runpositive

Your dedicated blog to keep you running positive

Guest blog post from Tim Oberg, parkrun AustraliaTim Parkrun

If you haven’t already heard of parkrun, chances are after reading this you will be wanting to head over here and join tens of thousands of other Aussie runners each Saturday morning.

parkrun Australia General Manager, Tim Oberg first came across parkrun in London and knew that he had to bring the phenomenon down under. Three years later, and over 100,000 Australian parkrunners are glad that he did!

We caught up with Tim to find out why so many people are getting their 5km fix in over 80 locations every Saturday with parkrun.

 

What made you want to bring parkrun to Australia?

I have always had a passion for health and fitness. When I came across parkrun in London I knew that it would be well received in Australia, however I don’t think anyone could have predicted the huge growth we have seen over the last 3 years.

 

Why did parkrun choose 5km as the official distance?

5km was chosen for parkrun as it is a short enough distance that it is achievable for walkers and slower runners yet long enough that it is still a good hit out for those with more experience. It also means that the time commitment for volunteers is much less than at a longer run, even the slowest runners tend to get around in less than an hour.

 

What benefits will people see when they get involved in a weekly parkrun?

The physical benefits of running 5km include: improved cardiovascular fitness; stronger muscles, joints, tendons and bones; helping to maintain healthy body weight.

 

We’re sure there’s a pretty awesome social side too!

The social benefits are arguably more valuable than the physical. The reason I say this is that ultimately an individual can go and run 5km anywhere at any time. What they can’t have however, is the amazing community of people that attend parkrun week-in week-out. The friendships that form at parkrun are strong and long-lasting and we also see plenty of examples of families using parkrun as an opportunity to gather together on a regular basis.

 

What are your top three tips to improve your 5km time?

1. Try and include some speed or interval training in during the week, it will really give you an extra gear when you start to feel the pinch during parkrun

2. Count your strides. You should be aiming for around 90 per leg per minute. Any less and you are overstriding, which is a very common mistake, and can lead to injury

3. Run with a friend who is faster than you. More often than not they will drag you along to a PB!

 

Does running in your local parkrun help with training for longer events, such as a half or full marathon?

Absolutely. Regular 5km runs, such as parkrun, provide an excellent base for stepping up to 10km races. If training for something longer than your parkrun can be used as a speed / tempo session.

 

Give us five reasons why you personally love running?

1. The health benefits, as described above, will hold me in good stead as I get older

2. You can do it anywhere, any time and with minimal equipment required

3. It is a great way to get to know a new area, especially when you are on holidays

4. Running tends to attract good people so it is an excellent way to make new friends

5. It’s free, no gym contract required!

 

Want to find your nearest parkrun? Or maybe even start your own? You can find a full list of the events here.

We’ve all arrived home from a hard day at work and needed to clear our head from the day’s worries. Daily exercise has been proven to help keep you calm, providing a release from external pressures that cause stress. It can help alleviate those day-to-day worries that keep you awake at night feeling pressured or anxious, weighing heavily on your energy levels and motivation.

To gain a better understanding of how exercise can help us with stress, we had a chat with mental health expert and CEO of ReachOut.com Australia, Jonathon Nicholas, to get an insight into how stress affects our bodies and how exercising can help us to manage it.

 

What kind of negative impact does stress have on our bodies?

Stress triggers our flight or fight response. So if the stress is brief and intense (like waiting for a race gun to go off) it can be positive. If the stress is persistent without resolution (like being stressed because you have too much work), then it’s harmful and has been linked to many mental and physical health problems.

 

What are your top three tips to alleviate stress?

Understand the cause and address it.

Learn simple calming techniques like a breathing exercise to manage stress symptoms.

Exercise, particularly running!

 

What are some of the most common causes that make people stressed in everyday life and how can we manage them?

The most common things that stress us are the things we should love. Work, family and/or friends are almost always top three. The most common reason is people find themselves in a situation that is worrying them but they can’t or don’t want to change it.

This kind of stress can be managed in two ways: you can manage the symptoms by learning relaxation techniques and doing exercise, or manage the underlying cause by making a change in your life. If stress is ongoing you definitely want to do both.

At ReachOut.com we’ve got some great fact sheets and tools to help people manage stress.

