Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

Cheating on my blog:

“No posts since the marathon? Who does he think he is?” … I hear you say.

Well that’s because I’ve been whoring myself out to Triathlete’s World for the last few weeks. Check out the TW Relay Team articles here and read about me failing to hit my training targets (on a much better website).

Triathlete's World

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REVIEW: My Fitness Instructor

BMF My Fitness InstructorLast year the kind people at BMF (British Military Fitness) got in touch and offered me a free session with one of their military instructors. My conclusion was that it was a fantastic workout, a great atmosphere and very fairly priced. But if the weather was half as bad as it has been lately, I might as well have thrown that money away. My 3-year tenure in the South has turned me into a soft-as-sh*te, cold hater.

A chap called Jon, who also runs a blog called My Big Fat Geek Running, emailed me just before the launch of the BMF iPhone app, My Fitness Instructor. His blog is a cross between losing weight and promoting the iPhone app, which launched on Friday 26th March. Jon kindly offered me a chance to review it.

My Fitness Instructor is a premium application that allows you to fit your own little BMF instructor right in your pocket. Instead of paying the price of a gym membership every month, you can splash out £5.99 and choose when and where you do your own workouts.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The World Won’t Let Me Train!

Snow in BlackheathI’m writing this post from the comfort of my bed this week. A culmination of the cold weather, over doing it at Christmas and marathon training have resulted in a sustained period of man-flu and (eventually) two days off work.

After my doctor basically told me to stop being an idiot, stop training, take some paracetamol and go to bed, I’m now halting my marathon training until I’m back up to full strength.

It’s a tough little conundrum. Like last year, I’ve taken on a 16-week training plan for this year’s marathon. Some don’t think that’s enough but 5-6 runs a week for 4 months will do me plenty.

I’d kept up a fairly decent 10k pace before beginning my training so it wasn’t too much of a shock to the system once starting. But how in the name of all that is holy am I supposed to train in the worst snow Britain has seen for decades, not get a cold and have any chance of beating my time last year?!

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Preparing for that long run:

Dust off those trainersBe honest, how many of you have thought about entering a marathon, confident in your mind that it doesn’t look that hard? If a 101 year-old plumber can trot around drinking beer and still finish, then what’s stopping you, right?

Cut to two months later. You have your place, you’ve got your new trainers and you’re about to go on your first long-distance run. Off you go…

3 hours later, you stumble home; pale, knackered, nipples bleeding and chafing so bad that you look like you’ve won first place in a John Wayne look-a-like competition. Slumped on your sofa you think to yourself, what went wrong?

A common mistake in training for a long-distance run is starting too strong too soon. Prepare well and you should have no trouble achieving your goals.

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REVIEW: Lausanne Half Marathon

Lausanne MarathonEvery October since 1992, the city of Lausanne, Switzerland plays host to the Lausanne Marathon. With over 10,000 participants, and a number of different races on the day, the event is set over one of the most stunning backdrops in the world, Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps.

There are 9 different events to choose from on the day. Obviously the main event is a full marathon, but also available to participate in is a quarter marathon, 10km walk, ‘mini’ races for children and a handcyles half marathon. However, the most popular distance (with over 3000 more entrants than the full marathon) is the half marathon.

The starting point is a 20 minute train journey away from the finish line, in La Tour-de-Peilz, a cool 13.1 miles away. Handily, your running number is your train fare, but the train runs almost side-by-side with the running route, painfully showing you just how far you have to run to reach the finish line back in Lausanne.

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REVIEW: British Military Fitness

BMF3

It’s the same story for anyone with a gym membership. You have the tools around you to get fitter but if you workout on your own are you really going to push yourself that little bit further? You know you’d achieve much better results if you had a personal trainer, but after a little research you find that your bank balance will be the only thing getting a workout!

This weekend I attended a class that poses a possible solution to the problem. Each Saturday (or most Saturdays) when I begin my early morning run in Greenwich Park, I’ll pass a bunch of people wearing coloured bibs, usually led by a burly bloke in camouflaged trousers shouting and screaming. These are the British Military Fitness classes.

The British Military Fitness (BMF) classes are the UK’s leading outdoor fitness provider. They are led by a qualified instructor (all of whom have a military background) and each class consists of a one-hour session of exercises that will push you to your absolute limits.

BMF2

When I turned up at 9am to start the class on Saturday morning I had a chat with one of the instructors about my basic level of fitness. I explained that I’d run the marathon back in April and that I was a regular gym goer. This turned out to be an error as he threw me straight into the intermediate class. The classes are broken up into the groups; beginner (blue bibs), intermediate (red bibs) and advanced (green bibs).

Donning my red bib, we immediately started off with a 10-minute warm up and jogged off into Greenwich park. This was focused on getting the heart rate up and consisted of plenty of running exercises (short sharp bursts of speed with rapid changes in direction) and a lot of movement (designed to get the muscles adequately stretched). Because the group was so large (roughly 40 people) we were split up into two. I later found out that the instructors had decided the groups based on what they had seen from you in the warm-ups and tiered them slightly. Apparently I was lower-tier material, which was probably about right.

