When testimonials get out of hand…Combat Ready.

I came to Combat Ready because I needed to work on strengthening mostly my core and joints, but really everything. I have fairly lax ligaments around my knees that result in joint instability. They are most likely the result of old rugby injuries and now what I find is that they are aggravated by my current pursuit, triathlon.

My goal this year is to complete Celtman, which is an Ironman distance adventure triathlon… July 6th 2013 5am, 3.8K Swim, 202K Bike, 42K run over two Munros near Torridon and Achnasheen in the Highlands…so I need my knees and the rest of me working.

I’m a big believer in cross training. In the past I’ve used both rowing and squash to work on different aspects of my game (rugby reference). I find that triathlon is much better for me than rugby in a lot of respects. However, I don’t feel just swim, bike, run training helps me develop the muscular control needed to compensate for the laxity of my knee ligaments. In fact I often feel that when I up my distances I compensate, over relying on the more developed muscles, and as a result make my knees worse.

This is where Marcus at Combat Ready steps in. His approach is to use functional weights to develop strength and power (1). For me, and I would argue everyone, strength is really important and I don’t mean massive muscles. I’m talking about basic health (for women in particular in the case of osteoporosis, fractures, arthritis), good posture, being able to lift shopping into the car or pick up your kids without hurting yourself. If you don’t believe me check out the following article (2). Being stronger helps me avoid injuries, improves my balance and coordination (well up to a point…I’ve never quite out grown my gangly-ness), gives me more confidence and best of all makes me faster (both mentally and physically).

Initially I was a little apprehensive about training with Marcus at Combat Ready as all my previous gym experience has been being left by myself to get on with it and I wasn’t sure how comfortable I was going to be with someone watching me and telling me what to do. I also had reservations about the whole concept of a personal trainer…my previous opinion was that PTs were only for people who weren’t motivated enough to train by themselves and that PTs themselves were gym bunnies that only took qualifications so that they could spend more time working out and looking at themselves in mirrors. The mirrors also leads me to my dislike of ‘gyms’ in general with their colour coordinated corporate images and rows of pointless fixed-weight machines. Haha rant over and now for the remedy…Combat Ready.

This is not the case at Combat Ready. It is described as a bare bones gym and that is exactly what it is. No TVs and tasteful art work here. It is for people who want to work hard and get results, not those who want to have a chat with a friend while walking on a running machine and then go for a smoothie. I love it!

My other reservations proved equally unfounded as Marcus immediately inspired confidence. His knowledgeable and intelligent style gave me complete faith in his judgment and as the session progressed his mixture of chat and encouragement really motivated me to see what I was capable of, as well as helping me get over my initial self-consciousness.

Marcus has a great approach that sets high expectations and pushes you to achieve, tempered by an awareness (probably from his martial arts background) of what your limits are, so you are never pushed too far. You never feel that you are just doing repetitions for the sake of it but as part of a greater scheme. There is no redundant, obligatory number of reps just because that was what the original plan was. It is all tailored to you, whether you want to lose weight or recover from an injury (3).

In short, I cannot recommend Marcus and Combat Ready highly enough…this blog actually started off as a standard testimonial… “I really enjoy doing functional weight training with Marcus at Combat Ready…” but it has morphed into a bit of a monster. The standard phrases just didn’t seem to convey what I wanted to say. So the take away points of my rant are as follows:

  • Strength training is important for girls (you wont get big muscles but you might avoid broken bones).
  • Not all PTs are muscle bound muppets (to paraphrase).
  • I am not always right (most of the time I am though).
  • Combat Ready is unlike almost any gym you have been to and if you want to work hard and get results it is likely the place for you.
  • Marcus is a knowledgeable and motivating trainer that will help you reach your goals, if you listen and do what you’re told (I’m still working on that last one).

The usual disclaimer applies: I have an opinion on everything but am an expert in nothing so don’t take my word on it. Look into it for yourselves.

