How to get it done when you are under done

Your race day is almost approaching and you know you haven’t done the work. Maybe you’ve fallen ill, maybe work or family life has gotten in the way or maybe you just haven’t been motivated enough to commit to your training properly. So how do you get it done when you know you’re under done?

It can happen to the best of us and if you run for long enough you are bound to reach a time when you just haven’t done the training and you get to a race under trained. This doesn’t mean you can’t get the best out of yourself on race day, but it does mean you have to mindful of your fitness level.

When you line up on race day under done it’s natural to have some anxiety about your race. The anxiety will be on whether your race will be compromised by your fitness, or it could even be whether you’ll get to the finish line. 

Conservative Pacing

Regardless of the distance of your race if you are underdone you should run conservatively from the start of the race. You should understand that your fitness level is likely going to compromise your race in some way and conservative pacing should be your strategy.

On the flip side a conservative pacing strategy is usually a winning strategy when you are fit and well trained. If you usually race too aggressively from the start being under done and forced into a conservative strategy may be a blessing in disguise. Being mindful of your fitness may lead to better pacing overall, a lot of time can be gained by smarter pacing.

If you are mindful of your fitness and start conservatively you can run yourself into the race later. In a marathon or longer there is plenty of time to race hard of and when you feel ready later on. Start conservatively and stay conservative in your pacing for as long as necessary.

Lower Expectations

When you go into a race under done you may need to lower your performance expectations. Being under done is certainly not a guarantee of a bad race but it is an indicator that you aren’t ready to run your best race. If under training was a strategy for personal best times than running would be a simpler sport for most of us. 

If you go into a race with fewer expectations you may put less pressure on yourself to run your best. Going into a race without pressure from within to perform at your best should mean you enjoy the race further and are more awake to the atmosphere on race day.

Take each mile as it comes and enjoy the experience of being on the start line. If your lower expectations mean you pace your race better and enjoy the run more then it’s hardly a bad thing. If this means your race goes well then you can adjust your expectations during the run and have a great race.

Prepare your Mind

When you go into a race under done you can most certainly still run a strong race. By lowering your expectations and racing conservatively and strategically to your fitness you will give yourself a great chance of doing well. But the mind will have to be on its game.

Prepare your mind to be ready to race. If you are under trained physically you need to be in the game mentally. When you get to race day you need to be aware, ready and prepared for the suffering that may exist later in the race. A smart pacing strategy will get you a long way but at some point in the race it’s going to hurt and your mind needs to be ready to keep you going.

Your mind has the ability to push you further than most us think possible. Be patient in your race strategy but when it starts to hurt, accept it and let it hurt. Be ready to give your best in these moments.

Overall there is no substitute for getting to the start line trained well and ready to race your best. Sometimes it doesn’t happen though and getting the best out of your race is still possible when the training hasn’t gone to plan.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication to running

More often than not we have the tendency to complicate rather than simplify.  We assume that sophistication equals results, brilliance and performance but it usually doesn’t.  This is train of thought is extremely accurate in relation to running where more information, more choices, and more technology does not create a better runner.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” is a quote from artist Leonardo Da Vinci from most likely the late 1400’s and may resonate even truer today in modern society where we have access to more information, choice, technology and differing philosophies on every aspect of our lives.

In running it is true that as we have been given access to more information it is easy to complicate a sport that needs little complication.

Today there is more information available than ever promoting the best way to train. This can make running training confusing and easy to complicate. A simplified approach to running training is both more beneficial and more enjoyable.

Over complicating your running training can easily lead to confusion in what sessions are required. This can also lead to over training and an under developed aerobic fitness that can lead to stagnating improvement. Aerobic fitness is the key ingredient in developing running performance and is developed over time and can’t be rushed. It is developed by many months and years of easy, low heart rate running. It’s a simple process that can’t really be changed by over complicating training.

Today’s technology has made GPS running watches so advanced that there measure almost every aspect of our running. Just how many of these metrics are important and how many of them will help you improve your running. Measuring your running by perceived effort is a under used skill mostly due to technology. Running watches can now tell you what pace to run, but learning what a pace feels like is much more beneficial in the long term. 

Social media growth worldwide has intercepted almost every aspect of our lives and running is no different with platforms such as Strava becoming at the forefront of a runners everyday activity. Strava can be a great service for analysing your running training and connect to your community of runners. However there is a danger in measuring your performance through comparison with your peers as it can create envy. This can lead to poor training habits in an effort to keep up with peers or over train so you can project an impressive run online. When you look at a super impressive run from a peer online it doesn’t tell you how the runner felt during the run. 

So what is the answer?

It would be easy to say stop researching running training on the internet, give up Strava and social media and throw your GPS running watch away. But you probably don’t want to hear that.

Depriving yourself of modern technology and tools is probably not the answer. A simplified approach to training that includes a structured plan for our own running is the answer. A structured plan should take into account your outside running responsibilities and accommodate your running around these. 

In these pages we advocate for three key sessions complimented by regular aerobic running. Building aerobic fitness and endurance by a weekly aerobic long run and regular easy running. Building strength through hill workouts and building speed through interval running. It’s a simple approach but gives you time to build all the key aspects of your running. This philosophy is also easy to schedule into a busy lifestyle and easy to reprogram when things in life go wrong and we need to alter our plans.

If you want to get the most out of your running you should focus on a process that will improve you. Social media and Strava are great resources at times but don’t let them throw you off your own course. Stick to your plan and you’ll see improvement.

Utilising your GPS watch for the metrics you need can help you simplify your process. When you are on an aerobic run or hill workout pace is not acutely important, these are runs you can shift your focus from pace and run to feel or perceived effort. Interval sessions pace is important however just as important is how you feel during your intervals. 

When analysing yourself post run you should really only need to monitor time, average pace, distance, heart rate and elevation gain and loss. Most other metrics are unnecessary and don’t give any real benefit.

A simple approach to running will keep your running fresh and energised. Your training will be balanced and easy to follow and understand. And most likely you’ll get a greater enjoyment from your running and improve as a runner.

Simplicity really is the ultimate sophistication to running.

Three smart tips for long distance running pacing

When it comes to running the longer the race the more important the pacing. In a middle distance race there is less time and therefore less time to survive if you get it wrong. In a marathon or ultra-distance race this isn’t the case, it could be literally hours.

The most common pacing mistakes is going out too hard and your performance suffering towards the end. If you’ve trained well for a race you should have an expectation of running your best race. Smart pacing means executing you best race and reaching your expectations but this takes discipline and commitment throughout the race. 

Running to your goal pace will become more difficult as the race progresses and you become fatigued. The goal isn’t to run faster at the end but to not slow down as you fatigue and continue at an even pace.

  1. SLOW THE F##K DOWN

In every long distance race there is always a lot of time to push hard. Save yourself for when you will need to push hard. There is plenty of time to make yourself hurt no need to rush it.

            Regardless of your ability be patient. There is a long time before you need to be competitive. Whether this be competing for the race win, your personal bests or simply getting to the finish. Marathons and ultras don’t start till well after half way, stay focussed on being patient and remember there is plenty of time left to unleash your competitive juices on the unsuspecting competition or at very least run your best to the finish.

In the first half of your race stay patient and focussed on your pace. It should feel easy, if it doesn’t slow the f##k down.

  2. STAY MENTALLY ENGAGED

From kilometre one of a marathon or ultra-marathon till the end you should be mentally engaged on the task at end. Remember, you’ve trained long and hard for this race so focus on your performance to get the best result for yourself.

If you ignored the first piece of advice then there is still time before its too late. You generally can’t become uncooked once you are cooked but you can certainly warn of the signs of fatigue if you are mentally engaged in the process of pacing.

From the outset stay mentally engaged on being patient and aware. Be aware that the effort you are giving shouldn’t feel too hard, you should feel comfortable in these moments and even feel like you are running too slowly. Be confident that you aren’t. 

