Category Archives: Treadmill

Pre-Ultra thoughts

I’ve done the final runs of the training plan – it requires just 7km this week (or 107km if you include the ultra itself). The first 7km has gone OK – the remaining 100km is in the lap of the Gods.

I’ve (unwisely) been thinking about Saturday’s 100km. It’s rather daunting – not least because a young chap I know (a vastly superior runner – in the sense of ‘I am not fit to tie the laces to his trainers’) – took over 17 hours for one last month.

I hope you’ll forgive me if I get a bit technical here, but my experience tells me that a marathon is ‘a very long way’ to run. Similarly, last year I discovered that a 50km ultra marathon is ‘even further’. That means that Saturday’s 100km ultra is, officially, ‘twice as far as even further than a very long way’.

I hope that I haven’t lost anyone in the detail.

I’ve (sort of) done the training. I front-end loaded it because I was already running further than the plan required in the early weeks – but I’ve missed out on some of the more recent very long runs (yes, the really important bits of the training). That means that, although my mileage over the 20 weeks is above the plan, I’ve probably not done enough really long stuff.

Coupled with the recent major hiccup with ITB issues, that leaves me unsure of what to expect. I doubt that the training plan was written with old folks like me in mind – but I like to think that age is an advantage because of the added maturity it brings (what’s that I can hear – is it whistling in the dark?).

I fear that running on maturity might not be as useful as running on young legs, at the 75km point.

My wife is driving me the 40 miles to the start, before going to see Bananarama in concert in London. No, it’s not true that I’m only doing the ultra to avoid that concert but that is a side benefit, I’ll admit.

My friend and training companion (who would have been running with me, had it not been for a ligament problem in his ankle that’s only just improved) has (way beyond kindly) volunteered to be my support crew on the day. I feel bad that my start time of 8:10am means that my friend will be collecting me from the finish rather late … assuming I make it to the finish … and assuming I don’t take so long that collection turns out to be mid-morning on Sunday.

This doubt is rather familiar territory – I thought I probably was going to be able to do the Cinglés du Mont Ventoux back in 2015 but I was very worried about the everesting in 2017, the solo, unsupported, ride out to the alps in 2018 and the 50km ultra last year.

As it turned out, I completed those challenges, but those worries are going to turn out to be well founded at some point as I age and push myself physically. This could be the step (or several thousand steps) too far.

On Saturday, I suppose I’m going to find out if this challenge is the straw that breaks the camel’s back – is this the challenge that proves that determination and bloody-mindedness are not always enough?

Two apposite African wise words for this post:

  • A feeble effort will not fulfill the self
  • To try and to fail is not laziness

Run (x3), swim (x2), gym (plus a worldwide party ban and dry pumps)

Week 2 of the taper – just 15km. I ran on Monday (7.2 km – 4.5 miles) in between the showers to get ahead of the schedule. Yes, the left knee hurt a bit – but not as much as previously.

The evening’s swim doctor session was very good – we used fins for several drills and they were great fun (obviously I now realise that I could do with much bigger feet) – in all 900m.

That was followed on Tuesday by a trip to the lake for an open water swim. In my absence on holiday, running, my wife’s birthday and generally wimping out, my friend and training partner has been making strides (figuratively) in the water so I have a good deal of catching up to do.

It didn’t feel too encouraging at the start – chilly and choppy – but it improved and I ended up with a very decent 1750m (while my friend did a rather more impressive 2600m). Not a lot of catching up done by me but, for a fourth open water swim of the year (including the triathlon), I’m happy. It does feel as though I still need to get more comfortable in the open water before I can swim my best (although, still, that’s not particularly good).

Off for my follow-up massage in the afternoon, which went well as Kimmo eased out the remaining tightness in my left thigh – I hope that the remaining training runs won’t change that. Who knows if that’s sorted it but I’ve done what I can (I’m also stretching the ITB and everything else I can think of, other than the truth) so there’s little point worrying about it (but that won’t stop me).

Wednesday and Thursday were rest days but I laboured in the garden. On Friday I went to the gym – I’d planned to run a gentle 4km but overshot (how is it possible to overshoot on a treadmill?) and finished with 5km in 28:18. More importantly, the knee behaved itself well. The massages and stretching just might be doing the trick but I’m not getting too excited as, so often, it’s the hope that kills you.

