Category archive

RUNNING

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.

 

How to Recover Like a Pro

in LIFESTYLE/RECOVERY/RUNNING/SOS MAGAZINE by

How listening less to college coaches and more to Lance Armstrong will help you run faster… legally.

There is a timeless saying, “you don’t get fit when you’re running; you get fit when you’re recovering”. If training was only about running then you’d barely stop, and Dean Karnazes would win every event from the 5,000m to the marathon at the Olympics. Thankfully, that isn’t the case.

EAT

The current obsession about weight in running is incredibly disconcerting. When female athletes become fixated on becoming as thin as possible it is rightly seen as a health concern, yet amongst males it is becoming an expression of masochism and bravado.

The head cross-country coach at Colorado State Art Siemers has become one of many coaches in the NCAA known for fixating on the weight and appearance of his athletes.

Heidi See

“Thin to win” is his catch phrase, and it’s a terrifying precedent to set on young, highly impressionable athletes.

Weight is just one variable in the training equation of stress, recovery, and adaptation. This is a delicate equilibrium that if thrown off balance can have devastating effects. Weight should not be used as a catalyst to precipitate training adaptations; rather it should be a carefully managed bi-product.

If we accept that fitness gains are made during recovery, then carrying less weight through diet restriction to complete a workout faster will only result in an inability to recover properly.

Eat good food; you need it.

 

HYDRATE

There are plenty of ways to skin a cat. Some are more effective than others, but the point stands – hydration has to be taken care of before all else.

Products used for recovery like chocolate milk are crucial for repairing muscle damage through protein synthesis, yet for this process to be as efficient as possible the muscles must be well hydrated. Without hydrating, protein synthesis will be less effective and increase the time needed for recovery.

Balance is also crucial, as our bodies endocrine system is affected by electrolyte losses. If one electrolyte is consumed in high volumes without the correct balance of the hormonal processes will be disrupted.

 

SLEEP

In a 2015 interview with Joe Rogan, Lance Armstrong stated, “naps are performance enhancing”. He’s not wrong. Sleep is when the magic happens, where the money is made, and most of us aren’t getting enough of it.

When we sleep, our body repairs damaged tissue. During the deeper stages of sleep, human growth hormone (HGH) is released into the bloodstream where it helps rebuild muscles and convert fat to fuel.SOS Hydration

The point is simple; when we don’t get enough quality sleep it becomes harder for our body to recover. The modern world isn’t making it easier; it is now commonplace to be looking at your phone in bed, with the emitted light telling your brain to remain awake and vigilant.

Try to avoid your phone, tablet, laptop or anything emitting that kind of light for an hour before you want to be asleep. A good rule of thumb would be 9hrs before you need to wake up. This can have an exponential effect on your ability to have quality sleep and recover.

Train hard.

Eat a lot of good food.

Hydrate.

Go to sleep.

Easier said than done, apparently.

Team New Balance Manchester Blog

in ATHLETES/BLOGS/RUNNING/SOS MAGAZINE/SOS PRO'S/UK by

Courtesy of Team New Balance Manchester, Blog #17

This weeks blog will focus on hydration, mainly because it is often a neglected element of training amongst athletes, but it can have a huge effect on both performance and recovery.

Hydration may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of training in the UK, especially in Manchester. However, keeping hydrated in a cold and wet Manchester is just as important is it is would be anywhere else in the world! Our requirements here in Manchester probably aren’t quite as high as they would be in a hot, dry desert, but nevertheless, it is still important!

It’s hard to estimate our exact fluid requirements as it varies from individual to individual depending on sweat rate, body size, training load and the environment (temperature, humidity level, altitude). In a normal day, the average person loses 2L of water just through breathing, sweating, urine and bowel movements. Add exercise to your day and this figure can be significantly higher. It’s possible to loose up to 2L per hour through exercise which is quite staggering! A 2% loss in body weight due to dehydration can result in a 20% drop in performance mainly due to the fact that dehydration leads to increased heart rate, increased use of muscle glycogen stores and increased lactate production. None of which are particularly conducive for optimum performance! Along with water, we also loose two main electrolytes in our sweat; Sodium and Chloride. Sodium is the main electrolyte in our bodies, and serves many functions from regulating fluid balance to enabling muscle contraction and controlling blood pressure. Re-hydrating is therefore not only about replacing water.

