Tagged ultramarathon running

British Spartathlon Team Training Day

Shane Benzie from Running Reborn kindly hosted a running technique workshop for members of the British Spartathlon Team where he introduced his coaching work on body movement and efficiency of running based on his study and experience of working with a range of athletes including elite ultra-marathon and marathon runners.

This workshop was designed to look at different aspects of running technique and included various discussion and debate on a range of subjects, followed by video analysis of each individual runners style and advice on where individuals technique could be improved to increase their efficiency of movement. Shane also had a wealth of material collected from his previous work which included excellent examples of good form… the ‘train’ of African marathon runners running laps around a track in perfect unison was a joy to behold. The team didn’t quite feel brave enough to try and recreate this however!

The training day covered four main topics (and I hope I’ve remembered all the facts correctly!). The first focussed on footfall analysis and introduced a focus on the ‘foot tripod’ concept of hitting the ground using the three contact points of the bottom of the heel, ball of the big toe and ball of the little toe at the same time to spread the weight distribution when hitting the ground.

This led to the next phase of technique which looked at the movement and spring between strides which covered body angle (the 70 degree lean forward); vertical oscillation (spring between steps), cadence (around 175-185 is ideal) and leg movement in the air (cycling your legs).

Each of the runners running style was recorded and then analysed as a group and suggestions given on potential areas of improvement before they had an opportunity to try out their refined technique. Visible improvements were seen almost immediately although the effort of tweaking your style did require some concentration and effort and requires ongoing practice.

Following a lunch break where the guys chatted about running, events in general, a sneak preview of kit samples and some specific advice on Spartathlon for those newcomers to the team it was onto the second part of the training.

In the afternoon, the workshop focussed on the fascial bands in the body and looked at runners form (i.e. keeping a central line running from your forehead to your chest aligned and raised and head positioning looking forward) followed by the importance of your arms form both a technique and efficiency perspective (keep them loose not tense) and the fact that the arms are a key influence for cadence.


Those who attended the day found the advice and knowledge very useful and there were certainly a few areas where runners were going to try out the refinements to their technique. Whilst Shane was keen to impart his knowledge, this was offered on the basis that individual runners could take on board what worked for them and recognition that every runners is different.

The British Spartathlon Team would like to thank Shane for hosting the workshop. Shane also has a book coming out next year entitled “The Lost Art of Running” which can be pre-ordered from Amazon here which promises to be a very useful read for those interested in the subject of running technique.

For those interested in reading about Shane’s work and coaching services, you can visit his website here




2015 British Spartathlon Team


Good luck to the British Spartathlon Team, who may well be the toughest team you’ve never heard of.

On Friday the 25th September at 7am local time (5am GMT), a team of 21 British runners will start the gruelling Spartathlon event held every September in Greece.

The race sees some 390 runners from 42 different countries around the world attempt to make the 153-mile journey starting from the Acropolis in Athens to the statue of legendary King Leonidas in Sparta – a journey mimicking that of the Athenian messenger Pheidippides who ran the distance in advance of the 490BC Battle of Marathon to ask for Spartan help against the invading Persian forces.

Each runner will have to contend with a combination of the continuous non-stop nature of the race, the unforgiving heat, running through the night and a 1200 meter ascent and descent of Mount Parthenio in the dead of night. Runners must contend with all of these elements whilst trying to stay ahead of the race cut off times and reach their destination within 36 hours.

All of these aspects of the race will mean that only around a third of the runners who start will actually reach the finish.

The race doesn’t advertise or promote itself as the toughest or the hardest footrace in the world, it doesn’t need to. The challenge of finishing the event is obvious and runners participating in this event will experience both extreme physical and mental demands during the race.

The British Spartathlon Team plays a unique role in the race itself: RAF officers John Foden, John Scholtens and John McCarthy were the first three runners to complete the distance in 1982 when they set out to find if the story of Pheidippides could be repeated. Their success led to the first Open International Spartathlon Race a year later, and the formation of the International Spartathlon Association, the race’s governing body.

There is a strong British presence this year with the largest group of British runners that has ever taken part in the event and courtesy of Race Drone you can track the progress of the British team in real time via the following web link http://racedrone.net/event/spartathlon.

In addition there will be some live streaming of the race at the official Spartathlon Race website at http://www.spartathlon.gr/en and you can follow updates via the British Spartathlon Team official twitter account @SpartathletesUK

We wish the 2015 British Spartathlon Team every success for the event.

The team would also like to thank everyone who kindly sponsored and supported the team including Birmingham Runner, Bee Friends, Corr Recruitment, Floodies, RockTape, Newbury Runners, ULTRA Marathon Running Store, Ultra Sun, Race Drone and all the individual donations.