Fasted Running. Yes or No?

We’ve all heard the stories of runners that have run 18+ milers on nothing but air, no breakfast, no in-run nutrition and no water; and it can definitely be a bit of an ego thing in the running community (I used to be one of those!). The question is, what purpose does it serve and should you be doing it?

 

I’m going put in a spoiler in right now – whilst results are often very individualised, I don’t recommend this for the runners I coach, and am not going to recommend you try it. Let me explain more…..

please note, I’m not a specialist in this field and the information below comes from recent and relevant articles and research, as well as my years of coaching runners. But each runner is individual and if you are serious about taking this further, please consult a well-qualified, experienced specialist. 


What is fasted running?

Scientific literature defines fasted training as not eating within 10-14 hours of a workout, so usually this would be an AM run. It’s an idea that has been around a long time and many runners swear by it.

Why has running fasted become popular? 

There are a few drivers behind this, but the main two seem to be weight loss, and increased utilisation of fat as an energy supply (for endurance running).

 1.  Weight loss:
It seems obvious – run without eating and you’ll have to burn your body fat – sounds wonderful! Sadly, it’s not that simple. Yes, you will increase the percentage of fat you burn when you run if you run fasted, but the primary source of fat burned during exercise isn’t the belly fat you’d like to use, but intramuscular fat. There are other negatives too… it increases the amount of protein you break down (in a non-fasted state, protein contributes approx 5% of your energy requirements for endurance training, but in a fasted state it’s doubled to around 10%). resulting in the breakdown of muscle tissue that can lead to a decrease in resting metabolic rate, a decrease in strength and an increase in injury risk.
Running fasted is also a major stressor on your body – it results in increased cortisol levels in the bloodstream, particularly in women, which promotes muscle breakdown, abdominal fat storage, higher fatigue and worse recovery. Not only that, but hard sessions are more effective when fuelled by glycogen, so you may burn more fat as a percentage, but your performance will suffer and you’ll burn less calories overall.

A number of studies have been done on fasted exercise for long term weight loss, and most found similar rates of weight loss in fasted and non-fasted participants, with little difference in body composition.  It just doesn’t seem to work. To meet weight loss goals, you’d definitely do better to fuel your runs. You’ll feel better, run better and nutritious fuel consumed during and immediately post workout is much more likely to be utilised for repair and recovery, rather than be stored where you don’t want it. Try and eat the exercise calories you have burned within a 1-2 hour window after working out. By doing this, it stops your body craving foods later in the day and you overeating and adding in more calories that you burned running.

 

2.  Increased fat utilisation as an energy source (and preserve glycogen in endurance runs e.g marathons / ultra marathons)
Again, this makes sense. Our glycogen stores are limited but we have much more energy in stored fat, even if you have a lower body weight. So relying on fat as a fuel for endurance events will preserve our glycogen stores and keep us running for longer. Research does indicate that training in a fasted state improves the ability to tap into fat stores sooner, and burns a higher percentage of fat during training sessions. But the caveats above still stand – it stresses the body, releasing cortisol, increasing protein breakdown and delaying recovery. As the brain is fuelled by glucose, it will also impact decision making as the race progresses. And the research is very clear on this – running on low carbohydrates will decrease your ability to hold a high intensity level if you plan on running fast.

 

3.  Other reasons: Convenience / it feels better / less digestion problems.
Running on a full stomach certainly doesn’t feel great. Most of us have also experienced runner’s tummy problems at some point or other. And not eating before a morning workout means 10 mins more in bed….
The best solution to stomach issues is to trial different foods to see what works (I have a client that can’t eat raisins for 3-4 hours before they run without getting an upset stomach, for example, but their friend always has them as a pre and during workout snack), and getting used to running with a little something in your stomach. It doesn’t have to be much. Stay near home whilst you try it, and preferably on an easy run! As for convenience, get out of bed ten minutes earlier and have something easier on your stomach. You’ll be fine!

 

 

Should I run fasted at all?
Well that’s all a bit doom and gloom for fasted running! But actually, short easy runs fasted won’t do any harm and you may feel good doing them. Generally, for easy effort runs of less than 60 minutes it is fine (but make sure you are well hydrated), but for harder or longer runs, a little sugar and protein goes a long way – it’ll boost energy, mental clarity and mood, allowing the body to better access energy sources and slow muscle breakdown. The general recommendation is around 150 cals, mostly simple carbs with some protein, but low fat and fibre. I use Mountain Fuel’s Morning Fuel for this (148 cals, some protein, mostly simple carbs) for convenience and easy digestion, but other ideas may include:

  • Half a protein shake with a banana or dates in for carbs (have the other half when you get back)
  • Instant porridge pots
  • Banana (maybe with a tablespoon of low fat Greek yoghurt)
  • Dates (a little peanut butter if you can stomach it)
  • Rice or potato balls
  • Nakd bar (or other similar dried fruit / nut bar)
  • Granola bar
  • A sports gel or chews
  • Half a white bagel or a slice of white toast with jam.

 

 

As with any new nutrition, try it out on an easier run close to home! And listen to your body. There’s lots of advice out here on the internet, but ultimately, we’re all individual and respond differently to different stimuli.

What about you….Have you discovered the secret to maintaining the ideal runners weight? Do you run fasted and love it?  Do you have the perfect pre run snack? Let us know….

