Monday, February 28, 2011

Finland Ice Marathon 2011

Finland Ice Marathon 140/80/40/24/12 km skating race on natural ice of Lake Kallavesi took place on February 19 2011.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

Life Cycles

Life Cycles is probably a fairly interesting film for MTB fans. For me it was perhaps a bit too longwinded, but it does contain some great footage.

Life Cycles OFFICIAL Trailer from Life Cycles on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The myth of the first marathon death dies hard

Jim Gourley has written a brilliant article for the LAVA magazine called 'Know Your Marathon History - The legendary first road race was longer than you think'.

Those who would like us to believe that marathon running is a great health risk today often love to point out that Pheidippides died after running the first marathon in history. This is just another myth that has become widely accepted through constant repetition. Even the great marathoner Frank Shorter joked: "Why couldn't Pheidippides have died at mile twenty?"

Actually it cannot be confirmed that the story about this Greek messenger is true, or that he even existed. But if he did exist and run, the distance would have been much longer than the modern marathon (42.2 km). In those days running 42 km wasn't such a big deal after all.

If we explore the original historical story as accurately as possible, then it follows that Pheidippides probably ran about 619 km (ie. 14.67 marathons) before he collapsed with exhaustion. He possibly ran this distance in about 100 hours, which would mean an average speed of 6.2 km/hour. He ran solo, without organized support teams like in modern endurance stage races.

Let's take Al Andalus Ultra Trail as an example. In July, this 5-day stage race covers only 220 km - about a third of the distance Pheidippides ran. It's in Spain (with a similar climate to Greece) and considered one of the toughest extreme events. The winner in 2010 took 18 hours 11 minutes to run this distance - excluding the time spent eating, recovering and sleeping each night.

The legend of Pheidippides has very little to do with modern marathon events. Majority of runners who have died during a marathon have had heart anomalies. For example, when Ryan Shay died at 2007 US Olympic Trials, it was reported that his doctor had warned Shay about his heart condition before the race. In ancient times people and their hearts were healthy, because they didn't have junk food.

The risk for sudden death during a marathon has been calculated to be about 0.002% or 1 in 50,000 marathon finishers. Please note that this figure includes runners with diagnosed or unsuspected cardiovascular conditions (most likely coronary artery disease). For healthy and fit runners the risk would be much lower.

The overall risk of dying by living for one year is over 100 times greater than the risk of dying during a marathon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Surviving PTL

La Petite Trotte à Léon is one of the alternative trail running event during the UTMB week in August.

The main characteristics of this event are as follows:
- Non-competitive event for teams of 2 or 3 people, of whom at least 1 UTMB finisher
- Team inseparable from the start to the finish of the event.
- Event limited to a maximum of 80 teams
- Course of about 300 km for about 22,000 metres of + altitude change.
- Course not specially signposted.
- 100% mountain and Nature course
- Next start on Monday, August 22 2011 at 10:00pm
- Maximum time: 138 hours ; final arrival on Sunday 28th August at 4:00pm
- Event in complete autonomy with refreshment and rest in the different refuges passed through.
- No ranking: uniquely a diploma handed out to each team which will have completed the course.

Survivre à la PTL
Uploaded by UltraTrailMontBlanc. - Basketball, baseball, pro wrestling and more sports videos.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

New study: antioxidant supplements may spoil your endurance training

There's a new bold study published in European Journal of Sport Science: Antioxidant Supplementation and Endurance Training: Win or Loss?

We all know that antioxidants can play an important role in our defence against free radicals - those seemingly 'bad guys' that cause all sorts of disease and damage in our bodies. We also know that free radical production is greater during exercise.

Most endurance athletes have thought that it would be wise to take common antioxidant supplements like vitamin C regularly. It's has also become a convenient habit for many to take a multivitamin daily, just in case we might need it.

However this Swiss study questions the wisdom of taking antioxidant supplements during endurance training, because they may generally be quite counterproductive. In other words, taking antioxidants might actually prevent the very results we spend all those hours to train for.

"Could it be that many are unknowingly counteracting training effectiveness through banal practices such as consuming an antioxidant-rich recovery drink after an endurance training session or taking a daily multivitamin?", the study asks.

There is evidence for negative effects of antioxidants for those who wish to improve their performance capacity. Also whenever some muscle injury occurs, vitamins C and E have been shown to delay healing and recovery.

Quite surprisingly, free radicals are now understood to have many positive effects as well. They seem to play a particularly important role for endurance athletes. Free radicals help us achieve various physical fitness adaptations through training.

The practical recommendation for normal endurance training would be to rely on antioxidants found in healthy foods, and avoid artificial supplements unless there is some special situation like a high-altitude training camp or diagnosed deficiency.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Macca skips Kona for 2012 Olympics

Chris 'Macca' McCormack (38) revealed his plans in The Daily Telegraph to not defend his 2010 victory at 2011 Hawaii Ironman Triathlon World Championships in order to help Australia win its first Olympic medal in men's triathlon in London 2012.

Macca's book 'I'm Here To Win' will be published soon. It's ghostwritten by Tim Vandehey, the same guy who did Jason Lester's 'Running On Faith' last year.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wandering Fever

Wandering Fever will be a new documentary about Ryan Sandes, who has won all four 4Deserts stage races.

In August 2011 he plans to show up at UTMB - a new kind of race experience for him. It will be interesting to see for how long he can keep up with Kilian Jornet.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Long Trail preview

The Long Trail preview from Dye Works on Vimeo.
This Fall, Nikki Kimball seeks to discover something else about our species: Can a woman out-run a man? Over shorter distances, anything up to 100 miles, men are usually faster. But Nikki is running 273 miles--the length of Vermont--on the incredibly brutal and beautiful Long Trail. Can she do it? What will it take? How can any one run this far, this fast? Join us, as we explore these incredible stories on The Long Trail.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pick the right technique for your freestyle swimming

Being a slow swimmer with triathlon background, Your Best Freestyle Technique by Gary Hall Sr was eye-opening to me.

My kick has always been too weak to get really fast with the hip-driven technique, but with a good wetsuit I've been able to swim the 3.8 km in an Ironman comfortably under one hour. I used to prefer a slow stroke rate and two-beat kick because I wanted to save my energy and legs for the bike and the run. The wetsuit sure makes things a lot easier, but there's room for improvement in my swim technique.

I might give the shoulder-driven fast-stroke-rate freestyle swimming a try ands see how it goes. It sure would be cool to get faster in water, but that's not going to be easy. I'd need to get my stroke rate high and be able to keep it up for 3,800 meters.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Festitrail 2010 24K d'Autrans

Festitrail d'Autrans, 12/24 km, 300 runners, December 4th 2010. Autrans is in France, near Grenoble. Even kids seem to be eager winter trail runners there.

3è FestiTrail 2010 d'Autrans from Yannick Michelat on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hoka One One Bondi-B oversize running shoes

Sam Winebaum blogs about the new Hoka One One Bondi-B running shoes coming out in February 2011.

The new model will feature a similar oversize design than their current trail running shoe Mafate, but will be a little thinner and lighter.

Sam writes Karl Meltzer, who ran 2000 miles in 40 days wearing Mafates, seems to prefer Bondi-B for his future races. That's enough to get me seriously interested. Unfortunately even the Hoka website doesn't mention them yet, but I'll try to grab a pair of Bondis and try them.

In the mean time, I'll follow The Great Running Debate and see how Dan Empfield's feet will respond to Hoka One Ones.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Empire State Building Run-up

Empire State Building Run-up 2011 invitational race: 86 flights of stairs, 1,576 steps from Ground Floor to Observation Deck.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Max King training around Mt Blanc

Montrail Athlete Max King on a training mission in the Mont Blanc region of Italy along with Montrail's president Topher Gaylord. Great video!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Marathonman's 365/365 mission accomplished

On February 5th Marathonman Stefaan Engels (49) finished his 365th marathon in 365 days - mission accomplished! The marathons were mainly training runs in Ghent, Belgium.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Rocky Raccoon 100

IRunFar reports Ian Sharman wins Rocky Raccoon 100 miles in 12:44. That's 4:44 min/km pace, and a new course record.

Zen Triathlon has posted several informative videos about his preparation for the race. It seemed to work pretty well, and he finished in 26:07.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

127 Hours - Between a Rock and a Hard Place

127 Hours has been nominated for six 2011 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, and Best Adapted Screenplay. It's a great film for all outdoors adventure enthusiasts.

Outside Mag conveniently provides 10 things you should know about 127 Hours.

If the movie got you interested, you should also read Aron Ralston's book 'Between a Rock and A Hard Place', because it tells what happened in his own words. He comes across as very skillful, thoughtful, talented, knowledgeable and resourceful person. On the other hand (no pun intended), he "took some questionable risks" and "was something of a party animal" according to ultrarunner Marshall Ulrich, who climbed Denali with Aron 11 months before the accident.

The book includes lots of interesting details and stuff that's not in the film. In the latest paperback edition, actor James Franco is portrayed on the cover with the movie title.

I recommend the audio book as well. It's a unique production, because it is read by Aron Ralston himself.

Friday, February 4, 2011

8 reasons why nutritional studies cannot be reliable

Staffan Lindeberg tells it like it is: Nutritional studies cannot be reliable. The eight reasons behind his argument are:
  1. Dietary studies have a relatively low priority within the field of medical research.
  2. The main problem with epidemiological (observational) studies consists of factors that are associated with the dietary factor being examined but are not causal factors, as they are only statistically related to the disease in question.
  3. Unlike drugs, lifestyle changes cannot be studied in a double-blind manner.
  4. Publication bias: over 7,000 articles related to nutrition are published annually, which makes it difficult for anyone to get a complete overview.
  5. An important source of inspiration for researchers themselves is the hope that their own hypotheses will be confirmed.
  6. A recent study analysing financial sponsorship showed that 100% of industry-sponsored studies came to the conclusion that the beverage under investigation was beneficial to health.
  7. One common effect of preconceived ideas is their tendency to direct the scientist’s focus towards those dietary aspect that are considered interesting in a trial, such as the proportion of fat/protein/carbohydrate or the amount of some other nutrient.
  8. The uncertainty in nutritional science is considerable and the low grade of evidence behind dietary advice is obvious.
    You'd probably be better off using your intuition when doing grocery shopping. We already know what's good for us to eat. We know what's natural, whole, fresh food. And we know what's bad, overprocessed food.

    It's a bit more tricky situation with dietary supplements. There is always a nutritional blog, article or book saying you need this or that supplement. In his magnum opus 'Food and Western Disease' Staffan Lindeberg writes: "Consumption well exceeds the recommended levels for all known vitamins with one exception: vitamin D." However, "Vegans have a very high risk of vitamin B12 deficiency and generally need supplements... early humans must have had access to animal foods in order to avoid B12 deficiency."

    It's funny that studies often claim that more studies are necessary, apparently because all the previous studies have failed to make complete sense of the mess we are in. The fact that people were doing pretty fine healthwise long before there were any nutritional studies is usually ignored. Perhaps all that we need to do is come back to our senses and stop thinking more studies will somehow help us out.

    Perhaps nutritional studies are only required to sell us something we don't need and help someone make money. If you keep it simple and do what you know is right, there's no urgent need for any additional nutritional studies.

    Just eat well, re-activate your lifestyle with daily exercise, and you can easily achieve great health and fitness.

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Tor des Geants promotional video

    An Italian video promotion for Tor de Géants Endurance-Trail della Valle d'Aosta, which is:

    • along the routes Alta Via 1 & 2 in Valle d'Aosta, Italy
    • started and finished in Courmayeur
    • 330 km (2 x the distance of UTMB)
    • 24,000 meters D+ (about 25% less climbing than in UTMB)
    • a single stage race, but the course can be divided into 7 parts based on the major aid/rest points
    • in September 11-17, 2011 
    • 150 hours max (ie. 6.25 days, where and when they rest is up to the runners)
    • smaller than UTMB (only 500 runners allowed)
    • sold out for 2011 (there's a free waiting list).

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    5 gym exercises you should never do

    Most endurance coaches (except Brett Sutton) would agree that some weight lifting might be valuable. However there are some potentially detrimental exercises you should avoid.

    Via Scott 'Terminator' Molina: 5 Exercises You Should Stop Doing...Forever!
    1. Shoulder press behind the neck.
    2. Upright rows.
    3. Shrugs with shoulder roll.
    4. Twisting sit-ups.
    5. Deadlifts (or squats etc) with a rounded back.
    At some point I've tried all of these, and I just did kettlebell upright rows last week, ouch!

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Learn to love the winter with Anton Krupicka

    "Running Times’ correspondent Joel Wolpert caught up with trail runner Anton Krupicka to see how he runs through the Colorado winter. As do all of Wolpert’s films, this one features local music: songs by Denver, Colorado bands The Lumineers and Paper Bird."