A light-hearted look at running, cycling and general fitness. JogBlog provides novice runners with a starting point to get them to make achievable running goals, while providing the tips, inspiration and advice that they need to push themselves.
Emma at BowCom takes a little look at how track running could be one of the greatest things that you could take up this year:
Running Improves Your Knees
With track running, you will have a coach that will know exactly how to get the most out of each session, therefore recommending you the best stretches for your knees and legs. There is always someone that will point out how bad running is for your knees – often the older generation such as your grandparents. However, science is out to prove them wrong. A paper in Arthritis Care and Research revealed that non-runners are more likely to suffer with knee pain and knee arthritis than runners. There is a lack of links between knee arthritis, osteoarthritis and running, so next time a family member tells you not to run, just remember that they are wrong.
Relay Races Can Improve Teamwork
All four members in a relay race rely on each other, which is why running a track relay with a group of other runners will give you the concept of working as part of a team. If one runner doesn’t complete the race to their best potential, then it will have to be made up elsewhere and let’s be honest, nobody wants that guilt.
It Helps you Eat Healthier
If you had a track running class on a Monday evening, then the chances are you’re going to binge on running fuel rather than fizzy drinks and pizza, which will most likely make your running experience quite unpleasant. Coaches encourage runners to eat healthier throughout the week to improve performance, and this might be the encouragement needed to put down the fries and pick up the banana instead.
It Improves Fitness
If you find that you’re often out of breath after a few steps, then track running should be the activity you next take up. Not only does running improve your cardio fitness but it has been proven to decrease your risk of heart attacks and strokes. Track running ensures that your unwanted fat burns off and your muscle begins to tone. Measure how far you can run on a track without the need to stop and aim to improve this distance each track session – there is nothing greater than a sense of achievement!
It will make you happier
Often, runners take up running as it gives them the chance to clear their mind and to escape the stresses from work and home life. Endorphins are released while running which means that moods are instantly improved, so if you have ever heard of a runner’s high then it’s the hormones creating a sense of euphoria. Runners tend to focus on their distance and goals rather than family and work stresses. Plus, if you set running goals then you’ll feel proud and accomplished rather than focusing your attention on worries outside of the track.
Track running and competitive running teaches you more than understanding distance and timing. Track running will teach you several important life skills that you’ll be able to use off track as well as on. Some of these traits include commitment, dedication and even discipline.
Diet plays a big part in any fitness regime, if you want to get the most out of your workout. You can, of course, live on a diet of pizza, cheese on toast and beer but you’ll constantly feel sluggish and, ergo, your workout will, in turn, also be sluggish (if you can be bothered to get out the door in the first place, that is).
Eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables will ensure you ingest a wide variety of vitamins, with some being better for runners than others. Here are some of the vitamins that are great for runners, and how to get them.
(Please note that this blog is written by a vegetarian so I won’t be mentioning any meat or fish sources)
Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin for everyone – not just runners. In fitness terms though, it is vital for energy as it helps to break down fat and protein in the food you eat. A deficiency in B12 can lead to fatigue and a lack of concentration.
B12 is found in eggs and dairy (and a lot of products such as soya milk and vegan cheese is fortified with it) but vegans may need to take a supplement such as this one by Naturelo B Complex which gives you all the B vitamins you need.
I broke my foot earlier this year and couldn’t walk, let alone run, for about three months. I consulted Dr Google to find out what food was good for bones and then spent three months eating so much spinach my skin turned a hue of pale green (the pale green bit may not actually be true).
Obviously, runners need strong bones (they obviously need not to fall over when they’re drunk and break their feet too), which is where calcium comes in. As well as the aforementioned spinach; calcium is abundant in milk – including fortified plant-milk such as almond or soya – tofu and chia seeds.
If you asked anyone what health benefits bananas had, they’d probably say ‘potassium’, as that seems to be all anyone knows about bananas. They’re obviously good for fitness though, as evidenced by all the banana-munching monkeys swinging around the jungle. (This may of course just be a stereotype and an unfair generalisation about monkeys, as I’ve never actually seen a monkey eat a banana. Then again, I’ve never been to a jungle.)
Aside from swinging through trees, potassium is good for hydration and maintaining muscle function. As well as bananas, you can also find potassium in potatoes, yoghurt and dried fruit.
Zinc’s not really something people think about on a day-to-day basis. Although, here I go generalising again – for all I know, people in offices, parks and pubs up and down the country could be discussing the benefits of zinc all day every day.
Anyway, what is zinc good for and how do you get it? Zinc helps wounds to heal, breaks down carbs and helps your immune system to run properly. And the really good news is, it’s found in loads of tasty stuff like hummus, dark chocolate and garlic. Now I’m wondering what garlic hummus with dark chocolate would be like. My guess is ‘yum’.
Vitamin D, along with calcium, is vital for bone health, as vitamin D allows bones to absorb calcium. Although Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because our bodies can make and absorb Vitamin D from exposure to the sun, here in the UK, sun is usually in short supply so we need to find it elsewhere, either in food or in a supplement. Food sources include mushrooms, fortified plant milk and orange juice, eggs and dairy.
These are just a few of the vitamins and minerals that anyone into fitness needs. Although eating a healthy, balanced diet is the best way to get these vitamins on a daily basis, time constraints, availability and general can’t-be-bothered-to-cook-today-ness sometimes gets in the way and therefore a supplement might be a good idea. Naturelo have a wide range of vegetarian and vegan-friendly supplements made from organically grown fruit and veg.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make some garlic and chocolate flavoured hummus to get my zinc fix.
Spring is finally here – what better way to improve your fitness and general wellbeing by getting out on your bike, and seeing the sights?
Cycling is one of the best ways to keep fit and allows you to explore your surroundings in a much more natural manner than being stuck on a treadmill at a gym. This is the perfect time to get on a bike – you can get great deals with Halfords money off vouchers.
A study conducted by the YMCA indicated that people who have an active lifestyle had a wellbeing score 32 points higher than those who lead sedentary, inactive lives. Exercise boosts your sense of wellbeing both physiologically, through the release of serotonin and endorphins, and through the sense of achievement on attaining goals.
Cycling allows you the options of either going solo – giving you time to concentrate on your own concerns– or riding as part of a team, a great way to make new friends. The famous cyclist Graham Obree found cycling an invaluable way to combat depression, and has commented; “Without cycling, I don’t know where I would be.”
The UK is undergoing an obesity crisis, where it carries the dubious distinction of being the most overweight country in Western Europe. Being overweight can cause many serious health issues, including diabetes and heart conditions. Cycling’s a great way to burn up those excess calories and lose weight. What’s more, all that exercise will convert your flab into lean muscle, especially around your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. Moreover,people with a higher percentage of muscle burn more calories even when inactive, so its an ongoing process. With your new leaner body, you should look great in spandex!
Cycling also contributes to having a healthier heart, as research conducted by the University of Glasgow last year indicated. Researchers studied over 260,000 individuals over the course of five years – and found that cycling to work can cut a rider’s risk of developing heart disease or cancer in half. No wonder cycling is so highly recommended by the NHS in combatting heart disease.
Cycling to work can also save you money, and give you more time in the morning, cutting back on stress, and perhaps even allowing the luxury of indulging in a full breakfast, which is also highly recommended to set you up for the day. The idea of cycling through rush hour traffic might not sound good for your lungs, but research conducted by The Healthy Air Campaign, Kings College London and Camden Council indicated that a cyclist cutting through central London absorbed less air pollution than a car driver, pedestrian or bus passenger!
A healthy mind in a healthy body has been a tenet of health since Roman times, and cycling is the perfect way to achieve this. Exercise has been repeatedly linked to brain health and can help prevent Alzheimer’s. Studies have shown that cycling boosts blood supply to the brain by at least 28 per cent, even up to 70 per cent in some areas. This increased blood flow can remain up to 40 per cent even after exercise – so cycling won’t just improve your body, it will also improve your mind.
You don’t have to be a fitness guru to know there’s a debate between cardio and weights. But what’s the right path when you’re trying to get lean and fit? Do you have to focus more on cardio or are weights the better way to go?
If you’re like me when I first started, you’re probably just trying to figure things out. Well, if you’ve been doing your research, I’m sure you’re already super-confused and overwhelmed by all the information out there. Some people will tell you it’s enough to keep on doing your cardio routine, but then you’ll go to the next fitness guru and they’ll tell you strength exercises are the miracle workout you have to do.
So which is it? Below we explore the best routines to follow when you want a slim body with the added benefit of muscle definition.
Cardio vs. Weights
Before I starting talking about routine, I think it’s best to let you guys know why it’s important to have balance in your training.
First of all, when your goal is weight loss, most people will recommend you focus on cardio.
It’s sad that even so-called pro trainers would put you on a treadmill and leave you there to sweat away. It’s not the best solution, and by the end of the day, you won’t burn that much fat anyway. You need at least a session of 70 to 80 minutes of intense exercise to switch your body to fat burning mode and this is difficult even for advanced athletes!
If you focus on cardio, you’ll end up (eventually) being slimmer, but there won’t be any muscle definition.
On the other hand, if you focus only on weights, you’ll bulk up. Ladies may bulk up less, because it’s not in our genes, but still, muscles will develop. Ultimately there won’t be any leanness to your body.
This is why you have to combine the two in a balanced routine.
Cardio and Weights
It’s recommended to follow a routine that allows you to incorporate both steps into every training session. For instance, if you do your workouts at home, rowing machines are a great option for cardio but they also significantly strengthen your shoulders and back muscles. The best rowing machines, like concept 2 rowers, can even be hired online.
But if you’re more of a gym rat, you can start with a 30 to 45 minutes cardio routine where you keep your heart rate high. To make sure you are actually working at a rate where your body is working hard, you should be sweating and breathing heavily by the end of the routine.
Cardio can mean anything from using a treadmill, stationary bicycle, stepper, or a HIIT routine. So you have plenty of options.
Once you’re done with cardio, you can take a few minutes break and head on to weights or strength exercises. If you’re just starting, you can focus on resistance training, where you are using the weight of your body to create muscles. This can be push-ups, squats, hip thrusts, and so on.
It’s vital that the workout puts stress on your body and pushes you to your limit. So, if you’re working your arms, they should be burning up by the end of your routine.
If you want to do weights, it’s great to start with dumbbells and move up to more advanced exercises such as deadlifts when you feel comfortable. Always start on a low weight and work your way up – your body will adapt and grow quickly. Talk to a trainer about this and test yourself with smaller weights. You can move up from there, but muscle injuries are common when you first start out so make sure to take the proper precautions to avoid this.
Exercises for Both
It might seem like a pain doing separate routines for cardio and weights, so another option is to focus on machines and exercises that help you do both at the same time.
Some great examples of such exercises are sled runs, rowing, using dumbbells while doing cardio, and more.
There is no universal recipe to apply, but it’s essential that you find a way to include both cardio and weight exercises into your routine. This can be more difficult if you work out from home, so buying or hiring a treadmill or other cardio equipment should be a consideration. Test several combinations, work with different machines, and find a mix of exercises that work for you.
Plenty of serious health and wellness people tout breathing exercises, and if it’s something you’ve never personally explored it can feel somewhat silly. After all, breathing is the most natural thing we do, and it’s easy to presume you do a perfectly adequate job of taking in oxygen without having to do specific exercises. You might in fact ask yourself: can such exercises actually result in improved health and wellness?
The answer is a fairly definitive yes, with the following being some of the main potential benefits.
