I have been programming active recovery sessions once a week for one of my athletes for the last couple of months, since he completed his B race, and is building to his A race.
Last week I received a message from said athlete, asking (in their own words) “WTAF is recovery training?”
What I loved about this was that they had been doing the sessions religiously each week, regardless of not really understanding the purpose of them. This to me proved the trust they have in me. However, I didn’t love that I had an athlete in my camp blindly following workouts without knowing the why.
Now I get that not every athlete wants to understand everything (“thats your job” is something one of my guys likes to point out. “Monkey see, Monkey do, Monkey gets results” as he says) but I like to try and share the methodology behind everything we do so that they can execute every session to maximum advantage.
One of my biggest things, across every form of coaching that I do, is that if a client asks me “why are we doing this” if I can validate that question and explain the reason for the movement, or the workout, we shouldn’t be doing it.
As one of my experience athletes didn’t understand Recovery Training, I figure there must be others out there in the same boat so here’s the overview:
Recovery Training is a workout focussed on speeding up your recovery, rather than putting your body under any further stress.
To avoid stress we need to avoid high intensity, high impact, fast pace, or heavy loads. Recovery Training is ideally a maximum of 45 minutes and performed at a low intensity, keeping the heart rate down at around 30-60%. (*Note – It is NOT a zone 2 run. A zone 2 run occurs at a higher % of heart rate and although these often feel easy compared to the speed and power sessions, they are definitely still training and not recovery!)
I generally program indoor cycle sessions as active recovery sessions for my Ironman athletes but it can be swimming, walking, or maybe even some active mobility.
The goal is to move the body into a recovery state; a lowered heart rate, a lowered blood pressure – pushing your body to become more parasympathetic. This can drive up Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and people with a high HRV may have greater cardiovascular fitness and may be more resilient to stress.
Getting the body moving without stress will stimulate blood flow and help push fresh blood (and fresh oxygen) to every muscle fibre which will speed up recovery.
Working out at low intensity means you will be able to focus on the quality and rhythm of your breathing and the quality of your movement. Under fatigue we are all aware our form can go to shit and we are often gasping for breath any way we can get it. Recovery Training gives us time to build or reinforce our foundations, thus improving future workouts. I often spend some of my sessions focussing on my breathing patterns so that it becomes ingrained and less likely to fall apart under stress.
In a nutshell a Recovery Training session should make you feel better than when you started. It should help you feel more mobile, re energised and lessen the effects of the heavy, intense sessions that have come before.
A few months ago I decided to try the bio hack that Dr Stacy Sims talks about in her book ROAR. (Side note – if you are female and care about your athletic performance, you really need to read this book!) I got pretty decent results so thought I would share it here as it may help many of you.
In the book she shared an action plan that she created for a mother daughter duo who were talking the mountain biking world by storm, with both women rising to the top of their game.
This action plan helped both women master their cycles and not let PMS affect their power or performance.
The plan is in four stages and is this:
Peak Performance during PMS: For the 7 days before your period starts, at night take the following; 250 milligrams of magnesium, 45 milligrams of zinc, 80 milligrams of aspirin (baby aspirin) and 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acid (flaxseed and fish oil)
Pre-training: Take 5 to 7 grams of BCAAs (branched chain amino acids). *Stacy doesn’t state how long before training you should take this. I did this around 30 minutes before starting my session. The science behind taking the BCAAs is that these amino acids cross the blood-brain barrier and therefore help to decrease the estrogen-progesterone effect on central nervous system fatigue. In other words it can hep fight the lack of mojo and help you find some energy.
In Training: Consume approx 0.45 gram of carbohydrate per pound of body weight, per hour. During this high hormone phase you want to consume a few more carbs per hour and should be aiming to get close to the above amount. During the first 2 weeks of your cycle, the low hormone phase, you can go lower at about 0.35 gram per pound of bodyweight, per hour. *I used this for longer endurance based sessions only. For my CrossFit classes I only ever consume water during and make sure my pre and post fuelling strategy is on point. I am however going to rectify that and follow this part of the plan too.
Post Training Consume 20 to 25 grams of protein within 30 minutes of finishing your session. Recovery is key. It is often overlooked yet so critical, especially as this point in your cycle. Progesterone, which is peaking during this phase, is extremely catabolic, which means it breaks down muscle. Getting that protein in post workout means you will be able to fight this process and boost, rather than inhibit, your recovery.
What did I notice? It definitely helped me beat the bloat and keep my usual energy levels… something that never normally happens. I’m lucky that I don’t get super moody (although my husband may say otherwise!) but I do get a bit lazy, a bit “can’t be arsed” and a bit “m’eh”. Following this protocol meant I felt like me regardless of the time of the month 🙂 Who doesn’t want that!
If you feel PMS is holding you back, give this power protocol a go and see if you can learn to master your cycle too.
I’m currently 44 and for the last year or so I’ve been feeling like I’m suffering from some perimenopausal symptoms. Not enough to warrant talking to my doctor about HRT but enough to make me look for some answers and find some help.
Having opened up the conversation within Forza Fitness, talking very open and honestly with pretty much all my female clients, it’s clear a lot of feel the same way. We might be experiencing different effects, we might be different ages but we’re all looking for things we can change to help us with this period of hormonal chaos.
I had a lot of people who’s voices I trust talking about herbal adaptogens so I decided to explore this avenue as they were all saying how this has helped.
I’ve been taking Ashwagandha and Schisandra now for over 7 months, as they were the two best suited to help me with my particular symptoms, and I can honestly say they have been the answer for me. I am under no illusion that further down the line I may need to look seriously at HRT and if that time comes, trust me, I will not hesitate, but for now this is enough and I feel like myself again.
As your oestrogen levels decline your stress levels increase which in turn upsets your mood and concentration – brain fog was a big one for me for sure – I have, in the past, even forgotten my own post code!
To help your body combat this stress, you can introduce adaptogens. Herbal adaptogens work by increasing your body’s resistance to stress and they do this by targeting the neuroendocrine system that controls your reaction to stress and regulates multiple bodily functions such as mood, temperature control, immunity and digestion.
Taking adaptogens means that over time, they build up in the body and block your cortisol response. This means you experience less stress.
Here’s the low down on the three different herbal adaptogens that have come up most often in my research:
Ashwagandha increases your DHEA testosterone, which helps lower anxiety and cholesterol. It also improves insulin sensitivity meaning you’ll better blood sugar control and less prone to storing fat.
Research on athletes has shown that it can help increase endurance and power.
It is also an anti-inflammatory so can help reduce soreness after those tough workouts.
It has also been known to help regulate body temperature so can help reduce hot flashes.
Recommended Dose: 250 to 300mg twice a day (tablet)
Contraindications: Can affect your T3 and T4 thyroid hormones so those on thyroid medication should avoid.
Schisandra is widely used in Chinese Medicine and is commonly known as Five Flavoured Fruit.
It is is the adaptogen for brain fog as it stimulates the central nervous system and improves cognition. This means it can clear the fog and help with your concentration and focus.
It helps strengthen your mitochondria (where energy is created in the cells) so it can improve aerobic capacity.
Finally it can help regulate fluctuating hormone levels and reduce hot flashes.
Recommended Dose: 500mg to 2grams a day (powder)
*I add mine to my morning coffee
Caution: It has a caffeine like effect increasing alertness so can disrupt sleep. It best taken in the morning and avoided in the afternoon / evening.
Maca Root is often referred to as Peruvian Ginseng and is a hormone modulator. It also works as a steroid hormone so is a powerful herb!
It helps improves the onset of night sweats, hot flashes.
It can increase mood and help overcome the onset of anxiety and/or depression which are common during perimenopause.
Research has found it can improve energy levels as well as mood and some people describe Maca as giving them a natural high.
It also has anti inflammatory properties so can help reduce muscle soreness after workouts/
Recommended Dose: 450mg three times a day (tablet)
Contraindications: Can affect adrenal and thyroid function so those on thyroid medication should avoid.
Some products containing Maca are also on the WADA banned substance list so if you are a competing athlete subject to drug tests either avoid or be 100% the product you are taking is ok.
***Please remember I am not a doctor. The information shared here is purely for general information purposes. It is not medical advice.
Back in December last year, after seeing my friend Hannah’s results, I decided to take on the 75Hard challenge. I’d looked at it earlier in the year but dismissed it as I didn’t understand it properly. 75 days of training without a rest day? No thanks! I don’t even do 14 day challenges that don’t factor in rest and recovery as that’s just a straight road to overtraining, loss of performance and possible injury.
Hannah posted her results and I immediately messaged her to ask some questions. She gave me all the info I needed to finally understand this challenge and decide that yes, this could actually be one for me.
I shared it with the 3 other Team NBR members (my accountability group)that I would be starting this on 1st Jan and in sharing it for accountability reasons I actually inspired (although he’ll say peer pressured) Chris James to do it with me. We had several discussions about our individual ‘Why’ as we both had similar thoughts… “it doesn’t actually sound that hard”, “thats pretty much what we do anyway” “I don’t really know what I’d get out of it”… and I think we both came to the same conclusion; This is the Why… because we think it’ll be easy/simple and it must be called 75Hard for a reason. I was also still massively motivated by Hannah’s results but also aware that she is an absolute beast when it comes to fitness so it was unlikely I could achieve what she had.
What is 75 Hard?
It a mindset challenge, not a fitness challenge, designed by Andy Frisella, also known as the MF CEO. It’s 75 days of discipline abiding by the following 6 rules: 1) Two 45 Minute workouts. 1 MUST be outside. They cannot be consecutive and 3 to 4 hours apart at least. 2) Follow a diet. You choose the diet to match your goals but it must be strict. If you decide on calorie deficit and macro counting you cannot just have a takeaway pizza one day and make the rest of the day fit. It must be clean. 3) No alcohol or cheat meals. 4) Take a progress photo every day. 5) 1 gallon of water a day. This is a US gallon which is basically 4 litres. 6) Read 10 pages of a non fiction book every day. Not a e-book, not an audio book. An actual book.
I completed day 75 yesterday and can honestly say this is one of the most surprising challenges I have ever done. I didn’t expect it to be so worthwhile or interesting. I got so much more out of doing this than I ever imagined. It was also a better experience for doing it alongside Chris as we had a lot of the same revelations and thoughts.
Ok, so what did I get out of it?
Well for starters I look better. I start there because it’s the most obvious change. I’m the lightest I’ve been for about 20 years maybe, but the body composition shift is all the right way. Fat% down and muscle % up.
I’m stronger than I was. During the 75 days I PB’d my 1RM Deadlift and Strict Press and have been challenging myself to use heavier options during CrossFit classes.
I read more, I read better. I have loved carving out a little bit of time everyday to sit down with a book and this is definitely something I will be continuing. I’m always listening to audiobooks and reading my kindle but very rarely read an actual book and this is staying. I found it makes such a difference putting the book in my hands. Its a different focus as there are no devices, no electronics and I really liked that a lot. I finished 6 books and am a third of a way through the 7th.
I have proved again to myself that all the stuff I say about myself is true. I am disciplined. I have strong mental grit. I have a strong work ethic. If I say I’m going to do something I do it. There were days when it got to 8pm and I still hadn’t hit the workout criteria so had to get shit done before I could think about going to bed. I’m Ironman training so many days I would hit 2, some days even 3 workouts but because they were either brick sessions, or all indoors or outdoors, I hadn’t followed the rules. In this situation a few people said to me “what does it really matter” “you’ve done 2 workouts” and thats true, but thats not the rules and you can say the rules are stupid/not fair/whatever but I knew the rules going in so bitching about them would have been pointless. I could have quit, saying the rules don’t suit my lifestyle… but thats the point. It’s meant to be difficult, it’s meant to be inconvenient so head down, mouth shut, do the work!
I discovered how much of a difference refined sugar makes to how I feel day to day. Both Chris and I cut refined sugar as part of the diet rule. Neither of us are mass consumers and we were both surprised as how a small change made such a big difference. I followed a strict high protein, calorie deficit diet with no refined sugar. I’ve been doing the high protein, calorie deficit thing for a while, although not as strictly, so the major difference was the sugar piece. After the cravings on day 5 and 6, it was actually really easy to stick to. I thought this would be the hardest bit but not at all. I feel a bit in love with no sugar me. I had more energy, I didn’t feel the need to power nap every afternoon (although I still love a nap – I just didn’t need one), I was just, well, better. Thats not to say I’m never eating refined sugar ever again but it was a learning experience and will for sure shape my diet moving forward.
I finally found a type of yoga I can get on board with. As mentioned at the start, the bit I struggled with when I first heard about 75Hard was the 75 days of 2 workouts a day. After speaking to Hannah, and listening to Andy’s podcast ( a must for anyone thinking of doing this), I understood that you can still have rest and recovery days. An outdoor workout can be a walk and an indoor workout can be yoga. I’ve never been a fan of Yoga but Hannah was using the downdog app and suggested I look at the Yin Yoga. Ok, game changer! I LOVE Yin Yoga. I’m a huge fan of mobility work so this was perfect for me and although I only did maybe 1 or 2 sessions a week, my mobility improved, my squat technique improved and I genuinely enjoyed every session. Like the reading an actual book, weekly yoga is staying as part of my new routine.
The Results: *for the before and after photos you’ll need to check my social media. Body Compostion: Weight – Day 1; 82.4kg – Day 75; 74.6kg (Total loss: 7.8kg)
Body Fat % – Day 1; 32.8 – Day 75; 27.5 (Total loss: 5.3%)
After The Grizzly on the previous Sunday this week was always going to be a bit of a slow builder while I gave my body some time to recover. I was honestly expecting to feel a little worse after all those miles and hills but I’m generally ok. A little tired but thats about it. My foot feels no different to how it did a week ago so it’s still all systems go!
Mon – Rest Day 6pm – Restorative Yoga (via Down Dog App) *Just a 45 min easy restorative yoga session this evening, rather than Yin as this is very gentle, after a nice long dog walk in the morning.
Tues – Rest Day 8:45 – Yin Yoga via Down Dog App *Another day of dog walking and Yoga… feeling good and ready to get back to it.
Weds 6:45am – Coach by Colour Indoor Cycle Class (as Coach) *Week 12 of 12; The Vortex. A max interval session. 4 min blocks of 105% FTP+ holding 85/90RPM with increasing amounts of full recovery down in the white zone.
7:40am – 2 mile Brick Run *Easy 2 miles of the bike with George, one of my Forza Performance clients who also attends my Indoor Cycle classes.
12:30pm – CrossFit Class 50-40-30-20-10 Kettlebell Swing, Sit Up +30 Double Under each rd *If there was a workout made for me, this would be it. I can’t swim this week as I had my hair done on Monday and I cant get it wet for a week so the stars aligned and gifted me this joy of a wod. I’d gone to the box with the thought of RX’ing this one as DU’s are the one RX skill I have. However, I’d expected the RX KB weight to be 20kg and it was 24! Luckily Pam (good friend and owner of Big Croc) was in the class and convinced me to go for it still… she RX’d it with me saying “we can fuck ourselves up together” and sometimes you need someone like this around you to give you that push. I am very much a coward when it comes to a lot of CrossFit and one of the things I’m working on is to try and be braver.
Thur 12:30pm – CrossFit Conditioning Class 40 Min EMOM- Min 1-3 30 sec on (you can do 40 but this is active recovery for me), Min 4- 60s 1; Plate Ground to Overhead, 2; Burpee to Plate, 3; Goblet Squat, 4; Alt Run. Row, Bike Ski 5; Rest *No, I didn’t swim today either. The sessions available didn’t fit my day so easy indoor conditioning it is.
6:30pm – Coach by Colour Indoor Cycle Class (as Coach) *Same as Weds am.
Fri 12:30pm – CrossFit Open 22.3 This wod is too long to write in full so you can go find it elsewhere online if you really care. *I completed the first set of thrusters and single unders and spent about 10 minutes fighting to get 10 Pull Ups out. The video of my struggle to get these pull ups out is on my socials if you want to giggle -they are not pretty but they were effort!
2:00pm – Just Move EMOM with Head Coach Toby (and James & the hubby) 30 Min EMOM 1:16 DB Snatch 2: 20 Air Squat 3: 14 Hang Power Clean 4: 16 Down Up 5: “Recovery” Assault Bike
Sat 8am – CrossFit Class, Partner WOD with Si 25 Min AMRAP; 400m run together then 20 Weighted Box Step Up, 30 DB Snatch, 40 Cal Row, 30 KBS, 20 Devil Press (split reps) * I’d planned for this to be an easy, light recovery session but as often happens with Si and I, we went all in and pushed each other to the max. I didn’t go super heavy but I didn’t go as light as I’d planned.
9am -7k Row with Si I’d planned to run after class but Si said he was doing a row instead so I jumped in on that instead 🙂
5:45pm – 45 Min C2 Bike (easy recovery) As I haven’t finished the 75hard yet I still needed an outdoor workout to meet the rules for the day so I dragged the C2 bike into the garden, set up the 2018 CF Games film on my iPad and just peddled. No stress, just moving.
Sun – Extra Rest Day 5:45pm – Restorative Yoga via Down Dog App * I was feeling VERY beaten up today so I gave myself permission to take life easy. I got up with the dog at 6am and we went for a gorgeous 2 hour walk around Staunton Park and The Thicket before the rest of Havant woke up and then a yoga session in the evening. Even though these yoga sessions are low intensity I am feeling the benefits greatly as my mobility has improved no end since discovering Down Dog. My squat form continues to get better and better and I am definitely more flexible. It really is time well spent.
This week was a tense one. Sunday saw the arrival of my first big race of the season, The Grizzly, and the first big test for my foot. Since my initial sit down with my CrossFit coach, Kerry, back in January, when we agreed I’d take a small step back to focus on my IM training, we’d put this race as a marker. If my foot didn’t make it my IM/Tri season was probably dead in the water. If it survived it was 100% game on!
It was also week 2 of The Open and I was feeling pretty good about my performance in week 1… would that com crashing down come Friday. It doesn’t matter, right – I’m not focussing on the Open. This was what I had to keep telling myself many, many times.
Things were a little quieter this week leading up to The Grizzly, although not a lot… here’s how it went:
Mon 6am – CrossFit Class For Time: 50 Air Squat, 40 Box Step Over, 30 Jumping Pull Up, 20 Hanging Basket, 10 Jumping Bar Muscle Up * This was fast, and fun. Still not jumping on boxes due to my foot but if it survives the weekend I will try and few box jumps next week.
1:15pm – 45min Zone 2 Run *Threw all the layers on to try and make myself more uncomfortable and still control the HR to zone 2.
Tues – Rest Day 3pm – Yin Yoga via Down Dog App *45 min mobilty session with a lower body boost in prep for the weekend.
Weds 6:45am – Coach by Colour Indoor Cycle Class (as Coach) *Week 11 of 12; Faster, Better, Stronger. A repeated pyramid session of tabata sprints, heavy climbs and rest.
7:40am – 2 mile Brick Run *Easy 2 miles of the bike with George, one of my Forza Performance clients who also attends my Indoor Cycle classes.
12:30pm – CrossFit Class 18 Min AMRAP; 21 Wall Ball, 12 Cal Row, 9 Over Rower Burpee *I was supposed to swim today but I really, really liked the look of the workout so decided to switch my days around and Crossfit today and swim tomorrow. I love, love, LOVED this workout.
Thur 12:30pm – CrossFit Conditioning Class 42 Min EMOM- 30 sec on, 30 sec rest (you can do 40/20 but this is meant to be active recovery 1; Weighted Box Step Up, 2; Row, 3; Goblet Squat, 4; Ski, 5; Down Up, 6; Ski *No, I didn’t swim today either. The sessions available didn’t fit my day so easy indoor conditioning it is.
6:30pm – Coach by Colour Indoor Cycle Class (as Coach) *Same as Weds am.
Fri 12:30pm – CrossFit Open 22.2 For Time: 1 to 10 to 1 – Deadlift @ 43kg + Bar Facing Burpee (Time Cap – 10 minutes) *Not a bad workout overall. I’m not the biggest fan of fast deadlifts for time but I don’t mind a Bar Facing Burpee. It got gassy real quick but it was only 10 minutes so you could push.
2:00pm – Just Move EMOM with Head Coach Toby (and James & the hubby) 30 Min EMOM 1: 1 Snatch, 3 Bar Muscle Up Progressions + 15 Air Squat, 2: 30s Handstand Hold, 3: 50 Double Under, 4: 20 Sit Up, 5: Rest
Sat 8am – CrossFit Class, Partner WOD with Si 9 Min AMRAP; 3,6,9,12,15,18.. Hang Power Clean, Push Press, Hanging Leg Raise (split reps between you) 6 Min – to establish a heavy 3 Thruster 9 Min AMRAP; 8 Front Squat, 20 Double Under (1 rd each, U Go, I Go) * After the day before and all the deadlifts my hamstrings were feeling a little tight so no heavy weights todaybut still moving fast.
Sun Race Day – The Grizzly 20 Miles, All Terrain with a total of 1065m of elevation. *This race is nuts. Carl and I always run this one together as it’s so challenging. It’s down in Seaton in Devon and it is the hardest 20 miles I’ve ever run in one go. This was our third time doing it so we knew what to expect as the route rarely changes from year to year. I was bricking it that my foot would blow up and that would be it but I did what I tell my clients to do – control the controllable and find the positives. My foot has been “ok” since January. No, it isn’t 100% right but it hasn’t stopped me doing anything (except box jumps) all year. After some reassurance from my close friends, who also form Team NBR (No Bling required) – my accountability group, and lots of good luck messages from my coaches and friends I felt ready. The headline of the day is: “Liza’s Foot is OK and happily survived the full 20 miles with no repercussions” I was ELATED on the drive home (and pretty much all the way round to be honest) and it now really feels like this season is here and happening. It really is time to get to work!
This week saw the start of the CrossFit Open. I wasn’t going to join in the fun this year, apart from as a Judge, as it detracts from my primary goal but when my box said they were going to run an In House Comp and all proceeds would be reinvested back in the gym, well, how could I not sign up! I now have three weeks of competition where I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not taking it seriously and I AM NOT bothered about how it goes… honest! Fun times 🙂
I had an Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilisation treatment with Muscle Therapies 640 on Monday and we focussed solely on the foot and connecting areas. Paul managed to trace some of the issue to my achilles so hopefully this issue will get sorted once and for all within the next couple of months.
Other than that, nothing much has happened this week beyond the norm so here’s what my week looked like.
Mon 6:30am CrossFit Class Every 3 mins x 5; 30 x Double Under, 20 x Pistols Squat (Foot behind ankle), 10 x Handstand Push Up from a box
Tues – 11:45am – 2000m Pool Swim *Boom! Longest swim to date, after only a few weeks of swimming and the only reason I stopped was because the pool session is capped to one hour!
Weds 6:45am – Coach by Colour Indoor Cycle Class (as Coach) *Week 10 of the 12 week Program = The Force, or as my husband calls it, The Kitchen Sink as I’ve thrown everything at this one. It’s a full on interval session that flies by. No brick run today as, following my treatment Monday I’m not allowed to run until Saturday.
12:30pm – CrossFit Class Deadlift; 3 Reps every 3 mins x 5 Then Every 90 seconds; 5 Deadlift + 10 Burpee over the Bar
Thur 12:30pm – CrossFit Conditioning Class 42 Min EMOM (Min 1 to 4 40sec, Min 5 60sec) 1 – Down Ups, 2 – KB Swings, 3 – Top Of Plank Hold, 4 – Weighted Box Step Ups, 5 – Alt Row/Ski, 6 – Rest
6:30pm – Coach by Colour Indoor Cycle Class (as Coach) *Same as Weds am.
Fri 12:30pm – CrossFit Open 22.1 18 Min AMRAP; 3 Scaled Wall Walk, 12 Alt DB Snatch, 15 Box Step Over *A fun start to The Open. Very happy with Snatches and Box Step Overs… not practiced Wall Walks a lot lately but the scaled version was simple enough.
2:00pm – Just Move EMOM with Head Coach Toby (and James & Jack) 30 Min EMOM 1: 1 Snatch, 3 Bar Muscle Up Progressions, 2: 16 Wall Ball, 3: 100ft Dbl KB Front Rack Carry, 4: 12 Hanging Leg Raise, 5: Rest
Sat 8am – CrossFit Class, Partner WOD with Si 25 Min AMRAP (U go, I go but run together); 1000m Row, 200m Run, 75 Thurster, 200m Run, 50 Bar Facing Burpee, 200m Run, 25 Hang Power Clean, 200m Run.
Sun Rest Day * Myself and a couple of the Forza Performance crew went to Southsea to support one of our own, George, participating in the Portsmouth Duathlon. That was ahard fought race in brutal wind whipped conditions. I was very glad I hadn’t signed up!
8pm – Yin Yoga (via DownDog App) * A chilled way to end the week 🙂
This week I had my first dark day. My foot has been playing up more than usual and I was still a week away from treatment. I knew I had to cut back the running and thats not great for someone less than 5 months away from a 140.6, with no more than 8 continuous miles under their belt.
Still, the first things I try to instil in my athletes is “Control the controllable” and “Find the positive”. I am usually pretty good at this and up until Wednesday I was doing ok. However, for whatever reason, I woke up feeling less than chipper. I then had a disaster session in the pool and my mindset went black. I’d been feeling a little guilty for all the training hours taking me away from my husband, my dog and my home but I know my husband understands (and has never complained so this is ALL in my head) and while things are going great it’s ok as it all feels worthwhile.
Normally one bad session wouldn’t be enough to derail me but this week, for whatever reason, it was. I am only human after all and sometimes things get the better of you. Realising that I’d forgotten to check in with a close friend, who is really going through something shit, pushed me over the edge. It all seemed pointless. Thoughts of “whats the point in doing all this, if you’re going to fail anyway” plagued me, along with “this just isn’t worth it, you’re a shit triathlete and all this is going to count for nothing” and more along the same theme. Dramatic right! I know! But when you get beat down, you get beat down and it happens to the best of us.
What really matters though is what you do next.. how you deal with the black thoughts and whether you pull yourself out of the quagmire. Obviously I did. I quit the swim as it clearly wasn’t working. I went home, ran a bath and took 15 minutes of relaxed silence to reprogram my thoughts. I told myself it’s inevitable to have bad days. I always tell my team its the bad days that define us. Its easy when everything goes right. It’s how we deal with the tough times that show us who we really are. So, who am I? Oh right, I’m a muthafucking badass bear and badass bears don’t wallow in self pity. They take charge, they fix shit and they keep moving forward. Once out of the bath I first messaged my friend, then rescheduled my week to attack the swim again at the end of the week and got back on with my day.
Why am I sharing this? Because everyone will have self doubt at some point, especially anyone training for an Ironman (or crazy ass endurance event) as it takes such a commitment and so many other things have to take a back seat. Its a dark side of endurance training that we need to normalise and learn how to deal with. We all know the mantra; It’s ok not to be ok and it’s true. We just have to be kind to ourselves, take a few deep breaths and rationally look at the big picture, not just that one bad day!
Overall, my training week was pretty good so here it is:
Mon 12:30pm CrossFit Class 15 Min AMRAP 100m Farmer Carry 2x DB then 2 Rounds of DB DT (12 x Deadlift, 9 x Hang Power Clean, 6 x STOH) *This was, as you can imagine, a grip burner. I survived better than I thought I would and my forearm only really went on my lefthand side. More unilateral grip strength work needs to be done clearly!
