Personal Training sessions

I’ve now had a few weeks of personal training sessions with Ben Hope (MSc Physical Activity, Nutrition and Health Performance, BTEC ND in Sport (Performance) and BSc Sport Science and Personal Training) and I am already starting to feel the difference.

Ben has completed half marathons and a marathon. Currently he is training in Strong Man Competitions and completed his first competition in November 2016 in which he finished 3rd. Knowing that Ben has completed a marathon before gives me great confidence that he is conditioning me in the right way to achieve my marathon goal.

ben-and-i

My sessions currently consist of the following exercises:

  • High box barbell squats
  • Mid rack pulls
  • Static lunges
  • Shoulder elevated glute bridges
  • Wide leg presses
  • Slow tempo leg curls
  • Slow temp leg extensions

If you pop over to the TredFlex website, on their social media channels you can check out a short video of Ben putting me through my paces with some lunges. My legs certainly know once I’ve completed a workout and Ben has taught me the best warm up and after session stretches to help prevent injury and aid recovery. These have been incredibly useful as I’ve had issues with my right hip in the past and the warm ups and stretches are definitely helping in loosening it up.

leg-press

Ben wants to add some hill sessions in my running training. These will consist of hill jogs, lunges, sprints, high knees and some interval work too. We should have started these sessions already but unfortunately I’ve had some irritation with the ligaments in my left foot causing me a fair bit of discomfort and has restricted my running this week.

I went to see Rachel Perkins, Sports Therapist at Painful Locations based in Thrapston just to have my foot checked over and thankfully there is no serious damage. Rachel gave my foot a good massage and has taped it up to give it some support. She also recommended using magnesium oil on the affected area and is going to show me how I can tape my foot up myself so that I can always have it supported while I’m running.

The irritation is likely to have been caused by me upping the mileage of late. At the weekend I completed two laps of Brixworth Country Park/Pitsford Reservoir for the first time which was a total of 13.5 miles! This is the longest distance I have ever achieved and is a good mileage to be at with 3 months still to go. I’m therefore not too annoyed about having to rest up for a bit and will be out again for an hour run on Sunday to see if the support is doing it’s job and whether I’m still getting any pain. Fingers crossed I will be ok, if not, I might be side-lined for a little longer.

Not only is Ben assisting with my physical training he is also helping to manage my diet too with some really useful nutritional advice. I’m now trying to include more protein in my diet and as my mileage increases I will be piling in the carbs too. I never knew how difficult it is to increase protein intake and using an app like MyFitnessPal has been instrumental in helping me follow a structured food diary.

Ben is based out of the Nene Centre in Thrapston, if you would like to speak to Ben about how he could help you achieve your goals, whether it be running a marathon like me or general overall fitness and nutritional advice, you can contact him on Facebook – Health, Fitness and Performance @HFPBenHope, on Twitter @HFPptbhope or telephone him on 01832 734090.

barbell-squats

I’m now in touching distance of reaching 75% of my target. I’m hoping that another cake sale at work which is taking place at the start of February will take me beyond this milestone. If you would like to help me reach this milestone sooner you can now donate by texting the code SSLM84 and the amount e.g. £5 to 70070 or through my Just Giving page. All proceeds go directly to Meningitis Research Foundation, thank you!

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Festive fundraising!

December has really been an excellent month for fundraising! I announced in my last blog post that I now have a partnership with TredFlex as my exclusive corporate sponsorship and they have donated £350 to the cause (they also currently have a sale on, 25% off their whole range so check it out here!). Read on to learn more about my festive fundraising that have helped to raise great amounts of money.

The Kettering ASDA store very kindly let me pot collect in-store on a Saturday leading up to Christmas. This was hugely successful and I was overwhelmed by the generosity of complete strangers who in the 5 hours I was at the store helped raise £162.20! A massive thank you has to go to Liz Packwood the store community champion for her help in booking me into the store and also for donating a tub of Celebrations for my Christmas hamper. Liz is going to try and book me back into the store in the New Year which would be really handy for raising more money.

asda-potBecause my work colleagues have been so fab with supporting me through my fundraising and training effort so far with their kind words of support, donations and for providing cakes for my cake sale, I thought it would be nice to put together a small festive hamper raffle for them to have a chance to win some great goodies while also helping to raise funds in the process. The hamper included a tub of Celebrations; a bottle of Prosecco; mince pies; selection box; Toblerone; biscuits; hot chocolate; Christmas mug, slate and cushion; and a candle. Interest was extremely high and raffle tickets sold thick and fast. In total £122 was raised and the lucky winner of the hamper was Ed Norris. He was over the moon and also very kindly donated the food items to the food bank collection we run at work. It was great to know that people in need would also be benefitting from the hamper and it really was a lovely Christmassy gesture from Ed. Thanks again to all my work colleagues who bought a raffle ticket, it really is much appreciated.

xmas-hamperSo with all the fundraising this month and with a Christmas donation from Chris Wykes and my sister Kelly, my total is incredibly healthy and sits at £1,474.20 which is 73%!! There are more fundraising plans in motion with another work cake sale probably at the end of January when people feel ready to eat cake again after the Christmas junk fest; hopefully another pot collection at ASDA and last but not least there are also plans for a gig night and raffle sometime in the next couple of months.

With the New Year just round the corner I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported me in 2016 and to wish you all a very happy 2017. The next 4 months are going to be incredibly tough on the training front as the mileage starts to creep up. What makes the training easier is the knowing that I’ve helped raise so much money for a great cause, so if you would like to help me reach my target of £2,000 please donate to Meningitis Research Foundation through my Just Giving page, thank you!

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Welcome TredFlex!

I am delighted and extremely excited to announce that my fundraising and training will receive a huge boost thanks to receiving exclusive corporate sponsorship from a local Northamptonshire based men’s footwear company called TredFlex!

Owned and managed by Simon and Lindsey Robertson, TredFlex has been designed and developed within the U.K., providing premium men’s leather footwear that utilises a unique and advanced technology system which gives the wearer ultimate comfort for all day wear. Their aim is to provide premium leather footwear which is stylish and comfortable at a price tag you can afford. The brand TredFlex comes with a wealth of experience ranging over 50 years. Simon’s father, Dale, began his career at SATRA in Kettering, renowned worldwide for footwear testing and compliance. He progressed within the footwear industry initially with local British companies such as Chamberlain Phipps and further moving on into sales Director positions at both Groococks and Abbeyvogue before finally setting up his own business, Suri Shoes, with an overseas manufacturer in 2000.

Simon joined the business in 2002 and following the retirement of Dale runs the UK sales and design offices based in Mawsley. Lindsey joined in 2010 after spending 12 years in recruitment, sales and development and now manages all things TredFlex. TredFlex launched its ecommerce site in February 2016, having previously only been available in independents via their wholesaler. With the launch of the ecommerce site the individual as well as retail stockist can now purchase directly online. They offer free delivery plus FREE returns taking the fear and risk out of online shopping.

I’ve known Simon a little while now through going to the same gym as him and I also joined his team for the Iron Run back in September. Simon has helped give me a few tips and tricks with my training in the gym with some exceptionally tough kettlebell sessions, which have been incredibly useful with my strengthening.

TredFlex has very generously donated £350 to my cause. This has helped me surpass 50% of my target, which now currently sits at a very satisfying £1,154! What a great early Christmas present! I’m absolutely over the moon about reaching the half way point with my fundraising.

The support from TredFlex doesn’t stop there. Not only have they helped support MRF directly with their donation, they will also be supporting me with my training by funding a personal trainer to help whip me into the best shape possible. These sessions will start in January, all ready to work off the festive binging! This is an incredibly kind yet brutal offer from TredFlex! I will be working with Ben Hope who is a superb Personal Trainer who I have often seen push people to their limits in the gym and I’m confident his knowledge and expertise will be incredibly beneficial in me succeeding to reach the finish line. Like they say no pain no gain and I’m sure there will be plenty of pain but it will be so worth it!

You will soon be able to see me out and about running or in the gym in TredFlex sponsored sports tees and while I’m not running my feet will be resting in the comfort of some TredFlex Chelsea boots. They are a beaut of a shoe in gorgeous cognac brown and look super stylish. Most importantly the fit is snug, leather quality is top notch and comfort factor is extremely high with memory foam insoles which are like wearing pillows on your feet!

tredflex-boots

I can’t thank TredFlex enough for their support. It really is much appreciated and even in the early days of our partnership they have gone above and beyond. Keep an eye out for plenty of activities that we will be doing together including video blog updates straight from the gym or while I’m out on a run! Together we hope to spread the word about my marathon run far and wide so I can smash my target for MRF. You will be able to find all the updates on my blog and in TredFlex’s newsletter where you can be the first in the know of their latest news, offers, ranges and all things TredFlex so sign up on their website so you don’t miss out! You can also check out their fantastic range of men’s footwear too while you are there and also in the New Year I will be including a page on my blog site dedicated to TredFlex so please keep an eye out for that!

