Friday, April 16, 2010

Trainingus Interruptus

Very excited to be heading off on a 10 day holiday to NZ this evening. My training for the marathon in mid-May has been severely interrupted by trip preparation & planning, and it will obviously be interrupted by the trip itself too.

But I am not too fussed. 5 days hiking through the spectacular mountains near Queenstown will cure that ill :) I wonder if all the hiking will help in any way? I am only taking the vibrams, no hiking boots, which is a stark change from the heavy hiking boots I used to parade around in a few years ago. We've come a long way baby.

I went for another tan time trial during the week. Slightly disappointed to come in at almost exactly the same time of 14:38 that I did in Feb. This tells me that I'm at least able to maintain my fitness when reducing the running load, but on the other hand, I've hit a plateau, and to go to the next level I think I need to start running again every day. More interval training too, as I have learned during my certificate of fitness studies.

I do miss that feeling of getting out every day. Unfortunately, being quite slim already, I wasn't able to maintain my weight and was getting to a weight that I wasn't happy with. This time around I am going to up the calories. The challenge will be to do it in a helpful way, not just with junk food....

But that's all for when I get back. Right now I must finish packing. It's holiday time!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Not all footpaths are created equal

Stepped it up today in preparation for the marathon in mid May. Having run almost 15km barefoot during the week, which was the furthest I had been sans-shoes until then, today I decided was the day to find out once and for all if I could do the marathon barefoot.

The judges scores are in, and it's a win for the unshod. I ran 27km over 2 1/2 hours, and would have kept going if it hadn't been for a lack of water. Very happy! I definitely have tender feet, but given it's the furthest I've ever run shoes or no shoes, I'm not concerned at all. I know they would have been tender even in shoes. I have one blood blister to show for it, but given I used to get more blisters than this when wearing shoes, I reckon that's a stunning success.

Not all of the paths were smooth sailing however. Some were a little rough. I took a picture on one section of the footpath here:
This was taken on a stretch of path on the Nepean Highway 
near Dandenong Road. I may steer clear in future.

So yeah I had to take it easy in some sections, but the majority was fine, and at times I completely forgot I was relying on the soles of my feet for padding.

Some things I learned, and I'm glad for the early heads up:

  • I took a recently purchased fuel belt with 4 fuel bottles. I filled 3 up with coconut water, and 1 with plain water. The ratio needs to be reversed! I barely finished one of the coconut water bottles, but was dying to suck down some regular tap juice, and this is what ended my run a few km's short on the return journey. Otherwise this was a winner.
  • Chafed Nipples. Must find an answer. It didn't happen until well into the second hour, but by then I was wishing for something to protect the poor buggers from exploding. If anyone knows an easy solution other than vaseline (it stains shirts) I'm all ears.
  • Need something to hold the home made gels. A snap lock plastic bag aint cutting the mustardo. A squeezable / washable / refillable pouch of some sort would be ideal. Something akin to a toothpaste tube, but with a bigger opening.
  • Speaking of gels, these were like liquid gold. A few times I started to feel tired, and forgot that I had the gel. Once my memory came back, a quick hit of these had me back full of energy. The recipe can be found in Brendan Brazier's Thrive Diet book. This book is a fantastic resource for exercise fueling facts and recipes. I think a hit every half hour will do the trick.
  • My hydration strategy was one sip of water every km, alternating between coconut and regular. This was fine, but I need more water to wash down the gels. Water won't be an issue during races with drink stations, but out on training runs there are no volunteers. Selfish bastards.
I'm now feeling quite confident about the marathon. Better to iron out the kinks well in advance. I'm tired today, but a good tired. 

I sometimes forget that it's unusual to not have injuries from running. Well, I still haven't had any since going minimalist / barefoot. 9 months and counting. No strains, no tears, no rolled ankles, no plantar fascitis, no achilles soreness, no shin splints, no ITB, nadda, nyet, zip, zilch. I don't even bother stretching any more. Yet people in shoes look at me like I'm the crazy one.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Marathon Training - 6 weeks to go

A few longer runs and some trail running with Jack in the last few weeks. The trail runs have been in the vibrams, as they have long stretches with super sharp rocks that just can't be avoided. I'm not ready for that yet!

I ran home last night barefoot. 14.6km. Not a blister, no pain, it was a breeze. I thought it might be a stretch to aim for a barefoot marathon only a few months after seriously starting the barefoot running (the previous 6 months had been in the vibrams), but I am starting to think it is not only possible, but may be beneficial.

My pace was very consistent last night, starting out at a cruisy pace of 5:20-5:30 km's, and then gradually speeding up to 4:50-5:00 pace, despite being mostly uphill (albeit a subtle climb) on the way home. It felt easy, almost too easy. At times I felt like I was barely going faster than a walk, but the GPS watch doesn't lie. By the time I'd finished, I was almost disappointed that I was home.

If running barefoot helps me regulate my pace to the point where a 15km run feels like a warm-up, I'm riding that train all the way to the end of the line.

Quote of the day

"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." - Arthur Schopenhauer

Sounds exactly like barefoot running to me! Along similar lines is:

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." - Ghandi

I learned something this week...

I recently switched to using an exercise ball for my chair at work. This is something I've been contemplating for a while, and I have thought it a good change so far. With one notable exception...

Sitting on an exercise ball after eating is not a good idea. It took me about a week to figure out the connection, but sitting on one after eating was causing bad stomach cramps. It makes sense (now) - traditionally, humans used to rest by lying down after eating, and so gave their bodies a chance to process the food without any extra stress on the body. But by sitting on the ball, you have to tighten your core muscles (transverse abdominus) to maintain posture, which places a lot of pressure on the stomach if it's trying to digest.

So, I now switch back to a normal chair for an hour after eating. Problem solved. Not related to running at all, but useful info none-the-less. I couldn't find anything about this with a google search.