Five prep tips if you’re an early morning gym-goer

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  1. Hotel miniatures – To save you from carting around big bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash stock up on mini bottles from hotels whenever you go away. I came back from Italy with loads of miniature shower gels, shampoos and conditioners which are perfect to keep in your gym bag. Alternatively you can buy small travel bottles to fill with your own shampoo/conditioner/body wash to take to the gym to save space in your bag and make sure you’ve always got them.

    travel container

    Travel container from superdrug.co.uk

  2. Pack your bag – This is such a simple one but it means you can have that little bit longer in bed if you know your bag is packed and ready to go. Laying out your gym kit the night before is also one less thing to do in the morning so you’re not dashing around trying to find some clean socks or the shorts you want to wear. Basically it’s just a good time saver and takes the unnecessary stress out of your early morning routine. Don’t forget to pack a couple of carrier bags too for your sweaty clothes and wet towel.
  3. Hair dyer creased clothes – I always pack my gym bag the night before and more often than not I’ll have packed a top for work that should really be hung up rather than folded and stuffed into a gym bag. Come 7.30am when I’ve finished my session it’s in desperate need of an iron. Never fear though because the gym hair dryers come in pretty handy here. Use them on the warm/hot setting and it blows out the creases in no time at all.blow-dryer-311549_640 (1)
  4. Dry shampoo and a doughnut– I wish I had the patience to carefully blow dry my hair and then curl/straighten it as some women do every morning at the gym. Truthfully I just can’t be bothered after a tough session, I just want to get ready and go so I can eat! If I’ve not done a session where I’ve got seriously sweaty I’ll spray some dry shampoo in my hair and then use my faithful doughnut. Sadly I’m not talking about a Kirspy Kreme here but the hair doughnut you stick your pony tail through and pull your hair over the top to create a giant messy bun. These are absolute lifesavers and believe it or not they actually work better on unwashed hair and you can’t even tell you’ve come straight from the gym!

    Wearing the doughnut post 1 hour run before a quick turnaround for a Crossfit WOD a couple of hours later.

    Wearing the doughnut post 1 hour run before a quick turnaround for a Crossfit WOD a couple of hours later.

  5. Food prep & post workout snacks– I always make my breakfast the night before to save time and money. If you make it the night before you know you’ve got it to devour straight after your workout and you don’t need to worry about how and when you’re going to refuel. Check out my overnight oats recipe which is a great post workout breakfast to have on the go. Also it’s worth packing a snack to take after if you’re someone who takes a while to get ready or likes to eat breakfast at your desk. Aim to eat the snack (or your breakfast) within 30 minutes of finishing your workout.

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    My overnight oats (recipe in previous post)

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Balancing marathon training with strength training

 

So the countdown for the Berlin Marathon is officially ON!

Berlin marathon

The race is now just under three months away and I’m already halfway through my running programme and it’s really starting to ramp up.

Last week was a big week volume wise and after my final long run on Saturday my legs definitely knew it. As part of my programme I’m supposed to run every day but I’ve also started a new strength training programme to help keep me injury free and to make improvements to aid my running.

Up until recently I had been going to CrossFit as often as I could but after starting the new programme I soon realised that I wouldn’t be able to perform well during my runs after some of the WODs. So it’s with a heavy heart that I’ve had to say goodbye to CrossFit until the marathon is over and I’ve since joined a regular gym to try and get three strength sessions a week in.

I’m now on my fourth week of trying to combine my running programme with strength sessions alongside and although it has been difficult at times I’m really enjoying what has been programmed and doing something a bit different. I’m also slowly getting used to balancing the two.

I should probably say that I only do strength sessions on the days where I have recovery runs programmed or if I’m missing a recovery run to do strength instead. I also try to avoid the gym completely before any speed sessions and long runs.

