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My Fitness Weekend Part 2: Following through on challenges I set at the start of the year, Tools of Titans and incredible Fitness tibits

Part 2 of my fitness weekend. Here’s Part 1 if you missed it.

I didn’t mean for this blog to be a two parter… or leave it on such a “cliff hanger” as one of the Instagram commenters described it as (if I didn’t mention your sister in the last blog by name, then I’m not going to mention you). But the first blog was starting to get pretty long for one read through… and I was late for class. With the length of this blog, I'm glad I broke it down into two parts. There's definitely some cool take aways from this one that you can apply for yourself so stick with me

After checking out the outlet store in the area (full disclosure, I was on the hunt for more Jordans), I found myself back near the airport. I didn’t fancy making my way into the city. So back to the airport I went. At least they would have a charger in one of the shops and help me kill time. Or so I thought.

It was around 3pm when I got back to the airport. Very small area before security. I went into WH Smith in search of a charger when it dawned on me that there was one goal in particular that I had been failing miserably. At the start of the year, I wrote out a list of things I wanted to do in 2017. Which sounds cheesy now that I type it but seemingly it helps. One of the goals was to read, on average, one book a month. I had never been much of a reader even though I had bought a fair few last year, mostly business type books. Only finished one of them, Gary Vaynerchuk’s ‘Crush It’. I actually got to meet him at the Dublin Tech Summit this year which was pretty cool. I’ve probably only finished 4-5 books in the last 5 years. So how has the challenge gone so far this year? Well, as of typing, I still have yet to finish my first book. I had 5 hours and pretty much no phone, so now was the time to rectify that. I ended up picking probably the thickest book there. Over 700 pages. So much for finishing a book on that day. Tim Ferriss’ 'Tools of Titans'. I had heard of Tim Ferriss a few times before and was meaning to get his 4 hour work week book. 

Meeting Gary Vee in Dublin, February 2017. Everyone asking about business advice, I bring up the one thing we can never agree on; his hatred for Jordans. Although I do get his reasoning.

Meeting Gary Vee in Dublin, February 2017. Everyone asking about business advice, I bring up the one thing we can never agree on; his hatred for Jordans. Although I do get his reasoning.

I bought the book, went upstairs to a quiet bar to see my favourite pale ale - Sierra Nevada - (a PT that drinks?) on tap. I knew the right decision was made. Within 20 minutes, I had learned more about fitness and looking at aspects of fitness in a different light than I ever would have gotten from the Expo. I was thrilled with my choice as I absorbed knowledge bomb after knowledge bomb… and a pint or two, of course. 

Good life choice, Seán

Good life choice, Seán

While there are way too many topics to mention, here’s a couple of interest topics on fitness that stood out to me and got me thinking:

  • Flexibility, mobility and breathing exercises particularly with the different exercises outlined through out the Health section of the book such as the Jefferson Curl
  • Benefits of a 30 Minute Sauna Sessions including studies showing that twice a week for 3 weeks can increase running endurance by 32%. Something I may need to consider for a future challenge that I will get to in this blog
  • The benefits of a Ketogenic Diet, (similar, but not quite the low carb diet I have used and blogged about before), Magnesium supplements (something I have also blogged about before) as well as the benefits of fasting, including studies on fasting to protect normal cells before chemotherapy. Hoping to look into Ketogenic Diets and Fasting and do my own research on them for a blog in the near future.
  • How simple tips and tricks can help us fire up muscles and increase flexibility in the matter of minutes. When I was reading a chapter of the glute medius (don’t worry, I’ll explain in a second) I was reminded of a time in college where the lecturer proved to me how squeezing a foam roller between my legs allowed me to reach down, keep my legs straight and touch my toes. I could barely reach past my knees and incorrectly put it down to poor flexibility of my hamstrings.  Check out here how exactly it works and will help you. The point is, certain muscles in are body are weak and if we were able to use them efficiently, we could benefit greatly. One of those muscles is the glute medius, one of the smaller muscles in our backside. This muscle is rarely worked on as it involves a lot of side movement and rotation of the hip. We don't tend to incorporate exercises including this movement pattern in the gym and it’s something I tend to neglect as well. But by improving on the glute medium it can help use move better and potentially help out with knee pain. There were 7 exercises involved in improving this area. I instantly knew the perfect time to try out this routine… at the end of my Booty Camp class the next day of course. All PTs that love their job have to be a little evil because I genuinely got excited at trying this out with them. It would also be the first time I tried an idea of any kind from the book. And the reactions were fantastic. And by fantastic I mean it was obvious that they definitely felt it!!!

    Here are the 7 moves, that must be done continuously, 10-15 reps on each move before switching the other side. All moves are done lying down to one side and making sure your toe is never higher than your heel when performing the reps.
  1. Up/Down. Raising your leg roughly 30 degrees up off from your other leg and then back down to 12 inches from it.
  2. Front Kick/Swing: With your leg remains at 12 inches about the other leg for the duration of this series (a point I forgot to say during the class, raging now!), kick your leg out 45 degrees and back to the starting point.
  3. Back Swing: Swinging your leg back as far as you can and returning to the starting point. Make sure you don’t arch your back. 
  4. Front and Back Swing: Swinging your leg forward and back. A combination of the previous two without pausing in the middle
  5. Clockwise Circles: Rotating the top foot roughly 18 inches and making sure that at it’s lowest point your still 12 inches from the other ankle and your heel is higher than your toe.
  6. Anti-Clockwise circles: Repeat in the other direction.
  7. Bicycle Motion: Pedal as if you are on a bike.

