Archive | May, 2013

Be Happy : Friday’s Health & Fitness Fact

31 May

Sports Drinks are no more hydrating than water!

We see adverts all around us for the latest sports drinks, that promise to ‘revitalise us’, keep us ‘going longer’, and ‘improve performance’ – however do they actually work?

Oxford University Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine conducted various tests to research into claims made by manufacturers of sports drinks and protein shakes, and concluded that the quality of the evidence from the manufacturers was poor, and that the effect of the products was miniscule.

Sugar

In fact many sports drink are so high in sugar that the average fitness-freak doesn’t burn enough calories in a session at the gym to warrant drinking them!

A bottle of Lucozade Energy contains 266 calories – more than a Mars bar – only 260 calories!

Whilst a bottle of Powerade contains as much as seven teaspoons of sugar – similar to that of a can of coke – and you would need to walk for 30 minutes, or run for 15 to 20 minutes to burn it off!

Make your own sports drinks, and say goodbye to unnecessary sugar!

Water is better at hydration than any other liquid, both before and during exercise, however sports drinks may be seen to be more hydrating as you are more likely to drink larger volumes, therefore leading to better hydration!

You should drink 120-170ml of water for every 15-20 minutes of exercise – so an hour’s worth of exercise would require between 480 and 680ml – an average-sized sports drink bottle … But instead of drinking the sweet sugary option, keep that empty bottle before buying another, and make your own – not only a healthier option, but much cheaper too!

 

Isotonic Sports Drink :

  • 100ml fruit squash
  • 400ml water
  • a very small pinch of salt

Mix it all together and chill in the fridge.

An isotonic sports drink is best for :

  • A boost of carbohydrates
  • Long distance/long duration sports and activities
  • Replacing fluids lost through sweat

 

Hypertonic Sports Drink :

  • 200ml fruit squash
  • 500ml water
  • a very small pinch of salt

Mix it all together and chill in the fridge.

A hypertonic sports drink is best for :

  • A boost of carbohydrates – higher level than isotonic and hypotonic drinks
  • After exercise, to help top up muscle glycogen stores
  • For long distance events like marathons
  • Can also be taken during strenuous exercise.

 

Hypotonic Sports Drink :

  • 50ml fruit squash
  • 500ml water
  • a very small pinch of salt

Mix it all together and chill in the fridge.

A hypotonic sports drink is best for :

  • Quickly replacing fluids without adding carbohydrates
  • Drinking straight after a workout, as they directly target the main cause of fatigue – dehydration – by replacing lost water fast.

Terminology : Rate (Rowing)

31 May

What?

Rate, or Stroke Rate is the number of strokes you take per minute in rowing, also referred to as spm, s/m or rating.

When?

Stroke Rate is used both in the boat, and on an erg during a piece.

Where?

On an erg, the stroke rate is usually displayed in the top right-hand corner of the screen, and is displayed as a number with s/m.

In a boat, the stroke rate is usually measured using a magnet and sensors attached to the underneath of the stroke seat (or under the bow man’s seat in a bowloaded boat), connected to a cox box. As the rower moves up the slide, a measurement is taken and relayed to the cox box.

 

Why?

Stroke rate is used to measure and monitor intensity.

It is important in competitive rowing, as a high stroke rate could mean that the rowers are being hurried and technique is more likely to suffer, subsequently causing the boat to unbalance.

An unbalanced boat means that not all blades are covered properly by the water, and so collectively displace a smaller amount of water, therefore moving the boat forwards less than that of a perfectly balanced boat.

High rating can also cause a crew to tire quickly, however this depends on the level of fitness of the crew. The higher the level of fitness, the higher the stroke rate can be without negatively affecting the balance or technique.

 

And finally …

Try it for yourself …

A low-rate erg session does not have to mean lower intensity!

The best way to maximise your energy output is to row at a lower intensity for longer.

As a good base-level workout for cardio fitness, lower-rate rowing can be used to focus on power.

Try rowing for 20 to 40 minutes at a stroke rate of 18 to 22 – pushing as hard as you can, but taking your time with the recovery – the fitter you get, the you should see your split-time lower, as you are able to use the oxygen more efficiently and push harder with each stroke. Keep a note of your average split time at the end of your piece, and use this to compare your progress over the weeks.

Rowing at a slow rate can burn as much as 400 calories per hour (dependant on your own bodyweight) – so get off the cross trainer and hop on the erg!

