Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

Announcing Resilient Running

Thursday, August 16th, 2018 | News

In June, I launched my Running For Beginners course. It quickly became the most popular online course I have ever taught, with nearly 2,000 people signing up in the first two months alone.

The course has received great ratings, but some students wanted to take it further. Some were existing runners and found the course content too basic. As it was a beginners course, I didn’t want to make it too advanced. So, I started work on a new course for existing runners looking to take their game to the next level.

The result is my new course, Resilient Running. It will teach you to run faster, longer, and stay injury free. It covers technique, training, injury prevention, nutrition, psychology and more. It’s targetted at people who already run on a regular basis, so we get straight down to business. There are no beginners steps because that’s all covered in my first course.

Will it prove as popular? I certainly hope so. Over 1,000 people have signed up in the first 48 hours.

Here’s the trailer:

Announcing Running For Beginners

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018 | News

I’m pleased to announce the launch of my new online course, Running For Beginners. It’s a complete introduction to running for those who want to get into it for the first time or are coming back to it after a break.

Topics covered include:

  • Where to run
  • What to wear
  • Staying safe
  • Warming up and cooling down
  • Motivation
  • Dealing with different weather conditions

And much more. So far, it is proving rather popular:

And best of all, it’s free. Click here to check it out.

Physiology of Sport and Exercise

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018 | Books

Physiology of Sport and Exercise is a textbook by W. Larry Kenney, Jack H. Wilmore and David L. Costill. I read the fifth edition.

I got on well with this book. I was able to read in detail the sections I was interested in and skip straight to the “in review” summaries of the sections I wasn’t. There are case studies which help add a bit of colour to the otherwise dry science.

It starts with a description of what happens to the body when you exercise, before moving to talk about the theory behind training. It has sections for environmental factors and individual differences such as age and sex.

There is a lengthy discussion of nutrition and doping, too. Though, unfortunately, I haven’t found any safe and easy ways to dope. I don’t fancy withdrawing a load of blood and re-injecting it six weeks later, so it looks like I’ll just have to keep puffing away on the old salbutamol.

Keep on Running

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 | Books

Keep on Running: Science of Training and Performance is a book by Eric Newsholme, Anthony Leech and Glenda Duester.

It’s a popular title for books: a search on Good Reads turned up over a dozen books with the same title. This one is to do with what it says on the tin. That is, it is about how to run faster and longer.

The key takeaway message is that you are slowed down by your weakest system. So, you have a great vo2 max, but if your lactate threshold is terrible, you’re not going to be setting any records. Similarly, you can have all the slow twitch fibres in the world, but you need a decent running economy to run a marathon fast.

This means working on all of the bodies systems. It’s not enough to just do the same thing over and over again. You need variety in your training routine to work on each part of the body.

Of course, vary your training system is nothing new or surprising. But the book breaks down the details in a clear and easy-to-follow manner.

Spin class

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018 | Sport

Last week I went to my first spin class. I was a bit nervous about going as I worried I would be the only man in a room full of women, and that everyone else would have done a spin class before. It turns out that some fears are justified.

I didn’t really get what it was about. With a regular exercise class, it makes sense. There is an instructor there that tells you to do different things. But what can you do on a bike? Do they just sit at the front shouting “pedal faster”?

The answer to that question is basically yes.

Sometimes you pedal slowly in a high gear. Sometimes you pedal fast in a low gear. Sometimes you stand up and sometimes you sit down. Occasionally you alternate between the two which turns into some kind of press-ups on a bike. The instructor is also there to be a DJ, synchronising the instructions to the music.

I like it as a workout. It pushes you harder than you can push yourself. And there was another guy there. He turned up late and looked like he had only come to support his girlfriend, but technically he was there.

Start running with Parkrun

Saturday, February 25th, 2017 | Sport

Just going outside and running is simple. But for us adults, we often need something a little more structured to get started. Parkrun is a great option.

If you are thinking about getting started with running, Parkrun is a great way to go. Founded in the UK it was quickly spread to almost every town and is rapidly spreading across the rest of the world too.

So what is it? It is a timed 5km run that takes place every Saturday. It is free, so you can simply turn up and do the run. At most Parkruns there is a huge ability difference between runners: some will complete it in 15 minutes, others will take 50. Everyone goes at their own pace.

As a Yorkshireman, one of the major appeals to me are the free t-shirts. When you reach 50 runs, 100 runs and 250 runs you get access to a special t-shirt for that “Club”. Actually, it is not free, but all you pay for is a few pounds postage. There is also a “25 Club” for those who volunteer as marshals.

Here are the technical details. You register on the website and are given a unique barcode to print out. Take this along with you to the run and when you complete the course a volunteer will scan your barcode so that your time can be sent to you.

Slimming down

Thursday, July 14th, 2016 | Health & Wellbeing

Given my recent slip into bad BMI I’ve been working on losing some weight. So I have been playing around with some tools to help me.

Apple Health

Health is one of the apps that Apple forces on you. I had never actually used it. However, when I opened it, it turned out that it had spent the last year counting every step I make. That is both horribly invasive and rather interesting. I am averaging 7,500 steps per day.

You can record body metrics such as weight and then have them plotted on a graph. This makes sense. Why I would need to regularly record my height and plot that on a graph though is unclear. Perhaps it is aimed at children and the shrinking elderly?

apple-health

MyFitnessPal

I am using this to record my diet. Yep, I have become one of those calorie counting wankers. You put in your weight, target weight and target period to lose said weight, and it gives you the number of calories you need to restrict yourself to per day. This goes up and down as you exercise and eat, giving you a number of calories left for each day: I have 785 spare so far, which I could spend on two chocolate chip muffins…

myfitnesspal

I can also record exercise on it. This will be useful when I exercise without my phone, such as American football training. For running, I use the app below.

MapMyRun

I have used MapMyWalk for years but now I am upping the ante by using the run version. It is actually the exact same app. When you log a work out in one it immediately appears in the other. Also, once you have synced one with MyFitnessPal, they are all synced. They are all Under Armour apps, so you would expect them to work pretty well together and so far they do.

map-my-run

Results

After three months I had managed to drop 8kg. This was working off net 1500 kcals per day, which I hit almost every day. A few days I was a few hundred kcals over the limit, but on others I was up to 1,000 below the limit (due to large amounts of exercise) so I was definitely below the limit on average.

weight-graph

However, I then spent a week on my honeymoon and put 2kg back on.

Conclusion

I have a new found respect for anyone trying to lose weight. It is really difficult. At net 1500 kcals per day, which is the maximum my app allows, you can just about fit three meals in, but no snacks or beer in. After all of this, I was only losing 0.5kg per week. Then just a single week off ruined a month of work.

Of course, it could be that if you are significantly overweight it is easier to shift the first lot of kilos. However, it really is hard work and difficult to find the motivation when it piles back on so easily.

Fatboy Christopher

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016 | Life

I’m concerned about my weight piling on as I approach 30 so I bought us a set of scales for the bathroom. When they arrived I climbed on – and received a nasty shock. Admittedly I have not been on the scales for quite a long time, but I have put on 9kg since I did.

This takes my BMI from a just healthy 24.9 to an officially overweight 26.1. I never really doubted BMI as a measurement, mostly because I was in the healthy zone. I accepted it doesn’t work at the edges (short people and tall people), but it seemed like an accurate measurement for me. Now, I am thinking about joining the angry club of deniers.

I have recently been looking up the NHS recommendations for diet and exercise. Here is how it compares:

What the NHS recommends What I do
“at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week” At least four and a half hours (270 minutes) per week. I walk to work every day, 25 minutes each way, and walk to lots of other locations in town too, including running up and down the stairs from my apartment on the 4th floor. It’s not concentrated exercise, but it is quite a lot.
or “75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running or a game of singles tennis every week” Two hours of vigorous aerobic exercise per week, on average. I spend 30 minutes doing the Parkrun on Saturday morning and three hours training with Leeds Samurai. I don’t always make both events, and sometimes there is standing around at training, but overall it averages to more than 75 minutes a week.

I consider my diet quite good as well. I eat fruit every day, home-cook most nights, always with a range of vegetables, and sometimes without meat. We limit out intake of junk food and processed meat and I try to take healthier snacks to work, though with limited success. Just one area strikes me as a problem: we have a pudding every night.

I won’t claim my diet is perfect but it has given me pause for thought. If I can apply so many good behaviours to my life, like walking to work, like exercising every week, like eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, like avoiding junk food, which is all hard and takes a lot of self-control on my part, and still put on weight, how hard is it to stay thin? For some people, who put on weight easier than I do, it must be almost impossible.

I’ve heard people advocating that obesity is entirely the fault of the individual and they should just eat less. To me, this seems like a gross over-simplification of a complex problem. Even to practice some of these positive behaviours requires significant lifestyle changes: much of my time is structured around planning my diet and my exercise, and actually doing them, and I’m not even winning. If someone says to you “right, you need to find an extra hour per day to fit in exercise and planning and preparing healthy meals” where would you find that time? How would you motivate yourself to carry through on that, every day, for the rest of your life?

Many of us have found that time of course. But probably not overnight. Chances are we were raised with some of those behaviours also. If you are a regular person, who hasn’t had that benefit, and has a lot to deal with in their lives, it is a difficult problem to solve.

And that’s the story of how I tried to turn my weight gain into a social justice issue.

fat-chris
A recent photo of me

Run Less, Run Faster

Thursday, May 15th, 2014 | Books

I recently read Run Less, Run Faster after it was recommended by a friend. It sets out a training programme that emphasises getting rid of “junk milage” and making the runs you do do more effective.

In general it seems to have a lot of good stuff in it, and if I wanted to take my running more seriously, it seems like a great programme to follow. As it is, I will take some ideas from it without taking the whole package.

It seems mostly written for people who run marathons. There is plenty of adjustments for 5km and 10km races and all the tables discuss these values, as well as values for quite slow runners (a lot slower than me even) but even so I feel like it is really for people who dedicate their entire lives to running. I guess that should be obviously from a scheme that advocates five workouts a week. It certainly is not a book targeted as casual runners, or anyone who’s primary purpose is fitness rather than competitive running.

It is filled with jargon. Maybe if you are a serious runner you will understand it all, but a lot of it is lost on me and I have had to look quite a few terms up.

Some of it seems cautious. It talks about speaking to a doctor before beginning a training programme. Perhaps this is good advice if you have health issues, but I am pretty sure that the overwhelming majority of doctors will tell overwhelming majority of people “yes, of course you should exercise!” And as Chris H has pointed out previously, if you are a healthy 20-something year old, you don’t really need to train for a 10km. If you already do regular exercise, you will just be able to do it. Even by accident. Again though, that goes back to whether you just want to run it, or whether you want to run it competitively.

I like the way they mix up the format of the book. Some of it is standard flowing text, other parts are delivered as a question and answer. They also intersperse of all this with letters from people telling them how amazing they are. This I find odd and uncomfortable. I am always suspicious about texts that spend so much time openly stating how good they are rather than offering real content.

Overall, I think if you want to run competitively, this is a great book to read. Otherwise, it probably is not that useful.

run-less-run-faster

10km

Sunday, May 11th, 2014 | Life

I have been running more recently with the anticipation of completing the Abbey Dash in November. I had drawn up a training programme, in my head, in which I would add half a kilometre each month so that by October I was running the full 10km.

Then, a few weeks ago, I felt pretty good on my run, so I just kept going and suddenly I had done 10km. This has entirely ruined my schedule. Not really sure what to do now.