4 Tips to Improve Your Performance by Resting More - From A Month Where I Ran More than 1,000km!

What is the Monthly Mileage?

The monthly mileage is a series of blogs where I tell you about my training and nutrition for my world record running attempt in May 2019.

I also include tips that will help you achieve your goals.

In February, my mileage actually decreased compared to January. And it included a lot of rest.

So February’s advice is all about how to use rest to improve your performance.

January’s monthly mileage blog included tips for staying focused when running very long distance.

Those were techniques I used in a month where I ran 1,240km (769 miles).

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What Were My Running Highlights for February?

Compared to January, February was a fairly easy month.

I ran 1,017km (632 miles).

Which was 221km (137 miles) less than January. 

Monthly MIleage (Feb).png

This was mostly because I took an entire week off running at the end of February for a family holiday to Colorado.

And the holiday did give me my highlight of the month...

…Watching my 4 year old daughter, Rosie, learn how to ski!

And then learn how to fly over her uncle on a sled!

Watch the super slow-mo video below to see it!

Watch Rosie, my 4 year-old daughter fly over her uncle on a sled - in super slow mo!

Huge credit to Sam Bryson. Who not only volunteered to be the coolest uncle ever by laying there… But also edited the footage to make it look awesome!

Usually this holiday would involve me skiing and huge amounts of beer and American food. 

But, because of my world record attempt in May, I didn’t do either.

I did use the time to spend lots of quality time with my family.

Which is especially important, because training recently has been tough on all of us.

No matter how many mornings I wake up at 4am, Catherine and my two daughters are still making huge sacrifices for me and my training. 

My running highlights included…

  • Being second in the world for total distance ran in February (momentarily) - On the Strava February running distance challenge I was momentarily second. Before having a complete rest week on holiday. Respect to Mike Shattuck who is attempting to run a marathon every day for the rest of his life!

  • Discovering the free Nike training app - Which I used to do lots of yoga in Colorado. It’s a really simple, easy to use app, with huge amounts of workouts that will benefit runners hugely

  • Mastering how to fall over - I fell over 3 times and learnt a good technique for not getting injured

  • A complete week of no running - For the first time in years. 

  • Creating one of the most detailed checklists in history - A daily checklist for my crew to use when supporting me for my LEJOG challenge. My favourite item on there is that my crew will have to wake up at 04:00. And I’ll get a lie in until 04:15!

My key running stats were:

  • 1,017km (632 miles) - Total distance ran

  • 36km (22 miles) - Average distance ran per day

  • Three back-to-back weeks of 300km+ (186 miles)

  • 70km (43 miles) - Longest individual run. With no support crew

  • 81 hours, 50 minutes - Total time spent running

  • 3,916 metres (12,850 feet) - Total elevation. The equivalent of climbing Mount Albert Edward in Papua New Guinea!

You can track my training by following me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Strava.

How Much Crap Did I Eat in February?

February was a very mixed month for my nutrition.

For the first 20 days, as my training was intense, my diet was also very good

Catherine was her usual supportive self. And cooked up some delicious low carb, high fat recipes including

  1. Macadamia Fat Bombs - This was the highlight of the month by far. A great treat which includes nuts, oil and chocolate!

  2. Lemon Cake Dessert - A very tart tasting dessert

  3. Chicken Thighs and Roasted Vegetables

And I even created my own masterpiece of a snack. Meat and cheese rollies with sliced ham, grated cheese and sriracha sauce.

So all was going well with the food…

… But then the holiday happened…

… In America. 

This is the country where it’s normal to have chilli for breakfast.

It’s normal to have cookie dough in a tub! - For those that don’t know, this is the cookie dough chunks that are in Ben &Jerry’s ice cream...

... But without the boring pointless ice cream.  

It is pure heaven!

And I classed it as healthy because I spooned it out with celery.  You can see it in the pic below.

It’s also normal to average more than 4,500 calories a day. Even when you’re not doing any exercise. 

Or at least it was normal for me for that week!

Other culinary highlights of the week included:

  • Cooking smores on a fire in the hotel… And then trying, and failing, to replicate the experience using a microwave in our room

  • Yoghurt covered pretzels

  • Trying bison for the first time. In a burger. Which is a lot tastier than beef. Again, I tried in vain to make it healthy by swapping the chips for broccoli. 

  • And a delicious home-cooked pulled pork recipe made by my brother-in-law, Sam. The same Sam who let Rosie jump over him on a sled. He’s a man of many, highly entertaining, talents!

My key food stats for February were:

  • 125,000 total calories eaten - Averaging 4,500 per day

  • 115,000 total calories burnt - Averaging 4,100 per day

  • 6,600 calories - Most calories consumed in a single day - On Saturday 9th February, when I ran 60km

  • 6,140 calories - Most burnt in a single day - On Saturday 23rd February, when I ran 70km

4 Tips for Improving Your Performance by Resting

Rest is one of the best ways to improve your performance

And it’s one of the most important parts of any training plan.

This is because it’s when the body adapts and improves from the training you’ve done previously. Which is called the principle of adaptation.

The Principle of Adaptation states that when we undergo the stress of physical exercise, our body adapts and becomes more efficient
— VeryWellFit.com

To get the benefits of adaptation, you should treat rest in the same way you treat any other part of your plan

And schedule it just like you would for a long run, tempo run or a strength training session. 

Here are 4 simple tips for improving your performance by using rest. 

1) Plan Rest Days

Pick at least one day every week that you are going to completely rest. 

If you’re new to exercise then you should have more rest days. But even elite athletes schedule time where they don’t exercise at all. 

If you don’t have time to recharge, it can lead to staleness and general apathy about training
— Bonnie Marks, Psy.D., staff psychologist at the NYU Sports Performance Center (quoted in Runner's World)

My own training plan includes a rest day every Sunday.

Which means I get to spend time completely with my family. 

Running takes up a lot of time during the week. And I often miss out on quality time with my family. Particularly on weekday mornings before I go to work. 

So my rest day on Sunday means that I can devote my time to my two daughters and wife. 

Plus, it allows me to recover mentally and physically from the last week. And prepare for the next big week of training ahead. 

Being flexible is also important. 

Even though my rest day is usually Sunday, I’ll often change it to a Saturday if we’ve got other plans.

2) Plan Rest Weeks

The idea of rest weeks is the same as rest days, but on a broader scale. Note - These are sometimes called ‘down’ weeks.

Typically, you will have a number of weeks where you increase your distance or your intensity. And then reduce it for a week.

Down weeks can be a great device in your training toolkit. When used properly, they can help you dodge injury and speed recovery after tough workouts and races.
— Runners Connect

I tend to have three big weeks, followed by a smaller week. But there are lots of variations of this. 

I also try to plan a rest week around a key moment, like a family holiday. 

For example, i knew my family holiday would be an ideal time to have a rest week. Where I wouldn’t have to worry about running and I could make the most of the the time with my daughters and wife. 

So my coach and I planned it so that I would have three big training weeks leading up to the holiday. And be confident that my training wouldn’t suffer from a rest week.. 

3) Focus On Something Other Than Running

Some people struggle with what to do with all that spare time that you’re not training. 

So you should make specific plans for what to do with that time. 

First, plan time with your family and friends. 

Or focus on other things that you usually wouldn’t. Again, in Colorado I spent lots of time with family. 

I also did more yoga than I usually would. Tip - The free Nike training app has been an amazing addition to my fitness routine.

4) Use Active Recovery

One of the best ways to get quality recovery is to apply the 80/ 20 rule to your training. 

Nearly all elites follow the “80/20 Rule,” but most other runners don’t
— Matt Fitzgerald on Runner'sWorld.com

This is where 80% of your training is done at low intensity.

And 20% is done at very high intensity.

The 80% is sometimes known as active recovery. This is when you use an easy workout to help improve the recovery process after a tough workout.

Most of my mileage is done at very low intensity  

Which is especially important if you are attempting to hit very high mileage in training for big races.

Because your body can’t handle doing high volume AND high intensity workouts. 

How Did Your Training Go in February? 

Let me know in the comments at the bottom of this blog, on the Contact Page or on social media below. 

What’s Coming Up in March?

With less than 12 weeks to go until my world record attempt, it’ll be time to ramp up training once again.

The highlight for the month will be my second training weekend with my crew. 

I’ll be doing 100km on Saturday 23rd March and 100km on Sunday 24th March!

Using my LEJOG countdown timer that Catherine got me for Christmas! It’s getting closer!

Using my LEJOG countdown timer that Catherine got me for Christmas! It’s getting closer!

So, if you’re near South West London that weekend, come and join me for some loops of Richmond Park. 

You can also follow my training on social media and on Strava.

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