Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Round again

It's going to be hot today, but was still pleasantly cool at 6:40. Last night we had a picnic on Castle Hill and watched the rather lovely sunset; this morning the sun was up before I was, and busy burning away the early morning mist as I went out. But it won't be all that long until I'll be getting up in the dark.

Another slightly faster run this morning, and with a time of 15:02 it probably won't be long until I'm faster than 15 minutes and need to extend the route a bit. Ultimately I'd like to get as far as the river on my standard morning route, and perhaps have one longer run each week along the towpath.

It was noticeable this morning that the local spider population, obviously bored of their usual diet of flies, moths and the occasional wasp, had decided to spice it up a bit by trying to capture an early-morning runner or two. There were strands of web strung across the path all over the place. However, this is one area in running where being a bit overweight is an advantage, and I managed to battle through without being trapped. I'm sure the little eight-legged monsters were sitting in the trees thinking how much good eating there was on me.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Warm running

And this morning's running first was: the warmest temperature I've run in yet, around 20C. It was noticeably harder work than running in 10C, though upping the intervals to 2.5 run/1 walk certainly contributed. The walking minutes seemed to last about ten seconds each.

Despite being a bank holiday, it's looking like being a fantastic day today.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Two days running

This morning was the first time I've been out running on two consecutive days. It was also the first time that I haven't run faster than my previous outing. Coincidence? Probably not. I did see some other runners this morning who were in even less good shape than me. That's another first!

It's probably a good thing not to try to speed up on every outing. I really need to work on stamina first, and increase the run/walk ratio of my intervals. All the beginners guides stress the importance of building up slowly and gradually.

There's a lot of good advice out there for beginners:

1) Get some good running shoes from a good running shoe shop. I went to Sweatshop, where they certainly appear to know what they're talking about; they got me to run barefoot over a magic device that detects how your feet move, then I tried out the shoes on a treadmill (perspiring profusely!). I came away with a pair of Asics GT-2100s, and I'm very happy with them - they're probably half a size bigger than I would have chosen on my own, but this is definitely a good thing; they're very comfortable. They weren't particularly cheap, but you don't need to spend money on much else. The Forerunner can wait for a few months.

2) Walk for three or four weeks first. Dull, but important for building strength and avoiding injury when you start running.

3) Stretch before each run. Warm up with a few minutes walking. Cool down afterwards with a few more minutes walking. Stretch again at the end.

4) Don't try to build up too quickly. Start with running/walking intervals and build up gradually. Run at "talking pace" - not so fast that you couldn't hold a conversation. I'm not very good at doing this, and have a tendency to go too fast.

5) Make sure you take rest days - three or four days running a week is plenty to begin with.

6) If you're going out first thing in the morning - which is a great time to run - put all your kit out the night before. My brain usually wakes up about two minutes into the run, and I'm on autopilot while I'm getting up. The other day I found myself putting my walking boots on by mistake. The more you can do to simplify the process of getting out of the house, the better. I've even heard it suggested that you should sleep in your running gear!

7) If it hurts, stop until it doesn't.

8) Stick with it for a few weeks. I found it quite hard to begin with, but it gets easier fairly quickly and becomes very enjoyable. I wasn't hooked after a week of running - hence the hiatus while we were away on holiday - but I think I'm pretty much hooked now.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Cool running

In contrast to recent days, I had no trouble at all getting up at 6.30 this morning to go running, despite having been up until midnight clearing up after a most enjoyable dinner party. I'm sometimes a little, um, tired on Friday mornings following the Thursday dinner party, but I think my zealous running enthusiasm moderated my wine intake. Expect I'll feel it later, though.

