2012-10-02

Singelloop 2012

A few notes after the Utrecht Singelloop 2012.

The general feeling is of a certain disappointment. The result is a PR, but I only improved 6" over my last 10K time, while I was aiming for 40:00. In fact I was reaching the necessary pace (6:40) easily.

The race felt extremely hard to me for the pace I (thought) I was running at. I later realised why. I don't want to blame external factors I have no control over. I just want to underline for my own sake which variables I need to keep under control.

Here a short account of the race: the weather was perfect, 16C, no wind, sunny. The race course is pancake flat with good asphalt and a few  stone paved streaks. The organisation was good and efficient. I may however point that there was no distance information whatsoever on the route until km 7. 

I would say that my main points of failure were; pacing, stamina, foot strike , confusion and GI distress. All my own fault and preventible. One external annoyance was as always the clumsy slow runners  staying in your way. I had indeed taken this factor into account and placed myself on front of my cathegorie's starting gate. But I am not going to bother about factors that are not under my control. I will discuss the four minus points that I have to blame to myself:

Pacing : I paced myself too fast at the beginning. Not consciously but as a result of a completely wrongly calibrated Nike+ Sportband. The sensor marked 5.73 miles when I crossed the finish, so that it was 1/2 a mile short. I initially wanted to pace myself on time but I forgot to preprepare the bracelet with the splits. The result was that I was pacing myself too fast while I was reading  that my pace was low. The obvious result was that I went tired too fast. I was unable to make a second faster half and I failed to properly sprint in the last 500m.
Lesson learned; never again neglect the paper strip. Convert the paces to metric and rely mainly on instinct during the first 2 miles. TRAINING: train to race on feeling.

Stamina : I wasn't feeling 100% well during the day and a few days before. Stress at home, lack of sleep because of gaming (!) and a certain loss of training perspective during the holidays, skipping some trainings and cutting some others short.
Lesson learned; sleep! Videogames can be retaken, sleep not.

Foot strike :  the flats do hurt. They are 1/2 size too small for my Morton toes, it hurts a lot after a few days training in them (black toenail) and I tend to clench my toes instinctively. The hard sole is also not too good for my type of forefoot strike and fast pacing. 
Lesson learned; USE THE F****G FORCE LUKE! The MT10 would have been the better choice. The canvas would have been great too. It sounds ridiculous, but they are a great choice for street running. And don't forget the WTF factor. With either I would have been able to make full use of my forefoot strike, winning a minute at least.

Confusion : this is directly related to pacing. I lost my sense of pacing and distance completely. It's true that there was a total lack of km markings until midrace, but I should have known as can't rely on km markings anyway.
Lesson learned; remember to print the splits strip. Use the Garmin preferentially, it's not so bulky. Use metric in the splits strip. Do at least 2 calibration of the pods before the race. TRAINING: train in metric some times.

GI distress : I need to be much more careful with pre-race food. Curry rice with chili was not a good option. Nor was it to start with creatine  loading as this induced a lot of  bloating and liquid retention, with an influence on my sleeping patterns.
Lesson learned; stick to your good habits, do not neglect these or relax your self discipline. The week before the race should be like a Zazen practice; be mindful, concentrate on the race, keep the discipline of a monk, stay sharp as a samurai.

That's a lot to accomplish. Regarding point 3, the only long term option would be buying a new pair of flats as I can't see myself racing a marathon in the MT10. I will nevertheless try to run the next 14 miler in them at near-race pace to see how it feels. Haemolytic this morning was very high after the recorders run.

I am now not too confident about the results next October 21 and I may lower my expectations to a 1:39 like in Egmond.

 As of the fatasses clogging my path I have already taken the best possible measure: getting a competition license.





2012-04-21

End of the Season: Setting goals for the intermediate period

short sum up

Well, the season is over for me. Now I will take a rest and plan the next season and what to do in between.

My plans are first two full weeks of complete or almost complete rest and after that two or three months of alternative training.

My wish list includes bodybuilding (my all-times favourite for these periods), rope jumping and "fun runs". The latter means to just pick a place or a time, put on my huaraches or whatever I fancy and run. No GPS, no HRM, no nothing, I actually plan to just  check the time on my computer's clock before elaving and after return, and that just to keep track of the burnt calories.

Regarding nutrition and calories this time of lower effort is ideal to start an Intermittent Fasting diet (one or two days a week, no complicated 36/12 stuff or so). 

The first two weeks I am not going to do anything and I am not going to restrain my eating patterns in any way. Later I may want to increase the intake of calories, etc. 

More about that when I do the planning.

Tomorrow after the last race (Spieren voor Spieren 2012) I will make a recap of the entire season and decide what to do the next season in terms of setting goals and decide races, etc.

