Blog

If You Can’t Sit Less, Sit Differently

In the UK, adults of working age sit down for an average of 9.5 hours each day. As we get older, this increases (source). We’ve all heard how sitting down is terribly bad for us, but what can we really do about that? Most of us are employed in ways that involve being sedentary and wouldn’t be willing or able to quit our jobs just so we can sit less. Read more…

If You Have To, Which Protein Bar?

"Wake up, Homer! Those bars are just junk! They're made out of apple cores and Chinese newspapers!"
“Wake up, Homer! Those bars are just junk! They’re made out of apple cores and Chinese newspapers!”

Recently I have been experimenting with what I eat. As is my way, I have really gone to town on it and have been tracking my calories, protein, fat, carbs etc.. I’ve been enjoying the way that feels and what it’s taught me about food and my body but I want to say right at the start of this post that tracking and getting weird about food like this is absolutely not necessary.

To pay my bills and fund my impulse purchases (most recently, this), I do support work at a university. I only work term-time and this week is my first week back. This is the first year where I have been paying this much attention to what I eat, so before going back I wanted to get a plan together for how I was going to continue to meet my calorie, protein, fat etc. targets while not spending loads of money and with minimal faff. Read more…

From a Mile to an Ultramarathon on Bristol Footpaths

A lush old track in Dyrham

After I wrote the post about running, a few people said they like the idea of using routes that are less urban, so I thought I’d share this spreadsheet that I made. Read more…

Lessons Learned About Training From My Time in Skyrim

Lovely except for the mud crabs

I can tell that I’m overdoing it and getting my “work / life balance” wrong when I start to crave escapism. I usually end up looking at really isolated Photo Spheres on Google Earth, checking the release date for The Book of Dust (again), and playing Playstation. Read more…

In Praise of Not Specialising (and Lara Croft)

Warming up for a Strength Circuit

Specificity

One of the first things you are taught as a coach is the principle of specificity. This is usually summed up as “Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand” (the SAID principle), meaning that the body adapts to the specific demands placed upon it.

The researcher Chris Beardsley published a nice series of articles recently about this that are worth reading, if you find this interesting. In one of them, he lists how strength can be specific to:

  • the type of load being used
  • the direction the force is being applied against the load
  • how quickly the force is being applied
  • how many reps are being done
  • the range of motion used
  • the muscle group being tested
  • the type of contraction the muscle is doing (concentric or eccentric)
  • the stability of the surface being tested on

This is because of adaptations to bones, connective tissue and musculature as well as to the way the brain interacts with the muscles. You might hear this all summarised in the phrase “strength is a skill”. In order to get better at doing something, you’ve got to practice it. Read more…

Forest Bathing in the City

Leigh Woods isn't a forest but it's still pretty nice

This Spring there was a flurry of articles getting excited about shinrin-yoku, the Japanese practice of “forest bathing” – relaxing in woodland.

The concept of forest bathing and other nature therapies is that we enter the environment in a stressed state (due to urban life and technology), experience the restorative effects of nature, and that this has some sort of preventive medical effect. Read more…

Making Running Alright

This spring I got bored of training. When I first started going to the gym, I’d decided on some particular bodyweight-related amounts that I wanted to be able to deadlift, squat and bench press. Reaching those milestones felt fantastic and I’d assumed that I’d then just try to maintain that level of strength for the rest of my life and that would be that. The problem is that even maintenance of strength takes quite a bit of time, and I noticed myself feeling less interested in doing this because it all felt a bit vague and incomprehensible. I had a sort of existential crisis of, “oh, well this is it now FOREVER”. I know that resistance training is good for me and worth making a life-long habit of but I wasn’t finding it very exciting anymore. Read more…

Movement Forum 2: Glutes

Glutes

What we were stretching and why

The gluteals are a collection of synergistic muscles that are mainly concerned with external rotation, (turning your feet out) extension (bringing your straight leg back) and adduction (bringing your leg out to the side). This collection of muscles are large, with the gluteus maximus being the largest muscle in the body, and are capable of producing incredible amounts of force, if working correctly.

Read more…

Movement Forum 1: Hip Flexors

Hip flexors

What we were stretching

We were focusing on the hip flexors. To identify these, you can stand with your heels and back against a wall and then bring one knee up so your hip is at 90 degrees. The hip flexors pull the leg up into this position. Hold the knee up in that position until you feel tiredness in these muscles. Read more…