Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Ankle keeps me in a low gear

I have a funny ankle!  I wonder if God us using it to develop yet another facet to my running for I realise u can run on it now even for a ling way provided I keep the pace real slow. I felt great after a couple of hours today like I could just have kept going and going. Maybe this next ultra is more about just enjoying taking part and meeting new folk. We will see!

Thursday, 16 May 2013


Excerpt from a message to my father:

Dear Dad, I just wanted to write and acknowledge how appreciative I am for passing on to me your passion for sport! It truly is a wonderful thing that also contributes to me feeling truly alive: vwhat a privilege!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Hill Race Report

23 km race: Trail des Eaux Vives, 8 May 2013

An excerpt from a message I wrote to my friend Andy:

I am now one day after a race I may have mentioned I was doing, the Trail des Eaux vives. The experience has caused me to reflect quite a bit on our undertaking because I now see that the stats we have available for templiers are quite hard to visualise for us, perhaps even more so for yourself, although maybe not!
I really don't want to blow my own trumpet, but I suppose its fairly true to say I was feeling pretty good about my marathon performance in March. The three hours is there for the taking! I finished with the first female! I qualified for London! What a hero...
23 km with 1500m vertical gain, it'll be hard but I can hack it. I have run an ultra for goodness sake.
I quit - for the first time ever - at around 11km, which took me around 1:40 to complete. During the previous kilometer I'd seen several overtaking me and I could scarcely breathe as i tried to keep the pace - walking - up to the crest if the hill. If I hadn't quit and hadn't lost any more placings, I would have finished almost exactly in the time it takes me to cover 42km on the flat. The winner finished in 2hrs almost flat, a local guy. That's two thirds of the time I wasn't even capable of maintaining. Gabresellasse can't do that on me in a marathon!
Finally today, my legs keep giving way under me, there seem to be multiple angles where all support just goes.
Conclusion, this is an ENTIRELY different ball game. Its all about the up and down, Andy, and I am wondering do you really think your legs will be able to get the exposure they need for this living in London!? Mine currently aren't even close. In fact I don't remember them ever being quite so trashed if I am honest. Hence my wondering what the goal might be. Maybe, like with the bob graham round thing, there are some intermediary levels we need to do first. What I am asking is: are there any tough races like this that you should be trying first before committing to the templiers race? Also, might there be something else we could try the same weekend, in Uk, France or heck somewhere?
Sorry if that was a but much, I just had such a reality check there I thought probably best to share with u!
Running blessings!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

1hr and 6 days to go.

> Around 12km in 1h05
> After 10 hours of travel on cars, planes and buses in my trail-running Salomon shoes, my soles felt positively bruised yesterday morning. After some initial panic I soon realised that was what it was and slipped off for an hour without my Garmin watch (more on this below). A good opportunity to test some of my gear for Saturday night. Not entirely convinced by the Helly Henson thermal layer, which seems a little small/ constraining.
> I feel quite inspired by a new podcast I had subscribed to: naked runners. Their ethos is to run as simply as possible with no gadgetry : ipods, phones, GPS watches, heart-rate monitors... Why try to insulate ourselves from the sensations and environment we are out in to enjoy? They would also add that it is actually harder to listen to the signals that our bodies are sending us. This ties in well with Marathon Talk's advice back in October to ensure that we are capable of running our long runs without distraction and alone.

Julian Goater advice is not as universal as I previously thought

I think training has been going fairly well, although I am often only at 3 runs a week, the long run has been preserved! One thing I have been seriously questioning is Goater's higher cadence "gears" approach. As discussed in his book in his running technique sections and also elsewhere in this blog, he promotes maintaining a high cadence, no matter the level of the athlete, and with major emphasis on stride length as the significant variable for hills, fatigue etc.

Firstly, a case is to be made that my experience does support. In December 2012 I survived my first 70km snow trail race and it was tough. However, at 60km I was feeling pretty good and running well. I feel like I owe this to adopting some of Goater's approach of small efficient strides that saw me padding up hills that others had slowed to a walk up. So for low intensity this seemed energy efficient to me.

But I have found that training for the marathon distance this spring in 2012 has caused me to reflect with caution on universal rules on technique. I have noticed, for example,  that I have been able to reduce breathing rate (and I suspect heart rate too, but I need to check this) by extending my stride and reducing my cadence while maintaining my marathon pace (4:15). Of COURSE this is not me saying that therefore I need to be running at slower cadence etc. as I have already said. In fact the maintaining of cadence was very helpful for the hills in Marseille marathon, and contributed to me netting another PB (and, hurrah, the marathon distance is no longer my worst distance! ). What I am questioning is about this being applied when in those "cruising" scenarios, on the flat, no headwind, already at-speed.

What I find my body really appreciates is a bit of variation. So if I find heart rate can slow by increasing my stride, then great, but you won't catch me doing that all the way through a marathon. Another example is foot strike. I have been advocating for over a year now the marvels if the forefoot strike as opposed to the heel strike. It was with some humility that I started to realise during some mid-marathon experimentation last October that some heel strike in that cramp-prone window around the 35 km mark can actually help alleviate cramping while avoiding the need to stop and stretch.

ok this post has taken a few montha to complete so apologies if it seems a bit disjointed! Time to publish...