Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Cold Running Clothes Selection ❄️

"There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing" quote
This quote is mostly true but annoying when someone quotes it to you when you're soaked through and cold!

I've had 10 years of running in winter in North Wales, running almost everyday so I've decided write down some tips for others or to remind myself after a long summer. I'm not going to cover shoe choice, training or nutrition because it'll be too long.
"Athletes are made in the winter".

Firstly, maybe the biggest problem with running in the cold is that it takes 10 minutes to warm up. If you start off wrapped up then you will be too warm for most of the run. So, if you are unable to drop off clothes on the run it's best to start cold so that you don't have to worry about carrying your extra top tied up around your waist. If you're prepared to run by your house after 10 minutes then perfect, you can drop off your extra gear.

Here's a handy guide in a table: 

Temperature control
In my opinion, overrated. Yes it might regulate your temperature but only a tiny bit and certainly not enough to justify the cost. Also these garments often have complicated washing instructions.

A jacket can be good but only in certain situations and it has to be light and breathable. Through trial and error I've found that a waterproof jacket is a good choice when it's raining and under 10°C (proud of finding the ° on my mobile text!). Any warmer than 10°C and you'll be wet on the skin from sweat. I spent ages researching (not testing) a good jacket and found the OMM Kamleika Race Smock II with great reviews. Check out my review of it here.
Waterproof trousers are only required for slow running in very cold environments, rarely used. Compulsory kit for some races.

There are lots of choices! Have a range but notes that mittens are much warmer especially when you don't use the thumb and make a good fist.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Wirral Ultra 2017 1st place

haven't been writing many blogs lately because I don't think I have anything original or interesting to say but here it goes! 

After a disappointing 100km time at the National Championships in May I entered the Wirral Ultra and I'm glad I did because I did well there. 

I won in a time of 4h08m for a distance of 36 miles. Pleased with the pace considering four wee stops (toilet) and other stops to navigate. The best thing was how I felt; strong throughout and was able to pick up the pace. 

If anyone is thinking about doing this event then I would definitely recommend recce ing the route beforehand. I did and it helped. I only recced it once and wished I had done it more. Even when I was going the right way I was looking at the map in places to make sure I was on course, this slows you down. The last 8 miles are the hardest to navigate. But don't let this put you off because it's not hard to navigate, it's just that I'm not good at following signs (I run too fast!).

Leading up to the race my diet was ok. Low sugar but, as always, a bit too much cereal. A funny thing is that I ate pizza and chip shop Fish n Chips the day before, but in my defense not a lot. 
On race day I had cereal and coffee for breakfast. 
On route I stuck to Tailwind mixed in with my water, it worked out well, no stomach problems at all. I was too hydrated which made me wee four times on the run. I was worried about the temperature getting hot but it stayed cool. 

I started the race going about 20 seconds per mile too slow for about 13 miles but I had good company and was enjoying the chat. It would have been boring to have run alone all the way and I wasn't really looking for a particular time. Partly why I wanted to do this race was to fall in love with Ultra running again after putting too much pressure on myself at the nationals and it worked. I also just wanted to see if I could do the distance without my hamstrings being weak which they had been in the last couple of races. 

I have had the pleasure of having Zach Bitter coaching me this spring and he gave me a great plan between the 100km and the Wirral Ultra. We recognized that my weak hamstrings were probably the result of doing too much MAF (Maximum Aerobic Function) at one pace so Zach had a bit more variety in the last four weeks to give that muscle group a chance to recover. It worked out well.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Me "I'll come home earlier if my heart rate is high" Dad "but what would you do in a race?"

Me "I'll come home earlier if my heart rate is high"
Dad "but what would you do in a race?"

This was a conversation I had with my Dad just before a long Sunday run. He was a runner in the 80s and a good runner too.

This reply from my Dad made me smile to begin with because I imagined a silly scenario of looking at my heart rate in a race and giving up due to seeing a number on a device. It just wouldn't happen, for me, so I initially thought.

My Dad and I then chatted a bit about it. He didn't have technology in the 80s and in some ways that was an advantage; he knew how to listen to his body. But in other ways it was a disadvantage, e.g. he didn't always know what his body was saying.

I told him about my last race which was 4 miles. I wore my heart rate monitor and my HR was 195+ most of the time. I didn't look at it in the race but had I what would I have done? Probably nothing because the race was short.

What about an Ultra race of 7 hours, should I let my heart rate influence me? I would say yes, but only a little bit. I don't have all the answers but I'm enjoying the lessons.

Thanks for reading. Let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF) Training Update part 4

Check out the above link for Zach's blog post on coaching me.

The training is going well. Still building up the MAF miles. MAF is best explained on Doctor Phil Maffetone's website here:

I'm now up to about 75 miles per week at a MAF effort. I'm hoping to put in two weeks of 80 miles but I'll see how it goes. It's great having Zach to coach me. I've not had a coach before and previously I would have done a lot more slow / recovery miles. That's the beauty of MAF training. It doesn't hammer the body too much and so the "recovery" runs are reduced. I listen to my body and take a recovery run when needed. I like the expression Zach told me for my run yesterday:

"take what the body gives you".

Last weekend I raced a short distance (for an Ultra runner), it was five miles on the road. Considering I hadn't done any interval /speed work I still managed a pace of 5m22s per mile for 5miles. That was a confidence boost because my marathon I did a month ago was a bit slower than I expected (2h37m).

Thank you for reading yet another running blog!

Keep running.


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Zach Bitter coaching blog 1

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Guidance on running at the Center Parcs: Sherwood Forest

Here is some guidance on running at the Center Parcs: Sherwood Forest.

The first thing to say is that the place is completely fenced in so expect to do loops. You can do a 5k without repeating a road.  Here's a copy of a map of the place.

If you get time before going familiarise yourself with the map. Otherwise schedule your first run as a slower paced run to get to know the area. 

The best time to go is between 7am and 9am as later on there are too many cyclists.  Don't worry about vehicle traffic as cars are not allowed on site during the week.  

Mainly the terrain is undulating (gentle hills) on tarmac.  If you want a bit of off road then there is about a mile's worth running along the top (north) side.  The full trail is not shown on the map but the nature trail shown in the far right top corner (as a loop) is one end of the mile.  To get onto the loop you need to go right to the end of the road that has chalets in the high 880s on. 

If you want to do intervals there are a couple of nice half mile sections that also have Strava segments on. Here's a copy of the segments for you Strava lovers: 

Note that the best 1/2 mile reps I found were around the East side of the camp. 

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Hoka Huakas Review

There are lots of reviews on these shoes around the internet and I’m not looking to put just another review out there. If you want a general overview of the shoe this is a good place: Link (roll over me to see where I go) What I want to add is that you shouldn’t be too scared to modify this shoe (or any other shoe for that matter). A lot of people say that the Hoka Huakas are too narrow in the toe box and the ankle collar is too high. I found this too but after some modifications they seem to be OK. The modifications I made were to just cut the ankle collar off with a pair of scissors. Then with the toe box I laced them up differently (missed out the lower holes completely). This seems to have worked but if you need to go further you can cut a slit in the side of the shoe were it rubs. I’ve done this with another pair of trainers and it’s fine. It doesn’t keep ripping when you run in them.