Whether you're big into cycling, wild about running or just fancy trying something different this year, 2016 won't be short of outdoor events across the UK to keep you fit and healthy. Many of these events are a great way to raise money for charity so if you want to set yourself a personal challenge and raise some money for a good cause while you're at it, then read on.
Where marathons and swimming can feel like very unitary, solo activities, hill walking is an activity you can enjoy the company of others in and share an amazing experience you'll remember forever. The breath-taking views from the top are also an additional, attractive perk of hill walking. Many hill walks are open challenges meaning that you can choose from a selection of charities to raise money for.
Ben Nevis, located in the Scottish Highlands is the highest mountain in Britain and a very popular spot. You have the option of undertaking your challenge in summer or if you're really brave, in winter. Other popular challenges include the Lake District 5 Peaks (15 July) and 24 Peaks (10 June) for more experienced hill walkers. Both Ben Nevis and the Lake District walks can be done at midnight to really take advantage of the scenery against the backdrop of a rising sun. However, if you're really passionate about mountaineering why not try the revered Welsh3000s (10 June)? It is one of the most challenging mountain climbs to undertake but has some amazing views to boast of.
If cycling is your thing, there's a wealth of interesting cycling events happening across the UK this year. The Edinburgh Night Ride is a 50 mile overnight cycle across Scotland's capital city happening on June 18. With sights that will include The Castle, Holyrood Palace, Scottish Parliament Buildings, the Fourth Road Bridge and even a coastal route thrown in for good measure, it will be a varied and extremely interesting cycle to say the least. If you fancy going further afield than the UK however, the London to Paris cycle is happening on 7 September for 5 days to raise money for Bowel Cancer UK. You will begin in London's city centre and finish off underneath the Eiffel Tower, having cycled a whopping 300 miles. And with Paris to enjoy afterwards what could be a better reward?
If you feel a bit daunted by the prospect of cycling all night or climbing up the highest mountain in Britain why not ease yourself into outdoor challenges by doing a fun run? Charities frequently hold fun runs and walks across the UK as they are an easy way for people to get active and involved with a good cause! This March 20th the Where's Wally Fun Run is happening in London's Clapham Commons to raise money for National Literary Trust. It's a manageable 1Km and you can jog, walk or run your way through it, dressed as Wally of course. However, if London is a bit too far afield look up fun runs and charity walks happening in near you!
Whether your New Years resolutions involved running, cycling, walking or mountain climbing, most people's will have involved some form of fitness plan for self-improvement throughout the year ahead. However, a couple of weeks into January and the dark mornings, frosty footpaths and limited daylight of winter can get many people's spirits down. To beckon back that ever receding motivation we have put together a list of ways you can get yourself back on track when you feel yourself struggling.
If you started 2016 with the intention of getting up at 5am and running for an hour before getting ready for work then chances are, unless you have already been running for quite a while, you were defeated before you even really got started. Your workout shouldn't be a form of punishment and if you're making yourself get up at an ungodly hour before you even have a real investment or passion for the exercise then you've no real chance. And this does nothing to improve your waning motivation. Beginning with baby steps instead of a hardcore regime will foster better feelings about the workout itself. Then you can gradually up your game as you go along!
Goal Setting: Short Term/Mid Term/Long Term
Instead of having vague New Year workout "resolutions" for 2016, call them "goals" and put together a more concrete and detailed plan. Group your goals into short term, mid-term and long terms categories defined by months throughout the year. E.g. a goal set for December 2016 would be a long term goal but something you want to achieve by May would be a mid-term goal. Having this more detailed insight to what your goals are will make them feel immediately more achievable. Think of it as a year-long to-do list!
Have a Bit of Fun
Bring a bit of fun into your workout by compiling a running playlist if the repetitiveness is something getting to you. Songs with more than 120 beats per minute are meant to make exercise seem easier. Stumped for ideas? Spotify and Songza have some great playlists put together especially for working out purposes! If music just isn't cutting it though, fear not, because you can now run away from hordes of zombies whenever you feel like it. Yes, you heard me correctly, Zombies, Run! is an app with 200 different missions involving outrunning zombies who are hot on your trail. It's an adventure game that you actually have an active input beyond pressing buttons and who knows, it might be just what you need to get those motivation levels soaring.
