As athletes our skin is exposed to the elements which can cause it to become reactive. But being an athlete does not mean that you have to sacrifice your skin! Here are a few top tips to keep your skin happy and healthy whilst you train.
Never train with makeup on
Keeping your face clean allows its pores to breathe properly as you exercise and sweat. With makeup, your pores stay blocked which can lead to acne and blackheads.
Drink plenty of water
Always carry a water bottle with you, as it is important to replenish the fluids you lose through sweat. Hydration is the key to excellent skin!
Avoid touching your skin
When you are hot from exercising, your skin pores open up for perspiration. This puts you at an increased risk of skin disease breakouts caused by bacteria on your hands.
Keep your equipment bacteria free
Workout apparatus harbours bacteria which can easily reach your skin and cause breakouts. Ensure that you disinfect your equipment before use to avoid transferring any dirt or grime onto your face.
Take a shower as soon as you finish a workout session
Sweat is the body’s natural method of cooling and detoxifying, but if left on the skin, bacteria forms and breakouts begin. If you are short on time and cannot shower immediately after your workout, change out of your wet gym clothes and wipe away the sweat as soon as possible.
Replace your towels
Household towels are a breeding ground for germs and bacteria, so just imagine what your gym-bag towel looks like under a microscope. Keep your towels clean and avoid exposing your skin cells to unwanted toxins.
Dry your skin gently
Avoid harshly rubbing your skin after a shower. Instead, pat your face dry with a clean towel.
Cleanse before and after exercise
If you let sweat sit on your skin, it can clog your pores and cause blemishes. Use a gentle cleanser to wash away the grime and sweat that’s accumulated on the skin’s surface. Oily skin can benefit from a cleanser formulated with glycolic acid, whilst dry skin thrives with an oil-based or nourishing cleanser formatted with ceramides.
Exfoliate your skin
Exfoliation helps to remove the top layer of dead skin cells before they clog up your pores.
Use a mist to sooth your skin
Use a soothing face mist after cleansing to help refresh and hydrate your skin.
Keep your skin moisturised
Serums and oil-free moisturisers will keep skin hydrated without clogging pores.
Protect your skin against UV rays
Protect your skin from premature aging and uneven skin tones by choosing a water resistant, broad spectrum UVA/UVB blocking moisturiser with an SPF of 50.
An effective routine is essential to help keep your skin looking its best as, ultimately, preventing skin problems is easier- and less costly- than trying to fix them in the future
About the author: Laura Smith is an elite level athlete who has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.
Want more training advice at your fingertips? Connect with Sundried's Personal Trainers on our app, for top tips, free workout plans and more.
We have previously covered how you can master the perfect morning routine. This week is all about constructing an evening routine that is conducive to a restful night’s sleep. By improving your quality of sleep, you ensure that your mind and body are fully rested and prepared for the following day. This will not only make your training easier but you will find you reap many more benefits than if you were tired or lethargic.
The perfect evening routine should focus on two main goals:
- How do we wrap up the day with a clear mind?
- How can we set ourselves up for a deep, glorious, and restorative sleep?
There is nothing worse than getting yourself cosy and ready for bed but not being able to switch off your thoughts about the things you did and didn’t do during the day. Follow these 5 simple steps towards perfecting an evening routine and this will never happen again!
1. List the positive impacts you left on the day
This approach was first developed by Benjamin Franklin who would reflect on his day and ask himself, ‘what good did I do today?’ before going to sleep. Instead of stressing over how productive you were during the day, shift your focus into a more positive and fulfilled one.
2. Take the time to wind down for the evening
Research has found that our brains need about 2 hours to cool down before we can really get into a deep sleep. This means that about two hours before bed you should start winding down your brain. Classical music, meditating, journaling, stretching, and pampering routines are all great ways to relax before jumping into bed.
Put away your phones and switch off the TV to make your evening more purposeful. It is worthwhile avoiding stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol close to bedtime and steering clear of rich meals, spicy dishes, citrus fruits, and carbonated drinks, all of which can trigger indigestion.
3. Make tomorrows to-do list
So often, we are completely overwhelmed by all the tasks we are facing over the next day. This anxiety can negatively affect those precious sleeping hours. By making a to-do list the night before, it helps to clear your brain so it can relax.
