Friday, December 30, 2011

Identify your running style before its too late

Does your running style look a bit like any of these five guys in the video below?

The most common basic types have been conveniently named:

  • The Geezer
  • The Dandy
  • The T-1000
  • The Flightless Bird
  • The Stiffy.

If you could identify with one or more of these styles, congratulations for your honesty. Promise right now to do something about it as the New Year begins.

If you answered no, you are possibly kidding yourself. Maybe you should ask for other people's views right now.

In any case, Happy Trails and Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Kilian on Canal+

I don't waste my time watching the garbage on mainstream TV, but I'm happy to make an exception this time. Kilian Jornet was featured on Canal+, the premium French pay TV channel. Ultra trail running is definitely big in Europe now. 'Seul au Monde' means 'Alone in the World', I guess.

Veuillez installer Flash Player pour lire la vidéo

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Chase

The Chase is a short film about chasing who you want to become by Gretchen Powers.

The CHASE. from Gretchen Powers on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

TNF Trans Gran Canaria promo

The latest promo video for The North Face Trans Gran Canaria. Only 66 days! Training is going very well, last week alone I ran 100 miles.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Mental preparation for next ultrarunning season

In this interesting video about mental preparation for ultrarunning, Mental Coach Dominique Simoncini presents his "3Cs for CCC" (Competence, Consciousness, Confidence for Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix).

For example, you can learn how to deal with the negative emotions after a disappointing or frustrating race experience. Although you may temporarily feel like the world has falled apart, it's possible and essential to renew your 3Cs for the next season. You may feel you are no longer competent and therefore lose your confidence. So you have to get back to adequate level of competence, validate it in order to become fully conscious of your capabilities and thus regain extra confidence.

1. The first step is to define your goals: clarify your specific aims and ensure that those objectives match your physical capabilities.

2. The second step is to define what sort of emotions you feel in relation to your ambitions: are they a source of happiness or stress for you?

3. The third step is trying to manage your emotions during your training and the race itself, so that you will achieve your goal. Simoncini mentions various methods for this purpose: relaxation, mental imaging, NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), and even a form of light hypnosis.

If all this is well done, it should give a sense of immediate meaning to your every action. When you plan your next season, you have to be careful to make it work as a whole. You should never feel overworked by training too much without recovery, but there shouldn't be too long inactive gaps either. The mental preparation should be closely linked with physical training. It is important to be always well organized - especially before your main event - so that you can look forward to it and avoid feeling burnout.

Finally Simoncini presents his "ici et maintenant" (here and now) philosophy: living for the present. When you are running in an challenging ultra race, always keep in mind that what you are feeling in a particular situation is only a temporary state of mind. Don't let your mind wander to what difficulties there may be ahead, or you might start doubting whether you're going to make it. Tell yourself that you are here and now, concentrate on the present, and things will get better. If you put this into practice, things will work out - even in your everyday life.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hoka talks, lesser shoe walks

Hoka One One made a brilliant strategic decision to focus on marketing a unique product: a thick'n'wide-soled all-terrain running shoe that's relatively light-weight. As painful injuries due to the current minimal shoe craze skyrocket, more runners are forced to look for creative solutions.  

In the video below, ultrarunner Karl Meltzer talks about his love affair with Hoka shoes. It seems they are married for life now.


I hardly go out for a run without my Bondi B's these days. I've logged over a thousand kilometers in them, and they are still as good as new, if not better. A lesser shoe would be finished by now, but I expect to squeeze another 1000K out of them. Hokas may seem expensive, but they will be good value for money in the long run.

I completely agree with the Bondi B review below, but I'd add one more thing: if you have plantar fasciitis, some runners (myself included) have gotten rid of it with a little help from Hoka. The new colors look great for sure, but the shoe design has stayed essentially the same.

Especially if you're planning to run any ultras, keep an open mind and give Hokas a fair chance. By the way, now would be a perfect time to buy new shoes, as shops are clearing their shelves for new 2012 spring models. For example all current Hokas are on sale at the in Chamonix. If you choose Bondi B, I'd size up a half. I have no experience with the other models yet, but a pair of Mafates is already on its way to me.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Yoga Xmas Survival Kit

I hardly ever do yoga or even stretch. Having said that, it might be a good idea to try some of this during holidays. Happy trails 2012!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Left in the Dark - book review

I finished reading 'Left in the Dark' by Graham Gynn and Tony Wright today. It presents an interesting new left/right brain theory, that seems better and different than all the others I've heard so far. I think it's an important book, although the writing style is somewhat dry, academic and perhaps a bit too British in style. However the thinking is spectacularly brilliant in this idea-rich 200-page investigation into the evolution of the human brain. Some say it's "the most revolutionary theory since Darwin" - and they are probably right.

The authors present strong evidence that shows our human ancestors were forest-dwelling fruit-eaters and not animal hunters - contrary to what is widely believed today. They also propose that although the right hemisphere of our brains is actually much more functional than the left, the right hemisphere has abilities that can only emerge when the left hemisphere dominance is lifted. We are mostly lost in the illusion created by our limited - but extremely dominant - left-hemisphere self.

Many human mysteries that you may have wondered about are explained in the book. For example:
  • why we are so different from our animal relatives (and not always in a good way),
  • how our brains became so large, but then started to shrink (yes we are getting stupider, not smarter),
  • why the two sides of our brains have different functions (and how for instance we tend to forget our dreams immediately upon waking up), and
  • how the human system has suffered a stall in its development, which has obviously affected our health and behaviour.
What I found particularly interesting from athletes's perspective was the powerful effect of steroids and hormones on our biology. They also investigate athletes (including a few runners) who have been able to shift to a 'second self' with enhanced abilities. Steroids -  even the natural ones produced in our bodies - seem to be surprisingly harmful in many ways.

It appears that in successful race performances the left hemisphere control in the brains of those athletes has been overridden. Accessing this second system is the secret that lies at the heart of enhanced sporting performance. In those rare instances perception of time and space is usually somewhat altered, and a heightened sense of alertness is commonplace.  

Finally the extreme sleep deprivation experiments (up to 11 days and nights!) performed by Tony Wright in a scientific setting were quite interesting to read about from ultrarunning point of view, as many ultra distance races require sleep deprivation. It seems that when we feel tired and think we must stop, it's only our left brain that's tired. If we can avoid fear and confusion, we can keep going for a long time with our right brain.

Occasionally a theory will blow your mind. This theory will tell you why your mind is already blown.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Transgrancanaria 2012 training camp video

I missed this training camp for Transgrancanaria 2012. Well-trained or not, I'm going to attempt the 123 km ultra option in March - only 79 days left. This will be my longest trail running race next year.


Here's a video from this year's race to get some idea how it will be. Almost everyone seems to have taped plastic bags over their shoes for sand protection for the first few kilometers that goes over the dunes of Playa del Ingles.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run 2012 registration open

Registration for Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run 2012 (1.-8. September) has started. It's an Alpine stage trail run. They have two alternating routes: East and West. In 2012 it will be the East from Ruthpolding in Germany to Sexten in Italy. There will be eight stages.

They take only 250 pairs of runners (you are not allowed to participate without a teammate). The race will probably sell out quickly, so hurry.

I plan to run CCC (Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix) at the end of August, so I'll pass this one.

You'll find a 42-minute video of Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run 2011 and other trail running races at Massive SportsTV.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Nicki Rehn presents Tor des Géants

You don't often hear an Aussie-Canuck raving about European ultratrails. You should check out Nicki Rehn presenting Tor des Géants at FEAT Canada. Don't worry,  the video below is short and funny - not at all like those grueling ultra races.

TDG is a 330 km single-stage trail run in September. You can eat, sleep or whatever, but the clock keeps ticking all the time. You just somehow have to run the 200+ miles with 24000 meters of climbing in 150 hours.

And naturally you are always welcomed to Hotel DNF.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

TNF Endurance Challenge 2011 50 miles San Francisco

The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship 2011, a 50-mile trail race near San Francisco. Mike Wolfe battles with Dakota Jones, and wins in the end by a couple of minutes. Results.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Brooks Pure preview

The four models in the new Brooks Pure Project shoe line seemed interesting when I had a chance to check them out in Switzerland last July. Unfortunately they were not allowed to sell any of them yet.

I'd surely be interested in trying Pure Flow for short training and racing, perhaps even for marathons. Also Pure Grit might be useful. The other two I'm not that interested in.

I'm afraid the Pures might be too minimal for ultras, unless you can run like Krupicka - I certainly can't. We'll see when they become available in Europe.