Any hayfever sufferer will know how miserable it can be to try heading outside in the summer only to be brought down by coughing, sneezing, and itchy eyes. We give you our top tips so that you can enjoy the benefits of exercising outdoors even when the pollen count is high.
Related: Best Relief For Hayfever Symptoms
1. Have a shower and get changed as soon as you finish your workout
Pollen and other allergens which may set off your hayfever can stick to skin and clothes. By showering and washing your clothes as soon as you finish your workout, you reduce the risk of these allergens prompting your symptoms. This does mean no more coffee with friends after a class, but you'll thank us!
2. Don't dry your workout clothes outside
As mentioned above, pollen and hayfever-inducing allergens can stick to clothes, so if you leave your fitness clothing outside to dry it will likely pick up these allergens and cause your hayfever to flare up. At Sundried, we always try to promote the idea of 'wash cool, sun dry' to protect your activewear as well as the environment, but in the summer, an airing cupboard or hanger may be better.
3. Exercise late morning or late evening
Pollen counts tend to highest in the early morning and early evening, so try to avoid exercising outside at these times as much as possible. If you really want to train outdoors during the summer, exercising late in the evening is usually better anyway as it is not so hot!
4. Wear wrap-around sunglasses
It can be very uncomfortable having itchy, watering eyes caused by hayfever and other seasonal allergies. By wearing wrap-around sunglasses, you can help to prevent as much pollen getting into your eyes and this should help to reduce the symptoms.
5. Exercise on the beach or in a paved area
As is expected, a grassy area like a park will be the worst for causing your symptoms to flare up. Especially if the grass has just been cut, you want to avoid doing your HIIT workout or sprint intervals here. Try doing a beach workout instead, especially as this comes with its own benefits, or find a paved area that is suitable.
Whether you are a sportive cyclist, a time trial rider, or a triathlete, it's always worth being able to get faster on the bike. Even as a recreational rider, if you want to ride some of the more prestigious public sportives like the Ride London 100, you'll need to be able to maintain a decent speed. Follow our tips to increase your speed and become a better cyclist.
1. Improve your power output
Training with pro duathlete Claire Steels shows us that a typical training session consisting of short, sharp efforts on a turbo trainer or Wattbike can help you develop your explosive power and therefore improve your speed.
It's also important to make sure you are pedalling efficiently. Imagine you are trying to scrape the ground when you pedal downwards and really pull the pedals back up using your hamstrings. Push through your glutes and focus on every rep to achieve optimum power output.
2. Get a bike fit
If you are riding a bike that doesn't fit you properly, you will struggle to achieve your maximum potential speed. Getting a bike fit will allow you to find your optimum riding position in order to achieve maximum power output while still being comfortable and aerodynamic. It will also mean that all of the adjustments on the bike will be right for you so that you can focus on performance while riding. Most bike stores will offer a comprehensive bike fit, although you may have to pay.
3. Shed those extra pounds
It may sound harsh, but carrying extra weight can really affect your cycling capabilities and prevent you from increasing your speed. Serious cyclists and competitive athletes will spend thousands on lightweight bikes made from advanced technological materials so as to keep the bike as light as possible. But what's the point in that if the rider is holding extra weight?
The important thing to remember is that you need to find the balance between losing weight while still improving performance. It sounds tough but it's definitely achievable.
4. Perfect your position
Advanced cyclists and triathletes will cycle in the 'aero' position on tri bars, which is also known as 'TT' position. This is not allowed in some cycling races and tends to be more for multi-sport races. However, even if you're not going to adopt the full aero position, you can still use your position to your advantage. Full race position will have your hands on the lower part of the handlebars with a rounded back and tight core. This is something that will take time to perfect and will require excellent core strength.
5. Improve your overall fitness with cross-training
It's easy to neglect your cross-training when you are a keen cyclist. Cross-training refers to the training you do outside of your main sport, in this case the riding, and includes things like gym workouts. Hit the gym and improve your overall cardiovascular fitness as well as strengthening your legs so that you can go the distance and get faster. Doing a good leg workout will help to improve the power output from your legs while things like running and circuit workouts will improve your lung capacity and VO2 max.
Research shows that almost half of us will have given up on our New Year's fitness goals before we've even reached February. We've come up with 10 ways you can make sure you don't give up on your goal.
1. Strength in numbers
Setting up a training plan with a partner increases your chance of achieving your goal and makes your journey more fun along the way. Organising gym sessions and fitness dates together mean you’re less likely to quit as you have the extra motivation of not letting the other person down. With twice the motivation you’re twice as likely to succeed.
2. Set SMART Goals
SMART goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and have a Time frame. Saying that you want to 'tone up' or 'lose weight' won't get you anywhere as it's not measurable and you won't know when you've reached your goal! A better goal would be 'run a 5k in under 30 minutes by the summer' for example.
