‘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. 

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.


26 May, 2006

Although I'm still sleeping like an exhausted man and fighting the summer sniffles, I've put my mind to planning the next running event.  A summer of 10k and half marathon action seems wise so's not to lose the edge which I've grudgingly pushed my flabby body into.  A late November marathon should let training fit with the allotment, the little darlings and holidays.

Aims have got to be to get the 10k and half marathon speeds down to give me a chance at a 3:30 marathon, so the schedule has half's at Bourton, Milton Keynes, Bristol, Kenilworth and Stroud and 10ks at Frampton Green (lovely race), Pinewood, Bugatti and Aldbourne.  1:34 for half and 40 minute 10k (cough…..).

That's obviously far more symetrical than I'll manage, but it's a reasonable plan.   

Learning from the Isle of Wight

24 May, 2006

I planned for 3:35 and printed off one of the Runners World wristbands to help me.  I spent most of the first half about 20 – 40 seconds up on this but began to lose time after 14 miles.  This means that I did the first 14 in 1:55 or 8:21 minutes per mile and the second 12.2 in 1:57 or 9:35 mm.  Looking at the course profile doesn’t show that the second half is particularly tough for hills so I guess I slowed because I started faster than I was fit for, really.  The hills and the heavy, heavy rain were clearly attritional factors, but the basic lesson must be that I was under prepared for what I was aiming to do on this course on this day.  That is an analysis supported by the fatigue which I’m feeling now and the infection which even echinacea isn’t fighting off for me.  Issues, then:

1.      I was following a modified RW ultimate programme, but missed some mileage through colds and stuff in January – February and through a strange lack of motivation for 10 days in April.  End result was long runs of 18,20,20,22 instead of 18,20,20,20,22,18 so whilst what I did was more than ever before, it was clearly not enough.

2.      Speed work was also better than ever before but also sub-programme. Tough when you run solo as I tend to.

3.      Diet was generally good ‘though the wine bottle and the chocolate bar always look more attractive through the winter.   

Learns for the future:

1.      Do the programme (duh..)

2.      Join the club – I’ve tried to get involved with the local club but find it really difficult to make club nights fit with work and everything else.  Try harder.

3.      Expect Spring events to be harder than autumn ones – training though the Summer is so  much more pleasurable it’s bound to have an effect on the outcome.

In more general terms, I’ll favour flatter courses for the future and avoid events where the motorists are out there with the runners.  They were generally OK on the IoW, but I’d rather not have that extra concern.  They do their best to murder me in training, I’m not keen to give them another chance.