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Eight months ago I struggled to run a kilometre round the block, to run 10 of them was certainly out of the question…..or so I thought! I had previously completed the Couch to 5k with Run JB and decided to join the running club so I had people to run with. I had totally underestimated the effect it would have on my running and my self-belief. I started to build up my distance slowly on the continuous runs and even started to enjoy interval / fartlek training once I could see it was making me faster! I needed something to work towards so with a lot persuasion from Shona I entered the Calne 10k Clock Change Challenge.

Eeek the day of my first 10k race had arrived, Sunday 25th October. I woke early to ensure I had time to eat and digest my fuel for the race (porridge), but also because I was filled with nervous excitement and couldn’t sleep! It was a beautiful autumn day and the sun was shining. Bianca and I arrived in at Calne leisure centre an hour before the event where we met up with the rest of the gang; Shona, Manda, Emma W, Barbara, Emma H, and Amanda who guided us through the pre-race events of registering, fixing your number to your vest, warming up and the extremely important bathroom stop!

There was a real feeling of team spirit and excitement as the several hundred runners gathered at the start line. I placed myself at the back as my goal for this race was not time driven but to complete it. The horn sounded and we were off. Shona had insisted that it was a nice out and back route and as I got near the half-way point heading back to the finish line were Shona closely followed by Manda and Emma W; this was a great opportunity to cheer on others. What Shona had omitted when describing the course was the upcoming hill (or rather slight incline)!! However I was determined to run the whole 10k so the hill training technique kicked in and before I knew it I was coming down the other side having run past some runners who had stopped to walk!

I did not find this race easy and have never been so grateful to receive the jelly babies at 7K. The support from the marshals and organisers was great, but as I turned the corner into the field and approached the finish line I could hear the cheers from the crowd drowned out by the screams from Shona “go Sarah, fantastic running, you can do it”. At that point I knew I could complete it and the time suddenly became important, I could actually get under 1 hour 10 mins if I dug deep and sprinted……..

….…..after the race I collected my medal with pride and joined the rest of the Run JB gang. Our post-race debrief took place in Costa where we could re-fuel and await the official times………I did it 1 hour 9 mins and 56 seconds, what a great feeling. I had achieved what I thought was impossible, not only I had survived I had actually enjoyed it. I now have a 10K PB to beat and have entered the Reading Half in April next year!

Thanks to the amazing support of Shona, Jules and our Run JB community I had turned “I can’t” into “I can” and “I will” and you can too!

 

 

 
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Tagged in: 10k calne race review running
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Having never taken part in this event (or any other 10 mile race) I didn’t know what to expect...  the course was described online as ‘undulating’, which according to a running forum is code for mountainous / hilly, which was a bit terrifying after having already decided to register!  I needn’t have been scared though - the course was pretty steady (with the exception of a challenging incline  between miles 6 and 7) through lovely rural surroundings.  The course was an ‘out and back’ style route, which I liked, as the second half felt familiar and I also saw the faster runners heading back.  Markers were placed at each mile, which I found helpful when trying to keep a consistent pace and there was also a water station on the way out (and therefore back!).

I personally found the last 2 miles the most challenging because I hadn’t run for that long (time or distance) previously, however I will look forward to participating again next year as the event was well organised, with a friendly atmosphere from beginning to end.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking to increase their distance, or build it into their future half marathon training.  For me, I jumped from 10k straight to 10 miles and ached a lot the following day, so I would suggest thinking about this event enough in advance to build up to it gradually.

All in all, a great experience and a really enjoyable first Run JB event for me to be a part of!

 

 
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With exactly seven weeks to go until the Reading Half Marathon, those of you who have been following the Run JB training plan are looking forward to a recovery week. The concept may not be familiar to anyone new to endurance training, so here is our guide to the art of recovery.

Why is Recovery Important?

Recovery has both a physical and a psychological dimension. Physically, the reason we train is to stimulate a response in the body to adapt to the demands of the training regime. Our skeletal system needs to become stronger to cope with the frequency of impact on the joints. Training runs stimulate the creation of osteoblasts in the bones to form new bone tissue and increase bone density. This means that next time, we are able to run a little bit further. But this repair and strengthening process cannot happen whilst we run. It must occur afterwards whilst we are resting. A similar effect is in play with our muscles. Broken-down muscle tissue needs time to rebuild. Our body has a way of telling us that this needs to happen. Ever felt like you wanted to go straight to bed after a long run? Make sure you get an early night. The mind needs time to recharge as much as the body does. Psychologically, we need recovery days to prevent boredom and to prepare ourselves mentally for harder sessions. Motivating yourself for a hard tempo run or particularly long continuous run can be a lot easier if you know you have the next day off.

