Runners & Resistance Training – What Muscles Should You Be Working?

laufendes skelett mit schmerzen in den knienIf you’re a female runner then like me trying to squeeze your calves into a pair of extra skinny jeans is a bit of a mission. It’s pretty much my upper body work out……..

But whether you’ve been running for 6 years, 6 months or 6 minutes you can’t afford to ignore how it affects your body.

However not just the old gastrocnemius that gets worked pounding the pavements. Muscles work in groups and have an effect on each other. They often have their ‘opposite number’ and if one muscle becomes stronger than the other it can cause an injury or defect (such as runner’s knee).

Because I’d rather put memes up than pictures of the ACTUAL muscles, if you want to see what they look like, try this website here. (Go on, knock yourself out)

How It Works

For most actions,

-one muscle does the movement (prime mover)

-one muscle does it’s opposite (antagonist)

-and a few muscles help and stabilize the movement.

For example in the bending of the knee:

-Hamstrings bend the knee

-Quadriceps straighten it

-Popliteus, gastrocnemius and the glutes help and stabilize the movements.

If one muscle in the group increases in strength faster than the others you can imagine the shenanigans this can cause. It also becomes tighter and less flexible.


Areas To Watch


The intercostals move the rib cage during breathing. The stronger they are the larger and deeper breaths we can take, and therefore increase our respiratory efficiency. And a pulled one hurts, lots. The Abs in general provide attachment points for the hip flexors and are responsible for the posture of the runner. Weak abs can lead to back issues, especially twisting injuries and the lower back. They can also increase the chance of a pulled groin lads (ouch) if the hip flexors don’t have a solid anchor to pull against.


Quads, in particular. Rectus femoris & Vastus Intermedialus (two of the quads) swing the leg forward. These babies give you our kick. Their opposite numbers are the hamstrings, if Rectus and Vastus get too beasty and they pull too much force against the Hamstrings and you are more likely to strain them. The solution is simple, stretch the quadriceps so they aren’t as brutal, and use resistance training to improve the hamstrings.


Popliteus is small muscle behind the knee which helps with bending the leg. It’s antagonist, one of the hamstrings – Bicep femoris is a big BEASTY powerhouse of a muscle that pulls the hell out of tiny Popliteus. As we train and our hammies become stronger and tougher, it takes more of a battering and can cause pain behind the knee.

Popliteus can be strengthened with exercises such as ball squats and leg curls, and the hamstrings stretched. Massage is also useful.


The Glutes control how much we lean forward when we run, help with leg lift and stabilizes our leg swing. There’s Maximus and Medius. Maximus is the big muscle we all know, love and if you’re Beyonce have insured. Medius extends the hip forward and out.

It’s antagonist are the adductor group. The decidedly less impressive inner thigh muscles, responsible for shutting your legs. Used more by some than others then………….

Most runners will usually take a good crack at working the Glutes without knowing much more than a tight arse looks better in running shorts. However a toned Maximus can prevent hamstring strains, lower back pain, support the psoas (one of the major hip muscles) and contribute towards tight IT bands. And that last one, a runner definitely DOES NOT need.


BUT whatever you do not ignore the adductors. Not only are sagging inner thighs not a good look, but a strong Medius and weak adductors can affect hip positioning, gait and cause some wicked pain. I will however write more on this further down as there are more reasons why you should work your inner thighs.


Stretch – Glutes

Reistance Training – Adductors, think side leg lifts, ball squeezes, or the hip adduction machine at the gym.


Sore hips in runners is pretty standard, and the two main culprits are the psoas major & the piriformis. Psoas is responsible for lifting the upper leg towards the body, and piriformis adducts the femur so we can shift our weight to the other side of the foot. This stops us falling over when we lift a leg. A bit useful during walking and running then.

Piriformis is an extremely temperamental muscle and it lies deep underneath the Glutes and near the sciatic nerve. Any inflammation or tension can put pressure on the nerve and cause more pain and suffering than a boyband breakup. To make matters worse piriformis is STUBBORN and won’t always relax on it’s own, so you need to give it a hand. If you’ve never done this before there’s a video here.

Now I realise sitting on a basketball seems like the start of a porno, but your hips will thank me.

As far as the psoas goes think: Donkey kicks, leg raises, reverse crunches, knee lifts.

Tensor Facia Latae/IT Band

These muscles abduct and flex the thigh at the hip and are used A LOT in walking and running. This is part of the reason why runners who run on a banked surface or have a bad gait are more likely to get IT band syndrome, or Runner’s Knee. Why you ask? Well as a muscle gets stronger it tightens and pulls harder (and repeatedly rolling the leg inwards will do that) In the case of IT band syndrome, it pulls so hard that it pulls the knee out of alignment.


The way to counter act this is to……you guessed it, strengthen the OTHER side, so the knee is pulled back into place, and yup stretching of the IT band. You can also bring in a massage therapist or a foam roller to help. However if you are too cheap (like me) to buy a roller, a ridged juice bottle filled with water and shoved in the freezer so it turns to ice will do the job!