A definite chill in the air this morning, though still quite comfortable running weather. But I'm going to need something a little warmer as winter approaches; gloves, in particular, when it gets really cold. Is it possible to buy running gear that doesn't have company logos all over it? Most of my kit comes from a closing-down sale at that sports shop in Lion Yard (which seems to specialise in closing-down sales), and it's adorned with a variety of corporate insignia. This morning I had Nike shorts, an Umbro top, and somebody else's socks. As well as not being a very harmonious assemblage, I'd prefer to be wearing kit that wasn't advertising sportswear companies. I can't imagine the sportswear companies are particularly desperate for the endorsement of an overweight 39-year-old software developer, either.

Another very pleasant run, and continuing to get easier. The running intervals didn't seem so long, and the walking ones were quite long enough. I think I'll be ready for 2.5/1 intervals next week.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

2.36km in 15:34; run 2 walk 1

It's great, being a beginner at running. Once you've done the walking, bought the shoes, and taken that first running stride - which rather reminded me of jumping into a cold swimming pool - then it just gets better and better. Every run is a personal record of some sort; this morning I knocked 35 seconds off my mile pace, without particularly trying to. I can feel myself getting stronger from run to run, as my metabolism responds to this strange new activity, and the feeling after each run is just fantastic. Last night I was like a little kid on Christmas eve - I kept waking up and looking at the clock to see if it was time to go running yet.

There's something new on each outing. Today was the first time I've run a loop, rather than out-and-back, and also the first route that hasn't been completely flat. I was surprised how much difference a bit of uphill made (this is Cambridge, it was pretty gentle really), and also how much more uphill than downhill there seemed to be.

Of course, it's very early days - tomorrow it'll be a month since my first run, and (since I didn't do any running on holiday) I've had a grand total of just eleven outings so far. There's a long, long way to go to my first objectives, which are to lose 15 pounds and to get fit enough to run 10k without stopping. All the beginner guides stress the importance of building up slowly and taking plenty of rest days. Occasionally I'll catch a glimpse of myself reflected in a window, and it's not a pretty sight. But I am starting to believe that I really can turn into a runner.


Monday, August 22, 2005

1.95 km in 13:30; run 2 walk 1

...which is an 11:11 mile pace, it says here, though admittedly only for just over a mile. And I've upped the intervals to two minutes running (which seemed a very long time) followed by one minute walking (which went by very quickly). It felt like quite hard work, but I also felt I could have gone on for a while. A little bit further tomorrow, to see if we can settle on a route that takes somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

First Saturday run

Hmm, I must be getting keener on this running lark if it gets me out of the house by 8am on a weekend morning. Same route & intervals again, ever so slightly further this time, to outside number 5. But it's a bungalow with quite a long frontage, so this is at least a noticeable advance on number 7. Oh yes.

I think I'll try 2/1 minute run/walk intervals next week, and vary the routine a little bit - at the moment I'm running faster for the first half to see how far I get, then pootling back very gently - not that my outbound pace is very much more than a pootle. So instead I'll do the warm-up walk to the top of Leys Avenue, then run to some fixed point and back again, then cool-down walk back home. I'll have a play with the Gmaps pedometer to pick some suitable point, but I'll aim for between 15 and 20 minutes in addition to warm-up/cool-down. Hopefully it won't be that long before I can manage a Milton Rd/Gilbert Rd/Carlton Way loop in this time.

Friday, August 19, 2005


I'm not going running in that.

Actually it's nearly stopped now.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Getting out of bed

Same schedule this morning, but got just a little bit further before turning round at 9 minutes - this time to outside number 7 Hurst Park Avenue. At this rate I'll be reaching Milton Road next week.

Had a good deal of trouble getting out of bed this morning, though, despite Radio 3 playing some fairly vigorous "waking-up music". I suspect the 5am child incident didn't help. Once up, though, gorgeous misty morning clearing to blue skies, etc, etc. And running does make you feel good. Especially when you stop.

