Monday, December 10, 2012

The aftermath - taking stock of a 'bad' month

The post-November analysis is continuing, though I am feeling a little stuck and frustrated until the after effects of the flu and its companion ear infection have passed. I have been out of exercise mode now for what must be six weeks between work and being ill, and boy oh boy does it show (I am the heaviest I have been for around a year).
I am still a rattling pill pot thanks to the various prescribed drugs for the infection, and it is hard to think about much else when the side of your head is throbbing. It is true that I have a low tolerance for pain and that there are far worse things to be suffering from (I am all to well aware of that), but it is perhaps the timing that is magnifying the apparent pain.

The certainty is that I need to get going as soon as I am well again, and get into a serious training plan... and I suppose there is no time like the present to start putting one together - especially as I have 41 weeks until my first major city marathon!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

A month out - mostly on my ass

Over a month of non-blogging and I feel bad. It is not just that I haven't blogged for a month it is that I don't seem to have done much else for a month. Part way through Mo'vember with moustache doing well (a whole other story), work going well, and not much running or training happening I came down with a heavy dose of influenza. Sadly this was not the man-flu variety but the full on stuck in your bed feeling dizzy, weak, gripped by fever, tired and utterly rotten. It took a full week of what amounted to bed rest to feel more like myself, I have only ever had one experience of the flu worse than this once almost 20 years ago!

Happily a recovery began to appear after the week of resting, but then unhappily I came down with secondary ear infections (yeap, plural not singular). A trip to the doctors and then a mountain of pills collected from the pharmacy and again I'm sitting around feeling right royally sorry for myself. I have the itch to exercise - more than an itch it is a raging desire - I really need to get moving and get that buzz! Until the pain abates in the sides of my head I will be hitting the road because I just need to.

My targets haven't gone away but just now they seem an awfully long way away... all I want for Christmas is good health so I can train well.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Four random ffotos Friday

So I have had a bunch of photos knocking around that I just haven't gotten around to posting this week, so here me are...

I must explain that last weekend I did a lot of fitness work and so I got to feeling that I deserved a good big treat for my efforts. The treat was a big full English breakfast for lunch, though I did concede to making it a veggie version ;-)
A really really tasty breakfast even though the bread wasn't buttered that well
 As a guest in our house of late we have had a fairly handsome piece of workout kit, a Concept II ergometer (indoor rower). It is interloping in our dinning room and making occasional visits to our kitchen for sessions, not of rowing training but of rowing analysis system testing - all to do with my wife's PhD studies. She is doing so well doing it part-time as within and as part of a demanding job. I have nothing but the uttermost respect for her efforts, as I studied from my doctorate full-time as a paid student I know all the hopes, fears, highs and utter lows of thesis producing that must only be magnified by working as well. I have every faith and now she is testing out her efforts it seems the home straight is in sight. By the well I am the willing crash test dummy for the tests, and it has actually been good fun.
It seems odd to have such a large piece of exercise kit in the house 
So it is November, or as it is known to some men (and women) Movember. The idea is that you strive to grow the best Mo (mustache) that you can in the month of November for cancer charities. Go see their website if you are interested or just plain curious Movember. As part of the run up to the month I took a drawing package to a couple of pictures of myself in an effort to work out what kind of Mo to go with. I still haven't totally decided but I have a few more days until my stubble gets thick enough to actually shape :-)
Ah ha! Trying out a drawn on beard seemed like a good idea at the time
Finally for four random ffotos Friday, my first ever (yes, I have lead a sheltered life) carved pumpkin lantern for Halloween. The last time that I had one was as a youngster in Berlin when my family made one for a lantern parade around my first school in Charlottenburg. My first actual carving effort was inspired by creative direction from my wife I set about a small pumpkin with a melon baller and a kitchen knife - it turned out pretty well I reckon.
Properly scary witch on my pumpkin lantern - though actually we copied it from one of the kids books


Thursday, November 01, 2012

A new huge challenge - the 2013 Berlin marathon

I have been a little busy to have posted anything this week, but having spent most of the last 40 minutes going through the process I thought I should share my newest challenge... all being well (with payment processing and such) I am registered for the 2013 Berlin marathon. This will be my first marathon outside of the UK and by the time of race day my third marathon event.

The scale of the logistical challenge is beginning to bite now that it looks like I'm in. I 'm hoping friends may have run Berlin before and be able to offer lots of sage advice about travel, accommodation and so forth. It is a little weird to think about an event a almost be more daunted by the where's and when's rather than the how's (I think I have enough training experience to get me to the start line - barring unforeseen events).

Diary - rain, gusty breeze, mild. Grateful for opportunity and big challenges.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Three things Thursday

So here we go...

1) Shredding - yeap, I have begun leaping around my house under the instruction of a loud American woman on a DVD. I think some might recognise the DVD and indeed the presenter in question. This time around I am toying around with doing the whole 30-days of that there 30 day shred. Why? Well I am having a month break from the run mileage I was doing (I know, not that I was doing huge mileage) and addressing all around fitness, aka mixing things up a bit. All of this before launching my marathon training for next spring.

2) Marathoning - today I began the process of trying to register for the 2013 Berlin Marathon. Not having run outside the UK (in a race) I am slightly nervous about the undertaking, but I know Germany and I know Berlin pretty well so I am very motivated to try and get there. It is there 40th edition and I will be in my 39th year, we both began in 1974 so I am taking that as a nice resonance - that and the fact I was living there as a toddler in '74 also.

3) Noise - I am struggling a little at the moment with noise... I know odd thing to say, and perhaps it intimates to some that I am in deed getting older. Suffice it to say that with a busy household, a busy work place and a loud world I am treasuring moments of calm and silence a lot at the moment. Probably part of the reason I get a bit grumpy if I don't get out for my run sessions.

Diary - Weather very very Autumn with a threat of Winter. Grateful for being productive, not so grateful for the changing clocks this coming weekend here in the UK (half the daily commute is thrown into darkness).

Monday, October 22, 2012

Motivation Monday - Running advice and cook books

The other day my wife proudly told me that this month we had tried 3 recipes from her recent copy of a food magazine, apparently this represented an unusually high number. Each copy that arrives in our post box gets diligently read cover to cover and during the process little sticky tabs or bits of paper sprout from the top edge of various pages. Eventually at a meal time a while later I find myself 'testing' a new meal.

Pondering this for a while it dawned on me that this is entirely the way I use running magazines and books, I don't as it happens use sticky tabs like my wife does with her magazines. I read whole magazines and often cover-to-cover but will often times only keep a small part of each that over time build up to a pile of knowledge that fits my running, my training or my ambitions. Then perhaps with hindsight if I was as organized as my wife cook books I would get a little more value out of the columns I read?!?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A PB does not a smart runner make!

It turns out that a great PB can mess with your thinking a little, I went out for my post-half recovery run and well it ended badly. I went off like a cheap firework rocket - I shot off at speed, peaked, made a lame noise, failed to burst into light and then sank back to earth charred and spent! The run started with my head full (and I mean really full) of ambitions for a next PB and I tried to open out at that kind of pace. Of course my legs soon said "Woo-ah! You forget we're tired!" and let me know in no uncertain terms.

The initial splurge was followed by an attempt to settle into a rhythm which my legs again complained at "Woo-ah! You forget we're tired!". So I slowed again and figured I'd get home round the Winter run loop no problem (yes, it's dark in the evenings and I feel I have to run the street-lit roads now). Once again just passed halfway my legs refrained "Woo-ah! You forget we're tired!", followed by "Seriously mate! We are screwed!"... I slowed to a walk because both calves were in full out rebellion.

By the time I arrived back home my head had had a good lesson in the consequences of over-ambition from the rest of me and we had resolved to be sensible about things. I am still keen on working towards a good PB progression for the half-marathon distance just not all in one training session (duh!). I think I had a serious case of the post-PB sillies, so the next training will be a proper recovery run before we get into the next plan :-)

Diary - bright blustery day, autumnal temperatures and damp ground. Grateful for the support of my family allowing me to go run, run, run, and for the fact that I am able to run, run, run. Miffed by... well nothing today really :-)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cardiff Half-marathon - how it went for me

No real mystery as to how the race turned out seeing as I couldn't help but post my time yesterday - plot not so much spoilt as blown, but here is a little of the detail of how it all came about that I set my personal best over 13.1miles.
Apologies for the lack of pictures but I ran without a support team armed with cameras.

Pre-race / start line
As it happened this year we weren't in Cardiff before the race, we were at a big family celebration an hour and a half drive away from town. We had a great time at the birthday celebration and the kids especially were having brilliant fun. I learned that being well meaning can result in doors being slammed in your face, but is not a story for this blog (just one of those little life lessons). I set off for the race at about 4:30am having decided that I would be best served getting back early and chilling at home over breakfast before heading to the course.

I got home in time for a good slow breakfast, a chance to sort out my kit thoroughly, and mentally disengage by watching the first half of the Korean Formula1 Grand Prix (which was pretty eventful). About an hour and a half before the race start I set off on my bike for work, where I could leave my keys, phone, dry clothes and so on without having to queue at the baggage drop off. The race this year had grown to take in 18,000 runners and an estimated 30,000+ spectators, so I wanted to get myself there and set in good time and good order.

On the way out of the office I met a bunch of fellow runners from the department all of whom were in great humour and fun to chat with on the short walk towards the start line and start pens. The start was set up outside the castle and was fantastically busy with a bustling atmosphere. I arrived in my start zone with a bottle of water, an empty bladder and a head full of happy thoughts.

Miles 1 & 2
The first two miles I had already determined were one of two key elements to my effort for a sub-2hour half marathon. I had to make sure I ran loose, ran easy and ran controlled - yes, I have that classic propensity to go out and blow it in the first phase of a race. Despite the usual ebb and flow of slower and faster runners trying to find their way within the mix of abilities I managed to run to my schedule of 9min/mile to 9.25min/mile - though admittedly on the high side of my target range. In the start pen I had spotted the sub-2hour pacer was about 100yards ahead of me so I had resolved not to chase him immediately but perhaps to be near him at halfway and thus be 100yards under his sub-hour pace.

Miles 3 & 4
The main hill in the course came early on and I was happy that I accommodated it without puffing like a train. At this point already I was having a good feeling about my potential time, especially as I recovered quickly from the effort of the hill. I looked to keep the pace as I'd set it and to keep the pacer in line of sight. I was holding the gap and if anything edging towards him slowly.

As I hit mile three I opened up my energy jelly beans and began popping them one at a time every couple of minutes.

Miles 5 & 6
Heading back towards the middle of the city from the bay and the barrage I was still working to keep myself flowing and rolling without over cooking things. I had gained on the pacer and was level through the sixth mile (a little early but it felt okay). The only problem with getting close to the pacer was the throng of runners stuck to him like flies round a jam jar, it was a little dicey as the route twisted and narrowed at times through the barrage area.

Miles 7 & 8
I knew this was where I had to start grafting while keeping my plan together knowing the the second big test of my plan lay three more miles away. I had taken my drink of water and decided on a caffeine energy gel at the same time. At this point I put away the remaining jelly beans and resolved that the gel was the last fuel that my system needed (and frankly would take - I have the growing feeling that some issues in last years near miss were from over using gels and upsetting my stomach).

Into the eighth mile I had a mini surge according to my GPS watch, but I don't remember trying to push and think perhaps it was just the distraction of the huge crowds while musing my fuelling plan change. I didn't do anything drastic but I recognised it and reigned it in before I went over the top.

Miles 9 & 10
At this point I sensed I was in shape to do the thing, although I noticed that the pacer was closing on me a little. I worked to keep concentration and keep my form.

Mile 11
The second big test - I have had issues around 11.5 miles in half-marathon runs and during my marathon at this distance out. I knew if I'd gotten the pacing right that I should ride it out, and in fact though I knew it was getting tougher to keep my pace (the GPS was giving me subtle hints!) I was managing it well.

Miles 12 & 13
There were two more rises through the closing section which I like to think took away my chances of pushing my pace on at all (ahem, wishing thinking probably). I worked hard on the inclines to keep the pace on target and keep my gap ahead of the pacer. Through these miles I began to really see that a PB was on the cards. The crowds through this section were even bigger, and as it was the student area very vocal.

The final dash and the line
As it happened the last bit was past my work on roads I know so very well. In the closing half a mile I knew that only an accident could take a sub-2 hour run from me, and happily I didn't fall foul of any mishap. It was a strange feeling knowing that I didn't have any need to have to sprint madly for a specific time - I was neatly under the 2 hour target.

My final time was 1hr 57min and 53seconds - and yes I think (I know) I pumped my fist with joy as I crossed the line. After the line the organisation was fantastic and though my legs were rapidly turning to jelly there was a good flow of runners so I didn't have to stop (where I would have probably stiffened up badly). I was not in ruins but I knew I had run hard and run well. Could I have gone faster? Perhaps, but I had trained with my final pace in mind and the target of sub-2hours as my primary goal so I executed my plan perfectly.

Summary
The weather was perfect, I marshaled my energies well, I listened to my stomach regarding gels, and I held to my plan - so all in all a good days running and a day to store away to remember during the tough road to my second marathon next year in Milton Keynes.

