Last week at the Virgin London Marathon, according to an article in the Sunday Times, many runners aged between 55 and 64 ran as fast as those in the younger age bracket of 25 – 34.
This is wonderful news for us older runners who always imagine we get slower as we age – if we train well then there is absolutely no reason why our running endurance should diminish. It was Strava who examined the stats of those runners using their tracker app at the London Marathon and they discovered that the 55 – 64 age group ran an average marathon race of 4 hours, 4 minutes and 17 seconds JUST 15 seconds behind the average pace of the 25 – 34 year olds!
I’ll have some of that!
It’s well documented that running increases longevity (according to a study in the Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases Journal) a single hour of running can add seven hours to a person’s life…Crikey! And boosts our cognitive function…There are loads of studies out there that demonstrates this fact – one such from the University of Eastern Finland found that ‘participants who engaged in physical activity at least twice a week had a lower risk of dementia than those who were less active. The research also showed that it’s never too late to start. Becoming more physically active after midlife was shown to lower dementia risk.https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201404/physical-activity-improves-cognitive-function
So, as I hurtle alarmingly towards a rather big and shocking birthday, this gives me hope and gets me out that door on rainy, cold days. It reminds me too that we’ve just got to keep on keeping on. Which I will certainly be doing.
Age is just a number and it’s never too late to start running…or run a marathon!
Come and join our Running workshop here in Marlow on the 17th June for inspiration – http://www.pilatesandrunning.co.uk/?page_id=438
There is no doubt in my mind that running can alleviate and improve many things. I’m talking mental health rather than physical here. If you suffer from depression, going for a run or brisk walk can feel impossible. Hiding under the duvet is way more preferable.
But research shows that walking – and particularly running – can be immensely curative and make a huge difference to how you feel. Getting out the door, as usual, is the hardest part. But once you’re out, the world, for a wonderful short while, can feel like a better place.
To me it’s the hypnotic rhythm of my feet hitting the ground, the one-two-one-two, simple, even primal beat. The focus on breathing can take me out of myself and gives me a huge sense of freedom – meditative running, which I’ve written about before in this blog is something I love. I become revitalised by the fresh air, exposure to nature and being aware of my immediate environment, that keeps me in the present moment.
Running or run/walking can be healing. If you’re lucky enough to run or walk in a relaxing, natural environment, then that too adds to the wellbeing.
Matt Haig in his wise and wonderful book ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ talks of how running helped with his panic attacks, he called running ‘his depression-beating power.’ And if you do suffer from depression I urge you to read it, it’s a life-changer…actually, even if you don’t suffer from depression, read it, it’s a very positive, moving and inspiring book.
When we run or exercise, our bodies release endorphins. These are our natural antidepressants. But there’s more… running can be a social activity, it can provide purpose, a goal, improve confidence both mentally and physically and even sleep. I’ve seen it magically transform people who have been going through really difficult, stressful times in their lives, watched them come alive when they’ve claimed to be dead inside, I’ve been privileged to hear and be part of so many life-changing stories. And it’s all down to running.
On a personal level I know that if I don’t run for a while I begin to feel ‘low’ – I crave those endorphins. Which could of course be seen as verging on addiction. It probably is. But I would rather be craving a naturally caused endorphin rush than a bottle of whisky, a cigarette or pill, wouldn’t you?
Incidentally, these pictures were from my magical, meditative run the other morning. Nothing beats it.
Our first Running workshop is taking place here in Marlow on Saturday 17th June. We’re starting off with limited places – so book early to avoid disappointment!
The time will be from 9.30am until about 12.30/1pm – venue will be my studio, depending on numbers.
