Back in the pool

Given that the last time I went swimming was an impromptu dip in a rather chilly Lake Como after a long walk up and down the Italian hills, and that the last time I was at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic pool I was clambering over giant inflatables in a Total Wipeout style afternoon with my waterpolo pals (don’t ask), it was really good to get in a proper swimming set at the Olympic pool last night.

My limbs were conscious of the 4 mile run I’d put in earlier in the day, as well as the fact that I haven’t been swim training much lately, but both my limbs and my soul felt good for a dip!

I don’t know how, but sometimes I forget how much I adore swimming; luckily it only takes the smell of chlorine and a length or two to remind me. What makes me all the more happy (and frightfully nostalgic) is when, as with last night, there is a swimming club training in a couple of the lanes at the same time with lots of kids going through the hours of lengths that I went through at their age (and then gossiping in the showers afterwards!).

I keep toying with the idea of re-joining a club, although I fear that I’m not as fit as I might be and will end up floundering at the end. If anyone can recommend any good masters clubs in London or fancies trying out with me, let me know.


In the meantime here is my set from last night:


200 m front crawl
4 x 100 m front crawl FLAF (full stroke, legs, arms, full)
100 m backstroke


Main set

4 x 25 m IM (fly, back, breast, front crawl) x 4 plus 30 seconds rest between 100 m sets
150 m breathing every 3 strokes for 50 m, 5 strokes for 50 m, 7 strokes for 50  x 2 plus 30 seconds between sets
100 m front crawl kick
100 m backstroke kick
4 x 100 as 50 m backstroke 50 m breaststroke

(1,300 m)

Swim down

200 m front crawl

Total: 2,200



Underwater ab workout

I made it down to the pool twice last week and again last night so I’m stockpiling a nice collection of sessions ready to share with you. I was going to post them in order, but last night’s session was too much fun to hold back (!!) so I thought I’d share it first.

This session followed a killer gym session at lunch with the new PT at out work gym. I’d asked for a new programme to blitz everything as the countdown to the wedding gets ever shorter, and he certainly obliged. Needless to say I swam the below at a relatively gentle pace although I dug deep for the fly kick set to give my abs an extra boost. If you really want to work your stomach, do the whole fly kick set on your back and the front crawl kick and breaststroke kick sets without a board.

It’s 2,400m in total and took me around 50 minutes.


Warm up
300m choice

Main set

4 x 100m fly kick as 25m each on your back, left side, right side and front
Plus 15 seconds rest between each 100m set

4 x 100m front crawl breathing bilateral, every 3 or 5 strokes
Plus 15 seconds rest between sets

2 x 100m IM kick
Plus 15 seconds rest between sets

4 x 50m fly drill (one arm pulls as 3 strokes left arm, 3 strokes right arm)
Plus 15 seconds rest between sets

100m front crawl kick

2 x 100m backstroke
Plus 15 seconds rest between sets

100m breaststroke kick

4 x 50m breaststroke
Plus 15 seconds rest between sets

Swim down
300m choice

2,400m total


A fun 45 minute swim set

After a blissful, (if not slightly indulgent on the food and wine front), long weekend, on Tuesday I decided to stay out of the rain and switch my run for a gym/swim combo.

Lunchtime saw me power through a Kayla Itsines-inspired HITT workout, with jumping squat-lunges and cross-body mountain climbers designed to turn all of your muscles to jelly.

In the evening I headed to the pool and had such a great session I wanted to share it here.

This is a 2,100m session which should take around 45 minutes and is a great way to keep you interested and engaged for the whole set:


2oom front crawl
100m backstroke
100m breaststroke

Main set

300m front crawl
2 x 150m front crawl (30 seconds rest after each)
3 x 100m front crawl (30 seconds rest after each)
4 x 75m front crawl kick (20 seconds rest after each)
5 x 50m as 25m fly, 25m backstroke, rest 10 seconds, 25m  backstroke, 25m breaststroke, rest 10 seconds, 25m breaststoke, 25m frontcrawl, rest 10 seconds, 25m fly, 25m backstroke, rest 10 seconds, 25m  backstroke, 25m breaststroke, rest 1 minute
6 x 25m front crawl off 30 seconds

Swim down

100m easy

If you have a fun swimming session do share it with me and I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did.

Happy swimming!


What’s your priority? Why it’s ok not to do it all.

