Elliptigo is proving a life saver.

What’s better than one calf tear, two calf tears !!

My second ultra sound on the calf (above) revealed I had a new calf tear, albeit smaller,  at the top of the original 5cm calf tear. Shown in the image  by the ‘black hole’. On the bright side it is a lot smaller than the original one which is healing nicely apparently. I assume shown by the left-most arrow which looks like it shows the top of the first tear ,which is now a long thick black line. Not being a Doctor I could be completely wrong (it has happened before..) but the tear is definitely  the ‘black hole’ like image. So more rest apparently, which is what I assumed I would be told.

Truth be told I have been resting rather well recently and this has added another 3kg’s to the racing frame. For the first time in many years I can only just make out my ribs where as normally they stand proud like a WW2 prisoner of war with an eating disorder  To a runner a thing to be proud of, to Mrs. Matthews not so, I don’t think Karen realises we need to look like ‘racing snakes‘ to gain entry to the front of the pack club ! Although she may be happier with the bigger me I am not !

So in an effect to find my ribs again I have been spending more time on the Elliptigo and must admit to enjoying the experience thoroughly. The Ellipitgo really is so much fun and every time I use it I have to force myself back to the family home because of either hunger or, more likely, family (Dad’s taxi!) commitments. Today I was out and about on the Elliptigo and called Jon as I was close to his house,  ‘playing with’ a good size hill. I invited Jon along to take some photos of me and the Elliptigo with this post in mind. I’ve added a few of his photos below and I hope you take from these photos the look of joy on my face. I am having serious fun on the Elliptigo and working the right muscles,  without having to clothe myself in lycra and work the wrong muscles.

There are other advantages with an Elliptigo,  because of the longer wheelbase and smaller wheels, combined with extra shock absorbers (i.e. legs) you do get that ‘floating on air feeling’. This is so much better than the pounding you take on carbon fibre bikes as you do battle with the bike paths which, if there are anything like the ones in Perth, set numerous ‘concrete lip’ traps that jar your back into next week. You also lose that ‘John Wayne’ like-walk when you get off the bike after a long ride, even with the extra padded lycra.

Of course the main benefit it the ability to grab yourself a good cardio workout without damaging injured legs. I can ride the Elliptigo for hours where-as if I tried to run, with my original calf tear, I’d be lucky to get 500m without pulling up lame.

I also believe the Elliptigo helps with the healing process as it stimulates blood flow around the calf tear, this is my opinion of course and probably ‘bull’ but even as a placebo it must be helping ? In my opinion a good Elliptigo workout would act like a good stretching session, realigning muscle, without the risk of re-tearing the calf, again my opinion. (Any Doctor’s reading this are welcome to leave comments.)

Another plus point of the Elliptigo is just the fact you are out in the open enjoying nature, in all her splendour, instead of being forced to watch the bold and the beautiful repeats on tv while being sweated on by a rather large executive with hygiene issues. (I am assuming of course you are not ‘the bold and the beautifu’l fans or do not enjoy large executives sweating on you; given the choice of course I’d choose the latter. )

Right another good day on the Elliptigo and I have plans to commute to work every day next week so should rack up a few hundred kilometres,  pre-weekend. I must remember why I brought the Elliptigo on the first place though, it was something to do with running but it has been such a long time I’ve nearly forgotten what it was? This of course is a joke, I am as focused on my recovery as ever and after two 4k runs in the week so far (for a massive 8k weekly total, for readers who find it hard to add 4k and 4k.  ) pain and niggle free I am confident I will returning sooner rather than later. In the mean time I have my exercise outlet and little Jon on call, what more can any runner ask for?


A Jon Pendse classic…


Just before I ran Jon over….



The answer to an injured runners prayers?

So much fun I was laughing out loud.


On the weekend I made the bold decision to purchase an Elliptigo as my calf tear seemed to feel like it was becoming a permanent fixture and I could not face hours and hours in lycra ! I lined up a test ride Saturday morning  and asked the Elliptigo rep to bring round the shiny gloss red version ( as we all know anything red is faster!), which he dutifully did of course sensing a definite sale.

I made a promise to myself that this would only be a test ride as they aren’t the cheapest things but as soon as I saw it I knew it was a sale, I mean what other option did I have? . Once I got on the bike (is it a bike ?) and started to use it the rep could have charged what he wanted, I wanted it and I wanted it now ! (I had a similar feeling when I was searching for a puppy to replace Stanley, I needed a puppy now and nothing was going to stop me.  Ended up buying two from Melbourne but that’s a different story. Actually if the rep had brought two along I probably would have brought them both, I’m sure I could have come up with an excuse for such a purchase, maybe if one gets a puncture I have a replacement, a wet one and dry one, different colours ; the excuses are endless? Luckily my Wife was with me when the Elliptigo turned up so maybe buying two wasn’t an option. I think she has learned after the puppy incident that her not being present when I buy things can be costly.)

So off for the test ride we go and instantly I’m smiling. This thing does everything it promised and more. My calf tear was forgotten as I glided on air while running and not riding, perfect. It really is as close to running as possible without running and without the impact of running. For injury rehabilitation this thing is a must but with the added benefit of it is just so much fun. No boring gym wall to look at for hours or pointless TV dribble.  I was smiling like a  Cheshire cat having a good day looking forward to a fish supper. Lawrie and I cycled for about thirty minutes and when I return to ‘Chez Matthews’ I knew I had had a workout, another box ticked. Finally the best reason for buying the Elliptigo is you don’t have to wear lycra, this is a massive plus as, as runners, we’re not lycra friendly; and that is an understatement.  (For all triathletes reading this you may not be as bothered about the non-lycra tick box but I’d probably recommend not donning the lycra for an Elliptigo session, you get enough attention as it is , wearing full lycra may just tip you over the edge and cause accidents !)

After Lawrie left with a sale, the easiest he had probably made truth be told, I was left counting the minutes until No2 Daughters dance lesson in the early afternoon. This would give me the chance for an hour of Elliptigo time on my Balcatta 1k Industrial Park loop. (Funnily enough where I pulled the calf initially 10 weeks ago now.) The session did not disappoint and I had the best hour on a moving object ever. Every loop I got more and more confident and around the 6k mark gave a loud ‘Ye-ha’ as I was just having so much fun. This thing cannot be over stated, you will smile so much your face hurts ! It got even better at around 8k as I started laughing out load. Luckily I had to stop after an hour as I probably would have exploded !

That night I struggled to sleep as I knew , once I had those puppies walked, I had a long Elliptigo session booked. After telling my Wife to expect me back in an hour (yeah, right!) off I went the following morning. What a glorious ride , I started with hill repeats for 10k to get the heart rate up and then a quick 5k speed session before a 25k cruise around the streets and the beach front,  just generally having fun. After a few stops to friends along the way I staggered home three hours later , an Elliptigo addict. My legs felt they had a good workout and the upper body had taken a pounding too, perfect. Best of all the suspect calf was barely noticed and pulled up great. This really is the toy that keeps on giving.

Of course there are a few downsides to this machine of joy. Although most women and small children find the Elliptigo ‘awesome’ I have had a few derogatory comments from my male friends. One asked ‘if they made them for men? ‘, very funny Ryan and other comments have been less than complimentary. I must admit before I brought one I was worried about the adverse reactions but once you straddle the beast and get going you feel a million dollars and lets face it I’m a 50 year old balding , bearded runner who looks like he has hasn’t eaten in a while (like a year..),  looking good is not something I strive for.  (Although my Daughters have threatened to disown me if I come anywhere near their school riding the Elliptigo, go figure.? )

So as you might have guessed I’m a convert. If it’s good enough for Meb Keflezighi, 2014 Boston Marathon Champion, it’s good enough for me. I wonder if this will help me to the Boston Marathon podium, at least we have the same taste in Elliptigo’s ?


