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!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Soft serve ice cream and crumpets - secret powerfood

Everyone searches for that secret piece of food, equipment or science that will enable them to attain a certain edge in endurance sports. I am continually experimenting on myself to determine what may work and what not. Fat, carbs, magnesium and vitamin supplements and raw foodstuffs all feature.

The past few weeks has seen me having significant success through eating crumpets and Cold Rock ice cream. I am not sure what it is about these foodstuffs that is agreeing with me, but it is helping me immensely.

Talking to an old time ultra coach that I know, he has mused that it could be because of the fat content contained in these products. He himself advocates the eating of savoury and sweet during ultra events including cheese and salami sandwiches. This diet is not dissimilar to the one that Greatheart Newton used during his Comrades victories on the 1920s, but we seem to have forsaken it in the modern era in favour of using fancy gels and the like when training and racing.

It would be interesting to hear what foodstuffs have worked for you during your training and racing.

Running together (while trying old methods of nutrition) - stride for stride on a life changing ride! -- Sean Muller

Zimbabwe's only Ironman

With the Comrades approaching I thought it only fitting to focus on Zimbabwe’s only Ironman champion (who actually is a woman) - Paula Newby -Fraser. Why choose to focus on an Ironman champ when Comrades is an ultra distance run? Quite simply because Paula, who is known as the Queen of Kona admitted to learning much of her training techniques from the Comrades King Bruce Fordyce. It is amazing how one sport can learn so much from watching another sport and their champions.

The video below from 1995 proves just how brutal the Ironman can be, with Newby-Fraser finally having her unbeaten streak broken. The following year though she did return and once again was crowned Queen of Kona. Spine tingling stuff really. We have all been in those periods of down, but it is how we bounce back that defines us and how we choose to live our lives.

Are we prepared to just sit back and live the humdrum life or do we get back up, test the limits again and in the process learn more about ourselves? I know what I would do - what do you do?

Running together (while testing the limits) - stride for stride on a life changing ride! -- Sean Muller

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The ANZAC run

Ever since I moved to Australia I have made a point of doing a longer run on ANZAC Day as a way of commemorating the Australian lives lost in wars through the ages. It is also an ideal way for me to spend time with friends in a healthy environment.

No matter how far I run on these days, I always know that any pain that I feel is a far cry from all the sacrifices that have been made by others in the past to ensure that we can enjoy our liberties in this great country of Australia. Pace on these runs matters not – it is all about connecting once again with those that have gone before us.

This morning was all the more enjoyable as a friend of mine overcame a particularly tough course to finish strongly and complete something that she did not think she could. A truly phenomenal thing for her.

It always amazes me how far people can run if they set out with the appropriate pacing strategy for their fitness and stick to it.

It also amazes me why so many people would choose to not participate in their ANZAC exercise traditions. It would be intesting to hear what traditions if any you have in terms of exercise on ANZAC day.

Running together (while remembering sacrifices for our liberties) – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Recovery from a marathon

I have been asked many times about how one should recover from a marathon and the answer is varied.

Ideally once you have crossed the finishline and run your best time on the day, you will head home and relax on the sofa for the next week doing no intensive exercise whatsoever (a casual stroll or two in the week is fine or some swimming). Don’t think about training or running during this period – enjoy the downtime. Read a book, mow the lawn or spend time with the family or friends – make up for the times during your training that you couldn’t do these sorts of things.

The second day after the marathon, one should try and get a sports massage from a qualified masseuse. Don’t go straight after the marathon – rather do the post race ice bath for two nights (day of marathon and day after) and then go the massage route. This will aid the recovery significantly.

Those worried that their fitness may slip during this time, fear not – as covered in previous posts, it is scientifically proven that fitness takes 10-14 days of doing nothing to slip.

In an era of increasing ultra runners using the marathon and short 50KM ultra as a training run, these athletes may wish to start training again in the week after the marathon. They should of course be careful to slack off a little to walk that fine line between overtraining and injury and great fitness.

For this group of people, I advise always go out of the marathon as they came in. For example if they ran 30KM (3x10Km) during the week of the marathon and then the marathon itself, then it is safe that they could run 3x10KM the week after (with care), but also being careful not to run too long the weekend after the race.

Eat well in the post race week – not junk, but following your normal good diet and ensure that you get adequate rest to help to heal the body.

Mass quantities of alcohol is not a good idea post race as this will only inhibit repairing of the muscles and the dehydrating properties will cause you to become even more sore. One or two drinks are fine, but best to keep a lid on the celebrations till you are feeling less sore.

Enjoy your time out and know that again it is proven that if you want to achieve the very best that you can do in the marathon, then it is best to not race more than 1 of these per year.

Ultramarathons are again a different animal and if not treated with respect, they will hurt you more than you think.

Running together (while showing respect to the marathon) – stride for stride on a life changing ride --- Sean Muller

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Canberra Marathon 2012

This weekend was one of the most enjoyable in my running career. It had all the elements of why I still run even though my competitive days are well and truly behind me.

I headed down on a road trip with friends to Canberra for the 50KM road race that I have completed now a few times. Most of them had always completed the marathon portion of things in the past, but have never gone on to complete the short ultra that is the 50KM.

This year the organisers approached me to act as a pace target for the 3.30 grouping, and knowing that I had done a 42KM training run a few weeks back, I was confident that I was in good enough shape to take on the task successfully and comfortably.

The start of the event was the usual frenetic chaos that comes when organisers run a half marathon at the same time as a full marathon.

I got the bus moving quite well at first and there was clearly many people who thought they had the training and ability behind them to be able to complete their time goal. My pointer usually for 3.30 is that one should be able to run 45minutes for the 10KM and then you are in with a shot at things.

Long story short, my mates all managed to complete the 50KM with relative ease, proving to me that you can complete a 50KM race off of just using a marathon training program.

The highlight for me though would have to have been the 3 folks that started with me and stayed the distance the whole way to finish ahead of me – one of these blokes was on his debut and although I had my doubts, he showed some massive heart to gut it out to the end for a great result on debut.

This folks is why I run – a simple day of seeing my mates at the pointy end of the field doing their thing and of making new friends mid pack and seeing the genuine growth of love for the sport of distance running grow in people I had only met.

Running together (while making new friends on the course) – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Going into camp

With only 6 days to go until some of my good friends attempt their first 50KM road race, most of us have gone our separate ways over this Easter break and largely I have been happy with this week’s training of 105KM, not overly high, but then it did include two punishing track sessions which I love, but as I get older I struggle with the idea that I can’t bash out those 200s and 400s as quickly as I did in my youth.

My main focus this week will be to drop back abit as I enter in to what I like to call the camp phase. This will leave me fresh enough to offer a good service to those that I am pacing this coming weekend. I always encourage my charges to do this as well. It is the time before a major event where we spend as much time in solitude and self reflection as we can.

It is the time when I watch all my favourite videos, listen to favourite albums and read about philosophy.

I also spend an increased portion of the day in meditation, drink tea and get inside my own head.

This all prepares me for what I may face on the day and allows my body, soul and spirit to be fresh enough to not only run, but also to muster that animal instinct of WANTING to run. For me there is a big difference between just running and that want and urge from inside to run.

How you spend your time in your own camp is up to you, but one thing is for certain is that we will all do better from slacking off somewhat and spending time in solitude and self reflection prior to a big event.

Running together (while spending sufficient time in solitude and self reflection) – stride for stride on a life changing ride! –Sean Muller

Friday, April 6, 2012

The trappings of Easter

The trappings of Easter are large and all around us.

Everywhere I go during the past week, people have been offering me chocolate eggs (big eggs and little eggs or variations of bunnies and hens and the like). These sweet temptations are all around us.

Luckily for me I don’t have a sweet tooth and hence the chocolate does not tempt me, but I must admit that I do have a little penchant for the odd hot cross bun. I really have to balance eating these with an increase in my training to counteract weight gains.

One thing I find increasingly intriguing is how people can consume some of the large quantities of chocolate eggs that there are out there. For example I saw a bloke buying a 5KG Lindt bunny yesterday at the supermarket and carrying it out. Now clearly he was thinking that that bunny was going to win him some serious brownie points, but I stagger to think that one person would be able to consume such a thing over the Easter break. Imagine the caloric intake and what you would have to do to burn that off. The mind boggles really.

Do the chocolate manufacturers have something to answer for in our battle of obesity? Sure they are out there to make a profit, but a 5KG piece of chocolate is just ludicrous really.

While there is nothing wrong with celebrating or observing the festival of Easter, it does seem that like Xmas it is an excuse for some to overindulge to the point of making themselves ill.

Running together (while moderating intake of Easter eggs) – stride for stride on a life changing ride!—Sean Muller

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The horse has fallen

This week I heard some very sad news in that Caballo Blanco of fame from the Born to Run book and who helped the Raramuri people of Mexico to attain some profile on the world stage for their prowess in long distance running had passed on to the large place in the sky.

Quite simply this chap epitomised the spirit of running and the Korima spirit of the Raramuri people that he lived with. I have previously posted some videos of this great chap on my site and I guess that all that is left to be said is through the below video where Caballo extrapolates on what he was all about.

RIP friend of the running community.

Running together (while remembering good people who have passed) – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Grass roots community running events

Most people that know me know that I have become increasingly disillusioned with large corporate run events on the running calendar.

As stated many times previously, these events, although large in size and backed by the dollars of large corporations, often overlook the runners and the community and some of the decisions involved in these continue to astound me. Sure there are many good marketers and business folk involved with these large organisations, but they often lack the insider knowledge of actual runners in knowing what is needed and when. Increasingly they are also overpriced and hence why I have crossed many off my list in favour of smaller out of the way little runs.

One such event was this morning’s 5 and 10KM Rotary Lindfield run on Sydney’s north shore. Renowned for being a slower 10KM course due to a few nasty little inclines and some winding twists and turns, it was a great hot out nonetheless. Fantastic volunteers, great weather and all round a great day out and all the money going towards benefitting the local community.

It certainly was great to see such a good turnout at a quality event and so well supported. I was even surprised by my finishing time, but I am not going to bore you with my race details.

So good to see grass roots running at community events is alive and well.

Running together (while supporting grass roots events) – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller