Running

It’s been a while!

I’m trying to exercise more this year to try and finally pass my minimum skills. I’m so close! Now up to 25/26 laps in 5 minutes, so all I need is those last two laps. I’ve managed to pick this up with no effort other than working as a teacher and spending all my time on my feet running after small children, which got me thinking, what could I do if I actually tried?
It’s not that I don’t enjoy exercising, it’s more that with my training course and my career choice I end up coming home at 6ish every night too exhausted to do anything else. Judging by my fellow trainee teachers, it’s a miracle I manage to make time for myself to see my boyfriend and go to training. When I think about it, I have plenty of time in the evening to do something, even just half an hour of something.  It’s all about habits. So I’m taking up Trebles challenge of #exerciseeveryday and one of the things I’m trying is a Nike+ Run Club program.

To say I run would be a massive exaggeration. I mostly walk with the occassionally jog. But I have done parkrun before quite a few times, so I know I can cover 5k on a good day. I’ve never done street running, mostly because I am terrified. Every time I think of it, my anxiety cranks right up and starts catastrophic ingredients.  What if I’m hit by a car? What if I twist my ankle? What if someone stabs me or a dog mauls me or godzilla suddenly comes to rain down hell on my tiny town? All ridiculous worries but all very hard to overcome nonetheless. I asked for help and found that I’m not the only one who worries about this. And either omw advice and encouraging words I’ve made it out for 2 runs this week.

My first run looked like this. A solid walk with a bit of jogging! However, I was put of the door and going. It also helped me find a route I was relatively comfortable with. It was extremely icy, so part of the issue was a fear of slipping over. On top of that, I had a horrendous sore throat that felt like I’d swallowed a golf ball every time I swallowed! I wanted to start, but I had to start easy.

Yesterday, I went to the gym with my boyfriend who showed me how to deadlift. I managed a rough total of 20 reps (over a few sets) at 40kg. I also did cable rows and goblet squats, so this morning my body is full of aches and pains. Despite this, I made it out for my ‘benchmark’ run.

I managed much more jogging/running this time! The time recorded by the app is longer but I think I actually completed my mile faster – about 20 seconds at the end was spent wrestling to get my phone out of the arm band to end my workout!

My reason for this post was to make some notes that won’t fit in my fitness diary, because I noticed some progress and struggles that can’t be shown by these statistics.

  • My breathing was way off today. Maybe that’s because it’s cold and that’s upsetting my lungs or because I drank a whole bottle of wine last night, who knows! Maybe it was because I was pushing myself harder. I found myself coughing a lot!
  • I jogged lots more. I also jogged for longer than I thought I’d be able to. A few times I actually surprised myself that I was still going.
  • I managed to make my route a full mile so now I can measure how long a mile takes me ( and work up to being able to run a full mile!)
  • Despite my thigh based DOMS, my calves, shins and ankles aren’t hurting as much as they did after my first run. I’ll regret saying this tomorrow, I’m sure.
  • Running didn’t make those DOMS go away but it did soothe them for a bit. That’s important to remember in the future when I’m moaning about not being able to move.

Hopefully this continues! I moan about it but I’m actually really enjoying it. Here’s to 2017!

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5 Ways to Make Girls Interested in Sport

For those of you who are not up to date with British news and politics, there’s been concern lately over the lack of girls and women interested in sport, and brainstorming over how that can be corrected. Inspired by one local MP’s suggestion that girls should be encouraged to try ‘feminine sports’, I thought I’d expand and elaborate on her points, and come up with some more advice on how to get girls interested in sport.

1) Try feminine activities

Helen Grant advises that girls try feminine sports like ballet, cheerleading and rollerskating so they can still look “radiant” whilst doing them (I know that, after two hours on skates, I’m still fresh as a daisy!) I would like to suggest some other feminine activities that girls should try, such as Pram/Trolley Races, Shopping Bag Relay and the Five Metre High Heel Sprint.

If you want to do an activity but aren’t sure whether or not it’s ‘feminine’ enough, keep in mind this simple rule: if you’ve read it in any Jane Austen novel, its acceptably feminine for you. Such activities include taking a turn around the parlour, a stroll in the garden, or a hike across the Cotswalds.

And finally, if you absolutely have to do any more “masculine” activities, you should only do so if you can do it side saddle. Take up side-saddle horse riding. Work out how to ride a bike side-saddle. It’s the perfect way to get fit and look graceful and feminine while doing it!

2)Avoid sweat at all costs

Of course, no one has ever broken a sweat while doing ballet or cheerleading. It’s not as if they are high energy, physically demanding activities. My second piece of advice is to absolutely avoid asking girls to do any activity that might possibly make them sweaty, because they will refuse to do it – as everyone knows, even a drop of sweat turns the prettiest girl into a drooling ogre. Perhaps schedule activities such as car or motorbike racing, as long as you’re not asking them to put on hot and heavy leathers or helmets that’ll mess up their hair. For a less intense experience, why not try wheelchair sports, but get men to push the girls around so they don’t have to move at all. Alternatively, make sure every activity takes place either in water or out in the rain. That way, absolutely no sweat will stay on their skin, and that’ll make all the girls happy.

