Health and wellbeing tips

Keep yourself healthy physically and mentally during this change in your day-to-day life, training and routines. You can use the quick links below to jump to different topics on this page


Enhanced Recovery drink

England Athletics’ in conjunction with its new partner Enhanced RecoveryTM are looking to identify runners and athletes to participant in a performance trial for its new, totally innovative recovery drink.

Enhanced RecoveryTM is the result of a scientific breakthrough that has enabled them to combine the well-known and scientifically proven benefits of the highest quality stabilised / non-oxidised Omega 3 fatty acids with food grade proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates and antioxidants in a very palatable and enjoyable fruit juice drink. Each ingredient in Enhanced RecoveryRecoveryTM has been included to work separately and synergistically to immediately stimulate and support the process of muscle recovery and repair while providing a perfect platform for improved athletic performance and general wellbeing.

Enhanced Recovery TM is certified by Informed Sports to be free of all banned substances. It also conforms to the IOC nutrition guidelines.

A number of well-known British and English athletes are already using Enhanced Recovery and comments from some of them can be found in the attached Information Sheet which also provides a summary of much of the essential information about Enhanced Recovery TM its ingredients and numerous benefits.

To participate in the performance trial the process is quite straight forward – each participant is asked to:

  1. Provide some basic information about themselves and to give their contact details so Enhanced Recovery can forward a 24-drink trial pack to them. Click here to sign up.
  2. Simultaneously provide a screen shot taken from their App / device of choice which reflects their fitness / performance data as at that date (base data).

Note – the base data can be provided from a number of sources including:

  • Strava/athlete/fitness 3 months option (only available with Strava Subscription). Please do not send a link to your Strava account as this does not provide access to the relevant page.
  • Garmin – current VO2MAX data
  • Training Peaks – the home page Fitness reading.
  • A fitness reading from another app.

If you are not using any app or device you can still take part in the trial and survey however you will need to provide some measure of your base data which can be repeated at the completion of the trial. This can be a simple measure of time / performance over a specific distance / event in a very basic case. This should be emailed to md@ersportsdrink.com.

Participants must be able to capture the same data / report at the completion of the trial so that a comparison to the base data can be obtained. This data will be anonymised and will be used to assess any changes in the participant’s performance / fitness levels. Once this information is received Enhanced RecoveryTM will ship a 24 drink sample pack to the address provided. The drinks should be consumed immediately after each ‘hard’ training, workout or exercise session until all 24 drinks have been used. They can be drunk at room temperature or chilled and you can continue with the same supplements and diet during the trial period.

  1. On or about day 7 – participants will be asked to complete another brief online survey which offers the opportunity to provide some initial ‘first impression’ feedback on what you think about the drink at that point.
  2. On or about day 30 (when it would be expected that the last of the 24 drinks would normally have been consumed) – each participant will be asked to provide a second screen shot of the same Strava / Garmin or similar report that they used for the base data.
  3. Complete a final online survey – using another link that will be provided.

At the conclusion of the trial the participants will – by way of a thank you – have the opportunity to purchase Enhanced RecoveryTM at a 20% discount to the price on the website. It is recommended that each participant visits the website www.ersportsdrink.com for further information about  Enhanced RecoveryTM.


Run, recover, fly!

Recovery is just as important as the miles you put in. Indeed, in recent years it has been a key area for top athletes looking for that little bit more. The basics are simple: focus on three things after a run: muscle glycogen replenishment, muscle repair and hydration. Running depletes muscle glycogen so look to replenish this with a protein as that is rich in amino acids, which will help to repair muscles. Drinks like Enhanced Recovery – ersportsdrink.com – contain 1600mg of omega-3 fatty acids and 20g of protein which support a runner’s body as its muscles recover from workout and competition.

It also keeps you hydrated. Keeping hydrated during exercise and after is also just as important. “Even a two to three-degree increase in body temperature, from a resting value of around 38°C, can cause physical and psychological problems when exercising,” says professor John Brewer. “The body’s main defence mechanism is sweating, since the evaporation of sweat causes body heat to be lost. An individual’s sweat rate will depend on the intensity of the exercise they are doing, and the climate, with hot and humid conditions making heat loss much harder.” Scientists have shown that physical and mental performance suffers when more than 2% of body weight has been lost by sweating – for an individual weighing 75kg, this is equivalent to 1.5 litres of sweat. Scientists have also shown that when exercise intensity is high, and in hot and humid conditions, sweating can exceed three litres per hour, so unless a sensible hydration strategy is followed, the effects of dehydration could be felt within half an hour. In less extreme conditions sweating between one and two litres an hour is more common, so in around an hour the impact of dehydration will become apparent.


