Monday, 1 July 2013

Practically Perfect Pacing

Whether you are a first time runner coming to a grinding halt on your Sunday run or experienced marathon veteran trying to find the perfect pace for a PB, correct pacing can be elusive. In this article we will have a look at how to get closer to perfection.

Pacing is about trying to get from A to B as fast and as efficiently as possible. To achieve this you can run a negative split: aim to run the second half faster than the first. Positive split: run the first half faster than the second half. Finally even pace: run the same pace all the way through. Each of this has positives and negatives. For example running a positive split can be very painful and leaves little room for error. However it can yield faster times for the right person/race/conditions. The flip side of this is running a negative split as it leaves great flexibility and is mentally easier to cope with. Picking a strategy is a personal experience based decision.

A way to gain understanding of what works best for you is with key sessions. This could be an out and back run where if you were running for 45mins you would head out for 23mins and run back in 22mins. The trick is to be back on the door step at 22mins, no faster, no slower. How did this feel? How far did you get? An alternative to this could be to run a loop that takes you 10mins while working hard. Complete the loop several times seeing if you can hold the same pace as the first lap. A final key session could be 4 x 1mile repeats with 3min recovery trying to hold best average pace. What times did you run? Did the times get faster? Did they slow? Was that because the first on was to fast? Answering these questions should tell you what strategy to use.

You then plan pacing based on your experience and the above sessions. For example you could have found that you naturally speed up through each. You therefore choose to negative split the 5k race you have coming up. Aiming to run the first mile in 10mins the second in 9mins 50secs and the third in 9min 45sec (You’ll have to sprint the 0.2 at the end).

On race day always be willing to change your pacing plans. You may find you are having a 'Mo day' i.e. everything feels easy and you are running quickly. Alternative you may have been feeling unwell and your breathing rate very rapid in which case you’ll need to slow down. Or it could be very hot and you’ll need to run that bit slower.

Remember the goal is to get from A to B as quickly as you are able to on the day!

If you would like an individual pacing programme or just further information please contact us at or call 07973 533943

Friday, 14 June 2013

The next big thing..........

Endurance is the going to be the next ‘big thing’ in training. With more people looking to take on greater and greater challenges in their lives, with more people running, biking swimming and Tri-ing (Pardon the pun)! The only way is to go beyond and take on epic sportives, Long distance triathlons and Ultra marathons. We’re going to explore one way of going about this.

Have you done any cardio-vascular training in the past 3 weeks?

No! Yes skip to following paragraphs.

Have you done any cardio-vascular in the past year?
No: Keep it easy! Endurance training is becoming efficient at utilising fuel in your body (Carbohydrates, fats and proteins), to produce energy aerobically (with oxygen), without undue fatigue.” Your first job is to build your aerobic base. This is all about low intensity exercise that allows you to become more efficient at using fat for energy production. An easy way to identify the heart rate that equates to your maximum fat burning intensity is, 180 minus your age. This is the formula suggested by renowned kinesiologist Phillip Maffetone. TEST: Warm up to this heart rate over 5min then hold for 20min. Record the distance you travel in the 20min. Cool down over 5min by reducing your heart to as close to the starting value as possible. Start training on non consecutive days. A minimum 3 times per week, for 20mins, below your magic number. Build the duration of your main sessions you by 3 -5% each week until you reach the maximum time you have to train. Every 2nd  week run the test. Every 6th week cut your training by 50%.  Once you no longer travel further in your test, it’s time to sep it up!

Have you done any cardio-vascular training in the past year. Assuming you have not done any in past 3 weeks?

Yes: Start training @ 33% of your pervious training volume.

This will prevent you from over stressing your body and picking up injuries. The most rapid fitness loss occurs over the first 3 weeks. Build your weekly training by replicating the above training pattern for 12 weeks. Now is the time to add in some higher intensity training.

Have you done cardio-vascular training in the past 3 weeks?

