Archive for January, 2010


pre-emptive action

£40 To Go Nowhere – Little By Little – Further Then Faster

After my last post, I really had to find a creative way of getting back into a training regime that wasn’t going to completely ruin me and force me to miss the Lisbon Half. A visit to the local Leisure Centre proved fruitless – Although there are posters all over town advertising a “join for a pound” offer, it transpires that you can only join for a pound if you sign up to then pay £40 a month. Treadmills are dull, and I doubt paying £40 a month for the privelege of running on one is going to make it any more exciting. So I needed another plan.

After many goes on my Foam Roller, stretching and massaging my sore leg, I decided on a course of action that involved much rolling, taking Ibuprofen before a run and slowly increasing the distances I run. Sunday mornings run of 5km felt OK – a little discomfort in the left leg but nothing like the “muscle-popping-back-and-forth” sensation that I had previously. And most importantly, I could still climb and descend stairs afterwards.
This morning, I pushed it further by running 10.6km and once again, there was some discomfort in my left leg. It wasn’t fast but I can (so far) still do stairs so am taking that as a good sign. So my plan is for 12km on Saturday, 15km the weekend after, 18km the following weekend and then the Wokingham Half Marathon on 21st. At this point, finishing the Half Marathon injury free is my goal. Once that is done, I can concentrate on speeding up in time for the Lisbon Half.

Soundrack to this post: Bauhaus – In The Flat Field



Is Not Running The New Running? – Can’t Do This, Can’t Do That – But I’ve Hardly Muddied My New Trainers

Here’s an interesting concept… a running blog with a post that is specifically about not running. Or more precisely, my current inability to run.
Since Sunday’s pathetic attempt at 13kms and the ensuing recurrence of (suspected) Iliotibial Band problems, I have not run. Instead, I have spent a lot of time thinking how I can begin training again. Whether I leave it for a while and risk being completely unprepared for the Wokingham Half Marathon at the tail end of Feb. Or do I call off Wokingham and concentrate on Lisbon giving me 9 weeks to get sorted. Or do I attempt a much shorter run over the coming weekend (Hauling My Carcass suggested a 1 mile loop close to home so I can run the loop multiple times if feeling chipper or skulk home with my tail between my legs if feeling useless), or do I drag my sorry self down to the local leisure centre and try out on the low-impact and not very exciting running machines, or do I continue with Ibuprofen and the Foam Roller and hope that it gets better? All of the above are possible options but the thought of trying to run and making it worse is annoying me. But so is the thought of not running and being poorly prepared for Wokingham and Lisbon (oh please let me be fit for Lisbon, please, pretty please with cherries on top…). So there has been no running this week but I have tried to walk where possible as that seems to help and also not cause me any pain. Oh, and I am no longer doing that half limp / hop thing when trying to descend stairs.

Also, I’ve had my new front brake for my beautiful home made fixed gear bike delivered but haven’t got round to fitting it yet because I won’t be able to try it out because apparently cycling aggravates the Iliotibial Band too!!! Grrrr…

So if any of you have any ideas about my not running not cycling dilemma, answers on a postcard please…

Soundtrack to this post: Alpha & Omega – Pure And Clean


stairs aren’t much fun

Weekends And Bleakdays – A Night Out – Knees Are Stupid

…And neither is driving, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves here so let’s go back a bit.

What promised to be a good weekend was given a boost on Friday morning by getting stuck on the M1 whilst a cleanup operation took place on the motorway, making me so late for a meeting that I was supposed to attend that I was left with no choice but to turn round, return home and spend the rest of the day working remotely. Which was a bit of a result as I had tickets to go and see the magnificent Henry Rollins that evening and the thought of having to attend the meeting in Birmingham and then race back to London in time for the performance was daunting. So, having no interruptions at home, I got far more work done than if I had gone to the office AND I was sure I’d get to the South Bank in time for the evenings entertainment. Mr Rollins was on fine form, as always and Saturday was spent doing all the bits and pieces that I needed to catch up on.

Leaving Sunday free for my “long” run.

Work is settling down but the absence of daylight by the time I get home means that my long runs are best reserved for Sundays when I can run the bridleways and towpaths that do not have street lamps. Because of the snow, I haven’t run these routes for a while so was looking forward to a pleasant 13km run. I started out well and was enjoying the sunshine and being able to wear shorts without suffering frostbite but despite having my knee support, I noticed that things were not as they should be after about 4kms. It was a suspiciously familiar feeling around the outside of my left knee, like something was popping back and forth at the side of my knee as I took each stride. I stopped for a stretch and continued on but by 8kms it was fairly sore so had to change tactics. I would run/walk the remaining 5kms back home so the rest of the run became a long interval session that switched between regular run, walk and sprint sessions. This seemed to give the knee some respite but it was the regular run that caused the most pain. Maybe I’ll just have to resign myself to walking or sprinting everywhere!
What is most frustrating is that the last time I had this problem, I was training for (and very much looking forward to) the Prague Half Marathon. This time, I have begun training (and very much looking forward to) the Lisbon Half Marathon. I had hoped for a pb in Lisbon as it is supposed to be a very fast course. What is bothering me now is that a pb looks unlikely and unless I can sort this problem out double quick, I may end up run/walking the race which is not ideal!

The rest of Sunday saw me hobbling around and complaining like an old man each time I was faced with a set of stairs or having to use the clutch on the car.

Looks like I shall be on a steady diet of Ibuprofen and the foam roller for the next few weeks.


Soundtrack to this post: Augustus Pablo – King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown


knee supports and new shoes

Early Start – Would You Mind Getting Out Of The Car Please Sir – Exterminate

In the last 10 days, I have had the unusual opportunity to skate. Twice. Once on ice and once on roller skates. Now, it is unusual if I skate once a year, let alone twice in less than 2 weeks which might be why my left knee region is sore and it hurts when I walk up and down stairs. Which is bad news as it feels very similar to the Iliotibial Band problem I have had in the past, so for now, I’m back to wearing a knee support whilst running and hitting the foam roller twice a day.
Fortunately, my lovely new running shoes have arrived. The Saucony ProGrid Guide 2… an updated version of the ProGrid Guide that have served me so well. First impressions are that they are lovely and supportive and cushioned although that may be down to the shocking disrepair I let my last pair get into. I know that when I ran in them yesterday, there was none of the soreness in my calves and the balls of my feet so it looks like they are doing the trick.
Yesterdays run was a welcome antidote to the days events. Nothing makes me feel so sluggish as getting up early in the morning or having to spend prolonged periods of time in the car. So waking at 5.30 am and being on the road by 6.30 am for a 300ish mile round trip to the Midlands left me feeling weary and jaded. Fortunately, a run usually invigorates me and wakes me up so as soon as I arrived home, I threw on the tights, many layers, my lovely comfortable, supportive new running shoes, a fluorescent jacket and (a new addition to my winter running attire) a head torch. The pavements were still largely untouched by salt and looked pretty treacherous so I opted to run on the road again. 11.3kms covered and only 1 uptight car driver as opposed to about ten times as many the last time I attempted to run on the road because of the snow. And I have a theory that it was the head-torch that made all the difference. After all, who would argue with what appears to be a 5’9″ day glo Dalek running towards them.

Soundtrack to this post: Florence And The Machine – Drumming Song


audiofuel and a quick blast

Everyone was predicting huge amounts of snowfall and on Tuesday evening, we had still had none. Pictures on the news of people stuck in their houses or stranded in their cars on snow covered motorways seemed quite strange as outside it was cold but completely clear. Because of the alleged impending doom and apocalyptic conditions that were heading our way, I thought I might nip out for a quick blast before barricading myself inside and existing on soup and Pot Noodles until the snow passed. It would also be a good chance to have a run with another of the Audiofuel tracks I was sent. So I threw on as many layers as I thought was sensible, gloves, hat and mp3 player and off I went. I wanted a quick (for me) 5k and considering it was in the dark, a bit icy and I was still recovering from my ill-advised 11 miler a few days prior, I was quite happy with the 27:31 time.

I’d listened to a snippets of the Audiofuel tracks when they’d first arrived. I wanted to hear what they were like. Sat at my laptop with them in the background, I was sceptical that they would be suitable for me to run with. I, as a rule, like to have music that I can lose myself in whilst I run – allowing me to switch off and not concentrate and these seemed to be the opposite, giving instruction to “lock on to the beat” and “keep your shoulders relaxed”. I’ve run with them 3 or 4 times now and I actually quite enjoy using them. The music varies from jazzy electronica, through sparkly, twinkly trance to crunchy, abrasive techno. BPM generally varies from 150 to 165 (although there are some slower sections and some quite testing faster bits) and I realise that I generally run somewhere between 160 – 165bpm. 150 feels too slow and I have to try and adjust my stride to a partial leap to keep in time. The sprint sections of 190bpm feel very tough, though. I think if I tried to keep that pace up for more than a minute or so I may collapse or burst into flames. Most of the tracks contain some initial instruction as the music begins and this is what I found most intrusive. Once you are comfortably striding along, the infrequent instruction you receive to stay relaxed or keep in time to the beat become almost subliminal. As the music is mostly synthetic perhaps I would find the spoken introduction less jarring if it too were treated so it sounded more electronic – make it sound like Kraftwerk and it would fit perfectly! A 16 minute sample track can be downloaded from the website and you can also choose whether you want the track to have a coaching voiceover.

For me, the tracks worked best once you had hit your stride and the bpm matched, more or less, the natural running rhythm. It was then that I found myself subconciously running in time to the beat, making me notice when I started to slack off and helping me keep a more regular pace. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised. I don’t think I could use them for every run, just as I wouldn’t listen to the same tracks on my mp3 player for every run, but to keep things different and mix my training up a little bit, they provide a welcome change.


a little housekeeping

I sat down with the good intention of blogging about my last brief run and reviewing the audiofuel tracks that I was very kindly sent and that have been accompanying me on my recent excursions. But then I got sidetracked – my blog was looking a bit tired and cluttered and I’d already promised that I would get round to updating it, tidying it up and making it more user-friendly.
So my blogging time has instead been spent rationalising the layout. There is now a new page for the races I’ve completed (ticked off – above) and a seperate links page (also above). This should mean that the homepage is a little less fussy and not crammed with the same old information. Over the next few days, I shall be updating the live feeds on the right hand side of this page so that the most recent posts from other running blogs appear on the main page… watch this space


ten that felt like twenty

Foolish And Freezing – So Who Brought The Water Then – Saved By Sweet Potato And Butternut Squash

It was a ridiculous idea.

Throughout December, I consistently covered approximately 10kms whenever I ventured out for a run… which, to be honest, wasn’t all that often. I knew that I had planned to go Ice Skating on 3rd Jan and fancied a little bike ride on the 1st Jan. So what on Earth posessed me to agree to an 10 and a half mile run with Hauling My Carcass on the 2nd Jan???

It had been a bitterly cold night and was nudging 2 degrees when we set off for the run. Pavements were icy and any road that wasn’t considered “main” seemed to be in the same sorry state. Our route took us out of Putney, through Roehampton and into Richmond Park where we ran into the centre, out to the far side and then back round the perimeter before ducking across the A3 into Wimbledon Common and then back to HMC’s flat. I used to live next to Richmond Park, so I know it quite well but it seems to have become much, erm…hillier. It is a beautiful place to run and it is easy to forget that you are still in London as you dodge the deer but once you venture away from the perimeter, it’s lack of landmarks mean that it is very easy to take the odd wrong turning… much like we did – adding approximately a quarter of a mile and a sandy, uphill bridle path to our planned route. We also got some unsolicited abuse from a couple of lycra clad idiot cyclists and I like to think that, had I been less tired, I would have come up with a far wittier retort than the profanity I managed at the time.

Trainers on the verge of extinction, lack of training and the undulating terrain all took their toll on my calves and lower back. For all the support and cushioning that my running shoes now provided, I may as well have left them at home and taped a slice of bread to each foot instead. The last mile and a half back to the flat was torturous… we hadn’t taken any water with us (must remember water on long runs…must remember water on long runs…), I’d had breakfast at 8am and it was now nearly 2pm so my stomach was churning and threatening to expel what little was left in it. Hauling My Carcass then informed me what his LG had planned for us for lunch and that was enough to keep me motivated to, literally, stagger the last stretch – sweating, red faced and slap-footed back to his place.

All the technical info (route, elevation etc.) and HMC’s side of the story is on his blog. It was one of those runs that was great once it stopped. 2 pints of Ribena and the spectacular gnocchi, butternut squash and sweet potato bake that awaited us was fantastic and soon had us feeling human again.

Soundtrack to this post: Editors – In This Light And On This Evening

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