They do say “Be careful what you wish for.” I now understand what this means. After our first week training I’d had a thoroughly good time, really enjoyed myself and felt that I could and should demonstrate a bit of extra ambition. I casually suggested to John Shepherd that I felt equipped to handle a little more intensity. My comment was met with a wry knowing grin.

John is no fool. As a former international athlete and now coach to elite sportspeople he can detect false and misplaced bravado a mile away and knows exactly how to ratchet up the levels. He was never going to let me get ahead of myself or risk injury but, gratifyingly,

He had detected enough in our first week of training to also believe I could step it up a level

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And this we duly did.

I certainly felt it. Body and mind could confirm without hesitation that things were tougher. But you know what? I enjoyed it! In John’s hands the training makes total sense. There is no question of: Why? How many? What for? Or – When do we finish? Everything feels like a natural and necessary progression with a very specific and positive purpose.

This week John introduced the 3kg ball. 3kg doesn’t sound like much and a ball about three quarters football size hardly intimidates. However, when used in certain ways it seriously makes you work. John and I stood 10-12ft apart, perched on one leg and then tossed the ball back and forth rugby pass style for several minutes. This is certainly testing. Standing on one leg ensures inherent instability which make the body fight at all times to correct itself, engaging the full array of muscle groups and the core in particular.

Parisa Louie Ultrafit challenge week 2

Parisa Louie ultrafit challenge week 2 training with a weighted ball

We then moved to a more explosive throwing exercise with the weighted ball

With my back to John I hurled the ball backwards over my head – a kind of reverse football throw in. The idea is to hurl it as far as possible. Fetch. Hurl again. All about exerting as much explosive power as possible and developing a muscular endurance.

It was the second session of the week that I got to train actually inside Crystal Palace on the legendary track. The Grandstands may have been empty echoing voids and the 16,000 seats entirely vacant, but it was still such

A buzz to be out there where the greatest athletes in history have competed and World Records have been recorded

This environment might be home from home for John, but for me it was awe-inspiring. Just running on the track felt so different and we took the opportunity to work on sprints.

I am certainly more naturally inclined towards sprints rather than distances and seem built for the short and sharp rather than the long and drawn out. So who better to be working with than and an international sprint and jump coach. However, I also have a looming 10km Women’s Run on the horizon and need to ensure I can go the distance too!

This week was certainly a step up but I feel like my body has responded and my mind certainly remains entirely willing. In fact I cannot wait to see what Week 3 brings and what John has in store for me!

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