• Candice Holdsworth

Talking running with Sam from Athletex Human Performance.

As we enter our 8th week in Pilates- Depot- isolation and start to see a shift with some restrictions starting to lift, we begin to reflect on this time, and want to talk the opportunity to talk about some of the positives that we have seen throughout this time spent at home. While it’s pretty clear that the footpaths and walking trails have been packed – to – the – rafters everyday with people turning to the fresh outdoors for their fitness fix or mental escape from the four walls of confinement, it has certainly not gone unnoticed how many people have used this time to incorporate running into their regime. Personally, I have always been a bit of a phase runner. I love the opportunity to exercise outside and the post – run endorphins, however I can be really enthused for a while then it's weeks before my next run.  I don’t give it a second thought getting to a Pilates or HIIT class, but when it comes to running, for some reason, the motivation is consistently hidden somewhere underneath 1000 excuses. Throughout the Depot closure time, we have been running a ‘steps’ competition for our clients and they have been absolutely smashing it, running thousands of steps with our instructors leading the pack running tens of kilometers at a time. I thought this is the perfect time to have a chat with running expert Sam Willis from Athletex Human Performance to ask common questions regarding all things running. 


Do you have any suggestions for what to look for in a running shoe? Sam suggests that something comfortable is the main thing to look for.

Do you suggest starting on a particular terrain or just get out there and go for it?

Any type of terrain is fine. Unless limited by your location, whatever works!

How quickly can you start doing interval running again after restarting running?

As soon as you like. Interval running is a great way to get started actually. For example, try running 2 minutes on, 2 minutes off for a period of half hour. You can slowly increase the distance you run and decrease the distance you walk until you have met your goal!

What kinds of muscles would you suggest working on in a gym/weights type of environment to assist with running?

Sam suggests working your glutes, hamstrings and calf muscles to start with as they are some of the main muscles used during running! Although we use A LOT of muscles when running including our postural muscles in our back, our core, quads, all the muscles listed above and the intrinsic muscles of our feet ++ the list goes on... these are some great ones to focus on!

Frequent runners

What kinds of ways would you suggest ‘mixing it up’ for people who want to work harder in a run?

Intervals are great, fartlek training (interval training without the break) so you essentially are running at your comfortable pace and adding in periods of increased speed. Sam also explains that there is also an element of challenge in running slower and mastering long run too- It involves changing your mindset to enable you to run longer, slow things down and find a consistent pace to run at. He says its “resistance training for your heart”.

I run frequently but my time is not improving, how can I get faster?

Fartlek training as above, going through periods of a faster pace and then dropping back to your “normal” pace. Sam also suggests breaking your 5km run into 2 halves- try running 2.5km at a slightly faster pace and then do the second half at your normal pace. What is really helpful is integrating a broad program of training that covers all basis- doing speed work, doing longer runs and also doing a run that works to increase your threshold (e.g. trying to work at a higher rate for as long as you can before fatigue).

How do I get better at my running distance? 5km is the furthest I can go

Very similar to above – fartlek training, mindset, decrease speed you are running at in order to gain length, self preparation. 

How do you keep motivated to keep consistent with running?

Sam has an interesting outlook on motivation. He explains that motivation is generally looked at the wrong way around. He suggests that we need to create motivation ourselves rather than 'find it'. The best way to "create” motivation is to create a routine, and the days you feel the least motivated are the days you should fight to get up to break through the mental barrier. It takes work to keep building motivation and it can have a snowball effect once the ball is rolling. Once you feel the benefit of your training (whether it be running, pilates, yoga or even going for walks) you know how it makes you feel to miss a training session and that can further create more motivation.

Do you look at cadence, HR or km splits when running? Cadence is a good indicator of foot position and foot strike- it can tell us about stride length too. A high cadence is generally desirable- although it's not something Sam looks at himself. He generally monitors his heart rate or time.  Sam suggests that for typically healthy people 180-your age you will be given a target heart rate for a “long run” which can give you a rough indication of where you would like to sit. Forexample,for a30-year-oldthe target heart rate would be 150bpm. This calculation follows the Maffetone method.

Injuries and injury prevention

I get really bad right sided stitch immediately after starting my run. Any ideas as to what can be the cause of this?  Sam has looked into this a little but he emphasises that this is just his opinion. He says that it can be a result of the diaphragm not expanding as much as it needs to, before started a run either at home or during warm up try doing some deep nasal breaths and holding for 4-5 seconds before exhaling. This will warm diaphragm up and give you more "expansion" at the diaphragm as well as thorax. Its important to look at your posture during running as well, if you are naturally slouching whilst running it can decrease the efficiency of the diaphragm as well so a good way to counteract this is to imagine your elbows driving back.  Candice also did a bit of research and there was a really interesting article about it (see below) which talks a lot about factors continuing. Posture can be a huge one which if its an ongoing issue it could be worth seeing a physio to have the mechanics of your spine and ribcage assessed. Diet was also talked about as well as preparation leading into a run. Read the full article here.

What do you suggest for a niggling knee when running?

Sam has had lots of experience with his clients experiencing knee pain during running. The first thing he will generally look at is what they are doing for strength work- he explains that glutes and leg strength is important for knee stabilitiy. He would also look into running technique, looking at foot strike and landing position which can tell us what the knee is doing during a run. You can look into tightness though the outer legs (ITB) to ensure there isn’t too much lateral pressure on the kneecap (outside of leg) causing dysfunciton in the tracking of the knee cap. Also looking for recruitment patterns, ensuring that the muscles you are working on are working efficiently and effictivly during a run. 

If you have any questions about injuries or niggles during a run, reach out to us at or reach out to Sam via his facebook page


T H E  P I L A T E S


  • Grey Facebook Icon
  • Grey Instagram Icon