The Absurdity of Ultra Trailrunning, or not?

Some ‘kitchen table’ philosophical thoughts I had during the 85km and 2900m+ trailrun as part of the Innsbruck Alpine Trail Festival (IATF18).

Reading the book ‘The age of absurdity – Why modern Life makes it Hard to be Happy’ by Michael Foley (2010) I couldn’t stop wondering why I was actually running 85 kilometres around Innsbruck including 2900 metres of climbing and descents during the Innsbruck Alpine Trail Festival (IATF18)?

P.S.1. I got the great tip about BBC Radio 4 ‘The Digital Human’ which discusses the difference between a life with friction and a friction less life. It talks about the same feeling I describe in this blog. Maybe nice to listen to as a podcast during your trailrun.
P.S.2. Why are we doing this? That is the question I want to answer in this article. And I am definitley not the only one. A inspirational movie is ‘THE WHY, Running 100 miles‘.
P.S.3. The GUARDIAN published an interesting article about ‘What running does to your brain?‘. So now it is official: scientific proof that it is absurd but also good 🙂

 

Nobody forced me up those Alpine mountains and said, ”Only come back when you are finished. And by the way, an overnight stay is not included, the idea is to do it all in approximately 12 hours’’.

So, whilst the ‘normal people’ slowly woke up I ran on Saturday morning 28th April with a head torch through Innsbruck, climbed the hills and zigzagged into the forest. The air was still fresh and crispy but it would not take that long to warm up. It would become another sunny and warm day, up to 25 degrees without any clouds. The sunrise was beautiful, at first a red blossom, but quickly with full force enlightening the blossoms in the trees, making the grass in the alpine meadows even more green and the still sleepy and very tidy Austrian villages even more part of a scene out of the romantic Sissi movie.

 

 

That is when my brain wandered off to the question of the absurdity of this all. Or is it absurd? Michael Foley writes about the ‘present age of entitlement’ where people only think and act as if they only have rights and no duties, entitled to a continuous stream of the pleasures of life … and if something is not correct than it is somebody’s or society’s fault and surely not you own or just ‘bad luck’. The call upon entitlement however does not provide a deeper sense of satisfaction and ability to cope with life’s setbacks. For this you need to put in effort and detachment. Effort, setbacks and the like precedes satisfaction, happiness. Detachment provides the ability to observe and think about what is actually going on around you in the world, creating paradoxically more intense engagement …

‘The fool doth think he is wise but the wise man knows himself to be a fool’

(Shakespeare ‘As You like It, Act 5, Scene I – I have not seen this play but the quote posits very eloquently the humbleness in which we can, or maybe should look at life).

The meaning of life is in my opinion most famously stated as to ‘always look on the bright side’. However we are not ‘just’ entitled to be always at this ‘bright side’, we need to find it. To find this ‘bright side’ we need detachment. Micheal Foley writes that …

‘… Real detachment requires ‘Solitude, Stillness and Silence’ instead of the present ‘Commotionism’ (constant company, movement and noise) …’.

 

 

Whilst enjoying the sun, the extremely well stocked refreshment posts, the beautiful scenery, and the many friendly spoken Austrian ‘servus’ I realised that this absurd undertaking of me running 85km in half a day brings for me the pursued solitude, silence and stillness that Michael Foley writes about. An ultra trailrun (i.e. at least a few hours running) by definition goes at a slow pace. The mediating rhythm of running and the physical pains which slowly materialise bring me in a ‘sort of nice flow’. Together with the consciousness that it is my own personal responsibility to start in this event is enough for me to allow my mind the time to detach and wander off.

The K85 followed similar paths as most trailruns I have run both organised and just self-made: as much as possible away from the busy world, through wood, across fields and along river beds. Solitude is not difficult to find in these circumstances, most trailrunners experience their run rather solitary, although there are always those who have the ability to talk for hours. No worries, just drop back a few 100 metres and your are on your own together with the pleasant Silence of nature (although the birds and cow bells are not creating a complete silence, there is a pleasant form of ‘calm’). Stillness may be a strange connection to trailrunning, but not for me. I find stillness in the moments when passing for example a ‘kissing gate’ on the right of way paths in the UK, or during the K85 when passing a corner in the forest and suddenly have a breathtaking view on the snow capped mountains … than I just stop.

received_1939705929375997So what does all these ‘kitchen table’ philosophical thoughts bring me? The realisation that I am very lucky to run in the sun, a little holiday, whilst it is cold and wet at home. That the rest of the family allows me to this instead of coming directly back home after my work abroad was done. Intense enjoyment of the day. A spontaneous pose besides two traditionally dressed Austrian ladies whom picture was just taken that moment. The transition from being in the ‘running flow’ to a feeling of great satisfaction during the last few kilometres ending in euphoria after the finish. Than Solitude, Silence and Stillness are exchanged for sharing stories, memories and ‘thoughts during the trail’ with the other runners. Made even more enjoyable with a few pints of cold alcohol free Erdinger Beer and savoury snacks.

