Faces of the Run Series: Teigan Ball

“I have been really struggling with motivation during these last few weeks. The Run Series provides me with an excellent opportunity to do this for me, to collect the medals, join a community and feel a part of the university again.”

A lady running in a maroon coloured jacket
Action shot of Tiegan running

 

Name: Tiegan Ball

Role: Wellbeing Sports Liaison Officer

Division: Student Wellbeing Network, Bristol SU

Other roles: NHS Bank Worker and Novice Captain, University of Bristol Boat Club

Studying: Bachelor of Science, BS Childhood studies

 

What is your experience with running up until now?

I never used to run; I was adamant that I couldn’t do it. I used to think it would deteriorate my muscle growth. However, in the first lockdown, I purchased my first pair of running shoes. I started with a short 5k around the downs, once or twice a week as a maximum. I was very much a gym girl; cardio wasn’t my forte at all. Since the first lockdown, I have steadily increased my distance and decreased my time. So, to cut it short, I am probably an intermediate runner.

A fitness tracker screenshot showing a run route around Bristol Harbour
Tiegan’s favourite run route around Bristol Harbour

What motivated you to sign up for the run series in 2021?

I have been really struggling with motivation during these last few weeks. The run series provides me with an excellent opportunity to do something for myself, to collect the medals, join a community and feel a part of the university again.

What is your top tip for getting out the door for your training runs?

For me, I must schedule the run a few days before. I am not a spontaneous person as such, I like to mentally prepare for a run. I like to eat properly beforehand (a carby meal a few hours before). It is about doing what suits you. I also like to run in the evenings, as a break in-between studying. The sunsets are also so beautiful so it is great for the mind as well.

A lady running with the sun setting behind her
Tiegan running at sunset

What are you most looking forward to about taking part in the Run Series this year?

I am most looking forward to being a part of a community again. I love to socialise and, obviously, it has been hard this year to feel connected. The run series will allow me to feel a part of a team and strive to be the best version of myself that I can be!

What is your favourite pre-run snack/food?

I love sliced banana with peanut butter on top (crunchy peanut butter, of course). Personally, it is so important that I also eat well the day before. If I eat poorly, I can’t expect a good time but again just getting out and running is so much better than not doing anything. Do this for you.

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There is still time to sign up for the first Run Series event, the virtual 5k, this weekend (20-21 March). For more information, and to sign up, visit the Run Series website.

 

 

A marathon, not a sprint – encouraging your kids to get active

Picture of John Wilford, Sport and Health managerJohn Wilford is our Sport and Health Manager. He is also a Dad of three who has been navigating working from home and homeschooling over the past year, and he has some wisdom to share.

 

“A marathon, not a sprint.” This sporting metaphor has been a common refrain over the last year. The last couple of months have become more like a car trip though – “are we there yet?”, “you’re squashing me”, “I feel sick” “I’m hungry”

The February school break came as a welcome pause even though the break from school was being spent at “school”. Getting teenagers out of bed became even more futile and there were still cries of “the wifi is playing up”, but it was time spent playing games of Among Us and, Youtube content disrupted, instead of Maths lessons or Mrs Wordsmith.

One aspect persisted – physical activity levels stayed low. Previous lockdowns saw a national dip in levels for children with more 5 to 18-year-olds not reaching the recommendations of 60 minutes of physical activity per day than ever.

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Faces of the Run Series: Rushab Shah

Our second Face of the Run Series is this year’s elected Sports and Student Development Officer, Rushab Shah. Rushab has been at home in Nairobi, Kenya since Christmas, which is where he will be running the Run Series virtual 5k on the weekend of 20-21 March.

A selfie of Rushab Shah and his Sister, Sachee, smiling
Rushab and his sister, Sachee, out on a run

Bio

Name: Rushab Shah
Staff or StudentStudent Sabbatical Officer
Role: Bristol SU
Run Series Event: Whole Series!

