Grow Days… the new Rest Day?

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)

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  • HIIT – Are you doing it right?

    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.

    Stay focussed on the goal.

    Unleash your Inner Bad Ass.

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  • 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!

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  • IM Training Log w/c 27.01.20

    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.

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  • Why CrossFit?

    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! 

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    * 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.

    This week saw the return of the 6 hour Hell Session. I knew that doing this only 8 days after my marathon plus meant that the rest of the week might be a little bit light, and probably wasn’t the best planning but as my favourite, David Goggins, says you have to get after it, don’t procrastinate. Do the hard stuff and learn shit along the way. So, no excuses made.. let’s do this!

    Mon: 12:30pm 6 Hour Hell Session

    I have written about this in detail so if you want to know about it, check it out here: https://forzafitness.online/fitness-blog/return-of-the-6-hour-hell-session-chose-your-own-adventure/

    Tue: Rest Day

    I had actually planned to train today but the admin was stacking up so I decided to put that first and give my body a rest at the same time.

    Wed: 6:45am Indoor Cycle

    Week 8 this week and that brings us Jacob’s Ladder. A mirror pyramid session that includes speed endurance, intervals, sprints, climbing and a mountain in the middle. A beautifully crafted beast of a session if I say so myself 🙂

    Thu: 9:30am Indoor Cycle (with MyZone)

    Another crack at Jacob’s Ladder, using the MyZone heart rate monitoring to ensure my output is where it should be. I prefer to use power but HR is a good replacment when it’s not available.

    Thu: 6:30pm Coach By Colour Indoor Cycle

    Being a week behind my other classes, due to the FTP test week, this was Speed Week. Managed a better overall output than last week, although last week Speed Week was done in the two morning classes. One of the things I really want to track next year is the difference in my performance at the different times of day and thanks to Coach by Colour and MyZone I will be able to do this quite accurately.

    Fri: 12:30pm Week 3 Row Prep

    As you probably know by now, 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. This weeks prep was 5 x 1000m, still with 3 minutes rest. I’d arranged to meet India so that we weren’t alone. There wasn’t a huge amount of chat happening during the intervals, even though the effort level was at a level where you can hold a conversation, but it did help having someone next to me, keeping me honest.

    Sat: Rest Day

    Sun: Rest Day

  • The Phases of Menopause
  • Recovery Training???
  • Power through your PMS
  • Can Herbal Adaptogens help Perimenopause? 
  • 75Hard… This is what discipline looks like
  • IM Training Blog w/c 07.03.22
  • IM Training Blog w/c 28.02.22
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  • Return of the 6 Hour Hell Session: Choose your Own Adventure

    In 2018 I did 4 of these sessions. They came about because I was training for a 36 hour SAS style event where you had no idea what you would be asked to do. I had worked as staff for the event the previous year so I could get some first hand experience and understand a little more about what it might be like. I was talking to Kerry about it during one of our PT sessions and I commented it that it would be really good training to somehow do some longer sessions. About 15 minutes later we had a plan for a 6 hour session where she would plan various workouts for me and I would just turn up and do whatever she gave me. Given the work she was putting in planning this for me the deal was that I could never say no or alter them. The workouts would be as directed. I’m not sure when they became known as Hell Sessions but the descriptions fits. Unfortunately the event I was training for was cancelled so there was no need to do anymore…. until now. As I’m now training for an IronMan I asked Kerry if we could bring it back, with a pure focus on endurance (as the SAS focussed sessions had some stress stuff included, both mental and physical) and because she is awesome, and I think she loves the challenge and seeing how far she can push me, she immediately said yes. We set a date and that was that. 

    I arrived at the gym at 12:30 as planned and as soon as I walked in she had a huge grin on her face. I love that she enjoys this and it comes across in her planning and attention to detail. We went to the office to go through the plan and she handed me two beautifully written sheets of A4 paper, written in pink pen for extra effect as she knows I love pink (not much!) 

