I knew it! Chocolate is good for you!

Like most chocoholics, I am always on the lookout for articles that justify my addiction. Luckily yesterday’s story by Runner’s World: “Burn Fat with Chocolate” had me happily reaching for the Lindt 70% Cocoa without feeling guilty.

Of the examples given to prove chocolate’s goodness, I particularly liked number 3:

It boosts your staying power

From reducing your cholesterol levels to easing inflammation, the antioxidants in chocolate could help tackle your risk factors for heart disease – which in turn means you can exercise safely, for longer. One HarvardUniversity study found apples to be the only food with a higher antioxidant count per 100kcal”.

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Doing my bit for charity

Today I took part in the annual Pink Ribbon 4km charity event in Zurich. Our team “P P Rioters” was one of the largest with a total of 18 members (including mummies and some kids) and we raised a whopping 750 francs for breast cancer research!

The weather was perfect and a change of course this year made the distance feel much shorter than 4kms or perhaps I’m just used to longer distances now after my half marathon last weekend.

As you’ll see from the pics, some of our team members took the ‘riot’ theme seriously and wore very attractive bubble gum pink balaclavas!

Looks like some of the “P P’s” will also be joining me and others for the Zurich New Year’s Eve Fun Run in December. Can’t wait!

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Why am I craving eggs?

This was a question I was asking myself last night as I was making dinner as all I really wanted to eat was a boiled egg!

Maybe this doesn’t sound strange to some of you, but for me this is not a normal occurrence. Eggs have never been part of my weekly diet and I have definitely never ‘craved’ them.

So, I did a bit of online research to find out if this was normal for runners and found the following useful explanation from Runner’s World which explains why my body wants eggs:

“One egg fulfills about 10 percent of your daily protein needs. Egg protein is the most complete food protein short of human breast milk, which means the protein in eggs contains all the crucial amino acids your hard-working muscles need to promote recovery. Eat just one of these nutritional powerhouses and you’ll also get about 30 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin K, which is vital for healthy bones. And eggs contain choline, a brain nutrient that aids memory, and leutin, a pigment needed for healthy eyes. Choose omega-3 enhanced eggs and you can also increase your intake of healthy fats. Don’t worry too much about the cholesterol: Studies have shown that egg eaters have a lower risk for heart disease than those who avoid eggs.”

This is an excert from their article “The Best Foods for Runner’s” which is worth reading too. Since reading this, I’ll also be adding Orange to my diet (not a fruit I normally eat), if it really can reduce muscle soreness!

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The recovery is over so on to the next challenge

It appears that I am still, sadly, a little naive about this new relationship in my life called running. After finishing the half-marathon on Saturday evening, I found myself floored on Monday with a cold and fever.

Naively (or stupidly!) I had assumed that recovery from the race would be similar to one of my long running sessions and my body would return to normal in a couple of days. Perhaps I hadn’t factored in the impact of running in the rain for so long plus the long walk back to the changing rooms before I could change into warm, dry clothes.

There was definitely a low point on Monday when I wondered whether it was all worth it but now that I am on day 4 of my recovery I am now thinking about the next challenge. So, I have entered a 10km run next month and have set myself the goal of improving my time. I may even try this tempo running programme that I’ve been reading about recently, but more on that later.

Now that I am focussed on my next race I feel much more relaxed and, more importantly, ready to go running again both physically and mentally.

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I made it! First half-marathon done and dusted

Yesterday was the day I found out whether the last two month’s of training had paid off as I lined up in the rain for the ’33rd Annual Greifensee Half-Marathon’ in Uster, Switzerland.

What I love most about running and racing is that you have to put in the hard work and the training or you are unlikely to reach your goal and, until you complete your race you can never really know whether you have done enough.

I’d been running slower in training to try not to aggravate my knee but decided on the starting line to run my usual race pace (not to say that that is very fast!). That enabled me to slightly beat my target of 2 hours and 30 minutes coming in at 2.22.19 and 272 place! It’s okay, I have resigned myself to not being the fastest runner in the world.

I am thrilled to have completed a half-marathon in my first season and, although I’ve only got some smaller runs coming up this year, I look forward to trying a couple of half-marathons in 2013.

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Foods that are good for running

A really useful list that luckily includes some of my favourite foods. Pity that chocolate doesn’t make the cut though…

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Have you warmed-up?

I am one of those people that is a little afraid of warming up before I run. There’s such a fine line between warming up your muscles and accidentally pulling one that worries me.

I’ve been combating this problem but doing some of the exercises from my strength training programme but unfortunately there is a major problem with these exercises: they all pretty much require you to lie down!

That’s okay when you are running from home, but I can’t see myself lying down on the ground before my half-marathon and being able to complete my warm-up.  So, I’ve scoured the web and found this useful warm-up routine that is specially designed for runners.

Just tried it for the first time and seemed to do the trick. If anyone has any other exercises that they would recommend then please let me know.

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Ouch! Why you need to do strength training

A couple of week’s ago I went out on a standard training run and after 6kms started to get pain in the side of my knee. I tried to run through the pain but then it moved to the muscle in the back of my knee and I felt like it was going to snap. So, I admitted defeat and walked home.

After consulting Google I thought it might be the dreaded ‘Runner’s Knee’ but my symptoms didn’t seem to fit. The next logical step was to contact my personal trainer/sister to discuss the problem. After listening to a lengthy explanation including a lot of long words I can’t remember it turned out that my gluts were not strong enough to support my knee. I’d actually read that I should be doing some strength training but thought naively that my muscles would strengthen naturally with the running.

My sister put a strength training programme together for me and I’m sharing it here because after just one week I was able to do a 15km run – pain free. Now I use the first couple of exercises to warm-up before each run to engage my gluts and then do the full programme 4 times a week.

I learnt the hard way that you need to do strength training so hope this programme can help others with their running too.

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Zurich’s New Year’s Eve Fun Run – Who’s in?

I’m putting together a group for this year’s Silvesterlauf – a New Year’s Eve fun run through the streets of Zurich that actually takes place on 16 December. I’ve got four team mates up for the 8km so far so let me know if you’d like to come along too.

BTW, if this event sounds familiar then it’s because I have mentioned it in earlier posts as the event that kick-started my running obsession last year! There’s just something about the atmosphere and the ringing of cow bells that really gets you wanting more.

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10 down 21 to go!

The running got in the way of myblogging for awhile but I am now on track again (hopefully)!

Since my last post I am happy to report that I completed the 10K Swiss Alpine event in Davos even though I had to contend with rain, thunder and lightening!

Although many people I spoke to told me that I would master the 10K reasonably quickly, I had still remained convinced that I would stick to my plan of just running this distance in my first season and then stepping up to the half-marathon in 2013. However, I realised after the Davos run that all that advice was indeed correct and have entered the 21K Greifenseelauf in two weeks time and have been following the fantastic Hal Higdon Novice 2 training programme. I researched a lot of programmes before settling on this one but though the idea of light running during the week following by one increasingly long run per week would suit me and so far so good.

What also came as a surprise with the extra training was the sudden blistering of feet etc that hadn’t happened with my 10k training. There was also the additional factor of needing to carry my own refreshments during training runs. This obviously required another shopping trip for better running socks, a drinks holder and some 3/4 length trousers to prevent any chaffing. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again “running is ‘surprisingly’ NOT a cheap sport”!

There are some other training issues that I have had to overcome during training but I will save those for my next blog.

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