Saturday, February 26, 2011

Forest of Dean Park Run

As I starred out of the window of the hotel last night and the rain lashing down and the flag flapping the breeze I thought to myself that off road shoes would probably be a good option for the Park Run in the Forest of Dean in the morning. Shame then that I had left them at home!

If you've not heard of the concept of Park Run before it's pretty straight forward. Register once (this gets you your bar code) and you can turn up for a 5k timed run at 9am at a park near you. They are free, you don't need to register for the one you're going to do, the results are posted on line within hours, they are friendly, they are welcoming and likely to be held at a park near you. .... in the case of the Forest of Dean run it's a woodland, which at this time of year is a little... err... muddy.

Anyway..... got up early enough to have breakfast and got in Betty (the motor) and zoomed up the road to the run via the National Dive centre to drop the Pope off. Such sweet memories of the Dive centre, that being the place for the epic Little Woody race last year.

I got to the car park up at Five Acres (venue for little woody race hq - so more memories) and found other newbie FoD runners. I looked at their footware - I had already decided that Asics racing flats were not a suitable choice and so opted for a pair of *new* Asics Gel Cumulus that were lurking in the back seat.

They looked nice, shiney and new.....
hummmm EVERYONE was wearing off roaders.....

Got to the race start and the organiser turned up pushing his mountain bike and proceeded to state that it was muddy out there today - in fact so much so he had got off his bike!! HA HA HA!

Now I wasn't expecting much from this "race" ... just best effort... I've not done a great deal of running (I am ignoring the fact I have a half marathon in ...err.. oh dear about 3 weeks...)... and then when someone said to a slim, runner looking lady "what time do you usually do..." to which she replied "21mins..."... he replied she'd more likely be 23mins on this course. ... so that was good actually as I'd have wanted to go sub 26mins and maybe poke towards sub 25... but I had already decided that was unlikely given the likely muddy situation and so now I was figuring something around 27mins would be ok - this was good as had the effect of taking the pressure off (not that there actually was much pressure!)

Anyway - the small gathering gathered, the organiser gave us a quick talk about following the signs (it's a looping, in, out and around the dusty windows type of course)... and we were off.

There was the usual stamped up the first 50m (and only 50m of solid ground) before we bank/ slide right and were into the rhythm of a 5ker.... somewhere in the first k I rounded a right/ left bend, lost my footing completely and done a bambi-esk skid, slip, slide with arms and legs flying. How I managed to stay on two legs and not brake or strain anything is beyond me (I was commended for my "holding it" after the race)... This was definitely not a day to worry about run technique (pose or not)... but a day to try and control my lateral movement whilst trying to attain forward momentum. It was a hoot.

After what felt like an age I dared look at my watch... HOLY MOTHER OF ***... I had only been going 10mins... and clearly I had gone off way to fast (I will download my Garmin later next week)... to say I was blowing out of ever orifice would be about correct. Oh how I have forgotten about how tremendous 5k's can be!!

There were 2 laps for the run - although lap 2 was a totally different configuration to lap 1 - completely disorientating at one point people were coming back in my direction (that would be the fast ones!).. there was a guy running with his dog - clearly a regular (both the dog and man)... made me laugh when the guy came past me only for the dog to protest and stop for a quick doggy doo moment.... they came past me again only for the dog to have another moment yards later!! ha ha ha... they past me for the final time on the home straight (damn that dog - he looked like he had had lots of fun!!)

I was pleased to finish and stop my watch on something just under 27mins... the fast girl from the start looked like she had been back an age... and had virtually no mud on her legs.. I could not say the same for either my legs or my trainers..... I said thanks to the organiser and then all that was left was for me to squish my way to my car, get back to the shower and scrub my legs clean!!

I have NO idea how I got that much MUD above my knees on my inner thighs....!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

3hrs 36mins

Umm yes I'd love to do a marathon in that time but that is not the meaning of this quick blog!

I was playing around with an iPad app the other week called "think it" .... I'm sure you can do plenty with this app (I'm not terribly proficient and finding out how to utilise apps to their strengths), but I have for now concluded this app turns my iPad into a big expensive scribble pad (useful if you have a pointy thing thinner then my finger)...

So I got to scribbling (with my finger) about why my working week was so ridiculous last year; yes work was ridiculous, I was training for Ironman (but to be fair I rarely did more then 5 hours during the working 'week').... I basically wanted to understand where time had gone; so scribbled with my fat finger some numbers of approximately what i thought I did on average. These may not be entirely accurate;

So I worked out out that on average per day, after sleep, work, work out, eating breakfast and dinner that I had on average 3hours 36mins a day for other 'stuff' including going to or from the gym, setting up the turbo etc, talking to my parents or few remaining friends who tolerated my crazy ironman indulgence, soaking in the bath, feeding and cuddling the kittehs, blogging, reading, shopping, waking up, going to sleep, other household chores, let's not forget general monging etc

It's no wonder on longer working weeks then that I got a bit overwhelmed.... There was one time I had no food, absolutely none (well other then recovery powder!!,)! that was about the time my laundry basket was so overfull that I actually had no pants to wear either.... These situations clearly were resolved but often at the expense of sleep, which as we all know is a vital ingredient to not just athletic recovery but normal every day happiness and energy.... The second area which was forsaken was exercise; another sound ingredient to the energy balance of life....

So the question I now find myself asking is why did I do that? Why did I work 45 or 55 or even more? To what end? Did I save the planet with this time? Did I aid society with this work? Is the company thankful to me for doing this? Was it time well spent? Am I passionate even about what the business does? Was it really necessary? Why.. Why... Why... Why and why again?

Now had this been my own business, or one which I loved, was passionate about, valued it's worth and which had meaning to me then I don't think this would have been such an issue after all it would no doubt have been part of a bigger personal goal? So I would hope at least a sense of worth and satisfaction would have been derived from those sacrificed hours at the least.

A balance in life for me is key to both happiness and success, however one defines that success to be (and let's face it we as individuals change our own definition of what "success" is to ourselves over time; it's bound to change). And balance for me comes in the form of time to work, time for family and friends, time for me and time for 'stuff'.

What I do know from this is 3hours and 40mins of 'other' time is, for me at least, not enough of a balance. Particularly I guess when the thing your dedicating the majority of your time doing leaves you only feeling drained, with little sense of it being worthwhile.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Book Review: Core Performance Endurance

I got this book just around about Christmas time having read about it on some blog (I can't remember the one, it was one of those days I bounced around blogs and links and links and blogs). I recognise my core is poor and thought this was (yet another) way to get some inspiration and attack the problem head on!

Anyway - I finally got around to picking up the book whilst on a business trip (it fitted in my hand luggage). Somewhat inevitably I skipped right to the session planner towards the rear.... I kind of already knew some of the moves and exercises, there's a good section on foam roller/ tennis ball "regeneration" moves which initially I thought useful too. I turned the pages back to the program page (there is but one) and thought "huh" what is it talking about here... there was nothing for it - I'd have to read the book from the front!!

So I took the book down to dinner (as you do when you're travelling on your own); gorged myself on the contents of the book whilst eating a rather below par hotel meal (I should have been more adventurous and headed out but I'd been up since 4am and couldn't be arsed!).... I was soon engrossed and fascinated to the principles laid out in the "Introduction" by the author Mark Verstegen.  Although I thought, I am not one of those "endurance athletes" who suffer from any form of chronic injury .... but errr wait a minute ok I did actually have a f**cked up foot most of last year and didn't run which was completely acceptable yes?!.... OH GOD THIS COULD BE ME WITHOUT ME EVEN REALISE... so I read on..  Whilst not all of the paragraphs were apt for me per se they could have been and perhaps they would have been in my future?

I read on with an ever increasing interest. Chapter 1 "A call to change" starts with a very interesting test/ observation before talking about the ability to store and release energy efficiently (surely an endurance athletes goal). Chapter 2 gives some key self evaluation activities.... these were an eye opener - not necessarily surprising but an eye opener!!

These two chapters really lay the foundation for  Part 2 of the book "Core Endurance Movement" where the key chapter for me comes in chapter 3 "Building your pillar"... without barking on about the principles too much my main take away from this was BEFORE exercise it's pretty darn important to awaken your pillar of strength (this is not just your core) in order to get the right muscles firing straight away when you start... I am a nightmare ... my warm up is the first 20mins of run/ bike or swim... at least it was before I read this book. Don't get me wrong I've always aware of the need to warm up... BUT I've never (not even with our hockey SAQ warm up although that is the closest) awoken my "Pillar of strength" as referred to in this book. This is not just your "core" girdle but hamstrings, glutes, pelvis, hips, back etc (read the book)..... and done via a suggested routine (which are those towards the back of the book which is where I started!)

So without further a do and my head buzzing I decided I'd get up early the next morning and test out the theory.

I have to say whether it was a placebo effect or genuine I went for my run the next day and it felt GREAT... I was buzzing along felt extremely comfortable, relaxing and much more enjoyable then a standard early morning grunt run in a foreign country.

I'd certainly recommend this book to anyone wanting to engage in swim/bike or run activity (in fact it will transfer to any sport I'd think although Verstegen may have written a different book for these??? )... There are further parts to the book; Part 3 discussing "Core Endurance Nutrition" (which I found I knew much of because I've read into this before but it is all good information) and then with Part 4 "The Core Endurance Workout" being the very useful guide to the exercises (how to, key coaching points and what you should feel) as well as the session planner itself.

You can currently get this book on Amazon in the UK for under £9 - and I'd recommend it for that money.

Ease of Reading: 5/5
Value for money: 5/5
Met Expectations: 5/5

Big thumbs up!