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INTERVIEWS

LetsGetRunning.co.uk Podcast with SOS CEO James Mayo

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On this episode Shaun and Jermaine chat Running Hydration with former international athlete and founder of SOS rehydrate, James Mayo.

We discuss hydration myths, tips and tricks and discuss the story behind SOS Rehydrate; how one too many bottles of red wine got James, his wife Blanca, and his brother Tom thinking…

Nick Symmonds: From Half Miler To Marathoner

in ATHLETES/BLOGS/INTERVIEWS/RUNNING/SOS PRO'S/SPORTS/USA by

It’s not uncommon for an athlete to go up in distance throughout their career. Some go from the 1500m to the 5,000m, or the 10,000m to the half marathon, but few have ever increased the distance by over 50-times! Yet that is exactly what former World 800m Silver Medallist Nick Symmonds will endeavour to do when he runs the Honolulu Marathon this year.

Brooks Beast Nick Symmonds is hanging up his track spikes, but his racing flats still have more miles ahead. For his last professional race, Nick will compete in the Honolulu Marathon this December with a goal of running under 3 hours.

For the athlete who specializes in the two-lap, 800-meter run, training for and running 26.2 miles will be a test and an exciting new challenge. Brooks Beasts Head Coach Danny Mackey will continue to coach Nick through this event.

“I work with middle distance runners on the Brooks Beasts, but the marathon might be my favorite event personally, so I’m excited to coach him in it,” said Brooks Beasts Head Coach Danny Mackey. “Nick is naturally competitive and goal oriented so I know he’ll commit to the training, but the marathon can be an equalizer and it will definitely test him.”

A post shared by Nick Symmonds (@nicksymmonds) on

Nick will adapt his training by:

  • Increasing his mileage per week by more than 25 percent to a minimum of 70 miles per week,
  • Modify his lifting workouts from being explosive with heavy weights to being strength oriented, dropping weight and increasing repetitions, so his body can hold up for more than 2 hours of hard running,
  • Increase the amount of long threshold and tempo runs instead of the shorter, speed intervals he currently focuses on,
  • Begin to incorporate marathon race pace speed work into his long runs,
  • And, to fuel for a race that’s longer than 2 hours when he’s accustomed to racing for fewer than 2 minutes, Nick will begin consuming simple carbs during long training runs to keep his energy up and prepare for the race.

“This is uncharted territory for me. I’ve met hundreds of runners throughout my career who have completed marathons, but I’ve never done one myself,” said Brooks Beast Nick Symmonds. “The challenge is exciting and I’m eager to begin training for it. I’ve got the help of Brooks Beasts Head Coach Danny Mackey, our team nutritionist and other Brooks resources to see me through to the finish line!”

Check out how Nick fuels for training

AUDIO: There’s A War On Sugar. Is It Justified?

in INTERVIEWS/LIFESTYLE/RECOVERY/USA by

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes…

Many experts believe that we are currently in a ‘Big Tobacco moment for the Sugar industry’, and there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the parallels warrant warning.

However, given that nutrition studies are not very robust compared to many other fields in biological science, some still claim that the ‘jury is still out’ on the issue of sugar and its effects.

Less than two months ago, this subject was the topic of investigation and discussion by Freakonomics co-author, Stephen J. Dunber.

How much sense does this all make? Dunber discusses the topic with a regulatory advocate, an evidence-based skeptic, a former FDA commissioner, and others.

The full audio is available below. Click HERE for a link to the full transcript.

Team NZ 1 Win From America’s Cup Final

in AMERICAS CUP/ATHLETES/INTERVIEWS/NEW ZEALAND/SAILING/SOS PRO'S/USA by

Falling behind early on in the day to go level with the Swedes at 2-2, the Kiwi’s bounced back with 2 more wins of their own to take a commanding 4-2 lead.

New Zealand now sit on match-point in the America’s Cup final decider, but it wasn’t without some last minute drama as Blair Tuke explains in the video below.

Going Han Solo: The Andrew Wheating Story

in ATHLETES/INTERVIEWS/RUNNING/SOS PRO'S/USA by

Andrew Wheating is from “back east”, yet has spent over a decade holding some sort of Oregon-team membership card.

In college he ran at the University of Oregon, which was then by followed Oregon Track Club. Throughout that time he has been to two Olympic Games, and his 3:30.90 for 1500m ranks 4th all-time in the U.S.

At the beginning of the year it was announced that Wheating would leaving Oregon TC, following the likes of Sting and Beyonce by launching his solo career. However, rather than heading for the bright lights of a big city, Wheating is keeping his Oregon license plates and staying in Eugene – which is where our very own Jemma Simpson (a former member of Oregon TC herself) sat down for an update on all things Andrew.

