Comparison is the Thief of Joy

“Comparison is TheThief of Joy”
~Theodore Rosevelt

Pretty much being a runner these days results in comparison due to apps like garmin connect, strava, suunto.

When you focus too much on what everyone else is doing however and how they are progressing, you only see how far you have to go instead of seeing how far you have come already.

Not only does comparison leave us with self-doubt and lack of confidence, but it also prevents us from being present in the moment and enjoying the process. Being completely engrossed in the now is hugely important when it comes to running guys.


You need to celebrate and enjoy your own small successes each week instead of just being focused on the end results and wanting instant gratification because these little successes will build up to big results in the long run.

Once your heart is in your own training that’s all that matters.

Write down and plan your goals that feel true to you, not someone else!

Be sure to train within yourself, stop looking for instant results.

Yes, you can be certainly be inspired by others but don’t compare yourself to them too much as this may leave you feeling self doubt, lack confidence and completely deflated.

We all have our own reasons for running, our own motivation so find out what works and what doesn’t work for you.

Believe in your abilities, track your progress, cherish the journey❤


Variables include running experience, training history, relative speed, strength and endurance, injury patterns, recoverability and therefore no two runners should train in precisely the same way.

Any degree of uncertainty can block your path
and there will be obstacles along the way but this is how you will learn how bad you want it and how you will grow as an athlete.

Stay focussed, stay committed to your goals, its you vs you

So comparison is the thief of joy, but competition is the harbinger of character- especially when you focus on simply competing with yourself.

Hill Blasts/Hill Sprints

Hill Blasts🏃‍♂️⛰⛰

Increase power, speed and injury resistance.

Not only do runners need to have an endurance base to build of but they also need a speed foundation.

Sprint training for distance runners is essential to serve as general speed but unfortunatelyit is underutilized. When done correctly, injury risk is low.

They are effective and essential for all runners who wish to improve and to be competitive.

Distance runners should use hills in their training to gain the many benefits available to them.

Hill sprints tests your neuromuscular system.

To train fast twitch fibres effectively, we need to provide a stimulus which activates them and quickly overloads them.

Short 10-12 sec max intensity effort against gravity with a full recovery (2′)will achieve this👌

Hill training when done correctly is a safe and effective way to improve your performance and develop power and muscle elasticity

✔Works on mechanics and pure sprint speed

✔Develops coordination

✔Develops control and stabilization

✔Nervous System Adaptations

✔Developing a variety of training alternatives is also important to prevent overuse injuries and maintain motivation

Nice adaptations with muscle stiffness and reactivity.

Not only do hills provide runners with stronger, faster muscles, but they spend less time on the ground(decreased ground contact time).

A primary goal of any training is to utilize as many muscle fibres as possible so that adaptations can occur to make them more efficient.

Training on hills increases the amount of muscle fibres being used and in the number of different muscles that would otherwise not be used, always important if you want to increase performance as it increases muscle fibre pool which the runner can access.

Running hills can teach form in a way that can’t be taught on the flat as the body is in some ways forced into being more efficient.

Running is essentially a series of single spring like hops.
A certain amount of force needs to be applied to the ground to propel the athlete forward.
The most specific form of plyometric training for runners is essentially sprinting.

Steep hill sprints/blasts can be used as a method of power development to start with and then progress slowly to flat sprints on the track.
The emphasis shifts slowly from power development to a more plyometric type effect and more specific running form.
Starting with just a few blasts (running in the best technical model)
e.g 2-4 with a full recovery of 2-3′ and increasing the volume very progressively up to 10-12.

It is very important that you don’t decrease your recovery time as you lose the intensity and effectiveness of your sprint and use a different energy system. We dont want to accumulate lactate here!

The athlete should focus on a running technique which has vigorous arm drive and high knee lift, with the hips kept high, so that they are ‘running tall’, not leaning forward.

Pure speed work provides the foundation on which to build upwards towards race specificity.

Poceed with caution until you get over the hump of those early adaptations.

Hill training is an opportunity to grow.

5 Common Training Errors and How to Fix Them

1. Too Much Too Soon.

We can’t rush the process of athletic development. It takes time and patience. It takes many years of consistency and patience in training to gain any insight into your running potential.

Don’t increase too much at once (volume,intensity, frequency) A guide is close to 10% rule but this is dependent of course on your goals, your time frame that you have, your individual ability.

Consistency is key and building gradually, only change one thing at a time. This is key to success in your running.
Endurance training can be monotonous at times and you don’t always see quick results but patience in the process delivers time and time again.

2. Too Much High Intensity

We need to have a firm understanding of the basics and do them well. There is a belief that in order to get good results we must push ourselves in every single session. This however, leads to burnout and injury.

We get the benefits from our training doing low intensity runs, this allows us to keep training without picking up an injury. Also some athletes are much more resilient than others and will tolerate fluctuations in training. It is better to get to a start line slight undercooked than overcooked. It is important that we learn to listen to our bodies.
Core weekly planning. We need to think about how one session interacts with another and how one session influences the next one. Plan for recovery running.

Think long term, training is cumulative, you must earn the right to progress.

Don’t force training- don’t go there until you need to go there. The body doesn’t adapt to your schedule, it grows and adapts at a rate it decides to. We grow according to our current fitness and not where we desire to be.

Don’t demand more than what your body can deliver.

Training volume and consistency is the cake, intensity is the icing on the cake, making a cake is all about getting the order and proportions right ~Stephen Seiler

Training volume and consistency is the cake, intensity is the icing on the cake, making a cake is all about getting or the order and proportions right.

~Stephen Seiler

Workouts are not predictive, they are developmental-we are trying to change and evolve by manipulating workouts to keep getting better

3. Not Individualising Training

As runners, we tend to compare ourselves to others, we tend to look at people who train much harder and more frequently but we don’t think about what we are capable of, our training needs to be based on us and our capabilities for the level we are at at the moment, our previous injury history, external stressors etc.
We can’t expect to train like an elite athlete when we actually have a very different lifestyle.

Don’t train like your friend, it’s all about your goals and what training is right for you to achieve those goals at a level that works for you. What if you choose a plan that pushes you too hard too soon based on your current levels, you are just increasing your injury risk. It is so important that you choose the training regime that is right for you! The training load needs to be progressed appropriately and effectively for you to adapt! Be prepared also to bend a little in your plan if needed. Remember we train the individual not the system. The system should be fit around the individual. Any solid training system will eventually become the perfect training system for you if it is continually customized and refined for you

4. Rapid return to running after a break

This will be common now that people haven’t been able to get out training during quarantine. Don’t rush back doing what you were doing before the break if you did take a break or step it right back in volume and intensity.
When your body isn’t used to it, you will overload the tissues and a setback will ensue, time off is important but ease back into it when you return to training.

5. Inadequate Recovery

Running is tricky as it is all about restraint.
There is a fine line between preparing yourself adequately for a race or overtraining

This often happens when recovery gets sacrificed and neglected. Recovery is one of the most important components to any training plan for longevity in the sport.

We need to adopt this process of thinking–Train hard-recover harder.

We should be putting as much effort and planning into our recovery as we do into our training. Think about this in your training week, where can you put it in to your training plan to allow you to recover from those tougher sessions, also, think about a recovery week every 3 to 4 weeks- we can plan to build over 3 weeks for example maintain some sharpness in the 4th week but reduce the volume by 10-30%.

We are definitely not paying enough attention to this little detail.

Stress + Recovery =Growth

Stress without recovery leads to fatigue and poor performance. A lasting decrease in performance can be a sign of overtraining.

We must assess physical(training structure and progression)and psychological(work,family life, studying) stressors and plan recovery for both!

Optimise your sleep to reduce your injury risk 7-9 hour sleep is optimum, we must try to plan and implement it effectively.

Sleep and nutrition are the 2 most powerful but underrated performance enhancers available to athletes use these wisely to reap the benefits.

Michelle Greaney
Level 2 AAI Endurance Coach

Success in Endurance Running

When it comes to paving the way for success as an athlete, preparation and planning is critical.

A good overall yearly plan and well executed preparation will make it far less likely that you will fall short in actual performance.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’ ~Benjamin Franklin

  1. Consistency

The number one route to improved performance is to aim for consistency with your training.

Concentrate on the task at hand, neither dwelling on the past nor looking too far forward. The only thing you can control is the present and when you focus on that and remain consistent, you will find your greatest success. Athletes must do everything in their power to stay healthy, injury free and consistent in their training for as long as possible.

Consistent daily improvements lead to big progress over time. Momentum is the backbone of progression.

Training consistently and building up gradually with the right structure and progression will reduce injury risk and improve performance. Don’t be ambitious with your paces in a workout just because you feel good, every workout serves a purpose!!! Remember we are trying to extend our ability to run at a certain pace.

Don’t rush development. Also, workouts are not predictive, they are developmental-we are trying to change and evolve by manipulating workouts to keep getting better

Recovery runs need to be emphasised as much as everything else and athletes are not paying enough attention to this little detail.

Each session should have a specific purpose, including your easy runs. Could you be hitting those quality sessions even better by going 30-60 seconds slower per mile when going easy. The potential gains here are huge, even beyond the obvious that the easier load on the body means you’re more likely to keep consistently training over weeks, months and years with a healthy body.

Too high a percentage of speed work in your training week will only lead to short term gains. If you are working hard for every single workout and pushing every single workout, you are showing up for the days when you really need to work with less to give basically defeating the whole purpose of that workout date. Maximise your results on tempo/speed days by taking the other days easy.

A well-designed training plan (that is adaptable and adjustable) specific to the athlete followed consistently will maximise results. It will have the proper mix of stress and recovery and ensures the right type of training occurs at the right time.

2. Variety

Variability is a runners best friend.

It is critical for all endurance runners of all levels to have plenty of variety in their training.

Creating added stimuli to your training aiding progression, helping prevent injury and keep an enjoyment factor to your training. Running on a variety of different surfaces is important too.

3. Listen to your body

This is the most important thing you can take out of training. Be body intuitive. You know your body more than any training plan does.

Your training plan does not know about the poor night’s sleep you had last night or how the last week of training took a little too much out of you. But you know this and you can listen to what is going on and respond to it to increase your longevity as a runner.

4. Don’t be afraid of change

If you are not responding positively to a certain type of training, then change it. All runners and athletes have different physiological and psychological make ups, so different types of training works for some and not for others.

5. Goals

A dream written down becomes a goal. You are holding yourself accountable for what it is you want to achieve. Make this dream a reality.

All athletes should set goals for themselves- reasonable and readily achievable short term goals along the way and also longterm goals. It also creates added motivation. How are you getting better today? What will you achieve today? How will you respond to failure and setbacks? This is what sets everyone apart. Will you take a set back in your stride knowing that it is all part of the process or let it get the better of you and give up?

Don’t have a yesterday attitude by dwelling on things that didn’t go well in a previous performance or a tomorrow attitude by procrastinating and not getting things done now.

Believe in your ability to succeed.

Be flexible and realistic with your goals. Accept that there are many ways to reach your objectives then you wont be disturbed by the changes you perhaps need to make.

6. Planning

After you have set your goals for the year ahead, it is important that you lay out a plan to help you achieve them, and to get there in the best possible condition.

Use a training diary and record everything so you can look back and reflect on things following a key race or a full season.

Also a plan should be written in pencil and not set in stone. Adjust as needed! Success in running relies on being able to make adaptations when necessary.

You need to evaluate, feedback is needed from a previous years training/racing to reveal areas that need improving or changing.

You need to decide the structure of the annual plan, are you peaking for 1 race or for 2 keys time during the year etc.

Decide your objectives and duration of each phase of annual plan

Preparation Phase (general and specific) This is the time of year that you lay speed/strength/endurance foundations to prepare for more specific training.

Competition Phase (pre comp and comp) More specific training and racing to allow you to be in the best possible shape to race. This phase only works well if you have prepared properly in preceding phase of training.

Transition/Recovery Phase This is the time of year that you allow tue body to transition from hard training and racing and focus on recovery before starting the cycle again.

Taking time off is a good idea, this is a vital part of the training process. Just as the body reacts positively to easy days of training between quality sessions, so can a bit of time away from training allow the body and mind to reach a new level of performance once back to a regular training schedule. (Supplementary training may minimise loss of fitness during the break from running)

We need to quantify training loads with our training cycles (need to look at volume/intensity/time/rate of percieved exertion (RPE)

7. Recovery

Sleep and nutrition are the two most underrated performance enhancers available to all athletes. Use these wisely and reap the rewards in your training and racing. Make your recovery specific to you. We need to monitor the following regularly:


-Sleep quality and duration

-Energy levels

Muscle soreness

-Resting Heart rate

-Cold/flu symptoms

-Fatigue and stress



8. Basics

Too many athletes seek to go after the advanced training methods before nailing the basics. Master the basic fundamental training areas, recovery methods etc. first before you try advancing your training. The basics when done well on a consistent basis lead to great results.

Understand the concept of each run you are doing. Know what is each run trying to accomplish.

As a runner, we want to run in the most efficient manner possible to limit wasting energy. Spend time working on your run mechanics to help you run more fluent and relaxed through run drills, strength and conditioning programme, hill running and strides/short sprints on flat & on steep hills. This combination will help you run more effortlessly.

9. Patience
The bottom line is that endurance training can be monotonous at times, you don’t always see quick results, you must deal with setbacks etc so patience in the process delivers time and time again.

Wishing you every success are you prepare for their next season😊

Michelle Greaney

Athletics Ireland National Level 2 Endurance Running Coach |Strength and Conditioning Coach 

Mental Toughness: What is it and How Can You Apply it to Your Own Training?

A common definition of mental toughness:

‘a personal capacity to deliver high performance on a regular basis, despite varying degrees of situational demands’

We can all relate to this where we have had the initial motivation to perform a task when the thought arises in our head before certain circumstances arise (weather, work, traffic etc) limits our capacity to perform the task as we 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 this, however what we must learn from this definition is that if we want to be mentally tough, we must focus on our behaviour and not our thoughts. You must behave in a mentally tough way and not just think about behaving in this way. Backing up day to day and week to week, regardless of the circumstances is the key to demonstrating mentally tough behaviours and will be the cornerstone to our success in our own goals for our running.

Dont think, do!

We can be in the best shape of our lives, but if we lack mental toughness when we toe the line, we may as well kiss our goal time goodbye.

When you set your goals and select your race whether it is a 5k or marathon or triathlon , you need to be diligent and committed to the cause.

  • Dive into it, live it, breathe it, trust your training.
  • You must be prepared to go to bed pretty tired and wake up tired regardless of your level of training.
  • Identify the barriers that may prevent you from achieving your goal and work out how to get around them (days and times and length of time you can train for), family and work commitments)
  • Plan your programme, be flexible with this.
  • Commit to the training required.

If you are serious about running a marathon or doing a triathlon, then you must be serious about making the commitment. Getting to the start line has nothing to do with chance and everything to do with preparation and work ethic.
You must give 100% of what you have, you must challenge your mind. Harness the power of your mind to help you to succeed. You must get to your place of struggle and push past it. Focus on the task at hand. You are building the character of the person that you want to be.

The hardest part of running, cycling or swimming is how we think about these disciplines. Your mental relationship with them defines your experiences. By focussing more on the mental side of things, you can boost your confidence before your key races and build intrinsic motivation so that you are training and racing for the right reasons.
A big avenue for improvement is mastering your mindset and improving your confidence, willingness to suffer sometimes and find the motivation to run consistently.
Resist the urge to quit, embrace difficulty, and respond positively to setbacks.

The 4 C’s of Mental Fitness-Commitment, Confidence, Control & Concentration

Commitment-ability to continue working toward your agreed goals. After you set your goal, relentlessly pursue, persist through obstacles and take pride in what you are doing along the way.

