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Ask the Coach - with Andy DuBois

Posted by John Ellis on

We had one of Australia's top Ultra Coaches, Andy Dubois from Mile 27, in store recently. 

Andy is one of Australia’s top Ultra Coaches with many elite runners from around the world on his books, including Stone Tsang, Wong Ho Chung and John Ellis in Hong Kong. He doesn't just work with elites, and takes as much satisfaction helping athletes just make the cut-offs to finish races they barely dreamt was possible .

With extensive experience in personal training, functional therapy, injury rehab and nutrition he is one of the most complete Ultra Coaches anywhere in the world. This is complemented by his background in elite endurance events, including representing Australia in the World Trail Running Championships, a top 3% finish at UTMB, and 2-time finisher of the Ironman World Championships at Kona.

So what does Andy recommend?

Andy is a big believer in the law of specificity - train at what you will be doing - which is an obvious concept but often forgotten by runners. He also brings a very scientific approach, breaking down the latest research findings to find the best training methods for his clients.
Key takeaways from the session were:
  1. Trail runners don't do enough speed work. Aim for two speed sessions per week, each with a specific goal, and mix it up, depending on where you're weak and what you'll be racing - track intervals, trail fartlek, uphill or downhill repeats, stairs etc. You'll improve your running economy which will save plenty of time and energy over an ultra. 
  2. Practice your fast flat or uphill hike. The average runner might spend half their 100km race walking but never trains for it. If they hiked at 6kph vs 4kph, they would finish more than 4 hours quicker! 
  3. How committed are you to that time goal, really? Most of us will too easily ditch our race targets when the going gets tough. Tips to help you keep pushing include putting in the training (you're invested), better pacing (second half overtaking gives you a boost) and pre-race visualisation. Try forcing a smile, even when you don't feel like it! 
  4. The taper - given the time it takes for the body to adapt, you won't get any physiological benefits in the last 1-2 weeks before a shorter race, or 3-4 weeks before an ultra. Your last long run should ideally be well before this. Going too hard during this period will only make you tired. Keep up the intensity but progressively reduce the volume into the taper.
  5. A little controversially, as someone who practiced yoga and based on the science he's read, Andy sees little benefit from yoga or stretching, other than mental rejuvenation and destressing (which admittedly is a valuable benefit). A regular massage, however, definitely helps. He also recommends one strength training workout per week, focusing on higher reps and running specific movements like pistol squats, squat jumps, lunge jumps and hopping. 

Want more info?

For more great running tips, check out Mile 27 and register for their mailing list. If you are looking for an online running coach who can provide a personalised programme and feedback, Andy has limited openings but can also refer you onto New Zealand ultra trail champ Scotty Hawker, who placed 12th place in the inaugural Ultra Trail World Tour in 2014 and is a great coach in his own right.

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