Protecting your wetsuit is the key to expanding its life

 

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As you are all aware I have been using The Dry Bag to protect my wetsuit whilst it’s stored away this winter, protecting it from dust, dirt and creepy crawlies. The ventilated bag means it won’t festure or grow a spider colony, phew. I’ve found it so handy that I decided to write another blog about the importance of protecting your wetsuit and prolonging its life s you guys can hop on The Dry Bag band wagon with me.

Wetsuits degrade quickly. Fact. Which is annoying, not only because they’re expensive but once you’ve moulded to your wetsuit it becomes a second skin, important for race day right? After a race or an outdoor training session I would leave my wetsuit in a bag soaked, scrunched up and covered with sand and dirt – no wonder they didn’t last more than one season, doh! Sometimes, and (only sometimes!) I would wash it and let it dry in the bathroom over the shower door, resulting in a grumbling wife and a puddle on the floor! I can safely say she who is to be obeyed is in love with my Dry Bag!

If you’re prone to hanging your wetsuit outside to dry, The Dry Bag offers 3x more protection from the sun’s UV rays than without. If your wetsuit will degrade 30% quicker when exposed to sunlight it’s a no brainer to put in a Dry Bag when drying outside to keep it protected. This of course will help you get a couple more years from your wetsuit.

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The best feature is that it doesn’t take up a lot of room and it is easy to put into your wardrobe with the wetsuit hanging and still drying. This therefore saves time and means it’s easy to grab the wetsuit. Also bonus – The Dry Bag separates your wetsuit from your clothes and towels so you don’t get the lovely neoprene pong rubbing off on them.

My conclusion is that protecting your wetsuit (and therefore wallet) is key. Let’s be honest who wants to be paying hundreds for a new wetsuit every, single year? I’m excited to know that my wetsuit is ready to grab from my wardrobe come the spring safe in the knowledge that it will be dust, dirt and spider (!) free. With the season just around the corner my advice would be spend £60 on a product that you’ll be thankful for come those early morning training sessions. For further information, please use website link below.

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What can we learn from our Heart Rate max and V02 max

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I wrote blogs a while ago regarding Heart Rate training and V02 Max since I have had many questions in recent weeks regarding this – I am revisiting these blogs but also adding what I have learnt from the two years since I wrote these blogs.

For most runners they are under the impression that they should run full speed at all times because that will make them go faster and running at a slower pace will slow you down. Well this is not the case; why not try heart rate running. It is very simple and all you need is a running watch and a heart rate monitor and run at a much slower pace and see the benefits.

So what is Heart Rate Running? Well the key is to find out your maximum heart rate while running. This can be done by a VO2 test in a lab or by running for ten minutes as fast as you can with a heart rate monitor and then take the max from there. Most universities do this at a cost but also some do this free as part of student studies. It sounds tough to run as fast as you can for 10 minutes; well it is but the key is to find your heart rate max as you need to determine your personal heart rate zones and not what your watch pre-set zones are. You can also figure this out from the old method which is 220 minus your age. However this is not accurate for some people and this is the case for me. For example when I use that method it says my Heart Rate max is 186 however when I had a V02 Lab test, mine came out as 179. Quite a bit of a difference so be aware of this.

So what’s next once you have your heart rate max?  Heart rate running is very good and if you find your 60% to 70% of your heart rate max you can be improving at a faster rate than just speed training alone. Of course you need to do your speed sessions but you shouldn’t be running as fast as you can every session.

Long runs at 60% to 70% of your heart rate max can make a huge benefit by teaching your body to not burn carbs and burn fat to make you more efficient. This therefore can make you quicker. The past two years I spent most of my training doing these long heart rate runs that have proved to work. At the same time by making you more efficient it will improve your running economy, which I will mention shortly. I was part of a study a few years ago in seeing how people can improve from running at a slower pace and improving your running economy. I was told I was over training; my long runs at the time would be to run 13 miles every Saturday morning at 6.30 pace. My legs used to take a best part of three days to recover. I started my heart rate training and was concerned my pace was over 8 minutes per mile and going up hills I felt like I was walking. I was told to stick at it and just follow my heart rate zones. Well since then I have improved a lot and over longer distances and my pace can be well under 7 minutes in my long runs. I have also managed to take 6 minutes off my 10 miler time.

What is running economy? Running economy (RE) is typically defined as the energy demand for a given velocity of submaximal running, and is determined by measuring the steady-state consumption of oxygen (VO2) and the respiratory exchange ratio. I will talk about V02 Max later.

A lot of marathon runners use this because instead of pounding away for 13 miles on a long run, they can go longer at an easy pace and won’t feel tired the following day. The key is to train at less intensity on a long run which will teach you to burn fat but also make you recover quicker. Many people struggle with the pace because it is a lot slower than they normally run and if you run up hill you need to run slower in order to keep the heart rate down. Of course it is a must to keep the speed sessions up but by just slowing your speed down a little on a long run it can be a huge benefit. As mentioned briefly earlier I used to do a 13 mile run every Saturday at race pace which of course felt good but took me a few days to recover and my Half Marathon time wasn’t any better. Once I had changed my training and ran at 60% I found that if I wanted to do another long run the next day I could because the body felt fine and improved.

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So my advice would be to try it for 6 weeks and see how it goes, if you don’t react to the training then at least you tried something new. But how should you train for HR? Well a simply guide can be by the distance or time in your run to be increased slightly for a three week period, with each week increasing. Then maintain the third week distance/time for a further 3 weeks and see if you have improved in a race. Let me know your thoughts and progress as I am interested to see if you get any improvement.

Let’s look at V02 max now. In March 2015 I was approached by Phil Anthony from Christ Church University sports lab to be part of his research and test subject.  I jumped at the chance as Phil is an amazing runner and ran London in 02:16 and was a national Ultra Champion. I wasn’t sure if it would work and benefit me so I decided to try as there was nothing to lose.

What is V02? Research shows that successful performance in endurance running is closely related to the level of aerobic metabolism that a runner is able to sustain throughout a race. This directly impacts on the runner’s ability to maintain their speed throughout the duration of a race. Aerobic metabolism refers to the body’s ability to convert oxygen, delivered to the working muscles, to usable energy. The maximal point at which each athlete is able to achieve this is referred to as their maximal oxygen uptake or their O2max.

The test consisted of a ramp test where you run on a treadmill in stages of four minutes with each stage going up a level in speed until you need to stop. The second test was a 5k time trial on the treadmill after running at 16kmph for 10 minutes.  The third test was that I had to run my long run on another day which was 1 hour and 30 minutes at 70% heart rate.

After this I was sent away for 6 weeks where I had to increase one long run by 6 minutes for 3 weeks and the other long run by 9 minutes for 3 weeks and then maintain it for a further 6 weeks. This was related to the heart rate training, mentioned earlier.  I then went back into the lab and preformed the 3 tests like before. I was given my results and this showed my V02 max had gone down so I could struggle a bit in my runs but my running economy had improved hugely and something I needed to work on more.

A common method for assessing an athlete’s running economy is to look at the volume of Oxygen (O2) in a lab they are able to consume at a speed of 16kmh-1 on the treadmill. The average O2 in well trained runners at this speed is ~52ml•kg-1•min-1.  However, as an individual athlete’s running economy can differ according to their speed, and 16km•h-1  can be too fast for many athletes, it can be better to assess RE in terms of distance covered ml•kg-1•km-1.  The average RE for well-trained runners, when expressed in this form, would be ~200ml•kg-1•km-1.  Table below provides normative data for well-trained runners.

