I love receiving messages from new or established runners who are keen to learn about particular aspects of training, nutrition, preparation & injury prevention. It upsets me that I don't always have the time to give lengthy responses so I have decided to put together a piece which answers the most popular questions. I hope it is helpful!
Thanks : )
What are your top 3 tips to help someone achieve their goal?
Be in touch with what your mind & body need in order to function at their best. Whether it be to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night, eat a balanced diet, exercise before going to work or tuning into your favourite podcast in the car, make sure this becomes a part of your routine.
Be open minded. Make a plan to achieve your goal and seek out people who will be able to help you along the way. Acknowledge that the path you take may end up looking different to the one you had initially envisaged. Take on any challenges that pop up along the way and embrace the opportunity to learn from them – resilience is built during these times.
Be patient and trust the process. In Marathon running and many other aspects of life, consistency is the key. Set up sustainable routines, listen to your body and focus on what you can do nowto be stronger tomorrow. With a sturdy foundation, improvements will steadily come and they’ll be very rewarding.
What do you think about when you run?
At the beginning of any run I am generally very tuned into my body and have a heightened awareness of any fatigue, stiff spots or areas of my body that are feeling good. As I start to warm up and my stride starts to feel smoother I soak up the external environment. I particularly love paying attention to my surrounds when the sun is shining and the sky is blue – I try to focus on the path when the storm clouds are out and it’s blowing a gale! About ten minutes in to most runs I tend to drift into day-dream mode (unless I’m running in a group and chatting). I think about all sorts of things ranging from what I’d like to eat when I get home, physio work, upcoming presentations, our Rundies business, topical issues and planning out the day or the week ahead. When running starts to hurt, I break up the distance by focusing on upcoming landmarks. On race day I motivate myself to keep going by thinking of the people who have supported me and reminding myself of the reasons why I run.
What is your training plan when running a marathon/half marathon?
Adam Didyk has been my coach since 2008 and he sets all of my running training based on my goals / target races. My training for a half Marathon is similar to my Marathon training, however the overall weekly volume and length of my Sunday long run is less. My key sessions when preparing for a Marathon are my Sunday long run (up to 2.5 hours with or without a race pace effort in the final half hour), a long tempo run of up to 1 hour and some form of fartlek or interval / repetition session of up to 8-15 kilometres (excluding warm up and cool down). The long runs help to develop my aerobic system (heart and lung capacity) and the shorter efforts challenge my leg speed.
How often do you set goals?
I tend to review my long term (5-10 year) goals annually but set mid-term goals every 3-6 months. During the week I fill out my daily training journal, which gives me the opportunity to reflect on my progress and training / races. The Believe journal, which I use, also features a box to record a weekly “focus” or goal and prompts me to think about various aspects of life / training throughout the chapters.
What are your favourite shoes for running?
I have about 4-5 favourite Asics models that I rotate between. For recovery jogs I currently choose either the Gel Pursue 5 or the GT-3000 models for their support and extra cushioning. When I have a steady or tempo style run I opt for either the Dynaflyte 3, Noosa FF or the Gel DS Trainer 24 as these are a little lighter and help me to feel light on my feet. Long sessions in shoes with less cushion / support help to prepare me for the long races in my light race flats. I perform most of my interval, repetition and fartlek sessions in the Tartherzeal 6 – this is the model I choose for road races. In saying that, if I’m feeling a bit sore or vulnerable to injury, I go for the slightly more supportive options described earlier.
Do you feel running provides mental benefits? If so, how?
Yes. The discipline, motivation and resilience that is developed through running assists me in other areas of life. The process of working towards goals, the satisfaction attained along the way and the social side of running also provides great mental benefits.
What is the biggest motivation for you when running?
My motivation is to reach my potential and to represent my country, squad (Team Tempo) and support team to the best of my ability. I love the endorphin rush that results from accomplishing a challenging run or session. I am also motivated by the general health benefits of exercise and the opportunities sport provides to meet inspiring people, travel & explore the outdoors.
Running has helped me to realise that with the right training formula, hard work, a healthy body and a smart approach, your wildest dreams can become the reality.
Have you ever been set back by an injury and if so, how did you overcome it?
Yes. I overcame it by setting myself a goal for each day i.e. in rehabilitation or cross training rather than getting frustrated that I wasn’t able to run. I had a very supportive team around me who helped me to focus on the process and celebrate the small wins along the way i.e. getting my heart rate higher than the day beforehand.
What should a runner who is embarking on their first Marathon preparation keep in mind?
To complete a Marathon, training consistency is very important. The avoidance of injury, illness or burnout through smart training progressions are key. I would also recommend practising fuelling i.e. taking gels and drinking in training for gut familiarisation.
Where in the world is your favourite place to run?
I love being able to run out of my front door and be on the River Torrens Linear Park trail within a couple of minutes. One of my favourite runs is along this path to Henley Beach and the Grange Jetty. I also enjoy running through Belair National Park (the hills hurt but the scenery is very special). St. Moritz in Switzerland is another favourite of mine. The lake reflections, lush greenery, trails and mountain peaks in every direction you look are mind-blowing.
How do you prepare mentally for a half/full marathon?
By ticking off the physical training and the one percenters in my preparation. Achieving the physical training for a full or half marathon takes a lot of motivation and discipline. There are plenty of opportunities to practice mental strategies and find ways to push through challenging sessions. I also prepare by racing over shorter distances i.e. 10km and half Marathon in the lead up to my main race - the competitive drive that comes with racing ensures that I test my mental limits.
Is nutrition an important component to your running?
Yes. Nutrition is an integral part of my training and preparation. Before training and during a Marathon it is important to have adequate energy on board to maximise performance. Post-training fuelling is equally as important to kick start the recovery process. See more on this topic in a recent Q&A with my Sports Dietician Olivia Warnes. (Refuel Magazine).