Monday, October 15, 2012

New PB - finally a sub-2hr half marathon!!

I am so pleased to report that on Sunday I indeed managed a sub-2hr half marathon after last year coming with 20seconds and having not finishing my last attempt at the distance. It feels great, and the buzz was a good one - I officially ran the Cardiff Half in 1hr 57min and 53seconds !!! :-D

More on my race and the event when I have more spare moments to put it all down on the keyboard.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wittering on Wednesday - pre-race wobbles

Pre-race wobbles
So it is indeed race week, and grand though I try and make that sound all it really means is me and 17,999 other souls will run around the streets of Cardiff this Sunday. I am not 'in a race' - I have entered an event sure - but really I am not convinced I am racing anything other than perhaps the clock. Sure there are elite runners coming to race the Cardiff Half-marathon, but most of us are just doing it because we can and not to race the next guy or gal.

Why then do I find myself so charged the week of this thing? It is all about the culmination of a block of training, a set of efforts, to do this one distance at this one time as well as I can... and indeed that provides enough 'pressure' to quicken the nerves quite a bit.

Other Witterings
Ummm, well I don't have any... sorry, I blame the pre-race wobbles!!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Oh come on!

I was walking down the high street of my local city centre this lunchtime and low what did I behold but workmen installing Christmas lights - now fair enough these won't be officially turned on for some time yet, but yikes already?

In other "Oh come on!" news I run the Cardiff Half on Sunday, I have only one goal (two goals) which is to run the thing in under 2 hours (and to chill out as much as possible before and during). The prospects are not looking so great as I am getting over a pulled stomach muscle (gardening! don't ask!), and I have started a new job (so very tired from playing catch up / new guy last week and this). If I run the thing smart and with a cool head I have every chance of my primary goal... I just have that sneaking suspicion that my tired head might not make for the coolest come Sunday... I will of course blog all about it.

For the time being I am in prep mode, washing the kit I want to run in, buying the energy gels I plan to consume, putting my race number and pins in plain sight (!!!).

Diary - weather variable and autumn is here, windy, cool, shattered showers. I am currently grateful that I am again busy, and pleased that my little girl likes school. I am intrigued that we now have a ergometer in the house temporarily and yet I haven't gotten on the thing yet?!?! :-)

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Wittering on Wednesday

Direction of travel
I have been reading a lot of posts on some great blogs of late admiring their clear senses of purpose, not simply with their running, but with their blogs themselves. There are those that diarise their activities so neatly they are compelling, some that give useful advice in amongst simple 'selling', and then there are those that are just down right entertaining. The direction of this collection of posts has always been somewhat eclectic, between rowing and running, between diary and advice, between reviews and new challenges, between weight loss log and training log. Why does this even bother me really? It is hard to put my finger on it, but I am coming to the opinion that I need to be a little firmer in what this thing actually is... maybe?!?!?

Driving tracks
As the Winter heads this way I am looking at some more time with my friend the elliptical trainer in the gym... even at this thought my brain said a loud "arrghh, must have distractions" and so I am on the hunt for new workout driving power tracks. Initial thoughts ranged around old favourites but a change up would be good so I went down the more current road towards Jay-Z, Tinie Tempah, Labrinth, David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia, et al... when I get to a new play list I will be sure to share. Any dance / pop / house / rap or other upbeat workout tune suggestions?


Monday, October 01, 2012

Motivation Monday - positively

Monday, Monday, such a day after the weekend that most mutter it twice. I decided to tackle it on the positive vibe, because I realised I have been colouring my year so far with the gloomy tones of having been ill in the middle of it. If I stripe that period out then I am actually left with a pretty healthy year of running progress, personal high water marks and new experiences tackled. Funny how short periods can mar the perception of a much longer one, us humans really do log negative experiences too well for our own good at times (of course Mr. and Mrs. Stone-age needed these risk avoiding memories of bad times way back in the day).

So for motivation today I am, as they say in various psychology circles, 're-framing' my experiences of the year to take out the glowing shiny positives :-)

For more sage, and frankly utterly intuitive, advice about positivity see this article published by the Guardian newspaper - Self help: forget positive thinking, try positive action *

* reference link in full - http://m.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/jun/30/self-help-positive-thinking?cat=science&type=article

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Friday Fit-up(date) - a day too late

My Friday to Friday fitness activities log...

Fri - ran 3.80 miles - an easy pre-race run, during which I walked a couple of blocks to keep myself from doing to much.

Sun - Swansea Bay 10k - 51:32 a new PR.

Tues - ran 5.54 miles - slow and steady with a kick on the end, which was very pleasing.

Wed - Ergo three times 4 minute efforts - set a PR for this measure.

Fri - ran 3.86 miles of intervals (or what I am calling 'sprintervals' - I think you can see what I did there).

Weight - unchanged through the week.
High - new PR over 10k even though the weather was challenging.
Low - not managing to make more progress up the Concept2 challenge series leader-board.
Observation - Autumn is here as I did my first 'early' evening run in the dark for months.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Three Things Thursday - in pictures

One:
My fantastic finishers medal from last Sunday's Swansea Bay 10k run
 Two:
The last of my Brooks Beast running shoes?
Top - penultimate pair (now kick about shoes);  Bottom - final pair (maybe) of training shoes before I move over a different prescription shoe for good
 Three:
A family favourite toy reminding me of my other big exercise passion - you are never just a runner ;-)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

For a friend - Rest in peace Jake-e-boy

Our dog, Jake, passed away this weekend just gone at the ripe old age of thirteen and a half , he suffered a stroke and so for reasons of his quality of life we choose euthanasia as simply the best thing for him. I was immediately hit by grief at his passing, flooded with good memories, and left at a loss at what I would do with out his company for daily walks. It is a true mark of a quality life of any living thing that they are remembered so fondly when they go and no one who had met him had anything but good words for him.
Jake, aged 13, stood looking all noble New Years day 2012
There are some things that come along in life that are hard to describe to those who perhaps haven't been in a similar situation, and I guess having a large pet in the house is one of those. Some people don't have cats or dogs (or any other pet) in their space for many reasons, those that do find their time changed by their presence. I had never really been sure about dog owning, I have a respect for them that borders on a mild fear. Having spent the last years with a greyhound in my life I am a convert to keeping dogs appropriately - we spent our time making sure we set good boundaries and reaped the rewards of treating our dog so well.

So thank you Jake for showing me what dogs are really all about and educating me properly in what it means to share your time with a non-human animal. We miss you, but we thank you for being the most lovely, faithful, cheeky, handsome greyhound a family could ever have.

                                        ================

Notes - my wife took Jake in from the lovely people at Greyhound Welfare (a registered charity that specializes in re-homing abandoned greyhounds in the South Wales area of the U.K.).

