Martin Yelling’s Long Run Home

Martin Yelling’s Long Run Home

We’re proud to be backing today’s stage of the Long Run Home and donating money to Martin Yelling’s chosen charities (see below).

So far Martin has run 133 miles in four days and today he’ll cover a total of 32 miles between Crackington Haven and Padstow. Martin’s goal for the long run home goal is to run the entire South West Coast path, a total of 630 miles in  21 days.

Check out where Martin’s running, by clicking on the image below.

Martin Yelling's Long Run Home
Martin Yelling’s Long Run Home

We’re supporting Martin who is running the south west coast path for three charities he cares about: The Southmead Hospital Charity, Julia’s House and MacMillan Cancer Support. You can too sponsor Martin at: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MartinYelling128.

Martin sets off Martin and runner

For more action today:

* Stage discussion: https://www.facebook.com/events/1048183521933746/
* Live tracking of Martin for every stage: http://live.opentracking.co.uk/longrunhome/

 

Common energy zappers

Common energy zappers

On our soon to be launched Dashboard, we ask you every day what your energy levels are like to get an overall picture of your health and wellness. Feeling Tired All The Time (TATT) is one of the most common reasons people visit their GPs, and as many as one in five report feeling unusually tired with one in 10 have prolonged fatigue, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Here, health journalist Jo Waters explores the most common reasons for depleted energy. 

Lack of sleep and poor quality sleep

  • Not enough sleep: Sleep is often the first casualty for busy people so try and get enough – adults aged 18 to 64 need seven to nine hours, according to the US National Sleep Foundation.
  • Obstructive sleep apnoea: If you’re waking feeling groggy and with headaches even after 7 to 9 hours of sleep , it’s possible you have sleep quality problems due to obstructive sleep apnoea. This is where your airways momentarily collapse for a few seconds several times a minute, depriving you of oxygen while you sleep. You might not even be aware of it (or you may wake up others with your snoring!). See a doctor for an assessment.
  • Insomnia: If you suffer from problems getting to and staying asleep, avoid day time naps, exercising too close to bedtime, caffeinated drinks in the evenings and deal with sources of stress and pain that wake you. 

Poor diet and vitamin/mineral deficiencies

Eating a balanced diet providing you with enough calories and a full range of vitamins and minerals from all food groups is crucial for energy levels, as is not skipping meals.

  • Lack of iron: Iron-deficiency anaemia is caused by a lack of iron in the diet due to low levels of haemoglobin (red blood cells) which carry oxygen around the body. Women below the age of the menopause are particularly at risk if they have heavy periods, as well as pregnant women. Runners may also be at risk of anaemia because the impact of the foot on hard surfaces causes red blood vessels to burst, a condition called foot stroke haemolysis. Ask your GP for a blood test to check your iron levels. Rich sources of iron in food include red meat, leafy green vegetables, eggs and dried apricots. Boost iron absorption by drinking a vitamin C-rich juice at meal times, but avoid tea and coffee because this can inhibit it.
  • B12 deficiency: Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include extreme tiredness, lack of energy, depression and muscle weakness. The most common cause is pernicious anaemia where your immune system attacks healthy cells in your stomach, preventing absorption of vitamin B12. B12 deficiency is also more common in people who eat a vegan diet (no meat, fish or dairy products). You may need B12 injections or supplements to pep up your B12 levels.

Common medical causes of tiredness

  • Type 2 diabetes: An estimated 594,000 people in the UK have undiagnosed diabetes where the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to function properly or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin. Symptoms include tiredness, weight loss, thirst and passing large amounts of urine. Your GP can run blood tests to check your sugar levels. If diagnosed early you may be able to control your diabetes with diet and exercise alone, but some patients also need medication.
  • Underactive thyroid: This is where your thyroid gland doesn’t make enough of a hormone called thyroxin for a healthy metabolism. Symptoms may include feeling tired, muscle aches, thinning hair, sudden weight gain, dry skin and a hoarse voice. See your GP to arrange for a thyroid function test. If diagnosed you’ll need to take thyroxine tablets.

Psychological causes of tiredness

Stress, anxiety or depression can make life feel like a struggle and sap your energy as well as affect your sleep. See your doctors to talk about your feelings you may need to be referred for a talking therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy or need a course of antidepressants.

Too much or too little exercise

If you’re training remember to have regular rest days and to plan your exercise so you don’t overdo it. Exercising generally though should leave you feeling more energised. A University of Georgia study found healthy adults who began exercising lightly, three days a week for just 20 minutes reported higher energy levels and less tiredness after six weeks.

 

5 Ways to kick start motivation

5 Ways to kick start motivation

You’ve committed to getting fitter and healthier, and you are full of enthusiasm at the moment, but you have a track record of dropping out and are worried it will happen again – here’s how you can stay on track.