Meb also has a shiny red one !

Light at the end of the tunnel, or is it a train?

Well my ‘roll the dice’ attitude seems to have come back and bitten me. It was always a risk that  I was willing to take by ramping up quickly on my calf tear comeback. I knew it was going to end in glory or abject failure. Unfortunately this time it looks like abject failure !

In the back of my mind I had the Perth Marathon as a goal as it would have been my tenth in a row and to this end make a conscious decision to push my recovery safe in the feeling that I had taken it easy for the last 8 weeks and done everything my physio had asked.  I adopted the ‘when its fixed, it’s fixed’ attitude toward my 5cm calf tear and pushed on , albeit at a recovery pace. (I’m not completely bonkers!)

The first week went to plan and this gave me the confidence to push on for the second week and ramp up the distance culminating in a 16k run last Tuesday. Although this felt ok I could feel by Thursday all was not right. This was compounded by a similar feeling Friday and a good old fashioned telling off from my physio convinced me to take the weekend off. The second coming started Monday with a 3k on grass and then a 4k the following day but both days I felt the calf hanging on and if I even thought about increasing my pace the calf would remind me that it was a pointless exercise.

So that’s it then ? Well for the moment yes, I can only hope I haven’t done too much damage but I certainly feel I have undone some good work. Time off the feet seems to be the only way forward as this has cost me well over $1000 in scans, physio fees and I can’t chuck any more money at it. (Think of all the shoes I could have brought.)  If I was a rich man I’d go for another ultrasound and see how much damage is left to be repaired but instead I’m going to rest and then rest some more. I may even try and do some exercises recommended by my physio but I normally leave those for the waiting room just before I visit him.

Another alternative is to splash out $3500 on a Elliptigo bike. (  ) These look like ‘the dogs’ but I just got to convince my better half that $3500 is worth spending on my rehab.

The runners bike.

I have heard good things about these bikes , allowing you to recover from injury while still exercising the ‘running muscles’ that a normal bike would miss. Plus you don’t have to wear lycra which is a huge plus. On the down side you will stand out like a bacon sandwich at a Jewish wedding so be prepared for some admiring (?) glances and comments from the general public as you glide past.

Dean Karanazes is a big fan apparrantly and so is  Boston Winner Meb Keflezighi ( ) Noted both are sponsored by the bike manufacturer but I believe they do genuinely use them. My mate John Shaw, who holds the current age group world record for 60-65, is another big fan and swears by these little beauties. He credits the bike with helping him set a half marathon PB after a long injury lay off with calf issues (sounds familiar?)  I may get myself a test ride over the weekend and I’ll report back. Apparently they do them in gloss red, what more do I need to say? I wonder if they do a basket for my puppies ?

Training plans, who needs them ?

One of the benefits of being injured, if there is any of course, is the free time you find you have on your hands. For me it’s an extra 12 hours a week to fill. Luckily I was due to move house and had just brought two golden retriever puppies so my eight week injury layoff was fully booked out. I also spent extra time with the family but that never ends well for either party, bless ’em. Another past time you can catch up on is reading and I was able to start re-reading one of my favourite Matt Fitzgerald books, (remember in Matt we trust… ) ‘Run, Running by Feel’.

Best thing to do when injured is buy puppies and read Matt Fitzgerald books.

Without wanting to spoil the findings of the Fitzgerald novel he recommends training by feel (funnily enough looking a the title) rather than be constricted to a pre-designed training plan with the caveat that you would need to be an experienced runner of course. You would of course always need to be have the staple diet of training plans in your weekly program somewhere including the basics I.e. a tempo, threshold, recovery and long runs. Matt recommends deciding on the day what type of run you intend to digest without forcing yourself to the training table and taking what is on offer. More like a buffet rather than a set course. If you decide you feel good maybe add in a tempo run rather than constraining yourself to a slow run, when your body wants more. This also works in reverse when you may need a recovery run while your training plan calls for a threshold. In this situation a threshold run will only end in failure and add no value to your confidence or general cardio fitness. It would be far more prudent to listen to your body and embark on a recovery run while saving the threshold for when you feel you can do it justice.

