Runners Hot Topics
? of the week
Each week there will be a question of the week which will focus on all aspects of running and lifestyle. Key questions will come from current clients and topics discussed within the running community or simply from any engaging conversations I may have with running friends, colleagues or from online discussions.
If you would like a question to be answered or posted, please contact me on here on the contact page or via or on instagram - the_running_g
Q1. "I struggle with choice of food and drink before going for a run, whether a hard tempo or easy run, what would you suggest to help me having more energy and feeling a little less lethargic?"
This is a common trend amongst runners, deciding whether to eat or to just snack - some get it spot on and others completly under fuel the body and ultimately crash on the run. It is something that requires great practice and a lot of trial and error along the way - you must find a food/s and a certain drink that digests quick enough in your body and is readily accessible for later energy during your choice of run. Something that works well for me is the following:
Coffee/Honey/Semi-skimmed milk (fasted runs – usually runs during the week) 1 hr before
Porridge oats/cinnamon/blueberries (LSR) 1+hr before
Bagel with Jam/Banana or small bowl of branflakes with fruit - always 1hr+ before
200ml of Pure Orange Juice
Tempo or Speed Sessions
Will opt for a handful of dried fruit (appricots/mixed berries) and nuts
Tiny amount of jelly beans or wine gums - instant glucose/maltodextrin
Small caffeine hit (1/2 cup of black coffee with honey)
Depending on the nature of the session, I will only opt for one of the above to ensure I can go to the toilet beforehand and feel light/fresh enough to be able to put in a good session.
If on a LSR (Long Sunday Run) or whenever you complete this, you find yourself lagging a little - try to take on board salt tablets or a personal favourite of mine a selection of nuts/dried fruit or a handful of wine gums (trial and error approach will allow your gut/stomach to become familar with what works for you).
Q2. "How do I pace properly?"
Often key question asked by runners and non-runners during runs, post run conversations or on online is the ‘Magic of the paced run’ and how to try to get this spot on! This is something that needs to be worked on following the building of a good running base – your running base is the ‘engine’ you are trying to build bit by bit and is part of the training process that all runners will go through in order to reach that goal you may have in mind.
So…Why and how can you pace more consistently?
The focus for each run will and should be different – as to improve you need variation in pace to be able to progress and work towards a specific pace vital to a 5km or 10km race. Runners will often run too hard without thinking about a structured approach to training across the week and month of running – resulting in aches, rundown physically and possible injury.
To work out your choice of pace for the easy run, you should be running at least 2mins30 slower than your speed pace. E.g. If you are racing/running at 5.30 min/miling consistently then your slow running pace would be 8.00 min/miling and if you were running at ‘Easy Easy’ pace this would be 8.00-8.30 min/miling – this is ideal for trying to run more effectively.
Throughout a typical training week there needs to be a variety of runs completed but will depend on the number of runs completed per week. If running x5 times a week, x2 would be easy runs, x1 would be easy easy, x1 would be a tempo run and finally x1 would a little speed work. The variety in type of training allows for the legs/lungs to become more customised to your training goal or race preparing for. Pacing is something that comes with time and cannot be established right at the beginning when starting to run more and for longer.
The KEY to successful pacing - be consistent, don't rush the process and enjoy trying to nail the correct pace for you!
Q3. "What to consider when running longer"
Often runners and new runners will have a long-term goal of aiming to run a further distance or for a specific time – but the key question is when to increase either.
As a rule of thumb, club runners will aim to run long on a Sunday (LSR – Long Sunday Run) but those looking for greater improvements will also implement a further 7+ mile run during the week. This will help to aid a runner’s ability to go longer and build muscle memory.
Things to think about before running long
Plan the route you are aiming to run – if this is the first time running for an hour or more, be careful in your planning. Do not estimate a longer route as you do not want to be a fair distance away from home – if so, have spare money/phone as a back-up
Have positive mantra – It’s ok to be anxious when you see a distance you’ve never run before, or just a really long distance but you can make things easier by preparing yourself mentally for the run ahead.
Focus on Nutrition & Fluids – not having too much or too less before a long run is key. You need to strike the right balance before setting off. Always select food and drink that you have had practice in trying – the idea of this is to continue a trial and error approach to help maximise your energy levels. I find coffee with honey, orange juice, bagel with peanut and jam the right type of nutrition for me to run long with jelly beans/wine gums (a few) every 15 mins sufficient enough to top-up during this type of run
It’s not a race, pace yourself throughout the run – Your long run pace should be a slow pace you can hold for the duration of the run. The aim is for you to be able to run your long run at a slow and conversational pace – be consistent
Break the run into smaller sections – Instead of telling yourself you have 16.1km (10 miles) to run break it into smaller and achievable sections e.g. break the run into x4 4km runs – that way the run will feel less daunting and can break up the distance or time mentally
Don’t run long the day after a tough speed session – The key aspect here is to allow yourself enough recovery time post speed session. As a non-runner or someone starting out running, this is something I would advise against doing unless you have years of running practice behind you.
Remember guys for those going long for the first time, enjoy! And don’t put too much pressure on yourself – the process of increasing miles should be enjoyed 😊
Q4. "Should I do Speed work?"
Another very good question often asked by runners and clients new to running is just exactly what and how much speed work should I be doing? This question poses many several further questions that needs to take into account a variety of variables including weekly running schedule, running goals and running races in the pipeline.
Speed work (any form of anaerobic threshold training) may sound like a lot of work and simply put it is!!! But the benefits from this type of training is HUGE and can often be overlooked by most who decide on just running for running's sake and do not have an idea of what a speed session should look like.
Increased lactic threshold - body and in particular your legs will become more tolerant to handle lactic acid = meaning you can run for longer and train harder
Increases power & ability to produce peak muscle power
Can mimic race situations = training hard behind the scenes will result in a more sustained and controlled race day situation
Allows for natural progression of speed endurance and the ability to pace your '5km' or '10km' in a race day situation
When to incorporate these sessions
Naturally club runners will undertake speed sessions (pre-Covid-19) on a Tuesday either on the road or as part of a controlled coached session with a club group. This session will often focus on a variety of distances to build speed, enable the right speed to pace at and work towards tailored running goals for individuals.
12x1min efforts at race pace with 30 secs recovery between each effort
6x800m efforts with 200m easy walking recovery
Both very good sessions but an idea of what a speed session should roll :-)
A further speed session should take place on a Thursday or Friday pending on availability or working pattern/lifestyle factors. This session should focus on working at 'Tempo' pace which is running at your flow pace - usually comfortable at being uncomfortable!
Warm-up 15 minutes at a pace that reflects the session that's about to go ahead
Main content to consist of 20 or 25 minutes working at a pace that will work your speed endurance without working too much above zone 4. E.g. My working pace for Tempo is usually below 4.00 min/per km (6.26 min/mile) to 3.50 min/per km (6.10 min/mile) which I aim to target each 1km to make sure I am running consistently and effectively.
So.....speed is a MUST if you want to see any real improvement moving forward. It's the only way A, B and C goals can be met!
Q5. "Eat well to run well"
Over the last 12 years I’ve been fortunate enough to teach students, educate clients and help prospective personal trainers understand the concept of applying nutrition and health to their everyday living. This is something that continues to be an essential resource in the training application and training process that follows a running programme.
The golden rule – A food first approach and consistency through clients taking ownership of their desired results = A lifelong journey to better understanding your bodies health and nutrition needs #control #consistency
Invest time in YOU
Training Needs Vs. Energy Expenditure
When looking at your calorie intake you must ensure that you are hitting the right ratio of macro's and micro's into your daily routine - this is something that some runners will try to manipulate due to possible body expectations of being a runner. If your training regime is 5+ runs a week it is essential that a good amount of protein and healthy fats are embedded alongside quality carbs to reenergise the body. Some clients have often wondered why they are not seeing the benefits of following a tailored running programme and sometimes the simple answer is an insufficient amount of nutrients per day. This should always be measured at baseline running fitness and approached during the consultation stage to determine exactly what needs analysis should take place.
Life Vs. Work
Far too many times runners will look for that quick fix as opposed to looking at the longer term positives of planning ahead. When trying to fit running and training alongside work and other family commitments there needs to be a flexible approach adopted - batch cooking, weekly planning of meals and timely nutritional intake is key to being successful at running. The choice of food and drink needs to be right in terms of supplying energy and energy reserves at exactly the right stage of a run - this is something that can be achieved through a trial and error supplement.
Morning is key. Having a specific breakfast which provides a balance of slow and fast releasing nutrients helps to kick-start the body's ability to metabolise - great for those who like to train early am. As the day goes by you will need to replace/uptake when possible and having flexibility is essential to allowing yourself 'top-ups' to help increase the energy reserves required for that speed or tempo based run.
"Running with insufficient energy levels likely to have a negative metabolic and hormonal effect on performance"