January 30, 2011

Long runs - strength training

Top of Lava Flow trail in Squamish, BC
For this morning's long run, I chose a big uphill session, which naturally includes a lot of downhill at the end.

I love this run, and was inspired to do it this weekend after reading the following in Run: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel by Matt Fitzgerald:

I asked [Haile] Gebrselassie to name his favourite workout. If I had known him better, I would not have been so surprised to learn that his favourite session was also his toughest. 

'Hill training is my favourite,' he said. 'Because that's the one that gives you a lot of problems. Pain. Breathing too much. Struggling too much. Of course, you don't enjoy it during training, but after training, after you reach the top and look down, and say, 'This is what I did,' it gives you confidence.' 

Fitzgerald says he later learned that Gebrselassie was referring to running 90 minutes hard straight up to Entoto Mountain outside of Ethiopia's capital city, Addis Ababa.

Starting from our house in Valleycliffe, we followed Nine-Mile Hill and then took the Lava Flow trail. This took me about 1hr 45 (my running partners turned around after 1hr 10), and most of it was uphill. Our pace was relatively easy, though of course the uphill made that feel hard enough.

I'm planning to incorporate running part of this hill once a week in my preparations for the Vancouver Marathon on May 1 and the Tenderfoot Boogie 50-miler on May 14.

This section is also part of the race course for the Test of Metal mountain bike race, held in June, and the STORMY ultra and relay runs, held in August.

Check out more pictures here

January 20, 2011

Guest post by IMJ Coaching's Scott Jones

Today's superb guest post is by Scott Jones, coach at Boulder-based IMJ Coaching. Scott's also a 2010 Ironman Canada age group champion:

"What you believe about yourself, it all comes true!"
-John Mellencamp

The above quote from Mellencamp has come true for me more times in my life than I would want to admit. It especially applies in triathlon. What you believe about yourself as an athlete will absolutely come true.

Ask yourself: Is my self talk in my brain positive or negative? If you are continuing to cloud your brain with negative thoughts, you will experience that in your training and racing. If you are doing the opposite, you will experience that as well.

I have struggled with my running throughout my triathlon journey. In training I used to think negative thoughts about my running because my basic belief was that I was a poor runner. Coming off the bike, I used to think, "Here they come to get me because I can't run." It usually came true!

My coach brought this to my attention and told me to knock it off. He gave examples in my training and racing where I was actually dramatically improving, and in my last two Ironmans my running has been the highlight of my race. I had a 6-minute PR in Kona this year on the run and I was eating people up out on the Queen K even late in the day.

I am convinced that what we say to ourselves with our inner voice is exactly what we will get, both in our racing and in our real lives. Make sure that your thoughts are positive and that your conversations with yourself reflect that. There is no better place to put this in action than in our daily training.

In our sport, as in our lives, we always want to find our best selves. Make sure your mental focus reflects that.

Train with joy or not at all!

Scott "Jonser" Jones
Teresa Rider and Scott Jones of IMJ Coaching

January 17, 2011

Finish line on book cover?

As I am getting close to finishing my fifth book, I've spent a lot of time on designing the cover. After trying every potential semi-custom option that CreateSpace provides I realized that it wasn't going to work for mine.

In the end Photoshop was where I created the result you see here.

The hardest part was finding the right typeface for the title, and deciding on the colour and the style. After researching the best typefaces for book covers, finding a great resource in this article
I finally came up with the cover as you see here.

I used Photoshop to turn a photograph into this front cover that fits CreateSpace's Palm design, which allows you to upload a custom back and front cover, without having to design (and place) the book's spine.

My partner Tim, who also took the original photograph, suggested a white spine with a black font, as he finds that most legible. Checking out the book case, it's hard to disagree.

Tim's been one of my two superb editors on this book. The other is Margaret, a longtime writer and literature teacher. Her advice on the two drafts of my book has been valuable and I am grateful for her help.

Now I am waiting for feedback from two test readers, both experienced runners and avid readers, before tackling the final revision and proofread of this book. My deadline to complete the book is still the end of this month and I think I'm in good shape to make it.

January 10, 2011

Wisdom from Ultramarathon Man

It's been a few years since I first read Dean Karnazes' Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner. Re-reading parts of it reminds how much I like this book:

"True, running is a simple, primitive act. Yet in its subtleties lies tremendous power. For in running, the muscles work a little harder, the blood flows a little faster, the heart beats a little stronger. Life becomes a little more vibrant, a little more intense. I like that.

"... I run because long after my footprints fade away, maybe I will have inspired a few to reject the easy path, hit the trails, put one foot in front of the other, and come to the same conclusion I did: I ran because it always take me where I want to go."

January 09, 2011

A Sunday morning...

Wake up at 6am. Head downstairs to make coffee, turn on computer and work on my book A Hundred Reasons to Run 100km.

Head out the door for one-hour family trail run with spouse Tim and doggy Luka at 9am. A slight frost on the ground, clear trails and snowcapped mountains lit up by the sun.

Back home an hour later, drop off Tim and Luka, pick up bottle, gels and iPod and head out for another 80 minutes of pacey running on the trails.

Back home just before noon. Shower. Make big omelet with ham for me. And one for Luka without the spices and ham. Tim doesn't like omelets.

Lie on couch with Sony Reader displaying Christopher McDougall's Born to Run. Luka joins me. We both nap.

January 07, 2011

Sea to Sky ultras

The Tenderfoot Boogie, a 50-miler on the trails from Squamish to Whistler, made its debut in 2010. It's back on the calendar in 2011 and I'm signing up this year. The event also offers a 50km and a 28km.

You can check out the course through organized orientation runs, starting late March and finishing in early May. For the schedule and more details, see here.

Along with STORMY on the first weekend in August and the new Whistler Ultra & Relay, replacing the Haney to Harrison 100km ultra and relay on the first weekend in November, the Sea to Sky corridor is offering a great selection of ultras.

January 03, 2011

A fresh start - marathon training

"It's a state of mind. It's that place where you lose yourself and you find yourself."

Patrick Swayze's character Bohdi in the 1991 movie Point Break was talking about surfing here but it reflects perfectly how I often feel when running, especially on longer sessions.

It's been a month since I began my training for the 2011 Vancouver Marathon. And it's been great to be back on a structured program of two speed sessions a week, two easy sessions and a long run.

I feel mentally and physically fresh after a four-month break from the quest for speed. Going longer instead, by running two ultras, one in August and one in November, was exactly what I needed. I love training for marathons but just needed to change gears mentally.

Now I am fully re-energized to pursue the quest for that sub-3 marathon finish.

My loyal four-footed running buddy Luka and I closed off 2010 with a gorgeous trail run of about an hour on Friday morning. I began the year with a 15-minute time trial on Saturday afternoon during a stunning winter sunset. 

Yesterday, I ran 2hr 10mins, which was the duration of all my Sunday long runs in December. With some great company, these sessions have flown by.

Today was a rest day, at least in running terms. Luka and I did a 45-minute trail walk this morning, perfect cross training for both of us. My program includes two rest days a week, and I always look forward to them, just as much as I do to my running sessions.

They provide the break your body and mind need to absorb the training, so make sure you include them too!

Triathlon team making a difference - Triathlon Magazine Canada

Check out the latest Triathlon Magazine Canada article by Tim, it's a very inspiring read!

"Terry Gardner looked in the mirror and saw nothing. His sight was gone. The life he had known for 46 years was over. He suddenly felt lost. "I went four years not only trying to deal with vision loss but I was looking for something to give my life purpose," Gardner says. After having worked 12 to 14 hectic hours a day as a self-employed courier broker, he found himself at home doing nothing. Then Gardner got a call from Jan Ditchfield. Ditchfield asked Gardner, then 50, to compete at Joe's Team Triathlon in Muskoka, Ontario..."

Read more on the Triathlon Magazine Canada website or in the brandnew Jan/Feb issue.