Friday, 20 April 2012

ToeToe Running Socks Review

To the uninitiated a sock with 5 toes might seem a tad odd, but trust me that is your first mistake! Never judge a book by its cover they say, well the same goes for socks.

Just because they have five pointy bits at the end doesn't mean there's witchcraft involved. What is involved is some very nifty technology in creating a running sock that is supremely comfortable to wear.
On a personal note, I've been a fan of toesocks since living in Japan in the late 90s; I've always known they were really comfortable and supposedly very good for you.  What I hadn't done was run in them before I got my grubby mitts on some ToeToe running socks...and as Tony the Tiger would say, "They're greeeeeaaaaaaaaaat!!!"

What makes them so special? They're very comfortable, don't rub and you don't really realise you are wearing them.  What more do you want?

Whatever distance you're running but particularly  if you are banging out big miles you want/need kit that is comfortable and doesn't rub.  You can get more complicated and there are some good reasons why these socks are so good, but plainly and simply they are very very nice to run in.

Faced with a long run, but especially a long race, the last thing you want to be worrying about it blisters and rubbing; resplendent in my ToeToe running socks I am confident this ain't going to happen me...lots of other things might go wrong, but the feet won't be one of them.

But, you probably want more than my say-so, so here's a bit more about what makes the socks so good...

  • THEY'VE GOT SEPARATED TOES WHICH ENCOURAGES TOES TO MOVE INDEPENDENTLY AND IMPROVES FOOT FUNCTION
  • TOETOE HAVE CARRIED OUT CLINICAL RESEARCH WHICH INDICATES HOW TOE SEPARATION HELPS IMPROVE BALANCE AND POSTURE THROUGH IMPROVED PROPRIOCETION 
  • TOETOE MANAGES MOISTURE CONTROL THROUGH THE WICKING PROPERTIES OF THE HIGH QUALITY YARNS USED IN MANUFACTURE
  • BECAUSE THE TOE POCKETS PREVENT ANY SKIN ON SKIN FRICTION BLISTERS BETWEEN THE TOES ARE ELIMINATED
  • THE CLOSE FITTING DESIGN IMPROVES FOOT HYGIENE BY ELIMINATING THE BACTERIA FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT FOUND IN CONVENTIONAL SOCKS
  • SEPARATING TOES ENCOURAGES THEM TO MOVE. THIS INCREASES BLOOD CIRCULATION AND ENSURES THE FOOT IS NEVER TOO NOR TOO COLD
  • ENCOURAGING TOE MOVEMENT PROMOTES THE NATURAL SHAPE OF THE FOOT
  • THE YARNS USED INCLUDE ELASTANE WHICH PROVIDE A MILD COMPRESSION TO THE MUSCLES OF THE LOWER LEG
  • THEY'RE MOST COMFORTABLE SOCKS I HAVE WORN
See. I told you they were good and also remarkably clever. 

You want a pair now don't you...

...well, here's your chance:

Competition: win a FREE pair of ToeToe running socks

Stage 1 of my 100 Mile Sweepstake run in aid of "Hope for Children" was completed with the Brighton Marathon; Stage 2: The 3 Forts Marathon is on 6th June. Its a 27.2mile run with nearly 3,500ft of gain over the South Downs, but I'll  be there in my ToeToe socks itching to win some more race bling. 

If you are interested, and why wouldn't you be, for a measly £3 you can guess how long it will take me to run The 3 Forts Marathon.  Whoever guesses the time closest to my finishing time not only wins the sweepstake cash prize, but also wins a FREE pair of running socks, and the charity gets a nice donation. 

So, don't dilly-dally...£3 is nothing, but can be a big help to the children that "Hope for Children" work with and you could get some great prizes out of it. 

Donate now and win a bit of cash and some cool socks: 


Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Next...

1 down, 3 more events and the best part of 70miles to go!

Next up is the 3 Forts Marathon on 6th May, a 27.2 mile trail marathon over the South Downs taking in 3 iron age forts so it should be nice, although given the profile of the event "nice" may well be a misnomer...
...oh, well. How hard can it be?

You can guess the time for Stage 2 of the "100 Mile Challenge":
http://login.guess2give.com/event/stephen_whitehurst/638

I'll be happy if I can do this inside 5hours, how realistic that is even with a sub4 at Brighton I have no idea.