Tues – Rest Day 6:30am – Active Recovery Session at CFID *Usual mobility and HR Z1 cardio to just move and focus on some deep mobility.
Weds 6:45am – Coach by Colour Indoor Cycle Class (as Coach) *Week 9 of the 12 week Program = My favourite week of the program. It’s called Le Tour and is basically an homage to my favourite stage of the 2019 Tour De France. It was an Alpine stage so lots of heavy, heavy climbs and a bit of fast racing in between.
No brick run today as my foot has been a more tender than usual so had to cut it. Already by this stage of the week I was getting a little concerned that my training activity had dropped from it’s usual level, which as contributing to the dark mood I described in the opening of this blog.
In reality I’d missed a session on Monday (which is an added bonus if I do it anyway) and a 20 min run but today was the day my PMS kicked in and my mood dropped as a result of a hormone change but I wasn’t being rationale at this stage and mentally berating myself pretty damn hard.
12:45pm – Pool Swim 1 mile for time – was the plan but the world had other ideas (or, I let my mindset slip and get the better of me so I quit!) *I have been saying in every other IM blog so far this year that my swim karma was seemingly a bit too good. Well, today it all changed. I was already being down on myself. When I arrived at the pool the changing room was loud, busy, chaotic and everything about it just rattled me. Then I went to put on my swim hat and it snapped. I was stood, in front of the mirror with my swimsuit on, watch set, googles in hand staring at my now useless swim hat thinking “well that’s that then. I cant swim today” Ridiculous maybe, but I have long, thick dreadlocks which do nothing to aid buoyancy or aerodynamics and weigh a ton when wet. I did tell myself I was being ridiculous though, pulled my hair into something i thought might work in the water and hit the lane. It was a DISASTER. My hair fell out of the ponytail/bun thing I had tried to secure it as, it pulled my head and neck down in the water. I retied it and tried to keep going but it kept slipping and threw my whole swim off. My feet were hitting the bottom of the pool, I was over-rotating, everything was just wrong. I persevered for 400m and then gave up. Another contributing factor to my dark mood and building sense that this week was going to shit.
I teach my athletes three key things when it comes to mindset; 1 – Control the controllable 2 – Find the positive 3 – Learn the lessons I tried to apply these to this situation, both in the moment and after. Doing this is one of the main reasons I pulled myself out of my funk. Instead of not swimming I thought “what if this happens on race day, what if you end up having to swim without hat” – actually, this is not only unlikely but would probably secure you a disqualification as generally, all swimmers must be wearing the issued swim cap so they can be easily identified, and I would have spare hats so that if one split or snapped when putting it on, I would just grab another. The positive was that at least I tried. I managed 400m. Ok, it wasn’t much in the grand scheme of things but it was something. Lessons learned – buy a couple more swim hats (I need a special size swim hat because of my hair so couldn’t even just go to reception and buy one) and keep spares in your bag.
Thur 11:30am – Mono-structural Cardio Conditioning Session 45 Min; 5 Min Row, Assault Bike, Ski – Each 5 min starts with 400m run *I pulled my head out my ass and decided that if my main concern was my lack of activity this week, find some space and add a session in. I had 60 minutes spare before the CF class so went in early and got some shit done. I could have stayed at home and done this session in my own gym but I like going to the box. Its separate to my work and my home and if I’m going there, it’s for the purpose of training (or to drink coffee, but thats usually only ever after training!)
12:30pm – CrossFit Conditioning Class 42 Min EMOM (Min 1 to 4 40sec, Min 5 60sec) 1: Alt Devil Press, 2: Goblet Squat, 3: Sit Up, 4: Box Step Up, 5: Row, 6: Rest
6:30pm – Coach by Colour Indoor Cycle Class (as Coach) *Same as Weds am.
Fri 12:30pm – CrossFit Class Part A: For Time 10-9 -8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 2xDB Front Squat + Bar Facing Burpees At minute 10: 6 mins to establish a heavy complex for the day; 1 x Clean, 1 x Front Squat, 1 x STOH *This was a variation of an Open workout from 2018. Part A was an exact copy so we got to test ourselves against our previous best. I was really pleased as I beat my score by over a minute. Happy Liza! The complex was new as in The Open it was only a 1RM Clean. I was strong with the Clean and Front squat but as usual my confidence in/fear of pushing a heavy bar over my head let me down. Once this Ironman is done and dusted I am going to spend a few months focussing mainly on overcoming some of the major weaknesses in my CrossFt repertoire.
2:00pm – Work on your Weaknesses EMOM with Head Coach Toby 30 Min EMOM 1: 1 Snatch, 3 Bar Muscle Up Progressions, 2: 16 Box Step Over, 3: 6/6 DB Hang Clean & Jerk, 4: 2 x 16kg KB 100ft Farmer Carry, 5: Rest
Sat 7:15am – 4 Mile Run
8am – CrossFit Class, Partner WOD with my husband 25 min AMRAP; Run 400m – Together (row for me) 30 x Power Cleans, 20 x Box Jumps (Steps for me, Stoopid foot!), 30 x STOH 20 x Pull Ups TeamSmith got to train together today as my usual CF Partner was out with a bad back. Carl and I don’t often train together so it’s really fun when it happens. We both agreed to push ourselves with a heavier barbell weight and go hard on the run/row. We both tried, and we both succeeded. Go Us 🙂
9am – Coach By Colour Indoor Cycle Class * as a participant rather than coach.
10am – 1650m Swim * yep, thats right I redid my swim session and it was fine. It was better than fine. It was good. It also helps that I’m on restricted running right now as normally I’d run on Sundays but rather than sulk about not being able to run, find the positive. No running means time available. What sucked this week, what can I put right? What can I try and fix?
This biggest thing this week I re-engaged with my Nutrition Coach, Demi @ Deep Health Nutrition, as I’m still dropping weight quite quick due to the 75Hard and the increased training levels that come from IM training. I’m hitting protein goals (30% of daily intake every day) and I am still losing fat and building muscle but I just need to ensure I’m eating enough, at the right times etc to maximise my performance and not let all this hard work go to waste.
I definitely had fat and weight to lose so I’m not at all concerned about dropping weight, but 5kg in 6 weeks is quite fast and if I had done it any other way I would know its not sustainable. It just shows that my calorie deficit was a little too aggressive, although occasionally in the very short term, this can be ok. I PB’d a couple of lifts in this time and both my running speed and bike power has improved so all signs show this was all perfectly ok. But, I know it wont last… soon, if I’m not careful I will lose performance due to being inadequately fuelled and that cannot happen.
Now, I could absolutely sort my nutrition myself but a) I don’t want to have to think about that as well as program my own training etc b) I want to be accountable to someone and c) I am smart enough to know what I don’t know and would rather lean on another expert to help me get this right. You should all know that one of my biggest beliefs is that the best coaches are ultimately coachable and have coaches. I stand by my beliefs.
And with that out of the way… on to the weeks activities.
Mon 6am – CrossFit Class 2k Row for Time – A classic cardio test * I equally love and hate the 2k row test. I love it because rowing is something I am strong at but man the 2k hurts. If it doesn’t, you didn’t do it right. No PB today but I was too conservative in the first 1000m. Still 5s off isn’t too bad.
Tues – Rest Day 6:30am – Active Recovery Session at CFID *Once again my coach Kerry let me crash the early morning class, hide up the back and just do my own recovery session. 5 minute rounds of 3min easy (Z1) row or ski and 2 min mobility. I have had a few people ask me what sort of mobility I do here and it standard stuff; couch stretch, pigeon stretch off the box, lizard stretch, back extensions using the GHD, deep squat holds etc. Nothing fancy, just basic shit that works.
Weds 6:45am – Coach by Colour Indoor Cycle Class (as Coach) *Week 8 of the 12 week Program = Get Stronger, which basically means climbing week. One of my favourites as I much prefer to climb than race.
7:30am – 2 Mile Brick Run
10am – Pool Swim 1 mile for time *Still got good swim karma. One mile, no stopping and it was both easy and enjoyable. Surely this enjoyment of swimming can’t last. I don’t ever remember liking it like this, or finding it so easy. I am also aware that I have not even hit half distance of what I require on race day but leave me alone, let me enjoy this while it lasts 🙂
12:30pm CrossFit Class Back Squat Day Lift every two minutes: 5 reps, 5, 5, 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 2, 2 *My squats have never felt so good, or looked so good according to Toby, who was coaching the class. I think the Yin Yoga is paying off. Who know… oh right, almost anyone who’s done any amount of decent yoga.
1:30pm Post CF 4 Mile Run * This run sucked. I felt so tired, which is completely justified after everything else I had done today. I would normally only Cycle, Run and Swim on a Weds but I had no clients after 10am so I took full advantage and snuck in a couple of extra sessions. Let’s face it, being able to run tired, on fatigued legs is a skill all Ironman and potential Ironmen should develop so as much as it sucked, it was also great.
Thur 12:30pm – CrossFit Conditioning Class 42 Min EMOM (Min 1 to 4 40sec, Min 5 60sec) 1: Plank DB Taps, 2: SA DB Thruster L, 3: DB Box Step Up, 4: SA DB Thruster R, 5: Assault Bike, 6: Rest *As per last week, I used this class as active recovery so easy intensity all the way through, a med weight DB, not too heavy but also not crazy light.
6:30pm – Coach by Colour Indoor Cycle Class (as Coach) *Same as Weds am.
Fri 11am – Conditioning with Head Coach Toby 60 Min AMRAP 5 can Row, 5 Cal Bike, 5 Cal Ski, 2m Burpee Broad Jump *add 5 class every round. * The goal here was to keep Heart Rate in Zone 3. This meant having to pull back on the bike but push a little harder on the Ski. 60 minutes passed fairly easily.
12:30pm – CrossFit Class 4 Rounds for Time 400m Run, 50ft SA DB Overhead Walking Lunge, 25 DB Push Press *Not a lot to say about this one. It wasn’t as horrific as I thought it would be so happy days… move on.
2:00pm – Work on your Weaknesses EMOM with Head Coach Toby 30 Min EMOM 1: 1 Snatch, 3 Bar Muscle Up Progressions, 2:2 x 16kg KB 50ft Farmer Carry , 3: Alt 8 Pull Up / 30s Active Hang, 4: 8 Toes to Rings 5: Rest
Start of the week brings me to 31 Days complete of the 75Hard challenge. This means I still need to hit the 2 x 45 minute workouts, one must be outdoors and they must not be consecutive rule so most days, due to bricking a lot of my sessions, my activity level continues to rise 🙂
Mon 12:30pm – CrossFit Class Barbell Day WOD For Time: 18, 15, 12, 9, 6, 3 Hang Power Snatch and Clean & Jerk *Loved this workout. Grip strength held out and my plan for the WOD worked well. I finished just within the time cap, as in, with literally seconds to spare.
6:30pm 45 min Zone 2 Run *Lots of layers, hat and gloves as it was pretty bitter outside. Still took over 5 minutes to get my HR out of zone 1 and in to zone 2 but once it was there, it was a steady run. It felt a little harder than a usual zone 2 due to me being completely ready for my rest day tomorrow.
Tues – Rest Day 8:20pm – 45 min Yoga Practice via DownDog App *Another Yin Yoga session. Definitely more my style of yoga and definitely what I needed today to help me recover from the last few days of effort.
Weds 6:45am – Coach by Colour Indoor Cycle Class (as Coach) *Week 7 of the 12 week Program = Unbreakable. A no rest, pyramid session using a mix of racing and climbing peaking in the middle with a brutal mountain climb.
7:30am – 2 Mile Brick Run Two of my clients who also come to Indoor Cycle Class kept me company on the run this week. Its what I called a “Naked” run – I set the watch but don’t look at it while moving. This is a great way to test if your perceived effort matches your actual effort. The goal of this run was to keep it comfortable and the data showed a mix of Zone2/3 so not far off.
12:45pm – Pool Swim 1000m for time *Aiming to continue my positive experience with swimming I decided to just swim this week. No repeats, no stopping, just swim 1000m and see what happens. I’m not going to break any speed records thats for sure but that isnt my goal. My only goal is to get through the swim relatively unscathed and without exerting too much effort. Today’s 1000m was fairly effortless, i enjoyed it and when I uploaded it to garmin, it turns out it was 3 minutes quicker than back in 2020… Result!
Thur 6:30pm – CrossFit Conditioning Class 42 Min EMOM (Min 1 to 4 40sec, Min 5 60sec) 1: Ski Erg, 2: No Push Up Burpee, 3: Double Under, 4: Alt DB Hang Clean & Jerk, 5: Row, 6: Rest *Used this class as active recovery so easy intensity all the way through. First time having skipping in a conditioning class so I took the opportunity to play with all my different ropes and alternated my speed rope, heavy rope and drag rope. I’m easily pleased and found this fun 🙂
6:30pm – Coach by Colour Indoor Cycle Class (as Coach) *Same as Weds am.
Fri 12:30pm – CrossFit Class 15 Min AMRAP 800m Run + AMRAP 12 Alt DB Snatch, 6&6 Devil Thruster, 12 Weighted DB Step Up *This was brutal! And yes, you read that right… Devil Thrusters! Do A S/A Devil Press, add a S/A Thruster and boom – one Devil Thruster. Another genius move from our Head Coach Toby.
2:00pm – Conditioning EMOM with Head Coach Toby 60 Min EMOM1: 30s Active Hang, 2: 20 Air Squat, 3: 30s Handstand Hold, 4: 60 Alt Single/Double Under 5: 20 Kettlebell Swing, 6: Rest *It was Toby’s deload week so a it was a bit different this week…no crazy programming today. It was good but I’m looking forward to getting back to normal next week.
