Running

Specificity – Or Something Close to It

Training by specificity is a very fancy and technical way of saying “you get better at something by practising, and the more you do it, the better you get”. It’s the reason why marathon runners need to include some training runs at marathon pace. It’s also the reason why sometimes, you get really well, duh sounding advice like “if you want to run faster, you need to learn to run faster”. Mimicking your race day conditions (to the best of your ability – there is nothing one can do about the weather) and rehearsing as often as possible will make it that much easier, which is why some coaches believe this to be one of the most important principles in performing on race day.

Except.

It’s hard to mimic the conditions of an unfamiliar trail race, in an unfamiliar part of the country/world. So, the next best thing to do is to find the hardest landscape within vicinity, and train on it, keeping your fingers tightly crossed that it’d be enough preparation for the big day. In the best case scenario, it’d be an ass-kicking terrain and you’re well-prepared for the race. In the worst case scenario, you’re simply less ill-prepared. It’s highly unlikely that anyone can be over-prepared for anything.

So this weekend, the Ninja Turtle took to the hills – literally – on her LSD.

Her first goal was Mont Saint Quentin, and this was the view from above. There was a group of runners sadistically punishing themselves with this hill on a sunny Sunday morning, so the Turtle slowed down to have a chat with a few of them. Who said long distance running was lonely?

Her first goal was Mont Saint Quentin, and this was the view from above. There was a group of runners sadistically punishing themselves with this hill on a sunny Sunday morning, so the Turtle slowed down to have a chat with a few of them. Who said long distance running was lonely?

Scy-Chazelle, where the Maison de Robert Schumann (one of the co-founders of post WWII modern Europe) is situated. It's also one of the villages along the Route des Vins (wine route). Moselle produces some lovely white wines.

Scy-Chazelles, where the Maison de Robert Schumann (one of the co-founders of post WWII modern Europe) is situated. It’s also one of the villages along the Route des Vins (wine route). Moselle produces some lovely white wines.

In the forest coming down Mont St Germain. What do you do when faced with obstacles like a giant fallen tree? You hurdle over it of course! (Nah, kidding. The Ninja Turtle's 5 foot 1, so she easily passed under, although other runners may have to do the limbo).

In the forest coming down Mont St Germain. What do you do when faced with obstacles like a giant fallen tree? You hurdle over it of course! (Nah, kidding. The Ninja Turtle’s 5 foot 1, so she easily passed under, although other runners may have to do the limbo).

Running insanely long distances like that have one huge advantage. Once a runner is able to overcome the scary, horrible idea of “I have to do x km today”, the obligation turns into an opportunity. “I have x km to explore!” See, fundamentally, we’re all explorers, and deep inside, there resides the kernel of curiosity as to what lies beyond the hill, or even just around the corner. The Ninja Turtle didn’t have to worry about sticking to familiar routes and having to turn back; GodzillaPin had offered to pick her up from anywhere in case she’d gone too far. This gave the Ninja Turtle license to go out literally as far as her prescribed training distance, without worrying about making it back, if she didn’t want to. Hence, the hills, the forests, the little villages, etc.

Crazily enough, the green parts of the map on Lessy and Chatel Saint Germain were all forest hills, and the one in Lessy is part of the GR5 route (stretching from the Netherlands to Switzerland). It was hauntingly beautiful to be alone in the woods.

Crazily enough, the green parts of the map on Lessy and Chatel Saint Germain were all forest hills, and the one in Lessy is part of the GR5 route (stretching from the Netherlands to Switzerland). It was hauntingly beautiful to be alone in the woods.

P.S (She made it home on her own two feet, by the way! As she staggered through the door after climbing 3 flights of steps to their apartment, she was greeted with the most amazing smell of food – GodzillaPin had very thoughtfully cooked her  potatoes and homemade bolognaise sauce. If that isn’t true love, not sure what it is. To show her appreciation, she demolished all 2kg of it within half an hour.)

How do you train for a trail race?

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Running

What Is The Best Thing About Running In The Rain?

Because in this season, sooner or later, you’ll find yourself doing it, so you might as well see the brighter side of things!

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Running

The Importance of Rest Days

Lately, the Ninja Turtle has been toying around with her running schedule. She recently made a new friend, who conveniently is a fellow runner and lives on the same street as she does, hence, a shining new running buddy (who is not the reluctant GodzillaPin). It’s marvellous to run with an intrinsically motivated runner, but more importantly, it gives her some much-needed female company.

The Ninja Turtle would lay down her life for her pack of male wolves, but there are many times when she misses the company of Ducky, Baby Turtle, or any woman actually.

The Ninja Turtle would lay down her life for her pack of male wolves, but there are many times when she misses the company of Ducky, Baby Turtle, or any woman actually.

As a result of fiddling with her running schedule, however, she exceeded her weekly mileage by about 10% last week. On top of that, she’s found herself doing some back-to-back key runs (LSD + tempo, or tempo + hill sprints anyone?).

Wait a minute… she hears some readers saying. How is that a bad thing? More running = WIN, right?

Well, in the running community, there is something known as Rest Days, or Recovery Days. It’s days when one takes a break from running, to either cross-train or do bugger-all. The idea is to prevent burn-out, overuse injury, and most likely, boredom. Actually, it’s probably to prevent boredom because even runners have a limit to their insanity. At any rate, they are just as important as training, proper nutrition and sleep if one wishes to improve performance. Somewhere along the cheese and cured meats aisle at the supermarket yesterday, the Ninja Turtle felt her legs suddenly turn to jelly. She knew she had to back off the running for a day or two.

Some very diligent people cross-train, but the Ninja Turtle very much prefers to do this instead:

That may or may not be the Ninja Turtle's third glass before 5.30pm. And she is known to eat upwards of 8oz of cheese at a time. Screw the pizzas, bring on the REAL deal.

That may or may not be the Ninja Turtle’s third glass before 5.30pm. And she is known to eat upwards of 8oz of cheese at a time. Screw the pizzas, bring on the REAL deal. In this picture – Gorgonzola, Camembert de Normandie, Jeune Cantal, Ossau-Iraty of the Basque Country and chèvre.

The biggest upside of taking a proper break is maintaining sanity and by extension, motivation to continue running. You know you’ve crossed a line when you start having dreams/nightmares involving running/food. If you have already experienced such debilitating symptoms, the Ninja Turtle prescribes a hot bath, a glass of red wine and a good mystery book, either separately or all together, depending on your ability to multitask.

As for the Ninja Turtle, she started the day foam-rolling, and ever since, she’s been indulging in documentaries of the Hundred Years War, drunk-enrolling in races, drunk-booking accommodations in the proximity of said races, and pissing herself laughing at readers’ comments on The Guardian.

Rest days are necessary. One should come out of a rest day feeling rested, recharged, replenished and raring to go. If not, you haven’t rested enough, in which case, the Ninja Turtle says, take another rest day. In the long run, this small investment of self-care will pay incredible dividends.

Shout-Out: Happy belated birthday to both our dear Swiss Chick and Runner Bean, who turned 29 and 32 respectively, both on the same day. May your birthdays have been beer/wine/cake/pizza-fuelled orgies in which we wish we had participated in.

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