Runners_panting

Every breath you take, every muscle that aches…or maybe not


Catherine Jaschinski from Illuminate Consulting, is a Yoga and Mindfulness Teacher.  Her blog for Run Reigate examines the benefits of diaphragm breathing for runners.

 

Sorry if the headline of this article is a bad play on the Police song ‘Every breath you take’ but hopefully my verbal karaoke has got your attention.

About the only time we pay any attention to our breathing is when we are out of breath.  In running it’s usually on the home stretch of a long run and if we are unlucky it’s going up a hill as well. Does anyone remember that from last year’s Run Reigate Half-Marathon?

Our breathing is such a critical part of anything we do and yet we take it for granted.  In running it can play a number of important roles, one of them being a ‘barometer’ for how we are feeling during a run.  Sometimes when we run, our breathing is heavy, sluggish and a real struggle to draw into the body, other times it’s is light, smooth and up-lifting.  Paying attention to the nature of our breathing can guide us to how our body is handling this run and with this information we can decide how to ‘pace’ our run, i.e. whether to push through the tough patches or whether in this particular instance it may be better to ease up a bit.  Your breath can be a great tool to help inform this type of decision especially if you are the kind of person who tends to push your body to breaking point and get injuries.

Another great way you can use your breath is to improve your endurance and recovery.  Yes, that’s right.  Not only is the breath helping you to get up and down those hills, but also if you actively breathe using your diaphragm rather than your chest, you can improve your endurance and will be less likely to become fatigued.  Now wouldn’t that be nice – not to have such aches and pains after a long run.

The evidence for this comes from research from the Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance at Brunei University.  They measured fatigue levels of marathoner’s respiratory muscles and leg muscles and found a direct link between them – runners whose breathing was the most strained showed the most leg weakness.  They concluded that the harder the respiratory muscles had to work, the more the legs would struggle in a race.  So the key to preventing lung and leg fatigue is breathing more fully which is exactly what happens when you breathe using the diaphragm.

This is all very interesting but how on earth do I actively use my diaphragm to breathe when I don’t know where it is!  Your diaphragm is a big muscle that sits underneath your rib cage and is responsible for 80% of the effort involved in breathing.  If your tuck your fingers under your ribcage and gently push upward you will feel it there.

The easiest way to learn how to diaphragm or ‘belly breathe’ is to do the following….

  1. Lie on your back with your feet on the floor and knees bent
  2. As you breathe in allow / encourage your stomach to gently inflate and rise upwards (this movement gets your diaphragm working)
  3. As you exhale allow your stomach to deflate and lower downwards
  4. Practice this for 5-10 minutes and then you can try it standing for a few minutes

Once you’ve started to train the diaphragm breathing in a stationary position (lying or standing) you can try to use it while walking and then eventually bring it into your running.

This type of breathing is also very good to relax the body and mind so can be used outside of running to manage stress, build resilience and balance in other aspects of your life.

Just as we would train our hamstrings and quads to improve our leg strength we can improve our respiratory muscles for better breathing and ultimately better endurance.  

So when you next head out for a run, take a moment to notice your breath, use your diaphragm (at the start of the run at least) and thank it for helping you to enjoy those longer runs a little bit more.

Catherine Jaschinski

Yoga and Mindfulness Teacher

Illuminate Consulting Ltd

Mobile: 07801 045 905

Illuminate Colour on Clear copy

The next Yoga for Runners workshop will be on Wednesday 5th October 7.30 – 9.30pm in Reigate. Call Cath on mobile number 07801 045 905 or email illumin8te@btinternet.com if interested.

Running man illustration

Advice on Shin Splints from Parkview Clinic


Run Reigate are delighted that Parkview Clinic in Reigate are joining us at this year’s event.  Check out their blog on Shin Splints and how their clinic can help if you’re suffering…

Parview

Shin Splints, also known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome is a condition commonly suffered by long distance runners and affects the front of the lower leg. It will often begin as a dull ache along the shin bone, but can build up to be quite an acute pain that will stop you exercising.

There are a number of reasons Shin Splints can happen, however, you are most at risk due to the following factors:

  • You’ve recently taken up running or increased your distance
  • You run on hard surfaces
  • You’re carrying too much weight
  • Poor fitting running shoes
  • Your feet roll inwards
  • The muscles of your lower leg are too tight

The pain is caused by inflammation to the connective tissue that joins your muscles to the bone. If you feel these symptoms it is vital that you do not run through the pain as this will only make it worse and keep you of sport for a longer time. A minimum of 2 weeks rest, ice and anti-inflammatory work is advised. However, if you have not addressed the reason it has come on then it may repeat once you start running again.

