Tuesday 30 March 2010

Comrades Ultra Marathon Training

Every now and then you seek a challenge. And then having met the challenge, you perhaps seek to do something which will test you a bit more. What started off by trying to run 1km on a treadmill 10 years ago without stopping, has now gotten me signed up for what is the biggest challenge that I am embarking on. I have signed up for the 89km Comrades Ultra Marathon from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, on May 30th this year.
Its a minimum of a 6 month training program and I for god knows what reason, could only start training in right earnest in March. I started with a 14 km run which was the longest I had run since Dec 6th when I ran our very own Running And Living Gurgaon Marathon.
Then I looked at the training program and I should have logged 51 miles that week and I had barely done 30km!!! But it was a start.
The next week I decided to go into the groove and did a 33km long run the next week with overall mileage at 60km which was still short of the required 85km that week but I guess I was climbing in mileage so I still felt fine. But I encountered a problem synching MiCoach with my computer and found the only help available was a phone line to Singapore - thats a bit tough.

The next week I got an Adidas MiCoach to test out and tried it on my runs and found the initial set up different and somewhat less intuitive than my polar system since that has a watch display and this has an audio feedback system.
But the great thing about this is that when I started my 42.2km long run on Sunday at 4am, it was easy to get the feedback of pace, heart rate and distance etc. Ran with Randeep the previous weekend and this week too, he came along, as did Arvind who joined us during our 2nd loop. Was great to run in company and also have an audio feedback in the dark.
This 3rd week of training I equaled the scheduled 54 miles.
The next week began in right earnest with the long run only a 20 miler - look at me saying 'only' - now. I was also going to Chandigarh and Shimla to work on planning and administration fr our upcoming runs there, so it was going to be great to get some downhill running training done, since this years Comrades is a down run which includes 22km of steep descent towards the latter part of the more than 2 marathon distance.
Wednesday was a reshuffled rest day and on Thursday I did a recce in the car with Vijay Parmar for adding on toughness into our Shimla Half, armed with his GPS, and then I got dropped off and armed myself with his GPS monster gadget and MiCoach and set about running the new route. It is breathtakingly beautiful - It will definitely take your breath away and make the best runners walk about a km or 2, and get people like myself to walk a bit more, over the course. I missed not having GPS, a display and an altimeter on MiCoach, which would make it more handy at a USD2K price point. Over the course of the 21.1k I found a difference in the distances on the GPS tracker and MiCoach where the latter was short by around 300m. Need to get to the bottom of that because maybe as I carried the GPS tracker in my hand for a while the to and fro arm motion could have added to the distance, so some more investigating to do.
Friday I left Vijay's house in Shimla at 430am armed with MiCoach and went down a half marathon distance, with trucks and a few buses and cars coming slowly uphill, wondering what this crazy guy was up to.
Ended the week with a Saturday 20 miler run back in Gurgaon where I started the run with Umesh and I was delighted to find Namburi, Ravi, Randeep and Arvind join us after a 11km loop and then we discovered a lovely cross country trail in the Aravallis. Need to go down further on that one this week and discover if it has potential for an entire half marathon.
More soon on that one. But I felt great at the end of that run since with 2 rest days in the 7 days, I had completed 140km of running - the most I have ever run in a week. That was like doing the Comrades and then 51km more, all in a week and coming out pain free. Now got to work on building some pace into the runs as there is a 12 hour lmit on this hill and tough ultra
More soon

Saturday 20 March 2010

Adidas MiCoach

Was in Jaipur for 2 days so I wasn't able to run on Thursday as I drove out at 6am, so I swapped my rest day with the usual one of Friday. On Friday morning my wife and I went out for a run in a lovely wooded part of town just near the University on Jawahar Lal Nehru Marg - Smriti Van - set up by Rajasthan Patrika Newspaper and now managed by the Jaipur Development Authority and the Forest Department.
It's one of the nicest in city running tracks that I have been on, lots of walkers, but unfortunately I had left My Adidas Mi coach in the hotel so my 7 mile run was one that was with the only statistics provided by my stopwatch, which was also fine. It was lovely, but no data.
Today, back home in Gurgaon, I read the instructions again, synched micoach with my Macbook Air, and checked that all systems were fine, and then I went for a 7mile pace run training for my 89km Comrades Ultra Marathon, on my treadmill, and also with micoach.
I think what I am missing sorely, is a display I can refer to and get info real time whenever I want to. I obviously did not press the appropriate button on the pacer as I got no feedback during the run. The absence of a display and also of an audio feedback post pressing the running icon button leaves me wondering if the device has started or not. I would have loved a GPS visual real time tracker yesterday when I was running in Jaipur.
Now at 8000 rupees this is what I would expect on a running device, especially since it is now available in several phones too.
While n the topic of running devices I must add that I am also quite unhappy with my top of the line Polar system RS 800SD. They seem to specialise in making sophisticated stuff which is very user unfriendly. The battery of the foot pod has been changed quite a few times over and still functions erratically - I will try taking that out tomorrow when I do my 42km training run, and will also take out MiCoach. The heart rate monitor of the polar has been better but there again the buttons of the heart sensor have had to be cleaned with some vinegar to get rid of the green coatings!! What I love about the polar is the wireless connectivity of the devices, with the watch.
Wish MiCoach could do something similar. The latter has an audio interface but I am not a great fan of having something stuck in my ear while running.
Lets see how it pans out tomorrow

Tuesday 16 March 2010

Adidas My Coach

I am about to start trying out an Adidas product - MiCoach, which will be my real time coach. Quite intrigued to see how it will work. Got it from the company yesterday.
Comes in a neat box - got out the contents, read the manual and charged it.

Would have been good if it had a small pouch to store all the contents once removed from the box.
Well the start guide is slim and non intimidating, so thats a great start, hmm but the font size could have been a bit bigger in a few places, especially the colour coded bands outlining the heart rate zones.

I charged the unit, registered and set up my account,

The Contents miss out the battery which is snugly fitted into the box, something I discovered only this morning as I was putting on my stride sensor.

Then for some reason I couldn't get the pacer to start - perhaps it was not fully charged from yesterday - so I went for a 1okm run without MiCoach today.
Am setting it up fully today to be all set for my run tomorrow and gearing up for my marathon distance run on Sunday as prep towards the 89km Comrades run on 30th May
More soon