Friday, December 30, 2005

Activity logs are updated

I have just managed to update all of my training blogs for the last couple of weeks, so although no blogs there is a nod to what I've been up to ;o)

The archive is at Training archive, where I store all the training logs so far.

Simply follow Current Training Log for the current weeks activities kept at the bottom of this blog. Hopefully it'll be a busy year ahead ;o)

New year amnesty

Oops, the Christmas period meant I was too busy, or too far from a computer to blog :o) It has been quite a busy period with fits of over-eating and fits of exercise, I think I may have put on a couple of pounds during the last 10 days... that actually isn't bad going by my recent Christmas binges!!! I am relatively happy, but have lots of plans for fitness work in the new year... watch this space ;o)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Death of a playlist

All these weeks I have been cycling to work with the same six tunes on the MP3 player...

Are friends electric (live) - Gary Numan
Brown eyed girl - Van Morrison
Everything I own - Boy George
Together in electric dreams - Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder
Never be the same again - Melanie C
Lazy - X-Press 2 Feat. David Byrne

I am not sure of all the artists (or the spellings), will have to look them up. But any which way they are about to be replaced by Royksopp :o) Be nice to be late to work with a different tune ;o)


Managed to fix my three punctures last night with my little Halfords [Halfords BikeHut] puncture repair kit. I had bits of bike all over the kitchen floor, which I am sure didn't look pretty. My handy work must have been okay, as I made it to work (though I am carrying my bike pump around just in case!!!).

All systems are go!! It looks like I'll make it to the end of work term having used it all but a few odd days here and there :o) I am well chuffed!! And so are my newly toned legs. Get a bike its great!!!!!!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Lunchtime gym session - habit?

Well aren't I a good boy, I got to the gym again today in my 'lunch-hour' (have to work on cutting down the total time to nearer an hour). The session went 20mins on reclined stationery bike - random program (resistance 5), 15mins on the ergo - 25spm, aver. split 1m58.7s, distance 3811m (worked a little harder than I have been to bring down the split time a tad ;o) ), then 20mins on the cross-trainer resistance 5 forward and 9 reverse. All very good... now all I have to do is sort out my punctured bike wheel and make this new gym habit stick.

Ps. Just noticed shoulders getting stiff already, d'oh!!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Stop thinking!!!!

My 8am row in the eight was tough, but only because I couldn't stop over-thinking the stroke and relax with the blade. As with many sports I guess it is very much about muscle memory and switching off higher brain function to some greater or lesser extent. I really don't enjoy the rowing up section at the start of every row, because my technique trips up during it at the moment. I get looser and more fluid from full stroke sweet tempo rowing. What I will have to do is warm up before any rowing on an ergo, so that I am already fluid when the rowing up starts.

We are hopeful out in the four on Thursday night, probably in the tub, but still I need technique time I think... to try and find that illusive grove. It has to be said that more fitness is very much required on my part to get the stroke right consistently. All these things I will work on.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Marathon decision

I have made the decision to tailor my next years running training to complete the Cardiff marathon next autumn... the timing means that I have time to get fully prepared with work issues and commitments fully resolved. Being my home city, it will mean that I can be absolutely familiar with the route, condition and so on ;o)

Thank crunchie its friday....

After another stressful work week, all I can say is thank crunchie its Friday... no that doesn't mean that I've eaten crunchies all day (though I did have a pack of wine gums!!).

Last nights first outing as a four was eventful, I caught two horrendous crabs... I was sat cramped in bow and not enjoying it. I could not flatten my legs and had a piece of cross-bracing battering my lower back on every stroke. The enforced truncation of my stroke lead to an awful lot of problems (though you could argue mainly in my head, think I was psyched out by the flaming stumpy tub we were rowing in!!!). My timing was okay, stroke short, but hand heights and oar clearance erratic. I am certain it'll only get better from this beginning... the four with lads taking it seriously is a different balancing animal to the pub and club shenanigans [not sure about that spelling].

Today on the way to work I had a back tire puncture, and pushed the bike to work from Tal-y-bont, d'oh!!! When I got to work I was even more determined to go through with my tentative plan of going to the uni gym. And so I went... and did 20mins on the reclined bike (variable intensity, resistance 6), 15mins on the ergo (covered 3582m, aver 2m06/500m, aver 24 strokes/min), then to finish 20mins on the cross-trainer (5min forward, then 5 reverse, resistance 5). All felt very good, legs are good and strong... ergo technique was a bit erratic, hehehehe!!

Will update training log later, honest ;o)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Signs of life...

It seems the Christmas run up is not being kind to my blogging habit... just can't find the moments to keep regularly... I have been riding to work as normal and enjoying weekend rowing. I hope that the Christmas break will offer the opportunity to straighten out my running... i.e. go for some ;o)

My biggest worried is the festive food quantities... looking at my weight progress it is clear that Christmas is a problem time. Really have to watch the portions!!!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Signs of progress

I should be out in a fine shell (racing spec) boat this week, thursday night. Should be illuminating, hope the sculling has done me a favour balance wise?!?!? We'll see... :o)

Thigh ache

This mornings eight was good, a bit unbalanced but good non the less... it completely shut out the stresses of a busy, topsy turvy week. As my technique adjusts to more like the correct stroke my legs are taking more and more of a bashing, the backs of my legs were in big time hurt at the end and for some reason my right leg the worst?!?!? All good and nice the exercise my troubles away ;o)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Early bird catches the boat

It seems that I am to resume my rowing adventure this weekend in the 8+ at 8!!! Still at least the rest of the day is your own... to go rowing with your girlfriend later, hehehehe!!

Been a bit of a slow exercise week, I rode to work but not home again. Work has lead to some odd timings this week, and nothing like a normal routine... I am driving for another 8-10 hours tomorrow... at least my shoulders will get a heavy workout again ;o)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Super entry... (been really busy!!)...

Today... rode to work and back via the physio. The physio is going okay though driving a car for 8 hours or more on Monday pretty much shattered all the support muscles in my shoulder!! Physio was pretty tough, I am hoping for a review soon rather than just the class, so that I know how I've done... and what problems I still have to solve.

