Runners: Stop getting tired

 

“Distance runners don’t need to get faster, they just need to stop getting tired” – Matt Fitzgerald

When most runners think about improving their performance over any race distance they think about how to get faster. What we really should be thinking is how do I stop getting tired during races. This thinking and Matt Fitzgerald’s quote is synonymous with the way elite runners approach their training. It is mostly not about becoming a faster runner, it is about getting through an event reducing the effects of fatigue on your running performance.

Most runners suffer nerves or anxiety before a race, however not usually nerves at whether we can run the desired pace. Nerves before a running performance are often directed at the pain and suffering that runners go through as muscle fatigue sets in. It is not the speed we are running that is the problem, it is being able to keep running that speed as we tire that runners need to improve.

Your goal pace in the marathon for instance is not that fast for you. However it is extremely difficult and painful to continue at that pace at mile 24. The only difference is you are physically and mentally fatigued.

How can you stop getting tired?

If you want to be able to perform at your best practise makes perfect. If you want to improve your running, run more. Simple advice,  but there really is no shortcut to improvement.

  • Consistent long runs

If you want to give yourself the best chance at running well as you fatigue then consistent long runs are essential. Legendary running coach Arthur Lydiard used to have his 800m and mile runners complete 20 mile long runs every Sunday. These were completed at an aerobic pace and designed to have the runner build endurance. Elite 800m runners are no different to elite marathon runners in that they don’t need to become faster, they need to stop getting tired when they hit the home straight in a fast run 800m race. Quite simply, if you want to minimise the effects of fatigue during the business end of your next race you should be running an aerobic long run weekly.

  • Aerobic mileage

Aerobic mileage means running at a pace that builds the aerobic capacity, this means low intensity, low heart rate running. If you want to improve your running, run more at an aerobic mileage. It is not the weekly interval session that will make you tire less but the repeated aerobic mileage. Increasing your aerobic mileage and sustaining this over a period of time will give incremental improvements. These will be difficult to see in the short term but over time the improvements will be able to be measured. If you need to skip a workout for whatever reason it’s better to skip the interval session and run the aerobic session. Remember, you don’t need to get faster, you need to stop getting tired.

These are two simple ways you can train your body and mind to make a small change in your running training. Almost every one of us has been guilty at some stage of running our easy runs too hard, shifting your mindset to believe you don’t need to get faster can change this habit. If you run your easy runs at a lower intensity you will recover quicker and be ready and motivated for the next run allowing you to run more often.

When you go into a race knowing you’ve done enough training you will be better equipped to deal with everything a race throws at you when you get tired. You may not ever become a faster runner, you don’t need to, just stop getting tired.

 

 


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Running hills, Yes please

Running hills regularly is one sure fire way to improve your marathon result and almost all aspects of your running performance. Regular hill workouts will give you gains in strength, speed, endurance and injury prevention. Every runner will benefit from running hills no matter whether you started running last week or are a seasoned veteran.

Hills are a member of the three key sessions we recommend runners run each week. If you want to be a self coached runner and keep your training cycle simple, run a focused hill, interval and a long run each week mixed with aerobic recovery runs.

Whilst most marathons are run on flat courses designed to offer runners a chance at a fast time, the benefits from regular hills give you the chance to improve even further.

Hill Workouts

We are here to talk about hills today and why they should be a regular part of your training schedule. There are many ways to add hill running specifics into your runs but three simple and easy to additions are;

  • Hill sprints – Short explosive effort uphill followed by a downhill walk recovery. These are usually 10-15 second efforts and can be included at the end of an aerobic run.
  • Hill repeats – Run the hill with a focus on a medium hard effort followed by a recovery run down the hill. Varying the length, gradient and number of repeats can add variety to this session.
  • Hilly Tempo runs – Choose a hilly terrain and run a focussed tempo session over a hilly terrain for 45-60 minutes. To aide recovery during the run you can run the uphills harder then the downhills.

Running hills regularly builds leg strength specific to running which helps every aspect of your running. This gives you benefits of speed and endurance that are vital to improving your performance over every distance. Being stronger gives you a better chance to avoid injury.

If you are training for an upcoming marathon you should be running a hill repeat or hilly tempo at least weekly, particularly in the early phase of the training when you are building strength and your aerobic base fitness. Later in your program you may want to run sessions more specific to your goal race, but for at least the first eight weeks hills should be a weekly part of your life.

If you want to make hills part of your training schedule commit one day each week for hills. If you are new to hills start with hill sprints at the end of a run. When you feel ready add a more challenging specific hill session to your week, to start pick an easier hill for repeats before moving to steeper or longer hills. This session may just become your favourite session of the week.

