Exercise Snacking

Snacking. Is It Any Good?

Exercise Snacking! Please get that in the right order; it is not snacking as an exercise!

 

Exercise snacking as a concept isn’t a new idea. It is basically a different way of getting in your required amount of exercise (the NHS recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise plus some strength training per week).  Gyms have both the equipment (aerobic and weight training) and the convenience (if you can fit a session in around your working life) to make them seem like the obvious choice for reaching that NHS target. What many people don’t realise is that taking one or two sessions of exercise a week can’t make up for the damage done by sitting down a lot in between.

 

The idea that joining a gym is the best way to get fit has been challenged by scientists for many years who have studied the benefits of a range of non-traditional exercise regimes. A well-known is high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which may offer similar or even superior effects on health as traditional endurance-based training but in much shorter exercise times.  But what if you are unable to do the really intense workouts that the HIIT requires to be beneficial? High intensity isn’t high intensity if you cannot get yourself to work hard enough.

 

Another form or exercise that has emerged in to the public domain is exercise snacking. This form of multiple bouts of brief, “snack-sized” portions of exercise has been shown to control blood sugar better than a single, continuous workout. In a study examining the benefits of exercise snacking, researchers compared blood sugar in participants who exercised for 30 continuous minutes and, in the same group, when they broke their exercise up into three small portions performed shortly before breakfast, lunch and dinner. This “exercise snacking” lowered blood sugar for about 24 hours and did so much better than the 30-minute exercise.

 

Exercising around mealtimes also appears to be beneficial for people with diabetes. A study showed taking a 10-minute walk after each meal can significantly improve the control of blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes compared with a single 30-minute walk each day. These studies collectively highlight the importance of making sure we keep active throughout the day and increasing the amount of energy we use up in non-exercise activities that we normally do during everyday life, from walking up stairs to cleaning the house.

 

I believe that exercise snacking can be the way forward for people who sit down a lot during their normal daily life. I remember when I worked in an office but ran for an hour a day plus I did about 30 minutes a day in the gym. That meant I was exercising for 90 minutes a day on average. It sounds a lot (and to most people it is), but when you work out that it was only 6.25% of my day, meaning that usually 93.75% of my day was spent sitting or lying down; suddenly it doesn’t seem much.

 

Now I am a Personal Trainer I am constantly on my feet, but rarely actually exercising (apart from my one hour of running per day which I still maintain).  What I do differently now is that after each client I train, I try to do between 5-10 minutes of lifting weights or doing some other form of exercises (bodyweight squats, single leg balancing, some core exercises, etc) and when I am in my ‘admin time’ I try to get up as much as possible for 5 minutes at a time, even if that is just to make a coffee.

 

When I train clients, I know that most are inherently lazy when it comes to their time away from our training sessions. Now that isn’t that they don’t want to do anything, it is that their time is precious and they cannot all afford to spend 30-60 minutes at a time working out. Instead, I give them workouts that they can do at home with minimal or no weights (whatever they have available to them). These workouts can be done in whole if they can, or in part so that they make up the 30-minute workouts over the course of the day.

 

Invariably, a fair few end up doing more than 30 minutes a day once it is broken up into small chunks as they enjoy the little and often approach, meaning they don’t notice the time spent exercising (plus the non-exercise exercise such as gardening, dog-walking, shopping, cleaning, moving things, etc).

 

So, if you want to improve your fitness and think that you don’t have the time, you do! You just need to enjoy the benefits of snacking!

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Martin Hulbert

Personal Trainer & Running Coach Leicestershire

2017 London Marathon – Race Day!

The morning of St George’s Day, 23rd April 2017. And, after 945 miles of running over 16 weeks of training, it was all about the Virgin London Marathon.

After a great first 6 weeks of training I have only managed to complete two fully planned training weeks since the middle of February. This, as I have said in previous blogs, has really messed with my confidence.

I started off with three targets:

Under 2:55 would be a very good day (but probably unachievable)

Under 3:00 would be great for my personal pride as that would be 7 years in succession under 3:00

Under 3:15 would be worst case scenario as that gains me a Good For Age place next year.

 

As we left the hotel, which overlooks Blackheath Common, for the pre-race group photographs, we got a lot of attention as everyone running for Wishes4Kids were wearing fairy wings and tutus, plus 4 of us were also painted purple. We got extra attention and were asked to pose for photographs by various strangers on the walk over to the Red Start. This is where we leave most of the other runners and I head over, with the supporters, to the Fast Good For Age start. This start is virtually exclusively for men aiming to run under 3 hours. I had a wander around to see if there was anyone I recognised, before dropping my kitbag onto the baggage lorry and heading out of the start area and onto the warm—up field. I did a couple of half-arsed jogs around the field, before joining my wife and the other supporters from the charity by the start line barriers to kill a bit of time. After a few adjustments to my wings I headed off to the starting pen, waiting for the off.

As the start time neared, I was chatting to various people in the starting pen, comparing target times, training and how and why I run in fancy dress. You could see that most people were nervous or pumped up. I seemed to be relatively calm, which I always think means that I am going to enjoy the run as I am not putting any pressure on myself. My only fear was that the quality training runs I had missed may come back to bite me in the latter stages. However, only time would tell.

We were let off at just after 10:01 and due to the number of runners on this start, I didn’t cross the start line for 2 minutes. I was then away and running; a quick look and wave to the right to see my wife and the rest of the charity supporters and off in to London we headed.