This first, small, morning workshop is aimed at those of you who need motivation to get back at this running malarkey, are new to the sport, have maybe been injured, want to find out more about running and nutrition or just want to come along because you love all things running and there’s always something new to learn…
Pencilled in for the morning so far, we have marathon runner Brian from our local running shop Runners’ Retreat who will educate us about the right kind of running shoes and Sports bras AND there will be a prize draw for two lucky people to win a new Sports bra kindly donated by Shock Absorber (sorry guys); we have local Nutritional Therapist (Zest4Life) and runner Ann Garry who will talk with you about key nutritional principles that support running and a healthy lifestyle. And local Osteopath and runner, Jane Kaushal who will discuss injuries with us and do a Q& A sesh; and I will make sure you leave feeling more motivated to run than ever. We’ll discuss running jargon, how to train, cross train and lots more…NO Pilates though – just a talkie event and a few running drills at the end on the local excuse for a green space. Tea, coffee, water and snacks are included and the cost to you is £25…oh yes, and I’ll probably try and flog my book to you too…
Numbers are limited, so to book a place and to find out more please visit this page: Running Workshops
So how does that work?… I wondered as I began to read the article ‘Could taking up running help you get a new job?’ written by Maddy Savage for the BBC News. (Link to full article at bottom of page).
Of course! It’s all about networking, camaraderie, chatting to those you run with, sharing stories, tips, gossip, news and finding out about each other’s lives while puffing along those trails or pavements isn’t it?
So certainly it’s possible that taking up running could help you get a new job.
I think one of the biggest things I’ve noticed about our group runs and the always constant, supportive, group of runners, is the friendships forged. I wouldn’t have met so many different individuals, women mainly, and amazing women they are too, every single one of them, if I hadn’t taken up running and set up Harri’s Running Team.
We all, predictably, have busy lives, totally separate from our running. Potentially, some of us would never even have made contact in a million years or possibly found things in common if it wasn’t for our love of running. But we all come together for these one or two sociable hours a few times a week, sometimes less, sometimes more, and we are all running friends. Bonding over races that we’re going to run, or local events that we’re considering. Injuries sustained or personal bests achieved. Sharing news about our children, partners, dogs and yes, jobs. Laughing together (a lot), feeling positive and alive.
Through their running networks, some people have made life-long friends, socialising outside of their running. By sharing our personal running achievements on social media we can now connect with like-minded people from all over the world, even meeting up and putting faces to names at races – what other pastime or activity does that? Running is a truly amazing sport, Totally inclusive and anyone can do it. And if you think you can’t run, talk to me and I will show you how….Because you can! And who knows, you might even find a new job! Should you want one…
Sylvester Stallone attended a Pilates class for the first time with his daughter last week and described it as ‘brutal’!
This made me smile!
He posted on Instagram that throughout his life he’d lifted weights, boxed, trained on track and field, played football and many other sports but found that this workout pushed him to the limits.
I would suggest that being a body builder, all his muscles are taut and inflexible.
David Beckham and Andy Murray do Pilates…
But Pilates is designed to benefit absolutely everyone. It really is. I teach beginners, some old, frail and determined, while others younger, some of whom who are strong, athletic but totally inflexible! And everyone in between, including teenagers.
But as a Pilates instructor I am delighted to see more and more people, not just men giving it a go – it’s not easy, I know walking into a class full of women (usually) who have possibly been practising Pilates for a while can be intimidating. But once you’ve given it a go and begin to feel the amazing benefits, I promise you, you’ll be hooked.
There are many versions of the Shoulder Bridge, some more challenging than others but this basic version can benefit us in so many ways. It mobilises the back, ironing out any kinks, or achy/tight muscles post-activity, or from sitting at your computer all day. In addition, the Shoulder Bridge lengthens the quads (front of thighs) and strengthens the hamstrings (back of thighs). It also improves core strength, pelvic and torso stability and gets those pesky glute muscles (buttocks) working.
Glutes have a habit of being a bit lazy. Maybe you’ve been told by your physio or osteopath that your glutes aren’t firing properly… Sometimes this can result in an achy lower back or tired, tight, hamstrings after a long walk, run or other sporting activity. Well this exercise can sort you out, it’s also a really lovely post activity stretch. Try it and see…
Apologies for the dog in the picture, but he wouldn’t move!
