Carson Footwear Iguana Racers – Review

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Earlier this year I purchased the Iguana Racers from Carson Footwear and right from the start the experience with this company was a happy one. I found out about Carson Footwear from stumbling across them one day on the internet and was intrigued by the brand. I decided to investigate the brand further and liked what I saw, so I needed to try some of these out.

Each pair of Carson shoes are made by hand in Oregon, USA. They have some of the most fun and cool colours and designs you’ll see on a running shoe. The hardest part is picking the design you want. I decided to go with the Iguana racer, which was the first design to go to market for Carsons. My experience started with me ordering the wrong size, Carson use a last sizing which is different from the current shoe sizing standards and despite using the sizing chart I got it wrong, the size I ordered was too small, not ideal when the shoes have already travelled from the US to Australia. The service from Carson Footwear was great, they promptly sent me a new pair and I returned the incorrect sized pair.

From my first run in the Iguana racers I immediately noticed they were different to every other pair of running shoes I’ve worn. Initially I thought they felt heavier than advertised but once I ran in them my opinion changed. The biggest difference is the polyurethane midsole/outsole that is zero drop with a 10 mm stack height. The polyurethane midsole/outsole is where most of the weight is in the shoe which makes the shoe have a lower centre of gravity which makes the shoe feel very light once running in them. Also the polyurethane reacts differently to a traditional EVA midsole as it absorbs the impact over a larger surface area giving greater ground feel. The advantage of this is it allows for more cushioning with less material under the foot, which is what we want in a minimal shoe. The polyurethane is remarkably flexible, 10mm under foot is not very much, but it is more than enough to give a smooth ride over all surfaces and a comfortable running experience. Like every good minimal shoe there is a wide and roomy toe box. With a flexible, light and responsive midsole and outsole the foot makes the decisions for the shoe rather than the opposite.

The upper material is extremely comfortable, made from a synthetic mesh, and very breathable in hot conditions. As said previously the upper are available in numerous fun designs. You will be asked about your shoes when you wear them.

The Iguana racers are head and shoulders the most comfortable shoes I have worn. I have now run over 400km in these shoes, they have been tested on all surfaces, technical trails of both dirt and rocks, as well as road and beach. They are responsive on the technical trails and although the tread is not extreme gives more than enough grip when needed. The feel is very smooth and comfortable for a shoe with only 10mm stack height, in my opinion this is the advantage of the polyurethane. Comfort on the road is fine, however I think they are best suited to the trails. Each time I run in these I feel like heading to a trail.

After 400km in the Iguana racers they are now firmly into my running footwear rotation. Whilst some shoes with traditional EVA midsole won’t last much longer than 400km, the Iguanas are just coming into their own. There is some visible wear to the sole but there are many more runs ahead in these shoes. So if you don’t like buying shoes every few months than these are for you.

Overall the Iguana racer is perfect for anyone comfortable running in a minimal shoe. If you haven’t transitioned to this style of footwear it will take some time. The comfort, ground feel and cool designs make sure the Iguana racers are a happy experience every time I run in them.

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How to run a negative split marathon by Galen Rupp

In winning the Chicago marathon Galen Rupp has broken a long drought since the last American won in the windy city. The first since 2002 to win and the first American born in 35 years.

He has done so with an impressive negative split. Rupp was ultra consistent running with a large lead pack through halfway in 66:11. The second half of the race run in 63:09. Rupp was extraordinarily strong over the last five miles running his last five mile splits in 4:39, 4:35, 4:30, 4:34 and 4:33 finishing the last 5.2 miles or sub 2:01 marathon pace and gave himself a 38 second personal best at the marathon.

A 66:11 first half is certainly not fast by runners of these standards but for Rupp to be able to still have this type of speed at the end of the marathon is highly impressive. The absence of pacemakers in Chicago impacts the times compared with the fastest marathons in the world. Be interesting to see Rupp line up in London or Berlin in time and test his ultimate marathon speed against the likes of Kipchoge an co.

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For the average marathon runner this may be a ‘don’t try this at home’ moment. Being able to run a large negative split in a goal marathon is obviously difficult. It’s much easier and safer to run a consistent race.

Even if you were to run below your goal race pace for the first half there is no guarantees you’ll be able to run above your goal pace late in a marathon. There is not many of us have the ability of Galen Rupp to run a large negative split and still run your best marathon time on the day.

 

 

How to run a 1 second parkrun PB

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U a recovery week following my recent marathon I decided this week g get my running routine back to some normality and decided this weeks training end to test myself at parkrun on Saturday (today) and back to a longer run Sunday. I also decided to visit my neighbouring town  about 20 minutes drive away, Wauchope for their park run as I have only been there once and enjoy the course. The course is a nice two lap course, with one lap shorter than the other along the river which is relatively flat apart from one hill which you run once on each lap.

My previous effort there was a 17:37, which at the time I was surprised and happy to be able to run on this course. My goal for this visit was to run hard and test my fitness, run consistent from start to finish and see what happens. All my fastest parkrun times have come when my splits are consistent. I am a firm believer in this strategy for races of every distance.

Whenever I race, I break my race into thirds. Beginning, middle and end. In the beginning I try to be patient, in the middle I try to be disciplined and in the end I try to give my best effort. I use this strategy to keep my running consistent, however even though you want the splits to be the same the effort levels will change through the race.

Today, I was able to beat my previous time on this course by one second and run 17:36. My kilometre splits  were 3:31, 3:35, 3:31, 3:40 & 3:28 for an average pace of 3:33 min/km for the 5km.Happy to keep my pacing relatively consistent today. The fourth kilometre is a tough one on this course with two hairpin turns and the hill to contend with I lost a little bit of time here. Running felt good today though, I was patient enough to be able to control my running in the first kilometre, use some disciplined pacing in the middle of the race and gave my best effort and pushed hard near the end.

Overall a good  way to start my running this weekend. Looking forward to getting back out to this parkrun again soon. It’s been an enjoyable run both times I’ve run here.

 

New goals – Canberra Marathon 2018

With my race season likely to be coming to an end for the remainder of the year, it’s a time to plan for some new goals to train for in the beginning of 2018. One race that I have wanted to do again for a while has been the Canberra marathon and I am going to plan this as my first major goal race for 2018.

Canberra marathon is a race that I have done before but a long time ago. I ran the Canberra marathon in 2002, it was my second marathon and to date on a road marathon course it’s my personal worst marathon time. It was a day that I learnt how much the marathon distance can humble you. I had run the Sydney marathon as my first marathon the previous year and everything went to plan, in training and on race day. On my journey to Canberra I suffered injury setbacks in training and was nowhere near as fit or ready as the previous marathon in Sydney.

On race day I was still aiming to give myself a chance at a sub 3 hour marathon and raced the first half of the race accordingly. After 10-15 minutes of running the heavens opened and the rest of the race was run in torrential rain, this was not the end of the world and we dealt with that as it came. By 30km my poor preparation and over ambitious race goal was starting to bring me undone and the last 10 km of this race was a lonely place. I made it to the finish line in what today is still my worst marathon result. it’s a marathon that I will remember for just how hard the marathon is when the ‘wall’ gets to you and just how humbling this felt at the time.

A long time has passed since my one and only attempt at the Canberra marathon. It’s time for the Canberra marathon to be a focus race again. When I arrive in Canberra, 16 years after my first attempt there my goal will be the same, a sub 3 hour marathon is again the prize that i’ll be after. This time I will be better equipped to achieve it, having done it this year in Seoul I am confident that I can get my body ready to do it again. I am also confident that my race strategy will be better and I’ll give myself a good chance of achieving this goal. Secretly I’d like to go a bit quicker, 2:57 in Seoul was my perfect result there, but maybe I can go a bit quicker than that.

What I’ve learnt in the years since my first Canberra marathon is the importance of pacing your race. Back in 2002 I didn’t have a GPS watch, I had a stopwatch and looked at the time when I passed each kilometre marker and then did a quick mathematical equation to work out each kilometre split.  What running in those time did was teach me to pace my run by perceived effort rather then the watch, it’s something I still do in all races and just use the watch as measuring stick to track my progress.

I’ve also learnt to respect the marathon distance every time you run it. If you go into a marathon and think it’ll be easy because your last race went so well, it’ll kick your arse. Every marathon is a new experience, a new journey where you start from zero and end at 42.2km. In 2002 I expected to run well because I had run well in Sydney six months earlier, I expected it to be easy. It wasn’t.

Looking forward to finishing my year with some enjoyable running before knuckling down at the start of 2018 and getting ready for another crack at the Canberra marathon in April 2018. This time I’ll be ready.

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Three things every runner can learn from Kipchoge’s Berlin marathon

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Most of us can’t imagine running anywhere near as fast as Eliud Kipchoge did in the Berlin marathon last weekend. 2:03:33 was a mere 36 seconds outside the world record averaging 2:56 per/km. An average pace that most of us struggle to be able to run at , let alone hold it for any amount of time.

There is some valuable lessons to be learnt from Kipchoge’s race that every marathoner can take away though.

  1. Consistent splits from 1 – 42Km

41 of Kipchoge’s splits were between 2:51 -3:01 per km. Only kilometre 40 at 3:09 was outside this 10 second parameter meaning his control in being able to run at a consistent pace is amazing. Although he has pace makers setting the pace he understands that to run his best race he will need to run 42 very consistently fast kilometres. Every runner in any distance can learn from this by pacing their race consistently.

Kipchoge doesn’t go too fast early in the race he is patient and disciplined and runs every moment of the race strategically. If you want to run your best on marathon day run consistently from the start to the finish.

2. Marathons get hard near the end.

Even for the greatest marathoner in the world it is evident that the marathon distance shows in the last 10km. Six of his last 10km are slower than his overall average of 2:56 min/km. He is able to work hard and doesn’t lose much time but over the last 10km is where Kipchoge loses touch with the world record.

Anyone whose run a marathon knows how hard the last 10 km can be. What doesn’t happen to Kipchoge is he doesn’t pay in the last 10km for going too fast early in the race and even still it gets very tough.

3. Drafting runners will help

From Breaking 2 to Berlin Kipchoge was three minutes slower. The advantage he was able to use during his breaking 2 attempt in using the arrowhead pacers available cannot be understated. It created a significant advantage that Kipchoge didn’t have in Berlin. When an average runner goes to a large city marathon they should take advantage of the crowd and use them to pace their race. Running within a pack of runners may greatly increase your chances of running your best time as long as the pack is running consistent splits.

Obviously we all don’t have the ability to have a team of pacers taking us through each marathon we enter but using the crowd to your advantage may assist you run a personal best.

We all may not run as fast as Kipchoge, but using the methods of the best may just help you run faster.

 

 

Running without racing.

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Last Sunday’s marathon was the culmination of training towards a goal race and despite the challenges that unfolded during the race I am happy with my overall effort. This race was the culmination of 14 weeks training which is my normal plan for a marathon or longer race.

Last Sunday’s marathon was also likely the culmination of my racing year, with not many races left before the end of the year and certainly very few close to home. This means it’s time to switch gears with my training and enjoy my running with less focussed training towards trying to peak for a race. At times not having a race to train for has been a time when my running has suffered. I have struggled with the lack of focus and specificity and too much ice cream and skipped runs.

These days I have running without racing plans which keep me running regularly and enjoying my running without the pressure and challenge of a race in the not too distance future. This plan starts with continuing to run a similar amount of times per week and using variety in my running to keep focussed.

During October I plan to continue with my three key workouts each week, these are hill repeats, intervals and the long run however each will have far less focus. Hills will likely be similar, intervals shorter with more recovery and the long run shorter and not building time each week. Continuing to focus on these runs will keep my fitness ready for when my next race preparation starts. In addition to these will see some varying terrain and locations to keep my running interesting. to add variety I like using a weighted vest for some short runs, or efforts during runs. Skipping an aerobic run for a weighted vest hike is another option for easy days.

