Archive for the ‘Running’ Category

Run 39 Is An Interval Session

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Day 39 of my running streak is the first Interval session for the year.

Up until now I have been getting out and doing a moderate to slow run each day covering distances from 6 to 12 km. While this is great for maintaining my fitness and continuing on the streak from one day to the next I have felt that it is doing nothing to actually improve my times.

In the past the inclusion of regular interval sessions has had an immediate impact on my running times. It has also made my standard daily runs noticeably easier to complete. I am hoping for the same result here.

Because I haven’t done a speed session in quite a few months I opted to go back to basics and do the shortest possible Interval session that I felt would still be beneficial to my longer term plans and that is the following…

The session:

2 km warm up
8 x 400m efforts @90-96 secs
200m intervals in between
3.5 km warm down

Shoes: Asics Gel Hyper Speed 5

Doing this intervals session gave me a chance to use the Intervals function on my new Garmin Forerunner 610 watch. I thought it might cause a few difficulties in getting it set up but, as it turned out, it was simplicity itself. I will detail how I used the watch below.

My aim is to incorporate a speed session of some type into the week, preferably on either Wednesday or Thursday. Although I am starting with a 400m interval session I expect to change it up as I go along with 800m sessions, fartlek and hill interval sessions for some variety.

Up until now this year the training speed of most of my runs has settled around the 4:50 to 5:00 pace per kilometre. I would ideally like to improve this pace to somewhere around the 4:40 to 4:50 mark and I believe the best way to do this is to incorporate a regular speed session into my running week.

Setting the Garmin 610 For An Intervals Workout

For anyone who has never set their Garmin 610 up to do an intervals session, here are the steps I took.

Swipe to bring up the stopwatch
Press the blue bars at the bottom of the watch face to bring up the Menu page.
Select Training
Scroll down to Workouts and select
Select Intervals
Select Edit Workout and then go through and set up your preferred session. For me the setting I chose were
Type: Distance (you can also choose to base it on time)
Distance: 0.40km
Rest Type: Distance
Rest Distance: 0.20km
Reps: 8
Warmup: Yes
Cooldown: Yes

Once the Intervals session was set I was ready to go (I set up the session well in advance of my run). When it came time to run I simply walked outside, waited until the satellite was acquired and then went back into the Training –> Workouts –> Intervals function and selected Do Workout. This brought up the stopwatch function.

After a quick stretch I simply pressed the Start/Stop button and the Warmup part of my run commenced. This captured the time and distance of my warm up as I made my way to where I was going to start my intervals.

Once I arrived at the start I merely had to press the Lap/Reset button and I was underway. My watch display is set up to show a countdown of the distance covered as well as what Rep I was currently doing. As I neared the end of my first effort and alarm beeped for the final 5 seconds and then the end of the 400m was announced with a vibration alarm.

The end of the 400m effort marked the beginning of my 200m recovery and this counted down as I slowly jogged through to the start of the next effort. Again, as I closed in on the end of my recovery distance I was given the same countdown beep so I could get myself up to speed at the start of the next effort.

This process was repeated through the entire workout and when I had completed my 8th recovery the session moved smoothly into the cool down phase and my time and distance were again captured and displayed. When I had completed my cool down jog I simply had to press the Start/Stop button to finish the workout.

This made the process of timing my intervals far simpler than with my previous watch which required me to press the button to start the session, press it again at the end of my first effort, press it again to start the next effort, press it again to end the next effort and so on.

Run 38 Was A Little Bit Loco

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Date: 23 January 2013
No of Streak Days: 38
No of Kilometres Covered: 367.5km

Run 38 in my running streak was a little different to the ordinary daily grind. It started off with a relaxing jog around the Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens and ended at the Sydney Opera House. We were told to bring some money with us because we were planning an extended break on the Opera House forecourt.

The break was planned so that we might dine at the El Loco Pop-Up Restaurant at Sydney Opera House forecourt. The more official details about the cantina are provided below.

El Loco, the much-loved Surry Hills Mexican cantina themed restaurant will be “popping up” on the western forecourt of the Opera House this January as part of the “Summer at the House” promotion. This series of shows includes ground breaking theatre productions ranging from cutting edge and genre-defying entertainment to stadium spectaculars, all part of this year’s Sydney Festival.

For $6 we were able to enjoy a taste of Mexico with a choice of tacos, nachos or hot dogs with an array of hot to mild sauces, depending on your taste. I chose a prawn taco and a chicken taco and washed them down with a couple of bottles of Corona. Certainly one of the best ways to spend the halfway mark of a run that I have had in quite a while.

The food was very nice and the location, with the Harbour Bridge behind my left shoulder and the Opera House right there in front of me was perfect. Although it started off a little breezy when we sat down, by the end of our lunch the sun had started to peep through from behind the clouds and it was starting to warm up.

I always make sure I have applied plenty of suncream when I go for my runs but I noticed that if I had have forgotten it wouldn’t have been a problem. Sitting on the serving bar of the cantina were a couple of heavy duty containers of suncream (SPF15+) to ensure that diners weren’t going to be leaving with a sunburn.

If you’re in Sydney any time up until the end of the Sydney Festival (January 28) it would be well worth your while to visit the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House and try out the food from El Loco.

The 2013 Running Streak Goes On With Run 37

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Date: 22 January 2013
No of Streak Days: 37
No of Kilometres Covered: 360.3km

The 37th run in my running streak has been completed and it took the form of a 10.5km run around Sydney at lunch time. The conditions were pretty steamy with a stiff nor’easter hitting us at certain points on the course. With the promise of afternoon thunderstorms in the forecast it has to be said that the day was a more traditional summer’s day in Sydney.

Because I took it fairly easily yesterday I wasn’t too concerned about pushing the pace a little more at the end of today’s run. That being said, the overall time was nothing flash at over 51 minutes.

The total number of kilometres covered for the year to date is now at 221.8km and I am still feeling pretty fresh which (hopefully) means I am looking after myself pretty well.

Tomorrow is a planned rest day in which I expect to be running only 5km or so with the inclusion of some refreshments at the Sydney Opera House for lunch. This will be my first attendance of a 2013 Sydney Festival event for the year.

More on this tomorrow…

Run Every Day For A Year in 2013 – First Update

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Date: 20 January 2013
No of Streak Days: 35
No of Kilometres Covered: 340.6km

After the first 20 days of the year I am pleased to report that my running streak is in tact. Add the last 15 days of 2012 to the 20 days in a row that I have run in 2013 and my running streak is up to 35 days in a row. This is significant for a guy who, up until this challenge had only run 5 or 6 days in a row at the most.

It all feels a bit too easy at this stage because the weather has been good and there have been no competing events to try to juggle my way around. I have been off work for two weeks and this has proven to be a stroke of good fortune too. Here in Sydney we have had 2 days where the temperature has risen beyond the 40 degree mark but because I was able to get out of bed at 5:30 both mornings I was well and truly finished with running before the temperature rose beyond 23 degrees.

I am tipping that as the weather deteriorates, the kids go back to school and weekend sports impinge on my time I am going to have to put in some careful planning.

Speaking of going for early morning runs. I know that most people swear by getting out of bed early and going for a refreshing run to start the day…and I have enjoyed it for the two weeks that I have been doing it. However, I have always run at lunchtime as part of my workday routine and have found that it fit in well with my body’s metabolism and, for want of a better word, biorhythm.

Getting out of bed early is not a problem for me. Getting the muscles warm and ready for a run is another matter. I’ve found that no matter how much stretching I do before my early morning run it still takes a few kilometers before they concede that they are willing to put in the necessary effort.

I guess I am a noonday runner and that’s the way it is going to be.

It has already become apparent that it is vital that the right balance between distance and pace is found. While the run every day challenge goes on I am still going to be trying to train for events throughout the year. As a result it would be nice if I saw some improvements in my times. The balancing act comes in ensuring that I don’t overdo the training which will result in me exhausting myself or leaving my body prone to breaking down.

