London Marathon Training – Week 3

Week 3 already and another high mileage week planned.

Monday started off with a 3.3 mile walk with my wife, immediately followed (after a quick change into my shorts) by an 8 mile run. This included 4 miles at potential marathon pace (MP). The MP miles averaged 6.15 pace, which as you can imagine, I was very pleased with, especially as my heart rate (HR) was lower than in previous marathons.

Tuesday was my first double day of the week. It started with an early 10 miler, all at an easy effort and not focussing on pace at all. I ran 4 miles to the club in the evening to the club before joining them for another 8.2 miles, including some faster miles helping keep someone company who was aiming to run at his marathon pace. Those faster miles, my 17th-20th miles of the day, averaged 6.25 pace. Once again I was very pleased with those after that amount of mileage in my legs.

On Wednesday I put my sensible head on and just ran at a very easy effort level and once again didn’t focus on the pace.

Thursday was an interesting running day and I think I almost underestimated it. I had to drop my car into the garage for a service. I dropped the car at 8am and ran at an easy effort home. However, town to Wigston is net uphill so although I was running at an easy effort, the 4.25 miles home felt harder on my legs than I thought. However, without a car I had the choice of catching a bus or running back to collect it. As I am not one to take the easy option I decided to run back. As it was a net downhill the 4.37 miles back felt far easier than earlier. Two runs down by 12pm.

The next run was the Next Running Group and week 9 of their Couch to 5K plan. However, as they have been doing so well we decided to go on a ‘magical mystery tour of Enderby’! If anyone knows Enderby they will know that there isn’t much magical about it and the only mystery element was that I allowed each person to pick part of the route. This meant that (with a bit of creativity towards the end) we managed to run bang-on 5k. High-5s all round!

My final run of the day was the Wigston Phoenix hills session. Running late due to the extra few minutes with Next, I managed to see runners from the club just setting out as I neared the meeting point. Luckily, as they were warming up and I already had with Next, I managed to catch them just before they got to the first hill. 16 reps of various hills later and I was blowing hard! The hill session was 6.67 miles bringing Thursdays total to 18.76 miles.

Friday should have been a recovery day and would have been, had the client I was running with not been faster than she let on! So after 5 miles of various hill reps around Wigston and finishing with some sprints on the flat, my legs were feeling it again. However, I can’t complain as she pushed hard and was faster than she thought as well and, after all, it is my job to get people working.

Saturday is long run day and for the second week running the plan was 20 miles. Once again I thought about letting the time drift by with another ‘Tour de Parks’. I thought I’d see how many green spaces and parks I could run through without looking at a map or plan a route beforehand. I think I managed 15 different green areas/parks within the 20 miles. The run itself started as a bit of a struggle. My legs felt tired and although it was cold, I felt warm ‘just not right’. However, after about 5 miles I started to get into a happier rhythm and settled into a consistent easy effort and pace. By the end of the run, which took a fraction over 2hrs 30mins, I was feeling far better than at the beginning and could have gone on for longer. I had my sensible head on though and really wanted breakfast!

Sunday was a very gentle 4 mile recovery run around Wigston. For the second week in a row my left calf felt a little tight and tired, but nothing I would deem as anything more. However, the biggest aim of my training is consistency so I will not be risking injury.

 

Week 3 Totals: 82.3 miles covered over 11 runs, 3.3 miles covered over one walk, plus some basic core exercises on my BOSU ball.

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London Marathon 2017 Training – Week 2

After Week 1 was a total of 77 miles, Week 2 was due to be more of the same.

Monday started at 6.30am with a 3.3 mile walk with my wife to encourage her to get out in the dark and to test my left calf, which was feeling a little tight yesterday. Once home, a quick change into my shorts and then back out for 6.6 miles of running, including 3 miles in the middle at an average pace of 6.23, which I would describe as ‘comfortably challenging’. The pleasing thing for a stat-geek like myself, was that my heart rate (HR) was slightly lower than my normal marathon pace HR meaning I could have pushed harder. My calf was fine.

Tuesday was my ‘normal’ double-day. I started with another 3 mile walk with my wife, followed by running 10 easy miles. Running through Knighton Park in the dark was a different experience (very eerie). The second run of the day was 4 miles before our Wigston Phoenix club run. The total run for the evening was 10.8 miles with only 2 miles of those under 7.00 pace and they were just striding without any extra effort. 20.8 miles for the day but I felt strong and fit.

Wednesday was a very easy effort 4.2 miles. The wind was not helping my effort levels on what were very tired legs!

Thursday was a frustrating day. For my Personal Training business I have converted half of my garage into a gym. However, when the mirrors were delivered they were damaged so a replacement set were sent. This meant that for the gym area to be safe I had to put them up as quick as possible. Annoyingly, this meant skipping my morning run to get them fixed before my clients were due. My first run of the day was with my Couch-to-5k group at Next. This week we ran continuously for 2.6 miles. I followed this with a mad-dash to Victoria Park to join in the club speed/hill session. My legs were working well and I pushed hard to get the most out of the session.

Friday was another very easy effort recovery run of 5 miles. My legs were a bit tired from the speed training the previous night and I had a long run to do on Saturday so I ran as easy as I could while keeping my form.

Saturday is the day of the year I usually dread the most; my first 20 miler of the year. I don’t know why they affect my head the way they do as I have ran so many over the years and they are not much further than the 18 miler I had done the week before. Anyway, I was up and out by 6.30am for an ‘easy-effort’ 20 miles. I hadn’t planned a route but as it was dark and raining I thought I would go for a ‘tour of parks’. Starting in Wigston I ran to Great Central Way, then across and through Braunstone, crossing the park long before any parkrunners were around. I then took the ring road to Western Park and cut through the park to Fosse Road where I ran through The Rally, up by Leicester Tigers, up New Walk and then across Victoria Park, where the parkrun volunteers were just setting up. Finally I headed up Queens Road and through Knighton Park and on to home. 20.05 miles in 2hrs 31mins of cold, mainly dark, but with a lovely sunrise. I would call that a confidence booster at this time of the year.

Sunday was a recovery run, at a very easy effort, of 4.76 miles to get my legs moving again. Weirdly, my legs actually felt quite spritely, so I had to force myself to slow down. That is very pleasing after another long week.

 

Week 2 Totals: 70.2 miles covered over 9 runs, 6.4 miles covered over two walks, plus some basic core exercises on my BOSU ball.

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London Marathon 2017 Training – Week 1

Well here I am for the 10th year in a row (11th in total). Week 1 of London Marathon training.

I had finished the previous week with a 16 miler on Sunday, meaning my legs were coming into this week a little more than normal (as I do my long runs on a Saturday).

Monday started with a 5 miler, broken down as 1m easy, 2m at rough marathon pace (MP), finishing with 2m easy pace. As it was icy, the faster two miles went to pot a bit. I was ok on flat straight roads but having to go round corners was a bit like ice skating without the friction. However, I was very happy with MP miles of 6.29 & 6.25. Run one done, nailed and no falls!

Tuesdays are what I like to term ’20-mile Tuesdays’. I like to run in the morning and then again with my running club, Wigston Phoenix in the evenings. My morning run was an easy 9.2 miler, concentrating on running form and keeping effort and heart rate low. In the evening I drove to the club and ran 4 easy miles before everyone else arrived. I then ran with someone who wanted to run at their MP (approx. 6.40) for 4 miles.   As we approached the ring road we left the rest of our group behind and pushed on into the wind. We ran the 4 miles at an average of 6.39 pace. Spot on! I finished the evening with 11 miles for a total of 20.2 miles for the day.

Wednesday was nice and easy after that big day. I started the day off with a nice 3.3 mile walk with my wife, followed by a very easy effort run of 4.1 miles.

