How to avoid fatigue during training

Glass of water plus jug

Your daily intake will have a big impact on how you feel. With­out a proper, bal­anced diet you can start to feel slug­gish and are likely to become fatigued– so ensure that you eat healthy meals at the cor­rect times as well as fuel­ing before, dur­ing and after your workouts.

Poor hydra­tion can adversely affect your men­tal as well as your phys­i­cal per­for­mance. Stay­ing hydrated helps pre­vent tired­ness as well as lower your risk of injury. Have a water bot­tle within arm’s reach at all times.

To avoid tired­ness ensure you get enough sleep. Your body needs sleep to recharge and allow you to con­tinue with your train­ing sched­ule as well as repair and rebuild your muscles.

Caf­feine can cause rest­less­ness and sleep­ing dif­fi­cul­ties. Cut­ting down on the amount of caf­feine you drink in the evening will help avoid a rest­less night’s sleep.

Stress is one of the most com­mon rea­sons for feel­ing tired — so the most impor­tant thing to do is iden­tify what is caus­ing your stress in the first place. Tak­ing a few days off or using dif­fer­ent mus­cle groups, can make a big dif­fer­ence to your over­all energy levels.

Fatigue is usu­ally a tem­po­rary sit­u­a­tion brought on by over­do­ing it on a par­tic­u­lar day or group of days. Good lifestyle choices that include a healthy diet, exer­cise, and sleep man­age­ment should elim­i­nate long-term tired­ness, but if fatigue per­sists then seek advice from your doctor.

Exercise & Nutrition Workshop

This past week I was asked to deliver a work­shop on Exer­cise & Nutri­tion for teach­ers of SICCDA’s After­school Pro­grammes which pro­vide daily after­school child­care to approx­i­mately 150 chil­dren liv­ing in the Lib­er­ties area of Dublin 8.

picture of woman's feet walking

Their pro­grammes pro­vide par­tic­i­pants with home­work sup­port, nutri­tious snacks and enrich­ing extra-curricular activ­i­ties in a warm, car­ing, child-centred envi­ron­ment. Camps dur­ing school hol­i­days pro­vide par­tic­i­pants with fun, mean­ing­ful activ­i­ties which pro­vide con­ti­nu­ity for chil­dren, and facil­i­tate child­care needs.

The six­teen teach­ers who attended my work­shop oper­ated from the fol­low­ing schools;

  • Scoil San Sea­mus CBS, Basin Lane
  • St Enda’s National School, White­friar Street
  • Fran­cis Street CBS, Fran­cis Street
  • War­ren­mount Pri­mary School
  • Scoil Treasa Naofa

It was a very pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence engag­ing with the teach­ers over the course of the day. They found learn­ing about the METs very inter­est­ing. All teach­ers took part in doing a fit­ness eval­u­a­tion (1 mile walk) to see how their own fit­ness level mea­sured up to the guide­lines for pre­ven­tion of dis­ease. The sun was shin­ing as we walked along the canal from Basin Lane to Rialto Bridge; all com­plet­ing the course within 14 to18 min­utes. So if see a large group of chil­dren walk­ing briskly along the canal over the com­ing weeks you’ll know teach­ers are mea­sur­ing their METs.

Changing our exercise routine

It’s a good idea to change your exer­cise rou­tines because your mus­cles get bored with the same repet­i­tive exercises.

As an ath­lete I’ve spent a great num­ber of hours run­ning.  One of the key ele­ments to my train­ing is keep­ing a vari­ety to work­outs.  When trav­el­ling I gen­er­ally stay at hotels that accom­mo­date a gym.  Not that I use the gym on every occa­sion but I like the idea of hav­ing the choice.

Marie in Co.Clare small

Check­ing out the weights in my hotel.

I recently trav­elled to Co. Clare and while I spent most of my time out­doors sight­see­ing I did avail of the gym in the evening.  I changed my mode of exer­cise to the Stair Climber machine, and decreased the dura­tion which allowed increas­ing my intensity.

I fol­lowed the climber by doing free weights, a shorter ver­sion of my reg­u­lar rou­tine fin­ish­ing off with light stretch­ing before head­ing to relax in the Jacuzzi.

By chang­ing things up, you stim­u­late mus­cle growth. Mus­cles get jump-started by new rou­tines and you’ll see dif­fer­ences immediately.


You dis­cover an entire range of new exer­cises when you change your rou­tine, which also keeps you from get­ting bored.With the Easter break here take the oppor­tu­nity to change your exer­cise rou­tine and feel the benefits!

Working Towards a Healthier Diet

When it comes to eat­ing healthy, los­ing weight or main­tain­ing your cur­rent weight, you are more likely to be suc­cess­ful if you make small changes over time rather than chang­ing your entire diet all at once. The long term goal is to feel good, have more energy, and reduce the risk of can­cer and dis­ease.  Here are a few sim­ple changes you can do to work towards a health­ier diet.

Start Your Day with a Good Breakfast

A nutri­tious break­fast gets you fuelled for the day and helps pre­vent you from bing­ing later in the day. Easy-to-prepare break­fasts include cold cereal with fruit and low-fat milk, whole-wheat toast with scram­bled eggs, yogurt with fruit, or por­ridge with raisins.

Eat Plenty of Whole Grains, Fruits & Veg­eta­bles Red and Green Apples
Try brown rice instead of white rice and whole wheat pasta instead of reg­u­lar pasta. Aim for five serv­ings of fruits and veg­eta­bles each day.  A cup of salad counts as one veg­etable, so try eat­ing a salad with either lunch or din­ner (choose low-calorie, low-fat or fat free dress­ing options).

Stay Hydrated Through­out Your Day

A reg­u­lar fluid intake from our daily diet is cru­cial to main­tain good health.  Even if your goal is to lose weight, los­ing it through dehy­dra­tion isn’t the way to go. Your body needs flu­ids to func­tion and dehy­dra­tion leads to other health prob­lems. The aver­age per­son needs to drink about 2L (8 glasses) of water a day. Keep in mind if you drink cof­fee (or other heav­ily caf­feinated drinks such as Coca-Cola or Pepsi) you should add an extra glass of water for every glass you have.

Choose Lean Cuts of Meat and Poultry

For poul­try, the lean­est choice is white meat from skin­less breast of chicken or turkey. If choos­ing beef, look for sir­loin, ten­der­loin or round and if opt­ing for pork try ten­der­loin or loin chops.

Try Lower– Calorie/Fat Ver­sions of Your Favourite Foods

Don’t assume that you have to give up your favourite food like mash pota­toes, when you’re try­ing to eat health­ier or lose weight. As an alter­na­tive use lower-calorie ingre­di­ents or pre­pare it dif­fer­ently. For exam­ple, if your mash pota­toes use whole milk and but­ter try remak­ing it with skim milk and a reduced serv­ing of butter.

Watch Your Por­tion Sizes

Stan­dard por­tion sizes may actu­ally be smaller than you think. For exam­ple, one serv­ing size of pasta or rice is equal to one half-cup and four ounces of meat is about the size of a deck of cards.  Putting smaller amounts of food on your plate or using smaller plates is help­ful (the more food in front of you, the more likely you are to eat it because it’s there).

Keep Healthy Snacks on Hand

It’s impor­tant to make healthy snacks avail­able, espe­cially when you’re at work, have a busy sched­ule or exer­cis­ing. Keep­ing healthy snacks, such as fruits, veg­gies, gra­nola, or low-fat yogurt, on hand will pre­vent you from head­ing to the vend­ing machine or fast food restau­rant for an unhealthy snack.    

10 Minute Fitness Workout

Get mov­ing with this 10 minute workout

Are you look­ing to ease into get­ting in shape? This 10 minute resis­tance train­ing rou­tine can start you on the path to bet­ter health. But before start­ing this train­ing plan, talk with your doc­tor if you’ve been seden­tary for a long time or you have seri­ous health issues.

The 10 exer­cises below (5 upper & 5 lower body) are an intro­duc­tion to the Mur­phy (MET’s) Pro­gramme. When start­ing this train­ing plan you first need to learn the proper tech­nique for each exer­cise. Choose weights that are light enough that you can lift 10 rep­e­ti­tions for each exer­cise (exam­ple 500ml water bot­tles or 2 cans of Heinz soup).

The first 3–6 weeks you are con­di­tion­ing your body, work­ing on bring­ing each mus­cle group through their full range of motion. Again you are mas­ter­ing the proper tech­nique for each exer­cise. No weights are applied while you are learn­ing the lower body rou­tine.
For best results, try to do this train­ing plan twice a week.

