Marathons – Deciding Your Target Time

‘Why have you chosen that time?’ This is a question I often ask people when we discuss their marathon target finishing time. I get a number of varied replies such as:

  • Well I did xx.xx last year so thought I’d go for this
  • It’s only x.xx pace isn’t it
  • Don’t know really but should be doable
  • I need to do that for a Good For Age/Qualifying Time
  • My half marathon time is xx.xx so I can do this

Realistically, only the last answer is reasonably sensible and even then it depends on when their half marathon was run.

So many people just pick a finishing time or go for the nearest round number to the pace they usually run.

Now there is no actual science to predicting finishing times, it is important that people are realistic. If you are running a 16 week training programme there are so many things that can go wrong, or life gets in the way. Injury, illness, work and family commitments all get in the way at some point.

Let me discuss the answers from above one at a time to see if I can give reasons as to why these may not be sensible.

 

Well I did xx.xx last year so thought I’d go for this

Well done on last year. Are you better than you were last year? How has your training gone so far?

Realistically, to be faster than last year you need to start your marathon training with a better base level of fitness and speed that you had a year previous. If you are not as fit or fast, what makes you think you can run a faster marathon? You also need to change what you did the previous year. Not necessarily by much, but doing exactly the same is likely to get the same result.

 

It’s only x.xx pace isn’t it

Correct. How far can you comfortably run at that pace for at present? If they can currently run 5 or 6 miles comfortably at their target pace at the beginning of their training, then it is possible to run a marathon at that pace. It is then a case of having the training plan in place that will allow progression of the marathon pace miles to ensure that come race day, marathon pace feels comfortable for the majority of the race.

 

Don’t know really but should be doable

What makes you think you can do it if you ‘don’t really know’? Why is it doable? How many miles are you capable of at that pace at the moment?

So many questions that will get you thinking about whether you need to actually keep your mind open and choose a target closer to the race day.

 

I need to do that for a Good For Age/Qualifying Time

Once again, can you run at your target pace for a few miles at the beginning of your training plan? I have seen quite a few people chasing a Good For Age time in order to get in to the London Marathon, but so few actually know how they are going to get there. It is often a case of download a training plan for your target time and off you go, even though you are not up to the starting mileage or paces of the plan when you begin.

 

My half marathon time is xx.xx so I can do this

Now if the half marathon has been ran recently, and training has gone well since, this is a better indicator of fitness and prospects of achieving than the others. Most prediction calculators work on an average of multiplying your half marathon time by 2.22. The quicker you are (under 3 hours) you can get away with averages of 2.1 times your half marathon time. Anything over 5 hours and you are better multiplying your half marathon time by 2.4. If by doing these sums, your prediction is in line with your target then a good plan will give you the required long runs to ensure you have the endurance to convert your half time to a full marathon.

 

Keeping an open mind through training

My best advice is to have a rough idea of your target. This idea has to be realistic and based on what your pre-training training has shown you are capable of. However, be prepared for the initial target to change as you go through your training. You will be better placed around 4-6 weeks before your race to see how your training has progressed and if you are behind, on target, or even ahead of your original target. You can then focus on that pace for the remainder of your training to ensure you are in the best physical and mental shape for race day.

 

Variable Targets

You also need more than one target. Try to have the following:

A-Target – This is why you have done the training, the reason you are going to go all out for. It is just on your limit and will be either a new PB, Good For Age place, or, more commonly, a round number (sub-3.30, etc)

B-Target – This is an outcome that you will still be extremely happy of, even though it is not your perfect outcome. This is usually set at 5-15 minutes slower than you’re A-Target. The slower you’re A-Target the bigger the gap.

C-Target – This is your ‘acceptable’ outcome. One that you will be disappointed with on the day but you will be comfortable with the final outcome once it has sunk in.

 

The reasons for having these three targets are that during a marathon there are so many variables that are beyond your control that could affect your result. Such things as the weather being hotter or windier than usual, getting caught up behind slower runners (especially at the larger marathons), having an upset stomach or needing a toilet stop.

The overriding message is be sensible, be realistic, know what you are capable of at this moment in time and most important, have a good flexible training plan that suits your lifestyle, your capabilities and your target.

 

Do you want a personalised training plan?

Contact me today to ask any questions or to book your FREE consultation

Call me on 07815 044521 or email me at martinhulbertpt@gmail.com

Martin Hulbert

Personal Trainer & Running Coach Leicestershire

My Marathon Training Survival Tips

For those of you training for a spring marathon, March equals miles. It will most likely be your highest mileage month with the long Sunday runs steadily increasing to peak distance. This is the time to do all you can to keep the wheels on and yourself healthy and injury free until the big day. Pounding out the miles and ticking off sessions isn’t the only way to do this. Here are some of the key factors I have learnt over the years.

 

Fuel

We know pre and post workout fuel is fairly crucial when it comes to performance but it can be hard to stay on top of it once your mileage creeps up. You’ll need more calories but it’s important to remember that not all calories are created equal. Carbohydrates are needed to keep you going, and for recovery. That doesn’t mean that you should reach for the biscuits, cakes or sweets. Aim to eat whole foods and natural ingredients and steer clear of the processed foods.

 

Sleep

Getting quality shut eye has been proven to correlate directly to your running performance.  If you’re struggling to achieve enough sleep, speak to me for some tricks to help you.

 

Stay strong 

To prevent any niggles becoming injuries at the crucial stage, it’s important you put a little time into staying strong and mile-proofing your body. Core work and strengthening exercises will help to stave off those injuries and they’ll only take a few minutes of your day.

 

Stretch

You’re tired, you’re short on time – I know. I used to ignore stretching. However, I also used to suffer with injuries. You are more likely to drop stretching from your routine than the runs themselves. All of my running training plans come with strengthening and stretching exercises to help to keep you running.

 

Progress and pacing

If you’re really struggling to stick to your training schedule or not seeing the improvements you’d hoped for, it can be hard to stay motivated. But there may be a reason you’re struggling. Are you eating enough of the right foods? Are you getting the right rest and recovery? Are you running at the right pace for both your ability and your target (and do these two match – a lot of people pluck a finish time out of the air without being realistic that it is achievable)?

 

When you feel stale it is a good time to re-evaluate your training plan. Does it work for you? Remember that it is YOUR training plan and sometimes the plans you take from the internet or a book simply do not work for you.

 

Do you want a personalised training plan?

Contact me today to ask any questions or to book your FREE consultation

Call me on 07815 044521 or email me at martinhulbertpt@gmail.com

Martin Hulbert

Personal Trainer & Running Coach Leicestershire

How to Save Time with These Food Preparation Ideas

One of the most important factors in getting that body you want is maintaining healthy food choices. Some people can get put off by having to prepare vegetables each day for lunchtime or evening meals. This can then lead to reaching for packaged meals or dialing for a takeaway. However, if you plan well and are prepared to spend some time once a week doing smart food preparation you will be setting yourself up for success.

A huge cause of why people end up eating unhealthy food is because they get caught out and hungry with nothing healthy on hand. That’s why if you are prepared, slip-ups are less likely to occur. Whilst preparing food may take a few hours to do in the one go, you will ultimately save on time over the week. That’s because you are doing all the chopping, cooking and cleaning in the one go. I know a lot of people starting out haven’t cooked this way before, that’s why I want to share some of my tips that I do for my weekly meal prep.

Create smoothie freezer bags – I have to admit that I prefer to eat whole foods over making smoothies, especially for breakfast. However, smoothies are a delicious quick snack to have on the go or a healthy alternative to biscuits or cake when sat at your desk. When you are doing your meal prep for the week get some snack sized zip-lock bags and fill them with your favourite smoothie ingredients and put them in the freezer. All you need to do is grab your pre packed smoothie bag from the freezer, add a liquid of your choice, blend and you have a quick healthy snack in a couple of minutes. By using frozen ingredients, it makes your smoothies nice and thick too.

Cook in bulk – There are quite a few meals that you can cook in bulk that will stay good in the fridge for a few days or you can freeze for meals later. Things like curries, stews and soups are all great freezer meals as they are easy to cook in bulk. I often buy minced meat in bulk and cook up a whole saucepan of it. Once cooked it can be split into Tupperware dishes and frozen for use another day. The joy of this is that when you come to use it you can make a Bolognese, chili or cottage pie (topped with mashed sweet potatoes or butternut squash). Slow cookers are also great for cooking soups, stews and curries. You can simply chop all your ingredients, add them to the slow cooker with your flavourings and liquid in the morning, leave it for the day and then come back to a nutritious home-cooked meal after work.

Eat your leftovers – If you don’t have time to do a big bulk meal prep session then when you do get time to cook make extra, so you can have leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. It’s all about making smart use of your time, so if you are going to the trouble of cooking, then you may as well cook a few meals in the one go. Now before you roll your eyes at having to eat leftovers, remember that’s it’s far better to eat the same healthy meal a few times, then it is to fall off the wagon when there is nothing healthy on hand.

Chop your vegetables in bulk – When you move to a healthy diet that doesn’t come out of a packet then you will find that there is a lot more time spent chopping vegetables. So whilst you are spending the time chopping them you may as well do it in the one go. I usually do this while an evening meal is cooking, making use of the time I would previously have spent leaning on the worktop checking Facebook. You can chop your vegetable sticks for snacks and then store them in an airtight container in the fridge (carrots and celery are my favourites). I know that the vegetables I buy will last over a week in the fridge once chopped and stored. If you are making stir fries, chop all your vegetables and then store in serving sized snap lock bags. You can either keep these in the fridge or freezer and are ready to go for when you need that quick meal. You just need to add your protein and sauce to the pan and you have an instant quick dinner and something that is far better for you than takeout.

Get good storage – If you haven’t realised already from all of these tips, you are going to need containers and room in the fridge to store all the food you are making. If you can, try and get containers that are serving sized so you don’t overfill them and overeat. Other handy things to have in the cupboards for meal prep are zip-lock bags (for your smoothies, vegetables and freezer meals, meats and fish).

Save money by wasting less – Somebody once told me that they didn’t like to prepare food in advance as they didn’t want to waste food. They preferred to eat ‘what they felt like’. Now, either that means that they shop every day for their daily food, or they take their daily food from their fridge or freezer on a daily basis. Shopping on a daily basis can be a recipe for disaster when it comes to healthy eating, especially if you had a habit of previously making poor food choices. Being in a supermarket when hungry can often lead to buying packaged, processed foods.

If you are taking food from the fridge or freezer on a daily basis, then having prepared the foods in advance will save time when it comes to cooking.

I’ve been preparing food in bulk for a few years now and I can honestly say that I waste less food now than I ever did before. I have vegetables in plastic dishes for the week, ready to be cooked and I can dip into the freezer at any time for meat or fish for the following day.

 

I know all of this can seem like a lot of work to start with but remember why you are doing it and that big changes don’t come easy. Once you start cooking this way, you will soon get in to a habit and I promise it gets a lot easier as time goes on. There is so much truth in that saying “by failing to prepare you’re preparing to fail”.  Remember by having quick instant healthy meals on hand you are less likely to fall off wagon and grab a takeaway when you run out of time. If you can use some of these tips, then you will be well on your way to getting the results you want.

Contact me today to ask any questions or to book your FREE consultation

Call me on 07815 044521 or email me at martinhulbertpt@gmail.com

Martin Hulbert

Personal Trainer & Running Coach Leicestershire

A Balanced Eating Guide and What I Eat in a Day

I don’t really follow a defined way of eating. I am not a vegetarian (far from it if I am honest), nor do I eat a paleo diet. I do not eat low carb, low fat or low sugar. What I do ‘aim’ to eat on a daily basis is a balanced selection of ‘whole’ foods.

You will notice I have written ‘aim’. It is my intention to eat mainly whole, unprocessed foods but I am the same as everyone else, I do like my treats; and I will eat my treats. What I won’t do though is binge.

I believe balance eating is about feeding your body with the right nutrients it needs to look and feel great. It is not about a cheeseburger in each hand!!!

There are so many different ‘diet’ theories around and it can get be overwhelming to understand what you should and shouldn’t eat. To help you out a little I’m going to share with you some of my guidelines around healthy eating and a look at what I eat in a typical day.

My balanced eating guide:

Clear out the processed foods First of all to understand what are ‘whole’ foods, it’s good to get an understanding of what food should be cut out of, or minimised in your everyday eating. Personally, I stay away from as much packaged and processed food as possible. I steer clear of foods that are high in sugar and try to minimise ‘white carbs’ like white pasta and white bread (these are usually more processed than the ‘brown’ versions). The more processed a food is, the more likely it will be bad for you. If it has an ingredient list a mile long and you don’t recognise the ingredients as a food source, then it’s probably best to stay away. Also, look at what added sugars and additives have been put in the food. So much food that is marketed as ‘healthy’ has all sorts of added extras that are not only bad for your waistline, but also your overall health.

Ditch the diet I’m a firm believer that ‘diets’ aren’t a good approach to your health and fitness goals. I see so many people go on major deprivation diets, giving themselves metabolic issues, only to put the weight back on after they return to normal eating. My belief is about finding a healthy way to eat that is sustainable over the long term. If you don’t totally deprive yourself of foods, but instead have a little bit every now and then, you can enjoy a balanced diet without feeling as though something is missing. If weight loss is your goal, then make sure you are eating in a way where are losing weight at a healthy rate, but still providing your body with the right nutrients it needs to fuel your body and brain.

