Thursday, 25 April 2013

Runner's poll: What's your favourite running app?

There are so many IPhone/Android apps out there that help you track and log your runs, your pace, your splits, your calorie consumption, your route, your longtime statistics and much more. With so much choice at your fingertips, it's hard to choose which one is the best.

Let's take a vote - what's your favourite running app? >>>

Fill in the form to your right and let's wait and see which one is the runner's favourite.
Happy voting!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Keep your cool in hot weather

© iStockPhoto
Even though I love summer and the hot weather I find running in the high temperatures very hard. The other day it was a nice, warm day (about 20 degrees Celsius) so I went out for a short 5K run after work along the Embankment pier and found it almost unbearable to run in the sun. The problem is simple: For the last six month I trained and ran in rain, wind and snow - I know how to prepare myself for that kind of weather. However, now everything is flipped upside down and I need to realign myself to keep a cool head.

Running in hot weather requires some preparation to avoid the risk of dehydration, heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.

I talked to some fellow runners and here I have gathered some tips on running in hot weather:

  • Keep yourself hydrated: Hydrate your body before, during and after exercise - take a water bottle with you. Drink to thirst or when your mouth feels dry. When your run is going to be longer than 30 mins, drink a type of sport drink that contains sodium and other electrolytes.
  • Wear light, breathable clothing & a hat: On hot days you should wear light coloured clothing that reflects the heat and help your body to cool down naturally. Wear synthetic fabrics instead of cotton as it will lock away moisture.
  • Choose your running time wisely: Run early in the morning (just after sunrise) or in the evening (before sunset) as these are the coolest times. Avoid running between 9am and 4pm. If you have to run in in-between the hot times, ensure to stick to shady or tree-filled pathways. Avoid roads and tarmaced pavements.
  • Wear sunscreen: Protect your skin with water-proof sunscreen (for fair skinned runners like me, take SPF 50 or above). There are sunscreens available for outdoor sports with a particular formula that sticks to your skin.
  • Splash cold water on yourself: If the heat starts to get to you, splash cold water on your head and body to help your body to cool down.
  • Listen to your body: If you start to feel faint, dizzy or you've stopped sweating, slow down or have a break and rehydrate. If your symptoms continue or worsen, sit or lie down in the shade.

Apparently it takes your a couple of days to get used to the hot weather. While your body is adapting, exercise less vigorously and take your heart rate as a guideline as it will rise more quickly even at low intensity workouts. 

Sunday, 21 April 2013

London Marathon 2013

Today I joined the 700,000 spectators on the streets of London to watch the 37,000 London Marathon runners tackle the ultimate 26.2 Mile challenge.

The marathon was kicked off at 9am from Blackheath this morning by the elite man and women runners, followed by the wheelchair race. The first runner crossing the finish line was Australia's Kurt Fearnley, claiming the win in the wheelchair race. Tsegaye Kebede won the men's race with a finishing time of 2:06:04 and Priscah Jeptoo took the lead in the women's race with a finishing time of 2:20:15.

After a brief minute's silence for the Boston bombings victims the marathon for amateur runners was kicked off at 10am. The dry weather conditions were ideal for a marathon, clear blue sky but overall temperatures remained mild. The atmosphere on the streets was exhilarating and joyful, despite the terrible events in Boston earlier this week. Runners and spectators alike showed solidarity by wearing black ribbons and putting up flags with dedicated messages.

I felt incredibly inspired by the variety of runners from all ages, nations and backgrounds - it gave me an immense motivation boost to train harder for my big run ahead in June. And if all goes well, I might be amongst those runners in London next year. Fingers crossed!

Click through my image sideshow below to catch a glimpse of today's event...

Friday, 19 April 2013

Only two days to go... - London Marathon Expo 2013

There are only two days to go to the annual London Marathon event and London town has been taken over by the running craze. Wherever you look runners are trying to squeeze in one last training run before the big day and spectators are out camping to catch the best spot close to the finish line at Buckingham Palace.

Yesterday, I went down to the London ExCel exhibition centre to have a look to see what the Virgin London Marathon Expo had to offer. Marathon Expos are pre-marathon events where running experts, race event organisers, charities and sports professionals from all around the world come together to exhibit their latest running gear & gadgets and provide runners with some last minute advice for their big day. Also, professionals from the industry offer talks on pacing, tapering, carb-loading and much more. The Marathon Expo is a must event for any runner in training.

The London Marathon Expo is on from Wednesday, 17th to Saturday, 20th April. Entry is free!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Tragedy unfolds at Boston Marathon

I would like to dedicate today's blog post to those runners and their families affected by the horrible tragedy at the Boston Marathon bombings.

Two explosions went off close to the finish line at the Boston Marathon event at about 14:50 Boston local time, killing three people and injuring many others. It is still unclear who was behind this attack and US authorities have launched a potential terrorist inquiry.

It was said that 375 Britons and 41 Austrians had signed up to take part in the race, according to the news luckily all of them remained unharmed. 23,000 took part in yesterday's race and it was watched by thousands of spectators.

The Boston Marathon is one of the six major annual running events and is usually held on Patriot's Day, a Massachusetts state holiday.

When I first heard of the news I was shocked and saddened. The images and videos of the scene describe a chaotic aftermath of what was meant to be a joyful event. My immediate thoughts went out to the runners who I knew would take part in this year's marathon.

As I turned to social media for updates I read many tweets that echoed my reaction of shock, horror and sadness. But also, I read about brave runners who ran to the hospitals to give blood and people helping online by retweeting information for victims on where to find help. In all this chaos and despair I found the running community coming closer together and helping each other when help is needed most. It made me proud to be a runner and be part of such a strong and relentless community.

Tonight's run I will dedicate to all those people affected by the tragic events and to those who have a long way of recovery ahead of them of the physically and emotionally scaring events.

Join in the conversation on Twitter with hash tag #BostonMarathon and #PrayersForBoston.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

The Sound of Music

My perfect day out running can only get better with the perfect tune in my ears. For me, music is not only a great motivator but it also helps to set my running pace. The key to a successful play list is to match the beat to your running pace. Be careful though, anything too slow or too fast might play havoc with your pace!

When I set up my play list I chose songs that have an upbeat feel to it and keep me going. I'm usually an indie music lover, but when it comes to running dance, pop, techno, reggae, Austro pop, anything with a good beat that makes me happy has to be on my play list. No matter what decade, guilty pleasure or not, as long as it makes me happy, I simply go for it!

So here I present my personal running music play list in the following order:

Calvin Harris - Acceptable in the 80's

Daft Punk - Around the world

Gorillaz - Dare

The Cure - Friday I'm in love

Blondie - Heart of Glass

Martin Solveig - Hello

The Bravery - An honest mistake

David Holmes - I heard wonders

Groove Armada - I see you baby

The Coral - In the morning

Depeche Mode - Just can't get enough

The Chemical Brothers - Let forever be

The Joy Formidable - Little Bimp

Erasure - A little respect

Crowded House - Locked Out

The Knack - My Sharona

Arctic Monkeys - Old Yellow Bricks

David Bowie - Rebel Rebel

Fatboy Slim - The Rockafeller Skank

Eminem - Without me

Extra track: Amerie - 1 Thing

Play time: 1hr 40 mins

My fellow runners, what do you say? Do you agree or disagree with my choice of songs? What favourite tunes do you jog along to? Share your perfect running play list with us!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Tips on how to keep up with your training on holiday

Soon holiday season emerges and many runners find it problematic keeping up with marathon training while being abroad. However, there is no need to worry, all it takes is a little planning and preparation before your departure.

For Easter I was off to Scheifling, my hometown in Austria, to reunite with family and friends over the bank holidays. Even so, I packed my running gear and shoes and fully intended to stick with my half marathon training.

Here are six tips I've put together that might help you to keep up with your training:

  1. Make the time: When going on holiday, the first thing that comes to mind is to sleep in, relax and think of nothing. However, when you're preparing for a big run, this is an indulgence you cannot really afford. Best thing to do is to compromise: Sleep in on two days, but get up early on the third. No excuses!
  2. Explore new territory: Being in a foreign country can be exciting and give you a huge motivation boost. Hidden treasures of cities and remote places can be best discovered on foot! Be sure to pack your GPS to ensure you'll find your way back.
  3. Research your routes: Before you leave, look online for running routes. Many runners track their favourite runs and post them online. With tools such as you can browse and download running routes beforehand.
  4. Forget about mileage, just run! - Of course it is important to stick with your set training plan, however, it might not always possible to keep up with high mileage sessions whilst being on holiday. Experts say consistency is more important than high mileage, so a short run is better than none!
  5. Check the weather forecast: Before you head off to the airport, check the annual average temperature and weather situation of your destination. For hotter territories, take shorts and light-fabric running tops. For colder areas, be prepared to bring along thermals, hat and gloves!
  6. Enter for local races: Check out local event calendars and sign up for running events that suit your training plan. It's a nice motivator, but don't go overboard!

My personal top tips for Scheifling


If you ever head to the small village of Scheifling for a break, here are my personal top tips:

Tip 1: The best running routes in town

Murrad'l Weg Lind to Unzmarkt

Distance: 5.1 km one-way
Characteristic: tarmaced roads and cycling tracks

Murweit'l Scheifling to Teufenbach

Distance: 5.3 km one-way
Characteristics: off-road through woods

Tip 2: Restaurants & Pubs

My favourite restaurant in town is Anni Rauchegger's restaurant, situated in the town centre of Scheifling. Annie offers the best home-made and traditional Austrian food from local produce away from home. I can recommend the Cordon-Blue with Pommes Frites, my mum's favourite.

Tip 3: Local activities & sports

Scheifling can cater for many types of sports such as cycling, swimming, hiking and skiing. In winter the next skiing areas are Grebenzen, Kreischberg and Lachtal, all of them about a 20 mins drive away.
In summer the local lake (Badeteich) can offer a refreshing and relaxing dip in cool water. Be sure to try one of the infamous Iced Coffees at Heli's bar right next to the lake.

Tip 4: Shopping & spas

If you feel retail therapy is what you really need, shopping city Fohnsdorf has a wide offer on shops, boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants and a cinema and is only about 20mins drive away. It also offers a number of sports shops if you did forget your running shoes at home after all.
The spa Aqualux is situated right opposite the shopping centre and is definitely worth a visit.

Last but not least, don't forget to take the time to enjoy your time away and relax!