With the London Marathon only a couple of weeks away, MacMillan Cancer Support treated some of their runners and a selection of fitness bloggers like myself to a fun group workout class. (When I say ‘fun’, I am interpreting this very liberally, as you will find out later :-)) It was no other than Celebrity Personal Trainer, Theodora Valente who put us through our paces in the beautiful and modernly equipped Lomax Gym in Chelsea.
Even though I am not doing the London Marathon this year, I have plenty of other running challenges lined up, with my ultimate goal of being able to complete 12 half marathons in 12 months. (One down, only 11 more to go, yay!) Whilst we were waiting for the class to kick off, it was nice to be able to mingle with some like-minded
running nuts runners and fitness bloggers. Some of them I had only known from Facebook and Instagram until that point, such as the lovely Bei, the face behind the Bei Fit blog. I knew I had found my tribe when we started exchanging stories about races we had done and our favourite ways to train in the gym!
Most of us were not sure what exactly Theodora had in store for us. Someone in our group even did a cross-country trail race the same morning. (Surprisingly, I am not talking about myself here, although it would be quite typical of me to do something like that before trying a new class!) I have to say that just after the warm-up, I felt thankful that I had a very lazy and relaxing morning before coming to the class. I quickly found myself drenched in sweat as I was busting out squats, bench step ups, push-ups, kettlebell swings and many more moves, with my heart racing in my chest all along. By the time we got to the finisher which was a killer combination of burpees and plank shoulder taps (oooh, sweet Jesus!), I was ready to throw myself at Theodora’s feet and plead for mercy.
Me in action!
I did finish on an emotional high, though, feeling like a superstar. Hallelujah! The adrelanine boost and satisfaction I got from powering through this challenging, 25 minute session without throwing in the towel was totally worth every drop of sweat.
As a runner, I find that when you push yourself to your limits regularly, through your training runs and challenging gym workouts like this, you do not only build fitness, but you also forge mental toughness which you can then leverage on during your racing game. This is the athlete-mindset I have been advocating on my blog – you need to challenge yourself more, and spend more time outside your physical comfort zone, because that is when growth and transformation happens.
One team, one dream!
After the workout and the group photo, we reconvened in the lounge to re-fuel with some well-earnt protein drinks (↑), and to pick Theodora’s brains about the best strengthening exercises for runners. It turned out that some of the #TeamMacmillan runners were only doing running and no other type of training, in the lead up to the London Marathon, so that was the main focus of our short Q&A.
I very much share Theodora’s view that it is very important to supplement running with strength training to not only injury-proof the body but also to make yourself a stronger, faster and overall more efficient runner. According to the experts, just 15 to 20 minutes of running-specific strength workout two times a week could significantly reduce the risk for injuries, for example if you have a high weekly mileage. Obviously, the main focus should be on targeting those areas which play a key role in running, such as the lower body (especially the glutes), and the core. In my view, single leg exercises are also very important because running is basically a series of very coordinated one-legged hops, so exercises which are specific to the demands of running can be especially helpful.
The workout we completed is a great all-rounder for runners looking to increase their general fitness and to gain more strength, so I dare you to try it, too! This is definitely a keeper for me.
Da workout. You can have a 30 sec rest break between the rounds if you need to. Feel free to use a different weight to match your level of fitness. KB = kettlebell; DB = dumbbell; BB = barbell
Finally, before we headed back home, we were gifted with a nice MacMillan goodie-bag, which, amongst other things, included a cute textile shopping bag. On the whole, I had a really fun afternoon and I have no doubt that all these lovely ladies will smash their goals running the London Marathon. Thank you MacMillan Cancer Support for having me!
If you have missed out on this year’s London Marathon, why don’t you pop over to the MacMillan website to browse amongst over 200 of their events UK-wide to satisfy your thirst for a bit of adventure? There is something for everyone from walking, to cycling and running, even triathlons!
Have you got a place at this year’s London Marathon or will you be cheering on for someone? What is your next challenge? Let me know in the comments!