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

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