The 8 S’s Of Running


When we refer to speed as runners we are talking about our movement over distance and how much time that takes. So how can we improve our speed so it takes less time to cover a set distance. For shorter distances like 5 km or 10 km interval training is a great method to improve speed. This is running a set distance or amount of time at a high speed, anywhere between 85% and 100% of your personal effort. For increased distances like a half or full marathon we need endurance runs or tempo runs. As these suggest it is maintaining a higher speed over an increased distance or amount of time, somewhere around 75% to 85% of personal effort. You should be able to maintain this for about an hour, These runs will help your muscles deal with lactic acid as well. For any greater distances like ultras i would suggest HRM training, running very long and very slow keeping the heart rate around the 140 BPM mark. You will probably find you need lots of walking breaks to keep the heart rate in check


Stamina can be put into two types, cardio vascular and local muscular. Through a regular exercise regime your lungs and heart will strengthen and become more efficient in delivering oxygen to the muscles. A person can expect to gain a lower heart rate and increased stroke volume of the heart. Muscles will improve their ability to store glycogen to help with their endurance.


There are three types of strength we use. Explosive strength where the energy is used in a single action like jumping or throwing. Dynamic strength, the ability of your muscles to support you over a long period of time. And static strength, the force that can be applied against a static object as in weightlifting. As runners it is dynamic strength that we are interested in. Bodyweight exercises are great for dynamic strength. Exercises such as squat jumps, bounding, hopping and various medicine ball exercises are all great at improving dynamic strength. Fitting in just one or two sessions a week will still be of a long term benefit.


Suppleness refers to how we move and bend at the joints. Also referred to as flexibility, improving our suppleness can help reduce the risk of injury. There are a multitude of stretches possible. I have tried many and found a select few that work well for me hitting points of my muscles that tighten regularly. A favourite is the kneeling hip flexor stretch with raised foot. I find this really loosens my hips, helps with my gait and improves my speed.


Sleep is another very important factor in running. All of the bodies major repair is done during sleep. Getting 8 hours of sleep can help improve mood, concentration, improve athletic performance and you are less likely to get ill. I know how hard it is to get a decent amount of sleep as i am regularly home from work at midnight or later and then need to be up at 7am to help the chidren get ready for school and also to give myself time to run before starting work. So I am usually only getting 6 1/2 to 7 hours sleep and over a week i can end up getting quite exhausted. So I try as best as possible on days off to get to bed earlier.


Learning and performing techniques will help improve your running. Pacing, you don’t have to take every run at race pace. It’s ok to slow down, long slow runs will improve your running just as much as short fast ones. Sprinting, adding short sharp bursts will activate different muscle fibres and will help in race situations when you need to increase the pace or overtake. Recovery is just as much a skill, cooling down and stretching will help with muscle repair and help make you stronger for your next run.


Our state of mind when running or even thinking of going for a run plays a strong role in our participation, improvement and enjoyment of running. There are a lot of people that are very disciplined and rarely have any down periods with their running, I am not one of those! My moods towards running rise and fall constantly, especially this time of year when runs are gloomy, wet and cold. I personally help myself along by reading magazines, books and websites to keep my motivation up. I am also a running club member which is of a great help, we have regular social meet ups for meals that really helps boost mental positivity. Setting and hitting realistic targets is also a great way of staying positive.


Diet is very important in not only improving health but also our running ability. Personally the way I tackle my food intake is to work out my calorific needs and then eat as much healthy whole non processed food to meet that need. I include oats, bananas, almond butter, rapeseed oil, nuts, seeds, dates, noodles, brown rice, avocados, beans, peppers and various other fruits and vegetables. Diet can not only help with energy levels but also improve cholesterol levels, lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.


If you take the time to cover the 8 S’s you’ll be setting yourself a good regime for improving. Spring isn’t far away and the improvements will show when the warmer weather returns. Don’t give up, keep striving and you’ll reach your targets for 2014.

Are All Sugars Equal?

2013-07-25 12.05.01
We all know we need sugar to survive but most of us don't give much thought to the vast array of sugars that are out there. We get our sugars mainly from fruits and vegetables and also processed foods like cakes, biscuits and chocolate bars.Our bodies run on glucose by breaking down carbohydrates to create APT for energy. The liver is the bodies processing unit for sugars. If sugars are consumed in liquid form or in high sugar foods like cakes or chocolate bars thus can put a high load on the liver. This in turn causes an increase in uric acid causing inflammation, gout and increased blood pressure. Over time this can also create a fatty liver which is the main cause of insulin resistance leading to diabetes. Sugars in fruit or vegetables are far better because the fibre content helps slow the load on the liver. Therefore high sugar foods or sports drinks should be limited to when exercising when those sugars will be used very quickly by the body.
The recommended intake of sugars should be 10% of daily calorie intake so roughly 50g for someone consuming 2000 calories. Limiting carbohydrates is an effective way of reducing sugar intake and helping to lose body fat. A big problem with this method is increased hunger. The University of Sydney, Australia performed a satiety test to find foods that satisfied hunger the best. The most satisfying foids were boiled potatoes, raw fruits, fish and lean meat. The worst were croissants, doughnuts, chocolate bars and peanuts.

I have compiled a list of commonly found sugars and where possible the GI for those sugars. The GI of glucose is given the value of 100 and all sugars are measured against this. So a food with a GI of 95 is almost as pure as glucose. A food with a GI of 20 on the other hand won't raise blood sugar much at all.

2013-07-25 12.05.39
Ose = sugar
Itol = sugar alcohol

Agave 11
Aspartame 0
Barley Malt Syrup 42
Beet Sugar
Brown Sugar
Cane Syrup 43
Coconut Palm 35
Confectioners Sugar
Corn Syrup 75
Date Sugar
Dextrose 100
Fructose 12-25
Fruit Juice Concentrate
Glucose 100
Glucose Syrup
Granulated White Sugar 80
High Fructose Corn Syrup 87
High Maltose Corn Syrup
Honey 32-87
Invert Sugar 60
Lactose 46
Maltodextrin 110
Maltose 105
Maple Syrup 54
Molasses 55
Rice Syrup 25
Saccharin 0
Stevia <1
Sucralose 0
Sucrose 58-65
Erythritol 1
Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysates 35
Isomalt 2
Lactitol 3
Mannitol 2
Sorbitol 4
Xylitol 12
Turbinado 65

The main factors to consider with sugars are.
1. Avoid fruit juice and fizzy drinks
2. Stay away from processed foods as they can contain added sweetners.
3. Try and get your sugars through the day from fruits and vegetables
4. Limit sports drinks to when exercising
5. Try and limit sugars to a GI of 50 or less to limit the load on the liver and reduce a high insulin response.
6. Last but not least try and reduce cakes and chocolate bars.

Thanks for reading and keep up the great running.

Still Plugging Away With New Races On The Horizon!

My diet regime seems to be going ok. Made a few minor tweaks to some of the stuff i’m eating. I think “diet” always has a bit of a negative aspect that you change what you eat for a while to improve yourself then go back to what you used to eat and lose all the hard work that you made. I’d like to think i have changed what i eat for the better, knowing i can stick to it because it’s not completely rigid and set in stone and it consists of food stuffs that i like to eat so it’s not a chore at meal times. I have been plugging away at the running, speedwork – Wedenesday, easy run – Friday and long run – Sunday with weights on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. I have races booked in for 30th September Saffron Walden 10k, 7th October Manuden 10k and on the 17th November the Men’s Health Survival Of The Fittest in London. I think after the November 10k i want to spend winter trying to run further and build towards a half marathon. Looking to buy the runners world big book of marathons and half marathon training.


As ever comments can be left by clicking on the post title or the speech bubble, thanks.

Still trying to improve my running

It has been bit of a poor weeks running again. I had a 5 mile run last Friday in 52 minutes and a 7 mile run on the Sunday in 1h 16m. The times are well down on my usual of about 48m for 10kOne reason is my new 7 mile route has some very big long hills mostly at the start that are really knocking the energy out of me and also my diet tweaks have had an effect as well. Before i went out for a run with the club last night i had an extra slice of honey on toast as an added carb boost. It certainly did the trick because i felt pretty good when i started running and got round 6.7 miles fairly comfortably! The Saffron Walden 10k is only a couple of weeks away so i may go back to my slightly easier 10k route in the run up to this event. The diet alteration also seems to be having the desired effect with a .9% body fat reduction this week. I would like to keep this level of loss up, about 1% per week. As ever you’re all welcome to leave comments and advice, thanks.


Fun and Creative Fitness Challenge

As people are well aware there are loads of sites offering help and advice on diet, nutrition and training. I came across this site it aims to turn your calorie counting, diet and fitness goals into a game where you can level up as you reach your outlined bench marks. Challenges are quite simple such as giving up a food type for example, as you reach certain point levels you then reward yourself with maybe a cheat food or buy yourself something new or whatever you want your reward to be! They also have an iphone app at

So keeping things fresh and interesting what would your fun and creative fitness or diet challenge be? I tend to find this quite hard and stick to the same old “get out the door go for a run”. Leave me a reply with your ideas. have been in touch and said they would like to offer a gift to the person that leaves the best idea! They have offered this . They will pick the idea they like in about a week and then send this HRM directly to that person!

Running Diet

I’ve been looking at changing my eating habits, not that it’s really unhealthy but just that it’s not entirely helping my fitness. I’ve been running three times a week since March and although i have lost a few pounds along the way not one ounce of body fat has come off. I tend to be quite carb sensitive in that anything that contains too much sugar (even something as simple as baked beans) soon has me dozing off. I think it’s this issue with carbs that hasn’t seen me lose any body fat. Although i try and eat healthily any sugars or excessive carbs in my diet are creating an insulin response which in turn is resulting in alot of those carbs being stored as body fat. So i am planning on moving to a higher protein diet with less carbs with most carbs being consumed post training only. I have followed this type of diet last year with good results, my body fat going from 28% down to 17%. I am currently back at 28% body fat and expect to lose about 1% per week. The diet will look something like the following.

Wake up: Protein shake with added wheatbran

Breakfast: cheese omelette with mayo , banana

Mid Morning: protein shake with added wheatbran

Lunch: Tuna mayo (no bread)

Mid Afternoon: Egg mayo, protein shake with added wheatbran

Dinner: Chicken with spring greens

Cals: 2500

Carbs: 58g

Protein: 256g

Fat: 138g

Fibre: 36g