The first 3 miles of London are fast as they are nett downhill. I decided to settle into an effort that felt easy and sustainable, knowing that the pace would come out slightly faster due to the downhill. I completed the first 5km in 20.24. I don’t check my splits by kms but as the marathon tracking app does, it is easier to use these in my blog instead of my mile times.

After the 5km mark the different starts merge. As they do the space gets a fair bit tighter and it is often harder to follow the racing line, blue stripes painted on the road. Also, at this point I was more focussed on running along the edges of the road, high-5ing kids and generally playing up to the crowd. I knocked off the second 5km in 20.52 and then settled into a more comfortable rhythm. My next splits were: 21.04, 21.04 and 20.55 to just after halfway. By this point Tower Bridge, probably the highlight of the race with the wall of noise hitting you as you cross, had been ticked off and I was still feeling good and running at a consistent pace. The injury I have had for about 10 weeks now wasn’t causing any issues and I probably didn’t feel any adverse effects during the whole race. I passed the halfway mark in 1:27.57 meaning that I was comfortably stuck between a 2:55 and 3:00 finishing time, as long as I could maintain a similar pace for the second half.

Running towards Docklands and on to Canary Wharf I still felt good and was still trying get the crowd going, knocking off 25-30km in 20.44 and 30-35km 21.05. From about 30km my quads started to tire and for the first time in the race it started to feel like hard work. I had passed local runner Ash Payne, well on course to break the world record of running the fastest time dressed as an Elf. I also found that although my pace was slowing a little, I was still passing people.

The run along the Embankment was tough. From 35-40km my 5km time slowed to 21.34. I was still trying to wave my wand to the crowds as much as possible, but it was getting harder to smile to the supporters.

As I got to Big Ben and turned right onto Birdcage Walk I knew that my wife and supporters would soon appear on the right side of the course. As agreed, when I reached them I took my GoPro camera from my wife so that I could video the final 800 metres. Providing a bit of waffled commentary while trying to rouse the crowd for the last time I headed towards Buckingham Palace, under the 400 metres to go sign, turning right towards The Mall to be greeted by the 385 yards to go banner (26 miles completed). As I turned into The Mall I could see the finishing gantry and at this point I decided, while still talking to the camera and waving to the crowd, to have a final sprint finish.

I crossed the finish line, looked up and waved to the cameramen in front and stopped my watch. 2:57.04 and a very happy fairy. I slowly walked forwards and collected my medal, the women giving them out very appreciative of my outfit and make-up. After collecting my medal, it is a long, sore walk along the rest of The Mall to collect my bag from the final truck. The logistics of the day never cease to amaze me, getting bags from almost 40,000 runners from one side of London to the other, hardly ever any delay in getting your bag when you get to the lorry and every single volunteer smiling and chatting when they get the chance.

After chatting to a few local runners, comparing times and experiences (and having water tipped over my head – thanks Chris Langham) and being interviewed by London Marathon TV and the race commentator (good charity publicity) it was wandering back across the park to my wife, posing for further photos along the way.

The London Marathon never disappoints. The camaraderie amongst runners, the volunteers, the crowds shouting encouragement to random strangers for hours on end; it makes you feel that the world is a good place. Roll on next year. I’ll be back!

 

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London Marathon Training – Week 16

And now, the end is near………

I’m writing this after completing my final London Marathon training run. 945 miles of running so far this year (I’m sure that is more than I have driven), injuries, lack of confidence and now feeling stuffed with all of the carbohydrates I’m consuming; why do we do it to ourselves?

Because we love running and want to push ourselves that little bit further? Or are we just fools as my wife likes to put it?

 

On Monday I ran 6 miles, including 3 miles at my marathon pace heart rate. The MP miles averaged 6.30 pace and my legs felt spritely after less running recently. It was a good run.

 

Tuesday was similar, with a 5 mile run with 3 miles at marathon pace heart rate. This time the MP miles averaged 6.28 pace. Now these two runs suddenly get you thinking that is this pace sustainable for the whole marathon as my HR was actually lower than usual for marathons. My answer is a cautious ‘no’. With my missed runs and leg issues I think it would be dangerous for me to start out at anything quicker than 6.40 pace. If I still feel good at 18-20 miles then it gives me something to push on from, but starting quicker than 6.30 pace leaves me open to a whole world of pain in the latter miles.

 

Wednesday was a single Running Buddy session of 5.01 miles at an easy effort around Knighton Park, further helping my legs taper. It was my client’s furthest run for over 3 years so a successful session for both of us.

 

Thursday was a planned rest day. I was finding the hardest part of my taper was consuming the necessary carbohydrates. I work on a basis of 10g of carbs per kg of bodyweight. Most people would think that this is bliss, being able to eat loads of extra carbs, but as a 70kg male, it is really hard to consume 700grms of carbs each day. I have to make up my carbs with fruit juice and sports drink. By the end of the day I was stuffed and uncomfortable.

 

Friday has been a double day, as I ran a 5 mile Running Buddy session first thing followed later in the morning by my final training run. I ran for 5.30 minutes at a steady pace before running 1 mile at my marathon pace heart rate. This came out at 6.10 pace (totally unrealistic for 26.2 miles). I finished with 5.20 minutes of easy running. Once again my legs felt spritely, even though I felt sluggish due to too much food (I stop carb loading at Saturday lunchtime so that I have digested everything by the start of the race).

