Strength Work for when we have no time.. Sprint Read!

Hello Everyone! 

I hope you’ve had a great week of training and that you’re looking forward to a nice weekend long run! Plus maybe a Parkrun in the mix tomorrow? 

Next Monday I have an article all about motivation, with some tips and tricks for what to do if you’re struggling to get out the door.. which believe me happens to everyone! So stay tuned for that.  

For this weeks sprint read I wanted to talk about a few ways of working on your strength routine. These are just some simple basic exercises which can be done from the comfort of your own home while you are doing other regular day to day tasks, like brushing your teeth! No equipment or expensive gym memberships required. So no excuses! 

Do you do any of these? Or have your own favourites? 

This are a few of mine that I try to drop into my day when I can. Perform the given number of repetitions based on your level then take a minute to recover between sets. Photos of me doing these are below to help! 

Bridges - Perfect for watching the TV! 
Work your hamstrings and hips better stability and stride length. 
Beginner - 3 x 10 
Intermediate - 3 x 15 
Advanced - 3 x 20 

Bridges, watching the Office... sadly Sarah prefers USA office. It's UK Office for me!

Bridges, watching the Office... sadly Sarah prefers USA office. It's UK Office for me!

Calf Raises - Perfect for brushing your teeth, or in the shower! 
Strengthen your calves for improved balance and more pop in your stride. 
Beginner - 3 x 10 
Intermediate - 3 x 15 
Advanced - 3 x 20 

Calf Raises brushing teeth! Electric brush at home.. only travel with a manual. Pointless fact.

Calf Raises brushing teeth! Electric brush at home.. only travel with a manual. Pointless fact.

Squats - Perfect for when you're cooking the dinner! 
Stronger glutes help provide stability and generate POWER! 
Beginner - 3 x 10 
Intermediate - 3 x 15 
Advanced - 3 x 20 

IMG_5023.jpeg

Plank - Perfect for reading a book! 
Build your core to support your upper body. 
Beginner - 3 x 30 seconds 
Intermediate - 3 x 60 seconds 
Advanced - 3 x 90 seconds 

Planking reading a book... about planking reading a book..

Planking reading a book... about planking reading a book..

Walking Lunges - Perfect for moving room to room! 
Building overall leg strength and help with coordination 
Beginner - 3 x 8 (each leg) 
Intermediate - 3 x 12 (each leg) 
Advanced - 3 x 15 (each leg) 

Lunges going from the lounge to the kitchen!.. Ahhhh I need to tidy my desk!!

Lunges going from the lounge to the kitchen!.. Ahhhh I need to tidy my desk!!

Many runners skip their strength work and don’t build it into their weekly schedule because perhaps it is seen as time consuming or not important or just plain boring! And while my ideas above make it a bit more fun and accessible for all, doing strength work on a regular basis will mean that your body will be able to cope better with the increased load you are putting through it, especially as the miles start building up. It is around now that people start picking up niggles due to weaknesses and imbalances in the body so it is great to help prevent injuries. 

Let us know down in the comments what strength work you like to do! 

All the best 
See you Monday 
Keep on getting it done! 
Ben

What I Eat In A Day YouTube Video

I’ve made my latest What I Eat In A Day video on YouTube to follow along to, so watch it here.

All the ingredients you need are below!

PORRIDGE OATS

50g OATS
300ML COCONUT MILK
5 CHUNKS MANGO
HANDFUL SULTANAS
BLUEBERRIES
10g CHIA SEEDS
50g ALMONDS
25g PECAN NUTS
1 BANANA

TOMATO SOUP N RICE
(4-6 portions)
1 SMALL ONION
5 GARLIC CLOVES
20ISH OLIVES
250g FROZEN VEG
800g PASSATA
1L VEG STOCK
HERBS
1 TIN KIDNEY BEANS
SALT / PEPPER
100g RICE (per portion)

BOLOGNESE
(Serves 4)
2 PEPPERS
350g SOY MINCE
250g VEGGIE PASTA
Handful MUSHROOMS
1 Tin KIDNEY BEANS
2 Tins TOMATOES
20ish OLIVES
1 ONIONS
50g PEAS
3 GARLIC CLOVES
1 COURGETTE

Let me know how you get on with your creations, tag me on Instagram (@benparkes) so I can see!
Have fun!

