Reflections on the Journey Fitness Company Training Programme for my StanChart Marathon

I initially joined the Journey Fitness Company training programme in August 2015, to prepare for the Standard Chartered Marathon later in December.

[Photo from]

[Photo from]

Fitness levels slowly improved throughout the programme

At the beginning though, I admit that following the programme had been a little difficult, especially when hill training had been first incorporated into my sessions. This is because I had never really run hills on a regular basis. However I found that as my fitness levels improved, my body slowly became more accustomed to the hill reps.

And I also realised that during many of my later races last year, I was able to jog up the hills rather than having to slow my pace and walk up instead – as I had been doing, previously. As the training progressed, I could feel my body slowly getting stronger.

Lactate Test and Fuel Efficiency Test

This improvement in fitness had been confirmed when I took the Lactate Test and the Fuel Efficiency Test done towards the end of my Journey Fitness training programme in December 2015.

Coming into the Journey Fitness lab for my testing sessions.

Going into the Journey Fitness lab for my testing sessions.

The Lactate Test is to measure the efficiency of the body’s natural lactate clearing system, which is important for endurance runners. The more efficient the body can clear lactate, the further a runner can go without suffering cramps or exhaustion.

According to Ben Pulham, Co-Founder of Journey Fitness Company, my ability to clear lactate at low intensities had improved substantially as compared to my previous test, which had been conducted back in August 2015. He said, “It is important for a distance runner to be able to run at a higher pace and not accumulate much lactate over a marathon.”

The results of my recent December Lactate Test showed that my ability to clear lactate had improved by about 1.5km/hour and that I was still clearing lactate relatively efficiently after four stages into my six-stage test. (Usually the test covers five stages, but in my case, I was given another stage to do, because of my ability to clear lactate during the later stages of the test). This had been a good sign, according to Ben because for the August testing, the lactate clearing ability had already begun to deteriorate by the fourth stage.

The Fuel Efficiency Test was done to measure the current health of the body’s metabolism and gauge how effective the body is, at burning fats. Being able to effectively tap into the body’s natural fat stores is important in maintaining high energy levels and going the distance in endurance events, according to Ben.

Based on my Fuel Efficiency Test results, my fats metabolism had improved substantially after four months into the Journey Fitness training programme. For example, I had been able to last the full 20 minutes of the testing, rather than 14 minutes back in August. Also it took a longer time for my fat metabolism to show signs of plummeting in the recent testing, as compared to the earlier testing session.

Ben advises runners to cut down on the amount of carbs they are consuming.

Ben advises runners to cut down on the amount of carbs they are consuming.

This improvement had also probably been partly aided by the fact that I had tried to make modifications to my diet, such as reducing the amount of carbohydrates consumed in my daily meals on a regular basis and increasing the amount of healthy fats, such as nuts.

But despite my best efforts, living in an Asian country such as Singapore, there are still some carbohydrates that had managed to find their way into my diet – especially when I go out to eat!

Said Ben, “Fat burning is largely diet-based and the higher portion of fats that is burned at a lower intensity, the better it is for the endurance athlete. And to get to the stage where the athlete maintain that proportion of fats being used as fuel when he or she runs faster, is even better.”

Race Execution

But despite the improvements in fitness though, I didn’t manage to clock a personal best timing at the StanChart Marathon. Ben felt that this could have been due to a number of reasons, which included poor race execution i.e. starting the race too fast, or else I simply had had a bad day.

Race execution must be perfect, in order to run a great race.

Race execution must be perfect, in order to run a great race.

Generally according to Ben, it’s very important to practise proper pacing and race strategies during a marathon, especially one that is run in Singapore’s hot, tropical weather. If you start running the race too fast, it can really destroy you in the latter stages of the race.

And if you choose to run slowly and very conservatively at the beginning, he added that this can help the body to cope with factors such as the insane Singapore heat and you are less likely to burn out.

Goal of the programme is to keep on improving 

Taking it from here now, Ben explained that the goal of Journey Fitness Company, like that of all other training programmes, is to help athletes like me, to keep on improving.

Ben added, “We help athletes in a number of ways. Our programme is holistic. The training programme is the foundation of what we do, but we also talk about diet, sleep and stress and the ability to recover and maximise the time spent training.”

Athletes still must figure out what works best for them

However, he added that athletes, especially those holding down a full-time job and with family commitments at the same time, would still have to figure out what works best for them and exactly what they want out of their training. Explained Ben “A structured lifestyle and controlling your diet will help you get the most out of your training. But it’s not a quick fix – it takes a long time to develop this.”

Runners should priorities their commitments to do well. [Photo taken from]

Runners should priorities their commitments to do well.
[Photo taken from]

The coach also feels that athletes could consider shifting their priorities throughout the year. For example, they could spend more time on running in the four months leading up to their key marathon race. But once the marathon is over, they can tone down the training and switch their focus to their family and friends.

Added Ben, “But it all depends on your goals and what you’re trying to achieve as an athlete and a person.”

For more about Journey Fitness Company, their website is at

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