Interval Training – An Overview

Interval Training – An Overview

If you’re serious about improving your running, Interval Training should be a key component to your training plan. It is simple and can be done in numerous ways. On the road, track or treadmill, varying distance or a time. it really is that simple.

So What Is Interval Training?

Interval TrainingInterval training is a physical activity consisting of alternating periods of high and low intensity activity.

That’s great but let’s put it even more simply. Run hard and run fast followed by a period of recovery repeated a number of times. The key to it is consistency. The time or distance at which you work hard must be repeatable, as is the time or distance you select to rest.

Benefits Of Interval Training

Interval training has many benefits. This is why most runners who take their running seriously, or want to achieve their goal add it to their programme.

  • Time Saver – Due to the nature of interval training it can’t be done for extended periods of time. This means it can easily be fitted around your busy day.
  • Calorific– There are some out there who purely run to manage their weight. Due to the intensity of interval training, you will burn more calories than if you went on a long run.
  • Healthy Heart – Over time your heart will get stronger meaning that it is able to pump more blood around the body per beat. The less beats your heart needs to do the less it gets used and the longer it will last.
  • Faster and Longer – Interval training will help teach your body to deal with lactic acid build up. The result of this means you can go for longer and harder before tiring.

Example Interval Session

These are just some of the benefits to Interval Training. Now let’s look at an example session.

Treadmill Session

Warm Up

10 minutes at a steady pace to warm the deep muscle tissue followed by some dynamic stretching to activate and mobilise the joints.

Interval Session

  • Stand with your legs either side of the treadmill belt and increase the speed to 19 kph and allow for 1 minute to pass.
  • On 1 minute get on the treadmill and run for 40 seconds.
  • Once 40 seconds has passed stand either side of the belt for 20 seconds.
  • Repeat 9 times.
  • Following the 9th effort recover for 1 minute and low the speed to 18 kph.
  • Once 1 minutes rest is up get back on the treadmill and repeat however, this time for 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off.
  • Repeat 9 times.

Cool Down

5 minute light jog followed by stretching.

Now this is an example of the session. You can adapt the speed to suit you. However, remember that it should be high intensity. It isn’t designed to be comfortable but I guarantee you will feel great when it’s done.

I will be back over the coming weeks with some other ideas and alternative sessions. In the meantime, you can read more advice and insights from me at my own website.

Be TrueSapien. Challenge Life.

How I Changed My Running Style

How I Changed My Running Style

Soon after I started running, I got hooked on looking for ways to improve. I dived straight in to running literature. At the time, there was a huge ‘barefoot running’ movement in the running community, which seemed to stem from the success of the book, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

The book was a very enjoyable read (I have re-read it several times since). I quickly followed it up with a book by one of the authors’ influencers, Ken Bob Saxton, called ‘Barefoot Running Step by Step’. You can read about some of my early forays and experiments with barefoot running on my older blog posts.

Both books stirred in me a desire to experiment with my existing running form. I wanted to feel like I could run all day, like the Tarahumara. To run light, strong and silently and stay injury free.

Why The Change?

So, why did I feel this need to change or toy with my running form? Defiance was one reason. A lot of self-proclaimed ‘experts’ seemed to suggest that it was not advisory to change your running technique. To me though, this seemed preposterous. Surely experimenting can lead to a greater understanding, appreciation and technique. The rules of learning, of trial and error and of continued improvement surely were applicable to running too?!

I also wanted to get faster. Based on what I’d read, it seemed clear to me that one way of getting faster was to ensure your running style was efficient. You could say that these books acted like my early running coach. I used the advice the books gave, tried things out and used what worked for me.

My style was unlike ‘real’ runners. I felt like a footballer doing a bit of running and I think I probably looked like it too! I wanted to look more like Mo Farah or Eliud Kipchoge; Graceful, smooth, light and looking like they could run forever.

How I Changed My Running Style

There were a few elements I consciously worked on and they have taken varying amounts of time to get to where I am now;

Which part of my foot hit the ground first.

Up until I read the above-mentioned books, I really hadn’t paid any attention to the mechanics of running. I just went out and ran. The books opened my eyes to seeing running as an art to be improved. My technique could be improved if I took steps to do so. There was actually quite a lot to think about! I changed from being a heel-striker who made contact with the ground way out in front of my body, to a midfoot/forefoot-striker who made contact with the ground right underneath my body. This is generally accepted as good running form.

