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Olympian Jo Pavey Recommends Five Amazing Coastal Runs In Devon

 

Coach Staff

Friday, September 13, 2019 - 17:03

Photograph: James Carnegie

When we took a trip down to Devon to run with former European 10,000m champion Jo Pavey, she took us through a track session but also for a run along the clifftops near her home. It was frankly stunning, so we jumped at the chance to share Pavey’s favourite coastal runs.

If you’re heading to that part of the country for any reason, pack a pair of trail running shoes and give one (or all) of these routes a try. You won’t regret it, and who knows? You may end up bumping into Pavey. If you do, make sure to say hello – she’s as down-to-earth and friendly as elite athletes come.

Jo Pavey’s Five Favourite Coastal Runs In Devon

Near my home in east Devon is a large Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which is crisscrossed by tracks. I’m also just a few miles inland from the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and the beautiful South West Coast Path (SWCP), a 630-mile-long path that stretches from Minehead in Somerset right the way around the south west peninsula to Poole Harbour in Dorset, with some fabulous sections for running. As a teenager I used to love running back and forth along sandy beaches, and I think this helped to start a lifelong love of coastal running. I’ve run hundreds of miles along the path over the past 30 or so years.

Here are five stand-out routes I have run in Devon, although it was very hard to keep the list so short – there are so many other nice sections. During these runs you’ll get to enjoy wonderful views of dramatic cliffs, pebble or sandy beaches and tumbling surf, while inland there’s rolling Devonshire farmland, woodland, and areas of upland heathland and moorland. Hillsides are dotted with farmsteads and nestled in the valleys are pretty little hamlets and villages.

The coast path has some rocky and very uneven sections, so you will need some decent trail running shoes with plenty of grip. But you’ll also be running along some level firm trails and even some short sections of country lanes, and because of this I prefer a more flexible trail running shoe – the Saucony Peregrine ISO is my go-to. I hate stiff, rigid shoes and the Peregrine is one of the few shoes that feels at home on both the uneven rocky trails and paved paths.

Don’t be disappointed if the weather isn’t all blue skies. Although I love sunny days some of these coastal routes are amazing in the midst of winter with raging surf and bracing winds. It feels like the landscape really comes to life in poor weather. The sounds of the crashing surf and strong winds make you feel exposed to the full force of the elements and it’s invigorating.

You need to plan ahead carefully if you want to avoid out and back running – check bus times or arrange a drop-off and pick-up. A nice pub with an open fire is always a bonus! Make sure you take a camera and stop from time to time to enjoy the beautiful views. Remember, running isn’t just about trying to run fast!

Sidmouth To Beer (9 Miles/14.5km)

Photograph: James Carnegie

This is my local stretch of coastline and is one of the most spectacular areas of the Jurassic Coast. It’s also one of the more severe sections because the climbs are tough but the views are well worth the effort! You’ll need a good head for heights – the cliffs tower hundreds of feet above the pebble beaches below. My husband, Gav, and some of his friends run to Beer every year on their Run To Beer For Beer. It’s not an organised event, it’s just something he and his friends in our village do for a bit of fun.

You have the option to start your run on the esplanade in Sidmouth, which has a wonderful mix of Georgian and Regency buildings, and from there you have to run straight up the very steep Salcombe Hill to join the coast path. This is a lung-buster of a climb to tackle at the start of a run and so I normally drive and park opposite the Norman Lockyer Observatory. From here you head east along the coast path towards Beer.

There are options to follow inland paths and you can avoid some of the more extreme climbs but this takes away some of the fun! There is a bus that you can take back to Sidmouth, or alternatively you could take an inland route on your return. There are a network of inland paths and country lanes to choose from but without local knowledge, or a decent map or navigation app, you can quickly lose your way.

Hope Cove To Salcombe South Sands Beach (7 Miles/11km)

With its high cliffs towering above remote coves and some spectacular headlands, this is one of my favourite sections of coast path. Rugged rocky outcrops, bracken and heather give this area a wild feel, similar to the moors, especially when windswept in winter. The estuary at Salcombe is beautiful and if you fancy cooling off it has some sandy beaches – in fact there are places for a dip in the small coves if you need a rest during this run. Hope Cove gets pretty busy in the summer, but I’ve only run this in midwinter when it’s much easier to park and you have much of the path to yourself.

The start point is near the lifeboat station in Inner Hope, where you’ll see some steps that lead you up a steep climb to Bolt Tail. Follow the path and you’ll cross Bolberry Down and then on to Soar Mill Cove. This little beach is a great spot for a quick dip in the sea. From the beach, cross the small bridge and follow the signs for Bolt Head or Salcombe – along the way you might see a wild pony or two! Beyond Bolt Head you’ll eventually hit the road leading down to South Sands Beach. It’s an extra mile to Salcombe town centre.

Croyde To Woolacombe (5 Miles/8km)

We often visit north Devon as a family for beach trips or short camping breaks, and I’ll often make a beeline for the Baggy Point footpath. This area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its geological significance. You can run this as a circular loop and I add in the beach from Putsborough to Woolacombe, although you will have to time your run with an ebb or low tide to do this.

If you’re staying in Croyde you can start there, or park in the National Trust car park at the start of the path. Not far beyond the houses near the car park, you’ll come across some huge whale bones beside the path! The path starts out very moderately, but as you climb and head towards the spectacular Baggy Point it gets very narrow and steep, so be extra careful because it’s a long way down to the base of the cliffs! Out to sea, if it’s a clear day, you’ll see Lundy Island and the Welsh coastline. If you get very lucky, you might spot a grey seal below the cliffs .

During the run you’ll have the option to head down to the beach and run along it from Putsborough, or take the SWCP path through the dunes behind the beach. Another option is Marina Drive above the dunes which is a scenic place to park stretching along the hillside. If the tide is out I always take to the beach here! I normally run right at the water’s edge where the sand is firmer. A good plan is to run a loop using two of the above combinations.

Lynton To Combe Martin (14 Miles/22.5km)

Not only does Devon have two coastlines, but it also has two upland moorland national parks, Dartmoor and Exmoor. Most of Exmoor lies in Somerset but the western side including a coastal strip is in Devon. The coast path from Lynton takes you through a spectacular mix of moorland and coastal scenery, and you’ll probably see Exmoor ponies along the way. I’ve included this run because I think the views over the Valley of the Rocks and Heddon’s Mouth are amazing.

It’s best to run this section of path then get a bus or lift back to your start point. Great Hangman, where Exmoor meets the sea, has far-reaching views over the Bristol Channel and is the highest sea cliff in England with a cliff face of 800ft [244m] and the actual summit is just over 1,000ft [305m] above the surf. Overall you will climb around 3,000ft [915m] during this run and it has some pretty steep climbs. Take care because there is a short section of road after Castle Rock, in the Valley of the Rocks, which can be a bit busy in the summer months.

Salcombe To Torcross (9 Miles/14.5km)

I’ve come back to Salcombe for this final run. For a long run you could combine this with the Hope Cove route, although the start point lies on the opposite side of the Salcombe estuary. I’ve included this section for those who really enjoy exposed clifftop running. Starting at the Salcombe estuary, you head east towards Torcross. The start point and the lighthouse are a highlight for me on this next section, which has dramatic views. Far below you’ll see lots of sandy coves. As with all the routes, there are lots of great country pubs in the area for post-run refuelling.

Saucony UK ambassador Jo Pavey wears the Peregrine ISO for all her off-road running.

Buy the Peregrine ISO from Saucony | £110

Exercises To Relieve Back Pain That Are Safe, Simple And Office-Appropriate

 

Jonathan Shannon

Friday, September 13, 2019 - 16:12

The human body is really good at moving, but it goes to pot when you ask it to stay still for most of the day. Not great news for those of us with sedentary office-based jobs, and it’s one of the main reasons backaches are as common as colds.

If you’re struggling with back pain, the Kaia app might be able to help. It offers convenient, supplementary treatment for people who have seen a GP about their back problems and been diagnosed with non-specific back pain. The app takes three types of treatment you might receive at a medical centre – physical therapeutic exercises, pain education concentrating on back pain, and coping strategies like mindfulness techniques and progressive muscle relaxation – and puts them on your smartphone.

To give you a taste of what’s on offer, the team at Kaia pulled together these ten exercises, focusing on movements you can do sitting or standing to make them more office appropriate. “There’s more movement in the exercises in the app,” says Kaia training specialist Lukas Offinger. “Seated movements are mostly there for patients with acute pain. You can expect many more movements in the standing, all fours, on your knees, or on your back and prone positions.

“These ten exercises are all pretty easy to do, although you should take care to perform them slowly and under control. Don’t rush through because they are easy, but really pay attention to the video and try to copy them as well as possible.”

Take some time to learn and master the routine, then make it a regular part of your working day. It only takes a little over five minutes and, as Offinger explains, “your whole body gets a brief relief from what you’re doing all the time – sitting.”

1 Raise elbows

Reps 20

Sit in a chair and hug yourself, putting your right hand on your left shoulder and vice versa. Your elbows should be stacked in front of your chest. Raise your elbows as far as is comfortable, then lower them again. “Never go through the pain or force it,” says Offinger. “None of these are performance exercises – they are supposed to make you feel better.”

2 Leg move

Time 20sec each leg

Sit in a chair and bend forwards, placing both hands on one leg just below your knee. Slide your hands down slowly towards your ankle and back up again. Continue until the time is up, then switch legs.

3 Hands up

Time 30sec

Sit in a chair and put your hands on the top of your head with your elbows out to either side. Gently bend your upper body to one side, then the other, continuing until the time is up. Your buttocks should stay on the chair throughout.

4 Leg to body

Time 20sec hold each leg

Sit in a chair, lift one leg and hug it towards your chest. Hold until the time is up, then switch legs. “A lot of people with back pain feel better when they do this lying on their back,” says Offinger. Try that if you work from home or you’re the big kahuna in the office.

5 Raise hips

Time 20sec

Ignore the name: in fact you sit in a chair and move your hips forwards and backwards, which to an observer will look like you’re raising your body. “It’s the Michael Jackson move,” says Offinger. “Move your hips forwards and backwards like a dancer – it’s a really slight movement.”

6 Elbow twist

Time 20sec

Sit in a chair and hug yourself, putting your right hand on your left shoulder and vice versa. Your elbows should be stacked in front of your chest. Twist your body to rotate your elbows to one side and then the other slowly. “It’s not dangerous, but most people with low back pain will feel this quickly,” says Offinger. “Remember to never move through the pain.”

7 Move hips

Time 20sec

Sit in a chair and rock your hips from one side to the other. The opposite buttock to the side you’re leaning towards should leave the seat.

8 Rotate arms

Time 20sec

Stand with your upper arms pinned to your sides, elbows bent at 90°, lower arms in front of you parallel to the floor and hands facing up. Keeping your upper arms tight to your body, rotate your lower arms so they’re out to the sides. Hold that position until the time is up.

“This is a great move if you’ve been sitting for hours with your shoulders forward,” says Offinger. “It activates your scapula and is great for your posture. You feel like you’re getting taller.”

9 Upper rotation

Time 30sec

Stand with your upper arms out to the sides, perpendicular to your torso, elbows bent at 90°, lower arms pointing towards the ceiling and hands facing forwards. Rotate your torso from one side to the other.

“This is similar to the elbow twist, but here you can rotate your hips as well and go a little bit further,” says Offinger.

10 Hip circles

Time 20sec

Stand and move your hips in a circle. This is likely to be a familiar movement, so beware getting carried away. “Make sure to move very slowly,” says Offinger. “Go as far as you can, but only as far as feels good.”

Download Kaia from App Store and Google Play | Three months for £32.99, free trial available

How To Spot And Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Friday, September 13, 2019 - 15:20

Some diseases are easy to spot. As soon as you experience one or more of the symptoms, it’s obvious what they are caused by. That is emphatically not the case with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), because its symptoms can be linked with a number of other diseases, or unrelated to any disease at all.

