31 October 2022
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
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-
27 August 2022
Maybe you don’t use a gym right now. Or maybe you went on holiday and started doing some bodyweight training and really enjoyed it. That’s ok - but the key is knowing how to actually progress your bodyweight training.
Create muscle damage purposefully and allow yourself to recover
If you don’t progress it then after your body has adapted to the initial stimulus of
bodyweight training it will stop. You might make yourself tired and burn some
calories, but you’re not actually getting stronger or more powerful. That increase in strength is important for minimising your injury risk when you run as well as actually improving your running performance. We all want a faster 5km don’t we?
So how can you progress your bodyweight training? The underlying principle is to seek muscle damage. When you do this purposefully though training, and then allow yourself to recover, you’ll get stronger. There are different ways to do this:
1. More reps
2. Less rest
3. Add pauses
4. Slower eccentric (lowering phase of a movement)
5. More explosive reps
All will work, but instead of randomly choosing them you’re best to pick one and stick with it for 2-4 weeks. Then you can choose another one.
For example: if I want to do bodyweight squats on a Monday I might do 3 sets of 20 reps. It’s too easy so the next week I add a 2s pause at the bottom of each rep. Now that’s much harder so I might only manage 3x12 reps.
Now I have a choice next week: either aim for 3x13 or more, or go for 3x12 but
increase it to a 3s pause. The key thing is that I’m sticking with the same variable: in this case pauses.
After 4 weeks of this I would pick something else, maybe going for 4x20 reps but with a shorter rest between each set, and seeing if I can complete it with a shorter rest each week.
If that all sounds confusing then get in touch with me at email@example.com and I’ll happily talk you through it.
23 July 2022
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you want some ideas for Summer holiday training.
04 July 2022
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.