Hypothesis

I hypothesise that doing a parkrun the morning after drinking an undisclosed number of alcoholic beverages at the work Christmas party, followed by dancing into the small hours, is not conducive to running well.

I have conducted an experiment to establish

a) if this is true

b) if it is true – to what extent

Equipment

Legs, rest of body, trail shoes, rest of clothes, a parkrun (including: venue, timing device, friendly volunteers, barcode, access to previous run times courtesy of parkrun statistics), calculator/brain.

Method

1. Go out for a nice evening of good food, laughing, a few drinks, plenty of dancing – that kind of thing.

2. Go to bed at approximately 01:45

3. Wake up at approximately 07:30 to tidy the kitchen, mop the floor, feed the rabbits, etc. thus buying a few brownie points and facilitate the imminent departure for the required parkrun, given that no time has been spent with family since before dinner the previous evening.

4. Run a parkrun.  For purposes of statistical analysis and scientific rigour, it is important that this parkrun is one that has been run on numerous previous occasions although the precise number of previous occasions is an area of considerable dispute within the scientific community (see ‘conclusion’ for further discussion)

5. Don’t forget your barcode*.

*For the uninitiated (and there may still be some), a parkrun is a free, timed 5 kilometre run facilitated by volunteers that takes place at various places around the country every Saturday morning at 09:00, but to receive your results you first need to register, and then take along your printed barcode so that can match your time with your details shortly after the run has finished.

6. Await results to be texted out.

7.  Compare results with those achieved previously.

7.5 Analyse results.

8. Write a blog post about it.

9. Patiently await Nobel prize for contribution to science.

Results

Time taken to run the parkrun following work Christmas do = 23:50

Previous 6 parkruns at the same venue =  23:13,  23:54,  23:48,  23:13,  23:46,  23:55

Average of those previous 6 parkruns = 23:38 (.166666667)

Converting these times to seconds (to facilitate calculation of percentage decease in performance)…

Average of previous 6 parkruns = 1418 (.166666667) seconds  ;  post-party parkrun = 1430 seconds

so…

1418 (.166666667)

_____________                 =     0.99172494172

1430

 

Conclusion

The above results appear to demonstrate that in percentage terms there was only a 0.8% (to one decimal place) decrease in performance.

However, it is not possible to conclude with any scientific certainty that this decrease is due to the previous evening’s activity and not just the natural variation in performance already evidenced in the times recorded on the six previous occasions (two of which, if taken in isolation, would actually indicate an improvement).

 

It could also be argued that instead of taking an average of previous runs, only the most recent run should be considered.

This would therefore suggest a percentage performance decrease now of 2.6% (to one decimal place)

 

It must also be noted that to be statistically significant, it would perhaps be better to do this more than once…

 

…so see you next Christmas.

 

Revival

Posted: December 10, 2014 in Marathon, running
Tags: , , , ,

It’s 4am, I have been awoken by my eldest child and returning to sleep is not something I do well.

Blogging regularly is something else I do not do well.

In fact, here are ten more things I don’t do well:

1… Head out for a run less than 40 minutes after I’ve decided I shall head out for a run.

2… Stick to a training plan.

3… Not eat all the biscuits.

4… Dance.

6… Count.

7… Wrestle crocodiles*.

8… Run up hills.

9… Motivate myself.

10… Ignore grammatical errors and just get on with my life.

*It is, admittedly, quite possible I am brilliant at crocodile wrestling – I just haven’t tried.

This is obviously not an exhaustive list. There are many, many things, but it would be rather depressing to go through them all right now.

Some things I am aiming to improve on, however.
Namely – points 2,3,5,6 and 8.

The running mojo has been somewhat lacking recently. As has the general, getting-on-with-life mojo.
So I did what many of us folk who pretend to be runners sometimes do… I entered a race.

A local 10k track and trail type race, with, I might add, a Christmas pudding at the end for all finishers.
About 3 years ago I really pushed myself to run a 10k in under 50 minutes, so with that in mind I…(blah,blah,blah…might edit this later to give a bit of a race report….but let’s face it, I probably won’t…) managed to cross the line in 50:18.

Not too shabby, I thought (but sub-50 would have felt better) and I then immediately blamed the unhelpful habit I have of cycling to races. That would surely have been worth twenty seconds off the final time.
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It’s funny,though. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the goal. I even, sort of, enjoyed the thrill of being so close but not achieving it. That means it was a good goal to have set. It’s no fun if you know you will attain it.

So with that in mind, I went and entered a marathon again.

Actually, that’s not strictly true. I haven’t actually entered, but I’ve thought super-seriously about it, planned transport, written the date in my diary, and told my wife…which is as good as entering.

The thing is, I promised myself I’d not run another marathon unless I felt prepared and ready. I have nothing to gain anymore from ‘just getting around’. I’ve done five marathons now, I know I can ‘get around’ the course. But I also know it is not much fun if I’m not fully prepared and fully trained. I have told myself that even if I have paid to enter a marathon, I will not run it if I don’t feel prepared. Oh, and I definitely won’t cycle there.

So I have restarted writing here to record what I’ve been doing to prepare. To be (a little bit, at least) accountable. I will try to be a little bit more regular over the next four months (I hear prunes help) about recording my training here (oh…I see). I need to see progress, or I won’t actually run it.

I have four months. The marathon is mid-April. The day after my birthday. Huddersfield. It’s hilly. I need to run hills.

So I’ve entered a hilly race in March ’15.

That one is a twenty-miler. It should be the perfect prep run. And tough enough to make me take it seriously enough in its own right. Hopefully stop Mr from saying to myself, “ahh…It’s ok..That marathon is still a long way off…you can still get loads of training in before then…go on…eat that entire packet of biscuits….they’re nice!“.

So for the last few weeks, I’ve been getting out a bit more regularly, visiting my local hill (a now abandoned ex dry ski slope) and doing increasing numbers of reps there.
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I also have been trying to lose some weight and although I don’t want to turn this into a weight-loss blog, it is a part of this, because it stands to reason that dragging my current, 92kg frame around 26.2 miles of Yorkshire hills is going to be a lot harder than dragging say, 80kg around the same distance.
I’m not a sports scientist, but I’d say that sounds pretty good as a hypothesis to me.

I’ve been parkrunning a little more regularly again recently, managing an equal-to-the second-why-didn’t-I-just-push-a-little-harder-? PB on a local (Forest Rec) slightly hilly (but nothing like as hilly as Parke) parkrun. I get overtaken on hills – a lot. I catch up on the flat, then lose folks on the hills again. I need to run hills.

Oh and the other, maybe slightly less than perfect (8 days before the planned marathon) prep run could be that a few days ago my brother, who has his 40th birthday a week before my (not 40th) birthday, has asked me to celebrate with him by joining him on a ‘wolf run‘. One of these run-through-mud and climb-over-big-walls sort of events.

Ankle-twisting-tastic mate!

I may not seem like much.

I am to some people…
…but not to others.

Some people respect me…
…others do not.

I may be small, but I can be tough too, and if you underestimate me, I might just take you down.

If you think you can take me on after you have spent the previous day running round at your daughter’s fourth birthday party eating crisps, excessive amounts of barbequed meat, breadsticks covered in various unidentifiable dips (because you threw away the lid that told you what they were), and those small ring-shaped pink biscuits with that sugary icing, then you underestimate me.

If you were to stay up ’til gone midnight, because that was he only time your house was quiet, then drink the remaining wine in the house to wash down the two ice creams you have just consumed, then again I say you underestimate me.

If you don’t bother preparing to face me until the morning in question and then scrabble around trying to find a pair of shorts that still fit around your increasingly padded midriff, and try to remember where you put the safety pins, then you disrespect me.

If you think you can leave it to the last minute to then cycle to meet me before we do battle, and wear trail shoes to try and run me down on road, then to be quite honest, you are really entering the realms of arrogance!

How dare you tell people you will break me in two hours! I’ll have you for that! I’ll let you get annoyingly close, but let’s say 2:05:00 shall we?

I may only be a half marathon, but I can still cause you some pain!

* * * * * * * *

Last Sunday I ran the Robin Hood Half Marathon. I ran the full last year but due to tendonitis in my foot at that time I hadn’t been able to train properly for 8 weeks prior. I referred to it as an extreme taper, but it really wasn’t good.

Extreme Tapir

Extreme Tapir

Another extreme tapir

Another extreme tapir

I completed it then but it was painful and I promised myself I would never again run a marathon unless I felt completely prepared.

Unfortunately, I did not extend the same wisdom to last weekend’s half. I can honestly say that I found the last two miles as bad as the last two of the previous year’s full marathon. And I wasn’t expecting that. At all.

Being an internationally famous running ambassador* has got to have its perks, and recently, after making a nuisance of myself and selling my soul to the marketing world a polite email request to the lovely people at gunghoco.com I was sent a fantastic pair of New Balance ‘Leadville 1210‘ trail shoes to review.

*when I was 12 I ran in a fun run during a French exchange trip to… well France… Obviously.

Now as much as I do not wish to shoot myself in the now beautifully adorned foot, I am intrigued by the practice of giving shoes away to lowly bloggers such as myself for review, especially since the last time it happened to me, my review could be summed up by “oooo look – they’re really, really blue!” …well…. They were!
(By the way, this new pair are really, really green!)

I am especially puzzled since a quick Internet search produces some really decent results with proper in-depth reviews from people who actually sound like they know what they are on about. So where is the sense in sending me a pair?

Maybe I appeal to a special, elite, discerning kind of runner…yes…that’s probably it :-/

I can only assume that these marketing people are very, very clever and know what they are doing (or perhaps had a load of size 11s from old stock that needed shifting, I don’t know) so rather than try to pretend that I’m a technological running boffin who has the authority to advise his vast readership on the merits and pitfalls of this shoe, I shall just tell you what I think in my usual ‘random thoughts and running shorts‘ kind of way.

Here goes…

The Leadville 1210 trail shoes are very green (at least, the green-colour ones I was sent are) and they are designed for running on trails.

(I think it’s all going well so far)

They are apparently quite lightweight at under 0.3kg but I’m not sure how accurate that is because when I weighed them, they showed up as being…ahem…over 93kg…

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Considering they were apparently designed based on the Leadville 100 ultra-distance event, I have confidence that these lighter-than-I’m-used-to trainers will be able to support my ample frame over the rather more moderate distances I aim at these days.

I am all too aware that if I wear a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses I do not suddenly become a qualified pilot.
If I buy a wetsuit I do not instantly become a great open-water swimmer.
If I go on X-factor, I do not instantly become an attention seeking media whore who has sold their soul to Simon Cowell

Well you get the idea. Basically – I know that a pair of new shoes won’t turn me into an amazing runner.

But for the 10 miles I did in them on their first outing (the day after they arrived), I was certainly a very happy runner :-)

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Here’s my favourite ‘you-have-to-earn-it-to-sit-on-it’ bench which has featured before on this blog…
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There’s a heron in this one…just for some added interest…
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So, as you can see, not the most challenging of trail runs. Pretty flat. Not at all muddy.
But you know what? – these shoes still felt great. Sometimes trail shoes are so rugged that running on the harder, flatter surfaces actually becomes uncomfortable. Not so here.

Also, they have this little connecting bit of material between the tongue and the lace-hole area (what New Balance call ‘Debris Free’ construction) preventing bits of crud from entering the shoe at the front. Good idea. Doesn’t stop little stones getting in through the heel area unfortunately, but aside from wearing a dog’s flea collar around your ankles as you run I’m not sure what to do about that.

Warning: technical review bit coming up…

I really like the grips.
They jut out in one direction on the forefoot to get good push-off, and in the opposite direction on the heel, preventing (I anticipate) some downhill bum-sliding. Cool.

Spaced far enough apart to easily get rid of any mud post-run, I also don’t anticipate having to stand outside my front door banging the soles of my shoes together, announcing loudly that no guns have actually been fired in the area. Admit it – we’ve all done it (embarrassingly banged shoes together loudly….not fired guns).
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That last photo was taken three runs into their lifetime – still looking good :-)

Technical review bit finished.

I jokingly suggested to Lizzie @ gunghoco.com that if the shoes made me half as speedy as her very efficient email responses, then I’d be laughing…

…well…I’m laughing.
I ran the nearby parkrun on Saturday wearing these shoes and got a five second PB!

Strictly speaking actually, my eight year old son had that time recorded as his own (even though he didn’t run at all) due to the fact that I have laminated a double-sided parkrun barcode so that I always have both of ours to hand. This works well until you are so shattered that you hand it in the wrong way up on a Saturday morning!

Poor little fella would have had to wait 7 years or so to break ‘his’ PB if it wasn’t for the lovely parkrun people adjusting this for us.

So… There we have it, a very non-boffin like shoe review from NotMuchOfaRunner…

Comfy.
Strong.
Rugged.
Well designed.
Supportive.
Has just the right amount of cushioning.
Bright.

Just like the Leadville 1210 in fact.

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Holidays can be so good.

I’ve had a holiday from running for a while. My left ankle has been telling me I’m getting old, my plantar fasciitis has returned with a vengeance, I’ve been feeling more mentally and physically exhausted generally just a bit ‘bleuggh’.

This last week, though I have spent in Devon with my lovely family. Staying in the family home I lived in when I was little, eating lovely food with my Mum and Dad looking after me like when I was little (e.g. home cooked apple crumble and a HUGE pavlova) , going to the beaches I used to go to when I was little, and drinking beer like I used to when I was… well… a bit bigger.

We spent the day swimming in sea on Wednesday, which was wonderful.

We had even optimistically brought the bikes (mine and the boy’s) on the recently purchased bike roof carrier thing, and we had a little ride out on Thursday.

Friday was my lovely wife’s birthday (I don’t have two… I didn’t use the word ‘lovely’ as a differential term… Just the one wife AND she is lovely – just to be clear) so we went for a BIG family geocaching walk which basically involved me dropping them off near Powderham, me driving to Kenton and leaving the car there then running to catch up with them along the coastal path to Starcross. An extra loop to get a few more caches, then continuing ask along the estuary ‘coast’ to Dawlish before starting back up northwards but realising if we wanted to have a Birthday BBQ I had to get a wriggle on run ahead to get the car. That was a mission! Lots of fields and big, BIG hills.
Take glance at the map for a general overview …

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and this one for a bit of a close up including my cross-country route back to the car…

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…and this one for the geocaches we passed along the way (smiley face = found… we haven’t logged them all yet)
image

Despite this huge walk/run (the children aged 8 & 3 did brilliantly, by the way) I got up early enough to parkrun on Saturday.

It was Parke parkrun in Bovey Tracey. Here is my course report:

In case you didn’t know…It has a hill. A big one. Early on. Which has the unexpected bonus that once you’ve managed, eventually, to breathe normally again, you’re pretty much at the end of the run. Cool. The end.

Hello, you have reached the blog site of NotMuchOfaRunner…

I’m sorry I can’t blog right now, I’m out doing stuff…

(…I might even be running).

 

If you would like to leave a message then please do so after the beep and I will get back to you when I’m supposed to be tidying the house.

 

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‘The Beep’

My operation

Posted: June 22, 2014 in Juneathon, not running
Tags:

Right team,

Let us begin…

Anaesthetic provided. Muscle relaxant has taken effect. Heart rate remains stable. He’s out cold…

Scalpel!… Thanks.
Making first incision now…

Just cutting my way through the first layer of fat…

… Still cutting my way through the first layer of fat…

…still going… You guys go and make a cup of tea if you like…

…oh… Here we go…

…we’re through to the layer of excuses now, we need to cut these away… Forceps! Clamps! Dish thing!

Ok. They’re gone. But they can grow back. We’ll have to keep an eye on that.

Getting to the deep level now. Begin diagnostics…

…scanning complete.
Let’s see the results.

Previous sense of humour bypass, I see…

What else…

…general malaise…

Aha! That’s it!

I don’t know when it started happening but he has a necrotic mojo.

I’ve never seen this before in the month of June. Highly rare!

I’m sorry. I’m afraid there’s nothing we can do.

…Well, there probably is…but I can’t be bothered to think through the options…it’s contagious, you see.

Close him up. Bring him round.
Our work is done here.

Running.

Posted: June 19, 2014 in Juneathon, running
Tags: , ,

I’ve actually done some running…
Yesterday, I left it as late as I dared to collect my daughter from nursery. In the end I managed the 1.3 miles in exactly ten minutes. Considering it’s a good chunk of uphill, I’m happy with that.

Today. After school drop off, I left the car, ran home, jumped on bike, cycled for a coupe of hours (getting a few new geocaches on the way, including a FTF – ‘first to find’). A lovely canal path route…

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The rest of the day has been beautifully busy, spent in one of my favourite ways – playing games and running around with small people…

…and watching England lose the football (not so favourite).

I’ve surprised myself though… I have a tenancy towards cynicism…but I’m looking forward to the mathematical probabilities playing out and setting up a corker of a match against Costa Rica next week.

Failing that….Wimbledon starts in a few days!  :-)

…-sound treatment on my foot.

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One of the advantages of working with physios. Free advice on tap and a demonstration of the ultrasound machine so I can self-administer some anti-plantarfasciitis treatment in my lunch break.
I may have mentioned the fact that I have had phantasmagoria WHAT?! …that is apparently the predictive text equivalent of plantarfasciitis…anyway…that!.. I’ve had that for over a year now. It’s not got any worse and doesn’t prevent me doing anything….but it is annoying and sometimes painful. I figured some ultrasound is at least worth a go.

Actual exercise today was just press ups to the point of collapse…

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Oh… and in case you were wondering…

phan·tas·ma·go·ri·a   (fn-tzm-gôr-, -gr-)also phan·tas·ma·go·ry (fn-tzm-gôr, -gr)n. pl. phan·tas·ma·go·ri·as also phan·tas·ma·go·ries

1.a. A fantastic sequence of haphazardly associative imagery, as seen in dreams or fever.
b. A constantly changing scene composed of numerous elements.

2. Fantastic imagery as represented in art.

Blogging Seems To Be The Hardest Part

What have I got to do to write a good blog?
What have I got to do to get it right?
What do I do after a good jog?
And I just stare at a screen with nought to write

What do I do to be inspiring
What have I got to do show my heart
What do I say when I’m just tiring
And blogging seems to be the hardest part

It’s sad, so sad
It’s so sad when juneathonning
And it seems it’s tearing me apart
It’s sad, so sad
Why can’t it just be over
Oh it seems to me
That blogging seems to be the hardest part.

What do I do to make the words flow
What have I got to do / where do I start?
What do I do – my brain’s on go slow?
What have I got to do?
What have I got to do?
When blogging seems to be the hardest part.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It’s day 16 of Juneathon.
It gets hard now.
If you’re going to get through all 30 days of exercising and blogging, there will be some days, where the blogging seems ‘for the sake of it’, and nobody likes that, so I nearly bowed out today altogether.
I had done my exercise – I played tennis (again) today. I have nothing more to add to that, so I hope the above re-worded Elton John song makes up for it.