Keeping Kids Entertained
Keeping Kids Entertained

The UK Coronavirus lockdown means that we’re all isolating from home. This also means extra pressure for parents to keep the kids entertained! 

We’re a few weeks in, therefore it’s likely you’ve already heard the words “I’M BORED” a few times already! Here’s a few suggestions to keep the little ones busy…at least for a few hours!

 

  1. Keep them active
    It’s important to burn off some of that energy they wake up with! If you don’t have a garden where they can stay entertained with ball games for hours, why not try PE with Joe Wicks? He holds a 30 minute live PE session for all ages on his YouTube channel, Monday-Friday. 
  2.  

  3. Your outdoor hour
    Include your children in your allocated hour of outdoor daily exercise by taking them on a walk, a jog or a bike ride and have fun as a family while staying active. 
  4.  

  5. Get baking
    Although it can be a bit of a messy process, baking always provides a bit of excitement for kids. You can start simple with a cupcake kit or why not try one of the many banana bread recipes out there at the moment? Get creative! 
  6.  

  7. Embrace their creative side
    Colouring books, paint by numbers, some freestyle drawing, see what they can do! Maybe they’ll uncover a hidden talent! 
  8.  

  9. Get gardening
    If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, aren’t there some gardening chores you’ve been meaning to tackle for months? Well, now you’ve got some little helpers! Get them involved with the weeding, planting new flowers and maybe even cutting the grass. 
  10.  

  11. Keep the mind busy
    Introduce your kids to the world of jigsaws. Hard or easy, they’re a great way to keep the mind active and provide a great sense of achievement by the end!

 

Above all, it’s important to remember that you’re parenting during a national pandemic, so just do as best you can, and make sure you give yourself a break every now and then. We’re all in this together. 

Stay home. Stay healthy. Stay safe.

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Smoothie Recipes for Runners

Smoothie Recipes for Runners

There’s nothing worse than running on an empty stomach. Not having the energy to fuel the performance you’re capable of can be frustrating and ultimately demoralising for runners. Smoothies are a really effective and healthy way to increase your energy levels and can boost recovery post-run. 

Here are our top 5 recipes.

1) Banana Smoothie

– 1 cup of milk (whatever kind is your preference)
– 1 large banana
– 1 tablespoon of peanut/almond butter
– ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional)

This is a really easy and quick one, simply pop all the ingredients into your blender and then blitz until you get a consistency you’re happy with. Bananas are perfect for an active lifestyle, they’re quick and easy to eat, and they provide energy through their healthy carbohydrates and potassium. This helps control muscle contractions during activity and also aids recovery by restoring electrolyte balance post-activity.

2) Green Smoothie

– 1 cup of almond milk
– 1 apple
– 2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves
– 1 tablespoon of peanut/almond butter
– 1 scoop protein powder (optional)

If you can see past the colour it turns your smoothie, spinach is a great ingredient. It’s low in calories, but high in fiber, iron, zinc, folate, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K. The nitric oxide reduces the amount of oxygen muscles require during activity, making running easier and reducing the chance of injury. Just 2 small handfuls in your smoothie will provide a huge amount of nutrional benefit! Blitz all the ingredients together and pop in a scoop of protein if desired.

3) Blueberry Smoothie

– 1 cup of milk
– 1 cup blueberries
– 1 cup blackberries
– 1/2 cup of Greek yoghurt 
– 1 large banana
– 1 scoop protein powder (optional)

Blueberries are incredibly good for you. They are very low in calories but high in nutrients. They’re packed with antioxidants, which protect your body from unstable molecules that can damage your cells and contribute to aging and diseases. Adding the yoghurt into this recipe is not only delicious but is a good source of protein and calcium. Again just pop in to the blender and blitz until its smooth.

4) Tropical Smoothie

– 1 cup of milk
– ¼ cup of Greek yoghurt
– 1 large banana
– 1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks
– 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
– 1 teaspoon dessicated coconut (optional)
– 1 teaspoon honey (optional)

Pineapples are packed with immune-boosting nutrients and enhance heart health by dissolving artery plaque. They’re great to eat post activity as they reduce the time it takes to recover from exercise due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Mango is full of fiber and antioxidants making this smoothie packed with nutrition and perfect for a runner pre or post run. Put the ingredients in the blender and blend till its done. Add the coconut and/or honey if you like your smoothies a little bit sweeter.