Adding variety can also be done by changing up footwear. As the weather gets warmer I like to use my favourite running location, the beach for some barefoot intervals and aerobic runs. GladSoles Sandals will still be my go to footwear for most of my runs though. And I will use my Carson footwear trail shoes for when I want some variety. These are the best shoes I’ve run in without socks, which is great for the beach and when the weather is hot.

The main focus while I’m running without racing is enjoy my running, add variety that isn’t achieved when training for a race and relax without the pressure of training hard.

Summer in Australia it’s certainly the best time to be outdoors enjoying the place we live. It’s a great time for relaxed running and enjoying the surrounds. I’m looking forward to running without the need for racing for the next few months, and enjoying my running.

 

Beach to Brother Marathon 2017 – Race report

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Beach to Brother Marathon was planned as one of my goal races for this year. My training for this race was good for this race, and I felt ready when I lined up on the start line. I had made a decision almost 12 months ago to run this race in my Gladsoles Trail sandals, when I was feeling unmotivated to run last year I changed back to running in sandals and found an enjoyment to running that I was struggling to find. Since then I’d estimate 80% of my running is in sandals and I felt confident running this race with them.

A week before the race it was evident that Sunday was going to be a hot day, the weather report had predicted 32C/89F and this was going to be unseasonably hot for September in this area. I was concerned by this as all my training for this race had been done in early morning and cool conditions, it had been 6 months since I had done a hot run.

Race morning arrived and the weather was already warm, race began at 7am from Town Beach, Port Macquarie, my goal was to run the first section of coastline to Lighthouse beach conservatively as this is quite hilly. After five minutes of running I found myself in the lead of the race,  this a section of terrain I train regularly and I ran this section at my own pace, walked two of the steeper hill sections. I hadn’t planned to be in the lead of the race but I felt very comfortable with how I was running so I continued to run my own race.

The next section of the race is a beach section from Lighthouse Beach to Lake Cathie to the south, once I started running this beach it was hot. There was a light wind behind but the exposed sunlight made it very hot. I decided to run within myself here and conserve as much energy as possible. There is a soft sand section as you detour off the beach which was tough going before getting back onto the beach. Coffee rock just before Lake Cathie was also a challenging section as the tide was rising. On this beach I was overtaken by the eventual race winner and arrived at half way at Lake Cathie in second place and feeling good.

From Lake Cathie to Bonny Hills along the beach the tide had risen and the soft sand and exposed rocks to run over made for tougher then expected conditions. The heat was really on now making running difficult, I was doing my best to keep hydrated and keep conserving energy. At Bonny Hills surf club I exited the beach, fatigue and pain in my legs had started to set in now. I was told at the aid station the leader had 3 min 50 sec on me now, I wasn’t confident of catching at this stage.

This section includes quite a technical trail around Grants Headland and a nice fire trail before the aid station with 10km to go. Once off Grants Headland I was aware that heat stress was starting to be a factor and my legs were beginning to cramp. On this firetrail I was passed by another runner a local runner Luke and we ran to the aid station at North Haven together. There was a large crowd there waiting for the 10km start and I got some good support from some friends there.

Section from North Have to the base of North Brother mountain is mainly pathways and flat. This section normally would be a comfortable part of the course but my legs were starting to cramp badly along here. I made the decision to walk to stretch my legs and then continue running. This was successful for a while however after 3km of this strategy almost every step my legs cramped when running, walking was difficult. I made the decision to walk till I felt I could run. During this period I was passed by another three runners including friends Cliff and later John. I seriously consider dropping out with 5km to go but couldn’t do it, i needed to finish this one. All in all I walked about 3 km before the base of the mountain and only then i decided to run some of the down hill sections before the hill actually begins.

By the time I hit the North Brother mountain track I was starting to feel better, my walking was quite strong as I began the climb. I passed a number of people in the other distance events on the climb and caught back up with John who had dropped me earlier and we finished together. 2.5km to the top of the mountain was very tough, after 40km of tough coastline the hill at times felt impossible to walk. After 4 hour and 40 min I got to the top of the mountain and  finished this tough event.

