Tag Archives: running

Nick Harkaway’s Tigerman, & an Audible trial

So, like every other Amazon user I’ve been bombarded with ads for Audible for a little while. They’re tedious and overwhelming and I’ve generally ignored them. But since I’ve started listening to audiobooks whilst I run (or at least, using eBook apps like Kindle to read to me), I finally had cause to consider it more seriously. The free month trial sucked me in and I kicked off with Tigerman, the latest book from Nick Harkaway – an author I’ve respected and admired since the Gone Away World blew my mind a few years back.

It was a wonderful experience.

OK, listening to the audiobook whilst running wasn’t quite as relaxing as nodding off to it as I did as a child, but at least I didn’t have to rewind the tapes the next day to find where I’d dropped off so I could pick up the story again. But it’s amazing how you can lose yourself in a story in a way I’ve not been able to with music (not when exercising, anyway) for years. The voice acting by Matt Bates (this guy, I think) added a dimension to the reading I didn’t quite remember from the audiobooks of my youth… an additional pleasure, perhaps one I can appreciate more having grown accustomed to text-to-speech engines reading stuff to me in a robotic monotone (although Microsoft’s Cortana TTS engine is substantially better than Apple’s iPhone one).

It’s reawakened a love of the audiobook and – having planned to cancel the Audible trial, and gotten as far as hitting ‘cancel / due to the cost’ – I’ve found myself being sucked in by a three month at half price offer. We’ll see if I stick with it beyond that, but Mike Carey’s ‘Girl with all the gifts’ is next on my list and – as an added incentive, to make use of my one credit (audiobook) per month, I need to run through it over the weekends. With a run time of 13 hours, that means at least 120km clocked up on the roads in September…!

Also inspired to find the kids some good audiobooks to listen to…!

Running again

After my fairly intense training in 2008/9 I’ve had a few years of middling persistence with my running, doing the odd 5-10k training runs and little else. 

With slack control of my diet as well, my fitness has steadily declined and – once again – I’ve had enough. I’m trying to find a new routine that lets me build fitness up again and will refuse to allow ‘being busy’ at work to be an excuse for missing my run efforts. I had set an objective within Runkeeper (1000km this calendar year) which I am quite a long way off hitting, but if I can get to 500km this year (cumulative total) that will still be a pretty good achievement given where I’ve been.

So, 20km this weekend, and hopefully most other weeks to follow (two 5ks and a long slow run), and hopefully some improvements in my speed. Be nice to get to a sub-60 minute 10k again. And then, who knows, perhaps a race or two? Will help if the weather is nice…

Crazy, Stupid Love and new shoes

Crazy stupid loveWatched this film the other night and, whilst it scored an ‘ok’ on my film-o-meter 9000 scale of movie goodness, it did make one specific lasting impression on me.

At one point, Steve Carrell’s character is sitting at a bar, nursing a drink, moping about his wife having left him. He gets pitied by a smooth-talking ‘player’ in the bar, who decides to help him improve his look and educates him in the ways of picking up women. The line that stuck in my memory was an exchange over what Steve was wearing:

“Are you Steve Jobs,” asks the Player.
“Are you billionaire founder of Apple Computer, Steve Jobs?”
“Then why are you wearing New Balance trainers?”

Which at first struck me as elitist – I love New Balance trainers, they are my running shoe of choice. But then I looked at him, in his oversize suit and New Balance trainers, and realised… That’s what I must look like half the time.

So this weekend, we went suit and shoe shopping (as well as, more importantly and more successfully, shopping for Amanda). The Jones sale furnished me with a pair of ankle boots which I think are probably a reasonable upgrade over my previous best efforts for day-to-day footwear, but the hunt for the suit continues – thanks to the diet I am firmly between sizes at the moment.

Still, new shoes. Good start.

Illness and fitness

In the year before Emily was born, I was ill approximately zero times. I was in fairly rigorous training for the half marathon, running between 15 and 40 km per week for about 6 months of the year and I’d managed a reasonably healthy diet throughout the period as well.

In the 15 months since she’s arrived, the commute, working hours, and general apathy has seen all that fall to one side – I haven’t been on a run since June and my diet’s been all over the place. In the last six months or so, this has started to hit me from a cold/flu perspective, and whilst some of this is no doubt exposure to a Nursery-going toddler, I can’t help but think that there’s been a direct correlation between my fitness level and how often I’ve gotten ill.

With my recent NY resolutions, the diet (and some) fitness training has resumed, but I’ve already gotten ill  (not sure where from!) and am self-pityingly recovering from it now. At least I’ve maintained the diet (as it happens, the constant ingestion of strepsils makes most other food taste somewhat unappealing, so it actually helped!), but the 100 push-up / 200 sit-up programme may need to be restarted next week…

Hopefully a more determined, consistent fitness effort will see me steer clear of the sniffles in 2012!

First run in a while – aka the anti-Juneathon

I finally made it back out last week, after slightly more than a month spent avoiding running at all due to a combination of laziness, lack of motivation and busy-ness. Last year I ran practically every day for the first two weeks of June, so quite a difference this time around…

It was quite hard work,and although my timings weren’t woeful (31.30 and 32.30 for two successive 5ks), they weren’t great, either.

It’s amazing how quickly at my age the fitness deteriorates. A few months ago a 5k run was an effortless thing, and now I’m stiff the next day.

Ah well, more practice and more stretching and a bit more focus. Much as I hate to contemplate it, at current rates of training and improvement, the Basingstoke half is not looking like a good idea. But there’s a couple of months of summer left – I will do what I can!

Diet disaster, running hiatus

If I’m honest, the last six months haven’t seen the healthiest eating on my part and I’ve gained some weight – which has made the running much harder. I need to get back into the rhythm of things and I’m making a public resolution here to kick off the obsessive – but effective – diet monitoring I was doing with Dailyburn once again.

I have a half marathon to run this year and a family to be healthy for. So here’s to it!

10k time – improvements in a week

OK, so instead of running my third 10k of the week yesterday I assembled my study from Ikea flatpack crates and went to the playground with my wife and daughter, but still… it was a good week for running training.

The last three 10ks I did (SunWeds/Sat of last week) saw a pretty dramatic improvement – 68 mins, then 64, then 61. I attribute some of it to improved fitness from the regularity of the runs, but most of it I’d say was down to my attempt do make the ITB rolling part of my daily routine. Which means I have five minutes before my shower rolling around on the ground with a large polystyrene roller. And whilst I’m down there, I’m trying to restart the ‘100 push ups’ challenge, which I flatly gave up on a couple of years ago and have since lost all tone from the requisite muscles.

Perhaps the activated core and the stretched ITB will let me achieve my target time of 2hrs for the half marathon when I face it in October? We’ll see…

Running update

I resolved, at the start of this year, to manage the relatively modest target of 10k per week run – a minimum of two 3 mile runs or so a weekend. Before the sabbatical, I was struggling a bit with that; despite a good january (65k run), February had seen me slow to a miserly 40k. Maybe just on target, but not much more than that.

The sabbatical saw a bit of a refresh; 53.5km in March and 60k in April. Progress, or so it would seem – but I continued eating at sabbatical rates, so my weight hasn’t gone down and that’s contributing to my persisting slowness.

May, to date, has also been a bit better – 30km run so far and its not even midway through the month yet. I’m trying to stick to a routine of two-three 10k runs a week, which is non-trivial as I’m not as limber, fit or light as I was when I was last doing this distance, but the only way to get there is to push along!

So, YTD I’m actually ahead of my target, modestly – 270km odd run. I’m hoping that the newly revised target, as well as the more regimented ITB rolling and stretching routine will see my overall distance rise more significantly. My speed is still poor; the weight affects everything and whilst I’m not ludicrously heavy the extra few kilos feels significant on me at the moment. I haven’t found the will to start the obsessive compulsive diet tracking yet – maybe that should be on my agenda? {sigh}.

Race plans remain thin on the ground. I’ve entered the the Basingstoke half-marathon but I’m still hopeful Ill do a second one at some point this year. Maybe a Northern summer half marathon? We’ll see…

Beat the Banana 2011

I can’t do BTB this year – otherwise engaged at work. But people who like running and hate cancer should consider supporting WCRF’s efforts to promote awareness of healthy eating and lifestyle as key prongs in cancer prevention. Try to get a place via here. I suspect my friend Jimbo will be involved, possibly wearing a banana outfit.

I ran last year – here’s the proof. It’s a fun race where you chase after a man in a banana costume – who runs fast! Well, faster than me, anyway, completing the 5k circuit in about 23-4 minutes.

It’s Cancer Prevention Week so there’s all sorts going on – you can read more about it over on the WCRF blog.

My first running club experience

So last night I ran with the Chineham Park Running Club and had my first ever experience of club running.

Today, everything hurts. Not knowing how much you’ve got coming makes it hard to pace yourself sensibly!

It was a great experience and if I can fit it in around my commute when I go back to work next month I’ll be keen to join proper. There’s something about running in a pack that sets the adrenaline going and makes you push yourself more than you ever would running alone, no matter how much the group encourages you to take things at your own pace. Man is a competitive animal, even me, sometimes.

The session was a ‘coached run’ – in which we did a warm-up run (about 2.5k, which I completed in 14 odd minutes), followed by ‘stride’ training on a short loop of road (a few hundred metres). This involved another 45 or so minutes of running in circles focussing on different things – first just thinking about the stride, then trying to get a sense of falling forwards whilst running, then trying to run silently, then bouncing from foot to foot.

It brought back memories of PE sessions at school, with a kindly teacher working to coach through encouragement rather than drill-sergeant esque barked orders.

There was a persistent feel of good natured, supportive, encouraging camaraderie throughout the club and think I’d enjoy running with them. However… despite claims that its a club for people of all abilities, I was near the back of the pack and was probably one of the only people there without a race booked – apparently most people are running two races a month at the moment!

So it’s a little intimidating. But maybe when I find my metaphorical stride, it’ll feel more natural. I’m still coming to terms with fatherhood, commuting, country life and all the rest of it, so imagine in time two races a month will seem like a sensible thing to do!