  1. http://syattfitness.com/athletic-performance/developing-explosive-strength-and-power-for-athletic-performance/
  2. http://style.uk.msn.com/health/are-women-becoming-weedy
  3. http://kravmagaedinburgh.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/training-injuries.html

Failing to prepare…

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to  fail” – Benjamin Franklin

So at the end of week 1 I’m a little disappointed. I started strong. I had a fixed plan for the beginning of the week, 2 swims, strength session at Combat Ready, a run with JCI, a spin session at Lifescycle and then I thought the rest of the week would take care of itself…not true as it turns out. I should have known better. By the end of the week lots of work had piled up, added to that were family commitments and some more work, so this is what happened…

Celtman Training Week 1

Celtman Training Week 1

I did manage to rescue the weekend a bit on Sunday but, still Friday and Saturday were completely wasted. This week requires a more proactive approach, so here we are…

Plan for Celtman Training Week 2

Plan for Celtman Training Week 2

I’m good with a plan. I think a lot of us are. You have the structure and then you fit everything around that…or you fit it around your other commitments. It just helps me to use the time I have so much better, as well as allowing me to relax. I have a tendency to get a bit wound up (understatement) when I feel I don’t have enough time…there is never enough time as far as I’m concerned, but if I have a plan the exercise becomes a relaxing escape rather then just yet another thing I have to do.

The other thing I’ve decided is that I have to put my bike on the rollers every time I want to watch anything on my iPad…so either lots more cycling or a lot less crap on TV. A win, win! And I’m sure you are also admiring my high tech laminated coloured paper with written notes…it’s very exciting. I’ve got 5 colours. Why? Well it turns out that while I love technology, I don’t find it relaxing. Especially after a week spent in front of various devices. Training has to be an escape. A place of calm and for some reason coloured paper and actually writing stuff down makes me happy. And that is what’s important 😀

Have you eaten?

This was meant to be a post reflecting how week -2 went, but it has turned in to something else. Thanks to my idiocy.

So long story short I leaned lots last night, some of it I already knew, but some of it is new.

First thing I learned was: If you have been wearing heels all day, and you’re out of practice, your lower back might be very tired, so when it comes to doing things like swinging kettle bells, it may feel like your top and bottom halves are held together by old string (and I mean the frayed, brittle stuff). FAIL

Solution: Flat shoes tomorrow and see if it makes a difference.

Second lesson (I knew this one already, but it never seems to stop me repeating it): 2 pieces of toast for breakfast and a sachet of instant porridge for lunch will not sustain you for a whole day on your feet followed by a training session. Result blood sugar dropping through the floor resulting in; stupidity (left phone at work), followed by lack of coordination (couldn’t manage to swing the kettle bells), followed by depression (I wanted to sit down on the mats in the gym and cry by 5.30pm), finished by more stupidity (I only worked out the reason when I was driving home).

Solution: EAT more you muppet!

Third lesson (I’m also aware of this): I get far to easily aggravated when I can’t do something I know I should be able to do (see kettle bell reference).

Solution: Learn previous 2 lessons and chill out…like that’s going to happen.

So yesterday’s lessons are wear flat shoes and eat more…let see if I manage it today.

The story so far…

So my previous triathlon/running experience is probably best illustrated through pictures. All the triathletes out there will realise that I will have to up my pace a bit to get round Celtman before the cutoffs…just another part of the challenge.

My first ever triathlon was a sprint event (750m OW swim, 24km bike, 5km run) at Lochore Meadows in Fife, Scotland.

Compilation of pictures of girl competing in triathlon.

Lochore Sprint Distance 2010
Overall time 1hr 40mins 16sec
Swim 17mins 4secs
Bike 53mins 23sec
Run 27mins 17sec
Position 238 out of 258 finishers and 264 competitors (still not last)

It was nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be.

Then on to Gullane for an Olympic distance (1500m sea swim, 42km bike, 10km run)…loved it! But again not as hard as I thought…no faster though 😉

Background picture of people in wetsuits running up a dune with 3 pictures inlaid of the swim, bike, run sections of the race.

