A Runner's World with Amby Burfoot
Second wind: how to retire and start running ultramarathons?
My grandmother knitted a sweater for me - it sounds a little more natural to the ear than my grandmother ran 250 km in Peru. Marina Vnukova , the heroine of our interview, a unique exemplar of its kind. Her running goals at the age of 57 are amazing, and the places for jogging and the complexity of the distances that she covered make you think: can I do that?
When we met Marina, I was very surprised that in my youth there were marathons she did not run and revealed her talent after retirement. For me, her story is a unique motivator and an opportunity to understand that our life does not end in retirement, after 50, after 45 ... it is diverse and absolutely incredible, and each new stage depends only on ourselves. But first things first.
Photo: Olga Maykopova
- Marina, tell us how your passion for sports began?
- During my student years I went to camps. I even have a USSR Mountaineer badge, received 40 years ago. But since our country later experienced difficulties, I had to fight these difficulties and there was no time for sports ( smiles ). Then, when my children grew up, I realized my dream: to go to the Himalayas. To prepare, I had to run for six months so that there was no altitude sickness, so that the body would adapt. At the very beginning, I couldn't run even 10 kilometers. I ran 3 kilometers, and then brisk walking, so that the body was at work, in motion. In the end, 10 kilometers was given to me very easily.
I overcame my first track very easily. Our Russian-speaking guide turned out to be an event organizer, and he invited me for a run. There I ran 21 kilometers and got into running. I cannot compete with people who have been involved in sports since childhood in terms of speed, so I started running for endurance. I went to two multi-day races: Fuerteventura - 120 km, 4 stages and Peru - 250 km, 6 stages.
- Where did you start running?
- I started running in Zhulebinsky forest park. There are fairly straight paths that get wet in the rain. Since I needed some irregularities for running in the mountains, I began to go to free trainings on Vorobyovy Gory, at the Nagornaya metro station, where there are hills, to work out the appropriate movements uphill.
I try to run longer distances, as it is interesting, there is an opportunity to think, observe nature. For myself, I call it a running tourist. When I talk to the leaders, I wonder if they have seen the various places that we ran, but they always answer that they have not, since they tried to run fast. And I'm not in a hurry, so I can properly examine the animals, the beautiful nature.
- Do you follow the pace?
- I only have my phone with me, but I don't using nothing. They gave me a chest heart rate monitor, but I feel uncomfortable running in it. It is wider than my arm and presses on the bones, so I gave it to another person andI run the old fashioned way. When a person has been running for many years, he feels the body, knows when to stop, take a break, if the pulse is too strong. When I visited the medical tent at the Moscow Marathon, I saw some men ( laughs ). Probably, their sense of self-preservation works less for them, for women it is not so, they have to think about the family ( smiles ). We do not need to prove something to each other.
- Do you agree with the fact that women increase their endurance with age?
- Agree. I was amazed at the Barcelona Olympics by our marathon, she was an elderly woman. I read a lot about it later, and really endurance appears with age. Therefore, it is not in vain that there is an age limit on many races: they are not allowed under 18, or even up to 21, because the body must grow and mature.
Photo: Olga Maykopova
- You have a lot of medical knowledge. Is it somehow related to your occupation?
- By profession I am an engineer, but by vocation it turns out that I am a runner ( laughs ). At first I read on the Internet, but there are a lot of notes from non-specialists who copy them from each other. The most reliable source is medical university textbooks on sports physiology. The data there is verified experimentally, so I believe more in science.
- Do you have optimal conditions for running? What is the most comfortable temperature for you?
- In 2016, the Moscow Marathon had a fairly comfortable temperature. In general, I love the heat, I love running in the desert. The body already on the second day adapts to the heat, which is in the shade plus 35, and in the sun 50. I ran to Peru through the Ica desert, and there, despite the heat, it is comfortable to run because the cold wind blows. By evening, the temperature drops to almost 0.
- How did you prepare for Peru?
- I read different plans, but it seems to me that everything is very individual. I trained for a long time in the heat, when the sun is overhead and the hottest. She ran until she got sick, then moved on to a step, but tried to stay close to the sun and imitate the conditions in which she would have to run. I ran up to 150 km a week, 500 km a month. So I tried to adapt to natural conditions.
Photo: Olga Maykopova
- How to prepare for such a marathon? And what to take with you?
- At such marathons, the organizers provided us only with a tent. We carried the rest on ourselves. The minimum weight was 6 kg, if someone did not have enough, then they reported, otherwise they could be disqualified. We had to consume 2,000 calories per day, all packages had to be labeled with the composition and calorie content. The organizers gave us water.
We took everything else with us: a sleeping bag, a rug, clothes. I weighed everything: a sleeping bag - 280 grams, a rug - 300 grams, 4 kg of freeze-dried food. I am in advanceI akupa food and weighed, noted the calorie content. I didn't take warm clothes, only a T-shirt and socks, so I had to walk around the camp in a sleeping bag. Because in the evening it is cold and strong wind, sometimes it was not even possible to pitch the tent, as it was being demolished. Once I had to spend the night in a public tent, there were about 50 people. I had to adjust everything for myself, run with a bag, train with a load, nevertheless, spare T-shirts had to be put on the shoulders, because there was a GPS sensor on one shoulder so that the organizers could find if a person fainted. In this case, either a helicopter arrives or a jeep arrives.
- How to navigate when you run such distances?
- The organizers mark the track, sometimes hang ribbons. Since there is nothing in the desert, there were small cairns made of stones, repainted in a bright crimson green color. That is, the pyramids can be seen from afar. At night stages we ran with headlamps. The organizers put glowing sticks, we were guided by the lights.
- In what intervals is the track marked?
- The track is marked at about 300-500 meters. That is, within sight. If there are natural heights, then they are placed so that you can run from pyramid to pyramid. The markup is good enough. If the wind is strong, then you start to run slowly and follow the tracks in the sand.
Photo: Olga Maykopova
- How much time do you spend stopping at such competitions?
- During the stages in which I participated, a full night's sleep is given. There were no stretches to run at night, at least not for those running fast. The long stage was given 34 hours, but I ran it in 11. That is, I had a full sleep. But not everyone, according to tradition, wakes up in the morning and meets those who ran all night. In our case, they were elderly Japanese, they walked almost all the way. And people greeted them with applause. Gray-haired people, with backpacks, walking with sticks - of course, this commands respect.
- How can you recharge on a distance?
- I take caffeinated and guarana gels with me and dissolve the running pill. It contains all the necessary salts and vitamins. With me I have one flask of clean water, the second with a solution. Usually at refueling points where we are given water, I drop a pill and run until the next stage.
- How important is equipment at such distances?
- It is important to find your type of equipment. I overheat very quickly, so I always run in light clothes. And now I have been chosen as the Hoka brand ambassador. They have very comfortable shoes. She is soft, and on desert races most of the competitors run in these shoes. They have a large area of support, very good support, this softens the blows on rocky sections of the course. Everything I take to the desert is from Hoka. I weigh things up to a gram on a scale so that they havewas the minimum weight.
Another interesting point - the selection of socks. In the desert, everyone ran in five-finger, but I bought several pairs, and they turned out to be uncomfortable. Therefore, I liked the simple wool socks the most. Oddly enough, but in the heat it was what you need. All turned to doctors for help against corns. And they just washed my eyes from the sand.
In general, you need to choose your shoes very carefully. I take sneakers one and a half to two sizes larger, because my legs swell in the heat. I have several pairs of Hokas for all occasions. Recently I ran a marathon in Yalta. It is asphalt, but mountainous, so I took marathons. I choose training for the city.
Photo: Olga Maykopova
- How Is your family your hobby?
- The family is very happy. In retirement, I found my calling, because I am a mobile person. At 35, I learned to ski. We went to the mountains with our little daughter. My son and husband are not at risk in this regard ( smiles ).
- Where to find motivation?
- Everyone comes up with something of their own : some want to lose weight, thin ones want to strengthen. For me, motivation is travel. I would never have seen these small towns if I hadn't started running. I do not like to win, I am even embarrassed when I overtake someone, especially if I know these people. I just run because it's interesting. I also like talking to people. For example, I talk to teenage smokers in the park. They often ask me why I run, what kind of sneakers I have. I tell them everything, I say, but let's calculate how much you will save per month if you do not smoke. And people think. It is very pleasant that many people write on social networks that I motivate them. This is one of those reasons that make you run.