Confidence-belief in your abilities. It speaks volumes. A state of mind that comes from knowing you have the ability to meet the demands of situations you are likely to face. Knowing you are prepared physically and mentally. You can influence your own confidence, it can vary up and down so it takes constant nurturing. Your confidence and your trust in your training can 100% aid your performance in workouts and race day.

To build your confidence, you must reflect on past training and performances, remember the successful performances, visualize how it went and felt, all your hard work paying off, focus on the positives.

We need to exercise control over our self talk, the influence of our thoughts may be either positive and self enhancing or negative and self defeating.

Speak kindly to yourself 🙂

Control-ability to maintain emotional control regardless of distraction. Until you control yourself, you cannot control your performance.

Thoughts and feelings ⇒ Actions and behaviours. Don’t let the fear of failure control your emotions. Deal with performance anxiety long before race day. It really boils down to a single choice. We have a choice when the going gets tough to either listen to those thoughts or steer them in a positive direction that helps support our desires. It’s really just the art of paying attention and the privilege of shaping that choice to persevere and every choice either takes us closer to or further away from our goal. We must train with a positive attitude every day.

We train to build and race to test. If we remove performance anxiety from the daily training environment then we are starting to understand endurance disciplines.

Concentration-ability to maintain focus. Focus mental effort on the task at hand. Don’t ride the line of in-between, there are black and white decisions that we have to make in training workouts and race situations

mental toughness 2

Michelle Greaney (Personal Trainer and Level 2 National Athletics Ireland Endurance Coach)

MG Coaching-Maximising Your race Potential

5 Running mistakes to avoid

1. Not allowing enough time to achieve your goal
2. Going too hard on your easy days (intensity blindness)

3. Not being consistent
4. Ignoring strength training
5. Over emphasizing stretching

The underlying basis for setting goals is to discover new running limits and explore our individual running potential. Goals may include running a certain mileage over a certain period of time (week, month or year), running personal best times, running a certain event (10k, half marathon or marathon) The positive feeling when we reach these goals are extremely rewarding and uplifting.

Leave no stone unturned in your pursuit to reach your goals.

Avoid these common pitfalls

1. Not allowing enough time to achieve your goal.

You must allow an appropriate lead in time to achieve a certain running goal. When you don’t allow enough time, you are going to get frustrated and succumb to anxiety and pressure and feel you are behind in your preparations.

This may result in cramming training in the form of significant volume, intensity or even both. It may also result in removing rest days. Don’t! this can increase the risk of developing an injury.
You can’t short-cut your physiology! Gains must be made in due course with training.

2. Going too hard on easy days.

Many runners fail to run easy on their easy days and then they don’t have the energy to run fast on their really important training sessions. Running too hard is the single greatest detrimental mistake in running.

The tendency to run what should be an easy paced run at a moderate effort is most likely hindering the progress of a lot of runners. It is difficult for many runners to make peace with the concept that if they want to run faster, they need to slow down in some of their training sessions. Easy days are a crucial component of your training. To improve running and performance, you need to correctly balance training and recovery so that your body can positively adapt.
An appropriate number of easy days in between bouts of stress is vital for harder efforts during your workout days to be beneficial. Just as the planned hard workouts in your running programme serve a purpose, so too do your easy days. Easy days support growth and adaptation. Slow easy running helps to flush oxygen rich blood through the legs and heals micro tears and other damage that workouts and long runs create. Mitochondria, capillaries and blood flow to muscles are increased so they are better able to utilize oxygen.
So, slow down, keep your easy days easy to allow your body to rebuild and reset after a hard workout and before the next big workout.

Maximise your results on tempo/speed days by taking the other days easy consistently.

3. Not being Consistent

Consistency is the key to success, for runners of all levels, the key to improvement is consistency, structure, variation and patience!

The number one route to improved performance and forward progression is to aim for consistency with your training.

Training consistently and building up gradually with the right structure and progression will reduce injury risk and improve performance.

4. Avoiding strength training

Strength training has long been overlooked as a crucial component of a runners training. Many runners believe that strength training will bulk them up with muscle mass and subsequently impede their running ability. This is not the case with maximal strength and reactive strength training, you will not bulk up and put on extra muscle mass.
Strength training does however improve your stability, postural control, strength, rate of force development (power) and running economy, improves time to exhaustion at maximal aerobic speed and improves performance.

Running Economy is the oxygen cost of maintaining a given pace. A stronger athlete with appropriate strength, stability and mobility will cover the same distance more efficiently than an athlete who has poor RE.
Runners with good RE have greater stride length and frequency than those who struggle to control their technique due to a weak body.
Prehab work will focus on strengthening supporting muscles to facilitate proper biomechanics to avoid injury.

Strength training reduces sports injuries to less than 1/3 and overuse injuries can be almost halved. For a sport in which there is a high percentage of overuse injuries, why would you not do something so extremely valuable and reduce this injury risk?
Also, you will seldom come across a rehabilitation programme that doesn’t include strength training. Strength training will minimise imbalances and weaknesses to improve the body’s capacity to endure whatever training and competitive loads we throw at it, enabling us to perform harder and longer before we find a weak link and something is overloaded.

You want are neurally induced gains in strength and muscle fiber recruitment. Max strength training component aims to fatigue the muscle between 4 to 6 reps for 4/5 sets with an extended rest period between sets.

