July 25, 2017

5 tips to get the most out of your running

Preparation is, arguably, more important than the running itself. With poor prep you can kiss a decent run goodbye. Here are my 5 tips that I stick to when running, most of the time anyway.
  • Green vegetables full of antioxidantsEat well and drink well - It is crucial to have a balanced diet with plenty of energy and protein to repair cells and muscles. Eat lots of green vegetables and fruit with antioxidants and vitamin C so that you can keep your immune system going at full pelt. Prunes, raisins, blackberries and blueberries are full of antioxidants. My advice would be to try and eat clean so avoid processed foods; they are hard for your system to metabolise so keep it simple. Also drink lots of water!
  • Get plenty of sleep – If I don’t get at least 8 hours a night I am exhausted for my run the next day; your body needs this down time to repair itself so get enough sleep.
  • Balance your commitments – Make time for your run and don’t relent on it (as much as possible). My running is really important to me in terms of my health and so I won’t compromise on that. I set a specific time for it and stick to it.
  • Have a goal – Have an aim and something to work towards. This might be a 10k race or marathon or it might be lose 5kg. You also might want to improve your times; whatever it is have that goal in mind and a timeframe to hit it.
  • Be positive – Be positive, be focused and keep that state of mind. When it is dark and miserable outside it is easy to put that run off. Keep positive and think how great you’ll feel at the end of it. Also if you have a bad run shrug it off and get back on the horse the next day. Look at running, and the rest of life, sunny side up!

 

 

Detox Part 2!

Golden Rock Retreat Sunrise

Sunrise from Golden Rock

Last week I wrote about my first five days at the detox retreat in Bali. If you are keen to hear more here’s what happened the rest of the time day by day.

Day 6 – felt pretty good today with bags of energy; not bad considering I hadn’t eaten any solids for 6 days.  Did extra bounces on the trampoline and even managed a bit of skipping (I’d brought my skipping rope for this exact reason – perfect transportable piece of gym equipment). My heart rate was up a bit which was good (it is normally low 40′s) and all in all I felt good if not a little bored having the same agenda again. I also do have a strange urge for scones, jam and clotted cream – yum!

Day 7 – felt shocking and could barely reach for my water bottle. I put all this down to my over exertion the previous day. Also had a nasty case of not being able to keep my garlic juice down later in the day. It isn’t great on the way down and is even less pleasant on the way up!

Day 8 and 9 – felt pretty awesome both these days. Plenty of energy and one of the fellow inmates commented on how I was ‘glowing’. I am looking forward to day 10 though purely for a bit of variety.

Day 10 – the excitement of something different! Today is liver flush day. What this involves is drinking a lot of Epsom salts and olive oil. Effectively this flushes the liver removing large amounts of old bile and gallstones residing in the gall bladder. It is definitely one not to be tried at home unless you know what you are doing.

Day 11 and 12 – I felt pretty rotten after the liver flush initially but that soon cleared and I suddenly felt brilliant. Bags of energy and vitality. Also on these days I broke fast and got to eat fruit and green veggies; they tasted fantastic and full of flavour.

Fresh fruit post detox

Fresh fruit post detox

At the end of the detox I felt great; refreshed, destressed and recalibrated. I was also a few kilos lighter which will certainly help the running. One of the things I really wanted to be able to do was to step back from the everyday and take stock. This I achieved. It was great to be able to think about what I want to achieve in my own space. I’ve come away with a focus and renewed energy which I will put right into running. The other thing I want to do is take up yoga; I feel fantastic after doing it for a couple of weeks; flexible and strong.

As for the detox retreat it was great and is recommended. It’s called Golden Rock in Bali. Another great one is Samui Detox in Thailand. I would say Samui Detox is a bit tougher in that you have fewer juices and more walking but they also explain the treatments a lot better. Kim, who owns Samui Detox, is constantly on hand to explain what the treatments are to talk to you about nutrition (she’s qualified in it). That bit was missing from Golden Rock for me. Luckily I’ve detoxed before so I didn’t need much explanation.

Happy Cleansing!

 

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!

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!

Carbo loading – what is it and should we be doing it?

Carbohydrate loading is very popular amongst runners and is a phrase used often. But what does it mean and why do we do it? And actually should we be doing it at all?

Carbohydrate loading is an important part of long distance training

During exercise we use the glycogen stores in our muscles. During endurance training, i.e. marathons and exercise over 90 minutes, we deplete these stores so we need to optimise the stores so they last as long as possible.  During exercise for less than that the stores in our muscles are sufficient.

Carbo loading allows us to increase the glycogen in our muscles by approximately 50% so that we can perform at our optimum rate for longer. Marathoners are often known to ‘hit the wall’ about 10km before the end of the race. This is essentially the glycogen stores running out.

So how do we carbo load? About a week before race day start to eat more carbohydrate rich food then 4 days out eat plenty for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. This is where pasta comes in really useful. At the same time you want to taper off exercise so your body can store the carbohydrates as glycogen and you don’t use it up. In reality this means eating cereal, bananas, bread, pasta and potatoes. So great news – you can eat carbs! No Atkins diet here.

On race day your glycogen stores should be optimised to go into your race so you can perform your best.

Hot tips:

  • Remember to taper your training up to race day otherwise you won’t see the benefit of the carbo loading
  • I find carbo loading can make you feel gluggy and lethargic. If you aren’t used to eating a lot of carbs alter your diet to incorporate more carbs prior to race week. If you are doing long training runs you’ll need to do that anyway.
  • Make sure you have a fuelling plan during the race so you can keep hold on to those glycogen stores.

Good luck!

Ten reasons I run

We all have different passions, hobbies and things we love. I’ve run for 18 years in one way or another and still love it now as much as the day I started. So why do I run?

  • The feeling after a great run; there’s nothing like it. I feel alive and pumped and de-stressed; running is a great time for thinking or zoning out
  • Fitness – no doubt about it; you burn about 600 calories in a 10km run (depending on speed, weight etc.)
  • Strength – after I have done an interval session I feel strong and I am training my heart to work harder
  • The itch/ buzz I feel  edgy if I miss my run; I need to go and smash out some km’s
  • Legs – yes you might have slightly larger calves and quads but boy are they toned! And as for your butt!

chocolate - great running food

  • Metabolism – again interval sessions help with this but you can increase your metabolism for 4 to 6 hours following a run. That means I can eat…chocolate, and experts say it’s good for you (ok dark chocolate and perhaps not a whole 200g bar in one sitting)
  •  Flexibility. I can run when I want and where I want; no gyms needed. Just put on your kit and you’re away
  • Bragging rights – I have pub and dinner party stories from my marathons. Endless stories!
  • Technical stuff. I can spend money on heart rate monitors, download my times and be a little bit geeky
  • Lycra and running kit – running means I get to laze about in my running kit a lot which is wonderfully comfortable
  • Ok so this is my 11th point but it’s a really important one. Races and fun runs. They are brilliant and motivating. You get to see other runners and push yourself; if you’re lucky you also get a goody bag and shiny medal at the end!

What other reasons do people have for running?