Sat 7:15am – Pre CrossFit 3 Mile Run *With my CF training partner Simon, and my husband Carl 🙂
8:00am – CrossFit Class (Partner wod with Simon) 30 Min AMRAP Part A – P1 400m Farmer Carry, P2 Max Effort Row Part B – Combined Row Cals x 2 = Wallball total to be completed (split reps) Part C – Establish max weight for BB complex: Deadlift, Clean, Hang Clean, Jerk *This looked horrific and while it was tough, both Simon and I really enjoyed it.
9:00am – Post CF 4 Mile Run *Carl stayed to drink coffee and be sociable while Simon and I went back out for a few more miles. We hit the trails not far from the box and I discovered there are nicer places to run in Waterlooville than I realised.
6:00pm – Yoga Practice via DownDog App
6:00pm – Yoga Practice *Originally I was going to do my usual Indoor Cycle Class and run, then I was going to go for a swim instead as that would be a little less, but I went to bed exhausted Saturday night so decided to just give myself permission to wake up without an alarm and have a lie in. Carl and I went for a long dog walk in the morning which was just perfect. Took an extra rest/active recovery day and didn’t stress about it at all as I knew I needed it.
Last week in my first IM training blog of 2022 I outlined my approach for this 6 month block of training, which will take me from 0 to 140.6.
There isn’t really much to say about this week so on to the specifics:
Mon 9:30am Outdoor Upper Body Strength & Core EMOM 1: 10 Min 3xPull Up, 2: 10 Min 3xPush Up 3: 10 Min 30s Hollow Hold, 4: 10 Min 30s Arch Hold All with 2 min rest between
12:30pm – CrossFit Class Mono-structural Cardio day today 30 Min AMRAP – 400m Row, 400m Run, 50 Double Unders *My goal was to keep every round consistent and hope my foot holds out with the combo of running and double unders – I did, and it did 🙂
Tues – Rest Day 6:30am – “Just Moving” Recovery Session at CrossFit *Same as last week – without 75Hard I would likely just do the dog walk and that would be but as I need that second workout I went to hang out with the early morning crew again and did an easy (zone 1 max) session. I threw in the Ski Erg as well as the Assault Bike for of 9 x 3 min cardio + 2 Minutes mobility – and I threw in the GHD to work on some deep back extensions.
Weds 6:45am – Coach by Colour Indoor Cycle Class (as Coach) *Week 6 of the 12 week Program = Get Faster aka Speed Week. I’m a better climber than racer so this is a good week for me to work on my weaknesses. No brick run post class this week as I had no one to run with (meaning I had no one to store my bag with as I cycle to the gym). I know I could have done it once I got home but I got through the door and Cracker dog was so happy to see me I couldn’t turn round and leave hime again straight away… weak sauce I know but dog owners, you will understand.
12:45pm – Pool Swim 14 x 100m repeats with 1 min rest. *Building on the positives of my first session last week I simply aimed to add two more 100m repeats. I ended up doing 4 more, with the intention of completing 16 to get the mile but I ran out of time as the session ended. Note to self – find out how long the session is so I can plan accordingly.
Thur 12:30pm – CrossFit Conditioning Class 40 Min EMOM (Min 1 to 3 40sec, Min 4 60sec) 1: Burpee Box Step Up, 2: Alt Ring Row/Push Up, 3: KB Swing, 4: Alt Row/Ski, 5: Rest
6:30pm – Coach by Colour Indoor Cycle Class (as Coach) *Thurs night is the same as Weds morning so a second crack at speed week. It’s always interesting to compare the two efforts and weirdly there isn’t a clear pattern of best performance. One week my morning session will be stronger, another the evening.
Fri 12:30pm – CrossFit Class Heavy Strength Day today Every 3 min x 10 = 1 Deadlift + 10 Hanging L Raises (add one deadlift every set) *The deadlift was advised to be 50/60% of your 1RM and completed in unbroken sets. My current 1rm is 95kg so I went for 55kg. It felt solid, I could maintain good form and consistent pacing on each set and more importantly my grip lasted the workout. I split the hanging leg raises from the start into 2 sets of 5 and held this throughout.
2:00pm – Conditioning AMRAP session with Head Coach Toby 100 Wallball for time + 4 min rest. *The goal here was to complete as big a set as possible for the first set, same again for second set getting it done as quickly as possible with as few breaks as possible. I hit a set of 50, 20, 20, 10. Toby, because he’s a rock star hit 70, 30! 1 min on, 1 min off: 5 cal row + 2 Burpee over Rower. Add 2 Burpee until you cannot finish. *A twisted take on Death by Burpee -I got the round of 14 but could only get 12 reps. Toby, again because he’s a rock star got to the round of 20 but got timed out at 19 reps; EMO2M 5/5 Single Arm Dumbbell Squat Snatch x 6 * I cannot squat snatch a dumbbell I found out. I had never tried before and it did not go well. I cannot even really single arm squat with a dumbbell so I went back to basics, removed the weight and just worked on bodyweight single arm squats. I def found something I suck at which I will need to work on.
Sat 8:00am – CrossFit Class (Partner wod with Simon) 25 Min AMRAP (Run together, split the reps) 400m row, 50 Wallball, 50 Burpee Box Step Over 400m row, 50 Alt Devil Press, 50 Weighted Box Step Up 400m row, 50 Hang Power Clean, 50 Push Jerk *It was meant to be a run but I cant run in my CF shoes so Simon ran while I rowed. We both decided we wanted to push ourselves so we both went heavier with the dumbbell and barbell. During the warm up I genuinely felt done and was properly worried about how this was going to play out. I shouldn’t have worried. I loved every second of it. I worked harder than I honestly thought I could and thoroughly enjoyed it.
9:00am – 4 Mile Run w/ weight vest *No Simon to run with this week so I decided if I didn’t have him to push my pace, I would throw on my weight vest and mix it up that way. I ran 2 miles out, 2 miles back, so I couldn’t be tempted to dial it in early. It was practically spring like outside so no layering up required. Shorts, vest top, weight vest – Go.
7:00pm – Yoga Practice via DownDog App *So I discovered Yin Yoga on the app and let me tell you, I am a fan. I bought a new yoga matt in the week, one with the alignment lines on it (which actually helps a lot) as new kit always helps right 🙂 These two things combined mean that I think I can say, I enjoyed yoga.
Sun 9:00am – Coach by Colour Indoor Cycle Class *Again, not coaching the session I upped my FTP and just let Chris tell me what to do. It must have been a good session as at least twice when he gave an instruction I told him to fuck off (in my head of course). It’s like I tell my athletes, if every so often you aren’t cursing me during a session, I’m probably not doing my job right. No, it shouldn’t be high intensity, max effort all the time but occasionally you need to go to war with yourself and I did that in the class today.
10:00am – 400m Hill Reps *Post Cycle Brick Run session but this week focussed on building leg strength, cardio endurance and quick recovery. Once again Lorraine was the only one willingly to jump in with me and we spent around 40 minutes running 200m up 200m down the same incline for 3.5 miles. The goal is not to sprint up and jog down, the goal for this run was consistency. Same pace up, same pace down.
7:00pm – Yoga Practice *The exercise rule of 75Hard, is as you may remember, 2 45 minute workouts (can be longer), 1 must be outdoors, they cannot be consecutive. I’d hit the first two parts of the rule but same as yesterday, they were consecutive so I had to hit a third workout to meet the rules. Let’s face it, Yoga is never going to be a bad thing to do and I am determined to get to a place where I like yoga – yes I enjoyed the practice yesterday but that doesn’t yet make it something I relish and look forward to. I tried a second Yin Yoga session and I think because it feels more like the mobility sessions I’m used to it’s more comfortable (mentally, not necessarily physically). Again, I enjoyed it and could def feel the pain points in my body releasing a little.
I stopped drinking alcohol back at the end of 2019, purely because I wanted to see what life would be like. I didn’t have a problem with alcohol at all, I didn’t ever really drink to excess but just wanted to see if would make a difference to my life, my training and my relationships – but mostly my training.
It’s safe to say, I have never looked back. I do not need a drink to relax, I do not need a drink to be sociable or have a good time and I would definitely much rather use my calories for food than alcohol.
The only downside of being alcohol free is that I am occasionally judged by others, and have even been excluded from a couple of social events as “I wont enjoy it as I don’t drink!”. Its a minor downside as most of the people I choose to spend my time with are not judgemental but occasionally I come up against the “well, thats really boring” “go on, have one, you’ll have more fun” kinda nonsense that I know says more about the person saying these things, than about me but still, it can be tiresome.
While I do not like alcohol, I do love Beer – or rather the taste of beer so the recent explosion of alcohol free beer has made me very happy. The other drink I did really enjoy was a glass of red wine, as does my friend Kerry. Now, I say I like a glass of red wine, I think it’s safe to say that Kerry LOVES a glass of red wine, so when she was recently diagnosed with a brain tumour and told to stop drinking this was one of the things she struggled with. Life is tough enough right now without taking away one of her little pleasures in life.
The Forza Fitness Squad do what we do best. We rallied round and found a supportive solution. We decided to have a Non Alcoholic Red Wine Tasting as a few of us had bought a bottle here and there and no one has found anything good. Now though, we had a reason to get serious so we did.
Kerry did the research, did the buying (as, as she said herself, she has not a lot else to do right now) and she hosted, with the most gorgeous spread – yes, thats it in the featured image. We tried 5 different wines and here are the results of our tasting. We scored each wine out of 10 and yes, there was a clear winner we all agreed on. *Please remember we are just a few women who like a glass of red wine occasionally, we are not wine connoisseurs by any means so these are not sophisticated tasting notes. This is just a brief bullet point rundown of our thoughts.
DC DeAlcoholised (£6) Shiraz Felt and tasted like a Red Wine Palatable and strong Shiraz flavour *Denise was not a fan of this one hence the single low score, but also isn’t a huge red wine fan anyway (she was mainly along for the company and the chat!) Scores: 9, 9, 9, 7.5, 3 Total: 37.5
Eisburg (£4) Cabernet Sauvignon Again a good red wine taste and feel A little thinner than the DC but as good as the more expensive options A strong berry taste so again sweeter than the DC and the Merlot but not too sweet. Scores: 7, 5, 5, 8, 7, Total: 32
Vintense (£10) Merlot Generally tasted closer to a wine but still a little too thin Also a bit too watery A good Merlot flavour though. Scores: 6, 5.5, 6, 7, 7, Total: 31.5
Carl Jung (£10) Cuvee Rot Still a good red wine feel Sweeter than the DC and Merlot. A little too sweet for two of us. Scores: 5, 4, 7, 6, 8 Total: 30
WIN12 (£12) Tempranillo Very strongly tastes of berries, and Kerry said also Chocolate. Very thin Very, very Sweet *My personal thought on this one was that if you liked drinking this you might as well opt for a ribena, especially at £12 a bottle! Scores: 2, 3, 3, 6, 6 Total: 20
As we know, I am not going to quit CrossFit, as I love it and its been proven again and again that it works to build a brilliant training base encompassing strength, speed, power and overall conditioning.
My aim for this 6 month training block is to continue pretty much as normal at CrossFit (with a few tweaks here and there which I will discuss as they happen) and hit 8 to 10 hours of specific Ironman Training alongside. This duration will increase as we get closer to the event but not by a huge amount, I expect.
It’s worth mentioning that I am also currently doing Andy Frisella’s 75Hard challenge, which I started on Jan 1st. I will be posting a separate post about this challenge on my Fitness Blog so head there if you want to ready anymore about this. What this does mean is that I have to do two workouts a day, min 45 minutes, 1 must be outdoors and they must not be consecutive, and at least 3 hours apart. I walk my dog every day for around an hour and as this often constitutes the outdoor workout I have turned it into a ruck, taking the weight plates out of my weight vest and putting them in my rucksack.
So, on to my week and the training specifics:
Mon 12:30pm – CrossFit Class 3 x 3 Min AMRAP of 20 Box Step Over, 12 Cal Row, 5 Hanging Leg Raises
3:30pm – Concept 2 Bike Erg Session Zone 2 HR for 50k – took just over 1hr 45. *Why use a C2 bike and not a turbo – Simply the C2 bike is there in my studio and to use the turbo I have to get the turbo out, put the bike on the turbo, load up a program blah blah blah. No it means I’m not putting the time in on my bike but right now, building bike endurance is all that matters and that can happen anywhere. There will be time to build bike craft and work on technique later.
Tues – Rest Day 6:30am – “Just Moving” Recovery Session at CrossFit *Without 75Hard I would likely just do the dog walk and that would be but as I need that second workout I went to hang out with the early morning crew and did an easy (zone 1 max) session of 9 x 3 min Assault Bike, 2 Minutes mobility – holding static stretches for 1 minute or 1 min per side.
Weds 6:45am – Coach by Colour Indoor Cycle Class (as Coach) Coaching Indoor Cycle is a blast. It’s where I started my FitPro life. Coach by Colour is power based training using your FTP and power zones. Its now the only type of Indoor Cycle I will do as its meaningful and measurable. I run my classes on a 12 periodised program (which I created) with FTP testing every 13th week. Luckily, as its expected for the coach to be in with the participants I can actually use this session as a training session. Good coaches are not “paid to train”. That is the mantra of lazy, crap trainers. Coaches are paid to Coach and I believe one of the very few expectations to this rule is on the bike.
7:30am – 2 mile Brick Run As soon as the class is over me and one of my clients and friends, Gary, hit the road for a 2 mile blast. Nothing special, nothing fast, just a bit of a brick session to build endurance and ability. Plus, it gives us a chance to catch up, which is always nice!
Thur 6:30am – CrossFit Conditioning Class 2 x 20 Min EMOM 1: Down Ups, Air Squats, Row, Rest and 2: Ski, Alt Sit Ups/Plank, 600m Assault Bike, Rest
12:45pm – Pool Swim 10 x 100m repeats with 1 min rest. *This was my first session back in the pool since March 2020 and I was dreading it. I had to really force myself to go to the pool. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about. I have never been, nor will I ever be, a good swimmer but I get by and this session was a huge confidence builder.
6:30pm – Coach by Colour Indoor Cycle Class (as Coach) Back in the Cycle Studio for Class 2. Same session as Weds as I keep both classes on the same schedule. This week was Wk5 in the 12 wk program and that meant Power Pyramid. 3 Repeats of Hill Climb, Tabata Sprint, Rest. A brutal but effective session and a firm favourite amongst my squad.
Fri 12:30pm – CrossFit Class Benchmark WOD Nancy – 5 Rds of 400m Run, 15 Overhead Squat. I had to row this one as I have been dealing with a crazy foot injury that is finally healing. However, it not healed enough to allow me to run in my CF shoes, and I cannot OHS in my Running Shoes so rowing was the solution.
2:00pm – Conditioning AMRAP session with Head Coach Toby 9 Min AMRAP: 15 Burpee Box Step, 30 Lunge, 15 Power Clean and Push Jerk, 4 Min Rest 9 Min AMRAP: Ring Muscle Ups and Double Unders (no need to write the specific rep scheme!) *Every Friday I jump in with our Head Coach Toby on whatever he has programmed, purely so he has someone to train alongside. I call myself his “Anti Sandbagger” His coach Matt has a bit of an evil streak and some of these sessions are the worst I have ever encountered (but in that really good way). This one was waaayyyy spicer than I thought it would be. Fun though.
Sat 8:00am – CrossFit Class 3 Min Max Effort Row for Meters, 2 Min Rest 6 Min Build to Heavy 3 Thruster, 2 Min Rest 3 Min Max Effort for Meters, 2 Min Rest 10 Min AMRAP (partner WOD) 2, 4, 6, 8, etc Cal Row, Thruster, Burpee Over Bar *Saturdays are Partner WOD at our box and I am lucky to have landed on my feet with my regular training partner, Simon, another triathlete, who is this year again attempting the DECCA (thats 10 full 140.6 Triathlons in 10 days)
9:00am – 5 Mile Run Layer up, change shoes and Simon and I were out the door straight after class. My plan was to run 4 miles, he needed 5 so 5 it was. It was one of those beautiful runs where you felt you could run forever. Again, it wasn’t fast, the HR was a bit too high (thanks to that beast of a CF class – that isn’t a complaint, I bloody loved it) but it felt comfortable and we had a really good chat all the way round.
4:15pm – Yoga Practice via DownDog App I am not a yoga fan but I am trying to find some love for it. I had to add something else in today to meet the 75Hard requirements and a bit of yoga seemed like the sensible choice. This was my 2nd session and I liked it a bit more than my first – I guess thats something right. We are going in the right direction at least.
Sun 9:00am – Coach by Colour Indoor Cycle Class This time I was on the other side of the class and not coaching. In this weather I am not risking outdoor rides os decided to head to the gym and see my favourite Indoor Cycle Instructor – who also instructs Coach By Colour. Not being the one on the stage I didn’t have to think. I didn’t have to talk. I just had to ride so I whacked my FTP up by 10 watts to see how I’d get on and I held it ok. Will be keeping this up the next few weeks while the weather is questionable.
10:00am – 5 Mile Run Again, layer up, change shoes and straight out the door after class for a run. This time Lorraine met me. Its so nice having so many people around me, willing to jump in and train with me. Lorraine is another friend and client and she’s training for her first attempt at competitive OCR so was more than happy to work on her running.
5:00pm – Yoga Practice Again, as the first two sessions were back to back I needed a second session for 75Hard. Yoga practice was about all I was up for and again, I “enjoyed” it a little bit more BUT I cannot breathe that slowly. I guess all that comes with time… I find it ok for the first few minutes but then the voice on the app is saying “and breathe out” and I’ve taken 3 breaths! Is this normal? Do others struggle with this?
Now this years attempt depends on more than just Covid restrictions. In one of the weirdest injuries ever sustained (and Chris James was with me when it happened and those are his words!) I managed to screw my foot up running less than a mile on flat grass…I know!
X-Rays and Consultations took place and the official diagnosis was “Grumpy Foot” – this is actually the term used by my consultant. Damaged Ligaments and a foot that was basically “fucked off with the amount of work it had been doing” – yep, again, the actual phrase used at the hospital.
This means we approach the 6 month mark of training prep and I have run the longest distance of a mammoth 4 miles. Houston, we have a problem… or do we? Possibly not actually, I’m a stubborn bitch and love being up against it so realistically, Houston, lets fucking do this.
At this point in 2020 I had just completed my 5 marathons in 5 months, hit a comfortable distance of 1.5 miles in the pool and was damn comfortable working at power on a bike. Roll forward to now and I’ve run 4 miles, not swum since that last session in 2020 and my FTP is down over 25 watts, plus I haven’t been out on my bike since 2020 either. Lets face it, things aren’t looking great.
Before, I had the luxury of using this 6 months to play around. We all know I love CrossFit and was never going to quit CrossFit for any event.. however with such a solid base I could afford do a bit more of the non essential stuff and use some unconventional methods to get myself conditioned and race ready. *At this point I need to stress that for me “race ready” does not mean I am planning on actual racing. I have no interest in being “competitive” and race ready to me means being confident I can finish the event and enjoy the experience. Maybe I should say “participation ready” instead,
This time around I have even, for now, had to give up my 121 Coaching with my Coach, Kerry. This was decided during a meeting we had last week and I am now dead to her 🙁 This should make the CrossFit classes she coaches interesting when I’m in attendance. Will she just ignore me? Will my name even get put up on the board? I jest obviously (hopefully?!) as I need her, and as many positive supporters in my corner now more than ever. The haters are gonna hate, that will never change and thats fine – let them talk, that shit just adds fuel to my fire.
So why quit my coach? I just need that time to dedicate to the basics right now. It’s only an hour a week but when you examine the big picture that hour is needed for the pool. I am still not going to train in the most traditional way as it just isn’t for me and I am not your traditional triathlete. However, this time round it will look a little orthodox.
So training starts in earnest today and that means my weekly Training blog will be back so you can follow my progress, if that interests you, on my Ironman Training Blog
Today is Day 1 and the goal is to get from 0 to 140.6.
*As this was a Goggins event I thought I would use his suggestion in his book ‘Cant Hurt Me’ and file my challenge review as an AAR, After Action Review.
4x4x48 – After Action Report
Establish the Intent:
The 4x4x48 is a training tool that David Goggins (DG) has been using for however many years – I don’t know. I first heard about it while listening to Jessie Itzler’s book ‘Living with a Seal” as DG puts Jessie through it in the book.
Its a simple format: Run 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours. If you can’t run you do your chosen alternative activity for 45/60 mins instead.
It became an event that people took part in last year but because of work etc I didn’t even consider it. I first talked about doing it this year with my very good friend Chris James in January – as I knew he’d be up for it and probably already mentally signed up. I then sat down to discuss it with Carl, my husband, at the beginning of Feb (as he would have to take over dog walking duties etc, plus it would just be generally disruptive to his weekend) and once it was clear he was on board I was committed.
Up until the start of Lockdown 1 (23/03/21) my running was pretty ok. I was training for my IronMan and had been running a marathon or Ultra a month since September. I’m not a fast runner but I’m pretty good at staying the course and I’m a stubborn bitch so I will get the distance done. However, as soon as Lockdown hit I stopped running as I wore myself out doing so many online classes trying to keep my fitness business going. That has levelled out as this Covid situation has progressed but I hadn’t run more than 22 miles in any one month, with a couple months registering a big fat zero!
My intent for the event was simple… Align with David Goggins (he started at 8pm Friday, which meant 4am Saturday here) despite it being a pig time wise and finish It. And finish it injury free, with minimum recovery required. I had no pacing goals. Speed, Cadence, Pace etc were not my concern. The aim is to run each lap as a zone 2 run to minimise stress.
Outline the Performance
I met my goal and completed every one of the 12 runs. I stuck to the timing schedule and completed the event as prescribed. Run times ranged from 44min18 to 52min56. I achieved the goal of maintaining a zone 2 HR as much as possible. There were instances of walking to either get out of zone 3, or just because I needed to walk. Again, pace was not part of my game plan so this was not an issue.
Report on the Learning
Positives/ What went well
I met the objective. I completed the challenge and am injury free. Recovery is looking good so far, 16 hours post event finish.
I ran every lap on my own, testing my true mental grit. I wanted to see what happens when its just me. No eyes on me, no one to cajole me alone, no one to cheer me on. I realised that all the things I say in relation to mindset, grit etc are really true. I don’t just talk the talk, I do actually walk the walk.I am proud of myself for this.
While I ran every lap on my own I did have the best pit crew at home. Carl made it so that I didn’t have to think about anything other than running and what to do during the down time. He had coffee, tea, baths waiting as required and made everything that little bit easier.
Forming a team with my 3 fellow badasses was a great idea. We quickly became Team NBR, No Bling Required – which sums up our ethos quite well. We were not together physically but supported each other via our WhatsApp group. The pre run check ins and check outs reminded me I was part of something bigger than just my efforts. Although it was a solo mission, we were still there for each other as all good team people are.
Changing up the route where possible (i.e. during daylight hours) helped break the monotony. (It still got boring though)
Finding two different 1 mile loops that started at my house made me feel safer during night ops, but also gave me at least a little bit of choice.
Kit choices were smart. I have done enough other events to know how to dress for running in all weathers I am fully aware that you need to stay warm and that, once you get cold, it is too late. In the cold icy nights, layers are your friend. I also had the right clothing for running in the dead of night plus a second head torch and spare batteries.
Creating an event schedule that tracked the run times, plus essential warm up timings, hydration requirements and carb/protein intakes ensured I didn’t miss anything key, meaning I enhanced my goal of finishing injury free and minimising my recovery time.
Forming an UK event facebook group (Goggins 4x4x48 Challenge UK (Unofficial) https://www.facebook.com/groups/230741878545765 with Chris, which grew quicker than either of us expected, gave us a sense of community and allowed us to connect with other people who actually get shit done, rather than just talk about it. These are the people I want to know and hopefully even learn from.
Deciding to add a fundraising element, as a team, meant that we got to put something good out in to the world. No member of the team usually does any of the events we do (Obstacle Courses, Marathons/Ultras, Triathlons, Sportive’s etc) We do them purely to test ourselves, or just to have fun with our friends in the mud. We are always asked “oh, why are you doing that? Is it for charity?” so we decided to add that element to this challenge. Not because we needed it, but just because we figured that, even if we raise only a few £££, that has to be a good thing. We all know people that have been effected by this past year so chose Mind, the Mental Health Charity as our benefactor. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/liza-chris-pete-4x4x48
Negatives/What went wrong
The week of the event was planned as a Taper week but I got taken down ill on the Monday with a fever and spent the next 3 days in bed unable to work or really even move. I went for a Covid test Wednesday morning but luckily that came back negative. It was left as a down to the wire decision as to whether I would participate or not.
Lack of run training. Having decided for sure a month before the event that I would definitely take part, I ramped up my run training. I broke every rule in the book about how to increase volume etc and my lack of talent as an endurance athlete showed itself after the first 24 hours. Luckily talent was not required as I had the mental grit to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. Coming from a CrossFit background helped the lack of run training not become an issue as my general fitness carried me through.
Felt nauseous on both 8pm runs. I have examined my food diary and the break between the 4pm and 8pm run is when I ate most solid food. It is clear I have not yet built up the endurance athletes ability to consume food… and I def should not have had that extra pizza slice on the Saturday!
Finding a way to make the 3 hours pass in between runs, once you have stretched, foam rolled etc gets tough, especially the 9pm to midnight gap!
Inability to sleep. A lot of people in the group were talking about getting their heads down in between runs, and some saying the key to success was sleep gaps. I managed a grand total of 4 and a half hours sleep from 3am Saturday to 1:30am Monday. This isn’t a massive downer for me as I am able to function on little sleep, if and when required – as long as this isn’t too often. This is because I abide by the main rules all year round – get 8 hours sleep, hydrate like its your job and fuel your body for what you want it to do. Getting these basics right massively improves your chances of success, in all situations.
Provide a Future Outlook
If participating in this event again next year the only real thing I will do differently is ensure that my running is on point way in advance of the event. Now that I have completed it relatively stress free I would take it to the next level, increase the difficulty and the obvious way to do this would be to push the pace and set myself specific targets for each run.
I enjoyed the event the way I did it, for me the challenge was definitely more physical than mental. At no point did I question whether to get moving, ready for the next run… I did have a small negative moment after the penultimate run (8pm) as midnight seemed so far away and I just wanted to go out and get it over with. Having to hang out and wait for 3 hours began to annoy me, a lot!
Knowing that I can mentally handle it the way I did it I would push the envelope and see if I can hold on to that if I make it tougher. I saw the DG changed it up although I only saw his 11th leg, where ehe did 45 minutes of Jumping Jacks… maybe this is an idea to play with. There are many options, IF, I decide to do it again.
Hopefully, if I do do it again, these crazies will be right there with me… maybe even in person if the world sorts itself out.
The response to that interview has been big and a lot of you have positively responded to it, telling me that changing the way you think about it, and even just renaming it, has allowed you to build a better relationship with the rest day.
However, I know there are some of you that are either still not convinced, or still struggling to get your brain to get on board. You know its a good thing to do but still, that little voice inside your head is telling you to stop being lazy, get up, get out etc etc.
I decided to reach out to another one of the people inside my village to look at it from a slightly different angle. I asked my friend and Sports Therapist, and owner of LP Sports Massage, to give me her thoughts.
Here’s what she had to say:
First off Louise, have you ever struggled with taking rest days or have you always embraced them?
