A wonderful day for a run

The only reason I took my phone with me today was to take some photos to share. I didn’t take my GPS watch or wear my heart rate monitor.

Today I wanted to run free of expectations, goals, and self judgement.

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I threw in my luna sandals and drove to my usual start point to tackle the steep section first. There’s a few access points but this is the steepest and I like to start with this one. It’s also at one end of the hill so I can go up, along the top, and back down then along the access road to make a loop. I walked up this part and felt great so I didn’t need to pause halfway up for a breather.

The sun was getting pretty low by this point so I was greeted with it the moment I reached the top of this section.

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There was a branch over the path. This is pretty common, particularly in summer. Eucalyptus trees are well known for dropping branches when they are short on water or are otherwise stressed – don’t ever put your tent directly under one when camping! It was a pretty simple obstacle to get over though.

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I ran along the top, planning a quick half hour loop. But when I got to the next track down, I figured if just run a little more. Then when I got there, I thought that a little more wouldn’t hurt.

I stopped for a photo at an opportune spot, as I wanted to be all arty-farty and get a photo of the view and my shoes.

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by the way, that red band on my ankle is my Road ID. I don’t run or cycle or kayak or whatever without it. I’m kind of scared of finding myself a Jane Doe in hospital while Gary frantically searches for me.

Then I found I didn’t want to get up. I wasn’t tired – it’s just with the quiet, and the evening sun on my back it was perfect and just plain right to sit for a while and think of nothing.

So I did for a few minutes… Until my feet decided they wanted to run again. So I ran.

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I kept thinking “just a little further then I’ll head back. But I kept running. Then the sun started to set so I decided that was my cue to head back down.

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My planned half hour run became an hour and a half of running, hiking, and a little bit of scrambling.

It was fantastic.

P.S. I also saw some kangaroos but they were too far off to get a photo.

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Happy feet.

Nope. No penguins here. But my feet are in fact happy so the title fits.

Let me tell you a story.

Around 18 months ago when I decided to try regular running for fitness (again) I was intrigued by (and purchased) nike frees. With the promise of a “more natural” run and “designed to make your feet move the way they were supposed to” I put them on and ran my first kilometer. That was when I started at the gym, but the way, and was put on the treadmill and told to run for as long as I could without stopping.

I only just made 1km. But I was excited because the shoes on my feet felt amazing. I remember describing them to a work mate as “the best things I’ve ever put on my feet”. And it was the first time I had shoes that didn’t make my back ache unbearably with continuous running.

Gary runs barefoot. He always has. I didn’t feel ready to take that step though and spent some time in my frees before ordering a pair of vibrams.

These babies were my second revelation.

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They let my feet move so I could run, and so I could grip while scrambling over boulders. I wore them in rain and mud and dust and inside a freezing underground river while caving.

I got two models, the basic KSO version for general everything use and the Bikilas, specifically for running on roads and paths.

And it was great. The only issue was my lack of control on the downhills, resulting in a stress fracture. (I put that down to hills as I only injured my ankle when I added hill running to my regime. And running down a steep hill on concrete probably isn’t the best idea.)

But come summer, my feet started getting unbearably hot in my vibrams. Hot and sweaty and uncomfortable.

That’s where Barefoot Ted comes in. I’d say most of the barefoot/minimalist community have heard of this guy, because we’ve all read “born to run”. Anyway, he’s been championing the barefoot movement for a while and now has his own company selling huraches, or running sandals. They are called Luna Sandals.

I brought a pair.

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They are the “Mono” version, the all rounder for roads and trails. With a MGT footbed instead of leather they’re also vegan – bonus points for that. I’ve pretty much worn them everywhere except work for the past week and they are definitely my third revelation when it comes to footwear.

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my running partners seem to like them too. Especially Ollie. He always tries to chew on the buckles when I step out the door.

Verdict so far: they’re light, and airy so they don’t overheat. They’re flexible but offer some cushion – more than the KSOs do.

It took me a little bit to get the straps adjusted correctly so the heel doesn’t slip out but all in all I love them. I took them out for a hill climb (rocky dirt track) and they preformed magnificently.

