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.

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

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 Importance of Electrolytes When Exercising

Sweating Much This Week???



With the current heat wave upon us and the fact that we are all continuing to exercise or train for upcoming events (which is great), we need to take a closer look at Electrolyte replacement to ensure that we can get the most out of our training and recovery.

What are electrolytes?

Electrolytes are important nutrients for our bodies as they play key roles in sending electrical impulses that influence our heart, muscles and nerves. They also play an important role in fluid balance and hydration in our cells, tissues, and our muscles. Lack of sufficient electrolytes can contribute to muscle cramps, delayed muscle soreness (DOMS) and spasms following exercise, and can contribute to headaches.

Symptoms of Electrolyte Imbalance

• dark urine (a sign of dehydration)
• irregular heartbeat
• fatigue
• lethargy
• convulsions or seizures
• nausea and/or vomiting
• bowel irregularities (including diarrhea and constipation)
• abdominal cramping


Where are Electrolytes Found?

Electrolytes include sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride and magnesium. Most often electrolytes can be found in foods but they can also be found in beverages such as coconut water and juices made from electrolyte-rich fruits and vegetables. Electrolytes cannot be consumed by drinking water as water lacks these important electrolytes.

Which Foods Contain Electrolytes?

Foods that are naturally higher in electrolytes include all plant-based foods, but particularly fruits and vegetables, and primarily those that are red, orange, and/or yellow. These fruits and vegetables not only contain a rich-source of potassium but are also good source of magnesium. Nuts, seeds, and beans are also a good source of magnesium and calcium, but are not rich sources of potassium and sodium. Green leafy vegetables can also be a good source of calcium and potassium.
Good sources of Potassium:
– Beans (white beans)
– Green leafy vegetables: spinach, chard, kale, beet leaves
– Potatoes
– Bananas
– Dried apricots
– Yellow Squash, butternut pumpkin and zucchini
– Avocados
– Red, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables: bananas, beetroots, oranges, capsicums.
– Coconut water
Good sources of natural Sodium:

– Celery
– Beetroot
– Bok choy/Pak Choy, Asian Greens
– Capsicums (red, yellow, orange)

I also don’t mind a bit of good old Aussie Vegemite which is high in sodium, as is table salt, however salt is added to many packaged foods so minimise the amount you use.


Magnesium supports bone and teeth development, nerve and muscle function and enzyme activation. Getting enough magnesium in your diet also protects you from high blood pressure, a factor that increases your risk of heart disease, and helps to combat osteoporosis. It is found in leafy green vegetables, nuts, cereals, beans and tomato paste. Magnesium cannot be stored in the body so if you are not getting enough in your diet consider a supplement. You need a small amount of magnesium daily, about 400 milligrams for men and 300 milligrams for women.


The body uses calcium for bone and teeth formation, blood clotting, muscle and enzyme function and normal heart rhythms. Calcium is most commonly found in milk and milk products. It is also in meat, fish with bones such as salmon, sardines, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals, beans and certain fruits such as dried apricots and figs, and vegetables such as asparagus and leafy greens. Aim for at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day.

Good sources of Magnesium and Calcium

  • Beans
  • Nuts & seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds, wholegrains and yoghurt (magnesium mainly)
  • Almonds, cashews, sunflower & sesame seeds, brazil nuts and pine nuts  (highest content)
  • Green leafy vegetables (calcium) and wheat-based grains (magnesium)


Electrolytes Post-Exercise

When you sweat, you primarily lose potassium and sodium, therefore to replenish the electrolytes lost, you can make a juice made from red, yellow, and orange produce (for natural sodium) with some green leafy vegetables (for potassium) to help replenish. Coconut water is also a great source of both potassium and sodium and is lower in calories and sugars. Try mixing the fruit and veg in coconut water or just have on its own. For the most part, coconut water is also higher than most juices in electrolytes, and therefore can make for a great way to replenish electrolytes lost through sweat.

Pre or Post-Exercise?

If you are participating in a high intensity exercise or training when it is very hot and humid, it’s important to prepare your body with electrolytes prior to exercising. For most, it may be more beneficial to drink 500-600mls of an electrolyte-rich beverage such as coconut water or electrolyte-rich juice, prior to exercising instead of waiting until after the exercise session.

