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Running and Weight-Training

May 27th, 2010

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Don and I are training for the Western States 100 Mile Run this year! It’s coming up fast, and being so busy all the time, it’s hard to fit in those every day runs. So, we try to be pretty specific about our training. One thing that seems to make a big difference is going to the gym and doing workouts with weights. On the weight machines. Yeah, I know. I’m a runner, I want to run. The first time it’s so hard to convince myself to go there. There’s nothing to look forward to – no sweet smell of trail dirt, no happy birds, no purple and yellow wildflowers, just sweaty machines and bad music. But after a few times there’s a feeling of strength. And, when I do get out on the trails, finally, I can get up a hill without stopping for breath and without the horrible dead feeling in my legs. Insead of being a runner who says, “I suck at hills,” I feel respectably strong and able to push, even run, up those things.

The idea, of course, for a runner is not to bulk up or be top heavy, but to increase strength and tone of muscles, which also helps to burn some more fat. (Another goal is to get down to race weight, but that seems to be tough, too.) The self-designed program is a bit of everything, focusing on weak spots. Weight machines can help balance out muscles that get over used. For example, my quads get stronger from running, but the hamstrings are weak, so I always do hamstring curls. The upper body gets totally neglected, so that’s where a lot of focus is. Bicep curls? Ugh. A strong arm swing can help a lot with running. And core strength (abs and lower back) is important for holding your body upright.

Last year I didn’t do any weight training when I was training for the Headlands 100 Miler. I think my fastest time on one of our test trails was 1:27. That’s from the bottom of Rhus Ridge to the top of Black Mountain. I guess it’s not far – less than 4.5 miles, but it’s all uphill. Last week I ran it in 1:19! And I’m not done training yet.

So, the next strategic focus is to do a little more work on lateral strength, because guess what? The Western States course is full of snow right now. Hopefully it will melt quickly, but balance is going to be very important.

And no fear. Grrrrr.

Gillian

Running Unencumbered

March 14th, 2010

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I’ve mentioned to people that I’ve run to work. It’s really short (I’m lucky) – less than 2 miles according to Don. But if you do it every day it all adds up, so it’s good. And, since it’s so short, it’s a good opportunity to try out new shoes without worrying about overdoing it.

The other weekend I tried out the Vibram FiveFingers KSOs (again). I’ve run and walked and hung out in them some before, but it’s been about 6 months since I put them on. I get cold toes! And I wasn’t running for a few months. On Sunday I needed to get over to the ZombieRunner store to check on some things and rather than drive such a short distance, I ran. The other good thing was that I didn’t need my laptop, just some keys. So off I went with only that.

It’s a super light feeling to run in almost bare feet with no extra stuff. No water bottle, no backpack, no waistpack. I’m not sure if I was faster or slower, but I felt like running forever. This is the danger of the FiveFingers – over exuberance when your legs aren’t used to working that way. I sure felt it in my calves later. But in the meantime, on the run I was trying to figure out where exactly I should land on my foot and how exactly to get the heel down. Maybe the main thing is that even with low profile running shoes, we are still so used to having a heel, that no matter how you run in FiveFingers (or barefoot) it’s going to work your calves, just because the heel is now so low to the ground. So I tried not to think about it and basically land sort of midfoot and to the outside of the foot. That way I wouldn’t just tip-toe, which would really hurt my calves.

California Ave. has a year round farmer’s market every Sunday right in front of our store! Don turned up a little bit after I got there (and after I had cooled down) and we shopped for our breakfast/lunch and dinner items. There’s good stuff to eat right away like Raw Daddy’s cones, popcorn, baked goods, crepes, Indian food, and stuff for later like salad greens, micro greens (cool!), cheese, bread, roasted chicken and potatoes, other fresh vegetables, and a bunch more.

We had our breakfast patries with ZR coffee, fixed up the store for the upcoming week and headed for home.

Later in the day, we went on our real run, 2 hours or so out in the Los Altos Hills area. Sort of a road run, but dirt paths on the side of the road and a good amount of hills make it a psuedo trail run. I like it becuase there’s no driving involved. Just run out the door and in a short amount of time you’re in the hills!

Gillian

Morning Runs

February 25th, 2010

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The other morning I did something I haven’t done in a long time. My schedule doesn’t allow it very well. I have a zombie work ethic – about 3 am is often the time I go to sleep, so there’s no extra time in the morning before business hours. Anyway, I got up before I had to go to the Zombie store and went for a RUN. It was even raining. The way to motivate yourself to run in the rain is to have some cool new gear to try out. I figured California rain was the perfect test for the Golite Bookcliffs wind jacket. It’s not a water proof piece, but it has wind/water resistance in the front and is totally breathable (great when it’s pretty warm out) in the back. The back is actually the same material as the Golite baselayers. But the best thing about this jacket is that it looks great. It doesn’t ride up and fits really nicely at the waist.

The run was about 45 minutes, out by Gunn High School, waved to many dog walkers and only one or two other runners. I also tested some shoes we are considering: the Brooks Racer ST 4. If you had told me a couple years ago that I could run in racing flats, I would have said no way. But now with the theories of barefoot running and mid/forefoot strike, running footwear has taken on a whole different dimension for me. This shoe is a stability racer, so it still has a heel and some dense material to provide support. The forefoot is very flat and the upper is super light. The design is snazzy – shiney black and gold laces – which I’m sure makes you run faster. Probably the part I liked most is the lack of plastic overlays. The open toebox design means there’s nothing nasty to pinch my feet. Still, I wonder if this shoe would work for people who need a little more width. I wear standard width women’s shoes and the Racer ST was ok for me, but it’s actually a unisex shoe.

By the time my run was over, I had figured out how to run in those shoes and was very comfortable. I loved the jacket. It didn’t swish loudly like some other ones I’ve tried. No chafing either. I didn’t feel tired at all, and best of all, I had the whole day ahead of me. The morning run also helps with maintaining body temperature through the rest of the day. Something about getting your circulation going. So, yes, provided I can get to bed before 2 am, the morning is my favorite time to run.

Gillian

Initial Thoughts on the La Sportiva Raptor

February 5th, 2010

Raptor BlkYellow web[1]

If you put the Raptor side-by-side with La Sportiva’s Wildcat, you’ll see a lot of similarities. They’re built on the same framework – the outsole looks the same, same support system, same shaped upper. But there are some noticeable differences that will make all the difference to trail runners. One is the cushioning. If you thought the Wildcat was plush, (maybe too plush?) the raptor changes things by taking out the 2.4mm layer of LaSpEVA. Without the cush, the shoe has a low-to-the-ground, more aggressive feel to it. It also seemed like the heel-to-forefoot ratio changed, but that could be my imagination. The firm feeling compares favorably to the Crosslite, which is a super firm racing shoe.

The other difference in the Raptor is the TPU lacing harness. If the Wildcat felt a little wide in the midfoot, the Raptor snugs up nicely, “wrapping” your foot through the mid. This should add a bit more of that huggy feeling that’s apparent in the Crosslite and the Fireblade. Another cool thing is the type of rubber used on the outsole. It’s a stickier compound so it will work great on a course like, oh, let’s say the Ohlone 50K or even the Western States 100 Miler. Think slippery, rocky downhills that you can now cruise down with total confidence. Like the Wildcat, the Raptor has nice support from the heel cup through the arch and, as I’ve seen with all Sportiva trail shoes, the ankle collar is nicely done, causing no rubbing, slipping or ankle bruising.

Finally, the Raptor just looks cool. It’s clearly a La Sportiva shoe with its black and yellow, the logo blazing across the side. I’d put it right in between the Crosslite and Wildcat in its performance and cushioning ratings.

Gillian

The Green Silence Sure Doesn’t Look It

January 11th, 2010

Green Silence Shoe

So far, “Did Ronald McDonald design your shoes?” was the first question I got that gave me an inkling other people may not find the color scheme of the Brooks Green Silence racing flat as cool as I do. But I guess bright red and yellow aren’t for everyone.

Anyway, trends in minimalist footwear and eco-friendly production have come together to produce this shoe. Since I’ve been moving from super supportive (old Montrail Hardrock pre-09 and Continental Divide) to lighter weight trail shoes, I liked the idea of this shoe too. It’s not a trail shoe. The tread is quite flat. In fact, the whole shoe is quite flat. This suits my feet well, as I have low arches and like a wide platform. The fit of the shoe is roomy in the toe box and snugs up fairly well in the midfoot. The lacing system is asymetrical, with a one-sided tongue, but this stays in place better than expected.

For those who want a minimalist shoe, this racing flat might seem too cush, but the midsole is a single piece construction that has a flat profile. In other words, even though your foot is raised a little off the ground, your heel is not any higher than your forefoot. The upper is made of super light material that doesn’t create any pressure points. A big plus is that there are no heavy plastic overlays – this always scores points with me. At 6.9 ounces, the Green Silence is the lightest shoe on the ZombieRunner floor.

I took it out for a run around the block (I haven’t run very much lately) and after settling down a bit, felt happy in the shoes. I have yet to try them on a long run, but when I choose a pair of shoes to wear to the store every day, it’s the bright red and yellow ones that call to me. Here’s to happy running!

Gillian

Mission Peak Run

February 22nd, 2009

Gillian and I went out with my friend Brian for an early morning run on Mission Peak, over toward Sunol and back (almost to Sunol – Gillian and I had to get back to the store by noon). Brian snapped a few photos along the ridge on the way back.

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Zombies on the Track

November 6th, 2007

Track

I think most ultrarunners really dislike speed work or track work or maybe even work for that matter. Running is about enjoying the journey, and many ultrarunners prefer that journey on trails. But some amount of pain is enjoyable too. This morning Don and I went out to Stanford track for a little session, the first time in months (maybe years?). We warmed up and tried mile repeats. After all, as an ultrarunner, anything shorter wouldn’t measure on the scale ;-) Don did something like a 7:45 (I think) for his fastest. Mine was 9:10. Yikes! We used to be a lot faster. I remember doing 8 minute mile repeats consistently when I was seriously marathon training. We’re planning on more work over the next couple months.

I think when you have a job you don’t really enjoy, it’s much easier to get out and run. So… we Zombies never get out and run! We love our work too much. Part of the inspiration to get out and run now is to try out new products. I’ve been comparing running skirts and will have a report soon on my findings. Needless to say, the atalanta skirts kick ass!

Gillian

Across the Years into 2007

January 3rd, 2007

We’ve run at the Across the Years 24, 48, 72 hour event several times in the past, always doing the 24 hour run on New Year’s Eve. This time we did it differently. We drove to Phoenix two days before the start of the whole thing, and did our 24 hour event on the first day. That way, we could do whatever we wanted for the two remaining days of the event and celebrate New Year’s Eve with the runners and race volunteers. It was great to see a lot of familiar faces. Each person has some kind of personal goal, whether it’s super high mileage or just to survive. Everyone has a story.

So, even though my knee injury from a few weeks ago prevented me from running or even attempting ultra mileage, I was lucky to be able to walk the course for 23 miles and chat with runners, volunteers and visitors. I also got to see the medical volunteers do some magic and take care of a couple serious situations. In fact, Andy Lovy fixed me up early on and my knee is doing better than it was at the start of the race.

Don ran 101 miles, which means he has completed 100+ miles in every 24 hour that he’s run. After our 24 hours were done, we slept and caught up on emails. Throughout the race we visited several times, seeing how everyone was doing. Don took photos and I walked a lap with a friend every now and then. We made sure to be at the race for midnight to ring in the new year with everyone. We had champagne (or sparkling cider), wore party hats and watched terrific fireworks! Tradition is that everyone pauses and does a lap together. It was really great. We got some more sleep and returned for the finish of the race.

So after all that, we feel like we’ve properly welcomed 2007! All the best to everyone for the New Year!

gillian

San Francisco One Day

November 2nd, 2006

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We had a great time in San Francisco last weekend. We were the race sponsor for the PCTR SF One Day 12/24 Hour Run. It was a superb first-time event.

The photographs DC took are now up on our web site.

RDL – Running Dead Last?

September 30th, 2006

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So what’s more fun than running a hundred miler? Helping out at one, and seeing a bunch of your friends finish. We knew we would be there at the Rio Del Lago 100 Miler for Carmela, who we’d been coaching for her first 100, but as it turned out, we were also there for George, Jakob and Rajeev, also finishing their first 100s! The weather was warm but not hot, and with so many aid stations accessible by crew and supporters, it was a great way for us to spend a weekend with a bunch of friends.

For the first half of the race Carmela, Rajeev and Jakob all ran together in a happy group. Things got tougher later, but Carmela hung in there, while I was pacing and Don and Gus (Carmela’s husband and crew extraordinaire) gave her great motivation at each aid station that they could. Early in the morning Carmela put on the speed (so much that I couldn’t keep up) guaranteeing that she would make the final cutoff in the race. She had dug deep and found her reserves. Don paced the final 10 miles and Carmela finished with a beautiful smile. The rest of our runners came in after her, also smiling. I’m sure they are still smiling now. The runner’s high from a first 100 miler seems to last for a while. Congratulations to all the finishers!

gillian