There are so many reasons why you should take up running however in these tough and uncertain times I explain 5 reasons how running can lift the spirits of entire nations in these tough times.
We all know that you should enjoy your running and that it shouldn’t be a chore because you just fall out of love with it. Below is my reasons on how running has the power to lift spirits of nations.
Just getting out for a short run helps you destress; with many people around the world still working from home due to COVID, it’s even more important to get away from your computer and go for a run. Just getting out will help you relax and unwind, making you feel more positive.
I find that running gives me thinking time. Sometimes I don’t feel like getting out for a run as I am too stressed, but believe me if you get out they tend to be the best runs. Not only does it do the above but by reflecting and having time alone can work wonders.
Makes you happy
Running can make you happy; I am always happy when I run as it is my favourite exercise. Its purely as I can enjoy being outside. Some runs give you that runners high where you feel on top of the world. This can happen in any run whether it is a speed session or lovely long run in the countryside.
Running can make you feel great and give you that sense of you have accomplished something great. Achieving a personal best gives you that feeling you can do amazing things and makes you feel great about yourself.
Don’t underestimate the power of running, running can bring you together with people from all around the world. Running with friends is the best way to run I think, because not only can you push each other along but it’s a great form of counselling – chatting to others is very important to your mental health. I have made a lot of friends from running that will support me through life.
Enjoying the natural beauty of the countryside
What I like about running is you can just escape into the countryside and enjoy the natural beauty of the world. Taking things in and enjoying it gives you a buzz. I find running has a wow factor, you can go to some amazing spots that are not accessible if you can’t run.
Do you struggle to sleep after training in the evening? Getting too hot in bed? So restless that you hardly slept and feel shattered in the morning? I have written a blog to help as we all know sleep is so important for recovery and keeping the injuries away.
There are so many factors that can affect your sleep. Things like being stressed can contribute to this, however if we look at it by a sporting aspect, again many factors play an important role such as over training and doing too much can of course affect your sleep. Sleep is talked about a lot and how important it is for recovery, yet this particular issue often gets mistaken for over training. In fact the first thing people ask if you are struggling to sleep is “have you upped your training volume and changed your diet?” which of course contributes to poor sleep.
However there is one thing that you may not realise can affect your sleep in a big way and not for good reasons. You might be confused as to why you can’t sleep. Sleep is key and I can’t stress how important sleep is for recovery and for a whole load of other reasons such as your mental wellbeing.
How often have you had a late night and felt rubbish the following day or even a few days later? Your body needs sleep to function and in a sporting aspect sleep is so important for athletes, it is the most important aspect to their training. Having a lack of sleep also effects your mood which in turn can effect your motivation to get out and train. It’s simple sleep that helps your body repair and recover, so you can see why it’s important to recover after a session. But in this blog I am talking about something else that can cause you to have a bad night sleep.
Training can have a huge impact on your sleep and although it may seem obvious the reason why it isn’t and this is how you can stop it and have a better night sleep after training. We have all done it, for example tried to squeeze a run in late or even running with your running club at 7pm until 8pm and by the time you get home it may not give you enough time to eat before you go to sleep and shower etc. Of course eating after a session is very important and there is nothing wrong with training late. However when you exercise your body temperature rises and if the temperature is still high when you go to sleep you will then struggle to go to sleep or even stay awake most of the night feeling restless. Exercise elevates body temperature, and cooling your body becomes increasingly difficult when you are inadequately hydrated and if it’s when you’re trying to sleep your body will struggle to cool you down. So basically if your are not hydrated before you go to bed this is the reason why you are struggling to sleep.
Dehydration is highly likely following long running or a hard session. It takes time to rehydrate from mild dehydration – some studies say around 45 minutes before your body rehydrates. So although you feel tired the heat from your body will keep you awake – does this sound familiar? Some people are so warm I have heard stories that their partners say they are like hot water bottles in bed.
Therefore water is so important for so many reasons after every training session not just for long runs, I always have 2 pints of water after training. Your temperature after running can stay higher as long as 5 hours but if you drink water and if you are hydrated you will be able to sleep better as a result after sessions and your body will be able to cool you down. It is more common that people get sleepless nights after a race or a hard sessions for exactly the same reason.
A simple fix is to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water after your sessions because If you’re not hydrated then at night when your resting its hard for your body to regulate and keep the temperature down, so if you your not hydrated you wont sleep well or at all.