I have actually always tried to have at least one day but definitely when I was new to the gym I would try and do a fitness class or my own hit session pretty much every day and it also became a routine. Its only now that I see the benefit of giving my body time to recover so I altered my routine and aim to have rest days on a Thursday and Sunday to split my week out. I try and listen to my body though and if I need to move a rest day around because I am feeling fatigued and aching I will, so I can hit my session hard the following day and get the most out of it.
If you struggled, why do you think that was?
Probably the fear of missing out on a workout because I enjoyed Group Exercise classes (pre CrossFit love). And I thought, initially before getting better educated about nutrition and the big part is has to play, that training every day was the way to get fit and lose weight.
Demi now thinks of them as Grow days, as these days off help her ‘grow her muscles’. For those that are still struggling with this idea… without getting too technical, can you break this down a little more?
Your muscles store carbs in the form of Glycogen which are used during exercises. Rest allows you to replenish these stores before your next bout of exercise. When they are depleted and the stores aren’t replaced you experience muscle fatigue and soreness know as DOMS.
Muscles also need rest to repair the microscopic tears that exercise causes, to help make them get stronger and also fight through plateaus in training. The rest days are actually when this magic happens!
If you try and workout whilst fatigued even the most basic movements feel hard work and your technique falls down. If you can’t do the basics then you definitely shouldn’t be pushing your body to add weights to the mix.
I talk to my clients all the time about the dangers of overtraining. The two big ones being 1) your performance will start to plateau or even worse, decline and 2) you’ll damage yourself!
Do you see a lot of injuries caused by people not taking enough recovery?
Yes!! The most common injuries I see are overuse – where people increase their volume too quickly and they haven’t been used to that amount of training, or they are just not resting enough/at all and letting their bodies recover.
In simple terms fatigued muscles make you susceptible to injuries.
For example fatigued Triceps from loads of push ups can cause strain on the joint (the elbow) as that aims to help take the load from the muscles that are struggling to still perform the movement. But this can result in inflammation within the joint, potentially causing a pinched nerve so tingling down the arm or reduced range of motion in your elbow. This consequently has a knock on effect on your training. You see where I am going…
Also tightness from not stretching post workout or a build up of knots (build up of muscle tissue) can restrict blood flow and oxygen to your muscles- basically depriving muscles from working at their full potential. If niggles or tightness are ignored the little issues get worse causing more problems or referred pain, and potentially bigger injuries so you end up being out of training longer anyway.
Anything specific people can do on their grow days to aid their recovery?
Making sure you keep up your water and protein intake. – protein for grown and repair of your muscles – water because it is a key nutrient in the makeup of the synovial fluid, which helps lubricate your joints and allows for ease of movement. Also it helps to reduce muscle cramping and can make you more alert and have more energy for workouts.
If you sit at a desk all day or even sit on the sofa a lot try to just get your body moving not vigorous exercise but more a gentle walk, utilising any free time to really stretch out your hips, shoulders and lower back especially. You’d be surprised how stiff these areas can get from sitting in the same position for approx. 8 hours a day. This will all help make the basic patterns easier anyway and you will soon notice the difference.
Thinking more in general – how often should someone stretch and can you stretch too much?
Doing 5-10 mins every day is great for improving flexibility and can alleviate tight muscles, but being realistic it is unlikely people would stick to that. A couple of times a week would be beneficial and probably more likely to stick to. So maybe instead of sitting on the sofa all evening you could do a bit of stretching on the floor whilst watching your programme on tv? Or focusing on doing longer stretching sessions on your rest days, whatever works best for you.
Using an app such as GOWOD can be a great tool as it can be tailored to your weaknesses and give you great stretches if you don’t know what to do for all different areas of the body.
Whats your best piece of advice for all us regular people who are just working hard to become better?
Enjoy the process, don’t push yourself so much you burn out physically and mentally you will soon see it isn’t sustainable powering through muscle pains and training exhausted!
Enjoy those days off training because you’ll appreciate how much harder you can hit your sessions after them and start seeing your performance in training improve and even hitting PBs which of course everyone gets excited about!
You can find out more about LP Sports Massage by following Louise on Social Media: Facebook: LP Sports Massage Service Instagram: lp_sportsmassagetherapy
Rest Days. For anyone that really cares about their performance they are as important as Training Days… so why do so many people struggle with them?
I’m one of the lucky ones as I have never really struggled with taking my rest days.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been involved in various sports from a young age, maybe it’s because I work within the fitness industry and all my training has taught me well, or maybe I’m just a little bit lazy and just like the idea of taking a day off (this last one is only true once about every 4 months just FYI!)
As I say, I’m one of the lucky ones as I know that many of my clients, class members and training friends at CrossFit Iron Duke struggle with whole concept of taking a day off from training.
I’ve asked a few of them what the issue is and the things I get told range from “I can’t face taking a day off and hampering my progress” to “I need to exercise every day”
These are not good reasons not to take your rest days and actually there is no good reason not to take your rest days. It has been proven over and over again that rest days are as essential to your progress as the training you do.
My Nutrition Coach (Owner of Deep Health Nutrition) and fellow CrossFitter, Demi Stephens recently wrote a post on Instagram about her ‘Grow Day’ and I instantly loved the concept. I could see that this different way of thinking might help other people so I decided to ask her a little more about it.
Here’s what she had to say…
How long did you struggle with the concept of the Rest Day?
Probably ever since I first really got into the gym and training… so it was probably about 10 years!
I am definitely someone that has over-trained in the past.
Why was that?
I used to think that I was ‘missing out’ on a workout, or that I needed to train every day to get fitter and stronger.
If my muscles weren’t hurting then what was I resting for? I didn’t realise that my overtraining was working against me and I just wasn’t given my body a chance to catch up with itself.
Even though I was pretty much injured all the time, I still trained. I couldn’t see that my lack of recovery was probably responsible.
You now call them ‘Grow Days’… how did this come about?
This actually evolved from a conversation with my Coach at CrossFit Iron Duke – Toby Cooley – a couple of years ago. He would programme me specific ‘rest days’ and more often than not (if I actually had one) the rest day would end up being a mentally low day too.
So back in March 2019 the idea of referring to them as a “Grow Day” was born … and the idea that when I am “growing” the magic is happening!
How does this change of name help you?
It took a bit of time but it shifted how I viewed the day, I wasn’t missing out. instead I was literally ‘growing my muscles’. So it began to feel like I was accomplishing something and working towards my goals.
Grow days then became a thing… If I had a day away from the gym due to work or to study, it was still ‘a grow day’.
If I couldn’t make it to the gym due to a niggle or an injury, it was just another grow day.
With your Nutrition Coach hat on, is there anything else you think is important to understand?
I honestly didn’t realise just how much recovery was part of the process.
If I could go back in time and have a word with my 30-something self I would!
Recovery is SO important.
Simply put, exercise = a stressor.
So even though we often use exercise to relieve our stresses, it also puts our body under physical stress.
All those body systems that we simply don’t see and take for granted have to work a little bit harder to restore a happy balance.
If you think of yourself as your mobile phone, once that battery starts getting nearer 0% and that red line appears you know you’re going to need to give it a full charge to get it working again.
Well that IS your body.
You know that feeling when you can’t perform the way you are used to, weights feel heavy, you feel achy, tired, moody and generally ‘meh’… this is your internal systems trying to get your attention as they are starting to struggle.
If you don’t give yourself a chance to recharge that battery (recover) then your body will end up deciding for you and force you to stop – usually with an illness or an injury.
Can you use your nutrition to enhance the effectiveness of your “Grow Day’?
There is that saying “muscles are torn in the gym and fed in the kitchen”. Well this is just as important on a ‘grow day’.
I make sure I hit my protein targets – so that my muscles can repair themselves.
I keep my water intake up – so that I remain hydrated.
I make sure I eat my carbs – so my glycogen levels are restored.
My body needs “feeding” so it can recover, repair and refuel itself so I can smash my next workout!
Do you ever still struggle to take the day off?
I actually now look forward to a ‘grow day’ and I treat myself to 2 a week!
I am still active on these days and will usually go for a nice walk to keep my body moving, but I see it as a day to give my muscles some TLC so that I am ready for the next day.
Demi Stephens owns Deep Health Nutrition. You can follow her on instagram (deephealthnutrition) and Facebook (Deep Health Nutrition)
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is everywhere. Gyms run HIIT classes, people can download a HIIT timer on to their phone… it’s a really popular way of training due to its efficiency and effectiveness but unfortunately the more popular it’s gotten, the less it actually looks like an actual HIIT workout.
There seems to be a common thought process which is ” wow, 5 minutes of that was great… so 10 must be even better… and if I can do 10 then lets go for 20!” This is usually followed with “I don’t need 30 secs rest, I can cut that to 20, actually who needs rest, I’ll cut it to 10 seconds” To get a true and effective HIIT session, this is the opposite of what you want to do. Constantly adding more work doesn’t make the workout better… in truth it is probably destroying your chance of achieving the desired outcome and effect of the session.
What I want to do in this blog is give you a little more detail and understanding so that if and when you do a HIIT session, it really counts.
Lets start with the fundamental, the Why; Why is HIIT so effective?
As I said up top, the name of the game is efficiency. You can see great results in less time using High Intensity… if it’s done right.
Good HIIT programming does everything it can to maintain the intensity. If you lose the intensity then all you have is a shorter workout and that just wont get you where you want to be. The point of HIIT is to gain all the fat burning, muscle building, cardiovascular benefits that come from longer workouts in a shorter space of time. Essentially you need to go hard, rest and repeat.
The amount of work versus rest depends on your goal. If your goal is purely cardio/aerobic then longer bursts of effort with shorter amounts of rest are fine. However, if you want to throw some strength gains in their too then you will have to change it up as when you work out for too long, with not enough rest the intensity drops quickly.
So, now you get why it works, lets look at the How; How should you design a HIIT session?
As you can see long HIIT sessions with short rest periods will likely lead to a drop in intensity. The other issue is burnout. Trying to work at that pace and level consistently will just leave you feeling drained.
So, a good starting point for designing a HIIT is to look at the rest time. If you insist on having shorter rest times, you need to also have shorter workouts. Remember, the goal is to maximise intensity (so that you can maximise your results)
A common and effective HIIT timing is 20 secs work, 40 secs rest. Now to a lot of people reading this, this is going to seem backwards as they would have been expecting 40 secs work, 20 secs rest but I wrote it the right way round, trust me.
If you stick to a static work/rest timing for your workout then understand that in the latter rounds you will likely experience some drop off in intensity as you become fatigued.
A great way to program HIIT is to increase the rest as the rounds progress so that you can maintain the same level of output for the whole workout i.e. 20 secs work, 40 secs rest. 30 secs work, 60 secs rest. 40 secs work, 120 secs rest. The idea is that you rest just enough to recover, while being able to maintain maximum output each set and/or round.
As for how long the total session should be, well, that will vary from person to person. You should stop your HIIT session at the point where you notice your intensity dropping. Ideally you should start with a shorter session, to try and avoid the drop off, and as you improve you can increase the length of your session.
Ok, so now we have a how, we need the What: What exercises should be used in a HIIT session?
As has been said many times, the output is High Intensity so the exercises you chose must be ones that can be performed in that way.
The cardio choices are quite straightforward. You could use a stationary bike or elliptical for example and just go hard during the work periods.
Other good cardio choices are Sprinting, Rowing, Skipping, Ski Erg and the dreaded Assault Bike (other bikes are also good but I do love to hate the Assault Bike).
Strength is a little more complex as the weight needs to either be that you can lift it quickly and be explosive or that you can only do maybe 6 to 8 reps (depending on the movement and your timeframe). People often don’t think of strength work as intense but anyone that has done heavy Deadlifts or fast Power Cleans will understand.
Some of my favourite HIIT choices are Kettlebell Swing, Deadlift, Dumbbell Snatch, Slamball, Battleropes and Power Bag Burpees.
And now as we have got our What, we need the final piece of the puzzle, the When; When should I do a HIIT session.
Given the demands on the body you shouldn’t do a HIIT session more than 3 times a week and just as you should build up the length of the session you should also build up the amount of sessions you do.
Start with one session. Do it well and do it right. After a couple of weeks, add in a second session if you feel like you want to. After another couple of weeks add in a third and stop there!
Just as intensity can drop during a long session, trying to do too much too often will have the same negative effect on your sessions, and therefore your results.
Is your fitness suffering thanks to overtraining ?
One of the things we have likely all seen a lot of during this lockdown period is unqualified Fitness Influencers (seriously, someone still needs to explain what this even is!) and even in some cases PT’s and fitness brands setting up crazy bodyweight challenges as a way to “help” people maintain their fitness during lockdown.
Think being challenged to do 100 squats, then add 100 push ups, oh and 100 lunges and hey, why not, do 100 burpees while you’re there… and lets do that every day for 7/14/30 days!
So, maybe you are thinking that sounds banging, its hardcore, Yeah! push the limits!… and you’d be right, IF you did that workout maybe twice a month, although that could still be deemed excessive, depending on your current fitness level.
Indeed, one of my favourite workouts is one of the CrossFit Girls – Angie; ‘For Time 100 Pull Ups, 100 Push Ups, 100 Sit Ups and 100 Air Squats’ However, as much as I love it, it’s a workout I will likely do 3 times a year, at the most! In fact I think I’ve done it twice in the last two years. There is a value to doing high rep work but doing so often is just counter productive and probably a waste of your time.
Personally, I am huge fan of the minimal dose response, which basically means achieving the desired result with the minimum amount of work required. Do you really need to do 100 squats for 7 days? I’m going to guess that the answer is no! Its a pretty safe bet you can get where you want to go with a smarter approach.
You have to ask the question “why I am doing this?” “what is it achieving?” and if you don’t know and the person setting the challenge cannot give you a good explanation beyond “Do it! “Go Hard or Go Home’ then do you know what… don’t do it!