 


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Stop planning your rest days

 

Most runners would agree that rest days are a valuable part of the training process as they are allow you time to recover from the stress that running causes on your body and mind. The frequency that rest days are used will vary between runner’s ability and experience. Elite runners may rarely take a rest day whereas a beginner runner may need 2-3 each week.

How you structure your running can be beneficial to get the best out of the training. For that reason we recommend to stop planning rest days into your training schedule. For most runners rest days are needed but every runner’s life is different and things can happen that stop you running. When this happens, take a rest day.

Planning to run every day and resting when feel you need to is a better plan. If you have pressures from work or family life that get in the way of running then take a rest day. If you start to feel a niggling injury and feel you need a day off, take a rest day.

Advantages to not planning rest days

  • More flexibility for when you run
  • Less pressure to run when you can’t
  • Less likely to run through pain
  • You’ll run more miles and improve

Quite simply things can get in the way of running and when they do you can take a rest day. When rest days are unplanned you have more flexibility around when you get out the door to run.

When your rest days are unplanned you have the ability to look after yourself when a niggling injury happens. Take a rest day get the body right and run again the day after. For this reason you’ll be less likely to run through pain and do further injury to yourself.

What culminates from an unplanned approach is you are able to run with more regularity and when you run you are motivated to run. When rest days are planned your structure is rigid and you can’t afford to take a rest day when the need arises. Keep them unplanned and you’ll run more and be more motivated on the times you run. This will help you run more mileage in the long term and this will improve you as a runner.

The most effective way to structure your weekly training is to plan days for your three key sessions   – these being your long run, interval session and hill repeats. These should be planned for days that give you the best chance to complete them, if things get in the way then being flexible and changing them is fine. Try not to run these sessions on consecutive days though. The remainder of the week will be scheduled for aerobic or recovery running and when a rest day is needed take it and adjust the week accordingly.

An unplanned rest approach takes the pressure off you to get out the door when time constraints, life or injury gets in the way. After all it’s supposed to be fun. Enjoy your running


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3 Tips to improving your running performance

When looking to improve your running performance small changes can make a big difference. Here are three well tried tips to improve your running performance before your next race goal.

Mileage Matters

If you want to improve running one of the easiest things to do is increase mileage. Being able to run further in a race preparation will give you great benefits. This does not mean you need to run more hard sessions and the recommendation is to avoid these. Running more should be more running at an aerobic pace to build your aerobic capacity.

A few ways you can increase your mileage are;

Increase your easy runs by 5 – 10 min. If you run four easy runs per week this may mean you add 5-10km to your weekly mileage which doesn’t sound a lot but over a 16 week marathon preparation this could add 160km of aerobic building running to your fitness. Can be as easy as getting up 10 min earlier or not looking at your smartphone notifications that you’ve accumulated overnight until after your run and get out the door running earlier

Run an extra day a week or run twice a day. If you currently four days a week add a day and run five. If you have an opportunity in your schedule to at times run twice in a day, go for it. These extra miles you’ve run will be valuable when they add up. Only do these if you have the time in your schedule though, there is no need to force yourself out the door. It’s supposed to be fun and if it’s not then use the time to rest more

If you can use any of these ways to give yourself a small increase in your weekly miles they will help you over the long term.

 

Get Stronger

The pace required to run a 3 hour marathon is not difficult, for most runners the pace of 6:52 min/mile is a fast jog and easily manageable. What is very difficult though is running this pace for 26.2 miles and it takes strength to do this. Being able to run at a fast perceived pace when the body fatigues is what makes running difficult.

Building strength so that the body can perform at a high level through fatigue is often neglected yet vitally important. To improve strength we suggest a weekly hill repeats session and a strength program of both body weight and explosive weighted exercises.

Hill repeats are part of our recommended three key sessions that every runner should do weekly to build strength. Trying to run these on the same day each week will build them into a habit, that when repeated will become a part of your routine. Be ready to change up from time to time when life gets in the way. To get the best results this should be a hard session so do them when the body is well rested and ready to be stressed.

In terms of strength programs its best advised to consult a personal trainer in your area to recommend a strength program for you that incorporates running specific weight training and ensure you use the right technique to perform these exercises. A strength routine of 1-2 times a week should give you a great benefit to your running.

Correct training paces.

Speed work or interval sessions are supposed to be difficult. They are meant to challenge you so be prepared to run them hard.

Whether you aim to hit a certain pace or use perceived effort as a measure of intensity is up to you but be prepared for them to challenge you. If you intend to hit a pace use an online calculator to give you the correct paces to hit and go after them. These are designed to build speed, so they need to be specific to your ability and run accordingly.

Running interval sessions based on perceived effort will allow these to be purely individual but you’ll need to be honest with yourself when applying this effort. Be prepared to work hard and give your best effort.

Running these regularly will build speed and the ability to run a faster pace then comfortable when fatigued. Training at the correct pace for you gives you the best way to improve your speed quicker.

Until next time. Run well

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Marathon Training – Week 8

Another good week of marathon training. The run is going well with six runs this week and just over 80km covered. Unfortunately the swim and bike components have not gone well and today I have made the decision to not progress with training for the Ironman 70.3 in May. Whilst I am disappointed I haven’t been able to put it together and get my triathlon training on track it gives me time to focus purely on running a good marathon in Canberra. I may revisit my triathlon goals at a time in the near future when a marathon isn’t in the midst and requiring my focus.

Running this week started on Tuesday with my usual hill session. Hills went well and half way through this preparation I can feel the strength needed for a good marathon returning nicely. Wednesday was a 10km aerobic run that helped the legs recover and be ready for intervals on Thursday. I had a real purpose with intervals this week of 20 x 1 min with 1 min rest to keep every interval under 3:30 min/km. I failed on two of these intervals and stupidly one of them was the first, the other was the last which I can cop because I was spent after this session. All the other intervals were run between 3:20 and 3:30 min/km.

Friday was another aerobic run, this time only 7km. I knew I had a tough long run planned so ticking the legs over was the purpose of this run. Long run on Saturday had a purpose of 5km aerobic then 5km at my threshold pace of 4:10 min/km x 3. Meaning every 45 min contained a 5km effort with a 3km warm down afterwards to give me 2 hours 30 min overall. Really happy with this run, the efforts felt hard, particularly the 3rd but I was able to hold the pace and finish the session feeling confident. I rounded out the week with an 11km aerobic run on Sunday over grass. The grass was nice on the legs and a good way to finish my biggest week of the year so far.

Getting through my three key runs every week is a goal for every preparation of mine. I continue to believe that developing speed, strength and endurance is the best way to run best on race day. This week i was happy with all three of my key sessions and how my running has progressed in the seven weeks of this marathon preparation so far.

Week 8

With triathlon off my mind it’s now purely focussing on running and this marathon. Working hard over the next 5-6 weeks before tearing for the race.

Monday – Aerobic – 1 Hour

Tuesday – Hills – 1 Hour

Wednesday – Aerobic – 1 Hour

Thursday – Rest Day

Friday – Long Run – 2 Hours 40 min (Aerobic)

Saturday – Aerobic – 45-60 min

Sunday – Intervals – 14 x 2 min with 1 min recovery

 

I have also decided to compete in the Port Macquarie Running Festival half marathon, March 11th, just two weeks away. Looking forward to a solid week of training before a race that will test my fitness. Aim of this race will be to stick to a consistent pace, quicker than marathon pace and try and hold this pace of the duration. There will be no taper for this race, it will be a good test of my current fitness deep into marathon training.

I’ll also run this race in Gladsoles sandals, most likely the trail 8mm model. Looking forward to testing my speed over 21.1km in sandals. I haven’t raced a pure half marathon for a while and I haven’t decided yet whether Canberra marathon will be in sandals or shoes. This half may make the decision for me.

Looking forward to another week of marathon training. Feeling like my fitness is coming together.

Run well.

 

Four discoveries from a 30 day run streak

This morning I completed my 30 day run streak and during this time I made some discoveries about my running. Here they are…..

  1. Aerobic training is beneficial

At the start of the run streak I decided that all my running in these 30 days would be aerobic and I would forget about pace. On the whole I was able to manage this only running twice outside my aerobic capacity. This was a parkrun effort and last weeks goal race pace half marathon run.

Running purely aerobically for the majority of the 30 days has seen me develop my aerobic capacity. Running aerobically often is easy on the body and recovery is simple, when you run within your limits there is no soreness the next day and you are able to run more. Following this when I did increase the intensity and complete a tougher workout, my half marathon felt very comfortable. Building the aerobic engine is very beneficial for running performance.

The take away from this discovery is that during my next focussed training block I will have more aerobic training to compliment the focussed harder workouts.

   2. Technology is unnecessary (almost)

Another goal of this run streak was to divorce pace and use perceived effort to measure my run rather achieve a pace for the run. This has been a successful discovery where I am now unconcerned by the pace my watch is saying and rather the feeling my body gives me from the effort I output.

During each of the runs I have only looked at the time for the run on the watch and not pace. This has taught me to focus on my feeling and breathing to stay aerobic and run consistent pace through effort. During the harder half marathon effort the same applied and I was impressed by the consistent pace I was able to achieve.

The future of my running will feature less reliance on technology, I am committed to continuing to monitor my running by feel and use the data to analyse post run.

3. Running everyday is good for you

While I am normally an advocate for rest days, life balance and letting the body recover from runs I found the task of running everyday good for me. All my runs are completed in the early mornings and the simple task of committing to getting up each morning and going through the process to get out the door and run was mostly pretty easy.

