Staying motivated and looking after your mental health through Covid-19

2020 was sure a year not to remember but there are still some positives you can take out of this time period. I have struggled like many others with these uncertain times but I have decided to share some of my top tips on staying motivated and looking after your mental health. I personally believe we have the last bit of the mountain to climb and things will start to return to the new normal slowly.

Firstly, control what you can control and anything else don’t worry about it, it is out of your hands. The stress and worry about something you cannot control is not worth it as it will affect you, so the best way is to relax. What I have learnt over the year is that if I feel anxious or start to panic take a step back for a few minutes, control your breathing by breathing in 4 seconds and then out 7 seconds and it helps calm down the nervous system.

I found having a worry book is very helpful. I spend 10 minutes every day writing in this book my concerns for the day and also how I could deal with them. Once the book is shut, then I stop worrying about things for the rest of the day; I find it very helpful.

Next tip is to get outside daily, just getting outdoors for 5 minutes will go a long way to helping your wellbeing and mental health even if it’s just for a walk. It can give you relaxing time and take in the countryside for example and just getting out in day light will help a lot with your mood. I always find the sun sets me up for a happy day. There will be days you don’t feel like getting out but honestly they are the days which are the best. If I don’t feel like running I force myself to go out and say if I am not enjoying it after 10 minutes I will come back home, but most of the time I stay out longer and end up enjoying it or having one of my best runs. Keep moving don’t just sit about all day if you are working from home – I walk round the house if I can’t go outside for some reason. It’s important to keep moving it will help your health and wellbeing. I always found when I am exercising I relaxed and it’s helping me clear my head and therefore destresses me.

Motivation can be tough without knowing if your race will go ahead or not. Again this is out of your hands and what you can control is your training. Having a goal is very important in staying motivated. It can be something like I want to run a 28minute 5k to I want to podium at the European Sprint Triathlon Championships in my age group. Which is my big goal, and is my motivation to get there. If you believe you can do it then you are half way there and if you keep working at your goal and work hard at it with smart training then you will achieve your goal. Believe me I couldn’t swim in 2012 and in 2019 I won my Age Group at the European Aquathlon Championships. So the impossible can became the possible. Having small little goals too so you can work towards a big goal is a good way for you to work towards and stay motivated.

Breaking your training up with cross training and having a plan to work with I find is also very important in staying motivated. Of course you can work round the plan if days don’t go according to plan as it’s important to be very flexible. Having a plan and breaking up your day is a good way to go and keep your mind busy, that’s how I find it helps me. A good plan should have the right balance of training and structured recovery weeks as well as full rest days etc.

Don’t over train because you will just burn out or give up. Make sure you have the right balance of mixed training with easy training and hard training, the 80/20 percent rule is a golden rule to follow. 80 percent of training easy and 20 percent hard training, this has worked well for me over the years and allowed me to get in consistent training which as allowed me to improve and achieve my goals as well as keeping injuries to a minimal. Mix up training often, don’t do the same things every day and every week, changing this up not only keeps it fun and interesting it’s the way you get better and improve.

I hope these tips are helpful as these are some of the things I have used over the past year to help my training, daily life and enjoy it as well as looking after my mental health. When it comes to exercising we all know how important it is to your health and mental wellbeing so keep moving even if you don’t feel like it. Of course having rest days are important but not too many to a point you stop training altogether. Stay positive and stay safe the good times will come back.

Check my YouTube Channel HERE

Are you over training now during lockdown?

With countries around the world going into lockdown and some allowing you to go out for one form of exercise a day, this has also resulted in an increase of people over training because of having more time on their hands – could you be falling into this trap?

It is unlikely there will be any races until the end of the summer. Many people are not adjusting their training such as carrying on running high mileage for October marathons, too many runs etc. People are now thinking they can fit more training in and therefore will fall into this trap and will neglect training as a result.

My advice is don’t be tempted, it might seem like a good idea to do more during lockdown but you are going to risk an injury, and potentially get ill when this is the time when you need your immune system to not be suppressed because of what’s going on at the moment.  So I have come up with some tips that will help not to over train and how to stay strong and fit during this period. So here are some tips I am using in my training.

Firstly, scale back your training – for example, if you were running long periods of time, scale it back. A 60 minute easy run will help you a lot instead of a 2 hour run. Focus on something else so instead of doing a lot of hard session’s cut that down and replace it with easy zone 2 heart rate sessions. This way you can work on your efficiency and form. Zone 2 training has so many benefits and makes you faster. You won’t lose fitness, maybe a little speed but that will come back quickly when you train again for races when this is over. Do not use the excuse I was told I can do one exercise a day so I am going to run or cycle for a long period of time. For example, in my training I can’t swim as the pools as they are all shut now. So I have replaced my swim sessions with just one bike session & a strength session. For my running, I run four times a week with two easy and two hard sessions. I am now doing minimal speed work and running in zone 2 and therefore in total doing less training.

