How to Eat Healthier on a Budget

One of the biggest challenges I hear from people when they switch to eating a healthier diet is that it’s so much more expensive then what they normally buy. It can feel like a dramatic increase on your food bill, especially for those who aren’t just feeding themselves, but their families too. When you move to more of a whole food diet, consisting of good quality meat and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables it can feel more expensive. And whilst yes, your food bill may go up a little bit at first, I always like to think of it as a long-term investment in your health.

When you are healthier, your body functions better, you are less likely to get sick and you are happier person for it. To me it’s worth the little extra money you need to spend to get healthy. If money is one of those challenges you face, there are some things you can do that will help save on your food costs.

Shop in season – Get to know what fruits and vegetables are in season. Then when you shop try to base your meals around those ingredients. You definitely don’t want to be buying fresh berries in the middle of winter, as you will be paying double. Remember there are lots of fruit and vegetables that can be frozen too. So if something is on special and in season, buy it in bulk and then freeze it for later use.

Reduce your meat intake – If you are a meat eater, like me, this can make up a huge portion of your weekly food budget. By reducing the amount of meat in your meals you can reduce your costs. I’m certainly not suggesting becoming a full vegetarian (as I couldn’t do that myself) but you could try and start introducing a few meat free meals a week. If the thought of that does not go down well you can halve the amount of meat you have in each meal, making a cut of meat last twice as long.

Prepare your weekly meal plan – Every week decide what meals you will be cooking and what key ingredients you can use. Have a look at what’s in season or on offer and create your meals around that. Take your shopping list to the supermarket and be strict with yourself to stick to it. Also don’t go in hungry as that is when we tend overspend and also make some unhealthy choices of foods. If you don’t use up all the ingredients for one meal, see how you can turn them into other deliciously healthy meals for the next few days. Also don’t be afraid of eating leftovers. Make double at night and then you have something for lunch or dinner the next day. Making it far less likely to purchase lunch at work or those takeaways when you aren’t in the mood for cooking.

Store your fresh vegetables properly and organise your fridge – It’s so easy to forget what is in the fridge and sometimes some of the vegetables you buy ends up going off before you use it, simply because it’s stored in the back of the fridge and gets forgotten. Store the food with the shortest ‘best-before’ date towards the front so you know what ingredients you should be cooking with at the beginning of the week before it goes off. Find out the best ways to store your fresh vegetables, as there are plenty of tips and tricks for keeping those ingredients fresher for longer.

Move away from packets and pre-cut food – It can be very tempting to go for the quick and simple pre-cut fruit and vegetables, but these are often far more expensive, just because they have been cut up for you already. Buy the whole fresh vegetables and then pre-cut them yourself. If they are freezable items then buy them in bulk when on special, pre-cut them yourself and store in the freezer for later use.

Buy your fruit and vegetables from a market – As most supermarkets insist on fruit and vegetables that look good, are pre-washed and are often bagged or pre-packed you actually pay more for your fruit and vegetables than you do when buying them from a local market or greengrocers. If you are able to get to a market or greengrocers a couple of times a week you can save yourself a decent amount of money and help local businesses.

Think of your long term health – Yes, it can be hard to see your food bill go up but think of long term benefits you are giving yourself in your new healthy lifestyle. Eating cheap, pre-packed foods that contain all sorts of additives is not a healthy way to eat. This is why I say eating healthier is probably some of the best medical help you can give to yourself and your family in the long run.


I hope you enjoyed some of these tips. If anyone has anything they do to save money, I would love to hear them.

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Dealing with Negativity is Part of Life

Failure is one of those inevitable things about life and the sooner you can get used to that the better. We all fail, fall, get knocked back, criticised and knocked down. But the important thing is to not let these hurdles get you down and keep you there. If you really want something you have to keep getting up and keep pushing forward. Every successful person has had to deal with negativity and has failed many times in their life. If you read autobiographies of top athletes or entrepreneurs I can guarantee they will talk about how many times they have failed and how many negative issues they have had to overcome. But they always get back up and come back stronger. So if you want to be successful and you want to make some changes then you also need to learn that failure is not a bad thing, as long as you commit to coming back again stronger.


Don’t give up – There have been many times in my life that I felt like giving up. I was widowed suddenly when I was 31 years old. My whole world came crashing down in an instance and there were times when I didn’t know if I could carry on. However, there were two key moments, both linked, that made me realise that I had to come back stronger.

A couple of weeks after I was widowed and I was arranging the funeral details, I wanted to arrange for donations to a charity instead of people giving flowers. I was on the way to a meeting at a local charity to discuss donations when I was waiting to cross a busy road at a crossing. As I was waiting a lorry was driving towards the crossing. For a split second I thought that if I stepped out it would end my pain. The only thing that stopped me was the realisation that I would then be placing more hurt and heartache on my family.

The second moment was when I actually arrived at the charity. The walls of their office was covered in photographs of terminally ill and life-limited children that had been helped by the charity. As soon as I stood there I knew that I should help. The charity, Wishes 4 Kids, offered to set up a fund in my late wife’s name, so that we could track donations and what the donations were used for. This was a way of keeping my wife’s name going for a good cause. Since then, over £50,000 has been raised for the fund by myself, family and friends in a variety of ways.

That will hopefully be the lowest place I will ever be at in my life. Any other knock-backs or failures I encounter can never be as bad meaning I know I can always come back, try again, learn from mistakes and be a better person.


Unhappiness can be your motivator – A lot of people I talk to are unhappy with the way they look, being overweight or the ‘wrong’ dress size. My philosophy is that if you are unhappy about something you need to commit to making a change. Get the help of a family member, a friend, or a Personal Trainer to help you with making those changes that will make you view yourself in a more positive way.

I learnt how to become more positive and grateful for the life I have and I decided from then on that I was always going to go for the things I want in life. If I didn’t try, then I wouldn’t achieve anything I wanted. So if you aren’t happy with where you are at now, use that as motivation to push through those boundaries and keep working towards your goals.


It’s all about persistence – The difference between actually reaching your goal or not is persistence. Persistence will always beat talent and that’s so important to remember. There are thousands of people out there who are talented at different things but the ones who work the hardest and never give up are the ones who succeed. That theory can also be applied to health, weight loss and exercising. So many times people give up just before they reach their goals, but if you want something enough then just keep going. You will eventually get there. And believe me, when you reach your goal you’ll look back and be so grateful you didn’t give up when things got tough.


It’s okay to make mistakes or regress – I have made a lot of mistakes in my life, but the mistakes have all helped me get to where I am now in my life. There have also been times where I have had to take steps back from my training in order to come back stronger. These have been through illness, injury (often by pushing too hard – I have learnt from this) or returning from holidays. This is not a problem and shouldn’t be viewed as such. I am now happy and doing the job I should have been doing years ago, which is helping others to be their best too. If you make a mistake, then learn from it and move on. Don’t sit and dwell on it, use it as something to make you grow and be a better person. Nobody is perfect, so mistakes are totally normal.


Believe in yourself – Generally the biggest obstacle standing between you and your goals is yourself. You aren’t going to achieve your goals if you don’t believe you can. Believe in yourself, believe you are good enough, commit yourself, work hard and smart, and don’t throw in the towel if doesn’t come easily. If you fall down, then don’t let any of that negative self-doubt creep in. Don’t ever give up on your goals because you don’t think you can achieve them.


The best way to learn and grow is not through our successes, but through our mistakes, failures and knock-backs. Appreciate them because they all add to who you are and who you will be in the future. Changing your life to be more positive, more active and healthier will be one of the best things you’ll ever do. I really can’t stress that enough. Start making those changes now. Nobody is going to do it for you. You need to take control of your life and be who you want to be. It is possible and you deserve it, remember that.


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Benefits of Exercising Outdoors

I love exercising outdoors. There is something about breathing in fresh air that helps you push a little bit harder. It’s also a nice change from being in the gym. You really can do a good workout outdoors anywhere, like a park, the forest or even your own garden. My programmes are designed to allow you to get the most out of any workout with minimal or no equipment, so you don’t need to be tied down to a gym membership.

Still need convincing? Well here are just three of the benefits exercising outdoors will give you.  


