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Who has been your Olympic inspiration so far?

18 Aug

 

Well the Olympics have been and gone… but certainly not forgotten. In less than two weeks we have the Paralympics to look forward to which I have no doubt are going to be just as incredible.

There is still a huge buzz from the past two weeks, and I have already heard so many stories about how the games have inspired people to get out there and take part in sport, but will it last? I really hope so. For me, the Olympics demonstrated how ordinary people like you and me can achieve their dream with just a bit of dedication, determination and a goal.

My idol from the olympics so far has got to be Jessica Ennis and Charlotte Dujardin.

Above Inset: Jessica crossing the finish line.

Above inset: Charlotte and equally talented team mate Valegro

Two completely different sports, I know, but two sports I am personally very passionate about. I practice both sports and know how hard both sports are. At the level those two are at though, the hours of training and intensity involved must be unbelievable. Both athletes won gold. I am in complete admiration for both (and all of the other athletes too!) But for me, these two have given me a real focus and I know can help me achieve my own personal goals in both running and riding.

Its not easy to stay motivated though and there are times when our goals just seem so far away or almost impossible. If you stay focused and keep that goal in mind you CAN DO IT.

Here are some tips to make sure you stay focused:

1. Write down your goals. Put them up where you will see them everyday. I write my goals and stick them on our fridge at home. (I spend a lot of time in the fridge!) If you are having a bad day they can help keep you focused and there is nothing more satisfying than crossing them off once you have achieved them and planning the next one.

2. Set realistic goals. Don’t set yourself goals that you aren’t going to achieve, start small and think big. If you just run for 10 minutes then it is 10 minutes you might otherwise have spent on the sofa. I often find by 10 minutes, Im warmed up and I carry on anyway.

3. Sign up for that race today. Sign up to a race, whatever the distance, its a race and its a goal. Then tell ‘everyone’ you know about it, that way you will have to do it or you you will just look silly!

4. Imagine yourself at the Olympics! So your running along and you feel like stopping, you’ve had a long day at work and you just want to turn back, go home and put your feet up. Instead, why don’t you push yourself. Imagine yourself on the Olympic track in front of the worlds media, your country are cheering you on, ‘Come On!’ you can feel the crowd moving you along… Just a bit of imagination can get you over that finish line and it could be a PB.

5. Keep a diary of your achievements. Use map my run or a programme that can track all of your runs. That way you can see your progress over time. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing just how far you have run. If you are having a bad day… just look at how far you have come. You know you can do it.

6. Remember how lucky you are. After my riding accident last year when I was unable to run for a while it has made me realise just how lucky I am to still be able to do what I love. I never take running for granted.

7. Put your kit on. Once you put your running gear on, theres no turning back. Can you imagine how guilty you would feel if you had to take it all off and hadn’t bothered going out for a run? … So theres no excuse. Get your trainers on a get out there!

Have you got any tips you can share that keep you motivated?

Miles so far 683. 1,329 to go


Yorkshire to celebrate Olympic success with a welcome fit for heroes
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Running in Rhodes

12 Jul

I am currently taking a break in Rhodes, Greece and enjoying some sunshine and scenery, exploring the local areas during my daily runs. Our hotel is perfectly situated just on the edge of a town enabling me to escape the hustle and bustle and run along some fantastic empty stretches of beach and trails off the beaten track.

It’s not been easy though, the first day being the most challenging, as the recent English summer hasn’t exactly resulted in adapting to any runs enduring high temperatures and scorching sunshine.

Heat and humidity certainly have an effect on your overall energy levels and pace though but here are some useful tips to help you run in the heat.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Sarah M Willis. ‘A road to nowhere’ Rhodes 

Tips to Running in the Heat

1. Slow the pace. It takes about two weeks for your body to adapt to the heat and cool itself more efficiently. Slow your pace and reduce your intensity and get the run in rather than pushing through it.  Doing so will allow you to more efficiently acclimate and continue to run. Your body will gradually become better at cooling itself in the warmer weather allowing you to continue to run at your normal pace.

2. Work with the heat. Run by your effort level rather than your typical pace until you acclimate. If you are new to running, add power walk breaks every 4 to 8 minutes to cool yourself during your runs. It is all about managing your body core temperature and not allowing it to rise too much, risking overheating and really slowing down.

3. Accessorize. Wear light colored, loose fitting wicking running gear. Technical apparel will allow moisture to pass through them to be evaporated, keeping your cooler. Wear sunglasses that filter UVA and UVB rays, waterproof sunscreen, and a baseball cap to protect your skin and eyes from the sun. I can not run without my sunglasses.

