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Oct 312015

Socks – Some Dos & Donts For Runners

Some advice from Shaun Brassfield-Thorpe

When it comes to an activity like walking or running, choosing good socks is every bit as important as having good shoes or boots. While the specifics of what you may need will probably vary depending upon the conditions (e.g. extreme heat or cold, wet weather etc) socks with a “cool max” / “dry max” type fibre are usually a very good choice. Don’t skimp on choosing good socks. Most people are prepared to pay considerable amounts for good quality running shoes (often far more than is really necessary) and yet a lot of the same people just wear whatever socks they happen to find in the drawer that day; the best shoes in the world won’t help much if your socks aren’t at least as good (if not better) than your shoes or boots.

Basic points to remember include :

1) Make sure that your socks are a proper fit.

“Near enough” may be fine for wearing around the house or office but for running and walking you really need to make sure that your socks fit properly – “One size fits all” usually means “One size fits nobody very well”…

socks-59638_6402) Never put your socks on in too great a hurry.

Make sure that you ease your foot into your sock carefully and that the sock covers your foot properly e.g. that the heel is in exactly the right place, that there is no bagginess around the toes and that you have no wrinkles in the fabric. A rucked-up sock is a near perfect way of causing a blister – so avoid this at all costs!

3) Make sure your feet are clean before you put your socks on

By this I don’t mean give them a wash but rather make sure that they haven’t picked up any sand, fluff or general grot (especially if you have just put something like vaseline on them). This is especially important if you are changing your socks and footwear outdoors, in the middle of an event, in windy conditions, in low light etc. Even a little bit of dirt stuck to the bottom of your foot or between the toes can lead to blisters etc after a few miles so while it may be frustrating to “waste” a minute making sure your feet are properly prepared before donning your socks, remember that this could end up saving you a lot of pain and lost time later.

4) Put your shoes on carefully

It would be a great shame to go to all the trouble of applying a lubricant, silicon or vaseline to your feet, making sure they are free from debris, carefully rolling your socks into place etc – only to then ruck up your socks by shoving your feet carelessly into your shoes. Make sure you ease your feet into your footwear in such a way that you don’t disturb your socks. Taking a few extra seconds over this could make all the difference between finishing a race with no foot problems and hobbling for miles with blisters.

socks-30406_6405) Practice this in training

Don’t treat footcare advice as being something to practice in a race only. Get into the habbit in training so that it becomes automatic. This will speed up any sock-change (or shoe-change) during an event and help to ensure you don’t forget the basics if running under pressure.

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Sep 242013

10 Ways to Run Faster & Longer 

Practice, practice, practice:

William_Sichel_Portable_Oxygen_UseRunning technique is essential, your heel should be first to touch the ground not the ball of your foot. Ensure your upper body is tall but not overly tense with your mid-foot landing under the hip. Arms should always move in a forward and back direction, if your arms move forward your knees will to.

Don’t run before you can walk:

You get out of running what you put in, but you must be measured in your approach. Too much too soon can at worst cause injuries, but also increased fatigue leads to a longer recovery period which will make it more difficult to get into a routine of running.

Vary your run:

Don’t be afraid to mix it up a bit. Slowly increase the length of a run until you can do more than 100 minutes relatively comfortably. Once you have that down build in another run once a week focusing entirely on speed.

It’s all in the stats:

Use a running app. The endorphin rush you get from knowing you ran a little faster or a little further than last week can be a great motivation, particularly if you train on your own.

There’s more to running than just running:

A powerful set of legs and lungs are required for a good runner. However having the correct posture when you run makes it easier to run faster and longer, this requires strong core stability. Focus one session a week on your core, press-ups, planking, sit-ups and crunches are essential.


If you’re short on time, interval training is the way to go. Try jogging down a street, and when you get to lamp post sprint to the next one. Do this for 5 minutes rest and repeat. If you’re not tired then you’re not sprinting hard enough.

Substance over style:

Make sure you pick the right shoes, not just a fancy looking pair. It’s worth trying on a few pairs of shoes before you decide what to buy, and always go half a size bigger than your normal shoe size, feet swell when they get hot.

Running in the rain:

The average runner’s feet will contact the ground 2,000 times over the course of a mile, dissipating over 100 tonnes of force. Your body will catch up to you eventually so think about those ankles and knees and stick to soft terrain when you can.

Run to the hills:

Well you can’t have it easy and run on flat ground the whole time can you? Make sure you build in regular hill sprints to your routine, they will increase speed on flats and improve muscle strength at a faster rate.

Give yourself a booost:

booost1Hyperoxia (using a higher percentage of oxygen) on average improves exercise performance by 18.7%, the only problem being that even in the countryside our atmosphere contains only 20% oxygen which is not enough for hyperoxia to occur, which is why we have portable 99% oxygen tanksPerformance oxygen should be taken on when the individual hits ‘the wall’ when that little voice creeps up in the back of your mind telling you that you’ve done enough for one day, that’s when you use booost, and it’s a point that only a few of us will get to.


Read William Sichel’s blog on his own site here



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Feb 052012

William Sichel of ULTRAfitnessTraining.com  comments on similarities between his approach and that of  Scott Jurek – read it here


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Jan 252012


The latest issue (#4) of the new FREE ultra-running e-magazine NORDIC ULTRA is now out. Read it below.

This issue features 2 articles from the team here at ULTRAfitnessTraining.com

William Sichel gives an overview of the Monaco “No Finish Line” 8-Day Race – William was the 2011 winner, setting a new 8-Day course record and becoming the first person ever to run over 1000km at the event.

Shaun Brassfield-Thorpe has provided another in depth article on training, this time he discusses stretching, flexibility and stiffness in relation to ultra-running.

– And lots more inside!

You can read NORDIC ULTRA #4 below (click to read)

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Nov 172011

ULTRAfitnessTraining.com offers a range of Personal Training Services including designing individual Training Plans & Programmes and providing on-going Training Advice & Support.

We work with everyone from beginners and those trying to get fit through to elite level athletes.

Please feel free to get in touch on


Part 3

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Nov 122011

Extra-Load – XL

We advocate the use of Extra Load (XL) exercises as a key aspect of fitness and athletic training.

William running with an XL vest

To put this in a nutshell, if a person’s body becomes acclimatised to training with extra-load then it becomes far easier to perform an exercise or compete in a sport when the load is removed. Our XL programmes are diverse and generally use an XL-pack but may also involve the use of conventional free weights and/or body-weight resistance exercises. Apart from increasing the development of both the strength and endurance of the muscular, cardiovascular and respiratory systems, XL training also has the advantage of dramatically reducing the time one needs to spend in conventional training by increasing the intensity – not the duration – of the workout. Whether you are already a top athlete or just returning to sports training, whether you are trying to get fit while holding down a job or whether you are doing your best to juggle training needs while you look after your family, being able to spend less time training while getting a more intense workout is a real bonus. An extra plus to this method is that reducing the duration of training also allows for greater recovery time between exercise sessions – giving more time for your body to build in improvements and to grow in strength and stamina.

Does this type of training really work?

Multiple World record holding ultra-distance runner William  Sichel considers the use of XL training to be one of the main reasons for his success in ultra-endurance events…

And here’s what some of our clients say :

ULTRAfitnessTraining.com offers a range of Personal Training Services including designing individual Training Plans & Programmes and providing on-going Training Advice & Support.

We work with everyone from beginners and those trying to get fit through to elite level athletes.

Please feel free to get in touch on




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Sep 232011

In this edition of the ULTRAfitnessTraining video podcast, multiple World Record holding ultra-distance athlete William Sichel talks to Shaun Brassfield-Thorpe about the subject of  runners who “DNF” / “Did Not Finish” races. The discussion covers

•    What is a DNF?
•    Why do runners DNF?
•    Why you should avoid DNFs
•    Setting multiple goals in races
•    How you can (usually!) ensure you finish any ultra-distance race

ULTRAfitnessTraining.com offers a range of Personal Training Services including designing individual Training Plans & Programmes and providing on-going Training Advice & Support. We work with everyone from beginners and those trying to get fit through to elite level athletes. Please feel free to get in touch on info@ultrafitnesstraining.com


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Sep 192011

William Sichel will be part of the Scottish team for the 24hr race in the Commonwealth Championships

Orkney-based ultra marathon runner, William Sichel (57) of ULTRAfitnessTraining.com, travels down to Wales this week, to take his place in the four man Scottish team competing in the 2nd Commonwealth 24 Hour Championships to be held in Llandudno on September 23/24th.

The last Commonwealth Championships were in September 2009 when the Scottish men won the team bronze medals in Keswick, Cumbria.

“In that event I was the 2nd Scottish finisher,” said William, “completing 133 miles in this non-stop event.  It would be good if I could match that kind of performance again. I’m in good form, uninjured and really looking forward to pulling on a Scottish vest once again.”

William will be joined by Paul Hart (Dumfries); Stephen White (Dundee) and Ritchie Cunningham (Dunfermline).

This will be William’s seventh Scottish ‘vest’ and marks a 16 year international career, his first call-up for Scotland having been in 1995, for the Anglo-Celtic Plate 100km event in Nottingham.
William has shown good form this year, winning the Hungarian 6 Day Championships in May, with a new overall British record distance of 518.34 miles and then the Cologne 48 Hour World Cup race in July.

In Hungary, in May 2011, William became the oldest British person ever to set an outright British athletics record.

William has set multiple ultra distance records (currently 54) at World, British and Scottish level including age groups.  Details here

In November 2006 and May 2010 William was honoured by the Orkney Islands Council for “outstanding achievements in sport”.

In September 2011 William was honoured by the “Island of Sanday” for “outstanding achievements in ultra distance running”.

For William’s full running CV click here
In the Athens 1000 Mile World Cup race held in March 2010 William was runner-up in an age-group world record of 13 days 20 hours, 8 minutes and 1 second.  Average of over 72 miles (2.8 marathons) a day.

William became the oldest British person ever to have completed a 1000 miles in under 16 days.

During the same race he also set age-group world records at 6 Days and 1000 kms.

When William ran his best 6 Day distance, in 2008, he covered almost 90 miles a day for six days.

William was treated for testicular cancer in 1997 (surgery and radiotherapy) but came back to win the World Masters 100km Championships the following year. Full story.

William is a member of the Orkney Athletic Club and was their ‘Male Athlete of the Year’ in 2010.

The Commonwealth Championchips, this year in  Llandudno, is a fully recognised, combined festival of ultra distance and mountain running and is open to entries from all 72 member countries of the Commonwealth Games Federation.  Full details of the Commonwealth Mountain and Ultra Distance Championships can be found here.

William is grateful to his sponsors Loganair and Myprotein.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1012282677
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/williamsichel
youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/williamsichel

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Sep 192011

Multiple World Record holding Ultra Distance runner William Sichel of ULTRAfitnessTraining.com talks about the benefits of incorporating barefoot / Shoeless running in training (part 1 of a series of videos)

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Aug 282011
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