Exercise & Healthy Eating
Sarah Hart Insights into Exercise and Healthy Eating
This month Sarah Hart shares with us insights into her running and training, the health benefits of exercise and why she utilises training as the ultimate wellbeing tool. She also tells us about her nutrition practices and provides us with some valuable take home advice around training.
Sarah is an athlete, runner and co-founder/Brand & Marketing Director of The Movement Blueprint – a global online platform supporting people around the world with their health and fitness goals. You can check out her Instagram profile by visiting @healthy_harty, or @themovementblueprint for plenty of free fitness advice/available training programmes.
How did you first get into running and training?
From a young age I’ve always been athletic – I started dance aged 3 continuing up until I was 20, and I participated in netball, hockey, rounders and cross country throughout my school life! An active lifestyle has always been a happy one for me. I found the gym when I was around 15/16 – driven by a pursuit to improve my fitness. When I look back, my relationship with exercise then compared with how it is now has completely changed. Back then, I was on a purely aesthetic journey – desperate to look leaner and looking up to all the wrong public figures. I tried restrictive diets and didn’t find too much happiness there – only hunger! Despite training in a gym for over 10+ years, I’d say it is only in the last few years that I feel I have a real understanding of fitness and performance. Whilst I loved the camaraderie and energy in the weekly HIIT classes I went to for years, I never really progressed as I’d usually be battling with knee or lower back pain every few weeks..
I found running from a slightly younger age – unlike many I enjoyed cross country at school! I participated in a number of 5kms and 10kms, before building up to my first half marathon and full marathon in 2017.
Whilst elated with the achievement of completing my first marathon, the knee pain I experienced in the last 6 miles was unbearable! My knee had been an issue for as long as I can remember – I’d seen countless physios and even had surgery, but never really got to the cause of the problem. As such, training for the marathon had been hit and miss – on a good day I’d run 15km without pain, on others I’d run 3km and have to call it day. Needless to say, the frustration mounted over the years.
Fast forward to my late 20s (and meeting my boyfriend – a PT/corrective exercise specialist) and my training completely transformed. I stopped HIIT classes, I incorporated mobility training, I did extensive rehab/prehab for my knee, I re-built my strength from the ground up and I did high intensity work that was designed around my own needs – not a class of 20-30. That’s when the shift happened, and the enjoyment factor rocketed.
I remember some of the early days into my newly revamped training – a session at the track that I had to cut short made me feel my knee was never going to allow me to enjoy running how I wanted to. A lot of perseverance and a big dose of encouragement, and things started to change. I built things up, learnt when to pull back and how to optimise everything around what I did in the gym. Enlisting a sports massage therapist was also extremely valuable in my progression. I now train and run pain-free, I follow a structured training plan that benefits my running performance as well as my strength training goals, and I make time for the ‘slower stuff’ that I know unravels me from my desk job.
For anyone in a similar situation, I can’t express enough how mobility and strength training offered a small miracle for my ongoing knee problems! For so many years the focus had been around my knee specifically, but as soon as a more global approach was taken and weaknesses and imbalances were addressed across my body as a whole, the pain gradually became less and less, until finally I felt I’d rid the issue completely. Now, if I ever neglect specific aspects of my training, I will feel little niggles from time to time, but once I reintroduce mobility, strength and release work, they disappear. I find it’s the same sitting at my desk – if I don’t incorporate specific mobility drills throughout the week, my lower back has a meltdown.
My biggest piece of advice is to find a daily routine that’s easy and you can stick to wherever you are, and you definitely won’t regret it!
Tell us more about your job
Whenever I talk about my career or what I’m passionate about, I like to refer to it as ‘creative organising’! Every day is different which I absolutely love, but ultimately my job role blends creative marketing, business management and organisation level 100.
I graduated the University of Chester with a first-class degree in Business and Events Management and went on to work in various roles across marketing, business management and talent management. I spent 3 years working for one of leading integrated management agencies for clients across sport, music and entertainment – the demand and pressure was incredibly high, but it completely shaped my work ethic. With a desire to move more towards the health and fitness industry, I went on to work in a brand and marketing management role for a protein drinks company – a role I hugely enjoyed and learnt so much from. A couple of years on, and I was ready for something more. I took the plunge to dive headfirst into becoming a Director of The Movement Blueprint Ltd – a company I helped co-found with my partner Harvey Lawton. With his extensive knowledge across all facets of sport, injury rehabilitation, corrective exercise and training performance, coupled with my own 10+ year career in business and marketing, we were driven to create a platform that would add value to people worldwide.
This month, The Movement Blueprint (or MBP) turned 2 years old! It has been an incredible journey so far and one I feel grateful for daily. Working for yourself doesn’t come without its stresses, pressures or long hours, but the opportunity to support people globally to overcome injuries, train for races, build life-changing confidence and surpass their performance goals is incomparable. We offer a range of training programmes, each with our signature ‘corrective performance’ ethos – these span across mobility, strength, conditioning, running and cycling! During lockdown, our MBP At Home programme supported (and still continues to) so many people in maintaining their training in the confinements of their house or garden with minimal equipment.
As a brand we work with a number of incredible brand partners including Lululemon, Fresh Fitness Food, Whoop, Pure Sport CBD, Giant Bicycles and Ultra X to name a few. We deliver online training sessions for corporates, we provide valuable strength training content to retail brands, we deliver in-house education workshops for gyms including facilities like Virgin Active and we are regular contributors for a host of leading magazines featuring in the pages of Men’s Fitness, Runner’s World, GQ and Metro. 2020 also saw the launch of our education division, offering mentorship for coaches and trainers across all facets of coaching and business. The fitness industry is an ever-evolving place to work, but with so much in development, we’re excited for what’s to come!
Talk to us about the health benefits of training?
For me personally, running and training are so much more than just physical exercise. Over lockdown, both have played such a pivotal role in my mental wellbeing – I find them such a powerful tool to clear my mind, gain perspective and switch off from uncertainty around me. The saying movement is medicine could not be more true. For me, running breeds passion, health and adventure. It takes me on new paths and trails and connects me with communities. It forms an invaluable outlet for my physical and mental health, and most importantly, makes me feel good! Training is no different. Exercise not only helps improve the cardiovascular system but can also be used as a tool to build physical and mental resilience. In addition, mobilising your joints regularly – particularly if your day-to-day is fairly sedentary – is pivotal to enjoying a happy and pain-free life outside of the gym too!
Training (the right way) = longevity.
Tell us about your nutrition – any recommended supplements or favourite snacks?
Nutrition is another area I have hugely upskilled myself on over last few years. I now eat to fuel my training and recovery, rather than focusing on limiting calories. I’ve learnt a lot about how my body reacts to certain foods, what it thrives on and what I need to make a conscious effort to consume more of. In terms of supplements, I take a multi-vitamin daily to assist with my general health, as well as glucosamine because of the research around improved cartilage and joint health. Otherwise I rely on my food intake for nutrients – lots of veggies and good sources of protein. I also stopped drinking alcohol a couple of years ago too – I always hugely felt the effects on my mind and body after even a few drinks and always resented having to spend a few days to get ‘back’ to where I was after working pretty hard.
For me, getting up and feeling fresh and alert every day of the week now gives me far greater pleasure. I do think there still remains a pressure of people feeling they have to drink in social situations to be ‘fun’, which I completely disagree with. With the right people and a good atmosphere, I don’t think it matters what’s in your glass – but of course that’s just personal opinion!
Snacks? – ooh lots! Depending on the time of day, I love a bag of BBQ flavour pop chips, Boostball Keto Raw Choc Brownie Bites, or a bowl of Greek yoghurt, berries and a squeeze of Boostball nut butter!
By Sarah Hart, Fitness Coach
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