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.

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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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.

 

 

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Reviewing and planning your new running year

As a new year dawns upon us it’s an opportune time to review the year that was and look ahead to new running goals for the new year.

When reviewing a running year it can be as brief or involved as you like but should focus on a few simple measurements;

  • Did you achieve the goals you set yourself?

If so, what worked well in training and racing that you should continue to do?

If not, what stopped you from achieving your goals?

  • Did you lower your personal bests for any distances you ran?
  • What aspects of your running did you enjoy and not enjoy?

The answers to these questions will give you the framework for your running plans for the New Year.

When setting running goals it is advantageous to look further than just race goals. Races will come and go and milestone performances can be achieved along the way. However, hopefully your running journey has no start or end point. Avoid simply setting goals around races, use each race as a yardstick for your overall running journey and a measurement of your improvement.

After you’ve reviewed your running you will certainly find things that worked well. These may include;

  • Set new personal bests in a number of distances
  • Stayed injury free for the entire year
  • Was able to reach a mileage goal for x amount of months or the entire year

Each of your milestones achieved will point to processes along the way that you committed to that worked well and these you should continue to commit to.

On the flip side you may have not achieved some running goals. If you didn’t improve any of your running results and feel you committed and were disciplined in your training then it may be a time to pivot and adjust your training. First ask yourself if you really committed to the training and were disciplined in your processes, you’ll know if you weren’t. The New Year goal could be simply committing to your training further and being disciplined to achieve.

If you had trouble committing to your training is there other aspects in life that made this difficult. If this is the case an adjustment in your expectations may be necessary. Potentially it’s time to reach out to a coach that can give you a structured approach that can fit the best possible training into the schedule you have available.

When looking at running goals for the new year they should fall into a few categories;

  • Race Goals

You don’t have to have the whole year mapped out but think at least quarter year at a time of races you want to run and goals for these.

Races give you a reason to train and test yourself. Races should challenge you with a time conscious goal of preparing yourself for the race. Your race result is the measurement of success over a period of training.

  • Training Goals

These can be varied and again it may be valuable for a coach to help structure these with you.

Mileage is important and having regular mileage goals are beneficial to keep you on track. It is not necessarily a matter of always increasing mileage but hitting achievable mileage goals and being able to maintain these with some consistency is very valuable.

Varied training that works different muscles and energy systems is also important. Goal could be to commit to weekly hill, interval and long run that builds strength, speed and endurance. These are the most valuable training runs in a runner’s toolbox.

  • Running satisfaction goals

Is your training, racing and running goals keeping you happy, motivated and enjoying your running. If you aren’t motivated to get out the door and run then something isn’t working. Remember it’s supposed to be fun, make sure you get exactly what you need personally from your running.

Whatever you hope to achieve running in the new year best of luck achieving these goals. Above all else enjoy your running.

Running Motivation: Tips for Runners at Every Level

Running Motivation: Tips for Runners at Every Level

You can’t buy motivation. Most runners probably wish they could.

We hit walls. Life can seem to get in the way of running–so having a playbook of motivational techniques is important for runners at every level who are fighting the same battle to log miles.

Running motivation can come in different forms when the finish line isn’t in sight–new running shoes, a new training plan, or even joining a running club. But at its purest, motivation is the human desire to do something; unlocking that desire may be even more difficult than the task itself.

Joshua Sommers finds it within himself–the hedge fund VP is also a triathlete who has competed in over 100 races. When asked what motivates him, he keeps it simple.

“The pursuit of excellence and self-improvement.”Joshua Sommers

We aren’t all like Joshua, but we can learn from him. In this piece, we’ll explore what types of motivational tools different runners can use, and how they can impact your training–and your life outside of running.

Motivation for Beginner Runners

As a new runner, it can be daunting to look at the miles ahead and know the only way to get there is with your own two feet. 

A runner looking over the edge of a cliff

Set a Goal

Begin at the end. Setting a goal provides something a runner can work toward. It can be a number of different things: maybe it’s weight loss, or picking a 5k race, or a certain number of miles a week, or even a half marathon. Whatever that goal is, keep it in mind each time you lace up those sneakers for a jog.

This will also help track progress. Write the goal down and place it somewhere you’ll see it every day, keeping markers of the steps taken to achieve it. After a few weeks, look back at the work accomplished and you’ll be able to see it actualized. See yourself achieving those goals and surpassing them.

Get Social While Holding Yourself Accountable

Incorporating a training partner into your new life as a runner has layered benefits. Finding a running partner will provide an immediate desire to run, even if simply knowing that person is counting on you.

Executing on a training program together, with a shared goal, can increase the level of accountability. Joining a running club or finding a running partner removes the element of choice, the ability to reason with yourself and find ways not to run. Excuses are ever-present, and a good running partner won’t take “no” for an answer.

Even though running is an individual pursuit, clubs and teams are everywhere. Besides the motivational aspect, things like networking and safety and developing a sense of community are all extended benefits of making running social.

A female runner jugging up colorful stairs

Make it Routine

A morning run can ripple positively into the rest of your day. Acute aerobic exercise activates the prefrontal and occipital cortices in the brain, increasing “executive control.” This can help improve cognitive ability and can help control emotion.1 Morning runs can have effects that last into the night, like improving sleep quality.2 And it doesn’t stop there; studies suggest running can have overall health and cognitive benefits, especially later in life.3

Besides the mental and physical benefits, there are less social obligations in the morning. You won’t get stuck at work or be tempted by a happy hour at 6am. Even if you’re not a morning person, you can likely train to become one. Pack all your running gear the night before. Set an alarm and place it across the room, forcing you to skip the snooze button.

Developing a morning running routine provides a nice reset of the body’s clock; it can feel like adding hours to the day. Another benefit? A solid training schedule can positively impact your regular schedule.

Ted Bross is a newly-graduated medical student starting his residency. He has participated in almost 30 ultra marathons, and developing a running habit helped him with medical school.

“Part of what helps me get through several of the mental stressors of medical school is pushing my body physically and relieving that stress. It makes me more of a disciplined athlete and is something that has given me a lot in my life.”Ted Bross

Develop a Training Plan

Checking boxes on a training plan can feel really good. It also answers some of the mental questions runners ask themselves before setting out: Where should I go? How long should I run? What pace am I aiming for? Just look at the running program, where it’s all outlined. Remember to develop your training plan in alignment with those goals you’ve set. And try to incorporate one long run per week.

A comprehensive training plan should incorporate all aspects of your routine. Account for extra pre-run warm-ups and post-run stretches. Add in weekly or monthly goals. Budget some days off. Your training plan doesn’t have to be a bible, but should be a document frequently returned to, and one around which other aspects of life can be considered.

“I train on average for about ten sessions a week, for a total of ten hours a week,” Sommers said. “I’m spending all this time on it, so I want to get the most out of my workouts.”

Use the mind to drive the body forward.

Motivation for Experienced Runners

There’s a fine line between getting into a groove and finding yourself in a rut.

Buy Some New Gear

Sometimes you need to pick low-hanging fruit. Purchasing some new running clothes, like a new pair of running shoes or running shorts, can provide motivation to run and test all that new gear. Depending on what you buy, it may also improve your training (like a fitness tracker).

New gear can also serve as a reward; small goals can be treated as important steps to accomplishing larger goals.

There’s also the “gear guilt.” Shiny new toys should be used instead of sitting in the back of a closet. Some may think using money as a type of running motivation is shallow, but there are few drivers in life like cold hard cash.

Introduce Supplements

So much of success when running comes before (and after) feet hit the pavement. Nutrition should be looked at holistically, because supplements can provide a boost during the run and also help with recovery.

“Especially in the longer races, figuring out nutrition is something most people don’t spend enough time on.”Ted Bross

Pre-run supplements include caffeine for energy, calcium for bone health and even creatine to reduce muscle inflammation. Post-run, focus on protein for muscle recovery and fish oil to reduce muscle soreness.

