Monday, December 26, 2011

GPS Watch Can Be an Unreliable Running Partner

I'll put it out there, up front, I have a Garmin Forerunner 405 watch and  I wouldn't be without it.

I find this article to be very misleading. Let's be honest here, GPS technology is amazing and it is no less amazing once you know how it works, see here for a good introduction. The fact that you can have a device that sits on your wrist and can tell you where you are, anywhere on the planet to within 5 meters is nothing less than astounding.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Almost-barefoot running gains a toehold

The US air force finally decides that there may be something in this whole barefoot/ minimalist running thing after all -

The US army kinda does the exact opposite -

Monday, December 19, 2011

Reflections on running 2011

Let's start with a quote, a simple quote, but one with huge implications...
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu
Chinese philosopher (604 BC - 531 BC)
So here we are, I've finished my last official run of the year and hoping that I can keep my training up over the winter and start the spring with a bang.

I ran quite a few races this year, mostly 10k's, with a couple of 5k's in there for good measure. Like I have said previously, this time last year, I had no intention of ever having done this. Would I have liked to have thought that I would have, most certainly, but I am a classic for wanting to do stuff but not actually getting around to doing it. I have also mentioned my motivators along the way; firstly the doctor for pointing out that I was sending myself to an early grave, my friend and mentor, Stuart, for showing me what can be achieved by simply starting and lastly but most importantly, Bren, for being there, putting up with my sh!t and being so supportive along the way.

So here are a few stats; my cholesterol was 503, after three months it went down to 157, it hasn't been checked in a while though. When I started my weight was 226lbs, it has gone down to 190lbs (on a good day). On 28th May 2001, I managed to run for almost 2 minutes without needing to stop, by the 20th November 2011 I ran for over 1hr 35mins, without stopping - 176 days from one to the other. When I started my pace was ~11 minute, my fastest 5k had me coming in at 7:57, with my fastest single mile is 7:43, although average running pace for a 10k is now about 8:32. Within a couple of months of starting I could just about manage 5k (3.1 miles), without stopping. I ran my first 10k on the 11th August 2011, and my first 10k race nine days later. On the 7th December I managed my first half marathon, something I would never have contemplated previously, 194 days after I first started.

So what's to come for me. My first official half marathon in the early spring, maybe this one - The Martian Run. I'm all but committed to doing an off-road 15k in New Zealand in late February, called the Opouahi Station Challenge, it looks much hillier than I'm used to, but what the hell. I want to follow up the half with a full marathon or two in the summer, this one looks cool, the North Country Trail Run through Manistee National Forest, which looks fun and gives out the third biggest medal in the US, apparently, but what the hell there are quite a few to choose from. I'll keep on running the 5 & 10k's though as they are fun and Bren & the kids want to get into doing them as well.

Over the winter I want to use some time at an indoor track to work on my running technique. I am a heel striker, ie I land heel first when I am running, this is not a good thing, I want to migrate to a mid-foot strike. This is going to take some time and will involve running short distances, barefoot, for a few weeks. Once I migrate to a mid-foot then I can start wearing minimalist style running shoes and start working on speed again.

I'll finish with a silly quote, but maybe just as deep;
Build a man a fire he'll be warm for a day, set a man on fire and he'll be warm for the rest of his life
Terry Pratchett

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Run Like The Dickens, 10th December 2011

I decided to run this race due to karma, huge karma. I decided on the previous Monday to read 'A Christmas Carol' by Charles Dickens, and then this race rears its head, and just to confirm this, we ended up sitting watching A Muppet Christmas Carol the night before the race, great innit.

Up bright and early for what is definitely my last race of the year and it was cold, damn cold, mind numbingly cold. I had my usual banana, eat some cereal and then we hit the road. Neither Bren or myself had ever been to Holly before either, but I had heard that it was a cool little town, so I was looking forward to it.

When we got near the start, it was bedlam with cars everywhere. I had to go and find where to pick up my race packet, but it wasn't too difficult as everyone seemed to be heading to the local middle school gymnasium. I was glad that I had decided to get wrapped up for this as it really was damn cold. Packet pickup involved going and finding what my bib number was on a board and then going and getting my stuff. The free shirt was a grey tech shirt with a custom logo on it, with what seems like scratch mitts on the arms, just like you give babies, probably due to the extreme bloody cold. Now all we had to do was walk around a bit and grab some free stuff and wait for the start.

Cool tech shirt, with unusual fold down ends on the
sleeves, much like baby scratch mitts. Too tight...
After a few minutes they called the 5k to the start, with the 10k starting 5 minutes after, so we headed out. The race marshall warned everyone that it was a little slippy out on the course, for a couple of miles so today wasn't going to be the day to shoot for a new PR, which I had already decided was going to be my plan. I was still getting over my failing to beat my PR in the Plymouth race by as much as I should have. I can't stress just how mind numbingly cold, but still, that it was. I just wanted to get moving, just to get heat into my body, and shortly after the 5k, we did. I felt good and decided that I would see what conditions were like before heeding the race Marshall's advice, after all, this was my last race of the year. Admittedly, there were some dodgy moments but as long as you could find a car track to run along, you were in pretty good shape. The town is very picturesque and nice to run through with many good photo opportunities, but I was too focused for any of that nonsense. I felt really comfortable and kept a very close eye on my pace, knowing that I wanted to maintain a solid 8:36 mile pace.

Jeez, this post has taken waay too long to complete, just want to get the bloody thing done.

I came in at 53:02, almost 1:40 ahead of my PR, very cold and very chuffed.
Normal sleeve

Sleeve folded down to keeps hands warm

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My First Half Marathon - 7th December 2011

I had checked out the weather for the week and decided that Wednesday was going to be the day that I would go for it. I had also run around Walled Lake a few times before and decided that if I was doing my half then it was as good a place as any. It would take three laps of 4.7 miles each to give me my 13.1 with room to spare. Another benefit would be that, as I had to run past the car twice during my run, I would have a handy drop point for picking up of dropping stuff off, like hat, gloves, etc.

From The Bayside car park looking south -
I got down there, took a couple of pics, done a few stretches and then got on my way. I've been doing some reading about mental attitude during runs and decided that I should try and focus more on enjoying the run and less on my time. This was also the first time that I made a conscious effort to fuel up during a run, by carrying some snacks and I had already decided where I was going to refuel. I had decided to wear my compression/ running tights, a long sleeved tech shirt, hat and gloves.

I was on my way and probably for the first time looking around a lot at the scenery. Don't get me wrong, I don't normally just put my head down and go for it,  but today I planned on enjoying it. The first lap went well, I passed the car and got to the hill I had planned on walking up while grabbing my first snack, a mini Baby Ruth bar, not classic runner food, but ithe pickings were slim in the kids Halloween candy bags. Starting again after walking is tough, but it was part of the plan so I was good to go. The second lap was fairly uneventful too, apart from some tightness in my calf and niggling muscle pain, not altogether unexpected though, so I pressed on. I also made a conscious decision to walk up another hill on my route, just to give me a break, it all went as planned.

South side of the lake looking north -
At the start of the third lap I snacked at the same place, this time on chocolate M&Ms, courtesy of the Halloween bags once again, but I had to start walking earlier, I walked slower and starting again was much tougher, but start I did. There was another hill that I decided to walk up, starting a little earlier and walking slower. It was at this point I realised how close I was to my goal, so I dug in, told myself to stop bloody whining and get on with it. I passed 13.1miles without much fanfare, I looked around, raised my hands in celebration , let out a small cheer and realised that I had another bloody mile to go to the car and that last push wiped me out. Done.

Completed in 2:04:02, about as good as I hoped for. I also PR'ed the 15k with a time of 1:25:39, and felt way better than I did at the end of the previous one. 194 days after my very first run...

How the Garmin saw it -

The run in Endomondo -