Sunday, 31 May 2009

BEWARE: Ugly Mug in Runners World

If you pick up a copy of runners world this month (July edition), check out page 21 and you'll get to see my ugly mug giving advice about food. I doubt it's a co-incidence they asked me about food but I doubt they knew what I looked like when they did! Jogblog's also in there so go have a look!

Friday, 29 May 2009

The looniness of Juneathon plus a question

Well it's only 3 days to go until June and that can only mean one thing. JUNEATHON IS HERE!!!! I'm a Juneathon Virgin but I'm led to believe it has been wonderfully chiefed by JoggerBlogger for the last couple of years and I'm looking forward to taking part. The extremely complicated and strict rules are here. In a nutshell though, exercise everyday, blog about it, read other's blogs regarding it.

Now with a slightly ropey hip, I think running everyday is out of the question for me. However, after taking a few ideas from other blogs around (namely eatingtrees and The Red Bucket) I have decided what my Juneathon will entail.

3 times a week should be good with a few hills thrown in too.
100 Push Up Challenge:
Do 100 consecutive pushups in 6 weeks. I think my current record is about 7. That maybe over exaggerating as well
200 Sit Up Challenge:
You won't be surprised but this is the same concept as above. However, I don't think my stomach rolls inwards so this is going to be a tough one (lovely image for you all). I will do the Push Up and Sit Up Challenges on the same day I reckon which will be 3 sessions a week.
Touch Rugby:
Once a week, it's 30/40 mins of sprinting around a field chasing a person with a ball. The attempted catching and throwing of said ball are also included. Note the word 'attempted'.

It has become clear to me while writing this blog that I'm not quite an elite athlete. Or just an athlete for that matter. Even just an ath is pushing it to be honest therefore exercising every single day is not going to be easy for me.

My question though. I want to jump out of a plane on the 21st June. Nothing to do with Low Cost Airlines cutting their costs, more that I bought LG a jump for her birthday and I'll be doing it too. So, does this count as exercise or do I still need to do something else on this day. I reckon Iliketocount may well be the best person to advise me here!?

As a side note (which appear to be turning into a more regular thing), I think I've persuaded LG to do Juneathon too albeit a slightly less energetic one so her updates will more than likely appear alongside my usual blathering babble.

So have a good weekend. I'm off to go and sleep in a tent on the outskirts of Cambridge tonight... And to think eatingtrees thinks he has it good by being on a beautiful and sunny Greek Island. He doesn't know what luxury is!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

London Wa HooPA 10k - Race Report

First things strangely enough, first. In the wonderfully overcast and slightly damp conditions, I set a new PB yesterday. 51:42. Happy Days! It's the first 10k I've done in a long time and my previous best was 53:4x so I'm delighted with the time that now at least gives me a proper PB to aim for next time.

This isn't the greatest event to take part in though to be honest. There's a few too many people, 9 wave starts so a lot waiting around and the constant repeated commentary while in Green Park but the course is flat and takes in a few tourist sights so definitely PB territory.

The hip was aching a bit (I forgot the painkillers) and the hamstring felt tight but overall I felt pretty good and like I could do OK if I put my mind to it and didn't start feeling sorry for myself. Myself and eatingtrees were setting off in Blue A which was the 4th wave to go but it was clear very early on that we wouldn't be running this one together. We both had our own times in our heads and we both already plugged in to our individual playlists to get us through the run. We stayed together in the crowds for the first 2k or so and a pace faster than I'd predicted. The first 2 were both 5:05 k's. Great, now I just had to keep it up! I didn't but stayed between 5:05 and 5:15 k's for the entire race which was better than where I needed to get my predicted time of less than 53 mins.

We had a bit of rain, a couple of tiny inclines and a few cobbles but the race was pretty painless. I just had to keep reminding myself that I was on for a good time and keep pushing which I did. I ran down the mall and completed it and was delighted with my time although I have to say, with all the marshals telling you to go elsewhere, the commentary team who only seemed interested in the elite athletes and the tidying beginning very early on, it was a bit of a damp squid ending. I think this is why I prefer the smaller events so roll on next month when I will be running with Lovely Girlfriend on her first ever 10k in Thame.

Oh and just to mention, eatingtrees has found us another great event for Sept. Rat Race. We're only doing Mean Streets London but it looks like a great laugh and a little more than just pounding the streets! Where else can you mix running, sudoku, ice climbing and kayaking in a city centre all on the same day!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The missing August one...

You may or may not have noticed (or cared) that I had a gap in my 'places I'll be appearing' section in that I had nothing during the month of August. This has been annoying me as I was doing pretty well to have a race a month for the rest of the year.

Well today I found one that I liked the look of and i can now state *with a fanfare playing in the background* that I will be running the Hard as Snails 10k on the 22nd August. Admittedly, it was the name that made me laugh and therefore I had to sign up but for £15, a Saturday morning and some good hills, I couldn't say no.

If you're trying to find a race to run in August then come along and join me. It's a 10k but they reckon because of the hills, it feels more like 7.2 miles. Yay to punishing hills!

Right, now I just have to mention it to Lovely Girlfriend. I can almost feel her eyes rolling from here!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Slacking but not through laziness

I seem to have done a little damage to my hip although no-where near as much as Jogblog managed to do to her ankle but because of this (my hip, not Jogblog's ankle) I've only ran once since my Touch Rugby session. This was last Tuesday when myself and Lovely Girlfriend went to Richmond Park for a bit of exercise as it was a lovely evening. LG is going to be running her first ever 10k at the end of June so it's good for me to be training with somebody again as it hasn't been done since myself and eatingtrees trained for the Royal Parks half last year and frankly, I was starting to get bored of my own company.

Anyway, it consisted of a 1.5m run from the car to the hill, then we ran some hills for a bit before running back again. It was on this return leg that the pain really intensified to the point I had to stop because I was overcompensating so much, my left knee started aching too. Now the hills weren't what caused it as I'd noticed it a week or so before but they certainly didn't help. It's now the following Monday and there's still a little ache on the hip but nothing too bad. However, because the BUPA 10k costs a sodding fortune and I don't want to waste that money, I'm not going to run until then and then just try and get round. I don't have a PB for a 10k as such as I've only done one race before and all I can remember is that I finished in 53:xx so the plan as to go under 53mins. Unlikely now which is a pain but I'll give it a go anyway.

Now not being able to do either Touch or running for the past week, I've had to do a couple of things to keep the week interesting. So I've, in order:

a)Looked at a new car
b)Went to an Album Launch Gig
c)Went for many, many drinks to celebrate LG's and another friends birthday
d)Test drove new car
e)Bought new car
f)Went to Cambridge and camped in an airfield
g)Trained to jump out of a plane for LG's birthday
h)Didn't jump out a plane as we have tremendously crap weather in this country
i)Went out for a meal for LG's birthday

See, I've been doing other things and here's a picture of the new beast! We pick it up on Thursday and I can't wait. It may only be a Citroen to some people but as we've been driving a P-reg Clio, this thing's going to feel like a Rolls Royce!!

Friday, 8 May 2009

Nice touch!

So instead of getting bored and just doing more pavement pounding while doing some sprint training and on the back of The Red Buckets recent ramblings, I went to my first Touch Rugby session last night. I signed up as an individual player for £35 for the season (8 weeks). This meant they would put me in a group with a load of other people who had no-one to go with and we would then form a 'team'. At this moment in time, I use that term very lightly! There were 11 of us in a mixed team consisting of 8 males and 3 females. 6 people on at a time and rolling subs.

Things to consider at this point:
- I've never played before and haven't even picked up a rugby ball since I was 11-12 years old. (Even then only to put it down again when the big boys ran at me)

- Only one other person on my 'team' hadn't played before
- 80% of the people there were Antipodeans who'd been playing this forever as they actually want to play sport in the southern hemisphere and from a young age
- I knew it would be tough but was confident that all the running would help at least in some small part. IT DIDN'T!!!

We play one game a week (15 mins each half) and during that time, when you're on the pitch, it's all about the sprinting! Every time you tackle (touch) an opposition player, you have to get back 10m. And bloody quickly or the ref calls you offside. It's tiring hence the rolling subs but good fun. Our 'team' let them in for a few tries and I think it was something like 3 or 4-0 at half time. Second half we came out slightly more organised after some of the finer rules had once again been battered into our head. In fact we scored a try. Bonus!! They scored a few more (I'd lost count) and then I came back onto the pitch for another go. I reckon I had about 5 minutes left and intended to sprint my heart out. I did exactly that as we held our ground in defence and had the odd attack thrown in. Being around the centre of the pitch, the ball came to me on about the 4th touch during on of our attacks. With team mates (notice the lack of irony marks) running towards the wings there was suddenly a gap.

This was it. No Guts No Glory! Time was running out. We had no chance of winning but it was all about pride now.

I went for it, putting in a short burst of space I split 2 players, being in our own half I had a long way to go but this was it... I squeezed through without being touched and it was me being very quickly pursued by a guy from the opposition team. I just had to get to the line and the glory was mine. My lungs were on fire, my teammates weren't around. It was a straight race now! He was behind and close but not catching. I could see the headlines being written, the name in the Hall of Fame, the cheers and celebrations of my teammates. Only around 15m to go so I'll just need one last look behind.

Oh Cock it!!!

I'd tripped myself up when I'd turned and was now eating dirt still around 12m from the line due to a 3m slide and the chance had gone.

As you can see, the slide caused some cool grazes that I haven't had since I was a kid but to be honest my pride had taken the bigger battering. Even more so when my pursuer came up to me after the game, shook my hand and said 'unlucky on the trip mate, you had me as well'.

So in a nutshell, a LOT of fun, extremely tiring, I have new aches that I've never had before and can't wait to go back. Unfortunately due to prior commitments it will be in 2 weeks time and not next week but I'll be there with my number 9 shirt and my restored pride. However, this time, I'm not going to look back!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Music makes the legs go one in front of the other

I've mentioned my playlist (not the quickie Sony W one but my actual training and race one) before but it was only while explaining it to someone the other day (and being called a bit of a geek at the time) that they mentioned I should do a full post explaining why and how it works for me. The actual choice of songs doesn't matter at this moment as there won't be a single person who would look at my playlist and say 'Wow! the boy's a genius, I will listen to only that and nothing else whenever I run from this point forward' so please stick with me. It's more about the placing and type of songs you use so this is just a post explaining a couple of my choices and how I did it.

The way it works is having a set distance to run to. Mine happens to be based on 6 miles and is pretty much 52:30 long exactly! So if I'm doing a 10k, it's almost perfect, if I'm doing an 8 miler I'll turn it on at 2 miles and so on and so forth. This means I don't have the constant music and therefore it doesn't become background music. It means when it starts, I know exactly where I am in the run, the distance to go and also, how long I have to get my arse home! See, I race the music home everytime. Mind you, racing it home is one thing, beating it home is a completely different matter. I think we're about level on results at the moment!!

The Starting Point
So, I had the total time. Now to find the tracks. I did a full search through my iTunes and also ended up buying a few bits of cheese from Amazon's MP3 store and gave myself a starting point. Strangely, this was at the 26:15 mark or 3 miles-to-go mark as I like to think of it! The reason for this was that I really wanted a big mental **HALF WAY THERE** in my ears and didn't want to think 'oh the halfway point is somewhere in the middle of this track'. This means I can check my pace in relation to where I am and in addition, the song was one of the big motivational clichés out there. Eminem: Lose yourself (minus the first 32 seconds of nothing obviously). Now this song has never been a favourite but was specifically purchased to become my motivational kick up the arse and dag nammit it works!!

The First Half
I then set about building 26:15 minutes of music up to that point. The idea of this first half of the playlist was about the beats, keeping the pace up but making sure I didn't revert to listening to music that I didn't like. Basically, that being what I class as 'dance' music! A couple of tracks that will be mentioned among others that won't be for potential embarrassment reasons are the starting track of Foo Fighters: Monkey Wrench and somewhere in the middle of this half is Arcade Fire: Keep the Car Running. Simple theory... music I like with a beat I could run to.

The Beginning of the End
After my Eminem motivational kick up the backside, I have a few tracks that keep not only the shouty motivation up but the beat and pace up too. The theory being that I'm getting knackered and just the beats aren't going to help as much on their own at this point but the shouty stuff does. Think teen pop!!! I'm saying no more than that. I have little street cred as it is, naming the actual tunes would just be hideous. Think of them as guilty pleasures.

The End
Now the beats matter even less. I've tried running to a set beat at the end of a run and for me, it doesn't work... at all! Now it's all about the motivation part. Making me smile as I head to the finish line. If I'm happy and have a rather embarrassing and stupid grin on my face then I'll be running a damn sight better than if I have boom, boom, boom going on in the background. So this is the point you need to find a couple of tracks that you can listen to and know you're having more fun than anyone else around you! Based on this, my penultimate track is Bellamy Brothers: Let your Love Flow and then the one that I'm always chasing home is Jackie Wilson: Higher and Higher. So much fun and I promise you it works!!

One last thing I must mention is once you've found these tracks, try not to listen to them day to day. Take them off your other music players and iTunes and your mind will start to automatically go into running mode when you hear them. All my tracks now have an immediate effect and when I'm having a slow day and I get to that 6 miles-to-go mark, it acts as a massive pick me up and gets me to the end every single time.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Distance done and the Sony W Series Walkman

Saturday morning and after sharing a bottle of Merlot last night because 'we managed to get through the week' I set out for a 10k. I finished in a credible 52:16 which I was pretty happy with being my first proper run since returning. It was good to get out and pounding the pavement to be honest.

I'm aching a bit now but that's because I've done sod all for so long but if I'm feeling a little more flexible later then I'm going to try this Yoga thing. It all depends on how I'm feeling!!

And so onto the Sony W Series. I have to be honest with you.... I'm not a fan. Brilliant concept but I just can't see myself changing from my shuffle if this is the competiton.

-No wires running down your back
-Good sound quality

Not so much:
-It's LIME GREEN people!!! (I know there are other colours but would love to know who thought this one was a good idea!!) I guess I should be grateful I didn't get the pink one!!!
-If you have a shaved head, you are going to get a ridicolous tan line. eatingtrees, you'll have the same problem as me!
-Yes it's lightweight. But it's double the weight of my shuffle and I don't have that sitting on my head!
-I found it a bit fiddly to control when on the move. Maybe it'll get easier with more use.

I should also mention the special technology they have to scan through the songs. It's like Ronseal, 'it does exactly what it says on the tin' but to be honest, I still find it pretty easy to press the skip button on my current player if I want to find a particular track. Overkill maybe?? Solving a problem that doesn't need to be solved me thinks.

So overall a very sound and quality product, just as Sony generally produce but this particular one, I don't feel it's any better than what I currently use.

The challenge I was set however was to produce a playlist and this is mine. All from my own iTunes and for various reasons including beats, motivation and just generally loving the track! Here it is:

Living in Jungles - Bedouin Soundclash
Helicopter - Block Party
Trains to Brazil - Guillemots
Oh My God - Ida Maria
City Lights - The Bishops
Keep the Car Running - Arcade Fire
Upon this Tidal Wave of Young Blood - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Over and Over - Hot Chip
What Your Boyfriend Said - Little Man Tate
Soul Limbo - Booker T and the M.G's
Angel Interceptor - Ash
What a Wonderful World - Joey Ramone

Not to everyone's taste but it'll get me round a few training runs!! Enjoy your Bank Holiday weekend if you're in the UK or just your weekend if not! I feel a BBQ coming!