A quick accurate diagnosis is important to confirm that it is Shin Splints and not other conditions such as Compartment Syndrome, Radiculopathy, Stress Fractures or Muscle tear.

An early visit to a physiotherapist is the best solution  to confirm this and assess the reasons behind the pain. Physios will look at the angles of your feet, the integrity of the foot arch, the bio-mechanical chains between your feet, knees and hips and examine your stride pattern during running.

As mentioned, rest is vital, but calming down the inflammation and muscle tension can be sped up by using treatment techniques such as Ultrasound, Acupuncture, Facia release, Massage and exercise rehab. You may also be advised on changing footwear or using Orthotics and importantly making sure your running technique is correct.

Often through a desire for speed and exhaustion runners will over-reach in their stride pattern creating a more acute impact angle when the foot hits the ground, usually with the knee locked out in extension, thus reducing shock absorbance. This exaggerated impact that sends a force through the shin bone is a common reason for Shin Splints to begin. Don’t worry though, changing your running pattern doesn’t mean slower times as your “Cadence” or strides per minute can easily be maintained!

If you are concerned about such pain and it is affecting your training routine for the forthcoming Run Reigate event then please do give the team at Parkview Clinic Reigate a call and come down for an expert assessment. You’ll be pleased to know they are currently offering all entrants 10% off treatments up to the 18th September!

Visit: www.parkviewclinic.co.uk 01737 247555

 

Jennie Platt Blog

On the home straight (through Reigate)…


It’s late July and it seems summer has finally joined us (cue random torrential downpour while the sun is still shining). I’m actually a bit gutted…I much prefer running in the colder winter weather, so it’s going to be hard work for the next couple of months to keep active. I know from my day job (at Women in Sport) that this actually bucks the trend as research shows that there is a drop off of female runners in the autumn and winter months – I always try to be different.

So as I said we are now 7 months into the year, this year isn’t an ordinary one for me, this year I get married. It’s a very exciting and busy time…wedmin is my life. When I got engaged (September 2015) and once the date had been set (December 2016) I decided to add to the chaos and set myself a challenge. Upon awkwardly purchasing my first bridal magazine, I realised that in addition to endless advice on overpriced cakes, photo booths and colour schemes, most offered a plan of how to get fit and healthy for your wedding. Some of the plans looked complex and crazy and really did reflect an uphill run at Greenwich Park! So I thought that rather than panicking 3 months out that my dress might not fit, I would commit to some sort of activity across the year – a slow and steady way to tone up and most importantly feel good for the big day. So…I invented the Wedding 10k Series…it has a nice ring to it don’t you think? In essence I committed myself, oh yes and my future husband, to run one 10k a month for 12 months in the lead up to our wedding. So a total of 12 10ks, 120k total.

I do love a challenge. I have completed so many over the past 10 years – Yorkshire 3 peaks, Run to the Beat Half Marathon, Thames Bridges Bike ride to name a few, but these have all been one off events, this would be different.

Oh and before I explain our journey so far it’s imperative to mention that I wouldn’t class myself as a ‘runner’. I’m a Netballer by trade, team sport enthusiast. Yes, I have dabbled in running, probably more that I care to admit, but I am not particularly fast or elegant (in fact definitely not the latter). My mind-set has shifted slightly, but I’m pretty sure when December rolls around I will still refer to myself as a Netballer.

So why 10k? 5k is easy right? Well, not quite, but for me it’s not too unpleasant, it’s kind of over just as you get into it and it’s less of an event. So 10k seemed a bit more of a challenge, not anything like a half (never doing one of those again by the way) but just the right mix of pushing yourself and getting knackered! Interestingly, for two very competitive people, it’s not been about the times for us – we have improved our PBs massively, but we are pleased to just get round some of the courses.

So in December last year I officially entered the world of running – trawling websites to sign up to local runs. We have always had two events booked in advance and found it relatively easy to find runs nearby. The Wedding 10k Series started in Windsor, around Dorney Lake. It wasn’t quite how I pictured our first event to go – picture the scene, two weary runners set off having just returned from a 3-week trip in Asia, it was a struggle and 8k was not our friend, but we managed it and were pretty chuffed at the end. Since then we have done Richmond, Maidstone, Battersea Park, Windsor Trails, Greenwich Park and Clapham Common. We are officially half way – for August we are running at the Olympic Park and September we are taking part in Run Reigate!

Jennie - Winter

September was a tricky one, but when we stumbled across Run Reigate we booked it straight away. We live in South West London and have probably exhausted all of the key ones in our area so are pleased to be going a bit further afield. The website was great and although slightly more expensive than other runs we have done, I like the vibe and it seems worth it. The process to book was probably one of the easiest we have gone – as let me tell you some are hard work as you have to book separately for each individual.

