Tag Archives: fitness

How to apply for the London Marathon


So you’ve watched the London Marathon.  Been enthused by the television programmes?  Perhaps you know someone who has done it, and you think ‘you know what, I can do it!’

What is the next step?  How do I get a place in one of the greatest races in the world?  Fear not, I will explain.

To get a ballot place you need to act quickly.  The ballot opens on Tuesday 22nd April.  At what time, no one is certain, but last year it closed when it reached 125,000 applicants.  And that took 11 hours!  You find out in October, and it is thought you have a 1 in 7 chance although this is not confirmed. Entry is via http://www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com/

The second way to gain place is to run for a charity.  There are charity places available now, so it’s benefits are you can start training immediately.  However, to gain a Charity place you will have to commit to raise a certain amount of money (probably around £2000).  Think carefully if raising money could be an issue as trying to train for a marathon as well as fundraising can take its toll.

Running clubs often have places, and so if you are a member of a club it is worth enquiring what the procedure is regarding gaining the club place.  Clubs will have their own ways of selecting their runners.

And the final way is “Good for Age”.  The London Marathon has places for runners who have a run a full marathon below certain times.



Time (in    hours)


Time (in    hours)

Age   18 – 40

sub   3:05

Age   18 – 40

sub   3:45

Age   41 – 49

sub   3:15

Age   41 – 49

sub   3:50

Age   50 -59

sub   3:20

Age   50 -59

sub   4:00

Age   60 – 64

sub   3:45

Age   60 – 64

sub   4:30

Age   65 – 69

sub   4:00

Age   65 – 69

sub   5:00

Age   70 – 75

sub   5:00

Age   70 – 75

sub   6:00


sub   5:30


sub   6.30


These were last year times, but there is no guarantee they will remain the same for 2015.

Good luck if you decide to enter the London Marathon.  But remember if you don’t get a place, other marathons are available…

All the best,

Woodyrunning spoon

A Change in Routine


One of the best things about having my exercise routine is the routine itself.  I love thinking Monday-pump, Tuesday-Run, Wednesday-Conditioning and Zumba etc.  It’s become second nature and I really enjoy it (yes really, I know, enjoying the gym, who’d have thunk it!).  It’s a ritual, a way of life, but I face a threat to this happy situation as my routine may be changed for several weeks.


My first thought when I realised that my routine was changing was: I can’t get to the gym!  And that has probably helped me, in that I didn’t see the break of routine as a chance to have a holiday from the exercise.  The odd missed class or run happens, I do know that, but a whole two weeks of losing my beloved routine was too much to bear.


So what did I do?

1)    My first thought was what can I salvage?  What part of my routine can survive?  My runs are safe as they are early morning, and metafit was the one class I could make. So I knew I could do these.

2)    Then I looked at the gym list.  What alternatives could I do?  Are there the same classes at different times or even different classes to try?

3)    Re-jigging my work/life/family balance.  I am lucky, really lucky.  I have an incredible supportive husband who always supports whatever zany, madcap idea I have.  After checking the class timetable I worked out that I could do several classes if my husband did even more taxi-ing around.  He agreed.

4)    I decided to keep to the classes I know.  It could have been an opportunity to try new classes, but I enjoy those classes and am hoping this is a short term thing, and I can go back to ‘my normality’ soon.  I also feel that I will be more likely to keep this routine up.


So it will be interesting to see how I maintain this routine. I am hopeful I can keep it up, mainly because I enjoy it so much.  And that I believe is the key…

All the best,

Woodyrunning spoon

Surviving Christmas


It’s coming up shortly to the time of year that all slimmers dread: Christmas.

Just as holidays mean a break in routine, so does Christmas, with the added factor that so much of this celebration revolves around food.

I am going to consider food and exercise separately when looking at how to manage over the Christmas period.



I think there are four strategies when dealing with food.  Some will cause more weight gain than others, and as long as you realise the consequences of each action and are prepared to accept it, go for whichever one suits you.


  1. Stick to your healthy eating plan completely.  Ignore any extra treats, carry on as usual.
  2. Stick to your healthy eating plan but build in treats you have planned for.
  3. Go all out and enjoy yourself.  Forget about the healthy eating plan.
  4. This is very similar to 3.  Go all out but decide for how long.  Maybe just Christmas day and Boxing Day, or all of Christmas week.Each strategy has its merits and problems.  Be realistic.  Can you stick to your plan entirely when others are eating their body weight in chocolate?  If you go all out, can you regain control without doing too much damage?  How will you feel if you get on the scales and you have put on half a stone?