Pre-exercise, your body is more likely to benefit from a higher electrolyte beverage as you provide your body with sufficient electrolytes before losing them through sweat.

Post-exercise, the focus should be more on a protein-rich beverage to repair muscle damage due to the exercise session. Dairy products contain key electrolytes and are also a source of protein and carbohydrate.

You can also use Staminade, Gatorade or similar to increase your electrolyte intake before, during or after exercise, but these are higher in sugars unless you are using a sugar free product (not a bad thing if you also need more carbohydrate intake for energy). Other electrolyte sources that are great are Hammer Endurolytes (a capsule) that can be taken with water, or various effervescent tablets that can be added to a drink bottle from brands like GU, Hammer, High 5, Endura.

What About Water?

Though water does not contain a good source of electrolytes, it still plays an important role in hydration and should not be forgotten.



Summer BeachFit 2016 – The Fastest Way To Get Fit and Get Over the Christmas Blowout!

Christmas Festivities getting to your waistline already? Book in Now to Blow Off the Post Christmas Belly Bulge and Start 2016 Fit and Fresh!

Bookings for Summer 2016 Now Open! But Hurry – numbers are limited!


BeachFit is a 10 Week Intensive Program that is run by Energy Fitness 3 times a year at Greenhills Beach Cronulla, in the Sutherland Shire.

With the help of the Beach and the Sand Dunes, this high intensity program produces great results year after year (it started in 2006).

The benefits of running on sand are many:

  • Increased effort burns more calories
  • Great for improving leg strength, muscle stabilisation and core
  • Low impact on soft sand is great for joints
  • Increases in fitness are gained quickly
  • Weigh-ins before and after program show consistent body fat loss across participants
  • All participants notice a marked improvement in fitness, body composition, muscle tone and endurance
  • Variety of training in both sandhills and on the beach as well as water work when weather permits.

BeachFit is held in a low key, supportive atmosphere, and there is no ‘bootcamp’ yelling and abuse – just hard work and lots of fun. Every 90min session is different. Finish the session with a swim to cool off (if you’re not already wet) and you will start the day feeling amazing. Completing each session gives you a great feeling of accomplishment and you are guaranteed to enjoy yourself and get the results you want!

Programs are run October-Dec, and Feb-April. All sessions start from the carpark at Greenhills, Cronulla.

The Next BeachFit Program starts Monday 1st February 2016 and runs until 6th April, 2016.

For More Information and to make a booking or enquiry please visit the Energy Fitness Website here.

Bookings are now open, limited numbers available per day.

RESULTS ARE GUARANTEED (the program has been running for almost 10 years with consistent results) AND SUPPORTED WITH NUTRITIONAL ADVICE OVER THE 10 WEEKS.


“I have participated in a number of Simone’s BeachFit training programmes over the past 18 months. Simone offers a fantastic 10 week programme based around high intensity training on sand which is low impact on joints making recovery from each session much easier with little or no soreness in between sessions.

Like many things in life you get out of it what you put into it. If you follow Simone’s training programme and her dietary recommendations & suggestions you are guaranteed to achieve your desired results whether that be weight loss, building muscle mass or general increased level of fitness.

You can achieve even better results if you supplement Simone’s two weekly sessions with one or two other exercise sessions per week. Simone makes the sessions as much fun as possible and no two training sessions are ever the same which is the thing I liked most.

I would not hesitate to recommend Energy Fitness BeachFit to anyone !!”

 Brad Smith, Gymea Bay


“Beach fit offers me everything that I need for an awesome workout!  I find the combination of waves, sun, sand and movement a perfect workout for me.  Beach fit has helped me to look and feel stronger. I have also noticed a tremendous increase in my energy level.

In conjunction with running Beach fit has enhanced my level of fitness.  It provides an all over body workout in the best environment imaginable. The mix of working out on the beach one week to sand hills the next provides a varied workout that never gets boring.

A few years ago I took up the challenge of ultra-marathons and beach fit provides me with the extra leg strength required to help me be stronger and fitter to reach the end of those long runs. I can honestly say I can run for 3 hours and not feel as exhausted or exhilarated as doing a session of beach fit.

I enjoy the workouts and look forward to every class”

Susan Jay, Gymea Bay

Mother’s Day Classic 2014


What a wonderful way to spend Mother’s Day!

