GDPR

Due to the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which I’m sure you’ve already heard about, I’m writing this post to let you know about changes I am making to my privacy notice and the way I keep in touch with you.

These changes mean that you now have more control over how your data is used. Please take some time to read my new Privacy Policy which explains what data I collect, why I collect it, how I use it, who I share it with and other information relating to the privacy of your data.

As a subscriber of my blog on Michelle Coveney Fitness, you don’t need to do anything more and I’ll continue to send you an email each time a new post is published.

If you would prefer not to receive an email each time I publish a post then you can unsubscribe from my blog by clicking on the link at the bottom of this email.

Mindful Running

mindful runningOften when running alone it is nice to just let your thoughts wander, however have you ever considered Mindful Running? This is where you focus your mind on the present moment, and bring an awareness to your body, breathing, sensations, thoughts, moods and your surrounding environment.

By practicing mindfulness, you can improve your mental well-being or use it as a tool to improve your running performance. The body scan and counting your footsteps (exercises 1 & 2, below) can very useful in races as a tool to occupy your mind, stopping you becoming anxious about niggles or discomfort, as well as keeping you focused on maintaining your pace and form, particularly when the going gets tough.

To run mindfully, try using the following as a guide:

  1. Body Scan – take time to observe the following about your body as you run:
  • The rhythm, sound and sensation of your breath
  • Your shoulders – do they feel tight or relaxed?
  • Your arms – are they relaxed and swinging freely, or is there tension, are you clenching your fists?
  • Your posture – is it upright and tall, slumped or hunched over?
  • Your hips – do they feel mobile or tight, do they inhibit your leg action?
  • Your legs – does your stride feel free or restricted? If there is tightness or discomfort, where is it?
  • Your feet – do they land heavily or softly? Can you hear your footsteps?
  • Return your attention to your breathing again and observe its rhythm, sound and sensation.
  1. Focus on your breathing and now slowly count your right (or left foot) as it lands. Count 1 to 10 and keep repeating, until you reach a calm, relaxed and meditative state.                                                                                                                                 
  2. Now turn your attention to your thoughts and mood, acknowledge each of the following then let it pass without dwelling on it.
  • Any thoughts that enter your mind
  • Your underlying mood
  • Why you are running today?
  • How running has altered your mood and feelings?
  • Acknowledge the positive benefits of running, how it makes you feel/be better and how this will have a positive knock-on effect for the people you will encounter during the day. Running doesn’t just benefit you but those around you as well.
  1. Finally, bring your awareness back to your surroundings:
  • What do you see?
  • What can you hear?
  • What sensations do you feel, do you feel warmth, cold or the wind?

Walk Your Way to Fitness

winter-walkIn the run up to Christmas it can be a struggle to stick to your fitness plans, and with the recent very cold weather it can be easy just to opt to stay indoors. However the frosty weather with beautiful blue sunny skies make it a perfect time to get out for a walk in the countryside or around your local park. Going for a winter walk will help you to achieve the recommended 10000 steps per day and exposure to the sun will help give your body a much needed vitamin D boost. So wrap up warm and get out TODAY for that brisk walk – you will be glad that you did!

Sutton Benger Running Group support World Mental Health day with #runandtalk

Towp_20161012_19_03_48_pro celebrate World Mental Health Day on 10th October, England Athletics encouraged many groups like ours to hold a #runandtalk session in order to improve mental well-being through running and to break down the stigma associated with mental health by getting people talking about it.

So on Wednesday 12th October, instead of our usual coached running session, we all headed out for a social group run and enjoyed the chance to chat whilst we ran. Furthermore we all donated our weekly training fee to the mental health charity ‘Mind’. Thanks to the generosity of the runners in the group we raised a fantastic amount of £55!

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As runners we all appreciate how running benefits our mental health – running offers us all the chance to switch-off from the pressures of everyday life, enjoy a relaxed chat without distractions, or sound-off to our running buddies and get a problem off our chest. Added to that running in the fresh air, especially through beautiful countryside, is very therapeutic as it helps us to feel more connected to nature. And at the end of a run we all feel so much better as our bodies release those feel good endorphins!

If you would like to improve your mental well-being through running and would like to join us or want some help to get started, then please get in touch.

 

Mont Ventoux: My Cycling Challenge

During a family holiday to the south of France, my husband and I grabbed the opportunity to achieve a long held ambition to cycle up Mont Ventoux – the most feared climb in the Tour de France. We knew that this would be a huge challenge for us both; as the last time we had done anything like this was 20 years ago when we were both much younger, very active cyclists. In recent years neither of us had done much cycling so we were not quite sure what we would be letting ourselves in for; and we would be relying entirely upon our fitness gained from running to get us through the challenge.

We had booked some bikes to hire from Bedoin and planned that my husband would ride up Mont Ventoux first (with me following in the car for support with drinks and snacks), then the next day we would swap roles and it would be my turn to ride. My big day dawned on Wednesday 24th August. I woke up early having had a restless night and feeling a sense of dread at my impending cycle ride up Mont Ventoux. Having seen how tough it was the day before I wasn’t sure how I was going to fare. P1030181It was a sunny day and it was already a warm 24 degrees Celsius even though it was only 9am. As I arrived at the cycle hire shop in Bedoin and collected my bike for the day – a Trek Emonda S4 – I was feeling incredibly nervous. After a few adjustments and a short test ride I was ready to set off. I lined up by the starting sign and posed for a photo and then I was on my way.

The first few miles were relatively easy and I rode them gently in an attempt to save energy for the tougher, latter stages of the ride; although my pace was slower than I could run! At 2 miles I took my first stop and topped up my fluid and energy levels, and it was pointed out to me that I was already riding in my lowest gear and the steep climb was yet to come. I set off again and soon turned a sharp left hand bend and suddenly the climb became a lot steeper. I stopped again after another 2 miles and was feeling fine until I got off the bike. Going from riding with my heart rate in the low 170’s bpm to suddenly standing still made me feel somewhat giddy and a bit sick. I waited for my heart rate to recover and feeling better I hopped back on the bike and away I went. p1030188Throughout the steep wooded section I continued to stop every mile or so to allow myself a chance to recover whilst I topped myself up with fluids and jelly babies. I found with each 5 minute stop I felt a lot better and could resume my cycling feeling a bit recovered. Despite the gradient the wooded section was not as bad as I had feared. I found some parts easier than others and I tried to keep a rhythm going and just focused on completing one mile at a time. I was really pleased to reach the 6 mile mark feeling in good shape as I was a good way into the ride and was making solid progress. I had even started to enjoy it! All around me there were other cyclists on their own personal quest to conquer Ventoux, plus there were lots of cars following cyclists all providing support – it felt like our very own stage of the Tour de France!

I was amazed when I reached the Chalet Reynaud as I knew I was just 6 km from the summit – I couldn’t believe I had made it this far already and I was still feeling in good shape. I ate the last of my Chia Charge bar, then said goodbye to my family ready for the final push to the summit. I rode the next 2 km quite well as the gradient was a bit easier. I was now entering the bleak peak of Mont Ventoux with its lunar landscape. I took a quick short stop and then pressed on again. It was now getting much tougher as my legs were growing tired and the high altitude meant my body was having to work harder. p1030162The last 3 km seemed to go on forever. I found myself taking more frequent stops and all around me other cyclists were struggling too. With 3/4 of a kilometre to go I saw my family by the roadside and stopped again –  I didn’t think the final kilometre would ever finish and to make matters worse the gradient was now 11%. I could see the 500m marker in the distance so I just focused on that. Next I set my sights on the next corner where the car park and sign for the restaurant came into view – I was so nearly there. I kept myself going and turned the last corner to the finish line (which was cruelly the steepest corner of all) and then I reached the finish line. I couldn’t believe I had made it and didn’t have to do anymore climbing. I had ridden uphill for 21.5 km to an altitude of 1912 m. wp_20160824_13_26_56_proI took at selfie and then waited to be reunited with my family. I then posed for more photos by the summit sign and sat down in the shade to ate my packed lunch.

After half an hours rest I bought myself a souvenir mini replica of a road-side marker showing the distance, altitude and gradient of the climb, and then I began my descent. The descent was amazing and I couldn’t believe how fast I descended – I thought I would go at a snail’s pace as I am not great on descents. I just used my brakes when I needed to scrub off a bit of speed and enjoyed the sound and sensation of the wind whooshing past my ears. After spending all morning getting up the mountain, it only took me 35 minutes to descend, and I was struck at the sudden rise in temperature as I returned to the valley below – it had now risen to 35 degrees Celsius. Before I knew it I was back in Bedoin where I returned my bike to the bike hire centre – my journey was over!

I felt really pleased with how I had ridden – it was tough, but I hadn’t really suffered or struggled too much and I had thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It had truly been a test of determination and I had to dig deep to find my inner strength, but I’m glad to say my mission was accomplished and I had ticked off one of the items on my bucket list.

What’s on at Circuits this summer

This Monday (11th July) will be the last session of our current 8 week programme. We will then have a break for one week and return on Monday 25th July with a series of special summer sessions throughout the rest of July and August.

Each week the circuit session will focus on a particular target area: legs, bums, tbeacgh fitnessums or high intensity cardio. And to get you in the summer mood the exercises will be performed to fab summer party music – just want you need to get your body ready for the beach! So what are you waiting for?….Come along, workout and have some summer fun….

A new regular 8 week programme will return to circuits in late September.

When Injury Stikes….

Sadly most runners are side-lined at some time or another by injury and accepting that you are injured and not able to run can be really tough, but it is really important to take the correct course of action to help recovery and prevent re-occurrence of the injury. All injuries fall into one of 2 types: acute (an injury that happens suddenly and is very painful and makes any movement nearly impossible) and chronic (injuries that start as a niggle and gradually get worse over time – these are typically ‘overuse’ injuries).

Sometime it is possible to continue training with a chronic injury that is detected early, provided that training load is reduced and preventative/corrective exercises are undertaken, but in many cases an injury does mean a break from running.

So, if you are injured what should you do to get back onto the road to recovery?

Firstly, take some painkillers such as paracetamol to help ease the pain (but not ibuprofen for the first 48 hours as it is thought that it can interfere with the body’s own healing mechanism). Also reduce inflammation/swelling by elevating and resting the affected area and apply ice for 10 minutes, 3- 5 times a day for the first 3 days.

It is a good idea to monitor your pain level by using a rating system such as the one below. This wilC__Data_Users_DefApps_AppData_INTERNETEXPLORER_Temp_Saved Images_painscalel give you an idea how your recovery is progressing and when you resume training will help you assess whether your injury is coming back. If an acute injury does not improve within 3 days (or a chronic injury with 2 weeks) after following the above advice then please seek medical or expert help.

After 48 hours you can start taking anti-inflammatories, eg. Ibuprofen and 3 days into the injury alternate applying heat and ice to the injured site. The heat will increase blood flow which will encourage the absorption of the swelling, removal of debris and dead blood cells, and the formation of new blood capillaries and scar tissue. After this a programme of gentle mobility, stretching and strengthening exercises should follow to help with the healing.

To maintain fitness during this phase you may want to do some cross-training; walking, cycling and swimming are great options (provided they do not cause any pain) – or if you can manage it try some aqua-jogging.

Once you are pain free then you can start running again. However DO NOT resume the same training regime as before you became injured – you will need to build up slowly to prevent a reoccurrence of the injury. Regardless of your running ability your first ‘run’ should be just 10 minutes of alternating 1 minute running with 1 minute walking. This way, if your body is not ready to resume training you won’t do too much damage. If following this short ‘run’ you are pain free, then 48 hours later try the same again, but this time for 20 minutes. Provided you are still pain free, run again 48 hours later – this time running for 1-2-3-3-5-5-5 minutes with 1 minute walking breaks in between. Continue running every other day gradually increasing the running intervals and reducing the walking breaks until you are back to covering your normal training distance. If at any time you feel discomfort, a niggle or pain then rest up and when pain free revert back to a previous stage of your running recovery programme.

Once you are back to running your normal distance then introduce some fartlek sessions for a few weeks before trying any speed work. If all goes well then you can resume full training and enjoy running again!

If having read this article you feel you need some further help or advice with getting back to running following an injury then please do get in touch.

Why a Properly Planned Training Programme is Key to Achieving Your Potential

Since qualifying as a Running Coach it has led me to reconsider my own training approach. For the first time in my running career I have used Periodisation – that is dividing my training up into 3 distinct 8 week phases – instead of following the same training schedule week-in, week-out, month after month.

I started 2016 by deciding on my goals for the year and what I needed to do to achieve this. I then carefully planned my training. I began with my base phase; focusing on increasing the distance of my long run to build endurance, as well as some Fartlek runs to prepare for the speed work that would come later on, and long hills and cross country to build strength. Next I moved into the build phase: maintaining my long run and introducing tempo runs, long repetitions and a mixture of long and short hills. Finally, I have entered my peak phase – fine tuning my speed work with 400m efforts and long repeats.

So the verdict? Well, 3 weeks into my peak phase I have just achieved my goal for 2016 having improved my 10K PB by over a minute. Prior to becoming a running coach my PB had plateaued for many years. So, the hard work and structured training programme has certainly paid off. Furthermore, over the last 4 months I have enjoyed my training more than ever. With distinct training phases it has kept me motivated (I certainly haven’t become stale or bored with my training). More importantly, it has given my the confidence to believe that I can achieve my racing aspirations by simply following a carefully considered, structured training plan. And as a coach, I now KNOW I can help others achieve the same successful outcomes.

So, if you would like me to plan a training programme for you and help you realise your goals then please get in touch. Email me at mcfitness@btinternet.com or call 07717021650.

Why do you run?

This is probably a question which many non-runners ask of runners. After all why would you want to do something that is physically very hard work and makes you hot and sweaty?

For many beginner runners their motivation has come from a desire to lose weight, get fitter, lead a healthier lifestyle, or they may even want to set themselves a personal challenge. They see others completing Park runs, Race for Life, half or full marathons and want to see if they can do the same. Sometimes, being affected by a family illness or loss of a loved one through heart disease or cancer inspires them to take on a running challenge to raise money for charity. The reasons why people choose to take up running are numerous.

My reason for taking up running was literally to see if I could do it – running was not something which I particularly excelled at or enjoyed when I was at school. However as an adult I had developed a passion for fitness, in particular cycling, working out at the gym and attending fitness classes, and as I had built up a good level of fitness I now wanted to see if I could take on running. I had also seen Race for Life being promoted on television and I thought it looked a lot of fun and as my nan had been diagnosed with cancer at the time I decided to sign up for my first Race for Life.  Having completed my first 5K I then felt inspired to join a women’s running group – it was at this point I got the running bug. I loved running with others and as I got fitter I was able to run and hold a conversation. This was the point at which my relationship with running changed. Instead of it being about keeping fit or being a personal challenge it became my ‘therapy’.

The opportunity to run and have a good conversation (without any interruptions) for 45 minutes or so, felt very sacred, especially in today’s busy society. Sometimes the conversations are just chattering about day-to-day stuff, and sometimes it’s a chance to air a problem. The social interaction is wonderful – it’s just like have a coffee morning with a group of friends, except you’re running instead of drinking coffee! Of course, not all my runs are with others. When I run on my own, I find it equally therapeutic. I can let my mind roam, ponder about life, work out answers to problems, or just think up new ideas, or to coin a phrase – do a bit of ‘blue sky thinking’. Either way, running with others or alone is certainly very healthy for the mind. And, as for the post-exercise endorphins; they can change you. Sometimes pre-run I may feel tired from a poor night’s sleep or perhaps not in a particularly perky mood, but after a run I feel much more energised and happier.

I also love running because it gets me outdoors. I love running along in the countryside, exploring new routes, going across fields and finding hidden pockets of countryside I never knew existed.  I love feeling and experiencing the weather – from hot, sunny summer days, to crisp, cold winter days. Oddly enough I prefer winter running to summer running. In the winter we are cooped up inside so much with the heating on, so it just feels great to get outside and feel the fresh air on your face. And even if it is freezing cold when you set out, you come back feeling warm and toast- with a healthy glow! Finally I love watching the changing seasons. Its amazing what you notice when out on a run; the first signs of spring with buds on the hedgerows, blackberries appearing at the end of summer, and of course seeing the wonderful autumn colours. Normally we are too busy rushing about in daily lives that we don’t get time to take in the world around us.

So, if you ask my ‘why do I run?’, well perhaps my answer is that it helps me to live life to the full.