Tag Archives: running

Travel | My favourite ways to keep fit while travelling

imageIt can be hard as a backpacker to keep fit and healthy when you’re constantly moving between places. That transient life of late nights and long bus journeys doesn’t always translate to the bohemian vegan lifestyle you imagine for travellers, instead there can often be far too many beers and dirty 7/11 toasted sandwiches. It’s easy when you keep moving between different groups of people to give into every treat meal and to lose track of what you’re putting into your body. But, at the same time, it’s more important than ever, because let’s face it, no-one wants to get ill when they’re travelling. Eating the wrong things, not getting enough sleep, drinking too much and not exercising is the perfect way to ruin your immune system and leave you vulnerable to whatever bugs are being passed around. If you’re travelling in Asia, this can be even more of a problem when even the water and the food you eat could be carrying all sorts. If you want to be a smart traveller and keep going for the longest time, while still enjoying yourself and not feeling ill, it’s important to look after yourself. I’ve written posts before about healthy eating and staying fit on the road, but this time I want to focus on some of my favourite fitness experiences I’ve had since travelling.image

Muay Thai

When I work out, I like to finish up completely exhausted and to feel that I have worked every single muscle in my body. After trying boxing back in the UK, then Thai boxing, Muay Thai, when I was passing through Hua Hin, in Thailand, I can safely say I have never had a workout that has left me so satisfied afterwards. Martial arts are great because they really do work every part of your body, they test your body in different ways and with so many different types, there really is a martial art for everyone. I love the focus you get as you perfect the moves, and the way you can quickly develop skills if you show dedication. In just one morning session, thanks to my amazing trainer, I had mastered several of the basic moves and had completely re-ignited my passion for working out – after weeks of partying it, this was no easy feat. One thing Thailand comes with is some amazing gyms, they may be basic but damn, they get the job done, and they come with some incredibly dedicated trainers who will push you until you get the results you were after. When I was taking boxercise classes back in the UK, I noticed the quickest changes to my body I have seen with any type of exercise and was impressed to see even the areas which can be more difficult to train were becoming more toned and a lot stronger. I could totally understand why so many people decide to take on week-long or even month-long intensive courses while they’re travelling, I would love to have done the same, but sadly had too many other trips planned and not enough time to stay put.imageMartial arts are a great workout choice for travellers, whether male or female, it’s a great full body workout that only needs a gym and a few pieces of equipment, it is also perfect to try in Asia where there are specialist centres on every corner. It’s a fantastic workout for building confidence and perfect for solo travellers who appreciate knowing how to defend themselves – it may not ever be necessary to use but can give great peace of mind when you’re on your own. For those who want to feel strong and need a workout that takes them further than the usual yoga and running, this is perfect for building muscle tone and for pushing your body. It’s just what you need to give you focus when you travel and to pull you out of that backpacker slump. If you need to lose weight and get healthy again, it’s a good opportunity to learn new skills while doing so, and will really help boost your immune system – it’s hard to get ill when your body is fighting fit! If you fancy trying martial arts, wherever you are in the world, why not join Martial Tribes – it’s a social hub for all martial arts and fitness enthusiasts to connect. image

Yoga

Always popular with travellers, yoga is a fantastic way to keep lean, fit and toned while travelling, but it also can be a great way to stay grounded. It’s easy to get carried away with the excitement of your life, but taking the time to practice yoga, meditation and mindfulness can really make you focus on appreciating every second. I spent a life changing week at Hariharalya Yoga and Meditation Retreat in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and I don’t think I’ve been the same person since. The week of peacefulness was just what I needed to take me from the lowest time I’ve had travelling, to one of the highest. Just days before I had nearly died in a bus crash, I was injured, aching and completely exhausted, but a week of nourishing my body and my mind with health, rest and gratitude gave me what I needed to love travelling again. Whether you take part in a retreat, take a quick yoga class or just follow tutorials on YouTube with your own mat in the sunshine, yoga is so freeing when you travel. It means taking a moment out of your busy day to reflect, then clear your mind and to stretch out your body. Just what all us backpackers need after rubbish hostel beds and overnight bus rides. It’s worth having a look online and around where you’re staying for free classes – I took part in an incredible sunset yoga session on a beach on Koh Lanta, Thailand, completely for free thanks to another traveller who wanted to share his knowledge with the world.image

