The Runner’s Guide To Surviving Christmas

 So it’s Christmas and the LAST thing most of us think about is moderation and our waist line. The average weight gain over the holiday period is a hefty 7 pounds. This can take the best of us a few months to shift in the new year.

For us runners too much body fat means slower times, and many of us took up the sport in the first place to lose our belly.

It’s Only One Day

Now, no one is saying we shouldn’t enjoy Christmas. I INTEND to hit the roast potatoes HARD Christmas Day. And there is most definitely a big fat slice of cake with my name on it. However remember it’s just one day, come Boxing Day portions return to normal and the sweets go away. If you start gorging Christmas Eve and continue until New Years Day you are going end up with a fat arse no matter how much you run.

 Snacking

It’s a bit of a British tradition to buy oversized tins of Cadbury’s Roses (Chocolates) and Family packs of biscuits and have them out on the table from the moment the Christmas decorations go up.

Well just ONE of those tiny Roses sweets has 48kcals and 3g of fat, and the family favourite custard cream has 66 kcal and 3g of fat.

To put this into easier terms to understand, you’d only need to eat 5 of these a day for 2 weeks to put on a 1lb of fat.

Sausage rolls, plates of mince pies, cakes all call out with their seductive little voices. That call to us in the middle of the night. Let’s face it, if they are in the house they are going to get eaten. Who’s will power is so good that they can leave a perfectly good homemadefatcat sausage roll sitting on a plate all alone? I still can’t NOT finish a tube of Pringles It would be rude not too right?

So the solution is……………DON’T BUY THEM!

If you don’t put the buggers in the cupboard then you physically can’t eat them.

 Liquid Calories Count

 If you are on a night out and drinking choose your tipple wisely not all booze is created equal.

For the beer drinkers, Guinness is about 80kcals per pint lower than lager which is MASSIVE 250kcal per pint. That’s more than a donut. Plus Guinness is high is iron, which is all the excuse you need.

 Santa drinking-1494677

Ciders are around 200 kcals per pint, and wine around 90kcal for a small glass. Yes even though these two are made from fruits they DO NOT count as one of your 5 a day! Nice try though.

Spirits such as vodka and gin are around 50-60 kcals per shot but its the mixers that will hurt you on this one. Redbull is the worst with around 110kcals per can. Plus it tastes horrible, seriously why does anyone drink that?

It’s easy to see how on a heavy night you could rack up your half your daily intake, or maybe that’s just me……

Either way, a glass of water in between rounds will not only help you NOT get so drunk that you accidentally break your colleagues foot at the office Christmas Party (true story) but cut down the calories you consume over the night.

Also keep an eye on the non alcoholic drinks as some of those are pretty high in sugar. A can of Coca Cola has the equivalent of ten spoonfuls.

Good alternatives are tea, soda water and lime, water, squash, and skimmed milk.

Don’t Stop Running

Don’t use Christmas as an excuse to put on the Doctor Who Christmas Special and make a big crevice in the sofa cushion.

Okay, I know this is only a few of you. Realistically most of you will also have over excited children hanging from the light fittings, be simultaneously juggling turkeys and acting as peacemaker for arguing relatives, SO FOR GOD’S SAKE RUN!Santa-Run-London-Run-4-Cancer

This season is one of happiness joy blah blah blah….in reality it’s stressful, hectic and the time of the year you are most likely to kill yourself (doesn’t that make you want to go carolling), so for your fitness, your waist line and your SANITY find a few moments to get out and run.

crazy-christmas

For some of us, in particular the mothers out there it’ll be the only time you get to yourself for the next two weeks so don’t press the pause button and start it back up in the New Year. Keep going.

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

The Newbie Runner’s Guide To Stretching

Stretch

Stretching is one of those things we all know we should do right? P.E teachers across the land drilled into us from an early age that we should at least give it a half arsed attempt before and after exercise.

They were right.

Stretching in a warm up increases the amount of synovial fluid in your joints, this is the body’s lubricant, it’s WD40 or Durex Play improving your range of motion and making everything nice and loose. On a cool down they help restore muscles back to their normal shape. Short inflexible muscles are also more likely to tear. For us runners, this means more strains and sprains. You’ve probably all heard of ‘runner’s knee’. Basically because running works the muscles on the outside of leg more than the inside, the muscles get stronger and pull the knee cap over to one side. Stretching the I.T band (the really long ligament that runs down the outside of the leg) can help prevent this as the muscles stay stretchy.