This whole runner maintenance stuff isn’t exactly genius, resistance training, stretching and maybe a bit of massage. But with a bit of care you can save yourself a lot of trouble later on.

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Running Legends – Be Inspired

Whether you are a newbie or have been at this a while I think it’s good to take stock of some of the epic runners out there.  Other sports ram their heroes down our throats. Footballers (this statement applies to both, neither are worth the money, hell I would do DISGUSTING things for half their weekly wage) are paid thousands per second and can be taken down by a blade of grass, so lets give our lads and lasses a cheer. I’m sure that you guys can probably add to this list but if you are new to this sport, here are just a few of the greats.


Emile Zatopek

Now us Brits were pretty impressed with Mo Farah when he won Gold in at London 2012 in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres. That’s pretty hench right? Well Emile Zatopek  had got the Gold and Silver in the 10,000 and 5,000 in London 1948, Golds for both in the 1950 Euros.  Two years later at Helsinki he picked up two more Golds in these events. Sitting in the changing rooms in Helsinki Emile was getting pretty bored; he thinks – why not enter the marathon as well, after all how hard can it be?

His strategy was simple, keep up with the record holder….because all of us who have made the jump from 10K to marathon know how easy that is, with NO TRAINING. And he came away with, you guessed it, an Olympic gold. The only man to get golds in all 3 distances.

Fancina ‘Fanny’ Blankers-Koen AKA The Flying Housewife


Won four gold medals at the 1948 Olympics in London for Holland. Apart from her four Olympic titles, she won five European Titles and 58 Dutch championships, and set or tied 12 world records – the last, pentathlon, in 1951 aged 33. She retired from athletics in 1955, after which she became captain of the Dutch female track and field team. In 1999, she was voted “Female Athlete of the Century” by the IAAF.

Fanny gave birth to her first child six weeks before the European Championships (her first major competition after WW2) and broke through the social barriers of mothers not being able to compete at the elite level.  Rumour has it, she even competed pregnant. Despite questions over her age and commitments at home she continued to win medals and break records into her mid 30s. A retiring age that elite athletes would be proud of even today.  Sod the Spice Girls, if you want true girl power, get a poster of Fanny on your wall!

Haile Gabrselassie

ImageHaile’s strange gait apparently comes from running to school with books under his arm. This Ethiopian has broken world records in EVERY distance from the 2,000 meters to the marathon indoors and outdoors. He’s got a Gold in International Competitions in 1,500, 2,000, 3,000, 5000,10,000, and 13.2 miles and the marathon. If he doesn’t have the bling for it, then chances are the event doesn’t exist.  In 2005 he was UNDEAFEATED in all of his road races. I could sit and list his world records, but that would make this a very long blog. If you look up the world hench in the dictionary there will be a picture of this man next to it. Apart from the amazeballs-ness of his running, he is also known as a consummate sportsman and a true ambassador for the sport. His personality has been described as ‘electrifying’ and yet he is just as graceful a loser as he is winner. If you pick this guy to worship from the list, you could do a lot worse.

Roger Bannister

Back in the 1950s people still believed that eating crusts would make your hair go curly, and that it wasn’t physically possible for the Imagehuman body to run faster than a 4 min mile. Otherwise our head would explode…..okay maybe not that last part.  The myth was created by informed observers and sports writers (the equivalent of bloggers) but since Bannister was a trainee doctor he pretty much knew this was bollocks.  He took a scientific approach to his training and with the use of comparatively advanced methods and some pacers smashed through this barrier on 6th May 1954. He held his record for just 46 days when the other runners realised it was all in their heads. Bannister was by no means the most talented runner of his generation, he didn’t even train full time. He was first and foremost a doctor and has made some great contributions to sports medicine. However back in the 1950s he was the CLEVEREST runner of his generation and did not allow  myths and psychology to beat him, and therefore achieved a monumental breakthrough.

Eddie Izzard

Yes, I’m aware he’s a comedian not an elite runner. But for me he’s a testament to what the normal person can do with a bit of crazy and a lot of will power. Eddie Izzard completed 43 Marathons in 50 days for charity with only 5 WEEKS TRAINING and NO PREVIOUS HISTORY OF RUNNING.  That I think, makes him deserving of a space here. If a only vaguely funny guy with a beer belly can run 43 marathons, then you can do one at least!


Abebe Bikila

This guy didn’t take up running until he was 24 and was added to the 1960 Ethiopian Olympic Team so last minute that the plane to ImageRome was literally about to leave the tarmac. The sponsor didn’t have any trainers his size so he ran barefoot  and came home with a gold medal in the marathon. When asked about his feet he said ‘I wanted the whole world to know that my country, Ethiopia, has always won with determination and heroism.” Awwwww bless.

In the 1964 Olympics he broke the world record, once again in bare feet ( Apparently they didn’t have Vibrams back then) and just over a month after collapsing from appendicitis. He was the first athlete in history to win the Olympic Marathon back to back.