I also went for a run on Friday and to be honest, it wasn’t fantastic. But I think that’s more to do with the fact that all I had to eat that day was a banana (breakfast), half and sushi roll (lunch) and a bag of salt and vinegar chips. There were moments in that run when I felt amazing, and my feet felt great for the whole time.

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Reasons the Luna sandals are so great:

– no more overheated foot.
– easy to get on and off (so much quicker than vibrams. Which means less time stopped if I want to take them off mid run for a sprint across a footy oval or something)
– flexible
– they aren’t constrictive so there is room for your toes to do their thing.
– vegan
– maybe it’s just me but I like having dusty feet. Makes me feel like I’ve been out in the world.
– they feel free.
– relatively cheap, if you order online. Even the additional $20 shipping fee from the luna site meant they were significantly cheaper then buying them from the one Aussie outlet I could find, and I’d still have to buy online and pay a postage fee from the Aussie shop!
– I am more aware of my posture and form than when wearing frees or traditional shoes.
– they make me feel good.

Downside:
– when I put my (fairly rigid) hockey shoes on they feel weird because I’m now used to vibrams, sandals and bare feet.

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My feet feel free and happy. I am starting to really enjoy running again.

Struggling to run..

I wanted to write a very quick post to explain why I haven’t been posting about running much lately.

1) my fitness has fallen, having taken a break to allow my ankle stress fracture to heal fully. This has led to gaining back some (but definitely not all!) of the weight I loss through running. This weight gain was in spite of cycling and swimming. Apparently running is the more effective form of exercise for me. This means that I’m back to slogging through 5km runs at the moment. I’m also still wearing an ankle brace for extra support.

2) it’s been ridiculously hot here. We’ve had 2 week long stints over 40
degrees C in the past three weeks. We are due for some more 42 days soon as well. I struggle in the heat, and resorted to paying $12.50 just to use the treadmill for half an hour at the gym at one point. I don’t want to make excuses however my body doesn’t function well in the heat and I sweat heaps so it’s easy to get dehydrated and nauseas/dizzy. Give me cold and rain and fog anyway.

3) shoes are an issue for me right now. I prefer my vibram bikilas but they make my feet unbearably hot in this weather. And my nike frees aren’t quite as bad… But they aren’t the same as running in my vibrams either. I know this probably seems a bit like “first world problems” but being uncomfortable is stopping me from wanting to run or enjoying it while I run. I’ve got some Luna running sandals coming which should solve the overheating problem. Running totally barefoot isn’t an option because the footpath is usually too hot and drunken idiots regularly smash glass along the main road to my house.

So really, my runs at the moment can be summed up as: hot, uncomfortable, very sweaty, and difficult. So not really worth writing about. I do know things will improve as the month goes on though.

Things that make me happy: Saturday.

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In yoga, I spend a lot of time contemplating my feet and my legs. And I’ve come to really appreciate them. I like my legs. I like my feet. I like what they can do, and the places they’ve taken me to – hiking the Himalayas, ice climbing in New Zealand, snowshoe hiking, jumping off things and jumping in puddles.

The feeling of grass or mud underfoot.

The sheer joy of running and feeling the road pass underneath.

My feet, and where they have taken me, makes me happy.

366 marathons back to back

This couple are awesome.

watch the story here

They are an elderly couple. She is a cancer survivor. They have just finished a world record – running around Australia and completing 366 marathons back to back. That’s a marathon a day for just over a year. They’ve had no rest days and have even had to deal with flood, bushfires, and a cyclone.

What makes it even more awesome is that they have done it on a raw vegan diet and with minimalist shoes (looks like vibrams all the way!).

No injuries. No rest days. So much win.

Inspiring!

Their website about what they have done over the past year is here

Running, random stir fry, and other things.

Q) what does Nicole do if she’s got a day off and it’s raining?

A) takes the dog for a run.

I love running in the rain. It’s refreshing, there’s puddles to splash in and there’s not too many other people out and about on foot (which also means no other dogs to distract my dog).

Plus, all the people driving their cars about think “why is this crazy person running in the rain?” .

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pic source, and tips for running in the rain

I think I’ve always enjoyed rain. I love the sound of it. I love puddles. Actually, I think it’s the fact that it’s water. I love water. I love being in it, on it, or under it.

This run was better than the last couple I have done. I ran a couple of short runs after the half marathon, but my ankle started hurting again. I think I need to work more on strengthening it because today I ran with the brace back on my ankle and it seems to be ok.

Zephyr seemed pretty happy about it too, until about halfway through. I think she was fully soaked through by that point and wanted to go home.

Last night I made this:

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I couldn’t decide what to make for dinner, so I threw some quinoa in the rice cooker and then raided the fridge and garden. I ended up with what appeared to be good candidates for a stir fry (carrot, celery, zucchini, sweet potato, mushrooms, kale, basil). I tossed it all together and added some veggie balls (kind of like fish balls but vegan – from the Global Groceries place nearby) and cashews. Gary got some sprouts for me and they went in at the last minute.

There was also onion and some pickled garlic – just for something different – thrown in.

The sauce was a bit of soy sauce, Kekap manis, and chili sauce.

I threw the quinoa in once cooked and it was delicious!

I also went Christmas shopping yesterday. I made the dangerous move of going into a bookstore and while I did find some presents I also found this beast of a book:

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An 800 page hardcover collection entitled “Dangerous Women”, focussing on strong female characters and including some of my favorite authors? Yes please. There is a real possibility I may spend my entire time on leave reading and re-reading this book.

I also found this:

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I’m going to use it as a training planner and log for next year. Garmin connect logs my runs, but I want to have everything in a book so it’s all there – runs, cycling, swimming, yoga, hockey, whatever. I couldn’t pass up such a beautiful diary!

(And yes, I did actually buy things for other people!)

Now that I’m cooling down from my run I’m going to do some stretching, have some breakfast, and get on with the day.

Verdict: I’m not broken. Also spinach pesto is delicious.

I’m sore.

Very sore.

But my legs work. I started a new one week challenge this week. I drove to work on Monday and left my car there (I have use of a fleet car) and walked -slowly- home. I rode to work this morning, knowing that firstly, it would be painful, and secondly, active recovery is always a good option.

My challenge for the week is a no-car challenge. I’m using my car at work only and biking or walking everywhere. This really isn’t difficult since I’m only a few kms from shops and friends, but I figure a bit of light exercise won’t hurt me this week since I’ll be resting and recovering from the weekend.

My thighs hurt the most. It’s the front of my thighs in particular, and not my ankle or my calves. My backs a little sore too but nothing drastic.

I’m trying to feed my body good food at the moment, with the exception of today’s lunch chips because I ran out of time and couldn’t decide what to eat.

Last night was spinach and basil pesto on wholemeal spaghetti.

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not the greatest photo

I didn’t measure, but I threw some fresh garlic, fresh picked basil (mmmm!), baby spinach, cashews, salt and olive oil together in the food processor and added bits and pieces until it tasted good. Because of the spinach it had a milder flavour than my normal basil pesto, but it was pretty good. I also threw in some hemp seeds, for the lovely omega 3s!

To serve, I cooked the pasta, drained it and then tossed the pesto through. I topped it with some olives and sun dried tomatoes as well as “super sprinkles”. Super sprinkles are a Parmesan replacement, but Gary didn’t want to call it “fake Parmesan” so super sprinkles it is! I make it from roughly equal parts pine nuts and nutritional yeast, with a twist or two of the salt grinder, and then whizz it in the food processor. Some recipes say to put it in the oven to dry it out but I don’t worry about it.

This is what it looked like in the end (again I was a little slack on the presentation/photographing!):

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Now, before I get murdered by pesto purists, I know this isn’t a traditional pesto. My favorite pesto is actually a fully traditional basil pesto smashed in my mortar and pestle because nothing has ever compared to that flavour. However, this is a delicious and highly nutritious way to get some greens into you!

As a side note, I made sure to have an orange afterwards because the vitamin C aids absorption of the iron from the spinach.

Tonight I’m planning BBQ tempeh and some grilled veggies with a spinach based side salad. Can’t seem to get enough spinach lately!

Mmmmmmmmmmm