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.

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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.

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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

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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/

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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!

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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.

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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. Winter sun
If all else fails, book a flight and head somewhere warm for your Vitamin D fix!

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Mental Health Benefits of Running


Apart from the obvious health benefits that running can give you, it can provide many psychological advantages too. No matter your circumstance, running can help ease your mind and get you back on the right track. Here are some positive changes that running can bring to you:

1. Stress Reliever
Whatever you are stressing about, getting active can significantly reduce this. Lacing up your trainers can help with relaxation, anxiety and negative thinking cycles. Running can help your body control stress and deal with existing mental tension. Long distance runs can help you solve problems that have been nagging you. Whilst shorter speed runs can reduce aggression and tension. Make running your new friend.

2. Your new sleeping pill
Nobody wants to be tossing and turning in bed late at night. Indulging in physical exercise, whether that is running or another form, can be your new way of counting sheep at night. Moderate exercise can also significantly improve the sleep of insomnia sufferers.

3. Decreases depression
Running can be a fantastic way of combatting that sluggish and withdrawn feeling that is associated with depression. Regular exercise can boost your mood if you have depression, and it’s especially useful for people with mild to moderate depression. Running can take your mind off worries so you can get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety.

4. Self-esteem boost
If you’re suffering from low self-esteem in adulthood, go for a run and watch your confidence soar. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins, natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being. Exercising in the great outdoors can also result in lowered blood pressure and increased self-esteem. Get your running shoes on and watch your confidence soar.

5. Increased creativity
An invigorating run can boost creativity for up to two hours afterwards. Next time you find yourself staring at a blank page waiting for a genius idea to pop into your head, get those legs moving and refresh your body and brain at the same time by going on a jog.

So the next time you’re having a bad day or you want that extra hour in bed, remember all the benefits your body will enjoy from getting active.

Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 116 123.
CALM, an anonymous helpline for men is open 7 days a week, 5pm to midnight. 0800 58 58 58.

It’s okay not to be okay. Let’s keep talking.

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Edinburgh Marathon announces exclusive offer for London Marathon ballot entrants


ORGANISERS of the Edinburgh Marathon are calling on London Marathon ballot entrants to also enter the 2020 Edinburgh Marathon.

The event is part of the ever-growing Edinburgh Marathon Festival taking place in Scotland’s capital across the May Bank Holiday weekend on 23-24th May.

Runners who have entered the London Marathon ballot will anxiously anticipate whether they have been successful, with results not due to be announced until October. Thousands of disappointed runners who do not receive a place will seek an alternative spring marathon to enter.

The 2020 Edinburgh Marathon takes place on 24th May and is one of the biggest and best the UK has to offer, making it the ideal alternative to London.

The fast and flat route takes in the city’s iconic sights before heading east for the coastline, making Edinburgh the perfect marathon choice for first timers or marathon veterans alike who have set their sights on achieving a PB.

For a limited time, Edinburgh Marathon Festival organisers are offering to refund entrants who are successful in the London Marathon ballot, and decide they no longer wish to participate in the Edinburgh event. The offer will remain open until the end of August.

Annette Drummond, Edinburgh Marathon Festival Marketing Director, said: “Many runners set their sights on a number of marathons alongside London and wait until post-ballot announcement to make alternative arrangements if unsuccessful”.

“This offer is a fantastic way for runners to have peace of mind that they’ve secured a marathon place and can confidently begin a training schedule – with the added option of running London instead if the opportunity arises. Although many do choose to run both!”.

The Edinburgh Marathon Festival now annually attracts more than 36,000 runners each year, has had an economic impact of more than £40 million for Scotland’s capital and helped raise more than £60 million for hundreds of charities.

This offer is only available until the end of August. For more information and to enter CLICK HERE.

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Thousands of runners take part in seventeenth Edinburgh Marathon Festival

Thousands of runners take part in seventeenth Edinburgh Marathon Festival

Sunday’s drizzly weather made for challenging running conditions on one of the world’s fastest marathon courses, where for the second year running, the Edinburgh Marathon Festival collaborated with not-for-profit organisation ‘Project Africa Athletics’ to welcome talented, developing athletes that may not otherwise get the opportunity to take part in a race with the status of the Edinburgh Marathon.

Kenya’s Dan Tanui raced to glory with a winning time of 2 hours 30 minutes and 13 seconds.

“The course is good and there was lots of support and cheering along the way, I found the wind challenging today, I’m hoping to come back next year to retain my title.”

London’s Ollie Garrod claimed second place in 2 hours 32 minutes and ten seconds, followed by Inverurie’s Tom Roche in 2 hours 32 minutes and 19 seconds.

The women’s race was dominated by Winchester’s Melanie Wilkins who lead from the front with a time of 2 hours 42 minutes and 56 seconds.

“This is my first time in Edinburgh and I’m very happy to win!”

Megan Crawford from Fife in 2 hours 54 minutes and 2 seconds and Carys Hughes, Cardiff in 2 hours 54 minutes and 7 seconds completed the podium.

Conquering 26.2 miles isn’t tough enough for some, Jeremy Hill from Edinburgh completed a ‘hairy’ – the collective name used to describe the grand slam of running a marathon, half marathon, 10k and 5k over the weekend. Jeremy ran for the MS Society and the MS Therapy Centre Lothian in support of his wife who has the condition.

At the finish line, a tired Jeremy said: “I’m so glad to be finished, I almost didn’t make it from the half marathon finish! I got a PB last year and just thought ’why not’ when I saw the Hairy challenge.”

