TFW – Past Half Way!

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I’m now over half way into my Training for Warriors programme! Ohhh it’s so sad. I don’t wanna say that I’ve love(d) the programme – past tense, because we do still have a couple of weeks to go. But I have loved it. Up to this point it has been such a great experience. I’ve pushed myself mentally and physically.

Actually, I want to talk a bit about that. People will often tell you that mental challenges are good, and that they help you to see how far you can push yourself. Don’t get me wrong, to some extent I agree with that. There’s a lot of truth hidden behind cliche phrases, and I think the phrase, ‘there’s no growth in the comfort zone’ is insanely applicable in life. But it comes with constraints. What happens when you push yourself to your limit, and you still aren’t good enough? Let’s not be naive here, it happens. Cliche number two: ‘be comfortably uncomfortable.’ I feel like the moment of positive change is a sweet spot on a sliding scale. At one end of the scale there’s your ultimate comfort zone – I dunno, eating Chinese whilst watching Gilmore Girls or whatever your equivalent is. At the other end, there’s the zone that is so uncomfortable  that it cripples you. Somewhere in the middle, is that sweet spot where you’re a long fucking way from any prawn crackers, but you aren’t so far away that the level of discomfort is preventing you from moving forward. For me, that was getting up on a Saturday morning to run 16 miles knowing full well I’d hate every minute that took place past mile 6, and give myself hell for a poor performance for the rest of the week, so by the time next Saturday came round I’d be just ever so slightly more miserable than before, and the cycle would repeat.

TFW has so far been pretty fucking sweet spot centric. I’ve done things I didn’t even think were possible for me, but because of the environment you’re in and the supportive nature of the group, it seems much more realistic. Like, the other day we did pull ups. I definitely had help, but fucking pull ups. Who knew? A couple of weeks ago I also learned how to get on a treadmill whilst it’s already running – and I didn’t break any limbs or anything!!!

TFW  has allowed me to become part of a group of people who just want to improve themselves. We’re a pretty diverse group of people and I guess we all have different things we want to achieve from the programme. I just wanted to feel confident again. I’m not going to lie and say I’m all the way there. I’m a long way away from slaying like one of Ru Paul’s drag queens, but I do feel better about myself.

I guess this post is pretty gushy and I’m not sure it has a real point other than to update on my progress so far. I’ve not had mid way measurements done or anything. I wanted to wait until the end and see the extent of my progress. I’m not sure it will be massive because it will only have been 8 weeks, and I’ve definitely had a couple of cheat meals here and there, but still. I feel like I’m turning a corner.

It’s about time.

 

Hurricanes Hurt My Feelings. (Training for Warriors: Weeks 2-3)

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Weeks 2 & 3 of warrior training are officially complete, 5 to go!

On week 2 perhaps the most notable thing to happen was that we were given a 3 day challenge to photograph everything we ate; and then whatsapp the images to our coach, Toby. Some of my fellow warriors seemed a bit dubious about photographing everything they ate, but the self absorbed, millennial, food blogger in my head was doing back flips in front of a landscape of 4th of July style fireworks. YES. A legitimate reason for taking photos of my food! My entire life (post invention of Instagram) had been leading up to the moment, and by God I intended to make the most out of it. It didn’t take me long to realise though, that when you also have a job, taking photos of literally everything you eat/drink is actually quite frustrating. Try as I might, it’s pretty darn tricky to achieve that quirky, tumblr aesthetic when snapping a green tea served in a slightly cracked mug that says ‘This Is What An Awesome Baker Looks Like’, in front of the keyboard on my work desk. Alas, I made the most of what I had and sent the pictures through. Typically, during the 3 day challenge we had a baby shower at work for my colleague Becky. I baked maple cupcakes with pink and blue swirled buttercream (gender TBC). Whilst I did manage to refrain from dunking my entire head into the tray of cupcakes,a la Bruce Bogtrotter;  I caved at the sight of pork pie and pringles. I’m not even just saying that for alliterative illustration, that genuinely was where I cracked. I’ll be interested to see what Toby makes of THAT nutritious feast.

