How to train for a 5K

As you all know, I am a Journalist and have had a massive project recently with WebMD.
Here is my first feature of the year with them, which takes you through how to train for a 5k.
I’ve always gone for longer distances in the past, but since having Lacie, I always do a 5k on a Thursday with my running buggy. It’s the perfect distance for getting some running in, without it taking over the morning – and her getting too bored too!
Here it is. The original can be found here at WebMD, a website jam-packed with trustworthy and timely health and medical news and information

Sofa to 5K
By Lucy Miller
WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Caroline Cross, a running buff, is the first to admit that she didn’t enjoy running The Berlin Marathon as much as she thought she would. Towards the end of her training she was counting down the long runs and early mornings, and literally hobbled over the finishing line – “the last 10k, was the worst,” she says. The achievement of running a marathon is amazing but it’s certainly not for everyone. You not only have to be fit, but you have to be super committed to your training – no more Sunday morning lie-ins!
In preparation for her first marathon, Caroline had run plenty of half marathons and 10k races. She also did a short and sharp run most Saturday mornings, particularly the Parkrun, a free organised 5k run, where she could monitor her time each week and race against other runners. “5k’s are great for speed training and building stamina,” she says. “I have always found that by adding in 5k’s to my training it has helped my performance with longer distances.”

A 5k community
Founded by Paul Sinton-Hewitt in 2004, the idea of Parkrun originated from the initial Bushy Parkrun event, in Teddington, Middlesex.
It started when Paul had a knee injury. He was bored and wanted to stay involved with the running community, so on October 2, 2004, he got 13 of his friends to turn up at Bushy Park and timed them over a 5km course. They went again the next week and then the next, and slowly the word spread and the number of runners turning up grew. It became a regular event, then, during 2007, six more events started up and Parkrun was born.

Parkrun is now one of the most popular runs you can do, and as of March 2014 there have been over 500, 000 participants, with around 375 locations to choose from. Who would have thought so many people would be up and about at 9am (9.30 in Scotland) on a Saturday morning, looking forward to a community-based 5 kilometre run?

“It’s a great start to a Saturday morning and there’s a great atmosphere with a real sense of community with runners from the local area,” says Caroline. “I like the fact that it is also open to everyone and you can run as a family. It is even better when you break a personal best (PB).

Why 5k?
According to Runner’s World, 5k – 3.1 mile’s is the perfect distance for beginners. It’s short and snappy, and “you can fit it quite easily into your day as it doesn’t take up much time,” says Caroline. “It’s also an extremely accessible distance for everyone and for all abilities. Even if you are new to running you can have a go and run it at a pace you are comfortable with.”
Here, the expert’s talk about how you can join Caroline in going from the couch to a 5k course, paying attention not only to your physical training but also your mental attitude. (It’s always recommended, especially for adults over 50, that sedentary people check in with their doctor before starting to train.)

Getting started
When sticking to a training plan, the best thing to do is find a time to train that suits you. Lots of people find that running first thing fits in best, “the whole day is then at your disposal without the need to go for a run hanging over you,” says Nick Anderson, running coach at The Run Lunge. “Most races are usually early on a Sunday morning, so you will start to train your body to respond to an early run in the right way. Remember, the early bird catches the worm!”
“Build up slowly too,” suggests Alex Rahim, Personal Trainer at Virgin Active, “and try not to increase your speed or distance too early. It won’t take you long to prepare for a 5k, so don’t panic.”

Dress for the occasion
If it’s dark and cold outside, then it will make it harder to get out the door. According to Caroline, “The most important thing is to dress sensibly by wearing layers – a bit like an onion.”
Chose a lightweight top for your base layer, then wear a light waterproof jacket or fleece over the top. To keep your legs warm, wear a pair of running leggings underneath a pair of shorts or go for some thick fleecy leggings that can be bought from most good running shops.
You tend to lose around 20% of heat through your head so make sure you wear a hat and a pair of gloves too. There’s nothing worse than fingers that are so cold they hurt – and if you get too warm you can always take them off.

Make training convenient for you
“Look to use your time efficiently, build running into your commute, consider the value of even a short, 20 minute run at lunchtime and skip work drinks and encourage colleagues to join you as well,” says Tom Craggs, UKA Running Coach and coaching advisor to Saucony UK, High5, Adidas UK and SenseCore. “Use your personal time efficiently. We all ‘waste’ time each day. Sleep or a good stretching session is of more value to both your training and your overall health than 30 minutes of ‘smart phone’ time in bed late at night.”

Staying motivated
The only way to stick to your plan is to “Examine all the potential barriers that could get in the way and work out in advance how you’re going to deal with them,” says Robin Gargrave of Central YMCA, the activity for health charity. “Look to train with other people – get yourself down to your local running club or Run England group or get a friend or family member to sign up with you,” says Tom. “Many studies suggest that our partners can have a big influence on our behaviour and our health, with a more recent study by University College, London, suggesting that men and women are three times or more likely to achieve their resolution when their partner joined in the challenge.

Set goals
“Always set SMART goals,” explains Alex. “These are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and have a Time frame.”
Write down the reasons you want to do the 5k. This could be as simple as improving your health, losing weight or looking better in your clothes.
“Without goals, training has a lack of direction and purpose meaning the performance outcome will not be fulfilled to its potential,” says Alex.

Break it down into manageable chunks
First, pick the date for your 5k. “Six to eight weeks should be fine, however bear in mind this is not as long as it seems.
“Once you have your date, then begin finding a comfortable pace and run for time as opposed for distance to get the body used to running for a length of time,” says Alex. “Do this for approximately 2 weeks then build in some interval sessions (where you run faster than your average pace for a period like 30 seconds, and doing a walk recovery for 90 seconds) twice a week for 2 weeks. Running hills are important in any running programme too and this can be included in the last 2 weeks of your 6 to 8 week plan.”
Don’t forget your rest days too. Your body needs time to recover in order to get faster. “Look to take a minimum of one complete rest day a week, more for less experienced runners,” says Tom. “Respect that your body progresses and develops through your rest and it’s an area most runners forget.”
If you’re inspired to lace up your trainers and start training for a 5k, then Alex suggests that you: “always try and do one to two strength sessions per week, plus three running sessions per week. Strength training will help prepare the body for impact, and the running sessions do not have to be any longer than 30 minutes at a time so will not affect time out of your day too much.”

Good Luck!

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My day……..

I haven’t given you an insight into my day for a while now so thought I would share my day today. It’s been a fun one, full of smiles, training, good food and of course quality time with my little angel!

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To start my day off I had scrambled eggs with broccoli and a sprinkle of goats cheese.
I’ve really taken charge of my eating lately as I’ll be weaning Lacie in a few weeks time and won’t have the whole breast feeding excuse to eat what I like anymore. I thought if I rein it in now then it won’t be so much of a shock to the system. I don’t like change…and I’ll be honest the whole weaning process is scaring me slightly!

I then ventured to my local Virgin Active – my second home!
Today I played around with this interesting looking ball – also known as a Weightedi Ball, a functional piece of kit that’s a but like a medicine ball but squishy! You can kneel on it to do core moves like bird dogs or put your feet on it and use as a platform for things like glute bridges and lunges. I used it for a which warm up to help me engage my core and switch on my glutes and  away I went.

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I love my local Virgin Active – I only go once a week (twice as I take Lacie swimming on Tuesdays) as all the other times I use the great outdoors and my home gym in my garden whilst Lacie is sleeping or in the pram,  so when I do go, I really go to town. After my warm up I did a metabolic circuit compromising of a push exercise, followed by a pull exercise, a lower body exercise, plyometric jumping move and then finished off with a isometric exercise to really burn my muscles out. I repeated this circuit three times and Jeez I’m aching already! Yay! Feel the burn! They have a great selection of kit in the gym, so I found myself a spot and kitted myself out with a barbell, plyometric platform and a TRX. The hour flew by!

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When I go home, I fed Lacie and then made myself a chicken salad followed by some sparkling water with lemon, which helps to take the edge of my after meal cravings..

In the afternoon as Lacie cat napped I then caught up on a few emails and features before taking her to a school that I teach gymnastics at to meet all the children. Needless to say, they loved her and she enjoyed the attention. I then came home and had a few of my favourite RawLicious Raw Artisian Bread Crackers spread with Organic Butter to take the edge of my hunger whilst Lacie played in her favourite Fisher Price Sit Me Up Floor Seat and attempted to eat a carrot. I’m trying to give her things to experiment with at the moment so when it comes to weaning putting food in her mouth isn’t totally alien. She definitely seemed to like it!
carrot

For dinner I had a salmon fillet (lots of good fats!) with broccoli, carrots, sweetcorn and green beans. I love filling up on vegetables at dinner time. I then had a few RawLicious Date & Cashew Snackaroons, which by the way are sooooooo delicious and free from wheat, gluten, sugar, refined salt or anything artificial. You must give them a try they are made from coconuts, dates, nuts, raisins, ginger and vanilla powder. No nasties in sight!

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The Diary of a Breast Feeding Mum

Breast-feeding can be pretty demanding. It can be so rewarding too, and I’m so glad I’ve done it and stuck it out for over eight weeks now.

During the first few weeks my nipples were so sore, which is pretty common and I had mastitis, which thankfully I managed to cure with warm flannels, ibuprofen & self-massage. It was a really painful time but the best thing to do is carry on feeding through it. It helps block the inflamed milk ducts.

Anyway I came out fighting and still feeding. It definitely gets easier, so this is how my day usually goes.

Wake at 5pm.
Lacie now goes from 10pm – 5am, which gives me 7 hours sleep. I always feed her in bed with me, and doze off. It’s so much easier than having to get up and make up a bottle.
Night-time feeding is definitely easier thanks to my Anita breast-feeding PJs, which are comfy and really easy to feed with. No fiddley straps or buttons, they have a chest opening for feeding. Great for ease and cold nights too, when you just really don’t want to strip off.

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Back to sleep until 8am
This feed is always followed by smiles and a bit of playtime. Our favorite story book at the moment is Wilson the Whistling Tree Frog, which is part of her Babycademy set. We read the book whilst doing the actions with Wilson the Frog. It’s great fun for both of us.

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Up at 9am
This is when I do my exercise. I pop Lacie straight in her pram and off we go. I either walk for an hour or jog around the park with her pram, stopping en-route at the children’s playground for some toning work with my resistance band and dumbbells. I will post one of my workouts soon.

photo 1

Back by 10:30am
Breakfast. This is usually a Be Skinny Me shake or a Slender Blend shake with Maca powder, a banana and some cinnamon. I also have a bowl of home-made granola, made by soaking oats overnight in apple juice and then mixing with seeds, nuts and dried apricots. I then bake it until golden brown. I love Maca powder because it helps balance out your hormones and help reduce the stress hormones caused by sleepless nights and being a new mum. 

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11:30 Feed then playtime
My feeding app ‘Nursing Time’ really is my bible. It times between feeds, times how long she feeds for, from what side she’s fed and also records all her feeds for the day. Great to look back on. Especially when baby brain kicks in and you can’t remember which side you fed from last.

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11:30 is also playtime
Lacie either goes on her playmat, in her Fisher Price Infant to Toddler Rocker, which comes with comes bright and colourful fabrics to stimulate her little brain and a vibration unit to calm and soothe your baby or simply on her blanket on the floor. She loves having a kick around.
Whilst this is keeping her entertained, I’ll have a snack of sliced chicken pieces, 1/2 avocado and cucumber. Protein is essential for maximising your milk flow, whilst the good fats in the avocado will help improve her  growth and development. I find that I’m really thirsty also when breast-feeding so the cucumber helps keep me hydrated.

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2pm: Lunch
This is usually homemade tomato and lentil soup, which is full of iron and vitamins, followed by some fruit.

2:30: Out and About 
I find this feed the hardest as I’m usually out and about with my NCT friends, mother in law or  mum or sisters, so I need clever clothes that allow me to feed discreetly. I’ve found the Breast Vest to be über helpful, which makes any top a breastfeeding top. It works by  sitting  just under your nursing bra, so when you feed it covers your tummy and doesn’t interfere with your bra straps.  Babes with Babies is another great clothing line, which make stylish clothes especially for nursing mums. I have the Cloud 9 Nursing T-Shirt, which has an elegant scooped neckline and soft draped pleats that flatter a postnatal tum.

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4pm: Juice Time
I’m always tired and hungry in the afternoon so I always have a juice to pick myself up. I love Plenish Juices. They come in handy little bottles, are cold-pressed and full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients to help keep my milk quality high. I also love making my own juices. I tend to do a batch on a Sunday night and freeze. My favourite at the moment is one beetroot, one apple, 1/4 inch of cucumber and 1/2 lemon. I add this to 1/2 a litre of water and sip throughout the afternoon.

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5:30: Feed
Feed time again. If I’m out and about still, then I’ll take some expressed milk, which I’d expressed earlier using my Medela Swing Breast Pump. I love it. It’s so quick and easy – and not stressful. I always thought I’d hate expressing but it really isn’t that bad. I like to give Lacie a bottle every three days just so she’s not fussy and I know she will take a bottle, which is especially important for when the grandparents have her and mummy and daddy want to pop out for some dinner or a spot of shopping. My breast pump came with a Calma bottle, which enables Lacie to maintain the natural feeding behaviour that she’s learnt on the breast. I don’t want her getting confused when going from bottle to breast and back again.

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6:15 : Core Workout 
My hubby usually arrives home about now, so I hand her over for daddy time, whilst I head to our home gym and get some core work in. Just 20 mins is enough to help heal my recti diastasis, which is abdominal separation caused by pregnancy. It’s all about consistency, so I do my exercises little and often. I need a strong core again before I start running any sort of distance or start lifting heavy weights.

7pm: Dinner
Protein & vegetables for us. If I’m extra hungry I’ll have a sweet potato too.
Dinner is usually followed by a chopped apple and almond butter.

7:30: Bath time
Bath time. Lacie usually goes in first. Now her skin isn’t so sensitive I love adding some special Cussons Mum & MeSleep Tight Baby Bath‘. It’s infused with lavender to help her sleep and most importantly its hypoallergenic and paediatrician approved. I always finish her bath with a massage. I wrap my hands around her legs, then gently pull my hands down to her feet before tracing circles on the soles of her feet with my thumbs. I use the Sleep Tight Balm for this. She loves it – and it makes her really relaxed and sleepy.
I’ll have a bath after her whilst she sleeps on daddy. My fav products are also from the Mum & Me range. Especially Calm & Soothe Bath Soak and the New Mum Firming Butter, which contains Oat and Marine Algae Extracts, helps to leave skin feeling tighter, firmer and more toned.

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8:30: Feed
Milk time again. This tends to be a long, relaxed feed, to full her tummy for the night. She’ll then sleep again either on daddy or in her crib downstairs with us, which allows is to get a few chores down or spend some quality time together.

10:30: Last feed
I like to give her a little top up before bed. If I’m really tired, I’ll go to bed at 9ish, then set my alarm to give her a quick feed. She’s sleep 7 hours at the moment so I know if I give her a little top up now I won’t have to wake again until 5:30ish.

Post Baby Fat Loss – Time to clean up my diet

Last week I had an amazing week. I really got back on top of exercise. Don’t get me wrong I didn’t go crazy BUT I managed to walk most days for around an hour and did a core/postural circuit for 30 minutes a total of four times. I either did this in my home studio once my hubby came home and was having his quality time with Lacie or I did it in my living room whilst Lacie was sleeping. She only tends to have little cat naps so it was a case of – she’s asleep – let’s go – quick! I managed it. It was just a case of being flexible and doing it when I could.

This week I’m going to really focus on my diet. Lacie is 6 weeks and I want to clean things up a bit. I generally eat well but if I want to get my baby weight off then I need to eat super clean and lean for a few weeks.

So…I’ve been shopping. I’ve got salads and soups for lunch, I’ll be having a juice of beetroot, apple and cucumber and lemon in between meals to keep my energy levels and nutrients high and I’ll be having eggs and smoothies for breakfast. As a personal trainer and nutritionist I feel I have enough knowledge and experience of how to lose weight sensibly without affecting my energy levels and breast milk so if anyone needs help out there please get in touch.

Ok so first things first, it’s time to weigh myself. I’m going to do this every three to four days to make sure I’m on the right track and the scales are going down sensibly. Here goes…..

Finding My Feet

Now Lacie is five weeks old I’m definitely starting to think about my post-pregnancy shape up plan and actioning it.

It’s hard coming from such a hectic, active life to being very busy with almost not a lot.
Yes I have a perfect new born baby girl but who would of thought all my time would be taken up with her. I’m not working, I’m not exercising, not doing the housework but still the days seem to fly by. It’s crazy! Breast feeding and changing nappies takes up a lot of my day and I feel ready to start adding in some me time – although it makes me feel incredibly guilty that I’m thinking if leaving her for an hour here and there to get to the gym.

To ease myself in I’m going to start with power-walking every morning with the pram. Just 40 minutes a day will be enough to start with and help wake up my muscles and cardiovascular system again. I’ll also be with Lacie throughout the entire walk so I guess I have no reason to be guilty.

Depending on how I feel, I may even find myself a good hill and power up it as fast as I safely can, then stroll back down. Have you ever tried walking up a hill with a pram? It’s hard work!

I’ll also take my Gym Boss and perhaps set it so I do one minute powerwalk, one minute recovery with a slow walk. I’ll see how I get on. I get bored very easily!

I obviously have to be very careful to start with. If my bleeding increases then I’ll know I’m doing too much and take a few rest days. I also need to be careful not to do to much so it affects my breast milk, so I’ll make sure I have a good breakfast before I head outside of a smoothie or some eggs. Water is important too, so I’ll pop my water bottle in the basket underneath the pram to keep me hydrated.

As for diet, I need to work that out. As I said I am breast feeding so I need to keep my nutrients and calories high for my little one, so when I have some time this week I’ll sit down and write a plan that allowed me to feel good and shed some baby weight without compromising my milk supply.

I’m also going to look into what supplements I need to support my activity and my milk.

So that’s one positive step taken. A daily morning walk before anything can get in my way. We’ll get up and head out straight after feeding so then we have the rest of the day to do whatever it is we get up to.

me & mum