GymBug

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

Archive for the tag “change”

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

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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

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

Lower Intensity Interval Training

Hi there!

I found another variation to an extremely dull treadmill session! It’s slightly lower in intensity than my 1-minute off, 1-minute on one which is good if you’re wanting to a good workout but for whatever (legit) reason can’t quite manage it. Don’t let the title fool you, this will still get your heart rate up and you nice and sweaty (if you’re inside, although an outdoor treadmill seems a bit dodgy). Lower intensity should not mean easy, it should be slightly easier than you high intensity.

It’s really straightforward and you can alternate it really easily into different workout lengths.

First thing is first warm up for 5-minutes; best to start at a brisk walk and build up to your recovery pace (run at recovery for at least 1-minute and 30 seconds).

Now the fun begins.
2- minutes at a medium-intensity incline (I use 6%)
1- minute recovery pace
2-minutes at a fast run (I use 14.5 km per hour)
1-minute recovery pace
Repeat for desired length of time.
Cool down (5-minutes)

There you have it! It’s lighter but still incorporates a bit of interval training. This is good for beginners, a slightly more relaxed workout or to try improve endurance or build up your speed (maybe you’ve got a race coming up?)
If you’re looking to improve speed then best do repeated sessions of 2-minutes at a fast run instead!

Have a great day, we are half way through the week! You’ve got this.

Gym Bug

Winter Running; Don’t Get Caught Out In The Cold

Hi there!

So, today marks the 3 week countdown until I’m finally home. This also means 3 weeks until I’m back running in less than warm temperatures. Here are some useful tips if you’re like me and will be keeping the Santa weight off by outdoor, winter running!

  • Get decent shoes. You don’t want slush from snow or horrible rain making it’s way into your shoes and making your feet ice blocks. This will make it hard to warm-up and can be incredibly uncomfortable! Shoes with very little mesh are better. Also, socks designed to get rid of moisture but keep your feet warm may be a good investment, for example, SealSkinz.
  • Dress to impress. You don’t want to go out looking like Eskimo, because sweating heavy will cause you to get a chill. Best to do is to dress as if it’s warmer outsider than it actually is, you should be a little bit cool to begin with, that’s alright. You will heat up on your run, just make sure you’re not going out there in shorts and a vest top, because you could catch a chill before  getting the opportunity to warm up. Clothes that vent when you heat up are perfect for this. Also, wear a hat and gloves if it’s particularly chilly.
  • Get bright. Visibility and daylight are more limited in the winter. Invest in a hi-vis vest or a headtorch or any reflective material to help vehicles and other people see you.
  • Prerun Warmup. Best do this inside your house without ending up dripping in sweat. Do some jumping jacks, run up and down the stairs, anything to get the heartrate going with minimal sweating. You want your body to be prepared for a run.
  • Quick post-run change. Change out of damp clothes as soon as possible. A warm shower will be great as well if you can. Try get a hot drink too. Just try get warm again as soon as possible because you start to cool down the second you stop running. If you’re running in a place where you need to drive home, take a flask of tea/hot chocolate/coffee/hot water to have when you get back in.
  • It can be too cold to run. It’s best to gauge this yourself, but a rule of thumb for me is if I can’t go outside and walk without fear of slipping, I’m not going to manage a run. Also, if the cold makes breathing harder/painful, it’s not going to happen. I’d rather do a H.I.I.T session inside instead!
  • Running with a cold. If you just have a case of the sniffles, “I have a cold” isn’t a super solid excuse not to go. However, if you have a fever or these symptoms spread to below the neck (chesty coughs, bad throats etc) it’s probably best to take a rest day!

That’s it! A few tips I’ll be using when I return home and endure the wonderful weather Scotland has to offer! Hope this is helpful to a few people out there who will be running through the cold too!

Have a great day!

Gym Bug

Mixing Up Cardio

Hi there!

Never miss a Monday! I always try follow this, I think going to the gym if you can on a Monday sets you up for the week ahead and has you in the right mind-set. However, it is a Monday. Today, I was heading to the gym telling myself exactly how my 30-minute treadmill session would pan out. 5-minute warm up, 20-minutes HIIT alternating between 1-minute on (hill climb or hill sprint) with 1-minute off, 5-minute cool down. I didn’t fancy it. I’ve done it a lot this semester and wanted a change. So, whilst on the treadmill I decided to mix it up a bit. It’s as follows;

5-minute warm, 0% incline, set speed as desired.

Set 1

  • 1-minute sprint at 0% incline, 17km per hour.
  • 1-minute recovery at 0% incline, 11km per hour.
  • 2-minutes at 6% incline, 11.5km per hour.
  • 1-minute recovery.

Set 2

  • 1-minute at 6% incline, 13.5km per hour.
  • 1-minute recovery.
  • 2-minutes at 0% incline, 14km per hour.
  • 1-minute recovery.

Set 3

  • 1-minute at 11% incline, 11.5km per hour.
  • 1-minute recovery.
  • 2-minutes at 6% incline, 11.5km per hour.
  • 1-minute recovery.

Set 4

  • 1-minute at 11% incline, 11.5km per hour.
  • 1-minute recovery.
  • 2-minutes at 0% incline, 14km per hour.
  • 1-minute recovery.

5-minute cool down.

STRETCH

Total time recovering; 8 minutes
Total time working; 12 minutes
Warm up & Cool down; 10 minutes

That’s it! The 30-minutes flew in and I added a new cardio workout to my repertoire. Obviously, change inclines and speeds as desired, but it was an intense workout. I think (and hope) that it’s also a good way of helping train my endurance, rather than 1-minute on, 1-minute off like I usually do, I’m going at a slightly lower intensity for longer. This mixes it up a bit and reduces my time running at incline 0% at 11.5km per hour, which should hopefully see my fitness go up a bit too! Give it a try and let me know what you think!

This was followed by a 15-minute HIIT session on the bike consisting of 1-minute recovery, 2-minutes work intervals. And the whole workout was preceded by some abs work (planks and reverse crunches today).

Have a great week!

Gym Bug

H.I.I.T

Hi there!

This is anther one of my older post from my previous blog, but I’ve mentioned HIIT a lot so I thought it’s best to upload again! HIIT standards for High Intensity Interval Training and is an excellent way to get your heart rate and fat burning capabilities through the roof!

The idea behind HIIT is simple; short bursts of high intensity activity followed by a short rest, this is repeated until the desired time is up. The best thing about HIIT is that you can do it with anything! (Note: when I say “on” I mean as hard as you can go, when I say “off” I mean recovery where you allow your heart rate to drop). I thought I’d convince the un-convinced by doing some research to get some scientific evidence in front of your eyes!

Simplyshredded refer to a study conducted in Laval University. They kept it basic, 1 group followed a 15-week HIIT training plan and one followed a 20-week steady state cardio plan. Steady-state group burned 15,000 more calories than HIIT group BUT HIIT group lost significantly more body fat! The science behind it is that because HIIT is tougher on the body, it requires more energy (calories) to repair itself afterwards. HIIT essentially has a more effective after burn.

Still not convinced? The same post also stated that short bursts of high intensity cardio help us hold onto our hard-earned muscle mass! You just need to take a look at Bradley Wiggins legs (who competes in long, steadier races such the Tour De France) compared to those of Sir Chris Hoy (who does short bursts of intense cycling around a velodrome).

All of this is further emphasized by Jim Stoppani, PhD, who refers to the same studies conducted in Laval University and Ontario University as well. Just  do a little research yourself if you need further convincing. However, please give these (or your own versions) a go, HIIT is amazing!

Running;
If you’re interested in giving HIIT a go with running to mix it up and maximize calorie burning then best start off with an “easy” HIIT run to get a sense of you’re own capabilities. Doing this until you pass out is ill-advised, for obvious reasons. When I gave it a go prior to being injured I ran hard for 30 seconds and took 30 seconds off. I repeated this until I had doing it for 15- minutes in total. The run itself was 30- minutes (7.5- minutes warm up, 15- minutes HIIT, 7.5- minutes cool down). HIIT is great because it never gets easier! You can alter the length of the intervals or the intensity as you see appropriate!

I now tend to do 15-20 minutes of HIIT (1 minute on, 1 minute off) with 5 minute warm and 5 minute cool down.

Cycling;
This would be applicable to a typical spin class for example. It’s intense, short bursts followed by recovery. Then you sob as you’re told to do it all again. If you’re not part of a class you can still do this, indoors or outside! I have 2 sessions, each lasting 45-minutes.

Session 1: This is a sprint session. Take 5-minutes to gradually increase your heart rate through increasing the resistance. Once the 5-minutes are up it’s 35-minutes of work! I tend to follow the same (monotonous, yet effective) pattern, 1.5-minutes on with 1-minute off. You repeat this a total of 10 times, then it’s a 5-minute cool down. (Note: feel free to lengthen the warm-up and cool-down as you see fit).

Session 2: This one uses hill & seated climbs, sprints and jumps (alternate between 10-15 seconds standing, followed by 10-15 seconds seated, repeat for desired length). Again, I do a 5-minute warm up, 35-minutes of work, 5-minute cool down. The 35-minutes of work consist of 2.5-minutes of either a hill climb, seated climb, sprint or jump. Mix it up to enhance the work-out. This is harder, in my opinion, than the solid sprinting because it’s uses different muscles, for example, when I hill climb there’s a lot of burning on my glutes, which is less severe when I do a seated climb.

Aerobics;
Aerobics aren’t new and they’re great, but not as challenging as they could be. This is where “HIIT-ifying” it comes in. Give yourself 30-minutes and split it into 5-minute warm up, 20-minutes work, 5-minute cool down. I’ve written out an example below for a HIIT workout I do (no equipment needed, but if it has a * next to it, you can use a dumbbell(s) to make it harder). Work for 40 seconds with a 5 second rest between each exercise, then take a 1-minute rest between each set.

Repeat each set three times. It’s 3.25-minutes per set with 5-minutes break in total, so it’s 19.5-minutes of work! Remember 40 seconds on, 5 seconds rest between exercises with a 1-minute rest between each set.

Set 1:
Jumping squats
Press ups
Bicycle crunches
Russian twists*
High knees

Set 2:
Running on the spot (go as hard as you can)
Tricep dips (overhead tricep extensions with a dumbbell works too)
Push up plank (explained below)
Superman (explained below)
Burpees (explained below)

A really good idea is to mix it up! Write out your own HIIT aerobics plan that targets those large muscle groups you’re aiming to improve/tone/strengthen/shrink. Now a quick explanation on some of the moves.

Push up plank- start in a normal plank position with your elbows on the floor. Move into a raised plank position with your hands on the floor and your arms straight. Return to original plank position with elbows on the floor. Repeat for stated length of time.

Superman- lie on your stomach, arms and legs stretched out. Lift your head, arms and legs together and hold for a few seconds/the whole time. If you hold it for a few seconds before returning to the start position, repeat until the specified time is up.

Burpees (I hate these, but they’re a good exercise)- start on your feet. Jump as high as you can and when you land go straight into a crouch. Kick your legs back (so you’re in a raised plank position) and then bring them back into so you’re in a crouched position again. Jump back up, making sure to explode from the ground and repeat.

Anything that is unclear best go onto youtube/google to double check. As always, best to be completely clear on the technique and the moves to avoid any injury. It’s also possible incorrect technique means you’re not actually benefitting from the exercise. Nothing worse than wasted effort! (except injury)

HIIT is a great way to mix up your exercise regime and can help keep you away from the weight-loss plateau or the horrible repetitive strain that can occur. Otherwise it’s another way of keeping fit and healthy! Be careful though, this is a very intense form of exercise if done to highest of ability, so limit yourself to how many you do a week!

Gym Bug

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