When it comes to hydrating, here at Team NBMCR we like to use the best, and are very fortunate to have the support of SOS Rehydrate. It is a company founded by international athletes and Doctors. They produce a great tasting oral rehydration formula which is in line with the standards set by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, and is also trusted by Informed Sport. The combination of electrolytes in SOS Rehydrate can be as effective as an IV drip for mild to moderate dehydration. It’s easy to fall into the trap of buying sports drinks which are branded to be rehydrating, but the reality is, they often often aren’t particularly effective in combating dehydration as they don’t contain quite the right balance of electrolytes and glucose. What this means, without going into too much scientific detail, is that despite taking in lots of fluid in the form of sports drinks, the body doesn’t actually absorb all the fluid and a lot will be lost from the body. The SOS formula on the other hand has the perfect mix of electrolytes and glucose for optimal absorption and hydration. Our bodies can absorb 3 x more water with SOS compared to just drinking water alone!

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This image, taken from the SOS Rehydrate website, gives a description of its key ingredients

SOS comes in convenient sachets, which you just pour into water, give it a little shake or stir, and then all you have to do is drink up, which is pretty easy as they taste great too! They come in four flavours: berry, citrus, mango and coconut. Fortunately we all have different favourite flavours on the team so there aren’t too many squabbles about who gets what flavour! On an average day in Manchester, we probably get through around one sachet a day each, but slightly more when we’re away at altitude or warmer climes.

sos-mango-sachets_prod

More information can be found here on the SOS website http://sosrehydrate.com/. We at team NBMCR are big fans of SOS and would definitely recommend it for all your hydration needs!

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Just as a side note, here are ten random facts about water and hydration for anyone who’s interested!

  1. Koalas and Kangaroo Rats are two creatures that do not need to drink water to live. They are able to get all their water requirements from other sources such as eucalyptus leaves

  2. Camels can drink 94 litres of water in less than 3 minutes- don’t try this at home!

  3. Breathing in and out uses more than half a litre of water every day

  4. The average human brain is 78% water

  5. You begin to feel thirsty when your body looses 1% of water

  6. A person can live without food for more than a month, but only a week with no water

  7. Hot water freezes faster than cold water

  8. An air traveller can loose approximately 1.5 litres of water during a 3 hour flight

  9. Sound travels almost 5 times faster underwater than in air

  10. The food with the highest water content is cucumber at 96.7% followed by iceberg lettuce and celery

Away from hydrating, we have also been busy training and racing. This weekend Lauren and Jonny are heading to Cheshire for the Alsager 5 mile road race, while Andy is is continuing his indoor season racing a 3,000m in Mondeville, Northern France. Good luck guys!

Locker Room Talk with Mark Coogan

in INTERVIEWS/RUNNING/SOS MAGAZINE/TRAINING/USA by
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.

 

Behind the Scenes with Clayton Murphy

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

SOS athlete Clayton Murphy races with the poise and experience that you’d expect from someone with far more experience. At the US Olympic trials he showed the country that he was more than ‘just’ a great college athlete, then he showed the world he was the real deal as he crossed the line in 3rd place in the 800m in Rio.

We caught up with Clayton to see what makes his wheels turn, and how he has transitioned seamlessly from college to life as a professional athlete.

For the past decade the 800m has come to be dominated by ‘specialists’, runners like Yuriy Borzakovskiy and David Rudisha who are pure half milers. You however, are reminiscent of the likes of Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett, guys who could mix it up in both the 800m and the mile. Do you see yourself racing more regularly over the mile and above in the future?

I think the future of my race selection is interesting. I really enjoy both races, each with their own challenges and styles. So as far as a favourite I do not have one right now, and training for me for the 800/mile is similar. So I think right now I am really just enjoying both and keeping my options open for the future!

Clayton Murphy
©TrackAndFieldPhoto.com 2016 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials

 

Many American athletes in particular struggle with the transition from college to professional running, especially given the lack of a ‘team’ atmosphere that is easy to become comfortable in. Are there any specific ways you have managed this transition so well?

I think the biggest transition I noticed was that you lose your everyday schedule and support group you had as a collegiate athlete. You lose your teammates, medical staff, academic staff, equipment people, etc. That group is no longer is there, so not only are you making the transition from running a collegiate season, you are transitioning and creating an entirely new support group.

Lucky for me I am able to help coach and train with my collegiate teammates, work everyday with Coach LaBadie still, and use the same massage therapist/sports chiro I used while I was a student-athlete. Being able to keep the core pieces of my “team” with me has been huge in making a smooth transition to life as a professional.

