Monday, June 27, 2016

The Inevitable book review

My 6-word review of The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly:
The inevitable is the new impossible. 
I know that's long-winded, but what do you expect from a mountainultratrailrunner? Especially since Marc Andreessen already put out his 2-word review: "Automatic must-read."

The book is about understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape our future:
  1. Becoming
  2. Cognifying
  3. Flowing
  4. Screening
  5. Accessing
  6. Sharing
  7. Filtering
  8. Remixing
  9. Interacting
  10. Tracking
  11. Questioning
  12. Beginning
These trajectories are not destinies. They simply tell us that in the near future we are inevitably headed in these directions. We will all be 'Endless Newbies' in 'Protopia' (pro as in progress and process).

For example, the wearable activity gadgets will much improve in the next few years. They will access, screen and track every aspect of the flux and immediately share the stream with the cloud. The emphasis will shift from hardware products to software services.

Cheap parallel computation, big data and better algorithms mean AI will be soon embedded in everything. Human coaches (like most current professions) will be replaced by machine intelligence. Yes robots will take our jobs, but we will have new jobs with more time to exercise! :)

Of course many things could go wrong, but ever-optimistic KK is not worried about AI or anything. I really hope he is right in saying: "This is the best time ever in human history to begin," One thing is certain: we haven't seen nothing yet.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

ZUT happens

I never planned to do Zugspitz Ultratrail (ZUT). It just sort of happened to me. Fortunately this German's biggest trailrun event allows last-minute registration. It's simple and easy too: just pay the fee, show your ID, sign the weaver, and get your bib. No medical certificates or other bureaucracy. I loved this race already!

The view from my hotel room window in gRAINau. 

Having said that, the weather was pretty constantly bad. The guy at my hotel told me it had been raining every day for at least a month. And sure enough, it kept on raining daily during my visit in gRAINau. But don't get me wrong. There's magic in misery, as Dean Karnazes wrote in his book RUN!

Dean Karnazes: RUN! 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss.

ZUT is a huge event with 2500 runners over five race distances. You never needed to run alone. There was no chance of getting lost. The course was well-marked all the way. The rain washed away some of the sprayed water-soluble markings on the ground, but that wasn't a problem at all.

The contents of the backpack we received at registration.

After 14km we crossed the Germany/Austria border. Then we ran through the Zugspitz cable car station. The main factor slowing me down was the mud. Most of the trails were soaked wet from previous rainfall, even before today's rain started.

Mr Black Cap seconds before the start. (Photo: Kelvin Trautman)
Not surprisingly, the conditions got worse and worse. I ran slowly to avoid falling down. Even so, I slipped a few times, but no worries. I remembered many of these trails from my Zugspitz Vertical Challenge last summer. Then I had run all the way to the Top of Germany at 2962m.

June 18 in Grainau, sunny Saturday morning, rough and ready for 7:15am start!

The 102km Ultratrail has officially 5412 meters of elevation gain. Many runners feel it's probably more than that. Anyway it's a challenging course via Ehrwald, Leutasch, Mittenwald and Garmisch-Partenkirchen going counter-clockwise around Zugspitze. The start and finish is in Grainau, so there's the same amount of descent as well.

We just have to run around this rock - how hard could that be?

The highest point of the race is only at 2206m, but in a hailstorm it felt cold enough for my delicate fingers to start freezing over. I had both merino-wool and water-proof gloves. My blue Haglöfs Goretex jacket proved invaluable once again. For the last half I put on The North Face beanie and Salomon WP pants as well. My Hoka One One Challenger ATR 2 shoes were awesome - no blisters despite they were muddy inside out. I had two pairs, but decided to wear the same pair all the way. After all, this was only a 100K.

It didn't rain in the morning and the landscape was fantastic.

After 40km we came down to Hämmermoosalm aid station. I must have looked pretty beat up already, because a race volunteer asked if I was the runner who had requested assistance in quitting the race. No way, madam! I was just getting warmed up. One high peak down, two to go.

A beautiful section of the course with stunning mountains and rocks all around.

The next peak had even more snow than the previous one. The trail ended upon a steep snow slope, with a red arrow pointing straight down. Some parts had ropes to hold on, some didn't. It would have been cool to be able to slide down on your feet like Kilian Jornet in Salomon videos, but let's just say I used other ways to get down. It was super fun too!

Grainau crowds going wild for my sub 24-hour finish on Sunday morning 7:10am!

