Gel Nimbus 20 review

On Saturday the 6th of January I helped out at the London Regent Street store for the launch of the Gel Nimbus 20 running shoe and with fellow Asics Frontrunner team member Ralph.
I had a chance to use the new shoe and see what I thought about it, so here is my review. The Gel Nimbus has now been going for 20 years and I can see why and it is a popular trainer around the world and one of Asics best products.

I had the 19s which are a great shoe so I was interested to see what the difference is. I must say I am very impressed at a glance they looked the same as the 19s. However don’t be fooled the 20s firstly feel lighter and they still have that comfy feeling. If anything they feel a lot more comfy because the mesh is different and Asics have also improved lacing. This has therefore made it even more comfy. Just what you need in your runs and I will be using these on my long runs. Some colours are the same but also there are some new funky colours.

My conclusion is that if you want a comfy and trendy running shoe for your runs then this is the shoe for you. The Nimbus has been a comfy shoe since its launch and now it’s got even better.

How to conquer Negative Splits

 

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

 

Did you know that most runners start a race too fast and struggle towards the end with slower end splits? Most runners at the end of the race say something like “I struggled at the end” “I blew up”.

I was one of those runners and in 2016 I decided to change this and change my training up. For example, I would start a 10k and the first mile would be my fastest and the last mile would be nearly a minute slower than my first.  I would be hanging on in the end desperate to try and get a PB. I would get sucked into going out fast with other people that did it. It was ruining my races and my times and it is probably doing it to you too.

So I decided to try and run negative splits. They do sound difficult but when you split it down it isn’t that difficult.  I started by changing my training up during the winter; I forced myself to start off slower on speed reps and made sure that every rep I did got faster. This sounds hard and it is but it becomes easy and in races it comes naturally. My first rep in a speed session is much slower than the last. It is hard when you are forcing yourself to push that last rep as fast as you can. But you will surprise yourself. Not only does this make you run faster towards the end of a race but it also allows your body to manage and cope when your body is full of lactic acid.

So the first trick is to get negative splits in your speed session or to have the reps consistent then the last rep as fast as you can and quicker.

The next step is to practice going out fast on your last few minutes of your long run; this forces your body to deal with the lactic acid while you’re tired. When your body is slowing down as you’re getting tired and to the end of the long run a quick blast will do you the world of good.

Now comes the tricky part: pacing it right in a race, it is easy to go off fast as lots of people shoot off.  I now know I will catch them later in the run, in fact these days people rarely overtake me in the last few miles of a race. I practised my pace in the cross country season where I started off slow, so I would be around the top 50 at the start and by the end of the race pushing into the top 10. I did a 10 mile race and I forced myself to go out slower the first 5 miles and was roughly around 17th place  and the 2nd half of the race I was much quicker and overtaking people and nearly came 3rd and achieved a PB. My last mile was the quickest. I could have paced it a bit better and gone a little faster on the first part but this is the tricky part and it takes practice.

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

It will hurt towards the end of a race but in the long run if you master it you can run a lot quicker and can achieve a PB; but it takes time.

My conclusion is you should give this a go and be patient. Be disciplined and don’t get caught up with people going out too fast at the start. Know your race plan and race pace and stick to the plan, sometimes have a few plans ready just in case you need to change the plan up during the race.

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

Alan Green 10 mile road race

 

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Winter is now well and truly here and motivation is becoming a struggle in the cold dark evenings. My target race after the World Championships was the Alan Green Thanet Road Runners 10 mile race. A race which I have down 3 times previously. The race is pretty much pancake flat with a minor hill roughly 3 miles into the race, but as it is in December and along the seafront the wind always plays a factor in race times and therefore makes it a tough and challenging course. The last 3 years I have always got a personal best and one of my targets is to go sub 1 hour for 10 miles eventually.

Training has gone well but I have no idea where my training and fitness levels are at the moment so I was just going to use this race to see where I am at. I am not in peak shape yet and don’t intend to be until next year. My PB on this course was 01:01:40, which I broke 5 weeks later in a different race which was a tough course. The Thursday before the race I had planned to do a long easy two hour run. But that evening it was cold and I wasn’t motivated to run on my own in the cold and dark. I dragged myself out and I was trying to make all the excuses to stop myself running round the streets of Canterbury. Don’t get me wrong I love running but I prefer running in the countryside and not round busy streets during rush hour which is something I cannot do in the dark.  I nearly stopped after an hour but I managed to stay out for another 40 minutes which isn’t too bad. I was lacking motivation and I knew the race would be difficult on the Sunday.

The day before the race I had to attend Canterbury Harriers Christmas presentation meal and I picked up the fastest 5 mile award for the season. I was very happy with this as it is the first time I have picked up an award at the Christmas Presentation. My wife also picked up the fastest 5 mile award for the ladies; I am very proud of her running as she doesn’t like running but does it to keep fit.

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I managed to convince my wife to do the race on Sunday as there is cake at the end, so she did the race and had cake after – well plenty of it! I turned up to the race and it wasn’t as cold as the previous day so I didn’t need to wrap up warm for the race. When warming up I noticed we had no wind on the way out but the wind was quite strong on the way back. I decided to stick to my plan and start off slower and try to go faster the second half.

The gun went off and the race started. I could count roughly how many people were in front of me. I was in 17th place with just over two miles gone. I felt strong and focused on my breathing and sticking to my race plan. By mile 5, before the turnaround point, I had caught a group and the first lady. I then turned back in to some strong wind and headed back for the last 5 miles where I had already stuck to the plan and did fairly even splits.