  1. Set yourself a goal: Setting a goal gives you an end to your plan of action. A well-known longitudinal study of Harvard graduates found that those who had clearly defined, written, goals were the ones who went on to achieve the greatest success.
  2. Find something you enjoy: Eating plans and exercise can seem like a chore. But finding something you love to do is simple, running or dog walking, tennis or even gardening are all great ways to exercise. Cooking is fun and experimenting with healthy nutrients and ingredients can be as enjoyable as the eating!
  3. Make healthy your default setting: New research has found the most consistent exercisers are those who made it into a specific type of habit – such as jumping out of bed automatically when they hear their alarm and heading for the gym. The aim is to make being healthy your default setting so you don’t have to think about it. Plan andyou’re your workouts, record what you eat, and the nutrients you take in. Be as methodical and practical as you would work meetings or social events – that way they’ll actually happen.
  4. Tell people what you’re doing: Good friends will want to encourage you on your getting healthier plans (and some may even join you – so even better). If you’ve made a public commitment, you’ll have more motivation to carry on and earn their praise. Setting up a Just Giving sponsorship page for a charity event can be a great motivator too, once people have donated money for your chosen charity you’ll have the added incentive of not wanting to let them down.
  5. Track your progress: Whether it’s a wearable, a phone app, or simply a pen and paper, tracking your health and fitness progress and using data, stats and graphs will get you to your goal. faster

Staying motivated

  • Dangle the carrot: If you respond to bribery, promise yourself rewards for your exertions. If you meet a friend for a Saturday morning class – why not have a coffee and catch-up/beer and watch the match afterwards?
  • Download some music for workouts: We all have our favourite songs that make us run that bit faster or dig in the cross trainer with more oomph. Load them onto your i-Pod and enjoy.
  • Work with your body clock: Are you an owl or a lark? Is it realistic for you to get up an hour earlier and run before work to or will you find it easier to pop to the gym after work? If neither are realistic (particularly tough for working parents), think about how you can fit more exercise into your daily routine – brisk walks at lunchtime, walking all or part of the way to or from work and then maybe some classes and a long run at the weekend may be the best solution.
  • Eat to suit your day: Don’t believe you have to rigidly stick to one particular time of day to eat. Research has found if you are under-eating or over-eating for your needs, your performance and recovery and management of your weight will all be affected. What matters is the nutrients you get in over your day, so manage eating plans to suit your lifestyle.
  • Talk to an expert: An assessment of your fitness and nutrition goals are worth the investment. An expert can give you a fresh perspective and advise you on how train, and what to eat.

How to be mindful

How to be mindful

Are you permanently stressed–out, constantly mulling over the past and worrying endlessly about the future? Do you lie in bed fretting – just wishing your mind would go quiet so you can sleep? Many of us in the 21st century live in a heightened state of anxiety, chasing our own tails, unable to relax and enjoy what is happening in the moment, living inside our own heads and failing to notice what is all around us.

Mindfulness is a mental health toolkit designed to teach people to live in and enjoy the moment, putting aside your troubles from the past and not fretting about what lies ahead.

Some describe mindfulness as treating yourself more kindly or teaching you to rediscover your joie de vivre. Of course it’s now a new idea – we’ve all heard the expression “smell the roses” and the concept of enjoying and learning to live in the moment is the basis of ancient Buddhism.

If you apply it to physical exercise – for example, running – it’s about becoming more aware of your body in the moment, of each step you take, concentrating on your feet and how they feel and focusing on your breath, so you are in the moment, enhancing your enjoyment.

Does it work?

If mindfulness sounds a bit hippy–dippy–summer–of–love–ish – be reassured it is an approach that’s underpinned by a solid basis in scientific research. The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence recommends mindfulness as a way of preventing depression in people who have had three or more bouts of depression. Research has shown it as effective as antidepressants.

The benefits of mindfulness in preventing serious depression and emotional distress have been proven by 10 clinical trials, according to the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, based at Oxford University.

Having said that it’s not a one-size-fits-all cure for depression and anxiety in everyone and research is still ongoing into who benefits most from mindfulness.

Also it’s not just a treatment for people with clinical depression – it can be a useful approach for anyone who is stressed out, rushing around and at risk of burnout as a way of “checking-in” with yourself and what’s going on around you. You don’t have to be stressed or ill to benefit from the strategies it can teach you to live with more appreciation and less anxiety.

What are you taught?

You’re encouraged to:

  • Reconnect with your body and the sensations you experience.
  • To make a conscious effort to be aware of the sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment – come off auto pilot in other words.
  • Remind yourself to notice your everyday surroundings – sometimes it’s suggested you do this at a set time of day – but it doesn’t have to be sitting cross-legged on the floor – it could be sitting on a train to work or a few minutes sitting in your garden or other quiet place.
  • Name your thoughts and feelings – for instance be able to recognise a negative thought – like a cloud in the sky or a bus passing by – without necessarily being affected by it.