As Christmas is just around the corner please help make it extra special by donating to my London Marathon fundraising for MRF through my Just Giving page, thank you!

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Month off

In my last blog post I mentioned that I had suffered a slight calf strain. This happened when I was enjoying a lovely wet run around Brixworth Country Park on mile 6 with only 700 metres left of the circuit. Annoyed doesn’t come close to how I felt after this run. I can maybe expect my calf to tighten up on mile 1 or 2 if I haven’t warmed up properly but not on mile 6. I had been injury free for over 5 months and in this time have put my legs through quite a few challenges including a Tough Mudder, Desborough 10K, Tough Mudder Half and an Iron Run. Extremely frustrating!

I did go get my calf checked out through a sports therapist I’ve seen before who is incredibly good (Painful Locations based in Thrapston). Thankfully, there was no serious damage and largely just tightness but with the many calf strains I’ve had before in my left calf, there is a weakness in the junction point of the muscle. It’s going to be one of those niggles I’m going to have to work through and hope that my calf behaves itself till after the marathon.

After over a week of rest I managed a half hour jog round the streets of Rothwell and everything was looking promising with no tightness. Then at the following weekend I went for split session of walking and jogging. After 10 minutes of walking I started a light jog only to feel within 2 minutes my calf start tightening again. It was then that I decided to take the whole of November off running so my calf could rest and heal properly. I’ve never been very good at giving the appropriate amount of time for recovery but if I’m going to manage to train effectively for the marathon I really need to start listening to my body better.

I’m now half way through November and I’ve felt no tightness for a good two weeks which is great news. I’ve been making sure I’m using a roller on my legs often and stretching out lots. I’ve also been working incredibly hard at the gym to strengthen my glutes and hamstrings so that when I’m running they will help take the impact away from my calves. Big thanks to Simon Robertson for showing me some great kettlebell squats (they hurt like a bitch but its well worth it) and generally helping to improve my gym sessions with some excellent routines. My legs are feeling much stronger already and I’m still getting in some good cardio sessions even though I’m not running. But boy do I miss running, which is probably a good sign considering it will soon take over my life! I’m so eager to get out and see if my strengthening sessions have paid off but I said I’m not running for a month and I’m sticking to it. I’ve plenty of time to work on increasing my mileage and I’m confident I will meet my target of being at 10-12 miles by February where I will then be concentrating on a 10 week marathon training programme.

Enough about injury and training and now on to fundraising. A huge thank you has to go out to my wife, Nicola for her superb effort of selling lots of beautiful Christmas themed snowflake earrings (there are about 5 sets left if you are interested). She has raised well over £300 which helps take my total to a very healthy £758 which is 37% of my target. It has also been confirmed that I will be having a bucket collection at ASDA Kettering on Saturday 10 December so please come and say hi and donate any of your loose change 😉 I’ve also put together a small festive hamper which includes a bottle of Prosecco; mince pies; selection box; Toblerone; biscuits; hot chocolate; Christmas mug, slate and cushion; and a candle. Expect raffle tickets to go on sale at the start of December!

snowfalke-earrings

Lastly, I’m looking for any businesses or organisations for corporate sponsorship. I will get training tops produced with the company logo on and any other details for when I’m working out in the gym and out running too. I will also advertise the company through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you are interested in this then please contact me or leave a comment and we can have a chat about it 🙂

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Work cake sale

Wow what can I say, a very impressive cake sale was held at work this week with a few cakes left to sell on the following day too.  A grand total of £245 was raised through sales and donations, which was a great deal more than I expected, so as you can imagine I’m pretty chuffed!

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I can’t thank those that baked and provided cakes enough, it really means a lot to me that there is so many people who want to help my cause.  Here is a list of who helped provide cakes and what they made/provided:

  • Nicola Sannerude – Lemon drizzle slices, chocolate chip cookies and cherry swirl biscuits
  • Judith Alix – Chocolate brownie cakes
  • Louise Morfitt’s mother – Lemon drizzle cake
  • Louise Spolton – A selection of fresh cream cakes
  • Angela Hook – Fruit cake
  • Ian Fletcher – Carrot and walnut cake
  • Lucy and Isabel Hawes – Cheese scones and British salted butter
  • Jane Stanhope – Chocolate cake and carrot cake cupcakes
  • Linda Jones – Cherry bakewells, lemon slices, coffee cake and blackcurrant sundaes
  • Giovanna Bezzina – Salted peanut millionaires
  • Amy and Alison Northwood – Mini Victorian sandwich cakes

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As you can see there was a LOT of cake and biscuits!  All so very delicious and a shame I couldn’t try them all.  I also provided a fun game of guessing 6 random and exotic Kit-Kat flavours. Basically, my friend Katie lives in Japan and when I was visiting last year I was on a quest to try as many different flavoured Kit-Kats as possible. As a wedding gift Katie sent over some more flavours I had never tried before and so I thought it would be a perfect game to have as part of my cake sale. It went down really well and some colleagues did pretty well at guessing the flavours and the highest was 4 out of 6. It was pretty hilarious seeing people’s reactions to a few of the flavours which were pretty horrific and weird – Japanese Sake, Wasabi and purple sweet potato flavours!

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My total is now just over £400 which is 20% of my target! Still a long way to go but I’m confident I will hit my target. On the training front I’ve taken a hit with a slight calf strain which is giving me a lot of tightness in my right calf at the moment. This will prevent me from running for a few weeks but thankfully it is nothing too serious and I can still do some strengthening exercises after I’ve rested it this week.

If anyone wishes to support my cause by running their own cake sale at their work place please let me know by leaving a comment, as I can help with advice and have some MRF literature and balloons. Also, if anyone wishes to donate directly they can do here. Thank you!

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The Iron Run

Two weeks ago I did a Tough Mudder Half and felt pretty good after it, even boasting that it was way too easy when compared to a normal Tough Mudder. A friend at the gym mentioned that he was doing the Iron Run at Cranford with a few of his friends and that got me thinking that it would be good fun to join them.

I thought with the Iron Run being 4km more than the Tough Mudder Half at 12km that it would be an ideal progression with my training. I honestly thought it would be fairly easy going, though it did state there would be 40 obstacles which the Tough Mudder Half only had 14. In hindsight I have to admit I was so very wrong. The Iron Run was even tougher than a regular Tough Mudder let alone a Half. It might be a good 3-5 miles less in distance but the terrain was the real killer.

The course started off quite casually. There was plenty of running which was aided by the weather being dry and quite mild for the start of October. The hardest obstacle I faced on the first half of the course was climbing a rope to ring a bell. They were much more natural, smaller scaled obstacles than you find at a Tough Mudder. Lots of clambering over things, wading through muddy bogs and there was a really good obstacle which stung the eyes when we had to jump over 3 small and smoky fire pits.

Come half way we had demolished 6k in about an hour and we were then confronted with a massive 150ft waterslide. Boy was this awesome! Like a bullet you traversed the slide and shot off it into ridiculously cold water. It was like plunging in the Tough Mudder Arctic Enema skip full of ice but thankfully not as bad, as you could wade out of the pit pretty quickly. At this point in the course the weather decided to take a change for the worse and typically the heavens opened. I was already wet so wasn’t too bothered and literally the next obstacle was to swim across a small lake so there was no time to dry off anyway. Just like the water at the bottom of the waterslide the lake was freezing cold. Controlled breathing all the way helped and I was grateful to get out the other side and start running again. The only problem was, was that for the next 3km it was obstacle after obstacle, huge slippery hill after huge slippery hill, mud swamp after mud swamp and with the constant rain you didn’t stand a chance of warming back up. After crawling through a pitch black tunnel/trench type of thing and clambering up out of it my left calf got cramp!

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Thankfully after some stretching it eased and luckily the final stretch of the course had more running and I finally warmed up again. The wet conditions meant one of the obstacles, some balance beam planks, were way too slippery to do and the monkey bars were a complete failure too with me only getting to the second rung. The wet conditions also hindered the final obstacle where the middle, taller section of a half pipe, was barricaded off due to an unfortunate accident with someone slipping and knocking themselves out! Ouch!

