A study that shows running may be good for your knees!

Hello!

Science geek alert! Here’s some information about knees and running for you to muse over.

The other week I came across a really interesting article published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology that showed running appears to reduce inflammation in knee joints and may be beneficial for long-term joint health.

That’s right, running might actually keep your knees healthy.

Researchers from Brigham Young University in Utah measured inflammatory markers in synovial fluid taken from the knee joints of six healthy people before and after running for 30 minutes.

Specifically, they measured the concentration of two proteins (GM-CSF and IL-15) that indicate the presence of inflammation and have been associated with the development of joint disease.

They found that levels of both proteins went down after 30 minutes of running, suggesting a decrease in inflammation in the joint. The researchers also performed a control test, taking fluid samples before and after a 30 minute seated rest. During that test, protein levels did not change.

The study was very small: samples were taken from only six participants. But the researchers felt the study was valuable because it’s the first to measure these inflammatory markers in the knees of healthy people before and after exercise. In that sense it’s groundbreaking.

So the concern that running is bad for our knees is getting more and more to be an old wives tale.

Here’s the link to the article on Pubmed.

Eur J Appl Physiol (2016) 116:2305-2314

Enjoy the rest of your weekend! Happy, healthy running 🙂

 

 

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Club Fat Ass North Shore Enduro Trail Run

Hello!

My running mojo’s been gone for months now. But I’m hoping with the nearly-here summer I’ll get that mojo back. The summer … and joining in with some running groups.

And so, with a can-do attitude, I went along to the Club Fat Ass North Shore Enduro event this morning in North Vancouver, BC. The Club Fat Ass people are a fun, relaxed group to run with and they put on a lot of cool events.

And look, here they are this morning at the gazebo at the Lower Seymour Conservation Area in North Vancouver. I’m the little head right at the back. We’re about to start.

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Their North Shore Enduro is a six hour event with numerous course options. And there’s absolutely no need to run for the whole six hours!! I did one of the ‘Lynn Peak Loop’ loops. This gave me 13.7km and 897m of elevation gain. Yeah! A good solid workout.

But more than the workout  I loved being back running the Lynn Valley trails – my favourite trails in North Vancouver. I’d been away too long. The majestic trees in Lynn Valley always give out some kind of spiritual energy. And I soaked all up. All that lovely woodland chi.

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Here’s me at the top of Lynn Peak.

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And there was still snow up there.

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For a new season’s running, I got some new shoes: Brooks Cascadia. I last ran in Cascadias two or three years ago and today reminded me of how much I used to love them. They went on my feet fresh out the box this morning. And they were great! They were comfy and grippy and responsive. They did the job just nicely on the rooty, rocky, wet, snowy, steep North Shore trails.

So, after finding contentment in the woods today I can’t wait for my next trail run 🙂

Here’s a link to my strava if you’re interested in the route.

Have a great Sunday you guys! Enjoy every moment.

A Royal Run at the London Marathon

You never know who you might see at a big city marathon!

Just less than a week ago I ran the London Marathon and had an amazing day soaking up the brilliant carnival atmosphere. I hadn’t done any proper marathon training for it (ie no long runs!), but there was enough endurance in my old legs to see me around the 26 and a bit miles without suffering too, too much  – the last hour, though, as always, was hard! But I loved every minute of it and was awe-struck by the mind-boggling number of runners taking part. I was even more awe-struck by the mind-boggling number of spectators; crowds and crowds of cheering people lined every inch of those London streets. And the roar of support was never ending. It pushed you on and on.

Yes, the atmosphere was incredible, and my plan was to run/walk, soak it all up and take some photos along the way.

And talking of photos … well, I got one with The Royals! At around the 10 km mark, just before the Cutty Sark, I saw in front of me a crew of people from the Heads Together charity, recognisable by the blue colour of their banners and the blue headbands some were wearing – the same headbands that were given out to all us runners this year in our Expo goody bags.

Heads Together is a mental health charity and was the London marathon’s Charity of the Year for this year. Representing the charity were no other than The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. And guess what! There they were, up ahead of me, William, Kate and Harry, in the middle of the Heads Together crew, cheering and supporting their runners. I just had to go up to them and take a selfie…

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… and this shot too …

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I fumbled with my iPhone camera buttons for many minutes while taking the shots and one of the bodyguards said to me, “well there goes your three hour marathon”. Ha, ha, funny guy!!

It’s awesome that a mental health charity got centre stage at the London marathon. Not only that but support from Royalty!