 

 

Ultra trailrunning is absurd! I fully agree but it helps me to make sense of and see the ‘bright side of life’ … and that is all I need.   

Some statistics:

  • In total 150 men and 19 women finished the K85.
  • The men 1 to 150 finished between an very fast 08.07 and more than twice this time of 17.34.
  • The women 1 to 19 finished in the bracket of 08.59 – 17.34 (the last man and woman clearly decided to finish together).
  • I finished as man 54 in 11.14.
  • I was the first Dutchmen of in total three Dutch runners and 19th Men 40 – 50.
  • But to be fair the only Belgian participant and also INOV-8 Benelux ambassador Aaike De Wever (read his experiences) passed the line in a great time of 08.57.

Some trailrun ‘stuff’:

  • I ran on the INOV-8 Roclite 315. These shoes worked well on the dry mixed ground of the not very technical trail consisting mostly softer forest trails, hard packed wide trails and some wonderful small rocky paths along the rivers floating into the River Inn.
  • I wore a 5 litres Race Ultra trailpack from INOV-8 which allowed me to easily take all the required ‘stuff’ with me. The alternative I had brought with me, the Compressport ULTRUN 140 was just a little too small for easy and quick access. It would be great if Compressport would develop a larger trailpack, see also my review: The Trailrunners Belt / Vest / Backpack choice.
  • The Compressport clothes however felt really good in the warm weather and the new R2 OXYGEN tubes did not feel warm at all. Specially made for maximum breathability they did what was stated on the package!
  • In my ‘last week short preparation runs’ in sunny Naples, Italy I noticed again that Compressport produces clothing for the ‘warmer’ Alpine climate with a lot of mesh (beside the compressing fabrics they are known for) and INOV-8 more for the wet and colder UK temperatures, see also my review: Compressport Trailrun clothing.
  • And finally, but surely important, I enjoyed the sun protected by pair of Julbo sunglasses. There any many sport sunglasses on the market. I got in contact with Julbo a few years ago when I won a pair during a trailrun. So the choice was ‘made for me by lady Luck’, but as the stoic would say ‘take advantage of this fortunate happening’.

My bumpy road to the Greater Manchester Marathon

My road to the Greater Manchester Marathon had several ups, potholes and downs but in the end luckily all came together.

IMG_20180411_201240As Dutch Military I was lucky to be a member of the Dutch Defence Forces long distance race team for the past years. This allowed me to run marathons in Suriname, South Korea, Italy and Canada … a nice ‘running’ bonus for working for the Dutch MOD.

The qualification limit for the team is 2.40. This is a time within 60% of the average Military marathons race times. The Dutch MOD do not have ‘professional’ athletes like some other nations (up to Olympic level, for example Poland) but want to promote fitness and healthy competition within the International Military Sport Federation (CISM) based on the slogan ‘Friendship through Sport’.

There are no age categories in the Military Sport World. It does not matter if you are a young soldier of 20, or an ‘older’ (ahum) officer like me of 48. You need to qualify and for me January would be the month of THE DECISION!

To compete or not to compete in a spring marathon in order to qualify for the Military World Championship Marathon in November 2018.

I used the Saturday weekly (in the UK at least) well-known 5km parkruns around Northwood to get up to speed and measure, hopefully, progress. If I was able to get the speed back up to about 4 minutes per kilometre I thought / hoped I would be able to get to the required pace of 3.48 per kilometre for a 2.40 marathon time in the months ahead towards spring time.

Endurance is not the issue for me. I love long distance trailrunning and many weekends I go out for at 30km+ trailrun, enjoying the long distance footpaths, right of way tracks through forest and country side, stopping at kissing gates or to find my way back. But that is something completely different than running 3.48 per km for 2.40 hours!

January showed slowly the progress I hoped for in the Rickmansworth Parkruns

… 4.02 – 3.55 – 3.52 … LET’S DO IT!

 

 

So I signed up for one of the flattest courses in the UK, The Greater Manchester Marathon, created my own hashtag (why not?!) #RoadtoManchersterMarathon and decided on a very basic training schedule: continue running to and from work every day (i.e 20km a day), if possible join a parkrun for speed, a long trail because that is what I like most and further more … just see how I feel. The funny thing is that this last item

ASICS-Greater-Manchester-Marathon_logo-1024x202.jpg

‘how I feel’ resulted in many different runs: complete slow, suddenly a few kilometres at a good pace, a fast or at least intensive kilometre at the end going uphill to work or home …

That is how I like to train, but … to get to 2.40 on the marathon more is needed … I found out …

For me especially more motivation was needed to do regular speed training, so how to get out of this pothole and back on the uphill road to Manchester?

I decided to start run for a charity promoting outdoor activities for people and families which are struggling with cancer or who are recuperating from it, Run4Cancer. main_logo_Run4CancerUnfortunately, also in my own family and family in law cancer has caused a lot of grief, with my mother and mother in law passing away some years ago due to cancer.

Organising things to raise donations really gave me the motivation I needed. Telling people of my goal for the marathon and reasons for the chosen charity pushed me to start doing regular speed training sessions like: 8 times 1km, or 3 times 3km, or 10 time 400m. Why? Sharing my plan forced me mentally to actually start what I needed to do!

And it was fun also, putting daily fruit on the table in the office, having Easter Soup with my colleagues and organising the Chorley-ROOTZ trailrun from the ROOTZ Coffeeshop in DSC_0153 (1)Chorleywood. The last was so much fun that I will continue to organise these: run through the English countryside for 1.30 and than enjoy a good coffee, tea with cake afterwards, what else would you want?

So out of the pothole, away from the down hill motivation, the month of March was all uphill … even when there was snow and mud … and my Fleet Half Marathon test run cancelled due to snow mid-March!

 

 

Parkrun average pace in March … 3.44, 3.45, 3.45 … I was getting close but not close enough for a 3.48 per kilometre for 42.195 kilometres in one race.

I have run enough marathons to know miracles do not exist but if all stars align in perfect order who knows?

 

 

Sunday 8th April, started perfect. My Dutch Defence colleague Edwin de Neijs had a hotel room right near the start allowing a very relaxed warm-up, toilet break, some tea and short run to the start.

The weather was tip-top, with no wind and approx 9 – 10 degrees Celsius … and … although 10.000 people joined the marathon I could start right on the starting line! There is no large group of elite runners in the Manchester marathon (winning time 2.20) so when you run near 2.40 you are allowed in the first start section and even up to the start line when the gun goes off!

I felt great, having seriously tapered the last week with only 5km runs, some core stability exercises, no alcohol and consciously not eating suddenly too much. Do not worry … I have fully indulged myself massively with plenty food and especially two days with huge Ice-creams as dessert!

I could keep a good pace passing 10km in 38.06 and half way 1.20.52. I knew 2.40 was too fast but keeping 3.50 per kilometre seemed achievable … until … around 23km I felt my legs slowly stiffening due to fatigue and cold. I am a ‘cold person’ and the 10 degrees was just a little too cold for me. But that is the fun and adventure of the marathon!

The internal mental struggle starts … continue or stop … slow down? Now way! … think of the charity … think of the potential running bonus … stop moaning … get going … the downhill thoughts stopped and I was able to keep going, a little slower but still OK!

The last kilometres were brutal and painful but also great! Edwin had caught with up after running a more flat race and together we pushed for the last stretch passing the finish together … in … 2.43.52 … HAPPY!

 

Medal, Erdinger Alcohol free recovery Beer, Protein recovery shakes, shuffling back to the hotel … shower … Guinness! Food! Ice Cream!

More than 500 GBP raised for Run4Cancer!

 

Is it enough for the Dutch military team? That is up to the coach to decide. Three days of sore calves tells me this was the maximum achievable at the moment. Faster is surely possible when my training is more focused on the marathon I am sure … but for now … relax and enjoy!

THE MOVIE 🙂

Some (maybe not very) interesting facts 🙂

I ran on Brooks Hyperion road race shoes, used Compressport tubes to reduce calve stiffness (‘Dutch’ orange coloured for additional motivation!), and was further dressed in a running short, a short sleeve shirt with a Run4Cancer running top and a buff.

My breakfast followed my ‘usual marathon routine’: alarm at 0500 with a start at 0900, four white buns with jam and honey together with two cups of strong coffee and a bottle of energy drink. No more drinking after 0600 besides a cup of tea, one gel and a little energy drink before the start.

The refreshments post during the race were excellent with real water bottles instead of plastic cups (which do not allow you to keep running and take a small sip now and than). My drinking plan was for some water every 10km. However, due to the cold I did not need that much water, which was OK because the water bottles were rather cold themselves!

