Top 10 tips to run efficiently

 

I have written a blog on my top 10 tips on how to run efficiently and therefore help you get PB’s and improve your running. This is what I have learnt over the years from experience and from my coaching courses. It’s not in depth, as I can go on for ever, so it is a brief overview. I hope it helps you to reach your goals.

 

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Technique

Firstly and most importantly is your technique – this is so important in being able to run efficiently, the problem is most runners ignore this or just simply start running without realising this. The most efficient way is to be tall and arms to be at a 90 degrees angle with them being relaxed your shoulders. This allows you to take in more oxygen and use less energy. A good coach will help you with your technique or at running clubs. However an easy solution is to get someone to film you while you run. You can then analyse it with good form and technique videos from the internet.

 

Drills

Drills are very important and this is neglected by many runners. You can notice runners neglecting this. Before any sessions, knee raises and walking lunges can help with your technique and form. There is a wide range of drills which you can see on the internet. This will improve form and make you use less energy. My favourite is knee raises and then doing strides with high knees. Walking lunges with a 90 degrees arm action is another good one to improve technique. You don’t need to do too much, just a few minutes at the start of each run.

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Strength

 

 

Working on strength is very important, you would be surprised the amount of people who do not do any strength training. Doing strength training such as core work and glutes not only keeps the injuries to a minimal but does in fact make you stronger, faster and most importantly keeps the injuries to a minimal. This makes you stronger so when your body is fatigued in training/races you can still produce good times as your body will be used to this. Plenty of core work such as press ups, sit ups and planks will work a treat. Clams, lunges and squats work well for your glutes and lower body.

 

Run tall

Running tall allows you to run effectively and efficiently, if you run tall you can get more oxygen into your lungs which will make you run better. To run tall you need to work on your core and keep conscious of your running. If you know you are making the mistake you can correct this. This can be by getting someone to film you whilst running.

 

Run Cadence

Run cadence is important and will not only improve form but will also make you more efficient and quicker. This is done by interval training, if you run mile reps all the time you may have a long stride but the cadence is slow. By simply adding sprint work such as 100m/200m/400m reps into your regular running plan you will improve the cadence.

 

Have a plan

Having a plan and structure on what sessions you have to do is important in keeping focus and the key to being motivated and improving yourself. Having any sort of plan will measure your progress and what works and does not work for you. Most people go hard too much so having a structure will help you improve. Having a period where you train then having an easy week every so often is vital. I work in 6-9 week blocks depending on the time of my season. I always have plenty rest days and easy weeks in my training regularly.  So for example in a 6 week period of training I will slowly ramp up the training and intensity, then maintain it for 6 weeks, while not over doing it. I then have an easy week with two rest days with training all stripped back. However I still keep the intensity up but for example if I was doing 4 mile reps before I will do 2 mile reps.

 

Don’t train all year round, your body needs to recover and runners are awful for this. Having a week or two off in a quiet period will help your body recover. You will come back refreshed and could even be running quicker a few weeks later. But remember if you are injured that does not count as full rest.

 

Long easy runs

Long easy runs are your butter on your bread. Long runs make you more efficient, if you do not over train and keep going out hard. Most people go wrong in this area and always run race pace in their long runs. What this does is make you over train and therefore cause injuries. By slowing yourself down and running at 60% to 70% of your heart rate max you should not feel tired and in theory be able to train again the following day. By doing this you are able to make yourself more efficient and go harder on your speed sessions.

 

Stretch

Stretching regularly will help make you more efficient, maintain form and keep the injuries away. Stretching after training and races is very important; I stretch every morning, before bed and after a training session.

 

Hydrate

It is vital to keep hydrated at all times, not only is it a source of food for your muscles it keeps cramps and injuries away. I never run dehydrate as that will cause problems – drinking plenty of water helps my muscles strong and flush out any lactic and soreness.

 

Shoes

Highly recommend you get a gait analysis to see if you are running in the right shoes. This can be done in running shops such as the Bay Running Shop and they even do it online too. By doing this you will discover if you are a neutral runner or over pronate. This will keep the injuries to a minimal and also can aide to a performance gain.

 

All these parts are like a puzzle and when implemented and put into place it makes you a stronger and more efficient runner. Have a go and see what happens.

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Building self-confidence in running

 

 

There is no doubt that runners thrive on high levels of confidence. Indeed, self-confidence can be the difference between success and failure given the fine margins that exist in running. Despite this, we must acknowledge that self-confidence is like a rollercoaster that fluctuates between high and low.  This blog identifies 12 key steps in raising your own levels of self-confidence.

 