Matt also makes a good point regarding training plans in that no two runners are the same so generic training plans can not really work as they assume a certain initial base foundation fitness and ability and then continued improvement based on the authors knowledge and experience.  Matt himself sells hundreds of plans on websites like but is honest enough to admit these are very rarely the ideal way to improve. What a guy, he’s even honest ! Matt gives examples of highly successful coaches who agree with Matt on his ‘training by feel’ approach and these coaches have Olympic Gold medalists on their books. The book of course goes into a lot more detail but I’ve probably saved you the bother of reading it with this paragraph.

That last sentence was meant as a joke of course, Matt’s books should be compulsory for all runners and we should be tested regularly on them, a sort of pre-school for runners. I cannot recommend them enough and if you take nothing from todays post it is to go to his website, read, learn and purchase.  Just in case you missed it the first time I’ll add the link again …

Matt also makes the point in running by feel that cadence is another point overlooked by most runners and one that can be improved normally with beneficial results. Changing your running style has been found to decremental to pace in most cases but adding a few extra steps a minute by increasing your cadence will certainly improve your running. My friend Mike K. is very cadence originated and monitors his cadence on every run, (as well as his heart and just about anything else to tell you the truth, he is an engineer…. ?) he can monitor improvements in his running , brought about by good training, with an increase in his cadence. Some runners of course have high cadence naturally like my friend Tony ‘the T-train’, he must takes about twice as many steps a minute compared to me but if I was to try and replicate this I would be destroyed very quickly. A higher cadence can also help in avoiding injury apparently. If you can get above 180 it lessons your chance of injury as the impact per step is not as great,  as cadence below this figure, where you would begin to heal strike probably.  This article below from Training Peaks last year, written by Allie Burdick, helps to explain the cadence theory.


The right cadence for runners is a hotly debated topic among runners and triathletes. While there is no perfect single number, there is a range that you should aim for. Improving your cadence not only will help you run faster with the same or even less effort, it can also lessen your chance of injury. Most running injuries result from three aspects of your form: heel striking, over-striding and/or cadence. The good news for runners is that cadence is probably the most important of these three and, when improved, will also improve your chances of having zero knee issues1.

Cadence Defined

Your run cadence is measured in strides per minute. There are many ways you can determine your current running cadence:

  1. Count the number of times your left foot hits the ground in 30 seconds then double it to get the total for 60, then double it again to get the total for both feet.
  2. Many watches now have the ability to measure your running cadence.
  3. Other wearable devices also measure running metrics, including cadence.

Most recreational runners will have a cadence between 150 to 170spm (strides per minute) topping out at 180spm2. A cadence of less than 160spm is usually seen in runners who overstride. The good news is that as you improve your cadence, you will simultaneously be correcting your overstriding.

How Stride Length Affects Your Cadence and Form

The shorter your stride length, the quicker your stride rate, the faster and better you run. If you have a low cadence, you most likely have a long stride which makes for a choppy and more bouncy run. The more bounce and over striding in your gait, the more susceptible you are to injury3. Shortening your stride length with increase your cadence, which will make you faster and less injury prone.

As a bonus, when you shorten your stride you will also change the position of where your foot lands beneath you. The optimal placement of your foot is beneath your hips (not out in front of them) which is where your foot will automatically land if you take the necessary steps to increase your cadence and shorten your stride length. This is the point of your center of gravity and where the least amount of impact will occur.

Your turnover will increase which will propel you forward and will waste less energy since you will now be moving forward and back not up and down.

How to Improve Your Cadence

There is not necessarily a magic cadence number for everyone but, there is an ideal cadence for you personally. Several unique factors such as height, hip mobility, and level of overall fitness will all play a role.

  1. Find your current cadence and then add 5 to 10 percent. For example, if you’re current cadence is 160spm, your goal would now be 168spm.
  2. Start by increasing your cadence for only one to two runs per week or for short periods during each run.
  3. Practicing on a treadmill is often the best way to start since you can set your correct speed and it will remain steady.
  4. Pretend you are running in hot lava to promote faster turnover
  5. Once you have comfortably run your new (and improved!) cadence for a 5K run or race, you can confidently add another five percent and repeat the process.

Beware of anyone or any article touting 180spm as the “best” or “correct” cadence. This comes from the 1984 Olympics where famous coach Jack Daniels counted the strides of all of his elite distance runners and, of the 46 he studied, only one was under 180spm (176spm). Coach Daniels further noted that in his 20 years of coaching college students, not one was over 180spm. Unfortunately, he is being taken out of context and even misquoted lately, stating all runners should be at 180spm which simply is not true.

Each runner has a cadence that is best for them. By recording your current cadence and using a few simple cues around your stride length and form, you can increase your cadence to be more efficient and faster.




10k race, only one way to go, suicide pace please.

In Western Australia there are a number of iconic events in the West Australian Marathon Club calendar that attract a large field of the states best runners. ( ) Tomorrow is one of them, the bridges 10k. (There is a 5k but c’mon, when there’s a 10k option the 5k really is just an appetiser, and not a very good one at that, maybe a pumpkin soup compared to the Surf ‘n’ turf main course.) The bridges, and the name suggest runs alongside the Swan River in Perth and crosses the river twice via two bridges, giving you a point to point loop course. Flat the whole way bar the rise on the Narrows Bridge it is built for a good time and a run that I run probably 20-30 times a year minimum.

Last year, as this year probably, my main objective is not to get ‘chicked’ (beaten by a woman) as Linda Spencer, a Zatopek runner in her time, runs this race and at her best will beat me hands down.  Last year I ran with Linda for the first two kilometres at a pace far faster than I wanted to go but luckily she dropped off and I managed to sneak in before her.  We’ll see what transpires this year ? Truth be told there are a number of women runners in Perth who are making great improvements under various coaches and my days of finishing ahead of them are numbered. As always I will go down fighting and, while I still can, keep them honest.

A 10k is a good indicator race before a marathon which I happen to be running next week. I go by the ‘mile a day to recover’ rule and being the 10k is about 6 miles I should be recovered by next Sunday for the Bunbury Marathon. ( ) I certainly need to be at my best as this marathon destroyed me in 2014 and put me in a running slump that lasted well over a year. This was in stark contrast to the previous year when I won the event. (My one and only marathon victory and one I will cherish to the end….) My plans for Bunbury will be to initially try and keep my average sub 4min/k and finish sub 2hrs 48mins but if the conditions are ideal I may be persuaded, on the day. to go a tad quicker. It is really a starter race to the main course ,which is Perth in June this year.  Bunbury is known for bad conditions ranging from winds to heat to humidity, the three things all marathon runners try to avoid. I’ll talk more on ‘bunners’ in a post later in the week as I move in taper mode, this will at least give me more time to spend blogging.

Right back to the Bridges 10k. I’ve said on just about every time I’ve ran t’his 10k  will be my last’. It is a race that can put you in the pain box early if you go out too fast and unlike a half or a marathon doesn’t really give you enough time to work into it. A 5k is all about speed and worst case scenario you’re only go to blow up with maximum 3k to go (and that take’s some doing to blow so early !!) , in the 10k if things goes awry early you can be looking at a true 5k pain train and believe me 5k is a long way when you have nothing left in the tank. It also asks some serious questions at around the 6-8k mark and you need to dig deep to answer these before finding that finishing burst for the last kilometre. (Why doesn’t that ‘burst’ happen at 5k ? All down to the central governor  I suppose?) So many people ran a 10k at 5k pace, which is find for 5k of course but then they wonder why the wheels have fallen off and there’s still 5k to go.? Funny that.