This was the 6th year in a row that Energy Fitness has participated in the MDC, and each year it get’s bigger and better. Energy Fitness had two buses of participants from the Sutherland Shire with many other EF’er’s scattered over the other 6 buses,  so a great turnout from all of you. Bay Babes had a whopping 720 members on the day, and I think they need to rename the event the Bay Babes Classic! 🙂

Being a part of the amazing Bay Babes is a truly special experience, as all the Gymea Bay mums and their families get together to celebrate the day, their health and to raise money for a wonderful cause, Breast Cancer Research. And once again, the Gymea Bay Babes took out the award for the Biggest Community Group! Well done to the organiser Chris Callinan and her committee of volunteers.

Amongst us there were survivors, carers and of course those battling the illness right now, so it speaks volumes about how important this event is.



The event consisted of 4km & 8km Walks, and 4km & 8km Runs. There were some that chose to walk with their families and others that took the event more seriously, and for those that ran the race in earnest, there were some fabulous results and massive improvements in times over last year.

Special mention goes to Natalie O’Brien and Linda Knowles of Gymea Bay that had great results in the 8km Run, with Natalie coming 2nd in her age (30-39) and 8th overall, and Linda coming 10th in her age (50-59) and a huge PB. She wasn’t the only one with a PB and there are too many to mention here, but I have to say as a trainer I am so proud of all of those that ran, as they all had a go and did their absolute best on the day. And that is all that matters!

I hope to see you all again next year and would love to see even more new faces at the event!




So, you have decided to bite the bullet and do a Half Marathon! Good on you! I have set this plan around 20 weeks leading up to the Hunter Valley Running Festival Half in July 2014 so this plan should commence on the 15th March which is tomorrow! This only gives you 19 weeks and will be plenty, however you need to get cracking now! But before you do, I want you to start preparing yourself for the coming weeks that will get you over the line. So call this a pre-half marathon training program!

Before you start you need to:

  • Get yourself properly fitted for a good pair of running shoes. You can expect to pay around $150-250 dollars for a decent pair of shoes but they are so important. All injuries generally start at the feet and if your shoes are wrong for you and you start punching out km’s in them you will end up injured and there goes your race! I recommend seeing Trent Wood at Southside Runners in Cronulla (9545 6010) to fit you, as he is one of the most experienced people in the industry. A pair of shoes should get you around 500km of training before you will need new ones. Just save them for running, not cross training when you are with me up at the oval. You will then need a new pair for race day.
  • Comfortable clothes are important and need to be able to breathe and wick away sweat and avoid chafing. They don’t have to be fashionable, just practical.
  • Invest in a drink belt that you can use to carry fluid and gels etc in. Nathan is a good brand and can be found online. GU products and similar energy supplements can be purchased locally at Endeavour Cycles Gymea, in Gymea Shopping Village, or even in your supermarket.
  • Plan your days that you are going to train so that you can stick to the program and fit in cross training as well. To be a good runner you also need a good core and good strength so keep up your other classes as well. The rest days from running are good for this as they keep your aerobic fitness up too, while allowing the muscles used for running to have a breather.
  • Start to pay attention to your diet and realise that you will need to fuel your body accordingly to have the energy to run long distances. This doesn’t mean you necessarily need to eat more, as you want to be leaner to run better, but eat differently and get enough carbs/proteins and good fats for fuel and recovery. You may need to look at mulitvitamins if your diet is inadequate to help with the additional strain on your body. More on this later. The better the nutritional quality of your food, the better your performance. Stay away from simple sugars and look for Low GI foods to provide you with the carbohydrates you need.
  • Make sure you get good sleep while you are embarking on this journey as sleep is where you recover and get stronger.
  • You need to start and do a few short runs each week for the next month to get yourself prepared for what is to come. If you are already comfortably running 5-6km this is great.
  • I’d advise that you get yourself a Heart Rate Monitor – a very good training tool. Try the www.thepolarshop.com.au for great models and you can often get a good special.
  • Get a friend or group of friends that you are going to do this week and make a pact to get through it together. You will have more fun in training and once race day comes along you will share in the glory together – just like these girls!
Gold Coast Girls 2011 #2 (800x600)

Gold Coast Glamour Girls 2011



Your Half Marathon training plan should consist of the following elements to give you a good base and build speed, strength and endurance.