The run was followed by some weights and then the stint in the bike shop. A short run (5.6km – 3.5 miles) with my wife on Saturday got me past the week’s 15km – legs still OK. Out to friends for an excellent supper on Saturday and to lunchtime drinks followed by an ‘open garden’ charity fund raiser in the village on Sunday.

A week of ups and downs for the legs – but more ups than last week so that must be some sort of progress.

… and Le Tour started with an individual time trial on Friday – great to have it back even if Geraint Thomas forgot to take off his gilet at the start of the ITT (what happened to the days of the ‘marginal gains’?).

100k corner (an occasional place for ultra news, worries and plans)

Race day has now appeared in the normal weather forecasts. On Tuesday, the forecast was for it to be dry, with sunny intervals, a moderate breeze (for which, read ‘headwind’) and temperatures of about 15℃ (59℉) for my 8:10am start, rising to 21℃ (70℉) before falling back to the starting temperature by midnight.

That would be pretty good but I’d prefer less wind or, even better, a 180° about turn. There’s plenty of time for it to change – for better or worse. On Wednesday the forecast maximum temperature was up to 25℃ (77℉) and the wind direction had moved through 90°. Perhaps I’ll ignore forecasts for another week.

With just one week to go and I have my race pack and can start to prepare kit and really begin to worry about how I am going to consume the 6.000 calories (or so) that I’m going to need. I have heard ultras described as eating and drinking competitions with a little bit of running thrown in.

I have no strategy beyond ‘one foot in front of the other’. I was more confident of finishing a couple of weeks ago, before the knee issues, but I’m going to give it my best shot and if that’s not good enough, I’ll live with it.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: One falsehood spoils a thousand truths

2. BBC News website: Woman suing rape crisis charity

The woman, who says she was raped in her 20s, stopped going to the charity’s support group sessions, shaving become uncomfortable sharing details of her past with the group after a transgender woman began attending the same meeting.

Her lawyers claim that by adopting a trans-inclusive approach – and not providing a session for women who were born female – the charity failed to meet the needs of all sexual violence victims.

She is bringing the case under the Equality Act, claiming indirect discrimination as well as victimisation and harassment. She said: “I think women have sex-based rights and protections and these are under threat at the moment from trans activism.”

While not, for a moment, detracting from the horror of rape, the importance of the support group or the difficulties posed by trans-gender issues, I do feel sorry for the charity apparently being caught between a rock and a hard place – and making the charity use its funds to defend her action could deprive others of the services she has valued so highly

3. BBC News website: … and we think we have it bad over petrol and diesel

On Monday, the Sri Lankan government said it will ban buying petrol and diesel for private vehicles until 10 July. Only buses, trains, and vehicles used for medical services and transporting food will be allowed to fill up. Schools in urban areas have shut and the country’s 22 million residents will work from home.

Sri Lanka is facing an economic crisis and is in talks over a bailout deal as it struggles to pay for imports such as fuel and food.

4. BBC News website: Airbnb permanently bans parties and events around the world

It struck me that this was a bit high-handed of Airbnb but it appears only to apply to homes let on its platform so your BBQ this weekend is OK

5. BBC News website: Covid infections are rising again across the UK

An estimated 2.3 million people or one in 30 has the virus – a rise of 32% on the week before, the rise is being driven by two new fast-spreading sub-variants of Omicron – called BA.4 and BA.5.

People can be infected even if they’ve had Covid before, but jabs are helping to protect against serious illness.

Just when I thought that my knee was the biggest threat to running the ultra …

6. The people of Oman don’t like The Flintstones but the people of Abu Dhabi do.

Swim, turbo, run x3 (1000km for 2022), gym, ride (plus pigeons, sloths and someone else’s wheels falling off)

It’s the first week of the taper to the ultra on 9 July – just 30km this week. After last Saturday’s bad run, my quads were still sore on Monday so I gave running a miss and booked a massage.

The swim doctor session on Monday evening was very good – 950m in a mixture of strokes and drills. It felt like the sea swimming in Corfu had helped a bit although it was, as ever, hard work.

Tuesday was my wife’s birthday but I managed to fit the massage in between a very good lunch in the garden of a riverside pub and chauffeuring her to and from a friend’s for drinks in the early evening.

The massage (my second ever) went well. ‘Kimmo’ is a very pleasant and interesting chap, originally from Finland but he spend 40 years in Canada. His diagnosis confirmed my guess that my quads were very tight/knotted and it was that which caused the hip and knee pain, by virtue of interaction with the iliotibial bands.

It’s exactly what I had 24 years ago when training for the 1998 London Marathon (my first). I suppose that if I go another 24 years before the problem arises again, I’ll have done well (but at 90, how will I know?).

I was trying to work out what might have caused the problem now, having done 17 weeks of training without any big hitches. His guess was that the muscles were getting tight and while the three treadmill runs in Corfu weren’t likely to have actually caused the problem, they probably did finish the job off.

Kimmo suggested not running on Wednesday but to give it a go on Thursday. With luck I still might be able to fit in this week’s 30km – but it won’t matter if I don’t. There isn’t too much running to be done over the next three weeks leading up to the ultra so I suppose I’ll only know for sure if it’s worked when I try the real thing.

As long as the issue can be sorted, I’ll be relieved that it happened now and not on the day of the ultra – I would have been a dnf if the race had been on last Saturday.

I fixed the puncture on the turbo trainer and had a (sweltering) spin on Wednesday (30 minutes @ 29.4kph – 18.3mph). I went for a run on Thursday. I was apprehensive but took it gently and the 13.5km (8.4 miles) took me through 1,000km for the year.

Everything had improved hugely since Saturday’s horror show but the left knee isn’t 100% right so it will need one more massage session – which I’ve arranged for next Tuesday. From despair on Saturday after the run, to optimism on Tuesday after the massage, to doubt now – this is getting very wearing.

My second run of the week was a hot 5km on Friday in the gym – left knee still protesting but if last week was 6/10 for pain, this was down to 4/10. There are five treadmills and only after I finished did I realise that I’d chosen one of the two not in the path of the breeze from the air conditioning unit. I did some weights (and stretching) before the usual stint in the bike shop.

On Saturday I took a turn leading the blue group for the cycle club. We have friends who have taken in two Ukrainian families and Lyn appeared with three 12 year old Ukrainian lads so I rode with them – 34.2km (21.2m). With stops for one puncture (good job I was there to fix it), a phantom puncture, two dropped chains, water, snacks, regrouping, undone shoe laces and rain, it didn’t exactly flow but it was still the most worthwhile ride I’ve done for years.

Final run of the week on Sunday – 13km (8 miles) to complete the week’s 30km. Right thigh, hip and knee all fine, left knee became unhappy after 6 km but down to 3/10 on the pain front. Once started, it didn’t get any worse so fingers crossed for Tuesday’s second massage.

Well, that was better than last week, with success for treatment for the right leg but the need to try again with the left. Until that’s sorted, I’m not really going to be able to relax about the ultra. I am, of course, a reformed character and will diligently stretch as if it’s going out of fashion (as long as I remember to do it).

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Only a wise person can solve a difficult problem

2. BBC News website: Pigeon fanciers say red tape having a devastating effect

Before Brexit, enthusiasts could release their birds in France to race back to the UK, but now Britain is outside the EU birds must now have an export health certificate before they can take part in trans-Channel races.

The certificate has to be signed by an approved vet after completing various tests like an examination of the birds and a check on transportation conditions.

Coo

3. BBC News website: Life in the slow lane

Sloths sleep for about 15 hours a day and move so slowly that algae grows on their fur, acting as a natural camouflage to hide them from potential predators. They move as little as 40m (130ft) a day and can spend up to a month digesting a meal.

They are most at risk on the ground, where they can take more than a minute to move two metres (6.5ft). As they need to leave the trees to go to the toilet, they have developed high-capacity bladders and rectums, which mean they can go for up to a week without having to answer the call of nature. Sloths are extremely good swimmers, their slow metabolism also means they can hold their breath for up to 40 minutes.

