Three tips to keep your easy running easy

A common mistake runners make, myself included, is running easy days too hard. Easy days are designed for you to recover and absorb the harder training that you have done and develop your aerobic fitness. When you run your easy runs to hard it hinders this process and your body doesn’t recover for the next harder session.

Here are three tips to keep your easy running easy.

1. Relax your technology game.

Easiest way to keep your running easy is to stop looking at pace during your run and focus on keeping the run relaxed. When you divorce concentrating on pace you will run on feel, this will help you recognise when running feels harder then it should be. The alternative is concentrating on pace and trying to stay at a set pace which may or may not be easy enough for you to recover. Perceived effort is a more helpful measure then pace.

Another reason is not every run needs to look impressive on social media sites like Strava. The pressure to post a run on social media that impresses friends and follows is an empty goal, when easy runs are easy running will improve and race day will look better on Strava.

2. Enjoy the easy runs

Easy runs should be the most enjoyable runs of the week. When you push a hard interval or hill session they are satisfying, but most would agree during the run they are hard. Easy runs shouldn’t feel like this, they should be easy, relaxed and enjoyable.

Take these runs to run socially, chatting with friends during a run is a sure way to forget pace and enjoy the run. If you prefer to run alone then put the headphones in and listen to music or a podcast. Enjoy the outdoors and enjoy the run.

3. Use heart rate as a guide

Measuring heart rate is a way to measure your effort. By concentrating on keeping your easy runs at a low heart rate you will get all the benefits of easy runs and aerobic training. The easiest measurement is the MAF method (Maximum aerobic function) of 180 minus your age. By keeping your heart rate at or below your MAF heart rate you will keep your easy runs easy and develop your aerobic function.

Keeping your easy runs easy is vital way to ensure you recover from the harder training runs and develop your aerobic fitness. Keep it easy and enjoy your running.

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Running year in review -2017

My major running goal in 2017 was to run a sub three-hour marathon. It’s been a goal for a number of years and this year I set this as a specific goal for the Seoul marathon and was able to achieve this goal. This year I only managed to race two major races, the Seoul Marathon and Beach to Brother trail marathon in September. I look back at 2017 as a successful year of running for two major reasons, I achieved my sub 3 goal and stayed injury free the entire year.

Seoul Marathon

Seoul marathon in March was my first major goal race. I trained specifically for this race and was very motivated to achieve my sub 3 hour goal. This kept me training through the Australian summer and this paid dividends when I travelled to the colder climate in Seoul. My race went perfectly on the day and I finished in 2:57 for a nine minute personal best over the marathon. Hitting my sub 3 hour goal was the highlight of my running year and an achievement that I’m really proud of. I trained hard for this race, stayed injury free through the preparation and gave myself the best chance to achieve the goal.

Beach to Brother Marathon

Beach to Brother marathon was held in September in my home town of Port Macquarie. The race produced an unseasonably hot day in the mid 30 celsius and this really took apart many of the competitors on the day, myself included. The weather and course provided a tough challenge and I finished this race in 6th place in 4:42. My pre race goal was to break four hours for this race, but the conditions made this goal unreachable. I’m not satisfied with this result for beach to brother and will be back next year for another crack at this race. It’s a great course in a beautiful location.

Total Mileage

This year I have run just over 2100km with 27000m of elevation gain. I have completed approx. 60% of this running mileage in Gladsoles sandals including the Beach to Brother marathon and remained injury free throughout the year. This has been the first year that I have ever remained completely injury free and also the first year that I have solely run in minimal footwear. Running in sandals has been the common denominator in this years progression to minimal only footwear. Late in 2016 I made the decision that these would be my number one footwear choice and I would rotate between some other minimal shoes to add variety. Running in sandals has helped strengthen my feet so it’s safe to say that 2018 will feature more sandal running. Staying injury free has allowed me to run all 12 months of 2017, I haven’t had a total break from running for longer than a week this year. This has kept my aerobic training consistent and the given me the ability to keep running and stay fit and healthy throughout the year.

Whats next?

I’ll post later about my specific goals for 2018 but I’ve already committed to Canberra Marathon in April. On top of this I’ve decided to give a return to triathlon a crack and compete in an Ironman 70.3 three weeks after this marathon. This means from the start of the new year I will start a program to train for both of these races. It will be somewhat difficult to train for a triathlon and still get to the start line of a marathon in my best condition, but this is the challenge I’ve decided on.

Another goal for 2018 is to race more. This has been a good running year for me, staying injury free and fit throughout the year. I could have taken advantage of this by racing more.

While the year still has a few weeks left I’m ready for 2018 and to start fresh with some new running goals.


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Dr. Nicholas Romanov’s Pose Method of Running (Dr. Romanov’s Sport Education)


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Stupid or not?

