30 January 2023

Finding Training in Winter

Running in Winter is tough, but it’s where you can get the most satisfaction after a run rather than during it. In the Summer there can be great views, you soak up some rays, and you can have a really enjoyable run, getting lost in the moment as your feet find that lively rhythm and you churn the miles up.

But in the Winter it’s different.

In the Winter it’s usually cold, wet and dark. Your knees hurt after because of the cold, your splits are slower, and there’s no view apart from whatever appears in the light of your headtorch – namely your feet.

But after the runs it feels great: you’re back from your early morning run, you’re warm and dry again and you realise that you’ve just completed a run in tough conditions, when most people were still in bed. You’re one up on most of your colleagues. The feeling of satisfaction at having got through that run is great, as you have your first coffee of the day and a well-earned breakfast.

That’s the feeling that you need to remember. If you forget it, and just remember what it’s like during the runs, then you’ll start to skip them. Once you skip one it’s easier to skip the next – it’s the snowball effect.

But some days it really will be worth skipping – icy roads aren’t worth running on, or really heavy rain. If possible, switch that to a treadmill/bike session, or just do some yoga or strength work instead that morning. The key is getting something in, so that at least you’re still training. The weather will dictate some sessions, but don’t let it become an excuse.

Common excuse: “I’ll get wet.” But when have you ever not gotten dry again?

If the weather has dictated training, then take your opportunities when they arrive. You might have missed out on some training, then there’s two sunny days in a row. Your plan only has you down for one run, but why wait? Take advantage of that opportunity and run on the second day too. Is it optimal? No. Is it better than missing out on that opportunity? Yes. Ignore your splits on that second day and get that run in!

The aim throughout Winter is to get in what you can. Get your aerobic base developed, with lots of steady miles. That can be on the road, the bike, the rowing machine… it doesn’t matter. It’s about working your heart rate at that level where you can just keep going and going.

So, take your opportunities where they appear, and put the work in.

Max Roger

06 January 2023

Deeper Goals

woman looking on the first sunrise light beams from sun in the alps Austria

Guest post by Max Roger

If you’re reading this, then you likely have a goal - something driving you to get things done. But you need to get deeper than that.

You must get below the surface, and yes it probably involves your childhood.

Why do you have that goal? What is the real driver beneath that? The real goal?

Proving people wrong and avoiding health issues are two big drivers.

For example, are you trying to lose 5kg of body fat? Why? Is it to look better naked? Get deeper. Is it because you were called a ‘fatty’ as a kid, and you want to shake that off? Get deeper. So, you want to prove people wrong about you?

Ok, now you understand your real driver - you’re there to prove people wrong. Understanding this is important as you now have a stronger understanding of what you’re after, so you’ll be 20x more likely to do the things required to achieve it.

Let’s look at a common example with runners: you want a faster 10km time, something that takes you below 40mins. Why? Because that’s a recognised fast time for the average runner. But why is that important to you? Because you want to be seen as a decent runner. But why? Because you love running and it’s a part of your identity, so you want to be good at it. But why is that number important? Because you want other people to see you as good. But what is it about that that matters to you? Because you’re proving people wrong who said that you were not good at sports as a kid.

Two of the big drivers that people often have are proving people wrong and doing something to avoid a health issue they’ve seen with a close family member. Have those in mind when you go through this process yourself (which you should do right now!) to give you a starting point.

Struggling to dig deeper into your goals? Get in touch with me and we will go over the process for this.

Hope everyone had a great holiday,
Max

28 November 2022

Diet Mistakes

Guest post by Max Roger

Thinking ahead to the festive season the big focus for people is often their diet. However, there are common mistakes that hamper progress there year after year. Read this; learn from it; avoid those mistakes.

Let’s start with looking at what a diet is. It’s often associated with things like juice cleanses, or not eating carbs – it’s a restrictive thing. What it actually is, is the daily intake through solids and liquids of nutrition.

It’s not necessarily about restricting things (I’ll get to that later).

So, the big mistakes?

1. Focusing too much on carbohydrates (carbs). There is a place for restricting your calories if your goal is fat loss. But just looking at your carbs is a mistake. Per gram of carb there are 4 calories. Restricting them means you’ll likely ignore what you’re doing with fats, or even add more to your meals to make them taste better now that there are less/no carbs in them. But per gram of fat there are 9 calories. You can see the problem, right? If you’re trying to restrict your calorie intake then the easiest first step is to cut back on some fats, rather than the carbs. Avoid adding extra oils to your meals and cutting some of the visible bits of fat off your meat are 2 quick steps to take here.

2. Being all about restriction. What will keep you fuller for longer, and so not want to snack on rubbish, is protein. So, instead of cutting back on everything try focusing on adding more protein into your diet. A good target: start your day right with a big portion of protein in your first meal. If that’s breakfast, then a bowl of cereal won’t cut it. Try eggs, or a bacon sandwich. Both those options are more satiating (ie. keep you feeling full). This means that you don’t reach for the biscuits as soon as you get to the office because you’re ‘feeling peckish’. Instead, you last through until lunchtime.

3. Not accounting for your overindulgences. There’ll be Christmas parties. Enjoy them. But you know they are coming so account for that in advance. For example, Friday night office Christmas Party? Then on Wednesday and Thursday why don’t you eat a little less each meal. That way the overindulgence at the party roughly balances out your calories for the week, so you avoid/minimise any fat gain.

A bonus point here: within every decision there’s always a slightly better option. Picture this: you’re at that Christmas party – do you have 3 mince pies, or 2? Do you have pints of beer, or bottles? Those are small changes, but they all add up to make a difference.

Enjoy your holidays when they come.

Max

31 October 2022

Warming Up In The Cold

Guest post by Max Roger

Like it or not it’s getting colder on those morning runs. This does have implications for your training as your body will be stiffer as the blood isn’t flowing around it as readily. Instead, the blood is kept in your core to keep your vital organs warm.

This means that you need to warm up more. You may have got away with not
warming up over the summer, but you’ll need it now for 2 main reasons:

1. To get your body able to perform at the level it can. Going into a session
warmed up means you can hit the ground running (see what I did there?)
each session. Otherwise, it can be grim reading looking at your Strava and
seeing your splits getting worse.

You can also be pushing harder to hit the splits that you want, but without the
required blood flow at the start of your session this takes much more energy
than you’d expect. You’ll then come out of that session more fatigued than
expected, and in extreme cases might even bonk during your session as your
body didn’t have enough energy available. This is more likely when you do
early morning runs before breakfast.

2. Get injured less. Running with cold muscles means that they try to work hard
without the required blood flow. Muscles need blood to deliver the oxygen and
nutrients required to work, as well as take the waste products away from
them. As well as that, they will have tightened up overnight, so blood needs to
get flowing into and through them again to loosen them up back to where they
should be for a training session. Rolled out of bed and stumbled the 1 st km as
your Achilles are really tight? Should have warmed up.

Out-working your muscle’s capacity often leads to muscle strains and pulls -
and that’s much more frustrating than the pain of having to do a warm-up!
Warm up to get a better blood flow so that your muscle capacity matches
what you’re asking from it.

The warmup can be small. For example, 10 bodyweight squats and 10 glute
bridges, inside where it’s warm, twice. You should work to get as deep as you
can on those squats, ideally having a slight pause at the bottom of each rep
and trying to feel a stretch in your Achilles as you do.

That’s a bare minimum but it will get that blood flow kickstarted!

Get in touch if you want more detailed help with your training.

29 September 2022

Training Ankle Stiffness

Guest post by Max Roger

Why do we train ankle stiffness?

Firstly, let’s clarify. A stiff ankle doesn’t mean it’s not mobile. You want to have good mobility so that you can perform lots of movements (eg. squats) safely and effectively. But ankle stiffness is required when you want to run efficiently.

What does it mean? That every time you hit the ground, with your heel slightly off it (that’s what you want, rather than striking the ground with your heel) you want to avoid your ankle sinking too far towards the ground (and certainly avoid it hitting the ground)!

The more it moves towards the ground the more energy is being wasted. That’s the lack of efficiency. So, improving this means that you can run at the same pace as before for longer, or the same distance but faster. Both those options sound great, right?!

3 ways to improve your ankle stiffness:

1. Skip: 3 sets of 20s a couple of times a week is great. No rope? Just imagine you have one – it’s the bouncing off the balls of your feet that makes the difference here (ie. keep your heels off the ground).

2. Split squats with an active foot (ie. front foot is on ball of foot rather than flat). This is where you are in a lunge position and keep your feet still as you do all the reps (3 sets of 8s is a good start) then switch legs. The active foot is where you start with your front heel off the ground, and keep it like that for the whole rep. (See photo above)

3. Focus on this when you run - think ‘bouncy’ and light on your feet, keeping your heels away from the ground.

For more depth on these ways get in touch with me via email at max@max-
performance.co.uk

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