5. Over emphasizing stretching

Many runners over attribute the importance of stretching for their ambitions to run injury free and faster. It’s not bad, it just gets too much attention though it can have a place in some runners weekly program. There is however no evidence to suggest that static stretching significantly improves performance or reduces the prevalence of the common injuries in endurance runners. Acute stretching can reduce running economy and performance for up to an hour by diminishing the musculotendinous stiffness and elastic energy potential by reducing the recoil of them. If you reduce the reactive force enough, then you’re not going to spring, your flight time is going to decrease and you will get from A to B in a slower time.

If we use the idea of a pogo stick generating enough force to travel through the air to increase your flight time, then why would we try to loosen that spring up as much as possible by stretching. Strength will give you stronger springs, not stretching!

You are only going to inhibit your running
Stretching does not appear either to reduce the longevity or intensity of DOMS.

Don’t stretch just because other runners stretch.

Time spent stretching is better spent strength training working on exercises which have been shown to be very beneficial in the reduction of injury and optimization of running performance.

Goodluck with your training everyone 😊

Fartlek Training

Fartlek, a staple workout adds freshness to your training by varying paces and terrain over a continuous run.

From the Swedish meaning- ‘speed play’ is defined as periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slow recovery jogs.

The basic idea is to run hard during the ‘on’ section and try to recover on the ‘off’/easy section while maintaining a continuous run.

This occurs over a predetermined time period or distance. The focus is on being able to change and sustain different paces and being able to surge when needed.

It challenges the body to adapt to various speeds, conditioning you to become faster over longer distance.

It is great for a variety of fitness levels and can be customized according to personal preference and what your current training situation is.

Fartlek can be structured or run off feel. It can train and improve all energy systems with a range of speeds from aerobic to anaerobic running. It keeps things interesting while allowing you to run according to how you feel.

There are endless combinations of times/distance, paces, terrain to make your fartlek’s interesting. This training provides a lot of flexibility so you can do a high intensity session to really challenge yourself or a lower intensity session if you are tapering for a race or coming back post injury.

Fartlek training can be used to achieve different end goals, but it stays true to its original Swedish meaning, ‘speedplay’, a game of varying pace running.
Try to remain disciplined and compete the workout. Remain controlled and relaxed during the faster efforts and remember that the

recovery is part of the workout too! As you practice these, you will become more aware of your body’s limits and know what pace you are capable of running your efforts and recoveries.

They are a great way to get a hard and beneficial workout in without the mental stress of interval sessions where everything is measured precisely.

The key to successful fartlek running is in the recovery segment. It should be a decent float, not jogging especially for longer duration on/off’s as it is good to keep the heart rate up for the duration.

Instead of putting all your effort into the fast sections and struggling through a very slow recovery, you should control the fast section and maintain a better pace on the recoveries. This way, you will teach your body to recover whilst running at a fast pace.

You increase lactate levels during the ‘on’ sections, then your body must clear the lactate during the recovery segments in order to be ready to go hard again for the next fast effort.

Essentially, you are teaching your body to become better adapted to cope with and removing lactate at a faster pace during your recovery which will transfer to race day and allow you to race faster. This is when you really start to see your endurance take a positive turn.

This a particularly important mechanism for all 5k- marathon runners regardless of actual race speed.

Shorter faster sessions can also be used to improve speed and running economy.


The classic Mona Fartlek
20 minutes fartlek with rec the same as hard effort. It is a mixture of long and short intervals which is very demanding.

2 x 90s w/90s rec
4 x 60s w/60s rec
4 x 30s w/30s rec
4 x 15s w/ 15s rec

The classic and basic Canova Fartlek

20 x 1’on/1′ off

10 x 2′ on/1′ off

You can also use a basic combination of 12 x 45 sec hard/90 sec easy starting out for 5k training for example and build from there.

This is one of my fartlek sessions that I did last year. The efforts were increased as the length of ‘on’ section decreased.
6 x 90s on/45s off, 3′ easy, 8 x 60s on/off, 3’ easy, 3’, 8 x 30s on/45s off

3 x (4′ @ threshold, 2′ easy, 3 x 1′ hard, 1′ easy)

1’/2’/3’/2’/1’/2’/3’/2’/1′ hard with equal recovery

Always begin with at least a 10-minute warm up and a few strides to get the body prepared for the faster stuff to come in the session.

Strides are essentially short repeats of approx. 100m at faster speeds with plenty recovery. They develop neuromuscular coordination and efficiency at high speed. They are generally done at mile pace depending on your goal. Concentrate on maintaining good form and staying relaxed. They should feel choppy-legs should be turning over quickly.
Avoid tensing the neck, shoulders and arms. Tight muscles, clenched jaws and excessive movement all inhibit the body’s ability to run fast.

Enjoy getting creative with your new training sessions and following the government guidelines re social distancing and exercising within your 2km radius:)

Michelle Greaney

Athletics Ireland Level 2 Endurance Coach


Running Efficiency

While most of the time the focus is on capacities, or how big our engine is, the real key is often how efficient a runner is. Endurance is about supporting speed and being physiologically and biomechanically efficient. Distance runners maximise their mechanics for efficiency of movement.

The three types of efficiency we are concerned with are:


These 3 combine to create total efficiency.
Running economy (RE) is one of the physiological parameters for running performance and used to measure total efficiency.

It uses oxygen intake to represent energy use and is defined by how much oxygen it takes to cover a given distance at a fixed speed. Or, it also relates to the amount of oxygen used by an athlete when running at a constant (submaximal) running speed.