Lower Blood Pressure
Perhaps the clearest and most frequently mentioned benefit of breathing exercises is that your muscles relax. This sounds nice, but it actually has a more significant resulting benefit as well. As the muscles relax, blood vessels actually open up a little bit, and blood pressure can drop as a result. This is a healthy result in general, but also if you happen to be feeling tense or stressed at any given moment (which we’ll touch on more below).
Improved Mental Focus
We don’t often think of things in these terms, but put quite simply the brain needs a steady and adequate supply of oxygen to function as well as it ought to. Thus, when you try deep breathing exercises and take in more oxygen, you’re essentially fueling your brain to perform at an optimal level. That means improved focus in general, and in some cases a little bit more mental stamina or even boosted memory.
Subduing Negative Emotions
This is something we don’t hear as much about, but it surfaced recently in a piece about how competitive gamers can use breathing exercises to calm down. Breathing is referred to as one of the most powerful techniques for tackling frustration or anger, with the basic point being that deep breaths, increased oxygen flow, and a slower heart rate can actually chemically reduce stress. Thus, when you feel overwhelmed, frustrated, angry, or anything similar, you can turn to a breathing exercise for an immediate benefit via the calming of negative emotions.
This is almost a side benefit, but it’s still something a lot of people will enjoy knowing about. If you do deep breathing exercises properly you should be expanding and contracting your abdominal muscles from the inside, and this is actually a workout in and of itself. That’s not to say deep breathing is the key to six-pack abs, but over time it can strengthen your abs and your core even as it gives you the actual benefits of the breathing.
An article about deep breathing exercises aimed at smokers made the interesting move of calling breathing “the natural painkiller.” The explanation here is actually simple. Deep breathing releases endorphins throughout the body, and endorphins are basically designed to be the body’s natural response to pain. So if you’re having any general aches, pains, or soreness, deep breathing might actually help to ease them as you exercise.
Smoking has many dangers attached to it, including the habit heightening your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Tobacco smoke’s ingredients can also cause significant damage inside a person’s body.
Many of these issues can take some time to develop to the point where they become noticeable though — in fact, some problems may never be seen. What is noticeable though is that smoking can have huge effects on a person’s appearance, which will be evident to both the individual themselves and others around them.
Nicotinell, which has various products and advice available to help people to stop smoking, looks into the effects in more detail
Effects on a person’s eyes
Sometimes referred to as crow’s feet, wrinkles around the outside of your eyes will be noticeable to everyone at some point in their lives. However, they develop earlier and go deeper when you smoke due to the heat from lit cigarettes and also as a result of a smoker squinting in an attempt to keep smoke out of their eyes.
Bags under your eyes could also appear more frequently. In fact, a study by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine previously suggested that those who smoke cigarettes are four times more likely to report feeling unrested after a night’s sleep than non-smokers. The study, which involved the analysis of the sleep architecture of 40 smokers and a matched group of 40 nonsmokers who all undertook home polysomnography, also suggested that smokers spend less time in a deep sleep than non-smokers.
“It is possible that smoking has time-dependent effects across the sleep period,” points out Naresh M. Punjabi, MD, PhD, FCCP, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD and the study’s author. “Smokers commonly experience difficulty falling asleep due to the stimulating effects of nicotine. As night evolves, withdrawal from nicotine may further contribute to sleep disturbance.”
Effects on a person’s skin
One particularly important point that should be noted about smoking is that the habit will reduce the amount of oxygen and nutrients that can get to a person’s skin. The result of this is that skin will begin to age more quickly, and exhibit a dull and grey appearance. Premature aging of your skin by between 10 and 20 years will also occur from smoking.
Nicotine causes vasoconstriction too — a condition that narrows blood vessels and thus limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the tiny vessels located around a person’s face and other parts of their body. The problem of this condition will be seen if you suffer a wound, as vasoconstriction will take it longer to heal and result in scars appearing bigger and redder than those who aren’t affected by the condition.
On top of this, a lot of the 4,000 chemicals which make up tobacco smoke damage the body’s collagen and elastin. These are fibres required to give skin its strength and elasticity — lose them and sagging skin and deeper wrinkles will be the consequence, which will be seen especially around the inner arms, breasts and face.
Be aware of smoker’s pucker as well. This is an occurrence that comes about as smokers use certain muscles around their lips which cause dynamic wrinkles to appear. Combined with a loss of elasticity to the skin, the result will be deep lines around the lips.
Effects on a person’s hair
It might actually be best to refer to the last heading as ‘effects on a person’s lack of hair’. This is because hair grows from sac-like structures found underneath the scalp called follicles. However, these need oxygen, essential nutrients and vitamins/minerals in order to function correctly and trigger natural hair growth but, as previously discussed, smoking reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that get to your skin.
When follicles cannot function properly, the result is the normal hair growth and loss cycle becomes disrupted and hair will thin and eventually be lost.
In a study conducted by a researcher at Brigham University in the United States, it was reported that people who live an unhealthy lifestyle, including unhealthy diets, were 66% more likely to report productivity loss than those who lived by a healthy lifestyle. Exercise is also said to release endorphins which can have positive psychological effects, such as a ‘euphoric high’. But what is it that leads to a productivity boost? MaxiMuscle investigate:
Of course, the physical benefits of a healthy lifestyle are clear – and easy to highlight because you can see them! Following a clean eating diet and a strict workout regime will keep you in shape, and help your body work towards a healthy, toned and defined body.
Diet is important! When losing weight and toning up, many professionals tell you that the results you see come from 80% diet and 20% exercise. Count your calories, and stick to the main macronutrients of carbohydrates, protein and essential fats. Carbohydrates are our main source of energy, and without energy, our productivity is limited. Protein also provides the body with energy, but is also the building blocks of muscle, bone, skin and blood. Protein is what helps your muscles repair following a workout. Dietary fats are required to provide the body energy and support cell growth – it is important to eat the right fats – too much fatty foods will result in weight gain.
Exercising is different to dieting. The physical benefits of exercising are apparent during exercise and after. The more you exercise, the better your fitness levels become — meaning you can exercise for longer. Following exercise, you might begin to see the results of hitting your fitness goals with defined muscles, six packs and toned booties. However, exercising, whilst it can release endorphins, also burns calories and takes up a lot of energy so it is vital that you fuel for a workout so that your performance and productivity is not limited. Many gym goers have protein power or shakes before a workout for an added energy boost.
The majority of people who exercise and eat well only consider the physical benefits behind it – as discussed, the toned physique and controlled bodyweight, but there are many emotional benefits that come with a healthy lifestyle too. Many people have reported that exercise helps to reduce stress improve sleep, boost self-esteem and ward off depression and anxiety. This could be down to a release of endorphins during exercise. Endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain, whilst triggering a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine.
Endorphins can help bring about feelings of euphoria and general well-being. But how does this effect productivity? Your frame of mind significantly effects how productive you are. Researchers from the Penn State University found in their study that the more physically active people reported greater general feelings of excitement and enthusiasm, compared with the less physically active people. Further research by the Harvard Business Review revealed that feeling calm, happy and energised were the main three influential feelings that drove the greatest levels of performance – showing a clear link between frame of mind and productivity.
So, if exercise and a healthy eating promote a release of endorphins and provide your body with more energy, which is turn prompts a euphoric and positive feeling in the body, then surely the positive effects of a healthy lifestyle can be linked to productivity.
Did you wake up in the new year and think dammit, I have no friends except the ones who live inside my computer/phone/tablet/other screen-based thing so I should really stop being such a billy-no-mates-anti-social-hermit who spends the entire day checking how many likes I got on my latest selfie and get out of the house and talk to people in real life instead?
No? Okay, this post isn’t for you then and you are welcome to leave.
The rest of you though, here’s a new app you might be interested in. It’s called Pal and – guess what – it’s where you can find some new pals.
Pal asked me to review their app and, as I moved to Folkestone a few months ago and am a billy-no-mates-anti-social-hermit, I thought I’d give it a go and see if there was anyone to go cycling or walking with.
Creating a profile is simple enough – you register with your email address and give details such as your date of birth, location, occupation and interests. There are plenty of categories of interests to choose from and in each category are sub-categories. I picked the sport category and sub-categories of cycling, gym, mountain bike, running and walking (although I can’t think of anything worse than having a gym buddy. I don’t want to talk to anyone when I’m at the gym and I want to shoot people who talk in the gym unless they’re crying out for help because they’re trapped in the abs machine or something) but you can choose other categories such as food/shopping/music/cinema/travel, etc.
The app also asks you your gender but only gives the option of male and female which will undoubtedly annoy people who identify as neither, then the app will further annoy them by asking if they’re straight or gay.
Then you’re asked to write a bit about yourself and I put in I’m new to Folkestone and would like some cycling/walking buddies (I left out the billy-no-mates-anti-social-hermit bit).
The last bit to tell the app before you can start having a nose is to tell it what language you speak and who you’ll allow it to find you – women/men/couples/groups.
That’s your profile done, so then you press ‘Go’ and off you go and find some friends to hang out with.
You can search for any activity you fancy doing or leave it at the default of ‘all’ and just see who’s up to what. I left my search on ‘all’ but asked it to find me things within 10km of Folkestone. You can also tell it what time of day you want to do something, set a budget and a skill level of beginner, advanced or professional (professional drinking? I’m up for that!) and also narrow down the type of person with regard to gender/identity/age/location/common interests and languages.
I clicked ‘Go’ and looked to see who my new local friends were but there was no one. Ah, still poor old billy-no-mates-anti-social-hermit. Still, Folkestone is a small town and this is a new app so I cast my net wider and got the profile* of Mo, 36, in Canterbury who liked shopping and extreme sports.
As I’m not into extreme shopping, I changed my interests to cycling and got Gilbert in Sevenoaks but Sevenoaks is a bit far away so I changed the age range to 35-60, added walking and got Richard, 42, in Eastbourne whose profile said he wanted to hang out for coffee, hiking, watersports and watching live bands.
Hmm, so, although there were people in the same county as me, no one had planned any activities, which is what I was looking for. They must all be hiding in London, I reckoned, so I changed my location to London, changed the activities to ‘all’, specified an age range of 25-50 and Melvin, 36, popped up with a cinema trip planned for 12 January. He didn’t say what film he wanted to see though so, if you fancy going to the cinema on 12 January and need someone to go with, Melvin’s your man.
I played around with it a bit more but couldn’t find any more activities, not even in London. You can of course add your own activity to the app and hope people find you and come along.
Pal is in its infancy but when more people join the app and start using it to its full potential, I can see it will be a great way to make new local friends with similar interests or find people to hang out with if you’re away from home for a few days and at a loose end.
Everyone knows how good exercise is for you – whether it’s for energy, weight loss/control, mental health or just a general feeling of well-being spiritually and emotionally, but did you know exercise is good for your eye health too? No, me neither (especially as I only started wearing glasses after starting running but that’s probably just an age thing and not an exercise thing) but Vision Direct do and they told me:
your eyes receive the same benefit as the rest of your body when you exercise;
there are connections between those who regularly exercise and a reduced chance of developing cataracts, wet aged-related macular degeneration and glaucoma;
eye disease is linked to health problems such as high cholesterol levels, diabetes and high blood pressure. Exercise limits these problems from happening;
moderate physical exercise such as going for a walk three times a week has been known to lower your intraocular pressure (IOP) and improve blood flow to the retina and optic nerve;
those who exercise regularly are 70% less likely to develop wet age-related macular degeneration compared to those who lead sedentary lifestyles;
you don’t have to run a marathon to see the benefits. You can do low-impact exercise such as cycling, walking or climbing the stairs to improve your eye health.
