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Why coaches love fartleks…

The word may make non-runners giggle, but the best distance runners in the world do fartlek workouts regularly, and so should you. Here’s why…

The word fartlek is Swedish for speedplay, and that’s what it is – literally playing around with speed. It is an unstructured (or semi-structured) continuous run where periods of different speeds are mixed in. You can make it as simple, or as complex as you wish, and therein lies some of the fun. It’s a relaxed, fun and varied way of bringing speed training into your running.

 

There are lots of ways of doing fartleks (see the list below for some ideas to try out) and each brings benefits. The purpose may be to build speed, or endurance, or getting your legs turning over faster pre race, or making neuromuscular connections – the benefits are numerous and will depend on what speed and distance you do your faster paces at. Fartlek leaves a lot of control to the runner – you can choose paces and distances for your efforts, without necessarily having a detailed structure. Unlike speed training on a track, it can be more representative of racing as you cover a variety of terrains, at a variety of training and unlike intervals, you don’t rest or recover fully between.

 

They are a great way to introduce faster running into your schedule without having specific pace targets to meet which can reduce pressure, especially for less experienced runners. Fartleks put the runner in control – feel good? Run the hard bit harder. Tired? Try running at 70-80% effort for the harder sections rather than 90%. Unlike so many of our runs nowadays, you can also ignore your watch and just run by feel, or by visual cue.

 

 

So how do you run Fartleks?
Whilst some of your run may be at easy effort, this is a workout, so warm up well (usually 1km-1mi easy effort) and then introduce some speedplay. Below are some workouts for you to try. Make sure you cool down and stretch after.

 

 

Fartleks by time.
If you’re running the faster segments by time, you can ignore pace and go by effort, rather than by numbers. Ignore the terrain, part of the beauty of fartlek runs is that they work on road, off road, on the flat or over hills.

Try one of these workouts:

  • One min fairly hard (70-80% effort) each half mile or km or mile, the rest of the distance easy. You can do this with 2 mins as well. If you’re feeling good, up the effort to 90%.

 

  • Alternating hard / easy effort over the course of your run e.g.
    1 min hard effort / 2 min easy effort
    2 min hard / 4 min easy.
    Or mix in some steady work such as 3 mins easy / 2 mins steady / 1 min hard.

 

  • “Mona” fartleks – a session used by distance runner Steve Moneghetti. Start with 10 min warm up then
    90s hard / 90s easy x 2
    60s hard / 60s easy x 4
    30s hard / 60s easy x 4
    15s hard / 15s easy x 4.
    Cool down.
    Vary your hard / easy paces depending on your target race. If you are going for short distances, take your easy very easy, and run the hard as hard as possible. If you are focused on longer distances, run steady rather than easy on the easy segments.

 

  • 6/5/4/3/2/1-min efforts, getting faster as you go through, with 90 secs easy or steady running between; or four sets of 3/2/1 mins, with 60-90 secs ‘off’ between the efforts and sets.

 

 

Fartleks by distance or other cue.
If you don’t want to worry about time, or want to run without looking at your watch, doing Fartleks by visual cue or distance is a great way to go. If you’re doing this, don’t worry about time, or pace. Go on effort, and enjoy!

Try some of these to get you started: 

  • Run easy for half a mile, steady for half a mile, hard for half a mile, drop back down to easy.

 

  • Use visual cues to run hard then easy e.g.
    Lamppost Fartleks – run hard to one lamppost, jog to the next. If you don’t live in a built up area, try running hard to a gate, easy to the next, or any other visual cue.
    Junction Fartleks – run hard to one road junction, easy to the next and repeat (don’t run hard across the road without looking!)

 

  • Hill fartleks – great hill training without the repeats, run a reasonably undulating route and every time you hit an uphill, run hard. Then take the downhills and flats at an easy effort.

 

  • Group Fartleks – run in a group. The first person decides on a time or visual cue to run hard to, then the next group member determines the length of the easy segment. Switch between all people in the group determining the pace and length of the next segment.

 

  • Audio cues – there are some great podcasts out there that provide audio cues for Fartleks. For example, the cross run podcast has beginner, intermediate and advanced fartlek podcasts you can listen to when running and give audio cues of when to change pace and what to.

 

 

Above all, Fartleks are there to be enjoyed. They should bring flexibility and freedom to your running whilst allowing you to experiment and practice at different paces. Get out there and enjoy!

