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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

3 Days After

Hope your recovery after Scotia Half is going well. I know Liz is doing fine. Liz and I were on the same bus going to work early this morning and I quickly learned that she was enjoying fresh air running around False Creek yesterday. On  the other hand, I was spinning in steamy studio in my gym, listening to the same sets of songs,  still not able to run after Sunday. My recovery has been progressing slower than expected. I did another spinning class tonight and hope to finally go for a run on Friday morning before work. 
The downhill stretch from UBC must have wrecked havoc to my legs on Sunday. They felt swollen and hot just after the race. I was concerned about having issues with inflammation again. Having experienced inflamed IT Band for 4 weeks last February, I would do anything to stay injury free and when it comes to inflammation I would not hesitate to use all tools that science or nature gave us and are at my disposal:

Cold Bath
Back home I tried to drop the internal temperature down a notch. With a little bit of procrastination, I filled my bathtub with lukewarm water and went in.  Not bad, even enjoyable. Turning on a tap with cold water was less pleasant. The water temperature dropped quickly. 
Listening to the Arcade Fire was a needed distraction. It was long, long 10 minutes before I got out. 

One of the personal trainers in my gym told me about his college days when he was on Advil for long stretches of time when playing rugby in Australia. Every workout or game was followed by hours of socializing in a local pub. It’s hard to resist Australian Shiraz, isn’t it? He developed ulcers after few years of this lifestyle. A lesson-learned I will always remember: Advil and alcohol don’t mix. One capsule of Advil in the morning and one in the evening have been part of my ritual since Sunday. I will need to stop after 5 days, just in time for a glass of Argentinean Malbec on Friday evening :-)

Voltaren Emulgel 
Another weapon in my arsenal against inflammation is Voltaren Emulgel specifically formulated for rubbing into a skin directly on inflamed joint or muscle. A former professional soccer player from Greece and colleague of mine from the next cube at work uses this gel on his knees every time after an intensive day of snowboarding on the local slopes. He swears that it works for him and it seemed to work for me on a couple of occasions as well. 

My preference is a natural product called Curamin. It is based on natural ingredient curcumin which is found in a popular Indian spice turmeric. This product is offered by Choices on 16TH and Capers on 4TH.  Many of my friends confirmed its effectiveness. Maybe I became oversensitive after my IT Band inflammation, but I take one of capsule of Curamin after each run.

To stay inflammation-free, you need to drink green tea
And you may relax if your breakfast has flax!

Injury and injury prevention has been part of my running since day one, but I hope you will not need to go back to this post too often :-)

Run Strong!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Scotiabank Half-Marathon

Congratulations to all of you who participated in Scotiabank Half Marathon this morning. What a perfect day for a race. I collected online results of those Alma runners I knew were running or I met before, during and after the race. Our running group is strong as the placement in each age group category clearly demonstrates. Janet placed 3rd in her age group and Helen qualified for New York Marathon next year. Well done!! 

Some of you were cheering and supporting us along the course: Jacquie, Erika, Ralph, Karen, Madelene, and Carsten. Thank you!

Recovery - No Speed Work and plenty of Rest
In general, for each mile of racing at maximum pace, there should be 1 day of recovery. I’m planning to have one week of recovery and decrease my mileage by 50% next week. I will do a gentle trail run on Tuesday evening and a easy run on Friday and Sunday morning. No speed work. No challenging pace on long runs. In case if I’m tired during a run, I will stop and walk or cut my run short. Cross training such as swimming, walking, or biking is perfect to speed up recovery. As far as diet is concerned, I will try to have one protein shake in the morning and one in the evening to speed up process of muscle repair. And of course, coconut water and Chia fresca will keep me hydrated.

You can learn more about half-marathon recovery from the experts on active trainer website 

Race or not to Race part 2

Erika and Madelene were surprised seeing me running flat-out. Well ... sitting on a bus to UBC at 6 am this morning I had few moments to think about my previous experience with half-marathons. Running Vancouver Half in 2002, my friend Kris and I were conversational and running in the middle of a pack. I was pacing a friend who was trying to qualify for NY Marathon in Fall Classic Half last year. The First Half race in February this year went south very quickly as I aggravated IT Band injury. Maybe today was the first time I could go fast for 13 miles? My dilemma to race or to take it easy was eventually resolved a couple of minutes before the gun went off. I did a quick “system” scan: no injuries, good health, solid sleep last night, pasta dinner yesterday, timely trip to the porta-potty, and of course an amazing weather. It seems that Running Gods gave us this perfect day and it would be such a waste not to take advantage of it. My strategy was to run at my new marathon race pace 6:20 min/mile. After a couple of miles, however, I had to admit the  pace was too fast and had to slow down, finishing this race with an average pace of 6:27 min/mile . My time goal for NY Marathon in November may be unrealistic. I will go through 6 weeks of intensive tempo runs and speed work in August and September first before reassessing my time goal for NY.



Age Group




Age Group

Gun Time

Chip Time





W  50-54







W 45-49







W 40-44







W 40-44







M  55-59







M  45-49







M  40-44







M  40-44







M  30-34



Thursday, June 23, 2011

Race or not to Race?

Race or not to race: that is the question. Many of us have registered for Scotia Half-Marathon this coming Sunday, June 26. Some of you asked me whether I would "race" Scotia Half. My initial answer was that I would "just run" it as part of my Sunday long run. But it is easier said than done. The excitement of thousands of runners getting ready for the race is contagious. The beeping sound of GPS watches being turned on and the adrenaline kicking in before the start may be simply irresistible.