Whilst we’re talking food, I have still been trying (in between the pork pie and pringles) to stick to a lower carb, higher fat diet. I’ve not cut carbs out completely though, because seriously, what would be the point in life? Instead I’m trying to have carbs with just one of my meals, which is usually dinner. I’ve been making a lot of recipes from that snazzy Lean in 15 fellow whose name escapes me…Joe Wicks, that’s it. I followed his insta account after a girl at training recommended it. I was actually pretty amazed that most of his recipes do only take about 15 minutes. Tonight I made his italian lemon chicken and mate…for real though, it was a party in my mouth. I feel like I’ve said that phrase several times in this blog. Dear god lets hope I don’t ever get a decent following, I’ll be strung up for lack of originality quicker than you can say boo to a goose….that’s not a phrase is it? Anyway.

Here’s photo spunk (sorry mum) of some of the stuff I’ve been eating over the last couple of weeks. Eggs and avocado have been my pretty much standard breakfast – for ease more so than anything. The weird orange concoction in the top right hand corner is something I’m using slight artistic license in naming a deconstructed fish cake. Sweet potato mashed with 10g lighter mature cheddar, garden peas and a tin of tuna, all mixed together. And yes, it might look like something that has already been digested once, but it actually tasted lovely. The bottom right picture is of leftover tandoori chicken with salad and half a packet of microwaveable rice. I knowwww I know that cooking stuff in the microwave will eventually give me intestinal AIDS and turn me into a 2 headed zombie, but sometimes you just have to pick your battles, OK? Time was of the essence and that was that.

Moving into week 3, the workouts turned into real monsters – monsters who, I’m fairly confident were trying to bin me off. On Monday, I was tired, but dragged myself out of the house knowing that I’d feel better eventually. Monday sessions are referred to as Hurricanes. When I search for the word hurricane on dictionary.com, one of the definitions is this: a storm of the most intense severity. And whilst I think that tells you all you need to know about how tough Monday’s work out was, I’d also like to really drive the point home by letting you all know I 100% had to scarper to the loos mid workout so that I could throw up my guts. Delightful, right? We were doing a lot of sprints, followed by kettlebell excercises, followed by sprints, followed by kettlebell exercises, followed by sprints, followed by kettlebell excercises and yeah. Midway through the second lot of sprints I quickly realised I’d way overestimated how fast I could go and for how long. Egrh. Lesson learned. I will say though, one thing I’ve noticed is that there have been times when I know, if I was working out by myself, I would have taken it down 10 notches and had a rest period. Whilst yes, there are rest periods during warrior training, when you’re working, you are bloody well working and that is that. So I guess that’s good.

And, to sign this off I will leave you with this.Today I tried on a pair of trousers I couldn’t do up a few months ago. They now fit.

*Que marching band, fireworks, confetti canons and mickey mouse on a freakin’ float wearing a gym kit*

 

 

 

A New Challenge

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For the last couple of months, Andy has been lovingly nagging the shit out of me to check out a gym he’s been going to. H3 Performance is based just outside of Nottingham city centre, near Sneinton. They run an 8 week Training for Warriors challenge. The creator of the programme used to train MMA fighters, and eventually formed the programme to suit us normos. There is little I love more than pretending I’m super tough, so the thought of training like an MMA fighter suits me down to the ground. The deal is this: you pay £150 and for 8 weeks, you attend 3 group workout sessions a week. Same group of about 10 people every time, to build comradery I guess. Your measurements are taken, there’s a whatsapp group for support outside of the gym and you are given a nutrition guide. The works, basically. So, sort of to shut Andy up, but sort of because I need this, I signed up for the challenge. On Thursday last week I went to my orientation to meet the group. We also heard from an incredible woman who had completed the challenge previously. She has 5 kids, and looks better than I have ever looked in my entire life – superwoman! I think the orientation was partially intended to help ease any pre-programme anxieties, but honestly I’m so excited to get back on the health and fitness wagon I feel immune from any fear.

I want to take just a minute to get real here. My mental health has been less than optimum this year. I didn’t complete the London marathon due to a knee injury, but even during training I was struggling. The long runs were a psychological battle that I rarely won. They left me feeling lonely and useless. I didn’t believe in myself and I felt like nobody else did either. I felt my confidence plummet. One particular Saturday, I was embarking on a 13 mile long run. The weather was unseasonably hot, although it had rained the entire previous day. The lake I was running laps of had tonnes of gnats hovering its circumference, sticking to my sweaty forehead and getting in my mouth and eyes. My nike run app kept randomly pausing, and I momentarily contemplated hurling my phone into the water in frustration. I have found that if I run in my glasses they slip off my face, so I just didn’t wear them. I clearly overestimated how well I can actually see without my specs, and eventually I tripped and fell in the mud. It was this delightfully elegant moment I can now pinpoint as the lowest low of my training. I had to limp for a mile back to my car trying desperately not to cry. I felt like an idiot. And, just to add insult to injury, not a single sodding dog walker asked if I was ok! Ohhh sure they were happy to stare at me like I was the abominable fucking snowman, but god forbid they ask if the limping woman, covered from shin to boob in mud was ok. GOD FORBID.

I’ll probably talk more about my marathon training experience in a later blog but for now, just know that ever since then I’ve found it hard to feel motivated or get into a good routine. Slowly I’ve watched myself slip back into a life of Friday night takeaways and exchanging gym sessions for Netflix binges. My self-esteem probably hasn’t been this crap since secondary school. So now, I’m 100% ready to start this new challenge. The irony that I was supposed to run the marathon to raise money for a mental health charity is not lost on me, believe me.

I am SO ready to get back into shape, for both my physical and mental health. I once lost almost 5 stone (70ish pounds) and even though I was still chubby at a size 16, I felt so strong and confident that it didn’t matter to me. I could walk into any room and feel like I deserved to be there. I could make decisions with clarity. I could operate more smoothly, I was less clumsy and more focused. I just felt like a sharper version of myself. I felt like a respectable person. I now feel sluggish and heavy, and my self-esteem is pretty much none existent the majority of the time. I think knowing the difference between how good I can feel, and how bad I feel now is what makes dealing with how I feel now so tough. You can’t miss what you never had right? But I did have it once, and god damn. I miss it.

So.

Here’s to turning things around, and getting back on track.

 

Christmas Confession Time

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I feel like beginning this post with a ‘Forgive me Father, for I have sinned’. Although that seems daft, because apart from flirting with a bit of Buddhist meditation, I’m not of a particularly religious persuasion. So I suppose I’m writing this post to start afresh, regardless of potential hell fire that may or may not await.

Around mid December, I was adamant that the festive season would not interrupt my training schedule. But then things happened. Amid the jingle bells and tinsel, I decided to have a few adult beverages at my work Christmas party. I wrote a blog post a while ago about my decision to stop drinking. It’s been probably a couple of years since I stopped, having realised that alcohol was a terrible catalyst for bouts of depression and self loathing. But on the night of the work do, I felt like I was missing out on something by not drinking. I can’t quite define what it was I felt I was missing out on, because  I can usually act the fool whilst stone cold sober just as well as any drunk person can. Occasionally though, when my confidence isn’t quite as tip top as I would like it to be, it’s nice to have the option of using the ever so effective social lubricant that is a G&T over ice.

The Obligatory Christmas Do Selfie

So I got a bit drunk. I sort of thought that since I’m now more ‘settled’ in life, living with my lovely BFG boyfriend and in a job I enjoy, I might not be quite as prone to unexplained sadness as I previously have been. Turns out, depression can still give you the finger even if you do live an otherwise comfortable and enjoyable lifestyle. Over the two days that followed I don’t think I got dressed or showered, I cried for no reason other than to let out a bit of the sadness and branded myself an unworthy, blundering idiot for failing to put together a flat pack bed. It wasn’t my finest moment I must say. So that was the block that initially threw me off track.

 

The Devil’s Play Thing.

Almost immediately after recovering from that,  I was struck down by the evil bastard that is the winter lurgy, and thought that death was upon me. I had the whole nine yards –  chesty cough, blocked nose, headaches, sore throat and sinuses that seemed to have gone into melt down. So in the week I wanted to get back on track, I was having a hard time trying to y’know, breathe and stuff. You know what they say. An object at rest, wants to stay at rest (or something like that). Once you’re out of your fitness routine, getting back into it can be so difficult, particularly when the festivities are nye.

