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.

 

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A New Challenge

excercise, exercise, fitness, food, Health, health,, healthy, lessons, Life, life,, lifestyle, london, london marathon, mental health, nottingham, running, weight loss

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

depression, drinks, exercise, fitness, Health, health,, healthy, life,, lifestyle, london, london marathon, mental health, running, Uncategorized, wellbeing

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)

 

LDN Marathon Training: Week 2

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Week 2 of Marathon Training was supposed to look like this, according to my Nike+ app:

Monday – 3 miles

Tuesday – 5 miles

Wednesday – 3 miles

Thursday – Rest

Friday – 3 miles

Saturday – 5 miles.

What actually happened was this:

Monday – 3 miles

Tuesday – Ran 3 miles then realised the blister that I’d thought had healed, had not healed. Succinctly slammed fist down on the treadmill ‘stop’ button and went home to sulk about the injustice of it all.

Wednesday – Strapped foot in approximately 20 metres of bandaging and plasters, attempted to run on treadmill, burst blister, wanted to punch myself in the face. Spent the day hobbling around like an actual lemon.

Thankfully though, after that it was all uphill from there.  Now I think about it, that’s an odd turn of phrase isn’t it –  All uphill from there? Uphill is harder. Downhill is easier. Why would we describe things getting better as being ‘uphill’? Whoever coined that was clearly not a runner themselves. I digress. After a bit of foot airing and a LOT of complaining, things were on the mend! Rejoice!

On Saturday I decided enough was enough. I went to get new running shoes, yay! It was the first time I’d ever been to a ‘proper’ running shop. The imposter syndrome was firmly in place, let me tell you. The staff were perfectly welcoming, but as somebody who is…a bit jigglier than the average runner, shall we say, I always feel like I have to prove to people that I’m not an ‘all the gear, no idea’ type person. I feel like wearing a tshirt that says ‘I know I’m fat but I can still run OK?!’

Paranoia aside, at the running shop, they made me jog on the world’s most jolty treadmill, which films your feet from behind so the guys can assess what your stride is like. Watching that footage back was less than pleasing to the eye. As it turns out, I run with all the grace of a penguin. Additionally, it seems that my feet are destined for ugly running shoes. When I’d first walked into the shop, I’d spotted a pair of bright pink and orange Nike’s that I instantly decided were my soul mate. If there’s one time you can get away with wearing heinously bright shoes, it’s when you’re running. They were so beautiful… BUT NO. My stupid penguin feet required the most boring looking shoes in all the land.


My heart aches thinking about it. Still. I suppose, if we’re being grown ups about it, having correct support when running a billion miles is probably more important than aesthetics. God damn adulthood.

Since I got my new shoes, I’ve had much, much better runs, including a definite breakthrough run where I felt like I’d leveled up. Getting up at 5.30am to run before work isn’t easy. Running after work when you just want to go home and binge watch Jessica Jones is not easy.  So, it’s nice to feel like progress is happening. But alas. I’ll save that for next week’s update.

Again, I’m running for Mind, who are an incredible charity working to help those struggling with mental health problems. If you would like to sponsor me, click the link below:

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

LDN Marathon Training: Week 1

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It’s a little over a week since I made the big announcement via my 3082 social media platforms that I’ve been lucky enough to snag a place on the London Marathon. After I’d posted that blog, the marathon was basically all I could think about for the next 48 hours. It’s a weird feeling. Running 26.2 miles feels incredibly abstract right now, but at the same time, the fear is very (x1000) real, so I’m training my big old bum off.

The first week of training was not without a hiccup or two. Typically my running shoes have chosen now to flake out on me. Seemingly, they aren’t as keen on achieving life goals as I am. Lets just say I have become very good friends with Compede blister plasters.Hopefully I can get to a running shop this weekend to replace my old Nike’s. RIP Nike’s. It’s been real.

Speaking of Nike, I used the Nike+ app to formulate a training programme. It’s quite cool, you put in your the date and distance of your race and it puts together a weekly schedule for you to follow. Pleasingly, my first training day (Monday) was scheduled as a rest day. Wahey! That’s what I’m talking about!

