BLOGTIME: Mental Toughness

As the winter months approach, many runners set their goals and targets for the upcoming season of fun runs. A target race or event can provide a fantastic end point for a training process and can fill the runner with initial motivation. Where many runners (from beginners building up to their first fun run, right through to elite runners looking to run their best time) will often come undone, is the patch of training that occurs after this initial motivation. The buzz and excitement of entering the event has passed and the event itself is too far away to get excited about. So how can you encourage consistency in your training to ensure you give yourself the best chance of achieving your goal on race day?


One term that is commonly associated with successful people, whether in running or otherwise, is mental toughness. What is mental toughness and how can you apply this to your own training to maximize your own success in running?

A common definition of mental toughness reads “A personal capacity to deliver high performance on a regular basis, despite varying degrees of situational demands”. Now I’m sure everyone can relate to this, where they have had the initial motivation to perform a task when the thought arises in their head, before certain circumstances (weather, work, traffic, sickness etc.) limit their capacity to perform the task as they want to and therefore don’t attempt the task at all. Now obviously some circumstances are beyond our control and part of being mentally tough is accepting that. However, what we must learn from this definition is that if we want to be mentally tough, we must focus on our behavior and not our thoughts.


I recently attended a talk from a well renowned sports psychologist from UWA who discussed this very idea of focusing on mentally tough behaviors. His summary was that if an athlete is frequently delivering high personal performance, then it is as much a reflection on their behavior as it is on their skills. Therefore, his advice to athletes who are seeking their own levels of high performance was to make sure you behave in a mentally tough way and to not just think in that way. Backing up day to day and week to week, regardless of the circumstances is the key to demonstrating mentally tough behaviors and will be the cornerstone to your success in your own goals for your running.

On a closing note, how do you know if you’re being mentally tough… quite simply someone will tell you! To quote to famous AFL Coach John Kennedy… don’t think, DO!




Happy running,



Ben Green

B.Sc (Hons)

Level 3 Coach IAAF

Coaching Manager

Front Runner Sports


Blog: 5 Marathon Tips by Rafael Baugh


Running a Marathon in 2015?
Head Coach Rafael Baugh shares his Top 5 Marathon Tips…

  1. Don’t run a marathon, be a marathoner: at school, you aren’t ready to sit your tertiary entrance when you are in first grade. Similarly, your best marathon is years of work and learning away. Take a long term approach to your running to maximise your potential. By focussing on ongoing self improvement and taking a long term approach to performance optimisation, you will gain the most from the “perfect challenge” that is marathon running.
  2. Mileage is VERY important: we live in an age where many want quick results, often while wanting to do less work. The marathon is the anti-thesis to this line of thinking. Increasing your training volume gradually over time is pivotal to improving your performances in the Marathon.
    The distances help teach the body to use fat as a fuel more efficiently, thus preserving glycogen (carbohydrate) for longer in well trained marathoners. It also helps lean up the athlete, builds strength in the lower limbs and perhaps most importantly adding easy/steady volume is much lower risk than adding more intensity or speed sessions.
  3. Strength is important: appropriate running drills and functional strengthening can provide significant gains and reduce injury risk for marathoners. The correct exercises can enhance the runners neuromuscular system and improve running economy through enhanced use of elastic energy at the musculo-tendinuous junction. It can also improve strength and injury resistance with consistent and ongoing application.
  4. Race Specific Training: we are in one of the biggest periods of improvement in the history of marathon running. One of the biggest changes implemented by the likes of Italian Marathon coach, Renato Canova (coach of world record holder, Wilson Kipsang and multiple world Champion Abel Kirui) is the addition of a final specific phase of preparation. This includes specific progressive or paced runs at close to race distance and speed. These specific sessions closely replicate the demands of the race and galvanise the physical, mental and emotional preparation of the marathon runner. Over repeated testing before events, these sessions also provide an extremely accurate guide to the athletes condition and make goal setting and pacing strategies much more accurate.
  5. Have a coach: probably the most poorly understood aspects of running training is load. A balanced training load that applies progressive overload with corresponding recovery will result in consistent and ongoing gains. Furthermore, it will play a significant role in preventing overuse injures which are so common in running populations. Essentially, the coach should be a logical guide and mentor for the athlete whom often attach emotionally to ideals or principles which should be sense checked for appropriateness.

Running regards,

Rafael Baugh
Managing Director – Front Runner Sports Training.

8 factors to consider when picking your next Marathon…….

Your training has been perfect, over many months you have built your fitness to your best level ever and you are excited to chase a PB and travel to one of the worlds great marathons. You jump on a plane Wednesday before the race, travel 24 hr though two flight changes, arriving in Europe ready to beat your best that weekend. A few days of new food, mild jetlag and some sightseeing later and race day is here. On race day you start well but towards the latter stages you feel a little off your best and you finish steady but in a time is a few minutes off from your best and little away from your goals…..

Sound familiar?