Many people have time off over the Christmas period but this does not automatically that extra exercise can be fitted in.  Gyms and clubs close or run skeleton services.  Families visit.  You find you have a lot more to do than if you were at work!  And for people who have no time off, all those things apply too!  Again there are different strategies you can adopt to get you through this period.


  1. Stick to your routine in its entirety.
  2. Keep doing aspects of your routine but at a reduced volume, or making changes to it.
  3. Put your feet up and forget about exercise until the New Year.

Once again each has its merits, although if you combine no exercise and lots of food, you may be undoing a lot of your good work, as well as starting the New Year feeling rough.  There are many factors to consider and family is a huge one.  Going out for a run as Christmas dinner is being prepared may not be your smartest move, but an early run on Boxing Day may not disrupt the household at all.


As for me, I plan to keep to an exercise plan as much as possible, but I know that it will be affected as many classes have been cancelled over the Christmas period.  And for food…my plan is to go for what I want but for a few days, and certainly not until the New Year.  I would like to start 2014 feeling fit and healthy!

Have a wonderful Christmas.

All the best,

Woodyrunning spoon





To Gym or not to Gym…


It seems incredible but it will shortly be 2014. And with the New Year comes New Year resolutions, and many of them revolve around getting fitter. And already in my gym there are advertisements about the offers for the New Year. And how many of us join the gym in January, get our money’s worth for a few weeks and then end up paying many month’s subscriptions and not going near the place. Oh, so not just me then? So here are my thoughts on choosing a gym. I am hardly a wonderful role model. I have been to several and not used them to their full potential, and they’ve ended up being very expensive. So I know what not to do!! But at present I am a gym bunny, so I hope you find these ramblings helpful.

Do you really need to join a gym?

Examine your reasons why you are thinking about joining the gym. Can you achieve your fitness using other mean, i.e. running or joining a sports club? If you think that you won’t be a regular user, what about pay as you go or finding exercise classes run in halls?

What do you want from your gym?

Gyms come in all shapes and sizes with price tags to match. Think about what you want from your gym. If you love swimming and aqua aerobics it makes sense to join a gym with a pool. The more facilities the gym has the more expensive it will be, but enquire whether they offer different memberships, such as swim only or off peak membership (My dad and step mum have this and it saves them a fortune). Have a look around the gym and talk to gym users. You can get a feel for the place, and whether it will suit your needs. Check out the classes it offers and what else is included in the price. Ask about the induction and what support you get. It certainly varies. One gym I went to you got five sessions with a trainer. My present gym (which is comparable in facilities and price) only offered one.

Location, location, location

This is the key. If you want the gym to fit in with your life, the more convenient the better. So think about when you will exercise. Depending on when this is will depend on where the best place for gym is. For instance if you exercise during your lunch break, a gym near your work place is ideal. If you’re an early bird then a local one will be better. If you are a long suffering parent of a sporty child it could be that wherever they do sport has a gym and rather than sitting around, use the gym (I did this when my eldest was at a different swimming club, very convenient). This will help ensure you use the gym and it fits into your life.

A gym can be an inspiring, friendly place where you can achieve your goals. But it can also be an expensive luxury. If you take the plunge, a little bit of time thinking about your requirements and being realistic can save you pennies and gain a wonderful tool in your fight against the flab!

All the best,

Woodyrunning spoon



A few weeks ago I read a Gaby Logan tweet where she extolls the virtue of metafit.  A quick google of it told me it was a bodyweight class that used interval techniques.  It’s 30 minutes and I found my gym ran a class.  So off I went to try it.


WOW! Writing it down it doesn’t seem so bad, but it involves doing exercises such as the plank, squats, lunges, squat thrusts etc for a short period, and then having a very short rest and then going again.  You repeat the exercises until you finish the round and then it’s different exercises that take over.


By the end I was dripping in sweat and I ached considerably. I am so pleased it’s half an hour.  But I can really feel the benefits and it’s become a firm favourite and a class that I intend to do as much as possible.

All the best,

Woodyrunning spoon

Half term happenings

family cycling

Happy half term!

I hope those of you that has your routine shattered by the addition of your lovely children around 24/7 and your routine blown out of the water are coping admirably.  I have 2/3rds of my children at home this week with the other one at a swim camp (lucky thing!).  In terms of exercise I have matched my usual amount (albeit slightly different classes) with 3 runs and 4 classes.  However in food terms, I have not been so angelic, with 3 days being off plan (a bake off day and two meals out) and 3 being bang on track.

