Sunday, December 28, 2008

Weight Progress

I am not doing so badly weight wise as you can see in spite of my inactivity.

I have cut out all exercise for the last three weeks. This week I will still be resting.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Quadriceps Tendonitis

Yep. Thats the injury I am suffering from. I think I will be out of action until 5th of Jan just to be sure that its fully healed. This site explains everything about it. I have been refreshing my driving skills and have succeeded in not straining my right knee for three days now. I suspect that in 4 days I should be fully healed but we will see. The diagram below shows the scene of the crime.

The Patellar tendon is the point of origin from which I exarcebated the injury. It has affected it and the Quadriceps tendon. I have rested for almost three weeks now. The Physicians say it takes 4 - 6 weeks to heal.
One of the things I like about my running is that its a hobby that has made me learn so much about my body and how it works. From the ITBL and shin splints to Plantar Fascitis, I have learnt something everytime I got an injury. I may consider opening a Physiotherapy practice when I retire. What do you think? Brilliant, huh?
Now that I am injured, I will need to redesign a program for easing back to action without injuring myself again.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Alchemist

I bought The Alchemist for a friend who later gave it to me after reading it. When I started reading it, I was expecting it to be a book about some wise sage whose world wise ways would have earned him the dubious title, "The Alchemist." And the alchemy in this case would be knowledge about how the world and especially the human condition, works and unravels.
My expectations were was a little off the mark. Instead of presenting a framework about how individuals can advance themselves beyond their mundane existence and overcome challenges and realize their fullest potential, its Paulo Coehlo's attempt at presenting his own worldview. A spiritual kind of metaphysics. A panpsychist world of omens and legends. Panpsychism is the theory that all matter has some form of consciousness.
Before reading The Alchemist , I had read Paulo Coehlo's Manual of the Warrior of light. It left some lingering interest about what that writer could write and hence my reading of the Alchemist, which is more reknown, notably read even by Bill Clinton.
The Alchemist is a captivating story written in metaphors, some explained through an interview that appears at the back of the book, some unexplained, or some the author is not aware of, or is not interested in interpreting and would rather the reader decides what the metaphor means to them. And whether they are metaphors at all.
It is a beautifully written story about a Shepherd boy whose journey for his personal legend leads him to meet the alchemist, someone who knows the soul of world. The storyline is fine but at the end, it is just an empty story that leaves the reader wondering what is there to learn about the events. It reads like a religious tract because it mostly talks of one believing and offers no tangible explanation, or more importantly, verifiable evidence that the world has a soul for instance, that water and stones have a soul and so on. So in a sense, it is mystical. There is nothing wrong with being mystical but I expected better from a writer of Coehlo's calibre. I now think that he is a man who has travelled far in his spiritual journey but he has wrapped his questions into boxes of mysteries and he now surrounds himself with these boxes. He now sees some of the boxes as gifts from his lessons and his struggles. Boxes that he leaves unopened and he looks at with wonderment and love yet he does not understand what is contained in them. Or what they can unravel.
I think he stopped asking himself the hard questions, or he found the quest so difficult and tiring that at one point, he stopped asking further questions and decided instead to enjoy them for what they are and trust that what they contain is good and beautiful. He crafted for himself a metaphysical worldview that explains boxes and their unseen contents and contented himself with basking in its glow rather than pick a hammer and tong and have a go at the boxes, one after the other.
As an illustration, at one point in an excerpted interview, he is asked whether human souls and souls of stones are different. He answers by saying he doesn’t know but that "I only know that I am alive...But I try to find good questions and not good answers"

This is where we part ways. This is manure. It is an attitude that fosters laziness and encourages an idle acceptance of our gaps of knowledge rather than a relentless pursuit for an understanding of the world and our existence. I am disappointed that Paulo Coehlo can sit up there and tell us that it is okay not to know and to content ourselves with "mysteries" and "spiritualism." That I find unacceptable. Scientists are engaged in serious research and this author who is advertised as some sort of guru tells us answers are not that important? All I can say to him and his ilk is "step aside." Because when you stop searching, your story is over.
If I would have bought the answer “you can’t know everything” to questions like “who created God?” when I started my personal journey, my journey could have ended in blissful ignorance in a few days. I strongly feel Coehlo does not live up to his billing. Examining one's life requires patience, courage, fortitude and patience and it is hard work through and through. Shortcuts and settling for what sounds good and beautiful should be left for feel-good religions and new age hucksters. The Alchemist sells Coehlo as the latter.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Car Arrived and I have Safcom Broadband

