2 June 2017

Long may we run

A fledgling business is said to be one that is immature, inexperienced and still underdeveloped. The definition certainly fits my little operation here in Japan but it also suggests that one should have all the time in the world to update their blog weekly. Not so my friends. As a good mate of mine recently said, I’ve been as busy as a one-armed taxi driver with crabs.

My running route had become a little predictable these last few months. It didn't seem to capture my imagination like it used to. I no longer noticed the quaint wooden arched bridge or the small town that modelled itself on a bygone Japanese village. I didn't even notice the river surging along after a recent burst of rain. Despite the course being dead flat, it felt stale and worn having run it so many times before.

A few weeks ago, a mate of mine shouted me out to a buffet lunch. His way helping me cushion the blow of turning 49. The restaurant wasn't that far from home. It nestled among the many hills that surround the city. We could’ve taken a bus but instead decided to walk. The trek up through a beautiful bamboo forest took no more than 30 minutes. The restaurants patrons were a mix of university teachers, administration staff and the general public.

It was on the walk home I found my new running route. Instead of the trail we’d used to get up the hill, we walked a cheery blossom tree lined road all the way down to the city. With a few minor modifications, I now have an 8km run that meets all my summer season running requirements. It's:
  • very steep. A 3km continuous climb followed by a 500m drop then climb again.
  • sheltered most of the way with overhanging trees or embankments of manicured gardens.
  • extremely quiet. In fact, at one point the road is closed entirely to cars. Just me bounding along in the shadows of one of Japans most elite university campuses.
  • of course, downhill too for the same 3km distance to finish. Essential to build pace into my workout and to increase strength in my quads.
  • a distance short enough to get out of the heat in Japan. 36 degree days in the peak of summer literally kills. That said the workout is hard enough in its intensity.

I’ve missed updating this silly little ‘runningraggedy’ site. I wonder why? I may not be running the distance or the frequency I used to but that's not to say I don't love it just as much as I always have. Am I getting better? We’ll see … I determined to try.

That's what we all strive for, right?

24 January 2017

Takatsuki City 10k ... 2017

I’d run just 8 times since the Sakai 10k, 2 weeks earlier. No speed work either and yet somehow I felt stronger. Perhaps it had something to do with the familiarity I now had with the 10k distance. The mystic was gone and with that came a confidence that perhaps the sub 40 was there for the taking.

I was lighter too. For the past 3 weeks I’ve been experimenting with the ‘two-meal a day’ lifestyle philosophy. Why? Well the obvious weight loss and weight control has its advantages. You see at my age having lunch in the middle of my sedentary working day didn't make a lot of sense to me anymore. I also liked the concept and rationale around intermittent fasting after watching a documentary called ‘Eat, Fast and Live Longer’. I read a fair bit about the topic online and liked what people were saying.

After a week of moderate struggle my body has adapted surprisingly well. Now, I only get hungry after my morning run when I have brunch at about 10.30am. I then eat nothing nor desire to until dinner at around 8.30pm. I’m down 4kg and couldn't be happier or feel better.

Or perhaps this perceived strength has something to do with the Zinc supplements I’ve been taking to help with muscle growth and repair. And perhaps I need to stop reading every fad online!

Maybe it’s all in my head which isn’t necessarily a bad thing I thought to myself as the gun went off. With my new-found self-belief, I started faster than I had a fortnight ago and ran the first kilometer in 3.47. A 4.02 followed and then a 3.49 and 3.58. I felt good too as I navigated the numerous short rises, falls and hairpin turns that dotted the picturesque course running parallel to a river.

The Charlie Horse does have a benefit if used correctly. Generally, they occur at the end of a race when leg muscles, which are so fatigued, relax and then painfully go into spasm. I’ve only ever had one incident before and if it were caught on tape it would be bloody hilarious to watch. Picture two arms and one leg thrashing about on the floor in every direction while one leg remains painfully contorted and rigid like a horseshoe.

When you feel one of these little devils coming on you do the only thing left to avoid disaster. Run like hell. I ran that last kilometer in around 3.40 crossing the line in …