Train Hard : MET Regatta Race Prep

30 May

Race Prep

So last night was the last outing pre-MET regatta.

It’s been a very busy week since Twickenham Regatta, with training on Monday (despite it being a Bank Holiday, and day of rest for everyone non-rower!), and outings both Tuesday night, and last night.

The outing on Tuesday was with the crew for Saturday’s racing, and last night’s was for Sunday’s crew – both 8’s. Both outings were to be used for ‘polishing’. The coaches have told us the crews don’t need much help, but just small adjustments now to correct little issues, to gain an extra inch or so each stroke. Every inch counts!

 

A pain in the neck!

My neck is still feeling the strain from last week, and all of the race training hasn’t helped it much – it’s gone from a central, nerve-tingling pain, to the right-hand-side – therefore more to do with the long-term issue, most likely exacerbated by rowing on bow-side, and so putting more tension on my right-hand-side. Something to look into in terms of physio help.

The outings were focussed on racing starts, working on getting catches in together, making sure not to rip the water on the first few strokes, and to keep the finishes long. By the end of each outing, the crews felt much more jelled together.

Last night was particularly tiring, as we rowed up to St Paul’s, and then did 3 x 3-minute pieces with racing starts, rating about 34/36.

Once we get into the rhythm of things, the stroke is lengthened out, the rate levelled and breathing becomes less erratic and more natural, the boat seems much easier to push along. It’s all down to getting into rhythm, and keeping the timing – as soon as one blade comes out a little too early, that throws things and the pacing is then off for a few strokes. It’s whether we can keep composure and get the rhythm back that matters.

 

Derigging

The outing didn’t feel that long – although we did have a long crew discussion before outing in the crew room – but my back was definitely feeling it by the end of the session!

Once we got the boat off the water, it was time to derig ready for loading for the weekend – that should save some time on Friday! 🙂

 

Taking a breather

I’ll be taking the next two evenings off training – having spent all weekend at the club, it would be good to get some good space from it before the weekend, to recompose and take a breather ready for racing!

 

Train Hard : with a little rest this week!

24 May

With the exception of the outing last night, I have had to go easy this week on the training-front after sustaining a rather silly injury whilst at Thorpe Park on my day off from work Monday!

Whilst on one of the roller coaster rides, I forgot to brace myself properly and as a result suffered a neck injury as I was thrown around the Surrey countryside at 80 miles an hour, with several g’s forcing my neck into a rather unnatural position!

After a visit to the doctor, I was given painkillers to reduce the pain and inflammation, and muscle relaxants to let the muscles come out of spasm and rest and repair. Let’s be honest, not great the week of a big regatta – should have factored that in when we were planning the day out!

My neck is feeling a hundred times better than it was Monday evening, and I’m hoping to wake up tomorrow in as little discomfort as possible, as tomorrow is the Twickenham Regatta – my first regatta racing as an Intermediate, so it’s rather exciting!

If there is one good thing that has come out of this rather irritating injury, it is that it has highlighted the underlying issue I have in my neck and shoulders from sitting at a desk, and the importance to stretch all muscles – even if they do not appear tight or sore – to reduce future problems and injuries from happening.

All great with hindsight, hey!

 

So this evening we have the usual faff of derigging the boats and loading them onto the trailer ready for the race tomorrow. We’re hoping to make it as quick-a-job-as-possible – the other intermediates find it hilarious to watch us each time we load and unload the trailers, but I think they forget that they were once novices too! Practice makes perfect, and we’ve had a fair bit of experience of it all now, so it should be a pretty straightforward job … we’ll see!

Terminology : RICE (Injuries)

24 May

What?

RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.

 

When?

RICE is an acronym referring to the treatment used to treat soft tissue injuries such as sprains, strains, muscle pulls or tears, and should be applied as soon as possible to help prevent complications and help injuries repair faster, and in particular when inflammation is present.

It is also sometimes referred to as PRICE – P standing for Protection.

Where and How?

Rest

The first 24-48 hours of an injury are considered the critical period, and activities which cause pain to the affected area should be minimised during this period.

Without rest, continual strain is placed on the affected area which can lead to increased inflammation, pain and can potentially cause further injury. Resting is important in promoting effective healing, and to avoid abnormal repair.

Using a splint, sling or crutches may help to ensure the injured area receives adequate rest.

It is important to know when to stop, as minor injuries sustained during sporting activities could be minimised by not continuing the exercise at the first sign of injury.

