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Recce Run – Rapid Ascent Margaret River 80km Ultra

When I first heard that Margaret River was going to be hosting a 80km Ultra marathon race my initial thought process went like this- What a location, It’s a Rapid Ascent race so the vibe will be awesome, all my friends will be there, If i miss out it is high likely i’ll go into a FOMO induced coma… I need to be there.

 

 

Rapid Ascent put on some amazing events. Their Victorian trail series wrapped up last Friday at the Studley Park night trail race. They are no stranger to hosting scenic and challenging Ultra Marathons. The Victorian Surf Coast Century is one of their flagship events. Their races are always vibrant, warm and welcoming with a strong community feel. It’s a value which the Rapid Ascent team has managed to uphold no matter how large or small their events are.

I was heading over to WA to spend some time with my 6 year old son Dagon, so it was the perfect opportunity to do a few recce (reconnaissance) runs and scope out the course and township. The logistics of running large portions of the course with a 6 year old would no doubt prove challenging, so I opted for a series of shorter runs in a few different locations, to get a varied taste of the route and experience. We booked an airbnb bush chalet just out of town ($130 a night), packed the car and headed down. It was about a 3 hour easy highway drive south from Perth city with a couple of leg stretches throw in. I needed to distance myself from the unrelenting time and distance based questioning coming from the seasoned navigator and explorer Captain Cook in the back seat.  “How far to go?, How many minutes?, How many kilometres? How many bags of wheat and beans (lollies) do we require to feed a crew of 14 (just me) for 280 days (3 hours) at sea (in the car)? etc…..

Margaret River and surrounds has some of the most magnificent natural beauty in Australia. The people of the area share common environmental values of sustainability, respect and conservation. This makes for some incredibly untouched natural surroundings including world class white sand surf beaches, deep and dark winding limestone caves, raw, rocky and rugged coastlines, thick natural bush lands, lush Karri tree forests and with all the local furry, scaley and spikey inhabitants to go with it. It’s the perfect setting for a “back to grass roots” ultra marathon “experience”. I say experience because the fun isn’t just restricted to the race. There are countless wineries, breweries and local produce outlets to sample, and by sample I mean gorge. What better excuse than an ultra marathon to eat and drink pre and post race?

And for the kids the Chocolate factory, Caving and the Berry farm were big hits with Dagon, with lots of tasting, testing, decision making and playing in the surrounding parklands. In regards to activities, adventure running is the new kid on the block here, with surfing, kite surfing, fishing, diving and mountain biking all headlining activities for the area.

We prepared for our first run and packed large at our chalet, with our Salomon hydration vest, filled with water chest bottles, Atone bars for fuel and snacks, first aid kit, snake bandage, extra phone battery, jackets, Victorian Ultra Runners Thir and head torch. Although not entirely needed it was great for Dagon to run through all the safety gear and be involved with what is needed when we go adventuring. It turned out he was also keen to wear the vest which made for some great running for me having a mule, and some spectacular stacks for him (no harm, just purely frustration).

We headed out to Margaret River main break and river mouth for our first run. Here you’ll find one of the world’s most famous surf breaks (a common theme between Rapid Ascent races – Bells Beach on the Surf Coast Century) with the Margaret River Pro a fixture on the Pro Surfing World Tour. For such a popular location the area has done an outstanding job of minimising the impact of the human traffic on the environment. This section of the race is on the The Cape to Cape track. The Cape to Cape Walk Track runs for 135 kilometres along the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge, between the lighthouses of Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin in the far south west of Western Australia.  It features spectacular coastal and forest scenery, a fascinating geology of cliffs, caves, headlands and rock formations and an ever-changing display of vegetation and wildflowers.

At Margaret river, the track comes down the beach dunes to the north, across the river mouth and along the footpath directly past Margaret River main break before vanishing back into the coastline bush land. It takes in unobstructed views of the small coastal township of Prevelley, the surf break and the parallel rocky coastline. We arrived at the trail and parked at main break (surfers point) carpark before heading down along the trail towards the river mouth, where we ran the beach sections and played on the rocks as the sunset over the ocean. When you get down on the beach at the river mouth section of the trail you really get a feel for the power and size of the swell and waves. They roll in heavy and hard over the rocks, battering the coast, creating a constant roar. It’s another element that adds to mother natures sensory overload on this course.  Don’t be scared to drop the pace, suck in a few deep breaths and take in your backdrop. It’s a bucket lister.

The following day we headed back out to Prevelley. We jumped back on the trail at the boat ramp. Here the race trail actually runs through the al fresco area of the White Elephant Cafe overlooking the surf breaks. If you are craving a soy latte mid race (as you do) this would definitely be a race highlight. The mod-cons are short lived and it’s back into mother natures backyard heading off into the rugged, sandy trails of the Margaret River headlands. The sections of beach and trails offer a nice diversity, and you can find yourself running sideways staring out at the mesmerising waves and sea spray. But be warned, the sharp, windswept, limestone rocks camouflage well and having your eyes on the trails is a must to keep upright.

The sandy coastal undulations aren’t big enough to break your stride but it’s the kind of course that can sneak up on you. The accumulation of rises, troughs and sand need to be accounted for. It would be easy to become distracted by your surroundings and forget about your race endurance strategy. It’s becoming apparent that sticking to a plan and course knowledge are going to be 2 valuable assets to go into this race with. It’s not the type of course you wan’t to go out too hard on because you may never get a chance to “coast” and recover. Getting into a conservative rhythm here is going to a difficult task, and sometimes stopping and starting will be a must to take in the surrounding beauty. If you are planning on scoring any PB’s here good luck, as you may be better setting your KPIs on scoring a selection of classic red wines, a block of sea salt infused milk chocolate and a wheel of Margaret River Port Cheddar cheese.

Our next stop was the Boranup Forest section of the race. The trail is buried within the tall, thick, ghostly Karri trees. It feels as if the towering karri sentinels are looking down at you with arms crossed saying “what are you doing here little people?”. The trail sections we ran here flowed really well. They are hard packed, tight, low traffic, single trail with a few easy tree and log obstacles. Dagon surprised me with the speed which he could dart through this single trail. The trail is cool and shaded by the giant leafy onlookers so you can crank up the tempo without to much energy input. This was our favourite section of the course. It was everything that trail running was about and we were totally engulfed by the trail and surrounding forest. We stopped and walked to take it all in chatting about which trail to take, we jumped logs and took photos, we stood in silence listening to the sounds of the forest and we talked about how to navigate our way back. It was a true adventure and we weren’t in any hurry to end it. This section is close to the race start at Hamelin Bay, which means you’ll hit it with fresh legs and happy thoughts.