Don’t rely on exercise to keep your eyes in good health though – remember to keep up to date with your eye tests with your optician as they’re not just there to check your vision and to see if you need new/any glasses: while they’re peering into your eyes and making you jump with that blowing-out-a-puff-of-air machine, they can see if there’s anything worth checking out further with your doctor. I know this from experience as, a few years ago, after I’d had my two-yearly eye test, my optician wouldn’t let me have my prescription until I’d had a blood test at my doctor’s. The optician gave me a letter which I duly trotted down with to my doctor and had my first ever blood test (I wasn’t scared at all. Okay, I was totally scared and I didn’t even get a lolly for being brave, bah). Everything thankfully was fine but the moral of this story is that to keep your eyes in good health, exercise regularly and keep your eye tests up to date.
To keep your health even more in tip-top condition, if you do wear glasses, it’s probably a good idea to wear them (or contact lenses) when you’re out running, cycling or walking so you can see cars coming when you cross the road and make the likelihood of getting run over much smaller.
Even if you’re running every day, some gear rotation is a good idea. You’ll likely use different kinds of gear depending on the time of year, and may also simply fancy a change now and then. Putting gear you’re not using into storage helps preserve it for future use, and gives you the option to ring the changes without keeping unused items in closets.
Have a Clear Out
If you haven’t worn an item of running gear for a year, chances are you don’t need it. There’s no point storing things you know you won’t wear again, so be a bit ruthless.
Inspect kit for damage or wear, and resist the temptation to hold on to things that are past their best. You won’t feel comfortable in them anyway, and if you’re conscious of your clothing or you’re worried something might fall apart mid-run, you can’t focus on what you’re doing.
Having narrowed your gear down to the items you know you want, the next step is preparing gear for storage. Give everything a thorough clean.
Paying attention to washing labels and instructions, run everything through the washing machine and make sure it’s completely dry before storing. Damp clothes in boxes will slowly ruin. Avoid ironing anything. Not much running gear needs ironing, but if you wear cotton items you’d normally iron, save that chore for when you retrieve items from storage. Ironing can actually weaken fibres and may make clothes tear along the creases over the long term.
Cleaning running shoes – clean off mud and debris as any left on can weaken fabric fibres. It may be tempting to throw them in the washing machine but don’t as the detergent and heat can cause damage. If they’re really filthy, scrubbing with a small brush (try a toothbrush) and warm water should lift the worst of the dirt. Let them dry at room temperature. Stuffing with newspaper can help wick away excess moisture.
Waterproof jackets – you don’t want to over wash them as this can affect how waterproof the fabric stays, but they need some gentle cleaning. Do up the zips and close any flaps before washing. Choose a detergent formulated for waterproof fabrics and wash on a gentle, warm wash. Always check the label before tumble drying, but it will probably be okay. The heat from tumbling reactivates many water repellent materials.
Don’t forget water bladders – without thorough cleaning, bacteria can quickly build up inside water containers. A couple of tablespoons of baking powder in warm water works well. Give it a good shake and let it sit for around half an hour, then rinse thoroughly. Let it dry out completely before storing. A sneaky alternative is to store it in the freezer, if you have room. No bacteria will grow inside a frozen container.
Choosing Containers and Correct Packing
Plastic storage tubs are brilliant. You can see what’s inside, they stack securely and are light and sturdy. They offer excellent protection, but for extra security you could add layers of acid-free tissue paper between items.
When space is tight, rolled clothes take up less space than folded ones. No matter how tight your space is, avoid over packing boxes, and place heavier items at the bottom. Use separate shoe boxes for trainers and running shoes.
Locations for Storage
If you’re storing running gear at home, make sure your space is clean and damp free. Pests and moisture are the enemies of anything put into storage.
When space for storage is tight, self storage is a viable option. There are smaller lockers as well as entire rooms, so you can tailor your space exactly to your needs. Plus, short contracts mean you’re not tied in for longer than you want.
Good quality running gear isn’t cheap. Look after it, have a variety of items to give some a rest now and then, and your kit will give many running miles of good service.