Monday, January 31, 2011

Hot And Very Spicy

My veggie sweet and sour. I've decided I need to start cooking with healthier, fresh ingredients. To be fair I need to start cooking period. Man cannot live off processed food alone - better with someone else... And in these harsh economic times it's going to work out cheaper as well going by how much I spent. Win win.

Anyway, I deviated slightly from the plan today. Instead of the rower, I managed to get out for a run instead - that's a deviation I can live with. The old Dundry route with Martin.

My calf is still sore so I took it steadyish. Probably just the quicker side of average. Not bad under the circumstances. Even without the soreness I don't think I would have gone massively quickly. I feel a bit fatigued.

I took it steady on the bike session tonight. And now I rest. Aiming for an early night...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pure Green

Seem to have picked a flippin' cold. Not that it'll hold me back. No, it's the sore calf doing that. As a professional athlete I've got to manage my training schedule so as to minimise down time. Don't think it's anything major but no point in risking it. Been a good training week, be silly to derail things now.

To mimise the stress on my sore calf I put in a two hour bike session. It wasn't too bad if a bit boring towards the end but a good workout never the less. Mind you, it's not quite as good as a run in the mountains and the weather today looked bloody great. There would have been some fantastic views from the tops today. I'm a bit sad and more than a little jealous of anyone who did get to the mountains today. But I need to be sensible. End of.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Malvern Along

Another fine run. Fifteen gloriously hilly Miles along the Malvern Hills. Totaling somewhere near 4000 feet of ascent. Gert, flippin' lush.

I can feel myself getting stronger. I ran the entire way out - never managed that before. I ground out the climbs and dug deep on the steep bits. And it's always a buzz to overhear the surprise of people voicing amazement that you're running up the steep bits. That in itself helps keep you motivated all the way to the top - can't stop to walk after someone goes and says something like that. Then on the way back there were only two of the ascents which brought me to a walk and of those I was two thirds of the way up before I had to capitulate. All in all that has to be my strongest run on the Malverns. Probably my strongest of the year so far if I'm honest. I ran more of the route than I ever have before.

I must make sure I get over there more often. It's a brilliant place to run. You get a reasonably long run with the benefit of a hill session built in - bargain.

Well, can't stop I've got to finish with an hour on the bike warm down. Been another good day.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Almost But Not Quite

Woke up this morning, throat felt as rough as a gerbils armpit. Didn't feel unwell. Still don't. Reckon it was down to yesterday's wicked wind chill. As a precaution, since the chill wind was almost, well, as chilling, I gave the lunch run a miss. Tonight's bike and 5k row went off as planned. So the day's not be a total loss.

The time on the bike gave me time to think where to run tomorrow. And I came up with the Malvern Hills. Haven't been there for ages so quite looking forward to it. Just hope its a little warmer.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Heavenly Rays

What a glorious day for twenty miles and 6,000 feet of ascent in the mountains. It was cold though. Bloody cold. I had to wear my balaclava - but it's ok, not for anything sinister, just to keep out the cold - that's my story and I'm sticking to it - that and the fact that the mountains were packed with soldiers.

There was snow in the air all day but best of all the visibility was good. All in all, excellent conditions for a recce of the South Wales Traverse. I was able to take a good look around as I ran. I've never been as far west in the Black Mountains as I ventured today so it was great to get such a clear day to start familiarising myself with the area. And every now and then the clouds parted and for the briefest of moments I was bathed in glorious sunshine from up above. Heavenly.