Hamelin Bay was our final destination. We parked at the boat ramp and headed straight to the beach. In the late 1800s Hamelin Bay beach was the location of a jetty, established to service the local timber milling operations. One of the timber railways extended onto the Hamelin Bay Jetty, which was built in 1882 and extended in 1898. The local friendly sting rays can be found weaving around what’s left of the pile ons in the knee high deep shoreline. We followed the coastal track south along the point towards Hamelin island just before it drops down along the beach. The start line is no compromise on views and sets a high standard of what lies ahead to the north. The protected waters and long sweeping views of the bays in either direction really deliver that immersive feeling of adventure and exploration. Even without the race atmosphere, the curiosity constantly tugs at you to follow the trail further and further. But that would ruin all the surprises. I’m really looking forward to this race. It’s going to be tough, challenging and strategic. But most of all it’s going to be an experience. The team at Rapid Ascent have done a cracking job picking the location and course. Oh and did I mention it finishes at a brewery? Cheers and bring on race day!!!!!!

more info here … Margaret River 80km Ultra Marathon

Chris W

Ezyrunner Shoe Review – New Balance Fresh Foam Gobi

 @ezyrunner

I am a casual runner who owns tons of different pairs of runners. I also happen to have a penchant for writing and acting like I can give advice.

The culmination of all of these qualities is this blog where I write in depth reviews for older models of shoes. Don’t be fooled though, just because I am reviewing older models it doesn’t mean they are useless or worse than their current models. In fact if anything most of the shoes reviewed on this site are still available for bargain basement prices. So read on kind reader and learn about shoes and all of the tech that go into them.

Oasis in the trail desert: New Balance Fresh Foam Gobi

I’m always a little sceptical when a running company releases a trail going version of their road shoes, especially your bigger ones like Nike or Adidas. It might be because they have so many different models of shoes on the go at once, or just general lack of thoughtfulness but they usually end up being shitty. The upper wears out, your foot slips around in them or perhaps it just feels like exactly what it is: a road shoe with a super aggressive outer sole slapped on the bottom. There’s a reason why companies such as your Inov-8’s and Salomon’s are so big in the trail running world; they design their shoes from the ground up as trail running shoes ratherthan creating them as an afterthought.

Out of all of your big ‘mainstream’ running companies one that has stood out to me as the most as a trail friendly company is New Balance. When you look at their current models on offer they actually have a pretty decent number of trail focused shoes as compared to Nike or Adidas with a few of their models being purpose made as well. However, a fair chunk of New Balances trail offerings are retro fitted versions of their road going shoes. I had this in mind when I was staring down a pair of New Balance Fresh Foam Gobi’s on the shoe rack at New Balances DFO store. But then I looked at the price tag ($80) and decided fuck it lets have a go.

So what is the Fresh Foam Gobi? It is the trail going version of the Fresh FoamZante, which is one of New Balances more popular models. Much like its road going brethren the Gobi is a lightweight, neutral trail shoe with a 6mm offset in the Fresh Foam midsole. Now I will admit that I have a mixed opinion on the Zante but not with the Gobi, this is a hidden gem of a trail shoe for many reasons I’m about to outline bellow, so buckle up buckaroo we’re going to get into the nitty gritty of this thing.

The Upper:

If there is anything New Balance knows, it’s how to make an upper. Out of all of the shoes I’ve worn New Balance shoes consistently have some of the best uppers going around and the Gobi is no exception. Being based on the Zante the Gobi’s upper has a very lightweight minimalist feel. The majority of the upper is made out of a more porous and hardier mesh than what you find on the road going Zante. Over the middle of the forefoot splaying up to heel this is covered by an extra layer of thicker mesh which from what I can tell is used to help protect the top of the outsole from the inevitable sharp rocks or wayward sticks that your average trail runner might run into. Capping off the outsides of the upper on the toe of the shoe is some rubber panelling to once again protect the outside of the foot.

The inside of the shoe acts like a sheath with a seamless inner sleeve which, admittedly, is made out of a lighter but coarser material than the road going Zante. This sleeve then welds into the re-enforced heel which is now covered in neoprene instead of the softer plusher mesh then you get from the Zante. This is all topped off by a rougher sturdier tongue laced down by coarse flat laces with high-vis strips run through them.

So while this may sound like they just made a nasty feeling version of the Zante this is far from the end result. The lighter weight material and the extra re-enforcing around the upper does detract from the plushness but not in a badway. This is a trail shoe, and trail shoes should feel hardier than their road going brethren.

 

The upper fit is absolutely on point as well. I find that trail shoes can run very narrow or incredibly shallow in order to secure your foot for the coveted feeling of security whilst running over the trails. While the extra re-enforcing in the Gobi’s upper certainly does make for a much more secure fit than the Zante you never feel like the shoe is constricting natural foot movement and splaying in any way. This sometimes isn’t the case with more serious trail shoes.

Overall the upper of the Gobi is a great blend of plushness re-enforced with just the right amount of ruggedness in order to create a very easy wearing shoe. For every day trail running this is probably one of the best uppers going around. Just note that the porous upper breathes and lets water through very nicely.

The Midsole:

Imma put it out there; I’m not the biggest fan of Fresh Foam. I feel like it’s the sort of thing where NewBalance put a lot of time and effort into creating Fresh Foam and marketing it as the best thing since sliced bread. Then Adidas released Boost, which delivers everything Fresh Foam promises and more, causing New Balance to sigh a collective “Fuck”. There’s nothing wrong with Fresh Foam but it’s just an okay midsole material unless some actual thought is put into its use. An example of this is the Zante v2 which had this weird mixture of being firm but not too firm and ended up honestly feeling kind of shitty.

The Gobi, thankfully, doesn’t suffer from this affliction as New Balance has ramped up the firmness on the Fresh Foam in order to give it a very consistent feel. Underfoot the Gobi does feel firm but with the surplus of foam underfoot there is no lack of cushioning. This gives you a shoe that feels good at pace but also has enough to it that you could quite easily kill a 25KM trail run run in them without complaint. Another bonus of the firmer midsole/innersole combo is that you get a good sense of ground feel from the shoe which is important for trail runners (although admittedly some more than others).

