Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Running Sucks

honestly, running sucks.
In the tropical heat of Malaysia, you have to worry about heat rashes, and soaking your shirts through. You want to take a water bottle with you, but you know it’s a hassle to carry it on your run.
During the winter, Oh, what winter?
Then there’s the usual problems of dry heaving, athlete’s foot, eating properly, injuries, race anxiety, speedwork and hill work sessions. Running is literally the punishment of all other sports. 
so, yes. running sucks. 
but you know what sucks even more?
not running. which is why i still run. as much as i hate running, i hate not running a whole lot more.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Hearts of Darkness

Hearts of Darkness
After an evening spent guzzling delicious Thai food at Rama V and drinking a heroic dose of Singa’s that in normal circumstances could have paralysed an elephant i headed out on the first of several trails i plan to run in the next few weeks. 
Taman Tar provides a short but scenic 2.4km loop that is for the most part fairly short but with a side route that offers a steep climb up around 150m in height. So like Marlow in search of Kurtz i headed deep into the Malaysian jungle only to find the path suddenly ends and is impassible due to overgrown plants. I found no village at the end of my journey and no Kurtz and certainly no villages of savages massacring cows in strange rituals although i did come across, what looked like from a distance a person disco dancing at the end of the trail. It turned out to be a local fellow carrying out some form of prayer dance ritual. He looked pretty cool to be honest and if i can move like that when i’m in my sixties i’ll be happy. I imagine people would travel from far and wide and say things like “forsooth dear sir, pray tell us where art thou could find the famous old man who runs and dances” and I would say things like “travel no further child for it is he, i am the man you seek and I shall bewilder and befuddle you with my snake hips but fear not for I am a friendly sort” and then they would say things like “well thank goodness it’s you because we have been travelling for days and days and days and must rest up, dazzle us tomorrow for tonight we take condiments” and ….well you get the idea. Man this hangover is much worse than i first thought. But it would be great if people travelled to come see you dance eh? Anyway, i digress….
The Brooks Cascadias held up well and I really noticed the difference between them and the road running shoes I normally wear on a trail run. The major plus point for me was the ability to handle varying trail terrains such as small gravels, running over wet tree roots and on the steeper parts of the climb the very wet clay like soil. The shoes give a lot of confidence in that each step is going to land solidly without slippage. The drainage on the shoes is also a very positive factor. After plunging through some of the river sections and puddles it’s easy to see why the Brooks Cascadia has been a perennial favourite amongst the trail running community. There’s nothing worse than running around with a couple of things attached to your feet full of water and dubs (Scottish Mud) and having to stop and tip them out. Especially when your feet smell as bad as mine. Imagine a fresh Durian coated in bin juice sprayed with a liberal application of dog fart and your getting close. Maybe a wet dog fart would push you nearer to an accurate description.
Unfortunately i only managed one loop as my body purged pure Singa from each and every pore. So a very short but steep run, a very happy pair of feet and a REALLY sore head.
If you are going to go for a run/walk/hike around Taman Tar, things to note -
Some very steep sections to access the reservoir area. I wouldn’t want to be caught there in a shower. Stories of a naked man flasher aplenty in the local press so take a camera and a machete don’t go alone. Lots of bugs and beasts so plenty of repellant.
imageSo i’ll end my Apocalypse Now themed post with the Mantra “Never get out of the Brooks, absolutely goddam right, unless your going all the way.”
And here’s a video of Marlon Brando swallowing a bug.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

And so it begins….

Several months ago I sent an e-mail off to the lovely people at Brooks Running volunteering myself as a blog reviewer and now that the shoes have arrived in Kuala Lumpur I find myself finally having to review and test them over the next few weeks.That’s the easy part. The hard part has been trying to find a platform to say what needs to be said and after much wrangling I have settled on tumblr. I didn’t realise how big the internet was and had thought there would be someway to speak to my computer and tell it what I thought of the shoes and it would then dispatch a robot out to take some artful shots. The robot would then return, upload it all to the internet and then shoot off to make me a lovely cup of tea. I would only have to sip gently on the tea whilst casting a creative eye over the finished product and then nip off to watch Homeland. The internet is BIG man, it’s bigger than YOU and It’s bigger than ME. 
I sit here now unwashed for three days with a keyboard covered in toast crumbs and kids sweets but at last settled on a design and format of which I hope you not only find soothing to the minds eye but also so absolutely sweetshop that you will treasure the experience like an island. Yes. 
Anyway, enough about me and more about the Brooks Cascadia 8 trail running shoes. 
I’ve eased my self into wearing these shoes after previous ITBS issues through either hill running or wearing shoes until they have worn right down to the skin of my feet so a sprightly 5km on the roads at the weekend followed by Monday night hill sessions seemed apt enough to get me started. Although made for trail running, I found the Cascadia 8 to be remarkably light and responsive underfoot on the road. The hill sessions at Lake Gardens usually involve running up and down short and sometimes treacherously slippery pathways but the shoes provide a lot of comfort due to the “BioMoGo DNA which is used to create a super cohesive transition and has deluxe-ified the Segmented Crash Pad”. Now, I’m not a huge fan of liberally applying medical terms and buzz word bingo to describe the sole of a shoe so it’s easier just to describe it as a pretty comfy landing be it on tarmac or gravel. I’ve yet to get the shoes out on a trail but plan to do so this weekend to see how they hold up on mud and also how easily they disperse puddle water/stream water/bin juice. 
Aesthetically, the shoes are not too bad although I did receive some mild abuse in the gym regarding their size. That could be down to them being extremely shiny and new. That said, they diverted attention away from my running shorts which seem to have developed mysteriously permanent creases down the front. The creases don’t make me run faster but I do tend to find people using me as a slipstream. Personally I like my running shoes to be as inconspicuous as possible so the dark uppers with minimal orange are right up my street. I normally wear Newton Motions which in the first few weeks of wearing found me being chased down the road by street urchins haranguing me as if I was wearing a bright orange crimpolene safari suit.
I have fairly flat feet/low arches so the shoes offer really good support but a lot more drop than I’m typically used to. The ‘Drop’ has nothing to do with The Beastie Boys  which is actually ‘MMMM…..Drop!” but refers to the difference in height between your forefoot and your heel. Certain schools of thought propose that if you are going to hit the ground running and hit it with your heel then best to do it with a big wedge of cushioning. The Cascadia 8 has ample cushioning for any heel strikers out there and I’m looking forward to trying them out on the unevenness of a trail run to see how they feel.
So to summarise, as far as road running and hill work are concerned the Cascadia 8 passed with flying colours. Very comfy, very responsive and they work well on very slippery surfaces. I’ll blog again after taking them out on the trail.