Q: What are you doing for your wedding anniversary, Chris...?
A: Going up to Noosa to run a marathon with a mate.
In fairness, I did a bit more than run a marathon over the weekend of 15 May. I ate a significant amount of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, caught a (kind of) tan and got to run with / watch our good friend and fellow coach Michael Harvey compete in the Australian Ultraman event. Epic-ness!
On a serious note, I got so much from this trip, but before I go into that I need you to understand that Ultraman is simply beyond anything I have personally ever done, trained for or wish to do. It is a triathlon, done over 3 days, with the total distances being a 10km swim, 421km bike and 84km run. Yes, you read that right…. So as you can see, my marathon effort kind of gets lost in the midst of all of that epic-ness! That, together with the fact that this was not an event about me, with no official marathon time, no medal, no pacers, no bibs, no kilometer markers and no aid stations, but a monumental triathlon over 3 full days undertaken by only 54 athletes, made this a weird and wonderful experience for me, which I think will be unlike any of the 16 other events I do this year.
In Episode 2 of 'The Go Run Show’, I the had the pleasure of chatting to world class ultra / trail Runner, Kellie Emmerson. Here is a runner that does things for the pure love of the sport. She is a coach, brand ambassador on top of being a world class runner and seems to love the role that she can play in helping people to run better.
I chatted to her about her first fun run, her recent trip to the Trail Running World Championships in Portugal where she represented Australia, her diet, training, coaching and pieces of advice that has received in her career so far. I also discover a great motto that she tends to live by and that she (like me!) is a bit of a foodie with a liking for all things chocolate!
I really hope you enjoy this discussion and that you feel like me by the end, that we are very lucky to be part of a community of runners with supportive and engaging people like Kellie as part of it.
The awesome guys at Nokkon have done a list of 10 things to consider with your running form. This post is number 6 on the list and focuses on one of the least considered areas of running form, I believe, head position.
When we think about running form, head position is often towards the bottom of the list of things we look at, but it is actually very important for our body alignment, as well as our overall attitude.
Head over to the awesome Nokkon website to check out this contribution.
How do you go from a 1hr 53 half marathon to winning marathons and ultras, breaking records and representing Australia at the 100km World Championships? Ask Kirstin Bull....
Kirstin Bull has won the Two Bays Trail Run and Great Ocean Road Marathon multiple times and smashed the Australian 100km record last year. For our FIRST EVER GO RUN PODCAST, I chatted to Kirstin about her running and even reminisce about her first ever half marathon. She chats about her training, coaching, strength and conditioning work, nutrition and her advice for new runners who want to hit the trails or train for ultra distances. We also discuss her wine or beer preferences ;-)
Check it out!
If you are a mum who feels guilty for running, this blog is for you!
"Gen is a former colleague of mine and when we met for coffee, we chatted about her running. She explained how she struggles to find time to run but also, that when she does have the time, she feels horrendously guilty. She is a mum of two young boys and works part time for a health charity. She doesn’t want to leave the kids and feels that she should be taking care of them, entertaining them, doing some work or one of a million other things that are on her mind. The end result? She bought a treadmill for the house, so she didn’t have to leave!"
Read the whole article on the Mouths of Mums website
Almost two weeks ago, someone I have coached for 5 months, Scott (aka Dr. Scott), ran a personal best time of 3 hours 41 minutes in the Gold Coast Marathon. It was his 7th marathon and 4th attempt to PB at the distance after an outstanding first marathon effort back in October 2010. To say I am stoked is a MASSIVE understatement!
Now, running one marathon is impressive. Running seven marathons is really impressive. Running your fastest of all seven, by 73 seconds is super impressive, but none of this comes even close to the real story here….
During the 5 months that Scott and I have been working together on this marathon preparation, Scott has flown over 200,000 kilometers, on 45 separate flights to far flung places like China, Germany, Korea, Brazil, Netherlands, Portugal and more!
That is more than 5 times around the world! All in economy! Whilst marathon training…Craziness!
Have you seen those videos and pictures of Barack Obama playing basketball with friends and college players? I remember looking at them and thinking A. Wow! He’s actually pretty decent and B. How the **** does he find the time to do that?!?!? He’s the President of the United States!! Not only that, but every morning when in Washington, Obama hits the gym between 7:30 and 8:30, alternating cardio days and weights days.* Impressive, right?
This last couple of weeks, I have noticed so many people talking about how little time they have to run. It has brought back memories of a cringe-worthy conversation that I had with a CEO, when I lived in Belgium 6 years ago. I was chatting to the CEO of one of the biggest hospital trusts in England about her running......
I am looking at starting a group specifically for beginner runners in Richmond. It’s where I have lived for the past 4 years and I love running around the streets and parks, along the river and getting to one of the (thousands!) of coffee shops on 'The Island State'.
It has been really interesting chatting to friends and locals about this idea, hearing what they think, what they feared and what they wanted to learn as a beginner runner. These conversations have all shaped the way the group and sessions will look and feel, when we trial it in July this year.
One of the main bits of feedback I have got, is that we always seem to believe that we are going to be the worst or slowest person in the group. In fact, not just the slowest, but WAAAAAAY behind all the rest. One friend even said to me,
“I've never joined a running group before. I'm probably going to be way behind even the slowest person there”
That is a genuine fear that a lot of runners (not just beginners I might add…) have expressed to me. It is also a fear that stops so many people from exploring running as a sport. I have certainly experienced that feeling myself before joining a running group in the UK a few years ago, so I can definitely relate.
Have you ever 'hit the wall' in a race? Not a great feeling is it?
I recently chatted to ExecutiveStyle about late race fatigue and some things to consider when looking to beat the dreaded 'bonk'! Thanks very much to Laura Hill for the interview and write up.
Check it out here.
This week at Go Run we are doing something new! It is a non-stuffy, non-biased (ish) real runners review of the new Garmin Fenix 3, which is a b.e.a.u.t.i.f.u.l watch! See.....
In April, I asked the runners at Go Run a question:
“If you had the opportunity to chat to a professional athlete, what questions would you ask them?”
I had an awesome response, with some great questions. I think as recreational athletes we are often fascinated by the habits and lives of professionals. How many hours do they train? Do they do strength training? Who are their idols? What do they eat? Do they drink alcohol?
It’s not very often you get the opportunity to chat to professional sports people and ask these types of questions, so when Vanessa Murray, a professional Ironman triathlete from New Zealand agreed to sit down at the end of April and chat with me over a juicy burger in Albert Park, I was really excited!
Vanessa is a beginner in the professional Ironman game but has started off with a bang! Last weekend she came 4th pro female in Challenge Taiwan and in early March came 10th pro female at Ironman New Zealand, running a 3:24 marathon in the process. She is coached by Xavier Coppock at TEAM Tri Coaching and lives in Melbourne with her fiancé Shaun.
I chatted to her about her triathlon beginnings, how her running has improved from 2 hour half marathon to 3:24 marathon, and what particular foods she enjoys most after training (a favourite topic of mine!) Thanks for the questions guys, here is our chat….. Enjoy!
Training plans are a hot topic amongst athletes and runners in particular. As a coach I provide personalised training plans for my runners and I also answer my fair share of questions about training plans from friends, family and other runners. In fact, I was asked this seemingly simple question by a beginner runner in an email a couple of weeks ago:
"Do you think I need a training plan?”
She was looking to improve her 5km time over the coming months and was weighing up whether a training plan would work for her. At first this seems like a no-brainer for a running coach to answer. Yes. Simple. But actually it is nowhere near as easy as that. I wish!
Go Run Australia is still young, but even in this first year, I have noticed a few things about who responds best to training plans and who is sometimes better off doing their own thing. I have no problems with either way. I have plenty of close friends who would never dream of getting a running coach and are improving and enjoying their running regardless. For others, with the help of a coach, they have improved beyond what they thought possible and are getting the personal best times that they were after. It is a very individual thing.
