• 5 Reasons To Go On A Winter Fitness Retreat

    reasons to go on a winter fitness retreat

    When it comes to attending fitness retreats, the list of benefits is endless. Even more so during the winter, when the constant drizzle to blue skies ratio becomes a little hard to handle. Sun-loving Charlie and Nath, co-founders of Equation Training, combined their passions for fitness, the great outdoors and Vitamin D to create Equation Escapes – a strength and conditioning holiday with all the perks of a mini-break, minus the guilt!

    Below you’ll discover our top 5 favourite reasons for lacing our trainers, packing our leggings and jumping on a flight to Spain with the Equation Escapes crew.

    Relight the motivation fire

    As the days become shorter, the weather begins its downhill spiral and the lure of the sofa starts to beckon once more, you may find yourself in need of a little motivation booster. Whether you find it far too easy to hibernate as winter approaches, you’ve had a busy summer and can’t find the energy to keep training or you’re a triathlete in the midst of off-season, sometimes a fitness retreat can be the greatest way of provoking your stoke. At Equation Escapes you’ll be surrounded by like-minded individuals and passionate and highly qualified coaches, all with a shared goal. Group workouts mean you’ll not only push yourself but also have the encouragement of a whole team.

     group fitness retreat

    Holiday perks minus the guilt

    Over-indulging on holiday leads to return flight blues and naughty hangovers. However, fitness retreats mean you can treat yourself alongside working hard and smashing goals. Equation Escapes is hosted in a luxurious villa at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Granada, Spain. The villa boasts 2 pools, a sauna, cinema room, outdoor CrossFit gym and incredible views over the mountains.

    Aside from planned workouts, fitness retreats give you the opportunity to explore the local area and try out new running and hiking routes. You’ll be treated to 3 delicious meals a day by professional chef, Micheal Mallet, including healthy breakfast bowls and fresh fruit smoothies. The meals are perfectly planned to boost your energy and performance, so no accidental over-indulging. It’s not all healthy healthy healthy though as the team prepare cocktails nightly and you’ll have the opportunity to drink beer and wine if you fancy - it’s not "all work and no play"!

     meal prep healthy food

    Super inclusive

    Fancy a holiday but no one's free to join? The best part about fitness retreats is you can attend them as a single person, a couple or a group of friends. You’ll be surrounded by interesting and motivated people with whom you’ll have tons in common; everyone is there to have fun, work out and enjoy a bit of winter sunshine. There are no fitness level requirements and all workouts are optional. The room prices also vary, whether you fancy a plush double suite or are happy bunking with a bunch of other lovely people, there’s something for all budgets.

    running strength training friends 

    Passionate coaches and tailored workouts

    Fitness retreats aren’t just for gym bunnies. Each morning begins with yoga by Charlie, a 500-hour trained teacher, which is perfect for warming up your muscles, reducing DOMS, and caring for your mental well-being. Workouts range from the outdoor CrossFit gym to hikes and runs on the mountain trails and even gymnastics.

    Retreats are great because not only are the workouts carefully planned by the professional and passionate coaches, but the team will also be constantly on hand to help, answer questions and take your training to the next level.

     yoga stretching

    Winter sunshine

    Possibly one of the best reasons for hopping on a plane and attending a fitness retreat. Vitamin D is not only good for muscle repair and your immune system, it’s good for your soul! Sun worshipper Charlie knows there’s nothing like blue sky and sunshine to boost your motivation to get outside and sweaty, so autumn in Spain is the perfect place to continue your training routine. Enjoy the pool, shed your layers, get a holiday glow and hold onto the summer a little longer!

     running friends fitness retreat workout

    Whether you’re a fitness retreat regular or have yet to try one, we hope our favourite reasons to sign up to one have inspired you! They combine all the great things about training and holidays, and we are already looking forward to the next one.

    If you’d like more information about an Equation Escapes fitness retreat, you can get in touch with Charlie on info@equationtraining.com

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  • How To Keep Active During The Festive Season

    snow winter running get active

    When it’s minus five and pitch-black outside, the last thing that most of us want to do is bounce out of bed, bundle up and begin bounding down the frosty pavements on an early morning jog. But don’t worry, there are plenty of tips and tricks for getting in those steps and raising your heart rate, even when time gets tight and temperatures drop approaching the festive season.