My rest days still involve going for a run but both the distance and the pace have to be reduced. Funnily enough, as I have gone further into this challenge I have found it quite easy to do a slow, short run every now and then.

Anyway, back at work this week and I will be back to running in the middle of the day with a choice of running partners. This means I will be returning to some semblance of normalcy in terms of fitting my runs into my daily routine.

Running Every Day In 2013 – The Build Up

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

REDFAY 2013Before attempting to run every day for a year I have used the last couple of months to have a test run to see just how hard it was going to be. The results were not particularly encouraging.

The first attempt at the start of November resulted in a streak of 9 days. Four days into the streak I came down with my first cold in around 2 years. This was never going to seriously hamper my running efforts but then, another 5 days later I suffered a back injury that stopped me dead.

I have been prone to the occasional back injury that is usually triggered by heavy lifting. In this case, the back started to stiffen up out of nowhere in the afternoon and by the evening I was unable to completely straighten up when I stood up.

So apart for a test run to gauge how the back was recovering, my running was put on hold for 8 days.

At the start of December I had another attempt at running every day. And I did…for 5 days. When the weekend hit I had to travel to Newcastle for one of my kid’s sports and failed to get out for a run. Attempt two petered out.

The next Monday heralded my third attempt and I was able to run every day…until the next weekend and once again, it all proved too difficult to schedule a run. When I missed the run on Saturday I chose not to run on Sunday either. Attempt 3 was a fizzer and it was all starting to look way too difficult.

Attempt four started on December 17 and this time I was determined to make it count. There were 15 days left until the end of 2012 and while 15 days is way, way short of the planned 365 days, it would at least take me through two weekends plus Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

With a couple of days to go to complete the year it appears as though attempt 4 has managed to take hold. Thirteen days of running in a row is more consecutive days than I have ever run before. I still feel quite fresh and am looking forward to the start of the year.

To get through Christmas I asked my wife (who wakes early every day) to kick me out of bed at 5:30. She was only too happy to oblige and I was up and running before the rest of the world woke up and had finished my run well before 6:30.

I have also been further motivated by a couple of recent purchases. I have just bought a pair of Merrell Road Glove barefoot shoes which I have already mentioned in my previous post. But most significantly I have ordered a new Garmin Forerunner 610 GPS Sports Watch and am currently waiting for it to arrive. This is a pretty whizz-bang watch and can’t wait to get ahold of it and see it in action.

Logging my runs, comparing them to other runners and sharing it online is going to open up a whole new dimension to my runs. Far more importantly, I will now be able to clearly see my running times because the display will be unimpeded from watch hands which is what currently happens with my (poorly designed) G-Shock.

So the upshot of this post is to say that I am quietly confident I can put in a good effort with my upcoming running streak for 2013. As a means of keeping tabs on myself I intend on logging my progress here, if not every day then at least weekly.

To keep track of how I am progressing you can read the updates here:

First Update


Minimalist Running Starts In 2013

Friday, December 28th, 2012

The year of minimalist running is nearly upon me. As we rush headlong into 2013 I have taken it upon myself to move into the next phase of my transition to minimalist running by buying a pair of Merrell Road Gloves. These are true minimalist running shoes with 0mm difference between the heel and the toe. I don’t see myself ever moving to the point of becoming a barefoot runner, but I like the idea of running with as little change to the way in which my foot hits the ground. The Merrell Road Glove should provide me with that.

Here’s a look at the shoe in question.

Merrell Road Glove

Earlier in the year I bought myself a pair of Asics Hyper Speed 5 shoes as a first foray into the minimalist realm. These shoes have a 4mm drop from the heel to the toe. To date I have run 185km in the shoes and have gone through the process of adjusting my running style to the shoes. I have also endured the painful calves as my body has begun to adapt to the different style.

I expect the calves to go through the same transition process again over the next few weeks as they continue to adapt and strengthen.

What I plan on doing is start off taking them for runs over shorter distances, from 4km to 6km, so that I don’t put too much pressure on my legs too quickly. I also plan to only wear the shoes once every three runs. This should allow me to get used to the different stresses placed on my legs and will also, hopefully, allow my legs to recover in between runs.

For the coming year I have already said that I wanted to attempt the challenge of running every day for a year so I will have plenty of opportunities for breaking the shoes in. It should also help me speed up the process of allowing my muscles to get used to the shoes and provide plenty of practice running with a new style. Unfortunately, not long after I began my first trial attempt at running every day I developed a back injury that not only prevented me from running but also from walking and even standing upright.

I’m not sure whether the back injury was related to the tightness in my calves and hamstrings from wearing the new Hyper Speeds or was completely unrelated but my back gradually improved after around 4 or 5 days. So my first effort of trying to run every day resulted in a streak of 9 days in a row.

I have now embarked on a second attempt and am currently sitting on a streak of 12 days in a row. This gives me three more days of running until the beginning of 2013 when the year of running officially begins.

My Asics Hyper Speed 5 Shoes After One Month

Friday, November 16th, 2012

I am fast closing in on the end of the first month with my new Asics Gel Hyper Speed 5 shoes and felt it was a good time for a little bit of reflection on how they have gone. What I have attempted to do is gradually transition across to shoes that have a reduced drop compared to what are considered to be traditional running shoes. In the case of these shoes the difference between the height of the heel and the toe is 6mm.

From October 19, which was the first day I wore the shoes on a run, until November 16 I have gone for 18 runs and have worn the shoes 9 times. This has allowed some time for my legs to recover from the different cushioning and running style that I am experiencing with the new shoes. The total distance covered in the new shoes so far is currently 83km.

Have I noticed a difference when running in these shoes? You bet I have. The anticipated calf pain has happened and this can be attributed to two factors. The first is obviously the new shoes and this is why it is crucial that I am careful in the frequency with which I wear them. The second would have to do with the changes I have made to my running style.

In the past my running style has always been to land more towards the rear of my foot and I occasionally notice that I lean slightly backwards. The recommended running style is to lean forwards more, reduce the stride length and pick the feet up higher. This combination acts to get me more onto my toes when I run. Suddenly I’m using my calf muscles in a different way and this is causing them a little bit of stress.

While the calf pain is noticeable it has to be said that it is only slight pain. Switching back to my old shoes for every other run gives me immediate relief and I’m ready for my next run in the new shoes. So no problem there.

About a week ago I developed a hamstring twinge while on a 10km run. I was running with someone who was a slightly faster runner than me and found myself working hard at times to keep up with him. It was during one of those efforts that my hamstring twinged and, with around 1.5km to go I had to back right off.

I took the next day off running and went for a short test run on the next day. By keeping my stride length quite short I managed to get through my trial run without any pain so I felt I was okay to continue running.

Fortunately I haven’t had a recurrence of the injury and have been able to carry on with my running.

All in all I would have to say that my first venture into more minimally soled shoes has been a success. The shoes are incredibly light and are comfortable to wear. Once my muscles have had a chance to get themselves adapted I reckon I can move onto the next phase in my transition to minimalist shoes.

Run Every Day For A Year

Friday, November 16th, 2012

REDFAY 2013I’ve got to admit when it comes to my running I love a challenge. The stupider the challenge, often times, the better I like it. So when a new challenge was suggested for the new year I couldn’t help but seriously consider giving it a red hot go.

The challenge is to attempt to run every day for a year in 2013 (now referred to as REDFAY 2013).

On the surface of it, it sounds like a reasonably simple challenge. But the discipline required to get out and do a few miles each and every day will be extreme.

I’ve always thought I was a regular runner and didn’t really miss a lot of days, but when I looked back over the last couple of months’ worth of running I was shocked at how many days I missed. Taking just the last month I have run on only 19 days out of 31…and I thought I was running very regularly!

So…running every day for a year. Is it going to be possible?

The first thing to do is specify what qualifies as a run. It’s got to be long enough to classify as a run of any benefit or substance, so a 100m job is not going to do it. If I make the qualification too long, though, I’m definitely not going to achieve more than a few days.

I think a run that lasts for at least 15 minutes is a fair enough minimum goal. This means the shortest run I will do will be at least 3km.

I’d like to think I’d at least get a few months into the year before I missed a day but it will require some planning, not to mention some practice.

The practice part of the plan involves starting today and using the rest of the year as an opportunity to try to get into the daily running discipline.

My running log has been set up to automatically format the background to green to indicate a day that I have run and red for a day that I have not run. I am hoping to get a nice solid block of green from today onward.

Interestingly, there is already an official body known as Streak Runners International, Inc. and United States Running Streak Association, Inc. which provides a quarterly newsletter, certification of your running streak once it passes the year mark and membership. It gives you the chance to feel as though you are part of a club and makes the achievement official. Their website can be found here.

From the looks of it, the certification process is very much on the honesty system and, let’s face it, there really is little to gain by lying. You simply enter the date of your first running day as well as the date of your last or, that the streak is ongoing. And you take it from there. There is a very good quarterly newsletter produced by SRI/USRSA which you get if you join the club although back issues can be downloaded from the site. It appears to be a very supportive group of runners – the type of thing anyone looking to fulfil a long-term goal would need.

I didn’t run yesterday so my first attempt at a running streak officially starts today. Because I haven’t really ever attempte to run any number of specific days in a row – I’ve always been a “rest day is key” runner – my first goal is to make it to one week and go from there. I can anticipate that the weekend is going to be the most difficult because I have only ever set aside one of the two days for a run.

Let my running streak begin.

First Run In My Asics Hyper Speed 5 Shoes

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

I went for my first run in my new Asics Hyper Speeds today. First runs are always an adventure particularly when you are wearing a new type of shoe. Although I’m a long time Asics wearer this is the first time I have worn running shoes with such a low differential between the heel and the toe.

The run was a 10km regular run that I do around once a week and it is an urban course that includes stairs and a few reasonably steep and challenging hills. I spent a good part of the first half of the run monitoring myself as I ran, particularly my calves. But there was no need to worry, my legs felt good and the shoes performed well.

One interesting thing that I noticed at the end of the run was the tingling feeling underneath each of my toes. This is a sure sign that I was striking and pushing off more on my toes than I have in my other shoes. Good news for me.

The important thing I was trying to remind myself as I ran was to keep my stride length a little shorter than I was used to. I also found myself tending to lean back a little too far if I wasn’t concentrating properly. It all comes down to retraining the body to run with a new style. The natural form. This is obviously going to take a little time to get used to it but I can see that shortening my stride so that it doesn’t extend beyond my centre of gravity is going to be of benefit for the future.

All of my other Asics have been a size 11 but I found I had to buy the Hyper Speeds in a size 11.5. The toe box in these shoes is noticeably narrower than other Asics shoes I have worn and definitely wouldn’t suit anyone with a sider foot (although the shoe is available in a D width).

So, the bottom line, I have worn these shoes for 11km and there have been no issues or discomfort noted yet.

The shoes can be found for sale at a very reasonable price at Amazon.


The Great Shoe Debate – Traditional v Minimalist

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

No matter what the subject is, people love to debate. Everyone knows best, particularly those who know the least but think they know it all! The same is true when it comes to the debate over whether we should be moving towards minimalist running shoes.

Personally, I’m prepared to be a convert.

As I am getting older I am spending far more time just trying to ensure my body is able to stand up to the daily rigors of running. Fortunately, because I’ve been running relatively injury free for over 25 years I’m not actually battling any chronic injuries, but this doesn’t mean I’m always running pain free.

The possibility that there are benefits from wearing shoes that allow the feet to move more naturally when running excites me and I am interested in learning more. Minimal running shoes have flooded the market and the technology is really only in its infancy. But the shoes that I have seen so far have been very interesting.

Everything I have read makes a lot of sense, particularly the argument that our feet have been specifically designed for running without excessive cushioning features. The reality is that there is just over 30 years of running shoe technology telling us to wear cushioned and structured shoes compared to millions of years of either bare feet or unstructured shoes. Running related injuries are a more recent phenomenon and while it coincides with the explosion in recreational running, it also has not abated with the innovation of running shoes with more cushioning and special features.

I’m ready to start wearing shoes that contain less blown rubber cushioning and a far shallower drop from heel to toe. If it means that a slight change to my running form is required then I’m prepared to do it.

I have already gone out and bought myself a pair of Asics Hyper Speed 5 shoes. Although they are not minimalist running shoes per se they feature a small difference between the height of the heel and the toe. Over the next few weeks, and possibly months, I intend on transitioning from the more traditional type of running shoe to minimal shoes with the aim to reach a zero drop shoe sometime next year.

Where these shoes provide me with a good transition is in the heel to toe differential which is 6mm. The Stack Height of the Hyperspeed is 21mm at the heel and 15mm at the forefoot. Obviously this gives me quite a way to go before I am encroaching on a true minimal shoe.

As well as being available in the black with orange flashes the shoe can also be bought in a green with blue flashes.

The Asics Gel Hyper Speed 5 is available for sale at Amazon

The Transitional Shoe Possibilities

Going from a traditional running shoe straight to an out-and-out minimal shoe is a recipe for disaster…or at least, for some really, really sore calves and Achilles’. The strong recommendation is to go through a transition phase where you wear shoes with a flatter sole but still have some differential between the height of the heel and the toe. Exercises and form adjustments are also recommended (natural form).

But first the shoes.

As already mentioned, the Asics Hyper Speed 5 shoes give me a move towards a transitional shoe.

Shoes that I have my eye on for a further move into the genre include the Inov-8 Road-X 233 which is a significant transitional shoe because of the heel to toe drop of 6mm. Given that the standard difference between the height of the heel and the height of the toe is around 12mm or more this shoe is a good starting point in moving towards running more on my mid to forefeet. Pictured below is the Inov-8 Road-X 233 with the grey and lime green colours. The shoe is also available in white and red.

Buy this shoe from Amazon

Another pair of shoes that also have a reduced heel to toe differential is the Mizuno Wave Universe 4 shoes that has a 4mm drop (18mm at the heel to 14mm at the toe). This is a running shoe that has been designed primarily as a racing flat and it is for runners who are planning to run fast. The 4mm drop represents a reasonable shoe to be used in the transitional phase. It is an incredibly lightweight shoe and the only concern I have is that if it is a racing flat, there is a good chance that it will wear out quicker than a shoe designed as a training shoe.

The shoe is available in a choice of three different colour combinations. The version displayed below is Vibrant Orange but you can also get them in Royal Purple & Lime Green or Spicy Red & Silver.

The Mizuno Wave Universe 4 is available from Amazon here

What I’m Hoping To Wear

The shoes that I am heading towards at the moment are the Merrell Road Glove, the Newton MV2 and the New Balance Minimus Road 00. I fully expect that by the time my body is ready to slip on a pair of these shoes there will be something else on the market and will seriously consider that as well.

What I plan to do here, on this site, is to document my progress from the traditional shoes I have been wearing to more minimal shoes. Whether I actually reach zero drop minimal shoes and am able to run in them on a regular basis remains to be seen. What also remains to be seen is the impact they will have on my body and my ability to continue running injury-free.

What I Wore Before

What I will point out right now is that the shoes I was wearing before I bought the Hyper Speeds was a pair of Asics Gel 1150s. Given that these shoes were around in 2010 and we are now closing in on the end of 2012 I have certainly gotten my money’s worth from them.

I have intentionally continued to wear these shoes beyond the manufacturer’s recommended replacement mileage because, quite frankly, I don’t believe their line that running on old shoes will promote injury. They still feel comfortable but, as can be seen by the photo, the outer last has completely worn away at the toe and there’s not a lot left at other points.

So the shoes will soon be retired – if the 1170s are simply upgraded versions of the 1150s I highly recommend them.

What these old shoes did prove to me was that I didn’t really need all of the fancy cushioning and support that a brand new shoe could offer. In the end the old shoes were molded to the shape of my feet, they were worn down from the kms I had run and they were starting to get mushy. In a way, I had already started the transition to a shoe with a much lower stack height.

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