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Virtual Running Benefits

Virtual Running Benefits

The period of lockdown resulting from the pandemic has changed the look and feel of many parts of our day to day life, including hobbies, activities and so much more.

This is also true for running, where many large events have opted to go virtual instead of being delivered in person.

But running virtually can be a great thing, allowing runners a tangible goal during an uncertain time – as well as grabbing some goodies along the way!

We’ve put together our list of the top 4 benefits of running virtually.

1. New Motivation

Let’s face it; motivation during the past 12 months has been harder to come by than usual. Not knowing what the future holds has had a real impact on our way of living, socialising, exercising – everything.

So having a virtual event to look forward to can be hugely important to your motivation levels. Being able to set a goal and follow a training schedule gives you something to aim for and can help create good habits, even after the event is over. Virtual running actually produces two really important aspects for effective behavioural change – accountability and incentive.

2. You’re in Charge

One of the best things about a virtual event – you’re in charge! You get to decide what your event day run looks and feels like. Do you want to breathe in nature? Go for it. Want to jog around your local park 10 times? Why not. Want to run laps around your garden? Be our guest. The only thing you need to worry about is completing the distance of your chosen event, the rest is up to you.

3. Community Feeling

Even though we won’t be together in person, that doesn’t we won’t be together in spirit! Unfortunately, guidelines have dictated over the last 12 years that crowds should be avoided. So when else will you be able to join other like-minded runners, all trying to achieve a similar goal?! As soon as you put your race number on and head out the front door on your event day, you join the #bigfunrun family and become part of something much bigger.

4. Swag

If we’re being honest with ourselves, one of the best things about running an event is the kit you receive afterwards. If you don’t Instagram the medal once you’re finished, did you even run the race?!

But completing a virtual run is a huge accomplishment in itself, and you deserve to have that achievement commemorated with some great goodies.

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It’s time to put the kettle on

It’s time to put the kettle on

Just milk, no sugar please.

It’s safe to say that home workouts have rocketed over the past few months with many people working from home and gyms being closed. Sales of kettlebells have gone through the roof, but how do you put them to best use for your running training? 

Research has found that kettlebell training significantly boosts aerobic capacity, improves core strength and dynamic balance. This simple piece of equipment can develop muscular endurance, strength, power and cardiovascular capacity – all of which contribute to making you a better runner.

We’ve detailed some exercises below which you can incorporate into your home workout routine.

1. Squats

Squats are brilliant for building up the quads, hamstrings & glutes – muscles which all runners use in abundance! 

Hold the kettlebell in both hands and squat until your elbows touch your knees. Only go as low as is comfortable, control the movement up and down, and don’t rush! The more controlled the movement, the better.

Set: 3 sets of 15 reps (1-min rest between sets)

2. Swings

Swings help to build strength in the hips – which we know causes problems for a lot of runners. 

Make sure the kettlebell is at shoulder level, and remember to squeeze your glutes at the top of the swing.

Set: 2 sets of 50 swings (1-min rest between sets)

3. Single leg deadlift

This is a challenging exercise as it requires good core strength as well as balance/coordination, however the benefits to the hips, hamstrings and glutes are incredible, especially for runners.

Set: 3 sets of 10 reps

Not sure which weight of kettlebell you need?

If you can, get to the gym and experiment with the above exercises to see what feels right. If after 10 swings you’re really struggling, you’ve gone too heavy and vice-versa, if you finish them with ease then you’ve gone too light. You want to be able to complete all the sets and all the reps, but for those final reps to be hard work.

As a guide, a good starter weight for these exercises for women is 6-8 kg, and for men is 14-16 kg, but it really is down to the individual and what works best for you.

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Stay Hydrated
Running in the Heat

Running in the heat

Running in the Heat

It’s not everyday we are privileged with the GORGEOUS weather we have had over the weekend but that doesn’t mean your running has to suffer. Here’s our top tips on how to deal with running in the heat:

  1. Stay hydrated
    Hydration is crucial for performing at your best in the hot conditions. It’s so difficult to know how much fluid is lost through sweat on your run, but that makes it even more important to pre-hydrate AND post-hydrate.
  2. Check the breeze
    When possible try and start your run by going with the wind, and running back with a headwind – apparently running into the wind has a cooling effect! Especially important for the second half of your run.
  3. Avoid midday heat
    Try and avoid the midday heatwave by running earlier in the day or later in the afternoon. Not only will it be cooler in the morning but it’s also a great way to start the day and give you that extra energy boost!
  4. Dress appropriately
    Don’t wear too much clothing, keep it lightweight that possibly has vents or mesh. Don’t forget to protect yourself properly from the sun too, make sure you’re wearing an SPF of 30 or higher.
  5. Be patient
    It takes a long time for our bodies to acclimatise to hot weather, so adjust your routes and pace and gradually increase the length and intensity of your training. Be patient with your body!
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Keeping Kids Entertained
Keeping Kids Entertained
The UK Coronavirus lockdown means that we’re all isolating from home. This also means extra pressure for parents to keep the kids entertained!  We’re a few weeks in, therefore it’s likely you’ve already heard the words “I’M BORED” a few times already! Here’s a few suggestions to keep the little ones busy…at least for a few hours!

