Monday 16 December 2013

The Worst Thing for a Runner Is Injury

Three months ago I broke my foot. Before that I had a lot of plans - for example to write down and publish my training plan for a marathon. And just one futsal match and everything changed!

Now my bone is almost healed. It will take some time before it remodels itself, but I can slowly start walking again. With crutches still, but it's a huge difference.

I am starting to train my muscle back. My calf shrunk from 40 cm (measured as circumference in the widest part) to 36 cm. That's about 1.5" difference. My doctor said I have to use crutches but should put more weight on the foot gradually.

Another good runner adviced to start riding a bike. Which I am going to do immediately after coming back from my winter holidays. After 3 months with no running I am no doubt at the start again.

Sunday 6 October 2013

Running training break due to broken foot

A month ago I started to play futsal and sacrificed part of my running training. Unfortunately what you can see on the left is the result.

I won't be able to run for 6 weeks, because I have my foot in a cast. And I don't know how long after they remove it will I be able to start training again.

Wednesday 21 August 2013

2nd Annual Mount Fuji Marathon 2013

Fujisan Marathon 2013 will be held on Sunday 24rd November 2013. The organizers still accept applications, until 25th September. The marathon course is really beautiful, if you are deciding whether to join or not, definitely do participate!

Oficial page of the race

I have participated in the 1st annual Mount Fuji Marathon last year. You can read more about my experience in my previous article. Right now, it's almost exactly 3 months until the race, which I consider a bare minimum to train for a marathon from zero.

If you are taking train to Kawaguchiko, check my 7 tips for train travel in Japan.

Sunday 17 February 2013

1st Annual Mount Fuji Marathon, 25th November 2012

I have been preparing for Mt. Fuji Marathon also know as Fujisan Marathon for over 5 months. It was my first marathon race, but I have already tried running almost the same distance. The difference was that the race was held in late autumn Japan, in the mountains where temperatures often drop to zero. The average temperature during my trainings was 28°C.

Official page of the race

The race is held in beautiful part of Japan. Even getting there was a great experience, since I took a scenic Mt. Fuji train (for some useful tips about trains, check my other article about tips for train travel in Japan).

Mt. Fuji is visible from at lest half of the track. Most of the race is run near a lake, mountains and forests. The location made it my first choice for my first marathon.

Race track surroundings


Marathon is no easy race, and the preparations must not be underestimated. I have come to Japan a week before the race to aclimate myself. It went reasonably well, I managed to run in Tokyo, near the Imperial palace, before moving to Kawaguchiko. I ran in heavy rain, but it was nevertheless enjoyable. There were many runners with me. We were all soaked wet! But the Tokyo marathon was near as well and many people were training. After my run I went to a Japanese bath Sentou to heat myself - which saved me from falling sick!
When I moved to Kawaguchiko, I made it to my hotel in a village called Narusawa. Close to the track and no distractions. It made it very much possible to train in the race conditions and the aclimatization went well. I also rented a bike to do some sightseeing and add some more training riding the bike uphill. I bought some Japanese energy bars and gels to try them out. I also met a very nice Japanese family who supplied me with fruit, band aid and encouraged me a lot. They even drove me to pick up the bib and goody bag!

View from the hotel
The hotel room was a basic Japanese Ryokan room with tatami. I managed to aclimate to the point when I felt fine in the room even without heater on. That was important, because the morning of the race, the temperature dropped to -3°C!
Room temperature

Race day

I had a rather short sleep, I was a little bit nervous even though I rechecked everything many times. Band aid, gels, energy bars, heating pads in pockets, hat, sun glasses, vaseline, bib&chip, phone. I came to race start on a bike. I froze a little bit, so I was eager to stretch and do some warmup.
I decided to run in singlet and jacket. It was a really good idea especially for the morning, because some 13000 racers were at the start at since I got to the main group, there was no way I can do any warmups. And for almost the whole race too, because the wind was extremely cold. I didn't even sweat much! The race was so popular that some people didn't even got to the start on time due to congestion. Organizers had to return entry fee to them... And another two marathons were run the same weekend and Tokyo marathon was near - Japanese are really a nation of runners!


Everybody was awaiting the gun with great anticipation. Especially because we were all so cold! There is a great hint for winter races: Bring a big plastic bag and use it as a vest in the beginning. It will keep you warm and you can throw it away later. Fortunately I had my weather proof jacket, gloves and heating pads.
Marathon start
I didn't have a chance to start running for some 5 minutes after the gun. I was in the D group based on my expected time. It was a good estimate because I finished with many other Ds.
Course : Full Marathon(PDF)
Race map

First half

First half of the marathon was very easy and I was doing well to keep my set pace. I wanted to finish the race in about 4 hours. It was very cold, but it only made me run faster. There were water stations every 2.5 km. First food started somewhere after 10km. The organization was perfect. No cars, no disturbances. Organizers made sure there's enough toilets along the way by making deals with hotel owners and restaurants to make use of their facilities.
Some people also spontaneously prepared food and drinks for runners and allowed them to use their houses. One of the places prepared sushi and sashimi snacks! But I felt like this would totally mess my stomach and I stuck with my bars and energy tablets along the way. The organizers also prepared chocolate and crackers, but they were a bit to hard to eat while running. Isotonic drink was also available.
There were also musical performances along the way. Especially the Taiko drums make you feel like running faster!
Unfortunately the half of the marathon was in the middle of a killer hill. Many people walked or just stopped there. I managed to run the whole time, but on 25th km I was sure I am not going to finish my desired time. There was a food station where they served udon noodles for hungry runners, but I kept going trying to make up for the lost time and setting new goal, 4 hours 30 minutes.
Funky runners

21km - 35km

I made it to a group of people who kept steady pace and I felt comfortable running with them. Sometimes somebody fell back, only to reunite with the group few minutes later. I started to feel my ankles complaining. Food and drinks were plentyful along the way, but I started to feel I am seriously lacking energy. I stopped enjoying the landscape and I had to focus on running and overcoming the fatigue.

35km - 40km

Probably the hardest part of the marathon. Pain the my legs, especially ankles was barely bearable. I had to stop at each watering station, stretch and rest. We were running through town area again, people tried to encourage us. I focused on sole survival. This was the first time I felt like giving up. Watching people giving up just at the same time didn't help me at all! First aid tents were full of people in pain.

40km - finish

If you have ever run a big race, you know that there is nothing better for your tired body and mind that huge crowds cheering for you. This was actually very easy part for me. I felt like being carried to the finish line on the peoples' cheers.
Finish line

I finished in 4:38 (gun time), and the pain immediately left me and I stayed in a quite ecstatic mood for a while! They gave me medal and I went to the lake to wait for an acquaintance of mine to finish the race as well...
Resting after the race
The day after the marathon was the worst and best at once. I felt my legs must give up any moment. I felt a little bit like I don't know what to do next, but I felt great about the marathon in the end. But Kuala Lumpur marathon registration is already open, so I think I know after all ;)

Sunday 14 October 2012

Solo Almost Marathon

According to my training plan I was supposed to run 35km this Saturday. That's a lot of laps around my house. I have decided to make it a bit special and planned to run from Kuala Kubu Bharu to Fraser's hill in Malaysia.The route is over 40 km long and I knew I will probably walk anything beyond 35km. The altitude difference is about 1100m, with the highest point somewhere around 1200m. I wanted to run in decent pace, 7 min per km.


Friday 12th October

Pack everything, go to Kuala Kubu Bharu from Kuala Lumpur by KTM Komuter train, register with the local police and stay in a guest house for a night.
I packed very lightly. I reckoned every gram will count. I had only my Camelbak with 3L of water, 0.5L of highly concetrated Gatorade (from powder), 6 energy gels, three muesli bars and some basic toiletries. I took only one extra t-thirt and shorts. I regreted not taking the flip flops though. And I totally not regret taking my Kindle!

It turned out registering with the local police was pointless. When I called them after the run, they didn't seem to remember me at all. Well, fortunately nothing happened on the way!

Saturday 13th October

4:30 am - start from KKB and run for about 6 hours. By the time I reach the top it will be almost noon, but KKB is 1200m above sea level and it should be considerably colder than in the valley.

Sunday 14th October

Find a way how to get back to Kuala Lumpur...


According to the map it is about 40.1km from the guest house to the hotel. But I can't be sure, because my GPS watch was running low on battery and I had to turn it off.



I managed to wake up on time, 4:00am. I ate my breakfast (apple, bananas, muesli bars) and did some stretching. I felt I ate too much, so I delayed my run until 4:45am.

0 - 12km

Surprisingly this was the most scary part of the whole run. Two aggressive stray dogs chased me for a while. Barking and hiding in the shadows. Since there was just enough light from the street lights, my headlamp was turned to red light. Everytime I looked at them I saw only two pairs of red glowing eyes. Thanks a lot, tapetum lucidum.
When I finally get rid of the dogs I turned my headlamp to white flood light because it got almost pitch black. There was just one fluorescent lightbulb that somebody forgot to turn off in front of their house. And a huge concentration of moths flying around it. Well, that was expected. But what I did not expect were the bats at this all-you-can-eat moth buffet. I ran straight into a cloud of hundreds of small bats just a few meters above the road. Not a single one hit me, but it was not pleasant seeing flashes of bats illuminated by my headlamp just in front of my face.
At the end of the town, the road got wider all the way to Selangor dam. I took my first break there. I tried one of the energy gels, but the taste wasreally disgusting. No matter which flawor. The only thing that helped was diluting it in water.

12 - 26km

After the dam I saw the first traces of sunlight. It was cloudy, but I could see the road without the headlamp. I turned the red light back on and moved the headlight to the back of my head. The road got narrow again and cars started passing me by. From 12km I was taking breaks every 45 minutes. One of the breaks almost meant the end of my run.
It was at this resting place with a small waterfall where I slipped on the wet mossy surface. My legs were just not stable enough after 24km of running uphill. Fortunately I have landed on my hands. The worst scratch was mitigated by my wristband. I almost left it at home because it was too tight!

26 - 32km

After the break at the waterfall the battery in my GPS watch was at 20%. I needed to keep at least stopwatch - I turned off the GPS. This part was quite boring and nothing special happened. Just more cars started to pass me. Some people waved at me, but that was all.

32 - 37km

I reached the Gap where the road to Fraser's hill goes only up and you have to take another route down. It used to alternate up/down every hour but not any more. It started to rain. The rain was pleasant for a while, cooling me down. But when it started pouring I knew I am in trouble. I got cold and my shoes were soaked with water and heavy.

37km - finish

This was by far the worst part of the whole run. I hit the wall. I couldn't run anymore. There was nobody around who could motivate me.I was cold, soaked with water and my legs just gave up. I slowly walked the rest and had to stretch every 500m.
But I made it. I reached Fraser's hill. I was tired but satisfied. The running/walking time was 5:45 with six 10 minutes breaks, in total 6 hours and 45 minutes.

Way back

The next morning I just had breakfast and went to the end of town to hitch a ride back down. It was 9 am. Despite the fact that most people start leaving the hill around lunch time, I waited only half an hour and the 4th car on the road stopped.


It was overall a pleasant experience. I definitely tested myself before the upcoming Fuji Marathon but I know I need to train a bit more. Fraser's hill itself is a boring place when you don't go hiking. But my shoes were totally wet and I couldn't imagine walking more anyway. The weather was dreadful too. The whole hill was basically covered by a cloud. I spent the whole rest of the day reading a book and stretching. The next day the weather got better, but I was looking forward going home.