When scrolling through Instagram one day in the dark depths of January, I stumbled across something called The Happiness Planner. One click lead to another and before I knew it I had forked out 20 quid on what is essentially a really nice bit of stationery. But this is more than just a piece of stationery, more than a notebook, more than a bit of desk candy. This is a journal/planner/diary/whatever you want to call it that is all about well-being and leading a more positive life.
Since moving to London, I’ve found it hard to keep in a routine and this really bugs me. And since Christmas, the struggles of work have really gotten in the way of me being the best version of me that I can. This combined with the fact I tend to be a ‘glass half empty’ type of person, it is not a winning combination. I felt sad. I wouldn’t say I’ve ever been close to depressed, and I wouldn’t say I struggle with my mental health. But I sometimes just feel a bit down in the dumps, and I really don’t like it.
The idea of The Happiness Planner is to focus on what makes you happy. Sounds easy enough, right? Once I started thinking about what truly makes me happy and writing down my daily activities and feelings, it became very apparent that these happy things often get pushed to the side due to the stresses and strains of everyday life. One thing that already stands out to me already is if I don’t exercise, I feel annoyed and like a bit of a failure. Stupid really isn’t it. So I now know I need to make more of an effort to make daily exercise my routine (even if it means getting up at 5.30am to fit it in before work!), along with lots of other bits like not getting stressed about the cleaning in our flat!
After two weeks of jotting down what’s happened each day and turning negatives into positives, I really am starting to feel a difference in my general well-being. Each day I write my hopes for the day in my planner, and step out the door confident that I will achieve these things. And each evening I write down how each day has gone, reflecting on what I’ve done or felt like that day, and realising that my life isn’t really that bad at all :)
Although I do love to hate London’s fitness scene because of the cost, there’s also an awful lot of things going on that are completely free. I love to keep fit for free, especially as the cost of living in London is out of this world and I don’t work in finance. Now my shins are feeling better (not 100%, but my physio has said I’m good to go and they’re feeling like brand new legs to me, although I may always have niggles – humph), one of my new favourite free things to do in London is run with run clubs. Obviously running is free if you can do it outside (until you get injured and end up forking out a ton of money on private physio…hmm.) but it can sometimes get quite lonely. Run clubs are fab, although a little daunting to start with – I just had to buck up my ideas and be brave enough to go. I’ve so far been to two different run clubs, Be: Fit London Run Club and Shake Shack Track & Field, both of which have their perks! Be: Fit leaves from just around the corner from my work, and at Shake Shack Track & Field you get free chips! What’s not to love?! Ideally I would have run more than once with both of these clubs, but work got completely in the way of my life in January so it didn’t quite happen as much as I’d have liked to. Running with clubs also means I am making some like minded fitness friends – hurrah!
I’ve made a little pact to myself not to run without a run club or further than 5k until my legs are feeling stronger. I’ve got a lot of work to do if I ever want to run that marathon, and I really don’t want to undo all the work my physio did! The week before last, I was lucky enough to get a space on a Frame Barre class in Old Street station as part of Nike Women’s Week (another great thing about living in London is all this kind of stuff that goes on). I’d read from various blogs that Barre classes are especially good for runners legs, so I was very excited to go. After just 30 minutes of the free class and I was sweating and worn out, so obviously once I got home I booked straight onto a full 60 minute version at Frame at Kings Cross. Oh my – I am not a natural ballerina. But what a great workout for those legs and core – I was still hurting on Friday so it must’ve done some good! Unfortunately the classes are on the pricey side so I can’t afford to go every week at the moment, but once Frame opens at Victoria I’ll be spending one lunchtime a week there for sure!
As I write this, I’ve only just managed to get movement back in my upper arms – 48 hours after attending my first boxing class at Work It London. There are muscles hurting that I didn’t even know existed! But even with all the pain, I think boxing might be my new favourite hobby!