Ingrid Kristiansen


The first women to win world titles on all three surfaces, (track, road and cross country). Actually make that FOUR surfaces as she was also an elite cross country skier. She had world records in the 5,000, 10,000 and the marathon.  As much as I hate treadmills they can’t be all that bad, as the Norweigan dominated distance racing during the 80s and reported to do most of her training on the old ‘dreadmill’.

Edwin Moses

Edwin was studying physics at University, but his campus didn’t have a track so spent 3 years hauling arse down to the local high school to train. As we all know, persistence pays dividends and the little boy from Dayton, Ohio ended up with 122 consecutive race wins, 3 world records,  three World Cup titles, a World Championship gold, and 2 Olympic Golds (and a bronze). Oh right and his degree.

He’s also revolutionised the sport, helping set up trust funds so athletes could offset training costs without making themselves Imageineligible for the Olympics by giving up their amateur status. He also participated in the development in a number of anti doping polices and procedures. Edwin is truly interested in protection of the integrity of sport and participation for all, no matter what their background or level. What a dude!

Tirunesh Dibaba

This lass has multiple golds in cross county, road and track. She was the youngest EVER athlete to win an individual gold at the World ImageChampionships at age 18 and 90 days. At the 2004 Olympics, she was third in the 5,000m, which made her at the time her country’s youngest Olympic medalist. She’s been pretty much unbeatable ever since. She’s won every medal, broken every record in the 5,000, and 10,000 and now rumour has it she’s upping her distance to the marathon. Her debut is rumoured to be the London Marathon 2014, watch out, this girl does NOT know how to lose. Oh and her sister isn’t bad either.


My Great Uncle Ken

My Great Uncle ran an Ultra Marathon at 70. Not a easy flat canal one either. I’m talking South African foothills (The Comrades) which makes him my own personal legend. Unfortunately I didn’t find out until after he died. (I didn’t know him very well regrettably) We Imagewere sorting through his things and I found all of this amazing running memorabilia. Up until then I had thought I was the only runner in the family, the only runs the rest of my rels get are the ones that happen after a dodgy donner kebab.  Finding this out pushed me to enter my first marathon. One day I’d like to make it to South Africa to do the Comrades like he did, it might take me a while though. He was pretty hench.

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Sports Psychology and The Running Streak – Are We Addicted?

fitness drug

I appreciate that most of you have stumbled onto this blog by a freak accident of Google, but if you have managed to read more than one post you might be aware that I’ve been streaking….no not that kind, the Runner’s World Holiday Streak Kind.

It was an experiment. I was not the world’s greatest fan because as a training method they don’t really make much sense (for more info on that read here)

However I was quite interested how it would affect me mentally. So armed only with the notes section on my running app, and a half arsed understanding of psychology I set out to do a vague qualitative analysis.

Now I’m not going to claim this is in the LEAST bit scientific, after all, even I KNOW that a sample size of one isn’t exactly going to get me into the American/British Journal of Sports Medicine, (however the Daily Mail have offered me cash for the piece and a job as chief editor )

‘The Method’

I started on November 2nd and planned to run no more than 5 miles, no less than one mile everyday until New Years Day. However the deadline was extended to February 14th as I approached the end of the streak. The mileage limit was put in place to reduce my chance of injuries. My previous training regime extremely flexible but normally consisted of 3 runs a week, a 3 mile (speed), a 5-8 mile (usually trail) and a 10 mile plus.

I recorded mood in the form of a smiley face scale for each run, other feelings, any injuries as well as normal run data in a reliable running app for my mobile phone (Runtastic, it kicks Nike+’s butt)

The Theory 

My argument is that addictive behaviour can be seen in the formation and continuation of the running streak. I’ve put some actual observations at the bottom, if you can be bothered to read what I did and how I felt each month (probably not then).

I’ll shove in definition of what I mean by addiction. For example I’m addicted to cheese but its not currently an impact on anything other than my thighs so that’s NOT going to be the basis of a blog entry.


A repeated habit pattern that increases the risk of disease and/or associated personal and social problems. Addictive behaviours are often experienced subjectively as ‘loss of control’ – the behaviour contrives to occur despite volitional attempts to abstain or moderate use ‘ – (A.Textbook, 2013)

Now running is normally a lovely sport which decreases your risk of lots of nasties. However not taking a rest day increases your risk of injury and decreases your risk of a social life so I’d say I’m not stretching that too much.


The other factor according to this quote is lack of control. The original streak was supposed to run from November to Jan, but I added another month. At the time when I decided to extent the streak it was simply because I didn’t want to stop. I’m in an online running group and a few of us also encouraged each other to extend it. Social learning theorist (copying others and peer pressure) Zimbardo would have a field day with these online groups if they had been around when he was researching (if you are into psychology look up Stamford Prison Experiment, it’s messed up). His theories would no doubt stay that grouping a bunch of people together with similar interests in place where we can do what we want, enviably encourage us to encourage each other to greater extremes.

Now I LOVE my running group, I really do. They’ve been really supportive and awesome but lets just say I’m glad I’m in a they’re sports people and not gun nuts otherwise our ‘can do attitude’ might have gotten some people killed.


One of the main rewards is that I’m losing weight. I’m eating like a man and it’s STILL coming off!!!
But it’s a bit scary about what will happen when I go back to my normal routine. Will I gain weight? Will I go back to my normal routine or will the effort of the streak be too much and cause me to lose momentum? These are all questions which are causing me to consider extending the streak again, even though its not the best thing for my training. Even though I don’t want too.

I know that other streakers suffer these anxieties as well. For me this is the biggest sign that the run streak causes psychological dependency.

But lets look closer……..

The Six Criteria


Mark Griffith; some psychologist who spent a lot of time with gamblers, gamers and exercise addicts (sounds like a party) came up with six criteria, so see if you can see yourself.


1. Salience:

The behaviour becomes the most important thing to the person and they have it on their minds for much of the time. There’s no doubt that the run became the most prevalent thing on my mind, not only that but all the stuff that goes with it, the gear, the blog, the routine, training methods etc. The first thing in my head when I get asked to a social activity (especially during the week when I work as well) is how does this affect the daily run?

2. Mood modification

The addict gets a rush or buzz when engaged in the behaviour. The addict is also able to use their behaviour to bring about a mood change. Interestingly, the same chemical or behaviour can alter mood in different directions depending on time or setting.

Running brings about a buzz in two ways, the short term adrenaline buzz from the run itself. I can get these HARD. I mean actually bouncing off the pavement, seriously if only cool kids knew that instead of taking drugs and dying they could just take up running. It also gives a long term serotonin boost that improves mood and fights depression.

3. Tolerance

Basically the addict needs bigger and bigger hits to get the same effect as they did initially with smaller amounts. Risk-taking behaviour, for example, tends to get more extreme over time.Photos-Kylie-Minogue-Trainers-her-Handbag

As a streak runner I definitely became focused on increasing my monthly mileage. Part of this is due to the fact that a runner will plateau if they keep the effort the same, but our competitive nature doesn’t help the fact either. I’m not sure if I’d class crazy runner antics as ‘risk taking behaviour’ but I definitely got nuttier, running in pjs, normal clothes, around an airport, late at night, carrying my trainers around with me just in case.

4. Withdrawal symptoms

Changes in mood, shakes, irritability etc. as a result of cessation.  Applies to behavioural as well as chemical addiction. I know that exercise produces serotonin which produces a ‘chemical’ reward, and in truth I am a bit scared as to what will happen when I stop running everyday. Will I crave that boost? Will I slump mentally? We’ll see……


The pursuit of short term pleasure can cause conflict with other; parents, spouse, friends and can also result in conflict within the person. I’ve had no arguments with others (probably because I’m single). But I can imagine this could hit couples with non-runners or with kids pretty hard. The sheer time commitment alone could cause tensions. I have noticed that I do talk about my streak A LOT and I sound like a bit of a pretentious twatt, to the point where I’m a bit surprised some of my friends haven’t hit me in the face with a baseball bat.

6. Relapse

A tendency to return to the behaviour, months or even years after an apparent ‘cure.’Again this is just as common with behavioural addiction as it is with chemical. Will I be able to stop or will I find some crappy excuse to return to the pattern?

Griffith reckons that you need all six of these to be classed as an addict, so we’ll see what happens on the 14th of February.

Approaches To Addiction And Streaking


There’s basically 4 theories to addiction


The Biological…………..we inherit addictive tendencies.

,The Social Learning……..we copy from those around us

The Behaviourist………develop addictions from a punishment and reward system (ie the buzz taking drugs encouraging usage, and the withdrawal systems discourage stopping)

The Cognitive……we kid ourselves that everything is okay and that we are in control (for example a gambling addict thinking they can place more bet to make back their losses)

I’ve seen patterns from their models in my observations of my behaviour over the last four months

Now when it comes to nature vs nuture I come down firmly on the side of nurture, however Sarafino (1990) found that children born of alcoholic parents were four times more likely than usual to develop drinking problems themselves. So if you’ve got an addictive personality, or if it runs in the family then a streak might be best avoided.

The Behaviourists give addiction the best go at an explanation. These are the guys that brought you Pavlov’s Dogs. Ring a bell, make a dog drool. I’d rather it fetched the remote control, but its a start.

Mowrer’s Model (A.Textbook)

Acquisition: Behaviour is acquired, usually this is through an association. This is known as classical conditioning, for example an association between a getting a pb and wearing your lucky pants. You learn to associate two unrelated things so that one does not occur without the other.
Social learning theory encourage the behaviour, such as being egged on by your running mates. This acts as vicarious reinforcement.

Maintenance:best explained by operant conditioning. An initial win or buzz acts as a powerful reward that makes the behaviour more likely in future. Also the punishment of withdrawal symptoms will also act to maintain future repetition. Such as fear of weight gain if you stop streaking, and the reward of being able to boast that you run everyday.