Should be fun though whatever happens.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Stage 1: Brighton Marathon

Brighton Marathon: 3:53:27 NEW PB


Plan executed to perfection! The goal was to try and run my first sub-4hr marathon, hold 9min per mile pace for as long as possible and stagger over the line just inside the magic threshold. Why does that matter? There's just something special about breaking certain boundaries in running, and sub4 is one of them. "Machismo" perhaps, but...

...I did it! 3:53:27, a new PB taking 17minutes off the time I ran in Osaka and 40mins off my first Marathon in Brighton last year. The Little Man meanwhile clocked 6:49 for his U11 mile race finishing 18th in a field of 171, including children up to 2yrs older, so our combined time for the day was 4:00:16 for the sweepstake.

Day started with stunning blue skies and the faintest promise of a breeze in Preston Park, thousands of people waited in snaking lines for the portaloos rubbing vaseline into various orifices and psyching themselves up for the 26.2 miles that lay ahead.

Saw some friends from DailyMile in the park as well as some people from running club, the countdown started the klaxon did whatever klaxons do, a great roar went up from the runners then nothing! 5minutes of shuffling later we finally crossed the start line and the game was on with an opening circuit of Preston Park and the "Only 26 more miles to go" banner after a measly 0.2miles.

Opening 5miles were a snaking circuit through the streets of central Brighton and cheering crowds, atmosphere was great and before I knew it I was heading out onto the seafront road approaching the 6mile marker thinking "that was easy".

I thought the same thing last year, but 7miles later the wheels were starting to come off and the descent into hell was upon me, this time the run out to Rottingdean and back to town was nice and controlled, keeping a comfortable pace inside 9mins over the hilly part of the course.  Men's race winner Peter Some, who broke the course record in 2:12:01 said:
“I was very happy with the course,” said the 21 year old men’s winner. “But I found it very hilly, there were a lot of undulations. It is my fourth marathon and second hardest course. The weather was very good, but the wind was too strong. I would like to come back to Brighton next year. My goal today was to break the course record.”

Nice to know an elite athlete thinks its a tough hilly course and conditions not optimal, makes you feel even more happy with the end result across those undulations and wind:

Saw the family, which gave me a burst of energy, as I cruised back into town past the pier and back into the crowded streets of Brighton.  Went through halfway in 1:57:07 feeling very comfortable and focused on just getting through the streets and back to the seafront at 18miles when I could really take stock of how the race was going and plan the final crucial few miles.

Knocked off the miles still nicely within my pace target, headed out towards 20miles where its often said the Marathon really starts, pace was still good as I headed into no-mans land towards the power station, plan was to just get through this bit at the same pace hit the seafront again at mile23 and then push for home.

The last 3miles along the seafront were teaming with people, pace was good, legs felt great and I could see sub-4 within my grasp so long as I didn't do anything stupid. Knocked off mile23 in a quicker 8:47 then with 2 and a bit to go upped the pace knocking off 8:18 then a lovely 7:57 for mile 26 before taking down the final few yards at a 7:11 average.  Last year I staggered through the final few miles in a daze, mentally and physically spent, this year picking up pace and going past runners was a wonderful feeling. Went past my DailyMile friend Simon with a few hundred yards to go, he ran a new PB having also run 21miles the day before - heroic!

Running a marathon in complete "control" with a negative split and picking up pace at the end was a wonderful feeling.  At the finish...just felt very calm.  None of the emotion of the last 2 marathons, just a calmness at having reached the goal.

No need for this year for this mantra:
...but that's not to say I won't be feeling that next time out, and with my next marathon in 3weeks time with 3,500ft of elevation over the course I think there's every chance this is exactly how I'll be feeling.

Stage 1 of the "100 Mile Sweepstake" is at an end with a prize of nearly £20 and a pair of  TOETOE running socks (ran the marathon in them and they are so comfortable) going to the winner, now its time for Stage 2: http://login.guess2give.com/event/stephen_whitehurst/638 where we can hopefully raise more money to help children like Amos:

Race Stats:
Time: 3:53:27
Splits: 1:57:07 / 1:56:20
Position: 2205 (8878 total)
Mile Times:
1-6            53:33 @8:55 - 9:08, 8:49, 8:52, 8:50, 9:02, 8:59
7-13          1:02:33 @8:56 - 8:58, 8:58, 9:02, 8:57, 8:56, 8:51, 8:53
14 - 20      1:02:38 @8:56 - 8:59, 8:57, 9:00, 8:53, 8:54, 8:52, 8:58
21 - finish  54:53 @8:35 - 8:56, 9:00, 8:54, 8:47, 8:18, 7:57, 2:51(7:11)

Course video from 2011:

Saturday, 14 April 2012

that was then, this is now...

Coming up to my debut marathon a year ago, I penned this entry on another blog.
Admittedly, Mary chewed me up and spat me out, but this time it will be different...

...I was brought up properly so I'll go into this date looking smart and full of respect for Mary, but this time its going to be a whole different story (I hope)


Crikey, only 7 days now to my date with MARY. I hear she can be a vicious mistress!

There come's a time in life when you've just go do it for the first time, the excuses and waiting for "that special one" just won't cut it any more. No more time for prevaricating, 7 more days and    then it's time.

I'd often dreamed of what it would be like, but been far too timid, cautious and told myself I never stood a chance, after all there were so many others to choose from, but since Mary arrived in Brighton a little over a year ago, I knew I had to be brave, zip up the man-suit and throw myself on her mercy and rid myself of this innocence.

A year of planning and its nearly time.  Put some effort into getting in shape and done a fair bit of practice to work on my moves, often alone and quite a lot of it in the dark, but now I think the preparation could be ready to pay off. Now feels like the time.  If I don't do it now, when will I?

Had my haircut, watched my weight and put considerable thought into my outfit to create the right impression on the day and make sure she's takes me seriously.  I've heard she can chew you up and spit you out in double-quick time if she doesn't like the look of ya or you've not shown due respect.

I doubt I'll bowl Mary over, or given her reason to fear me, but I'd liked to think she'll take pity, perhaps even show some kindness, on a ginger, 6'4" pasty wastrel in unflattering white knee length compression socks, a look of mild confusion, and with enough gel to coiffure a battalion of haircuts - and who know's I may even surprise her.

I just need to hold my nerve, remember what my friends told me (and what I've read on the Net), not go off to early and remember Mary demands "stamina" - if I get carried away and finish too quick, it's just going to end in tears.  Maybe, just maybe, if I do that Mary will be gentle with me.

One thing for sure, no matter how good, bad or indifferent the sweaty, uncertain fumbling...I'll be back for another date as soon as she'll see me.


Brighton Marathon: Sunday 10th April, 2011 - the time is now

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Brighton Marathon Course

Wondering what the Brighton Marathon looks like?

Well check out this video of the course from 2011. There's a few tiny tweaks to this this year's route, but this is essentially it.

So, how fast do you reckon I can run it?

Have a look, guess my time AND the time for the Little Man to run the kid's 1mile race, ADD the 2 times together, donate £3 and enter the COMBINED TIME in the 100 Mile Sweepstake to be in with a chance of winning prizes

Steady as she blows...

So its 4 days until the Brighton Marathon and Stage 1 of the 100 Mile Sweepstake Challenge, training has gone to plan everything is in order except THE WIND.

Before I get too concerned about this, it is of course worth remembering that this is English weather and English weather forecasting, so it's too early to get overly worried at this stage.

That said a 16mph NNE wind with 29mph gusts is not what the doctor ordered for running a Marathon up and down the Brighton seafront with a large chunk into the wind. Granted if I have to run into the wind, I also have to run away from the wind with it at my back, but hopefully come the day it will be nice and still with just the faintest of breezes to tousle the hair of heroic marathon runners.

Not a lot you can do about wind, just have to zip up the mansuit and tackle whatever the weather is, ain't no point worrying coz there's nowt I can do to change it.

Plan for the day was to head out at 9min pace and hold this for the full 26.2 miles to finish inside 4hours.

If there is a big wind on the day, do I still keep to that pace into the wind, or do I slow down a little conserve energy and make the time up when the wind is at my back and its driving me back down the seafront?

Truth be told, I haven't the faintest idea...

...but tomorrow the forecast will probably be entirely different (I hope)

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

FREE Socks!!!

How cool is that?
The wonderful people at TOETOE have very kindly donated 6 pairs of their fabulous running socks as prizes for the 100 Mile Sweepstake.
Whoever guesses the correct time for each of the 4 stages of the challenge will not only win the sweepstake for that event, but will also now be the proud owner of a very cool pair of TOETOE's high performance running socks!