Thoroughly bloody knackered now. Back home but not putting my feet up just yet. Got an ease down hour on the bike happening right now - and then it'll be feet up time. Been a good, good day. Onward and upwards, yeah baby, yeah!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Feet Up At Last

Ok, I admit it. I deviated from the plan. Only managed the bike tonight. The row didn't happen but perhaps that's no bad thing. You see I've a day off tomorrow so I'm heading over to the western side of the Black Mountains. I wonder what I'll be getting up to? Let's be honest, it's probably not difficult to guess. The weather looks about as good as can be expected for January so it should be good. The first of my Traverse recces. Oops, cat out of the bag. Aiming for around twenty miles. And so it begins...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Close Call

As I crossed the line I wasn't sure whether I had edged inside 20 minutes or not. My first Bridge Inn 5k for a few months and it didn't feel quick. All I wanted to do was push sub twenty. My legs felt tons better than yesterday so the bike session and row last night were a help not a hindrance. Still didn't feel what one could call sharp and my left calf was sore. I started in the in the middle of a large field - that's, field of runners not just in the middle of some random field. My plan was to put one foot in front of the other as quickly as I could - now that's what I call a plan.

By midway I was fortunate to find myself in a small pack of runners and we worked well, pushing each other - but not actually pushing each other. I continually drifted off the back of the group only to redouble my effort to catch back up but as we reached the final kilometre I was spent and they got away from me. I continued as best I could to the end but the way my pace felt - and we're talking slow - as I crossed the line and stopped my watch I feared to look.

I needn't have worried though, because the bloody watch had ballsed up royally so I had no idea which side of twenty minutes I was. Great, bloody great. Martin from work, on the other hand, knew exactly how fast he'd run. Another PB! Congrates.

So now I eagerly await the official results. I am on tenterhooks - what the f@^k are they, by the way? - answers on a postcard....

And there in, the results are in - that was quick. OMG, I only went and edged it didn't I. On dodgey, achy legs I only went and ran my fastest time for over eighteen frickin months! The last time I ran quicker was back in April 2009. Tonight, Matthew, I ran 19:12 - still shit compared to what I was once capable of, I know, but so totally unexpected, and it really didn't feel like a nineteen twelve. I am so totally back on the road again, just can't wait to get on the road again...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sod The Rest Day

I was going to take a rest day today seeing as it's the Bridge Inn 5k race tomorrow night. But since my legs are fully bolloxed there doesn't seem a lot of point. I'm not going to be capable of running a quick one so might as well crack on with the training. Still going to race tomorrow but it'll be more tempo run than race. Be good training though and be good to show my face. I've been a bit awol from helping out with the race organisation these last sixth months...

Anyway, I did the usual sixty on the bike, a 15 minute 3500m row followed by the ab and chest workout. Cue feet up with chippy chips, veggie sausages and veggie veg - is there any other kind of veg? Tootle pip.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Didn't Quite Go The Distance

But considering I almost didn't go run at all, twenty miles is better than zero.

So why the almost no show? Well, It didn't feel much at the time but I took a tumble yesterday by control thirteen. I spotted it in a dip while piling along slightly to its right. My attempted sudden change of direction didn't happen as I hit an icy patch. Came a right pearler. Sliding along my left side. Straight up and on I didn't really give it another thought. This morning, however, was a different story. Left leg pretty achy. Hence the reason I down graded to twenty miles and I kept it flattish with only 2000 feet of ascent.

Glad I got out there though. Lovely conditions, if a little boggy in places. The leg held up all right and I was round in two hours forty five. Finishing off with an ease down half hour on the bike. Been a good weekend, if a little quiet. Might crack open a bottle of wine later...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Not Quite How I Had Envisioned It...

In truth, it was what can only be described as 'a piss poor effort'. My first proper route class orienteering race - not sure of the official terms, but my first one where there is a route of check points or 'controls', as I'm told they're called, to follow. It did not go anywhere close to how I thought it would. I was, quite literally a disgrace to all fell runners everywhere. I hang my head in shame. I, in no way, upheld the honour of fell running - I only hope I don't get excommunicated from the fra.

It all started brilliantly - I found the start - but from there it was all downhill. There were multiple courses available on entry ranging from easy (beginner) to rock hard (someone who knows what they're doing) - can you guess which I chose, me being a cocky sod? You'd have thought, being my first time, I'd plump for the easy end of the spectrum, but oh no, not I - nobber.

