I.C.E. (And not the cold variety!)

Today I have a really interesting post from my friend, Michelle (she recently did the Newcastle parkrun review – to be fair, she really should start her own blog as she’s such a good runner and always eats nice things (read: cake) too). Today she’s reviewing the I.C.E running ID.

Now it’s dark like all the time (well it feels like it anyway) “be safe, be seen” is a thought that crosses most runner’s minds as they pick out their best high-vis outfit before their run, don the head torch and other flashies.

But have you ever thought about if, god forbid, something happened to you whilst out on a run???

If you’re out with friends or a club then the people around you are going to know who you are and who to contact to tell them what has happened but are they going to know your medical history? If you take any medication? If your allergic to medication? But what about if you are out running alone? The chances of someone who knows who you, let alone anything else about you, finding you is minuscule!!

After the tragic deaths of the two young Aldershot, Farnham & District runners I feel it is important to raise the topic of ensuring every one of us runners have some form of ID on them when out running I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency). This doesn’t just apply to people with medical conditions but EVERYONE! There are a number of options available, from simple and cheap to those with a slight cost but worth the investment!

Your Mobile Phone

For those of you who run with your phone this is a quick and free option!
These days most mobile phones allow you to enter I.C.E. and medical information which can then be accessed from the lock screen. I am not sure exactly how to do this with any phone apart from iPhone but just Google it and there will be plenty of step by step guides available. If you own an iPhone then if you go into the built in Health app it will ask you to set up your medical ID.img_3986This can then be accessed from the lock screen in an emergency without having to unlock your phone.img_3984After you press the home button press “Emergency” and then “Medical ID”.img_3985

Key Tags

This is another quick and cheap option for ensuring you have I.C.E. details with you whilst out on a run and was the first way I ever took I.C.E information out on runs with me! I bought a pack of about 30 key tags from a pound shop, wrote I.C.E. on the front and my emergency contact name and number on the back.img_3983 It lives attached to my front door key so it is guaranteed to go with me every time I run! The rest of the pack of key tags are probably sat in a drawer at home but I’ve got one on my uni front door key and another on my home front door key. Why not put the rest of the box to use and pop one on your kid’s door keys too?!

parkrun Wristbands

The majority of runners these days have a parkrun barcode. For many of us it starts life as a constantly crumpled and soggy bit of paper, it then progresses (maybe) to being laminated to make each one last a bit longer but why not invest in a parkrun wristband and kill two birds with one stone!img_3982At £13.98 the wristbands are made from silicone making them durable and waterproof. They come in sizes from small to extra-large, are available in black or pink and are laser engraved with your name and personal barcode. In addition to these you can personalise them with your I.C.E. telephone number and medical information.

Even though I’m not the most frequent parkrun attender I purchased one of these wristbands about a year ago. The first time I used it I was worried the barcode wouldn’t work but I’ve had no problems! They are really light and easy to just slip on before a run, even if you’re not off to parkrun!

OneLife ID

Being away at uni I felt I probably needed something a bit more than just a key tag on me when I was out running as the chance of anyone knowing more than my name was well zero! I came across OneLife ID who make emergency wristbands designed for sports. These are slightly more expensive but worth every penny!!screenshot-2016-11-17-16-58-24They have a wide range of wristbands, alert cards, dog tags and now even tags to add to your watch or activity tracker! Each of their ID tags are personalisable and allow you to create an online personal profile which can only be accessed using a code on the back of your ID tag. The online profile can be updated and allows more information about you to be sought. You can also download a mobile ID to save to your phone.
img_3807I chose the Stealth Squadra ID wristband (£22.99) which comes in a choice of 11 different colours, has a soft silicone strap and a stainless steel “fold over safety clasp” so it fit securely once you’ve put it on. It is water and sweat resistant too. It comes in one size which you cut to size and then attach the clasp meaning you can make sure it’s a snug fit!img_3981

When ordering you personalise the tag itself to include text only (up to 5 lines) or have less text and a QR code. You choose your own online ID and the tag comes with a security PIN written on the back of it so people can only view detailed information about you if they enter the pin. If things were to change in the future you can order replacement tags for your band.

I love my OneLife ID and wear it out on every run! It doesn’t move about too much due to the fact you cut it to size, fits easily under long sleeves for the winter and is so lightweight I have often forgotten I still have it on and have been known to walk around with it on all day before!

