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Training advice for winter
16 November 2017

Dark evenings, cold weather….

Not the best motivators for getting out there but if you have set yourself a running goal that requires training over the winter months how do you get yourself into your trainers and out of the house?

Here are a few tips to help you make the most of running in the colder months and help keep you motivated:

Run with others

Sounds simple enough, right? But making that long run more of a social event definitely takes the pain out of it. And whilst staying in that nice warm bed on a frosty Sunday morning IS appealing, standing up your mates won’t go down very well. You can always aim to be the smug one who gets to your meet-up point first every time.

Plan your route

You can make the most of your Autumn/Winter runs by going off road for example or finding those places that are simply stunning in the colder weather; mist rising off the river, leaves falling like confetti, you know the sort of thing! Planning your route also means you can tell someone where you’re going, helping you stay safe in case anything does go wrong.

Watch the weather

Try and plan around the forecast, it’s not always possible to avoid the rain but knowing when it’s due means you can be a step ahead. Look for wind direction too, you don’t want to make a run harder by picking a route that just means you’re battling head on winds. Find out which local sports centres or gyms have treadmills you can use. Whilst the ‘dreadmill’ is my least favourite way of running, when the snow and ice hit during my training for the London Marathon it was the best option for keeping going safely.

Choose the right clothing

Don’t simply bung on a hoody and head out. You’ll get too hot. You should start a run cool, so instead wear layers that you can take on and off and tie easily around your waist. Running gloves are also a must for a winter runner’s kit. Rotating two pairs of trainers is also a good idea, so if one pair gets wet you have time to let them dry, putting on damp footwear is just grim.

Be seen

Winter running will likely mean you’re running after dark. You can buy all sorts of reflective or light up gear. Such as high-vis vests, flashing arm bands, or light clips for your trainers. You might feel daft, but safety is rarely catwalk worthy.

Get warmed up

Don’t give yourself chance to get cold as soon as you leave the house. Run up and down the stairs a few times or jog on the spot in your hallway for a minute or so – then make that dash for the door!

Don’t break records

Or you might break something else! Remember pavements and roads may be icy and winter runs should be about maintaining your miles more than your speed.

Remember the post run

Whilst you’ll be glad to get home, don’t just flop gratefully onto that sofa, be sure to rehydrate just as you would in the summer. Get a hot shower and into dry clothes as soon as possible.

Good luck! 

Post Run Recovery – Why does Massage Help?
12 October 2017

Why does Massage Help?

Those who run will probably know the 'day after the run before' feeling, a hangover from a long run can leave you limping down stairs in pain and wondering how you can recover that bit more quickly.

As a massage therapist I see lots of runners post run, because massage is one of the ways to help speed up the muscle recovery process. Receiving a massage is a lovely treat after a run, but there are plenty of techniques you can do yourself to help reduce the pain.

To understand how to help yourself after a long run, first you must understand what causes the pain and why breathing techniques and stretching can help prevent or at least minimise the running hangover in the first place.

Pain in muscles after exercising is caused by a build up of a chemical called Lactic Acid. Lactic Acid is produced as a by-product when the body doesn't receive enough oxygen when exercising – which is obviously a problem for those exercising to the extreme – top athletes, marathon runners or those who push themselves too far too soon.

The Lactic Acid coats the muscle fibres, causing the burning pain. Massage works by physically breaking up the Lactic Acid with deep strokes and percussion techniques and moving in into the endocrine system with deep sweeping strokes, which will eventually find its way into your urine. This is often why massage therapists tell you to drink plenty of water after a massage – as it helps to speed up the detoxifying process.

Ways you can help yourself:

  • Breathing - Ensuring you are breathing properly and getting enough oxygen to the muscles as you run is one of the best ways to help minimise the build up of Lactic Acid.
  • Stretching – Stretching after a run helps lengthen overworked and contracted muscles and helps to reduce the build up of Lactic Acid.
  • MovingKeep moving with gentle, steady movements the next day, runners often feel better after another run and that's because movement is the body's own way of detoxifying and removing the Lactic Acid.
  • Drinking waterIf you're moving toxins (in this case Lactic Acid) into the body's detox system – the endocrine, then you'll want to be drinking plenty of water to help flush out these toxins
  • Epsom Salt Bath  - Warm water and epsom salts are a great way to help detox – the same goes for sauna or steam room, making you sweat and draw out toxins.
  • Massage – And of course a massage is also a fantastic way to help!


Annie Johansen, Massage Therapist at Bristol Massage Therapy –

Summer time training tips
20 July 2017

It's summer time which hopefully means we will get some sun, training can be a lot more effort in sun and higher temperatures so here are a few top tips to help;

  1. hydration - we should all be drinking atleast 2 litres of water a day as a minimum anyway, more when exercising and even more again when exercising in higher temperatures, water is great, adding a Little bit of salt into your water is even better, we lose sodium (salt) through sweating so putting it back into your system through hydration helps the body get energy in and out of your muscle cells more efficiently.
  2. suncream! - Don't be caught out, get some suncream on and prevent the pain of sunburn especially on longer runs
  3. nutrition - fuel your body for running in hotter temperatures, we can lose our appetites and not want to eat too much or too many bigger meals, but we can't expect our body to work to its maximum if it doesn't have fuel (food) to burn and use as energy! Maybe a chicken and pasta salad to ensure you are getting enough protein and carbohydrates to fuel your workout and in plenty of different vegetables and keep it as colourful as possible to get as many nutrients as possible


Does summer-time training also offer nutritional benefits?
13 July 2017

Getting out to train in the sunshine can bring about many rewards to your overall health and conditioning.

