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I found out in 2019 that I had secured a place for the Virgin London Marathon in 2020.
Unfortunately due to COVID the event got cancelled in April 2020 and was postponed until October 2020. The global pandemic got worse and the event got cancelled. There was no way the organisers could control people during the race to ensure social distancing.
Instead the 40th race of the Virgin London Marathon 2020 was to be done virtually. This means from anywhere in the world on the 4th October 2020.
During the summer months in Dubai, it is very difficult to train outdoors let alone train for the London Marathon. I actually thought the event would get cancelled, then I found out in September, it was ON.
To be completely honest, I knew this was going to be tough. I had gained 6kg since the Dubai Marathon in January (I wanted to gain this weight) and during lockdown I hadn't been running as much as I would have liked. Then there's the heat to factor in, just coming off the back of summer made it even harder to run with the heat and humidity.
Alarm set for 3am, I set off at 4am and managed to finish in 5hrs 40 mins. I paced myself better this time, even though the time was slower than before, but only got cramp at 28km instead of 24km previously. It was 34 degrees when I finished, as you can see nothing left of my bib number.
Throughout the run, I was thinking about the charity I was helping. Cardiomyopathy UK help people with a heart disease, so that with the right treatment they can live full and active lives.
I enjoy pushing myself out of my comfort zone to test my mental and physical strength...this did exactly that.
Last year, I was at an Adidas event. I had signed up for the 10k race and didn't think I could run a Marathon. At the event, there were people who had signed up for the Dubai Marathon and that inspired me.
I said to myself, I want to run a full Marathon next year. You might think that's an easy task for a fitness professional like myself? I'm fit, I'm in shape, with a bit of training I'll be able to do it. Well, not exactly, that's not quite how fitness works.
I have always been fit and liked running (5k &10k) even when playing football I didn't mind the running side of it...but to run for 4-5 hours, no thanks!
I've never ran a Marathon before. The furthest race was 21km (Half Marathon) and even in the training for this, I ran 25km.
I found out I have a place for London Marathon 2020 so made Dubai Marathon a personal target for me to run the full 42.195km
Here's where it gets complicated!!
My weight was 91kg, the heaviest I've ever been. Not because I was overweight but because of competing in a Men's Physique comp, I had put on muscle mass. My body fat % was still low, sub 10% and my body had developed more fast twitch muscle fibres, from high intensity workouts and my heavy strength training session. This was the opposite to the components needed for Marathon runners. They require more slow twitch muscle fibres, low muscle mass as most long distance runners are skinny and slight not big and full of muscle!
But the greater the challenge, the greater the feeling when you achieve it.
And I did it...41.195km in the heat of Dubai. The route was physically and mentally draining as it involved running in a straight line and doing two laps.
I started off strong, my HR was under 155bpm and I was under 5:30min/km pace. At 26km I got cramp in both quads. I feared this may happen due to having high muscle mass. I had to run walk run walk the last 16km which impacted my time.
The whirlwind of emotions throughout the race are indescribable. But I'm very happy to have completed it in 4 hours:35 mins.
Now my eyes are set on London, where I will be running for Cardiomyopathy. If you would like to make a difference and help this charity, check out my just giving page on my About tab. Thank you.
And remember, you can do it, if you work at it!
There are many PT's in Dubai, which means there is a lot of competition. As a Personal Trainer in the industry and a Tutor educating people to become trainers, the market is becoming more and more saturated.
I am very happy to have been shortlisted in the "Top 10 Personal Trainer of the Year" for the third year running. Not only does this show consistency but hard work to be nominated year after year.
Everyone involved in the Sport 360 Fit Awards, has made a positive impact to the fitness industry in Dubai, over the past 12 months.
There are more gyms than ever, more bootcamps, more exercises classes, more Personal Trainers which is helping make the UAE a fitter place.
Just like 2017 and 2018, there was a Case Study for the Male and Female candidates to complete. We then had to present this infront of a panel of judges. The winners would then be announced in the evening, at the Gala Dinner event.
I was hoping this year would be my year, but it wasn't to be. Congratulations to the winners.
I will continue to do my best for my clients, as a trainer and coach. I will also continue to share my knowledge, teaching for Empiric UAE to aspiring students, who wish to enter the fitness industry.
To all my current clients, thank you for your hard work and support. I enjoy training all of you and will look to take things to the next level over the next 12 months.
Tough Mudder is a fun, challenging obstacle course event, which promotes teamwork, camaraderie along with mental strength.
You also need a good level of physical fitness to complete the course. Upper body strength is important for most of the obstacles and cardiovascular fitness to run between obstacles.
I decided to set up a team for my PT clients, who then invited their work colleagues and friends. We had 22 in total.
In the weeks leading up to the event, I held a Tough Mudder Bootcamp (pictured left) to help condition and prepare the team for the event.
We decided to do the 10km Classic event. This had over 25+ obstacles which were set up on sandy, muddy and gravel terrain.
To give you an insight into the Obstacles we faced. Check our my Instagram page @nicky__fitness and click TM on the Highlights on my main page. There were walls to climb, tunnels to crawl, ice baths to jump in, ropes to swing, monkey bars to climb, half pipes to run.
As you can see by the after photo on the JEEP (pictured right) we all got a little muddy but were all still smiling!
Get in touch with me for more information.
I have recently been appointed a Tough Mudder Ambassador and very grateful for the opportunity.
The next event will be in 2020. I will post on my instagram as soon as I know, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, focus your training on cardiovascular intervals, upper body strength work and endurance. These are the main components used in this event.
Technique based exercises like crawling, hanging, climbing etc can be taught nearer the time.
Have you ever said you are going to do something but not stuck at it or seen it through? Maybe you planned to give up smoking, bought an e-cigarette but you saw an old friend who offered you a real cigarette and now you’re back smoking again.
Maybe you said you weren't going to drink for 2 weeks but ended up giving in because you went out with your mates and they were all drinking so you joined in. Those are real life examples where we might give up.
Now that you have an idea where I’m going with this, I’m going to relate the ‘why do we give up?’ question to fitness. Your health is really important, especially as you get older, when bones and muscles get weaker. All people have an idea what they want, which we can all a fitness goal.
However, many clients I have trained are guilty to the following:
These are also some of the reasons why we give up.
I was chatting with my client Basel. He was telling me about his friend at work, who just can’t seem to get motivated. The want to get fit and lose weight but are struggling making that first move to getting started. Sound familiar?
I believe a lot of this comes down to mental strength but also priorities. For example, you want to get a new pair of shoes but you can’t afford them at the moment, so what do you do? You figure out a way to raise the money to buy the shoes. This might not happen overnight and might take a few weeks, you may have to work extra hours to get extra money and make certain sacrifices.
Ultimately, you must stick to working the extra hours, even when it’s tough, because you know you are working towards a goal, which is also a reward.
Exercise is the same and requires the same principles, just in a different context. Let’s say you want to lose weight. The two variables you need to change is Nutrition and Exercise. You have to make certain sacrifices to create a calorie deficit, by eating less calories on a daily basis. That might mean you make healthier choices or skip starters when you eat out. Along with this, you also need to exercise which helps burn calories. Resistance training more so than cardio, which helps with your metabolic response. But again, this won’t happen overnight, but you have to prioritise and make sacrifices to do this.
Those of you who don't know what the Spartan Race is, listen up. It's an Obstacle course race which not only challenges you mentally but physically as well.
There are three disciplines
If you manage to complete the Sprint, Super and Beast, you gain a Trifecta. The finishing medal for each discipline, also has an emblem, which joins together to make the Trifecta medal which means you are a true Spartan.
The course took place in the desert in Mleiha, Sharjah. It was very challenging as it was on sand with some rocky terrain. This made it very difficult to run and also made us exert lots of energy. With that said, we needed a strategy.
We decided to run the flat ground, walk up the hills and run down them. If the sand would let us!
Here is a location map of the route and also a list of the 36 obstacles, scattered across the 21km course.
There were times where mental strength was really tested. People tried to give up and the key for us was that we kept moving.
We started at 8.30am in the morning and completed the 21km distance after lunch time, where the sun was beating down on us in the desert. Our time recorded just over 5 hours.
We didn't train for it (which sounds big headed) and got covered in cuts and bruises, but it was one of those spontaneous decisions to take part. The feeling of completion afterwards, jumping over the fire, getting our Finishers t-shirt and medal made it all worth it (...and we have the scars to prove it)
Challenging yourself is good. It avoids plateau and also tests your ability, both mentally and physically. Are you challenging yourself with your fitness and training?
Follow @nicky__fitness on instagram for the next race and updates. We will be looking to enter as a group. If you're in Dubai, you're more than welcome to join us!
Fitness is a lifestyle for me. I like to look good and more importantly I like to feel good. I'm finally getting back to normal after Christmas and New Year. Then getting a cold and not training for over a week, which wasn't the best start to 2019.
What's the secret?
There isn't one. Dry January is going on, I haven't drunk alcohol or eaten any chocolate this year. I've been good with my Nutrition, I've put the hours in training hard in the gym and at football. If anything, I 've been trying to get more sleep and drink more water.
Simple but effective.
"Get the basics right and you will get results"
In society, we are surrounded by people who speak about certain things - fitness and non fitness related. There are people who promote different products, clothing, supplements and equipment. People who suggest we start eating healthy and train more. People who put filters on mostly everything and can't perform basic exercises or do what they are telling you to do! Unfortunately, these people do not "Practice what they preach" which makes us question if they are real or not.
It was a great feeling to be nominated for the second year in a row, to make the Top 10 "Personal Trainer of the Year"
Dubai has many Personal Trainers so to get noticed for doing good work is rewarding.
In 2017, I was shortlisted and after the presentation, the judges made the decision of the Top 2 where I finished with Silver place. This year, I wanted the Gold.
