Monday, December 19, 2011

Plans for 2012




As the year ends i am thinking about what has been achieved this year. Its been a great year of running with the highlights:

1. Finishing my first marathon in Canberra in April
2. Going bush and tackling the Jabulani Challenge 22kms
3. Discovering the Great North Walk and all its pleasures
4. Starting to develop sustainability through chi-running

Next year I will give the Marathon a miss and focus on mainly trail running and consolidating chi-running ....i dont feel the thrill of setting a marathon goal but am very keen on doing more trail runs..

...which runs to aim for next year has a few dilemnas in it....I was keen to run Mt Wilson to Bilpin 34kms in August but it clashes with a few other things, particularly Jabulani and Pub2pub which i really dont want to miss. Here's a tentative list

Linfield Funrun 10k April 3
Sydney Half Marathon May 20
Woodford to Glenbrook June 26 25kms
Jabulani Challenge 7 August 21kms
Pub2pub 13kms August 26
Blackmores Half September 18
Bare Creek Trail Run St Ives 10kms 13 November

The new run for the year will probably be Woodford to Glenbrook in the Blue Mountains rather than Mt Wilson to Bilpin

The key will be to keep enjoying it of course, focusing on form not speed and do as many casual runs with friends in the bush as possible!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chi's Coming Together


Every now and then Im getting that feeling like all the stars align and i finally understand how the chi-running process is supposed to work...so far ive practiced specific things on each run, mid-foot strike, cadence, pelvis in, relax,but during the past few runs this week it has started to come together as a whole..

Last wednesday night for example i ran 11kms, most of which involved the forward lean and correct posture and felt really at ease and relaxed for the whole run..my pace is still slow (as low as 6mins/km at this distance) but I can feel the petrol still in the tank when Im getting it right.

The biggest benefit seems to be what happens between runs rather than just during runs...the terrible strains and pain in my ankles and abductors has diminished and i am finding that my recovery is much quicker...

Lets hope i have finally found the answer.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

More GNW Fun

Two weekends in a row exploring the great North Walk, this time accompanied by a great kid, 11year old Christian, who spent much of the time in front bounding around like a rabbit while we slugged it out up and down hills for 2 hours...leeches? pull 'em out!

Running this track near home down in the direction of Galston Gorge is something I could get used to...focussed this run on trying to get the chi-lean in the bush...can be tricky when your looking down at your feet and hopping around but will keep persevering..certainly feeling pretty good a few hours later..stiff but no strains.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Chi-List

Just writing myself a note of the chi-things I need to remember in the long term...cant keep them in mind every run, perhaps only one or two, but listing them here helps me imprint them on my brain.....this week im focusing on 1.,2.,8. and 9.....do far so good

1. Shorten your stride
2. Focus on form and forget the road
3. Keep lower legs limp or they'll get injured
4. Relax
5. Look up
6. Engage pelvis only
7. L-E-A-N
8. Keep arms at 90 degrees
9. Use arms to guide cadence
10. Keep legs straight on
11. Keep feet closer together
12. Feel legs go out the back from above hips
13. Midfoot strike
14. Bodysense
15. Use metronome

Monday, December 5, 2011

Changes!

Its been a while since my last post...things have been pretty busy...As far as running goes the highlight in the past few weeks has certainly been the Marysville Half Marathon, run in a town obliterated by bush fires a few years ago...you can see below that it's re-grown pretty well




The course consisted of mud (first 9 Kms), then uphill (next 7), then down hill (next 5)...at the end of the long torturous hill was a beautuful waterfall to reward our efforts........
Generally I was very happy with my race..I took the view that a steady run would work best, especially given the mud....generally i was out there to enjoy it, practice my chi-form and look around...below, however, you can see my form after the massive hill where my legs, core and back felt quite smashed...pretty much defines the opposite of chi, but, hey, its a transition that should take quite a while.

