Suzy Monds – New York Marathon

Marathon Training

Suzy Monds is this months ‘Client of the Month’. At the end of October she headed off overseas with an ambition goal of running the Polar Circle Marathon and Half Marathon, then a week later the New York Marathon. This is the second part of her story. Read the first part here

Suzy Monds – Polar Circle Marathon

New York Marathon – November 2016

I arrived in New York straight from the extreme cold of minus 25 degrees in Greenland late on Friday night. Saturday was the day to get your registration and attend the huge sports expo attached to the marathon. WOW so big! An hour turned into 3 or was it 4 and quite an athlete’s dream place to shop, with lots of specials. My wallet was a lot lighter when I left I can tell you!!! Continue reading “Suzy Monds – New York Marathon”

How to Fuel For a Half Marathon

Fuelling for a Half MarathonThis post started out as an email response to a question about fuelling for a half marathon:

Previous advice during a race is not to drink the sugary electrolyte drinks and stick with the water. This stops the energy system switching from fat burning to sugar burning and back. What are your thoughts. Both isotonic drinks and water are available at the drink stations.

Continue reading “How to Fuel For a Half Marathon”

Book Review: Matt Fitzgerald – 80/20 Running

Tri Coach NZFitzgerald, Matt (2014) 80/20 Running – Run Stronger and Race Faster by Training Slower New American Library

I’ve been wanting to read this book since I heard it was published. Matt Fitzgerald is an engaging author who researches his topics thoroughly. He is a runner and a coach himself, but primarily a writer and has a number of books with a running or triathlon theme. Having finished 80/20 Running I’ve moved on to reading another of his books – Iron War which I have been wanting to read for many years. This is the story of the race to win the 1989 Hawaii Ironman.

Back to the book in hand.

This book is really great at helping you understand the science behind by why Arthur Lydiard’s training programmes and philosophy were so successful. Although it refers to a large body of scientific evidence, it is written in  such a way as not to overwhelm you with science, but simply written in layman’s terms which help you clearly understand each concept as it is introduced and discussed.

The main premise of the book is that 80% of your training is conducted at a low intensity and the remaining 20% is conducted at moderate or high intensity. For those that use the training intensities that I use in my coaching that is roughly equivalent to Level II, Borg 2-3, PZ3 or the Endurance Power or HR Zones.

This book is a great read for anyone participating in endurance exercise whether for sporting goals or health and fitness goals who would like an understanding of the ‘why’. Why is your training better and more beneficial at the lower intensity? It is also an exceptional read for coaches who would like to be reminded about the most proven training philosophy that has created the most successful athletes ever.

Reading this book has reinforced to me that I am doing the right thing with the training programmes that I produce and will continue to do so.

I don’t sell anything on this blog, the link above to Amazon allows you to purchase the book at the best price available. Amazon give me a small credit if you click the link and purchase the book through them. I would greatly appreciate it if you are going to purchase the book that you use this link.

If you would like further advice feel free to contact Coach Ray.

Coach Ray is the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi – Endurance Sports Consultant and is a prominent triathlon and marathon coach in New Zealand.

Coach Ray specialises in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. He can be contacted at and 021 348 729. Make sure you sign up to his monthly informative newsletter.

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It’s a Fine Line Between Listening to Your Body and Training Through an Injury

Triathlon Training NZIf you have a question you would like me to answer, click on this link here. This is a response to a question from a reader who askedWhen recovering from an injury, how fine is the line between listening to your body & working with the recovery to just pushing through, ignoring discomfort?

Maybe you are like John in this story here, who would just push on regardless of his injury and/or then try and play catch up with the training. That story is a cautionary tale that came right with the correct advice in the end.

However we need to get back on task and answer the question at hand. To purely answer the question the line is pretty fine. Push too far and you may find yourself re-injured again. Don’t bother trying to push yourself and you may never get back to full fitness.

