AYE Club Keeps 18 Year Edinburgh Marathon Tradition Going

AYE Club Keeps 18 Year Edinburgh Marathon Tradition Going

Christopher Burns was not about to let a global pandemic stand in the way of him and an annual tradition spanning over 17 years.

As president and proud member of ‘The AYE Club’, Christopher was more determined than ever to not let 2020 go by without taking on the Edinburgh Marathon in some shape or form for the first time since its inception in 2003.

‘The AYE Club’, an acronym for ‘All Years Edinburgh’, is an informal group of runners who pride themselves on having run all of the current Edinburgh Marathon series – from 2003 onwards. As there was no full race in 2020, the number of AYE runners still stands at 18.

Christopher, a keen and experienced runner who specifically enjoys ultra running, was facing the rare prospect of a year with no running events, until the opportunity to participate in the EMF Virtual Challenge arose. With a 95 mile ultra run lined up for June next year, Christopher was determined to get some miles back in his legs.

Thankfully, Christopher’s running commute stood him in good stead for fitting the virtual Edinburgh Marathon around his busy life and job as a paramedic with the Scottish Ambulance Service;

“I’m used to working my long runs into my commute from West Linton into Edinburgh. I’ve now worked out how to do most of this off-road along old railway lines and, after a bit of mapping, sorted a route that was exactly 26.2 miles.” Christopher said.

Earlier this month, on his way to work, Christopher formally took on and completed his virtual Edinburgh Marathon which (while though not an AYE qualifying event), marked 18 consecutive years of the run and ensuring that the tradition would continue into next year.

He said of his run and untraditional route; “I was delighted to complete this on the 14th of December. There was one section of around 3 miles that was absolutely deserted and pitch black with only the ghosts of bygone steam trains and a glorious sheet of stars for company. Further down the line, I found myself flagging a bit but was massively inspired after a chance encounter with one of my best running pals.” 

Everyone celebrates completing a marathon differently, with some people keen to pop open the champagne immediately, others simply want a lie down, however neither of these options were on the table to Christopher, who still had his work as well as a long journey home ahead of him.

“Once at work, I had a shower and dinner before completing a night shift and then cycling the 17 miles back home again. I slept well after this!”

We’d like to say a massive well done to Christopher and thank him and the rest of the AYE Club for their support. We can’t wait to see you all again next year!

Read More
Kettlebell Exercises

It’s time to put the kettle on

Just milk, no sugar please.

It’s safe to say that home workouts have rocketed over the past few months with many people working from home and gyms being closed. Sales of kettlebells have gone through the roof, but how do you put them to best use for your running training?

Research has found that kettlebell training significantly boosts aerobic capacity, improves core strength and dynamic balance. This simple piece of equipment can develop muscular endurance, strength, power and cardiovascular capacity – all of which contribute to making you a better runner.

We’ve detailed some exercises below which you can incorporate into your home workout routine.

1. Squats

Squats are brilliant for building up the quads, hamstrings & glutes – muscles which all runners use in abundance!
Hold the kettlebell in both hands and squat until your elbows touch your knees. Only go as low as is comfortable, control the movement up and down, and don’t rush! The more controlled the movement, the better.
Set: 3 sets of 15 reps (1-min rest between sets)

2. Swings

Swings help to build strength in the hips – which we know causes problems for a lot of runners.
Make sure the kettlebell is at shoulder level, and remember to squeeze your glutes at the top of the swing.
Set: 2 sets of 50 swings (1-min rest between sets)

3. Single leg deadlift

This is a challenging exercise as it requires good core strength as well as balance/coordination, however the benefits to the hips, hamstrings and glutes are incredible, especially for runners.
Set: 3 sets of 10 reps

Not sure which weight of kettlebell you need?

If you can, get to the gym and experiment with the above exercises to see what feels right. If after 10 swings you’re really struggling, you’ve gone too heavy and vice-versa, if you finish them with ease then you’ve gone too light. You want to be able to complete all the sets and all the reps, but for those final reps to be hard work.

As a guide, a good starter weight for these exercises for women is 6-8 kg, and for men is 14-16 kg, but it really is down to the individual and what works best for you.

Read More
Top Five Tips for Winter Running


There’s no denying there’s been a definite shift in temperature recently, autumn is arriving and winter is definitely on it’s way. Plan ahead with our top 5 tips for training during the upcoming nippy time of year:

1. Make a Plan
Make plans to meet someone for a run, then there’s no backing out if you’re not quite in the mood for it. Making plans will help you to get motivated and stay on track throughout the winter.

