Wednesday 31 July 2013

'Some' km covered again

In May I managed to do 160km in the Strava challenge but June was sparse due to The Knee. Amazingly I have managed to get back on track in July and just achieved 161km. Not great, but a fair start.
I can't see me doing so well in the 8km speed challenge, some of the current entries are really fast and I'd hate to split a longer run; after all there is the August half marathon challenge to complete in the next week!

Tuesday 30 July 2013

Blacka Moor half marathon

I took the opportunity to take a day off work as  the weather was fine and I hoped to be able to increase from my Saturday distance of 18km to the half-marathon 21.5km. I planned a route to Dore, up to Blacka Moor and then onto Houndkirk Road at Fox House. With a slightly indirect route home it was spot on distance.

The main thing is that the distance is increasing. I'll have to be really careful not to overdo it....

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Runners' circuit

I've just returned from a 'Runner's Circuit' session at Fairplay gym; where the physio works. It's only a 15 minute easy run from home so quite convenient. In theory the weather and light evenings make it too pleasant to be indoors but the aim is for me to strengthen around my knees and do (the now very fashionable) core training.

After a brief warm-up around the car park we did 15 exercise split between core (lower back, abdomen and balance) and legs. The former I found quite easy as I'd not done very much of that type before. It was just the wobble board that posed a difficulty but even that had become a little steadier by the second set. There were additions to the exercises to make them all tougher so I have those options ahead of me to gain more - and make it feel less easy!

The leg exercises were based on squats and lunges in various orientations and these showed that The Knee isn't is good as its contralateral partner. I couldn't dip as deeply and felt a bit of soreness on effort if the angle became too steep. It may be that this has been lurking for a while, and there is a lack of ability to cope after too much; hence the more acute pain of a month ago. So,  I suppose that localised weakness means I have to do more of these.

Tuesday 23 July 2013


After the longest sunny period for 7 years or so, now we have the month's rainfall in a day.

Just east of The Norfolk Arms
As I left home it was dry but there had been showers and thunder for most of the day. I didn't want to do too much as the environment was incredibly hot and humid. That made the ascent through Limb Valley harder work than it usually is. With the rumbles gradually sounding to be nearby, and that cooling of the air which is so characteristic of an imminent rainstorm, I decided to head back home and was caught in a heavy downpour just after making that correct decision. 

Luckily the shower slowed as quickly as it had arrived and it was only damp for the next few km. Despite being soaked I was plenty warm enough which is an indication of the temperature.

Sunday 21 July 2013

Scott Jurek's Balls

This is a slight modification of the "SHOCK-O-laht" energy balls in Eat and Run. I've simplified it a little and made tiny alterations to suit the products that I can get in England. Of course, a puerile heading makes for good site stats!

Makes 10 inch-diameter balls

Place all of the ingredients, organic wherever possible, in a stout food processor:

1/2 cupcocoa nibs
1/2 cupraw cashew nuts
10pitted dried (but 'soft') dates
1/4 teaspoonmixed spices
1/2 teaspoonvanilla extract
pinchtable salt
1 teaspoonsunflower or soya margarine
1 tablespoonwater

Whizz the whole lot together until it's well chopped and the particles become a coherent mass. Pinch off bits of the mixture and roll into inch-round balls and place them in a plastic box. You should end up with around 10. Chill for at least 30 minutes and then enjoy. The approximate macronutrient profile of each ball is:
energyfatof which saturatesproteincarbohydrate
So make sure you do plenty of running if you eat more than one!

If you want to get really into the nutrition side of things, consider whether cocoa is 'healthy' or not? Some say it's an addictive stimulant, others that it's a super-food. Go on, do a Google search. My feeling is that we need a range of foods with an array of micronutrients and a 'sensible' amount of any won't do any harm...

Saturday 20 July 2013

Not 'injured' anymore?

Last Monday I saw the physio again and in principle there is now nothing wrong with  The Knee. There is some tightness in muscles of my left leg which isn't ideal and perhaps more strength is needed in certain muscle groups; but that puts me back to where I was in early May. So I've 2 weeks off from physio now and need to get some training (and stretching) under my legs.

Since last week the weather got hotter and hotter and I didn't manage to get out until Thursday. Monday's swim doesn't count perhaps and was really hard work anyway. Thursday was horrid too! Perhaps the large glass of water just before I set out was a mistake as I suffered from a terrible abdominal cramp until I was nearly home. It was a case of run 100m, walk 200m!

Anyway, today was far better and I did a great saturday run, a little extended and with some generally good times. I'm even getting Strava awards again. The weather has broken slightly so not too hot to run.

A relatively expensive piece of foam from Argos

The physio recommended using a massage roller on major muscle groups but rather than try and sell me a medically-specified one she suggested Argos as doing a good one. Decathlon was also mentioned but I couldn't find one on their website. I've tried it briefly and it is possible to get good pressure on the muscles but it's quite demanding to position yourself and move effectively.

Saturday 13 July 2013

The hottest day since 2006

Today is the hottest day this year and also since 2006 and perhaps since 1066 if the forecasters are to be believed. It's also the day of the Dig Deep Ultramarathon and Intro Marathon, the latter of which I'd hoped to be half way through by now. Problems with The Knee made that an unwise idea.

Basic route marking near the start of the events; I can't really understand why the easy to navigate bit is way-marked but the fells won't be.
As I felt fairly fit I chose to join the saturday run group and see how I got on. I made a good start and after Forge Dam met some ultramarathoners on the track. I slowed for a chat (a good excuse for me to rest a bit) and heard a little about their tactics. Generally walk uphill, jog if it's easy and hope to finish before dark. I passed a couple more little groups and their appearance was varied - some had the look of fell-running whippets, others didn't! Compression socks were evident, as were hats. They'll have needed those on the moors.

The brief slow down allowed me to get a good time up the clough so I really must be recovering. I was very cautious on the descents on the return leg and so the overall time was 1 hour 13 minutes.

The view on the descent from The Norfolk Arms

For the first time I joined the team at the cafe for a bit more breakfast, the orange juice was particularly refreshing.

Thursday 11 July 2013


Things must be improving as I've set and reset the course record on a Strava segment through the wood this week. I admit that it was very slow and is still rather slow, but any hint of speed is progress.

A very fashionable zoom lens effect in the 1970's recreated to show just how fast I was going!
The photograph here was a little experiment to see if the 'zoom' effect could be recreated successfully from an mp4 movie. It seems it can. A movie was taken with a compact digital camera held firmly and the zoom moved from wide to tele. The movie was cropped to remove static frames and then each frame was extracted using FFMPEG. The 150 frames were recombined as layers in GIMP. The key thing was the order of layering. Neither wide-first nor tele-first worked. The optimum was to layer alternate frames in opposite directions, like so with the tele image as the 100% base layer (9 in this example):

1 8 3 6 5 4 7 2 9

Note how odd frames run one way and even the opposite. The transparency of each layer was set to 10%. I had to do the build-up manually as I couldn't find a package to do it.

Saturday 6 July 2013

Is a daily marathon an 'Ultramarathon'?

Take a look at this website for "Running around Australia for Charity"

My aspiration to do a single ultra looks pretty tame by comparison!

Summer is here!

After a little disappointment earlier in the week today I was pleased to manage 15km, albeit at a very sedate pace. I easily reached Oxstones without complaint from The Knee but on the descent towards home it started to tense in the hamstrings passing behind it. That seems to be the recurrent issue now. After a bit of stretching (and making an attempt not to grip the ground with my toes) I was able to get back comfortably.

The panorama above Lady Canning plantation including Oxstones

Summer has arrived now, last week in Norfolk was hot and now it's back and forecast to last all week. Too hot for record speeds regardless of knees.

So this week has been 11.4km, 4.5km and 15.5km; that's progress.

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Not quite there

Last week I've upped the mileage a little on the physio's recommendation as things had been fine .I did three runs of 9.4km, 4.1km and 7.9km and these felt relatively easy with a noticeable improvement in pace. Whilst away on a camping weekend I also did a 24km walk which whilst fairly level, involved a high proportion of cambered stoney beach. I felt that!

A sizable branch had fallen from a tree, blocking the path
With last week's positive progress I had planned to run 13km this evening but at 6km I was aware of a few twinges from The Knee and so turned for home. Still, 11km achieved without pain so that is a positive step.