Balanced Lifestyle

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Spotted on yesterday’s run. Luckily, I didn’t want to go that way 😀

Yesterday I knew I was heading for the Grain Barge’s Winter Beer Festival in the afternoon, so I figured I’d get out for some healthy exercise in the morning, at least.

As it turned out, I felt up to a 7K trudge down the Portway, and only had four halves at the beer festival, so I think yesterday counts as an overall win, at least in terms of calories…

For those into beer, I tried:

  • Butcombe Brewery’s Old Vic Porter
  • Bristol Beer Factory’s Bitter Californian
  • XT Brewing’s XT8
  • St Austell Brewery’s Ruck & Roll

My favourites were the hoppy and cheerful Bitter Californian, and the dark and complex XT8. Recommended. Not that many people will want beer recommendations from a running blog, but hey, I do also recommend that you run far enough first to balance out the beer. It leads to a less guilt-ridden morning after!

I’ll leave you with a picture I snapped from the Grain Barge about two beers in. It’s a nice place for a beer, that barge…

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I Aten’t Ded

Yes, not blogged for a while. Sorry. Blogging and running have both taken a bit of a back-burner, with both my fortieth birthday and the weather getting in the way a bit…

My last run was a while back. Last Friday, I at least went on a 10K photo walk through the fresh snow, which hopefully burned off a few calories. And looked a bit like this:


(There’s a few more of my Bristol snow photos here, if you’re interested.)

As I write this, this is the view from my back door:

…and I’m told it’s pretty slippery out, so I’m not nipping out for a jog just yet. But I will soon. Honest.

Spotting the Newbie Runner

Old and Newbie

Today I went out for my first run of the new year, just a simple 5K along the Portway. Along with the general jogging population were a few newbie runners.

It’s always good to see new runners, and this week — the week of New Year’s Resolutions — is the most common time to spot them. I guess people are doing lots of new things, this week. When I was a regular in a Wado Ryu dojo, the number of beginners in January was only surpassed by those weeks where The Karate Kid had been on telly.

Spot the new runner” is a fairly easy game. Most people don’t want to buy new gear for something they might find out they hate, so there’s a lot of almost-but-not-quite clothing around. Old fashion trainers rather than running shoes. Football tops. Shorts that just aren’t very… runnery, I suppose.

The more determined and well-off beginner might have popped out and bought all-new gear, so they’ll be shiny from their sports sunglasses to their Asics-tipped toes, crisp and clean.

But, old gear or new gear, there’s often the telltale beginner expression on the face. The “I can’t quite believe I’m doing this” look. The “I hope nobody I know drives past” look, sometimes, too. Though I hope I’m subtle enough in my spot-the-new-runner games to avoid triggering the “why is that weird bloke staring at me?” look…

It takes a while to look like a runner. An old hand will be wearing gear in various states of wear. Post-Christmas, there might be shiny new shoes, nevertheless comfy and reliable, as they’re likely just the next model along from the old ones. The shiny shoes might be trotting along below a pair of favourite shorts where the seam’s been re-sewn twice, because they’re comfy, damn it, and Adidas don’t make these ones any more.

There will often be accessories of learned necessity — that little pouch attached to the shoelaces, say, because manufacturers still barely believe that runners need pockets at all, let alone might want to keep their keys in a different pocket to their smartphone, so could want more than one…

The aforementioned keys will probably have been pared down to just one or two on a simplified jogging keyring, because jangling gets annoying after the first five miles, and because runners generally pare everything down to the minimum. A single key. An emergency fiver rather than a whole wallet. The least clothing they can get away with in today’s weather.

That’s often the look of a seasoned runner: spare. There’s an economy of equipment to go along with their economy of movement. Beginners tend to be carrying more stuff, wearing baggier clothes.

There’s a specific reason for me to play “spot the newbie”, of course. I recently wrote the Android version of Get Running, my friend Benjohn’s iPhone app that got me jogging in the first place, back in 2009. So if I see a newbie out on the street with headphones in, there’s a chance they’re using my code!

It’s a very slim chance, so far — the Android version of Get Running has only sold around 3,000 copies, and most of those were in our biggest market, the USA, so it’d be a pretty big coincidence if one of my users jogged past me in Bristol. But I’m hoping that one day I’ll see someone with our app’s familiar “run clock” proudly displayed in the phone on their armband as we pass each other.

Having run for three and a half years now, from that humble beginning, it’d be nice to see someone that I’ve helped down the same path. Mostly that’s because there’s one thing that new and old runners tend to have in common — the feeling of accomplishment, no matter how short or long or fast or slow their running has been. And that’s a good thing to spread.

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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Jogging and the Immediate Relief of Guilt

I’ve been feeling fairly guilty recently. Trying to learn iPhone programming from home has been pretty slow-going. And I’ve been letting a few other things slip — from arranging viewings of potential new houses to emailing my friend Carmen about popping around for paella. And I’ve not been jogging much. 

Then I got a cold. That really didn’t help.

So, today I went out for my first jog in ages, with the latest episode of Back to Work in my headphones1. And it reminded me of one of the best reasons to be out jogging — there’s pretty much no way of feeling guilt while I’m out for a jog.

Unless I’ve missed some important appointment, there’s nothing I could be doing that’s better for me, all round, than being out in the sun and fresh air (or, let’s face it, wind and rain) getting some exercise.

So, yeah. Jogging. Whether it’s enjoyable at the time or not (and this still varies, for me), at least it’s always good for my conscience.


  1. the show is going through one of its occasional rallies where it actually talks about productivity, rather than just being a series of obscure comedy references to things outside my personal cultural scope []

A Walk Instead

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I was going to head out into Sunday’s sunshine for a pleasant daytime jog, but I got a call from a couple of very hungover friends who had ambitions on fresh air a bit further afield.

We ended up doing this circular walk from Blagdon including Burrington Ham. It was a good way to spend a sunny day.

I’d like to get out for a jog tomorrow, but I’m seeing amber rain warnings being tweeted by local weathermen, so I’m not sure how appealing it’ll be in the morning… Hrm.

I’ll leave you with a photo of my friend Jo at one of the higher points of our walk.

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