The Great North Run is a fantastic local event to be part of but running 13.1 miles is a big ask of the body! Make sure you take good care of yourself in these next two weeks so you arrive at the start line in peak fitness and at the finish line in good shape.
1. Plan, Plan, Plan. The old saying fail to plan and you plan to fail was never more true. Set yourself a good training plan which can be found in any running magazine or on the web and tick off your achievements as you progress. A great way to stay motivated as you complete each target and also to know you are on schedule to finish the event safely.
2. Listen to your body. Increase gradually and adapt slowly, don’t beat yourself up if you have a ‘bad week’. Let it go and get back on target the following week.
3. Have regular scheduled sports massage to assess any potential injury or trouble spot, relieve fatigue and ensure good recovery and training practices.
4. The essential piece of kit – good running shoes. By good shoes I mean ones you are comfortable in whatever the science says!
5. Diet=fuel, don’t run out of steam but ensure you eat the right foods to fuel training and aid recovery. Plan your food intake for the week before and also for your recovery week, don’t leave it to chance.
6. Don’t ignore any niggles or illness. Rest if you need to and see your doctor or sports therapist and get things sorted quickly so you’re not side lined for the big event.
7. Don’t be tempted to over train. Rest is an essential part of your training plan if the most difficult to do.
8. Cross train to build all round strength and stamina and prevent overuse injuries.
9. Stretching is important and something easy to ignore! Try to stretch after each training session and if possible do a separate stretching session to see the benefits.
10. Mental preparation is important, try to schedule training around work and home commitments. Training when you know you should be somewhere else is never easy. So again plan your training and get good at time management.
11. Hot or cold? The general rule is hot for chronic conditions and cold for new injuries and swelling. If in any doubt contact your sports therapist for specific advice.
12. Tapering is always a good idea. You’ve done the mileage in training now rest your body in the days prior to the event so you don’t arrive on the start line already tired.
13. Enjoy – this is an amazing challenge you have set yourself so enjoy the ride!
S is for sleep
The UK Sleep Council state there are four stages of sleep and which last about 1½ hours each and for a good night’s rest we need all four stages and about 5 to 6 cycles. So unless you are regularly getting 7-9 hours a night you will be damaging your long term health and increasing your risk of ill health. A recent study by the University of California found that “short sleep“ was a bigger factor in your chances of catching cold than stress or smoking.
So in amongst all the partying remember to schedule some good quality sleep. For tips on getting your necessary rest take a look at www.sleepcouncil.org.uk
A is for Alcohol
We all know Santa likes a drop of sherry but he knows when to say no. I don’t want to spoil your seasonal merriment but nor do I want you suffering hangovers and getting ill from too much abuse! Drinking can be a very sociable pastime and can help boost confidence and increase conviviality. However, no one likes a drunk and excessive drinking leads to poor judgement and ill health. So please take a leaf out of Santa’s book and enjoy a tipple but go steady.
N is for Nutrition
I know the seasonal goodies are fattening and full of sugar, I know. Yet there are healthy seasonal goodies such as nuts, cranberries or oranges and of course turkey with lots of veggies (and no I don’t like Brussel sprouts either!) Stock up on the good foods and moderate the not so good. No one wants to spoil Christmas by denying themselves a mince pie, a slice of Christmas cake or a few chocolates but moderation is the key. We should do everything in moderation and enjoy the holidays but make it safe and comfortable into the next year.
T is for Training
Keeping fit with all the Christmas partying and the excess food and drink is a must to stay healthy. Often when we are out of our normal working and living routine we can lose our fitness routine as well but let’s make this the year we don’t lose it all! High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been getting lots of rave reviews since it was first studied at Loughborough University by Dr. Jamie Timmons and shown on the BBC by Dr. Michael Mosley. It proves that short bursts of flat out exercise can have health benefits and can be fitted into any lifestyle. So no excuses!
A is for …. and relax
Above all else ENJOY the festive season which means keeping safe, not OVER indulging but definitely indulging on all that is on offer. So stay calm, have fun, eat, drink and be merry and I’ll see you on the other side. Merry Christmas and remember SANTA.
Sleep. 2015 Sep 1;38(9):1353-9. doi: 10.5665/sleep.4968. Behaviorally Assessed Sleep and Susceptibility to the Common Cold. Prather AA1, Janicki-Deverts D2, Hall MH3, Cohen S2.
Part four – review, renew, resolve
Holidays allow us time to reflect – on life and on work. Do you always get the balance right? Giving yourself some me time allows your mind to switch off and can bring clarity to your thoughts. Just allow the thoughts to come and go, maybe make a note of some insights to come back to once the holiday time comes to an end. Don’t address everything at once or you could use all your time off thinking about when you get back.
Think about any resolutions or goals you had for the new year. Have you achieved them and need new ones? Are you not there yet and need to redefine? Take this opportunity to look at the balance of your life and make sure it is just how you want it. This is the only life you have right now and no one else can make it how you want, you have to do that for yourself.
If finding your way is too difficult or you don’t know what you want try different things until you find your niche or read so called ‘self help’ books for inspiration. Here are a few suggestions.
Chicken Soup for the Soul
Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach
Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Robin Sharma
The Road Less Travelled, M. Scott Peck
The Chimp Paradox, Dr. Steve Peters
For more prescriptive inspiration why not read autobiographies of your hero or favourite sports person? There are some amazing stories out there from people just like you, be one of them!
Part three – And relax!
Surely one of the main aims of holiday time is to relax so how are you going to do that? Filling the diary with new experiences is great but don’t forget to allow your batteries to recharge or you will get back to your usual routine more tired than you left it.
Why not take a look at mindfulness? Just separating yourself from the chaos around you for a few minutes can help recharge and refocus, go to www.headspace.com
Get out and get some exercise preferably outdoors and preferably a change from your normal form of exercise. Mix things up a bit and have some fun. Maybe try a Zumba class (www.zumba.com) or go for a bike ride (www.sustrans.org.uk)
Try Progressive Relaxation Technique (PRT) website or link
Have a massage and get some professional relaxation into tight tense muscles
Get out and get some fresh air to allow your lungs to enjoy some deep breathing and allow your body to absorb some much needed vitamin D (evidence).
Don’t wear a watch; just let time pass you by for a while. Eat when you’re hungry and drink when you’re dry!
Indulge in a digital detox, switch off all technology so you have no distractions. If you really must then check in once a day but limit how long you allow yourself and stick to it.
Part two – diet and exercise
Once you break a routine it is very hard to get it back but perhaps you don’t want to spend your entire holiday being careful what you eat and drink? Why not see your holiday as a chance to try something different, perhaps the healthy Mediterranean diet (details of the most recent studies advocating the benefits of a Mediterranean diet can be found at www.nhs.uk). Use some of your time off to source new recipes and try them out. Summer is the salad season so try as wide a variety as you can or maybe you will have the opportunity to eat out and try different foods to give you even more ideas.
Avoid excess in food and drink. No one wants a miserable holiday denying themselves the best of everything but do it all in moderation. Savour the food you eat and the refreshments you drink while you have more time on your hands. Eating slowly is better for the digestion and creates more enjoyment from food and drink.
Think about how you exercise as it is very easy to become stuck in a routine that is no longer delivering results. Use your holiday to explore other avenues, the better weather provides so many more ways to get some exercise into your daily life. Here a just a few suggestions to consider when you take that summer break.
Hire a bike
Learn to swim or dive
Hire a row boat
Walk along the beach
Climb a hill (or a mountain)
Find an outdoor Tai Chi class
Hire a pedalo
So many choices so little time; get going now! What are you waiting for?
Well finally the summer has arrived (maybe?) and I hope you will be taking some well earned time out. July and August are popular months for a lazy summer break. Whether you go away or stay home time off allows you to step out of your usual routine. However, it shouldn’t be seen as a chance to let all your good habits go so you end the holiday in a worse state than you started! Over the next 4 weeks I will pass on some hints and tips for having a healthy and happy holiday without spoiling all the fun.
Travelling – eat before you travel so you can avoid the fast foods at stations and airports. Avoid alcohol or balance with plenty of water particularly on a flight so you don’t arrive at your destination dehydrated.
Local delicacies – whether it’s Jamaican rum cake or Cornish clotted cream scones be careful not to overindulge. Please note I said ‘over’ indulge as it is a holiday and you want to indulge a little bit. Balance the indulgence with a healthy dinner of fresh fish with plenty in season vegetables perhaps.
Meet friends that lift your spirits rather than the energy vampires. This is your holiday and you should spend it with people who inspire that fiesta feeling not those who bring your spirits down. Spend your time off with the sunshine folk.
My best tip for the holiday? Have fun! ‘nuff said?
Next time a look at diet and exercise while on vacation.
Part Six – Putting it altogether
The previous five posts in this series have aimed to give a very brief introduction to the variety of massage techniques available. Some you may have been familiar with by name without really knowing what they could do for you or if you needed them. I hope the posts have proved helpful but would be very happy to answer any individual questions that have arisen from the posts. Continue reading
Part five – Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage
This is a very specialised and specific form of massage designed to assist in the flow of lymph around the Lymphatic vessels. The lymphatic system works with the blood system and aims to speed the removal of inflammatory and waste products. It is often used for Lymhphoedema and available in many Cancer care facilities for over congestion in the system.
It does, however, have benefits to the sports person or indeed anyone with soft tissue injury that is accompanied by swelling. It is also helpful post cosmetic surgery to reduce inflammation. The massage is very light, gentle and rhythmic aiming to very gently stimulate lymphatic flow. If pressure is too strong the muscular and neurological systems will engage and these can produce chemicals that may aggravate or add to the swelling.
Part four – Neuromuscular Technique and Soft Tissue Release
These two techniques work hand in hand to alleviate tension spots and pain with the aim of restoring movement. As with previous techniques discussed a lot of the effectiveness is due to the competency of the therapist to assess the tissues and select the correct technique for the current situation.
This is one of the things I love most about massage in that it is constantly changing and therefore challenging. Even though I may have seen a client regularly over a long period of time I constantly allow my hands to feel the muscle tissue as things can and do change. It would be wrong to consistently offer the exact same treatment every time without assessing first.
Part three – Myofascial Trigger Points
Trigger Points, also known as Myofascial Trigger Points (MTP’s), are areas of extreme tension in soft tissue. They are often referred to as ‘knots’ but this isn’t quite correct as although both form in soft tissue and can have the same cause MTP’s cause referred pain whereas knots do not necessarily. Trigger Points have been well mapped within muscular tissue due primarily to the work of Dr. Janet Travell, White House Physician to President John F. Kennedy. Continue reading