Updated: Sep 15
Fuck Phase 1. What a mess.
I would encourage people to read my Phase 1 fitness blog entries, to understand and see the god awful flaws and my mistakes, but alas, in my failure and likely embarrassment of not sticking to plan, I deleted them, all bar the last entry of Week 6. I believe I was going through a very self-conscious period, particularly with social media. I regret having deleted them as it would have made for a brilliant opportunity to reflect upon and appreciate my growth, both physically and mentally. It is what it is, but, yeah Phase 1 was just a mess - but you can read my summary of Phase 1 here.
For those who haven’t read it, Phase 1 was an attempt to develop and undergo a training plan for someone who has never done fitness before in a way that minimises risk of injury but ensured steady progress. A venture with good intentions, but not without consequence. I ended up learning very little, as I already had a wealth of knowledge in this area, and it cost me my fitness and my mental health. The biggest and most obvious issue with the whole thing was that I’m not an absolute beginner. I personally suffered and my mental health deteriorated. But upon realising and, more importantly, accepting my errors and mistakes, I’m now more passionate than ever to get fit and compete. The one thing to take away, for you as a reader, that when it comes to fitness plans there is no one size fits all. Everyone is unique and training plans must reflect the needs of the individual, so just think before you download a random internet plan and not take it too literally - and maybe consider the investment of going to a Personal Trainer.
So, with a wave of new found motivation (and a bit out of impatience!), I've found myself busting to start Phase 2 before having completed Phase 1. Phase 2 is a whole new approach, where I put myself in the centre of the plan and accelerate myself towards my own aims and actually start to believe in myself - things that Phase 1 vitally missed.
What's the aim for Phase 2?
I want to be able to train most days, with the aim to ultimately get to running 10km comfortably and get back to racing again. But instead of progressing at the rate of dead snails, I'm accelerating the progress, but still sticking to a very modest and generous time frame.
Running, Circuits, Swimming and Indoor Cycling will all be returning to kick Phase 2 off. Running will be the primary sport/fitness as that is the area I want to get back to competing at. This hasn't changed. Yoga, stretching, foam rolling and my Sports Massage will also be considered when it comes to setting fitness goals, which was the same as Phase 1, with the daily aim being 60 minutes of activity - initially.
So what's new?
I will be doing monthly blogs to assess improvement, changes, updates and to keep me motivated. And I promise not flake out like I did with Phase 1 - weekly blogs were a bit ambitious!!
The starting point (i.e intensity) of where I launch my fitness is also shifting - addressing one of the biggest issues with Phase 1. I started off waaaay too easy in Phase 1, with the progress being too slow. Phase 2 will develop on this, starting off in a still achievable place for my abilities, but notably more challenging, with the rate of progress still steady, but more noticeable.
I'll also be allocating time for 'Other' activities for the first time, to allow the boyfriend, friends and I to explore other means of fitness like climbing or outdoor cycling, or reconnecting with old ones like walking and tennis.
The last notable change is that, in Phase 1, I aimed to do 10 minutes of Yoga per massage completed as yoga is useful for stretching and developing those finer muscles that I find get stiff from day to day massage. It seemed a reasonable enough target at the time. But as the diary got busy, this was totally unsustainable!! I have 61 hours of yoga to catch up on from Phase 1 - and that’s an underestimate!! So, for Phase 2, I will be adjusting this to 5 minutes of yoga per massage appointment completed.
Phase 2 will be broken down into 5 parts and Part 1 will be a 9 week program.
Why a 9 week cycle?
Well, anyone, particularly in the UK, who's a runner may think 9 weeks rings a bell. And you'd be right. I'm planning to do the Couch to 5km.
I always thought I was above the Couch to 5km, not because I dislike it - I think it's a fantastic program and it has improved the quality of life for thousands if not millions of people. However, my competitive and club level running background made me feel superior to it. But now, after Phase 1, I really understand how brilliant this simple yet clearly well thought through plan is. The progression is steady. There is no pressure to progress - with it explicitly stating that you can always repeat a week. And it doesn't take a year+ to get to the end goal! ;)
Yes, I know my aim is 10km and it still is. The Couch to 5km (C-2-5km) is obviously half that, but, remember, the initial C-2-5km is only Part 1 of Phase 2. I will aim to hit 10km before Part 5 ~ 45 weeks time.
