Guest post by Max Roger

 

What’s training on your Summer holiday about?  It’s about habits, feeling good and feeling refreshed. 

Learn to enjoy running again - remember why you fell in love with it in the 1st place.

Use your holiday as an opportunity for 3 things:

1. Maintain and cement your healthy habits. Train most days, eat well, sleep well. Keep those things going. It should be easier on your holiday as you have more time!

2. Feeling good. Move in the morning so that physically your body feels good, rather than lethargic. You’ll also mentally feel great for the rest of the day. Doesn’t that sound good? You’ll enjoy your holiday much more if you train in the morning? Yep. Awesome.

3. Feel refreshed. You’ll be more fatigued and in need of an unwind than you think. You only realise this when your body has time away from heavy training, and mentally gets a break from tracking your percentages and reps. No need to chase that 5km split - just get outside and run in the sun! Learn to enjoy it all again - remember why you fell in love with running in the 1st place.

It doesn’t have to be proper training either. Just make sure to move and get some sweat. Day 1 of my holiday I did 10x10 burpees. And it felt amazing.

Some other ideas:

1. Run to the beach, have a dip and run back – don’t time it, just enjoy it.

2. Swim a length of the pool, get out and do 10 squats, swim a length, get out and do 5 pushups – repeat 5 times.

3. Do 10 lunges (5 each side) in your first minute (rest until your minute is up), then 15 squats in the next minute, then 10 sit-ups in the next – repeat 3 times.

These are just examples that you can do right beside your swimming pool, or wherever you have space. Even better if you can do it all outside in the morning, getting some refreshing sun on your skin before the midday heat.

Get in contact with max at max@max-performance.co.uk if you want some ideas for Summer holiday training.

04 July 2022

Race Nutrition

 

Guest post by Max Roger

The number one principle when you look at your nutrition for races is not to do anything new on race day: Trial things out beforehand. Now, when it comes to trial and error there will clearly be errors, but without this process in training the error will be during your race and that’s the last thing that you want.

In your general week-to-week training, protein is important throughout your day to preserve and promote the recovery of your muscles. During a run/race that’s not the case. What you need then is energy. Getting energy from protein is a very inefficient process. Getting it from fats is a bit better but by far the quickest and most efficient way is through carbohydrates. The protein comes in after your race. That’s when you need to make sure you get a good-quality protein source in to help with your recovery.

Focusing on those carbohydrates let’s simplify it into two types: slow-acting and quick-acting. Slow-acting is the energy you’ll get from things like oats (think porridge), or pasta. Quick-acting is the sugary stuff – energy gels, jelly babies, etc.

Both have a place in your nutrition plan. If you have a meal including slow-acting carbohydrates the evening before your race, and then a breakfast that does too then your muscles will be full of the energy that they require for the race. We know this as muscle glycogen. As it depletes throughout a race you’ll want to top it up. If these levels drop too low that’s the main reason that people often ‘hit the wall’. It takes too long and too much effort for your body to digest the slow-acting carbohydrate sources during a race, so this is when you switch to the quick-acting ones.

Start early in your race with these quick-acting carbohydrates. If you wait until you feel really tired, it’s too late! This is where most of the trial and error is. If you eat too much, you’ll have digestive issues. If you eat too little you’ll not have enough energy to perform at the level that you were planning for. There are guides as to how much you should be having, but at the end of the day everyone has different comfort/tolerance levels.

Roughly, in a long race like a Marathon you should aim for an energy gel (or equivalent) about every 5km, or 25mins. This is a rough guide as a starting point. Doing this in your longer training runs will give you an idea of what feels right for you. For your shorter races, like a 10km, you might just want a gel halfway around as by the time your body has digested it and needs more you’re almost at the end of the race. If you find that you start the race feeling like you have a lack of energy that’s likely down to poor nutrition (such as not enough slow-acting carbohydrates) in the days leading up to the race.

Use your training runs to practice your race-day nutrition. It’s best to start with slightly less fuel (the carbohydrates) than you think you might need, and build up over your runs as you require. If you start with too much then you’ll likely run into digestive issues on a few runs.

30 May 2022

Your Hips

Guest post by Max Roger

One of the common injury issues that runners get is pain around their hips. This can range from some slight discomfort on a longer run, to being unable to even do your warm-up because you can’t lift your legs high enough to run properly.

A lot of what we do all day contributes to tighter hips (which is what often causes the pain). For example, we sit down for hours at our desk, then we slump on sofas in the evening. Got a commute? Sitting in your car doesn’t help either.

There are 2 main things to counter this: mobility and strength.

Strength training is using external load to challenge your posture and position

Having more mobile hips takes a consistent effort. There’s no point in stretching on an ad hoc basis. Make it a part of your daily routine. Even better is combining this with your strength training. If you were to stretch so that your hips were more mobile, then immediately do some lower body lifting such as lunges, you’d then be strengthening your hips in that deeper range of motion. You have to really go as deep as you can to get the mobility benefit.

Your body being stronger in that position means that it feels safer there. If it feels safer there, then it’s going to stop giving the signals of ‘tightness’ and ‘pain’ to your brain. Those signals are there to protect yourself – if you are weak in a position then your body wants to avoid it, and so it sends those signals so that you don’t go into that position.

When I say that you want to be strong in a position this doesn’t just mean that you get as strong as possible with a heavy barbell. Firstly, it means handling your bodyweight, moving into, holding, and moving out of that position in different ways. This could look like squats, pause squats, squat jumps, duck walks (where you walk forward in a squat position). After that you can challenge these movements with external load, using dumbbells, barbells, etc. That’s what strength training is – using external load to challenge your posture and position.

[If you are performing strength movements or stretches and you are getting a sharp pinching feeling in your hips, or the pain becomes worse, then stop and seek medical advice. But if the pain disappears as your body gets warmer during a session, or once you’ve stretched a little then continue on.]

01 May 2022

Niggles

Guest post by Max Roger

 

 No matter how hard you try you can’t outrun niggles. A niggle? A small injury/pain that seems to hang around and disrupt your training. For runners this is often pain around their feet or Achilles, or a hamstring that keeps tightening up. It might even be a stiff lower back.

Runners are notorious for trying to push past this – but that doesn’t work. It will almost certainly worsen your issues until they are so bad that they force you to stop for a prolonged period. That’s every runner’s worst nightmare: not being able to train.

So, what should you do?

The overriding principle is to realise that pain is a signal. You shouldn’t just have some painkillers and ice up and then run on. In fact, there is a danger to anti-inflammatories when you’re doing endurance training as they thin your blood, making it even harder for your heart to pump enough oxygen and nutrients around your body.

That’s every runner’s worst nightmare: not being able to run.

Instead, listen to that signal. The pain is warning you that you’re doing something wrong. It could be that you’re overworking something, which is often the case if you develop extensor tendinopathy (where it hurts to move the top of your foot). If it’s a niggle on 1 side of your body (i.e. 1 leg) then your running technique is probably uneven, leading to that issue. In that case the pain is telling you that 1 leg is working harder than the other and that you should address this before it becomes a bigger issue.

Unless the pain is signalling that you are working too hard, it’s likely a technical issue, or maybe a strength issue. How do you know which it is? I wrote a previous article on the volume of your run training. If you stick to those guidelines then it’s unlikely that you’re doing too much. Strength is easy to identify but you need to spend some time on it: there are some basic tests to do to see if your body is strong and robust enough to handle the volume of your running. These are things such as a MAX rep single leg calf raise – can you do 20 on each leg? I will look at those tests in a future article.

For a detailed look at the strength work get in touch at www.max-performance.co.uk as strength work for runners is what I specialise in.

If it’s not those things then the focus should be on your technique. If you’ve never had someone film you run then that’s a start. All you need is to see a 10 second clip from behind, seeing your full body. Ideally this is outside, but you could do it on a treadmill too. A side-on clip would also be useful. You will have seen enough top-level runners to instinctively know what ‘good’ technique looks like, so take a look at yourself and you can hopefully identify some easy technical work-ons. Again though, if you want more help here then get in touch and I’d be happy to look at your technique.

Remember: pain is a signal, not something to push past.

Max

 

Guest post by Max Roger

When you plan your running for the upcoming season, it’s important to make sure that you do this using minutes, not miles. People tend to set out for a set distance (the miles method). This is ok, and can get some improvement. But it also carries risk of overtraining with it.

Yes, you do want to get a certain amount of miles in (kms really, as we are metric). But the way that you go about it to let your body adapt should be through using minutes, not miles.

“We want to stress your heart rate for a certain amount of time”

This is because you can run 16km one day (10miles if you’re Old School), and it takes 1hour 20mins, and another day it takes you 2 hours. This could be because you’re fatigued, ran a hillier route, it was hotter or more humid… there are loads of potential reasons.

The idea for your long, steady state runs is to stress your heart in certain zones so that it adapts. To do this you want to progress it in small increments, as you do with your strength training. A good guide is to only increase by a maximum of 10% from the previous week. Gradually increasing the amount of time that you have your heart working hard means that it adapts to be able to supply more oxygen to your muscles. This will allow you to run for longer.

That’s why we use minutes: because you can control the increases. For example, 100 minutes for your big run one week, then 110 minutes the next week.

You might end up running the same distance as before, but in a longer time in one of your training weeks, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is the length of time that your heart is working hard.

And what zone do you want your heart to be working in? For your easy runs it should feel easy. You should be able to hold a comfortable conversation the whole time. Do I suggest doing that though? No. It’s better to breathe through your nose the whole time. Nasal breathing has a whole host of benefits. If you’re able to nasal breathe as you run then that’s also a sign that your heart rate is in the right zone. This will roughly equate to 50-75% of your maximum heart rate, but that shouldn’t be the focus. There’re different variables that affect heart rate too so it’s better to focus on keeping the run feeling easy and nasal breathing the whole time.

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