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?

What I do when I can’t run

My hamstring is, fingers crossed, definitely getting better. It’s tough because I’ve had to strengthen the tendon in order for it to get back to normal but strengthening it can aggravate it further and delays it feeling normal.

However, I had a really good deep massage again on Tuesday night and I woke up the next day with huge improvements. The sports therapist also tested my hamstring strength and found it had improved a lot since previously. So for now I’m just letting it calm down a bit. Tendons are tricky business!

Anyway, I’m still actually OK with not running at the moment. As I’ve said before, I have no races coming up and I have no urgency to start training again. All is well! Clearly shows I needed a break. Don’t get me wrong, I would like to do the odd run for the mental freshness it brings but I’m not feeling the panic and sadness I might previously have felt in the past.

So what does a runner do I do when I can’t run? I’m not a big fan of cardio machines at the gym it has to be said. I know I can get my fitness back when I get back to running so I’m not stressed about being slow (for me) when I do start again. Spinning has always been a good fall back for me but I’m not really feeling the urge to go and I’ve convinced myself it wouldn’t be a good idea with a hamstring issue anyway Winking smile

My only annoyance with my hamstring is that because I’m trying to be super careful not to aggravate it, I’ve been avoiding heavy squats and deadlifts. I find these really don’t help the matter and probably contributed to it going from a slight niggle post-marathon to a very annoying persistent nag. So going to the gym has required a bit more thought.

Though I am still lifting heavy weights when it comes to upper body (arms, back and shoulders), I now incorporate more running-specific dynamic strength workouts so when I go into marathon training I will hopefully have a strength conducive to running injury-free.

Here are a few of the things I’ve been doing at the gym.

For legs:

  • Side sliding lunges

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This uses the rowing machine’s seat. You can use those floor disc things that slide around but I prefer the rowing machine. At first I was a bit nervous doing this as it’s a bit odd I guess to use the rowing machine in this way but no one batted an eyelid (and to be fair, the gym is quite empty at 5.30am).

You can also stand in front of the seat and push your foot backwards for a backwards lunge as well and this will work the glutes a bit more.

  • Squat with medicine ball drop

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Though I’m avoiding heavy squats, I find normal body weight squats don’t impact my hamstring (especially I don’t try and go too deep). These squats are really good for the entire body as you lift the medicine ball in the air as you come out of the squat and then throw it down. It’s quite an explosive exercise. You then squat to pick it up and begin again. I tend to do about 20-30 reps depending on the weight of the ball.

  • Squat on a Bosu ball

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This is a good isometric exercise – where you hold the squat position, or you can squat up and down while attempting to maintain good form. It’s tricky because you’re wobbling the entire time. It’s a great exercise though as it recruits lots of stabilising muscles that might ordinarily not come into play.

For core:

  • Battle ropes

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Obviously these work the arms and shoulders quite a lot, but the core is also engaged to keep you grounded and to help with the movement. I try and do these for one minute – it’s tough!

  • TRX suspension

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I do a few different exercises using the TRX ropes. You can do mountain climbers (alternating bringing one leg forward to your chest) or (as in the photo) both legs at the same time for a crunch. A good one for the abductor muscles is getting into the plank position with your legs held in the suspension and then opening and closing your legs while maintaining a stable plank position.

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For glutes:

  • Donkey kickbacks

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A fairly standard glute workout that you’ve probably seen countless of times. I try and keep the movement controlled and slow rather than launching my leg back quickly. I also wear ankle weights to make it a bit more tricky. Then after doing a certain number of reps I pulse my leg when it’s in the raised position to really work the glute.

  • Resistance band walking

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This is a favourite of mine. I use a resistance band around my ankles and then step (while maintaining tightness in the band) to the side, like a crab, then change directions to work the other side. I then walk forwards and do it that direction (monster walk – again trying to maintain the resistance). Another good one is the “wet pant walk” which is basically standing on your tip toes and walking forwards, like you’ve just wet your pants Winking smile

  • Plank with leg lifts

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While planking, slowly lift one leg up (maintaining a strong core) and bring it back down, without touching the ground, and then lifting it again. I do this for about 10 reps per leg and repeat this a few times.

For how I structure things at the gym, what I tend to do is do heavier weights at the start (after a warm-up) and then follow with a circuit-style routine. For example, this is what I did on Tuesday:

Heavy: Pull-ups (using the assisted pull-up machine)
Heavy: Standing press

– Press-ups
– Battle ropes
– Kettle bell swing
– Eccentric box jumps
– Leg curtsy squats
– Russian twists
– Burpees

After I’ve finished the more heavy stuff, I set up all the bits I need for my circuit and then go through each exercise once for a number of reps, and then repeat the entire circuit three times. I enjoy doing this as it stops me getting bored and it allows my muscles to recover while I do something else before I get back to it.

I tend to find my exercises on the Internet, Instagram or in magazines. I’m always looking out for ways to make things interesting and not get samey. I hope these help anyone who needs a bit of inspiration!

What do you do in the gym?

What do you enjoy most at the gym?

What’s your favourite area to work on?

Rants and Raves #32

I feel like I’ve been sleepwalking through this week. I’m really struggling with getting proper night’s sleep with hay fever. Humidity and rain makes it so much once I think. It’s the itchy eyes and throat that kill me. A trip to the pharmacist is required I think! Some random rants and raves then…

Rave: As most of you know I get up ridiculously early (5am) to be at the gym for 5.30am four times a week. Sometimes it drops down to two or three visits depending on my running and the races I have coming up, but recently it’s been four times during the week days and then once at the weekend. I enjoy the gym but it is hard getting up so early.

Anyway, I like to listen to BBC Radio 1 as I like the presenter, Adele Roberts, and I like the music. She has a feature on her show at 5.55am every day called “Resident DJ” where each day a listener has a chat with Adele and picks a song that corresponds with the theme (Top of the Charts Tuesday, Workout Wednesday, etc.).

I always hear it and then last week I thought “I should apply for a laugh”. I went online and applied. Then two days later I got a call from the radio to say could I come on the next week. Oh god… So I said yes. They said they’d call me at 5.50am on Monday to be ready to go on air for 5.55am.

I was so nervous on Monday morning. I was at the gym, sat in the changing room with my phone waiting for them to call. I had to do a 30 seconds little bio of myself which obviously entailed me saying about how obsessed with running and food I was…Adele was lovely. She called me wonder woman which was nice Smile

So far I’ve done three days. It’s fun but I do find it quite scary. It doesn’t last long but I get so flustered and honestly feel a bit like a knob with what I say. I wish I could be cooler, or sexier or just more interesting but there we go. I am who I am. I’m not built for radio. Today’s one was cool because it was Workout Wednesday so I felt on safe ground talking about my running and marathons.

What was also cool was when I finished on the phone on Tuesday a lady noticed what I was saying and came up to me afterwards and said “Oh wow are you the resident DJ for this week?”, I said I was and she went “yay I’ve met someone famous!” She was joking (obviously) but it was very sweet.

Rant: rain. That is all.

Rave: A little independent health-food style pet shop has opened up within walking distance from my office. I don’t usually buy Alfie treats or chews, mainly because he doesn’t seem to know what to do with them. With chews he just puts it in his mouth and then wonders around the place whimpering. I’ve tried cutting it up for him and then he’s sort of on board but otherwise he just doesn’t chew things. Anyway, I found some Alfie-friendly things at this new shop and they’re not full of rubbish (yes I do try and make sure Alfie eats well too!).

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Peamutt Butter (though I think Peanut Mutter would have sounded better personally) and these Arden Grange crunchy bites that are free from any nasties. I figured that the peanut butter stuff could be on treats to encourage him to eat them. It’s funny because Alfie will eat chews and treats when he’s around my parent’s dogs because their dogs go mad for them and then want Alfie’s. But when he’s on his own he’s not bothered.

