11 – 17 March 2019

One month to Paris, and my biggest challenge so far has been proving I’m healthy enough to run it! GPs not only charge for it (and make one wait a couple of weeks), but may also charge extra if they have to do more than scan the patient’s medical history. Given that I’ve kept myself healthy enough to not visit a doctor in at least ten years, my records are virtually zero. Just think; if I led an unhealthy lifestyle or abused the NHS, this would somehow work out in my favour. Hmm.

Monday – 7 miles

IMG_20190311_190458.jpgMy instinct being to run this as my standard 5-mile run, I instead extended my usual route by a couple of miles to build up my distance. Though I’d kept it easy, I found myself racing a dog at one point! (I won!)

Annoyingly, the sole of the Nike Pegasus 35 trainers I bought just a month ago – a mere 247 miles – started to peel away! Contrasted with my last pair of ASICS which still hold together after nearly 1,200 miles, this is shockingly bad value.

Strava data here.

Tuesday – hill reps

Skipping the monotony of the track, I opted for reps up a hill I hadn’t visited since around November. As soon as I stepped out of the car, I could tell immediately it wasn’t going to happen!

My legs feeling stupidly sluggish during the warm up, I had to cut short my planned 10 reps to a mere 4. Mentally yelling at myself to push further, I manned up and used that strength to say, “enough.”

If a session isn’t working, there’s nothing wrong with giving it a miss to avoid long-term issues.

Strava data here.

Wednesday – double runcommute

Despite the headwind and thus slower pace (combined with me not being a morning person), I didn’t feel too bad this morning. Though it seemed like the wind was playing havoc with everything else; a motorway visible on the run was in gridlock, and even a seagull was having trouble taking off, flopping around on the ground! (I didn’t see any sign of it later, so hopefully it was unscathed)

The afternoon run  – though again, slower than expected – wasn’t too bad, though I’d made the mistake of eating a Burger King not long before setting out. Feeling it bouncing around my stomach, it’s not something I recommend!

Morning Strava data here.

Afternoon Strava data here.

Thursday – 3.14159265358979 miles

Figuring to dial down my mileage a bit after consecutive 60+ mile weeks, I opted for a jog with long strides. Celebrating Pi day, I ran that length in miles while listening to: Been Around the World, You Spin me Round, Take a Look Around, and What Goes Around!

The session went well, my legs feeling strong; even managing 5:00/mile for quarter of a mile at one point!

Strava data here.

Friday – 3.5 miles

Continuing to take it easy, I went for a jog with my wife. For some reason I’ve been listening to Bobby Brown’s hit, “Every Little Step,” a lot lately. As it played in my head, it seemed apt as I focused on my running gait, causing little steps while together with my wife!

Strava data here.

Saturday – Perry Hall parkrun

What is with all this wind lately?! Though I’d managed the first mile of parkrun well, a strong headwind that hit me on both directions of the long out-and-back sapped my strength, despite attempting to use a guy as a windbreak.

A disappointing 18:41 was the result. On the plus side, it was nice to meet the first finisher again, someone who may end up being a new nemesis at this rate!

Strava data here.

Sunday – 10k

I don’t think I can overstate how much of a non-morning person I am. Getting out of bed just before 8am (a lie-in by parent standards), it took some effort to encourage myself to get ready despite the weather being relatively decent.

I’d planned on a half marathon at steady pace, but I really wasn’t in the mood for it, still lethargic. Even when I decided on just 10k instead and stepped out the door, it still took a little push to keep me outside.

Barely maintaining forward momentum, it summed up a frustrating week. With the Ashby 20 next week, here’s to hoping this is just a blip.

Strava data here.

4 – 10 March 2019

With all the miles I’m racking up by running every day, the blog had grown somewhat larger than the quick read I’d envisaged it to be. I’ll try to keep it succinct in future!

Monday – runcommute x 2

With Storm Freya providing a different type of Friday feeling on a Monday, the wind was against me for my journey into work. Already sluggish in the mornings, this was not what I needed! Thankfully, my pace wasn’t too far off my usual morning pace, even picking up speed once I reached the city centre full of gawking pedestrians!