 

Other useful resources:

MH Runners Club webinars on marathon training and nutrition https://www.mhhealthandfitness.co.uk/webinars/

MH Runners Club Ask the Coach sessions https://www.mhhealthandfitness.co.uk/mh-runners-club/

 

Join the Club at MH Runners Club

Do you want a personalised training plan?

Want to know more about running or personal training?

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

Email me at martinhulbertpt@gmail.com or contact me via Facebook Messenger

Martin Hulbert

Running Coach & Personal Trainer Leicestershire

MH Health and Fitness Online Community

www.facebook.com/mhhealthandfitness.co.uk

#MHrunners

 

The Importance of the Long Run

It’s that time in marathon training – the mileage of the long run is increasing, and runners seem to be divided like marmite. Some love and embrace the increasing distance, others see it as a chore to be ticked off each week. Which camp do you fall into? And do you really need to run long every week?

 

It actually doesn’t really matter what you’re training for, from 5k to marathon, if you’re a distance runner, you would most likely benefit from a regular long run. The long run is about getting you ready to perform – Robert Wallace, a 2.13 marathoner, says “They’re the mainstay of any training programme. You don’t get results immediately. It’s like saving pennies….  Over a year [the benefits] really accumulate.”

 

Why run long? 
Long runs improve running efficiency (teaching you to conserve energy and run as effortlessly as possible), and offer both psychological and physical benefits – cardiovascular improvements include increased mitochondria and capillaries, and recruitment of different muscle fibres. Long runs also strengthen your muscles, tendons and ligaments – all of these are beneficial for racing any distance, not just the marathon. But for the longer distances, it also provides a dress rehearsal for the race (breakfast, clothing, fuelling etc.), and a chance to build mental strength and confidence.

 

Run easy or run hard?
There are two main types of long run that you will come across.

Easy long runs – Hard long runs can be too taxing on a weekly basis. Running 60-90 mins slower than your marathon pace for a few hours reduces stress, makes the run more enjoyable and brings lots of aerobic endurance benefits. Running easy also gives you a chance to work on mental strategies such as dealing with boredom and building patience. It teaches you to make wise decisions and run more efficiently.

 

Long runs with pace segments – these are great for practicing race pace, improving your speed endurance and working on mental toughness but can really take it out of you so these shouldn’t be done every week. Varieties include progressive long runs, long runs containing intervals, long runs with a certain number of miles at marathon pace, or even a long run with a faster parkrun on the end!

 

The one type of run you don’t want to do is a full distance long run (over 14 miles) at marathon pace or faster. You may think this will build confidence and help you prepare, but actually you accumulate all the tiredness and fatigue of a paced long run, but without some of the key benefits. You will quickly find yourself over-trained and struggling to recover.

 

Do you need to do a long run every week? And how far?

Firstly, you shouldn’t do a long run every week. Once you get over a comfortable distance, often about 12-16 miles, you should include a drop-back week every 3-4 weeks where you drop your distance by 25-50% to give your body a chance to recover (remember, adaptations happen when you stress your body, but then allow it to recover). If you are particularly injury prone, you may want to consider running long every 10 days or every 2 weeks.

 

Distance depends on a number of factors, including your level of your experience and your goals. If you’re fairly new to a marathon for example you may benefit most from building up to one 20 miler, but my more experienced runners often do as many as six 20+ milers, going up to 23-24 miles (with the longer runs usually at an easy pace).

If you’re not marathon training, distance of the long run can be more flexible. Greg McMillan, well known running coach, suggests 90-120 minutes. Other coaches go by percentage of weekly mileage – where the long run doesn’t account for more than 25% of total mileage. Most coaches suggest including some pace in long runs for non-marathoners, e.g., a faster finish, depending on what distance you are doing.

 

How to get it right: 
1. Preparation is key. This includes fuelling well, before, during and after the run. Remember, anything over 90 minutes and you should be eating on the run.  According to Runners World columnist Joe Henderson “You need to keep your glycogen stores continuously high if you want to maintain training effectiveness”. i.e., you can run fasted, but you won’t get the same training benefits. Hydration is another one to consider – do you need water with you? Can you stash water along the route? Clothing (and Vaseline if you’re prone to chafing!) and safety also need some thought.
2. Don’t give headspace to negative thoughts. If you’re not enjoying your long runs, work out why. Bored? Find something you enjoy (new route, meet a friend half way, new playlist, audiobook or podcast etc. Sign up to a race or group run for added distraction.
3. Chunk it. Don’t think about the run as a whole thing…break it down and focus on one segment at a time, especially if you find the distance you are doing overwhelming. Consider having little rewards on route – walk break or jelly baby every mile, gels every few miles, ring a friend at half way etc. Try crossroads e.g. for 20 miles go 4 miles out and back, 3 miles out and back, 2 miles out and back and 1 mile out and back. This gives you a chance to focus on each segment as it happens rather than the whole distance.

 

There are downsides to running long. It is of course time consuming and running too long too often and you raise the risk of overtraining or injury. It’s also easy not to recover properly – you need to refuel and hydrate properly (regardless of appetite), rest and definitely no hard run for a couple of days after.

But, if you can, stay positive, embrace the long run and enjoy it. It’s a privilege to be able to complete these runs, whatever your pace. It puts you into a minority of the population and your achievements should be celebrated.

 

Do you love or hate the long run? How do you stay entertained on the run? What are your favourite routes, distances or types of long run? How do you prepare for your long runs? Please share any experiences or tips below!

