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Updated: 2018-03-06T20:59:57.245+11:00


Blog has MOVED


I notice a few new people have followed this blog. Please don't!

Everything has moved to
... and I would much rather you follow there... since there is nothing new to see here :)

If you like following via Google, you can still do it by entering the new address into your reading list:

Due to the whole Google Plus thing, and me not wanting all my photos visible on there, I've deleted all my pictures from Google Plus. I haven't checked on here, but I guess they've probably gone. So.... go to new blog:



Since I now do more than just run, I wanted to change the name of my blog. I use WordPress for my other sites so decided to make the switch for this one.

If you're following on Google, please make the switch to receive email notifications on my new blog. It will make me feel better about currently having zero subscribers on it!

If you manage links on other sites, such as your blogs or barefoot/minimalist related sites, please update them to the new address:

I still promote barefoot and minimalist training - it's just not all about running - I even wore racing flats to my strongman and powerlifting comps! (Adizero PR and Adizero PRO) And I do 99% of my weight training barefoot.

Hope to see you commenting over there :)

What is it again?

First Powerlifting Comp


I really need to rename my blog...Yesterday I entered my first powerlifting comp. I have been training at Melbourne Uni for a couple of weeks and it just so happened that there was a novice comp I could enter. At the start of the year I started losing weight so I could compete in a lower weight class, but then when I started proper training they said there's a comp in 2 weeks so I realised I wasn't going to have enough time to do that. I decided just to enter this one to see what it was like and then I can lose weight slowly for whenever the next one is. Just as well I didn't make it to the weight class below anyway because I was the only girl in <84kg so I won it!Weigh in was at 9. I was at the lower end of the weight class but I had no competition so it was no big deal. I was told the lower you are, the better your Wilks score is so that was good. I had to bring my opening card to the weigh in. I had no idea what to start with but I wanted to get PBs or equivalent on everything, so I decided to open so that everything was a warm up for my 2nd attempt would would be what I wanted, and 3rd attempt would be a bonus.We had some coaches help up get our warm up right. Basically reps for each lift were 5, 3, 1, 1. My final warm up single for the squat was 75kg. This was so light, and I was opening with 85. I don't usually go up in 10kgs at that % of 1RM but they said it would be easy. So far in powerlifting I have left everything to the coaches and so far it's worked and they were right. I opened with 85 and it was easy. 1 red light for depth but I got it so I was happy. My 2nd attempt was 90. This is equal to my PB at home, but at home I was wearing lifting shoes, and they made me ditch them when I started training! So this was going to be tough. 3 white lights and it was in so I was happy I had got to where I wanted. My 3rd attempt was 92.5. It was heavy and I was too slow. I knew it was not low enough and 3 red lights confirmed. The squat is my favourite lift, but when it's heavy, it's definitely the toughest.A. arrived during the equipped lifters squats so he could video the rest for me. This was actually really useful as I can see I need to arch my back a lot more on the bench. The good raw lifters were able to maintain a big arch, meaning they didn't have to move the bar much at all. The good thing about my benches is that I am really steady when the bar is lowered so I didn't have to wait long for the command to press. My first attempt was 45kg. I knew this would be easy, and it was. My 2nd attempt was 50kg. I knew I could get it, but it was a PB so I knew it might be tough. It felt heavy, but ok. My 3rd attempt was 52.5 and I failed that. Didn't bother me as I already got my PB.I haven't done many heavy deadlifts in the past 12 months and I have been stuck on a max of 105kg for so long so I felt like I had a huge mental barrier to break through. Although I have pulled much more than that off blocks and again at the strongman comp last year (14 reps at 108kg) I just haven't been able to pull from the floor very easily. Last year I did most of my deadlifts sumo, but my coach told me to go with conventional for now so it's been hard for my weak core to get used to this after sumo. For these reasons I opened with 102.5kg. It was easy. 2nd attempt was 107.5. This was easy too! 3rd attempt was 112.5 and this was fairly easy too! I was really happy with my new PB although in hindsight I should have started at 105 and finished with 115.I haven't given up running, but I'm walking without limping and I want to keep it that way! At the moment there's a fine line between being 'just ok' to breaking myself. So I'm sticking to the shorter stuff, just once or twice a week. I need to rename this blog and I want to transfer it to Wordpress, but can't think of a name I like that isn't already taken. Any suggestions?Medal for being the only one in my weight class[...]



This time 4 years ago I was on a walk/run routine strictly in Five Fingers. That summer I was able to get over a long term injury (1.5 years?) and build up my distance for the first time ever.

Today I am on a walk/run routine, strictly in Five Fingers, getting over a different long term injury (3+ Years).

Today was 100% pain free and I can't wait til I can run the whole way! I can't wait til I can do hill sprints again! My natural running pace has improved from not running. My cardio fitness is there and my strength is better than ever due to weight training. A couple more weeks to go and running the whole way is scheduled! But I'm going to be cautious and not do anything long for a while.

In the meantime I've come up with my race schedule for 2012. I'm going to get fitter and faster. I'm going to get close to my 5km PB which dates back to 2009. Then I'm going to get close to or beat my half marathon PB (not sure how though as none of the HMs on the calendar interest me). Then I'm going to BEAT my 50km trail PB and finish by SMASHING that goddamn Great Ocean Walk race.


