Category Archives: Achilles Tendons

Run, gym, gym, run, (I saw three ships not sailing by)

Back to Bournemouth. The cruise ships are still there and have become something of a tourist attraction. Luckily no parking meters in the bay

Situation normal for a Monday: jaded after running at the weekend (2x10km) and with a niggling right Achilles. I thought of using the turbo later but rolled the doubling dice and decided on a day off completely.

I drove down to Bournemouth on Tuesday morning to take delivery of a new washing machine. The old one must have had a faulty drum bearing as the machine imploded at 1400 rpm doing a wash while our older son was there during lockdown.

We would have tutted and replaced it – he went online and found that there was a recall on the machine because of (surprise, surprise) possible defects in the drum mechanism. Hence, this was a replacement courtesy of the manufacturer.

I love running at home in Oxfordshire but there is something rather special about running in London and Bournemouth (perhaps it’s just the change of scenery) so mid afternoon I went along the seafront to Boscombe Pier and back for a really good run of 8.53km (5.3 miles) at under 5:30/km.

I hadn’t eaten anything all day and had drunk just a few cups of coffee. Provided I start reasonably hydrated, for anything under 10 miles I wouldn’t think of any specific pre-run fuelling or taking fluid with me (other than in hot weather, perhaps). I don’t know if that’s wise but I read that somewhere near 2000 calories worth of energy can be stored in glycogen so the nutritional side should be fine – and it seems to work for me.

An hour in the (still very cold) gym on Wednesday morning and a session in the charity pop-up bike shop on Thursday, playing mechanic on another donated bike.

Gym again on Friday morning – it’s good to be back to it twice a week – and out running on Saturday for 11.1km (6.9 miles), followed by a return trip to London. Another minor injury to add to the list – the inside of the left thigh, just above the knee – a small pull to a muscle, I guess.

It’s all part of running’s rich tapestry and on Tuesday and Saturday I also managed to prove that the Achilles does not like a run followed by a few hours of immobility driving a car.

I planned to run with my wife on Sunday but it was wet and my Achilles was painful. Instead, I netted the chickens’ run – there is avian flu in the country so they have to be separated from wild birds. An unpleasant job in the cold and wet – and the chickens were completely unappreciative, more focused on their loss of access to the garden and the constrictions of a greatly reduced run.

A much easier week as far as exercise goes, with three rest days, having done 26 sessions in the previous 28 days. I suppose it was the equivalent of a ‘cut-back’ week in marathon training?

As I get back to a bit harder exercising next week, the (entirely trivial) issue I now have is that I’d like to stay with two gym sessions a week and three runs. That means it’s just one session on the turbo if I want to keep a rest day. With the sportive being the first challenge of 2021 I’d like to keep the two sessions on the turbo – which might mean cutting down the running or one day doubling up on the exercise?

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Don’t think there are no crocodiles just because the water is calm

2. BBC News website: Rita Ora apologises for second breach of Covid lockdown restrictions

The 30-year-old flew to Egypt for a private performance on 21 November. On her return the following day, she should have isolated for two weeks. Instead, she threw a birthday party in London, which was itself in violation of lockdown rules.

Sorry for breaking the rules, or sorry for getting caught?

3. BBC News website: German court halts Tesla factory plan over snake and lizard habitats

Tesla has been ordered again to suspend preparations for a car factory in Germany after a successful court injunction by environmentalists. The electric carmaker has been clearing forest land near Berlin, for its first European plant – opponents argue this will endanger the habitats of lizards and snakes.

I like the ironic juxtapositions – quite apart from the lizards and snakes, isn’t it weird that to build the factory for the ‘green’ car means flattening forest land

4. BBC News website: China’s aviation regulator has recommended cabin crew wear disposable nappies and avoid using the toilet to cut the risk of Covid-19 infection

This is on top of the advice for cabin crew to wear medical masks, disposable gloves, caps, goggles, disposable protective clothing and shoe coverings. Flight crew are also advised to wear a range of protective gear, but not nappies.

Such a glamorous job, cabin crew

Turbo, run, run, run, turbo, run – and a small milestone (kilometrestone?)

Another thing about wearing the Vapour Glove minimalist shoes – my feet are noticeably chillier in cold weather

I guess there is a reasonably fine line between exercising hard and constructively – and over-doing it and risking injury. I also guess that the line is drawn rather more conservatively for us over 65s.

