Why should you do Pilates?

Pilates was created by a man called Joseph Pilates back in the 20th century.   He claimed that in 10 sessions you would feel the difference, in 20 sessions you would see the difference and in 30 you would have a whole new body.  Now that’s quite a claim!  I came to Pilates in 2000 having attended my first class and was completely won over in the first hour because of the way it made me feel at the end of it.  I subsequently qualified and have been teaching it ever since.

I am currently offering Pilates classes in East Runton, and Cromer to which you can find details at www.triharman.com  with exact times and days.

Many top athletes and dancers use Pilates to assist with their training.  For example, Darcey Bussell a well known and loved ballerina and now Pilates instructor uses this method to maintain her health and mobility.  In an interview in the Evening Standard nearly three years ago she said:I truly believe Pilates is such a good thing, especially if you have had children”.

Pilates isn’t like other classes such as circuit training, weight machines or the gym as these types of exercise aim to increase bulk of the strongest muscles (the superficial muscles on the outside) , shortening and tightening them in the process.  Pilates achieves the opposite, concentrating on the deepest core muscles, (the abdominals) lengthening and elongating them giving the appearance of longer and slimmer muscles.  Consider the core muscles like the base of a pyramid, the wider the base or foundations the stronger at the peak the pyramid can be. This is the same with the body, the stronger the core muscles are the more support they provide for movement, stability and flexibility.

We all feel we have to go hard and fast to achieve the best results, to the point of exhaustion, experiencing muscle soreness and aches.  This soreness is caused by a build-up of lactic acid, little stretching and even tearing of the muscle fibres.   With Pilates the aim is not in the quantity of exercises but in the quality and therefore exercises are performed with very few repetitions, with precision and effectively.  In Pilates you should never feel pain. As I said before, excessive high intensity exercise causes muscles to tighten and shorten pulling bones and joints out of alignment and this is usually when you start to experience pain and a changed lack of movement.  Pilates will help you be aware of any weaknesses and postural problems and help you correct them.  Once you have learnt to stretch and lengthen the muscles posture will be improved bringing better alignment and balance to your body.

Pilates can help with spinal problems, neck and shoulder tension, promote core stability.  Having strong abdominal muscles will support your lumbar spine and will help you to maintain good posture and will hold the internal organs in the correct position.  Consider your core muscles.

Many of us will suffer from a back problem from time to time and is one of the biggest causes of lost working hours in the Western World.  Our current lifestyles, sitting at desks, driving long hours, are overweight etc. make you very vulnerable to chronic back pain.  Understanding the causes of back pain, when postural  alignment is consistently wrong puts more and more strain on the spinal joints resulting with  weakened muscles and poor posture.  Core stability is key to the body working correctly so it is crucial that we work the abdominals, pelvis, glutes and hamstrings to help us protect ourselves from this back pain.

Pilates is an all over body workout, it does not concentrate on one particular area but all your joints and muscles as a whole.  After all, in every day activity you use different muscles for different movements.  If the core muscles are strong and supportive, the superficial muscles will have a greater range of movement.  A good Pilates Instructor will work from top to bottom and from side to side including all the major joints of the body with gentle exercises and low repetitions.  The exercises will flow, be precise and aim to strengthen and lengthen the muscles.  All and everyone can benefit from doing Pilates even those with serious disabilities or mobility problems.

As athletes we often get carried away with always working very hard to achieve great results but will neglect that the body needs to be stretched and needs ample time to recover and repair itself.  Spending a minimum of 15 minutes stretching after exercising you will reap the benefits.  Doing at least an hour of Pilates a week the results will be tenfold.

Consider doing Pilates for life, getting into the habit of doing Pilates and always thinking of correcting your posture without putting undue stress on your joints.  Doing Pilates regularly will improve your everyday life it’s just a matter of dedicating an hour or more a week to it.  You will see and feel the benefits within weeks as Joseph Pilates said, “In 30 weeks you will have a whole new body”.

Teresa Harman

Club Ride to Nelsons Café at Wells Next the Sea – Leader Geoff Poulter 17 October 2015

Club Ride to Nelsons Café at Wells Next the Sea – Leader Geoff Poulter 17 October 2015

A bitter cold start to the club run suggested that General Winter is on the march and that summer will soon be a distant memory. This club ride is a North Norfolk classic and the four rider who came out intended to enjoy the day. We rode the back lanes to Briston and then round the Beck to go along the long road to Kettlestone where we crossed the main A148 for the Snorings. Here, Harvey took us on a detour to the Barshams which eventually lead us to the gates of Holkum Hall. It is always the highlight of any club run in this area to ride down to Holkum Hall and then out on to the Wells road.

At the café disappointment for some as the soup of the day was for carnivores’ and not herbivores’.

