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

A study on different exercise bouts result in different physiological and performance responses

So I was approached while doing my speed reps on the track in Canterbury back in the summer by a guy called Antonis Kesisoglou who asked if I could be on his research project for his publication. I have been on a few tests before mentioned in previous blogs that have helped me to improve. So when he asked me if I wanted to help, I couldn’t say no. I was preparing for the European Aquathlon Championships so I had to wait until my season had ended to go on this test while I was still in great shape for it; we didn’t want to disturb training beforehand. Antonis said he wanted to test me as I had a world class engine, I am not sure I agree with that but I know I had good fitness levels and met the criteria of being able to run 1,500m sub 5 minutes. Antonis is from the University of Kent and is a Dr in Sports and Science, he comes from a strength and conditioning background and has coached Olympians.

So more about the study….

Antonis was conducting a study to examine how different exercise bouts result in different physiological and performance responses. Current models provide disproportional estimates of training stress especially when comparisons are made between very short and intensified bouts, to long and moderate effort activities. In this study, he wants to examine whether a running performance exercise bout (1,500 meters time-trial) is a valid model for assessing training stress imposed by different durations and intensities of exercise. It is his aim to improve existing methods for calculating training load, where the duration of the exercise bout is not overemphasized.

Visit 1 included a two-phases ramp incremental (Phase 1- Lactate thresholds determination, Phase 2- Determination of VO2max) test  for assessment of the maximal aerobic power output on a treadmill ergometer. For phase 1, I was asked to perform 4 or 5 submaximal bouts lasting for 5 minutes, with 1 minute of rest in between. Measurements of blood lactate were collected during the 1 minute rest bouts, and Phase 1 was to terminate when my blood lactate concentration levels elevate above 4 mmol.L-1 (i.e my second lactate threshold- MLSS). With 15 minutes of rest in between, I was asked to re-start running at a speed -3 km.h-1 of my final speed in phase one. For example if my final speed at phase 1 was 16 km.h-1,  I would be asked to start stage 2 at 13 km.h-1. Treadmill speed then increases by 1 km/h-1,  till the point that I cannot run further (i.e cannot keep up with the speed increments). Once phase 2 is completed, I was asked to provide my last lactate sample. With 40 minutes of rest in between, I was then asked to perform a 1,500 meters time-trial for familiarization purposes. (e.g the speed was regulated by me, whilst I attempted to cover the given distance as fast as possible).

Visit 2 included a standardized warm-up (see details for warm-up protocol below), followed by a 1,500 meters time-trial. I was instructed to cover the given distance on an all-weather synthetic track surfacing in the shortest time possible. This exercise bout was used as my performance trial (e.g my best running performance). 

At visit 3, I was asked to perform a 12-minutes time-trial running, followed by a 1,500 meters time-trial (with 5 minutes recovery in between).

In visit 4, I was asked to perform a 12 minutes maximum effort, self-paced, intermittent running bout. The work-to-rest ratio lasted for 60 seconds. Work ratio was fixed in terms of distance. In other words, I was asked to run a maximal effort of 150 meters and recover for the remaining part of the minute. After 5 minutes of recovery, I was asked to perform a 1,500 meters time-trial.

In visit 5, I was asked to perform a self-paced moderate, continuous running which lasted for 25 minutes, followed by a 1,500 meters time-trial (with 5 minutes recovery in between). The intensity that I ran was regulated via the 0-10 RPE scale. As such, my 25 minutes run had to reflect to a 7 out of 10 intensity (hard/heavy intensity).

Lastly, visit 6 consisted of a 25 minutes, moderate self-paced running, intermittent running bout. The work-to-rest lasted for 60 seconds, with the work distance fixed,  similarly to visit 3. Again, a 5 minutes of recovery was provided, prior to a 1,500 meters time-trial. Similarly to visit 4, I had to regulate the intensity via the 0-10 RPE scale, so it reflects to a 7 out of 10 intensity (hard/heavy intensity).

For all visits, no verbal encouragement was provided or feedback regarding how I performed each trial (i.e how much time I had run or how much I had left).  I was also asked to wear a chest strap transmitter interfaced via short range telemetry with a wrist unit (Polar V800, Polar Electro, Kempele, Finland), which displayed my heart rate responses in beats per minutes and helped to measure my running speed. Alongside real-time cardiac assessment, I was asked to answer some questionnaires prior, during and after the completion of the exercise. For example, in visits 2-5, I was asked to subjectively rate the workload I had perceived between the 1st and the 2nd bout of exercise (I.e immediately after the cessation of the 1st bout). I was asked to rate how I experienced the first exercise bout and provide a number from 0 to 20 for the six following categories:  Mental Demand, Physical Demand, Temporal Demand, Performance, Effort and Frustration.

