Train Faster Run Faster: Progressive Tempo Runs

train fast run fast

train fast run fastAlso known as threshold runs, lactate threshold runs, and a few other terms as well, the temp run has been an important part of the distance runners’ training program for a long time now. Traditionally, tempo runs have been done under the lactate threshold, but the modern day runner is using progressive tempo runs to train the body to be able to handle what happens in race conditions, when you tip over that point at which the body is able to clear the lactic acid out of the blood quickly.

Lactate threshold pace is the pace where you are just in control of everything, and to go any faster would mean you would have to slow down through exhaustion pretty soon. You’re puffing hard, but not out of control, the amount of lactic acid in your blood is just about to tip over to that point where your body can’t clear lactic acid from the body quickly enough, so you have to slow down so that oxygen can be used to convert lactic acid back to pyruvic acid at the cellular level which will then be converted to water and carbon dioxide and expelled from the body as breath, sweat and urine. Your muscles are feeling it, but can keep going powerfully, but if you go any faster, you’ve had it.  This is how you feel when you’re running at threshold pace.

You can train at or around threshold pace using interval training – running at threshold or just above for up to 6 mins, then dropping your pace dramatically for a few minutes of recovery. You can also utilise the tempo run, a longer run where you stay just under the threshold pace.

The long standing advice on temp runs is to be sure not to cross the lactate threshold, or else you won’t be training the right energy system. Theoretically, this is true-once you cross the lactate threshold, you aren’t providing the right stress to increase your lactate threshold as much as you would if you stayed under the threshold.

However, most of us are not training to increase our lactate threshold. Most of us are training to run faster. To perform at our best in a certain goal race. By performing some of your training at race pace when you are already buggered (that’s the layman’s term for fatigued),  you’re providing the right stress to your body to improve your race performance. You’re also working on some good mental toughening up as well!

If you’re racing a 5k for example, if you haven’t gone out too hard, you’ll feel ok up to about the 3km mark. Around about that point, your body will have to begin to deal with high levels of lactic acid accumulation, and if you haven’t trained your body to do this, it’s not going to do it very efficiently.

To train under similar conditions to those you’ll experience in a race, progressive tempo runs are very important. You need to train your body to deal with lactic acid after a relatively long sustained hard effort. Run most of your run, be it anything from 5k -15km (or more, depending on your experience) under your lactate threshold. It should feel hard, but not too hard. You should know you’re working, but feel like you could keep going. In the final 10-20% of your run, lift your effort and cross over the lactate threshold, bringing it home just like you would in a race. This will give your body practice at dealing with higher levels of lactic acid at a time when you are already fatigued. It’s simple. Train faster run faster.

Start out gradually with progressive tempo runs. Include maybe 1km at the end of a tempo run when you lift your effort a bit. Don’t do more than once a week. Play around with it a bit, and see your PB drop!



Image: rajcreationzs




Running For Healthy Skin

Start running for healthy skin

Start running for healthy skinHow is it that some women have glowing, healthy, smooth looking skin?

Many of them can thank their parents for blessing them with good genes. But even if you weren’t so lucky, there’s a few things you can do to improve the look of your skin – without spending a fortune.


You can run, and you can exfoliate.


Running for healthy skin

Running helps nourish skin cells by improving circulation and increasing blood flow to them. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the skin cells, and it helps carry away waste products. By increasing blood flow, you’re giving your cells a flush out.

Running can also decrease stress, which will help to ease conditions exacerbated by stress, such as acne and eczema. The reduction in stress will help to smooth out some of those tension lines and worried looks on your face as well!


Exfoliate for healthy skin

Exfoliating helps to remove the outer layer of dead skin cells. It reveals to the world the brighter skin beneath this layer of dead cells. And you don’t need to buy expensive lotions and potions for exfoliating to be effective.

Here’s a simple recipe you can throw together from ingredients in your own kitchen.


Olive Oil Exfoliant

3 tablespoons rock salt
1.5 tablespoons olive oil

Mix together, then rub into your body in circular motion. Best done in the bath or shower as it can get quite messy.