Putting this aside we had an enjoyable break and then it was back on our bikes for the journey home. We rode home down to Binham and then up to Bale. Unfortunately the sky was by now becoming black with rain on the coast which was threating to come inland. JH punctured and shortly afterwards the rain fell upon the riders as we neared Sheringham

GP punctured a few miles from home but was able to get enough air in the tyre to keep going.

A sort of enjoyable day – a bit like the curates egg – good in places.


2 puncture, 60 miles, Weather: Bitter wind – rain – and a tiny bit of blue

Club Ride to The Kings Head at Blakeney

Club Ride to The Kings Head at Blakeney – Leader Kevin Hornshaw 14 October 2015

This club ride could either have been could have been called “The Tour of the Hills of Norfolk “or even “The Tour of the Fords of Norfolk”. Perhaps, even better “Tour of The Hills and Fords of Norfolk”. Whichever title given would not have done justice to the cocktail of roads, fords and hills Kevin served up for the five riders who joined him at Pretty Corner. Yes, we are still stuck on six riders from the start.

Starting out the ride appeared innocuous enough but it soon became apparent that this would be a hilly day. We rode towards Briston and then turned down “gut wrench hill” to the gravel bottom and then onwards over many hills until unfortunately our leader punctured on a remote country lane.

Quite remarkably, this quite road became a hub of activity as soon as we stopped with tractors and cars coming from all directions. Once the tyre was fixed it was up the hill and then down to the pub where we met Trevor N riding out to meet us.

Good food and a warm welcome from the Kings Head which of course are standard.

After lunch a committee decision was taken to continue with Kevin’s planned route which encompassed a long drag up to Leatheringsett and a couple more fords for good measure plus a few more hill for good measure.

This was surely a five star club ride encompassing so much of the North Norfolk countryside and despite the cooling weather made for a great day out.

Many thanks Kevin.

2 puncture, 47 miles, Weather: A real mixed bag.

Club Ride to The Parson Woodford at Weston Longville – Leader Mike Padfield 10 October

Club Ride to The Parson Woodford at Weston Longville  – Leader Mike Padfield 10 October

Some club rides leave little or nothing to report on as they are standard club runs with little or no memorable events. Mike’s ride to The Parson Woodford did not fall into this category. With four riders arriving early at Pretty Corner GP elected to leave early for Banningham therefore giving the “pack” something to chase. And chase they did catching him just about to cross the main Norwich road. At Banningham TN joined us so we now numbered five. Mike then took us from Banningham around to the back of Blickering and then down to Heydon where we rode through the Heydon Estate and in doing so had to move a herd of cows that were blocking our path. The cows did not seem to like this intrusion on their patch.

Onwards then to Reepham and Mike lead us down some walk ways which I doubt even the locals are aware of. We then moved on towards Weston Longville and became increasingly aware of black clouds forming all around us. About five miles out the heavens opened and a deluge hit the riders. We tried to find cover under a tree but the rain was so heavy that it provided no relief. Soaking wet and now cold we decided to ride on the next couple of miles to the pub.

Now I had mixed feeling about the pub but when we arrived they could not have been more accommodating. We were given seats next to a roaring fire and told not to concern ourselves with the puddles of water we were leaving be hide us. The food was fantastic – real chips – superb soup – brilliant burgers and a tea pot of Mad Hatters proportion.

Spirits now raised and semi dry we thanked the pub for their hospitality and set of for home.

It was on the homeward stretch that GP and TN encountered a moron motorist which would make a Neanderthel appear intelligent. The driver of this 4*4 drove at speed, with no regard for other road users, into part of the road which was heavily flooded thus soaking both riders. GP lost vision for some 10 – 15 seconds and only luck prevented him from having what could have been a serious accident. Now soaking wet again our only option was to ride as fast as possible home before rigor mortis set in…..

When we arrived at Cawston once again our luck changed and to our amazement the roads were dry and the sun was out warming us yet again. In all, a superb ride despite the atrocious conditions for part of it.

So, well done Mike – Well done  Parson Woodford – look forward to this ride again.

0 puncture, 58 miles, Weather: A real mixed bag. Curses on Moron Motorist too many to number.

And Happy Birthday John H !

Planning Your Sporting Year

A Way Out of the Slump – Planning Your Sporting Year

Cycling, Running and Triathlon are essentially seasonal sports, they need to be as endurance training and racing is hard on your body, but it is generally due to the short days and poor weather limiting available events. As the season closes you will need a rest to allow your muscles and joints to repair, but it is easy to lose motivation as your mind and body take the opportunity to recover. This is not helped by the dark cold days and adverse weather which also reduces enthusiasm to train. For some a few weeks pass then normal service is resumed, unfortunately for many it is not quite so easy.

