As a Personal Trainer, I spend my life coaching and training fitness, health, and wellbeing, and I love every day; helping my clients through the inevitable disappointments and rejoicing in all of their achievements. It doesn’t feel like work.
But, sometimes in the ‘busyness’ of life, it’s easy to lose track of my own training and fitness goals, and suffering an injury will blow anyone off course. Last year, in the middle of Half Marathon training, my old ‘nemesis’, Achilles tendonitis, struck again. It put an end to my goal of running the Royal Parks Half Marathon in London at the beginning of October – an event which has been an enjoyable fitness milestone for me for over 6 years. It was a crushing disappointment.
Coming back from injury can be a long and frustrating road, but I found a fantastic Physiotherapist to help me, I’d created a solid training plan, and I also decided not to attempt the Half Marathon distance in 2017. Instead, I wanted to concentrate on getting back to 10K, and improving my time over that distance. I formulated a nutrition plan to optimise performance. I recorded each training session, and completed a daily food diary; For the first time in a long time, I treated myself as a client, and it was fun, rewarding, very effective and I felt great with more energy than I’d had in a long time.
My fitness schedule consisted of running 3 days a week concentrating on form whilst building time and distance slowly. On non-running days, my focus was stretching and working on strength and posture using bodyweight exercises such as press ups, planking, lunges, squats, mountain climbers and burpees – combining them all for a killer 5 minute ‘anytime, anyplace anywhere’ workout which could be done many times throughout the day.
My nutrition consisted of slow release carbohydrates on the day before my runs, and high quality proteins and ‘good’ fats on the day of my runs. I reduced my caffeine intake, and drank more water. I reduced my sugar intake to a minimum and cooked from scratch rather than buying ready meals.
Here’s What the 8 Week challenge did for me:
- My Running Has Improved
I started running faster without consciously ramping up my speed. I had more energy and could go longer distances more consistently. I achieved my 10K target 4 weeks into the challenge, and it felt great. My stride felt stronger, and my breathing was more even and composed. So much seemed to have changed in a relatively short space of time, and exercises such as burpees and mountain climbers, which target every major muscle in the body as well as working the cardio pulmonary system were helping to make my running easier.
- I Have More Energy
Before the challenge, there had been many days when I’d felt unreasonably tired. I’d tried to compensate with endless cups of tea, and coffee in an attempt to pep me up. Tiredness and lack of energy became another reason for embarking on my challenge. Exertion such as running and burpees release endorphins, which give us the boost we need to get through our day, and they remain in our system to leave us feeling energised hours after a workout.
- I Have Lost Weight
Before starting my challenge, I’d felt some pounds creep on and, more than being concerned about the number on the scales, my clothes were starting to feel uncomfortably snug. For over 2 weeks at the beginning of the challenge there was no slackening in my clothes, but then very slowly, it started to change. Overall, I’ve lost an inch from waist, hips and thighs and both my hydration level and lean mass have improved.
- I Feel Strong
Bodyweight exercises such burpees are an intense workout used by the military and elite athletes for a reason. I gave a daily focus to completing them, and the feeling of progression gives a sense of strength that is more than physical – it’s a mental strength and discipline that feeds into the ability to tackle each day.
This is just a snapshot of my 8 week challenge, and it’s important to say that it wouldn’t have been possible at all without the injury rehabilitation from my Physio Will Cooper.
The challenge required dedication, discipline and a lot of patience, but the results have been worth it. So much so, that here I am in week 9 still using my plan to achieve the time goal I’ve set myself for 10K.