Rest is so important and I can’t stress how important this is and is neglected so much by people. Rest means rest, yes nothing at all. Recovery runs, rides, easy strength work etc is not rest. Rest is crucial in every plan and is when your body recovers, rebuilds and gets stronger. At least one rest day will help so much because it improves you and you make a lot of gains and keeps injuries away.

Eat healthy and try to stay out of the cupboards and fridge. If you’re like me and eat a lot it’s hard not to over eat when stuck in doors. So you need to discipline yourself so you don’t over eat. Stick to your normal eating routine and maybe add some extra fruit to boost your immune system. Eating the right nutrients and food is so important as your body absorbs these more than rubbish foods.

Focus on your weaknesses, so now is the time to work on your weaknesses and things you have neglected in the past. So for running it could be working on drills and form so it improves your running technique. In swimming, working on those swimming muscles doing land bases work that you never usually do. Cycling – if you’re like me and it’s my weakest, working more on that to improve. So there is a lot you can do.

Hope you find this helpful, it’s important we stay positive, stay safe and keep moving as we can beat this together. Don’t fall into the trap of over training, it’s fine to scale back to keep your immune system strong and healthy. Of course it’s important for our health and well being to get out, my training has been adapted and hopefully I will get to races later in the year. Now is the time to scale back and work on your weaknesses; you won’t go backwards you will get stronger.

Check out my YouTube Channel I have videos on there which will help you with you training HERE

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

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Heart Rate running – is it worth it?

I have decided to write a Blog on Heart Rate running and my take on it.

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

So what is Heart Rate running? Well the key is to find out your maximum heart rate while running. This can be done by a VO2 test in a lab or by running for ten minutes as fast as you can with a heart rate monitor and then take the max from there.

So what’s next once you have your heart rate max?  Heart rate running is very good and if you find your 60% to 70% of your heart rate max you can be improving at a faster rate then just speed training alone. Long runs at 60% to 70% can make a huge benefit by teaching your body to not burn carbs and burn fat to make you more efficient. This therefore can make you quicker. Last year I spent most of my training doing these long runs that proved to work. At the same time by making you more efficient it will improve your running economy.

What is running economy? Running economy (RE) is typically defined as the energy demand for a given velocity of submaximal running, and is determined by measuring the steady-state consumption of oxygen (VO2) and the respiratory exchange ratio. If you don’t know what VO2 is please read my old blog about VO2 (Here)

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

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

My conclusion is that it worked for me and still works, I am able o run longer and further and I do not feel as tired the next day. It has also helped me keep injuries away and I am still improving from this. I definitely recommend giving it a try.

 

Off Season Recovery

 

Recovery is something that is very important for anybody that does sport, whether you are a professional or not.  This is something that gets neglected and from my experience runners tend to be the worse. I see many runners pound their bodies week in week out all year without any rest; some run marathon after marathons, some run a very fast marathon and then a few days later they are running hard again. Well all these people in my experience and my coaching experience struggle with injuries, going backwards with form, slowing down etc. In an ideal world running all the time sounds perfect but if you are being realistic there is no way you can maintain form all year round, your body will breakdown. If you look at top athletes and one particular Olympic Gold medallist Gwen Jorgensen, she takes a month off in the off season; most people won’t even take a day off.

For me rest and recovery is important and I have managed to keep my body in good shape and injuries to a minimal the past few years. Rest is rest and means not doing other activities in place. Many people have an injury and decide to cross train when they have been told to rest and in fact they make their injury worse. I know some injuries you can cross train and help maintain fitness however expert advice is needed for this.

After a hectic summer season and probably too many races I thought it was best to rest up after the World Championships. Unfortunately I picked up an Achilles injury which in the past I would of panicked.  However my mind set has changed and at least I can still run.

In previous years I would train all year round because being from a running background, there are many running races all through the year and I wanted to PB every race I done. I now know with my experience that it is not the best idea and I shouldn’t go pounding away every single week; recovery and rest are important. So I had two weeks off after the race; I then done easy training for about 3 weeks after, keeping my runs to a max of an hour and cutting down on the runs for two weeks and three easy swims a week. This was also to factor in Achilles problem as well.

So for the first time in four years my target and important races are now in the summer so I have to keep my self-ticking over. I have set my targets as you may have read in my previous blog, to keep my fitness up. I am slowly increasing the miles now and really working on my running economy and endurance. I have the Cross Country season now to keep me busy and hopefully improve on my placing from last year. My big race is Brighton 10k which I will try to get close to my PB but may not be possible at the moment; I am in no rush to get fully fit yet.

With recovery being important at the moment I think it’s important to get a massage to help my injury recover. Dealing with an Achilles injury can be a nightmare and even stop you doing your hobby forever.  I had an Achilles injury a few years back and rested for 3 months before I could run again, this time it was very painful but did not hurt much while running so very different. My advice for anyone who has an Achilles injury is to be patient and don’t rush back because it’s a slow healer and could cause further problems. Perhaps next year I will take a whole month off.

 

 

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.