You can try adding herbs to the mixture such as sage or basil.

For a face scrub, you should use salt that has been partially ground.


Picture: Stuart Miles:




Boost Your Metabolism to Lose Weight

Boost your metabolism to lose weight

Boost your metabolism to lose weightDo you only have to look at a piece of cake to gain a kilo, or are you, like my annoyingly slim husband, one of those people who’s furnace is on overdrive day and night?

Why is it that one person can eat pretty much anything and everything, whilst others continually struggle with their weight?

There are heaps of reason why some people struggle with attaining and maintaining their ideal weight, not the least of which might be that their “ideal weight” is unrealistic, but that’s a topic for another day.

Today, we’ll stick to metabolism, and look at how you can boost your metabolism to lose weight.


 What is metabolism?

“Metabolism” refers to the chemical reactions going on inside your body, all day, every day,  which are necessary to maintain life. A pretty amazing network of hormones and enzymes convert food to fuel so that  your body can use it to survive. Your metabolism affects how efficiently your body burns that fuel.


 Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

Your BMR is the energy your body needs to keep it functioning if you sat around on the couch all day and did nothing. This energy is taken into your body in the form of food, with the amount of energy being measured in calories. Metabolic reactions occur at different rates in everybody. Your rate of metabolism usually corresponds to the speed with which you gain or lose weight. Therefore, you should boost your metabolism to lose weight.


 What Factors Influence Your Basal Metabolic Rate?

To some extent you can blame (or thank) your parents for the speed at which your metabolism functions. Age also plays a role in metabolism, with activity in our cells slowly down as we age. And if you’re a woman, your metabolism can be 10 t 15 times slower than the men you know.


How to manipulate your BMR

We can manipulate our BMR and change the rate at which we burn fuel. Here are a few simple tips.



Muscle burns calories more quickly than fat does, so body weight composition is a big factor in determining your overall metabolic rate. Seems a bit unfair, but if you have a lower body fat percentage, then you will have a higher percentage of muscle mass, ergo, a faster metabolic rate, helping you to maintain that low body fat percentage.

You can influence your body composition by combining strength training with cardio training. The cardio training will help you to burn fat, and the strength training will help you to build muscle – increasing your lean muscle mass.


Muscle Building

If you’re a runner, include some hills in your training, which will help to strengthen your legs, whilst improving your cardiovascular fitness and burning body fat. As with any new exercise, work up to hill running gradually. If you’re not up to running hills yet, walking quickly up hills will also build strength.

Most of us have heard that muscles burn more calories than fat does, but just how many more? 73 calories per kg per day, that’s how many more. So if, in the unlikely case, you have 5kgs of fat on your right buttock, and 5kgs of muscle on the left, your left buttock would burn 375 more calories per day than your right.   The more muscle you build, the higher your resting metabolic rate will be, the more calories you will burn.  A strength workout can elevate your basal metabolic rate for as long as 15 hours post workout!

You can estimate your metabolic rate here

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Your daily calorie consumption to maintain your body weight should be about 1.2 times your basal metabolic rate, if you had a very sedentary lifestyle. That is, you do no exercise, other than for such things as making your dinner, surfing the net and walking to your car.

If you are trying to lose weight, and you are sedentary, your daily calorie intake should be less then your basal metabolic rate times 1.2. If you’re aiming to lose ½ kg per week, your calorie deficit should be 500 cals per day, every day (either by taking in fewer calories, or expending more.



What we eat, and when we eat it comes into play when it comes to metabolic rate. Skipping meals during the day in the hope of losing weight is likely to cause you to gain weight. The body goes into starvation mode when it is deprived of energy, slowing down the metabolic process, storing energy for a rainy day (and don’t we know about raining days in Sydney at the moment?) Long term, consistent calorie restriction and meal skipping is therefore counter productive if weight loss is your goal.  It’s important to eat regular meals so that the metabolism stays high.

If you are looking at calorie restriction for weight loss, that’s fine, but make sure you eat regular meals and have at least one day a week where you allow yourself to eat about 10-20% more calories, to prevent your metabolism shutting down.


Hormonal Balance

Many hormones play a role in metabolism, including Thyroid hormones, insulin and cortisol. Elevated thyroid hormone levels, for example, will be associated with an increase in metabolic rate, weight loss, and increased appetite, whilst an abnormally low level of thyroid hormones can be associated with weight gain.  Post-natal and peri-menopausal women can experience lower levels of thyroid hormone. If you feel your metabolic rate isn’t what it used to be, see your health care provider to have a thorough check up.


Go to  Part Two of Metabolism, whre we look at  how to burn an extra 160 calories a day and lose weight. 

Watermelon Fruit Popsicles

Champagne Watermelon Popsicles

watermelon popsicles






A fantastic, healthy refreshing snack for kids (and adults). Great for a hot summer day’s after school snack.

Thanks to Maria Trussell for sending me through this one this one.

You can replace the watermelon puree with honeydew melon or cantaloupe puree. Use any fresh organic fruit you have on hand.

3 cups watermelon puree (about 1/4 to 1/2 a SEEDLESS watermelon)
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup chopped fresh strawberries
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
1 peach or nectarine, diced small
handful fresh cherries, pitted and chopped

Cut the watermelon into chunks and then puree it in a blender until smooth. Set aside.

Set out about 1 dozen popsicle molds (amount needed will vary depending on size of molds). Fill each one with the chopped fresh fruit. Then pour in the watermelon puree until each mold is full to the top. Place a popsicle stick into each one. Place into your freezer and freeze for about 6 to 8 hours.

When ready to serve, run the popsicle molds under warm water for a few seconds and then pull each one out. Enjoy!


Running Training: Year Round Plan

get results running training workshop

get results running training workshopThe best way to optimise your training is to take a long term approach. Plan your training over a 12 – 24 month period, with each training cycle building on the last. Each cycle should focus on improving a particular aspect of your fitness, whilst keeping the overall goal in mind. Be it  marathon training, half marathon training or training for the shorter 5k and 10k events, your training will be more effective if you take time to make a long term training plan.

Each race distance requires your training to focus on a specific set of physiological demands. There is significant overlap between these demands across the race distances, but focusing on a specific distance in different phases of your training cycle will  help to improve your times over your preferred distance.


Marathon Training
(and Half Marathon training, depending on your pace)

For distances of more than a couple of hours duration, the training focus should be on:

  • developing your aerobic threshold (the fastest pace you can run by staying aerobic)
  • improving muscular endurance (how long you can keep your legs turning over before they turn to mush)
  • fuel efficiency (how well your body burns fat instead of carbs while running at your goal pace)


5k and 10k Training

For the shorter distances, training should be focused on

  • increasing your VO2 max which will improve your speed endurance, ie your ability to maintain a faster pace for the entire race
  • running efficiency – your body’s ability to recruit a larger number of muscle fibres each stride, without increasing effort


Why should a marathoner train like a 5k’er (and vice versa)?

In short, to get better at any distance running event, you need to train all your energy systems. This will help you not only physiologically, but will also freshen you up mentally.

If you are a marathoner, and pass on training for shorter distances for a year or two, you pass on improving your VO2 max and running efficiency. Eventually, this will limit your ability to improve your times over the longer distances somewhere down the track.

Conversly, if you prefer the shorter distances you should still set aside on or two periods a year when you build your mileage, which will help your body to clear lactic acid, and ultimately to run faster over the shorter distances.


How do you plan a long term training cycle?

A yearly training cycle for the 5k/10k, for a reasonably experienced runner,  should look something like this:

  • 2-3 months to build mileage
  • 2-3 months when you increase your speed workouts and include 5k or 10k specific workouts
  • 3-4 months of 5k or 10k racing
  • 2-3 weeks of recovery and maintenance
  • 2 months of increasing your mileage
  • 1-2 months of 5k or 10k racing or speedwork training

A yearly training cycle for the half marathon should look something like this:

  • approx 12 weeks of building mileage and specific half marathon training, including longer efforts in interval training, and racing (depending on your experience)
  • 4 weeks recovery period
  • 8-12 weeks intense speed work and 5k and 10k racing
  • 12-16 weeks of half marathon training, leading up to your goal race for the year
  • 4 weeks recovery
  • 8-12 weeks of base training or speed training (whichever you need most)

A long term marathon training cycle should look something like: 

  • approx 2 months recovery if you have run a marathon or half marathon – general fitness, some running, hill sprints, resistance training, having some fun to freshen up
  • 6-10 week speed training phase. Race a few 5ks. Shorter speed oriented workouts, and slowly begin to build mileage
  • 12 weeks half marathon training, including half marathon racing for experienced runners, 10k racing for less experienced runners
  • 4-6 weeks speed training. Race a few 5k ro 10k races.
  • 16-20 weeks marathon specific training


Mixing up your training, and including recovery periods will help you to get heaps of enjoyment out of your running, by preventing burnout and over training, and by seeing your times improve year on year.


Need some help?

Get to the Get Results Training Workshop.

get results running training workshop

Thursday November 28th 7pm-9:30pm

$27, or join one of our term IV running or circuit training groups,

and receive FREE entry to the workshop.








Woman misses half marathon turn and wins marathon

wrong turn in half marathon

wrong turn in half marathon

The first female home in the Run for Heroes Marathon in Amherstburg, Ont. last Sunday, was actually entered in the Half Marathon, but missed the turn for the half  and ended up running the full 42 kms. And winning!

Meredith Fitzmaurice was using the race as a training run for her first marathon in Detroit later this year. Around about the 1 hour 30 mark, she started wondering where the finish line was. With a sneaking suspicion she’d missed the half marathon turn, she asked one of the bike officials on the course, who confirmed her mistake.

She then thought she’d just run 20 miles and call it a day, but when she reached a turnaround point and could see people coming towards her, she could count only nine men ahead of her, and no women. Unbelievably, she was the leading woman.

“So as I’m running I’m wondering if my race is going to count, I’m thinking about my friend who is at the finish line probably wondering where I am since I have the keys to the car.”

After confirming with an official that her entry and time would be counted in the marathon, and would be considered for a qualifying time in the Boston Marathon,  she decided to give it a crack.

Have you ever taken a “wrong turn” in life and ended up in a great place?

See the full story in the Montreal Gazette


Image courtesy of stoonn/

Why Do You Run?

uplifted 3d figure stuart miles resizedA while ago now I wrote a post entitle “The Value of Fun Runs”. It gave a summary of some of the fun runs around Sydney, their entry fee, and cost per km and a short summary of the good bits and not so good bits of each run.

Impossible to quantify in dollar terms, of course, is the overall sense of well being running in an event such as yesterday’s “Sydney Running Festival” (or the Bridge Run as the festival is more commonly referred to).

What price do you put on being able to run across Sydney’s iconic harbour bridge on a fabulous sunny morning-not too hot(unless you’re finishing the marathon at midday), sun sparkling on the water, surrounded by friends, or at least like minded people. It’s mornings like this that serve to remind you of why you run. Simply put, it makes you feel good.


From our youngest runner, to our oldest, from our novices to our experienced runners, all felt uplifted after the race. I’m not trying to turn a simple run across the Harbour Bridge into some kind of religious experience, but running in a run such as this certainly is something to remember.


Some of the comments I heard from our runners after the race will give you a sense of what I’m talking about.


  •  “I wasn’t going to stop running because I really wanted to know I could do it” from 6 year old Saxon
  • “That’s the furthest I’ve run. Ever!” 11 year old Luca
  • Dav and I heard there was 100m to go and we just bolted. You should have seen how fast our legs were goingD” 9 year old Wilson
  • “I’m wearing my number like a badge of honour” one of our nearly 50 year old first time fun runners.
  • “It was a spectacular day to be running across the bridge this morning” Bernice – another of our soon to be 50 year old runners
  • “That was awesome” – just some random person I heard in the recovery village
  • “Just going to brag about my 29 year old” from a friend of mine texting me about her son’s first marathon.
  • “Yay me” from Tara, after her first half marathon


No need for me to say any more, really, but I’d love to hear your comments on why you run.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /