CEP clone recovery tight review

 

IMG_5187

Being an Ambassador for CEP I get to try their products and test them. So I decided to review and test out their Clone tech recovery tights. I am a huge fan of recovery and I do think CEP products are the best on the market. So will this product disappoint me?

clonetech_l_waist_w_G (1).jpg

A bit about CEP – unlike other compression companies, CEP markets its products around its medical history and supplying the medical industry around the world.  It is owned by a leading healthcare manufacturer. When researching their products I noted that they were of high quality compared to other brands; the compression in CEP products is medically graded and incredibly safe and effective as a result. These products are all focused on recovery. Recovery is very important as lots of people don’t rest up enough so people turn to recovery socks to aid in recovery and of course help with performance.

So on to the review, I was asked to go to my local CEP retailer which in this case was the Bay Running Shop and get measured up for these tights. I had my ankles, calfs, waist etc all measured. I wondered why this had to be done but this is because they clone your lower half of your body. Every measurement has to be spot on and for you. This means the product takes a few weeks to arrive but is tailored just for you when it gets made. You can also put letters on so I asked for YC my initials in sliver; looks pretty cool to be honest. But you can choose gold if you prefer that colour.

IMG_5188

The tights arrived in a nice fancy box with a certificate that says you have been cloned. So a few days later I was at the World Championships and the evening after the race I put the tights on for a few hours and the following day my legs felt pretty fresh. Now the tights come all the way up to your waist which means unlike the compression socks they compress your whole lower body. I decided to use them after my long run and in this case 14 miles my legs were pretty tired and I had them on for most of the day and my legs seemed to be fresh in the evening. The next day my legs felt fully recovered, I kept feeling like this when using them after my training.

The tights are pretty hard to get on but once on they are fine, its important that they are tight. Once on you can put your work clothes etc over the top and no one will know you are wearing them.

My conclusion is I love the CEP products and use their products all the time, at the moment of typing this up I am wearing my Calf socks. These tights come at price and just like a cost of a pair of decent running shoes so worth the investment. I am huge on recovery and recovery is where all the gains are made. So I would highly recommend this as a must have product for recovery and to use after any session and for injury prevention.  I use these before races too to help the blood circulate.

You can check them out at the following at CEP here

Recovery tights are available at Bay Running Shop complete personalised 18 different measurements here

 

 

 

 

 

Naked Runner Sol Invictus Range Review

IMG_4215.jpg

I got to try out the new Naked Runner sunglasses the Sol Invictus range, where Naked have kindly allowed me to test and try out, so here is my review.

They come in a nice box and with a glass pouch. However I was a little disappointing the glasses didn’t come with a hard case. I am a big fan of hard cases but its not a problem and of course I am reviewing the glasses not a case.

First impressions that they were a little bulky but I like that, where they only weigh 5 grams. So this makes them feel really light. The next thing I notice were the nose pads. I have problems with sunglasses as I find that a lot of sunglasses do not fit me right or they just look wonky on me. The nose pads are adjustable, which allows them to move and adjust so they become a perfect fit on your nose. This makes them a perfect fit for me.

With the glasses being bulky I felt they made them very robust and not only did they feel great, they felt great on. I tested these on my speed sessions and my long runs which was to a max of 14 miles and I had no problems at all. In the past I had glasses start to hurt my head and dig in but I didn’t have this problem with these. I do believe these glasses will last a long time.

Next looking at the overall design and the design does make them look pretty cool while wearing them. You can also put your own prescription lenses on them too as this is a new feature that allows you to do this. Which I think is a very important feature and I am sure there is a high demand for this.

Another feature I notice when looking at their website is that the frames come in 5 different colours and there is 9 different lens shades which Is good if you like to make your own choice and not stick to a standard pair.

My only suggestion would be if you do use these for very long runs it might be better to have a rubber option around the ears. Overall I am pretty happy with these sunglasses and I think they are worth the investment.

IMG_4413.jpg

 

 

Spibelt review

 

 

I got to try the Spibelt and have been using it for my longs runs, which Harris Active Sports kindly gave to me. I only normally carry a  house key with me but recently started taking my phone just in case.

IMG_3637

So first impression is that I like the design but it was very small and would it even fit my phone?

When using it on my long run, I found it fit perfect and wasn’t like some other belts where they keep moving around and you need to push them down. The Spibelt stayed in place which was good.

IMG_3599

Next up was does it fit more than just my phone? The answer is, yes it does; I was surprised that my phone and key did fit and still had some more room for some more little bits. The belt still stayed in placed.

Conclusion: if you are looking for a belt that carries limited items then this is ideal. It stays in place and has plenty of room to carry keys and a phone.

 

 

 

Staying motivated and confident

asics_birmingham_4000_394

Keeping motivated in your training is key. If you are not motivated then you struggle with your training and might not reach your targets.

There is no doubt that runners thrive on high levels of confidence. Indeed, self-confidence can be the difference between success and failure given the fine margins that exist in running. Despite this, we must acknowledge that self-confidence is like a rollercoaster that fluctuates between high and low.  This blog identifies 12 key steps in raising your own levels of self-confidence and not to fall into the dreaded zone where you struggle and give up.

 

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

 

There is nothing more tougher when you are on your long runs and your body is screaming to stop. Remember these 12 steps and work towards getting your goals. I have been out on long runs and found it tough, especially during the dark cold winter months. Running round on my own was tough when knowing my major races are not until the summer. I get days where I don’t want to run or get to the long run and my mind wants me to stop. However I keep pushing myself to carry on longer and these are the days that really count.

This Blog was written by Gobinder my confidence coach and me.

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

img_5228

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_1979

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

IMG_1955

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

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

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

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

YIANNIS_013

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

104_m-100780107-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2140_003140-10705697

Top 10 tips to run efficiently

 

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

 

IMG_0725

Technique

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

 

Drills

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

IMG_1014

Strength

 

 

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

 

Run tall

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

 

Run Cadence

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

 

Have a plan

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

 

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

 

Long easy runs

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

 

Stretch

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

 

Hydrate

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

 

Shoes

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

 

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