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Running! My Passion, tips & tricks!

Yesterday marks the end of a fabulous weekend. If you follow me on Instagram, you may be aware that I just ran the City 2 surf with team Nike. I have been training for this race specifically for the past 6-weeks and as usual, I've had a fantastic experience. Running is an opportunity to make lifelong friends. Those who sweat together, stay together!

I want to inspire you to start running, so I've teamed up with Coach Matty from Nike Running to bring you all the tips and tricks you need to succeed! Coach Matty and I have broken this blog up into three sections to ensure sure we provide you with everything you need.

Part One: Isabelle’s Running Journey

Part Two: Isabelle and Coach Matty Collab. (Coming Sunday August 19th)

Part Three: A holistic approach to running. (Coming August Sunday August 26th)

Part 1 - Isabelle’s Running Journey

Why I run…


During my childhood years, I spent any free time keeping active by playing soccer, basketball, touch football or dancing with friends. When I started working in television at the young age of 16, I was challenged to find another physical activity to help me feel energized, happy and healthy. This is when I started running.... Unfortunately, there was a period of my life where I wasn't running for the right reasons. Pressures of the industry I work in and the want to conform to the standard ‘model’ body, I often found myself running as a form of punishment. I felt I had to run every day, even if I didn't want to. This motivation to running, purely because I felt I wasn't good enough, didn't last long! I truly believe exercise should never be done from the need of not feeling comfortable in your own skin.

This is why I want to encourage you to find the right reasons to why you want to run. Luckily for me, soon after this period I got my mind straight and fell in love with the feeling of moving my body again. I grew up on the beach in Newcastle, 2hrs North of Sydney in Australia, so there is nothing that beats the feeling of running by the ocean with my favourite music blaring in my ears.

I've been running now for around 8 years. It has been a roller coaster ride but running has positively impacted my life in so many ways. When I'm sad I run, when I need inspiration I run, when I'm happy I run…. for me I run because I'm obsessed with the way it makes me feel. I'm totally addicted to the feeling runners call ‘the runner's high’.


Past are the days of running just for fun. This year has been the first time I successfully began to take running more serious by challenging myself in various running events. I say successfully because I made the mistake of under eating and overtraining in the past which resulted in me burning out. This year I had a rewarding journey of setting goals, tracking my workouts and following a training plan in contrast to the years of running and not tracking any pace or distance.

The accountability of tracking my training to get better has made me realise that:

  1. Goal setting and proper training is a must if you want to become, fitter, faster and stronger.

  2. Balance is key. Train hard but you also need to rest and recover just as hard.

  3. If you want to improve you need to focus on eating nutrient dense food to balance your training.

Click here to read my blog on goal setting!


Moving forward into the second half of 2018, I have set new goals and challenges. Check out my blog on Goal setting is key to staying motivated. I want to run more races and events but my biggest challenge is to SLOW DOWN and I always need to keep this in mind.

My next goal is to start trail running. I'm a complete nature nerd, so the idea of running wild through unknown places gives me goosebumps. In the next few months I’m also planning to run another half-marathon, mainly because I enjoyed my last one so much and am excited to beat my time and see improvements.

In order to improve my running I will be focusing on improving my glute strength and spending time stabilizing and strengthening my hips and core.

When I set new goals I write a list of things I need to implement into my life in order to reach that goal:

'In order to improve my running, get faster, fitter and stronger I will' -

1. Begin reformer pilates to strengthen and stabilize.

2. Lift Weights and strength train more often.

3. Focus on improving my tempo, Interval and fartlek training days.

My training schedule:

Always changes depending on my goals, upcoming races, motivation levels and work requirements.

My current running schedule is:

Aim to run 5-6 days a week with a mixture of easy recovery runs, tempo running or interval training, hill based running, a weekly longer run and strength training.

Example training week pre city to surf:

Mon: Rest and recover with Massage and physio.

Tues: 30 min run + F45 strength session.

Wed: Interval or tempo run around 8km.

Thurs: 30 min run with some hill sprints or stairs + F45 strength session.

Friday: Hilly run - distance depending on how I feel.