Alongside with NASA-TLX, I was asked to answer another scale for assessing training load (I.e how hard was my session). In particular, I was asked to subjectively rate the intensity of my 1st exercise bout via the usage of the RPE 0-10 scale (Borg et al., 1987). My potential motivation was assessed prior to all 1,500m time-trials, via the usage of a 0-9 analogue scale (0 =Not motivated at all, 9 = Very motivated to do well). Lastly, my perception of effort (I.e how hard do I feel the task?) was assessed via the 6–20 Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale (Borg, 1998) during exercise. I was asked to verbally answer how hard I perceived the task every minute for all 1,500m time-trials, while all the rest exercise bouts I was asked every 2 minutes.

In all visits, I was asked to wear a mask for analysing my ventilation, in other words how much oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) and total volume of air (VE) I breath in and out every second. This happened in the lab (visit 1) and at the field via the usage of a portable analyser (Visits 2-6). Antonis said that usually people feel the mask a bit tight in the beginning but this piece of equipment is designed for maximal tests in the laboratory and the field, so it would not limit your breathing rate or create feelings of anxiety. At the beginning of each visit, a standardized warm-up was provided for all visits. In particular, I was asked to perform the following self-paced routine, where intensity was regulated via the 6-20 RPE scale (Borg, 1982) in the following order: 800 meters of jog (RPE 9-11), 800 meters of run (RPE 13-15) and 400 meters of intermittent running (100 meters of  RPE 18-20: 100 meters RPE 9-11). My total time commitment for this study was no longer than 7 hours.

Is there anything I needed to do before each visit?

Before each visit I was told I should:

•             Avoid heavy sessions the day prior to the test. Easy/light sessions are okay.

•             Not exercise on the morning of the test or warm-up prior to the test (warm-up will be included in testing sessions).

•             Please make sure you bring appropriate sport clothing with you.

•             Eat and drink the same food in the 24 hours before the test.

•             Eat at least in the 3 hours immediately before the test.

•             Abstain completely from caffeine and alcohol in the 24 hours before all visits.

•             Tell Antonis if you currently have or you recently had an injury or illness of any kind.

Have you taken all this on board? It does seem a bit complex but it’s not too bad once you are doing the study. So what did we find for me…

We found my V02 max was higher than previous tests and therefore I saw an improvement here. My Lactate threshold took longer this time before I dropped the speed. Due to my aerobic training throughout the year I had developed an engine that made me more efficient and therefore able to sustain a faster pace longer. When sitting down and discussing how to improve this area there was a few suggestions to help. One I found interesting was that I could drop one easy long run in favour for a bike session to improve there, or if I want to improve my running speed I would need to hit my intervals at a harder pace than normal and to have shorter recoveries. So in the hindsight I need to improve my anaerobic system and running harder would help improve this. So this is something I will put in to place in my training.

What else did we find?

•             Immediately after warm-up, use some exercises to activate gluteus min and max, as well as oblique’s activation. That will help you with posture and stability when bounding (I.e light form of a Plyometric activity).

With Antonis being a strength coach he found a weakness with my hip so I will be focusing on improving this.

•             Guide you training by feeling (RPE scale). It is currently one of the best way to guide your training.

So to be purely guided by feel and not to be a slave on what my watch says, this is something I have been practising a lot and I know that feel is much better than going by what your watch says.

•             A short, high intensity interval training session an it’s effects on how your body feeling the day after, cannot be accurately estimated via wearables.

•             Use a training log, apart from wearables. Use the NASA-TLX scale for monitoring your sessions (as well as the SRPE). It’s a promising tool for exercise monitoring

•             Keep an eye on your speed sessions, alongside your HR responses

•             Remember that in 2 sessions resulting the same total work, the one which is performed in a intermittent way is always harder than in a constant way.

•             When a session is performed in a maximum effort (I.e 10/10), the effects of exercise duration plays a minimum role. A 10 minutes all-out and a 20-minutes all-out session will result similar decrements in a subsequent performance.

As you can see we found a lot of things to work on and help to improve my running. I found the study tough in certain visits such as the 10 minute TT followed by the 1,500m TT but different and very enjoyable. However what we did find was that I was very good at pacing and going by feel. In conclusion every study I have been on I have learnt something new in order to make me improve. I think any study is beneficial and even if you only implement one suggestion into your training you can improve from it. I am looking forward to seeing how it plans out.

TRIATHLON ENGLAND NATIONAL SPRINT CHAMPIONSHIPS EXPERIENCE

This season has gone so well but where has all the time gone? It seems to have flown by. It’s been a great season for me no matter what happens in the remaining races I have left I have had a great one.

I did the National Sprint Triathlon Championships at Bedford back in August which was also the 2020 ETU Qualifier for the GB Triathlon team in Malmo. This was always the most important race of the year for me and to see how well I would do with experienced and strong athletes. I started training for this back in November when Mark Shepard started putting me through my paces on the bike. I haven’t been cycling long so I knew if I worked hard at it I could make big gains. With a season purely focused on triathlons, I knew it was going to be tough but I like a challenge and therefore focused a lot on this area. I always planned to do this race last year and kept it quiet from social media as I didn’t want any pressure and to keep low key. I only told my coaches, family and close friends.

So I wanted to keep a low key, I turned up to this race knowing I would be strong on the swim and run and hopefully the bike training would pay off, I have seen lots of gains on the bike. I didn’t really know what to expect, I have done big events before but I was entering a race which was the unknown for me.

I did my normal warm up and it was nice and sunny so was looking forward to it. I got ready for the swim and the start went off and I swam hard, I enjoyed the swim and came out with the front pack. I came into transition in 5th place and I then got on to the bike. The bike was going well and managing to keep a good pace. I had a few packs go past me which is annoying as they were drafting in a non-drafting race. It then started raining on the bike leg around 7-8 miles in for me and I suddenly nearly lost control at one of the roundabouts due to the rain and my lack of confidence on the bike. I then came onto a main road where lots of cars were going fast and so close to me. This put me off and I decided to ease off as my safety was more important than crossing the line as fast as I could. A few miles later my bike was making a racket and something sounded like it was grinding and I started to get very cold, but I made it fine to transition apart from forgetting to take my foot off one of my shoes. I got into transition and felt fresh, by this time it was pouring down.

I started the run fast and with it being wet and all on grass the conditions were tough. I had trails with me but left them in the car as the rain was not forecasted. I attacked the run going past a lot of people. I love cross country running, however with the rain coming down it was making the course tough. It was very slippery and I stacked it coming down hill as a result. Anyway I finished the run and was 11th in my Age Group. I had the 4th fastest run in my race and was not far off 5th place time wise.

So I am pleased with it as it was my first Triathlon championships and I will be back next year. This has given me a foundation and target now to work towards. Life is all about challenges and I decided at the end of last year to move into a new challenge. As a result of my placing I have a good chance of qualifying for the GB Triathlon Age Group team for a roll down place but will have to wait and see. What I do know Is that over the winter I will be working hard again on the bike and spending a bit more time on it.

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.

Do you train with a Plan?How to structure your training around your daily 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 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 right a blog on how to structure your plan. Being a running coach and being coached myself I have lots of knowledge on making a plan.

For me I always start the day with a cup of Green Tea. Then I sit down and look at a six week plan with an easy week on the 7th week that has more rest and stripped down training. 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 gets increased each week for three weeks, the following three weeks I just maintain my training and for the 7th week as mentioned before it’s an easy 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. So its important you get the right balance for you.

So if you are like me and you are training for a triathlon you will be putting 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

2 Strength sessions

2-3 Bike 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 your struggling to get out and train due to many reasons, if you can get out and it’s only a short session its 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 I take my key sessions from each area and plot them on my plan. So my key running sessions will be one of my speed sessions and one long run. This is very similar to swimming; I will have an aerobic, a speed session and drill session which will be my key sessions for that discipline. 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 session together. Once I have done that I move on to the other sessions and plot this into the plan making sure I get one day full rest a week and two for my recovery week.

Sound easy? Well not really because you then need to figure out the session you want to do. For example, no point me putting in four easy runs if I want to get faster. Once you have the basis of the plan you can then work out what sessions you want to do to achieve your goals.

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 efficiently which in time will make you faster. When running at this pace not only does it do that it teaches 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 and feel fresh the next day so you can go hard on your hard days. On the early days of my running 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 because it’s in the plan it doesn’t necessary mean you need to do it because life does get in the way.

With any plan make sure its 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 target was getting on the podium of the National Aquathlon Championships. So its very important to think ahead for the year and not just short term. When planning your plan make sure you have small targets, followed by one big target/goal. So if you are planning a marathon for example your training will build up to it followed by 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 you need to find races to build up and plot them in your plan and target them. 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 or purely race practice and so on. Once you have done your races your pretty much ready to go and start training with your new plan.

Every session has a purpose and don’t go wasting time on junk miles etc. 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.

There is one more important aspect when thinking about you plan. Its fine to keep training and making sure you get easy and recovery weeks, but you must remember whatever target race you do, you need to taper for it so that you can peak and be the best you can be on race day.

Tapering plays lots of mind games, phantom pains, am I losing fitness etc ignore these factors and make sure you have a well-placed taper in place. For my races which are short, such as the World Aquathlon Championships, 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 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. So for example if I normally do 6x1k reps I might do 4 with different paces etc. 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. Marathon plans etc will need a longer taper. Again you have to find what works best for you.

Once you have done your plan you need to access it regular and see if its working for you, your plan will change a lot. You also need to assess yourself with tests during your plan. My plan will include a long run at the same heart rate and place towards the end of my programme, so I can assess the data. I will do other assessments throughout to.  Anyway I hope this is helpful and if you need any help, give me a message.

 

 

STRENGTH TRAINING FOR RUNNERS – CRAIG COGGLE (PT)

I started working with Craig in October 2016 to get me in top shape ready for each season and with his help I have had successful seasons. He has written a blog for me about strength training to help others out.

So you are a runner and you want to go faster, you just need to do more running, right? To a certain point you would be correct, but what if you could increase the power that you exert into the floor to propel you along! Surely that would make you faster too?

There are many reasons for you to hit the weight rack with increased strength, increased power, injury prevention etc. etc. but let’s look at the key aspects of what you need to cover to get you moving faster:

  • Leg strength;
  • Gluteal Strength;
  • Core Stability; and
  • Explosiveness.

Using a mix of strength and ballistic/plyometric exercise will get you the results that you need.  Ballistic and plyometric exercises require a great deal of force to rapidly and repeatedly get you off the ground and reduce your foot contact time with the floor.

For a runner, strength training is important in order to increase the amount of force that the body can produce by increasing the stability of the joints, control of movement and importantly the strength of muscles.  This new found strength combined with plyometrics will make you a more powerful runner, force x speed = power.

Plyometrics is a very overused word within the training community, truly plyometric exercises would require a contact time with the floor of less than 0.2 seconds, anything more than this and the exercise would become a ballistic one.  For true speed development plyometrics would be your best route to get the firing mechanisms within the calf and Achilles to work at their full potential.  To put it basically if you pull an elastic band and fire it, it will cover a few feet, but if you pull it fully and fire it, it will travel faster for a much further distance.  This is what we are trying to achieve, so lets get a more powerful and faster you moving forwards…

The Programme –

2 sessions per week as well as your normal running training. These strength sessions will be built up of a combination of supersets and tri-sets to make your training time the most efficient possible (supersets and tri-sets is a fancy way of saying exercise’s put together without a rest)

3 sets of 8-10 reps of each sequence of exercises

Sequence 1 Sequence 2 Sequence 3
Squat Bulgarian split squats Bosu single leg balance
Ballistic Lunges Pogo (plyometric) A-Steps
Press ups (with a jump if possible) Bent over row Plank Rotation

 

Establishing the right weight would benefit you greatly but take it easy and don’t rush too much you should feel like you could perform 1 or 2 more reps at the end of every set if you feel like you could do another 10 its time to put that weight up!

The Squat is one of the most simple and best “compound” exercises for developing leg strength and core stability.  Some key aspects to performing this exercise would be to keep the core engaged, your chest lifted, upper back engaged with the bar pulled into your shoulders, and most importantly you need your hips to drop below the centre of the knee with the knees tracking over your toes. The reason for this is to protect your knees and the best hamstring and glute activation happens when you break parallel.

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With ballistic lunges be stable and be safe, slow them down really concentrating on landing and producing an upward explosive force for you to jump and change your feet.

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Press ups are great for improving upper body strength, but remember to hold that core in tight especially if you are making it ballistic. To make it ballistic you would exert a force to allow your hands to come off the floor and absorb the landing, if you wanted to get fancy you could always add a clap!

 

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The bulgarian split squat is great for single leg development, with your rear foot elevated on a bench you want to sink until your front leg achieves 90% angle at the knee by driving your back knee down towards the floor.

 

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Pogo’s are the easiest plyometric exercise to perform both feet together and flexed ,legs straight and you are looking to produce a jump by striking you forefoot off the floor with no upper leg help. If you feel like an idiot doing this o r struggle skipping would be a good alternative.

Bent over rows are great for the upper body, nice flat back parallel to the floor, soft knees and core engaged start to pull the barbell up your thighs towards your waist concentrating on squeezing your shoulder blades together.

 

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Bosu single leg balance, we are trying to increase the stability of your ankles with the bosu dome side up you will stand on top for as long as you can. If you are a balance ninja and find this really easy try moving the other leg around to challenge your balance.

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A-steps are a classic knee drive running drill to encourage an athlete to drive there knees higher whilst running and thus encouraging the cycle movement required for speed.

Plank Rotations are great for upper body strength and core stability. If you feel this in your back there is something wrong with your initial set up. I know people say you need to be straight in a plank which is true but its your skeleton that needs to be straight with a flat pelvis. Remember your bum is attached to the outside of your skeleton.

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And there it is your basic strength plan to get you running stronger and faster. For video guidance of this article please go along and have a look at my you tube channel where you will find Strength training for runners video covering everything we did in this article.

You Tube Craig ‘Coggles Fitness’ Coggle

Safe running guys!

Craig Coggle

Cogglesfitness@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

So you are a runner and you want to go faster, you just need to do more running, right? To a certain point you would be correct, but what if you could increase the power that you exert into the floor to propel you along! Surely that would make you faster too?

There are many reasons for you to hit the weight rack with increased strength, increased power, injury prevention etc. etc. but let’s look at the key aspects of what you need to cover to get you moving faster:

  • Leg strength;
  • Gluteal Strength;
  • Core Stability; and

Using a mix of strength and ballistic/plyometric exercise will get you the results that you need.  Ballistic and plyometric exercises require a great deal of force to rapidly and repeatedly get you off the ground and reduce your foot contact time with the floor.

For a runner, strength training is important in order to increase the amount of force that the body can produce by increasing the stability of the joints, control of movement and importantly the strength of muscles.  This new found strength combined with plyometrics will make you a more powerful runner, force x speed = power.

Plyometrics is a very overused word within the training community, truly plyometric exercises would require a contact time with the floor of less than 0.2 seconds, anything more than this and the exercise would become a ballistic one.  For true speed development plyometrics would be your best route to get the firing mechanisms within the calf and Achilles to work at their full potential.  To put it basically if you pull an elastic band and fire it, it will cover a few feet, but if you pull it fully and fire it, it will travel faster for a much further distance.  This is what we are trying to achieve, so lets get a more powerful and faster you moving forwards…

The Programme –

2 sessions per week as well as your normal running training. These strength sessions will be built up of a combination of supersets and tri-sets to make your training time the most efficient possible (supersets and tri-sets is a fancy way of saying exercise’s put together without a rest)

3 sets of 8-10 reps of each sequence of exercises

Sequence 1 Sequence 2 Sequence 3
Squat Bulgarian split squats Bosu single leg balance
Ballistic Lunges Pogo (plyometric) A-Steps
Press ups (with a jump if possible) Bent over row Plank Rotation

 

 

Establishing the right weight would benefit you greatly but take it easy and don’t rush too much you should feel like you could perform 1 or 2 more reps at the end of every set if you feel like you could do another 10 its time to put that weight up!

The Squat is one of the most simple and best “compound” exercises for developing leg strength and core stability.  Some key aspects to performing this exercise would be to keep the core engaged, your chest lifted, upper back engaged with the bar pulled into your shoulders, and most importantly you need your hips to drop below the centre of the knee with the knees tracking over your toes. The reason for this is to protect your knees and the best hamstring and glute activation happens when you break parallel.

 

 

 

 

With ballistic lunges be stable and be safe, slow them down really concentrating on landing and producing an upward explosive force for you to jump and change your feet.

Press ups are great for improving upper body strength, but remember to hold that core in tight especially if you are making it ballistic. To make it ballistic you would exert a force to allow your hands to come off the floor and absorb the landing, if you wanted to get fancy you could always add a clap!