The All Blacks and other elite level sports teams are surrounded by support staff to assist them get the best advice possible. You also need support staff, be it your doctor, physiotherapist, coach and other key people, depending on the nature of the injury.

The key to deciding how close to that line to push is not a sole decision. You also need to draw on the knowledge of your physiotherapist and doctor, as well as your coach. If your coach has a background and qualifications in Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation then they can be a great benefit to you.

The lead person making the decision at any one moment in time needs to be yourself, as often your coach, doctor or physiotherapist will not be right beside you whilst you are out training. You need to be responsible for driving yourself back to full fitness and not allowing yourself the excuse that you are injured. The information and guidance you receive from your support staff will assist you in making the decision of how hard to push you.

If your doctor or physiotherapist is saying ‘no running (or some other activity)’, then ask them “at what point can you commence running again?” Don’t accept the answer of in a few weeks or some other arbitrary time frame.  Ask them what physical tests can they get you to do to determine if you are ready to commence running again. Ask about the pathway to the solution to get back doing the activity that you currently can’t do. Have that as a goal and discuss it with all your support staff.

All injuries heal at different rates depending on a number of factors:

  • How fit and strong the injured part was when it got injured.
  • The nature of the injury (traumatic or overuse).
  • The duration you’ve had the injury.
  • What you’ve done since you got the injury.

What else can you still do despite being injured? Rather than getting down and out whilst being injured, look at what you can do. If you are a triathlete or multisport athlete you can focus on other aspects of your sport. If you are a single sport athlete, you can look at doing other exercise that will assist with developing key components of fitness for your sport. A marathon runner needs efficient heart and lungs and so does a cyclist, so maybe you can commence cycling whilst being unable to run to maintain or enhance the efficiency of your heart and lungs. Discuss this with both your physiotherapist and your coach.

Now back to that fine line. If it is physical pain you are trying to push through, this is no good and will put back both your training and your injury. However if it is discomfort from being unfit having not been able to train for a bit, then push on through it. There is a difference between the two, so listen to the cues your body is giving you.

Look for solutions from your support team and develop a plan to build you back to your previous fitness level.

Coach Ray is the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi – Endurance Sports Consultant and is a prominent triathlon and marathon coach in New Zealand. He holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Sports Medicine and a Post Graduate Diploma in Rehabilitation from the University of Otago, along with other tertiary qualifications.

Coach Ray specialises in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. He can be contacted at, and 021 348 729. Make sure you sign up to his monthly informative newsletter.

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Kepler Challenge – What an Adventure

Heather wrote an article a few weeks ago about her training in the great outdoors as she trained for the Kepler Challenge. This is her race report for the Kepler.

I was expecting to do the event in about 10 hours, but it took me 11 hrs 25 mins and 49 secs.  My left piriformis was really niggly a few days before (all the usual things didn’t make it feel better so I knew it was going to be a problem – bugger), and the stiff muscle morphed into a sore hip which then led to a really sore knee. Bugger.  Didn’t stop me though!

The race went well and I stuck to my plan.  The climb to Luxmore was easier and less steep than I expected (easier than the Pukaka/Mt Robertson climb).  The weather was rather extreme on the tops: gale force wind, rain/sleet, wind chill of -6˚.  I was running in all my gear (overtrou included) and I managed to stay warmish, but if I stopped I got cold very quickly.  I was being blown around by the wind which was a little nerve racking, but I found the conditions quite exhilarating.  Coming down off the tops on the long down was great fun – especially when I got out of the wind and rain – and I was laughing as I was running.  I realised at that point that I was going to finish!

Left Iris Burn hut in really good shape.  Legs were strong, nutrition and hydration were spot on and I felt amazing.  Plan was to run 15, walk/run 5 then run the last 10km.  I was feeling so good that I had to slow my pace down.  Unfortunately I started to get sore in my hip about 5-7 km, then in the knee about 10km.  I started power walking and walked the last 18km.  Luckily I had practiced power walking. The last 5 km were slow and painful but I finished.

