The Village Velodrome Appreciation Society

A blog about jitensha and jogging

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Strength exercises

Haven't blogged for awhile. Hardly feel like I'm a runner anymore. Been doing my strength exercises, stretching a bit but not enough, and bought a golf ball today to help my foot muscles.

I have so much energy - basically, I've peaked now after all my weeks of training, but I'm not allowed to run.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Well done to all the Shinjuku runners today!

After my knee flared up again yesterday I iced and stretched a lot. Today, I only made it 15 minutes before my knee went again. If there was any good news, it's that my left knee didn't hurt. We were running tempo (ペース走) though, so maybe I didn't stress it much.

Last week was meant to be my big week of training for the marathon. I ran a total of 29 minutes. Hmmmm. Maybe that's not the best way to prepare.

If I can't run this week I need to think of ways to stay aerobically fit without using my knees. I have read that for my right knee - which has chondromalacia - I can't even do running in water. If it really is as bad as I fear, I'm not meant to bend the knee.

I really thought the massage I had on Friday loosened me up enough to get my kneecaps tracking properly again, but I was too optimistic.

I wonder what will happen in the marathon if I can line up and finish. The lack of miles will hurt me, but I've done a lot of long runs before this injury hit, including a 2 hour run every Monday for about 4 months and the run that saw my right knee go was 30kms. So I have some miles in my legs. I just have a 4-week taper!

Here's a good piece on chondromalacia from the Cool Running website.

Runner's Knee
(Chondromalacia of the patella)

Pain around and sometimes behind the kneecap. One of the most common injuries among runners, runner's knee most often strikes as runners approach forty miles per week for the first time. Even after taking a few days off, the pain seems to come right back, sometimes even intensifying, after the first few miles of the next run. The pain often feels worst when running downhill or walking down stairs, and the knee is often stiff and sore after sitting down for long periods. You might hear a crunching or clicking sound when you bend or extend your knee.

The sure-fire test for runner's knee: sit down and put your leg out on a chair so that it's stretched out straight. Have a friend squeeze your leg just above the knee while pushing on the kneecap. She should push from the outside of the leg toward the center. At the same time, tighten your thigh muscle. If this is painful, you're looking at runner's knee.

Likely causes:
It's actually not your knee's fault at all. Blame your feet and thighs; for one reason or another they aren't doing their jobs properly. Your knee moves up and down in a narrow little groove in your thigh bone. It's a nifty design: when your legs and feet are working efficiently, your knee moves smoothly and comfortably with every step. But trouble appears when your kneecap moves out of its track, or rubs up against its sides. That trouble becomes pain when you factor in nearly 1000 steps per cartilage-grinding mile. Over time the cushioning cartilage around the knee becomes worn. That smarts. And that's runner's knee.

How did your knee get off track? Probably because of relatively weak thigh muscles and a lack of foot support. It's your thigh muscles that hold your kneecap in place, preventing it from trying to jump its track. Running tends to develop the back thigh muscles (hamstrings) more than those in the front (the quadriceps), and the imbalance is sometimes enough to allow the kneecap to pull and twist to the side.

Your foot, meanwhile, may not be giving you the stability you need. It's likely that your feet are making a wrong movement every time they hit the ground, and you're feeling the constant pounding and repetition of this mistake in your knee. Maybe you're overpronating (rolling your foot in) or supinating (turning it out too much) when you run.

Runner's knee is further aggravated by simple overuse. If you have steeply increased your mileage recently, you might consider holding back a bit. Likewise, back off on new hill work or speed work. Runner's knee can also be brought on by running on banked surfaces or a curved track. Running on a road that is banked at the sides, for example, effectively gives you one short leg, causing it to pronate and put pressure on the knee. Try as much as possible to run on a level surface, or at the very least give each leg equal time as "the short leg."

This is an easily treatable injury with a little patience. First, relieve the pain by icing your knees immediately after running. You can use commercially available cold packs or simply put a wet towel in the freezer before you run. Wrap the cold packs around each knee for about fifteen minutes to bring down the swelling. Take an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen or aspirin after running, too, but only with food and never before running. Before bed, put heating pads or warm wet towels on your knees for half an hour.

Stabilize your feet. Make sure you have the right kind of shoes for your foot type (review our tips on shoe shopping). Consider buying a commercially made foot support in the footcare section of your drug store. If, in combination with thigh-strengthening exercises, the foot supports are not enough to get rid of the injury, see a podiatrist about whether you might need orthotics.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

I felt so good and then...

