Why it is harter to run in the heat

Why is it harder to run in the heat? The combination of running and being exposed to the sun makes the body work harder to regulate the body’s core temperature. Blood has to cope with a dual role, it must cool the body by transporting heat to the skin’s surface and supply oxygen and fuel to the working muscles.  If you exert yourself too much in the heat then your body may not be able to cope resulting in an internal temperature increase which may result in heat stroke.

The warning signs of heat exhaustion/stroke are feeling faint, dizzy, disoriented and serious fatigue.  Here’s how to maximise your safety when running in hot weather.

1.     HYDRATE WELL

Drink before, during and after runs to replace any lost fluids, because you are losing fluids through sweating you need to keep well hydrated; sweating is the body’s way of cooling the body.  Sweat consists mainly of water but it also includes other nutrients such as sodium, chloride and potassium, you can easily replace all of these nutrients by hydrating with a sports drink. Try not to wait until you are thirsty before you have a drink, drink before you become thirsty. Walk through the water stations and have a drink if you are not used to carry a drink with you on your runs

2.     DRESS COOL

Lightweight and breathable fabric that wicks sweat away is the best option when running in the summer months. A pair of shorts, vest top and socks are the best options; you need to maximise the exposure of the skin surface so that sweat evaporates. Avoid cotton T-shirts as this material absorbs sweat and this will make the t shirt heavy and uncomfortable. Try and wear a cap or pop a bandana in the freezer before you run and place around your neck just as you are heading out.

3.     WEAR SUNSCREEN

Wear a high factor sport sunscreen as skin that is sunburnt loses its ability to sweat therefore your ability to keep cool is minimised.

 

4.     ADJUST YOUR EXPECTATIONS

Start slowly on your runs, run at a steady pace that feels right for you and avoid worrying about how fast or slow you are going.  You need to also be prepared to adjust your pace during the run as well, expect to feel more tired than usual as the heat zaps your energy. Run on how you feel and listen to your body and look out for the signs of heat stroke. Let your body temperature gradually return to normal when you return from your run and cool down by spraying yourself with water.

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Tapering

Taper, or tapering, refers to the reduction of exercise before a race. Tapering is believed to be essential for best performance and can take from as little to a week to two or three weeks.

Tapering for your race is one of the most important parts of your preparation. When the gun goes off it is important that you have some fire and the way to find that fire is to ease off the training in the days, and weeks leading up to the race. Taper for approximately the same amount of days as the length of the race. Try not to fit in any last minute rush miles or long runs, you will be as fit as you will get. Resist temptation to modify your taper based on feelings of being edgy from excess energy and if you feel fat during tapering don’t panic, these are normal feelings so don’t fast or miss meals, as it is crucial to eat enough to maintain energy and health.  Resting the muscles allows them to store more carbs for the marathon effort and in conjunction with tapering, fuelling with carbs will saturate your muscles with glycogen to help power you past the Wall.  This includes carbs consumed in the day going into the race, on race morning and on the run.

So the reason you may feel lethargic and slow is because your glycogen stores are (and should be) continuously full because your low training load isn't depleting them the way it does when you are training hard. You have also become accustomed to lots of activity so when you cut your activity down it does make you feel somewhat weary at times. As I said eat carbs still and protein, drink milk before you go to bed and stay away from people who have colds. Try to drink at least 2 litres of water a day in the final week before the race, it's helps keep the glycogen in your muscles.

You don’t have to cut back on all your activities but it's no use cutting back on the running to substitute it with gardening or cleaning the house or walking around the shops. These activities all require energy and strength and so need to be cut out a few days before the race. Don't jeopardise your chance of running well on race day because the lawn needed mowing or weeds needed pulling up. A few more days of grass growth or dust in the house won't do anyone any harm.  So continue to follow your training plan and doing a final speed session the week before the race will finely tune your sense of pacing, as I said earlier you need to still have fire in your muscles.  Don’t change your pacing for your final week to running slowly as this could make you feel even more sluggish and alter your running form.  This final week is a good time to do a few short runs so 3 or 4 miles at race pace.

Plan to use the time for activity that is going to benefit rather than hinder. If you are used to getting a massage you should schedule time for this (but not if you don't normally have it done). You could also schedule in some flexibility work or yoga, if you are used to it. If the activity is relaxing and not something new to you it may be of added benefit.

Give yourself the best chance you can by taking it easy with plenty of relaxation for a few days leading up to your race and get plenty of sleep.  Tapering can be the most dangerous period of the entire training programme.  Your body and mind are well rested and peaking for a top performance; it’s hard to hold back when you feel so good but rein yourself in, don’t run too fast or too far otherwise you could blow the entire 12 week build up (or even longer).

Start thinking about the race itself and prepare yourself psychologically, think about how you are going to cope with pre race anxiety, how are you going to maintain concentration whilst racing and running through discomfort and fatigue, start visualising your race, how are you going to break it down?

The last few weeks of the training plan are a guide only, you have done the hard work so if you reduce your miles in this time it will not make any too much difference, it is better to be slightly under prepared than have OTS (Over Training Syndrome).  If you are feeling tired or have niggles then don’t get hung up on the plan, just reduce it slightly. 

Training Recipes

I have written some basic advice about fuel and hydration as this topic area is huge I’ve condensed it down to what I think are the most important things and added some recipe ideas for you as well so that you get the optimal amount of nutrients in your diet.

Running is a great way to burn calories but sometimes we can get caught up in a bit of a trap, we may start thinking that because we have run we can eat what we want (which we can't) or we may be so keen to loose weight that we don't eat enough.  Running one mile roughly burns 100 calories. So it is a very fine balance between needing to eat more as you are using up more energy and therefore more hungry and making sure you eat heathily.  

As a runner the reality is if you don’t have enough fuel or water prior to running it can cause mental tiredness as well as making you feel like you are running through treacle which can result in you having a rubbish run.

