I couldn’t really sleep well last night. For no apparent reason either, my personal life is good, my running form is coming back, and things are coming together on a new app fitness photo sharing app I’m working on in my spare time.
I think I get more worried when things are going well, because I worry about stepping off the subway and injuring my foot in some crazy way, or something along those lines. You have more to lose when things are going well, so I try not to think about it much.
Almost running daily again now.
But last night was an exception, and I woke up at 3am. I couldn’t get to sleep so I started reading on the topic of long runs - something I’ve really only started to add to my training within the last 4 years, despite training on & off for 18 years.
Long runs are still relatively new territory for me.
Am I rambling yet? Stay with me. In a new study scientists found out that rambling combined with 2 pieces of chocolate and a glass of red once a day, is good for the soul. Also, any claim I don’t link to can’t be backed up.
…Back to long runs. As a lot of runners do when in search of education, I found myself on Greg McMillan’s site, where he broke down the long run into 2 types. Basically the traditional slow long run, and a 2nd type where you finish faster over the final 20-30% of the run.
I’m not going to reiterate on this, as I think this is becoming common knowledge to more experienced runners of the long variety, and it’s been touched on a few times in other helpful blogs.
One point that stood out though that isn’t so conventional, is how to fuel:
…a great way to ensure that you will deplete your carbohydrate stores on these long, steady runs is to not eat any carbohydrates immediately before or during the run. Any carbohydrates ingested will be used by the body for fuel, and we don’t want this.
We want to deny the body carbohydrates in these runs so that the muscles will become better at sparing the carbohydrate stores, more efficient at burning fat and used to running with lowered blood glucose levels
He does emphasize though that this is entirely optional, and that this isn’t critical to the gains made on a long run, just a minor enhancement.
What I really appreciate, is that he then makes the distinction between the 2nd type of faster long run and the 1st type of slower run:
Also unlike the long, slow run, you want to eat carbs before and during this run. P lease note that I just said I DO recommend carbohydrates before and during the fast finish long runs. This point has been overlooked by many runners.
Providing a voice of sanity where most fitness fanatics pick and choose what they want to hear, rather than the balance. This is probably why he has the strong reputation that he does.
Morning vs Afternoon
Anyway, I thought that the point of depleting yourself on slower runs was interesting, and it got me thinking (here we go).
What I’m wondering is, would this have a similar effect for easy morning runs, vs easy afternoon runs?
This is me, morning running.
Given that I’m typically a morning runner (80-90% of my runs), and I run as soon as I wake, not having breakfast until after.
Counter this to the afternoon where you’ve had a whole day full of food to manage - or worse, you’ve depleted yourself of food during the day to run light in the evening!
I’d like to revisit this topic when I know more about it, and have experienced more with this knowledge. I’m curious if other people have made this distinction though. Would it help your running if you depleted carbs on shorter slow runs, or is this only a factor on the longer slow runs?
Training update: week 37, 2014
56 miles (90 km) of running.
- 0 doubles
- 2 speed workouts
1 rest day.
Snapshot of Dailymile weekly mileage in km’s.
Easy run - 6.7 miles (10.8 km).
Tempo intervals - 8.9 miles (14.4 km) inc warm up/down.
6k trail tempo, then 2k trail tempo. 90 seconds recovery between each. This was supposed to be done at a 4:15 pace. Only that it was pitch black darkness, and raining heavily. So pace went out the window, it was more about effort for this one.
Easy run - 6.5 miles (10.5 km).
Strides - 6.2 miles (10 km).
4k warm up, 8 x 45 second strides w 90 second recovery, 3k warm down.
Friday’s workout along this trail. I tested out some new split distance and pace value feature in the FitFriend app when doing 8 strides.
Long run - 18.7 miles (30.1 km).
It’ll be a downer if I had to do almost 20 miles going up and down this bridge. Thankfully I don’t, and I love coming across this bridge when running long.
Recovery run - 8.9 miles (14.3 km).
Yesterday’s recovery run on Toronto’s waterfront.
I touched on my arch pain a bit last week:
…a mysterious arch pain came around on Thursday. It actually hurt my right arch to walk on Thursday and Friday, to the point where I though my orthotics might be aggravating it.
I didn’t want to mess around. The arch was hinting that it was graduating past the niggle stage into an injury. So I booked an appointment with my physio when it was still hurting to walk on Tuesday, and I had the session on Friday.
Emphasis on hurts to walk, and not run. Making this the weirdest injury I’ve ever had. 😐
I spoke with one of my training partners at Pace & Mind on Wednesday, who’s also a physio, just to get an idea on what kind of realm of injury it could even be. Again, I’m clueless on injuries of the feet. She said it at least only sounded like it was muscular, so I continued to run easy on Thursday.
The thing about injuries is that I stop running when running makes it worse. This wasn’t the case here.
The physio calmed my worries down - refreshing for her, as normally she’s a bearer of bad news - and told me that it was only a mild tear on the PF. Apparently Plantar Fasciitis is normally closer to the heal, mine is only near the ball of my foot. I probably got it when running aggressively downhill on our first day in Blue Mountain a few weeks ago.
Basically I need to do the following:
- No icing apart from at night before bed. This is why I felt it walking a lot, I was icing at least twice daily at work!
- Toe exercises - the muscle is rebuilding so I need to strengthen it. Curling the toes when sitting down, and also toe raises when standing up.
- Lay off hills.
- Lay off trails.
- Opt for lighter softer shoes. She told me my Brooks Adrenaline and Ravennas were like bricks.
I’m already starting to change up my shoe choices more - alternating through about 4 pairs a week. This is new to me, usually I’ve worn a pair of shoes every run for 3 months, then repeat.
The other thing that’s interesting to me here is that almost everything about this - the icing, the hills, the trails - is what I do to remedy every other injury I’ve had. Now I have to cut it out. This just verifies that there really is no 1 size fits all solution I guess, not that I believed that anyway.
Business as usual on the easy runs and mileage building. I’m going to be ramping up another 10% again before I pull back.
So this is going to be a 100k week for me, making sleep critical! I have the Ajax half marathon in 2 weeks, and the Toronto Waterfront half marathon in 5 weeks.
Unlike most people running these races, these races won’t be PR efforts for me. But I do have to factor the effect these runs at a higher intensity will have on my base building this year. If I can stay focused on that, and not get caught up in the race bubble, well, as Bill Lumbergh says, that’ll be great…
Perspective of the Apple Watch from a fitness fanatic
Most of the tech blogs are going to talk about the iPhone 6. To that I say meh. Boring!
I’m going to address the Watch (it’s called Apple Watch, or Watch, not iWatch apparently). Not from the angle of a tech journalist trying to understand fitness. Tech bloggers on fitness come across like your dad trying to understand the hippity hop music. But from the angle of an engineer who’s actually been running longer than they’ve been an engineer for.
1st - I’m going to BQ on an Watch.
2nd - I’ve never BQ’d before. I haven’t even run a single marathon.
Ok then. At worst an arrogant statement, at best adventurous.
A screenshot of the Apple Watch I took from the live event stream yesterday.
I’m not making a bold and potentially backfiring statement though to sound amazing. I’m not amazing! I’ve been injured so many times that I’ve never thought my body could even last through a marathon. That’s partly why I haven’t done one. I genuinely don’t think I can.
I’m making this statement because I KNOW that an Watch is a serious training tool, and I want to prove to others that it can be done.
Some people just can’t see it yet. They focus overwhelmingly on the flaws (there are flaws in everything):
- There’s no GPS without an iPhone. Because nobody ever carries their iPhones when they run, right? What’s a #runfie anyway?
- The battery life won’t last the 1 million years they need it to.
They can’t see the positives:
- Built in heart rate monitor.
- Built in activity tracker. Bye bye Fitbit, over to eBay bargain bins you go.
- Maps. Something I expected to be in GPS watches from day 1 actually! Seriously, where are they?
- Siri. Doing track work? Take a split by voice! You know it.
- Sports watches like Garmins come with the 1 app - they’re static. Guess what? If you don’t like the app on an Watch, you can change it - it’s dynamic.
- Your battery isn’t going to run out unless you’re running something in excess of a 100 mile ultra. Some people do that, but most of us don’t.
- That Apple reliability.
- Oh and there’s also these 3D emojis.
Emojis aren’t a runner thing per se, but I’m seeing more emojis pop up in people’s training logs. 😜
Given the overwhelming amount of pros vs cons, why would there be any resistance?
It’s much easier to spend the same amount on a Garmin that does less, but be widely accepted among your peers. Than it is to spend money on a Watch (or even an Android Wear for that matter) that does more, but isn’t the norm yet.
Emphasis on yet. It will be, it’s only a matter of time. The best always win. The best athletes, the best products, the best anything.
In fact the next best thing for runners that comes close is Timex’s new effort, the One GPS. Nice of them for trying, but I think this is just a rushed to market product in anticipation of the Watch. Without app support, the Timex One GPS won’t be sustainable.
Despite seeing mainly positives in the Watch, I think it was a big mistake for Apple not to include GPS.
Here they are trying to preach to us fitness types that they’re serious about fitness, yet they demonstrate that they don’t understand what fitness types actually need most!
If any Apple decision makers are reading this by any chance, let me spell it out to you pretty clearly - GPS is more than tracking your location, it displays distance, but perhaps the most important stat of all, pace (an equation of time and distance). Runners, cyclists, etc, need pace to determine the intensity of their workouts.
Now there are other ways to measure your intensity. Before GPS watches came into play, HR monitors were the big revolutionary thing, and some people still like to use them as indicators. Thankfully this is at least built in to the Watch.
Alternatively, a good athlete will also be in tune more with their own body, and tap into intensity by feel.
But hey, I’m just the messenger here. People have a (perhaps borderline unhealthy) obsession with pace. That’s just how it is. It’s like trying to sell a car and not including the speedometer! You could still probably mathematically work it out, the way us fitness types did before GPS watches, but why make it hard?
I know this is probably a decision that was made to conserve battery life, and I know it’ll probably make the 2nd version (well, if it doesn’t it’s finished!).
So don’t worry, your Garmin is still good for 1 more year. That $350 on a static display watch wasn’t a complete waste of money. Although it is overpriced compared to what iPhone apps can already do.
Now if you’re a techie who’s trying to understand why we just can’t take our iPhones around too, you’re not getting the point. I’m in agreeance there however, I actually take my iPhone on 95% of my runs, and that’s when I’m still wearing my Timex (and also before developing FitFriend). From what I’ve seen, about 90% of runners are the same. Even if you’re not using an app for your workout, the main benefits are:
- Emergency phone calls.
- Maps in case you get lost.
- Camera for all important selfies.
- Share your run instantly to social media.
Etc, there are many other reasons. But the main reasons why runners don’t take their phones out are:
- The need to visually see a watch face when racing.
- Preference to minimize weight when racing.
- The rain. iPhones are not waterproof! Why aren’t they waterproof?
- Extreme cold weather (pretty much every day in Canada last winter - you just segregated over 30 million people).
- Extreme heat weather.
No GPS just goes to show how clueless a company full of engineers is, in regards to the needs of runners and other fitness types. This has been my focus with FitFriend from the start - to build the tech that matters most to runners, from runners! Not from engineers merely trying to “search for a market” to penetrate.
How is your Watch going to track you in a polar vortex, if it’s dependent on the iPhone, when the iPhone can’t handle the cold?
On the actual issue of GPS use, let me side with the Watch on this - I know from my experience in developing the FitFriend iPhone app, that iOS is very efficient at using location services only when it needs to.
For instance, Apple has given app creators the ability to specify whether it’s a fitness app or not. So if this is enabled, then GPS requests only come through when the app is active on the display. It has a way of sleeping your apps when the iPhone is in the lock state, and the updates are only done in bulk when the iPhone is unlocked.
This is just 1 example. It’s partly Apple’s responsibility to provide a mechanism for its system wide GPS to be efficient. It’s partly the developer’s responsibility to enable the settings & code needed to tap into that energy efficiency.
"Ok, but you’re describing how things work on the current iOS 7 on the current iPhone models. What about the Watch?" you say.
The point is, Apple has a way of only making an app use battery resources when it absolutely has to. Obviously this is going to translate over to the Watch.
Garmin users be like, meh
Garmin is the status quo. When something is the status quo (like iPods were for music), they can convince consumers to spend money without giving a 2nd thought to the product’s flaws. This is where Garmin is right now - the majority of people don’t want the best solution, they just want what everyone else has.
Early adopters who use the Watch for fitness will likely be a small niche group. It isn’t going to explode for version 1, especially with no GPS, as touched on above.
But there’ll always be an early vocal resistance. I remember just 5 years ago, runners complained about GPS watches being “too big and not for real athletes”. People forget and move on.
So what happened there?
The tech has hardly changed, people have changed.
The same thing will happen for the Watch. People will gradually realize that all of this hassle of having separate devices for running, activity tracking, calorie counting, all the syncing, etc, is a bad idea. That’ll be the 1st selling point. The practical athlete - the people who want the best solution and that’s it.
The 2nd selling point will be the most resistant bunch of users - the athlete who can’t break from routine. They’ve come to know what works for them, and they like it despite spending more $ overall, and/or occasionally getting blank screens mid-run, and/or having their data completely wiped at random.
They probably haven’t been injured for a while or haven’t learnt from it, so they’re not used to change. They’re afraid of change, even if there’s a better way. They’re not your early adopters, they’re your followers. Whatever, this is just how the world works.
What this group of athletes need to see are real people using it, and real people actually achieving big goals with it.
Back to the BQ
Seeing as we’ve all been dazzled by sports watch marketing, and there are more doubters in the current landscape than believers, I am going to step up to the task myself.
BQ’ing, while it’s never been an ambition of mine yet, is seen as the end goal of the non-Olympic runners. The goal for mortals.
I’d love it if somebody else did the work instead, and I merely just had to talk about their achievement in a blog post. But I doubt that anybody else is going to do it.
The big issue here is not going to be my training tools, the big issue will be if my body stays together. I’ll prove it. From the time the Watch comes out early next year, I’ll exclusively train and race using the Watch!
I’ll either aim to BQ in the fall or the spring, the flexibility only for if my body gets a severe injury. I’ll figure out details along the way, and will just throw it all out on the blog.
Despite pointing out the advantages that an Watch will have to train with, I’ve ignored all of the non-running features of the Watch in this blog post. These are covered in abundance from those tech blogs who don’t understand running.
Despite 1 major flaw in both the Watch and Android Wear, the landscape has been changed. Some people can see that straight away. Others will wait until they physically see how easy the early adopters have it.
Training update: week 36, 2014
50 miles (80 km) of running.
- 1 double
- 1 speed work
1 bike ride.
0 rest days.
Dailymile training log in KM’s. Only running workouts shown.
Woohoo! Back into consistent training, highest mileage week since May. But it’s not all smooth sailing, I am riding through a sea of niggles.
Let’s break it down.
Cycling - 15.5 miles (25 km). Easy spin.
I haven’t been doing any cycling this Summer, at all. Which is weird, because since about 2007 up until late 2013 I think I’ve clocked more time on the bike than running.
But it was a public holiday in Canada and Alison persuaded me to go with her, she even wrote a touching piece about it here :)
Easy run - 5.1 miles (8.2 km).
1) Easy run - 2.5 (4 km).
2) Long interval workout - first session back at Pace & Mind since July!
Coach kept the pace slow for me. Felt very good, fresh. 1 x 3200m @ 4:45 pace, plus 3 x 1600m @ 4:35 pace.
Easy run - 5.1 miles (8.2 km).
Trail run - 6.3 miles (10.1 km). Easy pace.
Trail run - 6.2 miles (10 km). Easy pace with Alison.
An out and back of 5k, at pretty much an even split.
Long run - 16 miles (25.8 km).
Much easier in cooler weather than last week.
1st up - I’ve
changed my mind updated my thinking on steady state runs. Those workouts done at medium intensity. I’m going to blog about this in more detail later this week.
2nd - it seems like every 2 days I experienced a different niggle. Just when I think that it might be an injury and I’d have to step back onto the bike for a week or 2, it disappears completely. I think that’s the core difference between a niggle and an injury.
Shins were flared a little on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then a mysterious arch pain came around on Thursday. It actually hurt my right arch to walk on Thursday and Friday, to the point where I though my orthotics might be aggravating it.
So I opted for 2 days of trail running in a row on Friday and Saturday, so I could run on softer ground and low drop shoes. In addition to heavily icing it, that seems to have worked. I even opted for no orthotics on my long run on Sunday, which I have never done in my running history!
Triumphant Sunday long run was a special one with Pace & Mind and Run CRS!
I’ll continue to monitor that. I’m very anxious about it because I’ve never had an injury on the bottom of my foot. Element of the unknown, I don’t know what I’m dealing with.
With training interruptions from race fatigue, colds, and lately injuries, I’ve been struggling to breach 45 mile weeks since May. Sunday was a small triumph after my long run, as I had finally ran a 50 mile week again and the whole 16 mile run that day was pain free.
The last blog post on how to run in the heat
Vomiting is something you want to avoid. You can sit on the couch and safely not let it come to that. That’s not very exciting though, so us runners choose to make things uncomfortable and live a little.
But going too far is not living, that’s treading into excess territory. The polar opposite of being alone on the couch with the Nutella jar. Actually both excessive exercise in the heat, and excessive Nutella consumption will lead to vomiting.
So who am I to give any heat tips?
Growing up in Perth, Australia where it wasn’t considered “hot enough” by mother’s standards to turn on the AC until it hit 100 degrees (38 C), is where I honed something of a craft in how to adapt to the heat. It was a choice of learn how to deal with the heat, or play video games indoors (I’ve had a few stints where I chose the latter).
Still, this will probably be the last “How to run in the heat” tips blog post that’ll be blogged this year.
Always run in the mornings.
If there are no other tips that I give, this is the one tip that is going to save your ass the most! These tips are in no particular order except for this one.
Beautiful like an 80’s montage - the #runrise on a cool summer morning run.
A raging debate has been going on over generations in Western Australia - where it’s hotter than the east coast (and better beaches IMO) - to adopt daylight saving or not. Every few decades there’s a trial, and the naysayers always get their way.
This is disappointing to me, as I’m more of an optimist and am for more things than against. But as my workout vs work life balance gets more demanding, I’ve come to realize why the fitness lovers back in Perth are so much more against DLS than most. It’s because there’s at least a 20 to 30 degree F (10-15 C) difference in working out at 6am vs 6pm.
That’s a lot of wasted energy being spent on keeping your vital organs alive in the evening! I’d rather spend that energy on running faster & longer, and recovering faster.
It’s easier to give it your all in speed work when it’s 20 degrees cooler in the morning.
Limit your food intake in the 2-4 hours leading up to your run.
That’s if you must do your run in the evening (see #1). Otherwise this is pretty much guaranteed for the early risers among us.
Food takes longer to digest in hotter climates. That’s why people feel the need to take siestas where it’s hot. True story.
Too much food in your belly bloats you out, because it’s taking longer to digest.
NOTE: people have a tendency to latch onto extremes, so I want to clarify not to do the opposite! The message I try to convey again and again in my blog is one of balance. So don’t interpret this as 180 degrees the other way and eat nothing at all! That’s extreme in the other sense, as it leads to low blood pressure (i.e. dizziness then brain damage). So no, please eat.
Wet your hair before going on a run.
This is awkward at first because your body temperature hasn’t heated up yet. But it makes a difference from the start if you keep your head cool.
The most vital organ is your head, you need to cool it down whenever you get a chance!
Freeze your water bottles overnight.
This is more useful on a long run, or on for a long interval session. That way when you take it out to go running it defrosts over 30 to 60 minutes enough to be drinkable.
But by that time it’s still ridiculously cold enough that it aids in cooling down your body temperature, as well as keeping you hydrated.
I’ve tried pretty much every major water carrying utility out there on the market, and I find that the tiny water belts work the best personally.
Small, compact bottles, evenly distributing their weight around the waist (instead of one giant area) wins the day for me!
Keep your shirt ON!
My upper body’s like a beer campaign - you need to enter a code to reveal a free 6 pack. Although I don’t know the code, and I probably never will.
But I’m not just saying to keep your shirt on because most guys with muscles put my upper body to shame.
The main reason is that when you’re so sweaty that your shirt is soaked, your shirt is doing a great job of keeping you cool! That’s what you want most here, you want to have a cool core body temperature.
Most summer running shirts are made of fabric that doesn’t trap in the heat, so there really is no point in taking it off. Your core body temperature is going to be cooler if you keep your shirt on.
The only times I take my shirt off is on the rare occasion I get nipple chafing… that’s a whole different blog post.
When it’s so hot that your shirt gets soaked a few miles into a run, keep it on!
Drink small & frequent quantities of water.
Instead of large gulps over a massive break in between drinks.
It’s like how the Oatmeal comic goes when racing a marathon. Same goes for any running on a hot day, you don’t want to waterboard yourself!
After the run though? Waterboard away!
Take short & frequent breaks.
Similar to #6. On a long run it’s tempting to take a 2 to 5 minute breather, say for example, every 6 to 8 miles.
Instead I’ve found it works better to limit these breaks to about 15 to 30 seconds, but every 2 to 3 miles on really hot days.
I usually combine breaks with a little splash of water in my mouth.
I haven’t experimented enough with gels yet. I’m still finding out what works there, maybe I’ll add that in next year.
That’s all I’ve got mainly. I’m sure there are other things that have saved my ass, but these are the things that I pretty much do on every single hot run.
Some of these are obvious, some of them not. But all aren’t really widely adopted for some reason, so I think they’re useful to blog on.
This isn’t a foolproof way to avoid excessive heat exhaustion. These are just the most important things that I’ve picked up either from other people, or learnt along the way, or experimented with over many years of failures and triumphs.
Until next year.