Category Archives: Bellyaching

Ouch. Oof. Twist. Grind.

Nike+ Run Club: Strange Behaviors

Two more runs on the books since we last spoke; Monday was a quick run with my friend Ed and today was a 45 minute run as prescribed by the Nike+ marathon training programme I’m testing out. 

Which brings me to Nike+ Run Club: what is going on with this? It’s behaviour is very inconsistent. 

I’ve used it four times now and get different behaviours most times:

  1. First run Sunday: started from watch. Recorded heart rate but no elevation. 
  2. Second run Sunday: started from watch. Recorded heart rate but no elevation. Same so far. 
  3. Monday run: started from watch. No heart rate or elevation. 
  4. Wednesday run: started from phone.  No heart rate but elevation recorded. 

Also, it seems that there is no integration between the phone app and the watch app. If you start the run on your phone the data doesn’t show up on your watch as you run. I assume this is why it isn’t recording heart rate, too. 

It’s all a bit odd to me and clearly there are som edges that need to be rounded off. 

The app itself on both the watch and phone are very slick looking but have some internal integration issues too. If you start a run as part of the programme and compete it correctly, it still doesn’t mark the run as being done in the programme. You have to go into each run and assign them to the various programme activity. Weird. 

I’m trying to be good and did a few stretches after the run. My son decided he would be my coach; very helpful, I’m sure. 


Units Matter

I’d love to pretend that this is my ancestral home and spin you all a story about my entitled life. 

However, that is not the case. I’m in the UK as an elected official in the British Computer Society’s Council and we are at Heythrop House in Oxfordshire for a planning away-day. 

I do not want to give the opinion that this was a frivolous use of charitable funds as it was far from that. This was the first away-day that council has had in over ten years, and having the opportunity to step back and plan the direction of a group as influential as BCS is a real honour. 

We achieved a lot in our meeting and the outcomes will shape the group for a long time ahead. This is, however, a running blog so I shall refrain from entering into the gnarly details of our discussions. 

Of course, while I was here I had the chance to run around the extensive grounds of Heythrop House. 

Their running map shows a one and a four mile route. Clearly I chose the longer of the two. 

When I stepped out the front door it was raining; hard. And it must have been doing this for some time. Ah, England, you never fail to disappoint. 

I did not fear because there was a well-marked and establish trail laying ahead of me according to the literature. 

Yes, well. Not so much. 

The first part of the trail was on a service road and was fine. The sign for the first turn off was hidden under a tree at the side of the road and was positioned at a slight angle that didn’t really infer a direction to head. I continued straight until I found a locked gate and realised my mistake… Back to the sign and to follow the other direction. 

This trail was a grown-over dirt path with large puddles, running alongside a Man-made lake. The trail climbed a little and then dove down to the side of a stream. 

At this point the surface was very eroded and there was a significant amount of water streaming across the trail. Under foot it was still gravel, so it wasn’t too bad until the inevitable happened and the gravel gave way to mud. 

Deep. Wet. Sticky. Slippery. Mud. 

How can it be both sticky and slippery? It was the kind of mud that would try to suck the shoes off your feet, and then let you slip backwards as you attempt to escape its clasp. Suction and no friction. Fab. 

The trail got wetter and deeper. After a while it climbed and the mud gave way to deep puddles and a few more uncertain directional signs. 

Despite the tempest underfoot, the rural scenery was gorgeous, with bluebell woods, verdant trees and a rich canopy. This is, of course, all fed by the rain that was currently usurping my life from my feet up. 😉 

I eventually ended up on the main road back towards the hotel and headed off that way. 

Halfway up the hill to complete the loop the entire road and pathway were under water. 

Positive view: this allowed me to get my shoes cleaned from all the mud. 

I’m going to stick with that and say no more. 

I soon got back to the start of the loop and the lady in my phone announced: 2.5 miles. 

Eh? This was marked as a four mile route. Turns out they meant four kilometres! A rookie mistake on their part. Did they not know the stories of imperial vs metric differences causing issues for space flight and channel tunnel digging? 😉

So, I sucked it up and prepared to dance with the slimy mud beast again. To battle. For honour. For victory. 

Here are a few snapshots of the hotel and park. 

If you have reason to visit, you should as it is spectacular. If you wish to run, be forewarned of the signage and the true distance and condition of the trail. I will mention the inaccuracy to reception but doubt the map will get fixed in any short time. 

And may you have a dry trail on your lap of the grounds. 

 Did that staircase move? (Harry Potter)The view from breakfast. 
I’m still waiting for my shoes to dry 24 hours later…

Runs in the UK

Dear Blogosphere,

A quick running postcard from Cornwall, England. The weather here is perfect for running but not summer holiday material with temps in the 60s, high winds and occasional rain. 

The title of this article gives a hint at one of the problems I experienced while running the other day. Thank goodness for large leaves and an abundance of bushes. I still ran for a few more miles but felt very self-conscious. 

Today’s run was all about the hills around Weeks St. Mary. They are long and a bit of a struggle after a few lazy days. The village is small and scenic with a queue outside the village post office. It must also be one of the only places  in England that doesn’t have a village pub. 

