Simple 5K

Today I stopped my post-Bath Half lazing around and started my seven-week countdown to the Bristol 10K by nipping out for an easy 5K up Bridge Valley Road and around a bit of the Downs.

It felt ploddy, and I really wasn’t feeling the joy, even though the weather was unusually sunny (i.e. it wasn’t pissing down, as it mostly has been for the last six months, it seems.) It’s possible I’m still recovering from the Bristol Beer Festival, which is where I spent Friday evening.

Oh well. At least it was better than not running.

Getting Longer

Carrying on with the training regime for the Bristol Half, I nipped out this morning for my first 10K jog for a while.

Apart from the humidity and the occasional overly-muddy section of towpath (yes, surprisingly, it’s been raining in England again recently…) it went well.

I was taking it easy. I stopped for a breather halfway up the hill, and to snap a couple of photos, including one of a bloody great yacht about to sail through Junction Lock at high tide, so I’m not too unhappy with an hour and a half.

I’ll leave you with a snap of Hotwells from my warm-up walk 🙂


Bristol 10K 2011

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The Bristol 10K was my first race, this time last year. It’s a good, fun race, with a whole lot of people — 9,000 finished this year — and it’s right on my doorstep. It only takes me twenty minutes to get to the start line, and then we run right back past my flat and run out along the Portway, my default jogging route.

Last year I ran the whole way around with my friend Mike. This year I did it solo (though Mike met me at the end to take me for our now-traditional post-race Rocotillos milkshake!)

Running solo, and having done two half-marathons in the meantime, the race felt quite different from last year. For a start, I wasn’t the least bit nervous. Once you’ve done 21K a couple of times, a 10K is distinctly less intimidating.

It felt significantly easier, in fact, all the way around. I kept up a very steady pace, except for putting on a bit of speed here a couple of times to see what it felt like (not that sustainable, sadly!) And I just kept going, knowing I had plenty of distance in reserve, and enjoying the atmosphere.

And the costumes. The team (I’m guessing husband and wife) who jogged past as policeman and convict, joined with handcuffs; the “three amigos” with their sombreros and inflatable horses (mules?); the breasts bobbing along for breast cancer, and the Royal Engineers (I think), in uniform rather than costume, who did it with big heavy packs on. Crazy people.

On the downside, I don’t know whether it was lack of speed practice, lack of a running partner, or just the extra weight I’m carrying this time around, I came in at 01:11:15, which is 1 minute 47 slower than last year’s time. Still, that’s just motivation to train a bit harder for next year’s race!

On the upside, I’ve raised at least £135 for St. Peter’s Hospice, thanks to some generous donations from lovely people. Work will double that, so that’s a very decent £270 minimum for the hospice. Thank you, most excellent sponsors!

The next big race I’ve got planned will be the Bristol Half Marathon in September. I need to knuckle down and do some training and lose some weight for that! Maybe I can beat my personal best from the Bath Half…

I’ll leave you with a picture of my 10K medal, as it’s a really nice one — much more decorative than last year’s! I’m really building up quite a collection now…

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Run-Up to the 2011 Bristol 10K

It has not been a brilliant run-up to the Bristol 10K. I feel pretty good, mind you, and I’m sure there’ll be no problem doing it. But I’d had hopes of losing more weight (I’ve plateaued since I was ill a few weeks ago. I’m well now, just not back on the wagon.) And I should have run a bit more, recently.

I would say that things keep on getting in the way, but let’s face it, a quick practice run takes about 40 minutes, and I’m sure I’ve had more than 40 minutes of extra spare time in the last few weeks. I need to work on that, and figure out what’s going on. And practice getting back on the diet wagon when I fall off, too. Bah.

Anyway. The Bristol 10K. It’s this Sunday! I’ve just kicked off my donations page at Just Giving, which you can find here if you’d like to help the lovely people at St. Peter’s Hospice. And my day-job employers have very kindly agreed to match the money I raise, up to a maximum total of £250, so at the moment, anything you give counts double 🙂

My aims for this year? Well, I’d like to beat last year’s time. I’m not sure how realistic that is, as I don’t seem to have got much faster over the last year, but it’s good to have an aim, isn’t it? Last year’s time was 1 hour, 9 minutes and 28 seconds, so anything faster than that will probably make me happy.

I’ll almost certainly be running with RunKeeper, so you can track me as I go around, if you’re interested. I’ll be starting some time between 9:45 and 10am, and you should be able to see a red dot moving around a map of Bristol on my RunKeeper profile page between then and whenever I finally stagger over the finish line.

I’m sure I’ll post an update here after the event, so — more to follow on Sunday!

My First Race: The Bristol 10K

20100509-20100509-P1000324.jpgSo, having checked I’d got everything about three times, I set off this morning to walk down to the start of the Bristol 10K. Everything was very civilised and well-organised. I got a preview of what was to come by walking in through what would become the “handouts at the finish” section, where they were already stacking up space blankets, laying out trays of water bottles, and building the T‑shirt racks.

The race “village” was centred on Millennium Square, which gradually filled up with a huge crowd of what turned out to be more than 10,000 runners. And that’s a lot of Deep Heat fumes, believe me. Everyone seemed friendly, the queues to drop bags off were nice and short, and I soon found a few people from work who were running, too.

Bumping into my colleagues pretty much set the whole race up. I formed up into the big queue for the slower starters — the race got going in a couple of consecutive streams — alongside some of them, including my friend and erstwhile boss Mike. As we filed toward the start, first shuffling, then walking, then at a slightly unsure, crowded jog, we stayed together. We agreed we’d go at our own pace, and if it felt like we needed to fire our iPods up and blast on ahead, or slow down and walk for a bit, that was fine, and we’d split up guilt-free and maybe meet at the end.

But, as it turned out, Mike and I run at pretty much the same pace. My carefully-selected iTunes playlist fell by the wayside because I never felt the need for music. We just jogged along, nattering occasionally, keeping each other company while enjoying the unusual experience of having random people cheer us on every now and again.

The race headed out of Bristol along the A4 Portway, under the Suspension Bridge, turning back towards the city centre again at the 4K marker. On the return leg, I heard my friend Tara cheering me along, which was fab 🙂 I was feeling fine; the weather was pretty much perfect for running, cool and overcast, but not too cold, and with no rain. And it was fantastic to run along the A4 without any traffic to get in the way, or any fumes to spoil the Avon Gorge air.

We struggled up the short and sharp uphill section of flyover to cross over the water and come down on the south side of the water, to complete the loop around the entire harbour and back to the finish line. This was the bit where things started feeling a little harder. Cumberland Road, that runs in a straight line along the south side of the harbour and the north side of the river, is a long road with a slight incline, and the main thing that kept us going was the encouragement from small pockets of cheering people, and passing the 7 and 8K markers. That was definitely the bit where we just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other and not much else.

Once we got closer to the city centre again though, things got easier. The roads were lined with people, lots of support and cheering, banners, kids, people shouting out to friends they were waiting for — it was a proper welcome. We crossed over Prince Street Bridge — again, nice being able to do that without worrying about traffic — and passed the 9K marker just as we hit the Centre. Lots of music and cheering by this point, and we just kept on going.

20100509-20100509-P1000330.jpgComing up to the end, Mike said to me, “Sprint finish!” and upped the pace. I’d not even thought about that; I was in a bit of a steady-pace trance, but I followed his lead and we crossed the line together!

On the whole, it was definitely a much more sociable experience than my normal long-distance runs. Not that I seem to be affected too much by the “loneliness of the long-distance runner”, but running with 10,000 other people, and one running partner in particular definitely felt pretty good.

It also seemed to do good things for my pace. The official times aren’t in yet, or at least not for the slow people like me. The front runner, Kenyan Gordon Mugi, managed it in a smidge under twenty eight and a half minutes, which seems almost inconceivably fast to me. But looking at my RunKeeper log, which seems pretty accurate, I think Mike and I managed to get through in around one hour and ten minutes, pretty much dead-on seven minutes per kilometre pace, which is a lot quicker than I normally manage on my distance runs.

But, frankly, if I’d taken an hour and a half I’d still have been happy: I’ve done my first race. I’ve been there, and got the t‑shirt, literally. And a medal. And race-pack with some goodies. And Jess, Mike’s wife, took us both up to Rocotillos on the Triangle to treat us to some extra-large, extra-thick milkshakes, which were bloody fantastic, and probably replaced every single calorie we’d just lost…

So, that’s my race report — I honestly can’t think of a single way it could have gone better. Looks like I’ve smacked through my charity target, too, with £275 raised on my Just Giving page, and somewhere between £50 and £100 to collect from the paper sponsorship form I’ve been hawking around work. That and the fact that my company is going to match the first £250 should see me hit somewhere around the £600 mark for St. Peter’s Hospice, which is ace.

Right. Think I’m going to have a nice bath to see if I can minimise any aches and pains for tomorrow. And pack my medal in my bag for the morning. Not, of course, that I want to show off. No, of course not. I just need to prove that I ran the race so I can collect the sponsorship money. And the best way of doing that is to take the medal into work. No showing off involved. Really. Ahem.

Medallion Man


Like I said in my last update, I fancied getting out for a nice long run this weekend, and this morning I made good on that.

I ran from home, out along the towpath under the Suspension Bridge, all the way to the far entrance to Leigh Woods, then up into the forest. I did a fairly big loop of the forest, then came out to head back across the Suspension Bridge into Clifton, then all the way around Clifton Down and Durdham Down, and back to Clifton Village.

All told, it was just over 15km, although I lost GPS signal for the last kilometre and a bit, so I can’t be certain. I manually fixed the route in RunKeeper, and it came out at 15.59km, which can’t be far out.

I also took out two new things: First, The Indelicates’ new album, Songs for Swinging Lovers, available right now for download — for the price of your choice, including “free” — from the Corporate Records website.

Second, my shiny new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP3 camera. So, I took a load of photos, too 🙂 They’re all here in this set on Flickr, but there were two I particularly wanted to post here, because they say quite a lot about my route. They’re both photos of the same place, the “Sea Wall” railings at the top of the Avon Gorge, at the edge of Clifton Down.

Here’s the first one, taken on my way out, about 2.5km into the jog. The railings are just about invisible on the skyline, at the top of the cliff:

Sea Wall I

And here’s one taken of the same railings, at the 10.5km mark, up close and personal:

Sea Wall II

So, yeah, think that gives some idea of the vertical height involved in my jog today, as well as the overall distance!

I reckon I can declare myself ready for the Bristol 10K. And it’s nice to have done roughly three quarters of a half-marathon, too 🙂 I don’t, on the whole, feel too bad, although I’m not entirely convinced I’ll be able to move tomorrow! I might give myself a few days off and not do a mid-week run until Thursday, this week. I think I deserve it!

Built for Comfort

Welcome to the 100th blog posting on Matt Gets Running 🙂 To mark the occasion, here’s a video of my (Good) Friday run, along the Avon Gorge towpath, up the hill into Leigh Woods, around a little detour—to reverse out of some of the worst of the mud I ran into!—and then back to the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Today I was planning on blogging about weight, and watching this video really underlines why it’s something I need to talk about. Because, fairly clearly, although I’ve been jogging for nine months, I’m still quite lardy.

In fact, I’ve not lost much weight at all. Since I started running, I’ve come from around 17 stone 7 lbs (245lbs, or 111kg) down to 16 stone 12.5 lbs. That’s a drop of 8.5lbs, or a smidge under 4kg.

That’s not to say that running hasn’t had a significant impact on my weight. Because before I took up running, I was slowly but steadily putting weight on, rather than taking it off. Goodness knows what weight I’d be by now if I hadn’t effectively reversed that trend, and all by getting out and running.

But I’ve come to realise recently that absolutely the best thing I could do to speed myself up, and to avoid injury, and reduce strain on my joints and muscles, especially my occasionally achey hip, is to lose more weight.

Now, I could run even more, which would certainly burn some more calories. But that’s unlikely to be too effective. A pound of weight equates to about 3,500 calories (kcal.) The longest run I’ve ever done was the 12K I did a few weekends ago. And, according to the RunKeeper log, that burned 1,437 calories.

Which is the equivalent of less than half a pound of fat. So even if I did two of those every week, on top of my normal runs, and changed nothing else at all, I’d lose less than a pound a week.

So, that doesn’t seem like the most efficient way of doing things. It may be time to mention the dreaded “D word”: diet.

Now, my normal diet is actually not too bad. I don’t eat too much unhealthy crap. I have a tendency towards eating cake after lunch at the weekends, but apart from that, my calories are generally coming from quite healthy food choices. I don’t eat junk, I don’t drink alcohol, I hardly ever eat chocolate bars. I’ve not eaten in a McDonald’s or a KFC since the 1990s. And even then it was probably under protest.

No. My problem is, quite simply, eating too much. My portions are too big.