Interview with Andrew Wheating 

Stay tuned to see the video Andrew made…

Like all public figures, Wheating prefers to be followed on Instagram rather than in person.

One above the rest: Sir Ben Ainslie

in AMERICAS CUP/INTERVIEWS/SAILING/SOS MAGAZINE/SOS PRO'S/UK by

There has always been evolution within sport. Athletes continually jump higher, run faster, or hit harder than they have before. The rules almost always stay the same; the basketball hoop is still 10 feet high, the goal posts are 8 yards apart, the track is always 400 metres around. Yet in the oldest international sporting event on the planet, the rules are almost never the same.

At the 35th edition of the America’s Cup in Bermuda in 2017, Ben Ainslie will compete to bring the Auld Mug back to Britain where it was first contested in 1851. In doing so, Team Land Rover BAR would be the first British outfit to ever win the event.

The modern America’s Cup is barely recognisable to what it once was. For next years event, Land Rover BAR will have a boat that is designed entirely around the output that its sailors can provide.

This creates a unique situation whereby the design and fitness crew must collaborate closely. The sailors are the engine, which means Ainslie’s crew must be as fit and athletic as possible.

We sat down with SOS athlete Ben Ainslie to find out what him and his crew are doing to be as powerful of an engine as possible.

It’s been said that as the nature of the America’s Cup has changed, sailors have gone from being power/sprint athletes to more similar to endurance athletes like 10km runners or cyclists, given the need to produce constant power. How does this change the focus in training?

The focus has now changed from a requirement for short busts of intense power to much more of a constant power output over 20 – 30 minutes. This is needed to create the hydraulic power necessary to control the boat. Our sailors now train with much more of an aerobic endurance focus. Also, due to the introduction of an overall weight-limit of the crew, weight maintenance is now a critical factor.

You’d need to have an incredible aerobic base with which to then build specific endurance on for different roles on the boat. Given that you officially launched the Great South Run last year, can we assume that running is your go-to?

I do love running but sadly a long-term back injury currently prevents me from any serious running. My main tools for aerobic training are the ‘Watt bike’ and a trusty paddleboard.

“It won’t be easy, and it definitely won’t be fun… but it’s achievable.”

Improvements in training are entirely dependent on recovery, yet training for the boat is incredibly time consuming. How do you prioritise this time to rest with such a demanding schedule?

Our head trainer, Ben Williams, does a great job of factoring in the time spent on the water and amending our onshore training accordingly. The time on the water is incredibly stressful for the sailors both physically and mentally, so balance is crucial in order to avoid burnout.

“The boat needs a lot of power, and it hasn’t got an engine. We need to maximise what the boys can produce in a 20-40 minute window – not too dissimilar to a cycling time trial”.

Scott Dixon has said he can lose up to 7lbs from sweat during an IndyCar race, while you are essentially navigating a race car on the water – how important is keeping fluids down for you and the boys on the boat?

Hydration is going to be a critical factor in this next Americas Cup. The conditions for racing in Bermuda in June are going to be incredibly hot and very humid. Given the physical stress the sailors are under they’re going to need to work hard to retain fluids and need the best performance drink available.

An interview with Steve Vernon – Coach of New Balance Manchester

in BLOGS/INTERVIEWS/RUNNING/SOS PRO'S/UK by

Britain is currently in the midst of a distance-running renaissance not seen for decades. Although there were numerous standout results at the Rio Olympics from British athletes, the true indicator of depth has been the quality of performances at home.

At the British Trials for the European XC Championships this winter, the Top 4 automatic spots were taken by athletes that had either broken 13:10 for the 5,000m, 61 minutes in the half marathon, or 28 minutes over 10,000m.

One of the driving forces behind this progress has been the investment of resources into smart coaching and infrastructure to facilitate a model of group training. With the support of New Balance, Steve Vernon has been able to implement this successfully with his New Balance Manchester squad based in Stockport.

We spoke to Steve about the driving forces behind his team, how he manages the inevitable differences between athletes and what sets NB Manchester apart.

 

Your team seems to follow a similar model to your transatlantic cousins in Boston? 

Professional running teams in the USA have been a proven success ground for world-class distance running over the last 5-10 years. Performance athletes are central to New Balance as a brand so supporting athletes in a team environment is something that New Balance were keen to do as part of their global strategy. The professional Team in Manchester is one of the first of its kind in Europe and we are creating an environment that supports athletes to be the best they can possibly be.
Good communication is absolutely essential and I make sure that I am clear with how training is set out each week. I have a training philosophy that I explain to every athlete that joins the team so they know what to expect from the start. I do however appreciate that not every athlete will respond and adapt in the same way to a particular stimulus so although the majority of the training is group focused the schedules are all individual. We meet every day for training and I give the options for athletes to do second runs alone or with training partners that run at a similar speed on recovery runs.

Putting together a full-time training group is a delicate balance; some athletes inevitably find themselves pushing when they shouldn’t be, and everyone has their own routines. What steps do you take to create a balance that everyone can benefit from, despite having individual strengths and weaknesses?

Distance running is an individual sport but I have a culture where everyone supports each other as a team. When the gun goes they inevitably want to beat each other but I ensure that competitiveness is managed in training and they save it for race day!

The increasing number of professional training groups throughout the world has pushed the level of performance up considerably. What makes New Balance Manchester different from other set-ups?

As I mentioned earlier this group in Manchester is quite unique in Europe as there are very few, but we are starting to see more and more groups emerge in the UK especially. We have an athlete house where 4 of the guys live and then everyone else lives within 6 miles of the NB house and training venues.

The athletes are predominantly supported by New Balance, but also receive some support from British Athletics/Welsh Athletics with regards to altitude training camps. The environment we run in is quite spectacular as we are 10 miles from Manchester on the edge of the Peak District National Park with miles of trails, canals, and parkland to run on. We have the option to run on the flat or up and down hills, which I feel is essential to distance running success. There is a strong club structure in the UK and we are lucky to have the support of the local club Stockport Harriers to use the track and its facilities. 

Stockport obviously has a lot to offer, yet few would argue that it could be easier get out the door in warmer conditions. You recently had a training camp in Spain – is this something you will do on a regular basis? What benefits did you see in your athletes?

The weather in the North West of England has a bad reputation but it’s wet and mild all year round so despite the summers never being amazing it is often a nice (15 – 20 degrees centigrade) temperature to train in. We hardly ever get snow in the winter so it rare we have to change plans because of really bad weather. As long as you don’t mind getting a bit wet and muddy occasionally it’s pretty good. Oregon has similar weather and they don’t do too badly over there!

Despite my positivity of the Manchester weather we do like to get away in the dark winter months and Spain in January was simply a chance to get in some quality training, Vitamin D and a change of stimulus for the guys, which I believe can help during the winter grind. I use altitude training and like to get at least 2 camps in for 4 weeks in each year.

 

The Unlikely Runner: Scott Dixon

in INDY CAR/INTERVIEWS/NEW ZEALAND/SOS MAGAZINE/SOS PRO'S/USA by

Scott Dixon has won 4 IndyCar Championships, the Indy500, and has the most career wins of any current IndyCar driver. He is also a runner.

The physical demands experienced by IndyCar drivers are unlike almost no other. Travelling at speeds that cover the distance of a football field in under a second, drivers have to be incredibly strong to endure upwards of 5 G’s of cornering force for up to 3.5 hours in a race.

Given that that breathing is impossible over certain G-forces, it’s not surprising that the oxygen consumption of Indy drivers is comparable to elite swimmers and distance runners. The fitter and stronger a driver is, the less prone they are to fatigue-induced errors that can be fatal.

It’s for this reason that the athletes inside must be as finely tuned as the cars themselves, and have led many to become some of the unlikeliest of runners.

We sat down to discuss how running has helped 4-time IndyCar Champion Scott Dixon of New Zealand, who is married to former British 800m Champion Emma Dixon (nee Davies).

The myth of the unfit race car driver is close to dead. There are widespread stories of guys from Formula 1, NASCAR etc. keeping themselves in top shape in order to get every possible advantage. How have you found that running has affected you in the drivers seat on race day?

Running for me is a good supplement to the other training we do…. Plus it helps to love running. Running is great because it can be tailored for very specific situations, such as very high intensity intervals that help simulate qualifying laps. Long runs help with out right endurance for the races, which can last up to 3.5 hours. It’s imperative to have a clear mind while racing at this level to make split second decisions. This nowadays separates the good from the great!

Dehydration from heat and the corresponding rising heart-rate are two of the variables you obviously have to cope with in the drivers seat – while the fitter you are, the better the body is at regulating those processes. Have you noticed any difference in heart rate or the time it takes you to recover from a race since you began running more?

I sure have. Being fit and able to have your heart rate steady and being able to recover quicker is an advantage.  For me this is where high intensity intervals have really helped with heart rate recovery. It’s like fitting a turbo to a normally aspirated engine.

Do you have a specific running programme?

I have worked with PITFIT training for over 15 years.  There we have very specific sessions that help us reach new heights, and running is a big part of this. We are on the road constantly and running is a great way to keep up your fitness and very easy to apply great sessions.

You’ve driven 500 laps at a time at the Indy500, have you ever run a lap there?

I have run a lap there. Lets just say I was much slower on foot!

Pictured a: Scott’s wife, Emma.