I have to take my hat off to Grace and Wendy who i went with..Grace because she ran effortlessly and for her generosity with showing me about and transport..


Wendy because she was a massive inspiration..this was her third half for the year and she has already run three marathons too including St Petersburg.......she has so many stories about a lifetime of running...what a fantastic person...

After this i took a few days rest, ran a few 7kms during the week, then smashed it again on Sunday with a 2 hour trail run along GNW from Westleigh towards Galston Gorge...thanks Duncan and Al for a really enjoyable run..



During the week Ive been feeling abit sore....hobbling abit during my second Chi training session with my great coach, JR...this time trying hard to learn how to speed up my cadence...some improvements but along way to go..I like the diagram below, because it reminds me to relax about it abit and take my time..Im giving myself 6 months to get it properly

I did however buy some new shoes...not flat ones as advised but 2 steps down from The Beast....Ill gradually get there..

By for now!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Taperish



Im not sure if your really allowed a taper when you havent yet peaked but Im having one anyway for the Marysville half Marathon next weekend...due to a sprained ankle, the flu, travel and then chi-practice Im feeling pretty undercooked as far as running any sort of PB.

My general aim this time will be form over speed...if i can go out steady and keep my form when the going gets tough, enjoy the race and emerge without too many strains Ill be happy...

The honest truth sa Im just happy to be running more freely and enjoying it again thanks to the change in my posture...i kind of know now that injury prevention is all down to me and wether or not I keep it up and listen to my body when it tries to tell me something....this is good.

After the half there are no more races until Canberra Marathon in April...as well as training for this the aim will be to hit some trails just for fun...

Pigeon House Mountain at Christmas
GNW from Westleigh to Berowra (in sections)
Westliegh to Crosslands
...and more

All good in my running world at the moment so long as i am not tempted to thrash myself and keep steady

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Body Sensing

Two weeks of practicing Chi-Running has indeed been good for the body (and the soul)....Im relaxed, no sign of any injury or niggles and feeling strong and ready to roll..the first time in many weeks if not months that I havent spent the night before the long run worrying if I was hurt.

Part of it I know is simply common sense, the act of slowing down and focussing on posture not speed; but on wednesday night this week i felt speed too (for me!) which made me think that maybe i have a better running future ahead...

I think the other thing is that i have generally become a little more aware of my body...on descents i am more careful, on hills i dont lift my legs as much, I stretch before and and after and turn the music off if i need to focus.....somehow the bubble has burst that had me thrashing myself all the time....time to keep going and see what the future holds

Heres a new track im loving when i carry music..

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chi-Prioritising



Im not sure if this is because of the general thrust of chi-running to relax and enjoy things rather than smash down barriers but i made a decision yesterday to ease up on myself abit when it comes to the goals i have set myself.

In the past my big goal has always been to run 6-Foot Track, a seemingly impossible one given the 4 hour marathon qualifying time...this pressure has been exacerbated by joining a Bush running club where everyone runs 100kms at the drop of a hat....

I am starting to see that what i actually want out of my running year is as follows;

1. One normal marathon per year (Canberra)
2. Some trail runs between 20 and 30kms
3. A couple of halfs
4. A couple of ten kms
5. Run trails on new tracks for the adventure and fun
6. Build up a consistent road running regime four times a week

Each person has their limits and i think these are mine...no more secret ultra goals....Im sticking to what Im good at and going to take some pressure off....(of course these goals would seem insane if I looked this a few years ago)

In the immediate next few weeks I will keep my posture as my main focus, run my last long run this Sunday and then have a nice easy Marysville Half the week after...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chi-Progress


Been practicing Chi-Running for all three runs this week; nice and easy

1. Nice and easy 35 mins on the treadmill to keep things steady while i tried it solo for the first time
2. 6kms with the Warriors, slow but a few hills
3. Intervals including aggressive hill running

All up I am really getting the hang of it. I notice my breathing has improved too and during intervals i could feel the speed that is possible...much faster than I was before on the 400 and 200 sprints..very promising.

On the negative side, while all my right leg abductor and groin sprain has completely gone i have noticed a slight pain in my old ankle tendon injury, but it was easily stretched out. Im pretty sure this is part of the transition to 'leaning' and i need to be real careful i dont push the transition hard too early....I may even wear my trusty ankle support on this weekends long run just in case...I still have to perfect the slight one-two inch lean and am probably leaning too far..also I still nee to work on floppy relaxed lower legs..

So....some mixed results but in the long term I am optimistic...over the next few months, if Im careful and bring my old ankle injury with me via stretching and strengthening i can really see a future with fewer strains and eventually even lighter shoes and speed....slowly but surely seem to be the key.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chi-lling



I had my first Chi-Running coaching session yesterday, two hours of paradigm-shifting realisatons that I generally lumber instead of run and am definitely not aligned and smacking my feet down hard like breaks right on the heel....

The coach sent me a video and i was surprised to see my slow cadence and stooped frame and really enjoyed all the things i was taught....legs straight, pelvis engaged, head up, shoulders aligned and relax..Ive been doing it walking down the street and at the shops too..



I went for a test run twice just to see if i could do it and the forward lean and midfoot strike seems abit different at first but Im holding high hopes that it will mean the end of constant thigh strains and ankle pain and perhaps even the death of my Brooks Beasts (he told me to ditch them NOW!)

This is what i have to remember

1. Legs straight on
2. Pelvis engaged
3. Upright and shoulders/hips aligned
4. Strike legs out the back
5. Midfoot strike
6. Lean to speed up with same cadence
7. Form not power
8. Stay mindful/bodysensing
9. Dont worry about what others are doing
10. Chi-illax

Its alot but it all seems to come together in one piece...


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Running Clears the Sinuses

ronaldo blow nose Cristiano Ronaldo blowing his nose

The last three weeks has not been the ideal preparation for the Marysville half, starting with a sprained ankle in the bush which put me out for ten days and then the manflu which got me for another week....in that time Ive probably done 7 runs max and quite abit of cross training...

This morning, however, was one of those beautiful solid runs, where your not killing yourself, but you have no niggles and feel your power and you glide along.....sometimes i think running 4 times a week may be too often as you never fully get your body back to square one..after a week in New Zealand teaching with the flu it was fantastic to run easy with my two partners just for the hell of it..11 hilly kms, including the 'bastard' hill down in Beecroft that is almost vertical......there's nothing better for clearing the sinuses after the flu although i think my buddies were abit grossed out....luckily, as you can see above, it did show off my abs when i was doing it!

Its nice to be back and to make things better tomorrow i have my chi running coaching session..

Thursday, October 27, 2011

On the mend



This week has been recovery-running-from-ankle-sprain week where i am running three easy 7kms and one easy 15km....the first two were a real shock to the system after 10 days rest and the week before that being pretty easy..it's amazing how the edge wears off in this short amount of time...on my first run my ankle blew up a little the next day which had me worried until i googled that it was normal.....the second days run was extremely hills which made my ankle hurt near the end...I put it in a bucket of cold water afterwards and then it has been relatively painfree since..

This morning very little pain, still sluggish but i really feel like i am on the mend.

I have also been practicing Chi-Running in preperation for my first coaching session in a week or so......i think i undestand how the midfoot strike is achived (kick legs out the back more?) and this means you can lean forward while keeping your pelvis engaged....I have to say it feels pretty good and natural although i have sore muscles in places i dont usually get them (hips, glutes, shins)...I hope this means Im doing it properly..

I now have three weeks of training left to get ready for Marysville Half...it wont be my finest moment but so long as i get out there and enjoy it Ill be pretty happy..

Monday, October 24, 2011

Time for Coaching


Just had a revelation over the past week...if i continue to battle with niggles my enjoyment of running is at risk and I need to change something..not because of my ankle (that wasnt related to posture) but the other niggles that have been plagueing me.....Ive decided to book a session with a coach, a Chi Running coach as it makes so much sense...

I love the quote

'The aim is to become more self-aware and to feel "one with the road." Finish times and pace times are considered less important than improving one's efficiency'.

I want to get it tatooed on my arm so i remember it...

I also think the idea of 'body sensing'..tuning into your body as you run, making sure the upper and lower body works together, that you are relaxed, core engaged, efficient...

Ive emailed a coach in the city so lets see how it goes...



Sunday, October 23, 2011

Healed!!!!!


Ok, i know Im abit more excited than i should be, after all its only been a sprained ankle but there's nothing more satisfying than the fruits of patience...ive spent the last week on the stupid crosstrainer and followed all the advice i could find..stretch, write the alphabet with my foot, strengthen and avoid the temptation to run...not running for 8 whole days is an all-time record since i started 2 and a half years ago and I did it!!!!!

I feel totally clear now and even my thigh strain has gone and other niggles....maybe I should do this every few months or so as Im rearing to go....

I now have three weeks until the Marysville Half..this week Ill ease back in, then thrash myself for two weeks and taper abit on the last...Ill spend one week teaching in New Zealand too so will get some great running in Aukland, Wellington and Nelson...found some great routes last time I was there, with the highlight the riverbank run in Wellington.

After that it's the beginning of Marathon Training (Canberra) but i also really want to do some exploring long The Great North Walk too, to Crosslands and other places..cant wait!!

Time for some music...


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Patience IS a Virtue


After two and a half years running it's amazing how Im still learning things that seem pretty basic once youve got them

1. Running by it's very nature will mean youll hurt yourself every now and then
2. Proper patient recovery is the best way to keep going

I know a sprained ankle isnt much to whinge about but its finally dawned on me that there is no need for all the angst and carry-on whenever i have to take a week off here and there.....God knows my legs are enjoying it and once the obsessional bubble has burst I can even admit that so am I....its a great antidote to emotional burnout.

Ankle is not hurting much now, just a little on the side..im focussing on strenghtening ans cross training and will not run until next Tuesday to be on the safe side...Im super proud of myself because its the first time Ive done this the right way....after a groin strain last year and an adbuctor strain a few months ago i just kept going and needless to say they have never really fully gone away since..




Great Article on Ankle Sprains

American Family Physicians

Management of Ankle Sprains

Am Fam Physician. 2001 Jan 1;63(1):93-105.

Without adequate care, acute ankle trauma can result in chronic joint instability. Use of a standardized protocol enhances the management of ankle sprains. In patients with grades I or II sprains, emphasis should be placed on accurate diagnosis, early use of RICE (rest, ice,compression and elevation), maintenance of range of motion and use of an ankle support. Sprains with complete ligament tears (grade III) may require surgical intervention. [corrected] Although early motion and mobility are recommended, ligamentous strength does not return until months after an ankle sprain.

e-case design. J Athl Train. 1997;3



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Nietzsche Was a Runner



How is it possible that this crazy philosopher, existentialist, nihilist, immoralist was so right about running?

Sit as little as possible; give no credence to any thought that was not born outdoors while one moved about freely—in which the muscles are not celebrating a feast, too. All prejudices come from the intestines.

The sedentary life—as I have said once before - is the real sin against the holy spirit.

......from Nietzsche's Ecce Homo, (trans. W. Kaufmann), p2 s1

Exhaustion is the shortest way to equality and fraternity.–Friedrich Nietzsche

“On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will
reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so
that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche

He's clearly not running here

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Busted Ankle in the Bush

Had a fantastic bush run this am with 2 friends along the Great North Walk with the aim of making Galston Gorge and back...lovely river crossings.


Great trails...


Great views..


Good friends..



Sprained ankle..

Yes, about 1hr into the run I step on a tuft of grass jumping off a rock and get my first sprain ever......I had to then hobble back for another 45mins like a wounded dog on some pretty rough terrain..

My main thought is "thank god its an injury unrelated to biomechanics'.. hooray for a real injury.

Nine hours later, after RICE'g alot in still hobbling around but its slightly better..

The key now is to remember that proper rest and time off will be the key to not making it a long term issue....looks like it nothing for a while, then the bike for a week or two...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Value of Easy Weeks


Ive been discovering lately that's its not just the easy recovery run that sets you up for a hard slog the next day but that easy weeks are also necessary.... Ive been finding that my body starts to break down after four of five weeks of hard training, with muscles getting tighter and old injuries feeling sore again....if i give myself a week of lighter training they disappear and i can go harder again....

I think the reasons for this are both physical and mental..physically Ive been trying to run faster on both my tempo and long runs and feel ive made some gains..my tempo run is down to about 5.2mins/km and I can hold 550 on a 15km run at the moment...this may not seem fast to some (or many) but its pretty good for me......Ive also increased my weekly kms from 35 to 45 in the past few months....physically I find Im having to stretch more and more at around the 4 week mark..mentally though i start to get burned out and less keen to get up for my runs....

Right now Im in a recovery week..I clock the same kms but go out to enjoy them rather than run hard...Im already feeling much better in my legs and looking forward to running hard again next week..

Im not the only one who has found this valuable...here's a great blogpost about it on The Running World According to Dean .....here's something on the Runners World website...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Best Run in The World


If you could make up a run what would you include? Beach? Cliff tops? Lakes? Bush tracks? Seafront? Here's 15kms Long Reef to Narabeen, along the lake, thru the bush, to Dee Why and back....

Friday, September 30, 2011

Rest Time


Went out for an easy run this morning but still pretty sore from Wednesday so pulled back and went home abit early....my body definitely needs abit of a rest for a few days, a rest i never gave it after the Half (as usual).. instead of resting I just plowed on regardless.....i know

......so I plan on some cross-training to replace Sundays run (it's Berowra's handicap which would do me in ATM).....then an easy Tuesday to be ready hopefully for the Warriors first 10km handicap which i supposed to be organising....

.

Right abductor and left ankle sore-ish so icing and resting seems sensible even though they are pains that come and go without generally stopping me running.....despite the consequences Im still feeling good about getting my mojo back....its always a constant balance between pushing the boundary and overtextending yourself but im glad ive checked off mentally that i can smash out a faster run than normal when i want to...


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Got My Mojo Working


Last night i went out explicitly to prove to myself that I could run faster over a longer distance and that my slow times recently were more mental than physical.....BOOM! 15kms in a 5.5 pace over a rollercoaster route.....may not be fast for many of you but its all about competing against yourself and last night i won

Im imagining that my body is like the bus in that Keanu movie Speed...if i run slower than 5mins40secs per km Ill explode and leave a terrible mess on the road...



I did five kms steady before meeting the Warriors for the last 10 and worked my butt off to keep the two leaders in sight....I caught up to them twice but they got me on the hills each time...still, i ran much faster over this distance than i have in around nine months...

So what do i need to focus on to keep doing this? Here are some thoughts..

1. Stay focussed through the whole run..dont let the mind wander..especially to thoughts of slowing...
2. Lock in the resolve and dont let go no matter what..get angry
3. Watch the second half of the run especially....remember your body can do more than your mind thinks it can and keep the pace....
4. Use affirmations if neccesary when it gets tough
5. Surge on occasions during the run..trying and get that feeling of flying
6. Make sure you fed and hydrated properly during the day before the run
7. Always keep the posture right..youll feel stronger..
8. Try and relax while your pushing it

This weekend in the Berowra BushRunners 10Km Handicap..the perfect opportunity for me to do it again....no worries