As the weather starts to warm up there are a few practical things we can do.
Put on your sunscreen.
There are sunscreens specifically for runners and walkers that stay on sweaty skin. I use my ordinary factor 50 sunscreen as I know it suits my skin, but it does sting if it gets in my eyes! Don't forget to put it on your ears if they are exposed, they are a prime site for sun damage skin cancer.
Wear a cap / hat
It's a good idea to wear something on your head to protect your scalp and your eyes. It also helps to shade your face, you can get caps with neck covering too, great if you are on a longer trek.
I have very thick hair so I prefer a visor so that the heat dissipates but I still get the eye protection.
Prescription or ordinary sunglasses keep the glare off your eyes and help to protect them, it's worth investing in a pair if this is an issue for you.
Most of us wear moisture wicking clothing as it's comfortable, but it also does a really good job of moving the moisture away from your skin to the surface of the clothing to allow it to evaporate and help keep you cool. It is tempting to wear a vest top, but often a T-shirt is better if you are going to be out longer, to give more protection to your skin.
Remember to take water, or your preferred electrolyte drink with you, even on short runs and walks. It is really important to stay hydrated even on cooler days, making sure you regularly top up through the day is important too.
The first sign of dehydration is thirst, ideally you should be drinking regularly enough not to get to the point of feeling thirsty. Fatigue, dry eyes, dry mouth, cramps, headache and muscle spasms are also signs of more serious dehydration and it can ultimately can lead to heat exhaustion and possible hospitalisation or worse.
I can't stress enough how important it is to keep well hydrated, but don't over do it. This is a good article about dehydration
After you've been out you'll need to cool down, it is tempting to jump in to an ice cold shower, but the shock can be quite extreme, so go cool rather than icy! Having something cold to drink is also great, an ice lolly or a ice-pole are my favourite ways to reduce my temperature! Read more about cooling down here
Use the shade
If possible plan your sessions to make the most of the cooler times of day, or take the shady paths. Depending on the time of day, wooded areas can be a haven of cool, or can hold on to the daytime heat and feel stuffy. This will be trial and error, you know your local paths the best, so experiment and find your best "hot day" routes.
Does sweat drip into your eyes? A layer of Vaseline or similar put across your eyebrow line, starting on one side near to your ear and continuing across to the other ear will help direct sweat away from your eyes.
Dampen your cap and pop it in the freezer for a short time before you go out, it gives you a nice cool head to start with.
Take a light jacket for after your run in case you cool down too quickly once you stop.
Will the heat affect my times?
In brief, yes, it probably will!
Your body is having to work hard to cool you down, producing sweat and sending your blood to your skin to cool down.
Your muscles also need that blood for oxygen and energy, so your heart and lungs are working extra hard to do that too.
It takes around two weeks to get used to the heat. In this country we rarely have the time for our bodies to acclimatise as we have such a huge variance in our weather, hot one day, rain and a chilly wind the next! So be kind to your body, a heatwave is not the time to be trying to set any records.
Don't let the warm weather put you off going out, but be prepared. If it is going to be HOT and there are weather warnings about, why not wait for the temperature to drop a little.
At Happy Feet we do pay attention to the forecasts and will cancel groups if we feel it's going to be too hot.
Safety is paramount, and comfort too, we want to enjoy our running and walking and missing a session now and again is much better than struggling through and risking overheating!
Keep safe everone!
There is no doubt that Covid-19 has changed our lives.
There we were, pottering on, not really noticing the passing of the days, not really noticing how much freedom we had, then BAM! everything stopped.
Suddenly, many of us had time on our hands, it was a novelty, we painted fences, cut grass, weeded flowerbeds. For those of us who couldn't go to work it was quite nice, except we didn't have any of the freedom we'd taken for granted. That novelty soon started to wear off!
We were restricted to an hours exercise, and even those who'd never really thought about exercise before started to get out and walk or cycle or run. Some of us had to stay within the confines of our own homes as we had conditions that made us more vulnerable if we caught the virus.
Then there were the people who had to got to work, they had no choice but to brave the virus day after day, looking after those who were sick, caring for the vulnerable in their own homes, opening up the essential shops, clearing away our rubbish, keeping out streets safe, teaching the children of key workers, amongst many other jobs.