Overall I am disappointed that I didn’t have the race I wanted and things go to plan but marathon running isn’t easy and I’m happy I came through and got to the end. The maximum temperature for the day was 39C/102F, hotter than anyone expected and way too hot to run a marathon on this course. The Gladsoles sandals were excellent throughout the race, great on the hard sand and trails. The only issue I faced by running in sandals was after wet feet go through soft sand the sand can build up on the sole of the sandal and this took some time to run off.

I underestimated some of the terrain for this race, in particular the amount of soft sand running and how exiting beaches on soft sand repeatedly saps your legs. The terrain I am familiar with and the most of I expected, I had expected the hill to be a brutal finish to the race and it lived up to expectation.

Beach to Brother Marathon is great event which is sure to grow in coming years. It’s well a organised event and the camaraderie  and support on course is excellent. It’s a tough course, on some of the most spectacular coastline in Australia. Already looking forward to next years race – Might do the half marathon though.

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Is six days without running during a marathon taper a bad thing?

 

 

Time will soon tell if six days without running in the week leading up to a race is a bad thing or not, but so far it doesn’t feel like it play a major role in the marathon I am running on Sunday. The week has been pretty relaxed so far and haven’t really had the race in the front of my thoughts just yet. Have been focussed on trying to get some good sleep and resting my foot, albeit with the normal demands of work, study and family life.

The good news is I haven’t eaten ice cream every night this week as I put my feet up and haven’t put on any weight. Resting has meant I will be very fresh for the race on Sunday but possibly slightly under done. Six days off running hasn’t sapped my confidence, still feel I’ve done the long training beforehand to put me in a good position as the race unfolds.

Six days off running has let my troublesome foot heal, there is now no pain in the foot. This is important for confidence as much as anything. I never really felt like the foot was going to stop me running or hinder the race in any way but decided to play it safe and minimise the risk of going into long race with pain. Marathons a tough enough without having other problems to hinder your race.

Overall I don’t think six days off running will have any effect on my race, it won’t be an excuse if the distance and terrain win the day. Looking forward to having a small run tomorrow morning and testing the foot and sharpening myself up before Sunday.

Weather forecast is for hot weather here on Sunday with a maximum of 33C/90F. This could cause problems for everyone as the race is scheduled just after the end of winter and certainly all of my running for this race has been in cooler weather. Heat also brings the snakes into play on the trails as they love to come out when the heat comes out. No point in worrying about the uncontrollables though.

Looking forward to the challenge on Sunday.

Photos are all from on the course of the Beach to Brother Marathon

Marathon training week 14 – Race week

 

Marathon training this week hasn’t quite gone to plan with my foot ‘injury’ coming at a time when I wanted to put in a couple more quality session before the race next Sunday. Only managing two runs this week, one of which was my interval session on Tuesday which I traded hills for intervals just because I felt like running fast when I woke up. This run went well, I felt strong and fast throughout and put down some solid work. I had planned to run the hills session on Thursday as straight swap but it didn’t eventuate. Friday I ran a 30 min aerobic run to test out the foot and it felt pretty good.

The foot however was sore after my aerobic run and is still sore enough today to give me a small amount of concern. This week I go into the week with no plan of when I will run, I am going to see how the foot feels and if it is still sore later in the week then I may not run until the race itself. At the moment it’s only a small amount of pain but after both my runs last week the pain was quite a bit worse.

Normally on race week I’d like a couple of aerobic runs to keep the legs moving and short interval session to keep myself sharp. This taper will be different and I may be susceptible to an increase in taper tantrums.

If I don’t run until the race I am not terribly concerned, I am happy with the amount of long training I have been able to do during this preparation and whilst I don’t feel as fit any ready as my last marathon in Seoul earlier this year I feel good enough to give my best and push myself.

This week will now be about rest, if the foot doesn’t have any pain I will run later in the week and sharpen myself up a bit. If it does have pain I’ll rest and see what happens on race day.

