Did you wake up in the new year and think dammit, I have no friends except the ones who live inside my computer/phone/tablet/other screen-based thing so I should really stop being such a billy-no-mates-anti-social-hermit who spends the entire day checking how many likes I got on my latest selfie and get out of the house and talk to people in real life instead?
Everyone knows how good exercise is for you – whether it’s for energy, weight loss/control, mental health or just a general feeling of well-being spiritually and emotionally, but did you know exercise is good for your eye health too? No, me neither (especially as I only started wearing glasses after starting running but that’s probably just an age thing and not an exercise thing) but Vision Direct do and they told me:
- your eyes receive the same benefit as the rest of your body when you exercise;
- there are connections between those who regularly exercise and a reduced chance of developing cataracts, wet aged-related macular degeneration and glaucoma;
- eye disease is linked to health problems such as high cholesterol levels, diabetes and high blood pressure. Exercise limits these problems from happening;
- moderate physical exercise such as going for a walk three times a week has been known to lower your intraocular pressure (IOP) and improve blood flow to the retina and optic nerve;
- those who exercise regularly are 70% less likely to develop wet age-related macular degeneration compared to those who lead sedentary lifestyles;
- you don’t have to run a marathon to see the benefits. You can do low-impact exercise such as cycling, walking or climbing the stairs to improve your eye health.
Don’t rely on exercise to keep your eyes in good health though – remember to keep up to date with your eye tests with your optician as they’re not just there to check your vision and to see if you need new/any glasses: while they’re peering into your eyes and making you jump with that blowing-out-a-puff-of-air machine, they can see if there’s anything worth checking out further with your doctor. I know this from experience as, a few years ago, after I’d had my two-yearly eye test, my optician wouldn’t let me have my prescription until I’d had a blood test at my doctor’s. The optician gave me a letter which I duly trotted down with to my doctor and had my first ever blood test (I wasn’t scared at all. Okay, I was totally scared and I didn’t even get a lolly for being brave, bah). Everything thankfully was fine but the moral of this story is that to keep your eyes in good health, exercise regularly and keep your eye tests up to date.
To keep your health even more in tip-top condition, if you do wear glasses, it’s probably a good idea to wear them (or contact lenses) when you’re out running, cycling or walking so you can see cars coming when you cross the road and make the likelihood of getting run over much smaller.
Full of top tips, me.
Even if you’re running every day, some gear rotation is a good idea. You’ll likely use different kinds of gear depending on the time of year, and may also simply fancy a change now and then. Putting gear you’re not using into storage helps preserve it for future use, and gives you the option to ring the changes without keeping unused items in closets.
Have a Clear Out
If you haven’t worn an item of running gear for a year, chances are you don’t need it. There’s no point storing things you know you won’t wear again, so be a bit ruthless.
Inspect kit for damage or wear, and resist the temptation to hold on to things that are past their best. You won’t feel comfortable in them anyway, and if you’re conscious of your clothing or you’re worried something might fall apart mid-run, you can’t focus on what you’re doing.
Having narrowed your gear down to the items you know you want, the next step is preparing gear for storage. Give everything a thorough clean.
Paying attention to washing labels and instructions, run everything through the washing machine and make sure it’s completely dry before storing. Damp clothes in boxes will slowly ruin. Avoid ironing anything. Not much running gear needs ironing, but if you wear cotton items you’d normally iron, save that chore for when you retrieve items from storage. Ironing can actually weaken fibres and may make clothes tear along the creases over the long term.
- Cleaning running shoes – clean off mud and debris as any left on can weaken fabric fibres. It may be tempting to throw them in the washing machine but don’t as the detergent and heat can cause damage. If they’re really filthy, scrubbing with a small brush (try a toothbrush) and warm water should lift the worst of the dirt. Let them dry at room temperature. Stuffing with newspaper can help wick away excess moisture.
- Waterproof jackets – you don’t want to over wash them as this can affect how waterproof the fabric stays, but they need some gentle cleaning. Do up the zips and close any flaps before washing. Choose a detergent formulated for waterproof fabrics and wash on a gentle, warm wash. Always check the label before tumble drying, but it will probably be okay. The heat from tumbling reactivates many water repellent materials.
- Don’t forget water bladders – without thorough cleaning, bacteria can quickly build up inside water containers. A couple of tablespoons of baking powder in warm water works well. Give it a good shake and let it sit for around half an hour, then rinse thoroughly. Let it dry out completely before storing. A sneaky alternative is to store it in the freezer, if you have room. No bacteria will grow inside a frozen container.
Choosing Containers and Correct Packing
Plastic storage tubs are brilliant. You can see what’s inside, they stack securely and are light and sturdy. They offer excellent protection, but for extra security you could add layers of acid-free tissue paper between items.
When space is tight, rolled clothes take up less space than folded ones. No matter how tight your space is, avoid over packing boxes, and place heavier items at the bottom. Use separate shoe boxes for trainers and running shoes.
Locations for Storage
If you’re storing running gear at home, make sure your space is clean and damp free. Pests and moisture are the enemies of anything put into storage.
When space for storage is tight, self storage is a viable option. There are smaller lockers as well as entire rooms, so you can tailor your space exactly to your needs. Plus, short contracts mean you’re not tied in for longer than you want.
Good quality running gear isn’t cheap. Look after it, have a variety of items to give some a rest now and then, and your kit will give many running miles of good service.
Feet are ugly. No one has nice feet, it’s just a fact of life and especially for runners with all we put them through, but it’s possible to get them slightly less minging, especially if you’re going to be wearing sandals or (shudder) flip flops during the warmer months.
Since my spin instructor left, I’ve stopped going to spin on a Saturday morning but I still have the ‘Saturday mornings are for exercise’ mentality so, when I woke up at 7am, I thought to myself, ‘I could go to parkrun’. But then I thought, ‘Na, bollocks to that, I don’t like parkrun and I’d end up walking it all like a loser, anyway’, so I decided to go and do week 1, day 2 of the C25k app instead which consisted of running for 1 minute, interspersed with 1.5 minute’s walking x 8 (with 5 minutes each side to warm up/cool down).
Last summer, I decided I wanted to run again. I got myself a C25K app and I had planned to blog my progress, like I did back in 2006 (back when people used to comment on blogs because they wanted to and not because they were in some stupid comment swap thread, and back before 12 year olds in Facebook blogging groups bleated about their DA every five minutes). But, that didn’t happen. The doing the C25K app happened but the blogging didn’t. And, although the C25K app happened, in true JogBlog self-destructive style I fucked it up at the end and only completed 22 out of 24 runs and then didn’t run again until today, six months later.
Spring is definitely in the air and that means it’s running season again. Of course, the hardcore runners have been out all winter – and good for them – but many of us can’t bring ourselves to head out for a jog in wintertime, whether it’s because of the cold winds, the icy ground, or the dark early nights. Spring is the perfect time to start working on your fitness again and there are some great tips for anyone hoping to avoid injury and make their runs as enjoyable and safe as possible.
SMART goals are usually used in business rather than fitness – think sales, targets, customers, that kind of thing. But with spring here (or nearly here, at least), you might be feeling inspired by all the runners currently out training for their spring marathons, or by the parkrunners you dodge every Saturday morning when you’re out walking the dogs.
If your weather’s anything like the weather here at the mo, it’s not very inviting to go out and run in. I’m okay if it starts to rain while I’m out – in fact, I can breathe easier when it’s raining – but when it’s damp and grey and drizzly, it’s hard to motivate myself to get out there in the first place.
I lost my iPod Nano. I am bereft. I’m pretty sure I left it in the cab after my birthday night out, as I remember not being able to find my wallet in my bag as my bag was stuffed full of presents and cards (I should probably point out this was more down to how small my bag was, not my popularity being so huge I should have taken a bin liner or two out with me with which to carry all my gifts) and I asked the driver to drive into the driveway while I rummaged around for the fare (that isn’t supposed to sound as dodgy as it does. I paid with cash, honest). So, I reckon it fell out then and, when I next got a cab two days later on Christmas Eve, I asked that cab driver how many different companies use the rank at the station and told him I thought I’d lost my iPod in a cab a couple of days previously and I thought it was a female driver, and he gave me a number to ring and said there are only three female drivers in Ashford, so it should be easy to locate. I said I won’t ring now, it’s Christmas Eve, they’ll be busy but he assured me it’d be fine. I went inside and rang the cab office and got the most unfriendly and unhelpful woman on the phone ever and she just said blah blah blah and so I remained un-iPodless and too scared to ring back another day in the hope someone nicer picked up.