So here I am, on January the 2nd, having not trained since December 18th. I’m not exactly proud of it, and I know I’ll have to train extra hard over the next few weeks to make up for it, but still. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. I’m using this blog post as an opportunity to draw a line under my training indiscretions and move forward. Onwards and upwards, as they say.

Before I go, I have to say that having my depression take me down again for a little while really did bring home how debilitating mental health struggles can be. My depression is so mild in comparison to the issues faced by others, and yet it still has the capacity to knock me onto my arse. I’m lucky. My friends and family are generally very understanding of mental health issues, and I have people to talk to and rely on. But the fact is that even in 2016, mental health issues are still so wildly misunderstood and treated as a taboo, which means god knows how many people are still going without any help. The charity I am running the VLM for, Mind, are there to help these people. Please go and look at their website, and if you feel able, donate using the link below.

Here’s to 2016!

Mind’s Website: http://www.mind.org.uk/

Donate: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/lucy-titterton 

LDN Marathon Training: Weeks 3 & 4

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Week 3 of my marathon training is when I promised myself that I would never, ever run less than 3 hours after eating dinner again.  Tuesday was a 4 miler. I was working at an event in a different city on Tuesday, so I had no opportunity to run before work, which is always a bummer. I prefer running in the morning so much more. Apart from wanting an extra hour in bed, there aren’t really many excuses to not run at six in the morning. At 5pm however, you’re tired, you’ve had a long day, you’re hungry, you’ve got to get dinner started, you’ve got a tonne of chores to do, the dog needs walking, the hamster cage needs cleaning, you’ve got to dust the skirting boards, the silverware needs polishing, the cd collection needs alphabetising!! Ohhh the excuses are abundant! The problematic thing about marathon training though, is that you sort of have to just take those excuses and shove them away, because 26.2 miles don’t just happen out of nowhere. Or at least, not for me, Lucy, Penguin Runner.

On Tuesday afternoon I drove home from the event I’d been working at and was starving. I decided to try eating dinner and then run a bit later in the evening. I managed to have dinner cooked and eaten by about 5.30, and by 8pm I was in the gym. Within about 6 minutes I knew I’d end up throwing up before I reached the 4 mile mark. I tried changing my run-walk patter, I tried running at a slower but more consistent pace, I tried distracting myself by changing the treadmill TV screen to a New Zealand ‘run through’ setting. As it turns out, when you’re knackered and trying not to vomit, New Zealand’s surroundings are actually just really annoying. Why are there so many trees?! I think I made it to about the 2.5 mile mark before I tapped out. At that point, it wasn’t just feeling physically sick that was getting in the way, I was so hyper aware that I was having a terrible run that my mental toughness was about as sturdy as a birthday jelly. In fact, I was so frustrated that I ended up going home in a huff and having a massive cry, like a big ole’ sweaty baby.

Thank GOD the rest of the week’s training went to plan, and without any notable trauma. There were a couple of 3 milers and on Saturday, my long run was 6 miles. I did that at a 13 minute mile pace, so believe me, I’m no Mo Farrah, but I felt good. I mean, relatively good. I didn’t have to crawl to the car or anything, so that was nice.

Week 4 surprised me. I hadn’t really looked ahead at my training programme in detail, so I was very close to doing a cartwheel of joy when I realised week 4 was almost a ‘rest’ week. My longest run was 3.8 miles, and the shortest was 2, with a few 3 milers sprinkled into the midweek mix.  I was quite chuffed with how easy the 3 milers were starting to feel, so I used the shorter distances to try and improve my pace. As I said, I’m definitely not going to be breaking any records speed wise. I take walk breaks, because otherwise running just isn’t fun for me, and I won’t make the distances. I am noticing that the further I get into my training plan, the easier I’m finding it to reduce those walk breaks. I’m currently walking about 2-5 minutes every mile, and running/jogging the rest. It seems to be working alright.

As always, if you would like to sponsor me and help raise money for mental health charity, Mind, click through to the link below.

www.virginmoneygiving.com/Lucy-Titterton

Virgin London Marathon 2010

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 25: Runners pass by the University of Greenwich during the 2010 Virgin London Marathon on April 25, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)