Cycling Up The Road

IMG_0735 2.JPGCycling up Bridge Valley Road, to be precise. Steep.

Although it’s clearly not all the same muscles that get used by cycling and running, at least the aerobic fitness from running is transferable. I could never have cycled up Bridge Valley Road this time last year. Today, on a nearly 9K-cycle ride that took me up and around the Downs, I managed it without stopping. Albeit slowly. Maybe I’ve learned to pace myself a bit, too…

It didn’t feel like as much exercise as running even 5K, but at least it was some exercise, and it doesn’t seem to be aggravating my hip.

I’m going to give myself a couple of days’ rest and probably try a little jog at the weekend, just see how things are feeling.

On Wheels

IMG_0678 2.JPGMy left hip’s been playing up a bit recently. It’s been quite achey the last couple of days, possibly because of the amount of walking I’ve done, heading to Ashton Court and back for various bits of the Balloon Fiesta.

So, I figure I need a bit of a time-out, especially as I don’t want to aggravate it too much before the half marathon, which is three weeks today.

But, I don’t want to cut out on exercising, so when my friend Dave returned the bike I’d lent him — to tide him over after his got nicked a couple of weeks ago — it seemed like a bit of a sign. I’ve not been out on my bike for ages, at least a year, and it had just been languishing in the back yard gathering dust. Dave returned it sparkling and shiny and, importantly, having tested the brakes for me 🙂

Today’s RunKeeper log, therefore, isn’t actually a running log, but a cycling log. I did 10K, but that included a few pauses here and there. Not least of which was the first, caused by Bristol’s maritime side — there’s not a lot you can do if they’re going to slide the road to one side to let a boat go first.

It also included a bit of walking here and there — I don’t know Ashton Court very well, for example, so I managed to end up on one track that was really only passable by mountain bike; the tyres on my hybrid were just slipping around. Plus I took a wrong turn every now and again. Still, it’s all good exercise.

And it doesn’t seem to have aggravated my hip like walking there yesterday did.

Don’t know if I’m going to keep cycling swapped for running until the half marathon, but it might be sensible. Whatever I do, I’m going to have a look through the nice book on stretching my dad bought for me and see what it says about hips, because it could just be that it needs a good bit of regular stretching…


Bleh. That was one of those runs where I just knew I didn’t want to be running as soon as I started. It didn’t get much better, either, as I struggled fairly slowly through 5K. Still, at least I did struggle through. Sometimes just getting through it is enough.

I think it’s because I’m tired. Getting back to work this week has been a bit of a shock to the system after my break up in Windermere, plus I’m reading Iain Banks’s latest, Transition, and it’s difficult to put down of an evening, which isn’t helping!

Also, I’m getting a bit of pain from the arch of my left foot. Not sure what’s going on there. Nothing severe, just enough to make me worry a bit, as it’s been going on for a couple of weeks now. Hmm.

Anyway. I will probably take a break until the weekend, as there’s a Flickr meet tomorrow night and I hardly ever have the motivation to go running on a Friday evening…

Sore Feet

My feet seem to be a bit achey after running recently. It suddenly occurred to me that, even though it only seems like a few weeks ago that I bought a new pair of shoes, it might actually have been rather longer.

And that’s where a blog comes in handy. I first bought proper running shoes on 29 August last year. They seemed to do me okay until I started getting an achey hip and some other aches and pains in February this year. So, that’d be about five months.

It took me a while to figure out it was the shoes that were the problem, so I didn’t buy a new pair of Mizunos until the beginning of March. Which would have been, erm, about five months ago.

So, I’m thinking that maybe these are early warning signs that I’ve nearly worn out another pair of shoes. Especially as I’ve probably run more in the last five months than I did in the five months before, because I wasn’t doing that much long-distance stuff back then.

Hmm. Five months doesn’t seem long for a pair of shoes to last, but I’ve heard people say they replace their running shoes every six months. And I am heavier than your average runner. It may be time to treat myself again…

Back on the Road

Back to the A4 Portway for a nice simple 5K this evening. It was warm and close, and the wide open feel of the road felt like a better antidote than the pleasant, yet sometimes-claustrophobic towpath.

Just a token effort, really, my first since Thursday’s 21km epic, and I took it slowly. No problems, though.

In fact, looking back, I felt better after Thursday’s half-marathon distance than I did after the Bristol 10K, possibly because I took it slower and steadier. I was a bit of a wreck Thursday daytime, but I’d mostly shrugged off any aches and pains by Sunday, and even Saturday didn’t feel too bad.

So, I think all’s going well, generally. Might nip out for a perfectly normal weekend run this weekend, just 7K, or something. I’ll let you know 🙂

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?

The Eighties Are Coming to Get Me

IMG_0687 2.JPGI think the new shoes have done the trick. Something has, anyway, as tonight’s run was lots better than my last 5K effort down the Portway.

My hip feels fine, and I didn’t feel totally knackered from the get-go like I did last time, either. Which is all good. Even better, there were actually some traces of daylight left when I set out. It can only be a few weeks until I can get off the A4 and back onto the towpath on the other side of the river, away from the traffic and all the noise and fumes that go with it.

Tonight I used a playlist generated by Tangerine. I like Tangerine- and iTunes Genius-generated lists because they uncover things I never knew were in my music library.

This evening was no exception. There were some old favourites in there — although I really should put Madness’s Driving in My Car on the “not really for jogging” blacklist — but I had no idea that I even owned Madonna’s Love Profusion, Soft Cell’s Le Grand Guignol, or Placebo’s cover of Daddy Cool.

Back to recognisable stuff, my run finished off with a nice back-to-back blast from the 1980s, with the Pet Shop Boys’ It’s a Sin and One More Chance. I love It’s a Sin, but I was probably in my teens the last time I heard One More Chance… Ah, nostalgia.

Anyway. Probably won’t run on Friday, so I guess Saturday will be my next jog; then I might try to get out on Monday and Thursday next week to get back to my more normal three-times-a-week routine. Especially if it’s nice and light!

The Joy of Shoes

IMG_0666.jpgSo, picked up my new shoes on Friday — Mizuno Wave Inspire 6es — and walked lots in them yesterday to make sure they felt all right, and that nothing was rubbing.

And they were fine, so today I went out into the gorgeous Spring sunshine and did a simple 5‑and-a-bit‑K, just around half the Downs, cutting along Ladies Mile instead of doing my normal longer loop. I didn’t want to go too far, first time out in new shoes.

The new shoes definitely feel different — but they feel different like my old shoes did the first time I put them on, six months ago. I can feel them pushing my feet out a little bit, compensating for my tendency to over-pronate by pushing me a little more onto the outside of my foot.

So, hopefully what’s happened is what I suspected, that over the last six months my running shoes have gradually lost their magic as they’ve had seventeen stone pounded into them with every step, fifteen kilometers a week, and that’s what’s caused me to start aching a bit more recently. I’ll start to see if I’m right this week, if my mid-week run doesn’t make my hip ache so much. Hopefully it’ll feel easier than last week’s effort, too…