Craziness

Hotwells

Well, turns out I’m actually crazy. Crazy like those weirdos who go out running when they’re ill and tell you that it actually helps.

Because it helped. Not only did it help, but in some ways, the illness seemed to help the running, too. My lack of concentration made me a bit forgetful. I forgot I was thinking of limiting myself to 5K max, I forgot I was going to stick to a flat route, and at one point I forgot about having a stitch so successfully that ten minutes later I thought, “Oh! Hang on, wasn’t I worrying about a stitch? Where did that go, then?”

I went out along the towpath where I started all this running malarkey. I figured it was flat, and more pleasant in the daylight than the boring old A4. Only I didn’t actually turn around at my halfway point, because I’d not really figured out where my halfway point was going to be.

So I ended up at the far entrance to Leigh Woods, a lovely little area of forest on the other side of the Avon Gorge. I used to do a walking route through these woods every weekend, so I figured I’d just follow that, despite it being a bit hilly.

When I say “a bit hilly”, according to the RunKeeper log and map, the middle of my route through the woods maxes out at about 100m higher up than when I started. RunKeeper reckons I climbed 147m overall, including the undulations here and there.

My run ended up with me crossing the Suspension Bridge — for the first time, while jogging — and that’s today’s picture; the view from the Bridge down toward Hotwells, where I live.

And it also turned out a bit longer than I figured, at 8.23km. Not bad for someone who was so tired he didn’t get dressed until about 2pm.

Mind you, I’m knackered now, and while the run seemed to make me forget about being ill for a few hours, I can feel my nose starting to clog up and I’m sneezing again, so I reckon it was only a temporary respite.

Still, at least it’s eased the I’m-not-running guilt, and that should last a couple of days, anyway!

Illness and Fatigue

It’s a lovely day out there. Perfect running weather. Sunny and cold.

Not sure if I’m going, though. I seem to be ill with some cold‑y thing that’s sapping my energy. I just slept for ten hours, got up, had breakfast, coffee and Lemsip, and I still don’t feel like I want to do anything.

I know that running can actually make you feel better when you’re ill, but I’ve never really had that get-up-and-go attitude to illness. Not like my friend Chris, for example. I tend to prefer to get underneath a quilt and watch episodes of Columbo until I’m feeling better, then gradually ease my way back into the world.

Maybe there’s a compromise here. This is a weekend, and I would normally be getting out there right about now, planning to do 7K or more. Maybe I’ll leave it to later, see how I feel, and perhaps get out and do 5K or less (or fewer? Hmm. Grammar advice welcome.)

We shall see. Either way, I think the important thing is probably to make the decision, and stick to it, without feeling guilty if the decision happens to be “cling to a quilt while semi-consciously watching a rumpled detective asking people one more question.”

And I’m absolutely not kidding, by the way. Columbo is on at quarter to two on ITV today, if you’re interested…

Faster, faster!

No personal best for the 5K this evening — that still remains at the just-under-31 minutes I managed back in November, running as fast as I sustainably could all the way.

But tonight, I think, was the fastest since then, at 32:26. And considering I did a normal jog on the way out, then just did some speedwork on the way back, I think that’s pretty encouraging. I reckon a 30-minute 5K is not far away. I may make that my goal for February.

The way back definitely seemed a lot quicker than the way out, even though there probably was only a minute or so in it. The RunKeeper stats seem to be showing a gradual increase in average pace on these 5K runs as time goes by.

Anyway. That’s enough for now. I might just do a perfectly normal 5K on Friday, just to give myself a bit of a rest 🙂

Speedwork

Okay, back on the road again tonight after my birthday break. Tonight I tried a bit of speedwork, doing some fartlek training where I sprinted a bit and then recovered for a while at normal pace, sprinted again, and so on.

I travelled out down the Portway as normal, because everyone seems to say that warming up properly is crucial before you start pushing the speed, and then did the sprinty bits on the way back. I used the nice, regular lamp posts along the Portway as markers, sprinting between a couple of them, then jogging for the next few, then sprinting.

Seemed to work out fine, and the way back seemed a lot quicker than the way out. I guess that was mostly because I was doing something different and interesting, as I wasn’t actually that much faster.

Still, did my 5K in about 34 minutes, and that’ll do me for starters. Next time I’ll maybe mix it up a bit, sprinting for further if I can, and see what it feels like.

Anyway. My other plan for this week is to be in bed by eleven every night, and it’s 10:45 now, so I’d best go!

Just a Quickie

Just a quick update! Thanks for the birthday wishes, all. I’ve been a bit off the grid since Friday, as my phone line has completely died, taking my ADSL down with it. Thanks, BT! With good luck and a following wind, apparently BT may be fixing the problem, which is at their exchange, tomorrow.

I’ve not run since Wednesday. I’ve been a bit busy, then a bit birthdayed, then a bit tired. Normal service with the running, as with the telephone, should be resumed tomorrow…

Break in the Clouds

I was lucky enough to be on a nice, heated, covered boat this morning while my colleague Chris was cycling to work through what I think I can only describe as “torrential sleet”.

That made me worry about the prospects for this evening, but it dried off and maybe even warmed up a bit by the time I got home. Even though I was a bit knackered, I plodded out for a quick 5K, along the Portway and back.

It wasn’t an inspiring run, but maybe it’ll help me get to sleep tonight, at least. I hope so. Tomorrow I’ll wake up to being 37, not 36, and I’d prefer not to spend my birthday in a zombie-like state of tiredness…

Thaw: The Return of the Lardarse Runner

RemnantHurrah! At last, I’m back out on the street (that made me sound like a desperate hooker, didn’t it? Hmm.)

