Keep Track: The search for wearable tech

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More than 70 million wearable technology devices are expected to be in use by 2018. Wearable tech has come a long way with everything from sleep trackers to stress tracking!   The majority of wearing tech also has a supporting app to go with it so you can interpret your data.
Weight watchers and Fitbit have recently partnered to help you convert your ProPoints and a new app called Kiqplan will track your fitness and calorie intake to produce a 12 week plan that’s specific to you. Not bad for an app!
This could be my year for investing in wearable technology. I want something that will track all of my runs and also monitor my sleep patterns. If it could make me a balanced but delicious meal as well that would be perfect.
What’s the best activity tracker out there? Send me your suggestions so I can make the right investment this year…Garmin, Fitbug Org, Jawbone Up…which one does the best job?
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Join the running club

The festivities are over and it’s time to get back into the running club! You may not be a keen runner, yet; and full marathon is not for everyone but sometimes the best plan is to start small and work your way up to the big thing. Running is great because you don’t have to hit a certain number of qualifications to join the club. One mile, 5ks, or marathons–no matter the distance you’re still getting out there and getting some exercise! Don’t run before you can walk, simply set out a realistic goal and try to improving on your stamina until you can achieve your goal.

So, where do you start? Look at your current mileage and take it up by about 10%. Your goal has to be realistic – if you don’t have time to run 20 miles every week don’t set this as a target. You’ll end up getting discouraged before the end of January.

What you eat throughout the day plays a big part in how your running goes. Something with too much fiber or fat could really cut a long run short, as could heading out on an empty stomach. Keep tabs on what you’re eating throughout the week and plan your meals so that they help and don’t hurt your run. Three to four hours before your run, have a meal with carbs and small amounts of protein. Follow that up with a carbohydrate-rich snack 30-60 minutes prior to tying on your running shoes and heading out the door. For carbs, think about a slice of whole grain bread with jam or fruit.

Get your friends on board. It’s more fun to have someone with you to help you reach your goal. It’ll make you accountable to the decisions you’re making and if you’re tempted to skip a run or give up altogether, they can encourage to keep on going.

It is true that running will require sacrifice but trust me it will be worth it! There are times that you will have to get out of bed a little earlier or get home from work later. You may think you’ll find more time and motivation once the weather gets better and the days get longer, but start as you mean to go on from January. And share all of the bad weather running stories with me here so we can see who’s had the worse…

How to stay motivated in cold weather 

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My best advice to get you out of the door on a cold winter’s day is that you should organise to run with someone else. You won’t want to let someone else down and your safer on a cold night or early morning in pairs.
If your friends aren’t into running you can always join a local running club or group. Check the UK Athletics website for running clubs or the Run in England website for local groups.
Another good way to avoid getting bored is to vary your route. Even running the same route in the opposite direction will add variety to your run.
But my best motivator is to have a goal to gradually work towards. A early spring marathon is a good start or The Couch to 5K plan is perfect for beginners. You could enter yourself into a 5K race in 12 weeks’ time, for example, or simply aim to run non-stop for 20 minutes.
It’ll all be worth it when your trimmer and fitter come Spring!

Running In Cold Weather

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Hands up if you just want to hibernate in the winter? Me too! The last thing I want to do is lace up my trainers and head outside. But it’s important not to let the cold weather get in the way of training program, especially if you’re planning a marathon next spring.

It’s important to dress sensibly and enjoy every run as normal. Ideally opt for layers so you can peel them off as you begin to warm up. For instance place a lightweight vest under a fleece and add a waterproof jacket over the top. You can always remove the fleece when you start to feel warmer.

Gloves and a hat are a must as it gets colder to stop you losing heat from your head and hands. And make sure you have a few bright bits in the mix, like a neon jacket, so you make sure you’re visible to others as it gets darker.

If the weather is particularly bad and the pavement is icy, it’s best not to run outside at all. It is not worth the risk of injury. If you can head to the gym or do another activity, personal I rate the Jillian Michael’s 30 day shred as it keeps you fit and can be done indoors in just 20 minutes.

I’m often bad at taking my own advice here but if you’re not feeling well then don’t run. Running on a severe cold or fever can lead to a virus affecting your heart, which can be dangerous. Be cautious when trying to soldier on with a hard run if you are not feeling 100% it could result in you feeling unwell for a longer period of time.

