Unlikely Speed

Yeah. Not entirely sure I believe the last few kilometres of RunKeeper’s log for today’s run:


Especially considering the pace over the last couple of kilometres measured around 1.5 minutes per kilometre. Although I suppose I would probably have needed that kind of speed to fly over the Avon Gorge and several tall buildings like that.

Still, not a bad run — I’m still doing the FitnessClass thing, which had me set to do just over 10K today, as an alternating run/walk. I reckon I probably did around 9K all told, but I was a bit stymied for knowing when to stop after the GPS gave out around the 7K mark. (It really died quite hard; in the end I had to turn the phone off and on again to get it back and working. Ho hum.)

In fact, I’ve just tried to correct the route manually in RunKeeper and it does seem to have worked out at about 9K. Good enough for me, especially as there was at least another kilometre of walk home on the end of that 🙂

This week I’ll really really try to do the two mid-week runs, rather than just the one I’ve been doing these last few weeks…

Into the Woods

Leigh Tree

A nice five miles through Leigh Woods today. It was another alternating walk/run according to the training plan thingy I’m following with RunKeeper, and that helped me up my running pace a bit. Well, apart from on the steeper hills 🙂

Today’s photo is from Leigh Woods. Leigh Woods is mostly National Trust-owned, and a National Nature Reserve, and therefore seems unlikely to be sold off (Sunday Telegraph article) under the upcoming flog-everything-that’s-not-nailed-down plans. But I’m definitely going to get there and appreciate the woods while I can, just in case.

A Return to Normal

After last Sunday’s disastrous couldn’t-even-run run, a happy return to normal this morning. I didn’t get out for a mid-week run — that plan got clobbered by a Flickr meet and going to see William Gibson at the Bristol Festival of Ideas. But I finally got out today, and did a very similar route to last weekend — just 5K up Bridge Valley Road, down Ladies Mile, and back to Clifton Village. Except this weekend I kept running.

So, who knows? Maybe I was tired, maybe I was dehydrated, maybe it was just Gyles Brandreth’s godawful performance on the News Quiz that I was listening to that put me off last Sunday. Whatever. I shall try to get out mid-week this week, as it looks like I’ll be too busy to run next weekend. So maybe I’ll do a couple of mid-week jogs if I can…

Getting Out There

I’m going to try to get out twice on weekdays this week, because it’s been ages since I’ve done that. I seem to have degenerated into a one-midweek, once-at-the-weekend pattern, mostly since the Bristol 10K. I think I need to start building the average miles up a bit again, and get out when I can.

Today’s jog was very much the same as the last, just 5K out along the towpath and back. It wasn’t a brilliant experience. It was muggy and I was tired, and I just got out there, did it and came back, stopping only to play with my new camera a bit.

New camera? Yes! To mark my first stone of weight loss since I took up jogging, I bought myself a better pocketable camera, this time going for the Sony Cybershot DSC-TX1, which is a nifty little thing, and may turn out to be better than my late, lamented Panasonic Lumix FP8. Only time and a few pictures in better light and better weather than we had tonight will tell.

It’s certainly better than the Lumix FP3 that I used as an intermediate replacement. I quickly learned to dislike the FP3, with its annoyingly useless touchscreen and rubbish, noisy image quality. What’s the point of 14 million pixels if six million of them are displaying sensor noise? Grr.

So, I think this is a good purchase, and a nice reward for losing 16lbs so far. Maybe if I lose another stone, I’ll get myself an iPad…

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…

But Is It Art?

Just went for a simple 5K along the towpath tonight, nice and easy. Although RunKeeper’s showing it as a slow 6K, because I included the warm-up and cool down, and forgot to stop the tracking when I’d finished the cool down…

Hotwells Spring

About the only thing of note — apart from the rather lovely view I spotted on the way back — was the lack of graffiti on the pedestrian ramp down to the towpath. It’s had some fairly offensive stuff on it for months, with the relatively recent addition of a swastika.

On last week’s run I took a photo of it — I’ll spare you the image itself — to remind me of it when I got home. Thus prodded, I found Bristol City Council’s graffiti reporting web page, and stuck in the details.