During the 30 day streak I had wet weather on 5-6 of my runs, only one of these days did I consider not running through the rain, however this doubt lasted about 15 minutes before I decided to get the job done.

I enjoyed the day to day commitment of getting out the door to complete my run. Committing to a run streak is a way to challenge you to overcome a small challenge everyday and start the day ready to tackle something bigger if it arises.

4. Minimal footwear is better

This may have not been a discovery but more a reinforcement. Every run I did with the exception of one run were completed in zero drop footwear. these specifically were Gladsoles sandals both the trail 8mm and new 6mm and Carson Footwear Iguana Racers.

If you are fully transitioned to barefoot running then minimal footwear is better for your running. After 4-5 days of the run streak I had a slight pain in my right calf that was evident for a few runs, this went away by itself and I was able to run without pain for the  all the other runs. Minimal footwear keeps you aware, your feet stronger and running with better technique. To run injury free for long periods of time these are important. Without trying to jinx myself to an injury I believe the benefits of transitioning to minimal shoes will help me run longer into my life.

Don’t be scared to make a change to your footwear if you are on a path of consistent injuries. It will take time but it will be worth it.

Overall the run streak has been an enjoyable experience and most likely will continue beyond 30 days. My routine of running every morning is a habit I would like to continue.

Photos from a 30 day run streak

 

Marathon training week 9

After 12 days of no running due to the flu training resumed last week and all my goal runs were completed. The main two being my 5km parkrun on Saturday and a long run on Sunday.

Parkrun on Saturday was run in 19:23 about 2 min outside my best, however I was more than happy to get through the run. Sunday I managed 1:30 along th breach at 4:45 min/km which was nice for the confidence.

This week normally programming resumes with a simple routine.

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – Hill repeats

Wednesday – Strength

Thursday – Rest

Friday – Long run (2 hour 30 min)

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – Intervals (8 x 4 min 90 sec recovery)

Hoping to fast track training to be back on track towards the marathon. Will need to ramp up my long runs quickly over the next 3-4 weeks.

If I get through this week I’ll be confident I can get back to peak fitness by the marathon start day. Looking forward to testing myself anyway.

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.

Marathon training week 3

Sometimes when training for a race things don’t go to plan, this week was one of those weeks. I had laid out plans to succeed and life got in the way and I altered course.

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I had planned a short family trip planned to the Hunter Valley on Monday and Tuesday and managed to get in a run whilst there, albeit in very cold conditions and only short 6km aerobic effort.  I woke up on Wednesday pre 5am after a long travel evening the night before to torrential rain and decided against running. I got through Wednesdays planned hill session on Thursday instead albeit cutting the run slightly short when torrential rain bucketed on me. An 8km aerobic run on Friday and then Saturday I went to my local park run with the intention of a mid paced effort and after 500m decided I wanted to race. I moved through the field from 10th to finish 2nd in 18:20 and enjoyed the run. In the afternoon on Saturday I had some spare time to kill so i decided to go for a run and add to my park run and warm up and have a long run day over two runs. I ran 14km over an undulating terrain which was good but too close to lunch.

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Running in the Hunter Valley – 2C was a cold start.

Overall I didn’t do my planned interval session and not properly completed my long run. We move on, sometimes things don’t go to plan and you accept it and move on.

Week 3 plan

Monday – Aerobic run

Tuesday – Hills

Wednesday – Strength session

Thursday – Rest

Friday – Long Run (2 hour 20 min)

Saturday – Aerobic recovery run

Sunday – Intervals 8 x 800m

Hoping to get through each work out and will attempt to fit in the extra interval run over the next couple of weeks. Very mindful not to push too hard and ensure that I am more than adequately rested. Over the course of a 14 week marathon preparation one interval session missed won’t make a shred of difference, so I am certainly not worried about my lack of progression this week.

One of the great things that happened this week was my new sandals arrived. These are the Gladsoles trails with a new denser sole than the previous model that I have. I have ran 22km in these sandals so far and they are a slightly different feeling to the previous model. The denser sole is slightly less flexible than previous however gives a bit better ground protection with still fantastic ground feel. The custom make from the tracings I sent is perfect and couldn’t fit my foot better. One thing with sandals is it takes a few runs to get the lacing perfect, my first run I had them too tight, my second run which was my 18:20 5km park run I had them slightly too loose and thought the heel strap was going to slide off on one of my feet in the last kilometre. It didn’t fall off but I need to make them a little tighter for my next run. These are the sandals that I’ll be running my next marathon in, by September they will be ready to roll though and have 300-400 training kilometres in them.

 

Looking forward to getting back on track in week 3. Most important thing is to commit to the process however make sure running is enjoyable.

 

 

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