Our new running.COACH ambassador Paula Radcliffe

Categories

Former top runner and marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe is our new running.COACH Ambassador. We are happy to have her incorporate her knowledge and training philosophy into our training plan.

Since 2005, Paula Radcliffe has been holding the world record for the marathon distance (2:15:25 hours), which the Englishwoman ran at the London Marathon. She won this marathon as well as the New York Marathon three times.

During her 23-year career, she ran very successfully at various distances (5,000 meters, 10,000 meters, marathon). We are delighted that all those years of training and competition experience are going into the running.COACH training plan and that we can let you benefit from it.

In the interview with running.COACH she already gives us an insight.

Last year, Eliud Kipchoge broke the men’s world record at the Berlin Marathon and raised it to a seemingly unattainable level like you did 15 years ago. How far will this men’s world record go?

I think it was already a big step forward from Kipchoge. Maybe since Monza, we saw the possibility that he was going to really advance the world record a long way. Now he did that, so I think he’s a little bit ahead of the others for the moment. So that record may last a little while. If anyone can get closer to 2 hours for the moment, it’s him. So I think the breaking 2 hours will still take some time. This record will stand for a while.

While we’re talking about records: How many more years will your record last?

I don’t know – already, I’m grateful that it stood for this long. The longer I keep it,  the more proud I become of it and also the luckier I am that I was able to be set on that day because everything came together. Because for the marathon you need to have good conditions, a good shape, the weather needs to be good, everything needs to be right on that day. It was a good day in London. I’m grateful that I was able to get that. But also the longer I keep it, the longer I like keeping it.

What has running given you personally over all those years?

It has given me so much. From fun, pleasure, and enjoyment to the personal sense of fulfillment. Learning more about my body and psyche. Becoming a stronger person. Meeting so many interesting people and traveling to such amazing places. Learning the value of teamwork and preparation and perseverance. How to overcome setbacks. Being a healthier person and gaining a good perspective on life.

In 2015, you ended your successful career. What would you do differently if you could turn back the clock (e.g. in training, recovery, nutrition, competition/career planning)?

I’m a big believer in “no regrets” – you give everything the best shot and you’re proud of the things that work out and the things that didn’t work out you kind of learn something from and you accept them. So obviously, I would’ve liked to not get injured before the Olympic Games in Athen and Bejing. But I think for most of the others I was lucky. It worked out more often than it didn’t.

How did your body react after ending your career?

I think for me I am lucky since, as a distance runner, we retire from competition but don’t have to retire from running. So I miss competing but also value the fact that I had a long career and enjoy being able to just get out and run still for pleasure. So my body copes very well because when I want to run I do and if my body is tired I don’t need to push it anymore. I was able to be very patient in building back up after my foot surgery and really listen to my body.

Has your attitude toward running changed since then?

Running was always my enjoyment and stress release but now it can be more so. I can really use the run for whatever I want to get out of it mentally as well as physically now, whereas before there was also a training purpose to the run. Now, I can run hard to clear my head and feel good if I feel like it, or I can just run easy and enjoy the scenery or company and use the run as thinking time or problem-solving time!

 

What does a typical Paula Radcliffe training week look like today? How much/how often do you still run?

I mostly run every day now and generally for about an hour. I very rarely start my watch though and I don’t really have a plan for the run when I start. I run how I feel and include impromptu tempo runs, fartleks or hill sessions if I feel like it. I often also just decide on the actual route during the run depending on where I feel like going.
What is your favourite training? 

It was the long run, it was very important and I liked it. I also loved the fartlek and hill training and somehow track sessions when I was in shape. So I watched out that these trainings are included in the running.COACH as well.

What are your training principles? Can they also be used by hobby athletes?

Yes, it’s mostly to enjoy running. That’s the biggest thing. To enjoy running and to have fun. But also to work on your strengths as well as on your weaknesses. We have to work on our weaknesses but we also have to recognize where we are strong and change the training and racing to suit where we are strong. And then it’s also important to have a plan and stick to it.

Can you give us some tips for the last preparation before a race?

Especially for a marathon or longer distance race, it’s really important to make some training runs or strides in the shoes and in the kit you’re going to wear on the race day. That’s really important. By then, the last main preparations are done so the last bit is to feel good to recover from the hard work. I think it’s more easy runs with some fast strides and some refueling, stretching, massages. And of course, good sleep during the race week because often people don’t sleep well during the night before. So you need to stock up before. And eat well!

Is there a secret tip you can give us? A training, nutrition or recovery tip, for example?

I think the most important thing is that sometimes rest is an important training also. People forget and only think about running – training – running – training – running – training, but if your body is tired and your mind is tired, sometimes rest day is the best training.

What convinces you personally about the running.COACH online training schedule?

I think the flexible nature that adapts to every runner. The fact that it is planned by people who understand running, and what runners want to get out of their training. The experience of the team and the holistic planning of it all come together to help the individual runner get the best from themselves and their training and racing.

Achieving the 3 Hour Marathon Dream

Categories

Running a marathon below 3 hours – a dream that came true for our running.COACH User Chris Howard. Together with our Gold Coach Gabriel he improved his form to be a more efficient runner and less prone to injury. Very sucessful, as you can read here in his personal report about his journey to the Valencia Marathon.

I started running 5 years ago once I hit 40 years old – either this was due to a mid-life crisis or to just generally get fit and remove the storage space around the tummy. My first marathon in Lucerne of just over 4 hours was hard but the feeling at the end got me hooked for more.

Running Dream and injuries

Over the next few years I got better by adding the miles and then signed up with running.COACH silver subscription and was able to bring my time down over the next 2 years to 3.14 in Berlin and then 3.09 in London. I was following the plan, obtaining excellent advice and was really happy with my progress. However, I then wanted to achieve the next level and achieve under 3 hours. This became the running dream.

Training with a Coach: less kilometres

Unfortunately, I had a few injuries which kept on pushing me back and then I did Chicago and got a 3.32. Why was I getting further away from 3 hours and not closer? A friend recommended me to have a personal coach and use the running.COACH Gold subscription. I signed up in June 2018 for a 6 month subscription and Gabriel Lombriser would be my coach for the next 6 months. I was advised at the beginning about a running day being conducted in Nottwil and I learned more in that day about running style, efficiency, mobilisation, specific training etc. than I had done by looking at over 100 Youtube videos.

At the beginning of the subscription I had a detailed discussion with Gabriel about injuries, aims, personal lifestyle, nutrition etc. Gabriel then created a plan for me. Gone were the 6 days of training over 100km per week and I was shocked to see only 60km per week and 5 trainings. Gabriel fully understood my injury history and accommodated my plan to this to ensure I had continuous training and not to be constantly interrupted by injuries. Throughout the next 6 months I could have an easily accessible view of my plan on my phone and receive detailed tips per run.

Journey as a Team

The training got easier and then more intensive as time went by. Constant communication with Gabriel ensured I was on this journey as a team and not by myself (every question asked was answered quickly with excellent advice). I was advised which test runs to do and these were built into the plan. Constant feedback after the test runs was given by Gabriel as to how I could improve in the next run and by putting this advice to practice, I noticed constant improvement. However, it was the constant change to the norm in runs which I was advised to do which helped me significantly.

Valencia Marathon

Valencia marathon then arrived and I felt good. A detailed discussion took place between Gabriel and myself a week before about tapering, nutrition and marathon pacing strategy. I felt confident. Then the day before the marathon, Gabriel called again to provide me with some key tips and encouragement.

The marathon went like a dream. The splits were the same for every 5km and when I felt tired at after 30 kilometres I kept on repeating the advice Gabriel had given me and I found some new energy. When I hit 40km I knew I could do this if I hanged in there and suddenly I was able to run the last 2km in 3.51min/km – this was due to the change to the norm training Gabriel had advised me to do.

The feeling of running up to the finishing line and seeing the clock being under 3 hours was highly emotional. All the training had been worth it and the dream was fulfilled when I crossed the line in 2.59.

I have learned that you don’t need to do 120km+ per week training to achieve under 3 hours. Instead, you need a brilliant coach who understands injuries, plans, lifestyle etc. and is fully with you on the journey to achieve a running dream. This was teamwork. I thank Gabriel and running.COACH so much for making this happen and being a core part of this amazing journey.

The online coaching platform at running.COACH is great for individualized training programs. It allows you to find your own time to run and you know the workout was made just for you based on your training progress and goals.  With the silver subscription you can ask our coaches two questions by email per month. If you want to have a personal coach on your side the whole time, then benefit from our Gold Coaches and their long-time experience in running and coaching. Sign up and test running.COACH for free. 

Running training in low temperatures

Categories

Hello, Winter Wonderland! Or should we say, hello cold temperatures and frozen, icy roads? One thing is for sure: winter and running training aren’t mutually exclusive. However, it is worth noting certain points and you might have to make some adaptations in your training in some cases.   

