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Qigong & Trails: A Costa Brava Marathon Adventure
6-10 October 2021

With just over six weeks to go before I head off to the Costa Brava I can’t tell you how excited I am. We have a great group with a fantastic time to be had by all.

I’ve been mixing up my training a little over the past few weeks and I’d like to share a few ideas with you.

What I’ve learnt about myself – having taken a break from running in the first lockdown and then having to very slowly come back to it after surgery last October – is that I need six runs a week to keep on top of things: three being easy, one longer run at a moderate effort level, a fun/tempo run and some sort of interval session.

Here’s an example of how my training panned out last week:


Easy Run


Easy breathing


Interval Hills

8 x 600m
intervals (400m rec)

Challenging but controlled breathing





Steady nasal breathing


Easy Run


Easy breathing


Easy Run


Easy breathing


Long Run


Comfortable breathing

    Easy Run: At an easy effort throughout. I aim to keep my average heart rate (HR) between 120-130 bpm. Bearing in mind, of course, that everyone’s HR zones are different depending on age, fitness levels etc. Also, many things affect your heart rate including heat, hydration, hormones, sleep etc. So avoid being a slave to the HR monitor and use it as bio-feedback to your effort level.

    Long Run: I’m running these comfortably nasal breathing, at an easy to moderate effort level just above aerobic threshold* with HR between 130-140 bpm. I go out with the intention that “I can run like this all day”. However, I’m not running all day but more like between 2-3 hours. Over the next couple of weeks I aim to get in a couple of 16 milers.

    Tempo Run: These are to get me used to sustained moderate effort with steady nasal breathing. Running them close to anaerobic threshold** at 135-145 bpm.

    Intervals: Running hills/different terrain repeats of between 2-6 minutes with the same amount of recovery time. Last week I ran 8 x 600m with 400m Easy Run recovery. The idea is not to be out of breath even though this is a harder effort. You should also be able to run the recovery at an easy pace. If it’s a steep hill I will use a little walk recovery before going back into an Easy Run.

    I make sure I’m feeling strong when I do these intervals and keep well within my current capabilities – I don’t ‘force’ or ‘try’ too hard but rather I focus on power through relaxation. I can’t emphasise enough that you should enjoy your practice.

    I’m training with heart rate and effort level since the terrain in Costa Brava is so varied. The first day is mostly flat cross country, the second more hilly as we run through the forest down to and along the coastal path (finishing with a nice dip in the sea!), with the last lots of fun – running, walking and scrambling along cliff paths.

    I’m not concerned with pace due to the varied terrain and since a lot of the time we’ll be walking, stopping to admire the vistas, drinking coffee – so I’m making sure I practise plenty of that in my training too with a regular stop at a favourite cafe on the Woodbury Wetlands.

    Woodbury Wetlands in north London

    Woodbury Wetlands in north London

    If you’d like more details please don’t hesitate to drop me an email at [email protected]

    You don’t necessarily need to do this much training in preparing for Costa Brava however. What is important is to get in three longish back-to-back runs. This prepares you for running on slightly tired legs which is what we’ll be doing during our three-day adventure!

    And if you’re perhaps interested in joining Elaine (Coach), Pablo (Trail Guide) and me in October (6-10) visit

    * Aerobic Threshold: A steady-state effort level that you feel you can perform for hours. The point at which fats and carbohydrates are consumed by the body at approximately the same rate 50/50.

    ** Anaerobic Threshold: Highest exercise intensity that you can sustain for a prolonged period of time.