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Health, Happiness & training tips for mortals.

Disclaimer (:D): I am an ordinary guy with a full time job and a life. I’m certainly not an athlete nor am I a sports scientist. Here I’m going to try and give you an insight into how I train and how I’ve been training for the Himalaya Quest. I’m not sponsored so every product that I recommend is tried, tested and paid for with own money. None of this may be suitable for you; although I’m sure some of it will help.

Anyone thinking of taking up a challenge like our Himalaya Quest or just wanting to get fitter should consider seeking advice from a professional; you can find plenty of advice online or consult an adviser at your local gym etc.
For me there are three important criteria for preparing for an event or for just living a balanced and healthy lifestyle; which is pretty much what I try to do these days.
All are equally important to me and help me to function better.
Fueling, Hydration and Recovery.

Fueling is pretty straight forward really; Food. We all know what’s good for us and what is bad for us. As long as you exercise regularly you can enjoy a few of the bad things! Nothing is really out of bounds for me it’s just that some things are taken on an occasional basis rather than regularly. I like Pizza, Chinese & Indian food and I like McDonalds. Just don’t eat them every day.
I am fairly fortunate in that I actually enjoy healthy foods. I eat plenty of fresh fruit & vegetables, salad, fish & shellfish, grilled meats, stir-fry’s, jacket potatoes etc. I’m pretty sure you all know what’s good for you. I also love rice! Which is kind of lucky really because it’s a very healthy low fat staple. It takes about 25 minutes to prepare a portion of rice; it also takes 25 minutes to prepare several portions of rice. I usually make up a large pan and freeze 6 or 7 portions at a time so that I can reheat them quickly in the microwave whilst a nice succulent chicken breast is cooking under the grill. It takes 6 minutes to nicely grill a chicken breast; that’s about the same amount of time it takes to cook your average microwave meal, and to turn that boiled rice into egg fried rice takes seconds. Are you sure you that don’t have the time with your hectic lifestyle? I prefer good quality Thai Jasmine rice which I buy in 5kg or 10kg bags from my local Chinese supermarket and at a much better price than you pay for the measly bags the big brand supermarkets sell. I get great big bags of egg or rice noodles from the same place.
I enjoy fresh multi grain bread much more than pre-packaged white bread, it’s just tastier. Sainbury’s Harvest Grain is my favourite. Low fat spreads are another obvious choice and Clover is the one for me.
I also love cheese. So I eat it. Quite often lots of it. But I can because I go out and exercise! Hahaha. I also eat lots of eggs, because they are very quick and easy to prepare and I like them too.
For stir-frying etc I use a decent quality Olive Oil, again the health benefits are well documented.
Everyone and his dog tells us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I agree. I like Kellogg’s Special K, not because of the healthy advertising hype but because I just like it. I always have it with a big handful of raisins thrown in for good measure along with a glass of pure fruit juice everyday. Tropicana might be a bit pricey but that’s because it tastes better than everyone else’s!
If have a long day out on the bike planned I will often have porridge oats instead.
Another thing I rarely take is alcohol. That’s not for any particular health reason I’m just not much of a drinker. I like beer though; I just don’t really drink at home. It’s pretty much a social thing for me, I much prefer to go out at the weekend with friends and get completely wasted every now and then. Rock on.
Nothing radical here folks, common sense stuff that anyone can find with a simple Google search. We’re all familiar with it, it’s just a matter of whether you choose to do it or not.
Pre-exercise I find it suits me to eat about 2 hours before, much less than that and I usually feel like throwing it up for the local strays.
I do find when I’m exercising more often that I eat an awful lot more too, your body just needs more fuel so don’t worry about it. I don’t count calories; I just eat when I’m hungry and eat well. Not eating enough is just as unhealthy for you as eating junk.
Eat burgers every day and you can have a nice big belly just like Wimpy! 😀
Hydration during exercise is really important. I sip liquids constantly. You can buy nicely flavoured carbohydrate/electrolyte powder mixes from loads of places; any sports shop, running or cycling outlets, your local Holland and Barrett’s/health food store, and Decathlon stores will all have a wide selection to choose from. It’s just a matter of trying a few and finding which one suits you best. Currently I’m favouring Berry flavoured SuperHydro by SIS (Science in Sport) but I’ve tried a few over the years and sometimes you just get bored of the same old flavour and fancy a change.
Most mix easily with water and are ready to use in an instant. I use bottles and hydration reservoirs/bladders depending on what I’m doing. The bladders hold more for longer days out on the bike. When I swim or run I usually mix up a 750mls bottle and find that is plenty for 1 hour 30 minutes of swimming or an hour of running.
Water or Orange Squash are better than nothing.
Always hydrate; it is important and you will feel the benefit.
Hydrating is essential.
Recovery is very important. If you over exercise you will risk injury, unhealthy weight loss and fatigue. Listen to your body when it aches and allow plenty of time between exercise sessions to recover. This could be as much as 3 or 4 days if you are just starting out on a program and are experiencing a lot of muscle soreness. Eat well. Hydrate.
After every single session of exercise, including when I go out mountain biking for fun with friends, I always drink a recovery shake as soon as possible. Preferably within 20 minutes of finishing. I have tried a few and now regularly use the For Goodness Shakes products. They are available at online retailers and most supermarkets in different flavours and they are lovely tasting too. Trust me on this, try one. You will notice a difference to your recovery and performance, probably the best sports performance product I have ever used.
For Goodness Shakes are my choice for great recovery.
 My routine isn’t exactly a scientific routine. I like to run so I do some of that, I love to mountain bike so I do lots of that and I now swim on a pretty regular basis but I have to admit that I’m not the most enthusiastic swimmer. I go because it is very good exercise and the impact on my joints is much lower than with running for example; I also find I recover very quickly from swimming and this allows me to do more of the other necessary cardio-vascular activities without burning out or sustaining injuries.
For the Yak Attack/Himalaya Quest I have built up my routines slowly and now regularly run 10km, swim 2 miles (3.2km/130 lengths of the pool) and mountain bike various distances from 15-40 miles of varied off road terrain. I try to run and swim 2 to 4 times a week in total if I have the time, and I mountain bike whenever I get the chance which can be anything from twice a week to once a fortnight depending on time/weather/work etc. During normal periods of my life I will try to do each activity once a week.
I warm up doing press-ups, sit-ups, crunches, squats etc and I have a chinning bar that I use regularly. I should do more core work; must try harder!
Always after exercise I do a few stretches and particularly after running & cycling I focus on stretching my Hamstrings and holding the stretch for around 30 seconds.
There are literally hundreds of ways to have fun and get fit; another favourite of mine is climbing. I love to do it outdoors but I have just as much fun at the local indoor climbing wall too, how many fat rock climbers do you see?
Snowboarding is another addictive passion of mine. In the Winter I often travel with friends to Scotland for a few days or the North Pennines in England to get in some lift served riding. We ride in The Peak District most winters and if we get enough snow locally I ride the hills around where I live. During the Summer I’m restricted the indoor fridges, Tamworth Snowdome is my nearest one; or the artificial slopes like the ones at Swadlincote or Sheffield Ski Village.
The best tip I can give you for motivation to exercise? Sign up for an event, there’s nothing like a bit of pressure to get you out there training when you don’t really feel like it.
I dislike competitive events so I look for personal challenges or fun; because I like both of those! If it’s fun you’ll enjoy it and want to do more; after all if you don’t start to enjoy it why do it? The Himalaya Quest/Yak Attack is an immense personal challenge for me and just being able to visit Mount Everest will be a lifelong ambition achieved. Your challenges don’t have to be so grand of course; I am looking forward to entering a couple of the aaa-adventures obstacle races with some friends through the year and maybe even a Rat Race event or two if I can find the time! Why not enter the ‘Race for Life’ ladies? Or ‘The Balls to Cancer’ events guys? You can have fun and maybe even raise money for charity whilst you do it.
So that’s four tips really…
Eat well. Hydrate. Recover. Have fun!
Still smiling after a long day in The Peak District. Don’t forget to have fun!
We are undertaking our Himalaya Quest for charities, please sponsor us if you can using the links to our Rainbows and Whizz-Kidz ‘JustGiving’ pages in the right hand column. We’re not greedy, One Pound/Dollar/Euro will do just fine!

Don’t forget you can follow us on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/ChaseTheRainbow
 Have fun and enjoy yourself! 🙂

About The Author

Neil Cottam

Neil is the founder of Chase The Rainbow. He has spent a lifetime exploring the outdoors, from a childhood climbing trees and scrambling his bike around old pit heads to hiking in the Himalaya and backpacking around Europe and Asia.

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