Friday, 30 March 2012

Born to Run

Not the Bruce Springsteen song but the book by Christopher McDougal.  Is a book about Ultra running and the Tarahumara Indians, which I read last year.  One of the principle people in the book is a runner called Micah True also known as Caballo Blanco.

Caballo Blanco

photo by Louise Escabar
This week, The Silver City Sun reported that Caballo Blanco had been reported as missing after going out for a run on Tuesday and not returning.

Lets hope this is a news story about running with a happy ending.

As for my running, despite feeling a little under the weather , things seem to be progressing quite well.  Last night I did an 8 mile fartlek and on Tuesday an Inverted Pyramid session 4min to 1 and back again.

Tomorrow the plan is for a short easy run with the aim of getting a long run in on Sunday - about 16 miles.

If  you are racing this weekend - Have a good one!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Progress report

It may be mostly just steady miles but the last two weeks  have seen mileage of 51 and 48 miles respectively.  Apart from a couple of slight twinges this has been achieved without any adverse reaction from my calf.  So things are definitely starting to look up and I am currently pencilling in the possibility of a  race in three weeks time.

Yesterday was a beautiful morning for a run with the early morning fog burning off to reveal blue skies and a bright sunny and warm day, as I enjoyed an easy 13 miles along the Derwent Walk. 

As the run progressed, as well as enjoying the views I played that old game, which I am sure every runner has played at some time or other, coming up with a list of songs  associated with running.  I came up with all the obvious ones - Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen; Road Runner by The Pretty Things and The Animals; Road Runner by Jonathan Richmond (different song); Run for Home by Lindesfarne etc.

But then I tried to think of any songs that were about running in an athletics sense and found that much more difficult.  At first I thought of a Roger Waters track from the Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking album called Running Shoes.  But from memory there is nothing about actual running in the song.

Eventually I came up with a Jethro Tull song, which although it did not have run or running in the title it did have lyrics about running.

The song is Budapest and from memory the lyrics were about a girl who ran 400 on a perfect track.
Once the run was over I decided to check the lyrics out, and although I had not remembered them correctly the start of the song was about a girl who ran:

I think she was a middle-distance runner
(The translation wasn't clear)
Could be a budding stately hero
International competition in a year

She was a good enough reason for a party
(Well you couldn't keep up on a hard track mile)
While she ran a perfect circle
And wore a perfect smile
In Budapest, hot night in Budapest

The first two verses of Budapest from the Crest of a Knave album.

This is the only song I could come up with.  Does anyone know any others?

Monday, 19 March 2012

Olympic Torch Relay

It must have been around about November last year when I found out that my daughter, Francesca, had nominated me to be one of the Torchbearers on the Olympic Torch Relay.

When I found out, I was 'made up' that she had even thought about it and was quite happy that she had nominated me, and that was that.

So imagine my surprise when I was actually chosen!

Although I have known that I had been chosen for a little while now, I only recieved Official confirmation this weekend.

So I will be carrying the torch on 16th June through Consett in County Durham.

Map of Olympic Torch Relay route

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The cushioning effect?

Following my post last Tuesday, Antony Bradford left an interesting comment about his experiences of wearing cushioned running shoes.

With regards to Antony's comments on actual barefoot running I must admit I am inclined to agree with him (hence never trying it), and again, like Antony, when I first started running I tended to think that the more cushioning the better.

Having said this, during the 1980's, although I did opt for cushioning whilst training I did experiment with minimalist shoes when racing (I was a lot faster in those days).  In particular, the Nike Sock Racer.

At the time the sock racer (3rrd from right in photo) was one of the strangest looking shoes around and I think probably Nike's first experiment in minimalist shoes.  I don't think they were very popular but I loved them! 

I have a pair of Nike Free at present but only wear them for walking around in and some treadmill sessions at the gym.

Latterly though, I keep vying between cushioning and minimalism (which is why I probably keep bringing the subject up). 

Since turning 50 I seemed to favour more cushioning but I realised last year that my running style (such as it is)  was changing and I was becoming a more and more pronounced heel striker and I was also picking up more and more injuries.

Whether this was down to the shoes, age or a combination of both, I am not sure but since October of last year I have made a conscious effort to redress this.  One of the ways of doing this has been by mixing wearing lighter/less cushioned shoes with a more cushioned shoe, along with awareness of foot placement.

If anyone else has any views or comments on the subject I would be happy to hear from you

Monday, 12 March 2012

Sunday run and TV

It may have been at a gentle pace but the 11 miles I managed yesterday morning with no adverse reaction from my calf means that this week I am ready to step things up a bit. Although I intend to still be conservative in increasing the workload, hopefully by the end of this week I will be in a position to set some targets with regards to racing and goals for the year.

Following my run, I must admit to sitting, glued to the TV, watching the last day of the World Indoor Athletics Championships from Istanbul.

Some fantastic performances from a GB point of view.  Particularly Andrew Osagie finishing in Bronze medal position in the 800m and the woman's 4 x 400 relay team picking up Gold.

From an excitement point of view it would also be hard to go passed the men's 3000m.  With Bernard Lagat unleashing a blistering finish to take Gold with, unfortunately Mo Farah being pushed back into 4th place.

In his post race interview Farah said he would just have to train twice as hard for the upcoming Olympics. I am sure he will and I am already looking forward, with increased anticipation,to watching his races at ' London'

Friday, 9 March 2012

Ryton loop

Having continued to keep things easy all week, my calf felt much better and this pesky cold, although lingering, seems to be fading.  So, I decided that last night I would attempt a time trial around the Ryton loop, just to see how much fitness I had actually lost over the last few weeks.

The loop is 2.1 miles around Ryton and the last time I tried it was in January, clocking 12.28.  Last nights attempt took a lot more effort than I would normally expect and I clocked 13.18.  So at least I now know where I stand.

The plan now, then, is to gradually build up over the next three weeks to a point where hopefully I am in a position to at least put in a reasonable race performance in April.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Injury update and a debate continues

Well the rehabilitation of my calf continues at a slow pace but signs of improvement are there. Basically, I am continuing with the bent knee calf raises and gentle jogging/easy running, trying to gradually increase the the distance.  So hopefully I can progress back to 'proper' running sooner rather than later.

I know a number of readers of this blog also read Terry Lonergans blog Running on Empty.  Last week Terry wrote about minimalist / barefoot running and cushioned shoes, and regular readers of this blog will know that I have raised the subject a couple of times.  It was with this in mind that I was interested to see the findings of a new study by Rodger Kram of the University of Colorado, which was recently published in 'Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise'.

The findings of this study have shown that runners in their sample ran more efficiently (based on oxygen consumption at a given pace) than when they ran barefoot.

Although the study, predictably confirmed that the more mass the researchers added to each foot the less efficient the runners became it also found that wearing shoes made the learner more efficient by 3% - 4%.

The study proposed two possible explanations for this:

Firstly, runners spontaneously took slightly larger strides (about 3.3%) when wearing shoes and these larger strides may have helped them to become more efficient.

Secondly, that the cushioning in the shoes; saying that without the cushioning the runners leg muscles have to expend metabolic energy to absorb the impact of each stride.

So perhaps the question should be how much cushioning rather than if we should have cushioning in our running shoes.