Yesterday... first chance to ride to and from work after my bike service and puncture repair... the bike is absolutely great, I can even get into all gears now. The top ring is a bit of a struggle just now but I am sure I'll soon build up to pushing it round nice and quick ;o) Actually got home at a reasonable time, am shattered from so many early starts and long days... need several days of early nights and late rises ;o)

Monday... real busy start to the week after a crazy period in work over the preceding days and the weekend. Drove for over 8 hours to and from Bradford, work is just not a barrel of laughs at the mo. Aside from the stress of sitting in the driving position so long I did no exercise at all today :o(

Sunday... to and from work, plenty of issues and things to try and fix there... so again no real exercise. I did however manage to walk home from work with the lovely Sian and her fab new bike :o) It was good to stretch my legs!!

Saturday... up at an awful hour to get to the rowing club for 8am... I left the house carrying a toasted peanut butter sandwich (really must recommend that to a fast food outlet, for a developers fee of course!!) and a mug of tea (in a great thermal camping mug do da). The river was very high, though the landing stage could just be seen. We ended up doing ergos (rowing machine work) and then a session in the tank... more technique work. After the session we had a good chat with the coaches who are looking apparently to put together a four and eight from our squad for the summer regatta season. Will keep ya'll posted on that one :o)

Walked to collect my bike (and Sian's spanking new one) from the local bike shop, they / he did a great job... though some how all the damage from my big crash and mini crash looked much more obvious when I got it back... must have been the perspective of having not seen or ridden it for a few days. Ho hum, if I ride it all winter I promised myself a new one for the summer :o)

Friday, December 02, 2005

Marathon news

I did not put in to enter the London as I will be getting married at that time of year (marriage on April 8th :o) :o) :o) ). So the plan regarding a marathon attempt is to find a run at the end of next summer, or even to enter Cardiff next autumn. That gives me a realistic time to get fully race fit, and enough time to prepare long and slow, thereby avoiding injury and over training I hope ;o) Will pick during the Christmas break and publish my plan ASAP :-)

Gotta stop the train bashing ;o)

I have decided that although taking the train has flaws, I should not bash what is in principle a good idea... mass transit is a very good idea. A queue of 1-200 cars sat going no where fast 200 yards from your front door is a very very real issue... each car containing 1 occupant (do car drivers not have friends?!?). From an environment stand point the train is far far far better than herds of automobiles, so despite the fact that my local train company is poorly organised and its trains frequently unreliable, I endorse the train as a form of transport.

Of course on foot or bicycle are preferable but trains will do when circumstances force a switch.... please note I still say this after standing in the rain waiting 20mins for late trains both last night (at 10 to midnight) and this morning ;o)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The couch escape...

Maybe its because its late and I'm stuck in work, but I've gotten to feeling reflective... as my blog description suggests the path to change was started with a skiing trip, it started long before that in a slow creeping way. I had during my PhD gotten into the habit of comfort eating, and a stressful PhD meant I needed a lot of comfort. I was not in a healthy relationship and so still felt the need to get comfort where I could, Twix bars, can after can of coke, pack after pack of crisps. The need for change was sneaking up on me all this time... I was getting slower, I felt tired more of the time, I looked huge in family photos, a rounder redder duller looking version of my teenage self.

Skiing came at the right time, it forced me to face limitations head on, during the time at altitude I did a lot of soul searching, even in the presence of a partner who didn't understand me anymore. I played the same song over and over on my Walkman, found alone places to be, aided by the fact that I couldn't ski from feeling so rough (although it turned out I may have had altitude sickness as well as unfitness).

I came home to the U.K. determined to make a change and sought out quick fixes, they were tough calorie starving diets that induced some yo-yo tendency, but in the main rapidly left me feeling lighter and brighter. It was enough to get me interested in true exercise and I soon found myself playing five aside football with work. I was and am rubbish at football, but running around frantically for an hour a week was again enough to begin to leave the couch behind. Sadly, the divergence of a relationship continued a pace without either admitting or noticing... I needed to do more and felt deprived of the support to do it. Despite the pull back to the couch things continued to improve little by little.

Holidays would put a dent in progress sure, but I began to get used to the rhythms of my own body. It is no use weighing yourself everyday, the natural fluctuations drive you to despair, until you see them for what they are. I started weighing myself on Sunday mornings, a pretty settled phase of the week, where genuine trends could be spotted.

Eventually I was single read a lot of self help books [I can heartily recommend Anthony Robbins books as a starting place for anyone on a personal journey of rediscovery]. When I found my own place I found the gym (after finding it briefly sometime before) in a big way, though all I ever did was the stationery bike, the cross-trainer (ski machine thing), the rowing machine and very rarely a few light (high rep) bench presses. I would go for an hour three or four times a week. The couch was almost forgotten, though I was dividing my time happily between couch and gym - such was my single existence for a time.

Then there came the run - Andy was on the run - I made a new years promise to my dad to do a half marathon with him. I bunch of research on the Internet later (in the quest for a training plan), and I was now a park regular... enjoying all that there is to enjoy of being outdoors (sorry, gym, but outdoors is best :o) ). Later came the first 10k and the first half marathon. I am still to keep my promise (latterly to myself) and run a full marathon... and hence my blog (thank you Sian for introducing me to blogging)... I will run one in the near'ish future, because now I am fully on the move.... "screw you couch, I don't need you any more!!!".

The fun bit is that being on the run / move, can encompass so much good good stuff. Rowing, cycling, running, walking, squash, footy, anything can be in reach now I am off the couch. Come on get off of yours, there's a world out there to interact and live within :o)

Slow start to the day...

...argghh!! My puncture lead me to have to take the train this morning, the great transport solution of the future, the commuters passport to flexible travel, the mass transit option held upon high,... or perhaps simply a giant sardine can on wheels!!

Its a shambles, first train to full - I watched the train pull away with a slightly scared looking bloke pressed against one of the doors (no doubt hoping the doors design had his body weight factored into its specification!!), the second train had room among the crowd of utterly depressed looking people. Got to work suitably depressed, felt it was only right to try and fit in ;o)

I really need to find a resource that will inform me about all things bicycle repair... feel a google search coming on :o) Sian had a day off and agreed to take my bike down to a local repair shop... seems she was looking forward to the chance to see what bikes they had, and sure enough has near enough bought a nice new one :o) I should get mine back on Saturday - that long because it is also being serviced... I have spent the last month at least without the top ring set... still it did mean my legs were whirling round like the clappers to go anywhere... had to be burning more calories that way ;o)

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Physio progress :o)

Aside from my bike problem skewing my mood, my physio session this morning was actually very good. It seems that my shoulder is getting there, it is much stronger than it was after my cycle crash. I am getting more flexibility along with the strength, I can't move weights as smoothly as I can with my left arm, but old righty is catching up. I noticed that the physio took me a bit more seriously today... I think because I unleash my legs by wearing shorts, revealing that I might actually be reasonably fit (I think the cycling has toned my legs, and the physio previously had me pegged as just a lazy bloke getting his arm working again)... of course been taken more seriously meant more weights, more strength exercises and more exercise stations. Bit of a tough session, but all good and very, very necessary :o)

Push bike - far too literally!!!

On the way home after a busy day, which included an early start for physio, I had a flat, a puncture, a blow-out,... a flaming long walk home!!! I ended up pushing my bike just over half way home. I had a puncture kit, but it was far too dark, and also cleverly had no bike pump :o(

Still on the up side, pushing a push bike all that way had to be good exercise, the ache in my shoulders is paying testament to that!!!

Also on the way I had to stop into the supermarket for breakfast... in the Christmas queues (yes, there are 5 deep queues of Christmas preparing nut cases in the supermarket) I saw the family in front of me spend 260GBP on one shop... 10 decorative cards, 9 frozen foods, 8 chocolate assortment packs, 7 bathroom products, 6 loaves of bread, 5 golden wonder crisps, 4 sides of beef, 3 french sticks, 2 turtle waxes and a lemon toilet duck fresher in a shiny silver box [don't know if that lot quite works to the tune, hehe!!]. Why does everyone go so mental at Christmas? There is no need for all those calories, you can eat a special meal with all the flavour of Christmas with the same calories as the rest of the year!?!?! Utter madness ;o) [rant over, haha]

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Two rowing sessions back to back

What was to be an hours outing in the double with Sian turned out to be a bit more... at first we were told we only had the boat for half an hour because we had made a booking cock-up. Then while sculling we saw the two who wanted the double in a quad cruising past, they shouted that we could keep the boat - so we did. After a good hour, we left the water after a good confidence building hour that included some sweet patches.

While we were taking the oars out Mary one of the cox / coaches (who has been taking us out in the 8 on Saturdays) came over and asked if either of us wanted to 'sit in' on an 8, as they were one down. Sian had been out for 2 hours or more, so I volunteered. It meant that I spent the next hour in an 8 with 7 women, and cleaver blades!!! I was fearful on both fronts, one - ruining their row (through my ropey novice'ness), and two - I have not used cleavers and was afraid that my technique would not accommodate them and lead to a torrid experience. Happily it was a fantastic hour of a session, not without technical shortcomings, but we got to put some pressure in, which was a welcome change from so much technical mind cramping sessions.

I think my first double session on the water as a novice rower was really really good, confidence restored... yet to be seen how my body handles all the exertion ;o)

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Officially a rower ;o)

I had the pleasure today of finding out that Llandaff rowing club have agreed to have me as a member. They have a committee that reviews all applications to join, I have no idea how exactly that works (except that two members had to nominate me and that my application sat on a notice board for a fixed period), but was happy that I had the news and that I can use the fab facilities now with confidence (belonging).

It is a sad misconception that rowing is an 'elitist' sport, it very definitely isn't. It is not about money or even prestige, its more about commitment to the sport, if your clear what you want from it no one gets in your way. Do it for fitness, do it for fun, do it for competition, its all there for anyone. Its as cheap or as expensive as you make it. Much like any other sporting pastime, for example you can run any old comfortable sweat kit, or in posh expensive sweat wicking fabric, aside from the difference in price you can run equally well in either. For the want of an original phrase, its like any sport you just have to do it.... go on "just do it"!!! ;o)

Saturday 8 rowing report

Well the now weekly row in the 8 was pretty good, mighty cold on the river but pretty good. I have discovered that I have to stop the cox's comments throwing me off of whatever rhythm I have gotten into, I have to listen but not let it rush me or induce a mistake. I have to stay as relaxed as possible, especially in the hands to row well. I am not sure that my fitness is quite up to the task proper yet, especially as the guy I have been most often paired with is a former decathlete!! Will have to take some drastic action ;o) Really got to make my training a priority, itching to run but not having the time with work and such. Will need to consider running in my lunch hour, which I generally don't make the proper use of (usually work through, snacking and getting on with work).

Still I am really enjoying the rowing and am looking forward to sculling with Sian tomorrow :o)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Park life

Its not really about all those joggers who go round and round, the park is really a fantastic space that is all things to all users. Every weekday morning I use it to get to and from work, and while I do I see, hear and even feel (mainly that is the feeling of the wind and temperature before you think I've gotten overly poetic) many and ranging things.

I have seen people walking their dogs and making friends with other dog walkers, chatting whilst their dogs run around each other and sniff at each others butts. I have seen overweight girls mocking an overweight jogger doing her thing up ahead of them, blissfully unaware that the joke is in many respects on them. The park shows the best and often the worst of human interaction, as well as the best and worst of nature (that's weather - the commuters obsession). I really truly enjoy my time travelling through this peaceful yet very dynamic space that is the park.

Super duper bike courier

I managed to get to work through the snow this morning only to discover that I had forgotten my memory stick with an important presentation on, d'oh!!! I was rescued by the lovely Sian on her bike, it was rapid and efficient service that meant the problem was solved in a flash. Thank you Sian, and for your troubles I sneaked a piccie of you on your bike at the same time ;o)

Snowy park scene :o)

Not quite lost in the snow....

...still found my way to the wide white fields of the snow covered park :o)

S'no'w problem

It snowed last night, yippee... though not enough to drift into huge piles that might keep me at home working rather than heading to work. It was brilliant the park looked amazing, the sports pitches looked like virgin sheets of white A4 paper, the air was crisp and still, and I did stop several times to take a couple of piccies on my camera phone that might appear here when I get the chance to transfer them. Ran pretty late, all songs had finished on my MP3, and I was a long way into a podcast as I was parking my bike :o)

I set off pretty nervous about riding in snow, but it wasn't a problem once I got away from the roads. It looked like the cars may have compacted and iced the roads under their heavy tires, which made me grip the handlebars a bit over tightly!! I don't want to jinx myself but I think I can see the winter through on my bike commuting... unless those dreamed off huge drifts appear ;o)

Seems like its catching on...

It seems very much like rowing is catching on, according to an article e-mailed to me by Sian, Sir Steve Redgrave is involved in launching a reality TV show based on recruiting and training a bunch of guys from Liverpool to get them ready to race at Henley... see for yourself at [note: I included the address as the link in case the article changes address, you can play sleuth and track it down if it does ;o) ].

That would be one bit of reality TV I'd look forward to seeing, I'd promised myself not to watch other shows like Big Brother [don't get me started on that rubbish, hehe] a couple of years ago ;o)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Winter wear break-through ;o)

Prompted by Sian's cheeky comment here is an entry on my little discovery regarding what to wear on my legs in winter for cycling.... I found the warmest combination for my daily commute to be (and this isn't rocket science), a pair of skin tight running leggings with a loose cotton lined pair of jogging bottoms (sweat pants, or whatever the correct phrase is) over the top. These layers work a treat and meant that I couldn't feel my legs cramping with the cold whilst powering along.

Might try this same combo for rowing and running on very cold days... and as Britain is forecast a very cold winter, it could see a lot of use ;o)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Physio fun!!

Well my first activity of a very busy working week was my weekly appointment with the physiotherapist and shoulder rehab class. Its getting easier and my shoulder is stronger and stronger, thank goodness.

Seems I am rowing in the 8 again on Saturday morning, will try and do better than last week, and relax this time. I think I will get something of a lie in bed on Saturday morning, if not before, yippee!!!! :o)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Daily distance bonus!!! :o)

2.5 miles to work, and then 2.4 to get home. 4.9 miles in total (7.8 km), determined using AccuRoute v2.5.1. Pretty good daily distance it turns out, I was quite surprised, that means that I do roughly 24.5 miles a week. Pretty cool, all that exercise just getting to and from work :o)

Fantastic ride to work

Riding to work on a frosty morning is not only a hassle (extra clothes, wariness of ice), but a fantastic start to the day. Riding through a park clothed in a low light mist and a layer of crisp white frost, was a calming and beautiful ride (wished I'd had a camera and the skill to capture the scene). I definitely rode slower this morning to enjoy it, I was a whole extra song into my MP3 player before I reached the doors of work ;o)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Training logging

Given that I am somewhat erratic with training [just ask Sian - I am yet to try out a new pair of Brooks Beast trainers in anger], so I took a leaf from Sian's book (well her blog actually) and pinched the clever training table that she has on her blog. Sian is a computer / blogging genius, "Thank you Sian" ;o)

You can see my version at the bottom of my main blog page [have a look This weeks log]. I have also popped a link on the blog navigation list on the right of this page, and will put an archive page together at some time soon to store old tables as the weeks go by :o)

Sunday afternoon scull :o)

After the morning frustrations we went sculling at 3.30, did a couple of "trips" up and down the river. First one was rubbish!!!.... because yesterdays session left me rowing like a robot!! The second trip after chatting it through with my doubles partner, the lovely Sian, was far better, and was even "smooth running" at one point :o)

It seems as technical as the sport is rhythm is critical. I enjoy far more the "freedom" of small boat rowing as it seems more forgiving, perhaps easier to relax in. Relaxed rowing is at the moment what I am after, it is a great way of forgetting the world and "zoning out"... the reason after all that I got so absorbed in running and so much more into training / exercising than I ever used to.

The value of sports to me are the feelings of satisfaction, movement, lightness and freedom... that natural rush generated by exercise hormones :o)

Who pinched my oars?...

Bit frustrating this morning, turned up to go sculling and found only one of the two sets of oars needed for our session. Then while I was waiting for Sian to finish rowing two juniors took the boat we had booked, d'oh!! Not only that, the two lads managed to bounce (almost literally) the boat out of the shed, smacking the bow heavily on the steel racking. Needless to say we didn't get to scull in the crisp calm weather this morning. I had stretched, and jogged to the club in anticipation... seems that I couldn't hide my disappointment from Sian... sorry!!

Will now definitely need a training plan so that my energy is used and not lost by the messing around on shore. I need to get some runs planned... I definitely know where my trainers are, and can be relatively certain they won't get pinched ;o)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Boatmen in Need

Last night on BBC1 Children in Need I saw James Cracknell and Ben Fogel explaining that they were going to row across the Atlantic. Quite an amazing challenge, I think they are doing it for charity, the web page doesn't currently carry much information... it is simply a launch site... will keep tabs with interest (there is a register for update link) and see how they get on. I'd love to read / hear about their training.

Web counter source ;o)

In the tradition (albeit often crtitised) I saw an idea on another blog and pinched it. The Ultimate Olympian had it on his site, then my girlfriend noticed it and pinched the cool map counter (that is a feature of the service and included on tagged pages) and put it on her blog Taff rower.

The counter is from ClustrMaps and so far I can recommend it. See the very bottom of my homepage to observe my map and count progress ;o)

Saturday morning training

Out on the river at 10 this morning, it was totally a technical session... I did okay remembering that I swapped sides of the boat (bow- to stroke-side). We were on the water for an hour and did three trips up and down the river.

I was a little frustrated that I couldn't manage to follow the stroke man consistently, I need to work on my leg and back control... yet more stretching and I need to get in some rowing machine (ergo) sessions.

