Monthly Archives: September 2009

Back to normal

After setting some rules yesterday – and rules that will be kept (thanks for all the comments – very amusing. Hopefully something of the list will be used, at least as a guide. Not sure i’ll win on all fronts, though. Maybe if JB continues to talk to me, i’ll consider it a victory of sorts!), today was a return to work and a planned 5 miler afterwards.

After the weekend, my lower legs feel quite tired, so i’m looking forward to a reduction in effort over the next week and a half, but today was especially bad for some reason which almost made the meeting I got dragged into late on in the afternoon a blessing if it went on for some time and I could justifiably sack off the run. Only it didn’t. It went on a bit late, but I decided i’d get changed and run until 6 o’clock or thereabouts.

So I left site, ran the usual first 1.5 miles, took a new loop out towards The Cock, ran along the top road , turned for home, turned back toward The Cock to add another half mile loop, then headed for site the direct way. Considering it was a mixture of loops I hadn’t done before, on legs that felt tired and sore initially, then sore and achy, it went well. 4.3 miles, back at 1 minute to 6.

Now both ankles feel knackered as well as my legs, but it’s ok I think. I wore my New Balance race trainers from here to see if I think they’re the ones to race in, and yes they seem to be. The pace was reasonably good despite the hurting and protective style I adopted, the shoes feel great, so i’ll give them a pop. They felt good for the Stelling Minnis 10k, so why not? One pair of my Asics Gel Cumulus 10’s I got just before Christmas are now almost completely shot, the “fresh” pair I was saving for races are similarly on their way out after being used for long runs to give the other pair a rest, so I think they’re the best bet before I buy a new couple of pairs to run in (and out, i’m sure) for London next year.

So, a fair run. A girlfriend who talks to me and might run RPH if she’s in the right mood on the day (getting up after a day at college is the stumbling block. The excitement of a good race followed by a justified pizza with Hauling My Carcass and Eatingtrees might help, instead of an unjustified one. We’ll see) is nice. Sore legs but a chance for them to recover is good. My desire for sleep is bad, but about to win.


An odd post. Not of the usual variety at all. But I have a situation that needs addressing and the posting of rules means they can be checked against to see how things are being adhered to. Also checked to see how they need altering to improve things.

My current girlfriend (she may be well known to some of you – she can be found here) is slacking. No two ways about it. No arguing. No room for debate.

Everything came to a head this morning as she was excusing herself from the Royal Parks Half due to lack of training. But i’m not having it. I countered that she can run/walk the race and still finish what may well be her only race this year, having slacked out of the other one she entered in March. Then she complained that I don’t fancy her any more because she’s fat.

That’s not why I don’t fancy her at all.

But arguing that she doesn’t eat too much and doesn’t do too little also stretches the truth, as anyone who looks at her updates on Facebook will testify. Between FB, Twitter and occasional bit of work, there’s simply no time for her to exercise. Not walking to work doesn’t help, but I reckon she’s not doing 3500 calories a week of “non-exercise” (walks to the train, then to work plus the occasional lunchtime walk plus everyday lunchtime gym sessions) that she used to do without thinking while at work and that, I fear is the problem.

So i’ve made a multi-point action plan to make her super again. If she gets into London, I think she’ll need it. So:

  • September/Octoberthon is the name
  • She’ll blog everyday she doesn’t keep to the plan, by means of confession, as well as blogging runs as usual
  • She’ll run every other day. 3 miles minimum. 0.5 miles more if she does a photo run/walk thing
  • At least 0.5 hours rowing machine every day. Can be two 15 minute splits. Or 3×10 minutes on a harder setting.
  • Maximum 2 days per week alcohol consumption. Including pre-arranged outings, date nights and special occasions. Beer o’clock can’t be declared until 5.30 earliest. Drinking after midnight counts as the second day’s consumption for the week.
  • While i’m about it, only mixed cutlery to be used (ie one stripey utensil, one bamboo style).
  • Oh, if i’m committing suicide, only squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom of the tube, not the top/middle so I have to sort it out every time I use it.
  • And no unplugging the kettle. It’s a heart and mind workout – a whole new JB will emerge, blinking into the winter.

