Archive for February, 2009


still walking

The Stress Free Run – What Killed The Rat – A Grin So Wide I Could Eat Bananas Sideways

The thought of my 8+ mile “kill-or-cure” run yesteday was a bit of a mixed blessing. On one hand, if I could finish the distance I would be a happy boy and would have overcome my fear of hills and would be one step closer to feeling that I was recovered and able to run properly again. The downside was that if I struggled I would throw a MONUMENTAL strop and be in a bad mood for at least a couple of days and possibly aggrovate my ITBS which would put me out of Fleet and, very probably, Prague.

So, I decided that I would basically take it easy – have a gentle run, no pressure but just try and do the distance. Time was not important but I would hit the stopwatch at the start of the run and then forget about it. I set off, and at a slow pace I felt very comfortable. It was nice to be out running again just for the hell of it and not feeling like I had something to prove to myself.

Now this route is one of my favourites that I do on a regular basis. It takes in a small village, a tree-lined bridle path, touches the outskirts of the town, a long slow incline up to the next town along and then back along the towpath and through the park back to mine. I hadn’t run it since early December and was just enjoying being out and, weirdly , not suffering on the run. By the halfway point, I am still feeling pretty fresh. Hello trees… Hello sky… Ooh, a cloud… a dead rat on the towpath…

About a mile from home, I get a pang of guilt at having taken the whole run so slowly and, as I still have a bit of energy left, decide to up the pace for the last bit just for the hell of it. Last sneaky uphill before the end and… relax.

And here is where I have my little revelation…

I took all the pressure off myself and “just went for a run”. I wasn’t bothered about my speed (in fact I felt I had taken it too easy) and, most importantly, I stayed completely relaxed for the whole run. OK, I had a few twinges around the knees and thighs but I didn’t pay too much attention to them and just kept on at the same comfortable pace but… (and I have checked and re-checked the below because I couldn’t quite believe it):

8.68 miles in 78mins 55secs
which I worked out at averaging 9mins 6 secs per mile


I am more than happy with that as:
a) it’s the longest distance I’ve completed since before Xmas
b) it’s my best time since before Xmas
c) I can still walk up and down stairs which indicates that the ITBS has not flared up again

I also now feel that I can vary my training a little more now. Having completed 8+, 10 miles is not so daunting. And if I can do ten, then 13.1 is not too much more of a stretch.

Soundtrack to this post: Just Kissed My Baby – The Meters


one small step for man…

consistency theory – the acid test – the melody that lingers on or the malady that malingers on

After another go at the 6.54 miles yesterday, I can finally say I am nothing if not consistent:

1st Run – 62mins
2nd Run – 61mins 32secs
3rd Run – 61mins 55secs

So a massive 28 second difference between my slowest (“let’s just see if I can do the distance”) and my fastest (“ok, we’re going to go for it today”) which leads me to the conclusion that, at the moment, I may feel like I have put more effort in and am more tired at the finish but it doesn’t actually improve my time significantly. So, a wiser person than I would conclude that I should stick with a pace that I am happy with and possibly end up with a bit of extra “go” left at the end of the run if I need it. Hmmmmm…

Tomorrow sees me up the mileage again in a vain attempt to get to complete at least one 10 miler before I (foolishly) run the Fleet Half. For the Garminless amongst us, I trawled back through my old routes on Running AHEAD and found an 8 and a bit miler that is to be attempted. Crucially, this one contains hills (or at least gradients) which I have had to steer clear of as they have been a sure fire way of aggrovating my Iliotibial Band (which has put my training back by about 2 months). So, it all hinges on tomorrow, if I can complete the distance and still walk up and down stairs once the run is complete it will have been a success!

Incidentally, I got an e-mail today telling me that my new mp3 player has been despatched but will take between 5 & 15 “business days” to arrive. Aaaargh! Let’s hope it gets here soon as I am already thinking about what fine music I can put on it to fire me up and get me through the next few weeks and races… I know it’s a bit anal but what else is a boy to do…??

Soundtrack to this post: Romantic Rights – Death From Above 1979


not so fast…

Any Slower You’d Be Going Backwards – Bad Manners On The Towpath – Here Comes The Invisible Man

Another 6.54 miles yesterday which brings my total for this week to 17.5 miles – which I am fairly happy with. Less impressive was my time considering I’d pushed myself and I felt like I’d kept up a decent, consistent pace throughout. Whilst running, I believed I was striding gracefully through the Hertfordshire countryside. Turns out I was shuffling along like a despondent down and out at an astoundingly unimpressive average of roughly 9m 25s per mile – 61 minutes 32 seconds in total. I can’t even be bothered to work it out properly it was that disappointing…

On my way back, I was running along the towpath of the canal and I spot, coming towards me, in the distance, a group of 6 walkers. They spotted me too… great! Everyone has spotted everyone else. They were blocking the entire width of the towpath by walking 6 abreast but that wasn’t a problem… we had seen each other and they would clearly move over or get into single file or at least split in the middle to allow me through. I was, after all, running straight towards them and they could hardly ignore me – we’d HAD EYE CONTACT.

Although the closer I got to them, the more inconspicuous I must have become – practically invisible. Yes… a practically invisible bald, tattooed man, in running shorts and t-shirt, sweating profusely and heading STRAIGHT FOR THEM.

Now these weren’t horrible little Herberts hell bent on causing trouble, oh no. These were “nice”, “smartly dressed”, middle aged, probably educated people who just decided that THEY WERE NOT GETTING OUT OF MY WAY!!!

“Nononononono… that’s absolutely fine. You just carry on WALKING 6 ABREAST and I’ll just run through this shrubbery and these trees. Don’t mind me… no, really, it’s FINE!!!”.

Perhaps “walkers” is a typo…

Soundtrack to this post: Girls – Beastie Boys


about a million reasons not to

Going Further – Sleep Deprivation and Bad Moods – Even Technology Hates Me

In my head I have a training regime all worked out and today I was to push a little further. Up until now, I have been tentatively trying combinations of distance / speed / knee support / Ibuprofen to try and see what works and ensure I do not go too far too soon. Today was the day where I was going to do my old trick of choosing a point a set distance away from my house and running to it in (approximately) a straight line. Once there, I have no choice (as I have taken no money / mobile phone etc.) but to run back thus forcing me to complete a greater distance than usual. Genius!

After a very poor night’s sleep due in part to a sore shoulder and part to my youngest son, I woke up this morning feeling less than 100% and was contemplating bailing out of the run. But, I have the Fleet Half in 3 weeks and 2 days and the furthest I’ve managed to run this year is about 5 miles. Psychologically, if I don’t know that I can at least complete the 13.1 miles then I feel I may as well stay at home and read a book instead of running come the morning of the 15th March.

So I vow to go out and run. I get myself sorted, running gear on, water bottle filled, grab the mp3 player, turn it on and… nothing. Nowt. No sign of life. Well, not exactly no sign of life because it’s little blue screen lit up and stared at me. Blankly. Malevolently…like HAL in 2001. And I stared back. Helpless. No amount of turning it off and then turning it back on again would work. I thought I could maybe jump start it by plugging it into the pc but no… it just continued to stare it me with it’s unblinking little blue eye. So rather than have to put up with the sound of my feet slapping on the floor and me panting for the duration of the run, I dug out my ancient 30gb Creative mp3 player which is brilliant but about the size of a video cassette and about 17 kilos. I strapped it onto my arm and off we went…

It wasn’t an easy run but considering it was purely distance work, I was pleasantly surprised by the stats below:

6.53 miles in 62 mins. Which works out about 9m 30s per mile by my (probably incorrect) calculation. Which is a massive boost for me as now I feel I can maintain this distance for a couple of runs before upping it again and suddenly 13.1 isn’t quite as scary as it was yesterday.

Soundtrack to this post: Rasta Nah Lose Him Dub – Peter Broggs


eyes down, look in

Stop Moaning Start Training – Getting Competitive – You’re Nothing But A Couple Of Big Bullies

Having spent most of my initial post whining and making excuses about why I haven’t been training, this should really be considered my first proper post as it contains information about actual running, undertaken by me, which took place earlier today.

Over the past 2 months I have had various attempts at getting back in shape to complete the few races that I have planned for this year. Today, however, was the first time that it actually felt like I was getting somewhere. Today was a measured distance. Today was timed. And that might not be much but it gave me a sorely needed boost and also a good idea of where I am now and what needs to be done to get me to where I want to be.

4.54 miles in 42 minutes. Which I’ve worked out (with a calculator and a scrap of paper – how I wish I had a Garmin!) to be around 9m 25s per mile. Which is not as bad as I thought it would be after almost 2 months of virtually zero training.

But still a long way from the 8m 30s per mile I was hoping for in Prague…

All I have to do is shave 55 secs per mile off my time…

Oh, and up my mileage to complete 13.1 miles…

And keep that pace for the full distance…

And not push too hard in my training in case I get injured again…

Piece of piss.

On a slightly different note, last night’s lurk round the West End (detailled so beautifully HERE by Hauling My Carcass) really makes it sound like our mutual friend was bullied into taking part in the BUPA London 10k like some sort of “Running Press Gang” plying the innocent with alcohol and then getting them to agree to something they would never even entertain were they sober. I see it differently, he wasn’t bullied. Oh no. He was inspired by our enthusiasm and dedication. Yes.


Soundtrack to this post: House Of Jealous Lovers – The Rapture.

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