Thursday, February 28, 2013


I went and missed the 500th post on my blog and even then the 501st... which then led me to wait for post 505 for any kind of fanfare.

Why 505? Well way back when I was very large I went to the U.S. of A. and while there really wanted a pair of authentic 501's... suffice to say 505's proved to actually fit and I had to head home and hope no one looked to hard at the label of my fancy 'authentic' jeans. I was a much larger person back then and the compromise on clothes extended far beyond a single brand of denim jeans - back then before this blog started huge t-shirts, loose jackets, over sized jumpers were all things I had to compromise on. All little things that eventually penetrated my awareness and made me take the small steps and actions that put me on the road to a healthier and slimmer life*.
"Dude! Like anyone really cared anyway!" - why did the make or model even matter to my younger brain?

Happily things move on... when I first clicked a link and clanked the keyboard on this blog I never for a moment considered that at some point in the future I would have written 500 let alone 505 blog posts. This is still pretty much a collection of thoughts and experiences, nothing more, nothing less than my stream of on-line / on the move consciousness.

505 posts in brief? Well, in the beginning there was running... then there was rowing and running... and then there was running (and some occasional rowing). There were successes, injuries, losses and gains over time that made my life as colourful as it is. It all started on Saturday August 27th 2005, and since then it seems my most popularly viewed post is a cartoon I drew of a circuit session we used to do when I was doing a lot of rowing training (Circuit dizziness).

All that has gone on over that time represents the largest personal journal I have produced (of any kind), and for whatever it is to anyone who finds it it is deeply special to me for that alone. I am aware this is a lazy post that contains no content, no solid opinion, no deep humour, no product review, no life enriching mantra... but then who knows what the next five hundred and five posts might contain.

* I never did buy a pair of 501 style jeans, it turned out the overall cut didn't look that great on my slimmer frame either - I am just not an owner of a suitable body geometry (there was probably something ironic in that somewhere?!?!).

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wittering on Wednesday (sort of)

So I have been busy, or have I? You might have those phases too where you seemed to have not stopped but yet reflect and wonder quite what it was you achieved... it has been like that this week. To borrow a lyric from somewhere I have been travelling without moving (apologies if that was not the intended meaning behind that phrase whomever penned it, and to my shame I don't recall who). In terms of on the move type activities, I have done nothing but eat since the large number of kilometers covered over the weekend. The eating started as post run munchies and don't seem to have relented since - it often gets that way when I am rushing around I get lazy with food choices and food control. Still having noticed it today I hope to put that back in its box.

In the wider terms of wittering it to has been a busy week with the press full of all sorts of stories everything from studies of the best forms of activity (long and steady versus high intensity training), to a new material heralded by major sports shoes maker as the next big 'boost' to running performance, to the sad stories of sporting icons heading into courtrooms.

Oddly though with all the sources of wittering fodder I have passed as my brain seems engrossed in a any 'spare' moments with a personal reading frenzy (but that I could develop a faster mode of reading overnight). I have inspiring books a plenty and for a change am applying myself to consuming them rather than doing the proud ownership thing "oh, yes those are great and they are real classics!"... "sorry, what? Have I read them all - ah, well - no, no, no not all of them no"... "how many? Hmm, well these are... well they are classics aren't they? Fancy moving into the other room?". My challenge at the moment is thus to dent my unread books collection, including all those running and fitness books that will undoubtedly tell me what I should be doing and set me on the path to a marathon PB without bumping into more injury / illness.

All I need to do is figure out just when I can find the time to tackle my unread book mountain... more hours in the day - anyone? One day soon a real slick blog post will tumble of my keyboard, for now - sorry ;-)

Monday, February 18, 2013

So sometimes I actually go running

This weekend just gone was one of those rare weekends when I actually got my running shoes on two days in a row! It is indeed worthy of an exclamation mark because in the world of a busy Dad it always feels a little wrong to use up so much weekend time on yourself. The first run was a pacey affair with my training buddy because as it turns out whilst I have suffered various illnesses he has managed a very consistent weekly mileage 'commuting' to and from his work. It was good to both crack on at a decent pace, and better still to share a bunch of gossip. We completed 8.35 km in a couple of minutes over three quarters of an hour.

"Feet Of Runner In Evening Light" - Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid []

Now it is here that I will reveal my latest mad-cap scheme - as you might notice I quoted my run distance in kilometres (km) just there, and so it will be for some months to come if my plan works out. My big goal for the year is the Berlin Marathon and there is no getting around the fact that they are wholly metric and use kilometres... so I am trying to give myself enough time to grasp the min/km pacing, and splits for various points on the course in the correct measures. It is a simple plan to move into kilometres, although I have rarely judged my shambling pace in anything other than min/mile. The nice thing is that 10 min/mile becomes a much smaller number in min/km, the not so nice thing of it is that the distance goes from 26.1 units (miles) to 42.2 units (kilometres)... I only hope that because the numbers will tick by quicker I'll learn to like the change.

The second run of the weekend was my long run (which I paced for the last time in min/mile), which covered 18.5 km (or 11.5 miles). I was suitably tired after an easy effort run that finished with 20 minutes at race pace at the end... I suddenly had flashbacks to some of the early pain I felt as the wheels feel off during my first marathon. Still it was a beautiful day to be flogging myself around the paths of Cardiff Bay and Cardiff city centre, some say spring is on its way, others groan and say there will be more snow yet. Whatever the weather me and my running shoes will be churning out the training kilometres in the weeks ahead - only 11 weeks now until the Milton Keynes marathon the first major stepping stone towards my Berlin run.

