It's Good to Give Back…

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At the end of September I completed the Leadership in Running Fitness Course hosted by British Athletics. I recorded my thoughts on my iPhone about this course and am currently using the voice note I made to write this blog. I’m pleased I did so, as it would have captured the true feelings and emotions of what I experienced on this day.
From my recording (slightly edited, of course)…
I arrived in Cambridge in good time to register, sign in and I was greeted by walking into a room of fellow runners. I can only describe it as feeling like it was my first day of school.
I walked in, smiled at a few people that made eye contact and found myself a seat at the end of the front row #TeachersPet.
One of the first things we were asked to do was to write down the reason as to why we had joined this course and what we were wanting to get from the day.
A common theme that from the attendees was that we wanted to give back to the running community and that was one also a personal reason as to why I wanted to do the course.

  • Think about the number of volunteers at parkrun each week, giving up their Saturday morning to allow other people to run
  • The vast number of run leads at multiple running clubs up and down the country, giving runner the opportunity to be a part of a club, including my own, the Redway Runners.

All of the volunteers do this for free and give up their time to benefit others, which is my eyes is a very honourable deed. So thank you, if you are one of these awesome people!!
My own personal running journey began back in 2012 when I completed the Run to the Beat half marathon in a time of 2 hours 3 minutes. I then went on to run the London Marathon for Children with Cancer UK in 2014 in a time of 3 hours and 54 minutes. For both races I did the training on my own without being a part of a running club. Looking back I made a lot of common running errors and mistakes, but also admit this has contributed to making me a better runner today.
After my first London Marathon I shamefully lost my mojo with running as I did not have anything else to focus on. I had a holiday booked that summer so spent more time in the gym using weights and resistance training. It was on this holiday that I read Mo Farah’s autobiography and it instilled my passion for running once again.
I spent the rest of the holiday searching for local running clubs in Milton Keynes. Fortunately, Redway Runners came top of my Google search and I decided pretty quickly, that RR was the club I wanted to join when I got home.
There were a huge variety of runs on offer (which is far more extensive now) and looked easily accessible. The next step was to fill out a form and on my first run take £5 to join. A FIVER! My monthly gym membership costs quadruple that (and I use a budget gym)!
It was quite daunting turning up for my first run on my own, however, the director of the club, Martin Lawrence made me feel at ease quite quickly.  Thinking back to the day, it was a Monday evening and Martin advised me to join the ‘Club Run’ which was a lap of the local area where you ran at a certain pace. I advised him of what I had run London in and he put me straight in a group which looked full of super quick runners – I hoped I was going to be able to keep up and not embarrass myself.
I must admit I do remember it being tough, after having not run for a while, I was trying to keep up with the group, chat away to them, answer questions as they were trying to get to know me, whilst trying to compose my cool as well. I was always scared that before I joined a club I would be the slowest one there!!
Two inspirational members of the club were in this paced group on that day and they probably won’t remember it being my first run. However, Jen Sangster and Kevin Orchard were very friendly and always checking that I was OK. Jen, has represented England in the Chester Marathon, has run multiple marathons close to 3 hours, an ultramarathon and is a general running machine. I could list off all of her recent achievements, but I feel like I’d be here all day! A very heroic runner within our club. The second, Kevin, who has also represented Great Britain around the world in various triathlons. Scary to think now that I had no idea of what great athletes they both were as we ran together that Monday evening.
That was how my running club journey started, but back to why I completed the LIRF course, as being a runner and part of a club:

  • It gave me the confidence to get back into running and has continually built my confidence as a runner
  • It’s given me self-belief that I can run and also become better
  • It’s helped me find new friends and also my now boyfriend, James
  • Being a part of an incredible community, words can’t really describe that feeling. The sense of belonging and being a part of a special family.

Back to the course:
As most of wanted to give back to the running community to replicate what it had given us, we also wanted to be able to support other runners on their own personal development journey.
Being a run lead is a lot more than just being able to run, it’s about building someone’s character, self-esteem and confidence. I also like to believe that I can help people with these things through my job as a Personal Trainer and Coach.
A lot of the course content and style of leadership, I have covered before in my Personal Training Course, but it was good to be able to reinforce that what I already know and practice is correct.
But, one of the main takeaway things that I got from the day that as Run Leads we are role models. We are there to inspire, motivate, give advice, support and the most important thing is hopefully become a new friend to someone else. Running is such a social sport and to have the opportunity to be able to do this is sometimes overwhelming but very touching.


All in all, I am now very excited to be able to use this qualification to allow others to get into running or help current members within my club improve.
We learnt that there are a lot of barriers to running and negative perceptions about running such as ‘I can’t run’, ‘I’m too slow to be a part of a club’, but that’s never the case. One of the motto’s my club has is that no-one gets left behind. The Redway Runners caters for all abilities and ages and running is free – that’s the beauty of it (apart from the small £5), but that’s pretty cheap in my opinion to be able to a part of something special. #GreenArmy
So, if you’re reading this and unsure on whether to join your local running club, then I would urge you to do so today.
Like me, all of the other members on this course today are going to go into their local communities and set up lots of opportunities for others to run.
 
I’m now very excited to be able to give back to my running club and am excited to announce that starting on January 8th, I will be leading a ‘Need for Speed’ course aimed at helping others to improve their 5K PB.
It will be a 10 week course with a parkrun graduation on 17th March.
You can sign up for your spot (providing you are a Redway Runner) via the link that will be sent out in the Club Mail on Thursday.
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Compression Sleeves or Fashion Statement?

You may have seen me in a lot of race photos recently with fancy socks/sleeves on my legs?


Are they a fashion statement? Hell NO!
I’ve worn compression socks for a number of years to help with the prevention of injury.
As a previous sufferer of shin splints and tight calves, they have worked wonders for me.
A bit about compression and blood flow and why I wear them..
The sciency bit
Our arteries transport oxygenated blood around the body to our muscles. Once this oxygen has been used, the deoxygenated blood and other waste products i.e. lactic acid get transported back to the heart. Once it reaches the heart, it then gets passed through to the lungs to be oxygenated once again, and the cycle continues.
Oxygen is vital for our muscles to work and perform efficiently and effectively.
So what does Compression have to do with this all?
Compression socks and sleeves provide graduated compression, meaning the compression is tighter at the foot and ankle and looser as it moves up the calf and lower leg. This type of compression helps to fight the effects of gravity and assist the body in getting the deoxygenated blood flow back to the heart.
During exercise our muscles also become fatigued through muscular vibration. As runners, pounding the streets and especially the Redways of Milton Keynes means there can be a lot of muscular vibration going on! I’ve also been advised in the past to complete some of my runs on softer ground to help with this. Trail routes and woodland areas for this are ideal! I must admit I don’t incorporate this enough into my routine, due to lack of known routes. But having the compression sleeves helps instead.
Rymora Sports 
Recently, I’ve had the privilege of being able to test out the Rymora Sports Compression Sleeves and Socks.
They both fit well and I’ve had zero pain whilst wearing them during or after training. I think my old sleeves were losing their compression, so I would strongly advise buying a new pair every so often, just like we do with running trainers. Once they’ve done their miles, we buy a fresh new pair.
I prefer wearing the calf sleeves to the full socks, but that’s just a personal preference. Sometimes compression socks reach just over my knees (long legs) and can sometimes slide down slightly during a run, whereas, the sleeves sit just underneath the knee with no movement at all. I forget they’re there half the time!
I would highly recommend these to anyone who has had any problems with lower legs in the past or currently does.
I haven’t had many issues recently with my lower legs and have been completing some training runs without them. I always wear them for races, to help with recovery and due to the increased speed and pressure through my legs. But for me, I think it’s more of a preventative thing nowadays and also a habitual part of my kit.
 
You can order your very own pair here: Rymora Sports on Amazon
And before you question, no this was not a paid review 😉 all opinions my own.
 
