Running boosts memory

It got a tiny mention in the Daily Telegraph a couple of weeks ago, but I thought it was a very interesting piece of information for all the students who are joining us on the runs organized by Oxford Brookes as part of the Brookes Active initiative. Going for a run could help students who are cramming for exams boost their memory, according to a study conducted by the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria and published in the journal Cognitive Systems Research.

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5 things to take away from the 43rd BMW Berlin Marathon

It was difficult to select what to write on my blog about the recent 3-day trip to Berlin to run the marathon. So many things happened in three days (including a race!).  But, also, the history of me coming to Berlin and how I ran my first marathon here together with my friend Angelike back in 2001, as she was filming bits and pieces for our documentary ‘Run Natasha run’, and how the city affected me back then, meant that coming back here was definitely going to be emotionally charged.

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Pacing for the 2016 Vitality Oxford Half

A very chilly pre-race pic.
A very chilly pre-race pic.

There is something special about running a race in your home town. Oxford has been my hometown for the past 6 years now. And I still love its quaint streets, historic buildings and green parks as much as the first day I arrived here.

No wonder I loved running the Vitality Oxford Half marathon on Sunday. With so familiar faces around, friends, family and runners from Oxford Brookes Uni and Headington RoadRunners, the support along my neighborhood’s streets (the new course passes through Old Marston and right in front of Oxsrad, my running club’s headquarters) was incredible.

This year I was lucky to be a pacer for the 2.15 group, so about half an hour slower than my current half-marathon time (much easier to control the pacing when you are running at about half an hour slower than capacity!). I did it in 2:14:52, eight seconds faster to help everyone get a PB!

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An easy run day

Easy run days differ depending on where you are at in your training phase and your level of fitness. Sometimes an easy run day means a no run day! These days an easy run day for me is a slow, really slow run of about 30 min long. A run where you can talk in paragraphs, as I like to say.

It gives my legs a chance to recover on the go, and mentally it means not having to push myself for a change. My legs are truly thankful a couple of days later!

I would say that as we grow older, our recovery runs should slow down more than the rest of our training. We simply need to have easier easy days if we are to recover better and cope with the demands of faster, foccussed training and everyday life.

Easy days are difficult to do if you are currently having a good run of demanding sessions. These might make you feel sort of invincible and instictively want to push the easy runs too. However, this is terribly wrong!

At Parkrun today. Tired but happy to just be there!
At Parkrun. Tired from a week’s training but happy to be there for an easy run with a friend.

The best way to do easy recovery days is to go run with a friend. Just enjoy the scenery and have a chat. It beats carrying a GPS and checking it all the time to make sure you are going as slow as required.

You will definitely feel better for it after only 30 minutes! Oh and post-run, don’t forget your stretches!



Dawn and Charmian’s first Parkrun ever!

Dawn (right) and Charmian had never run before last summer. Εver. Ten months ago they joined our beginners’ running group at Oxford Brookes University and together we started on a Couch to 5K programme. In March they completed their first Parkrun ever at Cuttslowe park in Oxford and since then three more! We just love being out there, overcoming ourselves.

When running turns social

During my recent trip to Greece, time was more precious than ever. I wanted to see my family and catch up with as many friends as possible, as well as introduce my home town to the children and put a few good runs in. How to do it all?

Well, running with friends was a good way to see a good few of them! And the good thing is we got to catch up with our news as we were running and after.

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Edlesborough to Ivinghoe: my favourite running route

Once in a while, we go to Edlesborough, a small, quiet, tidy village in Buckinghamshire, where my husband spent part of his childhood. Nothing much seems to happen in Edlesborough, which doesn’t take away from the perfection of the countryside that surrounds it. The Chilterns are not too far away and I have done some lovely runs over there.

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Lunchtime group running

Having a lunchtime running group at work is a win-win situation for everyone. That’s why seem to be growing in popularity, and that’s why I am a firm believer in them.

Companies and organisations need to recognize the physical and mental benefits for their employees and encourage them to take active lunch breaks a few times a week.

It has been almost a year since I started coaching and leading the two staff lunchtime groups at Oxford Brookes University and I can see how it has benefited our runners. Some of them had never run before, so we started from a walk to run 5k schedule and now (9 months later) we have graduated to doing Parkruns.

Oxford Brookes staff improvers' running group at the end of the session
Oxford Brookes staff improvers’ running group at the end of the session

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