This did NOT come naturally to me at all! I really had to be intentional about doing this. I had to think about it a lot during my runs. This resulted in an increased leg turnover. My calves aching like crazy after each run for probably about three weeks. I therefore gave my legs more time to recover between each run. Why did they hurt so much? It was because I hadn’t been engaging them properly in my old running technique. I’d been relying more on my upper leg muscles and so my calves weren’t being engaged like they were meant to. After the three weeks of aching calves, I also noticed how much BIGGER they had become! I was using them properly. The result? I was faster, without increasing my perceived effort!

How I hit the ground.

I really did ‘pound’ the pavement with my feet and you could hear me a long way off. So, I consciously tried to run ‘light’ trying to make less sound in my footsteps. I had the following passage from a character called Caballo Blanco, from the book Born to Run running through my head constantly:

“Think Easy, Light, Smooth, and Fast. You start with easy, because if that’s all you get, that’s not so bad. Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don’t give a sh*t how high the hill is or how far you’ve got to go. When you’ve practiced that so long that you forget you’re practicing, you work on making it smooooooth. You won’t have to worry about the last one – you get those three, and you’ll be fast.”

I agree with the sentiments Caballo Blanco expresses here. I’m not one to boast about my running prowess. Since my changes however, I have had the odd compliment about my running style.

These two were the really big ones. The third one is one I’m still working on. It’s a longer term project because it tends only to happen when I’m really tired. When I’m unable to think about anything other than trying to keep running!

Using my arms properly.

Most of the time, my arms behave themselves. However, when I really tire, they (particularly my right arm) tend to develop a mind of their own. They move across my body, making my torso rotate. This slows me down just at the key moment I want to be running as efficiently as possible. The ideal is for them to pump up and down by the side of my body. This provides balance and momentum in the direction of travel. I’m conscious of this to a point but need to try to remember and be focused on this when I get tired on runs.

Key Observations

To give some context to the benefits of changing my running form, I wanted to share a few observations:

I now feel like a runner, rather than a footballer who can run.

Like I could run for longer than I ever could before I changed my running technique.

My speed improved! I know that you could argue that this is just down to training over four years, but I honestly don’t believe that. From a debut half marathon of 1:27:32 in 2012, my PB is now 1:19:12 and I know I could run a 1:18 with some dedicated training now, based on my recent 10 mile race (https://www.strava.com/activities/1272325054).

I’ve only had one running-related injury (through doing too much too soon back in 2013). I don’t think I’d have stayed injury free for this long running like I used to.

I try to avoid over-analysing each run I do. But I think it helps to be mindful of how you’re running and what each part of your body is doing. Often what you think is not what is really going on!

Ready For Change?

If you’re considering what your running form looks like, or how efficient your technique is, then there are a few different things you could do.

  1. Head to a running store that offers gait analysis services. These are often provided free to lure you in!
  2. Speak to a running coach, like me(!), who can provide a gait analysis service and provide you with a report that outlines what you’re doing well and what you should aim to develop (as well as tips for how to do so).
  3. Get someone to record video of you running at a few different speeds (you’ll want side on, front on and from the back views!). Then, watch it back and see what you look like. What do you notice? What would you change?
  4. Watch YouTube videos of professional athletes running – pick those who run similar distances to you and watch how they run.
  5. Check out my blog article here on how to analyse your own running form and use the checklist I provide there!

I hope that helps!

Pacing. Helping Others Achieve Running Success.

Pacing. Helping Others Achieve Running Success.

I want to talk about Pacing. But what is Pacing? Basically, I run 13.1 miles with a flag on my back, sometimes a vest, often just a t-shirt. If I’m really special I get to run with a balloon strapped to my top!!! All of these pacer tools are relevant to the time that I will complete the race in.

 

My name is Delroy Taylor. Well that’s the name my mother gave me! Nowadays just ‘Del’ will do, unless I’m in trouble. I’m 41 and from Warwickshire. I have four of those small humans that I call “bank robbers”, some call them kids! Aged 21 down to 12 years. Married to my wife Michele, we obviously live happily together… when I agree with her!

Why Pacing?

Why Pacing? Since I was small I always wanted to help people even, if there wasn’t anything in it for myself. It was usually the snotty kid at school that had no friends, or the kid last in a race on sports day. Often it was the puppy with a limp that got my attention. Nowadays I’m a manager (boring to some I know)! My time is spent getting the best out of people. Understanding their weaknesses, helping them to grow and working with them closely to improve and achieve their goals. This isn’t that far off from being a pacer.

Fitness background

As a child I was a hurdler. I always wanted to be Colin Jackson. Mother said I was good at jumping over things. Little did she know this was a tactic to avoid being caught by anyone with an ounce of authority! It wasn’t until I grew up that I found long distance running despite being physically active since a young age. I played football from the early age of six up until the tender age of thirty, then when the younger kids got faster the only option was to retire and hit the weights.