Hidden behind the big nutrition related headline about the ‘Obesity Epidemics’ and the frightening increase in Diabetes Type 2, are the concerning apparent increases in vitamin D deficiency(*), especially in northern hemisphere populations.

(*) Vitamin D deficiency is associated with rickets, osteoporosis and, in recent research, is thought to be linked to neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease and even autism and depression.

And why is deficiency becoming more common? Partly this is because where we live, the sun is only sufficiently high in the sky for part of the year (April-September), to allow it to stimulate vitamin D production in our skin. But it is also because even when it is, most of us tend to spend most of our time indoors and, when outside, we cover up with sun factors that don’t let the sunrays through anyway.

So – one benefit of summer time training – is indeed the opportunity to find a few rays of sun that help us to manufacture our own vitamin D and to top up those levels that are so vitally important to enabling us to extract sufficient calcium and phosphorus from our food for healthy bones, and teeth and to avoid it being leached out of our bones also for our neurological needs. If your skin can tolerate it, 10 minutes a day is sufficient. So, whilst we need to avoid over exposing our skin, a bit of actual, ‘sunfactor-free’ exposure to the sun’s warm rays at this time of year, can be a great benefit.

Our only other reasonable source of this essential vitamin, often considered more of a hormone than a vitamin, is by eating oily fish, eggs or fortified foods. In fact, because low vitamin D levels, and indeed deficiency, is becoming worryingly common nowadays, I encourage all clients that do not spend significant amounts of time outdoors, to ask their GP for a vitamin D test and to take a good quality D3 supplement(**), if they cannot get sufficient of this vitamin from either their food (which is difficult) or sensible sun exposure.

(**) Always check with your GP before taking any supplements.

What about nutrition in general, as it relates to summer-time training?

One of the challenges we give ourselves when deciding to increase our activity levels or embark on a training programme, is that of providing enough of the right nutrients to keep our energy levels sufficiently high, without causing us to overeat and put on undesired weight. Of course this is even more important when part of the reason for training is to lose weight or tone up.

The great thing about starting in the summer is that we are naturally more open to eating natural, unprocessed foods that are so much more supportive of our bodies and brains in the transition to tougher training regimes, than either nutrient stripped and over-processed or artificially fortified ready-made foods. It is ‘salad time’ and the time of year when fruits and vegetables, grown on our doorstep, don’t lose their vitamins because they have been picked too soon and transported too far and for too long.

That means that the salads and raw veggies we are likely to eat in the summer months are going to contain and retain more important water soluble vitamins like vitamin C and folic acid than those that have come from afar during the winter months.

Also, these foods are of course not the type of foods that cause us to put on weight, yet they provide fibre to gives us a sense of being full and lots of vitamins and minerals needed to manufacture important enzymes and to build the antioxidants that help get rid of toxins and free radicals that are (frustratingly) a natural result of increased use of oxygen, ie exercise.

So, feel the power of nature and indulge yourself in all the fresh, locally produced (and ideally organic and pesticide free) natural foods you can get your hands on and feel the gratitude of your body and brain in the way it will respond better to the training regime you are subjecting it to.

And, for those who dare take the challenge, leave the energy bars behind on the supermarket shelf and, if you are and want to remain a ‘carb-refueller’, replace them with delicious and natural, mineral-rich sweet dried fruits, to power you up the hills or along the endless roads, or through the water, when energy levels start to dip.

Beyond this, for those who are seeking to use fat as your primary fuel source, get ‘fat savvy’ and start exploring the power of natural fats in your breakfast, lunch and dinner choices, (not to mention barbecue choices and salad dressings!) and get those natural ketones and fatty acids working for your brain and muscles!

But remember – don’t combine the carbs and fats unless you know what you are doing. As long as you have easy access to carbs in your bloodstream, your body can only keep the bulk of the fats in storage.

And finally, don’t forget to hydrate and re-hydrate, especially if it is hot! Nowadays, many athletes and exercisers prefer to ensure they stay hydrated and have sufficient electrolytes in the mineral content by buying energy drinks. However, if you want to ‘go natural’, you can make sure you avoid cramps and stay hydrated, by drinking water and having some salt in your diet. In addition, eating a great variety of sufficient vegetables (leafy green veggies, avocados and nuts) should provide you with the potassium, calcium and magnesium that you need to minimize the risk of cramps.

In summary: Get more benefit from your summer training by enjoying a little sun exposure and nurturing your brain and body with healthy natural summer food choices! Happy Summer Training!

If you have any questions, would like to discuss any of this with me, want more information, would like access to my sources or suggested further reading, please contact me, Heidi, as follows:

Heidi Giaver
Article author Heidi Giaver nutrition adviser and consultant |

Protein from vegetarian sources
06 July 2017

In the main article on Protein for Enhancing Sports Performance we discuss that this macronutrient is a highly necessary part of our diet to ensure that cells are able to grow and repair themselves.