I may be part man, part sloth (apart from the bladder and the swimming)

4. BBC News website: 2,700 electric vehicles recalled

The recall comes less than two months after the car was launched in Japan. Toyota told the BBC that bolts on the bZ4X’s wheels “can loosen to the point where the wheel can detach from the vehicle” after “low-mileage use”.

A spokesperson added “If a wheel detaches from the vehicle while driving, it could result in a loss of vehicle control, increasing the risk of a crash”.

Those spokespersons certainly know a thing or two about the importance of car wheels

5. BBC News website: Strava tracks security personnel at secret bases in Israel

A disinformation watchdog has found that by uploading fake running “Strava segments” inside secret facilities, a user could learn the identities and past routes of people active in the area, even if they had the strongest privacy settings. Information about 100 individuals who exercised at six bases was viewable.

Used by more than 95 million people, Strava has a bit of previous – in 2018, the company published a global “heatmap” that revealed the exercise routes of people at military bases around the world, including US facilities in Syria and Afghanistan.

6. My uncle always said ‘Laughter is the best medicine’. He was a great guy – but not a very successful doctor.

Run (x4), swim, turbo, gym, plus birthday urinals and sexist worms

The Albert Monument, Kensington Gardens

I missed out on hill reps last week so I put that right on a warm Monday morning – 8 reps for 8.35km and 277m of ascent (5.2 miles and 910 feet), then the swim doctor session in the evening.

It was a hard swim session, thanks to a large number of drills requiring lengths on front, back and side, with leg kicks only. I think I am improving (slowly) but I’m still struggling to bring everything together at the same time. There are too many things to think about – which is at the heart of my problems as I am still needing to think about them, rather than doing them naturally.

After three consecutive days of running, my trip on Tuesday to our older son’s place in Kingston-upon-Thames came as a welcome break. There were three broken fence posts, each with its own challenge, but they’re now vertical with fence panels in place, and long may they be so.

I worked through lunch and as I stepped through the door at home in the evening we received an incredibly kind invitation for impromptu drinks for a friend’s birthday. Having eaten nothing I had some very nice nibbles with the drink and it’s helped me get my weight down to my cycling-up-mountains level of 66.4kg (146lbs, 10 stone 6). Sadly, my dream that the weights and swimming have put muscle on me is just a dream.

By the time it stopped raining on Wednesday I was past wanting to run so I opted for the turbo in the early evening – 45 minutes @28.7kph (17.8mph). After last week’s disaster, I found that it’s a lot easier with air in the rear tyre.

Originally there were plans to head for the lake and do the first open water swim of 2022 on Thursday afternoon but the rain and the cool weather had taken the water temperature back below 18℃ so I ducked out of that and ran in the morning with my wife – 7.5km (4.6 miles).

I still went to the lake in the afternoon while my friend swam. He assured me that the water was a very decent temperature so when I got home I checked with Strava and my blog entries for previous lake visits. I discovered that while I had 18℃ in mind as the acceptable cut-off temperature, our first lake session last year had actually been at 16.4℃ and had felt OK. Doh!

With slightly low mileage in the week, on Friday I got on the treadmill at the gym for 5km in 27 minutes, before dong some weights. That was followed by the bike shop session and yet more mowing in the afternoon.

On Saturday I drove my wife to Windsor where she was spending the day – and then on to the flat to make sure it was OK and take meter readings. Then I did the week’s long run for a bit of different scenery. I ran through Kensington Palace Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park, St James’ Park and along the Thames Path.

It was hot and crowded in places (walking pace around Buckingham Palace as various bits were shut off with temporary stands erected for the Jubilee celebrations). I should have taken some food and drink with me – but didn’t. In all, nearly 28 (very hard) kms (over 17 miles).

Happily, that run took me beyond the plan’s week’s target of 45km. I could have run on Sunday but have decided that a rest day is probably of more value, so will spend it doing domestic chores.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Truth should be in love and love in truth

2. BBC Newswebsite: Parasitic worms sucked into the gender bias row

A team of scientists scoured studies in eight journals published between 2000 and 2020. Around 2,900 species were discovered during that period but of the 596 species named after eminent scientists, only 111, or 19%, recognised women, according to the experts from New Zealand’s University of Otago.