 

And that is it. My next run will be around the Good For Age start on Blackheath Common on Sunday morning. I am not sure if I would class myself as ready, but there is nothing more I can do physically or mentally to make any difference now. I have had the most disjointed build up to any of my previous 10 marathons, which has messed around with my confidence as I don’t know how my leg is going to react to the distance and I don’t know what pace is sensible.

 

But, I have no choice now but to get on with it, and as my main target now is to run under 3-hours again (personal pride only) I will set off at about 6.45 pace and then revaluate at around 16-18 miles (unless that feels unsustainable). I want to enjoy it, but as my leg still isn’t 100% and I have a few twinges every now and then, I have resigned myself to a potentially sore run, but I cannot honestly defer my place as it is not that bad.

 

‘Que sera’ as they say!

 

Week 16 Totals: 23.7 miles covered over 5 runs, loads of stretching, rolling and sitting on hockey balls.

 

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London Marathon Training – Week 15

Not long to go now. It’s all about keeping healthy, dropping the mileage but keeping up the intensity of your runs. This week was about me trying to keep some of the confidence my last 16 miler gave me.

 

Monday saw me run 6 easy effort cross country miles over the fields from Wigston to Newton Harcourt and then return via the canal towpath and Cooks Lane. My legs were a little tired from the 14 marathon pace miles in Saturdays 16 miler coupled with Sundays 40 mile cycle, but there was not real soreness when running which is immensely pleasing after the last 6 weeks of issues.

 

Tuesday was a just a single run. With the lighter nights the club is now running over the fields again so, after running 3.5 miles to get to the club (a very long route around), we ran the reverse route to the one I ran on Monday. Once again it was at an easy effort run that brought the evening to a total of 10.11 miles.

 

Wednesday was just a single Running Buddy session of 3.37 miles at an easy effort around Knighton Park, helping my legs recovery during the taper.

 

Thursday morning was a 2.5 mile run/walk with my wife as I keep her company on her Couch to 5K sessions.

Thursday evening was the Wigston Phoenix speed session. Due to the lighter evenings we relocate to Manor Road track and this week ran 300m reps with 100m recoveries. Due to wanting a hard workout I kept my recoveries faster than they should have been and ran the 300m reps hard. I was pleased that all 12 of my reps came out within 2 seconds of each other (apart from the excitable first rep). The day finished with a total of 8.94 miles.

 

Friday was a planned rest day so I just did some stretching and leg strengthening, but generally a lazy day.

 

Saturday was my final double figured run of marathon training. I planned the same 10 mile route I ran last year so that I had a marker of where my fitness is, needed for the mental side of things as I have missed some of my more important runs. The start of the run was great and my pace was looking good to where my heart was. However, after mile 3 my heart rate started to rise above what would be sustainable for a marathon so I had to back off the pace a bit. The 6 marathon pace miles I ran averaged out at 6.35 pace. I am pleased with that but as my heart rate was on the higher end of sustainable I think that this pace isn’t a sensible pace to aim for at London.

 

Sunday was spent mainly in a classroom as I was on a course (I know, Easter Sunday!!) but it was good for my legs to recover from the previous day.

 

Week 15 has been mainly positive. As you may have noticed, I haven’t mentioned my left leg as much. This is mainly because it is finally getting better. I still have a bit of residual soreness in my foot and calf, but that is from the previous weeks and seems to be improving day by day. If it continues, I may be soreness free for London. If not, I know that it is bearable and I am confident that I can start at a pace of 6.40-6.45 pace and see what happens from there. Not long left!

 

Week 15 Totals: 38.6 miles covered over 6 runs, plus 1 strength session and loads of stretching, rolling and sitting on hockey balls.

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London Marathon Training – Week 14

Madness, madness, they call it madness!

It’s taper time for most people doing London Marathon. However, as I’ve not ran much recently week 14 was all about trying to restore a bit of my fragile running confidence after 5 days of not running and cycling instead.

 

Monday morning started with a 2 mile run/walk session with my wife and then a 4 mile easy effort run and my left leg felt ok. It still didn’t feel 100% but it wasn’t sore. I had a further physio session at Function Jigsaw, a bit more manipulation of my foot and shin and given a few more exercises to do. I then walked another 2 miles with my wife in the evening.

 

Tuesday was a double day with the first run a 5.7 mile Running Buddy session around Knighton Park. Things were looking up as my leg still felt ok. Could this period of cycling have been the corner turned?

The second run of the day was the Wigston Phoenix evening club run. The answer to my previous question was ‘no’! Within the first 100 metres my left leg had gone back to feeling how it had done the previous few weeks. It felt sore to land, with soreness in my foot, shin and calf areas. The only time it felt ok was, once again, running at a faster pace than usual when we did hill reps. The evening run was 10.7 miles giving a daily total of 16.4 miles.

 

Wednesday began with a Running Buddy session of 3.7 miles. My left leg (sorry to keep going on about it) felt better than on the club run, but still not right.

The evening was another Running Buddy session with a new client who wanted some pushing doing his speed training. We ran a total of 3 miles, including 20 x 30 secs of fast paced efforts, and as these came out faster than my normal running pace, my leg felt quite comfortable.

 

Thursday was a 2 mile run/walk with my wife followed by the club speed/hills session at Victoria Park in the evening.