Here’s a little snippet of what one session of my current programme looks like:

strength sesh 1

I’m lucky enough that my boyfriend Dane is a fantastic strength and conditioning coach who knows exactly what I need to be doing in order to get the most out of my running and hopefully stay injury free (touch wood). He has written me a brilliant programme which lasts for four weeks before it’s on to the next one.  He’s also prescribed the sets and reps for each week and my favourite thing by far is a good dumbbell circuit with some weighted burpees thrown in.

At the moment there’s a lot of focus on getting strong glutes and a strong core but Dane will be able to talk a lot more knowledgeably on the benefits of strength training for athletes than I can so head over to his blog for more information.

Strength training for runners is important for a variety of reasons though. Here’s a couple of them:

  • It helps you to stay injury free! Pretty self explanatory really, what runner doesn’t want this!? Strength training helps to keep you strong and correct imbalances that naturally occur in your body/running form. You’re going to need strong glutes and a strong core to keep good form when you’re racing. Running with good form also makes you a more efficient runner which translates in to faster min/mile speeds.
  • You can get faster by building strength in your legs and as mentioned above good form will prevent you from falling apart in the last stages of a race which can often be the difference between achieving a PB or not.
  • Strengthening your body will help to make running feel easier as your body will be able to deal with the stresses of running more easily as your muscles will be able to perform for longer before you start to tire.

So that’s where I’m up to at the minute. I go on holiday for two weeks on Saturday (YAY!) but here’s what my running programme looks like this week. Although this isn’t the original as I’ve had to adapt it and change things round due to work commitments and important appointments (hair, nails and waxing) haha! After this week I’m on to phase 3 of my programme, eek, where is the time going!?

Happy running everyone!

Monday: 30 min spin class + 20 mins steady state cardio (uphill walking)
Tuesday: 30 mins easy pace with 8 x 20-30 sec strides
Wednesday: Q1: 2 miles easy pace + 6 x 5-6min threshold pace w/1min rest + 2 miles easy pace
Thursday: 30 mins easy pace
Friday: Q2: 0.6 miles at interval pace with 3-5min recovery jogs until reached 10K
Saturday: HOLIDAY!! 30min easy pace with 7 x 20-30 sec strides.

 

 

Finding my happy pace: Easter weekend 18 miler

I can’t quite believe that it’s just 12 days until the Manchester Marathon!

18 miler

I’m finally allowing myself to get excited about the thought of reaching the start line now! After a couple of months of “should I or shouldn’t I” run the marathon I’ve settled on “maybe I can after all.”

If you’re familiar with my blog you might have read my posts on my sub 3.45 marathon goal for Manchester and then how an injury  threw a spanner in the works.

However, despite ruling it out for a while I’ve persevered and tried to get the miles in without getting too stressed that I was about a month behind where I should be in my training plan.

Anyway, this weekend, spurred on by the good weather and the lure of Easter eggs, I hit the roads to see if I could manage 18 miles.

I set out at about 7.50min/mi pace for the first couple of miles, trying to slow down to an 8.35 pace which would be my ideal marathon pace for Manchester. I soon settled in to a steady rhythm and despite feeling a twinge in my knee at mile 5 it wasn’t enough to quit so I carried on and it soon went.

Mile 9 came and it was time to turn around and run back. I took a bottle of water with me which had an orange flavour High5 Zero Electrolyte tablet in and I also had one tube of tropical punch flavour Shot Bloks.

In case you’re interested in how I fuel my long runs, I normally don’t take a drink or any energy gels with me unless I’m running more than 10-12 miles.

I had my first drink and Shot Blok at 9 miles and then every three miles after that, so another drink and Shot Blok at 12 and then my final one at mile 15. I didn’t end up drinking the whole bottle of water and had three Shot Bloks in total.

I felt good throughout the run and it was so nice to be running in the sunshine and without a jacket on for once! Hello spring!! 🙂

I managed 18 miles in 2 hours and 28 minutes which I was thrilled with! Last year when I was training for the Yorkshire Marathon I ran 20 miles in 3 hours and 3 minutes so I definitely feel as though I’ve improved which is a major confidence boost ahead of the marathon.

