ExciTING ways to kill gym boredom

thumbnail-2

Trail Running Factory clients usually have heart attacks and numerous excuses when I ask them to visit gym for body strengthening exercises, as they panically believe that they will become Ms and Mr Universe after even one try.

Runners are not bodybuilders, so why the hell I am punishing them hard and sending to those labour camps. There are already numerous studies, which confirms that acquired strength in those iron prisons heavily contributes to injury prevention and though without proper training plan runners can still run themselves into dust, getting more power will help to be less injury prone, healthier and more constant on the trails. Moreover, strength training helps with running performance, as speed and running economy improve, because neuromuscular adaptations occur. I bet, right now you are taking it more seriously, but if even now you are still reluctant to put some time into this monotonous routine, try to change it and have as much diversity and fun as possible. Kill boredom and become more efficient runner by not running at all:

  1. Vary exercises.

Could you imagine if you practice just only one type of running instead of five existing? What kind of improvements would you expect to happen? So, don’t stick to the same exercises, which you have been doing for ages, rather explore and try something new that activate same muscle groups. You even be positively surprised that exists more than five exercises overall, which makes running kind of “extremely boring”.

  1. Vary repetitions & weights.

4-6 & 10-15 repetitions are equally great enough to make adaptations on neuromuscular function and strength gain. Using different weights will make the task easier by simply helping find out the proper balance between sustainable, perceived effort and repetitions. Do rate of perceived exertion (RPE’s) ring any bells? It should, as the best running measuring is done by RPE’s as well. Once again, strength training is not the rocket science and seems that fundamental principals are really close to all beloved running.

  1. Vary intensity.

Do you still remember all types of running, which involves different engines and distinct muscle fibres? This is exactly what you have to implement in weight rooms as well. Make those fibres fire at various levels of intensity, feel how lungs are burning and your mouth sinking with blood, while next time take it easy and even “smoke cigarette” while pumping the blood through your veins. Seriously, go for fast to moderate speed for concentric exercises and slow down for eccentric ones.

  1. Vary “strength schools”.

Are you currently working with CrossFit coach? What if you try TRX bands, Pilates machines and just simply jump from progressive plyometric training to progressive resistance training. Worth to consider, right?

  1. Vary motion range.

Let your body be universal and develop full range of motion. Currently there is no solid research done, what angle would be the best for runners. So don’t wait for papers to be written just do all them, as 90°, 45° or 20° movements do the trick.

  1. Vary surface.

Flat is boring! Make sure your gym is much alike to trails, as possible, because running is one leg sport, so try to implement exercises standing on one leg or balancing on bosu half ball. For those who are brave enough and have health & death insurance yoga ball could be an option.

  1. Vary handgrip and / or foot position.

While exercising, change your usual hand and / or feet position to wider and / or narrow one and try reverse or vertical grip, instead of horizontal one, which mimics grip of tracking poles. Those slight adjustments will definitely force you to feel some tension in areas, which you didn’t know could possible exist.

  1. Vary rest.

Shorten, prolong or even skip rest brakes between exercises, sets or repetitions that you are accustomed to.

  1. Vary tools.

Barbells & dumbbells are common practice, but what about introduction of medicine balls, resistance bands or just simply body weight routine on pull bar or gymnastic rings. If want to be more wild and natural go for woodsman workout with stones, logs and axes. There are many weight tools available around you, just have to be creative one and follow Rocky mind-set to be successful one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q57qB6Kwroo

  1. Vary muscles involved.

It is true that runners need strong core & legs and this is why you have been following this “diet” for ages, but what about upper body and type of muscles involved? Have you ever heard about superficial, intermediate and deep muscles? if not, it is about right time to go and google it. Become Ms & Mr Universe and age healthy while still running. Pump some iron in!

thumbnail-1

Advertisements

Huascaran: merged & wasted

IMG_7884 2
Mind is restless, it always seeks to acquire new knowledge or experiences and even though every intellect journey brings happiness, each discovery has its own price tag. Travelling has been part of my life trip for already few years and step-by-step built my personality and shaped understanding of surrounding world. However, in this game one way flow doesn’t exists and I am always leaving part of me somewhere and / or with someone and usually it is not the places itself, but rather people, whom encountering new adventures with. My fellow travelers are the ones, who make environment feel so special and wonderful.

It is unbelievable how pristine and untouched Huascaran National Park is at the end of November. All peaks above 5000m are covered with white powder and genuinely represent mountain chain name – Cordillera Blanca. Climbing season just ended and most of avalanches on their way, so everybody is out and I am in to this emptiness, which is just perfect for staying and exploring magnificent peaks or just simple living at the bottom of the highest roof in Peru. Driving up to this bottom, called Llanganuco Mountain Lodge, from the down laid village on bumpy, dirty “highway” is an experience, which I won’t forget. Taxi driver charges 50 soles for 45min drive with 1000m ascent and gives local language lesson, though I am just nodding, as it is something I hear for the very first time in my life. Having this friendly “chat” we are passing villages, which are no different from other poor countries and seems that every building is on constant construction, which will never end. However, one thing distinguishes them from others – high snowy peaks all around the area. Even though it is my recovery week post Marathon Des Sables PERU, hopefully I will be lucky enough to get a bit of sunshine doing some vertical traveling on those peaks or enjoying splash-runs through the super gorgeous lagoons surrounded by old Inca trails, which are wild, original and not touristic at all.

Being in such a remote areas is already rad adventure itself and though, as Inca civilization thousands years ago local people taking those magic trails and mountains for granted, I feel blessed just being allowed to touch “second” Himalayas with my feet. Travelling thorough the life is always fun, but it could be that one-day I will be totally wasted. It won’t be me anymore, it will be mixture of wisdom and cultures, which I have been collecting for years and exchanging life experience with newly met people and places, who consumed and absorbed my energy no less than I theirs.

 

The top ways to waste your time at aid stations

IMG_7885

Trail Running Factory coach Andrius and I put some serious read “The top ways to waste your time at aid stations”, so don’t waste your time to scan it, as it worth it!

THE MOST PLEASANT WAYS TO GET THROUGH AID STATIONS

1. Go gourmet! First start with the pretzels, then move on to the jam sandwiches, followed by grapes, gummy snakes, then wash down with coke. Repeat at all aid stations.

2. Pull out your cocktail shaker and Worcestershire sauce to fix yourself a Bloody Mary for your hydration pack. You’ve got to take hydration seriously.

3. Hide the critical gear your support crew is supposed to be ready with in the bottom of your bag so they can’t find it.

4. Assume that your crew have studied the course map in minute detail and has a superhuman recollection of every part of the course.

5. Pose to all photographers and cameramen and give short half an hour interview, be the star, this is why you started trail running, isn’t it?

6. Go totally mad on your support crew and/or volunteers if they mix things up and don’t have your favourite snack – dried Antarctica monkey kidneys, because you are the BOSS and they are working for you, right?

7. Aid stations are warm and sheltered, so it is the best place to wait while the rain or snowfall will stop and running conditions will improve.

8. Explain in great detail to anyone who will listen how you took a wrong turn from the course.

9. Change shoes and socks at every aid station. Because you like to keep your feet dry.

10. Pray for trail running gods and ask for the autograph of every Jim Wamsley you meet.

11. Whip out your iPhone and call your friends to inform them of your progress, and post your on-trail selfies to Facebook and Instagram.

12. Perfect skills with the gear you have never trialled before. Didn’t learn how to operate your headlamp or use your poles? The aid station is an ideal testing ground!

13. Number 13th, really? You should ask for the new number at each aid station, as it is the unlucky one and you are damn slow and tired because of it.

