A lunchtime dash

Being my own boss and working from home regularly means I can ‘step out’ of work when it suits me. And today at lunchtime, it definitely suited me.

Although really cold, the sun was shining and the sky was blue. I’d spent the morning huddled over my keyboard, furiously re-writing a new workshop, so I needed some exercise.

Shoulder-pain aside, I was up for a run, so I grabbed my gear and headed out into the sunshine and the riverside. I love running by the Thames as there’s such a sense of space and there’s always something interesting to look at.

Even if it’s the hordes of other runners who take a lunchtime dash around the docklands. I’d forgotten about them!

I got as far as Tower Bridge and headed back through St. Katherine Docks and around Shadwell Basin, which despite its name, looked glorious in the sunshine… plenty of wildlife floating on its eerily-still surface, while the Canary Wharf skyscrapers were almost perfectly reflected in the water.

I’m still using Apple Fitness on my Apple Watch, rather than Nike+, to track my running. It seems accurate enough and I just want to maintain a log so I can see performance improvements. I’ve no triathlons in the calendar this year!

9km in 50mins isn’t my fastest ever run – not by a long shot – but I was trying to avoid aggravating my shoulder any more than necessary and was also plagued by some unhelpful cramp in my calf muscles. Humph.

All the same, it was really enjoyable and something I really should do more of seeing as a) my boss is such a supportive (and good looking) chap and b) I live so close to the river.

Starting 2017 as I mean to go on…

I started today with a run. I haven’t run in a few weeks due to te damage I did to my shoulder during the final 150m of the Royal Park’s Half-Marathon in October. It still hurts when I run and now, when I walk briskly. So I made an appointment with my GP before Christmas and have an MRI scan booked in for tomorrow.

That said, the pain is annoying but not crippling. Like a toothache. And I really needed to do something to begin a fight-back against my Christmas over-indulgence. I planned a quick 5km around the neighborhood but ended up running over 13km. The sun was out and the streets were quiet, making it easy to just…keep going.

I completed my usual run, keeping it to a manageable pace – nothing like my runs pre-Royal Parks. And as I’ve basically given up on the Nike running app due to its disastrous re-design and tendency to crash, I used the Apple Fitness functionality built into my Apple Watch and iPhone. It was idiot-proof – one click on my watch to start and one to stop.

did miss the audio prompts updating me on pace and distance, but the watch ‘clicks’ as you pass each kilometre and it’s no great hardship to raise the watch to check pace visually. I’m not a professional athlete, so it doesn’t need to be accurate down to the inch, or even metre, if I’m honest. I just want to have some way of tracking my runs, taking the outputs and combining them with other info in other apps.

This means the data from the fitness app informs what’s in ‘My Fitness Pal’ and vice versa. This includes the terrible, terrible news from my Fitbit scales this morning that my weight has gone up 3 kilos over Christmas. I say that tongue in cheek, as it’s not disastrous and actually gave me more motivation to make a change. And I completely understand where it’s all come from: the non-stop consumption of calorific (yet delicious) Christmas treats.

I now stand (Hobbit-like) at 68.8 kilos. I’d like to get that back down to 60 kilos, a feat last achieved in the distant, distant past. But it’s possible. Continue the runs, cut out the crap from my diet and generally move around more.

I think I need to plan a trip to Sitges to give me something specific to aim for! 😉

A change of gears required…

When I say I ‘over-consumed’ over the Christmas holidays, it’s no exaggeration. I consistently ate whatever was put in front of me. When I wasn’t eating, I was waiting on new food being prepared, or taking a short break after finishing my last meal. Or I was asleep. 

Breaks between meals were short and sweet, usually more so the latter. A dip into some chocolate here, demolishing a packet of biscuits there. Constant grazing, like a particularly greedy piece of livestock. 

Time for a change

I know many people the world over are looking at themselves in the mirror today and making all kinds of promises about their weight, their diet and their exercise regime. 

