NTC Live Festival

Back in November of last year, I went to my first Nike Training Club live class on Clapham Common. I’ve always been pretty scared to talk too much about the classes since, mostly because they are free but also because they are pretty awesome, and quite frankly I still want to be able to get a spot on them. But as it’s summer, the timetable has expanded massively, with loads of mid-week outdoor classes added – I highly recommend checking them out via the Facebook page.

Anyway, as a regular(ish) attendee of NTC – and after a little bit of Facebook registering and QR scanning – I got myself an invite to the first Nike Training Club live festival which was held this weekend at Old Billingsgate right on the Thames.

Me and my friend Lou turned up uber keen before the queue even formed or the doors even opened, but when we were eventually let in we were treated to NTC classes, a NTC yoga class, a WAH nail bar, a tasty healthy lunch, music, challenges, massages and my first ever taste of coconut water.

Vertical jumps, jump rope, foot fires

Nail bar

Yoga time

NTC Live class

Basically, what an awesome way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

GNR training: week two

Another quiet week on the blogging/running/training front, which has lead to week two not showing anything in the slightest in terms of progress.

One gym class (boxercise), one run (a measly 2.2 miles) and a visit to the NTCLive festival on Saturday (more to come on that) are all I can add to this week’s list of activities.

The list of excuses this week however includes: rain, a last minute invite to the Katy Perry film premiere, hunger, rain and the boyfriend’s birthday night out in Camden.

On the plus side, my snazzy new toy – a Garmin 410 – arrived mid week, so I’m looking forward to having a play with that, and working out how to get the most of it. After all, it was slightly more than the price of the Nike+ Running app.

The only thing that’s preventing me from panicking at this stage is that my Berlin training was only 10 weeks long from a fairly similar base of appalling fitness, so it can still be done! Onwards and upwards (again)…

GNR training: week one

Monday this week signalled the start of the 12 week countdown to this year’s Great North Run. And 12 weeks to go means the start of the training plan proper. So I thought throughout the course of my training I’d do a quick Sunday weekly round up to track my (probable lack of) progress.

I posted my training plan here a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to mix it up quite a lot from my Berlin training plan, but this has meant that my cross training is lumped together at the beginning of week, with a heavy running-focussed end of the week.

Last weekend was filled with fitness and friends. I did the Clapham Common NTC class on Saturday with my uni friends Charlie and Lou. Then on Sunday, it was a Berlin roomie reunion and a run with Maja, Soph & Jackie along the canal from Angel to Victoria Park, with a post-run brunch at Broadway Market. Loveliness.

But that was last week. I did just write a two whole paragraphs about the seven days that followed my weekend of loveliness – filled with no running and lots of excuses – but I’ll spare you. Excuses are not good enough (or interesting to read about). In summary, this week = one 3 mile run and one gym class. NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

Wrists slapped. Panic slightly more heightened. Week two can only get better.

Glutes of steel

Image source

When I first decided I wanted to run half marathons, I told my boyfriend I wanted ‘calves of steel’. I was a little bit jealous of his, I wanted rid of the slight wobble and the legs of a proper runner. There were two problems with this. Firstly, getting calves of steel meant becoming very well acquainted with a foam roller (mmm the glorious yet puke-inducing muscle crunching). Secondly, I decided to focus on completely the wrong area – it was not my calves that needed to be awesome to be a runner – it was my butt.

In the run up to the Berlin half, I was having problems with my left knee. Not pain as such, just something not feeling quite right. I sensibly visited Carly at Advance Physio on a recommendation (and due to them being the only practice in Nottingham – and London – who actually answered their damn phone) who told me that the problem was in fact my glutes, rather than my knees.

Naturally, there is tonnes of information on the internet detailing the importance of glute strength for distance runners. And naturally a lot of it I don’t understand. Thank goodness for Runner’s World (in this case the US edition), for summing it up in a way that makes sense:

When we run, the glutes hold our pelvis level and steady, extend our hip, propel us forward, and keep our legs, pelvis, and torso aligned. So when our glutes are faulty, our entire kinetic chain gets disrupted. Studies link glute weakness to Achilles tendinitis, shinsplints, runner’s knee, and iliotibial-band syndrome. Indeed, many injured runners I treat come to physical therapy with strong abdominals and backs but weak glutes.

Part of the problem is that glutes aren’t as active as other running muscles during routine activities, which can make your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves disproportionately stronger. Another issue is that most strength-training routines don’t isolate the glutes. If an exercise requires several muscles to perform the movement, the majority of the work will be done by the strongest of those muscles. Also, tight muscles, specifically the hip flexors, can inhibit the glutes and prevent their muscle fibers from firing.

Without wanting to get all the technical stuff wrong, I will summarise: my hip flexors are too tight, my glutes aren’t strong enough, my ITB suffers. Hence the knee pain.

                                           My taped up leg during the final week of Berlin half training

As pretty as the tape is, I’m in no rush to have it back. So, this time round I’m going the exercises given to me by the physio for my glutes and hip flexors. And it’s ALL ABOUT SQUATS. I’m going to the Glute Blast class at my gym every week, which is awesome and now now one of my favourite classes. Tonnes of squats and lunges with the bar on your back, lots of very unflattering floor work on all fours and finishing off with the whole class in a line against the wall doing t h e  l o n g e s t  s q u a t  e v e r. It’s ace.

I love squats… how about you?