5) Avocado Smoothie

– 1 cup of almond milk
– 1 ripe avocado
– 1 cup greek yoghurt
– 1 kiwi

Avocado is full of healthy fats. This helps to fill you up, meaning a single avocado can reduce the desire to overeat or snack later in the day. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat, making them a great source of energy for longer exercise sessions. A whole avocado contains around 230 calories – providing 3g of protein and 9g of fibre, which ensures high energy levels and stabilised blood sugar.

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Healthy Snack Options

Healthy Snack Options

It’s a strange time, and being asked to vastly reduce our time outside has meant that many of us are spending far more time at home than we’re used to. For some, being at home all day makes little difference to the daily routine, but for others, it can lead to an increased urge to snack. So to help out, we’ve put together a list of guilt-free, healthy snacks that can actually boost your energy and improve your running performance!

1) Bananas

This is an obvious one. Bananas are quick and easy to eat whilst simultaneously being a great source of potassium, boosting muscle function. They’re full of good carbs and are beneficial to the body before, during or after a run.

2) Popcorn

Corn kernels are whole grain, making them nutritionally similar to whole wheat bread or brown rice. So as long as you’re not covering your popcorn in butter, sugar or salt, it’s a low calorie and highly filling snack!

3) Carrots & Hummus

Carrots are another snack that are low in calories but filling. They’re a good source of potassium and fibre to the body, which helps slow down the digestive system and give the body a steadier supply of nutrients. Why not make your carrots a bit more interesting and pair with hummus? Hummus provides runners with iron and protein, which is essential for the body. 

4) Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is absolutely packed with protein, which helps runners by boosting muscle rebuilding and repair. It’s also a good source of calcium, which can help reduce the chances of bone injury.

5) Dates

Dates are a common snack for runners. They’re naturally very sweet and like the other snacks on the list, provide a lot of carbohydrates and protein with relatively low calories. Dates pair well with nuts, which are another good source of protein.

6) Hard-Boiled Eggs

Eggs are incredibly nutritional, and provide high amounts of protein, riboflavin and biotin. They’re very easy to make in bulk and serve as a highly nutritious meal on the go. 

Photo by Rachael Gorjestani on Unsplash

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Taking Care of your Mental Health and Wellbeing

Taking Care of your Mental Health and Wellbeing

In times like this, being asked to stay at home and avoid other people can be daunting and it might feel quite difficult to manage your mental health and wellbeing.  

It is going to feel like a difficult time and will feel harder than usual to look after yourself, but we have put together a few ideas that may help:

1.    Create a Regular Routine – Write out a schedule or plan to follow which you can easily access and see every day. Try to follow your usual routine as much as possible. Get up early, continue with your normal morning routine and go to sleep at your usual time.

2.     Plan for Working at Home – If you can, set up a workspace with everything you need and take regular breaks in a different area of your home for a change of scene.

3.     Keep Busy – Try and find ways to spend your time. Have that clear out that you’ve been putting off for months or a spring clean to organise your belongings. You could also use this time to contact loved ones who you’ve been meaning to catch up.

4.     Keep Active – Try to include exercise into your daily routine. Many of us don’t have equipment at home but why not get creative and find things you could use as alternatives? There are also lots of resources online with exercise workouts you can follow.

5.     Coping with Anxiety and Claustrophobia – Try and find safe zones in your homes and work on breathing exercises. Open your windows, sit in your garden, try and get some fresh air. Regularly change the rooms you’re spending time in. 

If you’re looking for more advice on how to take care of your mental health and wellbeing during this time there are a number of charities that are offering advice at this time:

SAMH – https://www.samh.org.uk/about-mental-health/self-help-and-wellbeing/coronavirus-and-your-mental-wellbeing

MIND – https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/#collapse816a3

Young Minds – https://youngminds.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/youngminds-publishes-advice-for-young-people-and-parents-on-mental-health-impact-of-coronavirus/

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Mum & 4 Month Old Daughter Tackling Supernova Kelpies in Memory of Mountaneering Grandpa

Mum & 4 Month Old Daughter Tackling Supernova Kelpies in Memory of Mountaneering Grandpa

Lynn Robertson & her four month old daughter Callie will be tackling the Supernova Kelpies 5K in March. They will be taking on the challenge in aid of Scottish Mountain Rescue and in memory of mountaineering dad & grandpa, Jim.

On Monday 29th February 2016, just days before his 61st birthday, Jim Robertson travelled from his home in Glasgow to Braemar, Aberdeenshire, for a 5 day expedition. The experienced hillwalker, who had previously climbed all 284 munros in Scotland, set up camp at Bob Scott’s Bothy and planned to explore the Cairngorms.

However, when Jim didn’t return home for his birthday on Friday as planned, his family began to worry.