To help identify what symptoms could point to IBS, and when you should go and see a doctor, we spoke to Jo Travers – a dietician with Love Your Gut, an initiative that aims to promote better gut health. Head to the website to learn more about Love Your Gut Week, which runs from 16th-22nd September, and take a digestive health assessment.

What are the symptoms of IBS?

IBS has a range of symptoms such as bloating, pain, discomfort, excess wind, needing to go the loo urgently and diarrhoea. But it's important to remember that not everyone gets all these symptoms. Sometimes there are specific triggers for the symptoms like a stressful event or eating a specific food, but this may not be obvious and people may have very different triggers.

How can you recognise you have IBS as opposed to other digestive problems?

IBS symptoms are non-specific and may be caused by a range of conditions – some quite serious like inflammatory bowel disease or coeliac disease. To get a proper diagnosis of IBS you must first rule out the conditions with long-term health consequences by having a range of blood tests, and in some cases you may need a colonoscopy.

At what point should you go and see a professional about the problem?

If you have any symptoms that are making you feel unwell, always go and see your GP. But even if you don’t feel unwell, if you have stomach pain or discomfort at least one day a week for more than two months and you have a change in your bowel habits – like going to the loo more or less frequently, or diarrhoea – or if your symptoms are affecting the things you are able to do, see your GP.

How do you treat IBS? Can it be cured, or do you just have to manage the symptoms?

There is no cure for IBS but as mentioned there are often specific triggers for the symptoms and when you figure out what your triggers are, then it can be effectively managed by making changes to diet and lifestyle. It can be difficult to understand triggers because it may feel completely random. If this is the case, I recommend seeing a dietitian who is trained to identify exactly these things.

What causes IBS?

The gut is an extremely complex organ that is affected by many factors. As a result no-one really knows what causes IBS. However, we do know that stress and certain foods, as well as exercise, sleep and the bacteria we come into contact with, can all affect how well it functions.

How common is IBS in the UK?

It's thought that one in five people will have IBS at some point during their lifetime, although the digestive symptoms associated with IBS are much more common.

Casio Pro-Trek WSD F30 Review: A Smartwatch For Outdoor Pursuits Falls Short

 

Jonathan Shannon

Friday, September 13, 2019 - 15:03

After a while, reviewing Wear OS smartwatches becomes a bit tedious because what each one can do is limited by the operating system. We’ll come to the limitations of the operating system in due course, but in the meantime it’s worth praising Casio for offering something substantively different.

The Pro-Trek WDS F30 won’t appeal to everyone, and in fact the people it will appeal to probably won’t be too bothered about the smartwatch functions. What they will like is that the device is about as unbreakable as it gets – Casio claims it meets US military standards – and is waterproof too, as well as having colour maps.

The irony is that the maps used by the native software, which Casio has even added a dedicated button for (although you can change that default), aren’t great. Casio’s map tool runs off Google Maps or the open source competitor Mapbox. I am no intrepid explorer but even I know not to go off-grid relying solely on Google Maps. And while Casio’s app can download maps for offline use, it doesn’t attempt to plot routes. I also found it temperamental when the watch wasn’t connected to WiFi. My attempts to load maps via smartphone data in Germany failed multiple times.

Instead, as I found when I lent the device to a more outdoorsy friend who took it trail running and mountain biking around the South Downs, Wear OS offers the ViewRanger app to download. With a subscription, this puts Ordnance Survey 1:25000 maps on your wrist.

That was the killer feature my friend raved about – “brilliant for trail running” – and while you can download ViewRanger on any Wear OS smartwatch, no other device available will be able to take the knocks and bumps you’d expect from someone who needs OS 1:25000 maps. It might be a little too solid for some pursuits, however – my friend’s wrist was left bruised for a week after mountain biking.

There are other unique features that draw on the barometer, compass and altimeter in the watch. For one, it allows dedicated tracking for trekking, fishing, paddling and snow sports. On the more basic fitness trackers I’ve tried, you can track these sports, but there’s little information beyond that derived from GPS and calories burned calculated through movement and heart rate. Trekking on the F30, on the other hand, lets you set a target altitude and will display your total ascent and speed alongside your total descent and speed. Another screen displays a colour map, which can be downloaded before you set off. When tracking snow sports, you can use that map screen to mark the start and stop of each run. Smartly, you can also use a seperate Casio app – essentially an open-ended “If This, Then That” tool – to notify you an hour before sundown, so you get off the slopes in good time and beat the après-ski crush.

Don’t expect to pore over your runs on a big screen afterwards, however. There’s no smartphone app to export these to. The activity stats can be exported, but you’ll need patience and knowledge to work out what they can be exported to and how.

This is the fundamental flaw with the F30. Some good ideas have been poorly executed. Navigating using the touchscreen is fiddly and not intuitive. The three buttons provided are spongy and often unresponsive. Learning what you can do involves trial and error and an awful lot of Googling. The watch frequently disconnects from iPhones. I wouldn’t expect the battery to last longer than a day using it under normal smartwatch conditions, and while certain modes can extend its use in a hiking scenario for two days, you’re restricting the watch’s functions to the very essentials. The charger, too, is poorly designed, disconnecting from the device at the slightest tug and taking more than two hours to recharge the entire battery.

It’s a frustrating smartwatch as well. The apps available depend on the unique combination of the watch and phone – and good luck finding out what’s available to you before buying. Rather than ViewRanger, the CityMapper app on my wrist would be incredibly helpful, but frustratingly it’s not available for my set-up.

The smartwatch experience and range of apps, no matter your set-up, far surpasses what’s available from traditional tracking companies like Fitbit and Garmin, but then the fitness tracking capabilities of the F30 are pretty woeful. While this isn’t meant to be the F30’s forte, the trend for smartwatches has been towards offering more fitness tracking – I suspect because people weren’t sold on the usefulness of the smart features. The biggest omission on the F30 is a heart rate monitor, something that’s standard across all but the very cheapest devices now.

You could make the argument that a heart rate monitor would drain the battery too quickly. The hardware does tend to be a battery hog, but then the battery life for day-to-day use on the F30 isn’t noticeably better than on other Wear OS devices I’ve worn – a full charge lasts a day and it needs to be plugged in overnight to make it through another full day. Or you could say the watch is so bulky and heavy (92g) that it would struggle to get a good reading, or even that it’s designed to be worn over jackets. Both fair points, but doubtful considering we already know the next generation of the F30 will have a heart rate monitor.

Perhaps that next watch will manage to combine unique and useful features for adventures in the great outdoors, along with a slick smartwatch experience that will help when you return to civilization, but the F30 seems far enough off now that I wouldn’t hold my breath. If the combination of features suits you, our advice is to take the £450 the F30 costs and buy two watches. Mobvoi, for instance, offers WearOS smartwatches for under £200, leaving you plenty for a rugged adventure watch.

Rating ⭐⭐ (2/5)

Buy from Casio | £449

The Apple Watch Series 3 Is Now Available for £199

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Thursday, September 12, 2019 - 15:49

Here’s some really bad news for the new Fitbit Versa 2 and Garmin Venu smartwatches; Apple has cut the price of the Apple Watch Series 3 to £199. While the Series 3 has been around since 2017, it still rivals the best smartwatches out there, largely thanks to the enormous number of apps available through the Apple App Store, and it will benefit from the latest watchOS 6 software when it is released in September.

That means the differences between the Series 3 and the just-launched Series 5 are all contained in the hardware, but those differences are still significant. The Series 4 and 5 Apple Watches have a much-improved heart rate monitor that’s not only far more accurate than the one in the Series 3, but also has the ability to take an ECG measurement from your wrist.

The newer watches also have a larger screen, and in the case of the Series 5 that screen is always-on, which is particularly useful during workouts.

However, the Series 3 does have built-in GPS and a waterproof design, plus access to the all-important Apple app market, where there is pretty much always a third-party app available to address any native software shortcomings.

As for the competition the Apple Watch will have in its new price bracket, it’s the Versa 2, which costs £199.99, that it could really threaten. Fitbit’s new smartwatch has a longer battery life than the Series 3, along with impressive sleep tracking (something Apple doesn’t offer natively on any of its watches), but the Versa 2 doesn’t have a built-in GPS and the Fitbit app store is underwhelming to say the least.


The Series 3 also undercuts the new Garmin Venu smartwatch, which is the first device Garmin has released with an AMOLED screen, rather than the dimmer displays it puts on its sports watches as standard to increase battery life. The Venu will cost £299.99, but does have a considerable advantage over the Series 3 in the quality of the native sports tracking Garmin offers, which is far better than Apple’s simplistic workout app.

Garmin’s Venu also links to Spotify Premium accounts so you can wirelessly sync your playlists to the watch. Although the Apple Watch and Versa 2 both have Spotify apps, these just allow you to control it on your phone; you can’t store music offline on the watches themselves, though you can do this with Apple Music on the Apple Watch and Deezer on the Versa 2.

The major advantage that both the Venu and the Versa 2 have over the Apple Watch is that they work equally well with Android phones, while the Apple Watch is restricted to the iPhone. However, if you have an iPhone and are in the market for a budget smartwatch, the Series 3 probably just went to the top of your list. The Series 3 is available at its new price now, with the standard watch starting at £199 and the cellular version £299.

Buy from Apple | From £199 | Apple Watch Series 3 review

The New Apple Watch Series 5 Adds An Always-On Screen

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Thursday, September 12, 2019 - 11:18

Every year Apple launches a new Apple Watch laden with exciting new updates, and every year there’s one key feature missing on the device. Until this year. Drumroll… The Apple Watch Series 5 will have an always-on retina display.

That pretty much covers everything we truly care about, but there are other new features too, so we’ll carry on. But first, more on that always-on screen. As well as constantly showing your watch face, the screen will remain on throughout your workouts, which is the really important bit. Lifting and turning your wrist then waiting for the screen to wake up is annoying when running, dangerous when cycling, and almost impossible when doing certain gym exercises like press-ups or barbell squats, so having all your workout stats available at a glance is a sizeable improvement. The always-on screen will also be welcomed by anyone who uses any of the guided workout apps on the Apple Watch, of which there are many.

Apple says the always-on screen won’t hit the battery life on the watch, which will still last 18 hours on a single charge. That’s not as much as you get from the new Fitbit Versa 2 or Garmin Venu smartwatches, but that’s nothing new for the Apple Watch, which has always prioritised features over a long battery life. That’s the likely reason there’s no native sleep tracking, because in practice it’s best to plug in the watch every night.

Sports watches from the likes of Garmin and Polar offer an always-on screen as standard and it’s been one of the key reasons why you might opt for a proper sports watch over a smartwatch, despite the latter usually having more vivid, colourful displays. However, with the Versa 2, Venu and now the Apple Watch Series 5 all having an always-on display option, it’s no longer a key difference between sports watches and smartwatches (though the former will still have a longer battery life owing to less flashy screens).

Aside from the display, there aren’t a huge amount of new features on the Series 5 compared with the Series 4. The watch now contains a compass, which will help you line up your position with the maps on the watch, and the cellular version can make emergency calls all over the world regardless of where you bought the watch.

Everything else that’s new on the watch comes with watchOS 6, which will be available from 19th September for all Apple Watch models. The new software brings a standalone watch app store to the device – so you don’t need to download apps via your phone – along with manual tracking of menstrual cycles, activity trends on stats like steps and your active minutes, plus a noise alert that will tell you if the surrounding sound levels are high enough to potentially damage your hearing.

The Apple Watch Series 5 starts at £399 for the standard version and £499 for the cellular version and is available to order now.

Buy from Apple | From £399

The Best Dry Shampoos For When You Don’t Have Time For A Post-Workout Shower

 

Matt Breen

Friday, September 13, 2019 - 22:06

If you like to work up a sweat before work or during your lunch break, the chances are that sometimes you’re going to have to skip washing your hair afterwards – especially if you have long hair which takes its sweet time to dry. And if you like to do something active most days you’ll quickly find washing your hair after every session leaves your hair somewhat limp and lifeless. One way around this washing dilemma is to get yourself a can of dry shampoo as a stopgap that can revitalise your hair in a matter of minutes. Most commonly available as a powder sprayed from an aerosol, it freshens up flat hair by soaking up your scalp’s oils and adding volume.

Some dry shampoos are scented so it’s worth hitting a shop to smell a few before buying your first one, and it’s worth knowing that some dry shampoos contain pigment according to hair colour, which will refresh your hair’s hue as well as its texture. You can find cans dry of dry shampoo from as little as £3 and our selection goes up to fancy £24 ones. In general, the more you pay, the less residue will be left in your hair, but before you get hooked on the most expensive option, bear in mind that if you have medium to long hair you may be surprised at how much dry shampoo you can get through.

The Best Dry Shampoo For £3 Or Less: Batiste Dry Shampoo

Having launched its first dry shampoo over three decades ago, Batiste is the original brand and one you’ll find in many a gym bag thanks to the killer combination of being very cheap and very good. We did find that it left white-coloured flecks when applied too liberally, so don’t go overboard.

Buy on Amazon | £3 for 200ml (currently reduced to £2.25)

The Best Translucent High-Street Dry Shampoo: Colab Dry Shampoo

Colab’s translucent formula means you needn’t worry about your hair getting a white tinge and it dispenses the shampoo at a steadier rate than other products, so you won’t accidentally blitz your hair leaving lots of icky residue. There’s an eight-strong selection of scents too, from the sweet-smelling Unicorn to the zingy Fruity.

Buy from Boots | £3.49 for 200ml (currently reduced to £2.33)

The Best Dry Shampoo Under £15: Percy & Reed No-Fuss Fabulousness Dry Shampoo

An olfactory note of caution: the scent of Percy 7 Reed hair products tends to polarise people. If you’re in the “love it” camp, you’ll no doubt be pleased to hear that this dry shampoo does a spectacular job. It’s no great surprise since creators Paul Percival and Adam Reed are both venerated hair stylists who preside over the Percy & Reed salon empire. Like Colab, the product is dispensed particularly uniformly, though in this case you should apply liberally in order to ensure you get a sufficient lift to your locks.

Buy on Amazon | £12.50 for 150ml (currently reduced to £10)

The Best Dry Shampoo Under £20: Hair By Sam McKnight Lazy Girl Dry Shampoo

Celebrity hair stylist Sam McKnight’s dry shampoo isn’t a lacklustre cash-in, but a genuinely good product that is cheaper than we’d expect. It blasts out a light mist that is easily absorbed. It doubles up as a styling spray and the effects last too. The enticing, botanical scent was created by another industry maven, perfumier Lyn Harris.

Buy from Cult Beauty | £19 for 250ml

The Best Non-Powder Dry Shampoo: OUAI Dry Shampoo Foam

Applying a mousse to dry hair doesn’t sound like a particularly smart idea, but in the case of this foam from OUAI, it makes a sound alternate to those who don’t get on with powder products. Where powders can leave your follicles with a matte finish, this foam – which you apply with your fingers – adds shine and leaves your hair looking like it’s just had a session under the blow-dryer. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s light, citrusy scent sets it apart from the cheaper powders on this list.

Buy from Space NK | £24 for 150g

This Website Makes It Easier To Find A Fitness Class Near You

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 - 22:22

Where would you start if you went looking for a fitness class near you? A gym is the obvious place, but generally its classes are restricted to members and most require more of a commitment (after a short trial) than you may be prepared to make.

You may direct your search to Google but – whisper it, because someone’s Google Home app is probably listening – not everything can be found that way. The truth is that there are probably classes going on right under your nose but which you need a stroke of luck to find out about. For example, there’s a Scout hut opposite one Coach contributor’s house that had been putting on yoga classes for years, but he had no idea until a friend told him.

New website Classfinder aims to make such ignorance a thing of the past. Over 40,000 classes nationwide are already listed on the site, with more being added all the time.

Classfinder is mercifully easy to use and there are many ways to filter the listed classes to find one that suits you. That starts with four upfront suggestions – lose weight, de-stress, 60-plus and beginners – that you can use to narrow down what’s available with one click.

However, if you want to go into more detail you can do that easily, filtering by distance, date, class type, difficulty level, cost and booking, the last of which informs you if you need a membership to attend.

Although Classfinder is still relatively new, the range of classes we found searching a range of UK postcodes was already impressive, and the site has backing from organisations such as Sport England, which should help it expand quickly.

Classfinder is also running a competition to encourage people to spread the word on Facebook, and everyone who likes the Classfinder Facebook page and tags a friend before 29th November gets a two-month KpopX Fitness pass to try its online fitness classes, as well as a Discovery Pass for class booking app and website MoveGB. The prizes on offer include a 12-month Everyone Active gym membership, and many of them are for you and a friend, so you can get someone to attend classes with you.

Yoga Poses To Help You Sleep

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 - 22:36

There are a lot of reasons to make yoga part of your exercise routine, but one that you may not have considered is that it can help you get to sleep. We’re not talking about challenging inversions or hot yoga, where you’ll be sweating way too much to get sleepy, but instead the gentler side of yoga, which can encourage stillness and a calmer mind.

“There are a number of gentle movements and postures that are accessible to almost anyone, and can even be done while lying in bed,” says Kelsey Ravlich, a yoga instructor who’s on the Livekick app, which allows you to practise with a private yoga instructor (or work out with a PT) over a video call.

“Many people say that taking an evening yoga class helps them sleep better, but if you can't make it to the studio after work, here are four yoga poses and one breathing exercise to help with getting to sleep.

“Each of these poses can be held for as long as ten minutes, and should be maintained for at least five deep inhales and exhales. The goal of this practice is for you to start feeling calmer, more comfortable and more optimistic.”

Child’s pose (Balasana)

“This pose is a forward bend and mild inversion,” says Ravlich. “It’s wonderful for releasing tension and letting go. Feel your forehead against the mat and allow your weight to press into the floor.

“Start on your hands and knees with your knees directly under your hips and your wrists directly under your shoulders. Open your knees wider than hip-distance apart, and bring your big toes together. Move your hips back to sit on your open feet – or as close to your feet as possible – and walk your hands forwards until your forehead comes to rest on the floor.

“This is an easy pose you can do in bed. A pillow underneath your forehead is a great, comfy way to help shorten the distance between you and the mattress or the floor. If your hips are feeling tight and it’s challenging to bring them all the way back to meet your heels, slide a blanket between your hips and heels.”

Bridge and supported bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

“Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground,” says Ravlich. “Ensure that your knees are hip-width apart and pointed directly up. Your arms should be by your sides and your palms pressing gently into the floor.

“Gently engage your glutes, press your feet into the floor and lift your hips into the air. This part is not necessary, but to further open your chest you can walk your hands towards each other underneath your hips and clasp them together. Either hold the pose here, or continue to return your hips to the floor and then back into the air.

“You can make this pose feel a bit more supported by placing a block, a pile of pillows or a stack of books underneath your sacrum [at the base of your spine].”

Reclined bound angle pose (Baddha Konasana)

“When we’re anxious, we often take quick, shallow breaths from our chest instead of from our diaphragm,” says Ravlich. “This can increase symptoms of anxiety and make your mind race when you want it to be shutting down. Sometimes, simply shifting our attention to your breath can make all the difference. Plus, since this is a great hip-opener, you’ll be more focused on the level of relative discomfort of your hips, especially if you’ve been sitting all day long. Be gentle with yourself as you encourage each inhalation and exhalation to be slightly fuller, deepening this stretch.

“Begin by setting up a tower of pillows – one or two stacked on top of each other and one perpendicular to create a T shape. Take a seat at the base of the T and bring the soles of your feet together, creating a basic bound angle pose. Keep your feet together and lean your torso backwards onto your pillows, allowing your arms to rest at your sides or on your hips.”

Legs up the wall pose (Viparita Kirani)

“If you don’t feel like bending forwards or backwards, this is the pose for you,” says Ravlich. “In Sanskrit, this pose is called Viparita – “inverted” – Karani – “in action”. The name proclaims its ability to invert our daily actions of sitting and standing.

“There is no non-awkward way to get into this one. Place your feet against a wall and use that leverage to wiggle your hips towards the wall until your hips are resting against it. Straighten your legs so that as much of your heels, calves, hamstrings and glutes as possible are against the wall. If you aren’t happy with where you end up on the wall, you can always shift your hips closer or further away.”

Four-part breathing

“Yogic breathing exercises are really excellent to work on while lying in bed, trying to quiet your mind and fall asleep,” says Ravlich. “Four-part breathing, sometimes called square breathing, is easy to remember and a great go-to.”

“Start by taking one mindful breath in and out. From that exhalation, your four-part breathing begins. Inhale a large belly breath through your nose to the count of four. When you get to the top, lock in that breath and hold it for a count of four. Then slowly release that breath through your nose, exhaling for a count of four. Finally, hold at the bottom of that exhalation, when you have no air left, for a count of four. Repeat this three times as a minimum to begin to notice a calming effect.”

The New Garmin Vivoactive 4 Fitness Tracker Brings Animated Workouts To Your Wrist

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 - 22:14

It’s all go at Garmin, which has announced updates to the Fenix, Vivomove and Vivoactive trackers in the past week, alongside launching an entirely new smartwatch – the Venu.

While most Garmin watches are tailored towards committed sportspeople, the Vivoactive is a more rounded tracker, offering a fine array of everyday activity stats and an attractive design. It also now has music storage as standard – the Vivoactive 3 had models with and without music – and a PulseOx sensor, which measures your blood oxygen saturation. Garmin is adding this to the majority of its trackers but for the moment it’s largely useless unless you’re at altitude, although it may allow for more in-depth sleep tracking in the future.

The other major new feature on the Vivoactive 4 is far more interesting: guided workouts, which come with animated instructions you can follow on the watch. There are workouts across a range of activities including yoga, Pilates, strength and cardio sessions. You can also create your own workouts in the Garmin Connect app using the animations.

As you’d expect from a Garmin device, the sports tracking is top-notch. The Vivoactive 4 has a built-in GPS and heart rate monitor, as well as 20 modes for tracking different kinds of exercise. It doesn’t offer the detailed training analysis you get on Garmin’s Forerunner or Fenix watches, but the Vivoactive’s native sports tracking beats that offered by Fitbit or Apple.

Garmin has improved the everyday tracking on the watch, bringing in new features like hydration and respiration tracking. You can also follow several different guided breathing sessions, which are designed to help you focus or relax.

The Vivoactive 4 comes in two sizes – the standard 4 is 45mm and the 4S is 40mm. The two watches have the same features, but battery life is longer on the 4 at eight days or six hours of GPS plus music, compared with seven days and five hours on the 4S.

That long battery life is what puts the Vivoactive 4 ahead of its closest competitor, the new Garmin Venu. The Venu has all the same features as the Vivoactive plus an AMOLED screen, and the cheapest model costs £299.99. That is close enough to the £239.99/£259.99 for the Vivoactive 4S/4 that we’d expect many people will happily pay the difference to get the far better screen on the Venu, unless they value a longer battery life. The Venu’s screen reduces the battery life to five days, and if you set it to always-on, which the Vivoactive 4’s screen is as standard, you can expect that battery life to drop to more like two days.

The Vivoactive 4 looks a great all-round sports watch with an attractive design – but with the Venu on the market, it has a significant rival from within, as well as the competition from Apple, Fitbit and Android Wear devices. It will go on sale in September.

Sign up to be notified when the Vivoactive 4 is available to buy

Garmin Launches Range Of New Fitness Trackers Including The Venu Smartwatch

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Monday, September 9, 2019 - 17:11

Garmin has updated its Vivoactive and Vivomove trackers, and launched a completely new smartwatch – the Venu, which features an AMOLED touchscreen that can compete with the vivid displays on devices like the Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy and Fitbit Versa.

