No races? Two key things to work on!

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.

Why You Need Different Shoes for Different Workouts

This blog will go through the reasons why you need different shoes for different workouts and how to plan this into your training and races. I have many shoes – I know it could be costly but then investing in the right shoes for the right activity is very important. Having the right shoe will not only help you get the most out of the session but of course it will help keep injuries away. My shoe rack is filled with trainers from gym shoes to running shoes. Your feet need a combination of cushioning and stability when you run to help you avoid injury.

Deciding what shoe to have and what shoes to use in workout is very important. Making sure the shoe is right for your work out is crucial for many types of reasons. The wrong shoe type for the wrong workout can cause problems and injuries, so when deciding what to use or buy it is also important you invest some time choosing what you need and not just jumping into a getting something because the shoe looks flashy.

It’s important you get your gait checked out from a reliable establishment -not just somewhere that wants to sell you anything. Running in the wrong shoes can injure you and keep you out for a long time. Just a few miles in the wrong shoes can be a disaster and the same goes for wearing shoes that are too worn; this has the same effect. A big mistake people make is they wait until they get holes in the upper shoe before changing them – well what about the sole? The sole could be worn which means it needs replacing. Just because your last pair lasted for years or thousands of miles, it doesn’t mean the others will and it’s likely they were worn well before that. I always check my shoes after every run to see how worn they are. This allows me to monitor the wear and then replace them when needed. I find having a spare pair in hand ready to go is the way forward too, otherwise you will be put off changing shoes.

A big mistake people make when they use new shoes is that they jump straight into them and run long miles without wearing them in. This is a big no – with any new shoe you need to break them in because if you don’t you will get injured. Your feet need to mould to the shoe; my tip on this is just to wear them in walking around the house for a few days and do some very short runs before you take them on more mileage.  Anyway on to the different shoes for different sessions.

There are three different types of shoes to help you decide and take in:

·         Maximum support running shoes

·         Structured cushioning / stability shoes

·         Neutral shoes

Maximum support: The most supportive type of shoe to help with a runner who pronates. ASICS state this trainer “includes features like medial posts (ASICS DUOMAX™), which are higher density materials on the inner side of the midsole to stop it from collapsing as the heel everts onto it. Maximum support running shoes also tend to have a carbon rubber outer sole for durability and are built on a straight last (mould), which offers maximum ground contact and stability.”

Structured cushioning / stability shoes: They are not as heavy as maximum support trainers but still offer good support and is the most popular choice of shoe for runners.

Neutral shoes: These shoes are normally lighter and more control over your foot movement and therefore able to run faster with little support.

Strength training – well that’s no brainer you would need to have shoes with a little stability so when lifting weights you have that grip and helps protect your feet from straining. But for me the most important area is my running shoes as I spend a lot of time running I need to get these shoes right. Firstly I mentioned above that you should get your gait analysed which can be done in a shop, but its important it’s from someone that knows what they are doing such as a running coach. From doing this you will be able to find if you need stability or not. This is important as it’s not easy to find out what type of runner you are without someone checking for you. For example, you might over pronate so you would have to get the right shoe for your running style. Once you know what kind of runner you are such as a neutral then you have to decide what shoes you want. The mistake people make is having one shoe for everything as mentioned before so you need to look at ideally two pairs.

I am a neutral runner and this type of shoe is where you get the most choices, well that’s what I find. I have lots of running shoes so I will have light weight shoes for speed sessions and races. The reason I run with this type is purely because my feet need to be used to this type of shoe as I race in them and of course never try something on race day that you haven’t before as that has disaster written all over it. So my go to shoes for speed sessions and running races have been the ASICS Roadhawks as they are light, provide comfort and have a little bit of cushioning. I would use them up to 10k, however for Triathlon races I use the ASICS Noosa Tri’s purely because they are a racing shoe and are easy to get on during a race because of the laces and the tongue. If I was to run a marathon I would go with more comfort. However with the carbon shoe war with companies trying to get the fastest shoe out I would race with the ASICS Metaracer. Purely because it is super light and a racing shoe. Not to mention it is designed to make you run faster because of the carbon plate but also the energy saving it gives you. So for me it’s all about having a lightweight running shoe that is designed to be fast when doing races and speed work. Now if I was to run with racing shoes for longer distances I would get injured and my legs would be in bits.

That brings me on to the second pair of shoes you should own and that is a long run shoe. A long run shoe normally weighs more than racing shoes and is more comfortable than racing shoes. For longer runs, which is where I spend more time doing my runs than speed work, it’s important that you look after your feet. As a result some stability, cushioning and comfort is what I am after for a long run shoe. It makes sense to look after your feet after pounding them, so having a more comfy shoe with stability is a must purely because you will be doing high mileage. I always look for a more robust shoe that is going to last high mileage and allow my feet to be comfortable on the run. I run with the ASICS DynaFltyes as they are perfect for me in long runs. I wouldn’t run regularly in long runs with racing shoes as I personally want to maintain comfort and look after my feet.

The two types of shoes I mentioned above are for road runners but what if you want to train off road or even race? Well you need to cover yourself again in this area. It all depends on the terrain – whether it is trail or all grass?  Trail shoes provide great grip and are an all-round shoe to use on trail runs and races. They are heavy, tend to have a lot of cushioning to help feet, grip for the mud and a very strong solid robust shoe. Basically in a nutshell trail trainers are designed exactly for what is in the name and the purpose of the shoe. If you run trails without the right footwear such as a normal pair of running shoes, you will slip all over the place and won’t have grip and you are likely to get injured plus the shoe will be ruined, don’t make that mistake I did. You can use these on races but if you are racing cross country mainly in mud then you might want to look a cross country spikes which are different to track running spikes. Don’t make the mistake in using those in cross country as they are not designed for that and you will get injured. Cross country spike shoes offer better grip than trail shoes and are super lightweight and therefore I always find I can run cross country races faster in spikes then trails, but be aware you spend a lot of time on your toes which can give you stiff calf’s if you’re not used to running like this.

It is important you find the right shoe that works for you and your style. I would always recommend researching into shoes before you buy a new pair. Running shoes are a personal thing and just because your friend does well in a particular model, it doesn’t mean that it will work for you. Make sure you don’t wait for the shoes to go dead, you want to prevent injuries. This is is a small guide on the right shoes for the right type of running and hopefully you find this helpful to assist you in your decision when choosing what shoes to have in your collection.

Check out my YOUTUBE Video on this subject HERE

Is this the next game changer shoe?

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.

Check out my YouTube review on this HERE

My Favourite shoe, ASICS DYNAFLYTE™ 4 review… will it disappoint?

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.

Controlling what you can control…

When things don’t go to plan do you panic? Get stressed out? Sleepless nights? Loss or appetite?. This is not just for training but in normal life with many issues that can contribute to this. But a lot of these issues that may cause stress are actually out of our control so why do we worry about them?

In training/races it’s important you control what you can control but not just for your training, for life as well. This is a valuable life skill that you should try to master so that it can help you in life and of course in your training and races. If your able to learn this skill you will go a long way in your training and races.

My mindset coach Gobinder told me how to deal with things I can’t control and we have been working together since 2016 which has made me mentally a better athlete and this has helped me in day-to-day life as well.

What do I mean control what you can control?  Well in simple terms you control what you can control and what you can’t control don’t worry about it as you can’t do anything about it. Just like COVID-19 – stressing about races getting cancelled – you can’t control this. Stressing what others are doing in their training – you are your own person so don’t copy others just because they are doing a certain training session doesn’t mean you have to do it.

What I have learnt over the years is to control the controllable which has allow me to be the best I can be. Gobinder taught me this valuable skill. In 2016 It was the day before the World Aquathlon Championships in Cozumel in Mexico. I was staying on the mainland and was told we could get a boat across to the island early morning in time for the race. Well this was not the case and I found this out the day before the race. I panicked big time and stressed so much, I ended up packing my bags with my wife and jumping on a boat to the island to look for an available room; this seemed like an impossible job with over 3000 athletes on a tiny island.  We went looking for a room walking into hotels and asking around and I was getting tired being on my feet for long hours, not eating and drinking enough. I was stressing more and more as the time went on. We found a hotel in the end. But the damage was done as the following day at the race I struggled and was just shattered. I could have controlled diet and hydration. The only thing I needed to worry about was finding a hotel which we found but again I could of relaxed a bit, so learnt the hard way.

Staying calm and relaxed is key and yes you will have bad days in training but learn from your mistakes. Learning from your mistakes is very important because if you learn from them you will improve and these bad days won’t happen again. I find that if you take positives out of anything such as a bad runs, you can turn it into a positive next time.

More on this subject on my video on my YouTube channel HERE Please subscribe.

Ventilate Sleeveless

ASCIS gifted me the Ventilate Sleeveless in the Grand Shark colour – here’s the verdict.

First impressions – I like the colour and it feels lightweight. ASICS state  “a lightweight, seamless fabric that helps reduce chafing. Made to increase breathability, this top also features reflective accents throughout to boost visibility when running in low-light conditions” and that it reduces chafing by its Seamless knit fabric. I agree that the top is very lightweight, the material at the back does not seem breathable but seems to collect the sweat. At the back of the top there are vents which allow your back to breathe and feel much cooler then the front.

I have been wearing the Ventilate Sleeveless for my long runs and fast sessions; I found with my long runs it was perfect with no chaffing at all or on the arms. The fit was a perfect small for me, not baggy and not tight. However I did find that it felt warm on when doing my speed sessions around the top front of the top but only slightly. I have washed it many times and it’s just like new and the colour has not faded.

When’s best to wear it? Its fine for everyday use such as going to the gym, so it is not only for running – that’s what I use it for.

My conclusion is that it’s a lightweight breathable top that is perfect for the summer long runs.

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Making a training plan around your life

Scheduling training around your daily life commitments can be hard for a number of reasons, such as family commitments, working hours and so on. For me, it is very difficult because not only do I have a full time job 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:

3-4 Runs

3-4 Swims

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.

Difference between swimming in a pool and open water!

There are many obvious differences between swimming in the pool and open water but I am going to discuss some differences between the two to help you with your swimming. You may be a strong pool swimmer but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will be strong at open water swimming.

Pool swimming is safer than open water purely because you are in a confined area and normally people and lifeguards are near you.  So the fear of being unsafe is mainly taken away and with many pools now you can touch the bottom at both ends. There are many benefits from training in the pool to stop you from being bored doing laps and to help you improve.

The first thing you can do is accurate reps which you can time/pace and see your improvement each week. Depending on the length of the pool you can have a set plan that will help you in your training. You can take equipment; most pools allow this. If you want to improve its important not to just get in the pool and swim endless lengths at the same speed as improvement won’t come. Doing reps using pull buoys and paddles can help you get stronger, faster and become more buoyant. Swimming equipment is harder to use in the sea .Drills can easily be done in the pool due to no waves or current. In open water it will be more difficult. These are three areas that are important in the pool. When it comes down to the race day such as a Triathlon/Aquathlon in the pool it’s pretty easy as there is no open water fear and it feels safer. The only problem with pool races is that you’re not really racing others as it is mainly a timed event and you go off one by one.

With open water swimming there is a lot to consider but also so many benefits. Safety wise – depending where you do the open water swimming you need to consider if it’s safe. For example I swim in the sea but if the tide is really rough there is no way I am going to swim. Even in the summer I will use my wetsuit swimming in the sea as I feel much safer and buoyant with it on. Now with open water you can’t really do drills because of the unpredictability of waves. Reps times might be different due to cross tides and weather etc. So one week you might be flying along and the next struggling to move. Also, using equipment such as pull buoy and kick board will be a lot harder. People are put off with open water with the fear of something happening to them. Most seafronts have designated areas to swim which have lifeguards and the same with lakes and rivers.

The benefits of open water swimming is that it can improve you a lot, help with breathing purely because of the random waves etc. You get stronger because you are swimming against current rather than a pool where there is not current. Sea swimming is good for the skin and is proven to also help with recovery due to the salt in the water. If you are swimming in the sea it’s always good to mix up the pace and have a plan, instead of just getting in and swimming at one pace. The temperature of the water, depending on the time of the year you swim, may not be higher than 19 degrees towards the end of summer. September is normally the warmest time to swim in the year, whereas pool temperatures are kept high to around 28 degrees all year round. Air temperature can play a factor such as it can be a cold day in September but the temperature of the sea water can be warmer than air temperature which can affect your breathing. The body works harder in open water due to it being colder than the pool. You cannot stand up in the middle of a lake or sea, whereas you can in the pool. The chances are if you swim in UK in open water you are likely not to see anything from a few cms away.

