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Fitness

Marathon Training

So after years of debating, I have finally decided to bite the bullet and run a marathon. It is something that I have always wanted to do, but have made excuses year after year about why the time has not been right, but not this year, I have decided that it is now or never, it wont get any easier with each year older I get. I have entered the Paris Marathon in April 2015.

Many people believe that training for a marathon completely takes over your whole life and doesn’t allow you the time to do anything else except run, run and run some more. My aim is to prove this is not true; I aim to train thoroughly for this marathon but whilst still doing the other things I enjoy doing.

Before training for the marathon I would go to the gym five times a week and play football twice a week. Clearly this doesn’t leave me much time to run outside of my 9-5 job. Therefore my first decision was to decide what I had to cut back on with the two main options being my two greatest hobbies, playing football and working out. I decided to cut my trips to the gym back to three times a week, but whilst compressing my workout plan so that I did not neglect any areas of my body.

This means that I can keep my football up which was a big plus for me, not only do I love it but it also provides me with cardio exercise which is different to long distance running. Believe it or not, exercise which isn’t just long distance running is vital in training for the marathon.

I consider myself to be a fit guy, as I am fairly active and as mentioned play football and go to the gym regularly. However, I have always struggled with running, this is going to be extremely tough.

Throughout this blog I will detail my training plans, how it is taking its toll on my body and the rest of my life. I will also give you any tips which I have experienced first hand are important.

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Month One – Five months until the marathon

I decided that I would give myself plenty of training time before the marathon. Most programmes you can find on the internet suggest around a 16-20 week plan, however, these plans involve running four to five times a week which I can’t commit to doing. Therefore I thought it would make sense to give myself extra time. I believe that for me, training for the marathon won’t be running as often as possible, but making sure I run the right distances and get the miles in my legs, hopefully I will be proved right!

Throughout the month I completed 8 runs, two a week, tending to vary between a quick paced shorter run and a steady long run. The shorter runs were usually 5-6km in the week after work when I could find the time and the longer run would be on Sundays when I found I have the most time to run.

I have set myself the target of running the marathon in less than four hours, which I believe to be an extremely good time and I have been surprised by the natural pace at which I can run. My longest run was 11.2km and I completed this in an hour and two minutes which is quicker than a 4 hour marathon which I was delighted with. I believe I am able to run at this pace because I incorporate shorter runs, football and high intentisty gym work in to my schedule, it keeps my body on its toes and will ensure that I keep up a different level of fitness which will benefit my long distance running.

I have found that my meal sizes have increased, but I have ensured that I have continued to eat the right things, mainly plenty of protein and green vegetables. This has meant that I recover from my runs efficiently so that I can continue to play football and go to the gym, if I do not take on the right nutrients then my energy levels will drop and this will affect my training schedule, not to mention the quality of my work at my job.

Over the next month I want to continue with the same method and run around 15-16km as my longest run. I will of course be taking a few days off exercise over the Christmas period, but I hope this won’t slow me down too much!!

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Month Two and Three – Two months until the marathon

I haven’t updated this blog for two months, and there is one reason for that. I was struck down with the flu midway through December which stopped me doing any sort of exercise for three weeks. I didn’t think you would be too interested in hearing about the many box sets and films I got through in this time!!

The positives are that the flu wasn’t caused from training, I caught it from a colleague at work (haven’t forgiven him) and it hasn’t affected my pace or distances since I have begun training again.

January was a very productive month for me training wise, I have managed to up my effort in the gym, keep up with my football and increase my distance and pace with marathon training, I couldn’t really ask for any more.

In total, I ran 68.8km throughout the month, over eight runs. This included a 16km run and  a half marathon. I completed the half marathon in 1 hour 48 minutes, which I was very happy with for a first effort.

The main obstacle I have come up against is the bitter cold, I have been running at freezing temperatures at times and I find that I am running faster than I should in order to get out of the cold!! In order to combat this I have tried to do my shorter and quicker runs in the week at night when it is cold, saving my longer runs for the weekend when it is slightly warmer.

I have upped my carb intake, as at times I have felt myself struggling with tiredness, this is to be expected however. In my opinion, you burn enough calories when you are running to not worry too much about the amount of carbs you take on.

The next six weeks are crucial, I plan to run 3 more half marathon plus distances before the big day, this should ensure I complete the marathon in my target of under four hours. I will be keeping to the same strategy, and hopefully it continues to be a success as I am currently feeling as fit and healthy as I ever have. See you in a month!!

 

6 Tricks For Defined Abs

Getting the abs you desire isn’t just down to doing a high volume of sit ups each week.

Many people believe that the best way to get defined abs is to do as many sit ups as they can possibly manage. This is where they are wrong, training the abdominals to their maximum is obviously vital, however there are a number of ways to help produce the results you want.

6 – Vary your repetition speed

Many people do their repetitions at exactly the same speed throughout their workout, whereas studies have proved that by altering the speed from slow and disciplined reps into quick and powerful will help boost the activity of the muscles

5 – Overtraining

A lot of people believe the best way to get abs is by training them every single day of the week, this is wrong. They are the same as any other muscle and require rest in order to repair and grow. I wouldn’t recommend training abs more than three times a week.

4 – Breathing

This may sound obvious but whilst you are executing your ab workouts, don’t forget to breath correctly. By this I mean exhale when you reach the finish of each repetition. This helps with the contraction of the abdominal muscles.