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Shifting goal posts – A fortnight with the GB Rowing team

We caught up with Henry Abrahamsour resident Sports Physiotherapist at the University of Bristol Sports Medicine Clinic, who has just got back from 2 weeks working with the GB Olympic Rowing Team helping them prepare for the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Henry Abrahams SMC
Henry Abrahams, Sports Physiotherapist

For the athletes and support teams who were working towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, the pandemic has really shifted the goalposts, not only with the games being delayed to 2021 but also through restrictions on travel and training. Alongside my role as a Physiotherapist based at the University of Bristol Sports Medicine Clinic, I am also lucky enough to work as a contractor with British Rowing, the National Governing Body for Rowing.  

 

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Nutrition advice for runners: What is Nutrition?

If I say the words “sports nutrition”, what do you think? For many of us, the predominant image is probably a guy a bit like Arnie, downing a protein shake, wearing tight nylon short-shorts and a slinky vest. Fear not, I’m here to tell you that we can have a far more expansive view of what constitutes sports nutrition. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, anything that you put in your mouth which contributes to your training programme is, in essence, sports nutrition.

If a cup of herbal tea before bed helps you get a good night’s sleep then it is, to you, as important a sports nutrition drink as a protein shake is to Arnie! Nutrition doesn’t have to be prescriptive – a good nutrition programme is about listening to your body and responding to what it needs: if you are hungry then eat and if you are full then stop. There are a few basic points to consider which can help you hit the basics but, generally speaking, being incredibly precise about your food intake is not necessary unless you are an elite athlete training multiple times per day.

Arnold Schwarzenegger inside a coloured circle in 4 segments reading Nutritious, delicious, cheap, easy
You can eat nutritiously even if you don’t want to drink your food.

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The Spennylympics

Charlotte Nichols is a 3rd-year Medical student at the University of Bristol. This summer, she and her partner Stuart will be attempting to complete all 80 Olympic events during the 17 days that coincide with the Tokyo games (23rd July-8th August) to raise awareness and vital funds for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, in memory of Stuart’s much-loved brother, Spencer (Spenny).

Spencer aka Spenny
Spencer aka Spenny

In 2011 Spencer tragically lost his life to Motor Neurone Disease aged just 49, leaving behind his wife and 2 young sons. Spencer held a special place in the hearts of all who knew him. He was many things to many people, a well-known and talented musician, a keen footballer, a loyal and trusted friend and always the party starter! Spencer lived with this disease for just under 2 years and throughout this period he dedicated himself to raising as much awareness and money as he could for the MND association.

Charlotte told us “Stuart has always wanted to mark this 10-year anniversary and celebrate Spenny’s life in a fitting way and that was the seed that grew into Spennylympics, and in me, he has found someone determined and crazy enough to bring this idea to life! We are under no illusions as to just how difficult this challenge will be, in fact, it has been described by some as “impossible” which has only fuelled our determination to succeed even more!”

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Nutrition advice for runners: The Wheel of Food Happiness

A picture of a pie chart split equally with the headings: Delicious, nutritious, cheap and easy. The centre of the wheel states " The wheel of food happiness"

Running is going to make you hungry. This is great because a) food is delicious and b) if you take a little care over the ingredients you use, you can get some powerful nutrients in your body which will add to the benefits you’re already getting from training.

Just like with any other aspect of your regime, the most important factor determining the effectiveness of your nutrition plan is whether you actually stick to it. If you don’t get that part right then none of the rest really matters. There is no point concocting the perfect blend of spirulina, raw biltong and ground flax seeds for your post-run snack, if realistically you’re going to find that way too difficult to stomach after you’ve got out of bed earlier than usual to do interval training first thing on your Wednesday morning.

The best running food will ideally be nutritious enough that it actively helps your body adapt to your training. It will be easy to prepare and store so that it doesn’t become an inconvenience. It will be cheap enough that you can eat plenty of it without it any negative financial impact. And finally, it will be so delicious that it actually increases your motivation for training.

