Sunday, May 31, 2009

10km Bondi Barefoot Softsand + Bolt Runs

Before the run

I signed up for the 10km soft sand run one month before actual race day thinking that it should be a very easy run as the distance was nothing new for me. But what I failed to consider was that running in soft sand whilst being barefoot can be a real nightmare, especially if you run using the same technique you use when you run on the road with shoes. As a result I did not do any actual training runs in the soft sand until a week before the run after I stumbled across an article on the web which mentioned how you have to change your running technique on soft sand whilst being bare foot to avoid injury. The article mentioned that I had to “Crunch my toes firmly and run on my toes whilst keep my stomach muscles firm (to avoid lower back stress)”, so I tried this out on a beach and after doing 8 laps of what I thought was a 10 lap course, my calfs, hamstrings and most of my other lower body muscles simultaneously cramped up and I came crashing to the ground. It was the weirdest experience I had and it took me a good half day to recover and walk normally again.

Knowing that I had grossly under prepared for this event, I decided to rest for the following 2 days and do some basic runs before the event which was in a week. But in order to get some advantage I changed my diet and ate a heavy carb + protein + antioxidants filled diet for the next week. The idea was to fuel up for a tough and painful run (carb), repair the muscle damage I had after my training run and strengthen my muscles (protein) and repair the tissue damage and build up resistance (antioxidants).

In 5 days I was going to do a run which I was so not ready for…

After the run

I felt good on race day and but I was really nervous as I was not sure I could finish and I was very worried about cramps. I took an extra long time warming up and did a lot of stretching, especially all my leg muscles. Once the run started, I picked a position at the back, paced myself and ran in someone’s footsteps (a technique used in soft sand running), after 4 laps I was feeling good and by some weird coincidence struck up a conversation with the guy in front of me. He told me that he had 2 laps to go but as I was following him I corrected him and said he had 6 lap to go (as I thought It was a 10 lap race), the guy laughed and told me that I was wrong as he had done the event before and It was only a 5 lap race, each lap being 2 kms.

I really did feel silly at that point (also a little relieved), and wished my friend good luck and doubled up my pace as I did not want to end the race in 2 laps and have more in my tank. I firmly believe that you have to leave everything you have on the course/field as that’s what you train to do. In the end I comfortably fished the 10km race in 1h 05m. And thought about the 8 laps I did as training, which worked out to be 16km of soft sand running. No wonder my muscles gave in and cramped.
I also took part in the Bondi Bolt, which is a 70m sprint where you keep going through heats until you win. It was a lot of fun and I made it into the second round.

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