In this months newsletter...
Greetings healthy people,
Be warned! A rather long newsletter follows. The big bit, the article, is based on my recent triathlon adventure, and the other sections keep on getting longer. So please excuse the length, and if you don't have time to read it all right now, remember you can browse all previous newsletters at http://www.tracygriffen.com/news/news_archive.html
Maggie's Centre is a fantastic charity that supports families and friends and those diagnosed with cancer. The Edinburgh centre opened twelve years ago and offers support to anyone who walks through its doors. One of their ways of raising money is through the Maggie's Life Walks, being held in both Edinburgh and Glasgow this autumn. The Edinburgh Life Walk is on Saturday November 1st and is a scenic 10 mile journey around Edinburgh. Visit their website where you can find out more about Maggie's, and register yourself for the Life Walk. I'll see you there for the aerobic warm up!
What's in Season for October / November
Fruit: blackberries, pears, plums, elderberries (in the wild), figs, apples
Vegetables: beetroot, butternut squash, courgettes, kale (at this time of year is tender and tastier than picked in winter), kohlrabi, leeks, marrow, mushrooms, peppers, potatoes, pumpkin, rocket, sweetcorn, wild mushrooms, radishes, fennel, onions, squash, swede, watercress
Easy Recipe: Andy's Veggie Spag Bol
Veggie mince (otherwise known by the brand name of Quorn) is a great high protein, low fat option. It's especially delicious in this quick and easy spag bol recipe perfected by my husband Andy. It's a great meal to refuel on after a busy day as the protein will help aid muscle recovery. Serve with wholemeal spaghetti, which has more protein and three times the fibre of ordinary spaghetti.
makes four servings
1 onion, finely chopped
1 – 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 Tab olive oil
200g veggie mince (or Quorn)
1 red pepper, cut into medium squares
1 medium fresh chilli, sliced finely
Handful of mushrooms, sliced coarsely
Oregano, thyme and / or mixed herbs
Tin of chopped tomatoes
100mL vegetable stock
- In a large covered saucepan heat the olive oil to a medium heat and sweat the onion and garlic.
- When softened, stir in the veggie mince (you can cook from frozen), chopped vegetables and herbs, and fry for awhile.
- Add the tin of chopped tomatoes and the stock and let it reduce on a lowish heat for about 20 minutes.
- Start cooking the spaghetti and remember that wholemeal takes longer than 'ordinary' spag.
- This recipe keeps in the fridge well, and makes a tasty lunch reheated in a microwave oven.
Resisting Temptation hint of the month: Not so Supermarkets
It's an old one, but a good one – write a shopping list when you go shopping. And stick to it. Supermarkets rarely have specials on healthy food, and the promotions that tempt are quite often junk food. Next time you are in a supermarket, have a look at what kinds of items are on special offer. Do you really need two bags of crisps for the price of one? It also goes without saying that you should never shop when you are hungry!
Fad or Fab: Creatine Supplements
You can be forgiven if you've never heard of Creatine. It's popular with body builders and on sweaty gym floors. Creatine is a chemical found naturally in muscles which fuels the chemical reaction of creating energy in muscles (i.e. movement). In a nutshell, creatine supplementation in athletes may 'fuel up' up their muscles. I have tried it a few years ago when teaching over ten aerobics classes a week. It gave me energy and prevented muscle soreness, but my waistline thickened and I felt very chunky, so I stopped taking it less than halfway through the 'maintenance cycle' (it's taken in cycles so it's not in your body all the time).
I have heard it's a controversial subject, so I put the question to nutritionist Colin McKeand from Nutri-Tox:
"For some people creatine can improve performance in high intensity activities such as weights, sprints, jumps, sets or reps, plus it can speed recovery between sets, as well as increase strength and lean body weight. For others however it made no difference to their performance and it does not seem to increase endurance performance.
The main side effect is weight gain, and while this is desirable for bodybuilders, it could be disadvantageous in sports where there is a critical ratio of body weight and speed. Some people find they get water retention. Other reported side effects include cramps and stomach discomfort, which in some cases, may be due to dehydration rather than creatine. Always drink plenty of water - at least 2 litres daily.
There is a theoretical long-term risk of kidney damage if taken continuously for long periods. While short-term and low-dose creatine supplementation appears to be safe, the effects of long-term and/or high-dose remain unknown. I would advise caution, perhaps taking creatine in cycles, and get creatine know-how advice."
So, for the first time in Fad or Fab the result is inconclusive. With diet supplements of any type, I always think it's best for you to make up your mind.
Try Something Different: Get Wet!
Last weekend I competed in my first triathlon, and so had to brush up on my swimming. I'm lucky enough to teach at Drumsheugh Baths Club, founded in 1882, the oldest independently owned swimming club in Edinburgh, and was able to use the lovely clean pool to practise in.
I teach a regular Thursday aqua class there – I reckon it's the toughest aqua class in Edinburgh. The surroundings are amazing, as you can imagine from the photo. The 70 ft x 35 ft pool amenities include supplied towels, individual cubicles for poolside changing and members' personal lockers. Other facilities include two saunas, a hot tub, new-refurbished gym and lounge.
The Baths have been lovingly restored to their Victorian splendour and it makes for a truly unique swimming experience. Have a peek at their website for more information and details on joining.
Article of the Month: How to Prepare for a Triathlon
The Balerno Ladies Triathlon was held last Saturday. I found out about it from a friend, Kirsty, nine weeks before the event and this is what I did to prepare.
I knew that the triathlon is a competition of four parts, swimming, cycling, running and the transitions (where you go from pool to bike, and bike to running). I was intrigued that any sport could involve such a level of organization - the transitions are commonly viewed as a way of making up time. If you watched the triathlons at the Olympics recently you will have seen the athletes fly through their transitions, bike shoes already clipped onto bicycle pedals so it was just a matter of slipping their feet in and cycling off. For the amateur triathlete, especially in chilly Scotland, things are somewhat different.
What to wear was a big issue, I needed something I could swim in, and also cycle and run (possibly in the cold) in. So I took the easy, but not the cheapest route and bought a tri outfit from the The Tri Centre – the outfit comprised of a vest top and short cycle shorts with quick drying padding. I also invested £5 in a pair of fancy toggle shoe laces (that's right, £5 for shoelaces!) to cut transition time.
Other aspects that I had to consider were:
- Learning to put on a swimming cap, as I had never worn one before and coloured coded swim caps identified the various swim heats.
- Practicing cycling with new toe clips on my bike.
- Getting my bike serviced
- Sourcing a bicycle carrying rack for the car and learning how to fit it
- The day before, removing the pannier rack from my bike to make the bike lighter. I could have done with a road bike with slick wheels, but stuck with my trusty hybrid.
- Practicing with fancy toggle shoes laces – to wear socks or not? Slower transition vs possible blister? Putting socks on wet feet in a hurry is not as easy as you would imagine.
- Preparing a 'tri box' – a plastic crate into which you put everything you need for the race (goggles, towel, cycling / running shoes and clothes, bike helmet and gloves at the very least).
- Familiarising myself with the route, potholes etc – the Balerno cycling and run routes made for a pleasant weekend meander a few weeks before.
- What to eat before, what food to bring.
- Preparing for what to wear no matter the weather
- Take own safety pins for race number, or invest in a 'tri-belt' a webbing belt onto which to clip the race number for ease of putting on and off.
- 'racking' a bike in the race racks (see photo)
- And not forgetting, the actual training! Training involved simulating the conditions as similarly as possible (i.e. running after cycling, cycling after swimming)
The actual day was more relaxed than I had imagined, and as I talked to the other competitors it became obvious that it was meant to be a fun event. There were only 62 of us competing and it was very efficiently run, so efficiently, that before I knew it I was in the water. The actual triathlon was a bit of a blur. The swim was tough, and the first transition reminded me of getting ready for work in a hurry.
Pelting down the hill on my bike into Balerno was exhilarating and muddy, and I hadn't noticed that my rear end had started to cramp from the cool breeze on my wet tri shorts. It wasn't until I start running that I noticed certain areas of muscles that were in contact with my wet clothing were cramping and going into spasm. So next time I try a tri, I will do it in warmer weather.
I would love to train anyone who would like to try a tri, as it is a real challenge and is as rewarding as it is all-consuming. Careful planning is everything!
And Finally… Happy Birthday Hole!
If you live in Edinburgh, you would not have been able to avoid the roadworks lately. The local traders on Leith Walk haven't been able to avoid them either and had a jolly party to celebrate the coming of age of a particular roadwork at the end of Balfour Street – one year old!
Avoid the hassle of the roadworks and cycle or walk everywhere. If you live relatively central it's just as quick as using a bus or car… and you can get your cardio training in.
Have a happy and healthy month,
© Copyright all material Tracy Griffen 2008