But most important remember to keep enjoying it. If you have to go for  fewer runs and use this period as a chance to learn a new sport, just don’t give up all together.

Love Lija

Have you heard of Lija? I hadn’t either until late last year and now I am head-over-heels (or should that be trainers?) about the Canadian sportswear brand.

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Lija is a Canandian brand that was created by Linda Hipp as a fusion of performance apparel and modern, innovative style. The brand draws inspiration from current fashion trends and integrates the performance and functionality that women need to perform at their best. Combining technical features with feminine silhouettes, luxury fabrics, intricate design details and beautiful colour palettes, results in original and unique pieces.

Hipp explains:  “It’s always been my goal to create fashionable athletic clothing that allows creative, independent women to look feminine and express their unique style while feeling comfortable and confident.”

For LIJA’s SS14 Collections the company has focused on Studio, Run and Tennis; three beautiful colour stories filled with inspirational silhouettes that will help women to push the limits in style without having to compromise on functionality. I personally love the run collection with its bright aqua tones and mesh netting that runs down the legs to let in any gentle breezes (I’m sure it has a technical purpose too). I recommend that you check out the collection for AW14 to give your training a fashionable edge!

For the love of Running

A short note on running…

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I joined a gym earlier this year and now I feel like I can’t run because I have to swim or attempt to lift weights at the gym to get my money’s worth! The problem is that I don’t put as much effort at the gym as I’m always very aware that there are a lot of people around me. And I can’t stand using gym equipment when it is packed with men as I begin to feel that I’m getting in the way of someone else’s workout.

This got me thinking…running is the ideal sport…. I can run anywhere at any time (as long as I have my kit), fit short runs in when I’m short or time and long runs in when I want to have a solid workout. The best thing about it is that I can enjoy my own thoughts when I run without being interrupted by anyone else and if I am running outside I don’t have to worry about getting off a machine for someone to get on.

I’m not going to cancel my gym membership because I need to have rest days from running and swimming is the ideal bridge for these days, but I am going to run when I want a feel a like less guilty about not going to the gym.

Do you have a gym membership? How does it impact your running? And how do you cope with all of the guys pumping iron at the weight stations?

Should you run after a night of drinking?

Most of us know how awful it feels to have a hangover. But should you grab your trainers and head out for a run when you’re suffering from too much alcohol?!

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The problem with mixing alcohol with running is that they are both dehydrating. It is crucial that you are well hydrated when you run. Alcohol is a diuretic meaning that it works on your kidneys to make you pee out more fluid than you are taking in. For every unit of alcohol you drink, you’ll lose 100ml of extra urine – two large glasses of wine containing four units is nearly half a litre of additional urine. The headache and dry mouth that you suffer with after drinking is a result of this dehydration.

Alcohol can also interfere with your blood sugar. Your liver breaks down the alcohol taking about an hour to deal with one unit. While it does this it is unable to effectively produce glucose so your blood sugar tends to be lower while alcohol is in your system. Your liver may still be working its way through your alcohol intake the day after you’ve drank. Lower blood glucose can make you less coordinated, reduce your concentration and slow reaction times which can make you more likely to get injured if you run. Your liver is also slower at clearing lactic acid, which can reduce your strength and increase your tiredness.

You cannot sweat out alcohol, contrary to popular opinion; this work has to be done by your liver. Fresh air and gentle exercise can help to clear your head and burn off excess alcohol calories, but you need to take it easy and be sensible. You will need to rehydrate as much as possible and eat before you run. Take a drink with you and don’t aim to do your hardest hill runs on a hangover day.

It doesn’t matter what you drink, it’s the amount of alcohol in your system that matters the most. If you can keep track of you units you’ll be able to work out how many excess units you’ll lose in excess urine. If you can, alternate between alcohol and water by ordering a pint of water with every drink. And make sure you have a large glass of water before you go to bed.

Running on a hangover risks dehydration, higher injury risks and reduces performance so make sensible choices. It’s the hangover or the hill runs!

Running the right way

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Running is a simple sport, but there are a few ways to do it that are better than other ways…Good running technique is important as it will reduce your risk of injury and make it more enjoyable.

