Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Concluding 2014...

To sum up this run, it was a truly magical, inspirational and a fantastic way of rounding 2014 off.

Bloggers, sporty types and the like will often review their year by looking back at the achievements, race wins, PBs, Strava Course Records, Strava King of the Mountains and all kinds of other indicators.  I would have to search hard to find more than one or two of those.  Instead I just wanted to reflect on a few things that occurred to me during my #ChristmasRun earlier this afternoon.

The run itself was over very familiar terrain and was a little over 10 miles and took a shade under 1.5 hours.  Soft winter sunshine lit the rolling Bedfordshire countryside around the Downs in a beautiful way.  I crunched through a few icy bits here and there, although happily the temperature has risen a few degrees today - but I'm still needing to remember how to ice skate though.  

I was greatly encouraged by:
  • seeing a couple of other runners and having two cyclists greet me in a friendly way
  • finishing another year in good shape
  • running up a few hills and having a rush of endorphins to fuel me along as I panted my way up.    I wasn't quite at full capacity but not far off.  It's these hills I love these days, although I do just about remember avoiding them like the plague when I started running a few years back!  In fact I reckon these hills, on their own, have made a huge difference with my running ability and my cardiovascular health.  Not so sure about running down them though, that's something I don't do too well
  • God's undeserved grace towards me. 
  • Thoughts of doing this kind of run in my 60s and 70s

I started 2014 by cycling every day, instead of running.  That was also a brilliant thing to do and all part of trying to be in good shape for the 150 mile Coast to Coast in a Day in June.  You know, as much as I love cycling, I don't think I'm very good at it.  Sure I completed the event in 11 hours and ?20 minutes with bucket loads of satisfaction and memories and huge respect for my friends Andrew, Robin, Josh and Jeremy who did it with me.

My family.  Yes my family who continue to be so tolerant of me as I disappear for runs, bike rides and the like at all those totally inconvenient times.  Plus all those stinky HH tops and socks, not to mention the trail of muddy footprints through the house and the sight of me "resting my eyes" watching an evening TV programme (really, as if......?).

Looking to 2015....

These are some of the many thoughts whirring around in my mind and I finally feel that I'm actually on holiday and away from work.  This has taken me almost two weeks to get to this stage and I'm only just getting there (I unfortunately managed to remember my computer password for work, which means I still have a little way to go).  Amongst those thoughts were plenty of family thoughts and where our journeys may take us; this includes Hannah who has taken to kayaking really well this year.  I'm actually very impressed with her determination and grit plus the encouragement at all the coaches and members in the Leighton Buzzard Canoe Club.

With health, running and staying in good shape I am kicking around a few of these:
  • Running 1000 miles in 2015
  • Doing the Chiltern 100 cycle sportive in May
  • I have entered the draw for the Prudential Ride London 100 cycle sportive
  • Focussing more on writing health related articles for other people and increasing my income from this and rely less on my criminal justice work
  • Getting my act together and getting my e-book published
  • Being more proactive in giving a few more talks
  • Really getting to grips with stretching, being more supple and flexible
  • Let's look at doing some podcasts and YouTube pieces on healthy living
  • Did I ought to do something really radical that pushes me to the absolute limit?????

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Sometimes, the harder the better?

I am not sure if any of this will make any sense.  My gut feeling is that this might strike a chord with some runners.  Here goes.

We all like to run on nice sunny days in perfect conditions and through wonderful scenery.  In some ways you could justifiably say "nothing could be better".  All this is true but sometimes I think there is a place for a really hard run when the weather is horrible - perhaps it's cold, wet with driving rain and high winds.

I remember some runs in the past when my face has been blasted by icy rain and sleet.  I have been wet through to the skin and the only thing keeping me warm is my on-going movement; if I had to stop for anything I'd instantly freeze.  Once I remember having a little bit of a tumble and looking down at blood dribbling down my legs, mixed in with muddy water and into my socks.  I can remember times when I have gone too far and I have been hurting all over.

