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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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!

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

New Year, New You….

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How many times have you heard that already?!

It is January so it’s time to get back on it and start the training again… I’m still planning my big run this year as I haven’t been able to secure a marathon place. There are plenty of other runs to sign up to though. Check out the list below to see which one suits you:

Are you taking part in any events this year?

Fashion: Fitness Style

vgbhnjSometimes the clothing that we wear to run in can be painful and leave us feeling a little sore. During the London Marathon earlier this year I found that a label in my running bottoms had caused my leg to bleed from the friction.  This isn’t ideal when I’m trying to focus on my run!

So what’s the alternative?!

Sweat is the worst enemy when it comes to workout chafing so avoid cotton because it soaks up and holds on to moisture.  Instead opt for sweat-wicking performance material that transports it away from your skin.

Another tip is to choose tight fitting clothing over loose kit, as this will minimise friction.

And don’t forget Vaseline – something I neglected during the marathon – it keeps sensitive skin lubricated. It’s great for under arms or where your bra sits!!

Tapering

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Tapering should last approximately three weeks, starting with your final long run. In the first week you want to aim for approximately 70% of your usual training but at the same intensity. Reduce this to 50% in week two and maintain the same intensity. By week one you should be running for no more than six miles. You won’t lose your fitness but you’ll give your body he opportunity to recover before your race day.

You want your final week to look like this:

Monday – four miles

Tuesday – rest

Wednesday – rest

Thursday – rest

Friday – two miles

Saturday – one mile

Sunday – race day!

It’s a good idea to get up early and have a good bowl of cereal/porridge, and then take a banana to snack on before the race starts. Do stop eating at least one hour before you run though so it you don’t feel sick during the run.

After you finish your race make sure you put on a warm jacket or utilise your foil jacket that you’re given at the finish of most races. Your body temperature will drop quickly and you need to make sure that you don’t stop blood flow as your body tries to begin your recovery process. This is your time to enjoy a recovery drink – beetroot juice is ideal at this point.

Keep moving little and often for the rest of the day to minimise natural muscle and joint stiffening. Move very 15 minutes and never less than once per hour to keep your blood pumping around your body.

The best part is you can enjoy anything you want food-wise for the next few days. It’s also important that you drink plenty to rehydrate your body.

In the week after an event it’s also ideal to swim a few times to ease up your muscles and go for short walks if you can. By the end of week two it’s time to start running again with short runs: five minutes, with two minutes of stretching. Don’t neglect massages and physio check-ups during this period.

Fitness: Energy Drinks

Energy drinks provide an alternative to energy gels when you’re running for an hour or more. For shorter runs stick to water or low calorie electrolyte drinks because staying hydrated is your priority. Like gels, energy drinks help to replace glycogen store and their primary ingredient will be carbohydrate, together with electrolyte materials. But energy drinks have the added bonus of giving you the water and carbohydrates that you need in one product.

It’s important to choose an energy drink that has been specially formulated for sport – this is often highlighted on the label. Fruit juices or high caffeinated drinks like Red Bull are too highly concentrated for use during exercise. They take longer to empty from your stomach and may cause discomfort, as well as failing to refuel you as quickly as sports drinks.

Sports drinks come prepared, typically in a 500ml or 750ml bottle. You can also get the powdered version that you mix with water. It’s generally recommended that you mix your sachet or gel with 400ml -500ml of water.

You should aim to drink at least 500ml per hour of running, and around 750ml if it’s a hot day. Just take several sips at regular intervals. If there is a particular sports drink brand sponsoring a race that you’re training for then try drinking it before the day so you know that your body can handle it.

Fitness: Trail Running

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City running can get boring at times with the same old streets, shops and pavements. Research shows that running in the great outdoors amongst nature can boost your mood, so maybe it’s time to ditch the city map for something a bit more scenic.

You can find a local park, river or canal for a leisurely run, or you could jump in the car and head further afield. Whatever you opt for just try to avoid man-made trails and run on grass trails. This could also benefit your knees as trail running has less impact on landing which will be a relief for your knees, ankles and hips.

Want the top tips for trail runs? Here’s my list of ten great UK locations:

  1. London – Richmond Park
  2. Manchester – Heaton Park
  3. Birmingham – Sutton Park
  4. Brighton – The South Downs
  5. Sheffield –The Peak District
  6. Glasgow – Mugdock Country Park
  7. Edinburgh – Holyrod Park
  8. Buckinghamshire – Stowe Gardens
  9. Cumbria  – Coniston
  10.  Berkshire – Virginia Water Lake

Running: It’s time to stretch

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Flexibility isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of
running. It’s something that makes you think about strength and stamina. But
flexibility is crucial to any running plan. It’s the difference between
stopping and pushing through your pain barrier.

One reason why flexibility is so important is that the way we move our body is
different to the way we move when we run. Most of us spend a lot of time
sitting down at a desk so straightening up your limbs and joints before you run
is really important, so you don’t shock your body.

Working on your flexibility encourages your muscles to more easily lengthen
into a natural position after long periods of inactivity which reduces the
likelihood of injury. I’m not suggesting that you become a yoga master with
your flexing. In fact being too flexible can be as much of an injury risk as
not being flexible enough as it can lead to instability around certain joints.
As a runner you can incorporate regular stretching into your training plan so
you’re flexible enough to run freely and efficiently.

Working on your flexibility will also help you to address any impact that
regular running has on your body. Running works that quads, glutes, hamstrings
and valves for motion and your thighs for stability. These muscle groups
contract and relax to cope with the demands we make on our bodies. This
combined with the physical impact of running on different surfaces can cause
micro damage to the muscle tissue, which leads to post run tightness as the
muscles repair themselves in time for the next run. If you don’t stretch your
muscles may remain in the contracted state and in time lose the ability to
elongate fully. Stretching after each session will encourage the muscles to
open out fully allowing you to run in your natural position every time you take
to the streets.

The main reason that people avoid working on their flexibility is that it takes
time and there’s a perception that this isn’t time well spent. You need to
think of stretching as an investment into making your body more able to perform
faster and to recover quicker for frequent runs. I’m not suggesting that you
spend hours stretching, just do a short burst after a run and try to get up
during the day to stretch out your legs. In the long term it’ll make your runs
a lot better.