GUEST BLOG: Ray Boyd – The Marathon part 2

In my last post (HERE), I spoke about getting your head right, getting yourself into the game and making a commitment to the marathon. This commitment needs to be both a physical and mental one. Mental in terms of getting through the training each and every day and physically in relation to actually doing the training.

For me, the training is actually tougher than the marathon distance itself but this is the nature of the distance. While you are training, there is no adrenalin, there are no crowds cheering you on, there is just you and maybe the odd training partner. You need to get used to waking up tired and going to bed knackered and you need to get used to the idea that in many cases you will be walking a fine line between injury and adulation.

I said in my last post “You can’t cheat a marathon, it’s too far. Sure you may get to the 10km on pure grit or the 20km on your basic training but not too long after this a fridge will appear on your back and you will move into survival mode.”  So what do you do then to get, not only to the line in great shape, but over the line. Well, basically you run. Not swim, not cycle but run and there is no substitute for this. Tony Benson, a level 5 coach and the ATFCA National Consultant,  is quoted in the latest Modern Athlete and Coach (Vol 52 No.4) as saying “ Never in my 17 years association of coaching in excess of a 1000 triathletes did easy or hard swimming or cycling contribute measurably to running improvement unless the athlete’s running was at such a low level any fitness training would help” and if you are at the latter then a running a marathon is not where you need to be at the moment.

A sensible  program should build from one week to the next, slowly building strength and endurance while allowing the body to adapt to what you are asking it to do – The Milo Principle.

Remember to listen to your body, ensure that you meet your dietary requirements and seek treatment for injuries that you may sustain from a professional who can prevent a small problem from becoming a big one. I do hope however, that you do not require such assistance and providing you build up slowly and steadily you should be OK. Secondary to this your medical team ( Physio, sports doctor Masseurs etc) should be people you trust, so if they tell you to stop training they mean it and more importantly you are going to listen to them.

So the training, below are some times and pace guides for various types of runs

             Target                                     Pace                            Easy                Tempo            Easy/Steady                          


  • 2hr 10m Marathon            (3.04/km)                     (3.20)               (2.50/3.00)       (3.00/3.10)
  • 2hr 13m26s Marathon       (3.09/km)                   (6.00)               (4.50/5.05)       (5.10/5.30)
  • 2hr 15m Marathon            (3.12/km)                     (3.30/4.00)       (2.55/3.05)       (3.05/3.15)
  • 2hr 20m Marathon            (3.19/km)                     (3.30/4.00)       (3.00/3.10)       (3.10/3.20)
  • 2.5hr Marathon                 (3.33/km)                     (3.40/4.20)       (3.15/3.25)       (3.20/3.35)
  • 3hr Marathon                    (4.15/km)                     (4.20/5.00)       (3.50/4.00)       (4.00/4.15)
  • 3.5hr Marathon                 (4.58/km)                     (5.00/5.30)       (4.25/4.35)       (4.40/4.55)
  • 4hr Marathon                    (5.41/km)                     (5.35/6.15)       (5.05/5.15)       (5.15/5.30)
  • 4.5hr Marathon                 (6.24/km)                     (6.15/6.50)       (5.40/5.50)       (5.50/6.10)
  • 5hr Marathon                    (7.06/km)                     (6.50/7.30)       (6.10/6.25)       (6.30/6.45)


These are important for a reality check. For instance if you can’t run, comfortably, 3:10 km pace during a tempo run over 16km good luck trying to run a 2hr20min marathon. I’m not saying that its not possible, providing you have done the training but it’s not going to be a walk in the park.

These are some of the types of running that you will need to do during your , ideally 8 month preparation:

Recovery Runs/jog are very short and very slow runs. Can vary from 10 – 60 minutes but the pace is slower than your usual easy runs. For example an easy run for a 3hr marathon runner may be anywhere between 4.20/5m per km while a recovery run is 5m/5.30/km

Easy Runs are what most of us do most of the time. It’s a comfortable run and you should not finish the run feeling destroyed.(15 minutes – 90 minutes)

Steady State runs are aimed at building stamina but are done slower than your tempo and faster than your easy run. For the technically minded it is a run that sits just below the point of threshold running. (the point at which your body can cope with lactate production)