Thanks for reading.
Clean Coach Katie
xx
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I'm in – London Marathon 2017

The London Marathon Ballot results were released earlier this week and unfortunately I didn’t get a place. I’ve applied 4 times before and have received the dreaded ‘NO’ each year. I’ve got some cool jumpers over the years, but never the YES that I’ve wanted.
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The first time I applied (and was rejected) was back in 2014, however, was also the year I was fortunate enough to gain a place on the Children with Cancer UK team. I absolutely LOVED the whole experience and as a charity, CwC were so supportive throughout.
In 2015, I gained myself another charity spot, but with only 4 weeks to go until the big day, really unfortunately had to pull out due to a bad injury. I was absolutely devastated (I think cried for a few days!) and have been struggling on and off since then with the same injury and pain. I finally believe I’m back in a good place and have been training hard at the gym.
After receiving my rejection email on Tuesday, I had convinced myself that 2017 wouldn’t be my year.
I had a change of heart on Wednesday morning and got back in contact with Children with Cancer UK. I spoke to the lovely Emily, who has been there since I first began my Marathon journey and we chatted about the previous years and what I wanted to achieve this year coming. To my delight I was offered a place there and then as part of the Mr Men and Little Miss Team and could hardly contain my excitement on the phone (sorry Emily for shrieking down the phone at you!).
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I honestly cannot wait to begin my journey again and have set myself a few personal and fundraising goals:

  • In 2014 I raised over £1,600 which I know will have helped so many people, but for 2017 I have pledged I would like to raise more than this! For anyone that came to the last one, I will definitely be hosting another one of the famous curry and quiz nights. Charity fundraising for the marathon is so inspiring and I admire those who go out of their way to help others.
  • My previous time was 3 hours 54 minutes and 20 seconds, which I was so pleased about. I broke the sub 4 barrier in my first Marathon and I will be happy to achieve anything like that again. IN 2015, I think I got a bit hung up on trying to beat this and maybe one of the reasons which led me to picking up my injury.
  • This time round, there will be no pressure or stress on training, I’m going to make a plan and stick it to. If I miss a session, then OK, no harm done and move onto a new day and new session.
  • Taking into consideration the above, I am going to devise a plan on running only 3 times week, 2 sessions to focus on speed and progression and 1 run a week which will be slower but longer to gradually increase the mileage.
  • And most of all, to ENJOY the whole process.

I will document my journey from now until 23rd April, so please feel free to subscribe to the blog. I will also post on the Clean Coach Katie Instagram, about my training, nutrition and recovery. 191 days to go… not that I’m counting.

Top tips on how to stay motivated

We all often hear or say the cliché phrase, I’ll start again on Monday.
Monday comes along… We have the best intentions and by 11am we’re crying out for the biscuit tin with our mid-morning cup of tea; dreading the bland and unappetising lunch we’ve got waiting for us on our lunch hour. We’ve all been there and failed miserably.
Most of us have tried these quick-fix diets that are meant to get us into shape via a 7 day detox days, 2 week blast or monthly plans. We’re promised the world, allured in by the apparent results, get disheartened when we see no progress and quit before we’ve even really started. There’s so much information out there in the market with various products selling us the ‘quick fix’ weight loss solution. I must admit I’ve tried and tested a few and like most others have failed. We stay on track for 5 days, the weekend arrives and we’re undoing all of the hard work we’ve had to endure over the past few days by eating everything that comes into sight.
This is why I’m such a strong believer in BALANCE. To stay motivated, working out shouldn’t have to be a chore, it should be a choice. Eating foods should be enjoyable, not torture.
Here’s some of my top tips to stay motivated:

  1. Take the time to think about the exercise you enjoy, whether that be, walking, running, yoga, swimming, cycling, boxing. Try and incorporate this into your weekly routine and as you begin to enjoy what you are doing and you see results, it will become less of an imposition and more of a lifestyle.

 

  1. Plan your meals ahead and buy your ingredients in advance at the weekend. Take that little time out to look after your body and health. You’ll be ever so grateful when you start to look and feel amazing. Gain inspiration from Pinterest, online recipes, Instagram. The amount of free resource out there is unbelievable. If you are unsure, at all opportunities, cook with fresh ingredients. Ditch the processed rubbish and stick to whole and unpackaged foods.

