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Running tips for women

Ace your next race with these top tips

Going for a run is probably one of the most popular ways to get your workout on, whether it’s hitting the roads or jumping on a treadmill when the weather’s gross outside. If you sometimes find running a little tedious, why not challenge yourself to go faster or further?

Here are our top tips to smash your run.

To the gym

Weight training could make you a better runner. A Norwegian study found that resistance training three times a week for eight weeks significantly improved running efficiency and endurance in well-trained, long-distance runners.

Uphill battle

Want to conquer the hills? To race uphill, run with a short stride while pushing off the balls of your feet and pumping your arms. Then relax your arms and use a longer stride to go downhill.

Ready, set, splash!

Getting wet could make you a better runner. Swimming increases your upper body strength, making your runs more efficient, while aqua jogging mimics your usual movement sans impact – reducing the risk of injury.

Bright idea

‘Watch your stance when running,’ tips Fitness First trainer Andy Hall. ‘Leaping forward and striding too far will drain your energy fast. Instead, make sure you stand tall and lean slightly forward, so when you feel like you’re going to fall, you step forward just enough to catch yourself. This should be the length of your stride.’

Take five

Listen to your body! If you’re feeling under the weather or if your body is sore and ready for a rest, take a recovery day. Only you know if those aches and pains are from a good run or the sign you need to rest.

Sand storm

Here’s a good excuse to book a beach getaway – running on sand can improve your speed and muscle tone. A study from St Luke’s University Clinic in Belgium found that pounding the sand requires 1.6 times more energy than running on pavements as your body has to work harder to deal with the soft, unstable surface. That adds up to more defined muscles and a swifter run when you get back to solid ground. Neat!

Drink up

Hydration is key for runners, but plain old water is best if you’re only doing short runs. Upgrade to a sports drink if you’re running for longer than an hour to help shuttle glucose to your muscles and combat fatigue.

Play it safe Protect yourself – the great outdoors brings potential hazards:

Navigate new destinations Make use of online running forums and social media groups to discover popular routes. Clearly defined, well-lit roads are a must when running in the dark, and remember there’s safety in numbers. Recruit a running buddy or join a club to improve your technique with like-minded enthusiasts – it’s way more fun than going solo!

Ditch your headphones An uplifting playlist can send motivation soaring, but when you’re running outside you need to be aware of your surroundings so you can rely on your senses when you need them. Save the tunes for your indoor workout and shift your attention to your breathing and form – or if you feel you really can’t run without music just keep the volume low.

Check the forecast We all know the British weather is unpredictable. It’s worth checking the forecast before you lace up so you don’t get caught in heavy rain that could hamper your performance and increase your risk of injury.

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Running tips for women

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Morgan Lake Q & A

Ahead of the 2017 World Championships in Athletics, we spoke with GB athlete Morgan Lake on how she’s balancing personal life and training

Health&Fitness: You turned 20 last week – how does an athlete celebrate her birthday?

Morgan Lake: Probably quite different to how other people celebrate their birthday. I had a full day of training and then went out for a meal with my family and friends. Quite a chilled one – but still nice.

H&F: Looking back at last year, what was it like to have made the Olympic final in Rio?

ML: It was amazing. I didn’t really expect anything from it. My biggest aim last year was to make the games and so finding out I’d made the final after qualification was more than I ever could have hoped for.

H&F: How do you cram in the training for all of the different events for the heptathlon?

ML: It’s definitely hard to programme it all. There are seven events to train for [high jump, 100 metre hurdles, shot put, 200 metres, javelin, long jump and 800 metres] and you’ve also got to have strength and conditioning as well. It is hard – I usually do about three events a day, maybe four. So training twice a day and then Sunday is a rest day. I also have to fit in studies and try to have a social life. I try and use every hour of the day. It’s not as hectic sounds, and I’ve got into a routine now where I know what I’m doing.

H&F: Away from athletics, what are your interests?

ML: I enjoy being with my friends. When I’m training I’m on my own quite a lot of the time so I don’t really have much time to relax and watch movies, listen to music. Just normal stuff.