So the key here is to stay hydrated at all times and better sleep means better quality of training and better mood as well as many other benefits. I hope you found this useful. Have you had this issue? let me know…
You can check my YouTube video on this subject HERE
2020 was sure a year not to remember but there are still some positives you can take out of this time period. I have struggled like many others with these uncertain times but I have decided to share some of my top tips on staying motivated and looking after your mental health. I personally believe we have the last bit of the mountain to climb and things will start to return to the new normal slowly.
Firstly, control what you can control and anything else don’t worry about it, it is out of your hands. The stress and worry about something you cannot control is not worth it as it will affect you, so the best way is to relax. What I have learnt over the year is that if I feel anxious or start to panic take a step back for a few minutes, control your breathing by breathing in 4 seconds and then out 7 seconds and it helps calm down the nervous system.
I found having a worry book is very helpful. I spend 10 minutes every day writing in this book my concerns for the day and also how I could deal with them. Once the book is shut, then I stop worrying about things for the rest of the day; I find it very helpful.
Next tip is to get outside daily, just getting outdoors for 5 minutes will go a long way to helping your wellbeing and mental health even if it’s just for a walk. It can give you relaxing time and take in the countryside for example and just getting out in day light will help a lot with your mood. I always find the sun sets me up for a happy day. There will be days you don’t feel like getting out but honestly they are the days which are the best. If I don’t feel like running I force myself to go out and say if I am not enjoying it after 10 minutes I will come back home, but most of the time I stay out longer and end up enjoying it or having one of my best runs. Keep moving don’t just sit about all day if you are working from home – I walk round the house if I can’t go outside for some reason. It’s important to keep moving it will help your health and wellbeing. I always found when I am exercising I relaxed and it’s helping me clear my head and therefore destresses me.
Motivation can be tough without knowing if your race will go ahead or not. Again this is out of your hands and what you can control is your training. Having a goal is very important in staying motivated. It can be something like I want to run a 28minute 5k to I want to podium at the European Sprint Triathlon Championships in my age group. Which is my big goal, and is my motivation to get there. If you believe you can do it then you are half way there and if you keep working at your goal and work hard at it with smart training then you will achieve your goal. Believe me I couldn’t swim in 2012 and in 2019 I won my Age Group at the European Aquathlon Championships. So the impossible can became the possible. Having small little goals too so you can work towards a big goal is a good way for you to work towards and stay motivated.
Breaking your training up with cross training and having a plan to work with I find is also very important in staying motivated. Of course you can work round the plan if days don’t go according to plan as it’s important to be very flexible. Having a plan and breaking up your day is a good way to go and keep your mind busy, that’s how I find it helps me. A good plan should have the right balance of training and structured recovery weeks as well as full rest days etc.
Don’t over train because you will just burn out or give up. Make sure you have the right balance of mixed training with easy training and hard training, the 80/20 percent rule is a golden rule to follow. 80 percent of training easy and 20 percent hard training, this has worked well for me over the years and allowed me to get in consistent training which as allowed me to improve and achieve my goals as well as keeping injuries to a minimal. Mix up training often, don’t do the same things every day and every week, changing this up not only keeps it fun and interesting it’s the way you get better and improve.
I hope these tips are helpful as these are some of the things I have used over the past year to help my training, daily life and enjoy it as well as looking after my mental health. When it comes to exercising we all know how important it is to your health and mental wellbeing so keep moving even if you don’t feel like it. Of course having rest days are important but not too many to a point you stop training altogether. Stay positive and stay safe the good times will come back.
As an ASICS FrontRunner ASICS have gifted me a pair of the GEL-NIMBUS 23 to test out and review so here is my review.
So what is the ASICS GEL-NIMBUS?
The GEL-NIMBUS 23 shoe is a neutral shoe for both ladies and men and provides plenty of cushioning and comfort. This model is for a wide range of runners with neutral striking run technique and provides a bit of stability, comfort and is a solid sturdy shoe perfect for all abilities and for those long runs. However these aren’t light and if you like lighter shoes this model may not be for you. For me it’s a good shoe but not my preferred shoe of choice. The NIMBUS has been going for some time now and is classed as a reliable running shoe and is one of ASICS popular models for all abilities but remains a very popular shoe amongst beginners.
