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Category Archives: Kit

Any talk relating to equipment, clothing or general gear we use

Pregnancy – Foam Roller

Being a runner Foam Roller has became my best friend. Anyone who is using it knows the benefits of foam roller and how amazing it feels and of course painful at the same time. Hence the motto: No Pain, No Gain!

The benefits of using foam roller are endless. Not only is it a cheaper way to get a “deep tissue massage” which is available at any time, it also has following benefits:

– Range of motion
– Balance
– Core stability
– Body Awareness – you are more aware when something doesn’t feel quite right!
– Range of motion
– Flexibility
– Coordination
– Focus
– Body relaxation – one of the main reasons I continue to use foam roller during my pregnancy.

I continue to use foam roller during my pregnancy. Even at this late stage of pregnancy (39 weeks today though with more care due to Relaxin Hormone). It really helps me with sore muscles especially legs. I think that is why I don’t suffer that much from cramps in the legs, calves and water retention.

I use foam roller either first things in the morning (warm from bed and after little warm up session), after a bath or shower, or of course after training.

Following Foam Roller Massages I use (or did) during my pregnancy:

Upper Back Massage
Great for posture and relieving upper back muscles tension (you know growing breasts pulling you down and ruin your posture!). Also opens your chest, which means more oxygen supply. I did stop doing this massage after 6 months into pregnancy. Bigger bump meant I was too heavy and it didn’t feel good or safe for me to continue.

Hamstring Massage
Does what is says. Continue doing until this late stage of pregnancy. Promotes blood flow and relieving muscles tension.

Calf Massage
One I really recommend and love doing. With continuously weight gain calves do get a battering. Continue doing at this late stage of pregnancy.

Inner Thigh Massage
Only did this massage type until 5 months pregnant. Became too uncomfortable for me to continue due to growing bump. Just didn’t feel right or safe.

Quad Massage
Great for tight muscles. Also promotes blood flow and helps with water retention. Though do with care, growing bump (nearly touching the floor!). Only do it if you feel really safe. I only do it if I am not too tired and have the confidence that my arms with support my weight.

IT band Massage
Relieving tension in the upper thigh. I stopped doing this massage after 6 months. Became too heavy and didn’t want to put more pressure on my hip/pelvis.

Gluteal Massage
Improves blood circulation to the legs, helps with water retention and of course releases tight gluteal muscles (and I find it forms nice bum :)). I continue to do it. I sometime also use the blue ball (see picture below).

Roller Squat
It does have several benefits. First squatting, you can go really deep down which improves your leg strength (important to carry all the extra weight during pregnancy). Second gentle back massage, depending how deep you go from the upper to lower back. I also found it help me with the posture and opening my chest for better breathing.

You can find loads of videos on YouTube on how to perform each foam roller massage. Important is that your muscles are warm, you feel confident and have the strength to hold your own weight (which can be tricky with ever so growing bump and weight gain).

Also see our blog Self Massage for Runners

Friends for Life!

 

Foam Roller

Happy Foam Rolling! Be safe, be healthy!

Irina

P.S. I prefer the orange foam roller. It gets really deep into the muscles.

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Posted by on 14 April, 2014 in Health & Wellbeing, Kit, Pregnancy

 

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First bike ride since my crash – Learning to ride a road bike!

Since my ill-fated first ride attempt a while back, I have not been back out on my nice shiny (and now slightly scratched up in places) Giant Defy 2 Compact road bike for various reasons (injury, illness and then running prep for the Bristol 10k).

Two days after the 10k run, on a nice midweek day-off, the sun was shining and I mounted up for my second lesson in how to ride a road bike!

As an adult, I have only ever been a ‘leisure’ cyclist, riding occasionally (and sometimes a short hop to and from work) and never very far, on mountain bikes or more recently a hybrid bike. I actually thought I was a pretty proficient cyclist! That was, until my first couple of test rides on this road bike, and my first proper ride which resulted in a crash after only a few minutes on the road!

So, I thought I might as well put my embarrassment to one side, and blog about my adventures in learning to ride this thing, it is not as straight forward as I thought it would be, and I have a new found respect for those who compete in road races!

The whole reason for buying one is because I have a thing about Triathlons, and I would love to complete an Olympic distance one some day. The hybrid bike is all well and good for a beginners distance, but to put more serious mileage down, I need a quicker and more efficient bike, hence making the purchase. Being a decent runner now and a fairly strong swimmer, the cycling part is definitely my weakness in Triathlon, and it is one I really need to get in order if I am to grow in this sport!

There is so much that is different about a proper road bike than with a hybrid bike, and this had made my learning curve pretty steep, and very urgent!

  • Thin road tyres versus fat hybrid (or mountain bike) knobbly tyres, meaning the balance is completely altered, as is hitting any obstacles!
  • More aggressive seating position versus relaxing upright and enjoying the view, adding to a change in balance and speed.
  • Drop handlebars versus straight and wide grip handle bars, giving three different ways to (learn to) position your hands and they’re more narrow overall which dramatically affects balance, especially in an emergency!
  • Brake levers on the front of the drop handlebars versus brake levers being always accessible from the straight bars. On occasion I have failed to brake efficiently due to having to think about moving to the levers! 😕
  • Gear levers incorporated into the brake levers versus a nice twisty gear change, or little thumb levers where you never need to change your hand position! Not only a different position to what I’m conditioned to, but a different movement to get used to.
  • Clip-in pedals and shoes versus big wide pedals and trainers. OMG! For me, the steepest (and fasted) learning curve of them all, and even though it pained me, I was relieved to see another unfortunate cyclist falling recently in a similar fashion to my own fall (albeit more stationary), so clearly it happens quite a lot!
  • Lighter frame and wheels versus big heavy and chunky setup, adding to the balancing act!
  • Much much faster gearing especially when combined with the thin tyres and light weight, means the thing positively flies along, the world goes by quicker (and everything in it!), which produces a lot of exhilaration and excitement!!!
  • …and maybe more yet to discover??

Most important for me on today’s ride was learning to clip-out in time to glide to a graceful and controlled stop! Happily I have become used to it now, and actually started to struggle more with clipping back in after successfully clipping out so many times, Lol! I guess that will get easier with time and practice.

Other things I noticed as a novice on this ride, making sudden turns becomes a bit scarier (and more wobbly) with such a finely balanced bike (and being used to a wide gripped straight handlebar), flies hit you much harder (I took a bee right on the adams-apple at full speed downhill, which made me jump!), and I now understand why everyone advised me to get padded shorts, as those rougher parts of the surface really ‘go through you’ in the contact zone! In fact my seat post slowly sank over this ride because of that, so another lesson is to make sure all the bolts are secure before heading out for a long ride! On the way home I required shorter legs… 😉

Still much learning to do, and this was only a 10 mile session of varying speeds, but I’m getting much more used to the bike now. And because of the speed of the thing and the excellent gearing, it really encourages you to attack those uphills, so my legs were satisfyingly wobbly afterwards too (although some of that is down to my 10k run 2 days before I hope!).

All in all, a successful session on the bike, if I am to judge success as ‘not falling off’ in these early attempts… 😀

Looking forward to the next one more now!

Paul.

 
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Posted by on 9 May, 2013 in Cycling, Kit, Triathlon

 

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The Circle of Shame – Shoes! Need or greed?

Our blogs are all about health, fitness and food, however we also think a lot about our mental health as well, so this post has some relevance to our quest for happiness through health… (it was also triggered through acquiring some cycling kit for my up-coming triathlon season)

I am lucky enough to work for the UWE (University of the West of England) who take part in the Cycle to Work Scheme where employees can receive a sizable tax break when buying a cycle directly from their gross salary. Along with my new road bike, I bought some clip-in shoes, and when I got them home I suddenly realised just how many pairs of shoes I own, and by comparison remembered some of the people I’ve met on my extensive travels who either only have a single pair of footwear to their name, share a pair with family or friends (or the entire village), or have no shoes at all!

This has led me to feel quite a lot of shame in how well-off I actually am that I not only have a roof over my head and don’t want for anything, but also have an excess of items in my possession! When I left for my round-the-world adventure back in 2008, I left very little behind, and I learned on my trip that possessions don’t make people happy, in fact they tie people down, clutter the mind and a lot of them don’t really serve much purpose. To that end I have been careful to not slip back into that lifestyle of buying and collecting ‘stuff’. Yet here I find myself reflecting on owning 13 pairs of shoes and feeling pretty bad about it knowing that there are people out there who literally have none… Each of them has a ‘use’, but do I really need each pair? Probably not if I’m honest about it! Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 14 February, 2013 in Health & Wellbeing, Kit

 

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New road bike! Giant Defy 2 Compact

Giant Defy 2 Compact

Last year I completed my first ever triathlon, and it seemed to hit the spot. I used my hybrid bike to take part, which does a job, but if I am to take part in more triathlon (and maybe some duathlon), plus up my training mileage, I need a better bike. Specifically, a road bike.

My employer is part of the Cycle Scheme, so I have taken advantage of that and am now the proud owner of a Giant Defy 2 Compact! This will be the first time I have ever had to ride with clip-in pedals, and so I had to purchase pedals, shoes, cleats etc as well… I’m pretty nervous about starting out! Hopefully I can avoid any falls!

An update will follow after I get a chance to ride it for the first time, which will be in daylight and in the dry! 😉

Excited much…!! 🙂

Paul. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 14 February, 2013 in Cycling, Kit, Triathlon

 

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Runners Knee

I’ve had to overcome some knee pain in the past year or so and this video posted on Runners World helps explain the issue and gives some good techniques to alleviate it. Often new runners will have an issue with the knees.

When I first had pain I used ice to relieve it immediately after the run and began doing more work on strengthening the muscles around the joint. More recently Irina purchased a firm foam roller, and this really helps with that as demonstrated in the video. Slowly but surely my knee issues have all but gone. The roller has also helped me sort out my over sensitive hamstrings too!

Some people can be put off by the added cost, but we found a great website, Physio Supplies, with a good selection that are not too expensive…

This is an essential piece of kit for a runner!

Paul.

 
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Posted by on 11 October, 2012 in Health & Wellbeing, Injury, Kit, Recovery, Running

 

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Keeping track of our Runs

Until July this year we added each of our runs (estimated) distances & times to our calendar on the kitchen wall. In July we started using the RunKeeper iPhone App to track routes, distances & times, and having kept at it, it now provides us with long-term stats… very cool if you’re a bit of a geek (like Paul), and very useful if you’re interested in seriously improving your running fitness, especially for a specific event or race.

The App itself can map your runs using GPS, or follow a saved route. It will also play any playlist you select, or can give training prompts if you choose to use that feature (we haven’t yet). It’s nice when running a distance to get some feedback regarding distance and pace. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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