It’s easy to go mad as a professional runner, how do give yourself a break from training and routine day-in, day-out?

I think making sure that I have fun with running is the first priority. Everyday for me training has to be fun. If you are not having fun it doesn’t matter what you do outside of running because you’re going to go insane.

Outside of running I am finishing my schooling to receive a bachelors degree in Finance from the University of Akron, so that takes up time after workouts. I also play a lot of video games including PS4, Xbox One, and PC gaming. My roommates and I are very competitive in FIFA and the Call of Duty games

 

Some half-milers and milers are now making incorporating blocks at altitude in their training. Is this something you have ever considered?

At this point in my career I have not considered altitude training block yet. But I am not against it, I have not researched the idea enough to act on it yet.

Many find it difficult to adjust to life in the village at the Olympic Game’s given they are thrown completely out of their routines. How did you go about each day in Rio to make sure you still did all the little things and remain in a positive mindset?

In Rio for me, and other big meets I really try to just adapt and make do with what I have. I have learned over my three years in college that not every hotel, restaurant, city, practice facility, etc. is going to have the same thing you want every time.

With Rio we had to make a pretty big adaption. Our practice track was 1 to 1.5-hour bus ride away, so we had many runs that had to be done in the village. This was tough running concrete circles but if I wanted to compete well I had to get it done.

 

END

RUNNING AROUND THE HOLIDAYS

in LIFESTYLE/RUNNING/SOS MAGAZINE/TRAINING/USA by

It’s that time of year… Christmas, New Years… all that good stuff. Holiday’s are great, except they create some unique challenges when it comes to training.
Runners are creatures of habit; we create routines for ourselves to manage stress and   stay on top of all the variables associated with training. Basically, runners build their own micro ecosystem.

If there is one thing that can disrupt that ecosystem, its travel – which is why you will regularly see runners’ hotel rooms looking like a workout room. The bare necessities for normal humans are a suitcase and a bathing suit. For the runner it’s a foam roller, stretching rope, lacrosse ball, theraband… the list goes on.

Chances are this holiday season you will be travelling, and that your family will still never be able to comprehend why you are “going for a run”, or why you can’t just “fit it in” some other time. Then there is trying to explain why you are so tired all the time, and telling Nana as politely as possible that you already eat a lot and don’t need “fattening up”. Add to that the fact that you’re likely going to be either sharing a room with three other relatives or sleeping on the sofa. Last but not least you’re probably going to be in a place that you don’t do a lot of training in. There is no 4 mile loop that you can shut your mind off on and just lap a couple of times, or your trusty favourite workout spot.ssrun5

Just like exam time during University, the above is all added yet underrated stress on the body. Runners are constantly dancing around and across a very thin red line of peak fitness or injury and illness, and it often only takes a few new variables for the scales to quickly tip. With this in mind, we have put together some simple yet effective tips to help you manage training during the holiday season.

For those lucky enough to be runners in America, annual leave virtually does not exist, so chances are you will be back home in about two or three days.

 

PLAN AHEAD

Sounds simple, yet it is one of the easiest things to forget about. It often feels like Christmas is the day after Thanksgiving, and you go from your Turkey Trot to having lunch next to that weird Uncle who still wants to teach you how to wrestle.

Finding good training spots in new areas is now more accessible than it has ever been, particularly with the rise in popularity of applications like Strava. Look for some popular loops, parks or paths and plan your training accordingly. The data will give you a good sense of where you can run fast, and where you can run without dealing with traffic or a lot of people. University campuses are usually a pretty good starting point, as even if you are in the middle of the town where they made ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ you will probably find a track or some bike paths to run on.

 

GET GOOD AT RUNNING LAPS

There is no point taking any risks while you are running in a new area. By that I mean if you find a decent little park or grassed field somewhere, run it to death. There is nothing worse than trying to do a recovery run and also figure out where the hell you are: stopping and starting, looking down at your phone and trying to navigate out of iTunes and into Google maps. If Bowerman TC can do a 15 mile run on Ronaldo field at Nike WHQ (which is 3 laps to the mile) then you can run around a shitty high school football field for an hour.

 

GET A TRIAL GYM MEMBERSHIP

24hr gyms are everywhere, and they all offer free-trials for a couple of visits. Set one up in advance and head there before and/or after runs. That way you can get into your tights and lay around on the floor with your various shaped balls and stretching ropes without your family thinking that you’re some kind of burlesque performer.

