running feet

running feet
Running feet. These aren't mine.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Feel the burn

Just got back from a seven mile Sunday evening jaunt in the rain - the perfect way to end a week (or should that be start the week, I'm never sure if Sunday is meant to be the beginning or the end). Despite the drizzle it was a lovely run, reminding me again why I love living in Bristol - starting from my inner city suburb I ran seven miles, with barely a car or a main road to be seen (only through Clifton village, over the suspension bridge, and at the bottom of Ashton Court was I on main/busy roads - maybe two miles max).

As well as congratulating myself on how great it is to run near where I live, I also spent much of the run pondering on how much my thighs were hurting. Probably this should be no surprise - since I started training for this half marathon my weekly milage has probably doubled. And yet I don't remember these 'long slow runs' hurting so much last time I trained properly. Well, I don't remember them hurting at all.

Now, rationally, that can't be possible, and once again experience brings memory (and its morphine like ability to blur the sharp edges) into sharp focus. When I stopped this evening I thought my legs would seize up, and I know just standing up from the sofa now is going to hurt. The bad news is I only did about half the distance of the half marathon, at a pace about a third slower than I might aspire to do on the day. The good news is the half marathon isn't until September. Hopefully the long slow runs won't hurt so much by then.

Running log
Distance: Seven miles (ish)
Pace: About 10 minute mile pace
Location: Bristol harbour, Clifton Suspension bridge, Ashton Court park

Friday, 3 June 2011

Do I think at all when I run?

So. I finally committed to running Bristol Half Marathon and have started a 16 week training plan to get me there. So although the blog has been quiet this month, this is no reflection on the amount of running I've done - 13 miles for the last couple of weeks, with more to come over the summer.

Interestingly though (at least to me), I'm discovering that most of the time when I'm running I'm aware of nothing more than my breathing, my heart-rate*, the rhythm of my feet on the road, the relative amount of pain in my legs and so on. Which not only brings into question the theme of this blog (not sure I can make a recurring series out of 'nothing much'), but also my memory of why I enjoyed running in in the first place.

I ran a lot in 2007 and 2008, but then more or less stopped after the birth of my second child (citing physical and emotional exhaustion as an excuse to my inner personal trainer). I always intended this as a pause though, and over the last year or so I've been wistful about not running regularly, partly because I remembered the sensation of running as being a great time to think. Hence the idea for this blog.

But it turns out I don't think too much at all when I run. Or at least not about anything that is interesting. Perhaps this will change as I get fitter. Or perhaps there's something else going on. My (admittedly shaky) understanding of meditation is that the goal is to clear one's mind of everything and focus only on the immediate moment, starting with the in and out of your breathing. So maybe when I'm running I'm taking myself into a similar meditative place, and what I wistfully remember as a time when I got to think is just the memory of a period in my life when I was calmer and more centered generally. ?

Maybe. We'll see. Anyway, the bottom line is I still enjoy running, and will continue, and I still enjoy blogging, and will continue. It's just the two things might not be quite as entwined as I intended a couple of months ago.

Friday, 6 May 2011

On challenges and competition

So the A-Z challenge is over. It was fun, and certainly a challenge, and I'm both happy to have done it and fairly happy I'm not forcing myself to blog every night anymore. Running today was both liberating and a bit odd at first though, as the lack of a pre-defined framework for my thoughts (in the guise of an arbitrary letter for that day) left me momentarily blank. It's very strange how you get used to letting external structures help define how you think.

Anyway, the run was very nice in the sunshine, and I ended up wondering about the nature of challenging oneself generally. I've recently found my heart-rate monitor, so I've now (should I wish, I haven't actually bothered yet) got a way of comparing my running now with past ones when I was in better shape. I'm also thinking of doing Bristol half-marathon later in the year to help keep me motivated (again, letting more external structures define what I'm doing and thinking), and there's quite a bit of me that worries that I won't be able to do it anywhere near as quickly as I did before (I'm three years older and have another child this time around) and I'll end up being disappointed because I ran it slower.

Which struck me as I ran as a really strange thing to worry about. I enjoy running, I enjoy training, I enjoy the experience of a 'big race' - and whether I come 1,000th or 2,000th or 3,000th in the final race will make absolutely no difference to my life at all in any way. So what possible problem would there be if (or when) I run it a bit slower than last time?

And yet there's something deeply ingrained in the human psyche (or at least this human's psyche) that makes us want to compete and challenge ourselves to do it faster, better, harder, whatever. It's probably the reason I decided upon blogging a different letter of the alphabet every day - just to see whether I could.

Ultimately I don't know if it's a good or a bad thing that we are so ready to challenge ourselves in such arbitrary ways. But I do know it's very odd.

Running log

Distance: 3 miles
Pace: 8:45 minute miles
Location: St Werbergs, Bristol

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Z is for Zooooom

This morning, once we'd got the kids their breakfast, we tried to get them dressed. My wife was busy this afternoon, so the plan was to try and get to our allotment to plant some broccoli and artichokes seedlings that are ready, before getting back to get lunch before she went out. Needless to say, this plan didn't run smoothly; first they wanted to 'help' mummy print some documents, by standing by our printer in the spare room and shouting (down-the-stairs) as each page printed, and then they wanted to do some printing themselves.

Finally, at about half-ten, with baby number 2 sat in the car waiting, we realised that baby number 1 simply wasn't going to put his shoes on anytime soon, so I left him and mum at home and went alone with our youngest. However, once we got to the allotment, Theo decided he wouldn't get out of the car, and I made the decision that forcing him to stay while I tried to plant seedlings was a losing game (he's only two after all). So, back home to drop him off, back to the allotment, and at about 11.15 I finally started planting. Only of course, it was a mad rush by then, as I had to get back after an hour to hand over the childcare.

And so the day continued - I got home at about 12.30, had a five minute chat with my wife as I handed over the car keys, wolfed down lunch, and then the boys were waiting to go out on our bikes as we'd planned in mummy's absence. Snacks, drinks and changes of clothes hastily thrown into bags, and we were out - chasing a steam train and then riding on it, cycling around Bristol harbour, and then eating an ice-cream. We got back about four, and once the washing was hung up I managed to sit still for about five minutes before my wife arrived home with some shopping and we got cooking, and then descended into the dinner/bath/bed routine, which went on until about 7.30. This was then followed by the general tidying/washing up that always needs to be done before the following day's onslaught, before finally collapsing into the sofa to read the paper and write this blog. Zoom indeed.

When I was a kid, I often wondered why my mum and dad showed so little interest in going out to the cinema or for dinner or whatever. It's not so much of a mystery to me now.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Y chromosones

My bonus day off today (thanks Kate and Will!) was lovely. The kids bedecked the house in bunting in the morning, and then watched the wedding, while I got a chance to do a bit of digging at our allotment (and there's always digging to be done there). We then rode to the park in the afternoon and climbed on logs, and I even got out for a run tonight. (Back to my allotment to pick up a jumper I'd left.)

I got to wondering as I ran just how far my current life is defined by the luck of the draw in procreation. We managed to pull two Y chromosones from the deck, and I wonder what where we'd be if we'd got to Xs instead? Certainly our two beautiful boys keep us on our toes, and it's fair to say our household is loud, active and full of trains.

As a boy myself I have no problems with any of this, indeed having the opportunity to ride my bike and climb on logs every weekend is fantastic. I'd like to think that had I two girls instead I'd be just as encouraging of them to clamber around in the woods - whether they'd be quite as keen on the clambering as me though is the great unknown. Would our lives be essentially the same, or would they have different interests and likes that would have taken us in completely different directions? Not that it matters of course, it's just interesting how your life can be shaped by such arbitrary factors as which chromosones your children have.

Running log
Distance: A couple of miles or so
Pace: Slow - I'd been digging the allotment for three hours this morning
Location: Ashton Gate, Bristol