    Get into a realistic routine

    It’s no good telling yourself that tomorrow morning you’re going to transform into the type of person who enjoys that 6am spin class, or vice versa finds a burst of energy after work to smash out that weights session at the gym, if you know it’s simply not realistic for you. Instead, work with your existing habits and find creative ways to fit in your daily exercise.

    You could go to that lunchtime yoga session you’ve always fancied, get off the tube/train/tram one stop early and walk the rest of the way, or even take your lunch to go and take a long walk during your break. Or, if the only time you really can carve out is early in the morning or late in the evening, keep your motivation high by giving yourself a reward (like buying your favourite gingerbread latte on the way to the office), and reminding yourself what your end goal is.

    early morning workout

    Find something you love

    It’s easier to get yourself out of the house and battle through the wind and rain if you’re excited about what you’re going to do. If you’re not into running, try cycling or HIIT workouts. Want something less strenuous? Give your local swimming pool or Pilates studio a visit. If you feel like you need to mix things up a bit then even give dance classes a go, or find out what an aerial silks class actually is (please report back tysm). You’ll only find out what exercise you love by trying everything at least once, so get outside your comfort zone!

    winter training cold morning motivation

    Wear the right gear

    When temperatures plummet, it’s important to keep warm and dry when you exercise outside. It can be tempting to head out on a frosty bike ride bundled up like the Michelin man, but instead, try to choose your winter training gear tactically to optimise your performance. Layering up rather than wearing one heavy hoodie or jacket will ensure you can regulate your temperature during every stage of exercise. It’s much more appealing to venture outside if you know you won’t get too cold or overheat half way through your session.

    winter training motivation workout get active

    Refuel and recharge

    If you’re making an effort to be active this winter, then it’s really important to fuel your body properly. Eating plenty of slow release carbs, protein (there are some great plant-based sources!) and healthy fats will keep your body running smoothly while you’re running around this December!

    Time saving recipes hacks will also help you get those five extra minutes in bed before work in the morning, and we all know that a decent night’s sleep is vital. Getting enough Zs helps your body repair after exercise, and ensures you have enough energy to tackle your trip to the gym as well as your trip to the shops to buy those last minute presents (both equally as exhausting!).

    healthy food recipe hacks

    Don’t be too hard on yourself

    At the end of the day, this time of year is all about enjoying yourself, so don’t feel guilty for having that extra mince pie, skipping your 5k for a shopping spree, or spending the day curled up on the sofa after the office Christmas party. Balance is important in sustaining a healthy lifestyle, so I hope that these tips help you keep active whilst still enjoying all of the winter wonders this year.

    About the author: Natalie Metcalf is in charge of Marketing & Social Media at LoveRaw. Natalie has a passion for creating kick-ass content and can be found practising her yoga poses as she updates the LoveRaw Instagram feed.

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  • How To Stay Safe When Running In The Dark

    how to stay safe when running in the dark at night

    As the nights draw in and winter approaches, sometimes it's unavoidable to go running in the dark. We're here with all our top tips so that you can stay safe when running at night. 

    Run in familiar locations

    When darkness creeps in, now is not the time to explore a new trail that you've been meaning to check out. Stick to well-known areas that you've run many times before.

    Especially if you start your run when it's still light but then it starts to get dark, your eyes may not adjust as well as you'd expect and so any unexpected hazards could take you by surprise. Run in familiar locations that you know are safe and that you know you can easily get home from if things take a turn.

    Run in well-lit areas

    If you usually run in an unlit park or wildlife area, it's advisable to stick to well-lit public spaces if you're going to be running in the dark – especially if you run solo. You never know what might be lurking in the shadows and so it's best to mitigate risk by sticking to well-lit areas. This also reduces the risk of tripping over loose branches or tree roots and injuring yourself. 

    Take a fully-charged phone with you

    You never know what might happen on a run, even in daylight, so having a fully charged phone on you could be a lifesaver (literally). It is also worth letting someone know that you are going running and how long you intend to be so that they know when to expect you home. Having friends and family know your whereabouts adds an extra element of safety when out running alone and can also add peace of mind for both parties.