H&F: How important to your performance is your diet?

ML: It’s very important. I’m realising that more and more, especially for my energy levels. We have a British Athletics sports nutritionist who we can go to at any time, which is really helpful.

H&F: What power foods and drinks do you use for energy?

ML: I use Red Bull – I used it a lot even before I became an athlete. I use it in training, before competitions, during competitions. During training I will have a sugar-free Red Bull, and then I use the normal kind for competitions.

H&F: What gym moves do you find work best for your overall fitness?

ML: I love core workouts. I don’t really have much time to do them at the moment but I’ll try and squeeze them in at the end of my gym sessions.

H&F: What are the expectations moving up from a successful junior athlete to a senior athlete?

ML: I’ve always had a teen title to my name and now I’m not a junior anymore. It is a bit of a jump and I’ve got to make sure I transition well. I have a long career in the sport so I’m just trying not to rush it.

We tried it!

H&F’s Hally Houldsworth tested out her high jump skills at the Lee Valley Athletics Centre with Morgan Lake and former Olympic Gold medallist Jason Gardener.

‘Beginning with a warm-up, Megan explains how important stretching is to her daily routine – she starts her day with an hour warm-up before training even begins. Cutting that back to roughly 10 minutes, our high jump session begins.

As the session unfolds, we learn that technique plays a huge part when it comes to this event. There are many components that affect your overall performance in various ways. For example, pushing hard off one leg and driving with the other gives you greater height over the pole, as does beginning the jump at a certain distance from it (which is relative to your height). ‘Jumping too close or too far away will cause you to knock it down’, Morgan explains.

Taking four large strides for my run-up and building up as much speed as I can in that time, I begin to understand that I must concentrate on using all the parts of my body in my jump. As I push hard off the ground with my left foot I drive my right knee and right arm up into the air. This pulls me up before I can arch my back and tilt to the right to bend over the pole, flicking my legs up as soon as my back has crossed it so as not to bring it down during my landing.

My various attempts at the event are recorded and Morgan watches them over, offering feedback and encouragement as she does: pointing out the importance of using my arms and engaging my core.

The session proves a valuable experience in understanding the thought process of an athlete – particularly when learning how they overcome obstacles such as mental blocks, and how the psychology of their sport allows them to push past this not only during training, but also in a competitive environment.’

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Morgan Lake Q&A

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How to fit running into your busy schedule

Life’s unexpected curveballs can easily scupper your training plans. In fact, research shows one-in-five Brits
blame lack of time (and lethargy!) for not exercising at all. We’ve asked a panel of experts how you can stay on top of your goals when life is crying out for you to let them slide.

The Hurdle: Family Commitments

If you’re struggling to squeeze a run into your busy family life, it’s time to think outside of the box.

Train Together

Data from Bupa shows
that running mums spend more quality time with their children. And not only that, 65 per cent of running mums find it easier to juggle everyday tasks compared to 43 per cent of non-active mums. ‘Use family as a positive by getting your partner or children involved, and encouraging them to train together,’ suggests Tom Coates, personal trainer at PureGym.

Book in Runs

Research in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology shows people who diarise their training sessions are more likely to stick to their programme. ‘Those of us who record runs tend to exercise more frequently than those who don’t, so are far more likely to see results,’ says Dean Hodgkin, personal trainer at Ragdale Hall.

Run to School

Ditch the car
and encourage your children to get fit by scooting or cycling to school. ‘That way you can run alongside them at a leisurely pace (or faster if you’re running late) and then run back home, too,’ adds Alison Beadle, pre- and post-natal fitness author at livewellbhappy.co.uk.

Buddy Up

A recent poll by the British Heart Foundation confirms that women would rather run as part of a group, with almost half confirming that group running is preferable to jogging alone. ‘Consider joining a mummy running club, in which people run with buggies,’ suggests Beadle.

The Hurdle: A Demanding Job

Don’t let your job define your fitness levels. With these nifty notions, you’ll clock that training session, whatever the agenda.