Tempo Runs: The tempo run is an important element of a distance runner’s program. Tempo pace is often described as “comfortably hard”. The most precise way to find your most efficient tempo pace is to run on a treadmill with ever-increasing speed and have a sample of blood taken from your earlobe every two minutes until a dramatic rise in lactate is determined. But!! if you don’t have a masochistic streak or an exercise physiologist as a best friend, a simpler method, and the one most athletes use, is by perceived effort, with breathing, heart rate and race times as backup. This may sound unscientific, but most elite runners use perceived effort because it allows them to adjust pace according to how they feel on a given day. It also accommodates fitness gains; over time, you’ll be running faster (which of course is the point), but the effort will feel the same.

A tempo run can also be referred to as a lactate-threshold (LT), or threshold run. Tempo running improves a crucial physiological variable for running success: our metabolic fitness. Most runners train their cardiovascular system to deliver oxygen to the muscles but they don’t train their bodies to use that oxygen once it arrives. Tempo runs do just that by teaching the body to use oxygen for metabolism more efficiently. That is by increasing your lactate-threshold (LT), or the point at which your body fatigues at a certain pace.

During tempo runs, lactate and hydrogen ions- by-products of metabolism -are released into the muscles. The ions make the muscles acidic, eventually leading to fatigue. (source: Ed Eyestone 10/24/2007,  Runners World) The better trained you become, the higher you can push your “threshold”, meaning your muscles become better at using these by-products. The result is less-acidic muscles (that is, muscles that haven’t reached their new “threshold”), so they keep on contracting, letting you run farther and faster

Long runs build your strength. These are a critical element of your running diet. They build endurance, they teach you to spend time on your feet. As a general guide for some reason many marathoners have settled on the magic figure being a 30km run. This distance will vary depending on where you are with your program. It will essentially be anywhere from 20km  – 36km)


And finally there are some rules. I have worked hard to live by these when preparing for a marathon. Every now and then I broke them and when I did , especially No. 3 and 5 things always went wrong.

  1. Don’t try and make up for runs that you’ve missed, if you missed it is gone.
  2. Time your runs; get an idea of what pace you are running, this is crucial if you want to become a great runner.
  3. Don’t skip the long runs or the tempos these are crucial for the marathon runner.
  4. Train hard on the hard days and easy on the easy days.
  5. If you are sick then make an educated decision not an emotional one. One days rest is better than missing three weeks because you buried yourself.
  6. Aim for consistency when you’re running sessions.

Remember, it’s a serious commitment. Below is a section of my training in the lead up to the Sydney Olympic Trial. As I said, for this event I was the fitness I had ever been in the lead up to a marathon. It was the last marathon I have run

Last weeks leading up to Sydney.

8 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
AM 2.50hr 35min 35min 35min 35min 35min Mona Session
    5on/1offx5   5×1000/500    
PM 35min 70min Hills Fartlek 90min Tempo Fartlek 70min 35min
9 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
AM 3hr 35min 35min 35min 35min 35min Tempo
    Zamia Loop   5×1000/500   10on/50ffx2
PM 35min 70min Hills Fartlek 90min Tempo Fartlek 70min 35min
10 26 27 28 29 30 31 1
AM 2.45hr 35min 35min 35min 35min 35min Mona Session
    5on/1off   5×1000/500    
PM 35min 70min Hills Fartlek 90min Tempo Fartlek 70min 35min

GUEST BLOG: Ray Boyd – The Marathon Part 1

The marathon is one of life’s challenges and anyone who has ever committed to running one would agree with this. Emil Zatopek, one of the all-time world’s great athletes, is quoted as saying “If you want to win a race run 100m but if you want to experience a life time run a marathon”

As a marathon runner myself, I know the level of commitment that is required to get to the line and believe me when I say, getting to the starting line can, at times, be harder than the race itself.

There is something satisfying about finishing a marathon and getting that medal around your neck as you cross the line. I believe it’s not just because you finished the marathon that you feel a sense of achievement but that you embarked on a journey that got you to the start line in the first place. The marathon brings with it, a level of comradery that is hard to find in non-endurance sports. This comes about because each runner knows what it took them to get to the line and they can appreciate other athlete’s personal journeys.