I’m not. It doesn’t work. 

But I was given an alarming piece of feedback by my own body the other evening. While lowering myself into a hotel bath (I’m usually a shower man), I was perplexed by the gathering of flesh around my waist. Flesh that’s not obvious when standing upright. Flesh that resembled the dreaded ‘spare tyre’ that the fitness magazines I buy but don’t read describe on their covers. 

Jesus. 

Now, I’m not talking ‘Peter-Griffin-fat’ or ‘Oh-my-God-where-are-my-genitals?’ fat. But it was enough to remind me that I’ve been eating like an unsupervised toddler for over a month and I need to dial it back a bit. Perhaps more than a bit. 

What to do? 

I’m not one for crash diets. Or rather, I am, but they tend to last only until about lunch time. So rather than make a massive commitment to becoming a healthier eater overnight, I’m simply going to move out of Christmas eating into New Year eating and leave a few things behind. Mince pies, Christmas pudding, sly glasses of Prosecco throughout the day. And the easiest way to do all this is simply not to have them in the house in the first place. 

So fewer ’empty’ calories and more in the form of something nutritious, such as Huel

I’ve also not been running, due to a shoulder injury. (Yes, smart-arse, you use your shoulder when running). But I’m getting an MRI of that on Wednesday morning, so should have a plan for what to do about that by the end of the week. But it’s really shown me the lethal combination of being sedentary and having zero willpower. 

Onwards and upwards. I don’t expect stunning changes this month, but it should pay over over the next couple of months, especially if I can get back into regular exercise. And no, the sauna doesn’t really count. 

There’s no excuse

Dodgy shoulder aside, there’s nothing stopping me from making this change today. I have all the tools I need, including the fitness tracking capabilities of my iPhone and its many apps, a digital weighing scale (the treacherous bastard!) and plenty of space around me to go for walks and runs. I even have a gym in my apartment building. 

I just need to get going. 

I’m actually writing this in the BA Lounge at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. We’re flying home from our New Year’s Even trip to the Netherlands and I was immediately exposed to the free buffet here. But I persevered and had the healthiest thing for lunch that I could find. Some Edam cheese and a whole meal roll to put it in. A bottle of a water and a coffee. No chocolate, no Prosecco, no biscuits. 

I’m not looking for a pat on the back or praise. But I do know that accountability helps with this sort of thing. So next time I post an epic description of my meal at Bodeans, or a similar BBQ joint, feel free to come down on me like a ton of bricks. 

Royal Parks half-marathon 2016

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I live! I didn’t just survive this year’s Royal Parks half-marathon, I enjoyed every minute of it! It was, as ever, a well organised and very picturesque race. But the addition of some unexpected sunshine was simply an added bonus.

My pacing was a little off due to navigating early crowds and needing to stop for an emergency toilet break about a kilometre in. Nerves! But the remainder of the race was a joy. I kept up with the pace-setters aiming for a 2:00 finish. Bear in mind that while my personal best on this course is 1:42, I didn’t think that was realistic. Instead, I aimed for an injury-free sub-2:00 run.

And I succeeded! I came in at 1:56. Hot. Sweaty. Exhausted. But elated.

I had enough in the tank for a final sprint, but I somehow managed to hurt my left should doing so. I know – only I cold hurt my shoulder while running. A few painkillers and a snooze on the couch later and it’s a lot better. I’m guessing it was due to some overly-vigorous arm-pumping over the final 400m.

And now for some photos of the morning, courtesy of @FrankDJS who gallantly accompanied me to the race, held my valuables and snapped me as I ran around in the sunshine.

The best news was that as I passed over the finishing line, I got an alert on my watch letting me know of another sponsorship pledge, taking me over the £500 mark. All raised for Epilepsy Action. If you’d like to add a pound, euro or dollar to this, you can do so via this link.

Royal Parks Half – here we go!

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I’m sitting in my kitchen, sipping a coffee and preparing to get dressed. At 0900, I’ll start the Royal Parks half-marathon and run 13 miles / 21km around London’s stunning parks.

All in aid of Epilepsy Action.

Training has gone well and I’ve been very pleased with my longer runs, both in terms of pace and energy. Today’s the day it’s all been leading up to and I have to admit I’m slightly nervous. And excited! I’ve genuinely enjoyed my last few long runs and hope today is as fun.

I’m aiming to finish, injury-free. And I’m aiming to beat my last race time of 2:02. I don’t anticipate smashing my personal best of 1:42, but let’s see how the morning goes!

If you’d like to support my fundraising, you can donate a pound, euro, dollar or any other currency via this link. It all goes towards Epilepsy Action’s great work in education and advocacy for those living this with most common of neurological conditions.

See you on the other side!

20km across London

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I went for my longest half-marathon training run this morning, hitting the 20km marker. Leaving Canary Wharf, I followed by usual route, looping round to Green Park, but then continuing down to Waterloo station. Where I paused for breath before hopping on the tube home.

I have to say I enjoyed every step of the run, feeling strong and confident as I went. I did slow down towards the end, but I have to say it was mostly due to volume of people on the pavement, not fatigue. But that’s what I get for running through Central London on a Saturday morning!

What was most pleasing was that I had plenty left in the tank for a final kilometre to reach half-marathon distance. My PB at this distance is 1:42, and I made 20km this morning in 1:45:56. So if I can repeat this in a month’s time, I’ll come in well below my 2:00 target.

The ‘Nike Running Club’ app seems to be behaving itself a bit more, now that it’s been updated several times. Voice updates working again, maps are back and I can track my progress in kilometres, not miles. I still think the interface is ugly and far from intuitive, but at least it’s going in the right direction.

I’ve taken the rest of the day at a slightly slower pace. Some lunch, some planning for our trip to Japan next month and now, some time in the sauna and jacuzzi.

Getting comfortable with 17km

I went for another long run this morning, from Canary Wharf over to Green Park again. All part of my preparation for October’s Royal Park’s Half-marathon (you’re getting so bored hearing about this, I just know it!).

Anyway, I was a little bit slower this morning, partly due to some pretty horrific insomnia last night (heat-induced, I’m sure) and because the newly-updated Nike+ app insists on giving my progress updates every half-mile, not half-kilometre. Because the updates are more infrequent, this keeps me wondering if it’s tracking me (silly, I know) and makes it more difficult to estimate my progress.

I can’t help it – I think, and run, in kilometres. Not miles.

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Hopefully the next update to the app will fix this. Bizarrely, I was actually faster on the last three miles than on any of the previous. And it’s when I hit Baker street that I think I got into a nice, consistent running rhythm. I’m actually really getting to enjoy the run between Islington and Edgeware Road, despite having to negotiate the traffic around King’s Cross. Pedestrians, bikes and cars!

It was very enjoyable though and I finished up in Starbucks by Green Park tube, ordering myself a ma-hoosive lemon and lime refresha. Just what my parched body wanted.

This is all in aid of Epilepsy Action and I got my running vest for the race from them the other day. They’ve updated the design and I love it! It should make me easier to spot in the crowd. 😜

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I’m still wondering how much running I’ll get done in Barcelona and Sitges this weekend. I mean, it’s definitely very hot over there. But can I really miss out on some quality time on Platja de Balmins and instead hoof it around town looking really out of place while everyone else is chilling out?

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I guess I’ll have to, at some point. So if that has drawn even a shred of empathy from you, be a good sort and throw a pound or a euro towards my fundraising pot. I’m at 78% of target and really keen to hit it before the race itself.

My next long London run will repeat the above, but continue past Green Park and take me down to Waterloo, where I’ll get the tube home. It’s about 20km all in and I’m really looking forward to it.

Royal Parks half-marathon: just a little bit further

I had a fab run yesterday morning. I’d planned to go a little it further than last time and cast my mind back to my training runs for last year’s London Marathon. (Oh, the painful memories!)

Anyway, I wanted to have a challenging, long run an not simply go round in a loop. My most enjoyable runs last year were when I headed out with an Oyster Card, planning to get the tube home after going as far as I could in one direction.

So yesterday morning, I left Canary Wharf, headed through Shadwell, up to Old Street, then up to Angel, King’s Cross, Baker Street, Edgware Road and then down to Green Park. There, I popped into Starbucks and ordered a venti coffee, took a breather and hopped on the Jubilee Line home.

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All in all, it was 17km and I enjoyed almost every step of the way. Obviously, as soon as I got to Old Street, the heavens opened and I was caught in a downpour. 🙄 I got soaked through and did start to worry about blisters – whenever my trainers get wet when out running, I always seems to end up with epic blisters.

Thankfully, that never happened, though I didn’t dry off until I got to Baker Street, once the sun was out for a while. The only injury I experienced was some pretty intense chafing in the nipple region (too much information?) as a result of my wet running top. I can live with that, as I’ve not a jot of leg or foot pain (or even stiffness) this morning. And it’s partly my fault for forgetting to apply a liberal measure of Vasoline to the usual nooks and crannies. (Yes, too much information…)

I won’t forget it on race day, that’s for sure.

I was really pleased with how the run went, including the fact I kept a reasonable pace through and was only slowed down by either pedestrians or road traffic. Average pace was 5:23, which I can definitely improve in the coming weeks. I’ll do this long run again, but will continue past Green Park tube and head down over the river to Waterloo. I think eventually, I’ll end up back at Tower Bridge or nearby.

My challenge in the next couple of weeks (if you can call it that) is that I have two business trips coming up. This makes training harder, but not impossible. I’m in Sitges and Barcelona next weekend and then in Jersey the following Friday. I’ll bring my gear to both, but will have to take it slightly easier in the heat of Sitges.

Anyway, in case you’ve missed the whole reason I’m training for the Royal Parks half-marathon, it’s epilepsy. I’m living with it, have done for 15 years and want to raise some money for the people behind a great resource: Epilepsy Action.

You can sponsor my run via this link. As of this morning, I’m at 78% of my fundraising target, so every single pound/euro/dollar could help me get there. Huge thanks to everyone who has donated so far.

 

Old man nap time

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Just call me “Nappy McNapFace”.

After my run this morning – after which I felt I could take on the world! – I took a much-needed shower and made myself some lunch. I updated the blog, wasted some time on twitter and booked a cinema ticket.

I then had some comics to read, so curled up on the couch with my iPad and started to catch up on everything in the world of Civil War II. Cut to two hours later and I wake up from a very, very deep sleep, feeling like someone has removed part of my brain. My iPad was thankfully still resting on my chest, but I’d fallen asleep literally three pages into a comic.

Pathetic.

I guess last night’s rubbish sleep – a combination of my standard insomnia and high temperatures here in London – followed by a 15km run around London, was enough to convince my body to take a nap. A shame it was in such a weird position, with my face embedded in a cushion.

I had such a lovely case of “nap face” when I woke up, with some epic creases (more than usual) across my forehead.

It took a while to wake up properly, and by the time I’d kicked my brain into gear, I almost missed the start the film I’d booked. As I’d seen everything else that was showing, I ended up going to see “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” and, while it’s not going to win any Oscars, was pretty funny. In parts. Just what my brain needed to relax. Plus lots of Zac Efron without his shirt on, which was all central to the complex central narrative of the film.

Really.

Now I’m left with the challenge of sleeping tonight. It’s never a good idea for me to take a nap in the afternoon. Aside from waking up like I’ve been in a car crash, it makes it harder to sleep at night. Much harder.

I think I’ll deal with that by staying up late watching “Mr. Robot” and contemplating my own mortality.

Seriously, I must be getting old!