5 Reasons I’m Excited to Start Marathon Training

A few weeks ago I announced that in January 2019 I will be running my first ever full marathon. This announcement should have been the start of my training, but the universe had other ideas for me and I was struck with a knee injury that’s had me out ever since.

Fortunately, I gave myself over a year to train, so this little set back doesn’t bother me too much, and instead of starting now I’m just gonna rest, recover and prepare myself for taking the bull by the horns come January, and I’m actually starting to look forward to it more than I am dreading it! Here’s a few of the reasons why:

Carb loading

For the most part, I will be concentrating on eating as well as I can come the new year, but while I’m a firm believer in eating what you want and not having to justify food choices to anyone, I’m pretty excited for big bowls of pasta with the excuse of needing to carb-load.

Getting to be ‘that’ person

Marathon runners are kinda like vegans, pilots and people who do Crossfit* in that they tell as many people as they possibly can that they’re training for a marathon as if you’re the first person in the world to ever do one. I don’t care, its a huge deal for me so you’re damn right I’m gonna spread it like Love Island gossip. (this is already the second post I’ve talked about running a marathon in the space of a month, so there’s the proof)

*Dear vegans, pilots and people who Crossfit, please know that I’m making a joke and I have the utmost respect for all of you!

Running regularly again

Sometimes I feel like the most pathetic excuse for a runner because in the past year I have been the furthest thing from consistent. Sure, I’ve completed 3 half marathons and 3 10K races, but I’ll be the first to admit that I did those with practically no training and only a few intermittent 5K ParkRuns and the odd short distance run, and part of the reason for this is because I knew I could get away with not training. Well that’s not gonna be the case for this.. I’m gonna spend the next few weeks putting together a proper training schedule (which I thoroughly enjoy making) and sticking to it like an octopus on your face.

All the fun runs

I currently have no actual races planned for 2018, so I’m on the hunt for as many shorter distance races and fun runs that I can do to keep myself motivated through the coming year. A few on my list are Race for Life, Run or Dye and the Great South Run, and if you’ve got any recommendations please drop me a comment!

The satisfaction of a good run

When Dad and I started training for our first ever half marathon, there was nothing like the feeling of completing the next milestone both figuratively and literally. Back then it was 8 miles, or 10 miles or 12 miles, but now I’m looking forward to the feeling of doing my first ever 15, 20 and 25 milers.

I’m sure there’ll be a million and one reasons that I start dreading training too, but for now I’m concentrating on the positives! Wish me luck!

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I Can Be Body Positive While Still Wanting to Change Mine

2017 has been a huge year for body positivity. Its been at the forefront of a lot of brand campaigns, its been discussed a great deal more in the media and I’ve seen so many more people I know talking about it on social media and embracing it.

I think every girl knows what its like to hate their body. From a young age we’re faced with pressure to comply to certain body standards, and made to feel awful about ourselves if we don’t fit in. I actually remember lying about my weight when I was in primary school. That’s right, I was no older than 10 or 11 the first time I lied about my weight because I knew I weighed more than the other girls in my class and I didn’t want them to make fun of me.

I remember being nervous about going shopping with my friends when I started secondary school because I didn’t want them to see me picking up clothes that were sized larger than my age, and I remember one time, when I was finally passing my real chunky phase, feeling so happy that when my friends said I should try on a dress that I actually fit into my age/size. I wore t-shirts over bikinis at the beach when I was a teenager, especially if there were going to be boys around, and I’d always make sure I was behind the camera to ensure I was never caught in any photos.

Let’s just say, body positivity has never come easily for me, but I have never judged anyone else on their body. If I see any girl of any size doing her thing I’m like YASS GIRLLL OWN IT; I love seeing body positivity in others, and even if that person isn’t particularly body positive themselves, I’ll happily be their cheerleader.

Over the last few years, however, I have been learning to own my body. My confidence has been growing courtesy of going to the gym, getting fitter and eating better, and seeing the changes that has come from these actions. You see, I’m still trying to change my body to make it look how I’d like it to look, but that doesn’t make me any less positive. The changes that I’d like to see in my body are purely for me, because I want to feel healthier, but also because I want to love my body a little bit more, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be body positive now.

This year, for the first time ever, I posted a photo of myself in a bikini on social media. Hell, I even stood up in front of a whole bunch of people in said bikini for that photo to be taken. I’m wearing clothes I never thought I could wear because I’m more confident with my body. Yes, I’d like to be a little less squishy round the edges, but the fact is I’d be perfectly happy if my size didn’t change at all. I am body positive now, and I think you are all beautiful too.

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26.2

Guys, I’ve got an announcement to make.

Now I’m back from WDW (waa!), its time for me to get my butt back into running, not just because I’m back from holiday but because something big is coming.

I am going to run a marathon.

Yep, yikes. I have six half marathons under my belt now from the last two years, and I set myself the goal a few years back that I would like to run a marathon before I turn 25, which will be in October 2019, so although dates have not been set and registration isn’t open yet, I will be entering the Walt Disney World Marathon in January 2019.

I’m terrified. This last year I have been very relaxed with my running, and hardly trained for any of the races I’ve done, but this is double the distance and therefore a million times harder, which is why I’m giving myself over a year to train.

The distance is one thing, I mean, I’m halfway there I guess, but its the mental aspect of the marathon that’s going to take real work. Its knowing that when my GPS clocks in at the 13.1 miles that I’m used to, I then have to do the whole thing all over again. Its pushing on for hours and knowing there are still a few more hours to go.

Then comes the potential for injury. In half marathon training I faced knee problems, shin splints, and even ran a race with a stress fracture, plus all the little aches and pains that come and go. I will have to be so careful in knowing my limits and knowing when I can and can’t push further.

Basically, I’m going to be about 13.1 miles outside my comfort zone. I’ve been winging it for the last two years and have been lucky to get away with it, but now I have to be serious, do my research and be ready to push myself. Of course I’ll be documenting the good the bad and the ugly, so everyone else can get some entertainment out of me torturing myself!

Can I do it?

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Things My Personal Trainer Has Never Said

As part of my regular fitness routine, I do two 30 minute sessions with a personal trainer every week. I train with Steph not because I have to but because I enjoy it; she is as much a friend to me as she is a trainer, and she has pushed me further than I could have ever imagined.

PTs may be considered by most as paid torturers, but not only do they train hard in the gym, in order to gain their qualifications they also have to train hard and gain an incredible understanding of the human body, nutrition and training techniques, so they do really know what they’re talking about.

I’ve been training with Steph for 2 years now, and with all the wisdom she has shared with me in this time, there are some things she’s never ever said to me..

‘You can’t eat *insert here*’

Sure, a lot of personal trainers double up as nutritionalists, and many do help their clients put together meal plans and diets, but what I love about Steph is that she has never told me that there’s anything I shouldn’t be eating. Like me, she believes that treats are ok and holidays are for pigging out, and it’s so nice not having a voice in my head saying ‘you shouldn’t be eating this, what would your trainer think?’. In fact, she frequently tells me about the things that she’s eating! At the end of the day, food is fuel and if you’re still training and keeping balance, that’s all that matters.

‘You have to eat *insert here*’

As well as never restricting me, she doesn’t dictate. I get to choose what I eat, and while she’s always more than happy to offer advise when I ask for it, she lets me take the reins and learn things for myself.

‘You shouldn’t lift heavier than..’

Before I trained with Steph, I wouldn’t pick up a dumbbell heavier than about 5-6kg, and now I won’t touch anything lighter. There’s nothing she hates more than the belief that women shouldn’t lift heavy weights, and the only time she would ever stop me from going heavier is if she felt I wasn’t ready or I could risk an injury.

‘Weight gain is bad’

About every 4 weeks we do measurements. This isn’t to make me feel good/bad about myself, it’s just to track my body, and while I do get on the scales, the number doesn’t matter to her. Primarily we look at change in my actual measurements, and if the scales do go up, I’m never made to feel bad about it.

‘You shouldn’t miss a training day’

There are mornings when I wake up and I don’t feel up for training, whether it’s cos I’ve had a bad nights sleep, I’m not feeling 100% or I’m suffering from an injury. I am never told that this isn’t ok. A big part of training is understanding my body’s needs, and if it needs time off then that’s fine, and in the same way I understand that sometimes she needs days off. Missing a day or a week isn’t the be all and end all.

‘You have to get smaller’

She understands that everyone has different goals, and that not everyone goes to the gym to drastically change their body. Sure, I ultimately would like to see myself get a bit leaner, but it’s more about getting fitter and healthier, and if I don’t see any change in my body when I’m doing that then who cares?

If a professional PT has never said these things, why should anyone else?

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Why I Take Time Off From My Fitbit

In one form or another, I’ve been using Fitbits on and off for the last 4 years. I started off in 2013 with a Zip, which then had to be replaced with another Zip following an incident with the washing machine, and then when the second Zip met the same untimely demise, I went a little while without, until last year I upgraded to a higher spec device: the Charge 2.

I’ve always loved using Fitbits. I love being able to track my activity but I also find them so motivating as I’m forever wanting to hit my daily goals and targets, plus being able to log all my workouts as well as track my runs via GPS mean that I have everything I need to know in one place. I check my stats religiously, which is why sometimes I need to take time off.

Sure, its amazing when you sync your device at the end of the day and you’ve got that little green circle around all of your targets, but what about when you don’t? Sometimes its not always possible to hit every goal, you’re only human after all, but I often struggle with the disappointment if I’ve had a particularly bad day or week, and sometimes I can be a little obsessive – I’ve been known to spend 10-20 minutes walking round my bedroom in the evening because I’m only 500 steps away from my daily target and I don’t want to go to bed until I’ve hit it, and that’s not always healthy.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been struggling with a back injury; I had to take some time off work and could hardly move, let alone get to the gym, and that on its own really gets me down, so the last thing I need is something on my wrist to remind me that I’ve only done 150 steps all day and am at the bottom of the leaderboard of all my friends. Whenever I get an injury, one of the first things I do is take off my Fitbit, because I want to concentrate on getting better and healing, and not pushing myself too hard just because I feel obliged to.

I know I’ll always go back. Keeping fit and active makes me so happy, and my Fitbit is a daily reminder of that, but keeping a healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body, and I always want to make sure that comes first.

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My Favourite Lower Body Exercises

So despite starting the year with a promise of monthly fitness update posts, that literally only happened in January. Oops, my bad.

I’m a little bit ashamed to say I’ve yo-yo’d a bit this year. I started the year on a high, but various aspects of life have been challenging my fitness journey and this has led to inconsistencies and going backwards at times, and while I’m a little bit annoyed about this, there’s nothing I can do looking back on it so all I can do is move forward.

My gym recently went through a big refurb, and while it never looked back in the first place, it looks so much better now! We have new equipment, new areas and a new pink wall that I’m particularly fond of, and the update has done wonders for my motivation.

If you read my new fitness plan back in May, you might have seen that summer is the time when I tend to focus more on my legs as I’m not running as much (and hate running during summer heat), and these are some of my favourite workouts for my lower body at the moment:

Plyo Box Jumps

The most popular new piece of kit in the gym is our new PlyoSoft boxes, and while I’d always considered them to be torture before I’d actually used them, but now I’m obsessed! I start off on a 45cm, the quickly moved up to 60cm and now I’m on 75cm and I’m aiming for 90cm by the end of August. Its a great bodyweight-only workout and I’m already seeing results!

Bosu ball squats

Because squatting isn’t tricky enough at the best of times, I’ve now taken to doing them on top of a bosu ball.. While this might not seem too different to squatting on solid ground, you’ll be amazed at how many more muscles you get working while you’re trying to maintain your stability!

Donkey kicks

While it may seem very cliche gym-girl, I love donkey kicks, and all the different variations of them. I have a little donkey kick routine that’s my go-to on days when I’m focusing on lower body, and I will do it over and over until the backs of my legs are screaming just cos for some reason I really seem to enjoy it..

Wall sits

Wall sits are probably the easiest possible exercise for your legs ever, and its amazing how much you feel the burn afterwards. If my legs aren’t already knackered, I’ll try and get in a few minutes of a wall sit at the end of a workout just to push myself right to the end – and then probably fall down the stairs out of the gym.

Swiss ball leg raises

These are killer for both abs and legs! Gripping a Swiss ball between your knees/calves, then raising your legs straight up and down while lying on the floor; I’ll tell you now its a killer!

What are your go-to leg moves in the gym?

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Cauliflower Crusted Chicken Nuggets

Do you ever have a real craving for something, decide to make it there and then, and then go to the kitchen and find your missing a vital ingredient? Well that was me last week. I have a homemade chicken nugget recipe that I’ve been using for years, and it was all I wanted to have for dinner.. Until I discovered I hate no breadcrumbs. Gutted.

I mooched over to the fridge to find alternative food options, and was greeted by the tub of cauliflower rice. Lightbulb. Twenty minutes later: happy Lottie with chicken nuggets.

Make them now, thank me later!

You’re gonna need:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup cauliflower rice (I used the pre-made stuff you can get from most supermarkets now, but you can just blitz up your own in a food processer!)
  • 1 tbsp fine parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • Melted butter or a beaten egg yolk

Preheat your oven to 200C and cover a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

In a small bowl, mix together the cauliflower, cheese, rosemary, salt and pepper, and set to one side. Chop up your chicken breast into small nugget sized pieces, roughly 1 inch cubes!

If you’re using butter, now is the time to melt that, or beat up your egg yolk, then one piece at a time, dip the chicken into the butter/yolk, allow any excess to run off, then roll around in the cauliflower mixture.

Place each piece on the baking tray, leaving a little room between each nugget, and repeat until all of the chicken is covered. If you have any excess mix, you can use this to cover up any patches on any of the nuggets!

Bake in the oven for 12-15 mins, and be sure to check that the chicken is cooked through and juices are running clear.

Et voila – golden nuggets in less than 20 mins! Enjoy!

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