Saturday, 30 May 2009

The easiest way from E-G

View Earlsfield to Greenwich in a larger map

Now I have my running rucksack my running world has expanded and I can go anywhere I want.
While I have both of my feet and no injuries I know that I can always go to Greenwich.
Transport for London cannot give its customers that assurance and lo and behold the Jubilee line was down in both directions between Stratford and Green Park.
Every weekend. EVERY weekend.
So on top of running home from work in a bid to give the fools at TFL less money, I decided today's run will be from my home in Earlsfield to the Cutty Sark in Greenwich just to prove my superiority over the pathetic service the millions of travelers get each year.
The distance is around 14 miles and I set off at 1100.
The sun was beating down and I was running at the warmest time of day. 
I managed to run about 10 miles before really starting to get dehydrated so I stopped off in a pub called the Grapes at Limehouse and got a free pint of squash.
Not the smartest move to run in this weather without water and I would like to think I have learnt a lesson.
There were no ill effects, I just know that it affected my time and pace.
In the end I completed it in around 1 hour 45 minutes. 
I can't be too accurate as the GPS does not work in tunnels and that includes the Greenwich foot tunnel.
My pace was 7.28 per mile and that was kind of my aim but I know that keeping myself rehydrated regularly will enhance my improvement a lot.
Obviously I did have to get a train ticket to get home (via the DLR) but it was another small victory and will be my method in the future for getting from E to G.

Friday, 29 May 2009

A quickie

It's a short post today as I have been out tonight on the university end of year shindig.
Finished at 8.30 but then when you have the taste for it.....
BUT! You will be more than proud to know that I did go for a very unscheduled run at 0630 this morning, before the binmen could soil my path and jogged round the Wimbledon Park route of 4 miles in 30 mins.
Makes me feel better about the bottle of red wine I snarfed earlier this evening. 
Anyhoo, to bed and a good proper run tomorrow.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

The human fly-trap

The run home from work is so fulfilling, I enjoy it every time.
There are, however, two things which are not welcome.
The first is the amount of second hand smoke I inhale going past the tourist throngs outside Harrods and the office bods spilling out of the pubs for a chat around their cigarettes.
The second are the kamikaze flies which somehow manage to aim straight for my mouth.
I swallowed about 3 yesterday and it is not nice. Not nice at all.
I do take my hat off to them in a small begrudging way. It's quite impressive to hit such a small target while we are both going at such speeds.
And talking of speed, I am getting faster.
It didn't feel like it but I ran at an average of 7m12s per mile covering 6.02 miles in 43m 15s.
That is great progress as I was running a 7m40s average just under a month ago.
Like I say, it doesn't feel any different but it shows that the training is working.
I am doing core exercises and weights for today and tomorrow due to university commitments (OK, OK, tomorrow is the end of year party, not compulsory...)
So the next run will be on Saturday and it will be an 8 miler around the Thames path, early enough so the flies will still be asleep.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Northerners - not funny

