Monthly Archives: December 2012

My Running New Year’s Resolutions

2013Well as the clock countsdown on the final hours of 2012, I like many have sat down and thought about what I want to focus on in 2013.

In my running life I have not so much decided on resolutions as on goals that I want to achieve and I think that this is a great time of year to reflect on what was achieved in the last 12 months and what the new year may hold going forward.

2012 was a great year for me running in terms of overall consistency. I raced two marathons and made improvements between them. It was however also the year I had my most ever injuries ranging from a stress fracture through to ITB. I need to make sure 2013 is less injury prone while still maintaining my consistency in running. Where my consistency did lapse is when pressure at work increased dramatically so I also need to ensure that I develop a strategy to run when life gets crazy!

My goals are short and sweet and can be summarised as such:

  • Focus on 5km races: I’ve never really raced short distances as I always thought it was the marathon or bust. Now that I have a family and can’t commit all year round to the time needed for marathon training I’ve decided I’m going to focus on some shorter races early in the year and use it as speedwork for future endeavours. My goal is to break 20 minutes and I hope that I can do it by the end of March.
  • Run the famous City to Surf fun run: Australia’s largest fun run is based in Sydney and is called the City toSurf. It goes from Sydney’s CBD and rolls out through the suburbs, over Heartbreak Hill and finishes 14 kilometres later on one of the most beautiful locations in the world, Bondi Beach. It attracts 85,000 entrants and is THE event in Australian road running – yet I have never done it. 2013 is the year to change that.
  • I will run the 2013 Melbourne Marathon in October and my goal is to go sub 3:30.

In terms of actual running resolutions as opposed to just goal setting:

Sydney's City to Surf: one of goals for 2013

Sydney’s City to Surf: one of my goals for 2013

  • I will have a better nutrition plan and drink less Coke
  • I will do a Yoga class at least once a week to increase flexibility
  • I will make time to run at least four days a week
  • I will stretch after each run and also on days that I don’t run

And I will also make sure that my blogging becomes more regular, focussed and beneficial for both you as the reader and for me as the author.

So what are your running resolutions for 2013?


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Would you rather race too far or too short?

tape-measure1Surely one of the biggest gripes race directors must have regarding the growth of technology in running is everyone who complains that a race route was too short or too long because it measured that way on their GPS watch!

Bearing in mind the standard response that your GPS watch will never measure the exact route distance due to a number of factors including that you probably will not be running the most direct route and the allowance for margin of error in the devices, a quick search online indicates that there are indeed many times where races have been measured too short or too long.

The 2012 Vienna Indoor Marathon measured 1.8km short

The 2012 Vienna Indoor Marathon measured 1.8km short

The most recent example is the Vienna Indoor Marathon held in Austria on 16 December this year where promoters has advertised the race as perfect for setting a PB due to ‘zero incline or descent, no wind and a constant temperature of 15 degrees Celsius’. All good factors to help set a marathon PB, but not as helpful as the fact the course was 1.8 kilometres short!

There are a list of other examples all around the world of courses been too short or too long; the 2005 Lakeshore Marathon, the 2010 Cardiff Half Marathon and the 2012 Hull Marathon, Whistler Half Marathon and Huntly Half Marathon.

Debate still occurs about the 1954 Empire Games (now Commonwealth Games) held in Vancouver where English marathoner Jim Peters entered the stadium some three miles ahead of his closest competitor. He collapsed upon entering the stadium and took 15 minutes to go just 200 yards and story has it he fell numerous times before collapsing over the believed finish line and into the arms of his trainer – however it was the wrong finish line, used for track events, while the marathon line was further on. He was disqualified for receiving outside assistance. There is still a belief by some that the actual course was measured too long.

This all raises the question – would you rather have your race measured too far or too short?

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Christmas gift! ASICS Kayano 18

Santa (and my wife) was very kind to me and got me a new pair of shoes for Christmas – the ASIC Kayano 18’s in silver and fluoro yellow!

    ASICS Kayano 18: fluoro yellow and silver and wrapped nicely under my Christmas tree!

ASICS Kayano 18: fluoro yellow and silver and wrapped nicely under my Christmas tree!

I used to be a Kayano wearer years ago but had changed to the cheaper and, I think for a time, better shoe in the GT series (2130, 50 and 70). However as I’m not a major pronator I’m probably more suited to the Kayano from a form perspective.

I’d had my eye on  the Kayano’s throughout the years and found them not to work for me as much as my originals which I think were a Kayano 8. I’d tried the 14 and found it heavy and constrictive but my wife had seen me looking at the 18’s a while ago and picked them up at for a good price and got them for me without me having tried them on.

This is always a brave move in buying shoes, especially ones that you are going to grow to love over months and hundreds of kilometres of sweat, tears and joy. I am delighted to say that the move paid off very handsomely. I’ve run in the Kayano 18’s twice since opening them and found them to be comfortable out of the box – no need to run them in so to speak.

I’m not going to go into all the details of the weight and foot drop as there are much more technically qualified people doing reviews like that online, however I can certainly say that they felt noticeably lighter than previous Kayano models and were a big plus on the comfort factor. This may be due to the fact that the 18 model was more tailored for a neutral runner as opposed to the more recent models, however I found they still offered a comforting level of support.

My one criticism of them was that one of my runs was done on a warm day with a temperature of 30 C/86 F and by the end of an hour long run my feet were pretty toasty. On my second run with a temperature of 21 C/ 70 F I ran for the same time and had no such issues but will certainly be keeping an eye on it.

mens-asics-kayano-18-yellowgrey-1And anyone who watched the London Olympics would know that to be considered a serious runner this year it appeared as though you had to have fluoro shoes – the bright yellow laces of the Kayano 18’s does not disappoint while also not been overbearing. I’m far from the fastest runner and don’t want to draw too much attention to myself and I felt that these shoes found that balance between fashion, function and over the top flair.

I know that the Kayano 19’s are now available but if you are after a cheap pair of reliable shoes consider the older model if you can get it for a good price.

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Defending champs return to Boston

17heatpictwo2012 Boston Marathon defending champions Wesley Korir and Sharon Cherop have confirmed that they will attempt to defend their titles in the 117th running of the race on 15 April next year.

The two Kenyan born athletes won this years race in stiffling heat, running within themselves to beat a field of more fancied runners. For Korir the 2013 edition of the race will be his ‘A race’ for the year, a race that he acknowledges the significance of winning.

“Winning the Boston Marathon was the biggest accomplishment of my life and the win placed me in a distinguished group of champions who are legendary.

“The entire world recognizes and respects the Boston Marathon, and I am proudly a Boston Marathon champion forever,” said Korir.

boston-marathon-logoFor Cherop the appeal of the course and standard of competition made her decision to return an easy one.

“I know that there are some of the best athletes in the world competing in Boston in 2013, but I’ll be ready for the big race. The course is very hard because there are a lot of hills and you are running without pacers, but I like this course because it’s also making a natural selection among the athletes.

“I will be in Boston to try to win again and perform at my best level,” said Cherop.


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Honolulu Marathon preview

honolulu1Tomorrow will see the running of the 40th Honolulu Marathon and one of the final big name fields of 2012. The race will have more than 31,000 entrants – the biggest field in 15 years, and has the added interest of a number of big name professionals who entered the race after the disappointment of New York.

Headlining the elite field is Olympic bronze medallist and second fastest official marathoner of all time, Wilson Kipsang. Kipsang was a surprise entry in the race after missing out on the ING New York City marathon and would on paper surely be an odds on chance of breaking the course record if conditions were favourable. His personal best of 2:03:42 was admittedly set in the much cooler climate of Berlin last year, however still has some seven and half minutes on the 2:11:12 set by compatriot Jimmy Muindi in 2004.

While Muindi has again entered Honolulu, his 20th time, he is not likely to be amongst Kipsang’s challengers with his recent best in Honolulu falling off to 2:24:40. Muindi has won the race seven times with his last win in 2007.

Wilson Kipsand winning the London Marathon.

Wilson Kipsand winning the London Marathon.

Most likely to challenge Kipsang will be 28 year old Ethiopian Markos Geneti who set his personal best of 2:04:54to finish third in the now well renowned Dubai Marathon in January this year.

Kenyans have won more than half of all Honolulu Marathons with 21 wins and there will be a number of Kenyan challenges in addition to Kipsang and Muindi. Two-time defending champion Nicholas Chelimo will wear the number one bib, however his recent best of 2:16:44 in the Eindhoven Marathon in October was some nine minutes of his personal best 2:07:38 set in the same race in 2010. Other Kenyans include 2008 and 2009 winner Patrick Ivuti (PB 2:07:46) and 2011 third place finisher Josephat Boit (2:15:40).

In the women’s field it is very much an Ethiopian affair with both the defending champion and second place getter returning for another crack. Woynishet Germa won the race on debut last year in 2:31:41, beating out Misiker Mekonnen by 12 seconds (2:31:53). The most likely challenger is a pace setter from last year and 2012 Gold Coast Marathon winner, Japan’s Kaori Yoshida. American Stephanie Rothstein is also a chance, aiming to be the first American winner since 1988 with a personal best of 2:29:35 set in the humid 2011 Houston Marathon.

vogThe factor likely to protect course records for another year is the unique Hawaii phenomenon known as vog – volcanic smog and gases from Kilauea. Vog makes the air more moist, increasing humidity and attracting pollutants, making it harder to breathe. Race president Dr. Jim Barahal has already flagged that the increased vog present in Honolulu at the moment will lead to slower winning times and he has pleaded for the amateur entrants to run to the conditions.

“When the weather is bad, hot, humid and voggy the best thing to do is slow down you’re not going to run a personal best, just accept that from the beginning,” Dr Barahal said.


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Travelling for work: fitting in training

busrunningDue to a major incident in my work I’ve had to spend the last week away from home, living out of a suitcase in a motel. Although the work has been hard, the hours long and the focus has been on managing the incident for the business, it did also pose a challenge to me on how to get some training in.

I knew the morning before heading off that I was going to be away for the week so I was able to pack my running shoes, a few pairs of shorts and a mix of t-shirts and singlets. Work days were long with early starts so morning runs were taken out of the equation but I was able to set aside time for an evening run between leaving the workplace and meeting up with colleagues for dinner.

The one positive of the experience was that I was able to run in a completely new environment, along the coast of a small town called Warrnambool in regional Victoria.

The Warrnambool coast, a beautiful but windy training run

The Warrnambool coast, a beautiful but windy training run

It is known as the surf coast with high winds and massive surf. There is also a great paved trail that runs along the coast.

On the first day I headed out and put in six kilometres along the coast, enjoying the scenery and awestruck at the power of the waves. I was making great pace, felt very comfortable and was seriously considering a sea change – until I turned around and had to deal with a massive headwind on the return six kilometres!

I’ve managed to get a run in most days, including a hills session, and braved the hotel gym for a short strength session which was worthwhile. I’ve missed been away from my wife and daughter and work has been exhausting, but with a little bit of forethought to throw my running gear into my bag I’ve been able to maintain my training and possibly even got in more runs than normal without the pressure of the family commitments.

The long work hours though has undoubtedly impacted the quality of my training with less sleep than normal and minimal recovery time.

How do you factor in training when you have to travel?

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Fukuoka Marathon Results

Little known Kenyan Joseph Gitau, with a previous best of 2:21, has outlasted a strong field to win the 2012 Fukuoka Marathon in 2:06:58.

The bigger news of the day was the withdrawal of two of the pre-race favourites, Haile Gebreselassie and Martin Mathathi. Both lasted until the 30km mark but not much beyond.

Japanese runner Hiroyuki Horibata came second in a personal best 2:08:24 and Poland’s Henryk Szost claiming third in 2:08:42.

In the predicted battle of Japanese favourites Arata Fujiwara and Yuki Kawauchi, it was Fujiwara taking the honours, finishing fourth in 2:09:31. Kawauchi finished just under a minute later, in sixth place (2:10:29).

American Mo Trafeh finally finished a marathon, taking seventh in 2:11:41.

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Fukuoka Marathon preview

fukuokaIt’s less than five hours until the start of the Fukuoka Marathon so just enough time to have a quick look at the field and see if we can make any predictions. The race has a number of notable names, none more so than legend and former world record holder Haile Gebreselassie.

With a marathon best of 2:03:59, on paper Gebreselassie has a PB minutes faster than any other competitors. Kenyan Martin Lel was next fastest with a 2:05:15 prior to him withdrawing earlier this week with an injured right thigh.

There has been a lot of water under the bridge since Gebreselassie ran that time. His recent best was a 2:08:17 in this year’s Tokyo Marathon, finishing fourth behind Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich which, if ran in Fukuoka, should still be very competitive for the win.

There are a number of other international entrants worth keeping an eye on; Ukraine’s Dmytro Baranovskyy and Kenya’s Isaac Macharia have both run low 2:07’s (2:07:15 and 2:07:16) but neither since 2008. In my opinion the international to keep an eye on and best placed to win the race is Poland’s Henryk Szost. The 30 year old has had a wonderful 2012, recording his PB of 2:07:39 (a national record) in March while finishing second in the Lake Biwa Marathon and then running 2:12:28 in the challenging conditions of the London Olympics to finish ninth.

Other internationals of note include Canadian record holder and London Olympic 26th place getter Reid Coolsaet (2:10:55, 2011) and the UK’s Scott Overall (2:10:55, 2011) and Andrew Lemoncello (2:13:40, 2010).

The local field though is just as likely to take the win, with the charge led by fan favourite Yuki Kawauchi. The 25 year old who also works full time has a personal best of 2:08:37 when he finished third in the 2011 Tokyo Marathon. Another Japanese runner not aligned to a club and in fact is self-trained is Arata Fujiwara. With a personal best of 2:07:48 (2nd, 2012 Tokyo Marathon), Fujiwara also ran in the London Olympics and finished 45th in 2:19:11.

There are numerous other local runners with PBs in the 2:08/2:09 area that could also challenge if everything goes to plan on the day; James Mwangi (2:08:38), Yoshinori Oda (2:09:03), Cyrus Njui (2:09:10), Hiroyuki Horibata (:2:09:25) and Harun Njoroge (2:09:38).

The Fukoka Marathon is reasonably unique in that it has very strict entry standards. For ‘Group A’ marathoners the time required is 2:27 with cut-offs throughout the race at 95 minutes for the first 30km and 65 minutes for halfway. The more ‘relaxed’ ‘Group B’ times are 2:42 for the race with 110 minutes for 30km and 70 minutes for halfway.

Marathon Intervals predicts a Fujiwara, Kawauchi, Gebreselassie top 3

Marathon Intervals predicts a Fujiwara, Kawauchi, Gebreselassie top 3

What this all should mean is a fast and highly competitive race. The temperature won’t be a factor, with a maximum of 12C/54F but there is rain expected. Marathon Intervals prediction is Kawauchi, Fujiwara and Gebreselassie to battle out the podium with a finish time of 2:08.

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