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An interview with Kilian Jornet

Here it is, for those of you who live in the wrong country .. or those who missed out on the December 2011 issue of August Man magazine.

The article I wrote has been shortened from the original version, and the trail shoe reviews were brief due to space constraints, but we’re looking to put up more in-depth reviews on AugustMan.com and my shoe reviews for Hoka One One (Bondi B and Mafate)  and Inov8 (Road-X 233 and F-Lite 230) are still to come.

Hope this helps with 2012 New Year resolutions to get out on the trails!

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Where has the time gone?

Wow. It’s been nearly two months since my last post .. and so much has happened in that time.
After my last post (TNF Blue Mountains race report), I headed to Hong Kong for work and some trail running. Wasn’t really sure how my foot would hold up, I’d been off running for 4 weeks by then. Last visit to the physio before I left and he said I could do a couple of runs … well, ok. He said I could do one run and take it easy, but maybe it would be ok to do another one if I rested a day or two in between. Oh, and I also got a new pair of shoes .. as recommended by Simon the Physio … the Brooks Cascadia 6. I’m not meant to be running in minimalist shoes till my foot is better. My lovely Inov-8 X-Talon 190s are still languishing in the box! 🙁
Cascadia 6, fresh out of the box!
 I only managed to explore the HK Trail (no time to go further), and got a couple of runs in. The second run was better, mainly because I had Mat as my tourguide. I met Mat in Sabah during the Ultra-Trail (where he was in the lead until an ankle injury). So lucky for me he was still running slow, or I’d never would’ve been able to keep up!
Views of the Bay from the HK trail

Well sign-posted!
Lots of stairs

Had a great time in HK with all the amazing food and catching up with friends, and a great couple of test runs to make sure my UTMB aspirations were still (almost) on track!

BTW, didn’t think I would like the Cascadia as much as I do .. they’re a nice grippy shoe which work well on most surfaces and don’t feel too padded out. Still prefer my minimal shoes, but these are definitely growing on me!

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A bump in the road

There’s me thinking I’m feeling strong, running well, and out of the blue I’m sidelined with my first injury in over a decade of running (yes, I’m that old!). Not the best timing, but it’s 12 weeks to UTMB so there’s still all to play for. Thing is, I haven’t had a running injury since I started triathlon in 1993! Injuries from falling over or crashing into stuff, yes. But from running? Not that I can remember. So despite knowing all the theory of rest, ice, compress, reduce mileage blah blah blah, I find myself in a novel situation and having to find alternative coping mechanisms to deal with this. It’s been 5 days and I feel like a junkie with withdrawal symptoms.

Had an increasing pain in my left foot since last Thursday, after my first trail run since coming back from TNF100 Oz. I didn’t have any pain when running so carried on with my scheduled runs including the Passion Run at the weekend. The pain got worse with walking each day, enough to cause me concern as any soreness I get from running is usually gone the next morning at the very latest.

Rest day on Monday – pain still there.
6 mile tempo on Tuesday – missed on coach’s advice
16 mile run on Wednesday – also missed .. finally manage to get an appointment with Simon Raftery at In Touch Physio. Going a little crazy by now from the enforced rest and worrying about lost mileage .. argh.

Simon reckons it’s plantar fasciitis, with an inflamed posterior tibial tendon .. hopefully in the early stages and nothing torn, but no running till Monday … I’m losing 77 miles this week! One of the main causes of plantar fasciitis is “repetitive loading on the feet from long-distance running, especially running downhill or on uneven surfaces”, and “shoes with poor arch support or soft soles” .. Guilty on all counts.

I think the crazy terrain at TNF Oz gave me more of a souvenir than I bargained for .. especially after conditioned to the gentle undulations at MacRitchie! Plus I rarely wear shoes with more than minimal cushioning, and my stretching regimen does leave a lot to be desired .. it’s all come round to bite me on the ass now! .. or should that be on the foot .. 😉

Anyhow. I’ve orders to do a daily mountain of stretches, I’m going to make friends with the exercise bike at the gym, and I have to wear arch supports all week, including inside the house, till my next physio date. I’m now the proud owner of a pair of Salomon Rx Break flip flops .. my new house slippers! According to Salomon, they’re “a performance recovery shoe for trail running disguised as a light weight flip flop. RX Break helps your feet recover from the end of your run until you’re chilling in the hammock.” Just what the doctor ordered, then! now I just have to get a hammock …

Salomon Rx Break .. great house slippers with arch support 🙂

All this enforced rest means I have time to twiddle my thumbs and read the latest issue of Trail Runner ..

A welcome distraction …

To add insult to injury, my lovely new Inov-8s have arrived .. the X-Talon 190s. Aren’t they gorgeous? Inov-8 shoes will be available in Singapore from about next week at Adventure 21, other retailers to be revealed soon. Some of models here will be the Flyroc and the Roclite in men’s and women’s sizing, perfect for TNF100 Singapore in October! I’ve had the Flyroc for a while now, and it’s a great trail shoe, lightweight and very grippy. I’ll post a review on the X-Talons once I’m back on the trail .. can’t wait!

So hopefully this is just a bump in the road (trail!) to recovery and the UTMB. I’ll post my report on TNF Oz and the Passion run in the next week or so. In the meantime, I’m stretching till my calves burn, hitting the gym, and planning my next long run .. whenever that may be!

Hope everyone stays injury free and all the best for the Sundown Marathon this weekend!

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Running bare .. my first steps!

Look, the Tarahumara wear skirts too! But also note the difference in foot strike between two amazing runners.
I’d read Chris McDougall’s book Born To Run late last year, in which he chronicles his search for the answer to “Why does my foot hurt”. In it he explores the life and running habits of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyon, arguably the greatest distance runners in the world. It’s brought barefoot running to the public arena and added fuel to the growing number of barefoot running converts. I see loads of runners in Vibram Five Fingers on the trail and at the races, so I’d say it’s definitely taken root in Singapore.

I’ve been thinking about barefoot running for a while now, but with wanting to qualify for UTMB last year, I really didn’t want to make any drastic changes. So I thought I’d make a start this year, before things really ramped up.

Also, I’ve just ordered a pair of Inov-8 X-Talon 190 .. touted as the world’s lightest XC and mountain shoe. There’s a 3mm heel-toe drop (the differential between the heel (9mm) and forefoot (6mm) height – the lower the number the ‘flatter’ the shoe) and it’s very minimalist for the terrain it’s designed for. I’d like to be able to use it for the UTMB so I thought I’d better get my skates on (… or would that be off?) and get used to some barefoot running.

Inov-8 X-Talon 190 … fierce or what!

I only wear lightweight trainer/racers, anything from the Adidas Adizero range. I clocked up 1700 miles (2720 km) of injury-free running last year and I don’t think I’ve had a running injury in the last 15 years I’ve been running. I don’t bother changing my shoes too much either. When they get worn out they feel better than when they were new. However, a zero heel drop is quite a significant difference from what I’ve been used to so far, definitely time to start some specific strengthening.

I took a look at The Running Barefoot website … there’s a lot of information there and I didn’t read a lot of it (eyes too tired!) I just skimmed the key words ‘relax’ and ‘high knees’ and figured that would do for a 5 minute test run.

So yesterday evening I ran to the local track, a 440m painted path just by the community centre. Took my shoes and socks off, put them in my pack, and ran. 

…  and you know what? Even though I was running on flat ground, at a peak time when all the local residents are out in force, and it was the furthest thing from a trail that you could think of … I loved it. 

While I was taking off my shoes I remember thinking,”Okay, high knees and relax!” .. and then I was off. I must’ve had a huge grin on my face, but it felt so natural and liberating to be running round the track barefoot with no heel strike. Somehow I clicked right into it, and it felt exactly right. Keeping my knees high was definitely the way to go, and that led to a natural forefoot strike just like I hoped. No jarring, didn’t feel like there was any negative impact or pain.

I only planned a 5 minute run to get used to it, but I was having so much fun I ran for 15 minutes averaging 8 min/mile. I stopped because my toes were starting to feel tender and I didn’t want them to blister. The stares I got from the walkers, joggers and local soccer players warming up were hilarious. They all did a double take when they saw me running with bare feet. Maybe my fuschia nail polish had something to do with it as well. Wait till they see me in my skirt!

Fuschia toes .. great camouflage for missing or black toenails!

Now I’m writing this, my toes are still a little sore and I’m researching which pair of Vibram Five Fingers will suit me best (I’m thinking Bikila). Any suggestions? I can’t wait to try running run barefoot on the trail but I think having some form of protective cover would be prudent … plus I’d end up having crocodile feet with all the hard skin I’d have to develop! It’d be no fun at all if I had to stop after 15 minutes either! I figure I’ll do 15 minutes each day for a week, then see if I can manage 30 minutes without blistering my toes. Stay tuned!

The apple crocodiles had the grape bunnies backed up against the pineapple wall …  was this the end for the hapless hoppers?