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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

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. 



Why women don’t wear Sports Bras

It’s been suggested that 73% of women who exercise regularly don’t do so wearing a Sports Bra. When I first read this figure I was genuinely shocked.
Australian Researchers Julia Steele, Kelly Anne Bowles & Bridget Munro took things a little further and conducted a study to determine exactly what is was about commercially available Sports Bras that didn’t leave a good impression on their female market.
The most common despised feature of the modern day Sports Bra was reported by those surveyed as ‘the straps’; with two main complaints, straps that dig in and straps that slip.
But it didn’t stop there, other annoyances included clips & fastenings diggings in, bra bands creeping up & irritating rubbing from stitching.
And aside from those physical irritations, women were not happy with the cost, colour, neckline and fabric of the bras either. So both the cosmetic and functional design features were challenged.
Given there has been so many advances in the design and development of Sports Bras in recent years these survey results have left me a little disappointed. I’m sad to see so many women seem to have completely given up on the Sports Bra market due to bad experiences with the product.
I think that an improvement in the education of the functional benefits of Sports Bras, along with additional service in selecting the right Sports Bra for each individual will be the only way to re-gain the trust of the active woman.
I’m left a little scared that the ‘one size fits all’ marketing campaigns behind some of our industry’s powerful brands could lead more women to experience more problems with Sports Bras. And it’s not just that we have to worry about. People purchasing online blindly, with no personalized fitting or advice are bound to have a bad experience.
So while there are improvements being made to the product at a rapid rate, and with a greater service and education around the fitting and prescription of Sports Bras there is great hope that in years to come the trivial issues documented in the survey could be irradiated and women could experience the host of benefits that come along with a properly fitted, appropriately selected Sports Bra.
Fingers crossed.

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How long have you been on diet? The Female Athlete Triad.

The Female Athlete Triad was first identified as a major issue in some disciplines of sport during the 80’s. It is commonly seen in women striving for body image ‘perfection’ and women aiming to compete at a high level in sports that require leanness.

It is a combination of disordered eating, amenorrhoea and osteoporosis that can cause lifelong symptoms which may eventually become fatal. The medical complications that arise from the triad are vast and include cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, reproductive, skeletal, renal and central nervous system ailments.

The reason I have elected to delve in to this is because this syndrome actually affects many of us to varied degrees. So if you don’t think you suffer from any of the triad components maybe you need think again.

1. Disordered eating – This simply translates to an energy deficient diet. Most of us have been guilty of this when trying to lose weight or going ‘carb free’ for an extended period. There’s no problem with energy in being less than energy out, but when this is executed in extremes and for a prolonged period of time there are serious long term effects. While there may be a big difference between an eating disorder and disordered eating in our minds, they are not differentiated in the Triad as their long term effects are so similar.

2. Amenorrhoea – By definition this means cessation of menstruation. However this can present as a total loss, reduced frequency, decreased duration or irregular period.

3. Osteoporosis – A compromised bone strength aka low bone density. The precursor to this condition, Osteopenia is thought to affect a much higher portion of the population than those that are formerly diagnosed with one study of “normal healthy females” finding 56% of women showed signs of low bone mineral density.

Like with most medical syndromes there is a sliding scale of severity, with many suffering the milder symptoms but are at great risk of rapidly sliding down the scale. As the components are so related if you start suffering with one of the components of the triad it can very quickly trigger the others.

Some common early signs and symptoms are stress fractures, a slow healing rate, depression, fatigue, infertility, hair loss, dry skin, cold extremities and cessation of menstruation.

So now might be a good time to have your bone density checked, start tracking your menstruation more carefully and take a good look at any restrictions you’ve been placing on your diet. I hope this serves as a good reminder that there are long term consequences to the seemingly small day-to-day diet and training errors we make.

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Neural Impingement caused by Sports Bra straps

When fitting any bra one of the more important things to get right is strap tension, that is how firmly the strap sits over the shoulder. This is particularly important with a Sports Bra fitting, and even more so for those blessed with a bigger chest.

As mentioned in my post ‘The Truth about underwire’, the straps are only a secondary means of support. 82% of support comes from the bra band that runs around the rib cage. Hence there is no functional advantage to having your bra straps sitting too tightly.

Shoulder indentations and subsequent neural impingement is a problem that bigger busted women commonly run in to caused by unrelenting tightly fitted straps. In most cases this long term ‘shoulder abuse’ is committed in an attempt to make up for the lack of support supplied by the bra band. Naturally, the worst perpetrator being the spaghetti strap bra. Old, worn out bras whose materials have lost the ability to give and sit snugly against the body are also common offenders.

When the trapezius muscle, which lies directly under the bra straps is compressed downwards, the nerves that run under it can become impinged. This can cause numbing, tingling, shooting and burning sensations around the shoulder and radiating down the arm to the hand. There are of course various severities of this pathology, and symptoms will range from persisting only when in ill fitted lingerie to constant discomfort even with the removal of the stressor (bra straps).

Functional Sports Bras are almost always made with wide soft straps that are designed to eliminate this problem by dispersing pressure more widely across the shoulder.

For those choosing to wear two bras, it is extremely important to avoid having the straps lie one over another. For this reason coupling a racer back together with U shaped straps (regular fit) often works best. Again, both of these options should have wide soft straps.

There are a number of practitioners who will be able to assist with nerve impingements. This includes your GP, Physiotherapist, Osteopath, Chiropractor & Remedial Massage Therapist. Treatment generally consists of a number of conservative therapies which may include bra prescription (often strapless is advised for a period), soft tissue therapy, stretch/strengthening programs, anti-inflammatories and possible steroid injections. As with any stress related musculoskeletal injury removing the pathology is one step of the process, but eliminating the causative stressor is just as important and not to be overlooked during treatment.

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Is it ok to wear a Sports Bra everyday? Read on…

Most women I’ve met and fitted enjoy the security of being in a Sports Bra, so it’s no surprise that I am often asked if it’s ok to wear a Sports Bra all day.

I suppose it depends on the bra….

Breast tissue is often referred to as delicate tissue. The female breast has no superficial musculature. It really is just made up of fatty tissue, fibrous connection tissue and glandular tissue (the milk ducts & lobules), along with of course, skin. All being soft and malleable.

Sports Bras nearly always use compression to control breast motion. It’s not been confirmed from a scientific point of view, but the general consensus is that 8, 10, 15 hours of compression on breast tissue is not just unnecessary, but may break down the delicate tissue fibres and lead to both bruising and pain.

Noting aswell that we already know that upward of 75% of women are not in the right size bra (most of these being in bras that are too small!). So an incorrectly fitted bra, with underwire already sitting against breast tissue instead of the rib cage, coupled with 10 hours of compressive force, repeated day-in-day-out would be a cause for worry.

On the flip side, I have one or two Sports Bras that I have road tested and deemed not controlling enough for high impact activity. I use these for every day living. They very much so mimic the design of an everyday Sports Bra, but with a technical / exercise appropriate material.

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Best Sports Bras for large breasted women

As you’ll know by now there is no ‘best bra’ for any category or size range, given that each of our individual set of needs are very different. But I have put together a list of, in my opinion, the best Sports Bras for the larger breasted woman. In no particular order, the below would be on my ‘recommend you try’ list!

PANACHE SPORTS BRA, DD-H, $80AUD This is certainly an industry winner! This bra offers a firm support using the encapsulation method which will ensure breasts sit separately and results in a great shape! Like most in it’s class it has wide straps to disperse pressure, and it also features a hook to convert to leotard strap. I find most women ‘feel’ much more supported with this strap adjustment. It features an underwire which means if you have a ‘wide set breast’ (eg. your breast starts beneath your underarm) then this may be a less comfortable option for you. Another plus, it comes in three colour options!

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SHOCK ABSORBER ACTIVE MULTI SPORTS BRA, D – HH, $110AUD A quality crop top compression style bra for the larger bust is difficult to find. None the less, industry leaders Shock Absorber have managed to pull this off! The back features 2 clip points that form a racer back style. The straps are also adjustable which again is rare with racer back style Sports Bras. Given there is no underwire in this bra it is supremely comfortable, but I will say the shape from both front on, and the side view is slightly compromised because of this. I still rate this as a great motion control bra, and continue to receive positive feedback on it from my larger breasted product testers.

image sourced from

ENELL SPORTS BRA, $100 A seriously unique Sports Bra specifically designed for the larger busted woman. This bra does up at the front, making it a winner for those with poor shoulder range of motion. This wire free Sports Bra utilises the compression method to deliver its support, so it has to be very firm to be effective. A by-product of the ‘firmness’ required will unfortunately result in a ‘uniboob’. I find this option most effective for women with a wide set breast, a larger back size, as an ‘over the top of another Sports Bra’ option and most certainly for those plagued with a shoulder injury or recovering from shoulder surgery.

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FREYA ACTIVE SAMBA SOFT CUP SPORTS BRA, D – H, $75 At its price point I think this bra is hard to beat! This is unlike any other bra you will have used in the past. It has a high profile around the neck offering complete coverage. It uses the encapsulation method of support, so totally separate the breasts. The shape of the actual cup is questionable in that is does cause the ‘Madonna cone bra’ look to a certain extent. If you have ‘uniboob phobia’ then this is the option for you! The U-style straps (traditional) can be adjusted to racer back via a hook to improve shoulder range of motion. Freya also offer a very similar bra, but with underwire. This is another good option, but given it has underwire cups it is harder to fit and will work for less of the population.

image sourced from

Something else to think about, is the idea of wearing a crop top style bra over your supportive Sports Bra option to further improve control. It’s important to know if you are going to do this then the strap configuration must be different on each of the bras to prevent painful compression over your shoulders and back. Personally, I used to be ‘against’ the idea of wearing 2 bras. But having done much more product testing and after collecting feedback from more larger busted women I am now of the opinion that if it does in fact improve someone’s comfort then… why not?!

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