Running is Harder in Japan

Today is my fasting day and I’ve just returned from the gym where I did an upper body and core workout designed by my fabulous personal trainer Renee at Falcon Anytime Fitness.  It was a great workout but when combined with the fatigue I’m still experiencing from yesterday’s long run, I’m finding it difficult to keep my arms in position to type.  Lifting up my water bottle is a challenge.

That aside, this post is about yesterday’s long run.  It was my first 10+ km run now that I’m back in summer weather.  In Lake Clifton, I knocked off a couple of 21 km runs and did them in a good time and fairly comfortably.  Yesterday’s run was quite different.

I had put three energy gels into the freezer after my last run and the unpleasant ‘hot salty banana juice’ experience of midway through the previous training session.  I had a bunch of podcasts lined up on my phone to listen to and I was really looking forward to going out and hitting the pavement for a couple of hours of running.

Due to the heat, I’ve been running in the evenings.  As I planned to run 22 kms, I knew it would take me a couple of hours so I didn’t want to wait too long but I also wanted to watch the West Coast Eagles game as I suspected it might be the last one we would win this season.  The game was planned to finish about 6pm so I was going to be out the door by then and back by 8:30pm which wasn’t too late.  In the end, I didn’t leave until after 6:30pm as mum rang to discuss the game.  She expressed her concern about me running at night but clearly wasn’t anxious enough to get off the phone so I could get going and get back at a reasonable hour!

The run started off great.  It was still light when I started so I ran down to the park behind Sankeien Gardens then back up Honmoku dori.  At about the 7km mark, I took the first of my energy gels and it was still cool and almost pleasant to taste.  It gave me a boost and I ran up Hospital Hill to the bluff.  By now it was dark but there were a lot of people out and about enjoying the warm summer evening so I was never in trouble.

By this time I was very sweaty and I could feel that my brand new sports bra that hadn’t caused me any problems whilst running in the winter climate the week before, was starting to slide around a bit.  Still it wasn’t hurting me and I kept going.

After about 10km I need to take a pit stop.  I don’t think this was because of the gel but merely because I hadn’t gone earlier in the day.  Luckily I was running by the Red Brick Warehouse and the quite excellent public facilities that are located there.  I used the disabled toilet because although I wasn’t that tired yet, I was still grateful for something to hang on to on the way down.

At the 14 km mark, I was ready to take my next energy gel and I was starting to look forward to a good long sit down.  Although starting to feel pretty tired, I was still confident that I would complete the run.  My RunKeeper app reminded me to begin running at a faster pace for the next 6 kms but I decided to ignore it.  My aim for this run was just to finish and I was already feeling it despite running slower than in previous weeks.

With just a handful of kilometres to go, I took my last energy gel at Yamashita Park.   A few minutes later, I really started to struggle as the stomach cramps began.  These were the type of cramps I was familiar with from my time in Ghana where I had leant the hard way never to trust a fart.  Despite my best efforts though, fart I did but mercifully that is all I did!

By now I’m more waddling than running.  I feel a bit nauseous and any left over energy is being channelled into keeping my butt cheeks clenched.  With my apartment building in sight, my RunKeeper app speaks the two most beautiful words in the English language – ‘workout completed’.

It had just past 9:30 pm.  I was exhausted.  When I g0t home, I took off my running gear to assess the damage.  I have four chafe spots on my chest and two on my back from my sports bra that made showering a very painful exercise.  My feet have begun to look pretty gnarly with old and new blisters, callouses and peeling skin.

Although I’ve run this distance before, this is the longest it has taken me to do so.  In three weeks, I’m running the same distance in a race on a mountain.  If the race was in wintery Lake Clifton, I think I could have a crack at doing it in 120 minutes but running is harder now that I’m back in Japan!

Longest run

The final waddle took its toll on my average pace!

