Archive for September, 2010

30
Sep
10

s.a.d.

If proof were needed of the effect of psychology on performance, scientists need only to have turned up with their white coats and their clipboards to witness my truly pathetic attempt at a 10k early morning run on Wednesday.

The weather had been drizzly and overcast for a couple of days and I always find it harder to get motivated when the weather is dull. But I had decided that Wednesday morning was going to be “10k early morning run morning”. The weather forecasters had said it would be rainy and horrible but, PAH, what do they know… meteorology is not science – it is more akin to reading tea-leaves or casting runes. If it were scientific, surely they’d get it right more often. By an incredible coincidence, Wednesday mornings weather did tally with the Met Office’s prediction (the clue is right there) that it would be rainy and horrific and it actually was rainy and horrific. Weather forecasters often speak of “mizzle” being a mixture of mist and drizzle. The weather on Wednesday morning was actually more like “razzle” which is entirely made up by me and is a mixture of rain (bigger drops) mixed in with drizzle (smaller, more annoying drops). Anyway, whatever it was, it dampened my spirit so much that the first 5k was run at a snails pace and the second 5k was run / walked and interspersed with muttering and swearing. I wish I hadn’t bothered…

Still, in 10 days time I have a Half Marathon to run. I just hope it doesn’t rain…

Soundtrack to this post: The Velvet Underground – All Tomorrow’s Parties

27
Sep
10

Royal Parks 10.10.10

As race day looms, I received an e-mail from some nice people asking if I could mention the other events that are going on whilst I stagger aimlessly bound purposefully across the finish line at the Royal Parks Half. This will be my 3rd RPH and, as I enjoy it immesnsely, I was happy to oblige…

In addition to the Half Marathon, which is now full with all 16,000 places taken, there is the Pulse 3k Run for 11-16 year olds. This year, there is also the “Hearts and Heritage” walks. The walk, which runs concurrently with this year’s Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon, is made up of two ‘waves’; a ‘Hearts’ Wave for lonely hearts and a ‘History & Heritage’ Wave for history buffs. The ‘Hearts’ Wave will provide single men and women with the opportunity to meet like-minded people looking for love or friendship, whilst enjoying the surroundings of the Royal Parks. The “History” Wave follows the same route taking in Wellington Arch, Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and the Albert Memorial. The course for both is 13.1 miles although this can be abbreviated to 6 miles if you prefer (or you meet the boy / girl of your dreams within 10kms!!). If none of the above is your thing, there is the Brakes Food & Fitness Festival – or you can just find a good spot along the route and cheer us all on. There really is nothing like a bit of encouragement when the going gets tough.

My preparation this week has been necessarily sparse once again due to the removal of a wisdom tooth on Tuesday. The dentist didn’t say that I specifically shouldn’t run but somewhere in the back of my mind I had an image of me striding down the road whilst arcs of blood spurted from the gaping wound in my mouth. So to avoid that unlikely scenario, I stuck to a 6.5km “barefoot” run on Friday and a grey and damp 15k on Sunday morning.

Soundtrack to this post: Grinderman – Honey Bee (Let’s Fly To Mars)

19
Sep
10

mine’s a half

The new running shoes arrived this week. I took them out for a 10k test run (hahahahahaha!) midweek and they seemed to perform as expected. I’m always surprised at how tight and stiff new running shoes feel in comparison to my old pair that have been through hell and high water (well rain and a little bit of mud) and have moulded to the shape of my feet.
Today was to be my “long run” of the week and with the Royal Parks Half Marathon only 3 weeks away, I felt I’d better get prepared. And what better way to prepare for running 13.1 miles than by going out and running 13.1 miles. So following what was basically last Sunday’s route with a few extra bits, I duly completed 13.1 miles (21.1kms for the Eurocentric amongst us) in 2:05:26. I thought I’d planned the route in my head pretty well but realised on the way back towards my house, that I was going to come up about 2 and a half kilometres shy of the full distance so had to incorporate all manner of loops and detours.
It was an easy run and only began to feel slightly more difficult around the 16km mark. Then it got less and less pleasurable by the metre which the distance miscalculation only aggravated as I could have run 2 kms in one direction and been home instead of executing a seemingly random set of loops and swirls to extend the run to the required distance. Still, the new shoes did the trick and I have some new and strangely placed blisters to add to my collection.
Finally, the Royal Parks Race pack arrived this week containing this years top. The top from the first year was excellent – nice burgundy colour, made of bamboo (eco-friendly, wicking etc.) and is probably my “top of choice” for a long run. Last years t-shirt didn’t even get to the charity shop but went straight into the bin as it was an horiffic lavender colour with a slogan on the reverse that looked like it had been dreamt up and subsequently designed by a 7 year old girl. So there was a certain amount of expectation for this years design. When I looked at it in the bag, the first thing that struck me was that it was orange. Although quite a nice orange. And it was made of the nice bamboo, wicking material so doing well so far. It also has the RPH logo on the chest and looks quite stylish. Good. Unfortunately, it then succeeds in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by having an awful white and purple design on the reverse that appears to be a footprint containing a silhouette of someone running through some leaves. The script at the side reads, “I believe in leaves”…

Ooh, the front's not bad...


