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In blog number two our Sales & Operations Manager, Andrew, continues his journey leading up to the London Marathon 2018. This time he turns his attention to explaining the physical benefits of completing most of his training by running off-road.

“I’m watching the snow being blown around as I type and I have to remind myself why I chose to train for a marathon at all, let alone by running off-road!

Apart from the obvious; the opportunity to unwind while running in beautiful areas away from traffic and having a changing landscape for distraction during the long runs, I’ve read up a lot on the physical benefits of training off-road.

The Training Plan; I’m following a training plan devised by Martin Yelling however I’ve adapted the plan to ensure that my runs are not on the pavement.  I’m also taking into account the amount of other exercise I do and what my goals are – I regularly get out on my MTB or road bike, do spin classes, HIIT training and strength and conditioning.  I’m not starting from scratch, but I’m also not a seasoned marathoner aiming for a PB.  Nothing prepares your muscles and joints for running like running, but I’m learning it’s a balance, not just for strength and CV fitness, but to protect myself from injury.


The Short Runs; I’m using local hilly trails for these. If you run 8k off-road, you feel like you’ve run 10k on it, simply because you’re working harder. You’re more likely to be tackling hills, you’re staying light on your feet as you move to jump roots and puddles and the mud is slippery.  Concentration is key. Running on the trails works your muscles more effectively and gets your heart rate up; therefore, I’m finding these short runs a better way to increase my heart-rate into the required zones, rather than doing 30 second sprints on the road.

The Long Runs; for the important race-pace runs, where we build stamina (and resistance to blisters!), I use a flatter trail, as I need to keep my heart-rate down to conserve energy. I’m using both The Ridgeway (below photo) and The Phoenix Trail near Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire. The Phoenix Trail is a dis-used railway and a mix of hard-pack and gravel, a perfect selection of surfaces to allow you to enjoy running off-road, whilst being hard enough to build up strength in your legs and feet (and I can wear my race day trainers to bed them in). Canal tow-paths or river-side trails are also good options to use for longer runs.

The Right Gear; There are extra considerations when running away from the protection of buildings and dry pavements in winter, namely the wind-chill factor (especially during the recent #beastfromtheeast cold front!) and the footing. It can be easy to give up and do loops around the block.  However, as we like to quote here at Aussie Grit Apparel, ‘there is no such thing as bad conditions, just bad apparel’.  You run out of excuses if you have the right gear and plenty of mental fortitude.”

Thanks Andrew; and if you want to see him displaying his mental fortitude, check out a video of Andrew on our Instagram page!

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