We also recognise, in the same article, that this means that protein is an essential nutrient to maintaining and prolonging a healthy life. And because the process of growing muscle strength and size, which includes improving aerobic fitness and muscle strength, invariably involves the destruction of some cells and the repair and rebuilding of new cells, sports people are entirely dependent on protein for the purpose of improving their athletic performance and stamina.

For sports people that eat meat, fish, eggs and dairy products, this is relatively easy task. For vegetarians and vegans, this is much more of a challenge.

One way to better understand this is to consider the constituent parts of proteins (amino acids) as a variety of shapes and colours of lego bricks or beads needed to build our bodies. These lock together to form long chains or shapes that can be broken down and rebuilt as new chains or new shapes. The latter process of breaking down and rebuilding cell structures and muscles is what happens when we perform high intensity exercise. 

Sports nutrition - protein Imagine your body is a house of lego, where the protein building blocks are the different lego bricks.  Say, for example, that our human body is represented by a white house built out of lego bricks, with several different windows and doors and a red roof. To build and maintain our body (the lego house), we need lots of different sized lego bricks, white, red and grey, and different sized windows and doors, as well as roof tiles. These different coloured and sized lego bricks are an analogy for the different building blocks of proteins, namely the amino acids, that our body needs. As we have said, our body is made of proteins, so in this analogy our muscles could be, for example, viewed as the white lego bricks that form the main part of the house. It follows then that it is necessary for us to eat foods that contain the ‘white lego bricks’ if we want to be able to repair and build our muscles.

And that is where the challenge lies for vegetarians and vegans. Some of the vegetarian sources of protein will simply not contain the white or the red ‘lego brick’ amino-acid equivalents.

All of the essential amino acids are found in all animal source proteins, and in certain ‘plant exceptions’, namely quinoa, soya etc, that I have mentioned previously. But only some of them are found in the majority of vegetables.
Therefore, if you are a vegetarian or vegan, to ensure you get sufficient protein containing all the essential amino acids (ie all the shapes and colours in our above analogy) to maintain cell growth and repair, you will need to combine different vegetable sources of protein, and eat much more of them, than of the equivalent animal protein source. This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that some important vitamins (eg B12) and minerals, are also absent or less abundant in vegetarian foods, although this is a subject I will deal with in a later article on Vitamins and Minerals.

We previously identified quinoa as a protein rich vegetarian food, but only something like 13% of this food consists of protein. So, for the example we used in the main article of someone weighing 60kg and needing 48g of protein per day, whilst they would need only 200g of chicken breast meat, they would need 370g of uncooked quinoa to satisfy their daily protein need, if this was their only protein source. That is a lot of quinoa!

In practice this means you need to combine different food groups to make sure you get complete proteins over the course of a day, and enough of it. For example, food types such as grains, cereals, nuts and seeds (that all contain reasonable levels of the essential amino acids tryptophan, methionine and (semi essential) cystine, but very low levels of the essential amino acid Lycine), can be balanced with pulses or legumes, such as peanuts, lentils, dry beans and peas which all contain high levels of Lycine.

Here are some good examples of how you can ‘pair’ vegetarian foods in order to make sure you get complete proteins consisting of all essential amino acids:

  • soups or stews that include legumes and grains
  • salads made with beans and nuts or seeds
  • a peanut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread
  • hummus with whole-wheat pita bread
  • tofu or tempeh with brown rice or quinoa
  • tofu stir-fry with whole-grain noodles and peanuts
  • beans and brown rice
  • yogurt with sunflower seeds or almonds 
Heidi Giaver
Article author Heidi Giaver nutrition adviser and consultant |

Setting goals
06 April 2017

As with any new goal you make you have to give yourself a plan to follow and an achievable time to achieve the goal (SMART TARGETS)

Here are a few tips which can help to take your running to the next level

Same with building up your running, don't make the mistake of going too big and setting yourself up for failure, instead set small weekly targets which will then lead you to achieving your longer term overall goal, for example running a half marathon and even building up to a full marathon. 

Be realistic, these days our lifestyles are hectic and jam packed, so committing yourself to 5 runs a week probably isn't going to happen and instead just getting angry and irritated that you have gone off the plan, instead set aside time for 2-3 runs a week and use that time wisely.

If you are thinking about entering a longer distance run choose one that allows you enough time to get your training in, a standard beginners marathon training plan runs for 17 weeks. So chose an event that will fit into that time frame.
Dont be afraid to ask for help, sometimes getting your self a coach or trainer or even just a friend to go on your runs with can be the extra motivation you need tp ensure you stay on track with your training

Remember with everything you have good days and you have bad days, some runs will feel good, some runs will be hard and leave you feeling deflated, but that's all part of the training, stick to your plan, stick to your short term targets and achieve your goal.

Miriam Kimber


Article author Miriam KimberGym Instructor and Personal Trainer  
06 April 2017

A basic requirement from food – for Muscle Building and Recovery – especially as it affects sports performance.