Gullane Olympic Distance Triathlon 2010
Overall time 3hrs 14mins 6sec
Swim 34mins 35secs
Bike 1hr 34mins 50sec
Run 1hr 1mins 33sec
Position 148 out of 157 finishers and 163 competitors (still not last)

I still felt I could push myself a bit further after Gullane so I signed up to run the Loch Ness Marathon, for Save the Children…making the wise decision that 1month of training would be okay. It was for the first 32km, not so much for the last 10km, which took me an hour and a half…normal walking pace would have been faster, but I was successful (completed with no injuries). I count that as a win.

Girl running on road on the left, people clapping on right.

Loch Ness Marathon 2010
Overall time 5hrs 9mins 53sec
(not last)

In 2011 I pretty much had a year off (well cycled up Alpe d’Huez with the family but apart from that, not much). Did a few wee bits and pieces of training but no races, but that couldn’t continue, so I came up with a plan…and like all my plans it was good on the big picture planning by not so much on the details.

I decided I wanted to do Norseman (a bit like Celtman’s big brother, as Celtman was only a twinkle in some nutter’s eye at that point)…so in preparation I though I’d do 2 middle distance (1.93km swim, 90km bike, 21.09km rum) events in 2012, with the idea of doing the longer distance in 2013. What I’d forgotten to include in my plan was the fact that I would be volunteering for the Olympics and that that would eat into my training schedule some what, but I didn’t let that stop me.

I decided that as long as was fit enough to walk for 7-8hrs I would be able to get round the course…crazy I hear you say! That may be, but it worked.

First came Aberfeldy…straight into Loch Tay (13 degrees if we were lucky) after preparing in Hampton Court open air pool at 30 degrees…chilly!

Wetsuits, eating, cycling

Aberfeldy Middle Distance Triathlon 2012
Overall time 7hrs 22mins 33sec (no splits)
(4th last, but not last!)

Porridge for breakfast followed by jam and Nutella sandwiches were the key. I used Aberfeldy as training for the Highland Warrior…which must have worked as I knocked 15 odd minutes off my time and the conditions were much worse.

Swim bike run compilation triathlon image

Highland Warrior 2012
Overall time 7hrs 4mins 7sec
Swim 37mins 54 secs
Bike 3hrs 46mins
Run 2hrs 27mins 16 sec
Position 105 out of 112 finishers and 119 competitors (still not last)

Worst race freebee ever…a hat that covers everything with green fluff!

That brings me up to date with my triathlon experience so far. What also happened this year, that changed my mind from doing Norseman, was the introduction of Celtman to the world, with it’s inaugural race being held in the summer. The difference in the expense and the fact that I love the North of Scotland sold me straight away, so when the ballot opened back in November I was right in there…but that’s another story.

DISCLAIMER: In no way should anything I’ve done or said or written be taken as good advice. I have no professional experience in the heath and wellbeing sector and an unhealthy disregard for what people regard as good training and competing practices. So anything you do is all on you 😀 x

 

In the beginning…

So I’ve been humming and hawing about putting this type of picture up, but after a few people’s comments about what they want to see and read about in fitness and sports blogs here it is.

My reservations were not based on the picture itself…the winter coat will come off soon, and while I’m not keen on a picture of me looking pudgy in my underwear being on the internet forever…that wasn’t my issue.

My goal in doing Celtman is not to lose weight, it’s to challenge myself and to raise money for charity. I’d add to that that I’m also not a fan of the whole dieting/weight loss obsession that society seems to have, and sticking up before and after pictures seemed to be part of that thinking. However, I realised that I was just creating a drama where they was none. I was always going to do the pictures as I want to see the changes in myself and to remind myself what is achievable with hard work, so there was no real reason not to share them.

A picture will be going up at the end of each training month to see what has or hasn’t changed. I don’t have any goals in terms of weight or vital statistics, so it will just be a case of seeing what happens, an experiment if you will. I love a good experiment, don’t you?

I’m also keen to show that even without a triathlete’s physique (I have no intention of getting anywhere near the 8-15% fat of proper female triathletes) I will still be able to haul myself over a Munro as part of the run section of Celtman.

Anyway I’m just avoiding the inevitable posting of this picture…so here it is!

8 images of woman

So here are the vital statistics at the start of my challenge.