And sometime since last Wednesday evening, the council have painted it out, so I don’t have to look at it and feel mildly annoyed by it. Win! This being Bristol, home of some seriously good street art (and no, it’s not just Banksy), the council tend to be a bit more switched on to either extreme of the stuff-painted-on-walls spectrum, I guess.

The Day Before

Despite what I said last time, I didn’t get a chance to run last weekend, so I’ve had a full week off. Which feels fine to me.

And tomorrow, I run the Bristol 10K 🙂

I’ll be starting off in the second of the two groups — i.e. with the slow people, at the back — at 9:45 tomorrow morning. This is my first ever race. Not that I’ll be treating it as a race; there’s nobody I want to beat. I’ll be happy just to get around and to enjoy the shared experience of running with a whole bunch of other nutters, whether they’re the pros who I’ll only see passing me on their way back as I head out towards the Suspension Bridge, or the people in gorilla costume who I might stand a chance of keeping up with.

If all goes according to plan I’ll be using RunKeeper to track me as I go around, and if the technology works then you’ll be able to watch me run on a live map at my public RunKeeper page. Just visit the web page during the race and you’ll see where I am, and be able to watch a little dot crawl slowly around a map for an hour and a quarter. No, I don’t expect many avid viewers, but hey…

Anyway. I’m runner number 9210. I don’t know how long it’ll take me to get through the start, but I should be finished about an hour and a quarter after that. I’m really not sure how long it’ll take me, because I’ve never run 10K on the flat, or run with a bunch of other people before. But I’m sure I’ll be posting a post-run update sometime tomorrow afternoon, so I’ll let you know how I get on!


IMG_0909 2.JPGJust a very quick update tonight. I took last week off after my 15K effort last Sunday, but I got back on the road again tonight. It was a nice easy 5K out along the Portway.

I had intended to go down the towpath on the other side of the river, but I was confounded by the tide — at the moment, the lock gate replacement work on the harbour means that they’re just opening both the lock gates at high tide and letting through a backlog of shipping traffic — and if there’s anything tall, then the flyover has to move out of the way, too.

As you can just about see in the picture, that means there’s no way to the south side of the river while it’s happening! So, as I was in a hurry to get through my jog and head up to meet my friend Nicki at the Thali Cafe, I just headed out along the main road instead.

I’ll finish with a very quick restaurant review of the Thali Cafe in Clifton Village: three stars, would’ve been four if there’d actually been any lamb to speak of in the spiced lamb “special”. As it was, there was a small, solitary chunk of lamb hiding among a mound of chick peas… Ho hum.

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?

This May Be the Beginning of a Week Off

20100228-20100228-IMG_0654 2.jpgAs you know, I’ve been having problems with my hip — well, in fact my hip and the top bit of my left-hand gluteal muscle, or “upper arse”, as I believe it’s technically known. I reckon it may be down to shoes, so yesterday I went shopping.

In Moti, the advice was basically, “well, if you’ve done fine in those shoes for the last six months, probably best just to get this year’s version of the same shoes.” Which seems sensible. Unfortunately, they didn’t have my size in stock, so they’re having them sent along from another branch, and they won’t be around until Friday.

Which I don’t think is terrible news — John Bingham’s advice is to give aches a rest before they become actual pain and debilitation, so I may simply skip my midweek run(s) this week, and go out in my nice news shoes on Saturday, assuming everything goes to plan.

As I’ve noticed that my weekend runs don’t seem to give me anything like as much gyp — probably because they’re over more varied, and sometimes softer, surfaces — I went out today for my normal weekend run, and did 7K, which at least didn’t feel like it was making me ache me any more than I already ache, and certainly felt a lot better than Wednesday’s 5K.

Today’s picture is from the work being done to fit new lock gates at the Cumberland Basin end of the Floating Harbour. This is pretty important, as if the lock gates fail, the whole floating harbour could empty pretty suddenly. With some interesting implications for Bristol, bearing in mind it’s mostly the weight of the water that holds a lot of the harbour walls up…