Is a 3D gait analysis important?

My blog here today is about a 3D gait analysis that I had recently at the 8th Element lab in Kent and whether this kind of tool is worth it? I am always keen to combine science with my training. As I have been in many scientific tests in the past that have worked for me and I have shared in recent blogs, I was interested in seeing this. I approached John from 8th Element about coming into his lab for a test. I was very intrigued as my friend Steve had one done and there isn’t many of these types of facilities around.

So what is this exactly? I didn’t really know to be honest what was involved, I knew a little about it apart from it was to do with injury prevention, but once in the lab I was amazed by the data and the set up. You run on a treadmill and there are camera’s positioned around the lab to watch all your body movements. When watching the screen directly in front of you, you can see green dots on your body on the screen and it’s from those dots it takes your running form. So I had to perform a test on the treadmill running at my race pace for 45 seconds and that’s it until you get the results which are instant. Now the interesting thing I found was that the analysis bases its finding on you and not the perfect runner. Which is good because as a coach changing runners’ bio mechanics fully can result in problems. I am interested in the science behind this; you can use science in your running as a powerful tool.

Now what I liked about this was that it gives you results that the a coach cannot necessarily see. My running coach Steve King and myself as I am also a running coach aren’t able to see what a computer can see from its data. I am a data man; I work with data so getting this test done is great as I love the data coming out of it and will always work with data to improve myself.

So with like any gait analysis they are designed to find errors in your technique and the way you run. Some might take it with a pinch of salt some may take it fully on board. For me if there are any errors I need to sort them out or at least have a think about them, just like what I would do with my swimming technique. So what did it find? Well it found a lot, some parts such as different sort of strength training on my off season did play a part. Now the interesting thing for me was ever since I got knocked off my bike last year I have been getting a sore right leg. I didn’t tell John about any of my problems but I wondered if he could pick up on it and he did; he found that my right hip was unstable and had weakness which is causing stresses and forces through my right hip which is causing my lower leg to get stiff because of this. So I was given some hip exercises to do. I won’t go through everything but another thing they found was cadence. The reason I won’t go through everything is some of the findings made me sound like a broken man, however that’s not the case I tend to get low injuries so after talking to my physio and strength coach we only took on board a few points. Let’s face it you can’t work at millions of things at once, only a few at a time. Once we looked at the results we found that my strength work needed stuff that was already implemented in my plan and something I do not need to worry about. Any coach would only recommend to take a few points and work on them. So two key issues I have decided to work on are as follows:

Key Issues:

Structural – Acute right hip instability/weakness: right hip drop causing large stresses and forces through the right hip and compression and limitation/stiffness through the left lower back. This also causes early contact. This early contact forces rapid extension of the knee; from swing to contact and thus stresses through the hamstring due to the rapid eccentric quad movement.

Key Mechanical factors to adjust – Over stride vs heel strike: this is occurring daily due to the inability to create vertical lift without using too much energy. By strengthening the above, the over stride can be adjusted. Thus reducing contact time and lateral forces while also reducing the eccentric forces through the quads – which are the result of over striding (reducing any posterior chain weakness – injury).

This in turn will allow for less energy wastage and more performance gains.

So what will I do about this? So my right hip is a bit tight, I am going to make it looser by doing simple exercises by standing on the edge of a step with one foot off the step and moving my hip up and down while keeping all legs straight. The next thing is cadence. I know I have a long stride, so by shortening this and making sure it is shorter when I run, by bringing feet closer to hips and try to up my cadence to 190 beats per minute, I should see improved performance and the risk of injury lower.

My conclusion is that for the cost of a higher end running shoe you can benefit from this test if you can afford it. Combining science is important but also it is not always the best way. For someone that has low injuries I personally think that the amount of corrections and problems it found with my running form was a bit too much to process at one time. However if you take some of this on board you can minimise the injury risk and improve your running form. I think it’s worth it but be aware you may get a long list of problems which are not necessary problems they may just need small tweaks done to them.