There is no maximum limit to flexibility training so the more the better.

However, as the saying goes, there is more than one way to skin a cat. There is more than one way to stretch.

Types of Stretch

PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation)

This is typically used for rehabilitation. It can target muscles groups as well as improve flexibility. It focuses on the nerve receptors in the muscles to extend length. First a relaxed muscle is stretched by an external force (ie a partner), you then contract the stretched muscle for 5/6 secs whilst all movement is inhibited. Then the muscle is gently pushed further past its range of movement for a further 30 seconds. Allow 30 secs for recovery before repeating 4 times. If you are injured then the force used to push the stretch must be adjusted accordingly. The idea is that all the contracting shenanigans should help the nerves that make the muscle ping back like an elastic band chill out so you can stretch further.

Passive

This is a type of static stretch where an external force; such as gravity, a partner or resistance bands acts on the body to move it into a new position. The more force exerted the quicker the stretch will develop but the greater the risk of injury. If you’ve ever walked past a group of athletes in dodgy poses then chances are this is what they are doing, unless they were surrounded by beer bottles. Then it probably was something else.

Dynamic

It uses momentum from effort into propelling the muscle into an extended range of motion. Think arm circles, open & closing gates, heel flicks, knee raises. The muscle must be moved through a controlled range of motion in a controlled manner. It is beneficial because it keeps the heart rate raised as well as stretching the muscle and is very much ‘en vogue ‘

with coaches and NGBs (Sports National Governing Bodies) at the moment because of this. However I have one issue with using dynamic stretching in place of static for a warm up. You don’t actually stretch anything properly. Have you ever done a heel flick and thought, ‘yeah that hit the spot, I really felt that in my quads’? Those open gates really got my groin…… hmmm I think not. They are certainly not going to increase my flexibility. If you visit a Gymnastics club they certainly aren’t getting super bendy by using dynamic stretching.

Static

Stretching the muscle whilst the body is at rest. This is the old school stretching that you guys are probably all used to. The idea is to stretch to the point of mild discomfort and hold for between 10-30 seconds. During the hold you should feel a mild discomfort but this should lessen as the stretch is held. Static stretching lessens the sensitivity of the tension receptors which allow the muscles to be stretched to a greater length. It is one of the safest forms of stretching as the movements are slow, controlled and within a normal range of motion.

A Few Stretches For Runners.

Standing Cross Leg Abductor Stretch – Glutes, Tensor Fasciae Latae, & Sartorius

Standing Leg Cross Abductor Stretch

Rotating Stomach Stretch – psoas major & minor, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, obliques, illiacus.

 Rotating Stomach Stretch

Leaning Heel Back Achilles Stretch – Tibialis Posteria, Soleus, Flexor hallucis longus, Peroneus Longus, Peroneus brevis.

Leaning Heel Back Achilles Stretch

Standing Leg Up Hamstring Stretch – Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus, Biceps femoris, Gastrocnemius, Soleus.

Standing Leg Up Hamstring Stretch

Standing Quadricep Stretch – psoas major, lliacus, Rectus femoris, Vastus lateralis, Vastus medialis, Vastus intermedius.

As if you REALLY need a grown up diagram for this one

As if you REALLY need a grown up diagram for this one

Posted in anatomy, fitness, health, running, Sports, training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Rules for the Running Streak

no finish line

Now in general I am not a fan of streaking. I’m talking about the kind where you run everyday, not the kind where you get naked…..unless you’re a REALLY adventurous runner and don’t mind the cold.

For those who don’t know the rules of a streak are as follows:

Run everyday (once every 24 hours)

Run under your own power (no rollerskates guys)

Run at least a mile

Streakers are pretty hard core. There are even associations who will certify it for you. I wonder if it counts as UCAS points?

The main issue I have with running everyday is that for performance, running between 3-5 times a week will actually work better. When you work out the muscles rip, to get stronger they then repair these tears with even more actin & myosin fibres, these are the contractile proteins that give them their ‘umph’. Therefore you need your rest days to get the full benefit from any training programme in ANY sport. If Olympians need down days then I’m pretty sure us amateurs do too. Otherwise you might end up down a knee cap or two. Of course there are some super humans who can have a 6 billion year streak and suffer no ill effects. streakThese genetic freaks of nature are the same people who’s grandmother’s probably got away with smoking 90 cigarettes a day for their entire life whilst drinking a quart of asbestos and never got a whiff of cancer. Not all of us are so lucky.

