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Secrets to becoming a better runner

better runner

 

As many of you will know I am training to run the London Marathon next month in aid of backcare.org. I won’t lie, it has been hard to keep motivated and train, especially during the long winter months, so I thought I would share some of the techniques that have helped me stay motivated to KEEP RUNNING and some of the stretches that have helped me become a better runner.

1) I joined a ladies running group in my village and you get a message every day of who is running so keeping company and chatting while you run keeps me going.

2) Getting my husband and family involved to run with me. My husband’s great at getting up at 6am to run – I would not do it on my own.

3) I have to run in the morning when I’m in the right clothes and before my body knows what I’m doing!

4) I set up a Training plan on my I-phone using apps Strava and My Asics and get reminders of how far I have to run.

5) Organising fundraising events. Everyone helping and supporting me is so motivating as I can’t let you all down.

6) I also have a Personal trainer once a week to push me and check my alignment, stretch me, check that I’m doing it right as sometimes yourself you can’t tell and show me exercises I might not know. I believe it is good to go to someone else and be the participant not just the teacher.

Here are my secrets to becoming a better runner

I know you all ask me in class – “how is your running going”? Well I won’t say it’s easy to stay motivated but it helped this week having the lighter mornings as it is very hard to get/stay motivated early in the morning and when its raining, (and as I’m writing this its hailing – I’m not going out in that!!!) Once I’m up in my running clothes I want to get going first thing, once kids dropped to school, and tick my run off on my weekly schedule! What has really surprised me with all the online research and Womens Running articles I’ve read is that I’ve realised I should stick to 3/4 runs a week and do MORE strength work. Yes I do regular Pilates but for me to stop my lower back seizing up I have to stretch, stretch, stretch and have to strengthen my gluts too. So with all this I have a few tips to become a better, stronger, faster runner……..

Sam Greenwood physical literacy expert says“There is too much emphasis on actual running, when in reality runners should be focusing on improving core skills such as strength, posture, stability and mobility.”

Types of exercise to incorporate

1. Plyometric Exercises

If you really want to boost your running implement plyometric exercises two or three times a week into your training.‘Plyometric’ is commonly used to describe any explosive, jumping exercise and this is a popular addition to circuit training and is used in many sports. The most important functions of muscles and tendons during running is to store energy. Like a spring, your body can store some energy from impact and then unload that energy to propel your body forward. A large portion of your energy actually comes from the energy stored in your legs from the impact you made with the ground. So Plyometric training activates different muscle recruitment patterns than distance running does, it teaches your body to react to fast-twitch fibres. Maximising muscle recruitment allows you to exert more force into your legs and propel yourself faster.

A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning that tested the effect of plyometric exercises and running, further confirms that runners will benefit from adding in plyometric exercises. The study established a baseline by asking all participants to complete a timed 5km run, then split them into two groups. One group’s training consisted of running around two or three times a week, whereas the second group ran less but also completed bodyweight plyometric exercises. After eight weeks, both groups had significantly improved their 5km times, but the plyometric group ran 25% less than the other and still achieved the same results.

Example Exercises are – Switch Lunges, Leg bounds and Box Jumps.

2. Improve your posture

Your posture is the foundation of your movements, it affects how you stand, walk and run. Poor posture will shift your centre of mass back, accentuates over striding and impairs your ability to control the muscles in the spine and the lower legs. This lack of control can inhibit you from correctly storing and releasing the elastic energy for optimum running performance. As gravity pushes down on our bodies, our muscles make thousands of tiny contractions to keep us in a natural position, which means that you are actively maintaining your joints in the middle of their range of motion whilst standing, sitting and moving.

Pilates can help you work in a neutral spine and stretches are important such as – Kneeling hip flexor stretch, Balanced Donkey Kicks.

Posture strengthening moves have to include the posterior muscles including lower back, the glutes, the hamstrings, and the calf muscles, try deadlifts, squats, lunges.

3. Improve your balance

Balance and stability is key to performance to maintain efficiency in each stride to helping to avoid injuries.

“The ankle is very common to injure while running, due to the nature of undulating surfaces and the up and down of pavement, good balance will help your ankle respond to the change in level of the surface you run on.” states Matthew Crehan, Author of The Art of Running and Sport and Exercise Science graduate from University of Leeds.

Exercise – Stand on one leg with your eyes closed for 30 seconds before repeating on the other. Stand on the edge of a stair and raise up to toes and down both feet then try one at a time. Also the reformer works the ankles and can help get the legs, knees and ankles in good alignment.

4. Develop your core

There is a direct correlation between a strong core, strength and flexibility and a powerful run.

A strong core is vital for good running form; the core muscles work together to stabilise the whole body, allowing the arms and legs to work hard, propelling you along at a pace. If the core is weak, runners will tire more easily and tend to slump, particularly on long runs. This contracts the lungs, limiting the amount of oxygen reaching the lungs which reduces blood flow to the working muscles. Furthermore, a weak core can mean that movement from the arms or legs can throw the rest of the body around; making the energy spend totally inefficient and increasing the risk of injury.”

5. Stretch to Prevent injuries

After every single workout, whether it’s a run, walk or a strength session, you must stretch! This is one of the most crucial parts of running training that is so often overlooked. Having tight muscles will not only affect your performance but increase your chances of injury. So take the time to stretch these properly to look after them. This helps prevent injuries and can improve strength, power and speed. Being aware of your body and staying pain free enables you to train more frequently and increase the intensity of your workouts. I use the foam roller to stretch and relax the muscles after each workout. (I still have 2 available. )

See my best stretches after running from last week

USING FOAM ROLLERS– these are great for going greater range of motion at a joint, speed recovery, myiofascia release but we have been discussing in class not stretching the IT Band (Iliotibial band) on the side of the leg as this can injury you as it is a tendon not a muscle, the answer is to get the glut med to fire up properly and it would not be so tight.

Need to improve your core strength come for a postural and functional movement assessment, for us to be able to give you a personalised training program. Contact hannah@farnhampilates.com

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September the new, new year

Farnham Pilates

September, as we know is the start of a new school year for most but it increasingly feels like a fresh start in all walks of life. There have been a number of events that Farnham Pilates have taken part in this month that all give a sense of restarting or taking stock of where our lives are at and where we want them to go.

At the beginning of the month we celebrated National Fitness Day. We teamed up with Bfit Belinda Andrews for a bootcamp and also organised a walk round my favourite thinking spot, Frensham Ponds. It was great to see many local women, some friends, some clients and some business associates just taking time out to do something healthy, chat and enjoy the fresh air. I was interviewed by Eagle Radio about this event and how we can incorporate fitness in our lives more.

The major event for me this month was speaking at the WIFE conference in Guildford last Saturday. It was a big deal for me to speak at such a big event of about 80 attendees, the last time I have done anything like this was at university when I froze. I chose the topic of metime/youtime, as I’m passionate about how understanding yourself and your needs have to come first to fully be able to help and support others, especially loved ones, who rely on you to be strong. I showed how using mindfulness can help give yourself space and a break. I also strongly believe that we have choices in life how we think, behave and act so we must be kind, forgive and support ourselves, and each contact with everyone around us is the legacy we leave not possessions. It is also vitally important for women, businesses and self employed to be able to stay focussed and positive to be successful. In researching for this talk I have connected with many other fabulous women to find out what they do for Youtime and they produced a series of video selfies to share what they do. Do take a look below for some inspiring ideas to help keep you on track. Also you are able to join the Free 10 day reset “me-time”daily email?

The WIFE conference was a big challenge for me but one that I am so glad I took, I was so nervous but talking about a subject I am passionate about made me want to do it again! I’ve had some amazing feedback from my talk and it makes me so happy that it may inspire some women to take more care of themselves so they can achieve more out of life.

Farnham Pilates

It was great to also listen to other amazing speakers like Anna Kennedy OBE (from The Peoples Strictly) how she set up an autistic school for her boys and it now is the largest school in UK. Clare Newsman a child physchologist talked about how to get the best out of our children by not praising. There were other diverse topics but networking with these amazing women who had done something or changed an act of parliament made me feel inspired. The one thing I took away from the conference was to keep going helping clients and striving for the best I can.

It seemed fitting that my talk was timed at the start on National Work Life week which runs all this week. What great timing for us all to take stock, as routines get back to normal and we enter the last quarter of the year. What have we achieved? What aspects of our life need rebalancing? How can we achieve this? It sometimes feels that to make any change we need to make a huge effort, but we can make really small changes that can start us on the road to a big change in attitude. Our Just Breathe email course that was launched this month helps by giving just one exercise a day to help us refocus and make more time for ourselves.

Farnham Pilates

So now as September reaches its end I am looking forward to celebrating another huge milestone. Farnham Pilates celebrates its’ 10th Birthday! We are delighted to have been delivering quality Pilates sessions for the last decade and we are also looking forward to continuing this in our new garden studio which has its’ grand opening this Friday, 25th September 10.30 – 1pm. We will be offering demonstrations of our new reformer equipment and we are also pleased to be teaming up again with some other local businesses – Aase Waterman who is offering massage, Georgina Watts who is offering Reiki sessions and Merel Keuning who is offering reflexology. The morning is in aid of MacMillan coffee so do join us to celebrate this huge milestone for Farnham Pilates.

I hope September has been a good month for you and that you are also able to refocus and see the road you want to take in this next chapter of our lives. Let me know if you need any support from any extra classes or our wellbeing workshops that will be run in November.

Is your life balance not weighing up? Life balance for busy women

#Life balance by Hannah Epps
Life balance for busy women
Why do we need to worry about doing something for ourselves or something for us? Because as busy mums, sometimes we are so busy doing things for others, caring and organising and just being so busy we don’t get time to clean our teeth or do exercise or cook a healthy meal, do our hair or finish dressing! But it is essential to have time to ourselves or do something for your mental and physical wellbeing, so even unwinding and relaxing can reduce blood pressure and help you slow down otherwise we will make ourselves ill. Also, we might be out having fun or being with the family but forget to enjoy it. Or be so stressed, that drink with a friend becomes a drunken night, as it’s the only way to switch off our busy brains. Life is about moderation but if you are there for others ALL the time it can mean your needs are not being met.  It is not selfish to need more time for yourself, it is a way to improve yourself.

 

Calming down or being aware of the moment (called mindfulness) helps you reset your brain to get rid of anxious thoughts. So even having a moment to think or visualise your “happy”, favourite place in your mind, can help you calm your breathing so you don’t lose your temper, shout or answer snappily to your husband or child.For you to be happy, relaxed and capable of living a busy life without becoming ill you need to lower your cortisol that raises stress levels. Mums feel so guilty about taking time off due to money issues, or ethics from our parents that lead us to have a strong work ethic. Also as mums we know if we just get these things done then we can sit down and relax or finish other projects.
Life balance for busy women
How do you know if you are stressed ? Do you have any of these symptoms?
– Easily distracted
– Forgetting keys
– Late to appointments
– On edge or short with people
– Feeling overwhelmed, trouble breathing or hyperventilating
– Trouble with sleeping
– Worried
– Over sensitive to what people say, over analysing
– Gaining weight or over drinking
– Struggle with relaxing or switching off
– Loss of focus, trouble with concentrating and even trouble with making decision because mind too busy!

 

All these are signs that you need to STOP... Yes friend you need to take some time for yourself. Life isn’t a race, slow down and enjoy it. Simple indulges like a movie, spa day or long walk can be amazing for your wellbeing. At Farnham Pilates we work out hard in class then spend time stretching and enjoying the silence and relaxing. The key is to find something you enjoy doing so much and that you feel real benefits from, that you have to make time for it. We would love to help you find that balance at Farnham Pilates.  If any of the above resonates with you then you will be interested to know that we are running a 10 day body reset course.  This course is delivered by email every day will help you listen to your body and teach you ways to fit time into your busy life for you so that you are a stronger and healthier person.  To sign up click here.

When I realised I needed more #metime

I need more me time

When I realised I needed more #metime – by Hannah Epps

We are all so busy in our lives that we can be too busy to see the damage this is doing. Last week I mentioned to friends that I needed more me time as I was feeling overwhelmed with work, teaching and all the kids activities I had to plan for. People offered to help and it’s just giving me a little for time to step back and prioritise. I was at the stage where I was tearful and needed to take a walk and sit and work in my favourite place, Frensham Ponds! Sometimes asking for help is the hardest thing, but it is something we all need to do from time to time.

I asked friends, work colleagues and other fitness friends what do you do for me time? From responses it’s so interesting that many feel too guilty to take time off or don’t know how to do it with young kids at home. Even reading a book for 10 mins at nap time can help your brain re- set. As you may know as a busy mum of 2 and my husband building a studio I’m always late and I’m really working on that. My mum always used to do “one more thing before we got out of the house” – I promise I’m working on it.

I have felt guilty about not being in a “proper” job and I also feel guilty when people think I just “teach pilates”. However, running your own business for 10 years, doing your own admin, bookings and social media, your time is so limited that I often feel guilty about not spending enough time with the family. Out of this own guilt I do so many play dates, parties, dinner parties, kids sleepovers, fundraising, charity dos (The Strictly Experience I did for Phyllis Tuckwell raised £26,000) taking hours making and cooking dinner and cleaning for all the family and fitting in dog walks, I have realised I’m not doing as much exercise as I used to.

I need more me time

Challenge yourself to have an hour unplugged today!

I’m not getting enough ying and yang in my life.  I need more balance and when I got a bad back 3 months ago it forced me to stop and reassess what I needed to get that balance. I had to work out what the best thing was for me to do. Yoga was hard so I went back to basic Pilates. I missed running but did fast walks and just sat to think and breathe, spent time with the family with no iPhone! This helped me come home refreshed ready to face questions, busy house work, family arguments.

It got me thinking that I was probably not alone with not having enough time to myself. I was so worried about people not having time to breathe that I did research with friends, fitness colleagues, business owners and got great feedback about what busy working mums do –
Long walks (with or without the dog), yoga, pilates, meditation, or just mindfulness, 8 mile hikes, gratitude diaries, beauty/spa treatments, cycling, open water swimming, just having a shower or time in the garden– the results were quite different but all great personal activities that make a difference. You can see some of their lovely videos on what they do for me time here.

With my new studio nearly finished it has been a great space to “just breathe” and if stressed I have a “special happy place” I visualise to lower my heart rate – especially over the summer when the kids are rowing.

Write yourself your Perfect me time list- so you can plan 2-4 things weekly. Create your own space strategies – screen time off, write a gratitude diary and be aware of being happy and enjoying he moment rather than thinking and worrying #justbreathe! Try this, it will change your mood and if stressed, take a deep breathe and #justsmile.  And just stop and unplug everything for time in quiet silence! It’s essential to us to contemplate and assess!

This will enable you to be a stronger or better mum, wife, daughter.

I’m off on holiday next week for time with the family and hoping to totally unplug and recharge myself.  This video has really inspired me to do this. All work and no play certainly makes us dull in many ways.

 

Will you arrange Me time ? Look out for our next blog to see the dangers and symptoms of not taking time for ourselves or sign up for our FREE 10 day Body reset email course and get on track for a stronger, healthier and more fulfilled you!

Take a moment out and just breathe

Life balance for mums

When I’m not so busy, then I’ll take some time out to …”

We’ve all been there. So busy with the daily bustle of our busy lives that we don’t have time to even take a minute to breathe.

Kids. Family. Work. Home. Schedules. Pets. Health. STUFF.

We promise ourselves that once everything is done we’ll treat ourselves, or give our lifestyles an overhaul.

But time gets squeezed or something unexpected and urgent crops up that only we can deal with.  Or you are so busy that when you sit to relax or watch TV or check Facebook, you are too tired to move and time is wasted and suddenly our time is squeezed even more.

Or perhaps it’s a little deeper than scheduling. Maybe we already recognise that we prioritise the stuff because we don’t really believe that we’re worth the time out and attention. We love our kids, our families, our lifestyles so we have to make compromises or sacrifices. It’s a small price to pay. Isn’t it?

Well newsflash lady! It will never all be done! You will never not be busy! There will always be unexpected visitors, meetings or family management crises (AKA children,work or husbands).

And … (now we get to the really deep stuff) the world and its time are never going to slow down to accommodate your busyness. Oh how we wish that sometimes it would. Kids will grow and need you less. You will age (nooooo….) and oh how you will long for your health and your sanity.

Meditation does not mean a daily visit to bluebell meadows with chanting. Mindfulness does not mean giving up life’s pleasures to worship Buddha in thongs. And gratefulness isn’t something you only do at harvest festival or thanksgiving.

We get reminders in life. Funerals. Accidents. Health scares. Global tragedies. They remind us of our need to slow down and give thanks for our blessings.

Mindfulness is important as its awareness of what you are doing while you are doing it, enjoy the moment and don’t let thoughts and emotions hijack you – focus on one moment release the worries, concerns and regrets. As mothers we have so much guilt. Release thoughts – no guilt no judgement.

Is there a way we can fit the time in to do this ? Get that 5 minute break from life and business?

