Archive for the 'Running' Category

30
Mar
14

jack of two trades

Longer evenings and a more temperate climate of late has meant that I could ramp up the training a little bit. The purchase of a new bike a few months back has also made me split my time between running and cycling.

Which means it would be sensible to split my planned events throughout the year into a combination of separate cycling and running events… So I have.

Last year, a cyclist friend and I found out too late about the Ellis 50 Miler so decided to schedule a long ride on the same day and aim to get to the Ellis 50 finish line as the main chunk of the field should begin to finish. Embarrassingly, a few bystanders mistook us for entrants and “clapped us home” as we were cycling towards the finish to cheer the real competitors home. There will be no such mistake this year as we got our entries in early and we can hopefully accept the spectators applause without guilt.

There is also the Dunwich Dynamo – one of my most favourite events – and Hauling My Carcass and I will once again tackle this overnight monster of a ride. Unusually, this year will be the first that either of us has had the luxury of a geared bike as all previous attempts have been on our single speeds. It will be interesting to see how the addition of gears alters the experience.

Running wise, I was disappointed to see that this year, my home race, the Hertford 10k isn’t being run. I love this race and was sniffing around for something else to do. My boss suggested that the next best thing to a home town race is a race local to your place of work so I have signed up for the Ealing Half Marathon at the end of September. I am hoping that the combination of a summer of running coupled with my cycling training will mean that I will get super skinny and super fast in time for this…?!?!

There is also the annual ridiculous European Adventure that HMC & I do every year. Regular readers will know that last year was a cycle trip to the Maas Half Marathon – this year is a little less ambitious although I suspect just as much fun as HMC, his wife and I head to Jersey to run a 5k on the Friday, a 10k Saturday and a Half Marathon on Sunday before flying home Sunday night.

And if that lot doesn’t get me motivated, I don’t know what will! It’s nice coming out of Winter and into Spring with a bunch of different events to aim for. To get me started, HMC have planned a 75km cycling jaunt across the South Downs next week which I am very much looking forward to. So it’s all go once again – exciting and a little daunting: just how I like it.

 

02
Feb
14

time out

No run for me last weekend. Low-level chest infection coupled with horrible, pouring rain meant that I had time to do a little research about a potential new bicycle purchase. The internet was trawled, bicycle retail establishments visited, hands were wrung. More of this later…

So yesterday, Saturday, I went out for 12km and found it hard going. It was slow and the lungs struggled for the first 5k – to be honest it felt more like a month that I had missed rather than 10 days without a run. However, I returned home, showered and then felt right as rain in no time. Ready for the afternoon..

An afternoon in which I was to collect my new bike!

I had been toying with the idea of a new bicycle for a while and that usually is quite a long process. It goes something along the lines of… research, read reviews, re-evaluate how much I want to spend, ask around, research some more, find something that catches your eye, ignore all previous research and buy on gut feeling. I ended up buying a second hand Boardman CX Team cyclocross bike off of ebay which came strongly recommended by a friend of mine who knows about these things. I collected it on Saturday afternoon and was itching to get out on it to see how it rode.

Sunday morning was almost perfect as long as I stayed out of the headwind and the bike does not disappoint. Silky smooth on the road, even on knobbly cyclocross tyres, and real fun to ride. I am used to using the singlespeed and was concerned that the noise of the derailleur would bother me but it is almost silent and is so much fun to ride that I extended my “quick trial” to just shy of 30 miles of grin inducing pedalling.

So, I know that me banging on about cycling is a little off topic but I suppose the tenuous link to running is that it should hopefully improve my cadence and my stamina and I’ll lose some weight and I’ll become faster. Or not. Who cares?

18
Jan
14

a sentimental story

Winter evenings mean that I will often forego my usual canal towpath route in favour of more well-lit paths. A few times, 11 year old SonNumberOne has asked to run with me. Because I will generally run about 10-12km in the evening, I have politely declined but suggested that he cycle with me whilst I run. This is great for both of us as he enjoys going out on his bike in the dark and I have someone to talk to whilst pounding the streets.

A few weeks back, SonNumberOne once again asked if he could come out and run with me. As it was relatively early, I agreed and we settled on a looping course that meant we had a number of opportunities to cut the run short if he began to get too tired. He has run a couple of 2k kids races and we have attempted 4kms (at his request), but these were stopping and starting runs and I could see that he was struggling.

Tonight however, he was adamant that he wanted to run 10kms – I said that we could try but that at any point, we could cut the run short if he was getting tired. We set off and I fully believed we’d get to 5km and he would say he’d had enough. We chatted through the first couple of kilometres and I gave him the choice of stopping at 2kms or carrying on – if we carried on, we would not be able to stop again until 5km. He chose to push on and we set off up a long unlit hill with just our torches to guide us. Again at the top, we could have cut the run short but he was determined to continue. He began to slow but was  desperate not to stop and walk so we carried on. As we got towards another fork in the route where we could have taken one of 2 routes, I again gave him the choice which way to go. This time he chose to finish the run so we turned right and headed home. We covered 9kms and he ran all the way. Not bad for an 11 year old who hasn’t run any sort of substantial distance for about 4 months! I really enjoyed having him run with me and he has asked if we can do it again.

And, without being too saccharine, there are 2 morals to this story:

1) As unlikely as it may seem, at some point and for however briefly, you will become a role-model for your kids so try to be a good one.

2) Your kids are probably more capable of some things than you think

07
Jan
14

returning

I have had a bit of a blogging sabbatical. Not a running sabbatical you understand – no, no, no. If anything, I have been running a little more than usual. I started a new job at the end of October which not only is very enjoyable but also gives me a little more free time so I can usually squeeze in a mid-week after work run.

In addition to this, I am also able to work from some of our other offices so I am not commuting into London 5 days a week any more. At least once a week, I work from an office which is cycling distance from home so I get to enjoy a bicycle commute which usually consists of a straight-forward cycle to work but the return journey is where I really get to have some fun. For the return trip, instead of taking the road route home, I head for the bridle path which takes me the “scenic route” back to my house. It is about 2 miles longer but is infinitely more enjoyable. I leave work, jump onto the bike, turn on my high powered front light and head off into the mud and the darkness. It is exhilarating to hurtle through pitch dark with only a pool of light for about 4 metres in front of you – everything to the sides is just inky blackness. I will often arrive home with a huge muddy stripe up my front and a massive grin on my face. I now look forward to my bike commute, it is without a doubt one of the highlights of my working week.

And it is having a mostly positive effect on my running – I have been finding that my overall fitness and stamina have both improved. My 12k Sunday runs are now usually 16km+ and occasionally as much as 25km. Don’t get me wrong, anything over about 15km is still a puch but my recovery times are much improved and I do not suffer afterwards – I jump in the shower and am as good as new. The more active I am, the more active I am able to continue to be.

So, that was just a quickie to bring things up to date. Normal service will be resumed now that I have acclimatised to my new job – I just need it to rain a bit less now!

So all that remains is to wish you all a belated Happy New Year.

23
Sep
13

no internet no problem…

 

For the last 2 weeks, I have been unable to access the internet from work. Most people would immediately think that must be a bit of an inconvenience – not being able to catch up on the news at lunchtime or browse stuff on Amazon when things get quiet but it actually meant that it was almost impossible to get any work done at all. No emails. No access to online job systems means not being able to log jobs, raise Purchase Orders, close jobs down or raise invoices. I felt like I was suddenly being given work but with no means of getting it accomplished. What would normally be reasonable deadlines suddenly become very tight once you take away the luxury and speed of almost instantaneous electronic communication and the ability to send large files at the click of a mouse. The only way around it was to take to working one day at work and the next from home – ensuring that if I was at home, I could catch up on the previous days emails and jobs without too many distractions and hopefully get myself a little ahead so that the following day spent back in the technological dark ages did not inconvenience me too much.

The upside of this was the time that was normally taken up with my morning commute was instead used for a 10 – 11km run first thing. I would arrive home from my run, fire up the laptop, shower and be “at my desk” for 9am. Safe in the knowledge that the days run was complete and I was feeling focused and ready for the day . And, after almost 2 weeks of this, to go back to an hour’s commute each morning and the struggle to squeeze in a run was beginning to slowly gnaw away at me.

