Another 21.1km training run.

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I’m so proud I almost posted it on Facebook.

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I’m faster in the shade, even when it’s uphill.

This is becoming a habit. My plan is to make 21km feel like a “normal” long run. I’m sure I’ll make it, but today did not feel normal at all. Started with tired legs from sprinting two days ago, and it was hot today. I managed to keep a 5:30/km pace until about 10km, then considered giving up, drank a bottle of Coca Cola, continued slowly, and finished with good form in 2:08.

If every run felt like this I would not be running. Sick of running right now. Need two days off at least. Time for a swim!

My new FuelBelt water bottle worked very well, review coming.

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Moussaka

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Østre Anlæg is PERFECT for some pretend trail running. So glad I discovered it.

I was planning to run 21km today, with a training session with Marathonsport in the middle. Well, some 400m interval sessions killed that plan. It’s always a surprise what we’re doing, so you have to be prepared for anything. I like my little unofficial running club. Since there is no fee and no membership, people just show up when they like. This attracts a lot of dedicated runners as well as newbies. I enjoy running alone most of the time, but a bit of speed work once or twice a week is perfect and the instructors are professional coaches. I highly recommend it to all solo runners who want to mix up their training a bit.

Pulse peaked at 183, so it’s steadily climbing. I’m starting to enjoy pushing myself to the limit. Usually not my style. I’m now at 124km this month and it’s not over.

Now for the Moussaka. Feeds two hungry grown ups. My one-year old hated it. It’s just off the top of my head, so I don’t know how authentic it is, but it is very simple.

  1. Slice an eggplant or two thinly, drizzle with olive oil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
  2. Add to a hot pan: Olive oil, 1 onion, some garlic cloves, 200g ground beef (really should be lamb or better: goat), 4 tomatoes, some thyme, black pepper, cinnamon, salt and let it simmer.
  3. Cut a couple of potatoes into thin slices. I don’t know how Greek this is, but it adds some texture to the dish.
  4. Bechamel: Warm up some butter in a pot, mix very even with a spoonful of flour, gradually mix in a cup or two of milk, then a pinch of nutmeg, white pepper and salt. If you get the butter/flour mix right, any lumps will even out with cooking. Simmer until slightly thick.
  5. Now just make layers of eggplant, red sauce, potato, white sauce. Top with some of the sliced potato and cheese, bake in the oven for 35 minutes (depends on how deep your casserole is.)

Opa!

The Granny Diet

Three days onThe Granny Diet and I’ve lost 2 kg. That’s hard to believe. I don’t think I’ve really lost fat, but I’ve lost the so-called “bloat” that some girls are always yammering about; as in “I get so bloated if I eat pizza”. Turns out they were… just a little bit right. So not really weight loss, but still a couple of kilos I don’t have to carry on my run. Which made today’s run with Marathonsport more enjoyable than ever. I’ve eaten tons of rye bread and whole grain spaghetti, so there’s no shortage of carbohydrates. Just no sugar and white flour. It seems too easy.

My pulse hit 182 today, so I’m approaching my statistical max pulse of 185. Which makes sense.

_MG_3592I’ve also picked out my original “Neo” shoes from the closet. I haven’t been using them because they look so nice and new (really), but after a run today, I feel they are better than all my other shoes. The shape is simply wide and narrow in the right places, and the soles are completely flat also through the arch, which is very rare. The ones that I like are with the breathable mesh, and they are no longer available through their web shop, so I’m seriously considering buying another two pairs off Amazon. I admit it is a little crazy, and there might be some mind-blowing new model out that I just haven’t tried (VivoBarefoot The One, Altra Samson). But If they fit perfectly, why not just stick to it?

I’ve also hit a new monthly mileage record of 112 km, and decided to ditch running tights. All the cool dudes run in shorts.

Mileage

montage_beachI went for another short run yesterday, and suddenly Runkeeper reminds me I’ve hit another new record; 40km, farthest in a week. Hooray! Of course, not every week is going to start with a 20k long run, so 40km is not a realistic base mileage for me.

Runners who run a marathon having less than 30km weekly mileage, double the risk of injuries according to a study. Some sources set the number higher, at 40km.

I think my ideal mileage would be somewhere around 30km a week, and then some more before long races if that’s necessary.

Paleo-diet

Ringo Starr as a caveman. Watch out for those carbs!

Ringo Starr as a caveman. Watch out for those carbs!

The media has been writing about the paleo diet for many years, and it seems to grow in popularity. There’s even a paleo restaurant in Copenhagen, where you can get a hot dog wrapped in an omelet instead of bread. My view on most of it is “yuck!”.  People are eating bacon with cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I’m not exaggerating.

First of all, we need remember that stone age humans probably didn’t have an abundance of food. They were hungry most of the time. When the chance to grow grain appeared they threw themselves at it. Stability is worth something after all. According to the scientists, they got new kinds of diseases and deficiencies with this new diet, but on the other hand, their children had a greater chance of survival. The farmers (or farmer-hunters?) soon outnumbered the hunter-gatherers.

The extreme low-carb diet

Peter-Attia

Praise the Lard!

It’s fully possible to live almost exclusively from fat and protein. I’ve been reading a blog called eatingacademy.com lately, and the guy who writes seems very knowledgeable about metabolism and performance. I started reading his blog because, in my case, there is no apparent connection between fitness and body weight. (I am also a notorious food junkie. Making my own ravioli and such.) His story starts with his disability to reach a normal BMI despite exercising four hours a day. To argue with him, he was eating both sugar and refined starch products like wheat flour, and I know many athletes now a days stick to the so-called “good carbs”.

Anyway he makes a compelling argument why you shouldn’t eat sugar and refined starch. As soon as he cut those two things out of his diet, he reached normal weight and increased his performance. Remember he was still eating large amounts of carbohydrates!

He then went further along that path, and is now constantly in a state of ketosis, which means he is living off his body fat instead of a constant supply of carbohydrates. He is also an endurance athlete, and he says his diet lets him avoid the wall or bonk, that most athletes hit after a couple of hours. Basically he hit the wall a few years ago, and as been there get since. And loves it.

He is also a doctor and has access to advanced medical equipment 24-7, monitoring his protein intake and other biological values. If he eats too little protein or too much he gets ill, and the same goes for some minerals like salt. He also has to eat supplements, vitamins etc. In fairness he does not advocate that we all eat as he, but simply wants to show there are more than one way to eat.

The Fruitarian

Yes, tomato is a fruit.

Yes, tomato is a fruit.

On the other end of the scale there is a slightly eccentric YouTube channel called The Fruitarian, which was actually a big hit among my Facebook friends for its comedy factor. The Fruitarian himself is an ultra runner who lives exclusively off fruits, vegetables and water, meaning he is getting mostly carbohydrates. Say what you will about his videos but he is a very healthy, well functioning guy, and he clearly has more mental and physical energy than most. And he finished a 100 mile run in 13 hours!

So basically we have two human guinea pigs, living off completely opposite nutrients, and both diets could easily have been obtained by a stone age man, depending on where he lived.

And when you think about it, one thing they have in common is that they don’t eat a diet based on refined sugar or starch. The modern European and North American diet is heavily based on white bread, pasta, pizza, sweets, soft drinks and muffins, and this is, as far as I know, a historical rarity! So maybe we are actually more far-out than these guys?

The Granny Diet

Ed Whitlock is so awesome!

Ed Whitlock is so awesome!

You don’t have to go that far back in history to find a diet that’s radically different. My father is born in the fifties, and he was not allowed to eat white bread on a daily basis, and had raw vegetables with his dinner every day. Pasta and pizza were viewed as special exotic treats for Saturday. And people on average were incredibly skinny compared to now. When I was a kid in the eighties and early nineties, there were no soda dispensers in schools and hospitals, but rather drinking fountains.

The new Paleo, Low Carb High Fat and Atkins-diets all represent controversially new ways of looking at what we eat. But at the same time, what they are in opposition to is not what nutritionists say we should eat, as much as what we allow ourselves to eat. White flour is not “normal” flour, it’s flour where the half of it that provides protein, fibers and vitamins is discarded. Sugar is not food, it’s a refined product that should not be enjoyed more often than other “treats” like e.g. alcohol. We don’t need sugar.