Another tick in the Gobi’s box is the 6mm drop that comes over very nicely from the road going Zante. The shoe itself feels practically flat when running except for the aggressive toe off which you can thank the Zante’s sole geometry for. Either way the 6mm drop is a particularly good sweet spot for those of us who land on their heel, but it doesn’t get in the way at all when you forefoot strike like myself. However do know that the Gobi with its 6mm drop is not going to be a supportive shoe so don’t buy this shoe if that’s what you’re looking for.

Overall I think the Gobi does a good job of finding that mixture of cushioning with firmness that some trail shoes struggle to find. A lot of other brands just use straight up solid rubber and believe that you’re going to be spending your days running on nothing but soft ground or highly technical trails where responsiveness is key. On the other hand the Gobi hit’s that sweet spot of being useable on pretty straight forward trail while still having enough firmness under foot to hit some technical stuff should the need arise. Keep in mind though if you are going to be hitting nothing but technical trails then the Gobi is maybe not the choicest shoe you can go after.

The Outsole:

The Outsole on the Gobi once again is very much a trailised(?) version of the Zante Outsole which, was as far as road shoes go not an aggressively treaded shoe in the first place. First thing you will notice about the Gobi’s outsole is that the tread itself isn’t overly aggressive. The lugs or pods that cover the bottom of the shoe don’t actually run that deep into the sole, you get maybe about 2-3mm deep if that. Upon closer inspection you begin to notice the makings of a well thought out Outsole though as you realise that the pods themselves are arranged facing from the heel down to aid in downhill grip and in the forefoot the pods are aimed backwards to promote grip for your forefoot. On top of the pods themselves the rubber is grained in order to give you an iota more of grip. While not the most impressive outsole set up it is certainly well thought out, especially for what is a trail going version of a road shoe. Another bonus of the low profile pods is that on harder trail the ride is smooth.

As for the rubber used on the outsole itself the Gobi steps away from the sticky compound of the Zante and heads into lightweight harder compound rubber. Once again it sits in that good midpoint of not having a super sticky rubber underneath it that just wears away in a second for the sake of traction but at the same time it’s not as hard as a Vibram outsole, in which the super hard compound can struggle for grip on smooth surfaces (ala rock).

As far as outsoles go the Gobi hits that butter zone of being something that is useful in most situations. If you’re running on fire trail and even need a cover a couple of KM’s on asphalt to get to the nearest trail then the Gobi has the perfect Outsole for you. That being said there’s enough meat there that you can hit something a little more technical or maybe have a little more confidence in that scary downhill then you otherwise should. Just know that once you start getting into the slippery stuff that’s a little more unpredictable or sloppy then you’d be aiming for something with deeper lugs and a more aggressive tread. That being said for the majority of trails the Gobi does a fine job in the outsole department.

The Sum of the Parts:

So when you wrap up all of these individual aspects of the shoe what you end up with is something that is a bit of a rarity these days; a well thought out trail going version of a road shoe. I know it sounds crazy, but true to their word New Balance has created a shoe takes a fairly decent running shoe and somehow transposes that into the trail world to make a fantastic every day trail shoe.

That’s what the Gobi is though; an ‘Everyday’ trail shoe meaning that they will take you off the beaten track but maybe not as far as other trail shoes will. So the second the trail begins to get muddy, slippery or wet you’ll be wanting to grab another pair of sturdier better studded trail cleats. However, I think that is the beauty of the Gobi as far as trail shoes go. It’s an easy going shoe, it fits like a road shoe, it has as much padding as a road shoe, and it breathes like a road shoe. The fact that this is a light trail shoe made by a predominantly road based company is this shoes saviour because it still has the creature comforts that you want. On the other hand I’ve seen it time and time again where a trail company will try to make a light trail shoe with a super narrow fit, retardedly complicated lacing system, or just a crappy Midsole material.

The long short of it is that for what this shoe has been designed for it is an absolute pearler of a product. If you want a trail shoe in your life that is a little less serious or can carry you 5km down the road to the next trail then the FreshFoam Gobi is the shoe for you.

What’s the new one like?

Well Gobi v2 has just been released very very recently so there isn’t any real feedback out there yet for the shoe and what it can do. However I will have a stab at telling you what it should be like from what I can see and what it draws on from the Zante v3 on which it is now based. The Gobi v2 has a much more streamlined upper with a lot less fused plastic running all over it like the Gobi currently does which might affect the toughness of the upper and the security of its fit. As for the midsole it will be changing to the new version of FreshFoam which moves from hexagons to squares meaning that the ride will get firmer once again. Finally as far as the midsole goes there seems to be less pods but hopefully the ones on might be a little more aggressive to make up for it. Overall it looks like a cruising update rather than a complete remake of the shoe as tends to happen from time to time. The bonus of this is that the Gobi v1 will get cheaper so it will be an even better bargain.

@ezyrunner

 

Is missing your goals making you a better runner?

After a weekend of very active runners with mixed personal results, we asked the #Getitdone Club companions for their thought’s on not achieving personal running goals;

Chris Wr, Nokkon Ambassador– Contrary to what instagram suggests, It happens every single day to almost everyone.

Is it unrealistic to think we will hit our goals every time? and if we do, does that mean our training is working or are goals aren’t ambitious enough? Is missing goals an important part of our growth? Ask little athletics about their sport retention rate when the late bloomers and hard trainers catch up to the early developers. What do you think happens to those previous champions when reaching their goal of outright winning are now not met?
One of my favourite lines for this type of thinking is from the fast and furious. When Paul Walker loses his street race and car to vin diesel. Vin diesel says something like to him like “what are you smiling about you just lost” and Paul Walker replied “I almost had you”. How can this relate to our missed goals race/training session?

 

Here is something to think about after you have had some time to relax and unwind after not achieving a goal.
-Did you try your best to achieve your goal or did you try to fail?
-Was your goal realistic considering your preparation, available support, focus and quality of opposition?
-Was the outcome within or outside of your control?
-Is the outcome now within or outside of your control?
-Are there lessons you can extract from the experience that might help you now or in the future?
-How best can you act on those lessons?

and remember sustainable running is a journey of constant growth not a destination.”

