30 and loving life

Turning 30 hasn’t been so bad. I had a fantastic weekend with my friends and my family doing what I generally do best (eat lots of food). And recently so much good stuff has been happening.Having a birthday that sits on a Tuesday is pretty lame but actually I had a really lovely day. I’d obviously brought cakes in for everyone but I was really chuffed to find my work colleagues had bought 12 brownies from the amazing Melted cafe in Hilsea in Portsmouth.I’ve tried these brownies before and honestly they’re probably the best brownies I’ve ever had. They’re really dense and stodgy. I’m not really a fan of the more cakey and light brownies. I like them to be gooey. And these are so gooey. There were two kinds: Oreo brownie and peanut butter brownie. I thought it was caramel so went with that one.I’m not a huge peanut butter fan but actually this was crazy good. Chunks of peanut butter in it with all the dense chocolate. It was so so good. My colleagues know me well clearly! Of course I shared them, though it was like a dagger to my soul every time someone took one… 😉 I did make sure I snagged an Oreo one to take home and put in Anna’s Glorious Cake Freezer though!

Speaking of good food and lovely people, the amazing Jude (@RunnerViking) sent me some WHITE CHOCOLATE Lion Bars all the way from Scotland.

I’d been moaning about not being able to find them in shops and she was kind enough to buy me a few and send them to me. They arrived in perfect timing for my birthday. I’m SO excited. She’s an awesome person and an awesome runner 🙂

And as we’re on the theme of awesome people and white chocolate… my lovely lovely uni friends bought me the BEST present for my birthday. A white chocolate crazy rocky road chunk of heaven. It’s from Choccywoccydoodah. White chocolate covering marshmallows, jelly babies, nougat, honeycomb. I mean MY GOD.

I won’t lie, I’ve cracked into that bad boy already. I meant to only have a bite but ended up eating maybe almost half (OK OK two thirds). It was just phenomenal. I mean what was nice was that every bite was different – which is probably why I kept going.

They also got me a jar of hand-picked sweets from the Brighton sweet shop (Sugar Sin) which I’ve been to a few times and ADORE. The sweets aren’t you’re usual pick ‘n’ mix sweets, they’re crazy sweets you can’t get in the UK. So needless to say, I am very chuffed.OK one last food-related item… I saw this at my new gym and it really made me laugh.It’s a twist on that famous line in Notting Hill (one of my favourite rom coms). Don’t get me wrong, I do love a salad (as long as it’s a big salad) but I think we can all agree there are definitely days when you just wish it was a giant doughnut.

Speaking of my new gym (how good are my seamless tangents today eh!), I’m really getting into the spin classes. I’ve tried Les Mills Sprint, RPM and The Trip. RPM is probably my favourite as it’s hard but the instructors and music really keep you going. Sprint is just Go Go GO and The Trip is…well, a trip really.You basically follow a route on the screen and put your resistance up when you get to a hill and then beast it on the downhills. The “routes” you go on are either normal places like San Francisco or they’re crazy worlds (very trippy). It’s good fun though.

Does anyone remember the old skool ipods? My dad is a proper technology geek and as a family we were early adopters of most new technology and gadgets (like game consoles and mp3s – anyone remember the Microsoft Zune? No…?) so I was the first one in my school with one (yes really, it was 2003 – it wasn’t mine though I hasten to add, but borrowed from my dad) and I remember people looking at it in wonder and asking what it was. Yes I could really keep 1,000s of songs on there. This wasn’t even the first version of the iPod we had. I dropped it about four times and as it was in warranty I could keep sending it back and they’d send me a new one (oh those were the days…). And then the last time I dropped it they sent me the updated version. It’s amazing because now we just use our phones to store music. Mental. I can even remember when they became colour.

And one last thing I’ve recently been loving is the episode I listened to from the Ben Coomber Radio podcast. I have a love-hate relationship with Ben Coomber. I do rate him as I think he’s super hardworking and driven and has a lot to give in terms of knowledge and passion, but there are also things he does or says that I struggle with (or cause excessive eye rolls). But I listened to his interview with James Haskell and I really enjoyed it.

