The party season is over and it’s time to set those all important goals for the new year. Like so many people, in the past I have set high standards in the January and failed to maintain them throughout the year. More recently I have focused on making ‘SMART’ goals and applying the ‘FITT’ principles. I’ve found that by setting such goals, its more likely for me to stick to a training or nutrition plan for longer periods of time. ‘SMART’ goals stand for:
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating, results-based).
- Achievable (agreed, attainable).
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced).
- Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
The achievable and realistic components are are often very subjective and influenced by barriers such as motivation, injury, work and family commitments or unforeseen circumstances. It can be helpful to write your barriers down and have an understanding of what they could be. ‘FITT’ principles stand for:
- Frequency (how often per week).
- Intensity (effort level, heart rate zone).
- Type (cardio, ressistance).
- Time (minutes per training session).
Lets look at one of my goals I have set for 2017. At the end of June I will compete in my first ever open water, standard distance triathlon on Arran; 1500m swim, 37km bike and 10km run. By applying the SMART goals and FITT principles I can break the goal down and question if it is appropriate for me. Its important to note that I can cycle and run at a relatively high level and lets just say my swimming requires a little practice! I have already identified that this event is suitable however what I need to establish is how long I want to complete it in.
||SHORT TERM : 2 MONTHS
||MEDIUM TERM: 4 MONTHS
||lONG TERM: 6 MONTHS
||Freestyle swimming 1000m in under 25 minutes.
||Freestyle swimming 1200m in under 30 minutes.
||Freestyle swimming 1500m in under 40 minutes.
||Cycling 20km, similar elevation at an average speed of 20kph.
||Cycling 30km, similar elevation at an average speed of 22kph.
||Cycling 37km, similar elevation at an average speed of 24kph.
||Running 5km after cycling in under 25mins (5min/km)
||Running 8km after cycling in under 40mins
||Running 10km after cycling in under 50mins
An example of applying the FITT principle to the short term goals of 2 months would look like:
|FITT – 2MTHS
||2x per week
||Moderate to hard intensity.
|1x focus on technique/speed.
||2x per week
||Moderate to hard intensity.
|Short intense spin sessions in the form of HITT.
Continuous hill route.
||3x per week
||Moderate to hard intensity.
||2x per week
||Strength training. High resistance x low repetitions (60-75% 1RM x reps 8-12)
||1x upper body.
1x lower body.
Goals should be reviewed and altered as and when required in order to maintain motivation. When Fit + Fabulous clients goals are established early on in Personal Training sessions, they are continually reviewed and discussed along with potential barriers to maximise individual potential.
Want to learn to run a 10km, build strength in your upper body or lose inches off the hips; why not apply the SMART goals and FITT principals to help you make those all important life goals for 2017 achievable?
I’m training for my first ultra-marathon, 33 miles of scenic Perthshire Scotland in the Glen Ogle 33 on the 5th November. It’s mostly cycle paths, forest paths and some B roads and a great race to pop your ultra-cherry….so I’ve been told!
I was out running 18 miles on Wednesday and followed that with another 10 miles yesterday and I was thinking about what knowledge I have built along the way that I would offer others who are thinking about taking on this distance. Here goes my top tips:
- Run on the terrain that you are running on race day. I have tried to train on a mixture of road and trail with plenty hills as this reflects Glen Ogle 33. It helps build confidence and prepares the feet, ankles and legs for the big day. My shorter runs I have picked hilly road routes and the longer ones used local trails such as Mugdock, West Highland Way and Kilpatrick Hills.
- Knowledge is power! Talk to as many, more experienced runners as you can and take from them what you will. Runners love to talk running so listen to the guys that have experience in this field; it’s a unique talent. I found that most ultra-runners have tried various foods, hydration methods, clothing and footwear and it takes time to establish what works as it is very personal. What works for one doesn’t always work for another however you need to be open minded and give tings a try early in your training.