The Vivoactive 4 comes in two sizes – the 4 is 45mm and the 4S is 40mm – and the larger device packs in a little extra battery life as a result (eight days compared with seven). Otherwise the two watches offer the same features, which include animated workouts you can follow on your wrist, a new PulseOx sensor for measuring blood oxygen saturation and music playback.

Pictured: Garmin Vivoactive 4 family

While it doesn’t offer the depth of tracking and analysis found in the Forerunner or Fenix range, the Vivoactive 4 looks a great all-round sport and everyday activity tracker. It’s not a huge update on the Vivoactive 3, but the 4 is a little better-looking and has a lower starting price than its predecessor. The 4 will cost from £259.99 and the 4S £239.99, and will go on sale this month.

However, much of the Vivoactive’s target audience might well be tempted away by the new Venu smartwatch on the basis of its AMOLED screen. The Venu has all the Vivoactive’s features alongside that screen, and although it does lose battery life as a result of the brighter display, Garmin suggests it will still last five days on a change. Even if that number comes down to two days with real-world use, like firing up the GPS and setting the screen to be always-on, it’s a trade-off many will accept for the more impressive display.

Pictured: Garmin Venu family

You will have to spend more to get the Venu: it costs from £299.99 (fancier frame and strap combinations cost £329.99), which is significantly pricier than the new Fitbit Versa 2 (£199.99) too. The Venu will have Garmin’s sports tracking features though, which are a big upgrade on the native tracking available on any other smartwatch, including the Versa and Apple Watch. The watch will be available in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Garmin has also updated the Vivomove hybrid tracker range, launching the Vivomove 3 (and smaller 3S), Vivomove Style and Vivomove Luxe. The Vivomove marries the look of an analogue watch with fitness tracking, with your stats shown on the touchscreen display only when you tap the watch.

Pictured: Garmin Vivomove family

The Style and Luxe watches both offer a dual display, showing two stats at once in contrast to the one available on the standard Vivomove 3. The Style and Luxe versions can also make NFC payments with Garmin Pay, as well as having more eye-catching designs, as you’d expect from the model names.

Although the Vivomove range can connect to your phone’s GPS to track outdoor activities, it’s designed to be an everyday activity tracker, rather than a sports-focused device. The new watches will be available before the end of 2019 and will cost from £219.99 to £479.99, depending on the model you go for.

Registration For The Paris Marathon 2020 Is Open

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Monday, September 9, 2019 - 12:39

Unless you’re really fast or really good at raising a lot of money for charity, the London Marathon is seriously hard to get into. The ballot is hugely oversubscribed every year, so when October rolls around and the ballot results are announced, the majority of people who entered will be left without a spot in the 2020 race.

However, in the same month as the next London event there is another brilliant marathon taking place in another European capital that’s people from the UK can get to easily. And you can sign up to guarantee your spot in that marathon right now.

The Paris Marathon 2020 will take place on 5th April and registration for the event is open now. If you head to the marathon’s website you can secure your spot at a reduced price of €110 (approximately £98), a price that rises to €125 (approximately £111) on 25th November.

Although there is space for over 50,000 runners in the event, it’s still worth moving quickly in case it sells out – 22,000 spots have already been allocated in the pre-registration period. Maybe just wait until the next Brexit development that has a positive effect on the value of the pound happens and go for it then. Be quick before it all goes wrong again.


The Paris Marathon boasts an especially scenic route for a city marathon, taking in two woods – Bois de Vincennes and Bois de Boulogne – alongside all the major landmarks in the city like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre before finishing by the Arc de Triomphe. It doesn’t have the same incredible support as you get at the London Marathon and it’s also hillier, but there’s nothing too steep and there are long downhill stretches where you can pick up the pace with less effort.

If you’ve entered and are wondering how to go about preparing for the race, we have free 14-week training plans to suit different targets, along with a whole load of general advice about the gear and nutrition that can make completing a marathon just that little bit easier.

Sign up | €110 (approximately £98)

Get Fitter And Stronger With This Full-Body Circuit Workout

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Friday, September 6, 2019 - 13:59

Whatever your aims in the gym, we’re confident that this functional workout can help you hit them. During the course of the ten-station circuit you’ll be lifting heavy weights, going all-out on the cardio machines and leaping around with (controlled) abandon. As a result you’ll get stronger and fitter and burn a whole bunch of of calories.

This workout has been created by Sam Gregory, owner and head trainer at F45 Stratford. Make sure to warm up before you do it and warm down afterwards.

Full-Body Functional Workout

The workout is made up of ten stations. At each station you work for 45 seconds, then take ten seconds to rest and move on to the next exercise. Complete four rounds of the circuit in total, taking a 30-second break in between each circuit.

Press-up

Time 45sec Rest 10sec

“Start in an elevated plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart,” says Gregory. “Slowly, lower yourself to the ground by bending your elbows. Do not touch the floor – hover about an inch [2-3cm] from the ground, then push your body back up.”

Ice skater

Time 45sec Rest 10sec

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Leap to the right, land on your right foot with a slight bend in the knees and take your left foot behind the right. Then repeat the movement on your left side.

Kettlebell Romanian deadlift

Time 45sec Rest 10sec

“Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a kettlebell in each hand,” says Gregory. “Gradually lower the kettlebell down to your feet, bending at the hips while keeping your back straight. Then come back up to a standing position.”

Rowing machine

Time 45sec Rest 10sec

Blast through 45 seconds of rowing to get your heart rate up. Make a mental note of how far you rowed in the first circuit and try to match or beat that distance in the next three rounds.

Renegade row

Time 45sec Rest 10sec

“Hold a dumbbell in each hand and get into an elevated plank position,” says Gregory. “Keeping your elbows tucked in, bring the dumbbell in your right hand up towards your ribs. Try to keep the rest of your body as still as possible, moving only your arm and shoulder. Lower the dumbbell to the floor and repeat the move on your left side.”

Kettlebell swing

Time 45sec Rest 10sec

“Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart,” says Gregory. “Hold a kettlebell in front of your body with both hands and your arms straight. With a slight bend in your knees and a flat back, hinge at your hips to lean forwards and swing the kettlebell back through your legs. Thrust your hips forwards, engaging your glutes and core, and swing the kettlebell in front of your body. Once the kettlebell has reached chest height, lower it back down through your legs under control.”

Kettlebell rack sumo squat

Time 45sec Rest 10sec

“Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing slightly outwards,” says Gregory. “Hold a kettlebell in each hand in the rack position by your shoulders. Make sure you keep your arms close to your body and your elbows tucked in. Maintain a straight back and keep your core engaged. Pushing your hips back, slowly bend your knees and lower your legs until your thighs are just below parallel to the floor, then drive back up.”

Inchworm into wide mountain climber

Time 45sec Rest 10sec

“Stand with your feet hip-width apart,” says Gregory. “Place your palms on the mat and walk your hands forwards so that you are in an elevated plank position, with your wrists under your shoulders. Drive your right knee towards the outside of your right elbow, then your left knee.”

Alternate driving your knees ten times in total, then walk your hands back and return to a standing position.

Alternating dumbbell overhead press

Time 45sec Rest 10sec

Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand by your shoulders with your palms facing forwards. Press the dumbbell in your right hand overhead, then bring it back down and press the left dumbbell overhead.

Lateral hurdle jumps to chest-to-floor burpee

Set up a hurdle and stand side-on to it.

“Bend your knees slightly and jump sideways over the hurdle, then jump back over the hurdle,” says Gregory. “After you have completed three lateral hurdle jumps, go straight into your burpee.”

For the burpee, squat down to place your hands on the floor and jump your feet back so you’re in an elevated plank position. Drop your chest to the floor, push back up, then jump your feet forwards and jump straight up, throwing your hands above your head. Land and go straight into your next set of hurdle jumps.

Asics Gel-Kayano 26 Running Shoe Review: A Premium Pick For Overpronators

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Friday, September 6, 2019 - 12:38

Runners tend to show a great deal of loyalty to brands or even a particular line of shoes once they find one they like. That’s even more true for runners who use stability shoes because there are fewer options, and Asics’ Gel-Kayano line has long been a preferred pick for runners who overpronate, which means they excessively roll the foot inwards upon landing.

The Gel-Kayano 26 corrects overpronation through a series of additions to the midsole and outsole of the shoe, along with Asics’s Metaclutch heel counter. In fact, the shoe is so laden with additions to help guide your foot into a neutral position that I feared that it would be both heavy and uncomfortable to run in.

Fortunately, it was neither. The Gel-Kayano 26 is reasonably heavy at 315g (men’s) but feels far lighter than that on the foot. I used it mostly for steady runs along with some shorter, faster stuff and it didn’t feel clunky at all. It’s not an out-and-out speedster, but overpronators can feel confident they’re getting a shoe that will work for both training and racing.

The Gel-Kayano 26 is at its best when you up the distance. That’s partly because it’s comfortable, with the various stability features incorporated into the shoe in a non-intrusive way. The Gel-Kayano 26 gently guides your foot into the right position for a smooth heel-to-toe transition without you noticing. I’m a neutral runner and found the Gel-Kayano comfortable to use regardless.


I was less keen on the ride of the shoe, however, but I prefer softer midsoles with plenty of bounce in them, like those in the New Balance FuelCell Rebel or Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2. The Gel-Kayano 26’s Flytefoam Propel foam midsole is quite firm, which contributes to the shoe feeling lightweight and snappy when running, and also helps with the stability of the shoe. I can see why an overpronating runner might not want to use a squishy shoe but I didn’t find the Gel Kayano enjoyable to run in, especially when heading out for an easy run.

The midsole might ease up as your Kayanos rack up the miles, but there was little sign of that after the 50km so far, so if you’re planning on training for and running a marathon in this shoe, you should be aware that you’re in for a quite firm ride. The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19 is a stability shoe that has a softer feel, so if you don’t like the sound of the Kayano’s ride it’s worth trying that shoe on.

The Gel-Kayano 26 is a solid update to the line that will not disappoint those who have used the shoes in the past. Asics has done little to change the shoe, apart from small tweaks to make it more comfortable, and the Kayano 26 is an even better option for long-distance running as a result. The stability features on the shoe get the job done without feeling intrusive and while the ride is a little firm for my taste, it’s a shoe that will work well for a range of training and racing.

Buy men’s from Asics | Buy women’s from Asics | £155

Help Someone With A Long-Term Health Condition – Tell Them About This Campaign

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Friday, September 6, 2019 - 10:14

One in four people in England live with a long-term health condition like diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s or arthritis. That’s 15 million people, and the figure is expected to rise to 18 million by 2025.

Regular exercise can help manage the symptoms of these conditions, as well as improving physical and mental health, but it’s harder for people with long-term health problems to be active. Research has found that 69% of people with long-term health conditions would like to be more active, but they are twice as likely to be inactive as people without these problems.

Sport England’s new campaign We Are Undefeatable is all about trying to remove the barriers to exercise, inspiring them to get active and providing practical advice to help them start.

The variety of ways that exercise can help people with long-term health conditions is shown by a series of case studies on the We Are Undefeatable website. Rebecca Fowler, who has multiple sclerosis and depression, found that joining a dance group improved her physical and mental wellbeing.

“Dancing was always something I had enjoyed, but I never had lessons,” says Fowler. “I quickly fell in love with it and have been dancing for just over two years. My weekly dance classes have given me a new friendship group and I am now part of a strong community of people living with long-term conditions and disabilities who are united by their love of dance. It has been a wonderful and unexpected benefit of being involved in a dance group.”

Chris Bright has lived with type 1 diabetes for most of his life, but that hasn’t stopped him from playing football and futsal at a high level. Fowler also started the Diabetes Football Community, a not-for-profit organisation designed to help people with type 1 diabetes play sport.

“They do say exercise is the most powerful medication for us all, but for me it has an effect which can be so useful to managing Type 1,” says Fowler. “I can use my knowledge of exercise to bring my glucose levels down, such as going for a run or doing some football training. Because I’m very active, my insulin sensitivity is pretty high, and therefore I don’t use a lot of medication to manage my conditions.”

