Wednesday, 31 March 2010

catching up on the news

I've been a little busy, and not writing here. Sorry if you've been looking for news.  Quick recap: the week after the CPC, I ran 30k in Rotterdam, covering a large part of the course. I started late enough in the day that it got too dark for me to feel safe running alone in unfamiliar neighbourhoods. When the rain started, I ran to the train station and went home, feeling quite satisfied with my effort.  The trouble is that I'm short on the assigned distance (which was the full 42) and I missed some of the earlier long runs that were assigned in January and February. My coach hadn't assigned any interval training either. So, that adds up to going into this feeling a tad under-prepared.

Last weekend was busy.  I  ran 800m repeats for 10k on Saturday and then cycled for 2 hrs/40k on Sunday.  Rest Monday, Swam Tuesday and goofed around with the BOSU today (steps, squats, balancing things that made my son laugh with me and try a turn too).

My running coach finally got his email organised, responded to my half marathon report, and (finally) understood the course pacing limits for the Rotterdam marathon that is a week from Sunday.  He gave me some much-appreciated positive strokes for my effort with the Half.
"Wow, what an experience.  This was a success in many ways.  You found that even though you wanted to quit and the forces were conspiring against you to finish--that you could could push on and finish.
 You ran faster despite a lower level of training and other challenges.  You have the will power of a true athlete.  I am very proud of you!!
 Big lesson to both of us--know what the cutoff time is before entering the race. 
 I look forward to working on a strategy for Rotterdam."
So the strategy is for me to try some different run/walk ratios over one km.

Here's his advice:
"Sorry to hear about the course pace constraints in Rotterdam.  I believe that it is possible to stay ahead of the closure time.
The challenge is that you only did 30K on your last long run.  That is what determines your current "wall".   But you have a good base of training.
Practice a variety of ratios on your short runs to see how you can maintain the 7:50 needed to avoid the course closing.  The more walking you can do during the first 12K, the more fatigue you will erase.
Try three different ratios, on the same measured kilometer.  Try a 15/45, 20/40, 30/30.  Tell me what you get with each.
We will come up with a plan, together."
I remain sceptical of the very short walk/run intervals, but I will give it a try. I found a track that's not too far away (where I had the POSE method coaching session last Friday). So I can go back there.

The marathon will be one big adventure!  My plan is to run it and finish it, on my own watch if necessary. Stay tuned!   Rule No. 1: don't talk to the sweepers.  Rule No. 2: Remember Rule No. 1.

Friday, 26 March 2010

POSE running links

Consider these words of wisdom from John Parker’s Once a Runner, a cult classic novel about
a collegiate miler:
A runner is a miser, spending the 
pennies of his energy with great stinginess, constantly
wanting to know how much he has spent and how much
longer he will be expected to pay. He wants to be broke
precisely the moment he no longer needs his coin.

The Pose

POSE:  work with, rather than against, the natural forces at play in nonsprint running. Gravity, ground reaction, muscle elasticity, muscle contraction, torque, and momentum are the key factors. 

1) posture (hips forward, arms close in, up, shoulders over hips)
2) fall (movement is the destruction of balance)
3)  pull (squeeze the orange



I like my BOSU and I'm putting this link on my blog to find my way back to this article. It offers some modifications that can help me.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Garmin Connect - Activity Details for City Pier City: 2:34

Garmin Connect - Activity Details for Untitled

I ran a personal best for the Half M in my new bra, without ill effects. I did however make a poor choice in running shorts. I couldn't find the shorts I really wanted to wear (they must be put away for the winter or something), and I grabbed an old pair I hadn't used in five years. As I ran out the house to catch the tram to the start, the shorts rolled up my thighs. I now have an awful rub rash and spent half the race hiking the damn things down.

I'm still processing the race and will reflect and write more later. One lesson learned is don't talk to the guy in the sweeper car. They "closed" the course at 14k and at 13K told me I was "te laat" - that my time wasn't going to be recorded. Closing the course meant that they took down the barricades and reopened the roads to traffic. I was only about a minute behind the official pace bikes bringing up the rear. But it took a tremendous toll on my spirit. To make it worse, this part of the course took me within a few blocks of my house. Part of me (a big part) wanted to quit in discouragement. But I pulled it out of my heart, decided that I would record my finish time even if the race officials didn't. And I finished the race. As it turned out, my time was recorded. I got home to find all the SMS messages on my phone. I wasn't too late at all.

I learned a lot about what mental attitude can do to spoil or enhance performance. I felt underprepared going in - I hadn't done any speed work over the winter, missed some long runs, skipped some mid-week runs, and had the problem with my knee. I am grateful to report that my knees felt fabulous throughout the run. Instead, I have a painful blister on my toe. That is NO big deal though.

When I had to decide there and then why I was running that race, I decided it was because I can - a lot of spectators inspired me. Lots of young kids were out cheering on this drab, cold and windy day. I saw a couple double-amputees and many elderly people who cheered me on.

The best part of running the race course behind the janitors was the cheers. There's something special about being tough enough not to quit. The cops held the traffic for me and the small group of die hards who refused to be one of the "Uitvaller", which translates as dropouts. There was a van to pick up the dropouts with that label on the side.

I also thought about the fact that quitting lasts forever. I did it.

Swimming techniques

ather than rewrite other people's ideas, I'm collecting links to useful bits:
A blog post by Tim Ferriss on Total Immersion techniques. Includes video demos.  Tim's top 8 tips:

1) To propel yourself forward with the least effort, focus on shoulder roll and keeping your body horizontal (least resistance), not pulling with your arms or kicking with your legs. This is counter-intuitive but important, as kicking harder is the most universal suggestion for fixing swimming issues.
2) Keep yourself horizontal by keeping your head in line with your spine — you should be looking straight down. Use the same head position as while walking and drive your arm underwater vs. swimming on the surface. See Shinj Takeuchi’s underwater shots at :49 seconds at and Natalie Coughlin’s explanation at :26 seconds. Notice how little Shinji uses his legs; the small flick serves only to help him turn his hips and drive his next arm forward. This is the technique that allows me to conserve so much energy.

3. In line with the above video of Shinji, think of swimming freestyle as swimming on alternating sides, not on your stomach. From the TI Wikipedia page:
“Actively streamline” the body throughout the stroke cycle through a focus on rhythmically alternating “streamlined right side” and “streamlined left side” positions and consciously keeping the bodyline longer and sleeker than is typical for human swimmers.
For those who have rock climbed or done bouldering, it’s just like moving your hip closer to a wall to get more extension. To test this: stand chest to a wall and reach as high as you can with your right arm. Then turn your right hip so it’s touching the wall and reach again with your right arm: you’ll gain 3-6″. Lengthen your vessel and you travel further on each stroke. It adds up fast.
4. Penetrate the water with your fingers angled down and fully extend your arm well beneath your head. Extend it lower and further than you think you should.This downward water pressure on the arms will bring your legs up and decrease drag. It will almost feel like you’re swimming downhill. I highly recommend watching the “Hand Position and Your Balance” video at the top of this page here.
5. Focus on increasing stroke length (SL) instead of stroke rate (SR). Attempt to glide further on each downstroke and decrease the number of strokes per lap.
6. Forget about workouts and focus on “practice.” You are training your nervous system to perform counter-intuitive movements well, not training your aerobic system. If you feel strained, you’re not using the proper technique. Stop and review rather than persist through the pain and develop bad habits.
7. Stretch your extended arm and turn your body (not just head) to breathe.Some triathletes will even turn almost to their backs and face skyward to avoid short gasps and oxygen debt (tip from Dave Scott, 6-time Ironman world champion).

8. Experiment with hand swapping as a drill:
It’s difficult to remember all of the mechanical details while swimming. I short-circuited trying to follow half a dozen rules at once. The single drill that forced me to do most other things correctly is described on pg. 91-92 of the TI book: hand swapping. Coach Laughlin’s observations of the Russian Olympic team practice were a revelation to me.
This is the visualization I found most useful: focus on keeping your lead arm fully extended until your other arm comes over and penetrates the water around the extended arm’s forearm. This encourages you to swim on your sides, extends your stroke length, and forces you to engage in what is referred to as “front quadrant” swimming. All good things. This one exercise cut an additional 3-4 strokes off each lap of freestyle.

Terry Laughlin commented on the post and offered these pointers:

These are focal points for Freestyle:
1) Release your head’s weight to the water, so your head and spine align.
2) Focus more on using your hand to lengthen your bodyline, less on pushing water back.
3) Relax your legs until the kick blends easily with your stroke.
4) Swim more quietly – minimize waves and splash.
5) Count strokes

Saturday, 13 March 2010

ready steady....

I've planned my pace for tomorrow. My goal is to have my time recorded and finish under 2:30.  I picked up my race packet  - the race staging area will be lively and packed tomorrow.
The weather will be cold and windy. I sat with my son during his orchestra practice visualising the race, planning nutrition tonight, tomorrow and  during the race.

I have normal race jitters - which show up as negative self-talk. (haven't trained hard enough etc.). I turned around these thoughts to positive optimism.   This is after all only a training run for the full marathon next month!

I will violate the primary rule of racing - I bought a new running bra which I will wear during the race.  The one I have been using for long runs offer too much compression.  I don't bounce, but I can't breath either. Hopefully this one is a happy compromise.

I spent some time thinking about why I like to race. I only race against myself, mind you. But having a goal organises and motivates my training.  It is not possible to catch up in the  last-minute and "cram" the training  that is needed to adapt and improve over months.  This fact helps me build self-discipline and pride.

I also love the excitement of the fellow athletes and spectators. Mostly I train by myself. So a race is a rare moment to share an activity I love with others. And I love the diversity of participants.  I have learned unique lessons from every race.  Tomorrow I'll tell you all about my second half-marathon.

Friday, 12 March 2010

T-3 City-Pier-City The Hague

T-3 to Sunday's half marathon. I did a little speed work last night for 30 minutes and everything was fine. I wish I was lighter (and faster and .... ) :)

October's HM was a Big Deal. Sunday is a celebration of a year of running races for me - this race was my first 10k), and I'm barely nervous. Again, my goal is to have my time registered - that is, to finish before the time limit of 2:30. That would mean a six minute improvement on my HM time from October. The weather will be cooler so I think I can do it "without too much sweat." I'm hoping my knees agree with me. I've been very nice to them, so they aren't "talking" back to me right now.
here's hoping!

Edited to add: I checked my finish time (see the photo above) I need to cut nine minutes!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

199 days remaining.

I've been busy.  Got the bike out of the garage Saturday and rode with a group of ex pat men. 10k to the meeting point, 25k faster than I've ever ridden (25k/hr), coffee & chatter & 10k home. Lots of fun.

Sunday, 12 hard kilometres on spent legs.  I chose a new route, which made it interesting, and I started far from home, which made sure I did it all. Passing bus stops provoked thoughts of catching a ride, however.

Tuesday night - first tri-coached swim training.  I am now a Total Immersion swimming student.  I had a great time. I have home work to improve my swimming.

Today (Wed.) I relaxed with my kids and watched the linked video.  I'm excited about Sunday's half marathon. Good advice from Judy - think about the training I have done, not the training I did a while ago.

Ideas to swim faster:
  • reduce resistance
  • swim sustainably (not velocity)
  • how easily can I move through the water (not speed) - how can I make my desired pace feel easier?
  • stroke length vs. stroke rate
  • huge opportunity to increase efficiency above current level of three percent
Bottom line: Get better at stream-lining.

Endurance: both mental (a stroke thought for each stroke) and motor endurance

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Bustinskin Middle Distance Triathlon

I'm starting to wrap my head around distances, training, plans. And so on.  My first group swim is Tuesday night.

Race website

Bike Route

Run Route

I road in my first group bike ride today - 10km there & back, 25km with the group.  Fairly intense cardio workout, but my legs feel good.

I will need to learn to ride longer and faster. And figure out how to train for elevation that you just won't find in The Netherlands.  Here's the bike route.

Next week I run the CPC half-marathon, then a marathon distance training run, then my last speed session, then taper until Rotterdam.  I'm excited, but as usual wish I had trained harder.  I always wish that - note to self. Avoid injury. Be conservative. Recognise there is a sag in the middle of training and do it anyway!

Monday, 1 March 2010

1 March - back in the groove

I am glad to report I ran an easy 10k tonight with a 2:1 R W ratio. My knees feel fine. I did have my left shoe tied too tightly and needed to adjust the laces after about 8k, in response to a foot cramp. I reallllllly wanted to run barefoot. But I couldn't risk hurting myself in the dark on the beach where I was running.

I had a wonderful time. Odie my lab ran with me. He spent the week we were in Italy in a "Doggie Hotel" and I think he was glad to go out for a run too.

I am interested in learning the POSE method of running. This evening I watched some videos on the method, including a couple by Dr Romanov - he offered some ideas about hill running, including the idea that our perception creates our reality - that if we think hill running will be difficult, then we will tense up and make it difficult. (His conception of running is to use gravity and body weight to create forward momentum *falling* and then to pick up our feet repeatedly - suddenly you're running.)

Anyway, he explained that using his method, runners with their eyes closed (and a guide) couldn't tell if they were running uphill and found it "normal."  I ran with my eyes closed on the beach tonight (only for about 20 steps...) - though it was dark enough that I needn't have closed my eyes.  At one point the city lights and clouds were reflected in the surface water on the shore. I felt like I was running in the sky.

Well, that's enough esoterica from me.

Run strong!


nutrition totals today
F 100g 47%
C 133g 27%
P 120g 26%

Oh, and I registered for the half marathon next month in The Hague. Without even the slightest hesitation. I can do this.

Home from vacation and back to reality!

Here's a quick update on my knee and a post-ski vacation activity report. On 12 February, my running coach recommended walking my crunchy right knee for a week and asked for an update the following Monday, Feb 15th, which I sent. Despite the recommendation to walk, I took two easy mid-week runs - a slow 3k and then a faster 5k a couple days later. I appear to have escaped any consequences for being pig-headed.

Last week, I enjoyed four days of downhill skiing in the Italian Dolomites. I even got up on a snowboard for half a day.  I ran an easy 5k on Thursday, 25th February (40 min with a 2:1 r:w ratio). And I've been doing sun salutations every night for about 30 minutes. I also swam laps for 45 minutes on Saturday in a delightful pool with my kids in Italy before hoping on the bus.

This weekend's assignment is 12k with a MM. I decided to bump it to Monday due to high winds and driving rain today. Plus I got about four hours sleep on the bus home.  My coach was pleased with my report and suggested limiting the run to 10k without a MM. So that's the plan after work. He cautioned me about "unnatural postures" in yoga, mentioning that runners can hurt themselves. I agree. I don't force myself into any postures. In a yoga class years ago, I hurt my hip in pigeon pose, and it took a very long time to recover.

Sunday I did a cross-fit workout (burpees, push-ups and 500m row - AMRAP in  20 minutes). I completed 4 rounds. The intensity of the workout left me humming for the rest of the day.

My knees are feeling fine - The right one is not making any more shag carpet sounds. During one of my yoga sun salutations last week, my knee cap made a little pop and it felt like it realigned itself. After that, no more noise. Before I left on vacation, I made an appointment with a physiotherapist who also teaches the POSE method of running.  I'm also going to ask her to help me with my shoulder, which has been giving me some pain, especially when lifting weights above my head.
I've come through the doubting stage of marathon training. I won't quit or change my planned distance. I have confidence in myself and I will gut it out. I will discover myself at the finish line. I registered for the CPC Half-Marathon today too. Step by step! 
The last tidbit is a burning desire to buy a new tri specific wet-suit.  I have another reason to lean out now. I don't want to spend hundreds of dollars on Size Large when I really prefer to fit into a medium. Enough said.