Posts Tagged ‘Holiday


marathon training – weeks 8 to 11

And here is where the training schedule goes a little “off-piste”. The final weeks of my job passed without incident, despite veering wildly between feelings of relief and resentment, and my Summer Holiday loomed large on the horizon. With that in mind, I had to juggle around my schedule to fit around my holiday as, however romantic and idealistic a 32km run through the desert sounds, I am sure that if it didn’t actually kill me, it would destroy me enough to make the Berlin Marathon impossible to attempt.
So, by shifting a few runs, foregoing a few and cramming a couple of long runs closer together, I could, as near as dammit, stick to the schedule and still have a relaxing holiday.
Fuertaventura is lovely but can be troublesome for the “travelling runner”. The resorts are just that – resorts – and outside of those, there are just long sections of black tarmac snaking off into the desert or slicing through barren volcanic landscapes populated solely by scrubby patches of bush and the odd lizard. Added to that, the temperature is in the mid 20’s by 7am and touching 30 degrees by 9am. So if you want to run, you best be up early. I ended up knocking out runs of between 6 and 10km at around 7.30am. And I stuck to the roads around the resort, looping out towards the desert before turning back, running down the main street, along the coastal path to the harbour and then back to the apartment.
Back in the UK, some of the longer runs have been tough – the shorter ones were fine and I was coming in at least a few minutes under my goal times. However, 25km seems to be the point at which I begin to struggle as my 29k run and my 32k runs have both been a couple of minutes over. Not a big worry but I can literally feel myself slowing… at one point in the closing kms, I was a full minute slower than my average pace and yet I still felt like I was putting in as much effort as I could.
The closing kms in today’s 32k were agonising as I had to break it down into smaller chunks to mentally get through. “Just another 500m and then we’re 2k from the end…”. My longest training run is 32km and I have another one planned for 2 weeks time. My only concern is that, with 10k still to tackle on race day, I run out of strength between 30 and 40km. Still, if others have followed this regime and completed the Marathon, there is no reason why I shouldn’t do exactly the same. I’m hoping the sense of occasion on the day will pull me through the last 10. I guess I’ll find out for myself in 5 weeks time…

Soundtrack to this post: Joss Stone – Fell In Love With A Boy


what we did on holiday – saucony kinvara 2 review

After a 9 week forced hiatus due to injury, I decided that I would return to running whilst on my Summer Holiday. 1 week before my injury, I had received a pair of Saucony Kinvara 2 running shoes… I was desperate to try them out but my abstention from running meant that I could only admire them from afar… occasionally taking them out of the box to feel how light they were (incredibly light, by the way. 218 grams according to the Saucony website. So light that, when they first arrived, I thought I had received an empty shoe box in the post)

As you can see, the pair I was sent were a fetching yellow – I have mentioned before about my dislike of white running shoes, so the bright yellow / green trim combination was perfect for me. They even look fast.

I’d decided to start my rehabilitation slowly, sticking to relatively short distances, walking if there was any sign of a twinge and sticking to level, solid surfaces until I felt confident. Initially, I planned to stick to the roads and paths that hug the coast of Fuerteventura. It makes for great running as the pathway is mostly traffic free and gives you the chance to view surroundings like this.

Owing to the heat, I had to get out and run early in the day – I would try to be out by 7.45 and even then the temperature was in the 20’s, leave it any later and it starts nudging 30 degrees. My first few runs were tentative – a 2.5km the first day and a 3.5km the second. From then on, I was doing 5km each morning and trying to mix up my routes and running surfaces as my confidence grew.

So, how did the shoes perform? I wasn’t sure how easy I’d find the transition back from VFF’s (which I had been running in exclusively for Juneathon) into a more traditional running shoe. The Kinvara 2 is from Saucony’s Minimalist range so aims to give a less cushioned, more responsive feel than a regular running shoe. I was surprised at how much I could feel through the soles of the shoes – the surface is felt beneath the sole but all the extremes are smoothed out. This was perfect for me as I was wary of jarring my foot. The shoe is very light and flexible and makes running feel smooth and easy. The heel to toe ratio is only 4mm which meant that the “barefoot” runing style that I had been working on worked perfectly, allowing for a fore/mid foot strike. I find traditional running shoes, with their built up heel actually encourage heel striking as the heel is so large that it is very difficult to run without the heel being the first thing that strikes the floor. Over the course of the 2 weeks, I ran in the Kinvara’s 11 times, over a variety of surfaces (pavement, tarmac, sand, gravel, volcanic rock) and found them to be great – light and responsive enough to feel the ground beneath but cushioned enough to confidently be able to run over more testing surfaces.
Once I arrived home, I was keen to get out onto my regular 10km route and see how the shoes fared and they did not disappoint – pavement, grass, towpath, gravel were all tried and tested. And another thing, these are the first pair of running shoes that I have used that have not given me any blisters in the first few outings.
And now the dilemma… What could be improved? Surely the whole point of a review is to give you both sides of the story. A balanced account detailing the pros and cons. I wracked my brains on the flight home trying to think of things that needed improvement, design tweaks that would make the shoe better… and the only criticism I could come up with was that there appears to be an extra lace hole at the top of the shoe that seems needless – unless you have the worlds skinniest ankles I can see no need for it. And that’s the only thing I could find. Without wishing to slip into embarrassing hyperbole, these are probably the best running shoes I have ever tried – immediately comfortable, light and well designed incorporating everything that makes a good running shoe with no gimmicks or unnecessary flourishes. Simply great.


home and away

Hot And Not Bothered – Zen And The Art Of… – Trancendental Tiredness

Oh, it seems like ages since I last blogged and in fact it was over 2 and a half weeks ago. Two of those weeks were spent in the beautiful (and hot) island of Fuertaventura where there were very many magnificent things taking place including a trip to the lava fields of Timanfaya on Lanzarote (highly recommended) and a fair few hours snorkelling with SonNumberOne. In between all this fun I did manage to squeeze in a few runs (every other day so 7 to be precise) and also some lazing around in the sunshine.

The running was fairly spectacular as I quickly worked out a 3ish mile loop from the apartment down to the beach, following the path along the bay just as the sun was rising before heading back. I was also lucky enough to hook up with a fellow runner (who had a Garmin with him so we could check time and distance) for the first week so we could discover the routes together rather than risk getting too lost and ending up in what can only be described as desert. Runs were executed between 7.30 – 8.30am as it was still fairly cool (19 degrees). Once it got past 9am, the temperature crept up to just under 40 degrees so not ideal for scampering around. Once my running buddy had left, I had the chance to do a few “minimal footwear” runs but alas bottled out of going completely bare. Still, I was quite happy with 7 runs out of 14 days especially as I was on holiday and supposed to be taking it easy.

I arrived back in the early hours of Thursday and, despite planning to go for a run Friday morning and Saturday morning I opted for a few more hours in bed rather than get out to pound the streets. This mornings run was my usual 10kms along the river and thought that I could use it to put into practice some of the Chi Running techniques I had been reading about whilst languishing on a sun bed. I am still only half way through the book but the basis of is that your core muscles are stronger than your thighs and calves and therefore it is easier to use these as the main power source for your running (i.e. using big muscles for big effort feels easier that using the smaller muscles). All the theory makes sense but, as I found out, it is easier to imagine doing it than actually putting it into practice. Todays run did feel easier, but I was very concious of trying to use certain muscles which made me feel particularly clumsy. I had an impromptu stop whilst I waited for a train to pass at the level crossing (approx 4 mins) but still managed to complete 10k in almost exactly 1 hour… meaning that I actually did it in about 56mins. Which is very near my best time for that distance. So I think there probably is something to be said for the whole Chi Running idea considering that I have not run a 10k dstance for about 3 weeks. I was expecting some Zen-like Calm when I finished so was disappointed to find that I was as knackered as always. Which doesn’t bode well for the Royal Parks Half in 3 weeks as I can’t remember the last time I ran anything like 13.1 miles. C’est la vie!

And on that bombshell… I shall leave you with some picture from a Fuertaventuran run…

A Surreal Start

Soundtrack to this post – On To The Next One – Jay Z


arrivals and departures – Sore – 99 Problems And A Beach Ain’t One

With an impending holiday, the time goes slower and the number of things to be compressed into the time increases. What was supposed to be a leisurely few days finishing off at work has turned into a lesson in cramming. And tomorrow was supposed to be my “mopping up” day – getting all the loose ends tied – that will now consist of store visits in the morning, taking photos and making notes for the presentation that I have to now write by close of play tomorrow. There is a nagging thought that once the presentation is written, no-one will pick it up and it will sit untouched until I return, but that is not a risk that I am in a position to take.

The big crush started over the weekend when I, suffering from one of my frequent bouts of restlessness, decided on Saturday afternoon that I needed to do something physical. If I don’t expend physical energy on a regular basis I become like some unbearable hyperactive child and fairly unpleasant to be around. So I packed myself off into my garage where there are no end of weights to heft around to burn off some tension. An hour or so later and bored of repeatedly picking up and putting down heavy objects, I jump onto the fixie for a quick hurtle around which seemed to do the trick and I was once again at peace.

Sunday morning is “long run of the week” time so aimed for 10 miles. The previous days exertions were not the best preparation for a long run having worked both upper and lower body and the 16.7kms completed started fairly easily but very soon became a battle with shoulders, chest, biceps and thighs all sore from Saturday. The remainder of the day saw me shuffling around with the strange knackered / dehydrated feeling that I usually reserve for the day after a half marathon.

After a sound nights sleep, my body seems to have repaired itself and some excellent news around lunchtime (Welcome to the World, George Caleb Bailey) lifted my spirits further. I just need to power through tomorrow, pack the bags and I’m ready to go. I’ve been checking the map of our holiday location and reckon that the beach is a reasonable, runnable distance away (there is a shuttle bus for normal people) that could be my daily run – usher the family onto the Shuttle bus and then race it to the beach.

OK… the suitcase beckons.

Soundtrack to this post: Steroid Maximus – Chain Reaction


all over the place

Holidays In The Sun – Nothing To Run From – The Deadline

I haven’t blogged for a while due mostly to me being away on holiday. Fortunately, having things organised way in advance meant that this years holidays were planned and paid for before I was cruelly cast aside to flounder directionless on the sidelines whilst watching others continue with their gainful employment made redundant… An enforced abstinence from working which, if I am brutally honest, I am bored of now. Bored of endlessly searching for jobs and of not having money. I thought that I would find it easier to get out and run having more time but, strangely, I find it more difficult. A massive part of running, for me, was to have some time to myself, to think and to run off anger and frustration. Usually, the worse the day, the better I ran and the more I appreciated it after. When you have no job, you have nothing to escape from. And having the ability to run at almost any time of day means that it becomes very easy to put something off, knowing that there will still be time later. Ironically, the lack of time you have when you work means there is an urgency – Either you get out and run now, whilst you have the chance, or you miss out.

The holiday was very nice but did mean that my loose “sticking to a training schedule” became very loose indeed. So loose as to almost completely avoid it together. Although I did run every other day, and cycle, and attempt skiing on a dry ski slope (skiing was something which I’d never tried due to a fear of heights but, as it was very enjoyable, feel I may have to bite the bullet and brave the ski lifts and try it for real at some point in the future). So I haven’t been slacking completely but have been slacking a little bit and haven’t been for a run in the 2 days that I have been back. Wanting to kick start things a little bit, I have caught up on everyones blogging over the last few hours which has given me a bit of inspiration to get back out there and run. I’ve also signed up for Hard As Snails 10k in a few weeks time so that should add some much needed urgency to my training efforts over the coming weeks…

Soundtrack to this post: Jealous Again – Black Flag

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