Werribee Gorge


I rarely head out west to hit the trails but today I decided to check out Werribee Gorge for the first time and did the 8km circuit track.

This really is the wild west! The terrain is the complete opposite of everything out east. The ground is rough, rocky and ragged. The trees are not dense and there is little shade. It was 30 degrees today but I seem to be doing better walking and running in the heat lately so the temperature didn't really affect me. I wore my racing flats and they were perfectly suitable.

I had to backtrack a few times in the first couple of km as there are lots of unmapped trails and at times the actual trail wasn't clear. At one point I was certain I was following a trail, but while trying to scramble up a dry creek bed and crawling on all fours up a grassy cliff that was probably home to many snakes, I decided I had to turn back. It was just as hard sliding down. Once I was back on the real trail it was much clearer the rest of the way.

The geology is really amazing here. There are lots of information signposts, that I don't usually read, but these were interesting. They describe how the rocks are shaped and some of the Aboriginal culture. 

Needles Beach looks like a great swimming area
There are some great lookouts along the way and you can even see the city skyline from one. The trail is quite runnable until you get to the river. From there you have to rock-hop along the river bed. What is not mentioned in my guidebook or the Parks Vic notes is that you do have to do some horizontal rock climbing. Some of it REALLY took me out of my comfort zone! That was a great surprise!

Hold onto the cable but who knows where your feet are supposed to go.
I didn't really run much of the way as I still have about a month to go til I am allowed to run properly. At times I settled into what has been my slow jog for much of this year, but it was so awkward I had to run with a proper running gait and could do this pain free! Now THAT'S good news! Still wasn't 100% for the run but of the bits I did run, it was feeling much more natural and proper.

There are some more areas to explore around here so I'll be back again soon.



Last weekend was the Razorback run. I was very disappointed to have to DNS in this but when the physio said it would take around 12 weeks to get back to running he looked at me like I was crazy when I asked, "Can I do a short run in 3 weeks?"

We went up there anyway and walked a very small section of the Razorback trail. There was lots of cloud, a little drizzle, and it was surprisingly not too cold.

It is such great terrain up there, I really hope to do this next year. I am missing my weekly trail run and have a list of maps and trails to discover when I am able.

Strongman Competition


Since I am not running for a while due to tarsal tunnel syndrome, I've been getting into some other training.

Yesterday was Melbourne's Strongest Man Comp and there were 4 of us girls entered. I have only been to 2 strongman training sessions so being a newbie I was good at the stuff I already know and crap at everything else! I came equal 3rd/last.

First up was the farmers walk and tyre flip. The farmers walk was 59.5kg in each hand - heavier than I had done in training and the tyre was 220kg - a bit heavier than the 150kg they originally said the girls would flip! I dropped the farmers walks 3 times in the 20 metres so I think technically I was out then. George told me to keep going anyway but I just could not flip that tyre. I have not even been able to flip it in training so I knew this event would suck. After watching the rest of the guys do this event, it was clear that short people have a disadvantage in this one!

The second event was the overhead medley. I've been adding more clean and jerks into my training with the olympic barbell, and in the two strongman training sessions I've been to, managed to nail the technique for the log and keg so I knew this would be a good event for me. We had 60 seconds to press a 45lb dumbbell, 40kg keg, 40kg log and 45kg axle. I think I did it in around 45 seconds and came third in this.

Next was the 50kg tyre drag for 20 metres. I am ok at this, although not fast. This is the only event that irritates my ankle. I'm pretty slow at this, which is strange since my leg strength should be good enough to go faster. I think I came last in this one.

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The fourth event was the one I was most confident in. Deadlift for reps in 75 seconds with olympic bar + a 44kg tyre each side for a total of 108kg. I got 14 reps in. It was really easy at first but I wanted to pace myself. By the end it was getting heavy! I came second in this.

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The last event was the atlas stone. Originally the girls were supposed to use a 50kg stone but I don't think they had one. The lightest was 63kg! After the shock of seeing it being weighed, I then saw the bar it was supposed to be dropped over. It was so high it was at shoulder height for me! But not to worry, only one of the girls could even lift the stone and she did 3 reps. She's been strongman training for quite a while and none of us other girls had even lifted a stone before so I wasn't bothered by this.

It was a really long day as there were many weight classes for the guys so I was there for 6 hours all up! They were still continuing into the evening with the deadlift and bench comp and the open section of the strongman for the super strong truck pulling types.

This is all really good training for running so when my stupid ankle is better I should be able to get back into things fairly quickly. On Saturdays I'll be alternating strongman and kettlebell training, and keep it up even when I can run again.

