Run Recovery Tips

By Rachel Grunwell – Wellness expert, Rotorua Marathon ambassador, yoga + meditation teacher, marathoner, coach, PT and author of the book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness

This post is kindly sponsored by the Rotorua Marathon event – NZ’s most iconic run event which has a distance option to suit every walker and runner including the Red Stag Marathon, Red Stag Half Marathon, Go Media 10km, First Credit 5.5km. Find out more about the event HERE.

  1. Stretch. Stretching will always be my No 1 tip after running. This helps to bring length back to tight muscles and helps you to walk with more ease. Decode: You’ll walk less like a cowboy going into a gun-totting standoff! Ever tried to walk down stairs after a long run? Yeah, you want to avoid that awkward walk that huuuuuuuuurts with every move you make and every breath you take. Trust me, I’ve conquered (decode: survived) 25 marathons and you want to stretch so you can move better. Check out my instagram for some quick vids on how to stretch and use a foam roller.
  2. Use a foam roller. This will help you to “iron out” your body so to speak. Target those knots and tight spots and gently use the foam roller to free your body up.

3. Rehydrate well. This is an energy sapper otherwise! Also, your body works harder to pump the blood around your body if you haven’t had enough fluid. And make sure you have water and not the sweet stuff, of course.

4. Refuel well. You’ve obviously burnt some calories out on your run – and so eat some healthy, wholesome kai. A big mistake is people think they can eat LOTS of crap food because they run. In reality, you can’t outrun a crap diet. But I do believe in balance. I will be celebrating after the run with a glass of champagne and a burger. Yum.

5. Contrast Therapy. I love using cold water and hot water therapy after a run. It stimulates blood circulation and helps you to unwind, relax and rejuvenate. It’s bliss-inducing stuff. The ultimate is going for a soak at the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua where they have a cold plunge pool and lots of hot water pools on the lake edge of Rotorua. This is a blissful place to unwind, relax and you’ll get the best nights sleep afterwards I promise!

The Polynesian Spa has alkaline pools that are great for giving you soft, smooth skin. While the acidic pools are great to easing aches and sore muscles.

I help to co-lead the Mindful Moments Retreats at the Polynesian Spa by the way and I love coming here after a run or walk in the Redwoods Forest which is the location of the Rotorua Marathon’s half marathon course.

Whatever distance your run at this event, enjoy it and be proud of yourself for getting out there and doing the Mahi. Running is epic for your body, mind and soul. It’s a place within yourself to find flow and feel more in balance.

The Polynesian Spa is also a great spot for a recovery smoothie or juice that’s healthy or a massage!

Rachel is the author of the book Balance. She does wellness speaking and mindfulness sessions. She loves to run and lift weights and do yoga. She sees movement as essential for moving well, feeling well and living well.

Leg Love! 4 Ways to Stretch Your Legs

Leg Love for Runners!

By Rachel Grunwell – Rotorua Marathon ambassador, marathoner, coach and yoga teacher

This blog was proudly sponsored by the Rotorua Marathon event. Find out more about the event on May 6, 2023. There is a distance for every level of walker or runner. Click HERE.

See a video demonstration (with tips) for these yoga poses too via instagram. Click HERE.

I recommend dynamic stretches before you run (to prepare your body for moving well so you can run well) and static stretches post-running (to bring length back to tight muscles and so you can avoid walking like the lego man)!

Stretching overall is a good injury-prevention tool.

Ps, I caution that you should never force a stretch, or bounce fast through movements. You can risk pulling a muscle. If you are tight then you can feel uncomfortable, but you should never feel pain.

Remember to breathe as you move and find joy in the movements!

#ad #yogaforrunners #mobility #rotoruamarathon #rotoruanz

Peddle your feet in downward dog.
Hold this stretch for 40 seconds to 90 seconds. Repeat 2-4 times each side.
Hold this stretch for 40 seconds to 90 seconds each side 2-4 times.
If you don’t have a yoga strap at home… just use a belt. You might have one on your dressing gown.
Only go into this stretch with 60%-70% effort. Never force the stretch. If you are shaking, then don’t go into the stretch too deep. Be kind on yourself. If you are relaxed, then you will go into the stretch with more ease (over time).
Sign up for the Red Stag Marathon, Red Stag Half Marathon, Go Media 10km, First Credit Union 5.5km event by clicking HERE

Note: Reach out to me on social media if you have any questions. I’ve run the Red Stag Rotorua Marathon 42km distance four times – including three times guiding blind runners. I’ve done the Red Stag Half Marathon and Go Media 10km event twice too. I’m an experienced runner and I’ve conquered 25 marathons. I love teaching yoga to athletes to enhance their training and performance. It’s an injury prevention tool that I am passionate to share.

I also love this iconic Rotorua event. I’ve run it with my dad, my kids, friends and their kids, and guided disabled athletes through the event too. This event is joy-filled and for real athletes like you and me, plus the elites are inspiring to watch too!

Connect with Rachel on Instagram or Facebook

3 Hip Stretches for Runners

By Rachel Grunwell (coach, yoga teacher, multi-marathoner and author of the book Balance: Food, health + Happiness)

Note: This post was sponsored by the Rotorua Marathon event which is on May 6, 2023. Choose from the full marathon, Red Stag Timber Half Marathon, Go Media 10km, or First Credit Union 5.5km distance. Find more information HERE.

Most runners do the same stretches day in, day out. But did you know there are 2100 yoga stretches to choose from. So, there are so many different ways to stretch each body part. So it’s fun to change it up. It’s also great to find a stretch version that suits your body best. I put a poll out to runners to ask what stretch they wanted most and hips/thighs came up as the most wanted. So here are three ways to stretch your hips:

This standing pigeon pose targets the hip flexors while you are in a stand position. The pose strengthens the standing leg, challenges your balance and focus and is a great option if the ground is wet or dirty! A good cue to remember is to sit back like you are sitting onto a chair. The lower you go, the juicier the stretch! Also, try not to collapse your shoulders. Keep your shoulders back.

Pidgeon pose in recline position is a good option to stretch your hips if you get sore knees – as all the pressure is taken off this area. You can relax your upper body in this pose and just breathe deeply thorough the stretch on each side. Remember to relax the foot on the side that’s the support for the foot on the knee. Remember to breeeeeeeeathe.
This version sees you flip your pidgeon onto your tummy. The higher the bent leg comes up towards your face, the deeper the stretch – if you wish. Try moving your hips from left to right and feel the nature of this stretch change.
To add a thigh stretch to this pidgeon pose, just reach your hand to the foot and bring the heel towards your glute. The closer the heel comes to the glute, the deeper the stretch. If you can’t reach your foot then use a strap or dressing gown tie and loop it around the foot.
If you want more stretching Inspo, then follow me on Instagram. I share flows and poses there from time to time, as well as wellness and fitness guff.

  • Rachel is a proud ambassador for the Rotorua Marathon and has been sharing coaching, stretching and wellness inspiration with runners in this role for six years now. She has run the Rotorua Marathon event four times, done the half and also conquered the 10km distance last year with her son and other family members. Three of the four times she has done this marathon she has guided blind runners through the Achilles charity. She loves to run, and help others run too.
  • This is proudly a sponsored post by the Rotorua Marathon

20 Top Run Tips – from 4 passionate runners & experts!

AD/ Here are 20 top run tips in the lead up to the Rotorua Marathon event on September 17 – from an elite runner and three experienced marathoners including a top nutrition expert. If you haven’t already entered this amazing event then there is still time to enter. Join in on the fun by clicking HERE

5 Tips from elite athlete and Rotorua Marathon champion, Ingrid Cree:

Be Prepared! 

Train hard, taper to freshen up, study & visualise the course, check the weather forecast & adjust your race plan to suit. 


Say hi to someone at the start, share your journey & encourage each other. Having supporters along the way and your name on your bib can be great for motivation too. 

Rehydrate & Refuel!

You need to frequently replace some of the fluid & energy you lose while you are running. A sports drink you are familiar with or gels & water work great. 

Pace Yourself!

Don’t get carried away at the start, the race really begins in the last 10km of a marathon. Relax up & down the hills so you still have strength in your legs for the final stages. 


Enjoy the day & the stunning course. This is going to be an amazing achievement, so be proud of yourself! Studies have shown smiling can actually lower your perception of effort. 

5 Tips from Marton Salisbury, a member of the Rotorua Survivors Club, who has run 120 marathons including 30 Rotorua Marathons. He has done 30 marathons with his brother Ants, who sadly can’t do it this year due to injury. Marton’s son Matthew has also been doing this marathon for 10 years now too!