My advice, based on my own experience, is to use caution when approaching these diets, and maybe try simply cutting the white bread, cake, Coca-Cola and candy first, and then see what happens. Simply replace them with vegetables, nuts, fruit and 100% whole grain products. It’s not that crazy an experiment. If that does not work, cut out stuff like polished rice, and limit the grains overall. You could drop the potatoes too, but I doubt you’ll have to go that far. By cutting out one group at the time instead of going all-in at once, you see what works and not.

  • Pros:
    1. You can still eat what is considered “normal food” and lose weight.
    2. You get all the vitamins you need.
    3. It’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly than eating only fat and protein.
  • Cons:
    1. “Caveman diet” and “paleo diet” does sound a lot cooler, and the evolutionary arguments are compelling.
    2. Your weight loss might not be as fast as a full-on protein and fat-based diet.
    3. You don’t belong to a community of smarter, fitter humans, but rather to the likes of your grandfather.

    (Actually that last one might be a pro.)

I’m hereby dubbing it “The Granny Diet”. Just eat normal food. T shirt coming up.

It worked for me in the past, and I want to get fit again, so here goes. Addio, pizza adorata! Too bad I’ve perfected my pizza dough twirl!

- Oh my God, NO! Now the Bergs are eating bread again, and yesterday they had pasta! - I can't believe thay want to hurt themselves and their children like that.        Zofies Verden

– Oh my God! Now the Bergs are eating bread again, and yesterday they had pasta!
– I can’t believe they want to hurt themselves and their children like that.
Zofies Verden

1 kilometer record

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I am a fast ducky!

New record for 1km: 3:58.  It’s fun to run shorter distances. It can be improved, I’m sure. Running at this speed is extremely comfortable and just feels right. Too bad I can’t keep this pace for long.

My Vivobarefoot shoes are by far my favorites! The more I get used to it the more comfortable it gets. These shoes have very little padding.

Why does Runkeeper keep telling me how many calories I have burned? Do people really use that feature? “Now I’ve run two hours, so I can eat an extra half a meatball”. Sounds stressful.

Running every day, and the myth of Pheidippides

Musha

Mizuno Musha 4. It’s branded as a “stability racing flat”. Very nice shoes. I would remove the stiff plastic “wave” in the midfoot, but otherwise very flexible and light. Musha means warrior.

I ran an easy 5km yesterday, the day after my groundbreaking 21.1km long run. Just couldn’t help myself. They say running makes you crazy. As far as I’m concerned, that’s definitely true. It was a nice trip with no pain. Today I’m tired, especially in my feet, so I’ll take a rest day. I went to the playground with my daughter after the long run, and I think that actually helped me recover too.

I would usually be tired after such a long run, so I take it as a sign that I’m getting stronger. I had a mean cold for the last half of this winter. I was starting to doubt myself, and needless to say, I was in pretty bad shape when I tried to pick up the pace again a month ago. I would actually really like to run every day, but I am very careful to avoid injuries, as it made me have to stop running a few years ago. I’ve been running for two years now, and I think it’s time to increase the volume.

Pheidippides

Speaking of mileage, I recently discovered Pheidippides might have been an Ultramarathoner! This has been covered on millions of running blogs already, but the myth of the marathon is a strong-lived one. Pheidippides is probably a real historic figure who lived from 530 to 490 BC. The historian Herodot describes him as a professional runner who ran from Athens to Sparta to ask for assistance in the Persian wars. The distance was about 240km, and he did not die directly afterwards, as far as the story goes. Herodot wrote this about 40 years after the wars, and his story may be based on eye witness accounts.

Image of some 1896 marathoners.

They don’t make roads like this anymore

Then 500 years pass before the story turns up in a different form, where the runner runs from Marathon to Athens to announce victory, and then dies of exhaustion. From then on there are countless variations on the same story, but the iconic version states that Pheidippides cries “we have won” and then collapses under the stress. It’s hard to imagine something more heroic/stupid than running yourself to death to deliver a non-urgent message. It’s this story that inspired the 1896 Marathon.