The roads around where we are staying are all narrow single lanes with 9ft high bushes on either side so you don’t get many views and you have to keep you eyes and ears peeled for approaching vehicles.  

 Not a typical road but a lovely view!

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Run in the Heat

Is that a little dramatic? Perhaps just a little. 

I tried to run today after a late night the evening before, waiting until after lunch and in 80F heat… I just could not do it. 

My legs would not turn over. After ten minutes I had to switch to walking. Then tried again only to find myself walking a few minutes later. I tried a third time and then had to stop and sit on a bench to recover while several others jogged happily by. 

After about ten minutes I made the tough decision to abandon the run and start to walk back. I did get to see a very cool and large snake basking in a log in the river. 

 You may not be able to tell from the picture but he was about four or five feet long and very fat. 
I ran a couple of short sections on the way back and then drive to get a cold drink and recharge. 

I feel like I failed but sometimes you have to stop yourself if it is not going well. I’ll try again tomorrow… 

Meanwhile, I know some people (friends of friends) who are running their first fifty milers today. Good luck to them. 🙂

Run Until Your Butt Freezes

Okay, at least I feel like I’ve made up for my disappointing weekend attempt at running. Today I did get out and do just under 5.5 miles in a temperature that was crazy.

IMG_4314Yes, 2F actual and -15F feel. It was stupidly cold.

My balaclava froze solid. My glasses froze over. My eye lashes froze. I had icicles under my nose and frost inside the seams of my outer layer running jacket. And my butt froze by the time I was home. I also found my stomach was really cold and flushed. Not sure how that happened.

IMG_4315Be careful out there as it is dangerously cold. The roads were clear and frosty and hardly anyone was about. The schools were still opening but all the kids were behind closed doors rather than waiting outside.

This weekend I am home alone with the kids while my wife goes off to sunny Florida to run with Disney Princesses. That’ll be a nice break for her while we’re all shivering away in Philly. Brr. It means that at least I don’t have to feel guilty for not even attempting to set foot outside the door. Hurrah for that. And she will do a good job supporting her friend through her first Half Marathon.

A Picture Paints a Thousand Swear Words

I humbly submit that the following picture should allow me to amend the classic ‘picture paints a thousand words’ to be more specific.

IMG_4268Yes, -7F. That’s with the wind chill factor fortunately, but it was bloody cold out there! 12F was the actual temperature until the wind would blow and then it was really cold. Disappointingly I only had an ice moustache today rather than a full beard.

IMG_4270It was a nice run despite the temperature and the sunrise was spectacular.

IMG_4269I had to stop four times on the run. Once for the photo, twice to adjust my neck gaiter and ear warmers and once to remove my glasses; they were freezing as I breathed out.

Mapmyrun failed to record again so I’m going to say it was four miles at a pace of 8:00. I should have gone longer but I have an important job interview this morning and I have to prepare… I probably shouldn’t be doing his blog so, until later, ‘ta ra’.

Bend Me, Shape Me, Argh!

Last night I went to see my therapist. No, not for my head; I have exercise for that. My Trigger Point therapist for my regular massage booking.


Perhaps I didn’t say that with enough feeling.


And, relax.

My thighs and calves were very knotted up. Given that I dialed back my running three weeks ago and switched to cycling, I was surprised that they were in such a state. I did recently switch to my old Brooks Beast shoes so I wonder if that is causing some issues. I’ll keep an eye on it once I get back to running next month.

Today I cycled to work and it was actually cold. I went the slightly longer route so that I could enjoy it even more. Savouring the cool morning rides is what late summer is all about. Being able to scoot past lots of people stuck in traffic is also a bonus although I can almost taste their ire as I fly by them. There was a half mile queue of traffic today which actually makes getting through a difficult junction safer as they are at a standstill.

Just Do It Anyway

I’m at a conference in Philly.
It is 2F/-16.5C outside.
There is snow and ice on the pathways.
There was an open bar last night.
I had five pints of beer.

Just do it anyway.

Five and a half miles run at an 8:13 pace around center city. I’ll call that my Friday easy run and switch it. There was no way I could do a tempo run today because of the location (inner city) and ice everywhere but an easy run should always be possible.

Running from a hotel means that there is always a welcoming committee at the front door when you return. And they will always give you props for being out there!

Thankfully no side effects from the beer.

Beaten by the Weather: Failure to Launch

Finally I have conceded to the weather. Yesterday saw a 4 inch layer of snow that was followed by an ice storm. The paths I scraped down last night are death traps and the roads around here haven’t been cleared yet. I hate being beaten like this. Boo. Third snow storm within six days and very early in the season.

Maybe I can run later once the sun comes out and starts to melt the ice off the top…

Failure to Prepare

Last night I rolled in after work and ate two slices of toast to keep me going until I got the little’un to bed. Big mistake.

That took the edge off my hunger and I completely forgot to eat anything else later on. Five blocks of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk do not count towards any nutrition after all!

This morning I had no energy left for my run. I still got out and did it but could not get my legs moving over easily and only did four miles. But some running is better than no running, right? An 8:25 pace still counts!

Today I’ll have to eat properly. The extra cycling to and from work yesterday just burnt that much more calories than I consumed.

I should have known better. I guess sometimes we need these reminders.