Monthly Archives: December 2011

End of year round-up

Overall it hasn’t been a disaster but around February/March time, it didn’t look good!

January saw Janathon and over 120 running miles. And a bit of damage to my foot that I simply ran through before having a poor February trying to work out why it felt broken and a rubbish March with no running miles while I rested to try and repair it. Cycling took on a bigger role as the months went by, though, so overall fitness remained reasonable.

April saw a week off and the opportunity to see someone about the foot. A temporary shoe insert helped recovery and this, combined with a week of cycling everywhere, saw monthly mileage go beyond 300 for combined activities…suddenly my 2011 mile challenge looked beatable, instead of growing ever larger as a weekly target in front of me.

May saw a return to normality with cycles to work increasing along with running confidence. A fresh pair of shoes (Adidas…never thought I’d wear a pair of these for running!) brought all sorts of advances in running. Never have a pair of feet been so revitalised as by a simple, well advised purchase.

June saw Juneathon. Two races, several million cycles to work (or so it felt in the rain and wind) and 699 overall miles, including my targetted 50 running miles as a return to normal.

July saw my first ever 5k race (on July 1st, so not entirely rested after the cycling and last day of June run) as well as a recovery into normal cycling and enjoying the summer. And it all went downhill from there, really! Mileage decreased but joy increased as both running and cycling became less something I “must” do and became things that I simply had fun doing again. As far as the weather went, it being a cooler than normal summer suited me fine. And so things progressed through August.

September saw me bemoaning the imminent loss of my hilly country lane for repeat sessions, and through the autumn (while the temperatures returned to April levels) I continued to hunt for enjoyable runs around Rye. Still haven’t found any, but alternative hilly routes at least exist to keep fitness levels up.

November was a dull month of repetition; December has ended at a whimper. Lows have been a cold knocking me back as I tried to rest to lose it before my trip to Paris; highs definitely the run through Paris to the Arc de Triomphe. The last week has seen a couple of short jogs and a few short cycles. Nothing to excite in any way but to simply get out and maintain activity through a Christmas of decoration and floor laying.

And so to Janathon 2012 and some 2012 goals.

Injury free is the main aim. I’ll try to run through Janathon and Juneathon this year. A target of 3 decent runs per week surrounded by single mile outings should see mileage sensible at around 75 total, I think. A cycle each weekend will keep me honest, too, I hope. Nothing epic but something to make the legs remember they’re for more than plodding is the plan.

Instead of a total mileage challenge (2011 saw the 2011 mile challenge beaten with a comfortable margin, even if the figures don’t look epic-I didn’t count many cycle rides after October, so totals dropped as the challenge end came into view), I’m going for a quality challenge this year. Several goals make it up.

General exercise (either weights, press-ups and sit-ups etc, use of the rowing machine) made a resurgence towards then end of this year and I feel better for it. To this end, I’m targetting 150 runs (over 1 mile to allow some slacking with the Jan and June runs all counting, but to be realistic and allow rest after a few planned races as well as a couple of down weeks with colds and the like). 100 “general exercise” sessions, be they weights or combinations of press-ups, rows, sit-ups, chin-ups or whatever co-ordinated into a 20 minute or more pulse raising activity. 50 cycles of 5 miles or more (to exclude commutes to the station and back unless they include a detour, even if it is on the BMX, but to allow two cycles from a commute to work – 16 miles each way counts! Also to exclude simple outings to buy a paper unless a detour is included in the route). That should give me about 60 days off through the year which will be increased with a few multi-task days reducing the burden.

The plan is a stronger, fitter man with some time to enjoy working in the garden but also the ability to take on a challenge or two without wilting at the prospect. Races will be an opportunity to see how well I’ve done as a rounded “athlete” rather than to destroy myself in the pursuit of pb’s.

Happy new year.

And let Janathon commence.

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A Paris 8 mile outing

Just after my last outing on the 10th December I got a cold. Not a bad one, but I decided I’d treat it differently for a change, so I rested. This was also a chance to revitalise my enthusiasm and prevent winter blues getting a grip on my runs and making them chores rather than fun outings, so the opportunity was grasped.

A nice upshot was the opportunity to do some useful catching up type things to get ahead before my 3 day trip to Paris to celebrate Jogblog‘s birthday. Which, despite meaning to run after work on Monday (took my kit…decided not to wear it in hammering rain with a cold lingering in my chest with a few days away looming), was to be my return to form.

The first two days went well; the third demanded getting up earlier than liked to head out for a jog, shower and pack before checking out before 11.30. But I’d been looking forward to it for ages, so there was never a question of not heading out. The alarm was set.

I had been getting lost on every trip around the capital, so I needed a simple route. But one which took me to the Arc De Triomphe, being desperate to head towards it up the Champs Elysees. So I set out from base, simply ran directly down to the Seine, turned right and ran to the Louvre before heading straight towards the Arc in the distance.

Setting out I didn’t know how far it would be. I hoped around 6 miles. I fancied going to the Bastille before heading up but feared the length of the loop (most of my runs have been between 4 and 6 miles recently), so settled for a direct plod. And thank God I did.

I wished for a camera as I looked through the Place de la Concorde; the sun was coming up on the Arc at the end of the road and, despite not being poetic or soft for images in the slightest, the sight of the top half being bathed in soft, orange light while the lower legs went dark before disappearing into the traffic in the foreground, was something I’d love to be able to have captured on celluloid (or the digital equivalent!). But I hate carrying things on runs except water, so was camera-less.

But the image stole me towards the monument. 2 miles from the hotel meant however far the end was made the run distance. I guessed just over 3 miles total.

But the problem with big monuments is how deceiving they are. I was flippin’ miles away! Passing the big wheel at the end of the Champs Elysees I felt a bit dizzy (too much beer, not enough sleep, far too little water. Very foolish, but at least I kept the pace slow!), but heading for the end of the road my spirits lifted. I saw a few runners, none were friendly in the slightest (no acknowledgement at all from any jogger on the entire run…Paris makes London seem friendly). The end was entirely populated with Japanese tourists. My bigger worry was that it was 4.25 miles to where I stood and I hoped I had the energy to get back. It took ages with all the road crossings and I didn’t have time to faff about if I was to get out of the hotel on time.

Thankfully all went better on the return leg. My recent faster running must have been good for allowing me to plod steadily for a longer distance, for I didn’t flag until near the hotel when the search for a shop for water made me slow considerably as my mind wandered.

A little over an hour. Some memories that will last for ages and steel me through the harder runs when I wonder why I do it.

Why do I?

Well on the basis of this outing, I think I appreaciated the city more in an hour than in the previous 2 days of tube journeys, river boat cruises and walking. To link all the areas together that had been visited over the stay makes me wonder if I’ll plan a run into the first hour of the next holiday to allow a basis for getting around wherever I end up.

Absolutely the best run of 2011.

56.89 miles too far.

Obey the Yelling

I missed my run on Thursday owing to a wind that made walking a challenge and rain that covered my glasses between the site office and the toilet door, let alone over the course of a 4 mile outing.

Friday was plan “b” but the need to do a day at work in a reduced time to allow minutes enough to get home and changed for what turned out to be an absolutely tragic christmas works outing left too few seconds to pop out for a plod. So I’m a few miles down for the week. As well as hungrier than usual (Christmas catering leaving you starving? Quite a feat. Came home early [back shortly after 11pm] and had a few calories as well as extra breakfast but still catching up. Rub. Bish. At least it steals my resolve to never attend another works outing at this time of year [I’ve avoided them successfully since 1995; why I crumbled and attended this one is anybody’s guess. It won’t be repeated]).

And a heavy frost this morning made heading out of the door for a jog a thing to be avoided, I felt, so I did.

But after shopping and decorating, 5pm  meant time to get into mix and match running kit for an outing and Mr. Yelling and Audiofuel were to provide inspiration to keep me honest.

Mix and match running kit has reached new levels at this time of year. I wore Adidas trainers, Reebok socks, Puma tights, Adidas shorts (no budgie smuggling here), Nike top and a fleece outer layer by Everlast (£5 bargain and a perfect fit for the flippin’ cold evening outings). With Sony headphones completing the Cliff Richard look. In short, it’s a good job it was dark. Brand loyalty is completely missing; pretty it isn’t. Ah, well.

The intervals went ok. Not much better, I feel, but fine. A lot of looseness in my chest and a running nose didn’t help but ultimately, I’m getting progressively less fit. All the second series of intervals were slower than the first and also slower than the last time out. The only glowing light was the first 180 set being 3 minutes long and covering a smidgin over half a mile. Smidgin…never written that before. Nice. 1 smidging = a portion of a non-specific fraction. A tiny bit. Probably, in this case, about 3 steps. But when clutching at straws for positives from a run, anything is good! Unfortunately the second 180 set saw my paces shorten to result in 12 seconds per mile less performance; I kept to the pace count, merely travelled fewer metres. Bah. The oddest thing, I reflected having done it, though, was that I fell right into the brainwashed trap of a “Yelling disciple”. I caught myself after having shaken my arms out because the sage of motivation told me to. Good grief! It’s one thing trying to “run tall” as a 5 foot 6 and a quarter jogger…quite another doing something I’ve never ever done or felt the need to do before, simply because I’m told to!! Well done, Sean, well done Martin. Got me hook, line and sinker.

I wonder how slow I’ll be by the end of the winter? Time and runs will tell, I guess.

Tuesday’s run, by the way, was an outing to Rye hill to run up to the Top of the Hill pub and back down twice. The first up took 3 minutes dead (from tactile paving to car-park footpath join); the first down 2.58; the second up 2.57, so clearly I didn’t put lung burning effort into the first 0.37 mile interval and must try harder. Maybe next week I will. Or maybe not…

So onwards towards the shortest day we travel. An on towards Janathon we hurtle. Not sure on goals yet, but I’m thinking of something like an attempt to execute 300 “units” of exercise next year. I’ve got to bottom out what a unit will be yet if I am to go for it. (An outing? So if I cycle to work, since the effort is 16 miles each way seperated by 10 hours, it’ll count as two units? Or a day, so I’ll never get the house decorated or the garden done? I’m feeling the outings. But to a point…a cycle to somewhere local with a gap and a return would be one unit…similarly a cycle to the seaside broken to the return by only an ice cream would be similarly single in count. Maybe.) Janathon will count towards this.

33.75 miles too far, but at least my floor is ordered and decoration of the dining room continues moving forward.

Two for one

Blogs, that is. Not runs. Oh, no. Not until January at least.

Friday was a cold evening by the time I finished work and headed out for my promised run. I wasn’t at all sure if I’d enjoy it or if I’d warm up (2 degrees on the car thermometer as I drove home…probably around 4 or 5 actual celcius) but as it turned out, I did both.

The nasty location for running that is Rye (how would anyone find motivation to train for a marathon there? Or even a half, allowing for a long weekend run? Beats me.) saw me heading from site for a loop of the main road before running up to the “Top of the Hill” pub and back, maintaining a resaonable pace and breathing rate as I did so. The hill was slower, but my steps were shorter to keep the tempo up without blowing my lungs right out. As a warming outing, it wasn’t bad.

Today went all sorts of bad as I woke up waaaay later than I like, robbing me of dicking around time throughout the day. Somehow, however, I managed to notice as the clock hurtled past 11 and got out running somewhere near 11.45, a planned 6 miles looking promising.

Having seen on facebook that Mark (bloke I grew up near, only been running a couple of years, looking like a superstar at the rate of improvement he’s achieving, certain to wipe the floor with me at all the races we coincide to enter next year) had put in a 1.44 half marathon before I’d finished breakfast, I had all the inspiration I needed to head out. And my favourite route around Gill lane was beckoning for a happy loop. And my tempo runs through the week meant I could keep the pace comfortable without feeling my training was going awry.

So off I headed, at a nicely steady pace for a mile towards and into the countryside. Breathing steadily, I sped up a little for the second mile, realised I was now a third of the way through my run, so pushed a little bit up the hill that is Gill Lane before relaxing but keeping the tempo up as I ran down the other side.

A relaxing recovery mile saw me realise the house that’s been under a pile of scaffolding for what seems like forever (actually since early spring) has been externally finished, with a magnificent Redland Rosemary tiled roof to finish it perfectly, before I rounded the corner and upped the pace for a push towards home at what felt like a fair lick.

It wasn’t that fast (the majority of the last mile is a slight upward slope), but was good for the effort and rounded out a thoroughly inspiring and happy outing. Favourite route, not too cold, nicest distance, no dramas.

If only the rest of my runs could be so pleasureable!

23.47 miles too far.

Missing the blogs

My running miles haven’t stopped recently; my ability to cram enough activity into each 24 hour period and include time for a blog, however, has.

My running has been going pretty well, though. Since my last update, three runs around Rye have been undertaken and one in Ashford. None have been long but all have produced something decent in the outing. The first Rye outing was a loop of all the flat loopy bits; reasonable pace, reasonably easy, reasonably fun. A heckle by two girls at the bus stop was unnecessary but generally, all went well. This was my first outing of the current season in my tights…and maybe that added to the heckling delight.

Outing two was Rye for an interval sprint; cut short by time and a pair of sore shins. Right where my fracture was on the right leg. Not badly sore (on the scale of injury I use!) but enough to encourage caution.

The Ashford jog was intended to be a 6 mile outing but I got involved in my dining room repairs a bit deeper than I thought and, again, time was pushed so despite going out thinking I’d do the 6, I messed up the route by thinking about the house instead of the run and, a few wrong turns later I didn’t have the heart to turn away from home for a poxy loop, so sprinted home at just over 4 miles. But the pace was perky and effortless, the sprint was good, the legs showed signs of spring and health and all felt right.

Then I ran out of energy to do my weights on Sunday, so decided to do them on Monday…which put the run off to Tuesday, meaning I got blown backwards as well as drowned in the rain, also meaning I was meant to run tonight but having been soaked at work for 3 hours until I could get changed and it raining all evening, I’ve slacked off.

The Tuesday run was going to be intervals at target 10k pace. A plan of half mile warm-up then a mile at pace, a slow mile, then another at pace until 6 were done including a half mile cool-down, was mainly scuppered by the weather. A gale was truly in effect, so despite the first 1.5 miles going to plan, I had neither energy nor strength to keep a steady pace with the wind pummelling me. The added frustration of the rain increasing to such a degree that the Garmin went all trippy until I locked the bezel (my major gripe of the touch-sensitive design), making re-setting the interval targets impossible, just rounded things off. The mile at 6.27 average was the end of me and I cruised the rest of the run…I’ll try the effort again when feeling a bit more motivated.

Things are good, though. Janathon must be considered soon, as well as present buying and preparation for a trip to France. And buying the floor and laying it before too long. And finishing the dining room. And getting rid of the pub carpet in the bedroom.

Hey, ho.

12.89 miles too far.