The blue course (hardest) consisted of twenty one check poi, scratch that, controls. Each control is numbered and you have to make sure you don't stick your dibber - stop it - in the wrong hole - I said, stop it. So it can be confusing when you come across one that isn't on your route. Also, as the difficulty of the course increases the controls are more and more hidden. You almost end up checking under every goddam stone to see if the bloody thing is hiding there.

Anyway, less of all the talk of rules and regulations. Basically my course was 8km long and if I was running a marked route it would have taken me thirty five to forty minutes. Suffice to say, it took me a bloody sight longer. Quoting from the good book of Tony, FFS it took me forty five minutes just to find control number one! Some perspective on that, the winner only took forty one minutes for the entire bloody thing. And with a three hour cut off I almost packed it in on account of having no sodding chance of making it round. But I've never not finished a race I've started and I didn't intend to start then.

Slowly I managed to acclimatise to the stupidly high scale map - I'm used to OS Explorer and the orienteering map is a much higher scale so it puts all your timings out and the contours become much more detailed. What, on the OS map, would be contour-less and flat is filled with bloody millions of tiny contours on the orienteering map. All very confusing to a beginner.

So having eventually got to grips - partially to grips - with the map I started to get into the swing of it. It took me another twenty one minutes to get to control four so it was still looking doubtful I'd get round. But then it kind of all clicked into place. I got into the grove of the distances and timings and I was off. Controls five, six, seven and eight were ticked off in rapid succession. Nine was tricky, hidden amongst a myriad of tiny dimples and bumps. Ten was equally hidden. Mind you, it would help if I knew what all the control symbols meant, as the little icons in the instructions show you the way the control is hidden, ie in a dip, behind vegetation, on a rise, stream crossing etc. Knowing where to look would probably help a little - I'll have to do some homework to find out the meanings of the icons.

Then I was onwards to eleven through nineteen in pretty quick order. Twenty was a bit of a faff as there were bloody hundreds of clumps of gorse - I had learnt the symbol for vegetation from a previous control so knew where to look, clever eh? No, didn't think so. And I got my bearing slightly wrong towards twenty one but didn't lose too much time. From there it was just a short run in to the finish.

In all I took just outside two hours and I ended up clocking 16km instead of the optimum 8km - bonus mileage - toot toot. The most annoying thing though is that I took more time to complete controls one to four than the entire rest of the course. If the course had started at four I might have done well.

So as I write this post and reflect - and despite an extremely poor showing - it was a bloody fun day out. And you can mark my words, 'I'll be back'...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Knackered On Plan

It's been another day to the plan. Well, almost. I did the hour on the bike. I did the ab crunches and press ups. I even managed the row. So where did it all go so terribly wrong? I only did a 2000m session on the rower not the scheduled 5000m - woe is me, woe I tells ya.

Still, it's not the end of the world - as we know it. Or is it? With the weather patterns changing, floods, snow storms, glacial flow south of Birmingham, heat waves - yet to see those yet - plagues of locust, are we all doomed? Well if we are I hope it's not before Butlins in June!

Seriously though, the training plan is proving to be a real boon. I just wish I'd written one years ago - think of how the six pack would look today if I had?...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Race...

I know you're not supposed to when out training but sometimes - read most of the time - we blokes get competitive. What starts off as a steady paced run doesn't end that way.

It was a fantastic day for it - wasn't bad for running either - matron. Martin and I set out on the normal Dundry loop at noon and the pace soon edged upwards. As we passed the common the pace was still steady. There were still a few patches of ice on the ground so we had to be careful. By the time we hit the first part of the hill, unbelievably, I was leading. That hasn't happened, well, ever! It stayed that way as the incline increased. As we approached the top Martin began to edge back to me. Then I hit a patch of ice, took a few strides on the spot, and Martin shot into the lead and disappeared over the top. I followed a few metres behind - in my quickest ever time to the top. From there Martin normally piles it on down the other side - but not today.

