Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Noises off


For a change I didn't have my mp3 player on today - went over to Bowthorpe marshes for the usual circuit. It was a lovely spring day, I was enjoying the birds singing and the ducks quacking and the lambs across the river bleating... and then a pony I was running past farted really loudly. For a few minutes I couldn't run for laughing (as opposed to the usual situation of couldn't run for toffee).

Still feeling very stiff from Monday, I deliberately went out for a plod, and achieved my aim. 3.8 miles in 40 mins. But a slow run and a laugh were probably just what the doctor ordered :)

Photo: #98/365 by crumpart, on Flickr

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Catching up

Two of Arts - 2000 Visual Mashups
Sunday: a little swim and a little lounge in the jacuzzi, giving a few tips to Rom to help improve his swimming for Waveney. He's currently on 11 minutes, let's see how he does on the day! A little R&R was certainly on the cards, Saturday's 330m of climb also involved, let's not forget, 330m of descent, something my glutes are keen to remind me about every time I move.

Monday: double the fun, or should that be double trouble. A lunchtime gym trip (the usual, but swapping lateral lift out and shoulder press in, and moving up to stepped lunges rather than static) so as to leave myself free to help with the beginners' running session later. Except I wasn't needed on the run 1/walk 1 session and instead chaperoned new youngster Chloe on her first club run and longest ever at 34 minutes. We didn't quite make 10 min miles (3.2 miles in the 34 mins) but she was pleased and, given my lunchtime efforts, I was too!

Tuesday: feeling pretty stiff and sore today, but dragged myself off to the pool and managed 250m warm up, 8x75m max (1:25, 1:28, 1:27, 1:25, 1:28, 1:30), 200m drills, 4x50m sprint (55, 58, 56, 55), and 250m cool down to make 1500m total. Surprised at how good the times were considering how I felt, especially around my core. Since I worked out how to do russian twists properly, my obliques certainly feel it the next day.

Photo: Two of Arts - 2000 Visual Mashups by qthomasbower, on Flickr

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Something different

Friday saw us in Preston for a wedding. Having had no time to do anything on Thursday (thanks to travelling), I squeezed in 4 miles first thing, choking for the first 5-10 minutes on fumes from the M6 and the traffic held up by nearby roadworks - I forget how clean and fresh Norfolk air is! Just under 10-min miles, which is not bad given the initial effects on my lung capacity.

On Saturday, after only a slight (cough) diversion en route from Preston to the Peaks (who knew the M60 just magically turned into the M62 and whisked you off to Huddersfield with no warning?), we met up with Emma and Rom at the Fairholmes car park of Ladybower/Derwent reservoirs, and went off for this walk. Total: 8.5 miles, 330m of climb, a chilly wind, and a blister. Day-old sandwiches (sorry, barms) hit the spot too. They were bought from local sandwich shop in Grimsargh that I'd spotted on my run, and intended to stave off any hunger pangs before the late-afternoon wedding breakfast, but were so northernly huge that we had no more than a couple of bites. After 330m they were absolutely delicious, although not quite as good as the burger in the pub that evening...

The photo's not mine, although I took a couple - will drag them off the camera later.

Photo: Back Tor (SK1991) by ron layters on Geograph

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

If you go down to the woods today...

Blackthorn at Otmoor're sure to end up completely knackered.

No, it doesn't really work, does it? Nor do my legs, now.

It was just too beautiful not to get out today, even though I had to squish a run in between a course and a seminar, which left me sitting in said seminar in my hi-vis pink top, with hi-vis pink cheeks and sweaty hair, eating my lunch and trying very unsuccessfully to be inconspicuous.

I did what turned out to be 3.5 miles with Alice, taking in as much nature and general greenery around campus as possible. The blackthorn blossom is out in abundance along the hedgerows and in the more open bits of the woods, but the trees are still more or less bare so there was lots of sun and blue sky to be had as well.

Going with Alice made it a bit quicker than I would have gone on my own, 33:40 or 9:37/mile. And I know there were some very slow bits in there (the map doesn't show all the wiggles through the woods) so there must have been some fast ones too :) But with the last 3 days being 8 miles, then 5 miles, then a mile swim plus 10 miles extra on the bike, I think I'm pretty happy with that. Must be all that sunshine.

Photo: Blackthorn at Otmoor by Jon Evans, on Flickr

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Throw me a line


250 warm up
150 drills
50 kick
600: 8 x 75m @ max (1:21, 1:24, 1:24, 1:26, 1:27, 1:27, 1:25, 1:26)
300: 6 x 50m @ sprint (54, 54, 56, 57, 56, 56)
250m cool down

End state: pooped, but pleased. Working at keeping my form even when tired and/or pushing it is paying off, little by little. And getting out of the office for a break certainly was a lifesaver today!

Photo: salvagente by ganaverre, on Flickr

Monday, March 21, 2011

'B' run

letter B

B for boring? Not really, an unusual route tonight if anything, although fair enough it wasn't exactly thrilling :) Brilliant? Hmm, not outstanding in terms of pace or distance, so no. Bracing? Hardly, it was quite mild. Just B-class as opposed to A-class? Yeah, perhaps. Good and solid, showing potential but nothing too special.

Actually I just thought the route was B-shaped. In my head, anyway. On the map... err, no.

3.4 miles, I was under 34 mins but not by much - however I know I had a strong last mile or so as I overtook a few people on the way back to base, so definitely an uneven run. Oh for a GPS ;)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Eight and cake

Countdown to Spring

I did eight miles (eight!!) with Natalia this morning. She arrived on my doorstep bang on time having done 6, and made her way home via another 4, and we had a rock-steady 11:30/mile run out to the Ketteringham monument and back. It was excellent, the longest run I have done in ages, and I just really enjoyed being out there. It was good for both of us to have company, and I was reminded of my admiration for anyone training for a marathon. I like to think I could have done more miles but I would probably be telling porkies, so I shall shut up and donate some cash instead.

There was hardly anyone around, which is a real shame as it was shaping up into a lovely day. Not quite as glorious as yesterday (when I did nothing but cycle to the city and back), but the sun peeked out and there were daffodils on the road verges. Surely the next best thing to a cheering crowd.

The run was followed up later in excellent style by Tally's fundraising tea and cake afternoon. How very civilised. Cake in abundance, and £200 raised for her marathon charity. Fan bloody tastic.

Photo: Countdown to Spring by aussiegall, on Flickr

Friday, March 18, 2011

A rest, a walk and a milestone


I took a rest day today - had planned on the gym but remembered I had a lunchtime "Calm Course" session (Wabi sabi - pretty interesting), and I need to get home tonight for a visit from the mothership :) I did make it for a walk before the session, at least: I found a new path in the woods that was quite pretty, heard (I think!) a Cetti's warbler plus robins and blackbirds, and saw the fantastic mass of daffs at the end of Chancellor's Drive.

Also, when I weighed myself this morning, I found that I am finally in the merely "overweight" category - I don't put too much store by BMI generally, but it's good to tick off the milestones as they pass. Onwards and downwards!

Weekend plans are parkrun or a quick bike loop on Sat (although heavy frost is expected overnight), and then 8 miles with Tally on Sunday. She gets to do another 10, lucky thing!

What I learned today: my blog gets hits from Google Finland and searches for "the world according to marty". Now it will presumably get more...

Photo: 6 by practicalowl, on Flick

Thursday, March 17, 2011



Still feeling lethargic, but made myself push it a bit more today, even if the results weren't as fast as I'd expect for the effort put in. I did 6 x 100m moderate (2:00 to 2:05) and then 5 x 50m sprints (all 54-56s). 250m warm up and cool down, and an odd 50m interlude between them makes 1400m. Just one of those weeks I guess.

