Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Healing your foot injuries through barefoot running

I've been trying some barefoot running this summer to alleviate my various leg injuries accumulated over the past winter (plantar fasciitis & hamstring issues etc). Even a little bit or barefoot running on sand or grass seems to help a lot. I'd definitely recommend anyone to try it for a couple of hundred meters at least. For longer distances you could wear minimal sandals or shoes - there are lots of various brands and models available these days. Most of them are overpriced, so I'd err on the cheap side.

Michael Sandler of found the benefits of barefoot running literally accidently.

A recent Competitor Radio podcast:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

GoPro Manana Ridge

GoPro on a stick - what a great idea. Fantastic video. Manana Ridge trail is in Oahu, Hawaii.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Western States 100 Final Mile with Kilian Jornet

The final mile of Western States 100 mile trail run with the Spanish winner Kilian Jornet.

Check out last year's champ Geoff Roes congratulating Kilian Jornet just before the track where the finish line is. Geoff had a bad day and dropped out of the race around mile 55. They will have a chance to race together again at UTMB in August.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Europeans conquer Western States 100

At last Europe's number uno ultra trail runner Kilian Jornet of Spain (23) was successful Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, perhaps thanks to his new flexible handheld water bottles.

It's a downhill course, and it always gets hot down in the canyons. Last year he dropped to third place due to dehydration issues. Now this time his performance was solid all the way through, as far as I could tell from the webcast.

Here's Bryon Powell's pre-race interview with Kilian. Notice how Kilian mentions the course is too flat for him, but he wants to race it anyway because it's such a historic race (it was the first '100-miler').

By the way, Bryon also competed himself, and did very well too: at the time of writing this, he was within 10 miles of finish, placed 32nd. I just finished reading his ultra running guide book 'Relentless Forward Progress'; if you wish to run ultras like Kilian (or Ellie), read it!

Here's a video made by Kilian's main sponsor Salomon. I don't currently use any of their equipment, but I must say they have done a great job supporting this young dude.

I missed Kilian's victory on the live stream video, but I did catch Ellie Greenwood (32) crossing the finish line as the first lady in 17:55. Someone said they saw a bear during the last four miles, and Ellie said she was the one who chased the bear up a tree!

Ellie lives in Canada, but she is a Scot originally. She was 4th at Comrades Marathon in May, but has never run a 100-mile ultra trail before. She won Canadian Death Race in 2010 though, which is 125 km. And she has won a bunch of other shorter races as well.

Congratulations to both Kilian and Ellie, Europe's biggest trail running stars!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cristoph Strasser wins RAAM

Cristoph Strasser of Austria just won solo Race Across America 2011 in 8 days 8 hours. The route finished for the second year in Annapolis, Maryland. The race started in Oceanside, California as always.

What a class act. After 8+ days on the saddle, with only about 70 minutes of sleep per day, he stays positive and relaxed while riding pretty fast. Very few people would be able to do even half of this, let alone be in such a good mood.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Macca book review with bonus trivia

There seems to be a relatively common (but mistaken) perception that triathletes are arrogant and egotistical, but unfortunately 'I'm Here To Win: a world champion's advice for peak performance' by Chris McCormack will probably not be able to change that.

As a self-proclaimed huge boxing fan, Macca seems to think he is some kind of Ali of Ali'i Drive (the latter refers to the road in Kona where the finish line of Ironman Hawaii is located). He just loves to play the minds of his competitors ("I created mental dossiers on every one of my rivals", he writes), and has employed Dr. Susann Kräftner (a psychologist specializing in mental illness) as his mental coach for eight years.