The Cognitive Approach states that we reason our way out of it, we create false logic to convince ourselves that it isn’t an issue. For example finding that one streaker blog who states its the best way of training and if you only keep at it, you’ll be running a sub 1.50 half marathon in no time and mentally clinging to that NO MATTER WHAT they experts say. Blaming your plantar fascitis on everything from hydration, to nutrition, but not lack of recovery time, no that would be crazy wouldn’t it. I’ll buy some inner soles instead.
OR changing your training goals to fit your streak pattern, ie going from a marathon runner to a 5K runner because that is about all its useful for.

“My Observations – Can You Spot My Crazy?


The First Month


I twisted my ankle early on (not running related) so my mileage for this month was pretty poor whilst it healed. I went from doing around 18 miles a week to around 9. However as much as I want to blame the ankle, in the first month there were simply a lot of days where I couldn’t be arsed and just did a mile to get it out of the way. And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT.


Some quotes from the notes section of my app which I think sum up this month – These are real guys.


‘cut run short as wanted to get back in time for Hollyoaks’


‘Could have run faster but I REALLY needed a wee’


‘Ran in normal clothes wearing shoes and carrying a handbag, plus needed to pee. Literally had no time to run today’


‘Couldn’t be arsed to go any further. Need to remotivate myself. Legs felt fine’

no finish line-TP_RunnersWorld rwdaily


As you’ve probably gathered I wasn’t really enjoying myself. I was no longer bouncing along trails looking at squirrels, but going out just to get the miles done. The smiley faces were all at the lower end of the scale.



The Second Month.


As SOON as December hit something changed. My mileage increased to 15 miles per week however I was not doing any long runs because of fear of injury. I did get more concerned with times and monthly milage and I became more focused about planing run.

The crazy runner behaviour started to kick in here.


Things I found myself doing…………


-Taking my trainers and running shorts places ‘just in case’ I ended up running late at work or meeting friends and was forced to run on the way home.

-Running my mile around Stansted Airport, despite the fact I had been up 24 hours straight and felt like death.

-Getting invited on a girls night out, and my first thought was about my run.
-Planning Christmas Day… guessed it….around my run.

-Running at 11pm

I’m not going to bother putting the quotes up because they are pretty much all about how much hydration I’d had, carbs I’d eaten blah blah blah.

Physically I was starting to notice some GREAT changes. No matter what I ate over Christmas I was losing weight. Running more often was definitely better for my waist line, even if performance wise apart from gaining a little speed over the 5K it wasn’t doing much. However I was feeling like each run was a training montage from a 80s movie. Oh and apparently butchers don’t like it if you break in and punch meat, something about the Food Safety Act? I nearly doubled my monthly mileage on the month before, and in a quicker average miles per min. I getting some seriously major adrenaline rushes from my runs and flying high as a kite during my cool downs.rocky


I also found myself becoming that smug running idiot that everybody hates. ‘oh I’m doing the Runner’s World Holiday Streak, I can’t remember the last time IIIIIIII had a rest day (insert obnoxious laugher with followed by a nasally snort of derision) ‘

Nothing makes you feel like a bona fide runner like a run streak and I know talking about it makes me sound annoying, but it’s like an out of body experience, you float above yourself hearing these things, but you can’t stop them coming out of your mouth like word vomit. I think you get this a little bit the first time you run a marathon as well.


The Third Month


The Runner’s World Holiday Streak was supposed to be from U.S Thanks Giving to New Years Day , however I started a little early and when it came to an end I found myself not ready to quit. A couple of members of my online running group also were extremely into it, so we agreed to go on until Valentines Day.

For the three weeks I was still starring in my own celebrity reality running TV show…..then the bubble burst. A few little injury niggles such as a pulled intercostal (that’s a rib muscle for the newbies. Hurts like hell if someone makes you laugh, or sneeze or hey….breathe) crept in the effort I was putting in dropped substantially. By now, however the daily runs had become routine and I was going out without even thinking out it.

And yeah, I was still talking like a smug git. If you need proof of that, check the twitter account.

In week two the smiley faces began to drop again and by week 3 so had my mileage. Cumulative fatigue had set in and for the for the first time I was feeling bone tired.

Finishing month 3 was really tough. The last week I was miserable, tired and I wanted to stop. However despite this I pushed through to achieve an over all mileage greater than last month. I used my on-line running group to help me get out the door on the last couple of days of when I really wanted it to be over.


I’m 3 days into the final month, 11 days away from my proposed end date. I don’t feel as low as those last few days of month 3, but I’m ready for it to end…….and yet I’m once again considering another extension.


I didn’t make it until Valentines Day. 3 Days after this post I realised streaking when I actually wanted to stop was ridiculous. Over the last week my mileage had dropped quicker than One Direction in a rugby match.  So I’m back to normal training now. I managed 93 days of streaking and covered 182 miles.  






