Monday, 30 May 2011

Haltern City Lauf

The Haltern City Lauf is a small local race, made smaller this year because of a clash with another local event for the kids, the Lippe triathlon. But for me it was a big event. For me it celebrates a year of running, a year when a lot has happened to me personally, where the rythem and structure of training has provided the stability needed to helped me work through things.

I had set some pretty lofty goals for this race, and then faced a big set-back in achieving them when i injured myself, and pretty much all of the speed training id been planning to do had to be missed. The weekend before i did manage to run a warmup 5k and slashed five mnutes off last years time. So i went into the race not sure of achieving my original goals but knowing id do OK.

On race day the weather gods half smiled on us, the temperatures were great it was cooler than it had been in a while, but it was pretty windy. Compared to the weekend before however it was much better conditions, so i knew that baring a real problem id set a new PB. The question was, did i really have a sub 20 in me.

Strangely enough i hadnt spent a great deal of time considering what pace i should try and run at. I was hoping to be able to run at about 4 min per k... and see if i couldnt hold on an get as close to 20 mins as possible.

But first things first my kids were up again, this time racing over 1.2km, my youngest and my oldest both took out a 3rd place in their respective age groups, whilst my daughter came home middle of her race, she later told me she took it easy because she was a little bit tired from doing the afore mentioned triathlon earlier in the day.
I started my warmup with 15 mins to go to the start, some dynamic stretches a bit of jogging, some pace changeups etc, then with 5 mins to go i stopped to allow the breathing to get back to normal. I lined up on the startline with the other runners the field was a little bit smaller than last year, but this time l lined up in the front row, instead of right at the back.

The gun went off and I started out pretty quick, I wasnt sure of the pace at that point but i knew i couldnt hold with the guys ahead of me so i tried to settle into something comfortable as quickly as possible. I didnt actually look at the pace until we had the first half of four laps behind us. I was surprised to see that i was running fairly comfortably at 3:45 pace. I was pretty certain that it was too fast but decided on the spot to give it a go and see if i couldnt maintain it.

The next lap and half was pretty un-eventfull, I did pull back a two runners that obviously had blown up after going out too fast, but i was able to hold my pace. The buildings in the town centere seemed to funnel the wind so that for much of the course we had a head wind, I ad no wind shodow, and by the third lap it was begining to tell and i started to fell uncomfortable, about half way through i could tell that i was starting to drop on my pace a little, the garmin showed i was slowing down.

But then i got the pickup i needed, I had caught up to the vanguard bycycle, and then started to lap the slower runners. I allways like to have a target to chase, and i wasnt able to close the gap on the runner ahead of me, but i could reel in the runners i was lapping Then i noticed something else, footsteps closing in on me from behind...The shdowed me into the wind and then pulled past, it turned out to be a small group of 3 runners. They were apparently able to maintain the pace that id slipped off, I considered trying to latch onto them but by then i knew i was on for something good If i could just run 1 more lap without blowing to pieces.

So i let them ease ahead, and concentrated on not letting the pace slip above 4 mins / km. ... the final lap was tough. I was really starting to breath heavily, the head wind was sapping my strength fast, and i could feel my legs starting to burn, then I was pulled back by yet another runner, this time an old guy, I couldnt hold him but a look behind told me that there was no-one else close enough to overtake me... now i just had to run it into the finish and run it in i did. there was nothing left in the tank to put in a final sprint, but neither did i let the pace slip any more.

I crossed the line, and then looked at the garmin not really sure if i was good for a sub 20... and then i saw my time... 19:35, To say that i was over the moon would be an exageration, i was too buggered just at that point to be too happy. I needed to get a drink and catch my breath... then i could enjoy my time.

The sub 20 5k was great and just what id wanted for this event, but you can imagine my surprise when the 5k race results were eventually pinned up to see that id also taken first place in my age group. I have never placed in the top three in my Age group before, and had secretly hoped that maybe with luck id get 3rd, actually last year my 19:35 would have only got me 4th, So i was completely blown away with the age group win. Whats more it was really great to have the kids there to watch me have to go up and stand on the stage and get presented with my certificate.

Man what a year its been, Ive gone from just starting out jogging, to training through the winter, running a marathon, and now to breaking one of those key time barriers, the sub 20 5k!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

10th Buchenwaldlauf Welver

The Buchenwaldlauf in Welver was a really great family event. The childrens races started fairly early in the afternoon with 400, 800, 1k, & 1500m events depending on age group run on an athletics track. The longer distances of 5k and 10k were later in the afternoon and run over a mix of street and forest trail, but unusually for events here in germany they were open for children as well.

My Children entered the races in their age groups, run on the track, they didnt want to try the longer distance this time.

The first up was my Oldest over 1km. The number of entrants in the older secondary ages school kids was pretty low so it was combined 'schuller A & B' so 12-16yo's...there were 10 runners in total. He started off strong with a good first 400m and was sitting in 3rd place overall, The runners in front stretched out their lead on the second 400 and He wasnt able to maintain his pace, In the final 200m he was passed by a group of runners coming home strong, he managed to react and pulled back one of them before crossing the line in 6th place overall with a time of 4:05. As allways I am extremly proud that he is willing to run these races and that he continues to give it his all regardless of where he currently is.

Next up was my youngest over 800m, the field of 88 starters in his age group was broken up into 4 starts. 'Schuller D' are the 7-8yo's, and these races start off at a virtual sprint and are run as a race of attrition to see who can hold the pace for as long as possible, there is no steady pacing in these events. His start was no differnt, and he sprinted into 2nd place over the first 100m. the first 400m was very fast in his heat, and he was still holding onto 3rd place, He lost one more place in the second 400 to come home 4th in his start group. He seemed dissapointed, but the overall results showed that he was 5th fastest with a time of 3:11, had he run in any other heat he  would have likely won or at the least have come second.

My Daughter was third to race, similarly over 800m, in her races the field of 38 was split into 3 starts. 'Schullerin C' are 9-10yo's, and these are not very different from the younger ones, the kids that run regularly set the pace at the start and the 'fun' runners try and stay with them for as long as possible. My daughter started off fairly slowly, she had told me she wanted to have a fast second lap. she fairly quickly fell back to the last 1/4 of the field over the first 400m, true to her word she speed up in the second 400 and passed quite a few of the other runners to come home in the middle of the field. In the overall results she was similarly bang in the middle 10th girl from 21 with a time of 3:30.

I had signed up for the 10k, but on the day a combination of the high heat and not wanting to have to make my kids wait around too long for me to start and then finish my race i switched to the earlier 5k race. Coming into this event Ive had no speed training and have only had a few days back runnig since recovering from an injury. Originally id been planning to attack the 20min mark for the 5k in May, I have another 5k in a weeks time and was going to use this as a gauge and as race prep. In light of the injury i decided not to push full out. The Race with its 99 entrants started with a lap of the track, the first curve i was held out in the 2nd lane but was able to move into the first lane on the second curve. the pace over the first 400 was about the 3:50 mark, way to fast to hold throughout the race, but ive been learning about getting a good position earlier on in the race.

Once we were out of the stadium, i decided to sit on the shoulder of the woman running in second place. I figured that she would help me to run a consistent pace. The next part of the course was through a Forest over a well groomed bike path, the best part was that it was shady and cool, just before km 2 however we emerged into the fields and the full sun. Almost instantly i could feel my temperature starting to rise, after about 400m the woman had started to slow and i gently eased passed her. I reached the turn around and was surprised that i wasnt all that far behind the leading runners.

I decided to try and keep the pace steady while i was still in the sun, I managed to pull back a couple of guys that were struggling with the heat, putting on a little burst as i went past each one to ensure that they didnt try and tuck in behind me. Then we were back into the forest. I picked up the effort level, if not the pace, I was starting to close down the gap on the guy running infront of me, but not nearly fast enough, as we entered the forest he had 40m and it was still a good 20m when we emerged from the forest. The race head into the final stretch back into the stadium and then a final loop of the track before the finish line. over the last 200m i was shouted on by my youngest screaming 'end spurt papa' as he tried to run beside me. I knew i wasnt going to catch the guy in front but did manage to closed it down to about 5m, my official finishing time was 20:53 my garmin reports a 20:49 for a 17th place overall and 5th in my age group. Fastest time was 18:13 which attests to the warm conditions we faced.

I have to say i really enjoyed running the shorter race distance and although i held back a little out of respect for my recovering heel the race time was surprisingly good, Given that i havent run over 5k since the first race i entered almost a year ago, a new PB was guaranteed, and with my 'A' 5k race still a week away and the projected weather report showing cooler conditions I an now really looking foward to seeing what i can achieve then.

Here's the tale of the Garmin.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Im Recovering from an Injury

Well it seems that if your a runner then you will also be recovering from an injury at some point. The last 2 weeks have shown me that im no exception to this rule.

So whats up with me?

I have an inflammed Achilles Tendon... seems my achilles heel is my achilles (sorry couldnt resist).

2 weeks ago i did a barefoot run for the first time partly on non natural surfaces, as a result i had some blistering on my toes, but other than that my feet felt fine, no soreness, no tightness, just the blisters. So that night i decided to skip my normal run and do some drills with My kids, then talk them through some speed workouts. I dont know what did it, but i think perhapes i was sitting my foot down differently because of the blisters, but within an hour and a half of finishing the session with the kids, my heel was feeling a little bit sore.

The next day i woke up to a heel that was so sore that i was forced to limp, and be carefull not to flex my foot at the ankle at all. I realised it was a lot more serious than i had imagined the night before.

I immediately started a recovery program, icing several times each day, I stayed off it as much as possible, and kept the foot elevated as much as a desk job allows. At the time i was hoping a couple of days would see me right and id be able to run again pretty soon.

However 2 days later i was still hobbling along, there was no ache  just pain when i flexed at the ankle... stretching the achilles. So then i started taking Ibuprofen, and kept on icing... Over the next few days things slowly started getting better, my walk improved from a hobble to a limp. But there was still soreness when i flexed too far.

After about 8 days i felt like it was probably good enough to consider running on, but following some excellent advice I decided to give it an extra day or two after i felt it was ok to run on again.  My first run was a slow 6k, 11 days after getting the injury. The run was ok, the heel felt tight, and ached a little after the run. And of course the legs were a bit stiff after almost 2 weeks siting out. I decided to rest a couple more days, then join my runninng buddies for a slow group run. The heel held up good that time, and there was no soreness afterwards.

So this week im easing back into my training. Its quite challenging for me personally not to go out too far or too fast.

the injury has put an end to my goal of attempting a sub 20 min 5k, I havent been able to do any of the tempo work that id been planing for, and rather than risk agravating the injury further ill just keep things easy for the next few weeks, and then start looking at ramping up into my fall Marathon training.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Shoe Rotation, What? Why?, and How?

Shoe Rotation means having 2 or more pairs of running shoes that you switch or rotate between for your training.

So why do we do it? well first off not all shoes are created equal. There are shoes that are primarily designed for running fast or short races in, others that have more cushioning for longer runs, there are trail shoes and track shoes, bassically theres a shoe for every occasion. So unsurprisingly our shoe rack slowly fills with a variety of different shoes.

But there are still plenty of us that have multiple pairs of the same sort of shoe, whats up with that?

The most commonly cited reason is shoe life expectancy. The theory goes that the foam that makes up the mid sole of your shoes slowly degrades or gets compressed over time as the shoe gathers miles. However if you can give the shoe a longer break between usage then the midsole has a chance to relaxe or decompress a little, thus reducing the wear and extending its life. For someone that might run in excess of a shoes recomended life expectancy in a period of 2 months the thought of getting a little extra out of a pair of shoes is quite enticing. There are however dissenters that say that rotation doesnt improve midsole life expectancy, that a shoe wont decompress if you give it some extra time between usage.

There is a second commonly cited theory, that rotating between different pairs of shoes from different manufacturers/lines can help to strengthen your feet because each shoe sits just a little differently and works the muscle group a little differently, that it can reduce your risk of repetitive motion injuries. As with the decompression theory above this also has dissenters, saying that this may infact increase your risk of injury.

Even if you dont believe that, there are still other advantages, if your shoes get wet, dirty or just need to dry out from sweaty feet then having a second pair means you have a nice dry pair ready to put on the next time you want to run, and the wet pair can be left to dry naturally. The drying out properly also helps in avoiding the bacterial bloom that a constantly damp pair of shoes can expect.

Having a newer pair and an older pair allows you to switch between a shoe that is near end of life and one that has  most of its life before it. you can recover from the older one in the newer, and the older one will help harden you up a little.

Another great point about having shoes from multiple manufactureres or lines, is that you dont become to strongly attached to a specific shoe, because you can bet the house on the fact that at some point the manufacturer will be making a change to it that you'll not like.

Finally lets also not forget the aesthetic element, what better way to impress those otherwise hard to impress running partners but with a whole plethora of different shoes... perhapes colour co-ordinated with your running clothes...

OK, maybe with that last one im starting to skate on thin ice, but for me at least the evidence seems to point in favour of rotating through several pairs of shoes.

So If your going to start rotating shoes here are some tips to keep in mind.
  1. Rotate through shoes that have differnt milage on them, stager the shoes and introduce a new pair as the highest millage pair wears out.
  2. Use the lower millage pair for races and longer runs if appropriate.
  3. If you find multiple brands that sit well then consider introducing them into your rotation.
  4. Track the millage on your shoes so you know how long theyve got left, and which shoe you wore for which run.
  5. Consider purchasing shoes in multiple colours (not only does this increase your fashion quotient, it also makes it easier to track which shoe is which)
As for me? how many shoes do i have on rotation at the moment?... let me see.

Im have a low millage pair of Nike Skylon 11's that are for races upto 10k and for sprint or interval training.

I have a low millage pair of Brooks Ghost 2's that are for longer races.

I have a two pairs of brooks Adrenaline GTS 10's, one with mid miles and one high millage that i only use on my short morning recovery runs now...they are almost ready for retirement now.

I have another pair of GTS 9's that are mid millage that i use in rotation with the mid millage GTS 10's during my regular weekly training.

So its currentl 5 pairs, and Im not really following the guidlines above as im still pretty heavily invested in the brooks GTS line... a carry over from back when i didnt know about shoe rotation.

So what will i be introducing next? probably something lighter and with a lower heel drop. Maybe something from the Saucony line.

BTW, Heres a small selection of online resources i stummbled across while putting this together.

rotating your shoes @ run to
Rotating running shoes @
sneaker rotation @ soletheory
shoe rotation @ Ironman 101
two-fers by the shoeguy @ running times
multiple forum threads at runners world.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Reading Roundup

I started the week off with the barefoot files at Running and Rambling. Now that the rampup in my marathon training is over id like to include a little more barefoot running into my program. A stamp on the blog lead me to the barefoot runners society, and that in turn to a TV program about running... although its in german. The skeletal images of kids running at the begining was very interesting.

I furthered my investigations of barefooting by reading some of the forum entires at the BRS. Which lead me to a couple of intersting blogs, One was the Maple Grove Barefoot Guy His image on how to spot a meth lab is classic. Another i found my way too is go barefooting that had a few articles that i looked at. Interestingly he also liked to a youtube video id watched just a little earlier.. nicely done, but with 'that guy' involved you wouldnt expect anything else.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Tenderfoot Trials

So anyone that has taken up barefoot running and still remembers the begining will understand my choice in post title. For those that have yet to throw abbandon to the wind and give barefooting a whirl... be warned your feet will be a little tender at first.

Actually Its not like today was my first barefoot run, Ive been running barefoot in a local forest with my kids for some time now. Today i ran about the same distance as i have been the last couple of times with the kids. Today however, was the first time that I ran alone, and hence wasnt pace restricted, It was also the first time that i ran any distance on a hard surface, a mix of ashphalt, concrete cobbles, and gravel paths. In total they probably only made up about 1km though.

So i was a little surprised to find that Ive developed a nice little collection of blisters on the pads on my toes, And the forefoot area although blister free is considerably more tender than after my runs in the forest. Having thought about it for a little while Ive come to the conclusion that its almost certainly the combination of hard surface and increased pace. neither one idividually should have had such an effect.

Maybe i could have reduced the consequences or avoided them completly if i had cut the run shorter, however my course is an out and back and the hard surface is all at the begining (and end) the middle stretch is a combination of packed earth and grass. So im not entirely sure that would have been the solution. I am also free of any tightness in my calves that you would normally associate with overdoing the the actual running.

My original plan was to switch all morning runs to barefoot starting this week. But in light of todays 'consequences' i think ill spend a few weeks alternating between a barfoot mornign run and a shod one, untill my feet have had a little bit of time to get accustomed to the new surfaces, Ill also dial back my pace a little on the hard surfaces, see if that helps.