  1. Remember that somebody believes in you. This somebody could be a coach, manager, trainer or fellow club runner. They will have the belief in your ability that you currently may not have. There is no harm in asking them for reassurances.
  2. Think in positive ways at all times. Positivity can be developed by assessing each day (training) and competition sessions. Assess your own positivity through forms of achievement through technique, practice and movement. Thinking positively leads to better mind and body balance. Positive thinking enables the neural pathways within the mind to operate with clarity and purpose. 
  3. Understand that it can be done. Embark on each task as a champion by having a clear and defined plan. Achieve your task step by step. Do not take on a big task and expect to complete it quickly. Have patience and believe in yourself. Rome was never built in a day.
  4. Stay in control of the controllable. Maintaining the controllable builds self-confidence because it provides you with a sense of focus and directive. Remember that you can never control what others are thinking/doing but you can control what you are achieving. There are a range of variables within running that can lead to performers losing sight of the controllable. External factors/influences will only hinder performance and must be beaten.
  5. Engage in mental preparation. One should work on engaging their mind onto each task they embark on. Mental preparation can follow many trends like, mindfulness, imagery, reflective thinking, positive self-talk, goal setting, meditation and concentration training amongst others. One should find a strategy that works for them and then use this to provide that inner desire to build confidence. There has been plenty of evidence within elite sport of the use of mental preparation. Mental preparation is useful as it can support the levels of self-confidence required to perform.
  6. Recall previous success. A mantra that I use is related to distance travelled. Think about previous successes that you have had. What did that feel like? How were your emotions during this time? Further, how confident did that make you feel? Recall is a positive mechanism to enable one to re-build confidence as it associates with belief.
  7. Performance must be consistent. Successful runners build confidence because they are consistent and appreciate the value of success. Consistency is like a habit that is formed through experience of situations. In other words, the more you do the better you become at the task in hand. Elite runners will work hard and do whatever to achieve their ultimate aim. 
  8. Be constructive in own self-evaluation. Through self-evaluation one can become more effective at building self-confidence. Building your own level of evaluation will enable you to become critical. But it also enables you to build on this critique to create higher levels of confidence. Alex Ferguson suggested that he learnt more from losing than success. This is true of most successful performers as they use defeat/backward steps/rejection to fuel the fire to comeback stronger.
  9. Reflect positively following performances. There is no doubt that the more you reflect the better you become at practice/competition. Reflective practice relates to becoming aware of your strengths and identifying areas that you can improve. Therefore, logically the more you reflect the higher chance you will increase your self-confidence levels. For example, runners should use training and competition settings to reflect robustly.
  10. Continuously set short-term goals. Most runners suffer from low self-confidence because they allow the issue(s) to prolong and as a consequence fail to deal with problems head on. To overcome these issues, set short-term goals that will enable the flow of confidence (no matter how small) to start. Through constantly achieving your short-term goals you will build your levels of self-confidence like a snowball growing bigger. Short-term goals should be related to processes that can be achieved.
  11. Respect yourself and don’t be too harsh on own performances. Life is about trial and error. Runners should learn from the many challenges that they face. However, runners must not be too harsh and should take regular breaks when needed. Runners should eat well and sleep well. Runners should respect mind and body. It is through respect that runners can learn to rebuild confidence.
  12. Focus leads to natural confidence. When focused there is no doubt that body language is good. Therefore, runners should develop focus through appreciating what is required and build this through application. Runners should address concerns and tackle any issues early. Confidence building is about remaining resilient in the face of pressure.

 

This Blog was written by Gobinder my confidence coach and he has helped me in achieving my goals. I wasn’t sure at first why I needed him but once we worked together I found that he opened my mind to this and I did need him. I think differently now and reflect on my races and training where if something goes wrong I control the controllable and do not panic.

Psychological Edge

Wetsuit protection…..

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I am excited to announce my partnership with The Dry Bag Company who will be supporting me throughout the winter and into the 2018 season. Dry is a new company whose vision is to make your life easier by designing and manufacturing equipment to store, protect and dry your wetsuit. The product they have launched with is called The Dry Bag.

My wetsuits degrade quickly and do not last a full season, which is annoying as they are very expensive. After a race or training session I would normally leave my wetsuit in a bag soaked and covered with sand. Sometimes, and (only sometimes!) I would wash it and let it dry in the bathroom over the shower door, resulting in an unhappy wife and a puddle on the floor!

When I saw The Dry Bag in a triathlon magazine I got in touch with them – I thought the idea was great and a product I could do with to help protect my wetsuit and get more use out of it. Let’s face it you don’t want to be paying £300 plus a every year for a new wetsuit.

The Dry bag is based around 3 key areas:

Storage

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Protection

Storage: Store your wetsuit in a ventilated environment and avoid using ordinary hangers which puts stress on the shoulders of your wetsuit and will lead to it stretching over time. The Dry Bag lets you hang your wetsuit in a wardrobe whilst avoiding getting l’odeur neoprene on all your clothes. The Dry Hanger takes 25kg in drop weight and the arm of the hanger has been specially designed so you can fold your wetsuit in half and easily store it in the recommended way. The design of the hanger means you can also fit up to 2 wetsuit on the hanger – be efficient and store all your wetsuits in one place.

Drying: The Dry Bag will help you dry your wetsuit, with an estimated drying time of 4-6 hours (depending on the environment) your wetsuit will be ready for the next adventure. The water reservoir at the base collects dripping water so you won’t bring the mess indoors with you, and with a capacity of 5 litres it will easily take the residual water. Released by a plug at the base you can be assured of no mess indoors.

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Protection: Offering 3 x more protection than without, The Dry Bag will help you get more life from your wetsuit. Slinging it over garden fences to bake in the sun will damage the seams and degrade neoprene. Hanging your wetsuit in a Dry Bag will mean you can still hang it in the sun to dry quickly safe in the knowledge it will be protected from UV rays and will stay flexible for when you need it next. It will also be protected during travelling whether in a car, train or on foot – you’ll no longer have to worry about snagging your wetsuit and having those dreaded holes that let water in and lead to inefficiency when in the water.

 

My Dry bag arrived and I put it to the test. I realised I hadn’t done anything with my wetsuit since my last race a few months back and it was still sandy and damp from my last race. I’ve come to realise how important it is to protect your wetsuit to avoid shelling out more money not to mention putting on a damp smelly suit every session. The Dry Bag retails at £60 so if I can prolong the lifespan of my wetsuit and it saves me money in the long run then it’s money well spent.