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Running Memes and Rants

So now we’re all over the sickly sweet emphatically cheery new year new start bollocks.  Let’s face it January and February are pretty much the worst months of the year. If you’re new to running then after the first two weeks then your willpower soon dwindles as the bad weather increases.  If you’ve been at it a few years then you’re hoping and praying that you’ve not blown your whole season over the Christmas period, and that the weather will let you make up the difference outside and not on the dreaded treadmill.

I’ll let you in on a secret newbies, no one actually LIKES running into a gale when its coming down horizontal.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the fact people pay for a chemical peel and I get a layer of skin removed for free, but I’d prefer a nice dry spring day with squirrels and stuff.

My particular bummer at the moment is the BALLOT PROCESS. I hate it. I hate having to wait forever to decide if I’ve got into a race. Especially when this race is essentially going to decide how my entire season progresses.  Basically I can’t book up my calendar until these guys make up their mind as to whether I run their single event or not. Grrrrrrrr I hate the beginning of the year. If you are feeling the beginning of the year blues, shove your rants in the comments. Get it out runners!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you have just started and are finding it rough going then I promise it does improve lots. Stay with it, and here are some running memes I made to cheer us all up!  (You can also laugh at a girl who still uses paint)

Willpower alertPB

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Running Injuries 101

ankle sprain

Running newbies, this is a quick guide to what to do when something hurts, what will m

who me

ake it worse and what’s going to help you get back into your trainers quicker.

ITS YOUR OWN FAULT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 First thing is first. Unlike some sports, where we can blame team members, bad tackles or failing equipment in running if you get an injury it’s ALL YOUR FAULT! Unless a cyclist with no lights decides to take you down on your nightly run (true story kids) then you’re allowed to blame someone else.

Look in that mirror baby!

insane exerciseIf you are getting reoccurring problems then you seriously must look at your training regime, your diet, your hydration or your biomechanics.

Bet you didn’t know dehydration was one of the main causes of ankle sprains did you? You can curse at that curb all you want, but its probably down to the fact you can’t be bothered to carry a water bottle with you.

The First 72 Hours

Pretty much as soon as something snaps, breaks or tears the area gets swollen, hot, red and depending on how bashed around it’s got, bruised.

Now unless you’re superman and have x ray vision, if you pull something deep then you might not see all this (unless you’ve done something pretty hardcore) however sprain your ankle and you’ll get a good demonstration. Like the after effects of a vindaloo, you might not always see it, but you KNOW its there. The body reacts like this to bring antibodies to the area quickly, however inflammation and haematoma (a bruise) are bad as put pressure on already damaged vessels causing pain and further damage.

batman injury

Some of the sporty types reading this might have heard of PRICED or RICED or the various letter variations of this, whatever anagram

 you wish its basically the same. Its the rules how to deal with the initial injury

Protection – stop the injury from getting any worse. Yes runners, if you pull or sprain something this means STOP. If you’re lying in the middle of a motorway get your wounded ass out of danger.

REST – Now I know there are a lot of people out there who will attempt to run through a broken leg, (Manteo Mitchell, I’m looking at you) but of course this will make it worse.

Doing this means more blood is pumped to the injury, increasing bleeds and inflammation and therefore increasing recovery time.

Ice- I’ll go more into hot verses cold therapy later on. But in this stage reaching for the deep heat is the worst thing you can do. Get yourself a bag of frozen peas (or whatever else cold you have in the house) and wrap it in a teatowel to avoid chill burns and ice for 10 mins every 20 minutes.

Compression – Anything tight wrapped around the damaged area will reduce inflammation and help clot any bleeding inside the muscle/ligament. So go on give it a good squeeze 😉

Elevation – Get the offending limb above the level of the rest of your body. This can lead to some amazing contortions, but it also keeps the blood away from the damaged area. The more blood that goes into an area after you’ve damaged it, the more pressure and the more tears etc, like continuing to drive on punctured tyres, they’ll get shredded even more. So get that leg up.

Diagnosis – See a doctor. A 3rd degree ankle sprain can hurt JUST as much as a broken ankle, and slow onset issues such as Tendonosis and Tendonitis almost exactly the same symptoms. Both need completely different treatment and get it wrong and you could at best increase your recovery time, or at worst jeopardise your ability to run at all, so get checked out. And I’m talking someone with an actual medical qualification who has seen your injury, not some dude off a forum or your running partner who ‘reckons they had something similar’. Anybody with a computer can put stuff on the internet, they even gave me a blog.

 cat gamer

72 Hours – 6 Weeks

Now I’ve done it myself. I’ve sprained my ankle, stayed off it for three days then gone out for a 10 mile run and wondered why on earth its been screwed all summer. What’s our mantra with injuries runners? Say it with me! ITS ALL YOUR FAULT.

After about 3 days the body has started to get on it and fix whatever you decided to break. It lays down a nice little matrix of fibroblasts and collagen which is about as strong and robust as play doh. This mess of sticky putty needs time to turn into proper cells. This takes time,and stretching, not a beasting on a potholed trail. The good work that the body has done to heal itself will be destroyed and you’ll be back under doctors orders.

cat injury

How long this stage lasts depends on how badly you hurt yourself. Do the rehabilitation, strengthen your weak areas and build up gradually.

