Training on the Hamburg beach

Yesterday around 15:00 I went for a longer run. My goal was run 3 hours or around 30km. So I filled my backpack with drinks and some food and went out, Weather conditions were fine, around 8 c no rain and a bit windy. From my house I took the shortest way to the Elbe (35 min) and from there a ran on the sandy beach following the river in the north direction. I did this for about one hour, and while running I could watch the sun set and the big ships passing by. After more ore less one hour, I took a short break and while walking I had some food, candy and dry fruits. Then I stared to run back following the higher road, which has some pretty steep hills. It was getting dark but there was enough ambient light, so no need to use my headlight. I reached the point where I started to follow the river and from there I ran home.
I ran almost exact 30k in about 3 hours and 20 min. My average speed was slower then normal, mainly because running on a sandy beach slows down and I also took time to eat and walk. Parts of my longer training runs will be walking. Learning to walk efficiently is for ultra marathons as important as running. All in all a nice run, and a great track. Running next to such a big river never gets boring.
Enjoy your runs !

No, there is no excuse not to go out

But there is no excuse not to go out.

Yesterday the weather in Hamburg was pretty cold (under zero degree c.), it was snowing and the roads were covered with ice and snow, there was a fairly strong wind. I went out for a run, around 22k, in the Hamburger Volkspark. Running there is fun, it has some hills, smaller trails, and there are some steeper stairways. The weather and the cold did not bother me, I don’t get cold easily. Today, the temperature was a slightly warmer, the ice was starting to melt, but it was raining. It felt much colder then yesterday, probably because the wind was much stronger. Despite the horror weather I went out and did an hour run in the cold rain. I won’t let hot, cold, rainy, or snowy weather give me an excuse not to go out and run. Weather conditions do influence my training, running in the cold and snow, or in extreme hot weather is definitely harder then on a perfect weather day. But is there a perfect running weather ? I personally like to go out and run when it is colder, or when its chilly and windy. I think that the influence weather conditions have depends on what your goal is. My goal is; go out and run. Run 1, 2, 3 hours, or a set distance and thats is, just go out and run. If the weather makes running harder, then I push more, if its cold I dress warmer and if its hot I drink more and run slower.

But there is no excuse not to go out.

But there is no excuse not to go out. Just do it. It’s as simple as that. If you train with discipline, eat well, recover and repeat this countless of times, then you are on the right path. But it’s not primarily the body that restrict us: The body is important, but the mind, the will power is maybe even more important. It is your mind which makes you go out when the weather is bad, your mind will make your tired legs run those last miles. It’s the mind that pushes your body. It is the mind that helps the body in struggle and to deal with a challenging environment.

Trying hard, and going trough the struggle will make you different. Struggle builds you, strengthens you, makes you realize who you are, what you want, where you want to be – struggle defines you. Every challenge will put me in a better position to master future challenges. Training is about creating an environment that challenges you. When you learn to defeat that person inside you which tries to get you to stop, you can defeat anything. Anything that’s blocking your way toward your true purpose, destination and goal. This rule applies to everything in life. There’s a challenge we have to face. Either we run away or we confront it. The mind is our most powerful tool and if you approach a challenge with the proper mental attitude, you will win.

Sorry, there is no excuse not to go out, just do it.

Run without mind

Finding the Tao in running sounds like a paradox: moving fast and going forward and still staying in the present moment of each step. By enjoying and being in the moment within each movement and every step, the runner can glimpse the stillness and the action, the inbetweennes of motion, Ying and Yang. Neither here nor there, neither action or stillness. The point in the circle, neither neither or the paradox of Wu Wei.

Without the tao,
Kindness and compassion are replaced by law and justice;
Faith and trust are supplanted by ritual and ceremony.
(Lao Tzu)

Wu Wei is the abstract concept of “non-doing” or non action in Taoism. The paradox of “Action of non-action”, or in popular speak: Go with the flow. Which is not to confuse with being lazy and lets see what happens attitude since Wu Wei demands action and non-action. The state of being in which our actions are in alignment with the ebb and flow of the elemental cycles of the natural world and our true Will. This state of mind is characterized by great ease and awakeness, in which we are fully responsible for our own action and able to respond perfectly to whatever situations arises. In the Taoist way Wu Wei is spontaneous, organic and considered the to be the highest virtue.

As we learn and experience Wu Wei, we will find our alignment with the Tao and with our own Will. When we experience the Tao with the natural flow of every -thing within and outside of our self, our actions will become naturally and of the highest benefit to ourselves and to the universe surrounding us. We will become the balance between the dot in the circle, the Ying and Yang. We will enter the in between state and slowly we will master the embodiment of Wu Wei, the Action of non-action, the Thought of non-thought, and the Mind of non-mind. We will find our place within the universe, the cosmos and knowing our connection to all that is. At that point, our thoughts, words and actions won’t do no harm, since they are expressions of the beauty and the pureness of the Tao and in alignment with the universe. Our actions and thoughts become a pure manifestation of our real self, our Will and the Tao.

The highest virtue is to act without a sense of self
The highest kindness is to give without a condition
The highest justice is to see without a preference

When Tao is lost one must learn the rules of virtue
When virtue is lost, the rules of kindness
When kindness is lost, the rules of justice
When justice is lost, the rules of conduct
(Laozi)

For me, Tao in running means; Run without running, Moving and staying in the stillness of the present moment, loosing my self with every step to find my self, to experience the state of non-mind and non thought without loosing contact with reality. It also means, experiencing and finding the relation with my inner self and the universe, free of any formal religious or secular moral precept. Tao in running can become a way of meditation and part of a non-theistic spirituality.

Try it, go out and run without mind!

 

The benefits of slow running

In 1980 the slow food movement started. The Slow Food movement aims to preserve cultural cuisine and in so doing to preserve the food plants and seeds, domestic animals and farming within an eco region. In the Slow food movement the Slow live movement had its roots. The Slow Movement advocates a cultural shift toward slowing down life’s pace. Slow down to remove the stress from our live. Its an movement against the high rate of changes and the stressful impact this has on our lives. The only thing for certain is that everything changes and the change rate increases. If you want to hang on you better speed up. That is the message of today.

The Norwegian philosopher Guttorm Fløistad says: It could however be useful to remind everyone that our basic needs never change. The need to be seen and appreciated! It is the need to belong. The need for nearness and care, and for a little love! This is given only through slowness in human relations. In order to master changes, we have to recover slowness, reflection and togetherness. There we will find real renewal.

Life is so short, we should all move slowly – Thich Nhat Hanh

The Slow movement is a reaction against the cult of speed and the stressful impact this has on our lives.
Like the author from the blog http://slowrunnersblog.blogspot.de/, I started to run against my daily job stress. I needed a balance between mind and body, and I wanted to stay fit. And what a balance that was, stress in work and stress by running. Soon my running started to get dominated by a training plan, goals etc. Definitely not what I was looking for since I needed to de-stress in my live. This why I started to prefer slow running, slow but long runs. Long runs give enough time to reorder my mind and enough time to de-stress without the time pressure. I also stopped running to a strickt trainings plan, and I stopped worrying about race pace and finish times. My aim is distance and not speed. A reduction in speed of only 5% will allow you to run twice as far, and to run with less stress. Slow running means for me, going from running with the clock to running with the gut. As an extra effect; slow runs are less stressful for the body and have some serious health advantage.

Slow running makes the joints and muscles build up slowly in order to give them more endurance. Slow running improves the cardiovascular system, strengthens the heart and increases the blood supply in the muscles. It enhances the body’s ability to burn fat as a source of energy and it teaches the body to store more energy as glycogen in the muscles. And finally, long slow runs teach the body to run efficiently, minimising the energy expenditure needed to move you along an it minimizes the chance of getting injuries.

And next to the health benefits, slow running gives you mor time to relax, de-stress and enjoy.

see also: http://slowrunnersblog.blogspot.de/

The RWW-Jürgen-Liebert-Ultra Ultramarathon

Sunday morning (11.11.2012) I joined another 280 runners to run the 40. Bottroper Herbstwaldlauf / RWW-Jürgen-Liebert-Ultra. The 5oKm track consist of two 25 km rounds, through a beautifully nature preservation area. Most of the track was run through woods, with a few very slight hills. Despite the predictions the weather was perfect, it was not raining and the temperature was good.

The organization did a really good job, along the track were several stands with food, thee, water. The atmosphere along the volunteers and the runners was great. All in all close to perfect race conditions. I was not happy with my own condition and preparation; my small toe was still bruised and taped, this and partially because of a stupid accident, I was not able to do my training the last 3 weeks for the race.

My plan was to run the 50K in 5:20. I am not the “run on the hour” type of runner, but I think its always good to set a goal. It helps to push when things get difficult and since this was my first long distance run I had to have some kind of planning. The first 30 km went pretty good, I was a head of my schedule since it took me almost exact 3 hours. At that point I felt pretty good and still strong so I kept the same pace, my goal was to run the next 10k in 60 minutes which would give me enough time for the hardest last 10K.

Well that was the plan, Around Km 37 my legs suddenly started to hurt, specially my right knee and the food with the bruised toe started to be a problem, so I slowed down a bit in the hope the pain would disappear. Pain is not good for the moral, when you encounter pain during a run suddenly a lot happens. You try to ignore but an internal fight already start, the body gets in another mood and it tries to convince the mind to slowdown, to walk or even to stop. The mind needs to convince the body that all is ok. This is an interesting process, and this time the mind won. My mood was good; I was having fun, I had some talk with other runners, jokes were made. My brother (on his bike) who was supporting me during the race, helped to get my mind of the problem and to concentrate again on running.

Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the face. – Mike Tyson

From km 30 till 40 took me about 20 minutes longer then I had planned. I was happy that I reached the Marathon point at 4:38. From that point it was only a 8 Km to go. The last 8kM took me about a full hour, since I had to alter between running and walking, Which was in the end a good strategy that I maybe should have started a bit earlier in the race. Walking during a race is something you need to learn to accept, it helps the body to relax and rebuild up energy. I did not stop at any of the food stands the first 30k, now I think it would have been better, just to get something there and walk a few minutes while eating and drinking. Also my pace could have been slower for the first 35K so I would have had more energy to deal with the pain.

The last 3 km the pain was mostly gone and my energy came back, my pace was still slow but I could keep on running without walking. All in all I made the 50 Km in 5:38:48 and I am happy with the result. Happy that I made the finish line in a good mood and in a good physical shape, and happy with the experience. One lesson that I learned; don’t trust the plan, trust the gut. I need to learn to run slower but more steady when running a longer distance, or if needed alter between running and walking earlier.

Now Reading: Running with the Mind of Meditation

…what the relationship between body and mind is and running and meditation…can you meditate while you are running? Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche discusses mind and body synchronization in the context of running, sports, meditation and breathing.

See also :
“Running with the Mind of Meditation” http://runningmind.org
“Running with the Mind of Meditation” YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/RunWithMind/
Playlist Running with the Mind of Meditation at http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL33724E74F38542FE

As a Tibetan lama and leader of Shambhala (an international community of 165 meditation centers), Sakyong Mipham has found physical activity to be essential for spiritual well-being. He’s been trained in horsemanship and martial arts but has a special love for running. Here he incorporates his spiritual practice with running, presenting basic meditation instruction and fundamental principles he has developed. Even though both activities can be complicated, the lessons here are simple and designed to show how the melding of internal practice with physical movement can be used by anyone – regardless of age, spiritual background, or ability – to benefit body and soul. (from Amazon)

@Amazon: Running with the Mind of Meditation: Lessons for Training Body and Mind by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

On leaving the comfort zone

In about 7 day’s, I am about to run my first “real” Ultramarathon with a distance of 50 Km. So far my longest run was a standard 42k marathon. Thinking that this ultra is only 8 km more is both wrong and true. From a mental perspective I think it is a good and positive attitude, since I trained enough and I am convinced that I will run a marathon distance without running into big problems. I am also very positive that I will have enough energy and will power to run those extra 8k. On the other hand I am stepping in to an unknown territory since I have never walked or run this far. I am leaving my comfort zone, and leaving the comfort zone has an impact mentally and physically. Suddenly al extra questions come up; how do I pace my race, am I fit enough, are my shoes the right ones for the track. And of course a lot what if questions do come into my mind (what if the weather.. etc.).

Leaving the comfort zone also makes me ask questions again, and it gives the opportunity, or it forces me to question and to test myself. Leaving the comfort zone also means that I have to convince my inner self that I can trust my training, and that I can run this far and that I can push it. I guess forcing myself to leave my comfort zone is one of the strongest drives for me, to push it further. To demand more and not take the easy road is an essential part of my live.

“If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not constantly demanding more from yourself–expanding and learning as you go–your choosing a numb existence. Your denying yourself an extraordinary trip.”
Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

So next week Sunday, I will be on the start line, and I am prepared to push it and to finish.