My Shoe collection

All my shoes are made by VivoBarefoot. They say we are in the second barefoot revolution. The first revolution took place a number of years ago when minimalist and barefoot shoe brands started gaining popularity, but the revolution seemed to end in lawsuits against shoe makers and injured runners. We are now in the 2nd barefoot revolution as minimalist shoe brands are again gaining popularity, only this time there is a greater level of education among the wearers. Runners sustained injuries the first time around mostly because of a lack of education and small bit of arrogance. Runners don’t want to be told that a lifetime of wearing an inch of rubber beneath your feet has warped your natural stride into an unnatural one. In contrast, todays barefoot runners seek advice from professional running coaches before running in minimalist runners. I recommend these coaches.

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My shoe collection

Reading up on the subject of running is likely to lead you to a large and confusing array of articles and publications that will range from telling you that you’ll be running ultra-marathons with ease the day after you go barefoot, to the other extreme that you’ll lose the ability to ever run again such is the destructive force of barefoot running. Articles like this one make me want to steer clear of too much reading. The best thing you can do is to try yourself.

I’m absolutely not a running coach but I can tell you the benefits I’ve experienced after I switched my running and everyday footwear to Vivo shoes. This is of course anecdotal and applies to me, I can’t speak for others:

  • increased toe dexterity – my toes move much more than before
  • better proprioception through my feet – I didn’t notice this until a day when I had to wear “normal” shoes and the lack of feedback I was getting from my feet about the surface I was on was unnerving
  • Stronger soles – the soles of my feet are just tougher
  • No more knee pain – I used to be immobile on the coach the day after a race. I’ve never experienced this since I started wearing minimalist runners.

I do think the term “barefoot” is off-putting and misleading. As you can see from the photo, I’m anything but barefoot, I have 5 pairs of shoes. I don’t walk around outside in my bare feet, even in my house I usually wear socks. What I am doing is wearing shoes designed around the shape and movement patterns of the human foot, shoes that have a wide toe box, and a thin, flat sole. I’m so pleased with my Vivo’s, I even invested a small amount with them when they were crowdfunding, see this article.

 

 

Another Blog Anniversary

October sees me passing from my 2nd to my 3rd year of blogging, which WordPress reminded me of with an anniversary badge, thanks.

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WordPress Anniversary

I’ve posted 38 blogs across two years, not enough to consider myself a hard-core blogger, but just enough to keep the creative juices flowing, keep me entertained, and hopefully entertain/inform some readers. My first blog post was about running. My first anniversary blog post  was a follow up to that post, and in keeping with the trend, this second anniversary post will follow up on both.

I was disappointed that between October 2014 and October 2015 I added 329miles to my Nike+ total, less than a mile a day. To remedy this perceived shortage of distance, I said I’d have to plan ahead and sign up for more races, as nothing motivates like a goal, a race day deadline for which I’d have to put in the miles beforehand in order to be fit and ready. Planning ahead was key! Ultimately, I didn’t plan ahead or sign up for many races. In the 12 months that have passed, I’ve run only two half-marathons, the Glen t0 Glen Half-Marathon and the Disneyland Paris Half-Marathon.  So I didn’t follow my own advice on that one. What I did do was stay consistent in my training. I still try to run 3 times a week, two timed runs of 30 minutes each and one distance run. In the last 12 months I’ve covered 497 miles, bringing my total to 1,826 miles. Thats over a mile a day, and 168 miles more than I had completed the previous year. So while long term planning failed me and I didn’t sign up for or run many races, short term week-to-week planning and consistency was my friend and I ran more year on year without signing up for races. I’m looking forward to another year of blogging, and another 497+ miles of running.

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Nike+

Disneyland Paris Race Review

On Sunday the 25th of September I ran the inaugural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon. I can’t review the race without mentioning the theme parks. I’m sure local people can participate in this race without visiting Disneyland, but for me, part of the joy of this race is combining it with a long weekend visit to Disneyland Paris, Disney Studios, and Disney Village. This is a race review, but needless to say, I had a great time in the parks, on the rides, in the restaurants, shops, and everywhere else.

The race itself was easy to sign up for online. To complete the registration I needed a doctors cert saying I was healthy enough to run, which was a first for me but apparently its pretty standard for France. Race bibs and commemorative shirts were available for collection throughout the weekend at the RunDisney Health Expo. From sign up to bib collection is was a smooth operation. Security on race day was tight, bag and people scanners, like those at an airport, had to be passed through to get to the starting line. The race was due to start at 7am but there was a 10 minute delay “for our security”. The beginning of the race brought us through Disney Studios, followed by Disneyland, which combined took about 30minutes, and then onwards to the French countryside and nearby towns until we made our way back through Disney Village and the finish line.

The parks are fun to run through, the course is flat, lots of Disney character photo points, and once outside the parks there are bands playing music spread every few kilometers for entertainment and lots of water stations. I ran the race in 2 hours, 8 minutes, and 43 seconds, finishing 2,240th out of roughly 11,000 runners. My only complaint after this amazing weekend is that there was no notifications from Disney about race times and no information about when photos will be released, not on the official race website, or the RunDisney facebook page, and no response to the many runners who posted requesting information. Disney finally posted the results on the 29th, 4 days after the event. Overall, this is a great race and one I hope I can do again sometime in the future.

Below is a 4 minute video of some the best bits.

Race Review: Wild Air Run

On Sunday the 14th of August I took part in the Wild Air Run in Marlay Park. I hadn’t heard about this race until Saturday the 13th, but it looked fun so I signed up on a days notice. Luckily there were still places available for the 10am wave.

Signing up for this race on short notice was not a problem because its a race for fun. Its a 5km race, which is an achievable distance for most people to run, and its not timed so if you wanted to walk a portion of it, or all of it, thats fine. At some of the obstacles you had to queue to get in/on them so this was one 5km race where personal bests weren’t going to be beaten, a competitive attitude was best left at the starting line.

I thought it was great just running around for the fun of it, a reminder that fitness need not be a chore all the time.The course was made up of 10 inflatable obstacles, each one with a race official armed with a water gun. For a first time race it was organised very well. I signed up online, downloaded my e-ticket, and collected my race number on the day, all without a hitch. The only problem was of my own making when my Go-Pro stopped working. I would definitely like to see more novelty races like these, which inject a bit of fun into running, in the future.  Some photos of the day and a video of (some) of the obstacles below.

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Glendalough Glen to Glen half-marathon

I took part in the Glen to Glen half-marathon on May 28th. It was the inaugural Glendalough half-marathon and accompanying marathon. Its been nearly a year since I last took part in a race, the Viking Quarter Marathon, and it was good to get out again in a racing environment.

For an inaugural race, it was organised extremely well. Multiple information emails were sent prior to the race, and registration and race number collection were easy. The race started 5 minutes late (I’ve seen worse), and teas, coffees and a generous amount of baked treats were available at the end. For a first time race, organised by a local running club, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the finishers medal, which is a great addition to any collection.

Glendalough is a great location for a race. The scenery is stunning and the only sounds are birds, sheep, rivers, and runners on pavement. Its amazing that such an idyllic county location is only a 40 minute drive from Dublin city (60 minutes if you get stuck driving behind cyclists).

I found it to be a punishing, but enjoyable race. I felt like the run up the mountain towards the top of the waterfall would never end, add to that the scorching sunshine and it felt like a very long, very grueling race. My official race time wass 2 hours, 4 minutes, and 47 seconds. I’m pleased with that time considering how tough I found the course. Maybe I’d have gotten under 2 hours had I not stopped for some photo opportunities. Photo taking may have slowed me down, but it would be a shame not to stop and take in the scenery, after all, its not all about the time, its about the enjoyment. Photos below 🙂

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View of the lake in Glendalough, about 5 minutes into the race
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The Waterfall
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View of the Glen
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Worlds best water station run by 3 generations of the same family, containing water, water melon, oranges, apples, wine gums and jelly babies
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Bit worse for wear, but job done!

New Year’s Resolution

My New Year’s resolution, to keep moving. I went for my first run of 2016 today in the Phoenix Park. The phoenix seems an appropriate metaphor, a new you emerging from the ashes of the old.

I quit the gym a few years ago and decided to focus instead on movement, bodyweight exercises, and running. Why? Because I realised that even with all my gym sessions, I still lived a mostly sedentary lifestyle. The main culprits behind my (and everyones) lack of movement include: reduced amount of active human transport (walking, cycling), increased sedentary leisure pursuits at home (television and computer based activities) and increased amounts of seated desk based office work.

The Lancet published a series of papers based on national statistics from around the world which stated that globally, 40% of individuals with cardiovascular disease, diabetes or cancer, failed to achieve the minimum recommendations for health of 150mins/week of moderate-intensity physical activity. In high income countries in Europe and North America, this figure rose to 70%.

My goal is to maintain where I’m at now, and to try and increase the types of complexity of the movements I do. I’m a million miles away from the abilities of the people that inspired my current training, Rene Borg, Jason Kehoe, and Ido Portal, but my advice is to focus more on the process, not the end goals. If you stick to the process, you’ll achieve your goals eventually, but if you set yourself goals within unrealistic timeframes, it can be disheartening if you miss them. Set yourself some 2016 goals, create a process to achieve them, and get to work.

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Phoenix Park

 

 

 

One Year of Blogging

WordPress has informed me that I’ve been blogging for one year, and rewarded me with the badge below. I started my blog as a creative outlet, I find that writing is good for the soul and a nice break from my normal routine. Fitness is a passion of mine so thats the theme I picked. I’m not a master of any particular type of fitness so I can’t say for sure that my blog has been of any use to anyone other than myself, but hopefully at least one person has found a nugget of information that has been helpful.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 08.37.37My first blog post (which you can read by clicking here) was about running, because I had just reached 1,000 miles on the Nike Plus App. I thought it would be fun to have an update on that. In the year that has past, I’ve run a further 329 miles.

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The pessimist in me says thats less than a mile a day, which is disappointing, but the optimist in me says its the same as running 12 marathons in as many months. I try to run at least 3 times a week, two timed runs of 30 minutes each and one distance run. I hope to improve upon the last 12 months and run further than 329 miles between now and October 2016. The best way to do this is to plan ahead and sign up for some races, nothing motivates like a goal. I didn’t sign up for many races over the last 12 months, and often, when I discovered races I wanted to do, they were too close which didn’t allow enough time for me to train appropriately. My new plan is to find some races over the next 12 months that interest me, sign up for them early, and train towards them. How does the saying go, “failing to plan, is planning to fail” – its as true in fitness as in anything else.

Waterford Viking Quarter Marathon

On June 27th I ran the Waterford Viking Quarter Marathon. I had to travel to get to Waterford so it was good that race number collection went on until 9pm the night before the race. There was lots of race staff at race number collection, lots of staff the next day for bag drop, and even a shuttle bus back to the city centre once the race was over. A very well organised race.

The route was an enjoyable one, starting in the Mall between the Medieval Museum and the House of Waterford Crystal. The Full, Half, and Quarter Marathon runners all started together and followed the same route at the beginning, taking in lots of narrow side streets, the tower, the waterfront, its an enjoyable and scenic route. The saddest part was when the course split, with Full and Half Marathon runners going right, and Quarter runners going left. How I wish I didn’t have to go left, I would have liked to run the Half Marathon, but I only recently found out about this race and I didn’t have the time to reach Half Marathon level conditioning.

This race ended really well, with a lap of the track at the Waterford Regional Sports Centre. And the medal is one of the coolest I’ve gotten. I ran the race in 58 mins and 32 seconds, not too fast, but an enjoyable pace throughout, and challenging at times up the hills and in the heat. Next year I’ll plan my races a bit better, and maybe come back and run the Half Marathon. If you’re looking for good races to do in Ireland, this is one of them.

Race Finish
Race Finish

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