Posts Tagged ‘running’

EveryMayDay 10k challenge

Sunday, May 31st, 2020 | Sport

Every day this month, a team of runners (including myself) have been running 10km each day to raise money for the World Health Organisation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. We are aiming to reach £10,000 and, at time of writing, are already over £9,000.

Click here to support us on JustGiving.

It’s been a tough month. I don’t run anywhere near 70km a week, so it was a big uplift. Typically, they say do not increase your mileage by more than 10%. But if anyone actually did that, how would ultramarathons get done? I did take it easy at the start: most limiting myself to 10km and some days were super slow. Every run involved some running, but some “recovery dates” were mostly walking.

Towards the end, I picked up the distance a bit as I wanted to reach 400 km total for the month (I am also clocking up mileage for the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee). So, the final week was made up of a lot of 15 km runs and reaching 401 km by today meant I have averaged just under 13 km per day. Not bad, although nothing compared to the superhumans I was running with, several of whom knocked out marathons today.

My body has mostly held up. I’ve been done strength and stretching exercises every day. My left ankle is not happy but it does not feel serious. I can still run on it once I warm up. Calf muscles are fine. Mostly, I am just tired. I think I have been eating enough and I have gone through several cases of energy drinks, but I still find I am lacking energy. I haven’t lost any weight, either.

Well done to everyone who completed the challenge and thanks for your support. It has been a pleasure running with you all.

Hadrian’s Wall virtual ultramarathon

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020 | Sport

On Monday, I finished the Hadrian’s Wall virtual ultramarathon. 144.8 km in 11 days. But, before I brag too much, there are a couple of caveats.

It was a virtual event, so it’s not like running a real ultra: you get to sleep in your own bed each night and have plenty of recovery time between runs.

Second, I’m already running the Great Virtual Race Across Tennesse. Both events explicitly say you can run in two virtual races at the same time, so I decided to join this one in case I fail to finish GVRAT, which has a strict cut-off and much longer distance.

Full disclosure over, I’m looking forward to my medal turning up.

Meanwood Valley Trail

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020 | Sport

It’s day six of #EveryMayDay 10k for the COVID-19 relief fund. Today, I headed up to Woodhouse Ridge. I lived in Woodhouse for two years but I never knew it was there. In my defence, I wasn’t running much at the time. Since then, I’ve only made one trip as it’s not right outside my house (and the canal is). Having to get plenty of running in, I decided it was time for a proper explore.

The ridge itself is nice, with plenty of trees that you can immerse yourself in. As you follow the Meanwood Valley Trail up follow some dirt paths, ginnels and streets until you arrive at Meanwood Valley Park. I got as far as the top before turning around.

May races

Friday, May 1st, 2020 | Sport

Tomorrow would have been Tour de Yorkshire. Instead, we’ve got an email confirming at World Triathlon Leeds has been upgraded from postponed to cancel. But not all is lost.

Everymayday 10k

As a fundraiser for the WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Relief Fund, we’re running 10km every day throughout May. That adds up to 310km in total, which is 7.3 marathons. I don’t feel super-prepared as it’s a higher weekly mileage than I usually do. But might be doable with plenty of easy runs and some run-walks, or just plain walks.

Find out more on the JustGiving page.

The Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee

From the mind of Gary Cantrell, creator of the Barkley Marathons, comes this virtual race. 1,021 kilometres from one corner of Tennessee to the other. Still, you have four months to complete it, which means you need to average 8.3km per day.

My original target was to do half of the distance. I think 500km is still a good crack at it. But, if I get through the #everymayday challenge, who knows. The important thing is that you get the t-shirt just for starting.

You still have time to sign up if you fancy the challenge.

Garmin activities not uploading

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020 | Tech

If you watch is syncing with Garmin Connect or Garmin Express, but not appearing in Garmin Connect, it could be that the activity has corrupted.

You can fix this by plugging your Garmin watch into your computer, browsing to Device/Garmin/ACTIVITY and finally finding the .FIT file. Try uploading this to Garmin Connect manually. If it says unsupported file type, you know you have a corrupt file.

Take it to Fit File Tools and run it through their fit file fixer. Download the result and try re-uploading it to Garmin Connect. Hopefully, it should be accepted this time.

Endure: Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020 | Books

Endure: Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance is a book by Alex Hutchinson.

It’s an interesting book for understanding the limits of human performance from both a physical and psychological point of view. Not that all questions are resolved. But there is plenty of discussion.

Below, I have picked out a few points.

Typically, you don’t run yourself to exhaustion. Your brain stops you before you reach that point. And that starts from the minute you start exercising. For example, cyclists set off slower from the start on a hot day.

But when you get in sight of the finish, you know the danger is over and you can sprint. Hence we can be hurting so much until the final straight, at which point we find that last bit of energy to push across the line.

How does this work? Is there some kind of internal regulation in the brain that we are not consciously aware of? Or is there another explanation? For example, could we be tapping into anaerobic energy?

It seems likely that the brain does have some control. For example, everyone finishes a marathon in just under 3, 4, 5 hours. Only the brain can respond to these abstract concepts. So why do so many more people finish a marathon in 3:59 than 3:47?

Similarly, how is it that the limit that climbing a mountain without oxygen turns out to be almost exactly the high of Everest? If Everest was a little smaller, or a little larger, would it turn out that the limits of climbing without oxygen were different also? It seems likely given that it was thought to be impossible until Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler did it. Then they changed the sums to show it was just possible.

Finally, a note on hydration. We often hear the idea that if you wait until you are thirsty, it is too late. But voluntary dehydration seems to be fine in the short term. Top marathon runners sweat more than 3.5 litres per hour. They replace nowhere near this much. If our performance drastically drops when we lose 2% of our body weight, how did Gebrselassie become an Olympic champion when losing 10% of his body weight? That is not to say drinking to thirst is the perfect strategy for running a marathon: but it does seem to be fine for everyday life.

Virtual parkrun PB attempt

Saturday, April 25th, 2020 | Sport

The lockdown seems like a good excuse to do some fast running. And, now that I have decided that I can live with the Nike Next%, I was eager to see if they really could reduce my 5km PB time. So, I decided to go out early Tuesday morning while it was still cool.

I felt crap when I got up. I didn’t think about abandoning, but I did think “remember this feeling for the next time you’re feeling crap, in case you ace it”. The weather was pretty good: nice and cool but there was also a strong headwind on the finishing straight.

I jogged up there but had to come down to a walk on Clarendon Road because the shoes were really digging into my feet. As I reached the top, it eased off a bit, and I figured it was going to hurt a lot anyway, so I might as well give it a go. After a few minutes sit down in the park, I counted down from 10 and set off.

My first kilometre came in at 4:08. After that, I had to back off a little as my chest started to burn. My previous PB was 22:06, so even on a great day, sub-21 was unlikely. Therefore, anything near 4:12 was acceptable. I settled in around the 4:20s, which I was fine with as even a 22:30 would show I could still run at around my best.

As each kilometre went by, where my watch said I was and where I knew the parkrun markers would be, drifted apart. I had specifically turned GLONASS on, as well as GPS, to get a more accurate reading but it was to no avail.

As I fit the final straight I smashed into the wind and felt like I was sprinting while simultaneously feeling like I was slowing down. I crossed roughly where the parkrun finish line is at 21:06, although I had to keep running to 21:29 until my watch registered 5km.

21:06

Which was one was correct? I’m going with the official parkrun course, which I assume they have carefully measured. It was a clear day, though, so there should have been a good satellite signal.

After the run, I collapsed on the grass and took 5-10 minutes before I could get up and walk again. Based on the parkrun line time, I was exactly 60 seconds faster than my previous PB. At 4%, the shoes would give me 53 seconds. That means I was the other 7 seconds of improvement. Or at 5%, 67 seconds, in which case I lost 7 seconds. But either way, my fast running is still in good shape. Of course, it is easier without the crowds, too.

And that’s the story of how I got up before 9am for the first time since the lockdown started.

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.