Brighton Marathon 2013

The Race Is On...

‘The Race Is On…’

The race truly is on. In less than 12 weeks time I will be assembled at the holding area along with thousands of other runners for the start of the Brighton Marathon 2013.

If I’m honest I’m not a fan of road running and have never really had the enthusiasm to enter a marathon or the commitment to train for one. I’d rather be out on the trails getting covered in mud and fearful that my next stride could result in me stacking it and face planting a gravelled track.

The motivation behind entering the Brighton Marathon comes from the partner of a friend of mine that was killed in action in Afghanistan at the start of his tour in 2012. I will be running with a day sack, wearing combat trousers, a tee-shirt and combat boots to replicate the weight that a soldier patrols with when on an operational tour of duty.

Yesterday was my first serious training session with weight and I learned that my limiting factor wont be oxygen debt but serious muscle fatigue and loss of efficiency. This is why it is important to train the body as a whole in a non specific manner.

Run. Lift. Ride.

Kalsu Hero WOD

Kalsu

“Bob Kalsu had just finished a stellar rookie year in the NFL when he chose to serve in Vietnam—and became the only U.S. pro athlete to die there”

Every minute on the minute (EMOM)

5 burpees followed by max effort barbell thrusters @135 lb/62 kg until 100 thrusters are achieved.

Post Christmas feasting and after a couple of light CrossFit workouts I decided that today I’d push myself for a good 25 minutes, just to give the heart and lungs a dusting off in preparation for more serious training in the new year. I had completed Kalsu earlier in the year (@ 35 kg) and remember it vividly for being a serious contender for the hardest WOD I have attempted. The combined rapid onset of lactic acid and oxygen debt leave you gasping for air and dripping with sweat as you exhaustedly battle with the barbell for 20 minutes of muscular fatigue in it’s purest form.

Result: 22’58″ @ 45 kg

Notes: Need to improve front squat endurance and shoulder press strength.

Goal: Rx sub 30 by end of 2013

Run Liverpool Half Marathon Review

Event name: Run Liverpool Half Marathon

Date and Time:  18/03/2012 @ 0930

Location: Queen’s Dock, Liverpool.

Races: 13.1 mile Half Marathon Road Race

Price: £28 Aff. £30 Un Aff.

Web site: http://www.runliverpoolhalfmarathon.co.uk/

Twitter: @Run_Liverpool

Incentive: I’ve been living in Liverpool since 2009 and never really taken part in the local sporting events either due to work commitments or travelling home to the south coast on my rest days. This year I’ll more than likely return to my roots on the south coast so I’ve been looking into a few events that define living in Liverpool in a sporting sense. The Run Liverpool Half Marathon is one of those events.

Organisation: I entered the race online a couple of weeks before the deadline and promptly received my race pack through the letter box. Using the website I was able to see what was expected on the day in terms of timeliness, administration and most importantly the route. A comprehensive map was available for me to pour over and develop some sort of race strategy.

I was privileged enough to be able to walk a short distance to the holding area for the start of the race but I noticed that there weren’t any issues with parking at the Queen’s Dock, although I thought charging people to park their cars was unnecessary and could have been included in the race fee.

There was a reported 6000+ race entrants so the starting area was heaving especially as many racers were accompanied by friends and family. That said there were no real issues with overcrowding and the race started more or less on time. The stand for supporters to use was a nice touch and provided the race with an air of authenticity.

Along the route there were hundreds of volunteers manning water stations, route marking and providing medical care. It’s obvious that without these people the race is a non starter so thank you to all those that gave up their time and effort. It was great to see youth organisations like the Army Cadets out in force and helping out. With obesity on the rise it’s important that children are included in large scale sporting events in their local area to highlight the importance of sporting activity in preventing youth obesity, after all prevention is better than cure.

The route was well marked out along the way and anyone that knows the city shouldn’t have experienced any navigational problems due to the iconic landmarks that the route encompassed. Places such as the Albert Dock, Sefton Park, Otterspool Park and the River Mersey promenade. With the final few miles of the half marathon being relatively straight anyone with local knowledge will realise that on arriving at Otterspool this is the time to dig deep and maintain their pace or even kick on safe in the knowledge that the pain is nearly over.

Coming into the final few hundred metres it was nice to be met by a cheering crowd making the most of the stand provided by the organisers. The noise they were making definitely spurred me to a sprint finish and I think the same applied to the majority of runners.

At the finish line we were ushered along to a tent with multiple lanes where we were presented with refreshments, a medal and a tee-shirt and the opportunity for a sports massage.

PB Potenital: This is difficult for me to comment on as it was my first half marathon and therefore my PB. Due to the gradient at the start and in places around Sefton Park couple with the strong breezes that runners face along the promenade I’d suggest that this race isn’t ideal for a seasoned runner to chase his or her PB. Although in my opinion it may not be the fastest half marathon out there, you can rely on the chip timing to validate the time you do achieve.

Scenery: The landmarks dotted along the route are iconic to the city of Liverpool. I’ve already mentioned the areas that the route dissects all of which are worthy of a sight seeing tour bus route. It’s only when you run the race that you are able to fully embrace the architectural brilliance of buildings such as the Anglican Cathedral, the superb landscaping at Sefton Park, and the inspiringly expansive views across to the Wirral offered along the Otterspool promenade

Atmosphere: I ran the race with a couple of friends and this appeared to be the case for a lot of people. As I’ve discovered over the years, the people of Liverpool are a warm and friendly jovial bunch with an enormous sense of pride for their city and its heritage. The same goes for the organisers at Run Liverpool. They made great attempts at the start (Kris Akabusi entertaining),all along the route and at the finish line to ensure that everyone was safe, motivated and enjoyed themselves.

Overall: My affinity for the city means that this race would need to have failed spectacularly for me to not have enjoyed it. Putting my subjective views to one side, I can truly say that this event provided everything that I seek in a running race and has the potential to become one of the great half marathons of the calender. I look forward to the next one in 2013.

Southbourne Fast and Flat Review

Event name: Southbourne Fast and Flat

Date and Time: 11/03/2012 @ 1130

Location: St Katharine’s CE Primary School, Rolls Drive, Southbourne, Bournemouth, BH6 4NA.

Races: 10 km | 5 km | 1300 m fun run

Price: £9 unaffiliated | £7 UK affiliated

Web site: http://southbournefastandflat.info

Reason for entering: I entered this race on a whim because it happens to be held a mile or so from where I live and makes use of the beach front where I often like to go running, cycling and frolicking in the sea. At £9 and the allure of a goody bag for all entrants how could I refuse? Besides, what better motivation than the views across Poole Bay on a sunny winter day to get me out of the house is there?

Organisation: I entered the race online and promptly received my race number and details through the post. The race organisers administrated from the playground of St Katherine’s Primary School where they provided areas for leaving kit bags and portaloos for that nervous pre-race piddle. Parking didn’t seem to be an issue with many people using the surrounding roads and the car park at Solent Meads golf course. The race started on time and was well marshalled all along the route. Photographers were dotted along the route and provided online access to a gallery for pre-viewing pictures. At the finish of the race everyone was given a medal and an assortment of snacks and water. A nice addition was the option of a massage post race to refresh those tired muscles.

PB Potential: The majority of the race took place along the promenade of Southbourne beach up to Boscombe Pier and back. As the name suggests this is a fast and flat race perfect for those looking to set a PB and equally gentle enough for the casual runner or wheelchair racer. The only downside of the race being the unavoidable camber of the promenade in certain stretches which can play havoc with your running technique.

Scenery: The views along the route amazing with runners treated to Old Harry’s Rock and the Purbecks alongside 7 miles of golden beaches that make up Poole Bay. The returning half of the race offers stunning views of Hengistbury Head and the Isle of Wight in conjuction with the deep blue shades of the Solent.

Atmosphere: All along the route we were encouraged and cheered by people out for a leisurely stroll and those that had made their way down to support their friends and/or family. This made for a friendly and very enjoyable atmosphere which helped to spur me on at times when I felt I was lagging.