Hot & Cold Therapy – When To Break Out The Deep Heat

Think of cold as a way of shutting down the area. It reduces inflammation, numbs pain and reduces blood flow to the area. dog ice

Hot does the opposite. This gets the blood flowing to the area, bringing with it a fresh supply of nutrients and oxygen.

If something is INJURED or HURTING then it needs protection from further harm. Enter the icepack, the frozen chips, or the ice bath as a way of reducing the blood flow, inflammation and the pain so it can take the time and heal.

If something is STIFF (no giggles please) or if the injury has mostly healed and you want to get it working again, then you want HEAT!!!!!! Lovely warm gentle heat. This brings oxygen to the area so the muscles can relax or get moving again. Alternating hot and cold also works really well for these issues.

If you suffer from reoccurring sprains, check out this post on proprioception 

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Advice For The Runner On A Diet

silhouettes-of-running_peoplesilhouettes-of-running_peopleMany newbie runners first put on their trainers with one primary goal. Dieting and Weight loss.

This post is designed to give you guys a helping hand. We all know why it’s so attractive as a weight loss measure. The stereotypical runner is skinny, has great abs and a tendency to wear less clothes when exercising than your average stripper. If you’ve actually been to a race (in particular the ones with the big entry) you’ll know that runners come in ALL shapes and sizes. Tall, short, fat, thin, muscle bound, waif, the road welcomes you all.

And OK, I’m not going to dispute that running is one of the better exercises for calorie burn, with a 91kg man burning 755kcal in an hour at ONLY a 12 min/mile pace.

Running also utilises the aerobic energy system (rather than anaerobic which is the one the body builders and sprinters use) and one of the favourite fuels of this bad boy is FAT! Yup, why bother to shell out for liposuction and end up with a saggy stomach you can carry a week’s worth of shopping in, when running uses fat cells and tones at the SAME time!

It’s seems to good to be true……well there is a pesky little catch to this energy system. The more adapt your body comes at burning fat, the better it comes at storing it as well. Oh yeah water, running makes your body like to store water as well. The reason for this pesky adaptations is too make you a better endurance runner, however not so good if you are looking to shift the pounds. This is why it’s always best to boost your metabolic rate by adding some resistance exercises as these also encourage a higher fat burn in your day to day life.

Fat just sits there and doesn’t do anything, it’s like walking around with a weighted backpack. Muscle is hungry, needs to constantly eat so imagine that pack is full of fluffy, yet hench pet hamsters instead. Resistance work will also many runner injuries.

However running will help you lose weight…..if you use it correctly. I’m living proof. Here’s my before and after pictures.

3 Years LaterMe + 6 stone

That’s me three years ago and six stone heavier, me now. There’s no photoshop. I didn’t eat cabbage soup for two week, cereal, babyfood or sell my car pay for company deliver ‘meals on wheels’ to my house. I also did not (the list continues) cut out any foods ESPECIALLY NOT CARBS AND DAIRY, eat like Neanderthal man, take any pills apart from the odd vitamin.

So how did I do it………..

Losing weight is a simple equation (assuming you don’t have anything medically or psychologically wrong with you)

If you burn more than you eat you lose weight

If you burn less than you eat you put on weight

If you eat the same as you burn, maintain your weight.


Raise your hand if you are surprised. The secret isn’t in whatever celebrity fad is in the media. You simply have to EAT LESS. BOOM!

Now okay. I have simplified it slightly. There are a few tricks that help. But its mostly stuff you know already. The internet is a vast source of knowledge but a lot of $%&$£ is out there concerning nutrition, and unless you work in this field or have studied it, its really difficult to sort through the rubbish.

The Magic 500

Now I know we all want to get as much weight off as possible. A few programmes out there have conned us into believing that its perfectly normal to go from Supersize to Next Top Model in a couple of weeks.



Losing weight at that rate is not healthy, its not ACHIEVABLE .

YOU WILL FAIL. And when you fail you will beat yourself up and tell you its your fault. This is how diet companies have been making money for so long. They show you magic and promise you a solution that isn’t simply can’t be done. So when you fail you blame yourself. I ask you, what normal person could live off just baby food? Pretty much everyone with a sane psychiatric profile and taste buds will have sacked it off after a week.

Also what they don’t tell you is if your daily intake more than 500kcal less than you need (ie if you need 2000kcal and you take in less than 1500) you enter a famine state. Your metabolic rate slows, muscle is broken down and you store fat like crazy. As soon as you start to eat again you will put on weight quicker than before you began your fast.

For the prospective runner, this is even more damaging to performance as if you do not have the carbohydrates in your system to run, then you will seriously under achieve.  A lack of protein/dairy will also hasten injuries and reduce gains from work outs. Cutting out any food groups on diets such as Dukan, the Elimination, Paleo, and Cabbage Soup might mean you cut out a vital vitamin from your diet and put you on a one way track to a serious injury.