I came back. And came back strong. By the bottom I was 20 metres clear and flowing. It felt easy. I felt relaxed. Possibly the best I've ever felt on the Dundry run. Could I possibly make it home first? The answer to that came a few minutes later...

But it didn't go in my favour. Martin came back at me and suddenly 'feeling great' turned to 'hanging in there'. I didn't collapse, Martin just pulled out his reserves - ooh er misses. I finished in 30:10, twenty seconds quicker than my previous quickest and that was including a bit of slipping on the ice. I might not have finished first but I gave him a scare.

Tonight, I deviated from the training plan - but in a good way - I put in an hour on the bike as a bonus extra. Yep, it's been a good day.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Followed The Plan

For once. Yep, I managed to complete all the items on my plan. I think it might just be the saving of me. And I think that statement might be a bit dramatic. An hour on the bike but tonight I notched it up a level. Then there was the 2000m row followed by 100 situps, 60 push ups and ten pull ups. All done and now, at half nine I rest.

Failed to get out for the lunch run on Tuesday so Martin and I have rescheduled for tomorrow. And then on the weekend, all being well, I'm off orienteering again.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Well That Went To Plan

NOT. I managed to start filling in the details of my South Wales Traverse training plan - only for it to fall at the first hurdle. But the plan will rise. The plan must not fail. It cannot fail and nor, for the sake of humanity and all that is good in the world, must I [wipes brow].

I managed part of the training though. Namely an hour on the bike, the ab crunches and push ups, but not the row. There's only so much time in the day. Work went on longer than planned and after a long day, made it home by seven. Hence the reduced work out.

Let's hope the plan is followed more closely in the coming days and weeks...

Saturday, January 15, 2011


24 soggy kilometres. Done, and that's the main thing. Blowing a gale here but it is easing. Now I just need to chill and cool down for a bit before I hit the prep for tonight's session - partying not more exercise. Gonna be boogeying on down...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Squeak Squeak

Yes, let's get it out in the open, I wimped on the lunch run. It was pissing down - and I didn't want to get my hair wet - yeah, likely. No, the rain just plain put me off. Tonight I cycled my way to sixty minutes on the bike and then floated my way over the water for an 8 minute 2000m row.

Whatever the weather throws at me tomorrow I must run - and run long. Got to be 15 miles plus. Anything less will not be good enough on account of just not training enough but more importantly a lack of desire to really commit to the traverse. I need to show myself I want it. No good just saying it. I need to put up or shut...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Where Did The Day Go

I was hoping to get out for a lunch run today but I was in a meeting. Oh well, there's always tomorrow...

Tonight I houred the bike - I think I've invented a new verb there. I is a gert illiterate genius! Legs are feeling heavy, very heavy. But I'm feeling fit.

I'm out on the piss on Saturday night so I've planned a long run for the morning. Now when I say planned, what I really mean is, I need to run a long one. Haven't actually planned anything. I won't be heading to the mountains though, as I don't want to lose the time getting there and back - I'm going to be on strict schedule. I'll head out from home and see where it takes me. There's a hill fort yonder Huntley way I espied on the map so I might head over that way. Whatever route I choose I need to be to foot for at least two hours. Nothing less will do and really it needs to be much longer. All important though, I must be up early to avoid letting the run slip.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Back To School

Well not exactly but I was on a training course and will be for the next five Wednesdays. Everyone in the department has to complete the City & Guilds 2382-10 17th Edition Wiring Regulations course. Can't wait for the exam at the end of it - I love exams, whoo hoo - not.

On the exercise front it was a 5000m row session. I'm quickly getting the hang of it. I out paced my first session by loads. In fact, I wasn't far off the pace of my 2000m session. The buzz of chasing times, upping the effort to bring down the pace by mere tenths is brill - I'm not right!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Case Of The Munchies

Been a funny day. Work was OK. Commute was good. But I wasn't in the mood for it. I missed the lunch run - work, what's one to do? From then on it was all downhill. I managed and hour on the bike but it was hard to focus. After that I got a case of the munchies - and a real bad case. Still, it's nothing I can't recover over the couple of days...

