Sunday, 5 June 2011

The Boredom of Minimalism.

There's nothing more boring than people going on and on about things ( I should know because I do it a lot , I'm told!). Although I do agree with the reasoning behind the barefoot/ natural/ whatever marketing departments want to call it debate, I tire of reading yet another article about how man was made to run in bare feet etc/etc/etc and the usually accompanying feature on minimal running shoes. Minimalist running shoes are nothing new. Most major brands have always carried them in their ranges in the form of racing shoes. It is boring to see the same features on the same brands- vibram/ vivo barefoot etc, etc- all having two similar characteristics- not a lot of cushioning and very expensive. I have some vibrams and have trained and raced in them. They may be minimal, you may run like nature intended, but you do feel like a prize plonker. They just look crap and make you feel like a circus clown. Plus they are way too expensive. Instead of buying the 'now' brands and paying a fortune , it just needs abit of thought and creativity. I bought a pair of Puma Cortland 11's(cross country spikes), cut out the metal spike bits on the bottom and had a great shoe( except, ironically, in the mud!) And they were £9.99. My latest shoes are the Ascis Piranha. I know the Piranha 3 or 4 is out now, so mine have been lurking about in the back of a shop somewhere, but for £30 they are great. Plus they make you feel cool! They conjure up images of Frank Shorter and other great runners in the mid/late 70's in their Tiger flats and Quenton Cassidy on his comeback in the US marathon Trials for the 84 olympics ( note - he is fictional. I'm refering to the sequel to the book , Once a Runner!) They don't make you run any faster though. Today I ran Woodhall Spa 10k half a minute slower than last year. Last year I was running in the Hitec vlite sirocco sandal and that's not a shoe even designed for running! But ,as I said , I did feel cool!

Training for the marathon is a potentially complex business. I've entered for Amsterdam in mid October, with the obvious intention of setting a personal best. Having ran 2.56 last year at London and 2.54 this year, I would love to achieve a sub 2.50 showing. Both previous times have been set on big miles ran ,predominantly, slowly. After London this year I thought I may improve if I start to adjust training and incorporate a few faster sessions. After racing today( 38.30ish 10k) I'm not so sure. I can compete with guys in the marathon who have much more basic speed than me. I've raced, and beaten, people I know with 10k times of around 35mins ,over the marathon, while my pb is a meagre shade under 38mins.I know that one of my heroes, Ron Hill, basically advocates that a good marathon can be run on big mileage mixed with regular racing over varying distances(at least 1 or 2 times a week). After great personal experimentation, he found that training over 140 miles a week had little extra benefit. Everyone keeps telling me that I need more structure to my training. What I think they mean is more quality, as it has structure in the form of going out once or twice a day. So I think I'll give the Ron Hill approach a go for this attempt. I'll try a get a mid week and weekend race in and mix this with big weekly mileage and a weekly single long run of 20 miles plus and see what happens.

One thing I did enjoy about todays race was running without a watch. The battery has worn out on mine so it was a decision taken out of my hands. I've been reading about Steve Jones a lot this week and how he liked to run on instinct. In the first marathon he finished at Chicago he ran without a watch and won the race in a low 2. 08. I thought it would be interesting today if wearing a watch, and being able to check for splits actually made any difference. I thought that ,for me, it wouldn't - if I was running well and had good early splits then I try to keep that pace hoping for a good un, and if my splits were bad,invariably, I was feeling bad and couldn't speed up anyway. Today I knew I was running a bad one and thought I was on pace for between 38 and 39 and I was!

Anyway- onwards and upwards!!

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