Asics Frontrunner launch weekend

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I started writing blogs a few years back to inspire and help others from my journey. I thought telling the story of someone who was lazy and never did running and swimming to winning medals would interest people. The fact is people inspire me, no matter their ability and everyone has a story. I am not professional, I am a normal guy who has a full time job and has a hobby where I have to train hard around work to better myself.

As many of you already know I was selected as an Asics Frontrunner last year. Due to races clashes, I was unable to make the launch last year but this year I was and I was so excited to meet up with my current team members and the new team members. The Frontrunner program only had 25 spaces with over 5,000 applicants applying from the UK. We are a community of athletes and runners from all sorts of backgrounds and disciplines, we do not get sponsored or paid by Asics.

Despite the bad cold weather in the UK, I travelled early hours Saturday morning to Birmingham in the first week of March, which was around 3:30 hours. I was excited. When I arrived the group had already gone on a run so a few of us waited for them to get back. We then had a Q&A session with Jodie Stimpson. I was very excited to meet her and her advice was great and so inspiring. We then had the new members introduce themselves and at this point to hear everyone’s stories and backgrounds,; which were so inspiring. When I hear what others have done and how they have done it, it always makes me feel inspired and wants me to better myself.

We then got to go and watch the IAAF indoor athletics championships.  I have got to admit I didn’t have a clue on some events but loved it. The weekend was very enjoyable as I got to chat with lots of team members and exchange advice and stories, my team mates are inspiring and kind people that encourage other runners. This is the message the Asics Frontrunner team is trying to get across.

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6 Success Secrets

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

Nutrition

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

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

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

Training Plan

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

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

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

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

Listening to your body

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

Mental Strength

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

On Racing

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

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

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

Enjoying the journey / Process

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

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

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

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Clock is ticking to Bratislava

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I am now in full training mode for the European Aquathlon championships. I have been quiet over the past month in blogging but wanted to knuckle down and concentrate on training.

My major race in running this year was the Reading Half Marathon, back in March. Training has been a huge success over the winter months and I have improved hugely. For the first time I didn’t know how to pace myself as my target time was 1:23:00 but with my training I was sure I would go under the 1:20:00 mark. A week before the race I came down with a cold and was forced to rest but all the training was done.

Race day came and I was feeling good and it was a very windy day. I started off a bit slower than my previous 10 mile races and aimed to get quicker throughout the race. I felt really good after 3 miles and started to cut my time down and I was getting quicker. However on mile 8, when I got to the top of the hill, I tried to push on but for some reason my body switched off and didn’t want to move. This was an odd feeling and I started losing a lot of time and I wasn’t able to react to it. All of a sudden I knew something was wrong and I knew at this rate I would be lucky to get to the finish with a PB. The last 2 miles I was struggling which is unlike me as I get quicker towards the end of a race. I wanted to stop and walk but managed to carry on and get to the finish.

I somehow managed a PB by 20 seconds of 1:23:20, not what I wanted but had to be happy to come home with a PB. On the plus side it was nice seeing my wife get a huge PB of about 6 minutes. The following day I came down with another cold and had to rest up a few days as it was worse than the last one. It was probably still in my system during the race.

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After Reading my confidence was a bit knocked and I struggled a bit, however I decided to get over it and move on. I decided that I needed to get some race practice in for 5k’s ready for the Aquathlons. I had a few weeks of good quality training and entered The Tri Spirits Hole Park 5k trail race. Not my normal race but wanted to give it a try; plus my wife wanted to do it. The race went well and I was leading from the start and didn’t need to push as I had no one to chase down, but the course was mega hilly. I finished 1st and broke the course record by over 2 minutes. I waited for my wife to finish and she finished as the 2nd lady. I was very proud of her and we were both over the moon with the outcome.

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The following weekend it was all go for me as the Aquathlon season kicked off. It was my first race this year and since the World Championships. The race was the Basildon Aquathlon – an event that has been going for 25 years. This was a good test to see if I had improved and to get some practice. The race had quite a large field for an aquathlon and lots of upcoming young stars. It was a super hot day which made it tough as I was starting in the afternoon. The race consisted of a 400m pool swim and a 5k off road run.

I am not keen on pool swims as I don’t tumble turn as I don’t need to do them in open water races. The swimming pool was really hot and I started my 400m swim as we had to start in swim ability at 30 seconds gaps from each competitor.

I started off fast and then eased off a bit on the swim part. I didn’t go off too fast and I wish I did now as it was a short race. I got into transition and put my trainers on and off I went for the run. I had forgotten how hard multi-sports are but went for it on the run. I suddenly realised how tough the course was when I was told there were three hills and the first one was the easiest. By the time I got up the last hill my legs wanted to explode.

I overtook quite a few people as some were walking. The problem when you don’t all start a race together is that you don’t know who you are racing. I kept digging hard and ran as fast as I could downhill. I was 400m away from the finish on the running track, the flattest part of the course, when I started to push to the finish. I didn’t think I had placed as I didn’t swim to my best, however I was over the moon to find out I was 3rd overall and 2nd Senior.

 

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With a solid base of miles and swimming over the winter, I am feeling good and ready for the European Championships which is now a few weeks away.  Training the past few weeks has been a struggle where fatigue and long training session are taking it toll. However this was expected. My target for Bratislava is to try and get on the podium for my Age Group (30-34) if I can and to just enjoy and try my best.

Since writing this blog unfortunately I have received a minor set back with a calf strain. I will be writing a blog about my injury and recovery soon. I will try my best as my Age Group is very tough this year with a mixture of elites and professionals.

 

 

 

Chilham Castle Challenge 5k

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One of my first running races was 5 years ago on the 16/10/2016 at the Chilham Castle 5k, coming 3rd. However much has changed since then; I remember going into this race wearing normal trainers and sliding everywhere and was a bit down on my time. But hey this is a challenging cross country race which I have gone on to support every year and is one of my favourites.

So due to my injury problems and off season I didn’t target this race but as it’s only a few miles down the road I decided to do it again this year.  Having won the race twice in four years and winning it last year I wanted to retain my title. I knew I wasn’t in great shape but I have improved a lot this year and recorded some much quicker times then my current official PB’s in my Aquathlon races this year.

The plan was to go out and enjoy it a bit like the previous week but much faster. I decided to practice concentrating and listening to music before the race. This is something I am working towards with Gobinder.  I was quite relaxed and I had also decided the night before to try negative splits, this is something I have never done in the past and want to practice over the winter. Being relaxed is one of my goals through the winter as I now know this is very important in performance on the day.

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At the race there were some familiar faces doing different events from my running club and competitors I have raced against. It was also nice to see some fellow GB athletes. I guessed the night before I could break my course record because last year I got sent the wrong way by a marshal and had to turn back round. Picture of Jenny and I below, Jenny broke the course record in her Duathlon.

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So I started the race at the same time as the Dual athletes so I had to be careful not to race the wrong person. I quickly found myself on my own in the lead, so I stuck to the plan and didn’t push too hard. The race went by so quick and I didn’t look at my watch that much. I came up the last hill and eased off. By this time I had crossed the line in 1st place and was happy to win this local event. I had kept to the plan and had negative splits; this is something I do need to work on.

I was then told by the race director that I broke the course record again by 40 seconds; I was over the moon with that. It’s not my quickest time because of how hard the course is but gives me a base to work on from here. My target race is the Brighton 10k which will be a test of my current fitness levels. Of course I would love a PB but will have to see because I don’t think I am near that yet.

It was again a great event by Liz and her team and I made the local paper too.

 

 

Givaudan Ashford 10k running with a different experience

img_5255As some of you may be aware I am currently nursing an Achilles injury.  I had signed up a few months ago to the Givaudan Ashford 10k on Sunday 9th October as it was my running club (Canterbury Harriers) Club Championships and I was sorting this out for the club. Due to my minor problem I was advised by my phsyio not to race Sunday and run round with my wife. At first I was a bit disappointed but I knew that was best for me as I have only been doing easy training. My wife liked the idea of me running with her and pace her to a PB.  We never run together so I thought it would be nice.

It was the 30 year anniversary of this race with record numbers; this is the biggest 10k in Kent and attracts around one thousand runners. I do recommend this race as it is all on closed roads and you get a nice finish inside the Julia Rose Stadium.

The day came for the race and I was very tempted to race because I had a chance to place highly in the club championships. Despite the wet conditions there was a record turnout of 48  Harriers – the biggest number of Harriers in any race since the club`s formation in 1993. That felt good as I really tried to get a lot of Harriers to do it. I decided to wear my GB tracksuit to the race and make use of it. I did feel a little uncomfortable when I first got there as quite a few people were staring and pointing at me. I also found it weird turning up to a race at the Julia Rose Stadium because that is where I train on a weekly basis after work.

So I warmed up on with a couple of Harriers and I knew that it would be a different experience running a race at a much slower pace. It was chucking it down, so I stood at the start line with my wife and when it was time to start I let my wife go in front and I tucked in just behind her as I didn’t want to put her off.  Due to where I was running I heard lots of people talking to themselves. For example one lady stressed she had gone out too fast to herself. I suddenly found myself in the way of other runners so I moved to the right to allow people to pass me. I let my wife run the first mile without any advice and after one mile I started to tell her what to do and what pace to stick to.  It was nice to see lots of runners I knew and this time I was able to cheer them on.

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The rain kept coming down and I was freezing; I thanked some of the marshals on the route. I was still tempted to run fast and it was just a weird feeling to be where I was but it was also fun. At certain parts of the course I was helping my wife by encouraging and telling her what to do; when we came up to inclines I would say to her attack the hill you can recover in the down hill section. When we came down to the last 400m I said to her its up to you what you want to do and she sprinted for 200m then eased off then sprinted again the last 100m, overtaking people at the end. I know she likes a sprint!  Well she left me behind in the sprint and she finished in 47:22, taking a huge chunk off her last PB in May 2016. I was very proud and happy for her, I really enjoyed running a race with a different point of view.

As featured on Triradar.com Yiannis Christodoulou Represents Team GB After Olympic Inspiration

Yiannis Christodoulou Represents Team GB After Olympic Inspiration

This year has been an amazing journey; my first year competing at a national and international level in Aquathlons. It all started back in June at the National Aquathlon Championships where I took home a bronze medal and two weeks later at the European Aquathlon Championships I came home with another bronze medal, this time during my debut competing for Great Britain. This led me to compete in the ITU World Aquathlon Championship in Mexico.

What inspired me to do this? Well it started four years ago, just after the 2012 London Olympic Games. I started swimming to keep fit and was a very slow swimmer with poor technique; I hadn’t run since my school days and just wanted to keep fit. Inspired by the Olympic Games, I joined my local running club, the Canterbury Harriers.

y3I slowly improved but started to get a lot of injuries.  The following summer, inspired by the Brownlee brothers, I entered a local Triathlon. Unfortunately this didn’t end well as I sustained a bad calf strain and had to jog back to the finish. I was out of action for 7 months on and off and nearly gave up running. By the time the following summer however, I had regained fitness and competed my 2nd triathlon. Sadly a few weeks later I had an Achilles injury and was out for another 3 months.

I remained positive and watched a lot of triathlon on the TV. Feeling inspired by this, I decided I wouldn’t quit and I kept trying to be the best I could be. The following year I decided to try Aquathlons and I finished 5th in my first race with 3 GB athletes in the top 5. That spurred me on and three months later I had taken minutes off my time which meant I had qualified to represent Great Britain. My greatest memory is the sprint home, 800m from the finish to pass two athletes and take home the bronze medal from the European race.

y2This spurred me on this season and I have achieved success I didn’t think was possible as I approach my mid-thirties. Looking back over the last four years, I am proud of what I have achieved with hard work and dedication. Of course, I wish I had taken up swimming and running much earlier, but it is never too late!

To read the article click here