All posts by kencowley

Restless Legs Syndrome – a scourge, but there ARE solutions

As a contributor to this blog I’ve spoken before about my own health, nutrition and fitness thoughts and issues.

One issue I’ve had, and which I might be able to help others with is Restless Legs Syndrome. If you’ve never had it, you won’t understand it, but if you have you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say it’s a scourge. It’s not debilitating, it’s not exactly painful, it doesn’t stop you doing things, but it does/can have a big impact on quality of life.
So, what is it?

Essentially it’s a restless creeping feeling in one’s legs, particuarly in the quads/thighs, and particualrly at night and particularly (for me anyway) when sitting down. It’s extremely uncomfortable and I find it at it’s worst during flights or long films, or even just sitting down in my living room watching tv.

I’ve done quite a bit of research in to it, including what people usually say are the biggest triggers (caffeine, stress, poor diet, high blood pressure) and what are the solutions (medication, quinnine, stretching etc)

However, I recently came across a website with some excellent suggestions in it about RLS, and I’m happy to give it a plug here. The chap who runs the website isn’t even selling anything, he just wants to pass on his findings. Here’s the link;
Basically, he says that RLS is completely caused by Inflammation. Now, inflammation is a whole other subject, with a whole other list of causes and symptoms.

However, his cure, which simply involves a combination of herbs which can be purchased at any health store, DOES seem to helping me a lot, so I suggest you have a think about if, if you suffer from RLS.

Two other things that have also helped are;
Bikram Yoga, and again, that’s a whole other subject, which I’ll come back to some day.
And – ProArgi9 from Synergy Worldwide. The reason I think Pro Argi helps with RLS is that it creates Nitric Oxide in the body and therefore has a big impact on circulation, blood flow (and possibly inflammation) thereby helping the legs to relax, including when seated or lying down at night time.

So, that’s my tuppence worth on Restless Legs Syndrome, a nasty little affliction, and I hope the above may be of some help to fellow sufferers!

How Phytolife may benefit you!

As a contributor to this blog and someone constantly reading and researching in the areas of health, fitness and wellness, I believe in a holistic approach to health. Therefore, I have been delighted over the last three years to see my blood pressure tumble since taking the Synergy / Nature’s Sunshine product Pro-Argi 9.

And on top of that as soon as I had the confidence that my risks of cardiovascular disease had been reduced, I realised that the Pro-Argi was also having other positive impacts on my health, such as my cholesterol levels and relief from headaches.

However, the most surprising benefit was for my athletic performance. Now, firstly let me say, I’m no elite athlete!
I’m an average runner, not particularly fast, but I’ve discovered that I have a certain ability to simply ‘keep going’!
Which has led me towards ultra-running.

I started running in 2009 at the age of 37 and since then have moved from 10ks to half-marathons to full marathons
and now ultra marathons. However, my main love is mountain running, so therefore my favourite running of all is ultra-mountain running.
I have done 3 of these in the last 16 months, the Art O’Neill Challenge twice (55km) and the Wicklow Way Ultra (51km).
Both of these are over several/many mountain peaks, and the Art O’Neill is particularly gruelling as it is run across some fairly difficult openmountain, oh, and takes place at night time. In January!

So, how has the Pro-Argi helped?

Well, most runners use the likes of energy gels, isotonic drinks, electrolyte drinks, carbs, proteins, bananas, sugary energy sweets, bananas etc. All of these items have their merits, but for me pro-argi 9 has been the most significant element of my pre-race planning.

I make sure I take on board plenty of the product in the weeks leading up to an Ultra, increasing from 1 scoop a day to 2 scoops a day.

The main benefit has been increased energy, and improved performance, particularly in the latter half of these long races. As regular readers will know, Pro Argi works by introducing nitric oxide to the body, dramatically improving circulation and allowing the body to heal itself.

My theory with regard to ultra marathons is that this nitric oxide allows the body to keep fuelling itself when the electrolytes become diminished and gives the runner extra energy throughout the race, but particularly in the closing stages.

I have also found that Pro Argi has helped me with recovery, rest and repair in the days after these long races, and also (crucially) throughout the training period, which allows me to be more productive in my training plans.

Finally, it is not just Pro Argi which has helped my running so much (as well as my general health) but the whole V3 system.
The V3 system is comprised of Pro-Argi 9, Mistify and Phytolife. Mistify and Phytolife work in different ways, introducing antioxidants and much more to the body as well as eliminating free radicals, all of which works best when Pro Argi is used to help the body circulate the other items.

All of these items are available from Synergy Worldwide, a subsidiary of Nature’s Sunshine, one of the most innovative companies in the world in the nutraceutical sector.
Please see the relevant pages on for more information on how to order.

Last point – next plans? Continue taking the V3 system, and work towards my next ultra-running event!

Be pro-active about Alzeimers prevention

A recent article published in the scientific journal PloS One says that eating curry twice a week can help prevent dementia. Great news for us curry lovers! However, the science behind the claim is based on solid research which shows that curcumin (which is in tumeric – a staple ingredient of curry) helps deal with plaque that builds up on the brain.

As we know Pro-Argi 9 also works on clearing out plaque in the body, yet another reason to take our ground-breaking nitric-oxide creating supplement, so the news is all good in this week’s article!

Other foods which it is claimed can help prevent Alzeimers include oily fish, nuts, olive oil, a wide variet of fruit & veg plus small quantities of tea, coffee, dark chocolate & red wine.

Finally, here are some lifestyle suggestions from the HDM team which we believe can contribute to a healthy future for you and your brain;
– Daily exercise
– Mental stimulation, for example card games or bridge
– Active social life & hobbies
– Try your best to reduce stress and get at least 7 hours of good quality sleep every night

Now, go out tonight and treat yourself to that curry!

Here’s a link to the research;

Ken’s Art O’Neill ultra marathon blog update, 9 hrs 23 mins later! Part 1

Well it’s over and I’m glad to say the race went very well!

For anyone who didn’t read my first blog entry, I was doing the Art O’Neill Challenge – a 55km overnight ultra marathon from Dublin Castle over the Wicklow mountains to Glenmalure, in tribute to the legendary prison escape/run by Art O’Neill and Red Hugh O’Donnell in the 16th century.
This year, just for good measure, the organisers chose Friday 13th as the date!

Arrived at Dublin Castle just before midnight to see the walkers off – and then in to register, and finally, off we went running through the Castle gates at 2am out to a bemused Dublin – 80 runners in hi-vis jackets no doubt being a strange sight to bleary-eyed pub-goers staggering out of the chippers..

I’ll try not to make this blog too long, but just to back-track a bit and talk a bit more about my pre-race preparation. I said I would mention nutrition. It’s such an important part of long distance running, and I usually get it fairly right. This year, not quite. So, for about 36 hours before the race I was keeping it simple, plenty of carbs, litres upon litres of water, vitamins and things like dark chocolate to store fat (no jokes please!) Plus, of course my 3 Synergy products, Mistify, Phytolife and Pro-Argi 9. Some readers may not be interested, so I won’t go in to more detail here, but please feel free to read more about them on the site, or to contact me for more info. Final word on it – Pro-Argi 9 is amazing for energy, and definitely helped me through my first ultra-marathon!

The only other things to mention about preparation are Kit (which I mostly got right), Sleep (I got a crucial 2 hrs sleep at Friday teatime as well as a fairly good night’s sleep on Thurs) and Training (it went as well as could be expected – given a lingering cough and a sore neck).

So, to the race!
I was running with Justin and Jacqui, and we stuck together all the way to the mountains (30K of road), and were also in touch with Aidan, who had set off at 1.15.
Our plan was to run all the road parts, all the trails/fireroads and any safe mountain downhills and to walk the extreme uphills and the parts with very bad terrain. We mostly stuck to this plan!
The road part was (as expected) long and boring, enlivened only by the excitement of the event and camaraderie of the other runners, plus the knowledge that runners got attacked last year by locals in the countryside beyond Tallaght (and no, not by animals!)
Anyway, nothing untoward happened, and we made it to the first transition stop in Kilbride (20K) in just over 2 hours.

At this point I had made 2 mistakes. Firstly, I think we ran the first part too fast. For me, anyway. This was to lead to problems later!
Plus, I was wearing too much and my core body temperature was probably too high. It was a perfect night mind you – great visibilty and quite mild for the time of year. Temperatures I think ranged from about zero to 5 degrees.
Also, we spent a little too long in transition – it’s amazing how long it can take to change top/runners, rearrange kit (for the mountain section to come), and have a bit of soup.
And, oh yes, mentioning soup, that reminds me – I should mention my stomach was NOT in good shape for most of the run. Whether it was nerves (probably not), something I ate (probably not), or just the overall shock an event like this does to your body (most likely), I really couldn’t take in much sustenance throughout the race. My total food intake was – one energy bar, one banana, one cup of soup, one bowl of porridge and one coffee – which is NOT enough food for an event this physical and this long. And I just couldn’t stomach any of the electrolite drinks or lucozade I had brought with me, and thus realised I was going to be very short on liquids, as I only had 2 bottles of regular water. Despite filling these bottles up at every transition station, I got quite badly dehydrated over the 9 hours.

Anyway, after the first break, off we went on the final 10k of roads, passing Dave and Don (from my job) walking, who seemed to be performing great and still in good spirits, until we hit the mountains proper at Black Hill. At this point Jacqui went off on her own, which looking back, she probably should/could have done earlier, as she is an amazing runner and was being held back. Likewise later in the race I was holding Justin back, but on the other hand, the company of another runner helps in other ways – eg keeping morale up. I should also mention that Justin did a great job of navigating us over the mountains – despite excellent moonlit conditions and 450 other people on the hills, it’s no easy task, and we made great progress – always taking the quickest lines.

At the top of Black Hill and on to the gap beside Mullaughlaveen it was quite cold and windy, and (now nearly 4 hours in) our feet were completely soaking wet. Having said that I was happy with my decision not to wear waterproof socks, I just wore thin merino lining socks (thanks for the tip, Aidan!) underneath regular long-distance running socks and mountain runners. Once you keep moving, your feet don’t get cold.

Terrain at this point was tricky, but manageable. My head torch wasn’t really good enough (it wouldn’t take a genius to realise a good head-torch is rather important for running over the Wicklow mountains at night!).
And this is the thing I’m most relieved about, sitting at my computer the day after – that I didn’t get a single injury the whole night! Despite copious opportunities to twist an ankle in a rabbit hole, or fall off a peat hag, or slip down the Art’s Cross climb(!), the worst thing that happened was about 6 or 7 falls – mostly in the latter stages by which time my brain wasn’t really working but thankfully none of these falls did any damage.

Continue to Part 2



Ken’s Art O’Neill Challenge ultra-marathon and Pro-Argi blog

This will be a short blog, 2 or 3 entries. Partly to track my experience of the Art O’Neill Challenge (which takes place tonight) and partly to show how my intake of Pro-Argi 9 helped me get through it.
However, I haven’t got through it yet!

Two bits of background – firstly the event itself – it’s a 55km overnight ultra-marathon from Dublin Castle down and over the Wicklow mountains to the Glenmalure Valley, thus replicating the famous flight of Art O’Neill and Red Hugh O’Donnell in the 16th Century. For more info on the event they have a great website and the event also raises some crucial funds for Dublin/Wicklow Mountain Rescue.

Next, a few comments on my preparation.
Ok, so it hasn’t gone perfectly! But, when does training ever go perfectly?!
It’s been a mild winter, but since December I’ve had a lingering cold/cough. This is very unusual for me, ever since I started taking Pro-Argi 9 my immune system has been excellent and I think it’s been at least 18 months since I had a cold. I also woke up with a bad neck strain 4 days ago, but thankfully that has diminished.

Basically, my training has been quite unscientific – just runs at the weekend, athletics sessions on Tuesdays (Crusaders AC) and other miscellaneous bits of running/walking/stretching/gymwork etc.
However, I slept well last night and will try for another nap around teatime before making my way in to the city centre.

Nutrition wise, I’ve been trying to eat sensibly since Christmas (battling a bit of weight gain!) and obviously am carb-loading since yesterday. I’ve also upped my intake of Pro-Argi 9 in the last few days, to 3 scoops a day. For anyone who hasn’t heard of it, it is the best arginine supplement on the market. I sell it myself (with my business partner Paul) and can also get you involved in selling it (if you’re interested in a nice simple 2nd income).

A brief word on the product – arginine is a Nobel winning food supplement which creates nitric oxide in the body and has been having revolutionary impact on many health issues, especially anything cardio related. It’s also amazing for energy and for athletes. But there’s way more information on our website and please contact me at or by phone or Facebook if you want more info.

Anyway, back to tonight’s event.
I am officially listed as an ultra-runner, thus setting off at 2pm, whereas the walkers set off at midnight. Realistically though, I won’t run it all, just the road parts, and on the mountains I aim to run the flats, and the safe downhills. Otherwise we’ll have to see. One thing for sure, I’ll be running very slowly! I’ve never attempted anything like this before, and my previous longest mountain race was 22 miles/38km (nearly 5 hours), plus I’ve done a couple of road marathons.

Ok, if I dont’ report back before the race – watch out for my blog posting to say how it went! All going well, I’ll complete the race in less than 12 hours, thus finishing by 2pm on Saturday afternoon, and should be back to my laptop in Dublin by evening.
Good luck to all the other participants and lets hope we all have a safe night on the mountains!