I am still sporting a lurvely bruise above my left knee, acquired (I think) while dismantling the finish gantry at the half. Doesn't hurt but looks quite impressive. Very purple. Matches my swimsuit and hat ;)

Photo: Dimensions by jurvetson, on Flickr

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


five minutes before rain

Yucky, grey, windy, penetrating cold/damp... 5.4 miles, 54 mins (ish, forgot to start my watch until ~15 mins in, d'oh). Oh, and a pit stop at Waitrose loos. I suppose this sort of run makes the good ones seem even better!

Photo: five minutes before rain by davide.tarasconi, on Flickr

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Time trials and tribulations


I didn't swim my 4-weekly 400m time trial last week, so I put it in today. It went pretty well, apart from me making it a 450m time trial. Well, I hope that's what I did - otherwise I am pretty damn slow.

So, apparently I can't count. I think I lost track around 12 lengths in, but anyway, it came out as 9:07 or so. Assuming I swam an even pace, that would be about 8:06 for the 400m. It's quicker than last time, but by a measly half a second a length. I'd be fibbing if I said I hadn't hoped for better. I was sharing a lane with two others but they really weren't in the way, and were actually very good about letting me past. My one excuse is that I'm still pretty tired from the weekend, just being on my feet all day(s) at the half, never mind a bit of lifting here and there. But that feels like a bit of a cop out.

After the 400m, I couldn't get going again. I tried setting myself up for a pyramid, and I was using nearly all the 35s on swimming each length, with nothing for rest! I was getting frustrated, so I called it a day and "just swam" for the rest of it, stretching out and trying to improve my catch and pull. Felt better at the end, but I still have some work to do.

Photo: 806 by mag3737, on Flickr

Monday, March 14, 2011

Night shift

Night Street Light

Back to club running for the first time in ages tonight. After spending the weekend helping at the City of Norwich Half Marathon, I realised that I was actually missing the Monday nights and my fellow back-of-the-pack-ers, so tonight it was five miles around the streets of Norwich. I had been out for my dose of vitamin D with a walk around the broad this afternoon, so the lack of greenery and sunlight wasn't felt too keenly. It was a nice run, just a small group too, although it got smaller after I was forced to pit stop cheekily at the Gibraltar Gardens - Claudia kindly waited and we ran the rest on our own. A good steady 10 min mile pace, and home via Waitrose to get something delicious for dinner (steak - yum). Not a bad night at all :)

The shoe saga is now complete, too. My bargainous size 7.5s were no good (even though I have other (non-running) shoes as low as size 6), but Trish is trying them to see if they fit her. I then trawled Amazon and found some size 8 Triumph 3s for £55 - funnily enough it was my old edition 3s that I'd gone back to when the last pair died, so I've gone from very grubby and tired ones to spangly shiny new ones. I swapped the insoles for my new orthotics (as the old ones were tired) and transferred my funky knobbly Xtenex laces just before running, which took way longer than I thought - sorry chaps! The whole run was comfortable, so that's a big relief. Here's to them not staying white for long!

Photo: Night Street Light by Sheffield Tiger, on Flickr

Friday, March 11, 2011


Cricket Scoreboard Number 6
The same six mile route as a few weeks ago, but slower - poor Natalia is still recovering from her nasty bug but the six was her suggestion! And we weren't ridiculously slow... 1:04, which is 10:20 per mile. It was a beautiful (and quite warm out of the wind) sunny day and well worth getting outside, especially as a busy weekend with the Norwich half marathon and other things means I might not get much else in before Monday.

Photo: Cricket Scoreboard Number 6 by Leo Reynolds, on Flickr - we ran within sight of this very number!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Day 90 - Facing Forward

Darn lunchtime seminars. Interesting stuff that's on just when I want to be doing some training. I literally had an hour to myself today, so adding on walking, changing and showering, that's half an hour in the gym. I packed it with a swift warm up, planks, press-ups and twists, lunges and squats, biceps and triceps, a stretch and then outta there. I barely stopped, but alternated exercises so as to rest the bits that had just worked while I worked other bits.

Thought for the day: People faffing about doing a bazillion bicep curls with 1kg weights... what's that all about?

Photo: Day 90 - Facing Forward by Menage a Moi, on Flickr

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Double trouble

double bubble drop reflection

Well, no trouble really, but two sessions today. A nice short lunchtime run with Alice (10 min miling - no oomph today), and then a return to the pool for a coached swim session in the evening. The session was fine, some good focus on hand entry and catch/pull, and I managed to just about hold my own in the second-slowest lane over the ~2km we swam, but I remembered why I stopped going. I was way too hot, I got cramp at the end, and I reek of chlorine now. And I was starving when I finished! I'm not sure I'll go back unless I really find I can't keep cutting my swim time on my own.

Photo: double bubble drop reflection by Andreas., on Flickr

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Up a gear


While I've sort of fallen off The Plan as far as running and biking go, I still stick to the swim sessions. Today the main set used longer high-speed reps than I've done before:

6 x 75m max (45s rest): 1:22, 1:25, 1:25, 1:27, 1:26, 1:27
4 x 50m sprint (25s rest): 0:54, 0:53, 0:53, 0:54

That's not bad. Not as fast as I would like to be, but OK for where I am in the programme. You can't really double a 25m sprint time to get a 50m one as there's the turn to factor in. Might be time to get some coach advice...

Photo: clock by NontrivialMatt, on Flickr

A sad farewell

Remembering Mortality

Today I think I finally killed my running shoes. They've done a good old stint, in fact I think they did all of last year (and maybe even some of the year before). Not great for my feet, even if it is good for my wallet.

For some time now I've had a hole in the toe of one. My big toenails just seem to angle up a bit, so I'm used to going through my socks occasionally, but this is a new one. Still, the trainers are well-ventilated anyway, one bigger hole doesn't make much difference...

But this morning I walked from home to work in them and noticed my heel was a bit sore, and when I put them on for a run at lunch time, it was sore in the same place. On inspection, there was a fair old chunk missing (of my shoe, not my foot) around the inside of the heel, and I've given myself the beginnings of a blister.

So, time to retire these, probably my 6th or 7th pair of Saucony Triumphs, and move on to... another pair. They're half a size smaller (they were in a sale at almost a third of the price of the size I wanted, although that size has always been roomy) and I can't wait to find out whether that was a false economy...hmmm.

 Run: 3.5 miles in (mumble) 34 minutes or so (no watch). Slow start, strong middle and end, beautiful beautiful day.

Top photo: Remembering Mortality by Andrew Stawarz, on Flickr

Saturday, March 5, 2011



Drizzle. Almost 30 miles of it. It was dry (if grey) when I left, but after stopping by the office to pick up my forgotten cycling glasses I was soon greeted by an advancing wall of murk as I cycled towards Thickthorn. So above you can see pretty much what I could see for the next 2 hours.

I was reasonably well togged up, thankfully. I had wiggled my way into my neoprene overshoes (then realised they were on the wrong feet - d'oh - but couldn't be arsed to swap them) so I had toasty toes, and my top half was snug in a thermal, a short sleeved bike top, and my favourite cycling jacket from Mountain Equipment Co-op in Canada, which I ♥ even more now I know it's showerproof. Add on running plus cycling gloves, and a buff under my helmet, and the only part of me that was cold was the fronts of my thighs which soon had that special tingly-and-numb-at-the-same-time, school cross-country feeling thanks to my lightweight tights. Still, as long as I kept moving, I was fine. And I did keep moving - The Fear was thankfully more or less absent this ride, although I had a bit of stiffness from yesterday's gym session to keep me company instead.