On the way home I met the lovely little old lady who delivers our morning paper, and who's been doing so like clockwork for a good while now. But she told me that she may be stopping, because they want to pay her by bank deposit rather than cash in hand, and she's worried about tax. I'm sure she's not going to be paying any, but it clearly worries her. I hope this doesn't mean that we'll be going back to a random selection of teenagers who have trouble getting out of bed in the mornings. I don't wish to disparage teenagers in general - I'm sure there are some who are reliable and conscientious. But we've never had one delivering our paper.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


A bit of a stroll this morning to go and retrieve my bike from the bike shop, which has relocated from Arbury Court to Green End Road. Gorgeous morning sunshine, the bike bloke opening his shop on time, and a gentle ride over the Green Dragon bridge, across Stourbridge and Coldhams Commons, and down past the airport. If you have to commute, it doesn't get much better than this. Think I might go back the long way along the river this evening.

Mind you, I think it's curtains for the other bike. After struggling with it for an hour at the weekend, I realised that the back axle seems to have suffered some terminal internal structural failure. Given that, the slightly bent front wheel, and the fact that I never liked it very much anyway (it was always a bit ridiculous owning a mountain bike in East Anglia), it's time to consider a replacement.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Good old 5W, [1.5R, 1W] x 4, 3W again

Well, managed a grand total of no running whatsoever while we were away on holiday, even though the house had a mini-gym in the basement complete with treadmill. But funnily enough after staying up into the early hours with my fellow-holidaymakers, I couldn't quite motivate myself to go running at 6.30am. And during the rest of the day we were, well, busy with children, or eating, or drinking.

It doesn't seem to have set me back too much, though - despite last week's excesses, I've lost 1.5kg in the past fortnight, and this morning's run was certainly no harder than the previous one. I even got very slightly further, to outside no 17. Onwards...

Friday, August 05, 2005

5W, [1.5R, 1W] x 4, 3W again

Fearlessly out in the rain this morning. Well, quite heavy drizzle, anyway. Got as far as outside 25 Hurst Park Ave - which reflects the addition of the five minute warm-up walk, rather than any enormous increase in speed.

Right, packing.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

5W, [1.5R, 1W] x 4, 3W

...i.e. five minute warm-up walk, four lots of run one and a half minutes, walk one minute, then three minutes cool-down walk. It's feeling marginally easier now; I might upgrade to one-and-three-quarter minutes next week. Oooh, the excitement.

I'm still pretty glad I'm doing this first thing in the morning when there are few people about to witness my shuffling, wobbly progress. No doubt when I'm striding along with the wind in my heels in a few months time, I'll be happy to go running any time. But that seems a long way off at the moment. And it is a great way to wake yourself up.

Took a new and exciting route this morning, as I was going over to pick up the car. We are a Mostly Carless household, sharing the use of my father-in-law's car on the rare occasions when we need motorised transport. Normally I cycle to work, five miles each way, though mysteriously this hasn't prevented me being overweight and not particularly fit (hence the running). But at least it means that I have some residual level of fitness - a few weeks back I was overcome with a mad urge to walk the five miles to work, which was actually very pleasant, early on a summer's morning. It took about an hour and a half, each way, and I didn't feel at all bad the next day, apart from a little stiffness in my shins.

However, the bike became sadly unwell on the way home last night, and I haven't had time to fix it. I had a go, but something funny seems to have happened to the back wheel; eldest daughter's running commentary wasn't helping a great deal either. So it's the car to work this morning, and instead of my usual back-street run, I decided to run over to father-in-law's flat to pick it up. I thought this might leave me with a bit of extra walking to do at the other end, but in the event I ended up with distance to spare, and did a loop round the little park on Carlyle Road, much to the bemusement of a homeless gentleman slumped on a bench, and his extremely large dog.

A rest day tomorrow, then we're off on holiday on Friday. But I'll try to keep running.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Morning run

Added five minutes warm-up walking this morning, as well as remembering to do some stretching. Then ten minutes of run 1.5, walk 1. Had two days off at the weekend as both my left ankle and right hamstring were feeling a bit funny, but both were fine this morning.