Friday, April 18, 2014

Weekend Double Podium :)

I was really wanting to do another half marathon after the Prague as I was feeling my form going up, but I got a big STOP from The Coach. Well there might be something about not racing 13.1 miles at full gear 3-4 weeks before marathon :) But I got permission to do some shorter races to make my legs moving and speed up. Which is my biggest struggle, I do have the endurance, I "just" need to speed up :)

We left for a conference last Wednesday and I wasn't expecting much from my Thursday night workout, planned for 12+ miles (20 km) at 8:18 min/mile (5:10 min/km). What a surprise when I was flying around the beautiful little dam at sub 8 min miles with such an easy feeling. It feels really great when everything clicks and works out :)

The conference was about diabetes and there was a Run against diabetes held one Friday afternoon. Only 3 km :) Feeling that good at my run made me want to compete. I had warm up plus 2 km at tempo pace and 1 km at race pace (for the 10 km on Saturday) scheduled by The Coach, so this was more or less perfect distance. I felt very confident, but kind of lost it when athletic looking girls started to show up :o Turns out, I still managed to be first female coming to the finish even with not going 100 % out for the first half of the race! The official finish time is 12:58.2 ... Nothing speedy for 3 km, but check the hill on the Garmin data :)

I was really happy finishing 1st female :)

After the race it was little over 300 km drive back to Prague, so I got to bed pretty late. Fortunately the 10 km race on Saturday started at noon :) I woke up not feeling 100 % fit! little headache and feeling of possible cold coming (turns out the feeling was right). But I had my breakfast, got everything ready and drove to the race (over 1 hour drive). I was quite on time, so not to much time to think. The race is organized by a friend of my friend, who I got to know and they really do good races, so I wanted to come to support them. It is called Hradec Cross 10 km, not because od it being cross country, but because the course actually forms a cross. The propositions said it was a flat course, I would disagree :)

I met few familiar faces, some ladies recognizing me from the blog another local I met at the Prague Half Marathon - she overtook me at about 18 km :( She looked so strong! Turns out she was the only faster female on this race day. We went out and of course there were few crazy people going out too fast. I wanted to settle in a comfortably hard pace but not go out too fast, keeping my heart rate around or under 177 BPM for the first half of the race. I am really happy that I stuck to my plan even though it meant people overtaking me on those first tiny up hills and on the bigger one between km 2 and 3. It paid off, I overtook most of them on the downhill or flat part :) Having 3 U turns on the course makes it pretty easy to see how your competition is doing. By the 2nd U turn I knew there was only Marcela ahead, the lady who overtook me in Prague Half :)

There was also a girl in RunGO tshirt behind (overtook me on the uphill, then could not catch up on the downhill). I was little anxious whether she will close up on me again. But I decided that I am coming to the finish first or second :) By the third U turn I thought I closed up a little on the leading lady, but I ran out of distance towards the finish to be able to get to her. My Garmin said 42:57, but the official time is 43:01 as the chip only measured the finish time from the gun time, not from crossing the line :) I don't care, it is 14 second personal best. I was hoping for bigger PB, but on the hills and with the coming cold, I will take it! (I woke up feeling super ugly on Sunday, spent all day in bed, same for Monday.)

Guess I was working hard to get to the finish...
Photo by hozeny

Great friends Jitka and Ondra came out so we can discuss some crazy plans and as Jitka happens to be a great photograph, it meant some cool photos from after the race :)

Photo by Jitka Sečková

Photo by Jitka Sečková

1st in the 30+ age group (the overall winner was 40+!!!)
Photo by Jitka Sečková

Garmin activity for 10 km race:

What were your recent races?

Are you racing this weekend? :)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Prague Half Marathon 2014 - Race Report

Prague Half Marathon was my first true race and first test of my form in 2014. Which obviously resulted in me being very anxious and excited about the race :) Since mid 2013 I have been taking my training and dedication to running to another level. That led to the volumes and speeds that would have been unimaginable even a year ago. Peaking at my first ever running training camp in Portugal :)

When I found myself sitting face to face with my mental coach on Thursday evening in full taper mode two days before the race I was ... puzzeled, nervous, did not know what to do with myself! Did not really reace since Berlin in September!!! I would like to thank Jirka here for helping me to put myself back together, trusting in what I invested in my training in the past months ... basically managing taper madness (I have written some taper tips when getting ready for Prague 2012).

To the race now ... I was really excited to go rock'n'roll. The Coach (the one thats puts my physicall training together) was little anctious about me being rested and recovered enough afther the very very intense training camp. I thought he was exaggerating - lesson learnt: The Coach is usually right. Way more often than I am, but I have to learn my lessons the hard way. I didn't talk with many people about my goals, but it was set inside my mind to go sub 1:30. Well, there have been few warning signals: Wednesday and Thursday I was feeling like being on the edge of getting a flu. Here I can prove how strong the mental attitude is. I simply pumped up the vitamins, fruits etc. and put in my head that being sick is not an option! This part worked out pretty wall.

Secret weapons for the race: Nike LunaRacer3 & brand new Royal Bay compression calf sleeves!

I also monitor my morning resting heart rate quite regularly, especially in the high intensity times and coming to a race. My resting heart rate is usually around 45-47, 42-44 when I am in the best shape and goes up to 50 when I am getting sick or am really tired and on the edge of overtraining. Well Thursday, Friday and Saturday it was 50. I tried to ignore it, didn't even tell The Coach.

Race morning coming up. I sticked with my usual routine. Apart from waking up one and half hours earliere than planned ... well I was nervous :) Chia seed "pudding" with bananas and finally Nespresso with caffeine and no decaf for breakfast. I was off for warm up with The Coach and Bohdan who trains with him as well (and did amazing 1:30:07 in the Prague Half!). Felt great during the warm up except that it was way colder than the original weather forcast promised.

After the warm up it was quick, back home to get warmer, luckily mom drove me to the start, so no public transport :) I was there little more than half an hour ahead of start, not much to do. Ran into few friends which was a pleasant distraction. I was really cold after the warm up so thinking about taking arm warmers, but luckily decided not to. It was warm enough in the race. As for the fueling I had about 2 scoops of Generation UCAN with protein about 1 hour before the race and then 1 scoop just before the start. Very happy with this option as I only drank water during the race and had no stomach issues!!! Finally, halelujaaaah :)

So there we were at the start, lining up in the A corral just behind the elites ... that feels pretty exciting. Wanted to stick around the 1:30 pacer, met with the ever present Enrico who as usual told me he would run little slower than I wanted and then ran away at 4th km :D And then we were running. Even in the front corral it was pretty crowded, but definitely much easier to run and not to shuffle pace too much. I did not want to be distracted by my Garmin too much. Unfortunately, I ignored it too much ... First mile at 6:54 (4:18 min/km) was little faster than expected, but still OK, but then ... 6:43 (4:10 min/km) and 6:32 (4:03 min/km) !!! At this stage I was sticking with the 1:30 pacer and that was my mistake I guess. This was way too fast for me for the beginning of a race. I am a true endurance monster and need an easy warm up ...

Just around 10 km mark ... things are getting hard...

Miles 4-6 6:49, 6:52, 6:55 (4:14, 4:16, 4:17 min/km) ... after the 10 km mark I started to "get it". To acknowledge my mistake and feeling that the pace was suddenly feeling much harder than it should have been. Same as at the beginning the pace felt really easy and I did not control myself to hold it in for the later stages of the race. From the half way point, it was hard work. Mentally and physically, when running along the Čechův bridge, which is where you come back just about 1.5 km before finish, I felt like finishing here. I guess you have this moment in any race where you just want to quit. Fortunately, I got distracted by Bohdan (the athlete that is trained by my coach as well) coming from behind. He started further behind, so I tried to stick with him and he adjusted his pace to help me. So as I am writing this I am getting aware that I was probably the cause for him not doing the sub 1:30 as he did 1:30:07 ... He helped me a ton! Not letting me to slow down, I was concentrating on sticking with him for about a mile or two and then let him go, did not want to slow him down.

Coming to the 15 km marker is where you kind of turn and go back to finish. There were two great runners Láďa and Péťa cheering on and taking pictures. That cheer up helped me a ton honestly!!! Thank you guys! Little side note about the atmosphere. Honestly I was really upset, such a silent and "boring" race. I had my name printed on my chest, at any foreign race you have total strangers cheering up for you. Not here, I got only cheered by people who knew me and also got few of rare, let's go girl! As there were not that many female runners at this moment.

Thank you Láďa & Petra for this photo!!!

Once you cross that bridge just after 15 km, you come back through office buildings and open fields and there is usually strong head wind, which was not the case here. Thank God! So putting one foot ahead of the other. Little rolling hills here and a lady looking really strong overtook me just before entering the tunnel just about 3 km before finish (who knew she was gonna beat me in 10 km next week and be the only one to run faster than I did). I looked over my shoulder and I don't know if there was another female runner or not, but I had a feeling like it was. And I know myself and know that this is the best motivation. It is tough to handle someone overtaking you when you cannot stick with them, but having someone closing up on you who had put too much energy to close up so if you can surge a little you still safe keep your spot. So this is what I did.