 

Is it stupid or not to do an Ironman 70.3 three weeks after your goal marathon? This is the question I have been entertaining in my head in recent weeks as I have been motivated to give triathlon some focus again. It’s been six years since I last competed in an Ironman 70.3 triathlon and maybe it’s time to go back for another crack.

I’ve already committed to running the Canberra Marathon on April 15th as my goal race for the first half the year. Ironman Australia in my home town of Port Macquarie is three weeks later on May 6th where there is a full Ironman and a 70.3 event run concurrently. If I’m going to do a triathlon in 2018 there will likely only be one and it will be this one. So with that said is it stupid? Maybe.

The first problem that enters my head is that I will need to put quite a bit of focus into the bike and swim and will this negatively effect my running? After all the marathon is my number one goal race. My initial thoughts are that the bike and swim may not have too much impact, cycling is going to build my aerobic base, which will only help running and likewise the swim. If I continue to focus on my three key running sessions each week  of long run, intervals and hill repeat then I can use the bike as recovery from running somewhat. Problem solved.

The second problem is the time it takes to train properly for triathlon. The reason I stopped triathlon was because of the time it takes to train. There is no doubt that I will need to limit my training focus somewhat. If I train six days a week once a day I can have 3 x run sessions, 2 x cycling and 1 x swim. If I can fit in a second swim on one of the days then this could be enough. Problem solved.

The third problem is whether it is stupid to do the Ironman 70.3 so soon after a marathon. Ideally I wouldn’t do it and feel that it could deplete my body by competing in both these races as I will want to do my best in both. Between the two races there will need to be emphasis on recovery, running a marathon is tough and recovery is usually underrated. Recovery will need to be prioritised, if it is then maybe it’s not the stupidest idea ever. Problem solved.

With all three of my problem solved I just need to decide whether to commit to both races and enter. Give me a week to decide.

If you feel like trying to convince me if this is stupid or not, leave a comment.

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The first week of a streak

When I committed to a run streak last Tuesday I made a goal to run all my runs outside and not let the treadmill in my garage allow me to avoid any inclement weather. Running in the rain is a part of running and usually not bad once you get started, especially in October in Australia where the weather is starting to warm up before summer.

During the first seven runs of my run streak I have run 63km over the seven days. All of them at an aerobic pace and all of them forgetting pace on the watch. Longest run has been 11.7km and shortest was this morning at 6km in heavy rain. The first four days of my running were in Sydney where I was having a short holiday and used these runs to explore the northern suburbs of Chatswood, Artarmon and Willoughby as this is where we were staying. Running in different surrounds allowed me to find some new trails around this area and was a nice change of scenery. There is some great running terrain around these areas which I wasn’t aware of before.

My challenge of not avoiding rain may have jinxed me to some degree as three of the first seven runs have been held in relatively heavy rain. My last run in Sydney was wet, my Saturday run including my local parkrun was wet and this morning was particularly wet. For this mornings run I had just gotten out of bed and started getting ready to run when the rain started making a jinx even more believable. Good to get the job done in the rain though, on a normal week I may have skipped some or all of these runs and stayed in bed.

I am back to Sydney this week for work on Wednesday which may cause a challenge fitting my run in. With an early 6:30am flight I’ll either be up very early to run or running later in the evening after dinner. I’m leaning towards a late evening run backed up by an early morning run on Thursday. Otherwise the normal challenges of work and life are present but I’m confident they won’t get in the way of my continuing the streak.

Marathon training week 6

Week 5 training went right to plan with my three key sessions all being completed with a minimum of fuss. Winter temperatures have made early morning running a little more difficult but enjoyable once you start and recovery is easier in colder conditions.

This week sees me needing to travel to Sydney for work Monday morning so will have a rest day Monday and a run in new surrounds on Tuesday. Looking forward to run in a new location. However will not run my normal hill session on Tuesday due to not knowing if there is a suitable hill near my hotel yet.

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – Sydney Intervals 12 x 2 min 30 seconds recovery

Wednesday- Strength

Thursday – Hill repeats

Friday – Rest

Saturday – Long run 2 hours 40 min or Parkrun

Sunday – Long run or rest day 

Will decide during the week whether I want to do parkrun on Saturday or a long run. Leaning towards the long run as I want to ensure I get this in as it’s key to building endurance towards the marathon. 

Hope you training goes well this week. Keep running.

When new running sandals are ordered!

This week I ordered myself a new pair of Gladsoles trail sandals. My current pair have now run 1100km and are showing major signs of wear on the sole. They are also starting to become quite thin and lost some of their structure meaning they aren’t as stable when running as previously. I am still currently running in them but they are ready for a change.

