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BP – Before Power

Running Power… go on then what do you think this actually means?

Power, is nothing new in human terms as cyclists have been developing this as a means of training to a high level for some time.  Yet in running it is still very much in its infancy.
Garmin have had an app for a while yet the real pioneers have been Stryd. Yet when heart rate first came along back in the 80’s and into the 90’s it was a different story. Take you average sports watch and add in heart rate and away you go.  Then speed and distance came along and really took over as a means of training for many a runner.
So before we even look at ‘Training with Power’ let’s take a step back review what we have today and how that fits with improving your fitness.

Heart Rate: The precise measurement of your heart rate started with an ECG accurate chest strap. They could in fact measure more than just your beats per minute, also the time difference between each beat to help tell you the impact your training was having on your cardio fitness and then your state of recovery – but only from a cardio point of view.
The only reliable way to determine your training zones has never been through some formula but from a Lactate Test or to see a coach who knows how to interpret your racing heart rate trace.
The key thing with heart rate is that it is an accurate ‘rev counter’ to give you a true and precise picture as to how hard you are working. Yet heart rate does lag behind your activity, the more so the fitter you are. A real problem for short distance runners, especially sprint specialists. You will notice it most as you change speed and your heart rate takes a moment to catch up to your increasing effort – often referred to as heart rate ‘lag’.
So training heart rate is a response to the work you do, yet it is still the closest we have had to monitoring actual work load for years and in so many ways it is still the most important parameter to accurate and successful training development, especially in moving through the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems whilst minimising injury risk and over training.

Old School… Heart rate and timing device. The Polar Vantage XL sitting on its docking station having its memory read and uploaded to your Windows 3.1 PC.

Speed: This is nothing more than an output of the work you put in. A measurement of how fast you cover distance within a unit of time.  It makes no allowance for your state of fatigue, you’ll just run slower – probably at a higher heart rate than normal.
It is a tool for comparison, not really something to train by – well for most of the time.

Distance: Like speed this is again nothing more than an output. How far you ran for a given unit of time. In truth like speed, it’s great to know, yet on any given day we should always be asking ourselves, ‘Can I keep this effort up for the given distance, or time’.  So we are back to ‘Effort’ and using heart rate as a rev counter to help with this.  Altitude, falls into this bracket too.

Heart rate training has a massive benefit over training to speed, especially for recovery and aerobic into tempo runs. Here’s the thing, ‘Cardiac Drift’. So you run to a set speed for aerobic benefit, so nothing too taxing, your are out of breathe yet still talking. As you run, you fatigue. Your heart rate climbs and you become increasingly ‘anaerobic’ in you run. Fatigue levels and post run recovery are both exponentially increasing. As you become more anaerobic your body is attempting to force you back into an aerobic state, it is after all happiest and safer there.
Yet, if you had run to heart rate then as you fatigued you would have only slowed down. Less fatigue and much less recovery time, which has to be a good thing. Both the science and anecdotal evidence clearly shows that the point you slow down to maintain heart rate is pushed further and further away when you train to specific training zones. If that is the case then speed is maintained for longer so your average speed is shown as a much higher output, which is something we all would like.

All sounds pretty good, plenty of information at our finger tips and some very smart ways of training.  Yet, heart rate as a training tool can so easily be better understood. Yes the Heart Rate levels are pretty unique to the individual and working out your training zones is often discussed as hit and miss.  Yet by seeking out a little help and advice, the rewards of training by utilising your own personalised heart rate training zones is very well documented and for those that do the rewards and improvements speak for themselves.

So to add to the list we are seeing the introduction of ‘Running Power’ as a measurement. Yet, is it just another statistic and an output or is it actually something we can, like the cyclists, train by?

Now that is a very good question indeed and I am still to answer the very first question that I asked!

The New Polar Vantage V and M. With both the ‘V’ and ‘M’ comes a massive step up in wrist based heart rate accuracy but also Power with the ‘V’.

Now If I have caught you attention the second part to this post will take a look at ‘Running Power’ as a true metric, or is it still an output..?
Sorry, I think I just left another question hanging…

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  • (Biology) the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment.
  • the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates.


Ladies and Gentlemen… here’s a hard truth – RUNNING IS HARD WORK.

It’s so often overlooked.  But it is a fact.  We are organisms.  We react over time to our surroundings and more importantly, as runners, we respond to the demands of our environment.

If you sit still for 7 days a week, you can become world class at sitting still.  Your body takes note of your ‘environment’ and for efficiency, simply doesn’t waste time trying to be race ready just in case.

We’re way beyond outrunning lethal predators.  We no longer run to score food.  If there appears to be no need, there’s no ability.

No stength.  No circulation.  No form.  No recovery.

Doesn’t matter which movie you just saw.  Which blog (cough) you just read.  Inspiration matters not one jot – if you don’t allow the body to develop natuarally over time.

If a machine can’t perform at the required level, we build a better machine.  Swap a component.  Design a stronger machine from sctratch.  Use a more powerful fuel.

As organisms, we can’t do this.  We have to make slow gradual changes, learning how best to adapt while avoiding damage.

You have to maintain the process.  Your body will begin to adapt to a sedentary lifestyle the moment it can.  You can’t store fitness for long.  Your body doesn’t keep it on the back burner.

No training – no performance.  Over training – injury.  Slow gradual influence and constant requirement for little/often – gradual increase in performance.  Full stop.

Increase when you should.  Take note of the feedback your body gives you.  Understand your own individual strengths/weaknesses.

And perhaps most importantly – remember that no product can do this for you.  Running shoes and equipment make the PROCESS more fun, but they will not do the running for you.

Anything claiming otherwise is lies.




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(Don’t) know your limits! Go for it!!!

So, I’m an experienced runner. I’ve been running for about 10 years now, and with 5 marathons under my belt, I should be pretty confident. Should!
My running was initially road, hardcore training watching pace per mile and pounding the streets. Then I think I just got bored chasing the seconds and wanted a new challenge…along came trail running. Without doubt the new love of my life where running is about fresh air and freedom.
Sunday 28th October (as I write this, yesterday) was a whole new thing for me. I ran the Woodhead Mountain Rescue Grin n Bear It fell race, supported by Accelerate. I had contemplated it a few times, but then shied away from it. To seasoned fell runners, this probably seems a bit daft. However, I realised that I moved from road to trails and stayed within my safe trail zone: easy routes, fully waymarked and nothing too technical. This Grin n Bear It was a proper fell race, 16 miles of peat bogs, swampy grass, hills, mud, scrambling and requiring navigation. Not going to lie, I was nervous before hand.
It would have been really easy to back out, say I wasn’t fit enough or ready for the race, but I didn’t.. Okay, it wasn’t my fastest race. I wasn’t in the top 20% of finishers, but I’m pleased but I achieved something even better. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, exposed conditions, extreme ground and tested out new kit. I BLOOMING LOVED IT! I’m up for the next challenge

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Do love a good hill #noshortcuts

I’d planned a leisurely weekend in the lakes with a mate, bit of parkrun tourism at Keswick….then get asked to help out with steel city striders’ relay team. They were a couple of ladies down due to injury for the British fell relay champs in Grasmere. Seemed like fate, given I was a mere 15 minutes away from race hq.

Felt absolutely shocking with a cold all week, bricking it about having stamina for a Race I knew nothing about, other than a big chuff off hill. Prepared? Not a chance! Still, I had base fitness and couldn’t not do it.

Race day was typical October lake district weather. Rain. Mist. Grey. Still there was a buzz of excitement in the air and as we lined up for leg 1, the crazy mix of emotions stirring. Let’s do this!

Tearing off from the start straight up a muddy bank, steam rising off us runners and lots of huffing and sliding. When we hit a flatter section relief quickly changed as a I realised my legs were jelly. Ha ha. Only 4.5 miles to go!! The trail was awesome with a gentle up with a few cheeky inclines, tracking a river as we climbed…and climbed…then more climb. We hit a scrambling, fun rocky section weaving around and rock hopping. Check point 2! We were directed left along what looked a flat, grassy section. “Looked”

Hidden from us due to heavy mist was a HUGE climb. Scrambling up steep shale, before crawling up steep incline we set up and up until…yay we reached the top! Awesome. Strong wind and rain at the top I needed windscreen wipers for for my eyeballs, we started down the super slippy grass descent. There was someone in a bad way half way down (hoping he is ok, slippy slidy grass and rocks are a crazy combo), but managed to trot on vertical towards the end. Quads burning, the trainers held in. loving these badboys (Scott kinabalu).

Wasn’t a fab of that demon climb just before the finish I’ll be honest but lived the sprint finish. What a race. 5.3 miles 2400ft elevation. When’s next year’s race….
Lessons learned? Go for it! #noshortcuts #teamaccelerate #teamacceleratescott

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Northern Masters 5K Road Championship Race Report – by Dot Kesterton

Dot Kesterton is no stranger to BUZZ, with plenty of experience, teaching runners half her age how it’s done!

Running for #TeamAccelerate, as well as Sheffield’s Steel City Striders & her local ladies club ‘Smiley Paces’ – she competes within the V60 category (outdoing many in the V50 & V40) and runs like she means it.







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