Running for a Reason – What’s yours?

If you are a running enthusiast, autumn and winter in Australia provides you with a veritable smorgasbord of events to try your legs at. I love the fact that anyone can run at any time, in any city of the world. It is a great way to see the sights (even if it is just your neighbourhood), get some fresh air in your lungs and work through your daily strategy. Over the next few months, in Australia and in fact anywhere in the world you can choose from a running menu of 4km, 12km, Half Marathon (21.1km) or the Marathon (42.2km). If you thinking about participating in any of these events, now would be a good time to start thinking about what petrol you are going to use. Yes, I know lots of people don’t bother with the training or preparation for ‘Fun Runs’ but doing so certainly puts the FUN back into them and enables you to walk and function after all that fun.

Your preparation does require some thought with regards to fuel consumption. Do you want to be a BMW or a clapped out rattletrap? Now is not the time to be indulging in takeaway for dinner or skipping meals and certainly not getting stuck into the vino the night before training. Let’s leave that till afterwards shall we?

Right now, many people in Perth, Western Australia are counting the sleeps down to the Perth HBF Run for a Reason this weekend.

A 4km or 12km run does not require carbohydrate loading but what you eat and drink in the 24 hours beforehand is important as it basically fills up your petrol tank for the next day.

Your day might look like this…….

Breakfast – high fibre cereal with fresh fruit and low fat milk or crumpets with peanut butter and banana
Lunch – wholegrain bread or bread roll with lean ham/chicken/beef or tuna and salad plus fresh fruit
Dinner – pasta or rice with a chicken or beef tomato based sauce plus a green salad
Snacks like yoghurt, fruit, crackers and cheese might get a guernsey too.

One thing that I find challenging is recovery. This means making sure that I eat or drink something containing carbohydrate and protein within 15-30 minutes after I finish training or competing. It is SO easy to waste that crucial recovery time doing something else like talking, getting yourself and others ready for work and school or just generally faffing about. Your blood is flowing quickly after exercise and there are enzymes ready and waiting to pick up some petrol to transport back to cells and assist your muscle recovery. You might just need a ‘transition’ snack before your next meal to get your recovery happening and its best to look for 50g of carbohydrate combined with 10-15g protein in this snack.

Some options include:

Up and Go Energize drink
Sustagen Sport drink
Goodness Superfoods muesli bar or Go Natural protein bar plus a glass of milk
1 cup low fat milk combined with 2 tablespoons skim milk powder
1 small tub low fat yoghurt with a banana
Handful of nuts with a banana

Paying attention to your recovery after running will dramatically improve your energy levels, improve the quality of your training sessions and get you prepped for the next ‘fun run’.

Now all you have to do is run like the wind!

Lacing up with the Perth Run Collective

I have become part of something that is pretty darn special. This ‘thing’ is all about having fun, staying healthy and fit and joining a bunch of other people all on the same page. Last year, lululemon athletica started up a Perth Run Collective in the city, designed to encourage people to run for fitness while having fun at the same time. A novel concept some may say but this collective has been a huge success and continues to grow like a beautiful weed. On the back of this, it made perfect sense to get this baby out into the ‘burbs and last weekend the northern suburbs got the lululemon Perth Run Collective cranking, with over 30 peeps from beginners to competent runners taking part in the first week of the Winter Reset program.

In the world of exercise and health being part of a collective is something that I feel super passionate about.

Our first lesson in preventative health happens in kindergarten when we are allocated a ‘buddy’ to do an activity, go to the bathroom, walk between classrooms or cross the road together. Buddies keep an eye on each other, look out for danger and yell for help if it is needed.

Fast forward to life as an adult and many people in first world countries need help with their health. Although the prevalence of obesity and lifestyle diseases is skyrocketing, just 2% of the Australian state and federal budgets is spent on preventative health with the bulk of the health budget spent on the treatment of disease. Treatment of disease is vital and often urgent but far more costly than prevention. It is interesting that this type of imbalance also occurs within our own group of friends and family. When someone that we love or care for becomes seriously unwell or incapacitated everyone mobilizes to get them better or out of hospital and this is key to their recovery and the crowded hospital system. Yet, how much time do we spend encouraging or enabling the same people to prevent sickness in the first place? The buddy system that we had as kids could be a very effective strategy to improve and maintain our health as adults.

