How is your Posture? Part Deux – Marc Laithwaite

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So last week we introduced the subject of ‘lordosis’ or ‘anterior pelvic tilt’ and how it impacts upon runners and triathletes. In the blog I stated that from my experience, athletes with lordosis or anterior tilt are at high risk of suffering the following injuries or problems:

  1. Lower back pain (pretty much always a link between lower back pain and anterior tilt of the pelvis).
  2. Constant tightness in the hamstrings (certainly can’t touch your toes!).
  3. Possible pain or tightness in the front of the hip/groin area.
  4. Potential cramp or spasm in the quads (front of your thighs), more common running downhill.
  5. Running ‘stitch’ (bearing in mind that a stitch is a word used to describe and pain in the abdominal region when running!!).
  6. Problems breathing (can’t breathe deep and have to breathe rapid and shallow), sometimes but not always coupled with stitch.
  7. For triathletes, these problems are worse when running after cycling (when running immediately after cycling your hamstrings are tight, get quad cramps and breathing difficulties or stitches).

The aim of today’s blog is to explain the potential reason why each of the above happen, linked to lordosis posture.

Some basic things to understand:

In last week’s blog we discussed that the pelvis can tilt forwards or backwards, dictated by which muscles are pulling and in which direction. The 4 muscle groups we discussed were:

1. Core abdominals
2. Lower back
3. Hamstrings (rear of thigh – including glutes)
4. Hip flexors (front of thigh / hip)

when you have lordosis posture we said that the hamstrings and hip flexors are tight, as are the lower back muscles. The core abdominals are generally weak.

Why are muscles tight?

It’s important to understand why muscles are tight, as there is more than just one reason. If you stretch a muscle and make it longer, you will inevitably make it tighter. It’s simple to understand, imagine a muscle is like an elastic band. Pull the elastic band and lengthen it, it gets tighter. However, muscles can become tight because then are shortened, NOT lengthened. Initially this doesn’t make sense, think about the elasatic band, if you stop pulling it and allow it to shorten, then it relaxes. Generally muscles will get tighter when stretched and lengthened and relax when shortened, but not in every case.

Shorter and tighter

Imagine if you put your leg in a plaster cast for 6 months with your knee bent at 90 degrees. When you bend your knee, this shortens the hamstring. When the day finally arrives to have the cast cut off, it’s unlikely that you will be able to straighten your leg. The reason for this is that the hamstring muscle has spent so long in a shortened position, it’s now stuck at that length! Here’s the critical thing, if muscles spend a long time in a shortened position, they eventually get used to that length and it becomes relatively permanent. The irony is that they were initially shortened, which made them relax. They got used to that shortened position, adjusted in length and eventually that makes them feel tight!!

Confused?

Let’s simplify this, some muscles get ‘stretched’ which makes them feel tight and some muscles get ‘shortened’ which makes them feel tight. It just anterior-pelvic-tiltdepends on whether you lengthen it (stretch it) or shorten it (and leave it shortened for a long period of time). Check out our image which we used last week, here’s what happens to our 4 muscle groups:

1. Hamstrings get pulled upwards (stretched) and this makes them feel tight.
2. The hip flexors are shortened and over time they adjust in length (feel tight)
3. The lower back muscles shorten and over time they adjust in length (feel tight)
4. The abdominals are stretched (you won’t feel this like stretched hamstrings)

Why am I getting the symptoms you’ve written above?

Ok, so at the start of this blog I listed the possible symptoms of lordosis. I think the 4 points directly above explain the reason for lower back pain, tight hamstrings and tightness in the front of the hip / groin area. Let’s just take a closer look at the lower back pain. How does the lower back pain feel? Does it feel tight (like a tight hamstring) or is it more of a sharp, disabling ‘spasm’?

Spasm or cramp?

We’re going off into weird territory now, but this is a really worthwhile discussion. When a muscle contracts very sharply (often painfully), we refer to this as a ‘spasm’ or sometimes we call it a ‘cramp’. They may sound different to you, but we tend to use the words interchangeably for the same thing, largely because we’re confused and really don’t fully understand what’s going on.

When people get cramp in running races, generally they are in a state of fatigue and often they blame a lack of salts. It’s unlikely that loss of salt is causing cramp, but that’s a whole scientific discussion we’re not going to have in this blog. Back to the point, when people are knackered, they start to cramp. Whether it’s 22 miles into the marathon, 95 miles into a bike ride, it happens when you’re tired, ran out of fuel, feel dehydrated and generally in an all round bad state.

Here’s an interesting question then, why do people sometimes get cramp in their feet whilst they sleeping? How vigorous is your sleeping? Do you need to be waking at regular intervals to take on board electrolyte drinks? If you’re a triathlete, you may well have suffered from calves cramping during the swim, especially in open water. How dehydrated and fatigued can you really be during the early stages of a triathlon swim? That doesn’t make sense at all.

Geeks will love this…

I’m not pretending to give you the definitive answer to this question, but here is an opinion and some ideas. At this point let’s introduce the subject of ‘stretch receptors’ and the ‘stretch reflex’. You have receptors in your muscles and they detect how much and how quickly a muscle is stretching. If they believe a muscle to be stretching too much and too quickly, they trigger a contraction to protect the muscle. The best example of this (you will all have experienced the action of the stretch receptors), is running along happily and suddenly going over on your ankle. As you roll your ankle, the muscles on the outside of your lower leg contract and pull the foot back into position. You hobble for the next few steps, before realising that you got away with it and the ankle is still in one piece. What happened in that split second was not a conscious decision, you didn’t note that you had rolled your ankle or think about trying to correct it, the whole episode ‘just happened’, it was a contraction triggered by the stretch receptors.

What’s this got to do with cramp (or spasm for that matter)

When cycling, your hip flexors are in a shortened position (if your thigh is close to your stomach, hip flexors are shortened. The more aero, the more they’re shortened). Sometimes if i’ve been riding my bike for several hours, when i unclip, step off and stand upright, i get a ‘spasm’ in my hip flexors. I usually ‘crunch forwards’ immediately and then in goes. The likely cause of that small hip flexor spasm is the fact that the muscle has been working in a very short position for several hours. Over that time, the stretch receptors become accustomed to that shortened length. At the end of the ride I suddenly stand up vertical and the hip flexors lengthen dramatically. The stretch receptors are confused, causing a panic response which is a sudden sharp contraction (my little spasm) and it’s done to try and stop me lengthening the hip flexors too much or to quickly.

I’ve had this response before. My saddle height was too high which meant that I cycled with my toes pointing down slightly (posh term is planter felxtion, you can have that one for the next pub quiz). As my toes pointed down slightly, the calf was in a shortened position until the end of the bike ride. When I jumped off and started to run, the calf was suddenly lengthened and my stretch receptors (who had become comfortable with the shortened position during the bike) were alarmed by this sudden change, so reacted the only way they knew how, they initiated a sharp contraction (my calves cramped). It’s worth pointing out that most triathletes will cycle with a slightly ‘toes down’ position, so this problem is common.

Another example, a slightly shorter friend of mine, who is often referenced in this blog did the Ironman triathlon a few years ago. During the swim his calf kept ‘cramping’ and when he got out of the swim onto dry land, it cramped severely to the point where he could not walk! If fact, the cramp was so severe, he coudn’t run the marathon later in the race (to be fair, he probably wouldn’t have been able to run it under any circumstances). During open water swimming, the toes are pointed (it’s that plantar flextion thingy again), this means the calf is in a shortened and relaxed position. It’s probable that the stretch receptors become comfortable to that shortened position and perhaps become a little confused with this sorter length. When the calf is suddenly lengthened or sometimes when it isnt’t legnthened at all, this confusion in muscle length means that the stretch receptors trigger a sudden contraction. Sometimes the contraction is so strong, it can tear the calf muscle (or any other muscle), this is why severe ‘cramp’ as people often refer to it as, can lead to pain for several days.

How is this linked to the subject of lordosis?

In the original list of symptoms, we listed hip flexor cramps and quadricep cramps. Anterior tilt causes shortening of the hip flexors and the spasm I mentioned above, when I get off my bike is caused by lordosis / anterior tilt. In terms of quad cramps, one of the 4 quadricep muscles acts as a hip flexor. It’s called Rectus Femoris and if it’s tight, it tilts the pelvis forwards. In fact, there’s a strong research link between Rectus Femoris and back problems. If you have an enterior tilt of the pelvis (e.g. running after cycling) the Rectus Femoris muscle is in a shortened position. Running downhill encourages an anterior tilt of the pelvis and I’ve spoken to several people who in triathlon events, have suffered ‘cramp’ in the quads, in particular running downhill. It generally involves both legs completely locking.

Here’s the thing. All of the above scenarios are relatively common and advice tends to favour ‘salts and electrolytes’ to prevent the ‘cramp’. There is a real case of cramp or spasm caused by fatigue and dehydration, such as the 22 miles point in a marathon, but that’s not the simple answer. If you take the common example of cramping calves in open water swimming, there’s no way on earth that’s caused by fatigue or salt loss, all of the above can be explain by unnatural shortening of muscles and confusion of the muscle spindles and nervous system, resulting in a sudden contraction.

Okay, I haven’t touched on the stitch or breathing issues. I’d not anticipated on rambling so much. I could get 4 weeks out of this, it’s turning out better than expected. Next week we’ll talk about corrective exercises and ways to stop these problems. The following weeks, we’ll look specifically at breathing issues and the dreaded ‘stitch’.

If you suffer from calves cramping during swimming, hip spasms getting off the bike during long rides, quads cramping or any of the above, then reply and let us know with a single line. We can then tailor next weel’s exercises to the reponses and problems you have.

If you found this blog useful or interesting, we’d really appreciate a share, re-post or retweet on social media.

Until next week, stay relaxed.

About Marc:

Sports Science lecturer for 10 years at St Helens HE College.

2004 established The Endurance Coach LTD sports science and coaching business. Worked with British Cycling as physiology support 2008-2008. Previous Triathlon England Regional Academy Head Coach, North West.

In 2006 established Epic Events Management LTD. Now one of the largest event companies in the NW, organising a range of triathlon, swimming and cycling events. EPIC EVENTS also encompasses Montane Trail 26 and Petzl Night Runner events.

In 2010 established Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 LTD. This has now become the UKs leading ultra distance trail running event.

In 2010 established The Endurance Store triathlon, trail running and open water swimming store. Based in Appley Bridge, Wigan, we are the North West’s community store, organising and supporting local athletes and local events.

Check out the endurance store HERE

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CYCLING for RUNNERS – Article 7 March On!

HEADER_Suunto_ScottMarch is upon us and with it a new series of training sessions. In February we gave you a series of targets. Four sessions that ideally would be undertaken indoors on a turbo-trainer.

In summary, the sessions were as follows HERE

Catch up on previous articles HERE

In addition to the above four sessions you hopefully maintained your weekly runs and used cycling (very easy) as an alternative to a ‘recovery run.’

In March we are Marching On with our training and we want to step up once again and provide additional stimulus to progress your fitness and strength. You may be wondering, how do I fit all these sessions in?

Here is a template for a typical training week in March:

  1. Monday – Indoor cycling session of 20-40 minutes (based on fitness and experience.) Keep gearing very light and ‘spin’ your legs thinking about a 90+ cadence and maintaining souplesse.
  2. Tuesday – Running at 75% of max HR. Distance or time based on experience and targets.
  3. Wednesday – Indoor cycling session as per article 7 training plan. This will progress in effort for week 1, week 2, week 3 and week 4.
  4. Thursday – As Tuesday.
  5. Friday – Rest day.
  6. Saturday – Long outdoor bike session using ‘MAFF’ formula for 90 to 180-minutes. This will progress as outlined in this article 7 plan for week 1, week 2, week 3 and week 4.
  7. Sunday – Long run based on experience and target race distance.

MARCH TRAINING SESSIONS

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March sessions fall into three distinct categories:

Recovery, Intensity and Endurance.

For simplicity, we have scheduled the sessions to take place on a Monday (recovery), Wednesday (intensity) and Saturday (endurance). Of course it is possible to move these sessions around to suit your available time but please aim to keep to the structure we have provided here.

The week explained:

  • Monday follows a busy weekend of training and therefore is ideally a rest day or recovery day. As we have stated on many occasions, does a recovery run really exist? We use cycling for recovery as it is a non-weight bearing exercise and therefore you are able to spin your legs, elevate your heart rate a little and all without the impact of running. Monday’s session will ideally be on the road or an indoor trainer. You will use light gears, ‘spin’ your legs and look for a cadence of 90+. Time will vary based on your fitness and target goals. However, we recommend anything between 20 to 40-minutes.
  • Wednesday provides intensity and is an alternative to a faster running session. Over 4-weeks the sessions will build on February’s session and progress your fitness and strength.
  • Saturday is a long run equivalent and is ideally placed to provide two back-to-back sessions in March. You will cycle long on Saturday (outdoors) and then run long on Sunday. This provides a great endurance stimulus and reduces the impact that would come from two back-to-back run sessions. We are introducing the ‘MAFF’ formula for this session.

Hints ‘n’ Tips

  • Use a heart rate monitor. It’s great to get the feedback and monitor your training.
  • Have water handy – you will need it.
  • If training indoors use a fan or train near an open window.
  • Keep your pedalling technique smooth, don’t fight the bike.

WEEK 1

Monday : 20 to 40-minutes recovery 

Wednesday : 1-hour session turbo trainer

1-hour set and intervals

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 warm up * please see blow for a refresher on 5,4,3,2,1

Move up 1 additional gear, for me this would be 52×16 and maintain a 90 cadence for 4-minutes and then step up 1-gear (for me this is 52×15) and work hard for 1-minute. At the end of 1-minute drop back down one gear, for me 52×16 and repeat 4min/ 1min for seven more times (total 8 repetitions)

Cool down with 5 x 1-minutes dropping down a gear for each minute.

Saturday : 60-minute session

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This session will ideally be outdoors. You will use the MAFF formula to build base level fitness at any easy pace with a low heart rate and cadence ideally on or around 90 cadence. Make sure you use a quality HRM/ GPS for this session.

For example, the below session is 1-hour working on a MAFF of 130-140 bpm with warm up and cool down.

1-hour set

MAFF is based on the ‘Maffetone’ Formula. You can read two articles, HERE and HERE about Maffetone.

Maffetone formula is calculated as follows:

Subtract your age from 180.

Modify this number by selecting among the following categories the one that best matches your fitness and health profile: 

A: If you have or are recovering from a major illness (heart disease, any operation or hospital stay, etc.) or are on any regular medication, subtract an additional 10.

B: If you are injured, have regressed in training or competition, get more than two colds or bouts of flu per year, have allergies or asthma, or if you have been inconsistent or are just getting back into training, subtract an additional 5.

C: If you have been training consistently (at least four times weekly) for up to two years without any of the problems just mentioned, keep the number (180–age) the same. 

D: If you have been training for more than two years without any of the problems listed above, and have made progress in competition without injury, add 5.

For example, if you are thirty years old and fit into category (B), you get the following: 

180–30=150. Then 150–5=145 beats per minute (bpm).

If it is difficult to decide which of two groups best fits you, choose the group or outcome that results in the lower heart rate. In athletes who are taking medication that may affect their heart rate, those who wear a pacemaker, or those who have special circumstances not discussed here, further individualization with the help of a healthcare practitioner or other specialist familiar with your circumstance and knowledgeable in endurance sports may be necessary.