Get Yourself a Nice Workout Kit
Working out can make even the most confident of us feel very self-conscious. If you throw on old clothes that don't necessarily make you feel very good about yourself, this will have a reflection on your motivation for going through with the workout at all. So, it's important to invest in a workout kit you'd actually like to be seen in. Factoring in comfort, warmth and breathability are all important key factors in putting together your workout kit. Don't get held back on those rainier days either by having a good waterproof coat at the ready too.
Is there a better source of motivation than the thought of having your favourite meal, watching that new show on Netflix or having a relaxing bath after your workout? Promising yourself these little treats for after you've finished your workout are important to keep yourself motivated and to recognise working out as being something rewarding within your life.
Every now and then, you decide to do something out of the ordinary. Something worthwhile. Something that will not only challenge you but also please you. Recently I had the privilege and pleasure of helping a group of local ladies fulfil that wish, as we embarked on the National Three Peaks Challenge.
This was one heck of a road trip! Leaving Belfast (in our snazzy Target Dry jackets), we first took on the highest peak in the UK, the mighty Ben Nevis in Scotland, before heading south to complete the extremely gorgeous and picturesque Scafell Pike in England, and finishing with the breath-taking Snowdon in Wales before sailing back to Dublin and driving north again to complete our challenge. Five countries travelled, three highest peaks climbed and nearly 1000 miles driven in 5 days. Needless to say a large glass of wine was entertained in the celebrations!
We chose to complete one peak a day, in comparison to the popular 24 hour challenge that seems to have grown rapidly over the last few years. It’s nice to see that the British Mountaineering Council is also recommending this approach. Personally, I am not a fan of the 24 hour structure. I feel it not only increases risk of injury when attempting to complete all three mountains in such a short time frame, but it also has a negative impact on the environment both on the hills and the surrounding areas in terms of traffic, littering and human waste. It also reduces the amount of financial spending taking place in local areas in terms of retail and tourism. The abundance of people being off loaded from a bus and ‘dumped’ on a mountain, to practically run straight up and down again, only to scramble straight back on to a bus….well, just simply fills me with a mixture of dread and disappointment!
I fully understand that taking on a challenge such as The Three Peaks, is often a test of physical and mental strength for a lot of people. I used to be a competitive athlete, so I get it! However, when it comes to the hills, I just don’t understand why you would want to rush that experience and miss out on fully enjoying your surroundings. Hiking against the clock, for me, takes away what hiking is all about. For me, submerging myself in nature in its purest form such as mountain ranges, is all about really appreciating the natural earth. It’s about watching cloud formations, watching weather systems approach, feeling the temperature change, the sun’s heat penetrate your body and the wind on your face. It’s about taking time to have a cup of tea and watch the ravens dance, listen to the wildlife sing their songs, and fully embrace the feeling of achievement and wholesomeness when finally standing on that summit. So, for me, I’m finding myself ask the question, ‘when did it all become about the challenge and not the experience’?
But hey, each to their own! I never say never, so who knows, one day I may find myself taking part in one of these challenges. Perhaps for a good cause such as a charity fundraiser. However, if I do, I will ensure I take the odd moment to look up, I won’t leave any trace and will gently look after the environment and surrounding areas that I have the privilege to explore.
With the weather starting to turn colder and the days getting shorter, you may be wondering how to stay fit and healthy this winter. Check out some of my top winter health tips below...
Keep Your Immune System Strong
One of the best ways to stay healthy is to keep your immune system running smoothly. Make sure you drink enough water, and eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and veg. Give your immune system an extra boost with foods that are high in vitamin C, like lemons, kiwifruit, capsicum and broccoli.
The NHS recommend getting at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, but instead most of us only get an average of six and a half. In winter, our bodies are naturally inclined to sleep more because of the longer nights - so embrace this and get all the rest you need.
During winter it's vital to stay active. Regular exercise will help strengthen your immune system, reduce stress levels, and help you stay on top of your fitness. Don't go overboard, though, as straining yourself too much will have the opposite effect. Aim for 20 minutes of aerobic exercise five days a week.
