Tag Archives: Commando Active

I am a machine….apparently!

So a morning’s training session with Jon, Mr Commando Active.  My 3rd session with him since I starte up training again in the last month, and I’m sure during the first one he said something along the lines of relatively easy sessions to ease back into it all as I approach Christmas….I’m not sure that today’s session was ‘relatively easy’…it certainly didn’t feel like it had been easy by the end.

My training sessions with Jon always begin quite relaxed, consisting of some limbering up, loosening up exercises (although he does insist on sneaking press-ups into the mix every week!).  Today after warm up I had to do five sets of pull ups interspersed with five sets of overhead weighted squats.  Now that might all sound pretty easy to anyone reading this, but pull ups have never ever in all my years of training come easily to me.  One pull up is normally my limit and then my arms are dead and I can never get the second one.  Well, Jon has a sly way of making me do at least 5.  I balance on a thick elastic band that gives me some sort of purchase, resistance to help me get into the momentum of the pull up.  On the first two I can just about get my head above the bar right up above me, and it takes quite a lot of gritting teeth and puffing to do it a further 3 times.  On sets 4 and 5 I did actually manage to hit 10 reps, but I think that Jon’s goading has something to do with that, especially as he knows how competitive I can be.  The overhead sqats are another matter, holding a 15kg weight I had to squat low holding the weight in front of my chest then push up to standing and raise the weight high up over my head – bleurgh.  15 times in each set…a couple of minutes rest and then back to the pull ups!  This is all meant to be making my upper body as strong as my legs – but my arms have always been weak and it never feels like they will improve – I certainly can never envisage doing a pull up more than once without an elastic band bouncing me up! But to be fair I did once say that about press ups, which I can now do several in a row without collapsing in a heap – I just protest loudly everytime I am made to do them.

That all seemed relatively easy when faced with Jon’s next activity for me.  The club where I train with Jon has in its vast facilities very long thick ropes.  Jon attached one of these at one end to a fairly heavy metal sledge like piece of equipment. I had to sit at the other end and pull the sled towards me, as fast as possible, then immediately push it back down to where I had pulled it from…from that I had to go to the next piece of rope which was looped round a pillar so that was holding both ends, which I had to bounce the ends to make big ripples down the lengths of the rope – sounds easy, well I assure you it isn’t, especially when your arms are beginning to feel tired.  I had to do this with alternate arms for 10 on each arm, and then 20 times with both arms together, with Jon demanding really big ripples when using both arms together.  After this I had to go straight to a table that is about 3ft high, and stand up onto it leading with the right leg for 10, and stepping down with the right leg….and repeat on the left leg for 10. And then breathe….  gasp for breath, gulp down water, mutter something derogatory to Jon about not planning on taking thick heavy ropes with me to the desert, or pulling a sledge in the sand (let alone round the London Marathon!) I had to do this not once, not twice or three times, but five times. However, the 4th & 5th times I had to do back to back without pausing for breath! And, very sneakily, when pushing the now extra weighted sled back to where I had pulled it from I suddenly felt it get tougher to push – this would be because as it was still trailing the long thick rope Jon thought it a good idea to hold onto it and add himself as extra resistance!!!  He’s kind and thoughtfu like that.

All in all it certainly didn’t feel like a relatively “easy” session.  But, I have to say that with the Atacama Crossing once again almost 10 months away, I sort of feel like I’m vaguely back on track or at least heading in the right direction, even if I’m not planning on lugging a sledge across the desert!  What felt good, was when another trainer smiled and said to me “you’re a machine”…I assume in fitness terms this is something akin to a compliment – Jon assures me that it is  🙂

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Running freely…

Having not been for a proper run for over 9 weeks, the first run starts to look like the biggest of hurdles.  Signing up to run the London Marathon looks tougher from where I am sitting than it did when I ran my first marathon in 2004.  Still, I saw my ‘desert’ trainer, Jon, last week for the first time… explaining to him my lack of motivation, my lack of running fitness and my constant feeling of sometimes overwhelming tiredness.  He gave me the best running advice I have ever had.  To not even think about properly training for the marathon (or desert) yet, but to simply start enjoying running again, to ditch the stopwatch/GPS/sportswatch and not worry about how far or how fast I am running as (hopefully) that will all come.