  1. Keep them active It’s important to burn off some of that energy they wake up with! If you don’t have a garden where they can stay entertained with ball games for hours, why not try PE with Joe Wicks? He holds a 30 minute live PE session for all ages on his YouTube channel, Monday-Friday.
  2. Your outdoor hour Include your children in your allocated hour of outdoor daily exercise by taking them on a walk, a jog or a bike ride and have fun as a family while staying active.
  3. Get baking Although it can be a bit of a messy process, baking always provides a bit of excitement for kids. You can start simple with a cupcake kit or why not try one of the many banana bread recipes out there at the moment? Get creative!
  4. Embrace their creative side Colouring books, paint by numbers, some freestyle drawing, see what they can do! Maybe they’ll uncover a hidden talent!
  5. Get gardening If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, aren’t there some gardening chores you’ve been meaning to tackle for months? Well, now you’ve got some little helpers! Get them involved with the weeding, planting new flowers and maybe even cutting the grass.
  6. Keep the mind busy Introduce your kids to the world of jigsaws. Hard or easy, they’re a great way to keep the mind active and provide a great sense of achievement by the end!

Above all, it’s important to remember that you’re parenting during a national pandemic, so just do as best you can, and make sure you give yourself a break every now and then. We’re all in this together.  Stay home. Stay healthy. Stay safe.

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Smoothie Recipes for Runners

Smoothie Recipes for Runners

There’s nothing worse than running on an empty stomach. Not having the energy to fuel the performance you’re capable of can be frustrating and ultimately demoralising for runners. Smoothies are a really effective and healthy way to increase your energy levels and can boost recovery post-run. 

Here are our top 5 recipes.

1) Banana Smoothie

– 1 cup of milk (whatever kind is your preference)
– 1 large banana
– 1 tablespoon of peanut/almond butter
– ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional)

This is a really easy and quick one, simply pop all the ingredients into your blender and then blitz until you get a consistency you’re happy with. Bananas are perfect for an active lifestyle, they’re quick and easy to eat, and they provide energy through their healthy carbohydrates and potassium. This helps control muscle contractions during activity and also aids recovery by restoring electrolyte balance post-activity.

2) Green Smoothie

– 1 cup of almond milk
– 1 apple
– 2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves
– 1 tablespoon of peanut/almond butter
– 1 scoop protein powder (optional)

If you can see past the colour it turns your smoothie, spinach is a great ingredient. It’s low in calories, but high in fiber, iron, zinc, folate, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K. The nitric oxide reduces the amount of oxygen muscles require during activity, making running easier and reducing the chance of injury. Just 2 small handfuls in your smoothie will provide a huge amount of nutrional benefit! Blitz all the ingredients together and pop in a scoop of protein if desired.

3) Blueberry Smoothie

– 1 cup of milk
– 1 cup blueberries
– 1 cup blackberries
– 1/2 cup of Greek yoghurt 
– 1 large banana
– 1 scoop protein powder (optional)

Blueberries are incredibly good for you. They are very low in calories but high in nutrients. They’re packed with antioxidants, which protect your body from unstable molecules that can damage your cells and contribute to aging and diseases. Adding the yoghurt into this recipe is not only delicious but is a good source of protein and calcium. Again just pop in to the blender and blitz until its smooth.

4) Tropical Smoothie

– 1 cup of milk
– ¼ cup of Greek yoghurt
– 1 large banana
– 1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks
– 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
– 1 teaspoon dessicated coconut (optional)
– 1 teaspoon honey (optional)

Pineapples are packed with immune-boosting nutrients and enhance heart health by dissolving artery plaque. They’re great to eat post activity as they reduce the time it takes to recover from exercise due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Mango is full of fiber and antioxidants making this smoothie packed with nutrition and perfect for a runner pre or post run. Put the ingredients in the blender and blend till its done. Add the coconut and/or honey if you like your smoothies a little bit sweeter.

5) Avocado Smoothie

– 1 cup of almond milk
– 1 ripe avocado
– 1 cup greek yoghurt
– 1 kiwi

Avocado is full of healthy fats. This helps to fill you up, meaning a single avocado can reduce the desire to overeat or snack later in the day. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat, making them a great source of energy for longer exercise sessions. A whole avocado contains around 230 calories – providing 3g of protein and 9g of fibre, which ensures high energy levels and stabilised blood sugar.

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Healthy Snack Options

Healthy Snack Options

It’s a strange time, and being asked to vastly reduce our time outside has meant that many of us are spending far more time at home than we’re used to. For some, being at home all day makes little difference to the daily routine, but for others, it can lead to an increased urge to snack. So to help out, we’ve put together a list of guilt-free, healthy snacks that can actually boost your energy and improve your running performance!

1) Bananas

This is an obvious one. Bananas are quick and easy to eat whilst simultaneously being a great source of potassium, boosting muscle function. They’re full of good carbs and are beneficial to the body before, during or after a run.

2) Popcorn

Corn kernels are whole grain, making them nutritionally similar to whole wheat bread or brown rice. So as long as you’re not covering your popcorn in butter, sugar or salt, it’s a low calorie and highly filling snack!

3) Carrots & Hummus

Carrots are another snack that are low in calories but filling. They’re a good source of potassium and fibre to the body, which helps slow down the digestive system and give the body a steadier supply of nutrients. Why not make your carrots a bit more interesting and pair with hummus? Hummus provides runners with iron and protein, which is essential for the body. 

4) Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is absolutely packed with protein, which helps runners by boosting muscle rebuilding and repair. It’s also a good source of calcium, which can help reduce the chances of bone injury.

5) Dates

Dates are a common snack for runners. They’re naturally very sweet and like the other snacks on the list, provide a lot of carbohydrates and protein with relatively low calories. Dates pair well with nuts, which are another good source of protein.

6) Hard-Boiled Eggs

Eggs are incredibly nutritional, and provide high amounts of protein, riboflavin and biotin. They’re very easy to make in bulk and serve as a highly nutritious meal on the go. 

Photo by Rachael Gorjestani on Unsplash

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Taking Care of your Mental Health and Wellbeing

Taking Care of your Mental Health and Wellbeing

In times like this, being asked to stay at home and avoid other people can be daunting and it might feel quite difficult to manage your mental health and wellbeing.  

It is going to feel like a difficult time and will feel harder than usual to look after yourself, but we have put together a few ideas that may help:

1.    Create a Regular Routine – Write out a schedule or plan to follow which you can easily access and see every day. Try to follow your usual routine as much as possible. Get up early, continue with your normal morning routine and go to sleep at your usual time.

2.     Plan for Working at Home – If you can, set up a workspace with everything you need and take regular breaks in a different area of your home for a change of scene.

3.     Keep Busy – Try and find ways to spend your time. Have that clear out that you’ve been putting off for months or a spring clean to organise your belongings. You could also use this time to contact loved ones who you’ve been meaning to catch up.

4.     Keep Active – Try to include exercise into your daily routine. Many of us don’t have equipment at home but why not get creative and find things you could use as alternatives? There are also lots of resources online with exercise workouts you can follow.

5.     Coping with Anxiety and Claustrophobia – Try and find safe zones in your homes and work on breathing exercises. Open your windows, sit in your garden, try and get some fresh air. Regularly change the rooms you’re spending time in. 

If you’re looking for more advice on how to take care of your mental health and wellbeing during this time there are a number of charities that are offering advice at this time:

SAMH – https://www.samh.org.uk/about-mental-health/self-help-and-wellbeing/coronavirus-and-your-mental-wellbeing

MIND – https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/#collapse816a3

Young Minds – https://youngminds.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/youngminds-publishes-advice-for-young-people-and-parents-on-mental-health-impact-of-coronavirus/

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Nick’s Brilliant Big Fun Run Manchester

Nick’s Brilliant Big Fun Run Manchester

On Sunday, Nicholas Trimble completed Big Fun Run Manchester – raising money for Cancer Research UK. 

In 2009, Nick’s dad tragically passed away after battling lung cancer. A year later Nick ran the New York Marathon in memory of his late father. 

“I flew up to New York to run the NYC marathon in 2010 for him, as we had joked about doing it years ago before he left. It was an awesome event that I loved, and that I managed to do it all alone!”

Nick has always been a keen runner but sadly has been unable to run since a tragic car accident left him in a wheelchair. 

“I became very disabled when I was run over whilst I was living in London with my girlfriend. I was a full on runner 10 years ago this year.”

Nick has been determined to get back involved in events.  Big Fun Run Manchester was his first event since his car accident and he was delighted with how it turned out.

“It was very difficult, but I competed with many thanks to my girl Lynsey! She was my care person for yesterday.”

