Western States Endurance Run 2022 – Race Report

WSER RACE REPORT 2022 – beware, its as long as the race!

Western States Endurance Run. Wow. Its one on many peoples bucket list but so hard to nab a ticket that it’s a pipe dream for many. Year after year you have to maintain your ticket count by qualifying in a 100km event. So you have to keep up your fitness to run the 100km qualifier first of all and then be fit enough to get through this tough 100mile event. Lucky I love what I do and just keep training all year round so keeping the ticket count hasn’t been too hard.

My WSER journey started in 2015 when I had a moment after doing UTA100 and realised that I could  throw my hat in the ring for WSER after chatting to another running mate. It was really not even on my radar before that. I kind of entered for shits and giggles thinking it was unlikely I’d get in anyway. But once that ticket was in and I got the first email to say I was in the lottery I started getting excited, made the family watch Unbreakable (under duress 😉) and started to really look into and follow the race. I now wanted that ticket!

The 2015 lottery was held and of course, no luck. 2016 I did Tawarera 100 in NZ so had another qualifier for the 2017 race, but nope, not this time. 2018, no luck again. I used my one time only BYE this years to maintain my ticket count as I did Elephant Trail Race instead of one of the listed qualifiers in Australia. (there are only 3 races use can use to qualify). I now had 4 tickets (they start at 1 and double each year but you get nothing for using a BYE). Then came the two COVID years so we maintained our tickets but didn’t gain any. By this stage I should have had 32 tickets but still only had 4.

2021 I ran UTA100 and entered again which gave me 8 tickets and FINALLY, on Dec 4th “Simonee Hayeses from Jimmyea Bay Australia” was called out! 😊 We were going to WSER in 2022!

Training started in December with gusto and I was feeling great and then of course, bloody COVID struck. Initially I wasn’t too sick, just a bit of a cold and tired the first week. I went back to work and training the week after and in hindsight, this was a dumbass move. Being asthmatic the second and 3rd week of Covid combined with doing too much really bit me on the ass and I ended up with a really bad post-covid infection which took months and countless courses of antibiotics and treatment by a specialist to get over. The specialist was doubting my chances of being able to run at WSER. He got me there in the end, but I had a delayed start to my training which wasn’t ideal but ended up with a good block for a couple of months and was finally confident that I could stand on the start line and finish the event under 30 hours.

Fast forward to Race week!

We arrived in Olympic Valley on Monday afternoon after some sightseeing in LA for a few days. What a change in landscape as you drive from Reno to Olympic – my eyes were bulging at the scenery (Marc’s eyes were bulging trying to learn to drive on the wrong side of the road for the first time! He did this brilliantly though and managed to cover over 1000km in 5 days with no issues – so proud of him!). As we turned off at the Squaw Valley sign the main mountain that we start the race in came into view and it really was breathtaking – snow capped and HUGE! I could see the first climb of the race – gulp!

Outside our hotel room, you can see the start of the climb

We checked into our hotel which was a one minute walk to the start line in the Olympic Village. Had a quick look around, it was more like being in the Swiss Alps than in the US! We then drove into Tahoe City to get a few supplies for the room and some dinner which we ate in our room as we were pretty buggered.

The next couple of days we did sightseeing, drove all the way around Lake Tahoe and visited Truckee and a few other places. I had a quick run in the morning along the flat path that follows the road and could not believe how out of breath I felt! It was a bit unnerving as I didn’t think the altitude would affect me that much. We were at 2000m elevation in Olympic Valley – Kosciusko is 2200m and I haven’t noticed it up there before, but maybe not been there long enough to feel it. We all had bleeding noses and dry coughs and scratchy throats after a few days but otherwise felt fine.

My next run on Wednesday morning had me exploring the first climb of the race where my breathing actually felt better than the flat run the day before. I met another runner from Singapore so we ventured up a fews kms together and had a photo in the snow. I told Marc I’d only be about 30mins but lost track of time talking (not like me 😉 ) so when I looked at my watch and we were still climbing after 40mins I told my new friend I had to get back! So we enjoyed the nice run back down the hill. Marc texted me to ask where I was as he was waiting at the pool for me – he figured I’d met someone! Oops!

Wednesday evening the crew arrived (Kristen Brace, Belinda Simpson and Shane who was crewing mate Ewan Horsburgh) so we had dinner with them before another early night as they were stuffed.

Thursday all the race festivities kicked off and you could feel the excitement with all the runners starting to arrive. I met most of the other Aussie runners which was really cool. This day was meant to be the flag raising ceremony up at High Camp (near the top of the climb that we start on) but the aerial tram was closed due to a storm forecast so they held it on the grass at the start line. This was really special and there  weren’t a lot of people there so it felt quite intimate. I met and got to chat to some of the board members of WSER that were so lovely and welcoming and gave us so much advice on the race. My new bestie Dennis is the Aid Station Captain of Devils Thumb (47.8miles)  and has been doing this role for 30 years! Devils Thumb is the aid station you come to after the long hot section through the canyons so there is a lot of carnage there so his advice was amazing. Every time he saw me over the next two days he said “get off your feet!”.

We had dinner that night with the crew again and Ewan and his family at a great restaurant on Lake Tahoe, then caught up with Vicki & Chris (my travelling roadies 😊 ) who had arrived that night before heading off to bed.

Friday was a super exciting day with race rego. A quick run with Kristen and Shane in the morning and then I lined up with Ewan and we made our way through the very organised race rego process, being greeted like rockstars by each person in the process from bib collection, to photos and then through to getting our race pack goodies. I really couldn’t get the smile off my face! Then it was a shop fest in the WSER store to buy lots of race bling. Think I’ll be wearing WSER clothes for the next year! We also got the tram up to the top to see what we missed out on the day before and wow so glad we did. It was amazing up there!

The view heading up to the top on the tram. In the far distance you can see where we summit the top.

The afternoon brought the race briefing which was out on the grass and very hot but still exciting to be there.

Then it was time to pack our bags to check out the next day and put my feet up and chill for the night, quick crew meeting and then the crew went out for dinner and I had a quiet night in with a microwave meal and chatted to the kids. Alarm was set for 3.30am and off to bed we went, I actually slept quite well!

Race morning arrived and I woke up feeling really calm and relaxed and just ready to get on with it. I went through my usual pre-race ritual getting ready, eating some porridge, cup of coffee, sorting out feet and lubing up everywhere to avoid chafe seeing I would probably be wet for most of the race (this worked a treat and I had no blisters and no chafe!) and then it was time to head to the start line. It was still dark and a bit cool but exciting to see the start line and the countdown clock said 20mins. Enough time to do another loo stop!

I lined up with Ewan and saw two other Aussies Michael Duggan and Troy Lethlean (the main man that looks after me with Spring Energy Gels). We wished each other good luck and then the crowd called out the countdown before the shotgun went off. And  then up the hill we went! The track was lined with people cheering and taking photos and was lit up by floodlights so no need for a headlight. I spotted the crew and had a big wave and scream and was gone.

I took it super easy up this climb as was warned about the altitude and advised to take it easy for the first 30miles. This first climb up to the escarpment took me 55mins and I enjoyed every step, chatting to heaps of people. Before we knew it we were on the steepest part of the climb up to the escarpment and could see the top and all the people waiting there and cheering. I’d met a Canadian girl Chelsea on the climb and we were so excited – we hit the top together and turned around to look back at the sun rising over Lake Tahoe and we just screamed and hugged and shared a tear of excitement – it was mind blowing and nice to share that moment with someone as excited as I was!

A screenshot from the live feed a the top of the escarpment looking back over Lake Tahoe.So many people were up here cheering!

Then it was into what was the first of many miles of single track. The next 10miles was through the high country and a little snow, fields of sunflowers and amazing trails. It was much rockier than I had expected so I took it super easy – I was not going to blow an ankle here! I was conscious of Dennis’s words about being careful through here while the altitude was still high. It felt Ok mostly but at times I could feel pockets where it felt harder to breathe than others. I just trotted along sensibly – I kept saying the easier you go now, the better you’ll feel at Foresthill (100km) and that was my mantra for hours.

Lyon Ridge Aid Station was the first one we came by at 10.3miles and that was fun – my first taste of what the next 90miles of WSER aid stations would be like. You’d arrive and 3 people would rush to you to see what you wanted – I was in an out like a pit stop! It was still cool here so no need for ice etc so no need to hang around long. Aid station #2 was Red Star at 15.8miles was similar again, in and out.

Duncan Canyon was 24.4 miles and this was where the altitude started to feel better as we started to descend. It was also getting hot and this was where I got my first ice bandana. There was so much ice in it that it weighed a tonne and choked me a bit so had to get used to it. This was a spectacular section, the views were breathtaking. I was running along with Kaci Licktieg (previous winner) and Meghan Canfield (multiple top 10 finisher) for a long time, we kind of zig zagged each other and I thought I probably shouldn’t have been with them but felt good so just plodded along. I also ran with another top 10 finish finisher Erica for a while and she was giving us lots of good tips and showing us how it was done in the creek crossings – it was getting hot now so they were very welcome to dunk in! It was a nice girls pack I was with for quite a while.

