Sunday, April 28, 2013

A quick photo of my stupid running style

I don't notice that I do this when I am running, so it takes muddy or swampy runs for me to realise that I graze the inside of my lower legs with my runners. Not sure if it's the front of my foot that does the grazing or the rear - but I suspect it's the front as that's where I've collected the mud! Very little mud on the inside of the rear of my shoes - I am a bit of an overpronator who lands at the very edge of the foot, so the mud pattern is not at all odd to me.

Although Lisa from The Athlete's Foot found it very odd how I almost land on the side of my foot when she was running behind me on Saturday and watching my strides/feet. She thought I'd be rolling my ankles all the time! Which I have done in the past - quite a few times, such that they're at a point where I don't get any sharp pain from any (side to side) ankle rolling incidents and I can just keep running. Although since my ankles do feel dull-sore after running, maybe I ought to work on my crazy extreme outside landing...

An almost-proper long run

Another 18km day, although this time it was a result of a single run, unlike last week. I had to go into the lab after 10.30am, so I thought I'd head over to that side of Sydney (other side of the bridge), go for a run, and then to the lab. I spent a little bit of time yesterday thinking about where to run - along the coast, on the trails or around some of the lakes? I did want to go for a proper long run, so I discarded the trails, and then settled on Narrabeen Lakes.

I wasn't sure of the water situation, so I planned to park in one spot - hit the pathway in one direction and back for 10km, stop by car for water if necessary, go in the other direction and back for another 6km or so, and then add a bit to hit 18km or more. As I ran 18km last week in parts, it was the minimum I wanted to do today. Turns out the water situation was more than adequate for the first 10km, but not the next 6km. Next time I run there, I'll keep that in mind and hit the 6km bit first!

Aside from unknown water situation, the run was more or less as expected - flat, mostly off-road and mostly unsealed pathway. Add plenty of cover meant I didn't feel exposed to the sun (although it wasn't really hot today, it's nice to know when planning runs for summer), and there were plenty of other users on the path (although it got a bit kid-heavy at around 10am) so I felt like it was a relatively safe place to run.

It's a shared pedestrian and cycle path - but everyone was pretty good, except for the kids who go all over the place - which is expected because, well, they're kids! They were all well behaved this morning, but there are always a few who haven't quite figured out how to use their bike or scooters in a straight line! :) At least this happened on paths with plenty of grass on both sides, so it wasn't really a bother!

As for my running - the pace was quite a bit faster than expected. I don't tend to look at my watch unless I am keeping pace for a group - I just get the GPS started and go. Although I do stop it if I'm taking photos, using the bathroom, or in a queue for a tap. As I had to go to the lab, I set the easily changeable secondary stat on my watch (I can change the main one via the computer) to the time of day. Although I did switch it to distance when I first ran past my car to get an idea of how far I'd gone at the time.

I felt fine during the run - although I struggled during the last 2km or so. But looking at my pacing graph, it wasn't that I was struggling with the distance - I increased the pace! I'm seriously going to have to learn the difference between struggling to finish and struggling with pace. At least I know I can finish strongly (by my standards!)

This will probably be the last long run before the half marathon - the Nike She Runs 10km is on next weekend and I have no idea how I'll feel the next day or on Monday, and I had no plan to do an overly long run the week before the half marathon. It's a fine balance between getting miles in the legs and staying fresh for the actual run! I'm not sure what the plan is for the Nike Run Club tomorrow night, so I plan on taking it easily from Tuesday to see if I can get a good time for the 10km on Saturday night!

Summary: 18 km @ 6:19 min/km

Milage for the week: 47.6km

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Bondi Run Club Week 7

The Bondi Run Club ventured outside of Centennial Park today, and headed to Bronte. Well, we still started at Centennial park, but we didn't do laps in there as we have done in past weeks. We met up with the running group from Vision Personal Training in Randwick at Queens Park - which was great as there were a variety of paces due to the range of fitness levels coming from Vision. There are some quick runners in the Bondi Run Club that might still have been too fast for today if they showed, but the latecomers (who we found at the very end of the run) would have been fine on the run.

I had someone to chase - they were just slightly faster than me most of the time. Again, it's the hill climbing where I can catch up with some people, and then they catch up with me on the downhill. Looking at my pacing graphs, it doesn't that I'm putting on the brakes on too much on the downhills - I don't run any slower than I do on the flat! But it seems others (there was one lady who did a great job catching me on a downhill) seem to run downhill faster than on the flat - and this is why I seem to be slower.

I think if I do a nice warm up next weekend for the Nike She Runs 10km, then I'll feel fine flying down the hill at the 2km - 4km interval. We'll see how my pacing graph looks next weekend! Otherwise the rest of this run was comfortably fast (as I told the Vision PT who was leading the run) - speedier than I would normally take a long run, but I felt I could deal with that level of comfort for however long the run was going to end up being.

Once we got back to Queens Park, the Vision group had turned off (along with Wes, the Vision PT who is normally with the Bondi Run Club) and it was just me with two Athlete's Foot staff - Geoff (who runs regularly) and Lisa (who really started running regularly once this group got going). We chose to go around Centennial Park to finish, taking the trail route on the outside. We came to the inside of the track after coming to the Robertson Gates.

I felt like I really had to work during the last 2km, but looking at my pacing graph it looks like I was just maintaining a relatively fast steady pace! So I wasn't really struggling - just pushing! I'm really going to have to learn to tell the difference between the two... So it looks like I'm ready for the Nike Run - and I think so is Lisa (today was the furthest she's run, although I'm not completely sure if she's running next week!)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A midweek run with The Running Company

I think this week will end up becoming overkill for my legs - but with the Nike 10km on next weekend, and the half two weeks after, this is probably the last week I can really push my mileage. It wasn't that I wanted to run a lot this week, but that I needed to test my legs out on Monday and I wanted try a few different running groups!

I bought my original Wave Riders from The Running Company at Bondi. I knew they had a run club, but it's really only been the past few weeks that I've felt like I could join them - knowing that when I did, I would still be one of the slowest runners in their group.

I finally got around to running with them this week - and as expected, I was one of the slowest. Strangely, I'm not the slowest going uphill, but definitely downhill - I think it is because I switch to a heelstrike. There were a few times that I would stay on my midfoot downhill, and I could keep pace (with the rest of the slowies), but I also felt like I was putting too much pressure on my body for nothing. After all, it was a general mid-week run, and not a race or a course where I was chasing a PB! In the end I kept pace with the slower runners in the group, and that's good enough for me. I'll definitely be back next week.

It was a tough run, with quite a few climbs - not that the Nike website shows this very well! I might come back to this in a later post - but of the four online trackers I use, I think Garmin Connect was the most accurate elevation profile. Generally:

  • the Nike profile is smoothed and there's no labelling of the elevation axis
  • the dailymile profile axes are labelled with imperial measurements (while I know the conversions, it would just be nicer if I could see it immediately in metric), the profile is also smoothed but not as much as the Nike one
  • the Strava profile axes are labelled with metric measurements and was the least smoothed of the four websites, but had a weird jump on the climb up from Tamarama beach where it jumps down to sea level, and then jumps back up. I think the GPS tracking mapped onto the actual beach for a bit, which was only 1 or 2 metres to my right, but none of the other websites had this problem
  • the Garmin profile was smoothed, but not as much as the dailymile one, and its axes are both labelled and with metric measurements. It didn't have the Tamarama problem, so it wins for this course.
I still like that you can quickly look at the Nike one and see the relative speed of the sections (although there's no such thing as "moving time" like there is on Strava and Garmin Connect), so I think I'll continue using it when putting together this run journal of sorts... The red section after 2km was because we attempted to make use of the almost full moon and go through Cooper Park. We struggled down the steps and decided to abort that section of the run. There were also quite a few lights on the run. 

One of my motivations for running with the Running Company is that it is relatively close to home (although I only just realised that Lululemon Bondi Junction now do their own run club on a Thursday night - they used to do theirs with the Running Company a while ago), and so I can get to know new sections to run to and through, such as the Tamarama steps! I always knew they were there, but never bothered to try running or walking through there as I'd always stuck to the beach course, not the road around and above the beach. 

Summary*: 6.6km @ 7:11/km

*Since I've been somewhat comparing the online trackers, this run was 6.8km @ 6:35/km on Strava, 6.8km @ 6:07/km on Garmin Connect and 6.8km on dailymile (no time tracking there). Also, I just briefly played with Training Peaks - it logged 6.8km too, the elevation profile looks about right and the pace data is very noisy. But it looks like I will only ever get "elapsed time" out of it and not "moving time", which is something Strava and Garmin Connect can do. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Early week runs!

I ended up thinking about the half-marathon for most of Monday, and decided the best way for me to assess if my legs really felt fine after covering 18km the previous day, would be to go for another run! I attempted to make it a very easy run by focussing on my breathing pattern (3 steps in, 2 steps out) and having an almost meditative breathing rate. It worked as my average pace for my the run was 6:45/km! As I felt fine, I signed up for the half-marathon in just under 4 weeks!

I covered 5km in my local area - going to Clovelly Beach and then to Coogee, although I avoided the stairs as I figured that would mess up my breathing. I didn't get the backstreet stair-avoidance streets quite right, but now that I've figured them out, I'm looking forward to more stair-avoidance recovery runs along that route.

I also went for a run on Tuesday night with the Nike+ Run Club, although this week was with the Broadway store. I really enjoyed the run last week with Warringah Mall - they didn't really have pace groups like the city and Broadway stores have (5:00. 5:30, and 6:00 are the paces that are generally catered for), so I was able to run at my manageable 5:45 pace with the group last week.

I wanted to stick with a group this week, but figured the 5:30 group would be a bit much over the 8km loop that was planned. So I started off with the 6:00 group, and found that quite comfortable - which wasn't unexpected. But after about 600m, I found a few people ran ahead of the group leader, so I figured I may as well head off with them.

Thanks to traffic lights, we caught up with the 5:30 group, and once we got going again, we had our own little 5:45 group of 3-4 runners. This became three as we approached the start of the Anzac Bridge climb, and while we lost one of our group, we picked up another from the main 5:30 group. Actually, the one we lost was a bit of an idiot and ran on the right-hand side of the road and into a cyclist. I told him he was an idiot (can you tell I'm a cyclist first?) and didn't bother to check if he was OK. I really didn't care - he made the stuff up. And there was no-one on the left hand side of the pathway anyway!

The run course itself was a hybrid of my regular Sunday 5km loop and a reverse of the Anzac Bridge Pre-Run loop, although it went through the back of the Fish Market instead of through Pyrmont. I always wanted to check what it was like going through the back of the Fish Market - as expected, it wasn't very smooth (two traffic lights), and it was a bit smellier than expected! So I think I'll stick to our current route for Sunday runs!

I do like Nike Run Club - I find that I can get a bit more useful information from other participants and the Run Club Leaders than I can through the meetup group. The Nike people are generally faster, and thus more experienced with running, so I suppose it's not that much of a surprise! But I was talking to one of the leaders at the end of the run last night (Shaun, I think) about the half-marathon, and the trickier bits of the course. He also told me that the 12km loop the Monday/Wednesday group does out of Pitt St covered the back end of the half-marathon, although not always in the same direction. Still, it seems like a good idea to run with the Monday Nike Run Club (I can't make Wednesdays) to get the more difficult part of the half-marathon into my legs.

So next week, I will make an effort to get to Pitt street at 5.30pm (it's a bit early, which is why I don't go normally, and why I can't go on Wednesdays as I'm in Sutherland during the day) to take on the Monday to take on the 12km course. Unlike last night, I will probably stick to the 6:00 pace group. :) While I had plans to go back to my runless Mondays next week (after all I won't be expecting to need to test my legs again anytime soon), it looks like I'll be having runless Tuesdays now.

Summary: 5.5km @ 6:45/km, and 7.5km @ 6:13/km

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Loooong distance day

I've decided that I don't really do proper long runs as the distance covered on Sundays is split across multiple runs, but I'm sure it must count for something - even if there was an 8 minute gap between the runs (as was the case today). So instead of Sunday being "long run day", it's "long distance day."

As I didn't need to go into the lab post-run today, I decided to run to the group run. I left just after 6.15am, and by the time I walked to my start point (giving the GPS unit time to find a satellite) it was 6.19am. There is a lift involved in my exit, and I really should just take the stairs... Nevermind.

With the group run starting at 7am, I couldn't really dawdle as I had planned to, but just kept at a comfortable pace the whole way. I didn't look at my watch during the run as I was using the thumbholes in my long-sleeved top, so I didn't really know what pace I was running at. And when I did check (at about 3km in), I only checked how time time I had left!

It was nice to let go of my need to stop the watch at traffic lights - not that I actually had any real extended stops. It's really not important that every single run is carefully timed, but it's a bit sad that it took a cool morning and thumbholes to make me let go. And it wasn't even that cold this morning - other runners about at the time were in singlets. But I tend to be cold, and I never felt hot, so my long-sleeved top was the right choice for me.

The Pre-Run today was meant to be 10km - except the course I mapped out was originally 10.4km. I figured if I rounded, then it would be 10, and not 11, and thus I wouldn't be deceiving the others in the group. But then I decided that it would be nicer to return along King St Wharf than through the city, so it became 10.7km. But what we actually did ended up covering over 11km as we then decided to also return through Pyrmont!

If I consider the distances provided by Strava, Garmin Connect and dailymile, I covered 6.4 and 11.7km today (with the 8 minute break between them). This comes to 18km. Add another 3km, and we have a half-marathon. The SMH half is on in four weeks - and early bird entries close on Wednesday... so I am now seriously considering the half-marathon! I've put some feelers out on the internet, and we'll see what other runners (and non-runners) think!

Summary: 6.2km @ 6:13/km + 11.4 @ 6:27/km

Mileage for the week: 25.1 km
A drop in the mileage for the week after some shin soreness from Tuesday's concrete path run, and lots of rain yesterday morning. Maybe that's why I felt OK during today's run!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Bondi Run Club - Week 6

I had made arrangements with one of the Mizuno representatives to bring along the Mizuno Nirvana and the Mizuno Inspire so that I could try them out on this morning's run. So I wore my older pink Wave Rider 14s - as the last time they brought all their trial shoes they noticed my orange Wave Riders, which were not a colour available in Australia! My womens 12 (and mens 10.5) feet were too large (and mid-sized) for what they brought that week, so I didn't try any shoes on. But after visiting the physio and noticing how sore I pulled up after Tuesday's hard-surface run, I decided that I had better start looking for new shoes.

It is currently BUCKETING down - it wasn't as intense this morning, but Bondi Run Club ended up being cancelled. A little disappointing as I was looking forward to trying out the Mizuno Nirvana and the Mizuno Inspire on the run, but also understandable. As I said to one fo the girls from The Athlete's Foot - I don't mind running in the rain, but you may now want to run in the rain as a group event in case some who are uncomfortable running in the rain do so out of peer pressure!

Then it was briefly exceptionally intense, and we decided to leave - although I was also offered the option of doing the group personal training with Vision at Randwick. I decided to give it a go, but to dump my car at home and then walk up to the training studio (they're very close to me). On my drive out of Centennial Park (I drove as it was raining and in case I needed quick cover - which was the case), I saw the other girl from The Athlete's Foot riding in, completely soaked. Hopefully she found out what had happened!

I had never participated in group personal training before - and now that I've done it, it's actually a lot better than expected. Well, at least the way Vision Randwick run it! They had a circuit set up, and you work in 2 minute intervals with a partner. When in this "team" you try to go for as far (on the cardio equipment) or do as many reps in that 2 minute period - swapping with your partner as you fatigue. Each team then records what they did - so there's a competitive side to it, but also a supportive side as you have your parter within each circuit activity and then everyone in the session between circuit activities (where you do planks, hold squats, do crunches, etc.)

I wasn't sure how my hands* were going to cope with the rows, pull-downs, push-ups and planks, but managed to get through the session. I suppose I'll know later tonight or tomorrow about how they really went. On my walk home down one of the relatively steep hills in Randwick I noticed my feet rolling in a fair bit, and made a mental note to compare the rolling in to my orange Wave Riders when I got home. After the comparison at home, I decided to banish my pink Wave Riders. I can't visually spot the difference, but it was quite obvious when using them once I'd spotted the problem.

It's still raining, and quite heavily at times, but I'm hoping it will ease off enough in the afternoon to go for an easy run. It's a bit hard to tell as I live close to the coast and there's only so much distance that the radar can cover!

Friday, April 19, 2013

My running history and my Mizuno Wave Rider 14s

I have been quite the stop-start runner since I started running in May 2011. My first break after I started was about two months after my arthoroscopy - I can't remember what happened. Actually, my dailymile entries reveal I had swollen knee fat pads. A month later I started up again and managed to run at least once a week... until I went home for Christmas!

I really didn't get going again until March last year, and managed one to three runs each week until the Nike She Runs event. I took a few weeks off running and when I restarted, I found I was bored of running. So I only went out once a week, and then once a fortnight until the City2Surf.

I then took another break until I finally joined the Inner West Joggers Meetup group - their Tuesday and Thursday runs were a bit difficult to attend, and their Sunday morning runs clashed with my cycling group. But I gave in and have been running fairly consistently since joining them in November 2012.

I've added 300km to my pink Wave Riders since then (and 100km to my orange ones) - bringing their total mileage to 600km (and 250km). I've been looking at some forums and found that most Wave Rider 14 users got anywhere from 500 to 600km out of theirs, with the occasional user getting up to 1000km from them. I am on the heavier side, and as my physio recommended I change my long-run (and more regularly used) pair from the pink to the orange, it seems like my pink pair are close to the end of their life.

The tread wear on both runners is actually very similar, despite the 350km difference! Most wear is on the outside at the front of the shoe - a clear indicator of how I roll (*chuckle*).

I think the 350km difference in the shoes is a little more obvious when looking at the heel cushioning of the shoe - I think my pink pair looks flatter laterally, so it doesn't support the inside of my heel like it used to. Or perhaps I'm just convincing myself there's a difference! I tend to change my gait from mid-foot strike to heel strike when either I am going downhill or my calves tighten up, so it's understandable that heel of the pink shoe is flatter than the orange shoe. I think this is what the physio spotted.

Now that I am running regularly, and increasing how far I run, I don't think that my next pair of runners will be of a neutral type, like the Wave Rider 14s (even if I do use my orthotics).  So I have started to look at motion control shoes - before my knee injury I used to use the Asics 21xx, and then moved onto Brooks Adrenalines for a couple of generations. After the knee injury I went for the super-cushy Adidas Adistar Salvations, which I then found impossible to run in.

Don't get me wrong, I have been happy with the Wave Riders - they got me running after my arthroscopy, and still work well for me on (what are now) shorter runs. But I feel that I need more arch support as I increase the distance of my long run to beyond the 14-15km that I have run so far!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Nike Run Club – Warringah Mall

On Monday and Wednesday nights, Nike takes over Sydney's streets with over 200 runners participating in their Run Club. They also have Run Clubs on Tuesday and Thursday nights at stores and pop-up shops  in Glebe, Broadway and Warringah Mall.

Today I had another hour of work at Sydney's northern shores, so I chose to join the Nike Warringah Mall Run Club. I didn't know what to expect, although I did know that it was a much smaller group than what Pitt Street Nike experiences. They had two groups at the Run Club: the "speedy" group, and a slower group. I said I was going to be part of the slower group, but as we were walking outside I was chatting to one of the girls who normally ran with the speedy group. She said that they typically ran at a pace of 10 to 11 km/h. This seemed manageable to me, so when we started running, I headed off with the speedy group.

My Nike GPS watch couldn't find a satellite until 2 km into the run! So as I was running with the speedy group, I have absolutely no idea what pays for running at. It felt like a solid pace, but I wasn't sure if I could sustain it for however far we were running. Eventually, my watch found a satellite. And because we were doing a out and back type of course, I figured that it didn't really matter that I had a delayed electronic start – even though I wasn't completely familiar with the area, and out and back course means that it is easy to figure out where you ran at the start because you are covering it at the end.

Of course, the one piece of information I was missing was how long it took for us to complete those first 2 km!  As it felt quite fast, and because there was a steep downhill, I am assuming that we covered those first kilometres at about 5:30 min/km. That was also the pace for the first electronic kilometre.  But, I suppose all I really care about is the distance covered, and if I felt like it was a good run.

In the end, I stuck with the speedy group and absolutely loved having someone to chase that I felt I could chase (you see, there is someone exceptionally fast who runs with us on Sundays – heck, he ran a half marathon in 80 minutes – and I do not understand why he chooses to run with us 6 to 6:30 min/km ladies, and so is an inapplicable hare in my opinion). I enjoyed the new (to me) course, and the attitude of the company. There was no coffee afterwards, and no stupid small talk. I enjoy running with groups as I end up running in places I wouldn't run if it was just me on my own.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to join Warringah Mall Run Club next week as I have no reason to be on north shore next week. But I will endeavour to schedule my north shore time the week after on Tuesday afternoon.

Summary: 7.51 km @ 5:51* min/km

*Meh, I'll just stick to the Nike+ website average pace.

Boston Marathon

My heart and thoughts are with the city of Boston; the participants, supporters, volunteers and organisers of the Boston Marathon;  the nurses, doctors and emergency staff stationed at the event, and those at hospitals around Boston; and finally, to anyone else affected by the Boston Marathon explosion.


Last night, I went to sleep after following about 20 minutes of the Boston Marathon. This morning, I woke to find that there had been an explosive attack at the end of the race at about the four hour mark. I never thought that a sporting event such as the marathon (and I mean any marathon), would be subject to an attack of this type.

Everyone who participates in a marathon gains respect from me. I know how much training, how much time is spent, how many sacrifices are made, to attempt the 42 km event.  I don't know the specifics, but I understand the effort. It is an event that one undertakes as a challenge to themselves. I don't believe that it is about telling everyone how fantastic a runner one is because they have completed a marathon. Instead, it is something that every finisher will keep for themselves.

Sometimes runners cannot complete an event. If their bodies can't hold up to the stress of the marathon, or if nature provides excessively hot weather or dangerous storms, I feel sorry for the participant and hope that they will give it another go some other day.

But what happened overnight in Boston, did not just affect the participants. It was an attack on everyone involved in the event. I don't know how to take a bomb placed in the crowd that explodes at the four-hour mark. The people finishing at that time are the Everyman: our friends, our family, our neighbours, the many random people that we just pass on the street,  and many more that we shall never encounter. The people watching the finish at that time are the friends, family, and general supporters of everyone who participates in that event - not just those finishing at four hours. Is there meant to be a reason for the attack? To target the support of the event, is that to attack the underlying structure that supports our society? I just don't understand.

It just makes me angry, and very upset that so many were hurt and killed during an event that originates from the end of a battle.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The long-ish run and a bit

After covering just over 10km in one hit on Thursday, I'm not sure if I can still call Sunday my long run day. While I cover a greater distance on Sundays, it is split between two runs. Although I'm not sure if I'll really have the time to extend the distance on a weeknight. Anyway, back to the Sunday runs - which were the same courses as last week.

I covered the first course of 8km in 48:52 (so the average pace was 6:05/km), and decided to increase the pace for the last km - it ended up being close to 5min/km. The second run was a lot slower, which is what normally happens anyway - we covered the ~5km course in 31:50 (with an average pace of 6:25/km).

My legs felt like they had more kilometres in them, but I had to go to the lab after the run. Also, my mileage for the week was already at 10% more than the previous week's, and I'm being careful not to overdo the running by only increasing the mileage by 10%.

I'm looking forward to covering 10km + 5km next week (I'm changing the Anzac Bridge loop to a Harbour Bridge course for the next couple of weeks - and then we'll alternate between the two). I'm thinking of taking the bus in next week - that way I can add another 6km to the run next week if I run home. We'll see how I go during the week.

Finally - one of our runners, Thu, attempted both courses for the first time today and managed to finish both! She also PB'd yesterday at St Peters parkrun, although just missed out on going under 30minutes by a few seconds! I'd say she's had a great weekend with her running!

Summary: 8.0 km @ 6:05 min/km + 4.9km @ 6:25 min/km

Mileage for the week: 37km

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bondi Run Club - Week 5

With the end of daylight savings and shorter days, Bondi Run Club was moved from Tuesday evenings  to Saturday mornings at 7am. Both times worked well for me given how close I live to Centennial Park - but that clearly wasn't the case for everyone! We went from a group of about 25 to less than 10 - and a third of those were from Mizuno and The Athlete's Foot!

Nevertheless, it was a great morning for a run. Sure, I would have been at parkrun in St Peters if this wasn't on, but a start earlier than parkrun meant I could head over to Manly earlier to get some work done (I have to head over four days in a row, and each day I go in an hour later - so getting started earlier on Day 1 makes a difference).

The change in time didn't just affect the participants - the trainers from Vision weren't there this morning. So we decided to go for two laps on the inside track of Centennial Park. I didn't really mind - I decided to treat it as a tempo run.

It ended up being a fairly even run - except for a bit of a decrease in pace in places that were a bit uphill, and a patch early on where we slowed down to regroup and stretch. The second slow patch occurred at halfway - one of the participants rolled his ankle and I slowed down to see what had happened.

I suppose that's the trade-off of using the inner track. The direct impact on your joints from each step taken is less than on hard surfaces, but the uneven track means you need to be a little more careful to avoid rolling ankles and putting too much sideways pressure on knees!

Like Thursday's run, I found it difficult to settle into this run - while I eventually got there on Thursday, it didn't really happen today. Not sure if it was because it was early morning and I drove there (compared to having been awake all day, or a very slow start as I do on solo runs), because I'd had a few beers the night before, or because I had swapped into my older runners (still with the new orthotics). I found the surface too soft, and while I blame my runners, how much of that was due to my runners? As a result my calves would tighten (dehydration from last night?) and I would switch to heel striking, and then go back to my more natural-feeling mid-foot strike when it eased up. And then heel-strike... and then mid-foot, etc. No wonder I didn't settle in at all!

In the end the pace was good for me, so am happy with the run despite my settling issues!

Summary: 7.1 km* @ 5:38 min/km 

*I just recalled that there are measurements for the inside track on an information sign near the cafe, so it'd be interesting to compare my Nike+ website measurement to reality.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A scenic trail and some nasty hills!

I am currently working a few hours a week around Manly - although my "few" hours is actually split into about an hour per visit. This means I'm over on the north shore three to four days a week. On weekends I head over after my morning runs, and during the week I head over in the afternoon. As the toll for the Harbour Bridge drops from $4 to $2.50 at 7pm, I use the two hours or so between my work and "cheaper toll" time point to go for a run.

I had a long run planned for this evening, but then I decided to try running through the Dobroyd Head section of Sydney Harbour National Park. In the three years I've lived in Sydney, I had never visited any of the Sydney Harbour National Park sections (well, except for riding up to the top of North Head on my bike, and having a workshop at Q station).

The map generated on the Nike+ website doesn't give the first half of the run any justice. There were some really beautiful views between the second and fifth kilometre, and I definitely need to drag my parents to the Dobroyd Scenic Drive the next time they visit!

So this was my second trail run, even if the trail section of this run was only about 4km. But those 4km were definitely more difficult than the 9-10km loop I took around Manly Dam a few weeks ago. I think that there was a lot more climbing (and descending) today, and I think that those slopes were far steeper. I don't trust my coordination going down stairs, so I do tend to be quite slow going down - they were also fairly wet today as we'd had some good rain in the past week.

The second half of the run on roads through Balgowlah Heights was still quite difficult thanks to the hills in the area! But I tend to prefer hills and a variation in elevation to completely flat area, especially if there is little cover (*cough* Homebush *cough*). Not sure when I'll attempt this run again - I have so many more areas of North Balgowlah, Manly, Freshwater and Curl Curl that I want to explore!

Summary: 10.1* km @ 8:14 min/km

*The GPX file generated by my Nike+ GPS Sportswatch comes up as 11.1 on Strava, Garmin & dailymile. This is not the only time the Nike website has come up with a lower number than the other websites, but it is one of the biggest differences I've encountered so far. I choose to stick to the Nike+ for my summaries here as I would rather be told that I'm slower than I actually am, and then have good runs for official courses!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A run of firsts

First evening run of the year where it was actually dark, and first run with my new orthotics. I haven't run to Bondi Junction and back for a while, and I'd forgotten how hard the surface is on the route. Alternately, it could be that I'm wearing new orthotics that are still quite stiff! I sometimes find my runners "spongey", but that definitely didn't occur today!

I found it difficult to settle into the run today, which is obvious when you look at the pace time series. I was running a full minute faster than I had hoped! (I don't really look at my watch when running unless I'm with a group and am conscious of running a pace that everyone is comfortable with.) I wanted to go for an easy run as I wasn't sure how the orthotics would go. As I said, they were a little stiffer than what I was used to, but the arch felt fine - which is what I was most worried about. We'll see how my feet feel when I wake up tomorrow!

Summary: 6.4 km @ 6:23 min/km

Monday, April 8, 2013

Physio time!

It had been a while since I last saw the physio for leg issues - it may have been the week after City2Surf, so that makes it over seven months ago. I also have physio-prepared orthotics (instead of proper podiatrist-prepared ones), and I suspect they'd be close to two years old... so I decided to ask if it was about time I had them replaced. Unsurprisingly, the answer was, "Yes."

Now I have:

  • looser ITBs
  • new orthotics (although I should let them rest for a couple of days to recover from the heat gun treatment and moulding)
  • a recommendation to swap my fuchsia Mizuno Wave Rider 14s with my orange Mizuno Wave Rider 14s (as the fuchsia pair looked like they'd taken the brunt of my running and likely needed replacing in the near future)
  • a note that my right quad is still weaker than my left quad (I had surgery on the right knee about two years ago), especially the inner quad.
Here's to my life of foam rolling, shoe swapping and single leg lifts!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Sunday Runs

Sunday is probably my proper long run day - although it's actually two runs, with a few minutes break inbetween. It started as an easy group run of about 5km from Victoria Park (hereby known as "The Run"), and then I decided to increase my mileage with a "Pre-Run", which others saw me finish up and expressed an interest in joining. So now we have the Pre-Run, followed by The Run (which will stay at 5km so that it is still accessible to any new runners).

I had originally mapped out a 7km Pre-Run loop that took us over the ANZAC Bridge, but could never get the end of the run quite right. I do have a good general sense of direction, so we explored new areas of Glebe at the end of the run. Last week I was away, so the group found a new way to finish the run!

This week I decided to take a slightly different route to the bridge, which when combined with the end the group took last week, took our group run closer to 8km. An extra lap around Victoria Park brought the run up to 8km. I'm hoping that we're not far away from a Harbour Bridge return loop of just over 10km. :)

The Run hasn't changed at all since I joined the group in November . It's a 5km loop around Blackwattle Bay and it tends to be a little slower than the Pre-Run as this is the run newer runners join, and we like to keep the group together. Of course, that doesn't stop the faster ones speeding up at the end because the traffic lights along Glebe Point Road bring us together again!

Summary: 8.0 km @ 6:09 min/km + 4.9km @ 6:22 min/km

Milage for the week: 33km

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Bondi Run Club - Week 4

Bondi Run Club is organised by The Athlete's Foot at Bondi Junction, with trainers from Vision Personal Training, and sponsored by Mizuno (which is how I heard about the group - I'm a fan of Mizuno on Facebook). We're four weeks into the training and is aimed at those entering the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon, which is in mid-May. I'm not entering the half, but attend the training because it's free and it's fun. I also managed to convince Anna from uni with me - although I think she now enjoys running, so it's not that difficult to convince her to join. I enjoy our chats as we walk over to Centennial Park from uni - although this week we jogged over.

Week 4 was our last Tuesday evening session, with the next session being on a Saturday morning next week - but there was talk of keeping up the Tuesday sessions, at least in an informal capacity. So we'll see what happens next week. No doubt Anna and I will jog over and join in.

I don't think much of the trainers with their knowledge of running. I may not look like a runner, but having been involved in track and field from Little Aths and through to a few years of seniors-level, I do know a little bit. Although most of it from talking to coaches and other athletes, as I never actually did train with the runners - I was a discus and hammer thrower. I did do cross country in Little Aths, and that's where I learned about not being flat-footed, about leaning forward to climb up hills more easily (or rather, less painfully), good running technique (although I don't think I really executed this well - I was a tail ender and didn't really care) and about finishing strongly.

But I still attend the training as there is a good cross-section of fast and slow runners, and because the activities themselves are good (and the trainers are good at managing what you can/can't do and keeping you going - I mainly don't agree with their warmup). We've had time trials, hill days and today was another set of "time trials" - with the aim of producing negative splits over two laps of the inside track at Centennial Park.

Now I've never really been the type to hold back in order to obviously produce a faster subsequent lap, I'd rather settle into a pace that is tough but manageable, and then try to push it during the next lap. We were meant to try for a lap that was a minute faster - I only managed 2 seconds faster! At the end, Anna  said she was going to suggest we ramp up the speed earlier than when we did - although I don't know how I would have felt at the end of the run if I "kicked" earlier!

Summary: 2.5 km @ 6:13 min/km + 7.1km @ 5:27 min/km

Monday, April 1, 2013

The first long run

I don't normally run with my iPod, but when I do, it's because I'm in Centennial Park. It is so close to home that I'm very familiar with it, and it's generally flat - great for beginners, but gets boring after a while. There are a few slopes to incorporate into runs and make routes more interesting, which is great as it means one can cover a good distance on a nice surface (there are extensive bitumen paths, grassed areas, and trails) without having to worry too much about traffic (speed limits of 30km/h, and only goes in one direction on the main road around the park). There is also plenty of free parking if you happen to be in your car on your way home, or by necessity to reach the park.

On Monday, I decided to try to run 10km based on the roads and paths in and near the park. I didn't get my "long" run in on Sunday, so it had to happen on Monday. My previous Sunday runs had been a 7km group run followed by a 5km group run - so 10km in one hit was going to be my longest run so far (well, since September last year).

I didn't plan the specifics of the run, I just knew that I would go for a run on my drive home, that the start of the run would depend on where I parked, and that I would try to avoid laps - I find them incredibly tedious. I ended up being lucky and found a spot to park my car near the main cafe and toilets. So I started from the cafe and headed counter-clockwise on the main walking track.

Eventually I came to Robinson Drive which is the start of one of the steepest hills available at Centennial Park, and I decided to climb up. Once at the top, you can either go back the way you came (which I think is a bit silly) or take a left and slowly make your way back down to the cafe via a different route. I chose to go left, and continued on the main path but now in a clock-wise direction. I was determined to minimise how much ground I covered twice.

I also wanted to make the most of the tracks leading out and around Centennial Park - anything to stop going around in circles! So once I reached to the main gate, I headed out towards Anzac Parade. Eventually I was running on the path next to Anzac Parade and heading south. So far I was feeling good - not great, but good enough to maintain that pace for what I thought 10km would feel like. While I wear a GPS watch, I don't look at it regularly. I would rather get in time with my body than with a clock, and let the running come naturally. The outer path I was on goes all the way around the southern end of the park, turning left at Alison Road, and left again at Darley Road to bring you to another entrance to Centennial Park. Alternately, one could turn right at the entrance and stay outside of the park - which is what I did.

This section of the course is interesting, and I definitely notice the slow incline when I'm on my bike. It may be uphill, but it's flatter than the rest of Alison Road, and after a very long ride I prefer long and slightly uphill to short and sharp. I could also definitely notice the slow incline on the run - I began to wonder how long I had been running. Was I close to 10? Nah, couldn't possibly be - but my legs could feel that they were being worked. So I snuck a peak. 6.7km. WHAT?

In the end, I covered 10km around the park and the only thing I repeated was a hill and descent at the north-eastern end of the park! I did it once at the start of the run, and once at the end of the run. While my pace was fairly steady throughout the run, taking the hill a second time at the end was hard work and it shows. The pace peaks at the end are some intervals I did while listening to Kasabian's Fire - I can't help but be influenced by the music to run faster during their chorus. I just didn't have the energy/capacity/fitness to maintain it for the whole song!

Summary: 10 km @ 5:54 min/km