I like my knees. I’m rather attached to them.

Even so I thought what the hell, I’ll give this streak business a go and see if there is anything to it. There is a right way and a wrong way to do it.

Should I Streak?

Streaking is really only appropriate for a experienced athlete looking for a extra boost during their off season.

newbie runner

If you are a newbie, injured or in race preparation don’t do it.

Newbies generally develop their cardiovascular and respiratory systems quickly, but their muscles take longer. Newbies get cocky when they are no longer puffing and wheezing and push themselves so hard something breaks. This is why injures such as plantar fascitis and compartment syndrome (shin splints) are so common in new runners. Because the legs have not caught up with the lungs. Shoving a newbie runner that would into a regime with little recovery time for their muscles is therefore asking for trouble.

injury

If you are training for a race then you will appreciate the body works in cycles, peaking and then ebbing. The idea is to make your peak at the time of the race. Running everyday makes this impossible, because you have to cram in junk miles for the sake of maintaining the streak. This upsets the rhythm of the training plan. Unless of course you have absolutely no social life. For a half marathon/marathon runner you are also more likely to be injured as your distance increases. Especially since the streaking will cut down on any maintenance work such as core exercises and gym time.

I also wouldn’t recommend it for people prone to burn out. Our mind is our greatest hindrance on the road and if you give it a battering then it could put you off running all together.

Also if you have any kind of injury this really isn’t for you. Wait until its better then start as a lack of recovery time will only make it worse and possibly cause a long term problem. Injuries are funny things and they have to go through each stage. Like the stages of grief. Your ankle is a hysterical exboyfriend you’ve just dumped and it needs to go through anger, despair and drunk dialling phases before he can finally heal. If this is interrupted then you will have a permanent stalker or worse end up getting back together because he is so pathetic. Let your injuries heal and do the rehab!

My Streak

So I’m not prone to burn out, I’m not a newbie but I’m at the end of my race season and feeling a bit out of shape so I thought I needed a concentrated shot of running in the arm. Hence the streak. I’m currently on day 12.

I flew from London to Glasgow and back in a day. I was up for 24 hours but I took my trainers and kept up the streak. This is damn hard work.

My other reasoning for the run is a mental one. Now I know I don’t exactly like this topic……

Christmas is coming. Its my least favourite time of year. Bah humbug. It’s rubbish.

However I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone because if have, have recovered or are close to someone who has an eating disorder then a holiday based solely around food (and it is, don’t kid yourselves) is hell on earth. Stashes of food in every nook an cranny in the house, the pressure of Christmas Dinner, and the issues that come with the inevitable weight gain……hell just the anticipation of it are enough to make me want to hibernate through the whole thing.

The only thing that chills me out in these stressful times is running. So a streak due finish at New Years Eve seems like an amazing idea.

The Right Way To Streak

So how to do this without getting injured? The rules that every streaker should live by are as follows:

KEEP THE MILAGE LOW! I’m talking over all weekly mileage and daily mileage. Your body is going to take longer to recover on the long runs as you keep sending it out so beware!

GIVE YOUR BODY TIME TO RECOVER run, followed by crossfit, followed by a gym session, followed by a swim…..but it’s all okay because I’ve had a protein shake….. Yeah right you crazy streaker. See you for hip replacement surgery in two years.

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT – just because you run everyday does not mean you can eat a McDonalds for every meal, but similarly you need to make sure you are giving your body what it needs to repair and sustain the activity levels. (BMR X PAL)If you are not sure what this is. There is a billion calculators out there. Try this one The Harris Benedict Formula beneath the calculator works out your PAL (physical activity level) and therefore overall calorie consumption.

KNOW WHEN TO MISS A RUN & WHEN TO QUIT if there is absolutely no way on Gods green earth that you can fit a run in, if your wife is giving birth to your first born son, if you’re on a 14 hour flight to a war torn country then don’t beat yourself up about missing a run. Just go out on the next day and start again. These things happen. Similarly if you break your ankle, hurt your back, or come down with noro then step away from your trainers.

