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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Day 21 – my last day of the 21 day fat loss challenge

So today is my last day of my 21 day challenge – but I will be keeping it up! I’ve got into a great routine over the last three weeks and really enjoying my workouts too. They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, and I think that is correct!

Today I started the day off with a Kettlebell Tabata workout whilst Lacie was in bed, then I had a juice made up of 3 carrots, a whole cucumber, 2 apples and half a lemon before taking her swimming at Virgin Active. I love how many vegetables you can cram into a juice – think of all those nutrients feeding your cells!!

Lacie had a good sleep after her swim so I had a protein bar before answering a few emails and starting a feature for Fertility Road Magazine.

For lunch, Lacie had sweet potato, butternut squash, spinach & pear with Cod, while I had a spinach falafel and hummus salad. I then had some chocolate CO YO mid arvo followed by a spinach, apple, celery, cucumber and avocado smoothie for dinner.

I will weigh myself tomorrow – but I know that all my clothes feel really comfortable and I’m feeling slimmer than before so I’m happy. This challenge has been great for keeping me focus, so if anyone wants to join me on another one, drop me an email and I’ll write a 21 day challenge for you too.

Day 3 of my 21 day diet challenge

Hello day three…it looks like it may be hungry one as I woke up hungry today!

Determined not to venture of track though, I popped Lacie in her running buggy (read my review on the Out ‘n’ About Nipper Sport V4 here) and went out for an hour run before breakfast. There’s a park about 10 minutes from our house, so I walked there as part of my warm up and the set my timer to three minutes running & 30 seconds rest. I did this 10 times before walking back home again. It took about an hour and according to my heart rate monitor I burnt 500 calories.

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When I got home I had a Protein shake with 1/2 a banana followed by some sourdough bread with almond butter. That certainly knocked the hunger pangs on the head and the combination of protein, carbs & good fats helped my recovery too.

For lunch I had Tomato soup followed by a chicken breast with courgette noodles marinated in homemade pesto made from spinach, avocado, basil & pine nuts and then a apple mid afternoon and a sugar free lolly….it was either that or something extra naughty. I always struggle in the afternoons with cravings!

I always go to the gym on Thursday nights too, so as soon as Lacie was in bed I ventured to my local Virgin Active.
I always run there. It takes 8 minutes, which is perfect for my warm up.
I then did 20 glute raises and 20 deadbugs to switch on my core, followed by 20 Kettlebell lunges holding a 12kg Kettlebell to work my lower body. I did this five times, and not only were my legs burning but my heart rate was nice and high too. This is the strength phase of my workout.

To finish off, I did a nasty met-con finisher, where I did 150 Russian Kettlebell swings using a 12kg Kettlebell. I didn’t however just do 150 straight off. I did as many as I could in a minute, then did 10 jumping lunges and did another load of swings until my buzzer went off. Basically on the minute every minute I did my jumping lunges, then carried on doing my Kettlebell swings inbetween.
The whole thing took me 6 1/2 minutes – it was horrible. The first time I did this though it took me 11 minutes so I’m definitely getting fitter!

I then finished off with some tricep dips and side planks and walked home. I usually run but my legs refused!

When I got home I had a nice hot bath with my favourite Liquid Yoga bath soak followed by a pot of CO YO mixed with some lemon juice and lemon zest. It reminds me of lemon meringue pie…and is a perfect post without treat.

So, I’ve had another great day. I’ve eaten around 1500 calories again but burnt 500 during my run and 400 at the gym – leaving me well under my calorie allowance. I think I may be hungry again tomorrow so will plan a nice big breakfast. I’m thinking protein pancakes! Yum!

And squeeze….

Pelvic floor exercises are big news for pregnant women and beyond. I’m still doing mine and Lacie is coming up to seven months – You can’t do enough.

In the early days when she was first born, I downloaded an app, called My Pff, and always did the recommended programme from the app every time I fed her. It soon became habit and when I went for my 8 week checkup with my doctor and she asked me if I was doing my pelvic floor exercises, I told her about the app and my pelvic floor schedule. She said it was a fab idea and that she would pass it on to other mums. Hopefully she did.

So what are pelvic floor exercises and why are they so important?
The pelvic floor muscles form a sling-like band that surrounds and forms the base of your vagina, anus and urethra,” explains Hugh Hanley, National Personal Training Manager at Virgin Active. “These muscles also support all your abdominal contents, and your baby will pass through them as he or she is born. Strengthening these muscles is an extremely worthwhile and important activity.”

How to do Pelvic floor exercises: 
1.       Gradually tighten the muscles that you use if you want to stop the flow of urine when going to the toilet.
2.       Try to do it without holding your breath, squeezing your buttocks together,
3.       Hold the squeeze for several seconds and then relax slowly.
4.       Now pull the muscles up tight and fast. Then relax. Then tighten them quickly again. Use clenching and opening your fist as a visual tool to help you imagine the movement.

When I’m doing moves like glute bridges in the gym, I always make sure I  pause at the top to engage my pelvic floor or when I’m doing squats I make sure I ‘zip’ up at the top to get that engagement. You can also do them whilst watching the TV, cleaning your teeth, or reading this post (try and stop yourself!) You really can’t do too many. Now off you go…squeeze!!!

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Top tips for training while pregnant

As a Journalist, I get to talk to some really interesting experts so I had to share these pregnancy  tips for training while pregnant from Hugh Hanley, National Personal Training Manager at Virgin Active. 
I’ve been a member of Virgin Active for over 10 years now, I love their Bromley gym, which is literally minutes from my house. I got so much support when working out there whilst pregnant. The personal trainers were always encouraging and telling me I looked fab, even though I felt like a whale.
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I can’t stress how glad I am that I stayed active throughout my whole pregnancy, and would definately do it again if I ever had another child. It made more energetic, happier and often put a stop to my morning sickness. It stopped me piling on unnecessary weight too! 

Here are some top tips from Hugh, which should help you to exercise safely when you’re expecting….

·         Drink plenty of fluids, before, during and after any exercise, and avoid overheating. Be sure to always warm-up and cool down

·         Wear loose fitting clothing, and comfortable non slip supportive shoes.

·         Keep your heart rate under 140 beats per minute

·         Past the first trimester, avoid exercising flat on your back – the weight of your uterus reduces the blood and oxygen flow to your baby.

·         During aerobic exercise, you will find that you have less oxygen available, so lower the intensity of your normal routine.

·         Your metabolism speeds up during pregnancy, so remember to eat a well-balanced diet.

·         Your body produces a hormone called relaxin during pregnancy. This hormone softens joints and ligaments to make the birth process easier, so be careful not to overextend joints that may result in injury

·         Do pelvic floor exercises every day and you’ll help keep your back and spine strong, flatten your tummy post birth, and alleviate the problems with bladder and bowel control that are common after childbirth. 

“Lastly make sure you listen to your body and if at any time during exercise you feel extremely fatigued, faint, dizzy, lightheaded or clammy, stop exercising and cool down,” says Hugh.
“The key tip here is that you need to listen to your body and based on what your body’s telling you, figure out a level of activity that works for you.”

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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.

ugi

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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