I was wondering what to get my wife for her birthday

3. BBC News website: Ryan Reynolds gives Rob McElhenney commemorative urinal

The pair took over Wrexham Football Club (in Wales) in February 2021, investing £2m.

Reynolds cut a small red ribbon revealing a gold plaque with McElhenney’s face on it and popped a bottle of champagne to mark his gift on McElhenney’s birthday. A plaque was inscribed with his name and birthdate and has been placed above a urinal in a toilet block at the club’s ground.

This is real, I’m not taking the …

4. BBC News website: Religious work of art removed from an Italian basilica

The painting was given to the cathedral of Canosa in southern Italy, but caused controversy upon further inspection when a local priest and the businessman who commissioned the painting were found among the holy images.

5. BBC News website: This Friday was the 13th of May

Friday 13th is viewed as unlucky by many. The word for fear of the date is Paraskevidekatriaphobia.

Each calendar year will have a minimum of one Friday the 13th and a maximum of three. The date, of course, occurs in any month that begins on a Sunday.

Run (x4), swim, gym, (plus sports bras and quantum hair)

The Imelda Marcos of running

My wife’s car managed to acquire a screw in a tyre so some of Monday was spent faffing about getting it fixed – but a good excuse for a meandering 6km (3.7 mile) run to collect the re-shod car.

Back to the pool for my 6th swim doctor session in the early evening. It was another good and enjoyable session with a mix of swimming and drills – I swam another 1000m. We even began to practice tumble turns … I can hardly wait to try then in an open-water triathlon swim.

On Monday night I noticed two rather important things:

  • first, the event’s 20-week ultra training plan has a bit of a cut-back this week to end the first 4 week block,
  • second, using an over-ambitious 16 week plan for last year’s 50km, I ran 64km (40 miles) in week 3 and injured myself in week 4 so I couldn’t run for a month.

It felt like too much of a coincidence so I scaled back my plans for the week and ran for 10.2km (6.4 miles) on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday my friend and training partner phoned to tell me that he’d just tested positive for Covid. The chances are that he caught it at a meeting on last Wednesday or Thursday – most importantly, he is feeling fine.

I had driven us to both the gym on Friday and swimming on Monday (only 5 minutes each way) and he joined my wife and me for the (entirely outdoor) trip to the pop-up snack bar on Sunday.

I’m told that lateral flow tests don’t tend to give positive results until about 5 days after infection – but, typically, you are probably not infectious at all for the first 2 or 3 days. Indeed, a friend who has a senior position in the NHS says that the chances of passing Covid on while testing negative in the first 5 days after catching it, are small. My wife and I are feeling fine and probably haven’t caught it – I tested negative on Tuesday but I’ll keep testing.

It rained heavily on Wednesday. I would always prefer running outside to using a treadmill but I went to the gym and ran for 6.7km (4.2 miles), just to make it a bit easier for the long run to get me to 40km for the week.

A negative test on Thursday morning, so it was a trip to our older son’s house in Kingston-upon-Thames to help fix a springy floor (crumbled mortar beneath one of the bricks supporting the sill plate). It counts as a sort of rest day.

Friday, as ever, (and after another negative test) was the gym and the bike shop but it was a really nice day so I did the long run in the afternoon – just over 19km (12 miles). That’s the running done for the week as we have friends for Sunday lunch and others for Sunday evening and that means preparation on Saturday. I did manage to cut back – long run down from 25km last week and the weeks’ total down to 42km from 51km (26 miles from over 31 miles) – and no hills. My legs are thanking me for that.

Having been so smug at fitting it all in around the double entertaining on Sunday, our friends had to cancel their Sunday lunch visit after both testing positive for Covid. On that topic, I felt a bit off colour on Saturday morning … but tested negative. I lit the bonfire in the afternoon, I’m sure that smoke inhalation is a Covid deterrent.

Sunday was another very pleasant day but, very sadly, our friend continued to test positive (probably 10 days after catching it) so the evening went the same way as lunch already had. The house is very clean – the celeriac, leek, cannellini bean and artichoke heart gratin is going to take some eating but I’m just the man for the job.

100k corner (an occasional place for ultra news, worries and plans)

The first 4 weeks of the event’s 20-week training plan had 91km of running. I’ve done 189km and (with much crossing of things and touching of wood) am feeling OK.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: To be tall you need not necessarily climb a hill

2. BBC News website: Changes to ‘basket’ of goods used to assess UK cost of living

Changed behaviours due to Covid probably accounts for many of the changes, including the removal of men’s suits and doughnuts and the addition of tinned beans, meat-free sausages, pet collars, sports bras and crop tops.

Anti-bacterial wipes, as well as craft and hobby kits for adults, were included in the basket of goods for the first time but items such as atlas books or encyclopaedias, as well as coal, are out.

3. BBC News website: Black hole paradox solved by “quantum hair”

The paradox was the problem of making two key theories compatible – Einstein’s general theory of relativity says information about what goes into a black hole cannot come out, but quantum mechanics says that is impossible.

Scientists now say they have shown that the constituents of the star leave an imprint in the black hole’s gravitational field. The scientists named the imprint “quantum hair” because their theory supersedes an earlier idea called the “no hair theorem” developed in the 1960s.

Ah, just as I always suspected

4. BBC News website: A 100 year old juvenile

A post-mortem examination has revealed that a rare species of shark stranded in Cornwall was a 3.96m (13ft) long juvenile that could have been more than 100 years old. The Greenland shark is believed to be the longest living vertebrate, with some living up to 500 years.

5. Bravo Italy for winning in Cardiff to end a 36 game losing streak in the Six Nations Rugby Championship.

Gym (x2), short trial run, turbo, mechanic, 2nd jab, run(!)

I had thought about running on Monday but the cast of Les Miserables kept telling me “One more day” so I followed the advice and decided that, all being well, I’d try a run on the gym’s treadmill.

We entertained again on Monday evening after moving the gazebo from the garden and onto the driveway (hidden from the road) where the house would give it some shelter from the forecast 44mph (70kph) winds.

I’ll admit that it is slightly surreal, sitting in the pouring rain, eating and drinking in a gazebo on a block paved driveway just a two yards from the house – but in three weeks we will be allowed groups of up to six inside the house! Oh, be still my beating heart!

Gym on Tuesday – as with the certainties of life being death and taxes, the gym was cold and empty.

After the normal routine I decided try the treadmill. I will admit to bit of apprehension but it seemed sensible as it would offer a bit of ‘give’, promised a safe footing and would be easy to get off in the event of a problem. As it was, I did just a trial 1km which went OK but suggested that the knee might not be quite ready and has confirmed that I really do not like treadmills.

Wednesday saw no great reaction to Tuesday’s short run so I got on the turbo in the early evening – just 30 minutes at a little over 28kph (17.4mph). It was very hard so I need to keep it going to maintain the cardio fitness in the absence of running.

Gym again for an hour early on Thursday, still ‘hat and gloves cold’ but just to make me a liar there were up to 4 other people there at any one time.

Thursday was our younger son’s 29th birthday. It was a slightly muted celebration but at least we could go to a pub for lunch (outside, and rather cold) this time – last year he was by himself in his flat in London. He chose the evening meal – and like Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade, he chose ‘wisely’ by opting for Tartiflette.

Another cycle shop stint on Friday morning before a trip to the Kassam Stadium in Oxford for my second Covid vaccination (the UK has decided to have about 12 weeks between jabs). The process first time had been very slick and, other than a sore arm, had no side effects. This time the process was equally slick and (as of Sunday when I’m posting this) equally without side effects – and no sore arm.

Later on Friday my son and I put up (a third of) our marquee to enable the entertaining we had arranged for the weekend as the weather forecast suggested that the gazebo was not going to be man enough for the job. The whole marquee is 12m x 6m (nearly 40ft x 20ft) so I’ve found a way of cannibalising it to a more domestic size when we only have a group of 6. We hosted drinks in it on Saturday and Sunday nights – and they were very enjoyable.

On Sunday morning I ran for the first time in over 4 weeks (ignoring the 1km test on the treadmill). I just did our shortest regular run with my wife – 5.5km and took it gently. Monday will reveal the results of this particular experiment.

Most surprisingly, the high mileage I ran in the first 4 weeks of training (which I’m fairly sure caused the knee problem) means I am still (almost) exactly on track with the mileage on the training plan on the event website. That won’t last as I’m not going to try to up the mileage too quickly.

