Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Out of time

For the first time in over a year I'm actually not training for any specific event. Hill training, Tempo runs, Long runs...not required...I can just run.

In the last few weeks I have been running when I want, where I want and more importantly without any pressure of times and distance, because I took the big step of RUNNING NAKED!

Running naked is a term in running meaning - No gadgets, so no watches, GPS etc. The first run was tough,very tough, for 8 years I have been running with pretty much every run recorded. By the third run though I was beginning to except and even quite enjoy my new found freedom and it was quite refreshing.

After the first week, I then had a week off from running. I was away to Cornwall with friends and family. The first things I packed were my trainers. All I could think about was the chance to be running the coastal paths everyday. After two nights of lousy sleep in a tent the thoughts of running went out the window, and I resigned myself to actually taking a break from running, let my hair down and enjoy some good old Cornish pasties and give the legs a good old rest. What did it matter, I wasn't recording any runs, so enjoy some time out.

At the weekend I hit the North Downs Way. The plan was to run roughly an hour, I drove to one of my favourite spots in Puttenham to pick up the path. After a couple of miles of climbing, the path tracks through an open area with some beautiful views. When I got there, there was not a soul to be seen, I stopped to have a quick slurp of my drink before continuing..."Hang on a minute" I thought, "I'm not timing this, what does it matter if I sit down and enjoy the views for 10 minutes" and that's exactly what I did with the world to myself. Had I been running a set distance and timing this run, the obsession with figures would have had me glimpsing at the views but this day I had spent a wonderful 10 minutes taking in the beautiful surroundings.

Time Out
In the back of my head I still know roughly what distances I'm running. I know if I'm out for an hour I'm going to be running about 7 miles, and if I'm running to work I know I've done near on a Half Mary. But it's nice not having the pressure of times and always looking at the watch. I've planned to do this for a month, but I'm feeling so relaxed and care free about my running at the moment.

I'm not sure what I'm planning next, I'd like to train for another marathon, and when I do this I will probably follow a structured plan but until then I may continue with running naked for a while.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Ben Allen Interview

Ben Allen is a World Class Professional Triathlete. He specialises in the non-drafting format from 70.3 Ironman, Long Distance and the Xterra World Off-Road Triathlon Tour. Ben is based in Wollongong, Australia and from April through to October he joins the World’s Elite Endurance Athletes in Europe, basing himself in France.

·         Your European base is France; does that feel as much home as Australia?

BEN: I really enjoy living in France the culture; people & style of living is very unique. I try and make it feel as much, my home in Australia as possible, but nothing can compare to my hometown of Wollongong, Australia where I have access to beautiful beaches and mountains.

·         Why and how did you get into Triathlon?

BEN: I started in the sport of Surf life saving winning numerous State, Australian and World Championship medals. I was targeted by Triathlon Australia’s in the High Performance program when I was training for my third Coolangatta Gold Ironman Race as having the potential to be a World Class Triathlete.
Now in my third year of triathlon, I have successfully raced in Europe, America & Asia on the ITU Triathlon World Cup series, Oceania Cup races, Continental Cup circuit and race in the Division 1 Triathlon Grand Prix French League. As well as racing the Ironman 70.3 and the World Xterra Championships Tour, which covers 16 races around Europe, 7 USA Championships Races and the World Xterra Championships in Maui, Hawaii.

·         Do you spend more time training on one discipline more over the others?

BEN: I come from an Ocean Swimming/Surfing background, so I focus more on my riding and running. Riding my Giant 29er on fast downhill single tracks and running on endless trails with my On Cloud Surfers.

·         If you could only compete in one discipline which one would it be?

BEN: Having competed in the Xterra Off-Road World Tour series, has really made me think I would love to try and be a Pro XC mountain biker. If that didn’t work out, definitely a trail runner… Especially running with my On Shoes, they have created a new feel that I search for, ever time I run
·         Do you train on each discipline every day?

BEN: No, I don’t do as much swimming as when I was a Surf Ironman athlete, but I try and keep a balance of all three disciplines so I can maintain my fitness and feel for each discipline.

 ·         You are nicely positioned 3rd in the Xterra tour; are you happy with the way things are going?

BEN: I started the Xterra World Tour, winning 4 World Tour Races and the 1st round of the Xterra European Tour in Italy with a second place finish. I was unlucky to be struck down by a virus in the lead up to this year Xterra France World Tour Championship race and fought on to finish inside the top 10. There are three races left on the European Tour (Czech, Germany & Switzerland) and I will be doing everything possible to finish on the top of the podium.

·         With back-to-back weekends coming up on the tour how will you spend the week training in between?

BEN: After the race I will have a couple of days of rest & recovery and then 1 or 2 days training over the next race course to familiarise myself with the terrain & demands to be able to maximise my perform during the race. 
I will do a little bit of training on all three disciplines the day before the race to check all my equipment and get myself in the right fame of mind…

·         How many miles running do you cover in a week’s training?

BEN: I look at running 62 to 74 miles a week in training. For a big block of training with no races I would run around 74miles and in the lead up to races anywhere from 50-64miles.

·         Do you follow any special diet?

BEN: I try and eat a healthy balanced diet of Carbs, Fats and Proteins. But I treat myself every now and again. ;-)

·         I’m reviewing the ‘On’ Cloudrunners, how do you find them? They are certainly an interesting design, do you wear yours to compete in?

BEN: I love my On’s!
On has created a unique feel like no other running shoe. The evolutionary new cushioning and outsole technology called CloudTec is mind blowing. The faster you run the more you feel like the shoes are propelling you forward.

·         I do a lot of trail running, how do the Cloudrunners cope with the terrain?

BEN: Perfectly! I have run in rivers, up grassy mountain, steep technical descents, down waterfalls & icy trails and never encountered any problems. I love my On’s perfectly suited to any Off-Road Terrain!

·         How do the trails compare in Europe compared to back home?

BEN: The trails in Europe are some of the most challenging in the World. Back home in Australia, I would call my mountains, hills compared to the some of the Mountains I have encounter in Europe.

 ·         What’s your mantra when the going gets tough?

BEN: I like it tough. I have had to deal with a lot more up’s and down’s compared to most travelling athletes coming all the way from Australia. But I always try and stay positive and focused on my goals and dreams. My family and friends back home are the backbone to my success.

·         Who are your sporting hero’s

BEN: I really admire, Stuart O’Grady. He has a heart of a lion and a never say die attitude. He is a family man and an inspiration to many Aussie kids.

·         What advice would you give your younger self, with the benefit of experience?

BEN: Give yourself time to develop as an athlete and don’t try and rush your development within the sport. You wont become World Champion over night. Always try to turn a negative situation into a positive one. Love the life you live and enjoy the journey.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

On Cloudrunner

I've been lucky enough to have the chance to review these new trainers from the Swiss company 'On' 
The On collection features 4 types of trainer; The Cloudracer, the Cloudsurther, the Cloudrunner (which I was reviewing) and the Cloudster. You may be seeing the theme here...Clouds! The CloudTec system, the circular rubber cushions on the underside of the shoe, reduce the impact of foot hitting the ground giving the sensation of running on...em...Clouds!

These trainers fit in the innovative category along with brands such as Newton's, a brave attempt to be different in the colossal world of running trainers.

Running Clouds
I so wanted these trainers to work for me, they were different, quirky and good looking. They were certainly one of the most comfortable trainers I have worn with the fit around the foot.

The Cloudrunner claims to 'make concrete easy' which it does effectively. The trainer is designed for high impact and endurance runs. With it's CloudTec technology the trainer even claims to help with posture and toning while on the run.

Once off the concrete I hit the trails to put the trainers through there paces. Through the muddy trails I was expecting the mud to cling and get between the rubber cushions under foot but this was not to be and they freed themselves of any muck consistently. I felt more comfortable running on concrete than on the trails with these trainers. The Cloud system seem to benefit the harder surface and felt a little awkward and unresponsive on the trails.

After about 5 miles of running in the trainers my legs became very fatigued and my murmuring Achilles strain I have at the moment became more prominent.

I'm certainly not accusing the Cloudrunner of causing injury, but it's a shoe you need to get used to and build up the miles steadily. It's almost like learning to run again. It made me run different, a planned 15 mile run turned into 5 miles due to tired legs.

To sum up the On Cloudrunner, it's a very comfortable fitting shoe, a very well made shoe and a shoe that stands out from the cloud...I mean crowd. Probably best suited for the neutral footed runner. But for this overpronating, Achilles pain suffering runner I need to stick to what I know and am comfortable in at the moment.

A well made quirky shoe

Overall Performance 29 out of 40

Cushioning - 8 out of 10, A different type of cushioning to traditional trainers, but just as effective.
Comfort - 8 out of 10, More comfortable on tarmac.
Flexibility - 6 out of 10, Not overly Flexible.
Responsiveness - 7 out of 10, Not the responsive that I'm used to.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Womens London Olympic Marathon 2012

I thought I'd share a few pictures and short video from the Woman's Olympic marathon last Sunday morning.

I went along with my two boys (the youngest whom I must give credit to for the photos!) After an early start we made our way from Waterloo, across the river, past Big Ben and along to the end of Birdcage Walk. It brought back some great memories from my marathon back in April.

We had a great position to see the runners come down the long road before they followed the bend around to Buckingham Palace. The only thing that ruined the morning was the great British weather and the biggest downpour ever!

The great thing about this Olympic course unlike the traditional London course was the runners would complete laps which meant we got to see the athletes more than once, after the first couple of laps we made our way back towards Big Ben and watched the remainder of the race from there.

The men's marathon is next Sunday, if you can make it, I would recommend it. It's free and an amazing chance to get right up close to the elites. I was very nerdy looking at trainers, running style and even the way their feet were landing!!!


1st Tiki Gelana Ethiopia 2:23:07
2nd Priscah Jeptoo 2:23:12
3rd Tatyana Petrova Arkhipova 2:23:29
10th Shalane Flanagan USA 2:25:51

11th Kara Goucher USA 2:26:07
44th Freya Murray GB 2:32:14

12th Helalia Johannes Nambia 2:26:09
13th Marisa Barros Portugal 2:26:13