I think that’s it. I’ll reserve the right to a) be single when she reads this and dumps me, and b) change the rules on a future blog if things need altering.

Also, I need a vote – if anyone reads this, would they consider it bad form for her to do the Royal Parks Half as a run/walk thing while taking photos to catalogue the race as she goes, thus ensuring she’ll finish by staying fresh? She doesn’t think she can straight run it, but also feels it’d be insulting to other runners to do the run/photo thing – I feel it’d be cool and a good way to pass the miles – no-one offends me when they beat me running ahead, stopping to fill a charity bucket etc, then runs past again so why would someone at a slower pace mind her stopping to take pictures then go ahead again? Let me or her know if you think it’d be wrong.

Right, i’m away – i’ve a scoreboard to write up, some grovelling to do and a pizza to make.

Target set

This morning, despite loads of things on my mind, I sprung out of bed earlier than is sensible for a Saturday with the view that 12 miles weren’t going to run themselves and people were coming to view the house at 11.30. I didn’t think a sweaty short distance runner would be very pleasant thing to be escorted by, for some reason.

So I ate a hearty breakfast, put the washing out, tidied up, disturbed Cathy from a dream in order to offer her tea (“No. I just want to get back to my dream. Why aren’t you running. Go away” I think she wanted some peace!), checked my route and set off.

Just before the half marathon start time, so I guess it’s as good as practice gets. I started by concentrating on keeping my pace slow since both knees are sore for some strange reason and I didn’t want to flare anything up and that’s pretty much how the run continued, really. It was cold for the first two miles – goosebumps and everything, but by mile 5, things were as hot as usual and bouncing glasses, sweaty eyebrows and the rest started annoying me just like they have all summer.

Good job i’m getting my hair shaved off before the race – that should make a bit of difference.

Sorry, did I say getting my hair shaved off? That should say shame i’m not cutting my hair before the race since I don’t want to be single and Cathy likes it long, even if it does make me slower and as hot as hell as soon as I exercise. Still, guess it’ll mean I can keep the heating turned off for a couple of months yet!

Still, as the miles ticked on, everything started to stiffen up, I started changing my running style to accomodate this, sped up to ease the pins at around the 7 mile stage, got stopped at two junctions to make imaginary water stops in the race and rolled home with little drama for an average pace of 8.03.

So, the race plan is to do a slowish first mile, then settle into 7.35 miles as the route clears and see how things feel. This should allow me to assess things at 7 miles and up the pace as I re-enter the park if I feel fresh enough to drop 10 seconds a mile and finish just under 1hour 40 minutes. That allows for a bit of extra mileage (I did just over a tenth more on the Garmin at Reading) but also allows for having a bad day, dropping the idea of a sub 1.40 time and allowing me to enjoy the race without having all sorts of problems. Much as I fancy going at a pace I know I can handle, my training times have indicated a sub 1.40 is possible, so i’ll attempt it.

Next week will be a normal start,  cycle to work 3 days then an 8 miler at the weekend (I seem to be a bit early with my 12 mile run – the beauty of not having a fixed training schedule – hope I don’t regret it) then a taper during race week to include two short runs and only one cycle to work on the Thursday.

If that doesn’t leave me fresh, I don’t know what will.

Just about fresh enough to get a cold and balls things up some other way, I suppose!

Post Equinoctial Warmth

Awaking this morning to a warm house, I wondered if the heating had come on. But no, it was just very mild. To the level of the car heater saying 17 degrees on the way to work. It might not have been a true 17 degrees, but when the reading is so high it makes the minus 9 it was reading in the winter seem a long way away. Erm, yes…about 3 months if we’re unlucky. Backs up something I was reading that despite the daytime temperatures being consistently low this summer, we can expect all sorts of global warming excitement with the year end average temperatures since the night time readings have consistently been higher than ever.

Shame that hasn’t helped my motorbike mileage much.

Still, the day continuing warm was good for morale and I set off for a sprightly 3 miles with the thought that it was pleasantly mild. Then started sweating like an ox. All around the run, it was increasing with every pace and I couldn’t believe it was possible to get that wet in 23 minutes, but there you go.

A nice run, a cycle planned tomorrow as the commute, then 12 miles on Saturday which i’m not looking forward to. Still, it must be done and i’m nearly there, so do it I shall.

Fresh. Like.

Yesterday was a day spent mostly driving 367 miles home on motorways to avoid the caravans on the A303, despite missing Stonehenge and a field full of pigs, so today I didn’t expect much, to be honest.

Following the 11 miles on Thursday and 9 hours driving on Friday, Saturday was a most excellent day of walking around Cornwall (piccies all over Facebook), which strangely gave me a very sore pair of calves today. A combination of walking boots (the best in the world. Soooooo comfy and grippy, rock playing was a joy) and my once again massively bowed legs, I guess. My legs bow and straighten as they get used differently. They have since I was about 14 or so – if I think about using them properly, my hips hurt for a bit but the knees seem to straighten. Run loads, lark about and cycle a lot and they bow. Looking at the pics of my tight-ish jeans and the legs therein and boy are they bad at the moment.

Ah, well, i’m enjoying things.

But my tight calves (not stretching in the car yesterday?) were a small worry before the run.

Not during it, though. As soon as I started, they gave no hint of pain or tightness at all. Not a drop during 5 miles up and down (well, down then up, then up more, then down a load then back up, to be more accurate).

Simply splendid.

Shame I got back to work, changed in a rush to go shopping and packed my things for tomorrow and forgot my site boots so will have to go to site to collect them before my course, thus ruining plans of a lie in.

Bugger. I’ll be off to bed, then.

7 more runs planned before the half and i’m quite enjoying things. Very odd.

A blog. I’ll call him Andrew.

And so the holiday that has grumbled on through constant 20 plus mile per hour winds and too much occasional rain for my and my underused motorcycle’s tastes has nearly exhausted itself.

Which was much the same as me when, after another little loop to increase my mileage to the planned 11 before heading up the hill and home, I bumped into my amazing girlfriend on her way to a business lunch with the local business elite (networking, apparently. That seems to me to equal spring rolls, bhajis, sandwiches and all else to make me jealous) whereupon I stopped and said hello befiore realising I wasn’t sure I could get started again.

The first 4 miles were surprisingly easy considering i’d slacked off yesterday’s run because of impending weekends away and sore knees, the hilly bit of the run went as most hilly sections do (but hilly is an overstatement – the road rolls a bit but the total climbs probably amount to about 4 inches, so please take my whining with a pinch of the necessary) and tired me out enough to reach for a jelly baby (always yellow. How many yellow ones in a pack? Far too many.) before the busy road past the Hawkenbury pub. Which, as usual, caused me to stop 3 times for lorries in opposing directions and messed up my rhythm completely.

But I shouldn’t moan, I guess. One of the re-starts made me perk up and realise what’s going wrong on the longer runs. As I get more tired, i’ve noted my form dips and I start to get out of symmetry, roll my shoulders as well as lengthening my pace and falling onto my heels more. I use the heels style deliberately sometimes to force a change in style to allow leg recovery, but hadn’t noted the other traits until today. And addressing them made the next couple of miles seem much easier. Whether through ease of running or through concentrating on something else, I don’t know, but it’s surely something to monitor in the future.

Still didn’t make it any easier to turn from home and do an extra 2 mile loop, though, just as I was feeling well worn out. My knees seemed to bear the brunt of the extra effort required and for the first time since the Hastings half 18 months ago, my knees feel as though they’ve been through a lot. They survived marathon training relatively unscathed so i’m not really worried about things, but it’s something to make sure is fixed before my next outing.

Which should be a shorty over the weekend, but being away and that may turn into Monday after work as I settle into some sort of routine before the 11th. Assuming the house doesn’t sell (having no holiday left to house hunt if things get serious, training time is the next obvious slot to nibble into!), things look promising for the race itself – enjoyment is the re-affirmed goal. With a time to be proud of hopefully being a bonus if things go well. I’ve prepared the energy bars, baked mince pies and everything this week – some good had better come out of them!

And so, to Cornwall! Well, after i’ve visited the pub in a couple of minutes, of course.

The Monday slow

A List.

  • I’m off work, so it’s raining. Naturally. I wonder if Noah was me in a previous life and the flood happily coincided with an extended few days off he took?
  • A succession of strangers keeps coming through my door measuring things, asking questions and demanding money. I wonder if i’ll get any viewers on the house once the marketing is sorted?
  • I went shopping yesterday and bought some new underwear.
  • I won’t be going out on the bike all the while it’s lashing it down.
  • Yesterday evening was a 5 mile run at easy pace. I kept talking to myself (out loud) to make sure my pace didn’t rise too high. What a strange little man I must seem to any passers by. Thankfully there were only two horse riders and I shut up before they heard me. I think.
  • Today, i’d like to do my three miles so I can do my 11 before I go to Cornwall. If not, i’ll be running in the extreme South West of the country. I’ll see how things go.

The (almost) forgotten blog

Please forgive me for I have erred. Or something. Yep, another Sunday blog for a Saturday run.

Best intentions yesterday didn’t get me out of the door in the earlyish morning as planned and a frustrated search for shorts blew my mood for a run right out of the water. So I put things off until the mid afternoon, which wasn’t the best idea. Not least for the result of nearly forgetting to blog it.

I felt a bit odd all day – constantly wanting to drink but not being in the least dehydrated; I just felt a touch drained. And think half the reason for putting the run off was the planned race pace 15k. I detest the race pace long runs – none of the intensity or atmosphere of a race but the training need to up the game to race speed. And the fear of failure to dent the confidence should things go tits up. Still, a spell on the motorbike cleared my head and at about 3.15 I set off for 9 odd miles of 7.35 pace running.

Oh, and I planned it on my least favourite road – a combination of undulating, busy and boring.

A run to dread and forget, then.

Well not quite. I didn’t have a plan beyond the basic pace, which on this route isn’t easy to maintain – if I slow on the up slopes to preserve energy, the pace on the flat and downs is  forced and not conducive to longer distances. But if I keep the pace up on the ups, the ensuing flat feels overly tiring and I risk slowing on the premise that i’m about to blow up. Guess that’s the effect of running near peak pace and what the training is designed to ease out.

Doesn’t make things any easier, though. Especially when I start off beating my Garmin, then decide to change plan partly through boredom, partly tiredness, partly through the desire for a change.

The first 5 miles went 7.20, 7.29, 7.32, 7.31, 7.31. Nice and steady. Then I stopped, creating a 9.01. Just fancied admiring the view amongst other things. The running pace remained at 7.35, just pacing myself against the virtual partner, but the next mile at 7.43 was affected by jelly babies, drink and cars, then another stop equalled an 8.30 mile before the final roll home. An overall average at 7.51 was surprising. I suppose it might be similar to fartlek runs averaging surprisingly high overall pace (not that I do them or like the name but there you go!), but with proper stops, not just reduced pace, I thought it’d be slower. Certainly felt like I was stationary for longer overall than I was. And felt quite interesting to push the limbs straight back to race pace after a stop. The babies weren’t the only jelly on the run after all.

The oddest part of the run is that it felt good. The combination of long first stint then a series of sprints to aimed for locations (the first was a random spot selected on the spur of the moment) made up on the fly seems to have turned a dreaded run into a bit of fun.

Not at all what I should have done in preparation, i’m sure, but I feel comfortable that I can keep 7.35’s up for the race, it being flat and all, but that won’t quite achieve my target time, so i’m now to decide what to go for on race day. There are still a few weeks to go, i’ll be adjusting things for temperature and how I feel on the day, i’m sure, as well as hoping I feel good and not odd like yesterday. But where any extra pace along with greater distance will come from, I don’t know. Maybe i’ll be sensible and just accept it’ll be another year before I crack the 1hr 40’s.

Who knows.


After a day spent driving around West London yesterday it was nice to get back to normal today.

The first time I got out of the car yesterday was after lunch in order to get into the driving seat to do my driving assessment and sure enough, both legs felt waaaay tight, so last night was a stretchy affair and today all the stairs were taken with a mind to easing out any residual tightness in my calves.

And the combination of rest and stretch must have done something since I was keen and eager (and all other words and phrases I can use inappropriately when I fancy) to get going.

And get going I did.