Set yourself a goal

As runners we’re all motivated by challenges be that a race or a distance to run. Sports Tours International recognise that and have some fabulous holiday/running adventures for you to put in your diary. Train at the world’s number 1 sports and active holiday resort Club La Santa in Lanzarote. With volcano runs, nutrition workshops, and yoga and pilates sessions for recovery and conditioning; this bespoke marathon training camp could be the perfect boost to your training and performance this year.

For more about Sports Tours and what they offer for runners looking for everything from an overseas adventure to an event closer to home take a look at their blog.


How to stay cool this summer

A hot Easter followed by the sunniest May on record suggests summer 2020 is going to be memorable for more than one reason – it’s going to be a hot one (maybe!). With that in mind, we’ve had a chat with England Athletics’ team of experts to make sure you stay cool this summer while you burn up the road!

A surprising first step

First of all, let’s get you up to speed with the science.  Dr Andrew Drake, British Athletics Talent Hub Manager says “running economy directly proportional to heat loss. Evaporative heat loss from sweat is no. 1 mechanism. Relatively larger body surface area to body mass ratio is desirable, i.e. be lean, and small. Training in heat (acclimatisation) will over time, result in more, and more dilute sweat to aid evaporative cooling + impact on perceived exertion and feelings of thermal strain/comfort. He has three simple things you can do

  • Take a hot bath to acclimatise. A 45 minutes, 40-degree bath is highly effective.
  • High sodium drinks maintain plasma volume.  Competition drinks modified to be hypertonic solutions.
  • Pour lots of cold water over yourself too!

Down to earth

Tom Craggs, Regional Coaching Lead has these wise words

  1. Have a dose of realism – You might leave your front door for a session with out an outcome in mind. A finishing time, a goal pace. The reality is you need to respond to the environment and conditions as they are, not as you wish them to be. You might need to ease your pace back and put your ego in a box. You’ll be working harder and burning more energy to run the same pace in hotter conditions. Adjusting your effort will be key to still finishing strong at the finish.
  2. Embrace it – It takes 7-10 day for your body to gradually acclimatise to heat, and there are some real benefits to training in warmer weather that can mimic some of the effects
  3. Out of sight, out of mind – Whilst wearing a hat or sunglasses won’t keep you cool the psychological effects of keeping the direct sunlight out of your eyes can be great.

Dress for success

“Summer is a great time to run but some runners may come up against the issue of chafing for the first time,” says Runderwear co-founder Richard Edmonds. “Chafing is more likely to happen in the heat as you sweat more. All Runderwear clothing is made with technical moisture-wicking, breathable fabric. Even if you sweat excessively in the heat, Runderwear will wick moisture away from your skin to prevent chafing. The Men’s Long Boxer and Women’s Long Shorts are particularly popular in the summer as they cover the skin from hip to almost the knee, so are a great option to prevent chafing all the way down the thigh.”

Expect a warm glow

When you’re running your body burns glycogen which raises your body temperature.  It is natural to sweat at this point as it is the body’s way of trying to regulate temperature and stop overheating.

Have a plan

Last year the World Champs took place in the cauldron that is Doha. “The main thing to prepare for the heat in Doha was organisation,” says Olympic medallist Emily Diamond. “I took a lot of SIS Hydration tablets with me to make sure I stay hydrated both during sessions and in between sessions. I also took with me a water spray bottle (the sort of one Mrs Hinch uses for cleaning) so that I could cool myself down during sessions. Ice cold towels were crucial for training in the extreme heat.”

It’s not all doom and gloom

Research suggests that done right, training in hot weather will improve your VO2 max. Successful adaption to heat allows more effective delivery of oxygen-rich blood to your muscles with less effort. Which may sound surprising, but think about it; all the major champs all take place in the summer in warmer conditions. The key is clearly about getting heat management right and you too can reap the benefits…

Don’t forget your dog gets hot too

Andi and National endurance lead Spencer Duval both recommend ice vests for elite athletes in extreme conditions to cool down before events, but Spencer also reminds us the same kit is avaliable for faithful friends. Click here to find out more.


