It has been a while… My running lately has been quite a mess - starting out from working with the incredible Steve Sundell, who brought me mentally and physically much closer to my personal limits. Then a period of, well, burn-out. Travel, some niggling health issues and more travel.
All in all - not great. Currently rediscovering my lust and joy of running by ditching the clock and just running by feel. So much more fun. Oh - and to keep entertaining I just signed up for The Wall Run — 69 miles from Carlisle to Newcastle in the UK. Alongside the Hadrian’s wall. Crazy.
And let’s get back to blogging. This was fun.
Let’s talk about week 1… All in all it went great - I started out with a pretty constant feeling of soreness in my quads and calves. Which I take mostly as a good thing - as it is part of the process of getting stronger (and the soreness is not debilitating - in which case I would cut back and let it heal). The soreness went away towards the end of the week - and came back with force after my long run on Sunday (which was to be expected).
Pretty much every run was good - average pace was in the area I expected it to be – only bummer was the fact that missed the Friday run as we were moving house and it just took longer and was more exhausting than I hoped it would be. So I ended up running 6 days - but at least I got 48 miles in for the week. And my body seems to hold up to it (for now at least - always hard to say after just one week).
Week 2 will be somewhat challenging - I’m on my way to Brussels (currently in London) for a couple of business meetings. I’ll try to get as much running in as possible - but not sure if I get the full program done… We’ll see.
One question which came up for me while going through the program – what’s the proper pacing for the easy and rest days? My fear is that I run them too fast - especially the rest/recovery days. In a lot of ways I find it hard to run very slow - it feels somehow unnatural… I’ve asked coach Steve for advice.
Week 2 will look like this (again - on paper; with travel and all this might be a stretch goal for me):
I’m logging all this in Strava (which by the way is simply the best online training planner if you’re serious about your training) - feel free to connect to me if you want to follow along (and kick my butt if I don’t hit my workouts).
About four years ago I started running again. I used to run regularly (yet not competitively) while in college but stopped doing so when I started working (I let life get in the way). In 2008 I had a rather disturbing spout of depression which brought me back to running (you can read more about this episode in my life here). And run I did - I started training and racing anything from 5k to ultramarathons. I got reasonably fast - but something was missing.
Little did I know about the people I would meet and work out with when I walked into the local Pilates studio two years ago. The owner told me that she teaches a class specifically for runners. Which sounded right up my alley. So I joined the group and soon found myself working out with some of the best runners in the country - pretty much all of them highly accomplished ex-collegiate runners who are now Olympic trials competitors.
And this brings me back to the intro (and the title of this blog post): I had the enourmous fortune to get to know Steve Sundell, a two-time All American runner and a 2:16 marathoner. And Steve kindly agreed to train me - effectivly taking me on a journey which hopefully will bring me much closer to my physical (and mental) limits.
I’m going to turn 40 next year. I have never been fitter in my life - my resting heart rate is somewhere around 45 BPM. I recently ran a 1:27 Half-Marathon in Houston. I believe I can be much faster. Much faster.
So this week I started my “Coach Steve” program - which will me see running every day (I used to run 5 days a week) to increase overall mileage, build aerob fitness as well as physical and mental endurance. We will add hill workouts, a fair amount of track work and hard tempo runs. It will be tough. I will break. But I hope I will persevere and become a better runner.
I will keep you posted on my progress and lessons learned. This week sees me doing the following mileage to get us started:
A little while ago a friend of mine asked me on Twitter: “So what shoe would you recommend for someone who hates running but is considering starting for some masochistic reason?”
Now - you need to know that I am quite obsessed about running, the science behind it and the way gear can enhance or hinder performance (and your fun doing so).
After pondering about this question for a little bit, I realized that the common advice a newbie runner gets is usually either uninformed or misguided. And the short answer is more often than not: Forget pretty much everything most of the people in sports/running stores will tell you (nothing against them though!).
Let me explain: Pretty much every semi-decent running shop will put you on a treadmill and make you run a bit to analyze your foot landing (to identify how much you pronate). Plus they usually look at the arch of your foot to determine if you’re foot is high, medium or low arched (the fabled wet paper imprint test). Then they will, with a high chance, recommend some pronation-control shoes to correct your “incorrect” landing and all the biomechanical inefficiencies which are going on in your foot, your legs, hips and upper body while you run.
Now - that sounds good and looks quite impressive. But the reality is, that this is often not the right way to go about this rather complex topic.
There is a growing body of research which shows that a) all the high-tech in modern running shoes (especially all the pronation control) is not helping at all with injury rates; neither does b) the rather high heel-to-toe drop which is common in build-up stability shoes help you run better, healthier or with better form.
So with that out of the way - what to do? The best advice I can give you is: You should buy running shoes which are a) neutral (and avoid most of the tech which comes in the more build-up shoes these days); b) have a lower heel-to-toe drop (a lot of build-up shoes have a heel-to-toe drop in the 12-14mm range — which is a bit like running on high heels; not good!), I would shoot for something in the 8-10mm range (or even try one of the growing number of shoes with a 4mm drop) and c) get the shoe which feels most comfortable on your foot when you run (that is the only reason why you would want to get on a treadmill in a store).
There is some interesting research which concludes that the shoes which *feel* best, are the ones which work best for you. Your body is an incredibly fine-tuned machine - you have more nerve-endings in your foot than pretty much any other place on your body, allow yourself to trust the feedback your body gives you.
Shoes are a very personal thing - I for example don’t fit into any Nike shoes (as much as I like some of them). It’s best to go to a well stocked shop and simply try some out. You can do some good research at some of the better online retailers as well (my favorite running retailer runningwarehouse.com list heel to toe differentials for pretty much all their shoes).
It also depends on where and what kind of running you want to do - road, trail, faster or slower, lower or higher miles… I currently have four pairs of shoes which I use for different purposes. They all have a very low heel-to-toe drop in common (probably lower than what the newbie runner would aim for - around 4mm) and are decidedly low-tech (they fall into the racing flats category).
Now comes the disclaimer: This is all based on my personal observation and experimentation with my own running and helping friends on their quest to running fun. If you have any doubts, have known health issues or any issues with your feet/biomechanics (e.g. are the soles of your shoes significantly more worn off on one side?), please do yourself a favor and get a couple of opinions and be careful!
Why does The Running Clinic recommend to runners to avoid as much as possible to stretch calves?
S**t Barefoot Runners Say… too good!
Feeling sluggish towards the end of a race and struggle to keep up the pace or even get the (in)famous kick? The excellent Science of Running blog explains how you train for that kick towards the end of your race. Good stuff.
A little while ago I had the great pleasure to be invited to speak at the inaugural Startup Week in Vienna about two of the things I love most in life: Startups/Entrepreneurship and Running. It’s surprising what the later can teach you about the former…
I’ve written up my talk here - check it out, you might like it! :)
Jeez… I really need to blog more here. :)
Last weekend Jane and I went to Houston to cheer on the runners in the Olympic Marathon Trials (which was awesome - it’s incredible to see so many talented runners fight it out in one location) and run the Half-Marathon on the next day.
I didn’t have any expectations (literally - I only got three weeks of good training in after somewhat of a hiatus over Christmas) but decided to try to push it, following the time-proven advice from Pre: “The only race pace is suicide pace. And today is a good day to die.”
It worked out pretty well - 1:28:40, which is a new PR by 3+ minutes. And makes me realize that my body is surely able to run a 1:25 (and who knows how far we can push it - maybe a 1:20 is in the decks sometime).
Below my mile splits. Nice and even with some good kick towards the end. Good stuff. Now - onward.
Very well worth listening to!