 

What role does exercise play in managing stress? Does it help eliminate stress, or can it cause stress?

It plays a huge and positive role – particularly exercise that is repetitive and relaxing, like running or swimming. This not only gets you healthier, but for many people is a form of meditation. Exercise doesn’t eliminate stress; however, it helps us manage the symptoms. Exercise shouldn’t cause stress; if you’re stressed about exercise it is likely there is something deeper going on.

 

In what ways can stress impact your preparations for a major running event?

People who experience a lot of stress are often struggling to manage their time and often also have poor eating and sleeping habits. The main impact on your preparation is the negative effect these things will have on your performance. To address this it’s best to put in place a structured timetable to make sure you are balancing all the demands in your life.

 

On race day, people often say being nervous gets the adrenaline pumping. But is there a point when too many nerves can hinder performance? If so, do you have any tips on how to calm your nerves on race day?

Yes, nerves can hinder performance. This is most often related to people being worried about being judged, for example whether they will win. The best way to calm the nerves is to have a simple meditation that you employ – like concentrating on your breathing.  The other is to focus on your own goal and take yourself through a visualisation of how you will reach that goal. In essence run the race in your head before you even start!

 

For more mental health tips and information visit the Reachout.com website here.

Guest blog from Podiatrist Sam Christiesam-christie-sltm-Lg-2

Finding the right running shoe to invest in is no easy task. Each shoe has its own personalised feature and benefit, leaving you dazed and confused when selecting ‘the one’. The right shoe helps to prevent injury and improve comfort when exercising so it’s pretty important to get it right.

To help you out we caught up with runPositive Wellness Collective member Sam Christie from PodMED Podiarty, Double Bay, to get some expert advice on how to find your perfect fit.

 

Q: Why is it important to invest in a good pair of running shoes?

I see improper footwear all too often! Investing time in selecting the right shoe will ensure you are getting the most for your money. Don’t buy a shoe based on aesthetics alone and definitely don’t assume the most expensive shoe is the best. In a nutshell, get what you need, not what you want.

 

Q: What should you look for in a ‘good’ running shoe?

A good fit! You need a good physical fit to your foot shape as well as a good fit to the type of running you are doing.  Specialised running stores are great. They can really help you with your choice and provide well educated information on footwear. Make sure you’re honest with the person fitting you and let them know what type of running you are doing.

 

Q: A well-fitting shoe is an easy way to avoid injury. What are the five most important aspects of a shoe to make sure a runner minimise injury?

  1. The heel. The shoe must be held by a strong heel counter to support and holdtheheel bone, particularly in the middle of your stride when the pressure is highest and the foot is unstable.
  1. Theshoe’s upper. It must be secured at the middle of the foot and at the instep without excessive pressure.
  1. The toe box. This must accommodate for swelling during exercise to minimize trauma to the phalanges (bones in the toes), particularly during extension seen through the propulsive phase of gait (when the foot pushes off the ground to propel the body forward).
  1. The shoe’s flex. This point must replicate theflex line at the ball of the fore-foot.
  1. The sole shape. This must match the foot type andthe natural contours of the three arches in our foot; the medial(main arch on the inside of the foot), lateral arch (outside of the foot) and transverse arches (under the ball of the foot between the big toe and little toe).

 

Q: There are countless styles out there for exercise related footwear. What should we be looking for?

It’s important to learn about your foot type in order to take away the guess work involved in selecting a shoe. Overall you should try to match your shoe to the type of exercise you are doing. If you can’t afford lots of different pairs of shoes a cross training shoe is an excellent all-rounder choice.

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Q: What does ‘running style’ mean and how does it influence your shoe choice?

Running style doesn’t necessarily influence your shoe choice. However, the amount of cushioning in your shoe needs to be high enough to avoid overloading the foot and leg when running. If you tend to strike heavily on the ground you should look for a shoe with a little more cushioning to counter the ground reaction forces.

 

Q: Is it important to differentiate your running shoes based on the distance and style of running?

Not necessarily. Elite runners will look for lower profile, light weight racing shoe but if you are an intermediate or beginner just get some good advice and try a standard running shoe first. Overall running shoes fall into three main categories:

  1. Motion-control for heavy pronators,
  2. Stability for mild to moderate pronators.
  3. Neutral for those requiring minimal medial arch support.

 

Q: What should marathon runners or long distance runners be looking for in a shoe?

They should know their foot type really well. Having a good idea on how to match the right training and race day shoe to your foot type will help prevent injury when running long distances.

 

Q: Why is alignment important and what do you recommend runners do to maintain or address alignment issues?

Good alignment is the key to efficient running (running faster and using less energy) and staying injury free. Poor alignment is usually a result of:

  1. Insufficient controlor support. This can cause a number of pronation (rolling in) injuries, for example, Achilles tendonitis, patella tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, tibialis posterior tendinopathies, sinus tarsi syndrome and stress fractures.  It can also cause running related hipand back pain.
  2. Excessive controlor too much support. Thiswill increase the ground reaction force through the limb, resulting in inversion sprains, arthritis of the knee and other trauma related injuries.

 

Q: What tips do you have for breaking into new shoes? We’ve all been prone to blisters and tender feet before.

Buy a good pair of socks. Running socks are a great investment. They can cost up to $35-$40 a pair which appears expensive but it’s worth it!

 

Q: If people play a sport normally outside of running is it okay to use the same shoes?

Yes you can, but remember running shoes don’t last too long if you use them for multiple sports. It would be better to buy a cross trainer or a sports specific shoe and save your running shoes.

 

Q: What should you consider if you have had foot injuries?

I would suggest consulting your podiatrist to work out what you need to do to run injury free.

 

Q: What are the biggest mistakes you see with runners and their podiatry problems?

Four main mistakes standout with me:

  1. Alignment issues. Understanding your foot type will not only make you a better runner run but a faster one too. Most running injuries I come across are down to poor alignment and running technique. These problems are easily turned around with the right help.
  2. Not understanding your foot or footwear. The foot is the bodies only contact with the ground. This means athletic footwear plays a pivotal role in protecting you against musculoskeletal disorders. The right footwear can control the forces passing from the ground to the lower limbs when you run.
  3. Choosing footwear without advice. Insufficient knowledge of athletic footwear and lack of time spent fitting will result in poor selection. I often see patients who have been sold the ‘support is good’ theory by uneducated and unaided staff members.This can result in an overloading issue.
  4. Not listening to their body: If you are injured or exercising with pain there is always a reason. Listen to what your body is trying to tell you. If you don’t know what is wrong, try asking someone who does. Consulting your sports podiatrist about any lower limb pain you may have when exercising will pay huge dividends in the long run and it might even help you improve your running.

We’re loving Wellness Collective PT Kirsty Welsh’s Raw Bliss Ball recipe. Perfect for getting past the 3pm slump!

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup medjool dates
1 cup nuts (almonds or walnuts)
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup organic raw cacao powder
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut

METHOD:
Soak medjool dates for 15 minutes in warm water to soften. Blend nuts on high speed until they reach a fine crumb/meal texture.
Blend dates, cacao powder, 1/4 cup of shredded coconut, coconut oil and chia seeds until it reaches a smooth texture, then add the ground nuts and blend together.

Roll the mixture into small balls. Coat in shredded coconut and store in an airtight container in the fridge, leave them for at least a few hours so they reach a firmer texture.

Guest post by Jess from Lazy Girl Fitness

“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” – George Sheehan

 

No matter where you are on the spectrum of runners, I’d wager that at some stage you’ve found yourself in a running rut. You know that feeling I’m talking about when you spend half your time convincing yourself to go running and the other half on the run itself, cursing yourself and whatever idiot invented running in the first place.

 

Well here’s the good news: that running rut you’re suffering through is temporary, and once you come out the other side of it you’ll be a stronger runner, and person, than you were beforehand. I’m here to help with my top five tips for climbing out of a running rut.

 

Find yourself a training buddy or group

Running is often a very lonely sport, particularly as you start to increase your distances in preparation for a half or full marathon. Early mornings, late evenings, alone with your thoughts, no wonder you’re starting to hate on life! A running buddy can change all that. Making a commitment to someone else makes it much easier to drag yourself out of bed in the morning. It also gives you someone to chat to during the training runs and more importantly, someone to talk to about some of those less pleasant subjects that non-runners just don’t understand!

 


Add some intervals

When you’re training for a race, particularly a half marathon or longer, there’s no doubt that you need to put some serious kilometres on your legs. But if the thought of another long run makes you want to kneecap yourself, maybe you should throw in an interval session instead? Intervals are AMAZING. Not only do they help increase your speed and cardio fitness, they’re a great way to break up an otherwise mundane session. Check this one out here for some inspiration.

 

Remember why you started running positive

When you’ve been running for a while it can be easy to get lost in the less pleasant aspects of the routine and it’s easy to forget why you started. Maybe you made a promise to yourself to be fitter at 40 than you were at 30. Maybe you set yourself a goal to run a half marathon or maybe you’re running in memory of someone special to you. Whatever the reason, that’s what you need to channel in those moments when you just want to give up.

 

Change up your running route

This may seem simple, but it’s actually very effective. If you’re running the same route day in, day out, it’s no wonder you’re going stir crazy. Not everyone feels this way but I tend to get bored easily, so my basic rule of thumb is that if I can mark off the kilometres of my running route without any need for a GPS does then it’s time for a change of scenery.

 

Listen to your body

Some days your body is simply too tired. Maybe you’ve had a massive week at work, lots of emotional stress or terrible sleep. When you feel like this (I mean really truly feel like this and not just that you can’t be bothered) I recommend taking the day off or switching to something gentler like a yoga class. If you push your body too hard you risk overtraining, and of sinking deeper into the rut. Missing one session is not going to kill you, but it could mean the difference between whether you dread your next session or look forward it.

 

When you’re stuck in a running rut, the important thing is not to beat yourself up about it. Everyone has bad days. Heck, everyone has bad weeks and I am sure you will come out the other side with a renewed passion for this wonderful, wonderful sport.

 

Connect with Jess on her blog or her Facebook page to find out more great tips on staying motivated.

Guest post from Personal Trainer and vegetarian Kes Commerford.kesh1 131

 

As a vegetarian, the main question I am asked is where do I get my protein from? My answer every time is, really?

 

I’ve come to realise that most people aren’t aware exactly how much protein is needed each day, and how many protein sources are vegetarian friendly.

 

Depending on your goals, you need anywhere between 0.8g -1.5g of protein per kg of bodyweight. So, if you are 70kg, you only need around 70g of protein each day.

 

Proteins are known as the building blocks of the body. They break down into amino acids that promote cell growth and repair muscle. Proteins take longer to digest than carbohydrates, helping you feel full for longer and on fewer calories – a plus for anyone trying to lose weight.

 

Below are five of my favourite sources of vegan and vegetarian proteins. Use the formula above to calculate your protein needs and see just how easy it is to get enough protein without meat.

 

best-vegetarian-protein-sources

  1. Legumes

Foods in the legume family are good sources of vegetarian protein. Legumes include chickpeas, black beans, lentils, kidney beans and peas. One cup of peas contains 10g of protein which is about the same as a cup of milk.

 

  1. Quinoa

Most grains contain a small amount of protein, but quinoa (technically a seed) is unique in that it contains more than eight grams per cup. Quinoa, dubbed the ‘perfect protein’ also includes all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own, but are necessary for growth and repair. It’s amazingly versatile and can be added to soup or vegetarian chili during winter months, served with brown sugar and fruit as a hot breakfast cereal, or tossed with vegetables and vinaigrette to make a refreshing summer salad.

  1. Tofu and Tempeh

Foods made from soybeans are some of the highest vegetarian sources of protein available. Tempeh and tofu, for example, contain about 15g and 20g per half cup, respectively. They’re highly nutritious, and can really take on the taste and texture of whatever type of food you’re in the mood for.

 

  1. Dairy

By far my favourite source of protein from dairy is cottage cheese. One cup of cottage cheese equals 10g of protein, one cup of yogurt has 13g, one ounce of cheddar cheese is 7.1g and a whole egg contains 6g.

 

  1. Protein powder supplements

Whether you are looking to gain or maintain muscle, it is essential to find a good protein powder with a high bio-availability. Pea or hemp protein work best for vegetarians or vegans in my opinion.

 

To learn more from Kes follow him on Facebook or check out his website.

Guest blog by Kirsty Welsh

yoga

 

Yoga and running go together like salt and pepper, like celery and peanut butter, like chocolate and strawberries; you get the idea.

