29 January 2022

Why Strength Train?

Guest post by Max Roger

Strength training is the forgotten child of run training. However, it could be the thing that moves your performance forward the most this year.

There are 2 main reasons to strength train:

1. Increase the capacity of your body to handle training and racing.
2. Improve your performance with greater power and efficiency (less energy leaks) per stride.

Both of these also have the side-effect of decreasing your risk of injury.

Firstly, let’s clarify what I mean by strength training. The common perception is that it’s lifting really heavy weights – the sort of stuff that you see sweaty blokes doing in the gym, grunting and leaving everything a mess. But strength training is simply training where you challenge your posture and position with external load.

This could start with no external load, with bodyweight movements. You can progress this by slowing down the movement, or pausing in different places. When that becomes too easy you can introduce some weights. If you’re already at this stage then it can involve heavier and heavier weights until it’s judged that you’re at a point of diminishing returns. If you’re currently not doing anything then start with 1 session a week. Over time this can build to 3 – or even more at certain times of the year if you require it.

“Strength training is where you challenge your posture and position with external load.”

The important thing is that you are challenging your body in different Primal Movements, which will strengthen you and so help to improve your performance and decrease your risk of injury. The Primal Movements are:

1. Squat
2. Hinge
3. Lunge
4. Brace
5. Rotate
6. Push
7. Pull

Squat and lunge variations are fairly simple, bending at the ankle, knee and hip with your legs beside each other for a squat, and having one leg in front of the other and doing that for a lunge. A hinge is where you bend at your hips but keep your back flat, such as a single leg RDL. Bracing can be as basic as a plank or involve walking as you hold things in different positions. Rotation is usually missed but is hugely important and can be anything from a Russian twist to a lateral medicine ball throw. Pushing and pulling should cover doing this overhead, as well as forwards and backwards.

All are important to develop. Initially you might wonder why developing your upper body strength is important, but it allows you to use your arms more, which provides the stimulus for a more powerful leg drive. More importantly, it allows you to maintain your proper running form for longer, rather than hunching over (which is not only going to negatively affect your running performance but is also bad for your body in the longer term). This is especially important in longer races where you are carrying a backpack for your water, or even longer where you have other supplies in there.

If you’re not sure where to start then contact me at max-performance.co.uk and we can have a call to go over it.

28 December 2021


Guest post by Max Roger

This is the time of the year when most people set some New Year’s Resolutions. Another word for these is ‘goals’. However, by the end of January 2022 nearly every single one that is set, and set with great intentions, will have been failed and forgotten. So, what can you do to make sure that you aren’t one of those people? How can you achieve your goal?

This article will look at just that, covering: the 3 different types of goals, the importance of a date, and breaking it down into baby steps.

Firstly, it’s important to understand the 3 different types of goals so that you can then bear this in mind when making yours to ensure that you pick the best type (yes there is a best type). The 3 types are: process, performance, and outcome.

An outcome goal is what most people go for – and that’s a big reason that most people fail with their goal. It’s where all you think about is that end goal. Examples of outcome goals are; ‘losing 5kg of fat’, or ‘getting a faster 5km time’. There’s no detail here at all, and certainly nothing controllable.

A performance goal is better. It’s where you have a metric that you’re measuring that will contribute towards your outcome. For example, ‘I’ll run slightly faster than my last race in this next one for 4 out of the 5km’. Whilst that’s likely to get you a better 5km time, it’s still focused on the outcome and not detailed enough to make a difference to you. There’s also very little that is controllable there.

Having a date puts some pressure on you, as you know that if you do let things slip, you’re making it harder and harder to achieve your goal with that impending deadline looming.

The 3rd type of goal is the process goal. (This is the best one that I mentioned)! A process goal is one where you focus on the things that you can control (the ‘controllables’) that, if completed, will get you to achieve your goal. An example is ‘doing 3 training runs per week at the prescribed pace’, or ‘completing all programmed sets in the gym each week’. If you consistently do these things, that is what will make the difference and get you a faster 5km time.

Now that we know what type of goal you want, it’s important to add an end date to it. A date helps to keep you accountable to your goal. Without it it’s far easier to let things slip, saying things such as; ‘I’ll do it tomorrow instead’, or ‘another mince pie won’t matter’. However, having a date puts some pressure on you, as you know that if you do let things slip, you’re making it harder and harder to achieve your goal with that impending deadline looming.

The date shouldn’t be so close that it’s impossible to achieve, or so far that it seems distant and unimportant. It’s about finding that sweet spot where it’s challenging but possible if you perform your controllables.

That ties us into the third section: baby steps. These are the small goals along the way to your bigger one, that if you do focus on the process and the things that you can control, you will achieve. It’s important to have these as often a big goal can seem daunting. If it’s too daunting, then when things are really getting tough (and you will go through phases of this when you pursue any goal) it’s much easier and more likely that you will quit. However, if the focus is on the next baby step – the next small process goal – then that is a far less daunting task, so when the going gets tough making progress still seems achievable and so you keep putting in the required hard work.

Now that you understand the sort of goal that will give you the best chance of success (keeping it process focused, with an end date, and broken down into baby steps) it’s the perfect time to make your own. Write them down and put it up somewhere that you’ll see every day. Good luck!