Your body needs carbs and these are stored as energy in the muscles and liver as glycogen, they are then quickly and efficiently released when you are active or exercising.  Low carb diets are not good for active people but it's about choosing the right carbs, wholemeal bread, pasta, pitta bread, wholemeal wraps are good choices. You also need good fats as these are an essential source of fuel and energy as they are released more slowly. Protein is essential in running as you need protein after a run to help repair the muscles.  And to make your body works more efficiently you need water for effective storage of the carbs, basically the water keeps the carbs in your muscles until you need it.

The following foods are nutrient-dense carbs that should form the base of your diet.

Breads, cereals and wholegrains (eg oats, pasta and rice), fruit, starchy vegetables (eg potato, butternut squash) legumes (eg lentils, beans, peas and peanuts) dairy products (eg skimmed milk, full fat Greek yoghurt).

Nutrient poor carbohydrate

Foods and fluids that contain carbohydrate but minimal or no other nutrients

All sugars (eg dextrose, sucrose, honey, molasses) soft drinks, energy drinks, lollies, carb gels, sports drinks and cordials and any type of white bread.

This shouldn’t be a major part of your everyday diet.

High-fat carbohydrate

Foods that contain carbohydrate but are also high in fat

Pastries, cakes, chips, crisps and chocolate.

Occasional foods that are best not consumed when training/biking to work/running

Getting your food right can be quite tricky , basically food has a GI (Glycemic Index) number which measures how quickly foods containing Carbs can boost your blood glucose levels after eating, ie give us energy.  High GI foods- 0ver 70 fill you quickly and give a fast burst of energy however they leave you hungry again a short time later, for example you may have cereal for breakfast, Special K or Bran Flakes but actually the sugar and GI score are so high that by 11am you are starving hungry. This is an example of a food that fills you up but not for long. Low GI foods that fall below 50 fill you up but they raise blood glucose slowly giving a more continuous energy release which means that you don't get that hungry feeling so quickly after eating.

The majority of fruits and vegetables fall in low to medium GI foods whilst some processed foods eg cornflakes, white bread are high in GI.  Look at improving your quality of food and eat small and oftern so that  you can maximise storage.

I suggest that you optimise how much nutrition you have in one day, make sure you have foods that are high in nutrients, so fruit, nuts, porridge, wholemeal pitta, hummous, cooked meats etc and vary what you eat day by day. You could have stewed fruit for breakfast with some Greek yoghurt and a bit of honey or black pudding or ham and eggs.  Try to have porridge or a smoothie for breakfast this will release energy slowly.  Snack on fruit and nuts, banana nut butter sandwich and try to cut down on your sugar content in your food.  My rule of thumb is to aim for food that has no more sugar content than 6/7g per 100g.  You will find that low fat foods have more sugar so go for full fat and have Greek yoghurt (Total 0% fat is best for low sugar and then throw in some blueberries or raspberries, add a bit of honey or maple syrup).

Try different things and see what works for you, eat at least 2 hours before you run and if you are really hungry before your run you can have a banana to keep you going.  If you have any questions just ask.

Here are some recipes for you to try out, they are full of nutrition and very simple to do.  Fuelling as a runner isn't about diet it abouts making sure you get maximum nutrients in your daily calorie intake.  Try and eat foods that are nutritious and make things from scratch.  Having fruit as a snack is brilliant if you are feeling peckish and having the odd burger or piece of cake at the weekend is fine if you eat healthily for the majority of time.  It's about making sure you can meet the demands of your training plan which is anything from 5k to a marathon. 

Breakfast

Breakfast Shake

½ cup of fat free Greek yogurt

¾ cup of skimmed milk

¼ cup of rolled oats

1 tsp clear honey

Blend until smooth and serve straight away

 

Summer Fruit Smoothie

10 raspberries

5 strawberries

1 tbsp redcurrents

1/3 cup fat free Greek yogurt

Handful of ice

1/3 cup skimmed milk

Blend until smooth and serve straight away

 

Banana & Almond Smoothie

Good for recovery or breakfast

1 ripe banana frozen (being frozen is optional)

1 cup of skimmed milk

2 tsp Nut Butter

Peel and chop the banana then put it in a blender with the remaining ingredients.  Blend until smooth and serve straight away

Stewed Fruit

Put a handful of frozen blackberries, cherries, blueberries into a pan with 2 tbsp of water and sugar to taste and slowly simmer.  These can be served with natural greek yoghurt and a handful of nuts

Scramled egg pitta

This is a good breakfast or lunch option the day before a race or just if you fancy a change to your normal routine.

2 large eggs

1tbsp skimmed milk

1 large wholemeal pitta bread

Salt and pepper

Apple chutney to serve

Whisk up the eggs until fluffly, season with salt and pepper and pour into a non stick saucepan over a low heat and cook for 2-3 mins until stiffened.  Toast the pitta then slice open, spoon in the scrambled egg mixture into the pocket of the pitta and serve hot with the chutney.

Black pudding, poached egg and Asparagus

Grill 2 slices of black pudding, poach 2 eggs and steam a handful of aspargus and serve when cooked.

Lunch Suggestions

Mackerel Pate

I love this as it's full of protein and easy to make.  You can have this with pitta chips (see below)

2 Peppered smoked mackerel skinned and boned fillets

2 tbsp cream cheese

2 tbsp fat free Greek yogurt

Juice of a lemon

1              Put everything in a bowl and mash up, you can use a food processor or blend with a fork.

2               Put in a bowl and over with cling film, this is good with pitta bread, wholemeal crisp rolls or oatcakes.  Keep refrigerated for up to 2 days

Pitta chips

Why: Pitta provides fibre and slow releasing carbohydrates to power you through any afternoon slumps. These baked versions are far healthier than any shop-brought crisps.

Ingredients (serves 2) 

2 x wholemeal pitta bread

1 tsp coconut oil

1 tbsp sesame seeds (optional) 

Seasoning

Method

Heat the oven to 180 degrees. Slice the pittas in half, width ways, so they are into really thin slices, then cut into smaller triangular shapes.

Grease a baking tray with the oil and then lay out the pitta. Season and put into the oven for about 10 minutes until crisp.

 

Mushroom, spinach and Halloumi Salad

1tbsp olive oil

300g mushrooms, thickly sliced,

1 garlic glove, crushed

300g halloumi, drained and sliced

150g cherry tomatoes

150g baby spinach leaves

1 handful of basil leaves

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp clear honey

2 tsp dried oregano

Heat the oil in a non stick frying pan.  Add the mushrooms and garlic and fry for a few minutes until the mushrooms soften.  Remove from the pan and leae to one side.

Add the halloumi slices to the pan and cook for about 4 mins, turning once, until golden on both sides.  Remove from the pan and leave on one side.

Put the tomatoes, spinach and basil in a large salad bowl.  Add the mushrooms and halloumi and toss gently to combine.

Mix together the balsamic vinegar, honey and oregano in a small jug, then pour over salad and serve straight away.

Prawn & Orange Salad

150g mixed salad leaves

3 Oranges, divided into segments

1 ripe adovado, peeled, pitted and cut into chuncks

250g cooked king prawns

1 red onion finely chopped

1 raw beetroot, peeled and grated

50g walnuts chopped

For the dressing

1tbsp of nut oil

1 tsp clear honey

juice of 1/2 lime

Put all the salad ingredients in a large salad bowl and toss them together lightly

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small jug and drizzle over the salad, toss and serve straight away

Serves 4

Salmon Wrap

Serves 2

200g grilled or canned salmon, skinned and flaked

2 tbsp plain yoghurt

1 1/2 tbsp lime juice

2 wholemeal torilla wraps

1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced

2 large tomatoes, sliced

2 handfuls of shredded lettuce

Mix the salmon with the yoghurt and lime juice

Divide the salmon mixture equally between the wraps and top each one with half the avocado, tomato and lettuce.  Roll and fold each wrap to encase the filling. Serve straight away or wrap in cling film for a portable meal.

Chicken wrap

Why: The classic chicken wrap provides a healthy balance of carbs and protein, plus fibre from the wholemeal wrap. Adding the leaves gives you a nutritious dose of iron and vitamin C. It’s also super quick to prep.

You need: one wholemeal wrap, half a chicken breast, 1 tbsp pesto, small handful rocket or spinach, sun dried tomatoes.

To assemble: Cook your chicken breast by poaching in hot water or roasting. Meanwhile spread the wrap with pesto then slice tomatoes into small pieces. When the chicken is cooked slice half of it and arrange in the wrap – use the other half for the next day, and add tomato and rocket, then wrap up.

Smoked salmon and rocket sandwich

Why: sometimes a simple sandwich is all you want. This sandwich is full of heart healthy fats and omega-3 for your joints from the salmon and avocado.

You need: Two slices of bread of your choice (ideally wholemeal, seeded or Rye), two slices smoked salmon, ½ avocado, butter to spread, lemon juice and black pepper.

To assemble: butter the bread, then layer on the salmon and slices of avocado, squeeze with lemon juice and add black pepper. Wrap in foil. 

 

Green Club Sandwich

3 slices wholegrain or rye toast

3 tbsp ready-made houmous

1 small avocado (100g), stoned and sliced

1 handful rocket leaves

8-12 cherry tomatoes, sliced

Method

Toast the bread and spread humus evenly over one side of each slice. On one slice of bread, lay half the avocado, rocket and tomato. Season with pepper, then cover with another slice.

Pile on the rest of the avocado, rocket and tomato, season again and top with the third slice. 

 

Baked Sweet Potatoes and Beans

4 small sweet potatoes

1 tbsp smoked paprika, plus extra to serve

1 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

splash of Worcestershire sauce (Lancashire sauce is a veggie option)

2 x 400g cans mixed beans in water, drained

400g chopped tomatoes

4 tbsp light soured cream, to serve

Method

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Pierce the sweet potatoes a few times with a fork, then cook them in the microwave on High for 8 mins or until soft. Rub with 1 tsp of the paprika, 1 tsp of the oil and some seasoning. Transfer to a baking tray, put in the oven and cook for 10-15 mins until crispy.

Meanwhile, make the beans. Cook the onion in the remaining oil until soft. Add the garlic, sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and the remaining paprika, and cook for a further 1-2 mins until sticky. Tip in the beans, tomatoes and a splash of water, and simmer until the sweet potatoes are ready.

Serve the sweet potatoes with the beans on top, a dollop of soured cream and a pinch of paprika, if you like.

Avocado & Feta Toasts

4 slices of seeded bread

1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped

60g feta chees, crumbled

Juice of 1/2 lemon

pinch of dried chilli

Toast the bread

Put the avocado, feta, lemon juice and chiili flakes in a bowl and mash together

Top the toast with the avocad and cheese mixture and serve immediatelya

 

Orange beef sandwich

Ingredients

4 slices wholegrain bread

115g sliced roast beef

55g blue cheese

1 orange, peeled and cut into segments

140g spinach

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Pinch of salt

Beetroot or horseradish sauce

Stack it

Spread a tablespoon of the beetroot-horseradish sauce on one side of each of the bread slices and top two of them with an equal amount of roast beef, cheese and orange segments. Next, toss the spinach with oil, vinegar and a pinch of salt. Top the orange segments with the greens and
the remaining bread, sauce-side down.