 Target Plan My Actual
Week 8: Miles (Km) 17 (27) 4 (6.5)
‘Running’ Totals 125 (202) 124 (200)
Week 8, Ultra Marathon training (with rounding)

Interesting stuff this week

1.African wise words: Don’t shelter under the banana plant then cut it down when the rains ends

2. BBC News website: Shopper spends six years using each spot at supermarket

A man from south-east London made his weekly supermarket shop “less mundane” by parking in every one of the 211 available spaces, a challenge he took six years to finish.

“For the last six years I’ve kept a spreadsheet listing every parking spot I’ve used at the local supermarket in a bid to park in them all,” he tweeted.

I was thinking he’s a man who needs to get out more – but perhaps it would be better to keep him inside

3. BBC News website: Japanese town builds giant squid statue with relief money

A seaside town in Japan reportedly used 25m yen ($228,500; £164,700) of funding from an emergency Covid-19 relief grant to build a giant statue of a squid.

The town received 800m yen ($7.3m; £5.3m) through the national grants, which were intended as an emergency economic boost to help regional areas affected by the pandemic, reports Yahoo Japan.

Officials have told local media it is part of a long term plan to lure tourists back after the pandemic.

4. BBC News website: Shark attack survivor to keep tooth left in surfboard

An Australian surfer lost his leg and was in a coma for 10 days after he was attacked in 2015. The shark’s tooth was embedded in his board, but State rules ban people from possessing parts of protected species (which include sharks).

Now the state has granted him an exemption, and he’s keeping the tooth as a “souvenir”. He said “The shark isn’t getting its tooth back [and] I’m not getting my leg back.”

5. BBC News website: China mystery animal box craze causes outrage

The “blind box” craze which sees people order a box containing an animal that is then sent to them through the post has caused outrage in China after 160 cats and dogs were located inside a courier company’s truck, many distressed and some dead.

According to Chinese law the transportation of live animals is prohibited, but “blind boxes”  are increasingly popular, state media reports. A range of the boxes containing animals such as tortoises, lizards and rats have been reported for sale on various websites.

Confusing lessons from the marathon training so far: Right, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, right for the wrong reason, and wrong.

✔ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ? ✖

Learning from the marathon training so far (all 3 weeks of it):

1. Right – my guess that a sad consequence of ageing is slower recovery. After 52 miles on the bike on Saturday and 7.5 miles running on Sunday, Monday’s 5 mile run was harder than the speed should have suggested

2. Wrong – I thought my weight would sort itself out quickly once I increased the miles a bit. Sampling a range of possible dishes for last Friday’s dinner party, the dinner party itself and eating left-overs since have given the lie to that notion for the time being

3. Wrong – I though that, at least, I’d be good at rest days and I discover I’m even bad at them – taking a maximum of one a week instead of two

4. Wrong – I thought the speed for a sub 4 hour marathon would be OK but that the endurance would be the problem. I’m not sure about the endurance but it looks like the speed is going to be a bit of an issue

5. Wrong – I thought it would be getting easier, but it isn’t. I know the Greg LeMond ‘It never gets easier; you just go faster’ quote – but I’m not yet getting noticeably faster either

6. Wrong – I thought I couldn’t run on consecutive days because of the Achilles tendons – but I did manage it

7. Right for the wrong reason? – I thought I shouldn’t yet run on consecutive days because of the Achilles tendons … it’s right that I shouldn’t, but it’s probably more because of simple lack of recovery time rather than the tendons

8. Wrong – I thought that, as a rational person, I would be taking sensible decisions, but:

  • having identified the need for more rest and recovery time, and not running on consecutive days, and
  • having cycled on Saturday and run on Sunday and Monday ….

…. I ran on Tuesday morning (10.64km – 6.6km).

In my defence, the rest of the day was spent at a fine lunch for 18 former work colleagues, hosted by a friend, so it would otherwise have been a complete bust (or ‘rest day’ as more sensible people might call it).

With Wednesday off and Thursday for a gym session, I’ll be ready for my long slow run at the end of the week … or that’s the theory.

Marathon Training Week 3: turbo, run, gym, run, cycle, run – “I don’t know what I’m doing*”

Coffee stop at Coln St Aldwyns in Gloucestershire

I had planned to run on Monday but it was very wet and I’m a bit of a fair weather runner. I have been slacking in my personal trainer duties recently so when my wife said she would run on Tuesday, I decided that I would run with her. Accordingly, it was on the turbo early Monday evening – 21.7km in 45 minutes @29kph (13.53m @!8mph).

On Tuesday, it dawned on me that a good way to do the week’s long slow run would be by simply carrying on for a while after my wife stopped. It worked well (benefitting from the extra day’s rest from running) and I ran for 14.56km (9.05 miles against a target of 8) at a proper ‘long slow run’ pace. It felt pretty easy aerobically but the right Achilles nagged and both quads complained a bit.

As a result, and happily unencumbered by any knowledge, I decided to increase the reps and take a bit of weight off the leg exercises when I went to the gym for an hour on Wednesday. It all felt OK although I arrived with a few aches and pains from Tuesday’s run.

I’m sure I haven’t yet plumbed the depths of the disadvantages of advancing years but a reduced speed of recovery seems to be one of them.

It was back to the gym on Thursday with my usual gym companion. As I’d been there the previous day I decided to use the treadmill and ran for one of the training plan’s required 4 milers – 6.5km at just over 4 hour marathon pace.

It’s been a long time since I did any distance on a treadmill and it brings home how much of running is in the mind. When I run loops on the road, it’s soon easier to carry on rather than turn back – and stopping is rarely convenient. On the treadmill it is always a tempting – and attractively easy – to slow down or stop. I had to dig fairly deep to push on for the whole of the planned run.

It leaves me unsure about using the treadmill – it’s easy to control pace, the footing is safe, the weather isn’t a factor (apart from a hot gym feeling a bit like a sauna) – but it’s boring and mentally tough. It’s noticeable that I’ve done over distance on all my other runs – but I stopped this one promptly!

Perhaps I’ve found the one place where I’d be tempted to use headphones but for now I’ll leave the treadmill for the times when it’s the only sensible way to get a run in.

I took Friday as a rest day – but we had friends for supper in the evening. That meant a late night which wasn’t great as I was on duty as sweep for one of the club’s rides on Saturday morning. It was breezy and a couple of degrees cooler that I’d have liked (probably just under 50℉ – 10℃). I wouldn’t have gone if I hadn’t been ‘on duty’.

I was also caught by some rain for the last 15 minutes – but I enjoyed it and was pleased to be useful. I stayed at the back – more sheep dog than cyclist – occasionally towing stragglers back to the group. We had a very good 84km (52 miles) taken at a comfortable speed, with 733 metres of climbing (2,400 feet). The only downside from the whole ride was finding out Pat’s very unfavourable views on the Rotterdam Marathon – stemming from her run at it 10 years ago in 35℃ (95℉). 

I ran with on Sunday morning for 12.25km (7.59miles) so I had 6 days of exercise, completing the week’s full training plan (with the turbo replacing the running intervals again) plus the Saturday ride as a spare.

Three weeks into the training and so far so good. I’ve not missed a session, even though they haven’t been done at the right times or exactly at the right speeds – and with the interval runs being replaced with tough turbo sessions to protect the dodgy achilles tendons. In fact, I’ve usually managed more than the programme requires and have only taken one rest day a week, instead of two. That’s felt OK so far but I guess I’ll be taking both as the mileage increases.

The right Achilles is still playing up but not getting worse and (whisper it very quietly) it might actually be improving.

Week Run Cycle Gym
1 16.1 m  (25.9km) 9.8 m  (15.8km)  2:00
2 18.5 m  (29.8km) 13.3 m  (21.5km) 2:00
3 20.7 m (33.25km) 65.8 m (105.9km) 1:00
  ‘Running’ totals 55.3 m (89.0km) 88.9 m (143.2) 5:00

*A familiar chant at UK football grounds (usually directed at the referee) is “you don’t know what you’re doing”. My favourite use of this was when a fan proposed to his girlfriend on the pitch at half-time and, spontaneously, the crowd chanted “you don’t know …”