Posture: basics at work

The best way to understand good posture while working is to stand against the wall so your heels are against it, while your bottom and the back of your head touch the wall. This is not the way we work as most of us are sitting down all day. However, at the very least, we should be conscious that our heads are not poking forward and our back is well supported against the chair. Standing desks are a step in the right direction but even taking a stretch and walking after every 50 minutes of working at a desk are an improvement.

At work, periodically reset your posture by standing against the wall with heels, bottom and back of the head touching the wall. This is the best posture to work in but of course if the job involves sitting for long periods of time, one needs a break to walk and stretch every 50 minutes or so. Work stations should be as ergonomic as possible.

Posture: how to make to make the most of your sleep

We spoke to Rajiv Bajekal, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Total Orthopaedics (totalorthopaedics.london) to discover how we can all recover more efficiently and run faster. “It’s all down to our sleep posture,” says Rajiv. “We spend a third of our life sleeping and it is important to get good restorative sleep for the body to repair itself. If the back hurts for longer than 5 minutes on waking up, one needs to think about the way they are sleeping. It is important to get a suitable mattress and pillow and these are a good investment. A mattress should not be too hard or too soft and a single supportive pillow is probably best. When lying down on the back, one should be able to pass the palm of the hand under the lumbar spine although not too easily. One should not feel any pressure on the bony prominences. If lying on the side, it is best if the hip areas do not feel the bottom of the bed (mattress is too soft) and there should not be any pressure on the shoulders or the hips (mattress is too firm).

“A pillow should allow the chin to be in the neutral position when one lies on the back and if lying on their side, it should bring the top of the shoulder in line with the head. A memory foam mattress and pillow generally work well for most people. During sleep, there is inevitably a change in posture but it is important to get a good comfortable starting position.”

It is important to be comfortable while going to sleep and people lie down in their preferred position on their back, stomach or side. It is important to get a comfortable mattress and pillow as outlined above in the sleep posture basics.

The spine is a structure that allows our centre of gravity to fall between our feet in the upright position and this is by virtue of curves that balance each other i.e. a forward bend in the thoracic spine and sacrum and a reverse bend in the neck and the lower back. Because a lot of our activities involve putting the spine into a C shape i.e. forward bending, it is easy for structural changes to occur causing a tightness of muscles and ligaments and this attention to posture is important to prevent structural changes and long term disability. Stretches every day and simple back exercises are useful to maintain flexibility.

Running behaviours and mental health during lockdown

Asics has just conducted a study investigating running behaviours and mental health during lockdown including 14,000 people globally; it reveals more people are running to cope and feel free. You’re doing the right thing, so great job!

  • 43% of regular exercisers in the UK are exercising more now than they were before lockdown
  • 82% of UK runners say running is helping to clear their mind
  • 78% of UK runners say running is helping them feel more sane and in control

Click on the infographic to download a larger version.
Mental health and running infographic


What works for you best

With such a huge selection of Wellbeing apps on the market, here’s where to look for what works for you the best. Click to find out more on our Athletics Hub.


How to break up long periods of sitting

Physio Adam Rattenberry and Athlete Sam Gordon talk you through some useful mobility exercises.
Watch below or click to view video on YouTube.


Hydration tips

  • Take into account the weather conditions before and during your planned run: If you’re likely to go through very hot weather before a long run, adapt your strategy to hydrating and replenishing with electrolytes before you head out, so you’re not starting out dehydrated
  • Be aware of your sweat rate and sodium loss and plan to take in electrolytes as well as water during a long session;
  • Account for exercise effort levels: you’ll sweat more during high-intensity shorter sessions, but you may not need to rehydrate for those. If you start hydrated, anywhere under 90 minutes will not require you to re-hydrate during the session. However, beyond that, make sure you recover your fluid intake per hour in accordance with your prepared hydration plan;
  • Stay flexible and attuned to your body’s signals: Feelings such as bloated, full, liquid sloshing in your stomach, needing to pee and struggling to force drinks down – mean you’re drinking too much; A dry mouth, feeling thirsty or light-headed, lethargic, and seeing a high heart rate reading compared to your pace – are all signs of drinking too little.

The ice age is over

Used to be, if you picked up a niggle, your running mates would tell you to chuck a bag of frozen peas on the injury and you’d be better in no time. Well, thinking has moved on a bit since then and today advice says using both heat and ice is a great way of speeding up your recovery. Think of it as flushing and you’ll understand the concept. The current thinking is that rehabilitation isn’t quite as simple as RICE, Rest, Ice Compression, Elevation. The importance of an active recovery is being increasingly realised. Ice is very useful for that short-term effect, Apply it for around only five minutes at a time as a means of counteracting pain. Instead, give PEACE a chance.

  • Protect: Unload or restrict movement of the affected area for the first three days after the injury, with the time depending on how much pain there is. You don’t want to keep doing the same thing as you’ll make it worse
  • Elevate: This is a well-known treatment. The idea is to elevate the affected area, so it is higher than the heart to allow fluid to drain away from the area. But don’t just sit there, think also about compression
  • Avoid: Inflammation – despite its negative connotations in the world of sports injuries, inflammation actually helps repair damaged tissues. So, don’t avoid it
  • Compress: Compression is more important than elevation. A compression stocking or sock will do the same as elevation. They’re handy to wear below your jeans as recovery from races or from injury
  • Educate: Ignore old wives’ tales that get shared around. Better education on the condition and load management will help avoid overtreatment,” which includes unnecessary injections and surgery.

6 Key tips

England Athletics’ coaching team have been thinking long and hard about the extraordinary times we find ourselves in and here they list the 6 key things they’ve learned in the past month:
1. Try to establish a robust routine.
2. Exercise, where possible.
3. Use the time that you would normally spend commuting, to focus on something for yourself.
4. Learn something new.
5. Communicate with someone that you haven’t spoken to in a while.
6. Stay up to date, but try to avoid getting lost in mainstream media.


Exercise

Exercise can help boost metabolism by burning calories. It gets the heart rate up, increases oxygen in the blood and releases endorphins, which all help increase energy. Exercise also boosts the production of serotonin, known as ‘the happy hormone’. However, make sure you don’t overdo it as you could reduce your immune system training too hard.  Extend your runs or introduce pace progression but keep it reasonable.  And remember,  recovery and eating enough are just as important. If you are sitting down all day then going outside for a walk can give you a vital dose of Vitamin D, from any sunshine/daylight, which will help your mood and boost your immunity.


Eating

It’s important to eat correctly more than ever before and having a routine can help encourage a more structured way of eating, therefore allowing time to prepare meals and snacks to help sustain energy. Remember, preparation is often key when eating healthily – have a list when you go shopping, invest in some reusable food containers and try your hand at meal prepping. This will ensure you get the right nutrients every day.

We all think about what we should eat to train harder, but don’t forget your recovery is as important.

  • Rehydrate: replace each ½ kg weight loss with 450 – 675 ml fluid
  • Refuel: You’ll need to replenish glycogen stores, ideally 1g carb/ kg body weight. Refuelling is faster than normal during the first 2 hours so make use of this if you train twice a day. However, if you train once a day then simply ensure you consume enough carbs over 24 hours.
  • Rebuild: To promote muscle repair, include protein in your recovery meal (15 – 25g is the ideal amount). Examples of refuelling drinks and snacks that supply 20g include 500 ml milk (dairy or soya), 200g strained Greek yogurt or a hummus and avocado sandwich

Sleeping

Sleep is really important when it comes to recovery. To make sure you sleep easy in this stressful time, use your breathing to put you to sleep. Put one hand on your chest and one on your belly. Follow your breath without trying to control it while silently repeating the words “in” and “out”. Gently prolong the exhalation and allow the inhalation to take care of itself. This will help to deepen and slow down your breath, which activates the vagus nerve which controls the relaxation response.
Watch below or click to view video on YouTube.


Music works

Motivating music tends to increase the intensity arousal, helping you as a runner to feel more excited and energetic. Remember, use music to your benefit. If you want to be feel calm, soothing music works, when you want to rev the engine, pump up the volume!

Listening to music while running is a tried and tested formula that, for a number of reasons, can boost your performance every time you go out. Rhythmic, energetic music will improve your coordination and help you to keep pace, also motivating you and boosting your energy – particularly when coupled with empowering and motivating lyrics. Above all, listening to music you enjoy while you run will improve your mood, increase your enjoyment levels and provide a distraction from the task at hand, increasing endurance and reducing the perception of fatigue.