I already like the feel of Run Reigate – I have been following them on Twitter and saw last week that they have made some improvements from their inaugural event last year, I like that approach. All of the feedback from last year seems really positive too and this morning it was announced that Olympic legend Dame Kelly Holmes is starting the race. I have to say I am impressed…fingers crossed she will present us with our 9th medal (hint, hint)!

As I mentioned before I work for Women in Sport, we are the UK’s leading charity aiming to transform sport for the benefit of every woman and girl. Wo do lots of research and lobbying for more women and girls to be involved in sport, whether it be playing, working or watching. As a result, it means I look at running events differently – I look from a personal perspective as an active woman, but I also look with a deep understanding of women’s perceptions and values that drive their decisions to start and continue running. Run Reigate has done well on both fronts, the communications denote a friendly run with a community atmosphere, while still offering a good challenge. The website is also great too, showing ‘real women’ and not just sporting runners in lycra taking part!

We have been roping in friends to run with us throughout the journey and hope to have a few with us as Reigate. So if you are taking part in Run Reigate, look out for us and give us a cheer, we will definitely need the encouragement!  

@jennielplatt

Run Reigate would like to wish Jennie and her husband-to-be, good luck in their Wedding 10K series and all the best for the big day!

Taking the first steps on your half marathon training plan

Taking the first steps on your half marathon training plan


Need to kick-start your training for Run Reigate? Hannah Brookes shares her motivation tips for tackling the miles.

Run Reigate isn’t far away and getting closer by the day. I should be racking up the half marathon training miles on runs by now but my running efforts have been somewhat lackadaisical of late. I love the challenge of a long run and usually find building up my distance week by week to be more satisfying than the race itself. However, I just can’t seem to get in the zone.

In case I’m not alone, here are a few things that have previously helped me get my butt into gear when training for races.

Establish a routine as quickly as you can

To be honest, this is probably what’s been holding me back thus far. As a creature of habit, I find a routine is the best way to keep on track when training. It’s oddly easier to lace up my trainers when I tell myself there’s no choice. Sunday is Long Run Day – no ifs, no buts.

Everyone is different so it’s important to establish a routine that works for you. Personally, I can’t run in the evenings. Once I’m home, I’m done for the day. However, I have no qualms about getting up at 6am and heading out for an early morning jog.

The last time I trained for a big event, I found this routine worked well for me:

  • Mon – rest day
  • Tues – run in the morning before work
  • Wednesday – run home from work (the only acceptable evening run)
  • Thursday – rest day
  • Friday – run in the morning before work
  • Saturday – rest day
  • Sunday – long run

I should probably point out this isn’t an optimal training plan for a person planning to achieve a super-speedy time (some interval training and cross training is required for that). However, I found this was a routine I could stick to and allowed enough flex to fit in non-running activities during the week.

Remember why you’re running in the first place

It’s amazing how motivating a little mental focus can be. When I first got into running, my goal was to run far enough to get a silver foil cape at the end. Forget the medal! I also liked to imagine the feeling of accomplishment when crossing the finish line –  for someone who isn’t a natural runner (I always came last in cross country at school), that’s more motivating than getting a new personal best.

So why are you running Run Reigate? Whatever the answer, think about that every time you’re tempted to skip a training run. Stick a post-it on your trainers, rename the alarm on your phone or get your best friend to remind you every time you speak to them.

Bonus tip: good views on your training runs can also be very motivating

Bonus tip: good views on your training runs can also be very motivating

Set smaller goals along the way

A half marathon can be a very daunting distance, especially if it’s your first time running a race of that length. If you’re feeling a bit put off, try setting yourself smaller goals along the way. Over the summer, there are loads of 5k and 10k races that you can incorporate into your training plan – Runner’s World has a handy list so you can search for events taking place near you.

If you’ve never taken part in an organised race before, I’d definitely recommend signing up to at least one before Run Reigate. Race day is completely different from a training run, with more people to dodge but crowds of people to cheer you on. A 5k or 10k race will help you overcome any nerves and give you the boost you need to carry on with your training.

Hopefully I’ve given you a few ideas to get you motivated. What else would you recommend to a runner struggling with their training? Tweet your suggestions via @RunReigate.

Thanks for reading!

Hannah Brookes

#HalfMarathonGoals

Running to great beats!

Running – The Beat Goes On…


You’re running laps round Priory Park lake as part of your interval training.   The last couple of sprints have worn you out and your legs have no more to give.  But wait, the intro to Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ starts on your phone and you’re off, running like you’ve never run before (apart from the last time it came on) and you’ve cut 2 seconds off your PB – job done!

Training whilst listening to headphones is a contentious issue in the running community, polarising people in parks, tracks and towpaths up and down the country.  Apparently there are two types of runners, those who are “associators” who like to have inward focus when running and “dissociators” who need to focus outwards and be distracted by what how they might be feeling.  Let’s have a look at both sides of the debate:

FOR – The Budmeisters

Runners, especially those who are new to long distance, find music to be an excellent distraction when they are a few miles in and feeling weary.  

Studies have shown that external stimuli can block out fatigue, increase your concentration and leave you feeling positive.  

It can be particularly useful in fartlek/interval training, with pumping songs helping you to keep the short sprint sessions going.  

For those training for longer races on their own, it can also be nice company when you’re out for 2 hours on a Sunday morning, pounding the Surrey streets.

AGAINST – El Silencios

Many purists believe that you are better able to listen to your breathing and be attuned to your body and rhythm, when not distracted by music.  

One of the joys of running can also be that chance to clear your thoughts and empty your mind of the day’s issues, returning home in a much more peaceful state of mind.  

At times music can result in you running too fast – think Michael Jackson’s ‘Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’ (or pass out) versus too slow such as Adele’s ‘Make You Feel My Love’ (running and crying don’t mix).  

You can also enjoy the beautiful nature that we have in Reigate, birds singing, squirrels leaping, leaves crunching and passers by shouting out warnings of dog poo ahead.   

IN-BETWEENERS

There are some runners who straddle these stereotypes choosing to have just one ear phone in, so they can listen to music and the outside world.  I personally am not able to multi-task in such a way and those people will only receive half of the wonder that is Kylie and Jason’s ‘Especially for You’.

Each to their own I say!  As long as you’re safe, watch out for small children and zombies …

SiS Runner

Run Reigate – The SiS Guide to Training


As well as producing some of the Run Reigate team’s favourite gels and recovery drinks, Science in Sport (SiS) also provide a wealth of training and nutrition advice which we’re really happy to share with you.  There are a variety of factors which can make the difference between you making it to the start line of your first half-marathon or 10K, or not!  First up is the most important element in any race preparation – training.  

RUN

There are three golden rules you should adhere to, to ensure you give yourself the best chance of starting, finishing and achieving your running dream:

R – Rest and recovery

These are two of the most underrated aspects of training.  DO NOT forget to rest and recover after hard-training.

U – Understand your limits

When it comes to endurance running, there are many things which are beyond your control.  Your “genetic potential” being one of them.

N – Never run on an injury

As tempting as it might be to try and ignore a muscle or tendon niggle, you are likely to make it far worse by running on it.

Training Intensity

Knowing how hard to push yourself is one of the hardest things to do when training for a race.  Your weekly training regime is a tricky balance between slow/steady sessions to build endurance and higher intensity sessions to increase your resistance to fatigue and increase your threshold.  

The question is how hard should you push?

Too Easy

Although slow and steady sessions are an important part of training, if performed too frequently, low intensity sessions can lead to a training plateau.

Too Hard

If you push yourself too hard, either by running too fast, too often or too far, then you are at risk of overloading your body and over stressing it – resulting in injury.

So, how do you gauge what intensity you should train at?

A heart rate monitor is an excellent way to ensure you are training at the right intensity.  If you don’t own one or need a guide, then check out the table below to get familiar with your “rate of perceived exertion”.

Rate of Perceived Exertion

R.P.E SCALE HOW YOU FEEL % HR MAX
1 Chilling, sitting down, feet up watching a movie 30-40%
2 A walk to the shops to get more popcorn 45-55%
3 A light jog 60-70%
4 A sociable pace, quicker than a job but able to chat 70-75%
5 Comfortable.  Got a good sweat on and you feel great 75-80%
6 Comfortable-ish.  You feel like it’s a good paced run 80-85%
7 Talking getting difficult.  Possible – but not very easy 85-90%
8 Only short answers to important questions possible 90-95%
9 Talking all but impossible 95% +
10 Talking is impossible.  You can only keep this intensity up for 10-15 seconds N/A

Approximate method to work out HRmax – true HRmax vary significantly from runner to runner.

Steady Paced Run (R.P.E. 3-5 or 70-80% HRmax)

A steady pace is just that – a pace which you can maintain for a long time  Steady paced runs will form a large part of your training.  This is the pace you should stick to for all your long weekend runs, as well as a good chunk of your mid-week runs too.  It helps build endurance and encourages the nervous and muscular systems to tolerate long distance running.

As you get fitter, you’ll find that not only will your “steady pace” get faster, but you’ll also be able to maintain that pace for longer without fatigue.

Tempo Paced Run (RPE 5-7 or 80-85% HRmax)

A tempo run is a pace which is a notch or two quicker than a steady pace.  At this intensity, talking is just about possible but you should only be able to manage “short-ish” sentences before need to take a breath.  