I finally got my 4 wheeler. I will go for a driving refresher tomorrow. I also have Safaricom broadband so I can be updating my blog from home.
I ran 1K yesterday. Knee not yet healed so I will hold on for a few days. My weight is reassuringly 77Kgs. I just need to watch what I eat and hang in there for a few days.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Knee Healed

I had a great graduation party. My knee has healed and I may just test it today with a 10k.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Taking a Break and Graduating

I am graduating tomorrow with an MBA and we are taking a break from group runs until 6th Jan. My knee had already healed by yesterday but while moving furniture, I reinjured it. So I need to rest some more.
Cheers and merry XMas

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

10K World Record Splits

Kenenisa Bekele is the holder of the current 5K and 10K records. He set the 10K record of 26:17.53 in Brussels, Belgium, set on August 26, 2005. Lets look at the WR splits.

The first pacemaker, Roberto Garcia of Spain, took Kenenisa to the 2km mark in the time of 5.15.63. Kenenisa's younger brother, Tariku, took over after the 2km mark and took Kenenisa to the 5,000 meters mark in the time of 13:09.19. For the final 5,000 meters, Kenenisa was left to run by himself. Apart from the two laps where he seemed to slow down [64 seconds], he run at the pace of around 62 seconds a lap making sure that he stayed ahead of the World Record time. In the final lap, he produced a magnificent sprint [57 seconds] and lowered the world record mark to 26.17.54.

1000m 11 GARCíA, Roberto (ESP) 2:39.85

2000m 11 GARCíA, Roberto (ESP) 5:15.63

3000m 10 BEKELE, Tariku (ETH) 7:53.02

4000m 10 BEKELE, Tariku (ETH) 10:29.98

5000m 10 BEKELE, Tariku (ETH) 13:09.19

6000m 3 BEKELE, Kenenisa (ETH) 15:44.66

7000m 3 BEKELE, Kenenisa (ETH) 18:23.98

8000m 3 BEKELE, Kenenisa (ETH) 21:04.63

9000m 3 BEKELE, Kenenisa (ETH) 23:45.09

If that ain't amazing shit, I don't know what is.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Inchoate Quarterly Training Plan

January - April

From my records, I am both tortoise (slow but has endurance) and a hare (has some speed, however laughable)


1. Do a Sub-40 10K and a Sub-19 5k. Current results are 45.55 and 22.10. I believe its doable if I can cut 15 seconds or so every week.

2. Seek to do 400m in 60 secs and a 3mins 1K (2.5 laps). Current result is 85secs 400m and 3mins 54 seconds.

3. Get a base mileage of 55-60Kms per week by end of April.

4. Get (a) Physiological adaptations - more mitochondria, more capillaries and slower pulse rates.
(b) Better running economy - better coordination of hands and feet, and use of stomach, pelvis and hips to generate running power.
(c) Higher AT and LTs

Weekly Base Training Plan

Sunday - Long Run - 24-35K AM - Run progressively
Monday - Recovery run easy 6Kms + Pylometrics AM
Tuesday - Rest
Wednesday - 10K - hard PM (alternate weekly between +ve and -ve splits)
Thursday - 8K easy + Pylometrics AM
Friday - Speed Runs 800 X 5 + 400m recovery jogs or 400 x 10 + 200m recovery jogs (6Kms) PM
Saturday - Rest.

Pylometrics = 1 legged hops, crunches, jumping pushups, pilates, leg bounds, heel/toe walks and knee tucks.
Approach: Start low and climb up gradually to 60K.
I will firm it up or adjust it later. But its the basic idea.

The video below demonstrates how alternate leg bounds are performed. They help develop explosive power and increase stride length.

The Purpose of Different Runs

I noticed from last week's long run that my legs felt stronger and more coordinated. I was able to land comfortably and my bones felt cushioned as I ran. This was clearly a benefit of the speed runs I had been doing.

There are several forms of running exercises, including endurance training, stamina training, speed training and sprint training. But for simplicity, I will group them into two main types of exercises: long runs (endurance training) and speed/stamina training for a proper treatment of the subject, please visit McMillan's Six-Step Training System from which I borrow the ideas summarized below. Below are the different purposes of each training:

Endurance Training/Long Runs

These are carried out with your heart rate between 60 and 75% of maximum and your oxygen consumption between 55-75% of your VO2max. In this zone, your breathing is comfortable and the effort is easy. Your lactate level is low or only slightly above resting levels.
Appropriate paces can be as fast as your marathon race pace plus 30 seconds or as slow as marathon pace plus two minutes, depending on the workout.

Physiological Changes:
"The key cardiorespiratory or "central" adaptations that result from Endurance training include an increase in your stroke volume -- the amount of blood that is pumped with each heart beat. The result is that fewer heartbeats are needed to deliver the same amount of blood to the working muscles. You experience this as a slower resting pulse and lower heart rates at a given pace.

In the muscles, there is a corresponding increase in the number of tiny blood vessels (capillaries) to deliver this greater volume of blood per beat. The number and size of mitochondria, the power plants of the muscle cells, also increase. You become more efficient at using fat as a fuel source, decreasing your reliance on your limited carbohydrate stores (muscle glycogen). Speaking of glycogen, Endurance training stimulates the muscles to store more glycogen making this fuel readily available for long duration efforts as well as high intensity workouts.

The nervous system becomes very coordinated in its recruitment and use of your slow-twitch muscle fibers, which helps improve your running economy. There's even a stimulus for your fast-twitch muscle fibers to become more "endurance-like"."

Speed/ Stamina training

Under this, "your heart rate and oxygen consumption go from 90% up to maximum. Your breathing is fast and labored. The effort is hard and your lactate level is high."

"...Training in the Stamina zone helps push several critical thresholds (lactate, ventilatory and anaerobic) to faster paces. The result is that you can run faster before crossing these thresholds. The key cardiorespiratory adaptations that result from Stamina training deal with what scientists call the "Lactate Shuttle". While we used to think that lactate simply started being produced and eventually accumulated to the point where fatigue sets in, we now know that lactate is always being formed, just at different rates. At rest and during light exercise, only small amounts are formed. During heavy exercise, large amounts are produced. Once formed, the body has mechanisms whereby the lactate is "shuttled" to other tissues to be used for fuel, sort of like recycling. This recycling or shuttling has a maximum capacity, however. Once reached, the production of lactate outpaces its removal resulting in the accumulation of it in the blood. Thus, the lactate threshold is reached."

"Speed training works to actually increase the capacity of several of your body's systems. Research shows that Speed training increases the enzymes that help liberate energy from our fuel sources, improves the lactic acid buffering capacity, provides a greater stimulation and training of the fast twitch muscle fibers and results in a greater ability to extract oxygen from the blood as it perfuses the muscles.

You experience this as increased speed-endurance, the ability to run fast for a long period of time. The running motion becomes more consolidated as all errant form changes (like flying elbows, funky foot plants) are eliminated. They require too much energy. Your breathing acclimates to fast, constant efforts and your legs begin to feel fast and strong.

"Research has found that during this fast sprinting, groups of individual muscle fibers become more coordinated in their "firing" (contracting) so that you can achieve greater power and speed. Likewise, different whole muscle groups (like the quadriceps, for example) get "in sync" with each other resulting in faster turnover and a smoother stride. Basically, the body becomes efficient and coordinated at turning your legs over very fast. Your running economy improves.

The second adaptation affects the bicarbonate buffering system that we discussed in the Stamina section. Since training at this pace creates large accumulations of lactic acid (lactate and its compatriot, the hydrogen ion), it challenges the body's ability to remove these by-products. With repeated exposure to elevated lactate (and associated hydrogen ion) levels, the body improves its ability to quickly remove it."

There you have it you gain three main things:

1. Physiological adaptations - more mitochondria, more capillaries and slower pulse rates.
2. Better running economy - better coordination of hands, feet and use of stomach, pelvis and hips to generate running power.
3. Higher AT* and LTs*

*AT is aerobic Threshold and LT is Lactate Threshold

Ten Reasons To Adopt Negative Splits

These are some of the reasons I have collected over the web over why one should go negative in their running strategy:

1. It can take your body several miles to get warmed up. After that, your muscles are charged, your joints lubricated, and mood-boosting endorphins flood your system. Your muscles increase in warmth and resiliency. You'll find yourself running faster without feeling any more effort.

2. Negative splits still hurt, but they hurt a lot better than positive splits. This means starting hard and trying to finish hard, and inevitably failing, is worse than starting easy and finishing hard.

3. You also gain a lot of confidence in your ability to finish strong and the more conservative early pace keeps your pain level down. Your faster pace at the end of the race will provide psychological advantages as u pass other runners with tired legs.

4. It allows for greater margin of error in case you miscalculated your ability on race day or any of many other variables bite you in the butt. If you go out a bit slow, you have adequate time to make up for it. So it’s better to err on the side of caution.

5. It results in slower consumption of glycogen, which means that your body becomes less dependent on fat for fuel earlier in the race. You will reach your lactate turn point later in the race allowing for more energy and speed in the last miles.

6. You reach your AT/LT later in the race, so a smaller portion of the race is spent running aerobically, i.e., the wall arrives later and easier. Its better to hit the AT/LT later rather than sooner.

7. Since it's so difficult to run even splits in a marathon, it's usually better to err slightly to the conservative side than to be a little overly aggressive.

8. The fast early pace is the very reason for the fade in the second half.

9. You can always speed up at the end if you're feeling good.

10. The crowded conditions at the start of many races make it impractical to start out at a pace close to target pace for the first mile or few, so we might "lose" some time.
However, it's a mistake to try to make up that slow start either in the earliest miles that we can or by waiting until the last few miles of the race. It's better to spread the "makeup" over all of the rest of the race with the emphasis on the middle miles.

Back on Blogging Business

We are back to daily blogging. I have an injury though. Was it caused by Pig-Headedness or Pure Folly?

I knew I shouldn't have jumped from 10K to 24K. But, whether out of sheer arrogance or stupidity, I did. And it went relatively well on Friday. And Saturday I was just fine. Then I felt some pain in my right knee on Sunday. Instead of leaving it alone, I did what any experienced runner knows I shouldn't have done. I reached for the painful spot and started massaging it. I successfully inflamed it.

In short order, a dull ache became an painful injury and I have been limping since. I should ave known that I should not have touched it. But I did because of sheer pig headedness. So I wont run today and tomorrow. I hope that by Wednesday it will have healed and I will be ready to run.
Otherwise right now I am nursing an injury - my right knee has gone to hell. I have got a few entries that I would like to make. Coming up shortly.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Starting LSRS and Going Negative


From today I will be updating this blog once a week - unless something changes. This is mainly because and have been blocked at my office mostly due to individual assholery that is enjoying tacit institutional sanction.
Yes, some blogs have porn but what serious porn seller or consumer would use a blog to do their business? Duh! When the inane barricades get lifted, I will resume daily updates. Some nutjob is having a power hard on by being able to block sites. What’s worse, its not even his job.
I am considering using my phone to connect to the net but that will involve breaking one of my own rules: no internet at home. I have been avoiding that. But what the hell...

At any rate, I have been off form for about four weeks though not off training. I have been struggling and suffering and wondering what’s going on. I have been getting knocked out after 25 laps and have wondered what the heck was going on. I got a cold last week and as it wore off, I gradually came back. Taking 5 days off twice didnt help. But after the cold, I came back to become me last Friday November 28th 2008.
I think I probably hadn’t recovered from the Marathon until last week and I now feel okay when I run and when I sleep and wake up.
Yesterday, I ran with my running mate Sikuku, who I pace with and did 5K in 22:14 and completed the 10K in 46:17.

Its only after the run that we realized wee couldn’t have done better because we knocked ourselves out on Monday. But the statistics reveal interesting things:
The good news is that we can improve our speed and that our speed is not that bad. What we need to do is increase our lactate threshold and do long runs so that we are stronger even after several laps.
Here are the results of the 10K (25 laps)

Lap Time Duration (s)
1 1:35:00 95
2 3:16:00 101
3 5:02:00 106
4 6:50:00 108
5 8:39:00 109
6 10:30:00 111
7 12:20:00 110
8 14:09:00 109
9 15:58:00 109
10 17:50:00 112
11 19:42:00 112
12 21:30:00 108
13 23:18:00 108
14 25:11:00 113
15 27:10:00 119
16 29:04:00 114
17 30:56:00 102
18 32:54:00 118
19 34:52:00 117
20 36:41:00 110
21 38:32:00 111
22 40:26:00 114
23 42:27:00 121
24 44:27:00 120
25 46:17:00 110

Broken down to 2Km distances, our times were follows:

1st 2Km 8:39
2nd 2Km 9:11
3rd 2Km 9:20
4th 2Km 9:31
5th 2Km 9:36

What we need to do is attempt to do 95 secs per lap consistently and to ensure we don’t slow down beyond 110 seconds.
I want to read up stuff on how to increase lactate thresholds. Friday trainings will focus on that aspect of training.

5th Dec 2008
I am now in excellent condition. The pain in my upper thigh is almost gone and I feel strong and "healed." I am in that "do something incredible" mindset.
My training plan is still inchoate and I would like it to shape up and find what suits me and my schedule and work it for a few months. So I have been reading stuff on how to increase my AT/LT (Anaerobic Threshold/Lactate Threshold) and VO2Max(Maximum Oxygen uptake). From my 2Km splits above, we can see that this brother needs speed bro. He needs speed so bad, he doesn’t need ta tell ya.
The good news is that he has the hunger, the passion, the anger, the grit, the focus, the intensity, the perseverance and the guts to pour sweat, blood and guts to get that speed. Now (adopting a Cody Maverick demeanor), I am fucking serious bro and I want to go sub 1:30 next year, if it kills me.

