Male runner recording his run on his phone at the Great Birmingham Run 10kCategoriesNutrition Physiology Psychology

What you need to know before running a 10k

If you’re worried about leaving it too late to start training, or simply have concerns about committing to your first ever long-distance run in front of a crowd, this blog should dispel some of those fears, and help you to separate fact from fiction when it comes to running events.

I DON’T KNOW IF I HAVE THE MOTIVATION FOR IT

We often talk about being physically fit, but your mental fitness and wellbeing is just as important when it comes to training for a 10k or further. Before we tackle how you’re going to run the distance, it’s important to firstly decide why you’re considering doing it, so let’s break it down.

First and foremost, it’s important that you’re joining us for the Great Birmingham Run for you and only you. In other words let’s not get caught up with trying to beat the personal best of a friend, or taking up running because our colleagues run home from work. There are several reasons for taking up running and setting yourself a 10k challenge, but the most important one is that you’re doing it because you really want to – and will be your best source of motivation too.

IT’S BEEN TOO COLD AND WET TO START TRAINING

Granted the recent weather has been particularly grey and gloomy – but for some people, these are their perfect running conditions. On those wet and miserable mornings or cold dark evenings, you need to ask yourself what your main motivation is for joining #TeamUoB for the 10k and keep reminding yourself of it.

Whether you’re trying to become a healthier version of yourself, want to eventually run a marathon, or are just hoping to get back into running after a prolonged period of time, this must be at the forefront of your mind when you’re finding training tough.

Every trainer will also tell you that a treat every now and again won’t do you any harm, so if you have to reward yourself with a sweet treat after particularly cold runs – do it!

WHAT IF I GET A BAD FINISHING TIME

This is where we should say it’s the taking part that counts, but we know how important finishing times are to any runner. One thing we will say however to anyone reading this who hasn’t signed up for the Great Birmingham Run because they think they’ll be too slow, is just be honest with yourself and you can’t go wrong.

Each one of us is capable of running a 10k, whatever your age or ability. That doesn’t mean that we’ll all be running it in the same timeframe – which is perfectly fine. The best way to complete the course is to set yourself a realistic target, especially if you’re just setting out, and then you can improve on this week on week.

If you initially plan your training sessions to build up your running programme gradually, you’ll find it much easier to notice the improvements you’re making. This will also help you to not put too much strain on your body, and prevent you from any pre-race injuries. Pacing yourself doesn’t mean finishing the 10k in a longer time, it just means you won’t burn out before the finishing line. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t run the full distance either. There will be plenty of participants walking (or skipping) too.

I’VE NEVER RUN IN FRONT OF A CROWD BEFORE

Any long-distance runner will be able to recall a time they’ve completely forgotten there’s a crowd there. Huge cheering crowds can be brilliant for your motivation, as they’re genuinely there to support you around the course, and the elated atmosphere really helps too, but the most important people are those who you’re running with.

That’s why #TeamUoB is such an encouraging network of individuals. There’s no better feeling than crossing the finish line as part of a team in a sea of matching t-shirts, but having a whole community there for you before the run itself is really helpful. Particularly if you’re new to a 10k, other members can offer friendly advice from how often to train per week and how far, to what to eat on the day and which trainers will be kinder to your feet!

You may even meet some future running buddies too, or decide to join the Green Heart Runners or Cool Runnings.

I WILL BE CELEBRATING RAMADAN

It’s a busy time for those who have to fit in their regular daily tasks along with prayer time, so we hope to be able to advise in any way we can about the best ways to exercise. Although Ramadan may not be a time to push your limits or set personal records, there are definitely still ways to maintain a training regime ahead of running a 10k.

We chatted to our Personal Trainers at Sport & Fitness, to find out a bit more about sports nutrition during Ramadan, what they recommend doing, and when. You can find out what they had to say here.

We hope this has helped you to make up your mind about joining us at the Great Birmingham Run, but you can always visit our webpage for more details about #TeamUoB, including how to sign up.

ramadan and exerciseCategoriesNutrition Physiology Psychology

Keeping fit during Ramadan

Muslims who choose to fast during Ramadan will abstain from eating and drinking between sunrise and sunset each day for one month.

It’s a busy time for those who have to fit in their regular daily tasks along with prayer time, but should this schedule and the limitations on consumption mean that you can’t keep exercising during this period?

Although Ramadan may not be a time to push your limits or set personal records, there are definitely still ways to maintain your workouts and schedules. As it’s a time for worship, self-reflection and an opportunity to become a better person, Muslims across the world use this holy month of fasting and prayer to restore not only their relationship with God but their relationship with themselves. One of the main aspects of preparing for Ramadan is to figure out ways to better yourself and implement them during the holy month.

We chatted to our Personal Trainers at Sport & Fitness, to find out a bit more about sports nutrition during Ramadan, what they recommend doing, and when.

Sessions undertaken in the morning after sunrise

Not only does this get the workout done early when you might feel your most energetic, but you’ll have a good amount of fuel to go on.

Pros: You will benefit from eating and drinking from the previous evening and before dawn

Cons: There’s little opportunity to refuel, rehydrate, and recover after these sessions

  • Suhour (the last meal before the beginning of the day’s fast) should be eaten as close as possible to sunrise and athletes should choose foods that contribute to sport nutrition needs for the day. Low GI carbohydrate choices are recommended to allow slow release of glucose.
  • Higher sodium foods at Suhour may be beneficial to promote fluid retention and aid hydration.
  • Eating some slow-digesting casein protein (eg. Cottage cheese, greek yoghurt, other dairy products) immediately before sunrise will provide your body with a continuous source of amino acids for the hours to come.
  • Consumption of ‘‘slow’’ proteins at meals consumed before dawn to help with protein balance over the day is advised.  Sufficient fluids and electrolytes (especially sodium) should be consumed after sunset and before sunrise to ensure full replacement of sweat losses and to prevent progressive dehydration.

Sessions undertaken in the evening, scheduled to finish just before Iftar

Potentially the best time for Muslims to exercise during Ramadan is right before sunset when they will have the opportunity to refuel and recover straight away afterwards.

Pros: You’ll benefit from the ability to eat for recovery at Iftar (breaking fast) and during the rest of the evening

Cons: These sessions are undertaken with minimal pre-exercise nutritional support

  • When training or competition are scheduled late in the day, athletes should be careful to limit glycogen depletion and sweat losses by restricting activity levels and exposure to warm environments during the day.
  • Carbohydrate-rich foods should be consumed at the break of fast.
  • Athletes should try to consume at least 20 g of rapidly digested and absorbed high-quality protein soon after exercise whenever possible, as well as high-quality protein-rich foods at each meal opportunity during the evening and before dawn.

Sessions undertaken in the evening after breaking fast

A good option for those with less free time, working out after eating can be beneficial.

Pros: 2 – 3 hours after the break of the fast gives the best opportunities to fuel and hydrate before, during, and after

Cons: It must be balanced against the importance of sleep!

  • Strength training is best performed later in the day to ensure protein can be consumed soon after exercise in order to maximise training adaptations.
  • Consume small amounts of carbohydrate during exercise undertaken after the fast is broken, even if there is little need for additional fuel.

Finding an exercise routine that fits around this time can be difficult, and should only be taken on by people who are used to exercise. If you’re continuing to work out during Ramadan, cardio and heavy weights are not recommended – your body isn’t functioning on its usual fuel, and exercise could be dangerous if taken too far. If you’d like to chat with one of our Personal Trainers regarding training that works around your lifestyle, email the Gym team today. And remember, if you’re feeling unwell due to illness or fasting, please do not take part in exercise until you feel fully well and able!

Peter and Hasan discussing training in the officeCategoriesNutrition Physiology Psychology

Staying healthy during the Christmas period

The holiday season can be a great time to unwind, especially during the world’s current ups and downs. Food and exercise can take a nose dive, however all does not have to be lost according to our resident fitness instructor and registered nutritionist Peter Antonio.

When exercising over the holiday period, try and be as prepared as possible. Check your local gym and pool with regards to opening times and guest pass options. This way, if family and friends would like to join you, then it can be a great way to have quality time, as well as keeping that heart rate up.

