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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Race pace converter

Pheewwww! Two days ago I had a major scare. Of course I am exaggerating, but if you are a runner you will undestand what I mean.

So, what happened was I tried to look into my favorite online Run pace converter page. The one that I have been using for the past what seems like millions of years.

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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!



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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Εxercise may slow brain ageing

If you needed another reason to keep exercising until a ripe old age, look no further. Exercise may slow brain ageing by up to 10 years in older people, according to one study. Fortunately, running is one of the main types of high-activity exercise that reaps the maximum benefits.

A study led by neurologists at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine found that exercise in older people is associated with a slower rate of decline in thinking skills that occurs with ageing.

“Our study showed that for older people, getting regular exercise may be protective, helping them keep their cognitive abilities longer” said study author Clinton B. Wright, M.D., M.S., associate professor of neurology at the Miller School.

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The joy of cross country

I recently attended an England Athletics workshop led by AAC (Abingdon Athletics Club) coach Bernard Wilkins and one of the things he mentioned that struck a cord with me was the utmost importance of cross country racing for runners.

Why, I asked him. And his passionate answer focused mainly on the stability benefits, strengthening of leg muscles and trying to run a steady pace on uneven, challenging ground. Your legs simply work more than when you are running for the same time and pace on flat paved roads. It is about building strength, running economy and cardiovascular fitness at the same time.

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A run (or more) in the snow

Today was the fourth time this week that I went out to run in the snow.
After the serious snowfall of last Saturday and my Pisa marathon plans falling apart at the same time, I am taking these couple of weeks easy (it is the holidays after all!) . But I am  trying to run often, to keep my fitness levels up and be able to start strong with my new running goals!

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How to boost immunity

Τhis is not exactly a how-to post, despite its title. I really don’t know how to avoid those dreadful winter colds. That is my conclusion from the past month. I am currently recovering from the second cold in less than 30 days.
But if I want to survive through this English winter and be able to train at the same time, I really ought to do something asap to stay healthy for longer periods of time.
Fortunately, while attending a Nutrition workshop organised by Oxfordshire Sports Partnership, I posed the question to certified Sports nutritionist Gavin Allinson of and

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Pre-race tips, post-marathon

So, another Athens marathon is over. With a bang. For now, suffice it to say that my body simply crashed about a week before the race. A mild cold from Oxford was worsened during the flight to Athens and that was the end of any PB expectations despite a brilliant preparation.

I did manage to finish the marathon, though. I think that was a PB in itself, how I managed in three days to make myself fit enough to get to the start and then to the finish line.

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