For more infor­ma­tion on the Mur­phy (METs) Pro­gramme please see here or call the Irish Osteo­poro­sis Soci­ety 01 6375050 to sched­ule a con­sul­ta­tion with Marie Murphy.

MMP 10 Minute Workout

Older woman holding weights


Resistance Training after Breast Cancer Treatment

Hav­ing a bal­anced body in which our two halves are sym­met­ri­cal is the goal in resis­tance train­ing and even more so after breast can­cer treat­ment. The more sym­met­ri­cal we are the more effi­cient and easy our move­ments become which means less wear and tear is exerted on our bod­ies and we feel bet­ter because we are balanced.

A sym­met­ri­cal body is also less prone to injury.  A par­tic­u­lar mus­cle group will be less likely to com­pen­sate for a weaker mus­cle group, thus over­bur­den­ing that mus­cle group while fur­ther weak­en­ing and poten­tially injur­ing, the under-developed mus­cle group, if the weaker mus­cle group is bal­anced with the stronger grouping.

Breast can­cer sur­vivors can find them­selves out of bal­ance.  In many cases their pec­toralis (chest mus­cle) and latis­simus dorsi (back mus­cle) have been inter­fered with through radi­a­tion, treat­ment and surgery.  If the imbal­ance is not cor­rected or improved upon it may cause more prob­lems down the road along with the added risk and/or side effect of lym­phoedema. In addi­tion, the appro­pri­ate ratio of both strength and flex­i­bil­ity in oppos­ing mus­cle groups is of vital impor­tance to a breast can­cer survivor.

The best cure for the asym­met­ri­cal body is doing pro­gres­sive resis­tance train­ing using dumb­bells, to be sure that each limb is doing its equal share of work.  Dumb­bell exer­cises allow you to work each major mus­cle indi­vid­u­ally so that the stronger one can’t pick up the slack.  When train­ing with dumb­bells a breast can­cer sur­vivor will put their con­cen­tra­tion on the weaker arm and the weaker arm will lead the exer­cise. Free weights (dumb­bells) will allow a greater adap­ta­tion to train­ing and lower the risk of injury due to you con­trol­ling the weight and not the weight con­trol­ling you.

Devel­op­ing a sym­met­ri­cal body entails focus­ing on all mus­cle groups equally through the work of a vari­ety of exer­cises. The Mur­phy (METs) Pro­gramme uses all ten major mus­cles of the upper body; pec­toralis major & minor, latis­simus dorsi, bra­chio­ra­di­alis biceps, tri­ceps, ante­rior del­toids, medial & pos­te­rior del­toids, trapez­ius upper & lower and obliques.  Empha­sis is placed on devel­op­ing a bal­anced physique.

The great­est ben­e­fits in doing resis­tance train­ing with dumb­bells is that the weight is divided into each hand sep­a­rately so that the weaker arm has no choice but to lift, pull or push the weight that is selected for each spe­cific exer­cise. Breast can­cer sur­vivors who lifts weights by using gym equip­ment, machine, bar­bell, pul­ley etc. and not free weights (dumb­bells); will find that the good arm will com­pen­sate for the weaker arm because they are hold­ing, pulling, push­ing the resis­tance with both hands. The indi­vid­ual who chooses this tech­nique of train­ing will not real­ize they are favour­ing one side over the other and may be at a greater risk of injury.

I have com­pleted three stud­ies for breast can­cer sur­vivors.  All women started their pro­gramme lift­ing either 500ml water bot­tles or 1kg dumb­bell weights (work­ing the ten major mus­cles of the upper body). They did two sets of ten rep­e­ti­tions for each exer­cise, pro­gress­ing to 20 rep­e­ti­tions and lifted a vol­ume of 160kg at the start of their pro­gramme pro­gress­ing to over 1800kg at the end of their pro­gramme.  The for­mat of the Mur­phy (METs) Pro­gramme allows the indi­vid­ual to safely work towards bring­ing all mus­cle groups into line.  When this is done, sym­me­try is achieved.

Note: The Mur­phy (METs) Pro­gramme: The Irish Expe­ri­ence of Deliv­er­ing Phys­i­cal Activ­ity for Can­cer Sur­vivors was acknowl­edged by the Amer­i­can Insti­tute of Can­cer Research (AICR) 2012.