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Bear in mind they have run 1100km over every type of terrain possible with at least half these kilometres on roads. They have served me well and motivated my transition to minimal running because of the ride they offer. I’ve never had a pair of running shoes last 1100km, usually the midsole breaks down after 400-500km and sole material deteriorates in a similar time. My Gladsoles sandals costs half the price of some of the running shoes I have bought in my past and lasted twice as long. When I purchased these sandals I was planning on them complimenting my normal minimal running shoes and running in them occasionally and this is what I did for the first 12 months. As my transition to zero drop running progressed I ran more in sandals and now do most of my running in sandals.

The new Gladsoles trails that I have ordered use a new material to the original trail model I purchased about two years. I emailed Rich at Gladsoles about the difference and found out the new material is Vibram Gumlite which is a little more dense then the previous sole. It will take longer to mould to your feet, but provides a little more protection against sharp rocks. They are an 8 mm sole, the same as the previous trail model. I am looking forward to running in the denser sole as slightly more protection will be welcomed when on trails. When running in just an 8mm sole you get phenomenal ground feel but you do feel the rocks and sharp objects you run on.

With this information I ordered a new pair but was faced with the dilemma of which lace and lace lock colour to choose. This is a seriously tough decision as there are plenty to choose from. Previously I have used neon orange, neon green and yellow on my sandals and changed the lace colour a few times. For these sandals I have chosen olive green laces and a black lace lock.

I often get asked when running in sandals questions like, “How do you run in them?”  The truth is I don’t know how I ran in shoes that were heavy and inflexible for so many years. I am just as fast if not faster in sandals than shoes and I feel happier and more motivated to run when in sandals.

I’m looking forward to another 1000+km of running in these new sandals. In a weeks time I will start my focus on my next goal race being the Beach to Brother Trail marathon. I will be running this race in Gladsoles Sandals with olive green laces. This race offers a range of terrain, beach including both hard and soft sand, trail, roads and pathways before a 2.5km vertical climb to finish the event. It will be a tough event and one that I look forward to competing in.

 

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5km race win in sandals in 17:37

Goal Race – Beach to Brother Marathon

It’s taken me a while to decide on a new goal race, I was deciding between Sydney marathon and Beach to Brother marathon and have decided that Beach to Brother is the race I’m going to commit to. Main reason being it is something different to a road marathon in a big city and the second reason is it’s in my home town and I want to support the event.

Beach to Brother is in it’s second year this year and had a successful inaugural event. It has a variety of distances from marathon, half marathon, 10km and 5km which all finish at the the same point on top of North Brother mountain. The marathon starts at Town Beach in Port Macquarie NSW, which is where I live and follows the coastline south where it heads in land slightly before a 2.5km finish up a steep mountain trail. The race is predominantly on beach and trails before heading up a tough finish up the North Brother mountain trail.

I’m looking forward to testing myself with a 3-4 run per week schedule with my three goal runs being hills, intervals and an aerobic long run. If I run a fourth time in any week it will be slow recovery. I’ll be making my training specific with a 14 week preparation with a two week taper at the end. Hills will be important and my long runs will need to be over undulating terrain to prepare for the hills in the race and also incorporate less road and more beach and trail running. The preparation will start on June 19th for this event, leaving me a few weeks of continuing to refresh my mind and body before starting to focus on a race again.

My goal for this race is to break 3:45. I have run this type of time on a similar course at Red Rock to Coffs Jetty and feel that this type of time is achievable. I will need to train well and run my best to achieve this goal.

The other goal for this race is to complete the event in sandals. I am now completely transitioned to running in sandals and have no trouble running distances of this length in them. My training now is 60% Gladsoles trail sandals and 40% Carson Footwear Iguana racers and I aim to continue with this method for the long term. I am very confident that I can run any event just as fast or faster in sandals then closed shoes as I am now conditioned to running in them. The Carson Iguana Racers are the most comfortable pair of shoes I’ve worn let alone run in, I continue to run in these to add variety to my running but mainly because they are so comfortable and fun to run in.

Looking forward to a good result here at Beach to Brother and getting back into focussing on a race.

Some pictures from the Beach to brother Facebook page that show the terrain and beauty of the course.

 

 

Parkrun PB

17884240_1942471315997992_2468653834719907775_nToday was good day for me at my local parkrun, where I ran a PB for the course of 17:27. If you don’t know about parkrun it’s a free, timed 5km event across a few hundred locations in Australia, many more than that in the UK and a number of other countries around the world. Best thing is it’s inclusive and a great community event.

Over the past year and a half I’ve run 18 parkruns, all at my local home event in Port Macquarie and today I lowered my PB from 17:39 which I set just over a year ago to 17:27. Very happy with that because I didn’t expect to run quite that quick. I haven’t done any interval work since my marathon five weeks ago and didn’t expect to still have the pace in me.