Thursday was a triple-running day of sorts. I started the day with a 3 mile walk with my wife, following it with a 7.1 miler at an easy pace. Later in the day I ran 2 miles with my couch-to-5k group from Next and finished the day off with our club speed/hill session around Victoria Park. Surprisingly, my legs still worked and I was able to push hard on all of the reps. The overall daily total was 14.72 miles.

Friday was the third double-day of the week. This is unusual for me as I usually have an easy day before my Saturday long run. However, I had a new client who wanted a consultation meeting while running (madness – most prefer coffee) in the morning and then I was leading the 8.30 pace group at the monthly We Run LE1 run from Victoria Park through Leicester city centre. This is a great run for inexperienced runners or those looking to meet or chat to others in a similar boat as it is purely social as it is not timed. The day totalled 8.86 miles and finished at about 7.30pm.

Saturday was an early start; up and out to get in 18 miles before 9.30am. Some would say I am mad, but I like to think that by 9.30am I have finished my long run and the rest of the weekend is my own. This 18 miler is a two-paced run, the first 8 miles ran at an easy effort (around 7.30 pace), the next 8 miles ran at around 6.52 (sub-3hr) pace, with 2 easy miles to finish. My legs were tired from the start and it soon became a bit of a war of attrition. Me against mile after mile. I have ran this route so many times over the years and often still hate it when my legs don’t want to work. However, on a positive note, the first 8 miles were ran at 7.23 pace, the faster 8 miles at 6.44 pace, meaning that my legs were not really a problem (although my HR was higher than usual); it was more in my head!!

Sunday is just a nice easy finish to my running week, an easy 5 mile recovery run from home to marshalling at Aylestone Junior parkrun. I love finishing the week watching the enthusiasm of the kids, whether they are racing or just running round for the sheer enjoyment of being able to run. Even those being ‘dragged’ around by their parents manage a smile when they finish.

 

Week 1 Totals: 77 miles covered over 11 runs, 6.64 miles covered over two walks, plus some basic core exercises on my BOSU ball.

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You Need To Think About What You Won’t Do

I love bread, sausages and beer. I have a healthy diet, but I do enjoy these three things and I don’t think that I could ever give them up totally as part of any nutrition plan. They would be on my “I won’t list”. We all have one of these lists, even though you’ve probably never thought of it.

We always talk about what we will do to be healthy and how you are willing to achieve your nutritional and exercise goals. For example,

  • I’m going to exercise 4 days per week
  • I’m going to hit my calorie goal every day
  • I’m getting up an hour earlier each day so I can work out at 6am

That’s great. We do need to identify those qualities, those markers within us that can create habits that will reinforce the positive behavior and give us a growing awareness of how far we are willing to go.

However, there is something else that you need to factor in; your capacity for succeeding is also dependent on what you are not willing to do. Mine is bread, sausages and beer. What won’t you give up? Where will you draw the line at pushing yourself? Examples on your “won’t do” list could be:

But there’s something else you need to factor in: your capacity for success is also predicated on what you are not willing to do. What you won’t give up. Where you draw the line at discomfort. Yes, your list of things you won’t do. Examples:

  • I won’t eat vegetables
  • I won’t stop eating cheese
  • I am NOT running
  • No high intensity exercise
  • I can’t get up at 6:00 am to exercise. That’s too early
  • I won’t lift weights because I’ll get “bulky” (you won’t)

It is important to look at this list as definitive statements are an indicator of our mindset. Because of this, we need to take a minute to examine them for clues.

Here is an exercise for you to do: take a piece of paper and write at the top: I WON’T and then fill in 5 lines below with things that you are not willing to do in the pursuit of a healthier life. Just write them down. Don’t think about “why” at this point, just write the important points.

Once you have finished take a look. Consider if all of your points are definite “won’ts”. If they are then keep them. If you are unsure whether they are definite then ask yourself these questions:

Why are you unwilling to?

What would that mean to you? To your life? To your family?

If you could give it up for a short time would that be ok? Could you survive and how long for?

 

You may have some understandable points on your list. For example, if you are a single parent then “going for a run before work” is probably not achievable. However, what about points that fall into a “middle ground” or definates that do not have a concrete reason? You may refuse to do weight-training as you do not want to bulk up. Could you seek advice from someone who could give you a programme to allow you to weight-train without any possibility that you will increase bulk.   With these “middle ground” points, there is often a way of removing them from your list with a bit of help.

Writing your list and then analysing it is a great way of getting to know yourself. It will make you think about your mindset and behaviours and help you to visualise the following: the road to success has two yellow lines running down the middle, dividing it in half (those lines represent what you are willing to do and what you are not willing to do). A little further down the road it splits into two. One fork takes you to success, the other doesn’t. However, to take the road to success you must be on the right side of the line at that point.

And the secret to this? Successful people will do the things that unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Say it again; “successful people will do the things that unsuccessful people are not willing to do”. So, all of those things in your “won’t do” list may be holding you back from being successful.

Success is not an easy path to follow. It never has been and never will be. It requires smart planning, sacrifices, consistency, re-evaluation, willingness to adjust and perseverance when life gets hard. There will be hard times, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get through them. You just need to be determined.

So, want success. Figure out what is holding you back, and work on it. You might find a hidden key to a door you need to unlock. Good luck!

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How do you know if you’re an athlete?

ath·lete

noun

a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.

 

More and more people are exercising nowadays, and while the definition is helpful, it is more fun to look at the list below to see if you can call yourself an athlete.

So, you might be an athlete if…

  1. You feel more at home at the gym than you do at your actual home
  2. You spend most of your waking hours thinking about PBs
  3. You DREAM about PBs
  4. You plan your holidays around upcoming races
  5. You own ten pairs of trainers – not for vanity, but because you need running shoes, gym shoes, trail shoes, barefoot shoes, etc
  6. You’ve had to ask for help getting out of a chair, because yesterday was leg day
  7. You’ve had to walk downstairs backwards the day after a marathon
  8. Random people ask you if you work out, and you’re excited to respond
  9. When you watch an action movie, you think to yourself, “I could do that.”
  10. Most of your wardrobe has been replaced with free t-shirts from fitness related events
  11. You’ve had a bad day completely turn around as soon as you exercise
  12. Your normal friends know how fast you run, even if they don’t know if that is fast or not
  13. Your Facebook profile pic is you exercising
  14. Most of your Facebook status updates involve you exercising
  15. You never miss the opportunity to take a nap, because naps = recovery
  16. All of your friends come to you for fitness/diet advice
  17. You’ve had nightmares about an interval session
  18. You’d NEVER stay up late partying if you have a race the next day
  19. You’ve shared a “leg day” meme on your social network
  20. Your Instagram is basically just fit people and food.  And cats, of course.
  21. You know how big your arms are – you’ve measured, and my how they’ve grown
  22. You can’t wait to tell your friends and family about a great workout, even if they hate hearing about it
  23. You have a section of wall in your home dedicated to all of your event medals
  24. You have a pair of running shoes you wear for mud runs so you don’t ruin your OTHER running shoes
  25. You stay up obsessing over tomorrow’s workout, wondering if you’ll actually be able to hit all your goals
  26. Most of your jeans are too loose around the waist and calves and too tight around the thighs and bum
  27. You’ve given up on jeans and spend most of your time in shorts or leggings
  28. Family gatherings totally freak you out because you only talk about training
  29. You watch TV grimacing while using your foam roller
  30. You’ve had to explain to people exactly what a foam roller does/is
  31. You make time to exercise, no matter what
  32. You’ve been told, more than once, to talk about something other than training.  You did not comply
  33. There is never enough coffee. Or food
  34. You’d rather be training than reading this
  35. People think you’re OBSESSED for wanting to train all the time. You know you are DEDICATED
  36. You’re in 16 different Facebook groups, all of which revolve around fitness or nutrition of some sort.
  37. While traveling, you make it a point to run around the local area, taking photos to post on Facebook
  38. You seek out the nearest parkrun when you go away for a weekend
  39. You made it all the way to the end of a “You Might Be An Athlete If…” list

 Please let me know what numbers apply to you!

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Why Breathing Cold Air Can Hurt

Why do my lungs seem to burn when running in cold temperatures? This is a common question, especially among new runners or those running in cold weather for the first time. The lungs have evolved to warm and humidify inhaled air to body temperature and humidity without damaging tissue.

Think of the respiratory system as a tree; with two main branches splitting off from the trunk and then splitting into smaller and smaller branches until the tiny branches sprout leaves. Turn the tree upside down and shrink it to chest size and you have the lung with the trachea as the trunk and the alveoli (air sacks) as leaves.

The warming and humidification of the air occurs quickly starting in the mouth and nose, reaching body temperature and 100 per cent humidity before the air gets too deep into the respiratory tree. As air moves deeper into the air sacks that lie in direct contact with the blood vessels, it exchanges oxygen for carbon dioxide. While inhaled air is cooling the lung tissue, the expired air adds some heat back to the cooled tissues on the way out of the lungs.

Cold air is very dry. The burning sensation you feel in cold air is probably due to the combination of heat and water exchange that is occurring early in the inhalation of cold, dry air. For most people, this sensation goes away after a few minutes and it is not known to cause harm in healthy lungs, but can trigger an attack of bronchospasm in someone with asthma.

Many people worry that the lung tissue will freeze in cold air, but the extensive network of blood flow through the lung tissue seems to prevent that from happening.

As research tells us, the lungs will tolerate extremely cold temperatures without cold damage.

Growing up and living in England, we are used to cold weather, and as kids, that didn’t stop us from running around outdoors without damage. There are many year-round runners in places far colder than the temperatures we have to live with. Evolution seems to have developed a hardy system that will withstand the cold elements.

If cold air bothers you during exercise, you can wear a scarf or snood/buff type piece of clothing to help “pre-warm” the air. There are many designs to be found on the internet that can help. Just beware that covering your mouth and nose during exercising will make breathing feel harder due to breathing through a layer of material.

So, no excuses; you can exercise in cold conditions without fear of damaging your lungs, and the burning sensation will pass.

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When to Exercise When You Are Ill

We are getting into the winter months, which generally means the cold and flu season is on its way. I often get asked if it’s okay to exercise when sick? I know there is nothing more frustrating than enjoying your exercise programme, getting results and then getting ill, whether it’s a common cold, full blown flu or another horrible bug.

Asking if you can exercise when sick can be a bit like asking how long is a piece for string? It all really comes down to your symptoms, how you feel and the type of exercise you want to do.

I personally use the general rule of thumb that if my symptoms are just above the head (so runny nose, sore throat or sneezing) it’s still okay for moderate to gentle exercise. Take it easier than normal and do nothing that’s going to be too tiring. Personally, I find it hard to take a step back and not go to the gym or run but sometimes you just have to learn to listen to your body and rest up when needed.

If I can feel a cold coming on, but the symptoms aren’t too bad I will just start with some gentle exercise, see how I feel after ten minutes and then either stop or keep going depending on how I feel. If you aren’t too sick and do the right exercise it can actually help your immune system. So if you do just have a common cold and feel like you could do some form of exercise then do just, just far easier than normal.

However, there are some definite signs and symptoms of when you should avoid any type of exercise (usually ‘below the neck’ symptoms): – High temperature – Achy muscles (not your usual post-workout type of aches) – Chesty cough – Swollen glands – Vomiting – Diarrhea

If you display any forms of those symptoms, then you need to rest. It’s more important to give yourself the time to heal, sleep and stay hydrated. There is no point pushing yourself to only make yourself worse. It’s also important that when you are sick that you don’t spread your germs to those around you (you wouldn’t want them to do it to you).

Once you have got over the worst of your symptoms and want to get back into your routine, always make sure you start with an easier workout to make sure you are fully over whatever you had. Going too hard too quickly can sometimes lead to a reoccurrence of your symptoms.