I washed my wetsuit and put it in the bag, I came back the following day and it was bone dry. I then opened the water reservoir, released the plug and let the water run out. I then left my wetsuit in the bag and put it in the cupboard which is perfect as before I would crumble it into a bag (which again isn’t great for a wetsuit!). A great product for protection and storage, the hanger design stops your wetsuit from stretching at the shoulders. There are many uses for the bag and I reckon it will come in handy for cross-country racing this winter to contain and soggy clothes after the race so I don’t get mud all over my car!

My conclusion is that this product is worth every penny and is a must for athletes keen to protect and prolong the life of their wetsuit. It’s compact when not in use, and when in use, it can fit in your wardrobe easily as well as being easy to transport. Now is the time to invest in a Dry Bag to protect your wetsuit while not using it over the winter, and come spring you’ll be ready to dive in the open water.

And I can confirm, although born in the surfing world it’s definitely not just for surfers, it is for athletes doing aquathlons, triathlons, aquabike and outdoor swimmers alike.

Have a look yourself on their website DRY

 

 

 

6 Success Secrets

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I have written this blog to help others and share my ideas that have worked for me.

Nutrition

Nutrition is very important in your life and for your training. It is about doing the basics consistently and well. This is something that you have to get right and this aids improvements and helps with recovery. Eating healthy is the key and trying to stay off processed foods. I eat a lot of fresh vegetables and fruit on a daily basis. I eat much more than the recommended 5 a day from the government. In fact in the 1940s we were recommended to eat 10 a day but the government changed this because nowadays, the public won’t do this. So I eat lots of fresh food and cooked meals such as chicken, steaks, salads, rice etc.

There are three key elements in nutrition when you are training: fat loss, performance and muscle gain which you need to replace with the right protein, vegetables, carbs, fruits and fat. A lot of people go wrong the day before a race and eat as much as they can but this just bloats you for race day and you are going to struggle as your body cannot process this in time. Instead try increasing your intake by a little, 3-4 days before the race. Nutrition with play key parts in your sleep, energy levels, immune function and digestion.

However the most important is when you take it. I spread my food intake throughout the day, with Weetabix in the morning, some fruit and protein snacks a few hours later, a large lunch, late afternoon snack and finally dinner in the evening. My dinner or food intake will be within one to two hours max after my sessions. However food isn’t just important, fluid is for me; I just drink water and drink lots of it, well litres. I make sure I am always hydrated as your muscles need the water.  On a race day I never change anything up and still have my normal Weetabix with plenty of water before the race.

Training Plan

Having a training plan is a must and having a structure to it. Being able to change it up regularly, train and do this consistently.

I train in six week blocks, where I increase my training each week and the intensity with the 6th week being harder than the first week. I then have an easy week with light training and two full compete rest days.

Rest days are important in your training; don’t think of them as a rest day but an improvement day. This is where you make the gains.  I have a complete rest day every week and two rest days on a key race week. If I have a key race such as the world championships, I start bringing the training back down slightly a few weeks prior in volume and intensity terms.

Don’t do the same training week in week out; simply change it around on a regular basis. So for example one week do 1k reps and another week 400m reps. You should also take a week off now and again throughout the year. Lots of people train all year round and get injured; having a week off after a big race such as a marathon would do you a world of good. You don’t lose much fitness having a week off. I have two weeks off at the end of the season, so I would advise having a break. Athletes like Gwen Jorgensen take a whole month off after the season.

Listening to your body

If your ill or feeling very tired don’t train, do cross training or take it very easy. Don’t push yourself too hard. Rest up and do not over train – this is very important, as mentioned before I have lots of rest days. The other week I raced while feeling ill and I shouldn’t have and ended up prolonging the virus.

Mental Strength

This is such a hard one and it is important you have mental strength. If you believe or think you can do something you will get there. I have had many sleepless nights before a race and turn up feeling nervous and worried about races. However my key is controlling the controllable and planning what I want to achieve from my training and race. For example I train at negative splits which is very hard but I make it happen and do it. The same is at races my last mile is the fastest and I make that happen. Thinking positive and looking to push yourself to get out of your comfort zone is vital. In a race you need to have this strength as your mind plays lots of tricks. Stay focus and control what you can.

On Racing

Racing can be scary for anyone, I don’t get very nervous at the big races but it is the local ones that I feel nervous about. I normally listen to music before I warm up and take my self away from people to relax and that really does help.

I really enjoy racing and I love meeting other athletes, I find when you are at a race you can push yourself which is also good training. I like racing in Aquathlon’s as there is three key parts, the swim, transition and run.

Don’t change up anything on the day as you will come unstuck and stick to your plan. I do quite a lot of races throughout the year and each has its own targets.

Enjoying the journey / Process

Everyone has a journey no matter what their targets are and enjoy it as you never know what it could lead you to.

I only started running 5 years ago after the 2012 Olympics and I do believe hard work will always pay off. Don’t wait for it to happen, make it happen. If you are after a PB then train for it and work hard for it. It is so rewarding when that happens.

My journey is a journey I never expected, where I was sitting at my parents’ house watching the 2012 Olympics. I remember thinking how hard the triathlon looked and enjoyed watching it. I was inspired, which got me into running, at that time I was swimming but not a good swimmer. I look back now at how far I have come and it inspires me to carry on and I like to inspire others. It is never too late, no matter what age you are and the more training and races you do the more experience you get. I am learning all the time and the journey has been great with ups and downs but it is how you bounce back to keep moving forward in your journey which is the key to your success. If you have a bad day in training/races do not dwell on it and just take the positives and what you can learn from it. I always take positives out on every session and race as I am still learning all the time. The experience will come in time and you will become wiser in your training.

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Racing for fun and what’s next?