Tony Linforth-Hall suffers from uncommon cancer Hodgkin lymphoma and finds that walking football helps him manage his condition.

“Remaining as fit as possible enables me to cope with treatment,” says Linforth-Hall. “The social side of a group activity such as walking football is profoundly valuable for my morale.”

You can find more case studies as well as advice on how to get active on the We Are Undefeatable website.

How To Get Through The Tough Parts Of The Simplyhealth Great North Run

 

Jonathan Shannon

Wednesday, September 4, 2019 - 22:12

The world’s largest half marathon, the Simplyhealth Great North Run, is almost upon the 57,000-plus runners taking part. While there’s nothing anyone can do now to get in better physical shape for Sunday (beyond resting so you’re fresh), there are ways to prepare yourself mentally for the inevitable tough parts. We asked Paul Noble, a running physio who is working with Simplyhealth, title partner of the Great North Run, for his expert advice.

Should runners expect tough patches while running a half marathon?

Anticipating tough patches in a race and planning your physical and mental strategies will help you to get to the finish within your target time and still in one piece. Preparation is essential.

Personal, tried-and-tested routines not only provide you with a solid plan on race day but also increase your confidence, which will give you a huge psychological boost. A good training plan including running-specific exercises will help ensure you have the strength and stamina for your race. Having a well tested hydration and fuelling plan and using running gear that has been well worn will ensure you have not left anything to chance.

Inadequate training is a surefire way of setting yourself up for a difficult race. At some point in the latter third of the run you’ll hit a patch where you will start to struggle. If your training hasn’t been perfect, perhaps because of time lost to injury or other commitments, it would be wise to lower your expectations on race day.

Starting slowly and staying focused on a sustainable pace will see you to the finish line without blowing up. Once you’ve adjusted your finish time, make sure your planned split times are realistic – take note of the times you should be hitting at certain milestones along the route. If your split times start to slip on the day, try to avoid the temptation to speed up within the race to claw back lost time.

Attempting to squeeze more training in late on will leave you feeling jaded rather than fresh and raring to go. Make sure you decrease your training load (taper) in the final couple of weeks before the race, so you’ll be full of beans on the start line.

What mistakes do people make in a race that can make it tougher than necessary?

The number one error that can have disastrous effects later in the race is setting off too quickly. In 2018 the running statistics of 1.7 million recreational runners were analysed in a study that focused on the relationship between the starting and finishing times of men and women. The main findings showed that men were far worse than women for racing off at the start and this generally led to slower overall times, with an increased probability that they would go on to hit the wall later in the race.

What can people do to make tough periods as easy as possible?

First, remember you’re not alone. Many runners reach a point in their race when things get almost too tough to handle, and getting through the hard times is a runner’s rite of passage. Remember your miles of training, recall the drive and passion that got you to this point and take solace from the runners around you – your brothers and sisters all fighting the same battle.

In practical terms, do a quick check. Are you properly hydrated? Are you fuelled enough? As well as being a welcome morale booster a few jelly babies from the crowd will lift your energy levels. How is your breathing and body tension? Focus on taking deeper, more relaxed breaths, slow things down, allow yourself to walk for a while until you feel more in control. Relax your shoulders and let your arms swing freely.

Many long-distance runners practise a “yoga on the move” routine where they take stock of how each body part is feeling. This allows you to take a moment to consciously relax tired and stressed body areas.

When you’re truly in the grips of struggle and your body feels like it’s on its last legs, you’ll need to switch to the much talked-about strategy of mental perseverance. So many top athletes tell stories of races won with mental resilience. Using techniques such as distraction and visualisation can help to get you to the end of the race without falling apart.

Research has shown that when the workload starts getting tough, using distraction techniques – such as practising easy mental arithmetic – can reduce your rate of perceived exertion (how hard you think you are working). By focusing your mind away from the arduous task at hand you can trick your brain into feeling in a better place.

Visualisation, on the other hand ,allows your current state of mind to be partially distracted with implanted positive scenarios. Imagine yourself tall and strong, striding towards the finish with your own personal theme tune in the background. Repeating a mantra such as “fast, fit, fearless” to yourself will help enhance the effect.

Are there any signs people should look out for that suggest they should stop rather than battle through a tough patch?

It’s important to recognise the signs that may indicate you have reached the end of your physical capacity to run. Visual disturbances, listlessness and poor co-ordination can lead to a serious collapse and can even be signs of a medical emergency.

Always ensure you have filled in the medical history and medications section on the reverse of your race number just in case you’re ever in trouble on race day.

Simplyhealth plans help cover the cost of a range of health treatments, including physiotherapy, optician, dental appointments and more. For more information, visit simplyhealth.co.uk

The Movers List: 50 Inspiring People Who Are Helping Britain Be More Active

 

Jonathan Shannon

Wednesday, September 4, 2019 - 21:47

A fundamental part of the Coach canon is that there’s an activity out there for everyone. Even if you thought PE ruined physical exertion for you for life, there’s something that will transform your life for the better. And perhaps that thing is… yoga on a paddleboard? Or hugby? (That’s rugby with hugs.) These are both things we didn’t know existed until the Movers List was released. It’s a 50-strong roll call – compiled by Lucozade Sport and judged by the likes of boxer Anthony Joshua and England footballer Nikita Parris – of people who are making a difference to people’s lives by getting them moving in new and unexpected ways.

It’s an easy way to find something new and get inspired, so scroll through to see if someone’s doing something that appeals in your area. And even if there’s not, you can visit the Movers List on the Lucozade Sport website to find opportunities to move, including fitness classes and the like, near you.

It’s the first major service we’ve seen that makes use of the OpenActive initiative, which asks sports and fitness booking platforms to share their event data, making it easier for people to find opportunities to get active in their area. As long as a website pulls together that information, of course – so hats off to Lucozade Sport for putting this new service together.

And a standing O to everyone on the list, which we’ve reproduced in full and in alphabetical order below – we’ll sure you’ll agree there’s some real sterling work going on. Give it a peruse, find something that or someone who inspires you, and get moving.

1. Al Hopkins, Edinburgh

Hopkins thought traditional sports environments could be intimidating for the LGBTI+ community so joined and is now the president of the Edinburgh Frontrunners, which is part of a global community encouraging LGBTI+ people to move, make friends and belong.

2. Alex Gibson, Brentwood

After Gibson was diagnosed with motor neurone disease he started Challenging MND, a charity dedicated to providing support to those living with MND to complete memorable activities.

3. Asa Waite, Newport

Waite set up a basketball team, the Newport Aces, to encourage local children to get moving. He now runs seven teams and has hundreds of kids taking part in a sport that inspires confidence.

4. Bella Mackie, London

The author of Jog On, a memoir about how running helped to ease her anxiety which became an instant best-seller in 2018. It has inspired thousands of people to take to the road and run to better their mental health.

5. Benjamin Wimbush, Manchester

Wimbush broke his neck in a trampolining accident eight years ago, leaving him with life-changing injuries. He started the #20isplenty movement to help disabled people, able-bodied people and those with mental health issues to connect with and motivate each other.

6. Born Barikor, London

After working at a leisure centre and realising that he could not afford to join it himself, Barikor created OurParks to change the way people exercise Hundreds of thousands of people now enjoy free group exercise classes run by fitness experts in community spaces.

7. Carl Adams, Ashford

Along with partner Steve Denby, Adams co-founded Primal Roots, a social enterprise that runs forest fitness classes helping people in recovery and those who have experienced homelessness rebuild their lives through movement and kinship.

8. Dr Catherine Walter, Oxford

An Emeritus Fellow in applied linguistics by day and captain of Oxford University’s Linacre College female powerlifting club by night, 72-year-old Walter wants to encourage other women to lift weights and believes it is never too late to find a sport that you love.

9. Charlie Dark, London

Dark founded Run Dem Crew, a community for like-minded people to meet, exchange ideas, and run. The Crew is now 500 members strong and regularly “runs” London and other cities across the world.

10. Charlotte Roach, Chester

After a near-fatal cycling accident put an end to her promising athletic career, Roach launched Rabble, a business that stages classic playground games as high-intensity exercise and has over 900 regular members across several UK cities.

11. Charmaine Daley, Nottingham

When she was made redundant for the third time, Daley attended a Zumba class and decided she wanted to do it for a living. She trained as an instructor and started organising Zumba networking events in her community. Full of positivity, Daley was chosen to inspire others through the national This Girl Can initiative.

12. Dan Charlish, Hove

Charlish started Snow-Camp to teach disadvantaged young people how to ski and snowboard after hearing a group of teenagers say that Xbox snowsports games were the closest they would get to winter sports. It is the UK’s only charity inspiring inner-city young people to excel through snowsports.

13. Dan Edwardes, London

In 2005 Edwardes founded Parkour Generations, which is now the leading authority on parkour education. It’s a multi-national organisation that runs coaching certifications, school programmes, workshops and major events in more than 45 countries around the world.

14. Dave Musgrove, Leeds

Musgrove was involved in several access and conservation projects across all the Limestone crags in Yorkshire, ensuring there are safe places for people to share his passion and start climbing.

15. Dave Player, Newbury

A former serviceman with the Royal Engineers, Player suffered a spinal cord injury and started Kartforce and Team BRIT with the aim of inspiring disabled and struggling veterans to overcome their troubles by being part of a team again.

16. Dee Ripoll, Edinburgh

Ripoll set up Coldwater Surf and has taught across France and her native Scotland. After two traumatic accidents she moved to Edinburgh and re-established the school to teach people of all ages how to master the waves. She continues to surf all over the world.

17. Edwina Brocklesby, London

Brocklesby founded SilverFit in 2013 to promote lifelong fitness. The organisation runs activities in venues across London, offering exercise opportunities to OAPs from Nordic walking to tai chi.

18. Francesca Lewis, Swansea

Lewis started playing tennis aged eight and went on to play at an elite level, but has since dedicated herself to coaching disadvantaged people in Swansea, covering an age range from three to 98.

19. Gundeep Anand, London

Anand is the mind behind The Last Stand, a street football tournament created to unite communities and break down social, cultural and religious barriers through sport. It has inspired similar events to start all over the world.

20. Hannah Hawkey, Plymouth

Hawkey quit her teaching job to set up RockFit, a fitness class set to a heavy metal and rock soundtrack, a concept that has spread with classes in Bristol and Glasgow as well as Plymouth.

21. Helen Mackenzie, Ripon

Mackenzie started Ripon City Netball Club when she was recovering from breast cancer and wanted something to enjoy with her two daughters. She wants to inspire women of all ages to take up a competitive team sport and enjoy the health and social benefits it can bring.

22. Ivo Gormley, London

Fetching a newspaper for an elderly neighbour sparked an idea for Gormley, who decided to combine running with good deeds. The resulting project is called GoodGym, and it’s a community of runners who are helping combat loneliness and isolation by running (literally) errands for those who need it and by doing manual labour for community projects.

23. Jen Blackwell, Preston

Blackwell founded DanceSyndrome, a group for similar people to come together and experience happiness through dance.

24. Jess Melia, Leeds

Melia created Rollin’ With The Girls, a skating group inspiring women to hit the ramps and give skateboarding a go. Using social media to arrange meet-ups, post video clips and grow awareness, Rollin’ With The Girls now has over 1,000 members.

25. John Croot, Chesterfield

As chief executive of Chesterfield FC’s Community Trust, Croot pioneered modern Walking Football to engage the over-50s in the area. It is now played in over 50 countries around the world, and there are over 60,000 players in the UK alone.

26. Josh Landmann, Poulton-Le-Fylde

Landmann was paralysed from the chest down after an accident and has been determined to keep moving ever since. His involvement in a ToughMudder went viral and inspired people around the world. In April 2019, he broke the Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon completed in a non-racing wheelchair.

27. Kate Rew, Somerset

Author Rew’s love of swimming outdoors stems from childhood. In 2006 she discovered swimming in rivers, lakes and seas was dwindling and founded the Outdoor Swimming Society, with a mission to inspire other people to swim outdoors and give them the information to do it safely. Starting with just a handful of swimmers, the society has helped created a nationwide movement and has grown to over 70,000 members.

