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!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Old school training

A friend of mine has improved in massive leaps and bounds in the marathon over the past year and curious as to know the reasons behind his success, I chatted to him about it today.
His ideas while seeming simple enough on the surface, actually would be quite hard for the average person to replicate and certainly one would have to take things very easily at the start if one was to try.
He has embraced some old school Emil Zatopek style training during one of his sessions in the week. During this session he pretty much breaks all of Noake’s rules about repetition training. His crazy session (done every second week) comprises a mind boggling 25-30 x400m at a decent clip with a 45 second jog in between and then 10x200m with a 40 second jog in between.
All of this off of a 3km jog warmup and then jog warm down.
This he feels has helped him to maintain power and speed throughout the later stages of the 42KM race. Can’t argue with his dramatic improvements, but as he has said to me ‘Sam you will need company for the initial sessions of this nature as they are brutal.’
Running together (while embracing old school training) - stride for stride on a life changing ride -- Sean Muller.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The first long run back

This morning was the first of my longer runs back. I had intended it to only be around 15KM, but once I got going, I found that I was feeling so good that I decided to press on and make it an even 21K. Not at all fast, but just content to take in the great day around the harbour. Nothing beats a clear winter’s day around Sydney harbour. The sun was shining and just a hint of a breeze but safe from the sometimes stifling heat that occurs through the summer months.
This sort of weather is my favourite to run in. The wind clears the head and you can really just zone out of life and press on.
Ah Sydney - it really is ‘no worries’.
Running together (while enjoying the winter sunshine) stride for stride on a life changing ride. -- Sean Muller

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Back into the gym - promoting injury free running

Now that I have been getting back into the training slowly but surely, I always believe in building the body in the repair stage. Not only is nutrition extremely important during this phase - lots of protein and general fresh foods, but the gym really comes into its own during this stage.
Granted I do gym work all year round to supplement my running and to keep the body fit, strong and injury free in general, but this is always secondary to my running. Over the next few weeks I intend to build the mileage slowly again while focusing more on strengthening and stretching. I have also fallen in love with the tapping out of the cortices since being introduced to it by my lovely massage therapist, but more about that in a later piece.
It amazes me how people think that because one is able to train and complete a hard ultra marathon, that one is bullet proof and should be expected to be up and training hard again the next day. THIS IS WRONG! And will not only cut your running career short, but will also ensure that you spend a lot of time recovering from injury.
Even when reentering the gym, I am reluctant to go massively overboard and will only stick to the routine and amount of repetitions that I am comfortable with.
Asked about a very simple weights routine that is good for running, the below is what I do year round - generally setup as a circuit and performed 4 times with 10 - 15 reps in each set:
1. Warm-up through stretching and dynamic stretching and about 15 minutes on the bike.
2. Decline pushups off of a gym bench (or chair at home) - sometimes I do these as Spiderman pushups.
3. Alternating leg lifts (seated on a bench) to encourage full range of motion in legs.
Tricep bench dips
4. Bicep curls with light weights (runners don’t need bulk)
5. Bicep arm swings with light weight (in the motion of running) - concentrating on the backwards thrust yields best results.
6. Full range situps performed on the exercise ball.
7. One legged squats off of the bench - these are my favourite for building balance and preventing the dreaded ITB injury.
8. Warmdown again through stretching and dynamic stretching.

I also perform full range calf raises on the calf machine (3 sets of 10) and hamstring curls using the Swiss ball or the machine.
Used intelligently and in conjunction with your running, this simple program can and will help you to remain strong and injury free.
Running together (while staying injury free) - stride for stride on a life changing ride! -- Sean Muller

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Renewing passion for the run

Having completed the Comrades Marathon only 14 days ago, I have been doing what I normally would after this arduous task - resting and repairing the body. This has been a chance to eat extra ice cream and not feel guilty and also to partake in things that I didn’t get to do while training and racing hard - reading, writing, increased meditation, experimenting in the kitchen and the like.
Yesterday and this morning though I did break my own rule and headed out on a couple of quick runs. Monday was a short and sharp flat 10KM and this morning a hillier 6KM. Both were highly enjoyable and although the legs were humming, I think a little more rest and relaxation is not going to go amiss either. As Fordyce always says - rather too much rest than anything else.
I know though that one should also listen to the body both when injured and when coming back from a hammering. It will tell you when you are ready and judging by the twitching in the legs yesterday, they were ready for another run. Experiment with your own recovery, but recover nonetheless. Especially as we get older, we must make time for recovery. The body will only get stronger and more adept to handling the hard training if we build it in blocks or cycles.
Running together (while building the body in blocks) - stride for stride on a life changing ride! -- Sean Muller

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Heroes of Comrades 2012

On Sunday 3 June, 16000 heroes lined up at the City Hall in Pietermaritzburg to start the 90KM Comrades Marathon run down to Durban. Of these people, generally only about 13000 would complete the course within the allotted 12 hours. Not everyone can complete the course as this is just the science of matters. As much as it pains, there will be some at the finish clutching that precious medal and there will be some that just won’t. You see Comrades is not like most other races, where the event stays open until everyone gets their medal.

Each year there will be a whole number of heroes who battle it out to the death. Now don’t believe me, just have a look at the video below to witness what goes on at the death of the race.

Running together, while old school trying to beat the gun - stride for stride on a life changing ride! -- Sean Muller

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The bravest and most inspirational person I know

I would like to share with you the story of the bravest and most inspirational person that I have met.

This is the story of my remarkable friend Linda. Two years ago I met Linda through the Coolrunning website here in Australia when she was getting prepared (and excited) to complete the Canberra 50KM road race. At the time I didn’t know it, but in the past preparation for Linda would have been extremely comprehensive and you could almost certainly bet that she would have finished up in the ladies rankings, if not winning the entire event.

That year was different though as Linda detailed her plan to walk the 50KM with her sister. Having been diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s, Linda may not have been able to run, but by goodness was she going to complete the event walking. Controversial infighting between organisers caused the event to be cancelled and Linda was understandably disappointed.

On that occasion a group of us decided that the decision was most unjust and decided to hold our own event for Linda to complete her goal. I thought this would have been the highlight of my running career, but that was until this weekend when another of Linda’s dreams came true in her quest to complete the course of the ultimate human race, The Comrades Marathon.

Some months ago I was approached by a mutual friend with the idea that we should get Linda out to not only witness the Comrades, but also to walk the course. Obviously I was enthusiastic, but a little concerned by the logistics of it all. My worries were not at all warranted though as everything came together last weekend when Linda crossed the finishline to rapturous cheers. There was no recorded time (due to her starting early), but what there was was a big smile and a feeling of elation at completing something that she wanted to do while she was still running.

You see 2012 Comrades was never going to be about me or my own selfish needs. It was about putting those things aside and accompanying my friend on her journey.

Running together - while sharing the magic of Comrades with friends - stride for stride on a life changing ride! -- Sean Muller