Cross training

I am definitely not one of those runners that is guilty of ignoring their cross training.  In fact, cross training is what I do most of, because I actually really like everything else I do on top of running.  Because I am a creature of habit, my weekly workout schedule usually looks something like this:

Screenshot 2013-04-23 at 22.16.31Obviously in the run up to Paris, the only running I was doing was on Sunday, which is not ideal, but I think my fitness was good enough to let me get away with that.  The next time I attempt a marathon, I want to have trained properly for it.  This may mean that I will not have time for all of my group exercise classes which I am not happy about, but as my next marathon isn’t until January, 2014 (unless I make some unwise, flippant decisions in the coming months), I have a while to wean myself off of my current class addiction, and try to create similar exercises I can fit in when time is actually available to me.

In June, my bank account allowing, I hope to take a spin instructor course.  I have already completed an exercise theory course and my first aid, and this would allow me to earn a little pocket money whilst still getting to do the workouts I enjoy, and hopefully at a time more suited to my schedule.

I would also love to buy a decent barbell and some weights, so I can pump some iron to cheesy metal in my living room at 3am to satisfy my meat-head tendencies.

The final thing I’ve been starting to do is slotting mini workouts into my day whenever I have time.  Usually, I do a quick search on youTube for things like ‘butt workout’ and follow instructions for 10-15 minutes   However, youTube is also the graveyard of odd videos, and I have stumbled across some hilariously bad instructional videos.  Like this gem, which is equally hilarious and creepy.  Still, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t feel my butt work when following along.  Yes, I’ve used it 3 times so far.

But following videos online is limiting, so this afternoon, after work, I met my friend Grant for a gym session after telling him I’d plan an hour of stuff for us to work our way through.  The result?  Success!  If you count working up a sweat before chicken fajitas a success (I do).  Here’s what we did:

20 minutes on the elliptical to ‘warm up’.  I once read somewhere that it takes about 15 minutes for the body to fully loosen up, and I tend to enjoy adding just a little bit extra onto everything.

3 sets of the following:

  • 20 squats
  • 10 lunges on each leg
  • 10 man push ups
  • 15 hip extensions on each leg (possibly the lamest exercise for a male to do next to his female friend in a semi-crowded gym, so props to Grant)
  • 30 second plank
Hip extensions

Hip extensions

5 minutes on the rowing machine

10 minutes of core (plank, side plank, toe taps, a bunch of stuff I don’t know the name for)

10 minutes on the step machine

But no running.  I’m still kind of fatigued after Paris, since I scoff in the face of sensibility and ignore all guidance that tells me that I should rest after a marathon.  I gave it 3 days, but then I was back at the weights and cross training.  However, I am still in my twenties (which I remind everyone about frequently, because February, 2014 marks my entry into my fourth decade of life), so I refuse to accept that I am not indestructible quite yet, thank you very much.

Anyway, Texas 2014?  I’ve got my eye on you.  And I WILL sort out a training plan for you that incorporates running regularly while I have my cross training liaisons alone in dark corners at unsociable hours while everyone sleeps.  And I’ll even throw in the fancy stuff, like hills, fartleks (never going to stop being funny), and mile repeats (sounds gross).  Because even though medals are sweet, I kind of want to see what I can do if I throw myself into one of these marathons, balls to the wall.

How to make Smokers Hate You – #287

Casually mention to your younger brother, as he purchases a fresh pack of cigarettes, that today marks 4 years since you quit.  And then, just for fun,chime, “And did you know smoking makes you impotent.  And you’re single, right?”

Don’t get me wrong.  Smoking, when I partook in the filthy activity, was totally enjoyable.  Totally.  I could easily puff my may through 20-40 cigarettes a day (more if drinking), and my bank balance felt it.  Oddly, on a crisp winter’s day, standing outside admiring a fresh blanket of snow making everything seem clean, nothing topped it off quite like blacking my lungs and dusting the pristine ground with fag ash.

I quit using nicotine patches.  I had also just left my smoking ex boyfriend and wanted to prove to myself that I was better than him.  And that smoking was for (balding, university drop-out) losers.  That tactic was very effective.  On December 27th, 2007, I slapped my first patch onto my left butt-cheek, felt the burn (seriously, those things hurt), and waltzed into town feeling pretty smug. I’m going to save so much money.  I’m going to smell amazing.  I’m not going to have premature wrinkles or lung cancer.  Thoughts like these kept me motivated through the inevitable bad days, even if the saving money part was a complete falsity – I spent more on scented body lotions, candles and perfume than I ever would have on cigarettes.

The best part about quitting on the 27th was the fact that when everyone else was gearing up to make their New Year’s Resolutions happen, I had a head start.  On January 1st, I was well on my way, not dreading the start.  I’d quit last year!  No problemo!

4 years on and I’m glad I stuck with it.  I enjoy running (obviously, as this is a blog about running) and smoking is pretty detrimental to running.  I also enjoy not  looking terrible, so while I have frown lines that have existed, I’m determined to prove, since birth, I’m in pretty good nick for 27.  Definitely not a Faces of Meth contender.  I also realized a few weeks ago that the price of cigarettes (in the UK) has exceeded 7 pounds, which is just ridiculous.

It could be argued that there are downsides to being an ex-smoker.  I tend to find that the smell of smoke bothers ex-smokers more than non-smokers.  I also find ex-smokers are more viscous and patronizing when they pass comment on other smokers.  And, in complete honesty, there are some days where you think maybe I could have just one…

Clearly, the downsides are negligible and the benefits to your health, such as lowered risk of coronary disease, lower risk of cancer, and white teeth, make it worthwhile.  And obviously smelling good is a useful tool in the act of making friends and attracting partners.  But the best thing about quitting smoking for me?  Knowing that my (balding, university drop-out) ex boyfriend doesn’t have as much hardcore determination as I do.