Wonder Woman Fitness

Archive for October 2010

Keep on running part 2

Improve your running

So you have completed your first 5k, found the joys of running, or feel ready to push yourself a little further.  Yes you can easily just run further or faster but there are other ways to improve your running training.  From years of training, mostly doomed attempts, I pushed and pushed my body because I was young and I didn’t feel any pain.  I would run and run and I never thought that I was actually overtraining my body.  However this all became apparent when I turned 29!!!! My body fell to bits, it basically told me it had had enough of me.  So after hip, lower back, knee and a major Achilles problem I decided to look at how I train and it was easy I just replaced some of my running with cross training (cardio exercise that isn’t running) lifted some weights (to strengthen and build my muscles) and most importantly I rested my body.  If you take anything from this blog trust me when I say listen to your body.  It is a great piece of machinery.  When it comes to our bodies we really do have to use them or lose them, but it’s how we use them that counts.  If we let them go to waste, we’ll wake up one day wanting to do something and realise that we can’t.  By not pushing and challenging ourselves we are going to lose mobility and our bodies will decline.  So if your goal is to stay fit, lose weight, or run a marathon understand that your body is a marvellous machine, make it your best friend and most importantly treat it well.  For example if there is pain there is normally something wrong.  If you feel tired, no energy or no strength then don’t train, simples…….

 So lets look at how you can improve your running:

 Fartlek training: This running technique is similar to interval training however the sprints and recovery are not as measured it really depends on how you are feeling at the time.  When you are out running or on the treadmill you might warm up for 5 minutes at a brisk jog, then increase the speed for 3 minutes, then increase it further for another 2 minutes, then decrease your speed for 5 minutes so you can recover and so on.  So the interval times are sometimes just made up.  The good thing about fartlek training is it is up to the individual as to how long and how hard you run.  A good fartlek session would last no more than 30 minutes and you should feel like you have worked hard by the end of it.  Remember you can take it down to a walk if need be in the recovery or slower phase.

Try these sessions:


Fartlek Workout

Warm up

5 minutes – walk/slow jog at 3.5 MPH, at a 7% incline.

One mile

Run at 6.0 MPH.

Rest Set

Slow it down to 5.0 MPH and run for 3 minutes.

Work Set

Speed up to 6.8 MPH for 30 seconds.

Rest Set

Go back to 5.0 MPH for 3 minutes.

Rest/Work Sets

Keep repeating the 3 minute/30 seconds intervals until the clock reaches 25 minutes.

One mile

Run at 6.0 MPH for another mile.

Cool down

Slowly jog for 5 minutes at 3.5 MPH at a slight incline (5% to 7%).

 Or try this beginners one:

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 30-45 minutes

Here’s How:

  1. After a 5 to 10-minute warm up, speed up to faster than your comfortable pace.
  2. Run at this pace to a nearby landmark, such as a parked car, a telephone pole, or a stop sign.
  3. Once you’ve reached your landmark, slow your pace to below your normal running pace, until you’ve fully recovered and your breathing has returned to normal.

Then return to running at your normal pace, and repeat the same pattern of fast segment, short recovery, normal pace, until you’ve completed four to six fast segments

Hills:  This is exactly what it says on the tin, running up hills for a period of time.  Hill training is a great way to strengthen the larger muscles of your legs plus with the incline it becomes more challenging so therefore burns more calories.  Try this very simple training program: find a steep hill roughly 40 – 80 m long.  Run up and jog/walk back down to recover.  Try these drills: start with 10 reps building up to 20, 5 runs at 50% max speed, 2 to 3 runs at 80% max speed and 1 sprint at max speed.  Phew, however, I can tell you that hill training really works and it doesn’t take long.  Down side to it though it is hard work but on the plus side its great for your butt!!!!

