Archive for the ‘Jantastic’ Category

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.

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I wasn’t intending to post again before the weekend but on Thursday, I found myself worrying that I hadn’t done a proper long run for a while (giving the ankle a bit of a rest) and was concerned that I had lost some fitness ahead of this weekend’s Ashby20 road race.

So with approximately two and a half hours to dedicate to a run after I had taken the children to school/nursery, I headed off on an out-and-back run along the canal path.  I figured if I kept the pace up, I could easily manage a half-marathon distance with time to sort myself out before needing to collect my youngest from nursery again.

I felt like I was flying. 

At about 6 miles or so, I passed a big open field and felt a sudden urge to do some StravaArt. If you are reading this and have no idea what I’m on about, you are probably my parents… So predominantly for their benefit… It is where you use the GPS tracking of your run/cycle to ‘draw’ an image on a map.  With the bird’s eye view of your whole route effectively providing you with your image.

By far the best examples of which I’ve seen can be seen >>>here<<< , but I’ve included an example below in case you haven’t got the time or inclination to click…



Well, don’t expect anything like that from me.

I had been listening to Marathon Talk during my run, (a running podcast with news, stories, funnies, interviews, etc from the running world – worth a listen if you don’t already) and the presenters, Martin Yelling and Tom Williams had referenced this activity in one of their conversations, deciding that they would, before next week, create some Strava Art each in a competition with each other to see who could produce the best piece.

So there I am feeling like I’m flying through my run, and reckoning I’m well below 2 hour half-marathon pace when I decide to go into this field and make the various dog-walkers there think I had gone barmy by running up and down, backwards, in circles, etc – like I had repeatedly remembered that I had left the iron on at home and was indecisive as to whether or not I should return to turn it off.

Here’s what I did…
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Ok… To be fair, that’s a bit far away…
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Can you see it yet? A bit closer perhaps…
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And finally… properly zoomed in and flipped…
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Ok…Perhaps that was too close…revealing my poor form, but in my defence, apart from the lower, straight-ish line, which was the footpath running along the edge, the field itself had no lines or markings at all, and the dodgy-looking initial ‘M’ aside, I’m pretty pleased how that came out.

What’s more, despite this little folly (which I subsequently shared with Martin and Tom themselves) I still made it back to nursery just in time to collect my little girl.
Better than ‘just in time’, in fact…
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PBs (Personal Records) galore.
Thank you very much!

I didn’t need to worry about losing fitness at all…

…Now I’m worried that I’ve peaked to soon though, of course!

Less than twelve weeks to go until Huddersfield Hilly* Marathon. So I thought I would at least attempt a weekly round up of training/excuses here.

*It’s not officially called ‘Huddersfield Hilly Marathon’, I just thought I’d mention its hilliness (obviously the correct spelling – based on silly/silliness) in case I have previously failed to mention its hilly/challenging nature.

So…. crunch time! I’ve got to keep serious now…you know me…always serious…
Friday afternoon is also usually crunch time for me as it is when I am at my weakest, motivationally speaking. I need to see if I can avoid the temptation to sustain the last few hours of the week at work by munching at the various boxes of biscuits and chocs that do the rounds. Folks at work know I’m ‘in training’ so they don’t offer me stuff now…which is good….

…but away from their eyes I can be a secret eater. I’m not proud of it. I know I shouldn’t do it. But staying late to finish work an hour after everyone has gone, and knowing that I wasn’t gong to be eating until late this evening due to a tennis awards evening, the box of chocs were all mine.. 😦

Cross with myself for my secret eating, when I returned home from the tennis awards where, incidentally I ate reasonably well (apart from repeated trips to the crisp bowl) I then ate another big packet of crisps very unsecretively. CRUNCH TIME!
Take that secret eating! Ha. That showed you!

* * * * * *

Obviously this was all just a cunning plan to shame me into running extra hard to get that parkrun PB that I publicly proclaimed I would get last week…

I woke this morning (Saturday) and foolishly stood on the scales to assess the damage…
I was pleasantly surprised to see that I’d actually lost weight. Go figure. How does that work?
I was spurred on by the knowledge that if I run at the same effort as normal, my reduced weight should mean I’m faster, right?

That’s just what I did, and the results are demonstrated by the following graphic…

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…by nearly thirty seconds too!

To complete a successful jantastic week, I just need to take it easy with a steady 15 mile run before breakfast tomorrow, now :-/

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.

Biathlon

Posted: January 19, 2015 in Janathon, Jantastic, running
Tags: , , ,

I always get mixed up with ‘biathlon’ and ‘duathlon’.
I think a duathlon is just any two sports but is often ‘run/bike/run’. And I think a biathlon is usually skiing and shooting.

I went for a 7k run at about 22:15 this evening.
It was cold and a slippy – Which is pretty much the dictionary definition of skiing…

…and then I shot ducks.

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That’s a biathlon right there.

Janathon (day 19) – involving running, gunning and funning – Done.

Today, for no particular reason (other than, of course -Janathon, Jantastic and the fact I’m supposed to be doing a marathon in April), I decided to go for a little run.
So I ran to the end of the road.
And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town.
And when I got there, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well turn around.
I’m pretty tired after my speed training.
I think I’ll go home now.

