Lindfield Rotary Fun Run: 7 tips for success

LINDFIELD FUN RUN START for site background

This year sees the 22nd running of the  Lindfield Rotary 5K AND 10K Fun Run, and it still has got to be one of the best value fun runs going around. A family of up to 6 people can run a 10km race for $65. That’s one dollar and eight cents per km!

Both the 5k and 10k courses are certified accurate courses, and VERY challenging, which makes it all the more satisfying when you cross the finish line

As well as  challenges, the course also presents opportunities. Here are some tips for taking advantage of the course.

Think tortoise, not hare

Whilst slow and steady may not win you the race, it will see you finishing without blowing up. All long distance world records (at least last time I checked) have been set on what’s called a “negative split” – the second half of the race is faster than the first half. That is, the runner is conservative enough in the first half of the race to avoid excessive fatigue, enabling them to maintain running efficiency. Whilst you may not be a world record holder, you will fare better if you keep something in the tank for the 2nd half of the race, especially as there is a fairly substantial hill at the back half of the 4th km (and the 8th km if you are running the 10k).

If you’re running the 10k, divide the run into quarters, and plan to run each quarter slightly faster than the last. This might mean the first quarter feels quite slow.

Hug the corners

The fun run twists and turns along suburban streets in Roseville and Lindfield. Make sure that you are taking the shortest route possible. You want to stay on the inside of the turn. So if the road is turning around to the right, you want to be on the right hand side of the road. Look ahead of you to see where the road is going, and if you can’t see the road up ahead, looking up at the houses on either side of the road ahead of you will give you a clue.

If you doubt that it makes that much difference, look at it this way. Your local athletics track usually has 8 lanes. Each of these lanes is 7.66m longer than the lane immediately to the inside of it. So, the distance around the track in  lane one is 400m, and the distance around the track in lane eight is  461.28m. That’s why  they stagger the start in 200m and 400m races. Hugging the corners can save you a lot of extra meterage!

Don’t hug the corners

Having said that, hugging the corner is not always the quickest route. Sometimes the inside running can be a lot steeper if you’re going up hill. You can be better off taking the corner a bit wider where it’s a bit flatter. And the inside curb can get a trifle crowded in some fun runs, particularly in the first part of a large race. Sometimes you’re better off running slightly wider so you can stick to your own rhythm and not be jostled by other enthusiasts.

Use good uphill technique

Use good form to help make hill running easy. If you overdo it on the uphill, you can be left sapped of all your energy. Instead, try turning your legs over more quickly, and reducing the length of your stride.

Don’t rest on the downhill

You can gain massive amounts of time if you know how to run downhill well. It’s easier to employ good downhill technique if you’ve got a good level of aerobic fitness, as you need to be able to turn your legs over really quickly, and lean with the hill. A good dose of confidence in your own ability not to fall over doesn’t to astray either!

Watch out for kids

In the 5km particularly, beware of kids who are likely to dart across in front of you, or come to a dead stop right where you were about to take your next step.

Stay off the footpath

The course is on the road, not on the footpath. Taking a sneaky corner cut on the footpath is not only poor etiquette, it also may not help you that much. In many places across the Lindfield course, the incline of the path is greater than the road, so will be tougher if you stay on the footpath. Mostly, you have to leap up over the gutter and across spongy thick grass to get to the path, which will also interrupt your rhythm.

Walking breaks could be a faster option if your training is lacking

If you think you might be a bit underdone for this race, but you want to get the best time you can, then consider walking up some of the hills. It will take a lot less out of you than running, and you won’t lose very much time at all if you take a 100m walk a few times through the race. I’m definitely underdone for this one, but I also like to think I’m “on the comeback trail” so I plan to run it as a training run. I’m planning on running the whole way with a negative split, and finishing strong. To race well, you have to practice racing well.

Neither of these goals (walking some of the run to get the fastest time you are capable of on the day, or running the whole course without walking) is superior to the other. It’s just a good idea to know which way you want to do it before you start.

