Monday, 7 April 2014

Yet another injury, missing one race and planning another

Since I started running, I have been injured a couple of times a year. It was about six weeks ago that I twisted my left ankle. For a couple of weeks before then I couldn't run quite often due to the air pollution in Tehran. And I decided to sneak a couple of long runs while I was away in mid February. We were in Qeshm Island - the largest island in the Persian Gulf - and it was a great day for running. I started running at 6am and after almost 200 metres my left ankle twisted. I stopped, walked for a few seconds and started running again. I knew that it might get worse after this run, but I couldn't help running. after a few minutes the pain faded away. I ran 14 km and when I finished my run the pain came back. It wasn't the worst ankle sprain I had, but it took me longest to recover. I am just about to recover now, but I missed so many training sessions that I decided - only 12 days before the race - not to run the Iznik Ultramarathon. 

My next race will be Eiger Ultra Trail in July. That is going to be the hardest race I have ever run. I am not in the best shape now and need to train really hard for this monster (101 km and 6700 meters of elevation gain) I will start my training in a few days and might attend a shorter ultra before then to earn enough qualifying points for UTMB 2015. 

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Running and alcohol, not the best combination!

The other night I went for a 10k run on snow, slush and ice. Didn't drink before and during the run. After running I had a banana and a small bottle of water. Up to this point it was going all right. That was when I started drinking with friends and had several drinks during the night. And as a result came the worst hangover I've ever had that lasts for more than 24 hours. I missed one training session and was feeling absolutely fatigue the day after. 

If you are a runner you are likely to have low alcohol tolerance. There is a few reasons to that. You probably only drink occasionally, so your body hasn't built up the same alcohol tolerance as someone who drinks regularly. Because you run regularly your metabolism rate is higher and you get the effects of alcohol faster than someone who doesn't exercise regularly. And because you are likely to have less body fat alcohol remains in your body longer. 

Alcohol affects your training in different ways. In short term it slows down your recovery process as drinking alcohol can lead to dehydration if you don't drink enough water. It ruins your workout the day after as it increases the risk of unusual heart rhythm so you cannot have an intense training session for a day or two after heavy drinking. In long term it can affect your weight as you get a lot of empty calories from alcohol. 

Drinking in moderation doesn't affect your health. But if you are a runner, give it a second thought the next time you head out for a few drinks. I will.

Read more about the matter here

Sunday, 5 January 2014

2014 km in 2014

Happy new year everyone!

In 2013 I ran 1468 km. Considering a couple of injuries and the time I dedicated to hiking, It wasn't a bad year at all. Now that I have planned a couple of marathons and ultras for 2014, I will try to run more than 2014 km this year. That's 5.5 km a day on average. Let's see how it goes.

Wish you all the best in 2014.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Dr Jack Daniels on types of training

I only got to know Dr Jack Daniels yesterday. I reckon these videos are quite useful and worth sharing. He introduces four types of training and describes the benefits of each type.

Yeah! We are indeed different

"Runners, Yeah we're different" is an advertising campaign by adidas back in 2000. Each ad reveals a part of runner's life. It shows the commitment, dedication and obsession of runners. If you are a runner you have probably experienced most of these situations and you do remember how everyone stares at you.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Istanbul Marathon; On running my slowest marathon

“I always start these events with very lofty goals, like I’m going to do something special.And after a point of body deterioration, the goals get evaluated down to basically where I am now – where the best I can hope for is to avoid throwing up on my shoes.” Nuclear Engineer and ultrarunner, Ephraim Romesberg, 65 miles into the Badwater Ultramarathon

Three weeks ago I ran the Istanbul marathon. And that happened to be my slowest marathon yet. I was not expecting a PR as I didn't train properly for a few weeks. I didn't think that it would go so badly either. 

The race started on Sunday morning in a great vibe. The start line is located in Asian part of the Istanbul just next to the Bosphorus Bridge. It was a bit hard to pass the other runners on the bridge as the road was relatively narrow and there was only one starting group. But the scenery was  great and the weather could hardly be any better. 