28. Katee Hui, London

When keen footballer Hui moved from Canada to London she could not find enough opportunities for women to play football. So she started her own and founded the Hackney Laces, which now runs as a social franchise in three London boroughs, and as an off-the-pitch programme designed to inspire and support participants beyond football.

29. Keith Whitton, Doncaster

Whitton goes the extra mile inspiring newcomers to try the sport he has loved for over 50 years, Rink Hockey. He saved his local club, Sheffield Wildcats, from disbanding in 2015 and it has since gone from strength to strength with multiple teams competing on a weekly basis.

30. Khadijah Safari, Milton Keynes

Safari started the first women-only martial arts club, Safari Kickboxing, as a safe space for Muslim and non-Muslim women to come together, train in self-defence and keep fit.

31. Lauren Gregory, Leamington

Gregory founded Run Like A Girl after gaining confidence from a charity ultramarathon that she took part in. What started as a social media post to local mums became a running club with over 30,000 members throughout Warwickshire and beyond, with the organisation having expanded to Australia as well.

32. Leanne Davies, Leatherhead

Davies set up a small Facebook group after struggling to keep to structured running times after having a second baby. It began as three women, and six years later Run Mummy Run has reached over 62,000 members.

33. Leanne Pero, London

In 2001, at the age of just 15, Pero set up The Movement Factory to create lasting community impact through her love of dance, which has inspired over 500,000 young people to move.

34. Linda Hesselden, Plymouth

Hesselden is a licensee of Silver Swans, a Royal Academy of Dance initiative that enables students aged 55 and over to learn ballet. She has been active in the community for over 20 years and taught everyone from pre-school children to men and women in their 80s.

35. Louisa Chatwin, Selston

Over the last decade, Chatwin has taught hundreds of adults and children how to improve their skills on the ice. In the 2017 World Winter Games, she was selected as Team GB head coach for the Special Olympics following her work with para-skate star Meg McFarlane.

36. Mac Ferrari, London

The founder of Bikestormz and the unofficial godfather to the UK #BikeLifeMovement, former gang member Ferrari has encouraged thousands to take part in mass rides and promotes the message of “Bikes Up, Knives Down”.

37. Melanie Timberlake, Aylesbury

Timberlake overcame post-natal depression and brain surgery to inspire others through a shared love of sport. She is the manager of three disability football teams and runs martial arts classes for the disabled, earning the prestigious Disability Coach of the Year award.

38. Michaella Robb, Angus

Robb was one of the first paddleboard yoga instructors in the UK. After discovering the sport while travelling, she brought the concept home to Scotland to inspire others and motivate them to enjoy the sport in the great outdoors.

39. Oliur Rahman, London

Rahman started the Active Communities Network to engage young people living in areas of high deprivation to develop an interest and build careers in sport and exercise. The programme supports members in a range of weekly sessions from boxing to basketball.

40. Paul Sinton-Hewitt, London

In 2004 Sinton-Hewitt started parkrun, the free 5K run, with 13 people in Bushy Park, west London. It now has five million registered runners worldwide with over 280,000 people regularly running each week in 1,500 global events.

41. Phil and Shaun Webb, Glasgow

The brothers founded Glasgow Ultimate Frisbee Club and are credited with helping establish and expand the sport throughout Scotland in universities, parks and communities.

42. Philip Collins, London

Collins is chair of Out To Swim, an aquatics club for LGBTI+ adults in London, Brighton and Bristol. Founded 25 years ago by a small band of swimmers, it is now the biggest LGBTI+ swimming club in Europe.

43. Sarah Javaid, London

Javaid set up Cycle Sisters to help Muslim women connect and exercise through cycling. It started with a friend and her two sisters-in-law and has since grown to over 50 members.

44. Shannia Richardson-Gordon, London

Richardson-Gordon became a coach with Boxing Futures and the Limehouse Boxing Academy aged just 19. Passionate about how the sport can help others, she travels all over London to teach mental health patients, people with disabilities and young offenders.

45. Simon Northcott, Worcester

Worcester Warriors rugby coach Northcott developed a passion for creating more inclusive forms of sport and invented “Hugby”, in which scrums, line-outs and tackling are done by hugging the opponent.

46. Skye Stewart, Wolverhampton

Stewart is the founder of Black Country Fusion FC, the first LGBTI+ inclusive team to enter a non-gay league in the West Midlands. The open-minded club has gone on to establish a female team and a veteran’s team for men over 35.

47. Sophia Warner, Ockley

Born with cerebral palsy, WArner became a Paralympic track and field athlete. She founded the Superhero Series in 2016 to allow disabled people to take part in sport alongside their friends and families.

48. Tanayah Sam, Birmingham

Sam is an ex-convict working with young people in schools and prisons who are at risk of joining gang culture. His 12-week programme uses cricket to encourage social cohesion and steer young people away from crime and anti-social behaviour.

49. Wendy Rumble, Maidenhead

Rumble leads a buggy running movement with an educational website, online community and a running club, Buggy Squad, to inspire parents and families to find freedom in exercise.

50. Wendy Russell, Brighton & Hove

Russell set up the first deaf hockey session in the country at Brighton & Hove Hockey Club, and developed 40 new sign language signs for hearing-impaired players of all ages.

Form And Polar Collaborate To Display Heart Rate In These Smart Swimming Goggles

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Tuesday, September 3, 2019 - 22:02

Although swimmers are well served by a variety of excellent fitness trackers and watches that record their workouts in great detail, they generally can’t get the same benefits from the devices as runners.

The obvious reason is that swimming involves the arms a lot more than running, so while you can check your stats on the go during a run and adjust your pace or start the next section of your session accordingly, it’s tricky to get live feedback mid-swim without stopping.

Form’s smart goggles, which launched last month, address that problem by putting a heads-up display in the goggles themselves, so you can see your stats any time you like. The goggles display two stats at a time, one of which is total time and the second you choose from a long list of options including split time, distance, stroke rate, distance per stroke, pace per 50m or 100m.

To that list you can soon add heart rate. Form has announced a partnership with Polar, manufacturer of fitness trackers, running watches and heart rate monitors, and a software update to Form in November will mean you can take the sensor from Polar’s OH1 arm strap and attach it to the goggle’s strap to take a reading from your temple. For those who take their swimming seriously, or who are following a training plan to improve in the pool, the addition of heart rate can help to make sure you’re putting in the right amount of effort.

The goggles are only designed for pool swimming and lack the GPS needed to record open-water activities accurately. You also have to set the length of the pool you’re swimming in before starting, as with wrist-worn trackers.

With 16 hours of battery life, the goggles will last a couple of weeks on a single charge even if you’re swimming for an hour every day. You’ll probably need to have that level of commitment to swimming to stump up the $199 price plus shipping costs, because unlike multisport watches, these goggles won’t track anything else. The goggles also don’t come bundled with Polar’s heart rate monitor, so you’ll have to buy that separately. If you do, opt for the OH1+ which includes the clip needed to attach them to the goggle’s strap.

As well as being smarter than your average pair, the Form goggles also come with a range of nose bridges so you can find the one that offers the perfect fit for you, plus there’s a 45-day guarantee that allows you to send them back if you’re not satisfied (although free return shipping is only available in the US and Canada). They’re not available from UK retailers at the moment, but Form does ship to the UK if you buy the goggles on its website.

Buy from Form | $199 (approx £165), plus shipping

Nike Zoom Fly 3 Running Shoe Review

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Tuesday, September 3, 2019 - 21:50

It’s impossible to talk about the shoe the Nike Zoom Fly 3 is without talking about the shoes it isn’t, namely the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% and NEXT%. Those are Nike’s top-end long-distance racing shoes that have helped elites and amateurs alike set PBs in recent years.

The Vaporfly is an astonishing shoe, in terms of both performance and price. The NEXT% is £239.95 and the 4% is £209.95, and both shoes prioritise performance over durability, so they’re best saved for your most important race days.

That leaves an opening for another shoe, one that gives a flavour of the performance of the Vaporfly while being much cheaper and longer-lasting, and that’s the Zoom Fly 3 to a T. Like the Vaporfly it has a carbon plate in its midsole and is designed for fast running; however, it costs a relatively paltry £139.95, while the React foam in its midsole is much more durable than the ZoomX foam used in the Vaporfly.

I’ve used all three editions of the Zoom Fly and while this is the best yet, it’s also the one I’m most reluctant to recommend buying. That’s because two other current shoes better fulfil the Zoom Fly’s purpose: the Hoka Carbon X also has a carbon plate in its midsole, while the New Balance FuelCell Rebel is a terrific, lightweight shoe that can be used for training and racing, and is the cheapest of the three.

That’s not to say the Zoom Fly 3 isn’t a great running shoe. I used it for a variety of fast running sessions, including track and tempo, as well as a 22km run at a decent clip. The further I ran in it, the more I appreciated its qualities: the carbon plate and bouncy React foam help maintain a quick pace with what feels like less effort, with a smooth transition from heel to toe and a propulsive toe-off powered by the plate in the midsole.

On shorter runs and during track intervals, on the other hand, I was less taken with the Zoom Fly 3. It’s just a little too much shoe to feel nimble at speed, with the chunky stack of React foam feeling cumbersome and a little heavy. This is one area where I feel the Hoka Carbon X has the edge on the Zoom Fly 3. It also has a large stack of cushioning and the shoes both weigh around 250g (men’s), but the Carbon X feels snappier and lighter on the foot for short and speedy runs.

The same is true of the New Balance Rebel, which doesn’t have a carbon plate but with the FuelCell foam in its midsole it has a faster feel than the Zoom Fly 3, and it’s also much lighter at just over 200g. Another point in the Rebel’s favour is that it’s cheaper at £120, while the Hoka Carbon X is £159.99.

I did like the new upper on the Zoom Fly 3, which is the most substantial update to the shoe. The previous version used a Flyknit upper which tends to absorb water and stretch a little over time, losing the close fit you want when running fast. The upper on the Zoom Fly 3 doesn’t seem as paper-thin as the one on the NEXT%, even though both are made with the same Vaporweave material, but it does offer a true-to-size fit and doesn’t retain water.

If you have the Vaporfly 4% or NEXT% for racing and simply want the closest possible shoe to use for fast training, the Zoom Fly 3 fits the bill. If you’re looking at it purely on its own merits as a cheaper alternative to the Vaporfly, there are better options. Hoka’s Carbon X has the carbon plate that everyone wants these days and feels lighter on the foot than the Zoom Fly, while the New Balance Rebel is just a great all-round shoe that’s fun to run fast in at any distance.

Buy men’s from Nike | Buy women’s from Nike | £139.95

Use This Pilates Workout At Home To Strengthen Your Core

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Tuesday, September 3, 2019 - 21:36

The benefits of Pilates extend far beyond just providing a tough core workout. Pilates improves your posture, flexibility and resilience to injury. However, it really does provide a tough core workout, so if that’s all you want from your Pilates session, rest assured these six exercises from Kate Burdett (head trainer at Pilates studio Raw Pilates) will get the job done.

1 The hundred

“This exercise is a great warm-up and really gets the blood pumping around the body,” says Burdett. “The hundred is not just an abdominal exercise, but also a breathing exercise.

“Lie on your back with your arms by your sides, then bend both knees so you are in table-top position, and slowly lift your head, neck and shoulders off the mat, reaching forwards with your arms.

“Extend your legs, keeping your heels together at either 90° for a beginner version of the exercise, 45° for intermediate, or about 5cm off the floor for advanced.

“Pump your arms up and down vigorously, making short inhalations for five pumps through your nose and short exhalitions for five pumps through your mouth. Your breath should get deeper as you go. Repeat ten times so you reach 100 breaths. Bring your knees back to your chest when complete.”

2 Roll up

"The aim of this exercise is to strengthen your core while stretching your spine,” says Burdett.