 

Other useful resources:

MH Runners Club webinars on marathon training and nutritionhttps://www.mhhealthandfitness.co.uk/webinars/

Runner’s World article giving a table of possible long run distances for non-marathoners:https://www.runnersworld.com/advanced/a20794978/why-non-marathoners-still-need-long-runs/

My blogs on carb loadinghttps://www.mhhealthandfitness.co.uk/fuelling-a-marathon-carb-loading-and-race-day-nutrition/

And how to recover from a marathonhttps://www.mhhealthandfitness.co.uk/how-to-recover-from-a-marathon/

MH Runners Coaching Tip on Post Run / Race fuelling https://www.mhhealthandfitness.co.uk/coaching-tip-post-run-and-race-fuelling/

 

 

Do you want a personalised training plan?

Want to know more about running or personal training?

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

Email me at martinhulbertpt@gmail.com or contact me via Facebook Messenger

Martin Hulbert

Running Coach & Personal Trainer Leicestershire

MH Health and Fitness Online Community

www.facebook.com/mhhealthandfitness.co.uk

#MHrunners

Coaching Tip – Stretching!

Do you stretch at the end of a run or workout?

Our “what’s the first thing you do post run” theme on the Facebook daily thread recently was most revealing…only two of you mentioned stretching after you run! You’re not alone, stretching is often seen as optional, or done separately as a discrete workout rather than post run (yoga, Pilates, rest-day stretch etc)….but just a few spare minutes a day can make a big difference.

 

Why bother to stretch after a run or workout?

Running is a repetitive movement. It forces your muscles into set positions, creating tension and changing their length over time. Our modern lifestyles add to this – forcing the shortening of some muscles over extended periods of time… sitting at desks, driving etc. Stretching helps release the tension in the muscle and return it to its original length. It can reduce the risk of injury (evidence is a little mixed on this), increase mobility / range of motion, increase flexibility, and promote blood flow to the local area (therefore aiding recovery).

 

 

How to get started in less than a minute a day…

The benefits of a post-run stretch are generally well accepted, the problem is actually getting round to doing it – working out a routine and making it a habit. Here’s some ideas on how to make it practical and make it stick:

  1. Work out the main muscle groups you want to stretch, test out different stretches and stick to ones that are quick and give you maximum benefit. (I’ve focused on hamstrings, adductors, quads and hip flexors in this short video, but you may find your calves or glutes get tight too and may want specific stretches for them).
  2. Keep it really easy to do – the harder or longer you make the stretching session, at least to start with, the less likely you are to stick with it. If you did these four exercises and held the stretch for 15-20 seconds, you would be stretching for just over a minute.
  3. Habits are easier to stick to if you tie them to a trigger. Post run is perfect, get in a door, head straight to your space and do it. Stick a post it note up with the stretches you want to do so you don’t need to look them up.

 

 

Your challenge this week is to do a minimum of two of the four stretches in this video  after EVERY run this week (easy effort ones too!). Put a reminder somewhere so you don’t forget, and let us know how you get on. Share any alternative or favourite stretches you have below.

 

 Safety notes:

– If you already have a cool down / stretch routine, this is not designed to replace it. This is for runners who don’t currently do anything post run except check Strava / eat / jump into the shower (please note, feel free to check Strava / eat whilst doing these but the risk of slipping whilst trying to contort yourself in the shower is quite high…)

– Breathe! Don’t hold your breath whilst you stretch. Breathing is good.

– If it hurts stop! If the muscle is tight, ease off slightly and then repeat more gently, but if it actually causes pain, do not continue. You should be able to feel tension in the muscle that you can hold for 15-20s without pain.

 

– I am talking about static stretching here. Don’t do static stretching pre run (it elongates the muscle so increases risk of injury) and don’t bounce when you static stretch – it doesn’t change the stretch and increases risk of injury.

 

If you enjoy this, try some of these:

More stretches for runners: https://www.nhs.uk/…/exercise/how-to-stretch-after-a-run/ (this has quite a nice calf, ITB and glute stretch you could include in your routine)

More info about stretching post-run: https://www.health.harvard.edu/…/the-importance-of…

For more info on creating and sticking to new habits, try this podcast: https://drchatterjee.com/how-to-build-good-habits-and…/

 

 

I hope that you can take something away from this blog. I would love to hear your thoughts and I’ve set up a very supportive free Facebook Community where like-minded people can share their experiences of life and exercising. Please feel free to join and invite others you know who may be interested.

 

I also have a Facebook Club for runners where I post two weekly workout videos, host a live weekly Ask The Coach question and answer session plus a monthly live webinar on a host of running related topics.  This is ideal for those who use free plans but want to have access to a coach and ongoing information.  You can find more information and join here.

 

Do you want a personalised training plan?

Want to know more about running or personal training?

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

Email me at martinhulbertpt@gmail.com or contact me via Facebook Messenger

Martin Hulbert

Running Coach & Personal Trainer Leicestershire

MH Health and Fitness Online Community

www.facebook.com/mhhealthandfitness.co.uk

#MHrunners

 

Coaching Focus: Breathing

Following on from a recent Q&A, this week’s coaching focus is breathing. Firstly, to be clear, it *is* a good idea to breath whilst running… Not doing so can cause significant harm! But seriously, improving your breathing is seen as a possible way of increasing oxygen uptake and decreasing the risk of side stitches and cramps, as well as reducing stress before or during a hard run or race.

 

This week, why not think about your breathing whilst you run? Do you follow a particular breathing pattern? Have you tried different breathing techniques? Pick a run this week, focus on how you breathe, and maybe try one of the changes suggested below.

 

Baseline

Start your usual run. When you’re warmed up and a little way in, count how many steps it takes to inhale and exhale. You’re not looking for a particular number, this is just to give you a baseline of how you currently breathe. Then try one or more of the techniques below, or play with your breathing pattern in your own way, and see which feels more comfortable to you. You can also play with deep breathing drills to improve your oxygen intake before or after running, and relaxation breathing techniques to relax before a hard run or race.

  1. Nasal breathing: This is useful for checking you are running at a very easy effort. Oxygen intake is restricted so it’s ideal for stopping you running too hard. One to try on a very easy effort run.
  2. Match your breathing to your cadence: breathe in on each left foot strike and out on the right. Or breathe in on left foot strike and out on the next left foot strike. Which pattern feels better to you?
  3. Try a different breathing pattern. Alter your breathing so you breathe in for more foot strikes than you breathe out e.g. 3:2 – breathe in for three foot strikes and out for 2, or a 2:1 pattern.
  4. Try using breathing to reduce your heart rate whilst running easy. If you feel your heart rate rising, slow down. Then breath in slowly for a count of three steps and release. Repeat 2-3 times, and note your heart rate at the start and the end.

 

Please don’t take this too seriously and if you find that something doesn’t work for you try something else. The main thing with breathing while running is to find something that you feel works for you and that feels natural. Whilst these techniques can help some, for others, one of the worst things would be to have to think about breathing whilst running.

 

Have fun and enjoy this – and don’t forget to post below to let me know what you are planning to do and how you get on.

 

I hope that you can take something away from this blog. I would love to hear your thoughts and I’ve set up a very supportive free Facebook Community where like-minded people can share their experiences of life and exercising. Please feel free to join and invite others you know who may be interested.

 

I also have a Facebook Club for runners where I post two weekly workout videos, host a live weekly Ask The Coach question and answer session plus a monthly live webinar on a host of running related topics.  This is ideal for those who use free plans but want to have access to a coach and ongoing information.  You can find more information and join here.

 

Do you want a personalised training plan?

Want to know more about running or personal training?

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

Email me at martinhulbertpt@gmail.com or contact me via Facebook Messenger

Martin Hulbert

Running Coach & Personal Trainer Leicestershire

MH Health and Fitness Online Community

www.facebook.com/mhhealthandfitness.co.uk

#MHrunners

 

Coaching Tip: Post Run and Race Fuelling

This week’s coaching tip is about post-run or race fuelling. This is a really important process and something a lot of runners get wrong. All runs need some sort of post race fuel. For shorter, easier runs, this may just be your next meal e.g breakfast containing carbs, protein and fat if you’ve done a morning run. But for anything hard or over an hour, post run fuelling should be planned in advance to satisfy your body’s needs so that it can rebuild / repair and cravings don’t take over later!

 

Good recovery fuel should have a mixture of carbs and protein in a 3 or 4:1 ratio – that is 3-4g carbs for every gram of protein. It used to be accepted wisdom that the best window for refuelling was within 30 mins of the workout, and although this has been contested by recent research, it won’t do any harm to aim for that, and for women it’s thought to be more important to refuel sooner rather than later. If you are not planning to have a meal in that time, have a snack immediately after and aim to have your next meal within 2 hours post run.

 

Here’s just a few ideas to to get you started:

  • a formulated recovery shake or bar (check the nutrition to make sure it has the right ratio)
  • A protein shake with added carbs eg banana, dates, honey
  • Eggs on toast
  • Milk or a milky drink plus an egg sandwich or a peanut butter bagel (skimmed milk has slightly more carbs than full fat, check the nutritional info on plant milks)
  • Yoghurt, muesli, chopped banana and honey
  • Beans on toast

 

If you’re like me, eating always sounds easy, but the harder or longer your run, the more blood is diverted away from the stomach and the less hungry you’re likely to feel. This is a particular problem for some runners but if you learn to make refuelling a priority, you will recover faster and feel better. If it makes you feel slightly nauseous, take small bites of something you fancy and as blood returns to your stomach, your appetite should return too.

 

Don’t forget to hydrate as well – glycogen stores can’t be refilled without available water. An electrolyte drink such as High 5 zero is perfect for this.

 

This week, aim to plan recovery fuel for any run over an hour, or a harder session such as tempo or intervals, and share below what you plan to use to recover.

 

This really is an easy win that ALL athletes should take seriously! And don’t forget to ask any questions you have here or in the weekly “ask the coach” live sessions

 

Other resources on this that you may find useful include:

MH Runner’s recent webinar on Nutrition for Runners

My blog on recovering from a marathon: https://www.mhhealthandfitness.co.uk/how-to-recover-from…/

 

I hope that you can take something away from this blog. I would love to hear your thoughts and I’ve set up a very supportive free Facebook Community where like-minded people can share their experiences of life and exercising. Please feel free to join and invite others you know who may be interested.

 

I also have a Facebook Club for runners where I post two weekly workout videos, host a live weekly Ask The Coach question and answer session plus a monthly live webinar on a host of running related topics.  This is ideal for those who use free plans but want to have access to a coach and ongoing information.  You can find more information and join here.

 

Do you want a personalised training plan?

Want to know more about running or personal training?

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

Email me at martinhulbertpt@gmail.com or contact me via Facebook Messenger

Martin Hulbert

Running Coach & Personal Trainer Leicestershire

MH Health and Fitness Online Community

www.facebook.com/mhhealthandfitness.co.uk

#MHrunners

 

Coaching tip – Cadence. Is higher better?

Most runners have heard of cadence (the number of steps you take in a minute), and will have an idea that 180 is what they should be aiming for. This originates from coach Jack Daniels’ research into elite runners, and has been popularised over time. But are we worrying unnecessarily if we don’t fit the perfect criteria?

 

Why focus on cadence?

Cadence is probably the easiest metric to measure and control, especially if you have a running watch, which is one reason why it gets so much attention. It’s thought that optimising cadence can not only speed us up (running speed is the product of cadence (stride frequency) and stride length. Increase your stride frequency (cadence) and/or your stride length and you run faster), but also can improve form and change landing to mid foot, which in turn decreases injury risk. A recent study, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that slight increases in stride cadence led to significant reductions in loading on the knee and hip joints, which, they hypothesise, might help prevent some of the most prevalent running injuries.

 

However, the often quoted 180 spm was an average cadence, so at times, these elite runners will have been running at a faster or slower cadence, rather than a metronomic 180. Your cadence will (and should) vary over time depending on a number of factors – what pace are you running at? At marathon pace, your cadence should be slower than when racing a 5k. Cadence also varies with leg length, height and terrain – trickier terrain like rough trails results in a higher cadence as you will be more stable, for example.

 

And some runners are just outliers – they don’t fit the formula. Take the famous Jim Walmsley, who despite beautiful form, ran 12 seconds slower than the world record for 100k with an average cadence of 161! https://www.strava.com/activities/4670542009/overview. It’d take a brave coach to mess with that! Some sources also quote Kipchoge as running his record-shattering marathons at cadences that were almost always between 190 and 200 steps per minute (spm), well over the recommended 180 spm. Again, I’m not sure I’d be trying to changing his cadence to fit a formula.

 

So what does this mean for us?

We often get stuck into a habit, such as cadence, that our body is used to and has become efficient at, but may not be optimum, so this may be worth investigating if you want to try something new. If your cadence is lower than 180, speeding up foot turnover may speed you up – to a point. (Of course, it may actually be detrimental if it decreases your stride length or if your cadence is already high, so don’t just assume more is better). Whilst I’m certainly not encouraging you to aim for a “magic” number, it is worth experimenting and getting to know yourself better. Your your task this week, then is to

– Note your current cadence (either by counting foot fall for 30s and multiplying by 2, or by using your watch)

– Play with increasing your cadence on one of your easy runs. Does increasing your cadence speed you up? Make your run easier? Improve your form? If so, focus on practising it. If not, put it out of your mind. There may be easier wins.

 

How to increase your cadence:

There are a number of ways to increase cadence:

– Use high beat music

– Use a metronome app

– Swing your arms faster to move your feet faster (see resources below)

– Simply repeat “fast feet” to yourself over and over again whilst running, and observe what happens.

 

How do you feel? Do you speed up? Do you feel comfortable, or do your feet pitter patter (a sign you may have shortened your stride length too much?). Make a note of this self experiment and let us know how it goes. Have you worked on cadence before? Did it make a difference? Share your thoughts on this topic with us below.

 

Some useful resources:

Increasing cadence through arm movement: Form video 2 https://www.facebook.com/groups/mhrunnersclub/permalink/936237400507241/

Should I increase my cadence: Q&A session with Martin on 1st April, Question 1 https://www.facebook.com/groups/mhrunnersclub/permalink/923606095103705/

Great article on why we may be overthinking cadence:

https://www.outsideonline.com/…/stop-overthinking-your…

If you decide you want to increase cadence, McMillan website has a good workout to use to help you: https://www.mcmillanrunning.com/cadence/

 

I hope that you can take something away from this blog. I would love to hear your thoughts and I’ve set up a very supportive free Facebook Community where like-minded people can share their experiences of life and exercising. Please feel free to join and invite others you know who may be interested.

 

I also have a Facebook Club for runners where I post two weekly workout videos, host a live weekly Ask The Coach question and answer session plus a monthly live webinar on a host of running related topics.  This is ideal for those who use free plans but want to have access to a coach and ongoing information.  You can find more information and join here.

 

Do you want a personalised training plan?

Want to know more about running or personal training?

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

Email me at martinhulbertpt@gmail.com or contact me via Facebook Messenger

Martin Hulbert

Running Coach & Personal Trainer Leicestershire

MH Health and Fitness Online Community

www.facebook.com/mhhealthandfitness.co.uk

#MHrunners

Coaching Tip: Rest Days

This week’s coaching tip is on making the most of your rest days.
Rest or recovery days are important – you’ve probably heard the saying that training benefits don’t happen when you train, they happen in the downtime you take in between harder sessions. Recovering is essential to becoming a stronger runner, and provides a mental break as well.
How many rest or recovery days you take depends on many different factors and is much art as science (you knew there was a reason for getting a coach!). Some of these factors may include: your current mileage; your goals; your age; your history of injury; if you’re recovering from a race etc. But as a runner, you should take your recovery days as seriously as your running to avoid overtraining and potential injury. Here are some top tips:
1. Avoid strenuous exercise! Sounds obvious but the point of a recovery day is to make sure you don’t do anything that will contribute to muscle breakdown and therefore prevent full recovery (cross-training and strength work springs to mind here, but a lot of runners also use rest days for gardening or DIY, which can lead to poor muscle recovery). Limit yourself to gentle exercise that will facilitate your recovery such as walking, swimming, yoga, or a little stretching and foam rolling. Light, gentle movement may stop you feeling sluggish, but make sure you don’t overdo it – this is not an opportunity to top up your overall walking mileage!
2. Make the most of the time off – a lie in if you are a morning runner, or an early night for an evening runner will also boost recovery. Enjoy it and take a mental as well as physical break.
3. Feed your body well. Rest days are good opportunities to spend a little more time preparing nutritious food that will aid recovery. It’s useful time to refuel and replenish your glycogen stores too.
4. Whilst most rest days are scheduled, if you feel fatigued, don’t be afraid to take an extra one or replace a harder run with very easy effort. Some women also find they benefit from an extra rest day or two just before, or during their period. Workouts feel harder due to high hormone levels so this can help balance your training and body needs better.
Remember – feeling full of energy is not an excuse to skip a rest day! You rest so you feel energetic. Taking planned rest days on a regular basis will prevent the need for prolonged time out due to injury or burnout. Running should boost your energy, not leave you tired and fatigued all the time.
How often do you take a rest day?
Any top tips?
Let us know what you get up to and if it helps or hinders recovery!
If you want to find out more, this is a good read on the importance of rest days.

I hope that you can take something away from this blog. I would love to hear your thoughts and I’ve set up a very supportive free Facebook Community where like-minded people can share their experiences of life and exercising. Please feel free to join and invite others you know who may be interested.

 

I also have a Facebook Club for runners where I post two weekly workout videos, host a live weekly Ask The Coach question and answer session plus a monthly live webinar on a host of running related topics.  This is ideal for those who use free plans but want to have access to a coach and ongoing information.  You can find more information and join here.

 

Do you want a personalised training plan?

Want to know more about running or personal training?

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

Email me at martinhulbertpt@gmail.com or contact me via Facebook Messenger

Martin Hulbert

Running Coach & Personal Trainer Leicestershire

MH Health and Fitness Online Community

www.facebook.com/mhhealthandfitness.co.uk

#MHrunners

Coaching Tip: Balance

This week’s coaching tip is on balance. It’s something you probably already focus on if you are a member of the club if you do the Wednesday workouts. These workouts focus on single leg exercises, which of course will work on your balance too. When runners do strength work, they often neglect balance as many balance exercises don’t give obvious strength or aerobic benefits. BUT, they are really important, especially as we age and our balance deteriorates.
Why is balance important to runners?
Running is a series of thousands of alternate single leg hops, which rely on balance and coordination. According to a top physiotherapist, the top 3 most common running injuries that don’t relate to overuse, relate to balance: anterior knee pain, iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome and ankle sprains. They are connected to small movement deviations related to balance and control. A tiny amount of instability can be magnified over all those thousands of steps and lead to injury.
How to improve your balance:
Your first task is to assess how good your balance is at the moment. Do this by:
1. Try to balance on each leg for 30 seconds with your eyes open. Make sure you have good form for this: activate your glute on the grounded leg, keep your hips neutral by drawing in your belly button, bring your knee up to a 90 degree angle, keep your shoulders back and head facing forwards.
2. Now repeat with your eyes closed and see how long you can do it for.
Don’t be alarmed if one leg is worse than the other!
Once you’ve assessed your balance, you can now work on improving it.
This week, your challenge is to pick three balancing exercises that you are going to repeat on a regular basis (every second day will work well). I recommend the single leg arabesque, the split squat (also known as a static lunge) and a single leg hop and hold, but any three balancing exercises will do. You can find loads of variations in the Wednesday workout videos. Try to pick exercises that you don’t already find easy. You can see the hop and hold and arabesque demonstrated in workout video 26 in the MH Runner Club group.
On top of this, it really helps if you get into the routine of fitting balance work into your every day life, for example: stand on one leg and mobilise your raised ankle whilst brushing your teeth, or do single leg calf raises whilst waiting for the kettle to boil.
At the end of the week, repeat the balance test and let us know how you got on. And if you have any favourite balancing exercises, please share below.
Good luck and enjoy!

I hope that you can take something away from this blog. I would love to hear your thoughts and I’ve set up a very supportive free Facebook Community where like-minded people can share their experiences of life and exercising. Please feel free to join and invite others you know who may be interested.

 

I also have a Facebook Club for runners where I post two weekly workout videos, host a live weekly Ask The Coach question and answer session plus a monthly live webinar on a host of running related topics.  This is ideal for those who use free plans but want to have access to a coach and ongoing information.  You can find more information and join here.

 

Do you want a personalised training plan?

Want to know more about running or personal training?