So on Sunday morning, I was up and out and determined to get a decent run in. It was fairly quiet out and I decided to forgo my usual route and instead head out on a route that I was using this time last year whilst training for the Berlin Marathon. An 18km mix of woodland trails and pavement that takes me out to the town I grew up in, around and back. It was the furthest that I had run in a few months and by the time I had finished I felt suitably weary but happy. So much so that I have just entered the Ware 10 Mile run which takes place in just under a month. The race is local to me and I have wanted to tackle it for a few years now but have always had to give priority to other things. This year, there was space in the diary and I am very much looking forward to it. Part of the course is very familiar to me although approximately 50% seems to be through areas that I do not know. It will be nice to discover some new routes to run whilst enjoying the fun of an organised race. I’ve the feeling I may need a few more long Sunday runs between now and then…

16
Sep
13

farewell forerunner

It is so incredibly tempting to start this post with quotes from The Parrot Sketch, as my trusty Garmin Forerunner 205 is finally giving up the ghost (it has ceased to be, it’s demised…). It has not completely died on me but instead has tantalisingly refused to allow itself to be seen by my computer meaning that none of the data from my runs can be uploaded and logged. Sooner or later, the memory on the unit will become full and I will have to delete the data if I want to continue using it. And the longer I use it, the more data I will have that cannot be uploaded.

After a few email exchanges with Garmin support (who have been very good, patiently replying to my pleas for help) we established that cleaning the contacts on the unit did not work, re-installing the drivers did not work and that the only course of action would be to return it to Garmin for them to repair / replace at a cost. At which point I have to make a decision – is it worth spending money to get something that is 4 years old repaired and risk it going wrong again? Or should I perhaps look at getting a replacement? I know I could probably find some fancy running app for my phone but that does not appeal – I want something I can strap to me when I run and not care if it gets wet / muddy / broken / lost. If I fall and break a running watch it’s not a problem – If I fall and break my phone I would be very unhappy.

And so, dear readers, I need your help and advice. I don’t really need anything too fancy: I really just use my current Forerunner 205 for pace / distance and to upload my route. I don’t need heart rate or calories burned or any of the other bells and whistles that these things normally come with. So far, after a little search around the internet, the Garmin Forerunner 10 seems to tick all the boxes – basic, sturdy unit that has all the functions I need and is currently under £100. BUT… does anyone out there have any other recommendations? I know there are other brands available – Nike, Tom Tom etc. – but I have only used Garmin before so am unsure of how any of the other brands compare… Help me in my quest for the perfect basic running watch.

02
Sep
13

over

So, that’s it then. My Summer holidays are done for another year… And that has been why there has been so little posted by me in the last month. There was a gradual psychological winding down prior to my holiday which weirdly coincided with an upturn in work related stresses and general “stuff-to-do”ness. So I got my head down and got on with it. And then went on holiday…

Which was fabulous and I managed to run every 2-3 days. We stayed on Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands so my runs had to be done first thing in the morning before the temperatures got too high. I would get out about 7.30am and run for about 45-50 mins – my route taking me out in one direction to the edge of the desert and the Corralejo Nature Park before looping back into town and down to the port. A distance of between 8 and 9 km depending on slight variations in route. But in terms of landscape I would go from holiday resort to desert, past extinct volcanoes and then back in to town and to the sea in under 10kms!

It is easy to see why runners and cyclists flock to the Canaries to train – the terrain takes in everything and the combination of steep, volcanic hills, long smooth roads and the ocean make it perfect for tri-athletes, runners and cyclists. The weather is always pleasant – rarely dipping below 20 degrees – but in August it can touch 50 degrees during the day when the breeze drops. Even getting up early and trying to get the run completed pre-8.30 am, I would still find that the temperature would sometimes be in the high 20’s by the time I returned from the run. I did see a few hardy (or foolish) souls setting off to run mid-morning although by then it was way too hot for me. The other thing I noticed is how tiring it is running in that heat. Ordinarily, I would think nothing of going out to run 10-15km but with the temperature there, I was find 9km a struggle. And I suppose that is another reason why people go there to train. Imagine running repeatedly in 25-30 degrees and then switching to a milder climate – It must seem like a pleasant stroll without the oppression of the heat. And over the weekend, I was able to test my “temperature” theory. 2 runs in the UK –  one of 10.7km and the other of 12.5km and both significantly less tiring than 8 or 9kms in the heat of the Canaries.

And for the first time in a long while, I have no planned races in my calendar. This time last year, Hauling My Carcass and I were in the final throes of training for The Berlin Marathon… perhaps it’s time to get a few races scheduled…




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