How can I learn to be mindful?

Sessions are typically offered in a group situation and last eight weeks and include meditation and breathing exercises and are available through the NHS in some areas. But there are also free online courses that have been scientifically validated.

There also books and CDs to guide, such as Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Dr Danny Penman (available from Amazon £10.49 ) which comes with an accompanying CD with meditation exercises.

  • Find out more by watching this YouTube lecture by Professor Mark Williams of Oxford University’s Oxford Mindfulness Centre.

Sleep and why it matters

Sleep and why it matters

It’s amazing how even the fittest, healthiest people who eat well and make the effort to work out can neglect their sleep needs.

Busy people often cut back on sleep when under pressure – failing to realise sleep issues can lead to long term health problems such as an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and even dementia, as well as short term drowsiness and tiredness.

But there are more subtle effects too – including the effects on higher executive function –  the higher level cognitive skills you need for planning, problem-solving and working memory. This can lead you to being under par at work. Sleep deprivation can also affect your self-control, emotions and decision-making.

Why sleep quality matters too

It’s not just sleep quantity that matters – but sleep quality too. If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) – where your airways momentarily collapse for a few seconds several times a minute, depriving you of oxygen while you sleep – you might not even be aware of it, but it’s interfering with your body’s metabolic processes. This can raise your blood sugar and blood pressure and lead to weight gain, heart disease and diabetes.

If you snore and suffer daytime sleepiness you could have undiagnosed OSA, so it’s important to get tested and treated. Other risk factors for sleep apnoea include being overweight, having a thick neck, smoking and having a large tongue or large tonsils or adenoids.

Why your body needs sleep

We spend a third of our life asleep, but don’t think of it as time wasted.  When you’re sleeping your blood pressure drops, breathing slows down and the body goes to work on  repairing and rebuilding tissue. Sleep is also the time when hormones are released which are essential for growth and muscle development and the regulation of ghrelin and leptin,  the “hunger” hormones which control appetite (sleep deprived people tend to eat more and gain weight). Cerebral spinal fluid is pumped more quickly throughout the brain during sleep, washing  out  waste so you wake up mentally refreshed.

How much sleep  do you actually need?

Mrs Thatcher famously got by on three hours sleep a night but most of us need a lot more  than that. After a two year study, the US National Sleep Foundation revised its recommendations in 2015 as to how many hours we need per night, as follows:

  • school age kids (six to 13): 10 to 13 hours;
  • teens (14 to 17): eight to 10 hours;
  • adults (18 to 64): seven to nine hours;
  • older adults (over 65): seven to eight hours.

What about power naps?

A short day time nap of under 40 minutes can refresh you – but nap for any longer and you may be raising your risk of metabolic syndrome, the medical name for a number of symptoms that can lead to heart disease including high blood pressure, excess fat around your middle and high blood sugar and cholesterol, according to new research from the University of Tokyo.

How to sleep better

Unfortunately, insomnia, difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep long enough to feel refreshed, affects one in three people.

But there are some simple ways to sleep better including:

  • Sticking to a set time for bedtime and getting up – even at weekends and on holiday.
  • Keeping your bedroom cool and dark with no light pollution, a comfortable mattress and pillows.
  • Practising a winding-down routine with a warm bath, relaxing music and a milky drink before bedtime.
  • Saving worrying for daylight hours. Write down what’s worrying you and block it out when you’re in bed.
  • Avoiding heavy meals, too much alcohol and smoking for two to three hours before bedtime.
  • Getting treatment for medical conditions that wake you at night including joint pain, restless legs syndrome, cramps and nocturnal trips to the loo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get in shape for 5K in 6 weeks

Get in shape for 5K in 6 weeks

Runner and writer Fiona Bugler picks out the key training runs to get you in shape for 5K this summer in just six weeks.

Summer is the time when many of us decide to run faster, or maybe even start running in the first place – and what a better distance to take on than the 5K? Events such as parkrun.org.uk (a free weekly 5K event held every Saturday morning at 9am at locations nationwide), have made taking on 5K accessible for all and extremely popular.

Training and racing at 3.1 miles are core to most training plans, from racing on the track to a marathon, as well as being a great way to boost your all-round aerobic fitness. Spending six weeks focussed on 5K training is perfect for boosting your running economy and your V02 Max (the amount of oxygen that reaches your working muscles and one of the key measures of aerobic fitness).

A 5K time is a benchmark and it provides you with a measure your speed endurance and a solid baseline from which you can assess the speed at which to do your shorter intervals (most are done at 5K pace), as well as predicting race times over other distances.