Do you have a favourite fartlek run? Please let us know below.

 

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Want to know more about running or personal training?

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Martin Hulbert

Running Coach & Personal Trainer Leicestershire

MH Health and Fitness Online Community

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What is “Good For Age” and why does it matter?

Over the last week you may have seen a lot of Facebook posts about the London Marathon as emails have gone out offering “Good for Age” places. So what does this really mean, and why is it a goal for so many British runners?

 

 

There are three ways to get a place in the very oversubscribed London Marathon. The first stop for most runners is via the ballot. Applications for the ballot usually open for the following year straight after the race takes place, but with thousands of applicants per place, you may be lucky straight off, or you may be waiting years to be successful. A second route is to apply for a charity place and commit to raising a sum of money in order to run, usually ranging from £1500-£2500. This is hugely worthwhile – London Marathon fundraisers have raised over a billion pounds for charity since it was first run in 1982 – but is understandably a big commitment. The final method is to qualify by time. Your choice is to qualify as an elite runner (I wish!), a Championship runner, or with a Good For Age Place. Championship (champs) runners are competing in the British Marathon Championship competition. Current champs qualifying time is under 2h40mins for men and 3h14 for women – a very challenging time. The final time qualifying category is Good for Age (GFA). These are a set of times staggered by age, on the principle that achievable marathon times decline by age, so older runners can qualify with slower times. These times are still tough, but more accessible to amateur runners, so are popular with runners as a challenging goal to aim for, and a good way to get a coveted place in one of the World’s greatest marathons.

 

 

To qualify this way, you need have run a certified marathon in a qualifying time, within the qualification window and then submit the evidence. London Marathon publish full details on their website here: https://www.tcslondonmarathon.com/enter/how-to-enter/good-for-age-entry

 

Times and the qualifying window can vary from year to year, but for example, for a place in the 2022 London Marathon, a 48 year old male runner (now you know my age!) had to run 3h10mins and a 48 year old female 3h53 mins at a certified measured course between the 4th October 2020 and 3rd October 2021. They then would have submitted evidence of their time (often a web link to the marathon results), evidence of British nationality (photo of passport in my case) and evidence of UK residency (photo of a bill or bank statement showing address). The qualifying period for the 2023 London Marathon is currently open and closes on 7th August 2022. So if you think you can achieve a GFA time, make sure your marathon is within the qualifying period.

 

Why don’t women have to run as fast as men to qualify?
Women don’t run as fast as men over the marathon distance. However, the disparity between the times is larger than the percentage difference between elite male and elite female marathoners, and this is because London Marathon tries to get an equal number of male and female good for age runners. As there are less female applicants, the times are comparatively slower, a fact often bemoaned by male runners struggling to meet their faster time!

 

Does running within the time guarantee you a place?
Not always. London Marathon cap GFA places at 6000 (3000 men and 3000 women). If more than this apply, the cut off times will be raised evenly across the age categories, making it tougher to get in.

 

So how do I get fast enough to qualify?
That’s the hard bit. Very few runners are simply good enough, as shown by the amount of entrants above. Achieving a qualifying time generally means following a well-designed training programme consistently for 16-18 weeks, and for most runners, it will probably take more than one marathon cycle to achieve the goal. Using myself as an example, I first achieved a GFA place in my 4th marathon.  It may also take strength and conditioning work to help prevent injury, good recovery and looking after your nutrition. All of this is where a coach can come in useful – they can individualise your training to you so it fits around your life, keep you accountable and motivated, and of course, produce a plan that is personalised to get you to your goal as quickly as possible.

 

 

However you decide to get your place, and whatever your goal, very good luck – and drop me a line if you need any help getting there.

Will you be targeting a place in the next London Marathon? Have you managed to get a GFA? If so, do you have any tips for our members?

 

 

Join the Club at MH Runners Club

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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

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You can run faster! (Why you should talk to yourself in the third person when running)

You can run faster!  (Why you should talk to yourself in the third person when running)

Self talk is a massive thing in running. Everyone has an internal dialogue when they run, all those random thoughts that go through your head before and during the run or race. Elite athletes focus on exactly what, when and how to talk to themselves in order to keep going when the running gets tough, and so should you too.

The changes don’t need to be big. Simply focusing on using the term “you” instead of “I”, and keeping your internal chatter positive can have a surprising effect on your race times.

 

For example, according to research published by Bangor University in Wales, cyclists rode faster when they addressed themselves as “you” rather than “I” in self talk statements. The scientists had 16 men do 2 x 10km time trials on a static bike. During the first trial, they talked to themselves as “I” and in the second, they referred to themselves as “you”. In both cases, they kept the self talk positive (they were specifically taught how to convert negative self talk into positive self talk – which has proved to improve both endurance and speed).

The outcome? When using the term “you”, the cyclists were 2.2% faster (knocking 24s off the time trial on average), even though they rated their effort level as the same.

 

So why does this work?
It is thought that using the term “you” promotes distance from the situation (“self-distancing”) which means the athlete thinks more clearly about the run or race and makes better choices, effectively “taking on the perspective of a supportive onlooker” according to Noel Brick, a leading sports scientist.

 

And the best thing? Its not hard to do. It just requires a little preparation and quite a lot of practice.

 

How to improve your self-talk:
1. Awareness of your internal chatter is key. Think about how you talk to yourself when running gets tough. If you can, think of a time when a run went well – what were you saying to yourself at the time? And an example of when it didn’t – what phrases kept coming back to you?
2. Analyse the phrases you said to yourself. Were they positive (keep going, well done, etc), or negative (my legs hurt, I can’t do this)? Did you focus internally (how do I feel, is my breathing too hard?), or externally (just got to make it to that lamppost!)?
3. List the ones from your successful run. How can you adapt them to make them even more useful? Can you put them in the third person?
4. Review the ones from your negative run – can you turn these around to make them positive? Negative self talk is inevitable, but you need to have a ready response. (“I want to quit” “You can do this, just keep going to the next mile marker”).
5. Pick a few sentences that resonate with you. Perhaps focus them around come-backs to your most frequent negative thoughts. And note these down to try out on your next run. They should feel comfortable to use – if they make you smile, even better!
6. Above all, you must practice these. On easy runs, on hard training runs – or just over and over in your head. The more quickly you can produce these phrases and turn negative thoughts around, the more success you’ll have.

 

How aware are you of your self talk? Do you use key phrases? Do you talk to yourself in the third person when you run? Share your thoughts, ideas and tips below! 

 

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/MartinHulbertRunCoaching

#MHrunners

Cold weather running

Brrrr. It’s suddenly turned cold. This week has been the first week this autumn that I’ve had to layer up, and extra warmth was very welcome! As we hit temperatures near freezing, here’s some advice on making the most of the colder days…. It’s not all bad, you know, this morning was a lovely crisp cold morning with a beautiful sunrise! Please note – this advice is aimed at UK runners, running in more extreme temperatures requires specialist advice for your local area.

Dress differently.

Layer up – long sleeves and tights are a must when it gets colder, and you may want consider several layers (easy to remove if you get too warm), gloves and a hat. Don’t forget though, dress for 5 mins into your run, not the start, or you’ll be too hot.

The following are particularly useful (if not essential) to own as a winter runner:

  • Long sleeved technical base layer (thumb holes are great too!)
  • Running tights
  • Running gloves
  • Headband or hat
  • Windproof running jacket
  • Running socks (waterproof can be useful)
  • Running head torch or chest torch. An absolute essential for this time of year if you don’t always have pavements to run on and/or you run in the dark. Ask on the forums for advice here if you are in the market for a new one.
  • Reflective clothing. If you are running in the dark make sure at least some of your clothing is reflective. Not high vis – that’s great on dingy days but for night running, reflective is more important.
  • You may still need sun cream or sunblock if its very sunny out, despite the low temperature (unlikely in the UK, but just in case…)

 

Warm up well pre-run
It is definitely worth mobilising inside before your run to get your blood flowing. Try running up and down stairs (please be careful), running on the spot, skipping, leg swings, lunges, body weight squats etc. And if you are meeting friends to run, try not to warm up and then stand around in the cold waiting for them!

 

 

Be prepared for wind / rain / ice / snow etc….
If there’s a nasty chill on the wind, run into the wind on your way out, and with the wind behind you on the way back if that is possible. That way, the wind doesn’t blast you when you’re all sweaty. Or run behind someone bigger than you as a wind-break! If you are prone to dry skin, put some extra moisturiser, body glide or Vaseline on your cheeks and nose to prevent skin irritation.
If it is wet as well as cold out, make sure you have an immediate change of clothes, be prepared to shorten your run if you get cold. Consider waterproof jackets and waterproof socks to protect your feet.
Fortunately we only usually have a few days of ice or snow in the UK, so it may be time to consider using a treadmill – it’s often just not worth the injury risk (or consider investing in some Yaktrax which provide grip if you’re keen).

 

 

Be flexible with your pace and mileage
You may want to do two shorter runs rather than one longer one if you don’t want to be out too long in the cold weather. You may want to extend your warm up or run more miles at an easy pace. You may even want to resort to a treadmill in the warm! If you don’t have access to a treadmill and it’s too dangerous to run, you can substitute with other aerobic exercise – indoor cycling, the cross trainer, an aerobics class or YouTube HIIT workout for example

 

 

Stay hydrated.
It’s really easy to drink too little in the cold, you may feel like you’re not sweating and you don’t crave water like you do in the heat. But you can still dehydrate. Sip little and often.

 

 

Stay warm afterwards.
It is common for body temperature to plummet after you stop running and shivering to start. Reward yourself with a with a hot chocolate (great recovery drink) or a bowl of soup. Driving to your run? Take a thermos. A hot shower or bath will help, or if you are out and about, at very least, make sure you have a fresh change of clothes to hand. One of my clients has a heated throw she jumps under after a long run in the cold.

 

 

Finally, if cold weather running isn’t your thing… book a winter sun holiday and run somewhere warm!

 

Here’s some of the questions my clients have asked in the past:

 

Is it ever too cold to run?
No. Well, not according to James Cracknell who took part in the media dubbed “Coldest Race On Earth”, the Yukon Arctic Ultra (430 miles in temperatures below -50 degrees). But certainly, you shouldn’t face major issues in the UK. Although the coldest ever recorded temperature -27.2 degrees (recorded in 1995) may be a tad too chilly for your everyday runner, generally you’ll be fine as long as you dress appropriately (which means don’t overheat because you’re too bundled up either!), and it’s not icy. Ice and snow bring a much higher risk of injury than running in our usual winter cold.

 

What’s good about running in the cold?
You generally run faster! Less heat stress can often lower your perceived exertion. Your metabolism can be higher and you tend to burn more calories, and as we tend to eat more in the winter, that’s no bad thing! Some research suggests that running in the cold can boost your immune system, and it can also boost your mood, and help combat seasonal affective disorder (SAD). And it makes you feel like a badass!

 

Why do my lungs feel like they’re burning when I run in the cold?
The burning sensation actually comes from dry air. When you breathe in, your mouth, nasal cavity and windpipe work to warm up the air, so that cold air doesn’t actually reach your lungs. But if the air is particularly dry, it has to be humidified and that means taking moisture from your nose and throat. This makes them feel irritated. You can help reduce this feeling by putting a scarf or mask over your mouth to help moisten the air as its inhaled. Focus on taking longer more relaxed breaths and running easier. Make sure you have a good warm up to minimise the stress on your respiratory system.

 

I have exercise-induced asthma – is running in the cold a problem?
If you have asthma or other related breathing conditions, it isn’t ideal to breath in cold air, and definitely the switch between temperatures when you come indoors from the cold can make you feel worse. Make sure you have your inhaler to hand and consider wearing a neck scarf / buff over your mouth when you run so that the air is slightly warmer and moister when you inhale. Seek a doctors advice if this is a problem for you.

Do you enjoy running in the cold or are you a summer runner? Do you have any top tips for facing the colder weather? Please do share below!

 

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

Learning how to pace yourself – why data can only tell you so much and how you can learn to run by feel

With the advent of GPS watches that tell us anything and everything, is internally knowing your pace on the run, the art of a pacing by feel, completely lost? Have you ever gone out for a run or a race and agonised over whether you’re going too fast or too slow? Too hard or too easy for the distance or goals? And is over reliance on our watches responsible?

 

Runners of a certain age will remember the days before GPS watches where you would have to listen to your internal cues and gauge your run by feel and a Casio stopwatch. Of course, watches have their place, and they can definitely enhance your training as well as being a godsend for online coaches such as myself, but that doesn’t mean they know best.

 

It’s incredibly useful to have a feel for the different paces you run at. Of course, your easy or recovery runs should be done by feel (effort), and are a great time to practice, but this skill really comes into its own in races. You need to have a solid sense of the fastest pace you can sustain through the race distance and adjust as needed through the race. Relying exclusively on your watch can lead to problems, especially if you have a hilly course, lose GPS signal or have to get round other runners.

 

So how do you get a feeling for your pace?

 

Whatever run you are doing, you need to be able to tune in and recognise certain cues:

  1. Perceived effort. When out on your run, be aware of how you are feeling. Use a scale of 1-10 where 1 is lying on the sofa, 2-3 is a gentle walk. Easy runs should be 4-5, and thresholds 6-8. When you get home note the perceived effort of a workout before you look at the data.
  2. Breathing rate. Think and feel how many steps you’re taking when breathing. Can you talk whilst you run? In full sentences, part sentences or barely at all? Can you sing along to your music? Can you hear your breathing? How heavy does it sound?
  3. Foot strike rhythm. As you increase in pace you will usually increase your cadence (steps per minute) as well. Faster paces or harder efforts mean your foot makes a different sound. Note this sound for different paces.
  4. Running form: As you run at any speed or intensity, think about how your body feels. Think about how your feet feel hitting the floor, how your legs feel at different paces, how you use your arms and how you hold your core. What differences do you feel as your speed or intensity changes? Can you remain relaxed or do you tense at a certain speed and your form starts to suffer?

 

One or more of these methods may work for you – you don’t need to use all of them, but have a play and choose what works best. Most important is consistency of practice. Don’t expect to know your pace to the second from day 1.

 

Certain types of runs lend themselves well to identifying these cues and relating them to paces:

 

Easy effort runs. 
These are a great time to practice running to feel. As your easy run should be done on effort and has nothing to do with speed or pace, cover your watch and note how you feel, your breathing, your foot strike.

 

Progressive runs, fartleks and intervals 

These change pace at set intervals so are great way to get used to how different paces feel. As you change pace, you can note how it feels and adjust your effort.

 

Miles at a set pace e.g. marathon pace

This gives you a chunk of mileage at one pace that you want to get used to the feel of. Try a three to four mile segment, where you run a mile or two by your watch, then only look at your watch a couple of times in each subsequent mile. Try and maintain the same effort by using the cues above and see how you did at the end of the mile.

When you are doing them, make sure you are using average lap pace instead of current pace on your watch. Current pace can fluctuate wildly with your natural pace changes, and with GPS fluctuations. This can result in surges of pace if you think you are behind or ahead.

 

Above all, learning how different paces feel takes practice of self awareness at different paces to get a feel for it. Don’t expect it to be perfect the first few times you try, but after a few goes you will find it easier to tune into your feelings.

 

Let us know what methods work for you and how you get on in the comments below.

 

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

 

Why I have a rubber duck on my desk.

A rubber duck is one of your greatest resources. Seriously. Apart from being bathtime entertainment and useful for science experiments (investigation of currents at sea and glacier movements, mostly) they are a firm favourite of software engineers. In this context, rubber ducking is short for “rubber duck debugging” and is a method of debugging code. Basically, engineers can explain the code they are writing to the rubber duck, line-by-line, and as they do so, they can break down the purpose of the code and find the underlying problem. By forcing the issue into words, and explaining it to something that can’t interrupt, often a solution will become clear without having to do any extra work.

 

Why is this relevant to you? Or me? 
Explaining something in detail to an inanimate object (it doesn’t have to be a rubber duck) distances ourself from the problem (coding, homework, understanding complex mathematics, relationships… whatever the problem may be) and allows an opportunity for self-realisation and helping you to find your own answer. Effectively, by explaining the problem to yourself (or your rubber duck), you are able to remove the anxiety and emotion around issues, step back and find perspective. This can help you reflect and resolve the issue.

“Learners who engage in explanation go beyond the obvious to look for broad and simple patterns underlying what they are trying to explain and in so doing…often make useful discoveries.”
Tania Lombrozo, Ph.D, Explaining to Yourself Can Be A Powerful Tool (https://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2016/03/explaining-yourself)

Whilst talking to your duck, your mind also slows down your thinking, breaks down the information and can find new links or patterns. A chance for a fresh perspective.

 

Does it work with a friend / cat / dog? 
This can work, but there are some problems….they move, talk, give opinions (the friend that is), distract and you may end up petting them (cat or dog!). But it will work with another inanimate object, so don’t feel you need to have a duck on your desk, a fluffy pig will do instead (for example).

 

Using your rubber duck. Really, you want a lesson on this? Ok, here goes…
1. Get a rubber duck (obvious!)
2. Explain the problem. In detail. What is the purpose of what you are trying to do? What have you done to date? What have you achieved and what have you not achieved.
3. As you explain, make sure you fully understand where you are going.
4. Find the solution! It may be obvious once you’ve talked to the duck, but if not, try giving it more detail.
4. Do NOT argue with the rubber duck. It can’t defend itself.

 

 

How does it apply to my running? 

There are so many ways to apply this in the context of running, as a runner, or a coach. If you are not meeting your goals….If you are upset by a race result…if you’re not sure on a race strategy…If you are thinking of going off plan….not sure whether to signup for a race.

Any time you want to think about a problem logically, dig out the duck…

 

Want to know more? Read these:

https://www.livescience.com/34000-explaining-helps-understand.html

https://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2016/03/explaining-yourself

https://sites.evergreen.edu/making/concerning-rubber-ducks/

 

 

 

 

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

What is the Power of Ten?

After a recent discussion on a couple of Facebook groups about London Marathon results not yet appearing on British Athletics’ Power of Ten website (https://www.thepowerof10.info), I thought it was a good time to write an introduction to this database of athletic performances to anyone who hasn’t yet discovered it. Set up by British Athletics prior to the 2012 Olympics, this is a ranking system for athletes that was started in order to set targets and challenge athletes to improve track and field performances in the run up to the games. 

 

The website lists competitors, coaches and clubs registered in the UK. If you take part in organised races and are a member of UKA (usually through a registered athletics or running club) your performances will usually be listed.

You can view data by individual athlete, club, coach and have a good nosey at others performances. You can also, via RunBritain (https://www.runbritainrankings.com a sister site which specialises in road races rather than track and field), see how you are ranked in the UK for different distances of road race.

 

The most commonly used tool is the athlete search – you can search for anyone you like, including yourself. Just enter the name and any other details in the search box on the homepage, and you should find the relevant athlete.

 

Let’s take my profile… search for Hulbert and you get 23 athletes. Only one Martin so let’s have a closer look by clicking on “show profile”. Here you can see details about me, athletes I coach (just the one, apparently! You can add me as coach through your profile if you want), and my best known performances (spot the hungover parkrun pacing anomaly!).

 

 

On the far right you can see my UK rankings from RunBritain. These vary considerably year by year, especially with COVID meaning not many races have been run of late, but my best ranking is 31st in the UK over 20 miles in the 45-49 age category and 37th V45 in the marathon in 2019 (puts me in the top 0.6% of athletes over the marathon in 2019).

If you click through to RunBritain you get a lot more stats, including a handicap score that is aimed at putting a number on your progress over time, taking into account course difficulty, weather etc.). There’s also a national ladder that ranks you against all the road runners in the UK based on gender, and will even give you your position as a runner in the local area! I’m 7th in my local area overall, but 1st over 45 male.

 

There are a lot of other stats and tools to play with, far too many to go through here, but you can visit either website to find out more.

 

Some of the questions my clients have asked me recently about this include:
Why are only some parkruns included? Because not all courses are officially measured, and not all parkruns submit their results to England Athletics.
Can you add races that aren’t there? Yes, but only ones on an officially measured / registered course.
What does MT mean? Multiterrain (or off road)

When will London 2021 results appear? These have been delayed but are now on there.

Powerof10 have their own FAQs here which are quite useful: https://www.thepowerof10.info/aboutpowerof10/faq.aspx

If you want to know any more, post your questions below and if I can’t answer them, I’m sure some of our more nerdy club members might…enjoy data crunching! (And if you like data crunching, another website you may like is https://www.fetcheveryone.com… I may do a coaching tip on this one day too!

 

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Want to know more about running or personal training?

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Martin Hulbert

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When can I run again after a marathon?

If you’re asking the question, and are keen to get out, the answer is probably double what you’re thinking! Honestly, you need a good recovery to allow repair (not just muscles but all the way down to cellular levels) and avoid injury, no matter how keen you are.

 

So how long should you rest for?

This is tricky, because it depends on your level of fitness, previous experience, how hard you ran etc. You may have heard the saying “one day of rest for every mile raced”, but for avid runners who have just raced 26.2 miles, that length of time off can be a scary prospect. Really, there isn’t really a one size fits all formula. The best guide has to be listening to your body. And rest doesn’t have to mean no exercise at all – walking, gentle mobilisation, a little low impact body weight S&C and even some gentle running can be fine.

 

You may ache – muscular aches (DOMs) will be caused by microscopic muscle tissue damage from challenging your muscles more than they are used to. Don’t run whilst you still have muscle soreness. Muscles, tendons and ligaments will have been pushed to their limits whether you ran your marathon in 3 or 8 hours, and whether you raced it or cruised in comfortably. You have damaged your body by pushing its limits and it needs time to recover or you risk further damage. In addition, studies have shown that the marathon induces inflammation, damage to muscle fibres and cellular damage that can last for more than 7 days – well beyond the length of time you feel muscle soreness for. Let me repeat that – the damage caused by hard training and racing isn’t always noticeable physically. In addition, your immune system will probably be compromised. So, rest is good, necessary, and protective.

 

But I’ll lose fitness / I want to run / I want to nail a short distance PB….

Resting for 7-10 days will have little impact on your fitness, and will mean you will return a stronger runner. If you’re still not convinced, take a look at the elites…coached by the best coaches in the world, most of them take 2-3 weeks off before running again, with only walks or very short light jogs in that time. Stagger your return to training when you are ready. A timeframe may look like this (bear in mind that this varies considerably from runner to runner):

 

Post marathon:
1-3 days: complete rest (light, short walks, foam rolling etc only)
4-7 days: some light walking, a little conditioning work (without weights)
8-14 days: Come back with a 1-4 x 5 minute runs at a very easy effort within a walk . Check how you are feeling, any niggles or aches? If all good then try an easy effort 1-4 miles at a very easy effort. Take a rest day in between each run and increase slowly. When you feel ready (after 3-4 runs at least), try a few strides in one of your easier runs to see how your legs cope at a slightly harder pace (these should be no longer than 15 seconds).

 

If you follow these rough guidelines, listen to your body and err on the side of caution in the first 14 days, you should then be ready to get back to normal training in the third week after your marathon.

 

So even if you hate putting your training on pause, or you’re desperate to capitalise on your fitness and set some new PBs, or to set the world right after a bad race, take the time to rest and recover fully. Your body (and mind) will thank you for it, and you will return stronger than before, and physically and mentally ready for your next challenge.

 

How long do you take off after a marathon? Are you looking forward to running or racing again? Have you already booked your next race?

 

Join the Club at MH Runners Club

Do you want a personalised training plan?

Want to know more about running or personal training?

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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

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Post Marathon Blues? What Next…

You spend months training for the big day. You’ve ticked off the runs, spent time and money on the prep, tapered and now raced. Fabulous – very well done! But what next?

Whether you achieved your marathon goal or not, ticking off a big target race can leave a hole in your life. Post-marathon blues are real and it can be tough to shift back into the routine of every day life. Everyone feels differently about this. For some, it’s business as usual. For others, running loses its appeal altogether and they struggle to get out the door. Some want to fill the hole it has left by signing up for their next race and launching into training immediately. Whatever your approach, be kind to yourself, share your feelings, don’t make big decisions immediately and take it slowly in the hours and days after the race. If you’re one of the many who feel a bit bereft, here’s some ideas of how to move on successfully.

 

  1. Acknowledge your feelings. Your daily routine, diet, sleep patterns and even socialising may have been built around your marathon training, and this will have increased in intensity in the last few weeks. In addition, stress hormones, tiredness and hunger can play a part in the days post marathon. Don’t be hard on yourself, feeling lost or down is normal and will pass. Signs can be a general lethargy, lack of motivation, feeling down, antisocial, or disappointed – even if you hit your goal. Sharing with others who feel the same can help, and this is where social media and online running groups can come in useful.

 

  1. Reflect on your performance. Don’t do this for too long, especially if the race didn’t go your way, but look at what you did right and what you could have done differently, both in training and in the race. Analysing a successful performance may help you replicate it again in future, and if your race didn’t go to plan, writing it down can help you come to terms with your feelings (and not make the same mistakes next time!). Make a note of your thoughts and then put it to one side.

 

  1. Note what you miss about marathon training. Was it the challenge? The sense of achievement? The regimented schedule? Having a big target to motivate you? Identifying what you really want will help you when setting your next goal.

 

  1. Try something new. This will help replace some of the excitement of marathon training – train for shorter distance, start a new exercise class, run with friends who weren’t running at your pace or distance during training, go off-road, cover your watch, take up cross-training or cycling. Or, just enjoy running with no plan.