Claire Dalrymple from Edinburgh crossed the Edinburgh Marathon finish line for the 17th time. This year was particularly poignant for Claire – she ran in memory of her husband Stephen for the events Official Charity Macmillan Cancer Support.

Stephen sadly passed away in February after losing his battle against Oesophageal cancer. Throughout his illness, Stephen and Claire received incredible support from the charity to ensure the precious time they had left together was spent making happy memories.

“Throughout Stephen’s illness I kept running to keep me strong and focused, it really was my therapy” explained Claire.

“I’m raising money to say thank you to Macmillan for all their help and support.” As part of her fundraising challenge Claire also completed the London Marathon in April and is looking ahead to the Harris Marathon later this year.

Salford’s Karl Darcy stormed to victory in Sunday morning’s half marathon with a winning time of 1 hour 7 minutes and 40 seconds. Local favourite Neil Renault took second place with a time of 1 hour 9 minutes and 46 seconds, and Billy Hobbs completed the podium in third with a time of 1 hour 10 minutes and 20 seconds.

Karl said “It was a really great course, good conditions for running, although the last 2 miles were tough. I decided to run hard and just go for it!”

Birmingham’s Molly Browne was the winner in the women’s race with a time of 1 hour 18 minutes and 27 seconds.

Molly said: “It felt really good, the support was really good on the course. I ran in Edinburgh two years ago but today was a bit different, I’m really pleased.”

She was followed by Glasgow’s Sarah Potter in 1 hour 18 minutes and 51 seconds with Bathgate’s Jo Williams finishing in third place with a time of 1 hour 19 minutes and 26 seconds.

Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park played host to Saturday’s action with the 10k, 5k and junior races kicking off the festival’s line up.

Londoner Ewan Cameron was first home in the EMF 10K race with a winning time of 33 minutes and 17 seconds.

Commenting on his win he said “It was fantastic! I went to Edinburgh University, then after I finished university I took a 17 year hiatus from running, so it was good to be back!”

First female in the EMF 10K was West Yorkshire’s Sarah Cumber in a time of 38 minutes and 26 seconds.

Sarah said “We’re here to visit one of our friends, I’ve never raced in Scotland before. It was great! Lovely weather and the views were absolutely beautiful, everyone was so supportive.”

Catherine Meyer stole the show in the women’s 5K field as she set a new course record with a winning time of 18 minutes and 37 seconds.

The American said: “It was good! I’m studying in London for a year and my brother’s running the marathon tomorrow so my whole family are in Edinburgh and I figured I’d run the 5K the day before!”

Sixteen year old Cameron Bullen from Dunbar was the first finisher with a winning time of 17 minutes and 40 seconds.

Commenting on his win he said: “I thought it was a really well organised event, going up the hill was tough but once I got there, I stormed the downhill. I’m thinking of coming back to take on the 10K next year.”

Around 1600 youngsters took part in Saturday’s junior races, consisting of the 1.5k for 6-8 year olds and the 2k for 9-12 year olds, as well as both the Junior 5K and the Kids’ Kilometre.

Three year old Anne Murphy completed the Kids’ Kilometre with dad Tom and officially started the race alongside mum Cheryl.

The family took part  in memory of daughter and sister Edie who tragically died after a short and sudden illness in October 2015 aged only two.

Cheryl said: “Running helped us so much after Edie died and continues to. It’s a way for us to keep her memory alive”.

Their involvement in the Edinburgh Marathon Festival forms part of a wide range of fundraising activities Cheryl and Tom have undertaken over the years to raise an incredible £25,000 for Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity and they hope to surpass the £30,000 mark this year.

“We will continue to support this charity forever now as it holds a very special place in our hearts and is part of a beautiful legacy for Edie”. 

Fourteen runners from El Salvador travelled to Edinburgh to take part in the marathon, half marathon & 10K events. They ran in tribute to one of their group, Maria Olimpia Escobar de Melhado.

Maria was stabbed on an early morning training run whilst preparing for the event, and tragically passed away on Saturday 18th May.

Oscar Edgardo Melhado, Maria’s brother-in-law said: “These are the risks that our runners take, in our country plagued with crime, to keep our passion for running. We are not giving up, Maria Olimpia taught us that love and passion transform ugly realities.”

“Our beloved Maria Olimpia started running 10 years ago and was very enthusiastic. She created at least two runners’ groups mainly of ladies. She encouraged many of her friends to register to the Edinburgh Half and Full Marathon and organized the trip. We will always remember her joyful and cheerful personality”.

Neil Kilgour, Edinburgh Marathon Festival Director, said: “2019 has been another incredible year for Edinburgh Marathon Festival with outstanding performances, tens of thousands of participants and millions raised for good causes.

“We are so proud to host a truly world class running event in Scotland’s capital for runners of all ages from across the globe. Congratulations to everyone who took part. Thanks for making the 2019 Edinburgh Marathon Festival one of the UK’s greatest mass participation events. Come and see us again next year!”    

Runners from the Edinburgh Marathon Festival Official Charity, Macmillan Cancer Support, together with hundreds of other charities, are hoping to raise more than £5 million for worthy causes.

Entries for the 2020 Edinburgh Marathon Festival which takes place on Bank Holiday Weekend on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th May 2020 are open with an early bird discount for everyone who registers before midnight on Sunday 9th June at www.edinburghmarathon.com

Join the running chat:

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