2. Dress for the conditions
The general rule of thumb is to dress as if it’s 20 degrees warmer. You want to be warm but not overheating when you run. 10 to 20 degrees: 2 tops, 2 bottoms. 0 to 10 degrees: 3 tops, 2 bottoms. Two tops (fleece for the cold-prone) and a jacket. Minus 10 to 0 degrees: 3 tops, 2 bottoms, extra pair of gloves, 1 scarf wrapped around mouth or a balaclava.

3. Gone with the wind
Wind is brutal when running, especially in Scotland! Start your run into the wind and finish with it at your back, so the breeze doesn’t blast you after you’ve broken a sweat. To avoid a long, biting slog, you can break this into segments, running into the wind for about 10 minutes, turning around to run with the wind at your back for five minutes, and repeating.

4. Old habits die hard
Traditionally a morning runner? Why not try a lunchtime run instead when the temperatures are a bit warmer? Alternatively, try running twice a day, in the morning and in the evening – it’s better than doing one long run where you might get very cold toward the end.

5. Don’t forget water!
Staying hydrated is still important. Obviously you’ll need less water than in the summer months, but just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you don’t need to hydrate. A nice glass of ice cold water might be the last thing you want when the temperature’s low, but your body still needs the hydration.

Read More
Chris Tromans

Running around the world in 80 days

We’d like to wish a huge good luck to Chris Tromans who will be taking on the EMF Half Marathon virtually on Sunday 4th of October!

Chris is fundraising for mind, who provided him help and support after Chris found himself struggling with his own mental health at the beginning of lockdown.

His run tomorrow forms part of an ambitious fundraising effort, which Chris has titled “80 Days Around the World”. He’s been taking on his runs from the comfort of his own home via his treadmill, and he’s been using the BitGym app which shows video routes around the globe to help with motivation. He’s currently on day 30, meaning he’s still got a fair while to go!

He’s set himself a lofty target of £17,895.

Good luck, Chris! We’re sure you’ll smash it.

If you’d like to read more or donate please click the link below.

Chris’ JustGiving Page

Read More
Avoiding Overtraining

Avoiding Overtraining

Last week we asked our runners for any tips they had for new runners, or people who had increased their running during this period of lockdown. We got loads of great pieces of advice back, but one key issue that popped up more than any other was the importance of avoiding overtraining. 

Overtraining occurs when someone takes on more exercise than their body can recover from, which can lead to decreased performance and increased likelihood of injury. So to help out, we’ve put together some of the key warning signs of overtraining, and methods to overcome it!

Warning Signs of Overtraining

1) Decreased Performance

A key sign is lack of improvement despite consistent training. Overtraining can lead to a decrease in agility & endurance, negatively affecting running performance. 

2) Injuries

Another telltale sign is chronic or nagging injuries. Overused muscles can cause pain and slow recovery times. If your legs are noticeably sore at the beginning of or during runs, it’s probable that you’re overtraining.  

3) Fatigue

Heavy legs are to be expected now and again, but overtraining can lead to a feeling of persistent fatigue that can be hard to shake off. Excessive running doesn’t allow the body to fully recover, which can lead to fatigue & a higher perceived effort/heart rate than usual.

How to Avoid Overtraining

1) Adapt your Schedule

For some, especially new runners, it can be tempting to go out looking for PBs each time you put your trainers on, but a varied running schedule with different paces and intensities can be key to avoiding overtraining and building up your fitness gradually. 

2) The 90% Rule

It can also be really beneficial to lower the intensity of your running. There can be a temptation to empty the tank and really go for it at the end of a good run, but keeping things controlled is actually better for you long term. The 90% rule suggests that you should use 90% of your maximum effort, and leave a little bit in the tank so that you’re not crawling home from the run. 

3) Rest Properly

Accepting the importance of rest days can be difficult, but they are vitally important to your body’s recovery. Giving your body the chance to fully recover is key to improvement, and helps reduce the chance of injury.

4) Focus on Nutrition

This one may seem simple but a varied, healthy diet can go a long way to aiding the body’s recovery process. You need to keep your body fueled, so try to ensure a balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats.

Read More
Smoothie Recipes for Runners

Smoothie Recipes for Runners

There’s nothing worse than running on an empty stomach. Not having the energy to fuel the performance you’re capable of can be frustrating and ultimately demoralising for runners. Smoothies are a really effective and healthy way to increase your energy levels and can boost recovery post-run. 

Here are our top 5 recipes.

1) Banana Smoothie

– 1 cup of milk (whatever kind is your preference)
– 1 large banana
– 1 tablespoon of peanut/almond butter
– ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional)

This is a really easy and quick one, simply pop all the ingredients into your blender and then blitz until you get a consistency you’re happy with. Bananas are perfect for an active lifestyle, they’re quick and easy to eat, and they provide energy through their healthy carbohydrates and potassium. This helps control muscle contractions during activity and also aids recovery by restoring electrolyte balance post-activity.

2) Green Smoothie

– 1 cup of almond milk
– 1 apple
– 2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves
– 1 tablespoon of peanut/almond butter
– 1 scoop protein powder (optional)

If you can see past the colour it turns your smoothie, spinach is a great ingredient. It’s low in calories, but high in fiber, iron, zinc, folate, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K. The nitric oxide reduces the amount of oxygen muscles require during activity, making running easier and reducing the chance of injury. Just 2 small handfuls in your smoothie will provide a huge amount of nutrional benefit! Blitz all the ingredients together and pop in a scoop of protein if desired.

3) Blueberry Smoothie

– 1 cup of milk
– 1 cup blueberries
– 1 cup blackberries
– 1/2 cup of Greek yoghurt 
– 1 large banana
– 1 scoop protein powder (optional)

Blueberries are incredibly good for you. They are very low in calories but high in nutrients. They’re packed with antioxidants, which protect your body from unstable molecules that can damage your cells and contribute to aging and diseases. Adding the yoghurt into this recipe is not only delicious but is a good source of protein and calcium. Again just pop in to the blender and blitz until its smooth.

4) Tropical Smoothie

– 1 cup of milk
– ¼ cup of Greek yoghurt
– 1 large banana
– 1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks
– 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
– 1 teaspoon dessicated coconut (optional)
– 1 teaspoon honey (optional)

Pineapples are packed with immune-boosting nutrients and enhance heart health by dissolving artery plaque. They’re great to eat post activity as they reduce the time it takes to recover from exercise due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Mango is full of fiber and antioxidants making this smoothie packed with nutrition and perfect for a runner pre or post run. Put the ingredients in the blender and blend till its done. Add the coconut and/or honey if you like your smoothies a little bit sweeter.

5) Avocado Smoothie

– 1 cup of almond milk
– 1 ripe avocado
– 1 cup greek yoghurt
– 1 kiwi

Avocado is full of healthy fats. This helps to fill you up, meaning a single avocado can reduce the desire to overeat or snack later in the day. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat, making them a great source of energy for longer exercise sessions. A whole avocado contains around 230 calories – providing 3g of protein and 9g of fibre, which ensures high energy levels and stabilised blood sugar.

Read More
Healthy Snack Options

Healthy Snack Options

It’s a strange time, and being asked to vastly reduce our time outside has meant that many of us are spending far more time at home than we’re used to. For some, being at home all day makes little difference to the daily routine, but for others, it can lead to an increased urge to snack. So to help out, we’ve put together a list of guilt-free, healthy snacks that can actually boost your energy and improve your running performance!

1) Bananas

This is an obvious one. Bananas are quick and easy to eat whilst simultaneously being a great source of potassium, boosting muscle function. They’re full of good carbs and are beneficial to the body before, during or after a run.

2) Popcorn

Corn kernels are whole grain, making them nutritionally similar to whole wheat bread or brown rice. So as long as you’re not covering your popcorn in butter, sugar or salt, it’s a low calorie and highly filling snack!

3) Carrots & Hummus

Carrots are another snack that are low in calories but filling. They’re a good source of potassium and fibre to the body, which helps slow down the digestive system and give the body a steadier supply of nutrients. Why not make your carrots a bit more interesting and pair with hummus? Hummus provides runners with iron and protein, which is essential for the body. 

4) Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is absolutely packed with protein, which helps runners by boosting muscle rebuilding and repair. It’s also a good source of calcium, which can help reduce the chances of bone injury.

5) Dates

Dates are a common snack for runners. They’re naturally very sweet and like the other snacks on the list, provide a lot of carbohydrates and protein with relatively low calories. Dates pair well with nuts, which are another good source of protein.

6) Hard-Boiled Eggs

Eggs are incredibly nutritional, and provide high amounts of protein, riboflavin and biotin. They’re very easy to make in bulk and serve as a highly nutritious meal on the go. 