 

  1. Find a friend to begin this journey with. It is so much easier when you have encouragement from someone else. They will guide you and help uplift you throughout the process. They will push you through that evening’s workout and help keep you on track with your meal and food choices. They can offer you advice and wisdom and is a great way to keep yourself accountable.

 

  1. Keep a food and workout journal. Detail the choices you make and the workouts you complete. You’ll begin to understand the foods that work well for you and trend any patterns where your routine may be lacking. It’s interesting to look back on and a fantastic way to track your progress.

 

  1. If you struggle to find the motivation after work as you feel lethargic and tired, workout in the morning. This seems like a hard feat to try now. But once you’re in a routine, you’ll feel amazing and if you do finish work one day and fancy a night in front of the TV, then you’ll feel a great sense of satisfaction knowing you’ve already done your workout for the day!

 

  1. Set yourself small goals. These do not necessarily have to be about losing weight. It could be to aim to workout three times this week, try out a new class at the gym or if you currently skip breakfast, aim to eat a small meal each morning for 2 weeks. If you set these smaller goals and stick to them it will help to keep on track and encourage to set bigger goals next time. Once you have the self-belief, anything will be possible.

 

  1. And last but by no means by least… If you have a bad day, do not worry! Do not feel guilty or allow this to set you back. Start the next day afresh, forget about any previous mistakes and get straight back on track. Give that next workout your all, keep drinking plenty of water and try not to dwell on the past.

 
I hope some of these tips help to keep you stay motivated and on track with your goals!
Clean Coach Katie
xx

Injury Update & Clean Coach Katie

A couple of months back I opened up to you all in another blog post about my current ‘running status’ and at that point was injured, AGAIN.
After returning from holiday at the start of July, I had multiple blood tests, physio appointments and an appointment with my GP. I managed to get an MRI via the GP referral for my leg too, something I’ve been wanting for a while but never had the opportunity to have. This was a first time experience for me and something I was quite hesitant about. I had been warned about the noise of the MRI machine from many people and also how claustrophobic the experience can be. Luckily I only had to have my body from the waist down inside the MRI machine and was given headphones to block out the sound. All in all, the process was less painful than expected and I was eager to find out the results.
I had the blood tests examined by both a physiotherapist and the GP at the musco-skeletal clinic and both commented on how good my results were! On paper I’m actually super healthy and even my calcium levels were above average which wouldn’t be normal with any bone problems.
On Wednesday this week I had a follow up appointment after the MRI to reveal that there were no traumas i.e. no stress fractures and no broken bones. You’d think I would have taken this as good news but at the time couldn’t understand why I’d recently experienced so much pain again. The doctor continued to tell me that I now have thickening around the bone where I’ve had the stress fractures before and appeared to have healed well. My muscles showed inflammation which caused the pain. In basic terms the swelling of muscles in my legs was rubbing against the bone and caused the excruciating discomfort. As my leg is still in the healing process I will have to continually be careful of the intensity of exercise or running I do and manage this on a long term basis. It does also mean that I’m not ruled out of running long term, woohoo!
Since my injury I’ve been continuing my strength work at the gym and also been trying to maintain my fitness levels on the stationary bike and cross trainer. My leg is feeling almost ready to begin running again, however, I’m going to give it a few further weeks to ensure I’ll be OK again. I never let an injury deter me and have been as focused as can be at the gym and tailored my sessions accordingly.
 