Has running given you an appreciation of the men and women who are crazy enough to do it professionally?

I love running and have since I was a kid. It also helps that my wife is an amazing runner and represented Great Britain on the world stage. All I can say about professional runners is they don’t get paid nearly enough for the work they put in. Amazing athletes.

Who do you think would use more SOS – a marathoner or a race car driver? How much do you go through in a race?

That’s a tough one. I think everyone finds his or her sweet spot. I know our summer months in the Midwest are brutal. 3 hour races over 100 degrees and stuck in a hot car with a fireproof onesie on isn’t the most comfortable; you can lose up to 5lbs during the race.  I just know it has helped me tremendously. Wouldn’t race with out it.

END

Locker Room Talk with Mark Coogan

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Mark Coogan, 2007

Mark Coogan represented the United States at the 1995 world championships (at 5000 meters) and the 1996 Olympics (in the marathon). At Dartmouth, notably, he successfully guided the career of Abbey D’Agostino, 7x NCAA champion. He is currently the New Balance Boston Elite Coach. Daniel Wallis caught up with Mark for this insightful chat on college vs professional attitude, developing coaching knowledge, and training in Boston with his outstanding group of athletes.

SOS Locker Room Talk with Mark Coogan

As a college coach, there are so many variables in the life of a student-athlete that are out of a coaches control. However, as a professional, the idea is that you’re more mature, experienced, and live the required lifestyle. With that in mind, what are a couple of key distinctions in your approach to an athletes’ training between college and as a professional?

Mark Coogan with Abbey D’Agostino during his time at Dartmouth (Photo by Doug Austin) dartmouth.edu

One key distinction that I have noticed is that in a lot of college athletes you really have to find ways to make them train harder. There are a lot of distractions on campus. It also seems that at some colleges now it is about the student-athlete experience rather than doing well. At Dartmouth we tried really hard to make sure the student-athletes had a good experience but also set a tone that you are going train hard and win.

With the professionals that I have coached the last few years, I learned that holding the pros back some days is a key to their success. The professional runners want to succeed so badly that they will over do it if they don’t have a good coach watching and communicating with them. Communication is the key between the coach and professional runner.

College athletes have all the logistical things handed to them, especially if they are from big time schools and conferences. I used to tell the athletes that I coached in college that they could do 2 things well. They can run fast and do well academically but it is really hard to do 3 things well. With the collegiate athlete I would try to make practice the best 2 hours of the day with the hope it would become a top priority. The team would become their family away from home.

The professional runners have to be more responsible than the college runner. They have to do a lot of the logistics on their own. They have to make their own appointments with physical therapy, massage, pay rent, cook their own food, drive to practice etc. Real life stuff! On a college team you have all this at your fingertips and it is done for you.

 

You were self-coached and trained in Boulder with some of the greatest athletes in the history of distance running who all had a wealth of knowledge. As a coach, how do you continue to learn and develop your coaching knowledge?

Mark Coogan, 2007, photo by PhotoRun.net

I always ask a lot of questions. In Boulder, I was kind of the ring- leader trying to get people to train together every day. On runs with Steve Jones, Arturo Barrios and Mark Plaatjes you just absorb what they say and do.

I have never been afraid to ask other runners or coaches what they are doing for sessions. Daniel Coyle is the author of a book called the “The Little Book of Talent” and one of his tips is steal without apology. Improving is about absorbing and applying new information and that is what I try to do. I was lucky enough to be around a lot of the best coaches in America over the past 30 years, a list that includes Charles Torpey, Bob Sevene, Ray Tracey, John Gregorek, Jerry Schumacher, Chris Fox and a few others.

I had the opportunity to train with Providence group from the late 80’s and Boulder crowed in the 90’s. There have been so many great runners and coaches who have influenced my coaching philosophy that I feel I have a very good background, while now at New Balance I have a ton of resources that I can utilise.

Your group is based in Boston, a city often hit pretty hard in the winter. Given it’s that time of year, how does your group adapt it’s training when being outside crosses the line from tough to stupid?

I don’t think Boston is as tough a place to train through the winter as people think it is. On a few days you need to be flexible with your training but other than that you can get your work in. An example of that happened last week. I wanted to have some athletes do a 25-minute tempo run but it was snowy and windy. It was impossible to do it. So we improvised and did cruise intervals on the indoor track. At the end of the day I think we accomplished the same thing. I can tell you it is a lot easier to train in Boston than the other places I have lived – like Dartmouth or Madison, Wisconsin in the winter. When you run in bad weather you really do make yourself a little bit more mentally tough. You can look at the cold weather as a stressor and you will adapt. Then when you see terrible weather in a race you know you can handle it. It is the same reason the Patriots practice outside in Foxborough year round no matter the weather.

 

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