I had been looking forward to this run for a couple of days and had prepared by buying a new rucksack to give me the ability to start and finish somewhere other than my house.
Its very lightweight, clings to your back and fastens around the chest and waist.
I would attach a picture but I cannot find it on the internet. 
As with all of Adidas' online content, it's flash and looks impressive, but you can't find sod all that you actually want.
So, the run.
I hopped on the train at Earlsfield and hopped up 5 minutes later at Vauxhall.
After rebuffing a tramp for his request for a change 'to get a drink', I did him the favour of helping him sober up for another moment or two, I did my stretches on one of the walls of the MI5 building.
I was disappointed not to be spirited away to a secret bunker and water-boarded and started to run, pressing Start on the trusty Garmin watch.
That trusty Garmin is only trusty if you fully charge the damn thing.
So one mile in to the run, somewhere near the Southbank Centre it ran out of juice.
So I just decided to run for about an hour and a half and that would amply cover the expected 12 miles I was to cover today.
I continued along the South bank until Tower Bridge where I scampered across and ran past the tourists and ice-cream vans of the Tower of London.
Unbenownst to me their was a BUPA 10K run taking place from St James Park and coming at me coming at them so I went past the Houses of Parliament without claiming any expenses and up to Hyde Park.
I don't know Hyde Park that well so I stuck to the main road and ran past the Serpentine and up to Bayswater road.
By this time my hayfever decided to pop its head up for the first time and I sneezed and rubbed my eyes all the way to Baker Street.
Going up Marylebone Road I got my first sightings of the throngs of northeners who had descended to see which of their teams would spend one season in the Premier League.
I managed to squeeze past their morning pints and pies and guts and flapping pages of the Sun and got back out into the middle upper class areas I was more familiar with.
I had no idea where to finish this run and looking at my Blackberry I had secreted away in one of many useful pockets of the rucksacks I had already done my alloted time.
However, I decided to end the run at Euston so I could go and meet the wife and wangle well-deserved free breakfast.
It was at Euston, warming down when a group of these northern people mimicked my stretches (the calf stretch where you stick a leg out while pressing on to a wall and, yes, hilariously it looks like you are trying to push a building over)
"Heeyar mate can I help thee" they cackled.
I knew someone was going to do it in such a populated area, it's so predictable.
When I didn't react and carried on they just walked off like a squad of monkeys muttering 'fuckin southerners'.
I think they had about three teeth and one frontal lobe between them.
I saw them again in the underground trying to work out the Oyster travelcard machines. I bet they're still there now.

Friday, 22 May 2009

I love the smell of rotting fish in the morning

0615 and I positively leapt out of bed, gave the wife a peck on the cheek and went into the living room and ripped the curtains apart to reveal a morning of sun dappled splendour.
Time, for a morning run. On a weekday. On a workday.
It's never been attempted before, I hear you cry.
Well i fly in the face of convention, strapped on the old heart rate monitor and running shoes and limbered up.
I gave the wife another kiss and told her I was going for a run so she wouldn't think we were being robbed when I returned.
Then I stepped out into the bright, breezy morning and breathed in.
Mmm-mm. It's bin day in Wandsworth and I would run behind various dust-carts for the next 7.5 miles.
Bin day is a little less romantic than market day of a morning even though it is essentially the same produce.
Lesson learnt, I will change the morning run to a Wednesday I think.
In any event I ran the big hill twice past the All England Tennis Club and I feel pretty darned great.
It was a general aerobic run which is between about 70 and 80% of my maximum heart rate which was pretty gentle and I ambled round in 56 minutes.
Now I just have a full day's work and night out on the town to cope with.
Come 8pm I may be rueing the opportunity of a lie-in.
Hey-ho, only 4 miles to cover tomorrow and without the whiff of rancid carcass in the nostrils.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Lactate threshold - nasty

Today was a mixed bag run wise.
It was a first for me as I ran after coming home from work. I had been looking forward to it all day.
Then actually strapping on my heart rate monitor I stepped out the door and twisted my knee somehow. Decided to run it off though.
 Risky but it paid off.
There was a van and its undercarriage was on fire but it refused to stop and trundled on in front of me for about quarter of a mile spewing smoke in my face.
This lactate threshold run consists of a warm up of two miles, then two miles running just below my full on top speed. Then another two mile warm down.
My wonderful watch tells me when I am going below my ideal heart rate for such a run and I was getting so pissed off with it I wanted to throw it under a car.
No matter how hard I thought I was running, the sodding watch wanted to tell me otherwise. Maybe my heart rate is just too cool for school because it wasn't even up to speed when I was pelting it up the big hill.
Must try harder.
Good run though, finished off with a jog warm down round a beautifully sunny Wimbledon Park. 
Rest day tomorrow then I will try another first - an eight mile run BEFORE work on Friday.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Fitter, Stronger, Happier, More Productive

The title of this post is a reference to the Stephen Hawking-a-like sloganeering from Radiohead's landmark third album and it sums up how I am feeling today. 
All full of sushi and green tea, I then jumped on the cross-trainer for half an hour as I watched the reptilian politicians lurking around Parliament being stalked by Jon Snow's garish tie.
Then I did my first core training session, of which i am to start cramming three in a week.
Has anyone got any spare days I can have?
Still, when the fat does decide to leave my stomach (another day without chocolate by the way) I will have a six pack, the likes of which haven't been seen since Bruce Lee brought the farm.
Fitter, happier, more productive, 
not drinking too much, 
regular exercise at the gym 
(3 days a week), 
getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries , 
at ease, 
eating well 
(no more microwave dinners and saturated fats), 
a patient better driver, 
a safer car 
(baby smiling in back seat), 
sleeping well 
(no bad dreams), 
no paranoia, 
careful to all animals 
(never washing spiders down the plughole), 
keep in contact with old friends 
(enjoy a drink now and then), 
will frequently check credit at 
(moral) bank (hole in the wall), 
favors for favors, 
fond but not in love, 
charity standing orders, 
on Sundays ring road supermarket 
(no killing moths or putting boiling water on the ants), 
car wash 
(also on Sundays), 
no longer afraid of the dark or midday shadows 
nothing so ridiculously teenage and desperate, 
nothing so childish - at a better pace, 
slower and more calculated, 
no chance of escape, 
now self-employed, 
concerned (but powerless), 
an empowered and informed member of society 
(pragmatism not idealism), 
will not cry in public, 
less chance of illness, 
tires that grip in the wet 
(shot of baby strapped in back seat), 
a good memory, 
still cries at a good film, 
still kisses with saliva, 
no longer empty and frantic 
like a cat 
tied to a stick, 
that's driven into 
frozen winter shit 
(the ability to laugh at weakness), 
healthier and more productive 
a pig 
in a cage 
on antibiotics. 

Monday, 18 May 2009

Bend me then take me higher

Another run home from work:
6.24 miles
50m 24s

My lovely little computer-on-a-wrist tells me not only how fast, how long and how hard I have been running but also how high. It measures the elevation of my course.
I am almost to scared to see what else it can do.
I may just put it on the floor and see if it starts hoovering.
Following my gentle jog home (it should have been a rest day really) I did a good 20 minutes of stretching. So now I am supple and bendy as well.
I wonder if my watch can tell me how flexible I am...

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Undulation - That's what you need

I have never been to Beachy Head and I have never committed suicide, but I am guessing those folks who are a bit down in the dumps congregate at this beauty spot because it is very high and will achieve their goal in one go.
So, with this Holmesian skill I have deduced that I will have to find some ruddy great hills to run up to get used to it.
After a year and a half of circling the 1500m of Wimbledon Park I widened my path and ran AROUND Wimbledon Park, and its golf course and its church and million pound homes and their estates.
On this circuit:
which is around 3.5 miles, there is a huge hill going up St Mary's Road and I love it.
At the top you go round the bend and past these beautiful houses and then for a 5 second window you see a beautiful vista of London.
The way it pans across the skyline from the London Eye and out past Canary Wharf, well Spielberg couldn't have directed it better.
And before that you run past the glorious All England Lawn Tennis Club. As I did so today it rained, as I passed it the rain stopped. Portents indeed.
For those statisticians among you - here are the figures:
7.45 miles ran (including that hill-twice)
57m 38s
1114 calories burnt
All this on an empty stomach as my first goal is to shed a few pounds and the best way to do this is run in the morning on an empty stomach.
This way the body automatically eats into your fat stores as you have little glycogen from any carbs.
Now I'm off to the garden centre again. Husband duties you understand.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

I'm back and it feels great

Yesterday was a good day. A very good day.
My menu was perfect, the regime is back on track and I refused to buy chocolate.
As James Brown said:
First, my race winning menu, heavyish on carbs, low on calories with a fair amount of protein and ample fat content:
Breakfast: Bowl of bran flakes and small handful (about an 8 year old's handful) of unsalted, untreated almonds.
Mid-morning: One of Granny Smith's choicest apples
Lunch: Tuna salad with balsamic vinegar, chilli flakes and light French dressing
Mid afternoon: Muller corner strawberry yoghurt. Addictive and 5 for £1 in Tesco. Bargain.
Evening: Pad Thai noodles
Late snack: More Muller corner. Mmmmm

That means NO CHOCOLATE. For the first time in a long time. I actually went to the shop after my run with £2 in my hand to get milk for this morning and, yes, some chocolate.
But after picking up a Twirl, I replaced it and only bought the milk.
Then I spent the remaining £1.50 on a Euro millions ticket.
I didn't win, but I feel like a winner. If you get my drift.

My run was great.
The Garmin super-duper GPS watch took a while to pick up a satellite as my office is in deepest high office blocked Mayfair.
I got pissed off with it and switched it off until Hyde Park corner.
After that it was a dream and told me that I had run 5.5 miles in 41.51.
That is not bad with all the stops and starts involved in street running.
I didn't feel any ill effect after it and after a good stretch and warm down I enjoyed a night in front of the Wire.
Top day, then.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Nearly there. Nearly.

Just a quick note today. The aches are nearly gone. One more day of rest and we are back on track....

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

That work/life balance

With power comes responsibility, and a G&T I found out today at the end of my 10 hour work day.
My new job, while infinitely more exciting than my last (although it's the same job on paper) has turned me into someone I never wanted to be.
I am suited up every day, which is OK, nowt wrong with looking a bit dapper; I have a Blackberry, which means I am essentially on call 24 hours a day and my 7 and a half hour day is an irrelevance, I work as long as it takes.
Is it worth the extra bit of money? You bet your sweet ass it is.
Is it worth the hassle it causes my fitness regime? Hell no.
I have put on nearly 8 pounds since I started this job. True I have been back on the chocolate more than I was and I am having the odd glass of wine. But I just cannot counter this with a meaningful training program because I might have to have a debrief in Henry's in Green Park with a G&T served by an effeminate guy named Jezza.
All I wanted to do was to go home and work out the strains of my weekend lunges with a cross train.
At this rate I am going to have to go down the charity shop and buy back the fat clothes I gave away.
It's driving me up the wall.
To counter the sugar urge which is out of control I have ordered this book.
But between Henry's, work, wife and workout when will I have a chance to read the sodding thing?

Monday, 11 May 2009

No change

  • Not much to report today. 
  • Legs still ache, if anything they are worse than yesterday.
  • Managed to walk about 3-4 miles though. Got to keep my end in.
  • Had a play around with the watch - looks promising.
  • Over and out.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

All talk eh?

The weekend draws to a close and I am no nearer a level of fitness to get my weekly mileage up to 40 miles.
I decided to take it easy on Saturday and only did 4 miles on the cross trainer which is fine in place of a recovery run. I find the cross trainer better for recovery runs as i cannot run at the recommended slower pace of 2 minutes per mile more than best pace.
At the back of my mind, however, i still wanted to do more exercise.
The Bible that is Advanced Marathoning recommends that I do 2 sessions of resistance training per week, i.e. weights and the like.
So I cracked on with some push ups and tricep dips and dumbbell presses, etc, etc. All good core strengthening routines. But, as with most good weights routines they always throw in the lunges and the squats.
When you do these for the first time in a long time you know you will be out of the game for a couple of days afterwards. I knew this deep down, but at the time there is no outward sign that this will happen and you always think you have gotten away with it.
No, no, no,no, no.
Sunday morning and the waddle from the bed to the bathroom lets you know that your legs are useless to you. No 12 mile run today.
The best I could muster was a 4 miles round trip to a garden centre and then the supermarket. Leisurely stroll, not too many stairs. Strangely enough, it's the going down stairs that hurt more than the going up after such workouts.
the best thing about it is that the body soon gets use to this feeling and the next time I do it, and as long as I keep doing it regularly, there will be no such side effects and I can stop doing my impression of a penguin.
So, best to get these things out of the way early in the countdown.

Friday, 8 May 2009

What the f&%k was that?

I have had a very tiring week. I haven't done anything especially strenuous. In fact due to my injury I have done less exercise than at any time in the past 3 months. Typical when I start writing a blog essentially about exercise.
So the last thing I needed this morning was to be woken up at 5 o'clock. Not by a noise, not by intruders, not by a ruddy great hurricane. No. By a pain sent by satan himself. 

Night cramp.

It's like someone grabbing your calf muscle and twisting it 360 degrees.
I have had them before and there was a time when I would be woken up by them about three times a week.
They hurt.
A lot.
Now I am wondering if this is the punishment I get for not training. It's starting to look mightily unfair. 
The real kicker is that yesterdays other calf strain had cleared up. Perhaps this calf acted up because it felt neglected, I don't know.
So had it not been for this morning's rude awakening I would have run home from work but these cramps take at least 24 hours to stop niggling.
Down, yes, but not out.
Tomorrow I start my training in earnest with a recovery run of 4 miles. Nothing strenuous. 
I'll let you know how that goes tomorrow. In the meantime I just. Want. To. Sleep.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Down and out already?

There is nothing more aggravating to a runner than an injury, especially when all you are doing is running. You know, keeping fit. Eating well and getting fit. What a kick in the knackers.

It's a bit like Bruce Lee dying because he was so buff. Apart from the fact that I'm alive. And not buff. And that pack of peanuts I have just snarfed is not going to help anyone.

I have strained my left calf muscle and I fear it's my fault. I didn't stretch properly before my run yesterday. And there it is. I won't be running home from work tomorrow night and I will struggle to get fit in time for my long run on Sunday.

Gives me time to read my book, though, and get my running plan ready to see me through the next 9 weeks until the proper countdown.

With this disappointment in mind I will leave you on a high. Here is the space age bit of kit which will turn me into Paula Radcliffe - but with slightly bigger tits. Check this out, I will fill you in a bit more when it arrives.

A bit of a hasty blog today but you can expect that on Thursdays as I go to uni after work in the evening and have no time to write let alone run. Thursday is rest day.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

The power of commitment

For the first three months of 2008 I was as close to tee-total as it's possible to be without being Eric Clapton.
This year I have been downing bottles of wine like Oliver Reed.
The difference is having a goal. Last year I was working towards a half-marathon in my first year of running and now I have signed up to a full marathon my thought processes have started to change once more.
Last night I was out on the town having a meal and I shunned drink. I was sure I was going to drink something alcoholic but the voices have started to emerge and I find myself getting 'in the zone'.
At the root of these thoughts is the fear of failure, of getting to Beachy Head and making an absolute fool of myself.
So with this improved attitude I managed a half hour of cross training last night and a 4.5 mile run today after a walk from London Bridge to Vauxhall following a full day's work.
This is what I have missed. This is what I have enjoyed more than nearly everything else in the last year and a half and it's good to be back.
During the short sprint around Wimbledon Park this evening I saw a Polish guy opening his bottle of Smirnoff Ice using the back of the bin used to dispose of dogshit and I think I swallowed more flies and midges in that half an hour than a well trained lizard could have. My face was like a bit of fly-paper.
So, to tomorrow and I will reveal what I spent £130 on to improve my performance.
Stay tuned. 

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

In the beginning God created running shoes

So, it begins.

I can run 13.1 miles in around 1 hour and 35 minutes.
I weigh 188 pounds.
I am currently running between 30 – 35 miles per week.
I am injury-free.

These are the facts as I count down the first of 172 days of preparation for the Beachy Head marathon.
The first thing everyone has said so far when I mention it to them is “are you going to throw yourself off the edge?”, of course, I reply, “It depends how well it’s going.”
But that it is in the latter part of October, I personally think the hardest part comes before the race itself.
So, how am I starting this colossal undertaking? By doing precisely sod all in exercise terms. The wife and I are out to dinner then attending a leaving do at her workplace tonight.
Nutritionally I will be on the right track, breakfast was a trusty bowl of Bran Flakes and almonds, lunch a tuna salad. But for sheer miles-under-the-belt I am doing precisely nothing.
Well, I say that, I walk a good mile-and-a-half into work every morning so it’s something.
But I know I will undo that with a couple of ‘units’ tonight.
I have been doing preparation of a different kind, however, in the form of reading a highly recommended book. You can see which one here
So, with my head bowed in shame, I leave what should have been a triumphant first post and prepare to make you all proud of me come tomorrow.