The key, when you’re running is to do it safely, which is where AfterShokz and bone conduction technology come into play. Basically, you can listen to music and hear traffic at the same time. It works like this: When you eat cookies, the cracking sound you hear is creating by vibration traveling through your facial bones to your inner ears. Taking advantage of this natural phenomenon, bone conduction transducers guide micro-vibrations through your cheekbones to your inner ears, delivering sound without plugging or covering the ears themselves.
Watch below or click to view video on YouTube.

Click here to find out more about AfterShokz products.


Sunlight / vitamin D

As runners we naturally seem to understand the importance of being outside, but an interesting problem could  occur this summer if we’re not careful – reduced sunlight as we stay at home more. With that in mind, Public Health England (PHE) has reissued its recommendation for vitamin D supplementation, advising that we should all consider taking a 10 microgram vitamin D supplement throughout spring and summer while the lockdown continues, because we may not be getting enough vitamin D from sun exposure. PHE’s advice on vitamin D is not about preventing coronavirus but for maintaining muscle and bone health.

Sara Stanner, Science Director, BNF (British National Formulary) explains: “In normal circumstances, at this time of year the warmer weather means we may get outdoors more often for walks, picnics in the park or trips to the beach. Unfortunately, as the effects of coronavirus continue, many of us are limited in the time we can spend outdoors. Correctly abiding by government rules and staying at home is immensely important and, while many of us have limited access to sunlight, this means we need to take a little extra care to keep our vitamin D levels healthy. If you’re purchasing supplements, it’s important not to buy more than you need to help keep supplies of supplements available for everyone.”

  • Vitamin D is essential for keeping bones and muscles healthy. While the role of vitamin D in bone health is well recognised, it is also involved in supporting the immune system.
  • Vitamin D is found naturally in oily fish, including salmon, mackerel and sardines, as well as eggs, some mushrooms, and in foods fortified with vitamin D such as breakfast cereals, fat spreads and yogurts. Red meat can also contribute to vitamin D intakes.

The key is to recognise the importance of a balanced diet. This is invariably the best route – but always, always when you’re a runner, have an understanding on what could be on the prohibited drugs list, especially when it comes to supplements.


Hayfever

Hayfever can be a real pain for runners this time of year especially as some medication can be on banned lists. Fear not, here’s some great tips to keep you moving!

  • Tie your hair up before going on your run and wear a hat, cap or other head cover to prevent pollen particles being caught in your hair. And wear wraparound sunglasses to prevent the pollen coming in contact with your eyes.
  • After washing your hands as soon as you get back home, wash your face on high pollen count days. This will wash away allergens so that they can’t cause a reaction, and a cool compress will soothe sore eyes. Changing your clothes and taking a shower will wash away allergens so that they can’t cause a reaction.
  • Ensure the house is vacuumed regularly, especially beds and fabrics to remove pollen, and damp dust surfaces – this removes the pollen without dispersing it into the air. Keep windows and doors closed and use an air conditioner to capture the pollen particles. Keep cuddly toys and blankets in a cupboard to prevent the build-up of allergens on them.
  • Dry your clothes indoors rather than on an outdoors clothesline to prevent pollen particles being blown onto the clothes by the wind.
  • Take a bath or shower at night before sleeping to remove pollen particles from your hair and body. This will also help relax you and help get a good night’s sleep. An NPARU study showed that people who slept at least 7 hours a night suffered significantly milder symptoms than those who slept no more than 5 hours each night. Apply an allergen barrier balm before sleeping to keep out the pollen during the night. Wash bedding very regularly to remove allergens.
  • A healthy diet can also help with hay fever. Eating healthily helps to keep our respiratory system strong. Some foods such as ginger or fresh basil, ease blocked nasal passages, helping us to breathe more easily, whilst others such as spinach and almonds contain nutrients that can help boost our immune systems and help our bodies fight sinus and respiratory infections, which are linked to allergies and hay fever.

Wellbeing Apps – Michelle Maxwell

Michelle discusses Apps that she and her athletes use to monitor various parameters that affect an athlete’s wellbeing and stress.
Watch below or click to view video on YouTube.