Tilt your pelvis back and forwards a little on the mat and come into neutral spine (if you don’t know what neutral spine is because you aren’t familiar with Pilates, don’t worry…for now!)
Engage your abdominal muscles (this means pull your tummy muscles in a little way…by doing this you will be protecting your spine.) And engage (squeeze) your bottom muscles
Slowly peel your spine off the mat, one vertebrae at a time, raising your torso into the bridge position.
Hold it for a second or two, keeping your tummy muscles engaged and your torso stable (no wobbles), plus you need your bottom muscles to remain squeezed/activated.
Then gently lower yourself back down with control, to the mat.
Try to breathe! Don’t hold your breath – if you attend a Pilates class then you will know about the lateral thoracic breathing – but if you don’t, for now, just breathe!
Repeat the above movement as many times as you wish – concentrating on those tummy muscles and bottom muscles – feel the lengthening of the spine and the stretch in the front of your thighs. Try to keep the shoulders relaxed and yes, have I mentioned it before? Breathe! It’s a really relaxing exercise too…
‘In 10 sessions you will feel the difference. In 20 you will see the difference. And in 30 you will have a whole new body.’ Joseph Pilates
Many of my clients come to Pilates because they have bad backs. Sometimes as a last resort. Or because their physio or osteopath has suggested that attending a Pilates class will help
In my experience, it usually does. But if you have a bad back of any kind, a back that goes into muscular spasm, or something more serious like a slipped or prolapsed disc it can be easy to spend your life being terrified of doing more damage and ending up in chronic pain.
And so you don’t go to Pilates.
This fear can manifest itself in even more tension, making the back tighter as the muscles surrounding the injury become protective – a vicious circle if you like. Both mentally and physically.
So what to do?
Pilates can and does help – simply, it strengthens the core which supports your back, it relaxes and lengthens the muscles allowing healing to take place. And eventually the confidence you gain will help you to move better, improve your posture and return to all the things you used to enjoy before you hurt your back.
Check with your osteopath, physio or medical practitioner that your condition can be helped by Pilates (most can). Continue to take their advice. Make sure you talk with the Pilates instructor at length before you start the sessions, so that she/he understands your condition and possible limitations. And then give it a go!
‘I started Pilates because of my chronic and sometimes acute back pain. I can do a lot more because I’m not going to be in pain afterwards. Pilates has given me freedom to play sport and run a half-marathon.’ SH
‘I slipped two discs picking up something heavy and was referred to a consultant who said either I would need surgery, or because I was fit, I could just have physio and do Pilates. So I chose the latter. After about a year of Pilates I didn’t need painkillers any more – a 6 month scan showed the discs had naturally gone back in. Although my back will always be weak Pilates made it happen and taught me so much.’ JL
So 3 months ago, virtually to the day, I received an email from a local, potential client who said she would like to start running. Nothing unusual in that. I get many enquiries all of which I respond to, some come back to me and others disappear. But what struck me about this particular email was that the woman in question spent the whole message describing to me why she couldn’t ever run: too fat, flat feet, rubbish at school sports, boobs too big, no time, unfit, bad diet, can’t diet, too old – I kid you not. Perfect I said, meet me at such and such time on Friday and I will show you how to run and feel fantastic!
Would she reply I wondered?
How brave, I thought, to actually make the decision to send me the email – that couldn’t have been easy to reveal so much. That takes guts.
She would be fine, I knew it, if only I could get to meet her.
I get so sad when people and not just women, men too, find themselves in this negative body-image life-is-shit downward spiral. Sometimes it’s just easier to go with the flow down the slippery slope of low self-esteem, bad health, dodgy diet choices, depression, give up. To make a decision to change, possibly against the odds, is more than hard. But once you’ve decided to change, you’re on your way.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, we met, we run/walked, we talked about goals, about sports bras, about running shoes, we talked about commitment to fitness and health and diet and life changes, looked around at the beautiful countryside, the blue sky, the birds, and laughed about our children and the state of the world. She did it. She bloody did it.
