Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Wednesday 21 January 2015

v dot, foot strike, aerobic function, Mallorca & Danish politics/fashion


Pillow talk between SR and I last night involved comparing our v dots. V dot is a term I ran across while doing background research for the paper with Phil Maffetone, but I had not seen the table or understood the concept until Cindee recommended "Daniels' Running Formula" for our book club.

Getting popular books in English in Denmark is no easy task, but I was lucky enough to get it delivered from a library in Copenhagen to the Næstved library.

I'm not sure if you can read this, but it says Jack is "the world's best running coach". Well, I do say. And he is also totally open to taking credit for Janet Cherobon-Bowcom's success, who he started coaching just a few months before her American 25km record (pictured).
World's best running coach or not, Vdot is a cool concept. It is your effective VO2 max for running races or your aerobic profile. This Vdot makes a lot more sense for runners than VO2 max because it takes running economy into account as well. If, for example, you have a high VO2 max but, due to a neurologic condition, for example, have trouble moving one of your legs, your Vdot will be lower. So Vdot can be used to predict race times and vdot be determined from your race times as well. Can you find your Vdot? (sorry if you are faster than this)

based on my PR's, my Vdot is somewhere around or just above 53
Okay, so good, this number can be used for both training and predicting race times. I guess I will learn more about that as a read the book.

Aerobic function

It's been a number of months now since I started training with the maximum aerobic function (MAF) philosophy, which fit really well with my off season from running. I allowed myself to get my pulse up as high as I wanted with indoor/outdoor cycling, but never above 150 during running training. And most of my runs had an average heart rate of 144. 

My experience with the MAF has been very unexpected. All along, I watched my pace at a heart rate of 144 get faster and faster. The last run I did with SR, where I attempted to maintain an average heart rate of 144, he was subjected to watching me throw up along the road because I find this pace, especially in cold weather, extremely challenging. By the end doing all of my runs at a 4:30 min/km pace was not at all the easy experience I heard people talking about who had trained with the Maffetone method. My heart rate was low but it felt really hard. Phil suggested my neuromuscular system has not been developed properly. 

The experience that really confused and surprised me was the cross country race we ran a couple of weeks ago. I felt I gave it at least a 95% effort. There were no women near me, so it was more relaxed than most races, but still, despite a 5k warmup on the trails, I was not able to get my heart rate over 145 the first 4km of the race! Essentially, it seemed my pace at at 145 heart rate had gotten faster, but I no longer had the same ability to get my heart rate up!!

Freaky. At which point, Phil Maffetone said to me it was time for me to start running intervals again. :-)

And SR said "who cares what your heart rate is, what matters is how fast you can run"

And I thought what mattered was how good of a mom and wife I was.

Foot strike

It's a tough subject for me. I was worried when I was reading Romanov's book about the pose running method that I would be that one person on earth who actually landed on their heel while running in place. I didn't land on my heel in that one circumstance, but still, landing on my forefoot has always felt wrong to me. 

I have gotten far enough in Jack Tupper Daniels' book to read this golden sentence:

Runners "should experiment with different foot strike techniques and use the one that is the most comfortable,  the least-fatiguing and that allows for a light and quick turnover rate of about 180 steps per minute"

I agree! And I have gotten my cadence up to this on nearly all of my runs now, after years of work.

And there is more:

"A big advantage of rear or mid foot landing is that it reduces the stress placed on the calf muscles and shifts the landing stress more to the larger thigh muscles". Mark Kasmer and Marty Hoffman also found in a study I helped with at Western States two years ago that one marker for muscle stress (CPK) was more highly elevated among forefoot and midfoot strikers than rearfoot strikers. 

Tramuntana Mountains

I am full of topics to discuss today! I am exceedingly energized this week since we just got back from sunny Mallorca. It was just SR and me. SR's parents watched the kids from Thursday through Sunday night and we had a blast. We cycled just under 200 km in the mountains over the two days and then went for a nice run along the beach of Palma the last morning. Being the obsessive HR monitor girl now, I noted my heart rate never got above 145 (at least while cycling). And I can only conclude that while having a low heart rate is a sign of good aerobic health, the ability to get your heart rate up is a sign of strength, energy and good technique. 

For the first time ever, I rode a bike that fit me. I requested an extra small frame for a 5'0" woman and I am 5'6". I couldn't help thinking back to my one triathlon over the summer before I got plantar fasciitis, where I was vying for a podium spot with a pro and got disqualified. It's tempting to enter that tri world for real, then again it is so commercialized and so complicated. Running is so pure. Life should be simple.

One of the many great climbs of the Tramuntana (north Mediterranean wind) mountains.

I had major circulation problems due to the colder temps on the north sides of the mountains. 

Port de Sóller low carb, high fat salad with veggies and roasted local cheeses. I still don't eat meat besides fish so the chicken had to go. So yeah, who needs 32Gi (all carbs) when you can eat classic Mallorcan cuisine?!

My helmet and buff around my wrist got in the way of my usual elegance. 
Really great climb from Port de Sóller to Puíg (pronounced pooeedje in their dialect of Catalán) Major. You can easily speak Castilian with the Mallorcans; no problemo.
Two days after we returned, I told SR I felt like going for a a serious run, so I ran a half marathon alone, on the treadmill at 0.5% incline) in 1:44. I tried to hold my heart rate at 144 at the beginning, but the longer I went the higher my heart rate crept. It felt great and I ran the last 1km in 4 minutes. I LOVE RUNNING!

So what is next? (California?)

We are frustrated. SR has not gotten a license to practice medicine in California yet. We were supposed to move there in March to get ready for me to start residency. In this residency position I will work 60-80 hours a week and be paid minimum wage to become a specialist in PM&R. We can't figure out how this will work if SR doesn't get a job to pay our rent, pay for food, etc. I have been offered to switch residency positions, but I am not allowed to mentions/discuss the switch with my current program in Irvine, CA, until I have completed 45 days of residency. The American medical education system has a monopoly over all med school graduates (there is no other way to practice medicine in the United States) and there are no unions. We're taking one day at time, seeing what happens and what will work out. This PM&R education is not available in Denmark and I was very fortunate to get a spot - in sunny California - but then again, can I handle two kids and a 60+ hour work week while SR also works full time, potentially in another state?

Danish politics

Here is Nikita Klæstrup, a politician from the Danish conservative party. There has been a lot of debate about her attire and I have to say, I am not a fan. It is a shame that she is using her body (or feels like she has to?) to get attention - and giving young girls the message that wearing a dress like this (or having big boobs??) will gain you respect. 

I have a lot more respect for the Danish Prime Minster, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and her wardrobe choice. It is a lot easier to respect going to Sierra Leone to meet health care workers who are still fighting Ebola. 

I think I just wrote an entire blog post. Time to go to gymnastics with Christian.

One more thing. Thanks Robyn. If you are an elite runner and have been pregnant in the last 5 years AND have run one of these qualifying times (below), you might want to consider being a part of this study.

1,500m: 4:29.42
3,000m steeplechase: 10:48.89
5,000m: 16:38.13
10,000m: 35:06.22
half-marathon: 1:17:08
marathon: 2:46:00

Running song of the day:

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Handless clocks

Today I took a picture in the fitness center with handless clocks. I wanted to document this moment of happiness and stability in our lives. In 2 months, we don't even know which country we are going to be living in. It's a long story. I tried to write about it, but couldn't.

I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is." -Kurt Vonnegut

Good one Kurt.

It's been a long time since I wrote last. Guess what? Being a mom of two and working a full time job is not conducive to blogging! And I really miss it. (okay, now, back after just giving Christian a back rub-- he is asleep now)

So, this blog needs some help! Let's face it: Blogger is so 2007! So I made something new today. It will be my future business/blog and it is here:

(more details to come!!)

Various updates...

LCHF diet

I have now been on this 30-40% carb, no refined sugars, highER fat diet for a year and I have had a great experience. Of course it is not a diet, but a lifestyle. I have talked about the endurance sports and fat burning advantages, but maybe not as much about weigth control. I weighed in a 50kg the last time I checked. I weigh myself about once a month.This is the lowest I have been in Denmark. I have found it easy to lose/maintain my weight on this diet, compared to well a diet high in chocolate and oatmeal... even during the time I was injured with PF and not running. I'm not telling you what will work for you, but the number of randomized control trials showing low carb superior for weight loss is at least 18. And this systematic review found low carb diets to improve all major cardiovascular risk factors. But you could be like Steve Q and claim to have eaten "nothing but pasta" for the last year and still lose weight :-). Yes, individual experiences may vary!

MAF training

I haven't run any intervals or tempos since July, so SR was rather surprised to see at the last two races I ran in Næstved that I seem to be in better shape than last year. I honestly wasn't sure training at a pulse of 144-145 was going "work", but I have watched my weekly MAF test speed on the track creep down to 4:26min/km at an average heart rate of 144. Best of all is I'm not injured. It really is counterintuitive that by backing off, you can speed up. (PS Phil Maffetone and I are almost done with our article and my article about the pregnant marathon is being published in his latest book :-)!!). Plus my coach Ole has been very good at encouraging me not to race for months while my PF was recovering-- and he seemed excited about the MAF experiment as well.

Finish line just ahead after DGI cross country race in Fruens Plantage. Photo by SR.


I was thrilled to get permanent residency here in November (as many of you know I had to have full time employment here for 5 years straight + an apartment of a certain size, a 60.000 kr. downpayment and no debt to get permanent residency). In December, I took the test for Danish citizenship and passed. A few days later, Dorte Dahl asked me to be on the Danish trail ultra team at worlds in Annency in May. I said yes, only to have to say-- we'll see how long it takes. Current estimate is I may become Danish in 14-16 months...


SR and I are leaving tomorrow for a 4 day trip to Mallorca for his 40th birthday. I have to get ready and get to bed!

Top 10 Running Songs of 2014
Future Islands - "Seasons (Waiting On You)"
Spoon- Do You? (this is actually a lot better for cycling!)
Cold War Kids- First
Haim – if I could change your mind
Stromae-Tous les Memes
Gabriel Rios – Gold(Thomas Jack Remix)
Withered Hand-Horseshow
Alt-J-Every Other Freckle
Medina -Jalousi