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Road Biking in the French Alps – A great way to get fit…
 

Women in sport

Men play sport, and they play it well. We know this because both sports-specific channels and mainstream network television channels are saturated with it.Which is great. After all, who can deny the entertainment value of a nail-biting FA Cup final or an edge-of-your-seat primetime boxing match? Plus these men train hard to be the best they can be at their chosen sport, and their efforts and abilities can be truly inspiring. But hang on… what about the women? Most sports you see on TV – including football and boxing – have plenty of female participants – at an elite level, no less. They train just as hard. They turn up and play their hearts out. But while we’ve a long way to go before we get the huge funding, Lets hear it for the girls In the past few years, we’ve seen some huge positive changes for women in sport. London 2012 saw the introduction of women’s boxing to the Olympic Games. And it couldn’t have gone any better for us with Great Britain’s own Nicola Adams taking home the first ever Olympic gold medal won by a female boxer. It was a proud moment for Team GB, undoubtedly, but it was also a proud moment for women everywhere. Nicola – and female boxers of all weight categories from around the world – proved that women have a place in the ring, and they did so on the biggest sporting stage possible. Team those performances between the ropes with Jessica Ennis’s breathtaking skills in the stadium, Jade Jones’s fighting spirit and the blood, sweat and determination of every female who represented their country that summer, and it’s obvious that sport for women is changing, for the better.GB’s Victoria Pendleton et al made massive waves in the cycling scene during 2012, and since then, too, popularising the sport among everyday women like us. And these girls, along with the other female cyclists working hard to bring the sport into the spotlight, have been nothing short of successful. This summer – two years after the Games – saw the inaugural women’s race at the world-famous Tour of Britain, the country’s largest professional cycling race. The free-to-watch event brought female cycling into the limelight once again. The Tour’s winner, Holland’s Marianne Vos, added this title to her already impressive list of accolades – Olympic gold medallist and world road-race champion. She’s fast becoming a cycling legend.Cycling and boxing, in particular, are thought of as men’s sports, with athletes like Bradley Wiggins and Ricky Hatton household names in Britain. But perhaps the most popular sport among men? It’s got to be football. From chants in the stands to glugging a beer down the pub while the game’s on, football has long been seen as a man’s sport. But, more recently, women have been moving in on the action on the football pitch, too. According to stats from the Football Association, a whopping 1 million viewers tuned into the FA Women’s Cup Final last year, and a staggering 70,000 watched Team GB beat Brazil at Wembley Stadium during the 2012 Games. If spectator numbers are reaching such soaring figures, it’s undeniable that people want to see it. ‘The closer and more competitive our matches are, the more of a spectator sport it becomes,’ says former England player and assistant head coach of the England Women’s team, Marieanne Spacey. ‘More FA Women’s Super League teams are training full time and more players are turning professional. So standards will continue to rise and the quality of matches will improve even further.’The FA’s stats also prove that we want to get involved, too. Some 42.9% of those attending FA skills programme sessions are girls, and 11,025 of us attended national FA girls’ football festivals and fan zones last year. Football is no longer just for the boys.While some sports are traditionally male dominated, that’s not the case for all sports. Martial arts like taekwondo, for example, have a high number of female participants. ‘Unlike many sports, taekwondo has just as many female as male competitors,’ says Jade Jones, GB’s first taekwondo gold medallist. ‘Girls often start wanting to learn self-defence, but then realise the sport is much more than that. It’s technical, improves flexibility and is great for keeping fit. Our governing body also recently launched a campaign called KickSister, which encourages women to get involved by focusing more on fitness and self-defence.’Get a slice of the pie    Women’s SportsNet (WSNet), which is a useful hub for women to get information on sport, recently launched the ACTIVEMapX (wsnet.co.uk/activemapx) to help women find sports classes near them. Almost all of us have enjoyed playing sport at some point, even if it was just through school PE classes, so it’s often a case of simply finding a way to get back into it. With almost 20,000 locations nationwide offering hockey, netball and volunteer-led classes, ACTIVEMapX proves that it really is becoming easier and easier for women to get fit through sport, and that it’s slowly but steadily becoming the norm. ‘Local classes found on the ACTIVEMapX help you engage with friends and neighbours, and build confidence,’ says WSNet’s Paul Reynolds. ‘You can find fencing, rollerderby or powerhoop around the corner!’If you want to start with something more familiar, cycling is perfect. And following the success of golden girl Victoria Pendleton and her team mates in 2012, it’s no wonder that there have been so many initiatives to get more women into the sport. The FA have even joined forces with British Cycling to launch Kick Start Your Ride – a joint effort from two of the UK’s biggest governing bodies to get women to cycle to football matches. ‘This is about two sports coming together to inspire women to try something new,’ explains Natalie Justice, women’s network project manager at British Cycling. ‘The opportunity to go on a group bike ride with the prize of getting to watch some exciting football at the end of it has all the ingredients of a fun day out and we hope to see hundreds of women getting involved.’Raising the profile           It’s time to start evening the playing field, but it takes determination and courage. Something GB’s own gold-medal-winning cyclist Nicole Cooke has by the bucket. ‘When I first started competing in cycling, there were no British Championships for women in road or track,’ she says. ‘I wrote to the British Cycling Federation to ask for championships, and after an initial refusal, they changed their mind and I competed in the inaugural U16 British Track Championships for girls in 1998, and there are now championships for all age categories for girls on road and track – a huge step forward.’ Nicole also wrote to the Union Cycliste International (the world governing body for sports cycling) about the heavy bias towards men in the Olympics, which in 2004 offered eight medals for men and only four for women. In London 2012, five medals were offered to both men and women. While it’s shocking to see such inequality in sport, it’s the determination of people like Nicole that makes a real difference. Women’s Sport Trust (womenssporttrust.com) aims to raise the profile and visibility of women’s sports through role models, media coverage and funding – the things that get female athletes seen and heard in order to inspire others to give sport a go. ‘Since London 2012, there’s been an increase in coverage and buying of rights to women’s sport from broadcasters such as BT Sport, Sky and BBC,’ says Jo Bostock, co-founder of Women’s Sport Trust. ‘Not to mention the national cricket team becoming professional and the announcement of La Course – a female event alongside the final day of the Tour De France.’What WST does is important as it’s about encouraging women to realise that, whatever their fitness level, background or history, sport can be for them, too. We need to increase the positive impact not only by participating, but by watching women play sport, getting our companies involved with sponsorship and urging schools to create more sports opportunities. 

WE’RE TALKING TO… Dame Sarah Storey

 1. WHAT MAKES YOU PROUD?‘Podium Ambition – a not-for-profit company set up by me and my husband a few years ago to get more people cycling. Because our cycling team, Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International, excelled beyond all expectations last year, we had to step up quicker than expected by recently registering a UCI Women’s professional team. This gives us an exciting platform in an Olympic and Paralympic year to promote cycling even further.’ 2. HOW WILL YOU INSPIRE MORE WOMEN TO CYCLE ?‘By providing opportunities that better suit women’s lifestyles. We’ve launched a UK-wide sister team to the professional one, the Boot Out Breast Cancer (BOBC) Cycling Club (bootoutbreastcancer.org.uk), for people of all ages and abilities to get together either as riders or spectators. Even if members are in another part of the country, they can log in and find a local cycling buddy. It’s all about creating an inclusive, no-pressure environment where you can get involved as little or as much as you like – and raise money for BOBC, too. Our motto is Your Club, Your Way. 3. HOW ARE YOU PREPARING FOR RIO?‘Right now, I’m focusing on getting selected for the team – I have four titles to defend so I’d be really disappointed not to make it! I train six days a week in four-week cycles, with three weeks of overload and then a week of adaptation and recovery to allow my body to grow and become stronger. I’ve followed this pattern for 15 years. Nutrition-wise, I eat everything in moderation. It’s essential to listen to your natural hunger and give your body the fuel it needs – there’s only so much a nutritionist can tell you.’ 4. WHAT’S YOUR MOST ESSENTIAL ITEM OF KIT?‘Eyewear is very overlooked. Just as your muscles and heart get tired, your eyes get fatigued too, which is the last thing you need when you’re racing down a mountain at 50 mph – you don’t want to misjudge something and crash! I wear Adidas’ Evil Eye Halfrim Pro performance frame (£126.49, wiggle.co.uk) for enhanced vision and protection from the elements.’  Words: Joanna Ebsworth

Give back and get fit

Have you ever considered doing something positive for others but reasoned that, what with work, family, friends and the gym, you just couldn’t cram a little altruism into your life? If so, it’s time to reconsider, because social initiatives that cleverly combine volunteering opportunities with exercise are coming to a city near you. Hail the expansion of GoodGym, a not-for-profit organisation that encourages participants to merge their fitness routines with social care, by connecting people with physical tasks that benefit their community. Think running in a pack to work on a community project, doing one-off missions to help vulnerable people or committing to visiting an isolated older person. GoodGym is the brainchild of Ivo Gormley, a keen runner with a yearning to make it simple for people to engage with socially productive exercise. ‘I was frustrated with the idea of gyms – all these people working furiously on these machines that don’t do anything. It seemed like a massive waste of energy. I wanted to find a way to make it easy for people to do exercise that is actually useful.’ What started as a gentle weekly trot to drop in on a housebound family friend (Ivo used to combine weekly runs with a visit to an elderly friend) has dramatically expanded and now covers six areas of the UK, including four London boroughs plus Bristol and Liverpool. Within a few years, GoodGym hopes to operate in every major city in the UK before expanding globally.How it worksThe idea is simple; you register for your local group at goodgym.org then either opt to run as part of a group or on your own. If you run as part of a group, it gives you the chance to work alongside others to do something beneficial for your local area, such as tidying up a communal garden or painting a children’s centre. If you prefer to volunteer alone, then you can choose to be sent on a ‘mission’ to do a one-off job for a vulnerable person, such as changing light bulbs or delivering something. Or if you want to make a regular commitment, you can volunteer to be paired with an older person who becomes your ‘running coach’ during weekly visits.In each of the three set-ups, everyone wins – both the doer and the receiver. But it’s the pairing of a mobile younger person and older coach that is particularly mutually beneficial, as Ivo explains.‘For the older people, having a visitor is a massive deal. One hundred per cent of the older people we visit regularly consider their runner a friend and most of the older people really feel they are making a contribution to their runner’s fitness, too.’ Runner Harriet, 40, agrees, ‘Aside from being great motivation to leave the house when it’s wet or cold, visiting my coach, Michael, gives me a break in my run, which works well for my half-marathon training as I speed the 2.5 miles there, then warm down on the way home.’Whichever volunteering option you choose, knowing you’re genuinely making a difference is key. ‘For some members, GoodGym has been their way into regular exercise when they haven’t really seen the point before because knowing that you’re needed and you’re not just doing it for you is a great motivator,’ explains Ivo. ‘It’s about feeling useful and being a part of where you live.’ Volunteering with benefitsIt also helps that it’s a great way to stay fit. Although detractors might argue that running relatively short distances (group runs vary from 3 to 10K) won’t make a difference to your fitness levels or running ability, Ivo begs to differ. ‘We have the most brilliant personal trainers co-ordinating each local GoodGym, so you’ll get fantastic support from some extremely well-qualified people, as well as from other runners if you opt to run in a group.’ Some GoodGym members have run their first marathons and half-marathons since signing up.And it won’t just be your running that improves. Tasks assigned to group runners have included shifting two tonnes of earth in 45 minutes, removing weeds from parkland and moving 170 heavy archive boxes down several flights of stairs: feats that involve power, endurance and agility. As GoodGym member Sally points out, ‘Since joining GoodGym, my overall fitness, muscle tone and strength have improved, as has my appreciation of how much people can achieve when they work together.’But surely the inconsistency of each week’s run and allotted task means that you might not train as effectively as you would in the gym? ‘That’s where the local co-ordinators come into their own,’ says Ivo. ‘On the way back from every task, they take the group through a variety of exercises that ensure everyone has had a good workout,’ says Ivo. So expect fartlek or progressive running on your route home. ‘I’m confident GoodGym will help you achieve your goals through doing good, plus you’ll meet great people and see things in your area.’ Being active in your community has taken on a whole new meaning!5 ways to help others and get fit Volunteer with CSV Get stronger while learning new skills by giving up your time for a conservation or environmental project in the UK. Options include helping to preserve parks and open spaces, building adventure playgrounds and restoring heritage buildings. To find out more about volunteering opportunities and how you can make a difference, visit csv.org.uk.  Head outdoors anddo good with British Military FitnessJoin a BMF outdoor class and, as well as getting your body in shape, you can get involved in events to raise funds for local charities or enhance the open spaces in which you train. Find out more at britmilfit.com.Run for a sumBoost your cardio fitness, not to mention speed and stamina, by running a sponsored race. From Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life to Great Ormond Street Hospital’s Race for the Kids there’s a running challenge out there to suit you. Training will get you fitter, while the money you raise will go to help your chosen cause. To find an event visit runforcharity.com.Get gardeningFor an outdoor challenge with a difference, sign up to your local Green Gym. Participants meet outdoors and do a short warm-up before getting stuck into practical tasks such as weeding, planting and building walls – work that improves strength, stamina and confidence. Find out more at tcv.org.uk/greengymTravel abroadWant to go abroad to do your bit and get fit? Choose from sponsored treks in the Himalayas, cycling challenges in India, a walking holiday in Italy’s Amalfi Coast, or even a trip to Costa Rica to work on community projects. For trips that will open your mind and test your endurance, strength and cardio fitness, check out responsibletravel.com

Pedal power

Jumping on a shiny new steed and pedalling off into the sunset is a glorious feeling – you just can’t beat it! But if you haven’t saddled up for a few years, you may be wondering where to start or why to bother. Don’t worry! We caught up with Gareth Turner from Cyclebeat (cyclebeat.co.uk) to chat about the benefits of life on two wheels and how you can get back in the race. Slim cycleJumping on your bike is a fantastic way to blitz calories and trim down. ‘Cycling is a great way to lose weight and a brilliant way to burn calories – you can burn around 500 calories an hour cycling and sometimes much more,’ says Gareth. ‘Cycling can also have the added benefit of increasing your metabolism – even after the ride is over.And it’s a great option for working out on your commute. Think about it – you can get your workouts in on the way to and from work and cancel that gym membership altogether if you want! ‘And, because it is a non-weight bearing exercise, it’s a lot easier on the joints than something like running, so you can do it more often,’ says Gareth. Sounds good to us!It’s also a great toner, working your lower body hard, which – thanks to this focus on the bigger muscles in your body (bum and legs!) also burns fat. ‘Cycling helps to tone your muscles and works your calves, thighs and bottom, while also giving your shoulders and arms a workout, too,’ says Gareth.Healthy heartCycling is not only bags of fun, and a great way to stay in shape, it’s good for your heart, too. ‘Cycling improves cardiovascular fitness,’ explains Gareth. ‘And the British Heart Foundation says that cycling regularly can help to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes by up to 50 per cent.’ Mind mattersAnd getting on your bike could have benefits for the mind, too. ‘It’s not just the body that sees the benefits, as cycling is believed to reduce stress, anxiety and provide a sense of wellbeing,’ says Gareth. A cycle home after a long day is a great way to shake off your worries.Wheely wheely funWhizzing around on a bike gives you a great sense of freedom and there are so many types of cycling, and types of bikes, you can try. ‘Cycling can be very varied and fun – try mountain bike trails, exhilarating downhills, BMX and road biking with amazing views,’ says Gareth. Plus it’s one of the few workouts in which you can have a good gas with your mates, too! Have you every tried catching up over a quick swim or disco rave class?! ‘Cycling can be very social by riding in a group and also with the family – everyone can get involved,’ adds Gareth. Back to it!Check out Gareth’s top tips for beginners or those getting back into cycling:The first thing that you will need is a bike; it’s best to visit a good bike shop where they can give advice and find you a bike that fits properly.Start by riding comfortably for up to 45 minutes three times a week, then look to slowly build on the number of sessions, duration and speed of sessions gradually.There are cycling proficiency courses that can build skills and get you ready for the road if you’re nervous.Practise riding in a traffic-free area, such as a local park, to build confidence.Why not get used to pedalling, standing and clipping in and out of pedals at a studio such as Cyclebeat (cyclebeat.co.uk) before heading out.

Road Biking in the French Alps – A great way to get fit…

Road Biking in the French Alps – A great way to get fit…

In Britain many think of cycling in the mountains as a tough call, especially when one watches the Tour de France. However, there are routes to cater for all abilities and skill levels, so it’s worth considering this as a great fitness holiday. The bonus is stunning and incredibly varied scenery, a chance to really get away from the busy British roads whilst enjoying local cuisine and culture. Choosing the right holiday company with a variety of itineraries will help you pinpoint your ideal trip. Premiere Velo (http://www.premiere-velo.com) with its centre-based tailored tours & itineraries in the French Alps cater for beginner to expert, with varied and stunning cycling terrain and top quality accommodation. Staying in a luxury 5 star catered chalet with private chef and chalet host, guests will be able to indulge in large ensuite rooms, spacious living areas, a balcony hot tub, private spa with hot tub, sauna and treatment room, and a private gym with Wattbike.These centre based holidays offer an incredible variety of terrain and itineraries with support: Coaching for cycling for all levels Bike mechanics, available when you are on and off the bike Bike hire - we have a fleet of top end Scott bikes Full van support with radio contact Optional Sports physio & massage Nutrition advice FAQ sessions, ask our cycle coachINTRO TO THE ALPS CYCLE HOLIDAY - 4 or 7 NIGHTSA great starter or full week of time in the saddle finding your wheels at altitude with coaching, support, tips & tricks. Perfect if you want to initiate yourself to the fabulous mountain terrain.WATCH & RIDE THE TOUR DE FRANCE - 7 NIGHTSWho wouldn’t want to watch the tour go past as well as get some riding in the mountains and enjoy sections of famous Tour de France routes?CYCLE FAMOUS ALPINE COLS - 4 or 7 NIGHTSChoose from a short sharp few days, or a full week to experience world class Tarentaise cols.SELF GUIDED, HALF BOARD, ROAD CYCLING HOLIDAYS – 3 NIGHTS OR MOREStaying in our luxury chalet The Peak. The perfect choice if you just want to concentrate on riding your own routes or create a group of similar level ability. For full details on all holidays, please go to www.premiere-velo.com T: +44 (0)131 510 2525

Protein shakes for women

Protein shakes are often associated with bulging, muscly men who've just left the gym after a session of god knows what.But actually, women need protein too, and if you're an especially active one, chances are you need a fair amount of the stuff.You might find it tough to get enough protein through food if you exercise a lot, or your busy lifestyle might not allow you to prepare as many of your meals as you'd like. This is where protein shakes come in. You can chug one back immediately after a tough session to get the protein to your muscles quickly, and you can carry it in your bag until you need it. It's like they were made for us.There are a lot of options on the market these days, so make sure you opt for a high-quality one that tastes good, too. You want to look forward to your post-exercise treat, after all. Here are our picks of the best protein shakes.Protein World Slender Blend (£32)Featuring a unique blend of whey protein and fat-fighting nutrients such as raspberry ketones and green tea, this weight loss-based protein drink comes in four yummy flavours. It's also vegetarian and gluten-free.Maxitone Definity Protein Plus (24.99)Not only is this shake packed with protein making it perfect for a post-workout meal, but it also boasts 21 vitamins and minerals, ensuring you're getting the nutrients you need on a daily basis.PhD Woman Support & Recovery (£21.59)It's not just the fact that this shake can be used before and after exercise, or that it's full of vitamins and minerals perfect for women that makes us love it. It's the to-die-for Chocolate Cookie flavour that we just love.Solgar Whey To Go (£15.31)With no artificial sweeteners and extracted using a low heat and no chemicals, this is definitely the health-conscious woman's choice. The hydrolysed form that the whey takes also makes it super-absorbant.Nature's Plus Ultra Energy (£23.86)For those who need to steer clear of dairy, this blend of pea, rice and soy protein is perfect. It also boasts a low GI and can double up as your daily multivitamin.Want more advice on sports nutrition? Subscribe to Women's Fitness. We'll give you 3 issues for £1.

Reading Half Marathon – race report

I'm training for my first marathon, the Virgin London Marathon on 24 April. My training plan advised that I do a half marathon race before the full monty, to get used to the race atmosphere and get an idea on running pace and finishing time. Vitality Reading Half was on the 3 April 2016, so it was perfect timing.On arrival in Reading we were shuttled to the race village and there was plenty of facilities on hand. The bag drop was clear and queue free! The race start was busy, with over 15,000 runners all primed for the race and buzzing with excitement. The starter gun goes, and we're off!The first four miles had great support, with young and old cheering everyone on. Bands played music, there were some great drumming under a flyover bridge, and a pub pumped out dance tunes, which really gave me an extra boost. Small children were giving high fives and handing out Jelly Babies, and even a pub was giving runners small samples of ale! Although tempted I didn't partake in the ale as there was a steady hill around mile 10 that I had to run up.At times during the race it was really heart warming when people had banners reading 'Keep going! you can do it! You are amazing'; I felt humbled and connected with other runners and the crowd.The end of the race was downhill, which was fine by me! The sun began to shine and there was a feeling of nearly being there. The last three miles I felt tired so the crowd support really spurred me on, and with the fantastic stadium finish I managed to do a sprint finish, which was out of pure relief and joy, it really was a brilliant moment.I had done it, in a time of 2.06.43, which I was very happy with. Next stop, London!!!

How to be a triple threat

So, you’ve done a marathon, ticked off the Tough Mudder and aced the fun run? Hello, triathlon! If you’re a high fitness achiever, training for three disciplines is just the challenge you’re craving. A triathlon is also a great option if you’d like to try an endurance sport, but the monotony of long runs or cycle rides doesn’t tickle your fancy. Racing from a swim to a cycle to a run is a great way to break up longer distances, keeping your mind ticking over, your body guessing and your adrenaline firing. And it’s not just for the pros, either. The shorter distances (sprint and super sprint) are popular with veterans and beginners alike. Intrigued? We’ve got the info and story from one of our very own, for all you need to know for your first triathlon challenge. Let’s get started! 'How i survived my first triathlon’WF staff writer and sub-editor Ellie Moss bravely entered the SuperSprint distance at the Human Race Events’ (humanrace.co.uk) HSBC Triathlon at Dorney Lake. Here’s how she fared…‘I was super nervous about doing a triathlon because, although I tried my best, when it came to the big dayI didn’t have much training under my belt. I arrived in the pelting rain, but there was such a great atmosphere the weather didn’t seem to matter. ‘The swim started in the water and, as we tip-toed in, the cold lake filled our wetsuits. But there wasn’t much time to groan about the cold as we were off and powering through the 400m open-water swim. By the timeI finished my arms were exhausted, but I ran through to the bike race, peeling off my Aqua Spher (aquasphereswim.com/uk) wetsuit as I went. The cycle was a welcome relief after the tough going in the water. I got up some good speed and quickly arrived at the next transition. Only later did I realise that I’d missed out the second lap of the cycle, meaning I was disqualified! ‘After I racked my bike and helmet, I headed off for the run, jelly legs in tow. The 2.5K sprint was easy going, but while I jogged I realised that I’d messed up the cycle lap, so my head was spinning. I managed to push myself through the run and made it to the finish in one piece.‘I had a great day  – even though my times didn’t count – and I’m definitely signing up again next year!’Follow @felicitycole and @BritTri on Twitter for mega triathlon inspiration.

Tri a triathlon with Team Macmillan

You may have got one – or several – triathlons under your belt already. If not, then taking on a triathlon for the first time can be daunting. But, if you can run 5K, own a bike and can swim 16 lengths then you’re a triathlete in the making.Macmillan Cancer Support are inviting any nervous novices to take the plunge this summer and take up a triathlon to prove to yourself that you can do it.With expert advice, fantastic training support, free items of kit and thunderous cheers on race day, Team Macmillan are the ultimate support crew, helping you do something you never thought you could.'I took part in the Brownlee Triathlon because it was hosted in the hometown where my mum lived and died as a cancer patient. I loved the opportunity to put my healthy body to good use to fight cancer with fitness, and be part of Team Macmillan.The best moment for me was as I approached the bottom of an upward climb on the run section. There was a sign attached to a tree saying "dig deep for Yorkshire". As I came to it I shouted "my Mum was from Yorkshire, I’m digging deep for my mum!’"and off I ran, encouraged and inspired by my surroundings and all the other participants of the race.' Linzi, Team Macmillan triathlete 2014Only 31% of Macmillan Cancer Support’s triathletes are women, so it’s time to add your legs [and arms] to this fast growing sport.Do something different with your summer. Take up Macmillan’s challenge and help change the lives of people affected by cancer #thisgirlcanSpectacular castle settings at the Windsor TriathlonTri the Windsor Triathlon on the 12 June. Awarded the British Triathlon Federation’s ‘Event of the Year’ a remarkable seven times, the Sprint distance (750m swim, 30km cycle, 5km run) is perfect for those in the South of England. Macmillan is the official charity so places are only £4!Find out more at www.macmillan.org.uk/windsortriRace with the Brownlee BrothersJoin the charismatic Olympic brothers at Harewood House in Leeds. There’s plenty of time to train before 24 September and alongside the triathlon there are activities for the whole family to enjoy, not forgetting the ever popular Kids Duathlon.Sign up for free at www.macmillan.org.uk/brownleetriSprint triathlons at stately homesBased at one of the country's finest stately homes, Chatsworth House, the Peak District Triathlon takes place on the 3rd July. With a plethora of activities for all the family - including a spectacular adventure playground, farmyard, and a stunning estate – you can race in the morning and stay to enjoy your day at Chatsworth. Better yet, entry is free.Register for your free place at www.macmillan.org.uk/peakdistricttriathlon

5 things NOT to do at the gym

Whether you’re new to the gym or have been going for years, there are some errors that even experienced gym-goers make time and time again. Not only can this lead to boredom or lack of results, you could be increasing your risk of injury.If you’ve reached a plateau in your training or you’re not getting where you want to be fast enough, there’s a good chance you’re making at least one of these mistakes. It’s time to get it right, with the help of celebrity trainer and founder of 5 Star Bootcamp, Danni Levy. With her advice, you can reboot your workouts to get the results you want – pronto!1. Don’t spend hours on one cardio machine‘Cardio is central to fat loss, but if you spend more than 50 per cent of your workout time on it, think again,’ says Levy. To really improve your shape, weight train. Your body will drain its glycogen stores doing weights, so if you do 20 minutes of cardio afterwards your body will switch to burning fat. 2. Don’t hide at the back of a class‘While group exercise is a great way to have fun and get fit, many of us join classes without being given any guidance on technique,’ says Levy. ‘When classes are large, instructors can’t be expected to notice every single movement of every single person, so if you’re unsure, don’t be afraid to get yourself noticed! Bad form will not only cancel out the effects of all your hard work, but lead to poor posture, lack of enjoyment and possible injury. Instructors are there to do just that: instruct. So don’t be embarrassed to ask!’ 3. Don’t just use fixed machinesWe’ve all been there; you join the gym, an instructor shows you round the fixed resistance machines and you receive your new exercise programme – all on machines! ‘Although fixed machines do serve a purpose, especially for beginners, you’ll get more from your time and effort if you do a dumbbell or body weight circuit,’ says Levy. ‘Many machines isolate one muscle, which means you burn fewer calories and work fewer muscles. Plus, if you’re not using a machine, you’ll work your core, which helps to build a more functional body.’ 4. Don’t ignore your weaknesses‘We all have exercises we enjoy more than others, and that’s normally because we’re better at them,’ explains Levy. ‘Take a step back and admit your weaknesses, then set about making them your strengths. If you have slim arms, but your thighs could do with some trimming down, sign up to a Spin class and include more squats and lunges in your programme. Perhaps you carry weight around your midriff? Chop into your waist with dynamic medicine ball movements and cable woodchops. Work on your weak areas and it won’t be long before you become the whole package.’ 5. Don’t abandon your goals‘Working out with a partner or group of friends can be great fun, but if you’re training alongside someone with totally different goals, this can be detrimental to your own progress,’ says Levy. ‘If your fitness levels are unevenly matched, or you enjoy different things, be honest with yourself and your training partner and go your separate ways after the warm-up. You can always enjoy a sauna or coffee together afterwards, or get together every week for a weigh-in and progress review,’ adds Levy. ‘You can still reap the benefits of joining the gym together, you just need to keep your goals in mind.’ 

Women in sport

03 May 2016

Men play sport, and they play it well. We know this because both sports-specific channels and mainstream network television channels are saturated with it.Which is great. After all, who can deny the entertainment value of a nail-biting FA Cup final or an edge-of-your-seat primetime boxing match? Plus these men train hard to be the best they can be at their chosen sport, and their efforts and abilities can be truly inspiring. But hang on… what about the women? Most sports you see on TV – including football and boxing – have plenty of female participants – at an elite level, no less. They train just as hard. They turn up and play their hearts out. But while we’ve a long way to go before we get the huge funding, Lets hear it for the girls In the past few years, we’ve seen some huge positive changes for women in sport. London 2012 saw the introduction of women’s boxing to the Olympic Games. And it couldn’t have gone any better for us with Great Britain’s own Nicola Adams taking home the first ever Olympic gold medal won by a female boxer. It was a proud moment for Team GB, undoubtedly, but it was also a proud moment for women everywhere. Nicola – and female boxers of all weight categories from around the world – proved that women have a place in the ring, and they did so on the biggest sporting stage possible. Team those performances between the ropes with Jessica Ennis’s breathtaking skills in the stadium, Jade Jones’s fighting spirit and the blood, sweat and determination of every female who represented their country that summer, and it’s obvious that sport for women is changing, for the better.GB’s Victoria Pendleton et al made massive waves in the cycling scene during 2012, and since then, too, popularising the sport among everyday women like us. And these girls, along with the other female cyclists working hard to bring the sport into the spotlight, have been nothing short of successful. This summer – two years after the Games – saw the inaugural women’s race at the world-famous Tour of Britain, the country’s largest professional cycling race. The free-to-watch event brought female cycling into the limelight once again. The Tour’s winner, Holland’s Marianne Vos, added this title to her already impressive list of accolades – Olympic gold medallist and world road-race champion. She’s fast becoming a cycling legend.Cycling and boxing, in particular, are thought of as men’s sports, with athletes like Bradley Wiggins and Ricky Hatton household names in Britain. But perhaps the most popular sport among men? It’s got to be football. From chants in the stands to glugging a beer down the pub while the game’s on, football has long been seen as a man’s sport. But, more recently, women have been moving in on the action on the football pitch, too. According to stats from the Football Association, a whopping 1 million viewers tuned into the FA Women’s Cup Final last year, and a staggering 70,000 watched Team GB beat Brazil at Wembley Stadium during the 2012 Games. If spectator numbers are reaching such soaring figures, it’s undeniable that people want to see it. ‘The closer and more competitive our matches are, the more of a spectator sport it becomes,’ says former England player and assistant head coach of the England Women’s team, Marieanne Spacey. ‘More FA Women’s Super League teams are training full time and more players are turning professional. So standards will continue to rise and the quality of matches will improve even further.’The FA’s stats also prove that we want to get involved, too. Some 42.9% of those attending FA skills programme sessions are girls, and 11,025 of us attended national FA girls’ football festivals and fan zones last year. Football is no longer just for the boys.While some sports are traditionally male dominated, that’s not the case for all sports. Martial arts like taekwondo, for example, have a high number of female participants. ‘Unlike many sports, taekwondo has just as many female as male competitors,’ says Jade Jones, GB’s first taekwondo gold medallist. ‘Girls often start wanting to learn self-defence, but then realise the sport is much more than that. It’s technical, improves flexibility and is great for keeping fit. Our governing body also recently launched a campaign called KickSister, which encourages women to get involved by focusing more on fitness and self-defence.’Get a slice of the pie    Women’s SportsNet (WSNet), which is a useful hub for women to get information on sport, recently launched the ACTIVEMapX (wsnet.co.uk/activemapx) to help women find sports classes near them. Almost all of us have enjoyed playing sport at some point, even if it was just through school PE classes, so it’s often a case of simply finding a way to get back into it. With almost 20,000 locations nationwide offering hockey, netball and volunteer-led classes, ACTIVEMapX proves that it really is becoming easier and easier for women to get fit through sport, and that it’s slowly but steadily becoming the norm. ‘Local classes found on the ACTIVEMapX help you engage with friends and neighbours, and build confidence,’ says WSNet’s Paul Reynolds. ‘You can find fencing, rollerderby or powerhoop around the corner!’If you want to start with something more familiar, cycling is perfect. And following the success of golden girl Victoria Pendleton and her team mates in 2012, it’s no wonder that there have been so many initiatives to get more women into the sport. The FA have even joined forces with British Cycling to launch Kick Start Your Ride – a joint effort from two of the UK’s biggest governing bodies to get women to cycle to football matches. ‘This is about two sports coming together to inspire women to try something new,’ explains Natalie Justice, women’s network project manager at British Cycling. ‘The opportunity to go on a group bike ride with the prize of getting to watch some exciting football at the end of it has all the ingredients of a fun day out and we hope to see hundreds of women getting involved.’Raising the profile           It’s time to start evening the playing field, but it takes determination and courage. Something GB’s own gold-medal-winning cyclist Nicole Cooke has by the bucket. ‘When I first started competing in cycling, there were no British Championships for women in road or track,’ she says. ‘I wrote to the British Cycling Federation to ask for championships, and after an initial refusal, they changed their mind and I competed in the inaugural U16 British Track Championships for girls in 1998, and there are now championships for all age categories for girls on road and track – a huge step forward.’ Nicole also wrote to the Union Cycliste International (the world governing body for sports cycling) about the heavy bias towards men in the Olympics, which in 2004 offered eight medals for men and only four for women. In London 2012, five medals were offered to both men and women. While it’s shocking to see such inequality in sport, it’s the determination of people like Nicole that makes a real difference. Women’s Sport Trust (womenssporttrust.com) aims to raise the profile and visibility of women’s sports through role models, media coverage and funding – the things that get female athletes seen and heard in order to inspire others to give sport a go. ‘Since London 2012, there’s been an increase in coverage and buying of rights to women’s sport from broadcasters such as BT Sport, Sky and BBC,’ says Jo Bostock, co-founder of Women’s Sport Trust. ‘Not to mention the national cricket team becoming professional and the announcement of La Course – a female event alongside the final day of the Tour De France.’What WST does is important as it’s about encouraging women to realise that, whatever their fitness level, background or history, sport can be for them, too. We need to increase the positive impact not only by participating, but by watching women play sport, getting our companies involved with sponsorship and urging schools to create more sports opportunities. 

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WE’RE TALKING TO… Dame Sarah Storey

03 May 2016

 1. WHAT MAKES YOU PROUD?‘Podium Ambition – a not-for-profit company set up by me and my husband a few years ago to get more people cycling. Because our cycling team, Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International, excelled beyond all expectations last year, we had to step up quicker than expected by recently registering a UCI Women’s professional team. This gives us an exciting platform in an Olympic and Paralympic year to promote cycling even further.’ 2. HOW WILL YOU INSPIRE MORE WOMEN TO CYCLE ?‘By providing opportunities that better suit women’s lifestyles. We’ve launched a UK-wide sister team to the professional one, the Boot Out Breast Cancer (BOBC) Cycling Club (bootoutbreastcancer.org.uk), for people of all ages and abilities to get together either as riders or spectators. Even if members are in another part of the country, they can log in and find a local cycling buddy. It’s all about creating an inclusive, no-pressure environment where you can get involved as little or as much as you like – and raise money for BOBC, too. Our motto is Your Club, Your Way. 3. HOW ARE YOU PREPARING FOR RIO?‘Right now, I’m focusing on getting selected for the team – I have four titles to defend so I’d be really disappointed not to make it! I train six days a week in four-week cycles, with three weeks of overload and then a week of adaptation and recovery to allow my body to grow and become stronger. I’ve followed this pattern for 15 years. Nutrition-wise, I eat everything in moderation. It’s essential to listen to your natural hunger and give your body the fuel it needs – there’s only so much a nutritionist can tell you.’ 4. WHAT’S YOUR MOST ESSENTIAL ITEM OF KIT?‘Eyewear is very overlooked. Just as your muscles and heart get tired, your eyes get fatigued too, which is the last thing you need when you’re racing down a mountain at 50 mph – you don’t want to misjudge something and crash! I wear Adidas’ Evil Eye Halfrim Pro performance frame (£126.49, wiggle.co.uk) for enhanced vision and protection from the elements.’  Words: Joanna Ebsworth

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Give back and get fit

03 May 2016

Have you ever considered doing something positive for others but reasoned that, what with work, family, friends and the gym, you just couldn’t cram a little altruism into your life? If so, it’s time to reconsider, because social initiatives that cleverly combine volunteering opportunities with exercise are coming to a city near you. Hail the expansion of GoodGym, a not-for-profit organisation that encourages participants to merge their fitness routines with social care, by connecting people with physical tasks that benefit their community. Think running in a pack to work on a community project, doing one-off missions to help vulnerable people or committing to visiting an isolated older person. GoodGym is the brainchild of Ivo Gormley, a keen runner with a yearning to make it simple for people to engage with socially productive exercise. ‘I was frustrated with the idea of gyms – all these people working furiously on these machines that don’t do anything. It seemed like a massive waste of energy. I wanted to find a way to make it easy for people to do exercise that is actually useful.’ What started as a gentle weekly trot to drop in on a housebound family friend (Ivo used to combine weekly runs with a visit to an elderly friend) has dramatically expanded and now covers six areas of the UK, including four London boroughs plus Bristol and Liverpool. Within a few years, GoodGym hopes to operate in every major city in the UK before expanding globally.How it worksThe idea is simple; you register for your local group at goodgym.org then either opt to run as part of a group or on your own. If you run as part of a group, it gives you the chance to work alongside others to do something beneficial for your local area, such as tidying up a communal garden or painting a children’s centre. If you prefer to volunteer alone, then you can choose to be sent on a ‘mission’ to do a one-off job for a vulnerable person, such as changing light bulbs or delivering something. Or if you want to make a regular commitment, you can volunteer to be paired with an older person who becomes your ‘running coach’ during weekly visits.In each of the three set-ups, everyone wins – both the doer and the receiver. But it’s the pairing of a mobile younger person and older coach that is particularly mutually beneficial, as Ivo explains.‘For the older people, having a visitor is a massive deal. One hundred per cent of the older people we visit regularly consider their runner a friend and most of the older people really feel they are making a contribution to their runner’s fitness, too.’ Runner Harriet, 40, agrees, ‘Aside from being great motivation to leave the house when it’s wet or cold, visiting my coach, Michael, gives me a break in my run, which works well for my half-marathon training as I speed the 2.5 miles there, then warm down on the way home.’Whichever volunteering option you choose, knowing you’re genuinely making a difference is key. ‘For some members, GoodGym has been their way into regular exercise when they haven’t really seen the point before because knowing that you’re needed and you’re not just doing it for you is a great motivator,’ explains Ivo. ‘It’s about feeling useful and being a part of where you live.’ Volunteering with benefitsIt also helps that it’s a great way to stay fit. Although detractors might argue that running relatively short distances (group runs vary from 3 to 10K) won’t make a difference to your fitness levels or running ability, Ivo begs to differ. ‘We have the most brilliant personal trainers co-ordinating each local GoodGym, so you’ll get fantastic support from some extremely well-qualified people, as well as from other runners if you opt to run in a group.’ Some GoodGym members have run their first marathons and half-marathons since signing up.And it won’t just be your running that improves. Tasks assigned to group runners have included shifting two tonnes of earth in 45 minutes, removing weeds from parkland and moving 170 heavy archive boxes down several flights of stairs: feats that involve power, endurance and agility. As GoodGym member Sally points out, ‘Since joining GoodGym, my overall fitness, muscle tone and strength have improved, as has my appreciation of how much people can achieve when they work together.’But surely the inconsistency of each week’s run and allotted task means that you might not train as effectively as you would in the gym? ‘That’s where the local co-ordinators come into their own,’ says Ivo. ‘On the way back from every task, they take the group through a variety of exercises that ensure everyone has had a good workout,’ says Ivo. So expect fartlek or progressive running on your route home. ‘I’m confident GoodGym will help you achieve your goals through doing good, plus you’ll meet great people and see things in your area.’ Being active in your community has taken on a whole new meaning!5 ways to help others and get fit Volunteer with CSV Get stronger while learning new skills by giving up your time for a conservation or environmental project in the UK. Options include helping to preserve parks and open spaces, building adventure playgrounds and restoring heritage buildings. To find out more about volunteering opportunities and how you can make a difference, visit csv.org.uk.  Head outdoors anddo good with British Military FitnessJoin a BMF outdoor class and, as well as getting your body in shape, you can get involved in events to raise funds for local charities or enhance the open spaces in which you train. Find out more at britmilfit.com.Run for a sumBoost your cardio fitness, not to mention speed and stamina, by running a sponsored race. From Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life to Great Ormond Street Hospital’s Race for the Kids there’s a running challenge out there to suit you. Training will get you fitter, while the money you raise will go to help your chosen cause. To find an event visit runforcharity.com.Get gardeningFor an outdoor challenge with a difference, sign up to your local Green Gym. Participants meet outdoors and do a short warm-up before getting stuck into practical tasks such as weeding, planting and building walls – work that improves strength, stamina and confidence. Find out more at tcv.org.uk/greengymTravel abroadWant to go abroad to do your bit and get fit? Choose from sponsored treks in the Himalayas, cycling challenges in India, a walking holiday in Italy’s Amalfi Coast, or even a trip to Costa Rica to work on community projects. For trips that will open your mind and test your endurance, strength and cardio fitness, check out responsibletravel.com