4. Run early in the morning or late in the evening. If you run in the morning, you’ll avoid the heat, but may encounter a higher humidity. The air quality is also better in the morning, since ozone levels increase soon after dawn, peak at midday, and then again in the early evening. Times to avoid running are noon till 3pm.

5. Extreme measures. If there is a heat alert or poor air quality day, take your workout indoors. You won’t get any super-human reward for pushing in dangerous heat and it most likely will take your body longer to recover from the workout.

6. Drink plenty. For workouts shorter than 45 minutes, water works just fine. For longer runs, research suggests consuming about a cup of sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes to fuel your muscles and aid in maintaining electrolyte levels

 

Get ready, get steady… Go!

24 Jun

Today I successfully completed another Half Marathon as part of my 2012 miles in 2012; Malvern Half Marathon in aid of Acorn’s Children’s Hospice. It’s a race I have done before but this year the route was different. It was a disappointing route this year, and took us down some very long and mentally challenging roads, but was still a very well organised and enjoyable race. The marshals were fantastic.  Running in a race is such a different feeling to running a long weekend training run. Mainly because you are competing, and wanting to achieve a good time, but also for me personally it would be completely inconceivable to set out for a race and not complete the full distance.

 

 

So if you are thinking of running a race; whatever the distance, whether it is your first or 100th, here are ten useful tips to see you through.

1. Arrive in good time

Get everything ready the night before. From experience, there is nothing worse than arriving at a race and having to run to the start line, have no time to go the loo (nerves!) and adequately warm up.

2. Fill up on Fuel

You can’t run without fuel. This is a really important bit of advice, when I first started running I made this mistake too many times than I’d care to remember. I was lucky enough to always be in company, and luckily never fainted or anything but I have had to pay for it later. Feeling exhausted for the rest of the day.

You can’t run without fuel but eating too close to starting time can also make yourself poorly, causing cramps or stitch. Try to eat a carbohydrate-rich meal no later than one hour before your race.

3. Hydrate

For races over 10km many people will want to have a drink to stay hydrated. Do you prefer to run with a bottle? Or are you okay with taking drinks at water stations? Decide what you’re going to do, and train in the same way.

4. Check the weather

Check the weather for the day of your race. If its hot and sunny, make sure you will be wearing something cool. If it’s going to be cold or wet, make sure you have a waterproof. Wear something trusted, that’s comfortable and works for you,

5. Plan your race strategy

Its good to think first about how you are going to run your race. I would suggest starting off steady and then picking up the pace half way through. Negative splits. Always remember its your race and no one else’s.  Don’t run alongside someone’s else and try and keep up, they will have their own plan and it may not suit you and your training.

6. Don’t stress

Don’t stress. Its just a race, it’s the taking part that matters. You have got this far so why go and spoil your enjoyment by stressing. Easier said than done, I know. But seriously, try to see the bigger picture and enjoy it.

7. Use your fellow race goers to keep you going

No matter where you run your race at home or abroad, there is something about running in a race that seems to bring everyone together. Runners are friendly creatures! I have met so many people whilst running a race, and it can really help keep you going. When you’re feeling tired use the pace of other runners around you to keep going, you can also try encouraging each other. Another useful tactic is to pick out someone ahead of you and try to catch them, or just maintain the same distance between you.

8. Split the race

This really works for me. I try and imagine to race in sections. If I am running a half marathon I divide it into two 10k’s, for me this really works. Some may split it up even smaller, down to 5k’s. It somehow makes the distance feel less daunting. Try it.

9. Recruit some cheerleaders!

Run your race with a friend or ask friends or family to come along to support you. Having someone at the finish line or along the way will really give you a boost and is great encouragement if you start to feel tired.

10. Whether it’s your first race or your 100th enjoy it.

Whether you come first or last, you did it. Well done. If you didn’t finish in the time you wanted to, it doesn’t matter, isn’t it the taking part that matters? There’s always next time!

Does my bum look big in this?

19 May

Every time I go away on holiday my body hang-ups seem to manifest themselves ten fold. I obsess over every other female in a bikini comparing my own body size to theirs. I spent today trying to fit in as many laps in the pool as I could, thinking it might go some way to help ‘tone’ my body to look marginally similar to some of the size 8 bikini bodies I seem to be faced with everyday around the pool and on the beach. I have been left thinking that the majority of these women probably do not do anywhere near the mileage I do each and every week yet I will probably never look the way they do. Why? Genetics.