During the middle stages of your race stay mentally engaged on being disciplined and committed to the cause. Keep your focus, if you feel like giving a greater effort…wait. There is plenty of time left to push hard. This middle third of any race is a time when fatigue is starting but you still be running relatively comfortable. It’s vital to wait and stay patient.

Nearing the end of the race you must stay mentally engaged in order to give your best effort. In any long race you’ll need to give your best effort at this stage, make sure you are engaged and ready. Now is the time when your effort will reap the rewards.

3. WHEN IT’S TIME TO HURT, LET IT HURT

In the later stages of a long race you’ll feel fatigue and running will your goal pace will hurt. When it’s time to hurt, let it hurt. You’ve trained hard over months for this race, you trained for the hurt, and you expected it to hurt. Be prepared for it to hurt and to give your best effort.

The most vital part of this stage is in tip 2. When it hurts you must be mentally engaged and prepared to fight to give your best effort. It is very easily at this point to drop your mental focus and give into fatigue. 

If you’ve smartly paced your race to this point you’ll have given yourself the best chance to run a well-balanced race. You’ll have given yourself the best chance to minimise the hurt you’ll face in getting this race done, but you’ll still need to give it all you’ve got.

Be ready and prepared for the hurt. Think of your training and the hard long runs and workouts you’ve completed to get yourself fit and ready to race. This is what the training was all for and if you can run strongly through the hurt you’ll get to the finish and hopefully have met your expectations.

By pacing your race smart you not only give yourself the best chance meeting your personal goals and expectations but also feel satisfied that you ran the race to the bets of your ability.

A poorly paced race can often leave expectations on the course. If you cooked early and couldn’t give your best effort you won’t feel as satisfied as running strongly knowing you gave it your best effort.

In long distance races, pacing is pivotal to your result. Give your pacing strategy some thought prior to the race and be ready on race day.

Focus on the process, not the outcome.

Every runner with an ounce of competitiveness in their blood needs a goal. It is necessary in order to challenge personal improvement and accomplishing goals is part of what makes running great.

Achieving goals is the prize at the end of a training block and represent the reward for the effort, discipline and commitment. Achieving your goals can be your motivation to get out the door and run, the dream of personal best times or race distances completed. 

Goals are an outcome and every outcome requires a process of multiple steps to be repeated over and over to reach the goal. This process allows a runner to get themselves on the start line in the physical and mental shape to perform towards their expected goal.

Focusing purely on the outcome above the process is not a sustainable way to train. A focus on the process of completing your training plan day in day out over time is a more pragmatic approach. It allows the runner to focus each day on what is required, build consistency and manage their daily efforts and commitment. These are the simple and deliberate efforts you can control and if you take joy in the process the outcome will likely take care of itself.

Running is a simple pursuit where regular effort over time almost always produces results. There are usually no short cuts and no way to fast track improvement. Therefore you need to love the process of running and training in a way that promotes improvement. By utilising a smart training plan that builds miles over weeks and has you consistently doing runs that will build your aerobic fitness you’ll reach success and achieve your goals. 

Here, we recommend a simple philosophy of three key runs repeated to achieve success. This process is simple and certainly not using any ground breaking training methods. It’s also not flashy nor always exciting, but it’s a philosophy that repeated over time will produce results.

Goals this way!

A focus on the process will help you enjoy running for its pureness and simplicity. If you love the process you’ll love the sheer joy of running. Running is rarely about the atmosphere at events and the joy of the finish line, personal best performance or the medal around your neck. 

Running is about the dark, cold mornings when you need to get your session done. It’s the commitment of putting in runs, sometimes when you don’t want to. When you understand and focus on the process, you do it whether you want to or not. Because you understand that each goal is achieved by repeatedly getting out of your comfort zone and getting the training done. These are the moments that make you a resilient runner that is prepared to give their best when the race gets hard. 

Runners that understand the process are patient and committed to long term improvement. They are ready to put in the work and understand the value of the training. 

If you focus on the process the outcomes will take care of themselves. You will enjoy your running, you’ll become a better runner and you’ll likely achieve the goals you set for yourself.

How to improve your running on low mileage

To succeed as a long distance runner developing endurance will give you the greatest gains. The easiest way to develop endurance is to increase your aerobic mileage, in simple terms the more you run the better you’ll become as a runner.

What do you do if you can’t increase your mileage? We all have challenges that compete with us for time to be out the door running. Whether that be your career, family, other interests or sleep. So what do you do if you can only commit to low mileage and want to improve as a runner.

As Hal Higdon’s recent tweet suggests, ‘endurance is a skill that responds to intelligent training.’ Certainly increasing the volume you are running is the most proven way to increase endurance there are other ways.

A low mileage running focus requires that each and every run has a purpose. If time is your enemy to higher mileage then making the most of all of your time is vital. Each run must compliment the other runs and also assist you in achieving your goals.

In these pages we normally recommend a training strategy that encompasses training that builds strength, speed and endurance. On a low mileage philosophy endurance takes a higher priority. Whilst strength and speed is important, it is endurance which is going to get you to the finish line.

When using a low mileage training plan utilise time instead of counting miles or kilometres. The time you spend running is valuable, counting kilometres can often lead to runners overtraining on specific runs and trying to push runs faster to increase kilometres. Incidental increases in mileage aren’t nearly as important as running each run with a purpose.

Spend your time building endurance. In the very least this means running a regular aerobic long run. This does not have to be super long but needs to be sufficiently longer in time then your other runs. Again there isn’t any additional benefit to running these runs harder in the attempt to cover more distance. The benefit will come from regularly training the aerobic system.

Hills are the best running session to build strength. However they can also be beneficial in building endurance in addition to strength. By running your long runs and other aerobic runs over undulating terrain you will build both the aerobic system and build strength. When you are utilising a low mileage training plan making the most of each run is vital.

With limited time you may have to prioritise when you aim to build strength and speed. While you may not use regular shorter hill repeat sessions as often, they should still be in your plan. This is also true for interval sessions designed to build speed. You may run these on alternative weeks.

Planning your weeks is important if time is against you. Make sure you can schedule your time you can run and plan your runs in advance around when you are able to run. Having a plan of when you can commit your time helps with motivation and keeps you accountable to your training plan. If you can only run four days a week plan out which run fits best into the four days. When you have the most time plan your long run, when you have your least time plan your harder hill repeat or intervals so you can get the most out of the time you have.

Another aspect of training that shouldn’t be ignored is recovery. Even with low mileage recovery is important. Easy runs should still form part of your training plan as they allow the body to recover quicker from your harder training. Easy runs also ensure your hard sessions don’t follow each other and you have adequate time to recovery from hard sessions and long runs

For recreational runners that still want to get the best out of themselves there is still a way to succeed on low mileage. You will need to be patient and consistent with your efforts. However, if you are motivated to succeed, plan your training and commit to the process running on low mileage can be a successful strategy.

Skinners Sockshoes – Review

Skinners are a revolutionary minimal sockshoe. They are described by Skinners as a ‘The ultimate pocket footwear designed for all your adventures, travel and sports. Minimal. High-tech. Anti-Odour. Durable. Awesome.” Backing up this claim Skinners won a Red Dot design award in 2017 and their crowd funding campaign through Kickstarter raised over US $650 000 with an initial goal of just US $10 000. It was an impressive beginning for this fledgling brand.

Skinners list the uses as fitness, yoga, camping, hiking, running, office, roller blading or simply anywhere. They are designed as a minimal all-purpose footwear alternative. This review is aimed at Skinners purely from a running perspective.

Since they became popular in the minimal scene I have been very interested to use and try Skinners. They are an intriguing product and can’t be described as a shoe and offer more protection than simply a sock. 

Prior to trying this product I had reservations on a couple of points. 

  1. Longevity – How could these ‘socks’ withstand constant running on hard surfaces and the ‘sole’ remain intact?
  2. Structure – As a sock becomes worn they stretch, would Skinners stretch and lose structure and comfort?

I wanted to make sure I gave them a good test, running over many different surfaces and test them out as a pure running footwear alternative.

To look at Skinners are simply a sock with a rubbery granular coating over the sole of the sock. The sole is thicker than I had expected. On first wearing they are exactly like a sock and the sole coating offers no rigid structure at all. For this reason the running experience in Skinners is quite different.

Without any rigid structure under the foot the foot can feel everything under foot. The running experience with Skinners is very similar to completely barefoot running, however the protection offered, however minimal does provide enough protection. Running in Skinners is very successfully over almost all terrain.

I tested Skinners over road, trails both hard packed dirt and rocky single trail and also on the beach and both soft and hard sand. Over all surfaces the Skinners were acceptable, over rocky trails they didn’t quite give enough protection for the runner who isn’t already running regularly completely barefoot on rough terrain.

One of my favourite quotes regarding barefoot running is from ‘Born to Run’ author Chris McDougall who says ‘The more minimal you are the more aware you are.” Skinners certainly fit into this category and give you the awareness of everything under foot. Most of the time this is a good thing as it gives you feel of the ground and a very natural barefoot running feel.

  • Longevity

After running in Skinners regularly over the past 6 weeks the longevity is certainly adequate. I have run so far just over 100km in them and given them a thorough test. As I expected in a short period of time the rubbery granular sole started to come off the sole directly on the foot impact points. This doesn’t pose any problem as it is natural wear of the sole and happens to all running footwear. The rubber sole of a shoe takes longer to wear, however is much more rigid. The sole coming away doesn’t deteriorate further with more running and for the 100km I’ve run has maintained similar wear to even after 2-3 runs.

Only very recently has the sole started to crack in one position directly under the ball of my foot, but only on one of the Skinners. From my experience I believe the Skinners will continue to wear with more miles run in them but overall the longevity expected is similar to most traditional running shoes.

However, if you are buying Skinners as your primary running footwear and want 1000km+ from them you may be disappointed. Overall I believe Skinners will offer fairly good longevity and value for money.

Skinners wearing after approx 100km of running
  • Structure

My other reservation was whether Skinners would lose structure and stretch like socks tend to do after a longer period of time. I was very impressed that they have not altered in structure at all in the time of run with them.

One of the few negatives I have found is after a few runs they can become smelly and require washing. They can easily be machine washed, which I have done 3-4 times following the care instructions. This has also not contributed to them losing any structure and this reservation was completely unfounded.

Skinners are quite a thick sock which may be another reason why they hold their structure so well. However, running in Skinners late in the Australian summer the feet quickly become quite hot. They are much better suited to mild or cool weather, which certainly make sense as a barefoot running alternative. Stay barefoot in summer and wear the sock shoes in winter perhaps.

Who should use Skinners?

From a pure running point of view Skinners are not for every runner. If you have not transitioned to run in minimal shoes or barefoot they are probably not for you. Yet.

If you have run for a period of time without injuries barefoot or in minimal shoes these are for you. They are perfect for the runner who believes in running barefoot but wants the protection from the elements of having something between you and the ground. They give a very natural barefoot experience and are excellent for this type of runner.

If you have run in minimal shoes and transitioned to zero drop running then these could be a great footwear to add to your arsenal. They may not be your go to primary running footwear but they are a great asset to have to add variety to your footwear options.

If you run in traditional shoes and haven’t transitioned to any barefoot or minimal style footwear Skinners could be your ticket to initiate change. They will give you a perfect introduction to barefoot running and may kick start your barefoot running journey.

Overall

Skinners are a pure barefoot running footwear option that gives the runner enough protection from harsh surfaces without inhibiting the feet’s movement. They are a very good minimal running option for most surfaces. Skinners are a product very much suited to a colder climate and for a barefoot runners winter footwear, they are however quite hot in a warm climate.

I’m satisfied that Skinners will give longevity equal to most traditional running shoes that have a much larger price tag.  After regular use and repeated machines washes Skinners keep their structure and don’t stretch out of shape.

Skinners are a viable running option for anyone experienced or considering barefoot running. Whilst they won’t be my primary running footwear for training or racing they will certainly find a place in my footwear rotation for the foreseeable future.