‘What’s the priority?’; ‘get your priorities straight’; ‘you need to prioritise’ – these are all phrases that we’ve either heard uttered or used ourselves at some stage, be it linked to work, an exercise schedule, romantic relationships, or family and friends.

cat on matLast week I read an article by Catherine Turner in Women’s Health, which really resonated with me in this regard. Turner was recounting how she had reached breaking-point in trying to get to her daily yoga classes, ostensibly in order to ‘de-stress’. But between rushing out of work, racing a bustling commute and then powering her exhausted body through 90 minutes of power yoga, the result was quite the opposite and somewhere amidst her chaturangas and downward-dogs, she realised that she needed to reconsider her schedule.

The irony of the source of her stress was particularly keenly felt since yoga is widely regarded as the holy grail of zen-inducing exercise. But even when embarking on less mindful-making pursuits, sometimes juggling multiple priorities, even the ones that are supposedly undertaken to improve our well-being, can leave us more wrung-out than relaxed.

For me, a similar moment came when I realised that a work trip to Frankfurt would prevent me from running a half marathon I’d entered. I got cross, then disappointed, then stressed. I run to relax and to escape from stress and getting anxious that I’d have to miss a race transformed running from my refuge to my persecutor.

lovely-cats-pictures-12Whether it’s stressing about skipping a run because you have to work late, feeling guilty for trading your swim for a lie-in, or missing a friend’s party for a race, when you have multiple priorities you will undoubtedly find that you have to let something slip.

When this happens the first thing you have to remember is that you can’t do everything all of the time, and no one can (no matter how much the converse may seem the case). Nothing is gained from stressing over the fact you have two or more activities scheduled concurrently, instead you have to take each activity in each instance and assess which is the principal concern. And your priorities won’t always be the same: running club may trump work drinks one day, but a birthday party for an old friend on another occasion would trump running club. And while on one day the best option is to get up for your early morning yoga class, if other events have left you sleep-deprived, another day those extra couple of hours in bed might actually do you more good than any number of sun salutations.

I know it’s common-sensical but sometimes I think we need it spelling out to us so we feel able to let something go.

Secondly, you need to remember why it is you are embarking on the particular activity, in the first place – be it exercise, a work event, or a social meet up. If you run to relax and it ends up making you more stressed you need a serious re-think. If you keep oversleeping to the detriment of your workouts, you need to question if ultimately your body would benefit from some more exercise (and maybe an early night of two).

Thirdly your ultimate priority should be your overall health and happiness, and the health and happiness of those around you. If going to yoga means you’re a more patient colleague, or running your commute means you’re less stressed when you get home then it’s important to dedicate time to these activities. However, if you are so focused on on one thing you lose sight of all else, and find that you are isolating yourself from others to meet your targets you need to reassess your priorities.

Finally if you’ve given precedent to an activity and are going to do it, do it properly and whole-heartedly, don’t just go through the motions. If you have to miss a workout to stay late at the office, do the work you need to get done and don’t procrastinate. If getting up early for a swim means missing an extra hour in bed then push yourself in the pool. If you are skipping a night out for an early night, make sure you get into bed in good time. Know the desired outcomes of your actions and achieve them.

And remember: prioritise.


The First Post

Running feetWelcome to the Exercise Archive and my first post. You may be pleased to know that, in the spirit of practising what I preach, I’m writing this now with chalky hands and achy limbs after a long evening climbing session.

Although I’ve always had a general interest in health and nutrition, the rather rash decision at the end of last year to sign up for Tough Mudder 2014 has seen my exercise regime increase in intensity and variety. Spurred on by the looming prospect of a truly terrifying event, I’ve found myself looking at new and interesting ways to get into shape.

Less than a year ago, although a regular gym bunny, I realised that during my workouts I was going through the motions but not really achieving anything. A casual cross-train, a gentle jog and a wander round the weights left me plateauing and bored. Training for an event was the kick-start I needed to liven up my routine and now I’m constantly looking for new ways to run faster, climb higher, stretch further, dance harder and swim quicker.

As a vegan nutrition has always been of interest and importance to me, but now with all of the health food stores of London at my disposal, I’m experimenting more and more with new ingredients, nutritional plans and delicious recipes, as well as dipping my toe into the world of (vegan) protein shakes.

This blog will act as a repository of all the things relating to health, nutrition and well-being that I’ve gathered during my fitness face-lift, and features not just my own posts but also stories by specialist contributors.
Whether you are looking for a review of the latest running book, a handy lunchtime workout, a new tasty recipe or tips on barefoot running this is the blog for you.

I hope you enjoy reading the posts and I welcome all feedback.