 Cross – Training: This is a great way to recover and have a day off from running.  However there are people who think that the best way to train for runs is to run and I do agree with that to some extent.  I think that cross training is great when you are not weeks away from a run or an event as you really want to be running and it is also great when you are injured.  Cross training was my saviour when I couldn’t run for nearly 3 months with an Achilles injury, I mainly did cycling and swimming and some weights.  So cross training does have its benefits.  If you are doing a cross training session try and use exercises that use the same muscles as running for example cycling, X trainer, rowing, swimming and weight exercises that use full body movements.  So why not skip a running session with 15 minutes hard push on the X Trainer with 15 minutes on the bike and maybe 10 minutes on the rower.  Make sure that when you have finished on these machines that you feel you have worked hard.  Full body movements with weights can include squats, squat and press, lunge and raise and press ups.  I use my cross training days to do whatever I fancy as long as it does not involve running and it usually always ends with a good relaxing stretch session.

 Strength Training:  This training is ideal for strengthening your bones and your muscles, however to run and run over a good distance and in a good time, you do not want to be carrying extra weight or bulk that can be added with weights.  So there are mixed views on strength training and running.  Personally I love weight training, I get to train indoors in the warmth and I like to be strong.  The best way to look at it is that weight training will give you a nice toned look and change your shape.  You can use weight machines (which are safer for beginners) or use hand weights (which use more muscle = burn more calories) to do your training.  If you spend most of your time running and you are entering runs then the best option would be to lift weights but to lift a lighter weight over higher reps.  This will give your muscles more endurance.  A good tip is to try and cover all the muscles in your body to achieve a balanced look.

A beginner’s weight training session would include something like this:






Bench press (FW), chest press machine, press ups, chest flies (FW)

10 – 20

1 – 2



Lateral pulldown machine, seated cable row (FW), one arm row (FW)

10 – 20

1 – 2



Lateral raise, shoulder press machine, seated shoulder press, front raise

10 – 20

1 – 2



Bicep curls, hammer curls both FW

10 – 20

1 – 2



Tricep extensions, tricep dips, tricep kickbacks, cambered French press all FW

10 – 20

1 – 2


Lower Body:

Squats, lunges, leg press machine, leg extension machine, leg curl machine, calf raise

10 – 20

1 – 2



Ab curls, oblique twists, reverse curls, leg drops, swiss ball curls, back extensions, plank, superman

10 – 20

1 – 2


 If you are unsure of these exercises please ask a qualified instructor at your gym or contact me via email and I will explain them in more detail

FW = Free weights or dumbbells

When doing weights it is important to find the right weight for you.  If you are doing 10 reps the last 2 should be difficult but you can still manage the exercise correctly.  If you feel that is getting easy, either increase the weight or the reps but you don’t really have to go above 20 reps.  If you end up doing 2 x 20 best to increase the weight then drop the reps to 2 x 10 again.

 Remember to Stretch:  Stretching is a good way to loosen off your muscles, improve flexibility and keep them healthy.  It should be part of your routine after every workout to have a good stretch.  The best way to do this is to stretch at the end if the workout.  The reason that you don’t stretch at the beginning of a workout is because stretching lengthens your muscles into a rested state.  When you are exercising you want your muscles short ready for action.  You can do mobility work before a workout for example high knees, arm swings, walking lunge, hip twists etc these will help loosen off the joints and make you feel ready for your workout.  Static stretching (where you don’t move) should be done at the end of your work out to relax your muscles and return then to their rested state.  Here are some stretches that I find great after a hard session in the gym or after a run.

Calf Stretch: Hold for 20 – 30 seconds each leg.  Put your weight into a wall and you will feel a further stretch.  Make sure the back leg is straight and keep your heel down 

running stretches

Calf stretch

Quad Stretch: Hold for 20 – 30 seconds each leg.  Balance on one leg use wall for support if needed.  Keep your knees together and push your hip forward slightly, hold foot at your laces.

running stretches

Quad Stretch

Hip Flexor Stretch:  Hold for 20 – 30 seconds on each leg.  Kneel on one knee and bring the other foot forward, a good distance between the front and back foot.  Push forward with the hips.  I find that if I place my hands on the inside of my front foot I get a further stretch.

Running Stretches

Hip Flexor Stretch

Glute Stretch: Hold for 20 – 30 seconds each leg.  Place one ankle on the other knee.  Lift one leg up and hold behind the thigh, you should feel a stretch in your butt.  Try and keep your head and shoulders relaxed on the floor

Running stretches

Glute Stretch

Hamstring Stretch:  Hold for 20 – 30 seconds on each leg.  Lying on the floor hold one straight leg behind the thigh.  You should feel a stretch in the back of your thigh.  With the other leg you can either leave it lying on the floor straight or bend in and keep your foot flat on the floor.  For a further stretch hold behind the calf of the straight leg.

Running stretches

Hamstring stretch



One for the ladies!!!! Keep on running.....

Holidays - Spain

This is the life!!!!

Hi folks, as you can see I have been away on my holidays, I am just back with a new blog for you, enjoy 🙂

Healthy eating

The Cleansing Diet

Like most people and certainly most women I battle with my weight be it wanting to lose a few pounds to a bit more. I only ever want to lose a bit of weight so I am lighter to carry my huge bulk around my runs and also when I enter my first triathlon in April I would really like to be 10kg lighter, we can but hope.

The problem I have is I love my food. No I really do!! I live to cook and more importantly I love to eat so there lies my problem there isn’t a food I won’t eat!!! I also have a condition which is called Ulcerative Colitis which is a life long condition of the small intestine. At its worse it can really be a debilitating condition as you are constantly at the toilet and you can suffer from pains and discomfort. However I have had this condition for almost 6 years and I am living an active, happy and normal life. I can still eat, drink and exercise. Although, recently I had a flare up of my condition which meant being put on a course of steroids by my GP. Now I am used to doing this however I thought that maybe if I can change my diet and cleanse my body it would help my body heal better and save me having to take more medication. Plus steroids make me look like a hamster lol [Symbol]

The following blog is about my experience on a cleansing diet. It was not specifically designed for ulcerative colitis sufferers, it is taken form a book called ‘Clean and Lean Diet’ by James Dugan. In this book he talks about what foods are toxic to your body and what are the best things to put in your body. Now I do not usually read or follow ‘diets’ but this book really made me think about what I put in my body and I read it from cover to cover. So if you are intrigued read on and I would recommend this to anyone who suffers from IBS, Ulcerative Colitis and also Chrome’s Disease and also anyone who would like to cleanse their insides and maybe lose a few pounds in the process. I would recommend that you do it for no longer than 7 days though. Enjoy [Symbol]

Day 1:

I am having nutritious food but I am completely craving carbs. All I want is to eat a whole loaf of bread with some real butter [Symbol] I am not missing fruit however I am suffering from headaches which could possibly be from carb withdraw. Hoping that day 2 is going to be better, not really enjoying this. I cheated tonight as I had a cereal bar when I got home the carb craving was so bad but apart from that I followed the plan.

Day 2:

I woke up feeling great today. I had no cravings and no headaches also I felt cleaner and lighter. As I did not eat any carbs yesterday (we will ignore the cereal bar!!) I did not feel bloated at all and had energy.

Day 3:

Oh no, woke up feeling terrible [Symbol] and had a sore stomach. So I decided to swap my breakfast for some porridge as a carb kick. However as I prepared my porridge I suddenly didn’t feel the need for it. This approach to food has made me re-think how food affects my colitis and how it affects how I feel. Although porridge is a healthy breakfast I knew it would make me feel sluggish and more heavy and plus it was only day 3 of the ‘diet’ I couldn’t give in yet!!!!

Day 4:

Had such a craving for something sweet last night and I did not think I had a sweet tooth lol [Symbol] It has been suggested by the author of the ‘Clean and Lean Diet’ that if you have cravings you can take Glutamine which has numerous health benefits such as: promoting the maintenance of a healthy digestive tract, may promote mental alertness and improve mood and memory, may boost immune function and fight infection, helps prevent muscle loss and most importantly if you have a sweet tooth it may decrease sugar cravings and the desire for alcohol!!!! Plus it is good for people who suffer from colitis so I will give it a go.

I was completely addicted to coffee, my regular would be 1 ½ teaspoons of coffee, 1 teaspoon of sugar and some milk, and that would be 4 – 5 times a day minimum!!!! Now I have realised that this may not be the best for me. So I have changed my coffee for some real espresso coffee (2 a day) some cinnamon (natural sweetener) and some organic whole milk and voila it does the trick I don’t seem to need anymore coffee and I sleep so soundly as I am not taking caffeine after lunch time

Day 5:

Woke up feeling great today. I was quite relieved that my weight hadn’t dropped anymore. I had lost 4lbs in 4 days which for me was too much. Still staying on track with the correct food.

Day 6:

I tried to train today and found I did not have enough energy for the type of training that I do. I think this diet approach is ideal for 6 – 12 days. People should not do this for more than 12 days as it is meant to be a clean out. If like me you exercise try not to exercise whilst doing this but only keep to the diet for max of 7 days. I know that today is my last day as I want to train now. However I will definitely come back to this if my colitis has flared up or if I have over indulged!!!! I would recommend this to anyone to at least try it for 6 – 7 days, remember though that the first few days will be very hard especially if like me you based your diet on carbs before. I will now have only one meal each day with carbs and one snack so I am not overloading myself with carbs. I will also have one cheat day a week where for one meal I can have whatever I want mmmmmm……….. and I’m sure sticky toffee pudding will be that meal [Symbol]

Ok, so what did I eat? Here it is.

Day 1 – 3:

B:  Scrambled eggs (1), cup full of raw spinach and 50g smoked salmon

S:  75g cooked chicken and raw veg mix

L:  Salad: 100g ham, ¼ avocado, raw spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, mixed salad leaves

S: Small handful of mixed seeds

D: Smoked mackerel fillet and green veg

Day 4 – 6:

B: 100g smoked salmon and chopped cucumber

S: 75g cooked chicken and raw veg mix

L: Salad as above

S: 1 tablespoon of hummus and raw veg mix

D: 100g roast chicken, roasted peppers and broccoli

Day 7 – 9:

B: 2 boiled (or scrambled) eggs, red peppers and ¼ avocado

S: 100g turkey and 2 oatcakes

L: Salad as before

S: 1 tablespoon of hummus and raw veg mix

D: Salmon fillet (or any fish fillet) with veg of your choice but no potatoes


•Drink plenty water

•Limit caffeine intake to 2 cups of tea or coffee a day

•No alcohol

•No carbs i.e. potatoes, bread, pasta etc and no fruit

•Where there are no measurements for the food (veg, salad etc) have as much as you want

•You can do this for 2 weeks if you want but I found 7 days was enough to feel the difference

•Use this diet whenever you are feeling bloated etc (only have to do it for 2 – 3 days) as this will sort your insides out

Until next time, keep active folks…….


Are you a beginner to running?  Not sure where to start?  Then read on my friends…… 

If you have always walked and fancied trying a jog but think that you are not fit enough or that you don’t have the confidence, believe me you are not alone.  There are so many people who want to take that step but just have no idea how to.  Running is a natural human instinct (I must admit there are some graceful joggers out there but mostly there are ungraceful ones like myself) we know how to do it and its inexpensive, a good pair of running shoes and some comfy clothes and your sorted. 

I have encountered many people over the years who are scared to progress from walking to running.  But once they made that first scary step they found that they really enjoyed it, they loved the difference it made to their body and also to their confidence.   

I have found that one of the most effective ways to make a start to running is to enter yourself in a 5k.  Now I know that this may seem like a long distance to a beginner but in a lot of 5k’s you can easily adopt the walk-jog strategy which is ideal for beginners.  The Race For Life events are ideal and they are so much fun (sorry guys these are aimed at women but there are 5k’s out there for you!).  They are brilliant events that women of all shapes, ages, sizes and fitness levels can take part in.  My first running event was a race for life 5k almost 10 years ago and I can still remember it and I believe that, that one event motivated me to do more and I’m sure they can motivate you too.  Once you have a goal in mind, every mile of training will take you just a little step closer to it.  Every step shortens the distance between you and your dream.  You may find, as I did, that you feel the achievement and the joy from doing it, oh and remember: A four minute mile is the exact same distance as a ten minute mile J

