Hell Week conundrum

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There I was, Monday morning, feelings smug that I’d got out of bed and done 2x Metis (strength), which incidentally, is pretty tough on the old thighs (and the downstairs neighbours – all those jumps).

I completed the ‘week’ that I’ve been doing for about the last three weeks (sorry Coach), and was looking forward to what was in store, when blam, HELL WEEK. Jeez.

So this is tricky. If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that I’ve been struggling with motivation these last few weeks. And last time I did Hell Week, it was after a similar period of inaction (maybe Coach knows). I found it really gave me the boost I needed to get back into regular training.

But here’s the thing, this time, the timing isn’t great. I have a major deadline this week at work, and next week I’m away for the whole week in another country, so not even sure where/when I’ll be able to train.

So, do I just crack on with Hell Week on my usual schedule and take a few days out if needs be, with the knowledge that it will take longer than seven days, or do I postpone until I return from being away?

If I postpone, I’ll have to select my own workouts in the meantime. And I’m not sure I’ll get the most out of training. It might not do my motivation any good. I’ll feel like I’ve got some time off. If I just get on with it, I might feel frustrated that it’s not ‘pure’ Hell Week.

Here’s what Coach has in store:

Day 1: Uranos, Krios
Day 2: Venus, 200 burpees
Day 3: Hermes, 2x Morpheus
Day 4: Kronos, 2x Krios
Day 5: Venus, Artemis
Day 6: Kentauros (Strength), 200 burpees
Day 7: 2x Ares, 100 pullups

Ugh. The first three days aren’t too bad (apart from all those burpees). It gets tough mid-week, and I don’t know if I’ll have running space and pull-up bar when I’m away.

Hmmm… I’m of a mind to just get on with it and adapt as needs be. What do you think?

Hell Week conundrum

Quick Sunday update

A quick swim today. Usually try and do 20 lengths on a Sunday – there’s a 45-minute lane-swimming window at my local pool. Did 22 today – and didn’t really stop for a break throughout. Felt good. I’ve noticed that my legs are looking and feeling a lot stronger from doing Freeletics. More definition, bigger muscles in my thighs and calves.

I’ve noticed that my belly has come back a bit, which isn’t great. The result of over-indulgence at Christmas, drinking and not looking after my diet. Challenge over the next few weeks is to make sure I’m eating well – lots of fruit and veg.

Also, I’m booking a holiday soon – something to work towards…

Tomorrow is 2xMetis, which I’ve never done before. Let’s see how that goes.

How was your weekend training?

Quick Sunday update

Like a car running out of petrol… working out when you’re hungry is hard!

Image from unsplash.com (Gabriel Jiminez)

Tonight when I came to do 3xMetis, I thought it would be a breeze. A PB of 23mins to beat? Piece of cake! 

But then when I came to do it, I found the first set completely exhausting. I had no energy. I couldn’t work it out. Then I realised… 

I didn’t very much today. Not out of choice, it was entirely by accident. It was purely down to a busy day at work and slightly too much coffee, which kind of ruins my appetite. I had yoghurt, granola and banana for breakfast and then baked beans on sourdough for lunch. Nowhere near enough energy for a workout!

It was the first time that had happened to me, which is kind of weird in itself. It’s sometimes strange to think of your body in such a basic way. Like a car running out of petrol.

On another note, I’ve changed my next training week to Cardio+Strength, just to mix it up a bit, and to encourage me to get out of the house to do the running exercises.

I’m also trying to work out in the morning rather than the evening, but it’s so bloody hard to get out of bed at the moment!

Like a car running out of petrol… working out when you’re hungry is hard!

The times when you almost give up one minute after you started

After my productive Sunday morning, I then went for a swim and did 20 lengths. I’m not that strong a swimmer (medium lane for me all the way), so doing five lengths without stopping was an achievement! 

So then yesterday it was back to work and I was tired. But I still made myself do a Freeletics work out while the curry was as simmering on the hob last night.

It was 3x Metis. I’ve done it before in 23 minutes. Yesterday I was pushing 26. For some reason it was really hard work. I almost gave up after the first set. I gave up trying to beat my PB very early on and concentrated on good form.

I have noticed that the desire to work out is becoming habit. I find myself trying to figure out how to fit it into my day. I’m much less likely to put it off. In particular at the moment I have in my mind that working hard through the autumn/winter will pay off in the summer.

Also – protein porridge. New favourite thing.

The times when you almost give up one minute after you started

I completed Freeletics Hell Week and this is what happened…

That was tough. I’d had a month away from Freeletics and when I picked up where I left off, I realised I had one week left of the initial 15-week programme. So I didn’t feel like I was entering Hell Week at peak form. My diet hadn’t been great, I’d been drinking quite a bit and I hadn’t exercised for ages.

But I made a promise to myself to complete the week in the correct time (i.e. not leaving any gaps between days) and I bloody well did it!

Here are my observations on the rest of Hell Week:

  • I read somewhere that your mind underestimates what your body can do. This is totally true. So many times throughout the week my mind was telling me that I couldn’t do any more, but if I just pushed my body one step further, pressed go on the next set, forced myself to do just 10 more burpees, it was amazing how much I could achieve. I really didn’t think I’d be able to do all the exercises back-to-back, but now it’s done it doesn’t feel so daunting. And now I look at next week and think ‘what a breeze’
  • Sleep really helps. You can do so much more when you’ve had a good night’s sleep
  • I don’t think I’ve ever drunk as much water as I have this week, and yet I seemed to always be thirsty. Maybe like 3 or 4 litres a day.
  • My appetite was also huge. I tried to make sure I ate well this week.
  • There were a lot of pull-ups in my workouts this week. I still can’t do the correct form, so replaced them all with Jumping Pull-ups. I’m getting stronger though
  • It’s a clever trick of Freeletics to give you Hell Week at the end of Week 15. I saw my body transform more quickly that it has been, and I reckon if I’d stuck to good nutrition and done the programme in 15 weeks rather than 25 I think I’d have been submitting my transformation photos to Freeletics. But I still feel like I’ve got some more work to do.
  • I like Krios. It’s a nice workout
  • I hate 3x Metis Strength. Hate it.
  • I really like working out in the open air rather than inside. Especially in summer.

I also downloaded the Freeletics Nutrition app this week and signed up for the Coach. But then I have to say that on looking at the recipes, I got an immediate refund. I just didn’t like the look of the programme, and have seen better and more tasty lean recipes elsewhere. Food is just too important to me. So I’m going to continue eating lean and healthy, but I don’t really want to have that level of control over what I eat. It’s enough to have a work-out routine. Sorry Freeletics. Not for me.

So there we go. 15 weeks down and where am I?

  • I am much stronger, fitter and in much better shape than when I started
  • My stamina and endurance has increased hugely
  • Freeletics has had a positive effect on my mental health, reducing anxiety and giving me a cheap, enjoyable way of escaping work
  • I have more self-esteem and more pride
  • I have a better diet, drink less and look after my health in ways I never used to before.

Here’s to the next 15 weeks! Who knows where I’ll be then!

I completed Freeletics Hell Week and this is what happened…

Coming back after time off to… HELL WEEK

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The view from my mat this morning

My job involves a very intense period of work over one particular month of the year (May). The whole year is geared towards that month and so it becomes all consuming. Long hours, lots of socialising, lots of mental and physical energy.

I’ve been doing Freeletics since December, and I always kind of knew that April/May would be really tricky. It’d be hard to find the energy to work out after a challenging day and when there was frequently alcohol involved at the end of it. So I took the decision to not beat myself up about that, and to give myself a break for a few weeks. Four to be precise. I did continue to practice my pull-ups during that period – finding a minute here and there to do them at the start or end of the day. So I guess in the strictest terms, I didn’t have a break. But I did take a break from Coach. Sorry Coach.

So when I returned to freeletics last week, I had one day of Week 14 still to complete. A load of burpees and 3x Metis (Standard). Suffice to say I didn’t beat my PB on any of these. I had noticeably put on weight (pretty much directly from beer and wine – I had a pretty good diet otherwise during my time away from Freeletics). I huffed and sweated my way through those exercises and gave myself a pat on the back for getting back on the horse. WELL DONE ME. And once I’d finished that final Week 14 day, I naively selected 3 days workout the following week, thinking ‘I’ll ease myself back it’. Ha. How wrong I was. I had forgotten that Week 15 is HELL WEEK.

However, once I’d finished staring open mouthed at what Coach had in store, I was kind of excited for the challenge. What better way to get back into working out after some time away than by the physical equivalent of flooding therapy. Here’s what Week 15 looks like:

Day 1: Kentauros, 2x Metis
Day 2: Hermes, 2x Morpheus
Day 3: Hades, Hermes
Day 4: Uranus, Hades
Day 5: 3x Metis, 25 Pullups, 25 Pullups, 25 Burpees, 25 Burpees
Day 6: 2x Krios, 100 Burpees, 100 Burpees
Day 7: 3x Krios, 100 Burpees, 50 Squats, 25 High Jumps, 25 High Jumps

OKAY then!

