Archive for May, 2010



Barefoot? But It Might Hurt! – Well Read – Sucker For Punishment

First prize for this years Juneathon is a pair of Vibram FiveFingers shoes. This got me thinking again… I have been very curious about the whole “barefoot running” debate but am also concerned that I may injure myself attempting this – particularly as I have niggles with knees and ITB a good part of the time. I tend to hit the ground quite heavily and slightly overpronate… Running barefoot may cause me to naturally correct my running style or may actually make things worse. A barefoot walk back to the car after Sundays Wheathampstead 10k was enough to remind me that the soles of my feet are VERY tender and that I tend to heel strike with quite an impact, even when walking. So I am curious about barefoot running, too chicken to attempt it and too mean to spend upwards of £75 on a pair of shoes that a) may injure me and b) I may not like running in.
I have also been reading “Born To Run” by Christopher McDougall. I am about half way through and the book talks about the Tarahumara tribe who run incredible distances either completely barefoot or using only a sandal made from a flat sole tied to the foot. I am enjoying the book… it has some great passages and if you can stomach the “Americanisms” (“You telling him that ESPN wouldn’t jump at the chance of good-looking guys in skirts smashing records on a mythical man-eater? Hell yeah!!) it is a good read pitched somewhere between “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” and a Carlos Castenada novel.

So it was with a head full of The Tarahumara, thoughts of FiveFinger Running Shoes and an article about speedwork from this months Runners World that I set off on this mornings short run in the 7am drizzle. 6.5kms including 6 x 200m sprints and one hill with a face full of rain and sweat. During the slow parts of the run I was concentrating on my running style, staying relaxed and trying to alter my gait so I hit the ground gently with my midfoot rather than my usual high impact heel strike. It felt unnatural and made my calves and ankles ache a little but I think it is something I shall continue to try and work on. I find it unlikely that I will ever run “as if your feet are caressing the earth” but surely anything to make my running more efficient and minimise the impact on my ankles and knees must be a good thing.

Whilst I was in this positive frame of mind, I signed up for the MuscleWarrior 10k on June 5th. Silly really as it is during Juneathon and I already have the Crisis Square Mile Run on 10th and the London to Brighton Cycle Ride on 20th June. Maybe a steady stream of events to participate in will help keep me motivated throughout Juneathon (???!!). We’ll soon find out…

Soundtrack to this post: The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown – I’ve Got Money


wheathampstead 10k race report – what a difference a year makes

Back For Another Go – 2 kids: 2km – Scorchio

Having run and enjoyed the Wheathampstead 10k last year, I’d decided to tackle it again this year. Last year, myself and SonNumberOne attempted the 2k together and then I went on to also run the 10k. And it rained. Enormous amounts of rain – stopping just before the 10k meaning the course was muddy and slippery and the run was a cold one.
This year we decided to do the same with a few alterations. I would run the 2k with SonNumberOne, Mrs eatingtrees would run the 2k with SonNumberTwo, then I would go on to run the 10k with Hauling My Carcass whose heavily pregnant LG would sit patiently in the shade for the duration as this year it wasn’t raining – it was 27 degrees with no discernible breeze.

SonNumberOne completed the 2k in 16:35 with Mrs eatingtrees and SonNumberTwo coming in approximately 8 minutes later. The boys were very happy with their medals and both did amazingly well. There was just time for a congratulatory hug and a hair ruffle, and then Hauling My Carcass and I needed to make our way to the start of the 10k. It was little before 11am and despite wearing only running shorts and what has affectionately become known as my “Village People” running vest, I was already beginning to feel the heat.

Hauling My Carcass had not run for 49 days and was sure he would come in around 1:05 although he is quicker and fitter than he thinks. I’d been running 10k’s recently at around 56mins so I thought I’d finish about 57-58 mins to allow for the few bottlenecks on the course. We’d agreed to run our seperate races so I set off a little quicker and we would meet up at the end.

The route itself makes it’s way along bridlepaths and around the edges of farmers fields. Last year, we dodged the puddles and tried not to slip over, this year we wanted to not twist our ankles on the baked hard uneven earth or swallow too many insects. There are a few shaded sections in the first half of the race but as it creeps towards midday, the heat increases, the amount of shade decreases and the body temperature rises. I was wearing a cap to protect my head from the sun and with each step, a small drip of sweat would fall from the visor. Because I’d already run the 2k, I was feeling warmed up and had set off at a relatively spritely pace, picking my way through other runners. It wasn’t until about 7kms that the heat started to wear me down. I wasn’t suffering too badly but was noticeably slowing. I didn’t notice many people start to pass me though so think everyone was slowing in unison.

At 9km, Hauling My Carcass appears alongside and we run the last part together, both crossing the line in 59:32. I took myself off to sit in the shade for a few moments before meeting up with everyone. Some water and a banana provided by the organisers made everything alright again and we then spent a little while all sitting in the shade of a tree before saying our goodbyes and heading off.

So a very different experience from last year but this is still a very enjoyable race, whatever the weather. Organisation is good, course is testing but not too tough, marshalling is friendly and encouraging and the crowd over the last 500 metres was very supportive and vocal. Stalls and a bouncy castle add to the relaxed “village fete” feel and I think I’ll be back for a third try next year.

Soundtrack to this post: Cluster – Heisse Lippen


the “j” word

A Call To Arms – Do It & Blog It – The More The Merrier

I’m sure most of you are aware of Juneathon, some of you may have participated last year. Jogblog has officially mentioned it, iliketocount has too and so it has come to pass that it is now less than 2 weeks until it commences.

For the uninitiated, it involves running, cycling or somehow exercising (and probably eating pizza if Jogblog has her way) each day in June and then blogging about it. Or uploading details onto a Facebook page that I am reliably informed is being created. It was originally overseen by the mighty Joggerblogger who is unfortunately unable to carry out his Chief Juneathoner role this year and so the responsibility now sits with Jogblog.

It is quite a test of endurance. To actually force yourself to do SOMETHING every single day can be pretty hard. After about 10 days, you begin counting the days until the end of June. You begin to resent it, you pick up all manner of frustrating, niggly little aches and pains (am I doing a good job of selling it to you? Am I? Am I?). At the end there is an enormous sense of acheivement. And an enormous sense of relief. It creates a sense of community amongst all those taking part and it is great to catch up with everybody’s blogs and to see their efforts. It does not require superhuman feats, in fact I would recommend against trying to run large distances every day. Run, cycle, cross-train, do push ups, sit ups. Mix it up but do it every day and blog it.

Last year I was lucky enough to win and received a rather fetching gold monkey statue for my efforts.

I will definitely be participating this year although I suspect the last week of June to be very hard as we will be undertaking the London to Brighton Bike Ride on 20th June and I can’t see I’ll have much left in me for the rest of the month once that is out of the way.

So, hopefully a lot of you will be inspired. Hopefully a lot of you will take part. Last year we had a good few people participating and it would be nice if we could better that this year.

Soundtrack to this post: The Meters – Cissy Strut


give me strength!

S-l-o-w-i-n-g – Video Nasty – Has It Really Come To This?

There has not been much to report over the past week. My surge of activity has taken it’s toll a little bit and the two runs that I’ve done since last blogging felt much faster than they actually were. Hold on, that’s not a very accurate description. Try this… the two runs that I’ve done since last blogging made me feel more knackered at the end than I had any right to feel.
That’s better. I suspect this is because I’ve been doing more and had less recovery time than I’m used to. Perhaps it is no coincidence then that a friend of mine sent me this little clip about the Honda U3-X Personal Mobility Prototype.

It’s been a long time since I have had a proper rant on this blog and this is too good an opportunity to miss!!
It would appear that the incredibly talented, creative and inventive people at Honda have come up with a portable and viable alternative to using your legs. As I watched the video, I experienced a range of emotions: mild amusement, disbelief, confusion and finally despair and the urge to slam my own head repeatedly in the nearest door. Why would you invent this? Who will buy it? What would you actually use it for? At first I thought of secretaries moving silently between filing cabinets extracting important documents in a seamless blend of grace and technology. But when the video cuts to the 2 women discussing a piece of art in a gallery whilst both perched on these ridiculous contraptions, I wanted to shout at my monitor. And then cry.

It is the 21st Century. Where are the Jet Packs that science fiction has been promising us? What about working on discovering the technical capability required to produce an actual Light Sabre? Why can’t I buy a jacket that renders me invisible?? It is, after all, 2010! These are the things we want. Not a high tech unicycle that looks like an epilator.

My favourite bit? “Both hands are free so carrying packages while moving is simple”.
So a teensy bit like walking then.

Soundtrack to this post: Editors – An End Has A Start


flurry of activity

On Your Bike – Thirty Is Not Fifty Four – Punk Pensioner in W6

The strange euphoria experienced last week has bled over into this week and meant that I have continued to cram in all sorts of activity over the bank holiday weekend. After an easy 10km run on Thursday night, Friday was taken gently as I had a 30 mile cycle ride with Hauling My Carcass planned for Saturday morning. I haven’t done much cycling this year due to the poor weather and as I don’t use my pushbike for a daily commute, I only tend to go out on it when I either plan a ride in advance or the mood suddenly takes me. Cycling in the pouring rain or snow is not an enjoyable experience for me so have so far limited my cycling to quick half hour hacks around town.

Saturdays ride was a bit of a shock to the system though… 30+ miles – country roads, dual carriageways, some hills and a couple of home made bikes that, like their riders, were not designed for long distances or tough terrain. The first 20 miles were relatively OK. There were more hills than I’d imagined when I was planning the route but a couple of quick stops for water was enough to put us right and steady us for the next stretch. At 25 miles we had our first and only drama of the day when we stopped to check the map to work out our next few miles. As we climbed back onto the bikes, Hauling My Carcass began to push off just as the bike slipped from under him, smacking his knee on the floor and receiving a jab to the stomach from the pedals. The knee began to bruise almost instantly and the pedal scrapes across his midriff were getting more vivid by the second. A quick sit down, a lot of swearing and then we decided that rather than cut the ride short, we would continue on to complete just over 32 and a half miles. My tiredness became apparent at almost exactly 30 miles – a sudden feeling of weakness coupled with a hunger that appeared from nowhere. Fortunately we were only a couple of miles from my house so we called it a day, rode home and ate. What is disconcerting is that in 7 weeks time, during the London to Brighton, 30 miles would still mean 24 miles left to go. I think we may have to stop and picnic at the side of the road to keep us going.
Once fed and relaxed, Hauling My Carcass headed off mid afternoon leaving me to contemplate how sore my legs would be the following day.

Fortunately, there wasn’t as much soreness as I’d anticipated so Sunday was a pleasantly ache-free day. A quick session with the weights in the morning and then a chilled afternoon as I was off to see Iggy and The Stooges in Hammersmith that evening. I am pleased to say that they didn’t disappoint and the sight of a 62 year old man, bare chested and hurling himself around the stage and into the crowd is a remarkable testament to the resilience of the human body.

Another quick run Monday, this time tackling as many hills as I could cram into looping off-road route before lunchtime, and then just the satisfaction of a Bank Holiday weekend well spent.

Soundtrack to this post: Misty In Roots – See Them A Come

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