Train to Race , don’t race to Train

Never give up, keep moving forward, the end will come.

Plan, Plan, Plan – training walks/runs (Record and celebrate all improvements , no matter how small).

Set small distance goals and increase slowly each week.

Tapering towards the event.

Have fun, and train with a friend. (Helps keep you committed and is so much more enjoyable).

5 Tips from PhD qualified, registered nutritionist, 14 x marathoner & sub 3-hour marathoner, Mikki Williden

Start your day with a decent hit of protein. This helps recovery from the early morning training session, stabilise blood sugar and promote better energy levels. A lot of runners feel tired through the day that they attribute to training, but it is also diet driven. Eggs (at least 3), protein smoothie, a breakfast bake like this ( or dinner for breakfast can all be great ways to achieve the 30g protein you need.

Hydrate well throughout the day. Another energy sapper, being dehydrated does make the heart work harder to pump the blood around the body, making you feel more fatigued and the perceived effort in your next workout a lot harder. Rehydrating and replacing 1.5x the amount of fluid lost in your workouts within 2-3 hours can offset dehydration. Weigh yourself before and after training to figure out what this equates too.

Don’t avoid the salt shaker. We need sodium to pull water into our cells, to help with ATP production (i.e. energy) and we need more than we think. Adding ½ tsp salt to your 1L of water will provide a decent hit of the sodium (salt) you need, as will salting your food. As an athlete, it is difficult to overdo this.

While you burn more calories than the average person, you also use way more nutrients – so food quality is important. Don’t use your training as an excuse to eat a less than stellar diet. This isn’t saying you can never enjoy convenience or fast foods if you like them, but focusing on good sources of animal protein, eggs, quality sources of carbohydrate (such as potato, kumara, fruit), nuts, seeds and non starchy vegetables, using butter, olive oil and coconut oil to cook in, will help you meet your nutrient requirements. 

That said, magnesium, fish oils and vitamin D / K are three supplements I most recommend runners take for their beneficial roles in reducing inflammation, promoting immune health and replenishing the stress pathways. With creatine to support recovery (and brain!) and a Blackcurrant supplement as other recommendations for those who are able to spend more in this area. 

5 tips from Rachel Grunwell, wellness expert, run coach, 25x  marathoner  including four full Rotorua Marathons, run guide for the Achilles charity (guiding disabled athletes through marathons). Author of the book Balance: Food, health + Happiness (which includes 30 global experts on how to live healthier and happier).

It’s common not to sleep well the night before race day  because you feel nervous/anxious/excited– and that’s ok. You are not alone; It’s common. And don’t worry about it impacting on your performance. You’ll have the energy and adrenalin to get you through to the end of race day if you have trained for this race, no problem. Try to aim for a good night’s sleep two days out from race day to bank some zzzzz in case you don’t sleep well the night before.

Get loved ones or a friend to cheer you on when you are ¾ of the way through the race. This is when it starts to get hard and the support will lift you up and make you smile. Even better, run this event with a loved one! I’ll be running the 10km event with my dad, Nick, and son Lachlan, aged 15 (and possibly my sister Bex! So this marathon event will make for some amazing memories!!!

Fuel yourself well after a race – ideally with a good protein hit! Here’s a yum nut butter smoothie recipe to try

A marathon event is the test of your mind ultimately. Believe you can and you will do it.

Stretch after a long run to bring length back to tight muscles (and to avoid you walking like a lego man!) Here are some stretches to try from one of my blogs.

ps the last time, and only other time, my dad and I have done a race together was a Rotorua Marathon. I finished this event before he did, and then went back out on the course for him … we crossed that finish line together, holding hands and it will forever be one of our most special memories. Ever! I actually framed that picture and it’s in dad’s lounge. When I look at it… I always smile! Heck, so much sweat shared chuckle!

Visualisation Tips for the Race End

By Rachel Grunwell

AD) The hardest part of a race is three quarters of the way through. It’s when you question your sanity and ask questions like, “why the eff am I here!”

Firstly, there are many things you need to do to get to the end of a race well. You know, things like having a smart training plan towards the distance you intend to race, practicing fuelling (to know what works well, and what might give you the s****)… to understanding a pace you can cope with so you don’t hit “the wall” too soon (ie getting to that point where you are so tired/sore/exhausted/borken/bewildered that you want to give up (and cry for your mum)….