Many of us have grown up being encouraged to ‘eat your protein’ so you grow big and strong. And in the world of body builders and frequent gym goers, protein shakes are a familiar supplement taken for the same purpose; namely to build muscle and get stronger.

But is it that simple? Is it true that the more protein we eat, the stronger and more powerful we get?  Unfortunately not.

Before we delve into this – let’s have a quick look at what food sources we are talking about when we say proteins – remembering that there are very few food sources that contain only one macronutrient such as protein. In other words, most of what we eat, even if it is a natural unprocessed food, will contain some proportions of two or three of the three basic macronutrients: protein, fat and carbohydrate.

Obvious examples, often spoken of as if they are pure ‘protein’, are meat and fish: They are both considered high protein food sources, but they also contain fat. Chicken breast meat will contain mainly protein, very little fat and no carbohydrate – until you add breadcrumbs or a batter and fry it, when the carbohydrate and fat content will skyrocket. Eggs also have no carbohydrate and almost the same amount of protein and fat, by weight, where the egg white is pure protein. Salmon has significantly more protein than fat and again no carbohydrates. Milk, another good protein source, has (in the semi-skimmed variety), half as much fat as protein but it actually has more carbohydrate than the two put together.

In vegetarian sources of protein, such as tofu (from soya), unless fried or marinated in fats, contains more protein than fat and small amounts of carbohydrates, whereas peanuts contain twice as much fat as protein and again very little carbohydrate. Quinoa and other similarly used foods (lentils, rice, legumes) contain a far higher proportion of carbohydrates (50-60% by weight) but have a much higher protein content than fat.

Our bodies do indeed need protein to build and repair body tissue, including muscle. So, protein is an absolute essential part of our diets. Without protein we cannot grow new cells that enable babies to grow into children and children to grow into adults. Without protein we can also not repair any damaged to parts of our bodies, from illness, but also including damage to muscle tissue that always occurs when we exercise or train with weights. So, for sure, we do need protein, but can we eat as much as we like with only beneficial affects?

The answer lies in how our bodies make clever use of all the nutrients we eat. Part of this ‘cleverness’ and what is perhaps less well known, is that our bodies can also convert protein to simple sugars (carbohydrates) and use these for energy or, in the case of excess, convert them to fat. And this is just what our bodies do if we eat too much protein that is not needed for essential growth and repair work. In fact one gram of protein has the same calorific value as one gram of glucose (the simplest form of carbohydrate or sugar). In other words if you eat 10grams of protein or 10 grams of carbohydrate, you get exactly the same number of calories; namely 40 Calories.

For this reason, it is important to get the right amount of protein, but no real benefit in getting too much. In the case of people who are trying to maintain or reduce their weight, or people suffering from pre-diabetes or diabetes type 2, simple carbohydrate rich foods such as white bread, white pasta, cakes, etc all need to be reduced or eliminated in the diet. Protein rich foods are one good alternative because, since protein is primarily used to repair or build new, cells in our bodies, it is less likely to be converted to glucose and/or fat than simple carbohydrate foods are. However, for someone who already eats sufficient protein and would like to shed excess weight, eating more protein than his or her body needs is potentially only going to allow excess to be converted to fat.

On the other hand, getting too little or not the right type of protein can be much more dangerous because it will limit our abilities to grow and repair every part of our bodies from hair, nails, skin and muscles to the more hidden parts of our bodies like brain and nerve cells, blood vessels, organs etc. In fact, without sufficient protein to maintain our bodies, they start to self destruct. The lack of sufficient good quality, affordable protein is what has been a main cause of undernourishment in developing countries and in poorer populations in the modern world.

The rule of thumb is that most people need around 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight. So, if you weight 60kg, and are neither weight training hard nor a child or teenager needing to grow, you need approximately 48g of a good quality protein per day to stay healthy. If you are a body builder or a growing child, you need more, but probably not much more than 1 – 1.1g per kg of body weight. But remember – this does not mean that if you weigh 60kg, you need a chicken breast of 48g per day……. Actually, since only something like 25% of your chicken breast is protein, you would need a breast of almost 200g to meet your protein requirement for the day……. But, because it is unlikely that this is the only food containing protein that you will eat all day, you will most certainly have had much more than your necessary protein intake during that day, if you do indeed eat a 200g fillet of chicken.

The reality is that in more affluent societies, most people get sufficient or excess protein for their daily needs, especially if they eat animal sources of protein such as meat, fish and dairy products. There are of course lots of good vegetarian and vegan sources of protein such as legumes, grains, pulses, nuts etc, but the trick with these is that because many of them do not include all the constituent parts you need from a protein, you need to combine different protein containing vegetarian foods, in order to get a good quality protein rich meal. Exceptions such as quinoa and soy and buckwheat (which is a seed (like quinoa) and is related to rhubarb and not a wheat!) are complete protein sources that do not need to be combined with other protein sources. But because the protein content is far lower in plant foods than from animal sources, this has to be taken in to consideration too.

If you are specifically interested in the use of protein to enhance sports performance, please continue reading.

Having recognised that protein is essential to maintaining and prolonging a healthy life, how does this relate to sports performance?

After proteins are broken down, amino acids are transported in the blood to where they are needed eg in muscle building.  Because the process of growing muscle strength and size, which includes improving aerobic fitness and muscle strength, naturally and invariably involves the destruction of some cells and the repair and rebuilding of new cells, sports people are entirely dependent on protein for the purpose of improving their athletic performance and stamina. Simply put, if your body is not carrying the essential building blocks of proteins (essential amino acids), within a reasonable time after you have completed your exercise routine or competition, it will not have the raw materials available to build up again what you have destroyed during your workout, match or race. As such, you will not achieve the muscle or stamina gain and improved performance that you would expect, from your sports activities, however hard you work at it in the gym or on the field. 

If, on the other hand, you make sure you provide your body with the necessary quantity and quality of protein after a workout, match or race, you will be giving it the building blocks necessary to repair inevitable damage and grow your muscle cells to increase muscle strength.

We discussed the necessary ‘quantity’ above, and we have addressed the fact that non-vegetarian sources of protein are both more concentrated sources of protein and they provide us with all the different essential amino acids we need. But what about protein powders, shakes and the like?

As any body builder and keen athlete knows, there are huge numbers of alternative processed, commercialised protein products on the market – advertised as necessary for the muscle building process. It would be ignorant of me to dismiss all of these out of hand, because there are practical considerations involved for top performing body builders and athletes that require significant amounts of protein ‘in the field’ as it were, where grilling a steak or boiling eggs, or indeed eating a vast quantity of quinoa, simply is not practical. However, for most of us, who have easy access to natural, unprocessed foods containing protein as well as other nutrients, it is unlikely if not impossible to imagine that we cannot get sufficient and better quality nutrition, and thereby fewer chemical additives and enough protein, by planning our meals around eating natural high protein containing foods.

Needs vary enormously based on body size, weight, type (muscle mass) and type and duration of exercise, so there is no ‘one size fits all’, but the principle is the same for all of us: When we perform strength building exercise or tax our muscles over a period of time, we need protein to rebuild and repair them afterwards.

Heidi Giaver
Article author Heidi Giaver nutrition adviser and consultant |

Runner story - Matthew Bennett
24 February 2017

Runner story - Matthew BennettMatthew Bennett, a teacher from Bristol, decided to take part in last year’s Great Bristol 10k for Children’s Hospice South West. Read his experience of this flat, fast race.

“Warm and sunny spring Sunday mornings in Bristol go well with a good coffee, some close friends for company and perhaps a stroll around the Harbourside to admire the beautiful city within which we live. Why then, may you ask, would I choose to spoil the peace and tranquillity of such plans and instead drink nothing but water, surround myself with thousands of people and run around the harbour-side with such determination that most of what I saw was grey tarmac?

“As I forced myself out of bed, I consoled myself with the fact that it was a) sunny, and b) all going to be worth it as I had raised some money for Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW).

“This was my fourth time running the Bristol 10K (now Great Bristol10K or Bristol is Great 10K, or Great 10K Bristol, or something like that), but the first time I would have done it for charity, and the ridiculous thing was that not once before had I ever felt nervous, but now I could feel the adrenaline starting to surge, even though it was only 7am.

“Dressing myself in the green vest of the CHSW (a garment not designed for the likes of men of my age, who often try on such things in shops and then realise they’re no longer in their 20s and carefully place it back on the rack hoping no one had witnessed it), I made the short walk into the centre. Numbers gradually increased as other runners appeared out of side streets throughout Bedminster, each wearing a different running shirt or, in most cases, the name of a different charity on their backs. It’s always so heart-warming to see the lengths that good people will go to help others and it gave me a real boost to feel that I was part of that same wave of good intention this year.

“The CHSW ‘spot’, outside the Shakespeare Inn on Prince Street, was beginning to heat up in the sun and also in its atmosphere. More and more green runners appeared from over Prince Street Bridge and they were matched by those intending to cheer us on as we passed by the 9th kilometre. And so, with bananas eaten, faces painted and ‘good lucks’ uttered, we all made our way to our various starting positions.

“As races go, it went like all the others. However, what was different this year, was that as I ran, I heard people shout ‘come on Children’s Hospice’! I had never been cheered on like this before and it was a lift to the spirits to keep going. Around the 8th kilometre, however, I began to feel a little fragile, as I had been really pushing myself to make 45 minutes.

“Thinking that I had little left in the tank to give, the green corner of the Shakespeare Inn and the CHSW cheer point loomed into sight. By far the biggest cheer of the whole course; the most noise, the loudest shouts and the most fun was to be found here. Us green-shirted runners made a point of taking a wide arc to soak up the atmosphere and people whistled, screamed and children banged strange inflatable sticks together. This lifted all our spirits at this crucial stage as the final kilometre beckoned. However, the added burst of speed and accompanying adrenaline rush did make me want to throw up now more than ever. Still, I battled on to the bitter end, surrounded by relieved athletes as the finishing arch came ever nearer to passing over our heads.

“As it turned out, I didn’t quite beat my personal best; I am a year older after all. However, thanks to the wonderful people at CHSW, the crowds of well-wishers and the feeling that by running, I was actually going to be making a difference, this was by far the best year yet.”

If Matt’s story has inspired you to run the Great Bristol 10k for CHSW, sign up with the race provider then get in touch with us and we can send you a CHSW running vest and give you lots of support!

Find out more about the Great Bristol 10k

HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training
27 January 2017

HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training, not for the faint hearted but a very effective way of training especially if you are pushed for time to train or workout.

As the name suggests (High intensity) this type of training is meant to be hard and designed to push you. One of the biggest benefits of HIIT is that you can do it anywhere, you don’t need a lot of equipment and it doesn’t take a long time to complete, after 10-12, (15max) minutes of true HIIT you should be sweating, out of breath and feeling like you have had a great workout (once you have recovered). If you are working at a high intensity you shouldn’t be able to endure it for a long time, if you are able to work for longer than 30-45 seconds without your work rate dropping or without getting too tired to continue that intensity is not where is needs to be. HIIT should be 30 – 45 seconds work with about the same rest time between sets.

This type of training is very good for building on your lactic acid threshold because your body is required to work without oxygen

 A really effective and hard work out could be something very simple like 30 seconds maximum work followed by 30 seconds rest on a rowing machine, 10 rounds of this at your highest efforts after any session will leave you feeling like you have nothing more to give. Job done. Another bonus of this type of training is that it doesn’t have to be done on a cardio machine; you can incorporate weight training methods into HIIT training, as long as your work rate is high enough so that you are beginning to reach failure by the end of each round, for example 30 seconds maximum reps of a clean and press followed by 30 seconds rest, 10 rounds again will have you feeling extremely worked and is a great full body movement

With HIIT you don’t stop burning calories as soon as you stop like you would with steady stat cardio, but instead you continue to burn calories for hours after.

Miriam Kimber


Article author Miriam KimberGym Instructor and Personal Trainer  
26 January 2017

Energy - A basic requirement from Food – especially as it affects sports performance:

The body can source its energy requirements from carbohydrates, fats and to a lesser degree, but still importantly, proteins. Proteins can be converted to glucose, which is one of the simplest forms of carbohydrates, also know as simple sugars, and then these are, in turn, used to fuel activity. Interestingly, it is quite hard to control which source of fuel the body is using, but there are a few basic guidelines we can follow.

Firstly, the body (and brain!) will always favour the use of carbohydrates if these are present. That means, if they are in our blood stream, as ‘elevated blood sugar’, because we have recently eaten something with sugar, starch or digestible fibre, then the body has immediate access to this fuel source and will use it. Similarly, carbohydrates are stored in muscles and in the liver, as glycogen, so the body will use this easily accessible energy source as well.  Typically, for bursts of exercise and short duration, high intensity exercise, we will first exhaust these fuel sources. The longer exercise continues and certainly when intensity is lower (as with walking for example), the body will start to break down our fat stores to use these for energy as well. But in short, during exercise of any reasonable duration, the body will use a mixture of fuel from both carbs and fats, and preferring fats for endurance type and long duration, low intensity activity, especially where you do not ‘refuel’ with carbohydrate sources like energy bars, gels, glucose and sports drinks.

There are two main schools of thought at the moment as regards what is the best energy source:

Those that believe in carbohydrates as the main source of fuel and those that believe that fats are the more efficient energy source for sports performance.

The former is supported by government nutritional guidelines. The latter conflicts directly with these but draws its evidence of success from increasing numbers of high performing athletes around the world, who are ditching the ‘carb loading’ tactics and instead trying to adapt to the so-called ketogenic diets.

The principle they both agree on is that in order to perform, you need access to energy and your body needs to be efficient at utilizing this energy. Where they differ relates both to the source of this energy and what is considered healthy for the body and brain.

In simplistic terms, using carbohydrates, or sugars, as the main and primary source of energy, is easy because glucose, the simplest form of carbohydrate, is quickly made available in our blood after we have eaten a meal with even the smallest amount of carbohydrate. In addition, glucose is efficiently converted to glycogen, which, as discussed above, is in turn stored in both muscles and the liver, for immediate and easy access when we need it for exercise or competition performance. Another reason why using carbohydrates is easy is the fact that most modern diets involve consuming relatively high proportions of carbohydrates and so our bodies are totally adapted to drawing on glucose in the blood and glycogen from the muscles and liver, as their primary fuel.

There are, however, a few challenges with this:

Firstly – the body’s stores of carbohydrate as fuel are limited to around 2000 Calories, varying according to body and muscle size. The more and bigger muscles you have, the more glycogen you can store. That means that once you have used these calories you need refills, which you can get in many different forms, including sports drinks, gels, glucose tablets (or my favourite – dried dates and apricots), when ‘on the run’ as it were, or by eating a good meal after a training session.

Secondly – when using carbohydrates for fuel, you are also producing insulin. You cannot convert carbs to energy without insulin, which is the transporter that allows cells (including muscle cells) access to glucose. This is completely normal and natural, but herein lies a double challenge: When insulin is present in your blood, dealing with the carbs, your body cannot use fatty acids from your fat cells, for fuel. So, in a sense you are forced to find more carbs. But this in turn can lead to exhaustive production of insulin, sugar spikes and sugar lows whilst your body struggles to cope with either high quantities of sugar or high residual amounts of insulin which trigger the need for more sugar / carbs. Research also shows that certainly in the case of simple sugary carbs such as sucrose (normal ‘table’ sugar), prolonged and regular consumption has an addictive affect on the brain whilst offering no nutritional value at all.

This leads us to the third challenge which is balancing you carbohydrate intake such that you also get sufficient fibre, vitamins and minerals with your simple sugars, so you minimize the sugar spikes, whilst allowing your body access to other nutrients needed to support the normal function of organs, blood, digestion and the brain. This is what manufacturers of some energy drinks and bars attempt to do by adding mineral salts to their sugary drinks.

Fourth is the challenge related to an athlete or exerciser’s desire to lose weight.  For those who feel they carry excess body weigh, and for those who have symptoms of metabolic disorder, are pre-diabetic or have diabetes type 2, relying on carbohydrate for fuel is a big challenge. Simply put; since excess carbohydrate consumption leads to these being converted to fat stores and because having insulin in the blood (which you have every time you eat carbohydrates) makes it impossible for the body to release fat from storage to use as fuel, relying on carbohydrates as your main energy source will not allow you to deal with the excess weight. Or, in the case of pre-diabetics or diabetes type 2 sufferers, the presence of sugars in your blood, from eating carbohydrate will not make your insulin resistant cells do anything other than store more fat, whilst not allowing them to release fats to use them for energy.

And finally, when relying on carbohydrates as you main source of energy, you need to be able to re-fuel regularly for any level of high intensity exercise that lasts beyond your available roughly 2000 Calories of energy stores. If you don’t, you will ‘hit the wall’ or collapse from exhaustion. As such, sugary fruits, energy bars, drinks, gels etc, are a necessary part of your energy strategy to support your sports and exercise performance.

In the meantime, general guidelines in most western countries still suggest that 50-55% of calories in our diets should come from carbohydrates, with the majority coming from the complex and fibre-containing varieties, and not the refined and processed simple sugars. These guidelines also relate to athletes.

So, in summary: Whilst relying on carbohydrates, including carb-loading and carb-re-fuelling, is not a difficult or new nutritional strategy to enhance sports performance, it has a few challenges, particularly if weight gain, desired weight loss or diabetes type 2 are part of the picture.

Let me turn to the contradicting school of thought, which suggests that a better energy source for sports performers is using fats as the primary fuel. General government health guidelines are that no more than 30% of our calories should come from fat. Since fat has more than twice the calorific value of carbohydrates, by weight, the weight of fat we should be eating, according to these guidelines, is around a quarter of the weight of carbs.

But those favoring fat prioritized, or the so-called ketogenic, diets disagree. They argue that once your body is trained to rely on fat as its primary source of fuel, not only do you have an almost unlimited access to that fuel (because we store so much more fat than we can store glycogen and glucose), but you also do not need the frequent ‘refueling’ that you require when you have run out of available glycogen, after your 2000 stored Calories are up.

However, there are challenges with this approach too:

Firstly, your body needs several weeks to adapt to using fat as its primary fuel of choice. That is because burning fat is a lot more complex than using glucose and glycogen. And, as I said above, as long as there is any insulin present in your blood, which their invariably is after you have eaten any carbohydrate, then fatty acids will not be released into your blood for use as energy.

Effectively, therefore, you need to strictly limit carbohydrates for several weeks in order to ‘force’ your body to burn fat. This is not the same as restricting calories, but according to the proponents of using fat as fuel, it does involve a strict diet with larger quantities of natural fats, normal levels of proteins and lots of fibre, vitamins and minerals from low carbohydrate vegetables.

There is also an argument that because the brain prefers glucose as its source of energy, you could be restricting your brain performance by limiting your intake of carbohydrates and consequently glucose.  And there is confusion about whether too many ketones (the energy source resulting from fat break down) in your blood is dangerous. This latter concern relates to the confusion between the dangerous ‘Ketoacidosis’ and the dietary induced and desirable situation of  ‘Ketosis’.

Whilst these latter concerns are dealt with and any dangers associated with Ketosis disproved in studies involving both the successful treatment of pre-diabetic situations, Diabetes Type 2 and with high performance athletes, the argument still rages on as to what is the best source of energy. At the same time, we have seen athletes who have religiously carb-loaded to achieve their peak performance, get diabetes type 2, and we have seen other athletes increase their performance and endurance by switching to very low carb, high fat diets.

The jury is still out and if you want to discuss any of this with me, if you would like references for further reading, or if you would like to share your own experiences, please contact me.

Heidi Giaver
Article author Heidi Giaver nutrition adviser and consultant |

London Marathon Gold Bond runner has a special reason for supporting Children’s Hospice South West
25 January 2017

Luke ComptonLuke Compton is a 2017 Gold Bond runner and has a special reason for supporting Children’s Hospice South West:

“The question I was once asked was 'What does the CHSW mean to me?' The answer is everything. Children's Hospice South West and in particular Little Bridge House has captured my heart. Sadly in June 2015 my cheeky little 18 month old son Kaleb passed away at the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital.  We then spent a period of time at Little Bridge House before his funeral.

