Posts Tagged ‘running’

Irongran

Friday, March 20th, 2020 | Books

Irongran: How Keeping Fit Taught Me that Growing Older Needn’t Mean Slowing Down is a book by Eddie Brocklesby. She started running in her 50s, took up triathlon in her 60s, and holds the record of the oldest British woman to finish an Ironman, aged 74.

In her biography, she shares her story of how she got involved in endurance sports, went on to found the charity Silverfit, an organisation dedicated to getting older people active, and the many Ironmans she has done. I lost count but I am pretty sure she has finished at least five: Lanzarote twice, Kona, Vichy and Cozumel.

It’s not a rags-to-riches story. She starts by talking about her grandmother who was Winston Churchill’s private cook. But throughout the book, she shows a high level of self-awareness about her opportunities and ability to afford what all of us in triathlon must surely admit is an expensive sport.

Some of the story seems like a sharp contrast. For example, she says she is not well organised. And yet managed to maintain a career, running Silverfit and Ironman training: all things which sound like they need a lot of organisation. Similarly, it’s not like she never got off the couch before 50 as she did play netball competitively, although it is true that she never tried endurance sport until later in life.

Overall, it is a fun and inspiring read.

Karhu Synchron running shoe review

Monday, February 10th, 2020 | Reviews, Video

Karhu is a Finnish running shoe brand and the Synchron is their support shoe. I wanted to love it but I don’t.

The shoe pinches my midfoot and digs into my plantar fascia underneath. It’s not as bad as the Karhu Fusion, but it is still uncomfortable. It’s not as tall as the Fusion, which makes it difficult for me to get my foot into it. The toe box suggests I am wearing the right size; the shoes are simply not tall enough.

It feels like quite a heavy shoe and after any period of time running, my toes start to get hot. They have a chunky sole but it does not give much back. Hoka have an annoying large sole but at least it gives something back; the Karhus not so much.

It is a shame because they look nice, albeit not quite as nice as the Karhu Fusion. But, alas, the Synchron is not the running shoe for me.

Karhu Fusion running shoe review

Sunday, February 9th, 2020 | Reviews, Video

The Karhu Fusion running shoe is a story of heartbreak. Visiting Finland regularly and speaking some Finnish, the minute I saw the word karhu, I wondered if it was a Finnish brand. And it was. A legendary Finnish brand with over a hundred years of running heritage.

The shoes look great and the Fusion is tall enough to fit my foot in.

However, it is also uncomfortable. The mid-foot rocker digs into my plantar fascia and I came off a treadmill run in some discomfort. They feel heavy without providing much cushioning, so it is like running in a big shoe without the benefits you usually get from them. In fact, they pinch my midfoot the whole way around, from the bottom to across the top as well.

So, unfortunately, these are not my new running shoes of choice.

Abbey Dash 2019

Thursday, December 26th, 2019 | Sport

I love the Abbey Dash as it is a great chance to get together with the running club over a few beers. It’s almost a shame there has to be a run before it.

My 10km run PB was in a strange place. Officially, it was 49:47, set at the 2017 dash. But in 2018 I ran 47:36 at Wetherby Triathlon and 47:12 at World Triathlon Leeds this year. Where they short? Too down hill? Or just my best runs?

I wanted to put that question to rest and so resolved to go out at 47-minute pace. The 22:30 ai ran at parkrun the week before suggested I should be able to run a 47:04 but I was worried that a year of Ironman had eroded my top-end speed.

The weather is always cold so this year I came prepared. The day before I popped down to a charity shop and bought a hoodie to wear before the race. There was a little rain before the race, but otherwise cold and sunny: PN conditions.

This year, the start moved from Wellington Street to The Headrow. Julie says this is the way it used to be. This meant cutting out the congestion point around Cardigan Fields. No speed bumps to jump this year.

My target pace was 4:42 per kilometre. My first km was downhill and came in at 4:32 but I then slowed down to 4:49 for the second. I tried to pick the pace up but couldn’t and slipped a few more seconds behind all of the way to the abbey.

I went around the turn at 23:40, ten seconds behind target pace. I was hurting and wanted to give up, but convinced myself that it might get easier, and even if it didn’t, I wanted to get as close to those triathlon times as possible: 47:10 would still be a PB after all.

The return journey starts with a downhill and I put in a 4:30 kilometre. After that, I didn’t slow down. Harriers kept screaming my name. I was head down racing, it thank you to everyone who did: I did hear you!

By kilometre seven and eight ai had realised that I was slightly ahead and just needed to keep it going. That was a scary prospect given there was a slight climb to The Headrow but I hoped I could rely on the adrenaline of being so close to keep me going.

I kept checking my watch to try and hit the perfect pace. I did not want to go too hard and blow up. I turned on the Galileo tracking (Europe’s GPS satellites) and my watch was pretty spot on with the distances.

As I crossed the line, I stopped my watch and looked down. It read 46:12. I couldn’t believe it. I have no idea where I found that minute. My official time came through via text 30 minutes later.

46:11

I am happy with that. It represents the fastest 10km I could run right now. I paced myself the whole way, pushed hard and kept a consistent heart rate of around 190 bpm.

Thank you to everyone on the route that was cheering us along.

Since the event, it has turned out that the course was 23 metres short. Even with an additional 23 metres, it would still be a PB, so I’m counting it.

Chicago Marathon 2019

Thursday, October 17th, 2019 | Sport

Chicago is one of the six marathon majors in the world, along with London, Berlin, Tokyo, New York and Boston. Why this is, is unclear. Nobody turns up to Chicago. The London route is lined with supporters the entire route. In Chicago, you can hear the footsteps of the athletes on the TV camera because there is no other sound.

That did not stop Brigid Kosgei, however. The London marathon winner shot out of the gate and refused to slow down, coming home in a new world record time of 2:14:04. This smashed the previous record of 2:15:25 that has been held by Paula Radcliffe since 2003 by 1:21.

On the finish line, Radcliffe congratulated Kosgei and said she always knew this day would come. I think collectively, as white people, we all knew this day would come, too. Radcliffe’s previous record was itself phenomenal, being over 3 minutes ahead of Catherine Ndereba’s 2001 world record time. It had stood for 16 years. The nearest anyone has got to it until now was Mary Keitany with 2:17:01.

Notably, of the 10 fastest marathon times ever for both men and women. Radcliffe’s time was the only one not set by a Kenyan or Ethiopian. Whatever genetic or cultural factors allow Africa to produce the world’s best distance runners, Radcliffe has been the only person in the world who was able to keep up with them. On the men’s side, you have to go back to before I was born to find a non-African world record holder.

But all records fall eventually (except Jerry Rice, obvs), and Brigid Kosgei’s incredible performance puts her nearly three minutes ahead of any time other the Radcliffe. That’s a huge gap. Will it too stand for decades, or give other runners the self-belief that they can run faster, too? I’m excited to find out.

1:59 Challenge

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019 | Sport

Back in 2017, Eliud Kipchoge led the charge at the #breaking2 event, the first attempt to run a sub-2 hour marathon. On that occasion, we came up 26 seconds short. A the time, I was desperately trying to run a sub-2 hour half (for the record, I did).

Two years later, and Kipchoge arrived in Vienna for the 1:59 Challenge. If the attempt in Italy was well-planned, it was nothing compared to this. Sponsored by INEOS, Dave Brailsford from British Cycling was brought in to mastermind the entire operation.

The perfect location had been selected: a straight road with two roundabouts at each end. The perfect time of year had been selected, with a 10-day window to get the right weather. A team of seven pacers would run with Kipchoge at all time, in a Flying V formation with two runners at the back. The idea was that this created the perfect shape to protect Kipchoge from the wind. A team of 41 world-class runners were brought in, each asked to run a 5km in 14:10 (2:50 per kilometre). A car in front of the runners projected lasers on the ground telling each runner where to be.

In the end, Kipchoge finished in 1:59:39, making it the first-ever sub-2 hour marathon.

It won’t stand as a world record. This is because pacers were swapped in and out, nutrition was delivered via a bike and there was only one “competitor”. This makes it much easier than a real race where you would have to have your face in the wind once the pacers dropped away, and dodge around other runners to pick your nutrition up from a table at the side. I also heard a rumour that the special Nike shoes may not be legal in a marathon, but I am not sure if this is true or not.

Regardless, though, running 26.2 miles in under two hours is an incredible achievement. I’m a little disappointed as I always wanted to be the first person to run under two hours. But, realistically, it is starting to look like I won’t be able to do that anyway. Since I have been a runner, there has been a lot of debate as to whether sub-2 was even theoretically possible. Many people said it wasn’t. Now we know.

Weymouth parkrun

Saturday, September 28th, 2019 | Sport

Our holiday in Weymouth gave me a chance to do some parkrun tourism. I wondered whether it would be incredibly busy with 2,700 athletes descending in the town for IRONMAN. However, it turns out most of them were too serious to do a parkrun the day before.

The course is a mini loop through the trees of Lodmoor park before and out and back that goes to the far side and then back to the loop. The sun was shining, and once you hid from the coastal wind, it was hot.

Everyone was friendly, and it was an enjoyable run.

Hoka Clifton 6 review

Wednesday, September 11th, 2019 | Reviews, Video

Hoka Clifton 6 review

In this video, I’ll review the Hoka One One Clifton 6 running shoe.

Hoka One One is known for the maximalist shoes that have a huge amount of cushioning but relatively little drop. The Clifton 6 is a road shoe with neutral stability.

They fit fairly narrow: as soon as I put it on I knew I had to go for the wide version, something I have not had to do in other brands of shoes.

The cushioning is noticeable. It does not feel mushy, but it does not have the same responsiveness as a race shoe, either. You really notice it after you have worn them for a few hours and then take them off. “Oh yeah, this is what the ground feels like!”

The toe box is almost as good as Nike and has enough space for my massive big toe. A lot has been made of the mid-foot rocker but I do not think it is a big deal. I do not notice it all that much and Brooks have a similar thing in their shoes.

when I first started wearing them the medial arch was digging a little. However, this disappeared after the first 20-30km. The drop is only 5mm, so coming from a 10mm drop, I could feel a tugging on my calf when I first put them on. This has not been a problem while running, though.

The cushioned sole means I would not want to make any quick cuts in these. They would be no use on the basketball court. But they are running trainers, and for running, they are fine.

One thing that does annoy me is that I regularly scrape the fall of my foot on the ground. You could argue I just need to pick my feet up further. However, this is not a problem I run into in other shoes.

Overall, I like these shoes. They will not be replacing my race shoes, but they will be forming part of my regular rotation for those easy-paced runs where speed is not an issue.

Brooks Asteria review

Saturday, August 31st, 2019 | Reviews, Video

The Brooks Asteria is a running shoe that is lightweight and designed for racing. It is similar to the Ravenna in that it offers stability but it lighter: 287g compared with 320g for the Ravenna. It has less padding so you are going to hit the surface harder and feel the ground more.

It comes with the Brooks GuideRails to provide support when needed and offers at 8mm drop (I know I said 10mm in the video!). Also, it’s red, so it goes faster than other shoes. The sole has a speckled effect that looks like dirt at first glance but I am pretty sure is part of the design.

It maintains the luxurious Brooks feel inside but has less space in the toe box than the Ravenna, so it tighter on my big toe. The laces have an elastic springy feel. I ran pretty fast in these shoes but it is difficult to know how much of that is a placebo effect. I think they are useful for runs of up to 10km, but beyond that, I would be looking for more padding.

It also has the same downfall as the Ravenna (and possibly all Brooks shoes; I haven’t tried them all) in that the sole simply does not grip in the wet. So, as soon as it rains, which it does a lot in England, or even if the surface is just damp, you start sliding around. It is a big downside.

Other possible alternatives: I’ve spent most of this review comparing it to the Brooks Ravenna, which I prefer to the Asteria, and you may also want to consider the Nike Zoom Span, which is my favourite mild stability shoe.

Brooks Ravenna 10 review

Friday, August 30th, 2019 | Reviews, Video

The Brooks Ravenna 10 is a running shoe that offers a resolve sole, 10mm drop and mild support. It uses the Brooks GuideRails system to provide said support when needed. In this review, I’ll look at the men’s edition, but there is a woman’s edition, too.

It has some cushioning, but not too much, and even more generous cushioning on the tongue. The inside feels silky smooth: I can happily go around in these without socks. It weighs in at 280g, just slightly above what the Brooks website promises. There is plenty of space in the toe box for my big toe.

After a month of running the shoe still looks in great condition, except for the inside of the heal, which has started to bobble. No splits yet and hopefully, it will stay that way.

Unfortunately, the Ravenna has one major drawback: it loses a lot of grip in the wet. If you are running in the rain, or even if the ground is damp, you tend to slip and slide all over the pace. Friends who run in Brooks report the same problem to me. This is super frustrating because it rains a lot in England and having to check the weather forecast every time I am going out in them is a chore.

In short, this is almost an amazing running shoe. I love it in the dry. However, losing so much grip in the wet means that this shoe ultimately gets the thumbs down from me I’m afraid.

Looking for running shoes with mild support? Consider the Brooks Asteria if you want a racing shoe with less cushioning, or the excellent Nike Zoom Span.