Club Together

Two-thirds of British workers take less than 20 minutes for lunch. Not only is this not good for your health, but it’s also bad for your productivity. ‘Running in your lunch hour provides a change of scenery from the office that can help you de-stress and re-focus,’ points out Brook Fenton, Proskins running expert.

Run To Work

Try running to and from work. Park the car a few miles away from work or get off the train a stop earlier and run into the office. Not only will you save money and keep fit, but research from the University of East Anglia shows that active commuters are better able to concentrate than workers who travel by car.

Train Fast

Even if you’re training for an endurance race, speed sessions are worthwhile workouts, too. ‘With interval training, it’s easy to fit in a shorter run if need be,’ says Coates. Try squeezing in a run by doing three lots of one-, two- and three-minute efforts, with 30 seconds’ recovery between intervals.

Stick Up Reminders

If you’re still struggling to swap work
for miles, try hanging a medal from your computer says Hodgkin. ‘Even keeping a spare pair of trainers in the back of your car, so that you see them every time you open the boot, can be quite persuasive.’

The Hurdle: A Busy Social Life

One of the benefits of running is that it’s a solo sport but swapping days out for miles on the road can be a bit lonely.

Get ’Appy

Running doesn’t have to be a lonely activity. Social training apps such as Sprinter, Garmin Connect or Strava are a fantastic way to connect with other runners. ‘With 100,000 new members signing up to Strava each week, athletes of all abilities are joining the community so that they can track and compare their activities to help motivate them,’ explains Gareth Nettleton, director of international marketing at Strava.

Run with Friends

Far from detaching you from your social group, running could be a great way to bring you together. ‘Research shows that training with a friend leads to greater adherence to your workout schedule,’ explains Hodgkin.

Rise Early

If you’re finding it difficult to balance weekend runs with social events, get into the habit of running before the day starts. ‘Waking up earlier for a
run is tough at first but, by training in the morning, you’re giving yourself the rest
of the day for other commitments – not
to mention starting the day in a positive way,’ says Coates.

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How to fit running into your busy schedule

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Do it like a Pro

1 Roll with the punchesTrain2WinIf you’re up for trying something different from your ordinary gym workout while taking things to the next level, then it’s worth checking out boxing programme Train2Win. Brought to you by strength and conditioning coach Dan Lawrence and British boxing champ George Groves, the detailed 10-week programme is designed to improve strength and mobility across all levels. There are three levels to choose from – beginner, intermediate and advanced – so whether you’re looking for a fun but structured method of training or you’re keen to brush up on your boxing skills, rest assured that you’ll be challenged throughout the course. The 10 weeks are broken down into four ‘blocks’ to focus on a particular area of fitness: two weeks of general prep, four weeks of strength, two weeks of speed and strength, and two weeks of speed and endurance. Channel your inner Pacquiao!£125, train2winboxing.com2 Hit the streetsRunFitKeen runner

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Do it like a Pro

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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 cycle

Jumping 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 heart

Cycling 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 matters

And 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 fun

Whizzing 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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Pedal power

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Paige Hathaway

4 hours 2 minutes ago

Who runs the world? 🙋🏼‍♀️🙋🏼‍♀️ Sweet Sweat
Well... YOU DO IF YOU CHOOSE TOO!

Only YOU are in control of your future. What are you doing today to get yourself closer to your goals...? ✨ #grindtime

Paige Hathaway

2 days 2 hours ago

She was a true fighter..

You could see it in her eyes. She wasn’t born strong.. She was built strong. She didn’t come from the perfect home and even tho it may seem she were in the most favorable current situation, things were far from perfect. Despite her past, She kept her heart beautiful but her fight tough. She was focused, handling her own business and she made a decision to do more than just survive using courage, hard work and consistency.

Somedays she had no idea how she’d do it but she never made excuses or gave up and even when she failed, she got right back up. She learned that the hardest times in life were when she was transitioning from one version of herself to another.

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