Archive for the ‘Running’ Category

A message to Usain Bolt’s competitors…

Picture from thor_matt83 via FlickR

Picture from thor_matt83 via flickr

…lose the bling!

This week has left biologists and statisticians speechless as Usain Bolt smashed his 100m record by over a 10th of a second (a video I have watched an extortionate amount since Sunday).

His closest competitor, Tyson Gay, ran a 9.71 (pretty close to Bolt’s previous record-breaking run in Beijing of 9.69). In short distances like the 100m, a tenth of a second is an age. Technological advances in sports clothing have given us lighter shoes and aerodynamic materials, designed to streamline the body. In a sport where every hundredth of second counts, an athlete’s weight is crucial.

So why, in the name of all that is holy, would the elite athletes drag themselves down with the unnecessary jewellery that the 100m finalists were wearing on Sunday?

Here comes the science bit, concentrate…

Lets say that, during his 100m final, Usain Bolt is running at top speed (roughly 12.44 metres per second*) by the time he reaches 60 metres. Bolt reached 60m in 6.31 seconds and he weighs 86kg (it’s amazing what you can find out online). That’s an acceleration of just under 2 metres per second, per second.

Force = mass x acceleration

172 Newtons.

Add a watch (10g), a bracelet (7g) and a gold chain with a ring around it (15g) and the extra force required to accelerate to top speed is an extra 0.064 Newtons!

OK, in reality that isn’t very much, in fact it’s the equivalent to a slight breeze. But in a sport where a race is cancelled if there’s a tail wind blowing at more than 2 m/s then this is a significant difference.

If…

  1. that meant nothing to you…
  2. you don’t believe me…
  3. you think I got my maths wrong…

…then check the table below. Usain and Gay (sans jewellery) came first and second.

Bet you wish you’d paid more attention in physics class now eh?

100 Metres Final

  1. Usain Bolt – 9.58 – NO BLING
  2. Tyson Gay – 9.71 – NO BLING
  3. Asafa Powell – 9.84 – WATCH, BEADED NECKLACE
  4. Daniel Bailey – 9.93 – CHAIN NECKLACE WITH A RING ON IT!
  5. Richard Thompson – 9.93 – CHAIN, WATCH
  6. Dwain Chambers – 10.00 – WATCH
  7. Marc Burns – 10.00 – BRACELET
  8. Darvis Patton – 10.34 – WATCH

Lose the bling...

* Calculated using the time it takes for him to run between the 60m and 80m marks during his 100m final.

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4 tips on how to beat your PB:

Post by Dan Worth

Beating your personal best

Okay, so you’re a competent runner. You’re a 10km pro, perhaps have a few half marathons under you’re belt, and maybe even a marathon and, towards the end you’re usually overtaking – and that makes you feel good. But, when the time comes up after the race, there’s a nagging doubt that perhaps you could be doing better. But how? How can you shave off a few minutes here, some precious seconds there, and start to improve those times? Well, thankfully, here are some tips to help you smash that PB:

  1. Race everything

    You see that other runner plodding along 60 meters away? Yeah? She’s going to win £1,000 instead of you unless you catch her in two minutes. Oh and that tree blowing innocently in the wind? It’s going to fall on you unless you’re past it in under 45 seconds. Basically: find motivation, whatever it is, to make yourself run faster than you need to. Overtake other runners, see how long you can stay ahead of a cyclist coming up behind you, imagine a dog is about to attack you, and so on. Anything you can do to exert extra energy will help you reach a new level of fitness. And it’s fun too. This is essentially the Swedish running style known as Fartlek (Speed Play) and is a good way to have fun, and increase your speed, while out running.

  2. Push yourself

    Perhaps this will sound obvious but you’ve got to push yourself. This though, needn’t mean running like Usian Bolt and sweating more than Lee Evans, it just means easing yourself from a position of comfort while running to one of, well, a bit less comfort. Next time you find yourself ticking along nicely, gradually start to accelerate. Nothing major, but a slow, steady increase, so that after about 200 meters you’re doing a good speed. Now maintain that pace for about three minutes, or as long as you feel comfortable with, and then ease back down to a comfortable pace. Speeding up gradually and then easing back down will help to shift the boundary of your most comfortable running speed to one that’s slightly faster than before.

  3. Time yourself

    Investing in a good watch is a great way to go faster. Being able to accurately record how fast and how far you’re running while out and about provides you with a much better way of being able to assess your ability. And using the Fartlek running style (mentioned above) means you can put a specific speed and/or distance limit on each sprint you do – say, 0.4km at 4.30 minutes per km. Garmin, the most well-known brand, have watches that start at around £60 on Amazon and a little shopping around will help you see what seems best.