“We couldn’t reach him on his mobile. We thought that maybe he was just exhausted from his trip so my brother and I went to his flat, but it was clear that he hadn’t been home.  At this point, we realised that something was seriously wrong and went straight to the police station to report him missing” Lynn said.

Unfortunately, weather conditions in the area were extremely treacherous at the time and Lynn and her family were told that the police would be unable to send officers out to search for him. Desperate for help, Lynn sought the support of Braemar Mountain Rescue, a small team of around 40 volunteers based in the Cairngorms. 

“I couldn’t find any contact numbers for Mountain Rescue online, so I sent the Braemar team a private message on Facebook. They assured me that their search for my dad was already underway.”

As the search began, Lynn and her family were taken aback by the magnitude of the rescue effort.

“The search involved more than 80 volunteers from Scottish Mountain Rescue teams, Search and Rescue Dogs, Police Scotland and a Coastguard helicopter. The area the teams were covering was so incredibly vast.”

Unfortunately as time progressed, Matt, the leader of the search operation, made the family aware that the likelihood of bad news was increasing with every moment. 

“Matt kept us informed of each and every step, and gave us every reason to put all of our trust in him and his team. As the days passed, he even helped us to accept that it was no longer going to be a rescue but a recovery.”

During a visit to the rescue centre, one of the volunteers offered to take the family to the Bothy where Jim had based himself, giving them the chance to understand the severe winter conditions that he had been caught up in. 

“While we were out there, there were teams on the hills risking their lives for my dad. We were truly overwhelmed by their selflessness and compassion.”

The search continued for three months until Jim’s body was found at Creag a’choire Erchachan by another hillwalker. The Braemar team were on hand to carry out the recovery, but their support of the family didn’t end there.

“Two members of the team travelled all the way to Glasgow to attend my dad’s funeral. Later, they took my family and I out to the exact spot where my dad had been found so that we could scatter some of his ashes there.”

Lynn and her family were blown away by the support they received from the teams, and Lynn was determined to give back to the organisation in any way she could.

“My family and I will never forget the commitment we were shown by the Mountain Rescue Volunteers and all that they did for us. Supporting Mountain Rescue became a very important part of my life and I’ve since taken part in many fundraising events.”

Lynn will be taking on the Supernova Kelpies 5K in March with four month old daughter Callie, and is looking forward to sharing the experience with her.  

“The Supernova 5K is going to be extra special for me because it is the first event that my daughter will be a part of, and where I get to share her late Grandpa’s love of walking. Although my dad never got to meet Callie, I know he would be so very proud of her!”

“My dad had actually gone walking round the Kelpies not too long before he died, and he told us what a great day out it was. With the event being in March, it really is the perfect way for us to mark his anniversary.”

You can donate to Lynn’s cause by visiting her JustGiving page below.Lynn & Callie’s JustGiving PageThe Supernova Kelpies series takes place on 20th-22nd March and attracts thousands of runners to light up the night as they take on 5K around Helix Park & The Kelpies. Find Out More & Enter

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BRAVE MUM TACKLES SUPERNOVA KELPIES IN SON’S MEMORY

BRAVE MUM TACKLES SUPERNOVA KELPIES IN SON’S MEMORY

Abbey MacFarlane will be taking on the Supernova Kelpies 5K in March in aid of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that took such amazing care of her during the lowest time of her life.

On 8th of October 2019, Abbey gave birth to her first son, Andrew Thomas Maxwell. Andrew was delivered by emergency c-section at just 34 weeks as doctors became concerned with his reduced movements. Within a few hours, Andrew was rushed from Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, to The Royal Hospital for Children, due to issues with his breathing. 

After what they’d thought had been a relatively straightforward pregnancy, and with no health issues of their own, Abbey and her fiancé were confused and distressed as Andrew’s condition failed to improve.

“Looking back now there were a few red flags before Andrew was born, but the first time we really knew things were bad was when he was around 10 days old. They had taken him off sedation and he still wouldn’t open his eyes. A stretch or a sneeze every few hours in between seizures was as active he got.” Abbey said.

Over the course of the next few days, doctors tried desperately to help Andrew but a diagnosis was proving difficult to come by. As the days passed and no solution was forthcoming, things soon took a turn for the worse and Andrew’s condition deteriorated further.

“On day 21 he went from a peaceful, sleeping baby to fighting against his breathing machine and became very distressed. He still hadn’t even opened his eyes.”

Tragically it became clear to Abbey and her fiancé that there was to be no light at the end of the tunnel. They were faced with the worst decision that any parents could have to make.