By heading to a gym you can dedicate all the time you need to pre-hab and re-hab and not need to worry about any running-related activities while back at the house. Not only is this easier logistically, its also a lot less stressful as there isn’t any chance you can be made to feel bad for doing your bum exercises while Nana is fisting the turkey with stuffing and everyone else is pottering about the kitchen.

 

REGULATE NOISE & LIGHT

It is perfectly acceptable for people aged 50 or over to fall asleep absolutely anywhere, yet runners often have the energy and motivation levels of the elderly. The advantage Grandad has is that he can turn his hearing aid off and instantly be in nap-heaven.

If you are not lucky enough to require the use of a hearing aid yet, buy some earplugs from the supermarket. If you are a seasoned traveller you will likely have some noise cancelling headphones. Add to this a sleep mask and you have a ripping day-time sleep set up that signals your intentions for a nap and will make people feel bad about trying to wake you. If you can add to this a feet-up situation that involves a blanket and/or a pillow you will have successfully mastered the task.

Target your most important daytime sleeps for after meals when there is a higher likelihood of your family doing the same after they have eaten themselves halfway towards diabetes.

 

MINUTES NOT MILES

Once again, sounds simple, but it can be a huge help. Don’t worry about pace or distance. If you normally cover about 10 miles for a 70 minute run at home but are now somewhere where you are still not quite settled, just do 70 minutes rather than trying to hit an exact pace or distance.

GPS watches are a great tool but can often be more harmful than helpful. Don’t try and force the pace and distance of a run you know inside out back home in an area where you aren’t as comfortable.

 

TAKE A DAY OFF

Getting fit is about a balance between stress and rest. Chances are you will probably be going to sleep later and up earlier than you normally would be. Being surrounded by people every minute of the day can often leave you feeling a bit drained from being ‘on’ so much.

Play it safe and schedule a day off during the week so you can enjoy a lunchtime beer and kick back like a normal person for 12 hours. This will help to restore your reputation as something more than the fanatical ‘exerciser’ in the family.

Toeing the party line like this for a day may cause temporary insanity, given it will be a consistent recycling pattern of sitting, eating and the same stories over and over and over. Still, it will be good for the body and is also a great chance to bank some emotional capital that you will need for leaving early during the opening of presents for your tempo.

 

Enjoy the Holiday’s, and don’t forget to hydrate!

 

 

Better Beer Miles with Josh Harris

in ATHLETES/AUSTRALIA/INTERVIEWS/LIFESTYLE/RUNNING/SOS MAGAZINE by

 

Tomorrow Josh Harris (@_JoshHarris) will take on the world’s best at the Flotrack Beer Mile World Championships. Having recently run a solo 4:56 personal best as part of a time-trial, Harris enters the competition with a ranking of 8th.
Along with defending World Champ Corey Gallagher (@CoreyGallagher4) and superstar Lewis Kent (@lewiskentmiler), Harris is part of a Trio of SOS athletes who will toe the line in Austin with expectations of the podium.
We caught up with Josh before he headed out from his short stint in Colorado Springs to Texas for the Big Dance.

Walk us through the race this weekend… 

This has been my goal race since I resumed training after the Berlin Marathon (Ran a 10km PB, 29:42 the day before I flew out). I’m spending a few days with some friends at altitude in Colorado Springs before heading into Austin two days before the race. Once the race is finished I’m headed to New York for the first time with Canadian Beer Miler Lewis Kent.15536847_10210897104165065_771214771_o

What are the goals that you’re setting for yourself? 

I think I’m 6th fastest of the guys running the race on Saturday, as i’ve now slipped down to about #8 all time over the past year. I have a list of 5 goals that I would like to achieve in the race, and I would like to tick off as many of these as I can.

  1. Top 3 finish
  2. Sub 4:50
  3. Top 5 finish
  4. PB/AR: 4:56.25 Don’t spew

The Beer Mile is becoming a pretty popular event, what are some tips that the everyday beer miler can incorporate into their training to knock off some time? 

