Category Archives: Treadmill

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 …”