Beginners may initially find that a one or two mile tempo run is tough but a conditioned runner may be able to maintain tempo pace for a good eight miles and beyond.  Tempo session are excellent at increasing your tolerance to fatigue and should feature at least once a week in your training schedule.

Fartlek (RPE 6-8 or 85-90+% HRmax)

Fartlek is brilliant training but often underused by marathon runners.  It is based on a steady paced run but interspersed with periods of faster running at random times of your choice.  Vary the distance/time of the fast paced sections of these sessions to mix up the training stimulus and keep you interested.  Suggested times for fast sections can vary from 30 secs at RPE 8-9 to 5 mins at RPE 6-8.

Intervals (RPE 7-9 or 85+% HRmax)

Intervals are very similar to fartlek training. The key difference between them is that they are far more structured.  Interval sessions are excellent at increasing your threshold, thereby teaching the body to tolerate running at faster speeds.

E.g.

Distance/Time No. of intervals Rest between RPE % Max HR
1 mile 3-5 5-3 mins 6-8 80-90
5 minutes 4-8 1 min 6-7 80-90
800 meters 6-8 3-2 mins 7-8 85-95

As fitness improves – increase intervals, reduce rest time.  RPE will increase towards end of session.

By incorporating all of these training runs into your weekly regime you should be fully prepared for the Run Reigate Half-Marathon or 10K on Sunday 18th September.  To view the full SiS guide, please see http://www.scienceinsport.com/marathon-training-guide.

Good luck with your training!

 

Glass of milk

Give Your Recovery a Natural Boost


There are times when we all need some kind of recovery drink.  Whether it be a strong cup of tea after a tough morning meeting or, a drink (or two) in the pub with your mates after a testing week at work.  However, as essential as these beverages may be, these are not the kind of recovery drinks I’m talking about.  Sports drinks after a long run play an important role in restoring fluids and electrolytes lost through sweat, replacing muscle fuel and providing protein to help repair damaged muscles. That said, they don’t agree with everyone and are not the only options to aid your recovery.  Here’s a few natural options that you may want to incorporate.

For shorter runs, iced green tea can work wonders.  It has catechins (I promise I’ve not made this word up), a type of flavonoid and antioxidant that, as well as fighting disease, can also reduce muscle damage and speed recovery.  The key is in the steeping – the longer, the better.  If you drink 5 cups a day it becomes like a liquid superpower, but I’m not sure many of our bladders could contain that.

If you’re planning to run for 60 minutes, coconut water might be just what you need.  It provides a similar level of re-hydration as a sports drink, except it’s up to 10 times higher in potassium, an electrolyte that plays an important role in regulating blood pressure and muscle contractions (also found in bananas).  The best kind of water is straight from the nut, with a straw and umbrella.  This may pose a problem for those of you who don’t yet have coconut trees in garden, so perhaps best to stock up the next time you are holidaying along the Equator.  If not, the shops have some pretty good varieties.

Tart cherry juice drunk either before, the day of, or a couple of days after a really tough run, has been shown in studies to reduce inflammation, oxidative stress and muscle damage.  Cherries have the highest antioxidant level of any fruit and are a good source of melatonin – happy days!  

Another favourite is vegetable juice, with some combinations containing 3-5 times the amount of sodium and 10 times the potassium of a sports drink.  If it includes tomato, but not vodka (I’m not sure if there have been any studies on the recovery benefits of a Bloody Mary), you’re on to a winner.  Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that protects muscles from oxidative stress.  Other helpful veggies include beetroot, spinach and carrots.  Beware of the side effects of beets though – many an unsuspecting person has almost called for an ambulance after a trip to the toilet.  Just like these people: 

911 Beets

Last but not least is … milk.  Our lovely friends at the British Red Cross told us this last year.  The best drink you can have after a half-marathon is a drink of the pearly white stuff.  Studies have shown that milk is better than both water and sports drinks at restoring fluid levels after running in extreme heat – a common problem in Reigate.  If drunk regularly it also increases the time it takes to reach exhaustion during subsequent exercise sessions.  Couple that with the vitamin D and calcium it provides and you can see why it comes highly recommended.  Yes, this includes chocolate milk too.  What better way to treat the kids after their Run Reigate Kids Race miles!

As I said at the beginning, there are many benefits to sports drinks and it’s definitely worth incorporating these into your running regime.  These alternative recovery drinks are purely suggested as a means of complementing them, plus now you’ll get to use that new juicer you got for Christmas too.