Over a six-week period, training for a 5K should include three to five runs a week: one to three speed sessions (one of which is a tempo run) and a long run as your core training sessions, plus if you would like to easy running or cross training. If you’re tired drop a speed session or your long run, or swap for an easy run. This can be the same if you’re a beginner or advanced, as speed and pace will be relative for you.

Speed sessions to try

For endurance and race pace training:

5 x 1K at goal race pace with 1 minute recovery.

For speed endurance:

8 x 400M with 90 second to 2 minute recoveries.

To sharpen up for that sprint finish:

10 to 20 x 200M with 100M walk recovery.

Tempo running

Once a week you can practice running comfortably hard, at ‘tempo’ or ‘threshold’ pace which builds up to race pace.

Run 3 miles, and every week up the pace:

Week one: 45 seconds a mile slower than your goal 5K pace.

Week two: 35 seconds slower than your goal 5K pace.

Week three: 25 seconds slower than your goal 5K pace.

Week four: 2 miles at 30 seconds slower and 1 to 2 miles at your goal 5K pace.

Week five: 2 x 1.5 miles at your goal 5K pace.

Week six: easy running or 3 x 1 mile at your goal 5K pace early in the week.

Long Run

It’s easy to forget that 5K races ask your body to tap into your aerobic engine. A weekly long run of 90 minutes plus will boost your V02 Max which means you can provide your working muscles with the oxygen it needs to perform well.

And the long run also helps get your body strong for running, developing muscles, tendons, ligaments and even your bones. The more total running fitness you can gain, the better you will be at coping with the demands of faster intervals and threshold running which are essential components of a 5K schedule.

PACE A 5K

6 MINUTES PER MILE 18.38

7 MINUTES PER MILE 21.45

8 MINUTES PER MILE 24.51

9 MINUTES PER MILE 27.58

10 MINUTES PER MILE 31.04

11 MINUTES PER MILE 34.10

12 MINUTES PER MILE 37.16

COMING SOON: AMPLIFY’S DASHBOARD AND FREE TRAINING SCHEDULES FOR 5K, 10K, HALF MARATHON AND MARATHON.

Be the best you can be NOW

Stay in the moment, take small steps and make minor daily adjustments to exercise and your life, and you can be your fittest you, today – and every day. Fiona Bugler shows you six ways to be a better you…

167625444

  1. Find the right time for your training. For those lifting weights you’ll have more power in the evening, and to burn fat, it’s great to train in the morning. Work out before you eat (i.e. in a fasted state) and there will be a small increase in the amount of fat you burn. That’s because blood sugar, insulin and glycogen levels are all lower than normal after an overnight fast. And when it comes to morning training, it’s just great to get it done!
  2. Positive self-talk. The ‘psychobiological’ model says that the brain has as big an influence on how hard, and how long you can train, as your physiological state.Scientists at the University of Kent put the theory to the test when they examined a small sample of healthy adults and got them to cycle to exhaustion, repeatedly. They took all the relevant measurements then sent the group away for two weeks, with one half the group being told to talk to themselves in training, with phrases such as ‘You’re doing well’. Two weeks later this group cycled for longer and it felt easier than before, whereas the other group remained the same.
  3. Smile when you train. Smiling when you run can help to release tension in the neck and shoulders, and relieve stress, and doing this can mean you’ll perform better in training, and subsequently get fitter – and don’t just grin, smile big! A study from 2010 analysed baseball cards from 1952 and found that the players with the biggest, widest smiles, lived longer, happier, more successful lives. Find you’re more likely to grimace than smile? Dance, play, do an obstacle race, train with friends – have fun! Studies show simple things like good music can make a difference to how enjoyable exercise is and are more likely to keep you smiling.
  4. Train with your friends. It’s much more motivating to train with friends, as well as being more fun, training with others means you’re more accountable and studies have found that group training is associated with adherence. Work together, try something new each month, and mix up your plans so that you can all play on your strengths and develop your weaker areas.
  5. Get a gadget and record your progress. From heart rate monitors, to lifestyle gadgets that record your steps, your eating, your sleep hours, there’s now no excuse not to keep track of where you’re going and keep your fitness in mind all day long. Research shows that tracking what you do gets results.
  6. Breathe, stretch, relax… A total body approach to your fitness training will mean you get results quicker. If you’ve trained hard set aside time to release the muscles you’ve worked. As well as stretching, iron out the fascia (a web-like tissue beneath your skin) with a foam roller, a physio ‘stick’ or another ‘myofascial’ release tool. Take 10 minutes at the end of the day to breathe deeply, and meditate so you can tune into your body and ‘listen’ to how it’s responding to the exercise you’re putting it through.