Yes: Become a lactate munching monster. The next threshold to work on is your Maximum Lactate Steady Sate (MLSS). Lactate is a by-product of glucose being broken down in muscle to make energy. “The maximal lactate steady state (MLSS) is defined as the highest blood lactate concentration (MLSSc) and work load (MLSSw) that can be maintained over time
without a continual blood lactate accumulation. A close relationship between
endurance sport performance and MLSSw has been reported.” (Sports Med 2003; 33 (6): 407-426)
Lactate shuttle, identified by George Brooks, is a key energy system for people wishing to improve there endurance to work on.
A simple way to establish the heart rate at which MLSS appears is: TEST warm up for 5 – 20min at increasing intensities. Ensure that you do not fatigue yourself doing this. Then record your average heart rate for the last 20min of a 30min maximal effort time trial. Cool down at a low intensity for 5 – 10min. Sub tract 5 beats per min from your average heart rate for the test. Each week add a session where you are working at this heart rate for intervals up to 20min long. E.g. A nice main session on a bike might be: 3 x 20min with 10min low intensity, easy effort recovery.

Have you been doing cardio-vascular training in the past 3 weeks?

Have you plateaued?

Yes. Ask yourself, am I absorbing my training,? Many people don’t allow the body to recovery sufficiently to adapt to training stress. Add recovery days and weeks into your programme. Alternate easy day of training with hard days of training. Have a day off each week. Every 3 to 6 weeks reduce your training by >50% in volume and keep the intensity low.

Have you been doing cardio-vascular training in the past 3 weeks?


How much time do you have each week to train?

< 8hours

If you are able to, build up to 8 hours of training each week. This is a point of diminishing return for aerobic exercise. Each hour after this you get less punch for your pound!


Make sure you are recovering as hard as you train. It could be better for you to have a couple of 30min power naps and a sports massage each week rather than training those extra 2 hours!

Hopefully by following a few of these steps they will help you on your way to going ultra. Always consult your GP and speak to a personal trainer before you start training. Follow us on facebook or twitter @djptsmater.

How to deal with stress part 3

Stress 3: trying to change you thought patterns

For many of the different ways that you might find yourself affected by stress current psychological theory would suggest that tackling your thoughts is another pretty effective strategy. One idea might be to begin by list all the individual worries or stresses that you have, Writing them down physically can often help to offer some clarity about the causes and can allow you to prioritise the order in which to tackle the issues and identify who could help you with each.

A cognitive behavioural therapy approach to managing stress would also suggest that our bodies respond physically to thoughts as though they are facts. For example, if you’re hungry and start to think of your favourite food you’ll salivate. In the same way if you have any “worst case scenario” thoughts your body will respond with a higher level of physical reaction than might be needed. Try to notice if your thoughts are balanced, or as is often common when feeling stressed, if some of the automatic thoughts that pop into your head are overly negative. Try thinking of a moment when you were especially stressed and then record all the negative thoughts that pop into your mind. Once you’ve written them down the evidence suggests that if you can evaluate them from a non-biased perspective, or get someone to help you to do this, then you might be able to reduce some of the emotional distress. There are lots of books or online resources that can help you with this or other CBT techniques if this seems like it might be helpful for you.

A big thank you to Dr Katherine Preedy of putting this together for us. To conatct katherine please email

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Prevention is better than cure!

The third article in the running series.
Many factors make up an increase risk of injury but most can be controlled. These factors include your diet, posture, running style, training plan and goals. We have started of addressing some of these by setting realistic, time lined goals and working on an efficient way to run.

When running it is important to keep perfect posture and engage your pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles, however listed below are 4 key exercises that will help prevent injuries’

Toe Curls

Using a damp towel, lay it down in front of you, heels on floor, ball of foot on towel, scrunch your toes and foot up to pull the towel along the floor. Complete 3 sets of 15 repetitions

Eccentric calf raises

Stand on a step with just the ball of both your foot on the edge of the step, lift up squeezing your calf muscles, take one leg away (you may wish to hold on to something!), slowly lower yourself back down over 6secs, both feet back on and repeat the process on the other leg, repeat six times.

¾ side plank with knee lift

Lying on your side, weight on your elbow and knee, hips off the floor. Ears, shoulders, hips and knees in line, knee should be bent at 90 degrees, keep feet together as you lift the top knee to the ceiling whilst keeping pelvis still. Complete 3 sets of 15 repetitions on each side.

