Hackney Half: Meet personal trainer Matt Smith, who will give Gazette readers week-by-week training tips

Sales manager Patrick Dunne (R) and Editor Ramzy Alwakeel get the blood pumping in Clissold Park. Pi

Sales manager Patrick Dunne (R) and Editor Ramzy Alwakeel get the blood pumping in Clissold Park. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Thinking of taking on the Hackney Half this year but worried that you’re not ready?

Sales manager Patrick Dunne (R) and Editor Ramzy Alwakeel get the blood pumping in Clissold Park. Pi

Sales manager Patrick Dunne (R) and Editor Ramzy Alwakeel get the blood pumping in Clissold Park. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

If so, the Gazette’s own personal trainer Matt Smith might be able to help.

We are pleased to be the local media partner for the run, which is now in its fifth year.

As part of our coverage, we’ll be bringing you regular training tips from Matt, who lives in Dalston and works at Fitness First in Liverpool Street.

He and the Gazette staffers will be raising money for the Hackney Winter Night Shelter, just like last year when we racked up £1,200 for some of the most desperate people in our borough.


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We’ll tell you more about the shelter – and how to sponsor us, if you’re that way inclined – in the coming weeks.

For now, we want to give you some ideas about how to get active in the hope you might join us (and probably overtake us immediately) at the start line.

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Matt’s first set of fitness tips is down the side of the page and should give you some inspiration to get out into the open air.

Sales manager Patrick Dunne (R) and Editor Ramzy Alwakeel get the blood pumping in Clissold Park. Pi

Sales manager Patrick Dunne (R) and Editor Ramzy Alwakeel get the blood pumping in Clissold Park. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

That’s exactly what two of the Gazette runners did in Clissold Park at the weekend when Matt put Editor Ramzy Alwakeel, 29, and sales manager Patrick Dunne, 34, through their paces.

They’ll be joined on the day by account manager Peter Bailie who, at 24, is the youngest team member.

“I’m excited to be running the Virgin Sport Hackney Half again this year,” he said. “As a Hackney resident, it’s great to be able to raise money for a local charity to help those who are in need of somewhere warm to sleep.”

Peter completed last year’s run in an hour and 42 minutes. Patrick was a quarter of an hour behind him – and is determined to close the gap.

“I’m delighted to be part of the Gazette’s Hackney Half team once again,” he said, before adding dubiously: “I look forward to inspiring my fellow Gazette runners to greatness as they hang on to my coattails, awe-inspired at a finely tuned athlete at the peak of his prowess.”

He clarified: “By which I mean I hope I finish in a marginally better time than last year, and that we raise lots of money for the night shelter, which is a great cause we’re proud to continue to support.”

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Matt demonstrates the couch stretch. Picture: Matt Smith

Matt demonstrates the couch stretch. Picture: Matt Smith - Credit: Archant

Matt Smith’s training tips #1: The couch stretch

You should be doing this. It’s a favourite for helping loosen the hip flexors and tight quads associated with a sedentary life style and repetitive motion (like running or cycling).

Get yourself into this lunge-style position with the back foot on a box, chair or couch. This tightens the muscles on the bent leg.

Now use that butt and push the hips forward to bring the stretch higher into the hip.

Repeat on the other side to avoid walking in circles.

Do it often and with purpose, pre- and post-training. This stretch has also been seen to help alleviate lower back tension associated with hip flexor and TFL (not that one) tension.

E-mail Matt Smith on matt@fireandsteelfitness.com or see instagram.com/fireandsteel for more tips and advice.

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