Injured? Sick? Commitments? Holidays? Life happens! So here’s my guide to get you back on track!

Life happens.. but don’t panic!

Life happens.. but don’t panic!

Hello Runners! 

How is your week ahead looking? As we move closer to the big day, the training is growing, the possibility of missing a few runs grows. So this week we are talking about how to get back on track if that happens. 

I’d happily make a guess that no runner has ever followed a training plan perfectly, there are just so many variables that can get in the way. People pick up niggles, get sidelined, winter training usually means battling colds and the flu, sometimes we just don’t fancy it and of course there’s family time, work deadlines and holidays.. the list is endless! 

For this week's long read I’ve answered a few common questions, then below I’ve written a quick guide to help you get back on plan depending on how much time you’ve had off from running. So let’s get to it.. 

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Should I go back and do the runs I’ve missed? 

Many runners will panic if they miss a run, then try and make up those miles somewhere else. In my eyes this is a surefire way of picking up a niggle, because the last thing you want to do when the body is feeling a little weaker is to throw a higher training load at it. 

If you miss a run, I’d be inclined to say to just let it go, move on and focus on what’s coming up next.  

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I’m worried about the fitness I’ve lost or will lose, how can I stop that? 

It’s only natural to go into panic mode, when you realise you can’t or haven’t run for whatever reason. But don’t panic as you have plenty of time to get things right before losing fitness.  

While of course it’s true that you won’t be adding fitness if you aren’t training, you also won’t necessarily be losing that much either, well not as much as you might think. Most runners can take 7 days off running before any reduction in fitness takes effect. So if you have to miss a few runs here and there then don’t panic. 

The first run back after a bit of a break might feel a bit sluggish, but after a few runs you’ll quickly be back to feeling where you were before. 

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I feel guilty about missing run? Or I’m worried I’ll now miss my time? 

When we take time away, I find it's the mental side of our running that suffers the most. While our body is having time out (and no doubt benefiting from the recovery!) our brain inevitably goes into over-drive, by analysing everything and it takes a big confidence knock about whether we can achieve our goals.  

Dealing with a bigger injury, something like a stress fracture, is hard.. don’t get me wrong, not every reason for having time away is the same (you might like to read my blog post on the mental side of dealing with bigger injuries here.. ) 

But fear not. Take a look back over all the training you have achieved, all those miles banked. As we saw above, fitness takes longer to decline that you might have realised. Hitting our goal time is mostly based around building a consistent training block and missing a handful of runs, all be it frustrating, won’t impact that. 

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What should I do if I'm injured? 

With any injury or potential injury, it’s always worth seeking professional advice from a physio or sports doctor.  

That way it will give you a plan of what to do and how to get back up and running again.  

Of course there are so many areas we can work on outside of the actual running part such as reading and race day research etc. And as long as your physio says it's ok to do so, you can help keep your fitness levels up by cross training, doing some swimming or cycling as well as some other strength training or yoga. It will mean that it wont be such a big shock to the system when you do start running again. 

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I probably hit about 85% of my training for Valencia and still hit my time, so you can do it!

I probably hit about 85% of my training for Valencia and still hit my time, so you can do it!


So with all that in mind, how should we get back to running? 

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Missing a training run 

If you miss a run, don't worry about it. For marathon training the long run is the most important one of the week, so try your upmost to get that one in if possible. (Obviously not if you’re injured) You might want to move one of the others around to get your long run, making sure you have a recovery period planned after it. 

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Missing 3 days to a week 

Providing you have built up a good level of fitness and consistency up until your break then you shouldn’t be losing fitness over this period. Your legs might feel lethargic on your first couple of runs back, but that should quickly disappear. I’d suggest keeping all your runs at a low intensity ‘easy’ pace for the first 3-4 days, while sticking to the planned distances. Then if everything is feeling good after 3-4 days, return to the plan as normal, just be sure to listen to your body and don’t push too soon. 

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A week to two weeks of no running 

You may have lost a slight amount of fitness so I’d suggest running most of your runs at an easy pace for the first week back just to get back into the swing of things. If you are following a plan, drop the mileage by 10%-20% of whatever it says to give your body chance to ease back in. If you wanted to add some strides (short bursts of 100m at 90% effort, with a 30 seconds rest, usually done after a easy run) then they build strength, while not adding much fatigue and are a good way of coming back. 