So for a mere £3 you could get a nice cash prize, help children and get your hands on a pair of enhanced performance carefully engineered TOETOE Coolmax wicking running socks.

I've been a big fan of toe socks since I lived in Japan, they feel fabulous and running in a properly designed pair of running socks is even better. Why I hear you ask, well...

  • THEY'VE GOT SEPARATED TOES
  • ENCOURAGING TOES TO MOVE INDEPENDENTLY IMPROVES FOOT FUNCTION
  • TOETOE HAVE CARRIED OUT CLINICAL RESEARCH WHICH INDICATES HOW TOE SEPARATION HELPS IMPROVE BALANCE AND POSTURE THROUGH IMPROVED PROPRIOCETION 
  • TOETOE MANAGES MOISTURE CONTROL THROUGH THE WICKING PROPERTIES OF THE HIGH QUALITY YARNS USED IN MANUFACTURE
  • BECAUSE THE TOE POCKETS PREVENT ANY SKIN ON SKIN FRICTION BLISTERS BETWEEN THE TOES ARE ELIMINATED
  • THE CLOSE FITTING DESIGN IMPROVES FOOT HYGIENE BY ELIMINATING THE BACTERIA FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT FOUND IN CONVENTIONAL SOCKS
  • SEPARATING TOES ENCOURAGES THEM TO MOVE. THIS INCREASES BLOOD CIRCULATION AND ENSURES THE FOOT IS NEVER TOO NOR TOO COLD
  • ENCOURAGING TOE MOVEMENT PROMOTES THE NATURAL SHAPE OF THE FOOT
  • THE YARNS USED INCLUDE ELASTANE WHICH PROVIDE A MILD COMPRESSION TO THE MUSCLES OF THE LOWER LEG
  • THEY'RE MOST COMFORTABLE SOCKS I HAVE WORN

So what are you waiting for grab that £3 in change you don't know what to do with, guess the COMBINED TIME for me to run the Brighton Marathon and my son to run the 1-mile race on the same day and you could be a winner!

More about TOETOE
Our bodies are incredibly good at moving, frequently without any conscious involvement. Some of the things most of us can do without conscious effort include sitting down, standing up, picking up objects, throwing, catching, jumping, skipping, running. We can make all these movements without thinking (or falling over) because of something called ‘proprioception’ - our body’s sense of its own position, balance and movement. Proprioception provides us with ‘body awareness’ and is commonly referred to as our “sixth sense”.

The proprioceptive system uses stretch receptors and pressure receptors situated in our muscles, joints and skin to inform our brain about our physical environment and how we are interacting with it. Humans have evolved with many of these receptors in our feet because they are the parts of our body most in contact with our physical environment. Reducing the sensory feedback from our feet to our brain gives it less information to work with, reducing the quality of the movement and effecting both posture and balance.

The foot is a dextrous and sensitive masterpiece. However, conventional socks limit the feedback to the brain by causing the toes to act as one unit. TOETOE socks however allow each toe to move individually increasing the foot’s potential to provide proprioceptive feedback.

The human foot is a marvel of evolutionary engineering but has one serious design flaw - a lack of protection from the environment. All other ambulatory animals have evolved hooves or pads to protect themselves, but our feet, originally designed to grasp and climb, are instead covered in proprioceptors, sweat glands and soft skin.

TOETOE provide the ideal protection, either on their own or in a pair of well fitting shoes, particularly shoes with independent toe separation.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

STAGE 1: The Form Guide

Wondering what time to guess for STAGE 1: Brighton then perhaps this will give you some ideas.

REMEMBER: the winning time for the Brighton Marathon stage of the 100 Mile challenge is the COMBINED TIME it takes me to run the 26.2miles of the marathon PLUS the 1mile of the kid's "Mini Mile" on marathon day that my son is running.  So think about the combined time we'll both run and guess on that.

The Form Guide:

The Little Man
He's getting quicker, won the mile race he ran at Sport Relief beating young and old alike, but as for more competitive running he's recently chalked up a 23:00 5km, ran 3:12 for grass 800m at school, and was disappointed with his 6:53 mile into the wind at the Brighton Marathon. So how fast can he go in Brighton on what should be a nice day with a slightly downhill course?