I believe we can but not always through the obvious ‘scheduling’ of time out. It’s in the small, everyday ways, just as you would do your everyday tasks. I need some time on my own and then I’m a better mum, wife and daughter!

Mindfulness is stopping to appreciate baby giggles or a hug from your child. Kissing your husband in front of the kids. Appreciating the seasons by jumping in puddles, building snowmen or picking strawberries. Making a (sugar free) cake to give to a friend. Sharing a cup of tea. Arriving five minutes before school pickup time and just breathing. Walking the dog in all weathers. Finding a class which suits you and agreeing with your family that at this time, every week, you will be OUT and remember it’s your time.

In my classes we don’t meditate but but we take time to listen to our bodies. Relaxation and mindfulness is part of the experience. Being kind to our bodies and self awareness or releasing pain, aches empowering you to make any changes – live your life with more balance without excuses or schedules. Being present and grateful for movement.

Please don’t wait until you aren’t busy. You are busy because you love life. Take a step back and you will appreciate your blessings so much more without any perceptible change to your busy schedule.

Because after all, do something just for you, you are absolutely worth it.

 #timeout #take5mins #pilateslifebalance #pilatesbalancebreathe #metime #withfarnhampilates

Get Involved

If you would like to get more involved with our #metime project at Farnham Pilates then you can tell us more about how you achieve some me time.  Just upload a short video to youtube telling us what you do for metime and we will share it on our playlist and social media.  You can see some already here – YouTube Playlist

Schools Out! Keep exercising while the kids are on holiday

Exercise with kids in the summer holidays
Schools Out for Summer! Whilst that may mean lots of fun with your kids it can also mean that your normal workout routine can take a hammering.  So can you keep up your exercise regime over the summer? Here are my thoughts in a short video on the importance of making some time for yourself, followed by some great tips to help you keep exercising over the holidays.

Short workouts first thing can be great to keep exercising, but always –
Stay cool
Stay moving
Stay motivated
Stay healthy
Do 10 mins every morning
Swim, run, cycle, enjoy the sun for 10 mins get vit d.

 

Here at Farnham Pilates we also have a 15 min exercise video that you can download and do anywhere which can also help give you a focus to the exercise time you have.

 

Keep Calm and Carry on Exercising!
It’s important to stay calm with the kids and regular exercise for you can help with this. Physical activity influences changes in the brain otherwise activated by anti depressants and sport enhances the brains ability to absorb serotonin, which helps keeps moods balanced!

 

Stay motivated
Exercising as a group can be a real motivating factor to keep going. Run as a group, check local running groups or get other mums to meet you when partner home or cycle – wear a technical top to keep sweat away from skin to stop you feeling clammy. Or agree to do a class with a bunch of other mums and stick to it.

 

Get up early before the kids and do – Try this 4 min workout which you could do with your kids and encourage them to be fit and healthy too!
2 mins jog on spot then burpee
2 mins Squat then jump lift left leg then squat and change legs
2 Jumps
2 Air squats
Rocket jump bend knees
Butterfly sit up knees out – use core
Lunge
Crunch side reach for obliques
This will use oxygen so after the 8 mins the body carry on blitzing fat long after the session

 

We also asked Joanne McGowan of Act One Adventures for her top tips to involve kids in exercise and here is what she said.

 

“Try setting up a mini olympics at home, in the garden or park.  You don’t need fancy equipment – Pool noodles make great javelins, tins of beans for weight lifting, running races etc.  If you’re feeling really silly have a closing or opening ceremony too.
We also embrace technology that our son loves and have regular Just Dance evenings on the X Box.  It is a great giggle, good exercise and great family time too.”

 

To get the most out of your workouts in the summer…
Drink drink drink (water) –  it’s easy to be dehydrated do keep topping up.  I know in the summer it’s easy to start early with a glass of Rose but commit to 2-3 nights off a week and on those nights eat or choose healthily  – salads/ all veg meals, no bread.
Post workout Epsom salt baths cleanse your muscles of toxins restore mineral levels and encourage relaxation – soak away aches and pains
Diet – Keep blood sugar levels balanced take magnesium add more spinach, avocados, nuts seeds and dark chocolate. If you are going to drink a good detoxifier is hot water and lemon in morning and parsley tea- helps flush out toxins.

 

So with a bit of planning and a fun outlook you can keep up your exercise over the summer and have fun with the family too.