4. Make your bedroom a sleep haven
The Mayo Clinic has done a ton of amazing sleep research and found that we need to start thinking of our bedroom like a cave if we want to get a good amount of quality sleep. Consider using blackout curtains, eye masks, ear plugs, ‘white noise’ machines, humidifiers, and fans to keep things cool and quiet.
5. Utilise Sleep Tools
There are several apps out there which are specifically designed to help you sleep or monitor your sleep so improvements can be made.
Sleep Cycle is a great app which will monitor your sleep cycles by movement. This can aid in learning about what evening ‘cool down’ gives you the best night’s sleep.
HeadSpace is another app which takes you through various meditations and mindfulness exercises to help clear your mind and wind down before bed.
Lastly, try to use lights without the blue spectrum. Research has found that the blue spectrum in lights and on our electronic devices actually keep us awake and can disrupt our sleep. Be kind to your eyes and use fixtures that have a more calming light or utilise your phone’s settings to disable the blue light during evening hours.
Remember that an evening routine is just as important as a morning routine. Learn how to perfect both in your life and you will be on your way to a more productive, healthy, and successful day.
About the author: Laura Smith is an athlete who has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.
Want more home workouts at your fingertips? Connect with Sundried's Personal Trainers on our app, for top tips, free workout plans and more.
CrossFit is more than just a sport, it's a community and a way of life. This guide will be your one-stop manual for getting into CrossFit for the first time and will cover everything from snatches to WODs to poods and everything in between.
You don't have to be fit to get started
This is probably the most important thing to note. A lot of people will put off trying a new sport or hobby for fear of being too unfit. CrossFit is accessible to everyone thanks to their scaled workouts. Whether you're unfit or have a disability, there's something for everyone. Don't let your nerves or insecurities hold you back and just dive straight in.
You will sweat and cry a lot
CrossFit is a notoriously tough sport. They don't crown the CrossFit Games champions as the Fittest On Earth for nothing! You have to have the motivation and the right attitude before you start. It has to be your decision and you have to own it; if you've been coaxed into it by someone else you'll be starting with the wrong attitude and you'll find it way harder than it needs to be. Be ready to sweat a lot and cry a lot, but reap the benefits and rewards at the end of a tough WOD.
Find a local CrossFit gym, known as a 'Box'
If you really want to dive straight in and hit this sport hard, finding your local CrossFit gym will help you get there. A CrossFit gym is known as a box and there are affiliates all over the world. You can find your local box through an internet search or by checking out affiliates on the official CrossFit website. A box will have all the proper CrossFit-specific equipment that you need, as you may not get a full workout at a commercial gym. Getting professional advice by an accredited trainer will also stop you from developing bad habits and will be available to give you advice along the way.
However, you don't have to join a box to be able to practice CrossFit. They can come with expensive memberships and you'll have to do a foundation course before you can participate in the classes. A commercial gym will have most of the equipment you need, and some people even just train out of a garage. Use what you have and don't feel like you're missing out just because you're not a member of an exclusive club or gym.
Know the jargon
There's a lot of sport-specific terminology used in CrossFit which you won't have come across before. Knowing what people are talking about is important if you want to join in on discussions about performance, and so that you know what workout you should be doing! Here are the basics:
WOD - Workout Of the Day. A daily workout published on the CrossFit website which CrossFitters all over the world will tackle and post their results to the public forum. A WOD is also a general term to refer to any CrossFit workout.
Pood - This is a Russian term which is a unit of measurement equalling just over 16kg. It is generally used for kettlebell workouts.
Rx - This is the prescribed way a workout should be completed, with set weights and times/reps. If you Rx a WOD, it means you completed it exactly how it was written. Alternatively, you can 'scale' a workout which might involve reducing the weights or swapping out an exercise. The CrossFit community is one of acceptance and inclusion, so scaling a workout is never anything to be ashamed of.
MetCon - Short for Metabolic Conditioning. This is typically a workout that doesn't involve heavy lifts, and consists more of a body weight circuit style workout. There is also a very popular CrossFit shoe by Nike called the 'MetCon'.
Double Under - This is a movement in skipping whereby the rope passes under your feet twice before they hit the ground. It's a tough movement and you won't be able to do it straight away without practice.
Practise the lifts
CrossFit is unique as it involves so many different physical disciplines: gymnastics, weightlifting, running, cycling, swimming, rope climbing... you name it, CrossFit will have you doing it! CrossFit will train you as a well-rounded athlete and with the right dedication you will develop unrivalled fitness. Think triathlons are impressive? Pro CrossFitters do Ironman triathlon as a warm up!
However, this can be overwhelming to a beginner. The only way to improve is to practise! If you go into the sport expecting to be perfect at it straight away, you'll be left feeling frustrated. CrossFit adopts a lot of really technical moves that athletes will spend their whole lives perfecting. Take your time and practise the exercises that you find the toughest. Scale a workout if you need to and take it easy. Some of the more difficult moves include things like handstand push ups, double unders, rope climbs, and weightlifting moves like the clean & jerk and the snatch. Learn these moves properly from scratch before trying to incorporate them into WODs and build yourself up slowly and gradually.
Know the stars of the sport
The CrossFit Games is the annual pinnacle of the CrossFit calendar. It's the event in which the fittest athletes in the world will congregate and compete to be crowned Fittest On Earth. As with most sports, there are star players, but CrossFit is open to anyone in the qualification stages so often there are rookie competitors too.
Fraser is the athlete to watch and is the proud holder of the title of Fittest Man on Earth. He is four-time winner of the games (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019), equalling Rich Froning's record. He's competed in the games since 2014 and has proven how hungry he is for the sport and to be recognised as the fittest man on earth. He has spent years honing his technique and perfecting his lifts and it really shows.
Until Fraser won his fourth consecutive games in 2019, Froning held the record for winning the games the most amount of times, having claimed the title four years in a row from 2011 to 2014. He has won over $1 million in prize money from his wins and is sponsored by global sports brands like Reebok, Rogue Fitness, and Oakley. He is renowned in the sport and partly retired after his 2014 win. He now competes in the team events with his team Mayhem Freedom who are reigning team champions.
While Greg Glassman is the founder of CrossFit, Dave Castro is the face most people recognise as he hosts the games each year and it was at his family ranch in 2009 that the first ever CrossFit Games took place. His personality gets him mixed reviews and some even claim he has 'ruined' the sport. Nevertheless, he is one of the most important figures in CrossFit and it's him you will see on the floor announcing the next WOD in the Games and mixing with all the athletes.
Davidsdottir is one of three Icelandic powerhouses who dominate the female side of the sport. She has won the games twice, 2015 and 2016, after a mental setback in 2014. She was originally a track athlete and gymnast and her sporting background has clearly stood her in good stead for CrossFit glory.
Despite never actually winning the games, Sara is a leading figure in the sport of CrossFit. Sponsored by Nike, she is another of the Icelandic dynamos and has a very likeable personality making her the perfect CrossFit athlete to watch. She unfortunately suffered a bad injury during the 2018 games which caused her to withdraw and she continued to struggle in 2019. Only time will tell if she will be able to recover enough to challenge Tia-Clair Toomey's title.
Toomey is an Australian weightlifter who represented her country in the 2016 Olympics only a few weeks after appearing at the CrossFit games. With her background in lifting, she is a strong competitor and now has three consecutive CrossFit Games wins to her name – 2017, 2018, and 2019. She is now the one to beat and is sure to train as hard as possible to hold on to her title.
Follow the WODs
Each day, a new WOD is released on the CrossFit website. CrossFitters from around the globe are invited to have a go, Rx'd or scaled, and post their results in the forum. Some WODs are for time, some for reps, some for rounds. The beauty of CrossFit is how varied the workouts are and you never know what you're going to get. You have to be ready for anything, from a heavy lifting session to a gruelling run, which is why it conditions your fitness so well. Have a go at any of the WODs that are published and compare your results to others so you can see where you stand.
The biggest WODs in the CrossFit arsenal are the Hero Workouts. Each workout is named after a member of the armed forces who died in combat and they are always notoriously tough workouts. Some of the most renowned are Murph, DT, and Fran, with true enthusiasts marking their territory by asking newbies "What's your Fran time?" All this means is how long did it take you to complete this particular workout. All of the Hero Workouts can be found on the CrossFit website and traditionally one is always completed on Memorial Day in the US.
The CrossFit Games
The CrossFit Games are the pinnacle of the CrossFit year. Held every August in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, the games showcase the best of the best and pit the top athletes from around the world against one another to claim the title of Fittest On Earth.
The CrossFit Games have various unique aspects which set them apart from other annual sporting events (such as the Tour de France for cycling or Wimbledon for tennis). First, the events for the games are only announced that day and none of the athletes know what to expect. This keeps the element of surprise and means that athletes have to train everything and stay well-rounded rather than knowing what events are going to be included and only training for them. It also means that the events are more fair as some athletes are better at heavy lifting, some better at cardio, and some better at gymnastics.
Another unique aspect of CrossFit (which we love) is that in many events the men and women compete together. In some cases, the women beat the men, proving that women are equal to men in physical capability. Events like the Tour de France which do not even have a female version could take note. For example, in the 2019 CrossFit Games, individual event 9 was a swim-paddle consisting of a 1,000m swim followed by a 1,000m paddle. Ten men and ten women took part and the overall winner was a woman, Tia-Clair Toomey, who beat all 10 of the fittest men on earth in this particular event.
So you want to try CrossFit
CrossFit can get a bad rap by some people, usually bodybuilders who have never tried a CrossFit WOD and don't understand what it's all about and just follow what other people say. CrossFit is an awesome sport as it is totally inclusive and everyone encourages one another to succeed. It is open to anyone and you could even be the next champion if you work hard enough.
So, get started! Study the WODs, learn the lingo, watch the Games, and get involved. You will be amazed at how fun it is and how incredibly fit you will get in a short amount of time. Have fun!
Whether you're starting your first couch to 5k or you're a seasoned runner looking to run a marathon or even an ultra, one of the most important things is to have the perfect pair of running shoes. Follow our guide for everything from brand analysis, different types of running shoes, which shoes are best for you, and which shoes to choose according to your running goals. Everything you need to know is here in Sundried's guide to buying running shoes.
In this guide:
- Running shoe brands
- Can running shoes cause knee pain?
- Where to buy running shoes
- When to buy new running shoes
- Trail running shoes
- Running shoes for long distance running
- Trainers and sneakers for sprinting
Running shoe brands
There are endless shoe brands out there so it can be tough to push through the noise and find a brand that is perfect for you. When it comes to running shoes, there are a few big players.
- New Balance
- Hoka ONE ONE
Some of these brands are more well known than others, such as the global giants Nike and Adidas. However, the other brands are important as they specialise in running and therefore the designers really know what to look for and work on when it comes to running specifically.
Asics is a Japanese brand whose first product was a pair of basketball shoes designed and manufactured in 1950. Since then, this brand has become one of the biggest players in the running shoe game and they sponsor such prominent athletes as Gwen Jorgensen and Jan Frodeno. Asics running trainers are tried and tested and you won't go to a single running event without seeing many people wearing Asics running trainers. This is a great brand to trust and they make running shoes for everyone from those who over-pronate to those who under-pronate and everyone in between.
Nike is one of the biggest companies in the world, sponsoring world class celebrity athletes like Tiger Woods, Maria Sharapova, and they even have a range in collaboration with Michael Jordan. It's impossible to go anywhere without seeing people wearing Nike shoes or clothing and they have ranges from casual to performance and cover many sports from golf to tennis to running and CrossFit. Nike work hard on innovative technology and always have new shoes on the market with never-seen-before features such as Fly Knit, Air, and Zoom.
New Balance is an American shoe brand that is now internationally acclaimed after being a popular sportswear brand for over a century. It only became well-known in the UK fairly recently but is making waves, especially with huge sponsorship like that of the London Marathon.
Brooks Running is another American brand that was founded around a century ago. They enjoyed their prime in the mid 1970s but then the brand faltered in the 1980s. By the turn of the millennium, Brooks re-branded and focused solely on running with a special focus on performance technology. They are now one of the best-selling speciality running shoe brands in the world and have enjoyed accolades such as 'Best Running Shoe' by publications including Runner's World and Sports Illustrated.
Adidas is another of the global brands which is world renowned and can be found anywhere. In recent times, Adidas have pushed forward in running shoe innovation by developing Boost technology and their newer ranges of running shoes offer something really quite special. Collaborations with designers like Stella McCartney have launched this brand into the next dimension and they continue to grow year on year. Despite being perhaps best known for their fashion trainers, Adidas is a really big player when it comes to running shoes and they have a vast range with something to suit everyone.
Hoka One One
Hoka One One is a lesser known brand, but is very popular among athletes and serious runners. Serving a more niche market, Hoka's running shoes are specifically designed with a super thick sole and 'rocking' motion for long distance runners. It's said that if you run a marathon wearing Hoka shoes, your legs won't even ache at the end! Co-founders Jean-Luc Diard and Nicolas Mermoud wanted to create a running shoe that was more effective and cushioning when running downhill, and in doing so reinvented the running shoe.
Can running shoes cause knee pain?
The simple answer to this is yes, running shoes can cause knee pain. That's why it's hugely important that you understand your own personal anatomy and physiology before buying new running shoes so that you can buy the right ones for you. Not only this, if your running shoes are old, tired, and worn out, they are more likely to cause an injury.
There are three types of runner: those who over-pronate, those who under-pronate, and those with a neutral stride.
If you overpronate, this means that your feet roll inwards due to a low arch or flat feet. This can have serious implications if you run in the wrong trainers and you can end up with a whole host of running injuries. If you over-pronate, you need to wear stability shoes which have in-built arch support to keep your feet in the right place as you run and to take the strain off your knees to prevent injury.
If you have a neutral stride, you may benefit from barefoot-type running shoes. These shoes are more flexible and light and will allow your feet to take their most natural shape when you run. If you have a neutral stride - lucky you - you will benefit from a very wide range of running shoes and have a much bigger choice when it comes to buying running shoes.
Finally, if you under-pronate, you need to look for very well cushioned running shoes to prevent shock injuries and to absorb the impact on the outside of the foot. If you underpronate, you will land on the outside of your foot when you run and this is the foot's weakest part, so you need your shoes to work with you to prevent injuries.
Where to buy running shoes
The best way to buy running shoes is in person at your local running store. While a large department store or chain may seem like they have more choice, the employees are often paid commission to sell certain brands and you may therefore not receive impartial advice and end up purchasing shoes that are not in your best interest.
If you are thinking of buying running shoes online, it is best to read as many running shoe reviews as possible before you buy. It's important to bear in mind that fit varies from brand to brand and even from model to model so you need to check that they are true to size or discover if they run small or large. Additionally, check to see if the shoes provide adequate cushioning and response from the sole and if they will last the distance or if they will deteriorate after only a few miles.
If you buy your running shoes from a local expert running shop you will often be able to test them out before you buy on an in-store treadmill and therefore decide if they fit well. You will also be able to determine if they work for you personally and if they are right for your goals. Not only this, the expert at the shop will be able to give you impartial advice. Therefore, this is the best place to buy new running shoes.
When to buy new running shoes
There are a few things to look out for if you think you may need to buy new running shoes. Worn out shoes can cause a lot of issues, so make sure you stay aware of how many miles you've run in your trainers and are ready to buy new ones with time to wear them in before getting rid of your old ones.
A good quality pair of running shoes should last you between 300 to 500 miles of wear. For someone who is running an average of 80 miles a month, this means replacing your running shoes every four to six months. However, factors such as your running style and your weight can affect how quickly your shoes wear out. Heavier runners put more pressure on their shoes and need more cushioning, so may need to replace shoes more often.
It's always worth investing in a new pair of shoes if you feel like your running trainers are getting worn out so that you avoid developing injuries and niggles. You can check the soles of the shoes to see if there is any noticeable wear, and if your running style starts to feel different or you start developing pains you've never had before, it could be time to get a new pair or runners.
If your running shoes look like this, it's definitely time to retire them!
Trail running shoes
If most of your runs are done on mud, grass, or trails, it is worth investing in proper trail running shoes instead of ruining your attractive fashion trainers. There are lots of differences between trail running shoes and regular running trainers, such as a thicker sole and more protection against stepping on stones and rocks, as well as better grip for running on slippery mud.
Many running shoe brands manufacture trail running shoes, but it may be worth looking for a brand that specialises in this type of shoe. Topo Athletic is one brand that sell good quality trail running shoes. Topo's secret is that the toe box on the shoe is wide so that your toes don't get crushed and your feet have more room to move and breathe when navigating tough trails and paths.
Running shoes for long distance running
If you're training for a marathon or ultra marathon, you need running shoes that can go the distance. This means sneakers that have lots of cushioning and support. Pounding the pavement for hundreds of miles can put a lot of strain on your muscles and your nervous system, so it's important your trainers are supporting you.
When it comes to long distance running, you probably don't want to go for a minimalist running shoe. Instead, opt for one with a thicker sole and lots of cushioning, especially if you are a heavier runner.
As mentioned above, some brands design their running shoes specifically for long distance running, like Hoka ONE ONE, so it is worth exploring these brands if you are looking to run long distances injury-free.
Trainers and sneakers for sprinting
For sprinting, you'll want more lightweight running shoes so that you can achieve explosive power and speed and not be weighed down by your sneakers. There are many options when it comes to lightweight sprint shoes, such as the Nike Free Run series or the Asics Gel-Hyper Speed shoes. The best shoes for speed will be designed for precisely that and as such won't have as much cushioning as other running shoes. Due to this, you need to make sure you're not running long distances in racing flats because you may damage your feet and joints.
Sprinting would include distances up to around 5km. For any running distances farther than this, you should look into buying different running shoes.
A cycling helmet is often obligatory if you're going to be road biking and cycling in organised sportives and multi-sport races. It's important that you have a helmet that is perfect for you, so follow our guide to find out everything you need to know before buying a bicycle helmet.
Many thanks to Cycles UK for their collaboration on this guide.
Safety is always paramount, and this is the primary reason you will be wearing a helmet for cycling. Thankfully, all cycling helmets sold in the UK have to pass the same safety standards and so this is not something you need to worry about when buying a cycling helmet.
Aerodynamics have been one of the main areas of innovation in cycling in the last couple of years. Aero helmets used to be reserved for specialist track racing and time trials but they are now also a common sight at road races, triathlons, and club rides. Modern aero road helmets can save you as much as 40 seconds over a 40km ride compared to a standard cycling helmet, while a dedicated time trial helmet could save you almost double that. The major difference between the two is the amount of ventilation they have.
On a short sprint triathlon, a full aero time trial helmet could save you 30 to 40 seconds on the bike leg. The downside of this is that to achieve good aero performance, the helmets have very little ventilation and you need to keep your head relatively still. If you are on a closed road where you are not going to have to look up and around a lot, and it’s not a particularly hot day, this could be a good option.
Sundried pro triathlete ambassador Alice Hector wearing an aero helmet while competing at the Sundried Southend Triathlon
If you are doing a longer triathlon, or it’s going to be hot, you will probably be better of with an aero road helmet like the Specialized Evade. One of these helmets will save you 40 to 50 seconds on a standard triathlon bike leg but will still have enough ventilation to keep your head cool on all but the hottest and hilliest days.
Not everyone gets on with aero helmets and some people will want more ventilation on their training rides. You’ll also be looking at spending well over £100 to get a time trail or aero road helmet so it may not be an option for you if you are just starting out. In this case, go for a standard road helmet like a Kask Mojito or Specialized Echellon. These helmets still have some basic aero performance but will keep your head cool and your wallet relatively intact!
The hardest part about buying a helmet is the fit. Most manufacturers will give the size of the helmet in centimetres so you can roughly match them to your head. The helmet will then normally have adjustable systems inside so you can get the fit exactly right.
However, not all helmets are the same shape. Some manufacturers make their helmets long and thing oblong shapes, others make them rounder. Many cyclists find that certain brands' helmets simply don’t fit their head. If it’s your first time buying a cycling helmet, it’s well worth visiting a few bike shops and trying on as many different brands of helmet as you can until you find the one that works for your head shape.