This may seem like a radical back-step going to the C-2-5km, but in reality, the first session of Phase 2 means I will potentially cover up to 3km and 20+ mins of activity, when my first session of Phase 1 was a lonely mere 1km and that barely took me 5 minutes. Phase 2 and the C-2-5km feels like a better starting point by a long way, but, as said, it still isn't hugely challenging for my fitness levels now, but allows my mental health surrounding fitness to develop and actually WANT to go out and train again.
The C-2-5km tends to advise that you take a day's rest before attempting another run/walk. However, I acknowledge and feel like I am fit enough to do a bit more. So the aim will be to do yoga every morning (depending on the massages I have that day), and then one
additional bit of fitness in the daytime/evening if the day wasn't too busy. In addition, if there is time, do 10 minutes of foam rolling and/or stretching after the said fitness session.
What is considered ‘activity’?
The aim will be to do 60 minutes of activity everyday on average - initially. The 60 minutes includes:
Main Sporting Activities:
Activities that contribute the daily fitness goal:
Administering Sports Massage; for every hour done equates to ~ the equivalent of 15 minutes of exercise
Dog Walking/Garden & DIY; for every hour done equates to ~ the equivalent of 15 minutes of exercise
As in Phase 1, the amount of Yoga to be done is determined by the amount of Sports Massage I do as it helps to release and strengthen the muscles that are otherwise tired from the awkward positions that massage demands. As said, this will now be 5 minutes of yoga per massage appointment completed.
The Stretching and Foam Rolling will, also as in Phase 1, will be based on the time spent actually exercising (run, swim, cycle etc.) and I’ll aim to do 10 mins of foam rolling and/or stretching per 30 minutes of exercise.
This feels achievable. I'm going to work up to 90 minutes a day average, eventually, taking my time to progress. But, for now, I'm going to start with 60 minutes of activity per day. This gives me flexibility and a bit of a challenge to spur me on everyday to do at least something. When I can show and prove to myself that this is doable, I'll look to up this; which I’m excited for as by then, I should be fit and hopefully getting some races into my diary! Covid depending, obviously!
So the running will be based on the 9 weeks couch to 5km program. Easy enough. So what about other means of exercise?
As said, I still plan to push on with indoor cycling, swimming and circuits as they are great means of cross training, developing muscular endurance and the cardiovascular system. I’ve explained I want to explore other sports, likely once a fortnight - there is no rule on this, but I think walking and or tennis will be the first to be tried out due to having the equipment required already! The pockets aren’t very deep atm with Covid-19, so I’m making the most of what we’ve already got!
Like running has the end goal to get to 5km initially, all the other sports/exercises will have their goals as well.
Swimming - As the world record for the 100m swim is 4.91 x slower than that of 100m sprint
in running, I thought I'd also aim for a distance swimming which was 4.91x shorter than the 5km I'm targeting for running to get a similar intensity from my swims. This means my swimming goal is distance based and the goal is to swim 1.1km. Not hugely far, but again, a much more challenging target than 160m from Phase 1.
Indoor Cycling - When I feel comfortable to go to the gym regularly, that is! Similar to swimming, I looked up the fastest 10km (it may have been 5km…) run vs cycle. The cycle was 2.34x faster, so I thought I'd aim for a distance that was 2.34x longer than 5km. Meaning for my indoor cycles, the goal is to cycle ~12km. Again, this distance felt more appropriate, more of a challenge and more motivating that Phase 1’s aim for a mere, and now feeble looking, 3.9km.
Circuits. I wasn’t quite sure how to do this, but I decided to take direct inspiration from the C-2-5km program. The rough plan would be to remove about a third of the C-2-5km run with circuit stations such as press-ups, alternate squat thrusts, glute bridges etc. Keeping to around the same time frames as the C-2-5km, which initially is 25 minutes I believe.