Diary - everything is busy though I am feeling out of sorts with things at times, which has left me even more grateful that I get to run and clear my head. My book binge continues a pace, more reviews in the pipeline I think.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" - Haruki Murakami

Just occasionally I get around to a book review as a non-sporting thread,  because it is book principlely about running, fitness, life it fulfils a a rarity in my book reviews - a book that is somewhat about subjects encompassed in my blog. So having threatened to write this this very week in my previous post here goes :-

"What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" - Haruki Murakami
"It was a book choice out of left-field to an extent, I have never read this novelist's books, I have never taken part in a running event with this runner, but a colleague during one of those random conversations that crops up about my own running suggested I should take a look at this "great philosophical running book by one of my favourite authors". I was intrigued and marked the book on one of those on-line lists as one to buy at some point, my birthday came around I plundered the list and thus I own a copy. Without giving away all my thoughts in one sentence, it is not a book I intend to part with in a hurry.

It is a book that is simple, straight-forward in concept and delivery, but where it goes with style and often humorous grace is into the mind of a lifelong mover (the life of someone who values the benefits of motion and activity in fuelling the other elements of their day to day). If indeed like me you have ever struggled to explain quite what the 'addiction' and 'pull' of your sporting endeavours are then try and get your nearest and dearest to read this book. Murakami sets out the majority of the reasoning behind persistent fitness efforts coupled with sporting goals, and so eloquently frames them against the ever present backdrop of life and the phenomenon of ageing.  It will draw you in and make you smile, both with shared humour and recognition of the human condition.

From this one book runners and non-runners, tri-athletes and non-tri-athletes, authors and non-authors will take so much. I read the short volume in near enough two days straight, it is rare that a book has that much pull on an otherwise busy existence. Can I recommend it? Well if you haven't gotten the gist yet, then - YES, it is simply one of those enriching books that will leave an impression on you long after you close the cover."

Monday, February 11, 2013

Running book binge

Okay, so I went a little crazy in the book shop this weekend and before I knew it I had FIVE new running books! It was all inspired by my birthday and having had the Murakami "What I talk about when I talk about running" book recommended to me by a colleague whose partner is a runner and loved reading it. So that was one book, the others came about through an as it turned out wallet denting chain of associations - the Jane & Mike Tomlinson book / biography from of the fact that I had heard an inspiring interview with Mike on the Marathon Talk podcast - the "Born to Run" book from having read about passing of Micah True on a blog I read some many months ago, and at that time reading something of his relationship with the Tarahumara of Mexico (the book centres on him and the adventures his Mexico I understand).

My new collection of running books (which should keep me busy when I'm not running and doing all those other things I do!!)
The last two were pure and simple impulse buys, at that point the ball was well and truly rolling and so I picked them up and popped them in the basket. "Why we run" caught my attention because of the subheading "A story of obsession" which seemed very appropriate to my current mental approach. It could be that element of personal obsession that led me to pick up the fifth book, I mean "Racing weight" (?) that is phrase I have pondered for at least 3years of running now (I'll get there one day!?!?).

It has to be said that I am already half way through the Murakami book already (and I have only had it for 2 days), it is that kind of absorbing a read. The style, the approach, the ethos / philosophy is just spot on and utterly engaging. When I finish it, ahem very soon, I will review it properly.

In other news, I ran my first hill repeats today, and racked up 12 repeats of a short sharp hill not far from home. Each repeat turned out to be slightly quicker than the previous one which I was very very pleased about, especially as I really wasn't sure how hard to go at the session. True I walked the recoveries for the second six repeats, but I reasoned this was sensible and did mean I could maintain my form better through the latter efforts. All in all its been a good period of running having negative split my way through a 9.8mile session on Saturday too.

Diary - windy, cold, dry. Glad to be the father of two fabulous kids, and blessed with a wonderful wife (who has taken it upon herself to use me as a recipe tester of late - not that that is why she is wonderful, she has always been wonderful). Life has a good balance at the moment, not perfect but then that would probably be dull :-)

Thursday, February 07, 2013

A tale of two podcasts

The number of podcasts that I regularly listen to has now doubled, to the princely sum of two! Yes, that is right I now listen to literally a couple of podcasts. Which two and why?

The first one I have listened to for a while now (and have mentioned before) is the Jillian Michaels podcast - not because I'm a closet north american, not because I'm a huge Biggest Loser fan, and not because I am a woman of a certain age... just because it is generally silly, but informative, and benign whilst insightful. I am sure many people have said many things about the 'show' and I am certainly not going to critique it here.

The second one I have been downloading has been a revelation - Marathon Talk - for me at the moment simply perfect listening and simply perfect content. As someone hoping to run two marathons this year it has been a brilliant find for tips and training ideas / guides. The running advice is coupled with some absolutely brilliant interviews, and since I started listening over the New Year I have heard some crackers with Kelly Sotherton (former GB heptathlete trying her first marathon after retiring from elite sport), Mike Tomlinson (event organiser and husband of the late Jane Tomlinson), Amby Burfoot (RunnersWorld guru, and lifelong runner), Prof John Brewer (sports physiologist), Brett Larner (the guy behind Japan Running News), and Kurt Fearnley (paralympic athlete) this year, and I haven't begun dipping into their archive yet.

I have taken so much from the Marathon Talk podcasts that I would recommend a listen to any runner. It is true that the podcast it is supported / funded by Adidas but it is not by any means an ad driven enterprise it comes across as genuinely about running community, and the two hosts (Messrs Martin Yelling and Tom Williams) are warm and engaging. I have yet to find time to root around the website but I have the feeling that when I do it will be similarly rewarding.  

Both of these are available through iTunes just stick something relevant in the search do-da :-)

Diary - very busy in work (not a bad thing), very busy at home (also not a bad thing), not getting many miles out on the road (not a good thing). I'm 10lbs lighter than at the end of December, and moving towards fuller training. Weather - cold, windy, and possibly bringing more snow our way.