I really enjoy yoga. It’s got so many great advantages: improving strength and flexibility, stretching out aching muscles and calming busy minds.
If, like me, you’re doing the C25K program or any kind of running, you could do worse that trying this post-run yoga session from Adriene Mishler. Adriene is a great instructor and has a load of fantastic, free yoga workouts on her YouTube channel. This was is great for stretching out your heavy, achey legs after a run leaving them fresh for your next one.
Thanks for reading,
*I am not a doctor. Please check with your doctor or other suitably qualified healthcare professional before beginning any exercise program.
I’ve never been a lover of exercise. I spent most of my senior school PE lessons side-lined with an ingrown toenail with notes to excuse me written regularly by my mum*.
(*There’s a reason why our signatures are so alike. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions about what that reason is…)
But I do appreciate that exercise is a vital part of maintaining a healthy body and mind. With this in mind, I have, with varying levels of commitment and longevity, tried a reasonable range of activities to try and get into the exercise habit over the years.
One of the things I’ve tried is the Couch 2 5K Program (C25K). This is a free program developed by the NHS which promises to take you from sitting on the couch to running 5km in 9 weeks.
I’ve tried it a few times over the last few years. It’s always started well but I’d previously never gotten past about week 4 or 5.
This new year, rather than making ‘resolutions’ which are easy to break and then forget about, I decided to set myself some goals which you can keep working towards even if you have a bit of a set back. One of my goals was to finally complete the C25K program.
I downloaded the latest version of the app and actually went for my first run on Christmas Day last year. “Christmas?” I hear you ask, “I thought this was a ‘new year’ goal?” Well yes, but I’m a planner and I’d decided on Christmas Eve that this was going to be one of them so I thought I might as well strike while the iron was hot and try to balance some of the Christmas calories that I was about to consume.
The first week has you running for 60 seconds at a time with 90 seconds of running in between for a total of 20 minutes. Mr FFF came with me and encouraged me every step of the way. Despite the fact that it was only 60 seconds of running at a time, that only just felt manageable. It felt like I’d never get to a point where I’d be able to run for 30 minutes without stopping, but I knew that I could get to at least Week 4 (the running periods increase gradually each week) so I persevered and made it to Week 5.
Now, in Weeks 1-4, each of the 3 weekly runs is the same, ie in Week 1, you run for 60 seconds and walk for 90 seconds for a total of 20 mins and you do this 3 times in the week. But in Week 5, this pattern changes. I did not know this.
So the first run in Week 5 went: 5 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 5 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 5 minutes running. I coped well with this and was feeling pretty good. On my second run, I was feeling a but tired as I’d had a late night the night before and then a particularly busy day at work. But I tied my laces and headed out anyway, not really paying attention to the introduction that my chosen coach (you can choose from the NHS’s own coach or a couple of celebs. I chose Sarah Millican) was giving on how the run would be structured as I chatted to Mr FFF whilst completing our 5 minute warm-up walk. Sarah told me it was time to start running and I picked up the pace expecting to run for 5 minutes. As I was running and waiting for Sarah to tell me that it was time to walk, I was finding the going surprisingly hard. My legs felt heavy and it felt like much more of a struggle than run number 1 of the week had felt. When she finally told me to stop running, she congratulated me for managing to run for 8 whole minutes! No wonder it felt harder.
This was the hardest week as run 3 (which I looked at the schedule for after getting home from run 2!) increased again to running for 20 whole minutes!!! I suddenly remembered why I’d never made it past this point on my previous attempts.
At first I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to do it but I reasoned that the plan had been devised by people who know what they’re talking about. I also knew that I could always repeat this week or the previous week if I found it too hard.
But guess what? I did it! I managed to complete Week 5! Having passed the point at which I’d previously quit really spurred me on to complete the program and I carried on. Even when Mr FFF couldn’t come with me to cheer me on and provide that accountability that I need as an Obliger. Even when the weather turned really wintry and it was snowing. I kept on doing it and I COMPLETED THE PROGRAM!!!
I was so proud of myself for sticking with it and achieving my goal. Even thinking about it now, months later, I still feel really proud.
So, if you’re looking for a way to get moving more**, I’d highly recommend the C25K program. The app is great. It’s free,you can listen to your own music and your coach will tell you when to run, when to walk and will give you words of encouragement throughout each run. You also get a gold tick in the app for each run you complete and a virtual trophy at the end. The program builds up the running time gradually and each week feels like just the right level of challenge.
I’m still fighting the battle with getting into a regular exercise habit, but completing the C25K program has definitely helped me to alter my mindset and believe in my physical abilities.
What are your top tips for getting into an exercise routine? Let me know in the comments section.
Thanks for reading,
**I am not a doctor. Please check with a doctor or other suitably qualified healthcare professional before beginning any exercise program.
It’s been going on for weeks. Mr FFF knows and is all for it. The ‘someone’ I’ve been seeing is a personal trainer and so far, it’s going well.
I made the decision back at the beginning of the summer. I have a personal training session once a week and then I go independently another 2 times. My reasoning for paying more on top of my gym membership for PT sessions is that I’m an obliger* – I find it difficult to meet expections that I set for myself but easy(er) to meet someone else’s expections of me. I don’t want to turn up to my PT session on a Saturday and have to say to my trainer that I haven’t been since I last saw him.