On Tuesday night I rushed from work to Oxford Circus to attend a Boxfit class. The instructor, Charlie, is an ex-pro MMA fighter so he definitely knows what he is talking about and I felt in very safe hands. The class started with burpees and a pretty intense ‘warm up’, which was followed by lots of throwing punches, being punched, footwork and more burpees. I was knackered after 10 minutes and I really didn’t know what I had let myself in for! The class followed a series of ‘drills’ working in pairs, with a number relating to each type of punch. Your partner would call out the numbers whilst holding the pads, and you would throw the punches. I didn’t realise how much concentration would be required, and after a hard day in the office it definitely kept my brain ticking along! What I thought was really good was how Charlie kept coming round to ensure everyone knew exactly what they were doing and knew how to do it properly. He advised me, as a complete novice, to concentrate on my footwork then apparently if your footwork is correct then your punches are better. I’m not sure if I’m any good at boxing, however my partner in the class said I have a great left hook! I put all my effort into every second of the class (even the burpees) and I definitely paid for it afterwards – on Wednesday I couldn’t move!
I have to say, I really enjoyed it and will definitely make it a regular part of my routine. The class worked parts of my body that I never even knew I could, and I really enjoyed the endorphin buzz when I left! I came home wanting to tell Dan about every single punch I’d thrown – I somehow don’t think he was as excited as me! It also great at taking my mind off my dodgy shins, and was a great alternative form of exercise that really worked both cardio and strength. All in all, a Tuesday evening well spent. I love that these studios are popping up all over the place, making sports like boxing a lot more available to women and a lot less intimidating – good work the British fitness scene!
They also had some really great mantra on the walls of their Oxford Circus studio – I do love a bit of positivity to live my life by!
So, it’s January. It’s dark, it’s cold, and we’re all trying to be a little bit healthier after the Christmas and New Year binge. And pretty much everyone I know is trying to save money – including me. I’m also trying not to run – my shins haven’t been doing good things for a week or two and I know I need to rest them. So I’ve been trying to get a bit of inspiration for another type of cardio I can do instead of running, that is all importantly low impact. Ideally, as it’s January, this alternative cardio will be indoors. Instantly my mind thinks of spinning. Great – there’s loads of cool spin classes in London that I keep seeing all over Instagram, surely I’ll have loads to choose from? No.
No because I don’t want to fork out 20 quid per class – I’m not made of money. I’ve got bills and rent to pay, and god forbid I actually want to have a bit of a life, pffft. Unless you are one of those people who a) are raking it in, b) still lives with your parents or even worse c) have Mummy and Daddy paying your rent for you, then I doubt many people can afford these extortionate prices. I don’t know anyone (ok, maybe I know one or two people) who can afford that. And it’s not limited to spinning – it’s all the classes (except Hot Pod Yoga, which I must say I am now appreciating even more about how reasonable it is). Even Classpass which I think is such a genius idea, is still too expensive for the normal twenty-something Londoner like me. What’s wrong with trying to earn a living in a job that doesn’t involve selling your soul to the devil, and keeping fit at the same time?
So for now, I am on the hunt for somewhere that has an introductory offer of some kind to kill the time before the gym opposite my work opens. (And FYI – I’m joining a gym which is £35 a month which is actually realistic on my budget). Any ideas of cheap classes fellow Londoners?
Sad news for me – I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that 2016 will not be the year I run my first marathon, despite being lucky enough to get a place in the London Marathon through the ballot. It’s been a huge battle of Jekyll and Hyde between the sensible side of my mind and the side that wants to live on the edge for the last few months, but sadly the sensible side has won (much to the relief of my physio and my parents), and I have decided to defer my entry to 2017.