THE FASTEST WAYS TO GET THROUGH AID STATIONS

1. Have a nutrition plan and know precisely what foods you are going to be eating during the race. Know three natural foods and three processed ones (e.g. gels) that work for you and stick to your choice during the race. It is not the best time experiment with your stomach. In the months leading up to the race, train your gut to tolerate higher carbohydrate intake. Stomach comfort while ingesting higher amount of foods during long running events can be trained, and frequency of gastrointestinal issues reduced.

2. Rehearse your race plan before race day with your support crew.

3. If your support crew are crewing you for the first time, educate them:

– Familiarise them with your aid station routine

– Show them which pocket you prefer gels to be put in

– Teach how turn on and switch on headlamp for easier transition

– Teach them how to make an ice scarf and how and when put it on your neck (useful in hot-weather races)

4. Don’t stop at the aid station if you don’t need to. However, have a good reason for not stopping. If you are compromising your hydration, you will likely pay the price later in the race.

5. The aid station is not the finish line, so don’t relax too much. Stay sharp and focus on what you need to do. Have a mini action plan for each aid station and rehearse it in your mind before arriving. For example: “I will hand my two soft flasks to fill with water, while these are being filled, I will drink another cup of fresh water, empty pockets from trash and will put two gels into my front pocket. After taking filled soft flasks I will grab a piece of banana and eat it leaving the aid station.”

6. Open your handheld bottles before you enter the aid station so that they can be filled even quicker. If rules allow and volunteers can help, don’t fill your flasks by yourself. Use that time to do other things.

7. In some races, you may be permitted to exchange bags. If so, consider having a twin bag prepared to that you can make a quick exchange and keep going.
8. Have your most important compulsory gear (waterproof jacket/pants and head-torch) at the top of your bag, because it is the most likely gear that could be checked for a compulsory gear check. Or put it in a transparent bag as it is easy to pull out and show all the mandatory gear.

9. During the race and between aid stations carry only as much as you need:

– Don’t fill all the bottles and don’t take all the gels you possess in first aid station

– Use flasks rather than a hydration bladder if there are frequent aid stations

– Estimate your water and calorie intake and remember that your digestive tract can only tolerate and absorb approximately 1 – 1. 5 l/h and 60 to 90g of carb/h (depending on composition of carbohydrate meal or supplement), so don’t take unnecessary weight with you

– Trash (used gels etc) weighs several grams, so don’t forget to get rid of it at each aid station

– The lighter you are the faster you can run and the higher your VO2max 🙂

10. Be grateful to your support crew, as they are doing an important job. Your smile and positivity will boost their confidence, which probably means that fewer mistakes will be made and your run through the aid stations will be quick and smooth.

11. Having a nutrition plan and supporting race plan is important, but things can go amiss, so it is wise to develop a contingency plan:

– what if your support crew isn’t at the aid station? Should you wait in hope that they arrive soon, or continue and meet them at the next one? What if the nutrition that you expected to have isn’t available? It doesn’t matter what your decision is, but you must know it in advance.

12. Thank the volunteers before you leave the aid station!

Marathon Des Sables (MDS) Peru: hunger games

26170061_1896422700372337_1292638677513469400_o

Swimming with the seals and flying with the birds was the prize I got after the long stage at Marathon Des Sables PERU, but do I really knew how it will end at the begging of it, definitely not.

If the simple marathon stage is hard, long one is even harder, but as once somebody told me – when the situation is tough, you must me tougher. This was my mantra the whole 68km through the swampy sand, with the front wind blowing straight from Pacific Ocean and with the solid elevation gain peaking at impressive 300m dune climb on the last kilometres. Though I wasn’t hungry for victory and kept reminding myself that it is more adventure than race itself, adrenaline and testosterone did it’s job and from minute one starveling beast inside me was unleashed.

It was just a perfect day in the desert and though many believe that placing is the most important thing in the races, it is not true at all. Time, which I spend alone or with friends on the trails matter more. Gained new life experiences drive me to do such a rad things. So, having all it in mind, super tired, depleted, but happy I managed to crawl to the campsite. The day was over, fatigue and satisfaction blurred away, but something still remained there – hunger.

#MDS is one of the toughest desert footstep races all around the world and definitely more extreme than overestimated Dakar Rally. It has several reasons being the one, but the cruellest part of it – self-sufficiency or I would say food sufficiency, as you must wisely choose calories and not to have super overloaded CamelBak IOT run light. Nutrition and proper fuelling are crucial parts of running, as no one can run on empty tank. Everyday runners become lighter and their glycogen storages are not the same as it used to be prior the race. Energy demand increase, food and glycogen storages decrease and the only way to deal with it, is either being hungry or full, but with heavy refrigerator breaking your spine on the course. Ideal weight of the running vest should be no more than 10% body mass, which became true for me just after 4th stage. However, together with diminishing food stash I was shrinking as well, so sadly I have never found this perfect balance.

In the past few days I figured out that raw cuisine is not my thing, as I couldn’t pump myself with million nuts with no desire of something else. Food was the thing, which I could really think about at the lonely moments in my tent. It was not that I didn’t have enough Kratos Sport – Biosophia srl supplies anymore, but I have just missed variety so much, that would certainly have committed the crime for just one mango or avocado fruit. Suddenly the sin of Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden for just one apple didn’t looked so meaningless anymore and the only thought, which I was obsessed while daydreaming in my runs was veggies and fruits, so terrible sexy dream with the real taste, feel and smell, but still empty stomach.

Going David LANEY | Part 3 – TGC

IMG_5789

My training prior Transgrancanaria (TGC) was hampered. It’s because I had twisted my ankle few times and couldn’t precisely follow the plan. You can imagine how one feels when something restrains you from doing what you really love. In normal conditions I would take some rest and let my body recover. However common standards are not for ultra runners. What is said is done. I shouted at my tired body, “Shut up!”, taped the traitor foot and got back to training. No excuses!

Being already in Gran Canaria and counting the days until the big day comes, I still felt pain. It made me anxious as I was not sure how it will go from there. Finally I decided to give my feet last chance to prove if they are worth anything. I am a man of habits and every time I go to TGC, I do training on the same course. It gives me an answer where exactly I am: if I need to rest, train more or simply pack the stuff and go home. Sort of last check up before the race. I didn’t want to make an exception this year so I decided: I’ll kill my ankles for good or make them loyal again. I think they got the lesson. My standard run from Agaete to Artenara was great, actually the best one in recent years – it boosted my confidence and from that moment I knew the race would be just great!

Ultra Trail World Tour venues are good occasion to meet friends and runners from all around the world, people who share the same passion. Although I like challenging myself during the races, the time spent with them on the trails prior the running events are no less important and even more fun. Each year TGC brings more and more talents to the island and this time field of athletes was impressive as well. This naturally formed the question, which persecuted me all the time: – “do I feel pressure?”

Coping with pressure is one of the keys to success. So, another task for me before TGC was to get rid of tension. I still remember the painful lesson I received at Gran Raid Reunion, but what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger. And this is exactly what happened to me. I found a remedy that made me immune to stress – my family! As long as they are next to me, nobody can get under my skin. This time they were with me, so I felt secure and serene, ready to make TGC my day.

I believe family is the best dope ever invented (should I be disqualified for using my closest ones as illegal substances?) as it boosts your motivation, self-confidence and lets you fly from one aid station to another. Basically this is what happened to me this time as well. My family’s presence added me wings, which carried me kilometer by kilometer closer to the finish line and further from my rivals. I felt amazing, my feet were finally tamed and didn’t create much problems. The entire run went at lightning speed and I was able to sustain this crazy pace till the finish line, improving my TGC time once again. Although I finished second I am so thrilled to be back on track – the future looks bright!

Going David LANEY | Part 1

 

IMG_5720

Time

I’ve been keeping my blog nearly dead for quite some time now. It’s not that I don’t like to write anymore, it’s simply that I found less and less time to do so. ‘Time steals time’, my good fellow told me once. And he was damn right!