Not looking at the Garmin for the first half mile, I switched it to the virtual partner screen to see how thing had progressed. And I was surprised to find it playing up again. After ages of behaving itself. It was indicating that, despite me being out of breath (I felt like going for it a bit), I was bang on 7.55 pace. Which was surely wrong, but by how much I didn’t know. I’d cleared the patch where the reading always goes squiffy so left things as they were and kept my breathing constant to see how the pace looked, albeit with a view to ignoring the pace at the end and looking at the overall time.

At which point the time against target came down, things became constant and I realised it probably got lost somewhere and the map would be hilarious.

But on the return leg, as I went into the footpath bit, apparently I went slow again. The virtual partner started gaining time on me and I couldn’t shake him off. Despite doing a sample sprint to throw him. Until I hit the road again and gained 15 seconds in 200 yards.

There’s something odd in the satellites around Loose, for sure. I’d hate to try and rely on a sat-nav around there – it’d be knackered!

Still, I knew the time would be reliable and it was this which pleased me. Very quick for a Wednesday with hills.

And now, as i’ve got the data onto the computer, can I laugh. Garmin’s software has 3.07 miles with the start and finish about 0.25 miles away from each other. Apparently, I ran from the field next to site, over two fences and a tree then across the MUGA on the school grounds before joining my actual route two corners from where I started. The rest of the route is bang on my actual route. Sporttracks, on the other hand, has the same bastardised route but maps it at 3.16 miles. All my “genuine” traces of the same route put it between 3.06 and 3.03 miles, depending on how far around the car park I leave it until switching the watch.

Very odd. Still, the time was good, right on target for a mid-week push of a run, so hopefully i’ll be able to enjoy a good fast 15k “race” at the weekend in preparation for Royal Parks. This time trial will tell me what actual time i’m to set the virtual partner for in London before hoping the little fucker will give me a reliable output! I’m hopeful of reasonable things, if not quite as fast as i’d like, but we’ll see. There’s still a few weeks training to go.

Nice to feel good about a run, though.

Monday and hot

In the strange way my mind plays rotten tricks on me, i’ve been busily avoiding thoughts of tonight’s run simply because again the distance has been upped. Only another half a mile, but somehow 5 seems a daunting prospect after work. Which is completely at odds with the winter training which saw 3 midweek runs, going as far as 8 miles at the peak (which didn’t last until injury set in) and serves to reinforce the power the brain has over the body.

Still, a busy afternoon preparing for a day off site tomorrow (learning how to drive again. After 2 years the company have decided I need extra tuition due to the insurance rating of the car. Might need extra sense to remember to slow for speed cameras if I was caught on the A13 as I fear the other week, but generally I thought things were ok. How wrong I am. And how cruel to know the company takes two weeks to pass on speeding tickets after the authorities have their two, so i’ll be kept in suspense about 80 in a 50 limit for 4 weeks total until I can relax about the crime or know i’m doomed to off the scale bike insurance. If the Dartford crossing and Blackwall tunnel hadn’t both been shut at 4.30 in the morning, I wouldn’t have been a) on the road or b) doing those speeds anyway. Curses.) kept my mind occupied well enough to cause surprise to my legs at 5.15 as I set off (Incidentally, how long was that bracketed passage? Almost forgot about it myself. Must stop bracketting and develope new techniques for asides) (One day). And what a hot set-off it was. Keeping to the shady bits, I was aware it’ll not be long before it’s dark and cold, which seems a shame but that’s the turning of the seasons. And it serves to remind that up until 2 years ago, I used to stop running for 6 weeks or more in the summer, waiting for cooler weather to return.

Still, after a steady first mile, the uphill section went pretty well considering it was into wind, I did some full road width meandering in the final 2.5 miles to make as much distance as I could to stretch a 4.8 mile route into a 5 miler, seeing as I didn’t fancy tacking an extra loop on to take things over distance and I returned with 4.98 on the Garmin. Just 34 yards short, then. That’ll do.

But with sore legs that are now to be confined to the car for a day. That’ll make for an interesting recovery plan tomorrow. Is stretching the calf while depressing the accelerator an approved driving technique? I’ll see how tolerant the assessor is if nothing else, I guess.

Oh, and yes, my soreness has subsided. I wonder if the tackle has superquick healing properties like the tongue. Or if it just makes injury feel worse than it is to protect against long term damage? Hopefully i’ll never have to find out.