Uncover your inner athlete!

Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be eaten.. Each morning in Africa a lion awakes - it knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve.

No matter if you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up you had better be running!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Heading into the taper

Only 5 more weeks (including this week) until this year’s Comrades Marathon. The one thing that I am most excited by is the week prior to the race where I will get to reacquaint myself with family and friends from South Africa. This week is always special as it is the time when I get to catchup and reminisce about times gone by. It is the time when the event seems so near and yet so far away at the same time. It is also a time that I relish but at the same time one that I don’t like as just as soon it will be over again and as all good things it must come to an end eventually. That is true also of any event that one prepares well for. The time must come when you do cross that finish line and stand alone in your thoughts. A time when all else seems trivial and you are euphoric. A time when time stands still and you know that you are not done, nor will you ever be done, but just for that brief second or few minutes you will know that you have conquered and that you preparation has served you well.

Running together – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Monday, April 25, 2011

Unique motivation to produce results

Recently I have been doing some reading about stories of the bush wars in Africa during the 1970s and 1980s.

A very interesting story that I came across was about two young men who had been conscripted into the South African army in the late 70s. They had an absolute tyrant of a commander and were stationed on a dust bowl base in the middle of the heat of Namibia. They had no idea about long distance ultra running but they soon found out that their commander was fascinated with the Comrades Marathon and put the word out that anyone from the unit who would train for the event would be exempt from doing his PT sessions for the duration of their training. Many in the platoon signed up thinking that this was their ticket to getting out of his hell sessions.

One by one they dropped out until there was only the two blokes left. They trained hard and got pretty fit, but still had no idea about the course or what they were going to face on the journey.

The commander then put out another word to them that if any of them ran silver, then they would be further exempt from PT for the rest of their two year stint on the base. Both ran silver as this carrot was just something that was too great to miss out on.

Running together – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Friday, April 22, 2011

The 2 hour marathon debate

The stunning run in the mens Boston Marathon this year by Geoffrey Mutai has again opened the discussion about a potential sub 2 hour marathon.

Experts have for a long time been divided on this matter and there are some that say it will just not happen at all. Current world record holder (albeit on a technicality) Haile Gebrselassie believes that it will be done, but not by him and only in about 25 years time or more.

To give you an idea of what one needs to do to get to the 2 hour marathon, it would need solid speeds of 13.1 miles per hour, whereas the current world record sits at 12.7 miles per hour. This is a significant jump and would take a very special talent to get there. Quite simply the combination on the day would just have to click and go so well.

As to possible courses for an attempt, the simple answer to this would be that they would have to be either London, Berlin or Rotterdam as these are the fastest traditionally (as we saw on the weekend Boston was great for a record but it does not count).
One would also have to assemble a top quality field of pace makers and throw a significant amount of money at them (not to mention the eventual winner) to bust themselves in the attempt to get someone under 2 hours. It is clear that anyone going under that magic 2 hour marker would not only write themself into the history books, but also have the potential to earn and incredible amount of money.

Who could do it one may ask? My money is definitely on someone from East Africa, with a slim possibility of perhaps someone from North or South Africa. The rest of the world just does not have the pedigree or the track record.

With the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa being 2500m above sea level and with a good climate, it bodes well for those training in that atmosphere.

A young Ethiopian with a very quick 5000m track time is my guess for the person to crack it.

Running together – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Achilles tendon fixes

The Achilles tendon is indeed a tricky little beast and having had some niggles with it this year during my Comrades training, I thought to share some of the things that have helped me.

Firstly it is important to note that the Achilles tendon and the Tibialis Posterior Tendon (the tendon running up the inside of the leg attaching at the ankle and midway up the calf) have very poor blood flow through them.

Pain in this area could be due to a lot of different reasons, but the test for Achilles problems is to pinch the tendon between two fingers and if extreme pain is felt then the Achilles is abit tender.

Many people advise administering ice to this area, but I have felt that if it is true Achilles problems, then sticking your foot in a bucket of hot water is far preferable. Remember that to heal this area we need to actually encourage more blood flow and not restrict it as one would do in the case of an ice bath or a swelling injury.

Diagnosing between a stress fracture and tendon problems is also fairly easy. Try hopping on the injured foot. If hopping is not possible and is the worst pain you have ever felt then don’t muck around and get to a doctor. If hopping with very little or no pain is possible then you probably have tendon problems.

The best way that I have found to build up the tendon is to do calf raises. Start with 3 sets of 10 if you can manage it. Then switch to single leg raises (also 3 sets if you can manage it). Following this try standing on a step (or stack of books) and do calf raises and drops (similar to above). Aim to finish with your heals dropped for about 30 seconds to really increase blood flow and strengthen those tendons.

As mentioned above, these are only my experiences and if you are in doubt, then you should immediately consult your physio or sports doctor.

Running together – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The passing of a legend!

On the same day as Geoffrey Mutai made the whole world look pedestrian, we are greeted with the very sad news that perhaps the greatest female athlete has passed on as the great Grete Waitz lost her battle to cancer at age 57.

This is a great loss to womans running and I am stunned that she passed while still so young. Life really is too short.

Her record included nine New York Marathon wins and two London Marathon victories. She set a 2.24 as her best marathon and set numerous records from 3000m to the marathon and cross country.

May she rest in peace.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The unofficial marathon world record

Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai did what few thought was possible in that he lowered the world marathon record by almost one minute at the 2011 Boston Marathon to finish in 2.03.02.

Good on him you may be saying – thing is that the record will not stand due to it not meeting international standards on 2 counts. Firstly there is too much downhill on the Boston course and secondly there was a massive tailwind behind him and hence these technicalities deem the record ineligible. It will however stand as a Boston record mark and in my eyes anyone who is capable of running 2.54/KM over the marathon distance is a legend even if they don’t have the world mark.
Interesting to note that he did this mark in his 6th marathon and debuted in 2.12. Bearing in mind Noakes notes that elites reach their peak in the 6th or 7th marathon means he could still have something left.

I would love to Geb and this bloke head to head over the marathon. The talent levels are amazing!

Running together – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Monday, April 18, 2011

The unpredictability of running

You never do really know what or who you will encounter when you head out and run.

Take yesterday for instance, I was cruising along nicely just minding my own business when a very speedy looking girl came past me like I was standing still. Intrigued by this I managed to chase her down and after we fell into conversation, she happened to casually mention that it was recovery jog pace for her – I was not wearing a watch, but we were in my mind easily at around a 4.15/Km pace and you could just tell that she was cruising and had so much more in the bank if required.
Now I am not going to mention her name on here, because I don’t think it fair without her permission, but it turns out she is a pretty handy runner and doing the 10KM in a touch under 34mins. Has not run a marathon yet, but with that time she has certainly the potential for a handy time.

Being interested in the theory of it all, I proceeded to punch her time into McMillan (although I don’t see him as being entirely the best predictor) and his calc says she should run the marathon in 2.39 all things considered. This is a remarkable time and one that would win most ladies marathons in Australia. In fact she would have come inside the top ten overall in Canberra on the weekend with that time.

Although when queried (before I let her disappear into the distance) she said she would not consider running a marathon, I do hope that sometime in the future she may reconsider as it would be formidable to watch her over the distance.

Running together – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Friday, April 15, 2011

True legends of our sport

Once in a while you get to witness something in life that not only makes you think again, but that also makes you smile.

Australians are known as a nation of people who like ‘to give things a go’. In sport and in life this philosophy is something that I truly love about this country. In fact one can equate this to one of my mantras in life ‘you will never know if you don’t give it a go’.

On Sunday at the Canberra Marathon I got to witness one of those truly good moments in life where you again are brought back to earth. A gent in his 40s started the marathon late and went on to record an 11th placing. Now that in itself would be enough for people to be impressed, but what made it all the more amazing was that he did it all while wearing a fishing hat and thongs and with no watch.

Quite how he was able to sustain a pace of 3.51/KM over that distance dressed as he was is something that I think he deserves to retain himself. I will leave it as a great story and think good on him for his achievement!

Running together – while witnessing things that make you rethink your views. Stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Age shall not weary them...

Old people continue to astound me. Many of you will recall that I recently shared about a training run where a blue rinse lady came out of nowhere and was having no problems keeping up with me over a 5KM portion of my run. Not wanting to ask her how old she was, I reckon though she was in her early 70s probably.

Last night I was alerted to the fact that another remarkable Canadian gent who recently turned 80 had completed a marathon on the weekend in 3.25.40.

Ed Whitlock again refused to let his age get in the way and rolled back the clock yet again to register sub 5mins/KM over the 42.2KM course. Ed is also the oldest person to have run a sub 3 hour marathon at the age of 74 he ran 2.58.

The video below gives you an idea of what he is capable of.

Glady Burrell of Hawaii is another amazing individual. Last year December she became the oldest female on record to have completed an official 42KM marathon at 92 years old. He time of over 9 hours is not flash, but then think to yourself... Could you be doing that at 92?

I am sure that we all could. The secret is staying positive, staying active and not letting society put you or your efforts down... EVER!!

Running together – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Canberra 50KM report

Sunday saw me complete my longest single run in preparation for this year’s Comrades marathon.

A group of us headed up to complete the Canberra marathon, which also offers one the option of heading off and completing a further 8KM to manage a short ultra of 50KM.

The weather was appalling with torrential rain beating down for the entire event and temperatures falling – for someone used to running in sunshine, this is just downright unpleasant. Many of my friends who originate from England and Ireland however remarked that they found the conditions were good. I can’t quite get my head around things, but despite the fact that I wore my Paula Radcliffe dri fit socks, even they could not stand up to this torrent of water. They did hold out till around the 22KM mark and then gave up the ghost and as a result my feet were prunes.

As far as time was concerned, I wanted a decent stretch on my feet in prep for Comrades and thought that anything under 3.20 for the marathon would be acceptable in the conditions and given that I had a heavy week the week prior and no real taper (coupled with a few ITB issues the week before).

It pleased me then to cross in 3.18 and also help a few strugglers towards the end to get under the 3.20 marker. My belief is that the conditions did impact times as none of my mates came near to their bests on the day (and they had prepared well). My theory is that most seem to have missed by between 6 – 12 mins off their best and this is about accurate I think.

All in all a decent enough run despite the fact that it was raining and there was no food available at the end. Also a great weekend away with some fantastic friends.

50K in 4.09 – not a bad day in the office by all accounts.

Running together – stride for stride on a life changing ride. – Sean Muller

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Zen effect of the run

Calm descends over me as I proceed to put one foot in front of the other in the quest for the white line that is 42.2KM away. I float as I run and with no watch – time stands still for those couple of hours and I am free. Free to do that which I love to and free from the constraints of modern life and stress. It is as if all in the universe is as it should be and nothing is out of place. I feel no pain – only exhilaration, peace and calm. Things are good. Very good. Life is good – life is exactly as it should. As if like a new day I am reborn and content. The earth feeds me and those that run with it and as part of it.

Running together – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My running muse

I first came across the concept of a running muse through some readings that I did a few years back.

It came as a surprise that this person can also work wonders in other aspects of one’s life to. I always feel better when speaking to my muse. She is just the most inspirational person and always full of wonderful help and guidance that she freely dispenses. It is not always what is said, but how it is said that helps me to become a fuller person.

Life is good again after talking to this person and I see things in a completely new light even if it has just been bouncing some ideas off of them.
A very worthwhile relationship indeed.

Running together – Stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Today is summed up quite frankly in one word REST. I woke this morning and had an intention to run, but had other things on my mind and a bit of headache and so rolled over, reset the alarm and listened to the body. It wanted to sleep in and that is just what I needed. A week out from the 50KM in Canberra and 8 weeks from Comrades, some friends have said that I should have forced myself out there. I have learned though that forcing oneself if you are not willing is not the best.

I have long ago taken on the advice of Fordyce and thrown the concept of weekly mileage out the window. As he says if at all in doubt then rather rest. Tomorrow the body will thank you.

Running together – stride for stride on a life changing ride. – Sean Muller

Friday, April 1, 2011

The final chapter in the compression socks saga

I have finally received my Nike socks that I ordered some time ago and tried them out on a suitably hard session yesterday (it was also raining) and found that not only did they provide the level of compression that I was after, but they also proved to be waterproof even though the product only claimed moisture wicking.

In short my conclusion is positive on a twofold level namely the ability to keep my feet dry and to provide adequate compression. I don’t normally endorse anything from Nike, but on this occasion I am breaking my own rule and although there have been a few smart comments from friends that my long white socks look like they belong to a matron in the National Health Service, I can endure this sort of ribbing for the sake of happy calves.

Running together – stride for stride (while wearing NHS style socks) on a life changing ride. – Sean Muller