Tempo Runs

Medium-distance, sustained-pace run that is slightly uncomfortable. These workouts “improve your lactate threshold pace.” This sort of training gives you the ability to hold a high heart rate for longer. I call your lactate threshold your “spew point”!

Speed work

  • Short Intervals – Warm up for 5 -10mins then run 400m, then cool down by walking 2 minutes; repeat x 3-5 to start with then increase as your fitness does. You can manipulate and play with intervals as long as your heart rate is high in the work period and you have a rest period.  EG 200m fast, 30 sec rest/100m fast, 10 sec/1km hard, 2 minute recovery etc. Intervals “improve our anaerobic capacity” (working without oxygen), as well as promoting muscle development, and building speed.
  • Hills – find a hill, roughly 5% gradient, (eg  Ellesmere Rd from the driveway leading down to the baths to the park opp Mexican Restaurant) and mark out a 200-400m length on the hill; starting at the bottom, run up at a pace you can barely maintain from bottom to top, then cool down by walking or jogging slowly to the bottom; repeat. Hill training improves leg-muscle strength, quickens your stride,  develops your cardiovascular system, enhances your running economy (makes you run more efficiently and saves you energy). As your fitness improves you could try running 800m at about 80% of maximum effort, then cool down by jogging for the same number of minutes as it took you, then repeat. This type of interval training has the same benefits as shorter intervals, as well as improving the ability to buffer lactic acid.

Relaxed Run

Medium-distance, relaxed-pace run. These are ‘recovery’ runs – they provide additional aerobic conditioning, and keep the muscles loose, without causing fatigue. This is the one you would skip if time poor or you are attending other regular sessions at the Oval.

LSD – Long Slow Distance

This is your weekly endurance run where you start to build endurance, improve your fat burning ability and where your muscles adapt to being on your legs for a long time. You are also training yourself to increase kilometres. You run a long distance, at a relaxed, easy pace. It is MOST IMPORTANT here to only increase your weekly distance by 5-10%, even if you feel good. This will help you to avoid injury and build the necessary muscle adaptations to build your endurance safely. You will work in roughly 4-5 week blocks where you will increase your distance by 5-10% for 3 weeks then on the 4th week you will knock it back to where you were in week two to have a rest week. At the start of week 1 in the second block you will again 5-10% per week form where you left off in the previous rest week and so on. Before you know it you can run for a long time!




WEEK 1 – 7KM

WEEK 2 – 7.35- 7.7KM (5-10% INCREASE)

WEEK 3 – 7.7-8.5KM

WEEK 4- 7.35-7.7KM (BACK TO WEEK 2)


WEEK 1 – 7.7-8.5KM

WEEK 2 – 8-9.35KM

WEEK 3 – 8.4-10.3KM

WEEK 4 – 8-9.3KM (BACK TO WEEK 2)

NB If this is too confusing then below is a simpler way to work out increases


Format each week

DAY 1 – rest day

DAY 2 – Tempo training

DAY 3 – Rest day/Cross Training (strength/core/boxing etc)

DAY 4 – Speed work

DAY 5 – Relaxed run

DAY 6 – Rest day/Cross Training

DAY 7 – LSD – Distance run


You can work out which day of the week suits you to start ‘Day 1’.


Training Schedule

Note: the speeds provided correspond to a 2 hour half-marathon finish. If you plan to finish faster, or slower, adjust your speed accordingly. Remember to make the fourth week a rest week if you can, and drop your mileage to similar to that of the second week of the current block.

Week 1

This is a ‘getting started’ week. 3km easy run on Tuesday, 5km easy run on Friday, 7km easy run on Sunday, or days that suit.

Weeks 2-7

Tempo runs – 3km, increase by 0.5km each week @ 5:30/km pace

Speed work – short intervals 400m in 2minutes, 2 minute recovery jog; repeat 4 times on week 2, 6 times on week 3, and so on up to 14 times on week 7.

Relaxed runs – 5km @ 6:30 – 7:00 /km pace

Distance runs – 7km, increase by 1km each week @ 7:30/km pace

Weeks 8-13

Tempo runs – 5km, increase by 0.5km each week @ 5:30/km pace

Speed work – hill repeats 400m in 2minutes, jog slowly back down; repeat 2 times on week 8, 4 times on week 9, and so on up to 12 times on week 13.

Relaxed runs – 5km @ 6:30 – 7:00 /km pace

Distance runs – 10km, increase by 2km each week @ 7:30/km

Weeks 14-19

Tempo runs – 7km, 8km, 9km, 10km, 10km @ 5:30/km

Speed work – 800 m in 3:40, recovery jog 3:40; repeat 5 times on week 14, 6 times on week 15, and so on up to 10 times on week 19.

Relaxed runs – 5km @ 6:30 – 7:00 /km

Distance runs – 12km, increase by 2km each week @ 7:30/km pace

Week 20 (Race week)

Monday – rest day

Tuesday – 3km @7:00/km

Wednesday – rest day

Thursday – 5km @ 7:00/km

Friday – rest day

Saturday or Sunday – RACE DAY!!!



To train efficiently and give yourself enough fuel to cope with your runs, and also the proper nutrition to recover with, you need to be focused on your diet.

You need a combination of carbs and protein for fuel and recovery and good fats to provide essential fatty acids to help reduce inflammation in muscles and joints and to speed recovery.

Any run over 90 mins will require carb replacement such as energy gels and sports drinks. Anything under this and water during the run should be adequate, unless you feel yourself flagging then try a gel. Your body will become efficient at burning fat stores for fuel over time during your long runs.

Intervals and tempo runs however will use more carb stores quickly and need to be topped up beforehand, not during.

Here is a good guide that I found that will help you eat well and at the right times around your runs to maximise your efforts:


2 Hours Before:

  • Low GI, slow digesting foods to top up carb stores and a little high quality protein.
  • Best choice is fish and eggs and wholemeal (not wholegrain) bread. EG a poached egg on toast. Other choices are:
  • Low fat plain yoghurt
  • Chicken
  • Brown rice
  • Sweet potato
  • Oats/porridge
  • Wholegrain pasta
  • Avoid fats

1 Hour Before

  • Easily digested low GI carbs still a priority
  • Best choice is a banana and low fat yoghurt
  • Proteins from milk and cheese eg Up and Go, Sustagen Sport, cottage cheese, low fat yogurt.
  • White rice is easily digested and hi GI for quick energy
  • Egg whites (lower fat is required now so skip the egg yolk)
  • Whey protein shake with skim milk
  • Avoid fats

30 Minutes before

  • Coffee – boosts endurance and lessons the perceived effort/pain
  • Sports Drink – for carbs, fluids, salt and electrolytes
  • Water – for hydration
  • Green Tea – promotes fat usage

NB If your run is less than an hour stick to water but over that sip on sports drinks.

20 Minutes In

  • Water – approx 500ml per hour

1 hour In

  • Sports drink
  • Whey protein shake.

Research shows that mixing protein with carbs increases the rate of replenishment, reduces muscle damage and can boost time to exhaustion by 15%. Try a sports drink with electrolytes and 30g of carbs and 10-15g unflavoured whey protein mixed before you go and in placed in a drink belt bottle.

Straight After

  • Hi GI fast absorbing carbs are what you need here to recover along with protein. A 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein is recommended. EG 20-30g chicken breast with 80g cooked white rice.
  • Fruit is effective too which restores liver glycogen more effectively than other carbs.
  • A great option is chicken, rice and fruit salad.
  • If you are short on time an Up & Go Energise is great to have on hand in an esky in the car, or you can pick one up form a service station.
  • Don’t forget electrolytes if it’s hot or you are a heavy sweater, or if you have been out for a very long time. A Gatorade or similar is fine.

2 Hours After

  • Omega-3 rich foods reduce inflammation in muscles and joints and speed recovery, promote insulin sensitivity and are the key to good carb stores for your next run.
  • Antioxidants to help repair and help the immune system which cops a beating during training – include heaps of leafy green vegetables, broccoli, blueberries, green tea and colour foods like red capsicum.
  • Chia seed, flax seeds, raw almonds.
  • Fish, especially oily fish like salmon.
  • Good meal idea – thai salmon, vegies like bok choy and broccoli and capsicum with coconut milk and noodles.