Finally I reached Robinsons Flat and it was pretty hot by now, around 38degrees. This was the first time I saw my crew so that was exciting – it was a massive aid station. They had me in and out faster than I expected as I was behind time on the splits I gave them but I wasn’t worried, I was just running to feel, not looking at my clock at all. They seemed more concerned than me with the time and rushed me out of the aid station – the only time they forgot a few things 😉 The next time I saw them they had it all sorted 😊.

After I left Robinsons it was off to start the long 30ish mile trek through the Canyons. The first part was some nice running along a firetrail and then through aid stations at Millers Defeat, Dusty Corners and Last Chance – nothing here felt overly challenging other than the distance already covered and the heat. But the aid stations dumped buckets of ice water on our heads (took your breath away!) hosed off dust, reloaded our ice bandanas and drinks and sent us on our way – they were amazing.

It was now time to start the first steep descent into the first of 3 canyons. It was hot, reaching high 40’s, dusty, and really technical downhills that went down forever, and you kept thinking the longer I go down the longer I have to climb back up! The first checkpoint coming up out of the first canyon and the hardest climb of the day I thought, was Devils Thumb. I’d been looking forward to this one to see my new mate Dennis and he greeted me with open arms and a big hug, but didn’t let me hang around long! Dennis said the climb would take me an hour but I got up it in 39mins (I was timing it so I knew how much longer I had to suffer that section!) He explained the next Canyon was longer but not as steep and there was a great view. Off I went! Down, down, down. Obviously the view would be on the way up as all I saw was piles and piles of fresh bear shit which had me on edge and moving for fear of bumping into one of them! I was on my own for most of the canyons so had my eyes peeled for everything – bears, rattlesnakes and cougars! 😊 and of course it was very technical so you really had to concentrate here.

At the bottom of this canyon it was a relief to see the El Dorado Aid Station and a beautiful stream under the bridge we crossed over. Here I could top up with fresh ice and rinse off in the stream. Unfortunately this was where my nausea started to rear its head and I had my first big chuck as I started to climb back out but I felt so much better after it and soldiered onto the top. I just wanted to get this section done. But there was a nice view at one point as promised. At the top of this was the next aid station was Michigan Bluff and I saw my crew here so it was a welcome sight to see a chair and their faces as the canyons took a bit out of me. I decided to have a sit for a few minutes and get some food and fluids back in, not that much food was going in. After this I left still feeling a bit nauseas but trudged on. At one point I passed Aussie Alan Wheat who wasn’t feeling great, it was the first time I’d seen him all race. He was looking for his crew. I decided I’d take an anti-nausea tablet and gave one to Alan as well. (little did I know this was my last one and I’d need it later but shit happens and in the moment I was happy to help).

Leaving Michigan Bluff we headed into yet another canyon (I’d missed this one on the map!) and then finally we were at Foresthill aid station, the 100km mark and where I picked up Kristen my pacer. I was still feeling pretty nauseas here and not much food was going in, I was relying on fluids and ginger beer and anything I could put in that would stay in. My legs felt fantastic after all the downhill so far, I just wished my stomach would play nicely. The next section is all a bit of a blur, Kristen chatted away to keep me occupied, there was some nice runnable sections here so the miles just sort of came and went along with a few aid stations. Here I was taking in some hot broth and ginger beer, about the only thing I could get down along with electrolyte drinks.  The vomits though decided to keep coming from about Peachstone Aid Station at 70miles to the end. As I was mainly taking in fluids it was just a whole lot of fluids coming back up. I’d feel better for a while and keep trying to replace what I’d lost only to have it happen again each hour. I just resigned myself to keep moving as this was how it was going to be.

It was now dark and we were moving fairly well through the technical single track that was leading us down to Rucky Chucky River. Run a section, walk a bit. Repeat. It was great to finally see this spot as they say if you can make it to Rucky Chucky you can finish the race. I was hoping to feel a bit refreshed after the crossing but it was bloody freezing and hard work in the dark! They put a glow stick around our necks and then we headed into the ice river guided by a rope and about 20 people lined along it guiding us over the rocks, into the holes, telling us where to put our feet etc. The river is about 50m wide from memory. I couldn’t bring myself to duck my head under and wake myself up as it was too cold!

After the river we climbed about 3kms up a hill to the Greengate Aid Station where Marc and Belinda were waiting after a 1.5mile hike downhill to meet me – super crew! They could have been at Rucky Chucky but I really wanted to changed my shoes and clothes after the river, take off my pack and feel fresher for the last 20 miles and it was worth it as I did feel better. Although as we left them my vomiting really kicked it up to a new level – what ever I ate at Greengate swiftly came up and that’s pretty much how I stayed until the finish. From Greengate, Auburn Trails Aid Station to Quarry Rocks the course was mostly dark single track and Kristen was able to push me along here as we were still in sight to possibly crack the 24hour mark so we gave it a shot. Just as we thought we may be able to do it we hit the long climb leading up to Pointed Rocks. WTF?? This went on FOREVER! On a training run you could run it but 85miles into a race and vomiting non stop there was no way. I just had to keep trudging on and walk it, knowing the time was ticking away. I had barely nothing left in my reserves as I hadn’t eaten in ages but my legs kept moving forward. I felt bad for Kristen that I couldn’t give anymore. One highlight was seeing Hal Koerner and Scott Jurek at the aid station – bugger I didn’t have a phone and K’s has stopped working so we missed a great photo opp!

We got to the end of this climb finally and saw the crew at Pointed Rocks and here I knew my silver buckle was gone but a finish was definitely going to happen so I decided to back off and just to what I had to do to get it done and try and limit the suffer fest as much as possible, I wanted to enjoy the finish and not be miserable.

One final long single track that took us down to No Hands Bridge which was beautiful and all lit up with blue fairy lights. Kristen said come on, we need to run No hands so I sucked it up and ran the length of the bridge, maybe it was 250m long? As soon as I got to the end I promptly threw up again so we decided no more running until the last couple of kms. From here I literally vomited my way to the next aid station (the final climb) to Robie Point. I was really dizzy here and completely spent. I had to sit in a chair for a minute and I had a few sips of Coke hoping it would get me to the finish line. The medic said there was nothing he could do – showed me his buckle and that was enough to get me out of my chair and head off to a round of applause from the aid station guys.

Up a short hill and around a bend we came to all the locals that were camped out in chairs with lanterns in the trees and fairy lights everywhere and they gave me  the biggest cheer and the smile returned to my face as I knew I was nearly done. Once we started to go back downhill again and I could see the HOKA sign that took us over a bridge and finally into the track I started to run and we didn’t stop until we crossed that line. Belinda met us and gave us an Aussie flag before the track and then in we went, to Placer Stadium and we had 300m to run to the finish. The commentators were doing a little spiel about me and there was a cameraman running along beside me for the live feed I assume. Coming down that final stretch was amazing and I was just so stoked to see Marc, Vicki, Chris and Belinda and cross that line in 25hours and 31minutes. The relief was huge! Not quite 100miles in one day but close and the best I could give on the day.

WSER – that was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. It was brutal, beautiful, terrifying, exhilarating and just the most brilliant experience. I feel so privileged to have been able to take part in this race. It was the 8th hottest on record in its 49 years and it threw everything at me but I embraced it all, as it really is a once in a lifetime experience.

Huge thanks go to my crew and pacer, you followed me around all day and night in the heat, had challenge driving to do on the wrong side of the road, had to trudge to aid stations with all my gear I probably didn’t even use and you just kept me going.  You guys worked so hard and I appreciate you being there so much.

To all the volunteers and race organisers – this is truly a world class event – what you do out there is amazing and we runners appreciate it so much.

And mostly I want to thank Marc – you know I couldn’t do any of this without you. I love you.

I’m stoked to be able to say I am a Western States Finisher!


Shoes: HOKA Tecton X first 100km then HOKA Speedgoat 5’s to the finish

Socks: Steigan x 2

Shorts: T8 x 2

Top: Salomon

Pack/Hydration: Salomon 10lt


Nutrition: Spring Energy – Wolfpak, Awesome Sauce, Canaberry. Aid station bits and pieces

Fluids: Hi 5 Energy Source and GU Roctane. Ginger ale and sparkling water and hot chicken broth

Women’s Guide to Running and Menopause

In my role as an AURA Committee member I have had the privilege to sit on a few Webinar panels last year. One of our topic discussions was ‘Women in Ultra Running’. The topic is obviously very broad and we had many questions from our participants and could not cover off everything in one webinar! So afterwards we looked back through our notes to see what was one of the most asked questions and topics that women really wanted to discuss more. One of the biggest topics of interest we found was how menopause affected your running, and maybe your goals, and what what possible limitations you may encounter during this period of your life.

So here is an article that will hopefully give you some more insight in to what happens when you go through menopause and how Running, whether it be recreational, or ultra running, can really benefit women as they age and especially as we go through sometimes challenging period in our lives. We also look at how to overcome many of the symptoms of this very natural occurrence that women go through.

I will count up the amazing number of benefits running during the ‘Change’ provides throughout this article by placing the number in a bracket, so look out for them!

Please note, this is a pretty broad topic so it won’t cover it all however, it will give you some confidence to continue your running if you are experiencing peri-menopausal/menopause symptoms, help you understand more about what is happening to your body, explain why you may feel like crap, and also confirm how continuing to run is going to help alleviate many of your symptoms!

The ‘Change’

Around 40 years of age our bodies wind down from wanting to make babies to going through peri-menopause and finally menopause. Your ovaries start producing less oestrogen and progesterone, therefore menstruation becomes irregular until it eventually stops. Besides this pain in the butt process, the drop in these hormones effect more than just your reproductive system.

Oestrogen strengthens bones, so this drop will have an effect in your bone density which is something running, as a weight bearing exercise, can help conquer. Women can lose up to 20% of their bone density in the first 5-7 years post menopause! The 3 years leading up to menopause is when your bone density drop escalates and sometimes you may not even know you are going through ‘the change’ (if you are lucky!). This rate of bone density loss does slow post menopause. Weight bearing exercise such as running can really halt or drastically slow this decline (1).

Strength Training

Strength training is important to maintain lean muscle mass, support bones and joints as we age and should be an important part of your running program if in your 40s or beyond.

Muscle strength loss is well documented and we can lose up to 8% of muscle strength per decade from the age of 30 if steps are not taken to counteract it. A decline in oestrogen and testosterone can decrease your ability to build and maintain muscle – another reason running into your older years can be a great help (2). Trail runners especially, engage in a good strength session every time they tackle steep climbs or stairs as this has a lower impact on the joints. I advise to get off the roads occasionally and go bush! Find some steep climbs you are forced to hike up and get those quads and glutes working hard (3).

Further to this, the more lean muscle your body has the faster your metabolism will work, and therefore the easier it is to burn fat at rest (4). Get climbing and lift some weights!

Changes in Body Fat and Dietary Requirements

Lower oestrogen triggers your body to store fat more easily. The old ‘middle age spread’ can be in part attributed to menopause however, it is more common that many women become less active as they get older. Peri-menopause can make you feel tired and lethargic, so getting out for a run may feel harder and your activity levels feel like they are dropping off. If you can fight this and push through, you will definitely feel better in the long term. Exercise gives you more energy (5). Running burns a lot of fat and calories so will help combat this unwanted change (6).

Luckily for the people reading this article, this probably isn’t an issue as you are a motivated bunch.

So, besides consistency and trying to just keep going to combat fat gain, what we may need to consider is changing our diet! As we get older, we don’t need as many carbs as we become less sensitive to insulin and tend to store carbohydrates as fat more easily.

Runners typically eat more carbs to provide energy to cope with the demands of training and racing, however your body requires less as you get older. Overdoing it on the carbs can be a big contributor to weight gain around our middles. We need to look at eating less refined carbs in our eating in general and more protein to help maintain our muscle mass.

You may also get away with less gels and sports drinks in your long runs. Try eating real food instead such as a banana, aiming for less of the simple sugars which are in the gels and lollies. Running with a few less carbs on board will help your body burn more fat when you are doing your long easy runs.

Try cutting back on breads and pastas and focus more on vegetables, legumes and fruits. Add more dairy to your diet, which will assist in maintaining bone density with its calcium content and muscle mass with its protein component.

Increase your protein intake to help maintain lean muscle that you are working hard to achieve. Lean meats and whey powder have high levels of leucine which is an amino acid essential to building muscle.

All these changes will not only help you feel better and give you more energy, but they will help to feel a bit lighter around the middle.

As long as you are getting carbs through the mentioned food changes, you will have plenty of energy to fuel your training. Eating better to fuel your running will help with this annoying side effect of menopause (7)! Keep running and keep eating well!

Hot Flushes

Hot flushes are one of the main issues women suffer with, and exercising can exacerbate these due to less oestrogen. This affects the way your blood vessels expand and constrict, so blood pressure and a shift in temperature can affect your running. Normally your blood vessels expand as you warm up which sends blood closer to your skin for cooling, however menopause can blunt this response which traps more heat inside your core. The hypothalamus also experiences a change and this is your brains own thermostat which also contributes to hot flushes.

The good news is, research suggests that women who exercise regularly have less hot flushes, so we have ticked off yet another good reason to keep running (8).

Runners are used to feeling hot and sweaty anyway, however if you find you are overheating more than usual on a run, try having ice cold drinks with you (freeze the night before – great to drink but also good in your running vest pockets to keep you cool), ice bandanas (if you have ice available ) or cooling towels . These work well when wet and are a great addition to your running kit in the hotter seasons. Having something wet around your neck or head and/or wiping yourself down with a wet cloth can have an amazing cooling effect as you run. A Buff is always a great option to quickly wet along a run, and all of us ultra runners have plenty of these floating around.

Sleep (or lack of)

Sleep can be a problem with peri-menopause and this in turn can affect your recovery. As we know, sleep is crucial to recover from tough training sessions.

If you are a runner and exercising regularly, this can help with the interrupted sleep pattern by simply making you more tired to assist with improving sleep overall. (9)

Morning runs are better for you as it will have you energised for the day and tired ready for bed at night so you can crash into a nice (but maybe occasionally sweaty ) slumber. Night runs will elevate your temperature and make sleep harder to come by!

If you are still struggling, Melatonin is a great natural supplement to help you get to sleep and stay asleep. Try a slow release tablet if staying asleep is the issue, or a fast release tablet if getting to sleep is harder. Melatonin is now available without a script over the counter for over 55s, but if you are younger than that you will still need a script (or ask your mum to get it).

Make sure you power down your phones and devices at least 30 minutes before bed for the Melatonin to work effectively and keep your bedroom nice and cool too.

Racing and Training

A big question is, what about speed and racing? Will I lose my speed as I age?

This depends on your training age ie. how long you have been running for, your running history and where you are currently sitting with your training in general. Sure, we will all slow down as we age but that is not a bad thing as we are all mostly ultra runners.

Women tend to be stronger and their endurance tends to improve as they age. Sometimes a change in focus on the type of races you are planning will have you enjoying running much more. You may never get your parkrun time from 5 years ago, but girl you can run for days!

The main issue with speed is the decline in oestrogen and testosterone which, as mentioned above, hinders your ability to build and maintain muscle. Your fast twitch muscles (the speedy ones) also decline, therefore you may not be able to be as fast as you were in your teens and 20’s.

However, if you were never fast to start with, you still have room for improvement through menopause and beyond.

If you are new to running, at least two strength sessions a week is advisable to maintain muscle mass and reduce your risk of osteoporosis along with aid in injury prevention. Strong muscles can better absorb the impact and demand of running which protects your bones and connective tissue.

Menopause and Depression

Hormone fluctuations can definitely have an impact on our moods, and for some it can turn into a more serious depression.

If this happens, please speak to your doctor as there are ways to help you through this time, which is often temporary. Luckily for us runners, physical activity is a mood booster and running releases happy hormones and improves our moods! Yet another reason why you need to keep on running (10). If you are feeling really low, and even a run cannot lift your spirits, then it’s time to chat to the GP.

In a nutshell, menopause isn’t fun but it doesn’t have to be the end of your running career. In fact, running to alleviate your symptoms can be the catalyst to really kick start your running journey. The majority of your symptoms can definitely be managed by staying active and making a few changes to your training routine, eating plan, reassessing your goals and refocusing on the enjoyment running gives you rather than how much speed you have lost or how hard it feels.

Remember that consistency is key and if you continue to keep running regularly, it will ultimately get easier no matter what stage of life you are in.

Losing Weight in Your 50’s……and Keeping it Off


When I was posting this article I was looking for some pictures of over 50’s being energetic and all google came up with was people that looked to be in their 70’s and 80’s! When did 50 become old? (apologies mum and dad). I myself am 47 this year, I primarily train people from age 45-55 and none of them look like my kids grandparents! So why do some people think that getting to 50 is old? I know for a fact that there are some SUPER fit people in their 50’s that would run rings around many 20 and 30 years that I know. 50 is not old, its a time in your life that you should embrace your wellness and activity levels. The kids are older, you’re a be freer with your time in many ways (restricted in others for sure) but you should definitely  be able to make time in your life to prioritise your health. So instead of searching Google for 50 and active 50 years – I’ll instead use my amazing over 50’s clients! You only need to go to our Facebook page to see many fit and fabulous over 50’s! Click here and see for yourself!

I was asked to write an article on the difficulty of losing weight as you hit your mid 40’s and 50’s. Obviously even my active clients have found that as they have gotten to this stage losing weight isn’t as easy as it used to be, and thats true. It isn’t . Some things have to change as we get older if we want to stay the same size as we were 10 years ago. But the good news is that its really doable. So here is my take on what you can do to lose weight after 50 an keep it off.


For many people, maintaining a healthy weight or losing excess body fat can become harder as the years go by.

Unhealthy habits, a mostly sedentary lifestyle, poor dietary choices, and metabolic changes can all contribute to weight gain after the age of 50

One of the main reasons you’ll have to put in extra effort is that your body composition changes as you age. You lose muscle mass at an average rate of 3-5% for every 10 years after age 35, and this can impact the way you burn fat. Your body goes into its aging stage as it leaves the growing one. When this happens, your body doesn’t need as much energy as it used to.

Also, your resting metabolic rate, ie your body’s ability to burn calories while sleeping or sitting on the lounge doing nothing, decreases by about 1-2% per decade due to muscle mass loss and increased fat mass. Our diets usually don’t change enough to account for this metabolic adjustment, meaning weight can creep up slowly but surely with every birthday.

There are many ways you can get around this, however it does take commitment and a change of lifestyle and eating habits.


Find an Activity that you Love

Finding an exercise routine that you can maintain long term can be difficult. This is why it’s important to engage in activities that you enjoy.

I always advise finding something that is fun and you enjoy – if exercise ends up feeling like a chore it’s very hard to stick to. So if you like group activities, join a group exercise class, running club or sporting team so you can exercise with others on a regular basis. Group exercise has been proven time and time again to help with motivation and long term enjoyment as well as consistency and long term health.



It’s wise to get a doctors check up and get your hormones checked. As we age, progesterone, testosterone, and other hormones decline, which sets the body up for storing fat instead of losing weight.

Get the doctor to look at your thyroid, testosterone, adrenal glands, and other hormone levels checked—and then take the appropriate steps to bring them back into balance. This can go a long way toward helping people in their 50’s lose weight.


Choose the Right Supplements

If you feel fatigued and unmotivated, taking the right supplements may help give you the energy you need to reach your goals.

As you grow older, your ability to absorb certain nutrients declines, increasing your risk of deficiencies. For example, research shows that adults over 50 are commonly deficient in folate and B12,  two nutrients that are needed for energy production. If you are low on energy, its harder to stay motivated.

Deficiencies in B vitamins like B12 can negatively impact your mood, cause fatigue, and hinder weight loss.

For this reason, it’s a good idea for those over 50 to take a high-quality B-complex vitamin to help decrease the risk of deficiency. (Check with your doctor first)

Set Realistic Goals

Don’t plan to lose 10kilos before you head to Hawaii in a month – it’s not gonna happen and if it does, you are very likely to put it back on two days after stepping off the plane and drinking your first Margarita.

Be honest with yourself. How do you feel? How healthy are you? Have you been slacker than usual and a bit lazy? Is your diet not so great?

Decide what is your healthy weight goal to start with – one that effects things like energy levels, your skin, your clothes, your blood pressure, liver function (all those things that may be affected when you see your doctor for your check up). Then set out to lose it slowly, but consistently through sensible lifestyle changes that you can SUSTAIN for life.

Once you reach this goal, reassess how you feel and then decide if you want to choose another small goal. It may be to lose another few kilos, tone up and get stronger, participate in an event now that you are fitter.

Each goal like this you make is another step towards being and feeling healthier. But they are in small, bite sized pieces that are realistic and achievable. Map it out in a diary like you would a savings plan.


Overhaul Your Diet. Doh.

Just like the 90’s music you loved isn’t the same as it was when you were in your 30s, (even some songs lose their gloss) your metabolism has changed, too, which means you’re burning about 250 fewer calories each day. So if you continue to eat like you did in the early 2000s, and don’t increase your exercise, you’ll inevitably gain weight.

Eliminating the junk food in your diet and replacing it with loads of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can make cutting calories relatively painless.

Limiting foods high in added sugar including sweetened beverages, alcohol mixers, lollies, chocolate, cakes, biscuits, ice cream, sweetened yogurts, and sugary cereals, is critical for weight loss at any age

Learn to read a nutritional label!

Look for “added sugars” or search the ingredient list for common sweeteners such as cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and agave. Ideally you want the sugar content to be below 10g per serve.


Below are some samples of Nutritional panels:

a) b)  c) 


a) To look at the sugar content of foods, look at the Carbohydrate (CHO) content. Here, the CHO and sugars are the same (15.9g) so all the CHO in the food item is coming from sugars. Not good!

b) Here there is only 2g CHO but of that only 0.9 comes from sugar. Better, but keep in mind this is a low CHO food.

c) In this example there are 26g CHO but only 1g sugar and 2g fibre – a much better equation to aim for. Note – it’s a vegetable. Hint Hint ???? That leads me to the next point!


Eat More Produce

Vegetables and fruits are packed with nutrients that are vital to your health, and adding them into your diet is a simple, evidence-based way to drop excess weight. Of they are also low in calories and very filling.

Change how and when you eat

It’s not just what you eat, but how you eat that matters in your 50’s. Focus on fullness, not portion control, when you are planning your meals. If your stomach’s not full, you don’t feel full, and you’ll stay hungry. When it comes to healthy weight loss and management, you need to strike that important balance between eating until we feel full and satisfied while still decreasing our overall calorie intake. Increasing the protein and fibre content of meals will help keep you fuller for longer.

There are a few ways that you can limit your overall calorie intake without starving or counting calories – let’s face it – that is a real punish!

Try Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting is a type of eating pattern in which you only eat during a specified period. The most popular type of intermittent fasting is the 16/8 method, where you eat within an 8-hour window followed by a 16-hour fast.

Numerous studies have shown that intermittent fasting promotes weight loss.

Also, some studies suggest that intermittent fasting may benefit older adults by increasing longevity, slowing cell decline, and preventing age-related changes to mitochondria, the energy-producing parts of your cells by giving your digestive system a break.

Eat Less at Night

Many studies have shown that eating fewer calories at night may help you maintain a healthy body weight and lose excess body fat.

One study of 1,245 people found that over 6 years, those who consumed more calories at dinner were over 2 times more likely to become obese than people who ate more calories earlier in the day.

Plus, those who ate more calories at dinner were significantly more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions including high blood sugar and excess belly fat. Metabolic syndrome increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Eating the majority of your calories during breakfast and lunch, while enjoying a lighter dinner, is a worthwhile method to promote weight loss.

Increase Your Protein Intake

Eating a protein-rich diet can help prevent or even reverse muscle loss. Numerous studies have also shown that increasing dietary protein can help you lose weight and keep it off in the long especially when balanced with regular strength training.

How many calories you burn at rest, or your resting metabolic rate (RMR), decreases by 1–2% each decade after you turn 20. This is associated with age-related muscle loss. Another reason why strength training is so important.

Research shows that older adults have higher protein needs than younger adults, making it all the more important to add to your meals and snacks.

Embrace Strength Training

Even if you’ve never picked up a dumbbell in your life, now is the perfect time to learn to love weights. Because the secret to losing weight over 50 is this: Build more muscle mass to increase your metabolism (you’ve got about 20% less now than you did when you were 20). The good news is that this is very achievable. Regular weight sessions can help you regain the ability to lose weight like you were able to 20 years ago. Aim to lift weights at least twice a week, whether you use free weights or machines or do body weight exercises. It doesn’t hurt to lift every day—just make sure to work different muscle groups or train differently each day.

Include High Intensity Workouts

Many people as they age think they need to lower the intensity and take up things like walking rather than trying to exercise a bit harder and get their heart rates up. While I understand that if you have been inactive for a while and you decide to take on a program that leaves you gasping for air and screaming in every muscle group that would be very unappealing, to get the weight loss results you want, you need to be aware that you must at least raise a sweat, huff and puff and incur some discomfort! That’s a reality I’m afraid. The good news is that as you get fitter, the discomfort lessens and the happy hormones that exercise induces start to make you enjoy these sweaty sessions more and more.

To help aid in weight loss you need to elevate your heart rate, consume more oxygen than just walking and talking requires (yes ladies – you know what I mean, “lets ‘walk'” generally can mean lets stroll and chat!), and get a bit out of your comfort zone at least twice a week for a minimum of 30mins a day. Short bursts of high intensity exercise strengths muscles, improves heart health and helps to target belly fat.