Underlining that, after a tougher than usual week, my right Achilles and left knee were a little unhappy on Monday and didn’t feel motivated to get out for a run. I did get on the turbo trainer in the early evening – 22.08km in 45 minutes @ 29.44kph (13.72miles @ 18.3mph).

My wife and I ran one of our stock routes on Tuesday, 7km (4.34miles) – and we ran a shorter route on Wednesday, although I added a bit on to make 9.22km (5.7 miles).

We ran again on Thursday – I did laps of the old hill fort for a total of 10.7km (6.65 miles). The run saw a (very small) milestone as I passed 1000 running kilometres for 2020 (taking a little over 100 hours and with just over 10km of ascent).

Miles and kilometres are slightly strange bedfellows here, but a milestone of 621 miles doesn’t really work – and I’m not sure about having a kilometrestone.

Thursday’s run (which also saw the retirement of my favourite running shoes) made it 6 runs and 2 turbo sessions in the previous 8 days so I took Friday off exercise. Strangely, I really wanted to go for a run or get on the turbo but managed to hold firm against that.

Happily, the England v Ireland rugby watch was on terrestrial TV on Saturday so I went for the hour on the turbo watching it, again with a ’15 second sprint per point scored’ commitment. They were kind to me – 12-0 to England at half time – so an hour for just 29.7km (about 18.5 miles).

Sunday morning was cold but, having self-diagnosed as an under-pronator (supinator) who should have well cushioned shoes, I ignored the science, had a cup of coffee and took my minimalist shoes for a very enjoyable 10.2km (6.3 miles) run at 5:34/km, to finish the week.

Only a couple of weeks into the second lockdown and I’m missing the gym. Not only is lifting heavy bits of metal enjoyable in itself, but it adds welcome variety in the form of a third string to the run/cycle bow. I’ve also realised that I’ve got into the habit of stretching at the end of gym sessions – a habit I’ve not developed after any other exercise. I must remember to stretch more (or, indeed, at all).

One trivial outcome of the lockdown is that I have had a very easy duty as route-setter for the cycling club. My first of a four week stint was the last Saturday before the lockdown – but we won’t set routes now to avoid any suggestion that we are encouraging group riding. Happily, we have built a very large on-line library of rides for all three of the groups we run and we simply encourage people to pick their own, if they do want to ride.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: The frog wanting to be as large as the elephant ended up bursting

2. The world’s gone mad: Our local supermarket has ‘Wild Bird Suet Balls’ for sale. The back of the packet says ‘Allergy advice – may contain peanuts’.

Do they think people are going to eat them, or are they worried about wild birds with nut allergies (and if so, how are the birds going to read the warning anyway?)

3. BBC News Website: The German government praises the nation’s couch potatoes as the country battles a second wave of coronavirus

The first advert depicts an elderly man looking back on the winter of 2020.

“The fate of this country lay in our hands,” he says (in German!). “So, we mustered all our courage and did what was expected of us, the only right thing. We did nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

There is a funny youtube video by British comedian Mitch Benn with a song in a similar vein but with rather more robust language to replace ‘absolutely nothing’.

4. BBC News Website: New Zealand crowns chubby cute parrot bird of the year

New Zealand has voted the kakapo its Bird of the Year. Only a complex election system allowed the big flightless parrot to triumph over its closest rival, the Antipodean albatross.

There were allegations of election rigging (sound familiar?) when hundreds of votes came from a single IP address. But in the end, the kakapo won, marking the second time New Zealanders crowned the chubby parrot their number one bird.


Goodbye old friends ….. confessions of a supinator

Left shoe with the tread worn away from the black pads to the outside of the heel and the ball of the foot and hardly touched everywhere else

Getting in from my run on Thursday I realised it was time to face up to facts. Time to take a tough decision. Time to say goodbye to old friends. Time to retire my favourite pair of running shoes.

There were three things that brought me to this conclusion.


First, they have clocked through 800 km (500 miles) and conventional wisdom says that running shoes generally have an expected lifespan of between 300 and 500 miles (500 and 800km). As I mostly run on roads and, at 146 pounds (66kg), am not a heavyweight, it’s probably right that I get a good mileage out of them – but they can”t go on forever.

Running form

Secondly, although they appear to be in pretty good shape, I looked at the soles and they tell a pretty clear tale of wear. The wear is almost entirely along the outside edge of each shoe, confirming what I have thought for some time – I am a supinator.

