Before I got really serious about the running thing, I was pretty much all about the strength training thing. Determined to be something other than The Skinny One, I’ve been trying to build muscle and ‘tone up’ for a few years now, and it still forms the bulk of my training – albeit more running specific these days. So far, I’ve done all of my strength work at home. I’m a strong advocate of working out at home, and it fits into my lifestyle perfectly; allowing me to exercise when The Toddler is in bed.
I think I’ve done alright so far, but I always want to be bigger/stronger/less like a 31 year old woman trapped in a teenage boy’s body, and I feel like I might be reaching a plateau soon, so it may be time to step out of my comfort zone and into the place of machines that I don’t know how to use, and people who will surely figure out very quickly that I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. Or y’know, the gym. I’m sure there should be more full stops in that sentence. Feel free to add them yourselves if you’re that way inclined.
It’s definitely a daunting prospect, so hopefully I can convince someone to come with me and hold my hand through the first few sessions and make sure I don’t drop weights on my foot. As my Brighton marathon training increases in intensity, I know I need to make sure I keep up the strength work to try and stay injury free, so yes, gym will be happening. Probably.
I’ve uhhmed and ahhed about including this next bit for fear of it being a bit wanky, but I’ve had a few people ask me what exercises I do for my arms, so I thought I would give a quick rundown of a typical arms session in case it helps anyone. (Disclaimer: Obvs, I’m not qualified in personal training in any way, so this shouldn’t be taken as advice – just an insight into what my training looks like). Feel free to skip – there’s some #bikeporn at the bottom if that’s more your jam.
So, I mainly use kettle bells for arms & shoulders work. I do also have a decent set of resistance bands which are also great for things like bicep curls and upright rows, but I prefer the kettle bells as they’re less faff.
I usually start with Around the Worlds (There are some good demo videos on YouTube). 3 sets of 12 reps in each direction, using a 6kg kettle bell (Stop laughing at the back, I’m small alright?);
Then 3 x 12 reps of double arm shoulder press with an 8kg kettle bell, followed by;
6kg single arm shoulder press in decreasing reps of 10, 8 and 6, alternating arms;
3 x 12 reps of 8kg double arm bicep curls;
6kg single arm bicep curls, in decreasing reps of 10, 8 and 6, alternating arms;
And finally, 3 x reps of 6kg tricep lifts where I’m almost at the point of being able to use 8kg.
I try to do the above twice a week and I’ll sometimes add in some pushups and tricep dips as well.
Anyway, onto the promised bike goodness.
Although I’m back running now (yay), albeit at decreased intensity (boo) and my shins are feeling almost back to normal (another yay), I know that I’m going to need to cross-train in order to get my fitness up to where it should be for/during marathon training and to stop me getting injured again when the miles increase – so I bought a bike.
At first I was a bit scared of her, and felt thoroughly out of my comfort zone. So much so that it’s taken me almost two weeks to man the fu*k up enough to take it out for a spin. Having not ridden for knocking on for 20 years, the first ten minutes or so were predictably wobbly. I had a close encounter with a fence early on, but after that I was flying – or at least I felt like I was. Why did nobody tell me how much fun this was before?(Sorry to all the people who told me how much fun this was before). I probably rode in all the wrong gears, and my steering was ropey at best, but I found some enticingly flat and smooth areas to really let loose on, and I swear I haven’t felt that exhilirated since I was flying around a wind tunnel.
My short term aim is to become confident enough on the bike to commute to work (fortunately, Milton Keynes is criss-crossed with cycle paths and you can get from one end to another without hitting a road, but I’m not quite confident enough to be in the vicinity of motorised vehicles yet, so I’ll be sticking to the countryside for now), but triathlons are now a very real long-term aim for post-marathon. I even tried my first ‘brick’ run this week – running after cycling. It felt like I had simultaneously forgotten how to use my legs and like I could run forever. Needless to say, I loved it.
So that’s it for this week – there was some running in there too; 2 x 3k runs and a 5k – all pain free and without any shin splint niggles, so it’s going in the right direction, but it’s pretty frustrating to be having to build up mileage and speed from scratch again. Anyway, onwards.
There’s no fundraising plug from me this week. Instead – and sticking with the bikes and biceps theme – I wanted to give a quick mention to my buddy George. This bicep-toting chap is going to be taking to his bike – and the sea, and his feet – to compete in Ironman Kalmar in Sweden, in order to raise money for a charity that quite possibly saved his life; which, despite the inordinate amount of time he spends prancing around taking Lycra selfies, is probably a good thing.
So if you’re a fan of biceps, people taking on epic/stupid sporting challenges, or mental health charities who really deserve more recognition, then go check out the only man to make arm warmers look cool (his words) here and here and please please do consider a donation, however small. I know it will be very gratefully received.