I love to exercise and while I invest time on a daily basis, I also know that I am not as good left to my own devices. Regardless of my best intentions, my alarm clock and I are not the best of friends. I know that for my exercise routine to run smoothly and without incident, I need to have a weekly schedule of exercise sessions locked in and matched up with a buddy. Rachel, Belinda, Karin and Dave all have a special place in my week and they enable me to improve my fitness (hopefully I am doing the same for them too). Having an exercise buddy means increased motivation, faster progression (especially if they are faster or fitter than you), increased experimentation and knowledge, new and enhanced friendships and a good dose of fun.

Having an exercise buddy is a powerful motivator for me because I don’t want to let them down. My buddies and I agreed from the outset that rain is just water and unless hail or lightening is streaking across the sky, we are going. The added bonus of kicking off at the crack of dawn is that nobody else needs us. This is harder for those with young kids waking early but it can be an opportunity to combine strength training and cardio by pushing them in the pram.

Choosing an exercise buddy should be considered with great care. If you get the initial check right, it could be a long and healthy relationship but if not, your health and friendships could suffer.

What to look for in an exercise buddy:

  • Exercise goals that match
  • Commitment – when exercising alone, it is too easy to take your foot off the pedal. Without a buddy it is easy to tell yourself “Having one day off won’t hurt” or “I don’t feel like it.” If your exercise buddy is already on their way to meet you or is counting on you, you’re far less likely to do something like that.
  • Fitness level – it is essential that you choose someone at the same or slightly higher fitness level than you. My exercise buddies continually push me to go faster and harder which means improved fitness, strength and flexibility
  • Time available – ensure that you meet at a time with minimal distractions that suits both of you

I have come to realize that the value of an exercise buddy lies not just in health and fitness but can be so valuable in other areas of your life. Exercise buddies can spend a lot of time together over the journey and often talk about things other than exercise. Solving the issues of the world while enjoying the fresh air are medicine for the soul and, let’s not forget one of the greatest benefits, fun.

If you would like to be part of the inspiring lululemon athletica Perth Run Collective and find not one but a heap of buddies, you can join us Tuesday nights at 5.45pm at the Perth city store and/or Sunday mornings at 8.00am at Clarko Reserve, Karrinyup Road in Trigg.

What are you waiting for?

Sprint Finish

running sprint vs marathonA few nights ago I came to the end of my first month back at interval run training.  I say back, because prior to this, the last time I graced the springy grass track was over 10 years ago before I had kids.  It has hurt me big time, because for many years I have just been running. Training for 10, 21 and 42km events that have seen my pace pretty much stay the same.  Flatline. This year, I wanted to shake it up a bit and see if my legs could turn over a little faster. It seems they can. Going to intervals makes me anxious. I know its going to be hard and competitive. My heart and lungs will feel like they are about to jump out and run their own race.  But what gets me to the end of each gritty set, is the finish line and a short breather. These days we run our lives like a marathon event with no rest and no finish line in sight.  We just keep going without regularly stopping to recover and regroup, which dramatically impacts our quality of life and ability to stay at the top of our game. Research shows that our bodies work best with 90 minute cycles of work, followed by a brief break.  This means focusing on whatever your task may be for 90 minutes, reaching the finish line and then taking a 5 minute breather.  Your focus will be hugely improved, your energy levels will be stable and you will be amazed at what you can achieve.  It cuts down on distraction when you know there is a finish line just around the corner. Start thinking about your life as a sprint event not a marathon.  Sprinters give 100% because they can see the finish line.    

Run for a Reason

If you are a running enthusiast, autumn and winter in Australia provides you with a veritable smorgasbord of events to try your legs at. Having just braved the strong winds and sprinkling of rain in the Perth outdoors this morning I am totally pumped to talk about it. I love the fact that anyone can run at any time, in any city of the world. It is a great way to see the sights (even if it is just your neighbourhood), get some fresh air in your lungs and work through your daily strategy.  Over the next few months, in Australia and in fact anywhere in the world you can choose from a running menu of 4km, 12km, Half Marathon (21.1km) or the Marathon (42.2km). If you thinking about participating in any of these events, now would be a good time to start thinking about what petrol you are going to use.  Yes, I know lots of people don’t bother with the training or preparation for ‘Fun Runs’ but doing so certainly puts the FUN back into them and enables you to walk and function after all that fun. Your preparation does require some thought with regards to fuel consumption. Do you want to be a BMW or a Datsun 120Y? Now is not the time to be indulging in takeaway for dinner or skipping meals and certainly not getting stuck into the vino the night before training. I am personally preparing for the Perth HBF Run for a Reason to be followed up by the Perth Half Marathon and I recently wrote about some nutrition tips to use in training that you might find useful. One thing that I find challenging myself is to make sure that I eat or drink something containing carbohydrate and protein within 15-30 minutes after I finish training.  It is SO easy to waste that crucial recovery time doing something else like talking, getting yourself and others ready for work and school or just generally faffing about. Your blood is flowing quickly after exercise and there are enzymes ready and waiting to pick up some petrol to transport back to cells and assist your muscle recovery. You might just need a ‘transition’ snack before your next meal to get your recovery happening and its best to look for 50g of carbohydrate combined with 10-15g protein in this snack. Some options include:

  • Up and Go Energize drink
  • Sustagen Sport
  • Uncle Toby’s Bodywise bar plus a glass of milk
  • 1 cup low fat milk combined with 2 tablespoons skim milk powder
  • 1 small tub low fat yoghurt with a banana

Paying attention to your recovery will dramatically improve your energy levels and improve the quality of your training sessions.

The Last Supper

2 sleeps to go. Race day is looming and you need to know what to eat before you rush out the door to the start line.  While rushing make sure you factor stopping at the bowser 90-120 minutes before the gun goes off. Actually eating breakfast is the important thing.  Next is what you choose.  Around 100 grams of carbohydrate with some protein mixed in will be good prep for your running event.  This pre-race meal could be:

  • 1 cup cereal with milk and 1 banana
  • 2 slices of toast with jam or honey

If these options have you reeling, you could try a couple of crumpets or 2 slices of toast with banana or tinned spaghetti. If breakfast is not your thing, try an Up and Go or Sustagen Sport, it will still give you some petrol.  If you are not used to eating before an event or any exercise lasting longer than 1 hour, it may be too late to start for this weekend but embark upon training your stomach to accept food as soon as you can.  Its just like training any other body part. Just remember, Datsun 120Y or BMW? Imagine yourself crossing the finish line, arms raised in the victory position.  Sure, there will be much celebrating but don’t forget to recover and grab some sports drink or fruit within the first 15-30 minutes after you stop running.  Your blood is pumping and enzymes are at their peak, lying in wait to pick up carbohydrate and take it back home to your tired muscles and liver. Recovery mission complete, give yourself a pat on the pack.  Well done.

Load ’em up baby

Carbohydrate  loading.  Do you need it? Not for the 12 km but if you are trotting out for the 1/2 or full marathon, yes indeedy. Carb loading is effective for 24 hours prior to an event lasting longer than 2 hours and is calculated at a rate of 10 grams for each kg of body weight.  If you weigh 6okg then you are looking down the barrel at 600 grams of energy producing carbohydrate.

  • 2 cups cereal with 1-2 cups milk with 4 slices of toast with jam/honey
  • 4 tablespoons Sustagen Sport in 250ml milk with1 large cinnamon bun
  • 2 cups cooked rice or pasta with 150g meat/chicken or fish and vegetables or salad plus 1-cup jelly with fruit
  • 4 tablespoons Sustagen Sport in 250ml milk with 50 grams jelly beans
  • 150g meat, chicken or fish with 2 cups cooked pasta or rice plus veggies or salad
  • 1-cup jelly or custard with fruit

Carb loading always sounds so appealing on paper but is actually hard work in reality.  Boy, it makes a BIG difference on the day. Want to find out what to eat for breakfast on race day?  Check in tomorrow.