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Posts Tagged ‘Ransacker’

As I have mentioned before, some time ago I was lucky to have the opportunity to attend a talk given by the dynamic duo – Liz and Martin Yelling. You can read about the event here.

The talk wasn’t really aimed at people like me. It was a talk organised by the Yellings’ primary sponsor Adidas for a group of people who had won an opportunity to be given some high-level training tips and a free pair of shoes after a pretty cursory gait analysis. But Liz or Martin – I can’t remember which – did talk about something that is pertinent to everyone who runs and wants to be the best they can be. They asked us to each think about how big our training budget is. It is an interesting question; what are you prepared to give up in pursuit of your ultimate achievement?

Smoke? Well you’d better give that up. Junk food addict? A salad might help now and then. Three square meals a day? Might have to swap that for more smaller meals throughout the day. Working eighteen hour days? A job that takes less time will be required. Avid clubber out every Saturday until the wee small hours? That’s not going to help with the long runs on a Sunday. Getting married in two weeks?…

Well, I am getting married in two weeks, to the most beautiful woman I have ever met. And it is, without doubt so far, the most important thing I have ever done. It isn’t something I do every day. Indeed I never intend to do it again. And it takes time and commitment to organise a wedding – ask my fiancée because she is doing most of it. But I also have quite a bit to contribute and that is taking up both time and mental space.

The reality is that there are only 24 hours in a day and so as the wedding takes up more and more time, something else has to give. It isn’t going to be work – we are in a recession and every business needs to work harder than ever at the moment just to stay afloat. Oh and I have a wedding to pay for! Sleeping and eating are two of my favourite activities so they have to stay. And Julie and I have already stopped going out much!

So running is going to take a back seat for a couple of weeks. I will still try to run every day, unless I can’t… and then I won’t. The truth of the matter is that for the next fortnight I have no idea what my budget is, so I will spend when I can and when I can’t, I won’t. I think that one of the characteristics of my running has been a lack of flexibility and that has been useful to a degree. But foregoing parties and meals out and nights in and dancing and drinking is all well and good, because they will come round again. But the wedding… that is a once in a lifetime thing and I am going to do everything I can to ensure my new wife has a wonderful day.

It’s only two weeks after all and then I’ll start training for the Bristol half… I’ll have a HUGE budget by then!

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Tonight I was invited to attend a Q&A session at Nike’s running shop in London’s Covent Garden, where the legend Carl Lewis and one of the UK’s most exciting young track prospects – Perri Shakes-Drayton – answered pre-prepared and ‘from the floor’ questions. It was another wonderful experience and I got to chat to lots of brilliant people.

On Saturday just gone I ran the hackney Marshes Parkrun – a 5k blast round to blow away the cobwebs – in 16:42. And on Sunday I enjoyed a 2 hour run with another athlete coached by Nick Anderson.

And today I talked to people about running. Wrote about it. Read a book about running. In short I really indulged my passion.

What is the point of all this? Well, as earlier posts have explained, I have not been enjoying work and that has had a very negative impact on my running in particular. I have decided to reverse that trend. I will have to be strong and determined and not be diverted by doubt and fear. But hell! I’m a marathon runner… keeping going when the going gets tough is what I do. Keeping going in the face of adversity is part of the training. This, right now, is the next phase in the journey and I am really excited. So, London marathon – here I come!

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Through my association with Ransacker I was recently invited to a party (erm, well it was called a party, which was unlike any party I’ve ever been to) to view the new products being launched to the running community by Brooks.

It was a really interesting evening and the Brooks team in the UK are really lovely people – knowledgeable and enthusiastic. And Brooks produce a very wide range of products to cater for all types of runner. However the thing that caught my eye was the Racer ST5.

Having long been a fan of the ASICS Tarther, I don’t really feel the need to try to find an out-and-out racing shoe, but what I was lacking was a middle ground between my workhorse Mizuno WaveRiders which I use for everything and the Tarthers, which I reserve exclusively for racing. I hoped the Brooks ST5 would fill the void.

The shoes arrived from Brooks this morning. I immediately pulled them on (breaking the tag at the heel with the first tug, but they were free so I’ve little cause to complain!) and stomped round the flat for an hour. I appreciated the wide toe-box, snug heel, flat profile and light weight. These, I thought, could be interesting…

So tonight I ran home from work in them. 45 minutes easy is what Nick, my coach from runningwithus, has suggested and that seemed like the perfect opportunity to try these ‘racer-trainers’ out. The run home was lovely. The shoes are as comfortable as any I have tried. They provided great grip on the slimy wet pavements through central London and the things I had liked when I tried them at home all remained – roomy forefoot, snug heel, low profile and super light weight for a trainer with quite a bit of cushioning. So you can tell, I am pretty delighted with the ST5s.

And then the story gets better.

