Sunday, 31 January 2016

Joe Wicks Lean in 15

In the last year, I have made drastic changes to my diet. For those that know me personally or have read my blog from the beginning will be aware that I was a pescatarian (one of those veggies that ate fish). Almost a year ago, I decided to go one step further and throw in chicken and very recently, all meats. 

Fellow vegetarians may gasp in horror (I know a few that did when I told them) but for me, it was something I was really comfortable about. I had become a vegetarian through upbringing and choice but also through laziness. I loathed cooking and found it easier and cheaper to avoid meat. My husband, a true carnivore, supported my diet from the day we met but it did make dinner times odd as we were practically eating separately. Then there's eating out, where the choice on the menu normally formed some sort of tomato risotto or veggie burger (if I was lucky). I had become that painful dinner guest that would always have to make sure there was something I could eat at a place ahead of time or be the awkward one that asked to go somewhere else when there was nout.

Not only was I irritating myself with this, but I was also starting to have the urge the try new things. My diet was pretty bland and in all honesty, I am not the biggest eater of vegetables. When I did go out for meals, I was always curious at other options on the menu. Also take into account my increased training plan by entering the world of triathlon and my appetite went through the roof! So, I started eating chicken/turkey (which by the way I love) and over Christmas, I went the full hog (literally) and opened up my diet to all types of food. 

For Christmas, my husband got me Joe Wicks' (also known as The Body Coach) new recipe book, Lean in 15. Flicking through, all the recipes looked immense and so easy to make (given the title, these were meals that took 15 minutes to make). I decided there and then that New Years would kick off with me following the recipes in this book. Fast forward five weeks and I am a Lean in 15 convert!

The best thing about this book is that everything is straightforward. The recipes contain normal, everyday ingredients (even things like seasonings) and are split into two sections - reduced carbohydrate and post workout carbohydrate refuel recipes. The idea is that you only have carbs if you have worked out (and that is really the only time you should allow them). Taking into account my half marathon training plan, I planned the right recipes for days I worked out and rested. By also planning in advance, it meant I was only purchasing groceries and food that I needed (and not wanted). I have turned to the world of online shopping and it is the best thing ever! No naughty treats at the end of shopping aisles for 'just £1!' to tempt me.

So what are the recipes actually like? Well, bloody delicious to put it bluntly. I have tried probably 60% of them and I have definitely found some favourites. Below are a few that I strongly suggest - ones that are super scrummy, lean and fulfilling. 

(this is to die for!)

(great option for veggies!)

(we also chucked in spinach)

(we threw in some toast as we opted to make this a post workout meal)

(this photo was sourced from the hubby's Instagram!)

This book hasn't also just changed my diet, it has improved my lifestyle too. Each night, I come home from work super excited to cook with my husband and also to sit down and eat together. I have grown very fond of the kitchen and have found a love in prepping good, healthy and honest food. We chat about our day over the hob whilst we cook and the sit down to enjoy our feast as a couple - how it should be. We have also become savvier shoppers and enjoy planning our meals in advance. Another huge benefit to this book is that my food bill hasn't increased greatly (of course meat has made it more but it isn't breaking the bank). Each week, our average food bill is £40-45. For two people that isn't too bad!

Overall, I cannot recommend this book enough. I urge you to hop on Amazon immediately and make the purchase. It will change your life. 

Lean in 15 is available to buy here.

Lipstick Runner. 

Saturday, 23 January 2016

TRAINING UPDATE: Week 8 of half marathon training

I'm two thirds into my half marathon training and I must say I am feeling a little apprehensive. It has been a manic couple of weeks, what with a new job and just generally getting back into the swing of a normal routine post Christmas. I have managed to upkeep a strong steady plan (I may have missed two sessions though), yet I am feeling utterly exhausted!

