The problem with gyms

In the last ten years I have been a member of four gyms. They have all had the same thing in common – I ended up never going to them! I often ask myself why I used put myself through the rigmarole of joining gyms one after another – a kind of gym addiction you might say.

Here are a few promises that gyms hope to deliver:-

1. Exclusive surroundings with excellent facilities.
2. A chance to meet other like minded people.
3. A range of classes under one roof that you can’t normally do such as Zumba and body balance.
4. A chance to have a ‘fitness’ schedule done for you by a trainer. They will tailor it especially for you – good if you want to lose weight.
5. Personal training for one to one fitness coaching. Your own special motivator.
6. A place to relax in the jacuzzi, steam room and sauna.
7. A good quality cafe serving healthy snacks such as smoothies and open sandwiches.
8. Exercise done in a ‘safe’ way with encouragement. Good if you are unfit and not done exercise in a while.
9. Creates more space for you if you live in a small flat in a big city such as London.

Here is the reality of gym membership:-

1. They are expensive (I paid £60 a month) and often very busy at peak times. It’s cheaper for off peak membership but the allowed hours often don’t fit into your working schedule.
2. Hard to get on equipment in the actual gym – queuing for tread mills and exercise bikes! There is no wait to go outside for running.
3. They take much time out of your day. If you go to the gym after work several hours or more can be washed away.
4. Exercise routines designed for you are often repetitive and not challenging enough. Gyms are scared of being sued if something horrible happens to someone.
5. You have a complete lack of fresh air. Running in an air conditioned space can’t be good for you in the long run.
6. It’s harder to motivate yourself to go to the gym often a car journey away than it is to step outside your own front door with a pair of trainers on.
7. The relaxation areas are often too tempting. I often avoided the gym and plunged in the jacuzzi instead. Came out feeling lethargic and sleepy.
8. The gym cafe will probably sell chocolate bars and muffins. Again too tempting!
9. You need to be dedicated to disciplining your social life. A quick offer of a drink after work can cancel out a night at the gym. A mile a day on the other had can be slipped in easily into your routine.
10. If you travel or have regular holidays then your exercise routine is destroyed. One back the habit has been broken and hard to get into it again. With a mile a day I can run anywhere and do. At the minute I am holiday in Mexico and enjoying my early evening runs before dinner.

These are just done reasons why I don’t have gym membership anymore. I love running out doors everyday and I encourage you to do the same.

Do any of my readers have similar stories? I would love to hear them. Please comment freely.

Milerunner

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7 different miles in 7 days

If a mile a day is going to work for you you have to be creative. It’s fun to think of different ways in which you can run your mile. I have planned your week for you in this post. 7 different miles in 7 days. I would be really keen to know how you get on. Any more suggestions then please let me know.

Day 1

Choose a mile route you have never done before. Time it and measure it using your smart phone. Enjoy exploring and making it as different as you can to the ones you have done previously. Take foot paths and turnings that you have thought about taking but never had. Run for 2 minutes and have a 30 second break in between. If you go over the mile then don’t worry, it’s fine. Make it as close to the mile as you can.

Day 2

Do the same route as day 1 but in reverse. You don’t need to measure it this time as you know it’s a mile. Try to beat your time from day 1. Run all the way or do some faster sections. Use landmarks such as lamp posts or parked cars in the distance to accelerate to.

Day 3

Drive to a hill in your local area and park near by. Jog to the foot of the hill put don’t include this distance in the mile. This hill is going to be your playground for the next 15 minutes (or less). Run to the top of the hill without stopping. Don’t look at the top but concentrate on your feet moving, imagine someone at the top with a rope pulling you up. There is no rush but you mustn’t stop. Use the down hill as your cool down. You can walk if you want but you’ll probably find the feeling of free fall with gravity is enough. Lean forward a bit and you will get down with little effort. Feels like flying!

Day 4

Pack your running gear into a ruck sack and head for a nearby city. I live about 30 minutes by train from the centre of London so perfect for this. Go to a hotel and use their toilets to change into your sports gear. Head out and run for a mile through the streets. You may want to do some planning in advance using something like mapmyrun online. Choose your time wisely. I find early evening best when commuters have started their journey.

Day 5

Go back to the day one route and do some high intensity interval training. The pattern below works for me and gets my heart pounding and breath shortening no trouble.