RE significantly correlates with running performance. RE can explain up to 65% of variation in race performance.

RE is a measure of gross efficiency, meaning that it is the result of both internal and external components so that mechanical, neural and metabolic efficiency play a role.
<Short ground contact times,

<higher cadence (greater stride frequency)

<and higher knee and lower ankle stiffness are associated with better RE.

Trained runners who exhibit greater neuromuscular activation prior to and during ground contact, in turn optimizing spatiotemporal variables and joint stiffness will be the most economical runners.
Factors that affect Running Economy
Running economy is one of the most important factors in determining distance running performance.
Up and Down Movement
Uneconomical runners expend more energy bobbing up and down when they run than do more economical runners who tend to glide over the ground with very little vertical oscillation. Excessive up and down movement is a waste of energy.
Muscle capacity to store energy
With each running stride, the muscles of the landing leg store impact energy as they contract eccentrically to absorb the shock of landing. Most of the stored energy is then used during the concentric muscle contraction that propels the body forward during the next stride. We can use elastic recoil provided by the tendons, contribute a significant proportion of the energy for propulsion (35%) at least when running on flat terrain.
Biomechanical efficiency refers to anything that impacts the mechanical cost of running. Factors such as elastic energy storage and return, the mechanics of the stride itself, how the foot lands and the structure of the runner contribute to biomechanical efficiency, how wasteful a movement pattern is. If these factors are optimized, then less energy is required to cover a given distance.
There are several mechanisms that can improve biomechanical efficiency, one of the most important being the Stretch Shortening Cycle (SSC). A spring-like mechanism where a muscle is actively stretched and then immediately contracts. During the pre-stretch portion, energy is stored in the series elastic components of the muscle, then energy is then released during the contraction part. The amount of elastic energy return is dependant on length and speed of the stretch, stiffness of the muscle and the time between the stretch and subsequent contraction.
Muscle stiffness strongly correlates with RE. In general, a stiffer muscle will store more energy and the SSC works best when a stiff muscle is rapidly stretched and contracted with little time in between. Example of this is the calf muscle upon landing and subsequent toe off in running.
Stiffer (measure of leg compliance) muscles surrounding the ankle and knee create an increased SSC response which results in greater force on the subsequent toe off.
We always want to obtain optimal stiffness and energy return. Pre-activation, or tuning of the muscles to prepare for impact before landing is a way to actively manipulate stiffness of the system, resulting in greater storage of elastic energy.
The achilles tendon stores 35% of its kinetic energy. To properly utilize elastic mechanisms, the body needs to be in optimum position biomechanically and the tendons need to be trained to utilize the forces. Rapid movements such as sprinting and plyometrics train the tendons to be better able to utilize the energy.
Running with the ankle more plantar flexed, (more forefoot) allows the subsequent stretch reflex on the calf and Achilles-Calf complex to utilize more elastic energy than landing in a dorsiflexed position at heel strike where the calf complex is already in a stretched position thus minimizing the SSC. Ground contact time is also longer in heel strikers so there is more time between energy storage and release. More energy likely dissipates and is lost.

Maximising Elastic Energy Use
Reactive or plyometric training-Short hops, jumps and bounds with the focus on minimizing the amount of ground contact time will work! Sprinting is about the most specific form of plyometric activity that can be done for runners, yet it is often under-utilized. Doing 60-100m accelerations is a great way to work on using elastic energy. These will train you to reach force development faster, minimize ground contact and optimize the stiffness of the muscles and tendons.

The biomechanical model proposes that an important function of the muscles and of the brain and nerves that control their function, is to maintain the tension in the tendons when stretched at footstrike as well as during the first part of the of the stance phase of the running cycle. This then allows the spring (Achilles tendon and other structures) to be stretched actively. Return of the spring to its unstretched position at toe off then provides a good proportion of the energy needed for the next stride.

Neuromuscular Efficiency
Maximising rate of force development so that ground contact time is minimized creates a more efficient runner.
Neural efficiency is an improvement in the communication between the nervous system and muscles themselves. E.g, an improvement could occur via more refined motor programming.
Metabolic efficiency refers to the factors that impact on the production of energy for the muscles to use such as fuel source or oxygen delivery.
It is a balancing act to maximise total efficiency.
Strength training
The most important thing about strength training is it builds damage resistance. Athletes need muscles with superior efficiency, contractility, elasticity and fatigue resistance. Stronger athletes tend to have reduced risk of injury. Rate of Force (RFD) is of huge importance. Force capability is increased in stronger runners which improves their running economy and therefore overall performance. An increasing body of evidence shows that by incorporating an S&C program of heavy weights and plyometrics increases running economy by 4% (Barnes et al. 2013b; Burgess and Lambert 2010a; Saunders et al. 2004) A stronger and more stable athlete will cover the same distance more efficiently than an athlete with poor running economy.

Logo (2)It will improve neuromuscular function-improved muscular coordination and coactivation, increase the percentage of fast twitch fibres and improve tendon stiffness-all of which contribute to faster more economical running as well as reduced injury risk. Strength training is good practice, we should not dismiss something that has such a positive impact on our running performance and reduces risk of injury by improving mechanics and enhancing athleticism and ultimately prolonging your running career.


Distance runners-don’t neglect pure speed training/hill sprints or strength training, or you will continue to be inefficient over the ground.

Coaching – Maximise your potential for you to race at your best

The Foundation of success lies in careful planning to maximize your potential to reach your target time. A coach is a trusted partner in your quest to become better. I work with runners from the back, middle and front of the pack. If you are goal orientated and determined to reach your goals, I am here to help no matter what your pace.

To achieve great things, we need to be patient and take a long-term approach to training to grow, adapt and improve incrementally season after season. I am in favour of long-term goals, it cant all be about short term gains and successes. We should not seek instant improvement and chase get fit quick approaches to training.

My coaching ethos: coach the individual and not the system. Individuality of training is too often neglected and is extremely important. There is a large inter-individual response to training, both in the magnitude of response and in time frame for developing and retaining training effects. Every athlete is physiologically and psychologically different which affects the way they handle their training and how training should be adjusted accordingly.

The perfect training program doesn’t exist. We work with humans the most important variable in performance!
No two people are the same, everybody responds differently to training, everyone has different levels of fitness and limitations.

Program modifications are to be expected. I adjust to my athletes by being flexible and making modifications and adjustments to their training programs. To meet their individual goals and needs each step of the way, the goal of my training programmes are to have my athletes adapt over time but this is also my goal, I adapt also. A large emphasis is placed on adaptability, recoverability, variability all the while insuring durability of the athlete remaining a key focus.

I coach my athletes to successful results by designing time efficient programs and optimizing them to include everything they need. Family and work are the most important things and these cant be compromised. I build training sessions into their busy lives and integrate flexibility, guidance into the notes of the plan itself.

Also available is an option of a properly designed strength training programme which is among the lowest hanging fruits for improved endurance performance. Benefits include:

  • improve exercise economy
  • It can also reduce delayed fatigue in endurance performance, improve maximal strength and speed and endurance performance.
  • Reduce delayed fatigue, improve maximal strength and speed

After you sign up, you will receive an email with the questionnaire about your training and racing history schedule and goals. I will do a complete evaluation to determine your strengths and weaknesses as a runner. I will evaluate your goals and determine how to best advance you towards them.

I will email your new customized programme to you based on these. You will train optimally by avoiding the pitfalls that come with following a generic programme. Feedback is provided on an unlimited basis.
Program modifications are to be expected according to how you are adjusting, results from key workouts and based on family commitments.
The coach – athlete relationship is vital in terms of being able to adjust a schedule as things get in the way which they sometimes do.

GOLD Personal Coaching Package

Included with my GOLD personal coaching plan(designed for the person that wants a more personable coaching experience. It provides an attention to detail and communication approach. Guidance on all aspects of training)

  • Customized training plan delivered weekly, adjustments if necessary. Provides overview and description-detailed workout instructions to maximise your training and avoid injuries. The plan is tailored to your history, race goals and working/life commitments.
  • Coach interaction via email, calls and texts via WhatsApp.
  • Specific education on personal running paces and sessions. Specific warm up and drill routines for key sessions.
  • Advice on cross training and injury prevention.
  • Specific short term, mid term goals and long term planning
  • Strength training guidance where needed

Silver Personal Coaching Plan

This plan is for the person that wants a tailored program specific to their goals, fitness and ability but does not require one to one communication every day.

  • Customized training plan delivered monthly, adjustments if necessary. Provides overview and description-detailed workout instructions to maximise your training and avoid injuries. The plan is tailored to your individual history, race goals and working/life commitments.
  • Coach interaction and feedback with 24/7 email access.
  • Specific education on personal running paces and sessions

12 / 18 / 24 / 32 week options available


Are you on the Verge of Overtraining

Are we trying to achieve too much? While striving for perfection, we can demand more than our body can deliver.
The single most important reason runners are prone to overtraining is lacking the ability to make an objective assessment of our ultimate performance capabilities. I suppose we won’t accept we are mortal and that we have a built-in performance range beyond which training and other interventions cannot take us.
We believe that the harder we train, the faster we will run and we ignore the evidence that indicates that this is untrue.

Overtraining first leads to an impaired exercise capacity and is followed by a predictable range of medical and other complaints. Recovery occurs rapidly in those who wisely chose to rest as soon as any of the symptoms develop. Don’t continue to over train for months or years and risk developing a more serious condition.

Over trained runners find that while their minds are ready to run, their bodies would much rather be asleep in bed. The more their minds force them to train, the more their bodies resist until during a race, their bodies have the final say!!

Overtraining represents the most extreme example in which the central governor is maximally activated to ensure that we cannot exercise anymore and thus cause further damage.
In some runners, the first signs of overtraining are generalized fatigue, recurrent headaches, weight loss, loss of appetite for food or work, difficulty sleeping, early waking, inability to relax, worsening allergies, increased susceptibility to colds or flu, respiratory infections. All fail to understand why even though they are training hard, their race performances continue to deteriorate.
These runners have stretched their bodies beyond their individual breaking points.
Factors other than training alone can be involved.

Once athletes are even mildly over trained, they are already past peak condition and the only way to save the situation is to stop training immediately until the body is rested and the desire to return to run and compete again returns.

We lack the ability to make an objective assessment of our ultimate performance capabilities.
We believe that the harder we train, the faster we will run, and we ignore the evidence that indicates this is untrue. What do we do then? We train harder and run worse and then? We interpret our poor races as an indication that we have undertrained.
Consequently, we go out and train even harder.

The syndrome typically develops in one of 2 ways

1. Training very intensively for a protracted period or
2. Running a series of races in short succession, also following a period of intensive training.

Other important factors include inadequate recovery between days of intensive training and training monotony.
The combination of high training load with a monotonous training schedule is more likely to induce over training. Monotony creates a lack of mental and physical stimulus from which to adapt off of.  Instead of falling into your same pattern of training, introduce something new. Do a different workout type, go to different training venue, get out of the habit of having a set cycle and instead create modulation.

Don’t let your training progress from over reaching (generalized fatigue) to over training.
As long as your training performance is stable or improving, feeling tired does not in itself mean that you are doing too much!
Waking up tired and going to bed even more tired— clear signs of overtraining. Key to diagnosing overtraining is knowing when fatigue at either end of the day has become excessive.

Does your normal comfortable pace leave you breathless?
Do your legs feel heavy for far longer than usual after a hard workout or race?
Do you find it especially hard to climb up steps?
Do you dread the thought of training?
Do you have a persistent lack if appetite?
Are you more susceptible to colds, flu, headache or infections?
Is your resting heart rate persistently 5 to 10 beats higher than usual (reflects heightened activity of the sympathetic nervous system, reflecting the increased stress on the body and inadequate recovery?
Is your heart rate during exercise higher than normal?
Are there changes in your sleeping pattern.?

Without adequate rest periods, continued training at high intensities or load will cause and athlete to develop overtraining syndrome.
First signs is a fall in training performance.-Inability to produce your best when you are apparently in good form is the first sign of incipient sharpness.
Athletes who do not carefully monitor their training performances will never spot this subtle indicator. By comparing performances in identical workouts over the years, you can tell what physical condition you are in and as a result you will know what training is still needed to be done to produce your peak performance on the day that really mattered.

Monitoring your level of fatigue and resistance to stress of fast running should be done on the basis of heart rate and level of effort required to produce that performance. Some will argue that there is no need to measure by heart rate!!
If you have to run harder at a higher heart rate to achieve the same time, you have been training too hard. The body needs a period of rest and reduced training in order to do its best

Emotional and Behavioural Changes
*Loss of enthusiasm and drive-I don’t care attitude
*Desire to quit during a race
*Lethargy; listlessness; tiredness
*Inability to concentrate at work
*Impaired academic performance
*Changes in sleep patterns particularly insomnia
*Loss of appetite
*Poor coordination
*Feeling thirsty, Increased this intake at night,
*Easily irritated, anxious, unable to relax

Physical Changes
*Impaired physical performance, in particular, inability to complete routine training sessions
*Gradual Loss of weight
*Persistent increase in early morning heart rate of more than 5 beats per minute
*Abnormal rise in heart rate upon standing and during and after a standard workout
*Slower recovery in heart rate after exertion
*Postural hypotension
*Heavy leggedness, sluggishness that persists for more than 24hrs after a workout.
*Persistent muscle soreness that increases from session to session
*Swelling of lymph glands
*Increased susceptibility to infection, allergies, headaches and injury
*Loss of menstruation

Besides alterations in training and racing performances, the most effective predictors of the development of overtraining syndrome are measures of psychological state and training load.

4 best markers for monitoring overtraining are:
1. Performance on standard exercise tests
2. Self-analysis of well-being by the athlete
3. Profile of mood state
4. Sub maximal, maximal and post exercise recovery rates for heart rate, oxygen uptake and blood lactate concentrations.

Rate of perceived exertion (RPE) scale is a very valuable metric-Perception of effort (internal load) is a great predictor of performance and injury as it is sensitive to changes outside ie stress, sleep, personal issues. Respiratory frequency is strongly correlated with perception of effort.

How about tracking a range of other things on a 1-5 scale like:

*Mental exertion of Workout (MPE)

*Stress Level

*Energy Level


*POP-muscle tension (springiness/how the legs feel)

*Sleep hours/quality

*Overall performance (1-3 simple scale,  below average, average, above average0

Overtraining also affects brain function – the ability of the motors centre in the brain to activate enough muscle fibres in the active muscles during exercise. This acts as a protective mechanism by preventing us from continuing to train when in an overtrained state to prevent further damage. The sensory feedback from damaged muscles stimulates the central governor to ensure that only a small muscle mass is recruited during exercise.
Also the central governor stimulates other brain centres so that even mild exercise is perceived as being more strenuous than it really is.
Feelings of abnormal fatigue are the brains way of telling you to rest because you have already done too much.

We runners must learn to respect the messages that our bodies give us, especially if the message is that we have already done too much.
We need to appreciate the true nature of the human body which is fragile even though it can be trained to achieve remarkable feats. Training beyond your limit produces progressively poorer performances leading ultimately to overtraining.

Take a long-term view to running, your goal should be a progressive but gradual improvement.
Training should not always be of the same intensity and duration week in week out. You will progress best when you allow a suitable recovery period after each hard training session.

The race doesn’t go to the athlete who has suffered most in training but who trained smarter. To be good you need to train hard at a high-level but you must also allow your body time to recover, take some time off, run your easy runs a bit easier.
Reset, restore the balance of stress and recover, make your resilient to over training.
Be strong and courageous enough to hold back just enough to keep from reaching into the unwanted zone of overtraining.
Training is simple-stress-recover-adaptation
If there isn’t adequate recovery, then adaptations won’t take place and what’s it all for then?

Watch out for the warning signs
Don’t let training and racing greed reduce you to the walking wounded.


overtraining 2

Michelle Greaney

FB: MG Coaching