Two situations may be exceptions to the above calculations:

The 180 Formula may need to be further individualized for people over the age of sixty-five. For some of these athletes, up to 10 beats may have to be added for those in category (d) in the 180 Formula, and depending on individual levels of fitness and health. This does not mean 10 should automatically be added, but that an honest self-assessment is important.

For athletes sixteen years of age and under, the formula is not applicable; rather, a heart rate of 165 may be best. 

Once a maximum aerobic heart rate is found, a training range from this heart rate to 10 beats below could be used as a training range. For example, if an athlete’s maximum aerobic heart rate were determined to be 155, that person’s aerobic training zone would be 145 to 155 bpm. However, the more training at 155, the quicker an optimal aerobic base will be developed.

WEEK 2

Monday : 20 to 40-minutes recovery

Wednesday : 1-hour session turbo trainer

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 warm up *

Move up 1 additional gear, for me this would be 52×16 and maintain a 90 cadence for 3-minutes and then step up 1-gear (for me this is 52×15) and work hard for 2-minutes. At the end of 2-minutes drop back down one gear, for me 52×16 and repeat 3min/ 2min for five more times (total 6 repetitions)

Cool down with a reverse 5,4,3,2,1

Saturday : 90-minute session

This session will ideally be outdoors. You will use the MAFF formula to build base level fitness at any easy pace with a low heart rate and cadence ideally on or around 90 cadence.

WEEK 3

Monday : 20 to 40-minutes recovery

Wednesday : 1-hour session turbo trainer

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 warm up *

Move up 1 additional gear, for me this would be 52×16 and maintain a 90 cadence for 3-minutes and then step up 1-gear (for me this is 52×15) and work hard for 2-minutes. At the end of 2-minutes drop back down one gear, for me 52×16 and repeat 3min/ 2min for seven more times (total 8 repetitions)

Cool down with 5 x 1-minutes dropping down a gear for each minute.

Saturday : 2-hour session

This session will ideally be outdoors. You will use the MAFF formula to build base level fitness at any easy pace with a low heart rate and cadence ideally on or around 90 cadence.

WEEK 4

Monday : 20 to 40-minutes recovery

Wednesday : 1-hour session turbo trainer

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 warm up *

40-minutes at 75% of maximum heart rate with a 90-cadence

Cool down with 5 x 1-minutes dropping down a gear for each minute.

Saturday : 2-hour 30-minute session 

This session will ideally be outdoors. You will use the MAFF formula to build base level fitness at any easy pace with a low heart rate and cadence ideally on or around 90 cadence.

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NOTES:

March is designed to enhance your fitness in multiple ways and maximize your fitness. Combining three key sessions on a bike: recovery, intensity and endurance you will have a great fitness base for April when we take training to the next level.

It’s important that running and cycling work hand-in-hand with each other during March. So don’t try to push the envelope with running too hard or too long. If in doubt, use the MAFF formula for your running.

MAFF will require discipline and you will almost certainly feel that training is too easy. It’s a common feeling for many that are new the formula but stick with it and see how you progress.

It’s imperative that you use a heart rate monitor (we recommend Suunto) for the sessions in March. You need to work hard for the intensity sessions but you also need to ensure that the recovery and MAFF sessions are easy. Most people don’t do hard sessions hard enough and make easy sessions too hard. What you end up with is the middle ground and a lack of progression.

As April and May arrive, you need to build on the above and balance them. You may find that a faster cycling session will start to be replaced with a faster run session. If so, that’s fine. Incorporate cycling as recovery. However, we encourage that you still use long bike rides in conjunction with long and eventually longer runs.

At the end of May we will be back with a plan for June. Things will all change in as running takes a greater importance. You will incorporate one faster run session (Tuesday), one hill session (Thursday) and maintain a long bike. Until then, good luck!

Make easy – easy!

And make hard – hard!

Enjoy Marching On…

Glossary:

*5,4,3,2,1

If you are not used to cycle gearing, the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 will help you. Depending on your experience, strength, fitness and experience. You may do this session on your ‘small’ cog at the front of the bike or the ‘large’ cog. I do my sessions on the ‘52’ cog.

Start as follows:

52×25 for 5 minutes aiming for 90+ cadence

52×23 for 4 minutes aiming for 90+ cadence

52×21 for 3 minutes aiming for 90+ cadence

52×19 for 2 minutes aiming for 90 cadence

52×17 for 1 minute aiming for 90 cadence

By the time you reach the final minute you will be completely warm, your hear rate will have slowly elevated and the gearing will be ‘challenging’ but sustainable. Your heart rate will be in the 70-75% zone of max hear rate.

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Thanks to SCOTT SPORTS and SUUNTO for the support and backing

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Kilian Jornet – Aconcagua – Summits of my Life

Image copyright ©kilianj ©summitsofmylife

Image copyright ©kilianj ©summitsofmylife

“Winning isn’t about finishing in first place. It isn’t about beating the others. It’s about overcoming yourself. Overcoming your body, your limitations and your fears…. To find out whether we can overcome our fears, that the tape we smash when we cross the line isn’t only the one the volunteers are holding but also the one we have set in our minds? Isn’t victory being able to push our bodies and minds to their limits and in doing so discovering that they have led us to find ourselves anew and to create new dreams?” – Kilian Jornet, RUN or DIE

 

December always provides me with a little more spare time (not much) but certainly more time than the past 10-months when I have been on the road, travelling from race-to-race, recording images, writing stories and podcasting on the weekly and monthly action of mountain and ultra running.