Running off‘ an injury is a misconception, and NOT to be advised! Whilst it may appear possible to continue exercising on an injury immediately after, this can be down to the release of adrenalin and the functioning of nerves. Nerve fibres that respond to mechanical signals such as touch can over-ride the impulses from pain nerve fibres – a theory known as pain gate theory – combine this with other factors such as an athlete’s mentality to override the pain – ultimately an athlete can actually make an injury much worse. In this case, it is better to swallow your pride and stop short, than carry on and cause greater damage that can put you out of sport for a longer period of time, or in a worst case scenario; completely.

Ice

Ice is a great natural anti-inflammatory treatment – it can limit and reduce the swelling caused by reducing the blood flow to the injured area, and also provides some pain relief to the injury. It decreases the amount of bleeding by vasoconstriction , and reduces the risk of cell death by decreasing the rate of metabolism.

Ice should ideally be applied during the first 48 hours after injury.

Ice the sprain or strain for 20 minutes at a time every 3 to 4 hours – making sure not to exceed 20 minutes as this can damage the skin and can cause frostbite. Whilst reducing blood flow helps to minimise swelling, icing for too long can also be detrimental to healing – if the blood flow is reduced too much it can stop the delivery of essential nutrients and removal of waste products from the injured area, and so increase the injury period.

Cheap freezer packs can be created using bags of frozen vegetables – peas and sweetcorn work well! – alternatively most chemists sell freezer packs for injuries – these are usually soft gel packs which can be used both to freeze and heat. Keep moving the ice pack around the area during the 20 minutes. Make sure to wrap the ice pack in a towel, to protect the skin.

A good indicator is to allow the skin enough time to fully rewarm before icing the area again.

Compression

Compression helps to limit and reduce swelling, and can also provide pain relief by reducing the edematous swelling from the bodies natural inflammatory process.

Although swelling is inevitable, too much swelling can can cause loss of function, increased pain and restricted blood flow.

An easy way to compress the area of the injury is to wrap an elastic bandage around the swollen part, but making sure not to wrap the area too tight – the fit should be tight, but still allow for expansion when muscles contract and fill with blood. Wrap the area, overlapping the elastic wrap by one-half of the width of the wrap.

Elevate

Elevating injuries help control swelling by reducing the blood flow to the area, and is most effective when the injury is raised above the level of the heart. For example, for an injured ankle, try to lay down with your foot propped on one or two pillows, and is particularly important at night.

Elevation is important as it allows for increased venous return of blood to the systemic circulation – meaning the circulation of blood flow back to the heart, to allow for quicker removal of waste products from the affected area, also resulting in less edema – accumulation of fluids in the body’s tissues.

 

Why?

Applying RICE relieves pain, and can help shorten the period of recovery, to soft-tissue injuries.

It is considered a first-aid treatment, rather than a cure, with the aim being to manage discomfort and internal bleeding.

Following an injury to the body, the body usually reacts with pain and swelling. This is generally as a warning to the body, to let it rest, so as not to further the damage.

During this process the muscles spasm, helping to create a natural splint for the affected area, however this can cause complications with blood flow, and causes further pain – by applying RICE, the body is allowed to rest and recover.

Along with the above treatment, it may be necessary to medicate with painkillers and anti-inflammatories – paracetamol and ibuprofen should be enough in most cases. However remember to check the dosage before medicating.

After the initial 48 hours, most sprains and strains should begin to heal. If pain and or swelling has not started to subside, make sure to see your doctor.

Once healing has begun, light massage can be used to help reduce the formation of scar tissue, and improve the tissue healing, along with gentle stretching to work on the range of motion in the injured area. Heat may also be helpful to increase the blood supply back to the area once the swelling has gone down.

After the injury has healed, you should then move onto exercises to strengthen the area, so as to prevent a repeat injury. Booking an appointment with a physiotherapist may help with the progress of strengthening.

 

 

And finally …

Top tips …

I’d recommend as a good home first-aid kit to keep three gel-packs as a precautionary measure; keep two in the freezer, so that there is at least one freezing whilst one is being used, and a third to be used as a warm compress.

Eat Well : Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (& Cherry Chocolate Chip!)

