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?

Orange, Chocolate and Sweat – Three Tops Tips to Fuel your Football Game

Chocolate and Oranges - how they can change your game

I so love the start of the footy season. The anticipation of a new beginning and a clean slate, the sound of the siren cutting through the slight crispness in the air and the whack of a boot connecting with the ball.

This past Easter weekend has marked season kick-off for Australian Rules Football.  One eyed supporters all over the country have breathed a collective sigh of relief that finally, their beloved game is back.

Having worked as the Sports Dietitian for the Fremantle Dockers for six years means that my favourite colours on the paddock are simple and easy to remember. Purple and white.  That is all.

This time of the year gets me thinking about what the players will be doing before, during and after the game because I know they have quite a routine to follow. Fortunately, professional football players are blessed with fantastic support and access to sports nutrition expertise.

But the thing is, this does not apply to the almost half a million junior and senior players who run out onto the field every weekend between March and September. As a result, many of these players and their families have lots of questions about how to fuel themselves or their kids and there are three questions that I often get asked.  The answers to each of them can easily be applied to any sport.

1.  Should I eat a chocolate bar prior to playing a game of football?

A 50g plain chocolate bar has a medium Glycemic Index (GI) of 49 and contains 15 grams of fat. Fat slows down the emptying of the stomach and therefore digestion and these factors combined mean that chocolate is best enjoyed at a time not associated with exercise.

Some of you will remember the television advertisement that was aired in the 1980s for Mars Bars®. The theme song contained lyrics suggesting that Mars Bars® helped you ‘work, rest and play’. There was definitely a sports theme to the advertisement and over time, this has led to the belief that chocolate is a good pre-game snack. Great advertising – but not so great for your body!

Any pre-exercise snack or meal should provide you with sustained energy to perform the activity to the best of your ability, and be easily digested. The food should be mostly carbohydrate with a small amount of protein and minimal fat. Ideally the food should be of low to medium Glycemic Index and consumed 1 ½ to 2 hours prior to the game or event.

Some healthy low-fat pre-game snacks include: cereal and milk, toast with baked beans or spaghetti, bread or toast with low-fat spread, Up and Go® drink or Sustagen Sport®, creamed rice and fruit and low-fat muesli bars.

2.  Does eating an orange assist performance during sport?

In Australian sporting culture the orange (neatly cut into quarters of course) has long been a part of weekend sport and something to look forward to at half-time. Eating an orange will provide you with some fluid, Vitamin C, and a small amount of carbohydrate (an average orange contains approximately 110 mL of water and 10 grams carbohydrate) so go ahead and enjoy one!

3.  Can athletes drink more alcohol than the average person because they will ‘sweat it off’ the next day?

In short – no. On average your body can process one standard drink of alcohol per hour through your liver. This does depend on quite a few factors including age, gender, body mass, drinking experience and food eaten and may be more or less accurate, accordingly. This is true of athletes and non-athletes alike.

It is true that after a heavy drinking session you can often smell alcohol on one’s body, but it is generally bad breath, not alcohol being excreted through sweat. In the mid 1980s, two sports medicine experts made an interesting assessment on the nutritional knowledge of a group of elite athletes in Australia. Twenty-six percent of the athletes believed that alcohol contained no kilojoules, reduced inhibition and actually improved their performance. Wrong! Drinking alcohol before a game or any exercise increases the risk of dehydration and injury, and more than likely very ordinary performance on the day.

It would be interesting to see how much that perception has changed but given that the sports culture in Australia still encourages alcohol consumption in the name of team spirit and friendship, perhaps the change has not been significant.

You can find more practical and expert advice plus free downloadable fact sheets from Sports Dietitian’s Australia.