  1. It helps you focus It can get a little crowded at the gym, which also means you can get distracted, comparing yourself to others and how their bodies are. When you take the workout outdoors, you only have yourself to focus on. There also aren’t any mirrors outside, so no more getting distracted with how your hair is looking, how much you are sweating and how you compare to the person stood next to you.


  1. Boost your vitamin D levels with the sunshine Whilst you want to be careful exposing yourself to too much sun (not always a problem in the UK) there are many benefits to getting a daily dose of sunlight. When we are exposed to the sun on our skin, it helps our body’s production of Vitamin D3, which is extremely important for bone health and your metabolic function. Just make sure you wear suncream and sunglasses to protect yourself against harmful rays.


  1. It saves you money Gym memberships can be costly, especially if you want a Personal Trainer as well, and whilst you do need a gym for more specialised training, you can actually get an extremely good workout with no equipment at all. Think of the hundreds of pounds you could save for the new clothes you can treat yourself to when you achieve that body you have always wanted.


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Healthy Habits You Can Start Today

Moving over to a healthier lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t just wake up one day and you are instantly healthy in everything that you do. It is a gradual process of integrating healthy habits into your daily life. I know it can feel completely overwhelming with where to start when you want to make a change. So instead of trying to change your life completely, start by introducing some healthy habits one by one. They say it takes 17 days (numbers vary and I doubt if there is concrete proof) for a habit to kick in. Start with one or two things first, conquer those and then move on to more. If you really don’t know where to start, read on. I thought I’d share some great healthy habits that are easy to incorporate into your life today and will help set the ball rolling towards a healthier happier life.


  1. Get moving in the morning – Exercise in the morning is one of the best ways you can start your day. It gets the blood pumping, kick starts your metabolism, wakes you up and energises you for the day ahead. If you aren’t someone that can get up and do an intense workout first thing, then you should still at least try to get in some form of movement. Even if it’s gentle jog/walk or a yoga session it’s better than doing nothing. Exercising in the morning also puts you in the healthy mind frame for the rest of the day, so you will make healthier choices as the day goes on. If you feel overwhelmed with getting up and doing a one-hour workout, then start by committing to ten minutes of movement each morning. You’ll never notice getting up five minutes earlier so every couple of weeks set the alarm slightly earlier. As the weeks go on you will be able to progressively increase the time exercising. Before you know it you’ll be up and getting a good workout in for an hour or more.


  1. Cut ‘added’ sugar – Sugar has to be one of the worst things you can consume when you are looking to lose weight or get healthier. Now when I talk about sugar, I’m talking about the processed kind and not the natural sugars you find in whole natural foods, such as fruit. Processed sugar has no nutritional value to the body and strips nutrients as it passes through the digestive system. It’s called empty calories for a reason. In fact, recent studies have shown that sugar has similar addictive effects on the brain as cocaine. So when you consume it you will want more. Sugar also spikes your insulin levels, which leads to increased fat storage in the body. This is why it’s important to start cutting it from your diet. The bad thing about sugar is it’s in almost every food that we enjoy. Start reading your food labels and become more aware of what foods contain added sugars. Then start to cut those out. Apparently it can be quite intense when you first cut sugar as the body goes through withdrawal symptoms, but once it’s out of your diet you will feel so much better for it.


  1. Meal plan and prep – If you want to eat healthy then you need to get organised with your food. One of the weekly habits I have in my life that helps so much, is my meal planning and prepping. Once a week I will work out what I’ll be making, write down my shopping list and then stick to that at the supermarket. Then I spend a couple of hours cooking in bulk so I can have lots of healthy food on hand during the week. It can seem like a lot of work to begin with but the more you practice, the easier it becomes.


  1. Get plenty of sleep – Getting a good night’s rest is so important to a healthy lifestyle. When you sleep properly your body is able to function better, not just physically but mentally and emotionally too. Poor sleep can also slow your metabolism, which is why it’s so important to get enough sleep. This amount varies from person to person, but the rule of thumb is that you should not feel tired when you wake in the morning. If you are one to go to bed late because you stay up late watching T.V. or are on social media, start by restricting these things one hour before your planned bedtime. Get yourself into a nightly ritual before bed that will allow you to unwind and get to sleep easily. Things like reading, taking a hot bath, meditation or some gentle stretching can be hugely beneficial to getting off to bed and into a deep sleep more easily.