James Haskell has such a no nonsense approach to training and keeping fit. He has a very direct and blunt way of talking and a lot of sound solid knowledge. It’s worth a listen if you’re into that kind of thing (strength training, fitness in general and social media). Also, he has a very weird fascination with diggers (to the point he actually has one loaned out to him…).

Did you have the iPod back in the day?

What podcasts do you listen to?

Chocolate or sweets? It’s probably chocolate for me but I ADORE pick ‘n’ mix from the cinema.

Running goals and things I’m loving

In the aim of continuing some positivity, I’ve got another rantless post Smile

Running: Ahh running, you little sneaky demon, you. My relationship with running is always up and down. I train well, I run as much as I like, maybe I PB (not all the time – in fact, quite rarely!), I get injured, I’m forced to stop running… But I’m currently at a peak. Running (*touch wood*) is going well. Though I’m not running particularly fast (I’d need to do actual training rather than my “whatever pace” miles…), I’m loving it.

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It’s amazing how much I’ve changed over the years. When I first started running it was purely to keep fit and healthy, then I joined a running club and wanted to RACE ALL THE RACES. This quickly caused me to get injured and get frustrated with myself and my abilities. After many, many injury cycles (mostly of my own idiocy and training bloopers) I’m now at a place where I rarely RACE a race. Or indeed, do many races. I fell in love with the marathon. Just completing a marathon for me is the dream. PBs are superficial bonuses. I have vague lofty marathon time goals to achieve at some point (realistic to my ability and my willingness to really put some hard graft into training) but really just to tick off different marathons is the goal. And ultimately do all the Marathon Majors (Berlin, Boston, London, Tokyo, Chicago and New York).

And this is very similar to parkrun. I can’t see me ever trying to go sub-20 minutes any time soon. Again this requires some hard training and I’m not ready or inclined to put that effort in for a goal that I frankly don’t care too much about. But 20+ different parkruns? Now that’s a cool goal I can get on board with. My friend Adi also mentioned the ABC of parkruns (running a parkrun for every letter in the alphabet). That sounds like fun too… though I have a way to go (I haven’t even done ‘A’!).

So that turned into a bit of a free-wheeling reflection!

My dad: I’ve often mentioned that my dad’s been trying to lose weight. He’s been occasionally going to parkrun but finds it very tough as he’s quite overweight. 5km is a long way to walk when you haven’t been doing much in the way of exercise and you have a lot of weight to carry around with you, especially the impact on your joints. Though I’m so proud of him for doing it, it’s not the best way for him to lose weight (at the moment).

My mum joined Slimming World a go while ago and has lost a stone (and counting). Finally my dad has decided to join as well. My dad knows the food that causes him an issue. He knows his problem zones and he’s not as nutritionally unaware as my mum is (no offence to my mum, but she is). But going to a meeting every week to get weighed and, in a way, explaining himself to a group is far more motivating than having only himself to justify his weight to. He can track and motivate himself, knowing that what he does in the week will be reflected on the Saturday morning weigh-in. Though I do have issues with companies like Slimming World and Weight Watchers in the ways they create a certain dogma about food and their products are all “low fat” but full of crap and sugar. But that said, it is the easiest way for my parents in a world that is so saturated with nutritional information, myths and fallacies.

And in an effort to do more exercise in a way that is less impacting on his joints for the moment (he’ll be going back to parkrun when he’s lost half a stone), he cycled alongside me on my 3.5 mile run on Sunday.

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It was fairly windy but he survived. Three and a half miles might sound like absolute peanuts to any regular cyclist, but this was perfect for my dad. He found it tough and it worked him hard, but didn’t ruin him or his joints for the day. I’m so proud of him.

Savse Smoothies: I was recently sent some Savse smoothies to review. I’ll do a proper post on them another time, but over the weekend when I was trying a few and taking some photos I had a bit of a photo bomb issue…

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Bless Alfie, he just wanted to get involved Winking smile

Awesome Supplements: Talking about reviews, I’ve recently been trying out some Awesome Supplements. I bought them myself and wasn’t compensated in any way for this review. I just thought I’d share my experiences.