Eating is often a focal point at Christmas, and things can revolve a lot around food. This is a great activity to feel close with and connected to your loved ones, and should be part of this season. However, try and include other activities which are not food-focused. This might include going for a walk, attending a carol service, playing board games, watching a classic movie, or even just talking all together with some background seasonal tunes on. We rarely get time to properly catch up with one-an-other, so take the time to see how your loved ones are really doing.

If all those extra calories are of a concern this year, then take the time to research lighter options which might not be weighing you down months down the road. There are endless recipe options out there, so when you find one which you like the sound of, and is a lighter option than what you would usually have, stop the search and just go with it. Sometimes we can lose so much time trying to sift through the bottomless pit of options, that we don’t see the perfectly good ones right in front of us.

It is easy for many of us to feel like the holiday period will be some sort of ‘step backwards’ regarding our waist line and training routine/goals. This certainly does not have to be the case when looked at from a broader vantage point.

For many of us, moving our bodies and getting our heart rate up is just as important for our physical self, as much as our mental self. There is no reason why, with just your own body weight, you cannot do exactly that. It will not be the same as what you are used to, but this does not have to be a bad thing.

Often, we get stuck in the same kind of training and movement patterns, and our bodies are incredibly good at getting used to what we always do. Moving the goal post and doing something different forces our bodies to adapt (i.e., get stronger in some new way). Not only is this good for building on a new area of strength, but our usual routine, and the effect that has had on our bodies, can have a much-needed rest.

We all need genuine down time in order to adapt. Fact. If you do not choose to make this a priority, then your body will make this decision for you. Indeed, this is true for all areas of your life. Try and prioritise your fruit and vegetable intake, sleep, stretching/mobility, and water intake.

Take a step back and recognise if you have been allowing sufficient down time in your own exercise routine. Please feel free to talk to a member of the Gym or Swim team if you are unsure, and for ideas on what you can do exercise wise during the holiday season.

Life is a balancing act, and we can often find ourselves on the floor after having lost our step, with regards to what is important to us, and our families. You, and the relationship you have with yourself and others, is arguably the most important thing there is. Nurture the things that are important to you during this holiday season, and try not to get too caught up in the materialistic side of Christmas. This is called a holiday period for a reason, and shouldn’t leave you more stressed at the end of it.

CarbsCategoriesNutrition

Carbs: getting the facts straight

Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates are not the enemy! When you’re being active, it’s important to consume carbohydrates as part of your diet to provide energy for training and to aid recovery. In this article UoB Sport and Fitness Nutrition Intern, Sam, talks to us about some of the different types of carbohydrates and provides guidance on carbohydrate consumption surrounding training. As a result of the government’s new guidelines surrounding Coronavirus you may find yourself exercising less. However, carbohydrates remain an integral part of your diet, and the following information will help you to tailor your carbohydrate intake to your current exercise levels.
 

What is glycaemic index?

Glycaemic index (GI) refers to the speed at which carbohydrates are digested and absorbed into the body. Carbohydrates are ranked on a GI scale of 0-100, dependent on the rate at which they raise blood glucose (sugar) levels.

  • Glycaemic index of 55 or less = low GI
  • Glycaemic index of 56-69 = mid-range GI
  • Glycaemic index of 70 or more = high GI

DID YOU KNOW?
The riper a fruit or vegetable is, the higher its glycaemic index!

White (simple) carbohydrates like white bread or pasta tend to have a higher GI, causing a rapid spike in energy levels. Wholegrain (complex) carbohydrates tend to have a lower GI, meaning glucose is absorbed into the blood stream at a slower rate. It is advised to consume wholegrain carbohydrates the majority of the time, as these provide ‘longer lasting energy’ and contain more fibre and nutrients.
EXAMPLES OF LOW GI BREAKFASTS

  • Porridge, Bran flakes, Muesli, Wholegrain toast

EXAMPLES OF HIGH GI BREAKFASTS

  • Cornflakes, Coco pops, Cheerios, White toast

 

Carbohydrate fuelling before exercise

The amount of carbohydrates you should consume before exercise is dependent on the timing of carbohydrate fuelling. If you’re eating more than 2 hours before exercising, it is recommended that you consume around 100g of low GI carbohydrates. Examples of these include porridge, wholegrain pasta, and bran cereals. If you’re eating less than 1 hour before exercising, it is recommended that you consume around 50g of high GI carbohydrates. White rice, white pasta, and sports drinks are examples of high GI carbs. If you currently consume very low levels of carbohydrates before exercising it is important that you gradually work up to higher levels to limit any stomach discomfort as a result of a sudden dietary change.
It is worth noting that these values (and the recommendations throughout this article) simply provide a guide to carbohydrate fuelling, and the exact amount you require will be largely  dependent on you as an individual and your sport.
 

