George Gandy’s Tips on Running for Fitness

George-GandyGeorge Gandy is an accomplished athletics coach. His most famous student was Lord Seb Coe, who he helped to win two Olympic gold medals and break 12 World records. He also trained European 5000m champion Jack Buckner and Jon Brown (UK Male Athlete of the Year for 2004), who came 4th in the Marathon at two consecutive Olympic Games (Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004).

When I arrived at Loughborough in the late 1970s some of the conditioning work this guy gave me provided the basis for much of what I achieved. It was revolutionary stuff.” Lord Seb Coe, IAAF Vice President.

In July 2012, during the build up to the London 2012 Games, Seb Coe spoke again about the impact that George Gandy had on his athletic performance:

“George Gandy taught me that running on its own was not enough to graduate into the ranks of an Olympian. Supreme core strength and physical conditioning went hand in hand.” ~ Seb Coe.

His most recent protegé is Lisa Dobriskey (see more below), who won silver in the 2009 World Athletic Championships in Berlin. George Gandy has been helping runners reach the top for 4 decades now.

George Gandy, Director of Athletics at the Sports Development Centre at Loughborough University. He was inducted in to the UK Coaching Hall of Fame in 2003 by HRH The Princess Royal, and in this year he was awarded the British Milers Club Coach of the Year Award, 2008.  He also received an honorary doctorate from Loughborough University for outstanding services to their athletics program over the last 4 decades. He spoke to the Loughborough Echo about the state of youngsters today, and how so few are realizing their athletic potential:

“People are not playing as much sport as they used to be. It used to be that 95 per cent of kids would leave school having taken some part in athletics be it area sports or other competitions. Now for a guess I bet that figure is about 20 per cent. I am not sure who is at fault, whether it’s the government or the organizing bodies for not encouraging kids to take up sports, but youngsters just don’t use their legs anymore. They’re getting a car everywhere and not going out and playing like I used to when I was growing up in the north east. If things keep going like this eventually we will evolve without legs because we don’t use them and as a result a smaller percentage are growing up as natural athletes. We used to churn out a top middle-distance runner every 10 years or so but in the future it may only be every 25 years.” George Gandy, Loughborough University, 2008.

George Gandy’s Tips for Getting Fit with Running

George Gandy published these fitness tips in The Guardian earlier this year:

  • Running Tip 1: Go longer – Lengthen one of your weekly runs by five to 10 minutes. Keep the pace slow and easy. The only objective of this run is to make it longer.
  • Running Tip 2: Go faster – Take another of your runs and aim to run some of it at a faster pace. For example, run comfortably out to a particular point, and then run back harder. Or divide the run into three segments, running the first part easy, the second part brisk and the final part at a pace somewhere in between.
  • Running Tip 3: Get the balance right – If you’re running three times a week, keep your final session as an easy run. If you’re running five times a week or more, include an additional harder session. But no matter how frequently you run, two to three harder sessions (including the long run) is plenty. Any additional runs you do beyond that should be easy.
  • Running Tip 4: Mix it up – You ideally want a mix in the nature of the surfaces you run on. If you’re running four to five times per week, one or two sessions on roads is plenty.
  • Running Tip 5: Stay in good condition – A worthwhile addition to your routine is some kind of conditioning exercise. Core stability training, yoga and Pilates all help with body awareness, posture and core strength, which you need to be able to maintain without thinking about when you’re running.
  • Running Tip 6: Listen to your body – I get my athletes to mark themselves out of 10 on how they are feeling on a Monday morning. Are they physically/mentally in a position to benefit from the training that is ahead? If not, the plan needs to be modified and we need to look back over what they’ve done previously to see what might be causing the problem. That’s why it’s so important to keep track of your training and how your body is responding to it. You need to learn to back off where necessary.

This is good solid advice from an expert coach. If you want to get fit, and run better, then follow these rules. Maybe one day you could represent your country!

18 Comments on “George Gandy’s Tips on Running for Fitness”

  1. MotleyHealth says:

    She is running again today in Berlin. We wish you the best of luck Lisa!

  2. MotleyHealth says:

    Lisa has just won bronze in the World Championships She started the year suffering stress fracture in lower back, and picked up a thigh injury. But she struggled through, and managed her training well to win a bronze medal in Berlin. She was so close to silver too.

  3. MotleyHealth says:

    Update – Lisa wins Silver! Lisa Dobriskey has been awarded silver for the 1500m final in Berlin, after Natalia Rodríguez was disqualified for pushing.

  4. toby plowman says:

    this really works wow i now have a 6 pack and my best time is 4;50 but im only 13

  5. I am 55 and 5’3″ – started at 160 lbs and now after 3 weeks 152 lbs with a target of 140 lbs by end of January – I was always active in my 20’s to 40’s but have recently put on weight – I am now on a weightwatcher type diet and jogging every other day for around 30 minutes on a mixture of terrain – flat, hills and downhill – if I continue with this will I continue to lose weight or will I plateau? Any suggestions>

  6. MotleyHealth says:

    Hi Jeff, only time will tell really. It sounds like you are making good progress with a steady and healthy weight loss. I would just carry on as you are for now, working on getting fitter, and if you hit a plateau start to think about additional exercise and modifications to your diet. But for now, if the system is working, don’t change it.

  7. Hi everyone!!!
    im 5 11′ and and weigh like 166 pounds.. its very low i guess. i get tired even if run half a mile. now im working on it and its really improving.

    All I need is some tone on my entire body, i dont want to have heavy muscles just look fit, coz as of now im a bit skinny. So all I want o know is does jogging help me improve my muscle tone. .. few of my friends say i might loose more weigh if i jog. Is this true?? Please advice.. all i need is to look fit.. ofcourse i eat well..


  8. MotleyHealth says:

    You will develop stronger muscles in your legs and possible lose more fat on a restrictive diet. Ensure that you eat a healthy diet and increase protein intake too to help muscles develop. You should also consider doing some bodyweight exercises a couple times a week to help develop some general, all round strength.

  9. Hi,

    I lost about 80lbs in about a year and a half, then I hit a plateau. So I started jogging. I gained a few pounds, but over all looking fitter. After about a month I cut back on my jogging and started going back to the gym…and I’ve gained 15lbs. Now im running six days a week, eating healthy, and going to the gym. So why am I not losing any weight anymore?

  10. MotleyHealth says:

    Hi Lindley, how much exercise are you doing each day, and have you modified your diet? If you stop losing weight (fat) then it simply means that your body has reached a balance – what you eat provides your body with the energy is requires to maintain itself at your current level of activity. To lose more fat something has to change again.

  11. Hi,

    I could do with some help please!

    I’m 32, 6″0, 15 stone so 210 lbs. I’m running around 2or 3 times a week on a 3 mile, 5k route. I would like to lose a bit of weight, probably a stone, so 14lbs, it’s quite gard to do, it’s only my stomach, belly area around my belly button where I have fat, maybe a but on my legs.

    Id like to find out the best way to lose a stone please, I’m finding it hard. I have a naturally athletic build so to look at I’m not really ‘overweight’ as such, I just need to lost some weight.

    Can you help at all?
    Many thanks,

  12. MotleyHealth says:

    Hi Richard. First, run more. Run daily, or at least 5 days a week. Also do some other workouts, such as weight training, bodyweight circuits etc. Finally, clean up the diet – ditch all junk food, reduce alcohol, eat good quality carbs and lean proteins.

  13. Irene Todorcevic says:

    I have been jogging 3 miles 5 times a week for 6 month, 25 minutes each run. I have not lost weight. Help.

  14. MotleyHealth says:

    Hi Irene, you need to increase your running time / distance and adjust your diet. If you have been doing the same workout (i.e. distance) for 6 months, you have not improved your fitness enough to prompt new weight loss. Start some interval sprints in your workout to push your fitness levels up, do a couple of longer runs each week.

  15. Hey I’m 13, 5ft 4 and weigh 56 kg (123 pounds) I want to lose about 10 pounds (of fat especially around my thighs) I have an ab circle pro machine, step machine, treadmill, bike machine and cross trainer could you please help me find a workout 3 times a week using these machines?

  16. MotleyHealth says:

    Hi Cait, if your only goal is to slim down your thighs then really the best thing would be to go running 3 times a week and forget about the other machines. However, your BMI is 21.1 – you do not need to lose weight. Focus on fitness and you will soon tone up.

  17. Hi MH,

    Turning 65 soon and have started running again now that I have more time as a retiree. I also need to lose some weight (1.78 meters and 81 kilo’s) No trouble at all jogging three times a week, 5 km’s in 38 minutes and intend to increase my pace gradually. Any advice would be very welcome.

  18. MotleyHealth says:

    Hi Fred, sounds like you are planning well already. Increase pace gradually as you say, maybe to increase pace over 5km start with some quicker runs over 2km first and then as you become more comfortable with a faster pace start extended to that pace over 5km. Remember to stretch well and eat a balanced diet. Consider supplements such as fish oil to help keep the bones lubricated.

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