Running has many advantages: you only need a pair of good shoes and in our climate something to protect you from the sun.

Running gives you ‘you’ time, help to de-stress while getting fit, and improves many physical and mental processes in your body (I am not going to list them here!).

7 Tips to make your running last:

1. Use real running shoes, preferably specifically for your body and gait. Go to a specialist for your first pair. Good running shoes help prevent injuries so you can keep running and not lose your newly built up fitness.
2. Just start running; create the new habit before you splurge on expensive running gear. You don’t need it and it’s much more fun to reward yourself – so set small goals: “if I run 3 times per week for a month I’ll get that shirt”, “for my first 20 min non-stop running I get myself a ….”.
3. Start slowly: you really don’t need to run every day. Give your body and yourself a chance to get used to running. Your body needs to recover to built muscle, but plan your next run before you are fully recovered. When you are just starting running 2 or 3 times per week is great. Make it work for you.
4. Mix it up: walk/run. There are many apps which will help you with that. Plan what you will do before you leave.
5. Keep it fun. Your running is just that: your running. You don’t have to compare yourself or accomplish anything, other than to feel that running benefits you.
6. Do you want more fun? Run with others: it will keep you accountable, provides support and it will distract you when you are going through your built up phase. And when you are getting fitter and stronger it gives you the comradery of achieving goals together.
7. Set a bigger goal with a reward. Plan a local 5 or 10 km race, or set a date that you will run around your local lake without stopping. Imagine how you will feel when you reach that goal. On the days that it’s hard to motivate yourself, or running feels like wading through sirop, bring up these feelings of achieving that goal (or getting the reward!) to get you through.
Every year in February we start with a new beginners group at our Run Club, but we welcome beginners throughout the whole year. We will always keep the group together while catering for all levels of running and focusing on individual goals. You are very welcome to give it a try.

Summer in West-Australia: temperatures can reach easily to over 40 degrees. Running doesn’t feel that great in these circumstances – so how do we keep our fitness up without running in air-con on a treadmill?

Running in the heat costs more effort and you will feel that. For every 5 degrees above 12 degrees Celsius marathon times increase with 1.5 to 3 %. Heat makes us dehydrate, increase our heart rate and decreases blood circulation (and with that less oxygen) to our running-muscles. Our bodies are working overtime to lose all that heat: we sweat or evaporate a lot of liquid and essential minerals with that.

What is the remedy? A lot of training! Through training the amount of liquid in our blood increases which makes it easier for our body to keep cool. Getting used to the heat helps as well. In the beginning of summer it is often hard to run a good race. A few weeks into the heat it will already be easier to maintain a certain pace. Your blood plasma increased, your body is more effective in its sweat production, the concentration of salt in your sweat decreases because your body becomes more effective in holding on to it and your heart rate will increase less than in the beginning of summer.

On a hot day it is wise to adjust your expectations of how you will perform. Rather than increase the length of a run or the amount of interval repetitions it is better to focus on exercise intensity and listen to your body’s signals. Use electrolytes in your water (wear a water-belt/camel back or bring a handheld bottle), try to avoid direct heat by wearing a hat, run in the shade and use water to bring your body temperature down.

As few easy workouts that I did last year on a little Thai beach during my holiday with my daughter. If you are not sure about an exercise check YouTube for examples.

Workout 1

As I didn’t bring my running shoes (I’m traveling with only a small backpack) I can only run on the beach, but you can do this anywhere of course.

Warm-up jog: 5-10 min. Pick 2 landmarks: you will run your intervals between them – mine where around 150 m apart. Run 1 way, walk 15 m back, jog, walk the last 15 min. Repeat 6-8 times.

As the distance is short keep your running tempo up – but comfortable. You should not be sprinting. If you are running on the beach keep your weight even more in the front of your feet and your steps a bit smaller. Remind yourself to keep lifting your knees every time you start.

Jog back, have a swim & stretch. Total time 30-40 min.

Workout 2

Warm-up 5-10 min

Mainly core and glutes today. Set a repetitive timer on 25 sec and work your way through this list for 5 times, switching between exercises as fast as you can.

