Running for the pies

Running for the pies

Thursday, 23 February 2012

22nd February: Darkness

Went out this evening for a spot of night riding, one that did not involve the Hoff in any way, shape or form.

This time it was Kelv, Walshy and myself seeing as Stubo cried-off with man-flu and Mart couldn't find his lights. Following this route we meandered our way through the local area.

En route we startled one of these in a ditch and I had the bizarre experience of nearly running over a suicidal mouse which ran across from the opposite side of the road in front of me in perfect time to be squished under my front wheel. Fortunately for the squeaky fella I managed to scrub-off enough speed to just miss his tail as he scuttled past.

Today was the first time I have been out cycling recreationally in the darkness, as before this evening it has always been to get from A to B - for example on Monday night I cycled 20 miles to drop-off my mothers birthday card, so it is not a case of being lacking in previous time on the road in darkness. At least the next time I should be more familiar with the route and not nearly stack into a ditch on a hairpin bend as I did tonight!

Here's some shots of Walshy and Kelv in action:

Monday, 20 February 2012

19th February: Longing

With the weather turning for the better this has stopped us Brits obsessing over it, (well until the next bout of cold/ hot climes as my friend Craig has summed-up on his blog) and to get on with our normal lives once more. Although this has caused the tabloid press to work harder for their corn now there's no 'cold weather snow  shocker' stories to fill space.

Bernard has been less grief this week, although this weekend should have been all about the marathon down in South Devon. Gutted I could not be there exerting myself, so the countdown to the next one starts now: 5 weeks! God I hope all will be hunky-dory ready for the big day on the Sussex coast.

My new wheels for my MTB have turned-up so I've put them on with a new 8 speed cassette to speed-up the overall ride and hopefully push myself harder and faster on my rides... The bike I ride is a right hotch-potch as I have built it from scratch, with bits being updated as I go along. With these wheels it is nearly at completion for a general road and off-road set-up. Just a new flat-bar, seat post and bar-ends to go.

So as a consequence, training has seen more cycling and swimming this week - bit boring really innit!

My footy team had a cup semi final, which unfortunately did not go as we had all hoped! From 20 minutes on they were truly chasing the game having gone 3 goals down... The 15 minutes before and after the break were bossed by us and the score was pulled back to 3-2, but shortly after a deflected shot looped over our keeper to put the opposition 2 goals to the good again. With just the result that matters in a cup tie, we had no choice but to risk everything in attacking and unfortunately paid the price... Ending up on the receiving end of a shellacking. At least a pants-drop was avoided by keeping the score below 10: The final score at 8-2.

First half defensive action at 0-3

Half time team 'talk'

Proper Sunday league here: As you can see there is underway an inspirational team-talk by a leader of men with all in rapt attention ;) and is that the goalie having a crafty half-time ciggy?

Ball crossed in from the right about to be driven in to the bottom right corner to make it 1-3

Penalty to make it 2-3... Shame this was as good as it got :(

Friday, 17 February 2012

16th February: Patton

Saw this quote t'other day from the American general George S Patton. I have to say I agree with it as most things in life are mind over matter - mostly in my case I don't mind and it don't matter.

"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired."

- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

Sunday, 12 February 2012

12th February: Baltic

I received an email this week from the organisers of the first 'official' marathon to which I had entered. It is happening next weekend down in Devon and for sure I will not be there to run it... Oh well, shit happens! At least they have scheduled another event in May for the Coastal Trail Series. This one is over on the Flete estate, so at least I can 'recoup' the lost marathon for this month by undertaking a second one in May as I had only intended on running the Trailblaze course along the Thames Path.

The frustration about the injury is now at its height as a consequence. As such, with the pain getting less and less I gave the elliptical a try. The good news was I could manage it without the pain becoming unbearable, so in the next couple of weeks I should be able to start on that and put in the hours, getting my body accustomed to moving for anything up to a 4 hour stretch, but without the rigours of impact on the body before I can get out and pound the roads.

Hopefully the injury is now going to be less of an all-consuming problem and more of an inconvenience. I reckon that from now on I reckon I should give it a name in order to refer to it in an easily manageable and easily dismissed notion... Brushing it off as if it were an irritating person who hangs round like a bad smell, like an office work colleague whose proximity you have to endure day in and day out through no form of choice but necessity... From this point forth my heel injury shall be named Bernard.

Whilst cycling on my way to swimming in the sub-zero temperatures I passed Pini who was out for a run. Seeing as we were off in opposite directions I fired-off an email to discover how things are with him - crazy I know seeing as he lives across the road (and I mean that literally). And to fill him in on how Bernard was and my recovery... Pini replied with the following about his recent exploits and what I should be doing in my recovery/ training for the marathons and what to expect:

"You need to be fully fit for a marathon, and to get the miles in the legs for a good month-6 weeks. It's the 18 miles onwards that gets tough and that seems to surprise new marathon runners. I ran my 4th, nr Gloucester, on Jan 22 - hence avoiding the pub. All was fine until 18 miles when I started fading, then I really struggled at 23 miles and the last 3 miles felt like 10. I think I got the food intake a little wrong, and as it was windy and the course was undulating, my pace was a little erratic. So mara #1&3 went well, but #2&4 were tougher. Good experience though. I spoke to an ultra runner - there was an ultra mara at the same event - he was on his 110th mara. Another was on his 210th!"

The temperatures round here have been struggling to get above freezing, so the rides to and from swimming have been fun. The snow that has fallen has not really stuck around so after the slush drained away the roads have been pretty cyclable even with road tyres.

Swimming has been progressing. I managed to do the 20 lengths straight through without stopping so I am now concentrating on doing that every time. After finishing the lengths, I have attempted to do the proper breathing whilst swimming, but have been unable to crack-it yet without nearly drowning myself. I have always had trouble with the breathing around water and put this down to the fact I cannot breath through my nose (an hereditory problem on my dad's side), although it has all got me a pondering and I have thought of a different way to breath so as to keep my head down in the water when I swim rather than continually thrashing from side to side... Still I'm wanting to get the distance cracked before working on technique and speed.

Sunday saw an early(ish) start for a bit of a 'randonnée' with Kelv - who is keen to start cycling to keep fit having managed to get a good bike through the government 'Cycle to Work' scheme, Mart and Mike. Mart is a very experienced cyclist and Mike enjoys being out and about. We headed off out in to the countryside from Kelv's following this route. It was all about just taking it easy and doing the miles without racing the clock with the plan of ending up at the George in Odiham, where we duly decamped upon finishing for a sit around the fire, a hot cuppa and a sausage and bacon sanger for those that desired.

Here's some shots of the guys in action and some of the scenery around South Warnborough way!

Mart & Mike
Kelv showing us how its done.

The civilised post-ride warm-down - or warm-up after being out in that cold!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

5th February: Toy Story

My new toy arrived this week but I have not been able to have a good play with it as by the time I managed to get a chance to use it, the weather had turned too Baltic to go out and do anything at -6C after dark at the end of the week and then the snow came. Taking a leaf out of Pini's book I have acquired a GPS watch to track my runs and monitor my fitness and training. Up till now I have been using the Runkeeper app on my iPhone to record my runs. I think that Runkeeper is a cracking  website and fitness tracking product, however the tracking on my iPhone is absolute pants.

According to the iPhone's sensors, if I cycle in to Basingstoke I will have done either less than a mile or more than 70 as the GPRS does not seem to work with anything resembling accuracy and it plots a route on straight lines from the waypoints it randomly selects, so according to the recorded route I have zig-zagged here and there between points several miles apart. As a consequence I have tended to enter the routes manually and reconciled them with the time from that recorded by the iPhone. The other problem with the Runkeeper - and any other GPRS enabled app on the phone, it saps the battery of life very quickly, to the point I doubt whether it would be able to last a full marathon.

What I have gone for is a Garmin Forerunner 405CX which doesn't seem too chunky. I've changed the strap on it for the fabric velcro one already for greater comfort and ease of use, plus I think it looks better that way. Hopefully this will give me far greater accuracy in recording routes, and the added benefit is Runkeeper accepts data from Garmin GPS devices, so my training can be downloaded straight in to Runkeeper.