The snow has mostly melted away — the only bits I saw were the huge lumps that have been rolled to the sides of Clifton Down here and there, as pictured, transitory snow-boulders that stand as a monument to what once was.

Running really is a great way of exploring new music. I’ve just started to get into Kenickie, about twelve years after they split up, which is often the way with me. Left to my own attention-deficit-disorder devices at home, I’ve mostly been playing two tracks, Acetone and Punka, from their first album, At The Club, over and over again.

Out jogging, though, I happily listened to the album all the way through, almost twice, getting deeper into other tracks, and finding other ones I love, like People We Want, while being slightly perturbed by lyrics from others, like PVC (“Oh PVC! It’s my favourite plastic! Cos it’s nice and shiny! And completely waterproof!”)

Anyway. Yes. Running, this blog’s meant to be about running isn’t it?

So, today I figured I’d take advantage of the sunshine and jog up to Clifton Village and around the Downs. I wanted to do more than a perfunctory 5K, but I figured 10K would be a bit much for the first run in two whole weeks.

So, I nipped up Bridge Valley Road, keeping it nice and slow so I’d have some energy, then just went all the way around Clifton Down and back into Clifton Village (details here on RunKeeper.) As luck would have it, this got me to my usual finish point at exactly 7.00 kilometers, which was a pleasingly round number and just the right length.

It was a lovely day, and it was a good run, and I’m glad to be back out there after a couple of boring weeks on the exercise bike. I may pay for it a bit tomorrow, but at least I remembered to stretch this time…

Anyway. Much as I love snow, it’s pretty incompatible with running, so let’s hope it stays warm for a while! See you soon…

Get Running!

Seeing as my snowbound exercise regime is so limited at the moment, I figured I’d post some news about the iPhone app that got me started with running!

I hadn’t done any proper exercise for a couple of years. I’d given up karate following a snowboarding injury that kept me out of the dojo for six months, and an optician’s warning that I was at risk of detached retina, so I shouldn’t  “do anything stupid like taking up boxing.”

Then my friend Benjohn asked me to put a quick website together for his first iPhone app, called Get Running. Based on Josh Clarke’s “Couch to 5K” plan (“C25K” for short), it’s designed to get people running from scratch. I wrote some marketing for Benjohn, played with the application a bit — then pretty much decided that if I was going to be involved with the project, I should really, you know, run.

So, back in July, I started following the plan. The thing I most liked about Get Running was that it was simple. Everything was done for you. You kicked off whatever music you thought would get you going, started the app, and pressed the “Run” button. After that, you just followed the instructions. The nice voice (Benjohn got his friend Clare into a recording studio, I think) told you to walk for five minutes to warm up, so you walked. It told you to start running, you started running. It told you you were halfway through this bit of running, you were grateful. It told you to switch back to walking for a while, you walked.

At the halfway point, it told you to turn around, so you turned around and headed back home, all the time guided and encouraged by the voice. In the first release of the app, the instructions were a little difficult to hear over the music, so Benjohn worked on that, and it now fades the music down, speaks to you, and fades the music back up. It’s really slick.

And at the end of the run, it would update its little “Progress Path”, a sweet scrollable graphic at the bottom of the app’s home screen, and show you how far along the plan you’d got, and which day would be best to run next.

Because Get Running did everything else for me, all I needed to do was get out on the days it told me to get out, and do exactly what it told me to do. And before I knew it, on the first of October last year, I’d finished the C25K plan. I was a runner. Or at the very least, I was a jogger!

And that’s how I got started. Since then, I’ve run 10K in training at least twice, I’ve learned to run up stupidly long, steep hills, and I’ve entered my first race. I’m fitter, I’ve lost some weight (I would say I’d lost half a stone, but Christmas helped me put some of it back on!) and I’ve taken at least a couple of really good photos that I wouldn’t otherwise have got, because I’d have been sitting on my backside at home, rather than jogging past the Clifton Suspension Bridge, or around Durdham Down.

Today Benjohn released a new version of Get Running on the iTunes Store. It does everything the old one does, but has some bug fixes and a cool new feature — it can post status updates to Twitter and Facebook, too. You can edit the status text before sending it off, and you can even have it use whatever Twitter client you prefer using on your iPhone, if you do that sort of thing.

I don’t think this is just a gimmick — public commitment and public updates of your progress are a great way to keep yourself going. That’s the reason I started this blog in the first place!

So, if you’re thinking about starting running, even if you’ve never run a step in your life, then Get Running! It got me started, and I loved the feeling of running my first 5K. At £1.19, on the UK store, at least, it seems like a bargain.

The Big Thaw

Hopefully the last photo-less and indoorsy post for a while! There’s a thaw on, and while the slush outside has kept me on the bike tonight, Sunday looks hopeful for a snow-free day with a gap in the big rain that’s impending.

In the meantime, another 35 mins on the exercise bike. Dull, but necessary, I guess. I bumped the resistance up a notch this time, and it felt a bit more like a workout.

Quickie

Just another quick update: it’s still icy out there, but I’m keeping up the “doing some exercise” momentum. Just finished another 35 minutes on the exercise bike, this time distracted by The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which seems suitably entertaining. And remarkably close to the original.

Anyway. It was dull enough to do, let alone talk about, so that’s my update 🙂