My foot lands with most of my weight on the outside edge but instead of rolling inwards (‘pronating’) or rolling too far inwards (‘over-pronating’), it stays on the outside edge (‘under-pronating’ or ‘supinating’).

All runners know the risks they take on whenever they leave the house. From the lower back to the tips of our toes, even the most technically perfect of runners is putting every joint, bone, muscle, ligament and tendon in between at grave risk of injury (or so it would seem from so much of the internet).

For us over-pronators or under-pronators, the risks are magnified – it appears that for me the risks include devil worship, eternal damnation and the end of civilisation as we know it.

OK, that last bit might have been exaggerated a little – but it is a bit of a surprise that I can still walk given the risks I seem to be taking every time I run.

What’s worse is that the wear on the soles of the shoes show that I run heavier on my left foot than my right. While I may have a mental picture of me running like a gazelle, it appears that I probably look more like a three legged wildebeest.

The fact that I am in a 5% minority of runners who supinate comes as little compensation.


These were the oldest of two pairs of these particular shoes – the ‘Puma Ignite 500 Speed’. I ran the Rotterdam Marathon in them in April 2019 and the second pair are only a bit behind in mileage. I like them because they are comfortable, fairly lightweight, low at the back of the heel (good for my dodgy Achilles tendons) and reasonably priced.

I’ve been looking for new ones for months but with no luck – I guess they have been discontinued as all I could find were the occasional random pair in extreme sizes. However, I recently stumbled on a seller who must have some old stock and have bought two more pairs of identical shoes (unadventurous, me?).

It seems that we supinators need more cushioning in our running shoes to make up for the loss of natural cushioning from the usual pronation of the foot. We might also need arch supports to help spread the impact from the foot landing across more of the foot.

How that ties in with the fact that I can run in my minimalist shoes, which have no cushioning or arch support, is beyond me, but at least moving on to one of the new pairs of shoes should restore some extra cushioning. I’ll carry on with the minimalist shoes on a regular basis in the hope that they help to train and strengthen my feet which must be a good thing.

It will be interesting to see if I can tell the difference between new and old shoes. If there is no discernible difference, the old shoes might be reprieved and live on for muddier or wetter runs.

Interesting stuff this week (just wise words as it’s midweek)

African wise words: A man who believes that he can do everything, let him dig a grave and bury himself.

Run (x4), turbo (x3), gym (x0) and bike mechanic: a week of lockdown

The bluebells have long gone but running round Badbury clump is still a pleasure, even when it is soggy underfoot

On a normal Monday I’d be in the gym before 8am – but with the lockdown-lockout at the gym and two runs over the weekend it felt more like a turbo trainer day, after some gardening.

I pushed the turbo session out to 1 hour and managed 29.9km (18.6 miles). I guess the turbo will be getting more use now to replace one or both of the weekly gym sessions. That won’t be an entirely bad thing as the first challenge of 2021 is (scheduled to be) the sportive in April – and I’ve neglected the cycling for too long.

Soggy circuits round the old hill fort on Tuesday – 8.44km (5.2 miles). I’ve noticed that running in the morning is a bit harder after a tough early evening turbo session the previous day – who’d have thought it?

One thing that occurs to me is that when I use the turbo it is relentlessly tough. Either I get over the 30kph average for 45 minutes or very close to it if I go for longer. I don’t want to associate the turbo (exclusively) with extremely hard exercise performed in pools of sweat or I’m going to be looking for reasons to avoid it – so I got on for a gentle spin on Tuesday evening.

Unfortunately, my legs didn’t get the ‘take it easier’ message. I did limit it to 30 minutes but at 32.14kph (19.97mph) – and still finished in a pool of sweat.

I managed to fix both of the bikes that I’d been allocated for the pop-up shop on Wednesday – mainly a question of brake adjustment and getting the gears working properly. Happily, one went from 4 to 21 and the other from 10 to 21.

Last week’s run across London got me thinking that perhaps one run each week should be a bit longer than I’ve been doing recently, so I did 13.4km (8.3 miles) on Thursday. Good running weather and at better than 6 minute kms. We then made a bad choice of route for Friday’s run – sodden, slippery and slow which made for a hard 6.5km (4miles).

Saturday was cool, grey, wet and windy. My right Achilles had been niggling for a few days but seemed to have improved overnight, so it was an easy decision to give it a bit more rest and not run. Instead, I did an afternoon turbo session watching the first half of the women’s rugby (England v France). The way women’s rugby has progressed is great to see, with high levels of skills and fitness.