ASICS state: The GEL-NIMBUS™ 23 running shoe continues to offer excellent comfort and long-run impact absorption. Its improved stability provides a more balanced stride that’s followed by smoother transitions. Constructed with comfort and breathability in mind, the upper features a softer engineered mesh design for long runs. Engineered eyelet shaping helps the upper move more naturally with the foot, while a stretchy midfoot panel appropriately hugs the foot to generate better flexibility. Providing the runner with excellent shock absorption and softness, the GEL-NIMBUS™ 23 delivers more compression in the heel thanks to its softer GEL™ technology cushioning unit and contoured design lines. Also, a gender-specific TRUSSTIC™ device provides an articulated amount of support in the right direction for men and women to help generate a smooth transition. Under the toe, the inclusion of gender-specific pillars help cushion the body and help runners experience a softer feel. Simultaneously, the ORTHOLITE™ X-55 sockliner equips runners with a forgiving, yet responsive stride. The components of the GEL-NIMBUS™ 23 shoe help increase the softness without forgoing the integrity of the shoe’s ride. The 23rd version of the GEL-NIMBUS™ continues to make advancements within the lineage by offering improved support and comfort for distance runners.
Some key features of the GEL-NIMBUS include:
• ENGINEERED MESH UPPER IMPROVES BREATHABILITY
• GEL™ TECHNOLOGY CUSHIONING
• TRUSSTIC™ TECHNOLOGY IMPROVES STABILITY
• FLYTEFOAM™ PROPEL TECHNOLOGY CUSHIONING INCREASES IMPACT ABSORPTION AND RESPONSIVENESS
• REFLECTIVE ACCENTS IMPROVE VISIBILITY IN LOW-LIGHT CONDITIONS
• 3D SPACE CONSTRUCTION IMPROVES COMPRESSION AT FOOTSTRIKE
What is new compared to the previous models?
A few minor upgrades have been produced; the Gel cushioning allows the heel to have more expansion which allows for a softer and more absorbing foot strike feeling as well as the laces being adapted slightly to allow a more foot flexibility as well as making it a more comfortable shoe.
So how does it compare?
The shoe weighs 309 grams so it’s not one of ASICS light shoes. The material allows your feet to breath and it appears light weight and very similar to other ASICS models. The laces are normal running laces with the tongue being quite excessive. The tongue is bulky but provides that comfort you’re after. It’s the same for the heel quite thick but provides that little stability you are after inside. The grip appears to be slightly different to the previous model and feels very robust and a solid shoe that again will provide some stability when running. You will definitely be able to get plenty of mileage from this shoe because I believe it is built to last a long time. When putting the shoe on there was plenty of room for my foot and felt like a perfect fit. What I found was it was very comfortable and the heel and tongue made it feel like it was giving me some stability as well as giving me that comfort. What I did notice as mentioned before is that they are slightly heavier than my other trainers but of course I use light shoes more.
I took the Gel-NIMBUS out for a long run of around 60 minutes and had no problems at all, no sore toes from hitting the front of the shoe; I always go up around half a size anyway. I found the shoe very responsive to my easier runs while maintaining that comfortable feeling and feeling like the shoe is giving me more support than my normal models I use. However when I took it for a speed test it certainly maintained that comfortable feeling with my foot and supporting my foot. But I found it was not a very responsive shoe for speed training but that’s ok as that’s not the GEL-NIMBUS purpose. I do see that they do a light version and would love to try those and compare those.
Conclusion: It is a very popular shoe model in the ASICS range that caters for all abilities. This shoe is built to last in regards to running lots of mileage in them; the way the shoe is designed is to be sturdy & robust to give you that stability as well as comfort. I believe the Gel-Nimbus is a perfect shoe if you’re looking at doing plenty of miles in them and long runs, with stability while keeping your feet comfortable. Lets face it, keeping your feet comfortable is important and if that is your main aim then this is the shoe for you. However it is a heavier shoe and for me it’s not a training or race shoe for speed work, but that’s not the purpose of this shoe -you need to look at another shoe model if you want speed. If you have been happy with previous versions, then I am pretty sure you will like the 23. I think it’s better than the last version and a sturdy running shoe for long runs.
Are you setting up your heart rate zones correctly? The chances are you are not….here is my guide.
Firstly, why do this? Well getting the right zones can help you improve, keep injuries to a minimal and not over train. These three key things help you in consistently training which is the key. Unfortunately people think they are getting the zones right but most of the time they are getting it wrong just like when they say they are training easy and they are not. Getting the right zone sorted for you is a must and a power tool in improving and getting that desired personal best you want. Not to mention training in the right zones is a much smarter way to train.
Heart rate zones can be different for different activities such as my cycling zones are different to my running heart rate zones.
The biggest mistake people make is using the default zones on their watch. This is because they automatically set and are adjusted by the watch. So therefore you need to know your HR max or do a test which I will explain in a minute and manually change the zones. The next mistake is people use a HR wrist monitor on the watch – it is not as accurate than having a strap so my advice is always use a strap if you can as the wrist monitor built into the watch can be way out.
Everyone has a different HR max and the 220 minus age rule was proven not to work. For example one of my friends is the same age as me but has a much higher HR max then me.
So how do we get the zones? Well the key is to find out your maximum heart rate whilst running. This can be done by a VO2 test in a lab which will be very accurate or by running for ten minutes as fast as you can with a heart rate monitor attached to you and then take the max from there. Of course this won’t be as accurate as a lab test but it will be near it. Once you have got your Heart Rate max you then need to get the zones right. This is simple – you just use an online heart rate calculator. I have put a link HERE to what one I recommend to use. Now the reason I use this one is others can differ quite a bit and I found from the various lab tests I did and the zones I was given in the studies I took part in this one always got the zones right and the same as the sports scientists zones they gave me.
Now once you have got your zones you will need to go manually into your watch/dashboard setting and change them, once that’s done you’re ready to go. You have Zones split from 1 to 5, with one being easy training and 5 being maximal training.
Once you have the zones what should you do with the zones?
Well lots of people follow the 80/20 rule with 80% of training in zones 1 and 2 and the rest hard. For me I train hard days hard and easy days easy. There is no moderate and this is one of the biggest mistakes people make that they train too hard all the time or over train by moderate training. Heart rate running is very good and if you find you’re 60% of your heart rate max you can be improving at a faster rate than just speed training alone. Long runs at 60% 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. Last year I spent most of my training doing these long runs that proved to work as it has done since I started doing this in 2015. At the same time by making you more efficient it will improve your running economy.
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. If you don’t know what VO2 is please read my old blog about VO2 (HERE)
A lot of marathon runners use this because instead of pounding away for 13 miles on a long run for example they can go longer at an easy pace and wont 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. 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 MY body felt fine and improved.
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 simple guide can be by increasing the distance or time in your run 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.
I hope you found this useful – it’s a small guide which should help and give you the basics. I have written previous blogs about heart rate running which can be found HERE You can also see my YouTube video with a more in depth step by step guide on how to set your heart rate zones up HERE
Its been such a strange year and it is still very much uncertainty across the world. COVID-19 has affected us all this year with lockdown and one by one races being cancelled. Travel plans, training, daily life all changed and we had to adapt in these uncertain times.
For me, everything was gearing up for the 2020 European Sprint Triathlon Championships in Malmo which was scheduled for August. Despite lockdown and being restricted to going out once a day for exercise and essentials I was very much on track for this race. With my coaches we decided that with the pools shut it was a good opportunity to work even more on the bike. Although I had been training more on the bike, coach Mark Shepard said this was a great time to work more on the bike to improve. So with no swimming I did more bike sessions and also Craig Coggle, my strength coach, focused on land base workouts to keep those swim muscles going.
Despite all of this, I had a gut feeling the whole year would be a write-off – I didn’t panic because it was out of my control and the main thing was to stay safe. The European Championships had been moved a year and in the same week British Triathlon cancelled all qualifiers and National championships. As soon as I heard this Mark told me to have two weeks off and do what I fancied with no plan and all easy training – I did and really enjoyed it.
This mentally helped me so much with not knowing what was going to happen in future months; it was also time not to over train and just enjoy my hobby more and tick along.
We then ramped the training up once we came out of lockdown and focused on races towards the end of the year. I managed to race 4 times with 2 wins and a 2nd place, I also managed a PB and a course record but this was off the back of consistent training and not over doing it. It was a short season for me and now I am having a break and time out for a few weeks from training. But the key is not to get carried away with more time on your hands.
Of course no training is a waste because it has so many heath benefits so it is important to keep going and not give up. The problem is though with another lockdown in force, people will have more time on their hands. This will have a negative effect on training, with more time on your hands and if you are like me, you will want to train more and more but that’s not the way to go. The great saying is too much of a good thing is a bad thing. As a result you risk burning out, getting long term injuries and giving up with no goals. So I have two key things that you should focus on while in lockdown/winter.
Make a long term goal – this is very important in keeping you motivated. It can be anything from wanting to start running to running a marathon in a certain time. Now the key is not to over train but be patient, work towards it slowly and that way your see the progress. Have structured recovery weeks, rest days (rest means total rest) and test yourself regularly to see where you are so that you can work towards your goal. I have written it many times before that easy running means easy and can improve you a lot so don’t think that you have to run fast all the time. A well balance program has more easy sessions than tough sessions.
The second is work on something over lockdown/winter. Something that you have not focused on before. This can be a weakness of yours and you can improve a lot from working on that weakness. I improved a lot on the bike this year by working on that area. You can work on things like technique in running and swimming – this can make you more efficient and you can improve from this. Maybe you have neglected strength work and again that can make you faster but also keep the injuries away. Something I like working on during the winter is my running technique – I start doing more drills and focus on something like my arm drive. During easy runs I do a check of how I am running and seeing if I have gone back to bad habits. This doesn’t have to be a major thing it can be a little thing, but working on a weakness will give you great gains in the long term.
My conclusion is that no training is a waste but you need to be smart in your training and don’t over do it. Base training and easy training is the way forward and once you have a race that is going ahead you can ramp up the intensity. Having a long term goal will keep you motivated and training – that works for me. Always work on a weakness to improve; something people ignore and just like to stay in their comfort zones. Stay safe over this winter and keep working on your goals and move forward as we will beat this.
I could not wait to get my hands on these shoes. I have never been so excited to get my hands on a pair of shoes. Before these shoes went on the market they already started breaking records. Jan Frodeno breaking the Ironman record and Eilish McColgan breaking the great south run record just on the prototypes. Originally, they were due to be released for the Paris Marathon, but got postponed due to COVID-19. Let me introduce you to the METARACER by ASICS.
ASICS gifted me a pair of the METARACERS and here is my review. The running world has gone mad recently, since we saw the marathon record being broken in carbon plate shoes. ASICS have had these quietly in the background, being tested by the professionals and is there answer on taking on its rivals in the carbon shoe war. It’s no question that records are being broken with carbon plate shoes and they are a game changer for sure, there is no doubt. At first I thought it was hyped up but looking in more detail, if you want to run faster then a carbon shoe can be the way forward?
Firstly, ASICS state: The METARACER™ Tokyo shoe is made for runners who want the most out of their fast-paced training and racing. Featuring a limited model offering, this iteration is displayed with a Sunrise Red colorway to symbolize and celebrate the city of Tokyo and the country of Japan. The upper is designed to capture as much airflow as possible, which helps keep feet cool. This cooling provided by the shoe means your body does not have to work as hard to keep you cool. The upper also has drainage ports to release any water that might get into the shoe. GUIDESOLE™ technology features an improved toe-spring shape. These two components are combined to reduce the movement of the ankle joint, helping runners save energy with each stride. Combined with a carbon fiber plate in the midsole, this shoe generates a rolling motion that actually propels the foot forward, producing a totally unique running experience. The METARACER™ Tokyo shoe with GUIDESOLE™ technology is designed to help you take your racing to the next level.
Designed for the neutral runner, with a heel drop of 9mm and weighs just 190 grams, it already makes it sound fast but is it?
ASICS have gone a different direction to its rivals making a carbon plate shoe by making it closer to the ground with a lower heel drop to give that curved sole, while using there FLYTEFOAM MIDSOLE technology.
So first impressions? The sunrise colour stands out for me, the colour is very bright and the black logo stands out. So the funky colour ticks the box for me, but it’s not about the colour. Firstly it felt light holding it; the tongue was very thin and no excess material. The material felt very light and breathable, the laces were very thin too. When looking under the shoe it has lots of rubber, which I guess is to make it last, unlike it’s rivals where you don’t get many miles on them. However they did not look like they had much grip and if it’s wet will it still be quick and not slip?
When putting them on the METARACER felt super light. Unlike the NOVABLAST they felt a lot lower on the ground and felt they are going to be quick, but are they? When testing them on my threshold run, I have to say I was very impressed and I now know the hype of these shoes. I did my threshold run and was trying to slow myself down but it felt hard to do so. I was running at a faster but very comfortable pace. When doing my run I had to run 4 miles at threshold and I thought I would struggle because I went off a bit too fast. It was wet too but I felt like I was bouncing and had loads of energy. In fact my heart rate was at least 7 beats down than normal for this session and I was running faster. I felt very strong and not tired at all, I finished the session buzzing because I didn’t feel tired and was so impressed with these shoes. The METARACER felt super light on when running. Doing a longer run they felt fine and quick, but I prefer not using racing shoes for longer runs.
What did I find from this shoe? I was feeling very fresh after my runs and I certainly believe that it does save energy as ASICS claim. What does that relate to in a racing environment? Well in theory you can run harder for longer and faster and you can therefore get that desired PB. The METARACER has been designed for Marathons but there is no reason at all why you wouldn’t run a 5k in these as they are so quick.
ASICS has its own GUIDESOLE technology in the midsole, which has a curved sole which will help you propel forward in a rolling motion. With the carbon plate inputted too this is designed to use less energy.
Conclusion – I am hugely impressed by this carbon plate shoe. Do I think I can run faster or PB in this shoe? well the answer is yes. Even with the grip underneath which I thought would be slippery in the rain was not and I was buzzing after my session. What impressed me is running at a faster pace, but at a lot lower heart rate. This proves to me that this is a game changer, super fast shoe. Ask my wife – she said I was praising this shoe so much. This will be a race shoe for me. However the question is how long will the shoe last? The extra rubber shows it should do but I don’t know.
ASICS kindly sent me a pair of the new ASICS DYNAFLYTE™ 4 to try and test out and here is my review. Now this shoe I have been waiting for a while and the reason I am excited to try these is because I have had every model since its release and it’s my favourite shoe – I use the DYNAFLYTE for my longs runs and in races.
So what does ASICS state about the DYNAFLYTE™ 4: “This lightweight shoe sports FLYTEFOAM™ Lyte technology to put a spring in your step, along with rear-foot GEL™ technology to ensure shock absorption and a softer, more luxurious feeling underfoot. The plush shoe also benefits from our I.G.S™ (Impact Guidance System) technology which ensures you get a cleaner stride, strategically enhancing your natural gait as you push for that new personal best. Furthermore, engineered jacquard mesh means feet stay cool and dry, while the shoe’s reflectivity ensures you’ll always stand out. The DYNAFLYTE™ 4 model is a durable running shoe for neutral, fast-paced athletes looking to go the distance and push boundaries”. It is a road running shoe and it’s the shoe that gave me a half marathon PB in 2018. The DYNAFLYTE has a heel drop of 8mm, 11mm for the front, 19mm for the rear-foot and weighs 241grams.
First impressions is the model looks very similar to the 3 model. The colour is flash and you know I love flash colours. I don’t have the 3s anymore but when comparing it to the 2s which I still have a pair of, it felt much lighter. The laces look thinner and lighter too. The material had changed and seems more breathable, the tongue was perfect with no excess material. I found the back had a bit more cushioning but when putting the shoe on it still gave me the comfy slipper effect from the previous models.
How does it compare? So I put the the DYNAFLYTE 4 through its paces. The shoe was light just like previous models .This shoe retails around £130 in the UK which makes it affordable. The material felt light and allows your feet to breathe very well. The shoe felt very comfortable on and had plenty of room. The way to describe this is they felt super comfortable just like having a glove on. The grip is for the road runner as it is a road running shoe, however the grip is similar to previous models and will last a lot of miles.
I put the DYNAFLYTE 4 through its paces and ran some long runs; they felt comfy just like the previous model and they felt quick. The sole of the shoe looks strong and looks as if it will last a long time again like previous models. This model for me is definitely a long run shoe that maintains the comfort. I ran the Fleet Half Marathon with the 2s in 2018 and I dipped under 1 hour 20 min. I was super impressed how comfy they were. So this newer model does not disappoint. I find this model helps my Achilles and never troubles it, however with speed work I prefer other models, but I have tested these out on my speed sessions and no problem at all as I felt quick here too.
Conclusion: My favourite ASICS shoe which just gets better, this shoe will not disappoint and I spend most of my weekly running mileage on this particular model of shoe, it’s very robust and light. So in a nutshell it’s a perfect running shoe for long runs and races up to half marathon. I have raced races with this model in the past and would continue to race with these shoes. However I do prefer racing shoes for shorter distances.
Check out my full video review on my YOUTUBE HERE. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel.
For most people they are under the impression that they should go hard in every session. They get fixed on certain paces all the time because they think they will not improve and therefore neglect the easy days and even go too hard on easy days as a result. The most common thought is “if I train hard and fast I will get faster” but that is not the case and you need to be clever in your training and like many of the pros they train in zone 2 to get faster. We all know that well known saying “go slow to get fast”. If you keep training hard you with keep having bad training days and likely spend a long time each year on the sidelines.
What is zone 2 training? Zone 2 is steady training just coming above the easy zone, It’s not moderate or anything above. The main benefit form zone 2 heart rate or zone 2 power is that it builds aerobic base and endurance. By Improving aerobic capacity this improves your ability to maintain a faster pace for a longer period of time. Of course you still need to do the higher intensity efforts but zone 2 is the basis and foundation from which to begin to build your faster pace. If you have a strong aerobic capacity it will also allow you to recover quicker between those higher intensity efforts. For example, with a better aerobic fitness, you will be able to perform intervals with a shorter rest in between and hit pace stronger.
Why is Zone 2 training important?
One of my coaches Mark Shepherd is very critical on me for my training and the majority of his training he gives me is all in zone 2. He stresses the importance of zone training every week. I also believe in this training; before Mark I went on studies on how to improve and the main finding was I was training too hard although I thought it was easy. I had my zones adjusted to my heart rate max and since that study in 2015, I have improved a lot from training in zone 2. So when Mark gave me my training I was no stranger to this. Of course lots of people think they are doing it right but I see it all the time on Strava and can tell it’s wrong. Zone 2 training should be a big bulk of your weekly training and for the benefits mentioned above it also leaves you feeling like you can go on for ever, fresh, recover and therefore really target your hard runs and not get fatigued, which of course will keep the injuries away. If the injuries stay away then to me that’s a major importance in any training, not only will you get consistent training which is the key, but if you get consistent training you are very likely to improve. If you keep over training and get injured you will just end up chasing your fitness and making excuses. With zone 2 training you should be able to maintain a conversation very easily; I always like to focus on form as it’s easy to do whilst at this heart rate. What is there not to like about it? It’s a well-known method and your body needs to repair – you just cannot keep breaking your body down with hard training. I always point out to people even the best marathon runners in the world run slow miles.
How to work it out?
Firstly you need a watch and a heart rate monitor. You need to know your heart rate max and once you have that you can put your heart rate in many calculators online HERE or watch my YouTube videos HERE and you will get your zones from there. You do need to make sure the HR max is right, you can do tests like: 5k Time Trial, FTP test, coopers test, VO2 Max lab test and so on etc or even use a recent race result. Do not use your watch automatic/present zones as 9/10 times they are wrong zones. Once you know your heart rate max you can get your zones. Don’t go by pace or mileage, I just go by time and follow the zone strictly. By sticking to lower heart rates, over time you will find that you are likely to increase your pace at the same heart rate output. This is due to increased aerobic efficiency – yes I had to walk up hills to start off with but that was a way my body was telling me I am pushing too hard. You may have to walk but in time it improves. When you become more efficient in time you will then be able to do more training hours at a lower heart rate. Check out old blog HERE about if Heart Rate training is worth it.
Why do people ignore this method?
People are simply not patient and they expect instant results and that won’t happen overnight. At least 2/4 of my runs a week are in zone 2. When I first did this training it was a few weeks before I saw my pace improve, but found I could train more and on the hard sessions go harder. Over the years the pace is sometimes at a pace which I was doing back in 2015 too hard. I have improved a lot from this but it takes times, it could be weeks or months to see improvement but you have to keep at it and your see the benefits. Stick with it and you will make improvements and of course with anything you will struggle to get quick results so why break your body and get injured when you can train smart?
My conclusion is it is a big topic and this is a quick simple blog about this; I have written many in depth blogs in the past and YouTube Videos so check them out. I train like this, my athletes do and I have many friends doing this training who have all gone to do well whether it’s a PB or a medal. I believe in this and when I look back over the years I have improved so much and continue to improve. The medals I have won are due to training smart and not over training. Thanks for reading and what do you think about zone 2 training?
Scheduling training around your daily life commitments can be hard for a number of reasons, such as family commitments, working hours and so on. For me, it is very difficult because not only do I have a full time job and therefore work 5 days a week, I have to do all my training after work and around spending time with my wife, family and friends which is very tough. So I decided to write a blog aiming to help you structure your training plan, combining my knowledge as a running coach and my experience from being coached.
I am very lucky to be coached by great coaches; Mark Sheperd not only coaches me in my running and cycling he also manages the structure of my other training as to when I should do each session and discipline. John Wood and Carolyn Bond work on my swimming and Craig Coggle sorts out my strength training.
After being given my training sessions from my coaches, I sit down and look at a three to six week plan with the addition of an easier 4th/7th week that incorporates more rest. My plan is also my diary, so before I schedule any training I first write down all my commitments for that 7 week period so I can work around those.
With any plan you don’t want to go straight into hard training, so all my training starts off at my baseline and increases weekly for three weeks. The following three weeks I just maintain my training. Then, for the 7th week it’s an easier week with less reps and duration of training etc. In peak season I may change my plan to a three to four week plan, working around my races and getting plenty of recovery. Could this work for you? My advice here is that it’s important you get the right balance for you.
