I’m going skiing

Tonight I’m leaving for a week to the snow. Valmeinier 1800, France here I come.

Gone for a week is no running for a week … probably 😀
I am taking my running shoes along, I would really like to get some hilly jogs in a nice crisp air.

But I’ll see where the week takes me.

Probably no blog posts next week, although there is WiFi, so you never know.

Do you like wintersports? Are you go skiing/snowboarding this season?

Race recap: Trail Du Mont 25-01-2015

For more details about the race itself, see my previous post. In short: the race was 30km (~19mi) with 780m ascension.

I set out to this race with a ‘tough training’ in mind, but I got more than I bargained for…

Muddy underground…

It was muddy and when the mud stopped, there was more mud.
Naah, I’m exaggerating now, but there sure were bits that were really bad as you can see above.

But let me get back a bit. There were more people at the start than an average trail, but there was a solo part (30k) and a duo part (20k) and they both started at the same time.
I felt good at the start, despite the fact that I had one hell of a work-week.

Me at the left, don’t I look well-rested 😉

The start was downhill, so when the gun went off, a lot of speeders set out almost tumbling over each other.
Still convinced I was going for a tough training I let a lot of people pass me and searched my own pace.
After a good 3km (~2mi) we headed in the forest and that’s where the mud started.
At first it was fu, but soon we got out at a single track with still an awful lot of people (solo & duo still together at this point), which meant almost everyone was walking here. I got a bit annoyed because I was here to run, but seeing the steep hills in front of me I got it why the walking had started.

This is one of the less steep, more muddy forest parts…

The forest part was roughly 4km (~2,5 miles) and after that I already had sore quads.
Not sure if it would be as fun as anticipated I saw only nice fields in front of me.
The next 16km (~10 miles) went actually quite uneventful, because I just found a nice pace and kept on going while enjoying the view.

A bit dark, but up at the hills, the view was nice!

Simple and nice!

The last part was the heaviest, because at about 4km (~2.5 mi) before the end we got into the forest again and it was a repetition of the first part.
Steep muddy hills which got you slipping down the path. Luckily there wasn’t so many people as in the first part, so I got to running when I wanted.
The very end was an ascent of about 15% and once up there, it was just running towards the finish.

Time and distance

Average pace and speed

In the end I finished 55th out of 253, so all in all it was a very nice race!

Recovery Run Around The House

As I had a tougher race than anticipated yesterday (Trail Du Mont, race report coming this week) I woke up with sore quads this morning.
Seeing that Monday and Wednesday are my running days and I can’t really move them around, the question was if I would go running this evening or not.

I decided a recovery run was in order, so after work I headed out.
Only half a mile away from home I noticed that the quads were more sore than hoped.

So instead of going on my regular run that consists of running away for X kilometer and then back again I decided to run laps around my house.
The diameter of my town is about 3.3 km (~2 miles) with an awful lot of shortcuts should I wanted to head home early.

The sight wasn’t bad. Hooray for slightly longer days!

The plan for this week (made before the race) was twice 90 minutes of running, once in my zone 1 and once in my zone 2.
For my Goal For 2015 of running 2500km this year I should end with 210km per month. Those 2 runs would get me in that range, but stepping out today soon put me in another mindset.

Nice and easy and fairly short would do it today. Waking the legs to help the recovery.

I ended up with 3 laps, good for a good 11km (~7 miles) which isn’t all that bad in the end.

Do you go running the day after a race? Always or only up to a certain race distance?
Have you got a backup plan like this if you feel your legs aren’t all that?

My Step To Ultra

As you might have read on my blog here before I’ve run a marathon in October 2013. (Posts here, here and here, race recap here).
Seeing that the marathon is a mighty big goal, I lacked motivation once finished to continue running for a while.
I still enjoyed it, it helped me relax etc, but feeling that I had nothing to achieve gnawed at me apparently.
This went on for about four months and then I got invited to join a noncompetition trail run at half an hour drive away.
I went there with a couple of friends whom I never met before in real life, but chatted a lot online.

The run was 25km (~15.5 miles) with some nice hills and about 85% off-road. Nothing too hard, but much more enjoyable than constant asphalt.
We went out at about 5:30min/km and roughly continued at this pace the entire run.
Coming towards the finish I still felt very strong and had the feeling I was able to add a lot more distance if it were necessary.
The day after I wasn’t too sore, nothing worse than a tough interval day.

It than came to me that ultra maybe was possible.
If 25km went this easy, I felt obligated to myself to give it a shot.

We’re talking March-April 2014 here and after some looking around on the Internet I found a nice and easy 50k run at Maasmechelen at the end of June.
It consisted of 4 laps and knowing my daughter was coming (turned out to be April 15), I thought this the best for my girlfriend. This way she could come along and see me a couple of times passing without having to drive around herself.

So this meant I needed to start training.
For my marathon I hadn’t really followed a strict training plan, so I figured I wouldn’t look for one now either.

I focused on upping my mileage steadily with some stabilization now and then. Once again, being a ‘new dad’ meant I had to compromise towards my running (with pleasure off course :-), so I only had the time for 2 runs in the week and one long run in the weekend.
In the end I started with:

  • 1 run in my Zone 1 (Heart rate zones, see here…) for 70 minutes
  • 1 run in my Zone 2 for 70 minutes
  • Long run of 22km

And decided to go with:

  • 1 week adding 5 minutes to my Z1/Z2 runs
  • 5k adding (first time 3 to come at a proper distance) to my long run
  • Running the same as the week before

Rinse and repeat…

I had 12 weeks to go and managed to follow it quite strictly

My schema

Ending with a 40k run, which was 80% of the distance made me feel confident about the race to come.

Race report coming in a later post, hope you enjoyed 🙂

Counting down to the next race

This Sunday I have another race coming up, but as I stated before, this will be ‘a run for fun’.

Saturday I went running 25km (~15mi) and that’s the furthest I’ve run since the end of October.
I really really wanted to do a 30km run before the race next week, but holidays, work regimes, being sick just didn’t make it happen…
The distance won’t be a problem, in combination the hills it could get a bit harder than I’d like.

But it’s together with an “online running group”, a lot of people I haven’t actually met before, so fun will be had, no doubt about that.

Last week I totaled at 60km (~37 mi), this week I will be staying abroad again and I would like to run my route twice and perhaps half of it once.
That would give me a marvelous week, distance wise and would put me back “in the game” of high mileage I hope.

I wish you all a happy run week and may Monday be in your favour 😉

Review Garmin Forerunner 310xt

My GPS watch is a Garmin Forerunner 310xt.
DC Rainmaker does an awesome job of reviewing everything in-depth and I find it always to be exact.

Just as my small review of Endomondo I’d like to share my own best and worst experiences with the watch, so hopefully you can get a good feel of what it means to actually use the watch.

Mind that this is written from a runner’s point of view, I purchased it with the cycling in the back of my mind, but all in all I only used it three times over the past 18 months for cycling…

Worst 5

  • Heart rate strap wore down fast
    I had to replace mine after a year. That’s just too fast… Luckily  the support was great and I got a new one for free, but still … it’s a lot of hassle not desired.
  • Altitude is wonky
    I live at the coast line, which implies at sea level. I think the altitude varies between -10 and +10m, that’s just too big a threshold..
    I ran some trails with it and it is persistent in its error, you’ll end up with the right ascent meters at the end, it’s just possible you won’t have gone as high as everyone else 😉
  • Big heavy thing on your wrist.
    Being ‘of age’ it is not the most slim, prettiest watch and it is quite big. Wearing long sleeves I always wear it on top of the sleeve. It’s handy for quick glances, but putting it underneath usually resorts in a sleeve too tight at the wrist.
  • Remembering GPS? Not always it seems… (also: turn it on OUTSIDE!)
    It advertises it remembers your GPS location, which means it’ll find your GPS quickly if your start point is always the same.
    I may be a bit harsh here, because that seems correct about 80% of the time, but the other 20% means you need to wait a LOOONG time before it’s ready.
    It’s better to turn it on outside as well, because from my experience, if it is hard to find GPS from the start, most of the time it will persevere although you’re standing outside. This usually means turning it off and on again.
  • Battery indicator
    The battery indicator could be better. It has a decent battery (see below), but if you fail to check it regularly you might end up with a notification at startup (almost empty) and that basically means no running with watch today. After max. 30min it will switch off and that’s just too tight for a first notification…

Best 5

  • Once locked, no ‘GPS lost signal’ until indoors
    Seeing that it is a GPS watch, it’s not surprisingly it ends up in the worst and the best 5.
    It may be difficult to lock or it may require a reboot, but I have never had signal loss once running.
    Not in tunnels, not on hills, not in forests, not in “desolate” areas.
    Only indoor it goes away quickly, but I think that’s normal.
  • Clear, to the point, customizable screens
    The screens are just awesome.
    It has a large viewing angle, is sharp to look at and is highly customizable.
    Per sport you have 3 screens (+ a Virtual Partner) with 4 fields where you can assign just anything imaginable (heart rate, distance, time, …).
    When you run intervals it adds another screen that shows only your goal for the interval (time, heart rate, …), distance and current heart rate.

Customizable fields!

  • Very good bang for the buck
    I purchased mine at Amazon.co.uk and as far as I can tell it’s still the cheapest over there.
    In total I paid less than €200 which is nice for a GPS watch including a Heart Rate strap.
  • Bug free
    I have doubted to buy a Garmin Fenix 2 a while back and the more I read about the newest watches from Garmin, the more it seemed every product had a certain maturing period.
    I went digging the internet and the same was true for the 310xt, there had been a bunch of firmware upgrades before it was stable.
    So by buying a slightly older model, you don’t only save money, but save frustration as well…
  • Very decent battery
    It’s advertised at 20h, actual duration depends off course on usage, GPS interval, backlight etc.
    I can say I charge roughly every 3 weeks when I go running for about 5h a week.
    It’s just handy you don’t need to charge after every long run.

Do you own a 310xt? Does it work as well for you as for me?
Doubts about the model or Garmin in general?
Be sure to sure a review of your own watch if you have one…

Link Love January 2015

As I’m spending more and more time on blogs I sometimes find some really nice blog posts that I’d like to share with you all.
Most of them are running related, some of them are not…

This is why I run.
Very well written post about the love of running, accompanied by very nice pictures.

10k Ribble Valley Recap
The love of running just spats from this post and most posts in general from this blog.

10 Reasons Trail Running Is Awesome
10 Reasons Trail Running is Awesome and 10 good reasons, I cannot disagree with one of them 😉

Time For A … Pep Talk
Nice pep talk when your motivation is somewhat down.

The Hardest Part Is Getting Out Of The Door
Simple truth…

Tell me about breathing

There are already a gazillion posts about breathing and the importance of it. Every long time runner knows it, but a reminder now and then is welcome.

I posted earlier this week I went running while reading a map and although it went well, I ran the exact same route the day after on memory and shaved +5 s per km off my time with only 1 avg heart beat higher.

All this because I could focus on my form and especially my breathing.

The first time I often found my heart rate way up when I was looking for the right street, turn or route so the overall graph was a lot more edgy than the second one. Once I focused on my breathing it flattened out again.

Some small pointers from my experience:

  • Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth
  • Breathe with your belly rather than with your chest
  • Try counting your steps and find a nice rhythm, my slow runs it’s 4 steps a breathing in, 4 steps breathing out.
  • If you find yourself gasping, slow down for a second and focus focus focus

Does breathing properly comes naturally to you? Have anything to add?

Running abroad

For my work I’m staying abroad at a hotel this week.
It’s not all that far away from home (2.5h drive without traffic), but just far enough to not go back-and-forth every day.

This isn’t a lot of fun, seeing as this means leaving The Girlfriend and The Daughter behind, but preparation is everything, so off course they will be fine.

Preparation is also everything if you’re suddenly running on unknown terrain. I wasn’t able to go running until it was dark, so I’m glad I made a map beforehand.

Running with a map in your hand isn’t always easy, so I made a lot of extra notes with street names, landmarks etc. Basically this meant I had to look a lot less at my map than I expected, because I had studied it quite often the days before…

If you look at the pictures of the plan vs the actual route I’d dare to say I did very well. My heart rate suffered sometimes as looking around all the time and searching for street names, … can be distracting. But it was a very good run.

My preparation map

My Strava map

As long as I’m here (this week Monday until Wednesday, next week Monday until Friday) I’d like to make the best of the situation and go running as much as I can. Really max out my mileage for once, training my body to become really fatigued and recover… That is, if work won’t intervene off course…

If you go running on unknown terrain, do you print a map as well? Or use your phone? Or just go for some local laps so you can’t get lost?

Stormy means no running :(

This weekend I wanted to go for a 30k run (~19mi), because it has been over 2 months I did such a long run.
Unfortunately the weather disagreed. Wind normally isn’t something I stay home for, but when it exceeds 50km/h up to moments of 90 it’s not fun at all anymore…

Yesterday I thought “tomorrow” but after waking and looking at ‘The Flags’ I did not only see the flags themselves move, but the poles as well.

On top of that I crashed in the couch yesterday evening. It seems my body tries to fight off the start a nasty cold.

Sadly my week will end with 2 runs and about 32km(20mi) total, but rest is important too right… 😉
Let’s see if I can make up for my lost distance in following weeks…