Learning I was a Neutral Runner – Not an Over Pronator!

One thing i’ve learned over the last few years of running, is that what people wear on their feet is very important. When I used to run infrequently, I’d just chuck on a pair of my dad’s old trainers and make do in those. The trainers you run in can have both physiological and psychological effects. The physical can range from putting more spring in your step with something like an Adidas Boost, or correcting a gait deficiency such as over-pronation or flat-footedness. The benefits are in the mind too. If you’ve just spent £100 on some Nike Flyknit Racers then you may believe you have a slight edge to the guy in front of you in that 5k.

As I’ve begun running consistently 25-30 miles, this has meant that i’ve needed to replace my trainers more often (every 6 months). With my birthday being in August (21st anyone who’d like to send a cheque!), I basically get trainers for every birthday and Christmas!

Gait Analysis

When I started taking my running more seriously I noticed a twinge in my left ankle, so promptly went to the running shop to have my gait analysed in order to get the best shoes for my foot. They noted that I over-pronated on my left ankle and prescribed a pair of Saucony’s (I forget the model). Over the next few training runs and races, I noticed my ankle becoming extremely painful and at one point had to stop and limp up a hill. Ever the experimenter, I went back to my dad’s old Nike Air Pegasus’ and hey presto – my ankle went back to only hurting a little bit.

over pronating runner

An over pronating runner

At around the same time I read that actually, your foot is MEANT to over-pronate slightly! It’s a bio-mechanic designed to provide a natural buffer to the impact of your foot hitting the ground. The slight flexing of the ankle over the inside of the foot acts as a sort of shock absorber to your ankle and leg. Then I also read about Nike’s Lunarlon foam material and it’s cushioning effects and thought i’d give those a shot… this was where I discovered (through trial and error) that I needed neutral trainers…

A neutral runner

A neutral runner

Theres a great page on types of running style on the Asics website

Read my Nike LunarGlide+5 review

Real Shoe Review: Nike LunarGlide+5 (neutral ride)

After several bad shoe experiences I have found a trainer that I love and that doesn’t leave me limping the morning after a run. This is the 5th iteration of the Nike LunarGlide with slight improvements being made in each version. My previous trainers were the predecessors – the mark 4′s – which is an endorsement in itself.

In a nutshell, the LunarGlide+5′s are like running on a pair of squidgy trampolines. When I first put them on, I just stood there in my living room bouncing up and down on my heel!

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The fit of these trainers is, in my opinion, what makes them so comfortable to run in.  Never before have I had a shoe that wraps around my foot so perfectly – it’s like wearing a sock. The fleece lining only adds to comfort, and keeps your upper foot warm in winter!

As you can see, I opted for the luminous yellow/green colour option but there are plenty of others to choose from. Doing a lot of running near roads at night time, I need all the high-vis I can get! The tongue stays in place and never slips to one side or the other.

The only things that lets this trainer down slightly is the easy wear of the outer sole. I haven’t had enough time to compare my +5′s with my +4′s but my previous pair wore down so much after 6 months that I didn’t dare take them off road after a particularly nasty slip up. This is the compromise with the weight I suppose, a lighter shoe (281 grams) means lighter component parts.

They also feel quite… big. Not clown shoe big, but they’re certainly not minimalist. But then again, that’s why I chose them, to give that cushioned support I need. I would say that my times have slowed since I started wearing them. There’s a part of my that thinks that maybe all that cushioning is absorbing too much of my stride’s natural ‘kick’ or ‘oomph’. That could also be a bad workman blaming his tools ; )

Muddy trainers Nike Lunarglide

His and hers muddy trainers!

More info on Nike LunarGlide+5′s

Laces are great, they stay in place and don’t pinch the top of my foot.

Training: The Tempo Run

What’s A Tempo Run Anyway?

I’m never quite sure exactly what each type of training run is. Some people call it a threshold run as it means really pushing yourself for the middle part of your run. This has the same reasoning behind it as speed work in that you’re essentially teaching your body how to run faster. As they say, “if you want to run faster…you need to run faster!”

Last Night’s Training

So last night I went to the course that I have lovingly named ‘The Boring Corfe Mullen Run’. This is my winter course and involves starting at the bottom of a hill and running the entire length of the town and back again, equaling 5 miles.

As the run begins on a hill I take the first 5- 10 minutes slowly anyway, as you should do in a tempo run. After 10 minutes however, I upped my pace to my 5k pace of 6 minute miles, ran this for 15 minutes and then back down to my 10 mile pace for the last 10 minutes.

The below is what the start point of this run looks like in the middle of the day in summer. When I run it, it’s dark and invariably raining and cold!

Starting point for my Boring Corfe Mullen Run

Next Training

Same again tonight! Boring Corfe Mullen run but this time at just a gentle 7 minute mile pace all the way, after all I have a half-marathon on Sunday!

Training: The Track Session

And my first time running a mile…

Last night’s training was the weekly speed session at my local track. As is now standard it rained, although the weather gods did give me enough time to run a few laps to warm up before the heaven really opened! The warm up is really important for speed work to avoid pulling a muscle as well as just to make the most of the session. There’s no point in wasting the first few training circuits taking it easy! After a long and busy day at work I pretty much fell asleep whilst reading my son his bedtime story at 6pm,so finding myself on a running track an hour later, the warm up gave my mind and body to wake up call it needed!

The Session

400 x 800 x 1 mile followed by 400 x 800 x 1mile again. This was the first time I’ve ever run a mile and I’ve always been interested to see how fast I could run it. After 1200m of warm up, a 400m and and 800m though, my heart was already pounding so I didn’t expect much and did my first mile in 5:55 with my second being 6:15. The 400 metres I generally do in 1:10 and the 800′s in 2:35-40.

In related news, I saw Mo Farah share this photo on Twitter today of his speed work in Kenya! The bottom one is of his Sunday long run – see we all have to do them!

Mo Farah training in Kenya

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To Enter First Marathon…Or Not?

Time To Overcome My Marathon-a-Phobia

I have always sworn that I would never do a marathon. The number of hours of training it seems to take, the sheer distance of it and the worry of whether I could even FINISH a marathon have never seemed worth the worry. But the trouble is, I like a challenge! 5k, 10k, 10mile, half-marathon – check, check, check, check! The only distance left to claim is that fabled 26.2 miles. If truth be told, I’m actually a little scared of doing a marathon as it’s the only distance where participants seem more likely to run in to difficulties or worse. So I decided – TIME TO FACE MY FEAR!

My wife Jemma is doing the London Marathon in April and her training is going very well. She has a very supportive running club at Lytchett Manor Striders and they all help each other through the marathon training schedule.

Which marathon to run?

So what is a good marathon to run? I once tried to enter the London Marathon 5-6 years ago but was unsuccessful (luckily!) Various people I know have done the Dublin, Berlin, London, Brighton, Bournemouth and Portsmouth marathons so the choices seem to be endless.

However, I have stumbled across a relatively secret marathon. A hidden gem in the marathon calendar! Reading the reviews on Runner’s World it’s not too hilly, has a great atmosphere, is well organised and leads you through 26.2 miles of beautiful country lanes. You’re allowed to send your own drinks ahead to two water stations on the course, it’s limited to just 400 runners and, best of all, every finisher gets a beer at the end…

 

The North Dorset Village MarathonNorth Dorset Village Marathon

This is the one i’ve decided on! A nice relaxed run though countryside and 50 minutes from home – perfect. At £21 it’s also a fair price compared to many others, for example the Bournemouth Marathon which is £49.95.

So today I shall enter and etch the 4th May firmly in to my mind.

 

Training

Was going to do a 10 mile run last night in preparation for this Sunday’s Blackmore Vale Half Marathon but I felt cream crackered after my 10k race the day before. They say it’s best to listen to your body and recovery is just as important as training so I left it. Plus it was freezing cold and raining outside and my trainers were still soaked from the previous day!

Tonight

Tuesday night speed session with Poole A.C.

 

Swanage 10k 2014

Yesterday was the Swanage 10k, a relatively small event with 112 runners but a toughie. Some might call it undulating but I would say hilly. Definitely at least two long, steep inclines that really took your breath away! I was 12th in 40:47, nearly a minute off my PB but those hills, torrential rain and strong wind need to be taken in to account : ) My dad was 7th in 38:07 (first male vet) and my mum was first female vet in 51:08! While we were doing this, my wife Jemma was doing a 14 mile training run as part of her marathon training… all go!

It really was wet…

Swanage 10k

Just before the Swanage 10k

I also ran it accidentally Garmin free which actually felt quite good, although it didn’t help with my pacing.

Next race is the hilly Blackmore Vale Half Marathon this Sunday.

Next Training

As I only ran 10k yesterday I need to get my mileage in before Sunday’s HM, so I’m going to TRY and do 10 miles tonight although this will take huge amounts of willpower, due to the absolute dullness of my winter training route! My village has no lights and I have to drive to the nearest town with streetlights to run at night!

If You Could Only Bottle That Feeling…

It’s a cold winter’s day. The sky is so grey that it’s as dark as dusk and the rain slides from the heavens in vertical sheets. After parking, you’ve been sitting in the car for 5 minutes doing everything possible to delay the start of your run; checking the Garmin settings, separating the car key from the house keys, doing strange and awkward stretches that involve putting legs over the passenger sheet. As the drum of the rain on the car roof becomes a roar, you take a deep breath and step out…

Why do you/I/runners do it? What makes me leave my warm and cosy house in the dead of winter, drive to a remote and empty car park and head off in to the country lanes.

I realised what it is two weeks ago, at approximately 12:30pm, 5 miles in to a 10 mile training run.

Ok so it’s hard to get out of the house, in to the car, out of the car and get going. It takes a couple of miles for my body to get into ‘run’ mode, to expend enough energy that I feel warm and my heart to get pumping with enthusiasm rather than stumbling with reluctance. But at that point, 5 miles in it was like what a Buddhist might call Nirvana. My mind and body were totally connected in a perfect rhythm of movement and I felt like I could run a marathon (until I reached the hill at mile 9!) but those few miles of optimum running, that feeling of truly knowing my own body was fantastic.

So that’s why I do it over and over and if people ask me “How do you force yourself to go running in this horrible winter weather?” – I shall just direct them to this blog and suggest they try it themselves.

Next Training:

No running yesterday and working all day today, followed by a party this evening I have a 10k race on Sunday so having an internal debate on whether to just do Parkrun on Saturday to keep the old legs ticking over, or whether to rest fully before Sunday?

 

How To Make Your Own Isotonic Drink

When running, it’s very important to keep hydrated. As I learned the hard way on Sunday – I ran 14 miles with no gels, food or drink and had a pretty terrible migraine the moment I stopped running. I also spent the next 2 days with dry lips, headaches and was constantly thirsty – a very real demonstration to me of the importance of keeping your fluids up.

It also helps to actually IMPROVE your performance:

Researchers at Loughborough University found that when runners drank a sports drink (5.5g carbohydrate/100ml), they improved their running time by 3.9 minutes over 42km compared with drinking water. (Runner’s World)

There are three types of drink:

1. Hypotonic – is more dilute than your body’s fluids and will be absorbed quickly.

2. Isotonic – The most well known – contains the same balance of sugars/electrolytes as your blood and is the best way to rehydrate during or after a run. Lucozade Sport is the most prominent brand that springs to mind!

3. Hypertonic – these drinks have more sugar than your blood’s natural level (e.g. Coke or lemonade) and so will be absorbed slowly. These are better to drink after a run.

How To Make Your Own Isotonic Drink

Isotonic drinks can be expensive. Particularly if you’re in training for a marathon, it costs a lot to use a new bottle of Lucozade Sport for every single training run, so here’s how to make your own up before you head out:

Mix together:
-50-70g sugar
-One litre of warm water
-Pinch of salt
-200ml of sugar free squash

Mix, cool and drink

OR

Drink two: Fruity

-200ml ordinary fruit squash
-800ml water
-A pinch of salt