Sat: Recovery run, walk, bike ride + a core and mobility session.

Sun: Long run with hills. depending on my training goals 12- 17 km

My fav pre and post run meals and snacks:

Early morning workout: Generally fasted or black coffee with a piece of my KETO krack.

Pre-run snack: Banana with almond butter or a slice of paleo bread and nut butter.

Meal: Paleo toast with nut butter and banana or poached eggs and veggies. (2hrs pre-run)

Post workout: Protein shake made with protein powder, healthy fats, fruit, dairy-free milk and fiber. Check out Isabelle’s blog post on how to make better smoothies!

Spotify Running Playlist by Isabelle and Matty:

We’ve put a Spotify playlist together to help get you started running. It’s designed with a tempo of around 170-180 bpm which will help with your running cadence.

Scroll down to read about coach Matty!


Part 2 - Isabelle & Coach Matty Collab

Why running?

There are many different reasons to why people run, mode of transport, fitness, weight loss, mental health + many more. The main ‘why’ we believe, comes from the positive impact running will has on your life. Running teaches us how strong we really are and is a great tool in developing mental stamina, motivation and a strong mind.

There is an internal power that strengthens the more you challenge the mind against our bodies abilities. For example; The first time you push through the feeling of wanting to quit on a challenging run but overcome your mind and keep going. These moments are what builds the fire we all need in life.

We believe that once you develop a consistent running routine, you to will see the way it will positively impact your life.

Top tips for a beginner:

Goal Set:

Everyone has different reasons and goals for why they run and we suggest you create your own goals. You might start off with a goal of running 3km without stopping and this may then re-set to running 5km without stopping. For some, it might be running your first 10km or even a Half Marathon. Once you have decided on your goal you need to outline a clear path to get there. With running, consistency is your best friend in getting to your goal the fastest.

Warm Up:It’s extremely important to warm up especially if you’re running first thing in the morning or straight after work. In the morning, you are awakening from been paralyzed for up to 6-8 hrs, so it’s really important you take the first 10-minutes of your run easy. Same goes if you’ve been sitting at your desk for a number of hours during your day, your hamstrings and hip flexors may have been in a shortened position and your glutes may have been inactive.

We suggest warming up with some glute activations as well as some dynamic stretching before you start an easy warm-up jog. Coach Matty has put together a short video for you.

Run with some Friends:

Personally, we love running with friends as it ensures we commit to running with the accountability of our friends. It also allows time to go quick, as you’re spending time with your friends and generally chatting along the way. Running with a friend (or friends / a group) makes exercise fun whilst getting out and being social. Isabelle and I highly recommend aiming for a minimum of one social run with your friends a week.

The simple act or run / walk:

When you first start your running journey, you may need to break your running into run / walk segments and you know what, that’s okay! Even I (Coach Matty) break my runs up into run / walk segments to get through training. We all start somewhere and we all have our off days so don’t feel bad or have a negative attitude if you need the odd walking break here and there. We also call this style of running Fartlek Training or Interval Training which intertwines running with walking or easy jogging. With beginners, we suggest starting your run off at a conversational pace, far too often we see beginners start their run to fast which will force you to stop a little short of your goal.

Check out the Nike+ Run club app for some awesome audio guided runs to get you started.

Listen to your body:

Your body is extremely smart at telling you what it wants. If you’re tired and sore give it some rest, especially if you’re just getting into running. It may also mean, you may have pushed a little too hard in the training session beforehand. Some days, you might feel great and you’ll be able to push the pace or hills a little, whereas, other days you might feel slow and sluggish and you may need to run a little easier. This is where you need to be adaptive to your training program and start to learn what your body needs. Here you become your own personal coach. When you have flexibility in your training plan it enables you to swap your sessions around. If you have a long run planned for Wednesday for example, but wake up not feeling great, swap it for a easier session you had scheduled and come back to it later in the week.

How to improve?

Like most good things, seeing improvements in your running takes patience. Living in the 21st Century, we live in a ‘now’ world where we expect to see results yesterday. However, keeping these following points in your program you will start to see improvements relatively fast.

  1. Mindset: the way you think is extremely powerful. Keep a positive mind, Encourage yourself and support yourself on the journey. We believe negative self-talk gets you nowhere. Adopting a positive attitude is important if you want to enjoy the process and continue running throughout your life,

  2. Consistency: is your best friend when it comes to running, building up your running to 3-4 times a week and you will see your improvements skyrocket.

  3. Nutrition: If you want to improve you need to nail your nutrition. Make sure you are eating enough food to support your training. We are designed to eat REAL FOOD. So try your best to focus on eating quality, nutrient dense whole foods. When beginning it can be a good idea to track how much energy you burn on your runs. This way you can make sure you refuel with the same amount.

  4. Recovery: is key to ensure you’re ready for your next training session. We suggest having a post-training snack within 45-minutes after you finish training, aiming for 7-8hrs sleep, foam rolling and stretching anything that may feel tight and spray magnesium onto your legs at night speeds up your recovery.

  5. Strength training: is a must for runners looking to improve and more so, to stay injury free. Strength training helps you apply more force to the ground and allows you to run further for longer. Every runner we see adding strength training to their program improves.

Check out our strength workout for runners!

Running Q+A :

Why do runners need strength training?Newton’s second law states Force = Mass x Acceleration. If you can apply more force to the ground on each foot-step your acceleration and running economy will be improved. In simple terms, improving your strength will allow you to run faster for longer. Running is a single leg sport so I highly suggest having a single leg exercise within your program as well as hip and core strength. Majority of injuries come from having a weak hip and core strength. The Nike Training App. has some great strength sessions you can add to your program, as well as, quick core sessions you can add to the end of your run.

Best way to increase endurance?To increase your endurance you need to improve your aerobic capacity and this is done through easier, slower runs. The best endurance runners in the world started running at an early age and have years of easy running in their legs. We also suggest adding some strength training into your program to help increase your strength endurance. Once you have done a number of weeks of easy running, you can then start adding in tempo running which is running at a comfortably hard pace within your run. Hill running is also another way you can increase your endurance, by adding a hilly run into your weekly program, it will make running on the flats a lot easier, it will also increase your leg strength.

How to find your ideal pace?

This all depends if you’re looking for your ideal pace for speed or endurance. You can have an ideal pace for a hard 5km and a completely different ideal pace for a marathon. But for the everyday runner, we suggest you should be running at a pace you can still hold a conversation. That might start off at 6:00min/km and over time with some consistent training and improvements, you may increase your conversational pace to 5:00min/km pace. If you’re looking for your ideal pace with some speed, we recommend running at a comfortably hard pace, which is where you can hold a broken conversation.

I'm a beginner.. how long will it take me to be able to run 10km or more?

Tough question without knowing your background. We do, however, suggest it takes up to 6-8 weeks to be able to run 5km comfortable without taking any breaks. Once you can run 5km well, you can improve pretty quickly from there as you have a great running base. With some consistency with your running training (3x a week), I would suggest a beginner could be running 10km comfortably in 10-12 weeks. Again, this comes down to your training history and time allocated to running each week.

How to act on your motivation in the moment?

  1. Remind yourself of your WHY!

  2. Keep a motivational image or quote on hand that will give you the boost you need.

  3. Ask yourself the question. If I don't do this am I going to wish that I did? 9/10 times your answer will be yes! So get out there tiger, what do you have to lose?

Tips for running in winter?

  1. Sign up to a running event in spring or beginning of summer, Sydney Running Festival is a favourite of ours and has an option for everyone. Having this goal will keep you accountable to getting up on those cold days knowing you need to train for your upcoming event.

  2. Schedule in a run with a friend. Having a friend to meet will keep you accountable to your running goal, it’s easy to give up on yourself and stay warm in bed but if you’ve committed to your friend, you’ll be there!

  3. Join a running group, this will not only help you get to your running goal but like having a friend to run with, it will keep you accountable.

How to avoid boredom when running?

Once you fall in love with running we strongly believe you won't be bored!! However our top tips for avoiding boredom are:

  1. Music, check out our spotify playlist above or create some of your own running playlists.

  2. Podcasts or Audio books. Visit the itunes store and save some informative or interesting podcasts. Isabelle loves to purchase audio books via the app ‘Audible’ to listen to on long run days.

  3. Audio guided running, check out the nike Run + club app for some guided runs.

  4. Intervals or tempo runs, if you get bored try change up your longer distances with sprints or tempo sessions. This style of training will also improve your cardiovascular fitness.

  5. Nature, Lace up those runners and get in nature. Is there a nearby trail or coastal track you can run on?

We highly recommend investing in some quality wireless running headphones. There are so many affordable brands on the market at the moment.

How to keep Treadmill running interesting?

Treadmill running can be monotonous but it can also be fun, some of our best tips are; listen to a podcast our favourites on health are ‘The model health show’ and ‘Mind Body Green’, the Nike Running App. has audio guided runs you can listen to, Kevin Hart's is a must, finally why not spice your treadmill running up with some intervals. Our favourite sessions are:

  • 20-minutes easy running with 6-8 x 100m sprints

  • 10-minutes easy running + 2-minutes running moderate, 1-minutes easy running/walking x 5 rounds.

You can also test try some of our other recommendations above like music, podcasts and audiobooks!

Strength Workout For Runner's


Part 3 - A holistic approach to running


Pre run:

If you like to eat before your training session we suggest giving yourself time to digest your food. Try waiting 1-2 hours after eating your meal or have a light snack 30-minutes before your run.

I (Isabelle) love to make my fudge for my early morning sessions. This fudge added with a banana is like heaven on earth.

If you’re eating close to your run, try opt for a some fresh fruit or a slice of gluten free or sprouted toast with healthy fats like avocado or nut butter.

If you are doing a high intensity training session its important to re-fuel with protein and complex carbohydrates. Isabelle's favs are banana and sweet potato.


The key to maximizing your hydration is the simple tool of tracking. I use a giant water bottle that is over 2 liters in size. I make it an effort to finish my bottle each day, If you can find a 1 liter bottle thats a great start. Make sure to refill it a few times a day. You can also add hour marks on your water bottle so you know easy hour you only need to drink X amount.

Pre and post run hydration


If I'm running early in the morning I always put a large glass or water next to my bed. When I wake, I make sure to drink it before having my morning pre-run coffee.

Post-run hydration is a must!! The first thing I do when I get home is drink a few glasses of water. Each run means extra water is needed that day.

Coach Matty:

When we are in a dehydrated state we perform poorly and energy can be low. For me, hydration is a daily habit, I try to start my day with a big glass of water which has a pinch of Himalayan sea salt in it. This starts my day perfect as I know I am rehydrating after a nights sleep and are including minerals within my hydration habits. During Summer, I will slightly increase my intake as my sweat output will be higher. Like Isabelle, I then have my morning coffee.

Post-run hydration is just as important as pre-run hydration as it starts the recovery process and also helps to flush any toxins and or lactate that might be in your system. Personally, I am for 2L a day in winter and 3L a day in Summer.

Long Run Nutrition



If I’m running first thing in the morning, I am able run fasted. If I’m going to be doing higher intensity session I’ll fuel with a ‘Bulletproof Coffee’ Black coffee with added MCT, coconut oil or grass fed butter.

NOTE: Both matty and I are experienced with burning fat as fuel so we recommend doing what works for your body type. If you need extra fuel make sure you have it!

If im not running first thing in the morning I will have a main meal a few hours before. I usually opt for paleo toast with eggs or nut butter and banana. Fats are must to sustain on the longer distances.

Post run

On my long run days I'll opt for one of these three things:

  • Post workout drink to maximize my recovery. I opt for a plant-based protein shake with added healthy fats like Peanut butter, coconut oil, chia seeds etc. Boost your shake with some veggie, fruit or superfoods.

  • Add a extra mini meal / snack between my usual 3 meals a day so I can refuel what I burn in my run.

  • I will add extra food to each meal for the rest of the day. The best way to do this is by adding nutrient dense foods to your meals. I like to increase the amount of fat on my plate by adding a few extra tablespoons of good quality oil, some nuts or a extra avocado.

Coach Matty:

Pre-Run, this all comes down to the outcome of my run. If I am opting to burn fat or have my body learning to utilize fat stores, I will do my long run fasted and first thing in the morning (up to around 20km). However, if I am aiming to perform during my long run I will ensure I fuel pre-run. This is generally done by eating a banana or toast with nut butter.

Post-Run, is all about recovering and recovering as fast as I can. If I am on the go, I will ensure I have a shake ready to go or make it as soon as I get home. If I have some time, I will opt for a nutrient dense meal which helps me recover fast for my next training session.


Recovery is extremely important and you need to treat your body like a bank account. You debit from your bank account through training and life stressors and you put credit back in through various recovery methods. Our favourite recover methods are:

  • Sleep, is the most important recovery method, we aim for between 7-8hrs a night.

  • Massage has so many benefits but if you’re a regular runner, try to opt for a massage once a month. This will help reduce any muscle tension, stimulate your lymphatic system, improve your mobility and also help relax you.

  • Physiotherapy is just as important as getting a massage and can prevent any injuries that may rise. What a physiotherapist can do, is take a look at your running and identify any weaknesses within your body that may lead to injury.

  • Stretching - dynamic and static, we start our training with dynamic stretching to get the body moving freely and we finish with static stretching to slow the body down.

  • Foam rolling and trigger point release can be done at any time and is used as a self-massage tool. We aim to foam roll daily on our major muscle groups.

  • Nutrition is key to recovering fast, the harder you train the more nutrition you need. We aim for a 4 carbohydrate to 1 protein mix on our harder, longer training sessions.

  • Hydration, we are made up of 50-65% water, so keeping up our hydration

  • Float Tank

  • Grounding/Earthing is the most overlooked recovery method but has on of the biggest effect. Grounding helps reduce inflammation within the body and helps bring your sympathetic nervous system back in align. If you want a simple low down on grounding check out Isabelle’s full moon post!

Pain & Injury

Shin splints:With shin splints it’s best to seek professional advice such as a podiatrist. However, generally speaking, shin splints are a biomechanical issue coming from your feet that may be pronating (rolling in) due to weakened strength in your feet or due to incorrect footwear. We suggest having your running filmed to see if this is the case and have the appropriate rehab and strengthening plan in place as well as correct footwear. We also suggest reducing the intensity of your running and opt to run on softer ground (grass for example).

ITB (Iliotibial Band Syndrome):

Better known as ‘runners knee’ and feels like someone is stabbing you in the side of your knee is quite a common injury for runners. Generally speaking, ITB Syndrome is caused due to an instability or weakness within the hips and more so, the Glute Medius. We suggest adding in hip mobility and hip strengthening exercises to prevent ITB Syndrome or to rehab your ITB issues. Our favourite exercise pre-run is, lateral banded walks plus single leg glute bridges.

If you experience any other pain when running we recommend visiting a physiotherapist. An expert can help you determine the reasons why this pain is occuring. They can also give you exercises to help you get stronger where you might be weak.

This blog post has covered everything you need to know to kick start your running journey. Now the power is in your hands. We can provide you with all the juicy tips, tricks and running information but in the end it's you that needs to take action.

Our goal is to support you on your journey and to empower you to take the leap.

Don't wait till tomorrow, the time is now! If you have finished it to the end of this blog I know your determined. So lets kick some ass, and run the world!!

Isabelle & Coach Matty


Coach Matty Abel is a Sydney based performance coach and endurance athlete. Matty started his career in the fitness industry in 2008 and is currently the head coach for Nike Running Pacific and owner of DBA Runners.

Matty specialises in strength and conditioning, 1 on 1 run coaching and group coaching.

Matty has achieved some outstanding results in his running career, including wins at Northburn 100 km (breaking the 2011 record by 2 hours 20 seconds), The Big Red Run 250 km multi stage event in 2013, representing Australia and New Zealand in the Sky Running World Championships in 2016 and recently running a PB at Sydney 10km in 33-minutes 57seconds.

Matty’s favourite quote is ‘Consistency is the secret to improvement and success’


Isabelle xx

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