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Raise the bar: a beginner’s guide to lifting weights

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

Want to give yourself a boost, physically and mentally? Follow this full-body workout

If you want to get stronger in body and mind, this beginner’s full-body workout is a good place to start. Our bodies want to be fit and strong, fast and powerful. It is just that in our modern-day lives, in which we spend the vast majority of our time sitting down, we aren’t living up to our potential. The benefits of lifting weights are endless. It strengthens your muscles and your bones, too. It reduces your chances of developing osteoporosis, something of which postmenopausal women are particularly at risk. Lifting weights supports all other types of training – running, cycling or swimming – by developing muscular strength.

Perhaps the most valuable benefit of resistance training, and the main reason I love it so much, is that lifting weights enables you to function better in everyday life. You can carry shopping, pick up your children, move furniture with ease. It helps make you healthier mentally, too: you become more confident and feel happier from the endorphins.

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Picture of the day: running through London’s Royal Parks

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

The public ballot to take part in the 2017 Royal Parks half-marathon opened today, with 16,000 places on offer. The event, which has become one of the UK’s most popular, is celebrating its 10th year. The 13.1-mile race, which takes place on October 8, covers Hyde Park, Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens

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Ron Hill: Running 19,032 days in a row? Maybe it’s time for a day off

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

Running legend Ron Hill has finally finished an unbroken streak that stretches over half a century

Even the greatest streak must, eventually, end. And Ron Hill has announced that, after 52 years and 39 days, he’s finally going to have a day off.

For those not steeped in the history of distance running, Hill, 78, is probably less a running legend than a brand name for some well-priced kit (though he sold the brand named after him in the early 90s, and now runs Hilly clothing). Yet he is undeniably one of the British all-time greats. In his heyday, he set world records at multiple distances (10 miles, 15 miles, 25km) and was the second man to break 2hrs 10min in the marathon (the first being Australian Derek Clayton). He ran in three Olympic games – Tokyo in 1964, Mexico City in 1968 and Munich in 1972. He won the European Championship marathon in 1969. In 1970, he won the Boston marathon – the first British runner to do so – and in July of the same year, won the Commonwealth Games title in Edinburgh.

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How to run: everything you need to know

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

Whether you are new to running or want to improve your pace, here’s how to get going

Running is a fantastic way to get fit. You don’t need much kit, you can do it anywhere (within reason) and it’s available to you all the time – you don’t need to wait for the gym to be open or a class to start; just go. You might think of it as a leg exercise, but it actually works most of the body. Running fast is also one of the quickest ways to burn calories; it’s an activity with a high “met rate” (calorie burn per kg of weight, per hour). Rowing is another good one; cycling is slightly lower.

People worry about injury and bad knees and so on, but it’s a myth that running is bad for you. With good trainers, and good technique, you should be OK. That said, an unprepared body lacking mobility is more likely to get injured, so make sure you stretch and do supporting exercises. If you’re very overweight, start small, with fast walking. And if you have health issues, take advice from a doctor.

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Why I run: ‘It’s painful and boring. Afterwards, you’re fully alive’

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

It’s probably only when I’m running that I properly observe the world

How to get started – and how to be a faster runner

• Why do you run? Tell us in the comments below

J Alfred Prufrock measured out his life with coffee spoons. I measure mine with footsteps. There is no digital gizmo involved, just my head. Sixteen hundred steps from the office will take me along Regent’s Canal as far as the Constitution pub. Whatever happens, I know I can count there and back as a run of sorts. 4,000 steps takes me to the wild dogs and pelicans at London zoo. 6,000 and I’m at the end of the towpath. 12,000 steps is a good run. Six miles. No inner monologue, no conversation with my running partner. Just counting.

It allows me to nurse my obsessive compulsions (I say hello to every coot along the way, touch the railings 10 times, run 100 steps on the spot at certain points) and to forget them. (Despite all the ridiculous ritual, my mind clears.)

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Making a splash: cold water swimming

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

There’s something for everyone at the cold water swimming championships at the lido in Tooting, south London: medals for the fastest, an award for the best hat and a mass jump-in in aid of Crisis, the homelessness charity

A day of cold blue therapy. Where volunteer marshals lined up more than 700 competitors for 114 races at intervals timed to the second. “Get in the water, get your shoulders under,” they said briskly and everyone did, briskly.

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How was your weekend running?

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

It’s never quite the things you expect to derail a training schedule that do so anyway. Anyone else been poorly? As always, share your triumphant PBs and injury woes below the line

Of all the things I half expect to derail a marathon training schedule – niggles or injuries, work/life balances issues, stitches, head not in the right place, etc, coming down with a nasty bug never seems to occur to me. Unfortunately that’s what happened to me last week, so while my weekend running has been fine, I did absolutely none last week. I haven’t taken that many days ‘off’ – if you can call lying listlessly and feverishly in bed watching box sets on the laptop ‘off’ – in years.

A few days on, I’ve regained the ability to run, but totally lost my voice. Not a problem for marathon training, though somewhat limiting my ability to parent (try telling a stubborn five year old to do something she doesn’t want to, without being able to do the “I really mean it now” voice …). I missed two hard mid-week runs, had to limit the length of my long run yesterday to 14 (should have been 19) but all in all, it’s probably not that bad a thing. At least my legs had a rest.

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Is it safe to take melatonin for jet lag?

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

The number of Americans taking the supplement has doubled in five years – but it is controversial and not available over the counter in the UK. So does it work?

Jet lag can be more than just an inconvenience for long-distance travellers. Arriving in a far-off destination where the time no longer matches your internal body clock can trigger insomnia, lethargy and reduced alertness. Which is hardly ideal if you are delivering an important presentation or trying to seal a big deal.

There is little surprise, then, that growing numbers of people are popping pills to counter the effects of jet lag. A government survey published last year found that 3.1 million Americans – 1.3% of the population – take melatonin supplements for jet lag and other sleep problems. Its use more than doubled in the US between 2007 and 2012.

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Dry January: the science behind a detox month – video

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

For many people the start of the year is a chance to recover from Christmas excess. But what are the benefits of an alcohol-free month?

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Picture of the day: a doorway to another world

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

The 2015 Marathon des Sables ladies champion Elisabet Barnes training in Lanzarote on a multi-day training camp. In February, Barnes will head to Costa Rica to take part in the 2017 Coastal Challenge, a multi-stage race that weaves in and out of the Talamancas along Costa Rica’s stunning coastline

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