- Having a good training plan is vital to achieving the distance and time that you want to do on the day. 33 miles is not much more than a marathon so you can train similarly to that of 26 miles or back to back training. I chose back to back training as this suited my lifestyle. I love spreadsheets so I planned a training plan over 12 weeks where I mapped an ascending pyramid of miles up to 50 miles per week with my long run on a Wednesday followed by half the distance on the Thursday and two shorter runs throughout the week. I was already running an average of 30 miles per week before I started training.
- Don’t neglect strength training, stretching and your roller. Training for an ultra is about being on your feet for as much as possible and getting used to long distances however you are more likely to pick up injuries along the way. Squats, lunges, dead lifts and core has been centre of my strength training once a week. Additionally, after the shorter runs I have been stretching my hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes and hip flexors as much as possible and using my roller – it helps and doesn’t actually take too long to do!
- Practice eating and hydrating on your long runs and start early so you get the right fit for you. The perk, for me, running for hours is eating. I have tried rice pudding, bananas, dried fruit, cereal bars, sandwiches, specific running powders and gels over the weeks and think I’ve settled for bananas, rice pudding and gels. Additionally, electrolytes in my water are vital to keep your mineral balance correct like sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphate and magnesium. How much water? That has so many variable factors and is unique to the individual. I like to weigh myself before and after my long runs to check my consumption has been adequate.
- Practice wearing your race day kit and make sure you have the right shoes for the terrain. There is nothing worse than having blisters from poor fitted shoes or clothes that rub; think of that over 33 miles! Weather can be unpredictable in Scotland so preparing for all seasons is vital, especially for a race in November. I’m wearing road shoes that have ran 300 miles; they still have adequate support and a better match than trail shoes for the terrain. Is inevitable that blisters and sweat sores will happen for most runners but try and minimise this happening early on by making sure you are wearing the right gear.
- Have a picture of the elevation and course and split it into sections. On the wall in my study is a picture of the elevation, sectioned into 5 mile splits with an average speed for each split. It will allow me to visualise the route on the day and make it more manageable mentally. I always go to fast at the start of my races and by doing this it has helped me pace better and prevent burn out. If I don’t stick to plan A I have a plan B so I don’t get disheartened if I don’t achieve my goal.
- Read The Chimp Paradox: Steve Peters. A more experienced ultra-runner told me to read this book when I told him I was doing my first ultra. I have read the book before and it helped me in the past with a very difficult time in my family life. It has helped again! When I have struggled on the long training runs and wanted to cut them short I was able to box my chimp (I named him Charles) and carry on; when I didn’t want to get up early to run and wanted to stay in bed, I boxed my chimp! There are some very useful methods of coping in this book for all walks of life.
- Enjoy it!
1. Forget the glass slippers. I’m a sucker for exercise clothing! Generally, the clothing and footwear are very comfortable to wear due to the technical ability of the garment whether it be the flexibility, lightness or breath-ability. If there is one thing I suggest taking time over to purchase it’s footwear. I have 6 pairs of trainers in my wardrobe at the moment and all completely warranted (much to my husband’s disgust). I run on road, trail, cross country and track; all of which have different footwear and I have other pairs for training within the gym and studio environment.
For me, the correct footwear for running is key to help avoid injury and discomfort. There are many high street specific sport shops in Glasgow such as Achillies Heel, Sweat Shop and Run4It that will help you get the correct shoe to match your running style. Don’t scrimp on footwear, invest in your feet!
2. No ‘I’ in TEAM or maybe there is! When I first started running I did it on my own, two nights a week. After a few months I fatigued and I started to find reasons not to go out. I found a beginners running group at my local sports center and started running with them once a week to try and give me motivation. Guess what? It worked! Before long I needed to be pushed further so joined a local Running Club, Garscube Harriers and I have never looked back.
Running Clubs are an excellent way to get fit and meet like-minded people, they are substantially cheaper than a gym membership too. Having the company when training is an excellent way to stay motivated. There are running clubs for all abilities out there.
3. Get race day ready. Technology in all sports is moving at a fierce rate – Oh my, I sound old! GPS has added a new dimension for runners by helping to create an online social network, opening up new routes and helping runners set higher PBs. There are many applications that you can download onto your phone or watches that will keep you motivated by tracking your progress. I love going out a run and uploading my run from my Garmin onto Strava (there are other brands available). It enables me see how consistent I have run over the duration of time, highlight my achievements and set new targets.
The best motivation for me is booking a race in the diary, something to train for. There are a host of different races throughout the year across Scotland whether it be road, cross country, track, trail, hill or multi-sport races such as duathlons. Websites such as entrycentral.com and Scottishrunningguide.com make finding one easier.
4. Eat, drink, run, repeat. I know many runners who run on an empty stomach but let me tell you there are reasons why you need food and water before you run. Running is an aerobic activity and uses the food we eat to convert to energy. Energy is released into the body by the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and proteins to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The best sources of food to fuel the muscles in the presence of oxygen during aerobic exercise are carbohydrates and fats. Before a run I always stay hydrated by sipping water regularly and eat a snack an hour or more before a run. Carbohydrates feature high in my diet and even more so if I am training for a longer distance.
Dietary advice is something Fit + Fabulous really focuses on for all their clients. If you have any queries on what to eat to get the best from your running why not Contact Us?
5. Limber up and ease the throttle. When I started running and before I trained as a Personal Trainer I was not consistent with warming up and cooling down. Since doing it religiously it has made a huge difference to my performance, recovery and flexibility. Your warm up consists of a couple of components over 5 – 10 minutes so let’s break it down:
• Mobility – focus on releasing synovial fluid around the joints that are specific to running thus enabling smooth and easy joint movements and avoiding injury. This only takes 1-2 minutes to do. Try doing some shoulder shrugs, torso twists, side bends, abduct the hip joints and flex the knees before your run.
• Pulse-raising – warm up and increase blood flow to the working muscles and slowly elevate your heart rate. It is important to slowly elevate the intensity over 5 minutes or so until you are feeling moderately active and warm enough to do some pre-stretches. Your first kilometer should be your slowest one!
• Pre-stretches – should only be done after a warm up when the muscles are warm and held for very short periods of time such as 6-10 seconds if static or small range of movements if dynamic. This only takes 1-2 minutes of the warm up.
It is important to consider factors which affect a warm up such as environment, time of day, intensity of the session and your own level of ability. For example, if it is cold you may need a longer pulse raiser or if the session is going to be very demanding more time should be spent on the preparation to optimise the body’s readiness.
What about the cool down? It is just as important and should be done over about 10 – 15 minutes consisting of lowering the pulse and post-stretches. Again similar factors will affect the cool down but it can be summarised as:
• Pulse-lowering – involves tapering the run to lower your heart rate, reduce blood pooling and remove the metabolic waste products of the exercise (lactic acid, noradrenalin and carbon dioxide) from the muscle. It helps reduce delayed onset muscle soreness in the muscles the next day and improves recovery.
• Post-stretches – aims to maintain or increase the flexibility of the range of movement within the specific joints. The range of joint movement is critical to good performance. Maintenance (to maintain range of movement) stretches should be held for 15 seconds and developmental (to improve range of movement) should be done over 30 seconds, progressively deepening the stretch. I would strongly suggest stretching the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and Illiotibial band after a run to help avoid injury and improve performance.
I hope you find my top tips helpful. Any queries, please get in touch to find out more. Happy running!
An uncomfortable subject for most men and some women, however I’ve been asked about this a few times recently so here are some facts……
In 1996, when Uta Pippig won the Boston marathon, for the third time, she had blood pouring down her leg as she crossed the finish line and it wasn’t a scraped knee. Her performance clearly wasn’t adversely affected by her period as she won it in 2:27:12.
Your menstrual cycle can be broken down into two halves. The first half is called the follicular phase, when you have your period and build up to ovulation on average day 14. The second half, called the luteal phase when the lining of the womb builds up preparing for pregnancy.
For most women, their best training time is in the follicular phase, when oestrogen levels start low and gradually rise. Body temperature is lower and glycogen is broken down quickly, to release energy. This is a good time for shorter, high-intensity workouts and races.
I consider myself very lucky and have never experienced any adverse effects from my menstrual cycle and can’t say I’ve ever noticed any changes to my performance whether it be endurance or strength training. I will be looking out for signs though knowing more about the impact it can have.