Thursday, 24 October 2013

Records Broken in Chicago

John Harley has been a member at TSC and Tonbridge Athletics Club since 2011 and has completed several of the world’s most famous Marathons during that time including Athens, Berlin, Boston, London and most recently Chicago.
Sounds like the work of a lifelong runner? Not even close- John is in his early sixties and this is simply how he chose to spend his retirement! 
By his own admission John had never been a runner. He did do a little training in his youth and even ran in the first Johannesburg Half marathon back in 1977, completing it in a respectable 1 Hour 50 minutes. At the time this was achievement enough and running took a back seat to career and family obligations thereafter.
He did return to training in 2003 but predominantly as a means of combating an inactive lifestyle as opposed to competing and it was not until shortly before his retirement in 2011 he was approached by his employers to lead a corporate team to the 2500th Athens Marathon that the sport took its hold once more. Before the race began he promised his team of colleagues that, should he run under the 4 hour mark, he would be content and would never take part in a marathon again.
The team raised a staggering 50,000 Euros for good causes and John finished in 4 hours…and 26 seconds!
From that moment John resolved to run the Top 5 Marathons the world has to offer and has not looked back since, training harder, losing weight and absorbing advice from all quarters in pursuit of faster times and injury-free preparation.
Having run the Bath Half Marathon in a Personal Best 1 hour 30 minutes and finishing 4th in his age group the 2012 London Marathon was up next and a time of 3 hours 20 Minutes!
This is when John started training with me here at TSC, with the intention of conquering a Marathon in 3 hours or less.
He came close in Boston (one of the toughest races in the world and not the place to set a PB) with a finish time of 3 hours 21minutes despite suffering from calf problems in the last few kilometres and has continued to progress well - exploring and improving all aspects of his preparation from race nutrition to running technique. John has since broken into the Top 10s in both Half Marathons and Marathons in the UK for his age group. He’s not far down the list in the 10km rankings either.
His most recent effort came in Chicago on 13th October – finishing the race in a brilliant 3 hours 4 minutes, placing him 1200th (from a field of 45,000!) and coming home as the 1st British athlete and 2nd in his age group overall. This was good enough to break both the 60+ and 50+ records for the distance at Tonbridge Athletics Club (again).
“I was 11 stone at the start of the Chicago Marathon. I have never felt or looked healthier. The whole experience has been a huge and unexpected bonus since my retirement from full time employment.
John is far from finished and I look forward to reporting more from him in the coming months – and we both hope to see you on the track soon!


Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Todays kettlebell workout

If you are a regular user of the Kettlebell you will know the benefits it brings to both your strength and conditioning.

In our Kettlebell (KB) class today we used what we call 'ladders' to gradually work up into a more intense circuit.

Here is what we did:

  • KB swings x 45seconds
REST 30-60
  • Single arm kettlebell row 45 seconds/side + KB Swings x 45
REST 30-60
  • Clean & Press x 45/side + Single arm row x 45/side + Swings 45 
REST 30-60
  • Burpees x 45 + Clean & Press x 45/side + Single arm rows x 45/side + Swings 45 
REST 30-60
  • Alternate Lunges x 45 + Burpees x 45 + Clean & Press x 45/side + Single arm rows x 45/side + Swings 45 
REST 30-60
  • Pushups x 45 + Alternate Lunges x 45 +Burpees x 45 + Clean & Press x 45/side + Single arm rows x 45/side + Swings 45 

This reduces rest time substantially. After a warm up it was non-stop work for 30 minutes, followed by a cooldown and stretch.

You can apply this form of training to a body weight workout, core work out, dumbells etc. It's a great way to utilise time if you train on your lunch break or if you have a busy shedule.

Why not come along to our Kettlebell classes for an intense workout for all abilities.

Alternatively, why not get a programme from a trainer for the gym or at home when you can't make it in.


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Mindset for better and more regular workouts


If you only exercise when you feel good, there is every chance you may not exercise much at all. With busy schedules, long working hours and endless commitments, a training session may get pushed way down the list and can be missed completely.

When you feel tired before hitting the gym, your mind will give you a whole host of excuses as to why you shouldn't go, "you've had a long day", "you need to get up early", "you didn't eat a very good lunch", "I think my left knee is hurting a little". On some days it feels like a constant battle with your mind just to simply show up. It's human nature to preserve energy and this is why our mind often convinces us not to exercise. However the feeling after is almost always 100% amazing. I have only had the odd workout where i didn't feel much better afterwards in my many years of training.

For the majority of training sessions, you have won half of the battle simply by showing up. However for some, you may get to the gym and feel weak. If you are feeling tired before hand or weak during a workout, don't always see this as a bad thing. If you push through and get to the end, this will strengthen your mindset. You will feel great about finishing the session when your mind told you that you couldn't. When you encounter these feelings the next time, it won't feel alien to you. You have been here before and you got it done. You can do that again. You will miss less training sessions and you will start to get closer to your goals.

Remember the saying "Discipline is the difference between what you want now and what you want most". Yes, after work we would all like to go home, switch on the t.v and order a takeaway. That's what you want right now. However is that going to get you what you want most? No. If what you want most is a flat stomach, to be fitter for the weekends game of sport, to build muscle, to lower your blood pressure and improve your health, then you must focus on this. Think of why you're going.

Sometimes we have a tough day. Don't let this stop you, if anything let it drive you to get it done. The tougher your mindset the stronger you will become when pushing through obstacles and getting what you want.


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Should you eat carbohydrates before exercise?

Carbohydrates have the reputation as energy foods. Therefore it would seem sensible to have them before a workout to boost performance. However, what most people don't realise is that carbohydrates also promote the release of seretonin. Seretonin acts as a relaxant, which is why you often feel tired after a big carb-based meal.

Everyone is different in regards to what works for them before an exercise session. I look to keep my blood sugar levels steady. There is nothing worse than not having enough energy for the workout itself. It's very important you plan ahead with a meal/snack in advance to make the session productive.

To keep my blood sugar levels steady, I tend to include protein and good fats. These allow a slow release of energy. I like a meal of oily fish and avacado about 90-120 minutes beforehand. If I were to snack just before the workout a good source of slow release fats are nuts.

If you need carbs to function, simply try adding some protein in to the meal. This will slow down the absorbtion of carbs and should allow for a more sustained release of energy.

Instead of 2 slices of toast, why not have 1 slice with an egg or add on some cashew/almond spread to boost protein.

Rather than a large jacket potato on its own, add some fish or meat and reduce the size of the potato.

Try some different combinations of meat, fish, eggs, cottage cheese, nuts, avacado before a workout and see how you feel. If you are struggling without the carbs, combine the above with some slow release carbs e.g. brown rice, sweet potato, wholemeal bread etc. Avoid white variations!