3. Understand the stages of change
The stages of change are a way in which we can monitor whether or not we are actually ready to achieve our goal. Before any major life change, we tend to go through 5 phases of thought, which ultimately lead to our end goal:
Pre-contemplation: At this stage, we’re unaware of any change we need to make and the thought has not even crossed our minds. At this stage of change, a result is very unlikely.
Contemplation: This is the stage where the idea is made. You’ve not committed yourself, you’re simply considering what effort it would take to make the specific change and whether this is something you are prepared to do.
Preparation: This is the stage where you’ve decided that you will change a habit, starting next month. So if you’re thinking about your New Year’s resolutions now, this is probably you.
Action: This is the good part, here you are consciously making the effort to change your lifestyle and achieve your goal.
Maintenance: Perhaps the hardest stage of all, this is where you may have achieved your goal, but you need to work at it to ensure you don’t revert back to how you were before. Mentally and physically, it is the hardest stage to be at, as we like to see noticeable results.
4. Break it down
With fitness goals, the easiest way to make sure you achieve your goal is to break one main goal into smaller, easier targets. For example, a SMART goal of 'deadlift 100kg by March' may mean aiming to increase your deadlift by 2.5kg per week. This makes the goal easier to digest on a day to day basis.
5. Stay Motivated
Staying motivated is one of the toughest parts of achieving a goal. Make sure you are realistic and give yourself a break. Fitness goals should be a lifestyle change, not a short-term fix.
6. How ready are you?
Make sure you are ready to commit the time and effort to the goal before you set yourself up for a fail. If, upon reflection, you haven’t got the time for your initial goal, why not downsize it to something more manageable? Achieving one smaller goal is motivating and will encourage you to go to the next. Failing is never motivating and will almost always leave you wanting to give up. Don’t let that happen by making your goal something you know you're ready to commit to.
7. Hold yourself accountable
Keeping a food and exercise log will help you see clearly whether you're on the right track and makes it difficult to cheat yourself. You don’t have to show anyone else, you just need to be truthful with yourself.
8. Share your goal
With social media, sharing your goal is as simple and as easy as a few clicks and once you’ve announced your goal to the world, you’re far less likely to go back on it! From progress pictures to Facebook groups, social media can be a great tool in achieving your New Year’s resolutions. According to a study published in Transnational Behavioural Medicine, strong social circles can be very effective in combating obesity and helping individuals succeed. When dieters participating in a weight loss study shared their plans and progress with others on social media, they lost more weight than those who kept their goals to themselves.
9. Track progress
The easiest way to track your progress for a fitness goal is to buy a fitness tracker. All-day activity trackers track heart rate, steps, and sleep as well as your workouts, making it easy for you to track data and see where you need to improve. Always keep a record of your starting point, be it a weight lifting PB, a run time, or a starting weight. Even if you are not happy with where it starts, you need to be able to see if you are progressing or not and so you’ll need a starting point.
10. Ask for helpWhen you struggling or you’ve fallen off the bandwagon, don’t give up, just ask for help! Use advice from professionals, perhaps even hire a Personal Trainer, but whatever you do, don’t feel alone, there will always be someone that can help.
Claire Steels is a professional duathlete and has a World Champion title to her name. She gives Sundried a snapshot of a training session along with all the stats and data so you can see what it's really like to train as a pro.
2 x (10 x 10 seconds effort : 50 seconds recovery)
The majority of the training I have done on the bike is for TT (time trial) type efforts, however as I am looking to move into road racing I need to develop a bit more explosive power.
This sessions was aimed at developing such power and improving my sprint speed.
Short, sharp efforts with a longer recovery sounds okay, but by the end of the set the 50 seconds recovery feels far too short!
I did this session on the Wattbike and then uploaded the data to Strava.
The screenshots attached show my speed, heart rate and then the last shot shows speed, heart rate, power and cadence.
Speed, power and cadence are fairly consistent across all of the efforts, although they drop a little towards the end. Heart rate spikes for each of the efforts but also gradually increases across the whole session.
I find sessions like this challenging and frustrating but in a strange way it means I enjoy them more! Weird I know!
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.
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.
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 one to watch at the moment. Winner of the games in 2016, 2017 and 2018, he's competed several times and has proven how hungry he is for the sport. He has spent years honing his technique and perfecting his lifts, and it really shows. He's the biggest player in the game for now.
Froning holds 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 still competes in the team events but stepped down as the Fittest Man On Earth after his fourth win.
Smith was the athlete who claimed the title after Rich Froning stepped down. His win in 2015 was a nail biter between him and Mat Fraser, who was still working his way through the ranks. He has competed at every CrossFit games since its inception in 2009 and has never finished outside of the top 10.
While Greg Glassman is the founder of CrossFit, Dave Castro is the face most people recognise as he hosts the games each year. 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.
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. Only time will tell if she'll achieve the title of Fittest Woman On Earth eventually.
Toomey is an Australian weightlifter who competed for 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 achieved an amazing win at the 2017 and 2018 games. She is now the one to watch after beating Katrin Davidsdottir in a nail-biting final.
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.