I took a bravery pill and decided to incorporate some sprints into the session on an entirely random basis – 15 seconds for each point scored. They were fairly kind to me in the first half (10-10). At half time I listened to Italy v Scotland and sprinted for Italy’s 3 points.

I pushed on for the hour watching the women’s second half but immediately after I finished, England scored a converted try (7 points) and I felt duty bound to sprint for that too. The same happened again – just after I finished, England scored another converted try so I did the sprint for that as well. In all, 1 hour 4 minutes for 31.77km (19.74 miles).

It was raining heavily on Sunday and looked like it was set in for the day. However, as I sat down with a coffee and the puzzles from the newspaper, the rain stopped. I took advantage of clear blue skies (although it was still cool and breezy) and ran for a little over 10km (6.3 miles) at 5:37/km.

Seven sets of exercise in the week – one day doubled up and one rest day – in all, 6h 30m. In effect, I replaced the usual two gym sessions with two on the turbo and a run. All that and I’m still too far away from any of next year’s challenges to actually be training for anything. It’s a bit frustrating.

Lockdown continues much as before – we have had to cancel some drinks, suppers and lunches but we can still exercise and shop for essentials, so we are still among the luckiest ones. The most disappointing thing is not seeing our sons.

Take care out there.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: It is not from my mouth that people will learn that the king’s mother is a witch.

2. BBC News website: Popular app T&Cs ‘longer than Harry Potter’

The combined terms and conditions of 13 top apps including TikTok, WhatsApp and Zoom would take 17 hours and five minutes to read.

The documents contain a joint total of 128,415 words – longer than any one of the first three Harry Potter novels. The longest was Microsoft Teams at 18,282 words – or two-and-a-half hours of reading time for many people.

They must all know that when we tick the box to confirm that we have read and agree to the Ts & Cs, we are not entirely telling the truth. On that basis, I wonder how enforceable they really are?

3. BBC News website: Roblox gamers must pay to die with an ‘oof’

The “oof” sound that famously (not to me it isn’t) accompanies the death of characters in the hugely popular Roblox game will temporarily be removed, following a copyright dispute.

When it is reinstated, gamers will have to buy it, paying around around $1 (£0.76) or 100 in-game currency Robux. The developer who originally created the sound for a game released 20 years ago, will get compensation.

Suddenly, my lack of knowledge about any of this makes me feel very old.

4. Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton on his 7th F1 world championship. Record holder for pole positions, race wins and now equal best with Michael Schumacher for titles.

Run, run, gym (first since March), run, run and an accidental trendy diet

Although the bluebells are long gone for this year, I can still picture them when I run round the old hill fort

After a week off running and cycling I ran on Monday. It’s a good thing I wasn’t daft enough to think that I’d run easily, smoothly and strongly as a result of the break – because I didn’t.

I ran in my minimalist shoes for the first time since I hurt my feet running in them on the stoney farm track three weeks ago. I really enjoyed them – except that, to be honest, the ball of my right foot hadn’t quite recovered and hurt a bit.

It felt like very hard work but I did over 10km (6.3 miles) in 58 minutes – 4 hour marathon pace – which was a pleasant surprise.

We walked a 3.5 mile round trip for supper with friends on Monday evening. I wore my Asics running shoes – good shoes but they have a high and snug heel that aggravates my Achilles if I run in them. I now find that they aggravate my Achilles if I walk in them.

The three of us went for a more gentle run on Tuesday morning – about 7km (4.4 miles), ignoring the sore Achilles and the sore soles of the feet, followed by building a brick pier at the end of one of the new walls.

Wednesday was spent on a trip up to London to do some work on our sons’ flat and to pick up post and meter readings from ours – and no time for a run.

On Thursday I went to the gym for the first time since they were allowed to reopen last week – and my first time since early March. It wasn’t busy, the equipment had been well spaced out (taking over a foyer area and a squash court) and was being cleaned very regularly by the staff.

It felt pretty safe (given the circumstances) and I was pleasantly surprised that I could lift the same weights as in March – although I eased off by 5kg here and there to give myself a slightly gentler reintroduction. A very enjoyable hour.

I timed my return home badly. I got back from the gym just as my wife and our younger son were heading out for a run – so I joined them. It was only 5.5km (about 3.4m) and taken gently, but coming straight after the gym it felt as hard as anything I’ve done recently.

A rest day on Friday featuring a long lunch with friends in very hot weather. I planned to run late afternoon on Saturday after a day in the garden, but we were invited out for drinks. Strangely, I opted for the drinks rather than the run, but we all ran on Sunday morning – nearly 9km (5.5miles) with laps around Badbury Clump, minus the bluebells.

Talking to a friend, I’ve realised that – without any conscious decision – I’ve slipped into a regime of 16:8 dieting. I’ve got to this position simply by failing to follow the old ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ adage and rarely eating anything before lunch (and often not eating lunch either).

That gives me at least 16 hours of fasting most days and it seems that the fasting period is said to help in several ways, both for weight and health. Best of all, I appear to be lucky in that it just happens to be the way I tend to eat, rather than being an artificial diet approach. Accordingly, it isn’t very hard to do and nor do I feel very tied to it – if it doesn’t suit me at any time I abandon it without even the merest twinge of guilt. Of course, the ‘no breakfast’ approach completely disappears any time I stay in a hotel.

I’m wondering how long it will be before the wheel turns full circle and breakfast again becomes the most important meal of the day.

Interesting stuff in the news

1. A Canadian brewery has apologised for unwittingly naming one of its beers after a Maori word that is commonly used to mean pubic hair.

2. African proverb: A man who plants grapes by the roadside, and he who marries a pretty woman share the same problem.

My apologies that African proverbs are not always appropriately PC.

Minimalist/barefoot running, thoughts so far: really good, but …

After using the Merrell minimalist shoes for several runs over the course of a few weeks, and reading and thinking about ‘barefoot’ running, I’ve reached some tentative conclusions.

Of course, they are only really relevant for me because running shoes are a very individual thing, but I thought I’d record them anyway.

I run mainly because I enjoy it and it helps keep me fit. Beyond that, it’s motivational to run fast (by my own low standards of ‘fast’), I enjoy running with others and it’s another source of challenges – and I’m a bit addicted to challenges

The minimalist shoes certainly fit with my reasons to run – other than them not the best way of running faster. Their lightness is a bonus but I doubt they are the fastest shoes out there by a long way.

Of course, there is a huge range of ‘normal’ running shoes and my barefoot ones are probably better than many of the bad ‘normal’ ones – but they are certainly not likely to be as ‘good’ (ie fast) as the top-end shoes which have technology for ‘energy return’ from the layers of foam making up the sole (or the carbon in the sole). I must ask Mr Kipchoge what he thinks.

I think the minimalist shoes do bring really useful things to the party in terms of improving running form, strengthening the feet and lower legs and helping to avoid heel-striking.

Originally, my concerns were more about wear and tear on my ageing body – I guess the lack of cushioning must put more stresses on my hips, calves, Achilles’, knees, feet etc. Presumably, there’s a delicate balance between strengthening all those and putting too much stress on them. Starting the minimalist experiment at nearly 65 might not have been the best timing in the world in terms of my body’s ability to adapt to something so different – but I’m pleased I did.

I expect those concerns are probably valid to some degree – but the biggest drawback I’ve found with the shoes is that they are not at all good on stoney tracks. My one run with them down the farm track beyond Puddleduck Lane was very painful indeed and the soles of my feet were (literally) and I was (metaphorically) bruised by the experience. I suppose there will be minimalist shoes with thicker or more rigid soles – but that would seem to miss at least part of the whole reason for running in shoes like this.

I’m sure there are many people who run on minimalist shoes all the time and I applaud them – but at the same time I don’t think I will be one of them.

I think the minimalist shoes will become part of my regular running programme with ‘the minimalist shoe run’ taking its regular place alongside the hills session, the long slow run and the intervals. That should keep keep reinforcing the learning from them in order to constantly take it back to running in more ‘normal’ shoes.

I’ve been trying to work out how to think of the minimalist shoes – I keep coming back to a skiing analogy.

My ‘proper’ skis are Black Crows Vertis 170.3cm – but I have a pair of Salomon 90cm snow blades. The blades are tremendous fun – quick to turn but not as fast or as stable as ‘proper’ skis and mainly suitable for a day’s pure entertainment on the slopes – partly as a break from ‘real’ skiing.

Beyond the entertainment factor, there is certainly some benefit from the blades in that they do remind you to keep your weight forward, which is also a key aspect to skiing on full length skis.

For me, the minimalist or barefoot shoes come into the same category. They are really good fun to run in (I don’t know why but perhaps it’s the sense of foot-liberation) and I believe that they will help in tuning my running posture, avoiding heel striking, and in strengthening my foot and lower leg – all of which will be useful for when running in normal shoes.

However, just as I don’t use my snow blades all the time, I don’t think I’ll be using the minimal shoes for every run – and certainly not the runs on the sharp, rough stuff.

African proverb: A monkey walking behind another laughs at the other’s tail.

‘Barefoot’ in the park – first experiences of minimalist/ barefoot running

Minimalist v normal running shoe. Less is more … or perhaps less is less? They have a sort of camouflage colour scheme – but so far I’ve been able to find them OK.

I have to admit that buying the minimalist running shoes was, quite possibly, a bit of badly-judged nonsense. I’m not sure I can explain it – but it felt something of a necessary rite of passage.

My achilles tendons hurt every day for more than four months training for the Rotterdam Marathon last year and one of the things that is prescribed in such a case is a running shoe with a bigger drop from the heel to the toe, to reduce stress on the tendons.

The minimalist shoes have pretty much zero drop (perhaps 1mm?) so they do not appear to be very Achilles-friendly and do not seem to be a wise choice. However, when was I likely to be sensible when it come to this sort of stuff?

Beyond that, they are against almost everything we know about running shoes … no gel inserts to cushion the shock, no multi-layer, multi-density foams to maximise energy return, no need for gait analysis to decide whether you under or over pronate so you can buy the necessary corrective shoes or supportive arches …

Well, perhaps it’s wrong to say minimalist/barefoot shoes are against what we know about running shoes – perhaps it would be more accurate to say they are against everything the running industry tells us is important in running shoes. The industry wants to differentiate and sell products so can we always take the claims on face value?

On the other hand, if the products don’t work as they should, we will find out so the manufacturers should be kept honest by that. If the gels and foams (and, dare I say it, carbon-infused launchpads) were just Emperor’s new clothes, wouldn’t we know it?

It’s all very confusing – and if you like interesting questions, could Kipchoge have run his sub 2 hour marathon without his Nike Vaporflys?

Anyway, back to the minimal. It might sound weird but when you put them on they make your feet feel a bit over-exposed and vulnerable – the biggest reservation I had was how the seemingly thin sole and the absence of any cushioning will protect my feet when landing on a sharp stone. I think the issue would be pain and bruising rather than penetration through the sole (but I’d not want to walk on a nail in them).

The shoes I have are supposed to be trail shoes (I take the fact that they are called ‘Merrell Vapor Glove 4 Trail Running Shoes’ as a clue) but that just emphasises the stone point.

Being from the east of the Atlantic, I would prefer ‘vapor’ to be spelt correctly – but I may be able to forgive Merrell the missing ‘u’ if the shoes are good.

Monday saw the start of the minimalist experiment. The morning’s physical stocktake revealed a slightly tender left calf and Achilles (addressed by heel drops) and the usual cranky left knee. I wore the shoes for a fairly short run on the road – just under 7km (about 4.2 miles). They felt great – light and comfortable and the run felt easy and pretty fast (for me).

I may just be deluding myself by feeling that the run was easy – I could just be thinking that to justify my purchase of the shoes but I guessed the proof of the pudding would be when I woke up the following day and saw how the legs were. The rest of Monday was spent out in the garden tackling an overgrown hedge (and removing nettles, brambles and ivy – again). It was very windy and we had a power cut in the afternoon which lasted until about 10.30pm.

On Tuesday the physical stocktake was just the same as Monday’s – no new aches or pains and nothing worse than usual. I’ll take that as a victory.

Accordingly, I ran in them again on Tuesday – tame trail running doing laps of Badbury Clump (about 7.7km – 4.75miles). Yes, you can feel stones and sticks through the sole of the shoe but no problems so far and they were a joy to run in.

On Wednesday morning both calf/achilles combos were a little tight and the knee was as cranky as usual. It could just be two consecutive days of running, it could be the shoes or it could be nothing much at all – but it will be a day without a run.

I think I’ll go back to the old shoes for the rest of the week – I doubt the new ones need ‘running-in’ but if they put extra (or different) strains on my muscles/joints/tendons/ligaments/psyche I guess that it’s me that might need to be a bit cautious in attuning to them.

So far so good – I like them a lot but it remains to be seen if they like me …

Run, run, run, something in the woodshed

Sunday’s run wasn’t as good as Saturday’s – but I could feel both in my legs on Monday, especially the calf muscles. Why don’t I remember to stretch before I have the problems?

I suppose the good thing is that it was the muscles and not the Achilles tendons – throughout the training for the Rotterdam Marathon in April last year, they never needed any excuse to protest loudly.

I’m wondering if I’ve been running a bit flat footed for a while in order to protect the Achilles’. Subconsciously, I must have got a bit more confident in them and am striking a bit closer to the ball of the foot (thus putting more strain on the Achilles/calf chain – oh dear).

I did a short leg loosener Monday (5.5km, about 3.4miles) in some pretty muggy heat around midday. In the afternoon I started on another bit of garden – more nettles and brambles but thistles replacing ivy, for a change. It was more ripping stuff out than digging stuff up – by the evening my hands were like claws, incapable of gripping more than a cup of coffee.

I ran with my wife on Tuesday (6.7km, 4.2m) but, after 4 consecutive days of running (for only about 30km – over 18 miles) my back ached on Wednesday so I took it as a rest day from exercise.

I bought a chainsaw to start cutting up the wood taken out of the beech trees last year. I still have a full complement of limbs and digits so it went well – but it’s going to be a three session job to get it all cut and stored for the wood burner this winter.

Session 2 log cutting on Thursday (in the rain, so no running) and the same again on Friday (in yet more rain) which finished the job and leaves us with a fully stacked woodshed (plus overflow into another shed).

As the lockdown eases, we are allowed to create a ‘support bubble’ so our younger son, furloughed from his job and having been alone in his flat in London since the start of the virus lockdown, is now at home with us. It’s great to have him here in any event – but I ran the Rotterdam Marathon with him last year so I now have another running partner and another pair of hands with the labours around the house and garden … and he plays a mean game of croquet too.

He and I had a very good run on Saturday – a bit over 10km (6.35miles) in an hour. On Sunday the three of us drove up to London for a socially distanced picnic with our other son and his girlfriend – we’ve not seen them since skiing in late January. It was great.

Rook update – the hawk cut-out appears to be having some effect (for now, at least). I’ve not seen any in the chicken run and the chicken food seems to be lasting longer – so it looks like fewer rooks (unless the chickens have put themselves on a diet).

Interesting stuff this week

1. African proverb of the week: ‘Better to meet me with a warm heart than offer me dinner.’

2. BBC News website: ‘Coronavirus and how to beat it on the sausage frontline’

When the battle lines are drawn, it tends to all come down to the sausages

3. BBC News website: ‘Australia shark encounter: Teenage siblings film ‘really scary’ escape’

As opposed to a ‘really enjoyable’ escape from a shark

4. Foolish joke of the week: I had a ticket for a gig by an emo band but it was called off. I was really sad – which is, I suppose, what they would have wanted.

Confirmed cases of Coronavirus for Oxfordshire: population c. 690,000

14/3 – 22

21/3 – 44 (x2 from previous week)

28/3 – 113 (x2.5)

4/4 – 356 (x3.2)

11/4 – 653 (x1.8)

18/4 – 1070 (x1.6)

25/4 – 1336 (x1.25)

2/5 – 1540 (x1.15)

9/5 – 1688 (x1.09)

16/05 – 1902 (x1.13)

23/05 – 2020 (x1.06)

30/05 – 2065 (x1.02)

6/06 – 2093 (x1.01)

13/06 – 2109 (x1.01)

20/06 – 2126 (x1.01)

Generosity flourishes as normality recedes (and some irrelevant exercise)

Cancellation of sporting events is supremely unimportant just now, but to me there is an impact as they would have been a great distraction and their absence emphasises today’s lack of normality.

In the UK, our lockdown was for an initial 3 weeks. I’m sure we all knew that was just an opening bid but every sporting cancellation seems to underline the lengthening of the extreme measures.

To begin with, events in April went by the wayside. Then May, then June and now, most recently, the grass-based tennis season has been cancelled, including Queen’s (one of the main pre-Wimbledon tournaments) and Wimbledon itself. Wimbledon would have finished on 12 July.