Carbohydrate fuelling during exercise

During exercise lasting 1 hour or less, for example going on a run, consume up to 20g of easily digestible carbohydrates (e.g. glucose – the main source of energy for humans). Carbohydrate mouth rinsing involves swilling a high carbohydrate solution around your mouth for 5-10 seconds and then spitting it out (similar to how you would use mouthwash). This appears to improve performance in short duration, high-intensity exercise. This may be a result of the brain linking oral carbohydrate sensing to motor output. Mouth rinsing tricks the brain into thinking carbohydrates are being consumed, causing the brain to send motor signals which activate more muscles. The effects of mouth rinsing are more pronounced when athletes perform while fasted.
When exercising for longer durations, it is crucial you take on carbohydrates to maintain energy levels. During exercise lasting 1-2 hours, consume 30-60g of easily digestible carbohydrates (e.g. glucose). During exercise lasting over 2 hours, consume 60-90g of easily digestible carbohydrates from multiple sources (e.g. glucose and fructose). Glucose and fructose enter the blood stream in different ways, meaning blood glucose levels increase at a greater rate (fructose is converted to glucose in the liver). Check out some of the carbohydrate content in a few foods below:

Source Grams of Carbohydrate
1 Cliff energy bar 42g carbs
1 energy gel sachet ~20-30g carbs
1 Lucozade sport 32g carbs
1 bananas 30g carbs
4 slices malt loaf 50g carbs
1 pint chocolate milk 50g carbs
100g oats 66g carbs
10 dates 50g carbs
75g pasta 56g carbs
75g rice 60g carbs

 

Carbohydrate fuelling post- exercise

Following exercise, ensure you consume a snack/drink containing carbohydrates ASAP to begin the recovery process immediately. You should also eat a larger snack or meal 1-2 hours post-exercise containing carbohydrates. The higher the intensity or longer the duration of an exercise session, the more carbohydrates you will require for recovery. It is important to recover properly after exercise, in order to replenish the body’s glycogen (energy) stores and reduce the likelihood of fatigue in following training sessions. Fatigue can lead to underperformance and injury! If you need to recover quickly after training (e.g. if you have another training session that day), consume carbs with a high glycaemic index at regular intervals post-exercise. Remember that it is also important to have 20-30g of protein post-exercise to aid the growth and repair of muscle.
 

How can I incorporate a variety of carbohydrates into my diet?

 

01.04.20

oranges, apples, limes and bananasCategoriesNutrition

How diet can optimise immunity

You cannot ‘boost’ your immune function through your diet, however your diet can be used to optimise and support the normal functioning of the immune system. Many nutrients are involved in supporting immune function, and therefore a healthy and balanced diet that includes a wide variety of different foods is key. Read on to hear from Nutritionist Caroline about what the role of diet is in optimising immune function.
The following nutrients are of particular importance for the immune system to function optimally, and therefore you should ensure that you incorporate them into your diet:

NUTRIENT FOOD SOURCES
IRON Beef, lamb, eggs, baked beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, tofu, figs, apricots, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, spinach, broccoli, peanut butter, almonds, prawns
VITAMIN C Oranges, orange juice, red and green peppers, strawberries, blackcurrants, broccoli, brussel sprouts, potatoes, kiwifruit, papaya, cauliflower
ZINC Meat, shellfish, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans etc), seeds, nuts, dairy, wholegrains, bread, cereal
VITAMIN D Oily fish, cod liver oil, egg yolk, meat, margarine, fortified cereals/orange juice/milk
COPPER Nuts and seeds, leafy greens, dark chocolate, liver, oysters, shiitake mushrooms, lobster

 
What are some other top tips for helping to maintain immune function, particularly if you are exercising?