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Since the World Championships and having time off and then easing back into training gradually I have had a few races back to back where I was just going to enjoy and have fun, of course I do have fun in races and enjoy my training. But as I don’t have any targets at the moment I just wanted to enjoy it more and soak it all up.

So with the lack of training and fitness I competed at the Whitstable Surf N Turf a week after I started training again. I won this last year and they asked me to come back, the previous year it was in July and this year it was in September.  I was very relaxed and not worried where I came, I just wanted to enjoy it and knew I wasn’t race fit.

We headed down to the sea and as soon as I got in, it was freezing. It must have been around 13 degrees. I knew a few people racing and fellow GB Age Grouper Simon Jones was there too. The race started and although wearing a wetsuit it was cold, the swim was only 400m, I started off slow and then pushed it on the final 200m. It was very tough and it was a struggle due to the lack of swim time. I came out of the water in 2nd place still freezing and not warmed up. I overtook the 1st place on the way to transition and as it was a long transition. I then lead the race and I was still very wobbly from the cold sea water. After about 500m I knew I wasn’t going to be able to push hard, I didn’t have a watch so I went purely on feel. I then got half way and started to struggle, Simon came past me at this point. I came to the finish line with people cheering me in 2nd place. I did struggle but was happy to get another podium.

So the following week was Ealing Half Marathon, a race I would of liked to race for a PB but decided due to lack of training to just take it easy and go at 65% Heart Rate. I got the entry from Asics and met up with some of the Asics frontrunner team members. I was really looking forward to running this and enjoying the race from a different point of view. So I turned up nice and early and wearing my Frontrunner kit, we exchanged stories and training advice.

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I had my watch on and every time I went over 65% of my Heart Rate max it beeped and I would have to slow down.  So being disciplined I stuck to this and was running in the mid 7 minutes per mile. I was chatting to people along the route and soaking up all the atmosphere, the marshals were great. I really enjoyed it and sharing stories with other runners, I did feel bad though as some wanted to talk but were struggling as they were trying their best. I liked the route and would definitely recommend the race. I decided to do my normal long run training and run a sub 6 minute mile for the last mile. I pushed hard for this and it was easy to do this when there were lots of people doing it, purely because you can stay focused. I finished in 1:35:25 a good 13 minutes from my PB but I was taking it easy. Next year I will return to get a PB.

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Next up for me was the Ashford 10k with only five weeks of training this was going to be a target race for me to test fitness levels. I didn’t expect a PB but wanted to race it as it was part of my club (Canterbury Harriers) championships which I organised for the club.

The week leading up to the race I came down with a cold that I couldn’t shift and had to cut training short. I went out for a run the Friday before but stopped after an hour as my body starting feeling weak. I turned up to the race feeling unwell and also a bit down as my wife was meant to run it but she hurt her foot the previous night so she was unable to run. The race started and I decided to run at 6:10 for the first mile but I knew I was going to struggle as my legs felt heavy and drained. I managed to negative split on each mile but by the 5th mile I wasn’t feeling well at all. I was debating whether to walk and stop but I thought I am nearly there. I got to the finish line in 37:35 in 22nd place. I wasn’t with it after the race and headed straight home off to bed. I shouldn’t have ran it but at least I know I can go quicker and not far off my PB with the lack of speed training and this gave me a bench mark for my current fitness levels.

What’s next?

I recently got asked by a few people on social media, what is next for me? Well that is a good question so I decided to write a blog about it.

I have been a bit quiet lately with some easy training and taking it easy after events after my two weeks of complete rest after the World Championships. But in truth the real targets start now for next season and everything for me is all part of a puzzle that gets put back together throughout the winter to get to achieve my goals in the season. I believe the training in the winter is what gets you through the summer races.

Next season will be a long season for me as the European Aquathlon championships are in October, with the Nationals in July, followed by the World champs 5 days later so it will be important to build a base through the winter.

Staying focused is the key and building for next season, I have had time to reflect on my performance of the season just gone and my training. This is so important to me and building the foundations for next season. I had a great season this year, with a total of 7 podiums out of 9 in Aquathlons, one which was a win, a national Age Group medal, 6th in the world champs in my Age Group, 2 podiums in 5k’s, a course record, race win in a 3k outdoor swim and Team Captain for the British Tri Aquathlon World Championships Age Group team.  Although in 2016 I won a Bronze European Medal, this year was much more successful.

My training volume in the next few weeks for running is going to go up and will be a key focus for me.

What have I learnt?

I have learnt a lot this year and experience is the key, each race is different, training etc, all have played a part in what I have learnt.

I had a great winter of training in the previous year which set me up for the season. I was running a lot quicker in my training. However I got injured in May just before the Europeans which took its toll on my running and only really got back some of that improvement just before the World Champs. My swimming was better before the season and therefore I am working with other coaches to get stronger and faster. My running programme was perfect and I will continue down this path, with a few tweaks now and again.

Strength training was perfect and Craig worked wonders, we will be working on this more to build more strength and power. Gobinder helped me control the controllable and stay positive when I had problems. All this is key and experience in my training and races from now. Last year I changed a lot of my run training and race strategy to run negative splits. This is something that I am still working on and has worked well for me as towards the end of races I would struggle with pace. However now I am able to run faster in the last part of the race; but I still need to work on pacing it right.

I have broken up all my training and races and looked on what to work on and build for next season.

What am I going to improve on?

The first part is my swimming, after the European’s I was very disappointed with my swim times and my sessions etc were not working. So I decided to get a second opinion with my new coach, who came to the conclusion I needed time for her to work on me, so we decided it would be best to wait until after this season. As soon as the season finished I went to her as I found that she is a great coach and is what I need. She coaches swimmers of a high level and this is what I need, being able to swim with Age Groupers, long distance world record swimmers and past GB athletes is a huge honour but also a good way to start.