If you want help in designing them, or what the process can look like for your big goal, then contact me at max@max-performance.co.uk

28 November 2021

Holiday Nutrition

Guest post by Max Roger

You want your training and performance in the New Year to be as good as possible. This means that if you pile on the fat over the holidays that you’ll be trying to lose it come January. To lose fat you need to be in a calorie deficit (where you take in less calories through eating and drinking than you burn). In a calorie deficit your performance suffers as your body doesn’t have enough fuel to sufficiently support the performance that you want.

So how can you avoid this? Plan ahead. It starts now: throughout December get ahead of this. You want to have fun during the holidays, but you need to keep your bigger goals in mind – and so you don’t want to pile on the pounds as your performance (and physique) will suffer as a result.

The problem is that the holidays means 2 things:

1. More sitting around as you relax, spending time with family and friends.
2. More food and alcohol (it goes hand in hand with being with family and friends).

In more detail:

1. It’s not that spending time with your family is the problem – it’s that this invariably means that you are less active than usual. If you’re less active (less general activity, walking to the coffee machine or up flights of stairs in your office building, etc.) then you’re burning less calories every day. That’s part of the equation of what leads to gaining fat.
2. Increasing your food and alcohol intake increases your total calorific intake (the other part of the equation for gaining fat). Here’s a simple breakdown of the calories that the basic food groups contain: 1g of protein = 4calories (cals)
1g of carbohydrate = 4cals
1g of fat = 9cals
Alcohol = 7cals (plus the ‘carrier’ it’s in – ie. beer or wine has additional calories).

Not only this, but alcohol negatively affects the quality of your sleep, which in turn negatively affects your hormone balance: you’ll end up with less testosterone, and more cortisol. This means that you’ll feel more stressed, store more fat, and make poorer nutritional decisions the next day as a result, starting a negative snowball effect.

“If the food that you’re looking at doesn’t get you really wanting to eat it, then don’t”

This information is here to help you to be mindful of what you’re putting into your body. Think of this when you’re mindlessly snacking – do you really need that 5th cookie (as well as those 2 mince pies earlier)?

It can help you make better decisions. For example, if there’s a homemade dip on offer, do you have to use breadsticks or chips to dip into it, which have 4cals per gram? Probably not – you could use some carrot/celery sticks. The dip is the main event anyway.

Overall, take this mindset into your nutritional choices over the holidays, with a clear focus on the bigger picture of keeping yourself in great shape so that you can hit the ground running (pun intended) in January, rather than trying to simply get back to where you were: if the food that you’re looking at doesn’t excite you and get you really wanting to eat it, then don’t. It’s the mindless, mediocre food that is just wasted calories and will take your calorie intake up way past where it normally is.


26 November 2021

Introducing Max

We are delighted to announce a collaboration with Max Roger of Max Performance. Along with helping us test our men’s kit, Max will be contributing monthly guest posts on our blog, where he will be sharing fitness and nutrition advice. 

Max is a strength and conditioning coach from Scotland, who has coached in the UK, Australia and Hong Kong, and is now based near us in Bedford. He has coached at a professional level in rugby union, has rowing experience, and trained athletes to marathon and ultramarathon finishes. He has also coached applicants through military selection.

Max specialises in helping runners maintain the muscular physique that he and his clients are after despite long training miles. Most recently he has competed in a half marathon (winner of his age group) and ultramarathon (overall winner). You can find out more at his website and Instagram


So here we are, at the time of writing, in the middle of lockdown 2.0, with many people having to work from home again, and keeping to small household groups. Judging by the numbers out and about here in Bedford, it has proved just as important for people to go outside and stretch their legs, whether walking, running or cycling.

Having a bit more time to exercise has given me the opportunity to open my eyes and ears to this wonderful time of year. I personally have rediscovered the childlike joy of running and walking through the richly coloured autumn leaves and having that rustle and crunch underfoot, dodging (or not) the rain and enjoying the low, brief sun. I have been following a Garmin half marathon training program for a race that will never happen. Instead of just going out aimlessly running it has kept me motivated and challenged, as I prefer to have some structure.

Wearing my other hat as a freelance pattern cutter, I have been surprisingly busy working remotely with my fashion clients. The projects have been varied, from evening and bridal dresses to tailoring and even some uniforms for upmarket restaurants and hotels, so it has turned out a lot more interesting than I expected. More on that perhaps in another blog post.

Living and working alongside Teresa and one of our sons who moved back home just before the first lockdown, has kept me sane and grounded. The other bright side to this situation is that, like many people, I have more time to hone my bread baking hobby and try out some new things. I even baked my first batch of croissants last week, which turned out okay according to my captive tasters!

Turning back to Fervour, we have used this time to work on ideas for the up and coming festive season. For the first time we will be offering gift cards, gift packaging and a 3 for 2 offer to make gift-giving easier, for what might be one of the very oddest Christmases.

So as the nights get to their longest point in a few weeks, there is the tantalizing possibility of being able to get together with loved ones, albeit perhaps not in the same way we did last Christmas.

Like many people, we are looking forward to seeing the end of 2020, but before that we have Christmas with a bright star on the horizon in the form of a vaccine.

Now there is hope for the New Year of 2021.


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