 

Two Timing My Training

I’ve signed up for two training plans on my RunKeeper.  One is running for fat loss and the other is training to run a 10km race in under 55 minutes.  The first plan started immediately and the second didn’t start until last week and even then I skipped the initial runs as they were the same or easier than the first plan.  My thinking was that I could just skip the runs that doubled up for the couple of weeks that the plans overlapped.

Running horse

If only I had 4 legs, then I could do two runs at once!

But now, I’ve reached the point that I’m in the middle of both plans.  There is a lot of intervals or tempo runs that I don’t want to skip but I also want to space them with longer, easier runs too.  Finding the time to fit them all in is becoming tricky but I don’t want to stop using one of the plans because then I’d feel a bit like a non-finisher.  I’m supposed to take a rest day in between some of the runs but often now, I have two runs scheduled for the same day so I do the second one on the rest day.  This isn’t working well for me.

Yesterday I went for an easy 5 km with a few 20 second intervals at the end and it nearly killed me.  I think I’ve got shin splints.  So despite there being two runs scheduled for today, I’m taking the day off!

Image Credit:  cc licensed ( BY-SA 2.0 ) flickr photo shared by Photophilde

Terrible Timing and a New Toy

Tonight’s run was gruesome.  I’m starting interval training and I was excited too because it was my first run with my new toy – a heart rate monitor that syncs perfectly with my Runkeeper.  The run consisted of a five minute slow warm-up, followed by ten minutes fast, five minutes slow (walking pace) and then ten minutes fast again.

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Yamashita Park – a great place to run and an even greater place to sit!

The first fast interval nearly killed me.  I figured that ten minutes would take me around Yamashita Park about one and a half times.  My new heart rate monitor was telling me through my headphones that my heart rate was in the 80-90% zone which I looked up when I got home, and this turns out to be spot on for a fast interval.

Needless to say, I couldn’t talk.  Then my phone rings.  I pick up with a quick squeeze of the control on my headphones and I attempt to say something.

“I’m running.  Can’t talk.”

I hung up.  The phone rings again.

“Seriously!  I’m running.  Later!”

The five minutes of walking in between the two fast intervals was glorious.  It seemed to last forever and I had a beautiful view of Yokohama to enjoy.

The second interval was worse than the first although at least I didn’t get interrupted by phone calls.  I still managed to hold my heart rate up in the 80-90% zone for the whole ten minutes which wasn’t easy for me.  And at the end of the interval, I felt a bit nauseous for a few minutes and I was worried I might lose my lunch, especially since I’d spent a lot of time and effort making that homemade pesto from my home grown basil!

My favourite part of tonight’s run though, as always, was sitting on the bench at the park afterwards with my Procari Sweat.  Once I had rested enough to be able to talk again, I called mum back.

Image credit: cc licensed (BY NC SA) Flickr photo shared by Vincent Van den Storme

Avoiding The Runs

Colonoscopy?

I doubt my experience tomorrow will be any more dignified than this!

I’m following a training schedule on Runkeeper as I find that if I leave it up to myself, I’ll just do the least amount of effort possible.  This usually means a 20 minute run only every second day.  Today was supposed to be a rest day and I was supposed to do my interval run tomorrow, but I’ll be at the hospital all day tomorrow having my ‘anal probe’ as my sister calls it so I knew I had to do it today.

It is hot and humid in Yokers at the moment, so I’ve been doing my runs in the evening.  The optimal time seems to be 7pm.  I couldn’t do that today though, as I have to take the medicine to prepare me for tomorrow’s colonoscopy at precisely 7pm.  I didn’t fancy getting caught short half way around Yamashita Park, although it may have helped spur me on during the fast intervals!

Instead I got up at 5:15 am only to find that the temperature was already 27°C and sunny!  I completed the run despite feeling a bit sick halfway through the run.  I’ll be sticking to after 7pm for my future runs!

Image Credit: cc licensed ( BY-SA 2.0 ) flickr photo shared by Rollan Budi

12 Hours to Go!

Tomorrow morning is race day.