These blogs are aimed at getting you to think about what you are doing and then not only get you to the line, but over the line. I believe, and know, that through a sensible but dedicated approach everyone can complete a marathon. The flip side to this however, is that if you don’t use a sensible and dedicated approach I know you won’t get to the line, let alone over the line.

You can’t cheat a marathon, it’s too far. Sure you may get to the 10km on pure grit or the 20km on your basic training but not too long after this a fridge will appear on your back and you will move into survival mode. Further to this you can’t stuff up a marathon and then go and run one the next week, it’s too hard on your body. Seriously, the assault you put your body through from the training and the race requires a period of recovery.

Essentially the marathon runners program is about working on building a strong endurance base that will give them the strength to handle the marathon distance comfortably. The build-up should always be gradual and peak at about five (5) weeks out from race day before the volume comes down in order to allow an athlete time to recover ready for assault on the distance. Initially runners may find that they feel tired when they start to build, this will pass. Use common sense though and listen to your body. Strength comes over time and towards the end of your preparation, you will notice that you are able to sustain a solid tempo for a longer period as well as run continual repetitions at a target pace.

Before we get to this however, it is important to make the commitment to the distance. Too many people treat the distance with contempt and it is this that becomes their undoing. Make no mistake, every person can complete a marathon and every person could achieve their target times PROVIDED that they do the work that is required to achieve the desired goal. This event is built around the story of the first person to run one dying, and while, historically, we know that this has been little exaggerated, people do die running marathons. I’ve run 8 and I’ve had three shockers. My first marathon in 1995 on the Gold Coast, a 2:18:22, I went into it believing that my endurance base would put me in a great position to be competitive and guess what it did, right up until 25km at which point my lack of preparation became evident in terms of both tempo and long runs, my competitive nature and doggedness kept the pace up despite the significant tempo drop however the discomfort was incredible. In 1998, in Beijing, I ran a 2:30:56 and in an effort to make an Australian team I went in under prepared and limped home after 30km. Then, in 2000, at the Sydney Olympic Trial I ran a disappointing 2:22:56 to be the 3rd qualifying Australian over the line and missed a place in the team behind Lee Troop, Rod DeHighden and Mona who had already made the team. What was different about this race was it was the fittest I had ever been in my life yet I bombed. Why…? Put simply, because it’s the marathon and nothing is a given in the marathon.

I have written programs for runners who have smashed their goal time because they were diligent and committed to the cause, Glen Quartermain is a prime example. I have also written programs for runners who simply didn’t put the time in and didn’t achieve their goals. I should say at this point that I have also had athletes who have been diligent and also missed the mark because of injury through no fault of their own, other than the mileage required and the effort required to get to the line took them over the edge. You see, this is the hard bit about marathon training, ask any marathon runner, you have to be prepared to go to bed knackered and wake up tired, regardless of your level of training.

So where do you start?

  1. You set the goal and you select the race
  1. You identify the barriers that may prevent you achieving this goal and you work out how to get around them
    1. The days that you can train
    2. The times that you can train
    3. How long you can train for
    4. Family commitments that may hinder training (Happy wife happy life or visa-versa)
    5. Work commitments. (no point saying you will train at 4pm if you leave work every night at 6pm)
  1. You plan your program
    1. Be flexible with your program, set aside an appropriate time of the day for training
    2. Does it fit in with your other commitments
    3. Is it a time when I feel like training
    4. Do I need to have a variety of times to train on differing days.
  1. You do the time (you commit to the training required)

If you’re serious about tackling a marathon, then you have to be serious about making the commitment. Getting to the starting line and then over the finish line is not a game of lotto, it has nothing to do with chance and everything to do with preparation and work ethic. Just ask Glen Quartermain or even Mona next time you see him.

Ray Boyd

BLOG: Footstrike of the Local Jogger – Marc See (B.Sc Physio)

After coming back from the Calgary International Running Symposium, Ben and I had a lot of ideas running through our heads. One of the prominent ones for me was “how do we compare to the world?” Over the coming weeks I will go through what I have found from analysing “our local jogger.”

There is a lot of research and data out there about how runners move. Kinematic data is all about angles and timing and is one of the easiest forms to collect when filming runners. Last year at the Boston marathon Martyn Shorten, a prominent biomechanics researcher filmed all participants (over 23 000) part way through the race. He recorded foot strike type and heel-toe pitch.

With the running technique workshops we have run almost every 2nd month for the past 2 year,s I thought we’d have a great chance to analyse what we see in our local runners and compare it to what has been found in runners across the globe.


Mind – body disconnect:

We all know our bodies so well, or at least we SHOULD, we’ve known ourselves our entire lives. However most of us are not very good at feeling what we do, how we move or describing a movement we did a second ago. A perfect example of this is the comparison of the Boston footage Martyn collected against the results of footstike data to his online surveys completed by Runner’s World magazine subscribers (over 2 million):


  Boston Footage Survey answers
Heel strike 95.6% 43.1%
Flat foot (midfoot) strike 2.4% 40.9%
Forefoot strike 2% 15%


As you can see there is a large gap between what people think they are doing, what they experience when they run and what ACTUALLY happens upon observation.

One of the reasons Martyn came up for why so many people answered the surveys to say “non-heelstrikers” was that “heel striking is a socially acquired disease that runners are scared to admit to.” Social media and fads have caused us to question heel striking, as such many people want to believe they aren’t doing it, or not let it be known that they are just in case they are ostracised. There is also that body disconnect factor, do people actually have the ability to notice what is going on when their foot and shoe hit the ground? This is one of the advertising strategies minimal shoe companies use – less shoe material makes it easier to FEEL.

Our own data is a little kinder on the “non-heel strikers”

  Jogging (5/10 speed) Sprinting (8/10 speed)
Heel strike 83.33% 77.59%
Midfoot strike 8.62% 11.49%
Forefoot strike 8.05% 10.92%
Average heel-toe pitch 17.43o 13.21o


The jogging or sprinting speed was one where we asked people to run at 5 or 8/10, with 10 being their absolute maximum speed.

The high majority of runners were again, “heel strikers”. However this trend continued into the faster speeds, where we would expect a transition to midfoot and forefoot running to reduce contact time and help enhance speed across the ground. This highlights the motor-learning aspect of running. When people run at a “sprint”, which is up and above their normal, comfortable, regularly practiced jogging speed, they do not know how to alter their stable movement pattern to one which is optimal for the new task. In short, few are taught or practice the skill of running fast and so cannot perform it well.

With greater information, people can make better decisions. That is true right down to the fine detail of how you move. The better information you have from your body about HOW you move, the better equipped you are to change it. Pain, blisters, impact shock, muscle aches, instantaneous muscle tension, burning sensations… these are all different elements of the sensory feedback your body can use to know HOW it is moving… if you can listen.

But if you are still learning that mind-body skill, that is where we come in.

  • Analysis to show you what you REALLY do, not just what you think you do
  • Compare it to normal/healthy/optimal patterns of movement
  • Set up a plan to change any necessary parts of the running pattern
  • Re-train/teach the movement with strength, motor control drills and coaching/feedback
  • Re-assess to track the improvements and check progress towards the goals

So when you can’t trust your own thoughts, Trust the experts.

Marc See (B.Sc Physiotherapy)



BLOG: Andrea Bell’s Level 2 Coaching Course

Athletics Australia Level 2 Coaching Course – Andrea Bell – 18/10/14

Front Runner Logo

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to find myself in a room full of people who love running at all levels when I took part in Perth’s first Level 2 Intermediate Recreational Running Coach course, conducted at WA Athletics Stadium. This is a new course, delivered by Athletics Australia as part of the Recreational Running Coaches framework. The course was written to meet the demand of coaching requirements, as recreational runners are increasing in Australia by the thousands each year, running distances from 5k through to ultra marathons.

The day began with the usual round-the-table introductions. The coach appointed to deliver the course had been sent over from Melbourne by Athletics Australia was Mr. Tim Crosbie. Tim looks after a huge running group in Melbourne called the Crosbie Crew and coaches athletes from beginner to elite, including Sinead Diver who recently ran a debut 2nd place, 2:34 Melbourne marathon! OK, so this guy knows his stuff! At this moment, I do reflect on how lucky I am. First of all I am guided by two of Perth’s best coaches in Raf Baugh and Ben Green, and second I am about to spend a day with one of Melbourne’s top middle/long distance coaches!

During our round table, I mention I currently coach with Raf’s Front Runner team in Perth.  As we move around the table, 4 out of the other 6 participants have experienced technique sessions with Raf and Ben, and some people were from country areas.  Feeling pretty proud at this point J

During the course of the day, we discuss general principals of coaching individuals and groups, through to structuring training programs for Marathon runners. A lot of the information was very familiar, as we apply many of the same principals, sessions, structures as Tim does with his runners in Melbourne. One area we discussed in detail was the different types of runs you will find in a training program, including the Long Run, Fartlek, Tempo, Quality sessions and Easy Runs. We discussed the importance of each run, and how runners tend to get most runs spot on, with the exception of the Easy Run – most runners down fall. The purpose of this run is to absorb the training load you have put through your body over the days prior, to recharge and re-set. All too often we see runners “smashing” their easy runs, because running fast is where it’s at! Great news is, thanks to Steve Monaghetti, we have a new name for the Easy Run… ABSOPRTION RUN!  This makes PLENTY of sense to me, and I am guilty of running my easy runs too fast. Absorption runs from now on, have a totally different meaning and if this crucial programmed run does not serve its purpose, we quite often end up at the physio with over-use injuries.

We then jumped out onto the track at the WA Athletics Centre for a portion of the session. How much fun running on the track, when the place is empty! We went through some very useful technique information, breathing, foot-strike, posture, core strength & arm movement. I did share with the group Ben’s Pringle exercise in order for runners to concentrate on keeping relaxed hands… I think a few will borrow that one! We also spent a good amount of time on hill running technique, which included going out to a hill and running it, and trying different techniques to get a good feel of where power and drive comes from.

The FIVE tips for effective hill running: –

  • Run on the forefoot
  • Lean forward into the hill
  • Keep a low knee lift and shorten stride
  • Use the arms for drive
  • Don’t look up!

One of Tim’s messages throughout the day, was no matter what level of runner, beginner through to elite, there is no reason why 5.5hr marathoner’s cannot complete the same training as 2.5hr marathoners. That is something we do very well within the Front Runner team. Every runner has the opportunity to train and participate no matter what level, or what time/distance they wish to achieve. Individual achievements are equally important; all that is needed is will, desire and determination from each runner.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day and being able to take a sneak peak at Sinead Divers marathon program was a bit cool.

All I can say is LOOK OUT Front Runner SOR crew; your coach is armed and enthused!!!!


See you out there!

Andrea Bell

Level 2 AA, Rec Running

Front Runner Team

Blog: IAAF Oceania Level 3 Coaching Course

IAAF Level 3 Distance Coaching Course – Gold Coast 2014


I have been very fortunate over the past few months to have travelled to Distance running heaven in Eugene, Oregon for the IAAF World Junior Athletics Championships ( as well as visiting Biomechanics central in Calgary, Canada for the international Running and Biomechanics Symposium with Front Runner Physiotherapist Marc See ( A year of focusing on professional development and up skilling concluded with a recent trip to the Gold Coast to partake in the level 3 middle and long distance specific coaching course run by the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations). Already holding a level 3 distance qualification with Athletics Australia, the course was a great opportunity to test my current coaching skills and knowledge relative to other coaches in the Oceania region as well as consolidate and improve on my services in the area of performance coaching.


The course was quite intensive, running for 14 out of 15 days and combining both theory and practical elements. As I have mentioned before, coaching is very much considered a balance of Art vs. Science where the coach must take their knowledge and mold it appropriately to each individual to ensure their athletic potential is maximized. Our two course lecturers, Gregor Gojrzewski (long time coach of prominent Australian Runners Liam Adams and Johnny Rayner) from Melbourne and Lindsay Watson (coach of dual Olympian Youcef Abdi) from Sydney, typified this with a slightly different approach to their own methods of training as acquired from their large bank of experience coaching runners of all levels. I tended to relate to Gregor’s style a touch more given my theoretical and scientific background, however the practical lessons and tips I picked up from Lindsay will be invaluable going forward to help all runners enjoy their running whilst achieving their goals (coming soon to a Front Runner training session near you… Pringles!).


As I have done with my previous trips, please see below for a general feel and some specific points of what I took away from the course:


  • Tracking and monitoring your recovery in periods of high load towards your target event is very important helping you determine what stress you are dealing with week to week and how this may affect your recovery from training. Look at tracking stress scores for areas of relationships work, training, financial and a general other to see if there are any large discrepancies that may affect to following weeks training.
  • If you have a talented young athlete, make sure the bird stays in the nest until it’s ready to fly. Take it out too early (event specialization <16y) and they will fly… but not for very long
  • The point of your training periodization that correlates with the highest risk of injury is when your training volume starts to slightly decrease whilst your training intensity begins to rise. This is a very important facet of training in order to peak for your target race, however be aware that this time should be monitored carefully and extra recovery process’ may need to be implemented.
  • EVERY aspect of running performance is trainable (aerobic endurance, anaerobic capacity, flexibility, strength, coordination, speed, rhythm/economy, lactate utilization). So if you feel that one or more of these may be a performance limiting factor, ask a qualified coach or movement professional to assist and develop these into individual strengths.
  • Don’t bring the cannon just to kill a mosquito. Ensure you know what training intensity is required in order to achieve the physiological aim of the training session and execute it. E.g. if you want to develop aerobic capacity via threshold running (e.g. 5km or 10km goal pace), stay on this pace to get the aerobic development without tapping into too much anaerobic contribution that will just result in more fatigue accumulation for the same aerobic development. However, if you are running your 800m goal pace in training, go for it… just limit the volume.
  • Ask yourself the “what” questions first… What are my goals, what training type am I working today, what is the aim of this training block? Once you have the what, work on the why and how.

Running Regards,

Ben Green


B.Sc (Hons) Exercise & Health

Level 3 IAAF Distance Coach

Earning your stripes

As a coach, I am constantly talking to athletes about their belief structures and aspirations.

In many cases, these personal beliefs have been formed over time with little understanding of the physiology required for their chosen event and often without ever having being scrutinised by a suitably qualified coach or advisor. In a very large number of cases, beginner, recreational or elite runners alike have a belief that running is “mind over matter”. Perhaps most destructively to performance optimisation, an extension of this belief is that if they are not meeting their targeted goals they are “weak” or not “mentally tough enough”.

To prove the point, I would like to share a personal experience I had almost 13 years ago as relatively young runner with a very similar belief system.

The gun had fired on St Georges Terrace for the 2001 Perth City to Surf and I felt optimistic and excited as we ran up to the Terrace to Kings Park. I was even happier at 6km as we headed up the steep Selby Street Hill as I was still with the two leaders including my hero and local running legend Ray Boyd. From 6km however, things started changing in a hurry. The two front runners charged on and I ended up losing 50 seconds in the second half of the race as they disappeared far into the distance. It was an extremely hard last few km and I vividly remember struggling to breathe as I ran over the steep incline of Oceanic Drive before finally making it to the finish on the grass of City Beach Oval.

As I struggled to catch my breathe, my thoughts where that I had not been tough enough. In line with that belief structure, I was upset, disappointed and angry with myself. After gathering myself, I went up to congratulate my hero. After the superficial pleasantries and handshakes, I asked him how much he was hurting in the race because I was in so much pain trying to keep up.

The response I was expecting was the old fashioned one: “I gutted it out, you have to smash yourself, mind over matter, you will get there young grasshopper…..”. Instead, my question was met by a question. “How much training have you been doing?”. I answered that I was running 80km per week, to which Ray laughed and replied “I am running 160km per week”.

He continued, “It is great you are so motivated to compete but your aspiration is ahead of your capacity”.  It was a quick discussion that had lasting impact. It is also a sentiment that has since been shared with countless successful coaches and athletes, yet far less commonly by recreational or beginner runners.

The belief that the mind can force the body is simply not in sync with the longitudinal development required to be a successful distance runner. The process of preparing your body optimally and specifically takes time and patience and will power needs to be applied in a macro sense to help runners achieve their full personal potential.

Arthur Lydiard would say “It’s just a matter of understanding what’s necessary and disciplining yourself to do it” or to come back to our own running legend, Ray Boyd “You have to earn your stripes”

Running Regards

Raf Baugh