Goals

  1. Keep weight under control
  2. Improve upper body strenght
  3. Improve feet musculature
  4. Have a lot of fun

For goal #1 I will start the Interval Fasting program on May 7. (this means two weeks from now).I will have to add a "notes" entry to my cronometer.com nutrition log to keep track of the nutrients.

For #2 I will surely go back to Scooby's proven workouts and maybe add one or two different workouts. Another option would be crossfit, I will maybe try a week or two with crossfit. The problem with the latter is on one side that it will be difficult to fit into my working week and it's  too noisy to do early in the morning. Well, I will see. And there is also the fact that I want to target a specific group of muscles; the upper body, while I already do an extensive workout for the core muscles and legs.

For #3 I will obviously include a lot of minimal running in huaraches plus the foot strenght workout. 

For #4 I will just go out and run, no clock, no nothing. Just enjoy. Slow, no hurry and surely with huaraches as often as I can.

The goal is to reach the new schedule in perfect shape and reloaded.

 

2012-04-09

New PR at Utrecht Jaarbeurs Marathon 2012

Awesome. Quoting Hannibal Smith "I love it when a plan comes together!".
21 weeks of training with two excellent highlights: 1:39:xx at Egmond, almost untrained and 3:21:47 (official) at the Utrecht Jaarbeurs Marathon 2012. My placing is 27th among my age group and 130 of the total (!).

This actually means 7 minutes less than my wildest calculations. I would have been quite happy with 3:30 - 3:45 (Boston qualifying time). I was actually happily keeping the pace with the 3:45 and the 3:30 pacemakers but I went annoyed by the crowd and the balloon hitting my face.

I loved it. I was able to run almost the whole run without water or fluids which means that I was perfectly hydrated and carb loaded. I hate the idea of running with my hydration backpack, I will better leave it for the next season when I start doing ultras. If I had carried it I would have been able to carry a couple more of gels and make an even better time and the weather today would have allowed it, but I hated just thinking on carrying extra weight.

Another result of the training was that I was able to foresee the moment when I was going to "hit the wall" and stop at a watering hole to refuel. The timing was perfect. My pace went down at the end but I had accumulated enough buffer to reach my goal below 3:30. And as I already said I wouldn't have minded ending at 3:45.

When I finished I was rather hypothermic and extremely confused. During the last miles I almost lost my way a couple of times and I wasn't sure if I was already over the finish line or not so that I kept on sprinting some more yards. I walked to the Jaarbeurs Convention Centre and laid myself down for a good while, my lips were blue and I felt prickling on my tongue.  But after a hot coffee, warm fries and an alcohol free beer I was again as new.

Another "injury" that I suffered is a bloody nipple. Again. It's the second time I chafe my nipples in this run! The first time was in 2011 during the Jaarbeurs Half Marathon and then this year. It's like a course set on this place or so, because I never had any issues anywhere else. LOL.

Besides of that I am perfectly fine and ready to run for a PR on the next 10K here in Hilversum!!!

As a said: I love it when plans come together.

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fevenementen.uitslagen.nl%2F2012%2Fmarathonutrecht%2Fdetails.php%3Fs%3D3509%23.T4MXUo0qkLs.facebook&h=xAQH0rfzsAQFxwAuKY5AJ7dr0A4y86dZQ_qyx04_BoK0DCA

2012-03-20

Recipe: Demon's Blood


I just invented a new hellish Cocktail: Demon's Blood!!!
The recipe:
  • 200ml of Red Beet Juice (best if biologic!) and of course, chilled from the fridge!!!
  • 1/2 clove of Garlic grated in the cheese grater or mashed, your choice
  • A dash of salt, I use Jozo Bewust (a Dutch brand), that's 68% potassium salt plus normal sodium salt
  • Pepper from the mill (black and straight from Avernus)
  • Tabasco sauce, dunno, 5 drops at least!!! 
This is a hell of a nice drink! Tons of carbs, tastes awesome, fresh, with the performance enhancing effects of beet juice, the anti-inflammatory effects of capsaicin and pepper, the circulatory enhancing benefits of garlic, the metabolic boost of capsaicin and a shot of potassium to compensate for the after-workout!!!
It doesn't quenches your thirst, it kills it dead!

I am thinking on adding a few grams of flax seeds and put it in the blender to add more nice stuff, but for now this will be enough!

\m/

2012-03-14

Weekly Recap [week 11]

Week 15/18 for Utrecht Jaarbeurs Marathon 2012

So-so week in terms of performance: I started strong on both strength and running training but ended with an injury in my right elbow. I skipped a 4 miler recovery run on Saturday to go to Amsterdam with my wife and I cut Sunday's 20 miler short at 14.8 because of the pain in my arm and GI indisposition. In fact the second thing was caused by me goign to run in the evening instead of going in the morning before lunch, as planned. I have however learned a valuable lesson: My GI issues are not related to any special circumstance or diet but just to the fact hat it's not a good thing to run with full belly. Thus, problem solved in this regard. And as I never eat before a race except a gel or two and some liquid I will be more than OK.

Key Trainings:

  • Both, the strides and the VO2max session went quite good. I did the strides in Anna's Hoeve on a road so that I had more control over the actual distance. I was able to notice a failure of the Garmin 201 as it made one of the strides longer. The result was 2-3 points lower than my usual >5. During the VO2max run the result was above 44 while the standard is 40-42. That's good.
  • I runt the medium long run on Friday at marathon pace (the whole run) and with flats. My legs were still a bit stuff but afer warm up I gained a lot of momentum and speed.
  • Sunday's 20 miler was a mess: I was injured at my elbow and decided to make it a slow fun-run. I had to stop twice for a pee. At mile 9.80 I got a bad cramp in my belly and had to stop in the woods for [censored]. I fortunately use to carry paper hankies with me. At mile 14.8 I decided to stop because my back was hurting a lot caused by the extra strain of the elbow injury. I also got another belly cramp so that I just walked back home.  

Crosstraining:

  • I did 1o minutes of rope jumping which went quite nicely skipping most of the time. I stil jump too high so that it seems more like a pliometrics drill than proper rope jumping, but nice anyway. My calves were quite stiff during a few days.

Health:

  • Elbow Injury: During Friday's 11-miler my right arm was somewhat uncomfortable, I loosened the GPS and noticed a 'snapping' feeling, like a tendon moving from place or similar. Once at home I noticed that the elbow joint was (and still is) swollen to huge proportions. It hurts when I touch the Ulna and also the Flexor digitorum muscle 5-7cm from the elbow joint  and the Biceps brachii. Checking the internet I have found three possible causes: A displaced tendon, a biceps strain or a hyperextension injury. The cause is strength training.

Measures taken: RICE and Ibuprofen 3x400mg. A bit of tape on my forearm works also quite nicely, the movement of my hand is not affected. I bought a cold/warm therapy bag filled with some blue liquid that can be used for both things, works wonders(!). I am skipping strength training completely this week and doing elliptical instead to burn the necessary calories. I will anyway reduce the volume of weight lifting these last weeks. As the root cause is a muscle imbalance I will be doing some easy strength exercise for the hand extensors using a proteín container filled with 2kg (or so) of sand.  

2012-03-10

First Medum Long run in Huaraches !!! Wooooooooo!

This was a a crazy week in regard to minimalist running:

Last Wednesday I had a strides session scheduled. I normally do the strides in flats but before the strides I run between 4 and 8 miles at recovery pace (well, kinda). And I thought that it would be a great idea to do all the recovery session in huaraches. What I do is to put my flats into an hydration backpack, strap on my huaraches and run to the place where I do the strides, there I normally change into the flats, do the strides and run back home...

Wednesday it was raining, windy and the temperature was 5 C, rather chilly, but the run to the park was awesome. I thus decided to try doing a session of 6x 200m strides in huaraches. It was a disastrous session: My right strap loosened and cut my skin (both things!). I strapped it in a hurry at home as I did not wanted my wife to bitch about me running in the rain with "these things". I managed to keep the right huarache on for at least some meters every time and I strapped it during the 30 seconds of rest between intervals. Oh, I forgot to comment that I am stubborn as a whole stable full of mules. So that I did the whole set. During the last one the huarache completely loosened and repeatedly hit my left foot... but I did it! After this ordeal I did the 6 sets of normal strides in flats.

Today I decided to do the scheduled 11miler in huaraches. I ended up with a huge skin abrasion this time on my left foot. Did I already mention that I am 'a bit' stubborn... and I also have a high pain threshold. So well, if I have managed to run home with a broken toenail and bleeding like a pig and with ITBS a simple abrasion  will not stop me even for a second. Yes, I know,  "there are people runnign ultras in these things", and I do know what I did wrong. Nevermind: As soon as I grow a callus it will stop hurting... either that or I become more careful strapping the huaraches (I use the traditional style).

The run itself was fantastic: On asphalt, dirt road and concrete. A nice long and relatively steep hill and a short a really steep one.

During the descent from the hills I noticed that the heel strap seems to get looser and at some points it almost feel. I need to address that trying a different way of strapping.

My calves felt stiff during and after the run and somewhat sore but nothing a few hours or rest and sleep cannot cure. I was actually more afraid that the balls of my feet would feel more sore but they are demonstrating run after run that even when they start to hurt a bit while running on hard surfaces they do not hurt afterwards, I can feel a sort of stiffness (to call it something) but it's not discomfort or even burn, just that  you feel that you have run... not a bad feeling at all because they somehow feel strong.

Running in huaraches does feel good and it is working improving my form. I have said that I am stubborn but I am not stupid and in case I sensed real danger of injury I would stop immediately as I don't want to miss the next two races and throw 23 hard weeks of training overboard.. It just happens that besides some abrasions. minimalist running is proving to be both fun and extremely effective.


2012-03-09

Metro Race for Space

Metro Race for Space

Would be sooo cool to go!

And I am fitter than most of the guys that want to go! Actually fitter than 99% of the population of this country.

I would take my huaraches with me and try a first space run, lol

Interval idea for a 10K

A nice idea for an interval WO after the Utrecht Marathon:
http://www.scienceofrunning.com/2010/02/interval-training-why-its-misunderstood.html

For a 5k runner:
-Easy run w/ 30sec pickups in the middle
-9mi easy w/ 8x45sec at 10k down to 5k pace with 2:15 easy after
-8x200 at 3k pace w/ 200m easy
-8x100, 8x200 w/ 100s at 1500 pace and 20sec rest, 200s at 5k down to 3k pace w/ 200m easy

 I just need to figure out who to put that stuff into a scheme... is that all for one day or for 4?
Nevermind, there's still time

2012-03-05

Study on barefoot running in Nature

Science of Running: THE first big study on barefoot running in Nature : Death to Heel striking

Just a short link as I am still reading the entry.

Steve's blog is extremely interesting as it includes a petlhora of facts.

It is thought for a professional or public and it is higly technical, nice stuff ;)

 

 

 

2012-03-03

Weekly Recap (Week 9)

Just starting a series of weekly recaps. This week I´m writing it on Saturday.

This is the last week of the mesocycle 2 (LT and endurance). Monday starts mesocycle 3: race preparation and  taper.

I started the week with a sore right calf. I indeed feared an injury and thus skipped the lunges during Monday's workout. It is still sore but it feels more like a normal case of soreness after workout. I took 2x 400mg of ibuprofen Sunday and Monday plus 5g L-glutamin extra in the recovery drinks.

The week was quite intense with a 9mi VO2 max interval with 5x 1000m + 500m. I did however onnly reach a VO2max of 49.6 while I can reach 51.2 in a LT run. My max HR is also never higher than 168.I am actually puzzled about this value as I have been able to see values as high as 215 and 191 on past VO2max intervals. I have to say that I was running with caution because of the sore calf.

I changed the strength workout to include a full set of core exercises based on Runnerdude's  core routine and skipping the ab crunches from Scooby's intermediate workout.

Yesterday I did a 12 miler at Medium  / Long Run pace. Pfizinger recommends a progression towards a pave 10-20 secs slower than the marathon pace (MP) so that you do a 60% of the run at this pace. I was doing this at the beginning as a 40%-60% interval, but since some weeks ago I do them directly at the target pace. Some actually almost at my target marathon pace. Yesterday I changed my strategy to use the Training Assistant on my Garmin, which showed to be a extremely good option as you set the target pace and distance and you can then adjust your run to it. I do set it a bit slower than my target as I use to race against it (can help it!).

I had scheduled a 5 miler at recovery pace .in huaraches but as I am going for some drinks to Amsterdam I swapped the 18 miler at MP to today. I actually wanted to make a double but my wife was bitching so that will finally do it tomorrow morning.

The 18 miler went extremely good finishing at 7:42, average pace. My target marathon pace is 8:00 - 8:02 so that I am quite confident of making a strong race and finishing on target.

I runt without food or hydration, my hydration level  before the run was 57.2% and after the run and recovery drink 57%.

Before the run I took 52g of my 4:1 mix of maltodextrine and soy protein, 200ml of  beet juice, coffee, and the full dosage of L-carnitine, L-Glutamine, beta-alanine, Ca and Mg and B-complex complements plus 3x1500mg of essential aminoacids. I felt a bit strange during the first part of the run, like drunk but without any real effect on my perception and functioning or coordination but just the warm and somewhat dizzy feel.

Tomorrow I will do the remaining 5 recovery miles in huaraches early in the morning. I do not expect any problems with my calves as I know the exact cause of it and it was a combination of last week's 10k time trial and the hill workouts.






2012-02-26

Running with music (one time exception)

To be true, I don't like running with music for a long list of reasons, one of them and maybe the most important one is traffic security. But today I decided to give it a try as I really needed some extra motivation: I got a soar calf during today's 6 miler and I really didn't felt like running 17 miles in pain. So that I decided to do the long run as an extra long recovery run and to keep myself distracted I took my Sansa unit. As I didn't have to cross any roads there is no problem with traffic either.

Here is a sample of my playlist: Morbid Angel, Claw, Grave Wax, Bathory, Mayhem, Watain, Electric Wizard and Thergoton... sounds good eh?

Problem #1: Throwing the horns and the invisible orange running is not easy. No way... but mates, I'm 100% Trve and I can't avoid it! The experience of listening to Urgehal and Taake while running through the woods was actually rather weird.

Well, it wasn't actually that bad. I managed to keep the pace exactly at 9:00 as intended and at the end my calf feels actually way better. Awesome.

Well, anyway, I will not repeat the experience anytime soon as I really prefer to pay attention to my surroundings, even if the only thing I hear is the noise of traffic.

2012-02-22

Nutrition Trackers: Finally the Right One(TM)!!!

I have finally found the perfect nutrition tracker that will allow me to substitute my dare old FitDay 1.x

Not that this one is bad, it is a very good piece of software. The drawback is that it is Windows based and while it is running smoothly the virtual PC software does have an influence on the rest of the applications and it requires to be stopped before shutting down the  machine.

The act that I had not migrated yet was that I have data on this program since 2008 and a huge amount of recipes and custom food.

The application I am talking about is CRON-O-Meter and it has all what you need to track your calorie intake and nutrition with the added boons of running on the browser so that I can just add it to the startup tabs with Runninghead and this blog.

As a tool for sporters more interested in the nutrition itself than in loosing weight this tool offers many benefits as detailed tracking of macronutrientes including such things as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and micronutrients... and aminoacids (!) an extremely valuable feature for us vegetarians.

Another interesting feature is that the measures are in grams, including the amount in imperial units too, so that you don't even have to calculate: If you want an ounce you can see the amount in grams directly visible in the drop down menu.

The serving type and weight is easy to customize, unlike many other applications. And the food database is humongous as it does not only include the standard USDA database and it's Canadian counterpart, but it also allows the users to share their recipes and custom food.


It is of course linked to Facebook and Google+

There is a free and a "gold" subscription. The free one has a limit of 7 days for most of the reports. This shouldn't be a problem if you export the data as CSV and import them into Openoffice Calc or MS Excel. But on the other hand a full year costs around 27 EUR (some 35 USD) and that is not much from any point of view, other products like Trainingpeaks are more expensive, do the same on regard of diet and are far more of a hassle to use despite integrating training and nutrition.



2012-02-10

First 5 miler with Huaraches

Today I decided to give it a try and do my assigned 5 recovery miles  in huaraches.
It should be my first attempt at a serious distance in huaraches and in less than ideal conditions. I write this down mostly for my personal records and for anybody interested in knowing about the performance of the huaraches and the socks and also about a first experience in minimalist running from an average runner.

Preparations

As a safety consideration I decided that I was going to stop at the very first signal that something was going wrong, such as pain or excess cold, walk back home and finish the day on the elliptical.



My previous experience on the trail was limited to two one-milers on the huaraches and ten minutes barefoot. Besides of running I do a lot of exercises that are either directly targeted at the toes and feet or recruit the muscles in them, and that since a lot of time ago, even before starting to run. I do also walk barefoot and in flip-flops a lot since I was a child. I have a Morton's Toe but I have never had any issue with that (more on that in another story).

I have always had a natural mid-foot strike and I have trained the fore-foot strike somewhat. I assume that my running form is good as I have had no injuries in more than a year. 

My gear was composed of three layers on the trunk: A sleeveless base layer, soft shell and a wind-proof jacked. Running gloves, beany and a motorcycle mask. I use the latter to cover my mouth and nose to pre-heat the air. It seems silly but it really works as it saves heat that can be pumped with the blood to other parts of your body.  

Concerns and conditions


  • Weather: -3C (26.6F), but sunny and no wind.
  • Route: My usual route goes through my street to the woods outside the town, the substrate is concrete, some asphalt and brick pavement inside the town and packed dirt and wood trail outside (the longest part). The route is largely covered in packed snow molten and frozen again to ice in an extremely irregular way due to traffic and footsteps. It had already proven to be extremely hard during my last (shod) trainings.
  • Shoes: One of the most interesting things to test was if the laces of my Invisibleshoes held for the whole run and if not how often I needed to re-lace them. Other points of interest were the grip of the sole to the road, specially the ice and if the soles protected my feet against the irregularities of the surface. 
  • Socks: I wanted to test if these Injinji socks where enough to keep my feet from freezing.
  • Legs and feet: I wanted to experience by myself a direct transition to minimalistic running keeping an eye on pain, stress, form, pace and all the other running related variables. 

Snow with footsteps molten by the sun and frozen again. This example is my backyard but it depicts the situation on the better parts of the route. On the streets this stuff is hard as stone.

The Run

The socks resulted to be clearly enough to keep my feet from freezing. I did in fact end the run with rather warm feet. I assume that the impact of the feet with the ground worked heating them up. I don't know the name of the effect but under cold conditions the body withdraws blood from the limbs to avoid wasting heat. When shod with normal trainers it takes me a few minutes to get my toes warm even with thick sheep-wool socks and despite all the shock absorbing rubber of the soles. I would say that running without socks wouldn't be an issue either.

The grip of the huaraches (the FeelTrue soles) was exceptionally good. It's true that I have developed a good form for running on ice and slippery surfaces but the feeling and technique is quite different than with normal trainers. With trainers the profile and hardness of the soles plays a big role and you have to adapt your form and style to the shoes; with trail running shoes you get more grip and with road running shoes you have to adopt a 'softer' landing and keeping a shorter mid-foot strike. I will come back to the form later, but I will confirm that the performance was exceptional. The internal contact surface did also provide a good adherence to my feet even with the socks. IMO this is an important plus of the design of the Contact soles compared to other solutions.

The 6mm soles proved enough to avoid pain from the rough and hard surface but allowing at the same time to feel the smallest changes. Note that I am not saying that the soles protected me by themselves, they are not meant for that; I was able to adapt my strike to the different obstacles or just jumping over them if required.

I was curious to know how long it would take for the laces to untie or loose tension. One of my intentions was to see how much it took to lace them again correctly. They did neither untie nor did they slip or loose any tension. Here I have say that I am glad to have chosen the Invisibleshoe huaraches instead of any others as anything but synthetic laces would have caused problems in this conditions.

As expected (and already tested earlier) there was no cushioning. I am not sure if I can say that "my feet knew what to do" as I always pay a lot of attention to what I do with my feet. I have read that the body itself adapts the strength of the strike automatically, as this is an unconscious arc-reflex I can't say, but I can confirm that I felt and feel no pain at all. I can feel some slight burn on some spots, exactly in the same way I experience after a strength workout, but not even the tension that I feel after running with some of my trainers.

With regard to pace, I was perfectly able to keep the same pace that I would have kept during a normal recovery run with an average of 8:27. I don't think that I should have any difficulty in running at a higher pace such as 8:00 at least under better conditions. Note again that the route is mostly trail, partly because it is actually trail and dirt road and partly because the snow has transformed the roads into an irregular ice surface more similar to running on rocks and rubble than on a proper road. 

Finally the most amazing part was the ability of adapting my strike instantaneously to the terrain: I have already stated that I am a mid-foot striker who uses neutral shoes. I do also train a forefoot strike and I often switch from one to the other. My favourite shoes are a pair of K-Swiss Natural Running II: what makes them different is that they have grooves running left to right on the sole under the toe box. This make them bendable and allows a better transition from mid-foot strike to forefoot strike. Making it possible to adopt the best strike and form on each part of the course.

The huaraches are however light years away: You are able to change the way of striking from step to step! This means that you can strike with your left forefoot and in the same step with your right mid-foot if required.
But that's is not all: It's in fact your entire foot which can change the way it lands on the ground. Including the frontal and lateral inclination and many other factors. It is just amazing how much control you have over your feet. Our hands and feet ave more nervous sensors than any other part of our body. In our hand this is quite obvious... and now I know what the ones on my feet are meant for.

Results

I consider this test a complete success. Pete Pfizinger defined a recovery run as "A run that makes you feel more energetic while you are running it", I would say that this run perfectly fits into this description as I do feel energized and I did not have to use band-aids on my toes, black from my new pair of MR620. And there is of also the faces of the people which I met on the streets looking at my weird footwear ;)









2012-02-09

New HR Max (needs confirmation)

It seems that my max HR is indeed way higher than the 185 I measured last year: The highest value measured yesterday during a lung-searing VO2max interval was 215.
I still have to make a couple more of test. Indeed I thought that there was a problem with my HRM (Garmin FR60). I noticed that when I started my trainings the HR went way above the expected values. But as I wasn't getting into oxygen debt or feeling any other symptom of an unusually hard workout I blamed my gadgets.
However, after 1.5 / 2 miles of running above 9:00 thre rate went down to "normal". My pace in warm wheater at 130-143 bpm (my old 70% HR reserve) was under 8:40.
I was actually so upset with the HRM that I have been running without it almost a week pacing myself with the GPS or just by feeling. During the Egmond Half Marathon I was consistantly getting high values too but I decided to just ignore them. I did a PR at 1:39:15 and I felt like having been able to press more...
If I can confirm the 215 bpm a lot of things would start to make sense. I am however afraid that the change could be related to the cold weather. In any case: As I am in the second mesocycle and speed and LT workouts are required I will be able to confirm the data.
Whoooo! I will maybe have to rethink my marathon goal of 3:30:00 !!



2012-02-01

Modern Shoes are not made for walking (I)


Shoes were and still are a luxury article for a majority of the world's population. Until the 20th century and the advent of  mass production only the higher classes wore shoes such as we know them nowadays. The rest walked either barefoot or wore primitive footwear ranging from sandals / flip-flops to the Catalonian "Espardenyes" or Espadrilles. This footwear was the one used by the infantry of the XIII - XIX century.

You can read a brief overview of the history of shoes on this page http://www.shoeinfonet.com/. One thing that becomes obvious is the absence of heels on most of the earlier types, this includes the footwear used by the Greeks and Romans but also by modern running people like the Tarahumara or the African how walk and run mostly barefoot or in sandals or flip-flops.

Why is this important? Because it points to a enlightening fact: Modern western style shoes are not designed for walking.

While high heels in woman shoes developed from the platforms of clogs or geta that kept the feet of the peasants from the mud or the ones of the urban population away from the sewage. Their purpose was and is purely aesthetic.The heels on the majority of  modern footwear have however a design that is just perfect for another completely different purpose: Horse Riding!

Heels are ideal for riding with stirrups. A common gentleman's shoe like the ones in use from the XIX century onwards could be considered a general purpose design for riding and walking (horse-racing still requires proper specialized footwear).

The result of all of that is that in our daily lives we wear shoes meant for horse riding with an artificial curvature elevating your toes from the ground. The latter is meant to make it possible to actually walk with our rigid modern shoes. The fact that the soles are rigid is again a handy feature for passing your shoes through stirrups but that is neither required for walking nor is it necessary from the point of view of the materials used as it would have been perfectly possible to make flexible rubber or leather soles. 

The gentleman shoe was already standard when industrial production started in the last XIX and early XX century. During a part of this period it was still completely fit for purpose and as there were no mayor issues and nobody saw a reason to change it, it just continued this way until nowadays having been etched into our concept of how a show has to look like.

But the big problem, when it comes to specialty footwear such as running shoes, is that  they too have adopted a shoe designed for horse riding with a heel that was meant to keep the stirrups in place to running. 

The main reason for sport shoes having a heel is actually different and based on Bill Bovermann's idea that a heel strike would increase stride length and thus be more efficient for competition. But were it not for our general acceptance of shoes with heels we would have considered the early Nikes weird monstrosities.

Not only that: Many running shoes are not sold for running proper but as 'sneakers'; the new must-have fashion accessory where it does not matter if a shoe has been designed for running, basket or rope-jumping but what matters is that it looks flashy, has the swoop of a known brand and is known to be or looks expensive. Another huge segment buy running shoes believing hat they will be healthier than normal shoes; I personally know a lot of people who work standing long hours or even people with difficulties for walking who use running shoes.  I do not have figures on that, but you just need to read the reviews customers put in sites like Amazon or Sierra Trading Post, such as "go well with jeans", "I use them everyday at work". You normally get four or five of these reviews for each that reads "good on track" or "nice for shorter workouts".

The shoe companies will thus have a huge incentive for adding elements to their designs that potential customers can easily identify with the established concept of  how a "normal" shoe has to look like.

In fact what you can easily realise is that the whole industry including the sport sector is almost entirely fashion based and that little or no ergonomic engineering has really taken place in the sports shoe sector were the designs are just based on completely empirical thinking based on wrong concepts and fashion standards based on footwear designed for horse riding or utter non-sense like Boverman's heal strike.

But there is more and this I will cover in the second part of this series.





2012-01-23

Stretching seems not to be necessary for runners

I was just feeling curios about stretching and googled the phrase "is stretching good?".

Interestingly I did hit gold at the first attempt. What I was interested in were references to serious studies showing that stretching after a workout is (or not) important.

After reading "Born to Run" and learning that there are no studies whatsoever that support the claims of the shoe industry I just thought that there may be more things that we give for granted but are not based on hard facts. One of these is stretching.

Note that I am a big stretching fan. I know dozens of stretches and I am using some of them with success to correct protracted shoulders. But what is good for posture correction may not be good for something completely different as injury prevention and endurance running.

The hard facts is that there is no study showing a relation between pre or post workout stretching and injury and even less with regard to performance improvement and in fact there is some evidence or suspicion of rather the contrary.

I guess that stretching may be a good idea for those starting any sport, as they surely lack the very basic flexibility and some extra light exercise are never a bad thing to do.

In fact I did noticed an improvement of some soreness on my knees after changing my heavy training routine for the lighter one described in Pfizinger's "Advanced Marathoning". In fact the soreness completely disapeared, while my mileage increased during the same period.

For one week I will stop stretching after workouts. It shouldn be too much of a problem as I do a good cooldown after each run, consisting in 1-2 miles at recovery pace and at least 1 mile walking. Saving myself 30-40 minutes a day can be in fact a great improvement in regard to my agenda allowing me an extra buffer every morning before commuting to work.

Here the articles I was talking about, some with references to more detailed sutdies:

http://faculty.washington.edu/crowther/Misc/RBC/stretch.shtml

http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-241-287--7001-0,00.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/13/health/nutrition/13Best.html?pagewanted=all



2012-01-20

X-Training: I'm hating it!

Read the title with the famous cola jingle melody.

Nope, I'm not hating it yet, but it's a way of saying that I'm tired as hell and everything burns as crazy. Actually, 60 mins of strength training is something I do every other day and in fact I do it as circuits while today it was more a "semi-circuit" throwing in some rest between sets.

The fact is that I am pretty tired; last week should have been an easy week with 36-37 miles but it ended with 46 and some extra speed intervals thanks to the genial idea of testing my heart rate and adding 10 minutes of barefoot running to the mix. To make matters worse I tried a Tabata weights interval and a HIIT interval on the elliptical. Not too bad. Except some extra tension on my left hamstring and knees but I feel rather tired, it doesn't affect my running at all but I feel it when lifting weight.

The Tabata intervals was a total fiasco: Despite doing an awful lot of reps (push ups, chin ups, dumbbell clean squat to press, squats with and without EZ bar) I did never reach more than a ridiculous 143 beats / min. My arms tired but I wasn't even close to oxygen debt :P

On the elliptical I can reach 175 or so which mightbe my max on this machine but during my trial sprinting up a hill (200m or so) I did only reach 171 which is good for a VO2max training but far from my max measured HR (185, actually measured with my Garmin, not just a theoretical value).

Tomorrow I face an 8x200m (8x 0.12mi) interval. It should have been 8x100 but the damn Garmin has a minimum value of 0.12mi for intervals, same in metric (0.2 km). It utterly sucks but the last time I drew a line on the dirt a fat idiot had no better idea than erasing it (!) when she passed. I was of course too spaced out to notice until I had run twice the distance, but well... this will teach me not to trust fat innocent looking women, I bet she belongs to some kind of anti-sport sect in the middle of a Jihad. Well, this time I will use my Garmin and do 200m, the only thing the fat anti-sport jihadists can do is sending an EMP pulse. Bwahahahaaaa!

And after the lung-searing 1600m interval an 18 mi long run on Sunday which will be 11 mi at recovery pace plus 7 miles at 8:02 (my new target marathon pace is 7:50). 

So that was my week so far.

2012-01-09

P Fucking R!

My first race of the season, PWN Egmond Halve Marathon. I PR at 13:30:15.
My training time was 1:43:xx (can't recall the seconds, but was rather on the upper limit).

However comparing the times fr Egmond from Wikipedia with the ones of a pancake race like Amsterdam I noticed the interesting fact that the times were lower in Egmond than in Amsterdam.

Ah, yeah, here it is:
PWN Egmond Halve Marathon 2012 | Uitslag Enric Martinez

The course has a widespread fame of being hard here in the Netherlands so that I prepared thoroughly for the worst. There is a hellish hill and terrible dunes... well, kinda. You really have to know the Dutch people, I only have met one culture that overstates things in the same way as the Dutch: the Andalusians who are famed in Spain for that. Maybe it's that the Dutch are traditionally fishers. Jokes apart, the fact is that running at a recreative level is extremely popular in this country and I assume that most of the reports about the hardness of the course comes from recreants. The weather has been a factor in the past too, but I can't figure out why a 13.1 miler would be too much harder at -8 or -12 C.

So, here I was working out miles on the "Galopp padden" roads of loose sand meant for horses to gallop, running in trail shoes through mud, dunes and the few available hills deserving this name in my neighbourhood... Just to find out what I almost expected:

Egmond is not a pancake but the hills are perfectly doable, long but not too steep. Indeed I only lost time at the water tents ricochetting all the people who stopped to drink and trying to pass all the turtles who do not understand the concept of "slow runners keep to the right". I do not know if it is that they were already spaced out or that they were thinking they were Gbrselassie himself.

And then there is the people with headphones: Yes, I know, you look extremely fashionable with your iPhone and your headphones, there is nothing hipper, but your exciting music does not make you any faster, so: Keep out of the fucking way!!


Annoyances aside the run resulted to be incredibly fun: The beach is long, wide and the sand is compact except in a few places and the slope towards the sea is practically depreciable, it is a real pleasure to run on it. A long slope down at the very start leads to the beach, but there are a few slopes at the start where some of the slower guys were already dropping out or slowing down, the same happened in the hills except in the first one up as people (as I commented before) do not understand that they are slow and have to run on the RIGHT side. I lost more breath screaming "left, left!!" than in my end sprint.

So Dutch guys, here is a rule of thumb: If you feel that your heart is going to explode, your are coughing your lungs out and you are breathing like a steam train... it's not that you are mutating into Superman or the running version of The Hulk, it's just that you are tired and slot, thus: Keep top your fucking RIGHT and let the FAST guys pass... yes, these that come from behind, do not breath loud and scream "left! Fast traffic!" LOL.

Next year I will maybe try a 1:30:00 on this course.

2012-01-06

Dirt Diva, \m/

I'm amazed by this girl Catra Corbett, aka. , Dirt Diva, 
She is hot, goth and a runner... well, I still have to find any runner male or female who is a metalhead like me, but she is really cool anyway.

Reading her blog I got almost convinced to try this crossfit stuff... well, I am starting to get bored and I need new ways of causing massive injury to myself, lol.

But mates, that's what heroes are for, to inspire you.