Monthly Archives: January 2021

Run, run, turbo, run, run, run – 200km of running in the month

At least the willow likes the rain

Monday morning was lovely – as long as it was viewed from inside a warm house. Sunny but very cold so the morning run was postponed until the roads and pavements were safer.

Eventually I got out for 10.3km (6.4 miles). The day off on Sunday helped a lot by giving more than 48 hours rest to my Achilles and knee but it was still slippery underfoot and hard work.

I’ve been on the internet looking for information on knee pain to see what I should do about my cranky left knee. It seems that a lot of knee pain is not really to do with the knee but results from pulls, tightness, imbalances and strains elsewhere in the lower body. On the other hand, a lot of knee pain is to do with the knee itself.

I’m so pleased to have cleared that up that ….

Another 7km (4.3 miles) on a cold and wet Tuesday, still dodging some frozen patches on the paths. Wednesday was dreary and wet but, of course, just after I decided not to run the rain stopped. The day involved making a shed more secure so it can take the mowers and was finished on the turbo trainer – 45 minutes @ 28.5kph (17.7 mph).

After what seems like weeks of temperatures hovering around freezing, Thursday suddenly produced 12℃ (53℉). I failed to adapt my clothing properly so I did another 13km (8 miles) sweating profusely and shedding items as I went.

I ran again on Friday – 7km (4.3 miles). That took me through the 200km of running for January. That’s no big deal for many people but it’s a lot for me and my knee is telling me to calm down a bit.

Saturday was thoroughly unpleasant – cold, breezy and wet. The best thing about it was the smug satisfaction of having got out to run four times earlier in the week and not having to do any more.

With the heavy rain the village was getting a little jittery about the height of the small stream that runs through some gardens (and at the end of ours) and which has flooded houses a couple of times in the last 30 years.

We’d been good citizens in the summer and maintained the stream properly where it runs at the end of our garden (I suppose some good had to come from the various lockdowns) but I spent a few happy hours up to my knees in mud and water clearing some more of it as it runs away from the village.

Yet again, ‘Independence Day’ was on television (and yet again I watched it) but I still struggle to see how someone who calls his daughter ‘Munchkin’ could ever have become President.

Another 7km (4.3 miles) on Sunday, with my son to finish the month with 209km (130 miles) of running. I think I will cut back in February and do some more on the turbo trainer. That should help the knee and the sportive training – and get me in a position to think about starting the training for July’s ultra.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: A host’s dance is never a bad one

If they ever saw me dance such politeness would be put to the test

2. BBC News website: A spokesman for Zimbabwe’s government called doctors in the country “medical assassins” and suggested that four cabinet ministers who died in recent months of coronavirus had in fact been “eliminated”.

Following a backlash, he stated on Twitter that he “had no intention to offend”.

Makes you wonder what he’d say if he did intend to offend.

3. BBC News website: A couple in Canada have been fined for breaking Covid curfew rules after the woman was caught “walking” her husband on a leash.

The woman reportedly told police that she was just out “walking her dog” near their home in Quebec province. Walking a dog close to home is one of the only acceptable reasons to be outside between the times of the current curfew.

4. BBC News website: GameStop: Confused investors inundate Robin Hood society

A society promoting legendary outlaw Robin Hood has seen a huge surge in its social media as a result of people confusing it with the US stock trading platform Robinhood.

Look how much cash I’ve made, Marian

Run (x5) – and why running is (a bit) like smoking and drinking coffee

OK, that might need some clarification. As a non-smoker, it seems to me that when one of a group of smokers wants a cigarette, the others are offered one and rarely say no – so they all smoke more.

The same is true of coffee drinking – and last week was also true of running. A couple of times I was going to have a rest but either my wife or son decided to run and I couldn’t resist going too. Of course, it’s usually a good thing to get outside to exercise but it’s also possible to end up overdoing it.

Monday was another case in point. It was a lovely bright crisp day and my wife and I had decided not to run – but when our son came down in running kit I changed my mind and went with him. A really good 7km (4.35 miles) although my left knee and right Achilles might not thank me for it.

It was windy and drizzling on Tuesday but the knee and Achilles were not too bad so, with worse rain forecast for Wednesday, I ran for 10.2km (6.35 miles).

The heavier rain set in later on Tuesday and carried on throughout the night. Wednesday was dull and windy but not as wet as forecast – and for once my resolve held firm. It was partly bolstered by the fact that neither my wife or son wanted to run but was mainly due to being generally weary and creaking.

I watched the US inauguration and was relieved that it passed off without incident. It’s not for me to judge Trump’s 4 years but I remember that, when he was elected, I thought the Presidency would change him – I certainly got that the wrong way round. Irrespective of all that, I wish Biden, and the USA, every success.

It was snowing when I got up on Thursday but within 40 minutes it was clear and bright (but cold and breezy). We all ran one of the usual 7km routes (4.35 miles). After that I collected shopping for a couple self-isolating nearby (fingers crossed that they test negative and this proves just to have been a sensible precaution) and chainsawed a huge tree root.

After waiting for a while to let the world defrost on Friday, I then overheated on a run of nearly 10km (6 miles). The forecast for Sunday was bad so we ran again on a very cold Saturday – I added a bit to the family run to make it 10.8km (6.7 miles).

We woke to the forecast snow on Sunday morning, probably less than 3 inches but enough to cause a bit of havoc, such is our general unpreparedness for snow in England. Happily, it merely confirmed our plan not to run, and shovelling the drive clear provided a good alternative workout.

Thank goodness my spare set of wheels for the car, with their winter tyres, are safe and dry in the garage …… ah.

I had planned to do the turbo trainer on Sunday but decided to give my cranky left knee a day off.

Somehow I clocked up 120km of running in the first 17 days of January. Such is the tyranny of round numbers that I immediately set myself the target of 200km for the month (more than double last year’s monthly average). That’s this week’s 40km (and a bit) done and dusted – but next week’s weather does not look good ….

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: The lizard would like to stand erect, but his tail will not permit him

2. BBC News website: Covid-19: Man said he had travelled 100 miles ‘for a McDonald’s’

A man told police he had driven from Luton to Devizes to visit a McDonald’s, even though Devizes does not have a McDonald’s. He was fined £200 – and his car was seized for having no insurance.

Call me a terrible old cynic, but I suspect he might not have been telling the truth. However, Devises has risen in my estimation for not having a McDonald’s

3. Biden’s inauguration: None of the Trump clan was at the inauguration – possibly a good thing in the current climate but the Clintons and Obamas attended Trump’s (and you could see how much it hurt them). Irrespective of how anyone might view their performances in (or running for) office, I thought that was pretty classy on their part.

4. BBC News website: Egyptian woman arrested for baking ‘indecent’ cakes

The cakes, topped with genitalia and underwear fashioned out of fondant icing, were eaten at a birthday party at an exclusive Cairo sports club. After the photos went viral the baker was arrested. There are reports that the partygoers may face legal action too.

5. BBC News website: Tennis player Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain (in quarantine ahead of the Australian Open) said that quarantine felt like prison

“These people have no idea about tennis, about practice courts, about anything. It’s a complete disaster… The control of everything is not Tennis Australia, it’s the people from the government… I can’t imagine staying two weeks like this.”

He later apologised for his words, which he said were taken out of context.

I’m not entirely sure in what context the words would have been appropriate

“Run, turbo, run, turbo, run, run, run” (run) a homage to Flanagan and Allen

Still pounding the mean streets of rural Oxfordshire

I appreciate that this might mean nothing to anyone else but it makes me smile. For the record, Flanagan and Allen were a musical comedy act in the 1930s and 40’s. One of their most famous songs went:

Run, rabbit, run, rabbit, run, run, run
Run, rabbit, run, rabbit, run, run, run
Bang, bang, bang, bang goes the farmer’s gun
Run, rabbit, run, rabbit, run, run, run, run
Run, rabbit, run, rabbit, run, run, run
Don’t give the farmer his fun, fun, fun
He’ll get by without his rabbit pie
So run, rabbit, run, rabbit, run, run, run

More innocent days – I don’t expect Eminem or Stormzy to do cover versions.

Anyway ….

Monday was a little warmer but last week was quite tough so I should have taken a rest day. Instead I ran through the village with my wife and then on to do 10 laps of Badbury Clump (10.1km – 6.3 miles).

That made four days in a row running at least 10km. I suppose that was useful in showing I could do it but, at the same time, it felt like more than enough. I wasn’t too disappointed that it was raining on Tuesday so nobody felt like getting out for a run.

In the absence of the gym for variety, I got on the turbo trainer later in the day. With the sportive just over 3 months away I should be doing more cycling – but it’s cold and wet and the ‘stay local’ message for exercise needs to be taken into account. Just a quick blast – 30 minutes @ 29.2kph (18.1 mph).

Wednesday was wet (again) so it was out for just 7km (4.35 miles) between showers and, foolishly, a thrash on the turbo in the early evening – 30 minutes @30.9kph (19.2mph). That was tough as pretty well everything was tired – so, of course, I stupidly ran on Thursday morning as well. Soggy and slippery laps around the old Badbury hill fort for a difficult 7.4km (4.6 miles). It made me realise how important it will be to pray for dry weather for July’s ultra.

Friday dawned cold but dry and we ran for 7.5kms (4.7 miles) @sub 5:40/km. That took me through a very surprising 100km of running in the first 15 days of January.

I was feeling jaded on Saturday but my wife and son wanted to run again so I went with them to complete the ‘run rabbit’ sequence (and in the right order). The forecast sleet didn’t materialise and we did a very pleasant 7km (4.35 miles). Sunday was lovely and bright so we all ran for a bit and then our son and I added another loop for a total of 12.5km (7.8 miles).

That made 11 activities in 10 days (and 18 in 18 days). Too much really but I seem to have survived. Feet up for the rest of the day

In other news: the new raised vegetable beds look good freshly weeded; 6 litres (10.5 pints) of sloe gin has been decanted and is looking (and tasting) good; and the chickens are still very upset that the avian flu outbreak means that their run has been reduced and covered (they have not yet built a plane but I tell you, those chickens are organised).

It’s a long time since any of us left the house for anything other than necessary shopping or exercise. We remain very lucky, with no jobs or young children to accommodate, plenty of room in both the house and the garden and a village environment that feels pretty safe.

At the same time, lockdown 3 is proving to be a bit tougher than the previous two – horizons get more contracted as holidays (or even getting up to London or down to Bournemouth) still seem a long way off. I hope our national resolve to follow the rules holds firm.

A shop I was in about 10 days ago was shut the following day for a deep clean after discovery of a Covid case. I was there for just a few socially-distanced and face-masked minutes, but was still a minor worry and a good reminder to be careful.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: When the hyena falls into a deep pit, he does not shout for help

Those deep pits are no laughing matter

2. BBC News website: Covid-19 – Pokemon player fined for lockdown breach

A man has been fined £200 for breaking lockdown rules after travelling 14 miles to play Pokemon Go.

Pokemon (do not pass) Go (do not collect £200)

3. BBC News website: Man held after armed raid in search of cat

In Australia, a man called the Lost Dogs’ Home shelter to claim his lost cat but was told he would have to wait until the following morning. He then allegedly stormed the shelter in full camouflage gear and pointed an assault rifle at a female worker demanding to know where the cats were kept.

He returned to the shelter the next day to reclaim the animal and was later arrested.

4. BBC News website: Tennis stars’ arrival angers stranded Australians

Organisers of the Australian Open put on chartered flights to fly in players and other members of staff – and that has frustrated roughly 37,000 Australians unable to return home due to Australia currently having a cap on the number of international arrivals.

Last month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australians overseas were his “first priority in terms of people coming back into the country”.

Obviously, 37,000 Australians do not return as well as Nadal and Djokovic

With a bit of irony, 47 of the players who have arrived on the first two planes are now in 14 days’ quarantine after positive Covid tests on those incoming flights

Run (x4), walk (x2) – staying local in lockdown 3

Having run on each of the first three days of the month, I considered creating Janurunary and going for 31 days of running. Happily, the madness passed quickly, much to the relief of my legs.

Monday was cold, with an even colder wind, so we walked. We were out for almost an hour (4.2km – 2.6 miles). Having lived in the house for nearly 28 years the footpaths and tracks we are walking are not new – but what is new is that I’m looking forward to trying them for runs once they dry out. It should help freshen up my choice of routes and might even help with training for the ultra marathon in July.

The three of us ran together on Tuesday (7km – 4.3 miles) before our son and I added another 5.5km loop to make it 7.8 miles in all. Under the new lockdown guidance we are allowed out for one exercise session a day, staying in the ‘local area’.

We can go to buy essentials from shops in our ‘local area’ – and that must include the nearest town (3.5 km away) as there are no shops nearer! The usual loops we run don’t take us even 2km from the house so they must satisfy that guidance. We are also looking to run in areas with fewest people but if we want to do any longer runs, it looks like they will have to be multiple loops.

On Wednesday my wife wanted to walk rather then run so we used our once-a-day exercise allowance on a short walk round the neighbouring fields (2.8km – 1.75 miles).

Thursday was rather horrible. Sad news from the US, continued high levels of the virus in the UK, bleak foggy weather and a temperature not moving above freezing. I failed to summon up the enthusiasm to do very much at all.

The weather wasn’t a lot better on Friday but there was running to be done and someone had to do it – so I got out for 10.2km (6.35 miles) in 56 minutes. Much the same on Saturday – still just below freezing – but I ran with our son along some footpaths and farm tracks – 10.85km (6.75 miles).

I finished with a sharp pain in the right side of my back. It appeared unannounced and for no reason in the last mile of the run – muscular I assume. It eased over the rest of the day so I ran with our son on a still freezing Sunday morning – a different route but also exactly 10.85km (6.75 miles).

Four runs in the week, all over 10km, for 44.4km (27.6 miles). That’s perfectly OK for me – but it’s sobering to think that the 16 week ultra marathon training has only one (cut-back) week with less than 30 miles, and four weeks of 40 or more.

Both our sons are fit and active. The younger son (28) and I ran the Rotterdam Marathon together in 2019, he plays in a (field) hockey league and is running with us now he is marooned here in Oxfordshire. The older son (30) has just started to run – but is already doing 5km in under 24 minutes. There is a real chance of the three of us taking part in a race later in the year, either a half or full marathon. That would be great.

More worryingly, it has planted the seed of an idea in my mind that when Parkruns come back, I might attend one (my first) to try to see what sort of 5km time I can do – but, as the UK heads back into lockdown, it’s not going to be an issue for some time yet. According to Strava my best 5km is just outside 25 minutes – but digging into that shows it was entirely due to a Garmin malfunction!

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Do not call a dog with a whip in your hand

I apologise but cannot resist saying the obvious: ‘with a whip in your hand’ is an odd name for a dog

2. BBC News website: Australian advert of man eating bat sandwich investigated

The ad from outdoor equipment firm Boating Camping Fishing store (BCF) has been viewed more than 250,000 times on YouTube. In it, a man jokes that the pandemic was caused by someone eating a bat. BCF is no stranger to Australia’s advertising watchdog, making the list of most complained about ads in both 2016 and 2018.

3. BBC News website: Sweden official defends Christmas trip to Canary Islands

The Swedish official is head of the civil contingencies agency, which earlier in December had texted all Swedes urging them to avoid travel. He insisted the trip was necessary “for family reasons” and told Swedish media that he had “given up a lot of trips during this pandemic” but thought this one was necessary because he had a daughter living in the Canaries.

He is confusing “she lives in the Canary islands so I cannot see her without travelling” (true) and ‘she lives in the Canary Islands so I had to travel to go and see her” (false)

4. I had written stuff to pursue my fictional campaign to contest the vote that led to Lewis Hamilton becoming the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year in preference to me.

As I write this on Wednesday night (UK time), current events in the USA are so awful and so far beyond satire or parody that I have entirely lost the heart to do it.

Run (x5), walk (x3): new year, old tricks

Pictures from 2020 in this year’s family calendar. Whatever happened to 2020 – it all started so well …

A thin layer of snow was forecast for Monday morning – but it was just raining as usual. Surely, the recapturing of our sovereign power under Brexit means we can choose our own weather in future?

During a break in the rain I got out for my standard 10.2km run (6.3 miles) – the first since consuming enough calories to fuel an entire army battalion for a 10 mile hike.

While I was running there were some snow flurries. I was dressed in many layers, so although I remain towards the top of the ‘dressed like a wimp in cold weather’ league, I feel I may have moved down a notch in the ‘too much of a wimp to go out in the cold’ table.