Life is so dynamic and goes so fast, sometimes too fast. If I wanted to run, race, dream, develop new projects and of course do my regular office job I had to sacrifice something, which really means a lot to me. My family. Nothing new in our society, but it still hurts. Moreover, my too much structured life, obligations that have no sense at all, office job with no real value, all these self-enslavement activities were absorbing me. I felt that I was going against everything I believe in. I lost the peace of mind. I got frustrated.

Feelings

I was lucky in few races and running community started to believe in me. Knowing how ultrarunning evolved in the last few years and how many new talents are joining the sport make such expectations ridiculous. So, all this pressure started to influence me and led to the “volcano eruption” in Reunion, where I totally lost control of my mind. Finally Diagonale des Fous  was a disaster, which I never would like to repeat.

Did I suffered from overtraining syndrome or had I been racing too much? Was it the end of my career, as it happened to many trail runners who wanted to compete too much and too fast? This is how I felt and those were the demons that I fought at the end of 2015 looking towards 2016 with horror.

Plan

In such moments I prefer either retreat or completely destroy myself. This time I didn’t want to listen the whim of traitorous body and I chose adventurous self-destruction. I decided to jump in some Ultra Trail World Tour  race ASAP. After all, dying without fight is not in my blood!

I divided 2016 running season in two parts with recovery period in between. My final racing plan looked like this:

  1. Vibram Hong Kong 100  – A race. Do my best and check if I am not too fat after the winter. Transgrancanaria – B+ race. Play safe and try to repeat last year’s success.
  2. Enjoy the life, 3R (Rock’n’Roll, Recuperation) and come back to training strong with no injuries. Spend some quality time in Lithuanian mountains J – nope, but anyway somehow do vertical training.
  3. Lavaredo Ultra Trail  – B race. Check if I’m on the right track with my training and spend some cheerful time with friends from Trail Running Team VibramUltra Trail du Mont Blanc  – A race. Avoid blisters so early in the race, sleep till Gran Col Ferret and then go 2015 David Laney (can read crazy fast) to close the gap and finish strong. Last but not the least, go for a ride with Gintare and boys on @vibram sole factor’s truck. Grand Raid Reunion – A+ race. Fly to the island earlier and have fun prior the run not to be distracted by its beauty during the race. Less media, FB and other socials – proper rest and clear mind is priority, so no buzz as well. Put all in – revenge!

The Follower

trans_gran_canaria

Running long distances without friends – boring. Sure, it is a little bit pity that not all folks are fit to run all those harsh kilometers on uneven terrain during the night, but one of them is more than willing to do so all the time. At least, it is the case with me, but I am pretty sure that those, who run a lot, meets him now and then. He is tougher than me, but very arrogant. So, usually he laughs at my pace, posture and running technique and almost everything I do. He becomes really furious during my weak moments, because he can’t stand weakness. His slogan “life begins where the comfort zone ends” makes him and me who we are.

In fact, Transgrancanaria 125km was his idea. I remember how first time he came up with it during Zugspitz Ultratrail 100km and stated that total +5420 ascent is for pussies and the real men must do much more. I tried to oppose this idea, because we were in the middle way to Scharnitzjoch – 2048m peak and the legs were screaming something completely different, but this bastard was very convincing. Moreover, can you imagine his joy when we signed for the race and ascent was increased from +7500m up to +8500m. Unbelievable!

So, after almost half a year I was on this incredible island in the crowd of amigos, hypnotized by magnificent atmosphere of the harbor city Agaete. But the only thing I wished to do was straightly jump into this unexplored territory and disappear in the darkness. Must to admit, holding yourself in front of start line is the most difficult part of the races. I do hate being in one place for a long time and this is just about that, seriously, it is not my thing to do. The more time I have before the start – the more anxious I become. This time I was more relaxed, simply didn’t have any big goals, because the field of athletes were scaring itself. Almost twenty world-class runners were ready to beat each other to death. Frankly, each time when race organizers were announcing my name and I was compared to them, I felt uncomfortable. It is some kind of pressure, which others are putting on you with their expectations. Believe me, this trust sometimes is dangerous stuff to play with.