I like to look back, soak in my experiences and one-by-one highlight key moments.

Although I plan to do this in the coming weeks, Kilian Jornet’s imminent ‘Summit’ attempt on Aconcagua has made jump ship and write a post about the Catalan himself.

What a year Kilian has had…

In a face-to-face interview in Zermatt earlier this year, I remember asking, “I think it’s topical we are speaking mid season. I believe the Kilian Jornet today is a different person to 1-year ago. For me, you seem to be in perfect shape. I don’t think I have seen you so fit and strong. Would you agree?”

As one would expect, Kilian looked away from me a little embarrassed by such a direct question that basically said, ‘you are the best!’

However, he replied with a smile and a twinkle in his eye that confirmed my thoughts, “This year I feel really well. I don’t know why? I started the season in Colorado in the winter doing plenty of high altitude meters. I was great in the ski season. It was my best season in regard to my condition. I was not tired after skiing so it was a big bonus. I have raced the same number of races but I seem to be recovering so much better. I am climbing more meters and doing fewer kilometers.”

I smile at his honesty and his genuine analysis of his form. You see 2014 has been the most impressive year not only in Kilian’s short life but arguably the most impressive in relation to any sportsperson.

We can argue all day about the pros and cons of distance, speed, difficulty and complexity of Kilian’s year but look at the simple facts:

  • Denali – Summit record (11-hours 40-minutes)
  • Hardrock 100 course record
  • Skyrunner World Series Champion – Vertical Kilometer
  • Skyrunner World Series Champion – Sky distance
  • Skyrunner World Series Champion – Ultra distance

Is Kilian THE most rounded athlete? I am biased but I like to think impartial and I have to say, with all things considered, yes! VK to 100-miles, Ski mountaineering and climbing. The Catalan is off the scale.

We have heard the stories of how Kilian says in RUN or DIE, “I enjoyed a normal childhood… I have never been one for being shut inside and was lucky that my parents lived in a refuge, which my father managed, 6500-feet above sea level.”

Kilian may well consider his childhood as normal, for him it was, but many would agree that right from aged two he was being nurtured step-by-step to be the perfect outdoor person.

“By the age of 3 I had already climbed Tossa Plana, Perafita and La Muga. By the age of 6 I had completed four Aneto summits and at the age of 10 I crossed the Pyrenees in 42-days.”

It’s an inspiring and intimidating thought process. At 10 years old I was a naive and inexperienced kid, in contrast Kilian was already on a path of greatness. It may not be a path that was pre determined, however, as we look back we can see that Kilian has not stumbled on this ability, this career, this destiny. With the passing of each year, he has created a legacy and should Kilian stop now at the age of 27, his list of records, results and palmares would quite happily last him to the end of his days.

“I have lost count of the weeks I have spent away from home, of the countries I have visited and the beds I have slept in. I began to compete 10-years ago and it has been 10-years of seeking to relive again-and-again the emotions and sensations that take me to the peak of ecstasy and make me live life at a pace more suited to a rock-and-roll musician.”

December is here and as runners all over the world slip into recovery and hibernation in preparation for the new-year, Kilian departs for the Andes and his attempt to set a record on Aconcagua.

In 2000 Brunod, Pelissier and Meraldi climbed from Plaza de Mulas in 3-hours 40-minutes to the summit and Carlos Sa did 15:42 from National Park Horcones. Two records, I wondered which Kilian would go for?

“I will go from the entrance and I will try to achieve both records. Also, Emelie Forsberg will try a female record too,” Replied Kilian to my question. “Aconcagua is easier than the Matterhorn. It’s rocky but not steep. Altitude is the big issue. You can get sick and have problems so the challenge is different. Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the western and southern hemisphere at just under 7000m.”

The first attempt to reach the summit of Aconcagua by a European was made in 1883 by a party led by the German geologist and explorer Paul Güssfeldt. Bribing porters with the story of treasure on the mountain, he approached the mountain via the Rio Volcan, making two attempts on the peak by the north-west ridge and reaching an altitude of 6,500 metres (21,300 ft). The route that he prospected is now the normal route up the mountain.

The first recorded ascent was in 1897 by a British expedition led by Edward FitzGerald. The summit was reached by the Swiss guide Matthias Zurbriggen on January 14 and by two other expedition members a few days later.

The youngest person to reach the summit of Aconcagua was Tyler Armstrong of California. He was nine years old when he reached the summit on December 24, 2013. The oldest person to climb it was Scott Lewis, who reached the summit on November 26, 2007 when he was 87 years old.

See Kilian Jornet on the UK’s Channel 4 News

http://bcove.me/knvesy10

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid601325122001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAAAEabvr4~,Wtd2HT-p_Vh4qBcIZDrvZlvNCU8nxccG&bclid=0&bctid=3915483972001

Pushing boundaries is what Kilian does. It is his DNA and as an appreciation and acknowledgement for his contribution to our sport, Kilian was voted: ‘Peoples’ Choice Adventurer of the Year’ by National Geographic.