Overall: A well organised, friendly and fast 10km race in a prime location on the south coast. At less than a tenner this race offers great value for money and acts as a perfect  start to the spring running season.

A Spring in My Step

Today the sun came out. The met office forecast that the sun would make an appearance on Tuesday and remain until the end of the week. Actually, it was overcast for the duration of yesterday and today until about 1600. I had a lot of admin. to get through today but the light at the end of the tunnel was the promise to myself that I would get out for a trail run. From 1100 I started to sift through paper work and online admin. keeping my fluid intake up with plenty of tea and water. When I’m completing menial paperwork tasks at my desk I’m afforded the pleasure of sitting next to a window that offers east to south views so I can quite easily keep an eye on the current weather situation. Late this afternoon as promised but somewhat belated the sun made an appearance and made the prospect of a trail run infinitely more appealing.

Within ten minutes I was changed into outdoor kit, barefoot shoes on and out of the door.

I am lucky enough to live within a few hundred metres of a decent trail route that originates at a sub-urban play park but soon becomes a multi-terrain trail with superb 360 views about the central south coast of the UK. The point I’m trying to make is that for the past three or so months whilst it has been grey, frozen and damp this park had been effectively abandoned by the local apart from dog walkers that had to be out for their canine’s essential bowel relief. Today, with the help of that big yellow thing in the sky, that picture changed.

I can be selfish when it comes to running, I like to choose routes and times that keep me secluded from the casual dog walker or jogger but today was a welcome change. Today the outdoors came alive. It was invigorating to see children playing football in the park, to hear equestrian’s cantering along in the distance, and smell the aroma of freshly flowering daffodil bulbs.

Got my heart set on a coastal trail route tomorrow so I’m hoping for more of the same in terms of weather but looking at the forecast I’m not too optimistic.

I Want to Ride My Bicycle

Today I took ownership of a new Giant TCX 2 (2012) from my local Giant dealer in Liverpool. I’ve been waiting for this bike for about a month or so from when my last Giant bike was stolen from the boot of my car (lesson learnt).

To make this purchase I took advantage of the Government’s Cycle to Work Initiative. My previous bike was stolen just after Christmas last year but truth be told I was thinking about getting a new bike on the scheme long before this happened, being bike-less just forced my hand.

Since deciding that I wanted a new bike I thought for a while about the pros and cons of a road bike versus an off road bike. I read reviews about each type of bike on websites like bikeradar.com and wiggle with some further reviews on random cycling forums where I was pointed in the direction of cyclocross bikes. Instantly I knew that this was the class of bicycle that I required. Having already owned a Giant bike their website was my next port of call where I read about the TCX range. I am far from a person in the know with respect to bikes but I know what I like and I liked what I saw. A few more keyword searches in Google and good review after good review led to a visit to the local Giant shop two-minutes around the corner from where I live.

I spent about ten minutes switching between a hybrid bike and the TCX range thinking to myself which would be more suitable. A member of staff obviously spotted the indecision written all over my face and approached me asking the question, “Are you drawn between the two bikes?”. I said “Yes.” His response and appraisal of the TCX 2 over others sold it to me, literally.

To set the wheels in motion with Cyclescheme I was issued a quote form and submitted its details online. From then on it was simply a waiting game with a few email updates along the way to state that my application had gone through various checks and that a certificate would be issued shortly.

Yesterday my certificate arrived through the letterbox and today I collected a brand new shiny bike. The whole process took approximately 4 weeks.

How did I get the bike?:

  • Checked that my employer were signed up to the scheme
  • Chose a bike and found a stockist who provided a written quote
  • Visited my employers specific Cyclescheme web address and submitted a request for a certificate
  • Received certificate in the post
  • Revisited store and collected my brand new bike

Thank you to the staff at Giant Liverpool for their advice and prompt delivery of the bike. I would and do recommend the cycle to work initiative to anyone that is looking for a new bike for their daily commute. A great opportunity to improve your fitness and save on taxes.

Death by Push-ups and Pull-ups

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The result of last nights CrossFit workout. Whilst doing kipping pull ups I felt a strange sensation to my left hand which I initially thought was the paint coming loose from the bar.

After jumping down I looked at my hand expecting to see black paint but instead I was treated to the sight of a flap of skin, oozing puss and delayed pain.

The workout: Death by Press-ups and Pull-ups

  • Min 1: 1 Press-up/1 Pull-up
  • Min 2: 2 Press-ups/2 Pull-ups
  • Min 3: 3 Press-ups/3 Pull-ups
  • Repeat until failure

I managed 12 Press-ups and 11 Pull-ups before my skin gave way and I could no longer continue.

Dusk or Dawn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst out running yesterday evening it dawned (pardon the pun) on me that some days I find running more enjoyable first thing in the morning and on other days as late as possible in the afternoon just as daylight diminishes. I am a shift worker and follow a pattern along the lines of 2 days followed by 3 nights where each shift is 12 hours long.

It appears there are many factors that make this so, some biological some environmental. The theory of circadian rhythms aims to explain many biological functions of the human body that occur cyclically over 24 hours. These primarily include:

  • body temperature cycle
  • sleep-wake cycle

The relationship between circadian rhythm and different types of exercise has been researched with results showing that activities requiring the majority of sporting components peak early in the evening close to the maximal body temperature. This may be a result of the muscle fibres being optimally warmed up and therefore flexible, perfused with oxygen and rich in energy stores. With theses components at their individual peak the activity could appear easier it terms of perceived exertion.

Research on heart rate testing and work capacity has produced results that show improved performance early in the morning as opposed to late on in the day. The reason for this being that heart rate response to increased work capacity were minimal.

Non physiological factors include those of the environment:

  • light – I like to run when the sun is rising or setting as a way of starting the day on a good note or putting to bed a bad day at the office with the setting of the sun
  • heat – avoiding the middle of the day in summer
  • air ionization – linked to sunrise and sunset, there is a particular smell in the air that entices me to run at these times of the day
  • activity and eating patterns – running before or after work and timing this with meal times also
  • social activities – running at different times of the day according to whether it’s a weekday or weekend and your commitments to friends and family

It has also been shown that shift workers are susceptible to changes in the time of day they prefer to exercise due in part to de-synchronisation of the sleep-wake cycle. In my experience this disturbance to the biological sleep-wake cycle will further disturb my daily pattern and influence non biological factors listed above.

In conclusion the results of the research could explain why during a rest week where I have 4 complete days off work and my circadian rhythm can be reset I prefer to do strength and conditioning training in the morning and run in the evening.

Conversely, during a working week and after a night shift when I go to sleep at 7am and awake at 3pm it isn’t really the morning it is of course the middle of the afternoon. How does this affect my circadian rhythm in terms of body temperature and sleep-wake cycle? From experience I can say that I feel terrible after sleeping through the day and feel even worse during subsequent exercise, a simple sub maximal 6 km run can feel extremely tiresome without a significant decrease in time to complete, although my rate of perceived exertion is much higher when compared to an early morning run after sleeping nocturnally.

In all honesty taking part in any exercise post night shift is a complete chore and requires a lot of effort, at least for me this quote rings true:

“The hardest step for a runner to take is the first one out the door.”

- Ron Clarke – world record marathon holder in the 1960′s.

If you have similar experiences regarding exercise at different times of the day or managing exercise with shift work then please do comment.

 

References:

  1. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov (1990) Human circadian rhythms and exercise. [Crit Rev Biomed Eng. 1990] – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2286092 [Accessed: 21 Feb 2012].
  2. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov (1996) Circadian variation in sports performance. [Sports Med. 1996] – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8726347 [Accessed: 21 Feb 2012].

Run Lift Ride

This blog is primarily a tool to aid my training for the year of 2012. My problem is that there are a plethora of excellent fitness related blogs on the web that inspire me to train but the truth is that I spend more time reading than actually engaging in exercise.

This year and for the future I aim to commit myself more regularly to exercise in the form of trail running, CrossFit and cycling hence Run Lift Ride.

Through this blog I aim to connect with like minded fitness enthusiasts, create a journal of my exercise commitments and improve my understanding of exercise science.