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The science of running fast

The science of running fast

PHUKET: For coach Guy Ogden, middle and long distance running “is not rocket science, but it is science”.


By Dane Halpin

Monday 10 September 2012, 11:15AM


Coach Guy Ogden at last weekend's Thanyapura coaching clinic. Photo: TSLC

Coach Guy Ogden at last weekend's Thanyapura coaching clinic. Photo: TSLC

And the 68-year-old knows a thing or two about science, given his background as a professional osteopath with over 25 years experience specialising in sports injury.

The former British Masters National Cross Country Champion and European Masters 10k Road Champion was in Phuket last weekend, holding a running clinic at Thanyapura Sports and Leisure Centre (TSLC), and sharing some of his wisdom with The Phuket News.

Ogden said one of the biggest challenges of coaching in Southeast Asia was adapting conventional coaching methods to the hot, humid climate.

And having helped train the Vietnam national team in 2000 before moving to Singapore in 2006 to coach there, he now believes the climate is “a challenge, but not a barrier”.
Indeed, he said traditional training techniques in this part of the world are virtually impossible, so he has been forced to make some radical, and at times controversial, adaptations.

“I grew up in an age of very high volume endurance running, but it’s quite impossible to do that in Southeast Asia.

“Instead, I turn it backwards. First it’s important to build the base...then you can do the long stuff. That way you don’t get injured, and it’s more enjoyable.”

Ogden said it wouldn’t be unusual for his new students to not even attempt running long distances in their first few weeks together until they can develop core strength and improve their running technique.

To do this, he reduces the emphasis on high volume running and focuses on technical improvement by using slow motion analysis, on track video and slow motion feedback, and working out precise workouts on the track so people don’t waste time doing random ones.

La Boucherie

Doing this, he said, can make the small changes that amount to big differences over the course of a marathon.

“For example, if you could reduce the contact time of the foot on the ground on each step by 15/1000 of a second, you can make an eight minute improvement on a marathon... and you can do that so easily by exercises like jumping and skipping.

“That’s what I mean by non-running activities. Non-running activities can enhance the ability to run, and enhance the ability to support a training programme.
“Just running won’t do it, that’s the message.”

Ogden’s training methods are not designed for Olympians or super-elite athletes, though he believes he can help anyone from the most amateur runner to the serious ones whose long distance times are “stuck”.

“A lot of athletes, their race times are stuck, because their technique is poor, and their training is poor.

"They think ‘I want to run a marathon, so the more I run the better’. It’s actually not true, unless you’re perfect, and you have perfect technique. In that case, you probably won’t be with us anyway, you’ll be running at the Olympics... but the average athlete and the athletes you see here in Phuket, these are the people who can benefit from what I offer.”

And as for those who doubt his methods: “I welcome in a way the challenge of convincing athletes that this is the way to go... If they’re questioning, that means they’re thinking.”
After all, while his techniques may be “counter-intuitive” in many respects, Ogden added: “The proof is in the results, as always.”

For more information about Guy Ogden, visit athlonrunning.com. Also keep an eye on
thanyapura.com to see when he will next visit Phuket.

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