... and the back... oh, bugger!

Soundtrack to this post: Klaxons – Echoes

13
Sep
10

the mathematics of chaos

I’ve always quite liked the idea that everything is a consequence of a seemingly unconnected series of events. After my shockingly disappointing lunchtime training run at the tail end of last week, I vowed that Sunday’s run would be a long, slow affair to get some miles in and (hopefully) convince me that a Half Marathon in a months time is do-able.
I am pleased to say that the run turned out to be the confidence booster that I had needed… 17.3kms in 1:42:17. Now, this is not particularly fast… but it wasn’t meant to be. I just wanted a longer than normal distance at a steady pace with no twinges, aches, pains or numbness. Oddly, I actually finished the run feeling quite refreshed and happy having run steadily. I also looked at the Garmin and pondered carrying on for another 4kms just to complete a Half Marathon distance – had I not had friends due over for lunch I may well have done it. All of this is surprising because of the occurences of the previous 24 hours…
I went out on Saturday night to see The Master Drummers Of Africa at the South Bank. It was a great evening and was finished by 10.30. I actually thought to myself as I left the venue “Excellent… I’ll be home by 11.30”. I was quite hungry as I had skipped dinner to get to the gig on time. I walked back towards where the motorbike was parked and heard the sound of my bike alarm… Looking up the street, I could see what looked like my bike, lying on the floor, partially beneath a white van and a confused looking van driver staring down at his handiwork. I ran over and, after much debate from me as to how much of an idiot you have to be to ride over a parked motorcycle, it took a bit of doing but we managed to get the van off of my bike and the bike upright. I took his details and then waited around for the AA to come and rescue me as the bike was unrideable. I arrived home at 2.30am, tired and hungry and promptly made myself and enormous cheese sandwich then went to bed.
After 4 hours sleep, I woke up, toyed with the idea of not going out to run but realised that I would just stay in and mope about the bike if I didn’t.
So it seems the equation for a successful easy, long run looks like this:

(African Drummers – Idiotic Van Driver) + AA Recovery Vehicle x (Large Late Night Cheese Sandwich + Little Sleep) = 17.3kms / 1:42:17

Soundtrack to this post: 23 Skidoo – IY

10
Sep
10

angry

It’s that time again where I have to invest in some new running shoes. I noticed the other day that part of the sole on one of my shoes was completely worn away and I was running on the foam. Obviously it is nice to have new, sweet smelling and comfortable running shoes every once in a while but shopping for them always disturbs me. I’m not a particularly difficult customer as I generally stick to the same make and model that have served me well (Saucony Pro Grid Guide). A quick search on Google indicates that I need to spend upward of £65 which although a not a massive amount of money still seems like quite a lot for something that I only wear for about 4 hours a week. Fortunately, the website I usually use has the model I want, in the size I need for £49.99 so hastily order them before somebody else requiring a size 9 and a half decides they want them. So they are on the way to me… just as well because todays run was a hellish, disheartening experience, more of which later…

Whilst out on todays run, which incidentally was able to be executed at lunch time due to working from home today, I very nearly ran slap bang into someone. Not entirely my fault but it did serve to annoy me for the remaining 5k of my 10k lunchtime bonanza. I was running along the pavement and notice a large 4 wheel drive pull into a parking space near the shops up ahead of me. Out steps a woman, a very large woman, who is managing to lock her car, talk loudly on her mobile and stuff what looks like an entire sandwich into her mouth all at the same time. She then proceeds to weave left and right across the pavement in front of me in a seemingly random manner making it very difficult for me to be able to pass her. She lurches to the right and I seize the moment and nip past her on the left hand side at which point, she tuts and ducks into the bakers. This managed to annoy me on many levels at the same time – I am out running, exercising and trying to keep myself in shape only to be thwarted in this attempt by a clearly very overweight woman not looking where she was going and yet I probably pay the same for my life insurance as she does even though she obviously has a less active lifestyle which could be taken as an indicator of her being less healthy and more at risk of becoming sick. And the tutting!!! Now I don’t want to be too harsh here as she may have had some medical condition that contributed to her being the size that she was although I suspect that no condition exists that causes the sufferer to become impatient, uncoordinated, rude and greedy and resort to driving an entirely unsuitable and uneconomic vehicle to the cake shop. Athough this was the spark for an interesting thought… some insurance companies will charge a lower premium for people who take regular exercise so surely there is a gap in the market for an insurance company to subsidise me in the purchase of running shoes… Hmmm!