3)Make all sports co-ed

This one will make you look good on all fronts. It’ll look like a completely modern, revolutionary idea, a true step towards equality – breaking down those gender barriers that have long declared that girls aren’t fit to play alongside the big boys and allowing, nay, demanding that society changes its colours and makes way for the rise of the female. Good job! You’re the saviour of womankind!

Of course, this is just a face. In reality, the idea behind this one is to play on what motivates girls. And why do women do anything? For the men, of course! Introduce co-ed sport and girls will get involved with every and all sports as a chance to meet and impress men. Its a simple solution, really.

Or you could go the other way and….

4)Separate men and women entirely

Girls are afraid of looking sweaty, and as we’ve just discussed, the only possible reason behind this is they’re afraid the males, aka. Potential mates, will be utterly repelled by the sight of them. So if you don’t want to limit your girls to “feminine” activities, the only option is to eliminate the male factor altogether. Of course, we couldn’t get rid of the men (how would we womenfolk cope without men to run the country?), so I propose splitting the UK into three sections, separated by big, berlin-style walls. The men will live in one section, the women in another, and the third section in between for designated Breeding Periods. This way, women can do whatever they want, including sport, without the fear of men being repulsed by their actions, and ensure that the men only see them at their very best.

5) Give up on sport altogether

Alright, so that solution makes no sense, and if we’re honest, none of this advice is practical at all. I suppose our only option is to give up on sport altogether. Not just the women, either. The entire planet. We’ve all seen Wall-e, and frankly, I don’t think life on that ship looked too bad. If we can’t get women to exercise in a feminine, non-sweaty way, we might as well resign ourselves to that lifestyle. I’m booking my moving chair now.

How to Start Enjoying Exercise (by someone who hated it)

I’ve always disliked exercise – it was boring, hard work and never really seemed to have any effect on me. I never lost weight, my body didn’t change shape, it seemed to be like I was wasting an hour or so every day doing something I hated for absolutely no reason. Recently, however, I’ve been won over. This morning, when I got out of bed, I did half an hour of pilates before I went for a shower, and not only did I enjoy doing it, I felt absolutely awesome after! It’s occured to me that what I hated wasn’t exercise in general, but the way I was going about it. So I’ve got some tips for anyone who wants to be more active but is struggling with it

1) Find motivation

Motivation is a personal thing. Before now, I was trying to exercise because I was told I needed to lose weight. The biggest problem was I just wasn’t interested; Other people cared a hell of a lot more about my weight than I ever did, and weight loss really wasn’t enough reason for me to get up and do something I knew I didn’t like. I did get upset about my size, but what’s struck me recently is that I wasn’t upset about my weight itself as much as I was about other people’s (read: my doctors’) reactions to it. As far as I was concerned, I looked fine, I didn’t struggle with any ordinary tasks, I ate healthy and I was active, and as long as nothing was wrong with my health, why would I change anything?

That’s still the same. I’m not at all concerned with the numbers on the scale (I am faintly aware they are going up, mostly because my fat is being transformed directly into muscle), but I’ve found my motivation. I want to be a better skater. I want to skate faster for longer, hit harder, basically be an unstoppable force. This has been the first step to transforming my attitude towards exercise – now, I have a clear reason to do it with measurable effects, and because it’s working towards something I want I am enjoying it a whole lot more and finding myself wanting to exercise almost every day.

So find your motivation. If your only motivation now is to lose weight and you still can’t exercise, it’s probably not enough of a motivation for you. Besides, I’d advise against goals like that anyway, because exercise does crazy things to your weight – I know a lady who is fit, gorgeous, and last week squatted 95kg, but in the past three months has also put on a stone. Lots of stress is put on weight in our society, but in honesty the important things are health and fitness. So instead, perhaps aim to get fitter or more toned. Find something you like and set goals towards that. Perhaps you want to run a marathon, or just be able to ride your bike all Sunday with your kids. Even if you’re not likely to be able to achieve it, work towards it – Want to climb Kilimanjaro? Hike across New Zealand? Row across the British channel? Perhaps you will never have the money or resources to do that kind of thing, but why not train towards it, get to a level where you could, if the opportunity arose. Perhaps it would, one day.

2) Don’t do anything you don’t enjoy

I hate running. I have flat feet that turn out like a penguin and make my legs hurt just walking around a shopping centre, and that’s not even talking about the hassle trying to run with breasts is, even with the best sports bra money could buy. But what exercise machine do I own? A treadmill. What would I do when I went to the gym in my first year? Go running. And I’d get bored, lose interest and give up.

For some reason, I thought that was the only way to get fit. Especially because, at that point, I wasn’t concerned with building muscle, just burning fat, which I was convinced was best done through cardio. This is all entirely ridiculous, of course. My point is, if you don’t like it, don’t do it. There’s plenty of alternatives – if you’re looking to improve cardio, there’s more you can do than running. Skating, riding a bike, swimming, even dancing. And for every muscle, there’s more than one way to develop them. Don’t like crunches or sit ups? Pilates roll ups are 30% more effective anyway, which means you can do fewer! Try different things until you find something that works for you, sticking with things you don’t like is just going to make you hate them more

3) Tailor your exercises towards your goals

On top of there being more than one exercise for every means, there’s more than one way to do them! You don’t have to get on a treadmill and run for an hour a day. You don’t have to sit for half an hour straight doing high intensity workouts.And in some cases, it’s not productive to do it this way.

In my case, I’m training to play roller derby. Being on skates as much as possible is always good because the more comfortable you are on four wheels, the better you will be. However, for every other exercise, I want pretty specific things out of them. I need my legs and my core to be strong, so I can focus on things that build them up. My arms aren’t so important and I don’t really need to work on them except for the reason that I want more toned arms and I don’t want them to look out of place, but things like push-ups work well for abs too, so I don’t mind doing them. In terms of cardio and endurance, plodding along at a medium speed on a treadmill isn’t going to be any good for me – Roller Derby bouts are split into jams, which last up to two minutes at a time. This means that rather than needing to keep going for hours straight, what I need more is to be able to access a two-minute burst of intense energy and recover from that quickly. Sure, I need endurance, but not the same way that a marathon runner needs endurance.

So look at ways to train that suit your purposes, or if you don’t have any, that suit you. There’s HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) which is combining bursts of high intensity workouts with periods of low intensity exercises. There’s circuits. You can even invent your own way of training – Disasteroid from Tyne and Fear recently told me to do one single push up several times throughout the day because I was complaining about doing 15 in a row. There’s no right or wrong way to organise your exercises, only right or wrong for you.

4) Tailor your exercise to you

This ties in to what I said above – If you hate doing exercises in one burst, break them down and do them through the day. If you haven’t got much time, find exercises that are intense but don’t take a long time – I started off with Roller Derby Athletics’ 8 Minute Method, which kicked my arse surprisingly effectively for something that only takes 8 minutes a day. If, like me, you give up easily on things, look for classes or find plans with detailed videos that you can stick to with a bit of determination. If you lose attention quickly, mix up your routines. I’ve switched from the RDA one I mentioned to the Blogilates beginners workout calendar, because I have a very short attention span and sticking to one thing makes it more likely that I’ll give up!

You know how you work, so adjust to that. Exercise isn’t one-size-fits-all.

5) Find support

Some people can get on pretty well on their own, but for most of us building a support network can work wonders. I have my league to motivate me, and we even have a specific Fitness page to discuss what we’re doing and support each other in it. I blog a lot, and I’ve got a number of people who I can talk to and will give me all the support in the world if I seem like I need it. I’ve also joined Fitocracy recently, which I love. I used to use MyFitnessPal purely to track my exercise, but Fitocracy is more appropriate – you log your exercises and reps or how long you spend doing them, and rather than measuring it through calories it rewards you with points. You level up, people can congratulate you, it’s great (especially for me, because I love games, and levelling up is one thing I can appreciate!)

So find people who share your interests , who you can talk to about exercise, new ways to do things and generally draw motivation from. If people have your back, you’re more likely to do it

6) Remember – it’s alright to suck a bit

You’re trying to make a change in your life that you want to do, which automatically makes you awesome, good job! One thing I hear a lot from people who want to start roller derby is a concern that they’re going to be bad, fall over a lot and generally suck. Well… yeah. You’re pretty much guaranteed to do all those things. The good news is that everyone did at some point, and no one’s going to judge you for it. That’s true for almost all sports – everyone has sucked at it at some point. In some cases, they might’ve been a child when they were bad at it, but no one was with talent in a sport, and you can’t expect to go in to something and be awesome at it immediately, or even after a few weeks. It takes practice and hard work.

Consider this when you start exercising. You’re probably going to suck at it to start off with. When I started the RDA workouts, I spent the majority of the 8 minutes for Wednesday on the floor, having only managed perhaps three push ups. a couple of weeks later, I managed 15. You might discover that you’re absolutely amazing at this exercise thing (in which case, go you, you super-being!) but in most cases, you’re going to have to be patient and not afraid to fail dismally for a while before you start seeing results.

Overall, I am simply saying that I found I’m a lot happier to exercise if I do things I enjoy, and don’t force myself to do things I don’t like to do. It’s the same concept with everything, like work. If you’re doing a job you don’t like you’ll hate even the thought of going, but if you find something that really engages you, its a whole lot easier to get up in the morning.