Posts Tagged ‘running’

Trail running

Saturday, February 20th, 2021 | Sport

Traditionally, I’ve been a road runner. I like it. You can focus on the pain. Trail running is fun and I am not always a fun person. But I am challenging a lot of beliefs about myself recently and one of them is that getting my feet wet and muddy may not be as bad as it first seems.

Lockdown 3 has been miserable. It is long and the weather had been terrible for months (I am writing this in the middle of February). I have not taken my bike outside since Christmas Eve. But I have been running in the snow. Given it only snows a few days a year, and sometimes not at all in a year, and I am in my 30s, I may only have a month of snow days left. And that ignores climate breakdown. So, I didn’t want to miss them.

But running in snow is slippy when all you have is a pair of road shoes. As is running on the trail which I have traditionally limited to summer. So, I have finally given in and bought a pair of trail shoes. I tried the Hoka Speedgoat 4 as these match my Clifton 6s, but there was not enough height in the toe box for my giant toes, so I had to switch to the Torrent. Less cushioning but otherwise very nice.

While it is a little annoying to go through a puddle the first time, my feet did stay relatively warm at six degrees Celcius. And because of how miserable the weather was, I literally had Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve to myself.

Training Essentials for Ultrarunning

Saturday, February 13th, 2021 | Books

Training Essentials for Ultrarunning: How to Train Smarter, Race Faster, and Maximize Your Ultramarathon Performance is a book by Jason Koop. Koop is an ultra coach and I like his book a lot. It challenges some conventional logic but does so with a heavy dose of academic referencing and modern theory on training.

One of the major premises of the book is that you should focus on fitness. This is often forgotten about with ultras. Many runners, including Laz Lake, will preach the benefits of miles and miles of training. And it is true you need to run a lot. But ultra runners should also do tempo runs and interval training. Why? Because if you increase your VO2 max by 10%, that makes running slowly 10% easier, too. And even running slowly is hard when you have to do it for 160 kilometres.

He follows a reverse periodisation model where you work on the least important things farthest away. In a traditional periodisation model, you would work on base fitness and add in speed work later. But Koop starts with speed work and then moves onto getting increasingly specific to the race as we move into the season.

If you want to deep dive into ultrarunning training theory, this is a great book.

Relentless Forward Progress

Wednesday, February 10th, 2021 | Books

Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons is a book Bryon Powell.

I have read so many books on ultras recently, I am not going to say too much about them for fear I am confusing different books. But everything about this book was very good. On balance, I prefer it to Hal Koerner’s Field Guidem which is also a good read. But the advice in Powell’s book feels a little more practical, comprehensive and accessible.

Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021 | Books

Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning: Training for an Ultramarathon, from 50K to 100 Miles and Beyond is a book by Hal Koerner (pretty obviously). Koerner is an ultrarunner who has won many of the famous American ultras including Western States, Javelina Jundred and Hardrock.

It is a solid book with plenty of advice. I would recommend it to anyone getting into ultra running.

Minimalist’s Guide to Running an Ultramarathon

Friday, January 29th, 2021 | Books

I read this book in about 20 minutes. I’m not against shorts books as long as they deliver value, but to me, this read like a rambling monologue with very little structure and I did not learn much about ultra running.

Alps to Ocean medal

Sunday, January 24th, 2021 | Sport

Last month, I completed the Alps to Ocean virtual ultra, which is a 290 km run across New Zealand. It is always a pleasure to receive one of the medals because The Conqueror put so much effort into theirs.

(not the) Sir Titus Trot

Wednesday, January 13th, 2021 | Sport

In autumn last year, I noticed my motivation was flagging. I decided to set myself a challenge and didn’t think that anything shorter than a marathon would really do it, so I signed up for the Sir Titus Trot. I was supposed to run the race (half-marathon distance) but picked up an injury before the race. This year was not to be either as the government pulled the race licence 48 hours before.

By that point, I was ready to race, though, so I decided to turn it into a self-supported marathon.

It was bright and sunny when I set off but still cold. The grass was frozen which made for a nice surface. I turned around just after Apperley Bridge and headed back to the car park to pick up more supplies. On the way back, the ground was a little muddier as the sun melted it. And then the snow arrived. It settled on most of the canal making it a bit slippy under foot.

As I got back to Leeds it cleared up and I set off toward Skelton Grange bridge for the final out and back. By this point at the Yorkshire marathon I was dying, but I felt good this time. The final quarter hurt about the same as the third quarter, which is not insignificant, but manageable compared to how the fourth quarter felt! I realised I could set a PB if I put in a fast final few kilometres and finished in:

3:55:33

That is 1:44 seconds faster than my previous PB. And that was in the snow without trying (for example, I stopped to take a selfie). That said, I was wearing my Nike Vaporfly Next%, so what are records now that I should be running 4% faster because of the shoes?

In any case, a great way to begin 2021.

Alps to Ocean virtual ultra

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020 | Sport

Yesterday I finished the Alps to Ocean virtual ultra running challenge. It’s set in New Zealand and, not surprisingly, takes you from the mountains down to the coast. Not all of it is on Google Street View so the views are not as good as they otherwise might be. There are a couple of postcards along the way. Total distance 289.7 km which I completed in a leisurely 87 days.

This is the fourth Conqueror “ultra” I’ve done, plus GVRAT and three “real-world” ultras. I had only done two until 2020 started but it’s been that kind of year.

Running For Beginners group

Sunday, December 27th, 2020 | Sport

Over on Facebook, I founded a Running For Beginners group to help new runners gain confidence and ask questions. At the start of the year, we had just 100 members.

What a difference 2020 has made. The group has exploded in popularity and now boasts over 3,000 runners supporting each other, asking and answering questions and sharing their stories.

If you are into running and want to share your wisdom with new runners, or maybe ask a question or two yourself, feel free to join us in the group.

1,000 miles of running

Saturday, December 26th, 2020 | Sport

A few weeks ago, I was chatting to my friend Lucy who mentioned she was closing in on running 1,000 miles in 2020. Just out of interest I checked my stats and I found I was around 90 kilometres short of the 1,609 kilometres that represents the 1,000-mile mark!

Thanks to an early morning run on Chrismas Day, I crossed the virtual finish line. 50% of the work was done during May and June while I was completing in the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee, but it was nice to finish the year strong too.