I’ve been running for many years but sometimes my enthusiasm for the sport can wane and I lose my mojo. Often it’s because I’ve been overdoing things, work has become very busy, everyone wants a bit of me and suddenly going for a run feels like it’s taking up precious time that I could be using more gainfully. Which of course is rubbish, as anybody who runs knows.
But the best thing you can do when your brain is frazzled and life stuff is interfering, is to go for a run! Because afterwards everything feels so much better.
When you’re feeling knackered a run is possibly the last thing on your list. Phone/text a running mate. Meet up. Go for a short trot, nothing more, and you’ll suddenly feel the magic return.
Discuss your loss of running love with your friends who run. Runners are a tightly knit group and very supportive of each other. There’s always somebody who can pick you up and encourage you to run. And don’t forget to chat and laugh too. You’ll feel so much better.
Did you know that you could save money, earn points and vouchers by exercising regularly? No, neither did I! But apparently you can…
Free to join – and Bounts turns all your exercise into points that can be exchanged for vouchers. Tracking your activities via their app whether it’s running, cycling or walking is easy and will earn you their ‘Bounts’. These can then be swapped for M&S, John Lewis, Pizza Express or Waitrose vouchers to name but a few high street stores who are part of this scheme. Pretty good incentive to get off that couch I’d say!
RUNNING HEROES https://uk.runningheroes.com/
Running Heroes is another exercise incentive driven app to get you moving. This time it’s aimed at encouraging you to run (well, obviously…) and when you do, rewarding you with points to spend at various sports stores. Companies who offer discounts for points earned include Ashmei, Polar, Buff and Sis. But there are many others too. So get your kit on, sign up and redeem your points!
EARTH MILES http://earthmiles.co.uk/
Likewise, Earth Miles too encourages you to be healthy and fit by using their app to log your excercise which they will then reward you for. Their rewards all come from healthy, responsible companies who care about the earth and your wellbeing. You can exchange them for discounts at places like Planet Organic or Embody Wellness, or on products like Nakd bars, Clearspring Organic foods and Primal Bars. There are even discounts on kit from Runners Need and Tiny Fish. I like this app the best – it’s environmentally conscious and encourages a holistic approach to fitness and health. So come on, what are you waiting for!
How did you start running and when?
I started running when I moved to New York years ago. I was working for the Australian Consulate and some of my colleagues were training for a marathon. I picked up a training sheet from the NY Cardio Health Board and was impressed by the fact that they started with a 3 minute walk and then a 3 minute run and began and ended with a 5 minute walk. Slowly but surely they built you up to 5 mile, 10 mile races and then half and full marathons. I had always thought that running was an efficient way to keep fit – you can do it anywhere, don’t need equipment (except good shoes) and you can do it alone or with company. I couldn’t afford to join a gym at that time so it seemed like an easy way to start looking after myself. I also thought I would lose weight! I then got married and moved to San Francisco and discovered lots of wonderful places to run and I took part in my first 10k race. I also joined a gym and started to use the treadmill too. I adore running outside but the treadmill was a good alternative when I missed my opportunity to run in the daylight.
My weight has fluctuated all my life because of the craziness of the 60s and 70s when we all indulged in grapefruit and egg diets and living on thin air. I discovered that running for me is a joy and keeps my fitness level high – now it is no longer a means to reducing my weight but instead a way to clear my head, lift my energy levels and keep me healthy. Lately, I’ve been injured, suffered a couple of problems such as adrenalin fatigue and I let the running slide away. I miss it so much. Yes, it was hard to actually get myself up and out there again but when I did it, the feeling was simple euphoria. Like meeting up with an old friend again. I am busy building up my miles and time again and it is great fun. I will not even run with my dogs because running is MY time!
When you are doing as I am now, and building up my miles and times, or when you are training there is nothing better than working on the core muscles and feeling your strength supporting you as you run. That is where Pilates is irreplaceable. You can hone in on tension spots and really stretch out any problem areas whilst at the same time maintaining and improving your strength.
How often do you attend a Pilates class?
Not as often as I want to or should! I like to go to one class a week but two would be superb. When I am on holiday or don’t have access to a class/gym, there are plenty of exercises that I feel confident to do on my own.
Yes, I do! I love the camaraderie and the atmosphere and the sense of achievement. I am quite determined to enter another half-marathon very soon. I am not a marathon runner. I trained for it once but the training became a chore and was taking the joy of running away from me. I am also scared as I am not a young slip of a gal anymore!
How do you motivate yourself to get outside and run when it’s cold and wet?
Well, I grew up in Glasgow so cold and wet is par of the course for me! I suffer more in the heat. I simply look forward to the lovely warm bath or shower that I will get at the end and that wonderful tingling glow that I’ll feel when I’m bathed and dressed. I also verbally insult myself if I have second thoughts!
I am and since I have not been with that group I’ve felt quite bereft! When I said earlier that I was injured and had some ‘health’ issues, I was also very unmotivated and hid myself from the group because I thought I couldn’t keep up. Since then I’ve turned things around, the welcome from the group, the support and the laughs has made me realise what a twit I was not to have just gone along anyway. I also help out with beginners – Sarah B.mentioned in one of your previous interviews that she ran at the back with me and I was thrilled to bits that she remembered that! When I see beginners take off with their running it’s so rewarding and thrilling! And it is also nice to have familiar faces running at the back with me – nothing wrong with that!!
Yes, I feel that it’s always good to have an alternative form of exercise and Pilates and Running do go together like that old horse and carriage!
It is never too late and running keeps me young – another great advantage of being in a group is that if I’m racing sometimes people will hold back and run in to the finish with you or wait for you and give you a big cheer. And we all need a great big cheer now and then!
We do! Thank you Valerie!
And I really, really love to laugh. It is so important in this life of ours. Without a sense of humour, I feel life must be a tad dull. Being amongst people who laugh or make you laugh is life-enhancing and so necessary.
I’m lucky I come from a family with an outrageous sense of humour. So it’s in my genes. When I was a child my brother could make me cry with hysterical, uncontrollable laughter (just thinking about these times make me smile) and actually he’s still the funniest person I know. Next to my husband, who after very many years of marriage, still makes me laugh.
Lucky for him.
Anyway, moving on…
According to a Dr Lee Berk from some odd sounding Public School of Health in California, laughing reduces stress hormones…We can all benefit from a bit of stress reduction in our lives I’d say. Dr Berk also says that laughing can reduce blood pressure, improve cardiac health and it stimulates the immune system.
So, like running, laughter also produces those addictive feel-good endorphins that I for one certainly crave. Also, people who laugh were found to have a more positive outlook on life too.
So here’s a joke:
I cleaned the attic with my husband the other day. Now I can’t get the cobwebs out of his hair.
Why did you start running?
I had run a bit in the past but life had become very hectic at work and home so it was always the thing I let slip. My weight ballooned and three years ago I decided enough was enough. I had seen The Pink Ladies around town and inquired about joining but I put off the day until January 2013. When I weighed myself, I wasn’t surprised but I was horrified. I knew I had to commit to exercising regularly and simply get on with it.
How did you start running?
I joined HRT on 6th January 2013 in the 3 mile Saturday morning group. I felt petrified but well supported.
Valerie “ran” the three mile route with me and I struggled with every step. I was at the back of the group and had a light-bulb moment. I simply decided I didn’t want to be at the back anymore in any aspect of my life. I wanted to find my own space and achieve something. My eldest son wrote me some rules which included running every week and running on my own to improve my self motivation
How does running make you feel?
Running makes me feel so many things, it’s hard to sum up. Initially, it gave me space to work a lot of things out in my mind (and it still does). It makes me feel completely liberated and happy. I love the rhythm of running, the conversations I have with the friends I’ve made and the supportive network I’m part of. But, I also enjoy running on my own and exploring the wonderful area we live in. Seeing the season’s change is magical. I also run wherever I travel and my HRT vest has been to Australia, France, Italy, Majorca, Scotland and numerous places in England!
You’ve lost a lot of weight since you started running more, how did you do this?
I combined running regularly with halving what I used to eat. I cut out nearly all sweet things and replaced meat with fish whenever possible. As the weight started to come off, I could run faster and further and this helped bring my weight down more – a virtual circle! I accepted plateaus and didn’t panic if my weight stayed the same for a month or so. I lost 3 stone in that year and have lost another stone since. My weight fluctuates about half a stone now but it’s under control which feels great.
What difference has the weight loss made to your running and how you feel generally?
The weight loss gave me confidence to enter races and take on challenges I never dreamed would be possible!
In terms of how I feel generally, I feel like the person I used to be. I’m about the same weight as when I got married – a bit heavier. People who haven’t seen me since then don’t think I’ve changed. People I haven’t seen for a few years don’t recognise me!
What do you feel is your greatest running achievement?
Running The British London 10k for a charity close to my heart. I was part of The Compassionate Friends’ team and set myself a goal to run under one hour. I think I did 58 minutes and raised £1300 for a very worthy cause.
Why did you decide to enter the London Marathon?
I ran the Reading Half in March and was thrilled with my time but vowed I would never run a marathon. Then I thought, why not? A work colleague ran it last year and said it was the best day of her life. She bought me the book “Running Like a Girl” and messaged me when entries were open. I didn’t get a ballot place but applied to a few charities I support. I’m now part of #teamprincestrust and training is underway. I’m excited and terrified in equal measure! Any support is welcome but I’m not actively seeking sponsorship until I’ve run 18 miles…
Anything else you think might motivate others to give running a go?
I wish I had discovered my love of running earlier. It has changed my life and if I can do it, believe me, anyone can!
Thank you so much Sarah for this fabulously motivating interview and good luck in the London Marathon.
Do you fancy joining us? http://www.runwithharri.co.uk
On April 24th this year I will be joining zillions of others who have spent the previous months pounding the streets and trails in preparation for the 2016 London Marathon. This will be my fourth time of running it. My first was in 2007 and I never in my wildest dreams believed that I would ever run it again. Ever. But I did. And I’m doing it again. This time for Gorillas.
Throughout my life, the welfare of animals has always been important to me. Compassion and love for them. As a child I plastered my bedroom walls with pictures of animals. No popstars. Just animals. And the one that featured the most was the Gorilla. Actually it was a white, albino one. I had a childhood fantasy of living alone on a mountain, somewhere hot, surrounded by animals – no humans. Hippos featured quite a lot as did wild cats – not sure how either would live on a hot mountain – I obviously hadn’t thought it through!
I was a member of the RSPB and RSPCA and the WWF from an early age. I became vegetarian and later (recently) vegan. So this year I am running the marathon for the Gorilla Organization who work internationally to protect the world’s last remaining gorillas in their natural habitat in central Africa. They work closely with local communities to actively deal with threats such as deforestation, the effects of climate change and poverty.
These extraordinary, beautiful, creatures could soon be extinct. It breaks my heart. We have to save them.
So if you feel you could sponsor me I would be very grateful, thank you. Fundraising page
As someone who advocates and embraces a plant based diet and who doesn’t drink alcohol, I haven’t given anything up for January. Yay!
But I take my hat off to those of you who are making positive health changes this month. It’s not easy. I know, I’ve been there.
When I became Vegan last year I lost weight without even trying. This was like a small miracle to me! Although weight loss wasn’t my primary reason for changing my diet.
I had more energy and felt that I was finally doing something positive for the planet and animal welfare – two things very close to my heart. If you think this is something you might like to try, have a look at Veganuary, nearly 13,000 people have signed up and everything you need to get started is on their wonderful website: Veganuary
Brad Pitt, Sarah Pascoe and Romesh Ranganathan are all publicly giving it a go too – so you’ll be in good company!
Throughout the year I hold Fitness Days here in Marlow, Bucks where my clients get to sample Vegan food and discover the benefits of plant based eating – if you fancy knowing more, take a look at my website: Pilates and Running Fitness days
I gave up drinking alcohol 6.5 years ago. However, this New Year I broke with sobriety and had a glass of fizz. I wanted to see if I would immediately need to drink the whole bottle, which I would have easily done in the past. Thankfully I didn’t. And I didn’t enjoy the fizz at all, it made me feel ill. Which I have to admit was really, really disappointing at the time!
But in the long term I am relieved. I really don’t need to drink any more.
Giving up alcohol for a month was not something I could ever have considered when I was drinking. I am a bit of an all or nothing person. One glass was never enough. So good luck if you are staying dry for January – your body will thank you. And given today’s news about Britain facing a ‘timebomb’ of serious illnessess such as dementia, brain damage and liver disease caused from alcohol abuse, now might be a good time to stake stock!
And if all this comes across as a bit preachy, I don’t care!
As midnight strikes on the 31st December, do you make a list of all the things that you’re going to change in your life?
Or do you just shrug your shoulders and carry on as before because you know from experience that resolutions frequently fail.
But a new year can be a good time for a fresh start. Just turn the page. And begin. The secret is to make your resolution for the right reason and make it achievable.
If you want to lose weight, be realistic – losing a stone in a week only happens in our dreams. Most resolutions fail because we set ourselves such impossible tasks! Change that desired weight loss to a smaller goal and you will be successful.
However, I have an achievable task that you won’t fail at…
Howsabout taking up Pilates in 2016?
Pilates is a funny sort of exercise though. And I know for some it still conjures up images of the grey-rinse brigade who have nothing better to do with their time but lie around in lycra doing odd looking leg-raises and occassionally farting.
My classes are full of all sorts of different types of people. athletes, runners, cyclists, Tae kwon do‘ers, walkers, highflyers, home makers, superstars, world leaders, you name it – they’re in my class. Okay, maybe the last two aren’t true… And not all are women. Pilates is for everyone. And I mean everyone. It’s an amazingly powerful form of exercise that can be life changing on all sorts of levels. And the secret to getting the most out of it, is understanding it.
But to understand it you need to practise it…So what are you waiting for?
Come and join me in 2016. Make it your new year’s resolution and I’ll help you stick to it!
If you need some motivation to start running in 2016 then here’s some!
A recent study published in Gerontology claims that older women (hmmmm, I’m one of those I think…) who have strong legs tend to fare better when it comes to the ageing brain – Dr Claire Steves studied 324 healthy female twins over a ten-year period from 1999, measuring various health and lifestyle predictors.
‘Thinking, learning and memory were measured at both the beginning and end of the study and it was found that leg power was a better predictor of cognitive change than any other lifestyle factors tested. Generally, the twin who had more leg power at the start of the study sustained their cognition better and had fewer brain changes associated with ageing measured after ten years’.
So that means more hill running and squats and evil intervals in 2016 for Harri’s Running team then!
Although the majority of my clients are women I am definitely seeing more men joining our classes and benefiting from this wonderful form of exercise.
Is Pilates for men different than for women? No! Not at all. Everyone works to their own ability and exercises are adapted accordingly. Men generally have tighter hamstrings and a narrower pelvis but other than that, there is no difference.
Pilates was created by a man, Joseph Pilates. He was a gymnast, boxer and military trainer and archive pictures of him in his eighties show a very strong, lean physique.
The Pilates exercises were originally devised for soldiers, boxers and athletes before he moved more towards teaching injured ballet dancers and actors.
“These [Pilates] exercises are really very necessary when you do a lot of sitting… They keep you flexible enough to pull on your socks as you get older… When I get out of the car now, I don’t go arrggghhh…” Martin Amis, novelist and twice-a-week Pilates devotee
The All Blacks and the Welsh Rugby Union is among the high-profile advocates of Pilates…
Alongside Andy Murray who turned to Pilates for help with his recurring back problem.
Pilates is incredibly powerful and compliments all other forms of exercise. Over time, core strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, and posture will all be improved. Joseph Pilates himself said: ‘You will feel better in ten sessions, look better in twenty sessions, and have a completely new body in thirty sessions’.
So why not buy your Father, brother, partner, son, friend, a Christmas voucher for a Pilates class?
It might just change their life!
Oh, and you can buy a voucher from me if a local Marlow class is what you’re after…