Taking an ‘Orange Approach’

For the last few months I’ve been running slower to get faster, and no I haven’t been drinking, and yes you did read that correctly. Slow is the new fast in my life. Well technically it’s not slow it’s ‘better running efficiency’ and it’s working for me. I’m a stronger, more efficient runner because I’ve been taking the ‘Orange Approach’.

Back in 2010 I joined a thread on a website called Fetch Everyone, the thread was called ‘Smell of 220’ and it was about triathlon. If you are a Star Wars fan like me, think Mos Eisley Cantana for triathletes with a similar sort of diverse clientle. I niavely mentioned my book ( hey I was excited, it was about to be published ) and deservedly got jumped on and had the p*ss taken out of me. I gave as good as I got and found a new online home where I could enjoy the banter and pick up some seriously good tips. Unfortunately I don’t get time to go there as much as I’d like these days but I’ve met some great mates as a result, all of whom keep me grounded with lighthearted abuse. Once such person that I met was Gobi – he first used my ‘Glassman’ nickname, he was opinionated, he was fast, he didn’t shy away from saying what needed to be said but through all the banter he spoke sense and he backed it up with his performances.

Welsh ultra distance marathon champion

Bronze at British AG Duathlon champs

Represented GB at AG duathlon

Completed four 70.3 races

2.38 marathon runner

Cycling PBs:

20.51 for 10 miles

52.23 for 25 miles

2.00.33 for 50

He also races in criteriums and cyclocross to various degrees – he’s quite good at crashing ( like me )

Swimming isn’t his strong point he’d be the first to admit ( another reason we get on ) and this was highlighted this year when he came 2nd overall ( he lost by a few seconds ) in a local sprint triathlon after giving the winner a 3 min 20 sec advantage after the swim. Over the last few years our friendship has grown and without fail whenever I posted about running on Facebook, twitter etc I’d get a message from him saying “Why are you killing yourself?” At first I wasn’t ready to hear it, and took it as criticism, I guess mentally I was in the wrong place. But slowly and surely I took note and we started a dialogue about pacing and heart rate etc.

I used to just go out and run as hard as I could and suffer because of it – I’d blow up, my recovery would take several days due to muscle fatigue and I’d pick up niggly injuries that all helped stiffle my potential. What he was telling me made sense and I’d been following the fantastic results that some of the athletes he trained were getting, I wanted some of that.

So this August we started to work with each other, communicating more, designing a path and a training plan that would get me into 2015 in good form once I’d fully recovered from my shoulder injury. In all honesty I can safely say it’s the best thing I HAVE EVER done in terms of my triathlon career. I won’t lie when Gobi told me that I needed to be running at under 140bpm max heart rate I was a bit shocked. That was the hardest thing I’ve had to do as every part of your brain is screaming at your legs “ Just go bloody faster, C’mon!!!” The first few times I tried it, I had to jog ( hate that word but I was jogging ) at 15 min mile pace. One night a lady overtook me walking, I kid you not.


I didn’t ache the next day, not once – my legs haven’t ached at all even after 2 hour runs. I wish I’d asked for Gobi’s help years ago. And the progress that I’ve made in the time that he’s been helping me has been remarkable. I feel stronger, and despite running slowly I feel faster. Yesterday I ran to a max HR of 139, and my average pace was 10.32 min mile, almost 5 minutes quicker for the same effort than 10 weeks ago. Now that’s efficient! And in case you are wondering my speed is good too when the brakes come off – yesterday I ran at 7.45 min/mile at 5k pace. It was hard but I felt that there is more to come.

I’ve had coaches in the past, but I trust in my coach now and really believe that he has my best interests at heart. I want to work hard for him ( and for me ) and as I can see the results it’s driving me forward. Plus I know that he won’t be afraid to tell me a few home truths if and when I need to hear them. Although I’m injured and have to be careful I’ve never enjoyed training so much as I do at the moment. I eagerly await my schedule for the week on a Sunday night and have been getting up before 6am most days to get the training done because I can see that the future is bright and that future is Orange.

Ok, ok what’s with all the Orange references? Well Gobi is a lover of all things orange, hence why his coaching is called “Orange Approach”. He coaches a small selection of athletes from ironmen, GB age groupers, cyclists and very quick runners. He doesn’t have a website, things are done by recommendation, word of mouth etc… BUT he’s helped me, and that’s cool. If you are interested in getting a bloody good coach then drop him an email orangeapproach@gmail.com or find him on twitter @gobi_one or Gobi Lord on Facebook – he’s picture is of Darth Cartman, which says it all really.

Until next time, have fun out there.


14 responses to “Taking an ‘Orange Approach’

  1. Somewhere july 2013 my new mantra was “Slow is good”. I hated it, but it helped me. A Lot!

  2. Andy, I have found the same thing runnig to low HR but how did you come to the 140 max?

  3. I started this approach a couple of seasons ago. I’m still not fast but much more efficient. Long training runs I run at 9:30-10:15 min/mile, 140ish HR. I can easily hold 7min/miles for 5K and sub 7:30’s for 10K. Not super fast but I’m still improving. i does work if you persist. I read that Mark Allen used this method through the 80s and early 90’s. If it worked for him then there must be something in it!

  4. Totally agree on the ‘140bpm’ mantra for your longer runs. I first read that in an ultrarunners book (either Rich Roll or Dean Karnazes, I can’t recall which) and it shocked me too, but they’re right. Long and slow or fast and furious middle of the road 150bpm runs don’t do you any good.

    Nice to see you making progress!

  5. Right let’s begin this slow business, it sounds really appealing after a foot op and when I need to do lot’s of cycling! Thanks Andy!

  6. Everyone is different for their max so what works for one isn’t the same for another. I max out at 200bpm and hit 140 without really starting to jog. I enjoyed that type of training a few years ago. It feels so slow to start with but does bring it on quickly. Still enjoying reading 🙂

  7. Just about to enter a period of middle distance brick training, have you noted what your heart rate is off the bike at all Andy? Are you looking to keep sub 140 for the bike too? Hope you had a great christmas. All the best, Scott at theroadtotri.com

    • Merry Christmas Scott. Because of my injured shoulder I’ve not been outside on my bike since June. On the turbo I’ve been doing upto an hour on the turbo (about as long as I can last before shoulder pain kicks in) to heart rates of 140,150 and 160 all concentrating on cadence between 90 and 100 revs. I will say it feels good keeping to the cadence. I’ve done a couple of brick sessions where I’ve kept the HR on both below 150.

      • That’s a bummer…any diagnosis on the shoulder? Thought about “patching” with a less aggressive body position could compensate with holding more with the core maybe? Anyway off to Switzerland in a few hours to pick up my own injuries on the slopes!! Hope you managed to shrug off the cold before the new year and here’s to a 2015 injury free for Mr Holgs!! All the best big guy.

      • Enjoy Switzerland, don’t break anything on the slopes 🙂
        Need an operation to reattach collarbone, shoulder and arm with some screws and synthetic ligaments. Hopefully that will get me back swimming and riding by mid-late summer.

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