Although the Olympics and the Euro 2020 football tournament had already been postponed by a year, the sheer scale of those events made early action a necessity – cancellation of ‘smaller’ things like Wimbledon bring it closer to home. It feels even more clear that July is not going to have seen a return to normal, although let’s hope we have, at least, moved a long way in that direction by then.

I expect the British Grand Prix and The Open to be next to go (both scheduled later in July) together with the further deferral of unfinished leagues. Will we get to the point where events such as the London Marathon, already postponed to October, are in the cancellation firing line?

Let’s keep following the rules – if we do, it may not come to that.

Not quite on the Wimbledon scale, but the ultra marathon scheduled for July has finally been put out of its misery and postponed to July next year. I’m trying to work out if the opportunity to train for another year is a benefit or a curse.

I’ve been spending a lot of time ‘on call’ as a NHS volunteer but no calls to respond to so far. I don’t expect any/many as we are in a slightly rural environment and a village that has established it’s own support service and a way of collecting medicines for those who can’t get out.

There is a lady in the village who grows a lot of plants to sell on behalf of the church – there has never been so much interest shown! I’m doing a lot of digging in my compost heaps to be able to offer some to people taking her up on the plants in a couple of weeks’ time.

Turning to the more mundane, on Thursday I got on the turbo for 45 minutes (with little to train for, an hour seems very unappealing). I ran through the village with my wife on Friday – she then did hills and I ran round the nearby old hill fort (continuing to protect my Achilles Tendons). Too early for the bluebells but I had a picture from a couple of years ago – something to look forward to. I rejoined my wife for her last hill rep – I managed a Strava PR.

One great thing I saw this week was Jos Buttler (the England wicket-keeper) auctioning the shirt he wore in the final of last year’s One-day Cricket World Cup (that we won after one of the game’s most extraordinary matches and a final ‘super over’ tie-break).

The money will go to charity, supporting two specialist heart and lung centres dealing with the coronavirus response – what a wonderful gesture.

As I write, bidding is standing at £65,800 – terrific, but what caught my eye is the fact that the auction asks for an additional £10 for postage! I hope the winning bidder has factored that in.

Pedant’s/grumpy old man’s corner

Things that get to me:

  1. Misuse of ‘literally’. On a baking programme this week, a contestant who did well kept saying “I’m literally over the moon” – she wasn’t, she was sitting on a stool in a big white tent.
  2. The unnecessary ‘So’ at the start of sentences: “What do you do Peter?” – “So, I work in marketing”

So, that’s me finished for now. I’m so tired I’m literally dead on my feet.

Foot management. Pairs of shoes: 1 black, 1 deck, 3 cycling, multiple running (and not a Vaporfly in sight)

Just a few trainers

I suffered with my Achilles tendons throughout training for April’s marathon. They didn’t stop me running but I cut out hill and speed work to protect them – and they still hurt every morning.

Early in the training I got some Asics Gel Nimbus running shoes that I thought would be well cushioned and good for high mileage but they came up a bit high at the heel and irritated the tendons – thus disproving my claim when I got them that “If I can’t run in these, I can’t run in anything”.

Then I stumbled across some Puma 500 Ignites (because they were cheap and bright red/orange) and they worked a treat – I trained and ran the marathon itself in them. I bought 2 pairs and have got to the end of the useable life of one pair, but when I went to buy another, it seems that they are now not made in men’s sizes (if made at all).

I’m all for progress – and it may be that whatever has replaced them is better – but it’s a pain to have to try something new when the old was perfectly good and, as an under-pronator with dodgy ATs, suited me well.

I resisted the momentary temptation to consider the Nike Vaporfly series. They seem to have worked reasonably well (!) for Eliud Kipchoge but the one time I suffered with Plantar Fasciitis was when I got some running shoes with stiff soles. I don’t know how my feet would react to carbon fibre in the sole – or how I would react if I’d spent £240 ($310) and not been able to use them.

I have nothing but admiration for people who commit fully to their running and go for broke on the best shoes but I think I’ll just deduct 4% from my times and know that’s what I would have done if I wasn’t so mean …… and I doubt they are very good for trail running anyway!

I’ve just got 2 pairs of what might be the Puma replacement for my old shoe – they are a bit odd as they have a sort of netting leading up to an elasticated cuff around the ankle. So far so good but goodness knows if they will work for me in the longer term.

And yes, now I’m retired I have just one pair of ‘proper’ black shoes, pretty much worn only at weddings, christenings and funerals (may it be mainly the first and second of those).