Rant: I paid £5 to be involved in my work’s sweepstakes for the Euro football.

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Well, I waved goodbye to that money! Probably just as likely as England doing well I suppose Winking smile My money’s on Germany…

Rave: Food is generally always a rave for me. I’ve found I can sort of recreate the Nando’s experience at home, but in a more small and normal portion size. I buy Gressingham Poussins, which are basically small young chickens.

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I roast it whole and then have it with some tasty veggies. It’s not a regular meal I have in the week but it’s a nice meal to have on a Friday night when I want something a bit more interesting but don’t want to go out or get a takeaway. It satisfies the protein beast inside Winking smile

Rant: Porridge has been my go-to breakfast of choice for over ten years now. I love it. I never have any toppings, just chia seeds and either almond milk, cow’s milk or goat’s milk. It fills me up and I enjoy it. I decided though to mix things up and try having something different for once. Everyone raves about eggs so I thought I’d give them a go. I like my protein so I figured it would be a good choice as I don’t tend to snack between breakfast and lunch.

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So far I’ve tried three eggs scrambled with four rashers of turkey bacon (to be fair, each rasher is 21 calories so four seemed the right number!) and kale. It didn’t fill up my up for long at all and by 11am I was grumpy for food. I tried it instead with fish (river cobbler) and this is somewhat better. To be honest though, I still love my porridge and once I’ve got through my eggs I’ll be back to normal!

Rave: While at the gym I needed to use one of the boxes for my box jumps but a girl was using the one I wanted. I sort of hovered awkwardly nearby and between her sets I asked if I could use it when she was done, which she happily agreed to. She’s a regular early morning gym go-er too and often does some hard-core weight sessions. Saying that might imply (because of those oh so annoying stereotypes driven by the media and common misconceptions) that she might be bulky or mannish-looking girl, but far from it. She’s got a rocking body: strong but feminine. She can lift some heavy weights though!

Anyway, when she dragged the box over to me she asked my name and we chatted for a bit (normally I’m a bit of a gym ninja where I try not to speak to anyone as I want to get in and out fast and, well, its 5.30am). Anyway she said I should join her to workout (she has other girlfriends who she works out with sometimes) as I’m “good”. Ahh little fan girl moment though. Being told I’m “good” by someone as cool and strong as her made my day Smile

What are you rants and raves this week?

Have you ever been on the radio or TV?

What’s your go-to breakfast?

Happy birthday Netley and weekend recap

The start of the week is always sweeter when you know you have a chunky four day weekend on the horizon, am I right? Knowing I only have four days at work just puts me in a happy mood. I like my job, don’t get me wrong, but I like not being at my job more Winking smile

Saturday started as most of my normal Saturdays do, at Netley Abbey parkrun. I walked Alfie before leaving and the weather was dry but chilly. I didn’t think it was that cold so went with my running skirt and long sleeved top. When I got to parkrun to help set up however it seemed far colder. Obviously I had a coat but I was suddenly really quite cold.

IMG_9262Setting up parkrun (Photo credit: Max Andrews)

As I had the Weymouth Half Marathon the next day I didn’t want to go too fast at parkrun. It’s always nice to turn up to a parkrun knowing you’re just going to ‘plod’ round. The pressure is off! Lots of people were volunteering and not running as there was the very popular Eastleigh 10k the next day too which is a local race for us that lots in our club and nearby clubs take part in. I’ve actually never done it despite it being so close by. It just didn’t fit in with marathon training and I hate 10ks…

It was Netley’s four year anniversary of setting up so there were a collection of awards given out during the race brief. I thought I was going to be third on the female points table but surprisingly I turned out to be second.

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Apparently the maths had gone wrong somewhere and so it was wrong on the website. I was over the moon. What was nice was that the first place female and third place female were all lovely ladies from my running club so we were quite chuffed to all be on the podium.