So how do you run a 10k successfully ? I think the best advice is to run a lot of them, like all things practice makes perfect. Last year I think I ran five 10k races with each one easier (relatively speaking.) than the last. I even managed a couple of sub 35 minute efforts, which was always the dream, so was happy to tick that one off. My advice would be to start at slower than your 5k pace and then build into it and finish strong. How easy was that to type? I am actually smiling to myself while typing this because I know tomorrow when the guns goes off I’ll be sprinting with the leaders for the first kilometre and regretting it at the second, while they continue on their merry way and smash 32 minutes, making it look easy, bless ’em.  Meanwhile I’ll be staggering to 5k and opening the ‘5k to go pain box’, jump in, assume the foetal position and close the door behind me.

Tomorrow will also be , probably, the last outing for my weapon of choice lately, the Adidas Takumi Sen 3 racing shoe. These bad boys have got me through three marathons, numerous half marathons, 10k’s and a load of park runs. Over 400km currently (thankyou ) but they are now well past their sell by date. The shoe is expensive (and if anybody finds them on special please email me!) but like all things in life you get what you pay for and these are worth 2-3 minutes over a marathon compared to the normal training shoes like the Asics Kayano. (I consider the Kayano more of a boot than a running shoe truth be told. I use to wear these shoes believing all the marketing hype about protecting your foot with their magic gel, about a kilogram of the stuff ! and raising the heel so much you’re virtually tipping over. Not for me people but as with all things running it is personal and this shoe may be right for you but I’m a less is more , when it comes to runners and wear those bad boys down to the bitter end before changing. We were built to run without shoes so, to me , all the shoe does is protesct you from the nasty objects on the concrete. )

Weapons of mass destruction.

Right that’s if for Saturday, I’ll be back tomorrow and post the race details ,which will of course involve lots of questioning myself, time in the pain box and maybe even me getting chicked. Wouldn’t have it any other way…. as you were.

Want to run faster, toughen up !

I’m a big fan of mental toughness and believe it is overlooked by so many runners.  To this end I have been reading Matt Fitzgerald’s book ‘How Bad Do You Want It’. As with all Matt’s writing it is insightful, thought provoking and just a damn good reason to spend time reading a good book. I highly recommend all runners read this book and also the holy grail of our running group ‘80/20 running’.  The ‘80/20′ Running will make you a better runner , to a point, while the ‘How bad do you want it‘ will let you notch up your effort and performance to a new level. This means new PB’s and PR’s all round. These books really are that good. Have a look around his website, , it is a treasure trove of all things running.

In Matt we trust…

Without giving up the plot of the book Matt states that all runners can run faster for longer and it is not the mind that dictates pace but the mind. This also backs up the work by Tim Noakes who was the first to talk about the ‘Central Governor’.  I have attached a link to a Runners Connect article on the Central Governor, worth a read. Tim, like Matt, puts down the limiting factor to the mind not the body.

Of course don’t stop training and just hang around eating junk food before turning up to a race and ‘thinking happy thoughts’, unfortunately that ain’t going to cut it. The mind is part of the overall package which includes training (the harder the better!) , a good training base (the longer the better) and weight (the lower the better) . I suppose the four things combined give you the tools to attack your race. Get all four right and you’ll PB (PR) for sure (assuming it is physically possible as other factors may effect your performance , like being 90 years old?) Runners , in my opinion, ignore the mind and the weight advantages. Most runners train hard if they can, over a good length of time, injury permitting. A lot of runner fall into the ‘I run a lot so can eat what I want‘ trap or even worse , ‘I run so I can eat what I like‘. Sorry people, not true. To really busy your best you need to watch what you eat and keep your weight down as much as possible. For most this is not something they can contemplate and that is fine but if you want to go faster, lose weight. It can be that simple if all other variables stay the same. Physics really I suppose.