 

 

 

 

 

The bulgarian split squat is great for single leg development, with your rear foot elevated on a bench you want to sink until your front leg achieves 90% angle at the knee by driving your back knee down towards the floor.

 

 

 

 

Pogo’s are the easiest plyometric exercise to perform both feet together and flexed ,legs straight and you are looking to produce a jump by striking you forefoot off the floor with no upper leg help. If you feel like an idiot doing this o r struggle skipping would be a good alternative.

Bent over rows are great for the upper body, nice flat back parallel to the floor, soft knees and core engaged start to pull the barbell up your thighs towards your waist concentrating on squeezing your shoulder blades together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bosu single leg balance, we are trying to increase the stability of your ankles with the bosu dome side up you will stand on top for as long as you can. If you are a balance ninja and find this really easy try moving the other leg around to challenge your balance.

A-steps are a classic knee drive running drill to encourage an athlete to drive there knees higher whilst running and thus encouraging the cycle movement required for speed.

Plank Rotations are great for upper body strength and core stability. If you feel this in your back there is something wrong with your initial set up. I know people say you need to be straight in a plank which is true but its your skeleton that needs to be straight with a flat pelvis. Remember your bum is attached to the outside of your skeleton.

And there it is your basic strength plan to get you running stronger and faster. For video guidance of this article please go along and have a look at my you tube channel where you will find Strength training for runners video covering everything we did in this article.

You Tube Craig ‘Coggles Fitness’ Coggle

Safe running guys!

Craig Coggle

Cogglesfitness@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

European and Season Review

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My season has come to an end and I am now having a rest period. Firstly It has been a great season – I have been on the podium 7 out of 9 Aquathlon races, 2 were race wins and a National Championships. I gained 3rd place in an sea 3k swim, 2nd in my first triathlon for nearly 6 years and in running races I broke a course record in a 5k, which I won. I also came runner up in another 5k. I was the Team Captain for both the European and World Aquathlon Championships for the GB team. I will be back at these races next year. I will be focusing more on multi-sport next year and will be racing in more triathlons too so its going to be exciting.

I want to thank everyone for all the support over the years and I have achieved so much since I started running and swimming in 2012. When I have a bad race I always look how far I have come, things like I couldn’t swim in 2012, being injured a lot, winning National and European medals since competing in Aquathlons in 2015, representing GB for my Age Group and being the team captain makes me very proud and hopefully my blogs and social media updates of my journey inspire others.

So onto the European Championships – a few days before I got the dreaded 5am flight over, so only having a few hours’ sleep and having to leave at 1.30am to get to the airport I was shattered but excited. We arrived in Ibiza at 9am and on the first day we did a lot of walking and looking at the sites with a couple of friends that came over the watch. I had to do a 40 min easy run that day, followed by a swim recce with a lot of the team as I organised it.

The following day I woke up feeling very ache, assuming because of the lack of sleep  from the previous day. However I had two rest days before the race. Race day approached and I was feeling very confident although still a bit sore and achy from a few days prior. The race was in the evening so I chilled out in the hotel room and relaxed and went through my race plan. I knew I was in the best shape I have ever been and couldn’t wait for the race. I met my friends and wife in the afternoon for lunch for 2pm. With a 6pm race start time I thought that was plenty of time. I then headed down to the race where I had to be out of transition at 4.30pm.

It was nice chatting to friends and after that I shut myself off from people and listened to music and prepared myself for the race. At 5.10pm I went for my warm-up which is very early but this was because we had to get onto a boat to the start of the swim. I did my warm-up and then the organisers were running late which meant by the time we got on the boat it was 6pm.

We headed off on the boat to the start line, everyone boarded the board and the boat started playing music very loudly which made it hard to chat to people. I liked the bit when we were getting on the boat and the Eye of the Tiger was playing.  We then jumped into the water one by one and waited for everyone to get in. The horn sounded and off we went. It was a non wet-suit swim and I pushed very hard at the start, I did get kicked in the face but hey that happens all the time in mass swims. I had a lot of space and when I came out of the sea I thought I had an ok swim but not my best as I didn’t feel tired.