    Wear reflective clothing and LED lights

    There are many different hazards when it comes to running in the dark: wildlife, trip hazards, other people, and also traffic. In order to minimise risk and make yourself as visible as possible, wear running clothing that has reflective detailing on it so that you stand out and can be seen. Your running leggings and running jacket should have reflective strips and panels so that you light up in a car's headlights and there is no chance that they won't see you.

    Additionally, if you are going to be running in a park, wear LED lights such as a head torch not only to increase your visibility to others, but so that you are also able to see where you are going!

    Stick to the path

    Never overestimate how well a motorist can see you. Avoid running in the road wherever possible and always stick to a pedestrian footpath. Even if the road is well-lit, it's not worth risking being hit by a car, especially if you run with headphones and can't hear as well as normal. 

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • How To Maintain Your Bike Over The Winter

    cycling winter bike maintenance tips

    As winter draws in, it's important to make sure you take care of your bike so that it can stay well maintained and won't break down. Follow our tips to maintain your bike over the winter so that it is ready to ride for the next race season. 

    Store your bike indoors

    If you can, storing your bike indoors could save you a lot of hassle and help your bike last longer. Of course, not everyone has the luxury of being able to store a bike in a garage or shed and you may need to find some more creative ways to store your bike indoors. There are many products available such as racks and hooks for you to store your bike in an apartment or smaller space.

    Storing your bike indoors will protect it from the elements including damp and cold and will slow the negative effects of bad weather and cold on the mechanisms and frame.

    bike storage ideas

    indoor bike storage

    Have a winter bike

    This certainly isn’t a luxury we can all afford, but if finances and other key factors allow for the purchase of a winter bike, your well-loved racing machine will thank you come that first road race or triathlon of the season. Not only this, but the components on your winter bike will be cheaper to replace should they wear out and will be easier to tinker with if they go wrong.

    Keep your bike clean

    If there were ten commandments of cycling, this one would be up there at the top. Take an extra 10-15 minutes at the end of your muddy, gritty winter rides to clean your bike and it will save you time in the long run. Cleaning your bike doesn’t have to be expensive either. All you need is a brush, sponge, bucket and some washing up liquid. If you can, a basic bike stand will allow you to use both hands for cleaning and access those hard-to-clean parts.

    Non bike-specific de-greaser can be bought far cheaper than your typical market-leading brands on the internet, but you will need to dilute these yourself before applying to your bike. It's also worth purchasing a proper chain-cleaning tool. There are lots of videos on YouTube outlining how to clean your bike properly and quickly, so it's worth checking them out so you know you're doing a thorough job.

    how to clean your bike

    Check your components regularly

    In winter, the components on your bike wear out more quickly. From your brake pads to your chain, you should check all wearable components regularly and seek to replace them before they become unusable or dangerous. Not only does this ensure the safety of yourself and other road users, you will also save money in the long run. For example, replacing your chain in a timely manner will save you having to shell out on a new cassette if you continue to use that same chain past its recommended lifetime. Buying a chain gauge will help you in this specific scenario, or alternatively, turn to your local bike shop.

    Choose the right tyres

    Racing slicks aren’t going to cut it on winter roads as they will be more prone to punctures and offer you much less grip in wet and icy conditions. Invest in a good pair of winter tyres and stock up on inner tubes. It's also worth checking your tyres periodically for wear and nicks, as this will improve your safety on the road and reduce the likelihood of punctures.

    winter bike tyres

    Wet lube or dry lube?

    The age-old question of which lubricant you should apply to your chain during winter. It’s largely personal preference, however as a rule of thumb, dry lube means your chain won’t pick up as much road grime but will wash off very quickly and will need to be re-applied before almost every ride if conditions are wet. Meanwhile, wet lube will last longer on your chain, meaning you won’t need to apply so regularly, but will attract more dirt.

    Adjust your route

    Particularly in icy, wet or windy conditions, you ought to adjust your route according to the weather outside. For example, if you know it’s going to be windy, it’s probably not the day to venture up onto the high-moor or ride along that low-lying coastal road which is gorgeous on a calm, sunny day but flooded in winter. This will not only ensure your safety but also hopefully make your ride more enjoyable.

    Try alternative training

    No matter how good your kit is or how hardcore you are, some days it is just better to stay indoors. Get friendly with your turbo trainer and reap the benefits come summer. With training packages such as Zwift or Trainer Road out there, there has never been a better time to sweat it out in the comfort of your own home.

    For those of us who are lucky enough to live in the vicinity of an indoor track or velodrome, why not take the plunge and sign up for a track day with your club or a group of friends? Bike and equipment hire is often a reasonable price at these venues and beginners are very well catered for. Two hours on a track are likely to go much quicker than two hours on a turbo.

    turbo trainer bike cycling

    Get to know your local bike shop

    This one is a must not only in winter, but all year round. A good local bike shop will be able to help you out with 99% of your cycling emergencies and queries, from ensuring your gears are in order to providing advice on what the best winter tyres are for you. As well as providing a community service, bike shops are now often competitively priced to compete with online retailers, so there really is no excuse not to pop in for a chat.

    Many thanks to Sundried athlete ambassador Travis Bramley for contributing to this article.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Expert Tips For Cycling In Winter

    winter cycling tips

    We spoke with prolific cyclist and fitness blogger Lisa Thake about how to make winter cycling more comfortable, enjoyable and safe so that you don't have to take all of your rides indoors and can still enjoy cycling in the beautiful outdoors, whatever the weather.

    It looks as though the colder weather is here for another couple of months, but that doesn’t mean you need to stop cycling outside. They say, "There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing choices" and this is very true, along with some other changes you can make. Here are my top 5 winter cycling tips.

    Dress In Layers

    Depending on temperature and personal preference, you can start with items that can be added and removed very easily such as arm warmers, leg warmers and a cycling gilet. Even some waterproof jackets can be stored away small enough to tuck into a jersey pocket if necessary. I personally opt to change from bib shorts to bib tights in winter so I do not need leg warmers.

    You'll also want a good thermal cycling jacket that is breathable and temperature regulating so that you can stay warm without overheating. Base layers are all too often overlooked and with good wicking material, even if damp from sweat or rain, will retain the properties that keep you warm.

    I opt for clothing that is also water-resistant to ensure I stay warm but that if I am also caught out in bad weather, the rain will simply run off. Swapping to full finger winter gloves to ensure your hands stay warm is essential and I also opt for glove liners with mine as some winter gloves can get sweaty inside.

    Toe covers or cycling overshoes, again those where water beads off, will help maintain your cycling shoes and ensure your feet stay warm. Very often, if your feet are cold, the rest of you can feel cold too. I always cover my ears as they are often the first place where I really feel the cold – you can use a wide headband for this or a thermal under-helmet skull hat, both of which do the job well. Lastly, the humble buff – such a versatile item that can be used in multiple ways. I mostly use mine as a neck warmer but during events I have done through the night where the temperature drops, I have pulled it up over my head and neck for more coverage. Whilst not technically kit, I also swap my glasses and on some you may be able to change lenses too – a yellow lens is great for low light or overcast conditions and clear are perfect for night riding.

    winter cycling clothing Sundried Activewear

    Invest In Bicycle Lights

    It's surprising how dark it is early in the morning and how quickly it gets dark in the evening, so good bicycle lights are key. There are many lights on the market to choose from; I recently got a light from Bontrager and although the price tag is quite high, it is really bright and the battery is long-lasting. As I commute and take part in events that go through the night, good front and rear lights are a wise investment. When commuting, I add extra lights for added visibility. I know many people who also recommend lights from CatEye and Lezyne.

    cycling night visibility bicycle lights

    Go High Vis

    Following on from lights, being safe and seen is very important and reflective fabrics or accents to clothing and bags are great as an extra safety measure to ensure visibility on the road and cycle paths.

    Choose The Right Bike Tyres

    There are a lot of different opinions on this, but it stands to reason to choose tyres appropriate for the weather. The fact is that the wet washes more flint, stones and everything else on the road and this causes punctures. I usually ride Continental 4 Seasons all year round and find them great. My new bike came with S-Works tyres and whilst I have put in some decent mileage, they recently needed replacing and, on recommendation, I have swapped to Continental 5000, which also had a very positive review on Cycling Weekly.

    cycling in winter tips expert advice

    Summer/Winter Bikes

    If you are fortunate enough to have different summer and winter bikes, you will find this time of year is when you check the forecast and make a judgement as to which bike you want to be using and over the coming months it is more than likely the summer bike will be hung up for a while. You may also opt to ride with an additional spare tube and gas canister as there is unfortunately an increase in punctures during winter months.

    Happy winter cycling!

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