When Hurdles Destroy Your Plans – My Mongolia Adventure

Someday everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason. 

The first stage of planning to do something big makes everything seem so clear and simple. You write your training plan; you stick it on the wall; you make a mental agreement to spend your free time training; to give up on your social life and sacrifice those things that will get in the way. It’s almost halcyon. But planning is very different to doing. There are no hurdles when planning; life doesn’t get in the way of boundless optimism until you actually start doing.

My first hurdle happened two months into my biggest adventure; two months of diligently and excitedly sticking to my my plans. Two months where I hadn’t even thought about the possibility that something would get in my way. But that wasn’t to last. My first challenge appeared in the form of a twisted ankle.

My optimism was gone. My plan now useless. What can I do? How can I train and run with twisted ankle? I hit a massive low point the day after; looking back, it was essential. I’ve realised that it’s ok to feel bad, sorry, miserable, desperate… These moments help you grow, mentally and physically. 

You need to hit super-lows first to get those heaven-higs. Life is about symbiosis. 

On the second day, I picked myself up. I sat down and re-wrote my training plan. My upper body was still ‘able’ so I decided to focus on improving the strength there. I re-befriended my CycleOps turbo trainer and road bike. With the help of my PT friends and Carly Rowena’s videos (they’re really good) I’ve put together 3-4 training sessions (see exampled below), each targeted on the different group of muscles. 

To my surprise, I started to enjoy exercising indoors and hitting those gym-bunny highs. It wasn’t the same as running but it was something new. Something new I’ve learned.

Never stop. 

ASSESS > ADAPT > FOCUS > BELIEVE and don’t put yourself down too much!

Core Session (example)

// V-ups no weight – 15 reps
// V-ups with weight (2.5kg) – 15 reps

// Weighted side bends (15-20kg) – 15 reps each side
// Lying leg raises – 15 reps

// Bosu ball twists – 30 reps
// Bosu ball spider crunch – 40 reps

// Russian twists with 8kg KB – 15 reps
// Weighted sit-ups (5 or 7.5)

// Sit ups (with 5kg-10kg) – 15 reps
// Leg raises – 15 reps

Repeat each pair of exercises 3 times with 30 seconds rest in between.

Circuit Session

Circuit 1

// Bulgaria split squats with 12kg/16kg KB – 10-12 reps
// Squats with 16kg KB –  15 reps
// Box jumps (OR jumping lunges) – 15reps 

Repeat 3 times with 30 seconds rest between

Circuit 2  – upper body

// 15kg Upright row – 10 reps
// 12kg Push press (up and straight) – 10-12 reps
// Press-ups – 15 reps

Repeat 3 times with 30 seconds rest between

Circuit 3 – core

// Kettlebell Swings – 15 reps
// Hanging leg raises – 15 reps
// Russian twists (with 8kg kettlebell or med ball)

Repeat 3 times with 30 seconds rest between

My friend Emma (lungesandlycra.co.uk) created this session for me before I sprained my ankle. 

As my evenings were (sadly) not occupied with running I had more time to think about my life/work goals. I read a few good books, started turning my room (and my life) into a more minimalist one. I started doing things I wouldn’t otherwise have got time to do. I liked it.

TRX Straps - Training At Home

Another great advantage of being injured is getting to spend more time with friends. I met a couple of new exciting people and attended several interesting events. 

The World of Gyms – Fitness First

I managed to explore the gym world in more detail. Fitness First, who are the official sports sponsors of Team GB for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, have recently rebranded and I got the opportunity to try out their brand new Baker Street studio.

Fitness First Gym - Baker Street Studio

This gym is a serious stunner – I’ve never thought in my life that gyms can be so cool. Swimming pool, gym, saunas with spa, iPad bar, beauty room and a 100m track – all under one roof. If the monthly membership included a bed, I’d move in yesterday. 

Fitness First Gym - Baker Street - Gym

Fitness First Gym - Baker Street - Swimming Pool

I had a PT session with ‘Big Mike’ which I really enjoyed. I learned new exercises and improved my kettle bell technique. He is a real gym pro who is passionate about bodybuilding and totally focused on his goals. If you fancy trying out the gym be sure to ask for Mike – he’ll get your heart pumping. 


The Fitness First new studios offer a whole range of interesting classes. And although I’ve not tried any yet, I’ve got my eyes set on the Team GB Pro Athlete class.

The session, designed by top British athletes and coaches, lasts for 40 minutes and you’re meant to work on the five key disciplines that any pro athlete needs to excel in their chosen sport – speed, endurance, power, agility and strength.

Fancy trying out the new Fitness First gyms? Here’s your complimentary guest pass .

So all in all, hurdles are good. They push you forward; they get you outside of your comfort zone. And that’s important.

We tend to remember negative events more strongly. That’s human nature and the way we handle negative emotions is different. We think more about bad moments; the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones. 

Next time you get injured and can’t run, access the situation and see what your body can still do.

Embrace the lows, the pain, the bad situation you’re in and try to get the most out of it.

I know that for any longer races (from marathon upwards) you simply need to get the mileage into your legs. I haven’t put enough miles in but I’m going to trust my legs. It will hurt but I’ve done everything I possibly could. And given the circumstances, that’s enough. I’m scared and worried. Who wouldn’t, right? But that’s ok.

Running a marathon is fine, but running 26.2 miles in -40C will be interesting. I’ll need to cope not only with the lack of running miles but also with the cold. I’m not sure which if the two going to be more painful but I’m eager to find out. 



Lenka Istvanova

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