“My partner and I had to make the decision that no one ever wants to be faced with – to remove life support for their child. We agreed that, given Andrew was in pain and would never get any better, that the most humane thing would be to let him go peacefully. He died on the 30th October 2019 in his daddy’s arms due to a currently unknown, extremely rare genetic condition”.

Three months on from Andrew’s passing, Abbey remains in the dark about the condition that took her son.

“We are still waiting for even more genetic results. So far all the metabolic, genetic and other tests have come back clear- much to the surprise of the consultants. They have now been sent for special tests at GOSH in London to see if there was a structural error with his DNA.”

Throughout her time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Glasgow Children’s Hospital, Abbey was taken aback by the compassion and care she received.

“The care we received from the moment we arrived until even after he had passed, was beyond amazing. For example, Laura who was his nurse for the first 3 nights, called in on her days off to see how he was getting on, and Sayeed who looked after him for his final few days and while he passed away, could not have been any more attentive to us.”

Abbey is now determined to give something back and will be taking on the Supernova Kelpies 5K run in March.
 

“I’ve never done any sort of running apart from 10 minutes on a treadmill since I left school, but I really wanted to do something in Andrew’s memory. I’ve downloaded the Couch 2 5k app on my phone and I’m currently on Week 3. I’m surprised I made it this far, but I am absolutely loving it! I would definitely recommend it.”

“I’m most looking forward to wearing my GCHC running top. I know it will feel amazing crossing the finishing line knowing that the money raised will go to them and all the sick children in Scotland!”

You can donate to Abbey’s cause below.Abbey’s JustGiving PageThe Supernova Kelpies series takes place on 20th-22nd March and attracts thousands of runners to light up the night as they take on 5K around Helix Park & The Kelpies.Find out more & enter!

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Team Martin & Co Stirling taking on Supernova Kelpies to raise funds for Strathcarron Hospice!

Team Martin & Co Stirling taking on Supernova Kelpies to raise funds for Strathcarron Hospice!

The Stirling branch of Martin & Co Stirling are galloping into 2020 by tackling the Supernova Kelpies run in March in aid of Strathcarron Hospice! 

Sales Manager Tracey Horton said: “The event will be a big challenge for most of us, but we’re really looking forward to training together and having fun whilst doing it.”

In preparation for the big day the group have been walking together and have even bought an under the desk cycle trainer for the office! Only two members of the ten-person team have run before.

The team are raising money for Strathcarron Hospice, a charity close to the hearts of everyone at Martin & Co Stirling. Every year, Strathcarron provides care and support to over 1400 people with a life-limiting illness or condition, at a time when both they and their family need it most.

With their office just across the road from a Strathcarron Hospice shop, they see first hand the hard work and commitment of everyone involved with the charity in providing palliative care to the people of Forth Valley, Cumbernauld and Kilsyth.

“The charity works hard every day to care for those with terminal illness. Unfortunately this has affected most of our family members recently. They need to raise over £12k every year to provide the amazing service they offer.” Tracey said.

Tracey and her team have already held a Charity Christmas Jumper Day, and plan on running a few more events to help their chosen charity. 

If you’d like to read more & donate, check out Tracey’s JustGiving page 👇Tracey’s JustGiving PageDo you have a group who are looking to take part in Supernova Kelpies on Friday 20th, Saturday 21st & Sunday 22nd March? If so, entries are open now, click below for more information!Supernova Kelpies

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New Year New You? Try a vegan sweet potato satay curry

Vegan Sweet Potato Satay Curry

It’s the 80s, Arnold Schwarzenegger is appearing in every second film, big hair is everywhere, alongside brightly coloured clothes and soda streams. The word ‘vegan’ doesn’t even enter the vocabulary for 99% of the population. Oh how times change…

Fast forward 30 years and the rise of the plant-based diet is in full swing. Schwarzenegger appears in “The Game Changers” documentary telling the world he no longer eats meat and that a vegan diet is the way forward for high performance. “It’s marketing,” he says of the long-held connection between protein and poultry.

The documentary was released on Netflix in September and its trailer has been watched over 10 million times on YouTube. Although it’s divided the opinion of many (one of the film’s producers – Hollywood director James Cameron is the CEO of Verdient Foods, an organic pea protein company, leading some to suggest there may be a commercial interest element behind it) it has contributed to a huge rise in the number of people trying out a plant-based diet for the first time.