There are a few key strategies some of us use to be successful in the Beer Mile. Apart from some obvious race day tips that are around on the internet I’ll give 3 specific training methods that I have been using to try and maximise my performance:

  1. I have been incorporating beer strides to get some training in after the occasional run. (3 x 60m, beer, 60m, walk back)
  2. Try and build your capacity! I’m smaller than most of the other elite guys, so I do this by drinking some beers, while eating as much as I can. I occasionally fill a beer bottle with water and chug as many of those as I can in a row.15555377_10210906012747774_33107980_o
  3. Do a race simulation before race day. There’s nothing more specific than actually going out and doing one. It doesn’t have to be a full Beer Mile but try and do at least 3 beers, with race pace running. My weakness is not being able to run anywhere near mile pace on lap 2 & 3, which is why I need several practice workouts to get up to speed.

With all the beers available, what do you use on race-day?

To be official the beers need to be at least 355ml (12 oz) and 5% alcohol content, which limits the choices considerably. The easiest beer i’ve had that fits both criteria it the Budweiser Light Platinum. The beer is 6%, but it’s the volume that is the issue in the race, rather than the alcohol content.

You can’t always mix business and pleasure, what is your go-to beer on the off days? 

When I’m drinking casually I love to drink Van Dieman products. They are a local beer from back home in Tasmania and have been a really great supporter. They are a brand doing good things in the Tasmanian community. I really enjoy their Pale Ale, and I would say that it would definitely be my current beer of choice. 

Given that not all Beer Miles are on the track, what footwear will you go for? 

It depends what surface the race is being held on. The Beer Mile is still a somewhat underground event, so they can be held on the track, grass or road. I would wear the same shoe I would race a standard mile in. If the race is on the track I would use the Brooks Wire 4, but if it is road like the Flotrack World Championships I will use the Brooks Hyperion for a fast, lightweight feel.

 

Interview with the Clean Sport Collective

in INTERVIEWS/RUNNING/SOS MAGAZINE/USA by

Many sports are currently mired in drug scandals, with track & field currently one of the leading offenders.
Although large-scale reforms are required to address the cascade of problems associated with state-sponsored doping, there is plenty of work that can be done to address the culture of the sport at the grass-roots level.

It is arguably more important than ever that clean athletes demand transparency and trust from the products and supplements they are using. The risk versus reward equation does not exist in this scenario; there is nothing to be gained from products that are not independently tested by approved organisations.

As a company committed to consistent independent testing of our products, SOS spoke to the newly formed Clean Sport Collective about their plans for improving the culture of clean sport.

 

cleansport_001

The Australian Anti-doping authority recently released data showing that 1 in 5 commonly available supplements contained one or more supplements banned in sport. At the same time, WADA states that athletes are strictly liable for any prohibited substances. Many companies have taken the step themselves to be Informed Sport & Informed Choice certified in order to protect athletes. How will a CSC certification compare to this type of regulation?

Cross contamination is an issue both athletes and sports nutrition brands have a responsibility to manage. Athletes are liable for what they put in their bodies. They need to both educate themselves on the substances that are banned and not consume supplements, sports nutrition products that have not been verified as clean. Brands, like SOS has demonstrated, are a solution through getting their products third party testing to ensure the athletes the will not be inadvertently consuming a banned substance through cross contamination. The Clean Sport Certification program we are building for brands will include a category for nutrition, sports nutrition brands. Achieving and maintaining a 3rd party verification from Informed-Choice will be part of the requirements for certification. 

Does CSC intend on assuming a watchdog role by testing products independently, or rather only test products when approached by companies seeking certification?

The CSC will not administer the testing of any products. We encourage all sports nutrition brands to have their products 3rd party tested. There are multiple organizations that offer the service and as SOS we recommend Informed-Choice. 

What is a CSC Technical Advisor?

The Technical Advisor will be the individual handling the Clean Sport Certification process with brands, events and athletes. This person will be the main point of contact throughout the process. This program is in the early stages of being built and currently we are offering the inquiry form to allow organizations and athletes to express their interest. 

What steps are being taken by CSC to ensure that products they certify do not cause an athlete to record a positive test?

Related to sports nutrition brands the Clean Sports Certification program will work alongside Informed-Choice to approve this part of the certification. These type of brands will be required to achieve and maintain this 3rd party verification. Informed-Choice products are tested at LGC, a world renowned sports doping control and research laboratory, with over 50 years of expertise in anti-doping in sport. LGC has been testing for prohibited substances in sport since 2002 and has tested tens of thousands of product/ingredient samples during that time. LGC is currently testing over 5,000 samples per year for over 180 nutrition companies worldwide.