I am not afraid to admit my body insecurities, and sometimes feel if I am more open about them people might then ‘forgive’ my size. I often feel embarrassed to admit I run so much as people must think, ‘how can she she run that much and be that size.’  I know the way I am talking is as if I am a size 26, when in reality I am a size 10 -12, but in my ‘fat goggles’ I see a Hippo staring back at me.

The funny thing is, I could never eliminate food from my life to make myself look any thinner. I love food, and for me I know how important it is to fuel me on my runs. However it is important to control how much and what you eat. The heavier you are the harder it is to run.

I have been born with a ‘big frame’ something I will never be able to change. I will never have small hips, a small rib cage and a wasp like waist. That’s just not the way I have been built. Unfortunately. It doesn’t make me feel any better about myself though. I end up just staring at girls who have been blessed and wishing I looked like them. Both my sisters are two people whom have been blessed!

All I can do to ‘improve’ my body, is keep fit, stay trim and remain toned and controlling my portions. I still won’t be happy though. I think in some ways though this is often what keeps me putting my trainers on each time. If it works for me though and keeps me fit and healthy, then for now I will have to put up with it.

Staying Trim, eating thin 

There are a few things you can do though to ensure you stay trim, and many runners watch their portion sizes. Runners try to stop eating before they get too full. Runners make sure they eat slowly and pay attention to when they start to feel full.

What to Do:

Here are some tips to help you watch your portion sizes:

  • Get familiar with standard portion sizes. They may actually be smaller than you think. For example, three ounces of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. One serving size of pasta or rice is about the size of a tennis ball.
  • Eat slowly and eliminate distractions. You’re more likely to overeat if you’re not paying attention to what or how much you’re eating. Don’t eat in front of the TV or the computer. Chew slowly, you’ll enjoy your food more and eat less.
  • Try putting smaller amounts of food on your plate or using smaller plates. If you put more food in front of you, you’ll eat it because it’s there.
  • Eat your fruits and veggies first. They’re low in calories and they’ll fill you up, so you’ll be less tempted to eat more of the higher-calorie foods. For example, start your dinners with a salad and a low-calorie dressing.

All of these tips should go towards helping you stay trim, as running alone won’t work. I will keep running and trying to watch my portion sizes! And one day I’d like to look in the mirror and like the body that stares back at me.

Run like an Egyptian

13 May

Second day of my holiday in Egypt, fully equipped with my trainers and of course my beloved Garmin Forerunner watch so I can continue to track my mileage.

Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to run on the night we arrived. It was late and I wasn’t sure whether it was safe to run around in the dark in a foreign country. I thought I might be able to run a few miles on the treadmill in the gym but it has really unsociable opening hours – 8am to 8pm. Perhaps for some that’s long enough but we didn’t arrive until 10pm so I had no chance of a run. I must admit I haven’t yet braved the security of our resort, however I plan to tomorrow.

The last two days have been spent clocking up the miles on a treadmill but it is so boring and so much more like hard work and not what running is all about. I really enjoy bringing my trainers with me to new places, as it’s a chance to ‘really’ see a place. It seems Egypt is a popular place for running, deemed as the ultimate running destination. With countless marathons all over the country, so it seems in yet another country I am no alone in my passion for the sport! So far though I can’t say I have had the best experience of Egypt. Our resort is beautiful, grand and very Egyptian. A small number of the hotel staff are friendly, however the majority are just plain rude. I have had a similar experience before though, when my husband and I went to Morocco. A beautiful hotel but the staff let it down.

I was mortified to find the gym toilets and showers hadn’t been cleaned since yesterday. I will admit I took a picture of the ‘unclean’ shower, as it wasn’t how I would expect a 5 star hotel gym changing room to be. I was even more surprised to find that everything was just as it was yesterday. Clearly it had not been touched. I decided to take my incriminating picture on my phone to the hotel reception, which had just the desired result I was looking for. A promise that it will be cleaned by tomorrow morning, it will be interesting to see if this is so tomorrow following my run exploring the sights Egypt has to offer on my first run outside the resort.

Related articles

In Memory of Claire Squires

27 Apr

As a fellow runner, but no where near as special, beautiful, brave, strong and giving as Claire Squires, whom I will add I never had the pleasure of knowing. I would like to dedicate one of my posts in Run for 2012 to Claire Squires. It has almost been impossible to have not heard about this tragic story of a beautiful, courageous and strong woman who died very suddenly and unexpectedly after collapsing so close (less than a mile) to the finish of the London marathon on Sunday 15th April 2012.

