Walk yourself fit classes – Corsham

After many weeks of recces I’m pleased to announce that we are starting Walk yourself fit classes in Corsham! I’m really excited about the routes we’ve found – a proper mix of town and country, with distances between 3-5 miles.

Why should you sign up? Well walking is an excellent way to get fit, plus we throw in some strength and conditioning exercises alone the way to help you tone, improve flexibility and give you more of a workout. I also have a rule that no one should be so out of breath that they can’t hold a conversation – plenty of opportunities for a gossip and to meet new friends!

You can sign up via the Nordic Walking UK website (these classes are not Nordic walking – this is just where all my walks are managed). Or you can contact me at karen@chafing-thighs.co.uk.

Class info:
Saturday 0900-1000
Start – Springfield Community Campus
Open to all abilities.
New walkers please contact me first.

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Walk yourself fit classes in Swindon and Chippenham

I’m excited to announce that our first Walk yourself fit classes start in Swindon on 27 January and Chippenham on 31 January. Power walking is where my passion for walking really started and I can’t wait to share my knowledge and experience with more people.

Power walking (or fitness walking) is a great way to boost your health and wellbeing and it can help reduce your risk of dementia and cancer. The classes will also give you the chance to meet new people in your area.

The classes will be action packed 1 hour sessions that will help you improve your fitness levels and gain results fast. I will show you how we can turn motivating drills and exercises into a fast paced (and fun!) walk.

No fitness walking experience is necessary and all levels of fitness and speed are catered for.

Sign up today

Lydiard Park, Swindon classes http://bit.ly/2BemNio

Chippenham classes http://bit.ly/2FP9EQg

Powering through Leadership in Running Fitness

Runners on beach

Running fitness! Have I gone over to the darkside you may be asking. Well… no of course not, my boobs are not made for running. However, there is a lot of crossovers between running and power walking, and when it comes to leading a group, they are pretty much the same thing.

So it was that I found myself getting up very early on a Saturday morning and driving to Bristol to take England Athletics’ Leadership in Running Fitness course (LiRF). LiRF is a one day course that leads to being certified as a group leader, and as I keep getting asked to start up power walking groups, I thought I’d better get qualified!

Everyone else taking part was a runner, we even had an ultra runner amongst us (several of us went ooooo when we found out). And of course everyone had chosen their t-shirts carefully to demonstrate their running prowess – good job I’d worn my Marathon du Medoc one, but the ultra runner won hands down with his Mont Blanc one).

The day was a mixture of practical, theory and group work, with each of us taking the part of ‘leader.’ We did warm-ups, cool downs, warm-ups, cool downs, over and over to get down the patter of a leader and make sure we were asking those all important open questions. And the other wannabe leaders were great with me, adjusting their sessions to take into account a power walker, and of course I got to show off the proper power walking form – lots of ‘great posture’ and ‘perfect arms’ comments to kept me going.

I learned plenty of great ideas for improving speed, strength and coordination (all of which are important whether you are a runner or a walker), but one of the most important things I learned was the importance of not talking when you demonstrate stretches. If you are talking then people watch your mouth, not what your arms, legs and back are doing – this was very hard for me, and I kept starting to say something, then having to bite my tongue. I also picked up loads of points about running form which I will be using on Mr CT when he starts training for his next marathon – whether he wants it or not.

The course was great, but I did feel a bit guilty about missing my training session for the day. But I needn’t have worried – several hours of stretching, high knees, side steps and a final competitive session that involved me going all out and sprinting, and I had done more than enough exercise. And oh how I felt it, for several days afterwards. Not kidding, I felt like I’d walked a marathon and had to walk sideways up and down stairs! But I passed, and I will definitely be incorporating what I’ve learned into my fitness and Nordic walking classes.

Race review: Medoc Marathon 2015

Medoc Marathon 2015 medal

The first question you ask yourself when you sign up for a marathon probably shouldn’t be, ‘who will be the designated driver?’ Unless of course you are signing up for the infamous Marathon du Médoc. Now in its 31st year the marathon is growing in popularity and infamy. If you’ve not heard of it let me explain. The Médoc Marathon is held in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, France. Bordeaux is of course famous for great wine, and the Médoc is where the best of the best comes from. The marathon starts in Pauillac, alongside the Gironde river and makes its way through some of the most famous, and stunning, vineyards in the world. And those vineyards like to give you wine, lots of wine. In 2015 there were 16 official wine stops on route with more available from the local villagers if you needed topping up. Oh, and don’t forget the pre-marathon party (with wine), the bottle of wine in your finishers pack, the post-marathon beer tent (free to all finishers), the post-marathon party and fireworks (with beer and wine tents) and the Sunday recovery walk through more vineyards (with wine) and recovery lunch (well you can probably work out what’s served with that!). How does that all sound? Pass the paracetamol? And, this is probably the only marathon you’ll do where they serve oysters, steak, waffles and ice-cream as you go round. Antacids?

Well this year was our fourth year at the Médoc Marathon, my second competing, and first completing the full marathon. I’ve been very unlucky with this event, picking up injuries prior to the marathon three years in a row. This year I was determined to finish even if I had to crawl round, and trust me after the first ten wine stops you see some people that are very nearly crawling, so I wouldn’t have looked out of place. We’ve had a mixture of weather, our first time it was in the low 90s! This year it started hot and sunny (I also started with red hair). Then halfway through the rain started, and it didn’t stop for nearly three hours (by the time I finished all the hair dye had been washed out, not a trace of red left). But there is so much going on around you that you don’t even think about the rain, or that you are walking 26.2 miles. From rock bands to jazz, brass bands to dj’s and even a George Michael wannabe, the entertainment is incredible. The only thing better is the support. All the local villagers turn out; helping with marshalling, cheering you on, cooling you down with their garden hose, belting out Abba classics from their stereos. They are quite simply amazing.

My only grumble with the marathon is the ‘sweep-up truck.’ To ensure that participants get round in the allotted 6hrs 30mins, there is a sweep-up truck, manned by people with actual brooms, who chase you along and beep horns in your ear. They are lovely people, I got to know them quite well, but when they have been on your heels for nearly two hours you start to resent them a little bit! But also without them I wouldn’t have achieved my current pb, having knocked 21 minutes off my old one. So I begrudgingly say, merci.

This is a fantastic event, even if you don’t like wine, there is so much going on, so many different events, that you are guaranteed to have an amazing time. It also has an incredible international following. I’ve spoken to runners and walkers from all over the world, for some it’s their first time, for others they come back every year.

If you fancy taking part next year, it will be held on the 10th September. Registration normally opens in February, however it is now such a popular event, that you will have to keep an eye out for when it opens, and register as soon as it does.

Oh, and did I mention, it is compulsory fancy dress? Next year’s theme: Tales and Legends.

Medoc Marathon 2014 - Carnival

Tummy trouble

Toilet sign

When you are tired and several miles from home there is nothing more likely to make you pick up the pace than a cramp and gurgle in your tummy. I suffer from IBS and there have been times when I’ve been out training, and that familiar, sharp pain in my stomach has struck, when even Usain Bolt would have said ‘damn she can move’.

Now, I know, this isn’t a pleasant subject but I’d bet my favourite sports bra that there isn’t a walker or runner out there who hasn’t experienced tummy trouble at least once while training. Long sessions in particular can leave you prone to problems due to a mixture of dehydration, higher body temperature and the constant up and down movement. Also, when you exercise blood is diverted away from the stomach meaning that your digestive system won’t function as well as normal.

But don’t worry, there’s plenty you can do to prevent tummy trouble spoiling your training or big race.

Top tips on how to avoid tummy trouble:

  • Avoid foods high in fibre, fat and sugar for a few days before a race or long walk.
  • Don’t have a heavy meal before you walk. Try to leave at least a couple of hours before a big meal and your training.
  • Try having a light snack, such as a banana or rice cakes and peanut butter, up to 30 minutes before you go out.
  • Race day is not the time for experimentation. Try to only use sports drinks and gels that you have tried and tested several times before.
  • Avoid dehydration. Hydrate before you exercise and try to take regular sips of fluid rather than gulping it down. At water stations I normally take a bottle or cup and carry it with me for 5-10 mins, sipping as I go.
  • Don’t over-use sugary drinks or gels. Yes, they are great for providing energy but they can also lead to stomach distress.
  • If possible avoid NSAIDs such as ibuprofen as these can irritate the stomach.
  • Try walking at different times of the day. I find I am prone to tummy trouble when I walk early in the morning, even on only short walks.
  • Keep a food diary for a couple of weeks. Try and identify which foods might be triggers and avoid them before walking.

Top tips for when you just can’t wait any longer:

  • Carry a small pack of toilet tissues or wet wipes with you. You can find mini travel packs in most supermarkets or chemists.
  • Plan your route. If like me you know that tummy troubles are likely, stick to a route where there are plenty of toilets available.
  • Think outside the cubicle when it comes to finding a toilet. Bus and train stations, museums, hotels, all are likely to have toilets.
  • Be polite – I’ve had a few close calls, but some nice words and a desperate look are normally enough for any shop, restaurant  or bar to let you use their loo.
  • Events have got better and most now have an adequate provision of toilets, both at the start and during the race. Check the course route before the race to find out where the toilets are.

Most importantly, don’t let any of this put you off. I’ve had IBS for over twenty years and I’ve been power walking for more than five years. With a little experimentation, you should be able to work out what does and doesn’t work for you. However, if your tummy troubles persist, please consult your doctor.