The Frog Graham Round – failure and experience

The Frog Graham Round – failure and experience

When you set out to achieve something and then don’t achieve it, do you regard that as ‘failure’, or ‘experience’?

I got back home this morning after a weekend up in the Lake District.

Yesterday was the day of the ‘Frog Graham Round’ – an epic 40+ mile swim and fell running challenge I’ve had my eye on since January.

An event that I had estimated would take me and my running buddy Guy around 16 hours to complete, but in the end we had to call it a day after only 8.

We were disappointing not to have finished, and although it was a tough decision to make it was absolutely the right one from a safety point of view.

Horrendous weather and very poor visibility made navigation and staying upright a nightmare.

One small mistake of missing a turning left us on the wrong side of an enormous valley, and by the time we had clambered our way back on track again all hope of finishing in daylight had vanished.

Success and failure

On the day that Mo Farah made it 5 straight years of winning the Great North Run, I failed to make it 5 years of successfully completing my own annual ‘big challenge’ series.

4 years ago I ran 10 marathons in 10 days.

3 years ago I ran 100 miles in 24 hours at Endure24.

2 years ago I completed an ironman triathlon.

1 year ago I ran another 100 miles in 24 hours at Endure24.

Yet this year’s ‘failure’ has probably taught me more about myself than any of them.

The 37km of running, 2700m of ascent and 1km of swimming across Bassenthwaite Lake has all given me valuable experience.

More wisdom was gained from our crew team, Nigel & Roger, who both shared their knowledge of the area.

The weather was the deciding factor but the recce also exposed a number of weak points in my preparation… some more painful to deal with than others.

Over the next few days I’ll be mining some of the important biggest lessons from this weekend’s non-completion, and I’m certain that I’ll be back to take on The Frog next year.

Burpees | burpee regression technique to make it easier!

Burpees | burpee regression technique to make it easier!

Burpees are a great exercise, but if you struggle with them they can feel like the work of the devil

Burpees are one of the exercises in my new 21 day home training challenge, but as it’s one that many people find challenging I wanted to make sure there were plenty of options 🙂

I took a break from filming the workouts to put together this short burpee masterclass, showing you a number of ways you can make the exercise more accessible.

21 day Home Training Challenge

Find out more about home training challenge over on this page.

It’s a part of my online wellbeing coaching group, boost, and as well as the 21 day challenge you’ll be able to access the ‘Quick boost’ program starting on September 10.

We’ll be focusing on resetting habits around sugar, sleep, social media and self-awareness.

More info on both these programs are over here

Heart Rate Variability | How HRV can be used to help us improve performance and recovery

Heart Rate Variability | How HRV can be used to help us improve performance and recovery

Measuring HKPIs (Human Key Performance Indicators) such as Heart Rate Variability can give us a greater insight into our performance and recovery

Measuring heart rate as an indication of performance has been a ‘thing’ for decades.

Whether it’s checking your resting pulse first thing in the morning to determine how well recovered you are, or monitoring it in real time during exercise to help you decide whether to push harder or back off.

Before we go any further, let’s make sure we’re all up to speed with the fundamentals.

What is heart rate?

Heart rate is simply the number of times your heard beats each minute (bpm).

Every cell in your body requires fuel and oxygen for normal function. They get this oxygen from blood pumped around the body by the heart, and the greater the demand from your body the faster your heart has to beat to meet that demand.

Even sitting down reading this article your cells are burning energy. They need oxygen to do this so your heart ticks along at ‘resting’.

Get up and do a few start jumps though, and your muscles will be burning through energy and oxygen at a much faster rate, so your heart rate increases to meet this demand (and it stays elevated for a while after you sit back down again whilst you recovery).

One of the reasons fitter people tend to have lower resting heart rates is because their heart muscle tends to be stronger, and so pumps more blood with each beat.

Just one of the advantages of cardiovascular training.

Heart rate can tell us how hard we’re working, and how much fitter we’re getting, and how well we’re recovering, so it’s a useful thing to pay attention to.

But there’s another heart-related metric we can monitor that gives us a deeper insight into performance and recovery, and that is your Heart Rate Variability (HRV).

Heart Rate Variability

A heart rate of 60bpm is an average of 1 beat per second, but the reality is that most of the time these beats are not regular.

HRV is a measure of the variability in the interval between beats, and is closely connected with whether our nervous systems are in recovery or stressed mode.

Yesterday I caught up with human performance expert Simon Shepard from Optima-Life, who specialises in monitoring HRV and interpreting the data in a way that helps people improve their performance and resilience.

Webinar 

It’s a fascinating subject, and in this 35 minute interview Simon presents a number of examples to demonstrate exactly why we should be paying attention to HRV whether we’re training for an event or trying to perform optimally at work.

Simon is currently offering readers of my blog and members of my online communities the chance to work with his team to track and analyse your personal HRV data at a discounted rate.

Usually £222 for the analysis, the special offer is just £165 with delivery to the UK and Ireland.

You will be sent a device to wear for 3 days and asked to track your activities via an online diary, then send it back to Optima-Life.

After the data has been extracted and anaylsed, you’ll have a feedback session over the phone to discuss your results and learn how you can optimise your performance and recovery.

If you’d like to find out more, email me directly at george @bygeorgeanderson.com and I’ll pass on your details to Optima-Life for the discount.

As I write this blog a device on its way to me and I’m looking forward to my own analysis in a couple of weeks’ time!

The 5 Ls of Running Efficiency

The 5 Ls of Running Efficiency

When I first started writing emails & articles over 10 years ago I ONLY talked about running.

I had an eCommerce business selling running gear in Ireland and started writing content for the website.

The business didn’t work out, but I continued writing about running and people seemed to enjoy reading them.

The emails turned into a series of live workshops that I ran for about 5 years all over the UK and Ireland, all the while working with the Reading Half Marathon as their training partner, writing a book for beginner runners and articles for magazines like Women’s Running.

Then a few years ago I felt like I’d said all that I wanted to say about running and made the conscious decision to pivot away from it, towards motivational speaking and mindset coaching.

I didn’t want to be just ‘George the running guy’ any more, though the daft ultra marathons I’ve run over the last few years probably haven’t helped my cause lol!

Still, I decided to move on and write about other stuff that interested me and I hoped would interest others as well.

I was never interested in the hard core running cyborgs who ate marathons for breakfast.

Each to their own, but that has never been my most favouritist group to work with.

Since my ‘I’m not the running guy any more’ statement a few years ago, I never let myself romp around with running writing again.

Buttttt…..

I do still quite like a bit of run chat from time to time 😉

So this one is for the runners, of ANY ability or ambition.

Because it’s about efficiency.

How to run faster, with less effort and more enjoyment.

It’s what I’ve always done personally, it’s what I used to teach on my workshops, and it’s what I credit with allowing me to run 40 miles at the weekend without too much trouble.

And there’s no reason why you can’t apply them to your own running as well.

Here are the recently-named-because-it-sounds-like-a-real-thing 5 Ls of running efficiency:

#1 LIFT

Imagine a piece of string lifting you up from the top of your head.

Feel your spine aligning and your tummy drawing in slightly, but just focus on the lift.

Do this as often as you can during your next run.

You’ll do it, then forget about it a few steps later. That’s ok. Just do it again as soon as you remember.

The piece of string… LIFT yourself tall.

#2 LEAN

If you can get the lift, the next thing to try is to lean forwards from the ankles.

Imagine standing still and leaning forward so the weight rocks onto your toes.

What would happen if you leaned forwards a little more?

You’d fall over, is what!

Except you wouldn’t, because you’d instinctively put a foot out in front of you.

And if you kept that lean in place, you’d put your other foot in front of that one, and so on… <<< this is often known as ‘running’.

Running bolt upright or worse leaning back means that your foot will contact the ground well in front of your centre of mass.

When this happens, it’s like running with the brakes on.

Lean forwards and gravity will do some of the heavy lifting for you.

#3 LOOSEN

On a running workshop I once took with Irish marathon record holder Catherina McKiernan, she said ‘a relaxed muscle is hard to injure’.

That always stuck with me, and I’d like to pass it on to you.

Relax your ankles in particular, the way you would your wrists if you were shaking out your hands.

Instead of trying to lift up your toes to plant your heel on the ground, just keep them relaxed and loose, and allow them to land naturally on the mid foot.

#4 LIGHT

Imagine yourself floating along the ground rather than pounding into it with every step.

This one takes a bit of work, but the more quietly you can run the less energy
you’re going to waste.

If you get the lift and the loosen, this one usually takes care of itself, but it’s still something to focus on and ‘check in’ with as you run.

#5 LUNGS

Yeah, this one is basically just breathing, but ‘the 4 Ls and a B of running efficiency’ isn’t quite so catchy.

Of course you already breathe as you run, but try to focus on getting more oxygen into your lungs and getting rid of more of the carbon dioxide.

Establish a rhythm as you run, so each foot landing on the ground is timed with a breath.

For instance 2 breaths in for a left and a right, then 2 breaths out for the next left and right.

You’ll find that you naturally take fuller breaths, and the steps ‘shunt’ air into and out of your lungs.

 

At Endure24 on Saturday I literally went through this list in my head over and over again.

