Foods to make you run faster

foods to run faster

foods to run fasterSounds a bit too good to be true doesn’t. Foods which will actually make you run faster. When you think about it though, there are of heaps foods which will help you to do just that.

I want to concentrate on just a couple of foods here, olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

Both these foods have been shown to aid in weight loss, and if you have less excess fat to carry around the track, you’ll run faster. I’m not suggesting that if you pop into the kitchen and swig on the salad dressing like there’s no tomorrow, you’ll wake up a couple of kilos lighter in the morning, but research has shown both these foods may aid weight loss.

So, how can olive oil help you run faster?

Research published in the American Journal of Nutrition has suggested that simply smelling olive oil may help you lose weight. Eleven men were given low fat yoghurt to eat over two days, and half of them had a fat free olive oil extract mixed into the yoghurt.

Their brain activity was measured after the snack, and the group who ate the olive oil extract enriched yoghurt, had increased activity in areas of the brain associated with fat consumption. Remember the olive oil extract was fat-free, so both groups had the same low fat snack as far as calories go. Researches believe it is the scent of the olive oil which might help you to feel full. It might be possible to simulate fat-triggered sensations in the brain by the scent of ingredients the body implicitly associates with fat.

Other research carried out over a period of three months supports this theory. Subjects ate no-fat yoghurt, with either butterfat, rapseed oil or olive oil added to it. The olive oil consumers reported feeling fuller on a day to day basis, and also had higher levels of serotonin than the other groups. Serotonin is a hormone associated with feelings of satiety. The aromatic compounds in olive oil slow the absorption of glucose into the blood stream, making as feel fuller for longer.

To enjoy the benefits of olive oil, you should consume in moderation at room temperature, accompanying other food. Whilst olive oil is relatively stable, overheating it can change the molecular structure and the aromatic volatiles can evaporate during heating.

Apple cider vinegar

The Journal of Functional Foods recently published a study showing that subjects who consumed a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with water before eating had lower blood glucose levels than the control group. The acetic acid may hamper the body’s ability to digest starch, the researchers say. Less starch is being broken down into calories in the blood stream, which over time might show an effect on body weight. There are other studies to back up the theory, including Japanese research published in 2009, which showed acetic acid to be associated with lower BMI, waist circumference and blood triglycerides.

You don’t need to use apple cider vinegar for the effect. Any vinegar with 5% acidity will do, but don’t drink it straight. Mix a tablespoon with a big glass of water, or drizzle the same amount on a salad.

Neither of these methods will see you losing 5kgs to get you running faster in that race you have next weekend. You should be looking more at the long term over 3 or 4 months. AND most importantly, the results won’t be so dramatic that you can go crazy and eat your head off in the meantime. Increasing your use of olive oil and vinegar will not counteract your over eating, but may be the difference between losing that extra half to one kilo or not.

To some, it may not seem worth it, but I know I’d like to be a kilo lighter come the next time I run a race I’ve been training for.


Image courtesy of Idea go/

Why Do You Run?

uplifted 3d figure stuart miles resizedA while ago now I wrote a post entitle “The Value of Fun Runs”. It gave a summary of some of the fun runs around Sydney, their entry fee, and cost per km and a short summary of the good bits and not so good bits of each run.

Impossible to quantify in dollar terms, of course, is the overall sense of well being running in an event such as yesterday’s “Sydney Running Festival” (or the Bridge Run as the festival is more commonly referred to).

What price do you put on being able to run across Sydney’s iconic harbour bridge on a fabulous sunny morning-not too hot(unless you’re finishing the marathon at midday), sun sparkling on the water, surrounded by friends, or at least like minded people. It’s mornings like this that serve to remind you of why you run. Simply put, it makes you feel good.


From our youngest runner, to our oldest, from our novices to our experienced runners, all felt uplifted after the race. I’m not trying to turn a simple run across the Harbour Bridge into some kind of religious experience, but running in a run such as this certainly is something to remember.


Some of the comments I heard from our runners after the race will give you a sense of what I’m talking about.


  •  “I wasn’t going to stop running because I really wanted to know I could do it” from 6 year old Saxon
  • “That’s the furthest I’ve run. Ever!” 11 year old Luca
  • Dav and I heard there was 100m to go and we just bolted. You should have seen how fast our legs were goingD” 9 year old Wilson
  • “I’m wearing my number like a badge of honour” one of our nearly 50 year old first time fun runners.
  • “It was a spectacular day to be running across the bridge this morning” Bernice – another of our soon to be 50 year old runners
  • “That was awesome” – just some random person I heard in the recovery village
  • “Just going to brag about my 29 year old” from a friend of mine texting me about her son’s first marathon.
  • “Yay me” from Tara, after her first half marathon


No need for me to say any more, really, but I’d love to hear your comments on why you run.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Sydney Running Festival: Why the marathon starts so late

heatThe Sydney Running Festival is on again this weekend, and again the  Marathon will start a good hour or so after the half marathon. I’ve often pondered why.  In recent years we’ve had a 31 degree day (2011) and a 26 degree day (2009) for the race. This year, we have a forecast of 24 degrees, so not too hot (unless you happen to be finishing a marathon at midday). Add to this the fact that it is only early spring in Sydney and most runners will not have had a chance to acclimatise to the warmer temperatures, you have to ask the question, “why start the marathon at 7:20am, yet the half at 6:15?”


So, I did ask the question of race organisers (who I might add are always really helpful with any queries I’ve had over the years). This was the answer I received from Erin Jeffries, teams organiser.


“We start the Half Marathon at 6.15am which allows the entire field to flow onto the second half of the course (where the Marathon course meets it) before the Marathon even starts. This method then allows the Half Marathon field to almost completely finish before the lead Marathon runners get back to the 31km point (Phillip Street, Sydney) where they meet the Half Marathon course.

