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You don't have to Run

How many of us have seen our Strava friend's list increase two-fold since the start of lockdown? Of course this is amazing, more people are choosing to get outside and use the great outdoors for exercise instead of only relying on the gym. 

However, how many of you have felt forced by peer pressure/pressure online to get out and take part in long runs? Whether that be a 5k, 10k or even longer, there is an ongoing hype surrounding endurance running that although has many positive effects, has also lead to some feelings of guilt and shame for people who just don't like running. 


Okay, so i'm a little worried that a LOT of people are not going to like this so I just want to start by saying that all forms of running are excellent. I have absolutely nothing against endurance running of any form, in-fact, I envy people that feel 'euphoria' when they've been running for a certain amount of time. But, I hate long distance running. I class anything from 5k up as long distance running. I get bored, I have never had that feeling of 'euphoria' and quite frankly there are many other forms of cardiovascular exercise I'd rather be doing then monotonously running down a canal. 

I'm happy to say that i'm not the only one either. I know plenty of people that don't like running, and like me, give it a go every once in a while in the hope that things might have changed, but they haven't. Now, obviously this is just my personal opinion. However, sometimes have you noticed the social pressure online that endurance running is something that everyone SHOULD be doing? Whether you want to lose weight, improve your cardiovascular health or just generally improve your fitness. So many of us has thrown ourselves in the deep end, running more than ever until it exhausts us, we become over fatigued and often injured. 

Well, let me tell you for all of the people out there that don't enjoy endurance running, it's not the end of the world. Despite the pressure to take up longer distance running there are plenty of other options to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Of course, running 5/10k is a great way to improve your health in many ways, but it's not the only way...

Other types of running 

I don't hate all types of running, I just don't like running far. In-fact I really enjoy sprinting and track sessions, which leads me onto my first point. You don't just have to run far, there are other options too: 

Interval Training: This consists of a short period of time running at a fast pace/sprinting, followed by a period at a much slower pace. This is a great way to fit in an intense session in a short amount of time and trust me, if you go hard enough, you'll feel just as tired as doing a long run. 

Sprints: Many of us often bypass sprinting as we believe it's something only done by athletic champions, but why? Anyone can do it. You don't have to be an amazing sprinter to give it a go and you will only improve with practise. There are several athletics teams across the UK that allow people from all ages to take part in their training. Sprint sessions can be extremely gruelling, especially in the winter. 

Hill Sprints: I will have to admit, this is one of my least favourite forms of running. It burns. But, it's another great way to build muscle in your lower body and improve your cardiovascular health without having to run very far. 

Other types of cardio 

There will be some of you out there that hate all forms of running, which I completely understand. Or, you have sustained an injury that means that running isn't accessible for you. So, here are some other forms of cardio that you can consider in your training as a means to get fitter, improve your heart health and reduce the chances of many diseases...

Walking/Hiking: Honestly walking is so underrated and the majority of us can do it. Get out there and get your 10,000 steps a day. Not only is walking a simple form of cardiovascular exercise, it is also a nice way to bring calm to the mind. As you're not going through an intense workout, you have the time to pause and be lost in your own thoughts. 

Cycling: A favourite of mine, cycling is an excellent way to get your legs working and your heart rate up. Of course you can go for a lovely casual bike ride, but why not take it a step further, plan a longer route or try pedalling a little faster next time. 

Team sports: As adults, we often think of team sports being something you do as a child, but there are so many adult sports teams out therefor you to try. Whether you love football, or you want to get involved in roller derby, I can guarantee there are other people out there that enjoy it as much as you do. And, if there isn't a team in your local area yet, why not make one? 

Hopefully I haven't offended too many people with this post. I just wanted to broaden your horizon when it comes to thinking about running. Please ignore any social pressure to run far, just run to where feels comfortable for you, or don't run at all if you don't want to. There are plenty of other options available that mean you don't need to add marathon running to your list. 

Cya! 
Eryn

Spread Your Wings - Review of 'Range' David Epstein

Since lockdown, I have been reading A LOT, and i'm already a pretty big reader, so it's like i'm on reading steroids at the moment. It can be difficult to find a good business/productivity book that isn't just splurging out the same old motivational speeches telling you to grind down and never stop. But, I have come across an absolute belter and I thought it was necessary to share with you...