  1. Remove negative self-talk – Being healthy isn’t just about having a healthy body, it’s also about having a healthy mind and outlook on life. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy and put ourselves down so much. The mind is a powerful thing, but like everything, it can be trained to get the outcome we desire. Negative thoughts will often appear when you start something new. That could be exercise or healthy eating. The negative voice will always tell you that you cannot do it. Ask the negative voice this is question; WHY?


Why? is the best question you can ask. Every time your negative voice talks, ask it why? Then when it answers, turn that negative answer into a positive. I often encounter this when people start to train. They think that they cannot do something, so I ask them why they think that. If they have a reason (some just answer “I don’t know”) then I try to turn it back around on them again with a positive. Their answer is usually “I’ve never done this before”, to which my positive voice would answer “great, this is new and I’ve never done this before so it’s going to be an achievement once I have finished”.


Soon, you will start to believe the positives and the negative voice will start to lose the battle. Once you win this battle your confidence levels start to soar and you will start to notice.


Now remember you don’t need to try and do these all at once. Start with one or two, let them become good solid habits in your life and then move on to the next.


You don’t just need to stick to these either. Sit down and think about what habits you can create for yourself that will help you achieve your goals. I hope you’ve got some good ideas here of some great healthy habits that you can introduce into your life today.


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It’s Okay Not Being Perfect

Don’t be fooled into thinking that some people are happy all of the time. The fact is that nobody is entirely happy 100% of the time. People may have this exterior appearance of looking happy and making out that they never have a bad day but this is rarely the case.

I have experienced people who appear to be the most positive of people and later find out that behind closed doors they’re unhappy and just putting on a brave, public face. Social media (especially celebrities) only amplifies this as people only portray their best version of themselves online. Therefore, we are fooled to think that’s what their lives look like, being blind to what really goes on in private.

Celebrity magazines are also just as bad. If a person puts on a bit of weight, they are chastised for being fat. Then if that same person loses the weight they are classified as too skinny. No wonder most people can never be totally happy. I just try to be as real and honest as I can. If you keep trying to aim for perfection in life, you will continuously be disappointed as you try and reach an unachievable goal.

 Remember we are all human – I think sometimes people care too much about what everyone else thinks of them that they feel the need to hide behind this perception of a perfect life where they pretend like everything is great (keeping up with the Joneses). It’s often not the case. I like to think of myself as a positive, confident person but I can tell you that I don’t feel like that every day. Some days I just want to stay in bed all day, some days are really crap and everything goes wrong. Some days I’m too lazy to train so I have a couple of beers instead. Remember we are all human, with our own flaws and insecurities, so stop thinking that there are people in this world with a “perfect life”. They simply just don’t exist.

 Life has ups and downs – Life is not always sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes life is just crap and it’s ok to have “bad days”. It’s just important that you don’t let yourself stay there. In my experience, the longer you stay in a bad place, the worse it gets and you can get stuck. Being in that frame of mind doesn’t do you any good. So if you have a bad day, week or month that’s okay. Just get it out of your system, have a good cry or shout if you want and move on. Life is up and down and you’re going to have some crap days but you’re also going to have days that are amazing which make the bad ones all worthwhile.

 It’s okay to make mistakes – ‘The only bad mistake is one that we don’t learn from’. I’m not sure who said those wise words but they certainly ring true. Making mistakes is a part of life and you need to learn that it’s okay to make them. In fact, mistakes can be used to teach us the greatest lessons and help us grow into better people. If you make a mistake, accept it and see what you can do to learn from it. I’ve made so many mistakes in my life, and still do today, just ask my wife! The important thing is not to let them get to you or make you feel inferior or like a failure. If you make a mistake, accept it, learn from it and move on as soon as you can.

 Speak kindly to yourself – We aren’t perfect and that’s fine. But just because you can’t do something, or you’ve made a mistake make sure you still speak kindly to, and of, yourself. I hear so many people, mainly women, talking negatively about themselves because they are comparing themselves to others and think that they aren’t good enough. If we keep putting ourselves down, then we can never truly reach our potential. We believe what we tell ourselves. I used to be really shy and allowed my head to be filled with self-doubt and negative thoughts. I thought I wasn’t good enough and all I was doing was self-sabotaging my life. My life only began to change when I taught myself the benefits of positive thinking. So please be kind to yourself as much as you can.


It’s time to stop aiming for perfection and start realising that we all have flaws, we all make mistakes and we are all human. No matter what appears on the outside there is always a story behind closed doors. If you want to look to people for inspiration forget the celebrities. Look for people closer to home, people who show their real selves, their flaws, their insecurities and all. When you let go of the idea of being perfect, you will find so much more happiness in your life.

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Can’t Live Without Coffee?

I do love my coffee, especially if it is strong and black. A lot of people believe that a healthy lifestyle means that you can’t drink coffee, but I don’t believe that this is true. It is correct that if you want to reduce the ‘stress’ on your live you should reduce your intake of caffeinated drinks, but there are other drinks that should be removed first, namely sugary drinks.

Here is why you can still enjoy coffee and be healthy:

Health benefits of coffee – As I mentioned, there is a lot of information available about the ‘dangers’ of coffee, but the benefits actually seem to outweigh any risks.

Coffee contains a lot of antioxidants, which are important for your health. These will help fight free radicals and reduce inflammation in your body. Coffee has also been seen to reduce the risk of diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, not to mention being good for your mood, alertness and physical performance.

How much is too much? – Personally I would say for you to limit your intake of coffee (regular black coffee) to 2-3 cups per day, and to ensure that you don’t have your last one too late. I usually switch to decaffeinated coffee after 2pm as I find if I drink caffeine after this time it can affect my sleep. A moderate amount of coffee on a daily basis is perfectly fine. Just make sure you keep it within your limits.

What about the risks?
Addiction – As you know coffee contains caffeine and this compound is somewhat addictive. Caffeine affects your central nervous system and people can become dependent on caffeine to ‘perform’. If you stop your intake of caffeine you might experience some ‘withdrawal’ symptoms, including a headache, fatigue, depression, concentration difficulties and anxiety. I find that this passes after a day or so.

Insomnia – Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others, but the timing of your cup of coffee does have an effect on if it will affect your sleep or not. I would normally recommend for you to have your last coffee for the day at least 6 hours before you go to bed. As I mentioned above, I usually switch to decaffeinated after 2pm.

Osteoporosis – There are some reports and claims that coffee will increase your risk of weak bones. However, you need to drink over 7 regular cups of coffee per day to get to those levels of caffeine, ~744mg to be exact. If you drink a lot of coffee I would suggest for you to ensure you get enough calcium to outweigh this risk.

Cardiovascular disease – Coffee (caffeine) does have a temporary effect on your blood pressure and heart rate, especially if you are sensitive. However, there is not enough evidence that coffee and caffeine will cause higher cholesterol levels or heart disease.

Note: If you have heart or blood pressure problems, it is always advised to talk to your doctor regarding your diet and coffee drinking.

Cancer – Coffee (caffeine) has been accused of causing cancer. In fact, most evidence supports coffee (caffeine) as protecting against cancer.

Dehydration – If you have ever had a coffee you have probably noticed that you will need to go to the bathroom a bit more often. Coffee does have a slight diuretic effect, however, unless you have large quantities, it does not seem to cause dehydration. And if you follow my recommendations of drinking plenty of other fluids and keep to drinking coffee in moderation you will certainly not be at risk.


Watch the calories! I always buy a black coffee to avoid adding any calories. The fact is that your choice of coffee can have a major effect on your weight loss success. A regular black coffee contains about 2 calories, whilst mocha can contain up to 450 calories, not to mention all the refined sugar!!


So, if you are a coffee lover like I am, make sure you drink coffee in moderation, not too late and make sure that you watch your added calories.

If you are a coffee lover I hope you have enjoyed this article!


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Exercise Excuses You Need to Stop

I must say that over the years I have come across many excuses why people can’t workout. It’s amazing what people come up with when they don’t want to do something. In fact, I can remember when I used to make every excuse under the sun why I couldn’t make it to the gym or go out for a run. “I’m too tired”, “It’s boring”, “I can’t be bothered” were all some of the common excuses I used to make. If this sounds like you, here are some of the most common exercise excuses you need to stop today so that you can start working towards your health and fitness goals.


