Thoughtful running..being present in your run.

I was out for my ‘easy’ run this morning.

Supposed to be 1 hour and easy Zone 1-2. At least that is what is on the plan that I am revisiting at the moment.

So when selecting a @wearenation podcast, looking for ~1 hour, my decision was made easy by the most recent one featuring Brian MacKenzie

Continue reading “Thoughtful running..being present in your run.”

[INTERMEDIATE] #DublinMarathon running program – Weeks 5-9


Ready to go again?

Hopefully the first block tied in with your current running and all that has happened is a little bit of structure and routine has been applied to your weeks.

We’re going to introduce a little bit of speed work at this stage to see where you are at. This is being developed a little bit more in the Experienced plan but to outline –

FAST here is what you are thinking your Marathon Pace (MP) is likely to be. By running a few sessions at this stage you will quickly learn how realistic your anticipated goals are. Run the MP as a block so for example the first 8k on Wednesday should be warmup 2 k, next 1k at steady pace, 4k at MP, 1k cooldown.

Try and take a split or lap time for your MP sections so you can gauge the MP. It should feel like an effort but you should also bear in mind, this will be a pace you hope to hold in 18 weeks time for 42.2k 🙂

We really could do with your feedback on the forum on this so that you can adjust properly.

 Week 18 Rest 6  8 (4k at MP) 6 Rest  6 12 (5k at MP)
 Week 17 Rest 10 10 6 Rest 6 16
 Week 16 Rest 6  10 (5k at MP) 6  Rest 10 20
 Week 15 Rest 10  10 (Hilly) 6  Rest 6 24
 Week 14 10 Rest 10 (x4 1k repeats at 5k pace) 10  Rest 6 28


All distance are in kilometers (km / k) at no point do we use miles or mph to designate speed, distance or pace!

All runs must start with 10mins / 2k of easy running to warm up and loosen out. Think about your form, relaxing the shoulders etc before getting into the main body of the run.

Control your running so you are not running Threshold all the time. Think “base weeks”. Plenty of time for fast running!!

‘Rest’ is ‘rest from running’ NOT sit on the sofa and eat crisps and ice-cream. Go for a swim, a nice walk, easy cycle. You should also consider flexibility exercises like pilates or yoga on these ‘Rest’ days.

These are starting to introduce pace work. Also coming in is hilly work to build strength. Hills should be something you are being challenged on, but not having to climb! If you can find a hill or drag that takes a few minutes to run up like the hill at Renville Park make it a favourite and mark it for future reference.

Any questions please feel free to fire them at us.

Happy running!! 🙂

Edel & Sean


…let it be…

Let It Be

Taking my previous post Let it be… on a bit I want to continue the observations.

Running at my comfortable pace the ‘natural’ pace my foot follows a traditional heel to toe rocking motion.

Running at my HMPace my foot follows a shorter heel to toe rocking motion beginning slightly forward of my heel.

At ‘flat out’ or interval pace I am running on my toes. All my weight is concentrated on the mid to front of my foot. (This is not an issue as you will understand shortly)

Focusing primarily on the natural pace work for a moment. If I run at the natural form I land on my heel, my foot pronates inwards with slight over pronation on the left leg (controlled by my choice of shoe) and through to the mid and forefoot for the propulsion phase of my stride.

What happens if I increase the cadence at the same pace?

Well, first of all I have to shorten my stride right down to fit that many steps into the time. Lets reverse the maths for a second…..

By the magic of paper and pencil,  running at my HMPace cadence (180bpm) at natural speed I would have a stride length of 1.06 meters and my ground contact time remaining the same 0.666 seconds per side per minute the following happens –

  1. 1000m (distance covered) / 1.15m (stride length)  x 0.712 (GC Time) = 619.13 seconds total GC time / km
  2. 1000m (distance covered) / 1.06m (stride length)  x 0.666 (GC Time) = 628.3 seconds total GC time / km

Do you see what has happened?

Following conventional wisdom by shortening my stride and increasing my cadence results in me incurring LONGER ground contact time and all while I am more loaded onto the front of my foot. So in effect spreading more body mass over a smaller area more often per kilometer!!

What I am identifying in a long and convoluted manner is that forefoot running is not the be all and end all of running. In certain circumstances it can be a nice idea to aspire to achieving but actually be detrimental to your overall running health.

There are mitigating factors and I’ll examine those next so that it is not all about sensationalising the topic.

Let it be..

Tomorrow I’m giving a presentation on “How to choose your perfect running shoe”.

I’ve done these before and while they are similar to the conversation that you have with customers in the shop the setting is different and the crowd is different so you need to be prepared more.

One of the topics that has been batting around in my head for the last while is to do with people overthinking their running.

In my opinion far too many people are getting hung up on heelstriking / forefoot striking etc and as a result are either hanging up their run progress or are injuring themselves.

I briefly touched on this topic before in a post about my selection of shoes and how I use them. In particular how I seem to have preference for different shoes depending on the type of running that is being done. Now, don’t get me wrong I’m not banging a drum about footwear before form, I’m highlighting that they are mutually beneficial areas of your run that should be addressed in training.

As mentioned in that post above, different paces, different shoes suit better or worse.

“What do you mean?”, is the chorus I hear.

Well… let it be…

By this, I am suggesting recommending that whatever your natural running form is you allow it to flow through. Don’t try and force change on what comes naturally to you, work with it enhance it, make it work for you rather that you trying to work against it.


Take me as an example.

If I go out for a run without any goal, just a nice relaxed run trotting around the area, after a while I settle into a rhythm that just works. I lose myself in the run, relax into the surroundings, find a rhythm that resonates nicely for me. All of this is subconscious and happens when I switch off.

Let me put this in numbers.

I’m 86kg (important to know for later) 6′ tall and using a footpod I know that I run naturally at 83/84 strides per foot per minute with an average stride length of 1:10 – 1:20 meters.

Doing the sums this means –

(83.5 x 2) x 1:15 = 192.05 meters per minute


11.523 km per hour or roughly 5:12 minutes per km is my natural, comfortable pace at which my HR (Heart Rate) will be around 140 bpm (Beats Per Minute).

Now, the important thing to take out of this is that every minute my bodyweight lands on my feet 167 times or to be more precise a multiplier of my body weight creates a landing force on each of my feet 83.5 times per minute which means my Ground Contact time is 0.712 seconds (at this pace) per foot.

Now, I’m not an engineer so I’m not even going to calculate what the point load per square cm is for an 86kg mass landing from approx 25cm is but I’d gladly take someone’s calculations if anyone is good enough to do those for me.

I have a funny intuition that whatever that ^ calculation works out to be it will remain fairly constant through this series of posts.

So what happens if I run faster?

Let’s look at my Half Marathon pace (HMPace) of 4:30 minutes per km.

Again using footpod data 89/92 strides per foot per minute averaging 1:22 – 1:25 meters

(90 x 2) x 1:24 = 223.2 meters per minute

= 13.4 km per hour

The important factor is again Ground Contact time which in this instance is 0.666 seconds.


If I go at a ‘flat-out’ sprint for an interval:

(100 x 2) x 1:60 = 320 meters per minute

=19.2 km per hour or 3:12 minutes per km

Ground Contact time is 0.6 seconds

So the faster I go the less Ground Contact time there is per foot but to achieve this I have to increase the cadence or number of foot landings per minute. Makes sense?

Further examination of this trend in this is that the faster I’m moving, the less ground contact time there is, the higher my cadence,  the further forward I am positioned on the foot.

The reason I’m looking at these figures and establishing them is because they have a bearing on the footwear that I should be choosing to suit me naturally but they also have a bearing on what suits you too.

More to follow.


When is Minimalism too much?

Lower and lower, sleeker and faster, lighter shoes is what we all want.

In my opinion, transitioning to a minimalist shoe for many may be a step too far.

When transitioning to a minimalist shoe ‘form’ should be the first consideration. Do you naturally run as a forefoot striker or a heel striker?

If you are a forefoot striker naturally, ie. without forcing it or thinking about it when you slip off your shoes and run, do you land on the front, outside of your foot as per the diagram below?