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They’re made by Ben Coomber, who I really respect. The ethos behind the supplements is something I can really get on board with. They argue that supplements will only really make 5-10% difference to your health and training. Really you have to get the foundations nailed down first (nutrition, sleep, training, etc.). All the products are backed by scientific research and the doses within the products are clinically significant doses comparable to those studies.

So what did I get and how did I find them?

Daily Dose

It’s essentially a high strength fish oil and a multivitamin, containing:

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The reason why this appealed to much to me was because I always take a fish oil supplement anyway and I’ve previously been considering a zinc and magnesium product to help with recovery. But most of the Zinc and Magnesium products out there aren’t the best quality. For example, Zinc Citrate is far better than Zinc Sulphate or Zinc Gluconate, which are cheaper but have less actual zinc in them. The rationale behind each vitamin included and the percentage of it is well thought out and rationalised (Coomber links to Examiner.com).

The downside is that it is expensive (£35 for 360 capsules). For the quantity and quality it has to be. And not only this but you have to take 12 capsules a day. That’s a lot of tablets obviously (though they are small and easy to take). It’s advised to take six in the morning and six in the evening to break it up. But I don’t feel like I’m being duped or taken for a ride. I feel like the product justifies the price. I do eat healthily but I’m a stickler for keeping with the same foods and I feel like this just tops me up with some things I might be missing.

Electrolytes

I’m a big fan of electrolytes in general. I love nuun and High5. I’m not a fan of carb-based drinks that contain electrolytes as they’re often sickly sweet and not refreshing at all. When I was at the Body Type Nutrition Retreat, Ben Coomber (who organised it) brought along a load of his products for us to try out while we were there. I tried out the electrolytes and fell in love. The taste is really good. Like really good.

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The ingredients: Electrolyte blend (Potassium sulphate, calcium citrate, di-potassium phosphate, magnesium oxide, sodium chloride), dextrose monohydrate, flavouring, malic acid, citric acid, colouring (turmeric), sucralose.

And it’s 20 calories per serving. And a tub is only £8 for 250g.

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Why are electrolytes important? Well, they basically keep you hydrated above and beyond what plain water would do. It allows your muscles to absorb liquid and reduce cramp and hyponatremia (where you lose far too much salt through sweating and your body can’t regular it’s level properly).

During this hot weather I always drink electrolytes before and after running. I sometimes fill my water bottles as well and take them with me. The flavour reminds me of sherbet lemons. It’s very orangey and tangy. It’s about the strength of squash, rather than the very weak flavours of High5 and nuun, which always annoyed me a bit. This is a game changer for me. I love it. I also like that you can dictate the serving size. Have a huge water bottle? Put a bigger scoop of it in. Just fancy a very small drink? Do half a serving. Though obviously it’s not as easy to transport as the electrolyte tabs (in their handy Durex wrappers Winking smile). But you could always put it in a container to take with you.

Recovery Spray

I’ve been wanting this for a while. Basically each ml provides 300mg of magnesium and 10mg zinc. Doing intensive exercise depletes our magnesium and zinc levels which are essential for good performance and energy levels. This spray is applied directly to the muscles and reduces the feelings of DOMs (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).

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I get really bad DOMs after squats and hip thrusters after the gym. And this is annoying because I’ll want to run the day after and I feel like I’m hobbling along. I need to go to the gym to keep myself strong for running but it feels horrific…catch 22. I tested this out by spraying one leg and, er, cheek and not the other.

Honestly, the difference was incredible. (Incredibly annoying incidentally because it meant I was a bit unbalanced but it showed how much of a difference it can make). While one leg and bum cheek was still feeling the effects of the day before, the other leg and cheek were far fresher! Not 100% amazing of course, but markedly better than the other. It’s so simple as well. You spray it onto the skin, rub it in a bit, wait three minutes, shower it off. Boom.

Really chuffed with these three products and fully recommend!

What products have you been loving lately?

Do you take any supplements or use electrolytes?

Are you a smoothie fan? What’s your favourite flavour?

BTN Fitness Retreat–part 2

In part 1 I had just finished recapping the second and, in my opinion, physically hardest day. The run and insane obstacle course circuits almost ruined me (in a good way I think!). It meant that the next day I wasn’t feeling as fresh as I’d hoped for the actual obstacle course.

But I was going to give it my best shot. We’d planned to do it just before lunch but after popular demand it was brought forward to 7am before breakfast when it was cooler. We were organised into waves so the course wouldn’t get crowded. I kind of wish I’d have gotten to go in a wave with the boys (it was about 3-4 people per wave) but ended up in a bigger group with all the girls. This annoyed me a tiny bit (though to be fair I could have easily spoken up and voiced my opinion) because it meant a fair bit of waiting around for the obstacles as there were usually only one or two female-specific weights/versions of the obstacle. It also had the feel of “we’re just going to survive” rather than being competitive and really going for it, which I wanted to do. Also being in a group of six girls meant I couldn’t go as fast as I wanted. OK I’m not saying I was significantly held back or that the other girls were slow but I know I could have gone faster if I hadn’t had to have waited – this is purely my competitive personality coming out now.

Anyway, it is what it is. The obstacle course was ridiculously fun. A couple of things I didn’t do (and had to do 50 burpees instead – yes 50) like the hang tough purely because of where they came in the course. You were already knackered and your hands almost destroyed by ropes and holding heavy things. I didn’t fancy falling great heights because I couldn’t maintain a good grip.

I finished the course in about one hour and ten minutes and was happy with that (if not slightly disgruntled at having to wait for different obstacles…OK I’ll stop moaning about that now!).

Obstacle Course victory

We survived and felt amazing at the end. And incredibly I only sustained one injury.

Shot put injury

I managed to drop a 12kg stone shot put on myself. I thought I had it balanced ready to throw over the net (you had to throw it over eight times each side) but it rolled back off my hand and onto my lower back. Ouch.

After breakfast we then had a nutrition session with Ben Coomber himself. He gave a very thorough and good talk about general health (including the mind, sleep and recovery) and a detailed chat about nutrition. It was very informative!

Ben Coomber

At this point I was fully shattered and had to keep my eyes open. I didn’t want to fall asleep though obviously because a) it would be rude and b) I wanted to hear the talk!

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Ben was really knowledgeable and answered all our questions. He has a very down to earth approach with a “take no rubbish” attitude. One of his points I remember was “if you don’t succeed at your goals, they’re not your goals”. Harsh I suppose but realistic. Don’t aim for something that you don’t fully believe in or want to commit to. Success isn’t handed to you; it’s hard work, sacrifice and realism. He also stressed that you should have your own goals rather than see something on social media and think that’s what you should be wanting/looking like/eating like/etc.

I really respect Ben, on many levels, but mainly because you know he’s not trying to simply sell you an idea. He was a great guy as well in general, exactly like his is on the podcast. Such a cool guy to spend time with.

After the nutrition chat, the majority of us headed off to a water park for a bit of fun.

Aqualand, Marbella

I actually didn’t realise how scared I can get on water slides. I don’t think I’ve been to a water park in a good while and some of the rides really frightened me. There was one ridiculously tall one and I freaked out. We had to walk up all these rickety stairs and I wasn’t sure I could do it. It’s different to a rollercoaster where you’re strapped in and have no control over the situation. With a water slide you literally have to push yourself off and then it’s free falling (well, going down a slide). Ben was such a nice guy and waited for the others to go and stayed with me to encourage me. I really appreciated it as no one else seemed to struggle!

The rest of our time at the retreat was doing some really good workshops like learning some boxing.

BTN workshop - boxingI didn’t realise you had to wrap your hands before putting them in gloves!

Which I found out I’m rubbish at! There’s a lot of footwork and coordination involved which really isn’t my strong point. At the end we did get one minute in the ring to fully pummel Simon (who’s a very adept kick-boxer) to pieces (well, attempt to) which was good fun. Especially watching one of the guys who is a trained boxer!BTN workshop - boxing 2

Simon and him had a proper fight rather than let him beat him to a pulp. It was amazing to watch them move!

The next day we had the morning free and everyone was planning what they were going to do as we had free reign of the gym. The girls had decided they were going to do a “Victoria’s Secret workout” (aka legs, bums and tums). This is really not my thing. No offence to anyone who loves that sort of thing but it’s just not something I’d be keen to do. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a good glute workout but it’s rather more running-specific. Anyway I found out that some of the guys were going down to the obstacle course to do some circuits on the combat zone and they invited me to join them. Now THIS was far more my thing.

Combat zone - Hang tough

So the next morning at 7am we headed down to the combat zone and basically just did whatever we fancied using the different obstacles. I had fun on the hang tough section (see above photo), the sledge hammer…

Combat zone - Sledge hammer

Lifting tyres…

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This looks a lot smaller than it was in reality! Though there were actually three sizes, I could only just about manage the medium size – the large one I had no chance.

Combat zone 2

This was pulling a rope down that was attached to a set of weights (the tyre and wood stacked in the photo). Basically we spent a good hour down there doing crazy things that didn’t feel like exercise. This has really opened my eyes to trying out an obstacle race at some point. It was really good fun and felt like proper functional strength training – actually lifting and moving things for a purpose.

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The rest of the day we did some more workshops looking at pull ups, hypertrophy (which is essentially using lighter weights for more reps in order to big builder muscles – bodybuilding basically. But the exercises are usually accessory exercises rather than big compound moves like squats and deadlifts).

The food in the retreat was really good. We had a buffet style breakfast (everything from porridge and cereal to eggs, ham and cheese – and lots of gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian options as there was a vegan and people with certain intolerances). For lunch and dinner we had a good sized carb and protein balanced meal.

BTN Retreat mealsL-R: sausages in a lentil casserole-style dish; chicken with chickpeas and couscous

There was always lots of salad to add to your meal too. The funny thing was that most people left a good portion of their carbs. For example, there was a pasta meal one night and most people left the majority of the pasta and loaded up on salad instead. The meals were big enough that this didn’t mean you were hungry but it was an interesting trend. When I went to the running camp earlier in the year, all the runners loaded up on garlic bread, potatoes AND rice. They were like “give me ALL the carbs”. Whereas here it was a completely different story. It was like carbs were the devil.

BTN retreat group 2The kitchen and dining area

I will say that the one thing that did make me a little sad was when we went out for dinner on the last night (and then out clubbing – urghhh I did not enjoy this – a post for another time). You know I like my food and will often have something rather extravagant or ‘naughty’ over the weekend while eating generally quite healthily during the week (#balance Winking smile).

So I was looking forward to splashing out on something non-healthy and possibly pudding depending on what others were thinking. We had worked hard after all! But we got there and people started making comments like “I bet that has cream in it” or “’I might just order two small starters rather than a main”. I felt quite inhibited by the vibe of everyone else. I had spotted ribs on the menu and after hearing everyone else I immediately shrunk away from them and chose a salad instead. Looking back I’m annoyed at myself for not allowing myself to be “Anna the girl who enjoys her food” and instead just going with the crowd. The salad was good but I felt a bit deflated. And of course no one had pudding. God forbid they allow those macros into their bodies…

Anyway, aside from this minor blip the whole week was fantastic. I learnt so so much and realised I’m stronger than I think. My body can do amazing things when it wants to! It made me grateful for all the time I’d spent in the gym and I could kind of show off (to myself) what I could do. I’d definitely look to do something similar again. Huge thanks to the Body Type Nutrition guys and to Ben Coomber!

Have you ever done an obstacle course?

What’s your ideal workout?

What kind of fitness retreat, if you were to ever go on one, would you like to do?

Body Type Nutrition Fitness Retreat–part 1

So a couple of weeks ago I went on a Body Type Nutrition fitness retreat in Marbella in Spain. BTN is run by a very cool guy called Ben Coomber. He’s basically a coach (and BTN is his online coaching company) and he also owns a few different health-related businesses. I first heard about him through his podcast Ben Coomber Radio which if you’re into keeping fit and healthy, both mind and body, it’s worth checking out as it’s very good. Anyway, I signed myself up to the retreat as soon as I heard about it as I knew it was exactly the kind of thing I’d enjoy doing: learning about strength training, techniques in the gym, nutrition, mobility and also there was an epic obstacle course (the biggest in Europe) which we would get to have a go on.

