Saturday, 27 October 2018

The Power of Strangers


Many of you who have been members of the LiL Runners Facebook group, before its superb transformation into LiL Wellbeing, Health and Fitness may well have seen my posts and Blogs about all things active. I think at one point I even posted a video of my hideous feet, (hideous even before the 20 miles road run from which I am still, 7 months later, missing toe nails) as I tried to describe exercises for alleviating shin splints.
Image result for black dog depressionThen, about April time, my world wobbled. Not for the first time did I teeter on the edge of all-consuming self-negativity, but this time it was worse, and even more so because life was good. When it has happened before I have put my running shoes on, taken the dogs and “run up a mountain” (shuffled actually, if I’m being truly honest), cycled 100km with my chums at Bedarieux Cycloclub, or taken a couple of spin classes where I am paid to yell at people, motivationally of course. And all has become, miraculously, well again. Only this time, I was so overwhelmed with work, travel and a couple of my dearest friends being dreadfully poorly, that even that didn’t work. Because “I didn’t have time”.
Now, I have believed in the power of strangers for a long time. They are like consultants – I know you pay them to use your watch to tell you the time, but we listen to them. They may speak the blindingly obvious, tell you what you already know, but we hear them. They make sense, they are in the right place at the right time, and most of all they tell us things that we often don’t have the courage to tell ourselves.
So, my first Blog back is to tell you about a stranger-friend, a strange expression, I know, but I have never actually met this person, although I hold her dear to me and count her as one of my friends. And best of all, she is a member of this group. I won’t embarrass her by naming her, because I have a strong suspicion that she is one of many and I could be talking about most, if not all of you.
She dropped me a note to ask how I was. She was concerned that I had gone to ground. She hadn’t known me long, but it was long enough to know that all was not well. Out of the blue, I got a message from her.
One of my dogs is a black Labrador, which means that quite often I am accompanied by two black dogs. One is my mad-as-a-balloon, Oz, who is a big, important part of my life. The other Black Dog, who has no name, used to belong to Winston Churchill, and he is not welcome in my life any more than he was welcome in Mr Churchill’s. So, what did my stranger-friend do that put Black Dog back in the kennel where he belonged, that my usual therapies weren’t able to do?
 At the time, Black Dog was sitting so close to me that I couldn’t bring myself to read her message, I didn’t even open it. It was from a part of my life that I loved but thought I had lost. So, I stuck my head in a bucket and ignored her. Then for some reason, I opened the message, read it. Wept a bit, and then replied. It all came out, this vast sense of overwhelming-ness that was filling me with guilt because life was good, but I wasn’t doing what I needed to do for my mental health. And do you know what she did, this stranger-friend I have never met? She wrote back to me. She wrote back to me straight away after I had ignored her for all that time. And she made some comments and suggestions that started to shove Black Dog back in his kennel.
So, thank you, my dear, dear Stranger-Friend. You will know who you are. Thanks to you I have made time. Guilt-free time. In the last two weeks I have run with my dogs in my favourite mountains, I have cycled with my cycloclub, I have raced in some crazy relays with my triathlon club who don’t care that I am the old bird at the back with more enthusiasm than skill. I have taught spin classes, come out of there hoarse and had people younger than my child ask me when my next classes are. And despite legs that cycled 75km today, I will be running with my running club in the mud of an English Cross Country tomorrow, and I will be smiling while I grimace every step of the way, ready to run up to the Pic du Tantajo next week with the trail running club in Bedarieux.



Thank you, I’m back, if you’ll still have me xxxxx

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

So I am Good at Running after all

I have been running for many years but that doesn’t make me good at it, not if your definition of “good” is to break 20 minutes for a 5K (or even 25 minutes these days), run an ultra-marathon, or even actually look like I’m running. Sometimes, however, I am good at it, if your definition of “good” is to enjoy at least some part of it or to (normally) be able to walk the next day regardless of distance, terrain or pace.

And last Sunday, I was good, really good. Better than I have been in a long time. Why? Because I absolutely loved every single one of the 210 minutes I was running for. The smiley faces, welcoming shouts and friendly abuse from the organisers, marshals, fellow runners and public along the way. My biggest pre-race anxiety, once I’ve actually got there, is always whether the loo will flush, but on Sunday I accounted for the clocks going forward and else everything worked just fine.

