12 February 2024

The brightest lights sometimes shine for the shortest times

If you don't follow the world of professional running then this story may not mean much of anything to you ... but I was shocked to hear of the sudden and tragic passing of Kelvin Kiptum.

He was magic on his feet, and the world was his for the taking.


File:2023 London Marathon - Kelvin Kiptum.jpg 

 photo credit:  Katie Chan


13 September 2023

Of blood and carbon

Well, it's just about time for my annual blog entry ...! 

This past weekend I managed to accomplish something which I'd never done before - I gave blood!

There have been a number of friends of mine who have been regular donors and it's something that I've thought about from time to time but never managed to pull the trigger on actually doing it.  Any number of excuses come to mind, but none of them really outweighing the significant impact it could have on someone else's life (which may or may not actually depend on that available blood supply).  I'm proud to say that I overcame whatever reservations I might have had to actually book this appointment, and the team at Canadian Blood Services were incredibly helpful, courteous and considerate.  It was very straightforward and pretty much discomfort-free!


That all being said - did I plan this out smartly ..?


I'm set to serve as a full-marathon pacer again at The County Marathon in just less than three weeks' time, and it wasn't until after my donation that I paid attention to it's potential impact on training and performance.  My radar was immediately alerted when the phlebotomist told me to make sure not to exert myself for 6-8 hours, and that made me wonder about my planned workout for the next morning.  I then dove in my Google researching and found several helpful articles (check out this one, this one and this one) that shared a consensus opinion that the likely time required to full recovery aerobic recovery is about three weeks. 


How long is it again until I have to pace ...?




Perhaps I have not totally set myself up for failure (as last year's DNF as a pacer - due to back spasms - was not pleasant at all) as the race sits right at the boundary marker for the prescribed post-donation recovery period.  I've also decided to drink the proverbial kool-aid and purchased a pair of Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 carbon-plated 'supershoes' specifically for race day.  If I do happen to benefit from the supposed 2-4% improvement in running economy then perhaps that will help to off-set any residual deficit from my reduced red blood cell count.


Only really affordable thanks to a Running Room gift card from a friend ...!

That's how things stand as of right now - and since I've set the stage for this upcoming race I suppose that I'll have to write-up a post-event report to close the loop on how everything worked out.  Here's hoping that after October 1st I will have managed to both help save lives and help runners hit their time goals!


28 October 2022

LT training, cluster workouts and the Norwegian secret to taking over the running world

While I still maintain that Yuki Kawauchi is my running hero, I have certainly hopped aboard the Norwegian bandwagon as I've been most invested over the past 3 or 4 years watching two of my favourite track athletes:  Karsten Warholm and Jakob Ingebrigtsen.

While they have certainly drawn the attention of the running world to Norway in recent years they are not the only Norwegian runners to have risen to dominance ... take 9-time NYC Marathon winner and the first woman to run a sub-2:30 marathon Grete Waitz for example.  So you could argue that there's been something in the water there for a long time.


But what is it?


I stumbled across this article today and wanted to share it as perhaps a peeling back of the curtain on Norwegian training approaches and what may be a big difference maker in this little nation's performances on the world stage.  I confess to not having heard about "cluster training" or training by a lactic acid meter so this is a real education piece for me.  I definitely think that it is worth looking at and sharing:  https://www.mariusbakken.com/the-norwegian-model.html


I'm getting older and slower so my best racing days are long behind me - but if this dog isn't too old to learn new tricks then maybe I'll give the Norwegian method of systematic threshold training more than a passing glance.


14 January 2022

When You Get The Itch To Use Creatine

I've not been one to use supplements to a great degree - it's not that I don't believe in the science behind it or want to benefit from the advantages that they may offer.  It's usually because (a) I'm too cheap to invest in a lot of extras and (b) I'm too lazy to stay on schedule with taking them.

That being said there have been a few things that have regularly been part of my intake:

  • Vitamin D - since I'm primarily a pre-dawn runner I don't get out for a lot of natural sunlight, so this supplement helps boost my vitamin D levels.  Plus I think that it couldn't hurt in helping to stave off COVID-19.
  • Glucosamine - over the past 12 years of running (usually 5-8 times a week) I have experienced intermittent knee pain issues so I'm trying to give myself a bit of an advantage here
  • Protein powder - a must-add to my morning waffle mix, and a boost to my post-workout breakfast.

However having eclipsed the half-century mark I paid special attention to the studies that indicate that muscle loss increases with age and so I thought that perhaps it might not be a bad idea to try to slow that rate in some fashion.  As such I decided to give creatine supplementation a go.

This is the third 'brand' of creatine that I've tried now

Since the intention was not to 'bulk up' but to just try and slow depletion I'm not sure that I expected to observe any demonstrable differences ... however to my surprise I did observe a change that coincided with the start of my creatine intake.


I understand that creatine is a naturally occurring property, and that there is creatine already in my system.  What I also know is that since I started with regular creatine supplementation I've had hives every night - starting just before bedtime and lasting through until after breakfast. 

I've worked on eliminating all of the other 'regular' suspects - changing laundry detergents, checking for bedbugs, swapping shampoos and bar soaps, buying different skin moisturizers. 

The only consistent thing during this period has been my creatine intake.

A quick Google search will of course find varying opinions on the subject, but at least a few reads (e.g. here, here and here) have reassured me that I'm not an outlier here.  Other people have wondered about the same sort of connection between creatine and allergic reactions/hives.

While I'm neither a doctor nor a detective, I do subscribe to the old Sherlock Holmes adage that "When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth".  So I'm going to put my creatine bucket away for now and see if my condition improves over the next few weeks.

Here's hoping that soon I won't feel the need to scratch that itch.


19 June 2021

A new half-marathon PB ...

 ... in Crocs.

That's right.  The slip-on, slip-off, top-aerated plasticky clogs that you can custom decorate with plug-through charms.

I confess that I've found it very challenging to keep any kind of a 'training mentality' with only virtual races as the available competition options, so when a few friends collaborated to host an impromptu socially-distanced half-marathon today I joined in on the fun.  However, knowing that I was far from optimal race-shape I thought that I would try something different ... and having recently just watched the video of Benjamin Pachev running a smokin' fast half-marathon in Crocs I told myself "why not?".  It would take the pressure off of trying to go all-out, and would provide a brand new experience.

But maybe I should have tried running any distance in Crocs first.

Even once.

But nooooooooo ....

So what was it like?

Well, it wasn't fast (at least for my liking).  I could tell that after the first 3km that my quads were getting totally smashed.  Perhaps that was due to the not-particularly-cushioned composition of the Crocs, or maybe my running form changed to accommodate the different feel of looser-fitting shoes on my feet.

I also found that since the route went along some crushed-limestone trail that there were various times that I could feel pebbles bouncing into and around the Crocs.  To be fair I think that perhaps half of the stones that I detected going in also found a way to bounce out the same way that they came - but I also found at various times that I was subtly trying to maneuver the debris towards the front of the shoes in hopes that they would sift out the top through the holes.  I'm going to guess that that tactic was mayyyyybe 40% effective as at least on one occasion I had to stop to remove a Croc and empty out the stones. 

Today's weapon of choice - only slid off of my foot once

After all was said and done I found that there were definitely sections of the run that I felt like I could have been running in any of the shoes in my regular rotation, so that's a plus.  I did find that they were 'noticeable' when climbing sections of the route, and that could have been a bit of a slippage factor given that my feet weren't locked down into them.  And upon returning home and removing my socks I did find that my pinky toes both had some significant rubbing/blistering that had taken place, in addition to 'hot spots' on the outside edges underneath my forefoot (both sides).

It takes a special kind of crazy ...

Was I glad that I did it?  For sure. 

Would I do it again?  Maybe ... but I will definitely get in some training runs with them beforehand. 

So the question is ... would you give it a try?