There are Tempo Runs and Cruse intervals (fartleks), marathon pace runs and repetitions.
I have looked at all of them and since I don’t have hills and I am not exactly ready for speed runs of 100-200m, I will use 800m intervals EVERY FRIDAY. So Friday is speed work Time.
I will do 800m X 5 with 2mins jogs in between. And I will seek to do the 400m in 90seconds.
That’s it. The talk is over. The walk starts today at 5.30pm.

Now, what I want to target is 90 seconds per lap, which translates to 450 seconds for 2Kms, which is 7mins 30seconds. Which is pretty good if I can do it even as intervals. Remember Wanjiru mightily kicked ass in the 2008 Beijing Olympics with the first 5K in 14:52 which comes to around 3mins per Km.

I am still trying to figure out where to fit in my 24Km long runs. I will, pretty soon because they are indispensable. O'wise, I am cool. Staying off the radar of work politics and the asshollery going around like a bug.

Monday 8th Oct Update
I went for a 5k evening run with Sikuku, he took it pretty fast and we did the first two laps in 3mins flat. We struggled to maintain the speed in the next ten laps and my watch and count tells me that we did 5K in 20:20. He doubts it and has a different time for it. Hopefully, we can verify that today because I have fresh legs from two days of rest.
This Friday is a holiday. I will go for my 24Km long run then.

I took milk and that just messed me. I developed a bad, runny stomach. I still went for the run though and did 5K in 20:22 then slugged through another 14.4 laps. Maybe I will give it another try tomorrow.

11th Dec 2008
I ran a good 10K yesterday with my runningmate Skuks (as the gals call him) taking the time. I was in excellent condition. I had hydrated well, I ate well and had the psyche. In fact, it turns out we even had Ogutu's cousin available to take our timing for each lap. Sikuku was feeling tired from overtraining so I had the honour of having him take the time for me and I established my current times.
I started fast, this being the last positive split I would run. I cleared the first lap (by my standards) in 85 seconds and the next one in 98 seconds. I cleared the first Km in 3:43 and I crossed the 5Km mark in 22:10. The biggest problem was inhaling smoke from some burning rubbish nearby. It affected me accross some half dozen laps. But like they say, Africa is not for sissies.

I managed to sort of maintain an even pace of a 110.2 seconds per lap and cleared 10K in 45:55. This time I managed to keep all my timings below 2 minutes per lap.
At any rate, I will treat this as my PR and try to improve on it as we move along. Whats certain is that my speed has increased over the past two weeks: I have shaved off 23 seconds from last weeks 10K run.

My training is still inchoate right now. The only certain thing is that we run three times a week. Tomorrow being a public holiday affords me a chance to resume my long runs. I will do 24K and see what happens - its a huge one but what the heck. Lets see how it goes.

I am reading plenty of running literature for ideas that will go into a 9 month training plan that will hopefully culminate with me doing 60Kms per week and running a sub 19mins 5K and a Sub 40 mins 10k. That would be excellent.

And from next week, we are going negative as a strategy.

12th Dec 2008
I got up at 4:50am and went for a 24Km (approx) long run. My first LSR (Long Slow Run). I took it slow and basically had fun. I met close to ten runners and I was surprised that people are running at this time of the year. For the first time, I did the long run as I should: in a conversational pace. They bshould be run and 60-75% of one's VO2 Max and I did that and enjoyed myself. These endurance training runs help increase one's aerobic threshold by increasing the blood volume pumped by the heart and increasing build up of blood capillaries (tiny ones) and blood vessels in the working muscles. I concentrated on good form as opposed to speed and it went pretty well. I sorta speeded up in the last 3K as I should.

I am reading lots of text on running and running strategies and by the end of the XMas period, I will have devised a training schedule that can deliver Sub 1:30 half. I have realized that the speed runs have made my legs much stronger. I will factor them in with the necessary pylometric excercises. Ultimately, I know my training program will be very similar as that of one training for a marathon. Essentially, it will be a build up to my 2010 marathon debut.

Its Jamhuri Day. Some idiots in power are trying to gag our vibrant media. I am too annoyed to be annoyed any more so I just go about my business. I am looking for leather seats...