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Pedal power

03 May 2016

Jumping on a shiny new steed and pedalling off into the sunset is a glorious feeling – you just can’t beat it! But if you haven’t saddled up for a few years, you may be wondering where to start or why to bother. Don’t worry! We caught up with Gareth Turner from Cyclebeat (cyclebeat.co.uk) to chat about the benefits of life on two wheels and how you can get back in the race. Slim cycleJumping on your bike is a fantastic way to blitz calories and trim down. ‘Cycling is a great way to lose weight and a brilliant way to burn calories – you can burn around 500 calories an hour cycling and sometimes much more,’ says Gareth. ‘Cycling can also have the added benefit of increasing your metabolism – even after the ride is over.And it’s a great option for working out on your commute. Think about it – you can get your workouts in on the way to and from work and cancel that gym membership altogether if you want! ‘And, because it is a non-weight bearing exercise, it’s a lot easier on the joints than something like running, so you can do it more often,’ says Gareth. Sounds good to us!It’s also a great toner, working your lower body hard, which – thanks to this focus on the bigger muscles in your body (bum and legs!) also burns fat. ‘Cycling helps to tone your muscles and works your calves, thighs and bottom, while also giving your shoulders and arms a workout, too,’ says Gareth.Healthy heartCycling is not only bags of fun, and a great way to stay in shape, it’s good for your heart, too. ‘Cycling improves cardiovascular fitness,’ explains Gareth. ‘And the British Heart Foundation says that cycling regularly can help to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes by up to 50 per cent.’ Mind mattersAnd getting on your bike could have benefits for the mind, too. ‘It’s not just the body that sees the benefits, as cycling is believed to reduce stress, anxiety and provide a sense of wellbeing,’ says Gareth. A cycle home after a long day is a great way to shake off your worries.Wheely wheely funWhizzing around on a bike gives you a great sense of freedom and there are so many types of cycling, and types of bikes, you can try. ‘Cycling can be very varied and fun – try mountain bike trails, exhilarating downhills, BMX and road biking with amazing views,’ says Gareth. Plus it’s one of the few workouts in which you can have a good gas with your mates, too! Have you every tried catching up over a quick swim or disco rave class?! ‘Cycling can be very social by riding in a group and also with the family – everyone can get involved,’ adds Gareth. Back to it!Check out Gareth’s top tips for beginners or those getting back into cycling:The first thing that you will need is a bike; it’s best to visit a good bike shop where they can give advice and find you a bike that fits properly.Start by riding comfortably for up to 45 minutes three times a week, then look to slowly build on the number of sessions, duration and speed of sessions gradually.There are cycling proficiency courses that can build skills and get you ready for the road if you’re nervous.Practise riding in a traffic-free area, such as a local park, to build confidence.Why not get used to pedalling, standing and clipping in and out of pedals at a studio such as Cyclebeat (cyclebeat.co.uk) before heading out.

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Road Biking in the French Alps – A great way to get fit…

Road Biking in the French Alps – A great way to get fit…

03 May 2016

In Britain many think of cycling in the mountains as a tough call, especially when one watches the Tour de France. However, there are routes to cater for all abilities and skill levels, so it’s worth considering this as a great fitness holiday. The bonus is stunning and incredibly varied scenery, a chance to really get away from the busy British roads whilst enjoying local cuisine and culture. Choosing the right holiday company with a variety of itineraries will help you pinpoint your ideal trip. Premiere Velo (http://www.premiere-velo.com) with its centre-based tailored tours & itineraries in the French Alps cater for beginner to expert, with varied and stunning cycling terrain and top quality accommodation. Staying in a luxury 5 star catered chalet with private chef and chalet host, guests will be able to indulge in large ensuite rooms, spacious living areas, a balcony hot tub, private spa with hot tub, sauna and treatment room, and a private gym with Wattbike.These centre based holidays offer an incredible variety of terrain and itineraries with support: Coaching for cycling for all levels Bike mechanics, available when you are on and off the bike Bike hire - we have a fleet of top end Scott bikes Full van support with radio contact Optional Sports physio & massage Nutrition advice FAQ sessions, ask our cycle coachINTRO TO THE ALPS CYCLE HOLIDAY - 4 or 7 NIGHTSA great starter or full week of time in the saddle finding your wheels at altitude with coaching, support, tips & tricks. Perfect if you want to initiate yourself to the fabulous mountain terrain.WATCH & RIDE THE TOUR DE FRANCE - 7 NIGHTSWho wouldn’t want to watch the tour go past as well as get some riding in the mountains and enjoy sections of famous Tour de France routes?CYCLE FAMOUS ALPINE COLS - 4 or 7 NIGHTSChoose from a short sharp few days, or a full week to experience world class Tarentaise cols.SELF GUIDED, HALF BOARD, ROAD CYCLING HOLIDAYS – 3 NIGHTS OR MOREStaying in our luxury chalet The Peak. The perfect choice if you just want to concentrate on riding your own routes or create a group of similar level ability. For full details on all holidays, please go to www.premiere-velo.com T: +44 (0)131 510 2525

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Protein shakes for women

03 May 2016

Protein shakes are often associated with bulging, muscly men who've just left the gym after a session of god knows what.But actually, women need protein too, and if you're an especially active one, chances are you need a fair amount of the stuff.You might find it tough to get enough protein through food if you exercise a lot, or your busy lifestyle might not allow you to prepare as many of your meals as you'd like. This is where protein shakes come in. You can chug one back immediately after a tough session to get the protein to your muscles quickly, and you can carry it in your bag until you need it. It's like they were made for us.There are a lot of options on the market these days, so make sure you opt for a high-quality one that tastes good, too. You want to look forward to your post-exercise treat, after all. Here are our picks of the best protein shakes.Protein World Slender Blend (£32)Featuring a unique blend of whey protein and fat-fighting nutrients such as raspberry ketones and green tea, this weight loss-based protein drink comes in four yummy flavours. It's also vegetarian and gluten-free.Maxitone Definity Protein Plus (24.99)Not only is this shake packed with protein making it perfect for a post-workout meal, but it also boasts 21 vitamins and minerals, ensuring you're getting the nutrients you need on a daily basis.PhD Woman Support & Recovery (£21.59)It's not just the fact that this shake can be used before and after exercise, or that it's full of vitamins and minerals perfect for women that makes us love it. It's the to-die-for Chocolate Cookie flavour that we just love.Solgar Whey To Go (£15.31)With no artificial sweeteners and extracted using a low heat and no chemicals, this is definitely the health-conscious woman's choice. The hydrolysed form that the whey takes also makes it super-absorbant.Nature's Plus Ultra Energy (£23.86)For those who need to steer clear of dairy, this blend of pea, rice and soy protein is perfect. It also boasts a low GI and can double up as your daily multivitamin.Want more advice on sports nutrition? Subscribe to Women's Fitness. We'll give you 3 issues for £1.

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Reading Half Marathon – race report

03 May 2016

I'm training for my first marathon, the Virgin London Marathon on 24 April. My training plan advised that I do a half marathon race before the full monty, to get used to the race atmosphere and get an idea on running pace and finishing time. Vitality Reading Half was on the 3 April 2016, so it was perfect timing.On arrival in Reading we were shuttled to the race village and there was plenty of facilities on hand. The bag drop was clear and queue free! The race start was busy, with over 15,000 runners all primed for the race and buzzing with excitement. The starter gun goes, and we're off!The first four miles had great support, with young and old cheering everyone on. Bands played music, there were some great drumming under a flyover bridge, and a pub pumped out dance tunes, which really gave me an extra boost. Small children were giving high fives and handing out Jelly Babies, and even a pub was giving runners small samples of ale! Although tempted I didn't partake in the ale as there was a steady hill around mile 10 that I had to run up.At times during the race it was really heart warming when people had banners reading 'Keep going! you can do it! You are amazing'; I felt humbled and connected with other runners and the crowd.The end of the race was downhill, which was fine by me! The sun began to shine and there was a feeling of nearly being there. The last three miles I felt tired so the crowd support really spurred me on, and with the fantastic stadium finish I managed to do a sprint finish, which was out of pure relief and joy, it really was a brilliant moment.I had done it, in a time of 2.06.43, which I was very happy with. Next stop, London!!!

