How to run a marathon PB, even when you fly 200,000km, in 45 flights, in economy!

How to run a marathon PB, even when you fly 200,000km, in 45 flights, in economy!

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!

WHY does Barack Obama find time for basketball??

WHY does Barack Obama find time for basketball??

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've never joined a running group before. I'm probably going to be way behind even the slowest person there”

“I've never joined a running group before.  I'm probably going to be way behind even the slowest person there”

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.

How to stop runners 'bonking', or hitting the wall

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.

What would you ask a professional athlete?

What would you ask a professional athlete?

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!

"Do you think I need a training plan?"

"Do you think I need a training plan?"

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?”  

Why are we so confused and frustrated with our running?

Why are we so confused and frustrated with our running?

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?

Are my shin splints frustrating? "**** yes!!"

Are my shin splints frustrating?  "**** yes!!"

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?

“I’ve fallen out of love with it” - What to do when you hit a parkrun rut.

“I’ve fallen out of love with it” - What to do when you hit a parkrun rut.

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.

 

"I had to go longer and harder and faster every time"

"I had to go longer and harder and faster every time"

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." 

"Just trust the process"

We all question our training at one point or another.  As a coach, one of my roles is to make sure that runners can look back on their training, be proud, see progress and gain confidence from it.  One of my favourite phrases in this regard is, 

"Just trust the process" 

In this interview I chat to Sally who recently ran a half marathon personal best time, knocking 4 minutes off her previous time.  She talks about how we managed her injury concerns, how she found it difficult to run slowly in her training runs at first and she talks us through what it feels like when you know your time is going to be a good one!  I love Sally's story.  To me, she is a great runner and a pleasure to work with because she learns, adapts and isn't scared of a challenge!  Enjoy!

Are you ready to run? If the answer is "YES!" then sign up here for your own running coach and personalised monthly training plan to get you running stronger, longer and faster.  I will get in touch straight away and we can begin working on getting your running to where you really want it to be!

"But I don’t look like a runner"

"But I don’t look like a runner"

I hear this phrase quite a lot, particularly from those who are relatively new to running or lacking a bit of confidence.  It is usually said in the same sentence as “but I’m not a runner.”  This (as you are about to find out) frustrates me!  I believe that if you run, you are a runner, you can be a good runner and you should think of yourself as one, no matter what your shape or size.

I think part of the problem is that we are led to believe there is a certain shape that we should all be aspiring to look like in order to become the perfect runner.   Yeah sure, the guys and girls who are in the top 10 finishers of the marathon are usually pretty much the same shape (small, skinny, run / fly effortlessly and weigh about 50kgs) but after that, the similarities end.  I know guys who are 90+ kilos and run a 3 hour marathon and well as girls who are 5 feet tall and run a sub 20 minute 5km.  Go figure.  

Most of us are not in that elite category of runners and training for the upcoming Rio Olympics, nor will we ever be, so why do we need to adopt the same shape, weight, height, cadence and posture as these guys?  The answer is that we don’t.

The 19 races that were sat in my trash folder...

The 19 races that were sat in my trash folder...

It would appear that we are in 'race promotion season’ at the moment as I have received emails detailing no less that 19 different races or running festivals, urging me to sign up and run.  So, in order to save you the hassle of trawling through your inbox and trash folder to find out about these races over the coming months, I have done it for you…. 

From Injury to 5km PB!

Returning from injury is not easy.  It can be frustrating, annoying and tests our patience to the limit.  It was great to chat to Jane recently about how she has gone from serious injury to 5km personal best times by training consistently.  I loved this quote in particular...

"The first few weeks were hard, but you just have to get out there and do it!  

Jane has come back from a stress fracture in her foot, to running with confidence again and smashing personal best times at her local parkrun in Melbourne! Jane talks me through what she thinks of her Go Run training plan and how she keeps consistently training despite lots of travel with her work, by telling herself to " just get out there and do it."  She also shares some of the awesome events that she is considering for 2016. Enjoy!

 

Are you ready to run? If the answer is "YES!" then sign up here for your own running coach and personalised monthly training plan to get you running stronger, longer and faster.  I will get in touch straight away and we can begin working on getting your running to where you really want it to be!