Make sure you keep your head straight and avoid looking down at your feet. Looking down will create tension in your neck and shoulders. This will help to prevent you from hunching your shoulders, which should be back and down. Keep them relaxed and avoid tensing them as this restricts breathing, allowing less oxygen to get to the muscles.

It can be difficult to relax your hands but this is an important task; keep your arms at 90 degrees.  Try to swing your arms forward and back, not across your body. The arm movement helps to propel you forward, so swinging them sideways is a waste of energy.

This sounds silly, but if you can lean forward while running. Experts advise that leaning forward a bit while running can reduce heel strike and help you land on the middle of your foot. Trust me this makes all of the difference to your feet! To increase the chances of happy feet, try to keep your hips stable to prevent lower back pain.

Always land with a slight bend in the knee to absorb the impact of running on hard surfaces; your knees should be lifting forwards rather than upwards. Landing on the middle of your foot is the safest way to land for most recreational runners. Avoid striking the ground with your heel or your forefoot first. Your foot should land below your hips – not out in front of you. And don’t hit the ground heavily, instead aim for short light steps. Good running is light and quiet. Whatever your weight, your feet should not slap loudly as they hit the ground. Light steps are more efficient and cause less stress to the body.

Oh and don’t forget to breathe deeply and rhythmically through your nose or mouth. Avoid shallow and quick breaths and take one breath for every two strides.

AFTER RUN MISTAKES

Just finished a good run? What do you do now? Some people head straight for the shower and others tuck into a meal. Check out this list of the worst things you can do after your run to make sure you’re not making any mistakes.

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1)            REFLECT: Immediately after your run you want to take time to consider how your run went. The Nike+ running app is good for encouraging you to do this as it tell you your average pace and asks how you felt during your run. It is important to monitor your progress so you can see if your stamina and strength is improving each time you run. The more attention and mind-space you give to your running sessions the more you’ll get out of them.

2)            DON’T OVERINDULGE: Every runner needs to refuel after a run and you should aim to eat a decent meal that contains slow release carbohydrates and protein within two hours of finishing your run.  Please don’t reach for cakes and chocolate, as that will not aid in your bodies recovery.  Remember that a 30 minute training session will not burn off the calorie equivalent of a typical 45g chocolate bar – so put it down!

3)            GO EASY: If you had a difficult run – you could not manage the hill sections or your pace was slower than you had hoped – don’t give up! There are bound to be set backs in your runs from time to time. You may be recovering from an injury and this can hold you back. You need to stay motivated and take every day as it comes….and more importantly enjoy every run on its own merit.

4)            DON’T JUMP IN A BATH: Jumping in a relaxing hot bath might sound like the dream after a long run, but this will not do your muscles any favours. The best way to relieve your muscles and aid recovery after your run is to use a combination of ice treatments and heat treatments. First use ice to reduce any soreness and swelling. You can either fill a bath with ice cubes and cold water or apply a bag of peas or an ice pack onto the aching muscles. Once the pain has subsided after a few days of ice and rest you can then use heat to help relieve muscle pain, either through bath, or by using heat treatments.

Image via weheartit.com/ena_domazet

Tidy Your Life

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It’s time to get organised for the year ahead and banish clutter for an instant lift. Check out my 5 tips for keeping on top of things this year:

  1. For and foremost it’s time to tidy your desk. Take 10 minutes to file your piles of paper and beat the mess.
  2. Swap your beautiful notebooks for the digital counterparts. Use the calendar on your mobile phone and download your mobile banking apps so you can keep everything in one place. Electronic apps are a great way to reduce clutter and keep you on top off your daily tasks.
  3. Clear out your unwanted clothes and put them on eBay you’ll make a quick buck!
  4. Everyone loves a to-do list; they are one of the best ways to keep everything in check. It’s time to write your list and make sure that you do one task on the list during every lunch for a week it is the best way to get to the bottom of it all.
  5. Combine your catch ups with your workouts. If you are always meeting your mates instead of heading to the gym it is time to start doubling up past times. Catch up with your friends during a run around the park – you’ll burn calories and find out the latest gossip.

Do you have lots to catch up on and get sorted this year?