Here’s a blow by blow of what to expect on the Lindfield fun run course

Lindfield Rotary Fun Run 5km course profile

This is the 5km course profile. The 10km is two laps of the course. You can see the course deserves some respect!

Parts of the run reach a 14% gradient, which is about the same gradient as the steepest part of Heartbreak Hill in the City to Surf.

Start to 1km

This is the profile of the course from the start to around the bottom of Slade Ave.

Lindfield Rotary Fun Run 1st km

The course starts on a slight downhill and after a couple of hundred metres kicks up to a reasonably sharp uphill of about an 8% grade. It’s roughly 75m, so you don’t notice it so much. At the top of this little hill, you make a sharp right turn, so you’ll want to position yourself towards the right hand side of the start area if possible.

Most of the first km is downhill. Unless you’re at the front of the pack you won’t be able to make the most of the downhill at the very start of the race, as there’ll be too many people around you, but once your through the first 500m or so, the pack will start to thin out and you can put in a good downhill spurt to the bottom of Slade Ave.

1km – 2.3km

Bottom of Slade Ave to cnr Northcote Rd and Nelson Rd

Lindfield Rotary Fun Run

Your 2nd kilometre is where you’ll meet the first of the big hills. Slade Avenue reaches a gradient of 14% in parts. It runs into Northcote Rd, twisting and turning for about 500m of uphill. As you run up the first part of Slade Avenue, you should be towards the right hand side of the road. The first turn is a right hand turn, closely followed by a left hand turn. This second turn, the left hand turn is an example of the inside running on the corner being a lot steeper than a couple of metres out from the curb, so you’ll probably stick to the middle of the road for that corner.

You’ll enjoy a short downhill reprieve when you turn into Dangar St If you get your downhill running right here, you can make up quite a bit of ground on other runners. The course flattens out into Smith St, before climbing up another 500m along McKenzie St and Northcote Rd to the corner of Nelson Ave. This hill is a 3-6% gradient, so not nearly as severe as Slade Avenue.

2.3km -4km

Nelson Rd to corner of Trafalgar Ave and Clanville Rd

Lindfield Rotary Fun Run 2.3-4km

Personally, I don’t think Trafalgar Ave (that’s the steep bit at the end of this leg) is nearly as challenging as Slade Avenue. The steepest part is between Chelmsford Ave and just pastMarjorie St with a gradient of 6-8.5%. The kicker is the 200m after that. You’re still looking at a 5% gradient for 100m or so, and then another slight rise of about 3% gradient till you get to Clanville Rd.

Before you get to the bottom of Trafalgar Ave, you need to negotiate the downhill running of Nelson Ave. As you turn left from Northcote Rd into Nelson Ave, stick to the left hand side of the road. There is another left hand turn about half way down the hill, which then goes quickly into a right hand turn, so you can pretty much run in a straight line across the road to take the shortest route. Make sure you take a quick glance around you so you don’t trip anyone over who may not be expecting you to cross the road.

You’ll take another steep little uphill before turning out of Nelson Rd into Tryon Rd, followed by a right turn into Short st. I took the right hand footpath along Tryon Rd when I was running this route the other day and it was a very sharp turn into Short St, so I’d advise against the footpath option. Stay on the road a couple of metres out from the curb, and take the turn a bit wider.

After Short St, you turn right into Valley Rd, which can give the uninitiated a nasty surprise. This is just a short stretch of road, but the gradient reaches 11%, in parts.

4km -5km

Corner of Clanville Rd and Trafalagar Ave to finish

Lindfield Rotary fun run 4km -5km profile

It’s a slight downhill run along Clanville Rd (about negatvie 2%-negative 4%), it’s a kilometre to the finish line, which you’ll find is further than you hope! Once you turn left out of Clanville into Cranbrook Ave, you still have 400m to go. The finish line is on the oval, so you’ll have about 150m of grass to the finish line.

