Category Archives: Running

Southampton Personal Trainer Gen Preece Boot Camp

Is Running Necessary for Weight Loss?

Find out if running is right for you, whether your Personal Trainer is Telling you to or not!

We’ve all heard it….”no pain, no gain”.  Running has therefore got to be better than walking because you sweat more, you breathe faster and therefore burn more energy!


I suppose you can use the same argument of “which is heavier, a 1kg of feathers or a 1kg of brick” – they are both the same!  Therefore because the distance is the same, the energy used must be the same!

OK, that’s not strictly true, so here’s the science bit…


Walking Vs Running

Take on average someone who weights 70kg:

– Walking about 3.1 miles per hour, they use 50 units of energy per km.

– Running at 6.2 miles per hour, they use 78units of energy per km.

So…it seems running is better!

HOWEVER, at the start of the run, you are metabolising carbohydrates (before you start to burn fat). To optimally burn fat (over carbiohydrates) you need to work at 60% of your maximum aerobic capacity (reached at around 75% of maximum heart rate –which is generally ariound 220 minus your age). Therefore low to moderate exercise is a better way to burn energy/fat and on the plus side it can be easier on your joints!  OK, so you do burn SLIGHTLY more energy when you run, but it’s not a huge significant amount.

By running you can do more work in less time, but if you think you’ll need to exercise for half the time if you run, you’re sadly incorrect! On the flip side, however, thinking that an amble round the park for three miles is equivalent to a three mile run isn’t quite right either!


Outdoor Vs Indoor Running?

I suppose the next question is comparing running on a treadmill to running outdoors.  Outside you’ve got the pounding of the pavement on your knees and legs, but running outdoors does burn slightly more energy than running indoors on a treadmill (mostly because of the air resistance). However, running indoors can be safer and some ‘tricks of the trade’ show that setting the treadmill to an incline of 1% evens this out the difference in kcals burned between indoor and outdoor running!

Perhaps when choosing whether to run indoors or outdoors it’s most important to remember that the many scientific papers on movement and exercise do not take into account the impact of our mind and how we feel on the rest of the body – the psychological impact is yet to be truly explored, and ultimately we might be better of basing our decision on which we enjoy most.


Output and Input

Ultimately, even if you are running every single day, you won’t lose any weight if you are putting more energy into your body than you need.



Do what makes you feel good…

So what is the truth about what is right for you?

We are all different and as such we need to do what is right for our own body, mind and goals – If you don’t like or can’t run then walking is definitely the best thing for you and will make a significant difference to you health and wellbeing. If however, you are training for a marathon walking is not going to get you there (unless you are walking the 23 miles). I believe the outside is better for health as you get fresh air and can take in nature but if you get hay fever then the gym might be the place for you.

The only thing science ever shows us is the average info for the average Joe Bloggs. You are not average (in fact the ‘average’ person doesn’t really exist!).

Do what is right for your body.

Do what makes you feel amazing.


Seasonal Birds: running, weight-loss and the advent of winter.

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A few years ago I was out doing a long run in preparation for the London marathon. It was in the second week of January, a Sunday morning if I remember correctly. All of a sudden I was running alongside a man wearing brand new trainers, track-suit etc.

I started a conversation with the guy and I asked him if he was on a new year’s resolution. He told me that it was not the case. His wife had bought him the gear for Christmas and as soon as the celebration had ended she was on his case. He said the first two times that he had gone out, instead of doing his runs he had pulled over at the pub. His wife was not very pleased when he got home and all the gear was still unused.

To cut a long story short he said to me that he had been fast asleep on this Sunday morning and his wife had woken him shouting “ You lazy bastard, wake up and go for a run” and there he was huffing and puffing.

I never saw him out again.


This man belong to a category of exercises that I like to call ‘Seasonal Birds’…

They come out in January every year wearing new trainers and gear, such as heart rate monitors, I pods and brand new gloves. You spot them along roads, in parks and in the forest.

A couple of weeks later they disappear to reappear briefly in April, around the time of London Marathon.

They were out again over the summer, inspired by the Olympics, the Paralympics, and the milder weather.

And now that it’s getting colder and darker they are once again disappearing from the streets, leaving the canal paths, tarmac and cycle paths free again.


Now, it is a general belief that people have that running is the best way to lose weight. I don’t blame people for believing that – Just look at the world’s fastest long distance runners. They don’t carry any excess do they?

Unfortunately a lot of it is down to genetics. To get to that level you need to have the right genetic makeup, a body which is lean and which has the right kind of muscle fibre to endure hours and hours of running. Perhaps you need to come from East Africa too.

The average person is not going to get that sort of body if they take up running. What is most likely to happen is that your appetite will increase when you take up running and your body shape will more or less stay the same. Although your body shape will not transform, you will get’ fitter’, and your heart and lungs will get stronger. Also, if you do enjoy running by all means, carry on doing it – it certainly gives you a buzz!

However, if you’re a after a leaner physique, a better way of transforming your body is most likely to be a healthy combination of improved diet, moderate cardio and resistance training. This kind of approach is the one most likely to give you the results you’re after and hence is the one you’re most likely to stick with – unlike the seasonal birds who always disappear (along with their fancy equipment) when their efforts have failed to give them the body of their dreams and the cold nights and dark mornings override any motivation to hit the streets.

PT London


Outdoor Fitness Equipment: Taking the 'play' out of the playground?

Recently there seems to have been an increase in the number of parks that have outdoor ‘gyms’, with more and more community parks sprouting pieces of specialised equipment designed to encourage adults to be active. In theory, these ‘adult playground

s’ sound like a great idea:


1. They’re free: for anyone put off by the cost of gym memberships or home equipment, free outdoor gyms are a great alternative.

2. They’re outside: perfect for anyone who doesn’t have space at home to workout, or who wants to get out in the fresh air and maybe get some sun (not that we’ve had much of that here in the UK lately).

3. They’re a good exercise reminder: acting as a prompt to anyone walking past that they should maybe get a little more exercise.

4. They’re inexpensive: As far as public health interventions, outdoor gyms are relatively cheap – there’s a one-off payment for the equipment and that’s it – no fees for staff, no printing/advertising costs etc.



BUT, how effective are these outdoor gyms in practice, really? Personally, I think there are a number of reasons why investing public money in outdoor fitness equipment isn’t the best idea:


1. No privacy

For anyone wanting to get fitter/ get in shape, an outdoor gym probably comes a close second to donning a swimsuit in terms of potential for embarrassment. Many people often claim that they dislike gyms because they feel embarrassed about working out in public, so working out in a community park (surrounded by children, teenagers, dog walkers, etc.) would probably not be a good alternative!


2. No instruction

Again, for anyone starting out, these workout spaces provide very little instruction about how to use the equipment. Sure, each piece of kit may come with a sign explaining how to use it and what it’s good for (e.g. cardiovascular conditioning, leg strength, balance etc.) but there’s rarely any information about how to put everything together – for example, how long should you do each exercise for, how many exercises should you do in one session, how often should you do the exercises. This might seem to take the ‘fun’ out of using the equipment, but another barrier to exercise often cited by people is that they don’t know what to do! Providing free equipment is therefore only one half of the solution.


3. They just make no sense!

Okay, so this is my biggest argument against these outdoor ‘gyms’. Most of the ones that I have seen have at least one or two pieces of equipment that are designed to mimic the ‘cardio’ machines found in fitness centres. Now, call me crazy, but surely you have to question the sense of producing specialised outdoor equipment that mimics gym equipment…which was itself originally designed to mimic the kind of activities that people do outdoors! For example:

  • An outdoor ‘treadmill’ (i.e. steel rollers that you ‘run’ on) mimics an indoor treadmill which mimics walking or running!

  • An outdoor stationary bike mimics an indoor stationary bike which mimics cycling!


  • An ‘air walker’ mimics the beloved cross-trainer which mimics…well, I never really have managed to figure out what movement a cross-trainer is designed to imitate!


I mean, come on! You’re in a PARK! If you want to encourage people to excise, what about providing them with actual bikes? Or setting up a walking or running group? Or even a setting up a frisbee golf course?!


Now, okay, some of you may agree that providing outdoor cardio equipment might not be the best idea, but surely there’s a place for outdoor resistance machines like a shoulder press, chest press or leg press?

Well, I don’t know if you’ve ever come across any outdoor resistance machines, but on the whole they actually offer very little actual ‘resistance’, mainly because it’s tricky to provide an adjustable outdoor machine which won’t rust excessively or need regular maintenance, but also because it’s generally considered unsafe to provide heavy weights to the (unsupervised) general public. So, given that the ‘resistance’ machines don’t actually offer much resistance, why not just encourage people to use their own bodyweight instead:

  • Chest Press? —-> Why not a push up?
  • Shoulder Press? —–>Why not a pike push up?
  • Leg Press? —–> Why not a squat?

The same goes for machines like the ‘twist plate’ that are designed to improve hip mobility – what about good, old-fashioned hip circles? Or multi-planar lunges?


The solution?

I really do appreciate the councils are genuinely trying to encourage people to be more physically active and I definitely think that money invested in physical activity promotion / interventions could bring significant savings in terms of NHS costs. However, I think that money spent on outdoor cardio equipment and resistance machines is just a waste of resources. But what’s the alternative?

Personally, I would love to see some money spent on creating outdoor ‘gyms’ for adults which not only provide areas and advice on bodyweight exercises, but that also put the ‘play’ back into ‘playgrounds’ with balance beams, monkey bars, cargo nets and zip wires!



What are your thoughts on this issue and what physical activity promotion programmes do YOU think would be a good idea?

Personal Trainer



Inspire Your Personal Training Clients to Tackle Challenges One Step at a Time

Wilma Rudolph was born in 1940 to a poverty stricken family in

Clarksville, Tennessee. At a birth weight of 4½ pounds, her doctors didn’t expect her to survive through the night.

She did survive — barely — yet her fight for survival was just beginning. A sickly child, Wilma battled near-fatal bouts of scarlet fever and double pneumonia by the time she was just five years old. Just as it seemed the worst was behind her and she would get to enjoy a normal healthy childhood, at age seven her legs became progressively weaker and eventually deformed. Eventually she lost the function of her left leg.

Wilma was told she would never walk again. Her doctors advised her and her mother that the most reasonable course of action was to accept Wilma’s diagnosis as a cripple as soon as possible because polio was incurable at that time, and therefore unconquerable.

As luck would have it, her mother was not a reasonable woman. She either could not or would not grasp the finality of that diagnosis. She forced Wilma to once again fight an arduous battle; a battle more fierce and enduring than she ever could have imagined. Wilma began a physiotherapy regimen that lasted up to four hours per day, week after week, month after month, year after year without pause.

The process was exhausting and painful. Results came slowly, when they came at all, and Wilma was often discouraged. But her mother didn’t give up on her; she pushed her little girl harder and farther. Wilma reluctantly resolved to push on.

Her life changed one day in church when she decided she walk unaided down the aisle. Her attempt was crude and clumsy, but she walked. From that day forth she never had to depend on vision her mother held for her. She could see it for herself.

Her determination was unshakable. Wilma Rudolph was so encouraged by her unwieldy attempt at walking that she kept at it until little by little, step by step she got better…not by much, but by just enough to keep her motivated one step after another.

Her encouragement grew to the point where she allowed herself to be influenced by a coach at her school to join the track and field team. In her first race she came in last place.

That within itself is an inspiring finish not only to that race but to the story, but it doesn’t even come close to ending there.

In 1960, Wilma Rudolph made history by becoming the first American woman to win three Olympic gold medals in within the same Olympic Games. She is remembered as one of the fastest runners in history.

Wilma never started off with Olympic aspirations, she merely wanted to take a single step and then another.

The lesson for us all is when the challenges our personal training clients face seem insurmountable, it’s not a matter of going the distance, but simply one small step beyond where they are to where they wish to be.


Should we be running to a prescription?

Athletics coaching is a tough call: we may have a dozen or so teenagers and young people all itching to run the track, and we have to produce useful sprint drills, organise some useful and productive challenges, and learn about our athletes’ abilitie

s and weaknesses. We can hope to see some flourish and progress onto competition and achievement, and others will fall by the wayside through lack of persistence or motivation. Realistically, some will fail due to our own failings as a coach.

Here is a list of expectations of an athlete at a UKA affiliated athletics club:

Eyes focused at the end of the lane – tunnel vision
Head in line with the spine – held high and square
Face relaxed – jelly jaw – no tension – mouth relaxed
Chin down, not out
Shoulders down (long neck) relaxed and square in the lane at all times
Back straight (not hunched)
Abdominals braced (not tummy pulled in)
Smooth forward backward action of the arms – not across the body – drive back with elbows – brush vest with elbows – hands move from shoulder height to hips for men and from bust height to hips for the ladies
Elbows held at 90 degrees at all times (angle between upper arm and lower arm)
Hands relaxed – fingers loosely curled – thumb uppermost
Hips remain stable during execution of drills”

This list seems to push out fun in favour of elbow angles. While I am looking for efficient movement patterns, I am also keen to introduce games and challenges that will keep the club members coming back every week. Hip stability can best be achieved through training, and building the movements the body is lacking, rather than encouraging a self consciousness over body movement. The best moves are achieved subconsciously.
I don’t like to see this level of prescription in training teenagers. Running should be largely instinctive in my view, and I’d rather assist correction via training in movement, when it is necessary. Running is a freedom, a joy, but when an athlete chooses to train to compete he will need some guidance. Guidance, a few coaching points where there is risk of serious underachievement, and a reinforcement of the athlete’s strengths. Not a long list of postural corrections he has to remember as he reaches the starting block.