Running Economy ml•kg-1•km-1
170-180 ml•kg-1•km-1 Excellent
180-190 ml•kg-1•km-1 Very good
190-200 ml•kg-1•km-1 Above average
200-210 ml•kg-1•km-1 Below average
210-220 ml•kg-1•km-1 Needs improvement

 

So mine had improved but was still poor so I was told to work on easy long runs at 70% heart rate through the winter. This was to purely make me more efficient and burn fat instead of carbs. I found I enjoyed the winter months as the training was easy and in a space of a year I had managed 15 PB in all different types of disciplines.

However I was asked to go back in August 2016 while I was preparing for the World Aquathlon Age Group Championships. Since I originally had the first test in 2015 I improved so much and this helped me qualify for the GB Age Group Aquathlon team where in 2016 I won a European and National Age Group Bronze medal, so I was pretty much looking forward to this test.  This time this test was for the difference between running indoors and outdoors. This test consisted of a Ramp test on the treadmill, 5K time trial after running 15kmph for 10 minutes on the treadmill then I had to do this on the track.

So what did I learn this time? That running on a treadmill was quicker as I was 20 seconds quicker on the treadmill. Does that help me? Probably not but the data I got from it does. I was told my V02 max was a lot higher than last year because I was purely training for 5k’s, however my running economy was still poor but much much better than last year. So looking at the data the short running reps help for 5k’s but the longer distances help for the longer races.

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Did I find the data useful and did I improve? Well I did, at first I didn’t think this would work but now I have the science behind me I can move my training forward. The first test last year did work hugely so I took this data into the winter of last year. I changed my training and worked on longer runs and long V02 max sessions such as mile reps and 1k reps. I found it worked wonders and I saw my race pace improve and my training over the past year and this produced me an Age Group Silver medal at the National Aquathlon Championships, 6th at the World Championships and 8 podiums in Aquathlons.

My conclusion is that Heart Rate running worked for me and still works; I am able to run longer and further and I do not feel as tired the next day, in fact I can still run a hard session the following day. It has also helped me keep injuries away and not getting as many injuries as the years before. I am still improving from this and I use different zones for different sessions that have been hugely important in my training and races. I definitely recommend giving it a try. V02 max is also important and I use this to work at it on my sessions as you can improve it slightly from V02 Max sessions. I have taken all this data and changed my training up and it is has improved me hugely and it can for you. I have learnt not to run too fast and how to train in zones, which is key and you can see the benefits. I like the science about running and if you want to improve you need to use the science.

A 10 mile road race in and around Canterbury organised by Invicta East Kent AC and sponsored by Ssangyong

Gel Nimbus 20 review

On Saturday the 6th of January I helped out at the London Regent Street store for the launch of the Gel Nimbus 20 running shoe and with fellow Asics Frontrunner team member Ralph.
I had a chance to use the new shoe and see what I thought about it, so here is my review. The Gel Nimbus has now been going for 20 years and I can see why and it is a popular trainer around the world and one of Asics best products.

I had the 19s which are a great shoe so I was interested to see what the difference is. I must say I am very impressed at a glance they looked the same as the 19s. However don’t be fooled the 20s firstly feel lighter and they still have that comfy feeling. If anything they feel a lot more comfy because the mesh is different and Asics have also improved lacing. This has therefore made it even more comfy. Just what you need in your runs and I will be using these on my long runs. Some colours are the same but also there are some new funky colours.

My conclusion is that if you want a comfy and trendy running shoe for your runs then this is the shoe for you. The Nimbus has been a comfy shoe since its launch and now it’s got even better.

How to conquer Negative Splits

 

A 10 mile road race in and around Canterbury organised by Invicta East Kent AC and sponsored by Ssangyong

 

Did you know that most runners start a race too fast and struggle towards the end with slower end splits? Most runners at the end of the race say something like “I struggled at the end” “I blew up”.

I was one of those runners and in 2016 I decided to change this and change my training up. For example, I would start a 10k and the first mile would be my fastest and the last mile would be nearly a minute slower than my first.  I would be hanging on in the end desperate to try and get a PB. I would get sucked into going out fast with other people that did it. It was ruining my races and my times and it is probably doing it to you too.