I knew most of the route already, and managed to follow it without retrieving my soggy map. Only one stop, as my close-fitting Crud mudguards got a bit clogged on the back roads and I had to clean them out with a pointy stick (the one thing my multi-tool lacks), and otherwise I was moving pretty steadily at 25km/h or more. That is, at least until right near the end when I hit what I can only describe as A Proper Hill at Croxton - who put that there?! I was definitely tiring over the last 5-10 miles, despite grazing on Haribo, apple juice, and a nice mix of almonds, sultanas and Green & Black's milk chocolate, but that hill was nearly the end of my legs! After that it was a nice coast downhill to my only meeting with a numpty driver on the whole ride. Welcome to Thetford, eh?

Amusingly, at my final destination, not only did I enjoy a long-awaited cup of tea, hot shower, and a lovely afternoon with friends, but there was cake later. What kind? Lemon Drizzle.

Drizzle by HAMED MASOUMI, on Flickr

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pressing engagement

247/365 push-ups

With a bike ride planned for tomorrow I thought I'd do the gym today. A shame really, as it would have been a lovely day for a run!

I just did the usual circuit: squats and lunges, biceps and triceps, lats and side lifts. I slotted the planks and press-ups in early, and managed to increase both of those - planks to 2 x 35s (and an attempt at a third which made it to 15s), and (knee) press-ups to 3 x 11, which was pretty much to failure on the last one, so I'll stay at that for a couple of weeks. I also tried upping the weight on the triceps pulldown, but it steps up by 5kg, and the difference between 10kg and 15kg is a huge jump. I can do 12 x 10kg but only 4 x 15kg. Something to work on.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Muttart Conservatory

I think there was a flaw in The Plan today. Undoubtedly mine, somewhere during the process of transcribing things out of The Book to The Spreadsheet I got in a muddle. Today's swim session was headed "fartlek swim" but the content was the same as Tuesday. Bugger.

Doing the same thing two sessions running (or swimming...) is more than a bit dull, so I went for a pyramid session instead. I used to do them in Kerry's coached sessions and although it's a bit more complex than "6x100m", even I can cope with counting up to 4 and back again. Set the watch to 35s intervals and then swim 1-2-3-4-3-2-1 lengths, resting until the next beep after the given number of lengths. I know I should be swimming 30s or quicker per length, so that would give me 5s of rest (or more, if I work harder) per length swum. And each pyramid is a neat 400m total.

It worked pretty well. After 300m warm up (OK, 250 warm up plus 50m where I failed to start my watch properly - d'oh), I did three pyramids at moderate effort. For the first one, I was consistently swimming 28-29s average per length and a couple of vital extra seconds of rest. Not too shabby. For the second, 29-30s, and for the third, you guessed it, 30-31s. I was getting tired and my turns were getting sloppy and costing me time - by the last few lengths I was really working to maintain the pace, and the rests were flying by. The 250 cool down, on the other hand, was bliss :)

It was actually a really enjoyable session that felt very productive, so maybe the typo worked in my favour. It's been a good week overall so far - now to try and surf that wave! The day finished off nicely too, catching up with the Conac crowd in the pub over a well earned pint. I may even have A Reader Or Two... *wave* :)

Photo: Muttart Conservatory by bulliver, on Flickr

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


29, back lights

Same route as two weeks ago, same situation: busy day, no time to do anything at lunch, almost reluctantly forced myself out the door when I got home (it was bloody cold).


Different result.

Four minutes quicker (29:10).

Sub-9 minute miles (8:50).

That is all.

Photo: 29, back lights by yeraze, on Flickr

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Pencil Shavings

Back to the pool today. Main set: 6 x 100m moderate, 8 x 25m sprint.

100m: 1:58, 2:01, 1:58, 2:01, 2:04, 2:02
25m: 24, 24, 24, 24, 24, 25, 25, 24

That's pretty cool. I'm never going to take huge great chunks off my swim time, but if I can keep shaving the seconds off like that I'll be all right come race day :)

Interestingly I didn't have noodle arms today - I didn't go to the gym yesterday though. Doesn't take Poirot to work that one out, does it?

Photo: Pencil Shavings by LuluP, on Flickr