The promised thin dusting of snow did greet us on Tuesday morning and hung around. With the likelihood of it being slippery underfoot, we went for a 5km (3 mile) walk. It snowed again, briefly, in the afternoon but that didn’t come to much.

I ran with my wife on Wednesday – still bitterly cold but clear and bright. It was just below freezing and we had to abandon two routes because they were too slippery underfoot. We ended up on a track which was hard work but reasonably safe to run on. I did two loops for 10.2km (6.3 miles). We walked again in the afternoon – this walking lark just might catch on.

New Year’s Eve on Thursday was cold again but we walked 6.7km (over 4 miles) before seeing in the New Year. Although I enjoy Christmas, I’ve never been a big fan of New Year for some unknown reason, so a good meal and some drinks with just the three of us suited me well.

We have a family tradition that my wife gets a calendar produced for us, our sons and our parents (when they were alive) as a Christmas stocking present. The calendar is made up of family pictures from the previous year – generally special occasions and holidays. This year’s starts well with photos from skiing in January 2020 and our older son’s holiday in South Africa in February 2020 – but goes rather downhill in terms of exotic locations and family get-togethers after that. How could that be?

I started the new year at 68.5kg (151lbs) which is about 2kg (4.4 lbs) more than my normal weight. I’m surprised it’s not more; I have decent willpower in terms of not bringing chocolate into the house – but no willpower at all when it comes to avoiding eating it once it’s here.

Friday was (yet again) very cold with a heavy frost. I wanted to start the year off with a run so I waited until the afternoon for safer roads and pavements (and went minus one of my usual cold weather layers). I had a really enjoyable 10.2km – 6.34 miles – at 5:28/km. That put me on course for over 3700km (2300 miles) in 2021, although admittedly at a rather early stage of the year.

Saturday was cold and bright again but safe enough underfoot, with care, and I ran with our younger son – the standard 7km (4.35 miles) at 5:36/km. Already down to being on course for 3100 km for the year. I’d better stop thinking about the year’s distance projection before the inevitable slide downhill becomes depressing. The fifth run of the week was on Sunday, this time with the three of us. The usual 7km (4.35 miles) on a cold and damp morning.

That’s on target for 2870km for the year (damn, I said I’d stop doing that).

Five runs in the week is more than my knees and Achilles would sign up for but it seems to have gone petty well. With the gym closed it’s probably going to have to be back to the turbo to keep up the number of exercise sessions without overdoing the running.

As ever, for me, the clicking over of the calendar between 31 December and 1 January makes rather less of a difference than it is always build up to. It might be another year but it turns out to be just one more day! (but I still hope 2021 is a great year for us all).

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Bits of food you pick from between your teeth with a stick cannot fill your belly

Seemed somehow appropriate immediately after Christmas

2. BBC News website: Hundreds of British skiers flee Swiss Verbier quarantine

More than 200 British skiers fled a coronavirus quarantine in Verbier on Boxing Day night after Switzerland imposed a 10-day quarantine backdated to 14 December because of the new virus strain spreading in the UK. Some Swiss hoteliers only discovered that guests had vanished when room service trays were left untouched outside doors. 

Understandable, but disgraceful, in equal measure?

3. BBC News website: Lorna Jane: Activewear brand in court for ‘anti-virus’ claims

In July the (Australian) company claimed its clothes had been sprayed with a “anti-virus” substance called LJ Shield. Adverts on its website and in stores used the tag “Cure for the Spread of COVID-19? Lorna Jane Thinks So”.

After being fined in July, Lorna Jones said it was not trying to claim the clothing was a cure for Covid-19. “We are not saying LJ Shield will stop you coming into contact with bacteria, we are saying LJ Shield is an added protection like hand sanitiser but for the clothes you wear.”

Thank goodness, now we can rest easy knowing that our clothes won’t catch Covid

4. The year began with news that over 1 million people have had their first Covid vaccine jab in the UK. It’s a good start. They began with the over 80s and care workers but there are something like 12.4m of us over 65s, so I’m not holding my breath for mine just yet.

5. In answer to my own question of a month ago: no, when running, I cannot tell the difference between two identical pairs of trainers, one with 800km on the clock and the other with under 50km.