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

Email me at martinhulbertpt@gmail.com or contact me via Facebook Messenger

Martin Hulbert

Running Coach & Personal Trainer Leicestershire

MH Health and Fitness Online Community

www.facebook.com/mhhealthandfitness.co.uk

#MHrunners

Coaching tip: Running in the heat

Do you run, sweat, suffer and complain? Bask in the heat? Or cancel your run altogether?
The good news is that you body temperature can safely rise a little without much consequence according to experts, and humans have mechanisms like the evaporative cooling of sweat to help them stay safe. But there are precautions you should take when running in heat, especially if you haven’t yet acclimatised, like those listed below. Don’t forget, the further or harder you plan to run, the more diligent you need to be about staying cool.
  • Go out when its cooler – early morning is cooler than late at night, but wherever possible don’t go out in the middle of the day.
  • Adjust your pace – go by effort and don’t worry if you are as much as 30-60s slower per mile. By running slower you reduce the amount of heat your body produces as you run and you can then run for longer.
  • Shorten your run if needed – especially if its humid as humidity impedes the sweat process so you don’t cool as efficiently.
  • Don’t forget the sun protection – sun cream or block, a visor or sunglasses to protect your eyes, too.
  • Keep hydrated, and replace electrolytes – before and during your run, drink little and often, especially if you are a salty sweater (if your dog licks your legs after a run, that’s you!). If you don’t want to carry water when you run, plan a looped route and hide some in nearby bushes etc.
  • Plan your route carefully – Try and run as much in the shade as possible. Running in the sun will increase your core temperature, not only because it is hot, but its rays bounce back at you from surfaces. Trail running in wooded areas are great for this.
  • Vaseline is your friend! If you are going long and will sweat, make sure you put Vaseline or body glide on parts likely to chafe.
  • Dress appropriately – light, sweat wicking clothes, and wear a buff round your wrist to wipe your face down. This helps with the sweat wicking process, stops sweat and sun cream getting in your eyes and makes you feel a tad less disgusting if you run into a friend…. Wetting a buff and putting it round your neck and head may also help.
  • If it is a long hot spell, go out regularly to help your body adapt to the heat. This isn’t a quick process, but you will acclimatise over time.
  • Rehydrate after your run with water and electrolytes. Read the coaching tip on hydration to help you calculate your sweat rate and know that you are getting enough fluid back in.
As for cancelling your run, there’s rarely any need in the UK and you can run on most hot days with a little common sense. Although if you are looking for an excuse, the American College of Sports medicine advises running event cancellations at 27c (82F), and a 2010 US study was even more conservative, advising the cancellation of large marathons at 22c (72F). On the other hand, Badwater, the 153 mile ultramarathon in California’s Death Valley, that takes place in temperatures of up to 53c and will melt the soles of your running shoes, started on 19th July. Just be glad you’re not there!
Enjoy the summer, and don’t worry, we’ll soon be able to complain that its rainy, dark and cold when we run…
If you have any advice for your fellow runners out in the heat, please do share.

I hope that you can take something away from this blog. I would love to hear your thoughts and I’ve set up a very supportive free Facebook Community where like-minded people can share their experiences of life and exercising. Please feel free to join and invite others you know who may be interested.

 

I also have a Facebook Club for runners where I post two weekly workout videos, host a live weekly Ask The Coach question and answer session plus a monthly live webinar on a host of running related topics.  This is ideal for those who use free plans but want to have access to a coach and ongoing information.  You can find more information and join here.

 

Do you want a personalised training plan?

Want to know more about running or personal training?

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

Email me at martinhulbertpt@gmail.com or contact me via Facebook Messenger

Martin Hulbert

Running Coach & Personal Trainer Leicestershire

MH Health and Fitness Online Community

www.facebook.com/mhhealthandfitness.co.uk

#MHrunners

How To Choose The Best Training Plan

A training plan is much like a diet plan.  If you stick to it, it will work. The big question is “can you stick to it”?

 

If you type ‘running training plans’ into a search engine, you will be greeted by pages of different plans. There will be free plans and plans that you have to pay for before downloading.  Most of these plans will be generic plans that are for a set timeframe and a set distance target. Each will be slightly different to the other, so how do you choose which one to follow? Which one is going to be the best one for you?

 

Firstly, you need to decide on a few things and I suggest writing these down.

What is your target? Is it to complete a certain distance? Is it to run a particular time or run at a certain pace?

What are your barriers to running?  This is important if you have a family or work to consider. What days of the week can you run and how long can you commit to each day?  Will you be able to run regularly without it causing issues at home or with work?  Work on minimum time and then anything else is a bonus.

Where are you with your running at the moment?  If you can currently run a 5k in 30 minutes, setting yourself a target on running 5k in 20 minutes within two months is unrealistic. Make it a challenge but be honest with yourself.

How injury prone are you?  If you often suffer injuries when you get to a distance of 10 miles, why is this and how will you cope when you need to run over this distance?  Do you also need a strength or mobility plan to supplement your running?

 

Once you have all of these things in front of you then you can be more specific with your searches.  For example, if you want to complete your first marathon, search for “beginner marathon training plans”. If you are looking to run under 40 minutes for a 10k then search for a “sub-40 10k plan”.

 

The next step is to download a load of plans. Work back from your race or target date and look at what mileage the plan would have you doing now (or at the start).  Is that realistic for you? If you can run 5 miles at the moment and the plan says you have to run 10 miles next week then it is not right for you (delete it!). Does the plan fit in with your life and the days you can commit to? If not, can the runs be moved to fit without changing the structure of the plan?  If not, delete it!  You will hopefully end up with at least one plan that looks right for you.

 

The next thing to do is make sure you understand the words on the plan and how you do it. For example, on Facebook I saw a question a runner had with a run on their plan. The run was “Tempo 3 miles 2×8 on4’ “.  She had no idea what that meant and the answers she got varied from “3 miles warm up and then 2 x 8minutes at tempo pace with 4 minutes recovery” to “2 x 8 minutes at 4 min mile pace which should be 3 miles”.   You can see how people would get confused. If you do not understand the plan then it is not for you (delete it!).

 

Can you mix and match plans?  This is possible if you know what you are doing and that the changes you make to each doesn’t render it useless for your targets. Training plans are written to get harder over the course of the plan to enable you to be at your fittest or fastest on race day.  If you change the balance of the plan it may be that you do too many miles or too much speedwork, for example, and get injured, or too few and you don’t make the improvements you want.