10k turnaround

If you’re doing the 10k, you’ll turn left off Clanville Ave into Gregory St, before repeating the 5km course. Gregory street is a steep little service road which runs next to the tennis courts. It’s a bit of a goat track, so watch your footing. As I write (2 weeks before the race) there is an enormous pothole in the middle of the road, just near the speed bump at the bottom, as well as many smaller holes in the road further up. Take it easy up this stretch and push the downhill of Marjorie St at the start of your second lap.

If you take these tips on board, you’ll find it relatively easy to run one of the most challenging fun runs in Sydney. And if you do find the going is tough on some of those hills, remember there’s no law saying you have to run the whole way. You can enter the Lindfield Fun Run here.

9 Tips for Wet Weather Running

9 tips for running in wet weather

We’re in the middle of our rainy season here in Sydney. It seems to be getting wetter and wetter each year. For that matter, it seems to be getting hotter and more humid, and colder in winter each year as well. Not sure if it’s the climate changing or my perception changing as I get a bit older! Here are a few tips to keep you as happy as these rather damp runners. 

Look After Your Feet

Firstly, there’s your shoes. When it’s raining, your shoes get wet, and stinky. If you’re looking for ways to take care of wet shoes and get rid of the stink, you should take a look at this video.

And then there are your feet. After the first couple of hundred metres of your run, you’re likely to have wet feet, and wet feet can lead to blisters. To prevent blisters you can use body glide which is an anti blister product. It comes in cream or balm form in an easy to rub on stick. Rub it on areas which you know are likely to rub, and prevent blisters before they happen. You can also use Vasoline petroleum jelly, though it is more messy. As an experiment I once rubbed petroleum jelly all over one of my feet, then put my shoes and socks on and went for a trail run. I was expecting it to feel pretty yucky when I put my sock on, but it was fine, and I didn’t really feel any difference when I was running. And no blisters. Body glide can be used on any areas of your body where chafing might be an issue without wrecking your clothes, which does give it an edge over Vaso! You can get hold of it in sports stores and chemists.

A good pair of socks will go a long way towards keeping your feet dry as well. Try Drymax for a sock which will move the sweat away from your foot, in an apparently superior manner to wicking fibre socks.

Pay More Attention

Roads, footpaths and parks can be slippery in the rain. If there’s been wind about as well, you’ll likely come across other hazards such as seed pods and sticks which you can turn an ankle on. Wet leaves and petals can be particularly slippery, as can metal manhole covers and the white markings on the road.

Electronic Devices

Most wearables will be at least water resistant, but check with the manufacturer before you take your device out into heavy rain. I know it’s blasphemy, but you could also try running without your device when it’s raining! Keep phones and iPods in inside pockets of wet weather jackets. If you really want to be sure of keeping your phone dry, you can fork out the $$ for a waterproof case, or seal it inside a ziplock bag before you put it in your inside pocket.

Start Your Run During a Break in the Weather

It’s so much easier to get out the door if you’re able to sneak out between rain showers. If you’re doing this, it’s a good idea to run in a closed loop so that you’re never too far from cover if it buckets down, or if there is an electrical storm. If you run a 3km loop from your home, you’re never more than 1.5kms from home. Try reversing your direction each loop to make it a bit more interesting.

Never Run in an Electrical Storm

It simply isn’t worth risking your life to run in an electrical storm. Check the weather forecast, check the radar BEFORE you go out, and if a storm looks likely, jump on a treadmill, or put your feet up till the storm passes.
Find out more about what to do in an electrical storm.

Make Yourself Visible

Black is very slimming. So slimming in fact that on dull overcast days, wearing black or dark colours can make you seemingly disappear altogether. You blend in with your surroundings, which is not great when you want drivers to see you out on the roads! Wear your brightest coloured clothing on rainy days, it’ll cheer you up  and make you far more visible to drivers (it’s not called hi-viz for nothing!) Avoid light colours in cotton fabric on rainy days, unless you’re up for the next wet T-shirt comp at your local sleazy bar. Surely they don’t still run those things, do they?

Wear Less, Not More

The more clothing you wear when it’s raining, the more clothing you have to get wet. Wet clothing is uncomfortable and heavy. Wear lightweight moisture wicking clothing, and wear less than you think you’re going to need. The first half to one km might be a bit on the chilly side, but after that, you’ll be glad you haven’t over-dressed.

Headwear

Wear a hat or visor to keep the rain out of your eyes. Especially important if you wear glasses! Some people prefer visors for rainy days as it stops their heads from sitting under wet fabric, but if the UV index is high, a hat is better as it protects your scalp from the sun. If you wear glasses, using an anti-fog lense cleaner will help stop your glasses fogging up (as the name would suggest)

Welcome The Challenge

Lastly, you should see running in the rain as an opportunity to train for a wet race day. Getting out amongst it will help to build mental toughness. You don’t skip your shower because you might get wet, so don’t skip your run either!

Water falling from the sky is a fact of life, and if you missed your run every time the weather was less than perfect, well… you wouldn’t be a runner for long.

Running and Electrical Storms Don’t Mix

running and electrical storms don't mix

Lightning can contain 100 million to one billion volts. That should be enough to make you wary of running in an electrical storm  (or doing any other outdoor activity for that matter).

Here are some of the non lethal effects of being struck by lightning, just in case you need further convincing.

Short term Effects

  • Impaired eyesight or blindness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Ruptured ear drums
  • Hearing loss
  • Unconsciousness
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Burns to the skin
  • Burning to internal organs

Long term effects

  • Memory problems
  • Problems with sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Balance problems affecting gait
  • Joint stiffness
  • Muscles spasms

The three second rule

Count the number of seconds between seeing a flash of lightning and hearing thunder. For every three seconds, the lightning is one kilometre away. And just because you don’t see lightning, don’t assume it’s not around. Apparently, you can’t have thunder without lightning (but you can have lightning without thunder)

What to do if you’re caught outside in a thunderstorm

You should always check the weather forecast and the weather radar before you head out for a run, even if it’s a bright sunny day. If you’re planning a long run, much can change in a couple of hours. If you do get caught out in a storm there are some precautions you can take.

  • Seek shelter, not under a tree or other tall pole-like structure. Lightning has a tendency to strike taller structures within reason, and if you’re next to a tree when lightning strikes you can either be injured by the falling tree, or be felled by the electricity conducted through the earth.  
  • Pop into a shop or a service station until the storm has well and truly passed. A bus stop, porch, verandah or other non-enclosed structure won’t cut it. It’s recommended you wait till half an hour after the last lightning flash before you venture out again. More than half of lightning deaths occur after the storm has passed.
  • If you’re close to your car, you can take shelter in it, but be careful to stay away from the sides of the car. Sit in the back seat, or on the floor in the back. Keep the windows and doors closed, and make sure you are not parked under a tree!
  • If you can’t get under shelter, crouch over into a ball with your chin tucked in. Have two feet on the ground, as close together as possible. This makes you a single point of contact. Don’t lie on the ground.
  • If you’re in a group, stay several metres from each other.
  • Keep out of puddles, as water conducts electricity
  • Don’t put up an umbrella. And if you have an umbrella with you when you’re running, you have other issues!

Some other points about electrical storms

  • Lightning does, and often strikes twice.
  • Someone who has been struck by lightning will not contain a residual charge from the lightning, and you can safely perform first aid on them
  • If you’re inside, stay away from concrete walls or floors which may have metal bars inside them
  • Do not have contact with anything that can conduct electricity (e.g., electrical equipment or cords, plumbing fixtures, corded phones)

Running in wet weather

If you’re sure there is no electrical activity about, there’s no reason you shouldn’t get out and run in the rain. Here are some tips for wet weather running. 

References

http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/resources/OSHA_FS-3863_Lightning_Safety_05-2016.pdf

https://www.australiawidefirstaid.com.au/lightning-strikes/

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-07/how-to-protect-yourself-from-lightning-strikes/8099570

Runner Gives Birth To Neuron

Running gives birth to neurons (1)

Anyone who’s ever done regular physical exercise, whether that be running or something else, knows how good exercise can make you feel. But did you know that vigorous aerobic exercise actually triggers the birth of new neurons in the brain. And what’s more, to date, vigorous aerobic exercise is the only known trigger for the birth of new neurons!