So for my swimming I started as soon as I was training again, my technique was broken up and being put back together. I am doing more drills than I have never done before and pushing myself in all energy systems. I have never trained so hard at swimming before so it will be great to see what happens. In the New year I will also be working with another swimming coach and he will set my plans for me. I am very much looking forward to this. I hope to compete in some master swimming competitions which is going to be new for me.

Next up will be my running, over the winter I am targeting the cross country season and aiming to try and better my performances in the Kent Fitness League.  However I will need to be patient with this as I am taking all my running training apart and changing things up to try and get some improvement. I aim to PB in 5K, 10k, 10 miler and half marathon. I aim to go under the 18 minute mark for 5k, in terms of recording that time officially, aim towards a low 36-35 minute 10k and work towards sub 1 hour for 10 miles and 1:20 for half.

Strength is important to my training so I am working with Craig again and we are looking at making me stronger and giving me more power.

So as you can see these are small bits that go in to a puzzle with the main goals of getting on the Podium for my key areas. I always believe hard work pays off.  However although all these bits go in to a puzzle there is an area that got me into all this from the start – the 2012 Olympic triathlon. After nearly 3 years of not riding a bike I have now been cycling a lot; this could be another road I go down.

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Motivation Struggles

Lots of people have asked me to write about motivation and how to keep motivated. Motivation is the key to achieving your goals, to keep improving and most importantly not quitting and enjoying the whole process.

Recently I posted this quote on my social accounts as I find it key in helping others. “You need to ignore what everyone else is doing and achieving. Your life is about breaking your own limits and outgrowing yourself to live your best life”.

So why do people lose their motivation and even give up? Well as a running coach I see this happen a lot and there are many factors that contribute to this. One big factor is people train all year round with no complete rest and when you’re injured that is not complete rest – that is recovering. I am talking about being injury free and resting. All the top pros take weeks and even a whole month after their season. Club runners just train all year round with no rest and this leads to problems, as they get injured, train the same way, no goals, no improvements and therefore lose motivation and even stop doing the sport they love.

This year for the first time since I took up running and swimming I have found it hard to get going again after my two week break after the World Championships and with all my key races not until the summer, keeping motivated is going to be hard as I don’t really need to train much, so here are my key tips. With the winter coming and the dark cold months it will be hard to get motivated but you have to get out there and train, even if you do not feel like it as those days of training are the ones that really count.

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Have a break

Firstly have a break and don’t train all year round, people worry about their fitness and are a bit obsessed about this, but what’s the point of overtraining if it won’t benefit you and you will end up injured. I have taken two weeks complete full rest since the World Championships, where this allows my muscles to get stronger and body recover from the hard training for the past year. Have a break,  and ease back into training slowly. I am having 3 weeks of easy training and then building my running up slowly after this. I am going to have regular weeks off next year as I found I can train better.

Reflect on what you have achieved

When you’re struggling and times are bad in your training, take time to reflect and look at what you have achieved in your training and races. This will help you stay motivated; think of a time you have had a great training run or a PB. I struggled a lot in the swimming pool this year, with endless long sessions and it is boring in the pool. I would think about how I could hardly swim 6 years ago and look at what I have achieved. My motivation was to keep at it and not give up. Reflecting on your season and what you can do to improve on will spur you on.

Change your training

Don’t do the same training every week, change things up. My training never has a same week in it. People like to do the same training each year which works but then they don’t improve and wonder why this doesn’t motivate them. I have an easy week every 7 weeks, this allows my body to recover; I am still training but not as hard, I tend to have a great race after the back of this.

After each cycle I reassess my training and look to see improvement, if not I will change the training up. Each cycle has tests in it to see improvement or what areas I need to improve in. So for example I may do a long run on a track to measure my improvement.

Select races and plan ahead

Select key races throughout the year to work towards. This will help you gain motivation and it is important to stay focused and not get carried away. I have key races across the year which I target for different reasons. This can be for a PB, podiums, fitness test etc. I would say do not get carried away with too many races as when you start to get the times you do not want you will lose motivation. My advice would be plan ahead and make a plan so you know what you are doing training wise each week. I tend to write myself a 10 week program. If I need to change anything up I do.

Set goals

Regularly set different realistic goals and aim to meet them. Setting goals throughout the year is important and it keeps you motivated as you can see the improvement in you training and races. There is no easy way; if you train hard you will be rewarded. If you don’t meet the goals have a look and at what went wrong in your training and work on that area.

In the winter months when I have no more aquathlon races I set goals for running and swimming. So some of my goals are to work towards another successful cross country season, trying to finish higher than 7th in the league. This allows me to work towards improving my running over the winter months. Another one of my goals is to change my swimming technique and revaluate in January. So goals like this can be great to help with motivation. Another area is to work on my strength so Craig Coggle my strength coach will reassess my programs and how I am performing in order to make me stronger and faster.

Train with others

I found this year after the world championships, I had no motivation to get back to training after my two weeks of complete rest. My mind is thinking why train now as my events are not until next year. I found it hard going back to training, but I decided to build it back up slowly and for my speed reps get my training partner Steve to pace me round the reps. This gives you a boost in motivation, as you can push each other round and have a nice chat as well. Training with a group is important as you can share stories and even do a long run where you can have a cake stop during or after the run together.

Try different sports

Trying different sports throughout the year is a good idea, such as doing a bit of cycling. I am going to cycle a bit over the winter and see what road that may or may not lead too.

