DIARY: Random Learnings

"Can I play with Madness" was always one of my favourite Iron Maiden songs and while the prophet in the song provides some cryptic answers, the answer for me is simply "yes".

After having devoured "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall this morning, I had a great anarchic day of tapering. Coming home I was hammered so took a snooze before doing a short bare-chested hill run in the rain and the fog while practicing the superfast "180 steps per minute" cadence of the barefoot runners.

Coming home I did my new mandatory gravel walk in bare feet and extended it a bit as my feet are already getting used to it; I may be running on the gravel within long. Back in the house it was time for some muesli and some stretches before torturing the ghost of my plantar fasciitis with a golf ball. The injury is stone dead and my new strong feet plan to keep it in the grave. The last thing you want in life is Undead Plantar Fasciitis.

Stretches were next and there doesn't seem to be any sore spots before Snowdon, so happy days. I couldn't decide what to do next, so picked up a copy of the August Runner's World, flipped up on a page and saw a Japanese work-out called "Tabatha"which means doing any 8 exercises for 20 seconds with 10 second rests.

I picked the first eight that came to mind: Star jumps, push-ups, bar dips, squat jumps, crunches, dumbbell curls (on 1 leg), medicine ball goodmornings and box jumps. This workout takes 4 minutes and if done 5 times a week apparently increases anaerobic capacity 3 times as much as 5 sessions of 60-minute slow runs if done for six weeks. It also increases VO2 max by 14% compared to 0% for the slow runs. I'd like to see the study, but for the moment, I didn't care. It seemed like a great carefree and easy way to get exercise in whenever you don't want a full weight session or feel to knackered or lazy to do one. So Tabatha will be part of my regime
for now, that's for sure.

After that it was time for a bit of reading, I found Scott Jurek's, the world's leading ultra-marathoner's (yep its not Deano), website: http://www.scottjurek.com/training.php. Scott seems a pretty sound guy by all accounts and there are some interesting observations there but I owe his blog a deep-dive.

I also find the website of Caballo Blanco, the mysterious runner from "Born to Run" who lives among the Raramuri (Tarahumara) Indians and the photos are well worth checking out: http://allwedoisrun.com/tarahumara.htm

The race described in the book now seems to take place every year. It was almost surreal to see the photos and the websites as the book describes a world so mythical and so extraordinary that its hard to imagine that it all happened. As mountain runners, we can be part of this magical world of lunatics and that's a very exciting thought.

Evolution Running
Before ChiRunning and POSE invented their methodologies for correcting foot strikes and before the Alexander Technique was provided as another alternative, "Evolution Running" was pioneered by Ken Mierke, another character in "Born to Run".

There's a lot of good to be said about all techniques. The only negative is some people may find ChiRunning a tad to "holistic" while POSE can be a bit dogmatic in their approach to their own theory (always something that rings alarm bells for the scientific).

Evolution Running seems very easy to access and the DVD they offer is the real kicker: I watched some samples online and its really useful. So I'll order this in early August and start taking personal "Evoluation Running" sessions in the house and hopefully further improve my energy-efficiency and reduce injury-risk. It'll be fun to learn to run anew in any case.

You can see it for yourself here: http://www.evolutionrunning.com/index_files/home.htm

I couldn't help but go look at Eric Orton's website (he's the highly regarded coach used by Chris McDougall to turn him from a heavy injured runner into an ultra-running machine in "Born to Run"). The website looks really cool and has a 14-day online training package at a very reasonable price that I'm tempted to try: http://www.trainwitheric.com/train_cycling.php