I’ve also chosen to go with a gym program for a couple of reasons, despite the fact that I’ve previously always found the gym to be mind-numbingly boring. Historically, I’ve always preferred to attend group exercise classes such as Zumba, Step and Body Pump. I love the music and find that I push myself harder when there is an instructor watching me (there’s that obliger tendancy again). However, my busy schedule during term time means that meeting or training sessions sometimes cause me to miss a class. The problem is, rather than simply going again the following week, this can be enough of an excuse to kick me out of the habit. Going to the gym, however, means that although I’ll still have scheduled times for attending, if I can’t make it for some reason, I can simply go at another time that day or during the same week as I’m not relying on a class timetable.
I’ve been going since the second week in July and so far haven’t missed a session, even when I was on holiday. Before I went, I also booked a PT session for my usual time on the day I came back from holiday to get me straight back into the swing of my healthy lifestyle rather than letting any holiday laziness continue until the following Monday.
So far, it seems to be working and I’m seeing small steps of progress. I’m already lifting heavier weights than I was when I started and finding it easier to do so. The thing I am most proud of is that I can now do 3x 1 minute planks. Previously, I’d always struggled to get to 30 seconds when doing them in a group class, but when there’s someone sitting right next to you with a stopwatch in hand watching only you, (that obliger tendancy kicks in again) you dig that bit deeper.
The real test is going to come now that I’m back at work and have to exercise afterwards rather than getting it done out of the way first thing in the morning. I’ll update you in a few weeks and let you know how I’m getting on.
Thanks for reading,
What are your top tips for keeping to your exercise routine when you’re busy with work? Let me know in the comments section.
(*For more information on obligers and to find out whether you are an obliger, upholder, questions or rebel, visit Gretchen Rubin’s website to find out about her Four Tendencies Framework.)
I’ve invested in a personal trainer. Well, when I say ‘invested’, I actually got it for free. And when I say ‘it’ I mean a
I like that you can workout to your own music (Image courtesy of Nike+ TC)
new training app that I’ve downloaded.
Inspired by last week’s Weight Watchers talk about using regular exercise to help improve health, fitness and appearance, I decided to take the bull by the horns and get my, rather wobbly, backside moving. I reasoned that I’ve got about a month before I go on holiday and in that time, if I work really hard, I could see good results. After all, celebs can do it when they’ve got personal trainers beasting them daily.
Now, I can’t afford a personal trainer but I thought back to when I was on a mission to fit into my wedding dress and I’d downloaded a free Davina McCall fitness app. I really enjoyed using it as the workouts were short, needed no equipment and because they were on an app I could do them to different music or even whilst watching TV so they didn’t get too boring.
Unfortunately, it seems you can no longer get this app. But I didn’t let this put me off. I looked for an alternative instead. There are quite a few decent looking free apps out there, but after a bit of research, I eventually went for the Nike+ Training Club app .
I’ve been using it for a week now and so far I’m really impressed with it. There are loads of different workouts you
My Program (Image courtesy of Nike+ TC)
can choose from. They’re split into different categories depending on what you want to achieve: Get Lean, Get Toned, Get Strong or Get Focused. Within each of these sections you’ve got a selection of workouts at beginner, intermediate and advanced level and ranging in time from 15 to 45 minutes. You can also edit the workouts to suit you by choosing alternative exercises.
The bit that I’ve mainly been using is the ‘Programs’ feature. This allows you to choose a fitness goal from same categories and intensity levels as the workouts. I went for a Get Lean Beginners program and was given the option of adding in running to boost reach my goal quicker, which I took. The app then generated a 4 week program for me to follow. Each week it gives me 2 different ‘Get Lean’ workouts to do, 2 runs starting at 5km and building up to 8km, and a yoga session. It schedules these across the week along with 2 rest days.
When completing the workouts, you get the option of using an album, playlist or all music on your device or of using a separate music source. The app them guides you through the
My Program (Image courtesy of Nike+ TC)
workout with clear instructions and time reminders. There’s the option to look at photos, written instructions and videos of all the exercises either before or during the workout. The workouts I’ve completed so far have been really challenging and have really got my heart rate going and have definitely had me breaking a sweat. The yoga was particularly challenging, in a good way, even though I’m relatively experienced at yoga.
I’ve been impressed at how the app has pushed me. Whilst I’d started running again a couple of weeks ago, I was only running about 3km and wasn’t finding it easy. Left to my own devices I wouldn’t have increased the distance to 5km for at least a couple of weeks. I must admit I was a little apprehensive about my ability to complete the distance but I decided to give it a go. I knew from previous experience that it would largely be down to mind over matter and pledged to keep going. And I did. Admittedly it was at a slow pace but I kept going all the way around and I’m actually quite looking forward to increasing my distance this week.
Apparently there is also a Nike+ running app that you can download that links to the Training Club app but I haven’t had chance to look at that yet. There’s also an option to
Clear instructions with photos and videos (Image courtesy of Nike+ TC)
link with other users as a way to motivate each other but I haven’t explore this either.
All in all, if you’re looking for a free app to work you hard, this is a good one to go for (for beginners at least). Here’s hoping I can keep my motivation up and continue enjoying using the app. Please let me know about any apps you’ve come across that are worthwhile as I find that mixing things up a bit can help to sustain motivation.