GOW 2011 DNF again :(


The lead up to this race wasn't very good due to injury. I'd been getting acupuncture treatment which helped a bit, but all that work was undone in the actual race.I went in confident I could handle any conditions. I wore my Inov-8 Talon 190 shoes that enable me to run through ankle deep mud and grip the trail like nothing else. I noticed a few other people wear them too. I also knew I could handle any wild weather as I have been training in crap weather over the past few months and got used to it. All the mandatory gear could be packed in my small Nathan pack and I was very happy not to carry a big pack like so many others out there.The day before I worked out what was the slowest possible pace I could do while making the cut off times. It seemed I could even do better than "just make it" so I aimed to have a 30-60 minute buffer on each cut off time.The run started at 6:15am and the weather was perfectly mild. The start is very flat so everyone was off to a cracking start, I hung on near the back of the pack quite well and my ankle warmed up after 5 minutes so I felt quite comfortable and confident.There was quite a bit of mud in the first section, but nothing like last year. I was so happy to be wearing the most awesome shoes ever that enabled me to be confident and not slip at all. When the mud was super deep I just walked so my shoes would not get sucked off but I was able to keep moving about a million times better than last year.I made it to the first checkpoint at Blanket Bay spot on for my slow pace, about 45 minutes before the cut off time. My legs felt good and I only had the occasional twinge from my ankle. I stocked up on food and head off again happily.Unfortunately things started to come undone here. The softer sandy beach and trail sections wreaked havoc with my ankle and I could no longer run on any flat sections. I managed some hobbling where the left leg would run, and the right leg would drag along but it was getting uncomfortable. At times it rained heavily and it was very cold while not running.At Cape Otway Lighthouse the trail became very runnable - if there wasn't anything wrong with my ankle. I just couldn't manage it. I walked as fast as I could on the ups and the flats, and jogged the downhills. There was one tree that had fallen down and there was no way around it. I found myself on all fours crawling through the branches.I thought I was coming dead last the whole time but 2 people overtook me here. I was surprised! But soon enough the sweepers caught up with me. They backed off a bit so I didn't feel rushed and I made it into Checkpoint 2 at Aire River with 20 minutes to spare, briefly catching up to the other 2 that had passed me. I stocked up on food and water, happy I'd made another cut off time.There were 3 hours to get to Johanna Beach, just 13km away. I thought even if I have to walk it, I should still make it. This section was gently undulating and the most runnable section in the first half of the course. Unfortunately because there were no steep downhills, and the sandy surface had well and truly ruined my ankle, I had to walk most of this. It was even hard to walk some parts and my right ankle just wasn't functioning as it is supposed to. I was devastated. I knew my time was up and I would not make it to the next checkpoint in time.When I hit Johanna Beach the sweepers caught up to me and they joined me for the 2km strip of soft sand. We walked and talked, occasionally wetting our feet in the ocean. The ocean is so powerful and it just roars constantly. This is a lovely beach, but I wouldn't want to be caught in the water! There was one river crossing at the end of the beach before hitting the dirt road to the next checkpoint. I was about 20 minutes too late. My leg muscles felt fairly fresh but that was it for me.It was such a shame to not finish this course AGAIN. I was so[...]

Cram Training


While getting acupuncture treatments every 5 days I have been also getting some cram training done for the GOW. My ankle is feeling much better and there are times I can even run properly. The acupuncturist says I have tarsal tunnel syndrome. Makes sense. I think I will have just one more session as the pain is so unbearable, it would be more comfortable to tattoo my whole body than get another needle or massage in my ankle.

On Friday I did my last long run before the big day. I did a loop through the Tanglefoot Track in Toolangi Forest to the top of Mt St Leonard and return along Quarry Track. It was only 21km but took 3 hours 45 mins. I took 3 phone calls on the go, walked up the steep hills, and did not press pause on my watch when I stopped to see a lyrebird or flick off leeches, so hopefully my time is not too bad considering all that.

I packed my small Nathan Intensity pack with all my gear for GOW. It was just about bursting at the seams, but I am so glad I can just fit everything in. My headlamp really made things a tight fit but because that is worth money I'm not sure I want to leave it at a checkpoint. Usually I'm very self sufficient and prefer to carry everything with me at all times, but this time I'll have to make thorough use of dropbags at each checkpoint, remember to refill with water, and even rely on the food provided at the checkpoints. It will be great to carry this smaller pack rather than one of my big packs. I also have a little pouch that I'll attach to the waist strap to carry food and my map.

Generally speaking I felt good and fresh, only limping occasionally and really enjoyed it. It was sunny for most of the run, except for about 5 minutes when it hailed. I was very glad I packed everything including my jacket :) Due to recent rains there was one small river crossing, and one track had pretty much turned into a stream. I am always surprised at how cold the water is!

You Yangs 50km 2011


I was secretly very happy this year when the You Yangs 5050 was postponed due to flooding in July because it meant a) I had more time to train and b) It would fit in nicely as a decent long run before GOW which is 4 weeks after.Unfortunately (what I thought was) my achilles troubles has been holding me back from specific running training. I've been hitting the trails once a week, aiming for difficult terrain with GOW in mind. I've run in ankle deep mud, through thunder, hail and snow, and climbed up hills that would have been easier with an ice pick. Although I haven't done long distances, I've done long times!Last weekend was the You Yangs 50km and I was terribly under prepared. Since my running partner for most of this year is in hospital due to a tragic experience in a race, I did this for her. I have done some crazy runs with Kate this year, and her strength always amazes me. It doesn't matter how tiring it all is, how long and steep the hills are, she just keeps going. Running when able, walking the hills the rest of the time. So this year even though I knew I would be slow at the You Yangs, when the going got tough, I always asked myself, "What would Kate do?".The course changed again this year, and I think for the best. I liked NOT going to the top of the hill and back multiple times, and I enjoyed the technical circuit around the hill. The first 10km went quite well for me. Although slow, I was feeling good. At 15km I was still feeling good and hopeful I was on track for under 8 hours. At the half way point, although I was starting to get even slower (how is that possible?) I was still on track for under 8 hours and I thought if I could just keep running on the flats and downhills that I would be ok.My achilles (which now isn't that... more later) issues meant my running speed was walking pace. I had no power in my right leg and I was going so slow that I was naturally breathing through my nose much of the time. There is a section through gum plantations that is quite flat. Flat bits are a problem for me as you really need to keep up your momentum. I just couldn't do it. At 30km I was feeling ok but then at 40km I was back at the plantation area and it was a real struggle. I ran as long as I could (at walking speed), while knowing that Kate would be running there too. It was so unnaturally slow but I just did not have the power in my right leg to run at any normal running pace.At around 45km I started walking. This run was much harder than it should've been. There were (dare I say it) too many flat runnable bits! I realised I was going to be way over 8 hours and decided my ultra career is over until I sort out this leg problem. If you can't train, you can't run at any speed. My leg strength from weight lifting enables me to complete these distances, but is not enough to actually run properly. Getting over the injury and being able to run in training is the only thing that is going to help.I decided I would pull out of GOW this year. I couldn't get my money back on the accommodation so worked out a really nice weekend away. I even planned some nice walks and it was going to be the relaxing holiday I've been in need of all year! At this point in the race, I had reached a calm. This was it for me! The last long race of the year! Yeah!With Kate in mind, I still kept running when able, and walking when I couldn't. I don't know what time I crossed the finish line, but I wouldn't be surprised if I came dead last! I quickly found Andy to withdraw from GOW before I changed my mind. But he told me to think about it... ugh.....So anyway, since then I have had some acupuncture and it's been discovered that my achilles is fine. A bit thicker than usual, but functionally fine. It's the flexor hallucis longus that has been killing me. This muscle originates near the calf behind the achi[...]

Mt Sugarloaf and Sugarloaf Reservoir


Sugarloaf ReservoirToday I went for a 15km loop around Sugarloaf Reservoir in Christmas Hills. I noticed Parks Vic took down their map online so I printed a DSE map but now that I've done the run, I realise the map did not have the walking tracks so no wonder I was getting confused out there today!Can you see the kangaroos? (click to see bigger pic)There were hundreds of kangaroos out there. It's quite a nice area, with gentle undulations around the reservoir. I took a detour, which I thought was the best way to go at the time, but it ended up being a dead end so for most of the run I stuck to the trail around the perimeter of the water catchment area. I did see a turn before I climbed Mt Sugarloaf, but didn't want to end up in another dead end so I didn't go there. Turns out that was the right way to run close to the dam, and I ended up going a stupid way, although getting to the top of Mt Sugarloaf was better than not doing it so that's not so bad. From the top you can see the city skyline.View from near the top of Mt SugarloafIt seemed like forever that I was running along this perimeter trail, and I knew it just had to be wrong as I had previously seen the Parks Vic map where you can follow another trail closer to the water. I was checking my DSE map and I just couldn't tell where I was. At one point I saw a sign that said trespassers prosecuted, and I thought, How can that be, if I legitimately entered and have been following a firetrail? Oh well, at this point there was a road so I went down there, and it led to some special looking water catchment thing that I probably shouldn't be near, but hey, at least I was back at the dam!Then I saw what looked like a single trail, but it was hard to tell. I followed it and realised this is where I should have been going all along. There were occasional markers confirming the right way, but the trail seemed so rarely used that at times it was hard to know if I was following a trail or going cross country. Either way, it's impossible to get lost just going one way around a dam.These occasional markers confirmed that I was on a trail and not going cross countrySoon enough the trail became a much more well managed trail. It went really close to the water and at times I just stopped to listen to the water gently lapping the shore. It was very peaceful. And it was a gorgeous day. I could really visit there for a run again, but take some food and relax for a bit with some lunch.Stupid way around the reservoir. You can see the correct trail I should have taken that stuck close to the dam.Silly me did not eat any carbs before the run. I had 2 of ChocChilliMango's yummy protein bars and 2 coffees beforehand, so a bit of dehydration and lack of carbs did not do me well and I felt nauseous towards the end, which kind of makes sense since I finished around 1 pm so it was well past my lunch time. It was pretty hard driving home when all I wanted to do was lie down on the couch! Lesson learned :)[...]

12 km in the hills


I screwed up my achilles again doing intervals at the track a couple of weeks ago. I knew hill sprints would have been a better option but I just wanted to go fast so I hit the track. It was so good to be flying along and pushing myself so I felt like puking after each repetition... and then I decided to do just one more rep. That was it. Limping and in pain :(

The Toolangi Forest run last week wasn't very successful but I've been diligently doing my achilles exercises and it was starting to feel more manageable so today I met up with Kate to do a 12km loop at Mt Dandenong. We started with some insanely steep hills, which were a perfect warm up for my achilles. We finished with a loop of the 1000 steps. After deadlifts yesterday, and the steep running we had already done, my quads started to feel like jelly.

I only can't run on dead flat ground now so it's starting to get better. I have high hopes that it should be manageable again in a week or two. I hope to get back into more minimalist running too, but I have so many fitness goals at the moment that it is really hard to fit everything in. Although I still think I should be able to do everything that I want to do, it's becoming apparent that being crap at everything is not great fun and at some point I'll probably have to focus on one or two things at a time.