...the knee pain returned.

I ran 20 minutes today. I was intending to run further but my good friend Mr. ITB paid a visit to my left knee after 15 minutes, followed soon after by my kneecap pain. I walked back home, iced, stretched and I'm about to do strength exercises and roll on my rolling pin.

I felt SO good when I started running tonight. My knees felt loose and strong - and pain free.

Sadly, I'm not running the Shinjuku half marathon tomorrow. It's the first race I've ever had to miss. But I've still got some time before the marathon. With luck and some effort I might still be able to line up.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Two massages today!

Went back to 'baba to get a massage today, but it's all rather complicated. Because the govt pays for it they can only work on two body areas each visit (stupid huh!) so today it was my hips, but the treatment ended after 30 mins again.

So I wandered around for a bit then thought - why don't I get another massage, so I headed over to K's at Ebisu and had a great massage. A new bloke Otake-san massaged me. I was so impressed I've booked in for 90 minutes next Thursday. I think I might even run tomorrow!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Massage today

I haven't run since the ekiden - which is a pity, but I have to accept it. My knees feel bad, but I found that taping the right knee helps with the pain.

My strength exercises seem to hurt the knee for a little while after I finish - so I'm not sure I'm doing the exercises correctly.

My work with the rolling pin and ball already seems to be paying off a bit - my thigh is less painful now than it was before. This should mean that the ITB is loosening.

Today, I'm off to see another new massuer - K's at Takadanobaba. The main reason for this is they accept the national health card - so it should be significantly cheaper. The only problem I might face is that none of the massuers there speak any English. Luckily, I don't need much English: Massage is Japanese is massaji; hip is hip; tight is taito. About the only word I need is itai (painful but also "ouch!") for when they massage too hard.

If I run the Shinjuku half-marathon this Sunday it'll be slow. I'll need to pay a lot of attention to the right knee, and also stop to stretch at regular intervals. If I get to within 5km of the finish, I'll give it a bit of a go then. But really, I doubt I'll line up - imagine the hassle of the knee flaring up after 10km and having to wait for the bus in order to get back to the finish.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Knee pain worse

For the first time I've now got permanent knee pain and some swelling. I'll just take each day as it comes. I'm still glad I ran the ekiden, basically the injury was already there and wasn't going to get a whole lot worse.

When I get time off work next I need to work out a plan for fixing the knees - I'm doing a fair bit already:

Rolling pin, ball and roller massage
Taping of the patella
Taking glucasomine
Strength exercises

The important things to focus on will be the strength exercises and massage (both deep tissue and with a roller). Both pains are caused by muscle imbalances, so loosening the outside of the leg and increasing the pull on the inside of the leg is the answer - I just doubt it can be done in time for the marathon. The one think that gets me is this - the pain came on in four days (left leg) and about two days (right leg) - so why does it take months to get the pain to go away?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

We won!

After all my fears about not starting, not finishing or badly damaging myself I managed to line up, run, and help the team to a win in the open division.

Our women also won their event. Our masters A team ended up having quite a battle with our masters B team - the B team leading for much of the way. They both got pipped by the Police team, but took 2nd (A team) and 3rd (B team).

I'll add results as I find them out.

I ran 2.8km in 9minutes 05seconds. I'm fairly happy with that. I wasn't firing today - too many disruptions to my running, too many other worries.

Namban member Paddy took some good shots of the startline (I hope you don't mind me using these on my blog Paddy!), I also nicked one from team mate Jason's blog (again, let me know if that's a problem!) and I took one shot myself.

After the run I went for a 10 minute warm down and the injury to my right knee flared up again. It's such a strange pain, it comes and goes quickly. When it's bad I can't even walk, yet minutes later it can be OK. The physio said it was patella maltracking, but I think it's chondromalacia or some sort of very localised problem.

I can take some solace in the fact that my football team, Charlton, won this weekend. A very rare event. To make things even better Sheffield United lost, making our chances of staying in the Premiership just a little more likely than me winning the pools three times.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

On for the ekiden? I still think so

Woke up with a sore throat and fever this morning, but as the day went on I felt better. Did a 30 minute run tonight with some fartlek stuff to test the knee. The left knee is my only worry - the ITB is cutting into it a bit. I feel like I can run tomorrow - the reasons are:

1. Running fast is easier on the ITB than running slow. A quote from the Stamford University coach "Biomechanical studies have shown that faster-paced running is less likely to aggravate ITBS because at foot strike the knee is flexed beyond the angles that cause friction."

2. The pain isn't bad - so provided I look after myself after the run I should pull through.

3. I've learnt some good new techniques for dealing with ITB - including my torture chamber kit of things to roll my thigh on (pics to come later) and icing.

4. I really want to run, and it's possible that this ITB won't let me finish the marathon anyway, so a win or place in the ekiden is a consolation prize.

My only worry is not running my fastest. But I think I should be flying tomorrow, condering I have run just over an hour in the past 5 days.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Another bike to take my mind off the ekiden

In my desperation to run the Shibuya ekiden I headed to Shibuya to find a rolling pin and a soft ball to use for massaging my leg.

I noticed this very basic but clean and cool looking track bike...(it's a cheapo Fuji in disguise, but don't tell anyone)

All red - he even painted the headset

Cut off riser bars - a bit silly really

The rear wheel has a strip of LEDs on it and the red lights flash in a random pattern

NEWS FLASH A little update. I went for a 40 minute run this afternoon. After 25 minutes, I did a 1km hit out at a good pace. The legs felt OK. The ITB pain didn't really worry me, in fact, it feels better at speed (apparently this is normal). While out on the run I felt like I can definitely do the ekiden. Now, a shower and cool down later I feel fairly confident still - if a little fragile.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Good news?

I went to Tokyo Physio today. Those guys cost SO much! ¥15,000 for the visit plus a bundle of tape for my knees. But anyway, they had a good look at the left and right knees and the diagnosis is...

I haven't torn anything, nothing loose or about to fall off - and the most likely cause of the pain on the right side is the same as the left - patella maltracking caused by a tight ITB.

On the left side I've developed mild tendonitis under the knee, which is adding to my pain.

So I have been given a basic stretching exercise to do each day, I've got a rolling pin for self massage, a small ball to roll my leg and hip on, and a rucksack full of books to add weight for when I do my exercises. I have tape on both knees to center the patella. I also have a bag of ice. Now I have to work on the leg every day. I read that one guy fixed his ITB problems in 11 days with regular deep-tissue massage. I can't afford that, so it'll have to be the rolling pin and ball - and stretching.

If you share my ITB problem, you might like to read these two articles, both of which are very informative:

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Giro track bike

I'm through with worrying about my knee and whether I can run this weekend, so for now it's back to bikes. Here's a nice old Giro. Although Giros are made in Fukuoka you still see a few on the streets of Tokyo - but usually they're going too fast for me to take a picture.

This one has a WAYYYYY old rear hub - an ancient (1980?) Dura-Ace double sided, keirin width hub. The bars are steel Nittos, the stem also Nitto. The seat and seatpost really out to be scrapped. Are the forks original? I'm thinking they aren't - maybe just put on so he doesn't have to drill his track forks.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Bad news

Well folks, my luck looks like it's run out. I've tentatively pulled out of the ekiden and told the team organiser. The half marathon looks unlikely the week after and training has stopped again. The right knee is stuffed. Really sore. Hurts like hell when I go to stand up (although it's fine when I walk for a bit). I have no idea what's wrong. I have no swelling. The pain is on the inside of the right knee cap, and hurts most when I push the kneecap with my finger to the outside of the leg. The pain is sharp and hot and immediate.

The left leg was bad enough - the maltracking patella has developed into standard ITB problems, cutting into the side of my leg like cheesewire. But this right knee problem has stopped me in my tracks. What can I do? I guess the RICE and KTCSAL (that's Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Kick The Cat, Swear A Lot) methods are the only answer.

Monday, January 15, 2007

A new pain

Today, I planned to run 35km at 4.15 pace. I did laps of the Imperial Palace, and the first lap felt good, done a little too fast at 20min 50sec. I felt my ITB was a bit tight so I stopped for 30 seconds and stretched it - which helped. The next 3 laps was the same, 4.15kms, 30 second stetch. But, at 24km ny right knee developed a nasty pain. It's the first time my right knee has hurt. I stopped. Stretched a lot, ran, stretched, ran, stretched, but at 30km it was time to call it a day. The knee still hurts now. This has come totally out of the blue.

The other weird thing was my heart rate after I stopped - it sped up. For a good 5 minutes or more it raced along at about 160-170pbm while I was standing still.

I need one of these...

...anyone know where I can find one?

Image taken from

Sunday, January 14, 2007

90 minutes - but was it easy enough?

I decided to run 90 minutes today - but to take it easy because tomorrow I'm going to do a big run. Last week I said I did 90 minutes 'fast' - well I ran the same course 3 minutes faster. And I didn't mean to. I wasn't trying - honest. So maybe I'll pay the price tomorrow. The knee was OK. The achilles good.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

1 hour easy

Ran with the wife again today. We ran at a decent clip for an hour. The knee and achilles are fine, kind of. I mean, the pain doesn't bother me. The pain comes and goes. At times I think 'Great, it's gone' then 5 minutes later it's back again. The knee isn't painful really, it feels more like someone is grabbing it with their hand and squeezing it.
I've got tape on my achilles now, running from under my foot to the top of my calf. It stops the achilles stretching too much.
Tomorrow I will do another medium length, medium pace run, then Monday morning I will do a long run of about 35km.
I find the real benefits of a massage don't kick in until about 3 days after the treatment, so here's hoping.
If anyone knows of any surefire treatments please let me know. I always read about sportsmen and women who undergoe 'intensive treatment' to get fit for a big event - but I never hear what that treatment is. Any ideas?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Maeda and Gan Well Pro

Back in November I spotted the best looking keirin bike I've ever seen. And I saw it again today. But the owner's gone and put some goofy gold handlebars on it. Still, it's worth some more photos.

I was happy to have seen the Gan Well, but then I spotted a Maeda - my first one (I'm getting like a trainspotter - I want to see all the brands). Suntour made these frames.

Running wise - did 30 minutes today. Had a massage, Knee and achilles feel bad. Don't want to talk about it.

My top 5 cities to run in

Inspire by the list on The Greater Perrinville Athletic Association (see right) I thought I'd quickly list my fave 5 places to run.

1. Rejkyavic - Almost no ice (the name is to trick people). And you can float in a hot sulphur lake after your run - bliss!


2. Adelaide - my hometown. 30km of beach and almost no people on it - imagine, a 30km barefoot run!

3. Tokyo - best running club in the world, some good park and river courses.


4. Kobe - good paths along the coast. Excellent places for long runs out near the longest single-span bridge in the world.

5. London - surprise choice, but the Thames makes it a good place. And if it's good enough for Craig Mottram...


Jan 11, Thursday, 2007. Happy Birthday to me!

I turned 37 today. 37! It can't be possible. Although my left knee feels about 97.

I did another 90 minute run today. I tried, but it was one of those days when the body refuses to respond. I kicked a bit on the way back and managed to do my usual 90 minute course in 89 minutes - so I guess I'm going OK.

Had a massage at K's today. Sato-san is the name of the massuer. And once again he has worked his magic. My knee feels better than before and I'm going back tomorrow for another go. After that, I'll get a massage once a week until the marathon. And the marathon is only 37 days away! Only 30 days more hard training to go.

I took this picture below when we went to Kyoto two weeks ago - isn't it pretty...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

50 minutes - easy

Took it easy tonight - I hate taking it easy, the runs seem to last forever, and I spend all my time thinking about whether my injuries are OK or not. And therefore, my knee felt worse today than yesterday. Icing it right now, it'll be OK.

Jan 9 - Tuesday - 90 minutes fast

I felt tired today. Got very little sleep after doing nightshift last night (8th) and getting up for day shift (9th). But it's time to do miles - so I did a fast 90 minute run. I made it almost as far as I used to go on my 2 hour runs.

I feel like the knee will make it, the achilles will make it. The right knee is getting stiff too, but it will make it. The hip is great, the pain at the back of the knee is gone (a really good deep tissue massage got that out). I've got blisters and a sore left shoulder - but that can't stop me running.

Not long to go now to the marathon.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The wine that makes you whine

Sometimes I got for a run with my wife. She runs at a pretty good speed (she did the London marathon in 3.49) so it's good for my easy runs. So today we headed out together. BUT, she went out drinking with a good friend of ours last night - and polished off a whole bottle of red by herself. The run turned into a walk, which turned into a search for a place to buy some Pocari Sweat. After some dodgy moments (red wine was threatening to return to the throat) we were able to run again. A course I'd usually do in 40 minutes took us 1hr 05min. Still, it was a lovely day for a run.

I used new innersoles today - the Superfeet ones. They're OK at slow speeds, and maybe I can get used to them. I think they make me run better because of the arch support.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

20km at 4 min km pace

Today, I ran close to 20km in 1hr 20min 21sec - including having to stop twice because my shoelaces came undone (both sides grrrr) and I got hit by a cyclist (stoooopid gaijin girl, where's Ishihara when you need him?).

I'm pretty happy with the run - but holding that pace for twice the distance and then some? Forget it. I'm not ready yet.

Because I ran in the rain yesterday I was forced to wear my racing flats. Now I've got blisters. Still trying to find a good shoe/sock combination for the marathon. I think it'll be flats with thickish socks.

One thing about running at the palace is that people totally misjudge your speed when you're running fast. They look at you, then walk in front of you, presumably thinking you'll take a few more seconds to get to where they are. I'm constantly surprised that parents will let their toddlers run across the path of cyclists and runners - it seems they just don't understand what happens if a child gets hit.

Injury report: The knee behaved - just. Some pain, some pain that came on at about the 18km mark (worrying). Good thing is the pain moves around and never gets too bad. I do think it impairs my running though - the muscle just above the knee is rock hard, totally unusable.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Great bikes in Hiroshima

For the New Year break we went down to Kobe, Hiroshima (pictured below), Miyajima and Kyoto (all in four days!).

Hiroshima remined me of student towns in Europe - like Lund in Sweden or Oxford in England (OK, maybe a few more tall buildings). It has lots of good restaurants, cafes and shops. And a few good bikes. Here's a couple I spotted.

I've never seen a "Lighting" before. This is made by a local builder who no longer sells frames via shops. Unfortunately, this bike shows all the hallmarks of a non-rider. Seat pointing down, bars at a silly angle and cut down.

A bit too much axle, not sure why (old keirin-style 110mm hub on 120mm-spaced frame?) Very tight wheel clearance though, nice.

The super cool Nitto blue anodised handlebars, cut down way too much.

Now, you won't see many mountainbikes on this blog - but this one's pretty special. Spotted through a closed bike shop window. A carbon Colnago with no seattube. I'm no expert but, judging from the componentry, this frame is pretty old - one of Colnago's first efforts at making a mountainbike. Please let me know if I'm wrong.

OH, I did an hour today - but I feel quite proud of it because the rain was bucketting down and the temperature was about 9 degrees. My hands froze, my feet got drenched, and I had to swim a few bits.


Friday, January 05, 2007

The shocking truth about clothing weight!

The other day I thought I'd check out whether clothes vary in weight much.

First, I put the red singlet I wore for the London Marathon in 2005 on the scales. It came in at about 140 grams, which seemed reasonable. But then I put my new Namban Rengo top on the scales - 53 grams! A saving of 87 grams.

This got me thinking about shorts and socks too. I took pictures of each item as I weighed it - have a look how much extra weight you could be lifting with every step you take.

First, the pictures of the two tops.

The Nike top

The Nike top on the scales

The Namban Rengo (Asics) top

The Namban Rengo (Asics) top on scales

Heavy Nike shorts

The heavy Nike shorts on the scales

Light Nike shorts

The light Nike shorts on the scales

Heavy Nike socks

Light Nike socks

Now for the science bit.

The red Nike top weighs 139 grams. The Namban top weighs 53 grams.
The grey Nike shorts weigh 103 grams. The black Nike shorts weigh 70 grams.
The Nike 'tube' socks weigh 82 grams (41 x 2). The light Nike socks weigh 16 grams (8 x 2).

The total weight saved by the lighter clothes is 185 grams. That's the difference between running in racing flats vs training shoes. Obviously, there's no need to fuss about 180 odd grams if you're 5 kilograms overweight, but for runners who feel like they're already at the optimum weight, I think the hidden weight of clothes is worth pondering - or maybe I just have too much time on my hands!


90 minute run

I finally got back to running today. The knee isn't perfect - still stiff and a bit sore - but it doesn't hurt much and doesn't get worse on the run. Most pain is in the tendon area below the knee and to the right of the patella. This makes a lot of sense because my patella is being pulled from the top left - so the strain is diagonally opposite to the pull.

I will get a massage every week from now to the marathon, so I will keep working on the ITB.

I wore my new shoes today - I must admit that when I walked out the door I thought I'd do no more than 1 hour, so wearing 170 gram shoes didn't seem like such a bad thing - but the new shoes were fine. I don't know what it is about Mizuno's X-10 sole, but the first couple of times I wear new Mizuno Wave Spacers i get hot feet. After the first two runs the heat goes.

I should make a note to myself here - I had a twinge in the groin out running today. Hopefully it's nothing - I don't think I need any more muscle problems. It was in the left leg of course - I've never had any problem ever with my right leg.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Route Vigor massage/1 hour cycling

I had my massage AT LAST, and my knee feels almost back to normal - I think. The guys at Route Vigor, especially Kanazawa san (if I have his name right) did such a good job. He started by using a special ultrasonic "steam" machine which fires a rapid pulse of something - not sure what - through tubes connected to the skin with patches.

After that, he got stuck into the massage. But it got better - while the sensei massaged my hip and lower back another sport massuer started on my feet and lower legs - it was funny when the pain got too much and I had to explain who was hurting what.

I went for a ride on my bicycle along the Arakawa. It takes only about 15 minutes to get there and then it's traffic-free cycling for miles and miles. I have forgotten how to properly ride a bicycle - it took 40 or so minutes to get the feeling back.My knee felt good - but running on it could still be a different matter.

Here's on more pic from the ekiden (more below). Anyone know who it is? I think it might be Juntendo University's final runner. He's got orange Mizunos on - similar to mine, but not quite the same (I had a good look).

I'm back to running again tomorrow - hurray!

Hakone Ekiden

Yesterday, I watched the Tokyo-Hakone-Tokyo Ekiden, a two-day relay running event that pits Japan's top universities against each other. Unlike in Australia, university events here are of the highest standard. Most of the runners in this ekiden can run a sub-14 minute 5km and a sub-30 minute 10km.

My office is close to the finish line, so, from the window, I caught the second-placed Nihon University team runner finishing.

The crowds were four deep right along the final few kilometers of the course.

Kanagawa University's final runner in tears after finishing at the tail end of the field.

Waiting for the winner.

Crowds at the finish.

You would think watching all this running would inspire me, but instead, I went for a drink with my colleagues last night. I had four beers, I stayed up too late, I ate fried food. It's hard to not be able to run and yet try to stay focussed on running. I'm off to get my massage now - a good massage. Hopefully, I can run tonight or tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Arggh!!! This not running is driving me crazy

Things were slow at work today, so we switched on the telly and watched the ekiden. I felt really jealous of those guys. Three more days until I can run. Next time I get injured I must go cycling instead.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Back from holidays, but no running until Friday


We've just got back from a whirlwind trip that took in Kobe, Hiroshima and Kyoto. I know Kobe well, but the surprise of the cities was Hiroshima - quite a cool little place. Nice cafes, good restaurants (both upmarket and okonomiyaki), parks, a good bike shop (important) a great running shop that sells a wide array of track shoes (even more important?). In Kyoto, we found an amazing cafe - if you're going there you must checkout a place called Resort Style Cafe - weird name, but it makes sense when you get there. The downside of Kyoto - the old people, they must be just about the rudest people in Japan, snappy, pushy, blasting car horns, crashing into you, pushing you out the way - awful. I guess they're sick of tourists.

Throughout the holiday I managed to complain about my knee. But the good thing was if I stopped and stretched it for a while the pain subsided - a sure sign it's all down to my maltracking pattela. So I'm getting a massage Thursday and should be running again Friday. I haven't run since December 24 - so it's been 8 days. It feels like longer. Although, I've been walking a fair bit some days. Far too many days off running at a really crucial time for my marathon buildup - but it's taught me a valuable lesson about post-race stretching and massage - namely, I need a lot of it.

From now until the marathon I'm going to get a massage every week. Steve says the K's Massage center at Takadanobaba accepts Shakai Hoken - so that might be the cheapest option.

I read an excellent book on the flight there - Running to the Top by Derek Clayton. Clayton (for those of you who don't know) set a world marathon record in 1969 of 2:08:33.6 that stood for 12 years. After the race he said he peed blood and vomitted black stuff for six months. He was an outsider, learning from his (many) mistakes and always pushing a bit harder that anyone else. In these days of EPO and other drugs it's always hard to know which runners to admire, but Clayton so obviously ran clean - he simply had the ability to push that bit harder than anyone else. Incredibly, his VO2 was only 69. Mine was 69 when I was 16. He was a heavy guy, so it would have been difficult for him to get a massive VO2, but few marathoners who have run a sub-2.10 marathon would record lower than about 78.

In Kobe, I went to the Nike factory outlet and bought lots of socks and some shorts. That'll be money wasted if my knee doesn't get better!

A new 10km men's world record was set yesterday in Madrid by Eliud Kipchoge who ran the distance in 26:54, beating Haile Gebrselassie's record of 27.02. Incredibly, the guy Kipchoge beat - Zersenay Tadesse - also matched the record but was beaten by a whisker. Craig "Buster" Mottram ran 27:38 to finish third.