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5 Tips for Managing Stress from our University ‘Healthy Minds’ Supervisor

There is no denying that 2020 has been a difficult year and we have – individually and collectively – faced more challenges this year than we might ever have expected. Feelings of stress and burnout are rife this year in particular and we want to support you in managing and overcoming them!

What is stress?

Stress is a response which occurs when a physical, mental, or emotion pressure placed on an individual. This results in what many people know as the ‘Fight or Flight’ response – a release of chemicals within the body that heightens our senses and prepares it for battle or escape. The Fight of Flight response evolved as a way to keep us safe from very real and imposing dangers in the past – such as wild animals.

Nowadays, the Fight or Flight responses can be triggered by perceived threats such as a full email inbox, an impending deadline or a change to our routine. These perceived threats are everywhere in the modern world and it is our ability to manage our individual responses to these situations that can keep us in a more calm and relaxed state, increasing our ability to cope, and protecting our health long-term. 

How to manage stress

We spoke to Andrew Ford, our University of Bristol Healthy Minds Supervisor. Healthy Minds is a programme led by University of Bristol Sport which supports students in taking positive steps towards improving their mental wellbeing, through a varied, social and structured timetable of physical activity opportunities. Mental wellbeing, achieved via physical wellbeing.

Using his professional expertise and his own personal experience, Andrew outline his top tips for managing stress, and staying well:

Keep active

Find what works for you in terms of exercise and participate as many times as you can during a week. I’d recommend 3-5 times if possible. There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to exercise and movement, but there are plenty of options you can choose from. It could be going for a run, strength training, yoga, a long walk, going climbing, dancing, or so many others. The best one is the one that you enjoy – really!

Any and every form of physical activity helps to release endorphins (mood boosting hormones) in the brain which encourage a more positive mindset and help to combat stress hormone levels.

Get enough sleep

This is often quite a tough one to do during University life, but studies show that a better nights rest helps to reduce stress hormone levels and give you more energy the next day to tackle any tasks you may have

The recommend amount of sleep for an adult is 7 to 9 hours per night. This tip links nicely linked with exercise, as those who exercise tend to get to sleep earlier, have better quality sleep, and don’t wake up as frequently during the night. It is best to exercise whenever you feel most comfortable, so this could be early in the day, or in the evening where you may have more free time.

Reach out for support

Speaking out and asking for is hard, but can be safe in the knowledge that you won’t be the only person feeling this way, and there are people who can help and support you. It may seem like a difficult step, but talking to someone – whether about what is going on and how you’re feeling, or just in for a social chat – is great way to help regulate your feelings and emotions, develop relationships, and gain new perspectives to any problems. This could be with anyone who you feel comfortable with, such as friends or family, or even within our services at the University.

The University Student Well-being Advisors are a friendly and approachable team who are able to provide non-clinical advice and support to help you find the best way to tackle whatever it is that you’re feeling.

Take a break

We know it sounds cliché, but it does really work. If a particular problem is causing stress, take a step back from it for a small amount of time. Taking a physical and mental break is the best way to get a little respite from that pressure, to take some time to relax and refresh, and be able to return to it with a fresh mindset and a more pragmatic approach.

It is helpful to plan in advance for this time which can reduce stress proactively, especially if you are someone who knows that they suffer from stress and anxiety when under pressure. Allow time to take these breaks, and you will be able to perform the tasks better, with more focus.

Do what you enjoy

Everyone has a hobby. It could be exercise, but it could also be cooking, gaming, craft, singing, or DIY. Whatever it is, if it is what you enjoy then make sure to find time to do that activity during the week – every week if you can. It is one of the more effective ways of switching off and giving yourself time to relax and reduce feelings of stress.

Planning ahead slightly at the beginning of the day or week, to create this free time for yourself will allow you to break up your day and avoid allowing a problematic situation to dominate your emotions. 


There are many ways to help alleviate stress. The Sport, Exercise and Health department are here to help you identify the best ways to do that in a physical activity capacity. Please feel free to speak to one of the team for more information as to how we can help you, and support you in feeling your best.

Join us online for live and on-demand fitness and well-being sessions via the University of Bristol Sport app (available on iOS and Android). You can also find well-being information for University of Bristol Staff and Students online, including self-help resources, guided support services and advice for supporting others.

10 things you can do with Bristol Uni Sport, that aren’t Sport

Did you know that the Sport, Exercise and Health Division at the University of Bristol has more to offer than just competitive sport? We know that Sport isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so here are 10 ways that you can get involved in active life at Bristol, without a referee or score-board in sight!

1. The Gym

The University of Bristol gym is located in the Indoor Sports Centre on Tyndall Avenue – right in the heart of campus. There is a range of cardio machines and an extensive free-weights zone, as well as a functional fitness and stretching areas located over two floors. Whatever your health and fitness goal, you’ll find everything you need.

2. Fitness classes

In the same building as the Gym, we have a number of fitness studios which are home to our gym-based fitness classes. We have over 100 in-person and virtual classes to choose from every week from ZUMBA and Aerobics, to Hatha Yoga and HIIT Pilates. As a Les Mills partner, you can join instructor-led and virtual classes from their popular catalogue including GRIT, RPM, Body Balance and Body Balance. Get unlimited access to classes with a membership, or PAYG for your favourite.

3. B:Active

B:Active is our non-competitive, low-cost and beginner-friendly fitness and activity programme exclusive for students. Split across two timetables, B:Active Campus and B:Active Residences, you can take part in as many classes as you like each week, no commitment needed.

4. Swimming

The University of Bristol Swimming Pool is located in the basement of the Richmond Building (Bristol SU building) and has over 100 hours available per week for casual and/or lane swimming. The Pool has six lanes, at full length is 32 meters long, and is 3.8m at it’s deepest point. If you’re looking for a low-impact, full-body conditioning activity, swimming might be the one for you!

5. Treat an injury

If you’re finding yourself sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, or you’re suffering an existing injury that’s keeping you from your favourite activity, get in touch with our Sports Medicine Clinic and speak to one of our expert physiotherapists. Book yourself and 10-15 minute (virtual) initial appointment for FREE for some advice on next steps and put yourself back on the path to peak physical condition.

6. Sign up to an event

In-person or virtual, events are a great way to join our #WeAreBristol active community and feel a part of something bigger – last year we had over 700 Bristol Uni students, staff and alumni sign up to the Great Bristol 10k. Events may be looking a little different for 2020/21 but keep an eye out for virtual event opportunities coming this year!

7. Learn or develop a skill

Book yourself a coached session to boost your skills and confidence! Our Tennis Coaches, Swim Teachers and Personal Trainers all offer 1:1 or small group coaching sessions to help support you in reaching your activity goals, whether that’s learning something completely new, or building on previous experience. It’s never too late, and you’re never too old!

8. Work with us

Student Activators form a valuable part of the S.E.H Team and help us to connect with students, run events and communicate all things active online! Student Activators are paid student staff, and can be a great CV-boosting role – as well as connecting you with other like-minded students. Keep an eye out for opportunities to get involved as a Student Activator during your time at Bristol by following @bristolunibactive and @bristolunisport on social media.

9. Volunteer

As well as paid opportunities, you can learn new skills and enhance your CV by taking part in our Sport Leadership and Volunteer programme, Game Changers. The programme runs continuously throughout the year to fit flexibly around student studies, and provides students with online and in-person training and qualifications to enable them to volunteer in a range of areas, including; coaching, officiating and community outreach.

10. Have your say

Join a committee, attend Bristol SU meetings or join student networks and groups that can have an impact on shaping the student experience around Sport and Physical Activity! Could you nominate yourself for a position on the University of Bristol Sports Network? If you’d like to see something done differently, you need to get involved and have your say – check our the Bristol SU website for opportunities and who to contact!

For more information on everything that Bristol Uni Sport has to offer, download the University of Bristol Sport app (available on iOS and Android) or head to our website.

Find us on Facebook.

Follow us on Instagram.