A handful of times have seen me running around Stevenage in the dark, after work, in freezing conditions.  The heavy traffic with its noise and spray seems to make running harder.  Perhaps even worse is when you run against a traffic jam in those horrible conditions and people are watching you.

These are all important runs to me.

Stress, mental well-being

From time to time these hard runs are important mentally and for my well being.  The importance often seems to be related to work and the stresses and strains which seem to crop up occasionally.  Having a hard run seems to be a great way of overcoming those issues and simply rising above them.  It's almost a case of "I don't care how unreasonable, stressful and awful it is at work, you won't break me.  You can try as hard as you want but you won't beat me".

After a hard run, I invariably feel fantastic.  Those problems are still there, running doesn't change that.  The difference is being able to face those challenges, head-on and work through them one by one.  Sometimes this means letting somethings go, dropping them, letting someone win the argument even though I believe they are still wrong.  There are times when it's simply best to step back and allow someone else to feel a sense of victory and for me to know a sense of humility (even though I'm still right!).  It goes without saying there are times when I might look back on my part in things and if I am honest with myself, I might need to say "sorry" or to put something right myself.  This is about reconciliation and it's amazing how running can help make things clearer.

What's going on?

Naturally a hard run, of a decent length, will open the Runner's High tap.  Mentally I feel good, sometimes absolutely on top of the world and unbeatable. The Runner's High is the release of those feel-good endorphins which bring that lovely feeling and can last for several hours.

Having a hard run is also an excellent way of keeping things in perspective, not allowing problems to become bigger than they really are.  Isn't it easy for us to see our own problems as big problems?

For all of these reasons and many others, I need a hard run every now and again.  It does me good.  As I said right at the start, I'm not sure if this is going to make sense to anyone.  Does it?  Let me know.


What is the Runner's High?
Running to save my career

Saturday, 27 December 2014

My #ChristmasRun everyday

For the last week I have been on holiday from work and I have been enjoying some great runs.  One of the utterly fantastic things about my holiday so far is that I have run EVERY DAY!  To date I have had eight runs.  This is something I had been looking forward to for a while because:

  • I can handle daily running for a couple of weeks
  • A great way of burning up all of those extra Christmas calories
  • Running in the winter landscape can be a magical experience
  • A way of grabbing some much needed daylight, some "me" time, so peaceful
  • Burns off the frustrations and anxieties which have built up at work in the last few weeks (things are pretty demanding and challenging right now)
  • I see it as a mini challenge which I have enjoyed before

In fact I did something pretty similar around Christmas 2012 and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Last year in 2013 I continued with the theme and cycled everyday, instead of running.  So this year it's back to running and I'm thoroughly enjoying it because:
  • Every run has been completely different: my mood, the weather, the route and the distance (shortest is just under 2 miles, longest over 10 miles).  Yesterday it was frosty and frozen early in the morning.  Today I ran in the afternoon over and this included some muddy tracks
  • I have had a mixture of long runs (my favourite!) and shorter runs
  • Running on Christmas Day, at daybreak was special.  Only a couple of cars seen; no cyclists or other runners 
  • Today's run was the best.  In fact it was my second 10+ mile run during this last week and although the weather was pretty cold (including a little snow flurry), I came back absolutely glowing and it's as if I could almost feel the blood buzzing right around my whole body: it was a wonderful run
  • It has been an excellent way of spending some time thinking about all kinds of things.  Amongst those thoughts have been about my next challenge and I still haven't quite made up my mind.  Could be a running challenge, or perhaps cycling, or both or even something new.  Either way it's a nice thing to chew over as I still haven't decided
  • I have been tweeting using the hashtag #ChristmasRun and it's been nice seeing what other people from around the world have been doing with their own Christmas running.
  • I still have quite a few more runs to do.  I'm due back at work on 5th January and I'm planning to run each day until then.
Please leave me a comment if you've been running over Christmas.  What have you done, what's been special about it?

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Avoid the temptation John!