It seems odd that by coincidence it is Dog Week in the U.S.A.*, please remember rescue animals if you are thinking of a new pet this week or any week.
* I noted this mentioned on the blog Shut Up + Run and then found another reference link - http://www.petplace.com/dogs/national-dog-week/page1.aspx

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"Blackbox" - Nick Walker

Carrying on my occasional non-sporting thread, here is another long overdue book review...

"Blackbox" - Nick Walker
"I can't remember where I saw the recommendation, I have a suspiscion it was just somethhing that floated to the top of my Amazon recommendation list.  I got it as a present for my birthday from my wife, and was really very pleased she went to the trouble.
The pacing and narrative are astonishing.  It is one of those books that once you get going is hard to put down, the pace draws you into it.  The subject matter is on the graphic side of gore, but the writing is clever enough in its humour to diffuse a large measure of any distaste.
Very much a modern read in its style and staccato, punchy construction; well worth a read.  Reading the back cover again afterwards I found that I had to agree with the shortest of the review clippings "Brilliantly developed... DARKLY COMIC" - Independent."
Basically seeing as I had been waxing lyrical (or not) about the books I'd read on LivingSocial's facebook app I thought may as well re-publish my opinion for anyone who finds my blog.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Swansea Bay 10k - how my race went

Now three out of five race runs that I have entered this year have featured wind, rain and cold weather so I am now very much accustomed to it. In fact it is probably true to say that I would have struggled far more this year if all the runs had been in clear sunny (hot) weather - I very much function better in cool conditions, I am one of those people who in general has a warm constitution (I am a human radiator very often). So that it turned out the Swansea Bay 10k was my third race in cold rainy conditions didn't really bother me too much.

The preparation for the race in general went well, I got my race pack in good time and had all the arrangements for the day straight (travel, the kids, fuelling, kit and so on). The organisation of the event is just great as they have run the event there for many years and the arrangements run pretty much like clockwork - even in the bad weather. The immediate pre-race was marred by the death of our family dog on the Saturday night, he had a stroke and was euthanized as a kindness as he had lost so much quality of life to the condition. He was my first dog (though he was my wife's before I met her / them) and so I found it very difficult, as we all did. I will be at a loss for some time, and days will be very different without him around.

In the end I was running for the memory of our dog and I think he might have appreciated my effort if not my speed - he was a greyhound after all :-) I set off to hold a pace quicker than the Cardiff race two weeks ago, but not to go crazy and go too fast. It looked like being a bad headwind on the homeward half of the race so I didn't expect to negative split, and if anything resolved to run the first half hard knowing there would be a slowdown. The slowdown didn't come, and in fact I did manage a good negative split running the fastest mile of the race in the final mile.
Spot the guy in the orange vest! - I went with bright colours on a rainy day :-)

During the run two people went past me just after the first two kilometers that I resolved to follow, they were talking between themselves so from that and their running style I reasoned they were on a schedule similar to my own target time. I was cheeky in using them a hare to chase, but I suppose I took a leaf from my greyhound friend and went with it. In the last two kilometers I could see they were flagging and pushed on beyond them. I looked up their times afterwards and we had identical times as they must have been a little way behind me in the start area.


The Swansea Bay 10k proved to be my best 10k race thus far, I managed a small personal best beating my old officially measured time by 4 seconds! My time was 51min 32secs - I will go under 50min at some point I can feel it. I was very pleased with how my run went, how I approached the pacing and the strength I found over the last mile.

At the moment I am so very pleased with my bounce back from a difficult summer of illness, I feel like I am somewhere near where I was in the spring with pace and fitness. I am determined to stick with three intelligent runs a week as a basic week (one long, one pace, and one intevals), from what I read there are advocates for this sort of training and it will allow me to mix in other training (rowing and so forth). The work from here is to build a solid Winter base for Spring races and hopefully more PBs (PRs).

Next stop the Cardiff Half-marathon in less than three weeks time.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wittering on Wednesday - super brief

Due to a bout of tiredness, and I mean to the core tired, I haven't had the energy to think about wittering this week. I was in my bed just before 8pm last night and I feel like I could happily do the same again today... I am hoping it is just training fatigue after a busy weekend and that a couple of easy days will see me right.

I other news I am all set to shut down my 'Training' page and go back to popping training updates back into the day to day posts, though I have yet to decide a format (one decision at a time here! hehe!)... anyway here are the last weeks efforts...

Week beginning Mon 10th Sept 2012
DateCycleRunStretchRowErgoCircuitGym
Mon.......
Tues.4.5miY....
Wed..Y.4 x 4min firm..
Thurs.......
Fri.......
Sat.9.6miY....
Sun.5miY3trips
..

Friday, September 14, 2012

Concept II challenge series

So I have a new challenge in my life thanks almost wholly to an old school friend. The challenge is the monthly Concept2 challenge series.

Concept2, as far as I am aware, are a World leader in stationery rowing machines (ergo-meters) and on their UK website (and so probably their international sites) they have a range of coaching advice, training plans, on-line exercise trackers, and the challenge series. If you sign up to the series you then row a different challenge, either a different set distance to see how fast you can go, or a different set time each month to see how far you can go. Once you log your distance you are placed in rank order for your age group (and frankly the competitive element in you may then run rife). This month is see how far you can row in 4 minutes.

I am giving it a go as a new challenge, great core / full body workout to include in my mix, and as a cool thing to see how my old friend and I get on. As a former rower I thought it would be straightforward to do well, but my fitness strength seems to lie wholly in my running just now - so a regular challenge should help keep me all over toned.

Diary - warm, breezy, overcast with threat of heavy showers. Happy to have a new job, challenged by tweaking my blog about a little, and delighted that my girl is enjoying new school so much.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wittering on Wednesday - including Tennis, legacy, heat, blogging and ice cream(!)

Special bit of wittering this Wednesday, Andy Murray has cracked it, in case you missed it (how could you) he won the US Open in a thrilling five set final against Novak Djokovic. The summer of shear joy for British sport just took another level step up, just when we all thought there was nowhere else it could go after Bradley Wiggins triumphed in the Tour de France, and the GB and NI team excelled during the London 2012 olympics. Phew, as a huge sports fan (aka TV sports-aholic) I am just about out of steam - I stayed up until gone 2am to hear Murray win on BBC radio.

Olympic bounce - local rowing legacy?
I ran into a former rowing colleague the other day who told me all about the apparent effect the Olympics has had on our local club, Llandaff Rowing Club. Each year an event called the "Pub and Club" is run which encourages teams of four from local workplaces, clubs and pubs to get together learn to row for a month culminating in the "Pub and Club sprint regatta". There were, I was told, queues down the stairs and out of the clubhouse door coupled with cars parked all over the place apparently during the initial sign up evening. As an event I know they will love it, it was my introduction to rowing and left me totally hooked.

