Calum Neff: World Record Interview

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Ten days ago, our gold coach Calum Neff beat the half marathon world record with a stroller finishing the Katy Half Marathon in 1:11:27. Read this exclusive interview with our new in-house hero.

First of all congrats to your amazing performance at the Katy Half Marathon! Can you tell us where you’re coming from and what running means to you?

I have been a running since I was four years old, completing my first race at the 1988 Cajun Cup 1k in Lafayette, Louisiana. I am actually a Canadian born in Aberdeen, Scotland- due to my fathers job we moved around the world to various counties which I really enjoyed. It can be really hard, especially for a kid, to completely uproot and have to start fresh but I always had family and running. The first couple of weeks at a new school were pretty quiet, tough to make friends, but as soon as that first run happened whether it be in gym class or a race, everyone knew who I was and they always helped. The running community is also so welcoming no matter where you go or how fast you are. Running has been my connection to this world.

Rick Frank
© Rick Frank

 

Tell us about your race at the Katy Half Marathon where you beat the world record for running with a stroller.

The Katy Half Marathon is a local race near our house just outside of Houston, Texas where we currently live due to my own line of work. The area is fairly new so the roads are smooth hard concrete and being only an hour north of the Gulf of Mexico it’s about as flat as you can get, I miss those Canadian Rocky Mountains! It’s a great course and time of year to run fast especially with a stroller. I had won the inaugural race last year in 1:09 just three weeks after running 2:22 at the Houston Marathon so I knew running both races again this year was doable. I had frustrating hamstring tightness that turned into cramps during the marathon this year where I ran 2:23, only 20 seconds off my personal best with a bad leg told me I was in the best shape of my life.

Was this record attempt something you had in mind for a long time? If so, did you do any specific training?

Most training was to gear up for the Houston Marathon, this included some really good long runs of up to 24 miles (38.5km) with lots of marathon pace work. Coming off Houston I did not feel as trashed as normal because I was held back by my hamstring I wasn’t able to fully exert myself. So getting recovered, especially the hamstring, was the main preparation for the record attempt. Also ensuring the Thule Glide stroller was completely safe at those speeds and that my daughter would be comfortable meant I did a few more training runs with the stroller. I ran some 400m repeats with her, some trails, and some runs around the neighborhood and park paths. We especially enjoyed Christmas this year pushing the double stroller around to see all the Christmas lights, I’ll usually bring a Bluetooth speaker to play music and in that case it was carols.

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© Aaron Palaian

 

What are your plans for the future? Rumors say that the world record with a stroller for a marathon is not unbeatable either…

Now that we have the half marathon stroller record the only logical next step is the full marathon, currently set at 2:42 by Michael Wardian. Honestly I think the 2:30 barrier is possible for me, just need to find the right race and have a good day. Holland (my almost one year old daughter that was in the stroller), loved the race we did, she was clapping and talking for almost the entire thing. She had a mile or so towards the end where she was getting a little fussy and had that been at the start I would have stopped. For the marathon there will some added requirements due the duration, a bottle, toys, music, and hopefully a long nap! My three year old, Alessandra, is only 10lbs more but obviously has many more stroller miles and able to process what’s going on, she’ll even pass her snacks over the handlebars for me to take right in my mouth!

Thank you Calum and all the best for the future.

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© Aaron Palaian

 

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All You Need to Know About Calf Cramps

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Who doesn’t know them, those nasty leg cramps? During the night or towards the end of longer endurance exercise the muscle contracts. This often happens completely unexpectedly for the athlete. But why?

The reasons for cramps as well as the ways to prevent them are manifold. Consequently, we need to differentiate between cramps during performance and cramps occurring while resting. Today’s blog is going to provide you with all you have always wanted to know about cramps in your calves.

Cramps while running

Symptoms

Sometimes, upcoming cramps announce themselves by slight contraction in the muscle. If you feel that, you should see it as a signal and react. Unfortunately, for many runners cramps do not announce themselves but they occur seemingly out of nowhere. For longer endurance performances, such as a marathon, there’s often a strong contraction in the calf area, so that, temporarily, continuing to run seems impossible.

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Running seems to be impossible when your calves are cramping

Reasons

The reason for cramps during performances often lies in a lack in sodium (as opposed to magnesium, which is often assumed). This mineral is mostly lost through the process of sweating. Especially on hot days, when peoples’ sweat production is on its top, cramps are common. Depending on both the outside temperature and the individual and his/ her shape, the amount of sweat produced per hour can be as large as 1liter. 400 to 1,000 mg sodium are lost with each liter.

Prevention

Cramps occurring during an endurance performance are best prevented by regular consummation of liquids and electrolytes. Depending on duration, on external circumstances and on the individual, the recommended dosage is between 400 and 800ml liquid, in combination with 600 to 800mg sodium/liter. Liquids free of added minerals are less easily absorbed by your body. If consumed in large amounts, such liquids can even constitute a hazard to your health and lead to a so-called hyponatremia.

Thus, for long and intense endurance performances, it is important that you either take some isotonic drink or that you, in addition to water, regularly provide your body with minerals in the form of gels, bars or salt pills.

In case of acute cramps you should lower your pace or even stand still, stretch the muscle in question, or even massage it with your hand a little. In most cases, however, providing your body with minerals will be the only way for you to continue running.

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Isotonic drinks are suited to prevent muscle cramps

Night cramps

Symptoms

Night cramps often occur completely out of nowhere and they can happen in various intensities. Sometimes the sole lifting of the tip of the toe is enough to provoke a cramp.

Reasons

The reasons for night cramps are manifold. For athletes, cramps at night mostly correlate with a lack in magnesium or with an overloaded muscle.

Prevention

In case of night cramps you should pay attention to an increased consumption of magnesium. Especially rich in magnesium are walnuts and wholegrain products and oats. If this is not enough, try magnesium supplements over a certain period of time. However, contact a doctor first and have a blood test done. It is best to take the magnesium after training or in the evening before going to bed. Magnesium can have laxative effects, so do not in any case take it immediately before or during training.

 

LeniThis blog was written by Ingalena Heuck, sports scientist, former German Champion in half marathon and running.COACH Gold Coach.