Back On the Road Again

Good news: I got back out for a little run last night. Even better news: mentally, at least, it was good. It wasn’t the struggle of the last two runs, so I reckon they may have felt bad just because I was going down with flu. It was just 4K down the Portway and back, and it rained on me on the way home, but it was generally fine.

The only thing letting it down was an ache from my lower back, on the left hand side. I’m pretty sure that the last time I felt this happening a lot, a pair of new shoes did the trick. Looking back, it was actually more than a year ago that I last bought new shoes. That definitely means I’m due some new ones, so they’re on the shopping list for the next time I’m heading past moti.

The other thing that would certainly help my back is, of course, the perennial need for me to lose some weight. Hopefully I can get back on track now I’m over my illness. We’ll see…

Losing Weight for the 10K

I don’t seem to be good at losing weight. Or rather, I’m not that bad at losing weight, but I’m also pretty good at gaining it, too. For the Bath Half, I was at the lightest weight I’ve been for any half-marathon I’ve ever done, I think; I am gradually reducing. But it’s very much a three-steps-forward-two-steps-back pattern.

This is bad, because if there’s one thing that would make me faster at running, and reduce my likelihood of injury, and have lots of health benefits, and so on, it’s getting a bit lighter.

So. Having had my post-half-marathon break, it’s time to get back to running. It’s also time, I think, to be a bit more formal about my weight loss than I’ve been over the last few years, and get some practice at consistently losing weight, rather than reducing for a few weeks, piling most of it back on, reducing again, and so on.

I’ve just added this little widget to my desktop:

Countdown Widget on Desktop

It’s a countdown to the Bristol 10K. Tomorrow there will be 49 days — exactly seven weeks — to go. If I were to carry on at my current rate, I’d probably only be a couple of pounds lighter by then. Instead I’m setting what should be a perfectly achievable target of losing seven pounds. If I manage that, I’ll be the lowest weight I’ve seen since I bought a Withings Body Scale a couple of years ago. And a few pounds below the weight I was for the last 10K.

The little desktop widget is part of my strategy. Being a programmer, I’m in front of the computer a lot, so that little widget should be a near-constant reminder of what my target is, and how long I’ve got to go. I’m hoping it helps, and I’m hoping I’ll think of a few more ideas to keep my mind on the weight loss.

I doubt it’s going to be easy. I’ll report back here each week, whether things are going well or badly, and maybe I’ll learn something, either way…

New Year’s Day

I didn’t run yesterday, on New Year’s Day. But I did hopefully set the tone for the year by getting out for some decent exercise. I went out with the vague thought of walking around the harbourside, and ended up doing nearly 10K around my preferred Leigh Woods route.

Hopefully that’s also started me off losing a bit of the Christmas weight I’ve put on. If I’m careful, it’ll all be gone again by the end of January…

Catch you in a day or two, with my first run of the year. In the meantime, here are a few pictures from yesterday’s walk.

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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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Balancing Act

IMG 2390I’ve got a problem at work. Well, okay, I have several problems at work, including the irritating fact I have to go there every day. But the problem I want to share today is the Problem of the Spare Desk.

Since our team moved floors a couple of months ago, I’ve had to sit next to the aforementioned spare desk. If you’ve not sat next to a spare desk before, here’s a picture of what they look like most of the time. Because pretty much every day, someone has a birthday, or is holding a bake sale for charity, or just feels like cheering people up because it’s Monday. Or because it’s Friday. Or because there’s a vowel in the month, or whatever.

And these things are all celebrated with calorie-dense, vitamin-free foods, all of which get put on the spare desk, of course. Today it’s Dan’s birthday and here are his doughnuts, shortbread, crisps, Haribo, rocky road, cocktail sausages, Oreos, cream cakes, and so on.

And I’ve had to sit next to the bloody things all day. While carrying on bravely with my diet.

I don’t think I ended up too many calories up, despite caving in to temptation in the afternoon. I didn’t buy lunch today, swapping it for occasional sugar-based grazing from the empty desk. And then this evening I ran 4K down the towpath. Hopefully, as well as starting to re-form the habit of weekday running, the 523 calories RunKeeper says I burned should cancel out quite a few shortbread biscuits.

So, on the whole, I think I got away with it.

But the next time our office has a re-shuffle, remind me to bribe the floor-planner, will you? I think that spare desks should only be put next to those irritating skinny people who can eat fifteen doughnuts a day without putting on an ounce.

Getting Out There

7048257f8fc1413c852bc886040aba1e 7 copyDespite being robbed of an hour in bed by the clocks going forward, I still managed to get out and do a 7.5K out along the towpath, through Leigh Woods, and back to the Suspension Bridge this morning. It was a nice day for a jog; cool but not cold, and rain-free. It’s been a bit hazy in Bristol these last two days, as you can see from this little Instagram snap from my walking warm-up.

However, I did have a couple of pauses in today’s run. One was accidental, and involved stepping on a rock that had passed under my “trip hazard” radar, but that was minor. The other was me running out of breath halfway up the hill into Leigh Woods. I guess this means my aerobic capacity still isn’t back up to what it was before I took December off.

This is partly because I’m still not back in the habit of weekday running, I reckon. This is a mostly psychological problem, I think, especially as we’re now into the season of longer days and warmer weather. So, this week, I’m gong to go running on Wednesday evening. I figure nominating a day in advance will help. Also, having a low bar to start with might also encourage me out, so I’m only going to do 3K. That sounds so easy that hopefully it’ll still sound easy on Wednesday evening after a tiring day at work…

On the weight front, things seem to be going well. It’s hard to tell for sure, though, as it’s only been a couple of weeks, and my weight can vary so much from day to day. But it looks like the overall trend is downwards. I guess I’ll know for sure after a couple more weeks…

Anyway. Nothing else to report. Enjoy the warmer weather if you’re getting it!

Weighty Matters


Avon Gorge, from Sea Wall
Avon Gorge, today 🙂

I’ve been taking it easy since the Bath Half, giving myself some recovery time, though I did manage to wander out for a 5K last Sunday, and a 5K today, too.

But my thoughts recently have been more on eating than on exercise. Because, despite taking up jogging, my weight has been remarkably static. Checking back to some numbers I captured on in August 2009, pretty much when I took up jogging, I can reveal the massive effect one and a half years of regular exercise has had on me: I have put on a pound.

A single, solitary pound. That’s the difference between my weight now and my weight back then. And not only that, but it’s a pound in the wrong direction.

So, yet again, I think I need to concentrate on my eating for a bit. The exercise is definitely doing me good, and I’m a lot fitter than I would have been without it, but at over seventeen stone, I clearly need to lose a bit of weight by adding some calorie control as well.

Being a geek, I have, of course, started off my diet by purchasing technology. I’ve bought a Withings Body Scale, a Wi-Fi-connected scale that will record, graph and share your weight. If you look over to the sidebar of this blog, in fact, you’ll see a (slightly ugly, sadly) weight widget that has probably got a pretty recent reading on it — which was sent directly here from my shiny new bathroom scale, a few seconds after I last stepped on it.

If you want to know more about the Withings, I’ve written a detailed review on my more geeky blog, here.

Also on the technological side, as suggested by my friends Hal and Rowly, I’m using to record my meals and stay below a set calorie limit.

My plan is to drop half a stone before the Bristol 10K in May, which should (a) be a realistic target, and (b) make sure I don’t feel quite so lardy as I plod around Bristol in front of hundreds of onlookers.

I’ll probably be trying to get out for at least a couple of runs a week from now on, just because the weather’s getting nicer — it was definitely Spring today! — and it’s lighter in the evenings, and I’ll just tag occasional progress reports on my weight onto the end of my normal “I’ve been for a jog” posts. And we’ll see how I do! Wish me luck…

Sunny Five

I didn’t hit the rainy streets last night, because I was knackered — didn’t sleep well on Tuesday night, for some reason. Still, today was a good alternative day for running, because it was gorgeously sunny. I took today’s picture on my warm-down after the run, with the sun still just above the horizon. Nice.

Just a simple 5K today, nothing special.

The weight loss is proving hard to start, but I’m still working on it. As with the running, I’m sure it’ll be easier to keep going once I’ve built up some momentum!


20100402-20100402-Zi6_0455 2.jpgWell, that was a bit muddy. My shoes are soaked. As you can see from the RunKeeper log, I went through Leigh Woods today.

I was going to take a different route from normal, but I got halfway through it and found the track so muddy that I actually had problems standing up on it, let alone walking or running. And there were assault-course-style downed trees across the path here and there, too. So I turned around and did my usual route instead.

This is one of my longer runs in terms of time, but not in terms of distance. That’s because I kept on stopping to shoot bits of video here and there. I may post the results at some point, if I can get over how fat I look in the footage.

I’ll be blogging about fat specifically fairly soon, by the way, as I’m planning to lose some weight in between now and the half marathon in September, and I think I should do it publicly. It seems to have worked for the running, in terms of keeping me going!

Anyway. Yeah, so, 9K today, through nice woodland, in a section of the Bank Holiday where it wasn’t actually raining much. Followed by lunch from Boston Tea Party 🙂

Have a good Easter, everyone!