PICK AN ENDING a streak should not last forever. I know there are men out there who have been running for most of their natural lives, come on REALLY? Streaks are the running equivalent of the crash diet, our cabbage soup, herbalux, Special K diet. Its a short quick shock to our bodies. Over a long period of time if you’re doing it properly the benefits will tail off as we adapt, if you’re doing it wrong over a long period of time you will get injured. Make sure your time period is realistic and achievable for your body. Don’t try to streak until the England Football Team win a major international championship, you might be dead.

MAKE IT SOCIAL a good streak is a social one. Have fun and support other runners.

If you want to know a bit about sport psychology and the running streak part two of my crazy experiment can be found here 

Posted in fitness, health, running, Sports, training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Nutritional Supplements For Runners – Myths, Facts & Warnings

Supplements Supplements

Walk into any health shop and we are confronted with a mass of pills potions and lotions all claiming to give us super speed.

The Flash

Magnesium, comes with free ‘Flash’ t-shirt….yeah not quite.

So what should and shouldn’t we be taking?

First a word of caution before you delve into the world of vitamins and minerals. In fact several worlds. Unless you are a trained nutritionist, doctor, or pharmacist JUST BUY A MULTIVITAMIN COMPLEX.

Don’t roll your eyes at me, reader. I know you think you are sensible and can read a label, but the issue is a lot more complicated than that.

Frequently Used Bullshit Reasoning

It’s all natural

Belladonna is completely natural as well, but I wouldn’t want to be taking that everyday.

If a little is good then a lot must be better

Like alcohol right?

Is There A Downside Then? 

I once heard another runner say she took 4 magnesium tablets a day to ‘stay loose’ Taking a high level of some micronutrients is dangerous because of the potential of overdosing. Yes you can overdose on them, you can have mild effects like headaches, or you can simply end up dead on the pavement outside the Viper Room.

 Sprouts

Okay jokes aside. You are unlikely to die from eating too many sprouts. Although those around you might suffer. The more fruit and veg the better. Its supplements that provide the concentrated amounts that have the potential to cause us problems. Some are safer than others

A,D, E, K are fat soluble. This means they are not flushed out by our kidneys when we have an excess and are stored in our body. If we keep on consuming more than we need these stores can become toxic. Don’t fret too much if you are not taking tablets as the levels required for poisoning are pretty much impossible to hit by eating. Also if you are taking supplements then Vitamin D is less of a concern, primary because if you live in the northern hemisphere, are overweight, smoke, are female, a child, or elderly……(basically everybody) then chances are you have a D deficiency. Vitamin A in particular is easy to OD so keep a close eye if you are taking it solo.

neon yellow

Water soluble vitamins and minerals (which in general are also water soluble) get peed out when we take too much. A Vitamin B complex will turn your pee neon yellow if you fancy having your bodily fluids match your running gear.

However massive amounts over a long period can still have side effects, and overdosing is still possible from water soluble supplements, even though the amount is still substantially higher.

The other reason you have to be careful with watching what you take is vitamins and minerals are linked. They are all buddies holding hands. You change the levels of one and it will affect the others.

You probably all know that calcium absorption aided by vitamin D since a few yoghurts decided to cash in on the fact, and plaster the adverts all over our screens. It’s also pretty common knowledge that vitamin C improves iron absorption.

However some micronutrients have a negative effect on each other. If you Zinc supplements over a long period of time, you will give yourself a copper deficiency. These buddies should not be split up, if you take one, you should take the other. High levels of Iron and Calcium can also affect Zinc absorption, so if you are JUST taking these two for a bit of a boost you may find yourself with a deficiency yet again.

It’s not only Zinc that is fussy and has trouble playing without his friends. Maganese has issues with Calcium and Iron, Fluoride levels drop with increased levels of Magnesium and Calcuim…………the list goes on.

balance

Our body is a delicate balancing act. Shoving a high level of a single supplement in it well and truly screws it up.

Multi Vitamins already have the levels sorted for you. The mix is there. Someone has sat down and worked the numbers out for you. Unless you are willing to sit down and go through the list of recommended daily amounts for each one…..which hey you might be?

What To Look For In A Multi-Vitamin

So with all the vitamin & mineral complexes on the market, what specifically should a runner look for?

Well I’ve complied a cheat sheet for you. I apologise if this is a bit more technical than usual I’ll write something smutty and full of toilet humour in the next post!

