Fuelbelt Crush

Busy weekend means no running. I’m going out again tomorrow and I almost can’t wait. It feels like my legs were happy to take a break. Also, I’ve been resting on my laurels from last week.

There are many good fuel belts out there, but this one fit my needs and it’s relatively cheap. I am among the 17% or so who prefer one big bottle to two or more smaller ones. Smaller bottles are comfortable but are, in my opinion, a hassle to refill and keep track of. The big opening means you can refill the bottle fast and easy. I like this belt. The only drawback is that the pocket is too small for my smart phone! Plenty of room for keys, ID, credit cards and dried dates, but I had to buy an extra pocket for my phone. I’d probably give it a 4 out of 5. I chose this one because of the price, and it does the job. I plan to wear it to pieces.

UPDATE:

I feel like I have to update this review. The red strap that holds the bottle in place (on the pictures above) is no good. It makes no difference if you tighten it, or how you wrap it around the bottle. I’ve even tried to wrap it several times around the cap. I’ve dropped the bottle on the ground a couple of times, when the bottle was full. It simply bounces out of the sheath. I’ve fixed it by sowing on an elastic band (the black one pictured below), but I just can’t give this belt a good score as long as I have to get out needle and thread just to make it work. It’s very securely attached now, so to anyone who’ve bought this belt I recommend this little fix. It makes a lot more sense to attach the bottle to the belt on the inside that the outside, to make the bottle sit as close as possible to the body.

I would love being an industrial designer! There are just so many products out there with one big flaw. Still a good looking belt.

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New 5k record!

Østerbro Stadion 2009. Not my photo.

Østerbro Stadion 2009. Not my photo. It rained today.

I went to Østerbro Stadium by myself today. I like running on a track. The surface is soft and grippy. I beat my 5km record as planned, and I’m thinking I might never shave 01:52 of my 5k record in one go again. 21:30, or an average pace of 04:18/km. The weird thing is I felt so slow!

Next up is my 10k record, and I’m going to beat it by more than two minutes. I think. My 1000m record of 4 min is also going down.

A virtuous cycle

I’m on a roll. I am happy with work and family, and, more importantly in the scope of my training blog, I am finally able to run over 30km a week, and I enjoy running more and more. My long runs are often 20km. But I can’t really explain why I’m this happy about it. My head has changed this spring.

I have always had the feeling that stuff just happens, and I don’t know why. In fifth grade I sucked at maths and sports, and after a summer of sitting in the back of my mothers car and listening to techno music on my walkman, I would come back to school, and suddenly be one of the best students, especially at maths and physical education. And much taller. How weird is that? And how unpredictable?

Mother nature evened out all that over the next few years, but I think it taught me that you can work hard at something and not succeed, and then, when some external factor changes, suddenly it’s almost too easy. In other words, since then I haven’t been trying so hard. Don’t get me wrong; I like working hard, but I have still just been floating along. You could call it being mentally lazy or easygoing, depending on your point of view.

The first time I took an active step to change something I thought was an external, unchangeable factor, was a few years ago when I decided to lose weight. I think I reached a point where I didn’t feel well, and I started to get afraid of diabetes. So I googled “weight loss”, and read a lot of far out shit (pardon my French, but dieting is one sick business), and then I settled on just eating vegetables and meat for half a year, no bread. Lots and lots of vegetables. And the fat just disappeared before my eyes like magic! I was shocked! I looked completely different, and felt different too. I remember going for a run, and I felt like I was flying.

A couple of years later I was still more or less the same weight, and I started running regularly. That lead to some more googling to avoid hurting my weak knees, and again I found a lot of far out stuff, (like how you can run by letting gravity pull you forward, LOL), and it eventually led to me buying some so-called barefoot shoes, and instantly being able to run 10km in under an hour without breaking a sweat. At that point I hadn’t run farther than 4km since ninth grade! That was the easy part that just happened. Since then I have been running a lot less than I wanted to, usually held back by nagging pain in different weird places in my lower legs. Since 2011 I’ve averaged at just over 10km a week, and not of my own will. This blog started a means to keep me focused on running while my legs rested.

But lately I seem to have entered a good rhythm, and I think it’s the combined effect of eating more healthily (again) and the exercise. It shouldn’t be a shocker, but I am still amazed at how much my state of mind has changed! Right now I feel like it’s the most natural thing in the world to exercise five hours a week and eat a full grain, low fat diet. Like it’s always been this way.

So however lost I may be, seems I’ve been doing something right. And suddenly, all by itself, I am starting to get a bit more competitive with my running. Not like winning prizes competitive, but I just want to be better than someone who also makes an effort. Until now I’ve been running my own race, which is great, but now I want to add an element of competition to it as well. I went running with the shoe shop harriers today, and since some of the faster guys weren’t there, I was suddenly one of the fastest runners, and that really charged my batteries: I ran my 1km laps at about 4:30 and some of the 400m laps at 3:12min/km pace, which is a speed unheard of for me. And it felt so easy. I’ve felt for a long time that there is some “gear” there that I very rarely enter, but which is relatively economical, e.g. feels easy. Now if I could just work up the shape to actually stay in that zone a bit longer…

To start it off, I’m going to beat my 5k record of 23:22. This Thursday. No more playing around. I’m never getting under 20 minutes if I don’t apply myself. And my 10km time of about 51 minutes? I set it while trying to keep my heart rate low. Maybe I am a bit lazy after all?

Center stage

I just went off stage twenty minutes ago, after a great concert experience. Sometimes things just click. I got the chance to sing in front of a symphony orchestra and a huge chorus, and this time I really felt like the hero. I’m a lyric baritone, and as opera buffs may know it’s not that often baritones get to be leading man. At least if you’re not 7 feet tall and handsome with a voice made of stainless steel.

I attribute the feeling of elevation and success at least partially to a radically new way of warming up: Running, of course! A fast 20 minute run in heavy rain and wind right before the concert made me feel like Superman. And it must have worked because I got a 350 € raise after the concert. That’s a first.

I love running right now. I never expected it to be so useful. I can strongly recommend running before important work events, especially if you need to keep the nerves in check.

Now home for bean burritos and beer. :-)

Off the grid

Obviously I’m not off the grid. But I went for a two hour easy run without GPS today. The last 15 minutes I couldn’t help myself but had to check with Runkeeper if I could keep a decent pace. And I could. I’m a little bit addicted to my gadgets.

But the general feeling of peace and freedom from just running around aimlessly for two hours was great. I could take all the slower, rougher routes, do some drills, run backwards, or just enjoy running through deserted industrial areas in warm rain and the crowded park in sunshine. Also I’ve decided to not rush the long runs, but to just use them to get some easy mileage, and save the pain (or fun) for runs under 12km.

I love the idea of setting a time limit instead or distance. Less fuzz, and I know when I’ll be done!

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This guy doesn’t like rain.

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Rain. Natures own Hipstamatic.

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Danish Oil and Natural Gas. No kidding.

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I’m wearing my jazz shoes.

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100% whole grain rye. Who needs all purpose flour?

 

4×4 interval training

imageIn Norway, 4×4 intervals have almost become a dogma. Scientists from NTNU claim that running four-minute intervals four times, with “active rest” in-between is the best way to increase endurance. By active rest they mean you keep moving, but at a lower pace.

It’s definitely a good exercise to include, and easy to remember.

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Fælledparken

Another one I like is from the book Running With The Kenyans, and is just as simple: set your watch to beep every 1 minute, and switch between fast and slow pace everytime it beeps. The great thing about setting an alarm is that you don’t have to look at your GPS watch, just turn off your brain and run. Also, at least with my Garmin 305, intervals by time instead of distance means you don’t get any statistics on each single lap. Basically the watch does not control you or tell you how you did. I like that. It’s more exciting to do a benchmark test every once in a while, and not over-monitor the regular runs.

The beep method works just as well with 4 minutes of course, and that’s what I did today. It was fun, and I’m getting over she shyness of running fast. Just let people think what they want.

Legs were nice and rested after two days off. The higher pace was about 4:10/km – 4:30/km, which is fast for me, and It was surprisingly easy. I look forward to crushing my 1km record of 4 minutes, and am curious to see how my 5k time is coming along.

Cross training, whole grain pizza and hoarding running shoes

pool_lysindfaldI went cross training with my wife yesterday. We did some cross fit exercises and went for a swim. Her gym is simply amazing. I think of becoming a member, but I am leaning towards just going once a week and paying for each time separately (cheaper). I am running most days after all. In the pool I did some swimming under water. It’s a strange feeling because you build up lactic acid very fast while staying completely calm, heart rate low. Very different to running. When I get to the end of the lane my whole body feels heavy. Running doesn’t make me tired anymore, but weightlifting and swimming just makes me want to sit down and relax.

Hard to get it completely round with only full grain flour.

Hard to get it completely round with only full grain flour.