If you find yourself in this slump, you may feel tired but it is actually a mental state and it is your mind not your body which needs to recover. The best way to turn this around is to take your mind forward to those long sunny days of the event season and plan your next races or challenges. Once your mind starts to focus on the events ahead, you will have a reason to train, your mind will connect with the good feelings your sport brings and your desire to train will return.

With this in mind, now as the season comes to a close, is the ideal time to start thinking about next year.

What to Consider?

There are so many races and challenges out there, every event is different, some short, some long (some very long), some hot, some cold, some flat, some hilly, pool based, open water, home or abroad. Generally these events are open to you just by submitting an entry form, but some require qualification or very early entry to get your place so this must be considered in your plan.

You must first review your sporting background, along with the results of this years training and events. Consider your strengths and weaknesses, for example if as a triathlete swimming is a challenge you may prefer to stay away from long sea swims until your skills and confidence improves. If you are not particularly fast but have good endurance, consider races with long tough courses so you can gain time on the other racers in the tough sections. What do you enjoy? If you like short fast events seek them out, if you fancy the challenge of longer distance and even ultra events you can consider those.

How much training have you done this year? This will give you an indication of the time you will have next year, consider family and work commitments, a new baby or more stressful work will not fit well with a decision to train for a long distance event. What do you want from the sport, are you able to compete for wins and places or just to complete the event to the best of your ability? What are your longer term ambitions? It may be to keep fit, complete a 24hr time trial, race in Ironman, race for GB or just tour the world riding, running and racing in exotic places. If you have high ambitions you may need a two or three year plan to get yourself to the level you need to be at. Racing can be expensive, the cost of events is steadily increasing, ensure you add the travel and accommodation to get the true cost. Finance may well be a limiting factor, do you decide to compete in one major event or a number of local events for the same cost? Staying injury free is key to improvement, you may have the time and finance to race every weekend, but will your body take the strain, will you be nursing injuries through each event never achieving your potential. You may have a holiday planned or friends and family in other parts of the UK, or even other countries. Consider combining your sport with a trip, it gets you to events in other interesting places and even the most jaded sporting widow/widower will be enthused by a week on the beach in return for a few hours standing at the roadside watching you race.

What races are out there?

There are many ways to find out what events are available to you. These days without internet access you are unlikely to find many races, but as you are reading this you should be ok. Speak to other athletes within and outside your club, see where they raced and what they liked and disliked about the events. Read the specialist magazines which contain race reports and race calendars, as do many specialist websites. Your sports governing body will generally publish an event calendar and/or publish a members handbook setting out the available events. It may not have next years races listed so early but look at the equivalent period this year to see what races are likely to run next. It should also have links to the clubs and major events stand alone websites where more information can be found.

Keep it real

As you look through the mass of event opportunities it is easy to get carried away with the thought of finishing a really cool event. Many events are promoted for first time or novice racers, even major televised events are accessible to first timers. Some are not really suitable. This does not mean you couldn’t finish a very long distance race having never done anything similar before, but you won’t race to your potential or enjoy the experience as you should. Don’t get carried away by the success of your friends and club mates, most will admit they were a bit naive on their first races and suffered as a result. If that race is local and an hour or two long no harm done, its part of the process, if it’s hundreds of pounds and many hours of pain and suffering it’s less clever. Even if you have the fitness and experience to race over the very long distances, only consider including ‘one’ of these races in your plan for each year. A pro or semi pro may be able to do more, but if you need to read this advice you can’t. Be realistic about your goals but challenge yourself.

What’s an ‘A’ race

When you have decided on the events you really want to do these are your ‘A’ races. They may be your qualification event, your Ironman, your National event, your club championships or a target for a personal best. They are the races which are really important to you, where you want to go fast and enjoy the experience. Where possible they should be spread evenly through your season, four weeks or more between each so you can properly recover and phase your training to maximise your performance. You may only have one ‘A’ race in a season so all your training and other races will be intended to maximise your performance that day. Once you have set these dates there may be other events you want to do with friends, as part of the club, or as specific preparation for your ‘A’ events. Fit these around your ‘A’ events but be aware you may not be able to perform to your maximum if you are recovering or training hard for your most important event. These events should really be considered as part of your training, if you do well it’s just a bonus.

Now you have decided

Once your season is planned out you need to make sure you submit your entries in good time. Check web sites regularly for information about when entries will be accepted, if funds are limited focus on your ‘A’ races and take a risk with delaying the others. Tell your husband/wife or partner about your plans so holidays, late parties, family celebrations and other domestic arrangements can avoid your key events. You may also need to book leave from work if you work weekends or your event involves travel. Book any accommodation you need in good time, the longer you leave it the more expensive and further from the start it will be. With all these things in place and all the money spent you will also have a great incentive to train through the cold winter months.

With your season planned so carefully and well in advance you can concentrate on staying fit, healthy and injury free. To help this you build your training plan around your race calendar but that’s a whole new subject……………

Mark Harman – NNW Coach