The return journey was much calmer, a light drizzle providing a picturesque rainbow.

Morning Strava data here.

Afternoon Strava data here.

Tuesday – 5 miles

Routinely throwing marathon-paced miles into my runs, I built it up to two consecutive miles. I’d planned for three, but felt drained. Recovering my energy on the fourth mile, I thought, “what the  hell,” and squeezed in another marathon-paced mile for the finale. The day calling for it, I celebrated with pancakes!

Strava data here.

Wednesday – 5k progression

My day being a bit off-norm, I only had opportunity for a short run in the evening. Making the most of it, I planned a progression jog, working by kilometre rather than mile. Though the final kilometre at 5k pace was a toughie, I just about scraped it on target.

Strava data here.

Thursday – runcommute

48% chance of rain, and I was ill-prepared (I’m sure there’s a Brexit joke in there somewhere…)

With rain pouring heavily and the cap I was positive I’d packed missing from my bag, I was in two minds as to whether to bus it back. Forcing myself to run, a quote from Bart Simpson repeatedly played in my head, “I hate this! I don’t want to go!”

Unexpectedly, the rain stopped as soon as I stepped outside! Weirdly, it started to trickle again just as I’d picked my daughter up from school. On the plus side, she was up for running home!

Strava data here.

Friday – 5 miles

Nothing fancy with this one, just a 5 mile jog (that somehow kept trying to go sub-7 pace). I took the opportunity to try out lifting my knees higher, seeing if there was benefit as advice tends to be not to lift the legs high, but to kick them back.

It made a difference, providing short bursts of speed when I did it. It drained my energy quite quickly though, so these are muscles I’ll need to exercise more, whether or not I continue with it.

Strava data here.

Saturday – 6 miles

Saving my legs for the long run tomorrow, I kept this to a jog (which again, kept trying to go faster).

Slightly delayed by having to wait for my running clothes to dry, I may as well have not bothered, giving how strong the wind was blowing!

Strava data here.

Sunday – 20 miles

Stampyc_1552251455061.pngThere was a time when running 20 miles would terrify me. Today, I was pretty cavalier about it! I’d intended 6:30/mile, but 25mph winds drained my legs at the start of the run. Strangely, it felt like I had the energy within me, but couldn’t turn my legs fast enough, having to make do with 6:45/mile.

 

The run felt pretty relaxed though, and felt like it was all over with pretty quickly with no fuss! 20 miles? Psh, whatever!

Strava data here.

25 February – 3 March 2019

Monday – 7 miles

I used to lunch run (hereafter referred to as “Runch” :D) quite often at my old workplace, at least weekly, oftentimes twice. But despite my best efforts in my relatively new office, I haven’t found anyone to go with, and so the habit of Runches was lost.

But needing to get miles in, today seemed as good a day as any to give it a whirl; a two mile run to Cannon Hill park, three miles of laps, then back. My legs still felt heavy from yesterday’s long run, so I had to put aside my intent of marathon-paced miles.

Nonetheless, it was a good day for running, it’s always nice to see other runners out at the park, and I felt good on my return to the office. Runch; the most important meal of the day!

Strava data here.

Tuesday – 8x(1k@10k+400m rec)

Running’s a weird beast; it’s the most natural thing in the world to do, yet countless theories and guidance have been written as to how best do it. Still working my way through the Legend of Bruce Lee series, I’m now at the point where he’s building his own martial art form – Jeet Kune Do – by incorporating elements from others. I felt an affinity, given that my running style is a hybrid of various techniques I’ve learned over the years.

Putting all those aspects into play tonight, I had a stronger session tonight than I normally would! I was ambivalent about having 8 reps of 1k speed (perhaps warranted, as my usually more capable buddy Paul had to stop at 7 (another technique; know when to stop, there’s nothing wrong with that)), but managed all sets. Admittedly, my slowest rep was the one without Paul, despite feeling at the time as though it was my fastest!

Peer pressure; there’s another technique I’ll have to use!

Strava data here.

Wednesday – double runcommute

British weather is crazy, right? As soon as I stepped out for my run in what I’d expected to be a decentish morning, I had to go back in to fetch my cap! Despite not warming up during the run, my legs felt good despite yesterday’s burnout session, so I just them go do their own thing. A shade faster than my usual morning runcommute, it occured to me when I finished that I should have fetched my gloves as well; I couldn’t feel my fingers!

The afternoon runcommute was far better, mild temperatures allowing for a mildly-paced run. This was a new route, as I’d had to venture to a different office during the day. Unsurprisingly I’d almost gotten lost and was dependent on Google Maps, the battery giving out just as I recognised where I was! The route was decent, albeit with a hill that caught me off-guard, which even Google couldn’t warn me of!

Morning Strava data here.

Afternoon Strava data here.

Thursday – runcommute

One thing to be aware of with runcommutes is the high volume of near-misses one is likely to have with vehicles. Though today was no exception, my bigger frustration came with pedestrians unnecessarily taking up the whole pavement, randomly walking in my path, or generally showing me less consideration than if I was on a bicycle.

Undeterred, I still had a good run which was accidentally progressive. Just imagine what I could do with a clear route…

Strava data here.

Friday – 4 miles

Another Runch!

I’d planned on a lap or two of the Winson Green canal route, but as the route was still blocked (despite thinking myself clever by taking a different approach), I improvised with a lap of Birmingham Uni’s Vale.

Remember what I was saying about near-misses? I nearly had a full-on collision with a pedestrian who happened to come around a blind corner just as I was! Much like Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character in Premium Rush, my quick reflexes thankfully got through unscathed, though the poor lady looked as though she was about to have a heart attack! (she was smiling, at least!)

Strava data here.

Saturday – Cannon Hill parkrun and jog

Something about the stride of a runner in the distance stirred my memory. Then I saw the family of my nemesis, and it became clear; Barry. Then of similar ability, we’d first met at Perry Hall in late 2015, spurring each other onto new PBs. Lately, his training and PBs have shown notable progress, and the fact he’d shown up at Cannon Hill today undoubtedly meant he had his eye on the ultimate target: running parkrun in under 17 minutes.

Seconds later, my training buddy Paul ran past. Having also recognised quite a few other runners later, it felt like there was something in the air today!

Go!

Setting off shortly after being scolded twice for skipping the pre-run briefing, I kept as close as I could to Barry, seeing if having him as a target would allow me to maintain the 5:30/mile pace required.

Huh, this isn’t so bad. Is this really sub-17 pace? I reckon I could… oh no, wait; there it is.

Foolishness slapping me in the face, my legs revealed they weren’t ready yet. Not helping was the ground being slightly slick , throwing off my stride. Though I’d momentarily maintained 5:18/mile pace, by the end of the first mile I was down to a more realistic 5:50ish.

Though I’d lost a bit of pace afterwards using slightly slower guys as a windbreak, I started to recover a bit of energy and was able to power on. Barry had already passed the turnaround point and looked to be in second place; a great feat among the tough racers of Cannon Hill. Unexpectedly, a guy I passed surged past me as if to try to prove a point. I casually passed him, and he did it again! Distracted by Paul tying his shoelaces (falling victim to the looser laces of Nike), I didn’t see the guy again, but I assumed I’d left him without realising. Shame; if he’d ran steadier, he might have stood a chance.

Powering through the final mile, I was forced to count backwards to distract my mind from the lactic acid burning through me. Glancing at my watch, I saw a glimmer of hope that I might achieve sub-18; it wouldn’t be a PB, but at least my first decent time for a while. Giving it all I had up the final hill, I thought I was in the clear for a quiet finish when suddenly Strava follower Dave surged past me. Digging deep for a kick, none came.

Meh, I’ve got nothing left. Enjoy your victory, I thought, as I trundled across the line in a disappointing 18:11.

And then came the longest part of the event; walking to get the token. Not so much the distance, but the anticipation of finding out if Barry had achieved our shared goal.

IMG_20190302_125811.jpgHe did, in 16:48!

It’s a strange feeling. As the kids say these days, I’m well jel (jealous), yet happy for him. He put the work and miles in, and earned his well-deserved victory. Much like the regular competitions between Clark Kent and Barry Allen, I concede that of the two of us – just like his namesake – he is the fastest man alive.

For now.

parkrun Strava data here.

A little later, I went out for a short jog, perhaps still high on the adrenaline of parkrun. It was all going so quietly, when a lady with a dog called out to me.

Here we go again, I thought, frustrated with how often dogs and walkers bother me.

“I hope you don’t mind me saying so, but you got a nice set of pins on ya!”

Eh? These old things?

“Err… thanks!” I replied, flattered, but so taken aback I think I might have been more at ease if the dog was barking at me!

Strava data here.

Sunday – 12 miles

With the kids away, my wife and I took the opportunity to stuff ourselves on pizza and watch Justice League last night (my favourite scene being where Superman spots Flash moving at superspeed, naturally!). Kid-less, we were then able to have a leisurely long run today.

My wife fueled by Pizza Power, she maintained a good pace and kept adding a few more miles. Though I’d originally intended to add a few speedy miles either afterwards or later in the day, it was nice just to kick back and enjoy a relaxed run, saving my energy for tomorrow.

Strava data here.

18 – 24 February 2019

Monday – 5 miles

Day FIFTY of consecutive running!

My routine Monday jog today, a shade earlier as I had to bring work home with me. I hadn’t thought about what my pace at all, but felt comfortable at 7:30ish/mile pace despite my legs feeling heavier than usual.

I’m still in two minds about whether to take a rest day tomorrow, but was inspired by the series “The Legend of Bruce Lee” (though less so by its production; set in the 60s, but sporting Skechers, Nike apparel and Justin Timberlake t-shirts!). I therefore determined to throw in a marathon-paced mile to put some effort in and with a view of getting more used to it.

Though I’d felt drained to begin with, I naturally progressive-paced again from 7:30/mile to 6:40. The marathon-paced mile went well, though faster than expected at 5:58 instead of 6:15.

And now, for work. Urgh, I’d rather be running marathon-paced miles!

Strava data here.

Tuesday – 5k alternating pace (jog/5k pace)

In a mood for a workout session but not enough time to hit the track, I chose to run a 5k impromptu at alternating pace each quarter-mile, putting into practice some of the faster speed I’d worked on.

Nearly all reps came in faster than the target of 5:30/mile pace, one even at a blistering 5:08!

My legs felt fine throughout, so guessing the last couple of days were just a glitch, I’ll continue daily running for as long as I am able.

Strava data here.

Wednesday – runcommute x 2

To the surprise of nearly none of you, I spend time giving Kudos on Strava. Admittedly I don’t look at all the activities in great depth, but something on my nemesis’ feed caught my eye the other day.

Huh, didn’t he do a double runcommute just yesterday as well?

As I stalked browsed glanced through his activities, I found he’d run nearly every day this year, clocking up mileage nearly double that of mine!

Unable to let this offence stand, I decided to up my game. While I was busy patting myself on the back for a 60-mile week last week, it will have to be my norm as he’s at over 80 miles! As much as I hate mornings, I’ll have to double-runcommute more regularly.

We all have things that drive us with running; PBs, health, etc. For me, right now it’s pettiness!

Morning Strava data here.

Afternoon Strava data here.

Thursday – 7 miles alternating pace (jog/marathon pace)

With the weather improving of late, I’ve had inclination to resume lunch runs. I really wished I was in a position to do so today, as running had been on my mind all day at work!

To the point where I briefly considered what makeshift running gear I could cobble together for a lunch run, I was eager to get back home, to immediately leave out again for a 7 miler.

Another alternating pace session, the reps came on target. And dammit, I really enjoyed it!

Strava data here.

Friday – 10 miles

An annoying habit of my daughter is kleptomania, particularly when it comes to my stuff! However, it might be genetic, as I have the same tendency when it comes to seeing routes on Strava feeds that I like…

One of the runners at my club recently ran 10 mile loop, seemingly on cycle paths. As I had quite a bit of time on my hands today, I decided to check it out for myself.

You know my tendency to get lost on new routes? Yep, it came back in force again! The very first turn which I was unfamiliar with ended up as a wrong turning, then again a few minutes later! Fortunately I’d downloaded the route to my Strava profile as a precaution, so I ended up having to gaze at my phone most of the time. So much so, I ran right past a Strava follower without noticing!

Then what I thought were cycle paths were actually open grass areas, woods, and hills!

He is a Fell runner, after all; can’t say I’m surprised! Wait, am I in Wales or something? Look at the size of that hill!

All in all, the route was decent, even if not one I’d use as a training run. Maybe more of a social one, if I was so inclined. No complaints though, as I got to see more of the city and could theoretically incorporate parts of it into my regulars.

Strava data here.

Saturday – 5 miles

Have you ever driven past somewhere and thought, “Bet that’s great for running”? I had the opportunity to run at a park I’d spotted a while back. As this was just a basic run, I wasn’t concerned about an optimum route or anything, leaving me free to just have fun!

The park was somewhat smaller than I’d expected, just a kilometre loop around a lake. Still, it was flat and relatively scenic, so it’d do the job. The only annoyance was other park users hogging the path, at one point forcing me to jump over dogs!

Strava data here.

Sunday – 18 miles alternating pace (jog/marathon pace)

After a warm-up mile, I’d planned to run 9 miles at marathon pace followed by 8 jogging. For some reason though, I couldn’t maintain my pace properly, so I ended up doing alternating pace throughout. Not ideal, but at least I’ve got fast miles in as well as distance.

The weather was great for running; slightly warm, not too much wind. Unfortunately, other path users were my bane again! There’s something going on at the main canal junction in Birmingham (Brindleyplace) – whether maintenance or crowd control, it wasn’t clear – which meant a lost a good deal of pace queuing to get through a narrow route. In typical British fashion, I muttered a “sorry” as I dodged gawkers, followed by a runner’s “not that sorry though.” Meh. If they’ve got a problem with it, let them try to catch me.

A good week overall, about 64 miles; two consecutive weeks of over 60 miles, where I’d have to go back a year to find instances of me even breaking 50 miles. I’d say it’s a step in the right direction, but it’d be more like 30,000 steps!

Strava data here.

11 – 17 February 2019

Monday – runcommute x 2

After missing out on my long run yesterday, I got my miles in today using a run to work in the morning, then back home in the afternoon.

I’m not a morning person anyway, and it’s not helped when there’s a 2 degree celsius chill. It’s no wonder that I spent a good couple of minutes by the front door slowly getting my gear together, mustering up the courage to go out!

Suck it up, man.

Though I eventually forced myself out, I couldn’t get my pace up. Not a concern though, thankfully I’d already set myself low expectations. My target was just getting to work!

The run itself was good though, perfectly timed with traffic lights to allow a smooth journey.

The run back fared much better, faster by a minute each mile even with a sharp hill towards the end. Though, there were loads of cars and families around when I was climbing up the hill, so it was probably peer pressure (I was tempted to raise my hands Rocky-style when I reach the top!)

Morning Strava data here.

Afternoon Strava data here.

Tuesday – Intervals: 8x(800m at 5k pace + 400m jog)

The second of my training sessions with my buddy Paul, I was determined to make up for my embarrassing performance a month prior. I’d had a decent 15 reps of 400m a fortnight ago, so I felt better prepared for this one.

With Paul on form these days and achieving PBs, I found myself trying to chase him down each time! I’d felt strong during the workout – particularly the first rep which had 5:14/mile pace – but the others were disconcertingly close to 5:45/mile where I was targeting 5:30.

20190217_170231.pngNonetheless, it was good to have some time chatting about races and paces, something I’ve missed lately. And TomTom seems to have a higher opinion of me, thinking of me as in the fastest 2%! (of course, me being my biggest critic, my first thought was, “not the top 1%?”)

Strava data here.

Wednesday – runcommute

Urgh, another runcommute. If I’m not careful, I’ll make a habit of this!

This would normally be a dash to pick up my daughter, but as I was reminded that I was off-duty today, it gave opportunity for a longer and more relaxed run. I had no target distance or pace in mind, so with a bit of improvisation I opted for a canal run.

Typical then, that my route to the canal was blocked!

Pause. Think.

Adapting my route, I figured out a different access point and got back on my way. A nice surprise was to see one of the running club cycling on the route! It was a weird experience, running at sub-7/pace while chatting with a cyclist!

Oh, and the reason I wasn’t sure of the distance? I realised I needed to pick up a Valentine’s present on the way. Another weird experience; seeing so many men in Morrison’s, all with the same plan!

Strava data here.

Thursday – jog

Nothing fancy tonight, just a quick jog to maintain my running streak (maintained since 31st Dec 2018). An impressive feat; not the number of days, but that I’d had a filling Indian take-out just a couple of hours earlier!

Strava data here.

Friday – progressive run

What was with the traffic around Birmingham today?! Having spent ages fighting through gridlock and using some offbeat routes, a run was in order to clear my head.

It was a good one where I’d accidentally had a progressive pace. I haven’t had enough of these kind of runs; if I’d planned it better, I’d have started off faster with a view to finishing at 5k pace. But going from 7:20/mile to 6:30/mile was fun enough.

I spent the run mainly focused on my form. Seeing one parkrun picture where my elbows were out like a Funky Chicken got me mindful of keeping my arms tucked by my side. I also looked at re-adopting the technique of leaning slightly forward as it to make myself fall forward repeatedly. Of late, I’ve also focused more on kicking my legs back while getting them to land under my centre of gravity (which now that I think about it, is more reminiscent of a chicken…)

Strava data here.

Saturday – jog with strides

Racing a 5k? Easy.

Walking a 5k? Even easier.

Walking 5k over 3 hours with two kids? A stressful, energy-draining time which forces me to sleep as soon as we’ve had lunch!

Running being the perfect antidote, I headed out for a jog as soon as I’d napped, throwing in long strides for good measure.

Shout out to Barry, who bagged a PB of 17:03 at parkrun!

Strava data here.

Sunday – long run

Last week I’d intended to run 14 miles; 7 miles jog followed by 7 at marathon pace. Definitely wanting to run it today, forecasted strong winds in the afternoon meant that I’d be better off running it in the morning.

Did I say earlier that I’m not a morning person?

Though the first half was to be a jog, I had no inclination or drive to go any faster, which was slower than my usual jogging pace. Compounding this was a headwind on the main part of my route (unimaginatively, just two 7 mile laps of my neighbourhood).

So when it came to ramping up the pace… yeah, it was a struggle. During the third of the fast miles, my pace had dropped to 6:37/mile and it took all I had over the last quarter mile to drag it back to target.

Deciding to jog to regather my strength, the nails were in the coffin when two attempts to finish on target came up short.

Lessons from today: I’ll need to incorporate more marathon-paced miles into my training – as I did for my first London marathon  – but might need a day’s rest from my daily consecutive running. It’s not been a bad streak though, it’ll be 50 days tomorrow!

Ensuring to make the most of the run, I had some weird pea protein-powder my wife had picked up from a race yesterday. And as is my habit, I had some eggs as well. I’d unexpectedly followed Frasier’s song, “hey baby I hear the blues a-calling, ‘tossed salads and scrambled eggs’!”

Strava data here.

4 – 10 February 2019 “Gone with the wind”

Monday – recovery run

If there was any doubt I’m English (and annoyingly, I get asked that question every now and then), it was dispelled today; the slightest glimmer of daylight, and I was out in t-shirt and shorts!

The temperature finally above a few degrees Celsius, it was nice to have an evening run not enveloped in darkness.

Strava data here.

Tuesday – 2 miles

Nothing much to this run, just a couple of miles to keep my consecutive running streak going on a busy day. Although, I considered ending it as I opened the door to pouring rain! Fortunately with a cap in my running arsenal now, it wasn’t a bother.

Strava data here.

Wednesday – runcommute

With the hassles I’ve had with navigating roadworks and dead-ends on my runcommute, I spent ages planning an alternative route. But as it added an extra mile when every second counts in picking up my daughter, I had to bite my tongue and just deal with my usual route.

Fortunately, there had been significant progress on the problematic junction (should I claim credit for complaining?), allowing a route nearly as direct as the crow flies (or considering that I was wearing a backpack, should that be as a laden swallow?)

I managed a comfortable 6:30/mile pace, except for one troublesome moment up a hill which sapped my speed. I more than made up for it at the end though with a sub-6 pace!

Strava data here.

Thursday – 200m hill sprints

Short of time between work, prayer meeting and ensuring my wife had time to run – but also needing some speedwork – I had to make do with just 10 reps on a short hill which I’d normally do 20 on.

I’ve been in a trance music mood lately, so that was my playlist of choice. How apt, that to suffer the pain of repeated reps, I’d just tuned out of what I was doing and allowed myself to exercise in a trance state!

The reps came in fairly well, my first at a crazy 4:51/mile pace! The rest varied more realistically between 5:30 and 6:17/mile.

Strava data here.

Friday – 2 miles

Another busy day, another couple of miles squeaked in.

joey-foodI had a decent workout later though… at a restaurant! I’ve been ravenous all this week, snacking on whatever I could find at work, and eagerly awaiting a visit to an all-you-can-eat restaurant to belatedly celebrate Chinese New Year. My friends were shocked/horrified/appalled at how much I ate, particularly when I powered through 10 dumplings for dessert and was still hungry!

You can be impressed by their times, their distances, but this is the true mark of a runner; their appetite!

Strava data here.

Saturday – parkrun

The temperature starting to dip and 19 mph winds expected, I ensured to avoid the hindrance of tights, sticking with shorts. Reminded just before the start that the faster runners would likely be at cross-country races, I’d be in with a good chance of first. Assessing the field, a semi-nemesis was present for the first time in a while, and an unfamiliar runner who looked like he’d be the one to battle against.

Go!

Sprinting off, that runner immediately took the lead. With the headwind in force, I didn’t try to overtake, relying on him as a windbreak. Behind me I could hear the semi-nemesis, but I was undisturbed; as long as I could maintain a tough pace for the first part of the mile, he’d try to keep up and burn out. With us all at about 5:30/mile pace, I too was going faster than I would have normally targeted, but knew I’d have to slow down due to the wind at some point. I had little choice in the matter, with gusts of wind knocking chunks out of my pace without remorse.

Zigzagging through lapped runners, my windbreak had pulled away to gain an uncatchable lead on a straight where I was subjected to the elements. Closing my eyes, I gritted my teeth and bore it until the thankful switchback where the wind would now be on my side. Behind me in the distance, I heard my semi-nemesis roar (his habit) as he was passed.

Just under a mile later, that runner hitherto unnoticed – clad in a regular winter hat, hoodie and joggers – breezed past me quite casually despite the wind and shorter height. If the results are accurate, he’s only in the 11-14 age group!

My time was disappointing, only 18:48. I’m not too fussed though, given the difficulty of fighting against the wind. On the plus side, my wife was the first female; she’s the one to watch out for!

Strava data here.

Sunday – aborted long run

Alas, my plan to run a 7-mile jog followed by 7 miles at marathon pace was brought to an abrupt halt due to unforeseen circumstances (nothing concerning!)

A shame, as this was the maiden run of my new trainers, Nike Pegasus 35. Literally the last pair in my size in the Nike Clearance shop, they’re a gaudy gold colour. As long as they do the job, whatever. At £50, I can’t really complain!

To make up, I may look to try a double runcommute tomorrow.

Strava data here.

28 Jan – 3 Feb 2019 “FebRUNary”

Monday – 3 miles

Following yesterday’s successful 15 miler, I had no target pace in mind for this recovery run. It would normally be 5 miles, but despite layering with a jacket, long sleeve top and joggers, the cold air still burned through me.

Cutting it short, the jog was still successful in keeping my legs fresh and maintaining my running streak.

Strava data here.

