SMH Half Marathon Team

Pete cracks 82 mins for the SMH Half

We had a great day for the SMH Half Marathon 2015.

This year we had quite a few teams entered into the SMH Half Marathon relay. A great way to experience the race without having to run the full distance. I think all of our relay runners have done a half marathon at some time, but just didn’t have the fitness for the full distance this time round.

And there’s nothing like being on a team to bring out the best in a person. I think all of our relay runners had planned to take it a bit easy, given their fitness levels, but ended up giving it their all on the day.

It wasn’t only the relay runners who exceeded expectations. Nearly all of our runners posted times which were better than they expected, which is awesome. And I have to make special mention of Peter Sewell, who cracked 4 mins per km for the first time in a half, to come in 102nd overall, and 2nd place in the male 50-59 category.

Here are some  pics from the day for you to enjoy.

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Your Fitness Tracker and Your Privacy

Fitness Tracker privacy is a real issue these days

Wearable fitness trackers are common place these days, and are set to become even more popular with the introduction of the Apple Watch this year. Smart clothes are already on the market, and sales of smart clothes are expected to grow from 100,000 shipments last year,  to 26 million next year! 

All this technology certainly collects an impressive set of data on you as an individual , but if you’re going to use any health data tracking devices, you need to be sure of the security of your data. Or, you could prefer to use the Rating of Perceived exertion to help regulate your pace.

Back in 2011, it was found that people’s sexual activity as recorded on their Fitbits, could be found on the net by a Google search. The problem was that Fitbit’s default privacy setting allowed users’ profiles to be found on-line. If you didn’t unclick this setting, your profile automatically become public for anyone to see whatever data was uploaded to the Fitbit site. The good people at Fitbit have since changed the default setting to be private, not public, but it’s a great example of the need to be very sure of what happens to your private data once it’s collected by any wearable fitness device.

Quite apart from the possibility of your fitness details being made public, there are some very real questions surrounding who owns the data you upload to your fitness trackers’ website, who can access this data, and what can it be used for.

Here are just a few possibilities which should compel you to check out the privacy statements of your fitness tracker supplier.

  1. Your data could be used by your fitness supplier to market other products to you – in fact I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t – not a problem in itself, as it means you’ll be shown products that will be of interest to you, but just something you might not have thought about.
  2. Your data could be sold to a third party for marketing purposes
  3. Your data could be sold to health insurers which could have a massive impact on your insurance premiums and your insurability. On the positive side, health insurance companies might ask you to supply them with your data to get a discount.
  4. Your data could be sold to life insurance companies, which has implications for insurance premiums as well.
  5. Employers might find fitness tracker data an interesting metric as part of the overall candidate selection process
  6. Your data could be used to pinpoint your location at any given time – handy if you’re lost, but not handy if you’re planning to rob a bank.
  7. Your data could be used to substantiate or refute personal injury claims

There appears to be no legislation relating to personal fitness tracker data in Australia as yet, but given the recently introduced telecommunications data retention legislation, you have to wonder……

Overuse Injuries: The Four Stages

The Four Stages of Overuse Injuries

Overuse injuries can occur in any part of the musculo-skeletal system. It doesn’t matter where the injury is, if it’s an overuse injury, the progression of the injury can be broken down into four stages. 

  1. Discomfort that you feel during the warm up only
  2. Discomfort that disappears as you warm up. It might come back again at the end of your training session
  3. Discomfort that gets worse during the training session, and may become real pain
  4. Pain or discomfort which you feel all the time, or nearly all the time, to varying degrees

When you exercise, you apply stress to your body. The body gets fitter, by adapting to this stress, by thickening and strengthening the tissues worked in training. So, muscles get firmer and stronger, tendons get stronger, bone gets denser. All good things, for the most part.

If you don’t allow your body enough time to recover, then adaptation cannot occur. Too much overload can lead to injuries and inflammation, the body’s response to injury. How much overload is too much? That’s a very individual thing, and will depend on your current fitness level, past history of injuries and how they have been treated, and how well your body recovers from individual exercise bouts.

Guidelines for running with and managing an overuse injury

If you’ve been experiencing pain or discomfort for more than a week, I’d strongly advise you to see a physiotherapist. Depending on the type of pain, or where it is, you should seek advice sooner.

  • Any pain in your calf which is associated with a buildup of fluid in your lower leg, and/or the lower leg feeling warm to the touch, should be taken to a doctor to rule out deep vein thrombosis.
  • Any pain associated with jaw, neck, shoulders and arms, particularly down the left side should also have you on your way to the doctor, to rule out heart problems!

Before we get back to your ordinary everyday garden variety overuse injury, if you’re wondering if you should run when you have a cold or other illness, you should see this article.

Having said you should consult a physio for treatment for an overuse injury, here are a few basic guidelines you can follow to determine whether or not you should quit training for a while.

Stage One

You can continue activity, as long as the condition doesn’t get worse. Keep in mind that without professional help, it may not get any better either. A physio can guide you as to what you should be doing to prevent the injury from worsening, or coming back once it’s better.

Stage Two

You can keep training if you have a stage two soft tissue injury, but your training will need to modified to a pain free level whilst the injury is being treated. For example, when I was training for my first half marathon, I developed bursitis in my hip. The pain only came on at about the 14km mark in my long runs, so for a while, I didn’t run any further than 14km. When the pain hit, I stopped.

Stage Three

If you let your overuse injury progress to stage three, you need to stop training for a while, and definitely seek treatment. You’ll probably be able to continue with some kind of cross training that does not aggravate the injury

Stage Four

You’ll need to stop training, and quite likely stop some of your daily activities which aggravate the injury. You need treatment, no ifs, no buts – and that doesn’t mean you wait till after the race to seek treatment  because you’re scared of being told not to race!

Remember that overuse injuries can occur through doing too much of ANYTHING. It’s not always the result of massive amounts of training. Many repetitive strain injuries are the result of working for too long in one position, not having breaks, and doing the same task over and over again, day in day out – think mouse use and typing, driving. I gave myself an ITB problem by sitting at my desk with my legs crossed for too long. I was doing very little running at the time, so it definitely wasn’t a running injury. The morning I woke up with it I was off to the physio immediately, and a few agonising massages later, I was back on track .

So, be on the lookout for overuse injuries which might result from your every day tasks, as well as your specific training and exercise program.


Running Motivation is Contagious

Running Motivation is Contagious

We’ve all either heard, or maybe used, the expression “Your attitude is contagious. Is your’s worth catching?” It’s a bit corny, even a bit annoying sometimes when you’re having a bad day and you’re quite “happy” to be having a bad day and impacting those around you!

Most of us know both intuitively and from experience that attitudes can be contagious. If someone else is smiling, you’re likely to smile, if someone around you is in a bad mood, you’ve got to work a lot harder to stay positive. But did you know there’s quite a bit of research around the topic? And it’s not just attitudes, but actions that are contagious.

A study by Christakis and Fowler as part of the Framingham Heart Study found that obesity was contagious. They found that a person’s chance of becoming obese increased by 40% if a friend of that person became obese. Interestingly, if their spouse became obese, they had only a 37% increased chance of becoming obese.

Other behaviours which have been found by research to be contagious include alcohol consumption, smoking, sleep loss, drug use, depression and rule breaking. (Hence we don’t want our kids to get in with a “bad” crowd”. Even the goal of having casual sex has been found by research to be contagious!

So, it’s probably not too much of a surprise that our behaviour is influenced by those around us, but it’s the degree to which behaviours are contagious which is so astounding.

Whilst we all like to think of ourselves as individuals with our own strong wills and own goals and desires, due to the speed with which man has evolved, we still have a brain made for a primitive world, where “catching” the behaviour of those around us would have been important for survival. Our primitive brain will likely want to give into temptation and instant gratification, whilst our higher level, “modern” brain tells us to resist short term gain for the achievement of longer term, bigger accomplishments.

When we see other people give in to temptations for instant gratification, our brain tells us it’s fine to do this. But if we see someone resisting temptation, it reinforces our goal and helps activate self control.

If you’re still with me at this point, you might be asking “What does this have to do with running? Good question.

Basically, good or bad social norms have an enormous capacity to influence our behaviour. So, if you see people turning up to training each week, on time, ready to run, you’re more likely to do the same. If your kids see you consistently making your health a priority, they are more likely to do that themselves, and turn into fit and healthy adults.

Mirror Neurons

There are neurons in the brain which pretty much mimic things we see. They’re called mirror neurons, and it’s the existence of mirror neurons which make it very hard sometimes to exercise self control. To simplify it, if we see someone do something that causes them pain, like cutting their finger for example, the mirror neurons in our brain fire, and we are able to understand and empathise with them. So the neural pathway for pain actually fires.

There’s been research conducted in this area that shows these neurons fire even if we’re watching someone in a movie. For example when smokers watched a movie with someone smoking in it, activation occurred in the areas of the brain that were in charge of moving the hand.

If we see someone having a reward, due to activity in our brain, we want the reward too. if we see someone indulging in chocolate cake, our reward area is priming itself for activation! Longing sets in, and before you know it, regardless of your resolve, you’re shoveling chocolate cake in like there’s no tomorrow!

So the moral to the tale? There really are good scientifically backed reasons for surrounding yourself with people who’s goals and desires align with yours.

We love helping people with their motivation to run. Come along to a week of free running sessions, and experience how running motivation is contagious.

Further Reading

Goal Contagion: Perceiving Is for Pursuing  Henk Aarts, Peter M. Gollwitzer, Ran R. Hassin