As the second Running and Swimming Grid Challenge of the year draws to a close we thought it'd be a good time to pick the brains of our reisdent running expert, Shamira Naidu-Young, and swimming pro, Emma Hooton.
Whether you're new to running or swimming, are an exercise regular looking for ideas on how to switch things up, or haven't thought about either activity before and are interested in getting started - check out the advice our experts have learned from their own experience.
Run Like a Pro
1. Track your progress
"Tracking is a proven motivator - if you have a log of all your runs and times you can look back to see how much you have improved, as well as weekly and monthly totals. There are a whole host of apps and watches that can do this, but if tech isn’t for you a pen and paper also works. I know I'm obsessed with tracking all my runs and stats (I definitely have the mentality that if I don’t track it, it doesn’t count), and you don’t have to take it to that level but tracking your progress in whatever way suits you can really help!"
2. Try different routes
"I find when I'm on a new route I concentrate a lot less on the distance, time and how hard my run is. Explore some new routes, or even just try running one of your existing ones the other way round. It also helps to vary the distances. Variety is key!"
3. Run with a group
"Although it isn’t for everyone, running with a group can be a great motivator to get out for a run. If you've told the group that you're going then you're much more likely to actually turn up. Running with faster runners can also help improve your speed by pushing you to go faster than you would on your own."
4. Get the layers right!
"At this time of year especially, lots of people make the mistake of over-layering or wrapping up to warmly. A good tip is to dress as though it's 10°C warmer than what it actually is and to wear thin layers that you can take off and tie around your waist if needed. Technical materials are best as these will help wick away the sweat so you stay comfortable throughout the run. "
5. Invest in a good running belt or arm sleeve
"Especially if you run with your phone, a good running belt or arm sleeve is a must! Personally I couldn’t get on with an arm sleeve and my running belt has made all the difference; I know that my phone and keys are secure and as my belt is stretchy it fits to my body and stays in place even during long runs."
6. Set yourself goals
"It is so much easier to motivate yourself if you have a goal to work towards. For me I need to motivation of a race to really put the work in and but your goal can be about achieving a distance for the first time or knocking some time off your Personal Best, whatever that might be!"
"Don’t underestimate the importance of a cool down. Finish your run with a light jog or walk to bring your heart rate back down and then spend 5-10 minutes doing full body stretches. This will help you avoid injury and soreness the next day."
- Shamira Naidu-Young
Swim Like a Pro
1. Healthy Snacks
"Swimming regularly can see a big increase in your appetite. The cooler temperature of the water causes your body to lose heat, and release less of the hormones that would suppress appetite during and soon after exercise. Ideally try to eat within one hour of swimming as this is when your body needs essential nutrients to kick start the growth and repair process. However don’t fall prey to reaching for the vending machine sugary snacks, instead prepare nuts and seed mix that are brilliant source of healthy fats, fibre and vitamins. You could also have poached egg on toast or something similar for a fantastic protein hit, and choosing whole-wheat toast will give you those much needed complex carbs. Fan of an early morning swim? Try a banana or raisins as a pre-swim energy."
"The ambient air of indoor swimming pools combined with the humidity in the pool area prevents regulation of body heat, and can lead to dehydration whilst swimming. This in turn contributes to fatigue, and can be detrimental to swimming performance, not only physically but also mentally - affecting your focus, technique, judgement, and decision making. You should have at least 500ml of water to help you hydrate before exercise, and 250ml every 20 minutes whilst swimming. Continue to hydrate post-exercise to aid recovery too."
"Wearing a swimsuit can be daunting, but one way to feel confident is to focus on what you like most about yourself and distract from the bits you’d rather keep under wraps. Whether you’re an hourglass, pear-shaped, inverted triangle or athletic body type, Speedo’s range caters to all shapes and sizes. The collection has been designed using bust support, tummy control and clever visual detailing to leave you looking and feeling great - and they're easy to pick up from the Sports Centre reception, prices start from £20."
4. Keep it fun
"Whether you try a new stroke, bring swimming aids into your session or something else entirely it’s important to keep it fun. Setting a clear goal for what you would like to achieve short term for each session, and long term over the next month will help motivate you. Need some inspiration for keeping sessions varied? Check out the swimfit cards available on pool side which outline a whole session from warm up to main set and range from 10 to 120 lengths. Including swimming aids in your session can help you work on targeted areas and fine tune your technique. Don’t worry about having to buy your own – kick boards, pull buoys, and fins are all available from pool side at Warwick Sport."
- Emma Hooton