Cryst T– “As a beginner runner, it does feel like my goals are met very quickly as I am going through my running program. From being able to learn to properly breath while running, to running 5km without struggling too much. Personally for me, sometimes a goal isn’t always about how far I have run for the day, it’s when it’s cold and dark outside and warm under the doona and everything screams stay in bed but I chose to get up anyway to exercise.”

Maegan K– “In 2015, I signed up for the Anzac Day Challenge in Sydney. It would be my first 100km (though not my first ultra). I was nervous and excited, all in one. Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas and the point to point 100km trail event, became a 155 laps around a showground. Mentally I wasn’t prepared for this and although I completed the 100km, it took a really long time and I was a bit of a mess. At some point over the next few weeks recovery, I got the ‘amazing’ idea in my head that I wasn’t going to let all this training go to waste and I had to do a trail ultra asap! Well, The North Face 100 was about 3 weeks away, I found an entry and signed up. I was warned not to, but hey, I knew better! Race day comes, tummy filled with butterflies and off I went. The first 1/3 went ok, started lagging in the middle and by the time I reached the QV hospital (77kms), I was done. Cold, over-hydrated and pretty broken. I had my first DNF 🙁 Which when I reflected in the weeks after, honestly I was not surprised. There hadn’t been much I had done right for that event. Reflecting on my DNF, I found a nutritionist who helped me work out a nutrition plan and worked on my training. Come September, I had entered the Surf Coast Century. Everything went to plan, food, water, making the 16hr cut-off. In hindsight, my DNF at TNF100 was probably the best thing to happen to my ultra running. PS: I went back for the UTA100 (formerly TNF) the following year and had one of my best runs (even though it was 6 weeks post a badly rolled ankle)! My smile grew bigger at every checkpoint and I got that bronze buckle!

Michelle E– “I have learned so much from others being open about the times they haven’t met goals, and have always valued that honesty. It has also made me feel more comfortable to discuss and therefore learn from my own struggles, knowing others struggle at times too”

Chris Wh, Run coach- “Really important topic for sure. As a coach I find it really powerful to admit to screwing up and also pass on the lessons from when I screwed up. Often we learn best from the stories of others.”

Shaun M, nokkon ambassador– “It’s important we reach and set ourselves goals, from previous failures or mental blocks.
Which then makes it all the more sweeter when we do”

Belinda P– “Its only failing if you don’t learn from it. It Makes me work harder and try again (sometimes many, many times)! Goes for life too, not just sport! #successfulfailures

Paul W, nokkon ambassadaor– I Have Failed: In my athletic career, let alone real life, I have probably failed to reach more goals than I have ever achieved. Over the years my training diaries are littered with goals, stuff I wanted to do, that for one reason or another, never happened. I wanted to go faster, go longer, do this race or that. All manner of goals. In just these last days I didn’t meet the goal time I set for a race or my distance goal for the week. But these little failures steel my resolve to chase bigger and harder goals. I continue to learn and grow from these experiences and that makes them worthwhile. And most importantly, I am not a failure because I didn’t achieve these things, but a winner because I had the courage to set out in pursuit of them! To everyone chasing a big audacious goal right now – go for it!! You are already a champion!”

Nathan F, Run Coach– “a) this is a can of worms that relates to all areas of life, not just training;
b) anything containing a Vin Diesel quote is worthy of a blog post.”

If you would like to check out the full thread join the #Getitdone Club facebook group here, have a read and please share your thoughts and experiences.

 

Nokkon Ambassador Paul Wilson

Paul Wilson is one amazing character. His accomplishments in endurance sports reads a longer list than most will have in a life time. He always has time for others, especially those experiencing difficulties and stresses in and out of training. Those around him would be well aware of the positive health influence Paul has. Have a read below to meet our latest addition to our ambassador team and we look forward to being involved with Paul and helping him spread #thenokkoneffect.

Nokkon: What is your lifestyle like?

Paul: I’d describe my lifestyle as a ‘relaxed family man.’ I try to get a reasonable balance between work and home. Our weekends aren’t super scheduled, we just take things as they come! Which is me really – I just take things as they come!

Nokkon: What got you interested in health/wellbeing?

Paul: After I’d been out of school for a year I decided I wanted to get active and do a triathlon. Which was funny as I couldn’t swim, hadn’t ridden a bike for ten years and had never run. But there I was and off I went. And I haven’t stopped since!

Nokkon: What benefits have you found in your active lifestyle?

Paul: Apart from still being able to fit into my Year 12 jumper 😂 the thing I treasure most are the people I’ve met and the places I’ve been. I would never have led the life I had if not for the positive influence of sport and the people I’ve met through it.

Nokkon: Who are your inspirations?

Paul: I draw inspiration from a wide number of people. I’m inspired by new runners chasing huge, audacious goals; by people overcoming great difficulties of injury or circumstance; busy parents who make fitness a priority; and in general those who are pushing and striving to be the best versions of themselves! That stuff inspires me!!

Nokkon: What are your health goals?

Paul: My goal has, for a very long time, been to live till I’m 100 and be active at that age!

Nokkon: How do you ensure you balance your training to include positively influencing others?

Paul: There are sessions I do that need to be about me, but I would never pass up the chance to run with others and, especially, meet “touring” runners from interstate and show them around town! Be yourself, be passionate about what you do, and you’ll find that’s probably a pretty positive influence on people.

Nokkon: Do you have a memorable health highlight for yourself?

Paul: My health/fitness highlight is that despite the injuries and setbacks that we all have, I have been able to stay motivated and active continuously for these last 30 years. I’m pretty happy that this has been the case!

Nokkon: Do you have a memorable health highlights for someone else you have been involved with?

Paul: I’ve been lucky enough through my previous run club leading days to see so many people use running as a way to manage the stress and mental issues in their lives. This is game changing stuff for them, life changing, not just about fitness or getting faster. I feel pretty privileged to have played some role in this for them.

Nokkon: Your slogan or moto that keeps you motivated

Always focus on what you can do, not what you can’t!

Nokkon: Thank you for joining our incredible team of ambassadors Paul. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for us and the further positive health influence you will have on others.

#challengechooseday – Evolutio Altitude mask for a full working day

We are extremely lucky to work with an amazing group of inspirational people. Our amazing ambassadors, customers, club attendees, partners and businesses share the common goal of valuing and contributing to their own and others/community health.

Working with likeminded diverse and innovative health businesses allows us to create community health contributions of real value. There is so much more to our health and performance than simply working out and training the same program, plans and exercises. By having a tight network of likeminded businesses we can deliver holistic health focussed services to the community that incorporate health aspects including: mind, body, soul, community, environment, strength, stamina, endurance, flexibility, mobility, recovery and nutrition.

To show how we can work on our weak points and outside our comfort zones we have developed the “Challenge Cape” where our health businesses challenge each other to work on areas of their health they may avoid or neglect.  Every time one of our team accepts a challenge we add their logo to the challenge cape.

Our first challenge has been to challenge the Physio team at Evolutio to wear an oxygen restriction altitude mask set at Mt Kilimanjaro Elevation (5800m above sea level) for a full working day. They have set the date for next Friday. So keep a close eye on their social media to see how Alex handles getting outside his comfort zone. You can check out the video below showing our Ambassador Chris W running the mask and challenge cape out to the team at Evolutio. Best of luck on the Challenge team

 

Melbourne Insta Runners Instagram Take over: 1 day, 4 summits

blog-post-sq-summits
Earlier this month, Enfer Running approached us with an idea. To take over Melbourne Insta Runners page and take the viewers on a tour of some of Melbourne’s top trail running locations. These included The You Yangs, Mt Macedon and the Dandenong Ranges. The idea was to summit all the 3 locations, take a few photos to promote the accessible beauty of the areas, showcase the connection of social trail running, have some fun and document it on Melbourne Insta Runners Instagram account.

x3-58So naturally we committed and volunteered our Melbourne based Ambassadors for the challenge. The team consisted of Nathan (Enfer Running Coach), Chris W (nokkon Ambassador) and Shaun (nokkon Ambassador).sm-nf-mace56

The team contacted Melbourne Insta Runners admin, who without hesitation saw the opportunity to promote Melbourne trail running and entertain their followers. They gave the guys the password to the account and with a few ground rules so not to compromise the quality of what their runners want to see, the team was ready to go.shaun-and-nath-climb

At sunrise, the boys headed out in Chris’s 1986 ford campervan for their first stop The You Yangs. From there they ran Mt Macedon, the Dandenongs, and finished at sunset with one last summit at Arthurs Seat.shed-mace

It was an action packed day full of running, walking, old skool tunes, bad dance moves, good food and drink, rest stops, laughs, challenges, support, good fun and the simplicity of enjoying running beautiful locations with friends.atone-yy-48

In total the guys ran around 30kms with over 1500 metres elevation, drove over 500kms and summited 4 peaks.mt-macedon-41

Check out some of the photos from the action and add MelbourneInstaRunners on instagram to see more.

nath-gimp-47We hope you are motivated at just how easy it is to live #thenokkoneffect. Grab a few mates, head for the hills and #getitdone.shaun-mt-mace shaun-sign nath-med-50 shaun-steep-mace-54 sm-mace-46 nf-jump-49 nf-51 nf-55 sm-nf-van black-hole nf-sm-glas x3-glas nf-view-as

 

 

The 7 days of Jandals

Barefoot brutality

jandal-sqDuring the nokkon Runnerview with Sally Coggins she put me onto the book “Born to Run” by Christopher Mcdougall, which started my interest in barefoot running. I think every runner in the world bar me has heard of this book, as my level of reading usually peaks at street signs or toilet wall inspirational quotes, and even on a good day that’s a stretch. Conversations with innovative running coach Enfer Running about body movement also fuelled my minimalist curiosity. I wanted to know whether my own running could benefit and how my body would react to the barefoot element. So naturally I set an unrealistic goal; to run a 50km beach sand ultra….barefoot. I quickly got my training back up to where I wanted it and scoped a 30km uninterrupted section of beach in WA, with the plan to do an out and back run. The next morning I packed large and headed out. All went well up to 10km when foot and sand abrasion became apparent. By the 25km turn around point I had some serious blisters under my toes, I could feel a lot of liquid between the soles of my feet and see some traces of blood. I thought about the exponential factor of endurance running (if you are in trouble at half way point, its going to be one hell of a slog fest home bound). After a little rest and a few test runs, I called the run off and banked it is as “needs more work”. Those of you who like to set challenging goals will be familiar with the feeling when an incomplete goal starts to haunt you. You keep thinking about it and it won’t leave you alone. Everything you see is a cue for it. Your latte foam starts looking like a pristine section of flat white beach sand. There is a personal drive that is relentless to just #getitdone and experience the relief to have that goal ticked off the list. However, realistically we know that’s a pipe dream. The relief is temporary and the accomplishment is just replaced with another poorly thought out act of insanity, sending us back into the vicious cycle of goal achieving. With that acceptance of human insatiability/greed for personal achievement, it was time to move ahead.

The plan begins

From here I started looking at foot conditioning and coming back again to conquer this personal goal. The plan changed and thoughts were – “If I couldn’t do it barefoot, I’ll do the next best thing and run it Tarahumara tribe style with some sandals”.5515301daecc5d9ba028a83de9c8fe37

I short-cut the 500 years of training and conditioning the tribe has spent wearing in their running sandals and purchased a pair of Barefoot Ted’s Luna Sandals. size 9.5 leadville pacer model 9mm sole and prepared myself for instant results.

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My goals were to wear the sandals as my running shoes and casual shoes for a normal week of running training. I wanted to gather some information on if they would be suitable to do the 50km beach ultra in, natural movement feedback, how they would effect my feet, body, endurance, technique, movement, performance, what would happen when I ran in shoes again and most importantly if my wife would still love me if these became a wardrobe staple.

My immediate thoughts on receiving them were:

-they aren’t super aesthetically pleasing but in saying that they aren’t ugly either. Try and imagine an Italian designer Croc modified by a Spartan solider. I would of preferred the leather straps and leather sole but they weren’t advertised as a trail running model and most importantly… they weren’t on sale for $60.

-that strap is going to destroy the soft unadulterated skin between my toes.

-surprised how the ankle strap runs around and under the sole and contacts the ground. Wouldn’t that cause it to wear and snap?

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On putting them on I realised just how well designed, soft and what an unrestrictive feel the strap system has. They have a great ability to adjust the straps on heel and toe for ease of fitting adjustments and fine tuning. Getting them on and off is a simple pull of the velcro heel tension strap.

-the sole is definitely as advertised and feels barefoot.

-they seem a bit big and flippery around the surrounds of my foot. This proved useful later on uneven terrain.  The wide sole protected the edges of my feet allowing for movement without my feet sliding off the soles. My initial trials around the house did result in me tripping over the toes twice. I had a vision of doing that whilst running and sending my front teeth into the pavement or breaking my wrists. Fortunately I never tripped on them running. I put it down to just getting used to them.

Time to hit the road

Day 1: Friday

AM: 11km negative split, out and back with Shaun, Nathan, Pete. Port Melbourne to St Kilda return with light rain on a paved path surface. On first steps I immediately moved to a flat mid foot strike (I usually pronate a lot and run forefoot strike). It appeared that it was a natural response to spread the foot strike impact more evenly. I Started first 3-4kms with quiet foot strike, ran through multiple puddles in light rain. After 4 kms foot strike noise increased and Nathan commented on this. At the turn around point I could feel my calves working harder. We progressively increased intensity with my feet impact noise varying depending when I was focussing on adjusting foot strike. I felt abrasion on side of right foot in contact with the sole, ending the run in a 4:00min km finish at speed.

15876693_435753863482055_3751217139176964096_nI ended up with a 1/2 inch blister on right foot which I attributed to abrasion of skin and sole caused by water in sandal. This was also consistent with my barefoot beach ultra attempt as blisters became apparent when running on wet sand. My calves were sore from fatigue. The new form adjustments and controlled landings were working a different location in my calf muscles.

PM: 8km progressive intervals with Michelle. South Wharf on 1km loop road surface.

My calves were sore but once they warmed up, no problems. The blister from the mornings run was fine, no issues.

I had a noisy foot impact on start up until I had warmed up and then could hold form. It required self awareness during speed changes to maintain quiet impact and it was much easier to hold form because the interval rest periods minimised fatigue.

Day 2: Saturday

14km The Tan and Yarra run with 500m sprint lap. Pete and Liz. Surface- road or compact path surface.

16228984_1722419424716785_8632992764423831552_n16110193_463616330693297_2362307389476044800_nMy calves had fatigued badly and were about as difficult to get started as Grandads antique 2 stroke Victa lawnmower (manual choke). My blister on right foot remained but no pain. My form consistency required significant self awareness to maintain. From 4kms it was a battle. I used foot strike noise as self awareness cue, and yo-yo’d good-bad-good-bad-badder. We threw in a mid run 500m Sprint loop. Foot strike impact was very noisy and sharp bends at speed felt unstable as my feet slid slightly sideways on soles, although no issue with speed. It was difficult to make any form adjustments at speed, so I just went for it. I also had very noisy impact on Anderson St descent. I couldn’t adjust form to quieten the impact. I took it as an indicator that I need to work on my hill descent form…something I already new but hadn’t done.

Day 3: Sunday

20km 800m elevation Dandenongs trail loop, with Ash, Pete, Macca and Liz. Undulating rises with progressive climb on loose forest trail.

16110134_1175274659253370_4077917189506596864_n16110683_752064951616058_1976581741036437504_nMy calves were now fatiguing badly. The blister still present but healing and not being aggravated by running. It took 1km in for the rust to come off my calves and start to sustain a semi fluid movement. We completed the 10km climb to Sky High Dandenong with hill walking sections. No issues on climb. On the 10km return I had multiple rocks in between heels and soles, harsh impacts on descents and felt every uneven surface and rock. I felt unstable and had concerns for rolling an ankle over the rocks. I was constantly stopping to get small rocks out from heels. I could not consciously adjust form enough to prevent issues and pulled a classy ass plant when I slipped over on steep descent (moments before this I had taken a photo of Pete sliding and were laughing uncontrollably) those damn forest karma fairies. There were no problems on the limited flats. The poor form and scuffing continued to flick rocks up into my sandals. Even though I knew this was happening, I didn’t have enough strength to adjust to better form. It turned into a #getitdone run. This run appeared to be a high risk of injury due to poor body control, poor descent form and neglect for picking clear paths of travel.

jandaDay 4: Monday

6km with Shaun and Liz. 3km out and back intervals on compact limestone trail and path.

What was left of my calves felt sore and fatigued quickly at about 3kms. The rocks on path were flicking in under heels which was consistent with my point of fatigue. There were more noisy impacts on pace work after fatigue. I ran through beach sand which came out of sandal easily whilst running, and moved onto grass on sections to quieten impact noise and for the feel of a softer more forgiving impact surface.

Day 5: Tuesday

16229397_201439363655717_8810153375040536576_nAM- 12km Port Melbourne Loop with Pete and Chris from Gorun. The surface was paved path. My calves were sore but I ran consistently with a pace increase tempo finish. No significant noisy impacts and managed to run occasional intervals without issues. Once again moved onto the grass if there was the option.

PM- 9km Yarra, The Tan and Anderson St hill repeats with Michelle and Simon.  My calves fatigued significantly. It was hard to hold form entire run, even when running slower pace. The Anderson St descents were poor control and very noisy impact, with foot movement across soles.

My calves were very sore at end of day. Considered wearing shoes for the first time on 2nd run.

16110364_369925666725363_8935760419461529600_nDay 6: Wednesday

10km out and back tempo negative split on road surface with Liz in Docklands. I put some focus on feet landing under body which kept impact noise relatively quiet. I noticed noisy impact at start of run until body self adjusts to fluid run movements. On 5km return focussed on cadence and this contributed to better form and no impact issues. I felt abrasion with side of left foot on sole causing a blood blister. This could be contributed to the soles now starting to form a concave shape more around my feet, change in form due to fatigued legs, tightening the straps tighter in preparation for tempo and/or the many corners and turns in this run. Finished the day with beach sprints on Flinders beach, no issues with the dry or wet sand.

15877210_184859025326409_6677665128613150720_nDay 7: Thursday Final day

16114737_10154912501222789_7504709009352267302_n21km on road or compact path at easy pace around Melbourne City, with Liz, George, Adam, Pete, Ash, Bel, Paul, Edyta, Alice, Michelle, Nicole, Adam and special appearance from Sally (coincidentally the sadist who sparked the barefoot ideas). There were no issues with running and the calf fatigue was starting to ease. I could feel the blister on my left foot and light fatigue set in around the 10km mark, though it wasn’t substantial enough to flick up rocks into heels as previous runs. We accelerated to tempo at 3km from finish with good form. My new blister on left foot burst during tempo but I didn’t feel it.

Conclusions and takeaways

After 7 days my feet looked like and felt like a mess. To say they switched on to feeling impact would be an understatement. They felt like every little receptive nerve in them were functioning at 110%. The skin was much harder and resilient now, even starting to crack on my right pinky toe.

My calves felt it the most. The controlled, self aware foot strike gets them working overtime, and combined with the isolated calf muscle conditioning that comes with form change… they were pretty cooked. Every run needed a significant warm up to get them moving and feeling ok.

The practicality of the sandals were great. They make prepping for running easy and they pack down very small if you want to take them anywhere with you. They are great for the beach and no searching for you favourite socks in the stinky dirty washing basket. It was very convenient to have them worn casually and also to run in.

The best takeaway I got from these were that they are an amazing indicator for form and impact focus due to the loud slapping loud noises when running out of form. It is a great cue that I was getting tired, something had changed or I needed to focus on certain techniques in certain situations. As an education tool, you certainly learn a lot about the way you are moving in the moment.

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Generally my feet rarely see the sun, so this was a massive change for them. In hindsight I would be more incremental with my introduction to barefoot with a planned minimalist shoe pathway.

In the future I will use them intermittently based on their benefits, current body condition, race purpose and goals, environment. It’s not the type of footwear I would use in every situation and would avoid runs where I am going to fatigue and be out of form, and/or runs with a lot of sharp corners. They are simply another option that his its time and place based on conditions and what you want to get out of your running.

I will continue to use them in training to keep familiar with mid foot strikes, keeping muscle memory in calves, and familiarity with the movement.

There was a strong feeling of connection with environment, particularly on the Dandenong run. I enjoyed the minimalist feel of less is more and the mental confidence to be able to run with less tools or “essentials”. It was basically running at its simplest form. Combine that with running in natural surrounds and with an amazing group of people, it made for a very special experience.

In summary

I found if I ran with good form, am self aware of my movements, actively listening and looking for bad form cues then wearing sandals or shoes makes little difference to my performance. The risk was once I had fatigued, started running “sloppy” and it’s harder or not possible to hold good form. I believe shoes in this state may offer more preservation and protection from injury through using more cushioning soles than the sandals (more forgiving). I would happily train in sandals in short course work or very easy pace distance where I know I won’t fatigue to badly and the surface choice wouldn’t be too much of an issue for me. This may allow for good form, and exposure/muscle memory to mid foot strike which the sandals promoted, whilst still keeping calves conditioned for this movement. I enjoy the connection and feel of the surface you are running on, and the feedback you receive from feel and noise as to when your form may be slipping. As for blister prevention- don’t get water in them or if you do then dry them out quickly and condition your feet for resilience.

My wife’s opinion of them “they stink, get them far away from me”. Which turns out they are very easy to clean by simply wearing them in the shower and giving them a scrub.

I am looking forward to seeing what happens when I put shoes back on and run. That’s next week, and as for the beach 50km ultra……the haunting continues 😀.

Chris Wright

14 ways to build an unstoppable endurance mind game

blog-post2“It’s all in the mind….” Is a common response from an endurance athlete when faced with the question “How do you it?”. How do you keep going for so long? How do you not give up? How do you not overcome exhaustion, pain and fear? How do you accelerate to the finish line?
There are all types of bodies you will see at ultras, triathlons and endurance events. But one thing they all have in common is… they have the mental drive, control, insight and ability to push beyond their doubts, stereotypes, pain, boundaries and just #getitdone.

So if our minds play such a big part, then how can we train them to function like that of an endurance athlete?

We have put together a list of strategies to help build up our mental strength and lock down a solid mind game.

1- Have professional, structured training and race plans in place. Use the saying and believe it “trust the process”. No need to overthink. Keep it simple and just focus on doing your sessions.

15271801_10154334846744118_9060815472030572499_o2- Keep it visual.  Joe Simpson’s true story Touching the Void, tells us how he broke his leg close to the summit of 6344m Siula Grande in Peru, fell into a crevasse on the way down, was left for dead by his climbing partner. He crawled along a glacier for three days. He picked short-term, visual goals and gave himself a certain amount of time to crawl to it. Once he reached one goal he picked another in the distance until he made it the 5 miles back to his camp in some of the harshest conditions on the planet.

Break it down:

  • Think routes you are familiar with (only 5 more park runs to go)
  • Use geographical features  (the top of that hill, that big tree, the next turn off)
  • Time (less than an hour left)
  • Percentages (50% done, Past half way now)

3- Train in the sh*t (rain, wind, hills, sand, fully loaded packs, the less ideal the better. With consideration to personal safety). “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable”.

4- Be consistent with training. Build faith in your bodies ability and fitness.

5- Use logic against mental excuses (toilet breaks, hydration, food, fatigue).

6- Know your pain. Is it fatigue or is at an injury. It may help with rational decision making.

7- Train socially. Build connection, enjoyment and a love for what you are doing.

8- Minimise the pain zone. Pace yourself. Think of the 99km’s after that hill.

9- Tame the beast. It if hurt you in training ….. do it again. Didn’t like the hill, turn around and go do it again. If you can do it again after you are hurting, is it really as bad as you thought? #owned

fvvicnapdrpjupmgtk_n4ivz3gkcjojg5g59e2o_kei-2048x153410- #getitdone fall back plans (if you aren’t achieving your goals make decisions and reassess realistically) Persisting with an unrealistic plan may burn energy faster. A Sub 4 hours marathon may turn into a just #getitdone marathon.

11- Hit the reset button. Switch off from overthinking. Stop- have a drink, shake out shoulder tension, eat a gel, take a few deep breaths, centre yourself and be on your merry way again.

12- @runwithkat– Think objectively about the goal not subjectively about how u feel at one moment (ie tired, hurting, too hard). U can do it – you just have to actually do it.

13- @runwithkat– Live in the moment. Think of a long run as a pamper session. How often do you get hours to think about just u and how u feel. E.g. If you feel a bead of sweat trickling down your skin – concentrate on that.

fullsizerender-514- @runwithkat– Be self aware. Think of your form. If something hurts, try and fix it.

nokkon- Thank you Run Coach Kat for your great contribution,

If you have any more feedback on building an endurance athlete mind game, we would love for you to leave your thoughts/experiences as comments.