So, whether you think it’s all a load of rubbish, or you’re willing to give meat-free Mondays a try, here’s our favourite game-changing vegan recipe below:

Vegan satay sweet potato curry

Prep: 15mins

Cook: 45mins

Ingredients:
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, grated
thumb-sized piece ginger, grated
3 tbsp Thai red curry paste (check the label to make sure it’s vegan)
1 tbsp smooth peanut butter
500g sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
400ml can coconut milk
200g bag spinach
1 lime, juiced
cooked rice, to serve (optional)
dry roasted peanuts, to serve (optional)

Method:

Melt 1 tbsp coconut oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and soften 1 chopped onion for 5 mins. Add 2 grated garlic cloves and a grated thumb-sized piece of ginger, and cook for 1 min until fragrant.

Stir in 3 tbsp Thai red curry paste, 1 tbsp smooth peanut butter and 500g sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks, then add 400ml coconut milk and 200ml water.

Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 25-30 mins or until the sweet potato is soft.

Stir through 200g spinach and the juice of 1 lime, and season well. Serve with cooked rice, and if you want some crunch, sprinkle over a few dry roasted peanuts.

Photo by Eiliv-Sonas Aceron on Unsplash

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Six Summer Running Tips

SIX SUMMER RUNNING TIPS

With the sun making a more regular appearance and the weather hotting up, summer is a fantastic time to enjoy running in the great outdoors as well as clocking up valuable training for any runs you have coming up later in the year (Supernova 5K anyone?). Check our 6 top tips to make those summer day runs as comfortable as possible.

1- Stay cool
Enjoy those longer summer days while you can and plan your runs in the mornings or evenings during the coolest parts of the day. There’s also something quite spectacular about chasing the sun at sunrise or sunset.

2- Quench your thirst
Staying hydrated before, during and after your runs is even more important on warmer days. Try drinking around 200ml every hour before your run to set you up for success. Water or a sports drink are good choices and you could also bring supplies along with you on your run in a water belt or pouch. Aim to ensure you have fluids after you finish too!

3- Loosen up
One of the simplest things you can do to keep cool during summer run is to opt for outfits that are lightly coloured and loose-fitting as well as avoiding attire that is too tight and instead lets your body breathe and feel the breeze.

4- Slap on the suncream
We all know the dangers of the sun’s rays and if you’re spending more time outdoors running it’s important to keep your skin protected, even when out during colder spells of the day. Choose an SPF 30 and you’re onto a winner.

5- Rest and refresh
Try adding one-minute walk breaks every five minutes when you run on hot days to help keep your body cool. As you feel yourself getting fitter and faster just shorten or skip the rests.

6- Give yourself headroom
You lose a lot of body heat through your head, which is a good thing during the summer months. Don’t cover up with cosy headwear instead choose a more breathable alternative such as a visor or mesh cap to keep your noggin’ happy.

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Mental Health Benefits of Running

MENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS OF RUNNING

Apart from the obvious health benefits that running or jogging can give you, it can provide many psychological advantages too. No matter your circumstance, running can help ease your mind and get you back on the right track. Here are some positive changes that running can bring to you:

1. Stress Reliever
Whatever you are stressing about, getting active can significantly reduce this. Lacing up your trainers can help with relaxation, anxiety and negative thinking cycles. Running can help your body control stress and deal with existing mental tension. Long distance runs can help you solve problems that have been nagging you. Whilst shorter speed runs can reduce aggression and tension. Make running your new friend.

2. Your new sleeping pill
Nobody wants to be tossing and turning in bed late at night. Indulging in physical exercise, whether that is running or another form, can be your new way of counting sheep at night. Moderate exercise can also significantly improve the sleep of insomnia sufferers.

3. Decreases depression
Running can be a fantastic way of combatting that sluggish and withdrawn feeling that is associated with depression. Regular exercise can boost your mood if you have depression, and it’s especially useful for people with mild to moderate depression. Running can take your mind off worries so you can get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety.

4. Self-esteem boost
If you’re suffering from low self-esteem in adulthood, go for a run and watch your confidence soar. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins, natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being. Exercising in the great outdoors can also result in lowered blood pressure and increased self-esteem. Get your running shoes on and watch your confidence soar.

5. Increased creativity
An invigorating run can boost creativity for up to two hours afterwards. Next time you find yourself staring at a blank page waiting for a genius idea to pop into your head, get those legs moving and refresh your body and brain at the same time by going on a jog.

So the next time you’re having a bad day or you want that extra hour in bed, remember all the benefits your body will enjoy from getting active.

Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 116 123.
CALM, an anonymous helpline for men is open 7 days a week, 5pm to midnight. 0800 58 58 58.

It’s okay not to be okay. Let’s keep talking.

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