Friday, April 30, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Cove

The Cove is 2010 Oscar Award winner for Best Feature Documentary.

I agree with Kenneth Turan says, it's exciting - for a documentary about dolphins at least.

QTV interviewed Louie Psihoyos, the director of the film.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

KySa half marathon

Today it was time for the first race of 2010: Kymen Sanomat half marathon in Hamina. A small race in a small town, except this year it was also the Finnish Championship half marathon.

The weather was sunny but cool. The was some northern wind so I wore a long-sleeve shirt and long tights as well.

Also the undulating 3-loop course was great with some spectacular river views. As always, Finnish spectators were shy and silent.

I chose to run in Brooks Green Silence flats. I wasn't completely happy with my decision, because I developed some hot spots on my both forefeet. They evolved into tiny blisters towards the end of the race.

To add insult to the injury, I held the third place in M40 age category for most of the race - only to lose it on the final stretch by three seconds. I just didn't have the sprint in me today.

The official finish time is 1:28:05 - my best half-marathon result since 1992. And 50 seconds faster than last year's best result. All things considered, this was a pretty good start for the season.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Stupid training methods through the ages

Running Through The Ages by Edward Seldon Sears provides many amusing pieces of information about the history of running.

It is interesting to note how little our understanding and design of training methods has changed over the centuries.

For example, I learned that the first book written specifically on running was Pedestrianism by Walter Thom, published in 1813.

Pedestrianism was the name of the new emerging sport of professional running in the 19th century. There was a huge running boom in England in 1840-50 that spilled over to America.

British running fans adored Captain Barcley. Pedestrianism contains details of Barcley's sought-after training methods.

Actually Barcley took them from Sir John Sinclair's A Collection of Papers on the Subject of Athletic Exercises (1806).

Sinclair's training methods were in turn mainly based on those of the pugilist John 'Gentleman' Jackson. And so on.

Anyway, here are the Barcley's training methods as they are described in Thom's book:
"When the object in view is the accomplishment of a pedestrian match, his regular exercise may be from 20-24 miles a day. He must rise at 5 in the morning:

  1. Run half mile at top speed up a hill.
  2. Walk six miles at a moderate pace.
  3. Breakfast at about 7 AM: beefsteaks, muttonchops, underdone with stale bread and old beer.
  4. Walk six miles at a moderate pace.
  5. Lie in bed without clothes for half hour.
  6. Walk four miles.
  7. Dinner at  4 PM: beefsteaks, muttonchops with bread and beer as at breakfast.
  8. Immediately after dinner, run half mile at top speed.
  9. Walk six miles at a moderate pace.
  10. Bed at eight and repeat the next day.
Avoid liquids as much as possible only enough to quench the thirst. From two to three months of training will, in most cases, be sufficient, especially if he is in tolerable shape to begin with."

Long-distance runners used this method well into the second half of the 19th century. Training for sprinters was similar, except they were advised to train in extremely heavy shoes.

Most trainers of the time believed the majority of a runner's training should consist of walking. Even the great 20th century runner Paavo Nurmi incorporated walking into his training program.

However some dared to question Barcley's training methods and one bold critic wrote: "Such training if carried into effect is calculated to send a man to his grave."

To put things in perspective, our current training methods may not be much different nor better, and will probably seem equally stupid when some researcher of running takes a critical look at them in the future.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Fruitarian runs marathon PR in Boston

Arguably the world's leading (even Dean 'Ultramarathon Man' Karnazes blogged about him in awe after Napa Valley Marathon) LFRV (low fat raw vegan) ultramarathon runner Michael Arnstein, aka The Fruitarian, ran a marathon PR 2:28:29 at Boston Marathon.

Before Monday his best marathon time was 2:30:59 from 2009 Palm Beach Marathon. Going under 2:30 has been the dream of this crazy New York fruit dude for a long long time. His expression in the photo above, taken after the finish line, says it all.

Just looking at the split times makes me dizzy. And to think that all this energy comes mainly from fresh fruits and vegs!

Mr. Arnstein has revealed that he has been experimenting with honey as a natural simple carbohydrate (glucose + fructose) supplement during races though. Honey has obviously worked well for him as he has done really well in several marathons and ultras, while logging 160-mile training weeks.

When he recently tried to run 100K on orange juice alone, he wasn't too happy with the results (although many would have been pleased with a result like that I guess).

It will be interesting to follow how The Fruitarian succeeds in his other 2010 challenges, like the Western States 100 mile run.

Thanks for inspiration, good luck and congrats, Mike!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Running America trailer

Running America is a documentary film following Charlie Engle and Marshall Ulrich during their 2008 challenge to run from San Francisco to New York.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My Mizuno Precision Fit experience

Mizuno has an interactive website with graphics and videos to help you analyse your feet. Click and check it out. It's free.

In just a few minutes you are lead through eight simple pages where you have to find the right answer for you. Then you'll get an analysis report and Mizuno precision fit recommendation for their shoe models.

As a bonus, if you give your email address, you'll also get a personal exercise and stretching plan.

For example, my results today showed that I:
  • have normal arched feet
  • have a neutral static leg axis
  • am a forefoot striker
  • have normal foot rotation
  • have normal flexibility in my upper ankle joint
  • have a normal dynamic leg axis.
My precision fit recommendation showed I require a neutral, performance, moderately cushioned shoe. My individual shoe recommendation was Mizuno Wave Rider 13. Also two other models were recommended as possible alternatives, but they didn't interest me that much. 

I've never run in Mizuno shoes, but I will soon, because I ordered a pair of WR13 in my size. I've heard many runners like this particular shoe. I'm curious to try them and looking forward to receiving them next week.

Well done marketing wise, Mizuno - let's hope the shoes perform well when put to a real test in (ultra)marathons!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Coconut water

Coconuts are the huge green seeds of the coconut palm tree. They are full of liquid that keeps the seed fresh and vital. As the coconut ripens the liquid hardens into a white flesh.

Many athletes use coconut water in their training and also some tropical marathons like the Reggae Marathon serve opened coconuts after the finish line.

This is probably due to the fact that coconut water contains some carbs, protein and fat as well as minerals (potassium, sodium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, selenium) and vitamins (C, B).

Coconut water is a natural isotonic beverage, as it has the same salt concentration as the cells of the human body and blood. Therefore it may be consumed to replace fluids lost during physical activity.

Recently I've also started using coconut water as a recovery drink after hard exercise. It seems to work pretty well, although obviously an athlete needs to eat something with more calories (120 cal/500 ml) in addition to that.

It's possible to blend a fortified home-made natural sports drink with some dates or any dried fruit (for sugar) and celery (for sodium). This recipe also works with any normal water.

Green coconuts are rarely available at local markets, except possibly some ethnic stores which may occasionally have them. People also generally find coconuts inconvenient to open, unless they own a machete or some old big knife. It's not worth spoiling your good kitchen knives with coconuts. Also the old nail and hammer trick works quite well.

I've not been too interested in investigating commercially packaged coconut waters, because manufacturers always seem to be forced to use preservatives and pasteurisation. That's totally unacceptable for purists like me.

The other day I noticed Dr. Antonio Martins Coco Juice while shopping around. The half-liter carton claimed 'pure organic coconut water, not from a concentrate, no preservatives'. So I bought and drank one right away and thought the taste is not bad, although definitely not the same as real fresh coconut water either.

From their website I learned that Dr. Martins is using a patented cold-process technology to pass the coconut water straight through a filter into the carton. Thanks to this invention heat treatment can be avoided. That's certainly a step forward.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Jonas Buud runs TEC 100 miles in 12:32:03

According to into the wild, Jonas Buud's (unofficial) finish time at TEC 100 mile run is 12:32:03. That's amazing!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Buud takes on TEC 100 mile challenge today

Originally Scandinavia's shining ultrarunning star Jonas Buud planned to run a marathon in North Korea in April. When it became obvious that it's not going to happen, he came up with plan B: to find out if it was possible to run TEC (Täby Extrem Challenge) 100 miles in North Stockholm instead.

TEC has a strict limit for the number of participants they can accommodate, and they had a waiting list. However there had apparently been many unexpected cancellations due to injuries, and Jonas got in at the last minute.

The start is 10AM today. Last year the winner took 20 hours 17 minutes. Super-Buud might easily finish in closer to 15 than 20 hours. The results will eventually be published here.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Team World Vision: Comrades Ultramarathon

Josh Cox holds the American 50K record, so in theory he has a chance of doing well in Comrades on 30 May 2010.

Comrades Marathon (89 km = 56 miles) is the world's oldest (since 1921) and largest (16635 entries this year) ultramarathon.

Good luck Team World Vision!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Two Oceans Marathon video

Here's a nice video from Two Oceans Marathon on 3 April 2010. The distance is either ultra marathon 56 km or half marathon 21 km.

I'd like to run the 56 km race one day in Cape Town.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

25th Marathon des Sables 2010 is on

25th Marathon des Sables 2010 is on!

It's only 250 km of relatively slow running, divided into six stages during a week, so what's the big deal?
  1. Even if you have the money (this is not the cheapest race around), it can be tough to get in because of the incredible popularity. This year 1013 lucky runners were able to start.
  2. You have to carry all your food and gear on your back while running. Only limited water and simple tents are provided. Can you imagine living on dehydrated meals a full week?
  3. Sand. Although the exact course in Moroccan Sahara will be different each year, nobody has ever complained that there weren't enough sand dunes on the way. Sand in shoes means blisters, which is why most runners wear gaiters.
  4. Temperature. It can be hot (around 40 degrees C) in the sunshine. What's more, desert nights can be notoriously cold.

Results after 1st Stage (29 km) are in. As expected, Moroccan 3-time winner Mohamad Ahansal won in 2:11. American Michael Wardian finished second in 2:19, closely followed by several others.

61-year-young Italian Marco Olmo was 14th in 3:36 and has a fair chance to get in top 10 later on.

Jacques Mahne took 862. place with a relaxed 5:57 performance and is looking forward to becoming the first Finnish ever to finish MdS.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Wild workout

This dude is crazy wild, I'm not quite there yet. No way I could do anything like this in a minute or so - but I'm working on it! :-)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Chaga tea experiment

It's not unusual to see chaga on birch trees while running in the forest. They are usually too high up - unless you are willing to climb, but even then you might need some tools to detach it. I was able to bring this little piece home only because there's so much snow this winter. I've never done this before, so this was a totally new experience for me.

I put it in a blender with some water to break it into little pieces. Then I boiled it in a couple of litres of water with some ginger. I got lots of nice chaga tea, which goes very well with goji berries by the way.

I suppose the health benefits could be there, although I'm not quite sure what they would be for a fit person like me. Probably a stronger immune system due to antioxidants, or something like that.

Here's a video of a chaga hunter in action.