As the coming days unfold, Kilian will test himself once again. He will push his own boundaries and he will ask questions of himself and those around him. To document the journey, Seb Montaz will once again record the action as it unfolds. We get to see the Catalan’s endeavors and achievements through the brilliance of Seb’s eyes. Believe me, as a photographer I not only appreciate the craft of a man at the pinnacle of sports imagery but also as climber and sportsman himself. Remember, Seb is on the mountain, often side-by-side with Kilian, matching his strides, following his movements and in doing so he captures moments that we can look on and savor. We are able to experience the brilliance of two pioneers.

We will see less of Kilian in 2015. A return trip to Hardrock 100 is almost certainly on the cards. After all, why wouldn’t he want both course records? But ultimately, Kilian will focus on Everest and the ultimate challenge that this mountain will provide.

“It’s completely different, it’s very high, 9000m. It’s very long and this is the biggest problem, to go all this way without oxygen and fast. The route is technical. I will start on the north face to prepare. It’s quiet so I will have no problems with people. I will need to prepare. I will go in spring, autumn and maybe the following spring. As per usual with all mountains, any attempt will be weather dependent. I expect to have several attempts.”

I am unsure what Kilian will do in the future… I think maybe even Kilian is unsure?

Aconcagua is a priority for now and then focus will shift to Everest; the big peak in the Himalayas.

Everest will dominate the mind of the Catalan. It will consume him and with meticulous preparation and he will conjure a plan… a plan that will take him to the top of the world!

Credits 'RUN or Die by Kilian Jornet, Wikipedia and Seb Montaz

 *****

Follow Kilian and his team in the Andes @kilianj @sebastienmontaz @summitsofmylife

Summits of my Life HERE

Kilian Jornet HERE

My interviews with Kilian:

The Human Carabiner – HERE

The Matterhorn Summit – HERE

You can also listen to Kilian Jornet on Talk Ultra podcast HERE

UPDATES

all content ©summitsofmylife

Dec 19th – 1:56pm

Today is the day!!! Kilian is right now trying to be the fastest person to climb up and down the Aconcagua!!! C’mon Kilian, you can make it!!! Gooo!!!‪#‎SoML‬

Dec 19th – 2:27pm

NEWS FROM ACONCAGUA: Kilian was not able to reach the summit on his attempt due to strong wind. He could reach up to 6.500m but 90km/h winds made the attempt completely impossible and he had to turn back. In Kilian’s words “I will try again soon” ‪#‎SoMLAConcagua‬

December 20th

“I consider this failed attempt like a big training in altitude” said to me kilian after running and climbing from Horcones ( 2950m) to 6200 m and back ( about 14h) with crazy 90km/h wind in his face.
Emelie and Kilian will be stronger for the next attempt!

December 21st

When things do not go as expected, you go fast back at the start point and you try it again (soon ‪#‎SoMLAconcagua‬

December 23rd

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Aconcagua 2nd Round!
Kilian is on his way trying to achieve another dream!!
You can see the long road to the Summit! Go Kilian!!!
We’ll Keep you posted! ‪#‎SoMLAconcagua‬

December 23rd 

Kilian passed Plaza de Mulas, Aconcagua’s Base Camp at 4.300m. He is feeling well because weather is good and not too windy. Let’s push him up to the summit!!! GOOOOO KILIAN!!!

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December 23rd 

BREAKING NEWS: Kilian reached the summit of Aconcagua and is back to Plaza de Mulas Base Camp. He feels well but still 25 more Km to go. Enjoy it and goooo!!! ‪#‎SoMLAconcagua‬

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The North Face Single Track Hayasa

TNF Single Track Hayasa

Fresh out of the box, The North FaceSingle Track Hayasa‘. I am a real fan of TNF products, the ‘Flight Series‘ in particular offers a great range of products that transfer to so many disciplines. Light, functional, well fitting, breathable and ultimately great quality. It’s nice to remove them from the packaging, put them on knowing that they will do the job.

In regard to run shoes, The North Face I guess are still ‘newbies’ and in the past they have received mixed reviews about the footwear they have created. I have to say I had the original ‘Single Track’, you know, the really great looking shoe… black, red & white. Not only did it look good but it felt good.

The ‘Single Track Hayasa‘ is a shoe designed for speed. Greatly influenced by TNF athlete  Tsuyoshi Kaburaki from Japan, Hayasa actually means ‘Speed’ in Japenese.

Tsuyoshi Kaburaki

Tsuyoshi Kaburaki

It is a shoe ready for racing and as such sits low to the ground with a 10mm heel to toe drop (8mm toe /18mm heel). Weighing in at just over 8 oz for such a lightweight shoe protection has not been compromised.

At the front of the shoe we have a puncture resistant toe cap and on the tip of the shoe, you do have additional rigidity. This will add some protection from kicking rocks etc. But in real terms and in comparison to other brands the toe bumper is relatively small. When we move to the rest of the upper, we can see that there is basically a lot of mesh. The shoe will drain really well and breathability will be excellent as you might expect.

TNF Single Track

Seams are extremely low in the upper and the TNF have used welded seams. The lace loops attach to an internal cage (see the silver/white). This fabric is on both sides of the shoe. When you lace up, it pulls on the fabric in and it wraps around your foot to create support.

The shoe when on with laces adjusted feels very snug and the tongue is gusseted and attached to the upper. It is very padded and in conjunction with a plush heel box the shoe is a pleasure to wear.

