As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, we chatted to Rob Brown, our Head of IT, about his passion for ultra-running and the benefits it has on his physical and mental wellbeing.
We all know life can be stressful at times and the constant work/life juggle can sometimes feel very overwhelming. That’s why we need time out for ourselves – a moment to simply empty our minds and hit the reset button. For me, that moment is found in ultra-running.
For those who don’t know, an ultra-runner is someone that runs off road and over very long distances, whether it be a coastal footpath or up a mountain!
I fell (quite literally!) into ultra-running in 2019, just before the pandemic and have since run several ultra-marathons, from 50-100km. It’s no easy task but the sense of achievement after finishing is immense.
So, in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Week, I thought I’d share my top tips to fuelling a training regime:
- Have a read into some training guides before you start. Don’t forget that each person is built differently, so what works for one person may not work for another. You can find a training guide on my website.
- Make time to train. I like to run before work as it sets me up for the rest of the day, although it does mean a 5am start! Getting out on the trails in the evening clears your mind and helps you to relax which often makes me sleep better.
- A healthy balanced diet is key. How you balance your meals depends on your training plan and your body. On a typical training day, I eat natural yoghurt with berries and granola for breakfast. Lunch is a chicken salad with a boiled egg for protein and a small amount of cheese, finished with a low-fat yoghurt. For dinner, I love grilled salmon with boiled potatoes or pasta and spinach.
- Don’t be afraid to try some new recipes. One of my favourite cookbooks is Anita Bean’s ‘Fuel Winter Training’ – she knows a thing or two about fuelling athletes! A good balance of protein and carbohydrate is key – protein repairs the muscles and carbs give you the energy.
- Energy balls are underrated. Your body only has enough fuel for about 1.5 hours’ worth of exercise, so if you’re planning on running longer than that, you’ll need to start fuelling your body before your energy stores deplete. I’m always happy to share the recipe for my homemade energy balls!
- Get yourself hooked on a good podcast. One of my favourites is The Way of the Runner by author and runner, Adharanand Finn. If you’re not a podcast fun, it’s also good to just enjoy the peace and quiet whilst taking in the scenery.
- All the gear and no idea! You’ll need a good pair of trail running shoes (I’d recommend Up and Running), hydration race vest, waterproof lightweight running jacket, a foil blanket and small medical kit. Harrier Running is a great place to start.
Exercising regularly can really help reduce stress, anxiety, improve sleep and just generally put you into a better state of mind and you don’t have to be an ultra-runner to achieve this.
If you want to learn more about trail running or have a question about starting your running journey today, you can visit my website or follow me on Twitter.