Monthly Archives: July 2017

Running Is All In Your Head! Set Your Mind That You Can

I am not a runner. I have never been a runner.

My body had been trained to run 22 yards and back at pace wearing pads, gloves and carrying a bat. Or, it was trained to take off quickly to chase a ball in 39 degree heat at the height of summer. My body was comfortable with this for over 15 years. From an early age I’ve conditioned my body and my brain that I’m not a runner.

But now I am. I am a runner because my head allowed me to be. Sitting fairly and squarely on each of my shoulders is a logical, practical, passionate, perfectionist brain that makes decisions, sometimes in consultation with other parts of my body, but mostly on its own.

I played team sports at high school and took up club cricket in Year 7; I love feeling part of something bigger where everyone is working together to achieve a goal.

So when the group I do personal training with raved about the runs they’d recently completed and the ones they’d signed up for in the coming months, my imagination was captured and I wanted in.

IMG_3218 (002)It began with the 5kms Run 4 The Kids in 2013. More nervous than when I walk out to bat, I sooked up a treat at the start line admiring all the families running in memory of a loved one. I ran the 5kms without stopping and cried again at the finish line elated to share in the overwhelming sense of achievement with my friends– I had done it!

Since then, I haven’t looked back and have actually enjoyed running and all that comes with it: the training, the early starts, the injuries and the weather.  Mostly I enjoy the group of people I train with. We all come from different walks of life, our fitness levels vary and our availability to run is scattered but we all have the same goal – to run.  The support from this group is incredible, which is needed when I feel like rolling over and going back to sleep – I don’t because I don’t want to let the group down because they rely on me to support them too. Plus, the breakfast and chat afterwards makes it even more enjoyable!

IMG_3747 (003)We’ve run:

  • Run Melbourne
  • Melbourne Marathon 10km
  • Zoo Twilights @ Melbourne Zoo
  • Run the Gap at Halls Gap
  • City 2 Surf in Sydney and;

The furthest I’ve ever run – The Gold Coast Half Marathon in 2015. In the six months leading into the ‘race’, our group was committed to each other and to training. Every Sunday morning at 7.30am we’d hit the streets regardless of weather, emotion or life circumstance. So often I would feel that there was no way I could run up the hill or 10kms let alone 21km, but as the months got colder, the distance got further and upon returning to the car I’d realise we’d just run the furthest I’d ever run. I had a grin from ear-to-ear and may have done a little ‘look what I just achieved!’ dance, much to the amusement of my fellow runners! The weekend at the Gold Coast is the highlight of my running career, I did it and I did it under my goal of 2hrs 30mins – an experience I will never forget nor could have achieved without the support of the friends I ran with and telling myself that I could actually do it.

We all need support, a text message here and there, a Facebook photo of an injury or bib arriving in the mail keeps us all on track at various stages ensuring that we meet our goals. We support each other on the runs too, willing each other along with words of support or rationale just to run to the next tree or street sign. This is what I love about our group.

You can do it too – it’s all about setting your mind to it and there are three key steps:

  1. You have to find what motivates you. For me, it’s being part of a group.

FullSizeRender (003)You must find what makes you run (firstly) and then to keep running, up the hill, to the next kilometre or simply get out of bed and get there on time. I would never have achieved the 8 runs that I have done if it had not been for the fabulous members of our group and for getting clear about what it was that was motivating me.

2. Look good, feel good.

Splurge on those runners, tights, sports bra and socks. You want to get out of bed and know you will be comfortable. I LOVE my Asics Kayano runners, my Brooks Rebound Racer Sports Bra, my 2XU tights, and socks. I love socks! My 2XU and Balega socks are like running on pillows. Splurge – do it! You’ll feel great when you look great.

3. Become an archer – you need to have a target.

I find when I sign up for a run, I am actually motivated to do something about it. So sign up – just do it and then work out how you’re going to hit the bullseye. I get butterflies in my tummy every time I sign up for a run, but overtaking that is the memory of the feeling of crossing the finish line!

Did I set out to be a runner? No, I joined a fitness group to get fit. But I discovered my brain and my body CAN work together to achieve a goal, whatever that might be.

IMG_4793 (002)The perception is that there is a ‘mould’ of runner – skinny, running shorts, singlet, visor and a smooth stride that makes it look easy. I can tell you that this is certainly not the case, you can become a runner – it’s all in your head. Believe you want to do it and you will.

 

By Tamara Mason

IMG_5792 (002)Launch pic hi resTamara is an avid cricket player who has a passion for encouraging females to play cricket. She’s also now a runner and She Science Ambassador. You can follow Tamara at @masonte007

Overtraining Syndrome – Signs, Symptoms and How To Manage or Avoid It

I suffered with Chronic Fatigue for three years after getting glandular fever in my early twenties. Previous to this I was your typical Type A overachiever- studying a science degree and then Physio Masters full time, working part time, training 15+ hours a week for triathlon and socialising. On top of this I severely restricted my caloric intake in an effort to be lean and fast and through a warped body image. Burning the candle at both ends and feeling invincible as I had lived like this for years and had seemingly unlimited energy- my friends called me “Duracell”!

Then I got glandular fever and fought and fought and refused to fully rest. This reluctance to surrender to what my body was telling me lead to me having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for years. Each time I started to get a bit better I pushed myself over the edge again. Finally I learnt to respect and listen to my body- I took a big step back from sport and focussed on wellness. Ultimately my body healed through natural therapies, a nourishing diet, rest, mindfulness and following my body’s intuition, but it took a long time and it was a long gradual build up back to training.

I am now back in competitive sport and performing better than ever. I train differently to how I used to and to others around me. I focus on quality sessions and not quantity and I take a lot more rest/recovery than my Type A mind tells me I should. I still slip up and overdo it sometimes, but now I can read my body and quickly correct my mistakes and recover.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is very similar to Overtraining Syndrome. It is a horrible hole to go down and can take years to recover. I have written this blog in an effort to help other athletes and overachievers avoid overtraining.

You can still be a great athlete and perform at your peak without jeopardizing your health.

What is Overtraining syndrome?

 Overtraining Syndrome is the result of an imbalance in exertion and recovery, generally over a sustained period of time. It is a maladaptive response to excessive exercise when not matched with appropriate recovery and results in changes to multiple body systems.

A person would be diagnosed with Overtraining Syndrome if they saw a sudden decrease in athletic performance and increase in perceived effort and this does not improve with rest.

What are the symptoms?

 Some or all of the following symptoms may be experienced. Generally the more advanced the Overtraining Syndrome is the more symptoms that will be experienced and the longer the recovery process.350064_419_Juno_LS_F17_001 BRK_F17_Sports_Bras_Spring_Juno_18462_i22778x04A_3u

  • Decreased athletic performance
  • Increased perceived effort and heart rate to previously “easy level” training
  • Ongoing fatigue that doesn’t dissipate with rest
  • Lack of motivation
  • Change in appetite
  • Depression or altered mood
  • Increased and /or unexplained Injuries
  • Increased resting heart rate
  • Decreased accuracy of fine motor skills and/or coordination
  • Hormonal changes
  • Weight changes
  • Increased illness and common colds

What causes it?

Too much stress (physical, emotional and mental) and not enough recovery is the main cause of Overtraining Syndrome.

Other causes are:

  • A rapid or sudden increase in training volume and/or intensity. Or a rapid or sudden increase in life load/stress without a reduction in training.
  • Insufficient sleep and/or recovery.
  • Diet also has a big effect. A poor diet- high in inflammatory foods and low in nutrients will increase stress to the body. Insufficient calories consumed to fuel training and life will leave the body depleted and unable to recover and adapt from training.

 How do I avoid it?

Be careful to look at whole life load rather than just your training load. All aspects of life can contribute to fatigue and stress so these must be considered when building a training program. If you have a high life load then you probably won’t be able to log as many hours of training as peers with less life stressors. This may change over time – for example if you are going through a stressful time then it would be wise to reduce your training load over this time.

  • Start any new training program gradually – ie: start with just one hard session per week and gradually increase as your body adapts.
  • Monitor your tolerance to your training and whole life load. Try to be objective and honest and don’t be influenced by what you think you should be able to do/need to do or what others are doing.
  • Monitor your response to training – if a session suddenly feels a lot harder than it should/usually does then take a few days of rest. If this feeling persists see a medical professional.
  • Take regular rest days and easy weeks. Taking every fourth week as a reduced mileage and easier effort week is common in many training programs.
  • Take at least one easy recovery day after every hard training session. Be honest with yourself about how much recovery your body needs – you may need two or three days to be ready to train hard again.
  • Take easy recovery days/weeks after racing as required. This will vary depending on the length of the race and whether it was performed at maximal effort or for training. The longer the race the more recovery will be needed. Generally three days as a minimum increasing up to several weeks for long endurance races. Again, listen to your body.
  • Consume a healthy, balanced diet that contains adequate carbohydrate, protein and fat to meet your body’s needs for training and life.
  • Reduce foods that increase inflammation and stress in your body such as processed food, refined grains and sugars, fried foods, excess caffeine/stimulants/alcohol, any foods that you have/suspect you have intolerances to.
  • Drink plenty of water and replace electrolytes as needed during hot or long/hard training sessions and races.
  • Reduce emotional stressors in your life where possible.
  • Do something for you regularly that reduces your stress (not a training session!) such as having a massage, doing a yoga class or going to see a movie with a friend._HR21267
  • Participate in regular meditation. More and more evidence is showing that meditation and mindfulness is an effective way to lower stress and increase physical and emotional health. It may also make you more in tune with your body so you are better able to recognise when you need rest or an imbalance in the body that could become an injury. There are great apps and YouTube clips for at home guided meditations.
  • Try to get at least eight hours of sleep per night.
  • Monitor your heart rate. Many athletes monitor their waking resting heart rate. If this increases above their normal they will take rest days or see a medical professional until it returns to their normal.
  • If you begin to see any signs of overtraining reduce your training, particularly the hard sessions and see a medical professional.

Images courtesy of Brooks www.brooksrunning.com.au

By Lauren Starr, Physiotherapist

blog pic vLauren Starr is a physiotherapist and also takes clinical pilates, hydrotherapy and yoga classes. Outside of work she spends her spare time running. She has competed in trail and road events but has currently shifted her focus to athletics.