Having coached many marathon runners towards their target races over the past 7 years, this has become a clear and consistent pattern for runners travelling to big European and American races. Strong performances are the norm but rarely are they great races. By tracking these patterns we start to be able to identify the cause of these trends and help our athletes better choose the appropriate racing location and timing to achieve their goals. We also start to be able to develop better preparation strategies, both physical and mental, to increase the likelihood of goal attainment in the case of races in Europe and America.

When choosing your next marathon, it is really important to carefully consider your goals for the event. Are you chasing a finish, a PB time or an experience? While running a major Marathon such as Boston, Paris, Dubai, Berlin might look exciting on paper these races bring into play a number of external variables likely to impact performance that need to be factored into preparation and goal setting for these events. Similarly, some environments, such as racing Japan, offer significant performance upsides to domestic or local races for a number of reasons

What factors should you consider before next race:

  • Your personal goals-is it be run a PB
  • Logistics
  • Time Zone
  • Travel Time
  • Dietary Change
  • Field Depth
  • Climate
  • Cultural Changes


Kids Running – How should we train our kids to run?

Running is a fundamental, locomotor skill and its development is crucial to be able to participate in many sports and activities.  Many parents worry their children exhibit undeveloped running styles compared to their peers and fear this may hinder their ability to compete and engage in sporting activities.  Extensive research into running tells us that children respond differently to adults when exposed to running training and that more emphasis on good running fundamentals and technique may be the key to developing good runners.


Think back to when your football coach made you run laps as a young kid with the aim of making you fitter for the upcoming season. Although the intentions were good, the process may require a little rejigging. It is widely accepted in running literature that children do not respond the same way adults do to running training on a physiological level. A simple example of this is if you take an inexperienced child and an inexperienced adult runner and make them run 2-3 times a week for say a month. The improvements seen in the adult in terms of running performance will far outweigh that of the child.  This can largely be put down to physiology i.e. the child’s energy, cardiorespitatory and musculoskeletal systems are not developed to the level of adults and therefore wont be able to take full advantage of the training. So how else can be train running performance in kids?

The answer lies in technique! If you want your child to be able to swim then you would send them to swim classes were they would experience a mix of swimming technique drills, swimming laps and of some fun and games. So why is running so different? Why would the same approach not apply to learning to run? The answer is that it should. In 2014 I was apart of a research study which looked to identify if known “good” running biomechanics variables in adults were comparable in children and if good running biomechanics in kids meant better running performance in kids. The answer was an overwhelming yes! The top performing prepubescent runners (6-12years of age) exhibited the best running biomechanical variables of the cohort.Trackstars 2

I’m not suggesting that purely running technique or biomechanics will allow you to become a good runner but they certainly form a much larger piece of the pie then most of us would think. So to allow your child to have the best chance at becoming the best runner they can the key is a mix between running for fitness, technique fundamentals and of course fun and enjoyment! The right balance of all of these components helps form the basis of our trackstars development programs aimed at giving kids of different running backgrounds the ability to achieve the most out of their running. The key is also to start young. As anyone who has only started running technique drills in their adult life can attest to (myself included here), the saying you can’t teach an old dog new tricks does hold some truth!


Jarrad Turner
Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist
Front Runner Sports

To contact Jarrad please email

OR for bookings call TRC 9324 2707

BLOG: Fear of the First Time

fear-quotes-2Fear can be a crippling emotion, and can quite often hold people back from attempting things in daily life, and more often than not, for no reason. I’m thinking in particular to a few “Fearful Firsts” as I began my running journey. Fear and self doubt come hand in hand, and one normally fuels the other.

I recall going to my very first fun run, back in February 2011, the WAMC Point Walter 5km or 16km. A friend of mind asked me to come along with her, as she had told me how friendly all the runners were, and how much fun the fun runs are.  At this stage, I had only run 5km or so a couple of times, so attempting 16km, in a fun run, with loads of people who look like super fit runners was a bit daunting.  We arrived at 6:30am in the morning, which was so early, I could not believe how many people were actually up at this time of day on a Sunday morning!  As we drove up, my stomach started turning as the fear kicked in.   I really did feel sick and I wonder if I wasn’t with my friend, I may have turned around and driven home.   On the start line, I positioned myself nicely at the back, where I could just blend in.  I clearly remember thinking, what on earth am I doing, how on earth will I run 16km!  I’ve always liked a challenge, and I sure did finish the 16km in 1:44, approx. 6:30/km.  I’ll never forget running over the finishing line, and someone yelling at me “Well done, great run!”  I felt like I was King of the World.

A few months later, joining in on a Sunday morning fun run becomes “normal” for me….gee my friend was right, what a friendly (slightly mad) bunch runners are. Running on my own, doing my own training also becomes quite normal for me.  I am “blessed” with a competitive nature, with a strong desire to improve and always get the best out of myself.   In  2012, I now find myself in a situation where I am driving to my first Front Runner group training session….

FEAR has just kicked in on my way to my first group training session.  Once again, my stomach starts flipping, when I drive up I see all these super fit looking runners.   The thoughts are flying around…”I really don’t belong here” etc etc.  By the end of the session, surprise surprise, I felt great.  I came, I ran and there was absolutely no need to be worried….these people are all very kind, friendly and genuinely interested in making sure I get the best out of myself, no matter what level of runner I am.

Group training sessions generate an electric energy that is impossible to duplicate on your own.  Having other people to run with, is invaluable.  It doesn’t matter if you are a walk/runner, or an elite runner, there is always someone to work with, to push you to make sure you are getting the best out of yourself.  All it takes is commitment and perseverance, together with the will and desire to continue and work through the tough times, as well as the good.

With the group training sessions, my running improves nicely.  During summer, I join the Front Runner group for the first time…at the TRACK!   Driving to the track, I feel the same FEAR and nerves the same as my first fun run and my first group training session. Driving up, I see real athletes on the track…OMG they have bodies of pure muscle!  I am not going in there!  Sure enough, my first track session was loads of fun, and again I walk away feeling awesome, with absolutely nothing to be worried about in the first place.

If you have been thinking of joining our Front Runner group training sessions, go out on a limb, put the fear aside and come along and have some fun.  Push the excuses aside, and remember we will get the best out of you by making sure each runner of any level, improves individually and sees a gradual gain in their fitness levels over a period of time.

Just know, that any feelings of fear or doubt are experienced by many people at their first training session.  We know what it is like, so come along and kick some PB’s!  We provide the structure; you provide the commitment…simple.

See you out there soon;   You’ll see me cheering loudly, especially for the first timers…. 😉

Andrea Bell
Level 2 Coach AA
Front Runner Coaching Team

BLOG TIME – Our Local Jogger Part 2: Knee Collapse

The knee is the most commonly injured area of the body for runners. This is surprising given its actual workload in normal, healthy runners. Ben often quotes his 50-18-32% split for the muscles working around the ankle, knee and hip joints respectively, so why is the knee always a point of injury if it does so little work?

The knee is built to be a flexible transfer joint. It transfers forces up and down the chain and allows functional limb shortening/lengthening for swing and stance phases of running gait. When either the ankle or hip have problems holding up their specific requirements, excess force is transferred to the piggy in the middle… the knee.

Rotational forces are a large contributor to disruption at the knee joint – either lack of hip external rotator strength (yes glutes, glutes, GLUTES!) or over-pronation in the foot both lead to internal rotation moments at the knee.

However collapsing down into knee flexion adds a large amount of load to the patello-femoral joint (behind the knee cap) and leads to the most common injury of all: “Runner’s knee.”

45 degree KF in MSt 55 degree KF MSt

The above runner is collapsing down into 55o knee flexion in the image on the right but only 45o on the left (better!). The more you collapse down into the leg, the more you are compressing the “spring” of the lower biomechanical chain. As the knee is a key component in transferring energy/load up and down that chain it experiences greater loading (just like going lower for a walking lunges strength exercise).

Patella forces diagram

From our Technique Course participants we have found the below averages for knee flexion in mid stace… aka “Knee collapse”.

  Jogging speed (5/10 pace) Sprinting speed (8 / 10 pace)
Peak knee flexion in Mid Stance 45.7o 43.1o

A meta analysis of the literature of the time (1997), performed by Tom Novacheck revealed an average knee flexion angle in midstance of 45 degrees for people “jogging” and this angle became less when participants ran at higher speeds, as ground contact time reduced. Our data mirrors that literature review quite closely.

The peak knee flexion angle can be a very good predictor of Runner’s knee. The Quadriceps muscle pulls the patella upwards and the patella tendon keeps if firmly tethered below, as you fall into more knee flexion the resultant force vector applied to the patella is retrograde (pulling the patella firm into its joint). The mild extra pressure leads to tissue breakdown and injury after multiple steps, kilometres, runs… a true overuse injury.

From a performance perspective the “spring” analogy of the lower leg is an appropriate one. A stiffer spring will give back a greater percentage of the energy that is stored in it when released. A stiffer lower leg through the “musculo-tendinous” (muscles and tendons, NOT bone) units will allow for a better running economy. Also, with less knee-bend comes less vertical change in the centre of mass. Less up and down motion means less energy is needed to work against gravity and more can be utilised to move FORWARDS, the most useful direction when running.

A Finnish study by Leskinen et al. in 2009 demonstrated that elite 1500m runners exhibited less peak knee flexion than national-level athletes when running at very similar speeds in a race (2min, 33sec kilometre pace compared to 2min, 36 sec pace). The elite runners are better at storing the energy in their patella tendons, just as with the Achilles, during stance and unleashing it in the propulsive phase of push off. The stiffer spring/less knee collapse allows for better elastic energy storage and thus performance.

In long distance running we all end up at a point where we feel as if we are running down INTO the ground, instead of flowing over it. It is at this point we are becoming inefficient and putting extra load through our connective tissue, especially the knee joint. Gluteal, quad and calf strengthening (all the extensor muscles) are needed to prepare the body to run longer and stronger than it currently can.

Knee injuries are one of the most common. If you are excessively collapsing down into the hinge joint in the middle of your kinetic chain seek help. The causative factor may not be in that exact area though.


If you have an issue in your knee tissue… trust the experts.


Running Regards,

Marc See (B.Sc Physiotherapy)


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