On arrival at Little Bridge House, that Sunday morning in June the Care Team were so welcoming, reassuring and focused to help me through the days that lay ahead. I remember clear as day, through all the emotions, that I took a step back and looked around it was so warm and I felt at home at Little Bridge House. It felt the perfect place for my son to rest and for myself to prepare plans for his funeral.

Kaleb spent time after his in ‘Starborn', a beautiful, gentle and peaceful room to remember, reflect and embrace final memories.

After I had settled in at Little Bridge House and been for a long run on the Tarka Trail around North Devon I spent a couple of hours just sat cuddling and chatting to Kaleb (who I always called Scrat, it was a Father/Son thing.) I was then shown around Little Bridge House, the house has plenty of facilities and activities for children, adults and siblings such as a main living area, a multi-sensory room with lights, sounds and textures to soothe and calm, a kitchen that never stops feeding the house, a messy play room for carefree creativity, a chapel to sit and think, a soft play area for safe, trouble-free fun and my own personal favourite a Jacuzzi.

Outside there is a beautiful garden full of singing birds and blossoming flowers. The secret world of Narnia lays quietly tucked away, a sensory garden, which was based on C.S Lewis' magical book 'The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe'. The garden & Narnia are well loved by both children and parents. I spent countless hours wondering around the garden processing my thoughts. 

In the coming days, the funeral was arranged, we designed the Order Of Service and the coffin which we called 'Kaleb’s Forever Bed' arrived, which we were able to personalise.

Arranging a funeral is seen as a very sad, painful and tough time, even more so for a child of any age let along 18 months old, but thanks to the wonderful help of CHSW, I can honestly say it was enjoyable, light-hearted and a memory I will hold close to me forever.

During my stay at Little Bridge House, there was never a moment where I didn't feel supported, cared for or looked after. From being fed non-stop by the cooks in the kitchen, to the staff who were always available to listen and chat to anytime day or night and the respect shown to be able to have some time alone to deal with the sad reality of life and how my world had changed forever overnight.

I said at Kaleb's funeral 'Every little boy’s first hero is their Daddy” but in this case Daddy's hero was his little boy.

A year on from Kaleb’s passing, I still feel supported by the Care Team, I get phone calls to check I'm ok, little text messages just to know the team are thinking of me at difficult times and most importantly the door to CHSW is always open, that feels very special. I've returned to Little Bridge a few times, I find such comfort in returning, walking around and remembering my beautiful little boy.

It's time for me to now give something back to CHSW in support of everything they have done and still do to support me and many other families. On Sunday 23rd April I plan to stand on the start line of the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon in my CHSW top and raise as much money as possible. Running saved my life while Kaleb was poorly, now it's time to help other families make life lasting memories with the help of CHSW.

To sum up, CHSW are a fantastic charity, something I will never take for granted. The word 'Hospice' is very scary to any parent, family member or the general public but I strongly believe everybody needs to take some time to visit Little Bridge House, Little Harbour or Charlton Farm to understand how warm, welcoming and peaceful it really is. Everybody who walks through the doors at CHSW are welcomed with open arms and made to feel very special.

My life will never be the same, my heart will forever be broken but with the help of CHSW I will forever have great memories which I will cherish for a lifetime.” 


ShoeperMan steps forward for a year of challenges
12 January 2017

Martin as ShoepermanA Westbury man is taking on a range of challenges in 2017 in aid of Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW).  

Martin Pearce is aiming to smash some personal challenges during his 50th birthday year as well as raise a significant amount of funds for CHSW, whose local hospice for Bath and West Wiltshire - Charlton Farm - is celebrating its 10th birthday this year.

The first challenge is to take on the Virgin Money London Marathon in April. Although it’s not just a case of completing it; Martin is looking to break the Guinness World Record for the fastest Marathon dressed in a shoe!  The design of the shoe was the result of a competition at Charlton Farm.  

Martin said “I wanted the children, siblings and their families to be involved in my challenges and I was stumped for a design, so CHSW arranged a colouring competition for the children to design the costume.”

#Shoeperman, as he is now known, will be getting his first outing at the Longleat 10k which will be followed up by the Bath Half Marathon in March as part of the training for the Virgin Money London Marathon.  Plus there will be some other themed #Shoeperman runs throughout the year.

The second major challenge will be the Race to the King in June, which is a 53 mile trail run from Arundel in Sussex and finishing at Winchester in Hampshire.  The third challenge will be the Wiltshire Big Wheel, a 100 mile bike ride in September.

Martin explains why he has chosen to raise funds for CHSW: “I raise funds for a charity most years and this year I wanted a charity that was local, would benefit children and also where I could really see the effect the money raised was having.

I have a colleague who has benefited from the support at Charlton Farm and following a tour I can really see that the fantastic work carried out for the whole family of children who stay at the hospice.”

Emily Mitchard, Community Fundraiser at CHSW said, “It’s been wonderful working alongside Martin, showing him round Charlton Farm, being involved in the colouring competition and keeping track of his training via his blog. The children loved designing his running shoe and can’t wait to see #Shoeperman in action. What a very special way to celebrate his own 50th birthday as well as Charlton Farm’s 10th birthday!”

If you see #Shoeperman training around Westbury and the surrounding area during 2017, please give him a wave and a cheer! You can also show your support at: