Total Warrior: Clare Smith’s endurance battle week 4

(left to right)  John Booth, Gwen Hamilton, Clare Smith, and Angela Rankine.
(left to right) John Booth, Gwen Hamilton, Clare Smith, and Angela Rankine.
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Long journeys. House moves. Waiting rooms. Things that are better endured with friends. And, I’m discovering, so is exercise.

This week Kieron from Race Fitness met me with a few colleagues from the office at St Andrew’s House in Waterloo Place. The busy lunchtime reception area gave a mix of looks varying from “How come they’ve got time in the middle of the working day?” to “Wish I could join them, good on them”.

Clare Smith on her warrior training. Picture: Scott Taylor

Clare Smith on her warrior training. Picture: Scott Taylor

Normal practice for me is lunch at my desk. It has been for years. Whilst I’ve never discouraged others going to the gym or going out for runs I’ve certainly never led the charge. But changed days. The only way to fit in three weekly Warrior training sessions is to take a lunch hour and get out there. So off we trotted towards Calton Hill. Up. Up some more. In my head, Calton Hill is almost ring-fenced as a zone for camera-toting tourists.The thought of using it as an outdoor gym has never crossed my mind.

But up we go. Stopping half way we used railings to lean on as we did ‘incline press ups’, at 45 degrees to the ground rather than the usual 90.

These are “entry-level press-ups”, Kieron explains. Distracted by the resplendent view, the first ten are completed with ease. But beginners level or not, we feel the burn. We pause for a photo, welcoming the breather.

Then some more running – up hill again so “on our toes”, in my new-found running technique. We used a triangle of grass as a circuit for interval training. In pairs, one ran around the triangle whilst our partner did squats. Then a high-five to change over. This continued three times. Hearts racing. Red faces. Mouths grinning.

Down and up we go. The conversation is disappearing. Keiron takes over, explaining what we’re doing, why it’s ideal Total Warrior training, linking it to the obstacles that will be faced during the event. Undulating terrain is good to run on as it works all the bones and muscles in your feet and legs. And your core has to work harder too. Running on grass or trails puts less pressure on our joints.

Sun shining. Tourists gawping. Workers lunching.

More working in pairs. Whilst one ran to Edinburgh’s Disgrace, or the National Monument, the other was doing a “plank” – a static exercise where you use your arms to raise yourself off the floor and hold the body straight and rigid, like a plank of wood.

My running speed directly impacted on the length of time my partner had to hold the plank position. There was no point just doing a slow jog – they’ll only return the favour when you swap places. Gwen, realising I was struggling, ran like the wind – but even still I struggled to hold position. Must do more homework.

More running and we use of the City Observatory steps to do step-ups. I’m sure William Henry Playfair would be proud that his structure was bring put to community use. Then some “ab work”.

Ouch. The sort of action you know is going to hurt two days later. Although I was the slowest, it was a good way to train – you push yourself harder when you’re the one lagging behind.

Fitter, healthier, more productive. Back at work, the afternoon flew by. Boom!

Run is a walk in the park

On Saturday I joined the Park Run in Portobello. I know Cramond has hosted a well-attended race for a few years and it’s not a new concept to many, but it was new to me. And I loved it.

Organised by volunteers, there’s a real community vibe to it which breeds respect for the environment and a neighbourly supportive feel. And it’s a global idea – a movement really – which encourages those of all abilities just to get out there.

It’s a 5k “race” around Figgate Park. And again, because you’re running with others you feel more motivated. I’d overindulged the night before and had I just been running on my own, I suspect I’d have walked quite a chunk of it. But there were other people watching – so I had to step up! Even the dog walkers sharing the park at 9.30 on a Saturday morning nod and smile supportively – some even cheered me on as I panted by.

My time to beat is 32 minutes 25 seconds. My aim is to do it in less than 31 minutes this week. See you there?