In Hubertushof aid station we had only 48km to go. We received our drop bags. I dug up all the gels from my bag, as they for some weird reason didn't give any at the aid stations. It started raining heavily and I sat down in a tent to wait it out. It never stopped. My Swiss Irontrail-buddy Roger appeared and we started together through the rain. 'Are you having fun yet?' I asked. 'No' he said with a serious look. We both knew this would be a long day and night to Grainau.

Proud owner of ZUT finisher T-shirt and bling!

Fortunately the route was fairly easy until the climb up to Partnachalm at 82km. I explored this area with my son last summer, so I was looking forward to the nice trail up to AlpspiX at 2050m. However we didn't go that route, but a hellish mudpath with fallen logs and other obstacles all over. It was pitch dark and raining cats and dogs. My 1000-lumen Lumonite Compass R headlight and Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z-poles were most helpful tools to get me through the night. And lots of coffee or course.

Zugspitz Ultra Trail 2016 from luukai on Vimeo.

The last 7km were mostly downhill in faint morning light. I finished in just under 24 hours, slightly over two hours before the final cutoff. I was very proud and happy to be one of 388 Ultratrail finishers. Out of 634 starters, only 246 Did Not Finish. 39% dropout rate is not bad considering the weather. We ultratrailrunners are a tough bunch, ZUT provided valuable mountain experience for Swiss Irontrail. I could never have pushed myself this hard in any private training session. I hope ZUT happens for me again. There's magic in misery.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Waterlily Wanderung

We did a little wanderung around Lake Valklampi in Nuuksio National Park with TPjr.

We saw lots of blooming waterlilies in the lake.

Then we swam by the huge cliffs in the lake, had a little picnic, and headed back home.

The weather was just awesome, what a great summer day!

Friday, June 10, 2016

10 Key Points from Training Essentials for Ultrarunning

After finishing Training Essentials for Ultrarunning: How To train Smarter, Race Faster, and Maximize Your Ultramarathon Performance by Jason Koop with Jim Rutberg (VeloPress 2016), I'd like to share the following 10 key points from the notes I wrote down for myself while reading.

1. Train smarter.

Structured training leads to better results than simply running more. There's generally too much focus on volume in ultrarunning. Superlong runs are very hard on the body and take a lot of time to recover from. Still, developing your cardiovascular engine is important. The workouts necessary for best cardio fitness may seem quite simple and boring, but these methods will make you confident and prepared for success. Extreme gimmicks may seem to work for a while before fading out.

2. Train with focused specificity.

The limiting factor isn't your physical capacity to run fast. Most races have generous cutoffs. You can develop specific parts of your physiology through increasingly focused specificity and intensity during different parts of the year. Start with the broadest aspects of training like aerobic endurance. Do the most event-specific things last. Each race has its unique nuances and preparing for them is important.

3. Train your mind.

Ultrarunning is a thinking sport. Your mind is your greatest weapon. Use it skilfully and wisely. The circumstances may seem to conspire against you. You have to think your way through the challenges. You must get over the obstacles while feeling miserable. In ultrarunning there's a lot of time for plans to go awry, but also a lot of time to right the ship. You need to train your brain as much as your body. Everyone faces tough moments in ultramarathons. It's guaranteed that you'll have to dig in deep.

4. Train with a purpose.

You need a deeply personal reason that drives you forward. It doesn't have to be world-changing. You simply need to know why you are doing all this when the going gets tough. Or who knows, you might even have fun occasionally. Just have a purpose to keep you going.

5. Train for balance.

As you get fitter, a bigger and more concentrated training stimulus is required. But you also need to rest. Running yourself into the ground won't improve your race time. Recovery is an important part of training. Find the right balance between work and rest.

6. Train climbing.

You are likely to spend much more time going uphill than downhill, so you can most dramatically improve your race during the ascents. Lactate threshold work yields the greatest improvements for the amount of effort you put toward it in training. Preparing for the climbing (and also descending) in your event is a high priority throughout your training. Climbing becomes even more important as your race draws near. Train on the actual race course or find a local trail that best mimics it.

7. Train with emotional engagement.

A large part of success is your emotional engagement with the particular event you choose. Always begin with finding the events you genuinely care most and then build your physical tools around that event - not the other way around. You should be interested in the community and other aspects surrounding the event, not solely your own performance on race day. Pick the races you are passionate about.

8. Train run-specific.

Your ultrarunning training needs to be specific to the demands of the event you are training for. Cross training can improve the quality of your life, but won't directly improve your ultrarunning. Hiking can be beneficial if your race strategy requires it. Other non-running activities may make you a better overall athlete, but you should not do them at the expense of your running.

9. Train by perceived exertion.

For various reasons heart rate is not a good training tool for ultrarunning. Your brain is the only training tool yet that can determine the correct interval and racing intensities for an ultrarunner. You can gauge intensity and workload by perceived exertion. It's the only accurate information you have available. It also happens to be the only information you need. And it's the ultimate in simplicity.

10. Train with a high-carbohydrate diet.

Forget fat adaptation. Although you can become more fat-adapted and burn more fat, you will arrive at the race with less fitness due to reduced training workload. It's better to eat a high-carbohydrate diet, burn less fat, complete higher workloads in training, and arrive at the race with greater fitness. High-carb diet will deliver energy quicker to working muscles, make you run faster, and help you go farther. The choice is easy.

I fully agree with Dean 'Ultramarathon Man' Karnazes, who writes in Foreword: "Training Essentials for Ultrarunning is a breakthrough work that brings together sound scientific principles and years of coaching experience to create the definitive training manual of our time."

I believe this book will help you achieve your goal, whether it's simply winning or just finishing with a smile. I surely finished this winner book with a smile, as I'll be now able to use all this information to better prepare for my future races. Highly recommended.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Daily Dozen or Die

I got introduced to Michael Greger MD in 2012 by listening to Rich Roll Podcast 007.

After that I started following Dr. Greger's videos on

Now there's this new book How Not to Die.
I've had the ebook on my iPhone for months, but only now got finished reading it. I knew the book shows how premature deaths caused by chronic diseases can be prevented through whole foods plant-based diet. As I'm already fully following this kind of a lifestyle, why hurry with the book, right?

I was so wrong. I found the second part of the book particularly beneficial. I was able to make several simple improvements in my diet that may have huge influence on my health and well-being in the long run. For example, the second strategy to cooking broccoli (video below).

I recommend the following half-dozen easy steps to get started:
  1. Order How Not to Die (check out the free PDF and audiobook Soundcloud sample)
  2. Study the book and find ways to improve your daily diet and lifestyle
  3. Download the free 'Dr. Greger's Daily Dozen' app to always keep with you on your phone and check daily that you have not forgotten anything essential
  4. Read how Dr. Greger answers 9 common questions in this interview
  5. Start following website and watch some of the thousands of awesome informative videos 
  6. Don't only not die - enjoy your healthy lifestyle by being active and happy!  

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Luukki Loop

Kaitalampi is a popular lake among open water swimmers because it's long, clean, deep and narrow. 

There is a nice and easy 'Seven Ponds Trail' 8K loop in Luukki. I ran it to kick off June and summer holidays.

One of many awesome ponds in the nature reserve along my way.

It was the Global Running Day - whatever that means. Anyway I was participating in this Strava Challenge.

Also the weather was great. I felt the pressure and urge to do more than the usual loop. Something unusual.

Lake Mustlampi is a must place to visit as many great trails run by it. 

The date was '1.6.16', so I decided to log 16 geocaches. Long story short, I succeeded - but it was a bit harder than expected.

Yes, I was stupid enough to attempt climbing this. Mosquitos made me do it!

For example, after going off-trail I got lost for a while. I wandered down in a valley with steep rock walls in the direction I wanted to go next. The other direction was impossible swamp with millions of mosquitos.

Standing on the Hauklampi boulders - these magnificent cliffs have to be seen in real life. 

After a couple of failures I managed to climb half-way up. It was hot, so I took a sip of water while leaning on a tree. Suddenly the whole tree cracked and fell down. I had not realised it was a dead old tree, because the sun was in my eyes. Fortunately I got all the way up safely and found a trail again.

A swan pair nesting along the trail.

After a long and winding route, I ended up in Pirttimäki. I hopped on a bus, which took me to the train station, from where I could get a train to another bus to take me home. Funnily enough, when I uploaded my Ambit data to Movescount, it claimed my ascent was 6141m in 26.7km run. It was an undulating route, but I couldn't have climbed more than 1000m at most.

When the same data was automatically imported to Strava, it changed to 919m ascent in 29.5km. I guess my GPS had got very confused when I dived in a deep lake surrounded by steep rock walls. C'est la vie!