Tania
It’s just before midnight. It’s cold. I’m still recovering from a cold. I’ve been up since 4.15am. I’ve spent a good portion of my day on my feet or running around. I would love to be in bed right now. But I’m not. I’m leaning over a barrier, reaching for high fives from people I don’t know. I’m clapping and cheering to hopefully give people a last burst of energy to make it down that finishing chute before the clock strikes 12. No, they’re not going to turn into pumpkins if they don’t make it. They just won’t make that exclusive list of Ironman finishers.

stu-run-ironman2I just witnessed my fiancée take the journey from 70.3 to Ironman finisher. In fact, he was standing on the road and I had to give him the final push (my seal of approval) before he committed to making the journey happen. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart. Nor is it something you should attempt without first getting buy-in from your nearest and dearest. Yes, the day is hard slog. But that’s nothing compared to the nine months prior.

There is some real magic in the air in Taupo, and it’s just on steroids for Ironman weekend. The nerves are almost palpable. The day starts with a local group of men emerging from the lake on their waka and doing a haka to pump up the crowd. The mass swim start fills the lake with limbs and water spray. There are intense sights like the guy cycling past holding his seat, not prepared to give up and not able to sit down to let his quads rest. The very vocal Iron Maori supporters. The slight smiles on exhausted faces when you cheer on someone using their name. The guy with the ukulele, sitting in the dark, playing Bob Marley for those still pounding the pavement on their marathon after the sun has set.

But back to the finish line. Setting out to complete something as massive as an Ironman is such an incredible goal. It’s a long journey for everyone taking up the challenge and that journey is filled with many, many hours in the pool, out on the bike and in your running shoes. I am so, so proud of everyone who was brave enough to state it as a goal; to enter the event; to make it to the start line; to keep pushing to make all those cut-off times; to make it to each Transition; to cross that finish line; to be an IRONMAN. You are all such an inspiration to me. Even though I won’t be joining your ranks, you inspire me to set and smash my own goals. And a special thank you to Stu for taking me on this incredible journey with you.
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Stu, Tania

It’s summer, finally. Sort of. Most of us are back at work now, full of food, good intentions and a few too many celebratory wines or beers. This time of year is one of New Year’s Resolutions, which often come with new gym memberships. It’s also the perfect time of year to build new habits and make the most of the beautiful country we live in. Whether you’re city based, in the country or near the ocean, strapping on a pair of running shoes and getting outside is not only a great way to get fit and smash your resolutions, it allows you to see your neighbourhood from a new perspective. Not to mention the wonders that fresh air does for your mind. You can’t get that sweating away in some over air-conditioned gym filled with other New Year’s Resolution makers!

Some tips for running in your area:

1. Get to know your area. Get onto old Google Maps and find your nearest park, put your shoes on and get out there to familiarise yourself with it. Some parks have trails, fitness equipment, hills and great grassy areas where you can do core strength exercises, sprints, run drills. Or just get to know some of the streets in your neighbourhood.

2. Close proximity is key. This can help with motivation and ease of access. Being able to head straight out from the office can help prevent that dip in motivation that occurs when we walk in the door after a long day to spy the couch and the TV remote. It will also help you process everything that happened at work so that you can come home and be more present with your family and friends.

3. Know what works for you. Maybe you run best on your own. Maybe you need a buddy to help keep you motivated. Maybe you need a run group to learn from. There are lots of different types of running groups out the re – big, small, boot camp, technique focused and many more. Get in touch with the coach or organiser and ask for a complimentary trial session. This way you can see if it’s for you or not. And if it isn’t – find another group!

4. Variety is the spice of life: Make sure you try a few different running routes in your area. This is really important to keep your motivation levels up. Running the same route every time can become boring, the brain switches off and injury can creep in. Try running the same route in the opposite direction even. It is amazing what you see from a different angle sometimes.

5. Have a goal. It doesn’t have to be to run up Everest or to run a marathon. Although there’s nothing wrong with those goals, it does help if you can break them down into smaller, more manageable steps. Want to complete a full marathon? Maybe book in a half marathon first. Or even a 5k or 10k race. Make an action plan for the year, that’s realistic for you to stick to, and you’ll be running down that finishing chute in no time.

Summer is definitely the perfect time to build up those good habits for when winter creeps in and can start eating away at your motivation. Go on, get outside, enjoy your local area and get fit!
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Tania
I am pretty comfortable admitting I’m addicted to my phone. I use it a lot for work which means it’s never far away from my hand. At the same time, I absolutely loved my digital detox in Fiji recently, where I had ten days with zero connectivity to the rest of the world. Just quality time with my boyfriend, my friends, the sunshine and the salt water. I still had my phone with me though, as even without the connection to the world, my phone is filled with apps that keep me fit, happy and healthy. Below are my top three that I don’t think I could live without. bag-and-hands 1 Giant Mind. Their team recently upgraded this app and I am loving the sleek new look. The meditation on this app is mantra based and doesn’t change from day to day. You start off with a 12 day programme to get you used to the style of meditation. From there you can either progress on to the 30 day challenge or just set the timer anywhere, any time, and away you go. I’m up to Day 24 of the challenge and I’ve definitely noticed that I’ve got a much calmer approach to life. Also, if I’m feeling stressed, I can just take a moment to think the mantra to myself and I’m immediately transported back to that meditative state of bliss. (iOS and Android) Janet Stone Yoga. Yoga classes are pretty magical places. The energy that’s created when people come together to go yoga is almost impossible to recreate. But sometimes it’s just not possible to get to a class. Maybe you’re traveling. Or maybe life just gets a bit too busy and you’ve only got 20 minutes to spare. This is when having a home practice is so important. But sometimes even thinking of a flow of postures can be too much if your brain is full up from work. Or you want something a little different than your usual. I’ve been using the Janet Stone Yoga app for a little while now and I find it a great way to practice as it allows me to switch my thinking brain off and just follow the yoga flow. Plus she’s an absolutely amazing teacher. (iOS only sorry) Couch to 5k. I am not much of a runner. I did a half-marathon once. I haven’t said I’ll never do another one, but I’ve only laced up my shoes a couple of times since (and it’s been almost a year). But when I was learning to run I had a habit of running for as long as I could (not very long) and then walking for a bit (generally, the rest of the way). Not exactly the best way to get from being a non-runner to a runner. With the app, you work through a programme that slowly builds you up. The first ‘run’ alternates between 60 seconds of running and 90 seconds of walking. By not running for as long as I possibly could and burning myself out, I have the energy to do the other bursts of running. And by having the walking timer on, I will actually start running again, rather than just walking the rest of the way. There’s also a Couch to 10k app for when you’ve ticked a 5k run off the goal list. (iOS and Android) I’m sure there are lots that could be added to this list! Feel free to share yours in the comments below.
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Stu
Rest and recovery are very important aspects of any successful training program. There is a difference between rest and recovery or how to implement them both into your training programme. Rest can be defined as a combination of sleep and time spent not training, it is the easiest to understand and implement. How you spend this time and sleep is very important. Recovery, refers to actions taken to maximize your body’s repair. These include nutrition, hydration, posture, heat, ice, stretching, self-myofascial release, stress management, compression, also time spent standing versus sitting versus lying down. Recovery encompasses more than just muscle repair. It involves chemical and hormonal balance, nervous system repair, mental state, and more. We have different systems that need to recover. These include structural, neurological and hormonal. Our structural system includes muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. Muscles recover the quickest because they receive direct blood flow. Tendons, ligaments, and bones receive indirect blood flow and therefore can take longer to recover and be more susceptible to overtraining stress. For most, the goal should not be set for perfection or include exactly correct levels of each factor – leave that for professional athletes to strive after. Our goal is to prioritize life and maximize performance without personal sacrifice. Kick back, relax, and enjoy an evening out with friends. Order your favorite beer and get the ribs as this may mentally benefit you more, allow you to unwind, and put you in a better place to perform as opposed to another solitary night of broccoli and chicken. A balanced combination of rest and recovery along with proper diet and exercise should be a part of any fitness regimen. Unless you are competing at an elite level, you should follow the follow the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of your time can be spent focusing on diet and exercise, while twenty percent should be left for enjoying life. In other words, don’t let yourself get too wrapped up in perfection. Below is a break down of the subcomponents of rest and recovery to provide you with better insight on how to improve performance and overall quality of life. A healthy and happy athlete not only performs better, but has the ability to give time and energy to friends and family.


Elements of Rest and Recovery

 1. Sleep

Sleep is the most important action for recovery. Healthy levels of sleep help to provide mental health, hormonal balance, and muscular recovery. You need to get enough sleep, which is 7-10 hours for most people. Everyone has individual needs based on their lifestyle, workouts, and genetic makeup.
  • Hours slept before twelve at night are proven to be more effective than those slept after.
  • Sleep in the most natural setting possible, with minimal to no artificial lights.
  • Wakeup with the sun if possible.
  • Fresh air and cooler temperatures help to improve the quality of sleep.
  • 2.Hydration

Drinking enough water is vital to health, energy, recovery, and performance. Athletes tend to be very attentive to hydration levels close to and during competitions, but keeping that awareness during training and recovery times can make just as large an impact. Water helps in all of our daily bodily functions. A few examples are more efficient nutrient uptake, lower levels of stress on the heart, improved skin quality, and better hair health. The simplest way to check hydration is to look at your urine. If it is clear to pale yellow you are hydrated. The darker and more color in your pee the less hydrated you are and more water you need to drink. That is unless you have been taking vitamin supplements which may change the colour of your urine temporarily. Water is the best way to hydrate. Sports drinks are only needed for before, during, and after strenuous training or completion, don’t drink them simply because they taste good.
  • Flavorings and other additives only give your system more to process and cause it further strain. Stick to adding a lemon or lime.
  • 3. Nutrition

Everything you eat has the ability to help heal your body, or to poison/injure it. Alcohol and processed foods contain toxins and are harmful to the body. Eating clean, eating close to the source, and eating balanced meals in moderation is proven to be effective to remain healthy and increase performance.
  • Create a meal plan and shop ahead for the week.
  • Have healthy snacks readily available that you enjoy.
  • Plan ahead for dinner out by helping to pick the place you’re eating and looking at the menu ahead of time.
  • 4. Posture
We spend more time sitting in the present day compared to the last decade and the decade before that. This is not a restful position; sitting or standing with poor posture is harmful. It can lead to back or neck pain, specifically for those with desk jobs.
  • Find a chair that is ergonomically correct.
  • If you struggle to sit upright use a lumbar roll in the small of your back, sit on a stool without a back, sit on a swiss ball (all in moderation).
  • Don’t lean to one side or on an object for support while standing. Instead you should try step standing, ie. Putting one foot up on a ledge or step for a period of time and engage the straight leg glute muscle and activate your core.
  • 5. Stretching
You need enough flexibility to move well and remain pain-free. Include dynamic stretching in your warm-ups while saving static stretching for after your workouts. Yoga is a fantastic way of gaining flexibility and also strength.

6. Self-Myofascial Release

Tight muscles and trigger points sometimes need assistance to return to healthy normal tissue. Use a foam roller to keep your myofascia in good health.

7. Heat, Ice, and Compression

Use these techniques for recovering from injuries or a very stressful training or racing experience such as a marathon, triathlon or any intense sporting experience.

8. Conclusion

Spending some time focusing on rest and recovery can pay great dividends. We could describe it as ‘legal performance enhancement’. The most frustrating thing for me as a clinician is that people don’t spend enough time focusing on rest or recovery. Dedicating additional time to the three categories of sleep, hydration, and nutrition will increase your output ability, decrease recovery time, and reduce your risk of injury. Don’t ignore your body until it becomes too late and you’re forced to take unnecessary time off due to injury, burnout, or worse. Your body is a bank account, look after it!.
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