I knew the route would be lovely. Windsor Great Park is home turf, I know it like the back of my hand and even know when the Queen will be driving through on her way to church. But what really made it good, was that it was organised by my running club and I was running with a friend. At least for the first fifteen miles anyway, then I needed a pit stop and her superior training paid dividends as she pulled away. We occasionally spoke, but not often and I don’t think we did at all after ten miles. Comfortable, relaxed silence interspersed with banter from the marshals (“there’s a downhill bit that way somewhere” – thanks Ron!!).

This run wasn’t a race, it was a 20 miles training run for the marathon season organised by my UK club, the Datchet Dashers. We had marshals so that if it all went to pants someone could get us home, and we had race numbers so the marshals could identify us from the other runners. It was a safe, secure environment for those needing a long run. And of course, the camaraderie of being with others. We did have a briefing (respect the other park users, don’t drop litter and don’t get run over crossing the road), we did sign in and out and there was an amazing lady on a tail bike who had a pocket full of chocolate and laughed all the way round with the folks at the back. But there was no clock, no official start line and no actual finish line. It was just a bunch of slightly crazy people going for a run with wonderful volunteers who had given up their Sunday morning.

So, on Monday morning, as the descent started into Toulouse, where the running experience is just the same, only with more cow bells (French marshals love their cow bells!!), I was really hoping that walking backwards down the stairs off the plane wouldn’t cause too many strange stares, and now, two days later I am still buzzing over how “good” at running I am.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Ski fit - it's all in the preparation

With the first of the countdown to Christmas posts coming out already it must mean that Winter is on its way. For many people, the idea of a holiday is about relaxing on the beach, exploring new places and relaxing with friends and family. It does not mean a week of non-stop extreme exercise with the ever present risk of injury. But that is exactly what skiing is all about.
I have many friends who have leisurely, chilled out summer breaks and then throw themselves down the sides of snow covered mountains stuck to a plank of wood or two. They must be barking mad, I think, but then they describe their holiday to me, painting pictures of the most amazing scenery, the exhilaration of the descent, the strange sights from the cable cars and the relaxing après ski. So they aren't crazy after all. It sounds amazing and the photos they show are just awesome.

But it comes with a price

But, many of these same friends admit that the fantastic-ness, the exhilaration, the amazing views all come with a hefty price - that of not being able to move 75% of their bodies for a good chunk of the time, with their backsides and thighs screaming abuse at them for much of the time that they are away.

Over the years, Paul has had a number of clients come to him, asking him to help them prepare for some physical challenge that they have coming up - triathlons, marathons, long distance cycles and even a flat course horse race, but one of the most common requests is to help them to get ski-fit.

They have had enough of coming down stairs backwards, of suffering niggly aches and pains that last for a lot longer than the buzz of the holiday and have decided to face up to the reality that, no matter how fit, strong and active they may be, they are about to put their body through a week of extreme sport for which it is ill-prepared. If they want to have a fantastic time, relax with friends and be able to walk without looking like they've got a couple of cabbages stuffed down their pants, then they need to put the effort in before they go.

So, having seen the snow on the Pyrenees as I flew over them recently, I asked Paul how important is it to not just rock up and give it a bash.

He explained that many people hit the slopes ill-prepared for what they are about to do, even those who have been many times before. He says they put a lot of time, effort and money into their kit but forget to invest the same preparation in their bodies which invariably leads to time away from the slopes through soreness and fatigue or, even worse, the development of minor, or even long-term injuries which can affect their normal life back home. He says he is not talking about broken arms, legs, collar bones here, but about strained muscles, aching joints and torn ligaments.

It's all in the preparation

Prior to the start of the ski season, he takes his clients through a series of exercises which target those body areas used while skiing. Exercises such as squats, lunges, those targeting the core muscles, to develop both their strength and flexibility. He says that it is also important to extend the range of movement through the joints and to teach those joints how to perform in what would otherwise be unusual movements. Here he is talking particularly about the hips and knees. 
He says that from as few as five sessions, if done properly, and focused on the appropriate exercises, stretches and mobility sets before you head off, it is possible to prepare the body for the high intensity activities that skiing demands.


He freely admits that these preparations won't make you a better technical skier, but they will reduce the need to take to a deck chair rather than the slopes by the middle of the week and will allow you to maximise your enjoyment of your holiday.

If you are based in the department of Hérault in the south of France and planning a holiday on the slopes this Winter and would like the chance to prepare your body as well as you prepare your kit bag, and you need your coaching in English, then drop us a note at Beetoned@aol.com or send us a message through our Facebook page and Paul would be pleased to have a chat with you.

Bonnes vacances🎿🎿




Sunday, 22 January 2017

Joseph Pilates - a short hello

Joseph Pilates – a Biography

Joseph Hubertus Pilates, born 9th December 1883 in Mönchengladbach, Germany, was described by the New York Times in his obituary as being a a white-maned lion with steel blue eyes and mahogany skin, and as limber in his 80's as a teenager”.
He is said to have been sickly as a young child, suffering from rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever and was bullied for being "Pontius Pilate, killer of Christ". It was during one of these attacks he is reputed to have lost his left eye, although other sources describe it as a result of a boxing accident.
Pilates worked as an assistant in the brewery in Mönchengladbach as a teenager and at the same time studied anatomy and Eastern exercises such as Zen and Yoga. He was a successful boxer, gymnast, skier and diver and by the age of 14 he is said to have developed his body to such a level that it was used for anatomical modelling.
In 1912 Pilates came to England with some sources saying it was to train as a boxer and others stating that he and his brother were performing in a circus as Gladiators and England was part of the tour.
When World War I broke out in 1914 he was interned in a camp for enemy aliens in Lancaster and taught wrestling and self-defence to the other interns. During this time, he also began refining and teaching his mat exercises, using minimal equipment using an approach that later became “Contrology”. When he was moved to a camp on the Isle of Man, he helped with the treatment of the sick, who were not allowed to be taken from their beds, devising methods of using the bed equipment to provide exercises for the patients’ rehabilitation. This eventually led to the development of the “Trap Table” (trapezium table).
On his return to Germany after the end of the war, Pilates began training the Hamburg Military Police and in 1923 was invited to train the New German Army. However, he was dissatisfied with the politics and chose to emigrate to the USA. During the journey, he met his future wife Clara and is said to have helped her overcome arthritic pain. In New York, they took over a boxing gym with dance studios and developed “Contrology” into the rehabilitation and training regime of many eminent dancers and socialites of the time.
Although he was a health guru, Pilates was a flamboyant character, brusque and rough with his clients yet, renowned for liking cigars, whiskey and women and insisted on wearing his exercise briefs whenever he felt inclined, including on the streets of New York. He was in excellent physical condition until his death in October 1967.
It wasn’t until the 1980's and the development of exercise science as a discipline that Pilates’ approach become more widely adopted, having until then been restricted to dancers and elite athletes, and it wasn’t until the late 1990's that it was adapted for general exercise regimes.


Bibliography: Marguerite Ogle, A brief Biography of Joseph Pilates
Bruce Thomson, Joseph Pilates Biography
Brooke Siler, The Pilates Body


Pilates - what is it?

Pilates - An Introduction

I have been teaching Pilates for well over ten years now, to individuals, groups of friends and
colleagues and large leisure centre classes. Some of these sessions have been to athletes (amateur, semi- and professional), others to physiotherapy clients. I have taught at hen weekends, to fitness addicts, newbies to activity and covered ages ranging from Girl
Guides to Great Grandparents, and, of course, to both men and women.

But a recurring theme across all of these groups, levels, abilities and inclinations is an enthusiasm for regularly “going back to basics”. So, that’s where I am going to start.

I will give you an overview of what Pilates is, to me at least, and then take a look at some of the basic exercises from which so many variations can come. But as a cautionary note before we go on this journey I need to remind you that this is my take on Pilates. The purists out there may well consider some of this a distortion of the true ethos of the practice. If you do, then I do understand. In no way do I intend to belittle or deride any of that, it has been the backbone of my teaching for all these years, but my experiences and the
people I have had the privilege to teach have naturally affected my interpretation of the original Joseph Pilates teaching and that is what I will share with you here.

Posture and Lifestyle

For those of us lucky enough to not suffer with debilitating illnesses, injuries or disabilities, many of the aches and pains we routinely struggle with come from poor posture and imbalances in the body. These have their roots in many causes but more often than not it is our lifestyle that lies behind them. 20th and 21st century living, and the ordinary, daily activities that we all carry out do not lend themselves to a balanced body and good posture.
We put pillows under our babies’ heads and shoes on their feet. We make our children sit at school and we drive, use computers, read books, do the ironing, sit on the sofa and a whole myriad of other small, habitual things that shape the way our body develops. And all this is before we add extra-curricular activities – sports, hobbies and, of course, work.
As the body becomes more physically imbalanced it starts to affect other aspects of life. It can have an effect on mood and the efficiency to carry out every day mental and physical tasks and to be able to cope with stressful or challenging situations.

Developing Body Awareness

Using visualisation queues to enhance slow, gentle, controlled movements to encourage correct posture in everyday life, and in more challenging activities such as exercise, Pilates strengthens and tones individual muscle groups providing natural protection for the whole length of the spine.

Pilates is not a “mindless” repetition of movements, but neither is it a spiritual practice. It is more of an understanding of the body’s actions and reactions to movement, connecting our mind with the way we move, giving us the opportunity to think about how we breathe and how to isolate movements while adding stability from supporting muscle groups.

Pilates helps overcome posture related back pain such as sciatica, stiff neck and shoulder and hip discomfort, by increasing the strength of the deep core and pelvic floor muscles. Fundamentals of Pilates are used for sports specific training by top athletes and national sports squads to increase core strength and improve muscle balance to reduce recovery time and risk of injury.

But to me, Pilates is much more than this. It develops body awareness so we understand our imbalances, those we can address and those we have to live with, and it builds mobility through the whole body. 
Even with the sports clubs and athletes I have worked with, I have never taught a Pilates exercise with the goal of the client getting better at that exercise. I teach an exercise to enable them to feel how their body moves, and to understand which muscles they need to use, which work instinctively and which they have to cajole into action when they make that movement.

Think of a squat for instance. Now unless you were a professional squatting competitor, then just being good at squats is, arguably, of not much use. However, being able to get on and off the toilet unaided determines everyone’s quality of life. So, understanding how to do a Pilates squat, being able to support your body weight as you do it and being able to do it well, is suddenly much, much more important.

Core Principles

The practice of Pilates is based around 8 core principles:



Concentration:
The art of being able to focus on the movements and remove all other thoughts, to bring together the body and mind through a continuous flow.
Breath:
Lateral Thoracic Breathing: breathing into the sides of the lungs and the ribcage rather than the abdomen or raising the shoulders, allowing engagement of the deep abdominal muscles for the duration of the exercise and beyond.
Centring:
Bringing all the movement from a strong “core” or “Power House” by controlling and strengthening the deep core muscles – transversus abdominis, pelvic floor and lumbar mutlifidis.
Relaxation:
Recognising and working to relieve areas of tension within the body so that it can relax and move in a natural and flowing way.
Quality:
Correct alignment of the body to master the techniques and increase the effectiveness of the exercises.
Flowing Movement:
Slow and controlled movement through the concentric and eccentric phases giving a balanced flowing exercise program.
Awareness:
Learning the body’s individual strengths and weaknesses, where the body is within its own space, to allow the smooth flowing exercises and to take the movements beyond and into everyday life.
Stamina:
Repetition, frequency and practice will allow the skill levels and effectiveness to increase until the correct posture becomes natural, subconscious and automatic.

The 34 original Pilates Exercises:

Joseph Pilates was the founder of Pilates (take a look at Joseph Pilates - a brief hello for a very cursory biography) as an exercise programme and developed the eight core philosophies into a series of 34 mat based exercises designed to smoothly progress from one to the other.

1
The hundred
10
Criss cross
19
The scissors
28
The leg pull-down
2
The roll up
11
Spine stretch forward
20
The bicycle
29
The leg pull-up
3
The roll over
12
Open leg rocker
21
Shoulder bridge
30
Kneeling sidekicks
4
Leg circles
13
The corkscrew
22
Spine twist
31
Mermaid/side bend
5
Rolling like a ball
14
The saw
23
The jack knife
32
The boomerang
6
Singe leg stretch
15
Swan dive
24
Side kicks
33
The seal
7
Double leg stretch
16
Single leg kicks
25
Teasers
34
Push ups
8
Single straight leg stretch
17
Double leg kicks
26
Hip circles


9
Double straight leg stretch
18
Neck pull
27
swimming



In my teaching, I have never taught all 34 exercises in this way, there is much overlap in them in terms of muscle groups being worked, and it would take longer than most people have at their disposal to go through them all, and, to be honest, they can become somewhat tedious.

However, these 34 exercises, and the variations that they have led to, provide a wealth of alternatives, whether it be to simply ring the changes or to offer to a client to address specific restrictions.

For that reason, I am not going to go through each of these in turn, some of these are very advanced. Instead I will focus on the basics which allow us to consider at least some of the 8 core principles and to start to develop or enhance our body awareness. But, I will show the connectivity between them and the relevant exercises from Joseph’s list of 34.


Monday, 2 January 2017

Power Walking

Power Walking

Walking in any of its guises is a natural, instinctive method of moving. For most of us we have been walking since we were about 12 months old. As with so many things, it is easy to take for granted and, particularly for those of us fortunate enough to be able to walk without assistance, it is easy to become complacent about it. Indeed, with the distances we typically travel increasing and the time we have available becoming shorter, walking has become something that many see as an exercise regime or method of enjoying the locale rather than a mode of transport. Far be it from me to criticise this, indeed if it weren’t for two energetic dogs, I too wouldn’t walk very far, preferring to run or cycle if it’s a trip for pleasure and use the car or if not.

Walking, if done properly, with the thought and preparation that we would give to any other form of atypical exercise, is a hugely beneficial, wonderful way to spend time with friends or in solitary reflection, to find pleasure in even the grottiest of weather while increasing our levels of health and fitness. If, however, we don’t give it careful thought it causes all sorts of problems which typically show themselves as back ache and sore knees.

Power Walking takes casual walking up a notch in intensity providing a superb, low-impact means of improving cardiovascular fitness and endurance, total body strength, mobility and back health. It requires little in the way of specialist kit and can be incorporated into ordinary everyday activities or given its own allotted time and gives possibly one of the quickest returns on investment in terms of positive impact for time spent for the debutante than just about any other physical activity. While it is always advisable to seek the advice of a medical practitioner before starting out on a complete lifestyle change to ensure that your body would be able to cope with sudden increases in activity levels, Power Walking does not carry the same risks when starting out from inactivity that other, more extreme sports would have. And yet, the benefits could be as good, if not better.
There are a few sensible things to consider before setting out:

What to wear

Footwear is obviously the major consideration – it needs to fit comfortably enough to support your feet without slipping yet still allow room for your feet to spread as they get hot. Remember this is Power Walking not hiking, you won’t be out for hours so shoes or trainers which allow foot movement are more appropriate than walking boots, but they should be suitable for the terrain you will be walking on. Things to consider are grip and water resistance.

Supportive underwear is extremely important. While we won’t be bursting into a 1980s aerobics routine there will still be various parts of our bodies that need to be able to move in a controlled manner. Ladies should consider their bra carefully. No matter how large or small, too much movement is not only painful at the time and risks chaffing, but a poorly supported bust can be a contributory factor in mid to upper back problems. Gentlemen should consider supportive underwear too. Briefs or shorts are personal preference, but again excessive movement should be minimised to restrict chaffing, discomfort at the time and the risk of many more serious complications later.

Outer layers also need to be thought about carefully. You will get warm, indeed maybe even hot. Again, to labour the point, Power Walking is not “la la la la la-ing” and you will be walking more briskly than a typical stroll, or even a hike. Layering is a good idea so that you can take clothes off as you warm up and you can easily put them back on again as you cool down, but remember you do need to be able to carry them. Some people prefer to be a little cold at the start knowing they will warm up to the correct temperature, others prefer to feel comfortable at the outset and remove layers as they get warmer. Hats and gloves should be thought about carefully here too – it is highly probably that they will come off and very quickly even in the winter.

Sun and hydration

Never underestimate the power of the sun. Wear a good quality sunscreen on all parts of your skin that will be, or maybe, exposed even in the winter. The sun doesn’t need to be shining and it doesn’t need to be hot for your skin to be at significant risk from harmful UV. In the Summer a sun hat that protects the head, neck and face are to be recommended as are sunglasses, indeed in some organised events these are mandatory.
As for hydration, a water bottle should never be carried in your hand. This is a dreadful habit which causes terrible upper back problems and sometimes can manifest itself very quickly. I can’t express myself strongly enough on this point. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the donut shaped bottles are OK, or that you won’t be out long enough to worry about it. They aren’t OK and you will be, even 10 minutes is too long to be carrying anything as heavy as water. Remember water weights 1kg per litre without the weight of the bottle too. Water should be carried on you back in a rucksack or Camelbak (again compulsory in many events). If you haven’t got either of these but you have a coach or a trainer, then they will carry it for you (if they don’t then sack them!).
So now we are ready to Power Walk. We just leap out of the car and go, right? Well no, not quite. There are a few things to think about

Step 1: Always mobilise first, but don’t stretch – not yet!