On the other hand, I still remember a discussion our group had on a train coming back from Eugene in May when we talked about participating in other races such as Whistler Half in June. We checked Jeff Galloway's bible and learned that for each mile of running at maximum pace there should be a week of no-racing:

However beneficial this table may be for planning races of 26.2 miles, is it relevant for half-marathons? I had to search for other sources of information. In his book, Lore of Running, Tim Noakes recommends that runners should race no more than three 21+ km races per year and there should be 3-month interval between races of these distances. Counting 3 months from May, my next 21km race should be in late July and that would give me another 3-month no-racing break before my marathon in New York in November.

It looks like the science, the experts, and even my rational brain, all tell me not to "race" Scotia Half. But is my "other" brain strong enough to resist the excitement before the race? And what if you're a guy and a group of girls wearing pink is running fast in front of you? Do you have enough willpower to resist the temptation to pick up the pace and follow?

 Have a great race on Sunday.

Run Strong!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

15 Laws of Training

My colleague at work, also a runner, dropped by my desk last week and returned Tim Noakes', Lore of Running. For a moment I wished I had driven to work this day so I would't need to carry this book back home in my laptop case. For those of you who know this book, it's not only heavy, but also a little bit overwhelming with close to 1000 pages of advanced information about physiology and biochemistry of running, training, racing and staying injury free. However, browsing this book during my lunch break, I came across a chapter describing 15 laws of training and had an idea that this list would provide a good structure for my weekly posts to help us learn and improve our training methods together. So here you go: 15 Laws of Training by Tim Noakes:

  1. Train Frequently, All Year-Round
  2. Start gradually and train gently
  3. Train first for distance, only later for speed
  4. Don't set your daily training schedule in stone
  5. Alternate hard and easy training
  6. At first try to achieve as much as possible on a minimum of training
  7. Don't race when in training or run at race pace for distances above 16km
  8. Specialize
  9. Incorporate base training and peaking (sharpening)
  10. Don't over-train
  11. Train with a coach
  12. Train the mind
  13. Rest before a big race
  14. Keep a detailed logbook
  15. Understand the holism of training

Run Strong!

Beverages with Benefits

It's Saturday morning, shortly after 7 am. I just had a cup of coffee and a bagel to get some energy before heading for my cross training at the Gold's Gym at UBC. Looking outside my window I don't see any signs of hot summer that everyone predicts we will have this year. It's raining and cold and I feel for Tanya, a friend of mine who is participating in the Ride for Cancer, biking from Vancouver to Seattle this weekend.  However, only 3 days separate us from the official beginning of summer and sooner or later we'll be running on hot days that require proper hydration before, during and after a run. I came across a good article in Runners World describing beverages that offer various benefits to runners. Here you go:
  • Chocolate Milk - speeds up recovery after a run due to ideal ratio of protein and carbs (1:3, 8g of proteins and 26 g of carbs). I usually dilute it with Almond Milk as the chocolate milk is too sweet for me.
  • Coconut Water - it has more electrolytes than sports drink and has fewer calories (Blue Monkey Coconut Water lists 80 calories, astonishing 430 mg of potassium and 150 mg of sodium). However that may not be the case all the time. Gatorade G2 has only 20 calories and 5g of sugar, and some of the brands of coconut water I tried (Grace Coconut Water) had 26g of sugar and 130 calories. Taking Bikram classes, I remember that the teachers were advising students to drink coconut water after a session to replenish lost electrolytes. Drew replied to my earlier post saying that it was his drink of choice as well. Update: Coming back from the gym, I stopped by IGA and quickly looked at the selection of coconut water drinks. That's what was available: Grace in a 520 ml can for $1.69, Blue Monkey in a 500 ml bottle for $2.89, Blue Monkey in a 520 ml can for  $3.49, and O.N.E in a small 250ml container for $2.59. Grace product seems to offer the best value for a buck, but is also rich in sugar (26 g). Blue Monkey in a can has 10 g of sugar, but is also the most expensive one. Experimenting with coconut water I also realized that mixing Chia drink (see my previous post) with coconut water would result in a ultimate drink for runners: Chia Coconut Fresca!! with carbs, good fats and proteins from Chia, plus electrolytes, such as potassium and sodium from coconut water :-) 

  • Grape Juice - has more antioxidants than other juices and offers many health benefits.

  • Iced Green Tea - offers anti-inflammatory properties due to a compound called EGCG. My plan is to add green tea to my diet to prevent another inflammation of IT Band that kept me from running for 4 weeks back in February this year. 
Run strong and stay hydrated during the summer!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chia Fresca!

Many of you asked me about Chia seeds. Here you go :-)

Chia seeds were originally cultivated by an ancient Aztecs, the seeds are still used in Mexico as described and popularized in a book Born to Run by Chris McDougall.

I found Chia seeds at Whole Foods on Cambie, Capers on W. 4th and Choices on W. 16th.
Bob's Red Mill brand seems to offer the best value, $9.99 for a 450g.

Chia seeds provide a great source of fats, proteins and fiber.

That's a simple recipe to make a Chia Fresca drink that is perfect before or after a run:
  • Add 2 tablespoons of Chia seeds to 10 oz of water. I'm using Classico Pasta sauce jar as it has an engraved scale in ounces to make measurement easier

  • Stir and wait 3 minutes
  • Stir again and wait for another 3 minutes
  • After approximately 6 minutes, the seeds will form a gel

  • Add 2 tablespoons of lime juice or 2-4 oz of sports drink

  • Shake well and serve

Enjoy it!

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