Barefoot Forefoot Strike

If this is you, then it should be no bother to you to effect a transition process to a minimal shoe. Depending on where you are starting from we would expect to see this transition period having different durations for each individual.

If, on the other hand, you are more of a midfoot striker or heel striker you have a lot more work to do to achieve a smooth, injury free transition to minimalist shoes.

Barefoot Heel Strike

Transitioning from this position is a much more gradual change as you are having to work on changing your natural form, re-mapping neuromuscular pathways and developing core strength to help stabilise the pelvic area which will become more active during the transitional phases.

Speak to us about this as invariably you will be best advised to rotate between your traditional shoe and minimal shoes more frequently to prevent tweaking connective tissues or causing injury.

The series of images below graphically represent and explain the differences in the loading of the feet during the landing phase and the effect on capturing and releasing kinetic energy on the propulsive phase.

Running Kinematics

Heel Striking

Forefoot Striking




Hip and knee are flexed.
Ankle is dorsiflexed (toes point up). Ankle is plantarflexed (toes point slightly down). Foot is usually slightly inverted (the sole is angled inwards).
Land on the middle to outside of the heel just below the ankle joint. Land on outside of the forefoot (the ball of the foot, just below the 4th and 5th metatarsal heads).
As you land, the ankle begins to plantarflex (toes move towards the ground). As you land, the ankle begins to dorsiflex (heel moves towards the groud).
Arch of the foot is not loaded. Arch of the foot is loaded and begins to stretch/flatten.
Impact  Foot Flat Barefoot Heel Strike

Barefoot Foot Flat
Barefoot Forefoot Strike

Barefoot Foot Flat
Knee and hip flex.
As the ankle plantarflexes, the forefoot comes down. As the ankle dorsiflexes, the heel comes down under the control of the calf muscles and Achilles tendon, which are stretching.
Foot Flat Midstance Barefoot Foot Flat

Barefoot Midstance
Barefoot Foot Flat

Barefoot Midstance
Knee and hip continue to flex.
The ankle dorsiflexes as the lower leg moves forward relative to the foot and the foot everts (rolls inward).
Now that the whole foot is on the ground, the arch begins to stretch/flatten. The arch continues to stretch/flatten.
This combination of eversion, ankle dorsiflexion and arch flattening is called pronation. This combination of eversion, ankle dorsiflexion and arch flattening is called pronation, but occurs in the reverse direction compared to heel striking (from the forefoot to the rearfoot not heel to toe).

Toe Off

Barefoot Midstance

Barefoot Toe Off
Barefoot Midstance

Barefoot Toe Off
Ankle plantarflexes bringing the heel off the ground (calf muscles and Achilles tendon now shorten).
Foot’s arch recoils, and the toes flex.
These actions push the body upwards and forwards for the next stride.

Images and table layout from

In transitioning, a natural heel lander has to overcome the tendency to load the arch in a forward motion. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles the best way to naturally change your landing pattern is through a mixture of your ‘normal’ running and some focused efforts at re-teaching your body what natural (forefoot) running form is all about.

Any questions please fire them at me!

Happy running 🙂

Are we supposed to barefoot run? (A tongue in cheek look at evolution)

This old chestnut keeps popping up, again and again and again. I’ve also written about minimalism and barefooting before.

English: barefoot running
English: barefoot running (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



It generally starts as a discussion about barefoot running, usually by a newly converted barefooter who reckons it’s the best thing since bread became sliced and very quickly degenerates into a willy measuring exercise between pedants who insist on discussing the relative density and hardness of concrete and dusty, pre-civilisation, pre-societal concrete.


Here’s a recent example: Your expensive running shoes could be destroying your knees, ankles and hips.


Now I don’t know about you but as far as I understand evolution and progress are usually determined by the axiom ‘survival of the fittest’.


So, based on current trends and my anthropological time machine I have a theory.


Way back when, if we are to believe what we are told, we were fruit and vegetable eaters, eating all round us and then moving on to new pastures in search of new food sources like  grazing animals. The current trend of Paleo diet would indicate that this how we developed as a species; eating fruit, nuts, vegetables and seeds in their raw state (in so far as possible).