These are the main issues to consider:
Form Can the average gym goer actually maintain proper alignment and form for 100 reps? Take the squat as one example… Let’s be frank, there are a fair few videos circulating showing people doing these types of challenges and squatting with poor form. Now, I know not everyone has the hip or ankle mobility to be able to squat to or below parallel but a good majority of people don’t even know that this is the standard to aim for. We see shallow depth, knees pushed in front of toes, chests falling forward and hunched shoulders to name but a few issues. Whats the point of doing 100 reps when the first rep isn’t good? Quality over quantity at all times and if you know you cannot squat to parallel with good form then put the work in on your mobility to fix the issue. This would be a much better use of your time! Same goes for every other movement.
Injury Risk Let’s just take a second to consider the injury risks for the volume of repetitive work, especially when repeated over multiple days. The possible shoulder, knee or hip problems that might arise are plentiful so why would you take the risk. So many people are willing to push through workouts suffering from aches and pains and I never understand why. I constantly have to talk to class members about long term success over short term gain.
Overtraining – Volume and Intensity Simply put overtraining occurs when you the work you put in exceeds the bodies ability to recover. So, doing the same movement pattern over and over again, and then again, and then again will not allow the muscle groups involved to recover. When the muscles aren’t allowed to recover, they can’t perform properly so the end result is a drop in output. There is a huge difference between overloading and overtraining. When done right and applied properly, the overload principle will yield brilliant results. Maybe some of these people plan these excessive workouts thinking that they will achieve overload but unfortunately not! They have tipped over into over training.
Overtraining – Duration Some say over training, some say under recovery. Both amount to the same thing and both are correct. As well as programming excessive amounts of reps and high volume work, the other way to over train the body is by skipping rest days. Often these challenges are set with “Hey, lets do this every day for a month!” Yeah, great, let me know how that works out for you in the end! Why is it seen as hardcore to say screw it to the rest day? Anyone with this attitude clearly doesn’t understand how to programme fitness effectively.. if this is your coach, please… walk away now! The body needs recovery time. It’s as simple as that. Without recovery not much will happen in terms of progress. It often feels like rest is a dirty word. How often have I heard “it’s ok, I’ll rest when I’m dead”! OK then. But why not send your time alive actually making positive adaptations and seeing progress rather than just wearing your body and mind into the ground. Yes, to see change you need to force an adaptation. You need to stress the body and trigger it to adjust to the new stimulus. Just not all the time!
There are so many negative effects related to overtraining aside from the injury risk and drop in performance and ability. Maybe you aren’t actually injured but it is likely you will suffer from increased inflammation. It can also affect your amount and quality of sleep.
Ask yourself.. is it worth it?
Train smart, rest well and achieve something truly bad ass!
No! I hear you cry indignantly… and maybe thats the truth but something I see all the time is people sabotaging their chances of success and the reason boils down to ego.
Ok, what do I mean…
You know that person in your fitness class or on the gym floor that always puts a bit too much weight on the bar and then lifts with poor form meaning they are doing more harm than good? Ego.
How about that one person that always goes out way too fast on a run and gets overtaken by those that took it slow and steady? Ego
What about that person who is always saying “oh I would’ve/could’ve done x/y/z but unfortunately I got injured/felt a niggle/ had a stomach issue/it was too hot/too cold? One time, ok, it’s probably genuine but that person who always seems to come armed with excuses? Ego.
If you cannot recognise yourself if these examples I’m betting you can recognise someone you know. And, maybe if you are honest with yourself, you can probably think of at least one time when you have let your ego get the better of you and your training session or event has been crap because of it.
Hell, we’ve all done it. Maybe you loaded the bar a bit too heavy and then skipped a couple of reps every round as your workout is taking way longer than everyone else’s. Maybe you stepped outside to do your run, realised it was really hot but didn’t adjust your pace and burned yourself out.
If we all do a little bit of critical (and honest) analysis, we can probably all identify one time when we let our ego get the better of us and it came back to bite us in the ass.
This week, the worldwide CrossFit community took on one of the most famous Hero Workouts in the world, Murph. It’s a gruelling suckfest of a 1 mile run, 100 Pull Ups, 200 Push Ups and 300 Squats, plus another 1 mile run… oh, and you do it in a weight vest.
I saw so many posts and had so many people comment on my social things like” oh I wish I could but I can’t even do one pull up so I’m out” or “oh it would be amazing to be able to do this but I can’t :0(”
I would point out that there are many, many scaling options (especially this year as more versions of Murph were released to accommodate those without equipment and those that hadn’t been near their gym in 10 weeks). The responses were upsetting! Along the lines of ‘oh scaling is cheating, either do it or don’t do it!’
Now, at this point I would like to make sure you know, I scaled Murph. I always scale Murph. I don’t have a choice as guess what, I can’t do 100 pull ups! I split that fucker down into 20 rounds of 5 Ring Rows (for the pull ups) 10 Push Ups (to a 12″ box as I prefer to do a full push up on an incline, than do them on my knees and I can’t do 200 good push ups on my toes) and 15 Squats.
The point of Murph, and any workout, is not to be exclusive. The point is to challenge yourself to do something tough, something unpleasant and prove to yourself that you are a true bad ass because you finished it.
It shouldn’t be easy and if you’ve adapted it to the point where it’s easy and you’re posting ‘Hey, Murph smashed sub 30 mins, Boom!” (yep, I saw many of these) You missed the point and do you know why? Yep, you guessed it… Ego!
But this is the other way ego can hold you back… you make excuses to not do stuff, or you only do the stuff you know you can do, because really, you are too afraid to try.
It’s pretty obvious that doing something is better than doing nothing and honestly, what is the worst that can happen? You’re a little slower than others you know? You lose your shit mid workout and throw something across the gym (this one is based on personal experience!)? You cry? You scream? You even quit maybe? So what! I truly believe we learn way more in the bad times and in the mistakes than we do when everything is good.
I am the first one to celebrate the wins with my clients whether they are achieving a new pb, learning to take rest days, dropping fat and inches, or fitting into old clothes but I will spend more time talking about the bad times as thats where the big lessons are.
I have this one mantra when it comes to my own training: No one cares. Work harder. Now I know that of course Kerry, my coach, and Toby, Head Coach at my gym, absolutely care about my progress but this mantra just sums up the required absence of ego.
Focus on the lessons. Stop holding yourself back. Unleash your inner bad ass.
OK, so this post might upset a few people but I really think it needs to be said and I’m going to be the one to say it.
Let’s talk about chasing that feeling… the burn, the agonising soreness. Has anyone ever said to you, or maybe you’ve said it yourself, “that must have been a great workout, I hurt so much!”
Any workout can be curated to make you feel burnt out, sore and sweaty but not every workout will actually be curated to make you better.
Here’s a hard truth people. You don’t need to destroy yourself in the gym. You don’t need to feel dead inside and out every workout. You don’t need to torture and punish yourself to get results. Brutal/long/crazy doesn’t mean better. Only better means better.
Walking away from your session tired, beaten up, sore and sweaty doesn’t automatically mean your workout was better or more effective. It does mean you are tired, beaten up sore and sweaty… but maybe thats it.
You might be working your butt off and not getting results. If this sounds like you then its time to rework the problem and sort out a new plan.
Because here’s the thing. It doesn’t take a great coach to program a class or workout that will burn you out. It sometimes feels like some coaches on the gym floor are constantly trying to outdo each other with how “hard” they can make a class or a workout. But, it’s easy to make a class hard and have participants leave feeling like they left their soul behind… but what did it actually achieve? I’d bet that if I asked for someone to put together a class that will make everyone exhausted and sore, most of you reading this could do that.
So here is the second thing. It does take a great coach to produce meaningful outcomes with their classes and programmes. A great coach knows what is required to get those real, visible, tangible results.
Let’s not get it twisted though. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t hard work and that it isn’t going to completely suck at times. It is and it will.
Outside your comfort zone is where the magic happens. You will have to find a way of turning off that limiter in your brain – that little switch that holds you back and convinces you are done, when actually you are just 40% done.
Real results take real work but you have to be smart about it. You need to understand what you are actually trying to achieve and figure out what you actually need to do to get where you want to go. Figure out the goal.
So right now you might be like “but Liza, I’m not training to achieve something specific. I don’t want to run a marathon/half marathon/obstacle race/triathlon/whatever.
Maybe you just want to be able to run around the garden and keep up with the kids and be able to pick up the youngest without worrying about your back.. OK, so actually in fitness terms what you want is to improve you cardiovascular fitness, your overall strength and have a strong posterior chain. Guess what, thats a fitness goal. Now you know what you need figure out how to get there but remember…
Body Comp Stats My weigh in is on a Sunday morning at the end of each week and as we were out the door at 6am on Sunday for an Ultra race I didn’t weigh in!
Mon: 12:15pm 6 Hour Hell Session
Last Monday of each month between now and the IronMan is Hell Session Day 🙂 Workout 1: 6 rounds of 30 cal Ski Erg and 15 Double 10kg DB Front Squats. Rest 1:1. Workout 2: Accumulate 5 Minute Wall Sit (total time to achieve = 7:26) Workout 3: Accumulate 10 Minute in Dead/Active Hang off rig (I broke this into 2 sessions doing the last 4 minutes after workout 5). Attacked this Tabata style hanging for 20 secs, dropping for 10 secs and repeating. Workout 4: Build to a heavy set of 5 Deadlifts and then 5 x 5 @ 80% – this one was cut short as my back wasn’t playing. At 45kg I could feel my back pulling despite good technique so not worth pushing through. Workout 5: 8 Rounds of approx 1km run loop and 15 squats… in my weight vest! This one was done in the pouring rain and one of my favourite workouts as I love running in the rain. That doesn’t mean it was easy, I just really liked it.
Workout 6: 3k Assault Bike + 50 Bar Facing Burpee 6k Assault Bike + 40 Bar Facing Burpee 9k Assault Bike + 30 Bar Facing Burpee 12k Assault Bike + 20 Bar Facing Burpee 15k Assault Bike + 10 Bar Facing Burpee Total time = 1:50:35 This workout was the worst thing my coach, Kerry, has ever programmed for me. I told her as much and she looked very pleased with herself. Maybe if I had done it first it would not have been so bad and pretty much after finishing it I was considering when I would do it again to test that theory!
Tue: Rest Day
Wed: 6:45am Indoor Cycle Class + 2 mile run
Same as usual, coach a 45 min cycle class and head out the door for a run. Not much more to say really 🙂
Wed: 1pm Pull Up and Push Up work
Again, with my friend Amy we worked through 5 as slow as possible Negative Pull Ups, a 10 minute Pull Up EMOM of 3 strict banded reps and a 10 minute Push Up EMOM.
Thu: 9:30 Indoor Cycle Class
Week 5 of my programme sees the return of the Power Pyramid, the first indoor cycle session I ever created and 5 years later it still forms an integral part of the periodised programme. It is a brilliant session for increasing both aerobic and anaerobic fitness and improving recovery. Who doesn’t want that.
Thu: 6:30 Coach by Colour Indoor Cycle Class
Power Pyramid take 2… oh my god I nearly died on the final round but the Coach By Colour system is a great motivator, especially when you are up on a platform with the entire class able to see if you turn down, slow down or give up.
Fri: Rest Day
Another extra rest day this week in preparation for the South Coast 50 on Sunday… a 50km+ ultra race.
Sat: Rest Day
Sun: 8am South Coast 50 Race
5 repping the Forza Fitness Squad today 🙂 It was quite simple… start is on the pier in Littlehampton and, via a self directed route with check points/aid stations roughly every 7 miles, run 33 miles back to Portchester Castle. I had a really lovely day on this run. Unfortunately the boy (My husband, Carl) voluntarily withdrew at mile 23 in Emsworth, but still hit his longest run distance to date so went home happy.
As you can probably tell from these training logs I don’t actually do what most would call traditional training runs, partly because I find them quite boring but mainly because of the way I train I don’t feel the need. I don’t care enough about pace and times to give up my other training (or time at home with the boy and the dog) to hit the pavement. I run for enjoyment enjoy. I can comfortably run decent distances and thats enough for me. I get asked quite a lot about why (and how) I rock up to these endurance events without properly training for them and my answer is that I do train for them, just not how most people expect. If I was more competitive, or cared more, or wanted to focus just on running, I could probably become a much better runner but honestly, who cares. I definitely don’t. In a year, a month, or even a years time will it matter how fast I ran this race? No it won’t, What I will remember is having a brilliant day out with my husband and my friend Claire, who, until this race I hadn’t spent any one on one time with and now know much better.. I am very grateful for this and means more to me than a time.
I’ve had more than a few people ask me why I do CrossFit. I’m not sure if they mean in general, or because I’m a coach with my own fitness brand that isn’t CrossFit. But anyway, I thought I would give the question my full attention and explain why CrossFit.
I grew with the Portsmouth Joggers running club as my mum and dad were very active members and as such many a weekend was spent at this race or that event. There was invariably a kids race at many of these and I would participate in every one that I could. I also spent my summers at Squash Camp, did Rhythmic Gymnastics, played tennis and was a very sporty kid. It faded during my late teens and twenties as I discovered gigs, clubs, music festivals and it’s safe to say that although I was healthy during this time I wasn’t “into” fitness, unless it was dancing from 10pm to 6am! I had various gym memberships but it wasn’t an important factor in my life.
I met Carl, my husband in 2008 just after I turned 30 and quickly moved in with him in Havant. One of the first things we did was join a gym together. It was just a local globo gym but we made it a regular thing and ventured to some classes together and enjoyed it. It often solved the question… “what do you want to do?”
I started running again in 2012 after our first trip to the Gambia as I wanted to do some fundraising for a local project out there. I was competing in a 10k/10mile or half marathon race at least once a month and starting to enjoy it but I wasn’t really improving. I then got the dreaded ITB injury and that was me out until 2014.
In 2014 I was reading an article in Runners World about a guy who was stuck at a marathon time and just couldn’t improve. He was asked to do CrossFit for 6 months to see if it could help. In that 6 months he did CrossFit and ran less than half the amount of miles he would normally run while marathon training and bam! new marathon PB was achieved.
After reading this, myself and another running friend of mine rocked up to CrossFit Fareham to see what all the fuss was about. At the time I only managed 2 months as I couldn’t afford to keep it up but I could already see that there was something in it so followed Crossfit main site and adapted my gym workouts to be a little more in line with the CrossFit methodology.
In 2017, after avidly watching the Crossfit Open, Regionals and Games together for 4 years, I managed to finally convince Carl to give it a go with me. I nervously called CrossFit Iron Duke to book our taster session and neither of us have looked back. Yes, we have had to re-evaluate our finances slightly and make a couple of sacrifices but that’s ok because this is a priority for us. People pay more to go to David Lloyd than we do to go to CrossFit and no blinks an eye about that!
The combination of Cardio, Olympic Lifting, Weights and Gymnastics means not even once have I been bored in a Crossfit class, not once in 2 years. We are coached more directly and held to a higher standard than you will find in any regular gym. We can never get away with a less than below parallel squat (unless you have a genuine mobility issue), full overhead lockout with the bar or chest and thighs to floor for both burpees and push ups.
I am fitter, faster and stronger than I have ever been. I smashed over 4 minutes off my parkrun PB in 6 months without actual run training. My mobility and posture are much improved and besides all that, you have no idea how supportive, fun and amazing the CrossFit community is. It isn’t like a normal gym in any way shape or form and until you are part of it you just can’t understand it. Anyone that tells you it is a glorified and over priced circuits class either likely never stepped foot inside a CrossFit Gym.
The other big plus for me is that it is where I go to grow, learn and be held accountable. I have blended the methodology behind CrossFit into my own training and the way I train my clients and trust me, it works. Having a coach help to develop me means I am more able to develop and help my clients.
Lastly, I spend most of time programming workouts, writing training plans and planning classes for other people. The last thing I want to do is do that for myself. Don’t get this confused though… of course I can do it but I don’t want to. All this however, is touching on another future blog post so I will leave this for now!
* I am not including the classes I coach in this training log (apart from my indoor cycle classes) but for reference I also coach 2 Insanity, 2 Boxercise, 1 LBT, 1 Core Strength and 1 Tabata class a week between Tuesday and Friday.
After the back spasm last Wednesday this week was all about protecting myself ready for my run race on Sunday. It was already planned as a de-load week so with the back issue as well things were pretty quiet.
Mon: 12:15pm Total Body Conditioning
As always. Mon is Row, Bike, Ski. The twist this week was that it was to be sprint efforts. 36 minutes of work, 4 minutes spent on each machine at a time varying the sprint time. This is a session I will revisit as it was a little bit wasted on me this week given that I couldn’t give it my all.
Mon: 6:30pm Physio with Louise
First session with the wonderful Louise. Bless her for being available at short notice. I’d gotten into the habit of having semi regular appointments with my sports therapist but for one reason or another I got out of the habit. This last week has taught me that this is something I cannot overlook. One hour of pretty intense therapy on my back, glutes and hamstrings and my mind is finally at ease knowing that there is nothing serious wrong. The diagnosis; extremely tight hamstrings and glutes so even more stretching required. I’m not sure how much more I can do but OK!
Tue: Rest Day
I wouldn’t normally rest on the Tuesday of a race week but given I only had physio last night and coached Insanity in the morning rest was the only sensible option.
Wed: 12:15pm Total Body Conditioning
After a chat with Kerry, forever looking out for me and putting out the sensible suggestions it was agreed I would forego PT this week, so as not to risk anything post physio and pre race, and just come in for some modified conditioning. I started with a 10 min consistent Row and then moved between intervals on the Assault Bike and various mobility stretches.
Wed: 6:45am Indoor Cycle Class
Week 7 of the programme and it’s Climbing week. Exactly as it sounds, 40 minutes of a variety of hills, presented in different ways. One of my favourite weeks as I am all about the climbing and not as strong with the speed stuff.
Wed: 1:15pm Week 1 Row Programme
On 18th January 2020 CrossFit Iron Duke are hosting their second charity row event. This time it’s The 2 Million Meter Row… teams of 4 people per rower, each team has to row 100,000 split into 25k per person. How we split the meters is up to us as long as each person does their bit. To support us in the build up to the event the coaches are releasing a weekly programme. Week 1 is 3 x 1000m, with 3 minutes rest. The goal is to be consistent with both pace and stroke rate. I took this really easy but my consistency was on point 🙂
Thu: 9:30am Indoor Cycle Class (with MyZone)
Second time for Climbing Week. Having the MyZone screen in the studio definitely helps with the effort levels. A lot of the guys in my class embraced it and bought the MyZone heart rate monitor. The screen shows everyones Heart Rate, Calories and Effort levels… I have some quite competitive people in my class, it makes it interesting for sure. What didn’t help was dropping a 20kg plate on my left foot during a session with my first PT client of the day. It landed directly on my big toe and the pain was pretty intense. I didn’t really want to know how bad it was so just got on with my day without removing my socks or shoes.
Thu: 6:30pm Coach By Colour Indoor Cycle Class
Week 5 for my evening lot which means the Power Pyramid. I talked about this in last weeks log so will not repeat myself. I did finally take my sock off for the first time after the class and it wasn’t tooooo bad. The nail was split and the right half was pretty black. I cut the nail down as low as possible but I got next to no sleep due to the pain!
Fri: Rest Day
I had planned to hit a Conditioning Class today but my morning ran away with me and food became a priority so I skipped class in favour of lunch. Given I had plans to run a Marathon, or possibly an Ultra on Sunday I wasn’t at all concerned about taking an extra rest day. Especially as my Friday morning is spent at Nuffield Chichester coaching Insanity, LBT and Tabata pretty much back to back!
Sat: Rest Day
Sun: Festive Frolic Run, by On The Whistle
I won’t go into massive detail about the race here as I will write a separate race report blog but I will say I achieved my goal of a marathon plus, (6 laps equalled roughly 28 miles).
*I am not going to include the classes that I coach in my training log but for reference per week between Tuesday and Friday I coach 3 indoor cycle , 2 Insanity, 2 Boxercise, 1 LBT and 1 Tabata class .
Mon: Rest Day
As a rule Saturday is my one rest day but given that I did 8 days on the bounce due to the weekend being the last Tough Mudder Classic weekend of the year Monday was my well earned rest day. I had PT clients and other than that I took Cracker Dog for a long 2 hour-ish walk and that, as they say, was that.
Tues: 1pm CrossFit class
Now, I want to make one thing clear. As soon as I booked my IM, after my husband and my parents, the next person I contacted was my coach. I asked if we could have a chat the next day and we sat down and discussed how I could adapt my time and the workouts at CrossFit Iron Duke to make it viable to continue to train there. So yes, get used to it, my training is going to still involve a lot of CrossFit.
This class involved a deceiving brutal partner workout containing Wall Balls, Push Ups, Double Unders and Pull Ups. My triceps were shot after two days at Tough Mudder pulling people up Everest and the like so my poor partner, Ben, had to deal with me being shockingly slow on the push ups – sorry again Ben!
Weds: 1pm PT Session
I have been working with my coach, Kerry for almost two years now and I get a lot of surprise from people who wonder why a coach needs a coach. I find this really shocking but am saving this subject for a future blog.
This week was another strength week, focussed on building lower body strength and power. We are both still very mindful that my cracked/broken rib(s) are healing so there are a few things we are staying away from but there was definite progress this week when throwing the 50kg D Ball on and off the jerk blocks so obviously things aren’t as bad as they were. Other activities included a lot of DB Romanian Deadlifts and DB Walking Lunges.
Thurs: 11:15am Barbell Club
Work has conspired against me for a lot of this year and that, teamed with “the rib” has meant that I haven’t been able to make Barbell Club so now that I am free for a while I am going to go. Again, this may seem like an odd choice for someone training for an IM but I have already explained that I refuse to just run, bike, swim and there is more than one way to skin a cat! Barbell Club focusses only on the two Olympic lifts, Snatch and Clean & Jerk and this week was all about maxing out your Snatch. Having been away for a while and losing a lot of confidence, I maxed out at a not so impressive 25kg.. But, I got to throw a barbell around and I got a thumbs up from Harry on two occasions (if you know him, you’ll know!) so I’ll take it.
Thurs: 12:15pm Threshold Heart Rate Test
To help build my endurance I am currently focussing on working out while keeping my heart rate low. I mainly use my indoor cycle classes for this work. The one thing I haven’t done for a long time is do a test to figure out actually what my threshold heart rate is. As I sold my turbo trainer a couple of years ago I decided that it would be a good idea to do this test on the most disgusting piece of equipment I love to hate, the assault bike! It is now Sunday and the memory of this 30 minute max effort test is still haunting me but I did it and now I just have to figure out how to change the heart rate zones on my Garmin to most effectively use the data.
Fri: 12:15pm Total Body Conditioning Class
I was actually feeling more than a little beaten up while coaching so in between my three classes in the morning I messaged Kerry to ask if the TBC class was featuring all the burpees again (last Friday had been burpee frikkin central with a different type of burpee in every section of the class). I really didn’t think I would be able to cope with more of the same and luckily, no burpees were programmed and no Liza’s were harmed for asking such a question ( still not sure how I got away with it!) However there were 10kg Plate Clusters, 200m Sprints, Assault Bike and Ski Erg efforts, Single Arm DB Clean and Jerk (now they take some concentration!) and Box Steps. We (being me and the two other girls in my section) managed to put a smile on everyone’s faces with our synchro box step skills so yay for making people happy while training our asses off!
Sat: Rest Day
Rest Day activities included a long dog walk and watching Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet Ballet because, you know, balance! I did find it amusing how surprised people were, that don’t know me well, that I was going to the ballet. Tough Mudder one week, Ballet the next and just for balance we’re back to Tough Mudder next Saturday for the final UK event, the Urban 5k in Clapham.
Sun: 9:30 Forza Fitness Squad Strong Girl Sunday Funday
This started with a couple of the girls in my squad after I was moaning about never being able to box. I coach 2 Boxercise Classes a week, boxing features heavily in the sessions with some of my clients. I love it but I never got to put the gloves on myself. These girls offered to come over and put the pads on for me and from that grew our Sunday Funday session. It’s one hour of boxing and whatever else anyone fancies which could be running, battleropes, rope climbs, you name it. It is very democratic; we all write the work outs and everyone that joins us has to add at least two songs to the playlist.
It’s been 4 days since I put it out into the world that I am doing an Ironman and already the response has been interesting.
Originally I wasn’t going to go public until after the event. I prefer to talk about what I’ve done, rather than what I am going to do. Hence why I’d had this booked for well over a month before anyone other than my inner most inner circle knew anything about it. It was only a chat with Mr Chris James that convinced me to do the blog thing so here we are (thats what I get for having a branding expert in said circle!) He pointed out that people might relate to my challenge and find my journey interesting and indeed, that already seems to be the case.
So far though, people that have spoken to me about it fall into two very distinct tribes:
Those that have done an Ironman before. This tribe have only ever said things about how much time I have. This is especially true of those in this tribe that know me well and are either trained by or train with me.
Those that have not done an Ironman before. This tribe is a lot less positive and the general vibe is that I have no time at all to get ready. That is not to say they are not encouraging, it is just interesting that the opinions are clearly divided.
Right now, I am more tempted to listen to those that have done one but I guess we will see which is right 🙂
One of the first things I knew I had to do as part of my IM journey is lose a bit of fat and get as lean as possible.
I am by no means big but by making myself as lean as possible I give myself another key for success, alongside my training.
This was one of the things I discussed with my coach, Kerry, in that initial meeting. Literally the week before I had signed up for the IM I had set new goals for all of my lifts and was going to focus on improving all things barbell related. Funny how things can change so quickly! All that had to go out the window and the focus now has to be using lighter weights and moving faster.
Anyway, back to the fat loss bit. I had my daily macro targets, I had the different targets for different days depending on how active I was on each day so now it was time to invest in the paid version of MyFitnessPal and get to work.
In my first 6 weeks this is the change in my body composition:
Fat %: – 2.8%
Muscle %: – +1.8%
And, this is the change in my measurements:
Bust: -1 inch
Back: -+/- 0
Waist: – 1.5 inch
Stomach: – 1 inch
Hips: – 1.5 inch
Not a bad start, I still need to lose about another 4kg in total but it’s careful and slow process as quick weight loss usually means muscle loss and my goal is fat loss and becoming lean. It isn’t just about the number on the scale, nor should it ever be.
Although it’s careful and slow, it isn’t complicated. Companies like Slimming World and Weight Watchers make it complicated but they are businesses and their main aim is to make money. They thrive on repeat business and sadly, their businesses are booming. We all know roughly what we should and shouldn’t eat. We are generally all aware of foods that are nutritionally good and those that bring us little or no benefit.
If you want to lose some fat and change your body composition for the better you just need to do the following… and it’s all free! It’s simple, you can have the things you want, nothing is off limits, you just can’t have everything you want. Then you can take that money you give to these crappy “weight loss” companies and use it for something good.
Figure out your calorie deficit (read my previous blog post for more info)
Download the MyFitnessPal app and set up a free account
Track your daily consumption and be honest about it
Keep your daily macros at roughly 50% carbs, 30% fat and 20% protein
Make sure that less than 10% of your daily calories come from junk food and things that have little or no nutritional benefit.
Give yourself a break if you have a day where it all goes wrong. Forget about it and make sure the next meal you have puts you back on track!
It really is that simple. No, it isn’t always easy but for the general population, it isn’t anymore complicated than this.
I’ll check back in in a month and update you with my progress 🙂