I’ve survived 25 marathons and found  some visualisation is helpful. If you hate the wu wu term then let’s just call it strategy instead.

With visualisation, you should not just visualise the end game – you know, that euphoric feeling of the finish-line and thinking “yay, I’ve done it whoop!”. You need to importantly visualise “the bridge”. The bridge is the part where you feel like you are doing this race tough – which is usually about three quarters of the way through a race. You need to get over this “bridge” and get to the end… This is the point where you want to give up, but you need to keep going.

What helps to get over the “bridge” is training your body, nervous system and mind to do these hard miles – so you don’t give up.

So visualise things like what will you do if it’s raining, windy and stormy during that race? Or consider what it might be like if you have really sore legs?

So imagine what it’s like to race in hard weather conditions (and practice actually doing this prior too by the way!) Also imagine how to dig deep mentally if you are sore and feel like giving up.

Think about different ideas about how you can get through these tough conditions or being in a hard head space….

One strategy I use when I guide disabled athletes through marathons is for the last 8 kilometres of a marathon I get them to think of people they care about for each kilometre near the end of a race and dedicate that kilometre to that person. I tell them that person will be so proud of them finishing this bucket-list dream. This dedication of miles inspires them to keep running, dig deeper and mentally commit to the race end. Who do they dedicate miles too? Sometimes it can be someone who has helped them to train, financially supported them, or been a loving and supportive influence in their life. Sometimes it’s a family member, partner or friends.

When you run because someone helped to sponsor you, or believes in your ability, this can be a powerful motivator for finishing a race! You want the money for your chosen charity, but you also don’t want to let yourself, or anyone else, down by not finishing a race either.

I tell runners who I help guide through marathons that the pain of not finishing a race will be worse than the pain of not committing to carrying on and completing the race. Pain from sore legs lasts only for a few days. But the pain you’ll feel for not finishing a race you dreamed of completing can last a heck of a lot longer. I can’t imagine going to a race like New York and not coming home with a medal… or to questions from friends asking why that medal isn’t with you!

So visualise and practice pushing through hard miles. Tap into that inner resilience. You don’t have any control over things like the weather on race day, but you can always choose how to approach hard conditions and hard thoughts you might encounter on race day. There’s power in flipping your mindset into the positive.

I’ve run through heat waves on marathons (Hawke’s Bay and Hawaii are two that come to mind!) And I’ve also run through storms (Queenstown and Taupo I remember clearly!) And New York marathon is something I’ve done four times and it’s generally a mix of very hot/very cold weather and the conditions of running this entire race on concrete make it super tough!.It’s hard and it hurts.

ps other strategies for getting through tough miles that I use include focusing on my breathing pattern or cadence pattern. I sometimes repeat a mantra or meditation (I actually like singing one to myself – I don’t sing it out loud!) I also go into a mindfulness or gratitude state where I soak up the beauty of my surroundings and remember how lucky I am to be able to run. I always think “I’m lucky I can do this”. Because some people will never experience this beautiful flow state. I also know the pain will stop at a given point (the end) and I just need to keep moving one step at a time and I will get there. Eventually!

What gets you through “the bridge”? Please comment below!

  • pics below are from some hard miles of co-guiding inspiring Achilles athletes through marathons or half marathons in Rotorua and New York.

With inspiring blind athlete Hannah and co-guiding was Greg Boyed. The hills around the second half of the race can be tough and so too can that long ending through the suburbs!

With blind athlete Mike and Greg co-guiding at Taupo. This race was wet, windy, freezing, and tough. But we got through (even with the odd smile!) It’s great running with others – there’s great chat about different things that also acts as a powerful distraction when the legs hurt!

With blind athlete Tamati at New York Marathon. We’ve run four marathons and many other events together over the years throughout NZ, New York, Sydney etc. New York is a tough marathon – it can be scorching hot one minute and then bitterly cold the next. The start line is super early, hard to get to and it’s coooooold. You also have to get up for this race about 4am to get to the start line! So yeah, a bit of mental toughness is required. But it’s an amazing race with 50,000 runners and millions of spectators cheering you on.

At the NY finish line with Tamati and Tamati’s other awesome Kiwi
guides! An epic team. We did this together and helped each other through this race. I have magic memories from all my marathon journeys including the amazing people, places and adventures. There’s nothing like that moment when bling goes around your neck. You are bonded with your fellow runners in a special way for life.

  • This post was sponsored by the Rotorua Marathon event. I am the ambassador for this event.
  • My background? I’ve run 25 marathons and have lots track of the half marathons and 10km event numbers I’ve conquered. I’m a run coach, yoga + meditation teacher, wellness expert and author of the book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness. I’m also a proud ambassador for the charity Achilles, which helps athletes with disabilities to conquer marathons in NZ and around the world.

Run Mates’ Mistakes: 10 Top Comical Run Stories to Learn From

AD/ By Rachel Grunwell (Rotorua Marathon run ambassador, coach, 25 x marathoner, and a chick who loves to run (mostly to the freezer for ice-cream, or “run away” on run trips with girlfriends shhhhhhhh don’t tell anyone)

You can improve your run performance through consistency, speed-work, doing this sport over time, fuelling your body right and getting enough sleep… those kinds of things.

Heck throw in some beetroot powder, blackcurrant powder, hot/cold therapy, compression tights and yin yoga too for good measure if you are really into trying all you can to boost your run performance.

We can also boost our run performance through learning from our run mates’ mistakes. Seriously. Ask your run friends for some anecdotes of their past run failures and it will give you a good list of things not to repeat. Learn form their mistakes! Also, you’ll get a good belly laugh out of the (often cringe-worthy) stories.

I asked some run-inspired girlfriends to weigh in on this topic. So, some of the tips below are from me, while others are from some of my epic run girlfriends. Share some of your own run mistakes in the comments below too to help fellow runners out! Come on, don’t keep your run mistakes to yourself; Share them for others to laugh at – I mean, er learn from…. 🙂

  1. Pin your run number to your t-shirt well ahead of the race – don’t leave it to the second the start gun goes and end up fumbling around for a few minutes trying to sort that basic stuff out! Those few minutes you spent fumbling might be the few precious minutes that your mate beat you in the race by – and it will be your own stupid fault.
  2. Break in any new run gear – and especially shoes – weeks ahead of race day. Otherwise you’ll likely end up swearing over the chaffing. And chaffing can happen everywhere: ankles, feet, toes, under arms, and yes even your ass. And it HURTS! God it hurts. Did I mention how much it HURTS!!!
  3. While we are on the chaffing topic. Use vaseline to stop chaffing on longer runs. Otherwise you WILL whimper when your raw rubbed skin hits the next shower or bath you have – and every shower following for potentially a week later….
  4. Study the course map. It’s hard to get lost, but you should know your turn points in a course. There is nothing worse than running longer than you have to for that medal.
  5. Have a pre-race plan to meet up with a mate if you plan to run together. Otherwise good luck in finding your mate amongst thousands of others! If you are like me… I finally found my run mate in a Rotorua Marathon event just a few kilometres from the finish line one year!! It made for a lonely ¾ of the race. So I learnt my lesson hard! However the “up side” was that at least my mate helped drag me to the finish-line at the end when I needed him most! This mate may, or may not, be the Chief Executive of Rotorua Community Hospice… yea Jonathon still laughs at me over that failed run plan (amongst others)…
  6. Allow plenty of time before the race to account for the loo queue for that last minute wee. You don’t want to be “that person” in the loo queue when the race gun goes. Or worse, have a full bladder while you wince your way through the first few miles and then, finally, spot a loo that has a queue a mile long with others who have made the same run mistake.
  7. Test new energy gels BEFORE race day. Otherwise pooping could be a problem.
  8. Don’t go out running too fast too soon – or you will finish the race crying and crawling. Pace yourself. Plan to run the last kilometres strong and you’ll finish with a smile.
  9. Slow down for race pictures and smile when you see a race camera out on the course (and pretend for a moment you are enjoying the event even if you aren’t!) People who look good in their race pictures have mastered this trick. The rest of us look like we are hunched over crazies with maddened looks glued to our faces. ie NOT pretty (or handsome).
  10. Don’t wear light coloured shorts or tights. They show up mud, (awkward sweat), awkward non-sweat, mud, and if it rains… it looks like awkward non-sweat…
  • This post is kindly sponsored by the Rotorua Marathon event. I’m a proud run ambassador for NZ’s most iconic – and one of the longest running – run events in this country. Enter a distance and be part of this epic event – there’s a 5km, 10km, 21km, or 42km distance to choose from Enter HERE

10 Tips to Fuel Your Run Game

By Rachel Grunwell – Rotorua Marathon Ambassador, Coach, 25 X Marathoner, and Author of the book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness

Sign up for the Rotorua Marathon event on May 7 by clicking HERE

Running more miles is not the only way to uplift your run performance. Lifestyle factors can play a big part. Here are 10 tips to fuel your run performance. Choose one idea and incorporate it and see how you feel!