 Eat whole foods Focus on eating foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Most of the foods that I buy are not packaged. These include meats and fish that are from the fresh counters of a butcher/fishmonger (although most supermarkets have these as well), fresh fruit and vegetables and nuts, seeds and grains in (or as close as possible) to their natural state. My daily meals are generally made up of lean meat like salmon or chicken, lots of vegetables like dark leafy greens, complex carbs like sweet potato, brown pasta or brown rice, nuts and seeds with some fruit. I will also eat when I’m hungry so I don’t deprive myself.

 Eat protein Protein isn’t just for bodybuilders and is an essential nutrient to include in every meal. Your body needs protein to repair and refuel its muscles, making it even more important to eat when you are exercising. As protein is denser than carbs you will usually feel fuller for longer by eating a balanced amount of protein rich foods. Always make sure your protein is from a quality source like lean meat, fish, legumes and free-range eggs.

 Don’t be scared of carbs I say ‘carbs are not your enemy’ to people all the time. There is this total myth that carbohydrates make you fat. You need eat carbohydrates, in as close to their unprocessed-self as possible, so your body can absorb protein and you can build lean muscle. The more lean muscle you have, the more calories you burn. In addition, carbohydrates are essential for our body and brain to function properly. However, not all carbohydrates are created equal and it’s important to eat complex carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato, butternut squash and oats. Stay away from simple carbs like white bread, white pasta and sugary snacks.

 Fat will not make you fat Fats are essential for your body, brain and organs to function properly. Fat also helps rebuild cells, gives you energy and produces fat-burning hormones. That’s why it’s an essential nutrient to include in your daily diet. Especially when you are doing extensive exercise and your body requires ‘longer-lasting’ fuel. However, you need to make sure you are eating the good kind of fat that comes from whole foods like salmon, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds. Try to keep an eye on saturated fats and cut out foods containing trans fats.

 

My typical day of eating:

Breakfast At the moment my breakfast is usually porridge oats, peanut butter (made from 100% peanuts) and 200ml of semi-skimmed milk. I will add a dash (less than 1g) of dark cocoa powder to give it a chocolatey taste.

If I have exercised I will also drink a glass of semi-skimmed milk to add a few more grams of protein and help me hydrate.

Morning Snacks A banana, an apple and a selection of celery and carrots. If I did more than an hour of exercise I may also include a small bag of crisps to help replenish salts (and crisps are something I would binge on if I didn’t have a small bag every now and again).

Lunch This week has been two eggs cooked in a frying pan together with a selection of vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus and carrots), a quarter of a chopped chilli and half of a clove of garlic. I may also add mushrooms and a bit of stilton cheese to add a bit of taste.

Afternoon Snacks A banana and a homemade flapjack (I’ll post the recipe soon)

Dinner Dinner varies but usually consists of meat or fish, carbs and vegetables. For instance, tonight I am cooking salmon with brown rice, a mixture of vegetables and a homemade tomato and chilli sauce.

For those of you who lead a busy life (don’t we all), this will take approximately 20-25 minutes to cook and that is due to the rice. While the rice is simmering the sauce will be made (more than is needed tonight as the rest will go into tubs and into the freezer for use another day) and the salmon and vegetables cooked in the last 10 minutes.

Evening Snacks I always have a snack in the evening as I don’t like to have my main meal too late. At the moment I am having two squares of dark chocolate. Once again I do like my chocolate so by having a couple of squares most nights stops me binging.

Now I would say that I mainly eat ‘whole’ foods and have a balanced diet between proteins, carbs and fats (in the peanut butter and stilton cheese) and the fruits and vegetables I eat. I have my treats when I feel I want them as I know my food choices, in the main, are ‘whole’ foods. I do not get hung-up on thinking “I can’t eat that”.

Remember, to be your best you need to feel your best, which means you need make sure you are fuelled with wholesome nutritious food. Once you start eating this way and feeling great, your body will continue to crave more good food, making it easier to stay away from the processed and the packaged.

 

Want to know more?

Contact me today to ask any questions or to book your FREE consultation

Call me on 07815 044521 or email me at martinhulbertpt@gmail.com

Martin Hulbert

Personal Trainer & Running Coach Leicestershire

Fitness Ideas For When You Are Short On Time

When it comes to getting fit and staying fit there are no shortcuts. To get a lean toned body, you need to be consistent and prepared to work hard. However, sometimes life gets a little hectic, the jobs pile up and all of a sudden you have missed an entire week of exercising. We have all been there, including me. However, there are a few things you can add into your daily routine for when your life gets a little too busy that can help you stay fit. Here are 3 fitness shortcuts for when you are short on time.

Introduce the 10-minute workout If you cannot find time to go to the gym and complete and full workout, an idea is to introduce a quick ten-minute workout to your day. Everybody can find a spare ten minutes, even if it’s in your lunch break. It’s really amazing how many calories you can burn in a short space of time. In order to burn calories and get your body into fat burning mode, you need to get your heart rate right up. This style of training can also be called interval training or more widely known as HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training). So dedicate to ten minutes, but give it absolutely all you have got.

Sneak in more cardio You don’t need to go for a run for an hour to get cardio into your day. Look at ways you can add small amounts of cardio into your day, that will add up over time. Park your car further away from work or the shops, take the stairs instead of the lift, and get up and walk around as much as possible, even if it is when you are talking on the phone. These are all small changes you can add into your daily routine, so that whilst they may not feel like much, they are a great way to burn more calories, without committing to hours of running.

Do super sets One of the best ways to maximise your time for optimal results, is start incorporating supersets into your weight training. To do a superset, you pick a muscle group you want to target, and then do a few different exercises for that muscle group, with no rest in between. For example, if you wanted to work legs, you could do deadlifts, squats and walking lunges. Once you have gone through one round of each exercise, repeat a few times. Not only do supersets cut down your workout time, they also keep intensity levels high, helping you burn more calories and ultimately body fat.

Want to know more?

Contact me today to ask any questions or to book your FREE consultation

Call me on 07815 044521 or email me at martinhulbertpt@gmail.com

Martin Hulbert

Personal Trainer & Running Coach Leicestershire

It’s Time to Take Action

Simply wanting something is not enough, neither is just writing down your goals and then doing nothing about it. If you want to make changes, you need stop making excuses and take action now. So many people say “oh they are so lucky”, looking for any reasoning behind why someone is successful or has made changes in their lives, without recognising that most people get where they are because they work extremely hard for it. So if you have goals and have just been thinking about them, here’s how you can take some action today.

Put in the effort – You must do everything possible to get what you want and put in the effort. If losing weight is your goal, being healthy some of the time then going crazy eating cakes & chocolates is not going to get you to your goal. If you want to get fitter, you have to sweat and work hard at some point to push your limits and improve. It doesn’t matter how much you want something it will never become a reality without action & commitment. So put everything you have into it. Be prepared to work hard and you will get there.

Stop making excuses – We are very good at finding excuses as to why we can’t do something instead of looking for solutions. Most of the time the main thing getting between you and your goals is the excuses you use to stop yourself from doing it. When you want something bad enough you can get very resourceful at making things happen. So look at your goal and believe you can, and will, achieve it. http://www.mhhealthandfitness.co.uk/how-to-get-started/

Find someone to hold you accountable – If you aren’t very good at sticking to what you said you were going to do, then find a friend, or family member who you report in to. Each week, sit down and tell them what you are going to do and then have them hold you to it. This can go visa verse and you can help them with their goals too. It can actually become quite fun where you can choose penalties and rewards depending on how well you did that week. This is also where a Personal Trainer can be helpful to keep you achieving.

Look at your priorities – What are your priorities? Obviously family comes first, that is a given. But when it comes to free time what do you do? If you aren’t reaching your goals, then maybe you need to re-evaluate what your priorities are. Are you setting time aside each week to cook healthy dinners and exercise, or do you chose to spend your time watching TV or flicking through Facebook? If your goal is important, you will have to make time to achieve it. If you won’t, it is not that important to you. Sometimes things will get in your way and your priorities will temporarily change, but when that happens you need to get back on track as soon as possible.

Stop procrastinating – If you really want to make that change; your health, fitness or your mind, then you have to expect that you’ll need to work hard. Success doesn’t happen overnight and it definitely doesn’t happen by sitting there and doing nothing. I’m not going to lie, it’s not going to be easy, but the rewards will be worth it.

Do you want a personalised training plan?

Contact me today to ask any questions or to book your FREE consultation

Call me on 07815 044521 or email me at martinhulbertpt@gmail.com

Martin Hulbert

Personal Trainer & Running Coach Leicestershire