Luckily I’m racing this weekend so will be able to put into practice what Matt has taught me from the first few chapters of his book. As I’m in the middle of a mini-taper (three days of just one run a day and it’s killing me!)  I have some spare time so hope to finish the book by the time I get to the start line Sunday morning. By then I should be unstoppable ? Of course this sort of post needs a Steve Prefontaine quote to finish.

The master of mind over matter.


I’ve attached a short synopsis of How Bad Do You Want It’ to wet your appetite below.


Master the psychology of mind over muscle!

The greatest athletic performances spring from the mind, not the body. Elite athletes have known this for decades and now science is learning why it’s true. In his fascinating new book How Bad Do You Want It?, coach Matt Fitzgerald examines more than a dozen pivotal races to discover the surprising ways elite athletes strengthen their mental toughness.

Fitzgerald puts you into the pulse-pounding action of more than a dozen epic races from running, cycling, triathlon, XTERRA, and rowing with thrilling race reports and revealing post-race interviews with the elites. Their own words reinforce what the research has found: strong mental fitness lets us approach our true physical limits, giving us an edge over physically stronger competitors. Each chapter explores the how and why of an elite athlete’s transformative moment, revealing powerful new psychobiological principles you can practice to flex your own mental fitness.

The new psychobiological model of endurance performance shows that the most important question in endurance sports is: how bad do you want it? Fitzgerald’s fascinating book will forever change how you answer this question and show you how to master the psychology of mind over muscle. These lessons will help you push back your limits and uncover your full potential.

How Bad Do You Want It? reveals new psychobiological findings including:

Mental toughness determines how close you can get to your physical limit.

Bracing yourself for a tough race or workout can boost performance by 15% or more.

Champions have learned how to give more of what they have.

The only way to improve performance is by altering how you perceive effort.

Choking under pressure is a form of self-consciousness.

Your attitude in daily life is the same one you bring to sports.

There’s no such thing as going as fast as you can―only going faster than before.

The fastest racecourse is the one with the loudest spectators.

Faith in your training is as important as the training itself.

Athletes featured in How Bad Do You Want It?: Sammy Wanjiru, Jenny Simpson, Greg LeMond, Siri Lindley, Willie Stewart, Cadel Evans, Nathan Cohen and Joe Sullivan, Paula Newby-Fraser, Ryan Vail, Thomas Voeckler, Ned Overend, Steve Prefontaine, and last of all John “The Penguin” Bingham

— Matt Fitzgerald

“”How Bad Do You Want It?” will make you see your world as an endurance athlete in a new way. Fitzgerald’s research will help you become your own sports psychologist.” – Joe Friel, leading endurance sports coach and author of the Training Bible series


“How Bad Do You Want It?” looks at epic moments in endurance sports to mine habits and tactics we can use to cultivate our own mental strength.

Top athletes can seem godlike in their abilities. But no matter how skilled they are, talent takes them only so far. The hardest races demand that a champion rely as much on the mind as on the body, using it to confront the fears that we all face: fear of failure, suffering, or change, to name a few.

In “How Bad Do You Want It?” renowned endurance sports journalist Matt Fitzgerald examines the “psychobiological” model of athletic performance, exploring how athletes are able to overcome physical limitations with mental might. In gripping accounts from triathlon, cycling, running, rowing, and swimming, Fitzgerald puts the reader inside breathtaking races, shedding new light on what science says about mental fortitude and how anyone can cultivate the mental strength to surmount challenges–in sport and in life.

Matt Fitzgerald is a journalist, coach, sports nutritionist, and author of more than 20 books, including the best-selling “Racing Weight.” “

Maffetone time.

