The Necessary 5‘Ps’ of Running in London – 22 Nov

One of  the things I notice about running in London, is that my mindset is entirely different to when I am in Italy. I am a lot more relaxed because I know where I am running and it’s not on the roads, which is one heck of a lot safer.

There are however some things well worth remembering about running in London, although I guess they’d probably apply to all cities. Here is my list of top 5 ‘Ps’ for London Running.

Peeing – absolutely critical to have a toilet strategy. Go before you go. London has loads of coffee shops if you’re desperate, but then you have to buy a guilt drink to make up for using their bathroom. So later on you need a bathroom again, and then you buy a second guilt drink and so on. Before you know it you are on first name terms with all baristas in a 5 mile radius.

Pooches and Poo – most running advice tells you to lift your head when running and not look at the floor in front of you. What this doesn’t take into account are our four-legged friends. If they are on a lead, Sod’s law says it will be on one of those expander leads which means the dog owner is about a km behind the pooch. You can get awfully tangled in the lead and no one knows, except you and the pooch. And if the actual dog doesn’t get you, then looking at eye-level means you will miss their messages on the pavement. Although if you’re in a Park, you will not be able to avoid the dog poo trees, where people suspend the poo from low hanging branches. The poo will get you, if not today then tomorrow. There is no avoidance strategy, except not to go outdoors ever again.

Pace – absolutely impossible to work out or manage your pace in the City, unless you’re running at about 3am in the morning. Too many people – tick. Not enough space to run – tick. Waiting at traffic lights for a change that’s never seems to favour pedestrians – tick. Road works, pavement works, building works, canal works, rail works – tick, tick, tick. So the trick is just to dawdle and meander your happy way. If you want to be a speedmeister, then hire a running track, run at 3am, use a treadmill, perhaps try NLP and imagine what fast running feels like. Or sharpen your elbows and just barge your way through – it’s a tad aggressive, but then that’s what everyone expects of a Londoner anyway.

Particulates/Pollution – the nasty things that clog up your lungs and make you wheeze like an asthmatic dog.  Sadiq Khan is proposing many charges to get rid of this problem, there’s the diesel charge, the congestion charge, the old van charge, the lorry charge, the drone charge, the Uber charge, the Deliveroo charge and so on. So many charges and yet no practical effect. There is only one solution to this and that is not to run in London. Ever.

Politeness – London is renowned for being rude, unfriendly and aggressive, with a recent TFL study citing the following examples of bad behaviour:-

Not looking where you are going when walking

Cycling too aggressively

Lorries blocking junctions

Tube passengers who refuse to give up their seats

 

As runners, we don’t walk, we don’t cycle, we are not lorries and we are not running on the Tube. Therefore I am neither rude, unfriendly, aggressive nor badly behaved and if anyone dare suggest  I am, then I will punch their lights out….

Or you could always just say please, thank you and excuse me whilst running – that seems to work too!

 

 

November 21 – Water, Water, Everywhere

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and certainly not a drop to drink. Today I am doing a canal side trek as a change to my usual City based route. On Saturday at the Finsbury Park ‘Park Run’ Hannah, a friend and one of the Park Run volunteers introduced me to her friend and workmate Quentin. He lives near Old Street and recommended running by the side of Regent’s Canal. Now he is an ultra runner – 50 and 100km runs not unusual for him, so I did have to explain that 10k is about my upper limit. But he was very enthusiastic about the joys of canalside running, and one stood out – the lack of inclines – true enough there are a few bridges and locks to navigate, but it’s mainly flat.

Off I trotted, up to Islington and dropped onto the canalside, straightaway there’s one thing I notice, the smell. Or rather the lack of traffic smell, so that’s a quick win, certainly not so many particulates clogging up the old lungs here. You do have to dodge the occasional canal-side clogger-uppers, that is folk walking two or three abreast, cyclists, and prams but it’s not too bad. I am aiming to get just past Victoria Park which I think is about 5kms away.

All the male runners are wearing shorts, I am somewhat over dressed in running tights and two layers on top, but hey ho, the red face gave plenty of warning of my approach to on-comers, especially near the ‘under-bridge’ sections. Getting close to Victoria Park I see a group of canal ramblers coming towards me and through a very low narrow under bridge section. Being in no hurry I wait patiently for them to come through – aha there’s about 70 of them. Lots said ‘thank you’ and I was happy with that, but then my polite mannerly mask started to slip, as Compo, Clegg and Foggy meandered somewhat slowly through, as I was cooling down, waiting for them.

It wasn’t the slowness that upset me, it was the fact that they managed to find something to see in the water, under a bridge, in a canal, in November. They stood three abreast and discussed this thing for what seemed like a full episode of Last of The Summer Wine. Eventually, they came out, by which time my blood pressure was higher than it had been and my temperature lower, and I asked politely if they were the tail walkers and they said yes. That was my not so subtle hint for them to say ‘thank you’ – they didn’t – bah humbug, who says it’s the young that are discourteous?

I carried on through, past the entrance to Victoria Park and then unfortunately the canal side was blocked, so I trotted back through the park and back home again. This of course meant circumnavigating the canal ramblers again, but this time I was in clear territory, whoosh loads of mini-overtakes and I was past. One lady trilled ‘runner coming through’ – that’s the first time anyone other than Mr Smooth has said that. Result!

I managed 11.5km in all, but was a bit tired and was channelling my Mrs Overall running style at the end, near my local fish shop. I stopped the clock, entered the shop and eyed up the dead fish. There was one glassy eyed Sea Bream, who looked like I felt.

The day however ended better than I could have imagined – at my usual annual MOT, my doctor told me my blood pressure was now perfect, having been borderline last year. Despite Foggy, Compo and Clegg doing their worst, they failed!

Playlist

Don’t Let Me Be MisUnderstood – The Animals

Stray Cat Strut – Stray Cats

I’m Free – The Soup Dragons

Take It To The Limit – The Eagles

All Together Now – The Farm

Money – The Flying Lizards

Dirty Harry – Gorillaz

Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime – The Korgis

Pour Some Sugar On Me – Def Leppard

Crying In The Chapel – The Orioles

Daydream Believer – The Monkees

Who Let The Dogs Out – Baha Men

Black Betty – Ram Jam

Can You Dig It – The Mock Turtles

Don’t Fear The Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult

Crazy Horses – The Osmonds

The Eye of The Tiger – Survivor

Hungry Like The Wolf – Duran Duran

Stats

Distance 11.53km

Time 1.26.21

Average Pace 7.29 mins/km

Elevation Gain 31metres – on a canal???

Old Farts – 3

Blood Pressure (now ) 108/52 or Perfect

 

 

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t….

 

run a Marathon. So goes the latest Map My Run advice and there are three reasons, which can be found and are discussed fully here

In summary though, they are:-

  1. You’re not ready
  2. You can’t devote enough time to train
  3. You need more race practice

As I have no intention of running a marathon unlike my super fit friend J, (who was in fact an iron woman, before the term was ever coined), I thought I would adapt this advice for a more normal likelihood in the JCR household.

So, here are my three reasons for not running with a Marathon (or Snickers bar if you’re American or if you can’t remember that Snickers used to be called Marathons in the good old days!)

  • You’re not ready –

this is because you have forgotten to buy the Marathon/Snickers bars in the first place. Next time, be prepared and buy a family pack, that should do a whole week of running.

  • You can’t devote enough time to train –

running with chocolate requires dedication, first of all you need to practice the unwrapping whilst running. Secondly, you can’t run with chocolate on hot days, it’s just plain nasty. Smudged chocolate on your hands could get you arrested for indecent running. If your need to run with chocolate occurs in the summer months, you are unlikely to have sufficiently cool enough days to practice. Unless you live in the UK of course.

  • You need more race practice –

in the JCR household, first in the cupboard gets first dibs at the chocolate. Many practice sprints help your access to the goodies, this is technically called ‘interval training’. As any seasoned runner knows, interval training is a crucial tool to help with Marathon running.

And if these hints have helped, you may like a ‘sweetie’ inspired playlist on Spotify:-

Chocolate Girl – Deacon Blue

So You Win Again – Hot Chocolate

Pour Some Sugar On Me – Def Leppard

Push The Button – Sugababes

Strawberry Fields Forever – The Beatles

Raspberry Beret – Prince

Girl From Mars – Ash

Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This – Eurythmics

Sad Sweet Dreamer – Sweet Sensation

I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) – Four Tops

Boogie Oogie Oogie – A Taste Of Honey

Flake – Jack Johnson

Cake By The Ocean – DNCE

I’m The Fat Man – King Pleasure and The Biscuit Boys

Cream – Prince

Marathon – Junkie XL

Salt Peanuts – Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie

Ice Cream Man – Blur

I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow

You Got The Love – The Source and Candi Staton

Faffolino at Finsbury Park – 18 November

Can’t sleep, won’t sleep. This is my Friday night, for some bizarre reason I am nervous about doing my first Park Run. So what’s the problem?

I’ve tested the journey, so I know where to go

I road tested (almost) the course route, so I know the topology

I can run 5k, in fact I can run 10k, at a push 11k

So what is the problem? It’s just nerves I reckon.

Saturday morning comes, I am awake before the alarm (and as a perennial teenager when it comes to getting up, this is strange).

And Faffolino decides to visit – Mr JCR makes a very welcome mug of tea, so that gives me plenty of time to just sit and mull over the up-coming run. Finally, I decide to get up and at them. Wash, brush my teeth, get dressed, go to the loo. Change clothing as am worried it’s too cool and I haven’t got sufficient layers. Faffolino coughs and I decide I need to go to the loo again. Remove a layer of clothing as I feel warmer now. Faffolino sneezes and that reminds me I may just need to go to the loo again. Get back out and decide maybe another layer, a hat, a buff and running gloves would all be helpful.

At this stage I have visited the bathroom on at least four occasions and got changed/rechanged a similar number. It is time for me to take control, but one final faff, my Park Run bar code is just printed on paper. Maybe it is better if I stick it to a piece of card and put it in plastic, so it’s more robust and doesn’t get sweaty when I run. that’s my final faff, before I leave home. Ouch the cold hits my face and I feel happy I am all togged up, walk to Moorgate to get the overland to Finsbury Park, even though it is mainly underground. I’ve actually managed to get an earlier train in my concern not to be late at the park.

I arrive at the station (not the same one as my Thursday test run) and from what I can recall the park is just across the road, but I don’t see it so start walking and then ask a passer-by for help. Oh yes just like Thursday  – ‘it’s behind you’, somewhat embarrassed I work my way back and get into the park and go to the cafe meeting point. I am trading messages with Hannah who co-opted me into doing my first park run here. Yes, I do have my barcode, but then that gives me a whole set of faffing to do, as I can’t exactly recall which pocket I put it in.  Now I am thinking I need the loo again, so that’s more bloody faffing around… because I was a tad nervous I arrived really about 30 minutes earlier than needed and as a consequence, was not really warmed up. Then I along with other newbies got the newbie briefing, so I never did a warm up walk either.

Over 300 people lined up to do the run, with some good natured jostling at the front and a ‘shout out’ to about 6 people who were doing their hundredth run. I was determined not to get caught up in the atmosphere, because you can easily overdo it trying to keep up with every one, so I reckon it took me about 20 seconds to get over the start line, as I was right at the back, and I deliberately looked at the floor so as not to get ‘pulled’ along by the faster runners. I got into a pace and tagged along with a lady runner Sophie, who looked to be doing about the same pace as me, she wanted to beat 40 minutes, because that would be a personal best. I stayed with her for about half a kilometre or so, but I naturally was just a touch faster, so she was very gracious and told me to carry on. Coming up the first run of the big hill, I was overtaken by the eventual ‘winner’ who did the course in sixteen and a half minutes… now that is depressing, even though he was about 30 years or so younger! I carried on and finished a grand 312th out of 329, I thought I wasn’t so bad when I saw I came 6th in ladies of my age group, except there were only six ladies in my age group running.

The upsides of Park Run – it really encourages everyone, there were parents, kids, old uns, young uns and dog walking uns. The volunteers were all lovely, friendly and very helpful, everyone you passed encouraged you to carry on and applauded you. The ‘multi’ park runners, all were friendly and chirpy and there is a great sense of camaraderie. I met one lady who was doing her 99th run, her husband was a volunteer and her daughter was doing timekeeper duties, so there’s a definite sense of a running family, even in anonymous, unfriendly London.

The downsides for me are personal ones, I had been really happy with my running progress from the summer start to today and had been seeing how my times were improving. In Park Run you are graded by performance and although it isn’t a race and isn’t meant to be I felt that there was a ‘race buzz’ about. I thought I’d been doing okay and now find I am decidedly rubbish…, so that was a bit demoralising. Being passed by loads of Speedy Gonzaleses also made me feel a bit crap (it was worse being overtaken by dog walkers!!!). Having spent a lot of time telling myself that I am only competing with me, all of a sudden I felt as though I was competing with 300+ folk.

Running with people, also for me is a new experience, I think I am just a miserable old cow and truthfully prefer my own company when I run. But it was nice meeting Sophie on the run and I notice that she did beat her 40 minutes target, so maybe like learning to  run, I need to learn to run with people and that will help. If Sophie can beat her time and not get disheartened, then there must be a way of doing that….

Final lesson, the warm up walking is crucial, I missed out on that due to all my stupid faffing and being nervous, but next time I won’t need the newbie briefing, so can do my warm-up.

Am I a Park Run convert/advocate? – the tone of my writing tells me I am not. But then it took me a little while to get into my running rhythm when I re-started in summer; it seems to me I should give it another go, probably at the same venue, they are a lovely crowd, I know two of the volunteers already and met Sophie. I think it’s a mindset issue; how I tackle my solo running may not work when I am being a ‘Park Runner’.

But Hannah and Lorna and the other volunteers were fab, and they make fantastic cake too, I can highly recommend the banana bread – great crumb, in a Great British Bake Off technical critique.

So down to the nitty gritty

Stats

Distance 5k exactly

Time 34 mins 42

Placed 312/329

Playlist

Be My Number Two – Joe Jackson

Temptation – Heaven 17

Lose Yourself – Eminem

Talking Loud and Clear – OMD

Einstein A Go-Go – Landscape

Mamma Mia – Abba

Dreaming of Me – Depeche Mode

Thriller – Michael Jackson

Can You Feel It – Michael Jackson

Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough – Michael Jackson

November 16 – Sneaking a Peek …

at Finsbury Park today, as on Saturday I am going to do my first ever Park Run there.

Mr JCR is a member of Islington Cycling Club and one of his fellow members, Hannah or pocket rocket as she ought to be called, is both a cyclist and a keen runner. She is one of the many thousands of Park Run volunteers across the country, and had invited me to try Finsbury Park when we returned to London. So I duly registered, got my bar code and decided I’d take a sneaky peek and do a test 5k there, in advance of Saturday, so I know what I am up for.

During the summer I have been running the hills of Le Marche, but it would appear, that 2.5 weeks of virtually flat running, has meant my hill running legs have deserted me. After a rather lengthy tube journey, involving the closure of the Piccadilly Line and a train on the platform for about 15 minutes, I arrived at Manor House tube station, and asked a nice lady where the park was, as I couldn’t see it. Yes you’ve guessed it, it was in true pantomime fashion behind me! I felt a bit of a plonker, but then I happily admit to having no sense of direction whatsoever and although I’d checked out the park run route at home on Dr Google with his maps, I really had no idea where I was going.

Off I trotted, past the two men sitting on the park bench, with rather a large supply of emptied Guinness cans. I did wonder whether my appearance may warrant a comment, but they were more interested in the remaining unopened cans of Guinness than me. Up the slopey bit, past a film crew – who seemed not to be doing any filming, but having a coffee break. They actually had 5 km worth of coffee breaks, because they were all in exactly the same seats in the catering bus, on the three occasions I ran past. And they had Tunnock’s Tea Cakes, which were awfully tempting when I ran past the catering guy with his teacake refill tray. I so wanted to nick one… 🙂

I carried around the perimeter and saw quite a few fellow runners, mainly guys, very fit guys in fact, one with a rather lovely set of dreadlocks, that were a deep purple colour, they were a lovely contrast to his grey running kit. I was behind one lady runner, who despite looking snail-like in her running, had a rather fast pace, as I found out when I tried to catch her up and couldn’t. After a lot of huffing and puffing past the VIP dog walking team – their van said they were VIPpets, which I think is a play on words of whippets, I was approaching my 5k point, so started to slow down, not that I had been going fast – this run was at least a minute a km slower than normal and that includes my recent 10km runs.

I was wondering why I felt so leaden and then remembered aha the Kennedy’s fish, chips and mushy peas supper, eaten quite late last night. That may have something to do with it! The 5km warning came up and I thought I’d walk to the gate entrance where I’d started and yup, my absolutely rubbish sense of direction meant I was walking the wrong way, and yes in pantomime fashion again, Manor House was behind me.

Ho hum, I finished off and walked to the tube to be told, no Piccadilly line service today now, you’ll have to take the bus…. In all of the years we’ve lived here, I’ve never used a bus, – Tube, Uber, Taxi, Feet, Car, Bike and Boat, but never a bus. Today I broke my duck and caught the 259 from Manor House to King’s Cross station. I won’t be doing that again…

Oh and I played my new ‘places’ playlist, but I think listening to all of these exotic places, whilst actually in old Finsbury Park, didn’t really help me at all. Maybe I need urban grime?

Playlist

California Dreamin’ – Mamas and Papas

Waterloo – Abba

Boston Tea Party – SAHB

Japanese Boy – Aneka

Une Nuit a Paris – 10CC

Strawberry Fields Forever – The Beatles

Vienna – Ultravox

A New England – Billy Bragg

Is This The Way to Amarillo – Tony Christie

Black Eyed Boy – Texas

Massachussettes – Bee Gees

Gound Down to Liverpool – The Bangles

Grease – Frankie Valli

Midnight Train to Georgia – Gladys Knight and the Pips

Go Wild In The Country – Bow Wow Wow

Stats

6.23km (I ran 5km)

Time 49.36

Average Pace 7.57 (mins/km)

Elevation Gain 40m (so why the problem?)

3 bags of dog poo, left near to the bins, not in them, just near – arrggghhh

 

 

 

 

November 14 – Anyone got a cure for????

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Runner’s fluff?

Eeuugghh, I know it sounds gross, I’ve never had it before and it came as a big shock I can tell you. Happily de-sausaging before having a shower, I came across black fluff, all over my top half and in crevices I didn’t know I had..

Now this is a new thing, I’ve read about exercises for avoiding runner’s knee, Achilles’ problems, and many other ailments, but there doesn’t seem to be anything on Dr Google about runner’s fluff…

If it’s not too nasty for you, this is the issue; I have a new hooded running top, which I am guessing may be designed to be worn over a base layer. Trouble is I get too hot if I wear that many layers, so I go more or less ‘au naturel’ , well Berlei Shock Absorber first, then the hoodie. After an hour or so of being out in the London Autumn air, some of the hoodie decides to run off it onto me. Hence runner’s fluff.

Possible solutions:- clingfilm, naked running, base layer, dump the hoodie.

I am thinking clingfilm may help with the fluff, but not the heat. Naked running – there isn’t any one who deserves that, base layer – same problem as the cling film. Dump the hoodie – this sounds like an aggressive anti- ASBO person strategy. Don’t feel inclined to dump the hoodie, as I bought two of them, so am thinking this winter, I will be a runner’s fluff sufferer.

Today’s cheeky 5k, was all about getting out and doing some speedier work. Except I forgot about people being in the City and also traffic lights… So I bombed off around the City, chased after a rather cute man in a Vanarama tee shirt. I don’t need a van, but if he is hiring them, then I am happy to consider it 🙂 Shortly after Mr Universe ran past, I found I was quite thirsty and the above fountain appeared at the right time, although sadly I wasn’t able to drink from it.

Today was the running day when all the male runners were either booted and suited, and scurrying into offices or wearing tee shirts and shorts. I only saw one fellow running female and she was in running tights and a jacket like me. I gave her the thumbs up and continued on.

Didn’t manage to break any records today, but that’s okay I can try again another day. And if Mr Vanarama acts as my pacemaker, I think I’ll be faster.

Playlist

Money, Money, Money – Abba

Mamma Mia – Abba

Dancing Queen – Abba

Tainted Love – Soft Cell

Runnin’ Down a Dream – Tom Petty

Talk Talk – Talk Talk

I Ran – A Flock of Seagulls

Talk Talk – Talk Talk (I know user malfunction!)

I Ran – A Flock of Seagulls (I know user malfunction!)

Lose Yourself – Eminem

Dreaming of Me – Depeche Mode

Statistics

Distance 5.34km

Time 33.34 mins

Average Pace 6.16 mins/km

Fastest km 5.53

Fluff Collected – too much!

Chasing after the boys – 13 November

Well you’re never too old…, or at least I’m not!

There have been a number of new men in my life since I started this running malarkey, luckily Mr JCR seems relaxed about it.

From Rolysmate and his lovely meemum, to Irish John’s philosophy ‘a run, is a run, is a run’, and Mr Run himself who was my partner in crime on the other side of the Adriatic, when Lucifer decided to visit.

I have learned something from each and every one of them and in their collective honour I have created on Spotify my A to Z of men’s name songs, with a couple of ‘generic male oriented songs’ for added effect.

This testosterone filled playlist, is an eclectic list and frankly I’d not heard of some of them, but now I have and I love all the tracks, and I hope my fellow C2Rk male runners like their tribute.

Oh and these boys spurred me onto my first 11k run too!

MrIrishRolyRuns playlist is just here

Andy You’re A Star – The Killers

Ben – Michael Jackson

Clint Eastwood – Gorillaz

It’s Raining Men – The Weather Girls

Denis – Blondie

Goodbye Earl – Dixie Chicks

Frankie – Sister Sledge

Geno – Dexys Midnight Runners

Diary of Horace Wimp – ELO

Ivan Meets GI Joe – The Clash

Jackie Wilson Said – Dexys Midnight Runner

Song for Keith – Mike Strickland

Louie Louie – The Kingsmen

Mickey – Toni Basil

Nathan Jones – The Supremes

Oliver’s Army – Elvis Costello and the Attractions

Peter Gunn Theme – The Blues Brothers

The Mighty Quinn – Manfred Mann

Rudy – Supertramp

Girls and Boys – Blur

Telegram Sam – TRex

Sharp Dressed Man – ZZ Top

Tracy Jacks – Blur

Ulysses – Franz Ferdinand

Is Vic There? – Department S

Warwick Avenue – Duffy

X Offender – Blondie

You’re The First, The Last, My Everything – Barry White

Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie

Maneater – Hall and Oates

A Message To You Rudy – The Specials