Then, through a pioneering trendsetter someone picked up a wooden stick and developed a taste for animal protein. (Could you call it a ‘club sandwich’ ? )


This influx of animal protein led to development of better brain function as we evolved, leading to the development of tools for cooking , cleaning etc. Oh, and fire was created or at least the means to maintain it and the knowledge to transport fire from one location to another, allowing us to cook food.


Now as these early men (& women) clubbed and collected food all around them the faster animals and possibly tastier always eluded their reach. No matter how sneaky we were we couldn’t catch these sources of meat. They’d smell us or hear us in the woods and grass trying to creep up until they were in range. All to no avail.


What did we do next?


We started running.


(This has taken generations to get to this point in the story, time machine, remember?!)


We soon discovered that we could run. Now we couldn’t run as fast as the animal we wanted to eat and after a while we realised this. With our brain developing we started thinking and working together as a team with the result being that we got cute and realised we could run longer and further and steadier than the dinner. We didn’t know it at the time but our bodies liked this idea and started to develop mechanisms that encouraged us to run. We got taller, straighter and lighter; we became land running hunters.


All of the reading we do, all of the fora we engage in everything is geared to us understanding that this is the reason we are born to run. We evolved.


I don’t disagree.




I think the first hominoid man who fashioned a pair of foot covers from some animal hide to protect his feet from the dusty, gritty, thorny surface and that offered him some grip on the rocky terrain gained an evolutionary advantage over the barefoot guys.


Apart from the obvious fact that we still cover our feet, providing unassailable evidence of the historical benefit of footwear, that ‘barefooting’ died out and needed to be rediscovered comes down to the simple truth that the guy with the footwear had the competitive edge over the other guy in the chase to get the good looking girls.


Survival of the fittest! 😉


Run Smooth

Which of these runners ‘runs right’?

I know its a cliche, but lately I’ve been thinking and its worrying.

Every day that we use video playback in +Amphibian King Galway to provide a medium for helping people choose the running footwear best suited for them. The most common question is ‘do I run right?’

Now how do you answer this?

Like footwear there are so many factors that are involved, and how do you decide what is ‘running right’?

There’s the school of thought, run barefoot, it will fix you and make you a better runner. I agree, yes and no.There are people who have fantastic barefoot running form, yet as soon as you put them in shoes they forget all of that and run stupid. 

By ‘run stupid’ I mean, they switch their brain off, they run and allow the shoe to insulate their foot and deaden all the nice feedback and kill off decent form. So yes, barefoot running is good for them. 

Then there’s the majority of us who don’t run sweetly, bit of a stomper and untidy barefoot form, in the main shoes are good for them, but also a bit of barefoot or minimal work to help remap muscles and improve form.

I’ve a couple of previous posts on this area of discussion: What’s in a name?

The bit that worrys me and an area I would do research into if I had a these to do for college is what defines ‘running right’ ?

The common perception is that you should land on your mid to fore foot, allow the heel to drop, charging the calf muscles with that impact force, the muscles turn this impact force into elastic potential energy which as you body weight moves over the centre of gravity becomes kinetic energy levering you just as your foot locks into a rigid structure propelling you forwards.

All this to be done at 90 strides per minute.

The problem I have with this is there is no variability taken into account for height, weight, fitness, mechanical deficiences or anything that marks us out as individual.

In fact it reminds me of the ‘one style fits all’ coaching that we used to get swimming Total Immersion. 

I think running form should be considered more along the lines of Swim Smooth where rough categories are defined based on common characteristics in swimming style and instead of saying ‘this is the way all of you must swim’ they look at the individual characteristics of the styles and work with those.

What I mean is there is no point taking a 5 minute mile runner whose running form makes them look like theyve been shot or something, doing loads of coaching to make them this graceful forefoot striker with perfect poise and balance who clocks 5:10 miles.

Is there?

Ideally you would look at this individual and work a couple of form tweaks to help them become more efficient so they can run 5 minute miles for longer or to help clock a 4:55 mile. 

Its not about making a beautiful runner out of someone, its about running beautifully and efficiently within your body’s capabilities and recognising the difference. 

P.S. the ‘ugly’ runner on the right is Priscah Jeptoo who won +Virgin London Marathon today in 2:20:13