Sport 360 and REPS UAE, have been running the Fit Awards for a few years now. The aim is to promote, recognise and reward Fitness Industry professionals on their hard work.
The black tie event, is a Gala Dinner where each person dresses up smart with the hope to take hope the award for their category. This year, there were 21 categories.
Despite delivering the Case Study well and presenting it to 10 judges, I didn't with the award this year.
When I look back, I am grateful to have been nominated and I have definitely improved as a person and a trainer compared to last year, which to me is a success.
Next year, I want the Gold.
As the Holy month comes upon us, we should use the time to reflect and be grateful for what we have.
We should treasure our time with family and friends. We should embrace change and growth. We should learn from the past and focus on putting things right for the future. We should try to be as fit and as healthy as we can by taking care of our body and mind through eating well and exercising.
Many people will lose weight during fasting. This is mainly due to the body being starved for long periods of time. Eating and sleeping patterns are changed and this affects our digestive system as our body tries to adapt.
For example, from our normal routine where a typical working day might look like this....
7.00am - Wake up
7.30am - Breakfast
9.00am - Start work
10.30am - Mid morning snack
12.00pm - Lunch time
2.30pm - Mid afternoon snack
5.00pm - Finish work
6.00pm - Dinner
8.00pm - Evening snack
9.30pm - Bed time. Sleep until 7.00am
During Ramadan it looks like this...
3.00am Wake Up
3.30am - Breakfast
4.00am - Back to sleep
5.00am approx - SUNRISE = SUHOOR (FASTING NOW BEGINS)
6.30am - Wake Up again
8.00am - Start work
2.00pm - Finish work
6.30pm approx - SUNSET = IFTAR (BREAK THE FAST)
This new daily routine causes the body to become hungry, as it is not regularly getting in the nutrients, vitamins and minerals regularly as it would do normally. At Iftar, when you break your fast, your body will store foods more than before. Why does it do this? This is simply a survival mechanism where the body doesn't know when it will get food again. So, it holds on and stores the food consumed. The foods during Ramadan tend to be high in Carbohydrates meaning Glycogen stores will rise. They are also high in Fats meaning Lipase stores will rise. If there is no exercise to counter act this consumption then you will be in a Calorie Surplus and therefore increase in weight.
During Ramadan, you will not drink either so your body will become dehydrated. This causes the body to be tired and low on energy. If you exercise, it should be of a low intensity, not to burn too many calories as your glycogen stores are already depleted, therefore your body will take energy from the muscles. The best time to do this would be after work and before Sunset. You can then use Iftar to refeed and refuel, post exercise.
Remember, if you eat more calories and your body is in a Calorie Surplus - you will gain weight. If you eat less calories and exercise, your body can be in a Calorie Deficit - you will lose weight. Unfortunately, we can't tell the body what to burn. For example, burn fat please!! We can also not tell the body where to burn, or which area of the body (most people want to lose or burn around the stomach)
Therefore, from experience with working with many clients during Ramadan, it is best to maintain fitness and strength. You should not try to lose weight or gain weight during the next 29-30 days. Post Ramadan and before EID is the time where you can pick back up your training and increase the intensity to what it was before.
Some clients, have lost a lot of weight during Ramadan and they are happy. However, when we have tested, the weight is usually water retention and muscle mass. How? Well, the main source of Energy comes from the Macronutrient Carbohydrates. If Carbohydrate stores are low, the body will take from other sources...our Fat stores and Protein stores. Based on the intensity of our exercise and the amount of Fat stores we have, will determine how much we use. But by doing this we run the risk of using our Protein stores, which are the muscles. As a result, we lose muscle mass.
Remember, our body still needs food and calories as fuel for daily activities, like walking and moving. Our BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) may still be 2500kcals so we need to consume that alone to maintain.
If you don't lose weight during Ramadan, you are likely to gain weight. Very few people will stay the same (with the same muscle mass and body fat %)
How do you gain? This is down overindulging at meal times. Due to fasting and going low hours without food, people will eat more than they would normally when they break their fast at Iftar. This can be compared to as breakfast. Then the bigger meal, should follow after which is Suhoor. This is the opportunity to eat enough so that you have the energy for the day ahead.
How to train?
Exercise should be of a lower intensity than normal. Blasting out HIIT Cardio or lifting heavy weight for that 1 Rep Max PB can cause you to lose gains rather than increase gains. This means you will lose strength as the body is depleted.
'Train to Maintain...not Lose or Gain'
We have put together this Online Coaching platform for you to follow during Ramadan, to ensure you stay on track with your fitness and health goals even when fasting.
The aim should be to maintain during this time. For more information, send us an email or check out our Online Coaching for Ramadan below.
Get the balance between Energy Expenditure and Energy Consumed. Try to avoid foods high in Sugar, Fats and Carbohydrates. These will give you a rush of energy but will also give you a come down.
For Nutrition and Exercise tips, get in touch today (see details below)
Keep an eye out for the next article which will focus on what foods are good and what foods to avoid during Ramadan.
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Instagram - @nicky__fitness
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