Range by David Epstein gives several different examples of how and why 'generalist triumph in a specialized world'. Since being small little humans, how many of us have been told that we need to start something at an early age in-order to be good at it. Those forced ballet classes, or piano lessons so that with some hope, you might become the next Mozart. It is generally suggested in our modern age that it is better to be really good at something, and to succeed in that area you have to be persistent for a long time. However, Epstein completely turns this theory on its head and for the first time the phrase 'Jack of all trades' doesn't have a negative connotation. 

Now i'm not just going to regurgitate the whole book for you in a blog post, instead i'd love you to give the book a try and see how it changes your perspective on your own life. Instead I want to discuss what i've taken from the book how it has affected my view on fitness and wellbeing. 

First of all, I must point out that I am the ultimate Jack of all trades, my interests change by the hour and it isn't surprising if i've changed my career path from one week to the next. I've often been told that this is a bad thing, that I need to focus on one thing and be really good at it, but that's never really sunk it. I'd take the argument that i've obviously not found the thing that I love doing yet. Finally i'm starting to come to the conclusion that maybe it isn't such a bad thing that I have multiple interests. 

As a self-employed worker in the fitness industry, it has come in handy that I have a degree in English, because I have had the opportunity to work on several fitness articles for different companies. I also have a creative side to a degree, which has helped me not only with writing my blog, but also opened me up to a world of different ways to market my business, from creating infographics to creating video content. These are all things that may not have been possible, had I not worked in other industries and opened up my interests away from sport. 

And this leads me onto my next point...fitness. Like work, I have a habit of dabbling in different sports and areas of fitness. I like running, sprinting, cycling, yoga and weight lifting. Is it possible that I could become really good at one of those sports and possibly compete? It is, but that doesn't mean I have to. Having a good base knowledge all a variety of sports has allowed me to work with different clients as a PT, and has kept my levels of fitness relatively high. It means I can go on a long cycle with friends and not get tired, but I can also take part in a yoga class and not snap in two. 

But how is any of this useful? I just want you to take a moment to think about times when you've been told to focus on one thing, be that fitness, work or anything else. Is that what you really want to do? And in-fact, how to being more general actually benefit you more? Because it sure as hell has helped me out so far! 

Cya! 
Eryn

Pelvic Floor: What is it? What do I need to know?

When it comes to fitness and building muscle, most of us are concerned with the superficial muscles that we can see, such as the glutes, biceps and quads. This isn't an issue as it's important to keep all of the muscles strong and working, however, how often do you think of the internal muscles? And even more so, how many of you knew that there were muscles around your bladder, womb and and bowel? 

It's okay if you didn't know this, it's also okay if you have heard about the pelvic floor muscles but you don't know much about them. It's something that most of us don't consider, however, if you're female or male, knowing a little bit about this region can be incredibly important. It may be a little embarrassing to talk about these muscles, but why? 



What is the pelvic floor? 

First things first, it's important to note that both men and women have pelvic floor muscles. For men, these are muscles that support the bladder and bowel, and in women, they support the bladder, bowel and uterus. 

The pelvic floor muscles look like a trampoline and stretch from the pubic bone to the coccyx, supporting the organs that lay above it. When the pelvic floor muscles contract, the organs around it lift and the muscle tightens. This stops you from peeing and releasing faeces. So as you can imagine, they are pretty useful muscles... 

Having a weak pelvic floor 

There are several factors that can cause weak pelvic floor muscles, one of them being pregnancy and childbirth. Other things that can cause a weak pelvic floor are: 
  • Heavy lifting. 
  • Age 
  • Straining on the toilet 
  • Obesity 
  • Chronic coughing 
As I mentioned earlier, pelvic floor muscles keep your organs supported, therefore, having weak pelvic floor muscles can lead to incontinence and also the inability to control flatulence and faeces (trumping and pooping). Along with this, pelvic floor muscles are important for sexual function in both men and women, and also support the baby during pregnancy. 

But it doesn't stop there, if you didn't already think they do enough, the pelvic floor muscles also work with the back muscles and abdominals to support the spine. Pretty damn amazing right? 

What can I do to strengthen my pelvic floor muscles? 

But how can you strengthen internal muscles? You won't be strapping weights to the area and doing curls (urgh that thought just made me squeeze my own muscles). 

The first thing I would recommend is going to a Pilates class, and speaking to the teacher regarding pelvic floor exercises. This is a big part of Pilates and many teachers will have a good background of knowledge in this sector. Or, if you're having serious problems, consult a doctor. 

One of the main techniques used to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles is a squeezing method: 
  • Begin by relaxing the stomach and thigh muscles and sit either on a seat, or in a tabletop position
  • Then squeeze the back passage and try to imagine you're stopping yourself from passing wind 
  • Squeeze the muscles in the vagina and up to the pelvis 
  • Finally squeeze the muscles in the front massage as if you are trying to stop yourself from peeing
When doing this, try holding for only a few seconds to begin with, gradually increasing the time as you get better. When performing the exercise, you are working the internal muscles, so try to relax the glutes and thighs as you do so, and there should be no squeezing past the belly button. 

Want to know more? 
Get in touch! 
Cya!
Eryn

Yoga for Cyclists

Cyclists, like most people that participate in sport usually have tight muscles. This is inevitible because you are constantly using the same muscle groups, and if you don't stretch, the muscles will continue to shorten and get tighter.

When repeating an exercise, it strengthens the muscles which is great to improve your .... in the sport, however if you aren't stretching, excess muscle tightness can lead to injury, pretty easily. How many people do you know that take part in a regular sport that have had an injury? It doesn't even have to be an injury caused by the sport, you could simply pull or damage something doing an everyday activity more easily if the muscles are tight.

Cycling causes a very particular movement pattern that is unlike many other sports, regardless of whether your road or mountain cycling. Therefore this movement pattern uses specific parts of the body that become stronger and inevitably tighter. This blog post pin points some of the main areas that are prone to tightness when cycling and ways to relieve this with yoga poses.


Trapezius 




When cycling, your neck is constantly craining up to be able to see the path ahead. In-order to lift your neck up and hold it in place your trapezius are working extra hard to secure and stabilise the neck. Although strong traps is the dream of most bodybuilders, it is also a key area that can feel tight and cause discomfort. Here are some yoga poses that allow you to relieve tension in the trapezius...


Lower Spine 



Even if you don't cycle, chances are at some point in your life-time you have experienced lower back pain, it's an extremely common problem. When cycling you tend to hunch over and which creates a lot of pressure on the lower back. 


IT Band 



The ..... or IT Band is the muscle that runs down the outer side of the thigh and connects the knee to the hip joint. With the constant cyclic movement of the legs it can cause this muscle to become extremely tight. This is also a common problem with runners, however it can be stretched very easily with these exercises...



Hamstrings 


Tight hamstrings are the bane of my life, constantly praying for relief in the back of the thighs. I dread the day that i'm due a sports massage because it means tears and bruising. But maybe if I did stretches such as these a little more often then I wouldn't babble like a baby on the massage table.


Cya!
Eryn


Balancing Your Protein Intake

It isn't anything new that we need a sufficient amount of protein in our diet in-order for our body to function properly. Protein in one of 3 macronutrients that are necessary for our body to go about its daily busy hassle free. It is made of amino acids that are used to build strong bones, build and repair muscles and several other functions in the body. 


Something that isn't discussed as often though is when we should be eating protein. As with most nutritional advice, the focus is on what to eat and very little is said in regard to other aspects of diet. And that's no surprise really, it's hard enough knowing what to eat when there is so much advice out there, let alone even considering that when you eat things might make a difference too. 

But, the frank truth is that the timing of your consumption of protein might in fact have an effect, especially if you're an older adult, and here's why...

A study has taken place in the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Birmingham with 120 participants having their diet monitored through a 3 day food diary. Participants were split into ago groups, one group having an average age of 23 years old, the other 51 and finally 77. The study found that there were a variety of different patterns in the ways people ate, however people in the older group were much more likely to have a lower quality source of protein earlier in the day, such as bread. But why does this matter? 

Well, in order for the body to produce new muscle, stimulation is required, and this occurs when we eat protein. So that we can build as much muscle as possible, this stimulation needs to be regular. As these mechanisms become less efficient the older you get, it becomes even more important to have a regular, healthy intake of protein. 

So what does this mean? Well maybe you could be maximising muscle growth by eating protein on a more regular basis, rather than shoving your daily intake into two large meals. This may not only help to build muscle if muscle gain is your goal, but it also might aid keeping a healthy amount of body on the muscle if you are an older adult. 

Keep eating protein, that's the moral of the story. 

Cya!

5 Ways to bring mindfulness into your life

I'm just going to throw it out there, in the current state of affairs, we could all probably do with a little more mindfulness.

And no, I don't mean you have to shave your head and sit still for hours on end, as great as it would be to be that chill, it's not a viable option for many of us. But, that doesn't mean you can't be more mindful in your day to day life, so here are some easy tips...



1. Go for a walk 

If you're reading this post in March 2020 then chances are you're spending a lot of time at home, either self-isolating because of the C word, or just taking extra precautions. Whether you're working from home, an office, or you spend most of the day driving, it's a good idea to wake your body up and get moving. This not only helps the body, but also the mind.

Have you ever tried taking a walk on your own? And I don't mean walking around the supermarket or shops, but a full blown walk all by yourself. It's hard to be mindful if you're walking with someone, but taking the time to walk alone will allow you to be fully immersed in your thoughts. Now I know that scares a lot of people, but sometimes it's good to find out what's really going on in there.

2. Do some gardening 

This might sound a bit old fashioned but what better way to spend your afternoon than basking in the spring sun being at one with nature. Planting seeds, cutting grass and all round tidying of your garden can be a great way to take the mind away from other tasks and focus on one thing. Don't have a garden? Then why not look into an allotment, start to decorate your balcony, or even better, offer to tidy the garden of an elderly relative.

And if you aren't up for getting your fingers dirty, maybe you could just read a book in the sun? Either one works.

3. Try mindful eating 

Mindful eating might sound like a bit of an unusual one, but I promise it's a real thing. Too many of us (me included) don't even stop to think about what we're eating and instead shovel it down as fast as possible in order to move onto the next task. When was the last time you took a moment to actually take in your meal, stop to look at it, taste each item and fully enjoy it?

What I mean by mindful eating is taking the time to enjoy the food you're chewing and appreciate it. So, next time you sit down for a meal, take things a little bit slower. Don't eat your food on the go or in the car, just sit, take it easy and indulge in your meal.

4. Take a moment before you rise

Get out of bed and immediately start scrolling on your phone? We are so used to processing as much information as possible that it has become second nature to pick up our phones whenever we think we have nothing to do and take in a little more.

Unfortunately, it's not the best way to start the day, logging onto your emails, or checking the never ending bad news online. You're not setting the day up with the right intentions if you begin it with work and negativity. Even if you aren't into meditation, why not just take a few moments in the morning to just be still and process the day ahead.


5. Try journaling 


Often people are afraid of writing a journal, as it is seen as the task of a teenage girl. However, journaling is a really great way to get all of your feelings out there and reflect on your day. Writing the things you did can help to ponder on your day in a way you never have before.

Luckily, journaling has become pretty popular and so there are several ways to do it. Bullet journaling is a new way to write down your thoughts through drawings and quirky images. Plus, it means there are plenty of really cool journal notepads around.

Cya!
Eryn

Sacrifice: We've all got to do it

The internet is filled with motivational quotes telling us that we have the power to do whatever we want in this world. Quotes such as: 

"If you can dream it, you can do it" 

"Be the best version of you" 

"Be stronger than your strongest excuses" 

Are bombarded all over your Facebook and Instagram feed on a daily basis, and most of the time we just roll our eyes, make a snarky comment and scroll past it. And you're right, they are pretty cheesy, but it's nice to know that people out there have the intention of inspiring others. However, I feel as though they are sugar coating how difficult it really is when it comes to reaching your goals as they are missing one pretty important word, Sacrifice. 

(Photo taken by www.marcelphotography.com) 

Although it would be nice to live in a world where we have the perfect work/family/friend/me time balance, the likelihood of this actually happening, especially early on when you're fighting for your goals is slim. That's because usually in-order to get where we want to be, we have to sacrifice another area of our life to focus harder and channel our energy. 

It's not often that I talk about topics this deep, but the notion of sacrifice really hit a chord with me the other week when my running coach had a real deep chat about my track goals. Long story short, over the last 2 years I've been on and off triple jump training which has got me nowhere when I definitely should have been somewhere by now. Why? I hear you don't ask, well because I have been prioritising other things and sacrificing my sport for work etc, and there wasn't a problem with that, until I realised that I wanted to put athletics first. 

I was told that if I really wanted to give the triple jump my best shot I was going to have to make sacrifices in other areas of my life. It may sound obvious, but how many times have you tried to balance all areas of your life, but couldn't quite understand why you weren't hitting any of your goals?  It's a hard truth to swallow, but if you really want to get that promotion, hit a deadlift PB, or nail that piece on the piano then you will have to be committed to the cause and unfortunately make sacrifices in other areas of your life. Miss social events, work harder and possibly train harder. 

The good news? It doesn't have to be like that forever. No one's saying that being a recluse is a new way of life if you want to reach your goals. But, if you're serious about it then you will have make those short or long term sacrifices every once in a while. But I promise, the reward for hitting your goal will be worth the sacrifice. Stick that to your new post as an inspirational quote. 

Cya! 
Eryn