If however you are new to HIIT then you can start out walking only, but it needs to be brisk. Then gradually add in hills, and more distance – as long as you are sweating and huffing and puffing you are getting there so that’s a great start. Once your fitness level improves, you can add body weight exercises, maybe light jogging and intervals (think run one telegraph pole, walk one etc). Everyone’s intensity level for HIIT is different so start off doing what suits you, your current fitness level, and work in with any joint pain or other issues you may have. Jumping in and doing too much too soon can lead to injury so be guided by a trainer if you are unsure. Bottom line it needs to feel a bit uncomfortable to have any benefit. Low frequency HIIT ie about every 4 days is great if you are starting out as it gives your body time to recover.

Over 50 and already fit? Go for it. If you are already a regular exerciser you can do any form of HIIT or higher intensity training 3-4 times a week, sometimes more for the ultra fit.

The benefits of high intensity workouts for weight loss are :

  • It burns a lot of calories in a short time – great if you are time poor
  • It raises your metabolic rate for hours after you have finished, helping you burn more calories at rest
  • It helps to lose body fat, especially around the belly. But more importantly it has an impact on visceral fat, the unhealthy and dangerous fat around your organs.
  • You are likely to get a gain in lean muscle, which in turn helps to burn more fat at rest by raising your metabolism
  • It improves oxygen consumption
  • It lowers Blood Pressure and reduces your resting heart rate
  • It reduces blood sugar and insulin resistance – very important for warding off Type 2 diabetes
  • There are many ways to get your dose of HIIT – from swimming and cycling, to weight training, to running to walking or mix it all up. Just remember the more body parts you use the better!

Sit Less and Move More

Burning more calories than you take in is critical to losing excess body fat. That’s why being more active throughout the day is important when trying to lose weight.

For example, sitting at your job for long periods of time might hinder your weight loss efforts. To counteract this, you can become more active at work by simply getting up from your desk and taking a five-minute walk every hour.

Research shows that tracking your steps using a pedometer or Fitbit can boost weight loss by increasing your activity levels and calorie expenditure. Ideally aim for a minimum of 10,000 steps per day. 12,500 is now the new recommendation, however if you are starting out, start with a realistic step goal based on your current activity levels such as 5000 steps per day. Then gradually work your way up to 7,000–10,000 steps per day or more, depending on your overall health.

Make the Most out of EVERY Workout

If you’re going to put in the effort to block out the time and exercise, squeeze into your sports bra and lycra and get to a class or the gym, don’t get there and waste your time. You can’t just turn up – you need to do the work. Far too many people think that just because they showed up, they’re working out.  You need to be focused on what you’re doing and push yourself hard enough to break a sweat or at least complete the full range of motion of a certain exercise. Don’t do things halfheartedly!

Check Your Stress Levels

Between paying for Sally’s dance classes, Johnnies uni fees and running the household and working full time, dealing with your own aging parents, being in your 50’s can be a very stressful period in your life.

Emotional eating and a schedule that seems too jam-packed for regular exercise sessions can take over your good intentions. If you want to succeed you need a solution – full stop.

And what’s the solution? Schedule your workouts like they are doctor’s appointments. You wouldn’t flick that because you were too tired would you?

Exercise is more important than brushing your teeth every day. It gives you far more long term benefits than anything you do in your life.

You need to find that routine that you can stick to and make it NON-NEGOTIABLE. Sure, it may mean an early alarm clock if that’s the only time to fit it in, but that also becomes routine and a good habit. The more you do it the easier it is. That is 100% FACT!

Sticking to a consistent routine can not only help ease stress, it can also help you stay on track with your diet. After all, who wants to ruin the benefits of a tough sweat session by eating a donut?

Get Your Sleep

Not getting enough quality sleep may harm your weight loss efforts. Many studies have shown that not getting enough sleep increases the likelihood of obesity and may hinder weight loss efforts.

For example, a 2 year study of 245 women demonstrated that those who slept 7 hours per night or more were 33% more likely to lose weight than women who slept less than 7 hours per night. Better sleep quality was also associated with weight loss success.

Aim to get the recommended 7–9 hours of sleep per night and improve your sleep quality by minimising light in your bedroom and avoiding using your phone or watching TV before bed. Read a book to relax or listen to relaxation music through your headphones is a dark room. Basically try and POWER DOWN. And do it early, don’t get caught up in the latest Netflix series if its going to keep you awake!

Hunger hormones (leptin and ghrelin) go into overdrive when you don’t get enough sleep which can lead to excessive hunger and poor food choices as you will be looking for that pick me up.

An early night followed by an early morning exercise session will have you ready for bed again the next night. Keep it up long enough and you fall into a great sleep routine and the early starts won’t bother you. If you are a night owl and like to train in the evening, remember that exercise makes it harder to sleep, so unless you have the luxury of a later start, it may be wiser to switch your day around if possible. You know the old saying, “early to bed, early to rise…”.

Focus on Body Composition

Although body weight is a good indicator of health, your body composition ie the percentages of fat and fat-free mass in your body, is important as well.

Muscle mass is an important measure of overall health, especially in older adults. Packing on more muscle and losing excess fat should be your goal.

Train With Friends that have Similar Goals

Research shows that those who attend group fitness or weight loss programs with friends are significantly more likely to maintain weight loss over time. I believe this to be extremely true based on my experience as a personal trainer of over 14 years and training many people in their 50’s – there is just not the fluctuation with huge weight gains then losses and that yo-yo cycle that I see elsewhere. I put that down to the social side of training which in turn promotes consistency, which is the intended outcome. Consistency get results!

Additionally, working out with friends can strengthen your commitment to a fitness program and make exercising more enjoyable.


So in a nutshell here are my biggest tips in summary:

  • Workout with a friend or a group – it will get you out of bed
  • Improve your sleep
  • Check your hormones to see if there are any underlying factors for weight gain
  • Strength train at least twice a week
  • Add in High Intensity to training that is suitable to your fitness level
  • Increase your Protein intake
  • Reduce Stress levels where possible
  • Make exercise a priority and diarise it like an appointment
  • Eat less at night
  • Increase your fruit and vegetable intake and reduce sugars.
  • Find a training routine that you love and can stick to
  • Sit less, move regularly on the hour if you have a sedentary job.
  • Aim for a minimum of 10,000 steps a day – doesn’t matter how you get them.

Its not rocket science – Its fixable but it takes commitment. So if you are complaining about your expanding waistline, don’t blame it on your birth certificate – own it and do something about it!



Intermittent Fasting – The Pro’s & Con’s

Intermittent Fasting – The Pro’s & Con’s

There is always a new fad diet around the corner promising to be the next best thing to help you lose weight – forget the rest, this is best, blah blah blah. Sound familiar?

Research continues into the best ways to lose weight and fasting is the latest buzz diet. However, does it really work? Yes and no – like all diets. Any diet will work if you can stick it out, but for me, the best diet is always the one that you can sustain long term and is nutritionally sound and supports your daily activity requirements. I also advocate learning about good foods, knowing whats on your nutritional panel, and even better, buying more foods without a nutritional panel ie eating real foods more often which means no packaging is required. Make sure you are eating well, not just less.

Intermittent Fasting (IF) works this way – You simply eat within a certain block of time, usually a window of 8–10 hours. In the other big block of time, about 14–16 hours, including when you’re asleep, you don’t eat anything, not even snacks. You can drink water, coffee, tea or any other beverage that doesn’t have calories. For example, if you like having a late dinner, you might skip breakfast and have your first meal at midday and your last meal of the day at 8 p.m., and then not eat until midday again the next day.

When you’re fasting, you’re not consuming calories, so it makes sense to assume that with eating less than you normally would, you’re going to lose weight. Fasting allows you to use up all of your stored sugars as fuel, and to then tap into fat stores. When we begin to burn fat stores, we begin to lose body fat, and as the research is now pointing to, gives us a a positive effect on our metabolism and hormones (which if course is contradictory to other research that says never skip breakfast, keep your metabolism revving by not fasting…). Everyone reacts differently, the trick is to find out what works for you and stick to it.

Other forms of IF are the “5:2 eating plan,” which means two nonconsecutive days of a strict 500 calorie a day diet, and five days of a normal, healthy food. This can be tweaked to 7:1 or 1:1, depending on how you want to implement it into your daily life. You can choose the strategy which best suits you. However, give yourself at least a few days, ideally longer, when you try each strategy so that you can determine how it is working for you. Look out for signs of improvements in  non-food areas such as more energy, deeper sleep, happier mood and better digestion/less bloating. Try logging changes like these in a food diary so you can track what works best for you. To really see that you are making improvements you need to give it around 4 weeks and measure your success with a tape measure, not just the scales.

Like any major eating and fitness change, it can take time to find the perfect fit, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different options — including ditching intermittent fasting altogether if it’s simply not your thing. If dieting messes with your head then it will never work.

I’ve put together some pro’s and con’s to intermittent fasting so you can see if it may or may not work for you.