IMG_9263Receiving my certificate (Photo credit: Max Andrews)

Anyway parkrun was good fun. I ran with my friends Mike and Matt. Mike was also doing the half the next day and Matt is just getting back into running after an extended time off. It’s always nice to see people back at it after a break – and enjoying it again Smile

IMG_9264Matt (in green), Mike (in purple) and me (in black) (Photo credit: Max Andrews)

We went round at a nice conservative pace though I felt fairly pants running initially. But after two laps I perked up and decided to push the pace with Mike to the end. He went with me and we went back and forth overtaking each other before finishing – both knackered from the random bursts of speed.

IMG_9260Final stretch (Photo credit: Max Andrews)

I finished in 24:08 so not too shabby!

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I enjoyed a nice hot drink in the cafe after helping clear down everything. I’d been looking forward to it the entire run – a lovely hot peppermint tea! Then I headed home to quickly freshen up, have breakfast then head to the gym. I’d skipped my usual gym visit on Friday morning as I’d felt tired after my evening seven miler on Thursday and for once I had nothing really planned for the afternoon apart from chores so thought I’d have a quick visit.

I quite enjoy going to the gym at the weekend (despite it being a bit more busy) as I’m less rushed and more awake. I did some assisted pull-ups (still working hard at them!), chest presses, single-arm rows, press-ups, lateral pull-downs, narrow cable rows and some kettle bell swings. A nice hour of upper body work (apart from the swings). I didn’t go too hard as I was conscious about the next day.

In the evening I met up with a fairly dedicated triathlete I’d chatted a lot with on Twitter. His family lives in Portsmouth and he was down from the Cotswolds for the weekend and apparently I go on a lot about ribs and Coast to Coast (do I…? Winking smile) and he wanted to see how good it was.

It’s funny because he’s read my blog (careful what I say here I guess…ha) so I felt a little at a disadvantage of him knowing more about me than me about him. Though it was also nice because he didn’t think I was a loon (or so he says) for photographing my dinner despite initially me saying I wouldn’t as I’d been there so often. But Coast to Coast had changed their menu! My favourite St. Louis ribs were gone and they just had regular baby back ones and the dishes were slightly different, which therefore justified more photos Winking smile

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I had my regular chicken wings to start (still good and fairly similar to before), baby back ribs for main with sweet potato fries (which, though smaller than the jumbo ones, were still pretty damn tasty), followed by millionaire’s waffle (a waffle with honeycomb ice cream, honeycomb chocolate balls and chocolate syrup).

When I ordered the pudding the waitress informed me that there were no honeycomb balls left. I jokingly said (well, I was sort of joking) what else could she put on top then and she said how about Oreo crumbles? Sounds good. Then five minutes later she came back to the table with a little bowl of honeycomb chocolate bowls and whispered they were from the bar and used in the milkshakes but I could have them. Amazing! Great service!

And happily I wasn’t the only one eating everything on my plate for the three courses (and he even had a thick shake!) Major kudos there Winking smile All in all I lovely evening. Though I was stuffed.

I knew I wasn’t in a chance to get a PB for the half the next day so I wasn’t too worried about feeling so full of non-race ideal food. Though I did want a hard effort – ideally I was aiming for sub 1:40. I know I’m not in PB shape and that seemed like a realistic target, maintaining around 7.30min/miles. I’ve also done a lot of long runs having had a big meal (ribs included) the night before so I wasn’t stressed about it.

I’ll recap the race in another post, but all in all it was a great weekend.

How was your weekend?

Has a favourite restaurant of yours ever changed it’s menu for the better or worse?

How old is your local parkrun?

Training and food lately

I know I start 90% of my posts about the weather, but I’m British soo… It is raining ridiculous amounts at the moment. I realise I’m extremely lucky to not live in any part of the UK that has flooding risks or issues, or places in America that were snowed under, but I can only comment on where I am right now. And it’s soggy to say the least.