Get Some Fresh Air
One of the most easily overlooked winter health tips is the importance of getting outdoors into the fresh air every day. As your body works harder to stay warm, it produces endorphins which will create a strong sense of happiness, plus your body needs a daily dose of Vitamin D. Take advantage of the season to try a new activity, like ice skating, which will help encourage you out of the house.
When you do head out into the outdoors this winter, make sure you protect yourself from the elements. Dress in layers of sweat resistant materials, and go for items which are easy to take on and off, so that you can adjust your body temperature easily - and don't forget the importance of a good waterproof outer layer to protect yourself from both wind and rain.
Last night I had the most amazing workout. Ever.
I have been feeling a bit pressured with life recently so I am aware I need to make some peaceful time for myself to 'reset'. But I have also been feeling like I want to have bundles of energy to train hard and get through that massive To Do List. So, a bit muddled up lately. Do you ever get like that? Feel like you're spinning in circles and not getting anywhere fast?
For a while I've been craving a big workout with my beloved sandbags, and because it was such a beautiful evening I grabbed them and headed for the coast. I was definitely not disappointed.
The environment and pace of life of the great outdoors simply lent itself to the most perfect combination for a calm, but strong workout. I trained my body well, while also managing to calm my anxiety, decrease the stress levels, and gain some clarity again. I didn't leave feeling 'pumped' or buzzing full of high energy endorphins. I felt strong and content. A wonderful feeling.
I put together three different workout routines, which I really enjoyed, and the scenery...well, you can see for yourself! It certainly did the trick. The environment definitely contributed to me feeling totally energized, revitalized, strong and de-stressed. Amazing. And it's moments like this that reiterate why I am so passionate, through Tribal Fitness, to provide other women with the support to engage in similar outdoor training opportunities. The benefits really are endless.
Grab your trainers, fitness gear and of course a waterproof jacket and head outdoors. Whether it's for a run, jog or a power walk, you will feel calm, renewed and ready for what life may throw at you.
After the hottest September on record, now in mid-October the chilly weather has finally set in. We’re finding it harder to get up in the mornings with the darkness still lingering at 7am and finding ourselves reaching for a woolly jumper to wear in to the office. It can be a very tempting time of year to hang up the gym gear and lie up in front of the fire with a hot chocolate and a film. Forget about the exercise routine for a couple of months and just relax indoors in the heat.
Tempting as it may be, there are too many benefits to ignore when it comes to keeping up your fitness routine through the winter months. You’ll keep your fitness levels high (not to mention your spirits!), improve your immune system and help keep those extra pounds at bay with the coming over-indulgent holiday season.
We’ve put together a post with a few tips for staying motivated, keeping up your routine and staying safe as you continue to run the roads in the darker mornings and evenings.
With the dark evenings setting in, now is the time to make sure you are wearing the right clothes to ensure you are visible to other runners, cyclists and motorists. Very often we see too many runners out in dark clothing which makes them hard to spot and consequently makes them very vulnerable. Make sure you invest in some high-vis gear such as our Mac in a Sac Active Lite Running Jacket, and you could even add some ankle and wrist straps to make you stand out even more.
There’s nothing worse than heading out for a run and then getting caught in a downpour you weren’t expecting. The British winter can be extremely treacherous, casting all kinds of precipitation on you when you least expect it. Make sure you check the forecast and if you think the weather is looking too bad, don’t force yourself out the door for the sake of your routine. You could fall and hurt yourself in icy weather and then it could be even longer waiting to get out for your next run. If you insist on making it out in the rain, you will need a breathable waterproof jacket like our Mac in a Sac 2 to make sure you stay dry while keeping you well ventilated on your run.
You could plan to go running with a friend during the colder months. This will keep spirits high and will mean you have someone to motivate you when you’re not feeling in the mood to exercise. Even if you go running on your own, make sure you tell someone when and where you are running to and when you will be home. Safety first.
It might be a good idea to plan your route ahead of your run. This way, you can plan to run a different route than usual to keep things interesting, or you could plan a shorter journey than you normally would run in warmer weather. Just keep telling yourself at least it’s not as long as usual!
Another good idea is to have a little treat waiting for you when you get home. Even if it’s just a cup of tea. Tell yourself you can’t have it unless you go for a run first.