  • It can be easier as it doesn’t involve specific foods, but rather a strict schedule about when you eat.
  • Its flexible in that you can manipulate the fasting times to suits your lifestyle to some extent.
  • Calorie counting isn’t required, you just need to eat your regular sized meals within the time frame (within reason – 3 Big Mac’s a day won’t leave you looking svelte no matter what time of the day you eat). Alcohol is yet another issue.
  • Research also suggests it may be beneficial for glucose tolerance, hormone regulation, better muscle mass and lower body fat – you can double the effects when you add regular exercise.
  • It can be added to any diet you are following (Paleo, Keto, Low Carb, Vegan etc)
  • Research with animals has shown that fasting may reduce cancer risks and slow aging by activating cellular mechanisms that help boost immune function and reduce inflammation associated with chronic disease (due to not having to constantly process food and allowing your system to heal). However, a reduction in body fat will also do this, so any way you can achieve lower body fat results is good.


  • Individuals all react to fasting in different ways – its not for everyone. Some people get ‘hangry’ if they don’t eat small regular meals, their bodies just can’t cope.
  • Can encourage ‘binge eating’. Once you allow yourself to eat you go overboard and consume excess calories because you are starving, negating any positive effects from the fast and calorie deficit.
  • In women, fasting has been shown to disrupt hormones and menstrual cycles and alter their ability conceive easily. Women’s hormonal balance is particularly sensitive to how much, how often, and what we eat. Read more here. 
  • We know from extensive research that those who eat breakfast have better metabolic outcomes than those who skip it, and eating at night can be detrimental to cardio metabolic health.
  • It may not work with your work, sport or activity levels.
  • If you train early in the morning you may be way too hungry to wait until 11am to eat as well as missing out on much needed recovery meals.
  • The research on IF is still new and the jury is still out.
  • Its has a high drop out rate, as people find they are too hungry
  • May not fit with your social life.
  • You may struggle with not being able to ‘reward’ yourself with that healthy plate of poached eggs as soon as you get home from training. Kill me now if I can’t eat after a run!


  • It can work if you need to lose weight in the short term, however the research shows that it works just as well as calorie restriction. You need to do what works best for you.
  • Everyone is different and some people respond much better to IF than others, whether it  is from a psychological view (can’t stick to it, too hard) or from a physiological view (low energy, mood swings, low blood sugar etc). Its not for everyone, however some people will love it.
  • Experiment and see what works for you, but give it time to see if it works.
  • Measure body fat losses, muscle mass gain/loss, energy levels, sleep patterns.
  • Don’t think that because you are eating in a certain time frame that you can eat whatever you like – maintain a balanced and nutritious diet.
  • There have been many studies done on the three types of eating plans – calorie restriction/portion controlled diets, alternating fasting days and normal eating habits. Nearly all studies have shown that the first two groups had lost weight compared to the normal eaters, however the fasters didn’t do any better than the calorie cutters.

Bottom line – to lose weight you need to restrict calories and increase your exercise to create a calorie deficit (doh) so the best way is the way that works for you, and that can take time, and trial and error to work out what that is. But there are options out there to try.

Any weight loss is good (if you need it) as it has the ability to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, help control diabetes and reduce many other health risk, and therefore has a positive effect on your health.

REMEMBER – Without exercise you may still lose weight, however you get no benefits from improved strength, mobility, aerobic fitness or muscle tone. No point having the scales showing the number you like but your heart and lungs are unhealthy and all your bits wobble!

Staying On Track

Staying On Track

OK – our latest challenge is over, the schools holidays are over, and it seems for some people that their will to succeed and desire to be great is also over!

How soon we can hit that slippery slope of laziness and lack of motivation! You think you’ve put in the hard yards for 5 weeks so you’ve earned a rest? Think you’ve lost a couple of kilos so its OK to slip back into your old habits – surely I’ve done enough to keep those kilos at bay? Think again sunshine! You are only as good as the effort you put in NOW.

Fitness is temporary – its not a never ending bowl of giving – you have to keep filling up that bowl day after day, week after week.

Exercise isn’t a punishment for what you ate or drank or how much you sit all day. Fitness is a celebration of the fact that you are alive and can move.

Fitness is for LIFE. It means that you approach your mind and body with respect. Or you can choose to disrespect the gift of your life. Don’t wake up one day and find that every that defines a healthy human being – such as the ability to bend over and pick up a grandchild, going for a walk along the beach, kicking a ball with your kids, going for a bush walk with the girls, swimming with your friends, walking for hours whilst on an overseas holiday exploring – is taken away from you because to CHOSE to lose your fitness now and hit that snooze button instead.

Fitness is a personal choice where you decide to live your life at the fullest because you are fit, strong and healthy, and anything in life seems possible.

Ask yourself this: If you could choose to get an extra 10 healthy years at the end of your life would you take it? If you are 30, this probably doesn’t seem relevant. BUT if you are in your 40’s or 50’s and overweight and don’t move, or have been inactive for way too long, you have made the decision to end your life earlier than those that realise today that FITNESS DETERMINES HOW YOU WILL LIVE YOUR LIFE 20 YEARS FROM NOW.

You, and only you, can determine the quality, and in many cases, the length of your life.

Move to Improve Your Gut, and Improve Your Life

Move to Improve your Gut, and Improve your Life

Our microbes need us to move.

Researchers have discovered that the composition of our gut microbes can be improved by exercise alone. How?

The first experiment compared faecal samples from mice that were sedentary with mice that were active. The diets and living conditions of the two groups of mice were otherwise identical. The only difference was whether or not they engaged in physical exercise.

The mice who exercised had enhanced microbial diversity (one of the keys to a healthy gut and immune system) as well as a higher number of butyrate-producing bacteria. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) known to be vital for colon health and energy production as well as helping to protect against colon cancer. The exercising mice also exhibited less inflammation and a faster recovery when exposed to toxins.

But can these results be translated to humans? Yes! When subjects were put on an exercise program consisting of 3 hours of cardiovascular activities per week for six weeks (walking, running, cycling or swimming), similar changes were seen in their gut flora. Once again, they made no changes in their diet so the effect was due to exercise alone. Note that the exercise was not excessive – an average of half an hour a day. However if they stopped exercising, the positive effects on their microbes started to wear off after six weeks. We need to keep moving for life.

Another simple measure that has been shown to produce a positive shift in our good bacteria is overnight fasting for 12+ hours between dinner and breakfast (it is said that 16 hrs is ideal, however for those of you that are training hard for events this is not practical nor recommended). A species of bacteria called Akkermansia muciniphila lives off the mucous that lines the inside of our gut wall and it needs the gut to be empty in order to feed. The significance of Akkermansia is that lean people have much more of this bacteria than obese people. Experiments have demonstrated that placing Akkermansia into the gut of overweight mice stops them becoming obese and prevents them from developing diabetes. Scientists are therefore madly trying to breed Akkermansia so they can put them into probiotics. But until this happens, leaving as long a gap as you can between dinner and breakfast is your best bet. Some studies suggest that 13-16 hours is ideal but do what fits in with your lifestyle and training.

And yes, that means you don’t have to eat breakfast first thing in the morning. I know this goes against everything you’ve ever been taught about healthy eating but it’s OK to skip breakfast! (times change as does the information we receive over years thanks to new research). Have your first meal of the day when you get hungry – be that 6am or 2pm or any time in-between. Your gut will tell you when it’s time for you to eat. It’s called hunger.


Why do we need a Healthy Gut?

Digestion – If you have a healthy digestive tract, you can expect to have good digestion. Maintaining a balanced gut bacteria is key for regular bowel movements.

Common digestive issues are Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) that affects millions of people. Worse still is and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The two main types of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These are both severe and can mean a lifetime of treatment and dietary limitations.

For people with digestive issues, doctors have found unbalanced gut bacteria plays a large role. Proof of that lies in fecal transplants. A fecal transplant is a procedure where stool (a poo) is taken from a healthy poo donor and placed into an ill patient’s colon. It sounds gross… but the point of the procedure is to repopulate the ill patient’s gut with healthy bacteria. According to a study published in the journal of Gastroenterology Hepatology, fecal transplants have a 93 percent success rate in curing and/or healing digestive issues. Within 12 months you will hear a lot more about these ‘poofusions’.

Immunity – Your gut is very closely linked to your immune system. In fact, approximately 80% of your immune system is located in your gut. So if your gut bacteria is properly balanced then your immune system will most likely function properly and help ward off illnesses.

Mood & Mental Health – The gut is often referred to as “the second brain.” In multiple case studies with mice, researchers were able to completely alter the mice’s behavior by changing their gut bacteria. The mice that had balanced gut bacteria were less anxious, more adventurous, and seemed to be in a better mood. Researchers wanted to find out if the same reaction would happen in humans.

In the study healthy women were given a fermented milk beverage. Some women were given milk that had a probiotic supplement in it. Other women were given milk without probiotics. Next, researchers scanned their brains while showing them photos of people with emotional facial expressions. They found the two groups of women had different reactions. The women who were given the probiotics showed a reduced brain response, meaning they weren’t as emotional when viewing emotional expressions. This = a better mood!

Weight – Do you eat healthy and workout, yet still struggle to lose weight? Have you ever wondered why your skinny friend who seems to be able to eat anything and everything can still fit into her skinny jeans? This reason may lie in your gut bacteria.


Warning Signs of an Unhealthy Gut

Frequent colds
Autoimmune diseases
Chronic fatigue
Food allergies
Acid reflux
Weight fluctuation
Thyroid disease
Joint pain
White-coated tongue


Gut Bacteria, Your Genes (and your Jeans!) and Obesity

A number of studies show that a diverse gut microbiome is key to staying lean. A 2013 study found that thin people have 70 percent more gut bacteria than people who are overweight.

Getting even more in depth, researchers found that the species of bacteria are different in people who are obese compared to those who are slim. A recent study found obese individuals to have about 20 percent more of a bacteria strain called firmicutes. Firmicutes help the body pull calories from complex sugars and turn those calories into fat. When firmicutes microbes were transplanted into normal-weight mice, researchers noticed those mice started gaining twice as much fat.

There’s a growing amount of research that suggests your gut bacteria actually influences food cravings, metabolism, and how many calories your body absorbs from the food you eat. Each person’s microbiome is unique, which means each of us responds differently to carbohydrates and fats and sugar. Our genes also play a huge role in our gut health, and there are now tests (homekits) available to find out how your genes can affect your ability to tolerate and metabolise starch carbohydrates, which can then provide a guide on nutrition and exercise required for your body type. Go to mycarbchoice.com.au to find out more. This new research is fascinating and you will be hearing much more about it and the importance of gut health in the future.

The point here is – if you want to drop a dress size, you should focus on improving your gut health!

For anyone wanting to restore their gut and lose weight, ditching sugar and alcohol is a must to start with for 1-2 weeks to reset your gut, as these stop good bacteria from growing in your gut and feed bad bacteria. By cutting these out you’ll feed better almost immediately in regards to your weight and energy levels. Extremely overweight people may need to start with a detox or intermittent fasting to help remove the toxins that have built up in their microbiome before they will see results. Overweight people are essentially ‘unwell’ people, so they need to get well before they can start to lose weight. But its worth the effort and time isn’t it??

Gut Killers

Sugar/Preocessed Fods
GMO’s, Pesticides and Chemicals
Artificial sweenteners

Warning Signs of an Unhealthy Gut

Frequent colds
Autoimmune diseases
Chronic fatigue
Food allergies
Acid reflux
Weight fluctuation
Thyroid disease
Joint pain
White-coated tongue

Foods To Help Your Gut

Grass Fed Meat
Fatty Fish such as salmon and/or fish oil supplements
Bone Broth
Steamed Vegetable
Non-Dairy Fermented Foods such as unsweetened cocnut milk yoghurt, coconut mil kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi
Daily Probiotic supplements such as Inner Health


And most importantly – MOVE!



Performance Nutrition in Racing & Training & Taking Into Account the Vert

Performance Nutrition in Racing & Training

The 3 primary substances you can ingest before, during and after running to maintain your activity levels are calories, fluids and electrolytes. More specifically it is most important to have Carbohydrate (CHO), Water (H20) and sodium (Na). (I’ve used the chemical symbols here as I’m a lazy typer so they’ll be used from now on!) These make or break your athletic performance. And of course Protein (PRO) is required for recovery. The hard thing is working out how much of each you need, and how you are going to get them.

Most sessions in your week are 1-4 hours long (assuming you are training for marathon+). To make sure you can have a high quality and effective session you need to start out well fuelled and well hydrated. It’s important to master your hydration and nutrition strategies in training, otherwise you won’t be able to nail them come race day. Practice is the key and working out what works best for you.

If you train on low fuel then you may be limiting your ability to train to your potential, and therefore limiting your fitness gains. Think about it – when you race, you constantly pump in gels, CHO and fluids to maintain your pace and intensity levels. You should be doing the same in training as you are asking your body to work harder in preparation for a race. Your quality sessions should feel much harder than the pace you will expect to be running at on race day, so you need to fuel accordingly. The exception can be a long slow easy run, where you can rely more on your fat stores to keep you going and get your body used to utilising fat for energy. However if the demands of that long run include a fair bit of climbing, even if you are hiking, you will still need something more than water if you want a quality session.

Determining your Caloric Burn Rate & Accounting for the Vert

Most of the races we train for here at Energy Fitness contain a considerable amount of vertical climbing. Therefore we need to consider our calorie consumption and expenditure as it is much more demanding to climb than it is to run on the flat. To work out how many calories you consume when running (helpful if you do not have a HR monitor) use the below formulas.

• A standard rule which works well for most is one calorie per kilogram, per kilometre on the flat
• BUT when climbing use a 1:10 ratio between vertical gain and horizontal distance.

1 metre of vert gain equates to the same energy cost as 10 metres of horizontal running. (or 1000m of vert = 10km flat)

EG 70kg runner runs 20km with 1000m vert.

70cals/km (70 x 20) = 1400 cals. Then add the climbing.
10km (70 x 10 = 700) gives you a total of 2100 calories expended.

So say the runner takes 3 hours to run 20km with 1000m vert and expends 2100 cals. They can only ingest roughly 200-300 cals max an hour, so they will be around 400 cals in deficit if they are burning 700cals an hour. This is fine as long as you stay on top of what your body can handle which is 200-300 cals per hour as well as fluids and sodium. Without enough fluid or sodium your body with struggle to absorb the calories into the bloodstream. Don’t ever try to replace what you burn – you’ll end up squatting in a hole somewhere or throwing up over your shoes. Too much will hinder your performance, especially in longer events.

NOTE that this is a pretty good guide but will differ slightly from person to person depending on current fitness levels, body weight and genetics. However it’s a great starting point and you can confidently follow it if you have nothing else to go off.

Another way and probably easier to manage if your HR monitor show calories burned is to consume 30-40% of your hourly energy expenditure. This then takes into account gender, fitness and body weight.

Example: If you burn 750cals per hour you will need 225-300 cals (30-40% of your hourly expenditure).


What does 100cals look like?
• One gel
• 3 Perpetuem chews
• Half an energy bar
• Half a banana
• 1 scoop Tailwind or equivalent (check labels of each product you use.)
• 3 GU Chews or Shotbloks
• 1 slice of bread (use only white as its low fibre)
• 2 pieces of watermelon



Hydration status is more important than fuel availability – fuelling can be easily fixed by popping in some CHO (provided that you are not suffering from gastric distress ie bloating and nausea – as this is then easier said than done!). Dehydration takes a lot longer to recover from as you have had a drop in blood volume. When you stuff up your fuelling you can pop a gel, eat some sugar, let it digest and you bump up your glycogen stores, and then can carry on.

However with dehydration, the mechanisms that regulate blood volume take hours to rectify if you get it wrong, causing nausea and bloating, which generally leads to gastric distress (you need fluids to ingest food properly to get them into your bloodstream – without that is sits in the gut causing issues, and stopping you from eating,  so your dehydration then also becomes a fuelling problem). Worse still, if you stuff up your hydration and sodium intake bad enough you can end up in hospital. It can also be potentially fatal (hyponatremia).


A good table showing the effects of increasing dehydration on your physical performance
Body Water Loss % Effects
0.5% Loss  – Increased strain on the heart
1% Loss  – Reduced aerobic endurance
3% Loss – Reduced muscular endurance
4% Loss – Reduced muscle strength, reduced fine motor skills, heat cramps
5% Loss – Heat exhaustion, cramping, fatigue, reduced mental capacity
6% Loss – Physical exhaustion, heatstroke, coma, potential death


Sodium (Na)

Combining CHO and Na together when training or racing allows them to move into the bloodstream more quickly, so it’s wise to have a combination of both (eg Tailwind, Heed etc which contains both, or gels AND Endurolytes together). If using commercial sports drinks like Gatorade they normally contain an optimal mix of CHO & Na. When mixing your own make sure you have the concentration right – too weak and it will be useless. Too strong and you will risk overdoing it and feeling sick. A good guide is 2 scoops per 500ml water.
NOTE – don’t use sugar free products when fuelling as they are useless! They contain no CHO which = no energy.


Pre Workout Nutrition

In terms of CHO you want to start your sessions and races with full glycogen stores. You can only store around 1600-2000 cals of glycogen in your muscles and liver. While you are burning CHO you also burn a bit of PRO and fat as well, but the substance you want to rely on to get you through the session or event is CHO.
Starting a race (up to 30mins prior) with 100-150cals on board will make sure you have a good 45mins in you to get going. Then you can start sipping or sucking away on your other food.
The night before have something healthy and boring with not too much fibre and not too heavy. I find a plate of roast chicken and veggies nice and simple. Pasta can leave you bloated and feeling too full. As long as you have eaten enough the few days before you will be fine and no need for massive carb loading or it will literally bite you in the bum on race day. Remember that you have also been tapering so you are using less energy. I like to indulge in a hot chocolate the day before, and have a few things I may not normally have, like a bit of choccy with a cup of tea before bed and the bikkies in the motel room…..but also make sure you are drinking enough. I also prefer to try and get my CHO the day before from more liquids than solids, as they seem to not feel as heavy. A Gatorade, pumpkin soup and a bread roll, Milkshake, Up & Go’s etc. That’s pre race – pre training I just eat a normal healthy meal. Again, it’s all about practice and what works for you.


Post Workout Nutrition

You can make sure that you have full glycogen stores before your next workout by making sure you replenish them by consuming CHO 30-60 mins post training or race. This is the window when your body is most primed to uptake glycogen. You also need to consume some sodium to replace what you have lost through sweat, but sodium also plays an important role in transporting CHO out of the gut and into the bloodstream.
And don’t forget you also need to replace fluids! A good way to start is to have a CHO rich recovery drink that also contains sodium, such as Gatorade. Flavoured drinks are also easier to get down after a hard session than water. Then in the 4 hour period post workout have another meal containing CHO & PRO.

In the 4 hour period post workout a 70kg runner should aim 1.5g CHO per kilo of body weight (105g). This is a lot, especially when you add protein and fat to these calories, so aim to consume the first 50-60g of CHO in the first 30-60mins, and then slowly take in the rest over the next 3 hours as you can stomach it. This will ensure that you lay down glycogen stores to fuel your next run. A few ideas for meals containing CHO & PRO are eggs & Avo on toast, Protein/Banana Smoothie, chicken and salad wrap, fruit etc.

Don’t forget PRO for muscle recovery – the guide is about 1.2g/kg body weight. Using our 70kg runner again as an example, that equates to 84g PRO. You also need about 1g/kg bw of fat (70g). Good fats include avocado, nuts and seeds, olive oil, olives, oily fish.

Good choices to refuel CHO and Na in the first 30-60 mins:
• Gatorade, Staminade, Heed, Gu Brew etc – probably the easiest
• UP & Go
• Banana with peanut butter
• Chocolate milk
• Fruit and yoghurt
• Fruit Bread/vegemite toast or sandwich
Endurolyte capsules
• Scrambled eggs on toast or muffins with salt

Good Choices to replace protein in 4 hours post run:
• Eggs (2)
• Chicken, turkey, pork, red meat
• Cottage cheese
• Skim milk
• Protein powder (use in smoothies)
• Fish
• Low fat plain Greek yoghurt

Weight Loss and Performance

There is no doubt that carrying extra unnecessary kilos will hinder your performance – however trying to lose weight during a heavy training period can have more detrimental effects than racing with an extra kilo or 2.

Runners that try to restrict calories in order to lose weight risk training low on fuel therefore they are not optimising the effectiveness of their training and not getting to the ultimate goal – getting fitter for race day. They also risk losing lean muscle mass as well as body fat which when you are asking your body to perform at its best, not to mention all of the climbing we do, is counterproductive to what we are trying to achieve – strong, fit runners. Training consistently on low fuel and losing too much weight also affects your immunity, your hormones and energy levels – all with dire consequences in respect to your training program. Being ill or constantly tired is no way to achieve your running goals!

I would much rather see a fit runner that is carrying an extra kilo or two race than a runner that has lost weight to the detriment of their fitness – on race day the fitter runner will always beat the runner that has lost too much weight.

Training at the right intensity because you have fuelled well will mean that your weight should take care of itself – you’ll burn more calories and fat in a high intensity, hard session than you will if you just plod through and survive it. And don’t forget the EPOC effect (excess post oxygen consumption). The higher your heart rate, the more oxygen you consume and harder the session, the more fat and calories you will burn for the rest of the day. Burning cals while you rest? Yep!


Happy Running!

Simone Hayes is a Level 3 Personal Trainer and  Level 2 Recreational Running Coach. An experienced ultra runner with countless 40km-100km trail events under her belt, she guides runners of all abilities through online coaching and weekly Run Clubs and strength sessions, as well as running her outdoor PT business for the past 13 years.
For more information contact Simone: simone@energyfitnessgymea.com.au

12 Days of Fitness

12 Days of Fitness 2018

Effects of Bludging Pre and Post Christmas (ie the Effects of Detraining)

Planning on taking it easy in the lead up to Christmas because it is the party season after all? Think again!

Cutting back or missing sessions will be detrimental to your strength and fitness – ‘Use it or Lose It‘ rings very true here!

If you back off before Christmas and then continue to do less over the Christmas break, you will potentially be detraining for up to 10 weeks! (it’s only 6 weeks until Christmas now and then most of you take a break or go on holidays after Christmas!)

The Facts

Detraining (short-term <4 weeks)

  • Strength can be maintained without training up to 3-4 weeks, but is gradually lost thereafter (strictly speaking, you can temporarily lose strength before this, but it comes back so quickly during retraining that it doesn’t matter)
  • Muscles start to atrophy (reduce in size) after 2-3 weeks, though gains usually come back quickly, at least in beginners. Trained athletes or those with a long training history may take longer to get back to where they left off.
  • Endurance performance decreases by 4 to 25% after 3-4 weeks. That’s huge and hurts to get back. That hill that used to feel OK now feels like a mountain!
  • VO2 max (your maximum oxygen consumption and an indicator of fitness) declines by 6 to 20% at around 4 weeks of detraining.
  • Beginners can maintain endurance performance for at least 2 weeks without training, though recent VO2max gains can be reversed after 4 weeks. So if you are just starting out and feeling great then stop training over Christmas, you’ll be starting again from scratch. Remember that feeling when you first started? Do you really want to go back there?
  • Muscle, strength, endurance, and fat gains/losses vary from person to person. Some will suffer more than others.
  • Flexibility is reduced after 4 weeks of detraining by 7-30%
  • Bed rest/immobilisation/sedentary behaviour (sunbaking?) speeds up muscle atrophy – sleeping in shrinks muscles!
  • Lastly, your metabolism slows (due to loss of lean muscle and less activity) which will lead to weight gain.


Maintaining Gains and Fitness over a Break

  • To maintain strength during 4+ weeks of detraining, train at least once per week (for beginners) and twice a week for more trained athletes.
  • To maintain hypertrophy during 4+ weeks of detraining, train at least once per week (for beginners).
  • To maintain endurance during 4+ weeks of detraining, you can lower training volume by 60 to 90%, training frequency by no more than 20-30% in athletes,  but beginners can reduce it by 50 to 70%. Training intensity should be the same. Therefore, if you do less, it still needs to be a hard workout to be effective. The odd walk won’t cut it.
  • If injured, use alternative training forms such as strength training (which can maintain some endurance performance) or underwater running, cycling or swimming.


So – if you are pondering taking it easy over the Christmas break, remember that being active should be a year long/life long habit, not something to stop and start. Something is better than nothing so even if its 30mins, just get out there and move each day over the break.

The #1 Habit You Should Have to Lose Weight

One great reason here why Group Training works with Weight Loss and Fitness Gains, and how to make it happen for you.

The #1 Habit You Should Have to Lose Weight

We can all agree that a habit is anything you do regularly, but according to the definition used in psychology, a habit also needs to be done automatically — as in, without really thinking about it.
All habits need a trigger — a little reminder that says, “Hey, you should do this action now.” You want to be able to just get out of bed and exercise, just as you brush your teeth each morning.
They also need a reward — a little reminder that what you just did was a good thing. “Hey – I nailed that class and feel great” is sometimes all the reward you need.
Habits are hard. But repetition and rewards make actions become habits much more easily.

How to make exercise a HABIT

Permanent lifestyle changes happen in relationships. Whether they take place with peers, a coach, family, friends, coworkers, the other anonymous people at training sessions, new habits happen when people get together and help each other out.
Finding your own triggers are hard. Seeing other people’s is easy. “I wish I could be as focused and consistent as her”. You can!
Remembering to tell yourself, “Great job!” is hard. Pat yourself on the back for every session you do, even if you came last up that hill. Hey, you were there when many weren’t!
Remembering to tell other people how awesome they are is easy. Try telling yourself sometimes.
Figuring out how to enjoy new foods, new activities, and new steps into your own life is hard. Watching and learning from a whole bunch of other people like you who are trying to get to the same place you are is just so much easier!
That is why Group Training Works!
At Energy Fitness we thrive on working as a supportive community, all with the one goal – to be healthy for a long time and to have fun doing it.
Come along and see for yourself – enjoy a week’s free trial – no contracts or commitments, just try it.
Go to www.bioathletic.com.au/training-club/ to sign up for your free week.