Well colour me shocked to see how long it’s been since the last time I wrote anything. I’ve been neglecting you shamefully, how lazy of me.
I haven’t actually been being lazy. I had a lot on at work for a good number of weeks, and it wasn’t so much having no time to write as having no time to do anything especially interesting that it would be worth writing about individually, so instead here’s a whistle stop update on what I’ve been up to.
I’ve run some races
Early in July I managed to get myself back to 10 mile fitness and ran the Harry Hawkes 10 in a new PB, both for the race and the distance. This is a great race, really well organised, lovely route, hefty medal and big PB potential because it’s pretty much flat. If you’re a west Londoner check it out next year.
The day after Harry Hawkes was the official start date for NYC marathon 2017 training. Having pulled out last year due to injury I’m having another crack at getting there in one piece, and I was determined to be in a good place distance wise at the start of the plan.
I therefore followed up the Harry Hawkes with the Down Tow Up Flow Half Marathon, which is a pretty race in a virtual straight line between Marlow and Windsor. It was a nice flat course, but definitely more traily than I had anticipated, and the very pleasant marshals kept giving instructions like ‘just round to the right and up the steps’ which meant I was a bit slower than I had hoped to be but as it was meant to be a training run it didn’t really matter, and I may have been slightly guilty of allowing the word ‘only’ to creep in next to ‘a half marathon’ in how I’d been thinking about this one so that serves me right. I covered the distance without stopping and that was the important thing.
Last week the Club Champs schedule demanded a trip as far south west on a bus as I ever hope to have to go for the Wedding Day 7k, organised every year by the Stragglers (the same wonderful people behind the Green Belt Relay) around the anniversary of Prince Charles and Princess Di’s big day. A slightly odd date to build a running race around maybe, but when you’ve got the fabulous Bushey Park to trot round avoiding deer and running into extremely unseasonable head winds then why the hell not? I can chalk this one up as another PB as well since I’d never run a 7k race before, and I suspect it’s another one I’ll be back to next year. Aside from anything else the race T shirts are very snazzy.
I’ve made some pretty cool Garmin patterns
Marathon training means long runs and technical sessions. As well as actually figuring out the where the invervals function on my watch is and making use of it for a change, I have been enjoying making pretty shapes on my Garmin by running up some local artificial hills (which I was reliably informed last week were created by construction waste from Wembley) and by dragging my backside round the bulk of the Ealing Half Marathon route.
I can’t run or volunteer at EHM this year and running the route last weekend for a 14 mile long run I got a bit sad about that. It’s not the easiest half you can run (we do have a few ‘undulations’ in Ealing) but its definitely the best. The local support is fantastic, it’s a nice interesting suburban route and the organisation is second to none. Musing this as I plodded along I’ve decided that this is because it feels like it’s been put on by a big organisation but the organising team are all runners themselves so they know what’s important. Like having enough loos, lots of waymarking, plenty of water stations and a great atmosphere. Have a read of my full race report from last year and if that convinces you to give it a try you can sign up here – they’re nearly sold out so hurry up!
I’ve discovered some fun new nutrition
I got one of these in a race goody bag at some point recently – I can’t remember where but it may have been the Westminster Mile.
They’ve been sitting about doing nothing for a few months but I been giving them a try before shorter runs when you want something to give you a boost but you don’t want to faff about with a gel. They’re really tasty, easy on the tummy and I think they do help. I’ve also just found them on Amazon for a ridiculously cheap bulk price, worth a look. They will probably become my parkrun PB fuel of choice.
I joined the Fitbit tribe
Since being out injured last year I haven’t been happy with my general level of fitness or with my weight. I gained quite a bit when I couldn’t run and I never quite got rid of it all, because I was running slower speeds and sessions with less impact during London training. I also think it has a lot to do with getting a bit closer to middle age, and with the fact that I have a largely desk based job. That half stone you’d have shed in a fortnight just by cutting back on the crisps and cheese is harder to shift on the far side of 35.
Having done a bit of research I decided to try using one of these tracker doobreys that turns you into a very shit cyborg and gives you a better idea of your general level of health and fitness. It of course had absolutely nothing to do with the very San Franciscan nature of the current Fitbit ad campaign.
Well. I’m sold. This thing is amazing.
It was incredibly simple to set up, even for an app Luddite like me, and it’s got functions for everything you might want to know. It tells you what the recommended targets are for things like hydration, sleep, and general moving about and then allows you to set your own. As well as counting my daily steps to that magic 10,000 (not as scary as it sounds) I’ve got it nudging me to get up every hour as well as taking some chill out time once a day. It also takes all the effort out of keeping yourself hydrated and watching your food intake; you can programme it for whether you want to maintain weight or lose some, and if you want to lose weight you can put in how much and how quickly. It then keeps track of all your calories in and out and tells you how many you have left throughout the day. What I really like about this isn’t just that it does the maths for you, but it changes based on how far through the day you are, so it’s not all there at once. That means if you want that cappuccino at morning coffee break time that’s great, but you might have to go and walk around for ten minutes to make allowances for it activity wise because you can’t automatically see that you’ll get away with it if you have one less veggie sausage at dinner time.
Basically it’s not telling me anything I don’t already know about how to shift a few pounds, but it is already making it simpler and making me more accountable. I love it, and I have a sneaking suspicion I will wish I’d got one ages ago.
So that’s what’s been going on! I’m at the end of week three of NYC training and have a couple of halfs in August to look forward to. Lets see if this bit of blue plastic on my wrist helps me run them any faster that the last one!