Thursday, 25 January 2018

New Blog Location!

Hi everyone,

From the start of 2018 all my new blog posts will be posted on my website, not here;

Some older posts from this blog will be gradually moved over to the new site, with a bit of a tidy up and maybe even some new photos.

Eventually this blog will just be about my personal running journey and all the coaching, nutrition, outdoors and massage tips and information will be on the new blog.

Hope to see you over at the new blog!


Thursday, 7 December 2017

Training at Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful, fun filled, tiring, stressful, boozy, intense, noisy, sugary, fabulous, difficult time of year!

So, how to keep your mind and body health? Can you keep up with your training over the Christmas period?

It's helpful to have a plan, I find. Knowing when your Christmas parties are, knowing when you have to be at work, and when you are catching up with friends and family, and planning your training around this. You aren't going to have a fun or productive training session the day after the Christmas party!

Have a think about why you run too, and this will help you get the most out of your running in December. Do you like to run for your own space and thinking time? You'll probably need it more at this time of year, so make sure you make time for runs even when things get busy. Get your energy from spending time with others? What about a family visit to parkrun?

There are many things that impact training, recovery and how you feel when you run;
- the food you've eaten
- hydration levels
- how much sleep you've had
- how much caffeine and alcohol you've drunk
- stress levels

The build up to Christmas will change all of these factors, so go easy on yourself when training runs don't go quite to their usual levels.

If you can't get out to run, try to fit in some time outdoors; ideally in a park, in the woods, or somewhere with some greenery. It's been proven that nature has a positive and stress-relieving impact on the brain.

I hope you have a great Christmas!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Kinesiology Taping

I've recently been doing more taping with my Sports Massage clients and I thought I'd explain a little more about this technique and how it works.

Taping for injuries and swelling

Taping is definitely not going to help with an acute injury, for that you need RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation). However once you've gone through initial recovery supportive taping can help an injury to get back to normal. Taping can help an ankle you've sprained, for example, to be or taping to be better support. You can also relieve swelling and help fluid drainage from the area with taping in smaller strips.

Taping to relax a muscle

You can use certain taping technique to relax a muscle to help it become less tight and overactive. The tape acts as a reminder to the nervous system that it's supported and can switch off and the muscle gets to relax more - win win!

Taping to activate a muscle

You can also use cross taping or taping with more stretch to activate a muscle more, to switch it on and remind it that it needs to work harder. Again this works by stimulating the nervous system, and ensuring the practitioner applies the right level of stretch to the muscle and to the tape when applying it.

Taping as a reminder

You can tape to remind a joint or your spine where it should be. This can be used to remind you when your posture slips or you slump forwards, because the tap stretches and pulls your skin slightly, encouraging you to sit well. Shoulders particularly can roll forwards when you work at a desk or drive a lot, you can tape them in a similar way to remind the shoulder to remain in the right position.

Taping to support joints

Taping can act as a muscular and fascial reminder for joint position, and for smaller joints physically hold them in the right position.

Taping for scars

You can also tape to help scar healing, this taps into the fascia quite strongly and helps a scar to heal with less visual and physical impact on surrounding tissue.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Running Technique Analysis

I work with lots of runners who are keen to avoid injury, and improve the efficiency of their running. So I've put together a 90 minute Running Technique Analysis that really digs into how you are running and whether you might be able to tweak things to improve the way you run.

So, what can you expect in a session?

I start with a chat about you, your running, your life, your other sports and hobbies and what you want to achieve with your running. That helps me adapt the session so you get the most out of it.

After a warm up and some drills to get you moving, and so I can watch how you move, I do some video analysis of you running when you are nice and fresh. Depending on your goals this can be running at easy and faster paces, as our technique often changes depending on the speed you run at.

I can also do a mini speed session with you to tire you out and then video you again to see how your running changes when you are fatigued.

We'll go through the results of the analysis and pick out some key areas to focus on in the session. These may be technique queues to adjust your running style, stretching to allow muscles to achieve a higher range of motion or strength or activation work to get muscles working harder. You get time to practice and guidance on how to integrate things into your training.

Don't worry about remembering it all, as you'll get a full report after the session with what we covered and including photos from your video analysis!

How can this benefit you?

There is scientific evidence to suggest that improving your running form reduces your injury risk, as your body is working efficiently and as designed. This means you can train more consistently and improve your performances. There is also some evidence to say that "marginal gains" can be had from tweaking performance so that more of the energy you expend whilst running is focussed on propelling you forwards, not leaking out in unhelpful ways.

You can find out more about the Running Technique Analysis at my website here, let me know any questions!

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Nutrition for Runners

I've written a few articles recently about nutrition for sport and runners. To make life easier I thought I'd put all the links in one place!