About the charity – this is taken from the Heads Together website:

Too often, people feel afraid to admit that they are struggling with their mental health. This fear of prejudice and judgement stops people from getting help and can destroy families and end lives. Heads Together wants to help people feel much more comfortable with their everyday mental wellbeing and have the practical tools to support their friends and family.

Being the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon Charity of the Year was the perfect springboard for the Heads Together campaign. Seeing hundreds of runners hitting the streets of London during the marathon to end the stigma and change the conversation on mental health once and for all was incredible!

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry are spearheading the Heads Together campaign to end stigma around mental health. Heads Together aims to change the national conversation on mental health and wellbeing, and is a partnership with inspiring charities with decades of experience in tackling stigma, raising awareness, and providing vital help for people with mental health challenges.

Also, I caught the three Royals for a second time! That’s to say, at the world famous finish line on the Mall where they were giving out medals. Here are William and Harry again …

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I was in line to receive my medal from Kate, but she saw me hobbling towards her and did a runner before I got to the front of the queue and my medal. Never mind!

Another great day of running and of memories. Yeah!

Have a great day!

Running route in Edinburgh; a lovely early morning run

Last Saturday morning (which was April Fool’s Day!) I found myself beside the ticket machine at Glasgow Queen Street Station collecting my Glasgow to Edinburgh train ticket. As I pulled the ticket out from behind the plastic flap, I thought to myself, ‘well getting to Edinburgh is going to be a helluva lot easier than originally planned!’

You see, at the last minute I bailed from the Glasgow to Edinburgh Ultra (55 miles). I’d been looking forward to it–another ultra in my homeland–but my training leading up to the race was a fraction of what it should have been to get me from start to finish (even considering the course had been cut short by a mile!) Trying out my running legs in the days before, I realised it was silly to think I could run 54 miles.

But I’d booked a hotel in Edinburgh and had also made plans to visit a friend not too far from that beautiful city, a city I love to visit. So I went! Not by foot, but by train! Needless to say, the journey was a breeze!

And good things happened that weekend. I got to have a run in Edinburgh, on a sunny spring morning, very early and long before the crowds were up. It was a great wee run, taking in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile and Holyrood Park.

Here are some pics and the route.

First, my squiggly strava image of the route.Screen Shot 2017-04-07 at 1.43.06 PM

 

The hotel where I stayed was close to Haymarket (I’d chosen a hotel that was only a short hobble from the finish line of my race-that-didn’t-happen) and from the hotel I ran to Princes Street gardens and past The Ross Fountain. The plaque next to the fountain tells its history and tells that, for now, the fountain is switched off, apparently because water was leaking into the monument’s structure; so experts are having to figure out what repairs are needed to prevent damage to this magnificent piece of history.

 

Not far from the fountain is the Norwegian Brigade War Memorial, which is a great big boulder made of gneiss. You can read the inscription and ponder the words, as I did. Jeez, thinking about that era always makes me feel so humble.

It reads: During the war years 1940-45 the Norwegian brigade and other army units were raised and trained in Scotland where we found hospitality, friendship and hope during dark years of exile. In grateful memory of our friends and allies on these isles. This stone was erected in the year 1978

 

I left Princes Street Gardens and found a nice stair workout up towards the castle esplanade.

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Up there on the castle esplanade, I saw council workmen emptying bins, a couple of walkers, and one other runner. Other than that, the palce was empty! The castle looked so lovely in the quiet morning sunshine.

 

Heading down the Royal Mile I came across, down a narrow alley, a sign for The Writer’s Museum. Now, I’ve got to return to have a look in there.

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Here’s a couple more pics from the Royal Mile. There were a lot of white vans and cables around and I’m guessing from the looks of it that there’s currently a film or TV show being filmed on these mean, ancient streets.

 

I headed downhill and passed by The Scottish Parliament and “Our Dynamic Earth”, before heading back uphill. Yeah, I was in Holyrood Park. I took the trail that wound below Salisbury crags heading uphill towards Arthur’s seat with amazing views of Edinburgh and beyond. I was blessed with a clear day so got these nice shots.

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OK, here’s a funny sign seen on the trail up to Arthur’s seat.

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I more or less retraced my route back to the hotel stopping to take a picture of the Scott Monument. It was built after Scottish author Sir Walter Scott’s death in 1832 and is the largest monument to a writer in the world! Get that!

 

I jogged the final stretch of Princes Street gardens. More people were up and about but it was still pretty quiet.

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I headed back to the hotel to get my stuff,  before walking the mile or so back to Waverly Station to get a train to see my friend. So out of a failed ultra, I had a great couple of days in Edinburgh.

Last Chance marathon, Bellingham, 31st Dec 2016: Race review

Hello and happy new year.  I hope your 2017 is off to a good start 🙂

So, I managed to find a race to run on the very last day of 2016. I can’t think of a better way of finishing off a year than with a race – a lovely trail marathon at that. The race was The Last Chance Marathon in Bellingham, Washinton. That’s just a hop, skip and a jump over the border to the USA from home-sweet-home in BC, Canada.

There were two events, a marathon and half-marathon. For the marathon, we ran two out-and-back sections on the interurban trail, starting at Fairhaven Park Pavilion with the turn around at Clayton Beach. You can probably guess that the half-marathon was one out-and-back section. There was an early start if you wanted it, an hour before the main start at 9 am.

It was a lovely route on undulating soft trails, under a canopy of trees and peering through the trees in some places you could see the ocean. The day was damp and chilly, and towards the end, we got to run under falling snow which didn’t come to much but, hey, it was lovely to run with the snowflakes floating down in front of you.

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Happy Runner at the Last Chance Marathon. Thanks to Takao Suzuki for photo

I really enjoyed this marathon. The last one I’d done, I started too fast and finished with a painful hobble for the never-ending second-half. This one, I paced sensibly and finished strong. Always a good feeling 🙂 I finished mid-pack which I’m always overjoyed with when doing any marathon or ultra.

This was a great event: a lovely course; great aid stations; great organisation; great post-race food (vegan option of yummy spicy soup)

I used this race as my final long training run for my next ultra. Hmm….that’s going to be the Coldwater 100 miler on 21st January. I can’t believe that I’m trying another 100, that I’m heading into that great unknown again…yikes!! As well, it’s in the desert. Hope it’s not too hot as it’s freezing here. I’m thinking about going to the sauna for heat training 🙂

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Hoping to finish strong! Takao Suzuki photo

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Everybody got a nice ‘buff’ and finisher’s medal. Billy’s showing mine off.

Backcountry skiing: Al’s Habrich Ridge trail from Sea to Sky Gondola, Squamish

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It’s mid-winter, and yesterday morning bright and early my buddy Mig and I met in the carpark at the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish. It was sunny and cold and snowy! Yeah! Here in Southern BC, we’re having our snowiest winter for a few years. Mig and I planned to skin up then ski down one of the trails at the top of the gondola for our first trip together of this snowy, lovely winter.

We jumped in the gondola eager as beavers and rode up. Jings the carriage swayed and swung on its way to the top. The morning breeze was pretty fearsome!

Over coffee in the excellent lodge at the top of the gondola, I suggested we do Al’s Habrich Ridge Trail. It has jaw-dropping views down to the Squamish valley and across to the Tantalus Range, and also across to the majestic Mount Garibaldi.

 

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The top of the gondola

 

And so, we skinned up the first section of groomed trail, which led us nicely to powder. Deep powder! There were a couple of skiers ahead of us and we followed their tracks up the undulating ridge, winding between the snow-laden trees. The trail was steep with tight turns and just lovely. Lovely for now!

 

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Mig on the trail

 

We soon got our views.

 

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Looking down to the Squamish valley, the Tantalus Range is peeking in

 

 

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Mig on the plateau

 

 

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A snowy lollipop

 

At the plateau, which was our turning point, we peeled off our skins and prepared for the descent. I was a little anxious. It was going to be a tad difficult skiing down through the powder and trees: double black diamond in my book! Lots of early-season hazards like tree wells too! “You go first, Mig,” I said. Mig’s a better skier than me.

“No, you go first,” said Mig.

“No, you go.”

“No, you go.”

“Oh, ok,” I said and set off. It was soon obvious that skiing down our up-trail was way too hard for us. It was narrow, it was tight, it was steep in places, and it wound in and out of the trees with their scary, scary tree wells. We were surrounded by deep powder, drop-offs and undulating terrain.

Picking our way down, we both cursed and swore a lot. I chose to try to ski the ready-made track in some places and untracked powder in others. At one place, going too close to a tree, I suddenly disappeared up to my armpits in snow. I was in a tree well. At least I had gone in skis first and not head first! I was well and truly stuck but after a lot of wriggling about and a few expletives, I managed to unclip my boots from my skis and unstick myself from my predicament. Then after a lot pulling and digging, I got my skis out from the deep depths of the snowy hole – a good workout!

Ha, ha, we were off again and finally we popped out onto the groomed trail.

“I love corduroy, ” said Mig, and she was off.

What a great day!

 

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