What is Mindfulness?

 Most of you have heard of the term "Mindfulness" in one form another, and from seeing the word alone you probably have a basic understanding of its meaning. You've also probably read one of the great many books published yearly on the subject. What exactly is it? While a full in detail history is not the aim of this article a brief understanding will be provided. The aim of this post is not to feature an exhaustive list of full techniques or even a list of new ones, it is to give you an idea of some of the ways Mindfulness has been deployed  by high performers in different areas in order to inspire your questioning on the subject.It will also give you idea of some of the research that has been done, and is still being done in the areas discussed.

Mindfulness is an an ancient practise with roots in Hinduism and Buddhism. It's worth noting however that there are differences between the path of the development of Mindfulness in the East and West. As in the East the roots of Mindfulness can be traced from many Eastern religious traditions the roots of Mindfulness in the West are more Secular in nature emanating from specific groups or individuals. While other religions do employ Mindfulness as a practise in some way the majority of teachings come from the specific writings of Buddhism and Hinduism.

From the Hindu perspective Mindfulness has appeared in many forms in many texts  including the Bhagavad Gita where Mindfulness practises are extensively written about. There is a full range of discussion from Yoga to Vedic Meditation. In Buddhism there is a much more heavy emphasis on Mindfulness and less on sacred writings or beliefs than Hindusim. It's from this area that many modern Mindfulness techniques derive to the extent that many now believe most Mindfulness practictioners to be practising a diluted form of Buddhism. It's Mindfulness known as "Sati" that is the first step to enlightenment.

Sati although not specifically the most accurate meaning is seen as the English translation of the Pali word Sati which is a more detailed concept than some of the simplistic definitions employed. It is however the closest Buddhist concept to what non Buddhists see as Mindfulness. There are two sides to Sati the first as one of the five mental qualities, and the second as the practise  of Sati itself.Both aspects have key roles in the practise of Meditation. The five mental qualities are Mindfulness(Sati), Wisdom, Energy, Concentration, and Faith. In this context Sati in Buddhism in linked to remembering, and it is more a holding an "Awareness" of something in the Mind.

When we look at the practise of Sati we see that it brings together all other mental qualities in combination with specific mental qualities. As described here from Buddhist Scripture one example defines Mindfulness as:

"What, friends, is right mindfulness?  Here a monk abides contemplating the body as body, ardent, fully aware and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating feelings as feelings, ardent, fully aware and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating mind states as mind states, ardent fully aware and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating mind-objects as mind-objects, ardent, fully aware and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world."

The Extract above illustrates clearly the bringing together of four areas Body, Feeling, Mind-States, and Mind Objects. Another example defines this as:

“Mindfully one abandons wrong view, mindfully one enters upon and abides in right view: this is one’s right sati.”

Which ever definition is chosen what is clear to see are the two themes of abandoning what no longer serves, and developing a very high level awareness. This allows for the development of the state of existing but not clinging to life. An essential quality Buddhists of all sects especially Zen Buddhists must develop on the path to Enlightenment. It's these teachings that have become the basis for many of the practises of Mindfulness we have today.

Yoga is linked so much to Mindfulness that some forms of Yoga are not classed as Yoga but actually as Mindfulness practises in themselves. This has even been demonstrated on a Clinical level in modern Mindfulness interventions as (Gaiswinkler & Unterrainer, 2016) point out below: 

"researchers found that people who are heavily involved with a yoga practise had higher levels of mindfulness than people who were only slightly involved with yoga or who were not involved in a yoga practis."

It's clear the value of Yoga practise as a form of Mindfulness practise is without doubt, and a there is an increasing level of research appearing in many Journals such as British Medical Journal who have featured Studies on the impact of Yoga Mindfulness practise to a full range of areas from Heart Decease to Stress Management in Surgeons. However the biggest influence on Mindfulness as a clinical intervention came from Jon Kabat-Zinn who deserves write up all by himself a founding father of modern Mindfulness.

Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, MSBR and the founding of Modern Mindfulness

Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn is an American Professor Emeritus Of Medicine with specialism in Molecular Biology. During his studies at MIT he attended a lecture by Roshi Philip Kapleau which sparked him to look further into the subject of Zen Mindfulness. From this first inspiration came the hunger to study under more teachers in the area of Mindfulness from Thich Nhat Hanh and Korean Zen Master Seungsahn who was known as one of the finest Zen teachers as can be seen in this example of penetrating spirit and transmition to his students.It's these studies and his time at the Insight Meditation Society that lead to his creation of the Stress Reduction Clinic where taught what came to be known as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.

His aim was to completely remove Mindfulness from its religious and Spiritual basis to allow a completely evidence based scientific practise to develop. In doing so he founded the Center for Mindfulness in Medicne, Health Care, and Society in Massachusetts.  His eight week course provides an evidence based combination of Meditation and Hatha Yoga as a clinical intervention for many different Conditions. The course is designed to help the patient cope with Conditions ranging from Stress, Illness , and Pain right through Eating using what he calls "Moment to Moment" Awareness. He has published a number of books with his first book Full Catastrophe Living being a classic in field of Mindfulness-Based Intervention(MBI's). He  has worked extensively around the World with many MSBR clinics being opened in many different Countries. The US Military as we shall see even has its own MSBR programs. It is his work work that forms the basis for the techniques we will look at next in many of our high performers.

Case Study 1: United States Special Forces MFBRT

One of the best examples of high performers in the Military domain adopting MBI's is the United States Special Forces under what has been aptly named by West Point Military Academy as the "Jedi Warrior Program" or fully the Mind Fitness Based Resilience Training Program(MFBRT). In 1982 the United States Army commissioned several experts as part of a top secret project to develop a 6 Month long MBI program based on, and inspired by similar research by the Chinese and Russian Military at the same time period. This program was originally designed for Tier 1 Special Forces Operators to support their ability to deal with high intensity and high stress combat situations. With a design brief to "reduce and control the Conflict on the inside of the soldier in order to overcome the conflict on the outside of the Soldier". The techniques had to work with Operators who performed in "conditions of high distress where a failure could lead to the next world war". The primary question they set out to answer was:

“If you had the opportunity to work intensively for six months with men who were in a position to start or stop the next world war, what would you do and what would be most essential to teach them?”

The end result was an intense 6 month program which was designed to focus on improvement within both the OODA and VUCA Models employed on the modern battlefield. This program featured elements such the one month long Aikido and Mindfulness Retreat known as "The Encampment" which features a high intensity combination of Aikido based Combatives and Mindfulness training designed to significantly increase performance through increasing the inner strengths of the Operator to the point where they were able to push through their own mental barriers, but what exactly were the kind of techniques used in this program?

Technique 1:The Gut Check

This is less of a technique and more of series of Drills known officially as "Inoculation Drills". Initially this was an exercise at the end of the Encampment which aimed to put Operators under an number of Pressure based situations which featured certain constrictions at the same time after executing a Parachute Jump at night. Operators were told to solve a number of problems against Time Limitations which forced them to think correctly under extreme Stress. You can use this technique in your own training to do exactly the same. Pressure situations which force you to adapt constantly while remaining Constantly while remaining calm under conditions of increasing Fatigue. It can be done with something as simple as a technique based Fitness Circuit or a full on Group Combat Situation.

Technique 2: The Pain Inventory

Nicknames the Pain Inventory by some imaginative Special Forces Instructors the technique can be used on any form of Discomfort is more accurately in as an MBI know as Mindfulness of Physical Discomfort. This involves following an internal management strategy known as Interoception to prepare the Mind to maintain the Homeostasis of the Body in order to perform in times of Stress. Once of these techniques if the "Pain Inventory". Which works on the following sequence of:

2-Acknowledge the Moment
3-Identify,refocus and reaffirm step 2

The Sequence is performed as follows in a combination with well regulated Breath Control you would employ the following dialogue internally towards your activity:

To illustrate this principle we will use a simple example of someone doing 50 Press Ups.
A:Mentally Acknowledge you're about to face a challenging situation."I am aware of what I face, I'm prepared I have trained for this, I remember my training this will be easy, I can do this because I know I have done it many times before"

B: Mentally Acknowledge the feelings of Discomfort are temporary in this moment "I know this will not last and it will end so I know I can and will keep going"

C :Identify the Pain "Right now I am feeling discomfort in x,y or z location and I know it is nearly over(reaffirming step 2 that it is a momentary situation" then refocus on the task.

D:Compartmentalise by breaking the task into the smallest possible unit and focusing on technical elements meaning you're not doing 50 Press Ups but in that moment 1 Press Up. To do this use the Right Now Statement as follows "Right now I am doing 1 Press Up" work through the reps. This will help you tolerate or completely breakdown the pain.

Technique 3: SLLS Sniper Refocus Technique

This is technique developed for Snipers who face a very specific task within the Military, and they need a have a need for Skill set of their own. Snipers are required to operate in situations which subject them to prolonged periods intense Stress and Fatigue while carrying heavy equipment. T
he purpose of this drill is to prevent you reacting to external stimuli. The sequence is in the following steps:

1-STOP what you're doing.
2-LOOK around at your surroundings note what you see and then let it go.
3-LISTEN to the Sounds in your surroundings, note what you hear and let it go.
4-SMELL the Smells of your surroundings note what you smell and  then let it go.

The purpose of this technique is to note and let go without any reaction or judgement of your surroundings. During training you will taught to use this technique at regular intervals to center yourself and break the natural habit of ups/downs in negative thought patterns that occur during a normal day.

Technique 4:Active Meditation

We are all familiar with "Passive" Meditation, but the real value of Meditation comes when we can Meditate in the Chaos under Pressure. The purpose of this technique is to teach you endure fear. It is a very simple practise that revolves around having your own Mantra which you repeat during Chaotic times. This changes your focus by directing the focus inward. The aim unlike passive techniques is not to remove the Chaos, but to become focused during it. To make this technique as powerful as possible use an " I am" Mantra for full effect. One example of a Mantra you can use is:

I am Unstoppable, I am Unbreakable, I am Focused, I am Determined

Technique 5: The 4 Pillars of Individual Mindfulness

One of the key indicators of the mentally resilient Operator was the presence of what was known as the 4 Pillars of Individual Mindfulness. These were key Qualities which enabled the Operator to most handle the demands of the chosen profession. Individual Mindfulness was defined by Instructors in this program as "A flexible state of mind in which the Operator is actively engaged in the Present Moment, noticing new situations and sensitive to context". The 4 Pillars of Mindfulness were designed to actively protect against the Stress's of deployment situations, increase comfort with uncertainty and increase focus. The 4 Pillars form the "Individual" component of the Mindfulness in Action programs which also include group Mindfulness Strategies. So what are the 4 Pillars and how do you use them?

Pillar 1:Have full Awareness the Details of your situation
You should be Mindful and Aware of the details in your Environment. You should be able to under pressure discriminate between the most important details.

Pillar 2: Actively Engage in the Present Moment
Use "Right Now" thinking to remain focused on what you're doing in the present right in front of you.

Pillar 3:Maintain a Flexible and Open State of Mind
Acknowledge that there are many ways to achieve an aim and be open to all of them as the Moment Changes.

Pillar 4: Acknowledge there are Multiple Possibilities
The only thing that is certain about the plan is that it will change. If you acknowledge that, and then expect it you will find find it becoming a Strength when you deal with uncertainty.

Case Study 2:NASA, Mindfulion  Leadership, Gravity Science and the "Space Stupids"

NASA as with other Space programs around have to cope with a unique set demands which have a an impact like other on the human mind and body. Supporting an Astronaut in Space demands support so specific and effective that it cannot fail. It is for this reason NASA has turned to MBI as another tool in mentally dealing with the demands of working in Space Environment. The name now famously given to the collection of demands and stresses faced by the Astronaut in Space is the "Space Stupids". Indeed Problems posed to Astronauts while in Space leave no margin for error with the result of a failure being death to the Astronaut.

NASA has vowed never to lose an Astronaut, and this means they can employ only the most effective evidence based tools. Another problem posed is the limited size of the subjects available for sampling, this means many of the techniques devised are still studied mostly in Earth environments all be it with an attempt to add as many unique Stress's as possible. All in all this leaves NASA always facing the unknown of the ultimate pressure test in Space. As the famous saying goes the first casualty is always the plan. For a full history of Psychological research in Space you can read The Psychology of Space Exploration which outlines the History, Challenges and current Solutions to Space problems. At various points in History NASA has investigated and refined a number of techniques through research to integrate into its many many in depth training Modules. It is not the objective here to provide a complete overview of Research and Techniques that can be a subject for another time. I will providing techniques designed by key experts at different times to illustrate how MBI's are being employed for Astronaut support. Use these techniques to ensure you don't get your own "Space Stupids".

Technique 1:Kranz and Mindful Leadership

NASA recognised that failure did indeed exist in the form of Catastrophic events which cause the loss an Astronaut from which there is no return. It is this failure that NASA states will never be an option. One of the most famous incidents in the history of NASA is the Apollo 13 Mission which is one the best examples of Leadership and Problem Solving under pressure. it is also where this technique came from as under the Gene Kranz they did indeed avoid failure. A study of the life and lessons of Kranz is one of the best of Leadership in general. It is from him we discuss our first technique which is aimed controlling our initial fear reaction. There is a crucial split second moment in the resolution of any Crisis that determines how that Crisis will unfold, and that point is in itself the exact moment we accept that we do in fact have a Crisis to deal with. It is what you or team do in the moment of this acceptance, and the time after it that will determine the ultimate outcome. One of the areas MBI's have shown the most clinical promise is at the moment of controlling the Fear reaction by allowing for more effective Heart rate control combined with reduction in the emotional impact of an immediately negative situation by changing perception quickly. Is is also one of the finest examples of MBI on a leadership level.

The aim of this technique is to put on a stop on any Catastrophic thinking or reactions which can be natural once a problem is accepted. It is crucial that negative Emotions are kept in check, and that you are mindful that even in a problem situation you're starting from a position of "good" as no situation is completely bad. You can apply this situation to yourself as an individual or as team, and this links in to basic awareness which was mentioned as part of the earlier definitions of Mindfulness.

Step 1: Slow down and Stabilize(Mindful Reframe)

The key here was to direct the attentions toward what was good about the situation already, and you can by asking the a simple question"what have we got that's good?" or "what have we got that's working for us right now?" or "what is good about my problem?". In order to respond effectively to the Crisis be mindful of what you already have in your favour at the time. Kranz was known for telling his team to "keep their cool" often. He wanted his team to avoid the panic moments and distorted thinking that can come with crisis.

Step 2: Focus on the problems you can solve(Mindful Tools Inventory)

The aim is not to focus on solving all of the problems because you can't do that. The aim is to take become Mindful of what you personally can solve then start with that. If you have a group you get in whoever you need to solve what you can't. Take the pressure off yourself to solve every problem ask yourself "What can I do right now?"

Step 3:Work the problem(Mindful Self Direction of Attention)

This is the step where you focus on what you can control. It's a direct focus on the actions you would be taking toward the end solution. If it does not contribute to your end solution you don't work it. In the case of Apollo 13 crew Kranz and his team had the task of working the problem with exactly the same tools the Astronauts had. Why did he do that? he was Mindful that any solution which involves tools the Astronauts had no access to was not a solution at all. It was through this Mindfulness of the situation that his team worked the problems most directly facing the Astronauts. Build on what you know, and building on what you can do. This strategy is the same in any problem your or your team face.

Technique 2:Gravity Science or how to Sleep in Space

When the price of failure is so high you can't afford to have a bad night Sleep. One of the biggest challenges faced by NASA Astronauts was to have a an effective Sleeping pattern in conditions of Zero Gravity. In order to achieve good sleep patterns NASA had to remove medications which carry their own set of unique complications and focus on non medicated Psychological program, which by design has the main focus of removing the blocks to a good night Sleep. Every Astronaut has a tailored program designed by the Behavioural Health and Performance Team. The challenge facing Astronauts is to be able to sleep outside of the normal 24 hour cycle which is normal for sleeping patterns on Earth. The ISS orbits the Earth every 92 minutes and Astronauts face 16 Sunsets/Sunrises per day. This is a problem known as "Circadian Misalignment" it occurs on both prolonged and short term Space flights. NASA Psychiatrists have devised several programs through MBI's which help to naturalise sleeping patterns and you can use them yourself:

1-Mindful Time Management(Awareness and Intention)

One of the first techniques is to block out Sleep and Awake time. This may seem obvious, but is maybe the rest of the solution which isn't. Astronauts are required to carry out a non judgemental inventory of themselves around these times. The aim here is through awareness the Astronaut will be able to firstly remove the negative blocks and second direct intention towards sleep. You train the Brain to become habituated to periods of Sleep to the point were Astronauts will set individualised Alarms to notify them it is now time to begin the "Pre-sleep Routine".Once the Brain has designated a period of time as Sleeping time this is not disturbed. Astronauts are also directed to do the opposites. They are required to take an inventory of themselves in the hours directly after waking. Support is then developed in part around these evaluations. The challenge here is that this is all on the Astronaut as once they're on flight this training cannot be done, it is down to the Astronaut to deploy his or her training. However in collecting this Data for processing in  more in depth fashion Astronauts wear an Actiwatch Spectrum System which ensures Astronauts are hitting targets for healthy Sleep duration. Astronauts are required to undergo the Reaction Sleep Test which is a 5 Minute test designed to access the Astronauts level of Circadian disruption. Key data from this test allows mission control to evaluate the effectiveness of Sleep management programs aboard the ISS.

2-Mindful Breathing 

One of the key areas investigated by Goddard Space Flight Center is the effect of prolonged Stress in Space. NASA have set the 1YM(one year mission) to investigate the effect of prolonged exposure to Space. Investigations at the Goddard Space Flight Center have focused on techniques ranging from Neuromapping to basic Journal Writing. One standout area which was noted was the impact of prolonged Stress on Sleep duration and quality. As a result Astronauts were taught Mindful Breathing to manage Stress effectively. As with other methods the aim is have these strategies become Habit. One of the most simple Breathing routines investigated by the Goddard Space Flight Center is 4 count Breathing(or Tactical Breathing in Special Forces Terms). Astronauts are taught to use this method of Breathing for 5 minute time periods 4 times minimum per day. The reasoning is simple to interrupt regularly any Stress patterns before they develop. Instead of deploying this as a stress reduction technique the aim is in not allowing those thoughts to develop in the first place. Its a simple technique as follows first breath in for a count of 4 Seconds, hold the breath for 4 Seconds and then breath out for 4 Seconds.

Technique 3:Mindful Moves, LIPA and MAT

 One of the key figures in increasing the effective of MBI's within the Astronaut training programs is Dr Joan Vernikos former  Director of Nasa Life Sciences Division and Pioneer in developing new insights within the field of Inactivity Physiology. She has develop what is now know known as Mindful Alexander Technique as a form of MBI. Mindful Alexander Technique is an evidence based clinical intervention method designed to help treat a number of conditions through combinations of Mindfulness, Alexander Techniques and Gravity Science. It is this program that is taught to Astronauts to help manage the Stress of training on Earth and in Space. Here is how you can use the same principles to develop your own MAT Stress Management Techniques:

Apply LIPA with Mindful Breathing

Low intensity physical activity can be combined with Mindful Breathing in many ways. One of the best is to use your Mindful Breathing periods as periods of Mindful Walking. Another method used by Astronauts is what is called "Mindful Moves". You can do that by choosing one Yoga movement which you can do at regular intervals through your day. You can even choose one or two, but you must elevate your Pulse gently with low level of activity. Astronauts perform 30 minutes Yoga flows per day as  part of daily training. NASA has deemed the MAT technique so important that they now attach a Yoga Specialist to every training team. One Scientist who became famous for is Yoga practise at NASA is Scott Lewiki who describes the impact Yoga had on him as an outlet for the demands of is daily work.

Technique 4:Space Sounds and Meditation

In 1989 NASA approached Dr Jeffrey Thompson with a rather unique project proposal. Dr Thompson is an expert in Acoustic pacing frequencies within Music as they relate to clinical interventions in a number of areas. When NASA approached Dr Thompson with a view to establishing the possible application of Space Sounds. They gave Dr Thompson complete access to the recordings archive of Voyager 1 and 2. What he came up with were a number of Guided Meditations which you still listen to as part of your own Mindfulness training. The end result was a series of recordings which is used in 20 minute daily Meditation Sessions. You can still use the complete Symphonies of the Planets for your own Meditation.

As I said at the start of this post the intention was not to provide any new idea, but to give you yourself as a reader some of your own while sign posting you to areas of ongoing research. For more information on techniques, references or any specific questions you can contact me via the site.

Food Combining:Fact, Fiction and Success Stories Part 1

In this Series of Articles I'm going to talk about a Nutritional Optimisation Strategy known as Food Combining. The basic idea of this method of optimising our eating is designed at reducing Toxins in the Body through the correct combinations of Food, and improving our digestion in line with evolutionary eating strategies. The Aim of Part 1 is to look briefly at the origins of this method.In Part 2 I will then go on to explain some of the Myths of the Diet as it necessary to clear up some of the negative Perceptions, and also Wrong Science. I will also expand on what this Method is and  how it can benefit you. In Part 3 I will explain how this method of eating relates to sport and other specific Conditions. Some have dismissed the Diet while others such as the Gracie Family have turned this Diet into a way of Life with The Gracie Diet and Product Range. Other Athletes such as Explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes have credited this way of eating with increased quality of Life and performance. Indeed the Gracie Website itself lists many success stories of its own. It's for this reason I'll be giving it further examination here.

Ayurvedic Diet:Early Food Combining

One Example of early Food Combining is the Ayurvedic Diet. This was invented thousands of Years ago in India. The Great Rishis or Seers of Life set out to organise the basics of Life,and to lay out the deepest truths of Human Physiology and Nutrition. These tests formed part of the larger Veda of Knowledge. This one of the oldest Bodies of Knowledge in existence and has been translated into Chinese which massively influenced Buddhist Philosophy. This also had a big Impact on Western Medicine.

This Diet involves eating specific Combinations and types of Food for your Personality type or Dosha. There are are three Personality types which make up this Diet:Vita,Pitta and Kapha. In order to find your Dosha you're required to take  a Dosha Test for your Personality Type. The one advantage here is this removes all of the trial and error which can come with trying one of the many thousands of Diets which exist today. The Aim here is to enable you to consume the specific Food Combinations that benefit you on a Holistic level Mentally, Physically and Spiritually.

Food Combining in the Ayurvedic Diet

In this approach the focus of Food Combining is Holistic in this the aim not only to aid Digestion of food, but also to support the correct function of all Physical,Mental and Spiritual components of the Personality type you fall into. Even with this idea in Indian Culture this is still considered to be  "Medicine". The Theory being that Foods when Combines produced a wider Chemical Effect than if they were Digested on their own. Poor Combinations of Food produce Toxins, and when eaten over time can lead to gradual creation of Conditions such as Diabetes and many more. Yet when eaten separately, and with the correct Combination of Foods Toxins are not produced, Digestion is improved and more Vitamins/Minerals can be absorbed. Their are even Food Combinations which can remove and/or decrease the effect of Toxins already present thus preventing our Body losing Nutrients.

One example of such proper Combining in this System is Milk with various Fruits. Milk is laxative and should not be Combined with Diuretics such as Water Melon. Milk it is argued should also not be Combined with Banana as this leads to Sinus, Mucus and Congestion like Symptoms This is why this Diet suggests any one new to Food Combining should detox by eating Fruit on it's own as most don't Combine well with other Foods. It's from these incorrect Combinations that"Cell Confusion" is created thus leading to Disease.

Another aspect of Food Combing is Neutralisation, for example Honey and Butter eaten in say a Dessert at a Ratio of 1:1 is seen as Toxic but is you double the amount of Butter this will Neutralise the Toxicity of the Combination. Spices and Herbs are also added a lot in this Diet to affect the behaviour of the Combination for example adding Black Pepper to increase absorption of Nutrients thus increasing the effectiveness of a given Food Combination. Some Food Combinations are seen as Antidotes to Bodily Toxins for example Cardamom to Coffee to regulate the negative Effects of having a high dose of Stimulant Caffeine. While adding Black Pepper and Butter to Potatoes can alleviate Gas and Bloating. Turmeric absorption can also be enhanced by adding Ginger, Black Pepper and other Spices thus increasing the effect of this already potent substance.

Other Food Combinations act as aids for increasing the potency of other Food Combinations. Ginger and Rock Salt combined and eaten before each Meal produce a positive effect on Digestion and Water retention for Hydration. Yogurt, Ginger and Cumin after each Meal with enhance Digestion.There is also the example of "Anxiety Tea" Green Tea, Sugar and Cardamom is an effective Neutraliser and remover of Symptoms of Anxiety or Panic Attacks.

As you can see from these examples Food Combining can be as complicated and in depth as you want to make it. As you can probably see when we talk on the level of Combining Spices and Herbs we are moving to the level of Food Chemistry, as that is what it is, because Foods are concentrations of Chemical Substances mixed together. As many Chef has said before "Cooking is Chemistry". Modern Science has supported the use of Certain Combinations of Spices and Herbs, and it therefor correct that we should not discount fully any possible positive effects of Food Combining. Instead we should examine this fully in order to draw the correct Conclusions. In the next parts of this Examination I will be talking more about where Science does support the use of Food Combining.

Dr William Hay(1866-1940):The Father of Modern Food Combining

Some variation of the Food Combining method had been in use since Ancient times as we have discussed above. These habits had probably arisen due to Cultural Traditions of the time, or Traditions particular to a Region.

 The most famous Example of Modern Food Combining is what has been termed "The Hay Diet". This Diet has lead to many others such as the "Beverly Hills Diet" and the "Kensington Diet", it was Dr Hay the is credited with the creation of Modern variations of the method. Food Combining as Dr Hay presented it was the first step to preventing Disease, but in many cases it was vital to curing it. Dr Hay decided to question the link between Food and our Mental health along with other prominent Medical minds in Europe at the time. For the first half of his practise Dr Hay was very much a traditionalist in his treatment until his own ill health forced him to conduct his own research. Dr Hay Concluded that  an increase in Protein and refined Carbohydrates was to blame for many of the Medical Conditions he observed. Dr Hay proposed that eating in line with our Ancestors was the correct way ahead. He set about testing his Theories by curing his own ill health, the change in Habit lead to a rapid recovery of many of his Obesity related Conditions. Dr Hay devised his Program of Food Combining and applied is to thousands of Cases many would state as Incurable.

Another notable believer in this method was Dr Robert McCarrison an Officer in British Army Medical Services. He observed eating habits of People inhabiting the Himalayas. The Native inhabitants lived on a diet of Nuts, Vegetables,Fruit, Whole Grain Bread and small amounts of Milk or Cheese. He Concluded the same as Dr Hay that this Diet was responsible for the absence of many Diseases suffered extensively by Europeans.

The Hay Chart 

Although Dr Hay presented many aspects of the Diet which we have now with Modern Science been discredited(as shall be discussed in the next parts of this Series) the "Hay Chart" is what we will focus on for further Examination as it is this aspect of the Diet which has lead to Success in some hard core Advocates and Athletes. With adjustments from Modern Nutritional Science we can now update approaches to Food Combining as suggested in this Chart.

For the purpose of his Dr Hay created a simple A,B and C chart which made it easy to to create the correct Food Combinations in Recipes. It is following this simple Chart, and following an effective Exercise Program that lead to the dramatic curing of Dr Hays Symptoms by removing Toxins along with Weight Loss which comes with any effective Diet. The Chart is set out below:

A Foods:
-All Fruits including Tomato but excluding Avocados,Banana,Dates, Figs, Raisins, Sultanas, Currants,Pears and Papaya.
-All Meats, Fish and Dairy.
-Legumes, Lentils and Butter Beans.
-Soya and Tofu.
-Salad Dressings and Mayonnaise.
-Wines and Cider.
-Diluted Fruit Juices

B Foods:
-All Vegetables except Potato
-Nuts and Seeds
-Butter, Margarine, Eggs and Cream
-Honey and Syrup
-Olive Oil and Vegetable Oil

C Foods:
-All Cereal, Bread, Flour,Oat-Meal, Rice, Pasta
-Banana, Dates, Grapes, Figs,Raisins, Currents,Sultanas, Pears,Papaya
-Potato and Sweet Potato
-Beers and Lager

The concepts of the Food Combining Chart is simple along with some simple Rules you will eat the following way:
-You should Combine A + B Foods, B + C Foods, but never Combine A + C Foods(A quick look at some of the most harmful Foods available and you'll see they are combinations of large amounts of Carbohydrates,Sugars and Fats sadly for all of us this rules out Cheese Cheese Cake as an effective health Food).
-You should have Single Course Meals only.
-Leave Four Hours between each Meal.
-Eat one Meal Per Day of Foods from the B Group this will be a fully Vegetable Meal even though other meals will likely contain Vegetables.
-Eliminate Caffeine in take of reduce if not possible.
-Drink plenty of Water.
-Eliminate or reduce Alcohol.
-Eliminate Smoking.

In the follow up parts to this Article I will outline to you the Myths, and Facts surrounding Food Combining. I will also go into more Detail about the methods of Food Combining. In Part 3 I will Discuss Success Stories, and Talk more about why this Diet can be effective. I will also Outline what can be learned from this Diet in relation to specific activities and Conditions such as Sports, Diabetes and Hormonal Health.

All Image Credits to US MEDIA HOUSE

Royal Marine Commando Circuit Training: The Dirty Dozen

I'm going to dedicate this Article to one of my favourite Military Circuit Training Workouts. This time we talk about The Dirty Dozen Circuit. On a basic level this is a full Body Circuit with a lot of flexibility, and that's been used time and again with fantastic results. All manner of Individuals from those just looking to lose Fat or improve Conditioning to Athletes and Operators working in the top 2% of Performance. I'm going to give you the basic Format to start your own Dirty Dozen Workouts, and I'll also some more Advanced Military Circuit Training Workouts for those who want a real Challenge.

Royal Marine Commando Circuit Training:The Basic Dozen

 The entire Objective behind this Circuit Training Workout is to have a format which be used with no Equipment,in any Location, and with minimal Space. All you really need is a Stopwatch and Training Cloths to be good to go. This can be used for Individual Circuit Workouts, Paired Competitive Circuit Training and full "Group Phys" Boot camp Sessions. The whole point is you can switch this up anyway you want as along as you stay to the Basic Template. Use any Body Weight Exercise you want.

The Basic Dozen goes like this:

>Use an "Arms, Trunk,Legs" exercise order chose  12 different variations.
>Each Exercise will be done for 12 Repetitions.
> Each group of 3 in "Arms, Trunk,Legs" Selection will make a mini Circuit you should have 4 mini Circuits in all.
>You'll perform 3 Rounds each "Arms, Trunk,Legs" mini Circuits meaning you'll be doing 12 Rounds of 12 Repetitions of 12 different exercises.
>In between each set you'll perform 30 seconds shuttles, laps of the gym or 30 Seconds of Step Ups(the favourite variation) on an Aerobic Step).
>Work right through each Circuit with no rest.

The Basic Dirty Dozen Circuit Training Workout would look like this:

Circuit 1
Standard Push Up 12
Sit Up 12
Squat 12
30 Seconds Step Ups Between Each
Repeat 2 more times

Circuit 2
Incline Push Up 12
Twisting Sit Up 12 (Each Side)
Lunges 12(each side)
30 Seconds Step Ups Between Each
Repeat 2 more times

Circuit 3
Pull Ups 12
V Sit 12
Reverse Lunge 12
30 Seconds Step Ups Between Each
Repeat 2 more times

 Circuit 4
Chins 12
Bicycle Sit Up 12(each side)
Split Lunge 12 (each side)
30 Seconds Step Ups Between Each
Repeat 2 more times

Royal Marine Commando Circuit Training: PRMC(Commando Dozen)

This variation has been used extensively in by Potential Recruits to train for PMRC and also by those who already Serve within the Royal Marine Commandos for Conditioning. When applying it this way there are some added principles:

>The same Circuit will not be repeated two days in a row.
>Every round will end with a Burpee Variation
>Each full Circuit Workout will end with a "Best Effort" 1 Km Run
>Do at least 3 Circuits and 3 Runs Week. A Recruit will do 5/5 and at least 1 Swimming Session each Week. This will include 2 full days of rest.
>Split your Sessions between Circuit in the AM and Run in the PM.
>Runs will be between 3 miles to 8 Miles with one run over 10 miles every 2 weeks, and should include at least one Interval Run. If training for PRMC include as many timed 3 Mile Runs as you can,and  use Split 2.4km Test Runs to measure your Progress. You can also down load Bleep Test Apps.

What this can look like:

Circuit 1
Standard Push Up 12
Sit Up 12
Squat 12
Standard Burpee 12
30 Seconds Step Ups Between Each
Repeat 2 more times

Circuit 2
Pull Up 12
Bicycle Sit Up 12(each side)
Lunges 12(each side)
Double Burpee 12 (2 Squats, 2 Press Ups, 2Squat Thrusts, 2 Squat jumps is one rep)
30 Seconds Step Ups Between Each
Repeat 2 more times

Circuit 3
Chin 12
Twist Sit up Sit up 12(each side)
Reverse Lunge 12(each side)
Lunge Jump Burpee 12 (Standard Burpee with a Lunge jump each leg at the end is one rep)
30 Seconds Step Ups Between Each
Repeat 2 more times

End this with a 1km "Best Effort Run" or a longer distance steady paced Run of 3 Miles to 10 Miles. Alternatively as stated use this in Split Sessions training Double or Triple Sessions in a day. In the past I have done this with people using 2 timed laps of a Football Pitch or Running Track. As with the previous example this is just an example but is still follows the format 12 Repetitions, 12 Exercises for 12 Rounds.

Dirty Dozen Circuit:The Sir Ranulph Fiennes Elite Athlete Variation

These variations are based on the templates used by Explorers Sir Ranulph Fiennes in his Elite Athletes Program. They are Circuit Training Programs which are used for those at the 2% level of their Sports. They Make up the Plyometric Elements of a wider training Program. Additional Principles are followed below:

>Use as part of a "Split" Session as the middle of two Cardio Workouts. The Program outlined 30 Minutes of Steady Running,40 Minutes on  Cross Trainer and followed by 30 Minutes on a Rower. You can Split differently, but the aim is the same.
>Use Plyo versions of Exercises where possible.
>This does not follow Arms, Trunk and Legs Template.The general Template is the same 12 different Exercises, 12 Rounds and for 12 Reps.
>Use a Burpee Variation in each Round.
>Try to use as many different Advanced variations of each Exercise as you can include.

An example is as below:

Circuit 1
Feet Elevated  Push Up 12
Mountain Climbers 12(Each Side)
Burpees 12
30 Seconds Step Ups Between Each
Repeat 2 more times

Circuit 2
Dips 12
Squat Thrusts 12
Double Burpees 12
30 Seconds Step Ups Between Each
Repeat 2 more times

Circuit 3
Spider Man Push Up 12(Each Side)
Plyo Jump Jacks 12
Med Ball Slam Burpees 12
30 Seconds Step Ups Between Each
Repeat 2 more times

Circuit 4
Squat Thrust  Push Up 12
Plyo Jump Jack 12
Burpee Pull Ups 12
30 Seconds Step Ups Between Each
Repeat 2 more times

The Beauty of the Dirty Dozen Circuit is that you can do as many different Workouts as you want. You're limited only by your Imagination when you create these for yourself.For more Information you can Contact me via this site or Facebook directly.

Image result for hiit

 In this post I wont be giving you too much Science, but instead I'll give you some quick Tabata/HIIT workouts you can use right away.

What is Tabata?

Tabata is named after Japanese researcher Izumi Tabata who wanted to show the effectiveness. He had athletes use a protocol based on 12 minutes warming up followed 20 seconds sprint full effort which was followed by 10 seconds rest. This was done for 8 rounds lasting 4 minutes in total. It was then followed another 12 minutes cool down period. The protocol was performed on an exercise bike. His results?....Athletes using his protocol obtained gains similar to those who used steady state 5 times per week at 50%-70%. They also experienced significant fat loss due to the build up of lactic acid which triggers the release of significant levels of both HGH and Testosterone. Making Tabata the perfect addition to your weight training.

You can use the original protocol and get good results, But I am going to give you some of the best Tabata variations I have used most effectively on my clients. Remember ALWAYS warm up completely before any work out with 12 minutes of steady state cardio.

1.Tabata Front Squats

Take a 65-95 pound barbell. Move into a front squat position, keep strict form at all times. These are good because you can just back into it right away after 10 second rest.

2.Tabata Dumb Bell Thrusters

One of the most effective full body Tabata moves. Using a Dumb Bell of around 35 pound. Move into a squat position with Dumb Bells at shoulder height. As you rise thrust the Dumb Bells up explosively. This is challenge for any one who considers themselves to be fit.

3.Tabata Bar Bell Push Press

Push press is an explosive move that allows to handle a little more weight. Using a 65-95 pound weight move into position similar to a standing shoulder or military press. To perform a push press go no lower than a half squat and explosively press the barbel over head.

4 Tabata Heavy Bag "Blitz"

wearing a pair of boxing gloves have your partner hold the bag. Hit the bag hard you can and as fast you can. Then repeat for 8 blocks. This one is a great way to take out any anger you might have after a bad day at work.

5.Kettlebell Swing

This one I give more for female clients who ask to add this method to training as a means of shaping key areas. Using this targets the hips, glutes and quads which is always a topic for female clients "what can I do to shape legs and ass?". This Tabata is the one. If your upper body strength is not high enough to use both arms then simply perform each 20 burst by alternating arms by doing single arm kettle bell swings. Allowing the upper body to rest while keeping the focus on the lower body.

You can perform this 4 times a week to really push your gains or as little as twice per month. Some athletes I have coached use this on weekly "cheat days". Done properly this will be one of the most painful but rewarding 4 minutes of your fitness training.As always remember to warm up 12 minutes before on steady state and cool down 12 minutes after.


6.The 1000 Calorie Killer

I always say you can all rest when get home from the gym. This is 60 minutes of pure hard work with no rests. In these plans I don’t call them rests I call them “reward breaks” because if you really are doing this right the reward breaks will be the most the most welcome thing to you and I suggest you use them to take on as much oxygen as possible. Use them also to rehydrate. These sessions mix supersets, tri sets, giant sets of plyometric, compound, bodyweight and metabolic weight circuits as you have seen in my other work outs. Each “station” will in this case be a separate mini circuit.

Tri-set station 1
Swiss Ball Jack Knife to failure
Body weight squat to failure
Kettlebell clean and press to failure

Super set station 2
Dumbbell thrusters to failure
Kettlebell swing and step to failure. (for this move you will place one foot on a low step up bench around 12 inches high no more and let the kettle bell hang between the legs. Swing the bell up and bend the legs to produce an exaggerated step sideways to alternate to the foot on the bench then lower the weight and repeat)

Giant set station 3
Bench press 20 Reps
Deadlift 20 reps
Front Squat 20 reps
Squat 20 reps
Clean and Press 20 reps

Superset station 4
Kettlebell side to sides until failure (similar to the swing and step but alternating the hand on a kettlebell as you perform side to side press ups. One hand begins on a kettlebell you go down push forcefully up bring the other hand onto the kettle bell then move in the opposite press up position and repeat alternating side to side)
Plyo Press up to failure

Superset Station 5
Close grip press up to jump to pull up perform this to failure
Squat jump

Perform every set on every station. A set means one exercise one after the other just like a normal circuit. Perform 3 sets of every station before moving onto the next station. For station 1, 3 and 5 take a maximum of 1 min rest between sets. At stations 2 and 4 take a max of 2 minutes rest between sets. More advanced trainers can take as low as 30 seconds for 1, 3 and 5 or 15 seconds if your fitness is right in the high levels. For 2 and 4 more advanced trainers can go as low as 30 seconds.

7.Advanced Tabata

Now we will introduce supersets and remove rest. You will work 2 different exercises on a 2-1 ratio so exercise 1 is 20 seconds work and exercise 2 is 10 seconds work. You can adapt any of the previous Tabata workouts but here are I think work very well.

Example 1
Super set 1 kettlebell swing 20 seconds + Kettlebell clean and press 10 seconds
Super set 2 jump squat 20 seconds +plyo press up 10 seconds
Super set 3 kettlebell swing 20 seconds + Kettlebell clean and press 10 seconds
Super set 4 jump squat to pull up 20 seconds Kettlebell goblet squat 10 seconds

Once you reach set 4 you then perform then count down for sets 5 to 8. Set 4 becomes set 5; set 3 becomes set 6 and so on. For a beginner trainer you would do 4 sets then rest 1 minute and repeat. You the can the cut the rest to 30 seconds. But for an advanced trainer or a trainer who wants to really challenge themselves after testing the other work outs you do all 8 supersets right through all out.

8.Off and Running


This is a very basic but very effective adaptation I do to an outside tabata sprint circuit or one done in the sports hall if I want more equipment.

Sprint 20 seconds Plyo press to failure
Sprint 20 seconds jump squat to failure
Sprint 20 seconds sit ups to failure
Sprint 20 seconds pull ups to failure
Sprint 20 seconds dips to failure
Sprint 20 seconds dumbbell thrusters to failure
Sprint 20 seconds overhead squat to failure
Sprint 20 seconds jump to pull up to failure

The principle is simple after each exercise which has replaced the “10 seconds rest” you get “off and running2 and you run hard. This is aimed more at advanced trainers. If inside you can grab a kettlebell and swing all out for 20 seconds to replace the sprint.

9.Crazy Steps

Now this is another advanced tabata work that will really test what you think is hard work.
Now you choose 8 exercises or alternate those which are most effective and build from 20 seconds to 40 seconds and see how far you get.

Dumbbell thrusters 20 seconds work 10 seconds rest
Kettlebell swings 20 seconds work 10 seconds rest
Kettlebell clean and press 20 seconds work 10 seconds rest
Squat jump to pull up 20 seconds work 10 seconds rest
Plyo press up 20 seconds work 10 seconds rest
Dumbbell thrusters 20 seconds work 10 seconds rest
Kettlebell swings 20 seconds work 10 seconds rest
Kettlebell clean and press 20 seconds work 10 seconds rest

Perform round 1 and rest for a maximum of 2 minutes. For round 2 increase work period to 30 seconds and for round 3 increase to 40 seconds.

As always remember please to warm up before any of these work outs. Don’t forget to rehydrate properly and remember to keep a clean diet with maximum rest for best results.

Any questions please always feel free to ask.

 A Different Perspective

If you're a Regular Reader of my Blog you'll know I like to make you all Question, and look into whatever went before to Challenge to see Information in new ways. While the concept I'm going to talk about is not new, but I will to make you think about how you apply to your own needs. As always this about High Performance, and you will Burn Fat while Building Strong Functionally Strong Body. 

I'm sure you've  all heard about the Afterburn Effect? Or to be correct its right Scientific Name Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption, Right? To put this in a very simple way this is when your Body continues to Burn Calories at a Higher Rate than normal following Intense Exercise through an Increase in Oxygen use after Exercise. However to make full effect of this we need to Consider the Body accross all levels not just manipulating Cardio to produce EPOC which is easy to do, and it does not fully Condition the Body.

What I'm going to show you are "Three Keys" on how to Use the most Effective Ways to Produce the Highest Afterburn while remaining Functional, Injury Free and able to Perform. During this Article you're going to use one of go to Methods on this Site Military Circuit Training to Maximize Intensity and Functionality for Performance.

The 3 Keys

 If you want to Maximise Afterburn while still being Functional, and Avoiding Injury you need to the following each Session:

1:Reach Maximum Heart Rate during you Session. You can have Periods of Rest but you must have Periods at Maximum Heart Rate.
2: Use as much Muscle as Possible through Different Movements.
3:Work your Core Every Session.

It is manipulating these 3 Key areas that will give you a Strong, Funcational and Robust Body.

 The Tools for Maximum Afterburn

The Methods I'm about to show you are the Three most Effective for Increasing AfterBurn Effect. On their own they will not be new to you unless you're a Beginner with no knowledge at all. However I will make a Brief outline of the Tools before I go into more Details. I'll then provide One Example of these, and move on to the Circuits I want you to use for Maximum Afterburn Effect.

1)Interval Training:This is Simply Alternating Periods of Work and Rest to affect the Intensity of Training over a Period of the Workout. These can used to develop almost ANY aspect of Conditioning.

2)Super Sets:There are lots of different Types of Super Set, but for Simplicity the basic Definition is using One Set of Two Exercises without Rest before resting for the next Super Set. For Example Barbell Back Squat, and Set of Press Ups immediately following. You would then Rest, and Repeat the designated number of Sets.

3)Split Sessions:  These are Workouts where you would Split the Cardio, and add another Element in the middle. A basic Example would be as below:

Part 1- 15 Minutes Cardio Best Effort
Part 2-Weights/Circuit/Body Weight/Abs/Etc
Part 3- 15 Minutes Cardio Best Effort

I'm going to Provide One Example of these for all of these that are my Favorites, and the I'll expand on that:

1)Interval Training:The 400m Killer
 This is called the "Killer" for Very Good reasons, and if you're doing it right you'll find out why too.
-Mark out a 400m Course/Shuttles
-Run your first Best Effort 400m Run
-Walk Rest for 200m if a Beginner,30-60 Seconds Intermediate  or Using HR Monitor if you're more Advanced
-Repeat this until you've Completed 5 Runs.
-Each Run after the first Best Effort Run should aim to be as close to that Best Time as Possible
That's all you need, and  if you've Run it Hard Enough you'll feel it.

2)Super Set:Barbell/Body Weight or Full Body/Body Weight
The Philosophy with Why I select these is simple-use as much Muscle as you can is the Shortest Space of Time to create the Biggest Impact:

Barbell + Body Weight
-Squat+Pull Up/Chins/Dips
-Deadlift+Press Ups of any Type
-Bench Press+Squats/Lunges of any Type
 You can see the Pattern is to avoid working Super Setting Upper and Lower Body if you can. Of course Abs can also be mixed into this.

Full Body + Body Weight
Burpee + Any Body Weight
Kettlebell Swing + Any Body Weight
Clean and Press+Press Up/Chins/Pull Ups/Dips
Thrusters +Pull Up/Chins/Dips/Press Ups

Doing any one of these Combinations will increase your Heart Rate, Impact the most Muscle, and increase the Afterburn Effect.

3)Split Sessions

This very Simple you do the following for Example:

Part 1:15 Minutes Run Best Effort
Part 2:Squat 15 Reps + Press Up 15 Reps
Repeat x 3 with 1-2 Minutes Rest Depending on Fitness Level
Part 3:15 Minutes Run Best Effort

The 45 Minute Workout:Putting the Tools Together

In order to make the most of these Tools you will put these together in a Short Session lasting no longer than 45 Minutes. Each of these Sessions will contain the 3 Keys as Outlined above, and give you the Ability to Maximise Afterburn Effect to Burn Fat, Build Muscle, and be Functionally Strong. Your Session would look like the Following:

Part 1-10 Minutes Cardio Best Effort Maintain One Pace
Part 2-Superset of Choice as above repeated 3 Times
Part 3- Abs Circuit:choose 3 Abs Exercises of Choice Perform 20 Reps of each followed by 2 minutes of Step Ups. Repeat this 3 times.
Part 4-10 Cardio Interval with Sprints  Finisher

This is one Example of What that would look like:

Part 1-10 Run Best Effort
Part 2-Superset of Barbell Squat 15+Press Up 15
Repeat 3 times with 1-2 Minutes Rest
Part 3- Abs Circuit:
20 Crunches
20 Reverse Crunches
20 Bicycle Crunches
2 Minutes Step Ups
Perform x 3
Part 4-10 Minutes  Cardio with 30 Second Sprint Every 3 Minutes as a Finisher

So now I've given you the Template, now how many Ideas can you come up with? Play with the Exercises, Reps, Variables that's the Beauty of the Template.  You will know you've done this right because you'll be feeling Sick at the End of each Session..

For more Information or for a Personal Program Contact Me Via the Site.

Thank You For Reading.


Kipchoge:The Marathon Man

On the 6th May 2017 at the Nike Breaking2 Race in Monza Italy, Eluid Kipchoge set the record for the Worlds Fastest Marathon. Kipchoge ran the Marathon in a Record 2 hours 25 Seconds. He like many Others is the result of years of Application of Kenyan Running Training Principles  initiated by experts such as the Great Renato Canova, Patrick Sang and Others. A typical day for Kipchoge begins with Warm Up Run around a 400m Track at never more than 8 Minutes Per Mile Pace. He and Other Athletes will then perform general Running related Stretches followed by Specific Stretching Movements prescribed by the Coach. They will then move on to specific Run related Stride work. The Running Group will then break into a Session such as the 2k-1k Drill. The Athletes will Run a "Repeat" of a 2K Run followed by 100m Walking Rest followed by another "Repeat" of 1k Run and another 100m Rest. This is repeated for 5 "Sets". Every Athlete will be given a Target Pace which they are expected to hit. Most of the Athletes can Run faster, but these Athletes don't break Records by wasting Energy when they don't have too. Once the Athletes finish the Run there is a Cool Down Mile at 10 Minute Mile Pace.

The Average Weekly Program of a Kenyan Runner

Depending on where you are in the Training Cycle, and the Athletes Needs, then a typical week of Kenyan Running Training would follow a pattern of:

Monday-Total Rest/Regeneration Run
Tuesday-Track Session
Wednesday-Regeneration Run, 
Thursday-Tempo Run, Long or Semi Long Run
 Saturday-Fartlek Training
Sunday-Total Rest

Sometimes in the Morning depending on the Athlete they will do Double Sessions one 06:30 followed by Rest, and the next Session at 10:00. This can come in the form of a Regeneration Run before the Fartlek Session. A key Principle of Kenyan Running Training is keeping a Journal of Runs. Each Athlete has detailed Journals of every Run/Session they have ever done. 

The aim of this Post is to look into exactly what we learn from Kenyan Running Training for our own Running. Want to reach new Standards in your own Records? Read on to find out just what Kenyan Running Training can do for you. I will not be going too deep into the Science or Points such as Genetics. The aim is to present Tips, Techniques and Performance Methods you can use right now in Training for better Results. So take your Running Journal, and get ready for Notes.

1.Running Journal

Every aspect of a Kenyan Runner Program is based of his or her Specific Race Pace Goals, Energy Thresholds and Previous Performances among other factors.This is why a Journal Personal to you is Essential,and if you're not keeping one you should be. Kenyan Running Training does not Involve Heart Rate Monitors, GPS or Technology to aid their Runs. One of the benefits of Journals is the development of "Body Feel". For Kenyan Runners the aim to feel a consistent Energy level through out the Race by being able to listen to their Body, and understanding their Energy Fluctuations. For your own Performance you should be recording aspects like:When you feel most fresh in Run? When do you feel Energy Levels start to drop? Can your Legs handle Higher Pace, and over what distance can you maintain it, What is my Anaerobic Threshold? You should then know for your own Race preparation. Once you become proficient in this it will be your Watch that will be your main Weapon. You will use this to Regulate your Kilometers, and plan your Pacing. Your aim here should be to know how you need to Pace yourself, Load your Training, know the effect of Training Progressions etc. Other Conditions can also be Noted such as your Mental State, Weather, Time of Day etc. Record all of the Effects these have on you. You Should also Record all of your Preparation for a Race or Session, Rest, Number of Hours Sleeping. The more Information you can gather the better.

2.Hill Running

In order to Condition Leg Strength and Anaerobic Energy Systems Kenyan Running Training Schedules will always include one Session of Hill Running Per Week. Each Hill Sprint Session is of a One Hour duration, and they will be made of a varying distances depending on the stage of the Loading Cycle. Sessions Would starts by Building Up to 400m Sprints from 100m Sprints with "Reps" from 10-20. You want to do your Running in Blocks of 100m, 200m and 400m.

3.Regeneration Runs

Blood Lactate Levels remain Elevated up to 3 Days following a Competitive Run. This is where "Regeneration Runs" or "Flushing Runs" are applied. Before you can do this you need to know your Anaerobic Threshold(AnT) or Running Speed at Lactate Threshold. The Simple way to do this is to perform a simple test you can use on a Treadmill or Track. Perform this Test on a Day where you are Fresh as you will be doing a "Best Effort Run". Perform a warm up, and if using a Treadmill set the Incline to 1%. During your Warm Up you will gradually raise the Pace of the Run to one which you can keep up for around 30 Minutes. Once you hit that Pace you will maintain it for the full 30 Minutes. To obtain your RSLT you divide the Distance you covered in m by the Duration of the Run. So if you covered 8000m this would be 8000m/1,800Secs=4.5m Per Second. Then divide this by 400 meters which is 400/4.5=89 Secs to Cover 400m. Divide the number of m in Mile which is  1,609.34/400=4 now time this by the 400m Time  equaling 4x1m 29 Secs =5  Minute 16 Second Mile Time. So your AnT is 5:16/mi.For your Regeneration Runs you would be working at -60%-70% of this figure, Calculated the Canova way this would be just over 6 Minutes 42 seconds at 6:42/mi. In keeping with the above Example this would mean instead of taking 30 minutes to cover 4.9mi to you would take 32 Minutes to Cover this Distance. You should also be stretching the distance at the slower pace up to 3 days after your Fast Run use a Long Slow Distance flushing which you can do at 60% this would work out at a Slower 7:13/mi. Although there these Times should be Calculated from your Specific Percentage there are many Elite Kenyan Runners who swear by the Rule of not breaking 8:00/Mi Pace on Regeneration Runs. Some 10:00/mi Pace Runs are not Uncommon. You don't have to use the Distance Covered that's an Example, but this should be Race Specific for you.

4.Long Running

One of the favored Methods used by Kenyan Runners is Long Run based entirely on target RP. This is normally at a Pace close to but not at RP.There are Two Types of Run which are used these are Long and Semi-Long Runs.Long Runs are Performed once every Two weeks at a Distance of 35km-45km, while the Semi-Long Runs are Performed in between 25km-30km.Now using the Information above lets say our Runner wants to run a RP of Sub-2 Hours. This means the Runner would have to hit 4:34/mile. On a Long Distance Day they would have to do a 40km Distance at a Pace of 4 Minutes 41 Seconds Per Mile. In Canova Method a Marathon Runner would do a 40K at 4:41/mile. You want to be including Runs at a Challenging Pace over Distance. This has been against some advise presented by other Sources, when it comes to Kenyan Running Training these are Essential.

5.Lapping or Kenyan Intervals

Although not true Intervals they are really "Repeats" theses are probably the most famous of the known methods, and have become known as Kenyan Intervals. They are known among the Kenyan Runners as "Lapping" Runs because they all take place on 400m Run Track. The are Shorter than Race  Distance Runs designed to improve your Speed Endurance i.e How fast can you Run and how long for? As a result these Repeats tend to be Longer than normal Sprint Distances with Short Rest Periods  One of the most consistently high Performing Runners of all time Catherine Ndereba or "Catherine the Great" is known for her use of  what Kenyan Runners call "400s". She will perform a Session of 20-30 "Repeats" of 400s at a Pace of 71-72 Seconds per Run. Her Rest will be as little as 30 Seconds, and the simple Philosophy behind this is that there no Rest Periods in a Distance Run. These methods were the Core of her Training for the Bronze Medal she won in 2000 Olympic Games. These Sessions are simple, and can be done anywhere almost anytime of Year. Another staple Repeat Session used in Kenyan Running Training by some of the Fastest Runners is "1 to 1's" this is A session of 25 Repeats of 1 Minute Hard Running followed by 1 Minute Walking Rest. This a hard Session, but if you add this type of Training the Results are Guaranteed. Over longer Distances these Repeats take place over 1600m, 2000m and 3000m between 12km-20km Long.

6.Fartlek Training 

Another Core Method of Kenyan Running Training are Weekly Fartlek Sessions. These are normally no more than 50 Minutes at most. Fartlek means "Speed Play", and as the name suggests you will be manipulating your Speed. The Slow Run Periods are not strict Walking Rest Periods as in the Repeat Training Desribed above they are Slow Run Periods which a Slower Pace Per Mile is Maintained. The most Common one of these workouts being  Similar to the above this Session uses the  "1 to 1's" Ratio of Timing. You will Perform 10 Minutes of a Warm Up Run and go into 30 Continuous Minutes of 1 Minute Slow Runs with 1 Minute Fast Runs. If you don't see your last Meal again at least once while using this Workout you're not going at the right Intensity during your Hard Runs. Once you become more Experienced at this, and your Body is Conditioned for it then you can Progress the Slow/Fast Ratio. Start to Increase the work Load 1:2, 1:3,2:4 and so on all for the same 30 Minute Period of your Session.

7.Tempo Runs 

Theses Runs like Long Runs are based Primarily on Goal RP or Previous RP.Once per week as a key part of Kenyan Running Training you will perform a Tempo Run at Race Pace. These are all about extending your Capability at Race Pace as Opposed to the Long Runs described above. This will take the form of Distance Session performed at RP over a Standard Track where you can Time your Run. Most Tracks in Kenya are 16km-18km long for this Purpose. 

If you want to Block off your Time a Popular way to do it in Kenya is to use a Warm Up Run of 20 Minutes followed by a Hard 40 Minute Run. Again this will challenge your ability to keep a Meal Down if you're hitting your Pace. A lot of the Elite Runners will Run Tempo Runs from 45-75 Minutes. When building the Run times for Tempo Runs Less Well Conditioned or Novice athletes begin with 20 minutes at RP then move from there. In Kenya it is a Core Philosophy of Kenyan Running Training that these Sessions are Group Based and Runners will drop off at their Assigned Times which leaves the Elite Runners at the Head of the Pack to Run the Remaining Session. Running Coach Canova Credits these Runs as being the key to Kenyan Success. Advising that Race Type Specific Time Per Mile Training at RP should be a Core Method. Many Kenyan Coaches believe these Runs are the Single most Important Runs of your Program. 

Another way to perform  these Runs which Kenyans use is to Run a Pace Faster than your RP for a Specific Number of km. This would be at a Pace 30-40 Seconds Faster than Race Pace. This would Gradually Increase from 2000m at the Faster Pace to 10.000m at the Faster Pace. It is quite likely that there have been times faster then Kipchoge's Marathon time Recorded by non-athletes in Kenya or Other African Nations. Once you've completed this Run it should Feel like you've just Run a Race.

8.Diet and Rest 

No Training Program would be complete without Diet and Rest. As with every other Training Program these are essential for Kenyan Running Training. The First Component Kenyan Runner will most closely Manage are the Sleep Patterns. Many are in bed by 21:00 and get 10 Hours Sleep. They will then Include Naps of a Minimum of Two Hours. The aim being to Build up hours of non-active and active rest. They may walk around camp or take Slow Walk. The Rule is at least one Day of Total Rest Per Week where there is as little Loading as Possible. This Same Philosophy on the Seriousness also applies to the mind. During these Rest Days of doing no activity Kenyan Runners will spend Time as  Rule ensuring the Brain has Periods where it does not think about Running. This is Key for Full Regeneration along with the Combined Regeneration Runs. When it comes to Kenyan Running Training Rest really does mean "Total Rest".

Diet has been featured as a Uniured que Factor of Kenyan Running Training being based on the Consumption of the Starchy Carbohydrates for example Ugali as the Core Energy Source. It has been put forward by some Sports Specialists that the World Running Community lags behind Kenya in fueling its Athletes. Most Elite Athletes will fall into the 5 Meal Per Day Pattern which is seen often with an Athletes Diet.However when on Camp there will be Food available at any time the Runners feel Hungry.Runners would always eat within 1 Hour of Training.

 As General Rule Nutrient intake Per Kilogram of Body Weight would be measured at 10.4g Carbohydrates,1.3g of Protein. Carbohydrates would be 75% of the Diet, Protein would be 12% of the Diet while Fat would be 13%. This is obviously well into the extreme for Normal Individuals, but due to levels of Training Kenyan Runners are able to process High Loads of Carbohydrates effectively. 

The Core Foods of the Kenyan Diet were Four Main Sources Ugali, White Sugar, Rice and Milk. These were supplemented with Bread, Potatoes,Beans, Cabbage,Eggs and a little Meat. The Majority of  Fat and Protein in the Diet comes from Full Fat Milk. Athletes would add very small amounts of Beef. Just like the Majority of successful Nutritional Plans this one is based around a few repeated Staples and Dishes. Breakfast would be Tea, Full Fat Milk, White Sugar and Bread. Lunch would Ugali with Eggs or the One Portion of Beef. The Evening Meal would be another Helping of Ugali with one of the Other Foods Supplemented such as Beans. Where their Diet is different is the Large Consumption of Tea taken as above. The Kenyans would drink more of this than Water.Snacks would also be taken between meals maybe of Fruit or a Portion of Vegetables.

So what  does this mean for your Diet? Depending on your activity level there is no reason why you can't do similar. Ugali is not readily available in a many places, but for those than can get it they should use it. If not you can follow similar Guidelines. Workout your your Macro Nutrient demand from the above. Then follow your own daily amounts. However if you're not as active but still Running then you can follow Elements of the diet. Try Eating less Meat and taking Protein from Milk, Beans and Eggs. Add Tea with its Antioxidants to your diet, and you can even Enjoy it the Kenyan Way Post Race.

For more information on Kenyan Running Training or have a Specific Distance Running Plan Designed for you then you can Contact Me Via this Site.
During this post I will be outlining Tips for Instructing or Conditioning Combatives. I have used these with any fighter involved with Reality Based Combat. I have also adapted them to MMA needs where they are applicable. They are outlined here in no particular order however they are some of the most useful tools I have applied for instilling the Techniques, Skills and Attitudes for Combat Effectiveness. These are by no means all the methods I use,and some may seem obvious like suggesting Impact Training, but there are still many who don't use even these methods to their fullest potential. These are just simple areas of Focus you can employ to begin improving your Combative Application.

1.Room of Pain

 Also known as the "Leadership Room" or "The House of Pain" this is a concept I adapted from the US Marines. For this i do exactly as they do, no need to change a formula that works right? This is perfect for your Combatives Training and Conditioning. Full Contact Techniques and grappling movements are used during these training sessions and each session will also contain "Conditioning Stations". This video illustrates the concept perfectly Leadership Room.

2.The Shark Tank

This is a drill for Conditioning and Technique. The aim is to train for a Duration longer than any real fight may last in order to Condition Mentality for keeping the fight going. This has also been called the "Gauntlet" by some instructors. This involves multiple stations set up in a Circuit fashion with a different item of equipment on each station. There are many ways you can run this drill for example having a set time at each station or by having a set number of repetitions of each Technique/Combination for each Combatant you have participating. This adds an interesting twist as the Combat situations within each can become Competitive. It also adds to Conditioning challenge to switch between Upper and Lower Body Techniques.An example of this Combatives Drill is outlined below is set up below:

Station 1: Strait Palm
Station 2:Knee Strikes
Station 3:Hooks
Station 4:Roundhouse Kicks
Station 5:Escaping the Clinch 

3.Shuttle Drills For Range Transition

If you want to dominate a Combative situation you need to effectively transfer between Ranges in order to close an Opponent. The aim of employing these types of Drills is for each Combatant to run the Shuttle and launch a Combination to close down the Range. One of the best principles you can employ in any fight is to close the distance to most effective and lethal weapons quickly with maximum aggression. Range Transition Drills aim to teach this concept until it becomes a a mentality. One of the favorite principles I apply is to close the distance and employ Knees, Elbows and Head as quickly as possible. This is done for the Psychological impact as up close aggression has its own impact on the Defender and for Maximum Damage. 

4. FMA Flow Drills

I employ these for simple repetition of Technical Movements. Repetition is needed because there needs to be ingrained sets of Movements and Techniques that transition over to Combat situations without thought of the user. They also need to be adaptable to most Common fight situations.I have found Entry Drills such as this one to be very useful as many fighters across many disciplines cross train in Boxing.  These Drills are also used for Practicing Knife Techniques. Combatives Skill needs repetition just as much as any other one, don't neglect repetition of the Basic Movements. As a fan of FMA I would encourage you to find ways to adapt these for your own needs as they can also be trained Solo to maintain some form Technical Skill before Transitioning back to Partner Training.

5.Impact Training

An old instructor of mine used to say in order to hit right you have to hit something because if you don't train by hitting something you wont follow through the Technique. Impact is what he believed was one of the cores of Realistic Training and I always give my Students as much training as possible where they can see as much as possible the real effectiveness of the Techniques they've been learning. One of the Greatest trainers of all time Cus D'amato would have his fighters train on progressively heavier bags to increase Punching Power. This is the case with any form of Combatives Training. Try to use as many different tools for improving your impact Speed and Power as you can. Some bags for example are filled with wool and are particularly Energy sapping to hit. Others like Water bags can also have the same effect. This may be an obvious method of training to talk about, but there are many "masters" who could do with a lot more of this in their programs.

6.Clinch Training

Any person familiar with the Basic components of Combative Principles will be familiar with those of Fighting Distance. We discussed training for closing Ranges in an earlier point, but this time I want to touch on the Specifics of Clinching and what that can do for you. The first reason is Control and Comfort. Intense and Repeated training at this Range of fighting requires several key components to be performed under pressure in order to be successful. Arm Control, Balance, and Body Positioning are all major components that Clinch Training will force you to master.One way I have clients train this when fatigued becuase quite simply your fight may come when you're exhausted Physically. The only way to prepare to Fight when in this state is to Fight with Fatigue to force yourself to have the ability, and experience to be able to Survive at Close Quarters. Another Major element is control of the Fight to prevent or control its decent to Ground level. We should all by now know we don't to a dangerous situation on the Ground. With this in mind one the most important training Focuses should be Entry/Exit and Sweep Training. Improve your Sweeps and Unbalancing work and this will allow you to employ the L Principle, which means your opponents will on the ground with you over him for a Finishing Strike. This gives you the protection of still being Vertical and Mobile while controlling the opponent on the Ground.

7.Open Palm Conflict Management or Other Conflict Resolution

There is a Concept known by British Military(as well as many others) known as "Open Palms" this is  allows for Verbal Control of a Confrontation while positioning for a First Strike. The best conflict is one you don't to Fight, and you always want a way to attempting to ensure a Situation resolves Peacefully. However you still want to be in Control. An element of Conflict Management or Resolution training will round you out as Operator or Person. This is an Element which is forgotten about by many Instructors who focus most of their time on Fighting. Follow the old adage "the best operation is one where no one knows you were there", and I said the same is true for Confrontations the best fight is the one that doesn't  happen. Open Palms is outlined below:

Position:Place yourself in a location where you are aware of and have access to exit routes easily. You can't be hit if you're not there. Never block yourself in. The same for the other Person this applies to not making them feel boxed in.

Attitude:Display a Positive, Helpful, Polite but Assertive Attitude. Projecting Confidence in your language and showing you are giving the chance to move the Conflict forward non violently is a great help. Avoid Aggressive Phrases, and Trigger words. Let them know you don't want the situation to end Violently.Keep the focus on the Solution to Problem.

Look and Listen:This is an Important aspect of Control. Maintain Eye contact but don't Stare, and demonstrate all signs of listening Actively. Head Nodding Etc.This is also where you observe for signs of Conflict Escalation.

Make and Maintain Space:Keep a close observation of your Space in relation to the Other Individual. Do not invade their Space and do not let them invade yours. In order to keep space use the following Questions:

-Can you see their feet?
-Do you feel Comfortable with the distance?
-Will they have to move to hit you?

Doing this will ensure you keep a firm control of Space. Should an Attacker continue to invade your Space you employ other Techniques.

Stance: Stand to the side Palms open one hand in front one hand slightly lowered. This will be a Guard should you be Attacked, and B by turning you give the Person you face the chance to exit. In the event of a need to Strike your Palms are your first weapon. Open Palm Strikes from this position are your main tool here.To your Opponent this has look like you are almost backing away, but this is the position from which to launch  your First Strike.

Open palms is all about "I'm going to allow to Speak, and Resolve the Situation. I'm prepared to hit you, but not yet, and when I do it will be the only resolution". There is always two ways to do ways to do something the first is easy where no one gets hurt, but the second is still easy(for you) but someone gets hurt. Open Palms is their chance to decide.

The list here is not huge, and you may disagree. However I hope it sparks you to think your own training, and what methods work for you or your clients.