Other bonus were the gels provided. I started with four of my favourite TriSportPharma gels Ratio 2:1, one just before the start followed by one every 5km. However, I did not want to carry many more gels due to the weight so I was glad to know the organisation provided real gels instead of the usual only banana, cookies etc. Well done for Manchester!

Finish time 2.43.52, average of 3.53 minutes per kilometres, 100 metres measured height gained, 2800 calories.

 

Manchester Marathon 2018 tijden.jpgManchester Marathon 2018 tijden 2.jpg

Will I run the Greater Manchester Marathon again?

I do not think so, at least not because of the atmosphere. The marathon navigates Greater Manchester with very lively parts in suburbs but also very dull parts.

OK, I understand this part but why start and finish both on a wide road near a shopping mall and not in the city centre with live music, open pubs and fully pack terraces!

On the other hand … maybe yes, only because indeed it is flat, fast, easy to start in front and has well organised refreshment posts. But I think I will try London in 2019!

The Trailrunners Belt / Vest / Backpack choice

Overload – Help! – Too many trail packs to choose from. I hope my experiences may help you to make a choice that fit your needs.

FB_IMG_1508699986849Trailrunners are easily recognisable, are they not? Sturdy running shoes, probably compression tubes, double layer short running tights, a colourful running shirt, a Buff and … a trailvest!

BLUF, i.e. Bottom Line Up Front:

I prefer not to carry anything when running, but sometimes it is needed due the distance, the remoteness of the terrain, the mandatory kit list, your own multi-day trailrun plan or the stuff you need to bring into the office for work.

So what are the options? Well in the end probably 100+ if you do a Google search. All have pro’s and con’s and the price range is rather large to say the least!

During my years of trailrunning I ended up with five ‘systems’ of which I use four regularly and one, to be honest hardly ever because it just does not work for me. I hope my experiences will help you to decide what is maybe the most suitable ‘system’ for you.

So here we go,

from small to large and one to four,

adding number five as the ‘system’ I do not use.

Number one: The Compressport Free Belt

freebeltAt first I was a bit hesitant to use this but after a while I really started to appreciate the Free Belt. Main advantage I think is that it is extremely easy in design. does the job, i.e. carry stuff, and in my opinion looks rather cool. I use it for running to and from work carrying my phone, head torch, clean socks and maybe a sandwich. The Free Belt has four equal size spaces and uses stretch to stay in place around your hips and to keep the stuff inside. No zips or buckles that may irritate, get stuck or break. During a weekend trailrun I easily pack my phone, a energy bar and one or two 250ml soft flask.

The Free Belt works for me in the meaning that it stays rather well around my hips and just occasionally has the tendency to creep up towards your stomach area. If this happens all is still well packed and does not fall out.

Be aware is that when you are sweating the Free Belt gets completely wet. That may not be a surprise but you need to pack everything that you don’t want to get wet. The Free Belt dries rather quickly so when you run home in the evening after a day in the office it is dry again!

Summary: Basic, clever designed, not too expensive Belt that can easily carry the essentials for a Sunday morning 3-hours trailrun, looks cool and indeed leaves you as Free moving as possible.

 

Number two: INOV-8 Race Ultra 5 Vest / Pack

race-ultra-5This is a trail pack I really like for several reasons.

As many other trail packs it is lightweight (approx 260 grams) , has a good 5 litre storage compartment which can be compressed with a bungee cord and an emergency whistle. You can use the bungee cord to carry for example a lightweight jacket increasing the amount you can carry.

20170903_130129However, the real big pro’s for me are the two (very) large side mesh pockets and the two separate reservoir zipped pockets wich hold two 500ml soft flask with a 30cm drinking tube.

  • The side mesh pockets are ideal for storing your Buff, mittens, energy bars (or cellophane after eating them – leave nothing but your footprints behind), phone, map etc. They are large enough for all these items and stay secured around your body. Only be careful when you pull off the trail pack because than the mesh stretch does not secure all the stuff anymore that well. These large side pockets is a feature I have not seen on other trail packs. Most have smaller stretch or zipped packs, not the ‘huge’ ones on this vest.
  • The soft flask combination with the 30cm drinking tube allow you to easily keep drinking whilst running and without any bouncing of hard bottles. Just be aware to pull the drinking tube not only through the loop in the zipped pocket but also through the small loop halfway the front straps. If you do not need both soft flasks than the zipped compartments are large enough to fit a 6 inch phone.
For these very good reasons the The Race Ultra 10 litre compatriot was voted best in the performance accessories category by a panel of expert judges and named a 2015/2016 ISPO AWARD GOLD WINNER.
Unfortunately INOV-8 does not sell this type anymore but some other shops do, so please do a search on the internet. There are three successors I think in the INOV-8 inventory at the moment, however be aware of, in my opinion, real downside to two of three.
  • The first two successors are the Race Elite (4 litres) or Race Elite Vest 10 litre, equipped with hard bottles!! Something I do not understand from INOV-8. I think nowadays most, if not all trailrunners (please respond if you do not agree) would select soft flasks to prevent unnecessary bouncing. Also they do not provide the comfort of the drinking tubes. This means you need to get the hard bottle out of the mesh pocket, open the lid, drink, close the lid and put it back into the mesh pocket all the while not really looking where you are running.
  • The third, and in my opinion best successor is the All Terrain Pro 0 – 15 which has the same benefits as the Race Ultra 5 I described. Difference is that you can either have a minimalist Race Vest 0 or a larger Race Ultra 15 by adding a 15 litres pack. How the split between the vest and the 15 litres pack performs on the trails I have no experience yet but it looks a good alternative. This design won a Trail Running Magazine Best Test and reading some reviews on the internet this is a pack I definitely consider when the present is really, really worn out.
Be aware that the Race Ultra 5 come in two sizes. I surely needed the M/L with a regular chest size of 95cm.
Summary: Best Trail pack I have with great a on-the-run hydration system and well sized mesh pockets for all the stuff you want to keep quick at hand.
Maybe we should start a campaign to have INOV-8 put the soft flasks with drinking tubes in all there packs and ban hard bottles :).

Number three: The Compressport ULTRUN 140 Grams Pack

CC Pack frontThis is I think one of the lightest Trail packs at the moment using stretch fabric all around to keep stuff in and save weight. It fits very comfortable and combines a lower clipbelt with an easy to use knotted stretch cord to keep the pack in place.
It has enough room to store the same amount as the INOV-8 Race Ultra 5 but has in my opinion some disadvantages which makes the Race Ultra 5 my favourite when needed to pack just a little more.
CC Pack back
The disadvantages are in my opinion:
  • No bungee cord to add that additional jacket. The Compressport stretch does not need the bungee cord for compression, the design will do that for you. However, you miss that extra storage capacity.
  • Only two small mesh side pockets which hardly fit a 5 inch mobile phone.
  • The pockets on the IMG-20170703-WA0004front straps are just too small to fit two fully filled 500ml soft flasks without the danger that when running and jumping downhill they accidentally drop out (which happend to me in the beginning so now I only fill them to approx 350ml). Also adding drinking tubes is more difficult because there are no loops to keep the tubes in place.
  • The way running poles are stored created chafing at my ribs just where the handle of the poles touch your torso.

Summary: very lightweight and comfortable trail pack. However, the design has some disadvantages with respect to side pockets and soft flask storage. They promote it as a trail vest that will keep you going for 100+ kilometres. I have some doubt with respect to the amount of storage space. I use it for shorter distances or when I do not need too carry too much stuff.

One thing that is really good with this trail pack is the promotion video on YouTube in which they compare a trailrunner with a infantry soldier packing up for field day. 

Number four: INOV-8 Race Elite 24

ultr 24I bought this pack when I planned for a multi-day self organised trailrun with overnight stays in for example a B&B (Ridgeway Trail, Christmas 2016), or a mountain hut on the Etna (March 2017) or in the Spanish Pyrenees (Summer 2017). I also use it sometimes when running to work when I need to bring clean clothing for example.

I like the large zip opening which gives you quick overall access. There is a small zip pocket inside for credit cards etc. The bungee cords enables to compress the pack to the size you want . The pack can be strapped close to your body with adjustable front straps and two straps on either side. The

DSC_0212

front straps also contain two large zipped pockets just like the above described Race Ultra 5. The pack does not come with soft flasks or drinking tubes but you can use them if you want to.

Only disadvantage I have with this pack is that it is really has only one compartment pack. No outside mess side pockets as with the Race Ultra 5. Also no compartments within the large pack itself, for example a mesh zip that could either split the pack in two parts or if zipped open make it one big one. Maybe something INOV-8 can consider with there next design.

At present INOV-8 do not sell this pack anymore but other store do, just take a search on the internet. INOV-8 successor is the All Terrain 25. However, looking at this design it missed the option to pack two soft flask with drink tubes and also does not have large quick stow-away side mesh pockets but two zipped side pockets. In all it is more a small backpack than a trail pack, I am not really convinced (yet). Probably the All Terrain Pro Vest 0 – 15 would perform better in my opinion. A little less volume but all the benefits of mesh side pockets and a on-the-run hydration system.

Number five: INOV-8 RACE ULTRA 1 WAIST HYDRATION PACK

INOV8RACEULTRA1-2I have an older version of the All Terrain Pro 1. My version is not sold anymore by INOV-8 but some shops still offer them besides the new All Terrain Pro 1.

I never really got comfortable with this belt. Main reasons were that it always ended around my stomach area whatever I tried. The belt bounced too much for my liking when carrying two 500ml hard bottles. And there was only minimal room to store stuff like a phone, energy bars etc. Also there was no ‘safe storage’ using a zip compartment of with the Free Belt several stretch compartments.

Looking at the new INOV-8 All Terrain Pro 1 I think this would solve many of the above issues due to the use of soft flasks (which create a vacuum when drinking) and more, and secure compartments.

Summary: A waist pack with hard bottles that does not fit me, sorry. Advise to test it well before considering buying.

Hopefully my experiences are of help, just let me know your experiences!

 

 

Compressport Trailrun clothing

Born in Switzerland
– Compressport Trailrunning Review –

I felt really lucky and privileged this year in April to dress myself in a new set of Compressport Trailrunning clothes. I always really enjoy new trailrunning clothes as others may be thrilled buying a new dress, or the latest jeans. And just as with new jeans, you start to appreciate them more and more when time progresses. It is now August and some 2000 trailkilometers later, time for a review …

Are the ”Born in Switzerland” compression clothes as good as Compressport states?

The most trailrun kilometers I wore a set of:

P.S. The links will bring you to the Compressport website to find out more technical details. My review focuses on my practical experiences of these technical details, did they work for me, do they actually add positively to my trailrunning?

During the longer trails and especially the six days multi-stage PirineosFIT 2017 Jaca Trailweek I used the 140 gram Ultrun Trailrunvest. During shorter runs, or runs were I knew I did not need that much to carry I used the FreeBelt. These two products I will review separately in comparison with some other trailrun vests that I have. The running gloves I will test during fall  /winter 2017-2018.

My Experiences – Summary

If you are looking for Trailrunning compression clothing I think you will not find any better than from Compressport.

It is not cheap but you get your money’s worth of very high quality clothing packed with a lot of technology and nice features.

As always the proof is in the wearing, and that is what I did for many trail kilometres. I hope my experiences will support your decision what to obtain to enjoy the trails …they are there to enjoy and explore.

My Experiences – Detailed

GREAT LOOKS

To start with the most important (not really):

the gear just looks great, has a soft touch and makes you want to keep running!!

IMG-20170703-WA0004To be honest, it is not important at all for the actual running how the clothes look like but for the psychological part of running it sure is! I think most of us, at least I do, will scan how other runners are dressed when in a race or just when passing during a training. For what reason? Partly to check the competition, assuming ‘well dressed’ runners are serious runners, i.e. FAST! Partly to see if there are new ‘goodies’ around.

TECHNOLOGY

The compression technology for which Compressport is well known I found most useful in the short and tubes.

DSC_0129This performance enhancement technology works well for me. Especially the Tubes give me good calve stability and Achilles support. Both are important for me, whilst I had some Achilles heel issues over the years and also the tendency that my calves were the first limiters during a long (marathon) race getting cramps. This is now very much reduced – for the Achilles heel also with custom-made orthotics.

The compression running short provides compression of your thighs: does it help? For this I am less sure than the tubes but it feels good and my own experience and mental proof is that I did not suffer any cramps in either calves or thighs during the strenuous six days PirineosFIT 2017 Trailweek where I ran a mountain marathon every day. The compression is stronger than for example the Raidlight Ultralight short.

The fabrics are a nice combination of:

  • softness, it feels pleasant to the body and does not create any irritation or chafing even after running eight hours in warm weather, sweating a lot whilst wearing a trailrunvest;
  • quick drying from sweat, rain or after a stream crossing – the Tubes are for example much more quickly dry than the Herzog Tubes;
  • breathable, especially the lower part of the shirt, the groin part of the short and the back of the Hurricane Jacket through the ‘compression mesh’. The mess width is large enough for pleasant cooling but luckily small enough not to become ‘see through’ which would be a little embarrassing for especially the short.
  • rubber frictions patches on the short to provide support for your sweaty hands when pushing you upwards to the mountain tops. These I used extensively during the World Championship Trailrunning 2017 in Italy.
  • rubber frictions patches on the the shoulders of the shirt providing support to the trailvest;
  • the sweatband of the visor cap is pleasant, keeps it in place even when in stronger winds and I like the ‘additional’ cooling for my head when compared with a normal cap;
  • lightness, especially the Hurricane Jacket of only 110 grams! The jacket is designed with a stretch mesh back for breath-ability and stretch so you can use it both directly over the shirt but also easily over the trailrunvest when wearing one.

Pockets:

  • The shirt has six pockets all around at the lower part. These are useful for light weight stuff like energy bars / gels but not so much for more heavy things like a mobile phone or a soft flask. The stretching mesh is just not strong enough to keep such heavier items in place when running.
  • The short unfortunately does not have any pockets on the sides or back although I think that would be a good place for mesh pockets for mobile phones for example (compared with for example the Raidlight Ultralight short).

Wear and Tear:

Overall the clothes still look great after several hundred of trail kilometres including several ‘stumbles’ on the rocks and interaction with bramble bushes and dozens of machine / shower washing. Only wear I experienced was loosening of the inner Compressport print in the short, maybe a wrong use of glue? However, this is not what you expect of a primary brand like Compressport.

SIZING

I had some issues with the size advice from Compressport.

Based on their advice I first ordered Tubes size two because I ended up just between size one and two and followed the rule to use the larger size when in doubt. When using these size two Tubes I felt too little compression so I changed them (without any costs) to size one which fitted much better.

The size advice for the shirt also troubled me. I started with size SMALL based upon the advice of Compressport. Although this size gave me a good fit around my chest it had the tendency to creep up around my waist when running, creating a split between the short and the shirt. Although maybe good for the suntan on my stomach it did not feel very pleasant. Unfortunately also MEDIUM had the same issue so I ended up with size LARGE (without any costs). This size was long enough to stay around my waist without creating a bare skin opening with the short. Downside of this is that the upper body compression is less and more importantly that the pockets and the lower part are not stretched enough to keep heavier items in place. Something to consider when acquiring this shirt.

THE OVERSHORT?

I think that Compressport has designed the Trail Underwear Short to be worn in combination with the Overshort. At least that is what is shown on the website. However, I found the Overshort of no added benefit to for example more quick drying of the short or to protect the groin area for any ‘see-through’. Also the Overshort had the tendency to creep up to my waist, above the waistband of the short. That did not feel very pleasant and also ‘looked’ a bit strange. I ended up not wearing the Overshort at all after the first few runs.

Other brands also offer two-layer trailrun short (like the INOV-8 Twin Short) but these are completely integrated as one piece complete with pockets etc. I am not sure why Compressport choose to split the two items.

Your Experiences?

I am really interested in your experiences of the Compressport trailrun clothing and also how it compares in your opinion with other high end trailrunning brands like INOV-8, RAIDLIGHT or for example SALAMON. Just drop an e-mail, 🙂 , CHEERS!

Pirineosfit Jaca Trailweek – Day Two

Biescas round-trip: A ‘Walk in the Park’ …

IMG_20170704_145419_685How can you call day two of the Pirineosfit Jaca Trailweek a ‘Walk in the Park’?

Well luckily for three good reasons!

First of all I woke up feeling refreshed after yesterday’s run. Resting in the afternoon sun, foam-roll self-massage and a mountain of proteins and Ice-cream worked out quite well.

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Day Two – Again enjoying myself!

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Just to be clear, with a ‘Walk in the Park’ I do not mean the English Parkruns every Saturday morning at 0900: ‘just show up and run ‘only’ 5km’. I really like that set-up and that brings me to the second reason: the organisation needed to shorten the route again, just like yesterday to ‘only’ 25 kilometres and 1300 metres height gain, i.e. a ‘Walk in the Park’ when your whole mind is focused on running 41km and 2700m+.

Luckily this time they announced it at the start so it was no surprise at the end! I quickly left half of my TriSportPharma Energy bars and water behind, no need to carry more than needed!

Whilst most runners started relatively fast I decided to start at an ‘easy’ pace, warm up the legs and get into the running rhythm. The MudSweatTrails Black Diamond Trailpoles were ‘locked and loaded’ from the start and of great help whilst winding uphill along a MTB-trail. The legs felt good so I could maintain a nice pace and caught up with some of the earlier fast starters.

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Great pictures from Day One: Alpine country!

 

The MTB-trail must be a real challenge for cycling downhill, running uphill I really enjoyed (so if you want to do some ‘extreme MTB’ this is a good place to go to). And that is the third and final reason for the ‘Walk in the Park’, the trail went through forest, meadows and followed an easy ridge. Completely different from the Alpine environment yesterday.

After reaching the top half-way also IMG-20170703-WA0007the down hill part was along MTB-trails, sometimes crazy steep, through forest and some remote rocky parts.

 

 

All in all I had the feeling of running in a Forest Nature Park, or as the call it in the UK: ‘An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, and sure it was beautiful!

DSC_0029DSC_0030Just like yesterday the PirineosFIT2017 organisation offered a nice cold pasta at the finish.

During the run I already looked forward to it, mjam!! – with some salt, olive oil, cucumber and a ice-cold gazpacho, just great!

DSC_0032Tomorrow even more sun and a bit warmer again. However, at the moment I have no sunburn (yet), probably (or hopefully) because I follow the wise advice from my spouse Lonneke, ‘put sunscreen on in the morning before getting dressed’, combined with my comfortable Julbo sunglasses and Compressport Ultra-light Visor (disadvantage is that I need to put sunscreen on my head due to my short haircut 🙂 ).

All four of the ‘instant team’ FIT 4 FANTASTICOS ran well today, hopefully we will all finish again well tomorrow, which according to the organisation will not be ‘that easy’.

NOTE: The PirineosFIT2017 have live Facebook coverage every day, summary videos and amazing photos (do not expect anything else from the Extreme photo – it is really funny, they are great in hiding themselves and than suddenly – flash!), all worthwhile to take a look, who knows maybe we can make another instant team next year!)

But for now, sit back (on the bed), relax and recuperate …

CHEERS!

Ready or not … here I come …

Pirineosfit International Trail Festival, 1-8 July, Jaca, Spain

Six days, six mountain marathons, 234 km, 15.000 meters height

grafica-web-1Ready or not … I do not really know? Joining a six day multistage Pirineosfit trailrun in the Spanish Pyrenees is a new step in my trailrunning experience. I am used to run every day, and did a few longer multiday trailruns, but never six days, and never in the high mountains … we will see 🙂

At least I am mentally, physically and materially prepared … at least I think I am!

Mentally: When you ask me: “Do you want to come to Spain and run for six days?”, it is like asking me: “Do you want a big pack of Ben & Jerry’s Ice-cream”. I am a bit of an Ice-cream-aholic so the answer will be: “Yes!!!”. And I think I will treat my self with a nice, big ice-cream after every mountain marathon next week … good for moral … keep calm and carry on as they say here in England.

Physically: We are now half way the year and I ran 3080km these last six months, i.e. almost 17km per day. I think that must be enough to complete this challenge. If not … I could not really have done more kilometres, maybe different training but I like the way I run … enjoy … no fixed plan … we will see. The six days are called ‘Endurance’ and that is what I enjoy to do. And if all goes peer-shape I can change to a half marathon a day. Still a challenge but I will not be part of the final results … does that matter … physically no, mentally (see above) yes.

Materially: My (trail)run closet is almost bursting so there must be enough gear to get me over the mountains! Six days to test all kind of goodies, that is what I like!

DSC_0001Shoes: I will use these six days to test the new INOV-8 Trailroc 285. I posted my first experiences already on Facebook but this will be a great test!

For assurance I also pack my favourite INOV-8 Trail Talon 275 and Roclite 305.

DSC_0006Clothing: The weather forecast looks … warm! … 24 – 30 degrees Celsius … that means I can surely test my new Compressport railrunning outfit. I have used before during the Sacred Forests World Championship trailrunning in Italy and really enjoyed the compression for both the calves and upper legs. Also the rubber buttons on the short helped during the steep ascends, creating grip of you hands when you push your self upwards. I am struggling a bit with the shirt which has the tendency to wiggle itself up my waist although I am wearing now a larger size. Ventilation is great and I think I will need it.

DSC_0005Trailvest: Pending a bit on the amount of mandatory gear and water refreshment along the route I will use the lightweight (140 grams only) Compressport Trailrunvest. But just to make sure I will also take my well worn INOV-8 Race Ultra 5 with me which has just a little bit more space for clothing, drinks and energy.

Trailpoles: I was lucky enough to get a pair of Black Diamond Trailpoles from the MudSweatTrail Store just in time for the the Sacred Forests Trail. As ‘low lander’ I am not used to run with poles but during the almost 3000 meter height gain within 55km of trail I was very happy to use them, after some ‘gundrill training’ with them the weeks before.

DSC_0004Energy: Maybe the most important part of all. Make sure I keep taking in enough energy and fluids during and after the trails. The six days are called ‘Endurance’ for a reason. It is not about going fast, but making sure you recover quickly enough to enjoy the next day as you did the previous one. I think I have reasonable experience in this subject. I use a mixture of products, mainly of TrisportPharma which for me works well, especially with respect to not have any stomach issues when pushing your body to the limits.

Ready or not?

As I wrote myself on the opening page of my weblog, Trailrunning … I just love it …, I think I should add … and enjoy it! I will keep you posted.