Biotin

Biotin is involved in the metabolism of both sugar and fat. In sugar metabolism, biotin helps move sugar from its initial stages of processing on to its conversion into usable chemical energy. Biotin is one of the B mineral family and can prevent cramps and pains related to running. Biotin is also known as vitamin H and is found in rich sources in egg yolk and swiss chard.

Calcium

It is well known that calcium aids bone structure and development. This is vital for endurance athletes as it prevents stress fractures that are associated with the sport. Calcium also plays a role in many physiological activities not related to bones including blood clotting, nerve conduction, muscle contraction, regulation of enzyme activity, and cell membrane function. It is especially important to replace this mineral as it is one of the electrolytes lost in sweat, which puts the endurance athlete at great risk of low levels. Calcium can be found in dairy products such as milk and yoghurt, as well as dark leafy vegetables and sesame seeds.

Choline

Choline plays a role in facilitating fat transport in and out of the cells and vital for transporting waste products from the cell. This is vital with high levels of cellular respiration that are undergone during an endurance run. Choline also allows your nerves to communicate with your muscles aiding reaction times and increasing co-ordination. This could reduce the slips and trips of the runner on uneven surfaces that they have to compete on. It has also been shown to reduce inflammation, something which us long distance runners find useful.

Chromium

Chromium plays a key role in carbohydrate metabolism, aiding insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. This regulation is extremely important in providing energy to the runner over a sustained time period and preventing spikes and troughs that lead to tiredness and (for non runners especially), diabetes. Chromium can be found in whole grains, bran and potatoes.

Copper

Copper helps the body process iron, an important part of haemoglobin (and responsible for oxygen transportation around the body) Copper is also a component of lysyl oxidase, an enzyme that participates in the synthesis of collagen and elastin, two important structural proteins found in bone and connective tissue. It is important for the marathon runner that these tissues have all the necessary minerals to repair the impact damage done on gruelling runs. Otherwise seriously injury is assured. Very good sources of copper include chard, spinach, sesame seeds, mustard greens, kale, shiitake mushrooms, and cashews.

Folic Acid

Folic acid is key in the development of red blood cells and helps maintain healthy circulation of the blood throughout the body by preventing build-up of a substance called homocysteine. A good supply of folic acid in the diet will increase reduce the chances of cardiovascular disease (by reducing homocysteine levels) and increase energy levels by increasing levels of red blood cells. A distance runner needs the most efficient oxygen delivery system possible to carry their body over the vast distances. It also plays a role cell repair as it is a vital nutrient for cell production (especially skin and smooth muscle cells) and can aid in repairing the general wear and tear of these runs. Folic acid is found in calf’s liver, squash, and pulses. Black beans and lentils are excellent sources of fibre as well as being high in folic acid. Black beans and bell peppers also supply the body with flavonoids, which help the body utilise vitamin C and prevent excessive inflammation when damage occurs.

Glutamine

Glutamine serves as precursor to the antioxidant glutathione, participates in glycogen (glucose storage) synthesis. It is important that an endurance runner is able to build up adequate glycogen stores to fuel the working muscles on the long runs. When these stores are gone the athlete can no longer perform. Sources of glutamine include pulses, fish and chicken. Energy efficiency is key to an endurance runner’s performance, so any micronutrient that is involved in this process must be heavily present in the diet from a number of sources.

Iron

Iron is the main component of haemoglobin and myoglobin, the carrier proteins for oxygen. It is responsible for oxygen distribution through the bloodstream and muscles and its levels are directly related to the ATP (energy) production potential of an athlete. Sources of iron include asparagus, broccoli, spinach and meat.

Thioctic/Lipotic Acid

Thiotic acid is used in the link reaction between glycolysis and Krebs cycle (the first and second stage of cellular respiration) Because of this it is crucial in aerobic respiration, the source of ATP for activity over 2-3 minutes long. The marathon runner would fall into this category. Therefore it is vital that this transition between glycolysis and krebs cycle not be hampered. Thiotic acid can be found in ‘broccoli, spinach, and other green leafy vegetables like collard greens or chard

Magnesium

Magnesium acts as a relaxant for the nerves. When levels have depleted through sweat the athlete can be at risk of developing cramps and strains. It is also involved the production of many enzymes, including those used in fat metabolise and energy production. Sources of magnesium include quinoa, seeds, and salmon.

Manganese

Manganese activates the enzymes responsible for the utilization of several key nutrients including biotin, thiamin, ascorbic acid, and choline several of which are useful for a runner and are also in this list. However it also plays a vital role, for an athlete as a catalyst in the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol, facilitates protein and carbohydrate metabolism. This access to energy is essential over the long distances. Manganese can be found in brown rice, pineapple, and cranberries.

Niacin (B3)

Niacin plays a key role in helping the body process fatty acids. It also helps the body convert its stored proteins, fats and glycogen into energy. Access to the body’s energy stores is vital for any athlete, so it is important that this system be as efficient as possible. Sources of Niacin include Tuna, Chicken and soy sauce.

Pantothetic Acid (B5)

This B vitamin plays a pivotal role in helping release energy from sugars, starches, and fats and is a widely used supplement for marathon runners for its ability to increase the efficiency of mitochondria function. It also assures adequate production of healthy fats in your cells ensuring adequate fat storage for training endurance athletes. Pantothetic acid also increases the body’s ability to respond to stress by supporting your adrenal glands. Runners put their body under enormous stress and the adrenal gland is often at a high output for the duration of the run. This support therefore is invaluable. Vitamin B5 is found in liver, avocado, yoghurt and sweet potato.

Potassium

Potassium is one of the key electrolytes lost in sweat. It is responsible for the communication between cells and the action potential generated down the nerve axon. A lack of potassium reduces this communication and the ability of the muscle to contract. This is not desirable for any athlete. Sources of potassium include tomatoes, cucumber and apricot.

Riboflavin (B3)

Riboflavin plays a critical role in the body’s energy production, it also helps support the function of other key B vitamins, especially those used in ATP (energy) production. With correct levels it can help improve an athlete’s performance by increasing energy efficiency. Sources of riboflavin include eggs, yoghurt and spinach.

Selenium

Selenium is useful in preventing joint inflammation. Joints can sometimes become painful and inflamed under the repeated impact of long distance running. Any measure that can be made to prevent this would be beneficial to performance. Sources of selenium include tuna, prawns, salmon and turkey.

Thiamin (B1)

Vitamin B1 is an important ingredient in pyruvate dehydrogenase, an enzyme used in the link reaction between glycolysis and Krebs cycle. Without this link glucose cannot be broken down aerobically. It is aerobic respiration that allows for activity over a period for longer than 2 minutes, so endurance sports fall into this category.

It also plays a role in nerve maintenance and is responsible for healthy development of the fat-like coverings which surround most nerves (called myelin sheaths). Sources include asparagus, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, kidney beans and pineapple.

Vitamin B12

This vitamin is crucial for red blood cell development. Without B12, synthesis of DNA becomes defective, and so does the information needed for red blood cell formation. It also has an effect on protein synthesis as amino acids become unavailable for use in the absence of B12. Also insufficiency of the vitamin can also affect the movement of carbohydrates and fats through the body. So as this vitamin affects the body’s three major energy sources (carbohydrates, glucose & proteins) it is a crucial component of a runner’s diet. Sources can be found in salmon, prawns, milk, yoghurt and eggs.

Vitamin B6

‘This vitamin is particularly important in facilitating the breakdown of glycogen. Access to stored glucose (glycogen) is extremely important in endurance running, as this is where the reserves often come from for the end of the race in particular. Efficient break down would have a positive effect on performance by increasing energy supply to the working muscles. Vitamin B6 can be found in squash, spinach, bananas and peppers.

Vitamin C

This vitamin is key in helping the body absorb iron which increases the body’s ability to use oxygen. Vitamin C is also vital in supporting the immune system, increasing the body’s ability to repair itself and defend itself from infection. Athletes are often at risk from colds and flus when they ‘over train’ and weaken the immune system. These illnesses can seriously damage their training regime. Sources of vitamin C include peppers, kale and most fruit.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps absorption of calcium so it can be used effectively by the muscles and bones (see calcium). It has also been shown to have an effect on circulatory health. Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to be a significant risk factor for high blood pressure in a variety of studies. Runners often put strain on these systems, as they are responsible for supplying the body with oxygen. It is therefore vital that they are kept in optimum health for the best performance. Vitamin D can be found in sunlight, salmon and milk. Because it is difficult to increase vitamin D sources through food as it is a hormone produced by the body in the presence of sunlight. However it is found in salmon and milk.

Zinc

Zinc plays a part in the synthesis and regulation of insulin. It also has an effect on the rate at which we create and use up energy. When zinc is deficient in the diet, metabolic rate drops. Because of this it is a vital supplement for the endurance runner as a low metabolic rate will affect the body’s ability to produce energy for the races as well as training. Sources of zinc include turkey, spinach and oats.

Posted in fitness, health, Sports, sports nutrition | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Liebster Award

Thanks so much for my award Things I Hate Some I Like. These things always make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Like I’ve drank a pint of costa hot chocolate, but with less calories and no sicky feeling afterwards.   My nominations are below. The rules of the Liebster award are as follows

-Each nominee must link back the person who nominated them.
-Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator.
-Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award who have less than 200 followers.
-Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
-Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them

liebster

Here are the answers to the questions that Things I Hate Some I Like asked.

1: If you could be any historical figure who would you be?

I kind of like having the vote and being able to choose my own husband etc so I’m happier living now, but if I really HAD to then I would pick Fanny Blankers Koen

2: Who would play you in a movie?

Miranda Hart

3: Which do you prefer The Jetson’s or The Flintstone’s?

The Flintstones

4: What’s your favourite book?

Wuthering Heights

5: What’s your favourite smell?

Washing powder

6: What’s the worst film you have ever seen?

Hulk (Edward Norton version). You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry.

7: What’s your second favourite animal?

Capybara. Who couldn’t love a giant guinea pig?

8: What was your best Halloween costume?

I went to a party dressed as an Emo a few years ago. I had a team jacob t shirt, oversized headphones, an Avril CD with fake blood cuts on my arms and walked around ‘saying nobody understands me’

9: What’s your dream job?

I’d like to have a book published, but on a day to day basis I wouldn’t want to do anything different than I do at the moment.

10: What’s the best question you have ever been asked?

Why do you still work in Subway? I used to manage one and when I couldn’t answer, I retrained in Sport. No disrespect to that industry as I think retail and catering are one of the hardest jobs in the world, but it was the best decision of my life.

My Nominations

Confessions of A Monogramed Runner

I Thought They Said Rum

The Reluctant Runner

Paul Smuts

Fitness Meets Frosting

Murchubrian

Single Mom Running

The Tartan Jogger

Running Over The Rainbow

Long View Hill

What I Want To Know from my Nominees!

1) As a teenager, what was your most shameful celebrity crush?

2) Pies, sweet or savoury?

3) Free healthcare, yes or no?

4) How many pairs of trainers do you own?

5) What is the drunkest you’ve ever been?

6) What is the most gadgety piece of sports equipment you own?

7) Your favourite music album

8) Movie currently in your dvd player/last watched

9) Have you had any tweets from celebs? If so who?

10) cat or dog person?

Posted in awards, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Speed Training – Know Your Muscle Types

We are approaching the winter when runners will one of two things:

– sit back unwrap a box of mince pies and put away the trainers until the January sales are over.

– or think ahead to next spring’s pb and what your off season’s training goal should be.

If you’ve circled option one then chances are you are still new to this sport. Unlike footballers, basketball players and other team sports, we don’t exactly get time off to chill. As little two weeks of no running can cause a slide in our running ability. Although our ‘season’ tends to be March to October the committed runner can find a race in any month. Anybody who’s run 5k in a Santa suit at Christmas will tell you that!

So what am I up to this winter? Last year I was training like mad to run a marathon. My goal was distance. This year I’m going for speed. Mostly because I am no longer content to devoting most of my day to running/training for a marathon. Get up, run, shower, eat, go to sleep was pretty much my normal Sunday last winter. I would like to be quick enough to be able to squeeze an episode of Friends in there as well.

Why Am I Slow?

There are three types of muscles in the body, type 1, type 2 and type 2a. They each last for different amounts of time, and come in different ‘strengths’. How many of each we have affects our ability to do various sports. Now a lot of this is down to genetics, so you can blame your parents, however training encourages more of the right sort to be recruited.

We’ll ignore type 2a as they are reserved for people that throw stuff, jump and Usain Bolt. (You can train for them using plyometrics aka jumping, but since they for work ten seconds max as a distance runner, why bother?)

