12 December – Up Speed or Deeps Pu?

I had committed to run today, to make up for a lovely indulgent week with friends N&A.  Of course, I made that commitment before having checked the weather.

We didn’t have two feet of snow in London, but we did have a considerable amount of frost and ice. As a street pounder when I am in London, it’s not awfully convenient to get to a park for a nice run. And to be honest, the thought of getting a tube to Regents Park for a run didn’t appeal, given I’d get really cold on the cool-down.

So bright spark that I was, I thought I’d do the Couch To 5K Speed Programme today instead and do it on the Barbican Highwalk. This is an interval training programme designed to help you work faster and harder at your running, increasing your speed and calorie consumption.

After a morning/lunch time/early afternoon of Faffolino visiting at my behest, which went pretty much like this:-

Cup of tea to wake up properly – of course Faffolino, why hadn’t I thought of that?

Sort out the laundry – oh it definitely needs doing, before I can run.

Cup of coffee and breakfast – sure can’t run on an empty stomach (in fact I can and do and prefer to)

Walk up to the fish shop – definitely necessary – a good protein source for today’s run

Grocery shopping – woman cannot live on salmon alone…

Do the ironing – well we have a visitor coming, so it’s better to get it done

Sew on a press-stud onto a summer shirt – self evidently a critical task

I was just about to eye up another ‘must do’ task, of wrapping up two last minute Christmas presents, when Mr JCR interjected ‘I thought you were going for a run, after you’d done the ironing?’. BUGGER, my prevarication had been sussed, so I somewhat reluctantly got changed into my kit. And as ever, my resolve always comes back when I am in kit.

A stroll to the Barbican Highwalk, with my runners buff up by my nose, hat on, double layer of gloves, including the amazing LED finger gloves above. Then Laura started all friendly…. but I know she’s a mean son of a gun. I’m all for girl power, but daughter of a gun, doesn’t sound the same.

Walk for 5 minutes on the 1,2,3,4 beat, which is fine whilst she’s counting, but when it comes to me and my counting, well I go a little awry and I use the 5 minutes to check out my running route – around the mini duck pond. No ducks but rather a lot of duck poo. There are some little patches of ice, so I note their whereabouts and carry on. 5 minutes warm up walk done – by this stage according to Laura my muscles should be nicely warm …mmm, I’m not so sure. It’s flipping freezing and my legs feel a bit leaden, but here we go.

Number One interval – 5 minutes of warm up running to a 150 bpm pace, apparently you can still count it on 1,2,3,4 they are just faster 1,2,3,4s. Well done JCR, you did that one – ah yes I’d forgotten, that’s just the warm up run. Ho hum, okay now Laura ups the ante, still the 1,2,3,4 count; only a heck of a lot faster at 165bpm. My little legs are going like pistons, but I am pleased I get it done…

Then my ‘comfortable’ pace run (according to Laura) but she can’t see my face or hear my breathing…, at which point I come up with a better pacing mechanism than the boring 1,2,3,4 count. I find I can run at the right pace whilst rasping ‘I hate Lau -Ra’ – it isn’t anything personal you understand, but these interval runs are crappy, necessary but crappy. Followed up by the sprint, it is too fast for me to curse at Laura, I content myself with wheezing a generic ‘F..k,  F..k, F..kety, F..k’

Comfortable Pace Run 3 to 6 –  four x sixty seconds of I hate Lau-Ra, which frankly on   the last one, was bloody uncomfortable, with a knee twingeing away.

Sprints 3 to 6 –  it has to be said the pace dropped somewhat, from my initial enthusiastic F..k, F..k, F..kety, F..k, to a more sedate F..k, F..kety, F..k, – I dropped a F..k, as my speed slowed.

What did I learn today?

  1. I have to do interval training to up my speed, so these training runs have to be done
  2. I really need to use Laura for something else other than speed training, as I am not sure she deserves the abuse
  3. My timing and coordination is shocking
  4. Prevarication serves no useful purpose whatsoever, and it’s much better just to go and run
  5. I had hoped to Up Speed, but it was really hard work and at the end I was in the reverse ‘deep spu’ and ended up with a slightly twangy knee and a stitch

In summary, Laura and I are probably going to have to keep dating, but Mr Smooth please, please can you come up with a programme that I like, or is that impossible?

Face Colour -Monarch Red

Playlist

Nothing – just the bizarre running beat that Laura and Audiofuel recommend – I hate it!

Stats

Distance – 3.75km including the warm up and down walks

Time 26.32 mins

Pace 7.04 mins/km (including walk elements)

Squats 3 X 15 sets of reps.

 

 

 

 

Retro Runners – Country and Places New Release

Yesterday was my record breaking run… It’s not quite Usain standard, nor is it Mo Farah standard, but it is my Personal Best standard, I did my first ever sub 30 minutes, 5 km.

And I did it to this playlist, the Retro Runners Country and Places Playlist, loosely based on song titles or artistes who have a ‘country/place’ linkage. Some are a bit corny and punny, but they are fun.

In no particular order, this is the list:-

A New England – Billy Bragg

Lost in France – Bonnie Tyler

Breakfast in America – Supertramp

Une Nuit a Paris – 10cc

Is This The Way To Amarillo – Tony Christie

Take My Breath Away – Berlin

London Calling – The Clash

Strong – London Grammar

No Particular Place To Go – Chuck Berry

Maid of Orleans – OMD

Romeo and Juliet – Dire Straits

Strawberry Fields Forever – The Beatles

Penny Lane – The Beatles

Rio – Duran Duran

Vienna – Ultravox

Belfast Child – Simple Minds

Going Down to Liverpool – The Bangles

Tokyo Joe – Bryan Ferry

Black Eyed Boy – Texas

Massachusetts – Bee Gees

Boston Tea Party – SAHB

California Dreamin’ – The Mamas and The Papas

Avalon – Roxy Music

Grease – Frankie Valli

Solsbury Hill – Peter Gabriel

Japanese Boy – Aneka

Big In Japan – Alphaville

Africa – Toto

(What A) Wonderful World – Sam Cooke

Midnight Train To Georgia – Gladys Knight and The Pips

Rhythm Is Going To Get You – Gloria Estefan and The Miami Sound Machine

New York Minute – Don Henley

Streets of Philadelphia – Bruce Springsteen

Pleasant Valley Sunday – The Monkees

San Francisco – Scott McKenzie

Go Wild In The Country – Bow Wow Wow

Downtown – Petula Clark

 

You can find it on Spotify here

 

 

 

 

 

Yippee – With Apologies to Luke Friend – 3 December

Having met up with super Speedy Razouski yesterday, some of her straight-line speed, must have transferred over to me through the famous energy transferral medium of Portuguese Custard Tarts, because I was raring to go out running this morning.

This morning I checked the weather, yup it was bleurgh, grey, wet and a bit breezy. So I dressed accordingly, very grey top, black fleece lined running tights, mugger’s hat and burglar’s black gloves.

I wasn’t really sure what running mood I was in, so started my warm up walk to Downtown and decided to head towards Smithfield Market. First km, not too bad but ouch there’s something in my shoe. It’s a little stone – I will ignore it and carry on and hopefully it will jiggle to the side and I’ll be okay.

Second km, I am running up Farringdon Lane to Take My Breath Away, I was puffing a bit – it is mildly uphill, but I felt a bit speedier today, ouch that stone is still in my shoe, okay I can’t be bothered faffing about to take it off, I will lose my stride and pace.

Continue on through the 3rd and 4th kms, a slight niggling soreness underfoot, so I think I will curtail the run at 5km, en route towards Silicon Roundabout and I’m boiling hot, so jacket comes off, mugger’s hat removed, gloves taken off and I continue on. Finally I hit the 5km mark and hallelujah for the very first time, I have beaten the 30 minutes for 5k and managed 29 minutes 33 seconds.

For sure Razouski’s virtual presence gave me a boost and a thought to see what I could manage, and yes the route was mainly flat, with only a slight incline to deal with, but still it is my first 5k under the magic 30 minutes!