Vigorous aerobic exercise such as running has been shown to have positive effects on the structure and function of the brain, namely generation of neurons in the hippocampus, the part of the brain important for learning and memory. By vigorous, I don’t mean flat out. You’re looking more at something that makes you puffed without feeling like you can’t continue.

Changes have also been seen in the frontal lobe of the brain of people who have been long term exercisers, with an increase in blood flow to this area. This is the part of the brain which is associated with clarity of thought – stuff like planning ahead, concentration, time management, goal setting and learning. This area is also linked to the regulation of emotion, hence, going for a run just seems to make you feel good.

Aerobic training more effective than HIIT and resistance training

A study by researchers at  the University of Jyväskylä looked at the effect of sustained running exercise, high intensity interval training (HIIT) and resistance training on the production of neurons in adult male rats. The study also looked at groups of rats that had either a genetically high response to aerobic training, or a genetically low response to aerobic training. Groups of rats were put on an exercise program for 6-8 weeks, and a control group sat on the couch in their regular cage.

The highest number of new neurons in the hippocampus was found in the rats on the long distance training program, and who also had a genetic predisposition to benefit from aerobic exercise. Compared to the couch potato rats, the runners had 2-3 times more new neurons at the end of the experiment period. The body building group of rats who were put on a resistance training program showed no improvement in neurogenesis, and the HIIT group showed only minor improvement.

Marked cognitive decline in old age is not inevitable

The decline in our ability to think clearly is commonly considered to be a characteristic of aging. But not everyone experiences cognitive decline to the same degree. There are vast individual differences in the ability of the brain to function in old age. Could aerobic exercise be what’s allowing some people to maintain good cognitive function, whilst the brain function of others fades, sometimes dramatically?

A study published in the Journal of Gerontology in Nov 2006 randomly assigned older adults to an aerobic exercise group or a non aerobic exercise control group for six months. The subjects who participated in the exercise program had an increase in both grey and white brain matter mostly located in the regions of the brain which show substantial age-related deterioration ( the prefrontal and temporal cortices)

Neurons  are found in the grey matter of specific brain regions, whilst white matter enables the communication between brain regions. They work together to enhance brain function, so the fact the aerobic exercise benefits both grey and white matter is the main reason it ranks so highly as a way to keep your brain young.

What’s going on inside your noggin to produce these changes?

Scientists at the Harvard Medical School isolated the specific molecule which improves cognitive function and protects against brain degeneration. The molecule, which has been named irisin, is produced in the brain during aerobic exercise through a chain reaction.

Firstly, a molecule called FNDC5 becomes elevated. Irisin is a byproduct of FNDC5. Increasing levels of irisin in the blood forces irsin to cross the blood brain barrier. That then increases the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).  Increasing levels of BDNF stimulates the growth of new neurons.

How much do you need to run to get the benefits?

Firstly, you probably don’t need to run. Any aerobic exercise of a moderate to intense nature will do it. One study conducted by Justin Rhodes at Oregon Health and Science University found that the BDNF concentration in mice increased by up to 171% after 7 nights of wheel running. Initially, the more running, the more BDNF, the greater the neurogenesis.

After a while, Rhodes found that his ultra-marathon mighty mice, who crazily ran all day and all night, eventually were unable to navigate a maze successfully. He found the best performing mice ran two to three miles a night. As they say, “everything in moderation”.

( I’m not sure what that equates to for humans, but in the course of trying to find out, I did discover that “mice miles” refers the amount of time one spends at a computer).

If you’re not already doing some at least moderate aerobic exercise, and you want to improve your thinking power, then start moving. Long easy runs, faster tempo runs, fartlek, interval training will all help to improve your brain power. (Note high intensity interval training -short bursts of all out effort, will do little to improve your cognitive function, but the the sub-maximal efforts more commonly part of a distance running program will)