This schedule can be adapted depending on your goals. For instance, I’m training for triathlons and need to train in 3 disciplines: running, cycling and swimming. I also put 2 strength sessions into a week to prevent injuries and make me stronger. For me I need to fit in the following each week:
4 Bike sessions
2 Strength sessions
If I am struggling to fit in a session as my day hasn’t gone to plan, then I will try and reschedule it. If one day you’re struggling to follow your plan, try going out with the time you have, a short session is still better than nothing – but remember rest and recovery is key. Numerous research papers show that having a week off from training doesn’t do too much to your fitness but after that your fitness declines quickly. So as you can see I spend a lot of time training. I am looking at decreasing my running and swimming over the course of the year to focus more on the bike and improve in this area.
So I take my key sessions from each area and plot them on my plan. My key running sessions include one speed session and one long run. This is very similar to swimming, focussing on an aerobic speed session and one drill session. Once I have worked out my key sessions, I make sure that my hard sessions are followed up by easy sessions. I never have hard sessions together. Once I have prioritised these, I’ll schedule in other sessions. I always make sure that I get one day full rest a week and two for my recovery week. So hard days are hard and easy days are very easy and rest days mean rest and no exercise.
Sounds easy right? Well, then you need to figure out what you actually want to achieve in each session. For example, no point me putting in four easy runs if I want to get faster. Once you have the basics of the plan you can then ask yourself what your end goal is. Just because it’s in the plan it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to do it because life happens. If you are planning for a marathon you will want to do longer speed reps than if you were running a 5k. For example at least two of my runs I run at 60% my heart rate max. The reason I run these is that it has been proven that running at a slower pace on your long runs increases your endurance and improves your efficiency which in time will make you faster. When running at this pace you’re also teaching your body to burn fat more than carbohydrates, which is a much better energy source to use. By doing these runs at this pace you also make your body recover quicker, so you can be ready to go again the next day for those hard sessions. For me, I used to find that I would go hard on my long runs and be very sore the next day, now with a slower pace my legs feel fresh the next day. Remember that the plan may always need to change, so be prepared to change things up regularly and just because it’s in the plan it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to do it because life does get in the way.
With any plan make sure it’s aimed for your ultimate goal, it’s like a jigsaw puzzle with small goals making the parts and once you put it altogether it should reach your ultimate goal. I like to set high targets and sometimes may not be able to achieve them. But having high targets makes you work towards them and train hard to get to them. So for example, some of my mini goals for this year included improve swimming, improve running times, PB in certain races etc. My main targets for 2019 was defending my National Aquathlon Championships, getting on the podium at the European Aquathlon Championships and focusing more on Triathlons. So it’s very important to think ahead for the year and not just short term. When putting together your plan make sure you have small targets, followed by one big goal. So if you are planning a marathon, for example, your training will build up to it including races leading up to it. That leads me on to the next part.
Whatever your goal is you need to build the plan for this. Most importantly, if it’s leading to one race I’d recommend that you find races that come in the lead up to it and use these as training runs. There can be a number of reasons why you chose races in your plan and these can be things like building up the race distance, experiencing the race atmosphere or maintaining your race pace within a competitive field.
Every session has a purpose, especially when your lifestyle leaves you with limited time. Make sure you know what you want to get out of every session. It might be as simple as running a mile and then next week increasing to two miles.
Finally, it is important to schedule a taper before your race so that you are fresh for your race. Tapering plays lots of mind games – phantom pains, questions such as “am I losing fitness?” etc. For a race such as the World Aquathlon Championships, personally, I will start bringing the following down over a course of weeks as it’s a big race for me. So for strength training the amount of sets I do gets reduced over a few weeks and on race week I don’t do a strength session. Running distance comes down but the intensity stays high. For example, if I normally do 6x1k reps I might do 4 with different paces. Long runs come down too, I do the similar thing for the bike and swimming. I don’t taper for every race but for my important races this is what I normally do. Again you have to find what works best for you.
Once you have done your plan you need to access it regularly and monitor if its working for you – whilst you’re testing things out, your plan will change a lot, so don’t feel like you have to stick to exactly what you’ve planned. You also need to assess yourself with tests during your plan – my plan will include a long run at the same heart rate and pace towards the end of my programme, so I can assess the data. I will do other assessments throughout too, this helps to gage if the plan is effective in improving areas where I want to improve.
Most of all if I can’t fit training in I just take my day off; rest is key and don’t worry about missed sessions, but having a plan helps you more than not having one. I have at least one day rest day in my weekly plan, this allows you to recover and get stronger and must not be neglected.
If you are interested in run coaching and planning, please check-out my coaching website HERE
Hope this blog is useful and please check my YOUTUBE channel HERE for more help and tips on training.