Monday, January 10, 2011

The SS Longhope

With the rain pouring down outside, an after work run had sod all chance of materialising. So on arrival home, a quick change later and food for the squeaking cat - yes, she is a right demanding bitch - I hopped on... the bike - I'm not ready for a long work out on the SS Longhope just yet so I bashed out sixty to pedal power. With that out the way I then went for a row. A 2000m session. Faster paced than yesterday's session on account of shorter distance - but still not near my potential. Need to keep my feet on the ground and not get too carried away - at least not too quickly. Even after such short rows today and yesterday I can feel some aching in my shoulders and arms. I'm on my way to total fitness. And I've even got a lunch run booked for tomorrow, fingers crossed the weather keeps off.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Maiden Voyage

of the good ship Concept 2. My legs are not great today but I have to be honest, I was expecting them to feel a lot worse - I guess that's for tomorrow.

I decided I'd go for a steady 5000m on the rower. It's been years - literally - since my last stroke on the concept 2 and I only have vague memories of what I was able to pull - stop it. Rather than go hammer and tong, I took it steady and averaged 2 mins 16.8 seconds per 500m for the distance. That is a lot slower than I used to go, that I know for sure. It does give me something to row against next time though because you're able to race previous performances. As I complete different distances and times I can re-race them and slowly but surely - don't call me shirley - increase my performances. That is one of the best things about the concept 2 - apart from the total body workout of course. It's been good to get re-acquainted.

I finished off today's workout with forty minutes on the bike. The big question is, will my legs be capable of running tomorrow? Anyone care to guess?

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Today I Have Been Mostly Running

At just under seven hours - yes, you read correct - that pretty much most of the day. In fact, I took my head torch because the last hour or so was in the dark. Made navigation fun across the fields, foot paths and the forest. Still I mostly knew my way on that last section. Made it home safe and sound.

So, to expand a little. I raced over at Monmouth this afternoon. A short race up to the Kymin with lovely views over Monmouth. Just over 4 miles and 1,200 feet of ascent. OK, so that didn't take me close to seven hours - that was a mere 37 minutes. No, it was the 16 miles with 2,600 feet of ascent from home to Monmouth - and then of course, the 15 miles with 2,800 feet of ascent back home afterwards. I like to keep my carbon footprint down. Why the difference, that would be down to taking slight detours here and there.

Total mileage today, 35 miles!!!! 6,600 feet ascent. I am a little knackered. Time for pizza.....

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Last Day Of The Week

Whooo hoooo. Yep, that's me done for the week. It's not a duvet day tomorrow, more a delivery day. Anyway, tonight I hopped aboard old faithful for an hours grind - nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Didn't feel the power tonight - no, that's nothing to do with Phil Taylor or darts, thank you very much.

Going to rest up completely tomorrow. No run. No bike. On second thoughts, there might be a quick ten minutes on the new Concept2 - provided the predicted snow doesn't bugger the delivery - in which case the Mad Runner could be just plain mad. Fingers crossed. Apart from that and baring those potential issues - and the possbile ten minutes - it will be a day of complete rest. I've got a beauty planned for Saturday but I'm keeping sshtum in case it doesn't happen.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Running Out Of Steam

The lunch run did happen. The rain did not deter us - I almost wish it had. I was so slow - three snails and a tortoise overtook me on the hill. I almost stopped - and squashed the bastards.

Still, I'm pleased I didn't give up. And with so many early miles completed this week, and most of those far exceeding my runs during the last few years, I mustn't grumble. So long as I don't break down I'll keep clocking up the miles.

And to that end, it's another half hour on the bike - the battle goes on.....

