General day to day ramblings

Want to run faster and further, go make some friends.

You really do need friends on Sundays.

Sunday morning is the traditional long run for myself and my running brothers (and in todays case a sister, thanks for bringing some decorum to our group Jules.) It is after said run we get to do what I run for basically, eat sugar disguised as either pancakes, waffles or muffins all washed down with a good Cappacino,  People ask me what I enjoy most about running and to me , and it must be said most of the running group, it’s the post-long run (or the Thursday Yolo progressive) ‘tukka’ and conversation. Admittedly living in Perth we are spoilt rotten when it comes to the scenery we play in and the weather as a whole. In Winter it may be dark and rain (once in a blue moon) but it’s rarely cold and I’ve never not ran because of the conditions. There’s been a few times when we’ve all sat in our cars as a ‘squall’ passed over but it’s normally pretty quick and I’ve never had a run I regretted. As we move into spring in Perth we really are blessed with near perfect running conditions and today was no exception. As a few of us (myself included) are racing Rottnest next week the run was to be a 20k , time on legs, easy run. More about the banter afterwards than a hard session, all the hard work has been done and we are in taper mode.

It is to be noted there were a few runners in our group who find it difficult to run slow, Zac and Ross being the main culprits,  so we gave Damo’ (front row, far left) the task of grabbing pole position and slowing the pace down. This lasted about 1k before Damo’ failed in his task spectacularly and blew up big time. Unfortunately it was then on for young and old as the pace dropped from the planned 5min/k pace down to the low 4:30min/k very quickly. This continued to the half way point with much grumbling from the back runners including myself. At halfway though I suddenly felt a second wind and decided to put in 5k of MP (marathon pace) before slipping back to a more respectable pace as I stumbled towards City Beach and waffles. It’s been a long few weeks of quality training so my 5k of MP was never really going to happen. In the end I settled for 4k of ‘near MP’ and then a drink stop, while I waited for the group to catch up.

In the end Jeff and Ben came running past and I joined them briefly for the next hill before setting off alone again drawn to the waffles and coffee that awaited me at City Beach. In the end my overall average was 4:22min/k for 20k but more importantly I felt relaxed and enjoyed the hit out. Without doubt though the best part was the first 10k and the company. The kilometres really do pass so quickly when you run with friends as you have a week of  ‘man stuff’ to catch up on. Being mostly a male dominated group we don’t tend to speak in the week unless we run together and we have found ‘What’s App’ now so all runs are organised online. Actually running together forces conversation, a lost art these days it seems, also if you know me you know I like to talk,  so without company I struggle with distance.

Today was no different and we chatted like long lost friends , well it had been a week, about all the latest ‘stuff’, I would try and be more specific but it really can be anything and everything. The main topic is normally running related of course, about upcoming races, who just ran what and in what time is always high on the agenda, new shoes (a very topical topic at the moment with the Nike arrivals) and when will the 2 hour marathon be broken and will anybody from my group do it? Either way the time ticks along nicely and a long run can be over before you know it, well maybe not that quick but certainly a lot quicker than running solo. Back in the day I use to do my long runs alone and boy when you ain’t in the mood, and you start counting K’s early, you are in for along day at the office. I had a 34k run from my house to the end of the bike path at Burns beach and back as my ‘last long run of choice‘ before a marathon and most times it was a killer. I remember the last time I ran it I was counting kilometres very early and the run just seemed to drag on for ever as I slowed with every K. Mentally I was finished before I started and I have had so many bad runs on that route but still perceived , we’re a funny bunch runners?

Different story with the current day ‘BK posse’  , the long runs are more bearable and dare I say ‘enjoyable’, well as ‘enjoyable’ as a long run can be. The conversation and shared suffering helps, maybe it the shared suffering that really helps. Watching your fellow runner in as much pain as you makes your suffering seem a little easier, I say that in a nice way of course? That’s not to say every long run is painful but when you’re in the middle of a training block for a marathon, I’m sorry people,  you need to spend some time in the pain box, with or without your running buddies. Maybe it is  the ‘problem shared is a problem halved type ‘ scenario but with pain and suffering, I’m not sure but it just works. Nothing I enjoy more than seeing my running buddies in pain, again in a nice way?

Some competitive rivalry is also useful within the group as it spurs on good performances. In our group at the moment most of the runners had ran a sub3 marathon with the exception of Gareth, Jeff and Mark L.  Mark C. was a member of this group but with the help of a one-on-one training plan from Matt Fitzgerald ( http://www.mattfitzgerald.com in Matt we trust! ) had gone from just over 3 hours  to a 2:55 and then a 2:48 in the last few months. (fuelled on carbs!) Mark L. was desperate to enter the sub3 club and did so last weekend with a second place finish at the Bussleton Marathon and a 2:57 finish.  Give Mark L. his due he had been taking a severe ‘ribbing’ since missing out on the sub3 target at the Perth City-to-Surf ,which was well short. (Even his Mum joined in.) This time there was no mistake. So instantly the mantra of ‘not ran a sub 3‘ falls to Gareth, Jeff has a get out of jail card as he is well over 100 years old and thus , age adjusted , has actually ran sub2; probably sub1 truth be told !!

 

I read a great article recently written by Matt Fitzgerald , In Men’s Journal, as he documented the top 5 things he learnt from training with the elites for the recent Chicago marathon,  where we ran his target time of sub 2:40.  One of the top 5 tips was train with people of similar abilities and goals.   I wonder if Matt would have been so sure if he’d met my bunch of running reprobates, interesting , maybe we’ll get him over to sunny Perth one day for a Sunday long run, I just hope he can keep up with the banter as he’ll have no troubler keeping up with the pace , especially if we can get Damo’ to the front albeit briefly ?

 

Do the Little Things

Fitzgerald says that training goes beyond, well, training. “Carve out time to work on your strength and mobility limitations,” he says. “Do form drills, get a massage, use a foam rollerand so forth. Your workouts will go further if you support them with ancillary activities.”

Listen to Your Body

One aspect of pro training that really hit home with Fitzgerald was the willingness of the elites to cut a workout short or even take a day off if something was hurting. This is something most amateurs are loath to do, opting instead to stick it out and do the work on their training plans. Often, it sinks their ships. “This ‘live-to-fight-another-day’ mentality reduces the risk of injury and overtraining,” he says.

Train With People Who Have Similar Abilities and Goals

“You’ll benefit more from your training if you surround yourself with athletes who can pull you along on their good days and whom you can push on your bad days,” Fitzgerald says. If you don’t have ready training partners, seek them out via your local running club or shoe store.

Spend More Time at an Easy Pace:

Fitzgerald says that most amateurs run their easy runs too hard. “Most pros spend 80 percent of their runs at low intensity,” he explains, “but too many recreational runners fail to truly dial back.” Make easy pace your respected friend unless you’re out to do speed work, realizing it will establish a base to carry you through long term.

Scale Properly

While there’s much that amateurs can adopt from the pros, Fitzgerald points out that unless they scale it to their own level, it will be too much to handle. “Few amateur runners can or should run 100 miles per week, for example,” he says. “but they can and should run a good deal relative to their personal limits if they want to get the most out of their God-given ability.” That said, Fitzgerald reminds every-day runners that some pros take risks that shouldn’t be emulated. “They might train or compete injured — risks you shouldn’t take if your livelihood doesn’t depend on your performance.”

 

 

 

Funnily enough Matt forgot to mention Yelo muffins, maybe he ain’t as knowledgable as we first thought…?

 

 

The secret to running a marathon faster really is quite simple.

Boat Shed Sunrise by Paul Harrison. If you lay in bed you miss these views… why wouldn’t you get up early ?

After my last post about the marathon being two separate distances , encompassing a 32k warm-up before a 10k ‘sprint’ to the line,  I thought I’d share one of the sure fire ways to improve your marathon finishing time.  As readers of my ‘ramblings’ will know I have some golden rules to improving your running , summarized below.

  1. Run Further. Add distance, not speed.
  2. Run Faster. This is about adding pace after you have got your foundation after rule 1.
  3. Don’t get injured. This is the hardest rule to obey as you always want to do more of rule 1 and 2 which can result in an injury. (I even hate typing the word!)
  4. Nutrition, nutrition and nutrition… Did I mention nutrition. It’s all about the proper fuel.
  5. Weight. So important, use to believe because I ran 100k+ a week I could eat what I wanted. Not true.
  6. Baseline, document and evaluate everything. If it isn’t on www.strava.com it didn’t happen. Once you set a goal you have to be able to know how far you have come to achieving this, small steps but constant feedback. So buy a Garmin and start recording , everything !!!
  7. Sleep. So underestimated but the bodies way of refuelling and preparing for the next day of running. Common sense but so often ignored.
  8. Consistency. No point running 100k one week and then nothing. Marathon fitness is built up over time and this works hand in hand with rule number 1.
  9. It’s all in the mind. After 32k a marathon is down to mental strength and the ability to persuade your body you can still perform at your desired pace without falling to fatigue, which is the minds way of protecting itself. Never underestimate the power of the mind in long distance racing

Without doubt the most important rule, in my opinion, is number 1, ‘Run Further. Add Distance, Not Speed’ This is the foundation on which you build success. Whatever distance you are currently running, do more,  with the caveat of avoiding injury of course (Golden rule number 3)  I have said many, many times ‘running is an honest sport’ , there are no short cuts, to really improve you need to run more distance and more often. For a runner there are no Zip wheels, Death Star helmets or mega-buck carbon-fibre bikes to gain an advantage , it’s just down to physical and mental strength and who wants its the most. ( This may now not be as true as the new Nike Vaporflys 4%  do seem to give the wearer an advantage over your Asics Kayano’s type marathon runners, albeit only a 4% efficiency improvement if you believe the hype; which I do.)

I believe there is no such thing as ‘junk miles’, every run you finish has helped and thus if you run more, and more often, it stands to reason you will improve quicker. Another way to turbo-charge your improvement is to run twice a day. Most runners struggle with this concept but all the professionals run minimum twice a day. Of course, I hear you say, they have time on their hands and it’s what they are paid to do but even us mortals can find time for a second run with a bit of time management. Personally I am lucky enough to be able to run every lunchtime in near perfect conditions , the curse of living in the colonies. I then normally run mornings, pre-work,  as for most of the year this is the best time to run anyway. In summer especially it can be the only time to run as my home town , Perth, is situated in a desert and for three months of the year can be unpleasant after the early morning sunrise.

Some runners find is hard to find time in the mornings with family commitments etc. so will need to step-up in the evenings and this may involve running in the dark. I personally find no enjoyment from this but understand you have to put in the hard yards to continue to improve so take one of my David Goggins ‘suck it up’ pills and off into the night I go. ( http://www.davidgoggins.com ) What I found was, in the evening, if you’re sitting at home watching rubbish on TV you should be running. This is where you can get your second run, substitute sitting down at the end of the day wasting time to doing something constructive towards your next goal race, it really is that simple, go for a run. The second run of the day is all about time on feet anyway , there are no objectives bar the actual time spent running. No pressures, no time constraints, the second run of the day can be liberating because it is running for running’s sake, nothing more , nothing less.

The second run is where the magic happens, this is the reason the professionals run minimum twice a day. It allows then to add the distance needed to see the improvements required without the risk of injury, if they are careful and the run really is a time on feet exercise. Recreational runners will also see the same benefit and probably more because they will starting from a lower level with greater opportunity for improvement.

Of course it is to be noted that this is only one of the jigsaw puzzle that is running improvement but it is one I feel every runner needs to embrace as much as possible. I understand most runners will not be able to hit the 14 times a week goal,  that is a double run a day, but any additional run to your weekly schedule will be beneficial. Small steps for big gains, maybe try one double day a week initially and then build up. Of course if this puts too much strain on you then move back to the single run but maybe try and add weekly distance before trying a double day later. Remember adding distance is all about adding to the foundation of your running and this foundation needs to be stable and strong before you start to add pace.  There are several coaches who support the distance theory of running including the late, great Arthur Lydiard ( http://lydiardfoundation.org/ ) Phil Maffetone  ( https://philmaffetone.com/ ) and Matt Fitzgerald. ( https://mattfitzgerald.org/ )

So next time your sitting at home watch that mind-numbing soap or a reality show making overweight people exercise to the brink of death maybe think ‘I could be doing something more constructive’. Go and do what you love and ‘smell the roses’ (or whatever wild flower is available in your area?) with a relaxing second run. Payback will be so sweet when you rock up for your next race and find you’ve fitted a turbo-charger and leave the pack behind as you explode towards the finish line.

 

Christine Junkermann sums up the Lydiard method below from a Runners World post in 2000. ( https://www.runnersworld.com/

)

 

Forty years ago at the Rome Olympics, athletes guided by legendary New Zealand coach Arthur Lydiard made history. Among Lydiard’s protégés were a total of 17 Olympic medalists, including Peter Snell (800 and 1,500 meters), Murray Halberg (5,000 meters) and Barry Magee (marathon). Lydiard, now 82, toured the U.S. last fall, speaking to runners on the Lydiard method of training. He was as passionate as ever about sharing the methods he developed 50 years ago.

Lydiard hasn’t changed his training advice over the decades, and why should he? His ideas work. Moreover, if you look carefully at the most popular and successful programs today, most have a Lydiard emphasis. For Lydiard, running to your potential is about having a substantial mileage base and not overdoing your anaerobic training. There are no shortcuts.

A Revolutionary Method

Lydiard discovered running for sport when he struggled to run five miles with a friend. Forced to confront his own unfitness, he self-experimented with training, including running more than 250 miles in one week. He developed a plan that he felt confident in using with other runners. Central to his method was the importance of training in phases and peaking for major events.

According to Lydiard, any successful training program must culminate in a goal race or racing period. This means planning several months. The ideal training schedule is at least 28 weeks: 12 weeks for base conditioning, eight weeks for hill training and speed development, six weeks for sharpening and 10 days for tapering/rest.

Phase 1: Base Conditioning/Aerobic Training

This three-month period is the most important in the Lydiard system. If you want to give yourself every opportunity to reach your goal, you must commit to developing your aerobic capacity, says Lydiard. Why? Because although every runner has a limited anaerobic (speed-building) capacity, that limit is largely set by one’s aerobic potential—the body’s ability to use oxygen. Thus, the aerobic capacity that you develop determines the success of your entire training program.

The foundation of Lydiard-style base conditioning is three long runs per week. These are steady runs done at more than recovery effort. To determine your pace, choose a relatively flat course and run out at a strong pace for 15 minutes, then run back. The goal is to return in the same time or slightly faster. If it takes you longer for the return trip, you paced yourself too fast. The objective of these runs is to be “pleasantly tired,” says Lydiard. Running slower will produce positive effects, but the results will take longer. Do not run to the point of lactic-acid buildup.

An ideal training week during this period includes a two-hour run and two one and one half-hour runs. On the other days do short, easy runs; one run with some light picking up of the pace; and one 5K to 10K tempo run (below lactate-threshold pace). Decrease the times and distances if you don’t have the mileage base to start at such high volume, then build gradually.

Phase 2: Hill Training/Speed Development

Lydiard-style hill training, the focus of the first four weeks of this period, involves a circuit that includes bounding uphill, running quickly downhill and sprinting. These workouts develop power, flexibility and good form, all of which produce a more economical running style. Ideally, you should find a hill with three parts: a flat 200- to 400-meter area at the base for sprints, a 200- to 300-meter rise for bounding and a recovery area or moderate downhill segment at the top. Alternatively you can work out on a treadmill with an adjustable incline.

After a warm-up, bound uphill with hips forward and knees high. Lydiard describes the stride as “springing with a bouncing action and slow forward progression.” If you can’t make it all the way up, jog, then continue bounding. At the top jog easily for about three minutes or run down a slight incline with a fast, relaxed stride. Then return to the base of the hill for the next bounding segment. Every 15 minutes (after about every third or fourth hill), intersperse several 50- to 400-meter sprints on flat ground. These sprints mark the end of one complete circuit. Lydiard recommends a total workout time of one hour (plus warm-up and cool-down). Do this hill circuit three days per week.

On three of the four remaining days, focus on developing leg speed. Lydiard suggests 10 repetitions of 120 to 150 meters over a flat or very slight downhill surface. Warm up and cool down thoroughly.) The seventh day is a one and one-half to two-hour steady-state run.

During the second four weeks, shift from hills to traditional track workouts. The objective here, says Lydiard, is to “finish knowing that you could not do much more nor any better.” This sensation of fatigue matters less than how many intervals you do at what speeds, though the workout should total about three miles of fast running. Perform these track sessions three times per week. Use the remaining four days for a long run, leg-speed work and sprint-training drills traditionally done by sprinters to develop strength, form and speed.

Phase 3: Sharpening

How many times have you died in the last half of your race? Or alternatively, finished with too much left? Sharpening allows you to test for your strengths and weaknesses as you prepare for your goal race. Three workouts do not vary. The first is the long run, done at a relaxed pace. The second is an anaerobic training session done at a greater intensity and lower volume. Lydiard suggests five laps of a 400-meter track (about seven to eight minutes of running) alternating 50 meters of sprinting and 50 meters of easy, but strong, running.

The third consistent workout is a weekly time trial at or below the distance for which you are training. A 10K runner would do a 5K to 10K trial; a 1,500 meter runner would do 1,200 to meters. Ideally, do this workout on a track and record every lap to determine your weaknesses, and work on them throughout the rest of that week and the following week. For example, if the second half of your trial is slower than the first half, run a longer tune-up race that week and a longer time trial the next week. If the pace felt difficult but you were able to maintain it pretty evenly, work on your leg speed.

Round out your training week with a sprint-training session, a pace judgment day (4 x 400 meters at goal race pace), a leg-speed workout and a tune-up race. All these workouts should be geared to your goal distance and pace.

Phase 4: Tapering and Rest

Lydiard calls the final 10 days before goal race “freshening up.” This involves lightening your training to build up your physical and mental reserves for the target competition. Train every day but keep the faster running low in volume and the longer runs light in effort.

Unquestionably, Lydiard’s program tests your commitment and desire, and it requires a solid understanding of your individual needs. If you are serious, start counting out those 28 weeks.

 

Lost your mojo, no problem, buy an Elliptigo.

 

Is the Elliptigo the answer to my Mojo issues?

After the Perth City to Surf I faced the normal marathon ‘come-down’ where you struggle coming back to earth after the high of a good marathon finish. The early part of the following week is particularly hard as you are forced to lay off the normal running routine to give your legs, and body, some time to recover from the beating you gave it on the previous weekend. More time off you feet which is always compounded by the previous few weeks pre-marathon,  which were tapering. Thus with any marathon you are always faced with a very minimal month of training, two weeks pre-marathon and two weeks post-marathon.

This is when the self-doubt starts to set in as when you do eventually start to return to the normal training schedule you are normally way off your normal cardio fitness levels. I always find I can normally return to the same weekly distance pretty quickly but pace is always more challenging.

For some reason though this time I am having trouble retuning to my weekly routine. I have been promising myself I’ll ramp up for the Rottnest Marathon end of October  ( https://www.wamc.org.au/major-events/rottnest-marathon-fun-run/  ) but find every morning I just find a reason to justify not running. There have been many excuses, it’s far too cold, too dark, I’ll run longer lunch time, dogs need feeding, possible ISIS attacks (ok that one is clutching at straws but you never know, we live in a dangerous time apparently ?)  I’m just finding it hard to return to my normal twice a day, 7 days a week training routine that use to be the norm.

In my defense I have moved house recently and I still haven’t found an ‘old faithful’ , a 10k run that I enjoy enough to run 4-5 times a week and one that can be run on auto-pilot. Every runner needs an ‘old-faithful’ to help them rack up the time-on-legs while not requiring any thought or too much effort. Without one of these routes you need to think about each and every run and ‘thinking’ can be mentally challenging, well it is for me. I have tried a few routes but just haven’t nailed one that I’m totally happy with. This makes the morning runs difficult to justify and at the moment this is all the excuse I need. (bar the ISIS threat of course?)

I put down my ‘stella’ year last year down to the extra training distance and double-up days and if I was to return to my pre-2016 training levels am I going to suffer, performance wise ? Add in the mix my age ‘challenges’ (This is being the wrong side of 50. ) and I seem to be in a corner.  What’s the answer ? Maybe a funny looking bike with no seat.?  On the weekend I dusted down the Elliptigo  ( http://www.elliptigo.com/ ) and rode 40k before a 10k easy run on grass and it felt great. I got the cardio workout I required but also didn’t feel like I had exercised for over 2 hours because I have the bike and run combination. Trust me after the workout I was goosed for the rest of the day, in a good way. Maybe my days of 14 runs a week are behind me, for the moment,  but with the Elliptigo I have the opportunity to keep up the hourly weekly exercising total.

So tomorrow morning I am going to run a pre-work 10k, return home, pat the dogs and then get on the Elliptigo and charge to work before treating myself to a Coffee and Banana and Walnut bread, toasted of course.  I will then repeat this for the next four weeks giving me the chance to aim for a top 5 finish at Rottnest and an age group win, this is important because the competition on Rotto’ is heating up and my days in the top 5 may be numbered. The Elliptigo may be the weapon I need to drag me to the Rottnest podium one more time, that or the Banana and Walnut bread ? Also on my Elliptigo I’ll be a lot to harder to hit if ISIS do  decide to target balding, bearded runners on bikes with no saddles, you never know people we live in dangerous times ?

So to sum up this post , because sometimes I lose track myself, if you lose your running mojo you need to look at other ways to maintain your cardio fitness and cycling, swimming, the gym or even funny looking bikes where you stand  up may be what you need to scratch that itch. Anything is better than nothing and eventually your mojo will return and when it does you need to be ready.

 

Choo-Choo run 2017, man against train.

The Choo-Choo run was an idea of Simon Coates a few years back. Basically we all drive to North Dandelup Station (and I use the word ‘station’ in the broadest sense of the word, it is actually a small raised platform and a car park.) and run to Serpentine train station to catch the only train back to the start. Miss the train and you are faced with either a 10k walk back via the road (and in the country running on the road is suicide due to the drivers all believing they are Michael Schumacher,  before the skiing accident !) or worse, repeating the 35k trail run in reverse. (Now there’s a thought ? )

It’s not a race as such, more of a man versus train type run with friends. Everyone leaves at different times with the idea being you’ll all arrive together at the finish, a handicap run I suppose. There was talk of a prize for the last person to leave North Dandelup and make the train but this, for this year at least, was shelved. As it was I have attached a photo of the runners who left last @ 7am, this was 30 minutes after last years leaving time so we’d given ourselves little margin  for error . Its a 35k testing trail run which should take around 3hours and the return train leaves Serpentine @ 10:20am.

 

All aboard the Choo-Choo run 2017, the last to leave @ 7am.

So off we went full of the joys of spring bounding up the first 6k which is all uphill and on road. As I mentioned earlier this is testing for two reasons, one, the hill is large , unforgiving and long (as all good hills should be) but there is also the threat of getting cleaned up by the ‘country drivers’. In the country life may be slower but the driving is anything but. There’s a reason that even Kangaroos get wiped out on  a regular basis. Faced with slowing down country drivers decided to speed up and fit ‘bull bars’ to their cars,  so rather than avoid Kangaroos(or runners!) they accelerate into them .  Bless ’em.

We managed to get to the top of the road section intact after one close call when three cars cut a corner and we happen to be on it, you certainly feel alive when that happens trust me. Once we regrouped a quick headcount indicated we were one short (literally!) . Bart’s , who had driven me down to the start, was missing so I volunteered to run down the ‘hill of death’ and find him. After a longer run that I had wanted to take on at such an early stage of the adventure I found Bart’s ‘huffing and puffing’ up the road in a world of pain. This after 6km’s into 35k challenging trail run , racing a train. Not a good start and I indicated the best thing he could do was return to the car and wait for us or at least give me his car keys (as my bag was in his car, it wasn’t about the bag though , honest ?) Bart’s insisted on carrying on and asked me to come back and check on him during the run. Due to the time constraint we had set ourselves I told him in no uncertain terms this was not going to happen and once I left him he was on his own. Surprisingly he was ok with this and, with no prior knowledge of the route and less than 3 hours to run the remaining 29k, was happy to take on this adventure , alone.   So Barts was dropped quicker than Hilary Clinton endorsements after the American Election, never to be seen again, or so we thought ?

 

Drinks stop @ 21k.. notice no sign of Barts ?

After dropping Barts like a bad habit I caught up with the back markers and eventually the main group. We continued on our merry way commenting how enjoyable trail running was and how we should do it more often. Please note this is the same conversation we have at the beginning of every trail run, unfortunately our views on trails can sometimes be a tad different by the time we finish; and that’s be nice about it !  Anyhow we made it to the 21k mark where our ‘race director’ Simon Coakes had dropped water and gu’s, it was the least he could do after DNS’s the previous evening due to umpiring his son’s footy game and pulling a hammy. (He’s getting old Si, bless him.)

 

What goes up must come down.

The last 14k after the drinks stop is the best part of the Choo-Choo run as you run off the scarp which means some wicked descents into Serpentine. Last year I was able to take advantage of the terrain and put in some seriously fast splits but this year, due to it being 2 weeks after the Perth City-to-Surf marathon, my hammy’s had tightened up so every step was painful as I hobbled (and that’s being nice) down the hill.  No worries. reached the Deli and tucked into my first Brownes Mocha for probably 6 months, man did that taste good !!

 

 

Choc milk time at the Deli, job done.

We had 20 minutes until the train arrived so just enjoyed telling tales of the day when all of a sudden who comes into sight, walking the wrong way to the Deli,  but Barts. ! Unbelievably he had somehow managed to get to the finish in time for the train, albeit running 3k less , somehow ? At the time of writing this post it has to be noted we have not seen any Strava evidence  ( http://www.strava.com) of Barts and whatever trail he did run but assuming he said he did what he did I am in awe of the man.

 

A Lazarus comeback from Barts, almost made me believe in religion

 

Funnily enough the train was graffitied at the main depot so was cleaned before it set out on its journey, resulting in a 45 minute delay. We could have started at 8am, not 7am, and still made it easily. When the train did arrive at the station there was no sign of any graffiti and maybe next year this could be a cunning plan for a lie-in, just got to persuade someone with a spray can to get the train before it leaves ? That’s wrong,  right?

Graffiti, a likely story, more like the train driver fancied a sleep in !

The photo below is all the crew who made the finish including a few runners who left before the 7am sweepers. There has already been lots of talk of leaving even later next year but we’ll see; no one has actually missed the train yet so there will be a first. One thing for sure it won’t be Barts, if he can recover from near exhaustion at 6k and then still finish less than 3 hours later after running 32k I reckon the man could fly if he wanted to.  Running gives you so much and on that Sunday it allowed me to witness a miracle, how does one go about nominating someone for a sainthood ?  Saint Barts of lost causes, it has a nice ring to it, if only he was taller…..

 

Waiting for the train…patiently.!

It’s that time of year again, me and the boys against a train!

This Sunday it’s the annual Simon Coates inspired ‘Choo-Choo‘ run where a bunch of runner leave North Dandelup train station and race to North Serpentine train station, with a ticket for the return journey. Of course miss the train (and there is only one a day) and it’s a long walk of shame back to North Dandelup. (because after 36k of trails you ain’t going to be running,  trust me!) As you can read from my report last year we left at 6:40am (give our take or a few minutes) and all ran well and finished at Serpentine in good time for the train to return to the start. It must be noted this was the last long run before the City to Surf Marathon so most of us were in peak condition. This time we’re leaving 15 minutes later and its’ two weeks after the City to Surf, so we are in ‘ we’ve just been run over by a freight train‘ mode; got to love the 2 weeks after a marathon eh?

To add to the mix I picked up a head cold from no3 Daughter earlier in the week so am nowhere near 100%. No one said it was going to be easy?

You can read last years report here :-

http://www.runbkrun.com/2016/11/15/the-choo-choo-run-an-exercise-in-living-on-the-edge/ 

I hope I get to see this Sunday morning..

 

The run itself is a 36k trail run,  though by road it’s only 10k. It’s always funny to see the look on the other passengers faces when we get on the train for the 10minute training journey back to the start after taking nearly 3 hours to get from A to B.  I’m sure they’re happy to see the back of us as after 3 hours of running I can imagine we’re not the sweetest smelling bunch, an acquired taste probably? Must admit to being a tad disappointed the first time we did this ‘race’ as I had settled down for a nice long rest on the return train journey only to be kicked off the train after a few minutes. on the bright side Mark L. is driving so we can all have a power nap on the journey back to sunny Perth.

This will be a big end to a good week, bar this head cold, and then next week we need to start to think about the next marathon, there’s always a ‘next marathon’. ! This one of course is special as it’s my favourite, the Rottnest Marathon, you really need to click on this link… http://www.rottnestisland.com . One of my favourite places on this planet with a 4 lap hilly marathon to really test you. If I make the train this weekend I’ll tell you all about it…..

 

Paradise, with a marathon to die for!

 

 

 

Sometimes a cup of coffee and a muffin is the answer.

Sometimes this really is the best thing for your running.

 

After the ‘runners high‘ of completing a marathon comes the ‘runners low’ of realising the enormity of what you have done and realising it will be some time before you get to the next marathon finish line. I have a favourite corner in the Perth City to Surf and funnily enough it is the last one before the finish straight at the bottom of a good sized down hill. I’ve ran that corner 7 times and every time I know all there is left is to ‘ham it up’ for the crowd and the ‘marathon photos’ photographers. All I need to worry about is getting that finishing shot that will one day join hundred of other finishing shots on a yet to be purchased study wall, where I will surround myself with pictures of me running marathons. (Actually typing that it sounds a little bit sad but not sad enough to stop me investing ( wasting) money of more photographs of myself covered in sweat and carboshotz  with a smile that would make a Cheshire Cat look gloomy.!) It is a wonderful corner and when I’m training I sometimes run past it and it always puts a smile on my face. Of course, being a busy intersection, if I ever tried to recreate that ‘finishing feeling’ I’d probably get run over by a truck! Once a year though that corner is mine and it makes me the happiest marathon runner on the planet,  for that moment in time. That’s where the runners high starts and it last all the way to the finish line a few hundred metres down the road. Those few hundred metres are magical and even typing this now I can’t wait to get there again at the end of August 2018 and explode to the finish, milking the crowd for everything I can.

Each marathon I have ever ran has had that magical finish and on a few occasions I’ve been brought to tears due to an over whelming out pouring of joy. Crying tears of joy is something that does happen and it just adds to the mystic of running marathons. This has not happened that often, probably a handful of times but when it does it makes everything that has gone before it seem worth while. From memory when I ran my first Comrades, and my last, I was certainly moved to tears and my fastest Perth marathon in 2013 was also an emotional finish That may be it, three finishes from 60 starts (if you include ultra-marathons). This may have something to do with the last few years mimicking Usain Bolt when I finish followed by press-ups (which are getting harder , trust me!)  No worries, all marathon finishes are special , just some are really special. Those three are enough to make me come back again and again, just one more tearful finish, like a marathon junkie looking for that one last big hit?

This bring me to the point of this post, finally. (I have mentioned I digress sometimes haven’t I?) With all things there is a Yin and Yang, a positive and a negative, an up and a down. (There are probably a few more of these but you get the idea.) After the high of the marathon finish comes the low of the recovery week. This is probably compounded by the taper pre-marathon which results in a 3-4 week period of little running. Thus when you start again, after the marathon, it is normally a very painful experience where your legs feel like wooden blocks and your heart rate is 10-20bpm higher than normal. If you have a Garmin 235 I guarantee your VO2 max score is also lower. I always give myself 3 days of completely when I will also indulge in some of the forbidden fruit us runners try to avoid when training. More visits to Yelo than normal and maybe the odd packet of dark chocolate digestives (or two). This week you don’t have to worry about weight gain or diets just enjoy your time as you have certainly earned it. Release that ‘sweet tooth tiger’ that you spend the rest of the year caged up. If you run in the week after a marathon you do so out of some sort of need to keep active. I personally don’t feel you need to as I reckon it’s the same as the week before a marathon, you can only do too much , never too little. This translates to no running can sometimes be the better option.  

So do I take the whole week off ? Hell no ! Do as I say not as I do. I normally take Monday to Wednesday off but then get back into it Thursday albeit slowly, very slowly. This week for instance I even gave myself until Thursday and made the first run a 17k easy run. The second run on Friday was a lot harder. I personally find the second run after a marathon the hardest, maybe a DOMS thing? (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness) On Saturday I planned a 20k easy run but turned at 7k and only made 14k. No problem, when you are recovering you really need to adjust any workouts to how your are feeling. If you aren’t feeling it, no problem, stop. Doing nothing really is the best option in this week. This was highlighted today when I put on my running gear for an afternoon 20k but decided against it. Got changed, had some toast, felt guilty and then put on my running gear again before again taking it off and deciding walking the dogs was the better option. Do I feel this was the wrong thing to do now as I type this post? . No, I think I may actually be learning my lesson listening to my body for a change, actually quite proud of myself for making the right decision two days in a row, Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks ? Right Yelo anybody……

Perth 2013, just before a good cry.

I’ve attached a post from the McMillan Running website as a guide ( https://www.mcmillanrunning.com/payback-time-a-two-week-scientific-plan-to-optimize-recovery-after-your-marathon/) Some very useful points that are worth taking onboard.

It’s at this time of the year that marathon recovery, not marathon training, starts to take center stage. The best recovery is one that optimizes your musculoskeletal recovery yet also maintains your conditioning. You’ve built superior fitness before the marathon and you don’t want to lose all of it and then have to start from scratch.

Research indicates that the muscle damage from running a marathon can last up to two weeks. The research also indicates that soreness (or the lack thereof) is not a good indicator of muscular healing. In other words, just because you aren’t sore anymore doesn’t mean that you are fully healed. This is the danger for marathon runners: post-marathon muscular soreness fades after a few days but submicroscopic damage within the muscle cells remains. If you return to full training too soon–running more and faster than the tissues are ready for–you risk delaying full recovery and the chance to get ready for your next goal.

The solution, it appears, is to recognize (and accept) that the muscles will take a while to heal and to be prepared to take it easy for the first couple of weeks (even longer if you’re particularly sore after your marathon). While the research isn’t very promising when it comes to things to do to relieve soreness and aid healing, a couple of concepts appear to help. First, providing gentle blood flow to the area helps bring healing nutrients into the muscles and also helps to remove waste products and damaged tissue. Walking and gentle massage can help, particularly in the first few days after a marathon. Once muscle soreness has significantly reduced (usually two to four days after the race), light jogging can commence. The recovery program above forces a runner to let muscles fully heal but also provides some light jogging to aid blood flow and “feed the need” that we all have for our daily runs. Just be mindful to run very slowly.

No runner wants to get super fit and then lose that during the recovery process. But since you must reduce your training load following your marathon, it can be tricky as to how much and how soon to insert running into your post-marathon training.

The bad news is that no matter what you do, you will lose race sharpness. But that’s OK because your next big race is probably several months away. The good news is that most research indicates that as long as there is an aerobic stimulus once every two to three days, aerobic fitness will be maintained. In this recovery plan, you run at least once every other day (except for the first two days after the marathon) to minimize any loss of base fitness.

Many runners liken recovery training to a “reverse taper” without the fast workouts. Easy running is gradually increased over the weeks post-race. By the fourth week, your normal level of training is approached.

Recovery time is also the best chance to pay back your support system for the help provided during your build-up to and participation in the marathon. Use this time to help others with goals, whether running-related or not, and spend more time with family and friends.

Also use this opportunity to celebrate your success and recharge your systems. Determine what went right in training and in the race and what you would fix. If done correctly, you can come out of this period fully healed and ready to take your marathon fitness into the next training phase.

Now it’s time to use your marathon fitness before you lose it – read Turning Marathon Fitness into 5K/10K PRs.

Optimal Marathon Recovery Program

Day: 0
Run: MARATHON
Notes: Congratulations!

Day: 1
Run: OFF
Notes: Can include gentle walking for 15 to 20 minutes. Eat well and stay hydrated to facilitate recovery. Ice baths are favored by many runners (read more about ice baths).

Day: 2
Run: OFF
Notes: Can include gentle walking for 15 to 20 minutes.

Day: 3
Run: 20 Mins Very Slow + Easy
Notes: The first run back is often very awkward so go slow and run on flat terrain.

Day: 4
Run: OFF
Notes: Don’t forget to enjoy the accomplishment of your marathon.

Day: 5
Run: 20 Mins Very Slow + Easy
Notes: Muscle soreness should be subsiding.

Day: 6
Run: OFF

Day: 7
Run: 30 Mins Very Slow + Easy
Notes: You may not feel like a runner but you are laying the groundwork for your next training cycle.

Day: 8
Run: 20 Mins Very Slow and Easy
Notes: The first back to back running day provides insight into how the recovery is going.

Day: 9
Run: OFF

Day: 10
Run: 30 Mins Easy
Notes: The muscle soreness should be gone and you are finding your stride again.

Day: 11
Run: 30 to 45 Mins Easy
Notes: Depending on how your body feels, you should notice the pace increasing and your body returning to its running rhythm.

Day: 12
Run: OFF

Day: 13
Run: 45 to 60 Mins Easy

Day: 14
Run: 30 to 45 Mins Easy
Notes: You should now start to feel like a runner again, just not a runner ready to race. Over the next two weeks, gradually increase your volume toward your normal training level.

42nd time lucky or how to pace a marathon, finally.

 

After 42 marathons I finally get it right.

 

The Perth City to Surf Marathon was my 42nd marathon and first this year after my calf tear in March. With only 7 weeks training since the injury I really was putting my sub3 streak on the line but was confident I could make it. In the last few weeks of my 7 week training block I could feel some form coming back and decided that on the day I would go out with Jon and Mark and hang on for as long as possible at 4min/k average pace. This was probably way too fast but I figured if I could get to half way in around  1 hour 25 minutes it would give me 1 hour 35 minute to get to the finish, a nice 10 minute positive split.

The day was perfect and as expected I managed to run with the boys to half way and went through in 1 hour 24 minutes and change. The race then enters Kings Park and as you can see from the graphic above there’s a few hills, two good size ones to be exact. I managed to negotiate these and move out of Kings Park unscathed. I have ran this marathon the last eight years and if you can come out of Kings Park strong the last 10k isn’t that bad. This year the organisers put on perfect conditions and even supplied a tail wind for the last 10k. This was embraced and I was caressed home maintaining the 4min/k , or thereabouts. average pace. I finished in 2 hours 49 minutes and 23 seconds according to the offical timing, just about a perfect split considering the second half contains more hills than the first. So for the first time in probably 42 marathons I may have finally ran the perfect paced race.

The splits ,above from Strava, (remember ‘life is Strava, the rest is details’, http://www.strava.com ) show my 5k splits as 21.10, 19.45, 20.13, 20.04, 20.54, 20.50, 20.00, 21.11. This has got to be my best paced marathon ever so have I finally found the answer to running marathons ? Probably not, I may have been underdone but with perfect conditions and a tail wind maybe, just maybe, I had something left in the tank. That is a big maybe because all marathon runners, when reflecting on the race, feel they could have gone harder but , trust me, at the time it was a whole different story. I think with experience comes the ability to know what is coming and prepare mentally for the ‘pain train’ heading your way at around the 32k (20 mile) mark. Experience may allow the mind to release the ‘central governor‘  enough to make the last third of a marathon a tad more bearable. (Google Tim Noakes and the Central Governor theory) I, like Noakes, believe we are capable of so much more but are restricted by the mind to protect the body. This way we don’t all run to exhaustion and blow a head gasket resulting in a seized engine, you get the picture. The mind puts on the hand brake using fatigue and slows us down, bringing down the heart rate and protecting the body from any damage. Can we release the central governor, I believe we can, just a little but enough to make the second half , and more importantly the last 10k, of a marathon bearable and dare I say enjoyable (in a masochistic type way ?) 

So do you have to run 42 marathons to get to this stage in your marathon running career, hell no ! Mark C. went through halfway with me and then finished in 2:48.42; an even better split and it was only his 4th marathon. Mark though is well read in the way of the mental toughness needed to complete marathons and has digested many Matt Fitzgerald books in his short career. He even brought a tailored Fitzgerald plan for the Perth Marathon and this helped him to a 2 hour 55 minute finish, right on the button. We discussed this race and he admitted he felt he dropped the ball in the last 10k and let himself down mentally when he could have ran faster. As I said earlier all marathon runners put themselves though this ‘what if‘ conversations but on the day I’m sure most leave nothing in the tank. Mark was determined to put his mental demons to bed in the City to Surf and with the help of another Fitzgerald book about mental toughness he achieved his goal. Mark learned quickly about the mental side of running, it look me ten times the amount of marathons and probably 7 years longer, never said I was the ‘brightest cookie in the cookie jar’ ‘(Is that even a saying? I think it may be but really , intelligent cookies , sorry people but that is dumb? I digress….)  A good read on mental toughness is “How bad do you want it” by Matt Fitzgerald, it worked for Mark and I enjoyed reading it. I have read a lot of Matt’s books and have never been disappointed.  Can reading alone make you mentally tough, sorry no, as with all things running you also need to put in the hard years. Training and mental toughness combined produce results, you need both to succeed. That’s running , there’s no short cuts just short courses. Right,  the Rottnest Marathon is calling, marathon number 43, can I produce another perfect paced marathon, probably not but that’s not the point really is it?

 

In Matt we trust…

 

 

 

Faster running without running, sounds too good to be true?

Although runners have less opportunities to increase pace without actually putting in the hard yards there are limited options to increase your race pace and bring down your finishing time. Of course we are not offered the easy options experienced and embraced by cyclists. While running long on Sunday we were once again passed by a ‘gaggle’ of cyclists freewheeling down a hill merrily chit-chatting away, cocooned in lycra, and excited about another stop for frothy light frappacino’s and banana bread. As runners we can’t free wheel, when we run downhill we actually have to run downhill, funny that ? We can’t spend thousands of dollars on Zip Wheels, silly helmets or extra-extra light carbon-fibre bikes to shave a  few minutes of our finishing time. Admittedly there is the Nike Vaporflys 4% now available which offer a 4% improvement in running economy but that is about all us runners can hope to achieve without doing the extra hard yards, or is it ? ( I have attached a review of the Vaporflys at the end of this post from http://www.roadtrailrun.com . I have mine and will be testing them tonight, very excited !!)

So how do runners gain that few extra seconds without training more or harder. I’ve added a list of things below which are guaranteed to improve your finishing time and you don’t even have to lace up your runners

Race shoes on race day. Sounds obvious right, you train in comfortable, high heel, extra padded trainers which help with the constant pounding you subject yourself to while you train. On race day though you can add a turbo-charger by bringing out the race shoes, lighter, less forgiving but a race-only treat. These race shoes make you feel like you’ve been running in concrete , or Kayano’s as I like to call that feeling, and as well as a placebo effect, they also make the whole running process easier due to good old fashioned physics, less weight attached to the end of your legs. I’m lucky that I can run marathons in racing flats and have used Asics Piranha’s, Adidias Takumi Sen3, Nike LunaRacers  and Saucony Kinvara’s on a number of occasions. All these are light , around 210g , compared to a ‘training’ shoe like the Asics Kayano which is about 326g. So my first tip to shave those seconds (or even minutes) off your time is to find your favourite shoe manufacturer racing version of your everyday runner

A free turbo-charger .

Taper properly. One of the hardest thing for a runner is to stop running just before a goal race. It is counter-intuitive to stop doing what you love to do and, paranoid as all runners are, you grapple with the ‘I’ll lose my fitness’ argument that always rages as you taper towards the big day.  Well I’m here to tell you that the week before the marathon (we’re doing a marathon right?) there is nothing you can do to add to your fitness levels, all you can do it too much.  Thus you could do nothing all week and this would actually help towards your finish time. Of course no runner can do nothing, especially with a marathon on the horizon. I generally run a 10k Tuesday and Thursday of marathon week and that’s it. Twenty kilometres in a week (bar the 42k on Sunday of course) when I’m use to running 6-8 times that. How do I do it ? Easy, I tell myself that I am improving my finish time for every day I don’t run and also with the experience of running 41 marathons I know this is a tried and tested method that works for me. When I first started running I use to taper for three weeks before the big day and I look back now and I’m amazed I even finished. A good week of tapering may be extended to two at a push (assuming you put in good numbers in training) but three weeks is too many for me. I’m more of a ‘aggressive two week taper’ rather than a gradual three week taper. As with all things running though you need to find the ideal fit for you and that comes with experience but the last week doing little or nothing is a guaranteed finish time improver

Carboload well, some pass me a muffin ! Running is an unforgiving mistress, she (she is a she isn’t she ?) insists you train hard, eat right, get up early, miss family time and spend quality time in the pain box on a regular basis. For three days before a marathon though she relents and turns into your best friend EVER. This is because she allows you to carboload to improve your finishing time. Hallelujah , for three days you get to eat just about as much carbohydrates as you can physically stomach. I use the 10g of carbs per kilogram of body weight , per day for three days before the marathon. For me this equates to 700g of carbs a day. Trying to eat 700g of quality carbs a day is actually very hard and you need to be careful you don’t add too much sugar into the mix or you and the bathroom scales are going to fall out big time. For me I aim for a toast for breakfast,  pasta meal every evening, orange juice and electrolytes, honey on toast (probably twice a day), yoghurt, bananas  and more pasta for lunch. This gets me to around the 700g I need. Very few runners actually make the right mix of carbohydrates to protein and the other major food groups, they either fall short on the carbohydrate count or add too much sugar (assuming a ‘if  looks good I can eat it mentality’) This can lead to weight gain (rather than the ‘good’ weight gain due to more water in the last few days. This also needs to be addressed, you should be ‘peeing’ clear the three days before a marathon as you hydrate before the big day.)

Got to love marathon training for the last 3 days, pass me a muffin !

 

 

Of course there is the one day carboload for runners who feel that three days of gorging on carbs makes them feel bloated, heavy and generally lethargic.  Dr. Paul Fournier from The Conversation published this post on the subject below:-

During the London Olympics, and beyond, many endurance athletes will attempt to increase their muscle glycogen stores by carbohydrate loading. This is because, despite its importance, glycogen is a fuel present only in small amounts in skeletal muscles and can be rapidly depleted during prolonged intense aerobic exercise, thus causing fatigue.

Unfortunately, many athletes aiming to increase their glycogen stores find this aspect of their preparation challenging. It is thus important to remind them that nearly a decade ago my colleagues and I developed some carbohydrate loading regimens to make this task easier.

Six-day regimen

Close to the end of the 1960s, a team of scientists from Northern Europe introduced a carbohydrate loading regimen that resulted in a near two-fold increase in muscle glycogen stores.

treehouse1977

This regimen involved a glycogen-depleting bout of exercise followed by three days of a carbohydrate-poor diet. Another bout of exercise was then performed to deplete once more the stores of muscle glycogen.

For the next three days the athletes were asked to eat a carbohydrate-rich diet and to avoid any strenuous physical activity.

As one would expect, despite its benefits, this regimen was difficult to tolerate and highly impractical, particularly for athletes wishing to train during the carbohydrate-deprivation phase of this regimen.

Three-day regimen

It is in part for this reason that nearly 30 years ago, Sherman and colleagues introduced an improved carbohydrate-loading regimen that resulted in comparable increases in muscle glycogen levels, but without the disadvantages associated with the classical regimen.

These investigators found that the accumulation of high levels of muscle glycogen is possible without any glycogen-depletion phase.

Emily Barney

All that is required is for athletes to taper their training over several days and rest on the day before competition while ingesting a carbohydrate-rich diet for three days prior to competing.

Unfortunately, even this three-day carbohydrate loading regimen was difficult to adhere to given the large amounts of carbohydrate that needed to be ingested over several consecutive days.

For this reason, nearly a decade ago my colleagues and I at UWA undertook to develop an improved carbohydrate-loading regimen that allows the attainment of maximal muscle glycogen levels within a shorter time period.

One-day regimen

As a result, we introduced two novel one-day long carbohydrate loading regimens (published here and here).

Since the rates of muscle glycogen synthesis are generally higher during recovery from a short bout of high intensity exercise than during recovery from prolonged exercise of moderate intensity, we examined whether combining a short bout of high intensity exercise with a one day high-carbohydrate intake could provide a faster way to carbohydrate load.

To this end, we asked a group of participants to cycle for 150 seconds at 130% of their maximal aerobic capacity followed by a 30-second all-out sprint. For the next 24 hours, we fed them the equivalent of 10 grams of carbohydrate-rich food per kilo of body mass.

To our surprise, after only 24 hours their muscle glycogen stores increased to levels comparable to or higher than those reported in previous studies on carbohydrate loading.

foodiesathome.com

One limitation with this regimen is that many endurance athletes may not wish to perform three minutes of intense exercise on the day before competing. Ideally, it would be better if they could accumulate as much glycogen within one day but without a glycogen-depleting exercise bout.

Sherman and colleagues had shown it was possible without a glycogen-depleting period of exercise to store maximal amounts of muscle glycogen if a carbohydrate-rich diet was adopted for three days while tapering exercise-training.

We examined whether this approach could work in endurance-trained athletes fed the equivalent of 10 g of carbohydrate-rich food per kilo of body mass while remaining physically inactive for a whole day.

We found that muscle glycogen stores reach maximal levels within only one day of starting this regimen, with no added benefits by extending the high-carbohydrate intake period for up to three days.

In other words, all that is required of our endurance athletes who trained regularly and want to carbohydrate load before competing is simply to interrupt their training for one day and eat the equivalent of 10 grams of carbohydrate-rich food (e.g. pasta, bread, rice, potatoes) per kilo of body mass during that day.

Simply, the best

To the best of our knowledge, no better carbohydrate loading regimen has been published since then, but many athletes still rely on earlier regimens.

Our carbohydrate loading protocol sounds simple, and it is simple – but it works.

 

A good review of the Nike Vaporflys 4%, basically save up your pennies and buy a pair when they become available, nuff said !

 

Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% Detailed Breakdown and First Run and Race Impressions Review: Sensational, A Game Changer

The Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% ($250) is the non customized version of the shoe worn by Eliud Kipchoge at the recent Breaking 2 attempt where he ran the fastest (unofficial) marathon time of 2:00.25. It was worn by both the men’s and women’s winners of the 2017 Boston Marathon.

The Vaporfly 4% is the product of extensive bio mechanics and materials research as part of the goal of  Nike’s goal of breaking 2 hours in the marathon, the 4% representing Nike estimate of the potential improvement  in running economy, with individual runners varying up or down from the shoes. Added to running economy are the ideal training, course conditions and nutrition required to break the magic barrier.
Stats
Official Nike weight: 6.5 oz/184 g size 10, equivalent to approx. 6.2 oz size 9
My production pair in US size 8.5 weighed 6.56 oz /186 g, so a size 9 would weigh approx. 6.8 oz.
-approx.1.6 oz/145 g less weight than Zoom Fly)
Stack height: 31mm heel/21 mm forefoot, 10mm drop.
-2mm less stack heel and forefoot than Zoom Fly)

RoadTrailRun first tried on a single VaporFly 4% at the Boston Marathon here, tested and reviewed the heavier, “similar” Zoom Fly ($150) here and now have had a chance to take a first run in a pair of our own.
Unlike the Zoom Fly, with nearly identical stack heights and midsole geometry, the lighter weight (by approx. 1.6 oz), Vaporfly with its soft and bouncy ZoomX Pebax midsole foam and full carbon plate provided me in my first test run a similar but far more cushioned, responsive, shock free and fluid ride than the Zoom Fly.
The Vaporfly 4% is far more forgiving on the legs than the Zoom Fly and for sure the Zoom Streak 6, easier on the legs is part of the Breaking 2 goal of getting runners to the marathon’s later stages with something left.
Time will tell as to durability of all these new materials but I would not hesitate to not only race but do all faster workouts in them.

First Run
I struggled at faster than my marathon paces in the Zoom Fly but not at all in VaporFly. While of course I was excited to try them, my 4 mile run at 6800 foot altitude on a fairly hilly course with lots of sun and temperatures above 85 F was a solid 15-20 seconds per mile faster than I would have expected for the effort, coming in at 8:17 pace.  It was my second run of the day, the first being a slower 4 mile run. The only place I struggled was on a very steep 600 meter hill, the stiffness of the carbon fiber plate, the Vaporfly being a completely flex free shoe in the conventional sense, requiring knee lift and drive something I do not have.  I walked away from the workout with fresh legs but a touch of soreness in the achilles.

First Impressions and Fit

  • Impossibly light and yet highly cushioned.
  • Step in is soft and slipper like, a bit squishy up front.
  • The “falling forward” I felt when I first tried them on at Boston is noticeable but not extreme when walking and becomes part of the flow when running.
  • The sole is literally tacky and sticks ever so slightly to pavement.
  • Trying them on with light socks at true to size I was initially concerned that the very minimal heel counter and collar would not stabilize the heel.  On my first run no issues or concern with heel hold so far and my test run had steep uphills, downhills and flats but it was short run so more testing is required
  • The fit everywhere was impeccable, roomy secure, and pressure free.
  • This is not a race flat type such as with the Zoom Streak 6 or even I would say the Pegasus but a marathon fit, clearly designed for some foot expansion. The toe box has high vertical volume.
  • The mid foot is eerily secure without any pressure as the VaporFly does away with Flywire and uses an internal underlay tied into the laces. I felt a touch of pressure under the arch trying them on but not on the run.

Upper

Fit was true to size with light socks. 
The upper is a single layer Nike’s Flymesh with no lining and with lots of ventilation across the top. There is a touch of stiffener baked into the toe area to create a soft toe bumper and vertical volume.There is only one visible overlay, a strap running from the last lace hole to the rear and only on the medial side. It is bonded on the outside and stitched on the inside so this strap means business and is effective.

The mid foot hold does away with any Flywire, as the Zoom Fly has, adopting a similar approach to the fine Zoom Terra Kiger 4 trail shoe (RTR review).

An inner ventilated suede like “strap” is attached at the top of the midsole bucket seat side walls on both sides, the foot does slightly sit down into the midsole on both sides of the mid foot. It free floats up to the lace loops, wraps to the outer upper where it is attached becoming the lace loops.

As in the Kiger (which also adds a second inner stretch bootie sleeve) the wrap is consistent and pressure free.The sock liner is flat and securely glued down..
The heel counter construction or lack of it had me initially concerned as for sure I am a heel striker.

The far rear at the red “timing themed strap” is moderately firm down low then gets softer up to the heel tab. A thin wishbone of decently firm padding wraps the heel collar just below the top of the knit upper.

Part of what I initially felt, and which concerned me, was the fairly loose last rim of mesh. On the run the  hold action is down lower at the padded collar. While I might prefer a bit more heel counter especially given the pointy rear foot landing all has been just fine so far and in fact more securely held than the Zoom Fly, although I was a half size up in those which was not really necessary and maybe contributed to some of the instability I felt.

The bottom of the tongue is an extension of the forefoot mesh material with the top an asymmetrical plasticky but soft enough material covering most of the lace up and then lower down running down each side in strips on either side of the mesh to provide some structure to keep the tongue from bunching and folding.

Lace up was perfect. I found that over tightening the laces creates some top pressure as the tendency given the unstructured upper is to cinch down which I found was un necessary as foot hold is more than adequate without over tightening.

Midsole
The midsole is Nike new ZoomX Pebax foam with the embedded 100% carbon plate. The plate is located as illustrated by the pen line drawn on the midsole in the picture below.

Once the plate reaches the outsole it runs directly above the outsole, at ground level. The location of the plate appears to be the same as in the Zoom Fly with the Zoom Fly’s is a polymer carbon composite and not full carbon.
It is clear the combination of 2mm less stack, ZoomX foam, removal of the full heel counter and carbon plate is where most of the weight reduction comes from compared to the Zoom Fly with its more conventional EVA and carbon polymer composite plate.

Essentially Nike has put a spike plate in the Vapor Fly. It is close to the heel at landing with 20 mm plus of foam below to cushion impact and provide 10mm of drop, accommodating for the fact that marathoners don’t run on as much on the forefoot as track runners do but also cleverly given the plate near the foot even heel strikers won’t linger long. As the foot transitions it sinks into the front foam which is effectively thicker over the plate than at the heel.

So from contact at the rear where the plate is close to the foot it is clear the design wants us

  • to not feel shock at the heel but also to move along, all that cushion below the plate at the heel,
  • then get/fall forward as the foot compresses the front foam on the way to toe off.

The front cushion is sublime  and when the foot pushes down and forces meet the plate at ground level the toe off is immediate but smooth and fluid quite unlike the firm harsh response of most road flats. So while response is not as instant as a firm midsole race shoe, even Zoom Air ones such as the Streak, or the Zoom Fly which relies on EVA, there is much less shock transmitted to the legs. The shoe is forgiving where it needs to be for long races and then just at the right moment.  Pop!

Usually saving such weight or putting a shoe way down below 7 oz means that in comparison the ride will be firmer and more responsive. Well here the Zoom X carbon combination is actually far easier on the legs than the Zoom Fly. The cushion is silky smooth and softer under load, softer, more forgiving but at the same time with far more bounce back when combined with the carbon plate which surely plays a role.  The softer yet more dynamic cushion and response upfront is particularly noticeable when compared to the Zoom Fly . There is a distinct sensation of  sinking into the foam on transition and “falling” forward to toe off.  While the stiffness takes some adjusting to, as the Vapor Fly is completely and totally stiff the stiffness is far less noticeable here than in the Zoom Fly. With my poor knee lift and drive I didn’t struggle at all to transition and drive up and away expect on a very steep uphill where things went south.

Some have commented on the wrinkling of the outer midsole side walls as being a sign of compression of the midsole.  After 4 miles I see some wrinkles but think the midsole has an outer “skin” which will for sure wrinkle and something I have seen in other shoes. I have no idea yet how long this super light and lively new midsole will last. This is after all a race shoe.  I will carefully tabulate miles for our full review.
Outsole

The outsole is full contact up front and patches at the rear with very thin sipes cut in to the material.

It is literally tacky and slightly sticky on the pavement. I could feel the slight stick both walking and running.  The heel rubber feels slightly firmer than the forefoot rubber which makes sense as that carbon plate is right under the forefoot rubber.  It is not particularly thick.  I do wish, as with the Zoom Fly that the rear of the heel geometry on the ground was more conventional less pointed and more rounded.  While the elites likely land further forward most of the rest of us could use more ground contact back there.
It is important to note that while the Vaporfly 4% is a very comfortable up tempo trainer this is a racing shoe which was not designed for trainer class mileage. Depending on your landing, foot scuffing during gait, etc… the outsole has significant areas of exposed midsole which can scuff and wear. I have seen some wear at one heel in particular. Use a layer of Shoe Goo as I have to protect these areas.

Initial on the Run Data from a Road Trail Run Reader
Road Trail Run reader Joshua Sun also received an early pair from Running Warehouse where I also purchased my Vaporfly. Joshua is a former avid cyclist who has run a marathon and several halves. He focuses his running on short fast efforts on the same loop and has also run the Zoom Fly. He was kind enough to share his first run impressions and comparative data using a Garmin Forerunner 935 and Running Dynamics Pod (see our article here) with us:

“There’s a 3.25 mile route that I run frequently near my home.  I use this route to benchmark my performance and to test out running shoes.  Basically I run this route as fast as I can.  There’s not much room for placebo effect because I’m pushing myself about as hard as I can without blowing up.  Over the years, I’ve developed a good sense of how hard I can push without blowing up and I run this route with a very consistent effort.  I track these runs using my Garmin 935 with RD pod.  Based on how much better the numbers were with the Vaporfly, I’m pretty certain that I would run faster in the Vaporfly than any other shoe out there.  I’m less confident in exactly how much better it is without a lot more data.

Here is some data about my runs in the Zoom Fly and Vaporfly – about 1 week apart so fitness level shouldn’t be much of a factor.

Distance 3.25m
Pace: Vaporfly 7:18; Zoom Fly 7:33
HR Avg: Vaporfly 156; Zoom Fly 155 (However, both of these are about 4% lower than my average heart rate when I try to run this route fast – so it matches up well with Nike’s claims.  I think the range is about 2-6% in Nike’s testing.)
Cadence: Vaporfly 157 Zoom Fly 160
Stride Length: Vaporfly 1.39m; Zoom Fly 1.31m
Vertical Oscillation: Vaporfly 10cm; Zoom Fly 10.9cm
Ground Contact Time: Vaporfly 264ms; Zoom Fly 248ms

What this shows is that I’m running at a slightly slower cadence but that my stride has gotten longer and lower (more horizontal and less vertical, which is how better runners usually run).  You can see from the ground contact time that the shoe really takes longer to compress but then propels me forward longer and lower than with the Zoom Fly.  (And I’ve run faster in the Zoom Fly than any other shoe.  I ran about a 7:37 pace in the Zoom Streak, which is next fastest.) ”

Ride and Conclusions
What more can I say. Only one run in, the ride and performance is incredible. Vapor Fly is light, cushioned, dynamic and despite the stiffness of the shoe far more fluid than the Zoom Fly for me.  I ran 15-20 seconds faster per mile than I would have expected to for the course and effort in my first run. Can I sustain those kinds of improved paces over longer distances given the unusual stiff geometry? Only more runs will tell.  I will be running a downhill 10K race Monday and will update this post.  I am particularly curious as to how they will perform at faster than half marathon pace for me. I had difficulty running faster paces in the Zoom Fly as I had difficulty transitioning to toe off rapidly enough with my poor knee lift and drive.  Here I am almost sure I will not struggle nearly as much but racing will tell.
More testing to come but I will certainly reach for them for 10K and  half marathon and if the heel stability is adequate and the stiffness not issues when tired for a full marathon. Faster runners may still reach for “racing flats” for up to a half but many will consider the Vapor Fly for the marathon.

Considerations
Are the VaporFly 4% worth $250? Well sports “toys” can cost big money, just think bikes and ski equipment. Lighter weight and performance advantages claimed, real or otherwise, always come at a premium cost and some downsides as well.
Are they only for world record setting elites? Absolutely not!  These are very forgiving if unusual shoes. I think they will provide at least some of the advantages of Breaking 2 to serious recreational runners, not the least of which is the demonstrated advantages of lighter weight for racing shoes yet here with plenty of cushion. Here incredibly light weight is combined with outstanding bouncy cushion, plenty of it and response.  My initial run was considerably faster than I would have expected.
Are they only for racing? I say for most yes.
While they are fabulous for up tempo training the exposed midsole under foot may see accelerated wear depending on your foot strike and scuffing patterns. I see some at 25 miles I am saving mine for races, their intended use, and will protect these high wear areas with Shoe Goo. To date apart from some creasing of the midsole walls the cushion and stability is intact.
Some caution advised
Some may struggle with the stiffness so caution getting used to them is advised as I think you will work your achilles and calves more than usual if you have poor knee drive and the narrow landing in the back may not be for everyone.

Update: My 10K went very well. 1st in my 60-64 age group at 7:04 pace on my watch which is certainly faster than my marathon pace and with no issues. The course was at altitude between 5100 and 4500 feet so downhill with about 1.5 miles of flats and the Vaporfly performed magnificently on flats, moderate downhills, and uphills. The first half mile was a very steep downhill where they did feel somewhat unstable at the heel. The combination of the outstanding cushion, fluid transitions, snappy response was outstanding and truly unique. My legs were none the worse for wear the next day.
Update: Ran another 10K race in the Vapor Fly, this time a flat course at sea level. I have run this race 3 times since 2013 and this was race was my fastest time by 7 seconds. Faster isn’t easy at my age… 60.   The entire difference came in the last 1.2 miles. My legs were just fresher in the finishing stretch. I had no soreness the next day and the day after “ran” a very mountainous (over 4000 feet of vertical)  half on slick trails none the worse for the 10K race. While there may be faster shoes, even for me, for a 10K as race distances increase the advantages of the VaporFly in terms of performance also seem to increase.

 

Fame at last, but I don’t think anybody noticed.

Sunday times photo, my best ‘Blue Steel’ look.

I have a good relationship with the local newspaper and specifically the sports wrote Glen ‘Quarters’ Quatermain, who luckily for me is also a marathon runner. Glen, like myself, has competed all eight previous City to Surf marathons so we have a common bond as we try and keep ourselves in this ever diminishing group. I have attached the article at the end of this post as well as a hyperlink.

I may have been a tad uncomplimentary to my swimming and cycling skills in the interview to drive home the point I was a more reasonable runner. I was certainly no Michael Phelps but would never finish dead last, maybe last 25% . Cycling I could probably manage a mid-table finish but running was always my forte.

I have made the Sunday Times on two previous occasions and unfortunately both times my life has remained unchanged. No book deals  or Hollywood producers fighting over film rights, just the odd comment from work colleagues as we huddle around the coffee machine.  I have mentioned to a few people about the impending article but it seems these days no one actually buys the paper. As Ross explained it to Zac, a young runner ‘in our circle of trust’ ‘a newspaper is like a static ipad displaying yesterdays news’. A tad harsh but for the latest generation of ‘I-users’ but probably about summed it up.

Either way I feel this article will not be my golden ticket out of the daily grind but stay tuned, funnier things have happened,  and Hollywood may need a balding, skinny, bearded runner for the latest blockbuster.?

 

City to Surf Perth: Big Kev’s on a roll

FOR a decorated marathon runner, Kevin Matthews makes a pretty average triathlete.

When the engineer emigrated to Australia from the UK in 2001 he decided to “embrace the Aussie lifestyle” and complete three half-ironmans.

“What is more Aussie than completing triathlons in Speedos, it ticked all the boxes in my view,” he said.

“I realised I swam little better than a brick, rode a bike just as bad but could hold my own running, albeit in budgie smugglers. So I turned my attention to marathons and initially ultra-marathons.”

Ironman’s loss has been the Chevron City to Surf for Activ’s gain with 50-year-old Matthews is one of only 20-something runners to have completed every one of the eight marathons held so far on the last Sunday in August.

He’s pretty good at it too. “Big Kev” is on a hot streak, running his past 25 marathons in under three hours. He also completed the cherished 89km Comrades ultra-marathon in South Africa three times from 2008-2010.

He will put his streak on the line on Sunday, August 27 in the Chevron City to Surf for Activ marathon.

“I pulled up lame a few days before the Bunbury Marathon in April this year,” he said. “I initially thought it was a calf knot and had it treated accordingly but it just got worse so I had an ultrasound scan and it turned out to be a 5cm calf tear.

“I set myself a goal of competing the Perth Marathon as I still had a good 10 weeks.

“But I broke down again a few weeks out and another scan revealed another new, smaller, calf tear.

“There is no fool like an old runner. I had probably pushed it too hard, too early but was desperate to run Perth as it would have been my 10th Perth Marathon in a row, and my 13th Perth in total.”

Matthews has since put together a five-week training block, averaging about 120km a week.

“Runners love numbers, be it fastest times, distance, pace or streaks,” he said. “I’m privileged to be part of an ever decreasing band of runners who have run them all.

“Missing Bunbury and Perth hurt but missing the City to Surf would have been devastating. To get the opportunity to be in the inaugural marathon of a big city these days is virtually unheard of, so to have that opportunity in your home town is a double bonus.

“I think the group is down to 30 now from the inaugural 1000 who started the first City to Surf Marathon in 2009.”

The Chevron City to Surf for Acitv will be marathon number 42 for Matthews.

His personal best of 2 hours 41 minutes and 14 seconds was set on the course in 2013 and he went within 30 seconds of beating that last year when he ran 2:41:41 for a fifth-place finish.

“This will be my first marathon since I turned 50 earlier in the year but I have no plans of slowing down or stopping in the near future,” he said.

Matthews will post his account of the marathon on his running blog before, after and probably during the race. Go to www.runbkrun.com .

http://www.perthnow.com.au/sport/city-to-surf-perth-big-kevs-on-a-roll/news-story/6c74ebdedb9913cc7b735e39e2152549

 

Gotta’ love Winter mornings, or do you ?

The sun always comes out eventually.

 

Winter in Perth isn’t really that bad, truth be told. It is dark until 7am , give or take a few minutes depending on how deep into Winter you are, but temperature wise it very rarely gets into the single figures and if there is rain it is normally sporadic and avoidable. Today was a great example, it had been forecast as rain all day and torrential so I set the alarm for a 5am start determined to get one 10k in before the onslaught which was promised later in the morning. Now I’m a morning person when morning means sunshine and cooler temperatures, like in Summer. Winter is a different story as I have never really enjoyed running in the dark. I can stand the conditions because after 8 years in Aberdeen Perth has got nothing but darkness is not my friend. When I run it is to soak in the surroundings (when I actually look up , which truth be told is rare. Example this morning on Facebook there were several photos of a beautiful sunrise which I missed completely. ?) in the dark it is hard to soak up anything when you are watching your every step. (assuming there is little or no street lightning,  which is normally the case in Perth due to the size of the metropolitan area, too large apparently to kit out with decent street lights?)

Summer mornings though are the complete opposite. Summer in Perth can be brutal with temperatures hot enough to cook eggs on concrete, and that’s a cooler day normally ! Mornings is the only rest bite from these temperatures that would probably make hell seem cold. Anything past 8am and you’re struggling to survive the temperatures,  so most of the important runs need to be early morning.  Early evenings can sometimes be acceptable but lunch time runs are for the suicidal runner and mad dogs of course. Morning runs in Summer are a thing of beauty and  set you up for the day ahead. You bounce out of bed like tigger on steroids and explode into the outside surroundings. Winter, not so much, you struggle out of bed and then normally spend 5 minutes talking yourself up to put on your running costume before sheepishly opening the front door hoping for a monsoon to justify retreating back to the comfort of the warm bed, which you were mad to leave in the first place. When you eventually start it normally ends well and I reckon in the 8 years I’ve been logging my runs I’ve only had a handful that I actually regretted starting. This thought alone has propelled me into the dark on a number of occasions.

So what are the benefits of running on those Winter mornings ? The most important is the regimented approach you need for training, when you say you are going to run , you run. If you set your alarm then you need to follow through and go for that run. It’s a discipline thing and runners need discipline. The run itself need not be that important as running in the dark is hard to judge pace as you always feel you’re running faster than you actually are. (Which doesn’t help the situation !) The main benefit is setting you up for the rest of the day. After a dark morning run and a warm shower you feel so much better pre-work.

Sometimes though you need to pick your battles like this morning.  With a forecast of possible storms I reset my alarm and decided I’d chance a lunch time run and the possibility of an after work recovery run if the planets aligned, by this I mean if I can complete my Dads taxi and dog walking chores before dinner and still find 50 minutes for a relaxing 10k. Confidence is low but after a good double-up day yesterday and the marathon less than three weeks away I’m actually happy with one soaking a day, two soakings a day would be greedy surely ?

With less than three weeks to the City to Surf Marathon now is the time when you can avoid to miss the odd run as you really should be tapering and concentrating on quality over quantity. Three weeks stills seems to be the norm when it comes to tapering but personally I have knocked a week off that and go down the road of a more aggressive (I.e. less running) two week taper. I found three weeks was just too long and I often felt I was losing fitness rather than rebuilding tired muscles. I’m use to running twice a day, every day and to suddenly stop running just makes me feel flat and also gives me more time to spend standing in front of the fridge, fidgeting !! Body and mind love routine and to change this can have the opposite effect to what you are looking to achieve. Well that’s my excuse anyway, as with all things running it is runner specific and I’m sure most runners benefit from a 3 week taper. It did give me the excuse I needed this morning to avoid the wind and rain and grab a few extra minutes in a warm comfortable bed performing one of a runners most important exercise, often over looked, sleeping ! (Though I was probably dreaming about running so maybe I should put down a few kilometres on Strava ? Interesting concept…..)