Race started like a gust of fresh air before the storm, everything seemed so vital and vibrant, so unreal. The ground under my feet was breathing, letting balls of the dust from its lungs.

–  Don’t be so sensitive, – I heard my friend – I sick of you and your sentiments, be the man, it’s long way ahead.

–  Come on, it is so beautiful. All those headlamp lights are like a huge snake sliding up to Tamadaba peak. Look, there will be the stream, which I couldn’t pass last week during my reconnaissance run.

–  Shut your fucking mouth, stupid, watch where and what you are stepping on, concentrate!

It was too late I have stepped on one of the volcanic rocks, lost my balance and almost fall. My buddy was smiling. I hated this self-assured bastard, but he was right, I had to be more vigilant.

Having pretty much the same conversations all way long we reached first aid station, luckily, loud music separated us and for a while I could enjoy arts of the nature, soft whisper of the wind and most important loneliness. I was entering the area in which I did training with Nuria Picas and Yeray Duran few days ago, but the night had changed it unrecognizable. I felt that my orientating ability was vanishing, so I was following runners in front of me, but doing so is a bit irresponsible, because trail running is one of the most dangerous sports and if you want to survive you can’t loose your attention so easy.

–  Finally you got it, Mr. Obvious, – shouted my pal, happy as hell, seeing my tiredness.

–  You never shut up, do you?

This journey wasn’t an adventure anymore, because I wasn’t in charge. My mate didn’t let me to rest, he pushed me very hard and it seemed that he knew my limits and stuff like that. Some friends are better some worse, but usually you can choose whom are you willing to spent time with. This badass absolutely different story, he was all the time with me and I couldn’t get rid of him. Really? I started to sprint towards Valleseco hoping that it will give me some space between him and me.

–  It is not going to happen, – he yelled from the back.

I ignored him, said nothing more, just speeded up and for my surprise in vicinity of Teror caught Christophe Le Saux. The very first time I started to believe that I can do a good race here, but the french didn’t want to give up so quickly. Actually, he was up to something. All the time, while we were running together the man had mysterious conversations. My french is not so advanced, but from what I understood runner was swearing a lot and was about kicking his own or his friend ass. It seems, that everybody has the “best“ Friend.

Finally I have lost him and was entering Garanon. I love aid stations! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about “fish and chips”, but more about emotional sustainability and family. They are enjoying each your move, encouraging and chatting with you. This is what I am expecting each time the most.  It was the only place where my friend didn’t bother me.

But in Tunte my fellow appeared again and started to coach me:

–  It’s hot, take ice and leave oranges for amateurs. Don’t forget to drink. It’s not the best time to listen Tim Noakes. Believe me, right now, he will be more than happy to be waterlogged himself.

I didn’t dispute with him, it made no sense anymore – he was totally right. I put few cubes of ice into my cap and firmly run away. My confidence was rising, I felt that I could finish strong, but never be too excited before the job is done.

Lets face the cruel fact that I am not very good on technical trails. So, can you imagine my face when I found out that the last part of the trail wasn’t so fast as I thought it is. To tell the truth, all my strategy was based on pushing hard at this late phase, but the cobbled paths just killed me. I couldn’t use my speed till the last 15km of the race.

–  Don’t whine like a little girl – damn, again that annoying voice – be man and admit that you are just another road looser.

Well, maybe yes or maybe no. I rarely remember those conversations afterwards and it looks like a dream or a distance smell of the wild flower. So, I don’t really know how much of this story is real, how much is just my imagination or hallucination, but one thing is for sure – I love trails, I love racing and I would be more than glad to run Transgrancanaria again!