 

  1. Indulge yourself. Eating after the marathon is a must, but your body will be repairing for several days if not weeks. Relax a little and have that dessert or glass of wine.

 

  1. Parkrun? Spectate or marshal at a local race, help others with their training. There is often nothing better to rekindle your love of running (if you have lost it) than shouting at (cheering on) others runners at a parkrun or race!

 

  1. Embrace another hobby. Finish that book you started months ago, decorate a room in the house, go hiking, bake cakes – whatever you fancy now you have more time.

 

  1. Plan a post-race trip…self-explanatory really. Just try not to plan it around another marathon (yet!)

 

  1. Find another fitness goal: a cycling or swimming race or triathlon, a yoga retreat, focus on strength training goals or like some of my clients did a year ago, sign up with an online coach to keep you motivated, whether or not you have a target race. Please contact me on the details below if you want more information.

 

  1. When you are ready, find your next running goal. Don’t rush into this, your mind and body need time to rest and recover, and constantly moving from race to race will not help alleviate the blues. But when you are ready, decide what you want to achieve and how you’d best get there. Getting faster? Think about training for shorter races. More social running? What about trail running, an ultra, or parkrun? Want to improve your marathon time? Consider the timeframe and building blocks to this carefully.

 

 

Above all, make time for the things you didn’t do whilst marathon training and enjoy them. It’s a great time, once those pesky post-race hormones have passed! When you are ready, embrace your next goal and don’t forget to contact me if you need running support, advice, motivation or even a new training plan for your next target race!

 

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

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#MHrunners

Hill Sprints for Endurance Runners

Hill sprints. Along with strides, these are probably one of the best secret weapons in your speed work arsenal. Short, intense but with a good pay off over time. If you haven’t done them before, have a go this week…

 

What are hill sprints:
Maximal effort runs up an incline. Each run is short – 10-15 seconds in duration, followed by a good recovery (very slow jog or walk back down). 4-8 repeats is plenty, depending on your running background.

 

Why do hill sprints?
Hill sprints are a safe way to practice all-out sprinting – the hill means less impact is absorbed when you sprint so less chance of injury. They strengthen key muscles and tendons, much like a strength session, except the incline is the resistance rather than weights. It utilises the same mechanisms as plyometrics and strengthens the hips, glutes, quads and calves. Like strides (bursts of controlled pace over 10-15 seconds), they help recruit muscle fibres (particularly ones that endurance runners don’t often recruit) – very useful for engaging the muscle fibres you’ll want to use at the end of a race. They also may help you improve your cadence, focus on form and reduce ground contact time by improving neuromuscular connections – the speed at which signals are sent to muscles. Really useful too for those sprint finishes or overtaking on hills!

 

When should I do hill sprints:
Do them during or after an easy run. Or before a marathon paced or reasonably hard (but not all out) session to fatigue your legs slightly and help represent running on tired legs. They do not constitute a hard workout in their own right but should be used as an add on much like you would strides. Although they are max effort, each is short, and with a longer recovery, should not leave you fatigued the next day.  If you have a coach, make sure you follow their guidance with which runs to add these in to.

 

How to do hill sprints:
1. Warm up well – at least a mile, possibly with some accelerations to get your legs turning over. Respect that you will be asking your legs to work hard.
2. Choose a hill between 5-10%, steep but it doesn’t have to be cliff-like!
3. Jog gently to the bottom and from a jogging start, sprint up the hill as fast as you can. GO HARD!
4. Focus on form – run tall (not leaning into the hill). Keep your cadence high, shorten your stride and emphasise your arm movement to drive you forward.
5. It may help to have a mantra or go to phrase to help you push something like “explode, explode, explode” works well to drive you forward in an explosive manner.
6. Don’t go over 15s, it’s a max effort. Walk slowly back down, make sure you are recovered, and go again.
7. Repeat 4-8 times (lower end for beginners, if you are coming back from a period or time off or you are not used to hill work or sprinting).

Go all out and enjoy! Do you do hill sprints? Got any tips for runners just starting out with them? Do you prefer hill sprints or strides? Tell us more in the comments below.

 

 

Join the Club at MH Runners Club

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Want to know more about running or personal training?

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Martin Hulbert

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MH Health and Fitness Online Community

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#MHrunners