3 – Add weight to your workout

Abdominals are just like any other muscle and require weighted workouts in order to show definition. Don’t be afraid to add weights to your exercises and reduce the repetitions.

2 – Cardiovascular exercise

One of the best ways to get defined abs is by regularly doing cardiovascular exercise. I have found the best results come when doing high intensity interval training. This has been proven to be extremely successful as studies have shown that due to the explosive nature of the exercise, you will burn more fat during the workout as well as up to 24 hours after.

1 – Diet

The key to getting the abs you are after is by avoiding fat storing foods such as carbohydrates. If you can have a low carb diet then this will help you get the results you want. Cut out the white bread and potatoes and swap it for whole grain bread and sweet potatoes.

 

4 Superfoods To Kick Start Your Diet

A ‘superfood’ is a food which provides an enormous amount of nutrients which help fight disease and improve your health. Different super foods provide different benefits however it is a good rule of thumb to eat them regularly as part of a balanced diet. A few of the most popular super foods are listed below along with their main benefits:

  • Blueberries – Believe it or not this small fruit has the power to help prevent serious diseases such as cancer and heart disease, they can also help to reduce cholesterol levels. Blueberries go great in a healthy smoothie or with your morning cereal.
  • Wild Salmon – Salmon provides you with plenty of Omega-3s which lowers the risk of heart disease and can help with things such as easing arthritis symptoms and depression, not bad for something which tastes so good! Wild Salmon is best as it is high in nutrients and low in contaminants. Two servings a week of this is generally recommended.
  • Broccoli – My favourite vegetable! Studies have shown that eating plenty of broccoli, which is a non-starchy vegetable, can reduce the risk of some cancers as well as heart disease. It also contains plenty of nutrients your body needs, such as Vitamin A and C. You don’t have to wait until dinner to eat this, broccoli is delicious when steamed and eaten with poached eggs in the morning.
  • Avocado – When you look at the basic nutritional information of an avocado you may think that it is too fatty to be good for you, this is where you are wrong. The avocado contains healthy fats which help to protect your health against issues such as brain disease and cancer. It also combines with other foods easily and tastes great in many dishes.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of super foods, just the ones which I enjoy digging in to the most!

 

 

The Benefits Of Squats

Squatting is a great exercise for both men and women, whether you are trying to build muscle mass, tone your legs or even lose fat. Here I will outline why you should be incorporating the squat into your workout plans.

Squats help prevent injury

By squatting you will be increasing the strength of a number of muscles in the lower body, the exercise will strengthen weak points along the range of motion which will help reduce the risk of injury.

Squats are flexible

There are many types of squat which utilise different areas of your lower body. It can also be used in a number of workouts such as muscle gaining, circuit training, toning or high repetition training.

Squats strengthen your core

Studies have proven that squats contract the core of your body, especially the abdominals. Therefore if you are targeting a flat stomach then ensure you include squats in your workouts!

Squats will increase your power

Squatting correctly with a big range of movement will help produce power in your lower body. This can help benefit other sports and workout exercises.

Squats can be done anywhere

You do not need any equipment to complete a squat, they can be done at home, at the park or anywhere else you wish to workout. You never have an excuse to not get your squats in!!

Squats build muscle all over

Squats help strengthen the muscles in your lower body, however they also help to promote strength throughout the body. Squatting is a highly intense exercise which produces hormones for other areas of your body to strengthen

Squats can improve efficiency

As squats are such a tough exercise, after a few sets you will feel the effects of them. This will mean you don’t need to be spending hours upon hours on exercises which squats will do in a much shorter time. This will leave you with more time to spend on other areas of your workout.

5 Top Tips To Reach Your Fitness Goals

There are many things you need to do correctly in order to reach your fitness goals. Below I have summarised five things to consider you perhaps may not have thought about.

1 – A healthy diet

As the saying goes ‘no good workout session will beat a bad diet’, whether your aim is to improve your general fitness, build muscle mass or lose weight always ensure that your diet is giving you the best chance of reaching your goal. Always take on the nutrients your body needs to keep your body healthy and give you the upmost energy for your workouts.

2 – Rest your body

Many people overtrain thinking that it will make them reach their goals quicker. You must ensure that you rest regularly, your body needs to rest in order to recover from the physical strain you have placed on it. Failure to rest can result in injury and fatigue which will put you behind your targets. Listen to your body, if it tells you that you are tired then rest!

3 – Form

Your form when doing an exercise is vital. By form I mean the technique used in completing an exercise. Research how best to do an exercise if you are unsure as incorrect form can cause serious injury and it will not work the intended muscle group efficiently. Perfect form increases your results!

4 – Water

Drinking water before, during and after a workout is an absolute must. Good hydration means that your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood around the body, therefore nutrients and oxygen can be pumped to your muscles easier. Exercise is easier when you are well hydrated, why make it harder for yourself?!

5 – Stretching

Forgetting to stretch both before and after exercise is a common mistake. Remembering to stretch thoroughly has many benefits; it can reduce the risk of injury as your muscles are not pushed straight into exercise. It also helps to reduce muscle stiffness after an exercise as it increases blood and nutrient supply to your muscles. Stretching can even help to reduce mental stress as it can calm your mind and allow your body to recharge.


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