Thursday, 30 June 2011

From Jogger to Runner

How to class someone, either as Runner or Jogger is an age old problem with no solution that is satisfactory to all. Its a Problem that Ive read about in the past, and at the time the solution that i liked the best was 'I am a runner because I say I am'. So I wanted to look at what lead me to start seeing myself as a Runner instead of a Jogger.

I started Jogging in 2010 to get fit, to give myself time to think, to burn off frustration and nervous energy... and it worked really well, You can read about how i got started jogging here. I had entered a few races and was enjoying myself, but i didnt consider myself a Runner. Even after i bettered my 10k PB, or when I ran the Cologne Half Marathon in an injured friends bib i still though of myself as a Jogger.

For me the feeling came in the begining of 2011, I was training for the Vienna Marathon, doing lots of Aerobic training, and my pace at a comfortable effort was improving rapidly. I guess for me the feeling of being a Runner rather than a Jogger is linked to pace. Both the ability to run at what i consider a fast pace, and the desire to continue to improve it.

Those initial reasons I had for jogging have now become secondary. It doesnt mean that I dont still need them, just that now ive come to accept them as what seems like a guaranteed side effect of running. So why have they become secondary? Well basically running has helped me get my life sorted out, its helped me become someone i actually like being rather than that sad, angry, depressed guy i was before.

I guess i could have decided to just continue jogging and use my spare time in some other activity, if it wasnt for that interesting aspect about running. Ultimately your allways competing against yourself, which really appeals to my personality. Now the primary driver for my training is to improve my current performance. To achieve the performance goals that I am setting for myself. Basically most of my running now is running for runnings sake.

But what exactly was it that got me to start to feel like a Runner? When i think about it there was one standout training run during my training. It was an Out and Back 20km route that id started using for Marathon Pace training runs. I Remember one day being about 15km in, looking at my Garmin and seeing that i was cruising along comfortably at a pace under 5:00/km. I remember thinking to myself. 'Wow, now your running Paul.' That was the moment that started me on seeing myself in a different light. Seeing myself as a Runner.

And at the end of the day, how you see yourself is the most important thing, and thats why i like that definition of Runner. 'I am a Runner because I say i am!' If you see yourself as a runner then you are one, at least in my books.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Olfener Citylauf 10k

Olfen is one of the neighbouring towns to where my kids live and this year it was the 25th anniversary of their citylauf. I only decided to register for this one the last day of online registrations. I havnt done any specific 10k training or much dedicated speed or lactate threshhold training, so although i was expecting to set a new PB i knew I wasnt yet in a condition to break the 40 min barrier.

Thursday was a public holiday and the races started at 15:00 with kids events over 1.5km. My youngest competted and did really well against a large field to run in 5th in his race and take a 3rd in his age group. 1.5km in 6:16 for those little legs is pretty damn good, especially since its the longest race he's done so far.

Whilst it was sunny for the kids races it clouded over and the wind picked up as the afternoon went on, it looked like we were going to get some heavy showers during the 10k, I warmed up and went down to the start line. There were half a dozen runners from my running group also there, We wished each other luck, and lined up with 250+ others for the starters gun.

I was about 3-4 rows back from the start and it was pretty tight over the first 1km lots of having to check my step and a few banged elbows, and then just as i though it was over i got boxed in behind a couple of guys that were runnnign just a tick slower than my pace and people to either side... but eventually i made my way past them.

then i tried to settle into my race and run a constant pace, it wasnt easy with lots of twists and turns on the course and the street surfaces of cobbles and concrete paving wasnt as smooth as you would have liked, but i seemed to find my stride. The first 3-4 laps i towed the only female from my running club behind me, she tucked in behind going up the streets with a head wind. I though i might be able to help her bridge the gap to another woman running 10m in front of me, but when i added a little to the pace she couldnt hold with me. I was kind of hoping that i could help her to a new PB since at the begining of the year we both ran similar 10k times. I almost considered slowing to let her catch up again, but decided that that would put my own chances of a PB at risk.

So i set about trying to pull back the runners in front... but thats when it got confusing, because at about that point i started lapping the back runners.... in the begining it wasnt to hard to tell who was on the same lap as me... as the speed difference was significant...i managed to close up to the woman in front and a guy she was running with, and put a little spurt on to pass them through traffic and open up a little gap before returning to normal pace.... then i set my eyes on a guy in a green shirt that was ahead.

It took me a whole lap to close the gap on him, actually i think i kept my ppace constant and he was tiring... i pulled up onto his sholder, waited for the next corner and as we rounded it put a surge on to pass and open a gap up. I was then into the final lap, and started to try and wind up the pace a little, I Think i was still managing to run more or less towards my forefoot or at least not so badly on the heel, i know i was concentrating on this a bit more during this race.

The final lap it was difficult to see who was actually in front of me in the race and who was just traffic. Eventually i saw my quarry an older gentleman that i was not closing the gap on much at all. I chassed him through the whole final lap, bringing the distance down from 15m to 5m... and then on the last turn i managed to dig deep and find a bit more to pull past him and sprint to the finish line.

That i had enough left in the tank for a sprint finish shows that i didnt really pace this race as good as i could have... i should have latched onto the back of a group of slightly faster runners earlier on in the race. If id done that then i may have been able to run in under 41 minutes, but i am still very happy with 41:38 which takes a further 1:10 off my 10k PB. I came in as the 44th Man (of 211) and 6th in my age group.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Reading Roundup

Wouldnt it be nice to be a Swag Ninja like The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy  ... Sure, and i think probably ever one blogging about running has fantasized about getting something for free, heck who doesnt like getting something for free.... but as he points out its not free, actually for guys like him, or Pete Larson its seems to be a pretty full on second job. I am under no illusions that my writting skills (or more acccurately complete lack thereof) will ever lead me to the point where i have to wonder what to do with all 'this stuff'.

Its never easy to deal with the dissapointment of an injury affecting your plans, And Brett the running moron is no exception, He writes about wisely IMHO pulling out of a couple of upcoming races in order to give himself the proper time to heel, I hope that i am able to excercise the same self control the next time im injured, after all, with only a few days of easing back into training i smashed my original goal and set a new PB for the 5k.

An article at Mark Allen Online caught my attention, once again im reading about Aerobic training with a heart rate monitor, this one comes from the realm of triathlons but once again confirms to me that the approach i plan to use in the build up to Münster is the way to go.

Grellan at Solo Run had a fun post about the theory that our hearts only have so many beats in them, It got me thinking about my own resting HR, its now at least 20bpm lower than it used to be prior to starting running... which has got to be good for my long term prospects.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

New Shoes: Track spikes

Ive been tossing around the idea of getting myself a pair of track spikes for a few months now, but i could never justify the cost considering i havent really done too much on the track in the past. But last weekend i was at an outlet store for runners point looking for a new pair of road trainers when i saw on the wall a selection of track spikes all heavily reduced. there were two variety of sprint spikes, and some allrounders.... and as fate would have it a pair in my size.... so one thing lead to another and im now the proud owner of a pair of track spikes.

My spikes are asics speedstar's they are an allround spike, style wise they are very subdued, nothing racy like the saucony sprint shoes that my son thought were better looking....Id probably agree, but i hardly need sprint shoes.

Its really to early to provide any sort of feed back on them, Inserting the spikes was a piece of cake with the tool provided. Ive only taken them out once so far and that was only for a couple of quick 400m repeats with 400m recoveries in between. My initial impression so far is positive, they are a little narrower in the toe box than any of my road shoes, but no serious pinching cramping, or hotspots showed up on the first outing.

I was listening to the latest episode (75) of MarathonTalk with an interview of Matt Dixon, the guy that helped Ryan Hall to his outstanding recent results, he recomended an interesting Marathon specific workout that will match my situation and my new spikes really well. After a regular run head to the track and do 15,20,25, or even 30 x 400m repeats just under your marathon pace with 30s recoveries between them... This would work in really well with my group runs as they are probably not really providing enough training presure for me anymore.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Easing Back into Things.

So a while back i injured myself playing silly buggers with the kids. It saw me sit out close to two weeks of training, and i was certain i was going to miss a goal race. But it managed to come right in time to get a little training in and then as if by magic i managed to pull a monster result out of the hat. I think my conservative approach to the recovery is what has helped me achieve what i did and has also helped me avoid any relapse.

Aside from two 5k races I took it pretty easy for the first 3 weeks back running, only doing short runs, mixing up the intensity a little to see how it felt, but not pushing the distance at all. I had a couple of runs where i did feel the heel starting to ache a little but nothing that lingered. The week before last i started training a bit more regularly and ramped up 75km. Last week I increased again and broke the 100km mark for the first time in 6 weeks. This week ill increase the distance again, Im re-introducing my semi regular morning recovery jog, Its been something ive really been missing even if i have been enjoying my mornign sleep ins.

It will probably still take me another 3-4 weeks to work up to my planned full marathon training program, and Ill need to do a step down week soon to make sure Im getting enough rest and recovery.

I have chosen the interim races that ill be using during my training to judge progress and make pace decisions on, two half marathons, both will likely be a little hotter than actual race day, they are both kind of small, but thats ok, if im lucky who knows i may even have a chance of a good age class placing.

I have a couple of Plan B marathons in October that i can fall back on if the weather is not conducive to running a fast time for Munster. Early september can still be very warm, on the day if it looks too hot ill run it as a long trainign run and hope for beter conditions in October.

I got a new pair of race day shoes all ready to break in in preparation for Munster, and have put my Vienna shoes into my regualar rotation and dropped the very first pair of shoes i had out... it was about time, they had close to 1400km on them, and wernt really comfortable anymore.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Garmin Premium Heart Rate Monitor (Soft Strap)

I love my Garmin 310XT... or at least I did. but you see lately we havent really been seeing eye to eye.

OK, maybe im being a bit hasty, after all the 310XT isnt really the problem, its the 'Premium Heart Rate Monitor' that came with it. Its the soft strap one that promisies more comfort than ever before, and is optimized for use in congested areas. I havent tried any other heart monitor straps but i have no complaints about its comfort, actually once im wearing it i forget that I even have it on.

In the begining it was great, all through the tail end of winter I trained with the monitor, Infact using my heart rate as a guide to my effort level became a cornerstone of my whole training regime, and it certainly gave me great results.

But, over the last two months Ive been facing a growing problem. Either ive developed a serious heart condition, or my heart rate monitor is giving me false readings.

It started out with a few spikes right at the end of a 20km tempo run. My HR should probably sit around 160-165bpm at the end of one of these, i have an age calculated HR max of 180bpm but i had a couple of short spikes that went up as high as 194bpm. At the time i just ruled them out as a short glitch... id seen somethimg similar in my vienna marathon and wasnt really worried.

The next run out i saw a small spike right at the start followed by a couple in the middle of a 10k tempo run. It was probably the next run that drew my attention to the problem. It was a slow easy run of 15km at a pace that should see my HR sitting between 120 and 130 but it too had these spikes in the middle, but it was also reporting a fluctuating HR between 120 and 160 for most of the run.

I decided to pay closer attention on the next run, but as murphys law dictates the next run saw just one tiny spike at 10 mins and the rest of the run the HR hardly fluctuated at all, it was pretty much what you expect a HR trace to look like. The next couple of runs were similarly ok.

But then it went wrong in a big way, a longer 27km jaunt and after the first 6-7km it was all over the place the highest spike hitting 220 bpm.... I could go on with each run, but suffice it to say that over the last 5 weeks the accuracy and stability of the HR monitor trace has degraded to such a point that now i am lucky if i get a single correct reading.

Being the guy i am i searched on the internet for possible causes, and the appropriate remedies. First off i started with Garmins Support FAQ.

FrageMy device is reporting erratic heart rate data. How do I fix this?
There can be various causes for the erratic data. Try one or more of the following solutions to resolve this issue.
  • Make sure the heart rate monitor is snug against your body.
  • Warm up for 5–10 minutes.
  • Reapply moisture to the sensors. Use water, saliva, or electrode gel. Clean the sensors. Dirt and sweat residue on the sensor can interfere with heart rate signals.
  • Synthetic fabrics that rub or flap against the heart rate monitor can create static electricity that interferes with heart rate signals. Wear a cotton shirt or wet your shirt if suitable for your activity.
  • Position the heart rate monitor on your back instead of your chest.
  • Strong electromagnetic fields and some 2.4 GHz wireless sensors can interfere with your heart rate monitor. Sources of interference may include very high voltage power lines, electric motors, microwave ovens, 2.4 GHz cordless phones, and wireless LAN access points. After you move away from the source of interference, your heart rate data should return to normal.
Zuletzt geändert am09/28/2007

I was aware that static can cause issues, and that was what i had attributed the initial small spikes to when the problem first started, but im running in the same tops that 2 months ago gave a stabile reading. Ive tried wrapping the plastic unit in cotton to no avail, Ive even run shirtless with the same inaccurate readings.

Another prime cause seems to be poor contact with the skin, Ive tried wetting my skin, wetting the contact pads, wetting the whole strap, and ive even tried using some electrode contact gel, with no reliable improvement.

Ive tried changing the positiononing... ive tried the strap lower, higher, more to the left, more to the right, and even worn it on my back...and you guessed it, with no improvement. Ive tried it tighter, and looser... Ive tried it running in the middle of a field on my own with no phone. Ive tried everything that garmin suggests, and a few things that i picked up on their forums

So all thats left for me to conclude is that either i do have a heart condition, or the strap is malfunctioning and giving me false readings.

So theres nothing for it but to try and get a replacement. Now my garmin is still under guarantee, but, I guess trying to get this sorted will be food for another post. Wish me luck.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Reading Roundup

I was directed to an interesting site via a link on MarathonTalks facebook page...its a map of one guys travels for over half a year... an interesting idea, he uses the meta-data tags to segment the data and highlight it... worth a look. Speaking of Marathon Talk ive been listening to their old pod casts...quite a back catalogue to work through.

I also looked at two new shoes from Saucony... the Fastwitch5 and the Mirage I really like the reduced heel drop offered by these models, but in reality i probably wont be able to afford to get either one until the end of the season when they are reduced, and then they probably wont have them in my size anymore.

Its easy to be distracted by a collection of video's that really, have limited relevance to me other than they also deal with running, and the same occured the other day with a selection of videos at Flotrack. Their Tasty Race and Kick of the Week selections.

I also just found out that the Olympic Marathon Champion Samuel Wanjiru died. Which lead me to this great post at midpack slacker about his influence on the modern marathon. It seems that running didnt bring him the reprieve from personal problems that it does for me and many others.

Next onto a great show review at Runblogger again, this time not a minimal shoe, far from it. To me its allways interesting how some minimalists believe that everyone MUST run minimal or they are crazy.... what about jim-bob who's allways been a heel striker, and probably allways will. Heck im actively trying to transitions to a mid foot strike and i still heel strike like a bugger in races.

Whilst looking for a confirmable source for the famous frank shorter quote 'hills are speed work in disguise' i stumbled over a pdf from the Miramonte High School describing their Distance Training Components which i thought was a rather good concise guide to the various types of runs and what they achieve.

Then it was back onto some speed development reading at Strength Running