I could use this blog to talk about myself. What kind of runner I am (at best I’m mediocre but I try real hard), how I got into sport (boys), what races I’ve won (just two and I got lucky both times), how far I have run in one go (100 miles, I was chasing a boy)…. but all of this is pretty irrelevant. You don’t care. Christ, I don’t even care (except my 100 miles… I dine out on that).
What’s more important is an understanding who I am as a trainer and coach.
The health & fitness industry is growing. Fast. And everyone is getting in on the action. FMCG, consumer electronic & fashion brands, celebrities, the media…. they’re all trying to capitalise on society’s increasing awareness of the fact that if we want to look better and live longer, we have to actually do something. We have to make changes.
On the whole, this is a good thing. We have increased access to ‘stuff’ that will make it easier for us to eat better and move more. But with it comes a shed load of mixed messages, conflicting ideologies, over complication and worst of all.. the con artists.
This makes my job hard.
Teaching healthy living is not easy when you have to spend most of the time dispelling the myths that infiltrate people’s heads via the mass media. The myths that give people the belief that they can achieve their goals in a matter of days and with the help of a credit card.
Sometimes it all makes me laugh, sometimes it makes me incandescent with rage, sometimes it makes me tired and feel defeated, but mostly it makes me want to ensure that I am doing the right thing. So, if you could indulge me and allow me to get it all off my chest in one go. I’ll feel better after. And you will get to know a little bit more about me and the way I train.
Below are the most common things people ask and say when it comes to what they believe is a healthy lifestyle. I have tried to educate as to why this may or may not be the case. I’m not known for being concise (although in this case I’ve tried, honest) so I suggest you have your feet up and a cup of tea/glass of wine in your hand.
#1. I was told on a running forum that I shouldn’t eat before I run/only wear green socks/breath solely through my mouth bla bla bla…..
It’s great to hear advice from people others, particularly if you share similar goals or experiences. We have access to unlimited advice and on the whole it’s great. But don’t lose your brain. You have known yourself your whole life, you’ve been there on every run you’ve done, you were there when you decided to stay in bed and eat endless crumpets as opposed to go to the gym that sunday. You were there when you hit the wall at miles 18 of the marathon.
Yet still we take the advice of people who we don’t even know. These people don’t even know how you vote, You don’t know how these people vote. They might even vote UKIP. The might think that Dane Bowers is a musical genius. They might think it’s acceptable to cut their nails on public transport… And yet we are willing to take their advice without question? Get advice, get as much as you can, but try to listen to your own body too and use your own common sense. Everyone is an expert on running right? Well they’re not the expert your running. You are.
#2. I read in a magazine that I will lose half a stone just by skipping breakfast/eating custard/wrapping clingfilm around my ass…..
I’m not saying all these crazes are based on sweet FA (just 99.9%) but before you go taking the advice from the same journalist who writes an expose on Jordan’s love life each week, learn the science.
Science. Facts. Biomechanics. Physiology. Nutrition.
Read it. Study it. Learn it. Avoid reading articles in shit fitness magazines or tabloid newspapers. It’s normally always garbage and been written by some halfwit who’s favourite programme is TOWIE. Learn the science. Learn the facts. Make yourself an expert. Then use that education to decide for yourself if this new fad can actually be true.
#3. If I do this sit up ab challenge I’ll get a six pack in two weeks
You can’t target where you lose fat. That’s your genetics. Sit ups won’t burn any more fat from around your stomach then it will your arms. And it won’t really burn that much fat at all. So whilst you might be building a six pack underneath with a shit load of crunches and sit ups, no one will see it because of that lovely jumper of fat over it. You want to burn fat? Look at your diet and run up a hill. Fast.
#4. I’m thinking of buying a SlenterTone/Shape up Trainers/therma-leggings
Great idea. Go for it moneybags. Whilst you’ve you the Amex out, pick up some of this too. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/4-X-Developpe-Sex-Cream-Make-Your-PENIS-BIGGER-get-larger-grow-longer-50ml-/151095941993
#5. A guy at my running group said if I want to get a faster marathon time I should be running 100+ miles a week.
It might work for him, but that doesn’t mean that you should. In fact that kind of mileage can be dangerous. If you’ve already done marathons then the endurance is already there. In your locker. If you want a faster time, you need to run faster. Simple. Break the distance down. Run faster. Add rest. Start to deplete rest. Run faster again. Deplete more rest. Then eventually run faster for longer.
I know of a few dead good runners who run high mileage weeks and are still super fast. But that’s because they keep the quality in every mile and each session has a different goal, a different tempo, a different distance. They are machines and they keep the quality with every mile. Build up the mileage keeping the quality to avoid getting injured, run down and bored.