It was like a mental check list and I’d focus on each of them for a few moments at a time before moving on to the next one.

If it helps, you could write an ‘L’ on your left hand so you see it any time you look at your watch.

If you wear your watch on the other hand be wary of this or you’ll have people asking why you have an L written on your right hand…

Could be a lengthy explanation and when you’re already making oxygen choices that’s a conversation you don’t want to be having.

Just send them over to the blog instead where I’ll be posting this later 😉

Hope that helps / is of interest / entertained you / passed a few minutes of your day.

I’ll be back to talking about non-running stuff next time, until the next urge to delve back into my past overwhelms me.

It’s like therapy, so thank you for listening.

10,000 steps a day – is there a better way with Active 10?

10,000 steps a day – is there a better way with Active 10?

Could walking less be more effective than 10,000 steps a day?

In 1950 a study was carried out on London bus drivers and conductors.

They wanted to test the hypothesis that bus drivers were more likely to suffer from heart problems compared with their ticket stamping colleagues.

What they found was that drivers were twice as likely to die from a fatal heart attack as conductors.

The difference?

Drivers spend more of their day sitting down.

Important, but not always easy

Being more active is important, but not always easy when you have a sedentary job.

I wrote recently about the 10,000 steps a day target, and how only about 13% of my Facebook group On The Wagon claim to hit it every day.

And I’d confidently claim that these are an above-average bunch of people when it comes to exercise and fitness.

10,000 steps or Active10?

Recently there has been a movement towards the idea of doing 3 blocks of 10 minutes ‘brisk’ walking instead of slogging away to 10,000 steps.

Not just because it’s easier to fit in for most people, but because it’s potentially more effective for general health.

Yesterday I spoke with Professor Rob Copeland from Sheffield Hallam University who was the guy behind the study.

The key ingredient

What he said was that the key ingredient is intensity.

For example, a leisurely mooch around the shops is unlikely to get your heart rate up (dependent of course on which shops your wife goes into!)

But 10 minutes of faster paced walking that starts to get a sweat on could have a positive impact on your health.

I still believe the 10k steps can be a helpful way to keep activity top of mind, and Rob certainly didn’t think that it was a bad thing.

But simply add a bit of pace to your steps and you’re onto something.

Besides, if you’re going somewhere, you might as well get there fast!

Active10 App

There’s an Active10 app I’m starting to play around with that might be worth checking out, especially if you consistently struggle to hit 10k steps like me!

Hill running technique tips – CoachMag article

Hill running technique tips – CoachMag article

Hill running training technique tips

[The hill running training technique tips article was first published in CoachMag.com August 2015, in conjunction with Sony’s SmartWear and Tough Mudder]

Hill running doesn’t just prepare you for tackling slopes – it’ll boost your endurance and strengthen your legs ready for Tough Mudder. ‘There are three distinct approaches to hill running, and a time and a place for each of them,’ says running coach George Anderson.

The sprint

The hardest session is the flat-out hill sprint. Pick a fearsome incline and then belt up it as fast as possible for up to a minute, using a SmartWatch 3 from Sony to time yourself.

Then walk down to the bottom, and repeat. ‘Half a dozen will put hairs on anybody’s chest,’ says Anderson. ‘Although hill sprints can be vomit-inducing they’re also fantastic for building rock-solid lower-body power and strength.

That means they’ll not only help with hilly sections of your Tough Mudder, but also the explosiveness needed for obstacles such as Everest 2.0.’

Continuous hills

To help make your Tough Mudder distance feel more like a stroll in the (extremely muddy) park, continuous hills are a good way to prepare. Pick a hill with a gradient you can run down without disrupting your technique too much, and then spend eight to ten minutes pushing yourself up and down at an intensity of about 80% – tough, but not too tough that you can’t maintain it. ‘Keep this intensity on the way down as well as up – no stopping at the top for a breather,’ says Anderson.

Hills as obstacles

The third type of hill training is where you include a number of hills into a regular run. ‘Think of each hill as an obstacle to overcome, as you’ll have to at your Tough Mudder,’ says Anderson. ‘This will ready your body to handle slopes even when it’s tired, and give you the mental strength to get over all the obstacles even when your energy levels have taken a battering.’

Running up hills doesn’t have to strike fear into your very soul. Anderson’s tactics make things a little easier…

1) Lean into the hill

‘Try to lean in from your ankles rather than waist, so you’re using gravity to pull you upwards.’

2) Shorten your stride

‘Long strides where your foot lands in front of your body can put the brakes on with every step.’

3) Slow your pace

‘Unless the objective of the session calls for maximum effort, allow yourself to slow down when you encounter hills on the run.’