Overhead sit-ups, plank-ups (from elbow plank to hand plank etc), glute bridge (on your back, heels against your buttocks and keep pushing your hips up, squeezing your glute muscles), supermans (on belly, stretched out arms and legs, lift both arms, hold a few sec, lift both legs, hold few sec – or arms and legs at the same time) and a static plank (on elbows, bum down).

This should take you 20-25 min including your cool-down & stretches.

Workout 3

Warm-up: 10-20 min swim (or jog if you are not near water)

Repeat 3x:

20 squats, 10-15 min walking lunges (total), 20 tricep dips

Repeat 3x:

40 oblique crunches (both elbows alongside 1 knee, then other side), 40 kites (as on picture, alternating sides)

Cool-down swim or jog or walk & stretch.

This shouldn’t take you longer then half an hour.


If you still see exercise as an optional extra, not a health essential, science is finding more reasons to change your mind – including new research that suggests strong muscles are good medicine.

One of the most compelling findings of recent years is that muscles are actually a huge secretory organ and when we exercise them they release hormone-like chemicals that have a major influence on every system of the body, says Rob Newton, Foundation Professor of Exercise and Sports Science at Western Australia’s Edith Cowan University.

The effects of these chemicals – called myokines – include reducing the low level inflammation in the body thought to contribute to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s – and possibly working as tumour suppressants.

“Some studies have found that extracting blood from exercising humans and adding it to cancer cells in test tubes slows the rate of cell reproduction,” he says. “In a study of mice, the growth of breast cancer cells was halted in mice that exercised, while the cancer continued developing in mice that were inactive.”

This may be one reason why exercise appears to help reduce the risk of some cancers and improve survival in people with cancer.

“Some types of exercise, including strength training, also produce a surge of the hormone testosterone which helps sharpen thinking and memory,” he adds.

Then there’s the effect of exercise on mitochondria, the little energy ‘factories’ in our cells – when you exercise your body makes more mitochondria – and the more you have the more you can do.

“But when you’re inactive, the numbers of mitochondria decline so it gets harder to do things,” Newton explains. “If you become ill when you already have fewer mitochondria it’s harder to recover.”

Examples like these show why an exercise habit is like a pill that boosts energy, strength and improves resistance to disease, he says – and if we want to reduce the risk of inactivity-driven diseases like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s, we need a regular dose all the way from childhood to old age.

Childhood and adolescence – fighting inactivity

It’s not just grownups who’ve been forced into inactivity by 21st century lifestyles. When did you last see a toddler walking in a shopping centre? It’s more common to see toddlers and even older children sitting in strollers or shopping trolleys and it’s easy to see why – wheeling little kids around is more convenient than walking at their pace. Yet if you check Australia’s latest Physical Activity Guidelines, spending long periods in car seats and strollers isn’t on the to-do list – ‘all children (birth to 5 years) should not be sedentary, restrained, or kept inactive, for more than one hour at a time, with the exception of sleeping’ is the advice.

“Once I would have said that it’s in the teens when children leave school that physical activity declines, but kids are becoming less active at younger ages,” says Newton. “Screen time is up but there are also other factors including concerns about litigation or safety that lead to limits on what children are allowed to do – like banning monkey bars or even lunchtime sport in some schools.”

And although we hear a lot about kids needing calcium for strong bones, only physical activity will build bone, he adds.

Ironically, among the tips for bone and muscle building moves for 5 to 12 year olds from the Physical Activity Guidelines is … climbing or swinging on monkey bars and climbing frames. Other suggestions are games like tug o’ war (tugging is great for muscle) and hopscotch (jumping is good for bone), along with dance, gymnastics and martial arts

Prime time for bone growth is childhood, adolescence and young adulthood – getting as much bone in the ‘bank’ between now and 30 is a hedge against the gradual bone loss that starts after 40.

20 to 50 – Exercise boosts performance

Because these are peak years for building careers and families, time is often short – but being physically active helps mind and body work better, improving productivity, Newton says.

“If you say, ‘I’ve got kids – there’s no time to exercise’, it’s worth remembering that you won’t be much good for your kids if you have a heart attack.”

While aerobic exercise to prevent heart disease is important, we also need two to three sessions of strength training a week, he says.

“Doing aerobic exercise like walking, running or cycling and ignoring strength exercises is like remembering to change the oil in the car regularly but ignoring the transmission fluid.”

50 -65 Disease-proofing for better health

An exercise habit now will help stave off chronic diseases that can blight older age.

“If you’re planning to travel in retirement but get to 65 with problems like overweight, arthritis and muscle loss it won’t be so much fun,” says Newton, stressing that conserving muscle and bone with strength training helps head off frailty further down the track.

Walking is terrific for helping prevent cardiovascular disease but does nothing for building muscle or bone.

“Regular strength training also provides muscles with a built-in repair kit. It causes satellite cells attached to the outside of muscle cells to proliferate and donate nuclei to muscle tissue, allowing new cells to grow and repair – so even though you’re older, muscles are still strong and tuned for repair and growth.

“Exercising muscle also helps control blood glucose levels – if you have low muscle mass you can’t control blood sugar levels so well and this increases diabetes risk.”

60 plus – getting with the strength.

You’d think that the generation most likely to pick up weights are 20 or 30-somethings doing CrossFit, but strength training now has considerable traction with the over-60s, says Newton. Many have joined Living Longer, Living Stronger – a national program of strength training classes to reduce age-related decline and improve health.

“It doesn’t have to be strength training at the gym – it can be gardening if there’s lifting and digging involved. The number one reason people go into dependent care is frailty – this is the age group with the most to lose if muscle strength dwindles, but a lot to gain if they can slow muscle loss down.”

I came across numbers indicating that almost 56% of runners suffer from iron deficiency. This will definitely influence the way runners perform and feel during and after their training or a race. The main symptoms are fatigue and shortness of breath. You can see the dilemma here: tiredness and shortness of breath go hand in hand with training and racing.

I have done a bit of research and learned a few things about iron and zinc which I will share with you here. I am definitely not an expert or a nutritionist so always check before you start taking supplements, get your iron levels checked and talk with your doctor. If you want to find out more via Google, make sure the articles are scientific rather than ‘popular’ and not older than 6 years or so. Here we go:

The average adult stores between 1 – 3 mg of iron in her/his body. We lose 1 mg/day through sloughing of cells from skin and mucosal surfaces, including the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Women lose a lot of iron during their menstruation (2 mg/day), and runners lose iron through the micro tear damage occurring with impact sport. In my opinion female (vegetarian) runners should be non-stop on a good quality supplement, unless they feel full of energy or have medical reasons not to.

When taking iron you have to make sure you are not taking it together with zinc. Zinc is however an important participant in the absorption of iron. Zinc and iron have many similar absorption and transport mechanisms and compete for absorption. Iron will still be absorbed but zinc levels will not improve. (The downside of a multivitamin is that there are a few ingredients counter affecting other ingredients.)

Almost 2/3 of the iron in our body is in our haemoglobin (red blood cells). Simply said iron is required for oxygen to travel to all our cells, which makes it a vital mineral, as oxygen provides the fuel that runs our body and its systems.
Zinc is important for cell division (growth and repair), our metabolism, immune system, genetics, and our mood. Zinc is required for proper taste and smell, normal growth and development and it has antioxidant properties and helps destroy free radicals that may contribute to aging, heart disease and cancer.

Both iron and zinc deficiencies have adverse consequences for human health. Iron deficiency results in anaemia, impaired psychomotor development, reduced physical and work capacity, impaired immunity and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Zinc deficiency is associated with fertility reduction, poor pregnancy outcomes, liver disease, kidney disease, sickle cell anaemia, diabetes, mental and behavioural changes, impaired immunity and increased morbidity and mortality.

When your iron levels get tested doctors are generally happy if they are between of 20– 50 ug/l. However, when the iron level in your blood is around 30 it can still feel as if you are hit by a train at the end of the day. 50 Is a lot better. However to perform optimally your level should be 120 ug/l!

To increase absorption iron is best taken on an empty stomach 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals. You can take it with a glass of water and it’s suggested to take vitamin C to support absorption. Iron supplements can cause stomach cramps, nausea and sometimes diarrhoea. In that case you might need to take iron with a small amount of food to avoid this problem.

Calcium (diary), zinc and anti-acids should not be taken at the same time as iron supplements. You should also avoid high fibre foods such as whole grains and raw vegetables and caffeine. Some medication might not work as well with iron, and should be taken 2 hours after the iron as well.

Iron levels returns to optimum between 2-6 months of iron therapy for most people. You should continue taking supplements for another 6-12 months to build up the body’s iron stores in the bone marrow. Ideally you should try and reach a level between 90-120 ug/l.

Taking too much iron is dangerous. The body produces a hormone to regulate the absorption of iron and if this system is compromised people will experience symptoms as explosive abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting. Additional symptoms include irritability and lethargy, an increase in heart rate, breathing and blood pressure, a yellow skin color, organ damage, shock and coma. So: best to get your blood levels tested and convince your doctor that you want the quality of your life to be way above ’30-ish’.

On a personal note: I have been taking a good quality iron supplement for years now, as I am a (mainly) vegetarian female runner. Recently my levels where tested in a routine test and my doctor recommended I should ‘start an iron supplement’ as I was around 30. Stating that I already was, the only advice she could give me was ‘well, don’t stop then’. She didn’t ask if I felt energetic, what sport I did and if I was a vegetarian.
As I was used to taking my iron with all my other supplements with my breakfast, which often contains calcium, it probably didn’t get absorbed that well. For the last few weeks I am taking my iron as soon as I get up, with some water and a 1mg vit C tablet, to have breakfast at least an hour later. I am still feeling tired, but less in my muscles and I have noticed that my breathing is easier and deeper when I run. So: fingers crossed.

I hope that helped.

During the first month you will create the habit of exercising and your body will adjust to your new self-care. You will start feeling the difference.
During the next 4 weeks your family and close friends will start noticing that ‘something is different about you’.
You are feeling stronger, sleeping better and have increased energy and a better mood. Your clothes start to feel loose.
In the third month even acquaintances will ask you what you have been doing – ‘you look so good’. You really enjoy exercising now – you can’t imagine your week without it. You feel great, in charge, fit and healthy. Time to revisit your goals!

If you want to cut down on wheat you will inevitably get confronted with ‘what about lunch’? This is an easy recipe for crackers made out of oats. They are chewy to give you the ‘bread experience’ and you can put the same stuff on as with bread. They are also great with home-made dips.

You need: 100 gr grounded nuts (any), 100 gr rolled oats, 40 gr graded cheese and 2 eggs.

Preheat the oven on 180 degrees. Mix the oats, nuts and cheese, add the eggs and knead. Roll the mix between 2 sheets of baking paper, transfer to a lightly oiled baking tray. If you like you can pre-cut the crackers-to-be, so it is easier to break them off later.

Bake them in the middle of the oven for 20-25 min, cool, break and store in the fridge in an air-tight container (for more than a week).

For more variation you can experiment with different nuts, different cheese (goat), substituting a part of the nut/oat mix with seeds (pumpkin, flax, sesame, chia…) and sprinkle seed over the top before you bake them.

We can’t go without ‘sugar’ as it gives us the energy we need. Professor Cynthia Kenyon from the University of California, a leading scientist in the field of molecular biology is determined that a healthy diet contains low glycemic carbohydrates.

No desserts, no sweets, no potatoes, no rice, no bread, no pasta. Or very little. Eating these foods shorten our lives. Not eating them makes us slim, feel good and full of energy.

An alternative for bread are oats. The pasta and rice etc can be replaced with an extra portion vegetables, legumes or mushrooms. Sugar itself can be replaced with stevia, or better: wean yourself of it.

Scientific research with a group of 1800 people over 10 years, showed that if we drink at least 3 times per week freshly squeezed fruit or/and vegetable juice, we reduce our risk for Alzheimer’s disease with 76%, compared with people who drank it less than 1 time per week.

People who only drank juice twice a week reduced their risk with only 16%. It shows that certain health intervention reaches its maximum potential when the intervention becomes regular.

The conclusion was: fruit and vegetable juices can play an important role in delaying Alzheimer’s, especially with people who are at a high risk developing this disease.

(Source: Fruit and vegetable juices and Alzheimer’s disease, The American Journal of Medicine, 2006)