I then decided to start to go a bit faster and over-took this group which then put me up to 6th place and running on my own for the rest of the race. I had lots of runners say well done on route; I couldn’t say thanks as the wind was making it hard for me to breath. I put my thumbs up to say thanks and thank you for encouraging me. I then battled the wind and managed to get slightly faster and before I knew it I was nearly at the finish line catching the person in front very quickly. I then came up the hill to the finish and noticed the clock time so sprinted to get a PB. I was over the moon as I didn’t expect a PB and my time was 01:00:59 so a slight PB. This gives me something to work on.

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I went for a warm down after and decided to run back for half mile down the route. I was encouraging people to keep going. I then waited for my wife and cheered her on to the finish. I enjoyed the race and next year I hope to come back and go quicker.

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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

V02 Testing – Is it worth it and can you benefit from it?

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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 a few years ago and was a national Ultra champion. I wasn’t sure if it would work and benefit me so I decided to try.

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.  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 could struggle a bit in my runs but my running economy had improved hugely and something I needed to work on more. So what is Running Economy?

A common method for assessing an athlete’s running economy is to look at the volume of oxygen ( O2) they are able to consume at a speed of 16km h-1. 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.

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.

So I was asked to go back in August this year for another test but this time a test 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 treadmill then I had to do this on the track.

So what did I learn this time? That running on a treadmill is 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 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. As I have decided not to do a marathon next year I will be focusing on speed in the winter but also targeting my running economy.

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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 and now it’s time to put the August test in practice.

The next journey begins now. Goals for the cold winter months!

After a very successful Aquathlon year and being able to represent GB twice which was a huge honour, I have not been able to PB much in running and improve my running since the winter months. Therefore while the Aquathlon season is over until next spring, I will be focusing on improving my running on a whole ready for next season; of course I will still be swimming and improving so I have included all my targets from now to start building for another successful year.

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Please keep an eye out on my website for my current race schedule as it will be updated regularly and my Twitter account for my results.  My goals are:

  • One area is my 5k time, to officially record a sub 18 minute 5k; I have run aquathlons quicker than my official 5k PB, so I want this to now show in PB times.
  • To improve on my 10k time of 36:50 set in May 2016. I hope to do this by the end of next year. Ideally I would like a sub 36 minute 10k.
  • To improve my 10 mile race time of 1:02:46. I would like to take off a big chunk. I aim to do this in either a race in December 2016 (Alan Green 10 mile race) or January 2017 (Parkers Steel Canterbury 10 miler). With the main aim of running a 10 miler under an hour in the future.
  • For a half marathon, I aim to PB this year to beat my time of 1:23:32 set nearly two years ago. I don’t do many half marathons so next year is a focus to do a couple and improve on my time. With the main goal of dipping under 1:20.
  • Build on my swimming and to improve my swimming times over the winter.
  • To have a successful cross country season with Canterbury Harriers.
  • Work and prepare with Gobinder (My confidence coach) ready for next season.
  • Strength training through the winter.

These are my goals for the quiet winter season which will keep me ticking over until spring. I have in mind my goals for next year in Aquathlons but will set these out in the New Year.

So I have treated myself to a new pair of Adidas cross country spikes and a pair of Adidas Ultra Boost. So what’s next for me? Why have I chosen these targets?

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Well because of all the aquathlons this season I was unable to record PB’s in my road running races, so this is the target for the winter months. The good thing about the winter is that there is not many road running races so I can focus on a good winter of training ready for the spring. Being a running coach I have sorted my plan out for the next 6 weeks, so I will be doing 6 week loading plans with the 7th week easy running and then start again. I will revaluated myself every 6 weeks and target what area is needed in my running from this. I am looking at targeting quicker times in half marathons so will be doing a few of them and building up the endurance for this. I will also be competing in some of the Kent Fitness League cross country races because this is important to strengthen me up ready for the summer.

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I have decided that swimming is an area I need to improve on a lot for next season and I will be working with Matt my swimming coach in December. This is much earlier than the previous season as I only started working with him in April and only had a few months to get stronger and faster.

I am a regular gym user and like to do weights in the gym twice a week depending on training. I figured that I needed help in this area so shortly I will be working with a strength and endurance coach. This is going to be very important to build strength up to make me stronger and faster and keep those injuries at bay. I am looking forward to this and it is going to be a new experience for me. I will keep you posted about this in the future.

Another aspect to improve is my confidence; I have just recently worked with Gobinder who has already helped a lot and we have implemented aspects ready for next season. I look forward to this journey as we have just started and look forward to the end outcome.

So what’s next?  Well keep looking at my current schedule as I will update it regularly. I have had two weeks off from training since the World Championships and to allow my body to fully recover. Unfortunately after the race I picked up an Achilles injury which I am trying to manage. I have slowly got back into running and swimming but only easy sessions and I enjoy the free time I have now.  I have entered the Givaudan Ashford 10k on the 9th of October as I organise the Canterbury Harriers Club Championships there, so wanted to run it. I am not fit for the race due to having a rest and I am yet to decide whether to run with my wife or to just race it and see where my current fitness levels are at the moment. I have also entered the Trispirit Events Chilham Castle 5k the following week which will be the first week of proper training. I have entered this because I won it last year and hold the current course record and it’s only a few minutes away from where I live so I wanted to do it. Ater this the hard training really begins with a target race being the Brooks Brighton 10k on the 20th of November. This is the race I hope to be fully fit for and hopefully knock on the door of a PB.