  • Ensure you match your energy intake to your energy expenditure so that you do not end up in an energy deficit.
  • Avoid fad diets because they may exclude entire food groups, or particular nutrients that are important.
  • Consume >50% of energy intake as carbohydrate.
  • Ensure that you have an adequate amount of protein in your diet by making sure that you incorporate it into each meal that you eat. Foods high in protein include meat, dairy, fish and nuts.
  • Aim for >7 hours of sleep per night.
  • Have a recovery snack immediately after exercising that contains both carbohydrate and protein, for example a milk based smoothie.
  • Make sure you have eaten a sufficient amount before exercising so that you don’t run out of energy.

 
With limited food in the shops at the moment, how can I make the most of the food that I buy?

  • If there is limited fruit on the shelves, then look in the frozen section instead. Frozen food contains just as many nutrients, if not more, than fresh fruit.
  • Use up fresh ingredients in your fridge first as you don’t want any food to go to waste. Foods with a longer shelf life can be used up at a later date.
  • Looks for fresh foods with a long shelf life, for example potatoes, carrots, onions, apples, onions, squash, beetroot and cabbage.
  • To preserve fresh salad for longer, rinse and drain them, followed by drying them then placing them in a plastic storage tray. Make sure they are covered and kept in the fridge.
  • In terms of cupboard essentials, look for energy dense foods that can be used in a variety of ways. For example, nuts, seeds, peanut butter and oats.
  • Use this time as an opportunity to declutter your cupboards by using up things that you have had for a while.

Get more tips, information and recipes by following the Sport & Fitness Nutrition Instagram page @ubsportnutrition.
31.03.20

pregnancy exerciseCategoriesNutrition Physiology Psychology

Baby Bump to Body Pump – can I exercise during pregnancy?

The do’s and do-not’s of exercising during pregnancy is a much discussed topic, and it can be hard to know what is and isn’t safe. Exercise has many benefits for both mother and baby, so we chatted to Laura Randall to find out how to keep fit and healthy during those 9 months.
Laura Randall is a Personal Trainer, Group Exercise Instructor and Nutritional Advisor, with a degree in Sports Science. Here at University of Birmingham Sport & Fitness, there are many class options that are suitable for those who are expecting. Exercise before, during and after pregnancy is encouraged – but there are some considerations to take in to account to ensure that the exercise is safe and effective.

Which classes do you recommend during pregnancy and what kind of adjustments might be required?

‘The good news is – with a few things to be aware of, most classes should be fine during pregnancy.’

Aqua Fit/Natal during pregnancy can provide the same workout for your heart and body as studio-based classes without the risks of falls or injuries. The buoyancy of the water requires only 50% of your body weight to be supported, alleviating stress on your joints and muscles whilst having fun during your workout. UoB Sport & Fitness offers exclusive aqua natal classes taught by expert instructors, which really help mums-to-be to stay active during pregnancy.
CX Worx and Abs classes should be safe in the first and second trimester. There are adjustments you should make when you can, for example, there are some great options to work your abs in 4-point kneeling positions, supporting yourself on your elbows in a supine position to keep the chest lifted, or by doing hover/plank when it is no longer comfortable to lie flat on your back.

I already work out – can I continue?

‘If you have already been doing Circuits, Tone, Body Attack, Body Step or Zumba Step it should be safe to continue whilst pregnant.’

We do suggest some of the following modifications:

  • Take the low impact options to reduce excessive impact through your joints
  • For Step, decrease the number of risers on your bench so you don’t have to step too high
  • Ensure your foot is always planted firmly on the step so you have a stable base of support

In RPM and Cycle classes it’s good to modify intensity by taking regular breaks, reducing resistance, and avoiding excessive speeds and standing positions as you feel the need to.

What if I want to try something new?

Body Balance, Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates can be started for the first time during pregnancy and are ideal exercise for expectant mothers who want to keep active whilst making healthy lifestyle changes.’

Always let your instructor know that you are pregnant so they can offer the best options for you to feel comfortable and successful, but stop immediately if you feel dizzy, and don’t be too aggressive with your stretches. Remember pregnancy is not the time to push your body!
Weight training and Body Pump are great for maintaining muscle tone during pregnancy. With the options to use lighter weights, hand weights instead of the bar and reducing your range of motion, you can keep moving and feeling strong. When it is no longer comfortable to lie on your back during exercise, you can turn your bench into an Incline Bench. You may also find during the later stages of pregnancy that overhead exercises may cause dizziness or changes in blood pressure, and with this in mind there are plenty of options to stay below the shoulder line and still get the workout you came for.
Zumba, Sh’Bam and Body Jam are generally safe to do during pregnancy, but you may find that twisting and jumping are uncomfortable so just take it easy and listen to what your body is telling you.

What types of classes should I avoid during pregnancy?

Body Combat and Boxercise during pregnancy aren’t recommended because of the joint instability.’

The release of hormones such as Oestrogen and Relaxin can result in joints being less stable, so the kicks and excessive twisting may aggravate the back, hip and pelvis. GRIT and Sprint are both high-intensity workouts where fitness is taken to the next level by pushing yourself hard – pregnancy is not the time to be pushing your body to its limits.
Excessive inversions (e.g. handstands and headstands sometimes practised in Yoga) in the late second and third trimester are not recommended due to the increase in bump size and so as not to confuse the baby as it prepares for birth.

Laura’s tips – what to avoid

  • Exercises that position you on your back after the first trimester, because this position can hinder blood flow to the uterus, and to and from the heart
  • Exercises where you lie flat on your front after the first trimester due to an increase in bump and baby size
  • Exercise that may cause trauma to the abdominal area – now’s the time to give up your kickboxing and excessive rotation, at least until the baby’s born
  • Exercising in high heat environments – always wear loose, comfortable clothing to class, preferably with layers that can be removed
  • Long periods of stationary or motionless standing, as this can cause changes in blood pressure
  • Any exercise that may cause loss of balance to reduce the risk of falling

Laura’s tips – what to adjust

  • Adjust your core training – whenever you can. There are some great options to work your abs in 4-point kneeling, supporting yourself on your elbows (ensuring you keep the chest lifted) or roll over and do hover or plank work
  • Drink plenty of water and keep yourself cool
  • Reducing intensity when you, and your doctor, think you should
  • Let your instructor know that you’re pregnant so they give you the best care and options available
  • Always remember to listen to your body – it will always tell you what it needs and what it doesn’t, and STOP if you ever feel dizzy or uncomfortable during a class

Check out the range of classes available and book now!

Note: Everyone is different – please always consult a doctor before engaging in any new or strenuous exercise! Letting the Reception team and your instructor know that you are pregnant is also a good starting point – both for health and safety reasons and so that they can ensure you are getting the best and safest workout, or advise on the suitability of certain classes or exercises. Pregnancy is generally the time for maintenance, not for pushing yourself for new fitness goals or working out at high intensities, so do let your instructor know if you have any questions.

05.04.18

nutritionCategoriesNutrition Physiology Psychology

Training for a 10k – Nutrition prep

Prior to any run it’s important to ensure you’re fuelled and ready to go. We caught up with Ollie Armstrong, resident Physiologist at UB Sport & Fitness, for some helpful hints on what’s best to eat before a race.

As Lead Physiologist at UB Sport & Fitness, Ollie’s day-to-day is ensuring that athletes can consistently perform to their maximum potential, and so whether you’re an experienced runner or considering doing something like the Birmingham Great Run for the first time, one easy way to help perform at your best is to ensure your body is getting the fuel and hydration required during a race, regardless of duration and length. See below for Ollie’s basic tips for nutritional race preparation.

Before the race

‘Prior to your race it’s important to be fresh and raring to go for the big day. The key is to be properly fuelled, hydrated and good to go – and you can start preparing this from the previous day. Make sure you have a good meal the night before. For breakfast, a bowl of porridge with a banana and some honey, containing both slow and fast release carbohydrates, is a good option. Before you hit the start line (an hour before the race), having a banana or an electrolyte drink will help.’