Don’t rush. You can lose weight with this sport, but its a marathon, not a sprint.

The Eatwell Plate.

This is what your plate/daily food intake should look like. And yes, there is a naughty section! No one said you should never eat a chocolate bar again, however it’s about moderation.



Everyone gets excited over wholegrains because they contain a triple whammy of B vitamins, fibre and complex carbohydrates (carbs that do not come from sugar if you are looking at a food label). The B vitamin group are great for runners as they help us convert glucose and fats into energy. Complex carbs produce a sustained energy release rather than causing a blood sugar spike. Its these spikes that make us get hungrier quicker as when our blood sugar reaches a peak insulin is released and the levels then drop dramatically, triggering the chemical to be released that causes hunger (and craving for high fat, high sugar foods). We can only ride this roller-coaster for so long before we end up with diabetes. Complex carbs release slower so our blood sugars don’t spike, but drop slowly over time, hunger is triggered later and in a more controlled manner so we hopefully make better choices.

Fibre also fills us up and adds bulk to the stomach, keeping us full. It also slows down the release of sugars. However runners, beware about eating high fibre foods right before a hard/long run as this could lead to a brown streak down the back of your shorts.

Portion Control

I have no shame in saying this was my biggest problem. For YEARS I thought ‘serves 4’ meant serves 2. No it doesn’t. I just ate too much.

I’m still not great with the whole cheese thing. Did you know the maximum daily portion of cheese is the size of a matchbox! A normal one, not one of those cooks match boxes either! I eat that just while cooking!big gulp

Portions vary from person to person. They are normally determined by age (it might seem obvious that your 7 year old doesn’t need the same portion as you, but at McDonalds I bet they can polish off an adult meal), activity level and muscle mass. However if you want a simplified version look at your hands.

Carbs – size of a clenched fist

Veg – two cupped hands

Meat/protein – palm (yes steak lovers the proper meat portion is only the size of your palm, the bit without the fingers)

Fruit – size of a clenched fist

Fats and Oils – half a thumb

Again, this is only a rough guide. Don’t take anything too literally, but it might show you where one of your food groups is completely out of whack.



There are definitely a few ways you can make things easier on yourself. Studies show that if we give ourselves ‘pause points’ when we eat we are more likely to consume less. Basically if you had a giant bag of Doritos (200g), chances are you’d scoff the lot, how many of us eat 6 packets of normal crisps (30g bags) from a multi pack?

It’s the pause points that slow you down and make you evaluate your hunger. You can do at dinner time by dishing up on smaller plates (so it seems bigger) and keeping the food in the kitchen to create a pause point for when you wish to have seconds.

Another study recently showed that if you leave the evidence of your eating at the table, such as leaving chicken wing bones on your plate rather than clearing them then you will also eat less.

Eating in groups is another danger. This can affect our intake by as much as 30% with studies suggesting the worst group size for scoffing is 6. Now I’m not saying don’t go out with your friends, if some of you kind people HAVE six friends (joke) to go to dinner with then you should get out and share the running love. However keep an eye on the old portions when you do.

Performance VS Weight Loss

Finally newbie once the highly addictive, highly contagious viral sport bites you then you have to be aware of the affect a restricted diet and reduced body fat will have on performance.

Weight loss will speed you up, pound for pound. Especially if you are large to begin with. You will find yourself not only quicker but able to run further. Yes newbies, you will feel less like a asthmatic tortoise and more like a cartoon Road Runner after six cans of Red Bull!!!


However if you ARE not a larger lad or lass and your body fat drops then this could HARM your performance. We actually need some fat no matter what the fashion industry tells us, so if your body fat drops below healthy ( 10-13% for women and 2-5% for men is considered the bear minimum) then best get some cake in. It has an important role in hormone production, vitamin/mineral storage, protection and insulation of organs as well as provision of structural components of cells. A lack of fats means that you are on a one way track to injury and illness as well as a drop in times.

Cutting your carbs could also affect performance, particularly if your one of these stupid people that comes out with fads like ‘I’m not eating wheat this month’. As if wheat/bread was the source off all evil. I’m pretty sure that as recently as the 60’s obesity wasn’t a problem, yet we were still tucking into a sliced loaf. Let me put this bluntly

People it’s JUNK FOOD and MASSIVE PORTIONS that make you fat!!!!!

Unless you have an allergy/intolerance you do not need to cut anything from your diet. What might do you some good is reducing the amount of high fat/sugar foods you eat!

Sorry rant over. But the important thing is, do not cut carbs. It slows your metabolism down and affects how effectively we burn fats. This is why they should be in each meal. Also without them you will not reach your potential on the road, so if you are running to lose weight don’t neglect the pasta.

Posted in health, running, Sports, sports nutrition, weightloss | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Around the World Running Blog Relay 2014

Around the World Running Blog Relay 2014.

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