 

Run Reigate Flags

“I am the Master of my Fate, I am the Captain of my Soul”


What does it take to become a ‘Marathon Man’?  And no, I don’t mean Dustin Hoffman enduring some rogue dentistry.  Just as some of us mere mortals work up to running our first 10K, half or full marathon, Rob Young and Eddie Izzard have completed amazing mental and physical feats that take endurance running to a new elevation, earning themselves the title of Marathon Man.

Extreme races are springing up all over the world, as some runners look for the next level of fortitude.  The legendary Marathon Des Sables started on Friday, in its 28th year and is according to many “The Toughest Race on Earth”.  It’s an ultra, run over 6 days on a course of around 150 miles, in nearly 50C degree heat. The website claims, “Any idiot can run an Ultra marathon, but it takes a special kind of idiot to run the Marathon Des Sables”.  The athletes who run these distances are able to tap into an inner tenacity, that many of us don’t feel we have.

Rob Young had that inner belief.  He also had a very unusual start.  After watching the London Marathon in 2014, his girlfriend bet him 20p that he couldn’t run 26.2 miles.  With an offer like that, what Scot could say no (as a fellow Scot, I am allowed to make that joke).  So Rob got up early the next morning and ran a marathon before work.  He didn’t stop there though – Rob then ran marathons or ultras consecutively for 420 days, covering the same distance as 476 marathons and 11,700 miles in one year.  He won 96 of the races and set some world records on the way.  In January 2015, he set off on a 3,100 mile race across America from LA to Washington DC, which he won by 30 hours, even though in the middle of it he flew back to compete in the London Marathon, an homage to the start of his personal journey.    

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 08.35.44

Although Rob had been an athlete when he was young, competing for GB as a triathlete in the 20-24 age group, he hadn’t been running regularly before commencing this amazing feat.  Rob has carried on competing in marathons and ultras.  Studies have shown that his ability to run marathon day after day is extraordinary and that his pain threshold must be very high.  However, athleticism and the ability to tolerate pain do not necessarily make an extreme athlete and he has created purpose from his running that drives him on.  He has raised thousands of pounds for worthy charities that support kids.  He’s a man who clearly believes you are master of your own destiny, deciding to push himself to unparalleled goals and smashing them.    

‘Marathon Men’ don’t have to be athletes.  Eddie Izzard is a hero in our house, ever since my brother introduced me to the ‘Definite Article’ when I was a student.  I know he’s a man of mind over matter.  He has chosen to perform his shows in French, German, Spanish, Russian and Arabic, languages he didn’t even speak, just to challenge himself.  He took this fabulous mindset to endurance running, when in the UK in 2009 and with only 5 weeks training he ran 43 marathons in 51 days, covering 1,100 miles for Sports Relief.  After a foiled attempt in 2012, due to serious medical issues, to run 27 marathons in 27 days in honour of Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment on Robben Island, Eddie came back in 2016 to complete the challenge.  For many people, the weight of such a massive previous disappointment might pull them down, but determinedly he forced his way through, promising to himself and the millions of viewers following him that he would run, walk or crawl his way through the blazing 30C degree heat to complete the challenge and help raise over £2 million for Sports Relief.  In his BBC3 documentary, he reads William Ernest Henley’s ‘Invictus’, a poem that inspired the resilience of Nelson Mandela and clearly at times a mantra for Eddie has he fought his way along mile after mile.  Not a natural athlete, but a man whose mental strength allows him to achieve amazing physical feats.  His great recovery tips of how you can have a beer after a marathon as it has carbohydrates and water in it, show he is a man after my own heart.  Yes, I do love him!

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Being a ‘Marathon Man’ is not about gender.  Let us not forget some of the amazing women who have also been an inspiration to us and no, I’m not talking about myself here.  Apparently women in general are 3 x more likely to complete an ultra than men, not because of fitness, but rather because they are less likely to give up.  Ellie Greenwood is a two-time 100K World Champion and holds course records for a variety of ultra races.   She was the first Britain to win South Africa’s 90 km Comrades Marathon (the oldest ultra-marathon in the world)  in 2014, with a time of 6 hours and 18 minutes.  That’s averaging at 14.3 km per hour in sweltering heat.  We also of course have the wonderful Paula Radcliffe, a marathon legend who retired last year, still holding the women’s world marathon record which she made after just a year of marathon running.  She holds 9 other world records and has asthma!  These ladies have given their all.