CSC has stated that it wants companies to refuse to work with known dopers. How does this fit with the organisations restorative mission?

To become a brand member of the CSC brands do have to commit they they will not be sponsoring athletes that have previously tested positive. We dot not believe athletes that have previously tested positive should be able to compete alongside athletes that have not. However, we do believe in redemption and believe athletes that have not chosen to compete fairly in sport have the ability to create positive change for the clean sport movement. Many of these athletes are truly apologetic for their actions that negatively affected sport and deserve to be forgiven. Through the Restoration portion we will work alongside 3rd parties to help these athletes move their lives forward and be part of the education on why athletes should not chose to use illegal performance enhancing drugs.  

It appears for obvious reasons that many founding members and brands are either clients of ModCraft or associated with the company. As more competing companies register to be certified, what steps will CSC take to remain impartial in regards to endorsing the products it has certified?

Everyone involved with the Clean Sport Collective is very passionate about being part of the solution and accelerating the conversations for and building the clean sport movement. All of the founding members know each other personally and we encourage others who would like to be involved to please reach out. We’ve already had multiple individuals and organizations express their interest and some are already working with us. Similar to the pioneers in the natural foods movement we feel this is the beginning of creating a powerful collective voice that will achieve meaningful, enduring positive change for clean sport. The more individuals, brands and events involved the more powerful we will become together. 

In regards to the Clean Sport Certification program the individual responsible for the evaluation, the Technical Advisor, will be an outside party brought in with this specific experience. There will be full disclosure of what will be evaluated and this information will be public. At this point no brands, events or athletes have been or are in the process of being certified. This program is in the early stages of being built and currently we are offering the inquiry form to allow organizations and athletes to express their interest. 

What steps will CSC take in regards to industry advocacy, and what are the key outcomes the organisation is seeking to achieve in this regard? 

Industry advocacy is a very critical piece of the clean sport movement. We will work with industry through awareness, education and evaluation. We seek for all sports related brands to publicly commit to clean sport by pledging they will not sponsor athletes that have tested positive.  And, a primary outcome is for all of the brands in this space to have communication surrounding clean sport as part of their annual marketing initiatives. Through the Clean Sport Certification program our goal is to build an evaluation platform for those brands and events looking to have their clean sport efforts externally measured while continually improving their positive impact for clean sport. 

Who are the partners that CSC donations go to?

The partners are third parties and programs that will be funded for specific projects related to our 4 Lanes of Positive Change, Awareness, Drug Testing, Industry Advocacy and Restoration. For example, we will be offering drug testing scholarships to events. We would pay a third party drug testing facility to facilitate it or give the event the funds to pay them. And, partners are not brands. We will be working with member brands to raise donations in order to fund the partners. 

Afternoon tea with Neely

in ATHLETES/INTERVIEWS/RUNNING/SOS MAGAZINE/USA by

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Currently based in Boulder, Colorado, Neely Spence-Gracey was 1st American in her debut marathon at Boston earlier this year. She has since capped off 2016 with a PR (2:34:55) and an 8th place finish at the New York City Marathon where she was also 2nd American.

Having trained at both sea level and altitude, do you have a preference? 

I have personally responded really well to training at altitude. I certainly like racing at sea level though! I honestly could train at either place, but for me, the environment is what is most important. Living in Boulder, I am surrounded by people who value an active lifestyle. The culture is what makes such a difference and increases the joy I have while training.

What are some of the key differences you have found between training at altitude as opposed to sea level?

As an elite athlete, I have the ability to adjust my training so I am on a 9-day schedule instead of trying to cram 2 workouts and a long run in every week, I instead of 2 easy days between every hard effort. This allows me to recover between hard sessions, keep my volume higher, and not get over trained. I also have learned to adjust for effort vs having to hit exact paces for every workout. I trust that I know how hard I should push and it has carried over very well to sea level races where I run consistently 15-20sec faster per mile than what I do training at altitude.

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We are what we eat… what are your pre and post run favourites?

I certainly go through phases – before a workout or race, I always have coffee! I only have decaf, or a sports drink on non-workout and race days, so I really look forward to the caffeine to give me a little extra pep in my step! As for post run, my go-to is an egg sandwich.

Your switch from Hanson’s to Steve Magness has seen you run two pretty amazing marathons. What are 3 things that have changed in your training that you believe have made a positive difference?

While running for the Hanson’s, I had no intention of doing a marathon for several years. I had never even run a 10k until I started training under them. So the focus was more on the 5k-10k range, and XC where I was 13th in the world in 2013. I had a lot of success, but after I had knee surgery and my lyme disease flare up, I was really frustrated not to be hitting PRs in these shorter races. I decided I needed a mental rest from chasing times and wanted to pursue something new that I couldn’t compare myself to in the past. At the same time, my husband got a job offer in Colorado that was too good to pass up, so we made the move and I signed up for the Gasparilla Half Marathon. I raced, and finished second to Jen Rhines. I felt amazing running the distance, and qualified for the Olympic Trials with a 1:12.

 

  1. It was just the thing I needed to regain my love of the sport and I started to believe in myself again. After that moment, I started to consider the marathon. I actually continued to train with the 9 day schedule the Hanson’s use, as I felt that I really benefitted from those 2 easy days between hard sessions. It also allows the long run to be more of a workout that is ideal in prepping for longer races. The change is that my workouts are more varied. I am a historian by nature; I have every workout I have done since 8th grade written down in a training log. So repeating workouts can be a huge positive if I have made progress, or very negative if I am comparing too closely. The variety really helps me focus on the present and the task at hand.

 

  1. I am in control of my training. My husband and Steve Magness work together to develop my training plan, but Steve lives in Houston and Dillon is at work during the week, so I am in control of my workouts and of executing them according to plan. They trust me to adjust as needed for conditions, footing, how I am feeling, etc. Sometimes I run a little faster than prescribed, and other times I go off the effort I need to hit despite not meeting the time goals initially laid out.

 

  1. As I mentioned earlier, the culture of Boulder inspires me daily. I grew up spending summers in Boulder when my dad was training as an elite marathoner, so it feels like home to me and living in a place that you’re happy is such an important part of being successful.

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You mentioned on social media after NYC that many lessons were learned. What will be doing different heading into /during your next marathon?

Unfortunately, I experienced the “wall” in the final miles of the NYC marathon. I felt great until mile 21, and then the wheels started coming off. I realized, too late, that I didn’t get in the fuel I needed at mile 18. I plan to work on this for the future and develop a stronger stomach to handle the gels needed for the distance. I am proud of the race I ran, and I know that I have some details to iron out that will allow me to really improve for the future.

It’s starting to get cold, and snow should soon be on the ground in Colorado. How does your training change during the winter? Are you flexible with days and workouts or will you get out the door and get it done no matter what?

Having lived in Michigan for a few years, I am not at all perplexed with the Colorado winters. The sun comes out, and even a few hours of sunshine will make a huge difference with the road conditions. If it is a light snow, I will just wait until 9 or 10am to go run. If it’s a heavier snow, I will utilize the treadmill. I actually prefer workouts on the treadmill to just an easy run because I am more focused and the task of a workout allows the time to pass more quickly.

It is always important to be flexible and adjust as needed for weather conditions. Last spring, while training for Boston, we got hit with a 2-foot snowstorm the weekend of my longest scheduled long run. It also happened to be Easter, and since my husband has an extra day off work, we did a spontaneous trip to Flagstaff in Arizona to get in my long run outside. By the time we got back the roads were clear and I was good to go for the final 2 weeks of training.

 

Watch out for Neely in 2017 and she continues her progress as one of America’s leading female distance runners. You can follow her on Twitter & Instagram @neelysgracey and on her website neelyruns.com

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The Fuelling Game

in AUSTRALIA/MARATHONING/NEW ZEALAND/RUGBY/SOS MAGAZINE/TRAINING/UK/USA by

Fuelling 101 

The final 6 miles of a marathon are often a world of hurt that are difficult to describe, as your body wants nothing more than to stop and sit down on the side of the road.

Performance in a marathon is about limiting variables and controlling the controllable. Train hard, recover well and the variables associated with fitness are minimised. Practice pace judgement and the likelihood that you reach your goal starts to maximise. Fuel properly and you increase the chances of avoiding ‘the wall’ or the myriad of other names associated with struggling through the last 10-12km.

Fuelling is a strategy of supplementing the bodies diminishing glycogen stores throughout long distance racing. There are two sides to the coin of fuelling: hydration and carbohydrate. The key is maximising the bodies ability to utilise both, so absorption and availability is King.

The general consensus in the scientific community is that the body generally has enough glycogen ‘on board’ to get you to around 75-90 minutes of hard running. However, by implementing an effective hydration and carbohydrate protocol, gains can be anywhere from 2-15% based on where you’re racing.

When it comes to fuelling for the marathon there is plenty of conflicting information floating around, yet there are a few in the scientific community that a) specialise in this area b) are runners themselves and work with elites, and finally c) can communicate this information clearly and concisely. One of the few to be d) all of the above, is Trent Stellingwerff.

Stellingwerff provides physiology and nutrition expertise to Canada’s national rowing, track & field and triathlon teams, as well as leading their Innovation and Research division. He is currently one of the leading-brains in the field, and below we have implemented some of his recommendations into a “how to” guide for fuelling with SOS for any race where you’re likely to be on your feet for longer than those 70-90 minutes.

 

SOS athlete Patrick Rizzo finishing the London Marathon. April, 2012.
SOS athlete Patrick Rizzo finishing the London Marathon in 12th place. April, 2013. Rizzo has found that without effective fuelling he is unable to get the most out of his fitness and regularly practices taking on fluids in training.

 

HOW DOES SOS FIT?

SOS is an Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) and one of the most effective ways to absorb electrolytes outside of an IV Drip, which would be difficult to utilise while racing…

 

WHAT ABOUT THE CARBOHYDRATE?

For the purpose of this analysis we will look at the personal favourite of some of the SOS marathoners: gels. Gels are widely available and are easy to carry on the run or dissolve in water. They’re also available at most major marathons and trail races.

 

WHERE TO START?

Although there are some useful ‘general guidelines’, we all have different needs, so it’s always a good idea to complete a bit of an amateur sweat test during training. It is as simple as it sounds: track your weight pre and post run. The metric system makes this a lot easier as 1L of sweat is equal to 1 Kg of body weight. Ideally you will end up somewhere between the 2-5% range. That will give you an idea of how much fluid you will need to get down to keep the tank running. Try it across varying types of weather and distances to get a bit of an idea of how your body is working to keep itself cool.

 

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Laura Thweatt successfully implemented her favourite Mango SOS as a key part of her fuelling for the NYC Marathon in 2015 where she was 1st American.

 

WHAT TYPE OF FUEL?

Gels compliment hydration via SOS pretty well. However, not all gels are created equal, and neither are all sugars. Stellingwerff recommends a blend of glucose and fructose, with studies indicating that this allows between 20-40% greater absorption and delivery of carbohydrate over glucose alone. Stellingwerff explains that this is because there are separate transporters for glucose and fructose in the intestine. This means that a glucose/fructose blend of around 2:1 results in increased uptake of carbohydrate and more delivery to the muscles.

Various brands of gels offer a wide range of consistency and viscosity that is all a matter of personal preference. What is important is the glucose/fructose ratio. Look for maltodextrin (which is glucose as well) or sucrose and fructose as the first two ingredients.

 

THE RULE OF 15

Stellingwerff has become known for coining the ‘Rule of 15’ which is basically consuming something close to 15 grams of carbohydrate every 15 minutes and 150 mL of fluid. Don’t overthink the exact numbers, the key is being there or there about over the course of an hour (ish), which is around 60g per hour and 600 mL per hour.

In order to limit GI distress and maximise absorption while also working to the guidelines above, we have found that it’s a good idea to separate your fuel and hydration. Rather using sports drink that is trying to be everything for everyone, alternate SOS and a gel at each available station. This way you can let your body focus on one thing at a time while still getting your fuel requirements.

Separating hydration also allows for a greater ability to modify consumption based on weather without sacrificing glycogen intake. If it’s hot, you can drink more and vice versa. Hydration needs can vary; glycogen requirements do not.

Take your time with your fluids; you don’t need to get your whole bottle down in 30 seconds. It’s not uncommon to see those at the top end of the field sipping over the course of a kilometre. It’s easier on the system and settles with less distress.

 

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

Running is fast can be hard, and drinking while running fast is even harder. With that in mind it’s important to practice your fluids in training as much as is feasibly possible. Set up a foldout table or put bottles on the hood of your car. If you are carrying bottles, practice long runs and workouts with your fuel belt on or bottle in hand. If you are leaving hydration purely up to what the race provides, try and get as efficient as you can with drinking out of paper cups.

 

Don’t let all the training you have done fall apart because of an inadequate fuelling strategy. You can be as fit as you have ever been, but if the pump from the engine to the tank isn’t working optimally you will almost certainly run below your ability.

 

 

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