Any sign of an Olympic 2012 legacy, or an inspire a generation, sports effect near you?

Bring the heat
I am trying, and I am not sure how I am doing, to mix up my running a little. Yeah I know my training log looks pretty much as it always has, but it belays a change in approach which is seeing more speed-work. For me speed-work is a relative term of course (closes mind to how fast the Olympians covered such distances), but having spent a very very long time running at and just below 10min/mile pace for greater and greater distances I have needed the change and gone looking for it. At the moment it is not especially structured with me doing one session a week (at a mid-range distance) with sprints or sustained bursts within it. Like I said I don't know how I am doing but I am certainly less 'bored' with working my way around every course at 10min per mile.

Wales Blogger awards
I have seen on other blogs mentions of the awards for Welsh bloggers (I first noticed it on the very professional http://www.girlontheriver.com/ blog via my twitter feed), unfortunately I don't read enough of them to give a real judgement about their merits but the short-list is a fun way of taking the temperature of blogs in this part of the World. Some I think will be retained as regular reads - more on those in another WoW perhaps.
Take a browse of the 'Peoples choice' nominees list if you like at http://www.walesblogawards.co.uk/peoples-choice-award/

Swansea next...
Not long now until I tackle the Swansea Bay 10k. I have to say I am looking forward not only to the course and a lovely day out by the sea with Mrs. Taffi but I am also looking forward to my Joe's Ice Cream. This is a family thing inspired by my wife's love of the ice cream that they concocted in their ice cream parlours, when we go to Swansea or the Mumbles (or anywhere vaguely close actually) we have to 'pop' in for an ice cream. Very good stuff it is too, and I am looking forward to a well earned scoop or three ;-)

Diary - sunny, shattered showers, modest breeze. I am feeling inspired by all things running at the moment, and reading loads of great blogs and magazine articles. Job interview later - which should be fun.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cardiff 10k - how it went for me

Pre-race
I did what I haven't done for 18months and had a cup and a half of black coffee though it was in the name of running. Having read articles in running magazines and health magazines about the benefits of caffeine to sporting endeavour I gave it a go - though as an experiment I have no way of knowing how it would have gone without (I don't have an identical me around to run the control experiment for me). Needless to say it is my last cup unless, and until, I decide it might be useful for another race event.

Everything went well, I got my food right, I got my kit right, and even timed my arrival at the portaloo start area just right as well. I cycled into the city centre so I had a nice gentle warm up on the way in enjoying the near perfect weather on Sunday morning.
Pre-race during an early dog walk to get moving
- note I already made sure I would find my race number pins later :-)
The race
I had no goal in mind really, I knew my PB was not going to be in any danger but I didn't want it to be my worst time either. Within the start zone I worked out roughly where to put myself in the field, and on purpose choose the outside of the masses on the side of the first major bend. My primary aim was to go out at a pace that felt right, not too fast and not too slow - Goldilocks speed! Through the first mile I felt that I had found the pace I was looking for and began to feel out what could be possible for the miles that followed.

The second mile goes up a the gentlest of inclines along a nice wide street, and here I opted to hold a rhythm rather than try much with pacing. I had figured after the third mile was the place to enjoy the very slight decline and try to move on. My Garmin was telling me good things so I wanted to keep a flow. The support along the route was great, and there was a nice atmosphere amongst the runners. For a change there were not too many latecomers (or nutters) deciding to sprint through the crowds chasing their times, a lot of the runners seemed to be in training for the Cardiff half marathon in a months time so perhaps this helped to make a settled pack of runners.

Through the second half of the race I focused more on maintaining a sensible pace instead of my plan to push along harder. I was not sure what I had in terms of a pace lift, and didn't want to push in any way that might set back my training again. It became clearer to me that I was 'feeling' my way through the thing with the biggest fear being a new injury. Happily my watch was reassuring me that things were steadily moving toward a decent time.

Within the last half a mile I did step on a little and down the final straight-away I strode out without full on sprinting. In the final GPS analysis I managed a happy even pacing and even a negative split (albeit small) for the race. My official finish time was 54min 37sec, my third fastest 10k only a minute slower than the same race last year (which had a much much better preparation phase).
SportsTracks plot of my 2km split times for the Cardiff 10K
Post-race
I collected my race medal, a very nice little number, that made me smile a nice cheesy "thank you" grin at the volunteer handing them out. Afterwards I collect a free bottle of water then strolled through the athletes village (which was very well appointed with some very tempting shop stands!). On the bike ride home I saw some of the rest of the field coming in and again broke into a cheesy grin or ten at the looks of joy on their faces as the finish line appeared before them. The ride home was good for my legs, which I treated to an ice shower to help any yet to develop aches. Already in my head I was throwing forward to the Swansea 10k and Cardiff Half with excitement having gotten the autumn races off to a good solid start :-)
My fab Cardiff10K completion medal
(that now hangs with my small but growing running medal collection)
Post post-race
Two days on and I am still happy with how it went, the aches developed in a good way (if that is ever possible!) in that I felt mild un-troubling aches in the 'right' places. After a couple of days recovery I now hope to put a good block in before the next race arrives.

Friday, September 07, 2012

More post-Olympic blog posts

It appears that as the 'dust' settles on the London Olympics more and more competitors have been able to take stock and take a perspective on their efforts. They are a mix of honest, reflective, philosophical view points, here is another that caught my attention...

Annabel Vernon in her BBC support blog posted this reflection on her Olympic experience of both London and Beijing (fifth in the 8+ in London, silver in the 4-), and though claiming to be confused she eloquently conveys the trials, tribulations, efforts, joys, lows and highs of high level rowing. Moreover the effects I suppose of making competition sport your life / career.

Diary: very pleasantly warm, high scattered cloud, cooling breeze, very chilly overnight. Later I should complete my last pre-Cardiff10k run. Received an offer of an job interview today so I am pleased, but unsure where it might lead (not my first choice of direction). Grateful for my beautiful family and their continued support (including silly kitchen dancing).

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The Cardiff 10K cometh - bring out the pins!

It was a bit lazy of me the other day to post only the t-shirt and not the rest of the race pack from the Cardiff10K people. It came with paperwork (not shown), the t-shirt (previously modelled), race number, timing chip (ankle strap variety), a race guide pocket fold out, and two safety pins! I could hardly contain my joy at the pins I am always hunting the things as race day nears - ahem, even to the point that at this years Milton Keynes marathon I went in three separate shops the night before trying to buy some! It was often a similar story the day of a rowing event too. Though the irony in both cases is that we have tens or hundreds in our house pinned together in sets of four and cunningly placed so that we will find them quickly when we need them - I have just realised we are safety pin squirrels - you guessed it we (okay, I) never remember where!

The all important race pack, including those special little pins :-)
Race day is this Sunday, and I am looking forward to the test of just where I am this autumn. The race is now closed to late entries I believe (though please check) - www.cardiff10k.com/
They can be followed on pretty active feed on Twitter - @Cardiff10k

http://www.kidneywales.com/Though I am not running for charity this time out I should mention that the events lead charity is the Kidney Wales Foundation.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Busy day equals tired boy

There is something satisfying about a busy day, there is something good about being tired for the right reasons. I got a load of everything done, everything from making loaves of bread to running to job searching. The run was born out of the fact that I helped out my wife with a short bit of stationery rowing for her PhD work and found myself nicely warmed up in sports kit - so it almost seemed rude not to nip off for an unplanned 4.5 mile interval run (6 x 30sec bursts this time).

I am aware that I have hit the mileage relatively hard in the last few weeks from more or less a standing start, so I will be taking out a planned session and not adding more miles to my week. At the moment I am a little concerned about maintaining this good return to training and not falling foul of over-keenness.

Diary - cloudy and overcast clearing up to a warm sunny afternoon. 4 x 5min firm erg rowing, 4.5 miles running. Really ready for a good night of sleep.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Sad tale of 'sad' sites hiding in the blogger stats

I wouldn't say that I hang on the every click, but I do check the blogger stats page when I log in to get a feel if there is anybody out there (no, not in an alien way - or was that just me drifting off into other uses of that phrase?). Of late I had been pretty pleased with myself because through the year I have had a pretty regular (though not huge) monthly count... only I have discovered the vast majority were probably eronious sites trawling for some kind of business. I am not going to give the site names here as it is really just to give them a little more oxygen to breath if I do, but I will pass on a little info that I found.

The basic message is IF YOU SEE STRANGE ADDRESSES OR LINKS IN YOU BLOGGER STATS DON'T CLICK THEM, which of course is a fairly applicable mantra for large parts of the web. If you really want to know where these 'visiters' are coming from put a piece of the address only into a search engine and you'll see a site synopsis (again don't click through) or perhaps a forum article where other web users have described their experiences with the erroneous site/s.

How does it work? Well apparently low hit blogs are targeted as we are more likely to see the links and follow them back to source, bigger more popular blogs lose these in the tens, hundreds or thousands of genuine visitors if the sites even bother stinging them.

What harm? Well here I have to say I am not entirely sure, I get the impression they just want the afore mentioned web oxygen (people visiting their sites so they get sponsor monies). There may be sites that have more 'viscous' intentions though so all the more reason to follow the mantra.

Funnily enough from what I read third party sites that track your traffic for you are better able to give truer stats as they don't see or register them. These links are, in a sad way, for bloggers eyes only and for bloggers to fall foul of if they think "oh, that's cool a new site has me listed in another country wonder if they list many sites like mine?" and then click through to them.

I can only really refer to these sites as 'sad' - if the sleaze (and yes it is often 'those' sites) can't generate enough traffic from the titillating garbage they contain from genuinely interested nutters then just what they gain from a few earnest bloggers tripping into their traffic stream I can't fathom. Some parts of the Internet amaze and inspire, other parts well mmmm, just depress the average human being.

Diary - sunny, windy, high broken cloud. Rest day from training. I am happy that I might have avoided the above nonsense, and hope any real readers don't get stuck in these traps. Although unhappy that it seems that the little bit of fun in the stat page reports has completely gone.

Friday, August 31, 2012

...and finally it is Friday

Finally it is Friday the end of the week and also the end of the month. On the move wise I couldn't be much more pleased, even with a few days away during the month I managed to reach 60 GPS recorded miles of running. As I mentioned the other day that this is the highest total since February, and I hope it is also the sign of a healthy turn about in running fortune.

Next week brings my first autumn race, the Cardiff 10K, and though my sights are aiming lower than I thought at the start of the year I am hoping for an enjoyable solid run. From what I see of the course map it is the same route as last year, so no surprises to be expected. Actually it is a fabulous course winding around the civic centre, Cardiff castle and some of Cardiff's many great parks (on some of my frequent training routes). On top of the route the atmosphere is usually very good, along with the organisation which is friendly and generally efficient. The t-shirts they sent out for runners this year look superb...
I'd like to say I make it look good, but alas it is the other way round - in which the blogger sports a lovely Cardiff 10K tech t-shirt
So September... the plan is to (1) run two 10k races, (2) carry on lifting my training for the half marathon in October (and generating a base for next years second marathon), (3) to keep mixing my training to include pace variation runs, etc., (4) to blog nice and consistently, and (5) most importantly enjoy my family more now I am not mopping about complaining about being ill (sorry guys!!).

Enjoy your end of the week feeling, and have a great weekend (be sure to take it some of the Paralympics it is amazing - be inspired).

Diary - sunshine and high cloud, showers building into the evening. 5.9 miles running, 6 miles cycling. Fab lunch date picnic with my wife and son in the grounds of the castle today.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Three things Thursday

First ever "three things" post, but I've blogged every other day this week (!) so I figure I might as well run this thing out to a whole week of posts...

1) Paralympics 2012 - the opening ceremony was absolutely immense, it made so much more of what (I assume) was a tighter budget than the Olympics. The whole thing was tight, neat, entertaining, thought provoking, and had a fabulous theme running through it that made superb sense with a clear message. I was so moved that at the right moment I even rushed to get an apple to join in the 'big crunch' inspired by Isaac Newtons gravity defining apple moment. 
So moved I joined in, it was a tasty treat at near midnight
Everyone waits to watch the spectacle and drama unfold - good luck to all athletes from all nations.

2) GPS madness struck me last night on my run, I ran a spiral pattern using some of the many trials in the park all the while wondering what it might look like on the computer when I uploaded the route (geek!). The best part of the giddy (though happily not dizzy) madness was I had no clue how long the run would be in the end so I just enjoyed making my silly pattern.
Could have sworn people thought I was lost as I passed some three times

3) So today I continue my quest for a new job / career (the same as I have everyday for the last few weeks, but hey I don't discuss that here), which is just a lame excuse to use another silly picture and make a third thing... hey, I said this was my first one go easy on me :-P
FreeDigitalPhotos.net

After yesterdays thunder storms and rain, today looks sunny, warm, with scattered rain clouds.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wittering Wednesday

Why is it that the moment you really need to print the printer decides to go AWOL? Why is it that when you decide to go for a run it rains? Why is it that when you are all set for a training session your buddy gets injured? Sure all of these are issues, all of which I have had in the last couple of days, but the bigger question is why does it matter to what we are doing so much? I didn't need to print a draft in order to carry on working, nor did I need good weather to run or a training buddy to get down to training. I suppose some days if you let things stop you they will.

Breaking out of a "why I couldn't" pattern can seem difficult, although when you are out of it you look back you wind up pondering just what its supposed power was (those you never suffer this never quite understand). A friend succinctly summed up my post-marathon post-illness funk by enquiring "you know what to do, why do you do the opposite? If I want to train for a race I'll just do the opposite of you". I suppose at times (especially if you are in a bad place for other reasons) the "why I couldn't" seems comforting, simple and accurate, despite the fact that ultimately you'll be uncomfortable about things you didn't do, find things complicated by the things you missed (especially those base training runs), and totally inaccurate in the cold light of the powerful angle-poise lamp.

So the next time you get the "why I couldn't" or "why I can't" thoughts coming your way see them as they are, step around them and get on with things. So I am off for a long training run later on my own whatever the weather, although in the end I really did need the new cartridge for the printer regardless :-S

PS. in the end the whole of my run was in a break in the weather, I experimented with a route variation and ran a fun 8mile circuit with good form and rhythm - see what was I all in a tangle about :-)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tough stuff

It seems that when you think "Oh, no my race preparation has been awful" as though you are suffering the biggest sporting setback of all time. I have been there and ridden the 'tough race' bronco, but then you look at some stories from the London 2012 Olympics and realise "okay so my injury issues are pretty small really!". People (athletes - but lets not forget they are normal people too) training themselves silly for four years or more in huge blocks / cycles for just 1 day in roughly 1461 (depending on when the Games is scheduled within a given year).

One such athlete who as the sporting cliché goes 'turned herself inside out' in an effort to achieve was Helen Jenkins (a triathlete, and the 2008 & 2011 triathlon World champion) and I have just finished reading a blog post she released about her Olympic trials and tribulations. Helen is from Wales the 'small' country I reside in which as part of the United Kingdom which had high and specific hopes for all of its cohort of Olympians very much including Helen. The pressures that she must have felt living under the home tag of 'gold medal hopeful' must have been incredibly intense, that she put herself through what she did a testament to immense inner strength. Good on her for pushing through, doing well, and then describing so concisely how she got there (she finished fifth) - there are many definitions of 'heroic' and the vast majority of them don't require gold coloured medals (or any medal) and evidence.

For my small part I will be endeavouring to bite my tongue (lock my keyboard away) the next time I set out to an event with 'less than perfect' training. Everyone at every level of moving be it slow to fast, weak to strong, novice to elite needs a little perspective now and then - mine was adjusted mightily by an honest simple account of sporting struggle.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fun with speed? Really?

Did a very basic little "fun with speed" (fartlek) run today and remembered both why I rarely do them and why I should do them. I don't do them primarily because they can feel like hard work, especially doing a basic 1minute 'on', 4 minutes 'off' repeat session as I did today. The benefits are clear when you see / feel just how you can move with a little 'umpfh' in your effort - I did at one point this morning though feel I was switching between Usian Bolt posture and Zimmer frame shuffle posture for the 'on' and 'off' respectively.

How the splits for each section looked in the final, analysis is shown below. The fifth quick block was uphill so overall I was very happy with the consistency, the last one I kinda let rip a little without although it to turn into an ugly desperate looking final sprint.
In which the blogger summarises his interval run using SportTracks3.1

All in, it was actually fun and really have to discover the interval and fartlek love over the coming weeks... so I can't wait to do the next... gibber!

Heavy rain, moderate winds, very rare glimpses of bright spells during my run.

Post-post addition - there is a difference between 'fartlek' and 'interval' runs I realise, sorry I didn't explain properly here.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mileage increase - at last!

It seems that this month I have turned the corner with training and have run further this month already than in any of the previous 6 months. This takes out the pre-marathon cross-training in the gym while I was nursing an injury, though really I must have racked up a fair few mile equivalents in there. Anyway it is the most I have run since February when I was following the marathon training plan with its related volumes pre-week.

From here on I am looking to gradually build into my race commitments (didn't mean that to sound in anyway grandiose, I call them commitments because they cost me good money to enter), and get to a point where I can begin marathon base training work for next spring. Still not entirely sure why I signed on for another aside from it being one huge great big motivational target... sure I might remember other motivation during late summer and Winter runs :-S

Despite being on a quick holiday last week where I indulged in a little too much glorious beach ice cream I have the definite sense of improving running health.

Happy weekend running to you :-D

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Post-Olympic hangover

I thought everyone was a bit daft to suggest that there would be a 'hangover' after the Olympic show came to its climax last weekend, but perhaps I was wrong. Sure no one is throwing up, repeatedly visiting the bathroom, popping headache pills, it's not that kind of a hangover, but there are definitely effects. TV schedules are rushing to tell everyone "hey, look we have great shows", sports clubs are brimming with new keen participants (I only hope they saw it coming and have the facility to take on the enthusiastic hordes), people are still talking of little else, and of course the paralympics are coming. In some ways there is more human spirit on show in the paralympics, more stories to make a grown man cry. Sure Olympians earn respect for their graft, hardships and endeavours but many have the sports 'machine' behind them, something about a person who played a new sport in hospital and during rehabilitation and were made anew by adversity makes you stop, really stop, and wonder in awe of their achievement.

So obviously I am suffering a hangover, a week on and I am blogging (well rambling) about it. I could fill a good many posts with my highlight moments from the summer games so far (I really think we are only halfway with the paralympics coming). I am inspired in my own way, I have watched several Olympics now since I was a kid and every time I get the same buzz afterwards - even now in my middle age I think I might win gold some how?!?! haha

Inspired I am under way properly with running training again, running around 6miles three times this week, the training plan is there, the fuelling (diet) plan is back into shape, but for the moment my legs and lungs are feeling their own hangover from not training for so long... but like the Olympics I know my fitness will come around again (though hopefully it won't take four years!).

Sunny, humid, scattered cloud.

Hope your weekend rocks, and has no hangovers in sight ;-)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

An A to Z of being new to running

A - addiction - be prepared for what could well become the healthiest (though probably most obsessive) addiction you are ever likely to develop. Quickly you'll understand why running friends go on about the 'buzz' of running.

B -  beginning - rapidly it will become clear that beginning to run will lead to a great many other beginning moments, everything from training plans to racing to diet schemes.

C - clothes collection - beware that after not very long you will likely begin to gather something of a clothing hoard. Don't be surprised when you find yourself considering an extra kit for when the other is in the wash, one for wet weather, one for cold weather, one for cross-training, and all this besides race t-shirts if you start signing up.

