Jantastic me!

Fruit haul

Hello! anyone there? Sorry for the silence the past week or so. I have been full of good new year intentions but clearly blogging lots hasn’t been one of them. Work has been slightly busier, I have also been making sure I see lots of friends but importantly I am back up and running pain free. Edinburgh is in my sights.

Running wise I am hoping the calf problem which ruined my December running behind me. To stay fit I have incorporated a much more rigorous stretching regime both pre and post run. I have also purchased a road bike and went spinning at London Fields Fitness again on Monday.  2014 is going to be the year when fitness and friends come together and I spent more time exploring beautiful places with friends outdoors and less time doing unhealthy things . This Sunday I am going out for a early morning 30 mile bike ride with my friend Luke and a bunch of his friends, I am pretty nervous about keeping up but I am sure it will be fun.

My running has been steady if unspectacular, the weather here in the UK has been insane. I have to admit I have generally been picking my times to run based on the weather predictions. Although I did go running at 6:46 in the morning the other week, this was unusual for me. I have to admit I really enjoyed the quietness of the run and it gave me a great chance at recording a good time on the London Fields 400 metre dash on Strava. I have been really enjoying Strava of late, it is great to see what other runners are doing in your local area. I decided to have a dash at running the stretch fast, I managed to just squeeze into the top 10 on the Strava leader board. I love knowing where challenges are on my routes and having a dash and running them fast.

London Fields 400 metre dash

Get on Strava it is free and a great way to add a bit of extra fun into your runs. 

I have also been on the hunt for great fruit as per usual, I am keeping up my consumption of around 70 bananas a week. My girlfriend and I have resorted to buying whole boxes of bananas from our local market. Although I am not sure how many more times I can carry 19 kg for bananas over a mile.

In this video check out how Kasia and I got on hunting for new fruit.

I also went to GoodGym this week, if you haven’t heard of GoodGym it is a great way to run and help make your community a better place. It is now in 4 locations in London and is growing all the time. This week we had 25 runners at Hackney GoodGym who helped clear a pathway at an allotment. On the way up I ran at the back (we make sure no one runs alone) and on the way back I led us home running leading us back at spritely pace. I love running back from GoodGym there is always a little bit of fun competition for those of us near the front.

I have signed up to the Marathon Talk’s Jantastic.me challenge with a few other GoodGym members, I love being part of a little running community of do-gooders, it is a really special thing. I only have set myself a modest Jantastic target of 3 runs a week for the next couple of weeks until I start my marathon training plan.

I am 19 weeks away and I am thinking about following either 18 or 16 week marathon plan. If you have any plan recommendations please put them in the comments below.

As always thanks for reading and keeping running, we were born to do this.

Damien x

Merry Christmas run and all

Image

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holiday. I say Merry Christmas (although I am an atheist) I suppose it is out of habit and Englishness, I like the sprit of Christmas, well the people being nice to each other side of it. Christmas is nowadays pretty corporate and far too many people judge their happiness by the gifts they receive. Having our health, family and friends is the greatest gift we can ask for and their are millions of people around the world who are not as fortunate as us. 

Despite my overall views critiques of the commercialisation of Christmas it is nice to give lovely things to the people you care about. I was lucky enough to receive a pair of Brooks Cadence Pure 2, a Nike running belt and some Nike Running tights. My new shoes are minimalist shoes, I am still transitioning to a fore/midfoot strike and hopefully the extra ankle support these shoes give me compared to my Nike Free’s will help me with this. So far they have been very comfortable and going up a half size should save me from more black toenails.

The last week has also seen me return to running after a 3 week lay off and I celebrated with a Christmas morning run. I donned my santa hat (well for the picture) then replaced by a Christmas cracker hat and set for a leisurely 5k. I sadly only spotted one other runner the opposite side of the road to me. I was expecting more people hitting the streets but I am in suburbia at the moment not Hackney. The weather was beautiful and I felt a sense of satisfaction that on the most decadent day of the year I had made time for running and being healthy. And that is kinda my life as I approach my 30th birthday health and fitness becoming increasingly a priority. There are less nights on the Kingsland Road and more early morning exercise. I can’t wait to make 2014 even more focused on adventure and fitness with friends. Did any of you make it out for a run? Did you see anyone in fancy dress?

Flexibility

Spinning
‘Flexibility’, in every sense of the word is something all runners have to master. Our running requires our constant love and attention, it demands that we work on our form, strengthen our core, be flexible with our social arrangements, stretch our muscles and push our bodies. And yet despite the occasional injuries and moments of anguish ‘running’ is a kind, benevolent hobby which gives us runners so much. For me it is the little things, the beautiful sunsets, the interaction with animals, the friendly morning greetings from dog walkers, the discovery of new areas in the place I have lived for years. And the simple satisfaction of moving my body, feeling the sweat on my brow and speeding places quickly. Put simply I love it, I am a running addict.

But December has been a hard month for my running. On the 1st December I had my disappointing Ashford Half Marathon (I finished) where I pulled my calf muscle badly. This led to a 19 day lay off from running until this Friday where I finally was able to get back out there putting in a nice steady 5.3 mile run with my friend Clare and her dog Watson. This month has required me to be flexible in order to stay on top of my fitness, with Christmas around the corner it would have been easy to slip back into bad habits.

The injury has forced me to be flexible about how I keep fit. Running is my number one sport of choice which I usually top up by commuting locally on my bike. My minimal amount of cycling wasn’t going to be enough to keep me feeling great. So I decided to go swimming again. I have to be honest I find swimming  hard work, I try to space out but I find it relatively boring but I afterwards I always feel great. I am going to try and make sure I go to the pool more regularly in 2014.

I also went spinning at London Fields Fitness Studio. My only previous spinning class was 7 years ago in David Lloyd gym and it was not an enjoyable experience, very eye of the tiger music wise. The vibe at London Fields Fitness located in a railway arch was chilled the lights were low and the instructor Manya was great. I couldn’t believe how much I was sweating. I looked up after 15 minutes and I remember thinking how the hell am I going to keep going for another 30 minutes but I did and I loved it. Everyone was sweating and smiling as they left the studio and at £10 a class it offers great value and an alternative way for me to keep fit.

Today I cycled in the pouring rain to Shoreditch to take part in a dynamic stretch class at Frame with my friend and runner Sam (she has a great running blog). I first heard about Frame on Kelsey (Running on Coffee blog). I was by far the least flexible person in the class, the instructor picked up that is was my tight hamstrings holding me back. But after yesterdays run I was feeling a slight tightness in my calf and this disappeared after the class. I think increased flexibility in my body, my  training plans and my approach to running is going to be the key for staying fit and running fast in 2014.

I am also putting a lot of time into my YouTube channel, please subscribe and give me feedback on the videos. If you want me to talk about a running/nutrition related topic just let me know.

Damien x

YouTube rehabilitation

I am incredibly frustrated at the moment. My calf is still tight and improving daily but still no running. I suspect it will be at least a week before I am able to lace up again. What I find most frustrating is the thought of losing fitness and seeing my weight gradually creep up.

To try keep my fitness up this week I am making sure I am spending time on my bike and this morning I went for a 40 minute swim. I am incredibly slow at swimming these days, everything feels slightly out of sync like a computer when it is going wrong. I am going to try and get in the pool again later in the week and I am pushing on with my stretching programme given to me by my physio.

I have also been working hard on my improving the Vegan Runner YouTube channel. Please subscribe to the channel. Here I am talking about running, cycling, making vegan recipes, discussing veganism and fitness more broadly.

These are some of my recent videos. Please share and subscribe, I really want to keep making these videos the more subscribers I more inclined I will be to keep going.

The Runners

Matan Rochlitz and Ivo Gormley on their filming equipment

Matan Rochlitz and Ivo Gormley on their filming equipment

What do you think about whilst you are running?

I am sure many of you reading this are honestly not sure. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be invited to a screening of a new short film called ‘The Runners‘. The film is made by social entrepreneur and GoodGym founder Ivo Gormley who I have been lucky to get to know this year and his friend Matan.

To create the film over the course of a year they cycled around Victoria Park in London dragging a trailer with a camera and one of them onboard. They proceeded to ask runners a whole variety of questions about their lives, why they run and what they are thinking about?

Many of us do the majority of our running on our own, once you start cranking up the milage that makes for a lot of time spent in our heads. For me I often think about the people I haven’t spoken to in a long while and start making lists in my head about what I need to do. Sometimes I just get lost in the beauty of my surroundings and I honestly don’t think about anything else. Sometimes I play out my problems in my head and when I get home I just know what I need to do. For me running is an insight into an area of my subconscious otherwise inaccessible for me. All the noise stops, whether the wind is blowing or the rain is pouring it doesn’t matter, I can just chill.

The film really made for a revealing insight into the minds of runners. Afterwards the 150 strong were treated to q&a with Greg one of the runners in the film Martin Yelling former triathlete and Marathon Talk podcast host and ‘Run Like a Girl’ author Alexandra Heminsley and the filmmakers Ivo and Matan.

The film is only 10 minutes long and free to watch. It features today on the Guardian’s running blog. Watch it I promise you will enjoy it. And perhaps the next time you lace up you will think a little bit more about what is going on in your head.

Burning fat as fuel

Recently I have been experimenting with training in a fasted state. Like most people I never know what to eat on my morning runs, I always feel tempted to have a banana smoothie or some other high energy food packed full of carbohydrates. Often I will do this and find that after around 30 mins of running I will start to receive a mild stitch in my side. Not pleasant and not the recipe for recording some quick times.

So just incase readers are not aware of ‘fasted training’. It is essentially undertaking exercise without consuming carbohydrates beforehand. The reason to do this is to get my body used to burning fat as its primary source of energy on longer runs. The idea being that I can prepare myself to run a marathon using fat as my primary fuel. Our body only has a limited amount of glycogen this is around 90 minutes for most people but an unlimited supply of one energy ‘fat’. By training in this way I am hoping I will be able to get my body to switch to primarily using fat to fuel long runs.

Like I said this is a bit of an experiment for me at the moment and tomorrow I will be doing a 9 mile run with my friend Clare again without eating. However I will take some dates with me incase I bonk if we decide to go a bit further. Actually according to Tim Van Orden who has previous been US Trail Runner of the year; you can eat carbohydrates after 30 mins of running as your body has switched over to a fat burning system.

Last week I did my first longer run in a fasted state and despite a bit of a drop half way I picked it back up and was fairly happy with my performance as it was the first time I have gone this distance since returning to running.

8 miles plus

I highly recommend checking out this video by Tim Van Orden talking about the reasons behind fasted training. He gives so much great advice here. And don’t worry when I get in from my run I will be eating plenty of carbohydrates and hydrating.

Durian Rider also recommends fasting before short/mid distances up to 21km. Two slightly different angles but both well worth watching.

I will let you know how I get on as I look for the perfect formula to help me achieve my best possible time at the Ashford Half Marathon in just over 3 weeks.

A runners journey

Stretching before the race

This is a story of a talent lost and a long slow journey to get running fast again.

As a teenager I was quick! I am not talking super quick but the quickest kid in pretty much every football team I played in. Running was just something I did whilst playing football and to a lesser extent cricket. I remember having a real ability to run 400 and 800 metres fast and PE teachers telling me I should start taking athletics seriously and I would be able to run for the county. To cut a long story short I wasn’t interested, I just wanted to chase a football around.

When I moved to London over 4 years ago I quickly realised I was piling on weight and not living a particularly healthy lifestyle. This coupled with my Dad being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease prompted me to sign up for a half marathon. At this point I couldn’t even run 5k without stopping. So I signed up to do the Royal Parks Half Marathon in 2010, I did fair bit of plodding running and definitely achieved an ok level of fitness.

Well the half marathon was a disaster, my knee was in terrible shape and I had terrible shoes and an awful running style. I dragged my arse around in 2:17, fading badly as blisters covered both of my feet. Poor preparation and injuries left me feeling crippled. I just couldn’t face running again. About 6 months later I started cycling and this replaced running as the exercise to keep myself in shape. Around this time I started trying to run again but again I was plagued with injury and couldn’t get into any sort of routine.

In February this year I decided to head out for a run. I plodded around huffing and puffing but I did 3.7 miles. At this point I decided I had to improve this situation and started going out for 4-5k runs a few times a week. Around this time I joined a great running/volunteering project called GoodGym. I found this to be a really inspiring community of likeminded people, who enjoy running and helping their community.

Sadly after 6 weeks came down with an inflamed Achilles. This felt like a disaster. A month went by and I saw the good work of the previous couple of months slip away- around this time I decided to go and see a sports physio called Helen at her clinic Fix. This was eye opening for me; it revealed how I was essentially carrying my left hand side of my body and showed me how much weaker my left hand side of my body was.

I then embarked on a slow recovery that mixed strengthening exercises with gradually starting to run again. Around this time I read a number of books including ‘Born To Run’.  After seeking advice from my physio I purchased a air of Nike Free 5.0 and started to learn to run without my Brooks moonboots. Gradually I have built my fitness back up and I am really starting to see results. I have been running again for 2 months and I am injury free (see a full blog on this here) And I am running faster than I have done in 10 years. Running in neutral/minimal shoes has worked really well for me. I love feeling the ground when I am running it has led to me developing a much stronger technique and slowly I have started to trust my body again.

Highlights in the past couple of weeks have included the GoodGym 5k race along the embankment which despite steps and dodging tourists I managed 23:35 coming 3rd overall in my race and I was the fastest Hackney runner. Then this week running 6.31 miles (just over 10k) in 46:13 followed the next day by 3.91 miles in 24:06.

However yesterday I went out for run and really struggled with an average pace of 8:15 min per mile over 3.39 miles.  I suppose that will happen sometimes. The two really pacey runs this week followed a fruit breakfast and carb light lunch with a 2 hour break before setting out for a run in late afternoon.

I am currently paying really close attention to how I perform at certain times in the day. I have also just started making fruit smoothies for breakfast. I am finding these great for ensuring I am getting enough fruit in my diet. I have found that my increased fruit intake in recent weeks has led to me feeling more hydrated than usual. Has anyone else experimented with fruit only breakfasts when training and if so what have the results been?

I am also doing my first Park Run this week and I will be delighted if I finish in the top 10.

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