Photo by Rachael Gorjestani on Unsplash

Read More
Taking Care of your Mental Health and Wellbeing

Taking Care of your Mental Health and Wellbeing

In times like this, being asked to stay at home and avoid other people can be daunting and it might feel quite difficult to manage your mental health and wellbeing.  

It is going to feel like a difficult time and will feel harder than usual to look after yourself, but we have put together a few ideas that may help:

1.    Create a Regular Routine – Write out a schedule or plan to follow which you can easily access and see every day. Try to follow your usual routine as much as possible. Get up early, continue with your normal morning routine and go to sleep at your usual time.

2.     Plan for Working at Home – If you can, set up a workspace with everything you need and take regular breaks in a different area of your home for a change of scene.

3.     Keep Busy – Try and find ways to spend your time. Have that clear out that you’ve been putting off for months or a spring clean to organise your belongings. You could also use this time to contact loved ones who you’ve been meaning to catch up.

4.     Keep Active – Try to include exercise into your daily routine. Many of us don’t have equipment at home but why not get creative and find things you could use as alternatives? There are also lots of resources online with exercise workouts you can follow.

5.     Coping with Anxiety and Claustrophobia – Try and find safe zones in your homes and work on breathing exercises. Open your windows, sit in your garden, try and get some fresh air. Regularly change the rooms you’re spending time in. 

If you’re looking for more advice on how to take care of your mental health and wellbeing during this time there are a number of charities that are offering advice at this time:

SAMH – https://www.samh.org.uk/about-mental-health/self-help-and-wellbeing/coronavirus-and-your-mental-wellbeing

MIND – https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/#collapse816a3

Young Minds – https://youngminds.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/youngminds-publishes-advice-for-young-people-and-parents-on-mental-health-impact-of-coronavirus/

Read More
Why Fresh Air is so Important

Why Fresh Air is so Important

With the world’s current climate, social distancing and self-isolation are more important than ever. So, unfortunately all of us will be spending a lot more time inside our homes. BUT we also know how important it is to keep our mind and body healthy by getting some crisp, fresh air. 

Getting outside (responsibly) for a walk, a run or just having a break from the indoors can be so beneficial for your mental and psychical health.

Here are our top 3 reasons why you should get out and get some fresh air:

1) More Energy and a Sharper Mind

Being able to go for a walk or a run is a great way to break up the day. Once you’ve been out, you’ll find your energy levels are up and your concentration levels will have improved. It’s said that more oxygen leads to greater brain functioning!

2) A Change of Scene

Staring at a computer or television screen all day isn’t as fun as it sounds! Getting out and having a change of scenery can help increase your motivation and productivity levels.

3) Fresh Air makes you Happier

Research has found links between increasing oxygen levels and the increase in serotonin (the happy hormone)! Positive emotions have been associated with being outside and getting fresh air.

Even if you’re struggling to go for a wander round your local area, make sure you’re keeping windows open, relaxing in your garden and even just having breaks to keep your mind and body healthy!

Read More
Blackhall Primary are the 2019 EMF Junior Schools Champions

Blackhall Primary School are the 2019 EMF Junior Schools Competition Champions!

A huge congratulations to the pupils of Blackhall Primary School, who have today been revealed as the winners of the 2019 Edinburgh Marathon Festival Junior Schools competition, seeing off stiff competition from a number of schools in the Edinburgh & Lothians area.

Over 1,700 children from schools across Edinburgh, The Lothians and Fife took part in the Edinburgh Marathon Festival Junior Races last May, marking the biggest year in the events’ history.

Young runners aged 6-8 took part in the 1.5K race and 9-12 year olds raced over 2K as part of a packed weekend of running last May which also included the 5K, 10K, Team Relay, Half Marathon and Marathon.

Due to the success of the events in recent years, two new junior races were introduced to the Festivals line up in 2017- the Junior 5K open to kids aged 11-18 and the Kids’ Kilometre accommodating ages 3-6.

30 pupils from Blackhall Primary School took on the junior races at EMF Saturday last year and each did their school proud. The school will be awarded with their winning trophy and £150 sports equipment vouchers in the coming weeks.

Four different Junior races will take place throughout the day on Saturday 23rd May at the 2020 Edinburgh Marathon Festival. Entries are filling up fast so enter now to avoid disappointment and secure your spot at the starting line.

For more information and to enter, visit www.edinburghmarathon.com.

Read More