Go Hard Or Go Home

I became a gym junkie. Protein shakes; chicken breast the works. The weight and muscle piled on and the mirrors and T-shirts seemed to get smaller and smaller. Who actually enjoys being inside looking at themselves in the mirror? Well, me maybes, at the time… GO HARD OR GO HOME the famous gym moto hey !! I went home alright ….two hospital beds and two operations later for the same stupid shoulder injury.

Running

Next chapter was all I could think of and I needed that fix quickly. I’m not one to rest idle and I knew I needed the next challenge. Michele and I decided to go for a run one afternoon. It wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t quick. Running is something I’ve never had an issue with but long distance’s I’ve never understood (boring or what!).
“Michele lets enter a half marathon” I asked two weeks after we’d ran three 5 kilometres and thought we were the next Paula Radcliffe and Mo Farah. That’s how the fairy tale started.

The Pacer

The first ‘half’ we did I can remember watching people around the pacer. He was surrounded like he was some sort of movie star, I kinda wanted a bit of that.. (jokes). I followed the group for ages and thought “that must be such a cool thing to do”. Once I returned home I started to google ‘pacing’ and read up about it and what it entails.
Once I get something in my head I struggle to let it go even if it’s out of my comfort zone. I wanted to learn how to pace and I wanted to learn now. The wife would say this is sometimes obstinate stubbornness and determination and wishes I applied it to home DIY!! I reactivated my twitter account with the thought that, if anyone can help, surely social media would be the place.

Passionate About Pacing

This blog is the first time that I’ve actually ever really spoken about how I got into pacing. I often get contacted by a lot people who want to try pacing and I always give advice when I can. The path wasn’t easy for me. I followed pacers on social media and contacted events myself, all 3000 of them! Only a couple replied positively. At the time nobody helped me despite them saying they would ( they must of forgot me in the midst of all the flat lays)! It’s like any sport or even job interview. We all have to take knock backs. It wasn’t handed to me on a plate. I wasn’t from this background and didn’t know anyone in this arena. Unless you have been around this for years and your circle of friends are involved it’s tough to get a foot in the door.

Rewarding

Pacing is so very definitely rewarding. Whatever time your pacing at. Anybody who enters a race has a goal. Whether it’s a sub 1.30, 2 hour or just to finish smiling. They are all personal to them. Runners rely on pacers to be even and each mile to be the same pace. This way they know if they follow you they will reach their desired time.
However, being a pacer isn’t about running the miles robotically. It’s about encouragement and engagement with those around you. Supporting verbally, sometimes with a song or two and often with a big dose of encouragement in the form of ‘YOU CAN’ being bellowed loudly. It’s never about the pacer, only those around you and the tick, tock of your watch!

Helping Others Achieve

There is nothing more satisfying seeing people try to overcome personal challenges. I am so very fortunate to be able to pace mostly the 2hr group in half marathons. It is a popular time and an obstacle for most runners to break. I don’t pace for the feedback, or nice comments on social media. I know how it feels to want to break a personal target and if I can help others then I will. I have relied on pacers myself. some good, some unfortunately bad, but everyone has bad days at the office. If I can help anyone achieve a goal I absolutely will.

Responsibility

There are some other perks to being a pacer. Occasionally we get free kit and trainers occasionally. However, pacing comes with a lot of pressure. one bad day or bad conditions can affect someone’s race. Sometimes this can lead to a back lash on social media, slating your efforts. This can affect your reputation as you are only as good as your last race. You also have to be brutally honest with yourself and completely selfless. I have had a tough year, pulled out of personal races and also pacing events due to injury as I knew I wouldn’t be able to help people.

2019 – Pacing Marathon Majors

Next year is a big year for me. I have spent a long time pacing half marathons. But for 2019 I have been fortunate enough to be selected to pace for two international races, the Virgin London Marathon and The BMW Berlin marathon. Not only is this a dream come true but works with my own goal of focusing on the 26.2 miles next year and improving my marathon time. I’ve started working with a coaching team, Purdue performance, founded by Charlotte Purdue the GB long distance runner and Adam Clarke, GB middle distance runner and Mo Farah’s training partner. I have never been too proud to ask for help and this has helped me value the role of a pacer even further.