For the last 3-5 km I had again trouble breathing or felt like my sports bra was little too tight. I have never ever this problem in training and I guess it is because I never exert such a high intensity in training for that long, or I don't know. But I am totally getting a bigger bra to run the Prague Marathon in ... I was able to speed up for the last 500 m at least a little, but as you can see on the photo below, I was really spent at the finish:

After getting over being upset for not scoring the 1:30, I became really happy about coming in 629th overall out of over 8 thousand people who finished the race, 39th woman and 21st Czech female :) And knocking down over 5 minutes from my personal best is not that bad either. Lesson learned, way better to go out too fast in half marathon than to do it in a month time in the full marathon that I have been getting ready for all the winter months. Outcome: I can't wait to race the Prague Marathon on May 11!!!

Here is the link to my Garmin activity file:

As I write this week from the race, my form definitely went up after the race, so The Coach was right and there was not enough time to recover after the intense training camp ... another lesson for me :) 10 more days to work hard and then taper for Prague Marathon!!!

Monday, April 07, 2014

And The Winner ISSSSS ... Nike Free Giveaway Result

Thanks to Nike Running CZ I have a chance to offer a pair of Nike Free 2014 shoes to one of my readers as stated in this post.

Well, the chances were high as there were only eight participants :) I numbered the relevant comments and used to generate the random number:

Which means that the winner is michello77 with this photo ... congratulations!!! Please email me at barborkas(at) so we can arrange the shoe pick up an probably a nice runners' coffee chat? :)

Michello chose the Nike Free Run 4.0 with the medium support in those cute shiny colors!!!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014


English version bellow :)

Vyberte si svoje Nike Free z nové kolekce 2014. Běžecká kolekce nabízí tři verze 3.0, 4.0 a 5.0 s různou mírou podpory (čím vyšší číslo, tím vyšší podrážka), další boty z kolekce Nike Free jsou vhodné pro fitness a HIIT či crossfit. Které byste chtěli do svého botníku?

Vyhrajte Nike Free 2014 dle vašeho výběru!

Pravidla soutěže:

1) Přijďte na představení kolekce Free Your Spirit tento čtvrtek 3. dubna od 18:00 do prodejny Nike v Novém Smíchově. V rámci akce dostanete voucher na lekci/vstup do Holmes Place (pozor, je třeba využít ve stejný den!) a také pozvánku na Nike Shopping Night (= Nike za lepší ceny :) ).

2) Vyberte si Nike Free, které právě vám nejvíc sedí, a vyfoťte se s vybranou botou.

3) Sdílejte fotku na svém Facebooku, Twitteru nebo Instagramu a označte ji hashtagy #nikefree a #barborkaontherun

4) Dejte link na fotku tady do komentářů na blogu.

5) Soutěž potrvá do půlnoci v neděli 6. dubna, fotku s Nike Free můžete udělat v tomto období také ve kterémkoliv z dalších Nike obchodů!

6) Soutěž běží pouze v České republice.

Choose your Nike Free from new collection 2014. The running collection offers three options: 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0 with different levels of support (higher number = higher support). You can also choose the fitness and cross training options. Which ones would you like in your warderobe?

Win Nike Free 2014 of your choice!

Giveaway rules:

1) Come to the Free Your Spirit event where the collection will be launched this Thursday April 3 at 6 pm in the Nike shop at Nový Smíchov. As a part of the event you will get voucher for a class or gym entry at Holmes Place (you need to use it the same night!) and invitation to Nike Shopping Night (= get your Nike gear at better prices :) ).

2) Choose the Nike Frees that fit you the best and make a photo of yourself with the shoe.

3) Share the photo on your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with hashtags #nikefree and #barborkaontherun

4) Paste a link to the photo to the comments here.

5) The giveaway ends on Sunday April 6 at midnight. So you can make the photo during this time in any Nike store - the condition is there have to be the shoe of your choice :)

6) The giveaway is only valid in the Czech Republic.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Paris Runaround

I have drafted this post by uploading photos from my phone but seem not to be able to get to finish it. Life is little scary when you have been 2+ weeks away. I was online and I was working from the camp, but still, things pile up... So this is gonna be more photos than words. Well when I spent weekend in Paris with my dad few weeks ago, I did not expect to be back that soon! But we are working on a big international project, I am responsible for it and the kick off meeting happened to be in Paris on the day I was supposed to fly from Portugal back to Prague. Thanks to the modern era, within 30 minutes I had new tickets, called up friends if I can crush on their couch and everything was ready to rock'n'roll :)

I arrived at 11 pm, but luckily the meeting was not until 2 pm, so I managed to run around Montmartre and up to the Sacre Coeur church and by up, I mean straight up these stairs - absolute frontal attack for those who have been there :) I event went in to light up a candle! Then some more running around to make it for super easy 4 miler and back to computer at my friends' apartment. Worked on my emails and off for the meeting.

Not a bad shot for iPhone photography, hm?

One of the less famous "moulins" = wind mills.

Especially for my dear friend Gabi, thanks to buying Kusmi Tea for her as a gift, I fell in love with them as well ...

... only thought they were nice pricey gifts, but they truly taste amazin, so this time I treated myself to their "Zen collection". And yes these boxes are expectionally cool!

After the meeting it was time for drinks and dinner. I decided the day in Paris to be my treat day. We went to a restaurant La Parizienne at the nice litle square called Place du Marché Saint-Honoré in the center of Paris. Very yummy :) By 10 pm we were all tired and headed back home. Morning was sleeping in, packing up my stuff and another conference call, continued even in the cab (do you know the great service of Uber??? ... check out the link and you can get 20 eur off your first ride!)

Steak tartare parisien ... yummy, the french fries and mayonnaise are must have!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Doing Things Right ... The 22 Hours When You Do Not Run

Sadly everything exciting has to come to an end and I am on my way back to reality from the training camp in Portugal. Escaping from "reality" to a place with almost perfect conditions gave me the great opportunity to become more aware of what the great Meb Keflezighi says: it's not that much about the 2 hours you run, it is much more about what you do the remaining 22 hours you do when you don't run. So I came up with a little list as a reminder to myself for the times when the circumstances are not perfect. I hope it can inspire you as well :) What would you add?

Finally after years of work, I can see myself as an athlete .. thank you Tom Craggs, coach from RunningWithUs for taking the photo.

1) Pre-running routine - TRX activation exercise

It must not necessary be a TRX exercise, it is one part of it for me. My physio sets up a pre-run routine for me in order to get my body in the right set up, so the pounding does not do more damage than necessary. Due to a ligament operation on my knee more than 10 years ago, it turns out I have been planting my right foot incorrectly, precisely my right knee does an ugly inside turn when I land on it. So right now I have a set of exercise to help correct this. It is a long term goal and will not be corrected immediately, but I can tell you I feel the difference if I don't do my exercise.

After that of course for the tough speedy session there is also a warm up, dynamic stretches and drill sets before such a training (eg. speed, intervals, hills ...).

2) Easy runs easy

This is easy rule, but it can easily go wrong based on circumstances ... as for me, I wanted to keep up with the fast girls on the first days of camp = big fail for me! Couldn't complete the afternoon sessions afterwards! Another thing that happens often to me is getting over excited with the environment you run in - like the beach on the photo, or combing back to your beloved city as would be Paris or New York for me. Just stay relaxed! Easy / recovery runs are there to flush out the hurting substances out of your muscles and to help you recover for the next training.

3) Leg dips after each session

Much has been written and proven about benefits of ice / cold baths after running improving recovery and reducing inflammation in your legs. At home I would do them only after the really really hard or long sessions, because it takes time, it is quite uncomfortable etc. Having the cold pool next to your hotel where you can simply step in and stay in for 10 minutes makes things way easier! As you have such a chance, go for it!

Pool leg dip...

.. and sea leg dip - even more pleasant with the beautiful views :)

4) Core sessions

Same with previous points, getting in your core work might get tricky during your normal busy weeks. But especially for marathon running, your core is extremely important as your running stride is way more efficient when your core stays up through the entire race. If your core is not strong enough, it will eventually start collapsing little by little which makes you work harder to sustain same pace.

Planking selfie :o)

One of the favorites from The Coach ... keep your arms and legs as close to the ground as possible and start rocking on your back ... ufff!

5) Stretching

Not much to say, find stretching routine that works for you and stick to it after every run. OK, OK, I might have several options = a "minimal" version if I am pressed for time and then full option that I would do if I have enough time or after the tough sessions. Obviously, doing the stretches in the nature and beauty of Portugese sun is little more fun than at my kitchen floor at home :)

My favorite stretch that stretches out your flute but mainly the spine.

Stretching those inner sides of your thighs - very important, almost every runner is shortened and not really flexible here.

6) Afternoon naps

There is always so much to do ... but finding those 20-40 minutes to take a nap can make huge difference in your afternoon session! Trust me, I tried :)

7) Recovery tools

Again, there are many of those, what works for me is legs up, compression socks and I have fallen in love with the Compex Runner device. You actually place electrodes on different parts of your body and choose appropriate program and let the device work. It can strengthen your muscles, improve recovery by bringing more blood to the muscles or treat your little aches and pains. The last two have been the big thing for me lately. Really great! More detailed review is coming ...

Of course, the great thing is to get an actual massage, but that is not always available - no people or no money :) But as an active runner who demands lot from your body, try to treat the body from time to time with nice massage. Don't forget things like sauna or steam bath. They are very nice especially during winter when they perfectly warm you up to the deepest tissues. What I have learned though with running is that I cannot stay in as long as I was used to. If you overdo it with sauna and get all maxed up and exhausted, they are very good health benefits for your cardiovascular system, health etc., but unfortunately you will be quite maxed up for the next session. So don't do intensive sauna before hard sessions, just a quicker, shorter ones. Trust me, I tried! :)

Well, I will talk about the "real" nutrition = real food in the next part, but if you are really in the intense phase of training, it is very hard to go without any supplements, vitamins etc. The Coach suggests for me to have those vitamins: C, B, E + coenzyme Q10 before the big races (it improves nutrient metabolism). I also drink Matcha Tea throughout the day to boost the antioxidants and not fall asleep at the desk :) Another thing is the fuel for your hard sessions or for the immediate recovery after the tough or long sessions. I have been using Generation UCAN for few months and am very happy with it. It is a starch but one that does not spike your insulin and can last you for 90-120 minutes of effort = no gels for my half marathon, YAY! Lot of stomach issues solved :) 

Back to business ... all the coaches at experts at the camp and in all the running media emphasise, that you should have some quality calories in in the 20-30 minutes after your hard/long session. It does not mean that you need to eat immediately. Banana shake or such a nutrition shake will definitely work. What it does is that it makes your body more ready to absorb the nutrients that you get in the real meal you will eat probably one or two hours later. (you know after the bath, phone call with The Coach, Garmin data upload, cooking etc :) ).

8) Good nutrition

Well, this is realatively easy for me, what I would emphasize is the #JERF hash tag = JUST EAT REAL FOOD. Please! It actually does not mean whether you are vegetarian, paleo, vegan or raw eater, most of those "new" directions of nutritional thinking have one in common = avoiding the processed stuff. And if you avoid the processed stuff, you will naturaly eat healthier choices with more fruits and veggies.

Personally, I have been eating not super strict Paleo diet for almost two years now and I love eating this way. Paleo = no grains, no legumes (beans etc.), no dairy. I had troubles when I went to low-carb / ketogenic diets. It can work for the "volume" part of training, but as you ad speed work sessions, you need those carbs. Lot of people ask me where do I get my carbs from, basically tons of fruit, sweet potatoes, little honey here and there, the Gen UCAN shakes and occasional rice usually in the form of sushi (rice is not paleo, it is grain, but one of the less harmfull grains and I do not do it very often).

I think the 80 - 20 % rule is what you should aim for. 80 % time stick with the clean diet, 20 % time treat yourself. We should enjoy our lives! I would also have "recovery" period after my two A races each year = about a week or two when I treat myself to whatever I want = croissants in Madrid after Berlin last autumn. Croissant = 1000 % not paleo :D The only thing is that the longer my body is used to the good fuel, the less I crave the other stuff and the worse I feel after eating it. Burger with bacon and cheese with fries is my biggest treat still :) (no bun of course!)

... this was usually my breakfast at the camp, one more smaller plate of just fruits would follow.

Alternative recovery meal when you want to skip the "powdered" stuff and have time to go for the real thing.

One of the dinners ... salmon & shrimp kebab and ton of veggies :)

This was great treat, went for a fancier dinner one night, the first picture is "amuse bouche" and I didn't eat the ravioli, goat cheese salad for starters, steak with just veggies and pineapple "carpaccio" as dessert. Oh YUM!

Red meat is pretty crucial to keep your iron and ferratin levels up. I am getting to get those checked asap after talking about the usual deficiency in lot of endurance athletes with Nick Anderson.

9) Enjoy the process and have fun!

Well, you should not obsess about your running, it is very good to have other interests becose there might be times when you cannot run. 

My office by the swimming pool some of the days. Love my espresso ... only decaf now before the race :(

Definitely a treat meal, I also thought it looked very funny (can you see me blushing now?), did not eat the pastry though, only the banana and ice cream. They would not have real whipped cream, I did not want the chemical stuff from the sprayer, so better went without it.

Thank you for staying with me up here :)

What are your golden rules to stick with?

What do you need to work on more?

Have you ever been to running camp?