Nick’s fundraising has gone better than expected – he has “smashed it” but there is still time to donate to a great cause.

To read more about Nick’s story and to fundraise please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/nicholastrimble-2019bigfunrunmanchester461?utm_id=121

The Big Fun Run promises a fun, relaxed atmosphere and is the perfect challenge to set yourself in 2019. To find out more about the 2019 Series and find events near you, visit www.bigfunrun.com.

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Rebecca’s Fun Run for Lupus UK

Rebecca’s Fun Run for Lupus UK

3 years ago Rebecca Scott had been in hospital for what seemed like an eternity. After a series of tests, Rebecca was diagnosed with Lupus. This was a particularly tough time for her and her family as many of them didn’t really know what that meant.

For those unfamiliar with Lupus, it is a long-term condition causing inflammation to the joints, skin and other organs. There’s no cure, but symptoms can improve if treatment starts early.

Speaking about Lupus, Rebecca said:

“There is a lot of fatigue which is very different to being tired. When you’re tired you know that when you are going to get sleep you will feel better but with fatigue it’s a lack of energy, it’s not being able to sleep, it’s mental and physical exhaustion.”

“Throughout the day my body can change without any warning. I can get sharp pains in my hips, my knees will ache, my hands will hurt or my legs will become sleepy. Most nights I get really bad muscle pain which disrupts a lot of my sleep”

6 months after being diagnosed, Rebecca was told she would be starting chemotherapy. Her Lupus had started to have a major impact on her kidneys and this was the best solution. Over the course of the next few weeks Rebecca contracted a stomach bug, Sepsis and Meningitis. She spent almost every day going in and out of the hospital until she was finally fit enough to return to work.

The effects that Lupus has had on Rebecca’s appearance (above)

2 years on and Rebecca is still managing her Lupus through chemotherapy and prescription drugs.

“Things have gotten a lot easier but with Lupus any day can dramatically change”

Rebecca has decided to take part in Big Fun Run Manchester in support of Lupus UK. Speaking about Big Fun Run Rebecca stated:

“I chose Big Fun Run because it seemed to be a more light hearted event. Something which doesn’t feel like I’d be doing it by myself, I was able to choose my charity and it is close to home.”

“It seemed like a really nice way to raise awareness of my illness, I’m always very positive and open about it so people understand. It doesn’t have to be negative”

To read more about Rebecca’s story and to fundraise please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lupussuckss

She also has a blog that she wrote during her initial diagnosing and Rebecca would love you to take a look: https://mylupusweb.wordpress.com

The Big Fun Run promises a fun, relaxed atmosphere and is the perfect challenge to set yourself in 2019. To find out more about the 2019 Series and find events near you, visit www.bigfunrun.com.

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Mental Health Benefits of Running

Mental Health Benefits of Running

Apart from the obvious health benefits that running or jogging can give you, it can provide many psychological advantages too. No matter your circumstance, running can help ease your mind and get you back on the right track. Here are some positive changes that running can bring to you:

1. STRESS RELIEVER
 
Whatever you are stressing about, getting active can significantly reduce this. Lacing up your trainers can help with relaxation, anxiety and negative thinking cycles. Running can help your body control stress and deal with existing mental tension. Long distance runs can help you solve problems that have been nagging you. Whilst shorter speed runs can reduce aggression and tension. Make running your new friend.

2. YOUR NEW SLEEPING PILL

Nobody wants to be tossing and turning in bed late at night. Indulging in physical exercise, whether that is running or another form, can be your new way of counting sheep at night. Moderate exercise can also significantly improve the sleep of insomnia sufferers.

3. DECREASES DEPRESSION
 
Running can be a fantastic way of combatting that sluggish and withdrawn feeling that is associated with depression. Regular exercise can boost your mood if you have depression, and it’s especially useful for people with mild to moderate depression. Running can take your mind off worries so you can get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety.
 
4. SELF-ESTEEM BOOST

If you’re suffering from low self-esteem in adulthood, go for a run and watch your confidence soar. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins, natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being. Exercising in the great outdoors can also result in lowered blood pressure and increased self-esteem. Get your running shoes on and watch your confidece soar.

5. INCREASED CREATIVITY
 
An envigorating run can boost creativity for up to two hours afterwards. Next time you find yourself staring at a blank page waiting for a genius idea to pop into your head, get those legs moving and refresh your body and brain at the same time by going on a jog.

So the next time you’re having a bad day or you want that extra hour in bed, remember all the benefits your body will enjoy from getting active.

Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 116 123.
CALM, an anonymous helpline for men is open 7 days a week, 5pm to midnight. 0800 58 58 58.

It’s okay not to be okay. Let’s keep talking.

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