Tag Archives: running

How To Push Harder | 6 keys to run hard

Want to know how to push harder?

How Hard Can You Push When No One Is Watching?

6 Keys To Pushing Harder

  1. Fear & Inexperience
  2. Go Out Too Hard
  3. Prepare Your Body
  4. Train The Mind
  5. Remove Decisions
  6. Have A Big Reason

1. Fear And Inexperience

Do you remember your first big event?

I remember my first marathon.

I was so scared of the distance I trained so hard. Pushing my training beyond what I thought I could do. Hoping it would get me through race day.

We might go faster in future races. Often that first race is the one we push ourselves further than our fitness level dictates

2. Go Out Too Hard


Go out  too hard and hold it.

You may crash and burn, or you may surprise yourself and hold on.

Even if you can’t hold on, you might still be faster.

“Athletes may often perform at perceived workloads which may be below their physiological capabilities” – more on this soon in point 4

3. Prepare Your Body


When your body is able to handle more you can push it further.

You are always in the mix and an exceptional performance will be so much higher.

Raising the floor on your fitness brings you closer to those high level, exceptional performances.

Knowing your body is prepared gives you the confidence to keep pushing.

4. Train The Mind


Fatigue is rarely true muscle failure. It is strongly controlled by the mind,

Train the mind by practicing pushing yourself a bit out of your comfort zone. Repeat this and keep progressing.

Practice, repetition and progression.

This will release the restrictions your mind puts on you as learn you can do more.

5. Remove Decisions


Take away decision points.

Brain power uses a lot of energy.

“Fatigue increases the perception of future effort during decision making”

Have a support team or system set up that reduces your decision points. Don’t give yourself choices. Have the gear at checkpoints sorted before you get there.

6. Have A Big Reason


A big motivator can take you so much further.

What are you pushing for?

Letting a team down is bigger than just yourself.

Raise money for a charity. Doing it to mark an occasion, an accomplishment such as turning around your fitness. Even just proving to yourself you can do more.


I chase a feeling.

Pushing Your Limits

I chase a feeling.

This is not for every day. Both your mind and body need recovery to absorb the stress and rebuild stronger.

Training should be designed to build you up.

When you really want to push your limits there are ways to get better.

The next step is to create a goal to see how hard we can push ourselves

Keep on running

Tail Runner Harness: First Run For CC The Border Collie

Running with the Tail Runner harness and bungee lead.

Took CC our border collie out for her first run with the Tail Runner dog harness and bungee lead. I think she loved it. With some time, training and conditioning she may well become a pretty decent running partner

I’d been waiting for CC to be old enough to start her running.

Did CC Run?

She already loves her long walks. Covering 8-10km per day usually and still has a lot of energy. Adding in some running may help keep her happy.

Looks like she will take to the harness and bungee lead quite well. Turns out, she was better with direction and following commands that I though she would be.

CC has been used to walking with a lead and correction chain. I thought there may be some issues with the harness not providing the same level of feedback if she tried to go off course. Running beside me instead. I was pleasantly surprised.

There will definitely be more runs into the future.

Tail Runner

The lead and harness is impressive. Definitely a purchase that I’m happy with. Check them out at Tail Runner

Running With A Dog Is Good Lesson

Dogs don’t care about pace or running statistics. It is about enjoyment. Maybe we can learn something from that.

Why Run?

Trail Dog

One of my favourite videos is Salomon Running’s Trail Dog. It may have brought a tear or two out of me…


Next Level Marathon Training: Earn the right to train hard

How do you reach your next level marathon training?

For me personally most of my run training hasn’t changed much since these restrictions have come in. Mainly because almost all my training is based from home and the runs are by myself. One of the issues with these changing in life is the lack of goals. I have always had a running goal going. Usually some race in the future that I’m aiming for. At the moment we don’t know when any of that’s going back.

Times when I’ve had problems in races and training is when I have neglected consistency.

Running Background

Now training is lots of easy runs, strength work, some tempo runs, the occasional MAF test and long runs. All while getting my Achilles back up to scratch. I still need to be careful not to aggravate the Achilles tendon.

I have a goal. It is to earn the next cycle of training.

Training is now going to go out to 8 or 9 day blocks. I need to be able to complete that training block without any issues cropping up. Without causing injury, without my Achilles flaring up or getting sick. I need to be able to handle and absorb the training.

The structure is to have 2 cycles of 9 days of very similar training. These will be my hard weeks. The first cycle is a step up in training, but the second should be a small extension. After which I will take an easier 9 day cycle which will focus on recovery and testing. This training should build me up, not tear me down.

Running Goals

This provides close goals. They are only 9 and 18 days ahead, so are achievable. The goals aren’t extreme. It’s to get through the training without it breaking me down. This forces me to look at recovery and consistency in training. I’ve got to do the daily workouts. I’ve got to be disciplined in the intensity. Take it easy when I should. Push it hard when I should.

Earn The Right

Earn the right to increase your training next week.

This week you have to be able to absorb, handle and adapt to the training you’re doing. If you pay attention you already know whether you are or not. If training leaves you stuffed for the next 3 or 4 days and you have to miss some training sessions you haven’t earned the right to train at that level. So do what it takes to build yourself up earn the right to train hard people and running.

Marathon Base Training : Training during restrictions

I’m gonna take you through my current marathon base training.

There’ll be a few tips on how you can apply it to your own program.

What Is Marathon Base Training?

Most people think it’s lots of slow training. Keeping down the intensity and pushing up the volume.  Lots of long slow distance work. To a point for some applications that might be the case. For me the point of base training is a bit different.

The Point Of Base Training

The point of base training is to develop a well conditioned athletes capable of optimally responding to the demands of competition specific training.

Previous post here: Base Training For Runners

Training To Train

Sounds complex. Basically it’s training to train.

Training to train is getting fit enough to handle the really hard training that makes up your competition specific work. The better your base the harder you can train further down the track. The more gains you can make as you get closer to racing.

Marathon Base Training Outline

I set up my training in four to five day blocks. At the moment given my circumstances, doing a lot of extra work hours. In this new world of corona virus my work is flat-out. Extra night shifts and extra hours. I haven’t really got a pattern. So only looking 4 to 5 days ahead seems to be the best approach at the moment.

In those 4 to 5 day training blocks I’m trying to include:

  • a long run
  • a tempo run
  • strength (running specific)
  • strength (other stuff)
  • easy runs

How these sessions fit into those days will vary with each block. It’s about the best fit each time. I’m gonna try and separate the tempo and the long run with 1 or 2 days in between. I could start with the long run. It could be the second session, or be the 4th. Whatever is the best fit in amongst the rest of life.

Keeping  tabs on recovery and if needed I’ll stick in an extra easy day or recovery day between the training blocks. It’s a work in progress. These times are uncertain at the moment. At the moment I’m still able to run outside. That may change in the not-too-distant future. Isolation or lock down may get stronger. So this plan though allows me to adapt to the ever changing constraints forced upon us. It also is a good setup for other situations as well.

Tempo Run

The tempo run is just my little bit of introduction into something a bit faster or a little bit harder. I’m going to keep it within a heart rate zone between 75 to 87%. Not too concerned about exactly where I sit in that range. Just going to run out on feel. Keep it at a steady consistent effort. An introduction to get my legs and Achilles tendon used to something a little bit faster. Pushing it any quicker than that will leave my Achilles tendon at risk. Faster running at this stage still leads to a bit of a flare-up. The basic approach with these tempo runs is to start out at 20 minutes and each time around will add about five minutes.

MAF Test

About every 2 to 3 weeks I’m going to replace that tempo run with a MAF test. It is the Phil Maffetone test where he’s talking about maximal aerobic function. For me being 42 years old 180 minus 42 that gives me a heart rate of 138bpm. The point for me is to run 8km at exactly that heart rate.

As my training progresses I should be able to maintain that exact same heart rate. How much I slow down from the start to the end of the run should reduce while the average speed of the run should improve.

I’m not following the Meffetone training program. I’m not limiting my training to below that heart rate. As such it’s a good reference point that I can go back over the years for my own training. It will give me a good guide to where my basic fitness sits.

Long Run

Probably my favorite run is the long run.

The aim is to get in about two hours and maintain a heart rate between 65 to 75% of heart rate max. Pacing I don’t really care about. I’m hoping to keep an even pace from the start all the way to the end nothing much more complicated than that.

About every second long run I aim to increase the time out by 10 minutes. On alternative long runs I’ll stick to two hours. Giving the pattern of:

2:00, 2:10, 2:00, 2:20, 2:00, 2:30, 2:00…

Hopefully I can progress safely with this format. As long as the Achilles isn’t flaring up I should be able to.

Strength Training For Marathon Base

For strength training I’m going to do one key session. This is the session that I have will make sure I include every training block. It’s my run specific strength training. Currently  concentrating on the calves, hamstrings and glutes. Predominantly leg work with core strength stability training. This is the primary strength training session. I will always include this. Skipping an easy run if needed.

A second strength session is listed as other. This covers everything that isn’t directly run specific. It can be just some fun stuff, upper body work such as  overhead presses, pull-ups, more core work. Basically anything in order to stay fit for the rest of life and work.

Easy Runs

Easy runs are dotted in between the mix of training. Ideally I’ll be running between 60 and 90 minutes, but I know how time pressures are at the moment. I’ll be happy with anything between 30 and 90 minutes.

Before a 6 a.m. work start I’ll be getting up at 4 a.m. giving about 30 minutes to fit training in. The pace of these easy runs is purely based on intensity.  I’m going to keep the heart rate between 55 and 75% of heart right max.  These easy runs will feel excruciatingly slow. They are so slow that I’ve turned off the pace data fields on my Garmin. I don’t need to know my pace. This helps with the intensity discipline that will allow me to get the ongoing training done. This is why including a semi-regular MAF test means I’m able to keep track of improvements around that first aerobic threshold. Improvement here I can indicate I’m setting up a good base.

Marathon Base Training Summary

The plan is pretty simple:

4-5 day training block to include:

  • long run
  • tempo run
  • strength training
  • easy runs

This simplicity makes it easy to adapt according to different roster cycles and other commitments of life while I’m still able to run outside.

It’s quite doable nothing overly hard in the training. What becomes hard is being able to maintain that consistency over a long period of time.

Keep on running.

First Week Of Run Training At Cape Woolamai

My first week of run training went well. The first day of training started with an interval session:

3 x 4 minutes hard with a 2 minutes recovery jog.

Performed over undulating terrain this was my first real run. It was a struggle. So much slower than hoped. I’ve got a long way to go.

Finally back into my first week of training. I’ll tell you it feels good to be back running. I’ve lost a lot of fitness. If I’m really honest it’s not just since the melanoma that I’ve had time off. It’s more than two months with the injury before that. I hadn’t really put together a good training week for over four months.

Cape Woolamai

Bonus for the first week of running we went down on holiday to Cape Woolamai on Phillip Island. It’s a beautiful location with amazing beaches, nature park, wallabies and views that are fantastic. I highly recommend spending some time down here. Click here for even more details.

First Week Of Running Principles

Truly back at square one. I’m keeping easy at super easy. This means feeling way too slow. Sometimes faster running feels easier. If I was running with someone I would definitely be able to hold a conversation with no trouble.

The training format is intervals followed by three days easy running. Then back again for intervals and another three days of easy running.

Smoke Haze

Getting a lot of the smoke haze coming in from the bush fires. With a bit of hindsight I probably shouldn’t have run. Starting a couple of those runs just as the sun was coming up I didn’t appreciate how bad that smoke was. Not until I got towards the end and had enough sunlight.

For the first week those easy days were all about 60 minutes. Limited to just covering some distance to get used to running again. No worry about pace. In fact I set up my watch so that all it showed was time. No pace, no heart rate, nothing about effort or even distance. That way I wouldn’t have to worry about how fit I used to be versus how fit I am now.

Running Intervals

For the intervals. Starting with three by four minutes with two minutes recovery. That recovery is just a super easy jog. Those four minutes on are definitely not easy. The aim here is to run at a pace that I can maintain for all intervals right to the end. I went out too hard and couldn’t maintain that pace anyway.

The first week of run training went well. It’s so good to be back running.