I have to confess that all intentions to then go for a run at the weekend went out the window, partly because I was jetlagged from night shifts, but also because my glutinous maximus muscles (my butt muscles) were really rather stiff from the “light” workout Jon put me through.

So today dawns – and hmmm, it is pouring with rain and wind.  Not really conducive to seducing me out for a run. But, at 2.45pm the rain stopped and I finally put on my sad looking trainers and stepped out.  I ran along Regent’s Canal and through Victoria Park, a minor pause as I lost my bearings in the park.  It is strange, as I haven’t run without my watch for about 10 years.  I’m used to avidly working out how fast I’ve run a mile, working out how long various distances are going to take me, monitoring my heart rate, monitoring my average pace.  It is quite surreal to leave the trappings of time behind and just run to be again, and it is also quite enjoyable, even if i did feel I was rather heavily plodding at one point. 50 minutes later I almost bounced up my steps feeling a bit lighter of heart and breathing easier, if a little stiff around the out of practice joints! Not sure exactly how far I have run… but you know what, who cares, I was out running, freely and that is all that matters…. 26 miles will be nothing! (personal snort of derision!!)

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Running sadly doesn’t always make it better…

Yes, I know, I know – I haven’t blogged for ages and you must wonder if I am still alive or even still running.

The answer is folks I am well and truly alive, and still trying to run as much as possible, but very sadly I have now withdrawn myself from running the Atacama Crossing in October of this year.  Earlier this year, my darling Daddy was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer.  As many people out there know, cancer is the gift that just keeps on giving and shortly afterwards it was discovered that he already has secondary cancer in his pelvic bone.  Since full diagnosis my daddy has put up a brave face and been through two different bouts of radiotherapy to help slow down the growth of the tumours and relieve his pain symptoms.  He has gone down the slippery slope quite quickly and every day is now precious.  So actually taking the decision to stay in the UK and not head out half way across the world to Chile has been relatively straightforward to make.  I couldn’t quite envisage perhaps on Day 3 in the desert coming to a halt and wondering why I was there.  I am still running but somehow running doesn’t make cancer seem better at the end of the run – I’ve always felt a run improves any problem or dilemma I have, whether it is financial, emotional, career based, solving an argument in my head, but for some strange reason it just doesn’t work quite the same way with cancer!! Strange.  My motivation is a little strained at times.

I have to drop in hear, for those that may be interested…and I hasten to add that I am still in negotiations with the 4 Deserts organisation (they hold the Atacama Crossing), about refunding some of my race fees.  Unfortuntately my father’s prognosis and his obvious deterioration did not really occur 120 days before the start of the race and according to the rules this means that I am not entitled to any of the £2,500 + fees as a refund! Yup, I could be very sarcastic here and say something along the lines of my dad’s cancer should all have happened quicker for me then I could have got something back. But it obviously isn’t about the money and at the end of the day that it is all it is – and if anyone knows me, I am quite used to not really having any anyways! The 4 Deserts have tentatively suggested that they ‘might’ be able to transfer my race fees to a race next year or the year after, but not all of it!  That would mean paying additional race fees on top for me – so I am sure you can imagine that if you were asking about how good the 4 Deserts are – at the moment, I’d say I’m not impressed.  There are lots of other charges on top of the race fees for their races as well which I have to say the MDS do not have and they are a polished and well run race. Still, as I said, I am still in negotiations and may be I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Out running this morning in the rain that now seems to slyly have vanished into sunshine now that I have gotten home, I did feel somewhat refreshed – but it is the heavy heart that is sluggish to run with.

I have a race down in Dorset in two weeks – the Purbeck Marathon – which I am hoping I can switch to their 16 mile challenge…not least because I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of my young man as I stumble last over the line.

I’m strong definitely – my training with Luke at the Third Space has been tough, and I have also been training with Jon Stratford of Commando Active at the Albany Club. He trained me for the desert race back in 2012 – and lets say he’s got tougher.  And I have to blow my own trumpet here – Gary, my fella, came to watch my training session with Jon last week – I think the words  “a little intimidated” were muttered!

I’m sad to have dropped out of Chile as my training was going well; I even trained at my friend Tim’s wedding (sorry – Boot Camp Wedding) on the Island of Fjardlang in Sweden (see picture of scenery), but you know what, there’s always another desert, but we all only have one Daddy.



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