We never know where life is going to take us or what challenges it brings. In January 2010 I was happy, so happy I wanted to stay that way for as long as I could. I realised that if Ali and I wanted a long and healthy life together, we had to change. I was clinically obese, had a bad back and my knees were feeling the strain. I had various health problems and I was ageing faster than my years. I looked ahead to a life I did not want. It was time to change. By the end of the year I had lost 4 stone - 56lbs. My confidence rocketed - I had taken control and it had worked. I was exercising, enjoying buying clothes, speaking up for myself.

I began to believe in myself again, I began to dream. For years I had watched marathons with admiration and a lump in my throat. In April 2013, I ran my first marathon.

This blog is about living life as a slim person, staying slim and fulfilling my dreams. Come and join me, support me, advise me!

Take care, Sue

Sunday, 2 February 2014

In praise of personal training

Last year's marathon really did me in. For months afterwards I couldn't run properly, everything felt odd and out of sorts. Although I 'recovered' quickly and could walk and go up and down stairs, as a runner of any distance, I was crocked.

I took some time out to rest the bits that needed rest and focussed on my Yoga instead. Yoga is wonderful for helping you get in touch with your body and listen to its deep wisdom.  What I heard was a body that was still twisted and unbalanced and out of kilter with itself.  My usual asymmetry felt more pronounced than usual.

Whilst I was working on things, gradually repairing and re balancing, my gym did a special offer on personal trainers. In the spirit of trying everything once I signed up for a taster session.  My expectations were pretty low I have to say, I was just hoping that I'd get some good advice on making better use of all the machines and things in the gym.

Little did I know what was going to happen. I was blown away.  Dan, my Personal Trainer completely opened my eyes. Within that one taster session he'd shown me just how out of balance my body was and how if I didn't start fixing things I was going to keep having trouble.  The Chi Running was helping keep a lot of things at bay, but there were things happening at a muscle and joint level that I needed to address. A few simple exercises and it was clear to me that I was wobbling a lot more than I should do!

Over a matter of weeks, Dan helped me identify that I have glutes and abs that really, really hate to work. Almost every muscle in my body got engaged before my glutes kicked in, even though I was willing them very hard indeed to join the party. I am that lazy a**se. Working at a scary level of weight on the leg press, those glutes finally began to get their act together and started to shift.  I could feel the difference between the strength of my left and right side very clearly indeed.

Step-ups with weight onto tables showed me just how unstable my hips were in the launch stage of my stride. Again a marked difference between left and right. With weights I could barely lever myself into the air.   Glute and hamstring exercises on the swiss ball had my hammies and toes cramping and me lying exhausted after one or two goes. I thought my hamstrings were quite strong, the truth is, they really don't do very much either! Gradually, we began to get my back muscles working in harmony and started to rebuild alignment.

With thanks to www.thefitnessexplorer.com for the photo

Under Dan's eagle eye I saw my running in a totally new way. I don't run with my whole leg, I run from my quads. My hips are unstable creating aches and pains up the joints and creating a lot of work for my poor ITB and lower back.  My left leg felt it was working hard but it wasn't working as hard as my right leg, it just grumbled more.

Of course it's one thing to understand all this and it's another to start changing things! I thought my glutes were working, but when I tried to move them, nothing happened. I had to do all the Chi and Yoga things. I'd got my intention, now I had to focus on that specific bit of the world - a glute muscle. As I focussed on it, I gradually became aware of the muscle and eventually I could use it.  I practiced all the time - sitting down (you can move your glutes when you're sitting down, but it can make you feel a bit sea sick and it looks odd so don't do it in company); standing at the bus stop; walking down the street; reading in bed.  Every step was an opportunity to practice and every step was a step nearer the change I wanted to happen.

Another great value of a Personal Trainer is that they help you realise that you can work a lot harder than you think you can. I thought I pushed myself, that was until Dan pushed me. He made me do things I never thought I could do. Weights, repetitions, keeping going when you really don't think you can. I astonished myself just how much harder I could work when encouraged.

I find that now when I go to the gym, I do an extra circuit or add more weight than I think I can because I now know that I can do so much more. I know when I am cheating. No excuses. No illusions. I suspect I might only have scratched the surface there!

The whole experience has been transformational and I'm saving up for more sessions with Dan. Wakening up those glutes has changed my alignment and I now run with my whole leg. The exercises where Danny Dryer has you twisting from side to side and changing gears now make sense, they never did before because my glutes weren't moving.

Some of these weaknesses and imbalances are inbuilt - my funny feet. Some are acquired - running in orthotics. What Dan taught me is how to train and re train my body to be balanced and strong.  This builds a much stronger alignment from the inside out, right into the deepest muscle memory. My runs feel different too, the hip pain has gone, I'm lighter and looser but I don't have the stamina yet I need. I'm building it up gradually.

So thank you Dan for helping me make a big stride in my running journey!

Marathon is a testing distance, mentally and physically. I got through mine by masking and taping over my physical limitations and imperfections, not by addressing them or by improving my form. I was in a hurry to get those 26.2 miles under my belt and I'm not sure I'll get away with it again!

Whatever you're up to, run strong, keep well.

Take care