Working from home became to norm, some were trying to educate their children whilst taking conference calls, some were trying to move their businesses online to keep an income, to say it's been a challenge for most people is an understatement!
Sadly this virus has taken lives too, it has rampaged throughout the world, leaving heartache and devastation in it's wake.
But, the human spirit is strong, we have pulled together and we have shown how much we care about each other. We have volunteered, we have checked on our neighbours and some of us have met people in our streets that we didn't even know lived there!
At Happy Feet we have grown in to an even stronger community, we have offered each other support and motivation, we have checked up on those who have gone quiet and we have shared our highs and lows. We have celebrated milestones, Sharon's half marathon on her own, Pippa's 10k, Mary and Gill covering 67 miles each for their birthdays, Hollie's solo couch to 5k comeback....the list could go on and on.
We have discovered hidden talents too...who knew we had a brilliant ukulele player in our midst, Steve's songs have really cheered us up!
Challenge Tuesday has brought us all together on one day of the week to run, walk or cycle as far as we can as a team, knowing that we aren't alone has really helped. We haven't all been able to participate on a Tuesday for a variety of reasons, but the cheers form the sidelines really do help!
We have had quizzes and photo challenges, Caitlin and Mary have been instrumental in those, they are determined to keep our minds active too!
As the restrictions start to ease and we can begin to venture back out in to the world, I hope that all the positives that have come from this awful time will stay with us, that we continue to say hello to our neighbours and look out for each other, that we allow ourselves the time to appreciate what we have.
Keep active and keep safe everyone, we aren't out of the woods yet!
My Lockdown Couch to 5k
Hello everyone..me again!!
Some of you may not know me, my name is Hollie and I have been a member of this remarkable running club since April 2018.
I had regularly been running in the Monday & Thursday night beyond groups and have also done the 5-10k course, resulting in doing the Worcs City 10k in 2018, which remains one of the best days I’ve ever had.
I also did up to 15k of the 10k-HM course last year. This is still, and will always be, the furthest I have ever run!
My last run before lockdown was with HF on Halloween. Since then “life” got in the way of getting out running - the usual winter coughs & colds, Christmas & mainly being crazy busy at work. I work as a buyer at Webbs Garden Centre, so at certain times of the year I don’t know whether I’m coming or going with lots of travelling, visiting showrooms and trade shows and have order deadlines to hit.
All through my break my aim was always to get back out for a run with HF. Although I was still connected to the group via Karen & Sharon & the FB page, I missed seeing everyone in the groups and being out & about running around our lovely city of Worcester.
My running kit was always ready & waiting in my car all that time..ready for the evening I finished work on time or I had enough energy to go or it wasn’t raining!
The New Year arrived and it crossed my mind to start the HF Couch to 5k course..but stupidly for someone who wasn’t running I felt doing that would be a backward step..so I continued not running!!
Fast forward to March and Covid-19 arrived. I was furloughed from my busy job & as I am a creature of habit, who thrives on routine and having structure - I knew I would have to create a new timetable & set myself some new goals. If I didn’t do this I would eat to excess & gain weight, never leave my house apart from doing my horse and I would go just a little bit crazy!!
Now was my chance to finally get my new Christmas trainers on and start Couch to 5k. If I started now I would be back up and running 5k ready to go back to the HF groups when restrictions were lifted.
Just getting out through the door to run on my own for the first few weeks was going to be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome, so I had to commit to doing this and make myself accountable by telling people I was doing it, so I told Karen & Sharon and also Marie & Rhi.
I’d got a full card of running credits, so I committed to using two of these a week and would top up when I ran out.
I also asked a couple of friends to join me, I thought we could FaceTime each other before each run, run separately and then check in after running, but despite initially being keen when it got to the first run neither felt up for it..so I was on my own.
I’d never done C25k before, so to make sure I didn’t do too much (!) and get injured, I downloaded the NHS C25k app and selected Jo Whiley as my virtual coach. I also pulled together a running playlist to listen to.
I decided to start each running week on a Tuesday, to allow me to participate in the HF Challenge Chuesday, which would be another reason to get out through the door.
Weeks 1-4 went really well, made up of a series of walk-run intervals which built up the running time gradually and at the end of each session I was feeling like I could have done a bit more, which I took as a good sign. I guess I still had some residual fitness from previous running and from being active doing horsey stable work!
These early weeks allowed me to explore the area around where I live & discover a lot of lovely new places to walk & run that before Lockdown I didn’t know existed.
Thank you Lockdown!!
The 3rd run of week 5 was to run for 20mins, with no walk breaks...this was the first time I felt worried about not being able to complete a session. I’d not run for that long non-stop for a long time! I was also starting to get a bit deflated that the end of my runs were getting harder, mainly due to the fact that to get home I had to run uphill...the joys of living in beautiful Malvern!
But after some encouragement from Marie & Caitlin on Strava, on Sunday Runday l planned a route that would hopefully finish somewhere on the flat. I put on my HF t-shirt and while I was procrastinating on my couch I took a scroll through my Strava & looked at all the runs I’d previously done & reminded myself of what my legs & I had achieved before; 15k - my longest ever run, Race for Life, Worcester City run and a few other 10k’s..so running for 20mins should be fine, shouldn’t it?!
I did my HF stretches, fired up my playlist & off I went & loved it, the first run that I actually felt like I was a runner again!
When Jo told me I had “just” 5 mins left to run the song playing was Journey’s “Don’t stop believing” and it was just what I needed to hear. Then at 2 mins to go, when I was really struggling to keep the legs moving it was John Mellencamp & “Hurts so good”....Too true..push on through the pain!!
Music is a huge part of my life and there’s hardly a minute goes by that I don’t have the radio on and I have now realised the benefit of having it with me on my solo runs. Having a playlist that is far longer than I will ever run for means that if I play it on shuffle I don’t get used to which song is coming next, or how far through a run I am. It has helped me push through in the absence of friends to chat to to pass the time & take my mind off the fact that I’m running.
The trouble comes when I try to sing along..it interferes with the breathing a bit!!
Run 3 of Week 7 has to be my biggest achievement of the course. Not because of distance, pace, or conquering hills..but just due to the fact I actually got myself out through the door & ran! The Lockdown blues had finally got to me..it was a chilly day & I’d had one of those days where I’d spent most of the day under a blanket on the sofa. I couldn’t get warm no matter what I did, I’d eaten rubbish all day, but I knew I had to get out & run TODAY..I couldn’t put it off as this was run 3 of the week & it was Sunday.
I eventually got out from under my blanket, but it was all I could do to get changed into my running gear as I just could not stop shivering!! I so very nearly didn’t go.
But, I put my trainers on & did my warm-up (literally) stretches up & down my lounge & started to feel a bit better.
In went my earphones and I started my playlist. Now, the song that played as I stepped out of my door wouldn’t be an obvious choice to go on a running playlist, however at that moment it was just what I needed to hear..Céline Dion’s “I’m Alive”!!
I put one foot in front of the other & off I went. For the remainder of the session my playlist threw up some real gems & got me around..some Greatest Showman, some Witney & some Little Mix to name a few.
Week 7 - Done - Thank you for the Music.
Week 9 soon arrived..the final week!! According to the app by the end of this week I would be able to run 5k in 30mins..from previous experience and current performance this was rather ambitious! So I thought I’d follow the app for the first 2 runs and run for 30 mins, then for the final run I’d run for 5k, however long that took me!!
My planning hadn’t taken into account that my graduation run would be during the hottest week of the year so far (!) so I got up early to run early morning to beat the heat.
However, I had planned my route to make sure I had plenty of shade to run in, but of course, by switching from running in the evening to a morning run, the sun was in a different place and the shady places I was used to were now sunny places...Oops!
Apart from this my run went really well..I’d made a different playlist for graduation, featuring obviously the very best songs, the ones that always kept me going & inspired me, which as ever they did this time.
In the end I actually ran 5.5k as at the point my watch notified me that I’d completed the distance I also got a text message notification, so that cancelled out my distance alert, so I didn’t know how far I’d gone!!