Unfortunately getting sick is a part of life and we can’t be super human all the time. I generally know when I get sick (which isn’t often at all nowadays), it’s my body’s way of telling me I need to listen and slow down a little bit.

Remember it’s okay to put your feet up sometimes and let your body heal. It is better to have a couple of days off to fight off an illness instead of battling through regardless and missing a month when you make it worse. Be sensible.

I’m also not a medical expert by any means so I always advise to seek professional medical advice when you really are unsure or symptoms persist.

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Motivation to Move

Motivation is one of those things that we can all do with a little more of at different stages in our lives. As you know, exercise can be just what you need to get your mind stimulated and your body energised. Yet every now and then we need a little motivation to get us up and get started.

Here are my top tips for finding that motivation to get yourself moving:

 Know your ‘why?’ – What is your real reason for wanting to exercise? Work out exactly why you are doing this and write it down….everywhere!! Pin it to the fridge, write it in your phone, put it on your desk, even in your car. Whenever you feel that you can’t be bothered, remind yourself of why you are doing this and what it will mean once you achieve your goal.

 Make a play list – Music is a fantastic way to keep you motivated. You can adjust it to suit your mood or the pace of the workout you are doing. Opting for music with a good beat can really help to motivate you to keep going and stay on track.

 Find an exercise buddy – Having other people to exercise with can be just what you need to get you up and motivated. Exercise buddies, whether a friend or Personal Trainer, can not only make the experience more enjoyable, they also help keep you accountable for sticking to your plans.

Use different locations – I like to try running different routes and outdoor places to work out because it keeps it fresh and interesting, plus I get to explore some of the beautiful places in my area. So take yourself over the fields, try different parks and explore different routes to keep it interesting.

 Mix it up – Your body will slowly become conditioned to specific exercises and routines, and you will find you reach a plateau as the challenge is reduced. So keep mixing it up, rotating the areas of the body you are working on and adding new and more challenging exercises. Don’t be afraid to try something new and different.

And remember, always keep in mind your own personal goals as you work towards them. You are capable of achieving anything you set your mind to and the hard work is definitely worth it.

 

 

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Get Over It! Bad Workouts

Bad workouts and poor races: we all have them and we always will. The more experienced I get the less I worry about the occasional flat session. Instead, I see them as a chance to learn. Here are my main reasons for bad workouts and, more importantly, what to do about them.

Wrong type

Workouts in our weaker areas are where we are more likely to struggle. For example, I’m more of a longer distance runner so when I do short speed sessions I often fall short of the speeds that others can achieve. However, when I do longer tempo runs I can achieve a faster speed for longer.

This has frustrated me as the people I am comparing myself to (I know you shouldn’t, but you do) have very similar race times. I now accept the workouts that are my weakness are more likely to be my ‘bad’ ones. (‘Bad’ is a relative term. In this case, I mean that I struggle to hit the paces which I would expect based, on my fitness level.) I now realise that although I may not be able to run 400 metres as fast as a club-mate, I can beat them over 10 miles.

This subtle understanding of your body’s strength and weaknesses can take the pressure off workouts and make you more accepting of those times when training feels tougher.

Outside factors

I’m surprised at how upset runners get when a workout goes poorly when there’s clearly a valid reason for it. An example of this could be that your child is ill and you have been up all night with them and you feel really tired. Your workout is likely to be compromised due to the lack of sleep and possibly worrying about your child. Anyone on the outside can see this, but the person themselves then view the workout as a poor one and start to let it affect their confidence. People tend to mentally separate life stress from training stress (and sometimes working out can make you feel a lot better), but by stressing over bad workouts you are adding more unwarranted stress to ‘understandable’ stress.

