A change of season is a good time to reflect on your health and fitness goals and progress.
Summer into autumn can be a challenging switch. The sun is rising later, and you could be too.
But there are a few events coming up to keep you motivated as we head towards winter, probably the hardest time of year to stay on track when it's much easier to go into hibernation mode.
The Pont 3 team organisers of Blackmores Sydney running festival have joined forces with Runlab's Vlad Shatrov to deliver two trail events for the Hunter.
One is the Coastal Ascent on April 28, starting and finishing at Dixon Park and offering challenging courses through Glenrock State Conservation Area.
The other is in the Hunter Valley in June.
Vlad, an elite runner as well as experienced running coach, has designed the courses with something for all.
The Coastal Ascent has "challenging" 11-kilometre and 25km courses as well as a 2km kids course.
The Hunter Valley Ultra is being staged at Pokolbin on June 21 and 22 and offers a range of distances, including 12km, 30km, 60km and 102km plus a kids run.
"Trail running has taken off worldwide," Vlad said. "It has grown a lot in the last five years. It's been an area we [Runlab] have been getting more and more into and myself personally."
The Coastal Ascent provides the perfect platform for those entered in the Ultra Trail Australia (UTA) events in the Blue Mountains in May. Vlad, who has won the UTA 22km and 50km events and is eyeing victory in the 100km race this year, said whether you are new to trail running or experienced, preparation is paramount.
There are a few differences to road running and hitting the trails. The latter requires a fair bit more concentration - you need to keep your wits about you to conquer varying terrains - and generally takes longer than its road equivalent.
"If you're doing a marathon on the road, an average person takes four hours," Vlad said. "On a trail, an average event takes between eight and 10 hours. You need to train for it for a longer time and, when you do it, it's much more of an achievement."
The appeal of trail running lies in "getting back to nature" as well as overcoming its challenges.
"You go through these ups and downs in the race but, when you finish, you think, 'Look at what I just did'," he said. "But to do that, you need these smaller events to expose people to it and the training is different. If you want to run up and down hills then you can't just go run on an oval. You've got to go and practice because there's all of these extra challenges that make it more an experience rather than just an event."
He has developed some trail-specific training programs and sessions for runners of varying abilities to use ahead of the two new Hunter events. One of the Glenrock sessions was held over the weekend and another is coming up in April. There are more details via the Coastal Ascent's facebook page.
Upcoming Fitness Events
NewRun 2019, Newcastle Foreshore, April 7: The 5km, Herald Hill2Harbour 10km, 21.1km and kids 2km courses are back plus a new 42.2km option. The marathon is three flat loops or can be done as a relay.
Coastal Ascent Trail Run, Dixon Park, April 28: Starting and finishing at Dixon Park, this new event offers 11km and 25km options and takes in the scenic trails of Glenrock State Conservation Area.
Hunter Valley Ultra, Pokolbin, June 21 and 22: A new trail running event for the region offering scenic courses ranging in distances and including 12km, 30km, 60km and 102km. There is also a kids race.
Sizzling Summer Sessions
Finish off summer strong with these circuit-style sessions. Three times through each. First set is 30 seconds effort with a 30sec rest. Second set, 45 seconds working with 15sec rest. Third set, 1 minute of each. You can also do the sets in reverse.
Session 1: Squats, squat jumps, 2 push-ups with 10 mountain climbers, bent-over rows, skipping, bear crawls, ab rotation with weight, short shuttle runs, walking lunges, burpees.
Session 2: Lunges, side steps between two cones, push-ups, step-ups with shoulder press, plank jacks, glute bridge, skipping, dead lifts with rows, jump lunges, crunch and punch.
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Renee Valentine is a writer, qualified personal trainer and mother of three.