I sometimes have to pinch myself when I say that I’m going to be pacing these events. I feel like a kid in a sweet shop!! What an opportunity and experience for me! From fence jumping, football dreams, protein bars and small t-shirts to international marathon pacing… wow! I will put all my effort and focus in delivering the time on my flag.
Nothing beats the smiles on people’s faces when they cross the finish and knowing you may have helped them!

Be TrueSapien. Challenge Life!

Running Dads – An Introduction

Running Dads – An Introduction

Few other communities are more strongly aligned with the TrueSapien culture than Running Dads.

What is Running Dads?

Running Dads is the brainchild of founder Anthony Turner. It was born of his passion for running and the body and mind fitness benefits derived from it. But it doesn’t stop there. The aim is to also extend this passion and example to his son, so that he may also aspire to the benefits of an active lifestyle and to appreciate the meaning of setting personal challenges.

Anthony explains, You see, I am a runner. I’m a Dad. I’m a running Dad. And my idea is that, as I am not alone in that, there is a community of us out there who enjoy not only the body and mind fitness benefits, but also part of our motivation is to extend this to our children. Running Dads is a way to bring those people together; to share experiences, hints & tips, blogs or vlogs and to brag a little to those who will listen as to what has been achieved. Whether it’s a 5km or ultra, trail or road; it’s all relative to the person undertaking the challenge.

Setting the example

I want Ethan, my son, to know what it is to have an aspiration and challenge and be able to meet it. To achieve something through hard work, commitment and sacrifice and reap the rewards. To understand healthy mind and healthy body is equally important and that it isn’t about the distance; it’s the journey. That’s why I run. That’s why many of us do.

The Running Dads community

Running Dads has gathered much momentum in the months since its inception earlier this year. Celebrating achievements of like-minded people and offering advice through Anthony’s own experience and also from the wider community. They have a growing and varied social media presence and their blog is full of posts from the running community covering a diverse range of topics.

Over the coming weeks and months TrueSapien will be featuring posts from Running Dads and warmly welcome them to the TrueSapien movement!

Be TrueSapien. Challenge Life!

Who’s Running Scared?

Who’s Running Scared?

Are our streets a safe place to run or are you literally running scared? The onset of Autumn/Winter and the dark morning and evenings that accompany it introduces to some of us a most unwelcome barrier to our running plans.

What is the problem?

TrueSapien and ‘ExploreRunner’ Tim Caldwell addresses this issue and how fear of running in the dark may be overcome.

As a man, I don’t feel like I have to deal with anywhere near the same number of barriers that women face in today’s society when it comes to going out for a run. No-one seems to care what I wear, how I look, or that I am indeed exercising in public. No, I’m not looking for sympathy! I don’t go out feeling like I might be followed, cat-called, sneered at, spat at (yes, a running club member reported this!) or ridiculed for running. I also don’t worry that the clothes I’m running in might provoke verbal abuse. All of the above have been highlighted by women as having had an impact on their decision to run or experience of running.

How real is the threat?

Like every runner since the film came out, I’ve had the really original ‘Run Forrest, Run!’ shouted after me, but I tend to just take it as a sign I must be running at a good pace for the comment. My eternal optimism does have its good points!

For many of my fellow runners, often women, the possible environment and atmosphere is far starker. Every ‘blackspot’ between street lighting is a potential place for people to lurk. That person who crosses the road is a potential danger to be aware of. The cul-de-sac or other street leading to a dead-end is a big ‘no-no’ when running alone as a female.

The abuse I’ve heard reported by female runners from the general public, both men and women is sickening. I just don’t get it. Women who run are probably doing it for many of the same reasons I do: to maintain or improve fitness, for enjoyment and some ‘me’ time, to discover new places, to lose or maintain a healthy weight, to burn off the anger/frustration/problems of the day. Where is the respect for people aiming to lead a healthy life? I’m sure it comes down to jealousy, idiocy or ignorance. I find it deeply troubling in modern society, when we have so many ways to be informed citizens, that intimidatory practices such as cat-calling, shouting abuse, ridiculing people who exercise, or following runners is even a ‘thing’ that some people think it OK to do.

What can be done?

Changing the attitudes of the masses is highly unlikely in the short term. Whether out of jealousy, ignorance, sexism or a combination of all plus countless other undesirable attributes, it’s something that isn’t going away. We have to tolerate it and deal with it in order to pursue the way of life we have chosen.

Tim gathered some feedback and suggestions from friends and acquaintances on how to best deal with the dangers:

Headtorches

One of the major ways in which you can stay safe and be seen in the dark is by wearing a headtorch. Brighter the better! Anyone you’re running towards won’t have a clue what you look like. For people who may harbour an opportunistic threat, not knowing if you’re male or female may well be enough to put them off from trying anything.

