Expert fitness tips: Mark Williams
What’s your daily workout like?
I very rarely do anything in the morning and eat a big breakfast at around 10am. This allows me to get into the gym at lunchtime where I do a 45 minute core workout. I usually run in the evenings midweek and can do anything from a Hill Rep session to a 20K run. On weekends I skip the core workout, play football on either Saturday or Sunday and do my long weekend run (usually 25-28K) on the other day.
Do you have any fitness idols?
I am always amazed by some of the physiological statistics of some of the Tour de France riders. Greg Le Mond for example, had a V02 max (maximum oxygen consumption) of 92.5 at one stage in his career and Lance Armstrong’s maximum heart rate was 201bpm at one stage. These are statistics that tell you everything and the amount of training that they must do in order to achieve these is just mind blowing.
What’s your biggest motivation to keep fit?
I enjoy competing and being successful. As long as I can keep on finishing on the podium in races I will keep on being motivated to keep fit.
What’s your biggest weakness?
Lager, lager and lager. Don’t eat sweets and cake, don’t eat much fatty food but drink far too much beer for my liking. Easily get through a crate of Tiger (24 cans) or more every week.
As the official running coach for the Standard Chartered marathon and a seasoned runner, what’s your top tip for runners?
Out here in KL it is ‘stay hydrated’. We lose about 1kg or more of weight for every 10km run in the climatic conditions of Malaysia. This is mainly through water loss. Keeping ourselves well hydrated is key to success in achieving goals in running. What people must also remember that drinking whilst running will only be quenching the thirst. It takes about two hours for the water that we drink to be absorbed into our body tissues, so hydration is something that must be done carefully all of the time, especially in the hours pre-training.
Ideally how long before a marathon would a runner start training? Can you describe a typical marathon-training schedule?
Ten to 12 weeks, although elite runners’ programs can be up to 26 weeks in length. A typical marathon training schedule varies tremendously but the key essentials are strength training in the early part of the program; this includes building up the mileage but incorporating in work on hills to strengthen the legs. Then the heavy mileage stage where you build up the mileage to peak around four weeks prior to the race. Finally, the mileage comes down in the four weeks prior to the race and speed work is brought in to quicken the pace up. For a marathon, normally there is a two week ‘taper’. A ‘taper’ is when the mileage is brought down to make sure that we can be fully ready for the big race.
What’s the most common mistake people make with running?
Not running enough. I give people plans all of the time and very few people stick to them. There are no short-cuts in training for a marathon.
How would you advise runners looking to do the marathon for the first time?
Make sure that you get together with a group of like-minded people who are at the same stages of running and train for the race together. The number of times that I have not wanted to train, but have got myself out of the door due to the fact that I have arranged to meet someone for a run are countless. It is difficult at first to do it on your own.
Is it possible to run too much?
Absolutely! When we exert ourselves physically, our brain releases naturally occurring chemicals called endorphins, otherwise known as endogenous morphine. The release of endorphins when we run is known more commonly as ‘runner’s high’. Although not medically proven, it is thought that people can get addicted to this high and therefore feel the urge to run every day. This is fine most of the time as the benefits of running and being fit are well known. However, the problems start when people start to run through injuries or more seriously when they are ill. People do have to be sensible about running and make sure that when injured or under the weather, the running shoes should remain hung up! Emma Chong