Carrying I.C.E. ID whilst out on a run will put your loved ones at ease, so with Christmas coming up why not add an I.C.E. ID wristband to your list for Santa!

Thanks, Michelle. This is a really important post I think. I for one actually have done none of these things and feel suitable guilty! I’ll definitely be updating my Health app on my iPhone and looking to buy the parkrun wristband soon. And not just for running but I go to the gym stupidly early in the morning so having this information on me would be very handy as I don’t take my purse with me to the gym.

Do you have any of the above I.C.E products?

How do you stay safe when running?

Newcastle parkrun Review

I have another parkrun review for you today. This time brought to you from one of my running friends, Michelle, who, by the way, is RIDICULOUSLY speedy. We’re talking 3:15 marathoner, sub 19 minute 5k’er, sub 40 min 10k’er… I could go on, but basically any distance she can smash. She’s also very modest about it as well 🙂 And she’s kindly done a review of the Newcastle parkrun. Though I’m all for some parkrun tourism, Newcastle is a little bit tricky for me to get to living on the South Coast. Happily she’s studying to be a doctor ‘up North’ (brainy and speedy). So, without further ado, onto Michelle’s review…

newcastle-parkrun-07-may-2016-1That’s Michelle in the green t-shirt storming along

Location: Newcastle parkrun is found on Town Moor, an area of common just outside of the city centre. Apparently it is larger than New York’s Central Park and also Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath combined! On the corner of Town Moor is Exhibition Park which has a small lake, children’s play area and café. Other than a few hills and lots of green space there isn’t much in the way of scenery but this means it is easy to spot the runners towards the front and towards the back. It’s easy to find and if you get lost once your near there are always plenty of people heading that way!

Parking: Town Moor itself doesn’t have a dedicated car park however there are plenty of pay & display places to park which are only a very short walk away! For on road parking I would suggest Claremont Road, Clayton Road and Brandling Park Road. There is also a large pay & display on Claremont Road which costs £1.30 for an hour. Be careful as a lot of the surrounding roads are permit parking!

The best and easiest way to get to Newcastle parkrun is on public transport! Jesmond metro station is probably the closest at about a 5-minute walk from the start but Haymarket and West Jesmond metro stations are also about a 10-minute walk from the start. There are plenty of buses stop along Great North Road, Claremont Road and Haymarket bus station.

Amenities: Unfortunately, there are no toilets at Newcastle parkrun unless you buy something in the café in Exhibition Park to get a code. The café itself though is great! It serves hot drinks, snacks, breakfasts, sandwiches, homemade food, cakes and Dalinos ice cream (some amazing flavours!). You also get 10% student and OAP discount 😉

Course: The course itself is one big loop along the paths which cross the moor and along the outside of it.

newcastle-parkrunSource

You start close to Exhibition Park and then head onto the main path which crosses the moor. The first turn is a right hander shortly after passing through the first (of 3) gates to run alongside the moor on the footpath of Grandstand Road. After 250m you turn right again through gate 2 and back onto the moor. The next section is on gravel paths (whereas the rest of the course is tarmac paths) and can be a bit muddy in the rain! You head back across the moor towards the top of exhibition park before a left turn towards the eastern edge of the moor. From here you run in a ‘u’ shape before turning left back onto tarmac paths and through the final gate. This is the only point on the course where you pass other runners who are about to head onto the ‘u’ shaped section. The final stretch takes you to a crossroads where you turn left onto the main path across the moor you joined shortly after starting and then left again back towards the start line. The finish line is 100m further on and after a slight right turn just past the start. All the gates are held open for you by marshals but running single file is required as they aren’t the widest of gates!newcastle-parkrun-6-december-2014

Oh there is one final thing…during the summer months you share the moor with cows! Yes, you read that correctly! There are cows that live on the moor.town-moor-cowsThey are generally very friendly and will move out the way for runners but just watch where you’re putting your feet!

Elevation: Overall the course is pretty flat. As you head towards the first gate it is a slight incline but there are definitely no hills on the course.

newcastle-parkrun-elevationOver the whole course the elevation gain is just 19m. This means that it can be a very fast one…although with Town Moor being very exposed any amount of wind can be a battle!

