‘All the gear and no idea’

30 May, 2006

Radio 1 had a news item on the Nike shoe / iPod collaboration last week and there is various web chatter around about it, some of which is hysterically anti-Nike or anti-iPod or anti-both.  If you haven't heard about it, here's the advertising, which is predictably gorgeous. 

Without getting too existential about this, the point, surely, is what you are running for in the first place ?  Unless you are an Olympian a £17 Timex, a map and a calculator will tell you all you need to know.  I sometimes wonder if my Excel spreadsheet isn't going a bit far.  I don't have a Garmin, a Polar, or a Suunto.  Although I'm vain enough to lust after the last I also know that it's more for the boyish gimmickry of the thing than because it will make me a better runner.  If toys give you pleasure then buy them and enjoy them and I wish you the greatest of pleasure but bear in mind the Army tag for people with too much kit – 'all the gear and no idea'. 

For me, at least half the fun of running is the stripped-down joy of the thing – it's primal or at least elemental.  Although his latter career made him no sort of role model, I am always reminded of Mike Tyson.  When all the boxers were in fancy silk robes, multi-coloured shorts and entred the arena like 17th Centruy dandies, he walked into the ring with just black shorts, boots with no socks and….talent. 

I aint no Tyson and I aint no running talent, but I know what I'm out there to do and that doesn't include chipping myself up to the max.        



30 May, 2006

Like every other runner I know, stretching is a challenge.  In footbal training, the management culture in the game meant that we just did it because we were shouted into it, but running at my level is a more individual thing and if I don't bully myself no-one else will.  It's got to make sense.  It's got to make walking to the bathroom in the morning easier.  It might just prevent some injury. 

I put together a rudimentary programme (3 standing, 3 sitting – all leg, waist and lower back groups covered) and started it in training for Isle of Wight but lost it when I had my blip in April.  When I stretched the day after the IoW run, I was shocked at how much shorter my musles had become.  Started again today.  I'll let you know how I get on.

Back on the road

30 May, 2006

Took the little darlings puddle hopping for about 5 miles on Saturday (#1 hated me for it) and played tennis for 45 minutes or so last night.  Up early this morning and ran 4.35 miles, very relaxed.  Didn't take my watch because I just wanted to feel the road under my feet and find out how my legs were.  Answer – OK.  The route is out and back, so downwhill and uphill.  Legs a little heavy on the way back but looking back, this is my earliest return to training – eight days since Isle of Wight so no surprises.  Get into some rythmn over the next few days and then make a plan for some speedwork.  Deep joy.

Since I was so relaxed, I took in the views.  I am a lucky soul.  Birdsong everywhere; the countryside bloated and lazy; heavy scent of cow parsley down every lane.  The rape fields are looking green and unfinished and there is no sign of flax yet – late or not growing this year ?  Dunno.  Still a cold North wind but bright and clear and since it is half term a reduction in the volume of homicidal drivers around. 

Indoor pursuits

29 May, 2006

Thanks to lillymarlene for a lovely recipe for french country bread, I got all enthusuastic and made some great rhubarb jam .  I'd never heard of it but the Jollies were raving about the stuff at the Isle of Wight last week and rhubarb is the only current crop from the plot.  Thwarted by the nasty cold North wind today and some residual lathargy from the run I served it warm at tea with the following recipe for Scottish morning rolls from Karen Saunders:

150ml milk, 150ml water, 1 tbsp granulated sugar, 1.5 tsp salt, 450g white flour, 2.5tsp yeast.

Add liquids, sugar, salt, yeast and flour to breadmaker and run dough programe.  Divide dough into 8 and shape into balls, pressing down on baking sheet into 1 inch think discs.  Cover and leave to prove (1/2 hour) before baking at 200 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Did nothing for my waistline but everything for my standing with the little darlings.

An encounter with a man of the cloth

29 May, 2006

There's been so much rain that my plant labels are verging on the illegible.  Covered in mud spattered by the force of falling raindrops, I have a real fear that I'll get my radishes and leeks confused – if it ever warms up enough for either of them to grow. 

After a quick check on the plot between showers with little darling #2 on Saturday, I went down with the petrol strimmer on Sunday to blitz the perimeter weeds.  The ground is too wet underfoot to do much else and I'm well aware that I'm the sort of allotment neighbour for whom an ASBO for weed propogation is only a wink away.  One of the effects of my novice status is that I often choose to be at the allotments at different times to my neighbours – I haven't learn't the prime times yet.  Universally friendly they may be, but I see very little of them – an observation particulary true of the intimidatingly neat plot next door.  I've been told that this is managed by the retired vicar of the local parish, but I've only seen him a couple of times and he's been a bit short on the cheery wave which constitutes the entry-level greeting down there.  Anyway, he was there on Sunday so I was feeling rather guilty at disturbing his peace and quiet as I roared away and laughed manically at the weeds falling before my enthusuastic stimming.  When I'd had my lust sated and the perimeter restored to respectability, I spluttered the motor to a halt, caught his eye and walked up to him in the restored silence calling an apology for all the row.  I needn't have worried, as the cloth of this particular man seems to have spread to his hearing.  He cupped a be-soiled palm behind his ear and bellowed 'what?' at me before grinning broadly and shaking my hand 'You'll have to shout – I'm hard of hearing'.  So much for my guilty concience.

Forecast is improving, so there may be some proper gardening to do soon.      

Awful medal

28 May, 2006


 I told you it was grim.  It wasn't welcome when they plonked it over my head in the rain last Sunday – it felt heavy enough to finally tip me over the edge.  I've had horse brasses and orange art deco jobs but even the little darlings weren't keen on stealing this one.

Great Photo

26 May, 2006


Found this on Loic Le Meur.  Credit to the photographer Hugo – marvellous.