“Moving straight on from the hundred exercise, stretch your legs on the mat, feet flexed and heels tightly together. Lift your head and look at your toes, float your arms above your thighs and start rolling your spine up, stretching your fingers past your toes if possible. Then use your abdominals to roll you back down again.

“Exhale as your spine leaves the mat, breathe in at the top of the move, then exhale again as your spine rolls into the mat. This is key to make sure you are in control of the movement from the core. Repeat this exercise six times and finish in a seated position.”

3 Double leg kick

“The double leg kick stretches your chest, abdominals and hip flexors,” says Burdett. “It can help to improve the flexibility of your back, and this can both help prevent injury and maintain good posture.”

Start lying face down with your arms by your sides.

“Kick your heels up towards the ceiling, repeating this three times,” says Burdett. “On the third kick simultaneously extend your legs and stretch your arms, lifting your chest and looking forwards.”

4 Leg circle

“This exercise is fantastic for working your core muscles,” says Burdett. “It helps strengthen your core and stretches your hips. Tight hips can lead to pain and tension in the back, so the leg circle is perfect for relieving any unwanted tightness.

“Lie on your back with your arms by your sides. Extend your right leg towards the ceiling. Slowly circle your leg outwards ten times, allowing your pelvis to move freely. Lower your right leg to the floor, then repeat the move with your left leg. On your next set, circle your legs inwards. Keep your pelvis still for a challenge. Repeat six to eight times.”

5 Plank leg lift

“This exercise improves stability in your core, spine and hips, and strengthens your lower back while improving hip mobility,” says Burdett.

“Start in a plank position with your hands placed directly under your shoulders. Raise one leg off the floor as high as you can but not past shoulder height. Alternating lifting legs. Keep your core, glutes and quads engaged to avoid rocking your hips. Repeat six to eight times.”

6 Scissor kick

“Lie on your back and slowly lift your top half off the ground,” says Burdett. “Extend your right leg so that it is at a right angle to the floor. Bring your hands behind your right leg, pulling it in towards your face, and curl your head up. Lift your left leg a few centimetres off the floor. Switch legs, pulling your left leg in towards you and letting your right leg hover above the floor. Continue switching legs and repeat this ten times.”

Fitbit Premium Aims To Coach You To A Healthier Lifestyle

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Tuesday, September 3, 2019 - 21:23

While Fitbit is responsible for some of the most popular fitness trackers in the world, its success based is as much on the software as on the hardware, building an app that takes the data from the sensors and turns it something useful – whether that’s setting up friendly step competitions to motivate you to be more active, or more insightful sleep tracking. Last week, Fitbit announced a new paid-for service – Fitbit Premium – that promises to deliver more personalised advice to enable you to make an even more significant difference to your health and fitness.

At launch, it will contain thousands of video and audio workouts, a series of coached programmes that target all aspects of health and fitness, and in-depth sleep analysis. In the future Fitbit plans to add challenges and games that allow you to collaborate with a friend or compete against them – whatever motivates you most to get moving.

The coached programmes look particularly interesting to us, because they go beyond standard options like running or gym training plans (readily available for free on the web) to focus on specific things you can do to become healthier, like reduce your sugar or salt intake or create habits that will lead to better sleep. That said, there is also a beginner running programme, so you’re covered on that front too; the advantage of this is that it’ll integrate with Fitbit’s smart devices – the Versa range and Ionic.

Fitbit has also partnered with other companies to offer sessions from them within Fitbit Premium. These include mindfulness sessions with Headspace, workouts from Daily Burn and yoga from Yoga Studio by Gaiam.

The in-depth sleep analysis in Fitbit Premium is accompanied by guided programmes that should help you to sleep better. At the launch of the Fitbit Versa 2 the company announced several new sleep features, including Sleep Score, which is a rating of your night’s rest based on duration, time spent in deep and REM sleep, and how restorative your sleep was. There’s also Smart Wake, a new alarm function that wakes you when you’re not in deep sleep so you feel refreshed rather than groggy.

These will be available to any Fitbit user with a compatible device, but Fitbit Premium subscribers will get more analysis of their Sleep Score, plus audio relaxation tools to help you fall asleep and correlated insights into your sleep. So, for example, Fitbit might flag up that when you take an above-average number of steps in a day, your sleep improves in a certain way.

The service will exist within the Fitbit app and costs £7.99 a month or £79.99 a year, though all Fitbit users will get a seven-day free trial. And if you buy the special edition of the new Versa 2 you also get a 90-day trial of Fitbit Premium.

Sign up to be notified when Fitbit Premium is released

“One Of The Most Beautiful Trail Runs In All Of Britain”

 

Coach Staff

Thursday, September 5, 2019 - 21:57

Main image: Rhossili Bay Beach, Wales. Credit: ©Johnny Greig/Getty Images

This is an exclusive extract from Lonely Planet’s Epic Runs Of The World, 50 first-hand accounts of the races and routes that should be on every runner’s bucket list. Here, writer Sarah Stirling guides us through a 13-mile (21km) loop along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path – and recommends where to get ice cream afterwards.

A Portal To The Past In Pembrokeshire

Wales’ westernmost point sits in one of Britain’s most beautiful national parks. This world-class trail run is a race through time as it passes stunning ancient monuments.

The southwest tip of Wales is a geologist’s playground where rock scars and layered cliffs leave striking clues about our past. Some of this rock dates right back to the Precambrian era, before multi-cellular life first emerged. With its remnants of ancient civilisations littering the coastline, this edge of Wales is also heaven for history lovers, as Britain’s earliest architects had a penchant for north Pembrokeshire rock (Stonehenge was built from bluestones found in nearby hills). And yet to my mind this stretch of cliffs and beaches holds something even more exciting than all of that: one of the most beautiful trail runs in all of Britain.

Over the years I’ve compiled a fat file of runs in Wales, and this 13-miler (21km) skirting the country’s westernmost peninsula remains my favourite. It begins off-road along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and completes the loop on country lanes. Indeed, the in-your-face history and geological beauty are inspiring, but the natural flow, isolation and ruggedness make it feel as though it was built for early morning half-marathons.

Immediately upon setting off, I feel the freedom and exhilaration of the path. It’s rocky in places but rarely awkward enough to demand my gaze. The rock all around me, however, is hard to ignore. Colourful cliffs rise around me, some of the faces a deep purple, others a shade of rose. Red-and-white striped pebbles on the beach resemble boiled sweets. The cliffs jutting into the sea seem primeval and alive. The path ahead rolls into the distance, bursting with wildflowers in pink, blue and gold.

Today – and every time I run here – there seems to be a deeply spiritual vibe. But it’s only if you really tune into the environment that you begin to trip over the ghosts of Welsh mythology. The area has been so lightly touched by modern man that you’ll pass by forgotten Stone Age monuments, crumbling Bronze Age roundhouses, the ramparts of an Iron Age fort, Dark Age chapel ruins and even a hidden medieval cathedral. But it’s not as simple as scanning the landscape as you jog. You have to run mindfully, and even explore off the path a little to spot the ruins among the rocks and earth that have begun to hide them.

Most importantly, there is hardly anyone else here. In fact, it feels as though hardly anyone has ever been here. Thankfully, the ribbons of frustrating country lanes, slow tractors and sheep between Pembrokeshire and the rest of the world defend this corner from all but the determined few. Even if the crowds do discover it someday, I take solace in the fact that it will always enjoy some level of protection, thanks to its status as a national park. It was in fact one of Britain’s very first national parks – designated way back in 1952 – and remains the only coastal one.

I power along the clifftop to a promontory at the end of Caerfai Bay, then pause to look back. Opposite is another piece of land jutting out, connected by a narrow natural bridge. I can just make out the banks and ditches of the Iron Age fort here, which is slowly being dismantled by the sea. Legend has it King Arthur roamed these parts during this era, fighting raiding tribes from overseas. What emerged is the idea of Wales itself. The Anglo-Saxons who began to dominate England called the Celts ‘Wealhs’ – foreigners.

Just a half-mile in and my feet start to fly as I settle into the flow of the path. I leap over a few tendrils of scratchy gorse bushes to reach the stone ruins of St Non’s Chapel. 
Thought to be one of Wales’ oldest Christian buildings, it is said to mark the birthplace of David, patron saint of Wales. In 1081, William the Conqueror himself made a pilgrimage to the monastery. Not long after, work on St Davids Cathedral began, on the site of the monastery. Two pilgrimages to this cathedral were then declared equal to one made to Rome.

I trot carefully downhill towards a deep inlet with a tiny picturesque 12th-century stone harbour known as Porthclais. Originally used for importing coal and timber, these days it’s a great place to launch a kayak. In fact, it’s here that I feel as though I leave the ancient world behind and step into this park’s future, as adventurous daytrippers are launching colourful boats into the bay and I can hear the jangle of rock climbers placing gear into the cliffs. As I carry on, the chatter of swimmers rises up from Porthlysgi Bay; soon I will see surfers riding the waves in Whitesands Bay.

A puffin peeks out of its burrow at The Wick on Skomer. Credit: LP Staff Collection

Reaching Pen Dal-aderyn, the westernmost tip of mainland Wales, I sit down to bite into a sandwich. This is a good place to spot seals and dolphins. I can see a boat in the water, taking tourists out for a closer look at the sealife and to spot puffins waddling on the nearby islands. Thinking about what a peaceful natural playground this place is today, I can’t help but wonder what the ghosts of the Pembrokeshire coast make of all the brightly coloured Gore-Tex and Lycra.

The next stretch is a clifftop blast that rewards you with views of Whitesand Bay’s vast beach. Beyond the beach, the rocky top of Carn Llidi pokes up through the hill’s green flanks. On its hillside stands the oldest monuments on this run: a lichen-covered 20ft slab, hefted into place in the late Stone Age, around 3000 BC, to mark a tomb. Nearby are several low, circular stone walls – once Bronze Age roundhouses – along with ancient animal enclosures. I like to veer off-trail to explore these, somehow drawn to enter the gaps that were doors and gateways, even though the tumbled walls are low enough to step over.

Heading south on country lanes, there’s no avoiding civilisation as I enter the village of St Davids, which, because of the aforementioned cathedral, claims to be Britain’s smallest ‘city’. It may be small but this village is well aware of its natural assets. From regular beach clean-ups to carbon neutrality, St Davids is known for its progressive thinking when it comes to saving the environment. This forward-thinking community is hell-bent on preserving this coastline, allowing the Stone Age men, warriors, saints, kings and medieval pilgrims haunting the clifftops to continue their business unbothered.

Sarah Stirling

Nature’s Call

Between April and September, the islands around the Pembrokeshire coastline become loud, noisy cities of sex-mad birds in the height of mating season. The best island to visit during the wildlife love-fest is Skomer, home to the largest Atlantic puffin colony in southern Britain. There are 21,000 of them, all remarkably unbothered by tourists so watch your step. There are also 23,000 guillemots and 7,000 razorbills!

Orientation

Start/End St Davids

Distance 13 miles (21km)

Getting there St Davids is 16 miles (26km) from the nearest train station, which is in Haverfordwest.

When to go Spring and summer are the seasons for spectacular wildflower shows. Autumn and winter promise big surf and the ultimate peace and quiet.

Where to stay You’ll get a warm Celtic welcome at the well-kept Ty Boia B&B (www.ty-boia.co.uk). Or there’s camping at Caerfai Farm (www.caerfaifarm.co.uk).

More info www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales

Things to know Be sure to top off your run with a Celtic Crunch ice cream at Gianni’s.

More Like This: Wild Welsh Headlands

The Llyn Peninsula

The coastal village of Aberdaron in North Wales. Credit: ©David Toase/Getty Images

Llŷn Peninsula extends into the sea west of Snowdonia. It is a particularly rural, quaint and quiet spot at the very fingertip of the peninsula, where a huge carpet of white sand is laid out in front of the village of Aberdaron. Head west, following the coastal path round to Pen y Cil, the southwestern point of the headland, looking out for dolphins and seals. Continue north to Braich y Pwll, the westernmost point on the North Walian mainland, admiring Bardsey Island with its 19th-century lighthouse (the tallest square-towered one in the UK), and imagining medieval pilgrims rowing across to visit the 1500-year-old monastery. Archaeological finds prove that the island has been inhabited for at least 4000 years. Now either retrace your steps or follow the minor road back.

