As I tackle my own Race for Life, it gets me thinking about jogging in general

By Katie Garner

I was watching a very interesting programme on the BBC the other night, which was basically dissecting whether the various sports drinks and specialised trainers that hit the sports market, are actually beneficial, or a load of old rubbish. It focused mainly around running, and since I was at the time in training for my 10km Race for Life for Cancer Research UK, I was enthralled by what was being explained.

For example, I never knew that you could die from water intoxication, actually drinking too much water during sporting activities. Experts were claiming that during exercise, no one had ever died of dehydration, yet up to 16 marathon runners have died because of sipping too much liquid. Many sports drinks’ websites were offering the advice that to keep properly hydrated, you needed to keep drinking throughout exercise to stop the onset on thirst, as by the time you are thirsty, dehydration has already hit. Academics from Oxford disagree however, saying that this technique can lead to water intoxication very easily – you may feel bloated, queasy and faint. The best idea is always to follow the simplest advice – drink when thirsty to keep hydrated.

And if you love Lucazade, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but the findings from the programme also revealed that there is nothing in them that is of any use to the common gym goer, and that they don’t boost hydration any differently to free tap water.

The programme also looked into the hype surrounding specialised trainers, boasting comfort and support for your feet whilst running. It is far too easy to be dazzled by the vast array of trainers and brands now on offer – all suggesting a multitude of advice, which makes trainer shopping a bit of a minefield (as I found out when doing my very own trainer search back in March – I ended up just opting for the ones that I thought looked the best!). The team concluded that the big sports brands actually had no evidence to support their claims that a certain design of shoes is more beneficial during sport than another, and that, much to my surprise, barefoot running might be the better option.

After conducting some experiments using the very willing presenter, the experts explained that we run very differently depending on whether we are barefoot or wearing trainers. In trainers, we tend to land heavily on our heels, expecting the trainer to take the bulk of our weight and support our feet, the pressure working its way up our legs. However when running barefoot, we run entirely differently, instead avoiding landing on the heel, The test showed that when you run barefoot, you actually put less pressure on your leg and knee joints as you are slamming less impact into your foot at the initial contact point with the ground.  Interesting, huh?

After this unexpected result, some brands have already attempted to quickly jump on the bandwagon, designing ‘barefoot shoes’ – which I know sound like defying the point slightly. The flexible lightweight shoe is more a foot cover; I suppose to protect your tender tootsies from the tough terrain of our modern world. But then again, after some digging, this company hadn’t actually tested out their brand spanking new shoes, just used the research from barefoot running to suggest how their shoes would help runners.

With regard to the energy food piece I wrote last week, a marathon runner on this programme let the world in on his energy boosting recipe for success – the common jam sandwich. The bread provides the complex carbohydrates that release energy slowly into the system, while the jam is a sugary carb that gives that instant zap of energy. The two working together providing a very tasty, sticky yet useful energy filled snack!

On a slightly different note:

Those of you who have sponsored Jess and myself to run our Race for Life, I just want to say a massive thank you! It hasn’t exactly gone to plan though – we received an email three days ago, saying that our Chelmsford event, due to happen today, has now been postponed because the park where it was taking place is too waterlogged. Not great as the rescheduled date actually falls on a time when I will be sunning myself in Ibiza and drinking incredibly vast amounts of boozy sangria… Jess will now be running on the 16th September, but I did my own home version this morning! I ran my 10km in 48 minutes in sunny Hornchurch, my mum kindly making me a finishing line to collapse into at the end! Big thanks again for your support, and I’ll expect you all to give Jess big hugs when it’s her turn in September!