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!

3 ways to make exercise fun again

Making Exercise Fun Before I start complaining about my lack of motivation to exercise based on the wet, cold and dark, I will acknowledge that I do live in Perth and that our cold weather is not exactly the same as other colder, wetter places. However, it’s all relative isn’t it?  At 5.30am my fingertips and ears still lose all circulation the minute I hit the frosty air and I can’t see where I am going through the inky darkness that surrounds me. So I am guessing that you get where I am at right now with propelling my body into action?  And yes, you would be correct in thinking that I have lost that loving feeling on every exercise front. Part of my job is to motivate other people, so I have been casting around in my own head as to what tactics I can employ to spark that flame of exercise excitement. In the process of doing this, I realised that the inspiration was right in front of me.  My three kids. They get their heart rate up all the time through so many different activities, but they don’t think about it as exercise, just fun. As they are the role models for fun, the next logical step was to consult with them to brain storm how I was going to start making exercise ‘yay’ again.  Drum roll please…the team came up with Three Ways to make exercise fun again and they might just appeal to you too:

1. Get Skippy My own Dad has always been an avid skipper and taught my siblings and I the techniques and tricks with the rope as soon as we could jump. I even won the 100m skipping event in my primary school sports carnival so I am ALL over skipping.  That is, I thought I was until I picked up the rope again.  I was immediately reminded that it is a great cardio exercise that engages your arms, core and legs and can improve bone density, coordination and balance.  Try and throw in a couple of two-minute bursts of skipping each day and you will benefit hugely. It is worth investing in a decent skipping rope and don’t forget to keep your knees slightly bent to avoid jarring knees and backs but there is no need to hurdle over the rope either, small jumps and good form are the ticket. 2. Be a tramp Like so many families with young kids, we have a trampoline in the backyard and I literally have to walk no more than 10 steps from the back door to get on it. NASA claim that the health benefits of trampolines significantly outweigh the benefits of running in that we can burn calories 15% more efficiently doing the bounce instead of pounding the pavement. Great news. But that’s not all. The action of using a trampoline helps to strengthen the tendons, ligaments and muscles around the joints and really helps engage our core muscles. And let’s not forget the increased blood flow to brain and body, firing up our mental alertness and assisting us to get warm when the days are a little on the brisk side.  Even in Perth. 3.  Hello Hula Keeping the old hula hoop where it should be on ones hips is really not one of my fortes, which I have been told many times by the ones who do know how. It is certainly a playground favourite but research shows that hula hooping compares with boot camp, aerobics and cardio kick-boxing in the fitness stakes.  Studies have found that flinging that hoop around has the potential to strengthen the muscles in your back, arms, abdomen and legs and improve balance and flexibility.  I figure that the less skilled you are at keeping that hoop in the right place, the more energy you will burn.  That bit is my own research and I am standing by it.

Lets hope these playground exercises get me going – I do think they will. What about you?  Do you have any playground activities that you use to put the fun back into exercise?