Saturday, March 05, 2011

Inspiration and Improvement

Scott Brown told me of the great story from last Sunday's Tokyo Marathon — the one about Japanese runner Yuki Kawauchi who placed 3rd in 2:08:37. This was a 4-minute PB from last year's race and 9 minutes faster than his PB from 2009 (2:17:33). The amazing thing about Kawauchi is that he fits his training around a regular 9-hour work day! One doesn't have to live the life of a professional runner to come up with inspiring performances.

If Kawauchi's improved running doesn't do it for you, then how about Ben St Lawrence's on Thursday night? Young (29-year-old) Ben raced the big guns of 5000 metre racing at Olympic Park and came away with a 15-second PB, running 13:10.08. A storming last lap dealt with Chris Solinsky and Matt Tegenkamp, with Bernard Lagat having to drop down another gear in the home straight to hold off St Lawrence and take the win. Four years ago Ben St Lawrence was an overweight (90 kg) door-to-door salesman and party animal. Now that's some improvement!

I'm inspired! And this week, slightly improved. I ran my 10k MAF test on Thursday at 5:38 per km with an average heart-rate of 130 (my fastest speed thus far in this patience phase of training, and the best I've run since February last year). One change I've made this week (after reading a blog post from Canute), is to practise deep diaphragmatic breathing during all my runs. I wonder if I can match the 6% lowering of heart-rate (at a particular speed) that Canute found when using this type of breathing? Even if my improvement is more modest, better ventilatory capacity is sure to help my 5k racing times. I intend to run some trial races on the track in the coming weeks, so I'll find out soon enough.

I wanted a photo with both feet in the air!
My 'excited' new running style


Blogger Scott Brown said...

Great stories Ewen. That's what it's all about for sure.

Now if you could just pull yourself out of that hole and get up to the gutter, we'd all be inspired!!

Of course I'm joking but I can't get the image the "Chariots of Fire" music playing and you throwing out a bourbon and coke with one hand and with the other reaching for a razor to finally have a shave!!!

8:39 pm  
Blogger Scott Brown said...

That is "I can't help but get the image of..."

I need a drink!

"Party animal" indeed ;)

8:45 pm  
Blogger Black Knight said...

I like your new running style but I don't think you get faster by it.
Great story, I didn't know that runner.

8:55 pm  
Blogger Andrew(ajh) said...

I've been playing with my breathing a bit since reading that post of Canute's too.

9:03 pm  
Blogger TokyoRacer said...

Great photo! Put it on the cover of your book to be titled "The Joy of Running."

12:51 am  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

Hi ewen,
We seem to be on the same wavelength right now, as I 2 was greatly impressed by the young Japanese runner.
It's a good lesson that if we really want something and put our minds to it we can achieve it!
Breathing, yeah I've been working on diagrammatic breathing for over a week now and will try it out in a 20 mile race tomorrow.
So far the results look encouraging even if I do get some funny looks from people because of the heavy breathing.
Congrats on the improvement in your fitness, happy days :]

3:51 am  
Blogger Thomas said...

Yuki Kawauchi made it right to the top of my hero list. I feel inspired.

6:48 am  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

**ROFL** Good shirt. does this mean you will somehow be a late entry to 6 foot again??!!! Excitement machine Ewen, getting as much airtime as Michael Jordan.

Seriously though the Ben Saint effort on Thursday night one of those races many of us will be talking about for decades to come maybe. See link to video of the 5000m race on my blog. Mottrams comeback right up there too! Riseleys win in the 1500m, and the 800m too. Sad to see Olympic Park going...special night of running.

Saw that 2.08 effort in Japan on Biscuitmans blog I think too, remarkable story but a reminder to all of us to keep plugging on.

Another story of amateur sportspeople (who still hold down a normal job) achieving incredible success, is Kevin Obrien the irishman who scored the fastest century ever (50 balls) in helping the Irish win a cricket match against the English a few days ago. Amazing stuff!

6:48 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love hearing about great runners who also work full-time -- I recall reading a feature in Running Times a few months back about three elite female runners who work full time and still manage to eke out amazing performances... it gives us mere mortals hope (and even better, less of an excuse to half-ass our own training). Here on your blog is the first time I've heard of this diaphragmatic breathing tactic -- intriguing...!

6:52 am  
Blogger Robert James Reese said...

Those are some very impressive stories. A sub 2:10 with a full time job? Wow.

10:32 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

The gutters are big down here Scott... and you'll be waiting a while to hear that music and see me with a razor in my hand ;)

Stefano, I'm working on changing my style into the "kangaroo style" - now that's going to be fast!

Andrew, I think it's worth working on. Initially (like any change) it feels like hard work until it becomes second nature.

Thanks Bob. Someone beat me to "The Joy of what Scott Brown misses out on", so it'll have to be "The Joy of Running."

Rick, I hope it worked for the 20 mile race. At least the heavy breathing has a side-effect of clearing females walking dogs off the track in front of me ;)

Thomas, keep Kawauchi in mind for your last 5k in Vienna and the 2:5X:XX marathon is yours!

Jonathon, no 6' surprise late entry as the 5k is my baby this year.The name O'Brien is now more famous in Ireland than Bubendorfer. The last 15 minutes of Kawauchi's run can be seen here.

SK, yes, I have that issue of RT! Those women were amazing. Westover stuck with me - running 130-160 miles a week for a 2:35 marathon and teaching full time. Incredible really.

Robert, I'm in awe too. Shows what can be done with determination (and a little talent). He makes the professional runners look soft ;)

3:47 pm  
Blogger Jog Blog said...

I am much more inspired by runners who train around fulltime jobs and families than I am by elite, professional athletes who have it all laid on - unlimited training time, the right amount of rest and recovery, massage, sports psychology services etc, etc. Those of us who manage to pull out a good performance every now and then or improve just a bit when our running has to fit around everything else are achieving more than one great goal. Go the ordinaries!

6:50 pm  
Blogger Jog Blog said...

P.S. Love the pic!

6:50 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is good to hear that your fitness is improving. I hope that the focus on diaphragmatic breathing helps. My own experience is that it results in lower HR for a given pace in the low to mid-aerobic zone. There is little doubt that that efficient breathing is also essential for best performance in races of distance from 5K to marathon, which are run at paces not far from the border between the upper aerobic and anaerobic zones. However, it might be that the increased respiratory drive that occurs as lactate begins to accumulate, automatically produces efficient deep breathing in most runners, so the benefits of focussing on breathing are less important. However it is almost certainly beneficial for the endurance runner to develop good endurance of the respiratory muscles.

8:48 pm  
Blogger Girl In Motion said...

Best.Photo.EVER!! Love it! And thanks so much for those inspirational stories, I had no idea about the overweight salesman tale, that's crazy wonderful. +1 to Jog Blog's stance on ordinary inspireres vs elites, All Hail The Ordinaries!!!

9:19 am  
Blogger Girl In Motion said...

And super congrats on your progress! That's incredibly wonderful.

9:20 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Jog, too right! Go the ordinaries! Although I don't consider sub-3 marathoners ordinary ;)

Canute, thanks. I'm going to keep working on the breathing in the easier runs. More efficient breathing should keep the HR lower in the early stages of a 5k race - maybe delaying the onset of lactic acid accumulation?

Flo, thanks. I had to try and beat the photo of Rinus stretching in the snow ;) To be fair, Benny St Lawrence was a talented runner as a youngster before he "went off the rails" in his early 20s. Still a fantastic comeback. My progress is slow and steady - that's how I like it.

10:17 pm  
Blogger Runner Susan said...

Ewen, that's the best picture of you in the entire world! I think you should frame it.

1:57 am  
Blogger rinusrunning said...

Nice story to read and working and fast running, wow!.
Nice pic and next time you run with my the 1:45 pace on the 20km race and i will run 9 seconds faster....But the top dutch runners on the start in Alphen give my no space io run fast ,thats why the 9 seconds ;-).

10:01 am  
Blogger Bill Carter said...

Hi Ewen

Love the picture! That is an absolutely amazing time when one considers running a hobby and the job a 9 hour one at that. In this day of large race paydays and even outrageous amounts of money for appearance fees, it is refreshing to see a runner who works a regular job. Thanks for sharing that one. By the way, it sounds like your running is coming along quite nicely. Great splits Ewen and as always best of luck!

2:49 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Susan. I would frame it, but I only have a B&W printer and Scott Brown reckons I'm too tight to buy a frame.

Rinus, you are the best pacemaker (besides Speedygeoff) that I've ever known. When I'm ready to run 19:59 for 5k I'll get you to pace me, but don't run 20:09! ;)

Good afternoon (evening?) Bill. Yes, obviously a talented bloke, but also a bad-ass trainer who's very Zen about working a regular job. I'm hoping to improve my splits ;)

3:05 pm  
Blogger Jog Blog said...

Hmmm .... your training diary says you've embarked on the POWERbreathe thing. Why??????

8:20 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Jog, is that a skeptical Hmmm? ;)

I'm trying it to see if it improves inspiratory muscle strength and therefore performance. Canute quotes some studies on his recent blog post, particularly the following one (shuttle run times relate quite well to the 5k race distance):

"Subsequently, Tong and colleagues (2008) from Hong Kong reported that a 6 week program consisting of 3 sets of 30 inspirations against a respiratory load increased by 50% produced a 30% increase in inspiratory muscle power; a 16 % increase in shuttle run performance; an 11% reduction in the rate of increase of perceived breathlessness; and less lactate accumulation during the shuttle run. These beneficial effects were not seen in a control group who exercised against a minimal resistance."

9:17 pm  
Blogger Jog Blog said...

No, no, not skeptical. I know a few people who POWERbreathe as part of their training. At least it's got an evidence base and a lot more credibility than the bracelets and necklaces that you have to believe in for them to have any training benefit :)

11:31 am  

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