I’ve recently also made a huge decision in following my dreams and have signed up to a Personal Training course. It begins in a few weeks’ time and I’m so excited to get started. I will be studying Part Time as I still have a Full Time Job, but the long term goal is to have a career in the health and fitness industry. It’s what I love and what I am passionate about.
Alongside this I also have to come up with a name and brand which represents me and what I am about. This is where ‘Clean Coach Katie’ was born. I love food and enjoy experimenting with my meals to make nutritious recipes. I also want to be able to share my my knowledge within the health and fitness industry and believe education is such an important part of your health. Changing your lifestyle is not an overnight thing and I want to be able to work with you to transform your diet and training. I recognise that small changes need to be made and that it can be a fun and exciting process which sometimes takes time. People often view losing weight as ‘dieting’ and search for quick fixes which is why some plans aren’t stuck to. I want to be able to make you enjoy your health and fitness lifestyle and embrace your body. We are all individual and are journeys are all different, however, we are all looking to be healthier and essentially happy.
My family and friends have been so supportive about this decision and I am so grateful for their continuous encouragement and advice. In the future, the vision is to be working with a number of clients both online and offline to help improve their training, nutrition and overall well being and confidence. I want to be able to share my knowledge by coaching, personal training and offering advice around nutrition. I want to continue with this blog and create content people can relate to and is interesting for the readers. I am currently working with a few people as case studies but will be opening up spaces very soon to others, so please let me know if you would be interested.
I plan to host a launch event in January too so watch this space for further details!
Very exciting things on the Horizon 🙂

Life Update…

It’s been around four weeks since my last blog post and I decided that I would take a short break from blogging after the St Alban’s Half for a few reasons.

  1. I needed some time out from blogging every week. I thought I’d stop clogging everyone’s news feeds with my updates and also take some time out to develop some new content. Despite enjoying blogging, it took a lot of time at and some weeks were easier to blog than others.
  2. I’ve also recently been away on holiday with my family & boyfriend. We went to Spain for a week to relax, eat good food, drink wine & cocktails with great company.
  3. I’ve also got some upsetting news to update you on…

 
Over the past month, I have received some amazing feedback from my recent blog posts from people who have followed my St Albans journey. I have quite enjoyed taking a break from a structured training and work plan and have filled my time by using platforms of Social Media. The break has allowed me to brainstorm the direction I would like to take my blog next and given me huge motivation to keep this going.
The holiday also did me the world of good. The pressures of everyday life were getting to me before I went away and the trip couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I thoroughly enjoyed breaking my usual routine and the hardest decision of the day being, what restaurant we were going to for dinner. My family and I had some good laughs, ate in delicious restaurants and soaked up the Spanish sunshine. I came back revitalised and with a different mind-set. Bread and ice-cream featured in my diet every single day. I must admit that I’ve found it quite hard to get back into a routine with healthy eating since being home and often claim, I’ll start again tomorrow!
 
 
This then brings me onto the next point, which is also one of the reasons that I’ve been distant with my blog again & feeling a little lost with the health and fitness side recently.
I hate having to type this…. BUT I’M INJURED!!!
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NOT.RUNNING.SUCKS

I honestly can’t explain how this has happened and I can’t begin to describe how devastated I am. The week after the half marathon I continued with my running, however, on the Sunday I did a run of around 10 miles. I felt some pain in my leg but I thought it was minimal and was surprised that it had come out of nowhere. I was then only 5 days out from holiday so decided to stop running and to focus the last few days in the gym. Whilst I was away I found it hard to not exercise at all and tried a short run half way through the holiday. I only managed about 2 miles and my leg was hurting for most of the run. I tried to convince myself it was tight muscles. How wrong I was… As soon as I stopped I could tell something was not right and was in a fair bit of pain the rest of the day. I was on holiday so tried to forget about the situation and would seek help when I was home.
The day after getting back from holiday, the pain had yet to subside and off I took myself to A&E again. My last experience was not a pleasant one so I was really dreading it. I won’t go into too much detail, but I was seen by the same lovely nurse as before who actually remembered me! I was referred for another X-Ray but it didn’t show a lot and if anything my last injuries seemed to have healed OK. I’ve since been to my GP to get a referral back to the fracture clinic and ask for some blood tests to try and find some answers.
So there we are, back to square 1 and a little unsure on what is next for me in regards to running. I have a feeling it’s another stress fracture but only time will tell.
I can still cycle on the bike at the gym and weight train with minimal impact on my legs. I’ll have to find myself a new focus in the meantime and channel my energy elsewhere.
I won’t let this affect what I achieved before, but is just an unfortunate situation. It has however, motivated me to carry on this blog and search for another direction with it.
Any kind words and cuddles are appreciated!
I hope to be back soon with some further updates. Positive Vibes!!
xxx

Back on track, or in my case, redways!