Carbohydrates

‘For long-duration races, some people like to carbo-load in preparation for a race. This is less necessary for a 10k but if you are thinking of doing something longer, carbo-loading is something to consider. This involves eating minimal carbohydrates four days before your race to cause depletion. Then, two days before your race, aim to eat three to four carbohydrate-based meals and have carbohydrate-based snacks throughout the day. Rice, pasta, bread, cereals, fruit, starchy vegetables and low-fat milk and yoghurt are nutrient-packed, carbohydrate-containing choices so you will have maximal fuel during your race. However, it is important to trial this in the build up to competition as it can have an adverse effect for some people.’

During and after

‘Make sure you drink regularly throughout the day. The best way to drink throughout the day is to sip and not gulp. Straight after the race, an electrolyte drink is really useful to replenish immediate carbohydrate stores, and a form of recovery food or bar with a combination of carbohydrates and protein is also good.
‘It’s also really important to rehydrate following your race. Rehydrating and replenishing energy stores is essential in the few days after your race to avoid becoming ill.  Milk is an effective rehydration drink due to its high carbohydrate and protein content. To stimulate muscular repair, you should aim to eat 20-30g of protein. This is a really good way of regulating body temperature too. Antioxidants (e.g. blueberries) can also help the acute recovery process by mopping up potentially harmful molecules (free radicals) which will reduce inflammation in the muscles.’
Read more about the Birmingham 10k – how to sign up, training plans and more info – on our events page.

10k mental prepCategoriesNutrition Physiology Psychology

Training for a 10k – the mental prep

With the Birmingham Great Run 10k looming just around the corner, we chatted to our Sport Psychology Lead about how best to prepare for the challenge.

Matt Thompson has been a Performance Psychologist at the University of Birmingham for nearly 4 years, and so who better to ask about keeping on track during training?! Whether you’re an experienced runner or you’re trying out your first race, self-belief and motivation can be one of the most debilitating factors when building up to race day. Matt poses three questions which will keep your eyes on the prize even during the ‘it’s cold outside, I want to stay in bed and eat chocolate’ times.

Why am I doing this?!

‘The answer to this question can be a major source of motivation. Be honest with yourself – this has to be a genuine reason that means something to you. Whether you are doing the Birmingham 10k because you want to be that healthier version of you, or because you’re trying to raise funds for a charity that is close to your heart, or because you are desperate to get that sense of achievement from beating your personal best – write this down and put it somewhere you will see it when you need that extra motivation boost. You could even print out a Birmingham 10K poster and put it on the back of your door! On those wet and miserable mornings or cold dark evenings asking yourself this question. Reminding yourself of the answer can provide the motivation you need to get you out pounding the pavements!’

How am I going to do this?

‘You need to work back from your end goal and plan how you’re going to achieve it. Are you going to run so many times a week? What days work best for you? What times work best for you? First of all – get advice regarding your programme. Speak to a specialist or use one of many great guides online. Secondly, you MUST be honest with yourself here. I often tell myself ‘this week I will get up earlier and run at 6am three times a week’. I have literally never been able to complete that challenge! I know that mornings are not the best option for me. So I have to be honest with myself and plan to run at other times. Make a plan that you honestly think will work for YOU, then go for it!’

What could stop me from doing this?

‘Preparation is key! There will be barriers. For each of us these will be unique: fitting training around a busy lifestyle, managing an old injury, a love of chilling on the sofa and binge-watching the latest box-set! Think about what could possibly stop you from achieving your goals and then prepare how you can reduce the chances of that negative scenario happening, or deal with it if it does. For example, if you have tried running in the past but stopped because of shin pain, then that could be a possible obstacle that could stop you from training and achieving your goal. In that scenario there is lots you could do to influence that: get a gait analysis done at your local running store and make sure you get good footwear that’s right for you; plan your training so you build your programme up gradually; get a foam roller to help relieve any tension and see a physiotherapist or other specialist for advice. Preparing for what could stop you achieving your goals makes it less likely that they will.’

Oh, and one more thing!

‘Remember you are human! You will skip a session or make poor decisions every now and then. That is OK. Try not to go overboard when you do and then get up, and go again. Good luck and enjoy!’