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How to be a triple threat

03 May 2016

So, you’ve done a marathon, ticked off the Tough Mudder and aced the fun run? Hello, triathlon! If you’re a high fitness achiever, training for three disciplines is just the challenge you’re craving. A triathlon is also a great option if you’d like to try an endurance sport, but the monotony of long runs or cycle rides doesn’t tickle your fancy. Racing from a swim to a cycle to a run is a great way to break up longer distances, keeping your mind ticking over, your body guessing and your adrenaline firing. And it’s not just for the pros, either. The shorter distances (sprint and super sprint) are popular with veterans and beginners alike. Intrigued? We’ve got the info and story from one of our very own, for all you need to know for your first triathlon challenge. Let’s get started! 'How i survived my first triathlon’WF staff writer and sub-editor Ellie Moss bravely entered the SuperSprint distance at the Human Race Events’ (humanrace.co.uk) HSBC Triathlon at Dorney Lake. Here’s how she fared…‘I was super nervous about doing a triathlon because, although I tried my best, when it came to the big dayI didn’t have much training under my belt. I arrived in the pelting rain, but there was such a great atmosphere the weather didn’t seem to matter. ‘The swim started in the water and, as we tip-toed in, the cold lake filled our wetsuits. But there wasn’t much time to groan about the cold as we were off and powering through the 400m open-water swim. By the timeI finished my arms were exhausted, but I ran through to the bike race, peeling off my Aqua Spher (aquasphereswim.com/uk) wetsuit as I went. The cycle was a welcome relief after the tough going in the water. I got up some good speed and quickly arrived at the next transition. Only later did I realise that I’d missed out the second lap of the cycle, meaning I was disqualified! ‘After I racked my bike and helmet, I headed off for the run, jelly legs in tow. The 2.5K sprint was easy going, but while I jogged I realised that I’d messed up the cycle lap, so my head was spinning. I managed to push myself through the run and made it to the finish in one piece.‘I had a great day  – even though my times didn’t count – and I’m definitely signing up again next year!’Follow @felicitycole and @BritTri on Twitter for mega triathlon inspiration.

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Tri a triathlon with Team Macmillan

03 May 2016

You may have got one – or several – triathlons under your belt already. If not, then taking on a triathlon for the first time can be daunting. But, if you can run 5K, own a bike and can swim 16 lengths then you’re a triathlete in the making.Macmillan Cancer Support are inviting any nervous novices to take the plunge this summer and take up a triathlon to prove to yourself that you can do it.With expert advice, fantastic training support, free items of kit and thunderous cheers on race day, Team Macmillan are the ultimate support crew, helping you do something you never thought you could.'I took part in the Brownlee Triathlon because it was hosted in the hometown where my mum lived and died as a cancer patient. I loved the opportunity to put my healthy body to good use to fight cancer with fitness, and be part of Team Macmillan.The best moment for me was as I approached the bottom of an upward climb on the run section. There was a sign attached to a tree saying "dig deep for Yorkshire". As I came to it I shouted "my Mum was from Yorkshire, I’m digging deep for my mum!’"and off I ran, encouraged and inspired by my surroundings and all the other participants of the race.' Linzi, Team Macmillan triathlete 2014Only 31% of Macmillan Cancer Support’s triathletes are women, so it’s time to add your legs [and arms] to this fast growing sport.Do something different with your summer. Take up Macmillan’s challenge and help change the lives of people affected by cancer #thisgirlcanSpectacular castle settings at the Windsor TriathlonTri the Windsor Triathlon on the 12 June. Awarded the British Triathlon Federation’s ‘Event of the Year’ a remarkable seven times, the Sprint distance (750m swim, 30km cycle, 5km run) is perfect for those in the South of England. Macmillan is the official charity so places are only £4!Find out more at www.macmillan.org.uk/windsortriRace with the Brownlee BrothersJoin the charismatic Olympic brothers at Harewood House in Leeds. There’s plenty of time to train before 24 September and alongside the triathlon there are activities for the whole family to enjoy, not forgetting the ever popular Kids Duathlon.Sign up for free at www.macmillan.org.uk/brownleetriSprint triathlons at stately homesBased at one of the country's finest stately homes, Chatsworth House, the Peak District Triathlon takes place on the 3rd July. With a plethora of activities for all the family - including a spectacular adventure playground, farmyard, and a stunning estate – you can race in the morning and stay to enjoy your day at Chatsworth. Better yet, entry is free.Register for your free place at www.macmillan.org.uk/peakdistricttriathlon

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5 things NOT to do at the gym

03 May 2016

Whether you’re new to the gym or have been going for years, there are some errors that even experienced gym-goers make time and time again. Not only can this lead to boredom or lack of results, you could be increasing your risk of injury.If you’ve reached a plateau in your training or you’re not getting where you want to be fast enough, there’s a good chance you’re making at least one of these mistakes. It’s time to get it right, with the help of celebrity trainer and founder of 5 Star Bootcamp, Danni Levy. With her advice, you can reboot your workouts to get the results you want – pronto!1. Don’t spend hours on one cardio machine‘Cardio is central to fat loss, but if you spend more than 50 per cent of your workout time on it, think again,’ says Levy. To really improve your shape, weight train. Your body will drain its glycogen stores doing weights, so if you do 20 minutes of cardio afterwards your body will switch to burning fat. 2. Don’t hide at the back of a class‘While group exercise is a great way to have fun and get fit, many of us join classes without being given any guidance on technique,’ says Levy. ‘When classes are large, instructors can’t be expected to notice every single movement of every single person, so if you’re unsure, don’t be afraid to get yourself noticed! Bad form will not only cancel out the effects of all your hard work, but lead to poor posture, lack of enjoyment and possible injury. Instructors are there to do just that: instruct. So don’t be embarrassed to ask!’ 3. Don’t just use fixed machinesWe’ve all been there; you join the gym, an instructor shows you round the fixed resistance machines and you receive your new exercise programme – all on machines! ‘Although fixed machines do serve a purpose, especially for beginners, you’ll get more from your time and effort if you do a dumbbell or body weight circuit,’ says Levy. ‘Many machines isolate one muscle, which means you burn fewer calories and work fewer muscles. Plus, if you’re not using a machine, you’ll work your core, which helps to build a more functional body.’ 4. Don’t ignore your weaknesses‘We all have exercises we enjoy more than others, and that’s normally because we’re better at them,’ explains Levy. ‘Take a step back and admit your weaknesses, then set about making them your strengths. If you have slim arms, but your thighs could do with some trimming down, sign up to a Spin class and include more squats and lunges in your programme. Perhaps you carry weight around your midriff? Chop into your waist with dynamic medicine ball movements and cable woodchops. Work on your weak areas and it won’t be long before you become the whole package.’ 5. Don’t abandon your goals‘Working out with a partner or group of friends can be great fun, but if you’re training alongside someone with totally different goals, this can be detrimental to your own progress,’ says Levy. ‘If your fitness levels are unevenly matched, or you enjoy different things, be honest with yourself and your training partner and go your separate ways after the warm-up. You can always enjoy a sauna or coffee together afterwards, or get together every week for a weigh-in and progress review,’ adds Levy. ‘You can still reap the benefits of joining the gym together, you just need to keep your goals in mind.’ 

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Posted in Bodybuilding, Diets, Exercises, Fitness Equipment, Nutrition, Sports nutrition, Warm up, Weight loss0 Comments

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