HVMN Ketone, a ketone ester drink, can be used both as a pre-run supplement and a recovery mechanism. By elevating ketone levels in the blood, HVMN Ketone unlocks a fuel source the body produces naturally, one fundamentally different from carbohydrates or fats. Post-workout, taking HVMN Ketone can expedite the resynthesis of glycogen (by 60%) and protein (by 2x), which enable faster recovery.4,5

Cross Train

Varying training can provide easy motivation to try a new sport–one you know can improve your running–and it’ll also keep you active on days you’re not running. It can also supplement during rehabilitation periods from physical injury, and improve overall physical performance.6

Specifically, cross training can improve VO2 Max capacity (the measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen utilized during intense exercise).6 Swimming and cycling are great choices, but things like yoga can also increase flexibility and balance.7

By introducing strength workouts or cross training into your regimen, motivation can be found in presenting new challenges and accomplishing new goals.

A woman jogging on the beach

Switch Up Locations

Don’t become a running rodent. Running on a treadmill can feel like a hamster on a wheel, just like running the same path multiple times a week can feel Groundhog Day-esque. The essence of running harkens back to being outside, and in a more spiritual sense, connecting with the space in which you’re traversing.

It’s easy to feel invigorated by discovering a new place or hitting a new distance, so trail running or cross country running are always good motivators for the simple fact that they place you out of your element. The simple feeling of dirt under the feet and soaking up the essence of the trail provides an immediate lift and motivation.

We’ve also heard from runners that there’s something special about running in the rain (even if it’s the last thing you want to do). It presents a new challenge, and almost a primal sense of motivation; you’re miles away from home, and the only way to return is to run back. Your heart is pounding, you smell the rain, each wet step is experienced in a totally new way–it’s an hour that can feel different than all the other hours in the day.

Motivation for Advanced Runners

Advanced runners can have the most difficult time finding motivation because running is such a part of their life that it becomes an unquestioned obligation. 

Remember (and Embrace) the Pain and Vulnerability 

Stop and ask yourself: Why do I run? If running has become numbly intrinsic, this question can serve as a reinvigorating reminder to look within and remember why you fell in love with running in the first place.

Because running is hard; it hurts; it requires time; it takes mental fortitude. Some might think this is admitting defeat–but reminding yourself that you’re accomplishing something difficult can inspire you to keep going.

In a physical sense, powerful running comes from your core. So, in essence, you’re running from the gut. There’s something vulnerable about exposing yourself in that way, and showcasing the ability to be broken down (and thus built back up).

It can all come to a head at the end of a race. Ted Bross has been there.

“You share some really special moments. You’re pretty raw emotionally, when you get broken down physically there’s less barrier to connect with people.”Ted Bross

Ditch the Tech (This Includes Music)

Technological tools have forever changed running, giving anyone the opportunity to track pace and miles and calories burned. These also changed training by providing actionable targets to hit and measure performance.

Select one day to run untethered by technology. It can serve as a great way to reconnect with the simple joy of running, ditching the gadgets to escape the metrics. Sometimes you have to operate on feel, and it can be motivating to find that energy within yourself instead of hitting a number on your wrist. Some of your best runs aren’t necessarily your fastest.

Many of us train with music, but that can act as a barrier between you and the world in which you’re running. If you’re participating in a race that doesn’t allow music, it’s especially beneficial to train without tunes and run to the beat of your own pace.

A plate of avocados, hardboiled eggs and strawberries.

Improve Your Diet

Seeing results provides motivation to continue working. The results garnered from eating healthy show themselves in training. While carb-loading has been a staple of many runners’ race day routines, growing evidence suggests that a periodized approach to nutrition is optimal, especially for long distance races. For example, a marathon runner might undertake periods of training with a low-carb, high-fat diet, to boost fat burning followed by maximizing carb fueling for a race.

Exercise after an overnight fast can also increase fat oxidation,8 which can help with weight loss and, when the body gets better at burning fat, it can also help increase endurance.

Taking HVMN Ketone can provide some of the benefits of ketosis without the necessary dieting or extreme fasting.

“My diet isn’t as good as I would like it to be,” admitted Sommers. “But that’s more a function of time and other stress factors, like if I’m traveling or if I don’t have time to cook what I want.”

Even the most elite triathletes struggle to incorporate diet into life.

Trying a new diet can have results both in training and recovery, and noticing the difference provides a motivation to continue pushing your personal best with newfound fuel. But that happens on an even smaller level. Incorporate a new fruit or vegetable into your diet.

