TDCR: We’re so lucky to have guest coach Chrissie Stephson give us her low down on how to be a better runner.
CS: Hey, have you started to succumb to marathon-fever that’s kicking off?
My world is getting really busy with runners asking the whats & hows of training, nutrition, and motivation as I coach people who lead busy hectic lives to running
success, taking away the confusion and making sure they do the right thing at the right
So I’m going to share with you some principles to guide your training. Through
research and trial in my own training and my clients, these seven key areas have been
a consistent foundation to performance improvement
01 – Lots of Easy Miles
The first key to success and consistent training is keeping most of your miles easy. This
is a pace you can carry on a conversation.
It’s these easy miles that develop our aerobic system, teach our bodies to utilise fuel
efficiently, and help in development of our muscle structure.
And it’s these easy days you increase mitochondria and capillaries and blood flow to
your muscles, without this, you can’t do the intense runs.
02 – Long Run
If you’re looking at marathon or half marathon training, the long run is integral. It’s vital
for developing the endurance your muscles need during the race. Not only this, but its
key to develop your nutrition strategy and mental resilience.
03 – Technique Work
Your running success is not solely driven by putting miles on your legs. The speed at which you run is primarily a function of how quickly your legs turn over, how long your feet spend on the ground, and how much forward propulsion is created in each stride.
Technique work has shifted many of my runners performance. Sessions are most
effective if done a focused manner – so you develop and enhance neural pathways and
develop effective muscle memory
04 – Strength Work
Strength work can do wonders for your running and also is very effective at protecting you from injury – and you don’t need to spend hours getting bored in the gym for it to be effective. If you do nothing else, work on core muscles (glutes and stomach) – not only do they promote stability, thereby energy isn’t unnecessarily wasted and injuries are minimised, but they also act as your power house. With them developed, every footstep will be stronger, and so you’ll run further faster with less effort I’m a big fan of unilateral work, so imbalances are ironed out, which has a huge impact on reducing injuries. Eg for glute medius go for clam shells over squats
05 – Build Slowly
You may be tempted to jump right in to bigger mileage, more speedwork, or more
advanced strength training. DON’T… Our bodies adapt to the changes in fitness over
time and need time to recover as we give it progressively more stress over time.
06 – Accountability and Support
One of the hardest things to do is not to get too carried away when the going’s good
And on the contrary, to flail when motivation is waning. Get the right people around you to help motivate you, hold you accountable and keep you on-track – and also (!) tell you when to ease off before you over-train and leave your self prone to weeks off from illness and injury.
07 – Eat Well
Eating enough and eating healthy foods is critical to staying healthy and training well.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins are essential ingredients to a
balanced diet and a healthy runner.
If you follow these 7 principles, you’ll be utilising great tools to help your running.
TDCR: So who is Chrissie? Tell us a bit about you.
CS: If you’ve never met me before, unlike many coaches, I am not from an athletic
background – far from it! My venture into the world of running didn’t start until I was 28,
and at the time it was humiliating. I could barely run round the block, let alone do something as ridiculous as a marathon. For me, that was what other people did. I honestly thought people who ran marathons were born differently to me, But oh how wrong I was. I started to challenge the assumptions I’d lived my life by, and started to not
only train, but learn how to train effectively. Through my own experience and that of runners I coach, I’ve learned how to keep injuries at bay and progress running, in a way that can fit a busy life. At the time, I was working ridiculous hours in the City, normally leaving home at 6:30 and getting back after 8:30. Stress was consuming, spare-time was not! And so I learned how to train 6 months later I did my first half ironman (swim 2k, cycle 56 miles, run a half marathon), and then went on to race with GB qualifying times and compete at Ironman
So maybe my body is made differently?
I have one organ that doesn’t work (my pancreas), and medics told me not that “I
should not” consider doing these events, but that “I could not”, Physically, my body, in their minds, couldn’t do it. But when I questioned and challenged the why not, none could substantiate their reason. And without a strong enough reason to not, or at least not to try my journey began. To this day, it is one of the journeys I am most glad I embarked on. My world opened up, and my life fundamentally shifted as a result.
TDCR: So how did you get into coaching?
CS: It was through the love of running that lead me to leaving the corporate world, so
I could qualify as a coach and help others. About 6 months into that journey, I was in an accident, broke my hip among other injuries, and told my leg may come off. That was 11 Nov 2016. I couldn’t walk for a few months. And without practice my body forgot how to do it. But I re-learned. And then I started to re-learn how to run. Why?, because running is magical, and very wonderful. Albeit no marathons since the break….. so far!
TDCR: So what motivates you as a coach?
CS: I want you to appreciate that you really really can do this, like myself, and all the
other runners I’ve coached. Take your mental barriers and start reframing them, and enjoy this incredible journey
Check out Chrissie and her run coaching at: www.runwithchrissie.co.uk
Or follow her on instagram: www.instagram.com/run_with_chrissie