Blog

First Half-Marathon (31/03/19)

Originally posted in April 2019 in a previous incarnation of my blog 

 

We did it!

The night before, I was so nervous I didn’t want to do anything at all.  I went to bed early knowing I would be losing an hour’s sleep as the clocks were due to go forward for British spring time.  I set my alarm for 6 a.m to allow time for a sensible breakfast (porridge and banana with a dollop of natural cashew butter) and to get the kids organised for my mum and dad who were bringing the kids to watch us, along with my sister and my niece.  On race day excitement took over. I just wanted to go and do it and I did!

It was challenging because although I have ran the distance before, I ran it on my own and allowed a couple of pauses for photo opportunities.  There was none of that for the real thing.  We kept up a constant pace.  Hubby and I crossed the line together (along with the kids) with a chip time of 2 hours and 28 minutes.  My fastest practice was 2 hours 20 mins but taking into account the slow start (while the people in front crossed the starting line) I think this could have been my fastest effort.  The jelly legs and achy body for the two days after was certainly worth it.

I loved the sense of community spirit the race brought with it.  People lined the streets of every town we ran through. We high-fived kids, people handed out jelly sweets and others cheered with such gusto that it was hard to believe they didn’t know you personally.  We even passed a couple of women with a horn and some bells.  It was also nice to see some familiar faces along the way.  A special mention should be given to our friends who gathered to cheer us on (loudest crowd, I’m proud to say) and even decorated the front of the house for the occasion.

a4a53bb6-af03-4d6c-bbd2-aad8acc20e26

I expected to feel total elation after the race, a heightened runners high, but that didn’t seem to be the case.  While people told us they were proud of us for doing it, I felt that I was more proud to be on the receiving end of all the love and support than to have been proud of myself for doing it.  I’m glad I did it and I wouldn’t be put off doing it again.  The community spirit was one of the best things about it though of course I am grateful to my feet for carrying me 13.1 miles.

Another thing of note is the amount of money we raised for charity.  We chose to run for SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) and at last check, we had raised £535.  I was blown away by the support and generosity of people for this charity.

You can read more about SAMH and the work they do here.

If you would like to sponsor us, the page is still live and you can do so here.

Click here for info about Alloa Half Marathon.

 

 

 

 

The Government Wants Us To Sleep More

As a nation, we are often lambasted for overeating, drinking to excess and smoking.  These addictions have long been seen as extremely hazardous to our health and yet we are skimping on sleep to manage the many pressures of daily life and this is apparently normal.  People seem to accept that it’s just the way it is while sipping on a coffee or an energy drink to start the day.  But should that be the case?  Do we really enjoy burning ourselves out?

A 2018 survey by Chemist4U shows that adults sleep an average of 6.5 hours a night. NHS recommends 7 – 9 hours per night for adults.  However, I know people who admit to regularly sleeping 5 hours each night.

According to this article by Independent, a Department of Health report (July 2019) has been leaked which suggests that the issue of sleep deprivation is about to be tackled, with the government set to advise the public on the recommended daily amount of sleep required by each age group. While this might be a great idea in theory, it’s only a recommendation and don’t we already know about that? Haven’t we heard for years that we should be aiming for 8 hours a night? A recommendation cannot be enforced and neither should it be. We all have an idea of the things we ‘should’ be doing to feel healthier but (medical conditions aside) it’s down to personal choice. People need to choose to sleep more. But, sleep is just not sexy.  It’s an unpopular topic because people see sleep as a secondary consideration. They could stay up and watch another hour of a Netflix show rather than sleeping. Sleeping is lazy.  Sleeping is a waste of time. That’s exactly how I used to think.  I spent nearly 10 hours out of the house each day for work and then had a family to look after – feed, run to clubs, put to bed, sort lunches for next day.  Then, there’s not much time left so I needed some ‘me time’.  If only I had considered sleeping ‘me time’ I might have saved myself from burnout on a few occasions.  I am trying now to stick to a bedtime routine as much as possible and it does help. As an early riser, I cannot make myself sleep longer in the morning but I can go to bed a little earlier in the evening to avoid burning the candle from both ends.

I was first inspired by Shawn Stevenson’s book ‘Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success’. Shawn’s book advocates improving sleep quality rather than sleep quantity. He highlights the best times to sleep, in accordance with restorative sleep cycles and suggests things like a caffeine curfew, cutting back on alcohol and eating healthily alongside other tips. These are all sensible strategies but strategies most of us probably overlook. Shawn also has a podcast called The Model Health Show which can be found on iTunes or other podcast platforms and covers a variety of health and fitness topics.

Dr Rangan Chatterjee is a British doctor, author, broadcaster and podcaster whose book ‘The 4 Pillar Plan: How to Relax, Eat, Move and Sleep Your Way to a Longer, Healthier Life’ also discusses the importance of sleep as one of the four pillars to a healthier life.  Dr Chatterjee’s book has chapters on using natural daylight and night time darkness to your advantage; following nature’s cues.  He also hosts a podcast called Feel Better, Live More in which guests discuss sleep, diet and other health-related topics.

Both of these authors provide detailed reasons for sleeping more or better, backed by scientific studies and results and it all makes sense. We should sleep better because we want to and because it has been proven to be good for us. It is much healthier than popping pills or guzzling carbonated, caffeinated drinks constantly. It will be interesting to see how the government presents their information. Will it be like the recommendation that we all think of (and probably disregard) about eating five (fruit and veg) a day? People know the recommendation but ignore it. A 2017 NHS study cited in this Telegraph article shows that only one in four adults adhered to the recommendation.

What could be the reasons for the government wanting us to sleep more? Reducing the NHS bill for sleep disorders? Increasing workplace productivity? Something to distract from Brexit? I would like to see an emphasis on the health benefits and the successful people utilising sleep to inspire people to look after their health more rather than telling them that they ‘should’ or ‘must’ sleep more. After all, it’s our modern culture that makes it hard to squeeze everything into a day.  Maybe there is a much wider issue here but that’s the subject of another blog post.

I am in no way an authority on sleep but I am enjoying learning more about it. This piece is riddled with opinion so in the interest of fairness, I welcome the opinion of others. Please feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading – sleep well 🙂

 

This blog

What’s this blog all about then?

Anything. Everything.

Sometimes it will be strictly professional i.e news about work-related things. Other times, it will relate to matters of personal interest that I hope will interest the reader too. I’m excited to get started and see where this blog leads.

Thank you for reading 🙂