When I trained for my first marathon a few years ago, I was dreading my big training runs.  The day I ran 20 miles, it was blowing a gale, snowing with sub-zero conditions.  I had to stop various times (which was the first time that had happened in a training run) and came home with a frozen mono-brow and zero belief that I could run 26.2 miles.  Then the weather turned and I galloped round my next long training run, feeling invincible (clearly this was only in my head and I have no doubt that I was actually shuffling along, being overtaken by sprightly pensioners).  Finishing the race a few weeks later, was without a doubt one of the greatest experiences of my life.  I’m not really a runner, but I had said I was going to do it, people had sponsored me, I was being tracked, pac-man style round the route and I didn’t want to let myself down – so I did it!  I am the Master of my Fate, I am the Captain of my Soul…

These Marathon Men are amazing and so are you.  The first step on any journey is deciding you’re going to do it.  So go on, sign up at www.runreigate.com and we’ll be there to cheer you on every step of the way.

 

Invictus, William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

 

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

 

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.

Genieve Poultney

5 achievable Half Marathon running tips from a non-pro


I am not a professional runner. Sure, I go to the gym and do a bit of military fitness every now and then, but I did the Half Marathon for the first time last year in 2:05 and beat my time this year by 15 minutes!

As a result, I wanted to share some of the things that keep me striving as a ‘normal’ person that runs.

Don’t expect any science or Olympian insights – just potential considerations for Runing Reigate in 2016:

Getting over the hump

Like with a 10k, or any long run, the first twenty minutes is the hardest. After that you should have found a pace you can settle into. That’s when I get the most joy out of running and it becomes a pleasure rather than a chore. Don’t give up before it gets good!

Helpful habits

Routine really helps my training. I like to stick to the days and times I run, for example. But essentially anything you can do to take the ‘thinking’ out of training and be psychologically prepared.

I drink water but also got into a habit of having a cup of coffee before a long run (if I was happy I was hydrated enough). It may not be the most advisable option but I felt like it gave me a smidgen more energy! It may even be a placebo! But this was just another thing that gets me feeling ready in body and mind.

Pace vs. duration

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I run at a slower pace on longer runs, there’s a natural correlation, and in turn it helps to balance out my heart rate BPM (beats per minute).

If my heart rate increased by more than ten BPM during training I would be inclined to slow down in order to ensure I was training within a healthy parameter.

It’s all common sense, but using a Fitbit or other running tracker (like the Strava app) makes you a health-aware runner who can look after yourself in good time, if the data shows you may need to.

Mix up your route

What will the route terrain be like on the day? You can’t predict the weather but you can get a feel for the land by trialling the course!

The route changed this year and there was a much steeper hill at the end (bosh hill). I would highly recommend running the course beforehand if you’ve not already to get a sense of the challenge ahead.

If it’s too far just take a more varied route once in a while so you know you can handle a change in terrain.

Comfort kit all the way!

I bought some adidas ultra-boost running shoes at this years’ Run Reigate post-race.

I wish I’d had them beforehand now, they are a dream. I’d liken it to feeling like you are running on marshmallows! They feel like they are really good for your knees too and the overall ergonomics of running.

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My Half Marathon Running Diary 2015

For each run I had a goal in mind, something to aim towards, as a result I often exceeded it!

(On August 21st I was running with a friend – so this was more of a social than anything! Luckily she is a fitty and was happy with the pace I set.)

Date Kilometres Miles Pace Time Heart BPM
17th August 19.59 12.17 5”49 1:54:12 153
19th August 13.71 8.52 5”39 1:17:35 158
21st August 7.09 4.41 6”03 42:59 156
9th September 19.13 11.88 5”26 1:44:05 161

 

I still went to the gym and did military fitness in between runs, if I hadn’t I would have run more.

Mixing it up used different muscle groups though and made me feel stronger for when I did run.

So that’s it, from one non-pro runner to another. Maybe I’ll see you there next year!

Genevieve Poultney

(Part of the Jellyfish running team)

Jellyfish Running Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have any unusual running habits? We’d love to know…

 

Jo Davies sport psychologist

Mind over matter: Sport psychology for runners


How can mindset improve your running performance? Sport psychologist Jo Davies explains how to channel your brain power to optimise your final weeks of training and race-day focus.

As you are reading this, you have probably already dedicated hours of physical training for the Reigate half marathon or 10k races. Following a training schedule, improving your technique and stamina, and consulting nutritional and/or medical advice have likely been key ingredients in your race build-up in order to achieve optimal physical fitness. But have you considered your ‘mental fitness’?

In recent years, a major shift has occurred in the application of sport psychology to achieve peak performance. Considering how your mindset can affect – and indeed improve – performance, can make all the difference to your confidence, emotions, motivation, and focus on race day.