So I decided to try and run negative splits. They do sound difficult but when you split it down it isn’t that difficult.  I started by changing my training up during the winter; I forced myself to start off slower on speed reps and made sure that every rep I did got faster. This sounds hard and it is but it becomes easy and in races it comes naturally. My first rep in a speed session is much slower than the last. It is hard when you are forcing yourself to push that last rep as fast as you can. But you will surprise yourself. Not only does this make you run faster towards the end of a race but it also allows your body to manage and cope when your body is full of lactic acid.

So the first trick is to get negative splits in your speed session or to have the reps consistent then the last rep as fast as you can and quicker.

The next step is to practice going out fast on your last few minutes of your long run; this forces your body to deal with the lactic acid while you’re tired. When your body is slowing down as you’re getting tired and to the end of the long run a quick blast will do you the world of good.

Now comes the tricky part: pacing it right in a race, it is easy to go off fast as lots of people shoot off.  I now know I will catch them later in the run, in fact these days people rarely overtake me in the last few miles of a race. I practised my pace in the cross country season where I started off slow, so I would be around the top 50 at the start and by the end of the race pushing into the top 10. I did a 10 mile race and I forced myself to go out slower the first 5 miles and was roughly around 17th place  and the 2nd half of the race I was much quicker and overtaking people and nearly came 3rd and achieved a PB. My last mile was the quickest. I could have paced it a bit better and gone a little faster on the first part but this is the tricky part and it takes practice.

A 10 mile road race in and around Canterbury organised by Invicta East Kent AC and sponsored by Ssangyong

It will hurt towards the end of a race but in the long run if you master it you can run a lot quicker and can achieve a PB; but it takes time.

My conclusion is you should give this a go and be patient. Be disciplined and don’t get caught up with people going out too fast at the start. Know your race plan and race pace and stick to the plan, sometimes have a few plans ready just in case you need to change the plan up during the race.

A 10 mile road race in and around Canterbury organised by Invicta East Kent AC and sponsored by Ssangyong

Importance of Wetsuit Storage

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So I have been testing the DRY bag out for the past few months and you can read my previous blog about wetsuit protection HERE. It’s a quiet period of time for me in terms of swimming outside as my season is over for the winter. However I now know this is the important part for my wetsuit life and its storage over my off season period.

Firstly I revisit one of the 3 key areas mentioned in my previous blog (Storage)

Storage: Store your wetsuit in a ventilated environment and avoid using ordinary hangers which put 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.

Since my last blog on this matter when I washed my wetsuit and put it in The Dry Bag for drying, I have used the bag not only for my wetsuit but to carry my wet cross-country clothes after my race which has proved very useful. Not only does it allow my soggy clothes to dry on the way home it prevents mess all over the car and bag allows me to transport dirty clothes home without ruining my running bags. Give it a try….

However let’s get back to the sole purpose of this blog – wetsuit storage.  What I have found so useful (and unexpected) is that it is like a suit bag in that I can hang my wetsuit up in my wardrobe like my suits and it is now stored away for safe keeping and protecting.

This is great for protecting as before I would leave it in my car or in a bag squashed up, damp and smelly. So when the season comes along all I need to do is go straight to my wardrobe and my wetsuit is hanging and ready to go which will make it easier to grab when in a rush for the first race day of the season.

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Wetsuit Care

Taking care of your wetsuit is crucial if you want to keep your new expensive wetsuit feeling new for as long as possible. Meticulous maintenance will not only increase the life of your wetsuit, but will also keep it looking and feeling fresh for a whole lot longer!

The following care and maintenance tips are intended to provide general information on how, by taking a few minutes of extra TLC, you can increase the lifespan of your wetsuit.

  1. Slow down when taking your suit off.

When removing your wetsuit, first unzip all the zippers completely. Then remove one section at a time taking care to avoid puncturing any of the skin surface panels with a fingernail. Trying to quicken the process by grabbing at rubber won’t do the neoprene any favours. Take your time!