Type 1 muscles are the ones that make us do things for a long time. HOWEVER they don’t have a big energy output, so whatever we do we can’t do it very hard or very fast. Distance runners, walkers and swimmers LOVE these types of muscles as they give us our stamina. The only way to get them is to train between 60-80% of your maximum (ie so your heart rate is up and you are breathless but can still talk), in the gym you may have seen this called as the aerobic training zone.

You also have to train for a decent period of time (20 mins plus), continuously or using farlek work best.

This is basically my profile of training for EVERY SPORT I DO EVER. Because I’m pretty chilled out when I train, but I’m quite happy to go forever I have a developed a great set of type 1 muscles. Its also the reason why marathon runners (for the most part) make rubbish 800 meter runners and vice versa. Distance runners lack the numbers of type 2 muscles of our sprinter cousins because of our regimes.

So What Do Type 2 Muscles Do?

Well if you need to kick at the end of a race, blast up a hill, go over an obstacle in a steeplechase, or get through that last mile when your tank is empty these are THE ONES. Type 2 muscles are all about WORKING HARD! They only hold out for a few minutes but they give you that extra boost you need. They are your nitros baby!

However they come with a price, the burn of lactic acid. Like a car the more you upgrade the less exhaust and the more power, so with training you get less burn and more speed.

If we’re sticking with car metaphors then my type 2s look like this

 Type 2 muscle fibres

How To Train For Type 2 Muscles.

These babies only come out to play when you are working anaerobically, (so above 80% of maximum). This means you have to get a serious sweat on.

They also only work for a few minutes, so the idea is to work hard and for a short time, giving yourself rest/lower intensity periods in between to teach the body to deal with the lactic acid build up.

Image

My first 5k, even back then I wasn’t a fan of a quick mile.

I like my nice gentle runs where I get to look at the birds and squirrels, singing to myself in a Mary Poppins- esque voice (as all British people do) etc. Forcing myself to sprint up a hill, with sweat dripping down my face; running until I feel like I’m going to throw up isn’t as pleasant an afternoon. But it does work.

There are a few classic methods:

Intervals

This is basically a fixed period of high intensity followed by a fixed period of low intensity/rest. For example same quarter mile stretch at top speed and then walking back and repeating.

Suicides

So called because the exercise is commonly inflicted teenage sports teams ( High School Basketball players will know what I am talking about here)and the kids, once grown would rather kill themselves than perform them as an adult. Its my theory that high rates of depression in professional athletes is because of this sadistic drill. Suicides, just say no. The only time I’ve ever vomited through over exertion was because of this little torture method.

 suicides

Hill sprints

Sprinting……up a hill.

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

HIIT is the newbie but is fast becoming a favourite with serious runners, and is extremely useful if you are a regular gym goer.

I’ll use a treadmill for an example. Say you are running at a leisurely 11.38 mile min. (after a massive warm up) you would then put the treadmill up as HIGH as you could without falling off for

60 secs. You would then return to your leisurely pace for 75 secs. You then repeat this until you feel like you want to die. It improves your VO2 Max (how much oxygen your body can hold) as well as recruiting type 2 muscles, a double whammy for those looking to improve speed. It’s also handy for those 10k & 5k runners.

Tips

For speed work you HAVE to warm up, cool down and REST. Don’t perform speed work everyday, its not the type of thing you streak. Because you are working at maximum you need to take extra care otherwise you will almost certainly get injured. Speed work should be done 1-2 a week.

 *Apologies for not blogging for a while, I’ve been a little bit busy setting up my own business. If any of you care a hoot about what I get up to in real life, take a look at the link below

Hands On Therapies

Posted in anatomy, fitness, health, running, Sports, training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Play My Who Wants To Be A Millionaire – Running Etiquette Game!

For all the newbies out there who don’t know those pesky unwritten rules of race and road.  The DVLA are seriously thinking of stealing this and charging runners £60 before they can get their road licence so get it while its free. I’m still working on the hazard perception component so if you see a runner with an iphone strapped to their forehead filming, say hello and try and run me over.

But seriously this is all for fun, and I don’t REALLY suggest you donkey kick anyone……….

Click Below

Who_Wants_To_Be_A_Millionaire-_(Ireland)

Oh, and this is the NEW IMPROVED FIXED VERSION! Yes I managed to take out the random science questions that kept popping up. It actually works like it’s supposed to, so have no fear.

Posted in fitness, humour, running, Sports, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments