On A Whim

IMG 6666The television coverage of the London Marathon should have been a great inspiration to go jogging on Sunday. Unfortunately I was watching it from behind a hangover, on a sofa quite a long way from home.

I did, in the end, struggle out for a run on Sunday, but it was just a desultory jog around the local area, more so that I could say I’d been out than for any other purpose.

This evening, feeling a bit guilty, I headed out down the Portway to get in one of my midweek 5Ks, and passed this sign. On a whim, I thought, “well, five miles isn’t that much further than five kilometres…”

So, I ran to Sea Mills station and back. It was a good run. The rain stayed away and I got to jog along the river at twilight, which is always nice.

I also put some music on, instead of the podcasts I’ve generally been listening to while running recently. Back when I started running, I listened to music all the time. Speech Debelle’s first album, Speech Therapy, got me through a lot of my early runs.

Tonight I headed for harder territory and spun up the shiny new Fields of the Nephilim live album, Ceromonies. It was excellent running music. The power of Psychonaut pushed me through an uphill stretch, the (not-usually-to-my-taste) more metallic Shine had me sprinting between lamp posts, and it turns out my standard longer-distance lope is pretty much in time with Trees Come Down

So, a bit of a wobble last week, missing a run and being too hungover for any distance on Sunday, but this week is off to a good start 😀 I’ll try to get out again on Thursday, I reckon.

New Year’s Resolutions: Journeys, not Destinations

Hilltop

I’m ill. Which is fine. I’d specifically planned to do bugger-all during the period between Christmas and New Year, and if you’re going to loaf about unshaven for a few days, you might as well fit a cold in while you do it.

It helps that — so far — it’s just a regular winter lurgy of a sore throat and a run-down feeling, not hideous full-blown flu. Hopefully it won’t get too much worse, or last more than a few days. And the enforced slowing down gives me a chance to reflect on my running, my general fitness, and my plans for the year ahead.

Like many, I think about resolutions at this time of year. Last week, I was at Avebury for the Winter Solstice, there for the dawn, to see in the turning point toward longer days. It seems a good time for looking forward as well as back.

But you have to be careful about resolutions. As Merlin Mann observed in the latest Back to Work podcast, people tend to be a little binary about new year’s resolutions. And it’s possible that that’s especially true of programmers, like myself. “I’ll run three times a week”, I think to myself, “Just like I used to.”

But how realistic is that? To go from — given my last few weeks’ record — no runs a week, straight to three? And how much of a fall am I setting myself up for if I don’t do three runs a week in the first week of January? If I haven’t done three runs a week, then my resolution’s “failed”, and there’s always that tendency to think, “well, I might as well give up, then.” Failed or succeeded, true or false: binary thinking.

Also, how realistic am I being about my past performance? Well, luckily, I have RunKeeper’s “FitnessReports” feature, so I can easily check. In 2010, a good year for running for me, I actually only averaged 1.3 runs per week. And that was a good year. So my initial “I used to do three runs a week” was, in fact, utter rubbish. Sure, there were some weeks where I did three runs, but not many. I think nostalgia has me mentally inflating how “good” I used to be.

So, what to do instead?

The question seems to be answering itself. I resolve to run every week in January. At least once. Just to get myself started again. That’ll be more runs in a month than I’ve managed for ages, but still sounds very achievable. And if I don’t manage that, I won’t count myself a failure, either. I’ll just look into why I didn’t manage it, forgive myself, and figure out a way to keep trying.

And I’m not going to worry about the weight, yet. You can easily cram too many resolutions into a new year, spreading yourself too thinly across all of them. I’ll have a think about the weight and my eating patterns when we get to February. For now, I’m just going to run.

How about you? Got any resolutions? How realistic are they? Do you have any hard evidence that you’ve ever been as “good” as you’re planning to be? (Looking back at my own records surprised me!) And are you setting yourself up for that “oh, I didn’t manage this exact goal, so there’s no point in carrying on trying” moment?

Or are you prepared to forgive yourself and make adjustments as you go along?

Arcade Fire

Things I found out on my run last night: 1) It was cold. 2) My hip aches. 3) I was tired. 4) I don’t much care for Arcade Fire.

Still, I think it was probably important to drag myself out, reluctantly, for my first mid-week run of the year. I’ve got to build some momentum back up somehow. I got out on Sunday, too, but I didn’t have time to blog about it, being mostly knee-deep in books all weekend as I did some early spring cleaning.

And so I slogged through 5K, despite wanting to stop a few times and walk for a while. I also had to shut off the aforementioned universally acclaimed album, because it was so bloody dreary I started considering throwing myself in the river. The Suburbs just sounds like a dull version of OMD crossed with the Human League to me.

Instead of chucking myself in the Avon I switched to Medollic’s new album, which was far better jogging material. Not entirely my cup of tea — they’re rather too perfect for my shambolically-attuned ears, and tracks like Dollhouse, the title track, are far too straight-up rock for me — but Fable, a list-song in a very American/Canadian-Female-Singer-Songwriter-stylee, if you know what I mean, hit the spot, among others.

Anyway. First cold, dark mid-week jog of the year under my belt, and hopefully I’ll be heading on in the right direction and building back up my distance for the Bath Half. Which is in about five and a half weeks’ time now. Gah!

Playlist

My playlist for tomorrow. I won’t get through all of this, because there’s two-and-a-half hours of music there. It’ll be on shuffle.

Song Artist
America The Indelicates
The 32nd Of December Babyshambles
Science Monkey Swallows The Universe
Spinnin’ Speech Debelle
Acetone Kenickie
Arcady Peter Doherty
Albion Babyshambles
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band The Beatles
A Dog’s Life Nina Nastasia
Exit Route Thea Gilmore
Live And Learn Speech Debelle
Ain’t Goin’ To Goa Alabama 3
Entertain Sleater-Kinney
Nancy Boy Placebo
Pipedown Babyshambles
What Katie Did The Libertines
Unbilo Titled Babyshambles
Brother 52 Fish
Can’t Stand Me Now The Libertines
Boys Don’t Cry The Cure
Searching Speech Debelle
She Bangs The Drums The Stone Roses
A’Rebours Babyshambles
The Love Cats The Cure
Better To Know The Indelicates
Northern Star Hole
Dy-Na-Mi-Tee Ms. Dynamite
Portobello Belle (Live) Dire Straits
Beg, Steal or Borrow Babyshambles
What Became Of The Likely Lads The Libertines
Tunnel Of Love Dire Straits
Punka Kenickie
36 Degrees Placebo
Feelgood By Numbers The Go! Team
Savages (Acoustic Version) The Indelicates
Paparazzi Lady Gaga
Dog Days Are Over Florence & The Machine
Skinny Little Bitch Hole

Simple Sunday

Nice and easy today, after last weekend’s 12K effort. I was meeting friends at Bristol Zoo at 11, so I had to get up early to get running first. Which I did manage, despite the best efforts of the LUNs — my shorthand for my Loud Upstairs Neighbours — who managed to wake me up at ten to three this morning. They weren’t actually as loud as usual, so I managed to stuff some earplugs in and get back to sleep, thank goodness.

So, I got out before half past nine, and did a simple short route up the currently-closed-to-traffic Bridge Valley Road. Thanks, Bristol City Council, for the complete lack of pedestrian signage, and unsarcastic thanks to the fellow who exited the bottom of the road as I was starting up it, who let me know that I’d actually be able to get all the way to the top…

And that was my 5K. The RunKeeper log is a bit rubbish at the end, because I seemed to lose GPS signal for the last kilometre, but I’ve done the route before, and it’s definitely a smidge over 5K. My pace was about normal for a hilly route, around 8 minutes per kilometre, and it felt absolutely fine.

I finished off with a coffee-and-croissant breakfast from the ever-friendly Boston Tea Party, then came home to start my day with a shower — almost completely backwards from the normal course of events! And that was my simple start to Sunday. Another day, another 5K

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!

Simple Seven

20100221-20100221-IMG_0644.jpg

I went to a cocktail party last night. Even though I don’t drink, it meant I was up until about 2am, so I didn’t drag myself out for a jog until about half past one today. Bit of a contrast from last week’s 7am enthusiasm!

Anyway, to get myself going, I downloaded Lady Gaga’s album The Fame Monster — currently on Amazon UK at the bargain price of £3 — and got out into the spring sunshine.

As I was tired and a bit headachey — must have been the guava juice — I kept it slow and steady and didn’t go too far. It felt pretty good, though, once I’d got up Bridge Valley Road and got going, and I decided to do a bit more than I’d planned, looping around Durdham Down to finish at just a smidge over 7km.

This makes up a bit for not running on Friday, I suppose. Looking at my stats over the last six months, Friday is the day of the week on which I tend to run least, coming in just below Monday. I think I should therefore be a bit more realistic about planning to run on Fridays, and maybe try heading out on Tuesday and Thursday if I want to go out twice during the week…

Anyway. Finished my 7K, went and got some lunch from Boston Tea Party, who are always lovely and friendly and do great coffee, and then wandered home along Royal York Crescent, which is today’s picture. This came straight from the iPhone, put together in camera from three shots, using Debacle Software’s Pano App.

I Love the Taste of Croissant in the Morning

IMG_0609 2.jpgI don’t exercise in the morning. I’m just not a morning person. Virtually all my running is done in the evening, or, at the very earliest, lunchtime, at the weekends.

So. A bit odd, then, that this morning I woke up just before the alarm clock did that quiet little *clonk* it does when the alarm’s not actually switched on, and thought, “Hmm. I fancy a jog.”

Even more odd, I actually went and did it. None of the stats look unusual on the RunKeeper log. 7K in 56 minutes, a little under 8 minutes per kilometre — slow, but not unusual when Bridge Valley Road is involved. What’s unusual is that the run started at just past 7am on a Sunday morning.

It made a nice change, actually. I think I suffered a bit more towards the end than usual — there’s a final little incline I have to get up, and it seemed harder today. Maybe I was lacking blood sugar.

But on the whole, it was a pretty nice experience. I was out early enough to disturb some wildlife I don’t normally see — a cormorant, for example, flapping away to the other side of the river as I bounded past, and the crows, yet to be relegated to the sidelines by the Sunday football leagues, pulling their stringy breakfast from the Downs.

And I finished on an unexpected bonus, too: I’d expected a pitfall of the early start to be a lack of coffee at the finish line, but once I’d passed my three usual suspects for a post-run drink — Coffee #1, Chandos Deli, and Boston Tea Party — I stumbled across Caffe Nero, who open at 8am every Sunday. Not only were they open, they wished me a happy Valentine’s Day as soon as I walked in, which was a nice touch.

So, in the absence of any decent photos — it was a dull, grey dawn this morning — here’s some product placement. I think they deserve it 🙂

PS: I went out for a simple 5K on Wednesday, but didn’t have time to blog about it. But I’m keeping up the momentum, honest!

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…

You should watch — watch your step…

…don’t look out you’re going to break your neck.”

The Primitives’ fab 1988 single, Crash, poured some good advice out into my headphones as I ran this evening. Because it was bloody freezing.

IMG_0532 2.jpgLook, even my WeatherPro iPhone app said it was minus 0ºC. That’s like freezing, only even freezinger.1

Luckily, the ice seemed to be confined to the beginning bit of the run — I guess today’s sunshine must have melted anything that had built up on the Portway itself. And once I’d warmed up, which took about ten minutes, in my woolly hat and gloves, the running was fine.

I think I’m nearly back to normal, in terms of speed. I’m not sure the RunKeeper stats are particularly accurate today, as the app had to cope with a lot of interruptions — this is the first time I’ve had a phone call, a text, a Twitter mention and some email all come in during the course of a single run — but if it’s to be believed, I did 5K in 35 minutes, which is fine by me.

Anyway. The point of this week was to get the momentum back after the Christmas break, and this third run of the week means I’m back in the usual groove. I’m going to try to get out for three runs in the coming week, too, to make sure of that. But just in case it gets icier, I’ve also dusted off my exercise bike. It’ll be dull, but at least I’ll be keeping up with the exercise…

  1. Joking aside, WeatherPro is an excellent app, and I recommend it. []