I have lost another kg from my full-grain diet and am now at 80kg, which is sort of a turning point between overweight and normal for me. (I’m eating more or less as before, only no sugar or white flour.) I am reading Scott Jurek’s autobiography “Eat and Run”, and while I might never become a vegan, I can wholeheartedly agree that different foods make you feel different. I shared a home-made full grain pizza with my daughter yesterday, and after eating half of it I was so full I could burst. I usually would eat a whole pizza. I think the thing with sugar and fine wheat flour is that you can eat enormous amounts of it without feeling full. At least I can. The pizza dough worked well, but I can still improve my technique. It takes some extra work to get a whole grain dough flexible enough. If I wanted to lose weight fast, the pizza would probably be out, but I am trying to permanently change my diet, as opposed to “being on a diet”, so I need to find a way of eating that I am 100% happy with. So pizza is on the menu. So far my weight is slowly and steadily going down, and I don’t have to focus on it. I just live my one simple rule:

Minimize your intake of sugar and refined starch. Otherwise stuff your face as you like.

IMAG2162I am becoming a hoarder. Probably inspired by reading how people stock up on their favorite shoes before they go out of production, I went about and bought two more pairs of VivoBarefoot Neo shoes. I now have four pairs of this particular model. Actually, it seems like the Neo with the good, breathable mesh is going out of production, at least it’s getting harder to come by it. They have their shortcomings, especially they’re slippery on wet surfaces because the rubber is quite hard. But other than that I love these shoes. Still haven’t worn out the first pair which I bought two years ago.

The problem with finding good minimal shoes is that most stores don’t have them, so I’m left to ordering them online an then returning them if they don’t fit, or as I have done, find one that fits and stick to it. All of the other models I’ve tried (NB Minimus, Merrell) have been too narrow for my feet, so I’ve stopped looking. This time I accidentally bought one size to big, EU 46, and they fit me better than a size 45. I think this might be the first time in my life I have tried a shoe that does not squeeze my pinkie toe! After a few runs though, I feel the fit is not as good in the bigger size. In the tradeoff between pinkie space and snug fit I prefer a good fit. So I returned the pair that I haven’t run in.

But all in all, I’m set with Vivobarefoot shoes for the next many years.

The Runner’s World (r) Complete Guide To Minimalism And Barefoot Running

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In my last group training session a woman asked about my VivoBarefoot shoes. It’s the first time in the two years I’ve worn them that a stranger has shown interest in my shoes. Seems you can read about minimalist shoes in the paper every week, but very few actually use them for running. Out of the hundred something runners I see every week, about zero to one of them are wearing minimalist shoes, except for the odd Lunaracer racing flat. And even those are far between.

Anyway, the woman told me she had started running in VivoBarefoots, and had to stop after two weeks because of all kinds of pain in her lower legs. She seemed to be doing fine in her cushioned running shoes, but I wish she had read this book before venturing into barefoot shoes. I am afraid her story is a common reason why the five fingers end up in the back of the closet. (The other main reason being how they look.)

The book is short and very well written. I read it in a single day. It explains the main ideas and principles of running with less cushioning, and the author, Scott Douglas, is very careful to include all the ‘caveats’, and different viewpoints on barefoot running, which is nice. The book also includes some simple exercises, like how to do butt-kicks (on yourself), and how to go about shopping for shoes.

All in all, I’d say many people would be better off reading this book quoting reputable coaches, than getting all their information from web forums. It’s essential in the sense that it’s short, and IMO important for anybody interested in barefoot and minimalist running.

New 10km record.

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Still trying to wrap my head around the concept of heart rate zones. I aimed for a heart rate of 155, and averaged at 150 which isn’t that bad, considering I wasn’t allowed to cross the 160 barrier. It always takes some time to get the heart going.

160 bpm seems to be the heart rate at which I feel like I’m working a little bit harder. My tempo runs should probably be at 158-164.

I was a bit surprised at how fast I had to run to reach a hr of 150. Actually so fast that I beat my old 10km record by one minute. 50:58! If I could beat it that easy, there are bound to be some new records around the corner. Legs were tired though…

28km this week.

Some background on heart rate zones.

Beach life

Screenshot from 2013-06-07 21:34:38

IMAG0649I ran a 5k in less than 24 minutes yesterday, which means I am more or less back to the shape I was in in December before I got the mother of colds for three months. Today I got to run with my wife and my daughter pacing me on a bike! Double happiness! Now I lay low until group training Monday. If I can.