Either way I will be fresh and ready to go for the race next Sunday.

Marathon training this week hasn’t quite gone to plan this week with my foot ‘injury’ coming at a time when I wanted to put in a couple more quality session before the race next Sunday. Only managing two runs this week. One being an interval session on Tuesday when I traded hills for intervals just because I felt like running fast when I woke up. This run went well, I felt strong and fast throughout and put down some solid work. I had planned to run the hills session on Thursday as straight swap but it didn’t eventuate. Friday I ran a 30 min aerobic run to test out the foot and it felt pretty good.

The foot however was sore after my aerobic run and is still sore enough today to give me a small amount of concern. This week I go into the week with no plan of when I will run, I am going to see how the foot feels and if it is still sore later in the week then I may not run until the race itself. At the moment it’s only a small amount of pain but after both my runs last week the pain was quite a bit worse.

Normally on race week I’d like a couple of aerobic runs to

Marathon training this week hasn’t quite gone to plan with my foot ‘injury’ coming at a time when I wanted to put in a couple more quality session before the race next Sunday. Only managing two runs this week, one of which was my interval session on Tuesday which I traded hills for intervals just because I felt like running fast when I woke up. This run went well, I felt strong and fast throughout and put down some solid work. I had planned to run the hills session on Thursday as straight swap but it didn’t eventuate. Friday I ran a 30 min aerobic run to test out the foot and it felt pretty good.

The foot however was sore after my aerobic run and is still sore enough today to give me a small amount of concern. This week I go into the week with no plan of when I will run, I am going to see how the foot feels and if it is still sore later in the week then I may not run until the race itself. At the moment it’s only a small amount of pain but after both my runs last week the pain was quite a bit worse.

Normally on race week I’d like a couple of aerobic runs to keep the legs moving and short interval session to keep myself sharp. This taper will be different and I may be susceptible to an increase in taper tantrums.

If I don’t run until the race I am not terribly concerned, I am happy with the amount of long training I have been able to do during this preparation and whilst I don’t feel as fit any ready as my last marathon in Seoul earlier this year I feel good enough to give my best and push myself.

This week will now be about rest, if the foot doesn’t have any pain I will run later in the week and sharpen myself up a bit. If it does have pain I’ll rest and see what happens on race day.

Either way I will be fresh and ready to go for the race next Sunday.

keep the legs moving and short interval session to keep myself sharp. This taper will be different and I may be susceptible to an increase in taper tantrums.

If I don’t run until the race I am not terribly concerned, I am happy with the amount of long training I have been able to do during this preparation and whilst I don’t feel as fit any ready as my last marathon in Seoul earlier this year I feel good enough to be able to give my best and push myself.

This week will now be about rest, if the foot doesn’t have any pain I will run later in the week and sharpen myself up a bit. If it does have pain I’ll rest and see what happens on race day.

Either way I will be fresh and ready to go for the race next Sunday.

 

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North Brother Mountain – The finish of Beach to Brother marathon is atop here next week

When your feet don’t play the game.

This week I have been forced to, well chosen to make an alteration to my marathon training due my foot not wanting to play the game. After my run last Sunday I spent the day with my family at the beach, the weather was perfect spring time weather and I spent a few hours playing in the water with my son. Hard to believe you can get injured playing with you family at the beach, but I think I did.

I’ve no idea what happened but by Monday there was pain in the top of my left foot. I didn’t think much of it and thought it would go away, on Tuesday I went for my run and the pain became a little worse afterwards and through the day. It’s not an excruciating pain and won’t stop me running but its enough to make me think I should stop running for a day or two. I decided not to do my aerobic run yesterday with every intention of running this morning when I woke up except the pain is still there and it’s raining. So I didn’t run.

I’ve made the choice to take a couple days off and start my taper early. It certainly won’t stop me running my marathon in less than a fortnights time and I don’t believe the time off running this week will have any effect on my race performance. Just annoying  enough to keep me sidelined for a little bit.