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More than two weeks off 

By this stage you will have lost some fitness, so it’s going to take a couple of weeks to build safely back up to where you were. 

Again concentrate on your easy runs, with strides and some hills repeats after 5-7 days.  

Drop your mileage by 20-30% from the recommended amount for week 1, 10% for week 2, then you should be good to get back on plan after that. 

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Like so much in running, there is no perfect solution and people will all be slightly different. The most important thing to getting back on track is listening to your body and adapting your training to how you are feeling. It’s important to note that our muscles and bones adapt at different rates, so jumping straight back into full training after a prolonged time off can cause excess stress on our bones. So take it easy, there’s no harm in dropping the intensity for a few days and come back safely. 

Not one run, or workout will ever make a great race.. you are trying to achieve consistency over the whole training cycle.  

Feel free to ask any questions below and I’ll do my best to answer them! 

Here’s to a great week of training ahead, 
All the very best 
Ben

Race day preparation.. starts months before race day!

Hello Runners! 

With so many of us battling extreme temperatures at the moment, I thought it would be good to fast forward a few months to think about the big day... RACE DAY! Where hopefully we'll all be treated to a calm, sunny day with perfect running temperatures.. I can't wait. 

So for this week's quick read.. let’s talk about race day research. 

It always amazes me how many runners wake up on race day and don't even know how to get to the start line, let alone knowing the route or where the water stations are. So with around two to three months to go, these are the questions I'd be asking myself.. and I’ve split this up into what I’d call mandatory, great if you can and ones for the obsessives! 

Have a read through and see what you think. Would you add anything else to the list? How do you prepare to make your race day as smooth as possible? 

Mandatory 

Is your race number being sent out to you or do you need to go to an expo before the race to collect it? Look up the times that the expo is open and plan your trip there. If you can’t go, then organise someone else to go for you! 

What time does the race start? What time should I get there? 

What start line do you need to go to if there is more than one? 

Plan meeting points with friends/family for during, but most importantly after the race. 

Where are the water / gel stations? How often are they? Is there sports drink too? What are they giving out? Does that match my own nutrition? 

What is the kit bag situation? Can you leave your own bag? Or do you need to use a bag provided by the organisers? 

If you are staying in a hotel, plan your race day breakfast, so you’ll have what you want on the day?  

Plan the route to the start line for race day. Hotel to start line, home to start line, tent to start line! Trains, cars, taxis, planes.. boats (which is a popular option for the London Marathon!) 

Make your race day checklist. If you want to download mine as a PDF, then have a look here.. 



Great if you can 

Research the course map and profile, so you know where any hills are.  

Do a practice run of your journey from home/hotel to the start line. 

Cycle the route, so you’re familiar with it on race day. 

Read some race reports / blogs / YouTube videos from runners who have done the race. 

Are there toilets and showers on the course? 

Plan out the day for your spectators, do this now then they won’t be hassling you on the day. 

Plan your clothes and kit for after the race. 

Research pacing groups? Will there be other running targeting your time? 

Plan your race day playlist if you're listening to music on the day.. (most UK races do ban this now) 


Obsessives 

Run the route (in two goes maybe!) 

Plan where friends / family could hand you nutrition or drinks 


So there's a few things to be thinking about at this point in time. Of course DON'T PANIC if you don't know the answers, there's plenty of time to get your plan in place.. research it and know that you'll be arriving at the start line in the best possible shape. 

Have I missed anything out? I'm sure I will have done.. so let me know below! 

Have a great weekend everyone. I'll be back on Monday with some more training tips and tricks to help you out with running, staying injury free and what to do if injury strikes and you have to miss some of your plan. 

See you then, happy running! 
Ben 

Fuel for Long Runs - Feeling good all the way to the end!

Hello everyone!  I hope you’ve all had a great weekend training and everything is going to plan, let me know how it’s all going? Are you getting excited yet?

This week I wanted to talk about fuel for your longer training runs.. by that I mean anything over 90 minutes.  How to go about it, ideas of things you can take, things you might want to avoid and also let you know what I tend to do.  From the outset I’d just like to say there certainly isn’t a right or wrong answer here and every person is different, what works for me may not work for you so please use this as guide and feel free to add in what works for you below too!

Your long run will give you the perfect opportunity to tinker with your fuel plan so you can be as confident as possible on race day.  Practice now, for race day success! 

I’m going to split this up into sections to make it easier to read and digest, so let’s go!

1 - 2 hours before your weekend long run.

For a lot of people this will mean breakfast.  For me it’s 2 bagels, peanut butter and jam… then some sports carbohydrate drink.  Simple, easy to digest and I know that won’t give me any stomach troubles.  Some other good options could be porridge, cereal, toast, bananas, granola.  As a plant based runner they suit my diet, but I know that won’t be for everyone, so you might also look at pancakes, waffles, fruit and yoghurt, muffins or eggs on toast.  Long story short, try a few different things and go with the option that you digest the best!  It’s always good to hydrate properly in the morning, so I always have a pint of water when I get up, regardless of if I’m running or not. 

30 Minutes before your run.

I’d have around 1 pint of water or carbohydrate drink. 

During the run.

I’d recommend having some form of energy intake around every 30-45 minutes, while you’re running. In general this means 30 to 50 grams of carbs every hour.  For many this will mean taking some gels with you.  Our body can store enough energy for around 1 1/2 to 2 hours of running and if we do nothing about it, we hit the dreaded wall. But if you take on board fuel, early on, we can delay this process happening, by keeping our glycogen levels topped up..and us running strong! 

If you don’t like gels then look at other food items you enjoy, such as bananas, raisins, jelly sweets, or purely sports drinks.  But you have to factor in what you can have with you on race day.  

What do you like using?  This is some of my selection at the moment!

What do you like using? This is some of my selection at the moment!

But what about carrying everything on training runs?

Ah yes, there is no perfect solution here.  My shorts have pockets for gels, so can easily carry 4 or 5 at a time. Some people will have handheld water bottles, others will have fuel belts to store gels or even hydration packs where you can put everything in. For me I do some of my long runs on a short loop, where I can grab a bottle  that I’ve hidden in a bush.  There is no harm in stopping for a few minutes to take some fuel or drink on board. 

Spibelt is what I use.. click here for more info!

You could also ask a friend or family member to cycle alongside you and hand you water and gels when you need. It is a nice way for them to be involved in your training and provides you with a bit of company whilst being able to run free!


What works well?

I’d suggest trying a few different brands and seeing which one works well for you.  If you have no idea where to start then have a look at Science in Sport, High 5, Wiggle, Lucozade and I personally use Maurten (sparingly as they are expensive!) If you are looking for a more natural option then have a look for Spring Energy and if you think you’d prefer a jelly based one then look up Clif Bar Shot Bloks.  If you have something you are particularly passionate about then let everyone know in the comments down below and let’s all share what is good?!

Weather

In the cold your body actually uses more energy to stay warm, than it would in the heat to stay cool.  Coupled with the fact sweat will evaporate quickly in the cold, you may not feel the urge to drink and hydrate as much.  I always say drink to thirst, but you will have to remind yourself a bit more if it’s cold out.  You may also want to take some electrolyte tablets if you are lucky enough to be training in the heat at the moment.  

Race Day

Your training is not just about putting the miles in, it’s about putting together a solid fuelling and hydration strategy in place and practicing it! So get your plan together now, for what you want to do on the race.  If you plan to use the gels and drinks that are being provided by the race, then find out what they are and practice with them now.  If you want to use your own, then work out how you will carry them on race day and how many you want to be taking.  Practice practice practice! 


This is what key UK races will be giving out in 2019.  (Please double check though!)

London - Lucozade Gels at miles 14 and 21.5

Brighton - High 5 Energy Gel Aqua and High 5 Zero  - miles 5 / 11 / 15 / 20.

Manchester - Optimum Nutrition Gels - miles 6 / 9 / 11 / 22 / 24

Edinburgh - High 5 Gels - miles 9 / 16.2 / 21.75 / 24.25

Liverpool - Science in Sport Gels - miles 7.2 / 15.7 / 18.3 / 22.2


Keeping notes

After each run I’d suggest making a note about what worked well and what didn’t.  Then over time you’ll be able to build a picture of food and gels you like. 

Avoid copying others

Runners ask me all the time what gels I use, or drinks I take.  It’s very nice to be asked, but what I use might not necessarily work for you.  So by all means take what others use for a starting point, but try out a few different brands and find one that you like.  

Post Run

After your run, the recovery process starts, so try and get some food on board within 15-30 minutes of finishing.  A simple carbohydrate and protein snack will be sufficient.  I personally don’t have ‘recovery shakes’, unless it’s been a super hard run.. I just blend up some frozen fruit, nuts and almond milk.  It’s amazing the amount of elite athletes that will say chocolate milk is the best recovery option around, and it’s super cheap and easily available!


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So there we have it everyone.  I fully appreciate that in 2019 there are so many different and varied diets out there.. and with that you have to try and find your plan and what you’re happy with!  Feel free to ask any other questions and I’ll get back to everyone down below! 

Have a great week!

Ben

Hill Workouts on a Treadmill.. Perfect for Marathon or Ultra Training!

Hi Everyone!

As great as it would be if we all had a perfect hill to run up and down right outside our front door, for a lot of us.. there isn’t anything for miles around.

So attention turns to the treadmill and how we can effectively train on that, either when the weather is grim, or we need to get the elevation in.

These are four workouts that are quite advanced, but you can easily adjust the reps, or time to suit what you want to do. If you are new to hills on a treadmill I’d suggest halving all these workouts to 30 mins for your first few goes.

All the best and let me know how you get on!

Ben

WORKOUT 1 - 60 Minutes

15 Mins Easy - 1%
8x 3 Mins at 8%
2 Mins R
10 Mins Easy - 1%

WORKOUT 2 - 60 Minutes

5 Mins - Easy Jog WU.

20 Mins 6%
20 Mins 4%
10 Mins 3%

5 Mins Walk CD

WORKOUT 3 - 50 Minutes

5 Mins Warm UP

2% 5 Mins
4% 5 Mins
6% 5 Mins
8% 5 Mins
6% 5 Mins
4% 5 Mins

All with a 2 Mins walk/recovery in between. 

5 Mins Warm Down


WORKOUT 4 - 60 Minutes

3 Mins Tempo
3 Mins 6%
4 Mins Easy

x6

Nervous, worried, feeling it's all too much? Don't worry.. it's normal and we're here to help!

Hello Runners!

Here we go, kicking off another week.. another week of training in the bank and another week closer to the big day… are you getting excited yet?!

What I wanted to talk about today was nerves, getting worried and scared, feeling like it’s all too much, unsure if you can complete it and dealing with pressure.

When I was training for my first few marathons (my goal was sub 4 hours at that time) I always felt that everyone else out there found the training easy and I was alone with all the struggles I was facing. Fast forward to 2019, I still find the training hard and still get nervous, but spend lots of time learning and seeking out the best answers to my questions.

So for this week's longer read, I wanted to try and help you with some things you might be worried about. These are all questions I’ve been sent in the last week, so wanted to share my answers to try and help more runners out.

As always, there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer sometimes, so please feel free to comment below with your advice too.. or add your own questions in the comments, so that I can get back to you there!

So here we go!

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I’ve missed a run from my plan, will I be ok?

I’d hazard a guess that 99.99% of runners won’t do every run exactly on their plan. Life gets in the way, illness and injury can strike and so on. But don’t worry. I’d say that if you hit 80% of your runs on the plan then you’ll be ok! Focus on your weekly long run, your speed session and a shorter easy low intensity run. Success comes from consistency over the course of a whole plan so focus on that rather than having to hit and smash every run or session.

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I get tired on my long runs, am I doing something wrong?

For many runners the traditional weekend long run is now getting over an hour, so it’s certainly time to think about taking some nutrition along with you. Gels are certainly easy and convenient and good practice for race day, where you will most likely have them with you. My advice on a brand? Try as many as you can! Just because it works for me, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Some runners prefer ‘real’ food, such as bars or fruit. So if you don’t like the sound of gels, then try other options. Whatever you feel is going to work, start with that and practice it and don’t be afraid to try various options.

It’s usually best to eat and drink something around 2 hours to 1 1/2 hours before you set out on your run, so your body will have enough time to digest it.

Finally if you are tired at the end, then it’s because you’ve been working hard.. stick with it and after weeks and months of continuously showing up and getting it done, that same effort will get easier.

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I sometimes stop on my long runs, is that ok?

There are so many reasons why we might stop during a run. Getting food or water, going to the loo, giving yourself a breather, take a photo, chat to a friend you etc etc.. whatever the reason it’s completely fine! If you go out for a long run, of say.. 2 hours and you spend 10 minutes, stopped, then there’s no problem with that at all. While of course it’s great if you can carry on, as it’s a good mental test for race day, it certainly won’t harm your training with a few stops here and there. One small additional note though, if you’re running a session, so intervals, hills, progressive, then try not to stop on those runs!

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Running 26 miles feels so far right now. Can I do it?

Yes you can! Well the statistics are on your side. In London, around 98.5% of people who start the race on Blackheath will cross the finish line outside Buckingham Palace. We all have many miles of training ahead over the next three to four months, training where you’ll go from a runner into a marathon runner. You’ll learn so much about yourself, there will be ups and downs, but ultimately if you can get yourself to the start line fit and healthy, chances are you’ll cross that finish line!

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I want to run a sub 4 hour marathon, but don’t think I can?

So many runners get time obsessed. They want to run a certain time on the day.. sub 3, sub 4, sub 5 etc. And while that’s a great goal to have, all you need to be thinking right now is the training process. What are you going to do today, what are you doing this week? I strongly suggest that the goal for any first time marathoner is just to finish and finish with a smile on your face. Then if you decide to run another race, you can work on improving your time with all the experience you have gained!

However you look at it, January is too early to be thinking about goal paces for race day. Concentrate on the training and leave the goal pace setting for 2-3 weeks before race day if you must!

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I know I need to do strength work, but don’t have time.. now I’m worried I’ll get injured?

Everyone should be trying to incorporate some strength work each week, but that doesn’t mean lifting heavy weights at the gym. My quick 5 exercise circuit I do at home includes Squats, Bridges, Calf Raises, Plank and Clams. You just need an exercise band for clams (around £5/$5 for a set on Amazon) and you could add some weight with a kettlebell over time with these as well. This short routine will really help if you can’t make it to the gym.

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What if I need the toilet during the marathon?

All big marathons will have plenty of toilets at the start. Just make sure you get there in enough time though because queues can be long! If you need to go during the race, then I've never ran a marathon without portable loos on the course.

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What happens if I can’t get water during the race?

In the London marathon there are water stations every mile of the race, so you will never be far away from getting fluids on board. They handed out 650,000 bottles last year, which is around 4.5L per runner. The key is always drink to thirst. If you’re thirsty then take a drink, if you’re not then carry on to the next one. If you’re still worried then you can take a bottle with you, or even a hydration vest. In 2019, they are extremely comfortable and then you’ll be safe knowing you can’t run out.

Practice drinking and running on your longer runs.. why not plot a looped route near your house, where you can leave a bottle on a table and practice running past every few miles and taking fluids on board?

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All my friends on Strava / Facebook / Instagram are doing so well. I feel left behind?

Social media.. ahh, yes. So many positives, but it can be hard to stop yourself from comparing yourself to other runners out there. Seeing what they are doing and worrying about your own training. As hard as it is, please please try not to compare yourself to anyone but your previous self. We are all on different journeys, with different goals, so while it’s great to chat to others and speak about what’s happening, the training you do needs to be right for you and you alone! Whether you are looking up Mo Farah’s schedule or Steve and Sue from next door, the only thing that matters is your training and not what anyone else is doing.

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I’ve got no one to talk to that understands what I’m going through?

There’s lots of communities out there full of runners, who will happily offer advice and support. I always say for people to drop me a message and I’ll try and help in any way I can. Or leave a message below and I’ll get back to you there.

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Finally, having a few nerves is a good thing. It shows you care and want to do well. You are capable of more that you think, get your plans in place, be confident and you’ll be amazing come race day.

Of course if you have any questions or things you are worried about then comment below and the community can help out. Chances are you are not alone and others are experiencing the same concerns so let’s speak up about them now so you can get to the start line feeling like you can tackle whatever is thrown at you!

Have a great weeks training everyone!!

Ben

How to get FASTER?! Three quick ways to improve your SPEED!

DOWNLOADABLE PACING CHART.. CLICK HERE!

Along with ‘what do you eat?’… oh and I suppose ‘who takes your photos?’ The question I get asked the most is how can I get faster?

My standard response is along the lines of make sure you’re running your easy runs easy and then including some form of regular speed work.

In this article I want to have a quick chat about 3 types of sessions, intervals, progressive runs and strides. In most training plans, including my own, these types of runs would appear during the week, on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, far enough away from your weekend long run to give you enough time to recover.

So without further ado, let's go!

INTERVALS

Intervals are runs where you run at high intensity for a pre-determined distance or time, then recover.. either by standing still or with an ultra low intensity jog or walk.

Running in this way improves your aerobic capacity (your VO2 Max, which shows how good your body is at both pumping blood and drawing oxygen from that blood to pass to your cells) and your lactate threshold (the time it takes for your muscles to become fatigued), which allows you to run faster for longer periods of time.

In simple terms.. improve these and you'll be able to run faster, for longer!

I’ve suggested a few workouts below, with the number of repetitions for beginners, intermediates or advanced runners. There are so many different permutations of intervals, all sorts of possibilities.. these are just a few basic ones to get you started!

As with any run, especially intervals.. make sure you are fully warmed up before you start. So add in 5 minutes of dynamic stretching and a 10 minute very easy jog before you begin.

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3 Minutes - 80% effort

Beginner - 4x 3 Minutes

Intermediate - 6x 3 Minutes

Advanced - 8x 3 Minutes

All with a 2 minute rest in-between reps.

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K’s and 400’s - 75% effort % 90% effort

Beginner - 3x 1km -> 3x 400m

Intermediate - 5x 1km -> 4x 400m

Advanced - 6x 1km -> 5x 500m

All with a 2 minute rest in-between reps.

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Mile Repeats Workout - 75% effort

Beginner - 3x 1 mile

Intermediate - 4x 1 mile

Advanced - 5x 1 mile

All with a 2 minute rest in-between reps.

If you're interested, then here is a mile repeats workout I did in the lead up to Valencia Marathon.

Screenshot 2019-01-17 at 12.24.32.png

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PROGRESSIVE RUNS

A progressive run is when you start slow and get increasingly fast as the run goes on… your speed progresses!

It is a great session to include in your marathon training as it teaches discipline in pacing, forcing you to start easy and gradually increase pace.

It is also a great mental test to keep pushing through to the end when things get really tough..

And it give you experience of pushing hard when you legs are tiring, all big factors that will lead to a successful marathon.

Personally I like to do all my progressive runs in KM’s, being a shorter distance than a mile there are more changes of speed and I believe a better training effect.

If you’re unsure of what pace to start at, have a look at my downloadable pacing chart.. click here! and start at your ‘easy’ pace. Then aim to finish your final KM somewhere between your Tempo pace and Interval pace.

Beginners - 6KM

Intermediate - 8KM

Advanced - 10KM

Plan out your run before you start and aim to take roughly 10-20 seconds off the KM before as you speed up. I suggest you have ‘lap pace’ and ‘last lap pace’ on your watch screen so you remember what your previous km pace was that you need to beat.

My watch set up is below for this workout and also a screenshot of the last progressive run I did. (I never really planned that run out, I just went and did it on feel, but it will give you an idea of how it should look!)

Distance / Lap Pace / Last Lap Pace and Time.

Distance / Lap Pace / Last Lap Pace and Time.

The end result should look something like this! With each KM getting faster and faster

The end result should look something like this! With each KM getting faster and faster

STRIDES

Finally we come onto Strides. Strides help improve your form, increase your stride length and if done on a regular basis these things will start to translate into your day to day running and improve your efficiency.

I suggest adding one session per week, after an easy run. Fundamentally they are short bursts of speed, for around 20-30 seconds, or 100-150m, where you are running at 95% effort. Then take a 30 second break between efforts.

It’s important to still concentrate on running tall and focus on form.

Beginner - 4 Strides

Intermediate - 6 Strides

Advanced - 8 Strides

Here's a quick video explanation of strides to help too!

So there you have it everyone, three types of sessions that will hugely benefit your marathon training. Let me know below what types of sessions you enjoy doing? Do you have any that work really well for you?

Keep up the training, run happy and keep on #gettingitdone

Adding Warm Up Races to Your Marathon Training Plan - My how to guide!

Hello everyone!  

I hope you’ve all had a great weekend training and all is going to plan, let me know.. how it’s all going? 

We are slowly moving towards what I like to call half marathon season, there are so many half marathons coming up in February, March and April, which provide perfect warm up races for those of us doing a Spring marathon. 

The trouble is though, how do we fit these races into our current training plans? Which ones should we run? Do we need to change our plan around to cater for them? How fast should we run them? 

This certainly poses a lot of questions, so here’s my advice! (As always please feel free to comment below with your thoughts and ideas as well) 

How many warm up races should I do? 

Like so much in running, there is no right or wrong answer here.. but if I had to give my advice then I’d say two warm up races would be perfect. If you are training for a marathon then I’d say two half marathons, or a half marathon and a 20 miler. For me a 10k is a bit short for a race during a marathon training cycle, but you could certainly race a 10k then add some extra distance on before or after to hit your distance goals for the week. 

When? 

Try to avoid anything in the last four weeks before the race, as here you’ll be wanting to get your final long runs in and start the taper. Ideally you’d do one with about 8-10 weeks to go and one about 5-6 weeks to go.  

Any recommendations? (With spaces remaining, sorry just UK only.. I can’t do a calendar for the whole world!) 

Worthing Half - 10th February - http://worthinghalf.co.uk 
Hampton Court Half - 17th February - http://hamptoncourthalf.com 

Surrey Half - 10th March - http://surreyhalfmarathon.co.uk 
Reading Half - 17th March - http://www.readinghalfmarathon.com 
Bath Half - 17th March - https://bathhalf.co.uk 
Fleet Half - 17th March - https://fleethalfmarathon.com 
London Landmarks Half - 24th March - https://www.llhm.co.uk 

Great Stirling Run - 28th April -  https://www.greatrun.org/great-stirling-run (ideal for those running the Edinburgh marathon which is later in the year) 


How fast? 

It’s always tempting to want to run every race flat out but bear in mind the recovery time needed to do this and keep telling yourself that the bigger goal is the marathon you are training for. My suggestion would be to race one half marathon at full speed and if you are doing another one then use it as a training run to practice your goal marathon race pace.  

Fuel? 

I would suggest practicing your marathon fuel strategy during your half. I’d recommend a gel every 30-40 minutes during the race, plus sips of water around every 15-20 minutes.  

What are the benefits? 

Practice practice practice. You can get familiar with running in your race kit. You can practicing taking on fuel and running plus running with others around you. Getting your body used to running at a certain time of day, and trialing your breakfast as well. Plus dealing with race day pressures and nerves, these races can be great confidence builders. Running races isn’t something you just know how to do, it takes practice and if anything doesn’t go quite right then you can figure out how to fix it so it doesn’t happen during the marathon. Dealing with water stations, learning to pace yourself and perfecting the finishing kick at the end. 

Does Parkrun count? 

Well as we all know Parkrun is not a race! But it is a brilliant way to practice your race day routine of arriving at the start line in the best shape possible. 

What changes should I make to my training plan? 

Before - If you are going to be losing a few miles on the weekly total because of the race, then don’t worry. A few miles over the course of hundreds in the whole plan won’t make any difference. Thursday / Friday keep the intensity low and rest the day before if that’s your usual plan. If not then a few easy miles will be perfect. 

After - If you have given your race a hard effort, take a rest day the following day.. possibly two days if you’re feeling extra fatigued. If your training plan usually calls for speed work on Tuesday then I’d suggest doing an easy run instead and moving the speed session to Wednesday or Thursday. If you used the race as a training run, I’d suggest having a rest day, then carrying on with your plan. The golden rule is listen to your body and how are you feeling on the day. 

Anything else? 
A marathon training cycle is a long time, usually 16-18 weeks. If you have nothing but one race at the end it will be pretty dull. Having a couple of races really helps break up the routine, gives you something to look forward to and keeps running fun. 

And finally.. 
With any training plan, the likelihood of running every run on it to plan is pretty much 0%. I’d say that if you hit around 80% of your planned runs and concentrate on getting your long runs in then you’re in for a good day come race day. Don’t panic, no training plan is perfect, life isn’t perfect, be flexible and adapt to what you want to do. We are all running for our hobby at the end of the day, there is no prize money on the line, our jobs don’t depend on it.. have fun, smile and enjoy the process! 

Have a great week everyone!