The retreat was based at a gym/training facility which also had a set of cabins, a swimming pool, a kitchen (where we had three meals a day cooked for us) onsite and the obstacle course nearby.Mikes Gym, Marbella

The gym was insane. It pretty much had everything. It was very CrossFit focused but also had a boxing ring with boxing equipment, machines squat racks and weights, kettle bells, Bosu balls, resistance bands, monkey bars…just everything really. The guy that owned the gym (Mike) is a 51 unbelievably fit legend. He runs a CrossFit class most mornings at the gym (which by the way is just outside our cabins so we heard it going on every morning – it was like our alarm), has done triathlons and cycling events and is basically a machine. Originally from the UK, he’s been in Marbella for 11 years and has never looked back. But it was Ben that was running the show and planning the week (we were all grateful for this as Mike was literally the drill sergeant from hell).

Along with Ben, there was Simon Herbert and Carl Greenslade, two coaches who work for Ben who took us through several workshops and gave us great advice through the week.

BTN RetreatFrom L-R: Ben, Simon, me and Carl

There were, in total, about 16 of us. So a nice small group of like-minded people. Some people were personal trainers hoping to further their knowledge and coaching abilities and some were like me, just interested in fitness. It was not a beginner’s retreat though – everyone was fit, strong and knew their stuff. I was the only runner though.

BTN Retreat groupEveryone together – Mike is the guy without a top on

Unfortunately when I arrived in Spain around midday I was still feeling so very hung-over from the wedding the night before (having had only 3 hours sleep). I felt very unwell and actually really cold despite the 30 degrees C temperature. After meeting everyone I pretty much just went to bed to, for want of a better description, sweat it out. I missed dinner (you know I’m not well when I miss meal times) but honestly I felt so ill I just had to sleep. I was so worried I wouldn’t be up for anything the next day so prayed a good long sleep would help. Thankfully when I woke up the next morning I felt almost fully better.

Obstacle course - Mikes Gym

For our first proper day we checked out the obstacle course. The obstacle course is split into two sections: an endurance section and a combat section. The endurance section included things like climbing over walls, swinging across ditches, balancing across beams, running with a heavy sandbag on your shoulder across floats on water…etc. The combat section was basically a strength based area – one huge circuits set. You had to go from exercise to exercise completing the necessary reps. The weights were different for females and males and there was a ‘step down’ weight if you couldn’t do the proper one – but this was more reps.

Mikes Gym Obstacle Course

There were sit-ups, pull-ups, pushing and pulling weights, battle ropes, climbing a rope, sledge hammering a tyre, flipping a huge tyre, pressing logs, tossing atlas stones over your shoulder, bench pressing logs, monkey bars… Honestly it went on and on. So we got to go through each of the combat zone exercises to get familiar with them. We were going to do the obstacle course for real on Wednesday so we could practice before then.

Combat zone - Battle ropesHaving a battle rope battle against Simon (surprisingly I won lasting the longest as he started way to fast and aggressively, burning out quickly)

I loved doing all of this. It was just so much fun doing really random strength-based exercises that I’d never done before. Getting dusty and sweaty in the sun chucking heavy things around didn’t feel like exercise to me.

Combat zone 5

Later on we also did a mobility workshop which was really interesting. Simon and Carl showed us some great ways to warm up before lifting weights in the gym. Normally I just go on a machine for 4-5 minutes and then start lifting weights, but they showed us some great simple exercises to get us limbered up and ready in a more functional and specific way.

BTN Workshop 3

We did most of the workshops in the studio and then could practise the different techniques. Both Carl and Simon were great teachers and clearly knew their stuff. You never felt stupid either for asking what seemed like basic questions. They were very ‘hands on’ as well – helping us get into the correct positions and guiding each of to good technique.