Serves 2

Thai chicken sandwich

Ingredients

4 wholewheat pittas

120g chopped cucumber

1 small carrot, grated

1 spring onion, sliced

2 tbsp mint, chopped

Juice of ½ lime

1 tsp sesame oil

Pinch of salt

250g cooked shredded chicken

Toss the cucumber, carrot, spring onion, mint, lime juice and sesame oil together with a pinch of salt. Spread the sauce inside the pittas and fill them with an equal amount of the chicken and the cucumber mixture.

Serves 4  

Some ideas for fillings for sandwiches either in wholemeal bread, pitta or wholemeal wrap unless otherwise stated

Meat and fish

Overly processed meat has a deservedly bad reputation, but there are some health-conscious choices out there. These are a cut above the rest.

Black Forest ham A stellar protein-to-fat ratio of 10:1, and this dry-cured and smoked cut also contains less sodium and sugar than other hams.

Rotisserie chicken It may not be cut and packaged, but all you have to do is pull the juicy, seasoned meat off the bones. To slash calories, ditch the fatty skin.

Roast beef This lean cut contains energy-boosting iron and less than seven grams of fat per 100g.

Smoked salmon A good source of protein and omega-3 fats, which may help post-run muscle soreness. Tastes great on rye bread, too.

Turkey breast Nearly fat-free, slices of turkey breast are almost pure protein.

Vegetarian

For a stomach-filling veggie sarnie, load your bread with one of these standout options.

Halloumi Made from sheep's and goat's milk, this lower-fat cheese is firm and slightly salty. It doesn’t melt when grilled or fried, so it's a great meat replacement.

Portobello mushrooms The steaks of the veggie world add meaty bite to sandwiches. Snap off the stems, then roast or grill the caps until tender. Packing a mere 42 calories each,

Smoked tofu Smoky flavour, meaty texture and rich in protein.

Tempeh Made from fermented soybeans, tempeh provides beneficial bacteria for improved digestive health. Heat the pieces in a frying pan or on a grill.

Cheeses

OK, so cheese adds calories, but it also significantly pumps up the taste – and offers some nutritional benefits. ‘Think of cheese as a way to add bone-building calcium and muscle-friendly protein to your sandwiches,’. Portion control is key, as is choosing wisely. Here are some of the most common options, stacked in no particular order:

Emmental Tastes great and the fat helps make your sandwich seem more filling.

Feta Even full-fat versions of this salty cheese have a fat content that isn’t too alarming. Eat it after a sweaty run to replenish sodium levels.

Blue cheese The ripening process involved in making cheeses such as Roquefort or Camembert elevates levels of cholesterol-lowering and anti-inflammatory compounds that help guard against heart disease. Their strong flavours also mean you’ll probably be satisfied with less.

Cheese slices Heavily processed cheese lacks naturally occurring nutrients.

Goat’s cheese Look for a brand made with grass-fed goat’s milk for a cheese rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fats. ‘Softer cheeses like goat’s and fresh mozzarella tend to have fewer calories because of their additional water,’

Mature cheddar Packed with protein and the flavour intensifies over time.

Toppings

For a more dynamic sandwich, think beyond lettuce and tomato to enjoy exciting new flavours and textures, and hefty nutritional benefits.

Baby kale Less bitter than standard kale and the leaves can be eaten whole.

Fruit Sliced mango, orange segments, grated apple and sliced figs add sweetness along with key nutrients such as vitamin C.

 

Evening Meals

 

Gazpacho Chicken Salad

I have this the evening before a run, not only is it tasty but it's easy to make and very transportable.

Slice a cucumber into long strips with a peeler; squeeze out any excess water.  Toss with 500g of shredded chicken, 2 chopped peaches, 350g halved cherry tomatoes, 1 sliced yello pepper, ½ diced red onion, half a small, day-old baguette cut into cubes (or WHOLEWHEAT PASTA), and 75g feta cheese.  Drizzle with a dressing made with 80ml extra virgin olive oil, a few leaves of fresh basil, 2 tbsp of red wine vinegar, and ¼ tsp each of salt and pepper. Serves 6

 

One Pot Chicken Casserole

Another good option for the night before a race

4 Skinless boneless chicken breasts

1 large onion, cut into chunks

4 large carrots, cut into chunks, 2 large parsnips peeled and cut into chunks

2 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Juice of 1 orange

1 tbsp clear honey

1 handful of rosemary leaves

1 litre of chicken stock

Salt and pepper

Pre heat oven to 180

Put the chicken breasts into a large casserole dish and surround with the onion, carrots, parsnips and potatoes.  Mix together the garlic, orange juice honey and rosemary and stir into the dish.  Finally, pour the stock over the chicken and veg and season.

Cover and cook for 45-60 mins until the vegetables are all cooked through and the chicken juices run clear.

 

Italian-style beef stew
 

1 onion, sliced

1 garlic clove, sliced

2 tbsp olive oil

300g pack beef stir-fry strips, or use beef steak, thinly sliced

1 yellow pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced

400g can chopped tomatoes

sprig rosemary, chopped

handful pitted olives

Method

In a large saucepan, cook onion and garlic in olive oil for 5 mins until softened and turning golden. Tip in the beef strips, pepper, tomatoes and rosemary, then bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 mins until the meat is cooked through, adding some boiling water if needed. Stir through the olives and serve with mash or polenta.

 

Summer Chicken

Ingredients

 tbsp olive oil

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

200g pack cherry tomatoes

3 tbsp pesto

3 tbsp crème fraîche (half fat is fine)

fresh basil, if you have it

 

Method

Heat the oil in a frying pan, preferably non-stick. Add the chicken and fry without moving it until it takes on a bit of colour. Turn the chicken and cook on the other side. Continue cooking for 12-15 mins until the chicken is cooked through. Season all over with a little salt and pepper.

Halve the tomatoes and throw them into the pan, stirring them around for a couple of minutes until they start to soften. Reduce the heat and stir in the pesto and crème fraîche until it makes a sauce. Scatter with a few basil leaves if you have them, then serve with rice and salad or mash and broccoli.