We are going to show you how you can organise your training the best way possible in winter conditions, as a solid winter training makes you both physically and mentally strong for the next season.

Controlled breathing in very low temperatures

In winter, our muscous membranes are generally irritated, as we stay a lot inside in warm and, more importantly, dry air. This makes things easy for bacteria and viruses. This effect is reinforced by the cold air outside.

Generally, at low temperatures, breathing through your nose is recommended, possibly requiring a reduction in running pace. Breathing through your nose, the air is cleaned, heated up to body temperature and saturated with water vapour. If the intensity is too high for you to breath through your nose, a cloth covering your mouth works as well.

Never without warming up

No matter if it’s a base run, an high intensity training or a competition; a good warming up is important both for your lungs and your muscles. Thus, start slowly and take your time for your muscles to get warm. This is especially important for intervals, middle pace sessions and competitions. Deliberately plan more time for your warm-up.

Appropriate clothing

Generally, one should make sure not to put on too much clothing. The best way to do it is to follow the onion principle, also called the «three-layers-principle ». The first layer should be a tight functional shirt (moisture transfer), the second layer can be chosen depending on the given temperature, but should also consist of functional fibres, and the third layer serves as protection (water-repellent, wind stopper). Cap and gloves provide further warmth. It is important to always cover your achilles tendons during the cold time of the year. After training, put on a cap as soon as possible, in order to avoid unnecessary waste of energy.

A must during winter is to mind your own (and others’) safety in the dark: wear reflecting clothes, running vest and/or a head torch.

Ground surface

Running through new snow is, of cours, great fun. However, it is also more exhausting, which is why the intensity needs to be adjusted to the ground surface. Special caution is needed if the surface is slippery or frozen. Firstly, because of increased risk of falling and secondly, because of the great strains that the constant balancing and stabalising mean for your body. In this case, it is sensible to transfer the training to a treadmill.

Training duration and intensity

In very low temperatures, training durations should be reduced, training intensities should be decreased, or trainings should be conducted inside altogether. In our running.COACH training plan, this can be regulated/indicated by a minus sign. A good warm-up is especially important in the cold as well as starting slowely and building up speed progressively.

Alternative training or fitness centre

If it is cold or icy outside, it is sensible to conduct one or the other session in the water (swimming, aqua jogging), on cross-country skis or in snowshoes.

Nutrition

Even during winter, sufficient supply of liquid is important both before, during and after a session. Thus, after training especially, drink enough and refill your carbohydrate reserves with a high-energy snack, as you burn more calories in the cold.

Positive effects of winter training

  • It helps to resist the winter blues
  • It offers a lot of new possibilities for training
  • It burns additional calories, which helps to avoid the winter fat deposits
  • It gives your immune system an extra boost
  • It makes you mentally stronger

So, keep on running, brave the winter and get the maximum out of you for the next season!

Compression socks – colourful, magic socks?

Categories

Green, yellow, pink or blue: today, compression socks or stockings are available in almost every colour. However, their positive effect on performance is disputed. How much is real and how much is placebo?

Good for recovery

Although results in scientific studies are varied, one relatively clear common conclusion can be drawn from them: compression socks enhance recovery. Through the positive effect on blood-transporting vessels, they improve blood circulation, increase oxygen supply of the musculature and they improve venous backflow. This effect can be felt as long as you are moving, standing or sitting. As soon as you lie down, the principle doesn’t work anymore. Thus, compression socks can as well be taken off for sleeping. Furthermore, whole socks are more efficient than cuffs. However, probably, none of them makes you faster. Nevertheless, they have other positive effects, making you a popular sparring partner.

Higher running comfort

Compression socks can support tendons and ligaments similarly to the way bandages or tapes do. Also, they help preventing muscle vibrations, which can be obstructive for performance under certain circumstances. Light legs over inumerous kilometers may be the result.

Everbody can wear compression socks, as long as they feel comfortable. The only exception are people with progressed peripheral vascular disease or decompensated cardiac insufficiency.

This is a contribution by Dr. Rer. Nat Michael Schwarz. He works as a sports scientist and performance diagnostician at the Medbase sports medical centre in Zürich. This specialised centre for sports medicine coaches both team and individual athletes and offers a broad spectrum of performance tests, ranging from sports medical check-ups to sports specific physiotherapy and rehab.