Start by moving each joint in all the directions it is intended to move in. You may well find that you do this instinctively anyway. You are about to walk so focus on the lower body and be methodical.
Waggle, scrunch and splay your toes. Point and flex your feet and rotate at the ankle in both directions and bend and straighten at the knee. Lift one leg up and move it forwards and backwards and rotate the whole leg at the hip. Don’t forget the second leg!

Gently bend forwards and backwards a little and rotate at the waist and then gently rotate the arms at the shoulder, then roll the shoulders bringing them all the way up to your ears and sliding your shoulder blades down your back and changing direction. Finally rotate the head, take ear to shoulders and look to one side just in front of your shoulder and repeat on the other side. These last few bits can be done as you start to walk if you prefer, and the whole thing takes only a few minutes. Time well spent!

Step 2: Warm up

Now you are ready to go, but slowly first, here we are allowed a brief period of daisy picking as you start to warm up and think about how your body feels and how it moves. Breathing calmly and comfortably, in through your nose and out through your mouth, focus on your posture as you start to move. Imagine a balloon on top of your head helping you stand tall and upright, or a ribbon running down through your spine which holds you upright. The moment your posture becomes “tall and lovely” you become lighter on your feet, your tummy and your bottom naturally tighten slightly and you are better able to use your feet to drive you forward as you move in the way that they are designed.
Spend 5 minutes or so walking like this bringing your awareness to how your feet are moving and to your tummy and bottom staying tighter and standing a little taller.

Step 3: Dynamic stretching

Every few steps start to introduce a lunge where you take a wide step forward and drop the back knee down towards the ground, then drive back up by squeezing the buttock of the back leg a little more. Repeat on the other leg. After a few pairs of lunges do three or four sumo-style squats every third step and then switch to ski-style squats. 
About now you can introduce some arm movements by bringing them up as you squat down. No fancy choreography here, just simple, effective stretching.

 Step 4: Now we are ready to Power Walk.

Power Walking uses the arms to drive you forwards. Bend at the elbows and keep your body upright. If you are coordinated enough then it is ideal to use opposite arm to leg but, to be frank, as long as the arms do not cross your body then it really doesn’t matter that much. There are more important things to think about. A helpful tip is to just touch your middle finger tip to your thumb tip, barely touching, and this keeps the hands relaxed and removes tension from the arms all the way up to the neck.

Take a stride forward and place the heel of the foot gently down first then bend the whole foot to drive off the floor with your toes while pulling back with your arms. Again, they don’t cross your body, instead they are led backwards by the triceps. As you power up onto your toes your second leg is starting to come forwards and as the front arm is going backwards so too the second one is coming forwards.
Keep your head in a neutral position with your gaze two or three steps in front of you. Don’t look at your feet – it’s too late they are already going there! Your brain will have already clocked any hazards and programmed you to avoid them. Trust it. It knows what it’s doing.

Relax, breathe, maintain good posture, talk to yourself, your walking buddies or the dog and enjoy the next 40 to 45 minutes!

Step 5: Warm Down and Stretch

Maintaining the same good posture and walking form, gradually bring the pace down for the last 5 to 10 minutes of the walk so that you are back to daisy picking for the final stage.

Post exercise stretching is extremely important and hugely under-rated but I firmly believe that as long as you are disciplined and do your stretches relatively close to the end of your exercise (within an hour or so) they don’t need to be immediately after if you feel uncomfortable doing them in public, are getting cold or someone has put the coffee on.

I often close my classes with the advice to go somewhere “less smelly and more comfortable to stretch” – the shower, the coffee shop, the train, the office. Anywhere you like as long as you do them. I really have laid on my office floor stretching while on a Skype call (and I wasn’t on my own!), I have seen people on the London Underground stretching next to their folding bikes and I have drunk my coffee outside a bar while my cycling buddie lay on the payment to stretch her hips.

Wherever you stretch, these are the static ones. The ones that you hold, the ones that should never ever be done before exercise but so sadly often are (just put an elastic band in the freezer then stretch it and you’ll soon understand).
You need to focus on stretching the hamstrings and calves (all the way down the back of the leg), the glutes (three sets of muscles in your bottom), the hip flexors, the triceps (back of the arms) and the shoulders.

Step 6: make a diary date for your next walk

The Power of Strangers

Many of you who have been members of the LiL Runners Facebook group, before its superb transformation into LiL Wellbeing, Health and Fit...