Five foundations of health
Foundation of health one: Sleep
Sleep is important because it provides an opportunity for our body and brain to rest and regenerate. We need it to recover from the stresses of the day especially when we have been very physically active.
Three main tips to improve sleep:
- Decrease screens and bright lights 30 minutes before going to sleep. This will naturally begin to prepare your body for bed.
- Limit caffeine after 2.00pm. Caffeine has a half-life of nine hours which means 50% of the caffeine will still be circulating in your blood nine hours later.
- Try to keep your wake and sleep the same each day. This will enable your body to naturally wake and feel sleepy at the same time each morning and night.
Foundation of health two: Nutrition
We need to have a good basis of nutrition to keep us healthy and to provide us with energy for life. We also need fuel to give us energy for anything physical we want to do including running.
Three main tips to improve nutrition:
- Focus on the quality of your food. Single-ingredient, nutrient-dense foods will help provide your body with the energy, vitamins and minerals it needs. Try to avoid processed food where possible.
- Take an 80/20 approach to nutrition. 80% of the food should be high-quality, nutrient-dense foods. 20% can be less nutrient-dense foods that you enjoy.
- Include carbohydrates around your run and activity. Carbs will be your main fuel source so make sure you include them in your meals pre and post-run. This will make sure you have fuel for the run and will help recovery.
Foundation of health three: Hydration
Humans are 70% water therefore on a cellular level we need to be hydrated in order to function well. Being hydrated will also have a positive effect on your running performance.
Three main tips to improve hydration:
- Focus on getting two to three litres of fluid per day. That is through all forms of liquid intake.
- Be aware of the caffeine you intake in fluids and try to balance it. For every caffeinated drink try to have a non-caffeinated drink too, to minimise dehydration.
- Try to get hydrated ahead of a run. Make sure before you run (two to three hours at least) you are focusing on increasing your fluid intake so you go into your run already hydrated.
Foundation of health four: Breathwork
Breath can be used as a tool to help our performance and also help control our emotions.
For this technique:
- Control and slow your breathing (try to just breathe through the nose if possible).
- Match your inhales and exhales. I would start with three to five seconds per inhale/exhale.
- As you become more familiar with this technique then you can extend them. I would focus on doing this for 6-10 rounds depending on time and how comfortable you find it.
Whenever you are experiencing feelings of stress, fear, anxiety or overwhelm then you can use this breath work tool to help control this and feel calmer.
Foundation of health five: Screen time
Screen time refers to any amount of time you spend on a screen that produces artificial light. Although sometimes it is necessary such as work and communicating but spending too much unnecessary time on screens can be detrimental to our health and our productivity.
Three tips to help limit our screen time:
- Try to limit or remove screens 30 minutes before bed. This will reduce the amount of bright light we are exposed to which in turn will help us get to sleep faster.
- Become aware of how much we are using our phones. You should be able to access how much you are on your phone in your settings. Beginning to have an understanding of how much time we spend on them is the first step to changing our behaviour if needed.
- Practice intent when using our screens. Making sure you are focused on the task you are using your screen for is important. It will allow us to minimise the time that is lost or getting distracted.