As great as seeing the reaction was to this, I attempted to try the series myself and it killed! I definitely felt it working. Give it a try and when you feel the pain, don’t blame me. Although I would have loved to have taken the credit!

Over 200 pages in, I had finished the Health section and had just read through the chapter with Arnold Schwarzenegger (who also wrote the forward) when it was time to catch a flight. Did I continue reading on the flight you ask. Did I not say I wore 2 sets of travel bands on the flight? I kept my eyes shut and tried to sleep. I’ve surprised myself by reading a few more chapters since.

Oh, you thought I was joking? What's the point in having two pairs if you don't use them both?!

Oh, you thought I was joking? What's the point in having two pairs if you don't use them both?!

I plan on finishing the book and hope to read at least 11 others before the end of the year to complete one of the goals I set out. With the exception of my really poor attempt at reading at least one book a month, I've done quite well on my list so far. One I put the wheels in motion earlier the past week that I’m really excited about that I won’t get into just yet. Two of the biggest challenges on the list are fitness specific ones. One of them is a transformation challenge. Despite set backs in training due to recent injuries, the reasoning for doing the challenge has very little to do with personal appearance. I won't even be working off a programme that I have designed for myself. That may sound weird that a PT would want to attempt someone else’s plan rather than stick with the knowledge they have but if Michael Jordan had a basketball coach, I can work off someone else's plan. I’m interested in different styles and I’m hoping it will help me learn. That should be starting in June and it will get it’s own blog then. The challenge also finishes up around the end of August, coinciding with my own yearly challenge - the 4th year of doing a strict little to no carb diet for 30 days. 

The second one is something I had never really given much thought to before this year. I wanted to do something, fitness wise, that would truly challenge me. SO I thought about the experiences that I have that helps me deliver on other people's goals through having done something similar myself. I want to able to experience as many aspects of fitness that I can. And I’ve done the majority of them. Weight loss, muscle gain, fields sports conditioning etc. But there's one aspect that I have never really done. Endurance running. And what greater challenge is there than running a marathon.

I wanted to keep it quiet until I had gone through with booking my place in this year's Dublin City Marathon. That was until one of my best mates had told me that he had planned on running his first one this year too. So I had to tell him that I planned on doing it as well. And then I realised why I shouldn’t have until I had booked it when he asked me what time I was hoping to run it in. I hadn’t given it that much thought. The furthest I had ever ran was 10km and that was for fitness events to help others get through it rather than challenging for myself. I had read that under 4 hours was a great time. “Under 4 would be great”. “Ah you could do it in 3 and a half" was his quick reply. One of the reasons I have never ran more than 10km is because I feel I would be bored and there was always better things I could do in the gym to achieve my goals more efficiently. Except now the goal is to run longer. 

Next thing you know, I abandon one of my rules about checking my ego at the door when it comes to exercise and the two of us are signed up and now booked in the first wave of the Dublin City Marathon. The Marathon is split up into 4 waves, based on time you expect to finish it under. Wave 1 is a sub 3 hours 39 minutes time. That’s now the goal. It's true that he has never ran a marathon either. But he’s also in the Cadets down in the Curragh so he’s done nothing but run long distances with heavy backpacks for the last 8 months. Me? I’ve been doing 10-15 yard sprints in pads and getting hit by people. That’s definitely not endurance training. It’s times like this where I feel like I’m a few fries short of a happy meal!

A lot of fun... but not ideal Marathon training

A lot of fun... but not ideal Marathon training

Over the next few weeks, I plan on building up a baseline to running and then keeping my training logs completely transparent and goals for the marathon. I’ll be updating my progress with weekly blogs, so if you’re reading this and the thought ever entered your mind on if you could run a marathon, now is the time to do it! I’m hoping to start my training in June and will update everyone on my schedule for it then. 

The main reason I am mentioning these goals is simple and something I have mentioned in previous blogs: Accountability. Now that I have put it out there that my goal is not only to run a marathon but to run it in under 3:39, and I’m really not sure what I’m in for agreeing to that wave, I’m going to have to work my ass off. Mentioning that I will be doing a transformation challenge as well holds me accountable to give it 100% in times that I may feel unmotivated.

And that’s the part I love about the fitness industry and social media. Sure we know that one person that always posts when they are hitting the gym. But if they are using it as a form of accountability and find that they are getting results well then fair play to them. Although there is also another side to it that’s best for another day. I think social media can be used as a powerful tool for keeping your fitness goals on track.

As part 1 showed, even the experts have polarising opinions on what may seem like the most simple of topics. When it comes to fitness, question everything and find out what’s right for you.