#6. I don’t want to weight train as I’m a girl and I’ll get bulky
You won’t. Women don’t have the human growth hormone to build muscle like men. Those women that do build muscle, put in serious hours weight lifting, often take specific supplements and have a diet that’s proper hard core (like 15 chickens a day or something). Doing body pump twice a week doesn’t even touch the sides of what they do.
Women lose muscle year on year as we get older. This means our metabolism slows. We burn less calories at rest. We store more fat. Weight training is essential to keep your metabolism high.
#7. I’m not getting any faster/stronger/bigger/smaller despite hours and hours in the gym/running/cycling
Get comfortable being uncomfortable. I read that on a T-shirt somewhere. It stuck.
You’re spending hours training but are you at any point pushing yourself? Are you failing? Failing is essential. Failing that last rep in a chest press, failing to hit a time in that last rep of 800m… If you don’t challenge you body beyond what it is currently capable of, it has no reason to change for the better, so it won’t. Spend less time in the gym, but make it harder when you are there. Keep going heavier on those weights, keep knocking five seconds off your rest period in sprints…. keep making it harder, keep failing, keep overloading your body.
#8. I don’t wan’t to do sprints/burpees/squats, I don’t like them.
The shit you don’t like doing is probably exactly the stuff you need to be doing more of. Simple. Get on with it.
#9. I’m on a low cal/low carb/low taste diet that will mean I lose a stone in two weeks
Eating only 1000 calories a day? Your body will match it and only burn 1000 calories. Then where do you go? Tissue paper and air? Check Mate.
Quick losses of weight are normally just as quick to put back on and you’ll put on a little extra as you’d have slowed your metabolism. Healthy eating is simple, don’t do anything that you cannot keep up as a lifestyle and practice moderation.
#10. I ate a KFC bargain bucket last night so I need to go for a big run today.
Binge/purge territory with exercise is dangerous psychologically and can lead to serious eating disorders. If you fall off the wagon with your diet, write it off and start again. Don’t alter your training plan. This behaviour worries me more than anything.
#11. I chose ‘diet’ foods so that’s healthy right?
When you see “low fat or fat free’ think CHEMICAL SHITSTORM. Low fat normally means high sugar. Ditch the diet cereals, yogurts, snacking products. They are empty calories, they are filled with sugars and sweeteners and will play with your insulin levels but give you very little sustained energy. Eat real food. If it’s a naturally high in fat or sugar food (like butter or fruit) then just eat a little less of it.
#12. I can’t go to my mate’s birthday party as I need to train.
Unless your income depends on it or you’re in the elite rankings, fit training around your life, not your life around training. Watch out for compulsive or obsessive behaviour. Keep balance.
#13. I’m not going to eat any sugar. Ever. Again.
Good luck with that.
Fitness and living a healthy lifestyle isn’t just about abstaining from certain things. It’s about living the life you want and creating a healthy lifestyle you can sustain. Forever.
Have one day a week when you don’t give a shit. Eat that cake Have a drink or two. Sack off the gym. Don’t respect your elders. Snort half of Columbia (don’t, that’s proper naughty).. but whatever floats your boat.. life is there to be loved. Join the living. It will also help you stay on track for the rest of the time.
#14. I’ve got no time
You watch TV. You spend hours on facebook. You get the bus to work. You hit snooze on the alarm. YOU HAVE TIME. It’s fine to watch TV or go out for a beer instead of going to the gym no one is judging. Just don’t say you don’t have time.
#15. I’m an endurance athlete so I don’t need to strength train
Your muscles protect your skeleton. They stop you getting injured. You don’t have to enter the gym, you can build muscles using your own body weight or by sprinting, but strength training is essential. Have at least one session a week focussed on it. Functional with compound movements. The more muscles we work, the better. Using free weights and doing bodyweight exercises are superior to machine exercises for building muscle, keeping joints healthy, and burning calories.
#16. I’ve got into running. I must spunk a shit load of money at racing gear that will make me run faster and be taken seriously.
I mean, sure, do what you want, but with the exception of some properly fitted trainers, you could get away in running in anything that is comfy. Oh, no wait.. pants. Pants are the exception. Always wear comfy pants. Banging out a spin class in a diamante thong is only going to end in tears.
#17. I’m going to train every day this week.
It’s easy to get into training and want to keep it up every day. It can be pretty addictive. Rest is key to getting faster, fitter and stringer though. It shouldn’t been seen as something you do instead of training, it should be seen as part of your training. All of the developments in your muscles and CV system happen in the 24 hours after you have trained. If you train through this period you risk negating the work you have done, or worse actually regressing. Be as disciplined about your rest days as you are about your training days.
#18. I’ve got these diet pills of the internet….
At best you’ll be wasting your money, at worst you’ll give yourself a serious heart condition and die. Don’t be a dick.