Still, after the cake shop incident, I carried on my merry way but it was a struggle. At 7km, my left shin / knee began to feel numb, just as it was doing at the beginning of the year before Lisbon. It seems to be brought on by me upping the mileage too quickly and I am aware that, with exactly one month to go to the Royal Parks Half and very little distance under my belt, upping the mileage is exactly what I am having to do. I finished the 10k in 57:12… not a bad time for me but for the last 500m, the bottom half of my left leg had gone completely numb and it felt like it was about to give way. It wasn’t painful but just felt very, very wobbly. And both feet were tingling with pins and needles. I sat on the kerb, pissed off… really, really pissed off. It isn’t the end of the world but it is annoying and I hope that the numbness in the left leg and tingling in the feet is really just a sympton of running too far on worn out shoes. I’ll find out soon enough when the new shoes arrive. Until then, I have 1 more long run scheduled for Sunday where I shall attempt 10 miles and then the trainers will be put in a box until I can give them a proper send off at Grim in December.

Soundtrack to this post: The Tiger Lillies – Bully Boys

08
Sep
10

cleansed

It didn’t take long for the novelty to wear off. After 2 days back at work, I was struggling to maintain the will to live. Having also to deal with a number of idiots soured the whole sorry experience further so this morning, even though I had little time to squeeze it in, I went out for a run. I’d chosen to tackle the Audiofuel 180 Max Pyramid session once more as it provides exactly the sort of exorcism I required – a few quick blasts of high intensity, enough to get rid of pent up anger but also quick enough to be over and done with in under half an hour.
With that duly in the bag and my anger levels back in check, a day slaving over a hot laptop had me gasping to get outside by 5pm. Maybe it is because I’m just back from holiday (where I spent about 14 hours each day outside, every day for 2 weeks) or maybe I have just outgrown this job… whatever the reason I had a burning desire to get out and do SOMETHING.
Even as the grey clouds gathered, I was hastily packing away the laptop and had decided that a quick hour out and about on the fixie would sort me out. So off I went, basically following my 10k running loop alongside the river but adding a few detours and flourishes to bring the distance closer to 15km. At about 8km into the ride (and at probably my furthest point from home) the heavens opened and for about 10 minutes it absolutely tipped down, soaking me and making it virtually impossible for me to see where I was going. And it was marvellous.
I arrived home just under an hour later, dripping wet and grinning from ear to ear. I was greeted by a dismayed looking Mrs eatingtrees who took one look at me and said, “Why are you so happy?”. I explained that I’d just been hacking around on the pushbike in the pouring rain and it was great. As she turned away, I swear she muttered something that sounded like “weirdo..!”

Soundtrack to this post: Fela Kuti – Expensive Shit

05
Sep
10

home and away

Hot And Not Bothered – Zen And The Art Of… – Trancendental Tiredness

Oh, it seems like ages since I last blogged and in fact it was over 2 and a half weeks ago. Two of those weeks were spent in the beautiful (and hot) island of Fuertaventura where there were very many magnificent things taking place including a trip to the lava fields of Timanfaya on Lanzarote (highly recommended) and a fair few hours snorkelling with SonNumberOne. In between all this fun I did manage to squeeze in a few runs (every other day so 7 to be precise) and also some lazing around in the sunshine.

The running was fairly spectacular as I quickly worked out a 3ish mile loop from the apartment down to the beach, following the path along the bay just as the sun was rising before heading back. I was also lucky enough to hook up with a fellow runner (who had a Garmin with him so we could check time and distance) for the first week so we could discover the routes together rather than risk getting too lost and ending up in what can only be described as desert. Runs were executed between 7.30 – 8.30am as it was still fairly cool (19 degrees). Once it got past 9am, the temperature crept up to just under 40 degrees so not ideal for scampering around. Once my running buddy had left, I had the chance to do a few “minimal footwear” runs but alas bottled out of going completely bare. Still, I was quite happy with 7 runs out of 14 days especially as I was on holiday and supposed to be taking it easy.

I arrived back in the early hours of Thursday and, despite planning to go for a run Friday morning and Saturday morning I opted for a few more hours in bed rather than get out to pound the streets. This mornings run was my usual 10kms along the river and thought that I could use it to put into practice some of the Chi Running techniques I had been reading about whilst languishing on a sun bed. I am still only half way through the book but the basis of is that your core muscles are stronger than your thighs and calves and therefore it is easier to use these as the main power source for your running (i.e. using big muscles for big effort feels easier that using the smaller muscles). All the theory makes sense but, as I found out, it is easier to imagine doing it than actually putting it into practice. Todays run did feel easier, but I was very concious of trying to use certain muscles which made me feel particularly clumsy. I had an impromptu stop whilst I waited for a train to pass at the level crossing (approx 4 mins) but still managed to complete 10k in almost exactly 1 hour… meaning that I actually did it in about 56mins. Which is very near my best time for that distance. So I think there probably is something to be said for the whole Chi Running idea considering that I have not run a 10k dstance for about 3 weeks. I was expecting some Zen-like Calm when I finished so was disappointed to find that I was as knackered as always. Which doesn’t bode well for the Royal Parks Half in 3 weeks as I can’t remember the last time I ran anything like 13.1 miles. C’est la vie!

And on that bombshell… I shall leave you with some picture from a Fuertaventuran run…

A Surreal Start



Soundtrack to this post – On To The Next One – Jay Z




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