Our group was led off further around the park, stopping at different points to perform a batch of exercises before moving on. These exercises are largely based on building your core muscle groups. All the instructors have to work with is the park and your body. There are no weights or special tools so the exercises use your own body-weight against you. There were plenty of press-ups, sit-ups and squat exercises during the course of the hour.

One of the best elements of the class is the camaraderie between those attending. Most people (especially the new starters like myself) were initially quite quiet and timid. This really didn’t last long as you’re thrown into exercises with partners. Everyone there was fantastic. I had 5 or 6 different partners throughout the course of the hour and each one of the them was vigorous and encouraging. Considering they were strangers this was incredibly refreshing, especially in a city where the only words you’ll utter to someone you don’t know are “2 pints of lager please”.

They do try to pair you off with someone of similar size and weight. During one exercise we were required to push against one another in an effort to force your opponent over an imaginary line between you. The chap I was paired off with gave me a little wink, said “I’m a rugby player”, dug his heels in and launched me backwards! I reckon I’ll ‘av him after a few more classes.

Overall these classes are an excellent way of staying in shape. Coupled with a running schedule, the BMF would be an ideal way of training for an upcoming race and, based on how I’m feeling today (three days after the class), I’d imagine you’d shed some serious pounds. For the price of a gym membership you can attend these classes as many times a week as you’d like. I’d honestly recommend these classes to anyone. Everyone is incredibly friendly (a few members took me out for a coffee afterwards) and I was in no way made to feel intimidated. Your first class is free and there’s no obligation to sign up if it’s not for you.

The only negative feedback I can report from the day is the lack of water breaks. It was pretty warm on the weekend and we only stopped twice for a quick gulp of water. Considering the intensity of the workout, I didn’t feel that this was enough. Also, I’m not sure I’d have enjoyed the session if the weather hadn’t been so good. Winter is only around the corner…

BMF1

Sir Win A Lot

Like what you’ve heard? Well the team at British Military Fitness are kindly giving away one month’s free membership to the BMF classes to 5 lucky SJAL readers! The courses are based all over the UK and, if you’re a winner*, you can select any BMF venue you’d like to attend.

You can enter in one of two ways. Either…

  1. Post a message on Twitter by clicking this link or…
  2. Answer the following question:

Which BMF class was I put in during my introductory session?

A. Beginner

B. Intermediate

C. Advanced

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED

*Winners will be contacted either by email or Twitter and announced on 1st September. Your email address will in no way be distributed to third parties.

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REVIEW: JPMorgan Corporate Challenge

JPMorgan Corporate ChallengeIf you’re a gym-goer who lives in a major city across the globe (London, New York, Frankfurt, Sydney, Singapore or many others), you’ll have undoubtedly seen someone wearing a white t-shirt with ‘JPMorgan Corporate Challenge’ written on the front. If you’re really lucky you may have even spotted someone wearing one that fits them.

On the rare occasion that you actually spot a shirt that hugs the biceps and doesn’t flap around in the air conditioning from your local gym then go over, shake that person’s hand and ask them if they’d like a running partner. The likelihood is that this person has finished the JPMorgan CC in under 24 minutes.

Every year business moguls in their thousands turn up to one of their city’s finest parks to run the JPMorgan Corporate Challenge, an event now over 30 years old and so popular that it boasts nearly a quarter of a million entrants each year across the globe. Part of its popularity is probably down to the length of the race; a manageable 3.5 miles. This gives even the hardest working city trader time to put down his or her Blackberry a couple of times a week to train.

If you’re lucky enough to get a place then the first question you’ll be asked is whether or not you think you can run 3.5 miles in under 21 minutes. If you think you can then you’ll be given a red sticker and, on arrival, you’ll be ushered to the front of the line to be given a relatively clear run to the finish. If you don’t then be prepared for an elbow-jousting scrap for one square-foot of asphalt at every other step.

The start...

The London event is hosted at the beautiful Battersea Park and is a utter schmooze-fest. If you’re a client of one of the corporate giants attending then you’ll be in for plastic glasses and private portaloos. If not, feel free to be intimidated by the size of another company’s hospitality tent and get in the queue for the sub-£5 million-a-year toilets.

It’s a very crowded race once you’ve managed to get over the start line so don’t be expecting to be beating any PBs. You’ll be lucky to get under a minute over your usual time (the London race actually ground to a halt during one bottle-necked corner). The atmosphere makes up for this though. Each year all companies compete in a t-shirt competition and this makes for an interesting read as you progress (this year’s London event was won by Tudor Capital). There’s also an award for the fastest ‘most senior executive’ and, as you can imagine, an incredible amount of money is raised for causes across the globe ($600,000 to charities and even more for not-for-profit organisations).

At the end you’ll get the fabled JPMCC t-shirt and if you’re quick enough, you’ll get one in your size! Wear it with pride.

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