So guys I hope this blog helps you, the winter is closing in now and motivation will be tough in those cold dark months of the year. However if you plan and set goals and purely just get out there on the days you do not feel up to it, it is days like that which will count.

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World Championships 2017

 

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I headed off to the World Championships in Penticton (Canada) on the 22nd of August. This would be my 2nd World Championships and I was very excited, I was in great form as the previous weekend I won the London Aquathlon whilst taking it easy. A race that I always wanted to do because it was in the 2012 Olympic Pool. I started the race as well as racing in the race. This season has had its up and downs, but has been a great one.

 

So I got to Vancouver on the 22nd and the following morning I headed off to Penticton which is a four hour drive with my wife and two friends. When I arrived there I only had time to check in the hotel and head off to the registration tent, where I was meeting some more GB athletes for a run and swim reccie. This is something I set up for the team as I was selected as the Aquathlon Team Captain for GB for the World Championships. This is a huge honour and I was very privileged. This role included getting the team together for runs and swims, meeting up, meals and activities and helping with queries so that the Team Managers didn’t have much work to do as they were busy going to meetings etc. I really enjoyed it and it was fun, plus I got to meet other athletes.

When I was doing the swim reccie I soon realised that about 150 metres worth of the swim in the lake was not deep. I saw people practising Dolphin starts, so I practiced a few but I had never done them before. That night I struggled to sleep and jet lag got to me big time, I hardly slept and was so tired and felt ill. I was worried about it as the race was the next morning. I contacted Gobinder and he said control the controllable which I did and I stayed relaxed. I relaxed in the hotel until lunch time until I went and met my wife and friends before the Team Meeting.  I just watched TV and talked to some Australian and New Zealand athletes that were staying in our hotel.

 

Race day came and I was very calm, I had a target of top 15 but decided to go for top 10 as I was in great form. I had a good night sleep and felt better, although still tired I couldn’t wait to get started. Before the race I listened to music before I entered transition and put my kit down in my box. It was a wetsuit swim and was a little chilly in the morning as it was 6am and the race started at 7.20am.

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The swim started on the beach and as soon as the horn started everyone was running into the water. I tried to swim normally but because it was shallow, most athletes where doing Dolphin starts and I was getting hit everywhere. I tried to do a Dolphin start, as I couldn’t run as the water was a bit deep for that. I panicked and found myself near the back before I could start swimming properly. I was out of breath and struggling as I was not used to this. I soon got into my rhythm and started to go past athletes. I felt like I was getting quicker and stronger towards the end of the swim.

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I then got into transition and realised I was with athletes that I am normally ahead of. I started the run and went off hard but I  soon realised I was well down the pack. I had to stay focussed and I started pushing and after the first lap (2.5km) I overtook athletes and ones that I am normally in front of.

I then got a stitch which was painful and I couldn’t shift it but carried on pushing. I came across the finish line and grabbed the GB flag from my wife as I didn’t have anyone to chase or behind me and I walked across the line holding the GB flag. I finished in 36:48 and 6th in my Age Group in the world. An amazing achievement for me and beating my target. The run was slightly longer then 5k but enjoyed every second of it. I was 3rd Brit home in my Age Category. Fellow team mates Shaun Challis and Andy Cockerell were 3rd and 4th. Amazing efforts from them and the whole team, well done.

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I was over the moon and buzzing from this result and as a result I have re-qualified for the World Championships in Denmark next year. Every race is a learning curve and I have learnt a lot here. I need to improve my swim and learn Dolphin starts, which my new swimming Coaches will help me to do. I am very happy about the result because I am 6th in the World in my Age Group, hard work pays off.

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I would like to thank my amazing wife Melanie Christodoulou, who puts up with my training and supports me at every race, without her support even with hard times, injuries and setbacks it would not be possible and to all my family and friends.

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Thank you to all my sponsors, because without them it would be hard to get to races like this and my team for getting me into the best shape I can be.

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Your support this season has been great and thank you very much as I could not of done this with out you and your support. Which has included 7 podiums out of 9 races in Aquathlons. One of which was a win but I also had wins in swimming races, 5k’s and being selected by British Triathlon as the GB Age Group team captain for the world championships. I am still learning in this sport and next season will be even better. Looking forward to new challenges next season and taking up a new sport.

 

Road To Becoming A Team GB Athlete

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Little did I know that when I took up running nearly 5 years ago and could only swim 6 lengths of a 33 metre swimming pool in an hour this journey would lead me up competing for GB for my Age Group. Since then I have achieved one Silver medal and two Bronze medals. I am nearly 34 years old and work full time as a Performance Analyst for the NHS. I am no spring chicken; I only started running in 2012. I was inspired by the London 2012 Olympics to do something, which encouraged me to join my local running club, the Canterbury Harriers.

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I didn’t train that regularly until the following year so progress wasn’t quick. I knew if I practised I could be a lot better and ended up focusing on that. I knew I was never going to be the fastest in my area or club but I could get close. In 2013, I competed in local triathlons but ended up injuring my calf where I struggled for 7 months on and off so I became a coach for my club. The following year I was competing again in triathlons but injured my achilles and thought I wouldn’t be able to run again. I first started running in 2012 and after watching the Olympics, I was inspired to try a triathlon, after running was no longer challenging enough.

In 2015 I was in the process of getting married but didn’t have the time to train for the triathlons so I decided to go into aquathlons, as I am an ok swimmer and runner. This road led me to qualifying for the GB Aquathlon Team in 2016 for my Age group, I was so excited and didn’t know what to expect. I raced the National Aquathlon championships in Leeds a few weeks before and I came 3rd in my Age group. I was over the moon taking the bronze medal and this was my first big race, next up was the European Championships in France where I was shocked and had a great performance coming 3rd in my age group. As a result I ended up going to Mexico for the World Championships – a whole new experience.

This season came round fast and sadly got injured at the wrong time, I competed at the European Championships in Bratislava and was 9th in my age group. I aimed for a top 10 position but because of my injury problems. Two weeks after this race was the Nationals again in Leeds, an old injury flared up and with limited run time that month and I didn’t know if I could make the start line a few days prior, I didn’t expect to do well. Well I had a great race and came 2nd in my Age group, so never give up! Next stop for me is the World Championships in Penticton in August.

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Belief

I believe no matter your ability if you work hard at anything in life you will be rewarded. My result at the European Championships 2017 was the target before my injury. I had to change my target and aims and I see this as a success as it got me to the start line race fit and I was able to be very competitive to never give up.


I like to help and inspire others. I contacted both IAMRUNBOX & EVOSSI last year regarding sponsorship because I like their concept and hope they will grow. IAMRUNBOX is a backpack that is used to commute to work where you are able to carry your work stuff while running to work. You are probably thinking do I commute? Well although I drive to work and work full time my workplace is too far to run. However what is great about this backpack is that I run from my home to the gym which is roughly 2 miles away. I liked the concept of IAMRUNBOX and I felt it is something that can be very popular in England with runners.

Similarly, when I approached EVOSSI I liked what I saw and thought it is a new company that is also going places. After speaking to Ed Flood the founder we agreed a partnership and felt privileged to be part of this very new company. EVOSSI is a stylish running brand with a focus on performance & functionality.

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IAMRUNBOX helped me not being lazy and driving two miles to the swimming pool. I was able to put my stuff in the box (Backpack) and jog to the gym. This has helped me hugely as I am able to get extra mileage and easy run time in my legs. With EVOSSI I found the Discover Gilet was perfect for my training. I always over heat with long sleeved tops and for me it is all about keeping my core warm. The Discover Gilet did the trick, not only was it stylish but it is waterproof.

EVOSSI products allow you to carry items like your keys, phone etc and with the useful additional pockets. I am very impressed with the overall design and quality however I think a second colour option would give more variety.

In regards to the IAMRUNBOX backpack I like the concept and some of the features along with the design. The logo colours all fit well. This is a good as it makes the product more appealing. The fact the backpack has plenty of room is a plus, for me it’s about carrying my gym and swimming stuff to the gym. For the commuters this is even more appealing as you can pack your work stuff all inside the box and when you take them out they are fine. Personally although this is perfect for me I do believe that maybe making the backpack a bit bigger will help carry more stuff in it but it depends really how much stuff you need to carry. However on the other hand I think making it smaller can also benefit others so maybe these will be products for the future? I have the lite backpack.

These products have been very useful for my training preparation for the World Aquathlon Championships. I think both brands are still very new and will continue to grow the more they get known. If you’d like to buy either product use ‘Yiannis15’ & receive 15% Off!

Thank you for your support!
http://www.evossi.com/
https://iamrunbox.com/en/

Hever Castle Aquathlon Challenge

 

thumbnail_IMG_8620With the World Championships now only six weeks away and struggling with form since my calf injury a few months back I was ready for my next Aquathlon. I decided to enter the Hever Castle Aquathlon challenge last year as I wanted to try a middle distance race and see how it went. This was my first longer distance race and I knew it was going to be tough. The race consisted of a 1.9k swim in the lake around the Castle (which was once the home of Anne Boleyn) and a 10.5k run on a tough hilly course and was part of the Castle tri series under the name of Festival of Endurance.  Not the normal 750m to 1k swim and 5k run I normally do but I have worked hard in the gym with Craig Coggle (strength coach) since my setbacks to improve my strength and reduce injury risk.

I arrived at the race and it was already very warm that morning and looked like it was going to make it tough going during the race. The venue looked stunning and I was very excited as it was around the castle grounds with a finish near the castle. I had no targets but to enjoy it and see how it goes and use it as training.

The swim started and I went off at the same time as the long distance Aquathlon and the swim races, so it was a real mass start race. Because of the extra distance I had to swim I didn’t push the first half and just eased into it and started pushing a bit faster when I hit the river part near the end of the swim. I wore a wetsuit but was overheating as I think the lake was too warm for it. The swim was amazing and I enjoyed sighting and actually taking all the natural beauty in. It was by far one of the nicest lakes I have ever swam in. I came out of the water and proceeded into the transition which was quite far from the lake. I hit the swim in 31 minutes; I was hoping for a quicker time but I didn’t push myself so that I wouldn’t hit a wall in the run. The swim is something I will be working on after the season when I start with my new swimming coach.

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I started the run slower then I would normally, as I wanted to build into it and as soon as I started I noticed it was going to be tough with the heat and the hills. I started pushing in the run and attacking the hills; the race was in beautiful countryside and cornfields. To be honest it was pretty amazing and I was really enjoying it, however I hit a huge problem on the 7k mark. I was misdirected by a marshal who was standing by a junction who told me to go straight ahead which I did. I continued up the hill where after a few minutes I got to a point where I noticed another marshal at an area I went past 2 miles into my run. I asked the marshal where I was meant to go and I was told I had been sent the wrong way and therefore had to go back down the hill. I was panicking and by the time I got back down the hill I had lost a lot of time.