We met weekly for 3 months. She has lost over a stone in weight. And next weekend she runs her first 10k.
She is happy in her own skin.
Running has changed her life. And she doesn’t need me anymore.
Running can change yours too. If you let it.
My book ‘Pilates for Runners’ will be on sale in April and I’ve been sent a few early copies. Very excited to have my first book actually in my hands and I’m so pleased with it. The team at Bloomsbury Sport have done a wonderful job.
So, what’s it all about?
Do you run? Do you want to run faster for longer? Are you prone to injury? Then have a go at Pilates and see what a difference it can make to your body.
Maybe you like to run but don’t feel strong enough? Practise Pilates and your strength will improve, along with your coordination, flexibility and balance. I promise you, it does work.
Do your shoulders ache after a run, or do they end up around your ears? By practising Pilates you will learn how to keep an eye on your posture when you run.
Are you wasting energy when you run by twisting from your centre? Pilates exercises can target this problem.
Finding it hard to relax after an adrenaline-fuelled run? Pilates will help you relax.
And those are only a few things that Pilates can help you with – try it and see.
Buy the book, it will tell you how!
You can pre-order the book from Amazon UK, it is published in April and I will share some of it on here later on nearer the time, to give you a taster…Pilates for Runners
If you live in the USA you can pre-order from Amazon.com: Pilates for Runners
Need motivation to start running in 2017? Well look no further!
Or maybe you just haven’t managed to get out there for a run lately and you need an achievable goal?
How about a virtual race?
This is such a brilliant idea because it means that you can run the race on or around the suggested date(s) anywhere in the world, at any pace, in any old pair of trainers or tatty t-shirt, with a group of friends, your dog, your children or alone!
Then register your result with me and receive a medal.
There are none of the usual irritants of racing that can include the long queues for the loo, traffic jams en route and the time it can take to travel to the race venue, or too many runners, bottlenecks during the race, cut-off times and rules (you can wear your headphones!) And you can relax because you won’t feel intimidated by other more experienced runners, and let’s face it we’ve all experienced that.
Virtual Racing allows you to be who you are and to run your own race, on your own terms, anywhere in the world!
What better way to keep fit and healthy and motivated in 2017?
I’m just trying out some virtual races at the moment to see how they go – but why not kick off with the Harri’s Running Team New Year Resolution 5k or 10k? Or both! Take a look at my webpage for suggested dates (these aren’t set in stone, you can choose a different date if you prefer but I’ve set dates so that you have time to train) and you’ll also find out what you need to do (visit: Harri’s Virtual Races) to enter the race – it only costs £12, payable by Paypal (20% will go to charity) and then I’ll post your medal out to you when you’ve proved to me that you’ve completed the distance.
Doesn’t matter whether you run the whole way, walk some, jog a bit, have a sit down…Whatever works for you. Or you can set the clock and go hell for leather!
And tell your friends because they might like to join you.
You might also like to join our closed Facebook group page Harri’s Virtual Races Facebook page or I’ll join you when you sign up – you can write about your goals, tell me and your fellow runners about your training, post some pictures, ask for advice, and then when you’ve completed your race post your garmin/strava/running/walking apps/Fitbit or Vivosmart data, or just a photo showing me that you’ve done it, I will send you your first medal of the year! And if you’re local, who knows I might even run it with you, if you’d like me to.
Soon I plan to produce funky bespoke medals and maybe even some embarrassingly themed races – here’s one medal I have my eye on (below) so continue following and watching so that you can keep running and make 2017 the year you start collecting fabulous bling and staying fit, healthy and strong by running the Harri’s Running Team Virtual Races!
For more information and to sign up visit this page on my website:Harri’s virtual races