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Feet Up

Been a mentally tiring day at work. All this project management malarchy and work politics makes me cross in a 'FFS' kind of way. I guess my job will be moving projecty managementy from now on but at the moment it's not my bag. Still, I pride myself on being able to turn my hand to pretty much anything - so I guess we'll see if pride comes before a fall....

The commute home wasn't too bad and I've bagged an hour on the bike. Strictly feet up from now on - and no, that's not a new tv show. The lunch run is booked for tomorrow but the route is still to be chosen.

This week is headed towards bring my highest mileage week of the year so far.......

Monday, January 03, 2011

Bloody Death Trap

They should put a health warning on that damn Offa's Dyke, the section that runs through the Black Moutains. It was like a flaming ice rink - I didn't know whether to try and run across it or skate. But it does give me an idea for the Dragons Den.....

Anyway, after a late start which saw me very nearly giving it a miss - I awoke with a stiff neck and thought sod it, it's only one run. But that's the kind of attitude that got men killed. So after a bit of rushing around, planning the route and getting my kit together I made it over to Llantony on schedule - although the gps took me up one shitty little lane that almost put an end to the whole shebang before it started as the lane got narrower and narrower and less road and more track to the point where I thought the car wouldn't fit - but it did. Once parked up, I donned my running garb and headed out.

I'm so glad I made it - I feel a song coming on... on second thoughts. The views from the top were amazing. You could see for miles. Snow was lying - snow, on snow - for almost the entire run once you got a hundred metres above Llantony. It was lovely for the most part. Made running difficult on the usually sodden sections though, as the ground was rutted and frozen. Still, what doesn't break your ankles, strengthens them. The only slightly disappointment was the final 10k along Offa's Dyke. It was just so completely icy for half of it that running was impossible - just staying off your arse on the ice was pretty darn difficult - but I managed it, though there were one or two moments...

In all I covered 28km - that's about 17.5 miles, in old money - and just under 3,000 feet of ascent. A descent run, completed in a time just outside three hours, which in the circumstances wasn't too bad.

So I've managed to get 2011 off to a cracking running start with just under forty miles completed in the first three days. Brilliant.

Today's route:-

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Bloody iPhone Alarm

Ok, I'll admit it, I haven't got an iPhone so I can't blame the bug in its software. The reason my alarm didn't go off until nine was that I forgot to set it - can't think for the life of me why I would have forgotten to set it? Strange.

Anyway, it didn't go off till nine and that meant I couldn't get over to the 7 Sins race in time. That was a shame as I'm sure there would've been a goodly number of Chepstvians to race against. And another thing, why 10am, that's far too uncivilised a time of day to prepare for. We fell runners don't normally race till two in the afternoon - an imminently more sensible time of day. Come on race organisers, think of us lazy bastards for once...

Legs weren't really up to it today anyway. So instead I did a bit of diy and installed a couple of curtain tracks in the gym to try and ward off the cold. During the last cold snap I could feel the heat being sucked from the house via the french windows. I'll be well prepared for round two of the cold snap of doom. After that I hit the bike for sixty before retiring to the sofa from where I pen this. Going to kick back with a book in a while and then chippies for dinner...

Saturday, January 01, 2011

It Started With A Win

Never thought it would come to this...

OK, not exactly a 'win' but I did win a couple of bars of chocolate for 8th place in my very first orienteering competition. I'm well pleased. It's the first time I've ever won anything running related. To be fair I had some major help from Pat W and Sasha. Didn't have a clue what all the symbols on the instruction sheet meant but who cares, I had a blast. Bloody brilliant fun - for those that count running your guts out for an hour as fun.

In all I covered about 8.5km and 1,000 feet during the event. I say, 'during the event' because I also covered 13km and 1,200 feet of ascent on the run from my house to the start, at Mallards Pike, and then I also covered another - can you guess? - 13km and 1,200 feet of ascent running back home again. So I've kicked off the new year with 34.5km and 3,400 feet of ascent. So far - and we are only 14 hours in - 2011 has been bloody brilliant!!!