Mobility workshop

After this we did a shoulder press session. This was so good as it’s an exercise I often do in the gym so to have some eyeball my technique and give me specific cues was fantastic! I also found I could lift heavier than I had kept to at the gym as I felt safer having spotters around me. But it’s given me confidence now to be more bold in the gym.

That evening Mike mentioned that he was going to be doing a run in the morning if anyone fancied joining. Well obviously my ears pricked up! A few of us were keen so we were told to meet at 7am to be ready to go in the morning. The next morning at 7am he took the small group of us from Ben’s group and Mike’s usual group down to the obstacle course for a ‘warm-up’.

Now when Mike said warm-up what he really meant was a 45 minute circuit session of the combat zone. We paired off and had to do each exercise for about 2 minutes before moving on. I paired with the only other woman, who was a regular of Mike’s classes. She was a MACHINE. I like to think I held my own – farmer walking two 30kg weights up through a slalom of hanging tyres (three times!), climbing up a rope to the top, pulling down weights on a pull system etc. I felt very comfortable pushing myself – a competitive element had also sparked off in me and a fear that Mike and his gang would think we were weak. My hands were destroyed though by the end as so many of the exercises required pulling or holding heavy things that tore into your skin.

Combat zone - Farmers walkFarmer’s walk holding heavy weighted wood – from a different day

Then we packed into a car and headed to some Spanish hills for the “10-12k run”. I say run but really it was run to every steep hill Mike could find, then struggle up it and carry on running. Luckily the sun wasn’t quite out to burn down on us. I had stupidly left my water in the car, not thinking I would need it as it wasn’t that hot yet. So I was very much dependent on one of Mike’s crew who had a Camelbak. He was lovely though and kept me nicely hydrated. The run though was INSANE.

Epic run through Spanish hills

Two guys from our group really struggled and we had to keep waiting for them. They hadn’t run more than 5k in a few years and the elevation gains were relentless. I relatively comfortable (well, I was dying but in a manageable way) as this was my territory being a runner. Mike was unforgiving and would yell at the slower runners to hurry up “you slugs!”.

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By 3 miles I wondered how we could really do 12k and prayed that Mike was just giving a rough estimate. In the end though it was 6.6 miles. Luckily the last mile was pretty much downhill so I could pick up some speed and open my stride but I could feel my body weakening and tiring. When I saw the cars I couldn’t have been more happy.

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But we survived! We felt like champions at the end, though exhausted and a little broken.

Post Spanish run

When we got back to the gym at around 10am (we had started at 7am!) we went straight for breakfast. It was fairly amusing that everyone else was just out sunbathing and hanging around while we came back covered in dust and sweat and completely destroyed. For breakfast I wolfed down porridge and boiled eggs – I was starving.

And the day had barely begun! For the rest of the day we tested out the endurance section of the obstacle course which I found a bit more tricky. Not necessarily in terms of physically doing it but in terms of genuine fear. One of the obstacles was climbing up a high rope wall and clambering over it to the other side to climb back down. I found this really nerve-wracking and when I got to the top I just basically lay clinging to the narrow beam not being able to get my leg to swing over for fear of losing my grip and falling. After lots of encouragement from the group though I was able to get over it and down. Another tough obstacle was using a rope to swing over a ditch and landing on the other side. I wouldn’t have been scared until I saw a couple of people either let go too early and fall awkwardly into the ditch or hit the side as they swung. Luckily though I made it across.

After finishing we then had lunch and got ready for some more workshops. This time it was squats and deadlifts.

BTN workshop - Weights session

I was really looking forward to this but I was also feeling quite fatigued now! Eating lots of food did help though of course. And we did have some down time between sessions where we could nap or sit in the sun.

Simon was really helpful during the squats session as he watched my technique and advised I raise my heels slightly to help with my form. This felt so much better! Deadlifts were good too. It was just so handy to have qualified trainers to watch and help you. It was like having a personal trainer for the week.

I’ll leave my recap there as I still have a lot to talk about. Hope you’re enjoying it so far – it was a fantastically varied and tough week Smile

Have you ever been to a fitness retreat?

Have you heard of Ben Coomber?

Have you ever done an obstacle course?