Thursday, 9 February 2012

Ask me a question!

Many people who know me personally already realise I sometimes ask a lot of questions.  What makes it even more tiring for them is that I tend to ask 'open' questions.  Besides, I have really gained from picking people's brains about running, cycling and so on.  Now it could be your turn!

Ask me and I'll do my best about running, cycling, giving up meat, being tee total, being a Christian, being a Dad, a husband, the time I left a door open in a high security prison I once visited.....

Please just use the comment section below.


  1. Did anyone escape?

  2. You will be pleased to know that nobody escaped through my carelessness!

    It was back in the 1990s and I had been to a meeting. When it was finished someone I knew quite well asked me if I'd like to have a look around as I had not been there before. We walked around the various buildings and I was struck by the levels of security. But! But I was so used to having doors close automatically behind me, I didn't close a gate behind me after we'd walked through (this was in the grounds). Unbeknown to me we were being watched on the CCTV and then a very loud voice blared out and ordered me to shut the gate properly. It was so embarrassing as there were a load of prisoners in a nearby exercise area who instantly jeered at me. Served me right.

    Another time I might share with you about getting locked in with a prisoner in a Court cell.

  3. I've been told I need to raise my heart rate. I don't like running and don't have a bike. What do you suggest?

  4. Many thanks for asking and I'll do my best but please remember I'm not a Doctor. There are of course many ways to raise your heart beat - some healthier than others and it is sensible for anyone with possible health issues to seek advice before embarking on a radical training programme.

    In general terms it's always best to build up to things gradually and to push yourself a little further each time you exercise. If you're starting from scratch you could go for a brisk walk and then extend the route or increase the speed as you get fitter. If there are some hills nearby perhaps you could include them. Do keep an open mind about running and take a look at my November 2011 blog post about Top Tips for New Runners.

    There are a number of heart rate monitors which might be worth investing in. These involve a chest band transmitting the heart rate to a watch on your wrist, which has all kinds of functions.

    As a general rule (and I have blogged about this recently) your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. Depending on your age, raising your heart rate to 120-140 beats per minute will take you into an aerobic training level. Another rule of thumb is to exercise at a level where you can talk in shortish bursts, perhaps a sentence at a time and just getting a little out of breath. That level is certainly raising your heart rate and provide you with some good exercise.

    Finally, it's important for anyone to not "over do it". Get to know your own body and get a feel for knowing how far to push yourself. Runners and to a certain extent cyclists often need a recovery time between workouts. This is often a days' rest.

    Hope that helps, I wish you good luck!


  5. Hi Doug,

    When did you give up meat!?

    Natasha from

  6. Natasha

    I can't remember exactly when because it was really a case of eating less and less until it became so infrequent I thought I might as well be a vegetarian completely (albeit the occasional egg and piece of fish) - I think that was a year ago, maybe a little more.

    Best regards,


  7. Doug,

    Would you be willing to do a book review for my blog?


  8. Natasha

    I would be delighted to. I'll send an email to you via your in-laws.


  9. Hi Doug

    I've just stumbled across your blog! I hope you don't mind me asking a question. I've been running for quite a few years but no great distances - a couple of 10k runs here and there. The thing is I just can't seem to run very fast! What's the best training for getting your speed up or are some people just not made to run fast!! I'd really like to run a half marathon but feel the need to get faster before I tackle it. What's your advice?

    1. Hi Debbie,

      Great question! Here's a couple of suggestions:

      Firstly you could "force" yourself to run faster by running on a treadmill, if you have access to one. Set a speed and stick to it for the duration of your run. If I do a 10k treadmill run, I normally do it at an average of 7.5 or 8mph. That will probably also tell you your running statistics such as your time/mile and a good way of monitoring your progress, perhaps your heart rate as well. Always build up gradually.

      While you're on a treadmill, why not try out some of the pre-set training programmes. These might simulate running up and down hills at different speeds and might stretch you a bit.

      This might also lead you into interval training and I do recommend this. In brief you run short bursts at a faster speed to build up your capacity to pump more blood around. When I'm out running and I've warmed up properly, I spot a lamp post and sprint for it and then ease back to a jog to get my breath back. Then I do it again and again.

      Another way is to go running with someone else. I've only done this a few times but it has worked for me. Somehow the pace seems quicker than my normal speed, kind of egging each other on.

      I've also found the atmosphere of a race makes me run faster, which is just as well.

      Do you have a way of monitoring your progress? While I wouldn't buy a Garmin, an ordinary watch is fine for timing your runs over a set route.

      For your first 'half' maybe just aim to get around. Endurance is more important than speed. When I did my first half (at Bath), I aimed for a sub 2 hour time but managed 1.42 - 1.48 each time. Anything under 2 hours is good for anyone I think; really good for a first try.

      Hope that helps; I'd really like to know how you get on.

      Best wishes,