Abel Tasman Trail, New Zealand

Guys, I don’t want to exaggerate, but Abel Tasman trail is one of my favorite trails ever.
I can’t barely describe with words how beautiful it is, the quality of the ground for enjoying an absolutely great running practice and the number of views that you’ll meet during the session.

The trail is easily accessible, and you can either park by the entrance or run from the base camp, in case you are overnight. In our case, we arrived the night before, to take a walk along the beach and have a drink with the ocean as a witness. Amazing!

I’m waking up early and preparing my coffee (grind, heating water, french press, pour over, wait, enjoy). With the first sip, I like to wake Nicki up. She slowly opens her eyes and I know she wants to sleep a bit more, so I give to her two more sips, while I’m staring at the first lights of the day and enjoying my favorite time of the day. After the grace period, I open the doors and Nicki jump out.

We normally don’t like to have breakfast before the 1st practice of the day, so it’s quite straightforward for us: Clothes and runners on, water intake and we’re ready to go.
Disclaimer: I’m aware that taking long training sessions in fasting could not be good. We do because we are used to, but we do know it’s may not the best approach. Find your way.

Starting out from the base camp and hitting the trail after 1,5km. From there, prepare yourself to enjoy a trail I bet you’ll not be disappointed. The conditions of the ground are simply perfect, with a wide path that allows you to run fast and with a great grip. The panorama is unbelievable, with the sea all the way up on your right and a forest that plays drawing a zig-zag across bridges and falls. Open your eyes, because you’ll find several spots to go down to beaches that are not accessible by car, and the water is crystal clear. In our way back, we can’t resist anymore temptation, so we turn the engines off and we are in our way down to the beach. And it’s pay off! A rock access to a white sand beach, with an incredible turquoise water that is calling us to try it out.

After spending some minutes there, we start again to run back, and this time the traffic is terrific. The people have started to do the trail and the solitude is gone. Rather, the run itself is a challenge to avoid crashes, since the people (and I don’t blame them for that) is enjoying an amazing walk with family and friends.

To wrap up and give some facts, we did around 22k in two ways, but you can easily extend to something around 26 to 30k. The trail is allowing you to push as much as you want, and the only negative point can be the traffic, so I recommend to start early to have a fresh track.
Beautiful trail, amazing training and unforgettable views, I hope to hit it again!

Cheers,
Dani

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Alex Knob Trail, New Zealand

During our honeymoon across New Zealand and, after almost 2.000km of driving, we stopped over in the Franz Josef Glacier. It’s amazingly sad to stare how the Glacier is getting smaller year by year, mostly because of the climate change. Still, it’s quite impressive to see such a natural phenomenon and stare for some minutes realizing how small we are.

After walking across the natural park, we headed up to the town and enjoyed some bribes, with a burger and some French fries to share. During the dinner, we were researching for the next day hiking route and eventually decided for the Alex Knob.

Day D arrives and we are ready to go.
After grinding some coffee beans with the manual grinder (what a great investment!) I prepare a French press and pour the coffee over a titanium mug from Snowpeak that Nicki has giving to me as a present. The process of the coffee preparation is a habit I’ve, a routine that I love to do every morning.

I’m driving at 6.30am from the base camp. I’m a really bad sleeper, I recognize that. As soon as I’m excited due to an upcoming activity, my body travels to my childhood and I only hope that the night goes fast.
We hit the starting point before 7.00am, ensuring that we are kicking the trail off and avoiding traffic.

We’re discussing in front of the billboard with the Alex Knob trail details, where is written that we will need around 8h to complete the hike. As we know by experience that they overexaggerate the timings and we, as usual, are planning to run as much as possible, the forecast is dropping down from something around 4h30’ to 5h.

The day was grey and a bit rainy, which on the one hand make the weather delicious and perfect to run with one layer. The opposite side of the coin is that the lookouts are covered with fog, and we can’t see anything below us.

In terms of describing the trail, I would say is a great track to enjoy a combination of running and hiking. The route has many parts runnable, and it’s not getting super step until the last kilometers. The trails are well maintained, which make you comfortable and safe during the whole thing.
The length is around 17km, with an altitude of 1.200m and took us around 3h25’ .
The price is, basically,  the 2 lookouts you’ll find during your way up (when clear weather), the forest track where you have to pass under trees and little climbs and finally the lookout to the Franz Josef Glacier (that we were not able to see at all due to the conditions).

To sum up, a great morning to explore outdoors, take a moderate physical activity and breathe fresh air.

Our very last tip about it: Prepare beforehand some picnic and park the camper/car at the entrance of the park, just in one side of the river. Take your breakfast/lunch there and enjoy the views!

Cheers,
Dani Juan

Running NYC before the dawn

Hi there,
Fresh landed from NYC and already missing the city.

It was my second time in the big apple and it was quite different on this occasion.
In my first visit, it was a one-day stop before heading up to Wildwood, to spend a summer as a lifeguard at a waterpark.
This time, I was going with business purposes, meeting key stakeholders and witnessing the launch of the unique Predator. Big time!

But before suiting up for meetings, a group of bold Adidas people was ready to hit the streets of New York. 6.30am at the main entrance of our hotel in Lower Manhattan and off to the Hudson Bay.
It was amazing to run for 6 days in a row along this route, crossing a bunch of people that were winning the morning by putting its shoes on and embracing the dawn.
I love this kind of cities where doesn´t matter the time you go out for a run, you always find extraordinary normal people having a physical activity before breakfast. The motivation of seeing them, at least for me, priceless.

Special mention to an uplifting catch up with Rafa Olivera and César Villalba, two amazing designers, outstanding athletes (sub 2h30′ marathon for Rafa and Ironman 70.3 Worl Championship slot for the last 3 years for César) and inspiring guys.
Let´s do it again soon!

The bottom line is clear: Wherever you go, take your shoes and explore the city, I can´t imagine a better way to discover a place.

As the photo says: NYC, City of Dreams.

Cheers,
Dani Juan

Running Hacks or How to make the best out of a practice

Hi guys,
I’m currently adding a bunch of miles to my running and not everytime is easy to overcome a practice. It may come from tiredness, both physical o mental, soreness in some specific muscle or just a mind hurdle.

What I’m using and hopefully you can get benefit of, it’s a battery of hacks to cheat my body and mind on those days that I’m not feeling like to run:

  • Before going off:
    • Watching a video that motivates you
    • Reading an uplifting article
    • Listening a song that boost your ass out
  • During the practice:
    • Use 2 differenciate parts in your listening:
      • 1st part, I use to play a podcast of a topic that I’m interesting
      • 2nd part, I play a music playlist with old songs, trying to stimulate my brain to think in where I was at that time. Prepare to be surprise about how many great times come over!
    • Play with Fear: For me, I set a goal that people is not overtaking me.
      To start, you can define a number a try to stick to it
    • Guilt: A great negative incentive linked with something unhealthy you’ve eating in the last day/hours
    • Rewards: Here I love two approaches
      • If I achieve the goal, the reward will be the breakfast, lunch or dinner
      • If I excel the goal or I’m struggling and I force myself to keep on moving, I add something else on top. Normally, a McFlurry is such a yummy motivation to push further
  • Post running:
    • Stick to the rewards you have achieved, or next time your brain may reject to collaborate that much
    • Write down the ideas you have generated during the running
    • Relax and switch gears, you’ve reset your body and mind

I hope this post is helping you to run farther, faster or just to run!

Cheers,
Dani Juan

Back to the roots

Hi guys,
Some days ago, I was at home doing a kind of training camps, in order to build the base for IronMan 70.3 Vietnam but also to prepare different (an amazing) milestones that are coming pretty soon.

During this short period, I stick to train without music. Why?
The reason was taken, basically, because I was missing, somehow, the connection with the environment when running or cycling, yet the ability to listen to my body.
Last but not least, I was searching for finding inner motivation, rather than the energy boost that music produces on us.

With this setup and in a period of 4 days, I rode a decent 350k on the bike; running was the most cutted but still 50k and eventually a solid swimming of 10k. And as mentioned before, no music in any single session.

The sensations were good! I felt more awake on the bike, being able to appreciate much more the environment and definitely being aware of the traffic.
In terms of running, the feeling was alike, but running close the a noise highway made annoying parts of the practices.
Nothing to comment in swimming, thus I never use any music device in that environment.

To sum up, a great breakout to train both body and mind, to be more aware to everything that is surrounding us and to embrace inner motivation.

And for the future, I would love to maintain some sessions like above, but I’m still a big fan of training with music though =)

Cheers,
Dani Juan

Running at its best

Hi guys,
All of us, me included, are nowadays slaves of running with a GPS tracker.
Platforms like Strava, gear like Garmin or apps as Runtastic are driving us nuts to check how long, how fast and how good are we performing in any single session.

Don’t misunderstanding me, I love all of them and I use in my daily basis.
I do think is great to track your activities whether you want to perform but also to analyse your improvements and ultimately to record your weekly mileage.

However, what I’m missing some days is the “freedom” to run without looking constantly to the watch. A running session to merge with the environment, listen to your body and keep your mind gathering everything is popping up in your way. Running at its best.

As I’m not happy and I feel a bit slave of my Garmin, I’ve introduced a session called, once again, Running at its best. It’s an easy game to play, let me explain how is working:

  1. On your marks: Put your runners on, try to wear a long sleeve top to cover your watch and head up for a running session.
  2. Set: Press your GPS device and search for the signal. It’s green? Perfect, you are set.
    Press the button “start” and cover your watch.
  3. Go: Off for a run. Don’t do your typical route, that’s cheating. Pick a new way and don’t set a pace or time, just let your body steers you.
  4. Guess it: Before arriving to the finish line, try to guess how long and the average pace you were running.
  5. Stop the clock: This is the 1st time you should see your watch since you pressed start.
  6. Take a breath: And now, one of the key things of the game: Give to yourself some minutes and think how do you feel, the sensations of the running and how deep do you know your body, pace, you name it.

I played this game last Sunday in my long run. I guessed 19k in 1h25′.
Close enough, I reached 19k in 1h26′.
But, to be honest with you guys, after checking the watch, I decided to end up the half marathon. The power of the number 21!

Try it out and let me know how you feel!

Cheers,
Dani Juan

How to win the day – Boost

Hi guys,
Let me start as my previous post: winning the morning is winning the day

Today I would like to give you a Morning routine that I love and, foremost, it will boost you to walk into the office with your brain and batteries ready to rock.

This routine needs 40′, so no excuses!

  • Open your eyes: Wake up, drink a glass of water and prepare an espresso (optional)
  • Meditation: Focus in 5′ meditation, breathing in and out and letting your head go
    I’m using now Simple Habit and formerly Headspace.
  • On your shoes: Choose a 20′ to 30′ aerobic activity. I like running, but brisk walking is perfect as well.
  • Food for Thought: Don’t go out with your phone or ipod. Select the night before a podcast with something you want to learn or keep yourself updated.
    Personally, I like shows as How I built this, the Tim Ferriss show or Extremely Productivity, but there is a bunch of great options in itunes.
  • Shower and Breakfast: Put yourself fresh and refuel your deposits.
    I like to do my own Porridge, made with Oats, protein powder, coconut milk, banana and walnuts. Cinnamon and chia seeds on top
    Note: Don’t spend money in already prepared Porridge, rather cook it at home, is extremely easy and you know exactly what you want to add
  • Off to the office: You’re ready to rock the day.
    You have completed your brain training, your physical activity, grabbing some ideas and giving to your body a good (and yummy) breakfast.

Last but not least, I like to start visualising the day at this point.
Essentially, I dissect my daily tasks by relevance, giving the first 1 hour to the most important one.

This is how my Boost day looks like. It can change slightly, depending if I’m extending my training up to 1h. I like to hit this day at least once per week, usually when I’m quite tired and I know I will be not able to perform in a training practice as I should.

I encourage you to try it out, set a couple of days of your week and note how do you feel.
Enjoy!

Cheers,
Dani Juan