Health & Fitness Guru Tim Robards on How to Prepare for This Year’s City2Surf

Sign up to run in the 2018 City2Surf before midnight tonight to receive a $20 early bird discount

Tim Robards is no stranger to successful fitness training. The sports chiropractor, one-time TV bachelor (and now soon-to-be husband) and training guru has built his entire brand, The Robards Method, on a holistic approach to health and fitness, including diet and nutrition information that works in partnership with exercise goals to help his loyal followers reach their personal best.

The City2Surf Ambassador has also recently started his Twosome Challenge, encouraging couples (or mates) to team up and work on their fitness goals together. He’s even motivating the best performing twosomes with some sweet prizes, just to further encourage them to get on board with the program.

We caught up with Tim last week to get his best advice for running the annual fun run, whether you’re a beginner or a pro, to give you all a few weeks to prepare before the big day, on Sunday August 12.

City2Surf is the world’s largest fun run. Why do you think Australians love it so much?

I think people love to have something to train for. It’s good to have a goal, and City2Surf, it kind of sneaks up on us. It’s one of those things that it’s the best way to encourage people to go out and run. Running is something that’s really simple. It’s free. It’s great for your health, and it just gives people a goal to get moving.

As for the actual run itself? The first time I ran it was probably 15 years ago. I think I’ve done it maybe six or seven times–it’s always fun. The very first time I did it, I was like, “It’s pretty crazy,” because running, especially running that distance, it’s hard work for a lot of people if you’re not used to running that. You’ve got so many people running along with you. The energy. Every one’s crowded in together.

Along the way it’s got music and entertainment, it’s sunny weather. It’s beautiful, and then ending up on a beach–it’s a good place to have a shaky beer or two after.

I want to talk a little bit about The Robards’ Method, because obviously it’s super popular. Can you tell us a little bit about your philosophy when it comes to training, and the 7:2:1 theory for eating as well?

You’ve got to have goals. For me, my goals have kind of changed over the years. When I was younger, it was to be strong and fit for football. Then it moved into modelling as a young guy, 20 years old–you’ve got to look the part.

One thing that remains constant is that when I train, I feel good. It balances my hormones; I feel good in myself. I feel positive doing something positive for myself.

I could not imagine not having the exercise and eating well to balance out. I think life’s all about balance. The whole philosophy is around balance. I think that there’s some people who take sickness and health to one degree where it’s their life, and it’s all they do, they measure every little thing they’re putting in their body. You can’t eat this. You can’t eat that. You can’t do this.

I don’t think that’s healthy just as I don’t think it’s really a healthy mindset going the other way where you don’t care what goes in your body, and you don’t keep balanced. I think life is about respecting what your body needs. Look after it, but it’s also about enjoying some of the nicer things in life as well. That’s where my nutritional philosophy comes into it.

When you do your shopping for the week, 70% of the food that goes into your mouth over that week should be what we call super clean, which means when it gets to your kitchen, you can and identify it as it comes from nature–when it’s on you plate, you should be able to look at it and identify what it all is. If there’s sauce, if there’s bread–bread doesn’t come like that from nature. It’s been processed. Doesn’t mean it’s the worst thing in the world, but the 70% is using food as it comes from nature.

Then the 20% is what we call sensible.

If 10% of what you’re putting in your mouth’s relaxed, you enjoy it. You don’t feel guilty, it’s like, “I’ve been balanced all week. Now I’m going to enjoy this dessert, or beer, or whatever.” That’s the 10%.

A glass of wine or a nice dessert; I couldn’t imagine life without having a dessert here and there. It’s being able to respect and know dessert is not something we need, and we should have every day.

For people who don’t like doing the numbers: 15 meals a week would be super clean, four meals a week would be sensible, and two meals a week would be relaxed.

Absolutely. I want to touch a bit on your couples training program. Can you tell me a little bit about how that works? Is Anna doing it with you in preparation for the big day?

The thing we do really well together is the 7:2:1, our lifestyle. That’s the nutrition stuff, and it’s a lifestyle. Our training, sometimes she’ll do my TRM training, the rings and things. Other times she goes and does her own training at the gym. She’s likes to do classes and group classes, things like that. To be honest, I kind of mix up my training between my partner, my friends, and myself.

What I wanted to do with the Twosome Challenge was give people the opportunity to train together, either as friends or partners. You don’t have to be romantic couples. You can be mates, buddies, girlfriends, friends. You come together and encourage other, work out together. The best couple or twosome transformation wins … We’ve got a prize: we’re sending them to Europe for a 10-day cruise.

We want to hear what training together has done for you. It’s great to do it with a partner, to have someone to keep you accountable.

Back to City2Surf, what’s your main advice for people who are going to be running the 14 K this year?

First thing I would say is go and have fun with it. You don’t want to stress yourself out; some people go, “Oh, this year I’ve got to make this time.” It’s great to do that, but it is a fun run. Make sure you don’t lose the fun part of it.

Then, if you’re going to run it, make sure you condition yourself up for that. It’s 14 ks. If you’re not running regularly, start three months out, and just start with two kilometres, then each week, add a kilometre. Before you know it, you’ll be up to pretty much hitting 14 kilometres. You don’t want to do one run a week before and then go and just jump into it.

The other thing is to make sure you’ve got good footwear. Some people also take jumpers in the morning, and you can leave them, you can donate them in bins along the way. If you’ve got an old jumper you want to donate, take it with you and just throw it off, and then gets donated.

The other thing is heel striking. A lot of runner are heel strikers–it’s no good for your knees, your ankles, your back. Learning how to midfoot, forefoot run is really important.

What shoes do you recommend?

If you’re a good midfoot runner, I’d normally go a shoe that doesn’t have a big heel on it. Having a big thick heel can tend to make you become more of a heel striker. I try and get something quite thin, I’ve run it before in the barefoot shoes and I’ve done it in Nike trainers. I mix it up, but for me, generally, I like something light and something with a thin sole.

If you are a heel striker, you need support because it’s as you roll from your heel through your foot, you need support. If you’re landing on your midfoot, you don’t need support because your foot and your calves, they’re supporting it. It’s only when you heel strike and roll through that most people then pronate and need support.

If you’re a heel striker, get a very supportive shoe. If you’re a midfoot runner, get a thin sole shoe.

Every year gets a lot of new people. Do you have any advice for people doing it the first time, especially for when they hit Heartbreak Hill?

Well, definitely if you’re new to it, condition yourself, like I said before. The other thing to do is keep a consistent cadence. A cadence is like the beat of your footsteps. Shorten your stride. Instead of like “BANG, BANG, BANG”, you want it to be more like “tap, tap, tap”.

When you do that, try and keep the same cadence the whole way. When you hit Heartbreak Hill–you haven’t been powering up to Heartbreak Hill–you hit it, and you slow down massively. You may shorten your stride. You want to keep the same beat the whole time. It’s just tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. It’s like a metronome. Keep the same speed of your feet, just shorten your stride when you hit the hill.

You won’t have to stop. Once you stop, it’s really hard to get going again. Whereas, even if you’re creeping at a slow pace, your feet are still moving at the same rate as when you’re on the flat or on the downhill.

What’s your song for when you’re running to keep that beat?

There’s a song that I play, I played last year when I did it when I was coming down the home straight, when I wanted to put in that last bit. It’s on the Rocky soundtrack, Going the Distance. When you hear that, it builds up, and then that pushes you to run flat out. For some reason it just keeps you going at a higher pace.

What about carb-loading, I know people who swear by mashed potato and heaps of bread the night before. I’ve got one friend in particular who goes and drinks about eight beers the night before. He thinks he’s actually better off because of the carbs. Is there any truth to that?

I think: don’t do anything drastically different than what you normally do. If you’ve been keto for a while, then stick with keto. If you normally eat a mix of carbs and such, stick with that. If you are eating the carbs and things, have a bit of toast with some banana and some peanut butter on it. It’s a mixture. You’ll have some carbs, some sugars, and some fats.

That’s a nice little go-to, toast with peanut butter and some ripe banana on it.

Just lastly, what do you reckon your time’s going to be?

Last year I went … I think it was last year. I tried to go hard. I think I got 67, maybe.

I felt like I was going really hard that year. I don’t know. This year I may slow it down a bit, or I may surprise myself. Depends on how much training I get in beforehand.

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