One thing I’ve learnt from parkrun and running 5km events is pacing matters for all distances. When I first starting running parkruns I’d go out too hard and struggle over the last 1-2km. today I got my pacing as right as I ever have in a race. The 5km splits were 3:28, 3:33, 3:33, 3:33 and 3:32. Last kilometre I had slowed a little but when i new a PB was on offer I sprinted the last 200m which helped that split. Every time i’ve run a quick 5km has been when me pacing has been consistent. Pacing is possibly more important in shorter distances then longer because there is nowhere to hide if you get it wrong.

Another reason I was happy with todays race is because it was in Gladsoles sandals. It confirms what I already knew in that I can run just as fast in sandals as I can in shoes, maybe faster.

This year I have only managed to get along to three parkruns as I’ve preferred to train longer on the weekends. Earlier in the year I did incorporate a parkrun into a long run and two weeks ago I ran with my daughter and helped her achieve a PB. Today I ran to test myself and see how my fitness has held up after recovering from a marathon and was pleasantly surprised with where I’m at.

If you have a parkrun near you I’d recommend you get along and have a go. It won’t answer all your running questions but it will let you test your fitness and have fun start to the weekend.

 

The best thing barefoot running has done for me.

The debate and studies dedicated to barefoot or minimal running have been done to death in my opinion. That is on both sides of the fence, those trying to convince people that barefoot running will either fix injury concerns or cause others. Barefoot running is not a panacea to solve or injury concerns and when transitioned correctly will offer benefits.

Disclaimer: My opinion is based on personal experience and not on a medical qualification. I certainly don’t profess to be an expert in biomechanics.

The best thing that transitioning to a barefoot or minimal footwear has done for me is improve my foot strength. Better foot strength has given me better mobility and a strong base for every step that is taken when running.

Prior to my transition to minimal footwear I was a typical runner that wore the same footwear every time I needed shoes and was regularly injured. I was prescribed orthotics to heal injuries that I had on my feet and lower legs. I decided to transition to a lighter, more flexible shoe with a much less heel lift and throw away my orthotics after continuing to be injured.

My stubbornness insured that I transitioned far too quickly and suffered calf problems. When I overcome my stubbornness and transitioned correctly. And by correctly I mean slowly I began to see the benefits. The benefits of an improved running form, a forefoot landing and growing foot strength. My running is by no means the finished article and I still work regularly on my running technique, foot landing, eliminating over striding and the strength of my lower limbs.

Better foot strength has given me better running efficiency. I can run with an increased leg turnover and run faster for longer then previously. Normally when a runner injures their knees or their back they will go to physiotherapist or physician and are prescribed strength exercises to strengthen the area that are injured. Often when a runner injures their feet they are prescribed orthotics like I was that don’t allow the feet to heal but immobilise the foot and hinder it’s movement when running. The best thing I ever did for my running was throw away my orthotics.

If you had a bad back and were prescribed a back brace for the rest of your life most people would dispute this diagnosis and look for a better result for themselves. Many people, me included are prescribed orthotics that are to be used for the long term.

I don’t fit into the group that believe that running barefoot has or will eliminate running related injuries. I do believe though that running barefoot has improved my strength in my feet, ankles and calves and this has given me a better chance of staying injury free.

Running in a minimal shoe has given my feet more freedom of movement due to a larger toe box and foot strength has given me more power when trying to run faster. Minimal footwear has allowed my feet to move in their natural state and not be driven by the shoe per say.

Running is about consistency and staying injury free is a key reason why your running can improve and most likely your enjoyment and motivation to run.

Strengthen the feet and strengthen your running.

 

Exploring my surrounds in Gwangmyeong

One of things I love most about travelling is exploring a new surrounding on the run. There really isn’t a better way to see a new place then by running it.

The last three weeks in Seoul I have been exploring the city, mostly the Gwangmyeong region where we are staying whilst over here. The climate in Korea at the moment still has the coldness of winter in the air with the spring colours and flowers wanting to find their way through. I’ve spent a bit of time running around the city area and the pedestrian and cycle paths that line the river. But I’ve had my most fun in Gwangmyeong when I’ve gone off on some trails with little idea of where I’ve been going. Twice I’ve left our apartment with a photo of a tourist map on my phone in search for the Zelkova protected tree and came home without seeing the tree. Once I took a wrong turn and got nowhere near it the second time my strava map says i ran straight past it. None of the signs on the trails in English makes it difficult to take a detour with confidence. Tree sighting or no tree sighting I’ve enjoyed the trails around Gwangmyeong. I’ve still got a few more days left in Korea and I’ll make the most of the running it has to offer.

I’m also looking forward to my familiar running surrounds of home next week when I get back to the beach and the coastal areas near our home. Home is a  vast contrast to the climate and terrains near Seoul but both are equally as fun to run.