 If we set the marathon off at 6.15am, the main pack of runners will be back into the city from about 8am – 10am with a solid and steady stream of runners. If we then start the half at 7.15am, the lead runners will hit Phillip Street where the marathon and half meet and continue on the same course at nearly the exact same time. This would be followed by a very large pack that would run right into each other and cause serious safety problems.

Not to mention not having a clear run for the leaders, lead vehicles, and general confusion for our entrants etc. Unless we ran the half on a completely different course this timing unfortunately wouldn’t work.

 I hope this makes sense. It is a really complex strategy and to date we haven’t been able to find an alternative. Of course we understand the runners perspective but safety is at our utmost concern.”


Is it just me, or can you see the irony in sending people out running for hours and hours in very hot conditions to keep them safe?

Just for the record, over the last four years, of the runners who have finished the marathon, 30% have taken longer than 4 hrs 30 mins.

That is 30% of the field are still running at close to midday and beyond.


How many marathoners will still be at it come midday?

  • In 2009 32% were still running 4hrs 30mins into the race,
  • 2010 25%,
  • 2011 39%
  • and 2012 26%

Like many things, it probably comes down to cost as much as anything else. I’m guessing the more road closures, the greater the cost, so sharing parts of the course between the half and full marathon on the same course is a cost effective answer.

End of Year Resolutions

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We are in the final 4 months of 2013. Have your New Years’ fitness resolutions gone to plan? If not, should you give up your goal of improving your health and fitness this year, grow bitter and curse the powers that be for making it so hard for you to get fit and be healthy?

Or should you take responsibility for your situation and make changes?


Read and act.

Seek motivation; don’t wait for it to fall into your lap.

From time to time I have people say to me something along the lines of, “it’s easy for you, you’re so motivated” or “it’s easy for you, you’re so fit” or “I wish I could be as motivated as you are”.

Well, here’s the thing. Firstly, it’s not always easy for me, and I’m not always highly motivated. My energy levels wax and wane. When my energy is low, I keep going because I know that if I just keep chipping away, sooner or later the tables will turn, my energy levels will pick up, and I’ll  be ready to go. I don’t leap out of bed and think YIPPEE I’m going for a run every morning, but I do keep trying to do something pretty much every day. And that doesn’t always pan out.

Secondly, it hasn’t always been easy for people who are fit. Most people have had periods in their lives when their fitness levels have dropped and they have had to summon the motivation to get back into it, and I’m certainly one of them. That’s when a goal and a well thought out plan can make all the difference. You need a plan that will push you enough to get you fitter, but not push you so much that you overdo it and injure yourself. If you’re not sure about planning your training, seek help. You’ll be surprised how easy it all becomes if you have a plan set out before you in black and white.


Anyone can be motivated.

Motivation is not something reserved for people who are fitter than you, or “better” than you. Motivation is not something that descends from on high. Motivation is something that you need to learn how to use. I’m not highly “motivated” to cook dinner, clean my house, have a shower every day, clean my teeth every day, do the washing, do any number of mundane and boring things that I do each and every day, but I still do them. Sometimes, that’s just the way with exercise. It’s just got to be something that you do. Without thinking about it. Automatically. Then when the endorphins kick in, you’ll be unstoppable!


So how do you “just do it” when you really don’t feel like doing it?

  • Take action today.  Not some time next week, not tomorrow, TAKE ACTION TODAY. Even if it is just a little tiny step towards where you want to be, TAKE ACTION TODAY. Set out a training plan for the next month, enlist a friend to exercise with, resolve to get up 10 minutes earlier every day this week and do some simple body weight exercises at home like sit ups, push ups, squats and dips, all of which can be done in your own bedroom.
  • Set yourself a goal. Specify it, by writing it down. Make it Realistic. Make sure you can Measure whether or not you hit that goal, make it Achievable, make it Rewarding, and make it Time limited. Yes, that’s right, make it a S.M.A.R.T. goal. It might not be what you first set out to achieve at the beginning of the year, but that’s OK. There’s no rule against reassessing your goals.
  • Once you’ve set out one or two main fitness goals for the rest of the year, take some time to plan how you’ll reach this goal. And remember, keep it realistic. If you’ve never run before, perhaps planning for a 5km fun run before the end of the year will take your fancy. Far enough to be a challenge, but short enough to be very achievable. Just pick out a run, and “go for it”.  “Go for it” setting out a training plan so that you know precisely what training you’ll be doing and when you’ll be doing it. If you don’t know what you’re doing, enlist help.
  • Set out your reasons for doing it; write down why you want to achieve your goal. I’ve got a few reasons to exercise, but the main one is I like how it makes me feel. I like feeling strong, I like knowing I can run for a couple of hours without conking out! I guess it gives me a sense of power. There are lots of other reasons, but I reckon that’s my main one. Yours may be different. Whatever the reasons, write them down, and stick them up where you can see them. Right next to your alarm clock would be a great place!
  • Bust your own excuses. Don’t let excuses keep you on the couch. Stuff like “I can’t because”, “I don’t know how” “I don’t know how” “I could if….” are all excuses. Catch yourself when you make excuses that are preventing you from being as fit and healthy as you’d like to be. When you do catch yourself, ask yourself these questions: What is the truth? What do I want? What action can I take? (If you’re anything like me, the truth is you don’t want to finish the year fatter then when you started).


Let’s be very clear about this.


Your feet aren’t going to get up and start running all by themselves, are they?

You need to make a decision to act.

If you need help, remember that’s what we are here for.

You just need to ask for it.


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