Inspiring Greatness

Cross country for middle schoolers seems to be a great way to get kids running and a great way to get many of them to actually enjoy it. In the schools in our area, a huge number of kids are on the cross country teams. Meets are huge events. And most of these kids are actually having fun (before, after and even during the events).

It was easy to pick out which kids have the killer finish instinct, which ones can pace, and which ones are just hanging on to the coattails of the one in front of them. Since this was the first race of the season many kids were making mistakes. But that is how we all learn. At the next race next week they will all run smarter.

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But sadly there are fewer kids out there in the older grades as their priorities change or as they get discouraged with their progress.

So I think we need to continue to encourage these youngsters to stretch themselves to be the best they can be. When they get discouraged, we need to help them push on so they don’t quit prematurely. There is so much potential out there.

And they need heros and role models to look up to. That’s us, fellow experienced runners. We are the heros and role models whether we accept the challenge or not, whether we feel we are worthy or not. They are looking to us for inspiration.

So let’s keep running, and let’s keep inspiring those around us to greatness.

Shores of Lake Victoria

I get to spend a couple nights on the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda, East Africa. We are in Entebbe for some decompression after having spent over a week in rural Uganda where I led a team of volunteers. Tomorrow we fly home.

Unfortunately I have a deep chest cold so I didn’t run today, but I did go for a walk and do some stretching this morning on the beach.

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I love exploring while traveling. Maybe tomorrow I can run along the beach if I am feeling better. Looking forward to a sunrise run and a good ending to a great trip to Africa.

Podcast Spotlight – Talk Ultra

Aspiring to do an ultra? Or interested in what the fastest in the ultra world are up to? Maybe this podcast is for you.

Talk Ultra is a professionally edited podcast with world class ultra athletes doing long interviews. Ian Corless, the British host, digs deep into the running lives of these crazy runners. He also goes to a lot events and reports with his amazing photos on his website.

There is a host of advice for runners about running, about races around the world, and about how to do it better. This is not a scientific analysis of running, it is often a detailed recap of races from racers who are near the front of the pack.

And of course a podcast about ultras just can’t be short. This one often is 2.5 to 3 hours long with many interviews taking up at least half an hour. I guess it is meant to be listened to on your very long runs.

“Talking your legs off”

I listened to this podcast many times before my first ultra and now that I have done a few I am still gaining wisdom from the pros who contribute to this program.

Talk Ultra – Give it a listen and see what you think.

Latest episode is at: http://traffic.libsyn.com/talkultra/Episode_94_GlenCoe_UTMB.mp3

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Source of da Nile (denial)

I am lucky enough to be traveling for work in Africa. I have gone for a couple runs so far in the city of Jinja, Uganda. It is amazing here to be at such an iconic, historic place.

Yesterday, I picked the right road to run on apparently since there were about 10 other African runners when I was running just after sunrise. I was definitely a spectacle with my white skin that nearly shines in the dark streets that have no lights. But the other runners had friendly waves.

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The rain makes for some very messy and muddy roads. And the red dirty makes a mess of your clothes. I think my shoes are permanently stained red.

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The Nile River is very wide at the start with a dam immediately downstream from where we were. This view was from the hotel where we were staying.

I didn’t see any alligators or hippos but I know they were there. I wouldn’t want to have to outrun a hippo. I hear they are deadly. Alligators too.

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Backroads near Jinja

I love exploring by running wherever I happen to be traveling. You sure get to see a lot.

How do you train for 87k? he asked incredulously

“87 km race? That’s more than 50 miles? How did you train for 87 km?”

“By running a lot”

No kidding you must run a lot

Actually my training was quite similar to marathon training, just longer

Longer? You’re crazy!

Yeah I hear that a lot

How long were your long training runs?

I ran 50km one Saturday, and 42 km on the Saturdays each side of that. Those runs were about a month out from the race.

I hear some runners run over 100 miles (160km) per week.

I don’t go that far but normal weeks for two months straight were over 100km per week.

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It's a long road to an ultra

How do you fit in the other 50 to 60 km per week?

I aimed to put in 50 km per weekend over two days usually. This year I opted to run to and from work several times per week depending if I was running in the evening with anyone else. I am lucky that my work is about 10 km from home so that would make a 20 km day. So three days of a running commute would give me enough kms.

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These were my friends during long lonely training runs that I had to do by myself

Did you ever give yourself any days off?

I always took Fridays off and often Mondays too, so my Tuesday through Thursday was quite tiring.

I hear you should be doing speed work or hill repeats once per week.

I hardly did speed work. I had run a marathon in early May and I had done speed work for that. But once that was over, for the next three months, I didn’t put myself through that. Maybe I should have but my plan was exhausting enough.

And hill repeats?

I definitely got my hills in. This race was a mountain race with an insane amount of vertical so I knew how important that was. So all my long runs had a similar amount of vertical per km as the race, about 100m per 2km. And I took the hilly route to work. A couple times I found some mountains to climb (and to come down). That hill training was absolutely necessary and I am very glad I put myself through it.

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If that's the size of your hill your going to have to do a whole lot of hill repeats

Did you try to fit in any cross training?