Claire was running the London Marathon for The Samaritans, her chosen charity on behalf of her brother who sadly committed suicide a few years ago, her mother had also worked there. Claire had set up a Just giving page for her chosen charity, which she wrote “If everyone I know could donate £5, that would be a great help and change lives.”. Claire’s page has now raised more than £800,000.

Every time I have seen or read about this tragic story of this wonderful woman who is just a year younger than me I get a shiver and a tear for Claire. On Monday when I watched the news and heard about her death I did sit and cry. That could be me, you or anyone of our friends. When Claire’s best friend describes Claire I just think she was someone I only wish I could be. A very special person.

The Telegraph begun a recent article ‘Out of tragedy sometimes comes something extraordinary. The death of Claire Squires, the runner who collapsed during the final mile of the London marathon on Sunday, was an unspeakable tragedy. And yet, in the three days since her death, something amazing has occurred.’

 The generosity of people who never knew Claire who have donated to her chosen charity just goes to show how powerful something like this tragedy can be, and perhaps not just for ‘fellow’ runners, but for all of us. A beautiful, young and healthy woman is taken at the most unexpected time of her life doing something for others. Running a marathon is a HUGE achievement in itself, but Claire chose to run her marathon for a charity and just look what a difference she has made. I just hope she is watching.

Tens of thousands of anonymous donors have pledged between £2 and £250 in her memory, identifying themselves only as “fellow runner” or by their race number. “You are an inspiration,” wrote one. “My medal is for you.”

Claire was the 10th person to die during the London marathon in the event’s 31-year history. Unlike many of the others, however, she had no history of heart disease. She had recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for charity and ran the same marathon in 2010. I hope this doesn’t scare people into choosing ‘not’ to run, as running is something I know I could not live without now. I am sure Claire would have agreed with this too. I am just so, so sorry she had to die, but she died doing something she loved, whilst making a difference to so many lives. Her family and friends must be so proud of her.

I plan to do the London Marathon next year and I will definitely be thinking about Claire Squires when I cross that finish line next year.

The support for Claire’s fund-raising from everyone has hopefully helped her family focus on something positive in the days after her death. Their daughter gave everything she had, the least we can do is give back what we can.

Please go to Claire’s Fundraising page and give her something back that she gave to so many others:

http://www.justgiving.com/Claire-Squires2

My run so far: 354.18 miles

1657.82 miles left to go …a long way.

I’ve got my mojo back!

26 Apr

 

I’ve got my mojo back! The chiro has been fantastic and I am feeling much stronger already. The core work she gave me to do has really help and I have been given a really great programme at my gym to start focusing me on strengthening my glutes, hamstrings and core. I am also working more on my upper body as this is often neglected by runners but still just as important. For me it is also partly a vanity thing, I have never liked my arms so the exercises I have been doing will hopefully start making a difference.

Running really is a science, and I don’t think I have really appreciated how much before my Chiro started to give me exercises to improve my posture and core. I can honestly say i have already felt the difference with my running, especially hill running.

You might not think runners are the most likely athletes to be in the gym hitting the weights, many top Olympian runners strength train on a regular basis as part of their training. In conjunction with building strength through weights, building your core has endless benefits to your form. A strong core allows you to relax your legs and balance with ease. If you’re looking to increase speed, a strong core is important.A strong core also improves balance and coordination on unlevelled terrain.
Here are some recommended strength training and core exercises you can try:
1. Step-ups
Step-ups work the legs in a manner similar to running, making them a good strength exercise for runners. 
Stand in front of a weight bench, box or other stable platform. Step one foot on to the top of the platform and then use that leg to quickly lift the rest of your body up. Step back down to the ground and then repeat for six to eight reps. Do two to three sets on each leg.
2. The Bridge Exercise
This exercise strengthens your core and helps add stability to your pelvis so that it can maintain holding a level position.
Lie flat on the floor head facing the ceiling and fix your eyes on one spot on the ceiling. Now lift your bottom and back and hold yourself up with your legs. Try and hold the position for 10-30 seconds and try 2/3 times.
3. The Leg lift
Try this using a ball or a chair (a ball will give the opportunity to also work on your balance, finding your core and maintaining balance through your core.) By practicing this exercise, you will strengthen your lower abs and core, which will support the leveling of your pelvis during all levels of your running.

So start by sitting square with fit shoulder width apart and lift your leg straight out and hold for 30 seconds, try this twice on each leg.
You can also try lifting your leg with your knee bent.