What I haven’t mentioned yet is that the Brooks ST5 incorporates a propriatory material in the sole called BioMoGo – the world’s first biodegradable midsole (unless you count the sandals worn by the likes of the Tarahumara of course – they’re pretty biodegradable). The fact that some of the technology from Brooks Green Silence is filtering through to their other shoes is a reason to jump for joy. The fact that I seem to have found a shoe that fits between my super-light racers and my heavy protective every day shoes, that happens to give a shit about the planet is a reason to run and jump for joy. So thanks, Brooks, you’ve made a really lovely shoe and I reckon I’ll be giving them an outing at the Great Bentley half marathon in 10 days. I’ll report on how me and my new orange movers get on.

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A few weeks ago at the London marathon expo, I was lucky enough – thanks to a great chap called Carl Austin at Ransacker (check the site out for great deals on shoes and more wittering from me!) – to meet members of the ASICS coaching team. There were podiatrists, nutritionists, athletes and a chap called Bud Baldaro. Bud is a legend in the endurance coaching world and has contributed to the success at international level of a number of athletes. There is even a facebook group called The Bud Baldaro Appreciation society set up by athletes he has coached, which now has 565 members. It was a privilege to meet him and ask a few questions about my running and Bud was kind enough to give me his email address if I had any questions… which of course I did. So I sent off my email but realistically didn’t expect a response; Bud is a very busy man after all.

Imagine my surprise then, when I received a response from Bud inviting me to a meeting that he was attending in London. It wasn’t clear exactly what the meeting was about, but I wasn’t about to squander the opportunity to meet Bud again (and probably pose the same question as I did the first time I met him – how do I run the marathon faster?) It turned out that the meeting was actually a group of level 3 coaches meeting to discuss their roles, frustrations and plans as coaches trying to help athletes achieve their potential.

I was determined that I would get as much info as possible to help build a case for a different type of coaching at my club. One of my concerns has been the issue of targeted coaching because my club is renowned for its inclusivity. But it seems that there is nothing wrong with coaches having a core-and-mass approach to coaching where a core of runners are given special attention and anyone else who is semi-serious about their running receives more general advice.

We also talked about remuneration – little did I know that the majority of coaches have traditionally been volunteers. This seems to be changing with the emergence of coaching companies like Full Potential who offer a coaching service more akin to that one would find in swimming or tennis or, indeed, triathlon. But still the old school coaches seem determined to continue offering their decades of advice and experience for free, or simply for the great feeling that comes from being part of an athlete’s success.

So it was a very inspiring evening and it has further illuminated the path for me as far as running is concerned. I am clearer than ever that I can achieve more – sub-2:30 in the marathon, a top 50 finish in the London marathon, sub-70 for the half marathon are all in my mind – and more convinced than ever that I would benefit from coaching. And also that in years to come I would love to offer advice and the lessons I have learned to runners aspiring to be the best they possibly can. I love it when the path becomes clear like that, now all I have to do is run down it!

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The Paris marathon was a personal triumph. I had set myself the target of running the race in under 2h45m and finished in 02:43:55. I was 221st out of 31,500 runners. I finished tired and hurting but elated at the same time. And I finished knowing something – that I want to continue trying to improve my marathon times.

For the first week after the marathon, the thought that I want to do more was subsumed by my priority to indulge and recover. However the future was always present, not far from my thoughts.

Two weeks after Paris was the London marathon and supporting my girlfriend and following club mates in the lead up to one of the greatest marathons in the world, in my city, was an irresistible spur to consolidate my feelings about what was going to be next for me. In particular one event made me realise that I am not even close to finished trying to improve in the marathon. Thanks to Carl at Ransacker I won the opportunity to meet a team of running experts that ASICS had brought together at the London Marathon expo. The person I wanted to talk to was Bud Baldaro, UK Athletics’ endurance running coach (like a good student I had even written questions for him). Bud spent at least half an hour with me and asked me about my typical training programme and what I wanted to achieve. His pronouncement at the end of our meeting sent tingles up my spine (and ‘no’ I’m not writing it down, not yet anyway).

So now it is over two weeks since Paris. I have had much wine, an abundance of great food and plenty of rest. I feel physically and mentally ready for the next set of challenges. I feel ready to try to fulfill my potential. I know it will not be a smooth road, but I am ready for the trials and tribulations, the inevitable set-backs and the moments of exhilaration. I know there will be self doubt. There will be times when I cannot remember why I signed up for all this. But, like an almost imperceptible hum in the background, there will be the decision that I am going to do the best I possibly can. As long as I can tune into that certainty – remember that in making the decision to push myself as hard as I possibly can I have eliminated all other possibilities – I will get through the tough times. I can’t wait to get started!

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Well, having gone from being so terribly embarrassed about everything I wrote that I didn’t even tell the Swiss that I was writing a blog, to now tweeting about new blog posts, yesterday I took another, massive step – I have written my first guest blog post on Ransacker: You can read it here.

Ransacker is a brilliant idea – a completely independent site where, in the words of the founder “the site [is] to be user managed; they recommend deals, alert us to discrepancies and advise other runners. And in return we will provide them with great content, the best prices…” basically I think Ransacker (which you can check out here) will become a hub for the running community – and let’s face it, who isn’t interested in finding the best priced kit? Check it out if you get time and look out for my next post there!

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