The Big Man
The big question is will I have improved from my 2 Marathons in 2011 where I stumbled to a debut 4hr33 melting in the Brighton heat before a swifter 4hr10 in a hot humid Osaka. The goal is sub-4, the training has moved up a level, but will it be enough? Couple of good races in last couple of months with 1hr41 in the Brighton Half and 2hr53 in the Worthing 20mile race, but what will happen on the 15th April.


So, work out fast the Little Man will run 1mile ADD that to the good, bad or indifferent time you think I'll chalk up in Brighton and you could be a winner.

Guessing and donating only costs £3, you won't even notice that lack of change in your pocket:

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

last time with Mary

just over a couple of weeks until the Brighton Marathon, should've been working harder today but mind drifted back to my last date with "Mary"...


Gave it everything I had, and came home with one of these bad boys, which I'm sure you'll agree is a lovely piece of race bling...


...day started early in the grounds of Osaka Castle where the race started, 30,000runners made the morning scene look like an invading army laying siege. Walking to my start gate I was in a crowd of several hundred runners passing through the gates into the inner bailey of the castle, a stunning but really quite unusual way to get to the start line.

Stopped for a dump along the way, but hadn`t considered the likelihood of the loos being Japanese and not Western (elementary mistake)...
...squatting over one of these was not the early morning stretch my quads were expecting...thankfully, given the consistency, I banished the Gingerbread Man before he even got started, unfortunately I couldn`t flush him away, should have apologised to the next chap in the queue, but elected to run away quickly instead using the burst of speed as a pre-race warm-up.

The Marathon 
Race got off to a great start, to be honest felt great for the first 30km per the street markings, run was through streets of Osaka with big crowds at every step offering their support. Saw my family and Japanese relatives at 1km, 10km and 13km which was great and gave me a big lift each time - couldn't miss the Union Jacks fluttering in the breeze, and certainly not my 9yr old son dangling from various lampposts along the route with 2 flags and no obvious way of hanging on.

Thought I was on pace for sub 4 clicking along at around 9:02/9:03 but given my Garmin at the end read 26.88 that could already have been too slow in reality, wouldn`t have made any difference though. Ran a very steadily paced 20miles through the heart of Osaka having a super time, was hot and humid, but not too bad having run in 30+ temperatures over the summer.

Slowed down over last 10km, just didn`t have it within me to hold the pace any longer, but didn`t drop "too far" and I never stopped. Ran every step of the 26.2/26.88 miles which was my big issue post-Brighton back in April in my debut where I fell apart at 16miles and ended up run/walking the last 10, couldn`t get beyond the fact I hadn`t "run" the marathon.

With 3miles to go there was a monster bridge to get up and over, hell on the legs and mind, but stuck to it and although I could have happily given up at any point from there onwards I didn`t. Picked up the pace with 1km to go, then saw the family again 500m or so from the finish, increased pace once more then turned the final corner saw the finish and managed to pull out a "sprint" finish.

Wonderful experience! Great crowds throughout and friendly runners along the way.

4:10:57, a PB by more than 22mins smashing apart my debut in April - could`t really ask for much more and certainly could`t have given anything else on the course.

Interviewed by biggest daily newspaper in Japan after the race, got my medal and goody-bag then met the family. All impressed that I "just walked out" of the finishing area rather than being in pieces like Brighton. The big increase in mileage this time has definitely made a big difference.
Really enjoyed the training for this marathon and the support from the DailyMile community has been stupendous. Family are great, but its such a big help to have people that actually know the daft things you are putting yourself through 5 times per week.

Got back to the inlaws and headed straight to the local public bath, spent opening 10mins in an ice bath much to the irritation of the local yakuza who wanted it after the sauna, would`ve been happy to share, but they obviously didn`t like the look of me! Post bath had a feast of sushi at the local restaurant which father-in-law had hired in entirety - a top night, to round of a great day!

Very happy with this marathon, this is the experience I wanted/expected/anticipated in Brighton. wasn`t sub4 but always thought of that as a stretch goal that was worth aiming for, really wanted to get under 4:15 and ideally within 4:10, so extremely happy with this run.

So what`s next?

Brighton 10km in a couple of weeks so a chance to try just hammering it, then soon be time to start it all over again and train for Brighton v2 in April 2012. Can I go faster again?

Thanks for the support and encouragement along the way everyone, couldn`t have done it withouth y`all