  4. Plan your race

    This is the time when you might feel like an obsessive runner. Pick a race that’s flat, on a smooth surface, and avoids laps. Have a good breakfast (and a banana) and make sure you’re there in plenty of time to warm up. The race itself is also something you need to plan. The first 3km could dash any hopes you have if you go too slow or get caught in a crowd, so get to a good position in the start and ensure you begin at the pace you’ve planned for. Through 3km to 8km, you want to find that rhythm you’ve built to in training and stick to it: this is where your fancy watch will come in handy, telling you your exact pace, and alerting you if you’re going to slowly, allowing you to pick up the pace before you fall too far behind. Then over the last two kilometers really push it home, using the adrenaline of the race environment, the knowledge you’re close to home, and the fact you’re about to smash your PB, to really shave off as many seconds, or indeed minutes, as you can. Hopefully, this will see you home in your best time yet; and there’s something intensely satisfying about that.

Only trouble is once… now you’ve set it you’ve got to break it again. Back out on the road you go…

Avoid laps...

Dan Worth writes  for a UK business/trade magazine company, across a range of their titles. He has also written articles for Runners World and The Guardian. You can find his blog at danielworth.blogspot.com. Dan ran the London Marathon in 2009, has a half marathon time of 1 hour 42 minutes and his 10k PB is 42:20.
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5 tips for running a 10K race:

5 tips for a top 10k race - sirjogalot.com

For those that have just started running, whether you’re looking to lose a few pounds or you’re keen on running more competitively, a 10k race is a great first challenge to really test your endurance skills.

If you’re a fully fledged marathon runner, 10k is a nice distance to keep yourself in peak physical condition during those winter months and is a fantastic platform to start improving your long-distance times. Because of this, the 10k running race is one of the most popular events in the jogging community.

Here are 5 tips that will ensure that you’ll run and finish a 10k race in the time you’re looking to:

  1. Pick your training plan:
    You’ll need to decide on the training plan for you. This will depend on how seriously you’re going take the race and how far in advance you’ve been given to train. Annoyingly, unless you’re a regular runner, it can take a number of weeks to significantly improve your distance running so if your race is in a couple of weeks then getting round will be your main goal. Runner’s World and Cancer Research UK (beginners and advanced) have some good 10k training plans that are based on how long you have until race day.

  2. iStock_000007397647XSmallChoose the right clothes:
    If you’re new to running then you might be inclined to dust off those old trainers that have been lying in the back of your closet and start pounding asphalt. Don’t. Trainers are the most important tool in a runner’s arsenal and are the one area you should never scrimp on. Visit a recommended athletics store to have your gait analysed and pick up the shoes that are best suited to your running style. Your posture will improve and you’ll avoid unnecessary injury. With shorts, shirts and socks stick to light material and try and avoid heavier fabrics like thick cotton. This will hopefully reduce friction between thighs and armpits and will ‘wick’ away sweat should you get hot. Find out what you feel the most comfortable wearing (and how much leg you’re happy with showing off) and get plenty of…

  3. Practice:
    Unlike training for a marathon, 10 kilometres is a distance that you can perform at the end of each week that’ll leave you enough time to recover for the following week. Get a few 10k practice runs under your belt and try to discover what sort of times you feel comfortable with. Some may manage to crack the sub-one-hour mark on their first attempt. Others may struggle, but you can save yourself a few surprises by having a go around your local park. Use the Google Maps distance measurement tool or the GMAP Pedometer to map out the 10k and work out some split times based on landmarks on your route. It’ll come in handy come the big day as you’ll know whether to slow down or speed up as you reach each kilometre mark. If you’ve got the wallet, there are plenty of GPS tools you can purchase, like the Garmin Forerunner.

  4. Prepare:
    It might not be a marathon, but that doesn’t mean that a good bowl of pasta the night before won’t go down a treat on race day. Stock up on carbs, pin your race number to your shirt and plan your route to the start line the night before. The last thing you want is to arrive late at the start line and exhaust yourself getting there, or worse still, miss the race!

  5. Pace yourselfPace yourself:
    It sounds like simple advice, go steady and you’ll make it all the way round, and it is simple. But the amount of times I’ve been passed in the first mile of a 10k race, only to overtake them by mile 4, is absolutely astonishing. Your aim should be to obtain the much-heralded negative split time, where you run the second half of the race faster than the first. If it’s your first race you will almost certainly get caught up in the mad rush at the start and launch into a 4-minute K pace. You know your body, so you should know your extremities. The rumors that the crowd will keep you going are only true so far. If you run too fast at the start you’ll struggle at the end and you’ll leave the race feeling disappointed and upset with yourself.

 

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REVIEW: Sony Walkman W Series

Sir Jog A Lot sells out…

James BarnardLast night I went for my first, post-marathon jog. In 4 weeks I’ll be re-running the first race event I competed in, the Bupa London 10K. I’ve set myself a target of getting round in sub-50 minutes. Last year I couldn’t quite break the 55-minute mark but after training for (and completing) a marathon I should be Señor Speedy Jogales.

First things first, I need to keep my level of fitness exactly as it is. I’d had 9 days to recover from the marathon (which I’d spent eating and drinking myself into a stupor) so I went out on a 3-mile jog around Blackheath. As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s important to have another goal or milestone to focus on after the marathon to stop yourself getting the post-marathon blues (sometimes caused from the lack of endorphins produced during regular exercise). Plus, this time Sally is running with me, so I’ll have a bit of extra encouragement.

I also had a new toy to play with. Just before the marathon I was approached by a digital PR chap who had “an opportunity that I think might interest you” and two weeks later this bad boy arrived in the post; an mp3 player designed specifically for running folk.

Herein lies the dilemma. Do I keep my integrity, send the mp3 player back and continue to write the SJAL blog posts for free (or without perks), or do I sell out, review the thing and keep it? From the title of the post you can guess what I did! To be fair, I’ve already plugged a fair few websites and running products and if this PR agency thinks that my audience (you guys) would benefit from whatever they’re trying to get in the press then I’m more than happy to review it.

So here goes… my first review:

I ran the three miles with the Sony Walkman W Series and it was the fastest three miles I’ve ever run (something like 21 minutes). Unfortunately, the reason for my speed wasn’t due to the inspiring music that had been pre-loaded on to the device, but simply because I didn’t want anyone to see me with this thing attached to my head.

Sony_W_SeriesThe mp3 player is built directly into the headphones and the cable that connects the two, wraps round the back of your head. The theory behind it is brilliant. It gets rid of the annoying dangling cables (that you’d normally have to tuck underneath your shirt) and allows quick and easy access to the controls so you can play, pause, change track and adjust volume really easily. In practice, however, the device is clunky, uncomfortable and a little unsightly. I’m quite a self-conscious person (for the longest time I had issues running in a pair of shorts that show any leg above the knee) so I felt uncomfortable wearing a bright white device* that resembles two bluetooth headsets. You can’t even cover it with a hat because your hat won’t fit!

If this doesn’t bother you (and you have the right shaped head) then you’ll love this device and you’d have no reason not to. The sound quality is brilliant. The headphones resemble the MDR inner-ear series (I have a pair of these and the sound quality is unmatched for the price) and once the device is securely in place there’s no moving it. I’m no Paula Radcliffe head-bobber but the W Series stayed in place throughout my run. It charges in 3 minutes (using a slick little docking station that comes with it) and can hold 2GB worth of music (about 500 songs).


The player also features the new ‘Zappin’ function, which will play a snippet of the chorus of each of your songs (much like a TV advert for a Ministry of Sound CD) until you tap the button and ‘Zap In’ the song you want to listen to. Clever. It sounds cheesy but it’s a very cool way of choosing songs without having a screen in front of you to see what you’re listening to and it’s a lot of fun to play around with.

My advice, try before you buy. The cable that connects the two earpieces doesn’t have much give and if your head isn’t quite the right size then it’ll feel odd and you’ll be constantly trying to adjust it, rather than focusing on your run. I was so busy trying to adjust it that I nearly locked myself out of my flat.  It’s a shame because the concept and the functionality works so well.

Sir Jog A Lot rating: 3/5

* The W Series also comes in black, purple, pink and yellow

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Flora London Marathon 2009: Race Day – part 2

I knew the next section of the course very well, having run it many times before during my training runs. This, however, was not an advantage at all. The Highway, Westferry Road and Eastferry Road are long stretches of tarmac that just seem to keep going and have no poignant landmarks (aside from Canary Wharf in the distance). Although the crowds were brilliant, the numbers had started to drop off and it was down Westferry Road (the Isle of Dogs section) that I started to feel nauseous. At mile 16 the heat became too much for me.

MS Society cheering point: Canary WharfAs I turned the corner to travel back up towards Canary Wharf I began to feel faint and my vision started to blackout. It came over me very quickly and I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I didn’t want to start walking as I knew how hard it would be to start a jog back up again but something needed to change. For the next two minutes I ploughed my way along at barely a jog until I was seriously concerned that I was going to pass out.

I’m still really not sure what the problem was. There was a possibility that I was having a hypoglycemic attack. The symptoms were similar (I’d recognise them easily as I have type-1 diabetes) but the shakes weren’t as prominent as when hypoglycemia sets in. Still feeling very unsettled and sick, I began to walk. I became very upset and disappointed in myself. The hardest part to handle was that I knew exactly how far I had left to go and could visualise the route clearly in front of me. I had 10 miles left to cover and just couldn’t picture myself finishing. I began to think about the speech that Monty Halls had given in the Justgiving meet-up and how, later that day, I would have all the time in the world to look back and reflect on my performance. I knew I’d be disappointed but said to myself, “You’ll also remember how shit you’re feeling right now!”

Right at that moment, another MS Society runner ran up from behind me, tapped me on the shoulder and said,

“Come on Sir Jog A Lot, you can do better than that! The best of luck to you.”

… and the second he went past I started to run again. I’d only walked for around 30 seconds but it had felt like a lifetime. I approached the next drink station, grabbed a cool bottle of water, took one gulp and poured the rest over my head. This was the first ever time I’d done that and the feeling was invigorating. I immediately felt much better and picked up the pace again. I wasn’t quite at 10-minute miles but I was running and that’s all that mattered. From then on it was the support from the crowd that kept me running right until the finish. It sounds cliched but I don’t think I’d have achieved anywhere near 26 miles if it weren’t for the support from the crowd, my friends and my family along the route. If you ever do the marathon then my one piece of advice is have someone there with you. When you hit that wall, which I well and truly had done, you’ll need their support more than ever.

Over the next 2 miles I was cheered on by an old school friend who I haven’t seen for yonks, my friends and family at the next MS Society cheering point and a fellow blogger who recognised the ‘Sir Jog A Lot’ on the back of my vest and wished me luck. She had an eventful race. This picture was taken at Canary Wharf.

Canary WharfYou can see the relief in my eyes at seeing some familiar faces. This picture also gives an idea of the casualties there were that day. I’m too delirious to notice the poor bugger to the left of me who was being so violently sick and was in so much pain that the paramedics could hardly touch him. According to the BBC, 6,038 runners needed medical attention that day. It was no 2007 heatwave but it was pretty toasty.

By now I’d started to feel a little cramp set in at my groin and I had the beginnings of sunburn (which would later turn in to full-blown strap marks across my shoulders) but I was really enjoying the experience. London sometimes has a reputation of being a grumpy and impersonal city. Not today. There was not one ounce of discontent or negativity and the whole of London had come together to cheer on a group of runners, who most had never met before or have any affiliation, with as much passion and vigour as a father watching his son score his first goal for his school football team. It was awe inspiring.

At mile 23 the noise was deafening. The walls of the city buildings echoed the screams and cheers from the spectators and it was one of the best moments of my life. I was told later on that one of my friends spotted me at this point and they were screaming my name but I couldn’t hear.

At mile 25 I was plum-tuckered. The last 1.2 miles went incredibly slowly. I must have run a 13 or 14-minute-mile and every inch of me wanted to walk. The MS Society post-race reception was along Birdcage Walk, two turns from the finish line, and I saw my supporters one final time (they did incredibly well to spot me three times during the race). I didn’t quite have enough for a sprint finish but I made it over the line to join an elite group of people who can say…

“I’ve run the London Marathon.”

Time: 4:45:51

MS Society post-race reception

Not the best time and certainly a very long way from my initial target of sub-4 hours (yeah right) but I was over the moon to have finished. The goodie bag was stacked full of post-race treats and it wasn’t exactly light (sports drink, milkshake, apple, Jelly Babies, creams, t-shirt, foil blanket and much more), which made the trip back round to the MS Society post-race reception all the more fun!

I was provided with a sports massage from two burly blokes, the only two men in a room full of female masseurs (I think Lady Jog A Lot had been in and had a word before I got there). They also interviewed me for a video that’ll be used to entice others to run the marathon for the MS Society (link to be posted as soon as it becomes available).

Would I do it again?

You bet your ass I would!

Very proud...

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Eager or Anxious?

Watch out for me on SundayI am now fully immersed in marathon excitement/frustration/anxiety. There are 4 more days to go until this is all over and every part of me is wishing Sunday would hurry up and get here. The lack of exercise is driving me slightly loopy. I’m constantly fidgeting, doodling and finding every excuse to move around. Today I ran up the stairs at work as fast as I could like a little school boy, taking three steps at a time. I even jumped ahead with my checklist and bought my 7 DVDs to watch on Saturday today. One of which was Run Fat Boy Run.

Although I’m ready and raring to go, a side of me is wishing I had longer. I have no idea what I’m going to do with myself after the marathon is over and done with and apparently I’m not alone with this feeling. There is actually a condition called post marathon depression, where a person, instead of feeling relief and a sense of achievement, feels empty and falls into a lull. I’m sure I’ll be feeling the former, plus I have a 10k race booked in after (in which I’m hoping to break the 50-minute mark).

Over the past few days all I’ve done is research the London Marathon in a bid to get a feel for what the experience is going to be like. I don’t want any surprises coming my way on Sunday. In doing so I stumbled across the London Marathon media pack, which contains a multitude of brilliant facts about the marathon – like the following:

  • The most money raised for charity by a single marathon runner was £1,841,138
  • This year over 150,000 people applied to run the marathon, around 50,000 normally get accepted and around 36,000 actually start
  • The most common profession amongst this year’s runners is teaching/education
  • 159 of the runners will be celebrating their birthday on race day
  • 300 litres of blue paint will be used to paint the line on the course that represents the shortest distance
  • 750,000 bottles of water will be distributed throughout the course
  • The fastest time run in a Santa outfit is 3:12:27!

However, this is the most worrying fact…

  • Number of urinal bays at the start = 400

Lets say that out of the 36,000 people that normally start, 20,000 odd are men (this year the number of men out-weigh the women at around 3-1). Lets also assume that every man will need the loo at least once during the build up to the start. That equates to 50 men per urinal! This is probably why the London Marathon magazine in the starters pack contains this picture…

My garden is near the start line!

I’ve always been one for toilet humour.

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Running a Marathon With a Cold:

My girlfriend was ill with a nasty cold last week and my punishment, for not looking after her better, was to get the cold myself. Obviously, being a guy, mine was ten times worse and forced me to take 2 days off work. I also didn’t run for 4 days as a result.

Too run or not to run...

Just before I felt it coming on I did my biggest run so far (and ever). After this it would mean tapering down all the way to the marathon. The 20 miles took me 3 hours 20 minutes. Again, not a great time but at least I managed to squeeze an extra mile in to that time slot. I’d prepared well for the run. I’d had beans on brown toast for breakfast and this time I’d taken 3 carbo gels with me that I’d bought the day before from the London Marathon shopin Covent Garden.

To be honest, I didn’t really feel any effect after taking them. It was a pretty hot day during the run and I had to ration the water in the bottle I was carrying as it’s not very big. Apparently it’s important to get your water intake right while taking the gels so maybe this had something to do with it but I still felt knackered at the end and couldn’t keep a decent pace. In hindsight, this is probably because I was on the verge of the WORST COLD EVER, and I’ll finish the marathon (I’m sure of it) but I really don’t think I’m going to be able to complete it in under 4 hours.

This, coupled with the fact that being ill has stopped my training, has meant that this has been a tough week. I’d wanted to keep training so badly during these past couple of days (especially as the marathon is now less than 3 weeks away). I nearly followed the ‘neck rule‘; if your ailment is above the neck (sniffles, head colds, ear infections) then running will most likely not do you any harm and if your ailment is below the neck (injury, coughs, stomach aches) then running won’t do you any good. I’m not sure if there is any scientific theory behind this rule but I rested up nonetheless.

Apparently, the volume of runners that pull out of the marathon due to illness is quite high. Here’s a fact that’ll put a smile on couch potatoes across the land. Endurance training causes a rise in the hormone cortisol which causes stress. This stress can affect the immune system, which can make you more susceptible to infection! So basically, because I’m eating better and exercising more, I’m more likely to get a cold than Fatty McFatterson of Cheeseburger Land!

Of course, I’m exaggerating (I’m not well). The key difference is the volume of exercise. Running for anything longer than 90 minutes causes blood sugar levels to drop to a level where this hormone is more prevalent. Marathon runners exceed this regularly in training and as a result, towards the end of their training, many marathoners pick up a cold.

This wouldn’t have mattered to me if I’d picked up this cold the day before the London Marathon, I’d still have blamed my girlfriend. I’m terrified that something bad is going to happen between now and the big day and I won’t be able to run. I’ve stopped playing football in case I pick up an injury, I’ve stopped drinking so I’m never running on a hangover and I’m taking a Berocca every day to keep the vitamin-C up. 17 days left to avoid twisting my ankle walking off a pavement…

Next week I’ll be attending the Justgiving pre-London Marathon Meet-up at the RIBA, London. Hopefully I’ll see a few fellow bloggers there to watch the 4 speakers, Monty Halls, Simon FosterSally Kettle and Vanessa Galeshare their tips on fundraising. I’ve got £200 to go…

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