When Tuesday did come round, I did my first training run of 3 miles without too much hassle. Recently I’ve been doing a lot of interval training with short bouts of sprinting/walking/sprinting/walking, so cardio wise running 3 miles straight felt like quite a different beast – and it’s without too much shame I admit I did have to stop for a walking breather mid way. I think I did alright though. I mean, I completed the run without having to call for a paramedic or anything, so you know. Bonus.

On Wednesday however, about half way through my second training run I could feel that stupid, irritating burn of a blister forming underneath me. Seriously?! For the love of God. I just about finished, but in hindsight, I probably should have quit whilst I was ahead, because on Thursday I really struggled to walk. I popped into Boots on the way home from work to get some blister plasters on the recommendation of a work colleague (cheers Liz!).

Thursday was supposed to be a cross training day, but I was really nervous of bursting my blister and coming down with a terrible case of manky foot, so I decided to give it a miss. That decision left me feeling a bit useless. This is week 1 of my training and I already had to skip a day? Not the best start. Alas. I recently heard somebody on a podcast that you have to accept your shortcomings and move on, because if you place that negativity in front of you, you’ve got to clamber over it to get to what’s on the other side, which is ultimately going to take longer to do. I felt that was quite applicable to this situation. It’s amazing how much ‘being in your own head’ can impact how well a run goes. Onward and upwards as they say!

Apart from a Friday 3 miler, which went by with relative ease, that concluded my training last week. I feel like last week was more of a light introduction for those who are getting back into the swing of things, which was ideal for me, coming off the back of an interval training phase. I’m actually midway through week 2 of my training as this goes live, but I’ll post about that next week.

Thanks for reading if you made it this far! Give yourself a firm pat on the back – I know I waffle! If you would like to sponsor me for this mammoth run, the money will be going to mental health charity, Mind. Linky linky below:

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

 

I GOT IN! – LDN Marathon 2016

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I really can’t believe I’m writing this post. When I was 16, I was so unfit that I could barely even walk up a standard flight of stairs without being short of breath at the top. The thought of running for longer than even a minute was completely alien to me. Fast forward 9.5 years to 2015 and I’ve just found out that I have gained a place on the Virgin London Marathon 2016. Holy shit.

In those 9.5 years I’ve spent hours in my mum and dad’s converted garage on a cross trainer, completed the P90X & Insanity programmes, shared a tiny council gym with lethargic teenagers in their PE class, pushed the limits with an awesome PT (Hi Will!), completed the very first UK Colour Run (5km) and then progressed to the 10km Race for Life. It’s been quite the journey, let me tell you. And now the bloody London Marathon! I’d say right now, I’m 50% crapping myself, 50% pure determination.

I’m running as part of the Mind team. For those who might not know, Mind is a UK based charity who focus on providing help for those suffering from mental health issues. They do some amazing work, including offering counselling services, supported housing, crisis helplines and they even help those who have had their lives overturned by mental health problems get back into training schemes and employment. Sometimes MH treatment can seem like it isn’t taken very seriously, which is frustrating for those struggling, as MH illnesses left untreated can have a far more damaging impact than so many physical illnesses. This is why it’s so important that charities like Mind exist.

Running the London Marathon for Mind has a very satisfying sense of symmetry for me. In the past, I’ve taken medication for depression. Sometimes even now I struggle with it. But one thing that has never, ever let me down, and I’ve always been able to rely on to give me a massive serotonin (happy chemical in the brain) boost is exercise. I can’t begin to estimate the number of times I’ve felt that sickening emptiness in the pit of my stomach, but forced myself to put on my gym kit and go for a run, and came back from that run feeling like I’ve conquered the world. Raising money for a charity like Mind, doing the very thing that has pulled me out of a hole so many times before – it’s a very humbling thought. Oh god, now I’m crapping myself again!

So I’m going to be blogging (and hopefully vlogging, providing my camera stops being an ass, but that’s a tale for another time) my training over the next few months. Firstly, I have a feeling I’m going to want to remember this ridiculous journey. Secondly, I’m going to be begging you for your sponsorship over the next 5ish months – the least I can do is keep you in the loop.

The following link takes you to my fundraising page. I understand completely if you don’t want to donate just yet, but please keep me in mind over the coming months. I’ve got a lot of hard work ahead, and your sponsorship would really mean the world to me.

www.virginmoneygiving.com/lucy-titterton