The goal for the circuits will be to get to 2km warm up (which will coincide with my progress running wise), a mile warm down and to get to 20 stations for a session initially.
So what happens when I hit my respective goals? I will look to move the goal post or alter the way I train; whether it's a new route, new training partners, aiming to go further or increase the difficulty with weight etc.
Phase 1 Updates
I’m one for finishing things (to my detriment…) and despite my enlightenment of the awful structure and plan that was Phase 1, I want to finish it as a means of closure. So what exactly is left? I have left from Phase 1:
Running = 30.4km over 8 runs
Circuits = 4 sessions
Indoor Cycling = 29.4km over 8 rides
Swimming = 3.22km over 21 swims
Yoga = 61 hours 10 minutes (holy f*** - I did a lot of massages last year!! This is why the formula for yoga changed this time!!)
Stretching = 2 hours and 20 minutes
Foam rolling = 1 hour 40 minutes
I’m not prioritising these at all, and I will slowly tick these off as I go. I will do a Phase 1 update for each blog entry.
It can be so hard to track progress, as I’m often critical of myself and hence find it hard to assess how I really feel - I need objective measures to help me see and believe the progress I am making. Hence I have a few means of collecting, comparing and tracking various data to help me monitor my progress. The 4-Point Progress Tracking Plan!
As my aim is to compete I thought it would be fun and engaging to track various PB’s. I will have two columns, one for personal bests for training runs and another for actual competition personal bests. These will all be running oriented initially, at least until I change my competing ambitions in another direction - *hint*hint*. I won’t be competing for several months, but the training PB’s could be motivating and also interesting to track. Particularly when I unlock tempo and interval training in time!! The PB’s I’ll be recording are basically all the distances across athletics and road that are commonly competed at and easily available to race across the country, starting with 100m on track and going up to 10 miles on road. This may change over time to include more niche distances (like if I get tempted to bump up to a Half Marathon!!)
This list is currently a clean slate, so by the next update, I should have some stats to share with a few new, albeit a little unimpressive, personal bests to update you all on!
2. Weight/Measurements/% Body Fat
I don’t have any specific goals for these at all. But it’s more about being informed and if the stats are going in an undesirable direction, it may make me reconsider other aspects of my training, like boosting intensity again, or even changing up my diet.
With work and general life with Covid-19, life is stressful enough! So I won’t be setting any goals here, my aims are solely performance based. I’m just intrigued to see how my body changes as I undergo Phase 2 and see if it has a significant impact on my muscle development and shape, or if it at least helps maintain it.
My starting stats are:
% Body Fat: 18.6%
Biceps: L35cm/R36.5cm - dominant arm very clear here!
3. Photos and Aesthetics!
My latest award winning photo shoot can be seen here:
There’s lots to consider critically when observing these photos - I actually appear off centre and imbalanced (notably in the hips on the posterior photos!). This isn’t something I’m going to address urgently, but it’s certainly interesting to see as I don’t see myself like this often and hence why I wanted to document aesthetic changes - not just for vanity but to observe these shifts! This is why it can be so useful to document fitness journeys in this way. The photos are just here to help track progress and so I can objectively view how well I’m doing!
4. Time Exercising
This one is very simple, I literally just create a cumulative total for each month in regards to distances covered and time actually spent doing activity and exercise. Again, it’s not a statistic I want to stress over, but it would be interesting to see how fitness is going and what means of activity is the most dominant and maybe reflect on that, like is it going to help me achieve my goals or do I need to focus on changing my priorities. No stress, just more data and observation to make more informed choices about my fitness.
As discussed, the goal at the moment is to average 60 minutes of activity every day across exercise as well as massage, yoga, rolling and stretching.
So what now?
Well. Here we go.
That’s a thorough run through of Phase 2. It’s a mighty long read but it gives context to my upcoming entries about trying to log and track my progress. I’m expecting a lot of progress initially, and then I’ll really have to work to see those changes. Look out for my July Update soon. It won’t be much of an update given it’s less than a week away… but I’ve got to start somewhere. Phase 2 begins tomorrow and I’m raring for it!
Cameron 2.0 here we come!