As mentioned, this week has been pretty flat for getting out and swimming or cycling with the weather although I did manage to get out and do the 'Lasham Loop' again and without punctures this time. Whilst it was pretty chilly, this time I wore a beanie and an extra top so my head and core remained warm, although there's not much you can do to keep your feet warm!

Having said that, in the swimming i managed to get through 10 laps before a minute's rest... Once I build-up to managing a straight-through 20 lap swim then I can work on my breathing & technique. The way I see it, as soon as I am sure of comfortably swimming the 400m needed for a sprint, then I will refine how I do it, even if this is against the perceived wisdom and coaching from those at Fleet Triathlon club!

29th January: Everybody's free to wear sunscreen

Got a call from my dad this week, to tell me that he had been diagnosed with skin cancer... Thankfully early enough and of a type that can be easily cut away and cured with creams. My grandad, his dad, also had skin cancer. This was put-down to the years he spent out in the North African desert, Greece and Italy during WWII and the lack of knowledge at that time about keeping yourself protected from the sun's rays. My dad played cricket each summer up until around 10 years ago when injury forced him to retire, so he was always out in the summer under the sun's rays for hours at a time. When he played he always wore a hat to protect himself, but he believes it is all the hours of practice in the 'nets' he used to do without a hat, the hours of pottering around gardening and also the running he used to do during his lunch hours at work when younger and in the mornings before he left for work later on as his work changed.

Knowing that my dad has been diagnosed, as his dad was before him, puts me at a high potential hereditory risk of having the same occur to me, so it seems that I need to be extra careful about covering-up my head whilst running, although the damage may well have already been done ready to bite me on the arse in 30 years time!.. With all this it brought to mind the Baz Luhrmann's interpretation to music of the essay from the Chicago Tribune by Mary Schmich: Everybody's free to wear Sunscreen well worth a listen, and the lyrics and sentiment only seem to ring more true the older you get.

I think I need to sort out a running hat.

Training this week consisted of more swimming and a bit if cycling. I went on a new route that took me in to the countryside bordering the South Downs. It struggled to get much above freezing, but there were plenty of cyclists out and about. I gave up counting at 50! it was a mix of groups of friends out and about, serious club cyclists in speeding pelotons and the solo rider - all of them seeming to be out on very expensive road bikes. I think the roads I was on are popular for their remote quiet nature and the views around. For the first time in a long time I got a puncture whilst riding, which was not fun repairing in the numbing cold... A puncture that kept refusing to sort itself out, so it took far longer to complete the ride than I anticipated. Having said that I was very impressed with the cameraderie of my fellow cyclists. As I was there fixing the puncture both cyclists who passed me slowed down and stopped asking if all was ok and needed anything to help with the fix. Fortunately I cycle with the necessary repair gear so I was fine, but I must remember this unwritten rule of the cyclists code... Having said this when I was in the XT Duathlon last year, I did the same to someone who had a puncture - who declined my offer as he had already written his 'race' off.

Monday, 6 February 2012

23rd January: Morning dip

Well I managed to drag my sorry arse out of bed and got down to the leisure centre for the swim... I managed to stretch the length before taking breathers to 125m this time, so an increase on last week and something to build on.

When I was walking to the pool to dive in I bumped in to 'Chopper' who was plodding away doing lengths. Chopper, like me, is one of the older players in our footy club (he was in the year above me at school) and is finding his playing opportunities more limited, so has decided to hit the pool for exercise. Like me he has not really swum properly since leaving our school and also finds it pretty hard going! I can understand why he has turned to the pool for exercise as I cycle to training and matches for when I am on the bench as a substitute rather than starting I get more physical benefit from the ride there and back rather than partaking of the game.

22nd January: Rehab

Well at last my lardy arse has been able to move... I still cannot walk distances of any description without pain, but at least I now know I can survive cycling and swimming.

As a result I have committed to a year's membership at my local leisure centre - The Hart Leisure Centre for the sole purpose of swimming. They run a deal for £26 a week you get unlimited swimming... Now their cost for an individual session is £3.80 so by going just 7 times in a month then you are financially up on the deal!.. With my plans for doing the sprint triathlon there it makes sense for me to get used to swimming as it's something I am pants at, and be able to post a time over the 400m that is not too embarrassing in it's duration.