The same goes for the weather. If it’s hot, humid or windy, your workouts will be compromised. How often do you still expect a great session even though it’s hot? This is just setting yourself up for failure. Instead, adjust your expectations and try as hard as the conditions will allow you. A great personal example I have of this is my own interval training. I run my shorter intervals up and down on a straight part of road. If it is windy I have to run into the wind on alternate reps. This means that by putting in the same effort, one set is always going to be slower. So I just focus on the effort I am running at and worry less about the time.

Inadequate recovery

Recovery, or lack of, often plays a role in bad workouts. When a session doesn’t go well, look at the previous few days. Did you have enough recovery and rest? Again, this is where being a slave to a training plan can hurt us. Your training plan should be flexible, where you’re constantly moving things around to make sure the hard/easy cycle is obeyed. As recovery is just as important as the workouts it is sometimes worthwhile taking that extra day to recovery or train at an easy intensity to ensure you are ready to run your harder sessions. If not, you have to understand that you will not perform as well as if you are better rested.

Once again, from personal experience, I know that at the end of a 50-mile week I will not run as fast as if I have run less miles in the previous few days. This is why tapering for major races is important and knowing that running on tired legs is not going to have the same results.

Finally, it’s also important to acknowledge that the body has days that we just don’t quite understand. Some days you just feel ‘off’.

It is hard to accept a bad workout or race when there are valid reasons, but it is extra-hard when there appears to be no reason at all.

Remember, one great run doesn’t make you a world champion and one bad run doesn’t make you a bad runner.

Get over it and move on!

 

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How to Increase Your Long Run

Whether you are training for a marathon, half marathon or just wanting to run further or faster, you will usually be doing a long run each week. This long run may be 6 miles, it may be 24 miles, it is all relative to your experience and your goals.

As you progress, your long run will get further and possibly faster, but to do this you need to follow certain rules to help you reduce the risk of injury, illness and fatigue.

Here are a few of my tips to help you run longer:

Slow down

If you run your long run at the same pace as your 5k you are heading for trouble. To run further you need to slow your pace. When building distance your pace should feel comfortable and you should be able to hold a conversation (or sing to yourself if you are alone). A good rule is to add 20-25% on to your normal pace. For example, if you are aiming to race at 8 min/mile pace your long run should be around 9.40-10.00 pace.

Add miles gradually

To reduce your risk of injuries, increase your long run by no more than 1 mile at a time up to 10 miles, 1.5 miles between 10 and 15 miles and 2 miles once you get over 15 miles. 1 mile per week is probably the most sensible option. If you think that most marathon training plans run for 13 weeks before the taper, this means you can increase your long runs by at least 13 miles over the course of the plan. No need to panic then.

Pick a day

Make sure that you pick a day of the week where you are not pushed for time. Remember you are running slower than usual so you don’t want to be clock-watching about getting home.

Have cutback weeks

Every 3-4 weeks make sure that you do a shorter long run. The more you increase your distance, the more fatigue you will accumulate in your legs. By running a shorter long run every 3-4 weeks helps to reduce the fatigue and helps to avoid overtraining. My general rule would be to cut back your long run by 25-30% every 3-4 weeks. For example, if you run 12, 13, 14 miles in consecutive weeks, your cutback long run should be around 10 miles.

Walk if you have to

When you are first starting to increase distance you may get times when you just have to walk. Try not to, as this will help you mentally when it comes to a race, but if you do have to then walk until you feel ready to run again. This run/walk method can also be used if you are looking to spend more ‘time on feet’ if you are looking to complete an ultra-event.

Keep yourself fuelled

On runs longer than 90 minutes make sure you have something you can carry that is rich in carbohydrates and electrolytes. These can be energy drinks, gels or sugary sweets such as jelly babies. There are hundreds of different products on the market so you will need to experiment what works for you as some can upset your stomach due to the high sugar content. To keep your energy level consistent, start fuelling about 60 minutes into your run and refuel again every 30 minutes.

Break it down

By breaking the long run into smaller manageable chunks makes it less intimidating. Whether you break it down into times segments, or by distance, it will become mentally easier and less stressful.

Be patient

Building endurance takes time. Be sensible, be patient and reap the benefits.

 

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