Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day: how hard are you working on your running?

It is Labor Day today and, while many are enjoying the outdoors and camping for this last long summer weekend, the family is enjoying a quiet time at home to catch-up with... work. No race, just two nice evenings with friends, a movie night with a French movie (Itinéraire d'un enfant gâté from Claude Lelouch with Jean-Paul Belmondo) and a bit of running before taking the week leading to Rio del Lago off.

I wrote my last post on the plane to Austin and did not run for the three days over there. My flight out of Austin was 2-hour late because of a mechanical problem and I ended up in SFO at 1 AM instead of SJC (San Jose) at 10 PM. My first conference call on Friday morning was at 6:30 AM, leaving me with just 4 hours of sleep so I got back to bed for 90 more minutes after my second call and before two others...

As I'm supposed to be tapering before the 100-mile race next week, I stayed in the neighborhood this weekend for some flat, albeit fast, miles. Friday: 12.5 miles @ 6:22 min/mile, Saturday: 9.3 miles @ 6:45, Sunday: 6.2 miles @ 6:57 and this Monday: 9.3 miles @ 6:17. I promise, I will be slower next week on the 100-mile... ;-)

While I was running and pushing harder today, I thought about the "work" aspect of my running, this hobby I call my second job. Like some people say: "No pain, no gain..." which I believe to be true if you want to progress in anything. Not necessarily physical pain, but at least diligent efforts to push the envelope and get you out of your comfort zone. Anyway, I hope that what ever you are up to, you too were able to use this quiet time to "work" on your passion or hobby on this Labor Day. If you did not have to actually work your first job today...

This weekend I also added a dashboard to my running log to track my progress against special milestones. Doing so, I discovered that, today, I ran my 30,000 th kilometer in Brooks shoes. I remember when I celebrated my 10,000 miles in Brooks back in 2007, it is going to be soon 2,000 miles. I am also 96.7% of having 24,902 miles which is the circumference of the Earth at the equator line, an imaginary trip around the World in 2,500 or so stages. Stay tuned for this other celebration! Next week will be my 50 th ultra race, so this other milestone will come first.

Now, guess what we talked about at my friends' on Saturday night? Yes, Black Mountain again (see last week's post)! The two families we had dinner with are familiar with the trails in Rancho San Antonio and, after hearing me praising the 306-degree views from the top of Black Mountain, they now want to extend their run or hike to this newly popular place!

Last but not least, I have a colleague who asked me some running-related questions on Friday night so I thought I'd share the reply with all of you. Here you are for a mini Q&A session, hope it helps. And talk to you after Rio del Lago then. Have a good short week in the meantime!

Q: I see in your pictures that you seem to wear compression shorts... do they help you? what do you like about them? Have you tried compression socks, and if so, what's your experience?

Indeed, I'm using long shorts such as this one from Brooks: Equilibrium CoRe short. But I actually take a couple of sizes up because it's not for the compression they offer, it's to avoid chaffing between the legs/thighs on long runs.

As for compression socks, I never used them except on long flights to avoid blood clots. I find them not looking nice and, given the number of miles I do, they would be expensive (wear inside the shoes), unless you use only leg compression sleeves. That being said, I heard good things about them and there are a few elites wearing them now.

Q: What is your nutrition intake regimen on your long runs... do you stick with gels, or do you expand into more solid foods?

It depends how long is the long run. Under 20 miles, I may use one gel (GU) especially if it's hilly. For longer runs (~30 miles), I may take with me a Snickers bar and a couple of GUs in case. For even longer runs, I would hope to find a place to buy some food such as banana, chips and/or pastries. And, of course, on races, I use what aid stations offer, which is usually a lot of variety in North California (fruits, cookies, brownies, soup, potato and salt, chips, ...).

Q: What's your strategy on electrolyte replacement/management (nothing/powders/tablets/salt stick)?

I go with Gu2O, and more specifically with the Lemon Lime flavor which means that I need to carry with me ziplocks with enough powder on long races where I don't have a crew, as different flavors or brands are usually offered at aid station. I'm also a big fan of S!Caps from Succeed! taking at least one per hour, if not one every 30 minutes in hot weather during races.

Depending on the temperature and elevation, I'm drinking a bottle of 16oz of GU2O every 15 to 10 miles. And about the same of water, although I don't track my consumption too precisely.

The other important finding in this area for me has been Vespa ( It actually addresses both the drink and food aspects as this drinks will accelerate your metabolism to transform your own body fat into energy. It comes from Japan where they have the top ultra runners on the planet (at least on road) and it works for many of us here. By the way, you don't even need a lot of body fat for Vespa to work! ;-)

Q: Do you have any good Core Strengthening resources you might recommend? I find lots of individual exercises, but I'm looking for a complete routine/flow/sequence for consistency.

I must admit that Core Strengthening is not my forte despite all the recognized benefits. I tend to only work on my Core when I get more time out of running from tapering or healing from injury, both being infrequent actually. Same for yoga, I feel I don't have time, but it's more a matter of priority of course. Agnès is the opposite, and Core Strengthening helped us alleviate the hip pain for many years. In particular she is an avid adept of Pilates which she practices at the Y on the Reformer.

Back to Core Strengthening, and to show you that I'm a big believer, I bought two books a few year ago which I recommend: Core Performance and Core Performance Endurance from Mark Verstegen and Pete Williams. Nice visuals and clear instructions, great presentation on glossy paper, and I particularly like the summary workouts at the end of the book (what you are looking for). If only one, take the second book.

No comments: