Category Archives: 2011 mile challenge

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.

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.

With a flourish?

Despite the miles seemingly going into reverse and my 2011 mile challenge slowing to a crawl (partly owing to my slackness at failing to take the Garmin everywhere with me), I’ve finally done it!

Intending to go out over the weekend, I would have achieved the goal earlier but a couple of distractions stood in the way of me and the trainers (or the pedals, come to that), and following hot on the heels of a decent hill repeat session on Wednesday last week (things have been so busy, even the blog has taken a back seat), another fast run has seen me over the line at last.

Wednesday’s run was a bit of a bitsa. I got as far as the railway crossing only for it to be down, so I got frustrated and instead of looping around the local estate (local to Rye, that is), I simply turned for home and ran back up the hill toward site. But instead of stopping when I got there, I started some hill repeats. A 1.25 mile warm-up seemed to do the trick initially; instead of doing my pyramid session, I headed for the bottom of the hill and turned back up at the 50m mark from before to create a 200m uphill sprint without the slightly flatter first bit. And as far as blowing my lungs out, 4 repeats of this with an extra loop of the site (now the road is open for residents instead of being a dead-end), it seemed to do the trick.

But by the weekend I was hankering for a run, feeling strong and healthy. But it wasn’t to be.

So I promised myself a 6 miler this evening and stuck to my plans.

Again, Rye proved to be uninspiring but workmanlike. I avoided the hill up towards Playden, instead running toward Winchelsea until the lights ran out. Then I went another quarter of a mile in the dark, just to see how dark it was. Very was the answer. When the cars aren’t passing, the white line is so obliterated it’s a case of stumbling on (I hadn’t planned the route, so didn’t take my head torch) until another car comes along. Which is usually on high beam, just to blind you and make the dark afterwards seem so much blacker.

But it made a change. And Rye needs a change. So when I headed back and then out around to the Brookland road, I simply did more of the same. Ran unitl I ran out of streetlights, plodded on a few steps further and returned for home.

Oddities in my pace seem to be light-inspired. A fast downhill first mile (6.50) was followed by a slacker, flatter second (7.02), a flat, slack, into a slight breeze third (7.10), a “yippee, I’ve headed for home” inclusive of turnaround 4th (7.04), a flat, breeze, assisted 5th (6.55), rounded out by a heavily uphill 6th, headed for home and glad it was all over (6.52 pace, which amazes me considering the hill – not a slope, I was merely feeling frisky and fresh so I bounded up it).

And somewhere a quarter of a mile from home, at 7 minute mile pace up hill and feeling like I wanted dinner, I passed the 2011 mile banner with neither banner, fanfare nor knowledge that I had achieved my goal anywhere in my thoughts.

That came later.

The running’s feeling good. No injuries is ace. Not having a race target is nice, but I need to sign up to something soon to see me through the winter in a motivated style.

And I need a new challenge for next year. 2012 miles? Seems a slack, unoriginal ploy really. Despite this one only really having been swung by Juneathon and some crazy cycle commutes. Maybe an average mile challenge, to level the year out and keep me honest.

Or maybe more time decorating the house and making it more of a home, less a DIY project that needs finishing, not excuses why I haven’t…

0.25 miles too far…Yay!


The weekend was turning into a mass of wasted time with all opportunity for a run seemingly wasted, lost or frittered away so I gave up on the idea before it got me down and (having got so close to leaving the house twice I actually put the Garmin on) resigned myself to getting slow and fat.

Then I decided that if I couldn’t run, I’d use my time differently so got in a 30 mile cycling trip to the parents in Folkestone (it takes 25 minutes each way by car and 50 on the bike and I wanted about a 50 minute run, so time would be equal but recovery saved) and that, to be fair, was enough.

But today, having got a bit lazy with the cycling over the autumn (or a bit busy to cram in the hours to allow enough riding, if I’m fair), my legs felt pretty fatigued and lacking in spring. A day of catching up in the office didn’t help (barely did 6500 steps on the pedometer) restore things to normal before my run was due. And motivation was a bit lacking with the dull, damp day drawing all the life out of me later on.

But head out I did. As usual, the thought of the run was worse than the actual outing and by a mile in I was warm and happy, if plodding far slower than of late. Heavy legs and a dull mindset conspired to rob me of fizz and a plod was all I could muster.

The last half mile of the “out” leg ended uphill at the “Top of the Hill” pub which slowed me to a near crawl, I must admit – a far cry from striding up it confidently as I did last week. The plod back down resulted in the railway crossing being down again to inspire me to a quarter mile loop of the town instead of getting cold waiting for the barrier.

It was a workmanlike run but no worse for it. They can’t all be superb, after all.

And one by-product of the weekend is the fact that I now only have 8.2 miles left of my 2011 challenge.

I think I can manage that in 46 days…

Useful forgetfulness

I took everything to work for my run today with the exception of my Garmin. Bagged up my kit, put the timekeeping device on my bag…and I presume it rolled off in the morning gloom and I forgot about it until I was at work.

So plans for just over 4 miles to include the biggest hill out of Rye twice were scuppered (as Jogblog says – without a Garmin, the run doesn’t count) for a return home and a plan B that included intervals with Audiofuel up and down the bypass.

As much as the bypass fills me with dread, I haven’t yet got bored with it. Well illuminated, straight and flat it seems perfect for tempo training be it on bike or foot and with a myriad of options for turnaround points, distances can be well estimated for getting home on time.

Martin Yelling intervals were selected which at 43 minutes are a bit longer than a normal Wednesday run for me, but I’m feeling frisky at the moment so I wanted to go with what felt good.

Unfortunately after the first 170 bpm segment, the stuff coming from my lungs makes me wonder if I’m going to be on the receiving end of Cathy’s cold. Recovery was swift, though, and my overall pace through the intervals was pretty consistent from each set, so my pace was reasonably even (not shortened massively to allow the feet to keep the beat, despite the slowing I feared), so I’ll claim it a success.

The timing was good, too. Just by running Saturday it seems I missed yesterday’s rain and this evening was clear, bright, and still unseasonably warm. Very nice running conditions.

42 minutes 59 seconds of effort resulted in 6 miles dead; since I kept to the beat all the way through, I reckon that makes 6810 steps (an average 158bpm). On a repeatable route, I think that encourages a monthly repeat to gauge fitness deterioration as age increases and the winter lowers my fitness.

45.08 miles to go.

A run of two paces

I got a bit distressed over the weekend that I appear to have been wearing myself out with the running so successfully that it’s around two years since I’ve had a fully focused few months of exercise involving weights. I’m aware that my weight has dropped and that my arms resemble pipe cleaners but my strength hasn’t actually dropped much, I’ve simply lost muscle mass.

The distress was there, though, so I promised that a more rounded attitude to training is needed. And it started yesterday. Over the winter I have promised that I’ll run three times a week (whenever possible), cycle at least once and weight train (not massive weight, minimum reps bulk gaining weight stuff; more medium weight high reps to help overall fitness without binding up) twice. With the winter evenings, this’ll do I think. One weekday evening off (probably a Friday) but a target of half an hour of things each of the other evenings.

So yesterday I did weights.

And today, I mostly did those “crikey, it’s ages since I felt muscle tiredness like this” stretches that a good bout of throwing a barbell around the conservatory induces.

Which didn’t entice me out for a run. Nope; what did that was my idea that having run on Saturday, I could do Monday and Wednesday without a problem and front-load the week with targets achieved.

Not really liking Rye as a destination to run around in the evenings, I did my down into the town jog (the first unintentional pace of the night) followed by my run along the busy bit before heading uphill towards Playden until the Garmin showed two miles bit. The average pace for this mile was slower than the first, mainly due to the uphill of the Playden road. 0.2 miles of it (I happened to look at the Garmin as it clicked onto 1.8 miles) consuming 274 paces (I like to count!), several of which were spent concentrating on the screen of the Garmin to see it click exactly onto 2 miles for the experiment. Not good for pacing, I fear! And boy were those 274 paces hard come by.

The return leg, however, saw the next mile within 4 seconds of the first before the last mile (including half a mile of more gentle uphill to the site office) returned to within 6 seconds of mile 2 pace.

All pace setting unintentional. I merely ran comfortably and that’s how it worked out.

Along with a nagging soreness from my chest following the weights.

But despite the drizzle and the averageness of the route, I nearly enjoyed it. I’m almost in love with my trainers, I’m afraid to say – simply never had such comfortable, easy, simple to get along with footwear in my life, and that helps. But I can see a struggle coming along when the weather turns really nasty – Rye simply doesn’t lure me out at the moment, so a drive home will be a true test of my desire to head out for an evening jog before too long.

51.08 miles to go.

