Saturday, 5 March 2011

MBT shoes

I am not normally one for following all the latest fads, but today I thought I would buy a pair of MBT shoes to check out if they are really as good as they say they are.  The vendor told me that the models are more or less the same in terms of the technology, except for the sports models which are narrower and have even more of a curved sole.  I decided I would go for one of these models.

For those who don't know MBT shoes they are not the prettiest shoes on the market but they are designed to simulate walking on sand barefoot and the sole is curved so your leg muscles have to work more.  Hence why they are called "the active shoe".  They are also meant to put less pressure on your joints and to help stretch your soft tissues.

I have worn them for about 3 hours today and the sensation is certainly different.  It does indeed feel like walking barefoot on the beach, which in my opinion is extremely pleasurable.  I am not finding it tiring on my muscles but I can feel my knee working a little to create stability.  This will either be a good thing or a bad thing for my runners knee depending on if they work my knee just enough to strengthen it or too much and hence aggravate it.

I will let you know how I get on with them in due course.

Friday, 4 March 2011

This week's training summary

The week started off with a rest day on Monday.  I needed this after the weekend of snowboarding in Klosters.  Then on Tuesday morning I went to another physio session, the 8th one so far, and we did some further ultrasound and work on the wobbleboard.  This at least gave my calfs some stretching and then at lunchtime I did yoga which helped to stretch them even more.   Normally I would have my weekly sports massage on Tuesday but this week I had to wait till Thursday.

On Wednesday lunchtime I went running with my colleague but she wasn't feeling so great and she told me to go on ahead so she could go back in her own time.  Given a free reign of the woods I decided 3 laps instead of the usually single lap was in order.  In total I was running for 1.5 hours and I felt pretty darn good.

Thursday evening I went running with my little four legged friend who goes under the name of Negrita.  I decided we would climb the Uetliberg together, but since it was pitch black the road way seemed more appropriate than the route through the woods, which would give the risk of twisting an ankle or worse.  I don't know why but I find night running is sometimes better than day running as everything is so peaceful and usually there is a slight nip in the air which helps ensure you don't overheat.  The total running time was 2 hours and Negrita seemed absolutely fine with that.

This morning (Friday) was what may hopefully be my final physio session.  We spent the whole session stretching and at the end we both agreed that I should now try to go without physio for a while and see how I get on.  I think the most important focal point will be the post exercise stretching as this really seems to alleviate any soreness in my knee.  Lunchtime was then yoga and although it wasn't as tough as some of the previous lessons it was certainly not an easy one either.  It is always amusing to watch the faces of people trying to hold the poses for as long as the teacher wants, but whose bodies clearly don't want them to do so.  Also I noticed some of the men try a lot harder than the women to please the teacher but that may be due to her attractiveness.

The weekend has now arrived and the plan is for it to be an active one.  Tomorrow at 10am I have a private Pilates lesson and then later in the morning I need to go to Holmes Place and get my membership card, now that they have been kind enough to let me use their facilities to train for free.  I also want to try and fit in a long run of between 2.5 and 3 hours this weekend, and since we plan to go cross country skiing in Studen on Sunday it will most likely need to be tomorrow.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Fundraising success - first corporate sponsor!!!!!!!!!!

Tonight I am proud to announce something that I have mentioned a couple of times before in passing, but where previously I couldn't give any details, now I can.  If you recall I mentioned that I was in talks with a potential corporate sponsor.  Well now it is final and I have all the details that I need.

The corporate sponsor is (drum roll please.......) Holmes Place Gym and Spa in Zurich.  Most people in Zurich are only too familiar with Holmes Place.  It has a fantastic location on the top two floors of Jelmoli and is the place to be seen working out.  Holmes Place have very kindly agreed to let me use their facilities for free in order to train, and in addition to donate a 12 month full membership to the gym and spa, which I can use as a raffle prize to attract further sponsorship.  I have the right to divide the 12 months in for example 2 memberships of 6 months, and this is what I have decided to do.  The total of the combined prizes (2 sets of 6 months memberships to the gym and spa) is worth up to 3,000CHF (approx. 2,000GBP).  For more details you can see Holmes Place Zurich or Holmes Place Zurich Spa.

I have decided that I will use my existing fundraising page in order to simplify the collection of monies and so that I can keep the whole process as transparent as possible.  To enter people need to go to my fundraising page ( and donate a minimum of 20GBP and mention the words HOLMES PLACE in their message in order to be entered.  They also need to enter their name (anonymous donors will not be entered in the draw).  To encourage larger donations, each 20GBP multiple is an additional chance to win, so 20GBP represents 1 chance to win and 40GBP represents 2 chances to win and so on.  The winning names will be drawn out of a hat at the Holmes Place gym in Zurich in March of next year.  I will then announce the name of the winner, and the date of the winning donation, on my fundraising page and ask the two winners to contact me.  In order to deal with any issues caused by multiple people replying to me, or multiple donors with the same name, you will need to retain your credit card slip or bank statement that shows the donation you made.

Please note that the membership will only be valid for the central Zurich branch of Holmes Place, and for this reason it will not be of interest to people living outside of the Zurich area.  The final point to note is that if you do enter the competition your donation will not be eligible for GiftAid since I am offering an incentive to donate, so please deselect the GiftAid option.  GiftAid for those who aren't familiar with it is a scheme for UK taxpayers whereby the UK government encourages people to donate to charity by allowing the charity to reclaim the tax that has been paid on that money, further increasing the value of the donation.

Best of luck to all of you in Zurich (even if you don't know me you now have a reason to donate)!

Weekend of snowboarding and cross country skiing in Klosters

Klosters is not just a place for the royal family but also a nice place for anyone who likes skiing/snowboarding.  It is a lovely little village and the only slight disappointment was the lack of après-ski and nightlife.  There were 5 of us in total, all Brits.  As if the village wasn't full enough of Brits already I am sure the locals were thinking :))

We arrived on Friday around lunchtime, a little late in the day to hire equipment, take the cable cars to the top, and get in enough skiing and snowboarding to make the ski pass good value for money.  For this reason we decided to do some cross country skiing.  Two of my friends opted to try skating style for the very first time and the other two opted to stick with classic style.  Of the two that tried skating style one was a natural and I am sure he could pick up a great technique if he took a couple of lessons.  We didn't get so far but it was a nice outing and a nice warm up ready for a full day of skiing/boarding the next day.

The next two days were pretty full on in terms of the number of runs we fitted in and the time spent on the pistes and not sitting down in the restaurants.  Two of us opted for a little lie-in on Sunday morning but the others were out on the pistes as soon as they opened.   I think I wouldn't have been quite so tired if I hadn't got up at 6.40am on Saturday morning to go running with one of my friends.

This was my first time snowboarding this season, and my calfs were aching a lot.  I probably should have spent a little more time stretching as the aching got quite bad by the third day.  On Monday morning two of us decided to stay in town and take some relaxation time whilst the other wanted to round off the holiday with another session of hardcore boarding.  All in all it was a nice active long weekend.

The airport may look small from the air but it is much bigger from the ground

As you may recall my 3 week break from running has now ended.  I started off last Monday by doing a run after work, and then the next day I did feel some tenderness in my knee, which really worried me.  But that same day (Tuesday) I had a sports massage which also included some stretching work, and after that my knee felt normal again.

Last Wednesday lunchtime I did my usual lunchtime run with work colleagues.  The day after that my knee felt completely normal.  I was hoping therefore that whatever stretches we did during the massage session on Tuesday had sorted out whatever had caused me the tenderness on Tuesday morning.

I decided now it was time to pick up the distance in order to stand any chance of still doing the Zurich marathon in April.  Some friends of mine from the UK were coming out for a long weekend of skiing and snowboarding, arriving on Thursday night, so I planned an after work run around the airport, allowing me just enough time to take a shower and then head to the airport to meet my friends.

There was only one snag and that was that I seriously underestimated how long it would take to run around the airport.  It only seems like a small airport but the outer perimeter is not that short taking into account the runways extending out in different directions and the fact that it isn't always possible to follow the perimeter fence.  In total it took me 2 hours from work, around the airport outer perimeter, and then back to work.  The last part along the river was pretty muddy and I was slipping and sliding all over the place.

It was actually quite interesting scenery wise being able to watch the planes coming into land and taking off.  There seem to be a lot of small farms dotted around the perimeter fence, and there are also some nice wooded areas.  I would like to try that run again but maybe this time during the day as it is quite spooky doing it in the pitch black.