European Champion!! a shock for me..

As many of you know this was my last GB race for the aquathlon team before I take some time out from this team. I competed in the 2019 Târgu Mures ETU Aquathlon European Championships on Friday 5th  of July for GB in Romania. The race consisted of a 1k swim in a lake and 5k run, with the run being four laps of 1.25km.

A few days prior to the race I developed a foot problem after one of my sessions and I was limping with pain afterwards. I was very worried about it being a big problem and that it would keep me out of the race. I tried not to think about it and rested up over the weekend prior to the race. I had a physio appointment booked in anyway the day before I went out. On the Monday I turned up to the physio expecting to be pulled out of the race, however he couldn’t find anything wrong and told me to go for my normal planned run that evening and then come back later for a scan to check no fractures to be 100% sure. So I went for a run and it was painful but didn’t get worse, I then went for a scan and it was all clear. This gave me huge confidence knowing whatever it is will not keep me out of the race. I always tend to get werid pains before big events.

Race day arrived and for some reason I was a nervous wreck before the start of the race in the morning, no idea why, maybe because of my foot pain. I got to the start line in very warm conditions and the horn went off and I started.

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I thought I struggled in the swim because the lake was warm and my arms and legs felt dead after 100 metres. I came into transition in 4th place in my age group which is very high for me and I went down the wrong row in transition and panicked as I couldn’t see my trainers, they were two rows away, I have never made this mistake before and I was thinking this was not going to be a good day but tried to keep positive. I then got on the run and ran well but was struggling towards the end, I took the lead on the 3rd lap and had the fastest run in my race and one of the fastest on the day. When the commentator announced me as the champion in my age group when I crossed the line, I was shocked and didn’t really believe it but my wife kept saying they said you won and we were so happy, I couldn’t of done it without her support over the years.

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I then had to wait pretty much the whole day until the medal ceremony which was in the evening. I lined up for the podium and when my name was called out as the Champion in my age group I was blown away but over the moon, it was a great feeling and a special moment for sure.

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A nice end for me for the team as I am moving to other challenges. When I started this journey I didn’t expect to achieve so much. I couldn’t swim in 2012 and only started running then, I hope this inspires others that if they train hard they can achieve their goals. Very shocked but over the moon about it, still can’t quite believe it. But I have to thank all my family, friends, coaches and sponsors that have supported me throughout the years as they certainly played a part in this and it was a team effort for sure.

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Thank you for all your support over the years.

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AfterShokz Aeropex Headphone Review

My sponsors have gifted me the new AfterShokz Aeropex Headphones to review so I have put it through its paces and here is my review.

What is the Aeropex? A Bluetooth headset and wireless, they target the sports markets and especially runners, however it is very good for the bike too. AfterShokz are leading the way in bone conduction technology, however with £149.95 they come at a cost just like other top gadgets.

What is bone conduction technology? Well there are two types of audio conduction: air conduction and bone conduction. Air conduction is the most common for headphones, however while we enjoy our music this way, we can’t hear the noises that surrounds us and can become uncomfortable after a while in our ears. With bone conduction on the other hand, you don’t have either of these issues. AfterShokz headphones generate miniature vibrations which travel through your cheekbones. The vibrations go directly to your inner ears (cochlea), bypassing your eardrums. Because of this, you are free to enjoy music without blocking your ears. This leaves you with awareness of your surroundings. For example if you’re running you can hear everything around you. In England this is the only approved bone conduction headphones for England Athletics races.

Below is a table of the specifications, if you’re like me you’re want to have a look.

Part number AS800 Wireless range 33 ft(10m)
Speaker type Bone conduction transducer Battery Li-Polymer battery
Frequency response 20Hz~20KHz Continuous play Up to 8 hours
Sensitivity 105 ± 3dB Standby time Up to 10 days
Microphone -38dB ± 3dB Charge time 2 hours
Bluetooth® version Bluetooth®v5.0 Weight 26 g
Compatible profiles A2DP,AVRCP,HSP,HFP Warranty 2 years
Charge Voltage 5V±5% Sweat resistance IP67
Speaker impedance 8.5ohm±20% Battery capacity 145 mAh
Frequency band 2402MHz~2480MHz Maximum RF output power 4dBm

So what new features and improvements has AfterShokz come up with for their new model?

The Aeropex seems to have much better sound quality than the Air. I think this is due to the vibration is tilted against the face at 30 degrees, allowing a more dynamic range of base and fewer vibrations. This therefore allows the vibrations in the range of the human voice a little higher which are purer, with a smooth frequency response curve. This means that the Aeropex offers much better quality than previous models.

The Aeropex is also waterproof and can be submerged in up to 1 meter of water for as long as half an hour. Which is a plus when out running and cycling and its pouring hard with rain. It feels lighter and it is. It is 30% smaller and 13% lighter than the Air headphones and weighing 26g. This is also due to the battery being smaller. However did this affect the battery life? Well no I found that I didn’t need to charge this as much and due to the battery being more powerful AfterShokz claim it can last 2 hours more than their air models putting this up to 8 hours of battery and music life now.

They still feel comfy when on and stay in place when running, this is an important for me as you don’t want to keep stopping midway through a run to sort them out.

So my conclusion is that AfterShokz have improved with their latest model the Aeropex. The new features make the headphones even better. If I am rating this out of 100 I am giving this 90%. I think the price maybe a little steep however if you want a good quality gadget then you’re always going to pay price. They feel fine on and comfy and have an even better sound quality than normal. It is waterproof and was perfect for me to keep motivation up in my long runs and bike rides. Most of all what I like after AfterShokz products is safety, my safety like others is so important and being able to hear your surroundings while out and being safer is a win win for me.

I have a discount code towards AfterShokz Aeropex headphones on Amazon by here, please drop a comment below if you are interested.

Website:https://aftershokz.co.uk/

World Championships and Spetsathlon Sprint Triathlon Update

So arrived at the World Championships in good shape, despite getting a cold and a grumpy tendon, which luckily did not affect my training leading up to this although it was painful. Although I was very worried about my leg as it was getting worse, but once I was tapering and doing easy training it started to ease off. These thing tend to happen a lot to me leading up to a big race.

So I was very confident on a good race on race day, we were staying in Vigo so we were around 20 minutes away from Pontevedra where the race was. So on race day I woke up and felt much better as I was also not feeling as tired. I was very tired that week from illness and walking around London watching my wife run the London Marathon. I have to say watching the London marathon is truly special and highly recommend going up to watch it.

I knew I was in great shape and if I could get through the race with my tendon problem I was confident it would be a good performance for my last World Aquathlon Championships. Race day arrived and I headed to the race, nervous but excited as normal. The event looked like it was going to be another one to remember, people so friendly, athletes chatting to you from across the world, made it have a real buzz about it.

So I got to the start line in the 19-39 year old wave, the temperature of the river was around 13 to 14 degrees so not warm but it seemed a lot colder than that. The first half of the race was up stream and against the current so this was going to be tough. I got into the river and was freezing, I headed to the start line and waited for the horn. The horn went off and my plan was sprint for around 100m metres, the swim was tough with loads of people around me. The first 500m was tough and it felt like it was taking a while. Once I hit the turnaround point it was much quicker being pushed with the current, however I could feel the water was cold and my hands and feet were not warm. I came out into transition which was a long one, about 250m long as I walked the length the day before.

My swim was not my fastest in fact it was my slowest by a few minutes, but this was to be expected in the conditions. I came to my box and took my wetsuit off, I was freezing although it was very warm outside of the river. I then left transition for the run and I was feeling faint and wobbly because of the cold water. After a minute I was warmed up and I attacked the run, hunting athletes down and passing them, I felt good on the run. I came home in 7th in my Age Group and first Brit back. I was over the moon and it was my best performance by far. I couldn’t do much more, my swim could have been better but I can’t complain due to the lack of open water swimming in the UK. My run was the 4th fastest in my race.

I have achieved more than I could ever of dreamed of since qualifying in 2016, 1x European Bronze, 3x top ten World Champs finishes and a National Championship title, Team Captain etc in Aquathlons and to represent GB in my AG at 4 world Championships. As many of you may know as I have achieved everything I wanted to in Aquathlons and this was my final World Aquathlon Championships, I am not shutting the door on Aquathlons but I may come back in future years but next year I won’t be competing for the GB aquathlon team, even though I have an automatic place from this year from today’s result. As I will be concentrating on other sporting and life goals I still have the Europeans and the Nationals to go and now targeting these and who knows I might be back in a different sport but this year was all about me focusing on newer goals.

So I got back from the World Championships and went back to work for a few days before I headed off the Greece to a tiny island called Spetses to do the Spetsathlon Sprint Triathlon. I was kindly invited by the organisers to compete and I thought why not as I am moving more to triathlons this year.

My wife and I left home at 2am in the morning and finally arrived in Spetse at 5.30pm. It was a long day with flying to Athens and getting a boat across to the island. When we arrived the island looked small with no cars around and horse and carts being used a taxi’s. The whole island seemed to have a buzz because of the event.

We arrived at the Klimis Hotel which was a lovely hotel and we had a sea view. The organisers had left a goody bag and some tops with my name on, which were awesome. At 9pm we were invited to have dinner with the organisers and the athletes. That was an amazing experience talking to Elites, Pros and Olympians. Some athletes had gone to the Olympics and come back with medals.

The following day they had swimming races and I was due to race in the 1k swim. However I was just shattered from travelling and decided not to race, but went down to watch. I should of done it now thinking back to it. Later that evening they had a cycle race and the 5k charity race. I went down to watch and my wife was running in the 5k so I watched her and cheered her on. I then picked up my hire bike which I was using for the race.

The whole island was buzzing from the event and the following morning was at the Triathlon event, 750m sea swim, 25k bike ride and 5k run. Everyone headed to the start, the organisers then started announcing the Olympians etc who was competing. I was then announced and I started getting nervous as I was nowhere near their level. The race started and I managed to get on the back of an Olympic medallist and was able to stay with her for all the swim. I hung on and came out with a huge PB, I raced out of the sea onto my hire bike. Unfortunately it wasn’t my own bike so was a struggle. I lost a lot of time on the bike and the course was brutal, it was so hilly my legs were screaming at me. Having lots of people overtaking me wasn’t doing my confidence any good. So I kept thinking to myself, keep the legs spinning eventually you will start to come downhill. I then got back into transition and headed for the run, surprising the legs felt good and I cracked on targeting people one by one. I was getting quicker and quicker the longer I was running and then I finished 13th overall and 3rd in my age group. I was very happy with that considering the level of athletes here. I also had the 2nd quickest run so I was happy with that.

The spestashon was a great event and I highly recommend this event to anyone. I would love to come back and thank you to the organisers for inviting me.

Is a 3D gait analysis important?

My blog here today is about a 3D gait analysis that I had recently at the 8th Element lab in Kent and whether this kind of tool is worth it? I am always keen to combine science with my training. As I have been in many scientific tests in the past that have worked for me and I have shared in recent blogs, I was interested in seeing this. I approached John from 8th Element about coming into his lab for a test. I was very intrigued as my friend Steve had one done and there isn’t many of these types of facilities around.

So what is this exactly? I didn’t really know to be honest what was involved, I knew a little about it apart from it was to do with injury prevention, but once in the lab I was amazed by the data and the set up. You run on a treadmill and there are camera’s positioned around the lab to watch all your body movements. When watching the screen directly in front of you, you can see green dots on your body on the screen and it’s from those dots it takes your running form. So I had to perform a test on the treadmill running at my race pace for 45 seconds and that’s it until you get the results which are instant. Now the interesting thing I found was that the analysis bases its finding on you and not the perfect runner. Which is good because as a coach changing runners’ bio mechanics fully can result in problems. I am interested in the science behind this; you can use science in your running as a powerful tool.

Now what I liked about this was that it gives you results that the a coach cannot necessarily see. My running coach Steve King and myself as I am also a running coach aren’t able to see what a computer can see from its data. I am a data man; I work with data so getting this test done is great as I love the data coming out of it and will always work with data to improve myself.

So with like any gait analysis they are designed to find errors in your technique and the way you run. Some might take it with a pinch of salt some may take it fully on board. For me if there are any errors I need to sort them out or at least have a think about them, just like what I would do with my swimming technique. So what did it find? Well it found a lot, some parts such as different sort of strength training on my off season did play a part. Now the interesting thing for me was ever since I got knocked off my bike last year I have been getting a sore right leg. I didn’t tell John about any of my problems but I wondered if he could pick up on it and he did; he found that my right hip was unstable and had weakness which is causing stresses and forces through my right hip which is causing my lower leg to get stiff because of this. So I was given some hip exercises to do. I won’t go through everything but another thing they found was cadence. The reason I won’t go through everything is some of the findings made me sound like a broken man, however that’s not the case I tend to get low injuries so after talking to my physio and strength coach we only took on board a few points. Let’s face it you can’t work at millions of things at once, only a few at a time. Once we looked at the results we found that my strength work needed stuff that was already implemented in my plan and something I do not need to worry about. Any coach would only recommend to take a few points and work on them. So two key issues I have decided to work on are as follows:

Key Issues:

Structural – Acute right hip instability/weakness: right hip drop causing large stresses and forces through the right hip and compression and limitation/stiffness through the left lower back. This also causes early contact. This early contact forces rapid extension of the knee; from swing to contact and thus stresses through the hamstring due to the rapid eccentric quad movement.

Key Mechanical factors to adjust – Over stride vs heel strike: this is occurring daily due to the inability to create vertical lift without using too much energy. By strengthening the above, the over stride can be adjusted. Thus reducing contact time and lateral forces while also reducing the eccentric forces through the quads – which are the result of over striding (reducing any posterior chain weakness – injury).

This in turn will allow for less energy wastage and more performance gains.

So what will I do about this? So my right hip is a bit tight, I am going to make it looser by doing simple exercises by standing on the edge of a step with one foot off the step and moving my hip up and down while keeping all legs straight. The next thing is cadence. I know I have a long stride, so by shortening this and making sure it is shorter when I run, by bringing feet closer to hips and try to up my cadence to 190 beats per minute, I should see improved performance and the risk of injury lower.

My conclusion is that for the cost of a higher end running shoe you can benefit from this test if you can afford it. Combining science is important but also it is not always the best way. For someone that has low injuries I personally think that the amount of corrections and problems it found with my running form was a bit too much to process at one time. However if you take some of this on board you can minimise the injury risk and improve your running form. I think it’s worth it but be aware you may get a long list of problems which are not necessary problems they may just need small tweaks done to them.

Warm-ups – do you do them & why they are important

Lots of people do not do warm ups before their sessions so I wrote a short blog.

A warm up can be defined as a period or act of preparation for a performance or exercise session, involving gentle exercise or practice. This is also known as the pre-match warm up.

With anything in sport if you don’t warm up the muscles you will get injured; you need to get your body loosened up ready to go. Thousands of people every Saturday turn up to parkrun and stand there waiting for it to start and then fun hard with no warm up, this can bring on injuries. I do wonder how many people get injured from this as a result from going from one extreme to another. The younger runners are the worst and think they don’t need to do this. No warm up is just going to end in disaster purely because your body is going from being cold to trying to get it to work at its max.