Tuesday – Intervals: 15 x (400m @ 5k with 200m jog)

My last interval session had been an embarrassing attempt of 800m reps not long after a stretching half marathon. This time, better rested and a more reasonable session planned, I would have my vengeance!

The track was well-populated, but served to be an encouragement rather than a hindrance. Though I often tell it to myself as a personal motivation, I’m not the fastest man alive (at my peak, there were at least 4600 people in Britain faster), but I consider myself to run well and thus feel a sense of responsibility to use my gift as best as I can. Coupled with my cursed inability to resist racing anybody around me, I was going all out tonight!

Learning from the previous session, I switched directions halfway through to avoid putting strain on one side of my body. My reps nicely performed, all but one was on target. At one point, I managed to catch up to fast runners on a similar workout who’d had a head start, and sailed past them!

Guess a curse isn’t always a bad thing…

Strava data here.

Wednesday – runcommute

Discovering an entrance to the canal closer to my workplace which would avoid me running through the city centre, I thought to give it a shot to mix up the route home.

But with a new route, and this being me, what do you think happened? Yeah, I got lost straightaway!

In my defence, the entrance to the canal was thoroughly blocked off by some building work, and I had to improvise with finding another entrance using Google Maps. And then with my route changed, I was unsure as to which direction to go in. Fortunately, my 50% choice of right or left worked in my favour and it wasn’t before long I was in familiar territory.

The run went well, unconsciously steady, and thankfully devoid of the forecasted snow that was due to hit.

Strava data here.

Thursday – 2 miles

The last day of my “Run Every Day” January streak! This might be my longest streak ever (I could check, but can’t be bothered), and it has been a good one. The weather hasn’t been too bad in order to keep it going, and I’ve experienced increased fitness gained from volume of miles racked up. I’m no Ron Hill, but I’m proud of this achievement.

Unfortunately, what should have been both a celebratory and uneventful run was marred by dogs and their owners. Again.

“He won’t chase you if you stand still,” the lady said as her dog continued to block my path.

“I shouldn’t have to,” I muttered. He wouldn’t chase me if you could control him, I thought.  If only there was some kind of leash that could be invented that would allow owners to lead their dogs when on walks. Million-pound, crazy idea, I know.

Frustratingly, my wife had a similar experience a day later, though her antagonists were somewhat snarkier. They cheekily suggested that people shouldn’t run in the park if they didn’t want the attention of dogs.

Advantage of being a guy, with the face of a smacked a***: People tend not to bother me or dare say something like that.

There’s more that I could say, and I’ve shared my feelings on the matter multiple times before. However, I’ll leave it at that.

Strava data here.

Friday – 5 miles

I’m undecided as to whether I’ll keep my streak going, but I figure I’ll give it my best shot for as long as I’m able.

With that in mind, I had a quiet five miles on a cycle path. Aside from discovering (and kind of run-dancing to) Nelly Furtado’s music, it was thankfully quiet and uneventful, unconsciously steady again.

Strava data here.

Saturday – 5k

As tempted as I was to have this as a fast 5k to make up missing parkrun in the morning, I reined it in to save my legs for tomorrow’s long run.

It was so cold though! Paths slightly iced, and not I didn’t warm up at all despite running for 20 minutes. Weirdly, my knee ever-so-slightly hurt at the start, but that may have been down to the bitter cold instantly freezing it in place.

It was fine by the end though, so tomorrow’s long run would go ahead. Dammit.

Strava data here.

Sunday – 18 miles

Continuing to build up my miles, 18 miles after last week’s 15 was the next logical step. With the longer distance, I’d target 7:00/mile rather than last week’s 6:45 (which inadvertently became 6:30).

My initial plan had been for 3 laps of the reservoir, then continue with a direct route home from church. But as I’d slipped several times on the muddy paths, I improvised using a longer canal route instead (impressively, it still ended up as exactly 18 miles!)

Despite the long distance, it was fairly uneventful (except for seeing graffiti artists/vandals decorating the canals. Artwork was pretty good though) and pretty easy going.

Once again it was faster than target, averaging 6:47/mile despite fighting head-on wind for a couple of miles.

Next logical step… 20 miles? eek!

Strava data here.