I came out of transition and started to push hard on the run. The course was tight and tricky and on the zig zag bit just after transition I fell and slipped over. I felt my ankle go crack and a shooting pain, I then picked myself up quickly and carried on running with discomfort for a few minutes. I tried not to think about it and I carried on running. On lap two I was caught by a GB guy in my race and all of a sudden I picked up the pace and stuck with him until he went passed me at the last few meters. I finished 13th but later the result was changed to 14th – I assume someone had a penalty and appealed it. I didn’t think I had a great race as my time was well off and my run was not where I thought it would be. I wasn’t tired at the end of the race which was weird. But I came home in 35:46.

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So what everyone does is analyse their race and what went right or wrong. I am not going to be tough on myself or complain. It was just a long season where for me I didn’t perform to my best on the day and sometimes this is how it goes. Mentally when I fell I think that had a huge impact on my performance but these things happen. This is a learning curve and for next year I will be working on the mental aspect of my racing and the “what ifs something goes wrong”. A positive is that I finished strongly on the last mile. I will try to make sure a warm up is done closer to the race next time. I am going to maintain my running and swimming, will try to improve a little on those in the winter but the main focus will be on the bike.  I have started looking at my A races and B races so next year and it will be an even better season.

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Don’t be critical about your performances, take the positives and work with them. I will be back next year giving it my all. Now time for rest and easy training.

Believe the impossible is the possible

No matter how talented or how hard you train the key to your success is believing in yourself so you are able to achieve your goals.

Last Sunday I did my fist triathlon in nearly 6 years. I always believed the bike was the root of my injuries when I first took up running. With big injuries that kept me out of action for long periods of times and nearly giving up on running I turned my back on triathlons; but it was triathlons that got me into running.

So looking back at that it was wise of me as I was hugely put off by injuries. I believed I could stay injury free and after staying injury free for a while and gaining lots of PB’s I moved into Aquathlons where I went from strength to strength and have achieved some great things.

I decided last year to get back on the bike and try and do some triathlon’s this year and see if I would enjoy it. As a mental aspect getting back on the bike was very concerning for me because of the history of my injuries. I believed I could get through this and despite being knocked off my bike this year, I forced myself out on the bike and I was enjoying it. Sadly I was meant to do 2 triathlons this year but because of normal life commitments I can only do one triathlon.

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So I did the Channel  Sprint Triathlon on Sunday, very nervous and had no target, I just wanted to enjoy it. It was a sea race in Folkestone and it was also my first triathlon which was not in the pool. It was a very windy day and the swim got cut by 250m. The race started and I knew swimming would be fine but the waves going out were so strong it felt like I was being slammed against the floor. I was struggling to breathe and didn’t enjoy it, but once we turned around with the waves pushing you I was fine and came out of the sea in the lead. We had to run around 1k into transition, so I was able to pull away.

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I then came out of transition on the bike and was quickly overtaken by two competitors. I knew the bike would be tough and the course was super hilly but the miles flew by and I was out on my own for 9 miles until a group of competitors came riding past me drafting each other in a non drafting race. I wasn’t 100% sure about the rules but I knew I need to drop back so I stayed well back.

I came into transition in 8th place but was very happy with my bike performance. I then got onto the run and my legs felt awful. I started overtaking people and by 2.5K my legs felt fresh and I went from running a 6.10 mile to running 5.40s. I soon caught 3rd and went past him, I still didn’t expect to be this high and I managed to take 2nd place near the end.

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I was over the moon and shocked that I had placed, I wasn’t even expecting a top 20 placing. I always believed I could be strong in a triathlon if I worked at it. This has now made me want to do triathlon’s more next year so watch this space.

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Photos by Lee & Jo Robinson Photography

Busy month of races

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The past month has been a busy month race wise.

First up was on the 25th of March which was the Tri Spirits Hole park 5k challenge. I had won the race last year and I wanted to analyse my progress from the previous year and try and beat my time and the course record I set.

It was a gloomy day and I felt so tired as we had been looking after my sister’s dog for the week which took its toll with a lack of sleep. I knew I was going to struggle that morning as my heart rate was quite high. Anyway the course is a challenging off road course and this year it was very muddy; last year it was sunny and dry.

I decided to run the first mile hard and see how it went. I had a few people sticking to me at the start but then they fell back. Being muddy favours me as I love cross country and I am a strong cross country runner.  I had no one near me but I decided to still push hard, falling over in the mud in the process. I finished the race is a comfortable 1st place, and with a new course record of 20:40 and therefore beating my last time of over 40 seconds on a muddier course.  I was really happy with it and it was a huge confidence boost.

