Thursday 7 June 2018

Food for thoughtIn the last weeks/days before the Half on the Head there is still a lot to consider in order to get the most out of your race. Research shows that adding more complex carbohydrates like whole grain bread, brown rice, whole wheat pasta and vegetables to your diet will give you the fuel you will need to get your through your race.
A general rule of thumb is not to eat too large a meal before running and to leave a gap of at least 2 hours to avoid symptoms such as cramps and nausea.
After training our body needs both protein and Carbohydrates. Carbs as your stores will be depleted after a workout and protein to help repair and grow muscle.   The sooner we eat the better it is for us and it should ideally happen within 20 to 30 minutes as your body needs the nutrients to kick start the growth and repair process.
Hydration is also really important but not just during your training or on race day.  Being even slightly dehydrated can leave you feeling sluggish, so make sure you're getting plenty of fluids on the days leading up to your race. It's a good idea to keep a water bottle with you during the day so you can drink frequently. During training runs and race day we recommend drinking water every 20-30 minutes or more often as needed.
Some runners are fans of sports drinks but personally we are not. We run to try to stay fit and healthy and while the extra sugar, calories and additives in sports drinks may give you a quick boost they are not a healthy choice. Gels are also an option. We only tend to take them for runs of longer than ten miles. If you do decide to carry gels or take sports drink make sure that you test them out during a long run as they can play havoc with the stomach. Our advice is to stick to water.  

Tip of the week:
Don't experiment:  it is important have a long run routine that you also implement on race day. Don't try new foods no matter what you read or hear. Find out what works for you and stick to it. We tend to have whole grain cereal and toast on the morning of a long run as these are slow release carbs as mentioned above.

Next week we will be giving you our advice on the best way to tackle the route for the Half on the Head. Our mile by mile guide will help you get the best out of your run. 

Many of us first encounter cross training when forced to find an alternative exercise due to injury. However, there are many benefits to introducing cross training to your schedule.  Cross-training helps to improve overall fitness, promote recovery, enhance motivation, and rejuvenate the mind and body.
Injury Prevention
Research shows that adding other types of exercise such as weights, spinning or yoga to your routine will greatly reduce your risk of injury. In the case of a running related injury it will also give you the chance to heal, as it gives your running muscles a chance to recover while still getting in a workout.  
Variety is the spice of life
Lets’ face it, running can be repetitive. The same old route and routine can sometimes drive you to distraction. Introducing a circuit class or swimming once a week will keep you fit, motivated and keen and looking forward to that next run.
Greater overall fitness
Other forms of exercise will strengthen muscles not used when running and increase you overall power, stamina and efficiency while helping to reduce fatigue. Core strength training is important as it develops the muscles of the stomach, back, and hips and will keep your pelvis aligned properly. This in turn will improve your running economy resulting in faster times.
The Furman Institute of Scientific Training and Recovery (FIRST)  led the way in developing training programs to help runners to improve their race finish times by Running Less to Run Faster.  This alternative approach to training produced some astonishing results. Not only were finish times faster but runners experienced less injuries. One of the pioneers of the FIRST program is still competing in half marathons and is now in his 80s. The theory behind this type of training is to run three times a week and cross train on alternative days with 2 recovery days in between.  The runs themselves also vary in that there is one long run, one tempo run and one speed run.  For our last marathon we adopted the FIRST program, we found it to work extremely well and particularly enjoyed the variety it offered.
Tip of the week:
Choose wisely.  Cross-training will seem much easier if you choose an exercise that you enjoy. Join a class or get involved in a team sport as it will bring out your competitive instincts while introducing you to like minded people.

Thursday 24 May 2018

Stretching for the line

When we choose an activity like running flexibility is one of the most important aspects of our routine to prevent injury, joint pain, muscle damage and strains. Different types of stretches are required pre and post run.

Dynamic Stretching :
Dynamic stretches involve movement based stretching such as high knees and butt kicks.  This boosts blood flow, activates the central nervous system, and enhances strength, power, and range of motion. As a result, dynamic stretching offers a host of both immediate and long term benefits and done before every run will warm you up and put you in the best position possible to get the most from your run.

Static Stretching:
Research shows that static stretching provides recovery benefits and so should be performed at the end of a workout while the body is warm as it relaxes the muscles and improves flexibility.  Performing static stretches before running can actually hinder performance as it saps strength, while reducing blood flow and decreasing central nervous system activity.

How we breathe during our stretching routine is also important. To get the most from your stretching, you must breathe deeply and regularly. Many of us tend to hold our breath while stretching without even realising it. If you hold your breath, you likely won’t see major improvements in your flexibility, and you put yourself at risk of injury.
For more information on stretching and some easy to follow examples please read this article from Live Strong

Too Much Too Soon:
The last time either of us got injured was directly attributable to entering a race with a lack of preparation and training. A telling statistic is the fact that 80% of injuries are caused by over exercise. Doing a few 10k runs and then thinking you can go out and run a half marathon is a sure way to do damage. Your body need time to gradually adjust to the stains and stresses of longer runs. The general rule is to build up slowly by adding a mile a week to your long runs.

Tip of the week:
Listen to your body: Be mindful of your body when running, it will help you identify stresses and strains and allow you to address them before they become an issue.

To register for the Half on the Head visit our website:

Get in Gear for the Half on the Head (Ballyheigue, Co. Kerry):

Dress for the conditions:
It sounds obvious but make sure you dress appropriately. Being too hot causes dehydration and saps your energy while being too cold or wet will hamper your run. Look at the forecast for the day and pick out suitable gear.
You will always have some hanging around time before a race so it is important to keep warm. If necessary wear a light jacket, if you decide to leave it at the start of the Half on the Head we will do our best to have it waiting for you at the finish line.

Feet First:
A good pair of socks is essential. These are the barrier between your skin and your shoes and each step will create a bit of friction. Make sure the socks are comfortable and a good fit to avoid getting blisters. Try out some different brands and materials during your training to see which works best.
When it comes to footwear there is no “one size fits all” solution. The right pair of running shoes for you depends on a range of factors.  The wear on your old shoes is a great indication of your running style while most good running shops will provide good advice and offer a gait test which will help you understand exactly how you run.  This information will help you select the running shoe that’s best for you.
Experience has thought us to ignore any particular brand and to pick a pair of shoes that is both comfortable and light.

Short cuts:
The trend for women runners is towards running leggings. Make sure to test these out carefully on your training run for comfort and fit. Branded leggings are expensive but will last for years so they are worth the investment.
When it comes to shorts ensure that they are light and do not chafe, especially in wet conditions.
Top picks:

Get a top with a good wicking material to soak away any excess moisture from the skin. Make sure that the fit is good so there is no chafing during your long training runs.
Tip of the week: 

Do not wear anything new on race day especially shoes or socks. Lay out your gear the night before and make sure it has all been tried and tested.

Friday 11 May 2018

Your food is your fuel:
To get the best from your run it is important to fuel your body properly. A bad diet will result in a sluggish and lacklustre run. If we expect our bodies to perform it is important to eat the right food. A balanced diet with a wide variety of foods is best.  We have all heard of diets such as the Atkins diet which advise us to cut out or remove carbohydrates completely. However people who do cardiovascular workouts like running depend on carbs for fuel as carbs are our main source of energy.  In the days leading up to a long race such as the Half on the Head many runners will Carb Load by eating carb rich foods such as bread and pasta.
Cut out the crap:
It is as straight forward as it sounds and is especially important when we begin to run or exercise on a regular basis. Extra effort expended through exercise will increase appetite and if we do not have access to healthy snacks we often end up eating what is convenient.  Stock up on fruit, veg and nuts in order to avoid reaching for something sugary and fat leaden.
Research has shown that being adequately hydrated will improve your running/ exercise performance. Drinking water will also give a feeling of fullness which can help to curb appetite and reduce overeating.  It is recommended that we drink about 3 litres of water a day and this need increases with exercise.
Protein after a workout is important as it helps repair the muscle that breaks down during exercise.  It is also vital to get the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals for our bodies to work at their best.  We can get all the nutrition we need from a balanced healthy diet. While supplements such as protein shakes can aid recovery after a race they are not necessary for most runners on a daily basis.   
Tip of the week:
The average runner will burn 300-400 calories during a 5k run while the average chocolate bar contains around 250 Calories. So, unfortunately, just because you got out for that run doesn’t mean you can gorge and get away with it. Need we say more!
For more tips and information or to register for the race please visit
Race Organisers Mick & Marion

Friday 4 May 2018

The Half on the Head (Kerryhead Half Marathon & 10k run) takes place on Saturday June 16th in Ballyheigue and each week race organisers Mick and Marion will be bringing you some health, nutrition & running tips.

Why Run?
The obvious answer is “to keep fit” and it is a proven fact that running is among the best aerobic exercises for the physical conditioning of the heart and lungs.  However, there are many more reasons get out and run.
Shed some pounds: The average person can burn more than 850 calories per hour by running which makes it one of the best exercises for weight loss.  
Save some cash:  All you need is a pair of running shoes and you can begin to get fit. Who needs a fancy gym membership or the latest fitness gadget.
Anytime, anyplace, anywhere: In the park, on holidays, during lunch.  Again, all you need is your trainers and you are ready to go. Running is the most convenient sport in the world.
Stress Relief: It is proven that running benefits your mental health. It boosts your serotonin levels and recent studies have shown that running regularly produces a natural high which promotes calmness and relaxation.
Strengthen bones:  Contrary to popular belief studies show that running actually builds up strength in your joints and bones keeping them healthier even as you age.
Make new friends: Running groups are everywhere so join your nearest group and get socialising. Research has shown that group fitness is one the biggest factors in enhancing quality of life. You will be stronger, faster and more fulfilled by running with others.
You’ll eat better: Runners become more mindful of their eating habits. Before you know it you will be replacing that junk food with healthier options.
Tip of the week:
Cross Train
. Mix your running with at least two sessions per week of alternative exercise such as yoga, cycling or circuits. This has been proven to benefit core and general fitness and to improve your running times.  
Thanks to everybody who entered our competition. The lucky winner of an entry into the 2018 Half on the Head is Paul O’Connor. For more information or to register for the race please visit

Friday 9 June 2017

Half on the Head - Heading for Home

The final section of this race is where you can make up some time but don't be overeager and start sprinting down the hill. Yes, there is a good long stretch of downhill ahead but try to keep a steady speed to avoid burn out. Downhill running takes a bit of practice so hopefully you have had some training runs which included a few miles of descent.

As you make your way down towards Glenderry the panorama of Tralee Bay opens out in front of you with views of Mount Brandon, The Maherees,  and the Seven Hogs all vying for your attention. It really is breath taking so try to take some time to enjoy the scenery.

As you pass mile 10 you will see Blennerville Windmill and Fenit lighthouse in the distance at the end of a 7 mile stretch of sandy beach which runs from Ballyheigue through Banna Strand and Barrow.

Mile 11 takes you past Dromatoor harbour and the road levels out for the final 2  miles as you head back into Ballyheigue Village and the welcome sight of the finish line. Once you have had a breather and rehydrated I would recommend heading down to the beach and having a paddle in the Atlantic ocean. It really is the best massage that you can get and is just the tonic for your jaded legs.

Prizegiving, BBQ and live music will take place in Flahives Bar from about 1:30 onwards.
There is even talk of a rodeo bull.