Here’s 10 ways to channel your brain power to optimise your final weeks of training and race day performance:

  1. Identify why you’re running. When the going gets tough, either in training or in that last mile on race day, remembering why you’re running can provide an extra boost. Consider your key motivation – be that a special person or cause, to make your family proud, or simply that self-satisfaction when you cross the finish line. Know the reason you are there, and use this reason to spur you on.
  2. Select a range of goals for race day. Some common goals to consider are your race time and your finishing position. However, these goals can seem awfully far away at the start line. To improve motivation and focus throughout the race, it can be helpful to break these larger goals into smaller stepping stones or ‘process goals’. For example, you might aim to hit the three-mile mark feeling a certain way or within a specified time, or have goals around your splits, technique, breathing, or staying with the pacer. One goal might simply be to enjoy the scenery! These process goals will increase your chances of enjoying the race and being satisfied with your performance.
  3. Don’t try to control the ‘uncontrollables’. There are a number of training or race-day elements that are outside of your control. Perhaps the weather will be wet and windy (it will be September after all!), an old injury raises its ugly head, or a busy work schedule gets in the way of a couple of training runs. If you cannot control or change these elements, it is best to simply accept the situation for what it is, and focus on something you can control (another reason why having several goals can be useful). Perfection is not needed to complete the run, and is an unrealistic aim in any case!
  4. But do plan your ‘controllables’! That old adage ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ rings true here. Having a plan in the build up to your race and on the day itself will help you feel in control and confident. From organising your dinner the night before the race, packing your kit, checking the course, to strategising the race itself; these are all areas that you can plan so that you arrive at the start line feeling ready to run.
  5. Recognise your sources of confidence. Think back to previous training runs and competitions… What has helped you to feel confident? The confidence sources that you identify might be anything from great training runs or warming up well, to eating a good breakfast or surrounding yourself with helpful people. Once you have identified these sources, you can put them in place for race day and, in doing so, take ownership of your confidence.
  6. Rehearse your ideal performance. Imagery is a brilliant way to mentally rehearse how you want to approach and react to various challenges within the race. When we imagine performing a specific activity (such as running up a hill), scientists have identified that very similar brain activity occurs as when we physically perform that same activity. Essentially, imagery creates a ‘mental blueprint’ that primes our reaction to a real-life situation. For instance, imagining the senses associated with a hill climb (eg, seeing the hilltop, hearing your feet meet the ground, feeling fatigued) and your ideal reaction to that situation (eg, gritting your teeth, keeping your head up and digging deep) will prime this reaction when you encounter a hill on race day. You can also use imagery to form strategies. For example, imagine how you will react if you find yourself at the front, middle, or the back of the field at various points in the race.
  7. Reframe the pain. Negative thoughts (such as “this is too hard!”) can make your shoes feel heavy! What’s more, wishing pain or fatigue away will only draw attention to it. Build your awareness of your ideal race pace and how your body responds to it in training. It is likely that you will feel discomfort at times. You can then acknowledge these physical sensations during the race as helpful feedback such as: “This is my body’s way of telling me that I am running at my race pace.” Once these physical sensations are reframed as feedback, you can disconnect from them and shift your focus to other things such as your race plan or helpful head chatter (see number 9). Of course, I refer here to the normal sensation of discomfort that comes with prolonged exertion, which should be distinguished from injury pain that needs attending to.
  8. Break the race down. If fatigue takes over, it can be useful to break down the miles ahead into much smaller chunks. Just focus on the kilometre or mile you’re in, or pick a landmark to aim for. However tired you are, you can be confident of running a single mile, and those miles and landmarks will soon add up, bringing the finish line closer.
  9. Encourage yourself. Consider what encouragement you respond best to. Would you rather have a friendly, cajoling ‘inner voice’ praising your progress, or take a straight-talking taskmaster approach? This preference can influence what self-dialogue you use throughout the race to motivate yourself, also known as your ‘helpful head chatter’. During your training runs, experiment with different words or phrases to keep you in a motivated and focused mindset, such as ‘Yes I can”, “What goes up must come down”, or power words such as ‘tough’ or ‘strong’. Gradually, you will find various helpful phrases or words that you can plan into your race.
  10. Debrief. Chances are, the positives of the race will outweigh the negatives and you’ll be back for more! An essential part of debriefing – in both training and competitions – is to recognise: (a) what went well, and importantly why (what were your ingredients for success); (b) what your improvement points are, and; (c) an action plan for your next training session or race (what do you want to repeat or change in order to improve). These reflection points help you to recognise successes, are great motivators and, importantly, can fast track improvement.

Jo Davies BSc MSc MBPsS is a Sport Psychologist based in Reigate. Jo works with athletes across a broad spectrum of sports, ages and levels. Individual and group sessions are available on topics such as building confidence, dealing with nerves, performing under pressure, developing motivation, improving focus and endurance, and recovering from injury.

For more information, visit www.jdpsychology.co.uk or on her stand in Run Reigate’s Event Village on 20 September.