So the latter story is about as true as the plot of Game Of Thrones, but there might be some truth to the first, less dramatic, but even more impressive story. And of course, these days everybody knows, it’s fully possible to run 240km in a couple of days, if you have a strong body and are completely nuts.

Just another 21.1km training run.

ImageThis photo is taken just 8 hours after the start of Copenhagen Marathon. Not all places are as squeaky clean as this, but I’m still impressed with how they have cleaned up. No new records were set this time, but then again the rain made for some slippery streets. I had a great marathon experience, mainly because I was watching instead of running it.

The race was won by the Morroccan Rachid Kirsi (2:17:22) who looked great through the race, and the third price and the Danish championship by Henrik Them Andersen (2:18:00).  Danish runner Anne-Mette Aagaard won the ladies’ race flat out with 2:44:12. Not a bad effort, considering the race record is 2:14:16 / 2:30:51. It’s not the fastest route, but varied and picturesque, and will probably be my first marathon.

I was so inspired I went out and did another half marathon training run. My time was 2:08, which is about the right training tempo for me. My PR is 1:57 and I hope to improve it soon. The last three km’s were hard. I find it easier to run fast when I’m not alone. I feel like I’m on my way to make 21km “just another long run”. My plan is to slowly get used to this distance, and build from there to 30km, where most people hit the proverbial wall. From there, my plan is to build up well for a marathon, without hitting the wall harder than I can take. I don’t want to make a fool of myself and start walking long stretches like I did in my first half marathon. At least that’s the idea.

On a different note, I found this video of one of the worlds best marathoners, Moses Mosop. Most people know him as the guy who was running right behind when Mutai set his unofficial world record in Boston in 2011. Mosop has a very distinct running style with a clear forefoot landing, and looks to almost floating through the air. He is one of the elite runners with the shortest time on the ground in his gait cycle (eg. more air time). I don’t think one should necessarily try to copy his style, but to me, just watching it makes me want to run fast.

Training injuries reveal stuff?

copenhagen-marathon-188Copenhagen Marathon is tomorrow, and I will be watching the run-up on the nearest computer. I so want to be running next time, but for now I’m sticking to half marathons.

I also read an interesting article in Runner’s World suggesting that training injuries can give a hint at what you’re doing wrong. Basically, according to a study from Aarhus University, runner’s knee, and some other knee-injuries are related to high mileage, while problems like achilles tendinopathy and plantar fasciitis might be more related to speed. I think minimal- and barefoot runners tend to get the “too fast”-associated injuries, even if the problem is running too far. At least I’ve had some achilles problems in the past and I know for sure that I wasn’t running too fast. ;-) The study concerns heel strikers anyway. It seems like a useful piece of running science, if it holds up.

Sprinting can be fun

ImageKastellet is a star-shaped fortress in Copenhagen, close to the famous statue of the little mermaid. There’s no actual fortress besides the earth walls and the moat, but strolling along those walls can be a nice break from urban life. And it’s a nice place to run, if you don’t mind running on gravel.

And speaking of variation, trying to run 5k as fast as you can two times a week is a recipe for getting bored. So today I decided to do some sprints. I’m not a fast sprinter, but I define sprinting more in terms of mode than speed. I always feel very light and fast when sprinting, and it’s not at all painful like running a 5k. I feel a bit like a madman running past people like that, but I try not to be so self conscious. Accelerating can feel a bit heavy, but as soon as I’m up there I feel like a boat planing, at least for a short while.

KastelletI am a bit curious as to how fast I’m actually running, because the GPS is not accurate enough to capture a 100-150m sprint. While the sprinting was mostly just fun, what I was happy about today is that I managed to keep an OK pace between the intervals.

I sprinted the straight sides, and jogged the “starfish arms”. I’ll definitely do this again, maybe alternated with slightly longer intervals, like 400m. For some reason I almost never do any anaerobic training. Maybe my legs will remind me why tomorrow. I’m resting till Monday anyway. There’s no group training, so I’ll probably try to do a long run, 14k or so.