Appropriate Clothing

If you’re female then more neutral colours are best. Why shouldn’t you wear what you like?! I agree with you – it is a sad state of affairs but one that needs exploring. If you’re wearing pink (and by the way, pink truly is one of my favourite colours), then an opportunistic low-life is likely to assert that you are highly likely to be female…

Trackable Technology

iPhone’s ‘find friends’ and Garmins ‘LiveTrack’ are invaluable and can give the user and your loved one’s additional peace of mind.

Run with a friend

Not always possible and sometimes defeats the object of the ‘alone time’ benefit so appealing to many.

Sensible location

Try to stick to busier, populated, well-lit areas to limit the opportunity for people to act in a disgusting manner towards you.

Time specific

This is one I particularly struggle with. Sticking to an amount of time which you agree in advance with your loved ones at home. ‘I’ll be home in an hour!’ I’ve been known to say, coming back maybe two hours later. However, this could well be useful for you to try.

Change your route

One of the things that opportunists might use against us happens to be one of our strengths – our discipline. We also tend to be creatures of habit, adopting and following the same well-worn path(s) on certain morning or night-time runs, or heading out at the same time on the same nights. Change things up a bit, become less predictable and as such, the likelihood of you suffering any issues will decrease too.

Ignore abuse

This one can be so difficult, but being in control of your emotions, channelling them into your running and looking where you’re going is so important. Horrible comments, shouting and swearing are incredibly upsetting and it is during these moments that you need to stay strong and focus on your running. Avoid the temptation to rise to the bait, knowing you can vent later in a safe environment of family and friends. As hard as it is, don’t let it get to you. Some people reported having people run alongside them. This can be so dangerous, particularly for the abuser, as they would tend not to be looking where they’re going. If this happens to you, my advice would be to ensure you keep looking straight ahead, avoiding eye contact and ensuring you can see where you’re going. In this situation, your safety is paramount.

Report it

Abuse like this will continue and increase unless it is challenged. The more that this is reported, talked about and publicised, the more society will understand and appreciate just how unacceptable it is. Tell the police, inform your running club or your family. Building a picture of what is happening could be valuable in enabling action to prevent abuse.

Education

The people who think it’s OK to hurl abuse at runners, mock them by running alongside them, shout from car windows, follow and intimidate, sadly are people who have families. They are known, they have friends, brothers, sisters, parents, children, just like the rest of us. If you know people who think this kind of behaviour is ‘funny’ or ‘a bit of a laugh,’ it’s really up to you to stand up to them and educate them. Schools already do so much to attempt to instil a degree of respect for others, so this education is more about society as a whole.

Flexibility (know your environment)

If something doesn’t seem right and you are able to do so safely, cross the road, turn around or take a different turning. It’s better to avoid a potential situation if you feel an instinct about it, than to regret having acted later.

Thanks to Tim Caldwell for such an informative post on a topical and sensitive issue. To read more from Tim, head over to his blog at Tim’s Running World.

Don’t Run Scared! Be TrueSapien Challenge Life!

Are You TrueSapien? Are You Challenging Yourself?

Are You TrueSapien? Are You Challenging Yourself?

So are you TrueSapien? What makes people stand out in life versus those that are happy to merely exist?

There is no exact definition as characteristics will vary from one person to another, depending on their individual beliefs, passions and preferences. For example, what sport or fitness activities appeal to you may be entirely different to another TrueSapien. You may have certain physical traits that lend themselves to certain activities over others. How you choose to challenge yourself may be entirely different to the next person.

Whatever the differences, the following points are universal and common across all TrueSapiens……

  • Do you consistently challenge your existing perceived limits,attempting to be the very best you can be?
  • Do you refuse to accept mediocrity?
  • Do you know your overriding purpose in life and your ‘Why’?
  • Are you an ‘encourager’ rather than a critic and do you admire others’ achievements rather than be envious of them?
  • Do you appreciate, respect and admire the world around you?
  • Do you place a higher value on your own functionality for purpose over simply looking good?
  • Do you take any ‘failures’ as setbacks and use them as a positive learning experience?

Being TrueSapien isn’t like becoming a member of a club, body or an organisation. There’s no joining fee or annual renewal. You’ll know from the points described above whether you are or not, or indeed whether being TrueSapien is something in which you believe.

Being TrueSapien is about the attitude you demonstrate as you challenge yourself in whatever way you choose, from OCR or Triathlon Events, Calisthenics or Strongman disciplines, Marathon Running or Crossfit.

Read our Story page to find out more about TrueSapien.