Warm ups don’t have to be complex and can be easy. Ii warm up for every session and before my races. On speed sessions and race day I do a structured 9 minute warm up.  For example my running warm up is 3 minutes at an easy pace and a certain heart rate zone, I then ramp it up for the next 3 minutes which is my 60-70% heart max and for the final 3 minutes I go 90% heart rate max and this gets me ready to race and works all the energy systems. Since doing this warm up I have gone into sessions and races hitting my target times.

A warm up doesn’t need to be complex it can start off with a brisk walk for something like 3 minutes. This is ideal as it is low intensity and eases you into it and then you can pick the pace up. Adding strides helps the blood flow more and activates your fast-twitch muscle fibres. I would also throw in some dynamic stretches such as squats.

Once you have done a warm up you are ready to go. You have to experiment and see what works best for you. I do hear quite often that runners say it takes them a few miles to get going; but these same people haven’t done a warm up. I think you need to make sure you hit your energy systems so you are ready to perform your best. No point turning up to a race saying it took me two miles to get going and missed out on a PB/medal etc. It’s important you give your body a little taster of what you are going to expect.

Some things I see before races is people stand at the start lines cold and stretching but doing static stretches. This is also a chance for a disaster to pull a muscle. There’s tons of stuff on the internet so see what drills, dynamic stretches and warm up you would like to do and have a go. But remember warm up is key to get you ready and going.

I also took part in a research study on the benefits of a well-structured warm up and if you can improve from this. I did this last year with Hannah from the Kent University sports department and found that it improved me. Now I mentioned earlier about my 9 minute warm up and this is where I got my warm up from. Before I used to just run an easy mile which didn’t do me any benefit at all. So the science behind this study was to get me running my speed sessions and races faster as I was fully warmed up and my body was ready to go race pace.

So this study included me doing this warm up twice a week. I used it on my weekly speed sessions and races throughout a three month period. Each month I had to perform my warm up as planned on a track with Hannah, so 3 minutes easy, 3 minutes long run heart rate and 3 minutes race pace. She then took blood samples every 3 minutes to see how my body was reacting. I then had short breaks where I did other samples and went back out on the track and ran 12 minutes as hard as I could without looking at my watch. So quite hard to pace if you are not used to not using your watch. The first test of the study covered 3,040 metres, which I was a little disappointed with because I thought I would be covering more distance. However, every month after that I had improved by the last test and had run 400m more in total. A huge improvement, so it shows that you can improve with just a structured warm up before your races and training. The point of this was to get you fully warmed up and ready for your session/race therefore in theory able to run faster/harder instead of taking a while to warm up.


Vorgee Vortech & Stealth MKII Goggles review


It is important to get the right goggles to use and there are so many factors that you need to consider before purchasing a pair such as: are they suitable for outdoor swimming and races?  Vorgee kindly sent me some pairs to test and review. A little bit of background to the company, Vorgee is an Australian owned company which was established in 2005. By providing products from beginners to competitive swimmers. So being an Australian company and Australia having a track record of outstanding swimmers I was very interested in testing their products. I got to test the Vorgee Vortech and Stealth MkII swimming goggles so onto my review.

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Vorgee Vortech swimming goggles were the first up to test and below are some quick features:

• Soft frame unibody for added comfort and a softer fit
• Soft but firm gasket to hold correct position away from the face
• Ultra vision lens – a curved lens which offers greater clarity and wide high grade silicone dual band to ensure correct strap positioning and fit
• Anti fog injection
• UVA and UVB protection
• Exclusively endorsed by Swim Australia

First impressions were that they looked good but I thought the grey clips on the side looked a bit cheap. I think it was because the colour makes it look slightly cheap plastic. However I am not too worried about that but it could be something to change in the future. They don’t look flashy; I like goggles to have tinted lenses but that is my preference. However this type of goggle is bulky and this is what I like in goggles and are the type I use in races and outdoor swimming. I found it was a perfect fit and the grey levers are easy to do up and tighten up. I am also a big fan of this type of rubber strap and design. It is very light; this is due to the ultralight gasket and frame to provide less pressure around the face and for comfort.

I tested these in the pool and open water; no leaks whilst swimming so that’s a win win, they felt very comfortable and no problems of them feeling too tight or leaving marks on my face. What I was impressed by was that wherever I was swimming the goggles did not fog up. They were clear and did the job.

My conclusion is that although they look like normal swimming goggles, a few minor upgrades to the looks (so that the grey levers don’t look too cheap) and having tinted lenses would make the goggle stand out hugely. I think these are great goggles; they are comfy and do not fog up. They are at a good retail price with some retailers pricing them under £16. I would take “great goggles” anytime over “flashy goggles”.

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So on to Stealth MkII review; first impressions were that they looked very flashy. I liked the colour and design, they stand out and this is what I like. But did they do the job? Vorgee have designed this as ultralight low resistance racing goggles. I don’t race with these types of goggles as I like my race goggles bulky because most of my races are open water. But that is a personal preference. Below are the key features of the Stealth MKII:

• Race goggles
• Curved silver mirror lens for an increased wide angle vision of up to 140°
• 3D seal design
• High grade silicone, dual band strap with Quick Fit Strap Adjustment
• Anti-fog coating for enhanced visual clarity
• 4 interchangeable nose bridges
• UVA and UVB Protection

When using them they felt very comfy and light. However I had a problem with the dual band straps; I struggled to do them up and get them in the right place and Ii was not overly keen on them. I preferred the other type of goggle straps but these types of straps were very robust and a low chance of the straps snapping. They did not fog up and they were very clear. However when swimming open water I sometimes got a little leak but once I did them up they were fine; I don’t think I did them up right.

My conclusion is that they are not goggles for me purely for the strap reason; I can never get that right. Nevertheless they were comfy and looked flash. They are great pool goggles but not so sure about using them outside. I like the colour design and maybe a recommendation is that in the future they do a different strap design. So overall I really like the Vortech the best; they felt great and did the job.

Do you train with a Plan?How to structure your training around your daily life

Scheduling training around your daily life commitments can be hard for a number of reasons such as family commitments, working hours and so on. For me it is very difficult because not only do I have a full time job I have to do all my training after work and around spending time with my wife, family and friends which is very tough. So I decided to right a blog on how to structure your plan. Being a running coach and being coached myself I have lots of knowledge on making a plan.

For me I always start the day with a cup of Green Tea. Then I sit down and look at a six week plan with an easy week on the 7th week that has more rest and stripped down training. My plan is also my diary so before I schedule any training I first write down all my commitments for that 7 week period so I can work around those.

 

With any plan you don’t want to go straight into hard training so all my training starts off at my baseline and gets increased each week for three weeks, the following three weeks I just maintain my training and for the 7th week as mentioned before it’s an easy week with less reps and duration of training etc. In peak season I may change my plan to a three to four week plan, working around my races and getting plenty of recovery. So its important you get the right balance for you.

So if you are like me and you are training for a triathlon you will be putting in 3 disciplines: Running, Cycling and Swimming. I also put 2 strength sessions into a week to prevent injuries and make me stronger. For me I need to fit in the following each week:

3-4 Runs

3-4 Swims

2 Strength sessions

2-3 Bike sessions

If I am struggling to fit in a session as my day hasn’t gone to plan, then I will try and reschedule it. If your struggling to get out and train due to many reasons, if you can get out and it’s only a short session its better than nothing; but remember rest and recovery is key. Numerous research papers show that having a week off from training doesn’t do too much to your fitness but after that your fitness declines quickly.

So I take my key sessions from each area and plot them on my plan. So my key running sessions will be one of my speed sessions and one long run. This is very similar to swimming; I will have an aerobic, a speed session and drill session which will be my key sessions for that discipline. Once I have worked out my key sessions, I make sure that my hard sessions are followed up by easy sessions. I never have hard session together. Once I have done that I move on to the other sessions and plot this into the plan making sure I get one day full rest a week and two for my recovery week.

Sound easy? Well not really because you then need to figure out the session you want to do. For example, no point me putting in four easy runs if I want to get faster. Once you have the basis of the plan you can then work out what sessions you want to do to achieve your goals.

If you are planning for a marathon you will want to do longer speed reps than if you were running a 5k. For example at least two of my runs I run at 60% my heart rate max. The reason I run these is that it has been proven that running at a slower pace on your long runs increases your endurance and improves your efficiently which in time will make you faster. When running at this pace not only does it do that it teaches your body to burn fat more than carbohydrates which is a much better energy source to use. By doing these runs at this pace you also make your body recover and feel fresh the next day so you can go hard on your hard days. On the early days of my running I would go hard on my long runs and be very sore the next day, now with a slower pace my legs feel fresh the next day.

Remember that the plan may always need to change so be prepared to change things up regularly and because it’s in the plan it doesn’t necessary mean you need to do it because life does get in the way.

With any plan make sure its aimed for your ultimate goal, it’s like a jigsaw puzzle with small goals making the parts and once you put it altogether it should reach your ultimate goal. I like to set high targets and sometimes may not be able to achieve them. But having high targets makes you work towards them and train hard to get to them. So for example some of my mini goals for this year included improve swimming, improve running times, PB in certain races etc My main target was getting on the podium of the National Aquathlon Championships. So its very important to think ahead for the year and not just short term. When planning your plan make sure you have small targets, followed by one big target/goal. So if you are planning a marathon for example your training will build up to it followed by races leading up to it. That leads me on to the next part.

Whatever your goal is you need to build the plan for this. Most importantly, if it’s leading to one race you need to find races to build up and plot them in your plan and target them. There can be a number of reasons why you chose races in your plan and these can be things like building up the race distance or purely race practice and so on. Once you have done your races your pretty much ready to go and start training with your new plan.

Every session has a purpose and don’t go wasting time on junk miles etc. Make sure you know what you want to get out of every session. It might be as simple as running a mile and then next week increasing to two miles.

There is one more important aspect when thinking about you plan. Its fine to keep training and making sure you get easy and recovery weeks, but you must remember whatever target race you do, you need to taper for it so that you can peak and be the best you can be on race day.

Tapering plays lots of mind games, phantom pains, am I losing fitness etc ignore these factors and make sure you have a well-placed taper in place. For my races which are short, such as the World Aquathlon Championships, I will start bringing the following down over a course of weeks as it’s a big race for me. So for strength training the amount sets I do gets reduced over a few weeks and on race week I don’t do a strength session. Running distance comes down but the intensity stays high. So for example if I normally do 6x1k reps I might do 4 with different paces etc. Long runs come down too, I do the similar thing for the bike and swimming. I don’t taper for every race but for my important races this is what I normally do. Marathon plans etc will need a longer taper. Again you have to find what works best for you.

Once you have done your plan you need to access it regular and see if its working for you, your plan will change a lot. You also need to assess yourself with tests during your plan. My plan will include a long run at the same heart rate and place towards the end of my programme, so I can assess the data. I will do other assessments throughout to.  Anyway I hope this is helpful and if you need any help, give me a message.

 

 

STRENGTH TRAINING FOR RUNNERS – CRAIG COGGLE (PT)

I started working with Craig in October 2016 to get me in top shape ready for each season and with his help I have had successful seasons. He has written a blog for me about strength training to help others out.

So you are a runner and you want to go faster, you just need to do more running, right? To a certain point you would be correct, but what if you could increase the power that you exert into the floor to propel you along! Surely that would make you faster too?

There are many reasons for you to hit the weight rack with increased strength, increased power, injury prevention etc. etc. but let’s look at the key aspects of what you need to cover to get you moving faster:

  • Leg strength;
  • Gluteal Strength;
  • Core Stability; and
  • Explosiveness.

Using a mix of strength and ballistic/plyometric exercise will get you the results that you need.  Ballistic and plyometric exercises require a great deal of force to rapidly and repeatedly get you off the ground and reduce your foot contact time with the floor.

For a runner, strength training is important in order to increase the amount of force that the body can produce by increasing the stability of the joints, control of movement and importantly the strength of muscles.  This new found strength combined with plyometrics will make you a more powerful runner, force x speed = power.

Plyometrics is a very overused word within the training community, truly plyometric exercises would require a contact time with the floor of less than 0.2 seconds, anything more than this and the exercise would become a ballistic one.  For true speed development plyometrics would be your best route to get the firing mechanisms within the calf and Achilles to work at their full potential.  To put it basically if you pull an elastic band and fire it, it will cover a few feet, but if you pull it fully and fire it, it will travel faster for a much further distance.  This is what we are trying to achieve, so lets get a more powerful and faster you moving forwards…

The Programme –

2 sessions per week as well as your normal running training. These strength sessions will be built up of a combination of supersets and tri-sets to make your training time the most efficient possible (supersets and tri-sets is a fancy way of saying exercise’s put together without a rest)

3 sets of 8-10 reps of each sequence of exercises

Sequence 1 Sequence 2 Sequence 3
Squat Bulgarian split squats Bosu single leg balance
Ballistic Lunges Pogo (plyometric) A-Steps
Press ups (with a jump if possible) Bent over row Plank Rotation

 

Establishing the right weight would benefit you greatly but take it easy and don’t rush too much you should feel like you could perform 1 or 2 more reps at the end of every set if you feel like you could do another 10 its time to put that weight up!

The Squat is one of the most simple and best “compound” exercises for developing leg strength and core stability.  Some key aspects to performing this exercise would be to keep the core engaged, your chest lifted, upper back engaged with the bar pulled into your shoulders, and most importantly you need your hips to drop below the centre of the knee with the knees tracking over your toes. The reason for this is to protect your knees and the best hamstring and glute activation happens when you break parallel.

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With ballistic lunges be stable and be safe, slow them down really concentrating on landing and producing an upward explosive force for you to jump and change your feet.

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Press ups are great for improving upper body strength, but remember to hold that core in tight especially if you are making it ballistic. To make it ballistic you would exert a force to allow your hands to come off the floor and absorb the landing, if you wanted to get fancy you could always add a clap!

 

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The bulgarian split squat is great for single leg development, with your rear foot elevated on a bench you want to sink until your front leg achieves 90% angle at the knee by driving your back knee down towards the floor.

 

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Pogo’s are the easiest plyometric exercise to perform both feet together and flexed ,legs straight and you are looking to produce a jump by striking you forefoot off the floor with no upper leg help. If you feel like an idiot doing this o r struggle skipping would be a good alternative.

Bent over rows are great for the upper body, nice flat back parallel to the floor, soft knees and core engaged start to pull the barbell up your thighs towards your waist concentrating on squeezing your shoulder blades together.

 

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Bosu single leg balance, we are trying to increase the stability of your ankles with the bosu dome side up you will stand on top for as long as you can. If you are a balance ninja and find this really easy try moving the other leg around to challenge your balance.

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A-steps are a classic knee drive running drill to encourage an athlete to drive there knees higher whilst running and thus encouraging the cycle movement required for speed.

Plank Rotations are great for upper body strength and core stability. If you feel this in your back there is something wrong with your initial set up. I know people say you need to be straight in a plank which is true but its your skeleton that needs to be straight with a flat pelvis. Remember your bum is attached to the outside of your skeleton.

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And there it is your basic strength plan to get you running stronger and faster. For video guidance of this article please go along and have a look at my you tube channel where you will find Strength training for runners video covering everything we did in this article.

You Tube Craig ‘Coggles Fitness’ Coggle

Safe running guys!

Craig Coggle

Cogglesfitness@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

So you are a runner and you want to go faster, you just need to do more running, right? To a certain point you would be correct, but what if you could increase the power that you exert into the floor to propel you along! Surely that would make you faster too?

There are many reasons for you to hit the weight rack with increased strength, increased power, injury prevention etc. etc. but let’s look at the key aspects of what you need to cover to get you moving faster:

  • Leg strength;
  • Gluteal Strength;
  • Core Stability; and

Using a mix of strength and ballistic/plyometric exercise will get you the results that you need.  Ballistic and plyometric exercises require a great deal of force to rapidly and repeatedly get you off the ground and reduce your foot contact time with the floor.

For a runner, strength training is important in order to increase the amount of force that the body can produce by increasing the stability of the joints, control of movement and importantly the strength of muscles.  This new found strength combined with plyometrics will make you a more powerful runner, force x speed = power.

Plyometrics is a very overused word within the training community, truly plyometric exercises would require a contact time with the floor of less than 0.2 seconds, anything more than this and the exercise would become a ballistic one.  For true speed development plyometrics would be your best route to get the firing mechanisms within the calf and Achilles to work at their full potential.  To put it basically if you pull an elastic band and fire it, it will cover a few feet, but if you pull it fully and fire it, it will travel faster for a much further distance.  This is what we are trying to achieve, so lets get a more powerful and faster you moving forwards…

The Programme –

2 sessions per week as well as your normal running training. These strength sessions will be built up of a combination of supersets and tri-sets to make your training time the most efficient possible (supersets and tri-sets is a fancy way of saying exercise’s put together without a rest)

3 sets of 8-10 reps of each sequence of exercises

Sequence 1 Sequence 2 Sequence 3
Squat Bulgarian split squats Bosu single leg balance
Ballistic Lunges Pogo (plyometric) A-Steps
Press ups (with a jump if possible) Bent over row Plank Rotation

 

 

Establishing the right weight would benefit you greatly but take it easy and don’t rush too much you should feel like you could perform 1 or 2 more reps at the end of every set if you feel like you could do another 10 its time to put that weight up!

The Squat is one of the most simple and best “compound” exercises for developing leg strength and core stability.  Some key aspects to performing this exercise would be to keep the core engaged, your chest lifted, upper back engaged with the bar pulled into your shoulders, and most importantly you need your hips to drop below the centre of the knee with the knees tracking over your toes. The reason for this is to protect your knees and the best hamstring and glute activation happens when you break parallel.

 

 

 

 

With ballistic lunges be stable and be safe, slow them down really concentrating on landing and producing an upward explosive force for you to jump and change your feet.

Press ups are great for improving upper body strength, but remember to hold that core in tight especially if you are making it ballistic. To make it ballistic you would exert a force to allow your hands to come off the floor and absorb the landing, if you wanted to get fancy you could always add a clap!

 

 

 

 

 

The bulgarian split squat is great for single leg development, with your rear foot elevated on a bench you want to sink until your front leg achieves 90% angle at the knee by driving your back knee down towards the floor.

 

 

 

 

Pogo’s are the easiest plyometric exercise to perform both feet together and flexed ,legs straight and you are looking to produce a jump by striking you forefoot off the floor with no upper leg help. If you feel like an idiot doing this o r struggle skipping would be a good alternative.

Bent over rows are great for the upper body, nice flat back parallel to the floor, soft knees and core engaged start to pull the barbell up your thighs towards your waist concentrating on squeezing your shoulder blades together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bosu single leg balance, we are trying to increase the stability of your ankles with the bosu dome side up you will stand on top for as long as you can. If you are a balance ninja and find this really easy try moving the other leg around to challenge your balance.

A-steps are a classic knee drive running drill to encourage an athlete to drive there knees higher whilst running and thus encouraging the cycle movement required for speed.

Plank Rotations are great for upper body strength and core stability. If you feel this in your back there is something wrong with your initial set up. I know people say you need to be straight in a plank which is true but its your skeleton that needs to be straight with a flat pelvis. Remember your bum is attached to the outside of your skeleton.

And there it is your basic strength plan to get you running stronger and faster. For video guidance of this article please go along and have a look at my you tube channel where you will find Strength training for runners video covering everything we did in this article.

You Tube Craig ‘Coggles Fitness’ Coggle

Safe running guys!

Craig Coggle

Cogglesfitness@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

European and Season Review

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My season has come to an end and I am now having a rest period. Firstly It has been a great season – I have been on the podium 7 out of 9 Aquathlon races, 2 were race wins and a National Championships. I gained 3rd place in an sea 3k swim, 2nd in my first triathlon for nearly 6 years and in running races I broke a course record in a 5k, which I won. I also came runner up in another 5k. I was the Team Captain for both the European and World Aquathlon Championships for the GB team. I will be back at these races next year. I will be focusing more on multi-sport next year and will be racing in more triathlons too so its going to be exciting.

