July 25, 2017

Need a boost? Try a detox retreat

Sometimes I get to the point where I am completely strung out and it really impacts my running. Life is busy and we now do so much multi tasking that often parts of our lives suffer as a result. Recently I have had a lot going on and my running has taken a bit of a hit. So I needed to stop and take a break to recalibrate. For me the perfect answer to this was to go on a detox retreat; I’ve done this before and the results within me are fantastic.

Detox at the Golden Rock Retreat, Bali

Views from the retreat

I headed to Bali to the Golden Rock Retreat on the East of the Island for that break and here’s how I got on; you can then make your own mind up whether it might be beneficial to you.

So firstly, why did I choose this particular retreat? I have never been to Bali and fancied a change from my usual Thailand retreat. Golden Rock only has 5 villas so it has on average 5 or 6 guests at any one time; I love small retreats because you get more attention plus your own space which I certainly need. Finally the programme looked comprehensive and I thought I’d get a great experience. At Golden Rock you can detox/ fast for anything from 4 to 10 days and they are really flexible. I chose a 12 day retreat so I had two days to break the fast at the end.

The retreat is situated in an idyllic fishing village and is stunning. I was bowled over when I saw the views and the retreat itself; great villas and right on the ocean. You go to sleep and wake up listening to the waves….and quite a few fishermen hauling their catch too. Note, there is no phone coverage, which is great but be prepared and let whoever needs to know that you’ll be out of contact for a while, all part of the detox process!

Detox drinks including psyllium husk and bentonite clay

Some of the drinks on the retreat

The aim of the detox is to cleanse your body of all the toxins and stresses that we subject it to so we try to re-establish the balance of the body. This is done via a combination of fasting, treatments, yoga and relaxation.

Each day you drink a lot of different things including coconut water, juice, clear soup, magnesium oxide, psyllium husk and bentonite clay, vitamin C and the list goes on. Some of these are pretty horrid, others actually nice such as the papaya juice – yum! Surely the bad stuff must be doing us some good though! The staff are excellent and make sure we always know what to drink when. They seek you out to give you your next drink, shame it isn’t a mai tai!

In combination with fasting there are daily Chi Gung and Yoga sessions along with some trampoline work and the infra red sauna – awesome! You also get a massage daily which could be a healing, nerve or scrub massage and a session of reflexology, all excellent and the reflexology was incredibly relaxing. One thing I did miss though was a morning walk. In the detox retreat in Thailand we would go out for a walk every morning for an hour and a half and that was fantastic to get you going for the day.

Trampoline and infra red sauna

Exercising looking at the ocean - not bad!

The first few days I was getting used to the programme and working out what I needed to put where when. One thing I did discover painfully on day 1 is that all my running, and poor stretching, has resulted in my flexibility being shot. Gone is the day when I used to be able to do backflips, admittedly that was 20 years ago! So yoga was quite tough but by day 5 I was getting far more flexible.

I was a bit lethargic in the first few days and my blood pressure and resting heart rate kept dropping. Combining this with heat made climbing stairs (or anything) a bit tricky. By day 5 I did feel as though monotony was kicking in a bit; you do the same thing each day and my point of excitement was finding out what massage I had planned for that day. What you tend to find on these things is that your emotions can go up and down a bit; I was finding by day 5 that I was getting a bit anti social, especially with the newbies arriving. I was a bit waned by all their enthusiasm – they’ll learn! I was also suffering from cabin fever and was keen for something different or just to get out. I wasn’t missing food much in terms of hunger but I miss the tastes and smells associated with it.

So far so good though, next week I’ll share how the second half of the detox went and the results.  Tune in next week!

The Lunchtime Run

Running at lunch or middle of the dayThe lunchtime run is one of my favourite things, especially in Winter, and here are my reasons why you should give it a go.

  • You have limited time so you work hard and there is no wasting time or dilly dallying
  • It’s a great way to break up the day
  • It gives you great energy for the afternoon and helps prevent that post lunch lethargy
  • In Winter you get to see daylight, otherwise my morning and evening runs are in the dark
  • Set up running groups with people from work and set challenges

But if you are running at lunch here is what I think you need:

  • Showers – for everyone’s benefit make sure you have something to make you smell a little more pleasant in the afternoon
  • Flexibility – in my job sometimes I can’t always do midday every day so be flexible
  • Good running routes – this, of course, depends on where you work but try and find something relatively green and traffic free if you can
  • Well planned running routes – with only a short time to run don’t bite off more than you can chew, or get lost, which is what happened to me once. 20km and a couple of hours later I returned to work! Use it as an opportunity to do some interval training
  • Good communication – the number of people I see continuing to sweat profusely at their desk whilst their work mates look on baffled! Don’t chance that they might call an ambulance; let them know you’ve been on a run

Enjoy that lunchtime run and chase that carrot!

Need some legwork?

If you want some leg work I have found just the place in Perth, Kings Park!

Running in Kings Park, Perth

The great running paths in Kings Park, Perth

Perth is a stunning city, in my opinion, and it has some great running. I was there in July and it was 21 degrees!. Kings Park is situated overlooking the city and is beautiful and big. You can do a great 10k run in there along with plenty of smaller runs. The botanical garden is fantastic and the views amazing. At sunset you can literally just keep on running. But the real highlight for me is Jacob’s Ladder.