I had hoped to bike to work on my off days but I realized that I didn’t have it in me, especially mentally. I needed a break. I did some core strengthening exercises a few times per week until about a month before the race when I suddenly just lost motivation to do core. But I am sure glad I got it in as long as I did. My back and hamstrings would have been much worse off otherwise.

So is there anyone else out there to train with for these crazy distances?

For sure. You just have to know where to look. Many of the trail running groups draw people who love ultras. But the problem with trail running groups is that people are quickly inspired to sign up for more races which inevitably are longer or harder. So while it is good to meet these people for encouragement and inspiration be prepared that you won’t be able to quit after one ultra. It can be addicting.

So what would you say if I said I wanted to run an ultra?

You’re crazy! But go for it!

Podcast Spotlight – Marathon Talk

Tom and Martin host a UK based fast paced weekly podcast called Marathon Talk where they interview top runners, interesting runners, and normal runners. They talk us through who is who in the world of running, hot issues, records being broken, and amazing events.

They are two very normal runners who took to sharing their opinions and informing the world of runners about running, especially marathon running.

They are very inspiring, encouraging and they don’t leave any one behind. Middle of the packers and back of the packers should find this just as engaging and encouraging as those who are at the top end.

They have a huge following in the UK but they do follow the US and East African running scene quite closely too.

Give it a listen. It is 1.5 hours long, coming out each Wednesday. If you haven’t done a marathon before you start listening, you probably will put it on your list soon after, no matter how scared you might be to give it a shot.

I have listened to it for several years making sure it is ready to go when I have my long runs scheduled.

http://www.MarathonTalk.com

Listen to the latest episode here: http://traffic.libsyn.com/marathontalk/MT296.mp3

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Eating whatever is put in front of you

I do not put a lot of thought into what I eat. I am quite predictable: cheerios for breakfast, peanut butter and jam sandwich for lunch. Dinner is quite varied but i am lucky enough that my wife is usually the inspiration (and most of the effort) behind it.

However when I travel I typically have even less regular input into what I eat. Airlines feed us whatever they will. It is difficult to eat well in restaurants. And when I am hosted at a family’s home (quite often) it is only proper to eat everything that is put in front of you.

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I regularly take probiotics while traveling to other countries to ensure strange foods are not rejected by my systems.

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Chicken on a stick
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Rice and beans from a very sketchy restaurant

So because I tend to eat a lot more and to eat less healthily while traveling, exercise is even more important. But given the nature of traveling, exercise is harder to come by.

I always look forward to returning home to that predictable diet.

Any tips out there on how to eat while traveling?

Far Flung Places and Races

I travel to far flung places with my job several times per year but I can’t seem to get any exotics races in. I am constantly on the lookout for races in East Africa and there are a lot of them but my schedule never complies.

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I travel through London and Amsterdam but never can I just extend a couple days to include a weekend. In the last couple years I have been in Ecuador, Myanmar, Haiti, Colombia, Ghana, and a bunch of countries in East Africa. Even my trip through New York could have worked except it was in February and too miserably cold for a race.

I’ll keep checking because I think it could be an amazing experience.

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Does anyone out there have good success with matching trips and racing?

Preparing to Sit a Lot

I like doing a hard run or workout just before a trip. I want to go into a long flight or drive, or series of day long meetings feeling that my legs deserve a rest and that this inactivity is not so bad.

On most trips (business or vacation) it is difficult to keep up the running at a high level. So my theory is to go all out on the morning of the trip or the night before, recover during the trip and then try to make it up again when I get back.

I don’t know anyone else who does this but it works for me.

This trip is 2 weeks long but the many preparations kept me from doing anything really long or hard. I ran the evening before and again a couple hours before the flight but each time was maybe half an hour. It cleared my head (which definitely needed doing)  but it didn’t do much for my legs.

Right now I am in a middle seat on a 9 hour flight with the seat back in front of me leaned way back in my face. So I can’t even roam the aisles or stretch very far.

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A lot of sitting still

I always plan lots of exercise on these trips. I pack all my running gear, skipping rope, stretch bands. I check out running routes from hotels. I plan to get up early before the heat.

But inevitably it never goes as expected and I don’t have the energy or I value my sleep. But if I could measure it in good intentions, I would be running for at least an hour every day.

But if I don’t get it in, at least I can run when I get home.

Sand, Sidewalks, and Trails – Running Lakeshore Drive

Tip: go early to beat the tourists.

Tourists swarm the beaches of Lake Okanagan from the late morning into the evening. So to get the best running experience, go early, or pick a cold day.

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I was running along the beach by 9:00 on a weekday and it was very quiet. I started at one end of the beach, running along the beach side pathway, along the pier, past the out door patios of the hotels, along the marina, and past the tennis courts to the natural treed area along the waterfront behind. On the way back I ran through some of the residential area and then along the beach again to get back to the start.

The city has done a great job with the waterfront, keeping it accessible and clean, and open to all types of users.

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I turned around at the 5 k mark making this a 10k run with absolutely no vertical and absolutely no wind.