Music Free Zone

Today was never going to be a great run. The end of a long week, and a boring, slightly frustrating day at the end of the long week. Still, I got out there.

Today I tried an experiment, running to a spoken-word podcast instead of music. Tonight I ran to an episode of Pseudopod, the horror fiction podcast. Pseudopod is excellent — and I also highly recommend its sister SF podcast Escape Pod.

The episode that happened to be next in my queue tonight, though, didn’t end up appealing greatly to me, either for its story or for its reading, which was a shame, but I got through my run anyway.

Apparently there wasn’t any big effect on my time, though, as the RunKeeper log shows. I kept up a nice, steady pace, and got through 5km in 35 minutes.

I’m going to have to try this experiment again, maybe with Escape Pod — SF appeals to me more generally than horror does, so my chances of getting a story I like are slightly higher.

And at some point, I should try the scary option — going with nothing at all. No music, no words, just me and my feet and my breath. As someone who pretends toward Buddhist leanings, this should be a good opportunity for something similar to the practice of walking meditation. Which may be why it scares me; meditation can be such hard work…

Anyway. Sorry if this is a bit random and disjointed today. Like I said, long week. Hopefully I’ll be up nice and early on Sunday for a decent run in the morning after a nice day of rest, at which point I may be more coherent.

Easy, Tiger!

Today I decided to take it easy. I’ve been pushing myself a bit recently, going up steep hills, putting an extra kilometre on a run, going a bit faster. I figured I deserved a break.

So, rather than take a night off, I figured I’d just go back to the very end of the C25K and see how it felt. So, I ran just 30 minutes, along a flat route. In daylight.

And it was lovely. A really nice, easy run, exactly what I wanted. And, I think unlike most of the previous runs I’ve done, I’m now actually fit enough to follow that advice: that you should be able to hold a normal conversation while you’re running.

Not that I did, mind, as I was running alone, and the passing cyclists might have thought I was a bit odd. But it was good to realise I had the option 🙂

Anyway. At the weekend I’ll do something more challenging, maybe bouncing up to the Downs again. There’s more incentive when I know there’s a coffee shop open at the end of the run!

Misty Morning

I did something unusual today: got out first thing in the morning for a run.

I managed it — just a standard 5K along my old towpath route — but I wasn’t really feeling the love. I don’t know whether that’s because I’m not used to jogging at 9am, or whether it’s just because I was cold and not watching my pace too well at the beginning. Certainly the RunKeeper log shows that my pace was a complete mess.

Apart from the actual running itself, though, everything went well. That sounds weird, but I felt pretty good when I’d finished, I got an awesome photo with the new camera just past the halfway point, and I’ve felt pretty energetic and cheerful all day. Also, it looks like the run, while it felt crap, may have been my fastest 5K yet, at under 34 minutes.

So, hoping it was just because it was bloody freezing when I set off, I’ve now bought myself a couple of winter running tops from TK Maxx. That’s a good tip for the fat runner, by the way: running shops only seem to stock stuff for skinny, fit people. TK Maxx has plenty of good stuff in lardy sizes, too!

Anyway. I’ll leave you today with a photo of the Clifton Suspension Bridge an hour or so after sunrise. This one was definitely worth the jogging.

Rays

It’s All Uphill From Here

So, tomorrow I should do another run, if I’m going to keep up my normal pattern. And I think I’ve decided what I’m going to do.

It’s time to tackle something different. Something terrifying.

A hill.

Those of you who know Bristol know that it’s mainly hills, in fact. There’s not many flat bits, and you can rarely get from one bit of Bristol to another without going up or down a hill.

I’m lucky, being down by the harbour, that there’s a few flat routes I can take from my place. So I stuck to those for the C25K. One challenge at a time, I figured.

But now the hills are calling. Specifically, Bridge Valley Road, which the Bristol Running Resource calls “a fantastic hill”.

But then that was probably written by someone who can already run up hills 🙂

Bridge Valley Road runs from the A4 Portway, where I’ve been running recently, right up to the Downs, a huge area of pleasant grass with all sorts of nice routes for a runner. The only teensy drawback is that it also runs from river level up to the height of the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

This might be a bit more than I can chew, even if I take it in slow, bite-sized steps1. Nevertheless, if I can eventually get good enough to run up it, then it’ll (a) make for some bloody good training, and (b) add the whole of the Downs to my potential running area.

So, tomorrow morning, I’m going to give it a go. If it goes well, I’ll report back. If it goes badly, please donate what’s left of me to medical science.

  1. excuse my mixed metaphors []

The Dying of the Light

Tonight was a bit of a slow plod. I had a low point on the way out, somewhere near halfway, where I was just dragging my body through the motions, and feeling pretty heavy with it.

But I persevered, mostly with the help of PJ Harvey’s astounding Mercury prizewinner Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, which is one of my favourite albums of all time. It would be perfect without the whiny Thom Yorke guest track in the middle, but luckily I excised that from the playlist 🙂

Sometimes, it seems, you’re just not in the mood. Maybe it was the long day at work, maybe it was that this is likely to be my last weeknight jog along the (unlit) towpath, as it was near sunset when I got back.

Still, if you can run anyway, then at least there’s a sense of achievement at the far end.

Hopefully the next run will be more bouncy. And as this one was Week 9, Run 2, then it’ll also be the official last run of the C25K plan!

Reward

I’ve decided what my reward’s going to be for getting to the end of the C25K. I’ve been needing a new compact camera for a while now. My venerable Konica-Minolta DiMage X‑60 was a good first digital camera, but it’s now battered, bruised and lacking in battery staying-power.

Not only that, but at 5 megapixels with a not-so-hot lens, pictures from it are looking pretty rubbish compared to many modern compacts.

I’ve seen a few good views while I’ve been out running that the rubbish camera on the iPhone couldn’t do justice. And while I have got a much better camera, it’s an SLR (a Canon EOS 400D), and not the kind of thing I want to take jogging with me.

So, a shiny new camera that takes good pictures and is light and small enough to take along in a pocket or a bumbag seems like an appropriate reward for getting running. And maybe it’ll help spice up the pictures on this blog a bit…

Statistical Significance

I’m not very quick at this running lark. To be fair, I’m not that quick at walking; I think I’m just a generally slow mover 🙂

I just plotted yesterday’s run using the sweet little GMap Pedometer site. The running bit of yesterday’s route turned out to be 1.6 miles, so at twenty minutes, that means I’m averaging 4.8mph.

As 1.6 miles is around 2.6 kilometres, that means that at just over the halfway point of the C25K, I’m running just over halfway to 5 kilometres, so I guess that everything is as it should be!

Humbling to note that the fastest humans on the planet are managing around 30mph now, but then I have no intention of being the next Usain Bolt 🙂

A Brief Note About Rewards

It pays to reward yourself when you’ve accomplished something. My main problem is that food is often a reward for me, which is a little counterproductive when you’re trying to lose weight 🙂

So, to mark the halfway point, I just dug into my savings and ordered myself a microphone I’ve been uhmming and ahhing about buying for a few months. (The Rode NT1‑A, for those home recording geeks in the audience.)

I should probably figure out a reward in advance for when I hit the end of the C25K. Might give me a little extra motivation, anyway…