The beauty of Cape Woolamai comes out better in video than it does in word…

Before The First Step Of Running: Returning After Time Off

They say a journey begins with the first step. But it begins before that. Getting back to running after injury, melanoma, skin graft and rehab I had to rebuild back up to that first step.

This 2020 journey begins with a less-than-ideal 2019. The main event was finding out I had Melanoma skin cancer: click for details

No Running

After injury, melanoma, a skin graft, time off work and rehab I was happy with moving a little closer to normality. The skin graft was my main limitation.

Weeks of bed rest. Weeks of no running.

Surprisingly I didn’t miss running all that much but I was getting frustrated at not being able to move like I used to be able to. More details here: 5 Weeks After Melanoma Surgery

First Run

Eventually I was able to go my first run.

It was for ten minutes and it felt awkward.

The idea of running felt great. I was happy to be out there again. But I wasn’t smooth. My body had forgotten what it was meant to do.

Bit by bit I built my running back up. The skin graft still provided limitations. I had to get creative to improve my running. Finding ways to prepare my legs without risking the healing.

Not Just Running

Those creative ways included:

  • step ups with a high knee lift
  • calf raise with a deep drop
  • directional hopping

These exercises appear in the video above. They are simple, but sometimes a visual makes it easier to understand.

The hopping was actually harder than it should have been. It’s amazing how much of the skills and coordination you lose after being bed down for four weeks.

The aim was to get back to where running felt good. Over the weeks I eventually got there. Running feels good again. That’s step one. There are many more steps to take.

Running Blog To Running Vlog

Adding a running vlog onto my running blog.

Running is a big part of my life. I have taken running seriously for over 20 years. I’m not an elite. Far from it. Very much an amateur. Yet running helps me feel alive.

Why A Running Vlog?

Last year for my birthday my birthday my family got me a GoPro. They’ve said it has been one of the best presents they’ve ever given me. It’s had so much use.

I’ve been filming family videos. The kids in their sports. Putting together videos for my son’s footy team. I’ve loved making these videos.

Naturally this has moved into how I document my running. Venturing into the world of vlogging.

I hope to make training processes clearer. Bring you into how I fit running in among family, life and shift work. I will be able to capture more thoughts as they happen.

I’ll be featuring the videos on my Running Alive Youtube Channel (here).

What About The Blog?

I’ll be continuing the blog in conjunction with the vlog. They will support each other. Some topics are better shown through video. Others are better for writing.

The change in approach will allow for a more regular and consistent blog than I have achieved so far.

This running vlog is a new concept for myself. Let me know if anything is helpful or if there’s anything you want to see.

To follow along subscribe here!

Running And Skin Checks

In the harsh sun of Australia, running and skin checks should go hand in hand. Interrupting my running to have a skin check. I was actually a little bit nervous. 

Take Good Advice

I finally listened to my wife and got a skin check. Make sure everything’s all right. Check all the moles and make sure that none are cancerous

This check should have been performed earlier. Living in Australia and spending plenty of time in the sun means I’m at risk.

The doctor managed to find some moles which were a bit concerning. He wasn’t particularly worried about them. But they still met the criteria to be removed. So that’s what I did.

I have to admit I wasn’t thinking much it until I arrived. There is something about having a piece cut out of your body. Even though it’s superficial. It still makes you think.

Skin Checks And Skin Cancer

Head on over to the Skin Cancer page of the Cancer Council for more detailed information.

Running And Stitches

Good news is after the moles were removed, the doctor was confident they won’t be a problem. Of course they are sent off to be properly tested. To get that 100% piece of mind.

The process has put a gap in my running. The cut has needed 4 stitches on my lower leg. Running puts a strain on those stitches. So a few days off running and a gentle return back in as the cut heals.

In some way it’s a little frustrating. My rebuild back from a toe injury is delayed. Importantly I prefer to put health before fitness. It comes back to knowing your why.

Running Vlog

Jump on over to my vlog on this at youtube about running and skin checks.

For further running updates and tips don’t forget to subscribe

Less Running and More Other Stuff: New Goals

Chasing new goals leads me to less running in my new training plan.

There’s nothing like a forced lay off due to injury to have you re-evaluate your goals and training.

A foot injury ended my training program for the Surf Coast Century this year. Over the last few weeks I’ve worked through the first 4 of 5 priorities for an injured runner. I’m now ready for step 5:

New Goals

To guide our training we need goals.

Mine are:

  1. Injury proof my running
  2. Reach a fitness level to run a sub-3 hour marathon

You notice there isn’t a deadline listed in those goals.

Pushing a hard deadline on a sub- 3 hour marathon will likely risk my first goal of staying injury proof. Therefore I am open to however long is needed. It could be 6 months, or it could take over a year. I don’t know yet.

Less Running

I’m seriously cutting back on my run volume. Long runs and high volume will be a quick way back to injury for me.

Guidelines for run volume include:

  1. I have to be able to maintain good form for each and every run
  2. The volume must be well within my capabilities

It is the running equivalent of stopping 2-3 repetitions short on a weight lifting set. Adaptation still occurs with until grinding yourself down into fatigue.

More Other Stuff

Less running leaves some extra time.

With this extra time I am dedicating it other training modaltities:

  1. Strength training
  2. Prehabilitation / Rehabilitation
  3. Mobility
  4. Recovery

These will now be written into my training plan. Previously I have been performing these on an ad hoc basic. It didn’t work.

More Fun

Less running and more other stuff means more variety. I am looking forward training that doesn’t entail mile after mile after mile.

I am expecting this change in approach will reduce the feeling of grinding day after day. It reminds of how I used to train for triathlons. You could partially recover from one discipline while hitting another hard.

I expect my training to be quite effective. More importantly it should be a lot of fun.

Is your training fun?

Injured Runner Priorities: 5 Steps To Get Back To Running

What are the priorities for the injured runner? What is the best way back from injury?

Most injured runners want to get back to full training immediately. We also often try to continue through injury. Often to our own detriment.

Instead of hoping for the best and making the injury worse, let’s work through the priorities for the injured runner.

  1. Prevent further injury
  2. Diagnose
  3. Recover
  4. Rebuild
  5. New training

These are the priorities I follow

1. Prevent further injury

It’s simple…

Don’t make the injury worse.

Stop running. Rest. Do the basics of sports first aid.

2. Diagnose

Dr Google is not your best friend. Do what it takes to find out what your injury is. Use a doctor you trust, a physiotherapist or other practitioner.

An injury needs to be properly assessed. Different injuries have many cross over of symptoms, but require different treatment.

Working from an accurate diagnosis will give you a better chance of success.

3. Recover

Help your body repair.

You have to recover before you can rebuild.

The approach is different depending on your injury. This priority is likely to include:

  • Resting the injured area
  • Protecting the area through support or taping
  • Introducing gentle movement
  • Physical manipulation (massage)

4. Rebuild

This is the rehabilitation side.

Do what it takes to get yourself back to being able to training.

Strengthen the area. Condition the body to prevent what led to the injury in the first place.

Ensure you have good mobility.

Introduce running well within in your physical limits.

5. New Training

Finally what we’ve been waiting for.

Back to full training, but with a new style. This new style has to take into account your recent injury. We likely have to modify are previous training so we don’t have a recurrence.

Runner’s often go back to their previous training plan. The plan that led to injury in the first place. We need to change this. To progress our running we need to train in a way to minimise injury.

If you need help to change then get it. Get feedback from knowledgeable runners. Speak with a coach, physiotherapist or someone who understand running and human movement.

There are many ways to achieve your running goals. I have some further tips on injury proofing your running here.

Time Frames Of Injury

How should we spend in each section?

This will vary so much depending on the injury you have sustained.

A simple muscle strain may need the following time in each phase:

  1. Prevent further injury: 12 hours
  2. Diagnose: 30 minutes
  3. Recover: 2 days
  4. Rebuild: 3 days
  5. New training: 1 week

Whereas a broken leg would need so much longer:

  1. Prevent further injury: 3 days
  2. Diagnose: 1 day
  3. Recover: 10 weeks
  4. Rebuild: 8 weeks
  5. New training: 1 week

Do you have a different approach to injuries?