But I am going to blow my own trumpet here (only for a short time, don’t worry).  I was off plan for 3 days.  BUT NOT FOR 6.  I did manage to clamber back onto the wagon.  I accept I will probably put on weight, but I am back on track with a minor blip, so it’s not all bad.

Anyway back to my classes.  I did Zumba and two lots of aqua aerobics and I tried for the first time circuits.  I really did not know what to expect, and was quite nervous waiting to go in as most others seemed to know each other.  Luckily there was a chap who was new too and we stuck together.  After a warm up of running around the instructor laid out several cards with exercises written on them and several members of the class scurried off and got out various pieces of equipment.

The instructor then went through one of the exercises and we all picked a base and did that exercise for 45 secs.  when we finished all the bases (there were 7) we had a drink and the instructor went through the next set of exercises.  Some exercises I recognised but others were completely new to me and the instructor came around and made sure you were doing them correctly.  When it came to weights there were different weights put out and several exercises could be done differently depending on your fitness level or experience.

I enjoyed the class and it certainly made me work.  It really is suitable for everyone, which I loved.  Would I go again? Yes.  Would I do it instead of my other classes?  No.  Not regularly, maybe as a one off if it suited me better, but I do enjoy pump, conditioning, aqua and zumba.  But I am so pleased I gave it a go.

Hope you are having a fun filled half term.

All the best,

Woodyrunning spoon

My Rocking Routine


There is a delicious irony in writing this post all about my usual routine, when it is half term and the routine has gone out of the window.  Hey ho!  But hopefully it will ensure that I am back on the routine as quickly as possible.

I am really enjoying this routine and the fact that I have kept it up for close to 2 months is a testament to that fact.  And as I am sure you don’t need me to tell you, if you are enjoying something you are likely to continue with it.

So currently I do this:

Monday: Body Pump

Tuesday: Run

Wednesday: Body conditioning, Zumba

Thursday: Run, aqua aerobics

Friday; Rest day

Saturday: Run

Sunday: Rest day (occasional run or gym)

I feel I have a nice variety.  Body Pump and Body Conditioning helps tone me, Zumba is a bit of fun and as it is straight after Body Conditioning I think it helps to build up my stamina, and Aqua Aerobics is fun and I like to think of as active recovery (oh technical term there!!), as by Thursday my legs are a little achey and the water certainly helps them.  The classes are very enjoyable and have brought a camaraderie  that I didn’t expect. And I am sure the classes are having a positive effect on my weight loss and running.  And most lovely of all, I am thoroughly enjoying them.

All the best,

Woodyrunning spoon

A rant about the lack of plus size clothing

rant face


I warn you, I am going to rant.  So if you are of a nervous disposition, you may want to look away now.

Picture this: we are all being encouraged to eat healthy.  You know that it’s the right thing to do.  You get yourself motivated-it’s a big step.  You’ve decided to eat healthily but when you come to look in the shops there is no healthy food.  At all.  There is a wide selection of food that is not healthy, there is food that will just about do, but it’s not the fresh smelling, fat busting healthy food that you have promised yourself.  Actually you are now a little dejected.  Maybe this healthy eating lark isn’t for you.  It’ll be much easier to stick to the unhealthy stuff.  After all it’s like the manufacturers don’t want you to be healthy.

Crazy, eh?

Shall we substitute in exercise gear for plus-sizes for healthy food, and it now becomes painfully true?  We are being encouraged to exercise and for people carrying a bit of padding it can be quite a scary proposition.  And the fact that there is very little technical clothing that fits plus sizers is so depressing.  We have as much right as slim exercisers to be kitted out in clothing that will be do a specific job.

Please would manufacturers realise that there are some people of ample proportions that like to exercise.  It is soul destroying to see all the wonderful clothes (often discounted) offered in small sizes and nothing in larger sizes. We would like to feel like ‘proper runners and exercisers’ with technical gear rather than finding anything that fits.  Not very encouraging really, and that to me is what hurts the most.  The fact that us plus sizers have put our head above the parapet, are trying our best, but sportswear manufacturers don’t appear to appreciate that. Imagine if one did…think of the custom.

Rant over.  Normal scheduling is now resumed!

All the best,

Woodyrunning spoon

Choosing an exercise class



The last few weeks I have been hitting the gym regularly.  Not the treadmill, cross trainer and weights part of the gym, but the exercise class part of the gym. And I have been loving it.

It can be intimidating to be with a group of fit people doing a class that often you have no idea of what is going on and how you do it.  Well that was what I thought.  But I blundered in nevertheless and just thought I’d give them a try. And unsurprisingly I found all the people warm, friendly and encouraging.

So how can you decide on what class to try? Is it for you?  Well these pointers might give you the confidence to try.

  • What do you want to achieve with your class?  Is it to improve your fitness level, lose weight, have fun, have an hour’s relaxation or tone your body?  Decide what you want from your class and then find a class that best matches it.  There should be a description of the class on a leaflet or poster or try googling it (I know, I know, when in doubt…)


  • Think about your likes and dislikes.  If you are petrified of the water, aqua aerobics is not for you.  If you have always enjoyed boxing, maybe body combat is.


  • Try to be realistic about your fitness level when matching to a class.  If you haven’t exercised in years going to “a killer abs session that is so tough your ironing board stomach will weep” might not be a good move.  It’ll put you off. Exercising and ironing.


  • If you are not tied to a gym then try a selection of class providers to find one that suits you.  Classes do have different atmospheres and it could be that you prefer the relaxed zumba class in the school hall to the more formal one at the health club.


  • Try a selection of classes.  Don’t be afraid to try new ones.  But I would suggest, unless you had a shocking experience, to give each a couple of weeks.  As you know I didn’t enjoy my second zumba class and was going to give it up, but tried it again and am now appreciating it.


  • If you find a class you like rebook it ASAP.  There is nothing like knowing it is all booked up for you.  No excuses then!  Classes and gyms vary but I love the fact that as I go for one class I can book my class for the next week.  After all it would be a hassle to ring up and cancel-may as well go to the class!


  • When you are in the classes, don’t forget to smile!  Seriously, a smile, nod or a laugh can help break the ice with many people.  It also helps to build up morale as well as seeing everyone’s human side. I promise you most people have them.


If you are going to take the plunge, good luck.  Honestly, I am really enjoying my classes, and at the end feel really satisfied and fulfilled by them.  With the running and healthy eating, it is making such a difference, and I am so pleased I plucked up courage to give them a try.


All the best,

Woodyrunning spoon


Singing the praises of group training



I admit I do like to run on my own.  I can go when I like (usually early morning), where I like (very unadventurous courses where I live), and can plug myself into my I-phone and while away the time listening to my parkrun or Marathon talk podcasts.

And going to the gym, again I do by myself…mainly because I don’t know anyone else who goes to my gym.  But when it comes to group exercise, I am a massive fan!

There have been numerous studies telling us that exercising/losing weight with a buddy or family member helps.  But for many of us it may not be practical.  But for me group training has the best of both worlds; I choose the classes that are convenient but I also have a ready-made support system.  Every class I have been to has had an enthusiastic instructor.  Yes it’s their job, but so far I haven’t found a duff one.  And in most of the classes I have found helpful, kind people who are willing to help out a newbie.  Occasionally, as in life, there is someone who knows best, who looks and feels unapproachable but to be fair I have found them few and far between.  And another wonderful aspect is the fun you can have! Many smiles and giggles are shared, plus at the end there is an overwhelming sense of achievement.


My tips

Think about what you enjoy and what is practical when you choose a class.  If you are petrified on water, aqua aerobics may not be for you.  Equally if you know you are out of shape try not go for an advanced two hour class.  It will put you off!

Try several.  One of the beauties of belonging to a gym is that it doesn’t cost any extra to do the classes.  I have admitted that Zumba is not really my bag, but I have given it a go and then I’ll try something else.  I know that I have no rhythm, timing or balance.  So classes where these ingredients are vital, for me, would be a recipe for disaster.  One of the reason I love aqua aerobics so much, is that even though there is balancing and dancing, the water hides a multitude of sins!

If you are doing several a week think about the aims of the classes.  Some will be aerobic that will help to burn calories and work the heart and lungs.  Some will be conditioning-focusing more on toning, strength and endurance.  And others may focus on flexibility and condition as well as providing a calm and relaxing experience.  You may want to mix these classes up so you have a complete workout and certain areas of your body (I am thinking of knees if overweight) are not overworked and could be injured.

Most of all enjoy it!  It might be that group exercise is not for you.  But I have enjoyed it and have met some great people all wanting the same thing-to get fitter. It certainly is something I intend to keep up.

All, the best,


Woodyrunning spoon