Cycling to work has helped leg tone and to some extent strength no end, but I need the flexibility to operate the oar/s more successfully. Flexibility that is useful all around, I have decided to stretch out two or three times a day, and integrating some shoulder stretches that I have been over-looking somewhat for my healing shoulder injury.

Frozen issues

Rode to work on Friday morning, and suffered frozen problems. Firstly my seat was covered in ice, I didn't know what to do, though I discovered that because the seat is 'bendy' and flexible bashing it on the top Karate style cracked the ice neatly allowing it to be brushed off. Slow start but result ;o) Next the ride to work...

Aside from squeakier brakes than normal, and a beautiful blanket of frost over the scenery along the way, my gloves weren't up to the job. This is odd, seeing as they are skiing gloves and should be suited to keeping my figures out of harms way.... got to work with numb digits!!!

Wondering whether to revise my ten tips for commuting on a bike to include a cold weather contingency section ;o)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Notification to row ;o)

I have had the now weekly e-mail, containing the plans for river (or non river) activities for the weekend ahead... I am out in the 8+ again!! Yippee!! It was tough but fun last time out, so bring it on!! That said I am a bit scared that I might get my technique picked over again!! Such is learning I suppose.

With the weather looking drier, I hope to get out in the 8 and the double over the weekend... has to be said loving the shoulder rehab that is rowing ;o)

I will endeavour to use a few more smileys after the comment received on the last blog entry :o) from Annie ;o) Sorry I couldn't locate your blog to return the viewing and commenting favor :o( Still great to get feedback :o) Of course there is the chance you can over use something too ;o) [note: author has daft sense of humour]

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sculling is go!!!

Went sculling today for an hour with Sian in the double, adjusted feet a little too much so my balance was off at the start. Soon adjusted to the new feel, though I am still rushing my slide. Sian said she put more pressure through her strokes from feeling more comfortable so that was nice to know. Lower back still a little sore from yesterday, so I will have to do some more stretching and stuff.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Cracking blogging - I recommend a look!!

In one of my many task avoids and browsing adventures while getting into this whole blogging thing I found the following blog... The Ultimate Olympian... It is a fantastic concept, well put together and wittily written. A very engaging / inspiring read I definitely recommend a look. And his efforts are all in the aid of charity... follow the link!!!

Spot the difference...

Not that I was task avoiding, or even killing time, but I spent 40mins looking through the template code to make a couple of subtle changes to the colouring of the blog layout. See if you can spot the difference... some extra content to come ;o)

Training entry - at last!!

Well today the river Taff was too high for any real rowing fun, but we instead got to play on land. 20-30mins in the tank room, playing with stationary water, going through the warm-up... arms only square blading, body rock, quarter slide, half slide, three quarter slide, feather blading, full stroke.

We then did 10 mins in the ergo room, again going through the warm-up sets, and then maintaining 20 strokes/min with full slide. All the rowing went well, then we did some stretches with a guy whose name I didn't catch... some of them really pulled and left me feeling it more than the previous efforts. Something I have to work on there I think!!! The focus on core strength and stability should see me well for general fitness and more importantly shoulder stability (after the bike crash injury I suffered this summer).

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Keep on moving - rowing evidence

Aside from the pub and club [see blogger links on the right side of the screen], I have taken up rowing and to prove it here is some evidence...
... it was like rowing with cricket bats, they are made of wood!

I did enjoy the fighter plane style colour scheme though. I pottered about the lower part of the river and left Sian on the bank having kittens. Since this, she has had me in a racing shell double scull... after wooden oars it was bliss!!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Mechanics of commuting

There are a couple of very handy things to have when you are commuting to work on a bicycle every day... is a locker to hang all your spare clothes in ( I am lucky that I have a long locker to fit shoes at the bottom without getting hung up stuff dirty)...
...the second thing you need is a "Bumerang" - or in non-Ikea speak a coat hanger!!! (In the case of the natty one I bought, one that is short and clips trousers neatly)...

On the left work place base camp, on the right the mighty Bumerang (I am sure Ikea people just sit around pondering "what would sound really stupid translated to English?" when the name their products!!!).

Sunday, November 06, 2005


Well, I don't know what kind of Winter we are in for, but it seems I will be the most aware perhaps I have ever been of the weather in my location. Particularly the rainfall, on and up the Taff. Today showed just how quickly the river can change... no there were no more strange goings on at the club [see previous post!].

View from the Llandaff Rowing Club car-park this morning at 10am...
View from the Llandaff Rowing Club car-park this morning at 3pm (note the tide mark)...

Crazy bonkers - literally!!!!

Went out for fireworks, which were absolutely fantastic, weeee bang oooohh!! Walked all the way there to crown my busy active day. We then headed for a fantastic meal and experienced blinding tiramisu!!! - a little bit of anti-training there I think (loads of lovely kcal's!!!!!).

Then we got the bus home and thought it might not take us the right way, got off early in case and walked 2miles home... ouch!!

We thought oh lets go see the river, figure out the chances for Sunday rowing... wandered down the hill bit tipsy, giggling about the river when, "Oh dear, what's that noise?" - I thought some bar pump thingy was about to go pop behind the clubhouse...

...until wait its a very rhythmic sound... rattle, rattle, rattle... "It's the shutter to the ergo room??".... pause, rattle, rattle, rattle, rattle, faster and faster.... "Hang on it's someone having a frantic shag against the shutter, couldn't be!?!?!"..... and yes we think it was a little bit of Llandaff lovin' up against the ergo room shuttered door... what a damned romantic couple they must be... oh or drunken I guess!!! Each to there own?!?!?!? hahahahaha

Saturday, November 05, 2005

On the legs, II... this time its ergo'nal !!!

Okay, so that is something of a busy rowing day!! Today I rowed in the eight for an hour and a half (technical stuff), then an hour in the double with Sian (nice and easy, interrupted by technical issue half way through), and finally 30 minutes on the ergo in the upstairs gym...

Ergo breakdown... 30mins, 6797m, aver 25 s/m, 2m 12s per 500m. All the way through trying to use good technique, though that turned out to be a bit patchy!!

Really, really am going to have to come up with a plan for all this activity ;o) Off to the Cardiff City Council fireworks tonight... walking into town... oh, my poor, poor legs, heheheheh!!!!

On the legs!!

Had first ever session in an eight (six blokes and two ladies, the two ladies and two of us were all 'new' novices; plus Mary the 'uber' coach)... it went very well... it nervy at the start and it seems that I was not using my legs properly... having rectified that I now know how I should because they hurt like hell now!!!

Seems Mary and Helen may have 'plans' for the four of us that were together... we will see, I am not really bothered either way... will just give it a go.

I will have to organise my training properly, want to get to the gym a couple of times a week, and fit in a couple of real good runs!!... might take a little juggling... will have to put my thinking cap on?!?!?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Top ten cycling to work tips...

1) Keep your bike in good working order.
2) Adjust your bike to suit your body, uncomfortable high or even low seat heights, for example, can be a killer.
3) Spend a good amount of brain power on calculating the best / safest route.
4) Ensure you wear reflective clothing.
5) Make sure your lights work / are charged. Note you are not allowed by law to afix a flashing light to your bike, but can wear one apon your bag / clothing.
6) Plan your working week so that you have a change of work clothes in work that you can used through the week (I tend to have trousers and shoes in my locker and take a change of shirt every couple of days in my rucksack).
7) Kit your office / locker with a coat-hanger... ikea do a good range (I know I bought one).
8) Invest in an odometer, it gives you speed and distance, etc. Makes journeys much more fun, you can always try to beat your time home... weirdly I never try it on the way to work!?!?!
9) Be careful where you lock your bike up, choose somewhere well lit, busy, etc. Removing anything that you think might get pinched... though you never can tell what someone might want!?!?!
10) Take account of weather conditions in how you ride, especially slopes, and sharp bends... I might post the evidence of what happens if you don't... found this one out the hard way.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

This is why I use my bike !!!!!

The picture shows the reason that I now very much prefer to ride my bike to work... a windy, cold, wet, dull train platform, waiting for 25 minutes for a train that I have no idea whether was late or on time. It is a crazy system that has no hope of attracting clients, when the train appeared it was crammed full of wet sweaty people looking utterly pissed off!! I would have taken a picture of them but they won't have liked it, plus I could hardly get my hand above my waist... we were playing extreme sardines!!!

You never get any of this nonsense on a bike, and near enough everyone I see on my way to work (even on a wet day) look happy, or at least not mightily pissed off with life. Peddle on!!!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

To the bar end...

I have installed bar ends on my bike, which along with adjustment have made the 5mile round trip to and from work a pleasure :o) Whilst I didn't shop for the cheapest or smartest bar ends (I bought them from Bikehut (Halfords) for 25GBP), they are simply great. The difference in stability, and hand comfort was fab... I am now happy that I should be able to commute through the winter, especially if I can sort out my derailleur to run a little more smoothly... long live the bike the car is dead ;o)

Never believe the scales

Well despite the training (running) that I have or haven't been doing, people have been consistently been telling me that I have been losing weight. My scales tell me that I am the same weight as I have been for months.

I can only infer that I have toned up, not losing anything, but reshaping whats there... so never believe the scales, a bit of toning goes a long way ;o)

[I have been reliably informed by an expert in the field of engineering that I should amend the description of my apparent slimness whilst still heavy to..... I am getting DENSER... heheheh!!! Thank you Sian :o) ].

Monday, October 31, 2005


Well, I had a pretty poor weekend of exercise... very, very good everything else (captains dinner at Llandaff rowing club, an obvious highlight).

Did a little bike maintenance, basically cleaned it a bit (still gotta finish the job around the gears), adjusted the saddle and put on Sian's light fitting (rechargeable unit - nice and bright (safer) front light).

The one bit of 'exercise' involved 20mins in the tank rowing and 20mins on an ergo - rowing machine.

It seemed that I did not disgrace myself on the ergo as it seems I may be invited to row in an eight this weekend coming!! Mary the 'uber' novice coach suggested that some of our techniques weren't as bad as she had suspected and that she would be happy to include some of us in an eights session. I am both pleased and worried at the same time... pleased that someone else likes my rowing (I have had very good feedback already - thank you Sian ;o) ), but at the same time a little worried at the increased expectation. I will endeavour to relax and enjoy it!!

The worst part of the weekend was no run :o( again, bad Andrew, but I did take the dog for a good hour long walk on Saturday. Though worse still I didn't have the chance to row all weekend, and more especially didn't get out in the double with Sian... which I absolutely loved doing the weekend before.

Another week, another time zone... clocks changing has lead to a couple of good sleep nights but will lead to rides home in the pitch black, d'oh!!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Biking blitz

Ah, the bike, the simple elegant alternative to standing on a train platform for an hour on a Monday morning waiting for a hot, sweaty, crowded train... this morning reminded me why it is that the bicycle is the most flexible and straight-forward to get me to work in a good mood, and with all of the other benefits (cost, time, exercise).

I am going to try and ride throughout the winter, an incentive being a spanking new bike as a treat for my birthday if I manage this feat... albeit the worst of the weather may be yet to come in February!! hahaha

Filled out my rowing club application form last night, will cost a couple of hundred quid, but like the bike it is a massive investment in my future fitness :o) More about rowing to come I'm sure... hoping to run tomorrow, or Wednesday for sure!!

Sunday, October 23, 2005


I am beginning to contemplate the name of my blog... I might have to call it simply a training blog, as I can see my exercise time dividing between running and rowing. I had a very good session on the water today in the double scull with Sian (my lovely fiancee), I really, really enjoyed it and was taken by the smooth feel of a relaxed row. It felt quite like a zoned out run, there were times when my far from perfect technique felt grooved and sweet. I'd like to build on that through the coming weeks.

I will not stop setting running targets, and trying to better myself in that area. I guess what I am now centred on is simply developing my enjoyment of fitness as far as I can. Probably the original driver for change in the first place :o)

All is good, and I am going to try to develop a routine / plan that will fit into my working / resting week nicely and propel me forward with all my targets and goals.... watch this space (and maybe the blog title, hehehe!!).

