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Thursday Training Tip #7 : Arm posture and swing for runners

Running isn’t all about your legs. A strong core and a good arm swing will lead to greater efficiency and improved running.

This weeks training tip is a great exercise for focussing on your arm posture and swing and to help you build a strong and efficient arm swing. Get your ‘dogbones’ going!

There are 3 progressions.

  1. Start off with feet shoulder width apart, doing 30 seconds at a time for 3 sets. Remember your balance on the front of the feet, good pose and head square to shoulders looking about 30 feet ahead of you. Your arms should move forwards and backwards, not twisting around your body. Once you can do this set easily without balance issues, go to the second progression.
  2. With feet in line, work up to 3 sets, each one lasting a minute. Balance will be harder, and make sure you’re not inducing twist through your torso and your knees. Once you can do this progression, go to the third progression
  3. With one foot in the air, work up to 2 sets per foot of one minute each. This will really test your balance and make sure you don’t have any twist through your knees and hips. If you’re leg is swinging around behind you like a puppy’s tail, you need to go back to level two and focus more on arms going forwards and backwards, without twisting around your torso.

P.s. If you don’t have little dumbbell weights, use cans of baked beans like I do!

Happy running everyone!


Get Going, Get Running!

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Thursday Training Tip #6

Running on vacation : 10 tips for keeping fit while travelling

The toll lady was, disappointingly, unsurprised to see me. It seems many walkers and runners make the switchback-upon-switchback climb up Mount Igeldo in San Sebastián. And it would seem that runners and walkers are also not exempt from the €2 toll to enter the grounds of one of the best located fairgrounds going around, even if they have run up the back way and are more interested in running down the other side of the mountain than going on the dodgem cars. It’s funny where running takes you sometimes. Certainly when I set out to do the 20km loop from Urgill Hill to Mount Igeldo on a Saturday morning in San Sebastián I was not expecting to find a fairground at the summit!

Sab Sebastian seen from the summit of Mount Igeldo

Sab Sebastian seen from the summit of Mount Igeldo

But, that’s the beauty of running in new places, and running while on vacation. My running kit is always the first stuff into my case whenever I go away. Mainly because it’s small and fills the little crevices in the bottom of my case, but also because it signals to me my intention to keep exercising while away and to hopefully see new things while doing it.

However, while going for long runs while on vacation is all good, vacations aren’t meant to be all about running, or whatever exercise takes your fancy. It’s about experiencing the places you visit, the culture, the food, the landscape and the people, so you can’t always be following your training schedule. That doesn’t mean you need to throw out your training schedule completely. You’ve worked hard up to your vacation (especially if you’ve worked for a ‘beach body’ for a seaside destination), so you don’t want to throw it all away to pursue a week or two of hedonism. Read the rest of this entry

To Run…

Today was one of those runs that reminds you why you go running.

Early morning, off road, very foggy, as the sun came up. I only saw 3 people. They were all doing what I was doing.

We exchanged one word greetings as we passed, all that is required when runners of kindred spirit commune before the sun has begun to impact on the lives of most people.

Each of us knew why we were out here. We suspected we knew why the other was out here.

We run. Because we want to. Because we can.

And I’m thankful for it. I just sometimes need reminding. And today was that reminder.

Keep running everyone!


Get Going, Get Running!

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Thursday Training Tip #3

Treshold Training – Run Faster to Run Further


Threshold training (often called tempo running) consists of running at your maximum aerobic output in a ‘steady state’. Because threshold training requires you to run at your maximum aerobic ‘steady state’ it is an excellent way to train for endurance running and races which require this type of running. It is also a great way to add variety to your workout and give you that ‘fast running’ feeling that is so easy to lose if you are constantly pushing out long distances. Here’s a link to my page about using threshold training to improve your distance running.

The term ‘threshold’ refers to the point where your body reaches its maximum aerobic output (energy derived from converting glycogen and oxygen). Beyond this point, any additional energy requirements must be met by your anaerobic metabolism (energy derived from converting glucose and glycogen without oxygen). As with most thresholds, there is a danger if you cross the line. If you work too hard you run the risk of too large a contribution of anaerobic metabolism to your energy supply, which leads to an accumulation of lactate and also rapid fatigue. It’s about control. And the best control is your heart rate monitor. You will need to do a physical test to determine your optimum heart rate, so make sure you’re fit and healthy before you embark on this. My page on threshold running has a couple of tests you can do to determine your threshold rate.

So, keen to give threshold training a go? Great! Your threshold sessions can vary, but typically it’s advised to do between 20-40 minutes of threshold running in a single session. If you’re experienced you might do this in a single ‘steady state threshold run’, but if you’re new to running or threshold running you might want to try repeats. These are best done to time, like say 4×6 minute threshold runs, with 3 minute recovery jog in between repeats. If you’re someone who needs distance targets, try mile repeats, or some distance that equates neatly into your run

Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind for your workouts:

  1. Threshold training is a tough workout and you need to complete a thorough warm-up and cool down. Start your workout with some Dynamic Stretching, followed by slow jogging to gradually raise your heart rate. Follow a cool down routine after your workout, and don’t forget your static stretching
  2. Doing repeats? Recovery breaks between repeats should either be walking or slow recovery jogging. These breaks are also a good time to refuel/rehydrate.
  3. Want to use threshold as part of half or full distance marathon training. Try a TLT workout to combine the effects of threshold training and your long-slow run.
  4. Threshold sessions are hard work, make sure the following day is a rest or recovery day so you can continue with quality workouts and avoid overtraining issues.
  5. Make sure you’re having fun doing it! You have to want to do these sessions otherwise you’ll just start skipping them. Focus on the improvement they bring to your fitness and speed!

Threshold training is a proven way to make you a faster and stronger runner. It will also make you more efficient so in endurance events you can go the distance on less energy. I use threshold training in my running schedule and during my buildup to distance races, and they are often some of my most rewarding runs. Sure, they may be hard work at the time, but that feeling of freedom that comes with running fast is hard to find anywhere else! If you’re looking for some more info, here’s the link to my page on threshold training once more.

Happy running everyone!


Get Going, Get Running!

On Facebook? ‘Like’ my Facebook page and keep up with my day-to-day happenings, hints, tips and shares
Want to see what/where/how I’m training? View or ‘connect’ with me on my Garmin profile to see what’s been going on

Related Articles:

Article: Threshold Training : Run Faster to Run Further

Blog post: Threshold-Long-Threshold : Training for distance events

Blog post: Threshold Training

Thursday Training Tip #2

Strength Training

Strength training is really important for improving your running and reducing the likelihood of injury.
Here is a set of strength training exercises for beginner runners from the Guardian Lifestyle running blog

Strong running everyone!


Get Going, Get Running!

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Run With an Idea #4: Do Real Runners Walk?

The fourth in the Run With an Idea blog debate series, this weeks topic is “Do real runners walk?”

Now, this is a topic that will probably generate a fair bit of commentary, but my guess is that most people are of the “of course they do, and what of it?” camp. I certainly am.

Being a ‘runner’ is not about the pace you go at, nor how far you can do it without walking. It’s about being someone who laces up and runs for exercise, for fitness, for friends, for loved ones, for lost ones, for challenge, to escape their problems, to solve their problems, for joy, or simply just because they can. Nowhere does it say that any of the above must be completed while running and only running.

Run-walk-run is advocated by many people who are serious runners, and have completed many a race just running. It is about getting people involved in a sport that can change people’s lives, not about how fast they do it. Every couch-to-5k programme I’ve ever seen has run-walk-run in it. Even if you aren’t following a schedule like that, most runners start out naturally doing run-walk-run simply because that’s the most they can do, and instead of stopping after one letterbox, one block, one mile, they walk for a bit and then push on for the next. Who can say that person isn’t a runner? Sure, they might not be fast, but they are running.

If you think people aren’t runners if they need to walk, then you are consigning a huge number of people to the wayside. And you probably either need to check your own ego, or have a bit more self respect and confidence.
First off – “ego”. If you think other people are only real runners if they don’t walk, get over yourself. Anyone who has completed any PR distance while running is a runner. Because someone completed a marathon and walked half of it are they not a runner? If you still say “no” then I’m sorry, I think you’re a w&%#€r.
Secondly – “self confidence and respect”. If you think you’re not a runner because you need to take walk breaks, pucker up and stop being so hard on yourself. A lot of people who need to walk when running do so because they can’t run the whole distance, and for some reason means ‘failure’ for them. It’s not a failure, it’s just what you need to do to make the distance. You still laced up and went running, so be confident to call yourself a runner.

I don’t know who first said this, but its an apt way to sign off:
“I’ve met fast runners and slow runners. But I’ve never met a fake runner”.

Now, I’m off for my long run. It’s a rainy day in York and I’m lacing up for a 26km run. And guess what, it’s a TLT session so I’ve got planned 3 minute walk breaks between tempo sessions. Anyone care to tell me I’m not a runner?

Happy running (and walking) everyone!
Get Going, Get Running!

A Thought for Long-Run Sunday


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