If you are still unsure of whether to replace your walking shoes with your running shoes just take a look at the benefits: 

  • Running is 2nd to cross country skiing in burning the most calories and is one of the best ways to lose body fat.  Plus it uses all the muscles in your body, so more muscles used, more calories burnt J
  • Muscles and bones get healthier and stronger due to the demands of running, this means you are more likely to delay or avoid the effects of osteoporosis and slow down the aging process
  • Running can help lower blood pressure, strengthen lungs, boost brain power, strengthen your heart and lower your cholesterol.
  • If you are running through the woods, the street or on the treadmill, when your happy hormones (endorphins to be technical) kick in everything seems to be a bit more manageable and you have a feeling that you are getting away from all the stresses of everyday life.


So I have convinced you to at least give running a try, what have you got to lose.  So here is a beginners running plan that you can use (all you need is a watch for outside or do it on a treadmill) that will break you into running gently and also it doubles as a 5k training schedule.  So by the last week you will be ready and fit enough to complete your first 5k!!! 

If with this program you do not feel ready to move onto the next week then repeat a week until you feel ready to progress.  Exercise and fitness is all about taking things steady, your training should push you but should not be too hard, and it is also about progression.  Slow and steady wins the race J 

Week Tuesday Thursday Sunday
1 20 minutes:1 minute walk – 1 minute jog 20 minutes:1 minute walk – 1 minute jog 25 minutes:1 minute walk – 1 minute jog
2 20 minutes:1 minute walk – 1 minute jog 20 minutes:1 minute walk – 1 minute jog 25 minutes:1 minute walk – 1 minute jog
3 20 minutes:90 secs walk – 90 secs jog 20 minutes:1 minute walk – 1 minute jog 25 minutes:1 minute walk – 1 minute jog
4 20 minutes:90 secs walk – 90 secs jog 20 minutes:2 minutes walk – 2 minutes jog Walk for 2 minutes then jog for 10 minutes
5 25 minutes:1 minute walk – 2 minutes jog 25 minutes:2 minutes walk – 2 minutes jog Walk for 2 minutes then jog for 12 – 15 minutes
6 25 minutes:1 minute walk – 2 minutes jog 25 minutes:1 minute walk – 2 minutes jog Walk for 2 minutes then jog for 16 – 20 minutes
7 25 minutes:1 minute walk – 3 minutes jog 30 minutes:1 minute walk – 3 minutes jog Walk for 2 minutes the jog for 21 – 25 minutes
8 35 minutes:1 minute walk – 3 minutes jog 20 minutes:2 minutes walk – 2 minutes jog Walk for 2 minutes then jog for 25 minutes

So now you can run constantly for 25 minutes, so enter that 5k and keep up with the training.  You can now proudly say “I run, therefore I am a runner”

Keep active folks…………….  🙂

Once the above program becomes too easy then why not try this.  It is suitable for a beginner,  intermediate runner and the ex-runner.  So why not try interval training, which is my favourite, as it pushes you hard and its over in about 20 minutes so it is ideal if you are prone to motivation and boredom problems 🙂 The idea of interval training is alternating sprints with recovery runs i.e 2 minutes at a fast run followed by 2 minutes at a slow jog.  This type of training at higher speeds makes your body work harder and burns up to 30% more calories to keep up with the demands plus it increases your fitness quicker. 

Try these interval training techniques:

20 minutes easy optionWarm – up for 2 minutes at a brisk walk or slow jog, then 4 x 2 minute hard running speed followed by 4 x 2 minute slower running, cool – down for 2 minutes at a slow walk.  This can be done on a treadmill or if outside use a watch or run to a marker – lamposts are great!!

30 minute intermediate option:  Warm – up for 3 minutes at a brisk walk or a slow jog, then 8 x 2 minutes of hard runnning followed by 8 x 1 minute slower running, cool – down with 3 miuntes at a slow walk. 


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