I'm pleased to be getting to know my friend John better these days.  It's surprising how much you can get to know someone through running, as opposed to quick chats at church.  It is also a pleasure in being able to encourage John along the path to become really fit and able to undertake his "challenge" in 2015 with real confidence.

The problem for now is that John has a bad cold.  Added to that he works in retail and it is naturally a very busy time in the "run" up to Christmas.  Dr Doug thinks he could be "burning the candle at both ends" which as we all know is a well proven diagnosis.  The treatment, as I have recommended before, is backing off from running and allowing his body to heal.  This will avoid a straight forward cold developing into anything worse and lower the likelihood of spreading it around.

John is showing signs of being frustrated and looks at his running gear and feels tempted to get out there.  This advice follows my recent post for John. Here's my latest advice:

Resist the temptation Brother!
Allow your body a chance to heal and cope with the demands of your work and family life.  You have Christmas to look forward to!

Buy a copy of Runner's World
This will allow to to instantly become an Armchair Runner.  Without doubt you will read all kinds of useful tips and learn more about running.  It will whet your appetite for 2015.

Speaking of 2015
Late December is a good time to reflect back on the year and consider your journey to date.  You have successfully taken those early steps in becoming a runner and you're aspiring to do more.  Well done. Now think of what you would like to achieve in 2015.... how will you get there?  What steps do you need to take?

If you cannot resist your running gear
Then put it on and wear it around the house.  Do some VERY GENTLE STRETCHES and remember my advice about normally making sure your muscles are sufficiently warmed before stretching.  As you won't be running before you stretch, please take it easy and think of it as limbering rather than ambitious stretches.

Consider buying some more running gear, perhaps
There could be some bargains around.  Wiggle is a good place to look, especially if you use my affiliate link (hint) and I dare say their prices are dropping in the last few days before Christmas

Get inspired
Read my blog and some of the runs I have had in the past.  Find some other blogs about running and you'll find some fascinating accounts of the life changing nature of running.  Get some inspiration from other people.  You could even start your own blog!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Lack of running shops?

Right now there seems to be a complete lack of running shops around here.  I'm not aware of there ever has been a proper running shop in the Luton and Dunstable area.  It bothers me.

What bothers me even more is that a couple of really good running shops have folded in recent years - in Harpenden and St Albans (both prosperous places).  I prefer to shop locally whenever I can, so it's all a bit depressing.  I appreciate seeing what I am buying and knowing it's spot on and right.  I like having a chat about running, cycling, food etc.

The excitement with a new pair of running shoes!

I know in London there are quite a few to choose from: Runners Need, Run and Become, Sweatshop and undoubtedly plenty of others as well.  Other large conurbation's will probably have some running shops but all this has got me thinking about the local scene.  Here's a few thoughts....