I had some spare time this week so decided to reacquaint myself with one of my favourite running books “The Big  Book of Endurance Training and Racing’, by Dr. Phil Maffetone. If you read just one book this year make it this one. The Holy Grail of running books in my opinion with some advice that will change your running life for the good. Admittedly there are a few aspects of the book I’m not so sure about but each too his own, for the most part it preaches good old fashioned common sense tips from a man who had experience measured in decades and a list of World Champions that includes perhaps the greatest triathlete ever , 6 time Hawaii Iron-Man Champion Mark Allen. ( )

Maffetone divides his book into three sections. The first one deals with building your endurance foundation before moving onto Diet and Nutrition and finishing off with a section on the importance of self-care and injury prevention. That just about covers the running spectrum as we know it. As I said before it really is the holy grail of running books.

I won’t spoil the book for you if I summarise, very quickly, what Maffetone is all about but must stress this is a summary, you really need to read the full monty to get the full picture.  In the first section he preaches building endurance by training constrained by a heart rate figure dictated by following four simple rules. This is your Maximum Aerobic Training (or Maximum Aerobic function), once you have calculated this heart rate figure you then train to stay below it, not interested in pace or time. The theory is the more you train at this reduced pace, in the aerobic zone, the fitter you become. Over time the pace will increase while the heart rate will still be stable. This is the theory behind his technique, similar to the Matt Fitzgerald train slower, to race faster. ( )

I must warn you Maffetone may not be for everyone’s taste. He has some radical theories on running shoes preferring as little support as possible and pouring scorn on the ‘high heel‘ padding favoured by the shoe industry as a whole. I must admit to changing over time from the good old fashioned Asics Kayano’s to running these days in Nike Luna Racers. I’m light on my feet and very much a Supination (under pronation) foot strike. This means I can generally run in any shoe and have a garage full of all different kinds of shoes (I never throw out an old pair of running shoes, too many good memories, much to my Wife’s disgust )  I understand running shoes are so important to all runners so will reserve judgment on selecting running shoes as to me it is so personal and each person is different,  I cannot really condone sweeping statements about footwear selection.

Maffetone’s next section is on nutrition and again he has some great sections which I’m sure will help but also some very ‘interesting’ ideas on carbohydrates particularly  a two week test where you take carbohydrates out of your diet completely  to see if you are carbohydrate intolerant. I couldn’t bring myself to do this as I love my carbs so yet again me and Dr. Phil have a small difference of opinion. He has some great points on Protein, Fats, Electrolytes  and Water as well as  offering  great advice on nutrition for endurance athletes. A really good read and worth digesting. (That was a play on words by the way.)

Finally Maffetone dives into the importance of self care and avoiding injuries. Another great section and all good common sense advice. Yet again he pushes the limits with his advice about avoiding sun protection as Vitamin D is good for you, living in Australia with it’s high skin cancer rates I find it hard to agree with him on this point. He is also very anti-supplements which I probably agree with him but again I may need to sit on the fence.

So to sum up, in my opinion, Maffetone is spot on when it comes to building endurance by slow running using your heart rate as the limiter, combined with distance. His thoughts on nutrition and injury prevention is provoking and again in my opinion for the most part credible, there are also great  sections on over training, competition, reducing stress, improving brain function  and even training at altitude,  I highly recommend this book with the caveat that there are some ideas that may be out with the normal consensus of the running community but this may not be a bad thing. Finally, as with all running literature, you take out what applies to you. For me it was the building the endurance base and slowing down my  ‘slow’ runs. There were great  nuggets of useful information  but I also felt some ideas didn’t resinate with me, these I chose to ignore.

One thing I do agree with  is Maffetone’s thoughts on steak and eggs. He loves them and so do I , so tonight Dr. Phil I’m having steak with a couple of eggs and salad, the sacrifices one makes for his sport.

Maffetone website.
Maffetone website.