I had planned my run to finish outside the playing fields of my old secondary school, in my own way a show of defiance to the PE teachers and athletic types who hadn’t encouraged or helped me and who had made me feel like running wasn’t for me all those many years ago.
When I finished I felt elated and although I’d run 5k & beyond before this meant so much to me in that I’d done it all myself, I’d kept to my schedule, I’d not missed a run or had to repeat any weeks. Even the fact that I’d had to walk out of my door in my running gear was a big deal to me & I’d done it. I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so committed & determined about completing anything before.
As I was so happy & ordinarily would celebrate C25k graduation with Happy Feet I thought I’d do a live FB post to the group to talk to somebody, about what I’d done.
Thanks to everyone who watched..apologies for the sweaty, red-faced, emotional mess!!
So now my C25k “journey” is over and the next challenge is to keep going out 3x a week without the driver of needing to complete the weekly runs to finish the program.
But the incentive to get back out with Happy Feet remains & Challenge Chuesday will still be my first run of the week.
Throughout Lockdown, Happy Feet has been a shining example of an organisation who genuinely cares for its members at such an uncertain and worrying time and I thank Marie & Rhi and all the members for being so supportive to everyone in the club, wether they are currently running, walking, cycling or even taking a break.
Thank you x
Happy Feet Blog – It’s All in the Mind! By Pippa
It’s no secret that I have struggled with running over the years. Well, when I say struggled with running, it’s really my mind that I have struggled with. You see, it keeps putting barriers in my way, which I have previously struggled to get over. But things are beginning to change….! and mostly thanks to my Happy Feet family!
I first joined Happy Feet in April 2016 when I did my first Couch to 5k course. After graduating from C25K in June 2016, I thought it would be a great idea to challenge myself with a distance – so I stupidly signed up for the Worcester City 10K! Well, I now know it was a stupid thing to do, but I get these wild ideas!
So, increasing the training, I began to feel it a little in my right knee, but just put it down to running further and aching! I need to listen to my body! I did run the 10k, in a respectable time of 1hr13 mins (what I wouldn’t give to be able to run it in that time now!), but sadly, I had hurt my knee and didn’t run again until January 2017. In truth, I have struggled to get back to running properly since then!
Happy Feet have always been there when I have struggled and as always, I have never been left behind! No one ever is! And that is what I love about the group! Everyone is included – even if I do run the speed of a tortoise!
As a lot of you know, in January 2018, my youngest, William (then 3) was diagnosed with Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM)
(https://www.encephalitis.info/acute-disseminated-encephalomyelitis-adem). It was a day I will never forget! When you are told that your normally vibrant and bonkers child could end up in a wheelchair for the rest of his life! It floored me and I spent 9 long days on Riverbank Ward with him! However, he has amazed us all and made a full recovery – well as normal as a 5-year-old can be! But this time led me to find the Encephalitis Society as a source of information and support. I wanted to give
something back! So, one of those lonely nights in hospital, I signed up for the Great Birmingham 10K that May! Yeah, great idea at the time!!
So back into training I went! And I did do the 10K! It was very warm – about 26 degrees! No chance of beating any times! Just glad to have got to the end! And I raised over £200 for the charity!
In January 2019, I started my second C25K course! I realised I needed to get back to basics and start again. I graduated in March 2019 and then ran Blenheim 7k at the end of April. Again, raising money for The Encephalitis Society!
And things seemed to be going well – back to the beyond groups and even starting 5-10k training in July with a view to running the Worcester City 10k again! And then it all went wrong. Partly because of a foot injury, but I think mainly it was that mindset again! I just couldn’t believe in myself! I had to give up the running and focus on the physio exercises and get back to the point of being able to run again! This time, I actually did my physio exercises!! I was determined to run again!
And finally, the physio gave me the go ahead to start slowly! So I signed up for my THIRD C25k course! And I seemed to struggle with it again! Thanks to Sharon encouraging me, I managed to run for 35 minutes and started to believe that I could do it after all!
And then, just as we were due to graduate, Coronavirus hit and lockdown happened! No graduation for me. No running with the group…by my usual efforts, I should have given up…but I didn’t!
Something had changed! I actually believed in myself! And on graduation day, I went and ran 5k on my own…! And now I can actually call myself a runner!