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.

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

Training run 8kms

So lotta and I did our first training run together. It wasn’t a good one. I woke up early this morning (6am) for yoga after a somewhat unsettled night. Gary’s alarms start at 5:15 and go for half an hour because he doesn’t wake up straight away. Unfortunately I do. It’s usually ok but having had a tossing/turning night didn’t help.

I felt tired at yoga. I felt tired all day. And I felt tired when I ran. I was also dealing with an upset stomach. We did 8kms and it was a struggle, mostly due to fatigue and a few stitches and a very welcome public toilet break.

And my ankle flared up again. It doesn’t girth when I run, but it does hurt when I stop. I’ve started questioning if I have the time to build up slowly enough to run the half marathon in my vibrams. I’m going to switch out my nike frees as needed and see how things go.

Apart from that it was great. Beautiful route, through the wetlands lagoons. Apparently it’s a popular running route as we met several runners. There was also one guy who lapped us around the lagoon, shirtless and making a joke about sneaking up on us before zooming off.

We have a 10km scheduled for Friday. I’m not sure how I will go with my ankle but I have a few things to try between now and then.

When I got home I finished setting up our fundraising page.

http://sussanwomensfunrun2013.gofundraise.com.au/page/breastfootforwards

Feel free to donate if you wish 😀

Then I cooked some dinner. I used these guys as well.

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laundry mushrooms! These have been growing in a mushroom kit we’ve had in the laundry cupboard

I threw some quinoa, stock, carrots, broccoli, and corn into the rice cooker with some soy sauce, ginger and garlic powder (best idea ever to cook everything in it!) I let it cook while I had a shower. Then I sautéed some kale and snow peas from the garden and tossed that through the cooked quinoa/veg mix.

Next I quickly sautéed the chopped mushrooms in vegan butter and crushed garlic. Throw the mushrooms on top and take a dodgy photo and there you go. Protein rich, full of healthy fresh home grown food. Perfect for a post run dinner.

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challenge accepted

Last week I started running with my sister in law Lotta (you can read her swedish language blog here). We went on a couple of runs, and although we had a slight setback of me leaving work late on friday, it was very enjoyable.

I confessed a growing ambition of mine – to set another challenge for myself, with a particular distance in mind.

She agreed to do this challenge with me, and so I have signed the both of us up for a half marathon. In 9 weeks time. On my birthday weekend. For my 27th birthday I will be running 21kms, and there will be no drinking until the weekend after.

It’s big, but I think it’s achievable. I have no set time I want to beat – although a rough estimate would place me at about 2.5 hours ish. I haven’t run further than 10kms yet though so time will tell. I’ve been researching a few training programs, and while a lot are longer than 9 weeks, there’s also quite a few that are 9 weeks or shorter.

At the moment the plan for each week is to run once solo, twice together, with a long run on a friday night. I will also probably do an off road walk/run on the weekend as well, although this will be a shorter distance and focus more on hill work. I’m trying to do my monday runs in the morning as I don’t usually feel great running in the morning but I need to train my body to accept it as the race starts at 7:30am.

I’m super excited. And also a bit nervous. It will be a good test of my vegan minimalist running thing as well – can I build to a half marathon distance completely plant based and wearing shoes with no supports? This morning’s run was in my nike frees – I haven’t run in them for months, however my ankle was a little iffy so I wanted to give it just a tiny bit more rest. I will be back to my Vibram Bikilas for the wednesday run this week. I really had to focus on form to avoid going back to a heel strike (which makes my back ache something shocking). But I got there.

So, I should probably tell you about the race. It’s the Sussan Women’s Fun Run and it is a women’s only run in support of Breast Cancer Network Australia. Much as I might disagree with womens only sporting events, this is for a good cause and it’s good timing. My birthday is on the 6th of December. This run is on 8th December, which gives us 9 weeks and will let me achieve something for my birthday.

As a final note, I think I’m going to have to get a little more organised with my food. running at night means I always end up cooking late. I’m thinking that my slow cooker needs to be used more, so when I get home there’s a pot of chili, lentils, curry or risotto waiting for me. I’m also thinking a few frozen meals and some salads in the fridge are going to have to happen.

Anyhow, here’s a few running motivation images that make me smile. I like to keep a sense of humor about these things.

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I plan to keep everyone updated about our training – and if there’s any tips about how to go from 3 x 6-7 km weekly runs to a half marathon distance on a vegan diet in 9 weeks, let me know!

Running with colours

Haha now that I’ve got people with my silly title, I’m going to talk about my run tonight, and the super colourful stirfry I made for dinner (see, that’s how I came up with the title).

I ran tonight for 7kms. I’m pushing my regular runs past 5kms now. I’m also looking for hills and trying to mix up my routes now that the sun is gracing us with its presence for a little longer each day. Today it was a run up to Federation hill, up the hill and along the top, then back down. As it’s very steep I walk the up and down sections but I hope that one day I will be able to run the whole section. At this point I was up to 4kms and I still felt pretty good so I ran up and over another hill to get a few extra kms in.

My biggest issue at the moment is my shoes. I have been running in Vibrams for a while now, getting close to a year. I originally ordered KSO’s. I loved them and they felt like a revelation when I put them on.

But I had a few issues with hotspots on my big toes in particular. They weren’t quite blisters but they were painful. At first I thought it might be an issue of form, however I tried my best to adjust and it didn’t seem to help.

I believe I may have solved it. With my first pair I wasn’t aware of how snug they needed to be. I have since brought a pair of the Bikila model in the same size (for running longer distances on the road). They are much more snug, so my foot doesn’t slide as much in them. And all of a sudden, no hotspots! Turns out I ordered a women’s size and I was sent the equivalent men’s size, which is wider and a little bigger so doesn’t stay in one place on my foot. I worked this out far too late to send them back, by the way.

I love my KSO’s for running/hiking/scrambling on tracks and trails, and prefer to use them rather than my Bikilas when I’m off road. Now that it’s coming back into summer and the longer days, I’m keen to get off the road. So I’m thinking that I need to order a new pair, in the right size so I can keep running connected for longer and longer.

My veggie garden rewarded me when I got home. I went out the back and picked these:

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Our first head of broccoli, snow peas, kale and spring onion.

I added some tofu, carrots, red cabbage, garlic and bean sprouts and ended up with this:

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I’m aware that the photo is off centre, but I wanted to focus on the kale because it looks amazing!

The things I love about stirfries are as follows:
-once everything is chopped, dinner is ready in 10 minutes.
– everything is only lightly cooked so it’s fresh looking and tasting – so colourful and still crunchy.
-if it’s vegan it’s even easier – just throw in some tofu, tempeh, etc for some protein and you’re done.
– you can literally throw a bunch of veggies together in a wok with some sauce and have a delicious, fresh, healthy meal. What’s not to love?

And now, to tie everything together is a quote I remember from a presentation by Scott Jurek (vegan ultramarathon badass) I watched on YouTube. I won’t be able to quote it word for word, but he was discussing nutrition and getting right. Essentially he was talking about the fact that vegan nutrition doesn’t have to be difficult. Eating a wide variety of food and you will get a wide variety of nutrients and cover everything.

To sum it up, he said the aim was to “eat the rainbow”. And I think I’ve done that tonight.