Janathon (day 14) – involving no particular reasons – Done

You know how some people, having gone for a run (or having gone to the gym to ‘do some weights’ but actually just spend the majority of time chatting), then say to themselves,
“Great! I can now eat a load of rubbish – I deserve it”
Well it worked the other way round for me this evening.
I had polished off the last couple of mince pies (of that box…only one box left now) and whilst I very much enjoyed them, it cemented my plans to go for a run this evening, even though I didn’t actually leave the house til gone 10pm.

It was cold and wet this evening and there would have been very little chance of me going for a run normally* had it not been for:
1) Janathon
2) Jantastic
3) A free, 30-day Strava premium upgrade
4) A new iPod (on which to play classic ‘Soul II Soul’ album ‘Keep on Movin’)

*That is not to say that I ran it abnormally. I think my run was of the fairly normal variety.

I managed to get a Strava segment PB and really felt that my 40 minute workout really had purpose and direction. I’m getting there. I feel like I’m getting better.

At 91.6 kg and a height of 170cm I’m still officially obese though, with a BMI of 31.6 (we have some new scales, by the way).
I normally don’t pay much attention to BMI as it doesn’t take muscle:body fat ratio into account…
…unfortunately, these scales also tell me my body fat percentage is 30.5 (above 24% is ‘high’ for men of my age).
Oh well.

I genuinely feel well motivated at the moment though and I feel that positive change is on the way…

…as soon as I finish off that other box of mince pies 😉

Janathon (day 13) – involving Strava segment PBs, motivation and mince pies – Done.

I have just landed myself with that problem of giving this post a title that appears interesting but no doubt will fail to deliver.
Save yourself now and get a cup of tea and a biscuit instead.

Having been feeling less than 100% for the whole of this year so far, I was breathing a little better this morning, so after the school run (I’m not counting that as exercise), I went for an actual run.
I left the car near the kids’ school and took a slightly longer route home so that I could run along the local bypass (incorporating a Strava segment [link with definition included for the benefit of the uninitiated]).
It turns out, this route home from the school is exactly 5km…that’s handy!

The fact that it includes a Strava segment half way through helps keep me focused and ups my tempo at the mid-point of my run.
Again, mainly for the benefit of my mum (who no doubt didn’t click on the earlier link), this segment is basically just a point to point section that is timed automatically by my GPS-based running app.
Although I feel slow and tired after those two kilometres, I try to imagine that I’m in the later stages of a much longer run and treat it as mental training to keep going despite the fatigue.

During the run along the bypass there are so many lampposts placed on the white line dividing the pedestrian path from the cycleway that it’s easy to become complacent about their presence… well, either that or I thought I was invincible…because I..errr…basically sort of ran into one, giving it a relatively reasonable strength punch with my swinging right fist.

Ouch!

Please tell me I’m not the only person to have done that.

I fairly regularly crash into the edges of walls with my shoulder when turning corners…so maybe there is something wrong with me :-/

Anyway, with the car now left at the school/nursery I clearly had to run back again at pick-up time. I repeated my route (obviously in reverse)… So that’s 10k in total for me today 🙂 I’m definitely seeing this cold out at last.

I also played football in the park with the kids after school, so today I am well nailing this Janathon thing.
I’ve also now done three of my four planned runs for my marathon talk jantastic challenge too.

Janathon (day 7) – incorporating running, punching lampposts, and football… Done.

I was apparently janathon participant number 100 and my target mileage for January was also 100. And now it is done!

That’s the most I’ve ever run in a month.
My blogging has been a bit rubbish, so I cannot say I have truly ‘janathoned’ but I have achieved my own little goal and so I’m happy and for once at the end of January, I actually feel generally fitter (but not lighter!) even if other bits if me seem to be falling apart. I’m getting old now, obviously.

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Take that you pesky red line of consistency! You have been equalled, nay bettered, by the blue line of erraticivity (you, dear reader, have my permission to take that word and use it as required over this coming week, free of charge).

If you’re looking for something else to keep the motivation going, try marathon talk’s jantastic, fabulous, and marchvellous

So, with that and after this week’s pleasant discovery of ‘terrible sign’ apostrophe reduction, that would seem to be everything rounded off nicely, right?

Wrong!

Fields have more than one side…

This is a different sign! …
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Tipp-Ex ninja… Where are you?!

Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated… mostly, well…ok… entirely by me… in my last post (that is to say – my most recent blog, not my cornet solo on remembrance day).

I have been rather bad at the blogging thing I’ve the past few days but I have been running still. I missed just the one day on day 3 but I did walk for about 3 hours -geocaching with the family – a lot if the time, with a small child on my shoulders. For those interested among you, we found 9 in total… Geocaches – not children.

Runs have been around the locality – street lit roads, basically nothing overly exciting but today, I took the pushchair to a parkrun which I completed in just under 30 mins  🙂

It took me longer than that to clean the pushchair when I got home!

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I was a good boy and started right at the back with a super-slow pace and let the pack thin out before any overtaking maneuvers.

I didn’t get a PB (unless it can stand for ‘pushchair best’) but I still got a lovely prize at the end…

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🙂      🙂      🙂

I have decided that I will see janathon through and I will exercise everyday even if the blogs don’t happen… I will prioritise the runs.
I will run at least 4 days a week and aim to keep this going through February and March too as part of jantastic and I still aim for the so-far elusive 100 miles in January…

I am so serious about this, that I have created a graph. Yes!… that serious!

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Red is my target line. Blue is actual. Let’s give this a go!