Enjoyable running

nokkon

Nokkon Ambassador Rory Wooster

rory-ambassWe are absolutely over the moon to have Rory Wooster join our Ambassador team. We have mentioned Rory previously during his encouragement during his mother and fathers first triathlon. Rory is now a ball of energy, positivity and tackles challenges with a smile. He made some major changes to his lifestyle, to take control of his health. He has now positively influenced and encouraged his family to be involved in endurance racing and has a family of triathletes attending and racing in Queensland events. Rory’s daughter Lyla, raced here first triathlon this weekend (first out of the swim). We look forward of being part of Rory’s journey as he continues to be a leader in community health contribution #thenokkoneffect.
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Nokkon: What is your lifestyle like?

Rory: I live on the Sunshine Coast, in QLD, so it’s easy to have a great lifestyle. Work keeps me pretty busy and I travel a lot but when I’m not working I love outdoor activities with my family.Nokkon: What activities/interests in the health and wellbeing sector do you have?

Rory: I’m interested in Triathlons, currently competing in the Bribie Island Tri Series. I also love surfing and scuba diving.

Nokkon: What got you interested in health/wellbeing?

13534476_1689230041406935_8960194879250497536_nRory: I reached a point in my life where I was obese, unfit and my confidence was low. I realised that it wasn’t the way I wanted to live my life and made a conscious effort to change.

Nokkon: What benefits have you found in your active lifestyle?

Rory: Having an active lifestyle has made a huge difference in so many areas of my life. I feel great, I’m much happier, my confidence has grown and I have lots more energy. It’s also had a positive influence on family and friends.

Nokkon: Who are your inspirations?

Rory: My kids are my biggest inspiration, Lyla (8) and Siena (5). I want them to grow up seeing a healthy and active lifestyle as a normal part of life. Chris Melton, fellow ambassador, has been a great inspiration in helping me push my fitness to the next level.

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Nokkon: What are your health goals?

Rory: My next major health goal is completing the Mooloolaba Triathlon, olympic distance, in March. I’m also looking to have more of a positive influence on the health and fitness of the Sunshine Coast Community.

Nokkon: How do you ensure you balance your training to include positively influencing others?

Rory: Training for multi-sport events can be quite challenging to dedicate enough time to each sport. I try and incorporate my family into my training. My kids do swim squad training 3 times a week, so I’ll jump in the pool with them for my swim training. They ride their bikes about the same pace that I run so I’ll often bring them and dog along with me. I’ll try and ride with my parents and wife whenever possible.

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Nokkon: Do you have a memorable health highlight for yourself?


Rory:
Completing Tough Mudder earlier this year was definitely a highlight. It was really satisfying experience and helped to inspire me to get involved in triathlons.

Nokkon: Do you have a memorable health highlights for someone else you have been involved with?

Rory: Having my wife and parents all sign up to do the Bribie Island Tri Series together was great. We have completed one triathlon, three to go.

Nokkon: Your slogan or moto that keeps you motivated

 Rory: Outside of you comfort zone is where the magic happens.
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Nokkon: Thanks for your time Rory. You have done some great work already. We will do our best to help you spread #thenokkoneffect. Welcome to the team. Now let’s #GETITDONE!
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#Techniquetesting- Running Sticks

We love our technique and training tools and lately we have spent time researching running sticks. We were keen to see how they work and the effects they have on the runner. The theory is you run with short, wooden dowels (approx 10cm long, similar width to a broomstick) in the palms of your hands with thumbs over the end of the sticks. img_4421When running with them in your hands it is meant to aid in keeping your arms by your side, and minimising twisting arm movements. We set the challenge for our ambassador to do 10km using running sticks. Read below on how our guinea pig ambassador Chris Wright went on this #techniquetesting challenge.

Chris- “When nokkon put this to the ambassadors I was really interested to try. I used to and still occasionally do have a twisting left hand when I run, particularly in severe fatigued states or when zoning out. My left hand turns inwards and downward in a scooping manner, my hand moves more across my body rather than forward to back. It’s almost looks like a movement from a bad freestyle swimming stroke. I have also recently been watching my left foot strike and movement. image-9I noticed that I had a relationship between my left arm/hand movement and the twist and pronation of left foot. If my hand curled in and under, my foot would too. If i tried to adjust pronation/foot strike my arm and hand would twist. So to try these running sticks I could look at gathering more information on how I move, if there is benefit in change and a strategy to work on this change.

img_4419I was meant to go to the hardware store and make up 10cm wooden dowels but instead I improvised when I saw a couple of sticks on the ground, that had one blunt cut end, weren’t too sharp and didn’t have any splinters. I picked these up and put one in the palm of each hand, with my thumbs resting on the top and all fingers gripping them lightly. It kind of looked like what you would imagine if some one was about to plunge a wooden stake into the heart of Dracula. I made sure I had my arms at 90 degree bend and tucked in by my side and set off at about a 4.30 min a km pace. I found I didn’t need any conscious effort to maintain a constant and straight swing. Arms and hands were straight in line and my thumbs were forward facing as if was steadily drumming in a marching band. This all tracked well. It was about the 8km mark of my 10km run where i was starting to fatigue. This was where i was expecting to see the most impact. At this point, there were a few small undulating hills and my cadence and pace dropped, so I applied some focus on the sticks and driving them faster, which helped my cadence to pick back up. For the next km and a half, I increased intensity to 4.00 min a km to see how the sticks influenced my movement at pace, again focusing on driving them down and back parallel to my body, finishing my run in a sprint.

I felt that at a faster pace I naturally drove strongly with my arms, so the sticks were not as useful during these periods. I was also quite self aware during these periods too so i paid more attention to how my body was moving and naturally drove with my arms. The biggest benefit I had was when cruising along below threshold pace, where i was less self aware and my mind drifted off, thinking about other things. During this period carrying the sticks helped keep my hand and arm movement straight, without twisting and I did not need focus to maintain this movement.

I do recommend trying this to see the cause and effect of upper body and lower body movement relationships. If you chicken wing, arm/hand twist this may be a beneficial progressive tool to use in your training if you are wanting to straighten up and bring in a tighter upper body movement. I’d like to try again on an easier, more efficient pace to see if there is benefits on a run where I am not as focussed on movement. I think there may be more benefit in efficient, easy long running.”

nokkon- Remember our running mechanics can be personal and individual. With many varied contributing factors as to why we move in that manner. Changes in movement should be low impact, gradual, progressive and always in consultation with a health movement specialist.

happy running

nokkon