Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cloudy snow

The local peaks have been engulfed with clouds the past few months, with only a rare spotting of sun poking through. The alpine is also still largely blanketed with snow and although fun, it makes for dodgy running at times. Despite the recent lack of sunshine and warm days, and limited access to the higher regions, I have really been enjoying my running lately. It's been quite different from my traditional approach, with few specific workouts and a much greater emphasis on getting onto technical trails and logging vertical. The runs can take a while to cover relatively few miles, but the sense of adventure as I explore new tracks is invigorating.
This style of running is something that I never had access to in Victoria and adds greatly to my attraction to Vancouver. While I'm not sure the change of pace will necessarily make me a better runner, I don't doubt that once I adapt, that it will make me a better "mountain runner" and, most importantly, it is the style of running that gets me the most excited to run at the moment.
I'm sure that eventually I'll start back with at least one structured workout a week, because I do enjoy the feeling of running hard and fast, especially with a group, but, for now, I'm running largely by feel and ending almost every run feeling better than when I start, which is how it should be.

With all the snow in the hills, the bears are out to feed and play on the lower slopes and I've had a few, innocuous, run-ins with them. After the Western States 100 on the weekend, I consider bear management a critical skill in my ultra running arsenal, so I'm fine with the encounters. Congrats to fellow Brit/Canuck Ellie Greenwood on winning the race, finishing her first 100 miler and treeing a bear along the way. Congrats also to Salomon runner, Kilian Jornet on living up to the hype, running a stout race and becoming the first non-North American to win.

The Chilcotins video has been uploaded to the Arc'teryx Vimeo page. There are some great videos in their collection, so it's worh checking out. We live in a fascinating time, when videos and other creative media has never been easier to make and share. I will admit to using online sources for inspiration and have gone out the door for many a run after watching a clip, or listening to podcast, with a lighter step and a new perspective. I really appreciate everyone that takes the time to share their work, so I hope this video does the same for a few of you:

Adam Campbell Chilcotins run from ARC'TERYX on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

South Chilcotins video

Arc'teryx took me on a beautiful run in the South Chilcotins last summer and filmed the trip. There is now a video up on the company's webpage that you should check out-HERE .

I wrote an article in Canadian running on the region and also wrote a teaser blog after the trip last August that has some background info on my 8 plus hour run through the peaks and valleys of the Spruce Lake area.

Yes, I realize how lucky I am!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Runner's calm

People often talk about the runner's high, but I'm more interested in the runner's calm. Although I can be straining & working hard while running, the fluidity and simplicity of the act, the places my feet take me and the conversations and thoughts that I have while out on a run has an incredibly calming effect on the rest of my life. This feeling of serenity and grounding that I get from running on trails and mountains is largely why I do it.

I just saw this wonderful, Joel Wolpert produced, video of Geoff Roes, arguably the best mountain ultra runner in world at the moment. I was struck by how Joel was able to capture Geoff's calm, unassuming and authentic demeanour. While he doesn't address it specifically and you could use a number of descriptors, such as spiritual, meditative, religious etc... to summarize the language that Geoff uses when he is talking about running-I'll argue that this clip profiles the runner's calm perfectly:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Running away from Struggle Street

Lauren and I call rough training patches as being on "Struggle Street." They are a realty for all athletes. I think she got the term from Mirinda "Rinny" Carfrae, one of Lauren's 'besties' and a seriously tough and competitive athlete.

I've been on Struggle Street for the better part of 3 weeks. When I'm on Struggle Street, running feels awkward and forced, I can't go hard, I'm always tired, but sleep like crap, I feel like I've got a permanent, low grade cold and I wrestle with motivation. Although it's unpleasant, I've found over the years that there's not much I can do during these periods to hurry the process out of the lull.
Although I know it's just semantics, I stop thinking of my runs as training and start thinking of them as exercise. I find this shift allows me to be more flexible and easy on myself. I stop striving so much and I really try to listen to my body. Unfortunately, I'm not always a good listener and don't always heed my own advice or experience, which may be why this slump lasted almost 3 weeks.
Over the weekend, somewhere along the dirt service road heading up Blackcomb mountain, with snow banks towering above my head, peaks barely visible above the dirty white walls, I noticed that I had a bit more pep in my stride and I was enjoying the effort. I think I might have finally switchbacked my way off Struggle Street.

I also spent a few days last week hanging with the Salomon Canada crew who were in town for a sales meeting. I got to see some of the sweet new gear and kicks for next year and met a team of passionate and fun people who work behind the scenes to bring the product to stores across the country.
I joined in for a Salomon Hash run in Stanley Park, led by the one of a kind Munny Munroe and was wined and dined with some seriously good food at local eateries. I also finally got to see the famous Phil V Crossmax rig-doing Alberta and the brand proud.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Races in other places

Zegama is a town in the Basque part of northern Spain. The most important sporting event in the town is the Zegama-Aizkorri Alpine Marathon, a brutishly steep and technical run on the Skyrunning circuit. Well worth checking out:

Zegama-Aizkorri 2011 from salerno stephane on Vimeo.