Sports Nutrition: Optimize Your Performance

Over the past 20 years, research has clearly doc­u­mented the ben­e­fi­cial effect of nutri­tion on ath­letic per­for­mance. Proper nutri­tion is crit­i­cal not only to your ath­letic suc­cess, but also and more impor­tantly to your growth, devel­op­ment and over­all health. Inad­e­quate nutri­ent intake deprives your body of the energy needed to per­form an event, the car­bo­hy­drates nec­es­sary for glyco­gen replace­ment, the pro­tein needed for tis­sue build­ing and repair, and the micronu­tri­ents nec­es­sary for nor­mal metab­o­lism and main­te­nance of body homeostasis.

Energy bal­ance for the ath­lete is the amount of energy the ath­lete con­sumes (food calo­ries) nec­es­sary to bal­ance the amount of energy the ath­lete expends (activ­ity). Phys­i­cal activ­ity does influ­ence the amount of spe­cific nutri­ents required and the opti­mal tim­ing of their intake. The ath­lete, who is engaged in heavy train­ing, will have higher energy and nutri­tional require­ments. Total energy intake must be suf­fi­cient to off­set the energy expended dur­ing ath­letic train­ing and performance.

Energy Avail­abil­ity

Many ath­letes spend a great deal of their time and effort main­tain­ing and manip­u­lat­ing energy bal­ance. Manip­u­lat­ing energy bal­ance has extremely impor­tant impli­ca­tions that affect not only your body weight, but also your pro­por­tion of fat mass and fat-free mass, car­bo­hy­drate stores, bone health, vit­a­min and min­er­als sta­tus, and men­strual sta­tus in women. Energy avail­abil­ity = total energy – energy cost of training/competition (ide­ally this should be >30 kcal/kg FFM/day).

Your energy require­ments are influ­enced by the energy expen­di­ture of your train­ing load (inten­sity, fre­quency and dura­tion) along with your body size, growth and pur­suit of weight loss or gain. The role of your nutri­tional reg­i­men is to sup­ply you with the fuel and nutri­ents needed to opti­mize the adap­ta­tions achieved dur­ing your train­ing and to ensure recov­ery between your work­outs. Low car­bo­hy­drate intake can result in inad­e­quate glyco­gen stores, pre­ma­ture fatigue and pos­si­ble uti­liza­tion of the body’s pro­tein stores for energy. It is impor­tant that you have ade­quate fuel stored in your mus­cles (mus­cle glyco­gen) and ade­quate hydra­tion to opti­mize your per­for­mance. Arguably, car­bo­hy­drates are the rec­om­mended source of energy needs from intense training.


Christmas Exercise

Christ­mas is the time of year to catch up with fam­ily and friends (so less time to exer­cise). Unfor­tu­nately, temp­ta­tion is at its high­est at this time so exer­cis­ing is usu­ally left on the back burner and the weather can some­times make out­door exer­cise dif­fi­cult. Addi­tion­ally, the increased con­sump­tion of food and/or alco­hol can leave you with very lit­tle moti­va­tion to workout.

Here are some sim­ple tips to help you with exer­cise over the hol­i­day period:

Whilst you may not be able to stick to your nor­mal exer­cise rou­tine over the hol­i­day period, you can still fit some exer­cise in. For exam­ple, if you nor­mally walk/run out­doors but find the weather too cold, try work­ing out indoors. Walk­ing up and down a flight stairs once is equal to one minute of weight bear­ing exer­cise. Stair climb­ing is also excel­lent for increas­ing your bone strength (bone den­sity) in your hips; it works on the main mus­cles for walk­ing and is very good for your over­all health. While watch­ing your favourite TV pro­gramme or lis­ten­ing to your favourite radio pro­gramme march­ing on the spot or any form of danc­ing are addi­tional choices.

You may not have an hour to spare to com­plete your reg­u­lar work­out how­ever, short reg­u­lar bursts of activ­ity can help main­tain your fit­ness level and reduce the chance of an extended period of time going by with­out exer­cis­ing (it is always eas­ier to main­tain then to gain back).  5 min­utes walk­ing, jog­ging or march­ing on the spot on and off through­out the day all adds up and con­tributes to bet­ter health.

Lastly, it may be eas­ier to keep to an exer­cise rou­tine when you share it with some­one. Walk with a friend, walk your dog, jog along­side your child while they cycle their new bike from Santa. It’s all about stay­ing active, get­ting your MET’s and reap­ing the benefits.

Hope you find the above tips help­ful and I would like to wish you a very Merry Christ­mas and Peace­ful New Year,