Why communities need a good running shop
  • Gait Analysis.  A decent running shop will be able to assess your footfall to make sure you get the right kind of shoes for your feet.  This could be because you under or over pronate.  Having the right pair of shoes makes all the difference in your running comfort.  A Gait Analysis is sometimes done by filming someone on a treadmill and playing the film back in slow motion to expertly examine how the foot falls and rolls forward.  You can't do this by mail order!
  • Advice from people who run and know their stuff.  This can cover shoes, clothing, injuries, nutrition, local routes, nearby races and giving encouragement
  • Trying on the clothing to get a good fit
  • Could be the focal point for runners in the area; the base of a club for instance
  • To promote running as a healthy sport and lifestyle.  Success breeds success: the sight of more runners is likely to be an encouragement for more and more new runners
Reasons why running shops might go out of business
  • Running can be a cheap sport.  Once someone has invested in a pair of shoes (typically £60+) they might not need to buy anything else.  A "fully equipped" runner might invest up to £1000 if they are taking the sport seriously - two or more pairs of running shoes make sense, clothing for different seasons, a Garmin and a selection of water bottles, energy gels etc
  • People can buy via mail order from a whole wide variety of outlets.  Myself I like Wiggle and you can even take a look via my affiliate link for their latest gear
  • Town centres in decline: the traditional High Street has had quite a pounding over recent years. More locally in Dunstable there are many boarded up shops.  Naturally many people expect to buy their "trainers" for £20 and cannot understand why other people splash out four or five times that for running shoes.
  • Making the books balance: the overheads for a shop could be crippling for a small business by the time Business Tax has been paid.  Plus there's employer costs, utilities, bank charges, stock, fixtures and fittings, cash-flow and probably a whole host of other things even before a profit is drawn from the business
  • Suppliers charging high prices (due to low volumes, limited credit?)
  • Lack of commercial experience and skill.  Being a good runner does not translate into being business-savvy.  
What could make a new running shop successful?
  • Being sure there are existing runners around.  Any running clubs or other keep fit clubs?  Is it better to have a big slice of a small cake, or a small slice of a big cake?  Hope that makes sense.
  • Are there many fitness clubs, gyms etc where people already go?  Where do they buy their gear from?  Could a shop offer a discount to local runners in a club?
  • Being and looking a convincing advocate of the sport
  • Contemporary design - bright, eye catching, prominent
  • Becomes known for great service - gait analysis, helpful staff, inspirational staff
  • Has the right brands at the right prices
  • Nearby other related businesses where potential customers might visit - bicycle shop, health food shop, fitness club and "sharing" customers
  • Having a great on-line presence.  Any shop without a good website and e-trading has to be seriously out of date.  At the very least an ebay store can help keep the cash flowing, even if the profit margins are not high
  • Having a customer base over a wide area i.e. not only the local town.  Something to make people call you from a far-off distance or to make it worth their while in travelling to you
  • Independent -v- franchise -v- chain.... perhaps they all have their pros and cons
Is all this a fair assessment?  If only there was a running shop nearby!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Possibly the best reason to run?

Yesterday morning I went for another 10+ mile run along the Grand Union canal towpath.  As usual I think of many different things such as work, my surroundings, blogging, sorting through problems and so on.  I was thinking about running itself and I was working through why I like running so much (perhaps even more than cycling).

I have blogged before about the best Reasons to Run.  As I see it today it occurred to me:

running is pure simplicity

Some of the nice simple features of running are:

  • No need fancy equipment.  Just you, your feet, your legs and a sense of challenge
  • Once you have your running shoes, it can cost nothing to run
  • You don't need to go to a special place to run; you can run almost anywhere.  If you can find a variety of routes, taking you over different terrain, so much the better
  • You can run whenever you want
  • You don't actually need GPS tracking, music or other gizmos
  • You listen to your breathing, your heart beating and your footfall. You're more in tune with your own body and how it all fits together
  • No need to worry about any technical problems - i.e. you won't get a puncture, run out of petrol
  • It's simply you, your feet and legs moving you forward.  What could be simpler?
To become a "runner" you need a start and this can be at different points.  For some fortunate people, they might already be fit, active, healthy, young, ideal weight and can just start to run with the minimum of fuss.  Others might be none of those things and will have to endure many times of staggering around their neighbourhood, gasping, heaving, panting, hurting and throwing up.  You might end up getting home in a real mess, snot all over your face and you're bright red.  Your legs might feel like jelly and you remember all those horrible school PE lessons when you were sent out to run around a field in the pouring rain.  You resented the PE teacher who'd be nice and warm in a waterproof jacket and you would be wearing a short sleeved tee shirt and feel all self conscious in your shorts.  And now, years later, you're doing this voluntarily.  Does it make sense?  You ask WHY?  AM I INSANE FOR WANTING TO BECOME A RUNNER?

Once you're past initial that stage and can run further and then you get to the point where you're actually starting to enjoy it, you are then a RUNNER!  At this stage you realise how simple it can be.

Sure, you need proper running shoes and I have always advocated this.  Having the right clothing can help you stay a little more comfortable.  Other than that you don't need anything at all.

Simple.  Pure simplicity.  Enjoy it.