One of those people who is continuing to go from strength to strength with the help of a training plan is Sally. When I asked her what she thought of her Go Run training plan, she said,
“Loving it! Structure and routine is great for me and being accountable to someone. I don't have to think or stress about my training plan now!”
For me, as a runner I have personally made greater progress than I thought possible with the help of a coach and a tailored, individual training plan. There is no way I would have been able to complete 2 Ironmans, 2 half Ironmans, get half marathon and marathon PB’s in the last 2 years without it.
So what can I genuinely, honestly advise people who are asking this question,"Do I need a training plan?”
A couple of weeks ago I got an email from a really nice guy living on the outskirts of Melbourne. He was looking for a running coach to help him with his running. We were talking about his goals and training over email and with his permission, I have given you part of the actual email correspondence that we had. Check out his confusion….
"That's one of my problems at the moment, goals! SO MANY OF THEM! So my own training is in disarray. I don't know whether to knock back and hit a 5-6 month patch of Maffetone running. Then there's Matt Fitzgerald banging on about 80/20 running! But on the other hand, we all want to go fast...and I KNOW i'm capable of going sub 3:30 over 42.2 and would LOVE to have a crack at a BQ, but for me thats a 3hr 05 marathon, which, well, yeah, I can't see that happening. Basically, I think I've read way too much and now I have all these ideas in my head, but have no idea what's best for me."
WOW! That’s a lot of goals, a lot of different methods and a lot of confusion to deal with. Trust me, I can really sympathise with this. It was not so long ago that my head was in this exact space. It is a complete nightmare. You don’t know where to turn, who to believe, what method or technique to try, what magazine or blog to read, what race to sign up to. It sucks! The sad thing is that this thought process is actually pretty normal amongst runners and is not exclusive to beginner runners at all.
So where does our confusion stem from?
A few weeks ago when I asked people what the number one challenge for beginner runners was, several people responded with injuries of various types. Amongst the most popular (wrong word, I know!) was the dreaded shin splints. As I promised at the time, I will be following up on your responses and getting opinion and expertise to help us overcome these challenges for beginner runners. So, I asked Sally Maple from Port Melbourne Physio and Pilates to give me some expert advice on shin splints, what they are, why they occur and how we can treat them. Here goes….
So what are shin splints?
It’s probably not a very politically correct thing to say, but yes sometimes you can fall out of love with parkrun. Having done over 100 parkruns, I can very safely say that the vast majority have been hugely enjoyable experiences and I would not trade my Saturday morning jaunt around the lake for much else. I have dressed up, ran with no shoes, come first, come last, plateaued, PB’ed, paced people, raced people and most things between! However, like many parkrunners, there have been times when my motivation has dipped and you sometimes just fall out of love with it for a while. Now, I am not a doctor but I am going to diagnose this as 'hitting a parkrun rut.'
So when this awful ‘rut' strikes, what can you do?!?
Don’t panic, here’s my three tips to get yourself out of a parkrun rut.
A few weeks ago I decided to reach out to the running community and ask a simple question that I needed help answering. I posted the following question on the Go Run Australia Facebook page and could not believe the response that it got.
What is / was your #1 single, biggest challenge when you started running?
Now we’ve all been there as beginners, even some of the fastest runners you know probably began with those awkward, embarrassing first runs / walks and suffered from the same things that we do, but even with that in mind, i did not expect people of all experiences, shapes, sizes, abilities, ages to contribute to this debate. I don’t know what I expected to be honest, but certainly not the detail and emotive comment that I got back. The responses really shocked me in to action and I want to try and address the issues that were raised over the coming weeks and months in my blogs. My hope is that these blogs will be able to help a few people in their own running journey whether they are just getting started, starting again or are seasoned veterans.
Today I am going to address the issue of wanting to go longer, harder and faster every time you run. This topic was prompted by Ruby, who said...
"For me (the number one challenge..) was the idea that I had to go longer and harder and faster every time. As soon as I was fit enough to run for 20 minutes I'd push for 30, then 40 the next week and so on, unsurprisingly I got injured and fatigued and decided that was a sign I just wasn't meant to be a runner."