I’ve been gradually chipping away at that a bit recently, using some simple methods — buying Kellogg’s Variety Packs for breakfast, for example, so there’s a pre-measured amount that’s easy to stick to. And cutting extras out of my lunchtime meal at work.

I’ve not really attacked my evening meal yet, or addressed my latte habit. And, most importantly, I’ve not actually deliberately tried to restrict my calorie intake to less than I need. I mean, my current eating habits appear to be sensible and sustainable, in that I’m still, very gradually, losing weight. So I’m clearly not eating more than I need to eat.

But if I want to make running a half marathon in September as easy as possible, the best thing I can do, apart from keeping up my training and gradually building up my distance, is to attack my weight through diet as well as through running.

I think a sensible goal would be to lose around a pound a week. Given that the half-marathon is on 5th September, around five months away, that would mean about 20 pounds. To give myself a nice “round” number — albeit in the antiquated avoirdupois scale I still cling to to measure my body weight — I’ll call my target weight 15-and-a-half stone, which is 217 pounds, or about 98 kilos.

So. That’s my target. Fifteen and a half stone by 5 September. And I’ll be blogging my progress with my weight along with my progress with the running. Who knows, possibly accompanied by pictures and video, you never know!

Have a happy Easter. Personally, in the greatest tradition of diets, I’m going to start mine after the holiday. In the meantime, where did I put that Cadbury’s Easter egg?

Bring me Sunshine…

IMG_0701 2.jpgYup, as you can see by the scene behind the scary, wonky-sunglassed weirdo in the picture, it was a really nice day today. And I went on a route through Leigh Woods, which was gorgeous.

Not content with doing the 8K through the woods like I did last time, going out along the towpath, up the steep climb into the woods, and back across to Clifton Village over the Suspension Bridge, I also added in a little loop of the Downs.

And therefore set a new personal distance record, with a 12K route. I decided to stop running at bang on 12K, mostly because that was the upper limit I’d set myself — I didn’t want to go beyond 20% of my previous max — and partly because that gave me a nice five-minute cool-down walk to the little viewing platform by the Suspension Bridge, where I stretched for a while with some nice scenery to look at.

My hip felt fine. Everything, in fact, still feels pretty good. And it’s very good to know that I can do 12K including about 200m of total vertical climb, because that should make running 10K on the flat a doddle in May.

About the only thing I did differently from normal today was to use a rehydrating additive thingy in my water — I guess it adds a few things that you lose in sweat that normal water doesn’t have — and I ate a pack of some kind of carbohydrate gel goo, which said “three berries” on the side and tasted mainly of chemicals, from what I remember, on the way across the Suspension Bridge.

I think these probably helped to some degree, but I think I could still have managed 12K without them. I figure I should start experimenting with these things, as if I find something that really gives me a noticeable energy boost when I’m flagging a bit, then it’ll help a lot for race day…

Running for Money

Hello, lovely readers! You’re looking great today. Have you lost weight?

Yes, you can tell I’m buttering you up for something, can’t you? Turns out that it’s only a couple of months until the Bristol 10K, which is happening on 9th May. My very first race!

So, as you might expect, I’m here, cap in hand, to ask for money. I’m running for St. Peter’s Hospice, a local charity helping people with incurable illnesses.

I’ve set up a Just Giving page to accept donations, and I’d love if if you could please pop along there and sponsor me.

It’s a worthy cause, and it’d help me run, too — I want to have something more than sore feet to show for this 10K, and making a donation to the hospice would be great.


Oh, and by the way: I love what you’ve done with your hair!

10K. Again.

PerchYup, went out and did another 10K today. Wasn’t entirely sure I was going to — if I’d not felt good I’d have cut it short — but it was fine. Nice and slow, up Bridge Valley Road, around the edge of Clifton Down to the Water Tower, a loop around Durdham Down, then back the way I came, in a kind of lasso-shape. As you can see on the RunKeeper map, if you want 🙂

About the only bad thing was that I finished off at my normal lamp post in Clifton Village at 9.85K, so I had to run a bit extra. I ended up on Royal York Crescent, which at least has a nice view!

On the way I passed this crow, hanging out by Sea Wall, who looked vaguely photogenic. Looks better bigger.

Anyway, that’s all for today! It’ll probably be another fairly quiet week, this week, as I’m sure I’ll need a few days to recover!