I want to thank everyone for all the support over the years and I have achieved so much since I started running and swimming in 2012. When I have a bad race I always look how far I have come, things like I couldn’t swim in 2012, being injured a lot, winning National and European medals since competing in Aquathlons in 2015, representing GB for my Age Group and being the team captain makes me very proud and hopefully my blogs and social media updates of my journey inspire others.

So onto the European Championships – a few days before I got the dreaded 5am flight over, so only having a few hours’ sleep and having to leave at 1.30am to get to the airport I was shattered but excited. We arrived in Ibiza at 9am and on the first day we did a lot of walking and looking at the sites with a couple of friends that came over the watch. I had to do a 40 min easy run that day, followed by a swim recce with a lot of the team as I organised it.

The following day I woke up feeling very ache, assuming because of the lack of sleep  from the previous day. However I had two rest days before the race. Race day approached and I was feeling very confident although still a bit sore and achy from a few days prior. The race was in the evening so I chilled out in the hotel room and relaxed and went through my race plan. I knew I was in the best shape I have ever been and couldn’t wait for the race. I met my friends and wife in the afternoon for lunch for 2pm. With a 6pm race start time I thought that was plenty of time. I then headed down to the race where I had to be out of transition at 4.30pm.

It was nice chatting to friends and after that I shut myself off from people and listened to music and prepared myself for the race. At 5.10pm I went for my warm-up which is very early but this was because we had to get onto a boat to the start of the swim. I did my warm-up and then the organisers were running late which meant by the time we got on the boat it was 6pm.

We headed off on the boat to the start line, everyone boarded the board and the boat started playing music very loudly which made it hard to chat to people. I liked the bit when we were getting on the boat and the Eye of the Tiger was playing.  We then jumped into the water one by one and waited for everyone to get in. The horn sounded and off we went. It was a non wet-suit swim and I pushed very hard at the start, I did get kicked in the face but hey that happens all the time in mass swims. I had a lot of space and when I came out of the sea I thought I had an ok swim but not my best as I didn’t feel tired.

I came out of transition and started to push hard on the run. The course was tight and tricky and on the zig zag bit just after transition I fell and slipped over. I felt my ankle go crack and a shooting pain, I then picked myself up quickly and carried on running with discomfort for a few minutes. I tried not to think about it and I carried on running. On lap two I was caught by a GB guy in my race and all of a sudden I picked up the pace and stuck with him until he went passed me at the last few meters. I finished 13th but later the result was changed to 14th – I assume someone had a penalty and appealed it. I didn’t think I had a great race as my time was well off and my run was not where I thought it would be. I wasn’t tired at the end of the race which was weird. But I came home in 35:46.

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So what everyone does is analyse their race and what went right or wrong. I am not going to be tough on myself or complain. It was just a long season where for me I didn’t perform to my best on the day and sometimes this is how it goes. Mentally when I fell I think that had a huge impact on my performance but these things happen. This is a learning curve and for next year I will be working on the mental aspect of my racing and the “what ifs something goes wrong”. A positive is that I finished strongly on the last mile. I will try to make sure a warm up is done closer to the race next time. I am going to maintain my running and swimming, will try to improve a little on those in the winter but the main focus will be on the bike.  I have started looking at my A races and B races so next year and it will be an even better season.

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Don’t be critical about your performances, take the positives and work with them. I will be back next year giving it my all. Now time for rest and easy training.

Green Cola Review

IMG_9141 (1)I do like to drink fizzy drinks now and again as a treat, but we all know that most of them are not healthy for you and contain chemicals. Therefore it is very rare for me to drink these types of drinks. I am always on the lookout for healthier drinks and that taste nice as I am always wanting to be careful with what I put inside my body as you don’t know what the effects will be later on in life. Green Cola is a British independent family business that care about their customers.

So I tried Green Cola, which is meant to be healthier and does not contain nasty chemicals inside. After seeing Green Cola in supermarkets and advertising at events I was very interested to see what Green Cola was like. After checking the ingredients, I noticed that it didn’t contain the following:

No Sugar

No Aspartame

No Phosphoric Acids

No Preservation

Instead of these chemicals it is naturally sweetened with Stevia – for people that don’t know, Stevia is a natural sweetener extracted from the Stevia Rebaudiana plant.

I wasn’t sure what the taste would be like and was under the impression if you take out the sugar and sweeteners it wouldn’t taste nice. But I was very surprised how nice it tasted. Going healthy is very important these days and is a big market. Finding an alternative to something you like and for it to be healthier is very tough.

I have to admit I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this, but when drinking it, it felt freshening and with the fact it had no fat or saturates made it even more appealing whilst still containing that cola taste. It tasted nice and pleasant and didn’t leave me feeling bloated or a bit rough after drinking it for the rest of the day.

So my conclusion is that it does taste nice and is a healthy alternative, I do like treating myself so I will have to treat myself to this more often. You can check them out HERE