 

The final thing to think about is what will you do if you get ill or injured.  Most improvements are made after training for a minimum of 8 weeks but realistically the longer your training plan the better.  That means that if your plan covers 16-20 weeks and you suffer an illness or injury and have to miss two weeks of training, how do you then adapt your plan?  Do you start back at where you were and hope you can catch up later, or ignore the weeks you’ve missed and start back to where you would’ve been had you carried on?  Get this wrong and you will be overreaching with where you start back from or trying to adapt your plan later by making bigger jumps in the mileage that the plan was designed for.  This can have a negative effect on your confidence and increase the risk of injury.

 

There is another way, a personalised option.  Most runners, from a novice to someone aiming for a sub-3 marathon or quicker, will benefit from having a coach.  A coach will write a training plan personalised around your lifestyle that will take you safely from where you are to where you want to be. The plan should be easy to understand and if not, the coach should be able to clarify the run before you do it. The plans should only be written on a shorter-term basis, usually monthly and be adapted by the coach when needed.  Want to run with friends? No problem.  Can’t run today?  Just a small tweak to the rest of the week and all is ok.  Doing better than you thought? The goals can be adjusted as you go along.  Last minute race you want to enter?  A quick change of the plan and advice on how to run the race and it all works.

 

For a small outlay per month all of the time and effort that you invest in training and improving yourself can be used far more efficiently and effectively.  A good coach will provide you with feedback as your progress, so that you know how you are doing and not guessing by looking at a piece of paper with a load of runs on it. A good coach should also act as a sounding board, mentor and be there to hold you accountable.

 

It can be a scary thought if you’ve never considered working with a coach. A lot of runners don’t believe a coach would want to coach someone like them.  Maybe you’re a novice, maybe you think you’re too slow, maybe you don’t have a specific target race?  I have coached a very wide range of runners to meet their personal goals – including to ‘complete’ a marathon, to run under 3 hours for a marathon, to run their first 5k, to run a 5k under 16 minutes and a 60 year old to complete a 24 hour race.  More importantly, I’ve helped a lot of people to keep running and improving through lockdowns, even without the focus of races.

 

Remember, the best running plan for you is one that you will stick to. It is that simple; if it fits around your life and you can follow it consistently you will improve.

 

Please have a conversation with a coach before you commit and pay any money. All good coaches should offer this as they will be confident that having that conversation will reassure you of what they can offer you.  Make sure you feel comfortable with them as a person and what they are offering is what you want.  Find out what other clients think about the coach.   Here are a few reviews from my own clients who have benefited from my personalised coaching approach:

 

“Thank you Martin. Without your support and advice I wouldn’t have achieved my dream of running a marathon, and running it all, no stopping or walking. I’m still on cloud nine!”

 

“I enlisted the help of Martin to write me a training plan for running the London Marathon. I had a conversation with Martin about where I was with my fitness, my aims and end goals for the marathon and my availability for training days.  Once I commenced my training plan, every month I received a tailored program for the month ahead. From my feedback on each training session, and by reviewing my Strava, I received weekly detailed feedback from Martin which was a great aide for keeping me motivated during the training. Martin was available for extra questions and support whenever I needed it.   Thanks to the training program written, I was achieving PBs at races throughout my training as well as achieving my end target of completing the London Marathon in a time that I never thought was achievable for me.  Martin is a great trainer with a brilliant insight in to racing at all distances. His personal approach makes it worth every penny.”

 

“I had a strange idea that I might be able to achieve a Good For Age time at Vienna Marathon and Martin gave me the belief, the tools and the confidence (not to mention the speed) to not only achieve that time, but smash it by 9 minutes.  He understands that my time to train is limited, given my busy family and work schedule and the training plan was entirely suited to meet these needs.  He helped me through an injury that laid me out for 3 weeks, despite my confidence crisis and insistence that it would stop me achieving my goal.  A genuinely nice guy, really supports you and understands what is going on in your head as well as your legs. And really wants you to do well.  Thank you Martin, you helped me achieve what I didn’t really think I could – and got me to enjoy it at the same time.”

 

“Can’t recommend Martin as a running coach highly enough! I’ve been training with him (virtually rather than in person) for just 5 months and have a new PB at every distance including nearly 40 minutes off my marathon time.  I’m officially faster in my 40s that I was in my 20s, and I enjoy running so much more now.  Everything he advises me is evidence based, he can explain reasons behind his training programs and always has a good answer to my endless questions.  Truly life changing – thank you Martin”

 

 

I hope that you can take something away from this blog. I would love to hear your thoughts and I’ve set up a very supportive free Facebook Community where like-minded people can share their experiences of life and exercising. Please feel free to join and invite others you know who may be interested.

 

I also have a Facebook Club for runners where I post two weekly workout videos, host a live weekly Ask The Coach question and answer session plus a monthly live webinar on a host of running related topics.  This is ideal for those who use free plans but want to have access to a coach and ongoing information.  You can find more information and join here.

 

Do you want a personalised training plan?

Want to know more about running or personal training?

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

Email me at martinhulbertpt@gmail.com or contact me via Facebook Messenger

Martin Hulbert

Running Coach & Personal Trainer Leicestershire

MH Health and Fitness Online Community

www.facebook.com/mhhealthandfitness.co.uk

#MHrunners