Single Leg Squats

Stand on one leg, drop your hips back keeping chest wide and tall, once you have 15 degrees of bend at the knee, and engage the muscles in your bum, drive hip forward to stand tall, leg straight.  Complete 3 sets of 15 repetitions each side.

If you would like an individual programme or just further information please contact us at or call 07973 533943

Friday, 31 May 2013

How to deal with stress part 2

Stress 2: starting to make changes

It is impossible to be physically both stressed and relaxed at the same time.  A fairly obvious statement but it gives a crucial indicator as to the best starting point for reducing stress in the moment. When we are stressed our breathing is often rapid and shallow. Try to slow your breathing and to take deep breaths. Most importantly ensure you exhale fully. When we breathe rapidly our lungs get filled with too much oxygen and this can cause many of the other unpleasant physical symptoms of stress. Changing your breathing pattern can be a very effective and rapid way of coping in the moment. Then move your attention to the places in your body that feel physically tense and try to move your limbs or muscles to allow them to release slightly. One way of attempting this is to visualise breathing out through the tense body part, or to engage in some physical activity. There are many online resources to talk you through these strategies in more detail.

In addition to these ideas, if the amount of time in the day that you feel stressed has increased then you need to increase the number of relaxing activities you engage in to counterbalance this. Think what helps you to relax, whether it is talking to people, exercising, taking a bath, walking, being outdoors, reading etc, and schedule in as many of these different activities each day as you can and keep a healthy diet. Don’t expect any one activity to be a miracle cure but hopefully the accumulative effect will help counteract the impact of the stress.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Every journey starts with.....planning!!!

The second part of my running articles is about best way to start your training now you know how. This is SMARTER planning by setting goals:

Specific: I will be able to run nonstop of 20mins or I will run my fastest ever 5k/10k/Half Marathon!

Measureable: that is the 20mins mentioned above or beat your time by a specific amount already decided by you for another 5k/10k/Half Marathon.

Achievable: you should be able to identify the abilities, time and skills that you will have to have to reach your running goal such as training time available.

Realistic: you should be able to gage from common sense and past experience what is possible for you as an individual. You must believe it! Use positive language and be rational - I will be a double Olympic champion does not work for everyone but we are all able to achieve more than we think we are.

Timed: set a time limit on when you are going to achieve your goal by - I will run my first 5k in 12 weeks’ time.

Evaluate: always look back at your goals to allow for adjustment due to any changes that may happen in your life. Maybe you book a late holiday and this means you need to extend your timeline.

Recorded/Redo: Keep a record of your goals so you can look back and adjust them if needed using the SMARTER process again.

Please contact us if you have any questions and follow me on facebook or twitter @djptsmarter for more tips.  It can be wise to consult your GP before starting any new exercise regime.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Burn baby burn....those calories

A great way of losing weight is to speed you metabloism up in this blog we expoler how to do that with exercise.
Intense bouts of exercise triggers a response in the body that elevates your metabolism for up to 48 hours. This increased calorie burning effect after your workout refers to excess post oxygen consumption(EPOC). Your body increases oxygen utilization during EPOC to restore the body to pre-exercise levels. Understanding how to increase this exercise response will assist you in maximizing your results.

Use the interval training method. High-intensity intervals provide the biggest effect on EPOC. Perform intervals by alternating between brief periods of working as hard as you can followed by short durations at a lower intensity.

Incorporate weights into your workout plan to increase EPOC. Resistance training stimulates a greater response for EPOC compared to aerobic training. Perform compound or multi-joint movements that involve multiple muscle groups per exercise.

Use the circuit training method for increased EPOC. Circuit training produces higher EPOC effects than traditional weight training. Circuit training involves combining eight to 10 exercises that are completed without rest.

Increase the intensity of your workout routine. Intensity provides the basis for excess post oxygen consumption. Add intensity by decreasing rest periods or increasing speed/workload/weight used
Before starting on any exersie rigime it can be wise to consult your GP and speak to a personal trainer. The above training method is not suitable for everyone!