Friday, 12 October 2012

One week, three ideas and lots of shoes

Good golly I'm getting really excited to be going away for a week. Mpumulanga. Forests. Lakes. Rivers. *iiinnnhhhaaallleee* I can smell those pine trees already.

The week away starts... now! (well, on Friday night)
My week away kicks off this weekend with a British Orienteering Federation Level 2 Instructor's course. We've got two trainers out here who are going to be teaching the course and I have no doubt that I'll learn a whole lot from them. It is also an excellent opportunity to bounce my 'O in a Box' Level 2 school O programme off them as they have done a lot of school-level coaching. It will be nice to get their nod of approval and comments for improvement before I finalise the activities and games.

Then, I'll be staying in the area until Friday next week because I've got a couple ideas - three to be exact - that I really, really need to get out of my system.

Idea #1
Over the years I've had many ideas for runs - ultradistance and 'normal' distance; I can think of four immediately that I just have not got around to putting together (two scouted and planned but not implemented). One of these has been sitting in my head for eight years and I now think that after so many years of contemplating this event that the area I have in mind will work and the format concept I've been mulling over is just about right too. What I don't know is whether the event will be practical and feasible, whether it will fit in the area available, whether the logistics can work and whether I'll get permission. By Friday I hope to have these answers.

Idea #2
18-months ago I put together a plan for a running retreat. I sat on it, weekends passed and that year - and the next - ran away. I've got a very specific plan in mind for this - and it will be a most wonderful running experience. Again, I need to scout routes, test options and determine whether what I have in mind will work - and if I can get permission.

Ideal #3
And the third concept is a navigation retreat. Over the past decade I've taught countless navigation courses and hundreds of people. From regular adult adventure racers to school teams and hiking club members. The course has evolved as races and maps have changed and last year I cut it down from a one-day course to a mid-week, one-evening theory session with a practical session at an orienteering event the next weekend. Something has been missing.

On the orienteering side, my favourite task at events is teaching newcomers about orienteering. I also thoroughly enjoy doing 'walkie-talkies' out on the course with inexperienced orienteers and watching their eyes light up as they 'get it'. I've been involved with the schools league over the years - more intensely this year - and recently in teaching teachers how to teach basic orienteering elements.

On both the AR and O side I see navigation treated too much as a last-minute discipline. People think about brushing up on their navigation skills a week before an event (do you start training for a half marathon the week before?) - you can't believe the number of emails I receive in this regard. And then they go into the race, waste a ton of time making mistakes, finish the race and then they don't think about navigation again until the week before the next event.

After years of adventure racing I think that too many navigators still have not developed crucial skills and nor is map reading second nature.

Even at orienteering events people just go from one event to the next learning as they go but taking months and years to really improve. I really think that with a weekend of focused attention on navigation that the participants' skills and confidence will shoot up.

This navigation retreat includes a bunch of games and activities that are fun and at the same time they teach, train and aim to perfect a multitude of skills.

I love (running) shoes!
Thanks to Go Multi magazine and Salomon SA I've got a pair to Salomon XR Mission door-to-trail shoes to play in for a product review. I've worn them a bit around the place (social use) but not yet on trails or road. This week all I'm going to have are trails. Probably plenty of mud too, especially if it rains.

I always take my faithful Adidas Response TRs (currently on TR18 version; second pair of the same shoe) with me where ever I travel. About two months ago I got lucky. I couldn't find my shoes and was in desperate need of a new pair as I'd left my old ones in Ireland after the 24hr Rogaine; they'd been near the end of their life going into the race. I phoned the Adidas store at Campus Square and they had my size in stock. I drove over the next day and to my delight the shoes were on sale as the TR18 was getting to end-of-range and the new model was due to come in. I bought two pairs for about R600 each. I'm on the one (blue/yellow) pair at the moment and I'm saving the crazy orange for later. I've really liked this model - one of their best, for me.

Love-love-love! The shoe that I've been most in love with for some months is the Asics Gel Fuji Racer (read this really cool review - I'm in agreement). As the winning women's team at last year's Kinetic Adventure sprint series, we all won a pair of these when they came out (thank you Steve). I've actually been running them on road 95% of the time and I'm absolutely loving them! Minimalist, tactile and light, it's like a racing flat with lugs. Oddly, I haven't worn it much on trails - but I'll rectify that this week.

I've felt really bad about wearing my Asics on road when they're really made for trail so I bit the bullet yesterday and bought my very first pair of Inov-8 shoes. This was also prompted because on Tuesday evening I ran in my old Adidas Supernova road shoes and after running in the Asics for so long I felt seriously weighed down and I just couldn't feel the ground to the extent that I've gotten used to.

I've been curious about the Inov-8s. I first checked online to see what model I would be looking for, according to my requirements. Then I rocked up at Troisport in Sunninghill armed with a list. It is the first time that I've been there and I'd definitely go there again. They score points for friendly and informative service.

I settled on the Inov-8 Road-X 255. I had my eye on trying the 238 too, which I did. I found the fit to be a bit of a toe squeezer and I didn't like either the foot-in-feel nor how it felt under my foot. The 255 and I were born to be together. I've had one run in them - last night - and we felt right at home with each other.

I'm going to take them along, even though there will be little tar around, just so that we can look at each other.

I've phased off the Newtons, which I ran quite a bit on road and trail, especially in boggy Ireland. As a transition shoe - from chunky to minimalist - I think they're great and also if you're looking to change your form from a heel striker to a midfoot striker. I've always been a mid- forefoot striker anyway so they make me feel like they're pushing my foot too far forward and I've gotten so addicted to the minimalist Asics. These guys will stay at home.

AND, equally exciting is that I got a new bike a few weeks ago. As I was in the worst phase of my cough-and-cold I couldn't ride it (I could barely walking up a flight of stairs without doubling over!). I've reverted back to a hard tail (just like my old 'n faithful Giant Yukon) and this new puppy is a 29er. I'm going to ride a lot this week.

With all of my shoes and maps and toys it's going to look like I'm packing to go away for a month!

1 comment:

Staci said...

Have a great week away- hope the weather is good for you. Can't wait to see what adventures you have in store for us.