Active Recovery

Recovery is therefore crucial in order to achieve optimum performance. Without adequate recovery, the quality of your training runs will inevitably suffer. In practice, for most of us who work Monday to Friday, the weekend is the ideal time to do a long run. In this case, the following day (Sunday or Monday) is the ideal day to completely rest. If you really struggle with the thought of taking the day off completely, then you can use “active recovery”. Choose an activity with a focus on mobility, such as a short and easy swimming, Pilates or Yoga session. This will give the body a chance to recover whilst easing any sense of restlessness. During the working week, cross training is a great way to achieve an appropriate balance between training volume and intensity. The principle of specificity very simply dictates that your training needs to be specific to the demands of your goal. In other words, to get better at running you need to run regularly. However, by limiting the number of runs to three per week, you can use other forms of aerobic training to develop your cardiovascular fitness. One of the hugely beneficial aspects of triathlon training is that running, swimming and cycling make different demands on the muscular and skeletal systems. Alternating training sessions between the three disciplines therefore enables adequate recovery whilst maximising overall sustainable cardiovascular training volume.

What is a Recovery Week?

A recovery week is NOT a case of simply sitting on the couch for seven days! It simply involves reducing the overall volume of training for a week. This is relative to the volume to which the body has already become accustomed, so will vary significantly depending on the goal event. During the last recovery week of my ironman training, I swam 3 miles, biked 85 miles and run a total of 24 miles! This may not sound like an easy week, but it this still achieved the desired recovery objective at the time, because the body was already capable of meeting these demands without further adaptation. In general terms, a reduction in the overall volume of training of around a third is recommended to achieve the desired effect. The taper at the end of a training plan is an extension of the recovery week principle. It typically lasts two to three weeks, depending on the nature of the goal event. In the case of a half marathon, a two week taper is recommended and this has been integrated into the Run JB Reading Half Marathon training plan (look out for a further blog article on the taper in the upcoming weeks). Less is Sometimes More The main point I want you to take away from this article is that if you try to ignore the need for recovery, it will eventually be forced upon you through either illness or injury. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to recovery, as a particular individual’s capacity for training varies tremendously depending on their exercise background, experience level, work and home demands and lifestyle. However, remember that less is sometimes more. It is not always about training harder, but about training smarter.

 
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As a Personal Trainer and Pilates instructor in Swindon I often get asked “would Pilates benefit or compliment my existing training schedule?” To answer this question, let me start by explaining what Pilates is all about.

Pilates focuses on what founder Joseph Pilates called the “powerhouse.” Often referred to as the core, this consists of your abdominal, back, buttock and upper leg muscles. Each exercise requires focus on this centre of the body while adhering to principles of concentration, fluidity, balance, centring, breathing and control. The beauty of each exercise is that you focus on using your deep muscles in a very slow and controlled way, Pilates really does make you think about how you move.

Did you know that there are 34 original Pilates exercises which have endless layers starting with beginners’ to intermediate and finally advanced. It is a class that offers constant progression and learning.  I would advise if you are new to Pilates to always start at the beginners’ level to gain an understanding of the fundamentals of Pilates and the exercises.

Mat Pilates classes are non-impact, making Pilates appropriate for all ages (I have class members ranging from 25 to 71 years old), fitness levels and sizes.  Pilates is performed in bare feet (or socks) enabling you to feel every movement and to allow flow from your joints. Instruction is “hands on” to correct and guide you in your movement. It is my job as a Pilates instructor to ensure you are in control, working within the appropriate layer to achieve the full benefit.

Pilates is not about cardiovascular fitness. You will not get out of breath as all exercises are slow and controlled.  However you will be moving in all directions. The main focus is always to lengthen your spine. Even though you will not get out of breath you will certainly feel that you are working and toning your muscles.

As an experienced Swindon Pilates instructor and Personal Trainer, I can adapt each exercise to suit you. I have many members tell me how after attending just a few of our classes they are walking taller, relaxing their shoulders and thinking more about their postures in everyday life WOW. You can see why Pilates is used for prevention and rehabilitation of injuries etc.

What are the benefits of Pilates?

Proper alignment balances your skeleton so your muscles are held at their ideal length, without tension. If your body is constantly held out of good alignment, it places a great strain on your muscles, ligaments, and joints, which will reduce your body’s ability to react to the force of gravity, resulting in aches and pains and inhibited movement.

Pilates is a wonderful body-conditioning programme because you don’t need any equipment in order to strengthen your body. You can simply use your own body weight to create resistance for your muscles and to tone up. This truly does mean that your workout will be only as effective as the effort you put in to the exercises.

We all want to achieve a strong body, but there must be a balance between strength and flexibility, and Pilates is the perfect exercise regime to achieve this. Tight muscles hinder your mobility and can lead to tension, aches, and pain. Flexibility is essential for your overall fitness and vitality. It ensures a greater range of movement in your joints, and will in turn mean your joints remain healthy and fare better against normal wear and tear as they age.

For a lot of us, our muscle tone while at rest may be quite weak. Muscles respond quickly to regular exercise, and after a few weeks of Pilates you should notice visible muscle tone and see your body begin to evolve. Pilates uses your body weight and the occasional prop as resistance for shaping your muscles, but it trains every part of your body evenly – front, back, and sides.

Pilates builds endurance within individual exercises and also within workouts. Focus on improving your concentration to build strength for both – endurance comes first from mental strength and therefore requires determination and persistence. Visualize your success and becoming stronger, and stay strong through challenging exercises.

Stress is one of the biggest negative factors of modern life, affecting your physical and mental wellbeing just as much as disease does. Frequent exercise is one of the best remedies for stress and has many benefits. Pilates focuses on breathing – a deep, mindful pattern of breathing that instantly enhances feelings of calm and release in the body and mind.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Pilates a hands on class?

The instructor will move around the room and correct your movement hands on if needed. 

Will I be able to keep up?

There is no peer pressure in Pilates, if you are a complete novice to exercise, beginners Pilates classes are perfect to get you started. You shall be mainly seated or lying down, with your focus on the movement and flow of the exercise.

I have high blood pressure can I attend? 

Yes provided you have spoken with your GP. Pilates is totally non-impact which will not increase your HR. You shall feel relaxed which will benefit your blood pressure.

I am very overweight will I be able to perform the exercises to the required level?

Yes, beginners’ Pilates is perfect for overweight and obese attendees. You are performing each exercise slowly whilst seated or lying down. A good instructor can tailor the exercise for you.

Am I too old to attend Pilates? 

Not at all, the only pre-requisite is that you are able to get up and down from the floor.

 
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I was delighted to hear last week that Simon Stevens, the new head of NHS England, has highlighted the role that business has to play in addressing the obesity crisis. 

Having called for greater “upstream preventive action” on obesity shortly after starting the role back in June, Stevens’ language has hardened.  Referring to obesity as “the new smoking”, he warned that it now represented a serious threat to the financial viability of the NHS.  Not surprising, given that the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes alone, strongly linked to excess weight, costs the NHS around £9 billion per year (an astonishing 10% of its entire budget).  Prevention is always better than cure.  So when NHS spending on bariatric surgery starts to exceed that of national lifestyle intervention programmes, it is time to take stock. Amongst the ideas to be presented this month in the NHS “Five Year Forward View” will be the introduction of financial incentives to employers to provide effective NICE-certified workplace programmes for employees.  Such initiatives could include running clubs, diet clubs, group weigh-ins or weight-loss competitions.

Not everyone welcomes the concept.  Chris Blackhurst of the ’I’ newspaper responded to Stevens’ speech with an article titled “obesity is none of your boss’s business”.   Arguing that the proposals represented “an extra mound of red tape that they could well do without”, Blackhurst accuses Stevens of passing the buck to business.Although reflecting the historically prevailing view, such an attitude is simply no longer credible.  Quite aside from the £29bn annual cost of sickness to UK business,  companies have a duty of care to their employees.  We spend more waking hours at work than anywhere else.  It is naïve to suggest that the workplace environment and culture has anything less than enormous influence on our wellbeing.   Office workers are commonly expected to sit for 8 hours or more per day at their desks.  We are simply not designed to do this.  Recent evidence suggests that prolonged sitting is an independent risk factor to our health, that cannot be compensated for even by regular intense exercise. Progressive employers are already trialling potential solutions to mitigate this risk. Innovations range from exercise ball chairs and stand up desks to even more radical concepts such as treadmill desks.

However, activity levels are only one part of the equation.  As someone who experienced 12 years in the corporate world, I am only too aware of the constant flow of sugary treats  when it comes to food in the office.  Colleagues would seize upon any opportunity to bring in cakes, biscuits, chocolates and sweets.  With offices becoming increasingly open plan,  practically every day someone in the room would have a birthday, a leaving do, or some other pretext to trigger the latest indulgence!  It takes a lot of willpower never to surrender to these omnipresent trays of temptation in a weak moment.  Of course each individual is ultimately responsible for what goes in their mouth, but research studies into the influence of proximity and visibility of food on consumption volumes cannot be ignored.  The seminal work of Brian Wansink in this area has demonstrated that our consumption is significantly and consistently affected by environmental factors.  It is time to face the facts - in the modern world of sedentary employment, obesity has inevitably become your boss’ business.

How progressive is YOUR employer in tackling these issues?  Is your workplace making you overweight?  We would love to hear your thoughts on what improvements you would like to see in your office.  Please share your comments via our Facebook Page.

 
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