    The two sheets contained 6 workouts. It was a choose your own adventure day so I could do the workouts in any order. Here is how the 6 hours played out:

    *Just FYI I haven’t included my scores as honestly why do you care? The one thing I hate about marathon running is that the only thing people generally ask is “what was your time?”. This is why Tough Mudder holds so much appeal to me as it’s all about the personal challenge, teamwork and camaraderie and not about your time. 

    Workout 1: 100 Rep Challenge – For Time
    100 Burpee Box Jump Overs (over the Jerk Blocks)

    I chose to do this one first as I figured doing it later in the day would be awful. I also (wrongly) thought that this was the only burpee workout and I figured get the burpees out of the way. I didn’t go all out as you know, first workout so I broke it down in to ten sets of ten with a 10 to 30 second break between sets. I’m always trying to figure out how to move more efficiently and managed to find a rhythm and technique over the blocks that minimised the amount of work I had to do. 

    Workout 2: Row, Jump, Swing – For Time
    1000m row, 10 x 24” Box Jump, 10 x 24kg Kettlebell Swing
    750m row, 20 x 24” Box Jump, 20 x 20kg Kettlebell Swing
    500m row, 30 x 24” Box Jump, 30 x 16kg Kettlebell Swing
    500m row, 30 x 24” Box Jump, 30 x 16kg Kettlebell Swing
    750m row, 20 x 24” Box Jump, 20 x 20kg Kettlebell Swing
    1000m row, 10 x 24” Box Jump, 10 x 24kg Kettlebell Swing

    More jumping so I decided again to do this one early on while the legs were still fresh. I paced the row, focussing on consistency with both pace and stroke rate. The box was higher than I’m used to using in a workout as female box height is generally 20”. I liked this element of the challenge and appreciated the fact that I got to use the soft box in case of mishap. 

    Workout 3: Weighted Run – For Time
    5k Run in 7kg weight vest

    Simple. Put the vest on, head out the door and come back 5k later. This outdoor workout was always going to take place at 2pm as Kerry and Toby wanted to get out of the the gym for a change of scenery, to get warm and a coffee 🙂  

    I haven’t ever run more than 1 mile on my vest so this was one I was really looking forward. I had no idea how the vest would affect my pacing on a longer run but it felt comfortable and my Zone 2 training must be paying off. I was about 2 minutes slower than usual on an easy 5k and I spent 95% of that time in Zone 2. I managed to get back before Kerry and Toby meaning the gym was still shut but once again they showed why they are the best coaches as my water bottle was waiting for me on the doorstep. 

    Workout 4: Push, Pull, Ride – For Meters
    For one hour 60kg Prowler Push / Pull (10 meters each way)
    Every 50 meters complete:
    25 cals on Assault Bike and 30 sec 70kg Hex Bar Hold

    I kinda wanted to do this one with tired legs to help work on my endurance, especially as it involves the bike. This may be a controversial statement but I actually love the Assault Bike. I was most concerned about the Hex Bar Hold but this only became really taxing in the last two rounds which was a pleasant surprise. The pull of the prowler is so much easier than the push and the minute I get distracted with the thoughts I lose count, even though I only need to count 5 lengths at a time! This workout become quite monotonous but that was the point right. As Kerry said after “you’re going to be sat on a bike for hours… you need to learn to deal with it” and she’s right. The music during this workout was a pop punk playlist which I really dislike but I embraced this as well as it helped toughen the mind. 

    Workout 5: 500 Rep Challenge – For Time
    100 x Wall Ball (10lb ball)
    100 x 10kg Dumbbell Snatch
    100 x 35kg Sumo Deadlift
    100 x Jumping Pull Up
    100 x Shuttle Run (Burpee)
    *Split reps as you wish.

    I’d left this workout til late as I liked the look of it and didn’t expect it to be too bad. I was wrong!  This workout stole a little piece of my soul. I’d not noticed the burpee next to shuttle run for one but that wasn’t actually that bad. I’d been feeling really positive before this workout, pleased with how things had been going and how my endurance seems to be improving. Kerry’s advice was to split the reps into 10 rounds of 10 so that is exactly what I did. I started the first two rounds with a 12.5kg dumbbell for the snatch but switched down to 10kg as it was not going up well. The 5 movements together were just hell (so at least on brand for the session I guess!) and every minute of it sucked. It took longer than it should have done as there was much rest… especially during the jumping pull ups, which ended up in sets of 3! 

    Workout 6: 40 Min EMOM
    Min 1: 15 Cal Ski Erg
    Min 2: 50kg D Ball 10 meter carry
    Min 3: 10 x Hanging Leg Raise (from Rings)
    Min 4: 10 x 10kg Russian Twist
    Min 5: Rest

    I’d saved this until last as it looked relatively simple and I figured the EMOM format would keep me on point if I started to feel like I wanted to slow down. The 15 cals on the Ski Erg were averaging 45 seconds so I knew I couldn’t relax there but luckily it came after the rest so this was manageable. The 50kg D Ball got switched to 30kg for the last two rounds as my back was pulling slightly when trying to pick it up. To make up for the change it weight we increased the distance. My grip was properly tested in the Leg Raises and again, these got split after the first two rounds. But, 8 rounds later and it was all done. 

    A huge thank you to Kerry for all her planning and general evil genius, and Team Cooley (Kerry and Toby) for allowing me to use their space for my training, especially while classes were going on. 

  • The Phases of Menopause
  • Recovery Training???
  • Power through your PMS
  • Can Herbal Adaptogens help Perimenopause? 
  • 75Hard… This is what discipline looks like
  • IM Training Blog w/c 07.03.22
  • IM Training Blog w/c 28.02.22
  • IM Training Blog w/c 21.02.22
  • IM Training Blog w/c 14.02.22
  • IM Training Blog w/c 07.02.22
  • IM Training Log w/c 25/11/19

    * 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.

    This week was a planned light week post marathon on Sunday and pre 6 Hour Hell Session next Monday. After the big run I was pleased to find I felt pretty ok. My glutes felt tight, my calves felt tight but nothing terrible and nothing that would stop me training this week. I have booked a physio appt for Monday 9th Dec so that anything still lingering from the two big days can be sorted before becoming an issue.

    Mon: 12:15 Total Body Conditioning

    You know the drill as well as I do by now. Monday = Row, Bike, Ski and today is was just that 30 sec on, 30 sec off for 36 minutes. Nothing fast, nothing frantic. A classic “just moving” day to flush the legs after the 28.2 miles yesterday. I spent about 30 minutes after the session stretching, rolling and running a few mobility drills and walked away feeling great.

    Tue: Rest Day

    I would never normally rest on a Tuesday but I coached Insanity and decided that that was enough for today. Its called a light week for a reason after all 🙂

    Wed: 6:45am Indoor Cycle Class

    Week 7 in my programme brings my least favourite week… Speed Week. Give me hill climbs any day. But, I know that a lot (read most) of my participants feel this way too which is why I designed a specialist week devoted to improving our speed work.

    Wed: 1pm PT with my Coach

    After missing two weeks due to the back spasm it was good to get back to some one on one time with Kerry. We started with Deadlifts and there were nerly tears and tantrums, until Kerry reminded me we were using the Hex Bar, which weighs 30kg on it’s own so I was lifting more than I thought! After deadlifts I got to play with some sled drags and the GHD Sit Up machine. My fear of falling still kicks in on the GHD but hopefully with more practice and regular use this will disappear. It makes no sense to me that I can drop backwards out of an elevated tunnel at Tough Mudder and this is one of my favourite obstacles and yet I cannot let myself drop backwards of the GHD, when I know I can’t fall off. This fear of falling is ridiculous and if I could have one superpower I would just wish to rid of it as it holds me back in so many ways!

    Thu: 9:30am Indoor Cycle Class (with MyZone)

    Another crack at speed week but it’s much harder to gauge in this class as the bikes don’t have RPM meters or levels, just the turning dial. Luckily the MyZone shows your HR and effort on the big screen so there is some accountability but it’s not the same as being able to see your pace etc.

