Archive for the ‘Janathon’ Category

It’s been a while. I’ve been too busy eating cashew nuts, mince pies and chocolates… often at the same time.

So here’s a little catch up on various goings on…

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I received an email from the lovely people at New Balance, informing me that they had some new kit and had a few items for some lucky running folk to test.

This included the fantastic looking (though pricey!) winter running jacket (the Beacon) pictured below.

   
 
Unfortunately I was not one of the lucky runners to get to try this out for myself as I was too slow. They didn’t check up on my 5k PB or anything (I don’t think), I just mean that by the time I’d responded to the mailing they had all been snapped up.

I don’t know if the email responder was just feeling very Christmassy or what, but basically said (and I paraphrase here…), “Sorry we don’t have any jackets left for you to try. Here’s some trainers instead. Which would you like?”.

A couple of days later, these arrived for me. 

 
A pair of 1080 v5 running shoes. 

Well thank you very much 🙂 and Happy Christmas, New Balance PR people.

These retail at £110 on the New Balance website but I dare say they might be cheaper elsewhere (I hope that sentence hasn’t resulted in me being removed from their virtual Christmas card list).

I then noticed this post on Twitter from Laura at lazygirlrunning… 

 
She then asked… (and I responded)

 
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And if I’m to take her word for it… 
 

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So… How could I compete with that?!

Well… Like this… 
 

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…and this…

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A few days later, I decided to take them for a proper test run.

Now it just so happens that some days I start work late and finish early – to let me still do the school runs,  but the kids had finished school and my hard-working wife was also off work so I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to do a run commute to work.

It was a great idea. I allowed plenty of time, I took a lightweight bag and I hit the road. 12.7 miles later (this is why I don’t regularly run commute) I arrived at work in fine form and was set for the day.

The shoes were super comfy, cool, and roomy. I have quite wide feet and these come in a wide fitting so there wasn’t a hint of blistering despite this being their first proper run out (I’d worn them around the house for a few days just to look swanky, of course), and naturally they do look pretty swanky.

So running to work, all be it a fairly long way, was a great idea…

…running home on the other hand…

…well…

…I made it…

…but it was certainly no negative split!

Now, on the downside, I’ve found the 1080 v5 is great in the dry, including track (canal path) running but they feel  quite slippy on wet tarmac, I found.

Also, in scientific tests, they’re rubbish at cooking…

  
Despite this, they would be my shoe of choice at home currently for a long run as they are wonderfully cushioned and feel like they could really take some big mileage without problem.

They don’t, in themselves make me any stronger or fitter unfortunately, so that big mileage… well that’s up to me.

I’ve signed up for a twenty-miler and an open-water triathlon in 2016. I might also do the Wolf-Run that never quite materialised for my brother’s 40th birthday. Apart from that, there’s plenty of parkruns to be had. My 5k time was reducing nicely, in line with some necessary weight-loss. I ran a hard parkrun yesterday though and was about 90 seconds slower than my PB. Christmas nibbles are to blame for that…or more precisely…me eating lots of them.
I’ve decided against officially ‘doing Janathon‘ this year. You know, that ‘exercise every day in January, blog every day in January’ thing. I have been so useless at regular blogging, that I’d probably only manage one post a week at most. I might try for that, anyway. Good luck to you if you’re doing Janathon proper this year.

Best wishes for 2016.
Run well…even if you don’t run.

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Why do I run?

How many blog posts try to answer this question?

I’m not sure I know the answer…to either of the above. Partly because the answer changes day to day, month to month, year to year.

I started initially so that a female friend at university didn’t have to run alone at night when we were on placement in a new place. But I found myself still going for runs when she said she couldn’t make it.
Stress relief. I think that is still the main reason for me.

One of the best explanations from someone else that I have seen, is one with which you may already be familiar if you are within the running world.
It’s by ‘the oatmeal’ and can be found here.

Gimmicks can help get me out running too. I remember being given an iPod and a Nike+ foot pod thing many years ago now. Then using the Nike+ app with its sort of internal pedometer (my iPod didn’t have gps).
When I eventually got a smart phone, that opened up a new means of run recording, via gps tracked runs. I used apps like endomondo, runkeeper and more recently Strava.  Seeing the miles clock up and seeing speed and distance improvements certainly helped, along with the various other stats.
Also parkrun – the run not a race  (but where you push yourself hard over that final straight so that person you’ve been ‘leapfrogging’ with over the past 4.8km doesn’t overtake again over the final 200m) adds a new element to running motivation for some. Some people don’t miss a week.

This Juneathon and Janathon malarkey… Exercise everyday, blog everyday for a month… Or doing a ‘runstreak’… Motivating? Definitely at times. But if you miss a day, what happens to that motivation?

Jantastic – the initiative from the marathon talk folk was really useful for helping me to get out and running over the first three months of this year in preparation for a marathon in April.

Would I have got out and run without it? Probably. But I think it helped.

Or did it?
Do any of these things?

Or do they do the opposite?

Would I still do Juneathon if nobody read/liked/commented?

Does the motivation come from within (intrinsic), or externally (extrinsic) in the form of whatever ‘reward’ we perceive we get?

Moreover, does the introduction of extrinsic rewards lead to an overall decrease in intrinsic motivation once the external rewards are removed?

I remember the above hypothesis was a generally accepted one in sports psychology around the time that I did my GCSE in physical education …errr…a few years ago.
There was some experiment where people were observed regarding the length of time spent playing with a puzzle. They were then paid a small amount for solving puzzles the next day, and then the day after that the pay was removed and the puzzle playing dramatically decreased. (If I was still at university, I’d have to reference that, but because I’m not, and I’m feeling lazy, I’m not going to. Such a rebel!)

This hypothesis – that intrinsic motivation was decreased by the introduction and subsequent removal of extrinsic rewards – was perhaps a rather sweeping statement to make anyway as more recent studies seem to suggest things are a little more complex and that in some circumstances extrinsic rewards can actually enhance intrinsic motivation. (If you are interested to read more, there’s a bit of a summary at www.appliedsportpsych.org )

This is good news, I think.
I don’t want to be decreasing my desire to be active by using the various gadgets/apps/rewards-websites that I do. But… and unfortunately, I have to admit, I can think of times when this has happened in the past… I don’t want to not get out of the house because I can’t find my phone/ipod, or stop a run because my app has crashed and ‘it won’t count’.

So maybe it’s good to get out every now and again without an app, without an iPod, without even a goal or a session plan in mind. Just go. If you don’t think you would, or could, then maybe your intrinsic motivation has been decreased?

Now… not to undermine all of that… but intended as an extra, an add-on, a ‘sign-up and forget about it’ sort of thing, I have joined up with two rewards sites. One (Bounts) has been going for a while and the other (Running Heroes) only started up in the UK in this past month.
Both sites award points for the exercise you record via any number of apps and you can then exchange these points for tangible rewards such as discount vouchers, gift cards, etc.
It would be a real shame if it ever got to the point where anyone just ran for the purpose of earning these points, but personally, I figure, “if I’m running anyway…why not?”. I am currently at a point with Bounts where I’m just a few runs away from being able to get a £10 supermarket gift card… effectively for runs I’d have done anyway.

If you haven’t already signed up to Bounts and you are thinking about it, then for a limited time we can both get a load of extra points if you sign up through this link or quote avery1132 when you sign up.

I was also contacted by Running Heroes recently and in addition to bonus points if you sign up through this link, they also sent me an instant 100 point bonus code ‘run67run‘ which they said I could share with my readers.

My personal idea with these sites is, having signed up, just to forget about them for a while. They sync up automatically with the apps I use and the points build up over time for what I do anyway. If someone wants to send me vouchers for doing that – great.

Yesterday, I played tennis. I didn’t get any (website-related) points for that. I still enjoyed it. Intrinsic motivation still intact there. Today it’s back to running, though…and I’ll probably get a few points for it… But that’s not the reason I’m going.

If you use these sites, I’d be interested to know what you think of them too. Let me know.

Before I start, perhaps a disclaimer is in order.
In the process of explaining what SUSTYM is all about, I have included photos of myself.
Photos that some readers may find offensive due to the fact they contain uncensored nipples.
You have been warned.

Based on the original ancient Japanese method of Susatybi (Soo-sa-tie-bee), the Sustym (Suss-tim) is the inevitable new westernised mutation of the process that has dramatically changed my life following its development from that small Japanese coastal village of Poe-Sing many years ago.

I shall first show you the dramatic results produced over a short period in January 2015 alone…

image

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It is my personal opinion that SUSTYM and SUSATYBI are used far more widely in sports/fitness circles than is currently admitted. I can only guess this is because some people are almost embarrassed by its sheer effectiveness.

It uses processes highly recommended by modern physiotherapists but also contains the wisdom of our elders, fusing them in an easy to apply format that produces the instant results that makes it such a popular method in today’s media culture.

It is applied most effectively (although as mentioned, sometimes tacitly) by nearly all fitness models, but is a method that can also be employed effectively by Joe Public, as can be seen from my photos above.

The easy to follow steps for the original SUSATYBI are as follows:

Stand
Up
Straight
And
Tuck
Your
Belly
In

And more recently for SUSTYM:

Stand
Up
Straight
Tense
Your
Muscles

In case it wasn’t already obvious, the above photos were taken over an elapsed period of approximately 2 minutes just this morning.

Unfortunately, these methods didn’t help me to a parkrun PB, but I blame this on the fact that I arrived at my parkrun venue only to find out it had (quite rightly) been cancelled due to ice so I sped drove safely within the speed limit to the next closest one (ten minutes away) relying on the fact that lots of people were due to receive T-shirts this week. They rarely start bang on 9 o’clock anyway.

I parked up and then had to run half a mile to the start, just in time to join everyone on the first corner of what was a very muddy, occasionally icy, but certainly totally slippy course.

It wasn’t a PB.

I’m sorry for leading you all on, yesterday 😦
But I really was planning on making it so.

Janathon (day 31) and therefore JANATHON – involving no PBs (but at least a parkrun when one might not have happened) and a great SUSTYM for slimming down – DONE!

Tomorrow…

Posted: January 30, 2015 in Janathon, not running, running
Tags: , , ,

There is nothing to read here today. Tune in again tomorrow (Saturday).

I have only 9 miles more to round my January run total up to 100 miles but I have put that to one side in favour of totally kicking some parkrun bottom tomorrow morning.

By this, I mean a long awaited PB.

It is happening.

Tomorrow.

There. I’ve said it. I’m committed.

And tomorrow I shall tell you how I did it… Because obviously I am actually going to do it. Ground breaking new fitness regime to be revealed!

Janathon (day 30) – involving nothing apart from telling you that tomorrow I’m hopefully definitely going to be doing something – done.

When I did the Nottingham half marathon in September, I think it was (probably wrong….too lazy to check), there’s this bit at the end that goes along the river Trent, then doubles back on itself before entering the finishing area with all the spectators and stands. What is, I believe rather grandly referred to these days as ‘the race village’.
Anyway, feeling pretty rubbish doing the river Trent doubling-back bit (to cut a long story short, I had somewhat overestimated my own base fitness level / underestimated the event -click to read the report), I decided to conserve some energy with a bit of a walk before running strong into the ‘race village’.

I am at a similar point with my Janathon blogging. I am hoping for a strong finish (though I don’t know yet what my blogging-sprint-finish is like).

Today, I played tennis for an hour and a half, ran for 4 miles, then this evening ran to the pool, swam for half an hour and ran home.
91 miles covered in January so far but not sure where I’ll fit a run in tomorrow so 100 miles is far (well 9 miles away) from a done deal.

Janathon (day 29) – involving tennis, running, a bit more running, some swimming, and a last bit of more running – done.

Every cloud

Posted: January 28, 2015 in Janathon, Jantastic, Marathon, running
Tags: , , ,

Yesterday, I worked out…

Stop! Hang on…

No.

No I didn’t. That is the problem.
I shall rephrase…

I calculated that if I ran 5 miles a day for the rest of January, I could still make it into the Janathon 100 club, even if my blogging has been a little erratic over this final week.

Unfortunately, shortly after calculating the ‘5 miles a day’ thing, it didn’t take a huge intellectual leap from a mathematical genius such as myself to work out conclude that I could just go to bed and do 10 miles the next day. So that’s what I did…

…well…    …a bit…

The going to bed bit.

Because the next day (today – Wednesday) I had agreed to meet a tennis club member for a set or two at the club after today’s school run.
We warmed up and got two games in before we got massively hailed on…
(…and cue the obligatory photo that never fully conveys how hard and wet and cold it actually was…)

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The weather looked set in, so we called it a day there, postponed it to tomorrow (when it’ll probably be under a few inches of snow) and I went for that (somewhat wetter than anticipated) run after all. Every cloud has a silver lining and all that.

Not quite enough time for the 10-miler, but I got 9 in at least before nursery pick-up time.

I didn’t enjoy it.

I was tired, I was aching, I wanted to be playing tennis really.

I wondered why I had bothered entering another stupid marathon if I didn’t enjoy running anyway.

And then I thought…”Brilliant! This is close to how I feel towards the end of a really long run, but without the hassle, the pain, the time issues of having actually just run 18 miles or so”. So I convinced myself it was mental training. I needed to keep going, even though I didn’t feel like it, because that’s exactly what I’ll have to do in a few months time, anyway.

Every cloud and all that.

It certainly felt like every cloud that could have passed overhead today, did.

Recovery run

Posted: January 26, 2015 in Janathon, running
Tags: ,

Just a short one…

…what exactly, is supposed to recover during a recovery run?

…as cunning as a cunning fox with a degree in cunning from Cunning University.

Well it isn’t actually all that cunning, but if I just said I have a very average plan it wouldn’t sound as good.
My plan is actually very simple: To get a reasonable sleep tonight (Saturday night), set out all my running stuff to minimise the morning faffage*, and do a long run on Sunday morning thus also minimising the impact my marathon training has on my lovely family.

*’faffage’ – absolutely a word.

[Edit – that was as far as I got with writing yesterday (Saturday) because, in the interest of fulfilling the plan, I went to bed. The following was written on Sunday 25th Jan…]

On Saturday, I played a tennis match. Mixed. 36 tennis games in total against 3 different pairs, where every game counts. We ended up winning 19 games to 17. Phew! Effectively one game in it. The rest of our team did similarly so an overall win for our club. It was at another David Lloyd club so I had fully intended to once again steal a session at the gym while I was there, but time was pushing on and it would have been rather selfish of me to have stayed out much longer :-/
I also did a bit of a core workout session later that evening using the ‘runtastic six-pack’ app (which doesn’t work, by the way – I still don’t have a six-pack).

As for my run this morning… I did indeed wake up. I did indeed get up. I even managed to get the dishwasher and a load of washing on the go before I left the house at 06:30, returning home 2.5 hours and 16 miles later.

Here’s a clip (if it works) from the last few miles – it’s only very short…and not very interesting really…I’m just experimenting… 😉

Janathon (days 24 & 25) – incorporating tennis, core stuff, and full on proper actual running and that – Done!

Exercising my excuses

Posted: January 23, 2015 in Janathon, not running
Tags: ,

Given that Janathon is supposed to be ‘a festival of activity and excuses‘, I feel that I have so far tipped the scales towards the ‘activity’ side and have somewhat neglected to provide many excuses.
For that, I apologise and now aim to correct that oversight.

Yesterday, I played football, basketball, and hide & seek with the kids after school. I just couldn’t be bothered to blog about it and was asleep at 21:30 which is super-early for me.

Today, I’m just about bothered enough to blog, but not to do anything else.
I am however exercising my excuses. I haven’t let them out much recently and they could do with stretching their legs.

Janathon (days 22 + 23) – involving exercising but not blogging, and blogging but not exercising (which in my book, evens it all out) – Done.

Reverting to type [+edit]

Posted: January 22, 2015 in Janathon, Marathon, running
Tags: ,

For a change, I thought today I’d add no pictures, make no jokes, put the sarcasm on hold….and just type.

I went for my run this morning.  I had intended for it to be a long one, as I knew I was due to give blood this afternoon and although I’m usually fine afterwards, I didn’t know how I’d be feeling this evening or tomorrow.  In the end, I wimped out a bit and just did a five-miler (although, against medical advice after I took my son to Cubs, I ran home, running back again later to pick him up  –  so add another 2 miles to that for my day’s total).

I actually just wrote a really long post… I needed to write it…but it made no sense… so I deleted it.

It has served its purpose.

[Edit … the following was written at 09:30 the following morning… when a bit more awake…]

I have concluded that last night I was feeling a bit drained. Literally.

I had given blood at 2pm and probably shouldn’t have gone for a little run in the evening.

I was feeling lethargic in body and in mind.

I didn’t save what I wrote last night, but it included thoughts about why I run, and the more I thought about it, the less I wanted to do it, and it all got a bit negative.  But because I know that I do enjoy it really, it was clear that this very acute slump was a little out of character and therefore – nonsense.

I had written stuff about how running as an activity is quite different from how I am as a person.  How as a child, I would watch, learn and understand something before I’d do it.  Not particularly one to jump in and learn from my mess-ups.  I’d like to do things that I could feel accomplished in, that I could say (at least to myself) “I am good at that”.  Running was not (and still –  is not) one of those things. 

So, this morning, thinking a little more clearly, I have concluded maybe that is precisely why I do (normally) quite like it.  Because I don’t put that pressure on myself to be brilliant at it. I (normally) just go out and do it.

But not right now.

Janathon (day 21) – involving running (and typing) when I shouldn’t – Done