As I passed the 2 km mark, I started to pick up my pace. I was probably going too fast and I knew it but I was feeling great and could not convince myself to slow down. My average pace was 5 min/km for the first half of the race. Given that my best time in marathon was 3:49 with a pace around 5:20, I knew I was going too fast. I knew I might hit the wall and won't be able to keep up with this pace. But I also knew that I was not in the best shape and I might hit the wall anyway. So I decided to run in this pace as far as I can and if something went wrong I would try to manage it.

It was around kilometre 28 (Just before the turn around point) That I felt the sharp pain under the arch of my right foot. I did ignore that for a couple of minutes but the pain grew and I could hardly run. The pain was quite similar to ankle sprain. I stopped, walked for a little while, stretched my calves and started to run again. But the longest distance I could cover by running was about 300-400 metres. 

I did hit the wall during the Frankfurt marathon last year when I was down due to quad cramps and fatigue. In Frankfurt I was not sure if I could finish the race, I had pain all over my body but I could at least walk comfortably. This time it was different though. I was not feeling tired, If only I could get rid of that pain in my foot I would finish it in quite a good time. But the pain was growing up and after 35km I was limping and taking care of my right leg. I was grabbing my right leg with my hand and pull it forward in every single steps. It was not the question of getting to the finish line, I was sure I can make it there. It was that I wanted to get there in a good time and in a good shape. I could see that it is not possible with this physical condition. 

Because I was running in really bad form, there were more pressure on my knees. So the closer I got to the finish line the more difficult it became to run. Finally I dragged myself to the end and when I saw the time on the official race clock, I felt sad. I could not believe that I finished a marathon in 4:16. When I reached the halfway mark, I was 7 minutes ahead of my PR. And now I was finishing the race almost half an hour behind it. It was the first time ever that I crossed the finish line and was not chuffed.

Another marathon finished and I would consider it as a great experience. I could finish the race easier and faster if I paced myself better and did not start too fast. But as strange as sounds I don't regret that. What I found is that I could keep the 5 min/km pace for 25 kilometres even though I did not train properly for that pace. So If I train harder and If I can keep up that pace along the course, a 3:30 marathon is achievable. 

I would not run another race until I am absolutely ready for that. Having said that it would not give me an excuse to cancel any planned race, but to train harder and get into the best shape I can be. I would run more often and put some serious strength workout into my training routine. I would get leaner and faster and become a better runner. Istanbul marathon was not the easiest one but it did for sure make me stronger. 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Resolutions, Once again

Last Friday I turned 31. And it is time to think about the resolutions. Last year in early December I posted my resolutions here and I am quite pleased that I achieved them all. This year I will try to be more precise in my goals.

So if I miss any of these by the end of November 2014, Please feel free to question me.

- Running a couple of ultras and get enough qualifying points for UTMB 2015. 
In case you are not familiar with UTMB, Ultra Trail Mont-Blanc is one of the greatest mountain ultras in the world. It's a race every ultra runner would like to run.  To run this race you require qualifying points which you can earn by running a number of ultras. For the main race you need 7 points and for shorter distances (Short is quite relative here as a couple of short races are over 100km!) you need 2 points. I've already got 2 points by finishing the K78 last July. I am planning to run another couple of ultras to get all the qualifying points for 2015. The first one is Iznik Ultra in April and I will probably run the CCC race in August.

- A 3:20 Marathon
After running a few marathons, I can say that I am more into trail running and will run more trail marathons. However I do have a time target for a road marathon.  I'd try to cut 30 minutes from my PR. That's going to be a marathon in 3:20!

- Losing more weight, get leaner and faster
 When I started running, I did so to lose weight. Now I want to lose weight to be a better runner. That's going to be achieved by healthy diet, Strength training, Plyometrics, Speed work and off course running!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Istanbul Marathon Done!

Istanbul marathon done in an embarrassing time of 4:16:58. I will post the full details in a few days. Not every marathon goes as well as you expect. There were important lessons to be learned from this marathon.

Stay tuned

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Istanbul Marathon in a week

I am now tapering for my fifth marathon. As I said before mental preparation is an essential part of training for a marathon. I was planning to set a PR in Istanbul, but given that I've missed quite a few training sessions and was not able to run properly for a few weeks, a PR now sounds far too optimistic. I know Istanbul is going to be a tough one but that doesn't stop me from trying my best. It might hurt a lot, but I will embrace the pain and go on. I might not be in the best shape but I am ready for the challenge.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Resolutions, commitment, achievement

Last year, a couple of weeks after my 30th birthday, I wrote down my running resolutions and for the first time ever I published it here. Now it's time to set new goals but before that, I have to review my last year's resolutions to see where I am standing now.

Theses are what I was expecting myself to do until 22nd November 2013:

Running my first Ultra. 
I did finish Swissalpine K78. Running my first ultra was indeed a great experience. For sure I am going to run more ultras.

Running at least three marathons.
Dubai Marathon (Dec 2012), Paris Marathon (March 2013) and Istanbul Marathon (Due on 17th November). So if everything goes all right in Istanbul, this one is also done.

Losing more weight. 
Done! I am 5-6 kg lighter than last year.

Strength workout, plyometrics, stretching and swimming more often. 
Pretty much done. Although I still skip stretching most of the time and leave swimming for when I am recovering from an injury!

Adding Speedwork and hills sessions into my training. 
Almost done. I spent quite a lot of time hiking and training for my first ultra. Long runs were more important than intervals and speed sessions. I could have add more fartleks, tempos and intervals into my training plan.

Hiking to the top of two major summits in Iran. 
I wanted to get to these summits for many years. Thanks to the fitness level I gain by running, I mounted Damavand and Sabalan in comfort. I also had several fast ascents (running and fast hiking) to Tochal, my favourite summit in Northern Tehran.

Encouraging people to run. 
Since I got serious about running I have always been encouraging people around me to run. I am quite pleased to see a few runners around me now. I - with the help of a couple of friends - organised a weekly run in one of the busiest sport and leisure centres in Tehran. Since it started in early June, quite few people joined us. There were weeks when there were only two or three of us. But some weeks we were up to fifteen people. Some didn't like it and left after a couple of weeks (well, at least they gave running a try. For sure running is not for everyone). And some got into it and showed up every week. Next week I'm off to Istanbul to run the marathon. And three friends of mine -who were all part of the club - are running the 15k race.

So, overall it hasn't been a bad year. New running resolutions coming in a few days.

Friday, 1 November 2013

"Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional"

It's been a stressful month. Since 5 weeks ago, I've been pretty much away from running due to air pollution and a few health problems. Of which some can be serious. I am not talking about those issues here -at least for now- but I'd assure you I am not making excuses. There is no point in doing so.

Since I started running, my definition of many concepts in life has changed. When you leave your comfort zone, pain is no longer something to be scared of but a sign that you're on the right track. What sounded impossible is now something achievable, something to make you motivated.

Running means a lot to me. It has simply changed my life. When I started running, I was overweight, absolutely out of shape and a heavy drinker (Although I wouldn't agree with this back then). And now after more than three years of running, I cannot imagine myself not running. Running has taken me to a lot of places I would never go if I wasn't a runner. I experienced life in a whole new way. Enjoyed every bit of hard training and sacrifices that I made. Now that it has transformed my life, I don't like to get back to my previous life. I don't want to be overweight again. This is why being away from running really hurts.

I have missed a few training sessions. I am not quite prepared for my next marathon. I am not able to run neither as fast nor as far as I'd like to. But I am determined to keep going. I am not quite fit but I am quite excited to run another marathon. Running - in addition to everything brought to my life - is something that keeps me alive.

The title is a quote by Haruki Murakami, read in "What I talk about when I talk about running"

Monday, 14 October 2013

Upcoming races

I just added a new page to this blog called "Upcoming Races". There are a few races that I have already registered. I'd add more races to the list as I plan further on. There will also be a "wish list" of the races that I would like to run. Please have a look at this page and let me know if you're up for any of theses. It would be great if you also suggest your favourite races.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

FAQs part 1

Here are a few questions I've been asked frequently.

How long is a marathon?
Marathon is always 42.195 km long. In imperial units it is equal to 26.2 miles. Wherever you see the term Marathon, it refers to this distance. However, some Ultramarathon events might use "Marathon" in their title (Like the famous Comrades Marathon)

Do you run all that? Usually asked right after you answer the first question
Yes, pretty much you run all the course.

Can you stop or walk?
Of course you can. Nobody is going to blame you if you walk for a while. Most races though have specific time limit. And you need to cross the finish line before then to be recognised as an official finisher.

What was your ranking?
This is pretty much the least important figure for a runner. Here I am obviously not talking about elite runners. I mean for the average marathon runners it doesn't matter how many people have crossed the finish line before them. You only compete with yourself.

What do you think about all those hours?
Pretty much everything. Anything from your resolutions, life plans to taking the very next step.

Is it not boring?
To me it's not. Many people may find distance running boring. Some of them have never tried it before.

Why do you run?
There are many reasons behind it. But if I want to give you a single reason that is I run to live my life to the fullest. I run to feel alive.

How did it all started?
I started running when I was absolutely out of shape. I used to run to lose weight. It was not the most enjoyable activity at the beginning, but after a couple of months I got used to it. And now running is simply an essential part of my life.

How often do you run?
Usually 5 to 6 times a week. Sometimes I do doubles (Running in the morning and in the evening) And sometimes take a couple of days off.

How long do you run everyday?
I don't run a fix distance everyday. I usually have one long run (15-30 km) a week. a couple of easy runs (10k ish) and a couple of hill or interval sessions. When I train for a marathon I peak at 70-80 km a week. For ultras it goes up to 100-110 km a week.

What is an ultra?
Any race farther than 42.195 km is called ultra-marathon.

Is there any questions you've been asked frequently about distance running? Is there anything you would like to know that I might be able to answer? Post your questions here and I'll answer them with FAQs Part 2.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Here comes my favourite running season

After a long summer, finally the heat is gone and my favourite running season has started. In five weeks I'll be running my fifth marathon in Istanbul. That means that I've got only 3 weeks to train for that. Not in the best shape now but I'll try my best to set a PR there.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Feeling adventurous! A few races I'd love to run

"I don't know where the limit is, but I know where it's not." Josef Ajram

Quite often I've been asked about my next running adventure. If there is any particular race that I consider as my ultimate goal. Or what PR I expect myself to reach?

Since I started running, I've never gone for a run that I regret. I've pushed myself to the limit - and probably beyond - Embraced the pain and enjoyed every bit of training to achieve my goals. I don't know how far or how long I'll be able to push myself. I do not have an ultimate goal for my running either. But I know I would go for a new challenge whenever I got the chance.

Here are - in no particular order - a few races that I'd love to run. Click on the race title to reach the official website

Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon, Nepal

Starts from the Everest base camp at 5364m to Nameche Bazaar at 3446m. It is the highest trail running event in the world. Prior to the race you'd spend a couple of weeks hiking few hours a day to acclimatize and get ready for the race.

Marathon des Sables, Morroco

Known as one of the toughest footraces on earth, MdS is a six-day running event covering more than 150 miles while carrying all your stuff under the desert sun. You can now pre-register for 2015.

The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica

Six-day race along Costa Rica's tropical Pacific coastline and a coastal mountain range covering the total distance of 250km.

The Polar Circle Marathon, Greenland

Polar Circle Marathon aka "the coolest marathon on earth" is an annual marathon in Greenland. Along the course you pass glacier tongues, moraine landscapes and soundless, arctic desert. And the temperature in November is usually around -10 Degree Celsius.

So which one do you find more adventurous? Have you ever run any of these? Is there any other race that you can suggest?