Testing new Nathan Intensity pack at Toolangi Forest


I had yesterday morning free so went out to Toolangi Forest for a short trail run. This was also a good opportunity to test out my new Nathan Intensity pack, which is the women's version of the HPL20.This pack is soooo comfortable I can't believe it beats my Camelbak! The bladder is easy to fill up and so easy to seal without air to stop the water sloshing. The shoulder straps are so soft and comfortable and do not need to be adjusted tight. As with my other Nathan pack, this one doesn't bounce at all! It's just incredible. It feels so light and I think I've found my perfect pack. There's a pocket on each shoulder strap so you can store your phone/food/supplies and access them easily. There is also a decent amount of storage space in the pack itself and I think it would be possible to do long ultras in this and still carry all the mandatory gear. If I can get my running fitness up, then I will try to get away with just this small pack for the long stuff.It was such a beautiful day yesterday. It was sunny but there were patches of thick fog in the valleys. I ran up to the top of Mt St Leonard and you can see the fog below in the picture. It looks like I'm in some high altitude above cloud level! Lesson learned though: Be cautious when climbing metal stairs that are iced over if you don't want to slip over.Unfortunately my achilles has been giving me grief again. I think it's because this week and last week I ran some intervals at the track. I go there because I like to push myself to go as fast as I can, but I really can't run on flat ground. My achilles can handle up hills and down hills but nothing in between. It was so painful still after the initial climb and run back down the hill that I considered getting in the car and driving straight home but I knew there would be more hills I could do.I hobbled along the Quarry Walking Track to the Wirrawilla Rainforest Walk, then went south back down the Tanglefoot track. The Tanglefoot was so overgrown. The few runnable sections were barely runnable as you still had to clear branches and try to avoid tripping over huge strips of bark. There were so many black cockatoos about. I have never seen so many before! I reckon they were all stripping the bark from the trees. I also saw a couple of lyrebirds for the second time in my life! They are so elusive. I tried to get a picture but they were too quick for me.After about 8km my achilles seemed to warm up, but I think maybe I just found a way to hobble that was comfortable. All up I did 12.6km. It was pretty short but it took a long time due to the hills and overgrown trees on the Tanglefoot track.I'll have to get out there again soon as I saw a small single trail from Mt St Leonard and I think that would take me down to Healesville or the Maroondah Dam. Parks Vic doesn't have a map of that though, and the DSE maps stop there.[...]

A Non-runner's Running Plan


It's been a week now since I've been training properly for the next ultra. Except I'm not much of a runner, and I don't have time to spending hours running every day, and I don't want to get injured, and I have other non-running fitness goals too.

My program looks like this:

Mon: General conditioning or running intervals
Tue: Clean (1-3 reps), Squat (1-4 reps), Upper body/Core if time, Conditioning
Wed: Kettlebell work (strength and conditioning)
Thu: Hills
Fri: Deadlift (1-4 reps), Single leg work if time (4-8 reps), Barbell complex, Some other conditioning
Sat: Med-long run or Trail run
Sun: Kettlebell work (strength and conditioning)

So there are 2-3 runs in there. The weekend run includes hills too. I know to run faster I need to run more, but I also need to increase my cardio fitness and I find body weight and kettlebell work do that the best with no risk of injury. I also have a pipe dream of entering a kettlebell comp so that fits in well. So far this week I have PB'd in the clean, squat and kettlebell snatch!

Today was hill day and I threw myself in the deep end for a Volcanic Hills Balls Of Steal run. Just an out and back today. It was very tough but I managed the return trip 3.5 minutes faster! It is so pretty out there. It was just me, the kangaroos and a fox.

Mt Macedon Trail Run 30/50km


Yesterday was the Mt Macedon Trail Runs. I entered the 50km, thinking it would be fine. The last time I went for a run was my last post - 6 weeks ago. At least then I was running 1-2 times per week including hills or intervals. Since then I focused on a grueling hypertrophy program, often spending over an hour at the gym every single day. The volume got to me and I got sick twice in 2 weeks. Then somehow I still thought I didn't need to run in order to complete 50km. What a stupid idea!It was so cold at the start line, there was frost on the ground. I wore my arm sleeves for the whole run, which is very unusual for me. At the race briefing Brett warned us about some sections. I am not good at paying attention here as it is always a bunch of words that don't mean anything until you're out there.Once we were off I felt awkward from the start. I was wearing my MW101 trail shoes, but despite being minimalist, they felt clunky compared to my usual flats. My fingers were freezing and I was trying to find a good spot in my pack to keep my Garmin watch (since it is almost dead and I knew the batteries would go flat so I just wanted what data it could manage but didn't want to wear it). The ground surface was really nice and soft, and it was such a pleasure to run on. I was thinking about this, while my frozen fingers fumbled with my watch, when I literally fell into last place. My main concern was not landing in kangaroo poo. I managed to land on some rocks, with massive scrapes on both thighs. Fortunately it was so cold, I couldn't feel if anything hurt. In hindsight, I think Brett mentioned something about being careful about the rocks in the first 200 metres.It took about an hour for my achilles to warm up. It was really painful to start with but I have been vigilantly doing my achilles exercises for the past week so I was able to run the rest without achilles pain. I quickly caught up ahead of a few people and finally settled into a rhythm.The hills in this run are so mean. Both up and down. Some of the downhills were not even runnable. I found one was very smooth dirt, and everyone was sliding down. I was stepping carefully on the grass on one side, whilst holding onto ferns for balance.It was very windy out there, and after Hells Hole, on the top of Mt Towrong, it was very exposed and it was very chilly. Climbing back down was difficult as I was being blown about in the wind, while trying to navigate the tricky rocky trail. My legs were feeling shaky and unstable from my trail shoes and the fall early on so I was taking every step very cautiously.At about the 20km mark I considered dropping out at 30km. I just felt so slow and cumbersome (remember, 3 weeks of hypertrophy training and 6 weeks of no running or metabolic work of any sort). This should really have felt comfortable and the run just wasn't working for me.Look, no knuckles! Does anyone know what causes or how to cure the hand swelling in some long events?Heading up the Zig Zag track, I decided that even if I made the 30km cut off time, I would drop out there. 50km would have been unnecessarily torturous.I missed the cut off by about 7 minutes. Brett said I could continue but I said no way. I think at least 3 others DNF'd at 30km.It really was a lovely trail and it renewed my enthusiasm for trail running and ultras. I feel like I have run a lot of crap races recently and it's time for me to step it up. I want to run comfortably again and I'm going to hit the hills and trails a lot more often now. The You Yangs 50km is on in 6 or 7 weeks. I originally thought I might volunteer in this but now I am going to train and I am going to do it well.[...]

45km Mt Dandenong


I've clearly been hanging around the wrong crowd lately. Yesterday I went for a 45km training run with Kate at Mt Dandenong. I have never done any long runs there before because it is all hills. For some reason I forgot about the hills when I thought it would be a good idea to do it. I also forgot that even if the weather's good, it is always muddy in some sections and it would have been smart to wear trail shoes instead of racing flats.We met near Sky High and had a loop in mind, taken from the Moonwalk charity race. Our run started off really nice and it felt so easy like we could go forever. We were taking it easy but I think it felt so good because at this stage we were mostly heading downhill.At around 7km we came across this funny looking wombat who looked like he'd been in a few fights. Wombats are so rare and this is the first time I've seen one in Victoria. He didn't mind that we went up close and I stuck my phone in his face for photographs.Our loop was mostly pleasant. We went through an arboretum which had lovely deciduous trees in all their autumn glory. We also passed through another public garden that had stunning trees and I think I'll have to go back there soon.From about half way I really got fatigued. I was so proud of myself for actually remembering to pack food and even having breakfast before setting off (I never eat before a run) that I forgot my salt caps. I was drinking plenty but the hills were taking their toll. We climbed up Heartbreak Hill, which was just a taste of what was to come next.There was the Mofo-Hill-Of-Death that climbed nearly 200m in about 2km. I am pretty good at getting hills done but that one was so bad that Kate passed me, and I was counting 50 steps at a time before letting myself take a 2 second breather.There were more terrible hills, even worse than that. At one point I thought I needed an ice pick to climb it. My Garmin died early on so I don't have data of the other steep hills.I don't usually drink much water and I was glad I took my Nathan pack so I could fill my water bladder without it feeling too heavy. I drank all my water and at about 4km to the end I had to fill up from "not safe to drink" water. Normally I wouldn't fuss about 4km without water but those last 4km were all up up up and were going to take a long time. So I took the risk and I haven't died yet.My tibialis anterior were cramping from a combination of hills and no salt caps. I'm surprised that my achilles didn't give much grief so I guess my method of low frequency and low mileage is at least doing some good.It was such a relief after all that climbing to make it to the top where our cars were. We made it in a bit over 8 hours.I think this run wasn't so much physically challenging as it was mentally challenging. If I was doing this by myself, I would have looked at the map to find a shortcut back to the car. But I couldn't do that here. We were going slow, but running more than I would if I was by myself. It was not that it was hard or painful to run, but mentally I was fatigued and the thought of running seemed harder than the action of running. Having someone else there with me really helped push me through and I must remember that feeling of pushing on in my next ultra.As soon as we stopped my legs felt all crampy. The drive home consisted of a lot of swearing and wondering why I drive a manual. As soon as I got home I downed some Gastrolyte and felt much better. My legs are a bit fatigued today but not bad. It was a great run and it's good to know I can run an ultra without doing any running training. Long runs would be beneficial but are not a necessity. I really enjoy running out on the trai[...]

1000 Steps again


Yesterday I met up with Kate again for the 1000 Steps. She knows even way crazier people than I have ever come across and this time she brought her friend Andrew along. He had just completed the 170km Marysville to Melbourne paddle/bike/run race last weekend. Solo.

We went up the 1000 Steps 3 times again. The first time up the stairs Andrew ran them. Not me or Kate though. It seemed much easier this time, although I didn't want to suggest a 4th rep. According to my watch the first rep was a minute slower but the 2nd and 3rd reps were about a minute faster than last week. It's amazing what a little bit of training does for your fitness!

I've got more plans to head up that way for a group run or two over Easter. Meanwhile I am focusing on training hard at the gym. I hit another squat PB today. I want to get my squat up to 80kg this year and my deadlift up to 120kg. Just as much mental strength as physical strength required. Hopefully it wont take too long to get there.

1000 Steps


This morning I met up with Kate at the 1000 Steps in the Dandenongs. Kate runs much more serious and crazy hardcore runs than I do, and she wanted to do 3 repeats of the steps.

The first time up was pretty good, and we decided to run down the Lyrebird track to make it a nice loop. I felt good after that but then it was time for round 2! Here I slowed down a bit, and after running back down the track I would have been quite happy if Kate suggested we'd had enough. But like I said, she's a bit hardcore, and she was training for The North Face 100, whereas I don't really train.

Half way up for the 3rd time I started to get dizzy. Actually I woke up feeling dizzy yesterday, have had a headache for over 24 hours and same with the dizziness thing. The run cleared me up a bit but I think I just got fatigued here. I was so glad to get the 3rd lap done!

It took us 1 hour 23 minutes and it was really tough. But I guess this is what real ultra runners do for training! Now that I've recovered, it was quite fun! I'll have to head out that way more often for some runs.

Unfortunately the Wilsons Prom run was cancelled due to floods. An alternate run in the Alps is on offer but logistically that would be a pain in the wallet. So what to do next? I really feel the need to enter something asap but don't know what!

Nathan Synergy pack


Recently I ordered a Nathan Synergy pack for longer ultras. The main feature is the bladder which has two reserves so you can fill one up with water, and the other up with your sports drink of choice. This was not the reason I got the pack though. My Kathmandu pack that I used for longer runs is very uncomfortable and causes the worst chafing ever so I really wanted something that was big enough to carry all the mandatory gear and be comfortable too. Everyone raves about how comfy the Nathan packs are, and I like the pockets, so that was my main reason.This morning I took it for a test run out in the rain. I filled the bladders up and after spending about 5 hours trying to get the air out, in the process squeezing most of the water out, I gave up and decided to use my Camelbak bladder. I don't know why the air just wouldn't get out of the Nathan bladder. This was really annoying, although I have heard many reports that the Nathan bladders suck and a lot of people use a Camelbak bladder in a Nathan pack. So unfortunately this time I did not get to try the double bladder, which would be really handy in long ultras so I don't need to pack my special drink at aid stops.I loaded the pack up with just over 4kg as I think that is what it weighs when I carry the usual mandatory gear, food and water.Once loaded, I couldn't believe how comfortable it was! There is NO bounce! At all!! Even the sternum strap was comfortable, and usually I don't use it on any of my packs. It wasn't needed this time either but it was in a comfy position so it didn't bother me.As usual, I found I had to do the shoulder straps up as tight as possible, but unlike my other packs, I could take the pack on and off without dislocating my shoulders. The pockets on the shoulder straps were just perfect. I can fit my phone (which doubles as a camera) and there is also room to carry snacks. There are some other side pockets on the main body of the pack which are easily reached without taking the pack off. These will be perfect for carrying my ultra food.The pack didn't feel heavy at all. I don't know how it works, but it doesn't weigh down on your shoulders and I didn't feel my form suffer from it. Usually even 2kg is too heavy for me but over 4kg felt like nothing.I am so happy to finally get a large pack that is comfortable and doesn't chafe. I hope I can get the hang of getting the air out of the Nathan bladders so I give the whole 'Synergy' thing a try with two drinks. Although I am a bit scared of the bladders bursting like many others have reported.I am really looking forward to using this pack for my next ultra, but the weather has been terrible and the road to Wilsons Prom was washed out this week, with people needing to be rescued by boat. I imagine the tracks will be a wreck but hopefully the run wont get cancelled.[...]

New training plan... again


I am changing up my training... again... hence no posts in a while. I had been so intent on getting out for my 2.5 hour run every weekend but it wasn't working for me. My working structure has changed and I'm often so tired that getting up at 6:30am on a Saturday to run is not fun. And running should be fun. I also took some time out of running to fix my achilles. It's doing so much better now (about 90%) and I can't believe I didn't think to do this earlier. Anyway, I'm not going to do any long runs leading up to the Wilson's Prom Ultra (60km). I am going to do the exact opposite of everyone else that will be there!

Over the past two years I've learnt that heavy squats and deadlifts give me the required leg strength to run an ultra. 3 sets of 3-5 reps of squats and deadlifts is the equivalent of a weekly 3-4 hour run or even more! The only difference is a much shorter recovery time, and no more sleeping on the couch for the rest of the day!

I've come to trust that my training is suitable, and even preferable to the usual running programs out there. So now my 2 or 3 runs a week are interval based. Usually I'll do 5 x 6 minutes or 20 minutes worth of hill repeats or something along those lines to keep up leg turnover and good technique. I also seem to increase my fitness better doing bodyweight circuits, burpees and kettlebell workouts. I also don't get injured doing those things!

Wilson's Prom is on at the end of April. So that give's me 2 months of getting my legs stronger and increasing my cardiovascular fitness. I'm really excited about this as I've found with myself and my clients that bodyweight and kettlebell work increases fitness like nothing else. I'm really looking forward to this and seeing how my running will be affected, and how it will all go in April!

Maroondah Dam 2011 - volunteering


I've wanted to do the Maroondah Dam run for a while now, but I hate running in hot weather and this year I felt my conditioning not up to scratch to tackle the hills. So this year I decided to volunteer.

I was at the 25km aid station with Bruce and Gilda. We had a table full of sports drink, water, jelly beans, snakes, chocolate, salt, fruit cake, chips, sandwiches, oranges and bananas. It was a smorgasboard of ultra food!

We were taking photos, ticking off names as they went through and constantly topping up supplies. It was super busy and a real frantic hive of activity! We got into a good rhythm with Gilda taking photos, Bruce filling cups and me ticking off names.

Gilda also drove further down the course a few times to pick up several injured runners. Once she had 3 DNFs and the flow of runners started to slow, she drove them back to the finish.

Soon enough the rain and fog set in. We sat in the car, only getting out when the occasional runner went past. In the afternoon Andy, the sweeper, came through and we could pack up our soggy chips and fruit cake and drop all the gear off at the finish.

It was a great event and fun being part of it. My fellow aid station-ers were great people and we worked well together. I will definitely volunteer again in the future and highly recommend it!

Achilles exercises


I hate to admit it, but after 5 days of these exercises my achilles is starting to feel stronger. Of course, it could also be because I'm not running.

And I guess now the exercises are getting easier I need to up the ante on them so they will no longer be easy and cause more pain. I am dying to go for a run to see how it goes... Maybe on Friday :)

My fitness has not been suffering whilst sidelined from running. I have been doing a series of killer bodyweight intervals every day developed for one of my jobs. They cause me to swear and lie in a puddle of my own sweat. So maybe I am even increasing my fitness more than if I was still hobbling down the streets.



I'm hoping to beat my achilles issue once at for all. So this week I started doing daily exercises for it. I've always believed everything comes down to form, and if your form is not 100% then you'll get injured. I've been working on my bad leg, making it do the same as my good leg, but lately I've found it hard to tell if the bad leg is doing the right thing or just running any way that will avoid pain. Since it's never relaxed, I know it's not right.

I'm not convinced my stupid achilles exercises will work but it's cheaper doing them than going back to the physio only to be told to do them again.

The result is my achilles is more sore than ever. Yesterday I went out for my long run but 3kms into it my achilles still hadn't warmed up so figured it was best to turn around and go home before it was too late. So no long run this weekend. This was so disappointing, especially since I decided to enter the Wilsons Prom Ultra. Running up hills doesn't seem to be a problem so I'll have to do more hill repeats and work more with the kettlebells to increase my fitness.

Perfect HTFU weather!


Thanks to tropical cyclone Yasi it is pouring with rain here. Perfect htfu weather for a character building run! Today I head out for 17km. The Plenty River, which was just a mere trickle last year, was very full, and I think most of the bridges will be submerged by the end of the day. The Main Yarra Trail was ankle deep in water most of the way! I only came across one crazy cyclist and one mad runner out there today. It was great!

I know in the last post I mentioned not getting carried away entering every race that piqued my interest... but when I saw that entries opened this week for the Wilsons Prom Ultra I couldn't help myself! So I entered the 60km option. It's on at the end of April so I really have to htfu, increase my aerobic conditioning and be mentally ready to handle tough conditions. I think it's rainy and windy at that race every year so I've gotta be prepared!

18km in the Five Finger Trek Sports


After last weekend's race I've got a good feel for where I'm at and exactly what I need to do to improve. Last year I entered every race I was vaguely interested in, which meant I never really focused on anything. I completed 3 ultras in the second half of the year but achieved nothing of note. This year I have one goal race only. I'm going to try not to get carried away with entering anything and everything, especially if it detracts from my training.So today I continued with my current phase of low heart rate training. I did an 18km loop up to Blue Lake and back in my Trek Sports. These have an aggressive tread and very little ground feel, so I wanted to see what they'd be like on the trails.Fine gravel is easy going but on the very rough rocky stuff I could still feel the rocks and had to watch my footing. On the single trail they generally felt good and my feet felt a sense of freedom as they could run correctly and faster. Unfortunately on sandy soil they were quite slippery so I probably wouldn't be able to wear them on any ultras (oops, I forgot already that I only have 1 goal race this year so why am I even thinking this?).I had a good run today and went up a single trail I hadn't been along in a while. It seemed quite overgrown and it didn't look very familiar.When this trail joined up to another trail I realised I had been there before and if I continued down there I'd end up having to bush bash my way up a steep cliff/hill/mountain thing. I really wasn't into that so I decided to bush bash my way to the main trail and make my way down to the river crossing.Plenty River has flooded a few times this year with all the recent rain we've been having so I expected it to be deep. Usually this crossing is only ankle deep. Today it was knee deep. The water was a perfect temperature and if the water was clean I would have loved to go for a swim.If it was knee deep here, it would be chest height later on so instead of re-crossing the river later on I got off the trails and took the streets the rest of the way home.My feet felt great and I was pleasantly surprised that my achilles didn't cause me any grief. I did a 5 minute mobility warm up before I head out and I really wish I was bothered to do this more often. It helps every single time.The run was so nice and easy. But soon I am going to have to get out of my comfort zone. I love shuffling along at my slow pace and I could keep going forever like that. But that's not good enough. Soon my low HR phase will be over and I will have to pick it up a bit and get uncomfortable. src="<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr" style="align:left;padding-top:5px;width:131px;height:245px;padding-right:10px;"align="left" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0">[...]