I had a semi-successful test on Thursday of my Runkeeper Live.  In order to view the real time race map, you need to have a Runkeeper account yourself.  This is free and you can sign up at runkeeper.com.

If you don’t want to do that though, you can still see my race except you will have to refresh the page to see my little blue dot move!  My Runkeeper page can be found here.

A link is supposed to appear on my Facebook page when I start the race, but this didn’t work during my test run on Thursday.  Instead a link appeared after I’d finished and declared that I had run a paltry 0.48 km instead of the 8 km that I had actually run!  So I think the safest thing to do if you wish to check on my progress is just go straight to my Runkeeper page itself.

The race begins at 9:37 am JST.  This is 8:37 am Perth time.  As for anywhere else, I’ll let you work it out yourselves!

You will have plenty of time to check in as I suspect it will take me at least two and a half hours to complete!  My goal is just to finish the bugger.

This evening I have spent the day sticking to my normal routine.  I had gnocchi for dinner which I also intend to have for breakfast in the morning and one glass of red wine.  I made sure I was at the end of the bottle yesterday so that I wouldn’t be tempted to have a second glass tonight!  It is all about preparation!

49 Days to Go – Crunch Time!

Here’s what’s happened since my last post, last year!

Runkeeper Away

I was really worried that my Runkeeper tracking app wouldn’t work properly overseas and at first, it didn’t.  So I didn’t track all my runs whilst in Europe over Christmas.  But after a couple of outings, I worked out that it does work if you manually set the country you are in.  The GPS can’t seem to work that out for itself which is odd since I thought that was the point of the GPS.

Training on Holiday

It’s not easy to keep to a training schedule when planes and trains are involved and you have travelled to an area of the world with only six hours decent light a day.  In the end though, I only missed three runs and shortened one long run down to 10 km.

I got horribly lost on a long run in The Hague at night.  I hadn’t sorted out the GPS problem properly at that stage either so that run turned out to take much longer than it was supposed to, mainly because I had to keep ducking into kebab shops to ask for directions.

Getting Caught Short in Berkel

I had only run a kilometre before I began to feel a bit “uncomfortable”.  Expecting this feeling to subside, I kept running.  After another kilometre, I began scanning the surroundings for useful facilities.  It wasn’t much longer before I started to include large trees and hedges in my search, anything really, that would afford me a bit of cover.  Unfortunately, the part of The Netherlands I was in, was devoid of any of these.

In the end, I was forced in desperation to cut my run short and head home.  I made it with seconds to spare.

Breaking Personal Records

This is the run I did today!  I’ve never run this far before in my life.  And it didn’t kill me!

photo

93 Days to Go

Tomorrow I’m going to do my first race for 18 months. It is the Run For the Cure in Tokyo and it is 10 km.


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Eryn Vorn

Now, here is the thing.  I’ve upgraded my RunKeeper to the elite for a bargain basic price of $20 for a year.  One of the perks of this upgrade is that people can follow my race live!  I don’t actually know what this means you can see so I kind of want someone to log on and view it while I’m running and then tell me what they could see.

So here are the details.

Watch Race Live

My goal is to run the race under 1 hour.  Yesterday I did 8km in 45 minutes so I’m hoping that I can do it!  Wish me luck!  🙂

 

111 Days to Go

Today is Sunday and Sunday equals distance!  Today I ran 13 kms.  This is the longest I’ve run so far this year.  You can check out my stats below or click on the picture to go to my RunKeeper page.

Now that the distance is increasing, my tight calves are becoming more of a hindrance, so I started doing some research into the problem.  It turns out that the problem could probably be solved by wearing good shoes and stretching a lot.  Not just before and after the run, but several times during the day.  I came across a lot of very dodgy looking videos on how to do this.  Here is a small selection.