My leg felt good running at pace so I pushed hard, trying to get some form of training effect for myself. As it felt worse when walking or doing slow recoveries I took less rest on some of the reps than others and also ran some extra reps if I had the chance. The session, for me, totalled 6 miles.

 

Friday was made up of just one run. This was the monthly We Run LE1 run around Victoria Park and into the city centre before looping back to the park. I really enjoy these as they are good social runs for people that want to run 5 miles but aren’t bothered about it not being a timed event. I paced the 10.00m/m group (rather badly as we ran at an average of 9.30 pace – although everyone was happy at that pace and we were nowhere near the actual 9.30 pace group). My leg could only be described as ‘inconsistent’. It would be fine for 10 minutes or so, then the soreness would arrive for a bit, then it would disappear again. Frustrating!

 

Saturday was a make or break day for my confidence. I was toying with the idea of either a 20 mile run with 10 miles at potential marathon pace or 16 miles with the first 14 miles at marathon pace. Both challenging runs that would give confidence if they went well, but had the chance to destroy my mind if they went badly. I set off and in the first mile I was running at 7.00 pace and my leg felt ok. This made my mind up to run the 16 mile version of my run as running at around marathon pace actually feels better than my easy pace.

I pushed on after the first mile and although the marathon pace miles were not easy, they were sustainable. The first 14 miles were run at an average pace of 6.44m/m while my HR was about 5BPM lower than my last few marathons. I also hadn’t eaten since I ran on Friday night and didn’t use any fuel during the run.

This was the confidence booster that I needed. My legs felt fine towards the end of the run and there was no soreness for the rest of the day. I don’t understand what is going on with my leg and why it isn’t consistent. However, if it feels good running at marathon pace then I will take that.

 

Sunday was a very energetic day. I did another run/walk session with my wife, immediately followed by tail-running (walking) at Aylestone Junior parkrun.

As soon as this was over it was out to cycle with a few people from Wigston Phoenix running club. We heading out the long way to Café Ventoux, enjoyed a nice coffee and food (two cakes in my case) and then headed back. As this is the end of my last hard week, I pushed hard on the uphills and in some cases, went back down halfway to do them twice! It was a gloriously sunny day and showed the beauty of the Leicestershire countryside. The ride was about 39 miles in total.

Once home it was no let up. I was straight into the garden to mow the lawn before continuing to build some raised beds out of railway sleepers. This entailed digging out half of the existing beds, lifting 4 x 55kg sleepers into place and then replacing the soil. I finished with helping to pot some new plants, before deciding, at 5pm, that I needed to stop and rest.

 

Week 14 has, once again, been a roller-coaster of a week. Continued soreness but a confidence boosting run that makes me think that the final two weeks of tapering are not going to be particularly pleasant. I do believe though, that sub-3 hours is still achievable at London and hopefully a bit quicker if all feels ok on the day. Then it will be a bit of rest to finally try to sort out the problem.

 

Week 14 Totals: 60.4 miles covered over 11 runs, 39.1 miles of cycling, 2 miles of walking, plus 1 strength session and loads of stretching, rolling and sitting on hockey balls.

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London Marathon Training – Week 13

Week 13 can be summed up quite quickly as ‘it’s all about the bike’.

 

Monday morning started with a 3.5 mile Running Buddy session with a Personal Training client. This was the furthest he had run so far, but my left leg was still sore, now more around the ankle joint, which was worrying as this was a newer niggle.

 

Tuesday’s only run was the evening club run in order to protect my leg. I ran for 3 miles before the club run started and my leg was sore with virtually every step. This time it was my left foot and around the ankle. This was worrying as in the back on my mind I had always worried about the possibility of a stress fracture, but this had been ruled out due to my other symptoms.

Going against what I would tell any other runner in my situation, I went out with the club and for the first 3 miles my soreness moved from my foot to my calf. At this point there was less of an issue when my foot landed and the pace of the run increased and in turn, my leg felt less sore. We were only running between 6.50-7.00 pace, but this felt far better than anything around 7.30 pace. I ended up running 10.2 miles for the night, but I have to say I was not enjoying running at this moment.

 

Wednesday was a planned running rest day and I decided that I was going to give my legs a few days off of running and cycle instead. I went out on a route that I often use when cycling as it is a 15 mile loop that isn’t too busy with cars. Due to my going out at lunchtime and not wanting to cycle through South Wigston at this time of the day I lengthened it slightly to 16.55 miles. I managed to average 19mph for the ride which I was pleased with as half was into a headwind.

 

Thursday was a similar day. I went for a walk with my wife in the morning but realised that I wasn’t doing my leg any good so returned home, totalling 1.3 miles. Later in the day I went out for another bike with Steve from Wigston Phoenix to do the same loop. Adding on a little extra we did 17.5 miles in just over an hour.

 

Friday was a third non-running day and another venture out on my bike. This time I headed around Saddington, Gumley and Smeeton Westerby to do some hill training. Some of the hills were really hard work, with my heart rate getting as high as it would in the final print of a running race. I ended up completing 17.5 miles in just less than an hour and my legs knew about it.

 

Saturday morning was a quick ride down the A50 from Wigston to Husbands Bosworth and back; 10 miles in each direction. The first 10 miles were into a headwind and my legs were feeling the hills from the day before. It took my 37 minutes to do the first 10 miles and then, with the wind behind me, returned in 28 minutes. My legs were tired after this ride, but it felt good to have tired legs again instead of sore legs!

 

Sunday was my final planned non-running day before testing my leg again on Monday. A group from Wigston Phoenix Running Club had arranged for a 35 mile ride out to Foxton and back and so that would be perfect for me to get some more miles into my legs, but at a more sensible pace then I ride when alone.

I cycled to Aylestone Junior parkrun to marshal and then back to Wigston to meet the rest of the group. We then headed off out towards Foxton via Wistow, Kibworth, Smeeton Westerby and Gumley, with a few hills thrown in for fun! After breaking at Foxton Locks with a bacon sandwich and a coffee (cyclists seem to stop far more than runners do) it was back via a longer route, taking in Lubenham, Mowsley, Saddington, Arnesby, Willoughby Waterleys and Countesthorpe. Almost 40 miles in the bag when coming into South Wigston my front wheel punctured on an object in the road! Steve and Michaela stopped to help and after a quick inner tube change it was a mad dash home as I was now running late for Sunday lunch with my parents! A total of 42.7 miles cycled and with no niggles or soreness from the cycling, my legs felt nicely tired.

 

Looking back on the week I’m not now really sure where I am in terms of London Marathon fitness. They say you don’t lose fitness in a week, but you can lose confidence. However, I need to spend time looking back over my previous 12 weeks, plus the base training I did before Christmas, to give the real picture as to where my fitness currently lies and what I can aim to achieve at London.

As you may have noticed with the ending each week, the mind of a runner goes up and down frequently, depending on how the week went. It is rare that we keep in mind the whole block of training that we do and maybe we should do that more. It would make us less mentally fragile when things do no go to plan!

 

Week 13 Totals: 17.3 miles covered over 3 runs, 114.4 miles of cycling, plus 1 strength session and loads of stretching, rolling and sitting on hockey balls.

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London Marathon Training – Week 12

Week 12 began in a buoyant mood after my confidence-boosting run at the Ashby 20, but the week itself was full of ups and downs!

 

Monday morning started with a 3.3 mile Running Buddy session with a Personal Training client. This was his third run with me and he managed to knock 30 seconds off his previous best. I decided that an easy day was in order after Ashby 20 and while my muscles felt absolutely fine, my left leg was still being a bit weird with the nerve issue I am suffering.

 

Tuesday was a testing triple-run day. First of all, I ran 4 easy effort miles to see how my left leg was feeling. As it has been recently, running at an easy pace made it feel sore. Next, I ran a Running Buddy session with a Personal Training client. She wanted a hilly run to build leg strength and give her confidence for upcoming league races. Weirdly, my leg felt fine with the 5 miles of hills that we ran!

My evening run was with Wigston Phoenix, running their Victoria Park route. I ran a mile to the club and then set off into Oadby and down London Road. At this point I ran with Colin at a faster pace and my left leg niggles eased as the next 5 miles were at an average of 6.40 pace. Once slowing down towards the end and then running home, my niggles returned and mentally it was tough. The club run totalled 10 miles, making 19 miles for the day.

 

Wednesday was a planned rest day and so I spent an hour doing weights and core work, plus loads of rolling and stretching.

 

Thursday was a sensible day of just one run. I decided to go for quality and not quantity so ditched my easy morning run for another leg strengthening and core session and decided my only run of the day would be the club speed/hills session. I drove down to Victoria Park early and started on the Peace Walk hill reps. I totalled 23 uphill reps before starting on the rest of the speedwork with the club. My session totalled 9.7 miles and once again, at the faster end, my leg felt fine and strong.

 

Friday was an easier day for me as my only run was part of a coaching session, running to a flat stretch of road and then running some 20 second sprints to develop her leg speed. After running back home again I’d totalled 2.5 miles, which felt plenty after last night’s faster stuff.

 

Saturday was to be my ‘time on feet’ long slow run. I always hate this run as I get bored doing a long run all at an easy pace and I was dreading this one as running at an easy pace hasn’t been good for my leg. However, it had to be attempted so I set out at 6.30am with the intention of aiming for about 23 miles or a maximum of 3 hours. This run is designed to give you the confidence that you can run for your target time, but not for the full 26.2 miles as you are running at an easier effort. For the first 8-10 miles my left leg was sore and I felt as though I was not running fluently. Then the issues seemed to disappear. Either they miraculously had, or mentally I had got used to them and my mind had blocked it out. Either way, I ran for 22 miles in 2:42 before finishing. I decided that I didn’t need the extra mile to give myself the confidence of completing London Marathon as I am now resigned to running for ‘fun’ and I’m confident that I can run under 3 hours with the training I have done so far.

 

Sunday was a planned non-running day. My wife and I decided to cycle down to our marshalling duties at Aylestone Junior parkrun. I was on my road bike and she was on her mountain bike. We were a bit early so we decided to add on an extra mile along Welford Road. However, as soon as we got by the turning to the parkrun, I punctured on a really poor stretch of road surface. To ensure we got to parkrun on time I walked my bike the rest of the way there, found the holes in the tube and prepared to fix them. The only problem was that, while I carry a repair kit even on these shorter rides, the glue had run out! After volunteering, I dashed back home on my wife’s bike to get the car to drive back to collect my bike. It was a bit of extra exercise!

 

Well I’m not sure how to describe this week. Slowly stuff aggravates my left leg. Faster stuff feels fine, but I can’t run that fast for the whole marathon (or at least I don’t think I can). So I am still in a place where my left leg is not right but it is not stopping me from running. I now feel resigned that I am going to be in discomfort for the last 4 weeks of training and then rest afterwards.

 

Week 12 Totals: 57 miles covered over 7 runs, 7 miles of cycling, plus 2 strength sessions and loads of stretching, rolling and sitting on hockey balls.

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Martin Hulbert – Personal Trainer Leicester & Online Personal Trainer

 

 

London Marathon Training – Week 11

Week 11 was the week I made a decision to be sensible, don’t chase mileage and try to do the important sessions (clients, speed, long run) and ditch some of the recovery miles. I need to get to London Marathon fit and able to run for 26.2 miles so I need to prioritise that for the short term. Thoughts of Equinox can wait until May.

 

Monday morning started with a 3 .3 mile Running Buddy session with a Personal Training client, the furthest he had ran in a year, which was pleasing for us both. I then had a Coaching client at lunchtime, a mixture of observing her running style, discussing changes and then practising. Luckily, with my left leg still sore, I didn’t have to run more than 400metres!

Next was to Function Jigsaw and back into their ‘electric bath’. Unlike last week, when the electric stimulus was getting blocked in my hip, I could finally feel a bit of a tingling in my left foot. It still isn’t as strong as my right leg, but definitely an improvement, meaning that the time spent with the roller, hockey ball and TENS machine was starting to work. I was then back at Function Jigsaw in the evening for a back strengthening class, in the hope that could help my left leg.

 

Tuesday was a short double day. I wanted to try a run on my own before running with the club in the evening so I did an easy effort 4 miles in the morning. My left leg felt no better than it had the week before which was a bit demoralising.

Tuesday evening was definitely a run of two halves! It was the Wigston Phoenix Linear Run, where we run out fast for 20 minutes, turn and run back in 25 minutes. Due to Leicester City playing at home we changed the route and headed along the ring road to London Road and towards Victoria Park. I ran hard from the start and was ahead as we turned onto the ring road. I know the pattern of the traffic lights so managed to get straight across and that was the last time I saw anyone. I pushed hard down London Road, managing not to get caught at any junctions and managed to get to Victoria Park Road as the clock hit 20 minutes (3.41 miles at average 5.53 pace). I was surprised that nobody had caught me, but also pleased. Usually when we do this run I start to pick people up about a mile into the back leg. However, I saw nobody, apart from other runners not connected to our club. My left leg started to get sore as I slowed the pace a bit, this in turn started to affect my mentality and by the time I was a mile from the finish and still hadn’t seen anyone I was grumpy and convinced I must have gone the wrong way!

 

Wednesday was a planned rest day and instead of doing the usual recovery run I spent the time doing leg and back strengthening exercises coupled with time on the TENS machine and hockey ball.

 

Thursday was a short double day. I ran an easy 4 miles and my left leg felt ‘freer’ than it had done recently, although my calf began to get sore again after about 2 miles. I was starting to get worried that I’m not going to get over this in time for Ashby 20 on Sunday or even London!

The evening brought the club speed/hills session around Victoria Park. I get there a bit early to do 5 reps of the Peace Walk hill before running back to meet the others. I then did another 6 with them as well as various other short sprints. Weirdly, (although it is becoming the norm) my left leg was fine while running at pace and then sore when recovering and walking. It is very frustrating as when my leg feels ok I am running at a pace that is not sustainable over any great distance.

 

Friday was a double day with clients. I ran 3.3 miles in the morning with a client, before taking another for a short sprints and hill session, racking up another 2.27 miles in the process. As on both of these runs I was slower than my usual pace, my left leg was sore!

 

Saturday was to be a rest day ahead of tomorrow’s Ashby 20, but I agreed to go to a session for visually impaired people who want to get into running. I was paired with the super-speedy Haseeb Ahmad and despite my nervousness of not wanting to injure him by saying the wrong thing (or worse, nothing at all) we managed to run for 1.5 miles around Brocks Hill Country Park without any mishaps.

 

Sunday was a big day for me. I’ve had disrupted training for the best part of the last month and as the Ashby 20 dawned I was unusually nervous for what I treat as a training run. I was concerned as 20 miles is a long way and it was 27th February when I last ran such a distance. There are also hills to contend with, plus it was a windy day. I knew that if my leg struggled I could stop at mile 10 and walk back, but I didn’t want to entertain that thought.   I started off further back than usual, to ensure that my plan to start off easy and get faster as the race progressed was not hindered by going off too fast. I had a loose plan in my mind, but as my left leg was a bit sore after 3 miles (better than usual but still not right) I decided not to increase the pace at 5 miles as I have done before.   I stuck at a fairly even pace for the first 10 miles (average 7.05 pace) before deciding that I wanted to push on and test my legs a bit further. By this time, my left leg had settled down as I couldn’t feel it much (not sure if that is a good thing to take from this)!

I upped the pace and immediately started to overtake everyone that was running an even paced race, or had started to slow down as fatigue set in. As the second lap progressed I continued to overtake people, running straight by them and onwards to the finish. It is this type of pacing in a training race that gives me great confidence as there is no better feeling than feeling fresh and passing people. At this point my left leg felt great and I felt fluid, even with the undulating countryside and the strong winds. The second 10 miles averaged 6.20 pace, with the last mile, which is mainly uphill, at 6.06 pace. In the last 10 miles not one person came passed me and I finished with an 8 minute negative split in 2:14.30. Afterwards, strangely, my leg felt ok. Probably better than while I was running the first half. I was very pleased with the way it held up over the distance and that my overall average pace of 6.44 a mile would give me a comfortable sub-3hr finish at London on a far easier course.

 

For now, my confidence has returned somewhat. I have two weeks left with long runs (23 & 20 respectively) before I start to taper and the overall mileage comes down. For now, it is a case of getting my left leg better day by day so that on 23rd April I am ready to go. It may not be a PB year, but another ‘fun’ sub-3hr marathon is back within reach!

 

Week 11 Totals: 53.2 miles covered over 10 runs, plus 2 strength sessions and loads of stretching, rolling and sitting on hockey balls.

Want to know more about running, personal training or nutrition?

Do you want a personalised training plan?

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Martin Hulbert – Personal Trainer Leicester & Online Personal Trainer

 

 

Dealing with Injury – The Mental and Physical

It has been a tough couple of weeks. We’ve all been there, we have a target to complete and we are firmly fixed on the goal. We are running well and enjoying the training plan we are following. But then, injury strikes and we have to make decisions about to what we do next.

Keep on going – We’ve all done it. We ignore the niggle that gradually gets worse until it becomes painful. Then we are forced to either run through even more pain or we have to stop. This can, and usually does, make the initial injury worse.

Rest – One of the most common things that runners do. We think that resting for a few days will cure whatever issue we have. Whilst it may feel better when you start to run again, you do not know the reason for the initial injury, have not tried to deal with the cause and so it usually resurfaces. This could be within a few days or weeks, but it usually comes back.

Get Advice – This can be done the right way and the wrong way. The wrong way is to ask a search engine. This can diagnose a hundred different injuries, but how do you know which one you have and how to sort it. The correct way is to seek professional advice, whether that is a physiotherapist or injury specialist. They will try to diagnose injury and then will be able to give you information on how to get over the injury and then work on stopping it happening again. I’ve also found over the years that GP’s aren’t usually the best port of call as they are usually likely to tell you to rest until it is better. Being honest, they do have more important priorities with the amount of ‘ill’ people they have to see.

 

Personally, I would always recommend the physio/injury specialist route. I like to know what is causing any niggles I have and I want to know how to sort them and how to stop them coming back in the future. I want to make myself as ‘bullet-proof’ as possible to protect myself in future as I really enjoy running.

Next, how do you deal with the psychological side of injuries?

Get depressed – Sometimes when you can’t run you feel as though you are losing fitness by the day. This may be very slightly true (it takes more than a few days to lose a chunk of fitness) but instead of missing what you can’t do, look at what you can do. Can you cycle, swim or strength train? Do what you can to keep your heart rate up and your head will thank you for it as you know you are doing something productive. You will get back running again.

Give up – This is more common with people newer to running and is often caused by doing too much too soon before their bodies are ready for the strain they are put under. At the first sign of injury people decide that running is no good for them or they are ‘not built to run’. Persevere! Get over your injury and come back slower and more sensibly. Look for a plan to help you build up your mileage, whether you have a target or not. Think of running as a long-term activity and you have plenty of time to get fitter and faster.

Fight back – Get professional advice and do what they say.  This will reduce the amount of time you have to stop training for, if at all as some injuries will not stop you training.  We all know the stretching, strength training and other exercises we are given are not the same as running.  However, by doing these extra things you can minimise your time on the sidelines and help to prevent further injuries.

Re-evaluate your goals – This may sound obvious, but some people have a period of time out with injury and then think they can either go back to where they were or play catch-up. Don’t! While you are not running look at your original goals, whether they are short or long term. Are they still realistic given your current injury? Once you work out a new goal you can then look at how many steps back you have to take in your training. Be honest with yourself as taking an extra month to hit a distance target, or running a race without getting a PB is better than trying to hit an unachievable goal and ending up out injured for a long period of time.

 

I write this from personal experience as I am currently struggling with an issue in my left leg that the injury specialists I am seeing, Function Jigsaw in Wigston, think is a nerve impingement. I have been told I can run through it if I can deal with the discomfort it is causing and this is what I have been doing for two-three weeks now. However, as it is affecting my biomechanics and the way my left foot lands I cannot run to my full capabilities. Therefore, I have had to take a few days off to help recovery. I have also had to re-evaluate my London Marathon target. I know I am no longer capable of a sub-2:45 finish and I am going to use the Ashby 20 at the weekend to see how my leg feels over the course of 20 miles. I can then look at what will be a more realistic marathon target. It may be sub-3:00 (which I really hope it is), it may be trying to drag myself around to achieve a Good For Age finish. Or, it may be worse and I have to think about DNSing or ‘just get round’.

When you are injured it is all about keeping an open mind and being honest with yourself. I’d rather scrape a Good For Age time but be able to run healthily for the rest of the year than push for a sub-3:00 time and miss out on a summer of running.

Be sensible, be honest and BE POSITIVE!

 

Want to know more about running, personal training or nutrition?

Do you want a personalised training plan?