Number of participants: Being a city parkrun it is a big, busy one! The record attendance is 701 with average attendance being over 600! Despite this number of participants there are never really any problems. The design of the course means you’re not going to collide with other runners and the parkrun volunteers have developed a multiple finish funnel system to ensure finishing and getting your token is a smooth process. With this number of participants it means there is a wide range of times, from the quickest finishing in around 16 minutes and the slowest just under 50 minutes, so everyone is more than welcome! The course is ideal for runners with buggies due to it being mostly tarmac and dogs are also welcome on short leads.

Other: On the 2nd Saturday of every month Newcastle parkrun hosts a paced run with volunteers pacing times from around 19 minutes up to about 40 minutes.

Pretty much every week there are volunteers there taking photos at different points on the course which are available on their Facebook page!

Due to the moor being very exposed and well it being in the north east the course does get very icy (and sometimes snowy) in the winter. This does mean it can get cancelled at short notice but this is always well publicised on Facebook and Twitter so I recommend checking before you head out!

Town Moor is also home to a Junior parkrun on a Sunday morning!

Have you ever been to Newcastle parkrun?

Would you prefer hilly and no wind, or flat and windy?

Wildlife and livestock on your runs, are you fan?

Squat Routine Variations for Fun and Muscle

Today I have a guest post for you today regarding one of my favourite gym exercises: the squat.

A fast trip to the gym can still yield great results if you’re doing squats. You may have heard that they’re the ultimate all-in-one exercise, and they are, but if you want to get even more out of them, mix up the form and add some free weights to build muscle in all the major groups at once. For more dynamism in the workout, do weighted lunges. If you travel a lot or have an uneven amount of time to work out, a flexible gym membership and a squat-based routine can keep you in good form.

Two fitness women doing squat exercise workout outdoor. Female coach correcting knee position for legs exercising.

First, perfect your squat

Before adding weights, be sure you have the following details down in your basic move:

  1. Lower yourself slowly to keep both the balls of your feet and your heels firmly on the floor for the entirety of the movement.
  2. For the exercise to be effective and not injurious to your knees, you need to go down to at least the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor, if not a little beyond.
  3. Don’t tuck your tailbone or arch your back.

In the free weight variations, go as slowly as you need to in order to keep good form.

Add some cardio

Working in 30-second intervals for a total of 5 minutes or more, do as many squats as you can in each interval. Don’t lose your form, but try to work up a little speed and increase your reps in 30 seconds. Rest for just a few seconds between sets. Do some sets with your hands behind your head, elbows out to the side, and some with your arms raised and palms facing outward.

To turn up the cardio, jump as you come up out of the squat. Try to start with two sets of 10. Your heart will really get pumping here.

Add a weight plate

Grip a barbell weight on either side and hold it out in front of you, keeping your arms straight, as you lower into a squat. You’re developing static strength in your shoulders, deltoids, and arms, and this variation really forces you to keep your core stable.

Hold ‘the chalice’

Hold a weight with your arms bent, close to your chest, and perform your squat. Your upper arms will love this one!

With just a few variations in your squat routine, you will find yourself getting stronger and your balance improving. And you’ll free yourself from the treadmill.

If you’d like to benefit from a flexible gym membership, you’ll find gyms offering this kind of accessibility throughout the country, with some notable locations including Lewes Leisure Centre, The Rapids Romsey, Pemberton Centre Rushden and Clifton College Sports Centre.

Do you go to the gym?

What’s your favourite strength exercise?

What’s your favourite squat variation?

Paratriathlons – Inclusive Sport at its Best

Hello! I’m currently sunning myself (or exercising ridiculously hard) in Spain right now, but have a guest post lined up for you. In my ignorance, I’ve never heard of this sport before but it sounds tough!

When it comes to inclusive sport at its very best, there is nothing more impressive than a paratriathlon event unfolding in front of you.

Comprising of a 750m swim followed by a 20km cycle (handcycle or tandem), and then finishing with a 5km run or wheelchair section, it is one of the most spectacular events on the inclusive sport calendar.

As a testament to its growing popularity, the event has recently been accepted into the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. It also has the full backing of the ITU (International Triathlon Union), which will no doubt help it grow and develop further as an inclusive sport.

So, what are the different classes of paratriathlon for the athletes?

clip_image001

The Paratriathlon Classes

Paratriathlon athletes are placed in one of five different classes – PT1 to PT5 – to ensure a level playing field among competitors with varying disabilities.

PT1 class is specifically for wheelchair users and athletes who have conditions preventing them from riding a conventional bike in a safe manner. The athletes use a racing wheelchair on the running section, and a recumbent handcycle on the cycling section.