Friday, 19 December 2014

"Should I run with a cold?" asks John

"Should I run with a cold?" asks my friend John.   John, by the way, is my latest subject in coaching and encouraging him to run (he's training for a specific event next year). He's been doing fine until now and he's gone down with a bug which he anticipates will knock him out until after Christmas.  That seems a long time to me.

I guess we're all different.  Some people need to take complete rest to get through a cold or flu and prevent it developing into something more problematic.  Other people aren't fazed at all.

Just as I was about to write my answer for John, I realised I had blogged about this before - simply follow this link and there's the answer!  Here's wishing you well John.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Don't ever forget why you became a runner

This evening I had a short run, just a couple of miles.  Not fast, nothing spectacular at all.  The route was around our neighbourhood and included four times around a block.

The amazing thing was remembering the time when I started showing signs of becoming a runner and plodding around the same streets and weighing three stones more than I do now.  Apart from the weight slowing me down, I was just so incredibly unfit to the point where I look back on myself then and feel ashamed.

That was in 2008.  I was stressed out because of work and found it difficult to cope at times but something turned those worries into a desire to shake myself upside-down and inside-out to become a runner.  Since then I have run thousands of miles, cycled even more, blogged endlessly about both and absolutely loved it.

So this evening in the frosty, damp, dark streets in my neighbourhood I felt so thankful for being able to become a runner.  Yes I'm even thankful for all the hassle that caused me to take up running and to keep me going ever since.

Two questions:
  1. If you are an existing runner, do you remember why you became a runner?
  2. If you are NOT a runner, does this help in any way?

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Today's run and did I tell you.....?

Ivinghoe Lock: frosty December morning
Not the best selfie, granted.  You will have to take my word for it - this is me having reached the first Ivinghoe Lock on the Grand Union canal as it runs through Bedfordshire.

As usual on Saturday mornings, I take the opportunity to run while Hannah is having her dose of kayaking with the local club (LBCC).  Today's run was frustratingly just under the 10 mile mark and alas I didn't have enough time to go any further.  Drat.  Drat but never mind.

It was a truly inspirational run.  Right throughout the day I have felt really great - such a wonderful feeling of all round "well being" and happiness.  This was partly because of the amazing conditions (clear skies, frost, -2 etc) but mostly because of my "mood".  I wanted a good run and although that's what I got, it wasn't quite how I expected it to be....

Yes I know, it was cold and this wasn't really any big deal.  Except that it took me "ages" to warm up - probably 25-30 minutes before my fingers were feeling nice and warm (normally this is where I hit a "wall" for a few minutes).

And next was that I was having to put some effort in!  I expected an easier run that it turned out to be!  I averaged an 8:30 minute/mile over what was a flat course.  I realised while I was running, feeling a little tired, I didn't have a run with my friend John.  Although John and I don't run hard/far it does nevertheless make a difference in not having had our run.

LBCC training!
I might have mentioned before, the Leighton Buzzard Canoe Club is actually the kayak club at nearby Linslade.  Note to self: ask about that sometime.

Well I thought I'd say that it's been really good training so far.  So much so, I have decided to join as a non-paddling member.  Also, while I'm at it I figured it would make sense for Rachel and Becky to join as well.  Before you ask, I did "mention" this to them and thankfully they were okay about it; just as well really.

So far I have been on two Thursday evening runs.  This lasts about an hour and has involved a bit of interval running.  Good for the ol' ticker etc.  No problems in holding my own, although I know I'd be easily outclassed by some of the other members on sprints.

The third training was altogether different.  This time it was led by Jim, who it has to be said, has already shown he has excellent all-round fitness, which is exactly what I DON'T have.  There were about 10 different exercises to do, all just outside the warmth of the Club House.  Push ups, pull ups, press ups, V sits and all kinds of other exercises, each working a different muscle group.  The idea was that everyone did 100 of each of the 10 exercises.

This showed up my many weaknesses.  While the "leg" based exercises were easy on the surface, some were quite testing and these included jumping up onto a step about 4 inches high and doing this 100 times.  Not easy and I got nowhere near the target.  "Not helped by doing it in the dark" was my pre-prepaed excuse for my pathetic performance with this.

Some of the other exercises were designed to build up your core muscles i.e. six packs in the making.  Flip this was hard going, as I knew it would be!  My daughter Hannah, breezed through!

Common with runners?
This lack of core strength is hardly surprising for myself and it is quite common with runners.  Runners are renowned for being stiff and not very flexible or supple.  Gradually I am addressing that but I do recognise that I don't have the all-round fitness I have had when I've been to the gym 2 or 3 times a week.

I suppose the beauty of these exercises is their simplicity i.e. you don't need expensive gym equipment to do them.  Often the weight of your own body and knowing what to do with it is all that is needed.  Food for thought.

Food for thought also is what my next challenge could be.  As you might know, my main goal during 2014 was the Coast to Coast in a Day cycle ride (150 miles across a hilly northern route).

Possibilities for my next challenge in 2015 could be:

  • Improve my swimming! Should include learning front crawl which could then open up some possibilities
  • Tackling some TdF climbs in France (yay!)
  • Two marathons, target time for each is well under 4 hours
  • Running 1000 miles in 2015
  • Chiltern 100 in a decent time
  • Still thinking of other options and open to suggestions.....

Friday, 12 December 2014

Harvest Morn milled linseed (Aldi)

In our healthy diet for sometime we have had linseed, also known as flaxseed.  We normally buy the seeds whole and then grind them in a coffee grinder into a fairly fine powder in batches to keep us going for a couple of weeks.

So it seemed a worthwhile buy when Rachel spotted this packet in Aldi.  As you see, it's pre-ground, or milled as they say, linseed with added gojiberries, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.  All this adds up to be a nice healthy cocktail of goodness with it being a good source of Omega 3 and plenty of fibre.

Getting it into our kids!
Easier said than done!  However, we use this in quite a few different ways, after all we need to get this into our kids somehow or other.  Ordinarily they'd turn their noses up at all this healthy stuff and inform us it is "not my favourite Daddy" thinking that if they say it politely enough they'll be let off.  This kind of good food gets into us by including it in our homemade bread: this works really well.

It's probably made it's way into all kinds of other dishes without any of us knowing - vegetarian lasagne, soups and other scrum my dishes too.  For just myself, it also features in my ultra healthy and well balanced Cyclist's Breakfast which is also affectionately  known in our house as 'gravel'.

Oh and the benefits of all this?
On the packet it says 2 tablespoons of milled linseed will help achieve the daily intake of fibre and Omega 3.  Fibre is something we all need to maintain our healthy digestive tract; in fact it's a whopping 15.7grams per 100grams.  Omega 3 helps the cardiovascular system in staying healthy.

As 41% of this is a mixture of dried gojiberries, pumpkin and sunflower seeds there's a range of other nutrients in there as well.  Gojiberries are said to be another of these super foods but this is probably faddy hype.

The cost?
Sorry, can't remember but we reckon it's under £2 for the 225gram pack, so not too bad and available from Aldi.

And we think....?
Use it for it's goodness as the flavour is a bit bland.  Added to soups, casseroles, bread, cereals, muesli and even your own special blend, just like my own Cyclist's Breakfast, or gravel as it is also affectionately known as.

It's probably worth keeping it in the fridge as the oils can become rancid if it's left unused for too long.  This is why we buy the linseeds and grind relatively small quantities.

Linseed / flaxseed

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Every little run helps

Last Saturday I was due, as normal, to have my long run but things didn't quite work out that way.  As usual I took Hannah over to Linslade for her kayaking on the Grand Union canal but this time there was some ice on the canal.

The club's decision was to hold back for a while, to allow the ice to thaw a little more as there is a danger the boats will get damaged.  This meant I only got a short run in, about 3 or 4 miles instead of the usual 10.  Initially I was feeling a tad disappointed and yet it was the right thing to happen because:

  • I had run 5 or 6 miles the day before with my friend John.  As you know I am his cruel, ruthless and totally mean trainer.  Besides, it's sometimes good to have a day in between runs to avoid injury.

  • It was an opportunity to have a few faster bursts, rather than the long, plodding kind of pace I have on my longer runs.  These faster bursts are great in raising my heart rate to the point I would have difficulty in talking more than a couple of grunts.  At this level it's best to limit these to less than 5 minutes.

  • The scenery was lovely!  A cold, crisp morning and I regret I have no photographs to truly capture the beauty of it.  In fact the only ones I have are:

Sorry, both of these photographs are scraping the barrel somewhat.

Nevertheless this was enough to have that "feel good" sensation and a dose of the Runner's High afterwards.  So another few miles done and an opportunity to think a few things through but nowhere near enough.  Right now I'm having a demanding time at work and I find I'm looking forward to the Christmas holidays more and more.  Although, mentally, I could have done with a longer run, it was not without it's benefit and I'm thankful for that.

Please check out this related post  Running - the benefits of little and often  which outlines more of the above in greater detail.  This post proves there is truth in this: for the regular or aspiring runner, every run does bring benefit and it's important to believe that.

Also related:
Note to self: I'm a runner, I need to run
Running in the winter

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The things people say

When cycling, people quite often hurl a few insults my way.  This last year has included "get the f***out of my way" and "you cyclists are all plebs" and followed by "you think you own the road, get off and on to the pavement where you belong".

Running on the other hand has brought some slightly more endearing comments and interactions.   As one occurred yesterday while on my latest stress busting run in Stevenage, I thought it was worth recording a few:

"Get those knees up, son" said a younger, heavier man in a cheery way

"We wish we could run like you" said an elderly couple with their walking sticks

"Wow you're brave - shorts in the winter - are you a postman?" asked someone in my neighbourhood

"You're doin' well, keep it up" said an encouraging man as I gasped up a steep hill

And my favourite -

"Nice arse" said a couple of middle aged women, walking their dogs on Dunstable Downs last year as I sped passed them.  

No, this is not me!

Monday, 8 December 2014

Latest stress busting run

A few things are happening which I mustn't forget to tell you about.  First things first, we are of course in December and this time of year is not exactly my favourite time of year for getting out there to clock up a few miles and yet there is still a certain appeal.  My next couple of posts will update you on some unexpected training with Leighton Buzzard Canoe Club and coaching my friend John.

Stress busting after work

The above photo was taken in Stevenage last week while on one of my post work runs.  People might knock Stevenage for having a few areas of deprivation, questionable architecture and not in-keeping with the rest of Hertfordshire.  And yet for me, I earn my daily crust there and it's great for running around.

Stevenage was designed as a post-war new town and largely laid out in the 1950s with significant growth taking place for some time afterwards.  In the 1950s the planners had the foresight to construct decent cycle paths and foot paths alongside the main roads which are generally dual carriage ways.  Certainly they could never have foreseen modern traffic volumes and yet it seems to work okay.  This means there are plenty of traffic free routes for runners and cyclists - great!

My latest run was after a particularly tough day at work and it did include a certain amount of stress for me.  Being able to log off, sign out and change into my running gear is a bit of a life-saver at the end of the day.

The conditions for this run aren't very apparent in the above grainy photo.  Actually it was cold, drizzly and pretty miserable.  I know this might sound a bit daft, I was almost hoping the conditions would have been far worse as this would give me something to fight against.  Does that make sense?  Let me explain.... sometimes it's almost as if I need a run to be really hard... to hurt.... to make me suffer.... to test me.  I can fight my way through horrible conditions, have snot running down my chin,  my face pounded by sleet or icy rain, my hands to be bitterly cold.  And yet deep inside I feel so good; I have just run five miles at a fast pace and sprinted the last 50 yards as fast as I could and arrived at my car panting and breathless.

The result?  Hot inside + Body Brimming with Life + Endorphins = Feel Great!