In open water, you will need to keep an eye out of where you are, whereas in a pool you won’t need to because once you get to the end of the pool you turn back. In race day in open water you normally all go off at the same time so my advice would be if it’s your first time racing in open water stay away from the middle and keep to the edge. Open water races scare people because they fear it for many reasons, but my advice would be to practice there before your race to get used to it.

These are some tips and differences which I hope helps.

Presenting the new trainer on the block…. the ASICS EVORIDE

ASICS kindly sent me a pair of the new ASICS EVORIDE to try and test out so here is my personal review.

So what is the ASICS EVORIDE? ASICS state the EVORIDE is designed for neutral runners and offers a dramatic toe spring that gives a rolling feeling for effortless forward motion. With a moderate sole, compared to the previous two shoes in the family, EVORIDE offers more choice for runners with differing running styles and needs who want to take advantage of the GUIDESOLE technology.

Some key features of the EVORIDE include

•             GUIDE SOLE TECHNOLOGY: curved midsole construction helps minimise movement in the area where most energy is expended.

•             FLYTE FOAM PROPEL TECHNOLOGY: Lightweight midsole foam is soft and responsive for a more cushioned underfoot feel.

•             ENGINEERED MESH UPPER: Multi-directional stretch mesh adjusts to the shape of the foot for an excellent fit.

•             ROLLING MOTION LAST: More toe spring encourages a rolling motion from foot strike to toe-off.

•             FULL GROUND CONTACT: The sole provides a smoother transition from heel strike to toe-off.

•             LIGHT AHAR SPONGE RUBBER: Outsole rubber reduces wear and improves cushioning.

•             SUPER AHAR HEEL-PLUG: ASICS higher-abrasion rubber is used in heavy wear areas to extend the life of the shoe.

So how does it compare?

So EVORIDE is part of the same family as the Glideride. When I was reviewing the Glideride I did find there was noticeable difference on how high up I felt from the ground. My conclusion of the Glideride was that they were nice and very comfortable running shoes and a good fit which allows your feet to breath. However can they last for high mileage runners? I don’t know time will tell. The colour is perfect for me and funky, the design is good and I don’t get put off about this being bulky because the Glideride is very light. Can it make you run faster? Not sure but it does feel like you are bouncing along and running faster. I recommend this shoe as one of your running kit products for longer run/races such as marathons. I certainly would use these for my long runs but not sure about shorter races yet as I prefer the more traditional shoe being closer to the ground. However I can see these types of shoes being the next generation of running shoes as it does seem like this type of shoe and technology will become a game changer.  So for me I wasn’t sure if this was the type of shoe I would like so it needed to impress me. So with a weight of 8.8 oz a heel height of 22mm and forefoot height 17mm they felt different on.

So I put the EVORIDE through its paces. When unpacking them I liked the colour they stood out as the white was very flash and the gold trim made it look impressive, it made me think of ancient Greece times and the gods, so this ticked a box straight away.  They felt lighter then the Glideride.

I did some runs to try them out and wondered if the bounce would be the same as the Glideride. I found that the shoe felt much closer to the ground which I prefer and when I was running there was still a bounce feeling but wasn’t sure if it was as good as the Gliderides. However what I did find was my legs were still fresh after an easy run and not as tired after a speed session. This makes this a great sign as recovery and energy saving is so important. I found that reps were the same as other models I wear but it showed me that these are fit for their purpose.  The FLYTEFOAM sole seems to provide great cushioning and a strong response when you make contact with the ground to provide that bounce feeling.

The material allows your feet to breath as it is light weight and very similar to other ASICS models. It did feel different to the Glideride and I have to admit I preferred that. This shoe is super comfy and the most comfortable ASICS shoe I have worn. However would it last long? I am not sure as normally when comfy shoes are like this they don’t last long, but time will tell but it does appear it’s made well.

Do I think this shoe is quick? I do purely because it feels light on and because of the bounce effect when running with them. I do think if it is saving energy so you will be able to go quicker/ sustain pace better in a race.