What to eat before you train or race;

What to eat on the run;

What to eat for recovery;

Hydration for sport;

Fats and carbohydrates;

Vitamins and minerals for sport;

If you want any more information or support you can check out my nutrition services here!

Monday, 10 July 2017

Lowland Leader and First Aid Training

I recently started my Lowland Leader qualification with a two day training course at the Plas Y Brenin outdoors centre in Wales. Whilst I was there I also completed a First Aid at Work in an Outdoor Environment certificate. 

The first aid course was brilliant! Lots of time (over half the course hours) spent outside practicing with real world examples in outdoors situations. It's all very well doing CPR and knowing the recovery position when you are on the flat and an ambulance is 10 minutes away. But what happens when you are up a mountain, on rocky, uneven or steep terrain, or when you know mountain or Lowland rescue will be hours away from you? It changes the way you prioritise and plan what you do and the decisions you make, so it was great to have a framework to do this with.

It was also great to meet all the interesting and experienced outdoors people on the course, including international mountain leaders. 

It also gave me some great additional items to add to my first aid kit when I am travelling further afield, a group shelter for example. Also lots of ideas on the right things to pack into a small first aid kit that contains items with multiple uses and makes use of other kit, walking poles as splints for example.

A great book recommended to accompany the course is this one;

Plas Y Brenin is a great location for outdoors courses of all types. The bar has what must be the best view in Wales and there are always loads of interesting people around to chat to.

I was camping along the valley a little, with magnificent views from my tent. But I'd be tempted by their board option if I came again, food looked good!

I was then luck enough to have two days free in brilliant weather to go walking. I finally (3rd time lucky) summoned snowdon and had a days walking in the woods about Nant Peris.

The Lowland Leader course was again mostly outdoors. With 5 hours of walking on each of the two days. The aim was to consolidate the practice walks you had already logged on your own and focus learning and experience on all aspects needed to be a good walk Leader.

Lowland terrain is non-technical, not to steep, on marked public rights or ways and not more than 3K from a point where you could be rescued, like a road. My aims for the course are to lead walks, overnight expeditions, navigation introductions and guided nature walks for runners and walkers to get people out on the trails of the Home Counties; ideal Lowland terrain!

The course taught you all the elements needed to practice for the assessment; planning, navigating, kit, fitness, leadership skills, etc. Again the tutor and course was great and I'm fired up to get my practice walks sorted and hopefully do the assessment this year!

Again a great book accompanies the course;

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Running my own sports business, 2 months in!

I’m now two months down the road of my journey into a new career, so it feels like a good time to reflect on the highs, lows and what I’ve learnt.

Most importantly my new job is incredibly rewarding! I’ve worked as a running coach and massage therapist for a wide range of people over the past few months, and everyone has been unique and fascinating. From writing plans for runners aiming for the Ultra Trail Do Mont Blanc, an epic 100 mile race around Mont Blanc, through to supporting people right at the start of their running journey; everyone has their own goals, challenges and successes to celebrate.

I’m really enjoying talking to people, getting to know them and working out how I can best help them. Being flexible with my coaching and my massage treatments to best meet their needs and explaining why I am approaching things the way I am seems to be working well. 

I’ve had some really rewarding sessions in the massage treatment room too; helping students ease out their shoulders, back and neck during exams, treating neck and shoulder tension in office workers, easing out aching muscles in runners, rock climbers, hockey players, tennis players, all sorts! It’s been a brilliantly varied couple of months.

As I suspected I’m not finding the marketing and sales side of things as easy to do. Last week I went to a conference, and tried my hardest to network whilst I was there. I also attended a local business networking and referral group - which if I’m completely honest was one of the most stressful and nerve wracking experiences of my life. Even though I can really see how it can work, it took me the rest of the day to calm back down!

So, I’ve started to approach things in a different way. I know from my career in IT that I’m much better and more natural at forging long term, meaningful, business relationships one to one. So that’s what I’ve been focussing on. I’ve been pounding the pavements of my local high street talking to all the businesses, leaving flyers, seeing how their businesses are going, how I can spread the word about them and how they can spread the word about me. I’ve already had some really interesting ideas and opportunities to work together come up.

I’m getting better at social media, having written myself a plan (you can take the woman out of Project Management etc…!). With a structured approach to Social Media engagement, with the right communities, with good content and timely posts I’m making good progress there.

I’m also learning to spot and keep in touch with personal contacts in the industry, it pays to be curious about what others do and what makes them tick.

So if you know a runner, do let them know I can provide bespoke training plans, technique analysis and group running sessions. Don’t forget about sports massage for those based in Reading too;