Join our virtual community on Strava.

Promotion to a Performance Specialist Club: Blog takeover with University of Bristol Archery

As a University of Bristol Sports Club, our Clubs can still choose to also work with external partners and governing bodies, to improve skills, enter competitions and gain notoriety in their sport for particular achievements or standards. For the University of Bristol Archery Club, this is Archery GB; the national governing body for archery in Great Britain. Archery GB’s Ontarget programme launched in 2010 and aims to equip grassroots level archery with the structure, vision and support to help the sport and its participants flourish and grow.

Following the announcement that UoB Archery had been recognised by Archery GB as an Ontarget Performance Specialist Club, we asked the Club to tell us a little bit about their journey to getting here.


The Archery GB ontarget scheme is designed to create a support network for archery clubs across the UK to develop and grow. Within this, clubs can achieve three specialisms: Community, Young People, and Performance. We [University of Bristol Archery Club] joined the scheme earlier this year, and have now been recognised as a Performance specialist Club!

To achieve this specialism, a club must work with its athletes, coaches, judges, and volunteers to promote an atmosphere in which sporting excellence is encouraged and promoted.

The club is in a great place to …continue bringing the sport of archery to the students of Bristol University.

Our new 2020/21 Club Captain, Will Black says that the recognition from Archery GB is “a testament to the great work of the past committees that we have been able to achieve. The club is in a great place to stay strong through the current crisis and continue bringing the sport of archery to the students of Bristol University. I am incredibly proud to be part of this club and hope to continue the success story this year.”

In university archery, archers that have shot (been in the sport) for less than one year have their own category. When archers move from being a ‘novice’ to ‘experienced’, they suddenly find themselves up against archers that have much more training under their belts – some upwards of 10 years! This can be incredibly demotivating for relatively new archers, especially those who excelled in their novice season.

To tackle this our club decided to create a new badge system during the 2018/19 academic year, for archers to track their progress through the standard indoor rounds. The badges take athletes from the beginner’s courses (white badge) to the very top of competitive archery (purple badge). The top-tier purple badge has only been achieved by one member so far! This new system has proved popular over the last year especially, with many archers in the club using it in their goal setting.

In 2019/20, we reformed the beginner’s course so that it was much more structured and used the time more effectively. A record number of 90 archers completed a course with the club in this year, and we are expecting many of these archers to continue with us in the 2020/21 season. Alongside the courses, our club ran a short ‘Introduction to Coaching’ course, during pre-season. Our volunteer coaches gained much more confidence through this course and it gave our Club’s coaching a much more cohesive approach.

The club has also increased emphasis on the importance of strength and conditioning over the last few years, with record numbers of archers attending Monday morning Motiv8 sessions during the 2019/20 academic year. Strength and conditioning has also been prevalent in keeping the club active over lockdown, with committee members running our own Motiv8 via zoom!

The 2019/20 season also saw the first off-range training sessions run by the club. We hosted a goal setting workshop in November and had another planned for April, which sadly had to be cancelled. These sessions are key to individual development as they boost motivation and encourage archers to maintain drive.

Photo credit: Malcolm Rees

For 2020/21 we are introducing a new tiered membership structure so that our athletes can maximise their experience with the club. We also plan to continue to run workshops both on and off the range, in addition to weekly bow drills sessions to promote good technique and strength for archery.

About the announcement, University of Bristol Sport Performance Manager, Matt Paine says “The Archery club at the University of Bristol has grown from strength to strength in the last 5 years. This has been made possible by the dedication and strong leadership provided by the club captains and committees. The creation of an inclusive and open club for all is not easy within a University, and providing opportunities for both new and Performance archers is a tricky balance alongside the degree pressures. The Archery GB Ontarget recognition for the club is a reward for all of this and we look forward to supporting the club as it continues to strive for even more success in the coming years” 


What to write a Club Takeover blog for us? Email us your ideas!seh-comms@bristol.ac.uk

Follow University of Bristol Archery on Instagram @uobarchery and Facebook.

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