Week six of training was my first week in my new job so I had get used to a new cycle route. This one is slightly longer than my previous commute and includes some short, steep hills. Three weeks in and I am already seeing the benefits this commute is having on my cycling. I feel faster and stronger which is an added bonus as it helps set me up for triathlon training in March. Anyway, going back to week six and it kicked off with a swim using my new Garmin watch that I got for Christmas. It quite simply is such a delight to have one of these on a swim now. Gone are forgetting how many laps you have done halfway through a swim and now I can finally see how fast I am going. This watch has an accelatrometer so I have to make sure I push off for the start of a new lap hard enough for it to clock a new length. For this session, I did a simple front crawl swim up to 1250m and was really pleased to come in just over 27 minutes. 
Next up on Tuesday was a paced four mile run where I really struggled in the first mile to reach a 7.55 pace. I was almost 30 seconds behind schedule! So I upped my speed and overall finished the run with an average pace of 7.54. This is great as its my half marathon target pace, however, due to that slow mile, I had to run the last three faster.

By Thursday, I had decided to venture down to the athletics track with my running club to kick off the year with a tough speed session. Annoyingly, I forgot my watch (I was livid!) so I had to run blind a session of:

1200m threshold running
5x 400m @ 5K pace
1200m threshold running
(60 secs rest between each set)

Despite not knowing my pace, I ran the fastest I could and felt super energised at the end - can you tell!?
At the weekend, I rested on the Saturday, rolling and stretching to get prepared for a 10K race on Sunday. This was the normal 10K I do - Mornington Chasers Regents Park 10K. I was oddly feeling quite nervous (even though I have done the race so many times!) about the pace I would be able to keep for this and the weather that particular morning was fecking freezing! By the time I arrived at the park, my hands and feet were frozen. I just wanted to get running to warm up!

Luckily after the first of three laps on the course, I had warmed up and was stripping off my gloves. I tried my best to keep steady throughout and managed to cross the finish line in 46.45 with an average pace of 7.30. I am really happy with this as it has been my target 10K pace in the tempo runs I have been doing.
The next day (and the start of week seven), I opted to do a workout session at home as my legs were a bit tired. For Christmas, I got Joe Wick's Lean in 15 book (which by the way I highly recommend) and he includes some HIIT workouts in there. Looking at the weights focussed one, I thought I could do it so I picked up my 5KGs and got to work. 

Oh my lord it was hard! I had to use these weights for squats, lunges, bicep curls, press up arm pulls and a couple of other things. I had to repeat the workout three times but sheepishly gave up after two as my body felt broken. Man alive I am weak! Give me endurance any day but tell me to do a weight session and I am useless. The next day I felt it too. Lets just say I took the lifts that day at work.
The rest of the week, I carried out a swim, hill repeats and a paced run, ending the week with a nine mile run. Joined by a fellow running buddy, we went out easy and finished with an average pace of 8.55. The distance didn't feel too bad either which must be good!

Come week eight and I am starting to feel tired. Work was particularly busy this week and I found myself staying late some nights, which caused a bit of disruption to my training plan. On Tuesday, I was supposed to get up at 6am for a run but told my alarm to f**k off when it went off. I laid in and woke up with enough time to get ready and dash to work. I felt guilty I didn't go for a run and so I decided to make up for it and would do a quick run session after work before I met my friend for a catch up coffee.  My GPS wouldn't work on my watch so I decided to run hard for 30 minutes. And I really did - so much so that halfway round the outer circle of Regent's Park I tripped and went flying! I managed to save myself from any rolled ankles or grazed knees thank god! I finished in Kings Cross where I met my friend and felt like I had maintained a good pace. When I got home that night, I decided to look at the route I took on MapMyRun and it turns out I did four miles bang on. So in 30 minutes that is 7.30 pace! Wahoo!

After this successful session, it went downhill from there as work was still crazy busy. I ended up missing a planned tempo run on Thursday. I tried so hard to get up on Friday to do it before work but I was unbelievably tired and just couldn't drag my body from the warmth of my bed. 

Do I feel guilty for missing this? Well yeah, but at the same time work has to come first over my hobby and sometimes this just cannot be helped. Instead of feeling bad, I am going to dust myself off and carry on. Next up is a 10 mile run tomorrow where I will again be going casually to get my legs used to the distance. 

To reflect on the past eight weeks and the next four until race day, I feel OK(ish). I don't feel strong and confident to secure the all important sub 1.45 but I am going on the hope that everything will all come together on race day. For now, I just need to keep focussed and simply do the best that I can. There is no point in worrying or piling on the pressure. At the end of the day, whatever I do will be an achievement and who can complain about that. :) 

Lipstick Runner. 

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

TRAINING UPDATE: Week 5 of half marathon training

The Christmas break is over and we are all back into our everyday routines. Mine hit me like a ton of bricks! After two full weeks off work, I am on struggle street this week trying to get my body back into life mode. Over the holidays though, I did have a strict workout plan in place to ensure I stay on track for my half marathon training.

It all kicked off with a parkrun on my first day of the Christmas break. The previous fortnight had been, to be quite frank, boozy and the night before this particular workout, I did opt for a few too many gins. I did feel quite rough come morning but I dragged my ass out of bed and trotted down to my local parkrun. I felt really queasy jogging there and did wonder whether I would be able to do it! Despite how I felt, it was punishment for all the endless G&Ts I had recently and whilst every step of the way hurt, I was impressed to finish in 23.41. No where near a PB but definitely faster than I expected! I also got to see my tri buddy for a catch up which was nice.
In the first week of the holidays, I was visiting my in-laws and I had three runs to squeeze in. I decided to do two before Christmas and one after. They live in the hilly countryside so these runs are tough. Everytime I run there my calves are in agony! I managed to bosh out successful paced and tempo runs pre Christmas Day but by the time it came for my weekly long run (this one in particular was seven miles), I was so full of mince pies and food, I was dreading it.

I had every right to dread it. I felt like a slug crawling through treacle on this run. Combine this with the hills and I was in agony! It felt like it went on forever and when I reached the last mile, I was so relieved for it to all be over. I managed a pace of 8.24. Not great but not too shabby either.

I feel like after this long run, everything went downhill in the second week of my break. By this point I had travelled over to my parents in Wiltshire (again countryside setting) but the weather was absolutely awful all week that I dreaded going outside.

Luckily Monday was spent doing a swim session so I was indoors in the luxury of a heated pool. My first run however was my weekly paced run. On this day, we were experiencing the gales from Storm Frank and I don't think I have ever ran in winds so strong. At one point, running up a hill, I had to stop for a moment as it took my breath away! On a positive note, I decided to run through the local park which does have some wonderful places to run...
The next day I was back out, this time doing a speed session of 8x 400ms. My legs ached from the pace run but I trooped on (again in gale force winds) and managed a pace of 6.42. This was a lot quicker than needed as 5K pace was required (which for me is 7.20s). Come the weekend though and it was a different story. As I woke up, I could hear the wind and rain whilst I was snuggled in bed. It was so bad I thought the window pane was going to smash!
Did I want to go out for a run? No fricking way! I had to do eight miles and judging by the weather conditions outside, I did not pack the right clothing for it. I knew I couldn't miss this run though - the distance sessions for me are super important. So I forced myself to get dressed and luckily my sister let me borrow a thin windproof jacket (every little helps!). Setting off, the rain was so bad I felt utterly miserable. Weaving around the country lanes, I felt so isolated and had no enthusiasm what so ever. Two miles in I had to stop to check GoogleMaps as I got a bit lost. Getting my phone out from my bumbag, it was damp from the rain. In fact, I was soaked through to my pants and I could feel the shivers coming on. By this point, I thought 'sod it!' and turned around to head home. I didn't care about the eight miles, all I cared about was getting home. I did however take a slightly different route home, extending it slightly to finish at five miles. Appalling I know but I have never felt so happy to be back home and in my dressing down.
Coming back to London, I felt mixed about my training over the holidays. I hadn't had a great success in the sessions and I know this was down to my body being out of sync and drugged on endless mince pies. However, I had stuck (almost) to my plan. That surely is better than nothing right?

I am now back in the working routine and already feel good getting back into my daily schedules. I am back on the cycling commute and already completed two training sessions. Now I just need to stay focussed and avoid any minor slip ups before the big race on the 21st Feb.

Lipstick Runner.