2 min warm up – slow jog
20 sec very fast
20 sec cool down – walk
20 sec very fast

Repeat until you have completed your mile. Structuring in this way in some ways is more satisfying than the ‘random’ approach.

Day 6

Find a local park to run in. Often our parks especially in the UK are underused and are associated with childhood. Some of these parks are beautiful and have good car parks. Drive to one and enjoy the change of scenery. Even better cycle to one and you’ve done a bit of cross training as well. Using the park map will tell you the best parts , maybe a lake or a stream or a secret woodland garden. You could have a look online before hand.

Day 7

This is treat day. Run to a pub about a mile away and have a drink. Enjoy yourself – have a few and be merry. Walk back if you want to. Take a change of clothing in a ruck sack if you want to make a night of it. Combine this day with a meal out with friends – take your friends on the run with you.

Why not make tomorrow your day 1? Of course you don’t need to run the days in the order suggested! The whole idea of this habit is to find what works for you.

Milerunner

5 mile a day running hacks to make you work harder

If you want to get fitter i.e feel better and lose weight then you will need to add some challenge into your runs. Here are 5 possible ways of doing this. I I will write more soon.

1. Try to beat your last time for a mile. Choose a mile known to you and time yourself. If you took 14 minutes yesterday try for 12 minutes today. Make the walk breaks shorter and increase your speed by 10%. Just do what feels good for you. Don’t go mad bit just work a bit harder gradually.
2. Incorporate a hill into your work out. If you don’t have a hill near you then drive to one and do your mile up and down it.
3. If you usually have a few walk breaks which is fine then try to run your mile without any. If this is too daunting then run as far as you can without stopping at all.
4. Try some high intensity interval training. I have started doing what is called Tabata training during my daily mile routines. Basically you run as hard as you can for 20 seconds and then rest (walk) for 10 seconds. This is repeated 8 times. After the eighth repetition you really feel it.
5. Run out for half a mile and make a note of the time. Turn around and run back. Reset your timer and your challenge is to best your out time. See how much can you beat it.

What strategies do you use to add more challenge to your runs?

Milerunner

Mini-Guide on how to have a relatively healthy all-inclusive holiday

All inclusive holidays are notorious for being very unhealthy. You’ve paid your money and want to get value for that money once there. The dangers of this are easy to see. Here are some obvious ones.

1. Overeating: ‘free’ food being available all day. Meal times are dangerous with so many carbs on offer.
2. Drinking calories: With wine and beer on tap, all inclusive holidays are notorious for being very unhealthy.
3. Too much sun. Staggering from the dinner table to the lounger feeling heavy. You start with sun tan cream then get lazy into the second week. Heat rash and burn can result. Hello Pharmacy!
4. Dehydration: Water drinking can take a back seat. There is water in lager, right!
5. Spending too much money on trips and excursions: 2 weeks staying in the hotel grounds can be claustrophobic.
6. Not enough movement: No motivation to exercise is common.
7 Stress of being with other people: yes you are on holiday and yes you are with people that you love but stress and friction can occur especially at decision time. What shall we do today! Arrrrrrgh.

There are plenty more pitfalls but I will leave these to your imagination.

This mini guide is a few suggestions on how to have a healthy all inclusive experience.

1. Plan your alcohol: decide in the morning when and how many beers etc you will have that day. Make a judgement how many is too many. One sounds too few? Five sounds too many?
2. Be sensible with your carbohydrates: spaghetti and meat sauce with chips on the side might not be the best plan. In my opinion the danger foods are bread, rice, potatoes and pasta. Fortunately in all inclusive buffets there is plenty of choice so as a general rule these can be avoided. I’m not saying don’t eat a single piece of bread or a pasta twirl, just not at every meal.
3. Tune into your body. Several key questions will help you do this. Am I hungry? Am I thirsty? Do I feel dehydrated ( dry mouth, headache, unfocused, tired, demotivated to move). Do I feel stressed? Do I feel hot? Do I feel lazy? Most of these are easily answered and resolved. If you are not hungry then don’t eat! Simple!
4. Drink plenty of water. Make water your drink of choice at meal times. I find that a rule of no alcohol when eating is essential. Order a bottle of still mineral water as the first thing you do when the waiter comes around.
5. Give yourself space from who you are with. You don’t need to do everything together. Spend a couple of hours on your own. Fill this time with something healthy such as a mile run. You will have more to say to one another this way. Shared experience is valuable but limits freshness in conversation.
6. Take advantage of the hotel sports put on. There is usually plenty on offer from water aerobics to beach volleyball. In Cyprus at the moment I have done an organised Yoga class everyday. I had never done Yoga before – a great introduction to it. Outside and beautiful!
7. Plan your dedicated sun times. I comit myself to two fifteen minute sessions a day. One in the morning before it gets too hot and one in the afternoon for a final blast. To be mathematical and chef like I do 7.5 minutes each side. I use my phone timer to time myself.
8. Look around for trips and excursions. The holiday company you booked with will be all to keen to sell you ‘their’ trips. There will be entry of outside companies offering the same if not better just a short walk away. Have a look at tripadvisor (before or whilst you are there). You can search for attractions near you. Have a look at the highest rating first then move to the average ones and make a list of the pitfalls. A little bit of research goes a long way. Think carefully about hiring a car. Not always the best thing in my opinion. Yes you may be able to see more but can be the source of many an argument. Everyone gets a bit scared driving on a different side and into the unknown. Be a little considerate.
9. Be organised and sensible. . Use the hotel safe to keep your valuables in. Don’t leave stuff around the pool – don’t get paranoid though. People are generally trustworthy.
10. Try to exercise everyday and if you can help it avoid the gym. Get outside.

If you have a healthy lifestyle then 2 weeks of all inclusive can damage you and ruin all sorts of good habits.

These suggestions are mind and I am keen to hear yours. Please comment freely or email me at runamiletoday@gmail.com

Milerunner

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Tips on running a mile a day whilst on holiday

I am currently on holiday in Cyprus and am loving my mile runs everyday. The runs take about 15 minutes out of the day including getting ready and mean that I have a regular dose of exercise keeping my metabolism up and securing a bit of ‘me’ time. People generally don’t put exercise and holidays together but there is no reason why you shouldn’t continue – you will, I promise feel much better for it.

Here are a few tips on running a mile whilst on holiday.

1. Choose your time wisely. I find running first thing in the morning is best or just before showering for evening meal. Avoid hot times and if you have to apply plenty of sunscreen. Try not to run full up.

2. Take extra care of pavement curbs and uneven surfaces. The last thing you want is some awful injury. Watch crossing roads too especially if the country you are in drive on a different side of the road to what you are used to.

3. If you are on a beach holiday then try to choose a coastal route I am very fortunate where I am at the moment of an excellent flat coastal path easily accessible from the hotel.

4. Don’t feel that you have to run all the way. In fact I would discourage it. Why not take some photos on route or run for a coffee for half a mile then set back. Remember you are on holiday and treat these runs as ‘holiday’ runs.

5. Avoid the temptation of the gym. Yes it is tempting to use the hotel treadmill but avoid at all costs. You have an excellent chance of seeing new things and exercising somewhere different. Make sure you take advantage of it.

6. Encourage others to go with you. It’s more fun with others and they will help you to be and stay motivated. If you are in a hotel or other complex you may be able to put a flyer on a notice board asking others to join you.

7. Use a smart phone app to measure your mile. Turn off data roaming as you do it. Once you know a good route you can leave your phone in your room the next time.

8. Make sure you run everyday. Leave your running stuff somewhere obvious as an easy reminder.

So enjoy. You have no excuse, hangover or not, get out there and let me know how you get on

Milerunner

Running a mile a day while on holiday

Tomorrow morning I am off to Cyprus for a bit of sun and relaxation. I have packed my trainers and other running gear and intend to get up early every morning to go for a mile run. I will blog during the week to let you all know how it goes.

Here are some reasons why I will be running whilst on holiday

  1. Running a mile a day is now so part of my routine that it will be hard for me not too.
  2. It will be a chance to see the resort quiet before the majority of people are up. Maybe there will be a few other runners out there too. I will be able to see the resort at its best.
  3. My metabolism will be kept high which will be important as I will presumably be eating more of the naughty carb laden stuff that I usually let myself.
  4. Once I return from my holiday I won’t feel guilty that I have not run and will be able to continue to easily without any adverse effects.
  5. It will be a definite start to my day and will feel good and not lazy when I am lying on a lounger.

Do you have any tips on how to run and exercise when on holiday?

running by the sea

The image in this post is from here.