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Less than a week later it was the Folkestone 10 mile road race on Good Friday. A race I have never done before, but is flat and a fast course. I was in great shape and with Fleet Half Marathon cancelled a few weeks prior I was sure I could get a PB and push near to the sub 1 hour mark. One target I am working towards.

I started my warm up and it started to rain and it appeared the wind was quite strong against me. Some 700 people had entered this race with many using this as marathon prep.  The race started and I wanted to hold back on pace and not overdo it. I was aiming for negative splits, my first mile was 6.05, but then after that it got slower and tough against the wind. Another 4 miles battling the wind and I was nowhere near a PB. I then turned around on the 5 mile part and headed back. By this point I was over a minute away from getting a PB and the rain had got worse, I was soaked.

I then decided to try going faster the second half and with the wind with me I started at 5:50 per mile and went quicker per mile. The last mile was tough but I kept going and managed to finish in 1:00:13. I was over the moon with the time and I managed to set 5 mile and 5k PB’s on the way back.

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The next race the following week was the Basildon Aquathlon. This was my first aquathlon for the year and my preparation for the world championships was under the way. I came down with a head cold that week and I was very nervous. On race day the weather was awful which made the off road course so muddy, it was also a 400m pool swim which I don’t like as I am slower in the pool as I do not tumble turn. However I have been practising. I entered transition and because it was muddy on the course I had to wear trails. This made me really nervous as I have never worn trails in an aquathlon. The race started and I entered the pool. I felt comfortable in the swim but the last 200 metres I was struggling to breath due to having this cold. I entered transition and it was hard to get my trails, but good job I practiced before the race.

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I got on the run and felt good, although the trails were making me slide around the paths. When I got onto the grass and hills, I made-up a lot of time and was very wise to wear them. The course was muddy and it was such a hard run. I kept pushing, overtaking people.

I raced home in 2nd place; although the time was slightly slower due to the run course being wet and muddy. I was very happy, my swim was a few seconds better and I had the fastest run split. My work towards a successful world championships race has now begun.

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Next up was the Asics Fleet Half Marathon that was postponed and rearrange due to the snow a month later. I didn’t really want to do it because of the timing. My wife was running it too. The weather was a bit cold and overcast. I just wanted to beat my current PB of 1:23:20, so I started off at a slow pace for the first 3 miles. I then built into it working on getting quicker and maintaining the speed. I was running with another guy for most of it and with the tail wind we decided to swap who took the lead along the course to try and keep the wind off us. I managed to get quicker and we raced home in 1:19:29. I was over the moon as this is a target I thought was unrealistic and therefore took just under 4 minutes off my last PB and 22nd place. This was a distance I have struggled in the past. I was also very proud to see my wife finish as she struggled with an ankle and calf problem.

 

Looking back at all these races, I am able now to push harder in training and work towards a great World Championships.

 

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Pulseroll Vibrating Foam Roller plus Review

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I have used many rollers in the past so I was interested in how the Pulseroll Vibrating Foam Roller Plus works and helps you with recovery. I use a trigger point roller and I use the Wellbrix blocks. The Wellbrix blocks are very good at getting to the places a foam roller can not, so having a vibrating roller sounded interesting to test.

I was one of the first to receive the Pulseroll Vibrating Foam Roller Plus. It came well packaged and with some instructions, which is good if you don’t know how to use a roller. It also has a link to online videos to show you how to use it.

First impressions were that it is very much like other foam rollers. I did hard sessions before I tried this out. It has four vibrating settings; I put it on the lowest setting first and started by just placing the roller over my calf, where they were tight and knotted. I did this for a few minutes, then did my quads, and hamstring on each side. I felt very tight and sore before I used the roller so it was a prefect time to try this out.

I was pretty amazed that when I finished using the foam roller and stood up, my legs felt lighter; they didn’t whilst I was using it, but I could feel the knots and tightness going away. I felt that I could go and run again hard – I am assuming that the vibrating factor aids recovery a lot more than a normal foam roller. My Achilles get’s very tight and that felt a lot less tight afterwards.

I have been using the roller quite a bit over the past couple of weeks and I do feel this works so much better than a normal roller. You don’t need to move much but just let the roller get rid of the knots. I found the recovery was pretty impressive and my legs felt good. I am going to use this in my recovery now and I recommend it is worth the money and will aid with recovery and keeping helping you keep injury free.

PulseRoll have kindly given my followers £10 off all their products. Please use the code YIANNIS10 at the check out.

 www.pulseroll.com

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