 

Mediterranean chicken

Chicken is packed with protein, B vitamins and zinc, which boosts the immune system. The nitrates in the spinach help boost oxygen delivery to your muscles.

Choose your wholemeal pasta                                     

500g fusilli, conchiglie or penne (cooked) 

Then mix in…                                    

300g cooked and chopped chicken                                    

400g baby spinach                                   

55g sliced sun-dried tomatoes

40g diced feta

Toss with the dressing                                   

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil                                 

1 tbsp red-wine vinegar                                 

2 cloves garlic, minced                                  

2 tsp Italian seasoning 

 ¼ tsp black pepper

And garnish with…                                    

Toasted pine nuts

 

Feta and Sweet Potato

A great recovery meal after a training session

4      Sweet Potatoes

1 bunch of spring onions chopped

100g feta cheesed crumbled

Green salad leaves and cherry tomatoes

Pre-heat the oven to 200oC and pierce each sweet potato several times with a fork, then bake for 40-45 mins until cooked through and tender.  Remove from the oven and cut in half

Prehear the grill to medium and very carefully scoop out the sweet potatoe flesh, keeping the skins intact.  Mix the flesh with the spring onions and feta cheese, then spoon the mixture back into the empty skins.

Grill the sweet potatoes for 5-10 mins until golden brown and serve with a tomato salad.

Roasted spicy sweet potato and halloumi bake

For this recipe you can use a variety of vegetables for the roasted vegetable bake, adding in squash, other peppers, carrots - whatever odds and ends are in the fridge. You can also add a can of chopped tomatoes if you want to add some more juiciness to the dish.

Ingredients

1 red pepper, cored and sliced into thick lengths

1 courgette, cut into thick rounds

3 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

3 tbsp olive oil, plus a little for drizzling

3 garlic cloves, crushed

3 medium red onions, peeled and cut into wedges of 4-6 pieces per onion

1/2 aubergine, cut into chunks

1 red chilli, sliced

Paprika - a few sprinkles

250 g (8.8oz) light halloumi cheese, cut widthways then into chunks of 1cm thickness

15 pepperdew peppers roughly chopped

15-20 cherry tomatoes, halved

2 handfuls of coriander, roughly chopped

Juice of 2 limes

Handful of seeds (optional) 

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 190C/170 fan

Prepare all the vegetables then spread them out on a baking tray, pour over a few glugs of olive oil and mix into the vegetables with hands, adding seasoning and the chopped garlic and chilli. I often add a few sprinkles of paprika too.

Roast for 25 minutes or until they are tender.

Add the halved cherry tomatoes and roughly chopped pepperdew peppers, and halloumi to the dish. Cook for a further 10-15 minutes.

Scatter the chopped coriander on top of the dish (you could also add mint here if you desired). Squeeze the lime wedges over the dish to give an amazing tang.  

Sweet Potato & Lentil Curry

This recipe is so simple! It'll take you around half an hour including cooking time, so easy to make after a busy day at work and the perfect winter warmer for those cold February evenings. Again you can add some additional veggies if you desire,

2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil

1 red onion, chopped

1 tsp cumin seed

1 tsp mustard seeds (any colour)

1 tbsp medium curry powder

100g red or green lentils, or a mixture

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

500ml vegetable stock

400g can chopped tomatoes

400g can chickpeas, drained

¼ small pack coriander

natural yogurt to serve

 

Method:

Heat oil in a large pan, add onion and soften for a few minutes. Add the spices and cook for 1 min more, then stir in the lentils, sweet potatoes, stock and chopped tomatoes.

Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 20 mins until the lentils and sweet potatoes are tender. Add the chickpeas, then heat through.

Season, sprinkle with coriander, and serve with natural yogurt.

 

Roasted Ratatouille Chicken

1 onion, cut into wedges

2 red pepper, seeded and cut into chunks

1 courgette, cut into chunks

1 small aubergine, cut into chunks

4 tomatoes, halved

4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

4 chicken breasts, skin on

few rosemary sprigs (optional)

Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Lay all the vegetables and the tomatoes in a shallow roasting tin. Pour over the olive oil and give everything a good mix round until well coated (hands are easiest for this).

Put the chicken breasts, skin side up, on top of the vegetables and tuck in some rosemary sprigs, if using. Season everything with salt and black pepper and drizzle a little oil over the chicken. Roast for about 35 mins until the vegetables are soft and the chicken is golden. Drizzle with oil before serving.

Snacks to mix and match:

The key to your snacks is to also try to include a little protein in there, thus stopping the sugar high followed by ravenous hunger that returns. 

A banana with peanut butter (see below)

Oat cakes with peanut butter or hummus

Oat cakes with Makerel Pate (see below)

Half an avocado with salt, pepper and lemon

Pitta chips (See below)

Sweet potato wedges (See below)

Vegetable crudités with hummus

Mixed nuts

Low fat Greek  yoghurt with berries (or any other fruit).

Chopped apple with almonds 

 

Banana & Nut Butter Sandwich

Slice the banana in half lengthways

Spread the Nut Butter across one half of the banana and then replace the top like a sandwich.  This can be eaten straight away or wrapped and transported for later.

Mackerel Pate

2 Peppered smoked mackerel fillets, skinned

2 tbsp low fat cream cheese

2 tbsp fat free Greek yogurt

Juice of 1 lemon

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth

Chill in a bowl and it will keep for up to 2 days

Sweet potato wedges

Why: Sweet potatoes are full of slow releasing energy so they will see you through an evening run. Plus they contain vitamin C for immunity, anti-oxidants for recovery and anti-inflammatory properties to reduce DOMs (the ache you feel in your legs after running). You can prepare these ahead of time and portion them out for the days ahead.

How: 

Ingredients

3 x medium sweet potatoes

Seasoning

½ tsp paprika

Drizzle of oil of your choice

 

 

Method

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Chop up the sweet potatoes into wedge shapes.

Then put them in a baking dish and drizzle the oil on, use your hands to coat the potato in it, then sprinkle on the paprika and seasoning to your taste. Place into the oven for about 20 minutes. Check and shake tray, then cook further if necessary until potato is cooked through and slightly crispy. 

Pitta chips

Why: Pitta provides fibre and slow releasing carbohydrates to power you through any afternoon slumps. These baked versions are far healthier than any shop-brought crisps.

How:

Ingredients (serves 2) 

2 x wholemeal pitta bread

1 tsp coconut oil

1 tbsp sesame seeds (optional) 

Seasoning

Method

Heat the oven to 180 degrees. Slice the pittas in half, width ways, so they are into really thin slices, then cut into smaller triangular shapes.

Grease a baking tray with the oil and then lay out the pitta. Season and put into the oven for about 10 minutes until crisp.

 

Mocha Shake

3 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp instant coffee powder

300ml skimmed milk

200ml coccnut water

handful of ice

Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.  Poor into a class and servie straight away

How to improve your running

Running is the one sport that people think that they don’t have to worry about technique, running is simple isn’t it, you just put your trainers on and run; if only that was true.  By improving your running technique you can improve as a runner by running more efficiently and subsequently running faster. Poor technique can lead to you becoming tired more easily as you are not running efficiently and this can lead to injury if you have bad form.

As a running coach I do not believe in changing a runner’s running style, we all have our own unique way of running and there is no perfect running form.  However, I do believe that by making the following small adjustments you can become a better runner.

  Here are my top tips that will help you develop good running form

Posture                    

You should run tall and in the direction that you are travelling in, your shoulders should be relaxed, back and down, try running with your shoulders bunched up to your ears, this should feel uncomfortable and unnatural.  You would soon tire if you continued to run like this over any distance. Relax your shoulders and keep your head high, look ahead of you with your jaw relaxed and your mouth open.

Arms                         

To see how important arms are when you run  try running 10m with your arms above your head or behind your back. By doing this hopefully you will see how out of control and uncoordinated you may feel and how your arms balance you.  Bend your arms at the elbow, about a 90-degree angle and drive your elbow back, as though you are hammering a nail into a wall.  This stops the arms crossing your body and consequently twisting your torso.  If you run with a strong arm drive your body will look for symmetry therefor your arms should match your legs, and it’s easier to drive our arms back when you are tired than driving the knee up but by doing this, trust me your legs will follow.

Hands           

Your hands do not want to be clenched into a fist, they need to be relaxed; clenching them  wastes too much energy. Imagine that you have a budgie in each hand and you are gently carrying the budgies so that they don’t get squashed, if you clench your fists you will kill the budgies; remember “Don’t kill the budgies!”  In other words, keep your hands relaxed and slightly cupped.

Hips   

If you run with high hips this will keep you in the tall upright posture that you should be aiming for, before you run just tuck your tailbone (your bottom) in.  This pushes the hips forward and enables you to run tall. Imagine that you have a bowl of water in your pelvis; the idea is that you don’t spill the water so keep your hips stable and balanced when running, try not to leak any water out of the bowl.

 

Foot strike              

There is no right way or wrong way to land on your feet, generally as long as you land underneath your center of gravity and don’t over stride this will help improve your leg turnover, so imagine that you are “popping” off the ground.

 

Try these adjustments next time you run, work from the head downwards and spot check

how you are doing periodically.  As you increase your miles and as you start to tire keep a

check list in your head, where are my shoulders? What are my arms doing, keep my head up

high and above all run relaxed.

 

Warm up and Cool down routine

Warm up

Butt Kicks

Run 10 metres ahead of you with your thighs more or less locked in a neutral position and try to kick yourself in the glute with your heel on each stride. Focus on keeping the rest of your body still and simply flicking your lower leg backward.  Do two or four reps of 15 kicks with each leg.

High Knees

Taking short steps with a very quick cadence, alternate thrusting knees upward until your thigh breaks a plane parallel to the ground. Focus on soft, flat footstrikes near the ball of your foot while using your core to lower your leg down slowly instead of letting it crash to the ground. Do two to four reps of 15 lifts on each knee.

Bounding

On a flat or very slightly downhill slope, alternate thrusting into the air off one leg in an exaggerated skipping motion. The focus should be on a powerful leap into the air and a quick (but not super fast) cadence. Your arm motion should be synced to the opposite leg’s action, holding steady for the brief moment while you’re off the ground. Do three to four reps of 10 leaps on each leg.

Grapevines

Standing upright with your head and torso facing forward, move laterally in one direction by placing your trailing leg in front of the lead leg. Then move the lead leg in that same lateral direction and place the trailing leg in front of the lead leg. Maintain a fluid motion with your arms rotating in the opposite direction from the legs. Do two to four 50-meter reps to the left and right, facing the same direction for each lateral movement.

Slow Skipping

Skip with a moderate leap off of one foot and return to the ground and immediately leap off the other foot, main- taining a compact arm swing as if you were running. This slow-action skipping drill should have a staccato rhythm. Do two or four 50-meter reps.

Running Backwards

Although it will seem awkward at first, try to replicate your forward running motion while moving backward. You’ll still be pushing off of your forefoot and swinging you arms, but you’ll be lunging backward with your hamstrings and using core muscles to stabilize differently than you’re used to while moving forward. Focus on form, not on speed. Do two or four reps of 50 to 100 meters.


Cool Down

Shoulder rotation

Rotate shoulders forwards and back.

Deltoid stretch

 Pull a straight arm across your chest and hug with the other arm.

Triceps stretch

Hold a bent arm by the elbow behind your head.