Creative writing at school was never my thing, so I’ve decided to start a blog. Here goes…
I initially began running around 3 years ago when I moved back to Milton Keynes following University and a short stint of living in London. I was back at home and wanted a new hobby; something to fill my spare time after work and on the weekends. I bought a shiny new pair of trainers and started jogging around the estate where my parents lived. A few years on, running has now become a big part of my life and something which people quite often associate me with. I am no Paula Radcliffe or Mo Farah by any means but like many other runners, I enjoy the buzz, adrenaline, social element of being part of a club and the overall positive impact it’s had on my life. Don’t get me wrong, some runs are tough, sometimes you just want to turn back round after two minutes and occasionally you just want a day off. I know as much as the next person with a goal in their sights, it’s hard to motivate yourself when it’s raining or dark outside, but, when you have 4 miles written down on your training plan, sometimes you just need to suck it up!
Over the years I have run in a variety of races but in 2014 had the ultimate privilege of taking part in the London Marathon. This race has to be my most memorable for a number of reasons as I obtained my place through a charity, Children with Cancer UK. Having lost my Mum to cancer, I dedicated this journey to her and hoped I could raise money for an amazing cause on behalf of everyone who has ever been affected by this illness.
I completed the 26.2 miles in a time of 3 hours and 54 minutes. My target for the day was under 4 hours and nothing can beat the feeling of being supported and cheered on by your family, closest friends and half of London. I have to give a big shout out to my Dad and best friend Freya at this point, they have both travelled miles to watch me and have always been there come rain or shine.
Despite the highs I’ve experienced, there have also been some recent lows. Injury is common with runners due to the high impact it has on the body. I’ve personally always suffered with shin splints and this time last year I was training for my second London Marathon. I was around 10 weeks into my training plan and up until that point, I was very pleased with my training. I was applying the knowledge I’d gained from my previous experiences, and have to say I was really enjoying it.
A milestone in my training was a 20 mile race at the MK Festival of Running. I completed it in a relatively impressive time of 2 hours 57 minutes, however, as soon as I stopped I was barely able to put weight on my leg. I knew it was bad news, I was in absolute agony. I remember having to deal with such mixed emotions that evening, after achieving a good time I wasn’t able celebrate due to the pain I was in. I tried to persuade myself the discomfort would go away, however, I had to take myself to A&E the next day.  Following a misdiagnosis from the hospital, I still had my hopes pinned on London, hoping I would recover following some physio and I’d be able to get my training back on track… 5 weeks on (and only a week before the London Marathon) I’d not seen any progress so off I went to A&E again. It was here when my London dreams were shattered once I finally had an X-Ray. It turns out I’d sustained a stress fracture and potentially had multiple experiences in the past.
Since then I’ve really struggled to get back into a routine with my training and I think a lot of it has been due to phantom pains and the anxiety of not wanting to experience the same heartbreak again. A long while on, I finally feel like I’m back in a good place and am currently running once or twice a week. I have complimented this with regular weight and cross training at the gym to build up my strength, core and maintain my overall fitness levels.
Now that I’m back on track I thought the best thing to do was to set myself a new goal. In every aspect of my life I always strive for better and thrive off of new challenges.
So on Sunday 12th June I intend to take on the St Albans Half Marathon. For anyone who knows me, they may be thinking that I’ve done plenty of half marathons before and even completed a marathon… how is this a challenge, surely this will be easy?  Personally, this is a big step in terms of making a return to consistent running over a prolonged period of time. My confidence has been knocked and I want my training to be progressive but also be sensible and not over do it. I’m not looking to set any records in June,  I just want to be able to enjoy the journey I am about to embark on knowing I’ve had a solid block of training behind me,  passing that finish line with a huge smile on my face.
The next 12 weeks, will be a balance between increasing my training, fuelling my body correctly and building my strength (both mental and physical). I intend to blog my progress with updates on my preparation, new recipes I’m experimenting with and documenting my emotions throughout the course of the next few months. A lot of running is mind over matter! I believe I can do this, and I will…  
p.s. if you’re wondering why I picked the St Albans half, you get a free ice lolly at the end!!
MOM2