I’m too tired – This used to be my go-to excuse when I did not want to go to the gym. Now, I don’t want you running yourself into exhaustion, but if this is a common excuse for you, it’s time to say goodbye. Sometimes we aren’t at our best, but remember, exercising doesn’t have to be perfect for you to get benefits. Showing up and doing something is way better than not doing anything at all. Once you miss one workout, then you are far more likely to fall into the trap of missing the next, and then the next and so on. Did you know exercise can actually help with giving you energy and waking you up? Exercise also stimulates the release of endorphins (your feel-good hormones), so you will often end up feeling better after the workout.

 The gym is too expensive – A gym membership can definitely be expensive, but don’t let that be the reason you aren’t getting fit and healthy. There are plenty of things you can do that doesn’t involve a costly membership. That’s why, with all of my block bookings I give you workouts you can do at home with no or minimal investment in equipment. You can also pick up cheap second-hand equipment if you want to save on costs. I have also plenty of ‘no equipment workouts’ that you can do at home. There are plenty of options for you, that won’t cost an arm and a leg, so don’t let money be an excuse.

 But exercise is so boring – You can love exercise, or you can hate it. It just depends on how you go about it. If you find your exercise boring, and you are using this as an excuse from getting fit and healthy, then it’s time to do something different. Exercise doesn’t need to be boring, or something you find a chore, you just need to find something you enjoy. Perhaps it’s picking up a social sport, or getting a buddy to workout with. Either way, rather than sitting there and saying it’s boring, contact me and we can look for ways you can make it fun.

 I don’t have enough time – Everyone is busy these days. The major difference between someone who exercises and someone who doesn’t, isn’t that they have more time, it’s just that they make time in their day to exercise. If not having the time is your main excuse, perhaps it’s time to sit down and reshuffle a few things in your calendar and start scheduling in some exercise. Exercise doesn’t need to take hours upon hours either. In fact, you can get effective workouts done in 10 to 20 minutes if you need to. Just remember your words of ‘not having the time’ when you are sitting watching tv or spending 30 minutes on social media!!

 I don’t know how to train properly – If you are new to exercise I know it can feel a little daunting. But don’t let something new and unknown stop you from achieving what you want. All experts were beginners once, and everyone has to start somewhere. There are so many different resources online that can help. This is also why I do what I do. I am here to help you with any nutrition or fitness related questions. I want to provide the best support possible to anyone who is interested on getting fitter and healthier so they can have access to all the important information they need to achieve their goals.

I’m worried about being judged by more experienced people – Everybody has to start somewhere and any experienced exerciser, who has been working out for some time, has been a ‘beginner’ too. The thing is, most people who are exercising are too busy with their own workouts to pay attention to what anyone else is doing. So stop worrying about what people will think, and just get started.

I’m not motivated enough – Guess what? You aren’t born with motivation to do something. In fact, motivation is something you actually need to work at on a daily basis. However, not having any motivation is not a good excuse. If the overall task or goal is a bit too overwhelming, break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks. Once you achieve one small thing, then you will feel motivated to keep going, and so and so on. There are days that I don’t want to run or go to the gym, but then I always go back to my goals and remember how good being fit and healthy makes me feel.


So no more excuses! Now is the time to get fit and healthy and become the best person you can possibly be.

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Marathons – Deciding Your Target Time

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


It’s only x.xx pace isn’t it

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


Don’t know really but should be doable

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

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


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

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


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

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


Keeping an open mind through training

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


Variable Targets

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

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

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

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


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

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


Do you want a personalised training plan?

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

Call me on 07815 044521 or email me at

Martin Hulbert

Personal Trainer & Running Coach Leicestershire

My Marathon Training Survival Tips

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



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



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


Stay strong 

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



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


Progress and pacing

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


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


Do you want a personalised training plan?

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

Call me on 07815 044521 or email me at

Martin Hulbert

Personal Trainer & Running Coach Leicestershire

How to Save Time with These Food Preparation Ideas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Call me on 07815 044521 or email me at

Martin Hulbert

Personal Trainer & Running Coach Leicestershire