Jacob's Ladder, Perth

Jacob's Ladder - great for the legs

Jacob’s ladder is a manmade staircase situated on Cliff Street linking the street below to the mount, and park. Apparently there are 221 steps but I am sure I counted 241; I was fairly delirious towards the end though. I think it is a bit of an institution amongst the locals as there were plenty of runners and walkers in the morning and evening. What most people seem to do is run up and down it several times. I’d just done a 10k run so I did it twice and was bushed. But what great exercise! I have also walked up the 1000 steps in the Dandenongs and it is similar although less busy.

This is fantastic fat burning exercise because you are working your big muscle groups hard. Your quads, glutes and hamstrings are feeling that burn, particularly the quads. Working these guys hard will keep you burning fat for hours after and is great exercise for toning up this area and giving you a great bum. Treat this as interval training and run up 30 or 40 then ease off for 30 seconds then go again. Do what your body can handle.

If steps really aren’t your thing the park has some beautiful runs. One is called the Law run which is a short 2.5km circuit and takes in some of the flora and fauna. There is also a treetop walkway which really does give you a bird’s eye view of the city.

For more info on King’s Park go to www.bgpa.wa.gov.au/kings-park

 

 

 

What makes a great running event?

I have run hundreds of races and there are some great ones and not so great ones. So what makes for a great race? Here are my ten pointers.

Organising running races

  • Have plenty of loos – queuing for four toilets is timewasting, smelly and annoying. It’s more annoying when you get there and there is no loo roll.
  • Have enough drink stations. Seriously race organisers listen up. Waiting 5km for a cup of water on a 35 degree day is not good enough.
  • Don’t start too many people at once – either start in waves or restrict it based on the funnel of the start. People falling over each other is not a good look.
  • Have showbags – people love show bags and suppliers love supporting these things. It’s a win win.
  • Have a medal. Not enough runs now give out medals; it is a sense of achievement so please give us a medal no matter how crappy it is.
  • Make a clear exit route at the end so knackered people know where to go and what to do; by that point you are slightly delirious so it needs to be easy. The Mother’s Day Classic do a great job of this.
  • Bag drop off. Offer it and make it easy to drop off and pick up. Put all bags in sections and get one person to man each section, e.g. 1-200, 201-400. Sound simple? That is because it is; but it is amazing how many organisers get it so wrong.
  • Have chip timing – you’ll get the serious runners entering and everyone likes to download a certificate with their time on.
  • Offer clear instructions on the course, chip timing, results, bag drop off etc. online and in a leaflet sent out to participants.
  • Plan the course so it is traffic free, iconic (that will get people wanting to run it), easy for spectators to access and not too hilly.

I could keep going on but I need to restrict this to ten. Any other thoughts on what other people think makes a great race or any recommended races out there?

So chocolate is good for you!

Hand made chocolatesI had the great pleasure of being treated to a chocolate making class for my birthday and it was one of the best things I have done in a very long time. Not only did I make some amazing choccies but I also learnt so much about it and apparently it is actually pretty good for you. Chocolate is full of antioxidants but only if you eat the good stuff. Eat the rubbish and you get fat and sugar. So what has this got to do with running? Well us runners always need snacks and if chocolate is good for us I’d like to know more!

Firstly what is chocolate? Well it is from the Cacoa plant and the seeds are fermented then the beans roasted, dried and the shell removed to provide cocoa nibs. Cocoa nibs are available at some health stores and this is chocolate in its pure form. They are often put on cereal, salads and other food and are full of antioxidants and minerals.  I’ve just bought a block of pure, pure choccie in this form to play with in food. These cocoa nibs are ground to cocoa mass which is a mix of cocoa butter and cocoa solids; cocoa butter is separated from the solids. From here various products such as cream, vanilla, sugar and emulsifier are added to chocolate solids and some of the cocoa butter to make it the amazing thing we buy and eat.

Chocolate makingSo what is good and what isn’t? We have all probably heard how great dark chocolate is. Well it’s true depending on what you buy; the closer you can get to the pure chocolate form the better. Once you start adding sugar, milk, vegetable fat etc. you get away from what chocolate is. Some ‘chocolate’ out there is just fat and sugar. Find a chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids, no vegetable fat and natural bourbon vanilla. There are some amazing brands out there but the good ones which are easily accessible are Green and Blacks and Lindt. Stay away from chocolate with vegetable fat, vanillin and a low % of cocoa mass in. Some won’t even have cocoa butter in as it is more valuable out of the chocolate than in it. Nestle is a particularly poor brand. Nestle Melts have less than 16% cocoa, no cocoa butter and vegetable fat. Hmmm!

What benefits does chocolate have? Studies have shown that it can lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, help improve cardiovascular problems amongst other things. Of course if you eat half a kilo of Cadbury’s a day it probably won’t help.

I’m now very conscious of what I am eating, I am staying clear of a few mainstream brands and focusing on quality. Also making your own chocolates is awesome and I totally recommend the cooking class I went to. See http://www.sissysbix.com/ for more information

What a great excuse to eat more of this amazing product! Enjoy!