Hello and welcome to autumn.
As I said last week, to gain some writing momentum I’m going to simply share what I’ve learnt the previous week as well as anything else that seems relevant to running, fitness or health.
I’m playing with the format and may even make it into a proper newsletter, but for now I’ll simply list a bunch of stuff under some headings.
I hope something in here is useful or interesting.
Until next week.
Flappy Bottles are Awesome
Those of us that go out for long runs will know that it’s essential to carry water (and food) but doing so can be really annoying. I’ve tried a number of methods from hand carrying which I didn’t get on with at all as I felt unbalanced, to a bum-bag type thing which included a hard plastic bottle carrier; this just rubbed and slipped on my non-existent hips a lot and was downright awful.
So, a few months ago as I had a long trail race coming up and had to carry quite a bit of emergency gear too, I splashed out on a Salomon race vest. This is a fantastic but pricey piece of kit that deserves its own review but right now my focus is on the two 500ML Salomon soft flasks that came with it.
They are made by Hydrapack, they are very thin and light but also insanely easy to drink from. Just bite, squeeze and suck.
The most important bit, however, is that there is no air in the bottle. When you first suck the bit of air in the top comes out and you’re left with a slightly deformed bottle with nothing but water in it. As you drink it gets smaller and smaller until it’s just a plastic thing with all the air sucked out.
Why is this a big deal?
Try running 3 hours plus with a sloshing noise every few seconds and you’ll know why this becomes a real annoyance, it can be like torture.
In addition, they pack down so small that even on medium runs, say 8-10 miles where it’s too long to go without any water, but you (I) only need a small amount, I can half-fill it, suck all the air out and pop it in the tiny pocket on my shorts. It’s enough for a few mouthfuls and takes up almost no weight.
They are so good.
I now have my eye on the matching bum-bag which will also carry them. It looks compact enough to use on longer road races just to carry some food which would mean I can dump the gels and eat proper food, or more likely mix my fueling up a bit. More on this another time…
It has been an hilariously rubbish summer here (in my part of the UK at least). Mostly grey, wet at times with the occasional nice-ish day. However, even though it has looked pretty miserable after a few miles of running you get to know that it’s still pretty warm.
For me warm and running equates to copious sweating and this causes a number of problems.
Being able to see can be an issue if your eye are full of salty water. To remedy this I’m having to use a Buff on my wrist as a large sweatband-come-cloth. For medium-plus runs I have to use one per wrist!
Erm, chafing, downstairs. Use your imagination, or actually, maybe not bother! I’m just going to leave this link to nappy rash cream and move right along.
Finally sodden and minging clothing. It can be a challenge to get them clean and ready for the next run, especially if you’re training hard with back-to-back sessions. I now have three sets of kit that I have to rotate. My new race vest as mentioned above, which I use for runs over 10 miles, has to be washed regularly too, else it’s too grim for words.
I guess there’s one benefit to not living in a hot country, we’ll be back to wet and freezing any day now.
Strava Adds Blogging
Clearly making a play to become the social network for athletes, Strava this week started rolling out ‘Athlete Posts‘ to the rest of us. This is apparently after a public beta with some high profile runners and cyclists.
The public launch was a bit odd.
When I opened up Strava on my phone last Thursday I got a message informing me about the feature. I followed the instructions but it didn’t work. I ended up opening the website, something I rarely do, and indeed there I could add my first post. It wasn’t until Friday or Saturday that my phone informed me the exact same thing again though this time the [+] button would now let me add posts and images. I guess someone pulled the trigger early on the deploy.
Lack of tagging people or searches seems to be a major oversight but they do at least allow images & links. The biggest failure, though, is not allowing any text formatting.
Meditation for Wriggly People
I know I should meditate, but I don’t.
Well technically I do, but only if you count my runs where I’m now a pro at clearing my mind of anything other than the task in hand.
Being able to meditate ‘properly’, to be still, quiet & calm and without the overhead of having to go out in the rain would be amazing but I find it so hard to sit still for more than about 5 minutes without my A.D.D fidgeting kicking in that I’d pretty much given up on it.
That was until I stumbled across this long form post on Medium.
For years, I’ve tried and failed to get into meditation. It didn’t matter how many friends recommended it, how many guided meditation apps I tried, or how many benefits I read about.
I just don’t like sitting still. The most popular form of meditation—sitting and focusing on your breath—never stuck.
There are many people like me. This guide is meant as an alternative. If you don’t like sitting still, there are many active approaches that achieve similar results.
It is such a comprehensive post that I’ve not had the time to read it end to end yet, but it looks like a great resource if you’re anything like me.
With only six weeks to go I am at the highest mileage and intensity part of my training plan, as my Instagram post indicated.
Due to a scheduling screw up I had to jiggle my days around and ended up with back-to-back 20K days; not a good idea. The first day was fine, but day two I was due to do a ‘quick’ 20K run at around my half marathon pace (~8 min/mile or 5 min/KM in new money) but after a few miles I was really not feeling it.
I ended up baling early, the first time I’ve done that during this training cycle.
To avoid any possible mojo loss I gave myself the next day off too and after a great recovery run on Saturday I got my first 20 miler of the campaign out of the way at the pace my plan dictated (90% of target pace) and, most importantly, the next day I could still walk thanks to tons of stretching and icing.
This was a massive confidence boost and body permitting I’m still looking good for my target time.
So, there was a bit of a wobble in the middle but it ended up being a good training week.
Quote of the Week
Courage is not the absence of despair. It is, rather, the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair. – Rollo May
Up to very recently I’ve been in quite a deep funk and that jumped out at me when I was reading this article. It resonated.
Mark said a nice thing about my last post. This was pretty surprising seeing as I’ve not posted in over a year. Thanks for taking the time to comment Mark 😊