I finished with a victory dance in the street and a bemused look from a couple of dog walkers but I was so happy! I refuelled with an egg scramble and then some chocolate – not the best refuel I know –  before heading out for some shopping and amazing Hotel Chocolat hot chocolate with my mum. Later that evening Dane and I celebrated at Ambiente Tapas (he’d spent a good three hours mountain biking!) and it was delicious. Ambiente Tapas is my favourite restaurant so if you’re in Leeds or York it’s definitely worth a visit!

Heading out for tapas to celebrate.

Heading out for tapas to celebrate.

I’m now feeling much more confident about the marathon but will see how the next two weeks go and if there’s any sign of my injury flaring up I’ll re-think my plans.

Happy running! 🙂

Thursday night training run

11 miler

It will be six weeks on Sunday until the Manchester Marathon and I think it’s fair to say that my training has not gone to plan at all due a knee injury.

However Thursday nights training run was a success so I thought I’d share with you where I’m at right now.

This was my longest run since the Yorkshire Marathon back in October, yes, OCTOBER! I can’t quite believe it has taken me this long but like anything else where injury is involved these things take time and it’s best to do it right.

Anyway, I was going to try either 10k or 10 miles on Thursday night; there was literally no plan other than go out and run and see how I felt.

I mapped a route out in my head, strapped on lady Garmin and off I went in to the night! I got to 10k and felt good so thought I may as well carry on to 10.

However I’d misjudged the route and ended up doing 11 and even though I had done 10 miles on Sunday that extra 1 mile was HARD.

It felt great to get the miles in my legs and it’s also a confidence boost too knowing that I am still capable of running far and it’s just a case of building it back up.

I also managed to beat my 10 mile time from Sunday by a minute as well, happy days.

Here’s a breakdown of my timings & mile splits:

Total time: 1.30.11
Distance: 11.01 miles
Average pace: 8.11/mi
Calories: 1087

Mile splits:
1- 8.35
2 – 8.17
3 – 8.07
4 – 8.17
5 – 7.37
6 – 8.14
7 – 8.10
8 – 7.38
9 – 8.13
10 – 8.13
11 – 8.41

If I averaged 8.11/mi pace for a marathon I’d be finishing in 3.34.

Looking forward to pushing myself harder as I get back to track soon and start doing some shorter, faster runs at half-marathon pace/quicker than half-marathon pace with Dane. 

Hope you all go out and find your happy pace this weekend! Tag me in your pictures @hannahbryan91 or #hannahshappypace on Instagram. 🙂

Friends who train together, stay together

Not every gym session has to be programmed and followed rigidly, sometimes it’s good to just hit the gym with your friends and do what you fancy. Not only is it fun but it also reminded me why I love training so much. I laughed whilst trying to hula-hoop, exhausted myself on the battle ropes and flipped a 60kg tyre around the gym floor with my best friend – what could be better than that!?

Kicking off 2015 with two training sessions on New Year’s Day my friend Liana and I headed to her gym (Virgin Active) for a training session where we pretty much spent an hour and a half working on technique and discovering new, fun ways to train. It had probably been a good six months since I had trained in a commercial gym so I was like a little kid in a sweet shop when I got there, jumping on boxes, checking out the free weights area and getting my feet all caught up in the TRX bands.

Laughing as we got caught up in the TRX bands

Laughing as we got caught up in the TRX bands

Liana and I started by going back to our primary school roots with a hula hoop session. The last time I picked up a hoop I was probably in Year 3 with my hair in a high pony tail and wearing ankle socks…not much has changed really! Although we were just having a laugh it is actually a really good workout. Hula hooping is great for your core as it requires you to keep your abs engaged at all times. It can also be used to help tone the rest of your body. For example try spinning the hoop on one arm held straight up above your head whilst keeping your abs engaged. To tone the lower half of your body try and spin the hoop around your knees whilst keeping the glutes and abs tight to reap the rewards of this fun exercise.

Next we headed for the battle ropes. This was the first time I had been able to try these and I was excited to do so after seeing lots of workout videos on Instagram of people using them, particularly ultra runner Bec Wilcock. Using battle ropes is a great low impact training method yet it can still yield big results. It puts less stress on your joints but still gives you a really good workout which builds muscle and burns fat simultaneously. Not only that but you can also take them outside and tie them anywhere which means that come summer time it’s the perfect excuse to ditch the gym and train in the park.

We also worked on our squat technique before moving on to one of my favourite exercises, pull ups. I’ll never forget the day I did my first pull up, mainly because it was on my birthday, but also because it was a goal of mine to do at least one before 2015. Liana also got her first one on New Year’s Day which was very exciting for both of us.

We finished our New Year’s Day workout with a three minute power plate blast with some running intervals in between which was a lot tougher than it sounds, trust me! Basically, we started 2015 as we mean to go on with plenty of training but also having lots of fun whilst working hard. Bring on the rest of the year 🙂

Forget the Sunday roast

After getting home at 4am following a night of dancing, my friend Liana and I decided that we were going to get smoked salmon for lunch the next day, or later that day should I say.
But after a slightly longer than planned lie in (I think all that dancing had worn me out) and a lengthy gym session it was time for dinner rather than lunch – and we were in charge of cooking for the whole family!

Chicken is pretty central to our diets so dinner was of course centred around that.

So here is our take on a classic Sunday dinner: Mediterranean chicken

You will need:
As many chicken breast as you like (we had five)
One can chopped tomatoes
One jar passata
Aubergine
Courgette
Garlic
Onion
Olives
Sundried tomatoes
Peppers
Capers
Sunflower seeds (toasted under the grill for a few mins)
Pumpkin seeds (toasted under the grill for a few mins)
Fresh basil

Whilst the chicken is baking in the oven, prep the veg for roasting.
Leave out the capers, olives, sundried tomatoes and nuts. Add the veg to a roasting tin before adding the chopped tomatoes, passata and some cracked black pepper.
Once the vegetables are cooked, chop the chicken and stir in before adding the olives, sundried tomatoes, toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds and fresh basil.

Another simple yet extremely tasty meal that sticks to the clean eating plan. For those who want to add something exta, throw in some sweet potato to the roasted vegetables.

Homemade Mediterranean chicken

Homemade Mediterranean chicken

#cleantreats

You can go right ahead and file this one under #cleantreats.

Finding a sweet treat to satisfy that after dinner craving when you’re an avid follower of a clean eating plan can be a daily battle.
But treating yourself after dinner needn’t be such a struggle anymore. Whilst having an active weekend with my best friend and fellow clean eater, (dancing until it was too painful to walk in our heels and trying out fun new exercises at the gym), we discovered the perfect sweet treat – minus the sugar, chocolate and all of the other bad things we tend to avoid.

Protein pancakes.

All you need is two eggs (one whole egg and one egg white) and three scoops of protein powder. We tried vanilla and chocolate but they would work with any.
Add a little bit of coconut oil to a pan after creating your pancake “batter” – add some water to the mix if it is too glooopy – and pour a small amount in to the pan. Basically, you make them the same way as any other pancakes!
It genuinely is that simple (although it did take us a few tries to perfect them but by the fifth pancake we had definitely mastered it.
Check it out…

Chocolate protein pancake with stewed plums and frozen berries.

Chocolate protein pancake with stewed plums and frozen berries.

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Chocolate protein pancake - it was tastier than it looks, promise!

Chocolate protein pancake – it was tastier than it looks, promise!

We topped ours with stewed plums (courtesy of Liana’s fantastic mum Anne) and frozen fruit. Not only did they satisfy our sweet tooth but we got our protein hit too, an ideal combination.

The rest of the weekend was as usual centred around food and exercise so I thought I’d share some of the other creations we made. Check them out on the next post.