The main reason for this is because of my long suffering shins, which are slowly getting better thanks to the incredible work by Capital Physio. I have blogged numerous times about having shin splints (see here) which I have been suffering with for almost two years now, but taking the plunge to opt for a private physio seems to be paying off – my shins are getting better! Hurrah! I’ve had a lot of sessions of deep tissue massage and acupuncture since October, and have had orthotics fitted for all my shoes. Turns out, it’s my flat feet that are the root of the problem, with my shins taking the brunt of the impact when I run and walk rather than the (non existent) arch in my foot. Also it has come to light that I have extremely weak legs (I was gutted when the physio told me this – I thought I had thighs of steel!) so I have a lot of work to do to strengthen those bad boys up.
So for now I will be sticking to a maximum of 5k twice a week (at Highbury Fields Parkrun and Be:Fit London Run Club) until I am in a healthy place to start upping my mileage. Combine that with lots of leg strengthening work (hello new-right-next-to-work-so-I-have-no-excuse gym membership), Kayla Itsines BBG and my weekly trip to Hotpod Yoga, and fingers and toes crossed my legs will soon be in a place to even start thinking about running a marathon.
If I’m honest, I’m gutted I can’t run the London Marathon this year, but it’s the best for me in the long run. My bank balance looks a little weary after months of having private physio, but I’ve been telling myself it’s for the best as it’s investing in myself and my future health and happiness. And at least I am lucky enough to have a ballot place which I can easily defer. I’m also so happy that my legs are on the mend – my physio said yesterday I am 80% there which is amazing really. So in the grand scheme of things, I can’t really complain.
It feels like forever and a day since I last blogged – life has been a tad manic, and I must admit I’m glad 2015 is over. Lots of things changed in 2015 which I found rather stressful although I’m glad they all happened, so now I am looking forward to 2016 and hopefully it’ll be a bit more of a relaxing year!
One of my goals for 2016 is to blog more, but to make sure it is relevant for me and not stress about it. I want to use this blog as a bit of a diary of my fitness so I can look back and see how far I have come rather than anything else.
So for now, lets use today to reflect on the past year (and eat up any left over Christmas chocolate) and to be inspired for the year ahead. Lets do this 2016!
Meh, it’s a cliche but it’s true. You wouldn’t attempt a driving test without having driving lessons first, you wouldn’t attempt an exam that your career depended on without doing some revision first, so why would you run a marathon without doing any training? You wouldn’t. There are probably the odd people out there who could run a marathon with very little training, but the majority of us would end up injured, or not being able to get through it at all. So that’s why I’ve created my super-duper, slightly obsessive, beautifully colour coded training plan..!
Yep, this is what will be gracing the doors of our wardrobe for the next 6.5 months! As you can imagine, Dan is over the moon, ha. I made it because I like routine, I like to know what’s coming up and I like it when I feel like I’ve totally got my shit together. And with this, I do!
I used a combination of the beginners training schedule in the London Marathon magazine and several I found online to create my own plan, one that should work for me. I know my body can’t cope with running more than 3 times a week, so that’s all I’ll be doing. I know I need to cross train so I’ll be carrying on with my weekly hot yoga sessions at Hot Pod Yoga, and I know I need to work on my strength which I’ll do on a weekly basis too. And giving myself 2 days a week to recover, I think I can do this.
I’ve colour coded everything broken down into its categories, and I’ve put everything on sticky Post-It notes so I can move the days around if I need to. I know what I need to achieve each week, but I can plan my busy job and (not so busy) social life around it. I don’t want marathon training to take over my life. People train for marathons with kids and numerous jobs, I don’t have either so I don’t have an excuse! For example, for the past 48 hours I’ve been struck down with a gross sick-bug so I’ve been stuck indoors off work with exercise strictly off the agenda. If that had happened during training, I would just move the days around. And if I miss a workout, it’s ok. The main ones I don’t want to miss are my long runs and yoga. You can see I’ve already started moving workouts around to fit into my social life, and with my ridiculously busy job I can imagine there’s going to be plenty of evenings where I don’t fancy going for a run. But it’s ok, I’m only human and I’m not perfect (no matter how hard I try to be).
Has anyone else created their own training plan with such precision? Does planning work for you, or do you like to go with the flow?