Quad stretch

Hold your foot against your glute, keeping your knees together and your standing leg soft

Groin stretch

Sit down with the soles of your feet together and push out your knees with your elbows.

Glute stretch

Sit down and place one bent leg over a straight leg and gently hug your bent knee with both arms towards your chest.

Hamstring stretch

One leg in front of the other with a straight knee, hands on bent knee of hips, sit back on support leg with bottom out and back straight, bring the toes up to the nose of the straight leg

Ankle rotation

Stand on one foot, rotate the ankle on the other foot in one direction, then the other.

Don’t let the little things ruin your run

Running seems like a very simple sport in that you can put on a pair of trainers and just run; but sometimes running isn’t quite that straightforward and can be the small things that ruin a run.

Blisters

Blisters are very common and even tiny blisters can be extremely painful.  Blisters are caused by heat buildup from the friction of running, the skin becomes hot, it can separate, and this is when fluid fills the gap between the layers of skin. Anything that intensifies this friction can cause a blister. For example, having running shoes that are too big or too small, running in wet socks, running downhill, running a faster pace than normal or increasing your mileage too quickly can all contribute to the formation of a blister.  Ignoring a blister can lead to bigger problems in the long term so treat the blister straight away. Keep the area clean, dry and protected by Investing in special blister plasters. Throw away any thin cotton socks and purchase duel layer blister free socks that are cushioned in all common friction points and treat a blister as if it were a damaged muscle or joint so take time off from running if necessary.

Black Toenails

Most runners I know rarely show their naked feet due to the loss of/or blackened toenails.  Losing a toenail can be quite painful and again you may have to take some time off running until any pain subsides. Most blackened toenails are caused by trainers being too small; if there is no space between the front of your trainer and your toenail, your toenail is being bashed into the front of your shoe, on average, between 80-100 time per minute; that’s a lot of force going on between your toenail and the front of the shoe hence the blackened toenail.  Investing in correct fitting trainers and keeping your toenails short usually eliminates this problem.

Stitches

 Side stitches are very common amongst new runners and are very painful.  The best advice is to look at what you are eating and drinking on the days you are running, make sure you do not have a huge meal just before you run, if you eat and then run you could still be digesting your food whilst running and this could cause the discomfort of a stitch as your food is not properly digested.  The best thing to do is plan your day so that you fuel well at least 2 hours before you run, remember not everyone is the same so see what works best for you.  You could eat a bigger lunch if running in the evening and then just have a snack an hour before you run but try a few things out. Make sure you also drink plenty throughout the day as fluid aids with digestion.  Setting off too fast and not warming up can be another cause of a stitch so don’t go from standing to a full on run as this can cause short, shallow breathing, make sure you do a gently warm up first.

 Cramp

Cramp is the locking of the muscle in a sustained spasm which can suddenly cause a severe pain that in most cases is so intense it forces you to stop mid run.  Luckily cramp is only temporary and the causes could again be dehydration, changes in trainers, overworked muscles or an inadequate warm up.

Most minor ailments can be prevented by investing in a good pair of running trainers, a decent pair of running socks, eating and drinking well on your running days and by doing a 10-minute warm up before you head out for your run.

 

 

Cold Weather Training

Winter Training

Cold weather running can be a burden to the runner as the cold can have a significant effect on your body’s responses to exercise with increased health risk. The paths can be wet, narrow and slippery and you have to watch your footing as you can slip and slide around in the dark.

However, the biggest obstacle is putting your trainers on and just getting out of the front door.  The thought of running in cold weather can have a profound psychological effect on you and can become a bit of a barrier as it’s dark now before work and afterwards.  Just the thought of going out again in the cold and dark as the cold wind whips your face and burns your lungs….it hurts and so it’s easy to say “I’m not going out for a run today, it’s too cold and dark and depressing”. Then one lost run can turn into many and we go into a downward spiral thinking that we’re not good enough and we’ve missed too much and everyone will be faster than me. Sound familiar?

Fitness is a year round endeavor and keeping positive is part of the challenge so think of cold weather training as a challenge to overcome rather than a mountain that seems too high to climb.  How does a mouse eat an elephant? One bit at a time, so take cold weather training as one run at a time, see it as a way to keep ahead of all of the people who are sat on the couch, focus on your goals for the spring as you emerge from the winter stronger and fitter.  And most of the time I’ve found that the weather isn’t as bad as it looks you just need to be prepared.

The good news is that running in cool or moderately cold temperatures can bring faster race times, remember how horrible it is to run in the heat as the sun zaps your energy?  When you run in cold weather there is  less blood needed to transport heat to the skin for cooling and more blood is available to send needed energy to the working muscles in the legs.  It's a different story if you are running in extreme cold temperatures and luckly we don't really get too much extreme cold weather in the south but running in temperatures of -37 degrees C reduces both your core body temperature and maximal aerobic power which can affect performance plus the extra clothing can also restrict your movement.

If you have sensitive bronchial or asthma cold air can irritate these conditions as inhaled air attracts moisture and heat from the body and can cause dryness of the mouth, a burning sensation in the throat which can lead to coughing.  Wearing a protective cover over the nose and mouth helps most runners as this cover traps the exhaled moisture and warmth of the next inhalation and reduces the above symptoms.

Dressing for cold weather running

The key is to wear the right clothes in the right combination, so dress to stay warm but not too warm, a base layer and a t-shirt with long leggings should be suffice. Dressing in layers ensures you trap your body heat.

Dress to keep dry, a waterproof jacket over the top of your running gear acts as a layer to help you stay drier and warmer.

Dress to protect the extremities, toes, fingers, ears, face and head

Warm up and cool down

A proper warm up is even more important in winter because exposure to cold stiffens muscles and joints.  Starting training runs or races too fast on cold days could result in muscle strain and standing shivering can use up essential fuel stores. Warm up the muscles as well as the heart rate and if you are racing just keep moving/slow running right up until the start.  In winter it is important that you bring extra layers so you can put these on for the cool down especially after interval training as getting cold quickly can lead to injury.