Haven’t had Brussel sprouts since your grandma served them boiled? Give them another try (and maybe try roasting them) and fold in more vegetables over the course of your training.

Even for those unwilling to make extreme dietary changes, there are incremental benefits to be had by cutting back on refined sugars, avoiding seed oils and getting plenty of omega 3s.

Enjoy the Small Wins

Advanced runners arrive at a point where they can only improve so much. It’s a point of fear for many–that they’ll plateau, and eventually decline.

So the small wins are important to celebrate. Seconds off your mile pace, or increased weight while strength training or even a feeling of energy after a run–individually these are small, but together they can make a big impact. The world’s elite athletes understand the power in recognizing small successes.

Testing of HVMN Ketone illustrated that athletes go ~2% further in a 30 minute time trial.9That can mean the difference between placing on race day and looking up at the podium, a desire shared by the crop of marathoners and cyclists and NFL teams and world champions in boxing and MMA who are all using HVMN Ketone.

Accomplishing small wins while training provides a motivation to keep achieving them, and the confidence they’ll translate to race day.

Motivation is an Endless Cycle

Remember: motivation comes and goes. But recognizing when you’ve lost motivation is almost as important as getting it back.

The struggle challenges all different levels–from beginner to expert runners. On the running journey, goals will be accomplished, routines will become stale, good habits will wane. This is all part of the process.

Finding the ability to motivate yourself won’t just improve your running. It’ll improve your life overall, and some of these strategies should translate to life off the running road.

Go forth. Run. And maybe find a bit of yourself in the process. \

Give your motivation a boost

Adding supplements or specific training techniques can help power the body through those final miles.

Scientific Citations

1. Lin Li, Wei-Wei Men, Yu-Kai Chang, Ming-Xia Fan, Liu Ji, Gao-Xia Wei. Acute Aerobic Exercise Increases Cortical Activity during Working Memory: A Functional MRI Study in Female College Students. 2014; 9(6): e99222. 10.1371/journal.pone.0099222
2. Kimberly Fairbrother, Ben Cartner, Jessica R Alley, Chelsea D Curry, David L Dickinson, David M Morris, and Scott R Collier. Effects of exercise timing on sleep architecture and nocturnal blood pressure in prehypertensives. Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2014; 10: 691–698. doi: 10.2147/VHRM.S73688
3. Carl W.Cotman, Nicole C.Berchtold. Exercise: a behavioral intervention to enhance brain health and plasticity. Trends in Neurosciences Volume 25, Issue 6, 1 June 2002, Pages 295-301. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0166-2236(02)02143-4
4. Holdsworth, D.A., Cox, P.J., Kirk, T., Stradling, H., Impey, S.G., and Clarke, K. (2017). A Ketone Ester Drink Increases Postexercise Muscle Glycogen Synthesis in Humans. Med Sci Sports Exerc.
Authored by Nate Martins •
October 6, 2018

Why not take a planned break from running?

For most keen runners the idea of taking a planned break from running is hard to swallow. All the fitness they’ve worked hard to develop will go and they’ll be lazy and unfit. Usually injury is the only reason a keen runner would even think about a break from running, but it may not be such a bad idea.

So your coming to the end of the racing season, there’s no goal race on the immediate horizon. You’re either satisfied with the results you’ve produced or not satisfied. So whats next? You can either keep training in the interests of keeping your fitness, ease your training back and try and maintain a fitness level you are happy with. Or just stop for a few weeks and focus on other things in your life. At times you’ll get to this point in your racing year and lack motivation to continue training. Is it time for a break?

Four good reasons to take a break

  1. You have a niggling injury
  2. Your motivation to train has decreased
  3. You race times have stagnated or gone backwards
  4. Running feels difficult

The easiest reason to decide to take a break from running is if you have a niggling injury. If you don’t have a race on the horizon then taking time to take a break can help you rest and recover the body and come back rejuvenated. Long periods of consistent running takes its toll on the body and minor niggling injuries can be easily overcome with a period of rest. There may be nothing to be gained by continuing to train.

If you’ve finished your racing season and your motivation has decreased taking a break is very worthwhile. Again there is nothing to be gained by pushing yourself through training when you aren’t motivated to run. Taking a break can rejuvenate the mind as much as the body. Enjoy other aspects of your life  during the break that may be sacrificed through daily running habits.

If your race times have stagnated or even gone backwards continuing to train through without an immediate goal can also be deflating. If your race times haven’t improved you may need to look at your training schedule and make adjustments for your next goal. Taking a break from running can allow you to reset and assess whats working or not working in your training. It might be a time when you decide you need a coach and reach out to one for help. A few weeks break from running may also spark your motivation to get back into training and right the wrongs of your recent results.

If running feels difficult and each run doesn’t come easy, it could be time for a break from running. Often this happens after long races where you’ve fatigued yourself physically and mentally and haven’t recovered yet. If running feels difficult and there isn’t an immediate goal, theres nothing to gain from pushing through. Slow down and take a break.

When you take a break from running you can go one of two ways. You can retreat completely from running or you can use the time to start to plan your next goal races and plan your next phase of running. You’ll likely need to find an outlet in your life where running has now left. The goal is to enjoy the break so finding something outside running you enjoy or gaining motivation through planning new goals is important.

When you take a break from running you should remember you will lose fitness. But if you’ve gained it once then it will be easier to gain the next time. If you are an experienced runner the fitness will come back relatively quickly. A good rule is for each week you break it will take two weeks to regain the fitness lost. If you are planning your next races during your break from running you should factor this into how far into the future you plan these races.

Taking a planned break from running is a scary thought for some runners. If running gives you joy in your life then the goal should be to run for a lifetime. Taking a break from running in the short term may just help keep you running further, faster and happier in the long term.

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What comes next after a marathon?

You’ve run your marathon and everything went well (or didn’t), your left with that feeling of personal accomplishment but also an empty feeling of what comes next. Almost every runner feels some emotions when the marathon is over and there is no more marathon training to get after.

The feeling can be rather empty, you’ve climbed your own Mt Everest on marathon day only to find that the next day it’s not there and you need to start again. It’s a strange feeling and many runners struggle to cope with the post marathon blues which can easily lead to motivational issues that last for weeks or months.

Recovery from a marathon is important and you should take a few weeks post marathon to ensure  you recover fully. This should include only easy running for at least a few weeks before starting building mileage again. While you are recovering is a good time to look to the future and start thinking and planning about what comes next.

Three tips on planning what comes next.

Another marathon

Depending on whether you achieved your goals in your marathon may impact what you plan for your next race. If you missed your goals for the marathon, especially if you came very close it is easy to stay motivated and start planning for another marathon to claim redemption. These days there are plenty of marathons to choose from so it’s quite easy to find another marathon to run.

Once you’ve decided on which marathon it is reflect on how your preparation went and what you could have improved last time. The aim is to improve from your last race so take the experience you learnt from the previous marathon and take it to the next marathon preparation.

If you achieved your goals in your last marathon, think about what you want to achieve in the next marathon and how you alter your approach to be even better next time.

Pick some shorter races

Sometimes the hard work of preparing for a marathon can lead us drained and getting straight back onto that horse may not be the best idea. Picking some shorter races can be a good idea to keep training towards without the volume of marathon training to overwhelm you.

If you run some 5km, 10km or half marathon races you’ll be able to recover from them much quicker and may be able to string a few races together to keep racing and stay motivated to train. These distance are also great to travel to without a large race taking your focus for the entire weekend. Running shorter races can be great to keep you focussed on running faster and improving your running.

Go Ultra

Maybe now is the time to go ‘Ultra’. With the recent boom in trail ultra marathons its easy to think it’s time to hit the trails and go longer. In most countries now there is an abundance of 50km, 100km or 100 mile events to choose from and whatever distance you choose will give you a much different challenge to a road marathon.

Ultra marathons can take you well outside your comfort zone so if this is what you need post marathon then this could be the goal for you. Running on trails is fun and being far away from the urban lifestyle and out in nature certainly has its appeal.

Taking on a longer distance will require the same commitment to marathon running and these days are just as accessible. Going ultra may just be what you need to get back on track.

Whatever you choose to do post marathon it’s important to enjoy the moment and celebrate a marathon finish. US statistics say 0.5% of the population will run a marathon in their life, it is a big achievement. Remember this before you go and chase your next goal.

