If anything, the new year really gets people wanting to get up and get fit, especially after the London Marathon. Now running isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but there are some positive aspects.
- Running is considered weight-bearing, which means it strengthens your bones.
- Exercising your heart and strengthening your cardiovascular system will lower your pulse while resting and sleeping, therefore also make you more fit to handle stress.
- If you run correctly, it can improve your posture and balance.
- Running does wonders for the waistline and the skin
- It boosts your self esteem
- You might get the bus that usually pulls away as you get to it (without panting and in pain from that sudden burst of energy)
Sites such as The Running Bug are a wonderful resource for runners. You can plan your route, follow a training plan, and it has a selection of articles for beginners. RunDouble have their C25K (couch to 5K) and Zen Labs Fitness have 10K running trainers. Voice guided “personal” trainers, helping you become a long distance runner in only 14 weeks. Along with local running clubs and even tread mills, you don’t have an excuse for not getting up and going.
Read reviews of popular running apps on runnersworld.com
For the more experienced athlete, you will be more focused on the nutrition and optimum performance. There are 3 main foods for energy – Fat and Carbohydrate and Protein.
Fats typically provide more than half of the body’s energy needs. Fat from food is broken down into fatty acids, which can travel in the blood and be captured by hungry cells. Fatty acids that aren’t needed right away are packaged in bundles called triglycerides and stored in fat cells, which have unlimited capacity- If you don’t use it you store it! This does not mean you should cut out all fat from your diet. Dietary fat has been blamed for many health problems, however fat is actually essential for optimal health. Good fats such as Omega 3’s are vital to the body. Adipose tissue (stored fat) provides cushion and insulation to internal organs, covers the nerves, moves vitamins (A, D, E, and K) throughout the body. It is also the largest reserve of stored energy available for activity. Fat is stored when we consume more calories then we use. When that optimal level of body fat is exceeded this can lead to problems with health as well as athletic performance.
Carbohydrates can only be stored in limited quantities, so the body is eager to use them for energy. The carbohydrates in food are converted—either to glucose, or a sugar that is easily converted to glucose—that can be absorbed through the small intestine’s walls. After a few detours in the body, glucose enters the circulatory system, causing blood glucose levels to rise. The body’s cells use up this energy sourche more readily than fat (giving us the carb high we love). Once the cells are full, the liver stores some of the excess, should our sugar levels drop. If there is leftover glucose beyond what the liver can hold, it can be turned into fat for long-term storage so none is wasted (giving us the muffin top we don’t love).
Every part of your body contains protein, from your muscles, blood and immune cells, to your tendons, ligaments, skin, and hair. Lack of protein can cause fatigue and slow recovery from injuries and infections, so make sure you’re getting enough from good sources. If not enough protein is provided by the diet, the body starts using up muscle cells. Protein supplement powders are readily available if you feel you are not getting enough in your diet.
Here are the most popular supplements, but if you want any more information, pop into Panacea for one to one advice from a member of staff or a trained Naturopath or Nutritionist
This may be one of the best-selling supplements and athletes everywhere are using it, with good reason. According to some manufacturers’ labels, loading up on creatine for several days boosts muscle strength and sprint performance and if taken for a few weeks, creatine may even pump up muscle size. However creatine is not for everyone and in some people it has been seen to cause weight gain and water retention. Do your research and speak to an expert if you’re unsure.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
Glucosamine acts as a structural component of tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Chondroitin is a component of cartilage. According to some studies, when taken together, these two supplements protect joints and tendons and relieve osteoarthritis pain which is quite common in runners.
Magnesium plays a critical role in endurance performance. Magnesium is found mainly inside the cells of muscles and bones and it assists with muscle contractions and energy metabolism. Magnesium deficiency can reduce endurance. Unfortunately, extreme endurance events such as marathons can deplete magnesium from your body too resulting in cramping among other symptoms
Always look at the ingredients. Protein is an essential part of your diet, but many brands add bulking agents, sugars and flavours. Protein is good for reducing recovery time after exercise, helping with rehydration, reducing inflammation, and of course repair of muscle. Brands such as Pulsin and SunWarrior have pure protein powders that are free from any bulking agents and easy to use in your daily routine.
So go out with a bang. Spring is a great time to detox and get motivated, so dust off those trainers and get out there.