  1. Rinse in fresh water

Rinse your wetsuit inside and out with clean fresh water each time you use it, even if you’re planning a second session. Salt will destroy your suit faster than everything but direct sunlight. Take the time to do this and thank us later!

  1. Wetsuit shampoo

No matter how thoroughly you rinse your wetsuit, you’re going to miss some spots. Use wetsuit shampoo occasionally to help clean away salt which collects in crevices which will damage the neoprene overtime.

  1. Hang to dry

There are plenty of ways to damage a wetsuit when drying which include draping over balconies and garden fences. One of the best ways to maximize air circulation and complete drying is to hang your wetsuit inside-out, folded at the waist and in a Dry Bag.  The wide armed hanger keeps stress off the neoprene and will protect your wetsuit prolonging its performance. This tip should also be applied to Drysuits too.

  1. Silicone spray lube

If your wetsuit has a gouge, there are liquid fillers available for repair. These fillers are normally called liquid silicon or liquid rubber. Fill up the gouge with the liquid filler and let it dry completely before getting the wetsuit wet again.

Wetsuit Care

Taking proper care of your wetsuit has become more important because to put it simply, a good wetsuit is expensive. By following our care and maintenance tips your expensive new wetsuit should last a couple of seasons longer!

 

Check out DRY HERE

 

 

 

Overview and let’s get the new year started in a positive way

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This year has been a great year and it will be hard to improve and beat it. However I am determined to go better than this year.  Thank you for following my journey this year and I hope I continue to inspire you to achieve your goals. I always believe that if you train hard and smart, hard work will always pay off and you will be rewarded. So this is something I will take into the New Year to build on for next season. Winter is well and truly here and motivation is tough and to get out and do runs when it’s freezing, but it is days like this that count.

This year I have run just over 1,500 miles, and swam over 500 miles. I have competed in 10 Aquathlons where I got to the podium 8 out of 10 times; one was a race win and one was a National Silver Medal, four second places, three third places, and a sixth place at the world championships.

I competed in my first sea swim race which I won; something I was surprised about. I competed in 15 running races in a range of disciplines from Cross Country to Half Marathons. Some of my running races included Two 5k wins and breaking course records for those races. I also ventured off to a middle distance Aquathlon this year and came 2nd.

However my highlight of my year was being selected as the GB Team Captain for the World Aquathlon age group team. I am very proud of this and I enjoyed it. I like to help others and give something back to the community. So this year has been a great one in terms of sporting achievements and I am now starting to build my training for next season.

So this year is about to end and the most important skill I am taking in to next year is my experience. This is a valuable skill and of course it takes time. Every race, every training session is different. This year I learnt how to change my training when things are not working. It’s fine to change and it’s better to do this in order to progress.  I had some great training sessions last year which is not factored into my training but I also had some bad ones and these are the ones you really learn how to improve. I learnt if I had a bad session, don’t dwell on it but take the positives out of it. If I had a bad race, again I took the positives and moved on. It’s not about hard how you get hit, it’s about how hard you get hit and keep moving forward. I know I have taken that from the Rocky film, but it’s a great quote.

I learnt that my experience in races is so important; I could hardly walk a few days before national championships but after seeing the physio I was told not to panic and get to the start line. History repeats itself with me, I will get all sorts of niggles leading up to big races, even when I am not training as much and tapering. I now know if I am on the start line I am race fit. So I won’t panic in future races.

In terms of race strategies, instead of going into a race with just a plan and sticking to it, I now prepare for a few other race strategies. For example at the world championships the lake was shallow for the first 100m and I was struggling to swim. I didn’t know how to dolphin start which cost me a lot of time. However I didn’t panic and started off slow and then started to push as soon as it was deep enough to swim harder.

The harder I train I know injuries can arise, however it’s the way you bounce back from the injuries and deal with them that make you stronger. I am no longer scared of injuries; if I train smart I can try and keep them to a minimal. If I get injured I can train other ways that don’t lose the fitness that quickly.  I turned up to the European Championships with limited running training due to a calf injury but I still managed the 3rd quickest run time in my age group. So don’t beat yourself up about an injury; you can easily do other training. Worrying too much about an injury only makes the situation and injury worse. The mind can play lots of wonderful tricks with you.

Next season is going to be a long season as the European Aquathlon Championships is not until October. I have just got confirmation I have qualified for the European Championships which are going to be in Ibiza. I have also got confirmation about the World championships in Denmark. I always get very nervous when the email comes through, but it’s a huge honour to represent my country and I am very lucky. These races are my key races including the National Aquathlon Championships.

Thanks again for your support this year, if there is anything you would like me to blog about or post on social media to encourage others, I am open to ideas.

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Alan Green 10 mile road race

 

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Winter is now well and truly here and motivation is becoming a struggle in the cold dark evenings. My target race after the World Championships was the Alan Green Thanet Road Runners 10 mile race. A race which I have down 3 times previously. The race is pretty much pancake flat with a minor hill roughly 3 miles into the race, but as it is in December and along the seafront the wind always plays a factor in race times and therefore makes it a tough and challenging course. The last 3 years I have always got a personal best and one of my targets is to go sub 1 hour for 10 miles eventually.

Training has gone well but I have no idea where my training and fitness levels are at the moment so I was just going to use this race to see where I am at. I am not in peak shape yet and don’t intend to be until next year. My PB on this course was 01:01:40, which I broke 5 weeks later in a different race which was a tough course. The Thursday before the race I had planned to do a long easy two hour run. But that evening it was cold and I wasn’t motivated to run on my own in the cold and dark. I dragged myself out and I was trying to make all the excuses to stop myself running round the streets of Canterbury. Don’t get me wrong I love running but I prefer running in the countryside and not round busy streets during rush hour which is something I cannot do in the dark.  I nearly stopped after an hour but I managed to stay out for another 40 minutes which isn’t too bad. I was lacking motivation and I knew the race would be difficult on the Sunday.

The day before the race I had to attend Canterbury Harriers Christmas presentation meal and I picked up the fastest 5 mile award for the season. I was very happy with this as it is the first time I have picked up an award at the Christmas Presentation. My wife also picked up the fastest 5 mile award for the ladies; I am very proud of her running as she doesn’t like running but does it to keep fit.

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I managed to convince my wife to do the race on Sunday as there is cake at the end, so she did the race and had cake after – well plenty of it! I turned up to the race and it wasn’t as cold as the previous day so I didn’t need to wrap up warm for the race. When warming up I noticed we had no wind on the way out but the wind was quite strong on the way back. I decided to stick to my plan and start off slower and try to go faster the second half.

The gun went off and the race started. I could count roughly how many people were in front of me. I was in 17th place with just over two miles gone. I felt strong and focused on my breathing and sticking to my race plan. By mile 5, before the turnaround point, I had caught a group and the first lady. I then turned back in to some strong wind and headed back for the last 5 miles where I had already stuck to the plan and did fairly even splits.

I then decided to start to go a bit faster and over-took this group which then put me up to 6th place and running on my own for the rest of the race. I had lots of runners say well done on route; I couldn’t say thanks as the wind was making it hard for me to breath. I put my thumbs up to say thanks and thank you for encouraging me. I then battled the wind and managed to get slightly faster and before I knew it I was nearly at the finish line catching the person in front very quickly. I then came up the hill to the finish and noticed the clock time so sprinted to get a PB. I was over the moon as I didn’t expect a PB and my time was 01:00:59 so a slight PB. This gives me something to work on.

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I went for a warm down after and decided to run back for half mile down the route. I was encouraging people to keep going. I then waited for my wife and cheered her on to the finish. I enjoyed the race and next year I hope to come back and go quicker.

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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.

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

2Drying

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