I told the marshal why didn’t you call me back and send me the wrong way, where she just pointed to go right. I was very frustrated at this point, as I knew I lost a lot of time. I warned runners I passed again in the run and marshals hoping the mistake wouldn’t happen to others. This should never happen in a big race like this, the marshal was standing in front of the sign that said go right not straight. I was therefore overtaking people I had overtaken earlier. I had realised by the time I had overtaken the first lady who I went past not long after transition how much time I had actually lost.  I crossed the line and was frustrated and spoke to the race director straight away; I crossed the line in 3rd place so I was happy with that. After speaking with the timing chip guys and the race director, they worked out I had lost at least 7 minutes of time and could have been more as I dropped off the timing matt times and therefore was bumped up to 2nd place.

I am happy with the outcome and I hope they learn from their mistakes and it doesn’t happen again. The race was a nice race and maybe next year I will go back and give it another crack, hoping this mistake does not happen again. I learnt a new experience here and to try and keep calm in order not to get frustrated and panic. Looking back at this now there was no need to stress myself even more when it was out of my control and if it happens again to wait until the end of the race. I only have a few more practice races until the World Championships and I would like to thank you for reading my blogs and my journey.

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How not to be hard on yourself

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How not to be hard on yourself

Well I came across this photo the other week when Gobinder, my psychology coach, posted it on Twitter. I found it very interesting and decided as it received a lot of attention on my Social media account I decided to write a blog about my experience – this was a great insight of peoples minds by Anna Vital.

 

Your mistakes are part of learning

Everyone makes mistakes but it depends if you learn from them. I certainly have, I now know my limits in training and it is a fine line between injuries.  When I took up running nearly 5 years ago, my mistake was that I kept coming back too soon and getting injured. Looking back now I think what on earth was I thinking but it’s all learning. I would go out as fast as I could in every session; well that road lead me to injuries all the time. When I got injured I would rest until it didn’t hurt and then come back and do the same. This was a huge learning curve for me and once I learnt and my knowledge was much better I was able to go years with just minor niggles and was able to improve as a result.  It’s ok to have a bad race or training session, look at it as a positive and set targets to improve next time.

 

 

Don’t compare yourself to others because you are not them

A lot of people make the mistake of comparing others with themselves. Well don’t because that’s not a good idea, just because someone runs 100 miles a week and improves hugely it doesn’t mean you will. Everyone has different bodies and your body may not cope. For me if I do that kind of mileage that will break my body. So my advice is just stick to your own training and plans and work out what works best for you.

 

 

There is no right way to do anything

With running technique it is very important and even more important with swimming. However people have different techniques that work for them. In regards to training we all follow plans and sometimes they do make you improve, again its important to find out what works best for you. If a coach tells you to do something and you find it is not working, don’t be afraid to say it doesn’t work and want to do what you think is best.

 

Stand up for what you believe. Even if it’s unpopular

It’s important you stand up for what you believe in and what works for you. I am at the stage of life that if someone finds something I do unpopular let them get on with it. I found since I got the two bronze medals in the Nationals and the European Aquathlon championships last year, some people started changing towards me. It has been a huge learning experience how people can change and yes at the time it hurt. But I now allow it to go over the top of my head and let them get on with talking about me and being jealous. Training hard and working hard pays off and it inspires others so don’t let this ever get to you.  Let them talk and prove them wrong in your races.

 

Learn from people who criticise you

I like this one, I am no pro I am just a full time working guy who trains after work and not elite. I love it when people criticise me and I love it even more when they criticise me behind my back. When people talk about you, you always find out in the end. I use this as fuel to make me more determined and motivated to push harder in training and races in order to succeed. This season has been successful so far for me and it is mainly down to working hard and getting on with it.

 

Accept your weakness as your features

I know I am not the quickest runner or swimmer but I give it all my best and train to the best I can be. When I got injured a lot in the past I decided to do strength training to help keep injuries away. I accept my weaknesses but work hard to improve them without being t0o hard on myself.

 

Look at your past as an adventurous biography

Use you past races/training etc to help you improve and be successful in reaching your targets and goals. I always look back to day one of running and how far I have come. This motivates me to improve and reach my targets; most people I compete against have been racing all their life so knowing that I am still going to improve helps. When I go into a race I always look back on how I had to sprint the last 400m at the European Championships in 2016 to claim a Bronze medal in my Age group. So this makes me think I can sprint the last bit of a race.

 

Don’t underestimate your talent until you apply it 100 times

As mentioned before I didn’t know I could sprint the last 400m of a race and every race is different you get to learn something new. The mind is hugely important and if you have the right frame of mind you can achieve something you didn’t expect.

 

Every single problem is not unique

Don’t get hooked on a problem, try to just blank it or forget about it. Injuries are a part of training and sport and it’s the way you deal with it. I struggled with injuries this year leading up to the European Championships and I was very worried I couldn’t compete. However I bounced back at the Nationals while dealing with another injury as well.

 

Intelligence is relative self-esteem is not

Be intelligent with your training and races. Don’t change things up if changes do not work for you. Keep positive in order to be motivated. Most people change things up on race day like taking a different gel in a marathon but not using it in training and wonder why they struggle in that race.

 

Express your anger in a creative way

I think being creative is a great way, if you struggle in a race take it out on your training session and don’t dwell on it.

 

 

Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed.

For me I don’t want to be around people who are negative against me.  You don’t need to train with them etc. I like to surround myself with people who have similar interests and where we are able to train together and push each other. I like to train with people who are much better so that I can push myself that much harder. Having people around you who are positive will bring the best out of you and them.

 

My conclusion is enjoy what you do as there is no point in doing your hobby if you are not enjoying it. Sometimes the pain and other factors can be tough on you but there is no point in being hard on yourself. Don’t worry about what others think, just let them get on with it, it’s not worth stressing about something so silly. I like to use every negative and flip it around to a positive and use as fuel to improve and keep me motivated.

 

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