Burbathlon Lives!

You may remember me talking about Burbathlon before and the unusually mild weather we’ve had this past week let me get out and give it a try again.  I decided to do live tweets with photos as I went along (though I wish I had turned on the Add Location feature).  I had written up various exercises with links in a Memo on my Blackberry so I could cut and paste the tweets; still it took up time I should have been putting into working out harder.  I don’t apologize for the fun I had, though.  I’ve marked the exercises I did on the map from Endomondo at their approximate locations.  Have a look at the descriptions below.

1.) The trail is gravel till here, but I run up the hill to get into the more forested area.  See the tweet.

2.) I did a balance beam routine down this log.  See the tweet.

3.) Our company running group uses this for hill training.   See the tweet.

4.) This pic didn’t turn out so well (maybe next time I’ll bring a real camera instead of my Blackberry), but it’s Incline Pushups against the fence.  Not the most challenging but I had done a 100 Pushups workout (Week 4, Day 1) prior to heading outside so there!  See the tweet.

5.) Next I did Single Leg Squats while holding onto the lamppost.  This area has benches and tables and little fences that I use for Box Jumps, Squats and other exercises.  Maybe next time, more.  I realized I was running long with all the tweeting and picture taking, so I started to head back from here.  See the tweet.

6.) This tree looks climbable with a good run-up and jump.  It is not, at least to me.  #FAIL.  See the tweet.

7.) The trail seems to be used by mountain bikers/BMXers.  That doesn’t stop me from jumping off or over these on foot!  See the tweet.

8.) I found a tree I could climb (it was leaning at an angle against another tree.  As any cat can tell you, the hard part is getting back down! See the tweet.

So that was a successful (albeit short and sweet) Burbathlon.  With the new snow, it’s going to be a little challenging to do these, but I hope to post more of them in the future.

By the way, this was done on the Etobicoke Creek Trail and I had the pleasure of doing a write-up for Loving the Run’s Unpaved Trail Series..

Gear Corner: Shoes

I’m going to take a minute to talk about the shoes I run in.  I enjoy running on non-paved surfaces because they seem to be gentler on my Achilles tendons (I generally wear cushioning shoes; I seem to have high arch and supinate while running -cushioning has kept most problems at bay).  I noticed a friend wore Salomon shoes that seemed ideally suited to both the road and the trail (indeed the Salomon XA PRO 3D Ultra are marketed this way).  I’m on my third pair from this series, and I’m very happy; I do 90-95% of my running in these.

For races, I have switched in the last few years to something approaching the idea of a ‘racing flat’ the Zoot Ultraspeed. Being lighter, it’s a little less weight to drag around, and they’re designed for fast transitions at T2, so they just slip on.  Without much cushioning though, I tend not to use them on longer distances, depending on how I think my feet and legs will hold up against the course.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably seeing that Barefoot running is growing in popularity.  This guy makes plenty of arguments that I think hold some water, but I am in favour of cross-training in ways that strengthen my foot and any other supporting players in the run.  So I got a pair of barefoot/minimalist shoes: the Merrell True Glove.

I bought the Merrell’s because they sponsor the Multisport Canada Triathlon Series, they were on sale, and I had concerns about those shoes that look like feet.  What if one of my toes (or other featurs of my foot) is outside the norm?  How would they fit?  I should have been more concerned about the Merrell’s.

I wore them for the first time on a trail near my cottage.  I tried to land mid-foot as is recommended by all the paleo/chi running experts, and have a forward body lean as I ran.  Some problems: people with long legs have a reason to over-stride and heel-strike: it’s the best way to run faster and use your advantage.  Taking shorter strides and having faster leg turnover is hard when your legs are longer, and the second my concentration slipped, I was heel striking again.  I also seemed to be unable to find my mid-foot, when I wasn’t heel striking, I was landing on the balls of my feet as if I was trying to do some kind of ninja-sneak run, and it was murder on my Achilles tendons (especially with all the hills in the area).  Finally, I ended up with blisters on the backs of my heels (I should have taken pictures).

I’m not willing to give up on the barefoot running (as cross-training) yet, and I’ve worn the shoes a couple of times since then.  Once was taking my son to the playground which didn’t involve much running, except when I chased him or carried him for a quick jog from here to there, and the other time was on a treadmill.

I think the treadmill is ideal for playing with the technique.  Right now it’s a little too cold for running with less/no socks and very little insulation/protection on my feet.  Furthermore, the treadmill stays at a constant incline and speed, with no bumps, twists or turns so I can focus on my technique.  Lastly, I find it so boring that I’m guaranteed not to overdo it, and build my barefoot strength slowly.


Just checking in with a few interesting links I found over the week.

Caitlin over at Healthy Tipping Point is doing a series for people looking into triathlon.  Where I did a single post in a similar vein, a whole series is that more comprehensive and awesome.  No wonder that blog is so popular.

Meanwhile, Meghann at Meals and Miles drew my attention to an awesome relay that goes from Miami to Key West; a beautiful and fun part of the world to understate things.  It looks logistically difficult to put together, and that’s before you consider the mayhem and TSA blues it would take to get me and my family to Florida.  Still, maybe it’s one for the the Race Bucket List.

Finally, this guy had to go and ruin everything I thought I was doing right in my swim training.  I’ll probably mix in his advice with what I was already doing for some Frankenstein hybrid; that’s how I roll.

Back to the Pool Part 3: Shark Fin!

Today’s pool workout:

I did 250m of warm-up, then moved into 3 sets of 100m going from easy to medium to hard pace with 30 seconds to a minute between sets.

I completed the first set in 2:15, forgot to time the second set, and finished the third set in 1:52.

Then I moved on to the technical kicking drills.  I did 6x50m of the side kick drill (described in the link).  It’s lucky I found another description of the technique as I had been putting one arm ‘in front’ of my body as in, in front of my chest last time, rather than ‘in front’ as in, the direction of travel.  If you ever find swim training advice, make sure instructions are given relative to the pool, water or your direction of travel.  Swimming is a three-dimensional exercise – ‘up’, ‘down’ and ‘in front’ don’t mean much without a frame of reference.

Doing the sets 50m at a time rather than 25m at a time was taxing on the breathing, but I liked that: I noticed that my stroke count went down most likely due to taking breaths less frequently (every 4th left-right stroke pair rather than every 3rd), so training my lungs to get by with fewer breaths might pay off.

From there I did 12×25 of the ‘Shark Fin’ drill (also described in the link).  As I brought my hand up to the goggle line (it felt more like a military salute than a shark fin, to be honest), I found myself sinking well below the surface like my friend the whale shark over here.  I think that might be the point: your body should stay near the surface even as your arm moves up and out of the water for your next ‘catch’.  If your stroke causes you to bob up and down in the water, it’s not efficient.

The kicking drills took up a lot of time, so that I only got 850m worth of swimming in the 45 minutes I could afford on the workout.  Still, one of the things I’m discovering is that they give a great core burn, especially the obliques.  I’m all for strengthening my core, which not only makes my swim more efficient/powerful but should help stave off the injuries, be they triathlon or fatherhood related.