Happy running

This was one of those runs that kept evading me. I was going to go on Thursday evening after work but sore, tired eyes convinced me to put things off until Friday. Friday was an odd day at work and the will to run had ebbed out of me by 5 o’clock, so I promised that I’d get out on Saturday morning and do my 6 mile route whether it was raining or not.

Which is a round and about way of declaring that a lazy week resulted in being 3 ish miles down on normal and wondering how slow the 6 miles would be.

Which is where the odd bit comes in.

7.30 being the new 8 minute mile and that being my target for easy paced running while not training for anything in particular, it means the miles ease by reasonably rapidly while the scenery can be enjoyed without wondering when I’m going to expire. But it does normally require a modicum of alertness to pace to maintain the rhythm.

Until this run. Without looking at my pace at all until loading it onto SportTracks, the splits are perfectly matched considering the slopes on the route alongside the stops for cars to pass and to ask for horseriders to return to single file to let me pass (when did horses become so slow?). With no effort required to maintain pace whatsoever.

I don’t know how when I should be getting less fit over the darker evenings, but there you are.

It was a superb run; just a light rain falling at the start and the end (I postponed until 11.00, breaking out the edge of the patio against the house to attempt to make good from the previous owner bridging all the damp details – they must have liked the mouldy look to the decor) which aided coolness over the summer months without making my glasses impossible to see out of. Not bad at all.

And, having been a Saturday, I can head out Monday and Wednesday without fear of injury to avoid the end of week blues scuppering my plans for an outing (even if the dark, dead-end streets of Rye don’t inspire a run as they could).

55.38 miles to go.

Like a pair of old slippers

As the summer has slipped away, so too have my trainers. Bought in April as my injuries from Janathon eased to welcome in a new season and to assist the repair of my battered lower limbs, they are pretty close to being properly worn out.

I’d not tried Adidas before but they just felt right when I tried them on and, after 350 odd miles of running with not a hint of an injury and with my pace increasing by about half a minute a mile on average, I’ve grown to love them. Adizero Tempo 4’s have found such respect that I’m about to buy another pair just in case they change them and I find myself regretting not getting some more.

But I also fancied something a little plusher for the winter months. As good as they are, being able to see straight through them doesn’t bode well for winter comfort either from wind or splashing from wet pavements. So being offered some running shoes for review on here couldn’t have been more timely. And the fact that one of the shoes offered was an Adidas Solution (similar tech specs to my beloved Tempo 4’s but with more tread depth, more cushioning and more body) was simply perfect.

Now I don’t get excited by much nowadays but getting out for a run in these was exciting me. Sad, really, but true.

I did a family tree comparison on the scales before even trying them on and didn’t know what to expect. They weighed in at 380 grammes. My Adizeros are 286. 100g is a lot to lift when done several thousand times over a run, so I was expecting slow. But then I compared Cathy’s Adizero Adios racing shoes…and flipping heck as like! They’re a mere 189 grammes. Another 100 lighter! But I wonder how long I’d last in a pair before injury?

So I slipped on the Solutions and boy was I happy. Instant familiarity of the Tempos but with a more cushioned feel, practically hugging my feet and telling them they’d be fine. Having tried New Balance, Asics, Nike, Reebok and Saucony throughout my running only the Asics Cumulus 10’s have come close to the immediate feeling of security. My soft spot for Asics was lost with the Cumulus 11’s not feeling as good (as well as breaking my leg in my pair!); Nike’s Pegasus were good for a few pairs but they felt worse after my pair 4 years ago. Adidas seem to have found my foot shape so, if nothing else, I guess it’s good to be a brand whore and try loads out. After all, over the course of a few years it’s amazing how many get put through their paces.

And so to my inaugural run. Expecting the plushness to take away some pace, I was surprised that my first mile came in at 6.53. The rubbish Rye route I selected ran out of street lighting at 1.63 miles so the second mile at 6.59 was more of a shock, especially since my breathing was very easy and the pace felt easy. Two miles incorporating a road crossing with traffic as well as half a mile uphill slowed the overall pace to 7.08 but, on this evidence, the shoes haven’t slowed me considerably if at all. But then I did miss my weekend longer run, so the muscles are a bit fresher than usual.

Suffice to say I’m still excited to put some more miles on them than I have and that that will happen over the coming evenings.

I just have to decide when to wear my beloved Tempo 4’s to treat my feet to some light therapy.

63.35 miles to go.