 

I don’t know why, but all the videos seem to be made with the same poor quality camera work and be presented by Australians who are clearly winging it script-wise.  Despite this, for the last few days I’ve been stretching my calves at every opportunity in preparation for today’s run.

As for the shoes, I bought a new pair yesterday.  Unfortunately, although I bought the shoes in a sports store and I had successfully communicated to the salesman who didn’t speak English, that I wanted running shoes, he never put me on one of those machines that look at how your foot is when running.  To his credit, he did manage to find a pair to fit my gigantic western feet and give me a ¥4000 (~AUD $40) discount.

So when I ran today, my calves were much improved but my feet are now the problem.  Both my feet went to sleep and my right foot felt like there was a marble pushing on the ball of my foot.  When I finished the run, I removed my shoe and checked, but there was no such marble inside.

And finally, my underarm chafe is just getting worse!  Today I got new iPhone band chafe on one arm and t-shirt rubbing chafe on the other.  It won’t be long before I will need to start bandaging my arms before running.

On the upside though, apart from discomfort in my feet and arms, I didn’t feel tired really at all during the run.  I never got out of breath as I kept running at a comfortable pace and although the distance is a long way short of the 21 kms I will eventually need to do, I am beginning to feel quietly confident that I may be getting a train home on race day and not an ambulance.

128 Days to Go

After doing the Jillian Michael’s thing on Wednesday, I secretly thought that it wasn’t as tough as I had expected.  Sure, I had to do the push-ups the girls way and I wasn’t lunging at the speed of JM and her models, but I got through it and felt ok.

Yesterday when I got up in the morning, my legs were a bit stiff as was expected but that’s all.  I didn’t realise how sore I really was until I got off the couch at lunchtime and attempted to get dressed.  It took me 7 minutes to put my bra on.

It wasn’t a great day all round yesterday.  My SmartCoach had me down for a 8 km run that included a warm-up and a cool-down but the 5 km in the middle needed to be at a pace of 6:35.  I thought that would be fairly manageable for me and so it would have been if I knew the difference between pace and speed.  (Pace = minutes per km, speed = km per hour.)

I have my RunKeeper app telling me my current pace every 2 minutes.  During the warm-up, my pace is about 6:10 and because I’m a dummy, I thought I should speed up for the middle 5 km.  I do.  My pace goes down to 5:45.  I thought that the app must not be very accurate because I was definitely going faster.  I start running faster still until the next pace check where I’m at 4:55 and about to die.  I thought I could never sustain this pace for another 3+ km so I had to slow down.

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Then of course I notice that the pace check goes up and it dawns on me that pace and speed are two entirely different things and I’ve been going too fast the entire run.  I end up finishing the run with an average pace of 6:10 for the whole 8 kms which was much faster than I was supposed to run.

Last night I went to the Tokyo International Film Festival.  There are a lot of stairs in the Tokyo underground.  I took them like I was 80 years old with two fake hips and one leg shorter than the other.

Today SmartCoach has me down for a 3km run at an easy pace.  I think I’m also going to give JM another go today too, if for no other reason than to try and shift the lactic acid build up in my thighs and shoulders.  But right now, I’m sticking to the couch.

131 Days to Go

My SmartCoach app told me that today I was to do a 3 km easy run at a pace of 7 minutes and 35 seconds per kilometer.  That’s pretty slow.  My SmartCoach told me though that it is a mistake to run faster during this run just because I can.  I decided to believe my SmartCoach!

Next I needed an app to tell me how fast and how far I had run in order to

  1. know when to stop and
  2. know if I needed to speed up or slow down.

I found RunKeeper!  It is very cool.  I could set it to tell me through my earphones every couple of minutes how far I had run, for how long and at what pace.  Easy!

 

I met one of my running partners (Can-do Yandeau) for the run.  It has turned to winter here so I showed up in full-length tracky dacks and a hoody.  She’s Canadian so she came in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.

I’ve decided to log all my running with RunKeeper.com which is where you can check out my progress!