your pace (which results in a time check, which can be hard). During your run you can pause the run very easily by holding down the left button for 3 seconds, then to re-start the run you press the right button. The screen moves fluently through the menus and is easy to read whilst bobbing up and down. You can also activate a light by touching the actual face of the watch, the back light is powerful and brilliant for less than ideal visibility. Post-run you can check your run statistics on numerous channels. The first is the actual watch, via the ‘History’ option, you can also sync it via bluetooth to your smartphone or tablet if you have the Tom Tom Sports app (recommended). You can also set it up on your laptop or computer and plug it in via USB. The bluetooth connection takes a bit longer than the USB but sometimes it’s less hassle to sync via bluetooth than boot up a laptop! Monitoring your progress is very easy with the Tom Tom app (laptop/smart phone/tablet version) interface. You can see all your runs in chronological order and by clicking on it you can see a map of where you ran plus graphs showing elevation, speed, calories and average pace. It also very easy to use.

Overall This is my first running watch, but I’ve used a couple of Garmin watches in passing and I’ve got to say, the Tom Tom experience for me has been a lot better. I find it a lot easier to use and the built-in heart rate monitor is the real deal breaker or me. I can’t imagine having to wear a chest strap (a sports bra is enough, thank you). The watch fits well, doesn’t rub and gives me an in-depth analysis of my run. You can also connect the device to websites such as The Running Bug, which allows you to track your runs and exercise on a social network. It’s both brilliant for the gym and running outside.

I won’t lie, I had issues with this watch regarding the heart rate monitor. Upon arriving in Spain the heart rate monitor started to cut out when I got sweaty (which was very quick, given it was 30°C or higher). However, I contacted Tom Tom support, who very quickly got the watch repaired for me! Tom Tom’s quick and careful service ensured I would actually review this watch. I can accept sometimes things malfunction and Tom Tom’s professional handling of the mistake makes me believe the watch is definitely worth buying because if something doe go wrong, Tom Tom will help.

So, if you’re looking for a new running watch and want good, accurate readings, go for this one! You can also get it’s sister Tom Tom Multi Sport Cardio GPS Watch, which has additional settings for cycling and swimming. The Runner comes in black and red or red and white and whilst it does have a high price (standard RRP of £219.99, I got mine on Wiggle for £190 on offer) it is worth it if you’re really focused on training and improving. The watch can also be a great source of motivation as it pushes you to keep trying to improve your performance. Looking at your progress on the app and seeing it displayed run by run really motivates you to try “shaves those last few seconds off”. It also helps you get the most out of your workout. I really love my watch and it’s easy use, comfortable fit and sleek technology definitely make it one of my better purchases! Last minute Christmas gift, anyone?

Hope everyone has an excellent Friday and an even better weekend!

Gym Bug

12 Days of Christmas

Hi there!

So Christmas is almost upon us! Which means chocolate, cake, alcohol/soft drinks and an incredibly indulgent Christmas dinner! Cannot wait! However, you don’t want to un-do heaps of hard work in a few weeks so here’s a little Christmas challenge! It’s the 12 Days of Christmas.

12 Days of Christmas will start on the 26th December. It’s the day after you’ve eaten until you literally can’t eat anymore. Presents have all been opened, merriment was had, games were played and everything. One thing? Time to get back to business. It’s not a difficult challenge at all. It’s just a way to keep motivated and do a little something each day to keep in the swing of exercise.

It’s very straightforward, there are 12 exercises listed below. Each day choose a different one and do 100 repetitions of it through the day. I plan on doing 10sets of 10 repetitions throughout the day sporadically. I’m not going to set an order because I think being told exactly what to do makes it so much easier to convince yourself not to do it.

The Moves

  • Push ups (modified or normal)
  • Tricep dips
  • Superman (Total of 10 minutes throughout the day)
  • Plank (Total of 10 minutes throughout the day)
  • Squats #
  • Calf raises
  • Kick-backs (100 each leg)
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Lunges (100 each leg)
  • Bridge
  • V-sits *
  • Side plank pulses (100 each side)- this is where you are in the side plank position, then pulse upwards 10 times each side. *

That’s it! 100 repetitions for 12 days! Not so hard right!? If you’re feeling adventurous, exercises with a * can be made harder with dumbbells and exercises with # can be made harder with a kettlebell.

Merry Christmas everyone and have a fabulous New Year! Posts will become more sporadic from now until after Christmas because I have exams and then I’m off home! I promise to try be as active (in more ways than one) as I can though.

Gym Bug

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