Running

Running has become my go-to workout – no matter where I am in the world or what facilities are available, as long as I have my trainers in my bag and a sports bra to strap the girls down, I’m good to go! I love cardio workouts, I like to feel like I’ve exhausted myself and pushed myself further than the last time, so when I’m travelling, running is a great way to both experience the location and to stay fit. When I was in Asia, I’d get up early to run on the beach or around the city before the heat grew too fierce – beach running has always been my favourite because the sea is always such a perfect distraction and perfect for cooling off after. In Australia, I loved running – the country is made for runners with such a big focus on fitness. There’s endless beautiful trails, paths and places to explore while you’re working out. Particular highlights were runs along Bondi to Coogee coastal walk, Noosa National Park coastal walk, around the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney and Melbourne, and those sweaty runs along Darwin Esplanade in the dark. There are so many amazing places to go running, you’d be a fool not to!image

Cycling

I have a confession, before I went away travelling I had not been on a bike in about a decade. I used to love riding my bike as a kid, but just lost interest as I grew up and had no real reason to ride, but you’ll be pleased to know they are right when they say “it’s like riding a bike” – you never forget. When I was in Asia, bikes were terrible quality but cheap to hire and a perfect way to explore the countries at your own pace. I cycled around stunning old ruins in Sukhothai and Ayutthaya, Thailand, I cruised around Da Lat, Vietnam, exploring waterfalls, and through the Cambodian countryside in Siem Reap with friends. It’s a fantastic way to see the country, you just see so much more when you cycle past the world than you would from the back of a tuk-tuk or motorbike plus you can stop whenever you want to explore. If you’re not as confident on a motorbike, cycling can be a great – and much safer – alternative, just keep your wits about you when you’re on busy roads. In Australia, there are so many beautiful places to cycle and explore – one of my favourite days in Melbourne was spent mountain biking around the trails in a beautiful reserve.image

Trekking

You walk a lot as a traveller and it’s easy to forget that this in itself is a great workout. Whether you spend a day walking around exploring a new city, hiking through the jungle to waterfalls or climbing a mountain to watch the sunrise – it all counts. This is actually one of my favourite ways to workout because it doesn’t actually feel like a workout, you’re so busy looking at the amazing views or spotting creatures lurking in the woods or diving into waterfalls that you don’t realise how much you are burning. I loved huge jungle hikes in Khao Sok, Thailand, we’d be covered in sweat and chased by monkeys, but it was all worth it when you reached the stunning gorge or lake at the end of it. I had friends who climbed huge peaks in Nepal or Bali and said it was the highlight of their trip – getting outside and getting active can be one of the best ways to experience a country. In Melbourne, I spent a weekend camping at Grampians National Park with friends, we spent two days hiking to viewpoints, climbing through gorges and walking through forests – it was incredible.image

How do you like to keep fit when you travel? What are your favourite fitness experiences? What martial arts workouts can you recommend?

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Backpacking | Top tips for keeping fit and healthy while travelling

imageTravelling can have one of two very different effects on your body – half the backpackers out there seem to lose weight from not eating properly while the other half watch their beer bellies grow from night after night on the booze. It’s a difficult feat, maintaining that lifestyle while not piling on the pounds, particularly when you are constantly on the move and unable to get into a routine for working out. I loved working out when I was at home and could be found at the gym at least three times a week, sometimes more. I definitely got a bit addicted at times and loved the way it made me feel stronger, fitter and healthier. So as you can imagine, the gyms is something I’ve missed hugely since travelling, not just the physical part but the mental side as well. It’s great for giving you goals and keeping track of achievements, it’s great for de stressing (granted, not something a backpacker really needs) and it’s great for giving you more energy. The lethargy among backpackers can sometimes become quite contagious – I’ve noticed in certain hostels it can become easy for everyone to just do nothing and to have no energy to even organise a cycle to a waterfall or temple. Of course, this can be nice for a few days, but when you’re travelling long-term it’s important to realise the effects this will have on your body, and in turn your health. And nobody wants being ill to stand in the way of a good time!image

 

So what can you do to avoid becoming a bloated, beer-bellied backpacker? How can you eat healthy while on the road? Here are my top tips:

– Don’t forget your fruits and vegetables – in Asia, enjoy a fresh fruit juice or smoothie a day and fresh pineapple or watermelon, even a fresh coconut! The fruit is so good and so fresh, there’s no excuse!
– Eat spicy. A spicy curry cures all and kills all germs as my dad always says!
– Eat a varied diet – it’s difficult when cooking for one and you often end up eating the same thing for days but it is important to make sure your body gets all the different vitamins and nutrients it needs.
– Make sure you are eating enough and aren’t just getting your nutrients from alcohol, it’s easy to not feel hungry when in the heat all day but it’s important to get enough food inside you and don’t skip breakfast – it really is the most important meal of the day!
– Line your stomach before going out by eating a good dinner of pasta or curry and rice – something that will fill you up so you are less likely to binge later on greasy street food
– Remember that what you eat directly affects how you feel – if you eat greasy chips and fried food you will feel and look like crap. If you’re eating fresh and healthy food full of vitamins, your skin will be glowing and you will be full of energy.
– If you’re cooking in a hostel in Australia, throw some fresh veggies in your standard pasta
– If you’re eating veggie to save some money, or because you actually are veggie, remember you need protein as well or you will become sick so make sure you’re getting plenty from other sources
– Drink plenty of water – I felt really under the weather when I first arrived in Australia because I was too cold to be drinking enough water after Asia – dehydration affects you hugely
– Avoid beer, cocktails and fizzy drinks – instead drink white spirits with juice as a mixer
– Don’t always give in to yourself over burgers on a night out and hangover fry-ups the next day
– Avoid pot noodles and 7/11 toasted sandwiches like the plague – they’re packed full of salt, sugar and lots of other nastiesimage

Staying fit while on the road – top tips!

– Walk everywhere – also great for those on a budget
– Get out and get active – you might not be able to get to a gym but the great outdoors is waiting and it’s free! Hike to a temple or waterfall, spend a day exploring the city on foot, surfing or kayaking.
– Don’t be afraid to have a night in – you’ve got plenty of time to party and your body needs a rest sometimes. Willpower – remember how much time you have to live the dream
– Can’t resist the pull of the bar? Head to a club and dance the night away, drink less and burn off those calories while having a blast
– Take advantage of free gym trials everywhere you go. I spent a month in Sydney using the gym every other day and always for free, I even scored free boot camp classes twice a week and all because I took advantage of the deals that are always on offer.
– Use the hostel facilities – many of the hostels have stayed in have had some kind of sports facilities available – whether it’s bikes or surfboards to rent or borrow, a basketball hoop, or volleyball and a tennis net, some even have a pool! Why not get a gang together for an evening game of volleyball? A great way to bond and stay fit, or play tennis one sunny afternoon.
– Going to Asia? Do what I did and invest in some cheaper running shoes, then use them to death! Running is something you can do anywhere so take advantage of that. Another great one is yoga – just get yourself a little yoga mat.
– Do a week of volunteering at an animal sanctuary – you’re so busy working hard all day long that the love handles simply melt away and you don’t even realise how hard you’re working because you love it so much.
– Sign up for a yoga retreat or boot camp and give it your all, focus on fitness for a week or two.
– Workout somewhere beautiful – a friend and I headed to the beach for an intense cardio workout by the sea, and let me tell you, the beautiful setting definitely eased my pain!imageI could go on listing top tips and ideas for staying healthy, but there are so many. Once you start making changes to your lifestyle, it becomes easier and easier to see ways of improving. Don’t be heard on yourself, it is hard when you are a backpacker and temptation lies all around you. You always tell yourself, it’s okay, I’m on holiday! But five months down the line, you’re still using that excuse and you can’t understand why you’re exhausted, you’re getting sick and you have no energy or drive to explore and see the country you’re visiting. Backpacking is a lifestyle, and it’s important to strike a balance that suits you and the way you want to live – if that means having a fresh coconut when everyone else is on the beers then that is okay. If you fancy a salad when everyone else is snacking on greasy noodles then that’s fine too. Your body relies entirely on what you put into it, so if you put rubbish into it, you will find it a bit rubbish when you’re relying on it for a good time. Treats are most definitely not off limits, but they remain just that – treats.image

What are your best healthy backpacker tips? How do you manage to stay fit while travelling? What are your favourite healthy backpacker meals?

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Rediscovering my love of running in the great outdoors

photo_2 (4)The warm weather has definitely got me back on the fitness regime again. Well to be honest, I never really got off that train but I hadn’t really been excited about my workouts for a while. I have these phases where I absolutely love working out and am constantly in the gym or planning my next workout as I work towards my next goal. Then I have these other times when I feel like I’m just going through the motions but I’m not really getting any results. These are usually the times when I choose to change up my routine and try a new exercise or shake up the order of things. Sometimes if I’m really not feeling it, I will just give myself a week off so that I start to crave exercise again. I’ve had that feeling lately and although I ploughed through and kept going, I just wasn’t feeling the burn. So thanks to the warm weather, I have found that something new to make my workouts fun and exciting again.photo_1 (4)As you may have picked up, I’m a Norfolk girl and I’m lucky enough to have been born and raised in a rural area where I’m never more than a few metres from the countryside, endless fields and shady woods. It’s beautiful here and I’m so lucky to have lived here for my childhood – yes there are some drawbacks but to be honest, this lifestyle beats city living for me every time. In the cities you may have convenience, but in the countryside we have beauty all around us and freedom to roam around in it. So what better than to take my workout into the great outdoors and start running along the river and through the woods near my home? I start doing this every summer, but thanks to all the festivals last year,  didn’t get out running quite as much as I would have liked. But now it is just getting a bit too hot and stuffy to spend quite so much time in my gym.photo_2 (5)So now I’ve started running along the river banks and through the fields near my home, I pass the dog walkers and run alongside the reeds lining the banks of the river and sometimes spot deer running out of the long grasses. It’s an amazing place and makes you feel like you’re completely alone as you watch the dragonflies darting along the river banks. Such a peaceful place to run and that is just what I’m looking for when I run. I like to be alone and to take the time to get my head straight, running provides the perfect opportunity to do just that. It is just you and the road, and with surroundings like this, there is plenty to keep your eyes entertained while your mind is centred. One of my new routes takes me through the woods that just a few months ago were more like a swamp. Now they are blooming and full of life, birds, bugs and blossom everywhere. Just beautiful. Here’s a few pics from my runs over the last week.photo_3 (4)photo_4 (4)photo (6)photo_5 (1)I love how green and vibrant everything is, so full of life and it all smells so fresh and smoke free. Considering how close we are to the centre of town, it’s amazing to feel like you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere. It’s quite refreshing really I mean, I know you can easily get lost in the bigger cities, but is it ever quite like this? I guess you could say that running is kind of like my version of meditation, a way of finding quiet in a loud and busy world. It certainly helps clear my mind after a busy day at work. I’m still  going to the gym as well to keep going with my weights and the rest of my cardio, but this is just something for when I fancy some fresh air and it’s just too warm to stay inside.

Have you got a special place you go to chill out or run? How do you find your quiet place at the end of a hard day?

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Why I’m not running GEAR 10K this weekend

bespakAnyone who has read my blog for a while will know that I am a bit of a health and fitness freak. I’ll never been that girl who denies herself a treat or refuses to go out for dinner, or checks the calorie content in everything she eats, but I love to keep fit and eat well. I am that girl who loves her vegetables, prefers to drink water instead of tea or coffee and who feels rubbish if she hasn’t been for a good workout. But at the same time, I love a cheeky Nandos, I love cocktails and I can’t live without cheese. So it all balances itself out.

Two years ago, I was probably the fittest I have ever been in my life, when my personal trainer friend took me under his wing and decided to turn me into an athlete. I trained every other day with running, swimming, weights and loads of cardiovascular exercises to push my body to the limit. I taught myself breathing techniques, regularly did pilates classes and worked on my flexibility. All this training had me at the peak of fitness and I felt amazing, I had given up drinking for a while and was feeling good and looking good. As a target, I signed up for the 10K run in my home town – GEAR – and began extending the distances I was covering. Finally, after months of training, the day arrived and I was ready after an energy-filled breakfast for action.

I was running on behalf of the newspaper I work for as part of a story I was writing, but was also raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust after my boyfriend’s cousin was diagnosed with the condition. I managed to raise just under £300 which I was quite proud of, and it gave me the motivation needed to complete the run. That doesn’t mean it was easy at all though – it hurt and at several points I didn’t think I would make it round, but I did in 63 minutes which was far better than my time in training so I was very happy. My boyfriend also ran and made it in a great time – so we kicked off the celebrations at a birthday party before heading to the pub and out on the town. Sitting around and then dancing all night was not the best combination and I could already feel my limbs seizing up.

The next day was agony, trying to get up and down three flights of stairs each time I needed the loo or a drink was awful and my body has never hurt so much all over. But it was worth it, I was so proud that I had done it. Last year, unfortunately we were away on the day of the run so we couldn’t take part, because I would have liked to have tried to beat my time. Sadly, now it has been two years and I just can’t seem to get motivated enough to run competitively again. I seem to remember the pain of the next day all too well! I am still keeping up my health and fitness, eating well and going to the gym three times a week, drinking plenty of water. I also run often at the gym, but I just can’t seem to tie myself down to a goal of completing an official run, perhaps because I have completed this one the once, now I need a different route. I’m not really sure why, I just know that I won’t be running the GEAR this weekend, and definitely won’t have the chance next year as I will be on my travels. Maybe I just don’t have that competitive edge, but boyfriend certainly does and is running this weekend so I will be going along to cheer him on and it helps me kill two birds with one stone if I work while I am there and interview people for Tuesday’s paper!

How competitive are you when it comes to running? Do you have any targets coming up?