First things first, this is way more work-outs than I’ve ever done in my life, ever.

Secondly, all those pull-ups (there are pull-ups in the workouts too), are going to be hard. I can’t really done any pull-ups at all. So far, I can only do jumping pull-ups. So I’m not sure how that’s going to do.

But before we get into Hell Week (I’ve already done Day 1 and 2 at the time of writing), I want to talk about a few other things.

Alcohol

I’ve touched on this before, but I think that for me, and probably for many of you, alcohol is the most significant factor in weight loss/gain. When I look back at photos of myself during Dry January, I hadn’t really realised how much it had an effect on visible body fat around my belly. And now, after a couple of months of fairly regular beer drinking, I’ve definitely brought back the beer belly, which was the entire reason to star this whole thing in the first place.

I’ve noticed that Joe Wicks (The Body Coach) says that he only “gets boozy” twice a month, and when he does, he drinks gin and tonic. Far less fatty than beers. I’m kind of kicking myself that I drank so much over the last couple of months as I’d love to be entering Week 15 with a proper transformation photo. That will have to wait.

Protein Shakes

I’d sneered at these before. Especially after watching a BBC documentary about how protein shakes don’t really do much if you get enough protein in your food anyway. BUT, I’ve noticed that I haven’t really been getting the amount of protein I needed through my normal diet (I am for 45% carbs, 25% fat, 30% protein), so I took advantage of an offer on MyProtein.com and ordered a load of whey protein to start making shakes. They’re actually quite tasty and really sort you out after a hard work-out. I’ll let you know how I get on with them. (Oh, and this isn’t sponsored or anything).

So, anyway…

Here we are in HELL WEEK. Yesterday was a bank holiday. I was exhausted from a long weekend, but forced myself to do the two workouts in the evening, and was very glad I did afterwards.

Kentauros was as appalling as ever. I really fucking hate that workout. But I beat my PB by about 4 minutes. I was a dreadful sweaty mess at the end though. And then I did 2x Metis, which was FINE, but didn’t beat my PB because I’d already done about a million burpees and my poor body wouldn’t let me go any faster.

Then this morning I woke up early and took advantage of a bright, sunny day to go to my local basketball court. I always feel a little self-conscious working out outdoors, but it was early and there was no one around. I actually quite enjoyed it. Hermes is a dream. It’s probably one of my favourite workouts because you get those little rests. And then 2x Morpheus was harder than I thought it would be, but not too bad. I beat my PB on Hermes but not on Morpheus, a pattern I reckon will continue throughout the week.

Tonight I have a work do, but I’m not going to drink, and then I’m going to get up early again tomorrow to do Day 3.

I’m determined to do this properly (i.e. not have any gaps), but I think good sleep and the right food is crucial to me being able to do this. Keep it here, folks, and thanks for reading!

Coming back after time off to… HELL WEEK

Kronos: OUCH

15684e3b79b2e21a16997f3b62d9578eI did my first Kronos almost a week ago and I still hurt. Jeez, that work-out is surely one of the toughest of the lot.

There’s something about having to do the full number of each exercise in one go rather than it being split into reps. It really pushes you.

Here’s the breakdown of what Kronos puts you through:

100 Pushups
200 Situps
300 Squats
200 Straight Leg Lever
100 Pullups

I completed it in 01:03:48. The sense of achievement when I finished was amazing.

The thing is, it’s not too unpleasant (there are no burpees for a start!) and once you get into the swing of each exercise it’s not too bad. I found the sit-ups the easiest, followed by Pushups, Squats, Straight Leg Lever and then the pull-ups the hardest.

I didn’t do the pull-ups with correct form. I still can’t (although the daily jumping pull-ups are making them feel a little more possible at some point in the future).

What’s great about Kronos is that it works out your arms, chest, legs and abs all at the same time. And damn, I could feel it for the next couple of days. Walking down stairs after 300 squats was pretty painful.

And then yesterday, after a few days off and a swim on Saturday (which was really tough as my legs and arms were so tired!) I did the horror that is 3x Metis (Strength). Ugh. Was hard and I was a bit hungover and tired, so didn’t come close to beating my PB.

About half way through, when I knew I wasn’t going to beat my PB, I almost gave up, but there’s something that switches in my brain when I’m over 50% done – it suddenly seems so much more manageable, and I think about how I’d feel if I stopped, so I manage to power through.

All of this, combined with a load of cycling around town meant that I slept very well last night!

Meanwhile, friends I haven’t seen for a while are regularly commenting on the change in my physique. And I’m feeling stronger than I ever have.

GO FREELETICS.

 

Kronos: OUCH