Don’t forget to drink as you can still be dehydrated in cold weather and allow your body to adjust to the cold so don’t go out too fast in the group runs.  Try not to pay too much attention to your training pace on very cold days, just go fast enough to keep warm.

All in all winter training can be fun, running together in the rain, cold and snow brings a sense of acomplishment and achievement, a shared experience that brings us closer together.  I've always said the hardest bit is putting your trainers on and getting out of the door, but by sticking with your training your will have the strength to run faster when the flowers boom in the Spring x

When is it time for new trainers?

There is no definite answer to this question as it depends on so many factors, however in my experience one thing is for certain that running or starting running in battered, worn out shoes is the leading cause of running injuries and can be as bad for you as running in shoes that just don’t fit you.

Running shoes are a consumable so even though you may have had them for a long time but not run many miles in them, you do need to be mindful of whether they are doing the job of protecting your feet/ankles/knees/hips as with any other consumable they do have a shelf life.  However, they are generally more expensive than many other consumables and people do treat them as long term products and tend to hold on to them for a long time.

Trainers are designed to have a shelf life, if you think of the cushioning of the midsole of a trainer as being similar to bubble wrap so with every step you take some of the bubbles burst and just like bubble wrap whose bubbles have been burst you end up with an un-cushioned and flat support system where there was once cushioning. 

The knock on effect of this cushioning breaking down is that the rest of the support and structure of your shoe also breaks down which can result in you not running in the same way as you first did when you were originally fitted for your trainers.  This means that your feet, calves, quads, hamstrings and hips may not go through the same motion as they first did when you were first fitted for your trainers.  The knock on effect of this is that the body will compensate for this mismatch and this compensation leads to not running as efficiently as you once were which can result in niggles or a long term injury.

As the breakdown of your trainers happens slowing, you don’t just wake up one morning and the trainers are no longer effective, it may be hard to pinpoint exactly when you need to replace them.  Here are my top tips for recognising the signs of when to replace your trainers

  • You start to have niggles in places that you’ve not had niggles before, it may be that you are starting to have aches, pains or injuries that you have not had before
  • You have run over 500 miles (again this is difficult to determine, some professionals advise 300 miles, others up to 800 miles but weather and terrain can also play a part in the deterioration of the trainer so think about where you have run)
  • Even if you have had your trainers for a long time but you haven’t run the suggested miles in them, adverse heat and cold can break the trainers down if they have been thrown in a cupboard
  • The rubber on the outsole has worn down on one side more than the other
  • If your trainer bends in the middle easily (the support has therefore broken down)
  • There is little or no give when you press firmly on the inside of the front of the shoe

My advice is if you are unsure it's worth going to a specialised running shop, take your old trainers with you and see what they say.  Most reputable shops won't sell you trainers that you don't need.

I have also embedded a YouTube clip that will help those of you who have weak glutes, just some simple exercises to do at home, the move that I showed you last night is on this clip.

5 Easy Exercises for Stronger Glutes

These easy exercises can be done anywhere to help strengthen your gluteal muscles. Glutes (A.K.A. butt, bottom, backside, booty or toosh), hold a lot of power and strengthening your glutes can help you become a better runner, cyclist, walker, jogger, skater, swimmer, dancer, squater....you get the idea right?!

Welcome to RunVerity Coaching

A warm welcome to RunVerity coaching, I am really looking forward to working with you. 

Training Plans

The training plans are generic, I have taken into acccount the information that you have provided for me and written them with that in mind, however they are not set in stone so if you are having a good week and you feel you could do more or if you are having a bad week, let me know and I can adjust it accordingly.  Life does get in the way sometimes and running is not just about running, there are other factors that can affect performance, so look upon the training plans as recipes, see what works for you and your lifestyle, we can always add extras in or take things out, so if you have any questions, please just ask.

I will be introducing technical skills during the first few weeks of training to reinforce running skills development, I won't be changing your running style at all, just making sure that you are technically running correctly and effeciently.

Each week there will be an article written here that is designed to help you with your running and your progress, subjects I will be covering will be nutrition, how to prevent injury, how to deal with injury, how to stay motivated and if there is something in particular that you would like to know about, just let me know.

I will be setting up an ABP Facebook group so if you would like to be part of this, please sent me a friend request, Run Verity, and I will get this organised.; you can also follow me on Instagram.

Here's a bit of info about what we will be doing on a Wednesday evening

Interval Training

Interval training is based on a simple formula: run at race pace or faster for segments that are much shorter than your race distance, with recovery breaks to minimize the stress on the body.

Intervals are the heart and soul of most competitive training programs.  They are the best way to improve race performances.

All runners benefit from a mixture of long intervals for strength endurance and stamina for holding race pace, and short ones for speed and power.  We will be doing both types to improve your race times.

Interval training/speed training is training that involves a series of low- to high-intensity workouts interspersed with recovery periods. The high-intensity periods are typically at or close to anaerobic exercise, while the recovery periods involve activity of lower intensity.

The objective with Interval Training is to give you the opportunity to train in a coached environment where I will help you to run faster and stronger, where you can learn to handle a modest amount of discomfort in a safe and supportive environment. 

Hill Training

We will do a mixture of hill training sessions as well as interval training and these will be varied over the course of the 12 weeks. 

Hill training is speed work in disguise! That is because you don’t have to run as fast to work hard, running hills, like lifting weights, is resistance training. Hills strengthen the leg muscles to overcome the incline and resistance of gravity. This strengthens the driving muscles, hamstrings, calves, buttocks and the quadriceps which don’t get much work on the flats. Ankles are strengthened as the feet push off to bound up hills and since you really have to pump the arms to get up hills, your upper body is strengthened too!