I've been twice this week with the intention of building it up to once a day during the working week and swimming a constant 500m, building to doing it without a break. At present I am stopping for breathers every 100m, and this week I hope to stop for breathers every 150m. Once I am comfortably doing the 500m without stopping, then I will be working on my breathing and technique so as to improve my speed overall.

Seeing as the centre is only a matter of 6 miles away I am cycling there and back to give me the extra continual time of exercise for endurance training. If I can form this positive habit in the mornings then once I am able to jog again it will leave the evenings to be out and running after work.

I would love to be fit enough for the CTS South Devon on 18th Feb but I am being urged from those that know me (thanks Craig and Craig!) - and know what I am like for being impetuous with regards to injury come-back to write it off as even in the unlikely event I am fit enough, I will have put no miles through my legs in preparation.

With the weather being clear and a bit of a breeze about I took the opportunity of getting some miles under my belt on the bike on Saturday. I took a familiar route out in to the countryside along back-roads for the majority, just me, the road, podcasts on the iPod for company and all the wildlife. It was great watching a herd of deer running across a field, getting close to a Kestrel as it perched in a small tree close to the roadside. I did the 16 miles in a decent time bearing in mind that I was not pushing myself hard. I can't wait to be able to get out running again though... At least being able to cycle again gets the wind through my hair once more. Sitting around being an enforced couch potato was doing my nut in!

Went and watched the guys play footy this morning, they won 2-1 in a cup semi final, giving the oppo the lead with an OG before scoring 2 penalties in 2 minutes for fouls on the same guy in the same place... The ref bottled giving a 3rd penalty a minute later instead giving a foul on the edge of the box when it was a yard or 2 inside from our viewpoint on the other side of the pitch! It made me realise how much I want to be playing again, but realistically this injury is wiping out the rest of my season as there are only 4 scheduled league games to go :(

15th January: Longing

On my regular Thursday night pilgrimmage to 'The Top' (Our village of Hook has two pubs of the same name: The White Hart, so they are referred to by us locals as 'The Top' and 'The Bottom', fortunately the other 2 pubs in the village have different names!), sharing a beer or two with all the guys who I used to play footy with when I moved to the village back in the late 90's. Back then Thursday night was training night and after training we all went down the pub for some post exercise lubrication. These days I am the only one from the crowd still playing - to be fair all but one of them are older than I am, but Thursday night has always remained pub night. Nowadays most of us are married, have families etc. but Thursday night has always remained our oasis during the week, the day when we can have a pass to go out for a few hours... But then again this Thursday night ritual has been going on for longer than most have been with their respective partners, so it is something that always has been and is accepted :)

The footy team in question, AFC Hook, had its reserve team set up by Walshy, who these days is the club president. Walshy  is a very keen cyclist and mountain biker now he has given up footy, and whilst chatting he advised me to check-out a magazine by the name of  Outdoor Fitness.

Walshy is coming-back off a back injury that has prevented him from doing too much cycling or running over the last few months so he has been out swimming of late to exercise and strengthen it, but now he's getting better he's looking for his next challenge. He mentioned that the articles are a good read as they are balanced over most outdoor disciplines so its not just about running, plus there's an events planner for the year... Needless to say I went out and bought a copy on his recommendation.

Sitting down the next day and having a good flick through I was engrossed and quite impressed to the point that I will be buying the next issue and would recommend it to those with a passing interest in physical activity out of doors.

Reading my way through it has made me realise again how much I have missed being out and active. It has been over a month of enforced rest and I am going stir-crazy. Reading about people mountain biking up and down Mount Snowdon makes me want to do it and the events planner detailing all the races out there this year from 10k XC races through tri's to open water swims makes me realise what I am missing out on being stuck here in recovery from injury.

Desperate to feel the wind through my hair once more.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

1st January: Starting with a whimper not a bang :(

Not a lot to report... Today I should have been out running along the canal on the first stage of my odyssey, but hey it was not to be. I did feel a sense of longing to be out doing it when slowly walking the dogs with LSS.

Christmas was spent with the family of LSS just outside Chorley in Lancashire. A very relaxing time, which is just as well seeing as I was fairly immobile trying my best to heal the heel. We managed to get out walking the dogs every day, but that is the extent of the physical exercise of which I am capable.