Conclusion: I am impressed with the EVOGLIDE; ASICS wanted to make a shoe that brought energy efficiency, cushioning and durability by making these the lightest and cheapest member of their new shoe range and I think this is spot on. Would I use this shoe and recommend it? I would and will be using this in my training and in my speed sessions in the future. They feel light on and feel like I am bouncing along which provides energy saving which in theory would make me go faster so interested to see how I get on with these in the future.

GEL NOOSA 12 REVIEW

ASICS kindly sent me a pair of the new GEL-NOOSA Tri 12 to try and test out so here is my personal review.

So what is the GEL-NOOSA Tri 12? 

ASICS claim that this shoe boasts both lightweight and breathable qualities, making it the perfect shoe for the everyday tri-runner. Designed for triathletes and triathletes Like Gwen Jorgensen who inspired me wore the older models so I was very interested to see if these where any good?

Some of the key features include:

  • GEL-NOOSA Tri 12 maintains its unique design which you see in previous models whilst incorporating humancentric science and advanced technology to provide runners with energised cushioning for the fastest ride.
  • The shoe is designed for a neutral runner and features the ASICS Flytefoam cushioning technology to provide a fast and energetic ride.
  • Fitted with Caterpy laces on the tongue and heel to provide an easy-on for the shoe and a no-tie option, which gives runners a superior fit for their run and a quick transition.
  • Quick to get on which includes stretchy knit and reinforcement in the underlay to provide an extremely comfortable fit.
  • Breathable & Lightweight

ASICS state these features have been upgraded from previous models:

UPPER:

● New russel mesh material allows the upper to maintain durability and provides ventilation and a softer feel.

MIDSOLE:

● FLYTEFOAM™ technology midsole material is lighter and more durable than traditional mid-sole foams. This is ASICS’ lightweight mid-sole material giving you a soft, supportive feel.

OUTSOLE:

● Super AHAR™ heel plug in areas of heavy wear to extend the life of the shoe by using higher-abrasion rubber.

So how does it compare to my much loved Gel-451s?

The Gel-451s have bought me success over the past year and even the old Hyper Tri’s that I love…. So I put the GEL-NOOSA TRI 12 through its paces. When unpacking them I liked the colour they stood out, I love the colours of the 451s they stood out too so this ticked a box here as ASICS seem to get this right on most of their shoes. They felt light but they didn’t feel as light as the 451s. What I noticed straight away is that it came with tri laces, well that’s what I like to call them, but unlike the 451 that had a Boa system these don’t. However these have the hole in the tongue to grab and put on easier. This was one of the things I loved with the Hyper Tris with the tongue hole. Although I have got used to the Boa system on the 451s I prefer this tongue set up, so this is a win for me as I believe its quicker to put on and less fiddly when wanting a quick transition.

So I did some transition tests with putting my shoes on. If I set up the laces up right my feet can slip on easy without having to tighten them. So I did three tests on the GEL-NOOSA and the same with the 451s. The Gel- Noosa was a second quicker twice so every second counts so this ticks the box again.

The mesh material is impressive, not only does it allow your feet to breath it is light weight, a good feature to drying your feet after coming out the swim, so it lets plenty of air in. A feature I found very useful is that the material at the end of the front of the shoe, is like a light swade material. Now if you’re like me and in previous tri shoes my feet get hammed with hard material there and therefore toes getting very sore. So when testing this out without socks as that’s what I would do in a triathlon, my feet and toes didn’t feel it at the front of the shoe, so it was much more comfortable.

I have been put off by the Noosa’s in the past as I was under the impression they were a stability shoe and bulky, however I am very much wrong as ASICS have designed this shoe for the neutral runner with cushioning. They are certainly more cushioned then the 451s.

When I put them on they felt very comfortable, I did a few runs in them, mainly speed training as I wanted to test while on my speed sessions as if I am going to race in them I need to know if they stand the test. I have to admit I thought they would be slow but they felt super light and fast.

Conclusion I am very impressed with these, I was first put off by these in the past as I thought they were a bit bulky and not for neutral runners. The question is do I prefer my discontinued 451s or these. Well the answer is this is the perfect shoe for me and for triathlons. Its comfy, feels like a fast show and quick for transition. So for me this will be my new race shoe in triathlons and your be seeing me with these at races. I am very impressed by this new model.

You can check them out on the ASICS website here