Saturday, June 28, 2014

Back on track

You may have noticed that I updated the links and pages across the top of the blog recently, and also given the blog a bit of a refresh. I'm also using tumblr again - mainly as an edited version of my Instagram account, but I also make references to my Nike-recorded running activities there (I love my Nike+ GPS Sportswatch too much to use my Garmin Forerunner 610 all the time).

I don't want to have too much duplication between my tumblr and Blogger pages, but I think I've got the balance almost right - pictures over there, text-heavy things here. My tumblr is still going through a backlog of Instagram shots I hadn't forwarded yet, but eventually the two will be temporally synced.

Back to running - I have to say that deciding to enter the Sri Chimnoy Yarra Boulevard 10km and City2Sea have helped get my running back on track, and got me interested in my blog and online presence a little bit more than I had been lately. I'm also paying a bit more attention to the digital badges Smashrun offer - so I'm starting to work towards them (within reason of course) as they're nice little short-term goals.

You can see from the screencaps below that I have a long way to go in both sets of badges! There are some which require an increased workload over multiple months (the stairs series as part of Kelly's set), but I only need another 9km before the end of the month to make progress on the most intense of these. Some are a bit out of reach right now (eg. Kelly's Mercury and Fast & Slow badges require sub 4:20/km paced runs - and doing short runs right now feels like cheating) but there are many that I should be able to complete in the next few months!

Meanwhile, I came across a Lululemon running Strava Challenge this week, but left pretty quickly once I realised how obvious I was being about the Challenge hijack! I doubt Strava would make the management of their Challenges more complex than it currently is, but I can be quite paranoid at times! I've got a few weeks until it starts anyway, so I can re-join it in mid July. Although it does coincide with Rapha Rising, which I don't expect to complete but I do like the challenge climbing because the internet told me to. [01/07/14: Turns out this one wasn't a secret challenge after all!]

However, the wind in Melbourne hasn't really made cycling all that much fun. I did finally do the Mt Pleasant loop last weekend. There are quite a few sharp but climbs on that route, and my chain did fall off* near the base of the longest climb, but it was a great way to spend Sunday afternoon. I'd like to do that loop more often, especially with the Rapha Women's 100 coming up, but this wind needs to go away!

* My chain hasn't come off for as long as I can remember!!! 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Halfway through the year

So we're more or less at the halfway point of the year. Of all the goals I set myself at the end of last year, I have run in the Puffing Billy Great Train Race and ditched the orthotics. I can now run 10km without them! I've been in a running rut, so my performance-based goals haven't really been happening.

I did improve my 5km time when I went to visit Highlands parkrun, and ran sub-25 (24:52) for the first time. But I hadn't been working towards that at all and just headed out for a hard tempo run, so I was (a) surprised at the time, and (b) ambivalent about the time. So now I have six months to get back into gear and achieve the outstanding goals:
  1. 23:30 for a flat 5km 
  2. 24:30 at Westerfolds parkrun
  3. 49:30 for 10km
  4. 1:49:00 for a half-marathon
  5. get down to 75kg.
I didn't end up entering the Run for the Kids (or the RunMelbourne 10k, or Melbourne Marathon half-marathon), but I'm eyeing off the Sri Chinmoy Yarra Boulevard 10km in September and the City2Sea 14km in November, and am also thinking about the Sussan Women's half-marathon in December. I even put a "Race" calendar together - although it's just a list of the above events with a few thoughts on each at this stage!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

6 weeks without orthotics

I remember the day I purchased my first pair of Mizuno Wave Riders - I had hopped onto the treadmill at the Running Company Bondi and had my running style filmed. At this point it may have been about 4 weeks 6 weeks (I checked my records after publishing this post) since my knee arthroscopy and I was just starting to get back into running, 1 minute at a time. The thing was was most obvious was that there was nothing really wrong with my running style - I landed on my forefoot, mostly on the outside of the foot, the foot would roll inwards while my ankle stayed steady (although less so on my left foot). According to the video, there was no real need for orthotics. But to err on the side of caution, we ended up with the Wave Riders as they felt the best with my orthotics.

I built up my ability to run slowly, and occasionally ran without the orthotics. Or rather, tried to run. My legs were still really quite weak when it came to running. They would tire very easily - the calves would effectively seize and stop working, and I found it impossible to manage more than 2km unless I resorted to running in a style more similar to race-walking (something I had done quite a bit when younger, thanks to Little Aths). I gave up on not using the orthotics and decided to just work on being able to run, or at least have the aerobic capacity to run.

When the time came to pick up another pair of shoes (this was after a second pair of Wave Riders), I went back to the treadmill at the Running Company and the result was the same as the last time I was there - it still didn't look like I needed the orthotics. With a bit more confidence, I picked a pair of shoes that felt fine as they were and without orthotics - the Saucony Triumph. I remember my first run in them, a short run taking the long way to uni. It would only have been about 3km, and I don't recall feeling bad during the run but my calves hated me the next day. The next time I tried the Triumphs (alternating with the second pair of Wave Riders) was with the orthotics, and I didn't have any problems on the run or the day after.

My orthotics were set up for me because of imbalances in my legs when running (and walking), and the physio always thought that I could get by without them at some point if my legs were strong enough. So ditching the orthotics wasn't an aim of convenience (as it is annoying having to move them about from shoe to shoe), but an aim that would indicate progress in leg strength and in running ability. As long as I kept going to the gym to work on the right leg strength exercises, I would be able to ditch the orthotics.

But lab experiments took up time and eventually ruined my hands, so I found I didn't really have the time (or ability) to go to the gym, and my legs felt weaker and weaker. I stuck to the Wave Riders and the orthotics, occasionally using the less supportive Triumphs on shorter runs but never being truly comfortable in them.

It wasn't until after I'd moved back to Melbourne, got back on the bike regularly and ended up ditching the orthotics on the bike that I started to feel like perhaps I could get back onto the "no orthotics" horse. I suppose the bike had been strengthening my legs for running more than I realised, as I found I could use the Triumphs without the orthotics for runs up to 5km or so without any problems whatsoever. I didn't even need to build up to the distance!

I wasn't sure if I could manage the Puffing Billy run's 13.5km in the Triumphs, so I stuck with the Wave Riders for my long runs, and thus also for the Puffing Billy. The more I ran in the Triumphs, the more I realised I really didn't like the Wave Riders anymore.

It's now been six weeks since the Puffing Billy run, and thus six weeks of only using the Triumphs and not using orthotics. I've done a few 10km runs in them (although most have been two 5km runs with a short break between the two chatting to parkrun folk or driving to another park) and everything feels fine. No calf soreness, and my arches don't feel like they miss the support from the orthotics!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Hijacking Strava Challenges

So I figured out how to find the sneaky, hidden Strava Challenges. You know, the ones that you see in other people's feeds but aren't on the board!

I'm going to try and keep an eye on hidden challenges - I'm looking forward to seeing what other communities within Strava do. For example, the FebFifteen challenge was also a "secret" one that was publicised by CyclingTips and word of mouth (and Strava feeds). The Battle of June (actually it's the Batalla de Junio) challenge is associated with a bike shop in Barcelona, and the AMR series was for Another Mother Runner (thanks Google).

So while I have no intention of completing the 48 hours of cycling in 24 days challenge (Batalla de Junio), I joined up to see how far knowledge of it could spread in my little set of connections (based on assuming that I am patient zero for all my Strava networks, which may or may not be true). So far I've infected two people in Strava groups, and one of the Breeze ladies... *cue manic laughter*

Friday, June 6, 2014

The top of the hill

So it's not truly representative of what you see when you hit the top of the hill during parkrun, all that you miss by not being there earlier is the sunrise and the fog lifting. Definitely the best parkrun in Melbourne.

Although this weekend the course is being run in reverse, so if we're lucky we may see some hot air balloons ahead of us as we hit the top!

Looking north from the top of the Westerfolds parkrun hill - this would be on your left as you follow the path.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Highlands parkrun

I'm slowly going around and getting the Victorian parkruns under my belt, or rather, feet! Highlands parkrun celebrated their first birthday a couple of weekends ago, and so I decided to make the trip over to the north-west suburbs of Melbourne.

I was going to cycle over and then either take the train(s) home or cycle back. It would have been a 50km trip up, which I think is manageable, but when I woke up I decided it was too bloody cold and so I drove over. I wouldn't normally write about this kind of thing, but it ever so slightly backfired when it came to getting to the actual parkrun I had all the bicycle paths mapped in my head, but not the roads! Oops.

The parkrun course is in a not-yet-finished Stocklands estate where some of the road connections aren't actually finished (or still being developed). I ended up having to navigate via north-south-east-west and making adjustments to my route if I hit a main road again. I still got there on time, but I really should have looked at a road map before leaving (I do carry the Melways with me in the car, but rarely use it unless I am really lost or have no idea where I'm going, and the bike paths in my head gave me a false sense of security, lol).

Highlands parkrun is a fairly flat, three-lap course. I don't know if I could do a three-lap course every week, but I did enjoy myself on their birthday run. I was a bit disoriented during the first lap, but started to pick a few places out when I was along on the second lap, so the third lap was the only one where I actually knew where I was going. The laps aren't just curves and straights, and I think their wibbly-wobbly time-wimey nature just made doing laps more interesting and contributed to the pseudo-bewilderment (in a good way).

The run starts and finishes on the boardwalk near Waterside Cafe (which was open before parkrun kicked off), and initially the runners head off in a north-east direction along the boardwalk before taking the left turn, passing through the start-line in the opposite direction and then doing the three clockwise laps of the lake (and a little bit more).

There were 55 parkrunners on the day, which was a course record! They most definitely are a very small parkrun community, but I think they have a great setup with the cafe (and toilets), plenty of parking and also plenty of bike parking around the lake. If I have the time (and excuse), I'd definitely head out there again. Of course I'd need to be fitter in order to cycle there AND get a PB (I got under 25 min for the first time, although I was just going for a "solid" run at the time), but if I wait until their 2nd birthday there may be cake at the end again!

This was their birthday cake. Awesome, right?