The only slight rain on my parade today, was the discovery that the stone has done it’s best in my trainer. My 2 week old running socks are irrevocably damaged. With apologies to Luke Friend who wrote the song ‘There’s a Hole in My Heart” – this is my version.

Since you arrived, my feet became a mess

Cos running without you was the thing I did best

Now that today is over what else have I left?

Cos I hate you so much I can’t lose you, I need you to go

You should have gone but I’ll never know

Why on this day you got stuck in my sole

On my heel,  but not on my toe

There’s a hole in my sock, can you fix it?

There’s a hole in my sock, since you’ve been around

Is this P-A-I-N?

Somebody tell me what’s happening to me?

Is this P-A-I-N?

Somebody tell me, just what’s happening to me?

Since you haven’t gone

I hate you so much that it makes me think

The pain you caused just shredded my feet

Cos those socks were new, for every runner’s need

And I hate you so!

There’s a hole in my sock can you fix it?

There’s a hole in my sock can you fix it?

Playlist

Downtown – Petula Clark

Midnight Train to Georgia – Gladys Knight and The Pips

Take My Breath Away – Berlin

Solsbury Hill – Peter Gabriel

Big In Japan – Alphaville

Une Nuit a Paris – 10cc

Lost in France – Bonnie Tyler

Strawberry Fields Forever – The Beatles

Avalon – Roxy Music

Stats

Distance 5.03km

Time 29 minutes 33 seconds

Average Pace 5 minutes 52 (mins/km)

Hole in Sock – 1

Socks in Bin – 2

Yippees – at least 3!

 

Zero Degrees, Did You Say Zero Degrees? – November 30

Yup, that’s what the weather man says, and I can look forward to a balmy 4 degrees at midday…

Oh and this is in central London… which means it is colder elsewhere in the UK. if my fellow runners can get out there, then so can I. Brave words, whilst cosseted indoors, drinking a mug of tea, actually I am telling fibs, I am currently sinking a rather nice glass of Italian red (Wednesday night!!!)…, but mug of tea sounds healthier!

Running/not running decision is made, the type of running is yet to be. Not sure I fancy the interval training again so soon after torturous Tuesday. So, JCR what is it to be? 5k, 7k, 10k, or 11k+?

Okay, I will run as far as I feel is okay. Classic get out clause, with this in mind, I can’t possibly fail, unless I don’t actually run. My fellow C25K runner did 10.5km on Thursday, so I have an upper target.

 

Bombing to the Barbican – 28 Nov

I am ‘suffering’ from runner’s envy, for two reasons:-

  1. I can’t seem to get under 30 minutes for 5km – although in fairness 6 months ago, I’d have taken 3 hours as a personal best
  2. One of my fellow runners did just 4 minutes 15 for a km, and I am wondering how on earth that would be possible for me to do

Let’s be frank, I’m not actually suffering 🙂 – but surprisingly I appear to have found a competitive bit in me – I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a streak, maybe more a truncated dash.

Now, I am not setting up a virtual competition with a fellow runner, but her amazing km run, got me to thinking, we are similar ages, share 80s music tastes and she has been running longer than me and has done almost half marathon distances. She never saw that  km speed coming either. Therefore, maybe my original thought that I am a long distance, slow pace runner, is something that isn’t necessarily true and can be something I could see if it is possible to change.

Post C25K graduation, you are advised to consolidate your distance and time running, so that 5k becomes habitual and almost comfortable. Since then I’ve been focussed on extending the distance and time run.

Today, instead of my usual 5 to 7km effort, I am going for interval training. The coach on the podcast is Laura, and it’s my first time with her. I am used to Mr Smooth and from what I can gather Laura is a love or loathe coach.

Apparently her ‘speed’ podcast is just the ticket to get my arse moving, and whilst I am prevaricating by writing this; my arse is remaining firmly glued to the seat.

What’s that noise I hear ‘ssshhhhllllppp’ yup that’s one buttock lifting, and here’s ‘ssshhhhllllppp’ that’s the second one…

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Now I am up and going to do that speed running thing in the Barbican – I do hope the good residents don’t complain!

 

 

 

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