    Thu: 6:30pm Coach By Colour Indoor Cycle Class

    From my least favourite week to my most as, being a week behind my other 2 classes, it’s climbing week. There’s nowhere to hide when the colour is on and I love how committed and motivated the guys in this class are.

    Thu: 7:30pm RPM Cycle Class (as a participant, not a coach)

    I’d made a deal with my friend, PT Client and fellow IronMan hopeful Rich to do the double tonight so as soon as I was done with coaching my class as I was off the instructor bike and set myself up on the floor next to Rich. It was good fun being back on the floor and in a class, especially being next to someone hat constantly pushes me that little bit more. 3 cycle classes in one day.. done 🙂

    Fri: 12:15pm Total Body Conditioning

    Three 10 minute workouts, separated by 2 minutes of rest.
    1: 10 min Assault Bike; every 2 minutes complete 20 Jump Lunges…. hello quads!
    2: 10 min EMOM 40 secs on, 20 secs off; Med Ball Box Step Up and Down Ups (chest to floor burpees without a jump!)
    3: 10 min EOMOM; Max Effort Ski Erg for Calories.

    Fri: 1pm Week 2 Row Programme

    As mentioned last week 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. This weeks prep programming was 4 x 1000m, with 3 minutes rest. Luckily I wasn’t on my own this week as India and Raquel who were with me in the Conditioning class also needed to do it so we set up together for a bit of camaraderie. I was a bit faster than last week (although I couldn’t have been much slower to be fair) and still very consistent. Good times!

    Sat and Sun: Rest Day

    Yes, it’s a lot of rest this week but again, a light week is meant to be light. I was going to train with the girls on Sunday but decided to be smart and give myself a little more of a break before the return of the 6 hour Hell Session tomorrow!

  • The Phases of Menopause
  • Recovery Training???
  • Power through your PMS
  • Can Herbal Adaptogens help Perimenopause? 
  • 75Hard… This is what discipline looks like
  • IM Training Blog w/c 07.03.22
  • IM Training Blog w/c 28.02.22
  • IM Training Blog w/c 21.02.22
  • IM Training Blog w/c 14.02.22
  • IM Training Blog w/c 07.02.22
  • IM Training Log w/c 18/11/19

    * 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).

  • The Phases of Menopause
  • Recovery Training???
  • Power through your PMS
  • Can Herbal Adaptogens help Perimenopause? 
  • 75Hard… This is what discipline looks like
  • IM Training Blog w/c 07.03.22
  • IM Training Blog w/c 28.02.22
  • IM Training Blog w/c 21.02.22
  • IM Training Blog w/c 14.02.22
  • IM Training Blog w/c 07.02.22
  • A 6 Hour Hell Sesh

    As mentioned in my previous post about my coach, Kerry, here is an example of what a 6 hr Hell Session looks like…

    Workout 1: 20 burpees + 400m run. 19 burpees + 400m run. 18 burpees + 400m run.. all the way down to 1 burpee + 400m run.

    Workout 2: 1 mile sandbag run (sandbag weight 15kg)

    Workout 3: 3km assault bike, 3km row, 3km ski erg, 2km bike, 2km row, 2km ski, 1km bike, 1km row, 1 bike ski.

    Workout 4: Accumulate 10 minutes in an active hang from the rig

    Workout 5: Outdoor 200m walking sandbag lunge (sandbag weight 20kg)

    Workout 6: Accumulate 10 minutes in a 90 degree wall sit

    Workout 7: 10 minute 65kg prowler push / pull (approx 25/30 meters)

    Workout 8: 10 min AMRAP of 100m 2 x 20kg farmer carry, 100m bear crawl

    And that, as they say, is all folks 🙂

  • The Phases of Menopause
  • Recovery Training???
  • Power through your PMS
  • Can Herbal Adaptogens help Perimenopause? 
  • 75Hard… This is what discipline looks like
  • IM Training Blog w/c 07.03.22
  • IM Training Blog w/c 28.02.22
  • IM Training Blog w/c 21.02.22
  • IM Training Blog w/c 14.02.22
  • IM Training Blog w/c 07.02.22