Contact me today to ask any questions or to book your FREE consultation

Call me on 07815 044521 or email me at martinhulbertpt@gmail.com

Martin Hulbert – Personal Trainer Leicester & Online Personal Trainer

London Marathon Training – Week 10

Week 10 was initially a planned cutback week, but due to lower than planned mileage in weeks 7 & 8 I went into week 10 just trying to do as much as I could. However……..

 

Monday morning started with a 3 .2 mile walk with my wife, followed straight after by a hard progression run. The plan was to run each of the first 7 miles faster than the mile before. I started at an easy pace and then quickly increased, through miles of 7.37, 7.14, 6.52 & 6.41. The last 3 miles of this run are always harder as they take in Welford Road from Victoria Park to Wigston. These were ran at 6.29, 6.22 & 6.02 paces, with the last of those being very hard work up two hills into Wigston. I finished with a bit of a sprint, but couldn’t get the pace to sub-6.00. My left leg just wouldn’t stretch out enough to be efficient enough! I ran another 1.5 miles as a cooldown to recover.

I spent a good amount of my sitting time for the rest of the day (and week) sitting with a hockey ball in various parts of my buttocks, hamstring and calf trying to increase mobility in my left leg.

 

Tuesday was back to my long double days (although this was a triple day as one of my clients wanted a Running Buddy session). I started the morning with a 10 mile very easy effort run. It was an easy effort but I felt as though I was ‘managing’ my leg, rather than running with an efficient stride. My left calf was tight and sore with almost every step although after about 6 miles it did start to ease a little. I’m not sure if that was more psychological as I’d managed the soreness for a while?

The second run of the day was at 10am with my client. We ran 5.3 miles in the sun around Knighton Park at a very good pace for her. Weirdly, my leg felt fine through this run, which in a way just frustrated me more due to the issues I had on my own run.

My final run of the day was the club run. I was being sensible so didn’t run before the club and ran 8.3 miles with the faster group. I just ran with others without pushing the pace or effort as I usually would have. This was mainly due to my leg feeling very weird for the first 3 miles, with various issues from a tight ankle to shin pain to tightening hamstrings. This was despite rolling and stretching before leaving the house. For the second half of the run my leg stopped being weird and started to develop a soreness in my calf instead. Rock and hard place!!! On a plus point I had ran 23.7 miles for the day.

 

Wednesday was a planned rest day so I spent an hour in my gym lifting weights and doing leg strengthening exercises. I also managed to book in with Function Jigsaw for a massage and to look at what was causing my leg issues. After a big of manipulation and massage it looked as though I had a nerve issue in my left leg, meaning that as I was trying to land my left leg my biomechanics were out, meaning I was landing flat footed which in turn was causing the calf issues. Once again I was told to use a hockey ball on my buttocks and hamstrings to try to loosen the tension in them and hopefully to help repair the nerve signals to my foot. They also wanted me to go back on Thursday to sit in their ‘bath’!

 

Thursday was a second non-running day (with another hour of weights and core in my gym) with a lunchtime appointment at Function Jigsaw. I’m not sure exactly what it is called but you sit in a bath with your back against a pad. Hey then send an electric current through you to stimulate your nerves. That sounds a bit dangerous but it felt more like the sensation you get from a TENS machine. Or at least it did until it was obvious that my left side had an issue. As the machine was turned up higher my right side (the normal one) had sensations from my hip to my toes, whereas on my left side the sensations were getting jammed at my hip, sending them shooting into my abs and back. It felt like a very strong Slendertone machine from back in the day (remember those machines where people thought they could get abs by sitting on a sofa with a belt strapped to their waist as they ate chocolate!). I have to say it was not a comfortable experience but it showed that there is a nerve issue in my left leg. I was sent away with a plan of using the hockey ball, stretching and rolling to try to get an improvement for Monday when I need to come back to try again.

 

Friday was another non-running day and another hour of weights, stretching and leg strengthening, plus sitting on hockey ball and rolling at various points during the day.

 

Saturday was a total rest day from exercise, apart from loads of rolling, stretching and using the hockey ball. I hope it works as it is not comfortable!

 

Sunday was my day to test my left leg. I needed to do this for the good of my head as well as my legs. My legs felt spritely from the off and I was running at a far faster pace than usual for my heart rate. That was mainly down to this being the first time I have ran without tired legs for the best part of a year! My left leg still didn’t feel right, although now the calf soreness had gone and it felt more like a twinge on the outside of my foot, pushing up through my shin! It was good to be back out though and I ran 4 miles at an easy effort.

 

I am now at the point, with three weeks of full training to go before I start to taper, that I need to either sort out the problem or just learn how to manage and run through it. I’ve given up the idea of running sub-2:45 and believe that due to the amount of miles I ran during my base phase (and last year) I am still capable of running sub-3hrs and definitely under the 3:10 or 3:15 I need to keep my Good For Age place going. Injuries like this just focus your mind. You are stuck between wanting to run and being sensible for the longer term goal.  I am hoping for a good week to come as it is the Ashby 20 on Sunday, a race I really enjoy, even though I only run it at training paces.

 

Week 10 Totals: 36.3 miles covered over 5 runs, plus 3 strength sessions and loads of stretching, rolling and sitting on hockey balls.

Want to know more about running, personal training or nutrition?

Do you want a personalised training plan?

Contact me today to ask any questions or to book your FREE consultation

Call me on 07815 044521 or email me at martinhulbertpt@gmail.com

Martin Hulbert – Personal Trainer Leicester & Online Personal Trainer