Tooled up!!

Aside from the new map measuring program [for the URL see last post] I have also gotten my little mitts on an mp3 player for training / cycling to work... I am not sure of the make otherwise I would share the info (it is 128MB). I reckon I can get 1hr 20mins of music, or 6+ hrs of podcasts... I am not sure which will be more useful in the long run. I may well hold a list of music on the computer and a bunch of podcasts and load up different batches for different purposes. Will work out my motivational music set list and let you know what ends up on it. iTunes [apple] will no doubt be the base station for building the lists, it has a 'new' podcast functionality.

Found a pic of the player on the web...

Have to get myself tooled up because the Abersytwyth run entry forms arrived at my in box, I didn't put my entry in for London due to marriage plans coinciding - despite the chances being slim of getting in Murphy's Law suggests it would be the one time I would get in because of the clash... Decided not to play chicken with the Law ;o)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Return to trainer - route planning software found

After my brief flirtation with the sport of rowing, and hrm, sculling I have to start running again... if only to break in the new trainers that took ages to arrive [still rowing, but have devised cunning training plan, more later].

The big news with running is the arrival of a computer package that will calculate run distances from map image files (as long as you know the scale of the map), it looks absolutely fabulous. Sian found it and has bought it, you get five maps free on download.... oops, the name of the new package is..... AccuRoute V2 - from
Highly recommend it!!

The training plan for the winter is simply this.... rowing (sculling) twice a week, and running twice a week - long run and double sculling on the weekend, shorter run and single sculling in the week. Aside from the 'training' I will endeavour to cycle to work all through the winter... I would 'do' gym work but I am still 'under' the physio and will wait and see (they have recommended that I go to a shoulder class every wednesday morning, maybe starting this week.

Will let you know how I get on of course ;o)

Monday, October 10, 2005

On a break !!!

It seems that I have found myself on a running break, between work, rowing, and other things I haven't been running. I missed the Cardiff full and half marathon, through lack of training and my shoulder injury (from falling off my bike months ago).

There will be a new plan... and new goals to come ;o)

Monday, September 26, 2005

Swansea 10k - personal best

I did very well on a very very well organised course (and event), I completed to my own watch time in 57minutes and 2seconds... a personal best and all with not having run for 10 days. Seems my activities in other fields has had major plus points... I felt very very comfortable to 5k, it was only the last 3k that I slipped slightly behind Sian's excellent split time plan for 9 minute 'miling' all the way. The last three showed the hole in my preparation was stamina training.

All in all very pleased, and happy that perhaps I can mix up the training... although there is no escaping the need for miles ;o)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Too much cross training, oops, hehe!!

It seems that I have gone and gotten caught up in the joys of another sporting temptation... that of rowing... the four oarsmen of the apothecary are coming along very well... and it even seems that I may have an okay stroke!?!?!

I haven't been for a run since a quick 2.5 miles with Sian around 10 days ago, my first run in too long will be the Swansea 10k this coming weekend... though it seems that it may be an excuse to be in the same locale as Joe's Ice Cream parlour.

I hope that all the trips up and down the river Taff have left me pretty fit, along with riding to and from work on the bike (which is stuck in middle 6 gear at the moment and hard work to ride just now!!).

The time I am looking for is, well... anything below an hour!!!! We'll see, I'll blog the outcome don't worry ;o)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Cardiff 10K pictures

Bib and then me labouring to carry the bib over the line.... you can see I found it very hard!!

Cardiff 10k - tough experience

The Cardiff 10k this Sunday just gone was a tough one, it was very hot and humid (thunderstorms were in the air), I was tired (after a busy week), and I had a plan that I hadn't worked out thoroughly.

Around 3000 runners at a well organised event, marshaling was a bit iffy in spots (but there were plenty of them and enough that knew what was going on), the water situation was much improved on last year, I arrived relaxed [bib number 1518] and all set to go.

My plan was to set off at marathon pace and see if I could hold to it whilst a bunch of runner were pouring past me... this I managed very well and was happy. Until I realised what this meant for my overall time at 3k... if I carried on I would finish somewhere between 1hr 5min and 1hr 10min. I was unhappy at the thought of running one that slow, so opted to speed up and break the hour (as I have in every other 10k I've run). In speeding up, I think I had left myself too much to do, I'd have to run a quick 6-7k and the heat of the day wasn't helping. In the end I think I out thought myself and ended up with a time of 1hr 1min 35sec.

The setting off slow was a success, but I hadn't thought it through... it seems at the moment (until I do more training) that I am a one pace runner. Trying to change once I'd set up at one speed proved hard to judge!!

Lessons have been learnt and I am now 95% sure that I will not be doing the full marathon in Cardiff this October... I will opt to get fit more slowly and constructively. Doing another couple of 10k races and the Cardiff Half Marathon before Christmas instead. I have to many commitments to train for the marathon before Christmas and also fear I will injure myself by pushing too hard... and an injury is the last thing I want as it would ruin too many activities.

The blog continues... a pic of me at the 10k to follow and then the pursuit of marathon fitness for the spring through the Winter... a training time that has proved a problem in the past that I hope to tackle head on ;o)

Friday, September 02, 2005

Important lessons learned

Tonight I ran something approaching 9 miles [I have to check and measure the distance] in 1hr 31min 50sec, which is not far off of the marathon pace that I hope to be running. I set off for the run at roughly 7:20pm. I did most of the run with a heartrate of 154bpm, again pretty comfortable. The lessons learning are a little more important than these stats...

[1] Don't run on blisters without appropriate protective application, I finished the run with a strange soreness in the blister area. The whole area is tender and the skin is wrinkled and angry.

[2] The most important lesson... do not run alone after dark on unlit paths!! I ran a route around where I live which in large sections follows a river path, I predicted I would be through the section before dark but was wrong. In the woods / shrubs alongside the path a bunch of people were gathered drinking / smoking who knows what... when I approached a dog came running out of their location (clearly an early warning against the approach of police or anyone else), it was barking like crazy and chased me down the path for a good 50 metres. I kept running at the same pace and ignored the dog, following advice I had as a kid... I know nothing of the dog except it was large, brown, excited, and encouraged in its chase by at least one of the party in the woods. Afterwards I was shaken, my heartrate spiked and the rest of the run was a worry.

If you do anything while running, consider your choice of location and time much more than I did. I was so lucky that the dog was not more aggressive or more encouraged by the strangers in the dark.

On a lighter note I did feel very happy with how the running went (I am looking forward to the Cardiff 10k on Sunday), and am looking forward to my second session on the river tomorrow morning.

A link to what can only be rowing chaos... follow my Llandaff Rowing Club Pub and Club efforts take a trip to The Four Oarsmen of the
it us certainly a colourful blog so far ;o)

Hopefully we will be training 2 to 3 times a week, which should break up my running nicely and ensure no boredom sets in over the coming weeks of getting fitter (okay, getting fit!!).

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Yet more cross-training

No run again today, I cycled to and from work as usual, and then there was my first ever rowing session at Llandaff Rowing Club. It went well and was good fun, not really much of a physical workout but I guess that will come in future outtings. Still cross-training is good I guess ;o)

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

On yer bike

I ended up riding my planned run tonight (did a total of 18km on my bike today, with my commute to work included), it served several purposes... it turned my legs over minimising impact on my tender knees and blistered foot, it meant I could measure the distances around the route for future run planning and it didn't tire me out as much - I am shattered!!

D'oh! Lonely Cardiff 10k

The Cardiff 10k this Sunday is looking like a lonely event as my Dad just sent a text message to say that he is unexpectedly working, so can't come and run as intended.

I'll have Sian as I have no idea what my time is likely to be, I think it could be better than the Langport 10k, but never having run 2 races in a week I am in the unknown...

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Tuesday training run

Did six miles in 62 and a bit minutes. Ran with Sian, which was cool, meant that I could chat and run, keeping me to a much better and more even jogging pace ;o)

Day one of training plan went well, but then it is day one of 42 days, hehe!!

Sprint finish - Langport 10k piccie

Here is evidence of my blistering sprint finish at the Langport 10k on Sunday.
Thank you Sian ;o)

Monday, August 29, 2005

Shoes, Rowing and a lazy day off

Had a lovely lazy day today... no running, went and watched my better other half at a rowing regatta in Ross-on-Wye. I start my own attempt at rowing this Thursday evening... I am hoping it will provide a handsome distraction from miles of training. Spent a while online looking for running shoes to replace the cross-training shoes I tried out in the Langport 10k (with sore consequences)... found and ordered Brooks Beast trainers that I have previously bought from a specialist running kit shop... they are a half size smaller and purchased online, so fingers crossed that the whole thing works out!?!?

Upcoming events... might do a 10k at the end of September in Swansea with my Dad and fiancee (haven't decided)... originally thought to do a half marathon as pre-marathon prep. I am working on a training plan that should make my decision for me ultimately... watch this space ;o)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Cool running weekly total

From my CoolRunning log my weekly stats are thus...
Running: 23.8 miles
Time: 3h 55m 55s
Avg. Pace: 9:54/mile

Langport 10k - post race chill out

Post race, tried on fetching yellow race gift t-shirt thingy....

...not too bad, and no I won't post a pic of my blisters on my blog!!! Yuck!!

Langport Battle of Sedgemoor 10k

Well I ran in bib number 286 (my Dad in number 282), and I completed in a time of 58m 6secs. Very hot day, 22-23 degrees C, felt hotter in the direct sun on some stretches. Organisation was good, t-shirt at finish very nice, drinks stations in good spots (4 and 6k) - though I am not personally very good with cups on the run have to stop and drink from them, not a great deal of spectator support, though nice crowd at finish, good long finishing funnel which allowed good wind down before having t-shirt, etc. thrust at you.
All in all a very good run, I found it tough at the start carrying a drinks bottle because of a shoulder injury, the first 4k were comfortable if slightly quick, middle 4k more uncomfortable (had blisters and some knee pain), last 2k fine though clearly not enough left to lift the pace, managed a healthy sprint finish over the last 100metres.

[Note to self: ran in new trainers hence blisters, off to "Run & Become" for new marathon worthy pair (turns out pair from shop are cross-training shoes not runners). Also not eat chilli and rice night before... not good for stomach the next day!!]

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Blackpool Marathon - failure

[Sadly the website hosting the picture has since moved its archive - note added 26-08-2009]
Haha, here is a picture of me not actually really taking part in the Blackpool Marathon... I was registered to run, but was injured in training... the picture was taken of me running alongside my Dad at 20 miles to give him a drink and a quick pep talk ;o)

HSBC Cardiff 10k - Kidney Research

Entered the HSBC Cardiff 10k which was last year the KRUF Cardiff 10k (in aid of Kidney Research), yesterday online. I missed the postal deadline by a clear week, went online and found I could register through the RunnerWorld's website. Was worried about race number collecting and so on, so I mailed the organisers and got a fab same day reply from Shelley Bishop (Race Co-ordinator) - saying "pack in post once they get the info from RunnerWorld".
All fantastically straight-forward, I am loving the genius that seems to be at play in my home city ;o)

Will be my second year running doing the event after making it my first 10k ever last year [59min 35sec - official race timing].

[Note: HSBC Cardiff 10k -]

Day before first run of autumn season

It is Saturday, the day before my first "Autumn" (although its still August) run... a 10k in Langport, Somerset. I have not registered it is a case of turn up tomorrow morning with my Dad (who did register) and see if I can get to run. I have been running three times this week... just under 10k in an hour Tuesday, 5k'ish in 20 something minutes Wednesday, and 10k in an hour Thursday. [Note to self: get out tape measure and sort out the distances for my routes!!] There will of course be a planned finishing time tomorrow... anything around 57mins will be a good start. Worryingly I have a lot of distance work to get into with the Cardiff Marathon in 6 weeks time.

Free running

Hello Blog... this will follow my many and varied attempts to get fit to run a marathon and all the races along the way.