Port Macquarie Half Marathon 2019 – Race Report

Upon entering the Port Macquarie Half Marathon in January this year I knew that training for this race was going to be limited. With some changes to my family dynamic over the last few months training at my preferred early mornings has been problematic. I planned to do as much training as I could and give my best on race day.

Port Macquarie Half Marathon is in my hometown and this was my fourth attempt at the race. It has grown in popularity and professionalism over the past few years and is now a must do destination race on the NSW Mid North Coast.

With my training limited through the start of this year I hadn’t been able to do a real half marathon preparation with a longest training run of 13km for the year. The time I had to train I concentrated on building aerobic fitness and strength by regularly running over hilly terrain near my home.

Last year one this course I ran a personal best half marathon of 79:40. This year I tempered my expectations and decided to aim for around an 85 minute half marathon or 4:02 min/km average pace. With a three lap course my plan was to start somewhat conservatively and try and roll through the field over the back half of the race.

After some wild thunderstorms on Saturday evening, Sunday race day arrived to an overcast but humid morning. Arriving at the start I felt good about my chances of running to my goal time. I positioned myself close to the front of the start line and when under way was conscious of my pacing early. I had planned to start the race with a pace between 4:05-4:10 for the first few kilometres and went through the first km in 3:54. I immediately slowed down and run to my plan, the next few kilometres were 4:09 and 4:06 and felt easy and I was happy to speed up slightly and went through the first of three 7km laps averaging 4:05 min/km. Feeling good and happy with how this lap had progressed.

Lap 2 was much of the same, I concentrated closely on keeping my pace even and not racing. During this lap I started to overtake a number of people that had gone out quite hard and felt good pushing myself through the field. This motivated me to keep my pace consistent and try and run through more of the field but mindful not to over pace my race at this stage, still a long way to go. By the end of the second lap I had started to fatigue but was still happy with my ability to run the 4:05 min/km average pace I was running.

Lap 3 I was still running through the field but less so than the second lap. Still I was happy whenever I overtook a runner. At this time in the half marathon fatigue is starting to build and to maintain my pace I had to give my best effort. There were times between 16-18km where I felt my pace was slowing as I felt fatigued but was happy to see my pace hadn’t slowed and when I dug deep I was able to keep this pace. This was apparent until the last 2km where my pace slowed to around 4:20 min/km, by this time I was satisfied with my race and wasn’t in a position to lose or gain a place on course. I felt pleased to come across the line in 1:25:40 for 14th place overall. Just outside my pre-race goal but happy with how the race unfolded for me.

Out of the four times I’ve run this event this is my slowest time, in fact I was six minutes slower than the same day a year ago. Yet I felt a lot of satisfaction from this race. Most runners know that for the most part you get the results you train for, when you put in the work the results come. Knowing that I hadn’t put in the work and adjusting my expectations accordingly gave this race a different perspective in my mind. I believe I gave my best effort and ran this race to the best my fitness would allow.

Another aspect I am happy with is my ability to run to my plan. Had I started and attempted to run an 80 min half marathon the third and possibly second lap would have been quite different. I’m pleased I was able to pace my race as planned and not react to having many runners in front of me early in the race. I walk away from this race feeling good about the races I have planned for later in the year when I can commit to a better training block.

For now it’s back to putting in more training hours and getting my fitness back to a place that allows me to run my best times. As always that’s a journey and not a destination and my fitness will build over the next few months.

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Eliud Kipchoge in London. Whats next?

 

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How do you follow up a 2:01:39 marathon? What should we expect from Eliud Kipchoge in his first race since the astonishing world record run in Berlin in September 2018 when he lines up in the London Marathon on April 28th 2019. In Berlin Kipchoge climbed the marathoners Mt Everest and then some, it’ll be interesting to see what his next race shows.

There are a few possibilities in how the race unfolds for him, we will presume he has trained well and in similar shape to that at Berlin. Its a safe presumption as Kipchoge has been in brilliant marathon form over the past 4-5 years. Undefeated and rarely challenged for victory his efforts have been so supreme.

Kipchoge has won in London three times in 2015, 2016 and 2018. Missing the race in 2017 to take part in the Nike Breaking 2 project. In the 2016 race he set the current course record of 2:03:05 which on that day fell agonisingly 8 seconds short of the then world record held by Dennis Kimetto. Victory this year would make Kipchoge the races first four time winner, something that seems inevitable even with a deep world class field entered. Media will likely centre around a duel with Britain’s Mo Farah or former world record holder Wilson Kipsang but neither appear to be a match. Farah’s personal best of 2:05:11 is far from competitive with Kipchoge and Kipsang was 5 minutes behind in Berlin and hasn’t been able to reproduce his best running since breaking the world record in 2016.

If Kipchoge is to be challenged in London it’ll likely be the clock and his search for further marathon immortality which poses the greatest challenge. How close then the great man come to the 2 hour mark, and can this be done in London. Comparing his Berlin world record with his 2016 London course record indicates it’s possible.

In London’s 2016 course record 2:03:05 Kipchoge broke the 30km world record in 1:27:13 or 2:54 min/km. In Berlin’s 2:01:39 he bettered this mark to 1:26:45 going through 28 sec faster. In Berlin he was able to run the remaining 12.2km astonishingly 58 sec faster than London 2016. These last 12.2km were run completely solo, he didn’t have a pacemaker that could stay with him to this point. If Kipchoge is to better his own world record he will almost certainly have to run from 25-30km to the finish solo again. He will need to lower his 30km world record again to go faster and quite simply there isn’t a human on the planet that can that far with him.

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If Kipchoge is improve on his world record he has a blueprint from Berlin. The consistency and accuracy of his pacing was metronomic and simply a masterclass, if he can reproduce pacing of this quality he will give himself a chance at bettering his 2:01:39. Losing another 100 sec to go under 2 hours though may be a bridge too far even for a man this great.

Kipchoge joked after Berlin that he hadn’t yet run a 2:02 marathon and this may be his next goal. If he achieved this in London it’d still be an amazing run. To date only Dennis Kimetto has ever run a 2:02 marathon.

While money is an obvious and a deserving reward for a runner of this quality I get the feeling Kipchoge wants more than the financial riches that go with being the greatest marathoner in history. At 34 years old Kipchoge realistically has 3-4 years at the very top of his sport and although his place in history is assured he may just want more. What ever the result in London, Kipchoge’s first appearance since Berlin promises to be intriguing and the must watch marathon of the year.

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Barefoot Running: Foot strike is just the beginning Part 3

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If you’ve gotten this far into your barefoot running transition then you have begun the process of building barefoot running mileage. Building this amount of running slowly allows your body to adapt to the different muscles used in barefoot running and build strength in the feet and ankles.

In this the third article in the series we look at the running specifics to focus on when the transition. One of the most common mistakes runners make is to focus on ensuring a forefoot landing when running. This is a common mistake that often increases the chances of injury as the muscles are pushed to far as they develop the strength needed to run successfully barefoot. The mechanics of running barefoot running will naturally promote a forefoot landing and without over compensation of landing on the toes.

So what should you focus on when you begin running barefoot.

1. Faster cadence
Running with a faster cadence will naturally keep you lighter on your feet and allow you to more naturally move your foot landing from the heel to your forefoot naturally and without focus and effort.
Most articles use 180 strides per minute as a basis of this technique but it can be faster or slightly slower depending on the runner. Using a metronome to keep this cadence is an easy way to measure your cadence, download a free metronome app to your smart phone. Once you develop this cadence turn the metronome on and off periodically and you will learn this rhythm and adapt your running to it.

2. Short natural stride
If you increase your cadence you will likely run with a shorter stride length. At first this stride may seem shorter than you’d think effective however this will help the foot land under the body’s centre of mass and promote a compact, efficient running technique.
A shorter natural stride is the best way to ensure you don’t over stride. Over striding will ensure you land on your heel, this won’t be a successful transition to barefoot running. Over striding will however be more difficult if you are running with a faster cadence.

3. Pulling the foot off the ground
For many runners this is initially a difficult concept too understand but while running you should be concentrating on pulling the trailing leg off the ground. Rather than pushing your foot into the ground.
This assists with keeping your body in a slight forward lean and the foot landing under the body’s centre of mass. In simple terms, a human doesn’t need to focus on the forward leg landing, gravity will ensure this happens.
If you focus on pulling the foot off the ground you will reduce the time the foot is on the ground and improve your cadence. This will help you become a more efficient runner and use your energy the best way to propel you forward. There may be a shift in mid set required that will take some time and concerted practise in order to adjust.

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In summary, the best way to develop your barefoot running technique is to run with a fast cadence, a short natural stride and while running concentrate just on pulling your foot off the ground. Putting these three simple pieces together will help you develop a running technique that allows you to best run barefoot or in minimal footwear.

You should practise this over short concentrated efforts. To begin try some 100 metre strides, using a metronome and focus on the foot hitting the ground in unison with the metronome and concentrate on pulling the foot off the ground. In your general aerobic runs practise these techniques for periods of the run and then let the body do it naturally for a period of time. It will take some time for this to be your natural running technique before it becomes second nature.

As always if you have any questions regarding attempting a transition to barefoot or minimal footwear running please reach out at therunninger@gmail.com. Happy running

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How to start your running season when you haven’t trained enough

For most of us running is a secondary pastime in our lives and although important is usually below family and working in the pecking order that time and energy is devoted to. At times these factors or potentially other interests take up time that you’d like to devote to improving your running performance.

This can be especially magnified when you have chosen to prepare for a marathon or other goal races through the season. As most seasoned runners know preparing for the seasons races motivated and having a planned outline of your training runs is beneficial and usually vital to prepare in the best way.

But what do you do if you can’t complete the runs as planned and often miss runs due to life getting in the way. Usually the best way to improve your running is to run more, but if you can’t run there are still ways to get to the start line ready to race.

1.  Focus on the key workouts

Your key workouts each week are those runs that build strength, endurance and speed. When you have limitations on your time first complete the runs that build aerobic endurance, being your medium to long aerobic runs. Secondly strength is important to get your through the later stages of a marathon, run hill repeats or make sure your aerobic runs are over a undulating terrain. Intervals build speed, focus on these as the third piece of the puzzle.

Focussing your training time around your key workouts will give you the best chance at success on race day if training time becomes the enemy.

If time is limited then focus on building endurance, strength and speed in that order. Make sure you give your time for recovery by not running hard sessions on consecutive days.

2.  Adjust your expectations

There is more to running marathons then setting personal best times. Sometimes the best runs are those that you reach your potential at this current time.

Most marathoners know that in order to get the best result you need to put in the work and race well on the day. If you haven’t put in the work for whatever reason, adjusting your expectations and giving your best effort for the current fitness shape you are in will certainly make the race more enjoyable. Marathons are hard enough when you are well prepared, when you aren’t well prepared the last 10-15km of the marathon can be a very lonely and painful place.

Maybe this next race isn’t the time to aim for your personal best and you can learn more about race pacing when you get through a race running well not in peak fitness. Next time you choose to run a race you may be better positioned to complete the training and run a personal best.

3. Stay motivated

It is easy to let a poor training block affect your motivation. This can magnify the problem if you miss more runs through not wanting to get out the door. Stay motivated by looking at the big picture, the season is long and when you get the opportunity to train make the most of it.

Focus on the runs you enjoy and why you want to go running in the first place. Adjusting your racing expectations can also be transferred to training expectations as well. Adjust the sessions that you plan, you may not be able to hit the splits in training that you are used to but it doesn’t really matter.

When you lack motivation try and stay committed and focussed and the running will take care of itself. No runner have ever regretted going for a run, so get out and go running and it’ll likely spark your motivation.

 

Running is a simple sport and like life itself the more you put into it the more you get out of it. However there are still ways to gain a lot out of it when things don’t go to plan in training.

 

 

Use the code: runninger20 for a 20% discount on all eyewear at ND:R Elite performance Sunglasses