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What is your Kipchoge easy pace?

While most of us will never be able run like Eliud Kipchoge, understanding his training may help us become better runners in our own right.

A full month of Eliud Kipchoge’s training in the lead up to the Berlin Marathon was recently published, you can find it here.  Kipchoge follows a very simple structure to his training, he runs seven days a week and doubles on five of these days giving himself two afternoon rests. Each week he runs three distinct workouts being his interval track session, long tempo run and fartlek session. The remainder and the majority of his running is described as easy or moderate running and in these sessions Kipchoge runs well within himself to recover and build an aerobic foundation.

So how fast does the fastest marathoner of all time go on an easy day? Well as it turns out not that fast. Kipchoge often runs a 10km easy run in 40 min or at 4 min/km pace. This is really easy for a guy whose marathon pace is 2:55 min/km.

So what can the average runner learn from Kipchoge’s day pace? Average runners of all abilities and experience levels often run their easy runs too fast. What this does is not assist recovery and they spend too much time fatigued and not absorb training load and improve.

So what is your Kipchoge easy pace?

Relative to his marathon pace Kipchoge’s easy pace is 27% slower than his marathon pace.

Runner                                            Marathon Pace               Easy Pace

Kipchoge                                       2:55 min/km                 4 min/km

2 hour 30 min marathon               3:33 min/km                 4:30 min/km

3 hour marathon                            4:16 min/km                 5:25 min/km

3 hour 30 min marathon               4:59 min/km                 6:19 min/km

4 hour marathon                            5:41 min/km                  7:13 min/km

4 hour 30 marathon                      6:24 min/km                  8:17 min/km

Kipchoge runs his five weekly afternoon easy runs at this pace and four times a week his aerobic runs are at a similar pace but for distances between 17 – 22km. For him this pace is very easy, just as the paces for your goal marathon above will look very easy.

If you are running your easy days too quick you’ll likely not run your harder workouts as effectively as they could be. Slowing down on your easy days will let you absorb training and let it take effect.

Run like Kipchoge and run slower.

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Beach to Brother Marathon 2018 – Race Report

My decision to enter the Beach to Brother marathon came soon after competing in the 2017 race. I was disappointed with my effort in last year’s race and how I raced contributed to some real suffering over the last 10km.

My training for this year’s event was mostly trouble free, in this preparation I slightly increased my mileage from recent marathons and was able to put together a good block of training. I was confident going to the race that I’d be able to put together a good race due to this training. Much of my training had been on the course as the race is held in my home town of Port Macquarie, Australia. I decided to run this race in Gladsoles trail sandals, which I had used in last year’s race and was very happy with running in them on this course.

Beach to Brother marathon is such a unique race and has many variables that mother nature can decide to contribute to its difficulty. Last year it was extreme heat that made the race very difficult, this year the weather report looked favourable for good conditions reporting mild temperatures.

Race morning started with those mild temperatures and fine conditions that were welcomed by all at the start line. My goal this year was to break four hours and my tactic to achieve this was to run patiently throughout and run my own race regardless of where my position in the race was.

I started with this in the forefront of my mind and ran the first kilometre in a small lead group of 5-6 runners. After the short climb up to the top of Flynns Beach I took the lead of the group and rolled through the flat and downhill section onto Flynns Beach. I was a little surprised when only one runner came with me to this point and we had about 100m lead by the time on the sand. The other runner was another local runner and friend of mine Clifford Hoeft. Cliff and I ran the next section to Lighthouse Beach mostly together, on most of the uphill trail sections I pulled away as I envisage Cliff took these relatively conservatively and I did the same on the downhill sections and was easily caught. We reached the Tacking Point Lighthouse together with a good lead over the rest of the field.

The section along Lighthouse beach to Lake Cathie is a long 10km stretch of beach with a detour mid-way down the beach into a nearby trail before going back onto the sand for the remaining 5-6km. I gained a short lead at the lighthouse Beach aid station as I didn’t need to fill my flask. This section was nice running with relatively hard sand despite an incoming tide and a light southerly headwind to run into. Exiting the beach to the trail onto a nice gravel road and both myself and Cliff picked up the pace along here and rolled through this section to the aid station before going back onto the beach, I filled my water flask and was back on the sand just behind.

By the time we had come back to the sand the wind strength had increased and running into this section was more challenging. I decided to focus on my own running, and be patient running into the wind. The incoming tide was starting to make the sand softer and by the coffee rock section before Lake Cathie there were a few sections where I got wet with waves crashing against the rocks or needed to go rock hopping over the coffee rock section. In this section of the race I had put some space between myself and Cliff and I exited the beach at Lake Cathie with a few hundred metre lead.

A short trail section around Lake Cathie and I felt great going back onto the beach for the section to Bonny Hills. By this stage the wind was quite strong and the tide had made an initial coffee rock section of about 500m unpassable without rock hopping over. I had expected this section and was prepared for the coffee rock, running in sandals makes this section slightly more challenging as it is easy to catch a toe or roll an ankle. It was on this section I slightly rolled my right ankle and fell onto my knee, while only a small fall I got up with some pain in my right knee. The rest of this section is beach and into the now strong head wind was tough running, I exited the beach at Bonny Hills still in the lead and feeling good.

From Bonny Hills there is a section of both up and downhill grass and trail over Grants Headland. My knee by this stage was quite sore and all the downhill sections aggravated it more, I was still running quite well albeit in some pain. On the very tight single trail over Grant’s Head I was caught behind some half marathon runners and unable to pass, at this stage Cliff caught me. The trail between Grant Head and North Haven Surf Club was relatively uneventful as we ran together and both ran relatively conservatively. Reaching North Haven with 10km to go I stopped for water briefly before heading off for the last 7.5km before the 2.5km summit to North Brother Mountain. It was at this stage when Cliff accelerated ahead of me on the breakwall and I didn’t have the legs to go with him. I made the decision to run my own race knowing that the finish to this race is as tough as they get.

At this stage of the race the marathon distance was certainly starting to hurt and by the aid station with 5km to go I was feeling okay but my pace had slowed. From here it is mostly uphill until the base of the mountain and I had lost confidence that I was going to compete for the win. Cliff had run off looking very strong and I concentrating on surviving to the mountain and then doing what I can to get up. My goal of a sub 4 hour finish was still looking good.

The last 2.5km of this race has over 500m of elevation up a single trail, mostly stairs leading up the North Brother Mountain. Very soon into this climb I was aware that I didn’t have much if anything left and it was real test of my mental will just to get up the climb. With about 1.5km to go I was passed by another marathon runner. He was climbing the mountain very strongly and there was nothing I could do when he went past other than congratulate him.

Close to the top after taking a left hand turn the trail flattens out and there are a few runable sections mixed with further climbing. I tried to run these sections and hold onto my sub 4 hour goal but when I did both my calves started to cramp. I decided to power hike these sections and do the best I could. By this stage you can see the top of the trees and start to hear the crowd as the top is not far away. I was able to break into a run as I got near the finish and crossed the line in third place in 4:01:19. Just shy of my 4 hour goal but satisfied with a third place.

Big congratulations to Clifford Hoeft for winning this race, he raced a great race and was the strongest runner on the course today. Very happy to see him to be the first winner of this marathon local to our area.

With 24 hours of reflection I am happy with my race. I left everything I had on that course and can honestly say there is nothing more I could have done on the day. If I had my time again I would have raced the same way and gave myself a chance to achieve my goals.

 

The difficulty of this race was again magnified by the conditions, the wind and tide made the beach sections really tough and this contributed to the remainder of the race as it sapped energy from you that was really required for the brutal hill at the end. One of the beauties of this race is the mystery that the weather can create and how the coastal conditions change so much with the conditions. We may be waiting years before this race has conditions that will make it easier, it will be a different challenge every year..

This race is a must do NSW coastal trail race. It is super well organised and such a beautiful coastal course. The views over the coast from some of the spots on course are some of the best in the country, not to forget the amazing scenery on top of North Brother Mountain. It’s a race that gives me everything I love about competing in marathons, a tough challenging course, beautiful scenery and fantastic on course atmosphere.

Personally, I really want a sub four hour finish on this course, I certainly believe I am a good enough runner to achieve this and will undoubtedly be back from another crack at it next year.

 

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