The team made it through thankfully unscathed and did it in pretty good time too (just over 2 and a half hours). We all thoroughly enjoyed it but agreed that the course would have been better if the obstacles weren’t so congested in the middle of the course and were more spread out. I guess having it the way they did was their plan to make it tougher which definitely worked. Would I do another Iron Run? I’m not sure. I really enjoyed the challenge but I can’t see the course changing much so I think I would rather try another obstacle course race. I’ve another Tough Mudder lined up for May next year but the plan might be to do a Wolf Run in June too. I know for sure that I won’t be doing another obstacle course before the marathon and will now be fully concentrating on road/park running to up the mileage. That’s the plan anyway and I’ve purchased an annual car parking pass at Brixworth Country Park so I’ve no excuse in getting over there as often as I can to run the reservoir circuit.

ir1I also now need to concentrate on my fundraising. I’ve had contact yesterday from ASDA in Kettering so it’s looking very likely that I will be bag packing in store within the next couple of months and on the 19th of this month I’m running a cake sale at work. A couple of work colleagues also had a good idea for a Madonna marathon party to help raise funds so hopefully that will come into fruition too. Don’t forget if you wish to support me with my fundraising efforts you can make a donation here. Thank you 🙂

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Tough Mudder Half

On Saturday (17/09/16) I took part in my first Tough Mudder Half at Holbush Farm in Horsham. I have done 3 full Tough Mudder’s in the past, with the most recent being back in May, and I really wanted to add the white headband to my collection so I signed up to do an Half event. It was also the perfect opportunity for my sister’s husband-to-be, Steve to experience a shorter Tough Mudder before maybe doing a full one next year.

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The Half events are just over 5 miles with 14 obstacles rather than 10-12 miles and over 25 obstacles for a full Tough Mudder. It was an ideal distance for me while I get back in to the swing of my training. The good thing with the Half event is that you don’t get plunged into ice cold skips or get electrocuted which is always bonus. There is still plenty of mud though!

We set out on the course at around 9.15am and unfortunately the weather was a bit grim compared to the stunning sunshine we had been getting earlier on in the week. It was a lot cooler and overcast, with a slight drizzle of rain at times. This made for some incredibly boggy and slippery pathways, especially through the woodland areas. Thankfully, I had my Merrell off-trail trainers on which were incredible. I didn’t slip once and the grip on the obstacles was also superb.

Usually when I do a Tough Mudder I’m in a group of quite a few friends which makes getting over certain obstacles like Hero Walls a lot easier. With just me and Steve I thought we might struggle but of course there was always another participant willing to help us out. That’s what I love about Tough Mudder’s, everyone helps each other and it’s all about teamwork rather than being a race.

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I was really impressed with Holbush Farm as a location. The woodland areas were beautiful and a little eerie too and just like at Belvoir Castle there was quite a big open area with multiple obstacles which made it great for spectators to watch.

I was pleased with the range of obstacles the Half event offered but felt that it needed a couple more of the fear inducing obstacles like Cage Crawl and either Cry Baby or Birth Canal. It did, however, include signature favourites like Kiss of Mud, Mud Mile and Everest. Also, the recent addition of Block Ness Monster made an appearance which is a personal favourite of mine as it really encourages teamwork. You are basically waist deep in water with a large square rotating block which you have to jump up on while other people help push the block up, when you get to half way over the best method is to carry on hanging on to help pull the block down so the next people (now on the other side of the block) can jump on as the block as it rotates around. It’s a really well crafted obstacle and gives you a great level of satisfaction on completion.

Everest was also ridiculously slippery and my wife and sister, who were spectating, saw some nasty accidents with broken noses and some poor women breaking her front teeth. After managing to conquer Everest and helping others up it I did witness a young girl smack her cheekbone badly, which looked awfully painful. Fortunately there was a paramedic nearby to support her. These incidents do remind you that any Tough Mudder whether a full or half one shouldn’t be taken lightly. They have a waiver form you need to sign for a reason! I was lucky enough to come off with only the normal cuts and scrapes to my knees and also a killer huge bruise on my elbow after my first attempt at Everest ended in failure!

Now a couple of days after, my upper body aches, especially my shoulders after all the climbing and pulling people up and over obstacles. My legs feel great and don’t even feel like they have had a work out. After finishing the course and claiming my white headband and bottle of cider I really felt like I could have gone round it again which is definitely a good sign. I’m even being crazy enough to consider doing the IronRun, another mud obstacle run, in a couple of weeks in Cranford which is very close to where I live. This event is more challenging than the Tough Mudder Half with a course that is over 12K with around 40 obstacles. I do find mud runs incredibly addictive but if I do agree to do it, it will be the last one before the marathon as I don’t want to risk injuring myself and not having enough time to recover.

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To finish, this week is also Meningitis awareness week so please help spread the word by following Meningitis Research Foundation on Twitter (@M_R_F) and retweeting their tweets and using the hashtag #MRFAwarenessWeek. Of course you can also help by donating to the charity which you can do via my JustGiving page found here. Your support is always much appreciated so thank you!

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