 

I’m going to come right out and say it, if you’re going to be a runner, you simply must stretch.

 

The shear nature of running is repetitive, and it is high impact. Only a tiny percentage of us have excellent posture with ideal muscular balance. Most of us have weak glutes that do not stabilise our hips and back as well as nature intended.

 

Whenever one muscle group is not performing optimally, the opposing muscle group takes the strain. For example, if the glutes are weak, the hip flexors will tighten to try and keep our pelvis strong. The hamstrings will do more work than they should and as a result – tighten up. The quads start doing the same thing and the calves follow suit. This can all begin purely by not breathing properly and using your diaphragm. It’s easy to see how over time, if you don’t take the time to stretch your body, things can backfire and a whole domino effect of injury may prevail. Good bye running.

 

Now I don’t mean to be negative at all, running is amazing for the mind, body and spirit. But if you wish to run, you simply must be conditioned for it, understand your own posture and biomechanics and work toward physical balance.

 

Welcome yoga, the sport of balance.

It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to observe that yogis (people who practise yoga on a regular and consistent basis)
are not only calm and peaceful, but also have an amazing open and upright posture with vibrant and uplifting energy. Yoga teaches us to be aware of our breath, every muscle in our body, and stretches us through every plane to release not only tight muscles but also fascial slings (groups of muscles and tissues linked together). Yoga needs to be practised consistently at least once per week (the more the merrier) and the benefits can be quite profound and immediate. Patience is also required; the longer your muscles have been tight, the longer they will take to release. The important thing is to remain positive and honour your body. Never get frustrated with yourself, let the pose fit your body rather than straining your body to look like a certain pose.

 

I know what you’re thinking – where on earth will I find an extra hour to practice yoga one to three times a week?

 

Here’s where I’ll try to simplify it a little for you. If committing to yoga means it’s just you on your mat in your lounge room for 15 minutes, that’s a great start. If this sounds like you, it’s best to focus on the muscles that tighten up the most from running; your hip flexors, glutes, ITB (ilio-tibial band), calves, lumbar and thoracic spine.

 

Here are my top 10 yoga asanas (poses) for runners. I recommend you look each one up on Youtube to get a proper rundown on the technique.

 

1. Bridge pose – Stretches the chest, neck, spine and hips. Strengthens back, glutes, hamstrings. It also aids digestion and stimulates the lungs, thyroid gland and abdominal organs.

bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Downward dog – This is an inversion, which means the head is below the heart, aiding blood and lymph flow and detoxing the body. Strengthens and tones the arms and legs and stretches the lower, middle and upper back as well as calves and hamstrings.

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3. Seated spinal twist – Stretches the hips and shoulders and develops strength and flexibility in your back. This pose can also be beneficial in stimulating the liver, kidneys and helping to relieve menstrual pain and sciatica.

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4. Crescent lunge – A deep stretch on the hip flexors and strengthens the arms and legs.

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5. Tree pose – Improves balance and stability in the legs, assisting in pelvic stability which is important for runners as most of the stride is on one leg. It also helps to strengthen and tone the entire leg up to the glutes.

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 6. Cobra pose/ upward facing dog – Stretches the upper back and front of body. Strengthens arms, shoulders and spine. Counteracts poor posture and opens the chest and lungs.

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7. Childs pose – Gently stretches the lower back, hips, knees and thighs, a good balanced stretch to perform after upward facing dog. Relaxes the spine, neck and shoulders. It also massages internal organs and helps to relieve stress and tension.

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8.Forward fold with chest expansion – Forward folds stretch the hamstrings and lower back. The added chest expansion opens up tight pectoral muscles, which tighten up from being slumped forward with poor posture.

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9. Pigeon – Stretches the glutes, groin and hip flexors, specifically the psoas muscle. This stretch may aid in relieving piriformis sydrome and sciatica.

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10. Triangle – Stretches the legs, hips, groin, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest and spine. Strengthens legs, abs, obliques and back.

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Before beginning a yoga program, it’s always best to consult your health care practitioner for advice and any specific contraindications.

 

Good luck on your yoga journey! Once you start, you’ll wonder what took you so long.

 

Connect with Kirsty on Facebook or her website for more great health and wellness tips.