Running Triathlon

Running, Triathlon & Race walking information. Cutting edge ideas & insights from a very experienced & highly qualified endurance coach.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Measuring Effort in Training & Racing.

Pace Judgment & Relative Perceived Effort (RPE)

In order to achieve the same (even) pace in a workout or race, expect RPE (relative perceived effort) to go up throughout challenging workouts, (see chart below). Instead of trying to judge pace by effort, measure it by cadence & rhythm. Warm up properly, do some longer strides & divide the 1st 400 (if doing track work) into 100m sections & check your pace against your target pace often & early. THE 1ST REPS OR MINUTES SHOULD FEEL ALMOST TOO EASY & SLOW in order to be able to hit the required target pace later on. Develop a keen sense of pace, this will be your biggest ally in racing & massively increase the effectiveness of workouts. Avoid "competing" in the early stages of a workout. Run on feel based on fact - how fast are objects coming up & being passed. Sense pace not through a tachometer (revs/effort), but through a speedometer (actual speed/pace) relative to your preset pace goal. Resist the temptation to show early what is available in the tank. During the 1st & early reps or miles, have a sense that you are running the whole workout's total volume without recovery-this will assist you with setting a strong but conservative and achievable pace throughout the workout. The repetitions/miles that cover the 75-90% range of the total workload are often the poorest/slowest. By focusing on pace feel, form, cadence & a naturally higher RPE during these reps you effectively counter the pace erosion and get the most out of your workout/race on ALL levels. The mental boost achieved through maintaining or even slightly beating your average pace at this stage (75-90% of the race or workout) is a huge confidence builder.


How I Feel Exertion

1 Resting Very slight
2 Talking is easy Slight
3 Talking is easy Moderate
4 You can talk but with more effort Somewhat hard
5 You can talk but with more effort Hard
6 Breathing is challenged/don’t want to talk Hard
7 Breathing is challenged/don’t want to talk Very hard
8 Panting hard/conversation is difficult Very hard
9 Panting hard/conversation is difficult Very, very hard
10 Cannot sustain this intensity Max

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Running Triathlon

Anxious before an important race?

Answer to an athlete before a PR attempt in a half marathon who is expressing some anxiety.

You are in great shape. All we need to do is to get you to race with feel for the day, the course & your fitness. You can aim at a specific time (& will), but key is getting the best out of yourself on whatever the day brings. Not heeding conditions brings a Paula Radcliffe Olympics, what we want is a Deena Drossin Olympics - i.e. clever racing. Experience is a funny thing - either one absorbs it & uses it effectively in ensuing events, or one is tense & oblivious to the lessons that are available in every run & race & tends to make the same mistakes over & over again.

Allow the wisdom of years of training & hours of racing to come from within you & guide you. The great difference between knowledge & knowing is that in the former you work to gain it & must figure out how to apply it. In the latter you have it within (you feel it) & know completely that you (will) do the right thing when the time comes - i.e. the 3 Trusts:

1. Trust of Guidance, Mentor or Coach
2. Trust of your Training
3. Trust of Self

Allow the race to unfold from you. Let go of any need to frantically reach for performance, rather commit to being fully present & ensure that all that you have available is brought to bear on race day.

Best wishes


Please Note I will soon be moving my blog to my website at - this will be more efficient & make it easier for athletes to access. Thank you

Happy Training & Racing

Friday, March 10, 2006


The Whole Picture
What are all the factors you should consider if you truly wish to perform at your best?

For non-professional endurance athletes to enjoy a balanced life AND to achieve success in their sport is a major undertaking in logistics and time management. For most runners running is not their whole life. Yet each of us aspires to find that holy grail that will see us running as we had always hoped we would. Finding efficient ways to improve without just adding miles, is a challenge.

A runner's physiology is not the only factor that needs attention.

In my coaching life I acknowledged the importance of the mental side. I could only be effective in this regard when I studied sport psychology. I received professional support from sport psychologists as I prepared runners for the Olympic Games. In my mind this aspect became pivotal in performance. This is why I wrote a now successful book on the subject. Magical Running , A Unique Path to Running Fulfillment .

And still there was more than just training physically and mentally. Unlike other skills, running is not cognitively learned, but developed. We learn to swim, we learn to ride a bike, but running comes naturally after walking. Despite my formal training in biomechanics, I did nothing about the style anomalies of each individual runner I worked with— I was wrong! I learned drills and applications from sprint, hurdles and walking coaches that brought about almost miraculous transformations in my distance running charges. Suddenly national records and titles were in reach for athletes that I coached; from walking events, 10 000m and the marathon, all the way down to 800 and 1500 meters on the track.

Nowadays I apply The Running Curriculum to all the athletes I work with that run:

The Physiology of Running I & II
Running Biomechanics I & II
The Running Mind I, II & III

Running Physiology I involves optimizing the genetic ability each runner is born with. There's some truth to the fact that if you wish to run faster, you need to go back and re-choose your parents! But there is still much you can do by working with your various limitations. For example, by knowing that you are a heavier, bigger runner you can emphasize shorter events; work on your strengths (power), as well as on your weaknesses (carry as little weight as possible). Also know the limitations of your physiology. Larger runners need to pay careful attention to staying cool in longer hot races. Runners that struggle on the climbs, despite doing the same training as their stronger counter parts should add some specific (weight training) and functional (hill repeats) strength activities to their training regimens.

Physiology II is an easier part to work with. Train correctly. Discover what works for you. Learn everything you can about training and apply what you discover.

Biomechanics I , As in Physiology I, we are all born with certain traits. Some of us have high arches that provide less natural shock absorption; others have hyper-mobile feet with low arches that provide sufficient shock absorption, but insufficient support. You can strengthen certain muscles, loosen others and gain expert advice on the choice of footwear and even consider orthotics. Work with what you have.

Biomechanics II. Our individual histories as athletes have led to successes and misfortunes that have shaped our mechanics. Injuries left unattended might have led to shorter muscles or weaker muscles—imbalances lead to adaptations and long-term problems. Such issues often only arise with increased training demands and/or age.

Massage, stretching, physical therapy and specific drills are all tools that can help to redress imbalances and help us to return to our natural abilities. We tend to only consider these options when it is too late and we have already lost form, performance or have become injured. Prevention is better than cure. Runners might baulk at coming to activities that might expose them as being weak in some area - rhythm and coordination drill sessions being one such area. However once they have attended such sessions, they never leave, experiencing great results after very short periods of application. Having your body in alignment, balanced and strong improves your efficiency, performance and extends your career/running habit immensely.

The Running Mind I. This part of mental skills involves the conscious mind and the thoughts and ideas we have concerning training and racing. How do you judge yourself? “I'm too slow. I'm fat. I'm useless in the hills.” Constant negative internal dialogue can become a self-fulfilling prophecy and ruin your performance. You are not your thoughts. Make sure that you have clear goals; focus on what you want and how to get there—avoid dwelling on your misfortunes and inadequacies. Consciously create strategies and self-talk that support your efforts.

The Running Mind II. This is the emotional mind. We can either allow emotions to disrupt the running experience or make it highly enjoyable. Whether it's getting to a race late, cursing the lines outside the toilets/porta loos, or allowing your ego to carry you off to a suicidal fast start; stop for a moment, take a breath and choose an attitude that will ultimately lead to a successful running experience. Be aware of your emotions and how they impact your running experience. Take responsibility for your running enjoyment and success.

The Running Mind III. This encompasses running as a spiritual experience. Those of us who pay to run, as opposed to the elites who are paid to run, often run for far nobler reasons like being self-actualized, even if we don't quite call it that. When we started running it was to experience a sense of achievement—to be successful and to enjoy it. If this is lost one needs to do what it takes to regain that sense of self-respect and satisfaction that we have all experienced at some time.

Ultimately we run because we choose to run. Ensure that the experience is always, always worth the effort and remember only you have the power to make each bout of training both effective and fulfilling.

Be willing to go to school again with your sport and you will be rewarded with a broader more lasting experience.

For more information on running go to

Running Triathlon

How do we develop such strong negative opinions about our running that they alter our perceptions of what we believe we can and cannot do? These attitudes come about as a result of some occurrence or series of occurrences in our running history and we end up seeing them as facts—the so-called truth about our ability.

This does not only happen for the worse—events often happily conspire to bring about a change of mindset that positively influences our running beliefs about ourselves. The trick is to purposefully create these powerful positive beliefs and nurture them. We should recognize self-defeating beliefs and eliminate them by replacing them with ones that bring out the best in us.

How should you cope with negative situations? Seek to understand why you see it as a problem. In understanding, the situation becomes an opportunity for growth. Be patient with yourself and be at peace with the “problem”. Have a rational conversation with yourself, or even better, discuss it with a skilled objective friend and decide on a course of action—commit to that course and proceed to make your own magic.

If you ran a race and the only feedback you had was from how you felt and the effort you were laying down – no mile markers, no knowledge of the exact distance of the race, no competitors to measure yourself against, no posted results, no external evaluation tools at all – how would that be? Would you not know you had given it your all and that that was good enough? You experienced your effort and concentration each step of the way, all the while knowing you were giving it your best shot. You can only be satisfied and happy after such an effort. This is what I mean by letting go. Let go of the arbitrary false evaluations of performance and yourself as a runner and measure yourself truly only by how much of yourself you gave on the day. Then there will be more joy, more satisfaction, more smiles, more fulfillment and many more winners out there.

Developing a self-serving relationship with your running and how you perceive it, requires that you become aware of certain ideas. It is truly irrelevant whether you achieve your targets or not – it is only relevant that you have them in place. You cannot at age 50 have the same targets as you had at age 23. In reality your level of fitness can never be a determinant of who you are and the purpose of your running. If this is the case then perhaps you are unconscious of the true value and joy that running holds.

I meet many runners every year who are miserable, but they started out on this journey called running with the sole (and very valid) purpose of having fun by seeking opportunities for personal fulfillment! They complain of growing slower, of injuries, of lack of time to train, of expensive race entries and equipment, of poor organization – the list is long. Instead of running being a dream come true for them, it has become a nightmare.

The key to self-acceptance and subsequently remaining in love with your running lies in discovering how and why you are asleep/unaware in the first place. To see your running once again as a gift to yourself, you need to wake up out of this running nightmare in which you might have imprisoned yourself. We all need to realize constantly that running is a medium through which we experience joy and self-realization. Be clear before each run that whether you are an elite runner or simply out there as a weekend warrior that the purpose of the entire exercise is to enjoy yourself.

All too often I see runners who refuse to face the fact that perhaps they DO NOT WANT SOLUTIONS for their running ailments, what they require is a little relief. They know that a real cure will be painful. It will require a total replacement of their old mindset, with a new mindset and actions. It requires that they move out of their comfort zone. It will demand discipline, sacrifice and a learning of new habits.

Great results come when we focus on what needs to be done and when we enjoy doing it. When we are overly aware of what’s wrong and how bad it is that it is wrong, we miss the point—we see only the problem and the whole point of running—to have fun and enjoy success, is lost. Rediscover what the point of running is for you.

On Monday I begin an 11-week training program for the 2006 Bolder Boulder Road Race in the Bolder area. For more information see my website or contact us through the site: