Category Archives: Training

David Cameron’s running gait

I loved this story. It talks about the limitations of David Cameron’s running gait, criticizes his small stride, and makes any number of ridiculous but entertaining comparisons between managing your running and managing a country.

The proportionality between the angle of your running stride and the distance covered does alway surprise me (“…you cover two per cent more ground with each stride for every degree you increase your stride angle”. I really need to do some more stretching… although as much of my training this sabbatical has included heavy-lifting in the garden as it has running and stretching so limited progress has been made.

Unfortunately, unlike David Cameron, I can’t afford to hire personal trainer Matt Roberts to sort out my running stride. I’m still thinking about getting a running coach but not sure where to start. I may start by joining my local running club (blog here) and see if anyone there has any good advice for me.

Training through barriers

Since this year’s winter weight gain and running hiatus, I’ve struggled to run through the 5k distance barrier. When I took up running a year or so ago, I’d never run more than 5k in my adult life. When I started, I found that I managed 10k without too much extra trouble and was able to inch upwards until my LSR was 14-15k without too much trouble – and ultimately delivered my 2h9 half marathon time. Not record breaking by any means, but for me it was quite an accomplishment.

Anyway, the last week has seen two very different 10k runs as I begin to knock down the psychological distance barrier. The first, a tech-free run, saw me complete my 10k in 65 minutes – substantially slower than my previous efforts. My benchmark has always been 30 minute 5ks – so a 60 minute 10k is the thing to beat.

Today, I managed it, crossing the 10k mark at 59m20s – not massively speedy but hopefully the beginning of a return to form, and a whole load better than my previous effort. It was Runkeeper supported and I guess having a voice tell me my current pace does put effective pressure on me to up the ante…

Anyway, will continue to keep up the pressure on myself and see where I end up. I’ve not had the stones to enter another half-marathon yet – it’s difficult to be sure I can manage it with my extra weight and without having yet put in the time to build up to the distances I’d need – but we’ll see how we go.

Thoughts go out to the injured Sensei-Paul, who I’m seeing next week and will no doubt discuss running with for all of our edification.

Hopefully I’ll be able to churn out a > 10k run in the next week or so…

First run of Spring

That’s what it felt like, anyway. 8am this morning, glorious sunshine sharply counterpointed by the early morning chill (a vast contrast to recent training), forcing the sleep and jetlag from my eyes, I hit the road and did a respectably sub 30 minute 5k – something I’ve struggled with since my half last September and clearly the sweat training in Malaysia made some contribution. However I’m a little stiff from limited stretching and need to work on that – and roll like crazy on my off days.

Harder, though, is the fact that the diet restarted today. The winter weight is something I’ve really felt in recent runs and needs to go… so back down to the 1500 calorie range for my daily intake until I start to feel the difference again!

Longer distance training will start in the days ahead as I build to a half-marathon in the not-too-distant future. I had hoped to go for the nearby Bracknell half in early May but I’m not sure how well the training will progress over the next six weeks – which seems me doing an amount of travel as well… We will see! Wish me luck.

Roller embarrassment

photo (10)So, erm, it turns out my Dad has one, purchased as part of a Pilates kick some time ago. Discovered and used! Not really sure why, where from, etc., but discovered it by chance and we’re off. Of course, we fly soon, but there we are!! So Malaysia does have these things after all, despite my earlier concerns…

Running going OK, have forced myself to run and swim through the beginning of a cold so hoping the various hormones will stave off a bout of self-piteous man-flu!

Running to swimming conversation rate

In 36 odd minutes I’d run about 6km, and it turns out I swim 1km or thereabouts in that time. I know its totally different muscles, but have no idea what the conversation rate should be… what’s a sensible pace for swimming??

Sabbatical fitness routine going ok – no LSRs in Malaysia but alternating swimming and running pretty well. Hoping to up distance and resume diet when I get back to the UK…

Routine begins again

Two treadmill runs in on the new Startrac and it feels like progress is slowly happening again. I feel MILES away from where I was when I did the half in September but its really hard to tell – the heat seems to put a lower ceiling on exercise. Either that, or I’m going to have to start taking a bottle of water on the treadmill with me. Anyway, good 5ks happening but no longer runs as yet.

Incidentally, whilst I was warned that it would be more painful to do my ITB stretching on a tennis ball, it’s more the coordination required that presented a challenge – it’s hard to balance and roll from your upper thigh down to your knee on a tennis ball – especially when slicked with sweat after a run in 30 degree heat!

I’ll get there…

A side note: the treadmill was delivered within 24 hours by no less than SIX delivery men and the general manager of the fitness equipment importer. I know it’s a high margin, high value item but this is taking service to ludicrous extremes! In any event, it took all of them to shift it – that is one HEAVY, big-ass machine.

New treadmill coming (nod your head)

My Dad’s just ordered a replacement treadmill – the one I broke had lasted 17 years apparently, so wasn’t too much a decision to order a successor from the same company – which is now en route – hoorah! Hopefully home training will resume soon – I have managed one swim and lots of baby weight training in the meantime, though.

Baby weight training = lifting baby with alternate arms. Bench pressing baby as she ‘flies’. Etc.,  My precious little dumbell is weighing in at around 15lbs, so getting heavier!

Seriously, proper training will resume very soon.

Malaysian running training #2

A disappointing training day. With the broken treadmill my highly motivating wife suggested we go to a gym, and we found one in Celebrity Fitness, a chain of gyms with an outlet in Mid Valley Megamall, a 10 minute drive from the house and a building full of distractions for Amanda, Emily and Emily’s Grandpa, who volunteered as chauffeur and local guide.

First, we looked for a replacement treadmill. Limited progress was made with the actual dealer we wanted to visit, despite claiming to have an outlet in Mid Valley on their website, actually not so much existing. So it may be some time before we sort that out.

Let’s start with the things that were good about the Celebrity Fitness experience.

1. They had good working treadmills
2. They had reasonable showers

And the bad:

1. Appalling customer service. I was shuttled back between the front desk and the customer service desk, not told where the changing rooms or equipment was, asked for my mobile number three times (“I don’t have a local mobile”), and made to wait for 10 minutes whilst they registered my limited information for a day guest pass. I’d made reasonably clear that I wasn’t going to join and just wanted a transactional relationship with them – give me a pass, damnit! Eventually got in, having eaten into a short window of time I had for the workout.
2. Damnit it was hot. It must have been 30 degrees in there WITH the airconditioning going. The whole point for me in going to a gym was to avoid the blistering outdoor heat!
3. It cost RM60 – about £12. An absolute rip-off for the experience.
4. There were no locks on the lockers (another fact they didn’t apprise me of – should I have just known? I told them I was from the UK, they could have given me a heads up…). You’re meant to bring your own, apparently, so kit stayed with me – including during my shower. Fortunately I found a broom closet to stash my stuff in whilst I had the world’s quickest shower.
5. Crap water coolers, despite the heat.

So… not going back there. Will find another way to work out here. My mediocre run total for the day came to approx 5k in 33 minutes. Not a great time on a treadmill.

0n the plus side, whilst I continued to fail to find a foam roller, I did remember that Sudhir told me I could do the ITB workout with a tennis ball – so will dig around the house for one of them instead!

A roller, a roller, my kingdom for a roller

61 dFeEhrnL._SL500_AA300_I’ve been desperately hunting around Malaysian sports shops looking for a foam roller, which you may remember was a big part of my miracle cure for ITBS.

Admittedly my current plans for heavy running training have been somewhat curtailed by  breaking the treadmill but we’re hunting for a gym I can use (only madmen would run outdoors in the 34 degree heat, torrential tropical thunderstorms and / or mosquito haven). Also, without incurring cost-prohibitive data roaming charges, I don’t have Runkeeper here to track distance/pace, and so my motivation for outdoor running falls to zero…

Unfortunately, either Malaysian runners don’t suffer from ITBS (despite previous assurances from doctors in the UK that it was the most common running injury), or… people here don’t really run, and running/sports shops are for trendiness only.Given there is a KL marathon the latter doesn’t seem too likely, but garrrrrrrrrrr all the same.

I may have to resort to tying together several yoga mats into a tight roll and seeing whether that will help. Any Malaysian runners out there can help me find one of these???

Oops, I broke the treadmill

Seeing as I’m in Malaysia for the next few weeks all my running training is happening on a treadmill. Which I broke today after my first run – a 5ker which I finished in 27.45. Theoretically this is a good time for me but in practice – the treadmill makes things so much easier I should be able to get closer to a 20 minute 5k. See if I can manage that this trip, once the treadmill repair people see if they can replace the part… Not that its a cheap treadmill (it’s not) or I’m a heavy lump (less obviously untrue) but suspect some of the plastic goes brittle in the hot humid conditions…

The speed wasn’t inspired by this, but in an interestind sidebar: My Dad’s friend popped over the other night and recommended PACE training for fatburning (which I need, the fatburning not necessarily the PACE training). I’d not heard of it before and am slightly suspicious of it despite the logic, which is (in part) – you want to get into the fat burning zone and stay there long enough for your body to switch substrates, but not convince your body to switch to creating fat to support the ‘habit’ – a consequence of which is you should chuck your long distance running/ aerobics routine.

I’m vastly suspicious of anything that tries to make weight loss sound ‘easy’ and Dr Sears’ method sounds a bit too good to be true (12 minute workouts etc)…

I need to understand more about human metabolism. I wish Ben Goldacre would write a book about this stuff as between this and the nutrionist stuff he writes about in Bad Science I’m sure there’s a bunch of debunking (or at least: rational explaining) of this, Sears, Atkins, and every other populist weight-loss plan we get confronted with at parties so that I could provide a semi-definitive – “it sounds great but like too much work for me” or “the science makes no sense.”

Anyway, I mostly run for fun rather than weightloss (although that’s a necessary objective for me if I’m to break a 2hr time for the half this year).