  1. Consider cutting back on your alcohol intake while training for an event. Alcohol can impact on your performance, energy levels and even impact sleep quality (which helps you to perform at your best). I’m personally all about “balance”. I have some drinks socially and savour them. But I know how drinking the night before a run can feel (it’s not pretty!) and so I’m keen to avoid that  personally! Alcohol impacts everyone differently. So ask yourself if you could pull back on this to help you power forward with your run game too.
  2. Adopt a sleep routine. Like babies, we can really benefit from sleeping enough hours daily (7.5 hours roughly for adults and even more sleep is required for kids and elite athletes). Sleep is when you repair, rest, and essentially get stronger. My sleep routine is a bath to help me wind down before bed-time and I always turn the lights out by 10pm so I can aim to sleep like a baby (and train like a beast at 6am)!
  3. Eat beetroot or drink it in a juice. The raw veg isn’t king either – the freeze-dried powder in packets is just as good (and sometimes actually better)! Beetroot has nitrates which gets converted to nitric oxide in your body. This relaxes blood vessels and can lead to lowering your blood pressure. You can grate it in salads or chop it up and put it in a blender to make a juice. Here’s a recipe I show you how to make on a vid. Click HERE.
  4. Master your mindset. What the mind believes, the mind can achieve. Look, everyone is in “the hurt locker” during any event – even the elite athletes (who are obviously running faster than most of us, of course)! What drives your stride to keep powering on… is down to your mindset. Stay strong, confident, stick in there and just keep going. You can do this.
  5. Eat more greens. Eat all colours of the rainbow in fact. These contain micronutrients and help to fill you up, keep you healthy and are a key to good weight management.
  6. Lose a few kilograms if you are overweight. If you are lighter then you can run stronger and faster!
  7. Eat enough protein so you can maintain the muscle you build when you run (which is metabolism-boosting). The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations are 1.4-5g per kg of body weight. But I personally have 1.6-2.2g per kilo of body weight (as recommended to me by a professor and dietitian in NZ).
  8. Get a coach to help you train to your highest potential (and help you avoid getting injured). Having a coach gets you to your goals smarter and faster.
  9. Use meditation and yoga to calm your nervous system so you can perform at your best. Yoga helps bring length back to tight run muscles. Meditation is research-backed to help you chill out and feel more relaxed and recharged.
  10. Sign up for an event to keep you motivated towards your run goal. This scares you into action and gives you a deadline to aim for to keep accountable! Also, follow other runners on instagram. ie I follow the things like #rotoruamarathon #nzrunners etc on instagram, I’m on strava and I love finding other fellow runners to get Inspo and feel connected to this epic cool community. Find more of your tribe too. It helps keep you excited about running!

How Stress Stuffs Up Your Run Performance + 3 Top Tips to Manage Stress

By Rachel Grunwell

(AD) Stress can stuff up your run performance. Too much stress can also increase your tiredness and fatigue and leave you with poor cognitive (thinking) ability. Hello fuzzy brain!

Some stress is normal in every day life. It helps you to get tasks done. But when you get overly stressed for long periods it can lead to burn out over time, poor sleep quality and put you into a real “run funk”. Stress also leads to elevated cortisol which decreases muscle mass – and muscle mass is handy to hang onto as a runner because this helps you to be strong when trying to power up hills! And the Rotorua Marathon event does have a few hills…

In simple speak, too much stress slows your run journey down. So here are some tips to manage stress…