D - DOMS - you will come to understand the ebb and flow of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Generally 36 to 48hours after a training session the aches will peak and let you know just how much work you really did.

E - education - I found myself becoming an avid consumer of running magazines, websites and blogs, finding out all I could about the methods and processes of running.

F - fun - does this really need explaining?

G - gels - you may never have heard of them, seen them or tasted anything quite like them. Useful for energy during long events, experiment, test, and remember there are a few alternatives to the sticky gunge (jelly beans, energy bars, and so forth).

H - health - it is everywhere just how unhealthy various parts of the World are, the health benefits of running are too numerous to list and will be very individual to you.

I - injury - kind of ironic that I could follow health with injury as in some respects they often go hand in hand in a kind of balancing act. Never be shy about seeking advice and help with any issue, niggle or even drama. If they come they may set you back, but the bounce back might make things feel all the sweeter. Having an injury often heightens your realisation of just where your running has taken you down the paths of health and healthy addiction.

J - joy - completing any aspect of running can fuel feelings of joy, not just the finish line of a 'big' race. Completing your training loop faster than ever, running up that hill without slowing, realising your waistline has shrunk, that shiny new pair of trainers... and on and on

K - kit - no not clothes again, this kit is for gadgets (heart rate monitors, watches, phones, music players, GPS, packs, bottles, and so on). I defy anyone you runs even for a few weeks to not fall into the arms of at least some of these 'must haves', truth is a lot might not be actually necessary but sometimes the stuff just validates that "yes, I am a real runner"-type mantra.

L - legs and lungs - very rapidly you'll find that your whole system is required, strong legs don't get very far without good lungs. It is that very holistic sense of your full body in motion that might be that source of simple primal feel good factor.

M - mileage monitoring - one way or another the calculation of distance will take up meaningful portions of your spare thinking time, before, during and after runs.

N - nutrition - quickly you realise that timing food all wrong can have awful effects during and after a run.

O - ouch - yes, ouch, it will hurt, does hurt... sometimes... other times not at all.

P - physiotherapy - make an acquaintance with a good physiotherapist, even if you are never properly in need of one for medical reasons they can help prepare your body and revive your body as your runs get longer and longer... and longer.

Q - quitting - there will be days when you'll want to quit, but these will be balanced and cancelled out by the joys, fun and gains of running on amazing run days.

R - repetition - I am not going to be coy about it there will be no getting away from repetition, unless you can goad your route finder into a total new route everyday.

S - stretching - you will read all manner of articles about stretching "do this", "don't do that", "do it before", "do it after",... there appears no definitive. I have found that moving (dynamic) stretching is great before and that continuing to move afterwards aids recovery. Sitting on the couch for an hour immediately before or especially after a run is a sure way of making your body ache like you've never known.

T - trainers - they say that the only thing you need to get out running is a suitable pair of trainers / training shoes. It is only when you start running that the World of options will begin to dazzle and confuse. Seek out sound advice and go to a store that offers a good fitting service. Good shoes may cost a bit more than their fashion counterparts but then think how much your ankles, knees or hips will cost you if they wear out.

U - unusual - at first the whole thing can feel very unusual and frankly running several times a week for months can on the face of it seem odd. Your friends / colleagues may single you out for "why are you doing that?" type comments, which can delay the feeling that running is that usual thing you do.

V - variety - not only the spice of life as the saying goes, but also the spice of running. Don't plug away at the same route all the time, explore, investigate parts of your region / area. All best done with a training buddy, the conversations you'll have on their own will get the variety going.

W - weather - although you thought you complained about the weather about as much as the next person your appreciation of the hows, whys and whens of the forecasting art will expand many fold as you look at your plan, look at the forecast and then work out just what clothes you'll need in the week ahead. Moreover you'll be surprised how weather hardened you'll quickly become, running in the rain is often actually very pleasant.

X - x-training - okay, so I cheated an 'x' in here, but you might find that running gets you back in the squash court, the swimming pool, the football pitch, the gym. Look at all the things you do in different sports as training to run and running as training for sports and x-training (cross-training) in effect becomes a habit not a chore.

Y - youth - re-gain and maintain months and years of your life.

Z -  zzzzzzzzzz - volume of sleep is never to be under-estimated. Get enough and you'll be powering along. The best part as I have found is that sleep is often easier to achieve, deeper and more restful as a result of training / running.

I could go back and entirely re-write this with new choices and therein lies the best part of being new to running (or an regular runner) access to a whole new life vocabulary deepening and reinforcing that joy of being on the move. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Busy but not - post-Olympic effects

Over the last couple of weeks I have been in my own little Olympics bubble, where there was not enough space for 'extra' things like blogging - sorry. The bubble was a lovely golden place to be as Team GB (& NI) outdid itself, although like a long holiday in foreign places I came 'back' from the bubble wondering just what real news I missed in the World. The events themselves were inspirational and I discovered today that the local rowing club is teeming with people wanting to start a new sport (or come back to it because the Games reminded them what they are missing).

For my own part I have felt ever more motivated to get properly on the move again post-illness, and so I have signed up to three races I started with the Cardiff 10k, and the Swansea Bay 10k... then things got out of hand and I applied to run the Milton Keynes... marathon! Yup, I have signed up for my second marathon - many said I would, and how all knowing they really were. Thus, although I have not strictly done the greatest amount of actual sport I have indeed been busy filling out forms that ensure that for the next few months I will be doing quite a lot.

Oh, and having had my vicarious sporting fix I should have space to get blogging again.... a training plan may follow (as I learned a lot of lessons the hard way from my first marathon).

Happy Wednesday - I hope the Olympics inspired you to go get busy :-D

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wittering on Wednesday - obesity

The Food Programme on BBC Radio4 this week presented the debate around changing / stemming the progression of obesity across the 'Developed' world, and I can recommend a listen...

Given what I have seen on my travels through day to day life whatever tack they take we are facing an uphill challenge. The people that I rather rudely snapped with my mobile phone camera in a local cafe were essentially a super-sized family. They sat down across from us and tucked into lunch followed by an excited round of cakes.
As a group I have a feeling these people were contributing to their own weight issues - "Oh , go have that half of the cake with me!"

To me the changes have to come from simple non-judgemental education starting in schools and spreading out through adult groups. Education about menus, meal times, food options, food flavours, essential nutrition, exercise, movement, lifestyle, not simply pushing the message of ill-health and disease as if a big scary stick will have long term benefits. The strategies that rely on companies and industry to help drive change present such a monumental conflict of interest (they need to sell product to justify their existence, shareholder dividends, company bonuses and so forth).

Sure the education approach will take time to achieve, but it could be one of the few ways that could create appropriate obesity avoiding life long habits.