If you're not really into triathlons or mental cases who perform these races for fun, don't worry: you may safely skip this book and save yourself some time and money. Although 6-time Hawaii Champ Mark Allen shouts "YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!" in the Foreword, you really don't - unless you're a Macca fan like me. It's not that great a book really, for various reasons:

  • First, the book is filled too much with tedious information, like Macca's Season Statistics (flight miles accumulated, countries visited, days away from home) and swim/bike/run training miles for each year (although he thinks miles don't matter and shouldn't be obesessively counted). 
  • Second, Macca's juvenile confrontations with Normann Stadler and Faris Al-Sultan, which he refers to as 'War', should disgust rather than interest most people. Macca explains that he wanted his competitors to to think he was crazy, like Liston did with Ali. It should go without saying that talking aggressive trash about former Ironman champions in public is an odd strategy for a pro athlete, who after stating his goal was to win Kona seven times, had then failed to win the race for five years. The way Macca shamelessly describes how before 2007 season he "scared them both to death" and "smashed Faris, smashed Normann, and smashed everybody" truly sounds like psycho behavior to an outsider. What's worse, he goes on to add proudly: "I even got an e-mail from Faris' mother, which I've kept, asking me to please leave her son alone." Macca writes that "My wife Emma was getting concerned with me" - well probably most triathletes were, although some media people seemed to love all this.
  • Third, there are some photos showing Macca hanging out with celebrities, for example with boxing legend Shane Mosley, and beautiful actress Cindy Crawford. Why are these photos included in a book about triathlon, is anyone's guess. Vanity?  

My favorite part of the book is the short section honestly describing how Macca failed once again Ironman Hawaii 2004 (pages 75-6), although he had won the races of same distance in Australia and Roth earlier that year. Suffering from cramps, Macca had stepped into a sponsor car with nine miles to go, thinking he would get a fast easy ride back to the transition area. Then he saw who else but Mark Allen in the car (he was now a commentator and a coach), telling him they would be sitting right there, taking their time to watch the race. After spending a few minutes in the air conditioned car, Macca feels better already, but he has been disqualified already for accepting help. Then this agegrouper named Christian Sadowski walks past them injured, covered in blood and road rash. He was accidently hit by an official race motorcycle, but is determined to finish. He says hello to Macca and Mark, but refuses any help that would make him stop. Then this brave dude carries his smashed bike all the way (about 11 km) to T2, changes into his running gear, and finishes the race just before the 17 hour cutoff time. The race coverage on TV that year was all about Mr. Sadowsky, and other ordinary people who became heroes that day. Macca hit the bottom that day: "I've never felt so small."

I'd like to finish this humble review by gratefully presenting the following 20 items of Macca Trivia, which were randomly picked from the book while I read it:

  1. Macca's training gadgets: None - he doesn't use any heart rate monitors, Garmins or bike power meters, and likes to train without a watch.
  2. Most important training advice: Listen to your body. It's ok to rest. 
  3. Favorite affirmation: 'Embrace the suck'. 
  4. The person who (at least nowadays) decides Macca's race schedule: His wife Emma-Jane.
  5. The world's best sports drink: Coke (Thomas Hellriegel saved Macca's 2005 Ironman race by telling him to drink coke when he was near collapse - Macca had been advised to stay away from stuff like that by 'nutrition experts').
  6. The supplement he can't live without: Q10 (more because it has become a pre-race ritual, than for its effectiveness).
  7. Macca's favorite food: Spicy wok food with olive oil. And chocolate.
  8. Sodium intake during a race: Recommended. "Take sodium throughout the bike stage. You'll need it."
  9. The word that shouldn't be used to describe Macca's approach to training: Fluffy.
  10. How many times has Macca been injured so badly that he couldn't keep training or finish a race since 1996: Zero. 
  11. Who Macca regards as "the greatest female triathlete to ever walk the planet": Michellie Jones, who invited Macca to come and stay in America around the Olympic year 2000 (for some reason there is not a word about Chrissie Wellington, Paula Newby-Fraser, or Natascha Badmann in the book).
  12. The biggest limiting factor in endurance racing: Fear.
  13. How you can beat fear: Create folders in your brain.
  14. Who can become the next triathlon superstar: Terenzo Bozzone.
  15. The number of DVDs on Muhammad Ali Macca owns: About 50. (Macca thinks Ali is the greatest athlete ever.)
  16. The reason Triathlon Australia called Macca's home after he had won the junior category of his first triathlon in 1992: To find out if he had done the whole course of the run (Macca's 31-minute 10K run seemed suspicious to them).
  17. Percentage of career events won: 76% (finished on the podium 88%).
  18. Number of Ironman distance victories: 12 (more than any other male - Paula Newby-Fraser has double that though).
  19. Macca's number of Ironman distance races under 8 hours: 4.
  20. Will Macca race in Kona again: Probably yes, as he writes: "I suspect that one day...I will throw my hat in the ring again. I have bled too much on those lava fields to simply walk away." 
One more thing: if you ignore the mind games part, this is a actually yet another good endurance sports book this year. We've already enjoyed solid running books by Marshall Ulrich and Dean Karnazes, and then there is the cycling book about RAAM, called Hell On Two Wheels, which I might get next.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Geoff Roes: Slogging To The Top

Geoff Roes (35) won his first ultra race, the Little Susitna 50K, in 2006. Since then he has won many relatively small American ultra trail races, most notably Western States 100 mile run in 2010, where he beat UTMB champion Kilian Jornet.

Unfortunately UTMB 2010, which was his first major international race, was cancelled due to bad weather. Roes will have a chance to race with Jornet again in WS100 next weekend. They will both be at UTMB in August.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Alex Flynn's 10 Million Metres

The latest episode of Marathon Talk features Alex Flynn, a Marathon des Sables finisher with Parkinson's disease, who is currently running from London to Rome to fulfill his 10 Million Metres mission.

After this Trans Europe run he plans to race at Challenge Henley-on-Thames triathlon and The Otter African Trail Run in South Africa, both scheduled for September 2011. In May 2012 he will begin a Trans USA run.

Alex Flynn from Shadowplay on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

RUN! by Dean Karnazes

RUN! is a must read for all Dean Karnazes fans. Actually I wasn't initially that interested in it, because I thought there couldn't be much new material for me. I was happy to prove myself wrong: the book provided lots of inspirational insights into Dean's life and stunts, like the infamous New York 48-hour treadmill record attempt and the 4Deserts races.

I went through the 26.2 chapters about one per day on my iPad, and I enjoyed every one of them. This is all good stuff and fun to read.

Karno has mostly compiled the book by dictating the anecdotal material while on the run. There is not a ghost writer employed per se, but many of the chapters are written by his family and friends, particularly Topher Gaylord.

This approach works pretty well for me as it provides new amusing views to the life of Ultramaraton Man. For example I've heard Dean is a busy guy who sleeps very little, but I still find it quite funny when his wife Julie simply states: "My husband does not sleep."

I'd recommend start with Dean's first book called Ultramarathon Man. If you like it, then continue with this one.  

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cairns is the new Kona

Based on scenery alone, Challenge Cairns is bound to become world's leading 3.8/180/42.2 km triathlon. They offer a half-distance option too, as well as ocean swims and MTB races. These are all part of Cairns Airport Adventure Festival, which offers an unbeatable range of unique challenges for the adventure minded.

Macca will be competing there for three consecutive years, and he won the first one convincingly with a 8:15 time. I think many triathletes are pretty bored with Kona like Macca, and will choose to race in Cairns instead. Cairns really is the new Kona. The only downside is that it's far away in Queensland Australia, but now there's a great incentive to travel all the way down there. Her are ten reasons to add Challenge Cairns to your dream race list.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunlight prevents myopia

I found this interesting enough, although it's hardly a surprise that spending a couple of hours a day outdoors is good for your health. Sunlight inhibits excessive eye growth, mediated by retinal dopamine.

This is particularly important for kids: you can't watch TV and play video games inside all day. You must get out or risk wearing glasses the rest of your life.

Even if you are old and your eyes are already ruined (like mine), it's still a good idea to get out daily for overall health.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Terminator interview

A great recent Scott 'Terminator' Molina interview.

And rare TV footage of 1985 Nice Triathlon, also featuring Erin Baker, who is now Mrs. Terminator.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The last 20 seconds of Comrades Marathon 2011

The cut-off time of Comrades Marathon used to be 11 hours (when I ran it). A few years ago it was changed to 12 hours. The distance and route is the same 87 km (up from Durban to Pietermaritzburg). This is by far the largest ultramarathon in the world with nearly 20 thousand runners.