All I could think about was imagine what I could have done if I hadn’t had a sore knee. I think I’ve been bitten by the Kepler bug.

I was surprised by my physical fitness, my physical endurance and my mental toughness.  I felt at the finish that if I hadn’t had a sore knee, I could have kept on going. My feet and legs were OK.  I was really surprised by that.

Thanks for the training and the encouragement – I DID IT!!!!

– Heather Collins

What are the Consequences of Missing a Workout?

What are the consequences of missing a workout? Although this isn’t a common question the implications of the answer affect anyone following a training plan. A training plan is only as good as the adherence to this plan. As a result I am often asked “What do I do if I miss a session?” but before I answer the more common question I will explain what I refer to as the ‘Why factor’. The ‘Why factor’ will help provide you with the information as to why that is the case.

Lets look at a hypothetical training programme that goes for a 4 months building up to an event with 6-10 workouts per week. So that is a total of between 96 & 160 workouts as part of that build up. If you miss one workout over that 16 week period, that is somewhere between about 0.5% & 1% missed or a consistency rate of about 99-99.5%, which is pretty damn good and I don’t think I’ve had any client that consistent (although a couple spring to mind that might have got close). Lets look at the other end of the spectrum of someone who constantly misses a session or two per week.  That represents missing 10-33% or a success rate of between 67% & 90%. Now only missing 1 session a week when there are 10 sessions to do, represents  a success rate of 90% which is pretty good in anyone’s books, but when there are only 6 workouts in that week then that drops to 83% which is starting to get pretty thin on the ground and consistently missing sessions is far from optimal, especially if that is every week without fail.

The key to successful training is consistently doing that training. This is the time of year where there are other distractions that take you away from your training, which takes you away from your goal.

As a coach I am not worried if one of my athletes misses one session once in every blue moon, but if they are missing a session week in and week out then lets be honest they are also setting themselves up for failure. Especially if that is a key session or consistently the same session. A key session for a cyclist is the Long Bike Ride and as a coach if I set that every Sunday morning for them and they are consistently missing it for what ever reason they are missing a key opportunity to condition their body and develop their aerobic energy system. Maybe they are trying to set a PB for 10km and their Wednesday Interval session gets missed constantly. This session is what will give them speed and the ability to buffer lactic acid, missing this session will potentially mean they miss their goal time. If you are missing the same session every week (regardless of the reason why you miss it) it will severely limit your ability to develop the component of fitness that that particular session was developing. It is in your best interests to get this session done, but how? Do you double up somewhere else in the week or do you try and catch up by doing it on your rest day?

Lets look at what happens in these situations. Firstly lets look at why we have a rest day. By the way, I like to schedule training that will improve you without being physically demanding on your rest day, hence why I schedule Flexibility Training for you. I’ll discuss the benefits of Flexibility Training further down this piece. But the key is that a Rest Day (or a day that only involves Flexibility Training) allows your body to recuperate and repair itself. When the body does this as a response to training it makes itself a little bit stronger, a little bit more powerful and a little bit more efficient than it was previously. Without recovery between sessions like this your body never gets this chance to develop. This IS the reason why we conduct training (to make our bodies better). Without the recovery our bodies don’t and can’t improve.

So what happens if I just double up my training on another day and do both my scheduled training and the training I missed from earlier in the week? It’s seems fair enough that if I do more training than scheduled then I will surely get better right? Not so fast. I’ll use the example of a client who did all their training from the weekend and squashed it into a single 12 hour period. Don’t get me wrong, it was an epic training stimulus, but a training stimulus is only as good as the recovery from that training load. As this person works they had a big training session scheduled on Saturday and then another one on Sunday in a different sport. If the programme was done as planned they would have had the opportunity to recover (nearly fully) from the Saturday session overnight as they slept.  They would have been relatively fresh on Sunday for the next big session that was planned. What actually happened was they did the first big session, then jumped in a vehicle and drove to the venue where they were conducting the next session and conducted it. As they hadn’t really got much recovery prior to the second big training session, they wouldn’t have got much benefit from that training session and consequently loaded themselves up with a great load of training that they now need to recover from before they would start to see any improvements. As a consequence, their training over the following days (whilst they continued to recover) will also be compromised.

I hope from these two examples you can see that there is no benefit to trying to catch up with the training that you missed. What should you do? If you miss a training session, acknowledge that you missed it (it isn’t the end of the world) and just move on with the remainder of the training and don’t worry about catching up. If you are missing the same session each and every week, talk to your coach about why you struggle to do that particular session at the scheduled time and look into solutions that involve scheduling the week differently so that the key sessions are scheduled and then conducted at a time that ensures that you can get them done.

As an aside a number of my athletes are training for a major event, but like to include low key local races as part of the training and preparation. This I fully support where it doesn’t impact the key sessions of training for what they are ‘focussing on’. There are some great benefits physiologically to doing this type of racing. It is also a great way to be involved in sport socially and support local clubs and events. But if this low key event doesn’t totally line up with preparing you for your key event it might not be the best thing for your long term goals. Further more, if this local event (or event series) then leaves you too tired to do the most important training sessions of your build up…….is it setting you up for failure?

Earlier in this piece I said I would discuss the benefits of conducting the flexibility training. There are two key reasons why I schedule the flexibility training into the programmes of my athletes.

  1. Enhanced recovery. By taking the time to stretch and focus purely on stretching with no distractions, you can relax into each stretch and slowly lengthen out each muscle being stretched. This has been shown to be therapeutic and to enhance recovery. The perfect activity to conduct on a rest day.
  2. Decreased risk of injury. Training by it’s nature shortens muscles, although some forms of training can lengthen muscles.  In general repetitive activities such as running and cycling etc shorten the muscles. By conducting flexibility training, the stretching helps lengthen the muscles returning them towards their original length.

Further to the two key reasons a third reason to do the flexibility training is to increase the range of motion at a joint that can then turn into a performance advantage that allows you to increase your mechanical efficiency  i.e. to make you faster. We all want that.

In summary, rest and recovery is very important part of your training but you are only ever going to be as good as the consistency of the training that you do. So if you miss a training session for what ever reason, don’t try and ‘catch’ that session back up if it is going to compromise your recovery from the other training that is scheduled for you.

If you would like further advice feel free to contact Coach Ray.

Coach Ray is the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi – Endurance Sports Consultant.

Coach Ray specialises in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. He can be contacted at, and 021 348 729. Make sure you sign up to his monthly informative newsletter.

Share this post so your friends can benefit as well.

My Awesome Weekend Completing the Queenstown 2015 Marathon

Marathon Training NZMy name is Barb Frost. I am 46 years old and I have been a runner for 10 years. I have never felt the need to enter any running events previously but 2015 has been a big year of change for me. I decided I needed a challenge at the start of the year and entered the Hanmer Half Marathon which I completed on the 2nd of May in just under 2 hours.

Not satisfied with that I decided I needed a new goal and planned to enter the Queenstown Half Marathon BUT in what I later call my moment of temporary insanity I registered to do the Full Marathon. I enlisted the help of Ray as my coach 6 weeks out from the Queenstown Marathon as I felt my current level of training was burning me out.

The scenery on the course was stunning.  The camaraderie among the athletes was unexpected for me and the whole experience was amazing! I am excited to say that I completed the full marathon in under my original time estimate of 4 and a quarter hours, coming over the finish line at 4.07.40. The early morning training runs in the freezing cold and pitch black of winter were WORTH THE EFFORT! I have now set myself a new goal – the Motatapu Off Trail Marathon on the 5th March 2016.