5 Tips to Manage Stress

  1. Sleep well to feel at your optimum and have the energy to run well. Get 7.5 hours-8 hours nightly. Kids need more sleep and highly active individuals and athletes can benefit from even more than the standard hours of sleep. Sleep helps your with having sharper concentration, more energy, improves your memory, improves muscle regeneration, is good for your immune system and also increases your ability to manage stress! Sleep is a free recovery tool to optimise your performance. Sleep deprivation can also exhaust you faster, Getting less than eight hours’ sleep can also increase the likelihood of injury. So sleep like a baby, so you can run like a beast! ps 10pm-2am is the golden hour for sleep. So tuck up tight early on.
  2. Try having tart cherry juice (about 50ml) before bed to help you sleep after a hard and long training run. These berries pack a punch of antioxidant power, which supports joint mobility and helps protect your body from free radical damage. The berries also contain Vitamin A and beta carotene. There is research too that claims. the juice enhances immune system function, has a potent anti inflammatory effect and may increase melatonin levels to help people sleep well…. So it’s worth a try….
  3. Stretch or do yoga for 20-minutes to wind down and feel more in balance in your body and mind. While you stretch, use diaphragmatic breathing (deep belly breathing) which helps to calm your nervous system. Meditation is an element of yoga and helpful too for feeling happier. If you are new to trying meditation, then just do it for one minute. Here is a one minute meditation to try via my instagram page that’s easy, quick and I hope it helps your to unwind. Click HERE

This post was sponsored by the Rotorua Marathon event, which is being held on May 7, 2022. To enter a distance (full marathon, red stag timber half marathon, Go Media 10km or 5.5km) ENTER HERE

Rachel is the Rotorua Marathon ambassador (she has run 25 marathons including the Rotorua Marathon event five times). She is a wellness expert, and qualified coach. She’s the proud author too of the book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness which is full of lots of running, nutrition and wellness advice.

7 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Running – a professor gives the low-down

(AD) Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Multi-marathoner, coach, yoga teacher, author, wellness journalist, and proud Rotorua Marathon ambassador.

If you want to live longer and have a better quality of life – then run!

It doesn’t matter if you run slow or fast either. There are so many health benefits that it doesn’t actually matter what your speed is. Just keep running – and you’ll get better, stronger, and faster over time.

Here are 7 health benefits of running – according to Andrew Kilding, a professor of sport and exercise physiology at the Sports Performance Research Institute of New Zealand. 

I interviewed Professor Kilding for a 6-page article for the NZ  Women’s Weekly magazine on running recently and he listed these awesome health benefits of running:

  1. Running improves the function and structure of the heart. He explains that as we age, our arteries can “stiffen”. Regular running gets the heart pumping and gives the arteries a real work out. This keeps them “pliable”. The increased blood flow associated with running also helps stop fatty deposits accumulating on the artery walls, which can narrow the arteries and result in high blood pressure at rest – which is not a good thing.
  2. Being on the run burns kilojoules, speeding up your metabolism. This is helpful for weight management. “Your metabolic rate is increased for a few hours afterwards,” he says, but he’s quick to note that “you can’t out-run a bad diet,” he says.
  3. Exercise (and particularly running) also improves resting heart rate and increases aerobic fitness. Professor Kilding says a high level of aerobic fitness has been shown to be one of the best-known indicators of an individual’s long-term health. He explains that in 2016, Duck-Chul Lee, a professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University, found that even 5-10 minutes running per day at a slow speed is associated with markedly reduced risks of death from cardiovascular disease.
  4. Regular running improves the body’s ability to transport oxygen around the body, so we get more efficient at running, and other physical activities also start to feel easier. Hello feeling fitter!
  5.  Running – or habitual exercise – is associated with a greater quality of life and could also lengthen it, too.
  6.  Running improves your bone and joint health. This is because running is a weight-bearing activity. The impact loads the bones and this results in them strengthening. “This is especially important in later life. Running can be a strategy to maintain bone health,” Professor Kilding says.
  7. Running helps your mental health. “We tend to forget about the mental benefits of running. It reduces depression, anxiety and stress, and can help with cognition, memory and sleep.  Professor Kilding says “I make sure I get out for a run a few times a week. For me, it’s just about getting some time and space on my own, switching off and importantly, getting time in nature.” 

Enter a distance at the Rotorua Marathon HERE

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Health-Inspired Xmas Gifts

By Rachel Grunwell

AD – This content is kindly sponsored by FitbitNZ. Rachel is a Fitbit ambassador and proud spokesperson.

Make your Xmas gift count this year by giving something that inspires good health and an inner or outer glow! Here are some of my top picks of things I LOVE and back…

  1. Fitbit Sense watch. This really is the ultimate Christmas Prezzie (for yourself or someone you love). This watch can help you to transform your health. It will help you to be sleep fit (monitor your sleep score!), be heart rate fit (this device can detect your resting heart rate score with incredible technology) , be brain fit (the watch can guide you through mindfulness exercises to help you manage your stress levels) and be body fit (monitor your exercise and nutrition too through the watch)! I’ve worn a Fitbit watch for about eight years now and LOVE this brand. This latest watch is Fitbit’s most advanced health smartwatch. I wear it everywhere including running (it measures steps done, kms run, distance run, run pace and keeps check on my heart rate levels). It’s so easy to use that it really is the ultimate run watch. I wear it to de-stress (the mindfulness exercise for two minutes is my fave and can calm my nervous system so quickly). I wear it to bed to check my sleep score, which has been so interesting. And I wear it whether I’m in a dress and heels or wearing lycra to teach yoga. I wear my Fitbit Sense more than jewellery! This really is the ultimate Xmas prezzie. This gift also keeps giving – it will be worn for years to come.
  2. An entry into the Rotorua Marathon event on May 8, 2021. This will inspire action on a fitness goal to get fitter and healthier – and as a ripple effect, exercise uplifts your happiness levels. This is NZ’s most iconic run event which has a fun run, 10km run through stunning and unique sulphur flats, a half marathon forest off-road run and a road marathon where you lap Lake Rotorua. Take the family for the weekend too and explore Rotorua. There’s adventure on your doorstep, great places to eat, a City full of beautiful Maori culture and lots of lakes and forest walks to explore.

3. A health inspired book. How about Luke Hines’ book Barbecue this! which has 80 quick, vibrant and flavour-packed dishes for weeknights, or for times of entertaining. Or a great book for managing anxiety that hell help you feel calmer via teaching calming breathing techniques is Dot, by Kieran E. Scott. Or of course, I’m biased in also recommending my own full colour book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness which boasts 30 global experts on how to be healthier and happier + 30 nourishing recipes. The book has tips around nutrition, neuroscience, psychology, emotional intelligence, de-cluttering, fitness, losing weight, feeling happier and more. My fave expert in the book is Shaun Achor, a happiness researcher from Texas. You can order it through this website HERE.

Balance Book by Rachel Grunwell Page 56
Here’s a recipe page from the book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness

4. Natural beauty products that support your outer health. My top picks right now are Linden Leaves Miraculous Facial Oil (a light formula that’s NZ-made for more youthful, nourished skin), Nellie’s Tier’s face mist (to refresh and hydrate with the incredible perfume of a blend of floral waters), or Weleda’s Birch oil (to put on my body post exercise for muscle recovery. The fresh smell of this, feel of it and it’s purpose is pretty rad).

5. Sponsor a charity. My top pick is the Cambodia Charitable Trust which helps kids access education, and more, in Cambodia. I bought a bag of rice for $60 which will help feed a family for a month. The lawyer who started this trust lives in Tauranga and she features in my book Balance. She helps thousands of kids in Cambodia now and her work is extraordinary. Help her to make more of a difference in the world by helping this trust with whatever amount that you want. Whatever you gift will be super appreciated.

6. A voucher for a retreat. Indulge your loved one (or yourself!) in a blissful weekend getaway at Rotorua’s Mindful Moments retreat. The dates are now up on the Polynesian Spa’s website for 2021. This getaway boasts a beauty treatment at the spa, a premium good bag, lunch on both days, spa dips in the 28 pools on site at the spa, yoga, mindfulness, meditation sessions, a forest walk, a wellness workshop and more. This is such an affordable retreat as far as retreats go in NZ. A journalist dubbed it one of NZ’s most affordable and top micro retreats in NZ. I co-host this retreat and love connecting with the incredible men and women who attend. This sells out fast as only 14 guests are taken at a time per retreat! I promise you will leave this retreat feeling more calm, happy and rejuvenated.

Polynesian Spa Mindful Moments Event Image

Sponsored blog by Fitbit NZ

Declaration: Rachel proudly works with Fitbit, the Rotorua Marathon, Linden Leaves, the Polynesian Spa, and is the author of the book Balance which she promotes in this article too. She genuinely backs these as incredible Xmas gift ideas that have helped to transform her health and vitality.

Rachel Grunwell is a wellness coach, speaker, and her mission is to inspire Kiwis to live healthier and happier by aligning with partners that care about promoting good health.

Follow her on instagram for daily posts and more wellness Inso. Click HERE