17 May

I had a craving, and only ever having tried baking cakes before, I wanted to give gluten-free cookies a go, and so put the recipe to the test last night!

insta_2013_05_17a

Ingredients:

  • 75g butter
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 150g gluten-free flour
  • 150g chocolate, either chips or bar broken into chunks

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F/Gas Mark 4.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg, vanilla essence and baking power.
  4. Stir the flour into the mixture.
  5. Add the chocolate chips/chunks to the batter and stir until evenly distributed.
  6. Spoon the mixture into small balls and place on a baking tray – allowing space for the cookies to spread a little – and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until golden.

Nutrition per Cookie (makes 10-12):

  • kCalories : 217
  • Sugar : 15.7g
  • Fat : 10.7g
  • Saturated Fat : 6.7g
  • Salt : 92.0mg

And for a variation on the recipe …

I tested out a fruity version of the recipe, by simply adding chopped cherries to the mix.

I took a handful of frozen cherries, chopped them all in half and stirred these into the batter, and was nicely surprised to find that the cookies stayed together and didn’t crumble too much.

By adding cherries to the mix, it makes them a little more chewy, and dark cherries work really well with the chocolate.

A yummy treat with the afternoon cup of tea – naughty, but nice, and gluten-free!

Be Happy : Instagram – 16th May 2013

16 May

insta_2013_05_17

recipe to follow soon!

Be Happy : Blog Refresh!

15 May

Everyone deserves a little spring clean – and that doesn’t just apply to the car, or your home …

I’ve given my blog a little refresh ready for summer!

So welcome to the newly refreshed …

 

Train Hard, Eat Well, Be Happy

 

In the weeks to come, I’d like this site to become a tool for anyone interested in health, fitness and food!

A place to share tips, information, recipes and inspiration and motivation to others, along with my blog updates on my own training.

So to the gym-goers, fitness freaks and foodies – whether you are training for a marathon, want to lose a few pounds or just enjoy a good run around the park, this is for you!

Regular updates to be developed over the coming weeks will include:

Monday’s Motivator; for when you need that little bit of inspiration after a busy weekend!

Wednesday’s Workout; short and sweet workouts for you to have a go at – from exercises you can do at your desk, to stretches in the kitchen – and the best bit being, you won’t need to go out of your way to include a Wednesday Workout in your week!

Friday’s Factswhether it’s fitness related, or general health and diet – tips and reminders to keep you on the straight and narrow just before the weekend!

Sunday’s Serving; I love to bake and cook but Sunday afternoon is my only free time to do this, and so I plan to test out new gluten-free recipes on Sundays, and share them with you here.

 

I’m forever updating the site, and looking for ways to improve and keep it interesting and useful – therefore if anyone has any comments or questions they’d like to share, I’d LOVE to hear from you.

 

Meanwhile, Happy Wednesday!

Charlotte

– a fitness-freak with a passion for food and life!

Train Hard : 2km Testing – Round 2

13 May

It’s been a couple of weeks since the last test, and we’ve had races and camp in between, but here it is – my results from tonight’s 2km.

Time : 8.00.1
Average Split : 2.00.0
Average Stroke Rate : 28
Weight Pre-testing : 56.1kg

Split breakdown :
0-500m : 1.55.4
500-1000m : 2.00.4
1000-1500m : 2.03.0
1500-2000m : 2.01.3

 

Building on the last 2km, I had a plan and I tried to stick to it, but I found myself stupidly pushing at the wrong times.

I went off hard and quick in the first 100m, to get myself a good head start and got my split down to 1.50.0, however as I then eased out to get a consistent pace I aimed for my previous split of 1.58.0 and failed to stick at it and couldn’t keep my rate high enough. I just didn’t have the energy in my legs or glutes to push harder, and my arms wouldn’t move any quicker.

I’ve lost a kilo since the last test, I hadn’t eaten much today and last week I had come down with the start of a virus – I’m hoping this may be the reason I just couldn’t find the energy to push for more.

As I finished the test my cough kicked off again, and I could feel a lot of gunk loosened off in my chest.

I’m a little annoyed with myself – I’m not going to lie! I’m far to competitive not to be! But having said that, it’s not an awful time in the grand scheme of things, it would have just been nice to get it a little lower – it’s only a difference of 4.4 seconds on my last test, and I have missed the last few erg sessions as I keep running myself in to the ground! I’m still trying to master the art of balancing all angles of life!

Annoyingly though, heart-rate-wise I recovered quickly, and more importantly it didn’t just give up mid-erg!

Sports Tracker Workout Results for 2km testing

Train Hard : Monday’s Motivator

13 May

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