PT2, PT3 and PT4 athletes are able to use approved supportive devices and prosthesis in the running and cycling sections. The athletes in these classes are assigned on the basis of their classification assessment score. Typically, an athlete in this category may have, among other disabilities, an impairment of muscle power, limited range of movement or limb deficiencies.

Lastly, the P5 category is for athletes with partial or total visual impairment. This can vary from total blindness to varying degrees of light perception – B1, B2 or B3, as set out in the IBSA/IPC definitions. Athletes competing in this class ride a tandem bike in the cycling section and are paired with a mandatory guide to assist them throughout the race.

If you are looking for more information on the classes, this can be found in the IPC’s Laymen’s Guide for Paralympic Summer Sports.

Looking to get involved?

For British enthusiasts, British Triathlon aims to provide athletes with all of the coaching and support necessary to compete at a professional level. Based out of Loughborough University, British Triathlon are committed to unearthing and developing talent to create future athletes for Great Britain.

When it comes to equipping yourself for the paratriathlon and other inclusive cycling related activities, Quest 88 is one of the best manufacturers available. Founded over 24 years ago with the idea of providing tricycles to children with additional needs, the company has grown to become one of the most innovative providers of all ability cycling products.

With a range of equipment and designs, there is a product for everyone. Who knows where you may end up: perhaps, the next step will be competing in a paratriathlon of your very own.

Have you ever heard of a paratriathlon? I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t but I hugely admire those who take part. Absolutely epic.

Do you do any triathlons?

How stress is controlled with martial arts

Hey guys! I’ve got a really interesting guest post today about martial arts. It’s not something that I’ve ever really tried before (aside form a few token Judo lessons as a child). It sounds fascinating though, I hope you enjoy Smile

Stress is only something natural in us and it quite frankly comes down to how we deal with situations when we are overwhelmed with stress. I know a lot of my friends told me that martial arts actually helps them with stress and they’ve also learned how to control it. With this information I wanted to find out more about it.

Stress

I’ve been to a few kickboxing classes but never really understood the deeper knowledge of the art. Sure, a good healthy workout routine can help take your mind off things, but Martial arts has been a proven exercise that does all that and more. There are many types of Martial arts but I discovered that Tai chi is more based on spiritual ideas that promotes a need for balance in the body, mind, and spirit. It is a graceful form that uses slow hands and slow movements in the body which does wonders for the health and body too.

To give you a better understanding how, every Tai Chi movement consist of some sort of stretch, rotation and twisting of the muscles which helps to release tension in the body. Through these movements it pays attention to the connection between the mind and the body which can relieve stress, fight diseases, and enhance physical well-being. There are other Martial art forms out there like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Karate, Judo and more which you can learn more about at Martial Tribes. However, if you’re thinking that you need to become seriously healthy and put some zen into your life, then give Tai Chi a try, as it consists of components which can help improve quality of life and has plenty of health benefits.

chinese do taichi outside

You will find that when practicing Tai Chi, it works on all of the major muscle groups and joints and these are needed for the slow, gentle movements. After a few sessions of this low-impact, weight-bearing exercise, it will improve balance, agility, strength, flexibility, stamina, muscle tone, and coordination. A lot of seniors practice this art because it’s easy to get into and it’s effective and does the health wonders. It just shows that we should start earlier.

There are some people who don’t realise how important breathing is when you’re working out and it’s often ignored. When you perform deep breathing, it enhances blood circulation to the brain, which boosts mental alertness, and this simple practice supplies the entire body with fresh oxygen and nutrients. When you exhale stale air from the lungs and then inhale a lot of fresh air, this will increase your lung capacity and releases tension. This kind of breathing technique successfully helps you to balance and control your body and your mind by connecting the two.

During inhalation and exhalation, a form of energy is being allowed to complete a path of circulation through your whole body, and this makes your body connect to your mind.
Other exercises like yoga as well as martial arts shows that meditation soothes the mind and enhances concentration. To be able to concentrate and focus will give your mind clear thoughts and reduces anxiety, you will even find yourself being more productive and getting things done. Staying calm and being able to control the stress you’re dealing with will give you a peaceful mind which then lowers blood pressure and heart rate meaning a happier you.

Have you ever done martial arts before?

Do you believe spirituality should come into play when exercising?

Do you find it hard to de-stress