Despite the rain and wind, I went out after work and did some hill training on Tuesday evening. I’d wussed out last week to do this specific hill because it’s not lit at all. It’s a long path off the main road and there are no street lights along it so it’s actually really hard to run up it without any light as it winds and turns. I don’t normally run in a headtorch unless I’m trail running when it’s dark, but I needed it for the hill.IMG_7854

Despite the rain, the shorts are back in action – as is my new Forever21 ‘Focused’ top (light and waterproof)

I’ve mentioned this hill before in this post, but basically it’s a12% incline for over 0.2 miles, which usually lasts about 3 minutes. It’s a beast. There’s a Strava segment on it as well and I love to test my fitness to see how well I’m currently running.

I did a mile warm-up then ran up and down the hill three times. I’d planned on four but three was enough! I had my music going (the only way I can survive a solo speed session) and just focused on my form (swing arms, use my bum, look ahead), trying to ignore the pain. The rain was pounding down but I was oblivious to it. I then continued on with my hilly route to make a total of six miles. Honestly, this run was awesome. OK it was painful and tiring but for whatever reason I felt like I was flying. I felt like my form was on point (or as on point as I can achieve!!) and like I was cutting through the rain. When I checked back to my splits and the hill segment I found I’m doing nicely in gaining back my speed. I’m not at my fastest for the hill but I’m getting there.

I love this about marathon training (when I get it right that is…). Seeing the progress, even if it’s tiny, is just so motivating each week. For me the two important things that really help my running are hill training and long runs. I’m always a bit weary of intervals and, whether justified or not, I feel like I dice with injury with them. But with hills I feel I get stronger.

Another important factor for me for marathon training is maintaining my strength work. I know I say this so often but my glute, leg and core work are really important for me to remain uninjured. This involves lifting heavy weights to keep my body strong; big compound moves like squats and deadlifts help strengthen not just your legs but your core and posterior chain. And the more running-specific moves, like wall sits, glute kickbacks, crab walks and box jumps help too. For me the strength side of things isn’t to increase my power or speed, it’s to keep me healthy. It’s also a something I thoroughly enjoy doing – who’d have thought?! Fabletics leggings

I know my focus shouldn’t be on how much I can lift and squat but there is something so empowering about increasing your weights or reps. It’s also, in a weird way, a nice comfort to know I have the love of lifting to fall back to if running and me have another fall out (*touch wood* I don’t!).

I just need to make sure I don’t burn out. Nutrition is a big factor in this and I can assure you, I’m eating lots of good nutritious food. For one thing I’m on a culinary exploration of all the cheeses. So far I’m in love with Stilton… but Camembert and Brie make regular appearances. I’ve found some nice cheese from MuscleFood as well (the French Chevre and Lincolnshire Poacher).Cheese

Lately a lot of my dinners have been fairly simple with meat, veg and cheese. And honestly, I’m loving it!

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Most of my carbs happen earlier in the day: porridge for breakfast and with my lunch at work I have my standard popcorn (home-popped with salt and pepper). I’m not a huge carb eater, as I’ve said a few times on the blog. I don’t eat a lot of bread unless it’s good stuff at a restaurant and I don’t eat pasta. It works for me though!

Tonight I have an easy 5 mile planned, then parkrun on Saturday and a 16 mile run planned Sunday. The long runs are getting longer! Speaking of long runs… In a couple of a weeks I head to my grandad’s in Wales, who I’ve visited a few times. That weekend I had an 18 mile run planned and I mentioned it to him and asked if he had any ideas of good routes. He came back with this:Boston marathon prep

He planned an 18 mile route that compared to the Boston marathon course elevation!! How amazing is that?? I’m so pleased. He’s also offered to cycle alongside me to help navigate and provide a bit of support. I mean, can you get better than that? This is my 82 year old grandfather by the way, who has his own Strava account capturing his regular walks up and down the nearby hills of Llandudno. Yep.

How do you plan your really long runs? Do you go anywhere interesting?

Carbs, protein or fat? What’s your favourite? Unsurprisingly mine is protein!

What do you prefer: intervals or hills?