The toe box is wide and has plenty of room. Maybe too much room for some so it would be wise to check on sizing to ensure that you get the correct feel. I personally went a half size larger but I do wonder if I may well have been better going ‘true to size’.

TNF Hayasa

Starting just behind the toes and going to the back of the shoe is the ‘Snake Plate‘ (green). The snake plate is an alternative method to the standard ‘rock plate’ that you find in many trail shoes. Instead of one large plate, as the name suggests this one snakes in and out. The idea being increased flexibility. Ultimately, protection and flexibility combined that also means a saving in overall weight. The rear of the shoe has a ‘cradle‘. The cradle is created, like a bucket I guess for your foot to sit in. It provides stability and security. I have to say this is one key feature I initially like. Just walking around you immediately notice a firm hold.

Without doubt a neutral shoe with a 10mm drop. You have 8mm of foam at the front and 18mm at the rear of the shoe. In this ‘low drop’ and ‘minimalist’ environment 10mm may very well be snubbed by many but this shoe sits low to the ground and as such provides a very natural feel with protection and cushioning.

My initial concerns with this shoe are with the outsole. It has low profile lug which is ideal for road, hard pack trail and/ or rocky trail but in any mud they will be pretty much useless.  The front of the shoe has directional grip so when going uphill you have traction as and when required. In the heel the lugs are reverse facing which will add grip when going downhill (if required). The middle of the sole is void of grip.

Testing?

Well, that is to come.

I have been provided with these shoes to test in a Jungle environment so please keep an eye on my blog for an update in February. Until then I will be running on some road, hard trail and even some mud to see how the Hayasa perform before heading deep into a rainforest…

SPECS

Upper:

  • Lightweight, minimal upper construction
  • TPUwelded support overlays
  • Lightly protective toe cap
  • Perforated EVA Northotic™ footbed

Bottom:

  • TPU and EVA CRADLE™ heel-cushioning and stability technology
  • 18 mm/8 mm heel/forefoot heights
  • Dual-density, compression-molded EVA midsol
  • Blown rubber forefoot
  • High-abrasion rubber heel
  • TPU Snake Plate™ forefoot protection

Shoe Technologies:

NorthFit: The mission of NorthFit™ is to scientifically provide the outdoor athlete with the most precise fit between the human foot and a footwear last, as they both relate to the demands of the specific activity for which the shoe is worn

Snake Plate: The Snake Plate™ consists of a plate that winds back and forth in the forefoot, allowing the foot to flex in a natural manner while delivering protection and rigidity.

Northotic: Biomechanically engineered Northotic™: The North Face® has taken the conventional footbed and elevated it to a superior level with enhanced stability, support and cushioning.

Cradle: The North Face® CRADLE™ technology is engineered to naturally absorb impact, stabilise the foot and promote an anatomically correct stride by supporting the perimeter of the heel and ensuring the fatty tissues under the bursa are biomechanically positioned. CRADLE™ achieves the perfect balance of protection, control and comfort to inspire confidence for any foot on any terrain.

Tenacious Grip: Tenacious™ Grip is a high-abrasion, sticky rubber designed for maximum off-trail traction that will also withstand the rigors of rough off-trail surfaces.

X-Dome: X-Dome™ functions as a heel-cushioning and propulsion mechanism that propels the foot from heel-strike into the subsequent stride stages.

The Long Pathway – Jez Bragg

TE ARAROA TRAIL

INTERVIEW available from the press conference HERE

 

So, Jez Bragg or should we call him ‘Frodo’ is heading off on an epic journey that I am pretty sure we would all love to embark on… 3000+km in New Zealand on the TE ARAROA TRAIL starting at the top of North Island and heading all the way down to the bottom of the South Island. Epic.

He leaves the UK in early December and starts on the trail on the 12th. He has a crew of two and in the new year when he reaches the south, Jez will be joined by his The North Face team mate, Mike Wolfe.

Dedicated crew

But this is no ordinary journey, not only will Jez be running and walklng from top to bottom of New Zealand, he will also be kayaking 100+km to cross all sections of water. He plans to complete the journey in 50 days which equates to 40 miles per day.

His crew will have a mobile home for the duration of the adventure but as Jez explained, he will at times ‘fast pack’ on the route to save time and maximise daily mileage. To this end The North Face have developed some specific kit for Jez that he will be able to use. A new double skin tent, a new sleeping bag, a new ‘base’ layer, new shoes, new packs and new jackets. Some of these items will be in-store 2013 but others will only be available 2014. Before you all ask… the new lightweight race vest will be 2014! I know, nice bit of kit eh!

PRODUCTS: look HERE

  • Casimir 36 Pack
  • Alpine Project Jacket
  • Stormy Trail Jacket
  • Stormy Trail Pant
  • Hypertrack Guide Shoe
  • ‘Better than Naked’ Hat, SS shirt and shorts
  • Capri Tight
  • Mica 1 PL Tent
  • Hightail 25 Sleeping Bag
  • plus other equipment such as the light weight race vest

Journeys of this scale and size are what The North Face are experts in. They love the possibility to test out equipment and develop what is required by consumers before it hits the shops. Jez will have multiple kit options available whilst in New Zealand and use a variety of equipment that will suit the days of changeable weather.

I caught up with Jez at the Press Conference in central London and talked with him about the journey ahead, the preparation and what it is like getting ready for 50 days of running 40 miles a day. This audio will be available within episode 22 of Talk Ultra available for dowload on iTunes and talkultra.com on November 16th. However, you can listen to the interview with Jez HERE (this is the same audio as linked at the top of the page)

Jez_Bragg_Te_Araroa_Special.mp3

Here is a BIO on Jez Bragg:

In a sport when it’s often the older competitors who excel, Jez has stood out for the seven years he’s been running ultras as a youngster on a mission. He arrived in the sport by chance more than anything else. His school and early university days all centred round the rugby field where playing six or seven days a week embedded a high level of fitness from the start.

“I have a little theory that my inner strength – which is so important to ultra running – came directly from my upbringing; playing a lot of rugby, climbing trees, riding my bike, all sorts of  physical activities, usually in a relentless fashion. It was undoubtedly the foundations for the level of endurance I have today.”

Jez picked up ultra running as a ‘natural’ progression from the marathon that he trained for as a one off charity challenge 2001. The attraction of ultra distance trail running came from a combination of a love for the outdoors, the excitement of adventure and the endurance embedded from his upbringing.

“Every long run in a new place provides a wonderful opportunity to explore. To me it is one of the greatest attractions of the sport; being able to cover long distances, non-stop, on foot, getting to the places that most can’t reach. To be solo, on foot, creates a wonderful sense of freedom in a world where day-to-day life is increasingly frantic. There are few sports that offer such a pure and unhindered way in which to explore the hills, mountains and countryside. When you run in places such as the Highlands of Scotland, the scenery inspires and gives strength to push you further. That’s what it’s all about for me.”

Jez won his first trail ultra marathon in emphatic fashion and has gone on to win most others he has started since then, establishing himself as one of the world’s leading ultra distance runners, both on the trails and the road.

Jez now has his sights firmly set on the global scene, building on the success of his biggest performance to date, a win at The North Face® Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in August 2010.

Home: Dorset, on the south coast of England, with the best variety of trail running I have found anywhere.

Favourite Place to Travel: The Highlands of Scotland – working my way through the Munros and exploring the wild glens where it’s truly unspoilt.

Favourite Food: A home cooked Sunday roast.

Favourite Book: I’m not much of a reader, but I do have a habit of spending hours gazing at maps and plotting routes across the most inaccessible places I can find! I have a unique ability to plan an off road loop quicker than most.

How I Relax: An early morning coastal path run followed by a swim in the sea.

Little known fact: I don’t train to a specific plan, instead I ‘listen’ to my body and run hard when I feel good, and easier when I’m not quite ‘flowing’.

Best Ever Run: The West Highland Way, Scotland, in June 2006. I have run much faster and stronger since, but for pure enjoyment it tops them all.

Where it all began: Riding my bike, climbing trees, adventures as a kid.

‘Running’ Philosophy: Enjoy and feel the transition of the seasons, explore new areas, push yourself beyond your limits, run for a true sense of freedom, drift along and day dream.

Career Highlights:

2011

2nd place – The Highland Fling Ultramarathon, Scotland
1st place – The Fellsman. Course Record – 10h 06m

4th place – Western States 100, Sierra Nevada Mountains, CA

7th place – The North Face® Endurance Challenge Final, San Francisco

2010

1st place – The North Face® Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc
6th place – The North Face® Endurance Challenge Final, San Francisco

2009

1st place – The Highland Fling Ultramarathon, Scotland. Course record – 7h 19m

1st place – UK 100km Championships, Galway, Ireland. Personal best – 6hrs 58m

1st place – Commonwealth 100km Championships, Lake District, UK

1st place – The Fellsman, Yorkshire Dales, UK

3rd place – Western States 100, Sierra Nevada Mountains, CA

3rd place – The Lakeland 100, Lake District, UK

2008

1st place – Connemara Ultramarathon, Ireland

1st place – Devil O’ The Highlands Ultramarathon, Scotland. Course record – 5h 22m

1st place – The Highland Fling Ultramarathon, Scotland. Course record – 7h 24m

2007

1st place – The Highland Fling Ultramarathon, Scotland. Course record – 7h 26m

1st place – UK 100km Championships, Edinburgh, Scotland.

18th place – World 100km Championships, Netherlands.

2006

1st place- The West Highland Way Race, Scotland. Course record – 15h 44mins

1st place – High Peak 40/ UK Trail Championships

1st place – The Long Mynd 50, Shropshire

1st place – Round Rotherham 50, Yorkshire

Here is the blog post from Jez himself:

Today I was in London to launch an exciting winter project which has been in planning for over a year now. Starting on 12th December 2012 (12/12/12) I will be tackling the brand new Te Araroa trail in New Zealand – a whopping 3,054km in distance – aiming to complete the full route in under 50 days.
This is a completely new type of challenge for me, moving away from the racing scene for a little while to tackle what will be a trully epic and memorable journey down the full length of New Zealand, from the tip of the North island in Cape Reigna, to the tip of the South island in Bluff.
I presented an overview of the expedition at the launch event today. The objective is:

“A solo, fastest time attempt, running the 3,054 kilometre Te Araora trail in New Zealand.”

There will be plenty more information coming out in the next couple of weeks to fill you in on the detail of the expedition but for now check out the official trail website for more information on the challenge that lies ahead for me :o)