Start/End Aberdaron

Distance 6 miles (9.6km)

More info www.llyn.info

Holy Island

Just beyond the west coast of Anglesey lies a much smaller island, connected by a bridge. The quartzite rocks of its highest summit, Holyhead Mountain (722ft; 220m), can be seen from miles around; in summer the lower slopes are cushioned with purple heather. Around these lower slopes, and elsewhere on the island, there are a number of standing stones and burial chambers, hence the name Holy Island. From South Stack car park, follow the coast path up past the photogenic lighthouse, which clings to an offshore islet. In spring, guillemots and puffins breed and chatter noisily on these cliffs, and you can see choughs all year round. Follow the path round to North Stack before scrambling up to the summit of Holyhead Mountain for more views. Descend west to return to the car park.

Start/End South Stack

Distance 4.5 miles (7.2km)

More info www.visitanglesey.co.uk

The Gower Peninsula

This tongue of land jutting into the sea just west of Swansea was designated an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ back in 1956, and it hasn’t changed much since. Right at the tip lies a 3-mile (4.8km) strip of pure butterscotch beach with the spine of Rhossili Down behind it. Run along the beach, then follow the path up and along the top of the low cliffs that mark the northern end of the Gower Peninsula. Continue round Foxhole Point, before picking up footpaths and slogging up and along the dunes behind the beach to reach The Beacon (633ft; 193m). There are spectacular views down to the village of Rhossili and Worms Head beyond. The latter is a narrow tail of land that dips into the sea and then rises again to a little headland. Scramble down steeply to return to the car park.

Start/End Rhossili

Distance 9.5 miles (15km)

More info www.explore-gower.co.uk

Reproduced with permission from Lonely Planet © 2019

The Garmin Fenix 6 Range Offers Overwhelming Choice And A Cool Solar Powered Feature

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Monday, September 2, 2019 - 11:35

Garmin has launched its Fenix 6 range and frankly it’s confusing as hell, with seven – seven! – new models, some of which actually have fewer features than the preceding Fenix 5 Plus range. We’ll try to untangle some of that confusion below, but we’ll start with the more interesting bits.

First of all, for the uninitiated, the Fenix series is Garmin’s seriously expensive GPS watch for serious outdoor adventures. It’s the sort of watch you’d take up a mountain with you to find out how well you’re acclimatising to the lack of oxygen in the air.

The standout, top-of-the-line device is the Fenix 6X Pro Solar (pictured, above) which can extend its battery life using solar power. It already offers 60 hours of GPS, but if you’re out and about in sunny conditions you can get six extra hours of battery thanks to mini solar panels around the face of the watch. It’s pretty impressive and hopefully the start of a trend that finishes with us never having to plug in a watch again. Though in the cloudy UK, that might be a pipe dream.

All the Fenix 6 watches get Garmin’s new PacePro feature (pictured on the Garmin Fenix 6, below). This is designed to help you pace your runs to take into account the hills on your course, your overall target pace, and whether you want to do the second half of your run faster (known as a negative split). The feature sets individual split targets for each mile or kilometre of your run based on that information. For example, if you want to run a half marathon at an average of five minutes per kilometre, you might be told to run the first kilometre in 4min 50sec knowing that the second one will be 5min 10sec because there’s a hill in it.


This feature essentially creates a smart pacing band that will be particularly useful for races on undulating terrain. It will also be great for guiding people who tend to go out too fast, helping them achieve a negative split – the best way to nail a PB.

The entire range also gets Garmin’s new Power Manager feature, which allows you to set up what features you want the watch to use in order to preserve battery life. You also get an estimate of the battery life left based on hours, rather than just a percentage, and there’s an extreme power saving mode that just gives you the time (without seconds, because those sap power).

These power-saving features are similar to those available on the Suunto 9 and will be of particular interest to ultramarathon runners. Most of us, however, will simply be satisfied by the increased battery life available on the watches in normal mode, which starts at 25 hours of GPS for the basic Fenix 6S or 36 hours of GPS for the 6.


With us so far? Good, because we’re about to get into the nitty gritty of the various watches. The Fenix 5 Plus range added maps and music to all three Fenix 5 watches. The Fenix 6 range, however, has taken away maps and music from two watches – the 6S and 6 – but kept them on the 6S Pro, 6 Pro and 6X Pro.

The new basic Fenix 6 and 6S are cheaper than the 5 Plus Series because of that lack of maps and music – but they do get some new features, including the training analysis updates that were added to the Forerunner 945 (the best running watch) and Marq Athlete (from Garmin’s high-end luxury Marq range), but not included on the 5 Plus range.

There are bigger screens across the Fenix 6 range, aside from the 6S and 6S Pro, which have the 1.2in (30mm) screens present on the 5 Plus range. The Fenix 6 and 6 Pro have a 1.3in (33mm) screen, and the 6X watches in the range have a 1.4in (36mm) screen.

Taking into account screen, bezel materials and colours, there are 19 variations to pick between in total, with the price ranging from £529.99 for the basic Fenix 6 and 6S to £999.99 for the Fenix 6X Pro Solar with a titanium band. There is also a cheaper Fenix 6X Pro Solar with a less fancy band for £849.99, while the Fenix 6 Pro is £599.99.

The entire Fenix 6 range is available now on the Garmin website. Good luck choosing.

Buy from Garmin | From £529.99

The Best Weight-Loss Apps

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Friday, August 30, 2019 - 16:41

There is no app, tip or trick out there that can make losing weight easy. If there was, you’d definitely know about it by now. Losing weight means changing your habits and lifestyle – no easy task, and one which can be a frustrating experience at times.

However, there are certainly things that help make reaching a healthy weight quicker than otherwise, and finding the right app is one of them. The best weight-loss apps out there offer support from experts and a friendly community alongside advice on how to improve your diet and become more active. Although there are good free weight-loss apps, you do generally have to pay for them, especially when they include regular advice from experts like dietitians and/or personal trainers. However, the cost is usually under £10 a month, and the benefits you get are well worth the outlay.

At the free and cheap end of things are apps that are built around calorie counting. Getting a handle on how many calories you’re consuming vs how many you’re burning will help you work towards creating a calorie deficit, which in turn will help you lose weight. However, calorie counting is rarely exact and logging everything you eat and drink before you’ve even swallowed can make trying to lose weight even more of a chore, so it’s usually best to use the apps as a rough guide rather than obsessing over the precise numbers.

OurPath

Alongside working on improving your diet and activity levels, OurPath puts a lot of focus on mindset, teaching you how to eat mindfully and overcome the setbacks almost everyone encounters when they try to lose weight. You get a personalised three-month plan that includes weekly goals set by your online health coach, who will be a registered dietitian or qualified nutritionist, and you also get access to a supportive community you can chat with in the app.

OurPath is on the more expensive end of weight-loss apps, starting from £30 a month for the three-month plan, but the advice – especially with regard to healthy eating – is designed to be sustainable, avoiding things like calorie counting which many people find hard to maintain, so after that three-month period you should be set up to keep the weight off. ourpath.co.uk

Download on App Store and Google Play | From £30 a month

MyFitnessPal

The most popular free weight-loss app out there (although there is a paid premium version too) helps you to keep a food diary, setting an overall calorie target plus a breakdown of the protein, carbohydrate and fat you want to eat each day. You can log what you eat manually, or by using a barcode scanner or searching for the exact food you’ve eaten, which provides a more detailed macronutrient breakdown.

You can export this information to a lot of other fitness apps, like Fitbit for example, which makes it easier to see how what you’re eating fits with your exercise programme. If you go premium you get more detailed insight into what you’ve eaten and you can log goals around individual meals and the exercise you’ve done. myfitnesspal.com

Download on App Store and Google Play | Free, premium £7.99 a month

Lifesum

There are a range of diet options available on Lifesum and the app will help you determine the one that suits you best through a quiz when you first sign up. You can be assigned a low-carb diet or a high-protein one, for example, and the app will provide a detailed meal plan to help you hit your goals. The app includes plans for some diets that the British Dietetic Association has labelled “fads”, like the ketogenic, intermittent fasting and clean eating diets. We recommend sticking to the plain healthy balanced plan.

Lifesum also offers a standard calorie counter with barcode scanning if you want to keep things simple, and it syncs with other health apps. There is a free version of Lifesum that you can use to keep a food diary, but you’ll need a premium account to access the meal plans. lifesum.com

Download on App Store and Google Play | Free, premium £7.99 a month

Lose It!

While there are certainly benefits to a more holistic approach to losing weight that takes into account the mental side of it, the simplest way to look at it is if you consume fewer calories than you burn, you’re on the right track. Lose It! is all about this simple approach. It gives you a personal daily calorie target and you can then log your food and activities in the app to see if you’re sticking to it.

There are meal plans, recipes and workouts on the app to help you out, and you can log what you eat by taking a photo of it, which makes the process even easier than using a barcode scanner – although this doesn’t always work, so you have the option to log everything manually too. The free version of the app is impressively full of features and covers everything you really need, though naturally you can get more helpful insight and content by upgrading to premium. loseit.com

Download on App Store and Google Play | Free, premium £34.99 a year

Libratone Track Air+ Wireless Bluetooth Headphones Review: Almost Perfect

 

Nick Harris-Fry

Friday, August 30, 2019 - 15:50

If you’re not intending to use them during exercise, the Libratone Track Air+ headphones are flawless. The truly wireless buds are extremely lightweight, offer great sound quality and active noise cancellation (ANC), and have a solid six-hour battery life and a pocket-sized carry case. They’re also gorgeous – a literal joy to touch and look at, which is really not something I’ve experienced before with headphones, including the Apple Airpods.

However, if you try to use them for running or any kind of vigorous exercise, the sole limitation becomes clear – the buds don’t stay in your ears. Or they didn’t stay in mine, at any rate. I tried the Track Air+ buds for several runs using different-sized eartips to achieve a more secure fit, and every time I had to give up and take them out because they were falling out and I feared breaking or losing them.

I’m reasonably confident this isn’t just because I have odd ears, because it’s not a problem I’ve had with any other truly wireless buds. When I wore the Track Air+ buds when not running they stayed put and were, again, a joy.


I wasn’t expecting a huge amount from the noise cancellation but it really does make a difference, especially when on London’s exceptionally loud Tube or walking alongside a busy road. You can set the exact level, up to 30 decibels, of ANC you want in the partner app, and you can also set the headphones to let in more ambient noise if you want greater awareness of your surroundings.

You can even switch between noise cancellation and this ambient mode by tapping the headphones – it’s one of the options you can choose for a double tap, with the others being skip track or play/pause.

The sound quality of the headphones is among the best I’ve heard from truly wireless buds, aided by the ANC. You can select from three EQ profiles in the partner app – neutral, extra bass and enhanced treble – and the sound is crisp and clear across the range.

Connecting the headphones to my phone and laptop was easy, though it is a slightly different process from most headphones (you connect one Track Air+ bud first and then get a prompt for the other), and I didn’t have any dropouts while wearing them.


The battery life of six hours is good for truly wireless buds, with only the Beats Powerbeats Pro headphones offering significantly more juice at nine hours. The Track Air+ buds make up for that by having a much smaller, lighter case than the Powerbeats Pro. The case will charge the buds three times, so you get 24 hours of battery in total, and you can easily slip it into a pocket.

There’s an awful lot to like about the Track Air+ headphones and if the fit was more secure during exercise I’d have no hesitation in recommending them as the best truly wireless headphones I’ve tried. But it doesn’t matter how great they sound or that they have ANC if they can’t stay in your ears. As sports headphones they have a fatal flaw. As everyday headphones, however, they’re wonderful.

Buy on Amazon | £169.70 (RRP £179)


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