THE GREAT OUTDOORS

1 March 2009

So now I am in the sunny uplands of Week 8! Yes, it is a place with no astroturf, but only lush green grass and spring lambs frolicking in the fields and daffodils growing hungrily towards the thin rays of sunshine before becoming nosegays of delight on this, the first day of spring. How ironic that I should have spent more than half the time slogging through the 13-week running programme in the wind, sleet and rain and on the hard surfaces of London streets rather than just using the treadmill at the gym and not coming back feeling as if Robert Mugabe’s security forces had been trying to ‘redistribute’ my feet. Running at the gym is EASY. In fact, what the F****** HELL is this running on concrete pavements all about??? They’re hard, they’re painful, they’re full of Ghanian evangelists and pimps, they’re broken up by side streets and fire stations and traffic lights. They go up and down and around and have potholes and litter and dog shit. They have rain and slippery bits and banks of dirty snow and gormless twits at the busstop who don’t move out of the way. Oh yeah, I forgot – they’re part of the ‘great outdoors’ so that makes up for all the rest, doesn’t it? Well, no, in fact it doesn’t. I realise now that this whole running thing has been one extended and enormous con. The communing with nature, the sense of the seasons, the being at one with the environment. Ha fucking ha! The simple fact is that Central London or any even slightly green-looking enclave of Greater London is not and can never be part of the ‘great outdoors’. So that sort of eliminates the reason for running in it. DECISION TIME!!! I’m OK with taking up running and fannying about with Runner’s Handbooks and all the other paraphernalia that goes with putting one foot in front of the other more quickly than normal, but I REFUSE to cripple myself and walk around on one leg between sessions just so that I’m slightly better prepared to go out and further bugger up my shins and heels a few days later. I also REFUSE to be sucked into the liquid depression of thinking that I probably can’t do this poxy programme and that my body isn’t up to it. In other words: The treadmill was the business. I came off it without an ache. Even pace, precise stats, no evangelists, no interruptions, no almost being mown down by da man wiv da van. The treadmill was a total turnkey experience of running solution enjoyment. It was jogging heaven. The treadmill has revealed itself in all its glory to the accompaniment of a surging choir of sportsclad and injury-free angels.

So – as foretold – I rejoined the gym and am now classified as a casual member. ‘Casual’ was always what my relationship with the gym was, but now it’s on my card. The gym – that erstwhile cave of tortuous despair – is now a bright and sparkly place that offers fluffy treadmills and all those stats I used to hate, but that I now follow in the same way that I watch the geek maps on medium-haul. I don’t need to watch in-flight romcoms or those news programmes at the gym that have the sound turned down. How much more exciting is it not to know that you’re skirting Iraqi airspace at 37,000 feet or burning roughly 10 calories a minute at Level 1, 0% elevation?

Alcohol

Took the edge off the flu-like symptoms with Parliament vodka. Either this helped or it wasn’t flu anyway.

Running Progress

Week 7 of 13. 2 minutes walk. 4 minutes run. 54 minutes. Session 3 of 3. Walk pace: 4.5 km/h. Run pace: 6.6 km/h.

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FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS

27 February 2009

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Now if I were a really sneaky sort of weasly person, I’d pass off Wednesday’s run as Session 3 of Week 7 of the 13-week prog and be done with it – and move on in a blaze of fraudulent glory to the sunny uplands of Week 8. But I’m straight down the line on the run/walk charade and although I probably did my 54 minutes of 4-2 formation down the Old Kent Road, they were a mishmash of walking more in the middle and then running more towards the end and taking a phone call 5/8th of the way and retying trainer laces and the whole thing just wasn’t the whole batty bat. Shins hurting and heel being a pain and hard surfaces cursed. Now seasonal achy, shivery, flu-like symptoms have arrived (yes, it’s spring) and running is but a distant dream – although having to put in a full day’s work on the south face of Translationmanjaro in this state unfortunately was not. By the way, I like the way that when you Google ‘fever’, you get John Travolta.

I have discovered that the Goldsmith gym (the one I gave up shortly before Christmas) runs a pay-as-you-go option (as opposed to the pay-heaps-of-cash-while-you-sit-at-home option) which looks like a viable way of getting tortured heels onto soft and fluffy treadmills. Once I emerge from my fever delirium, I will do it.

Alcohol

“I looked in the mirror. I liked myself but I didn’t like myself in the mirror. I didn’t look like that. I finished my drink.” Charles Bukowski.

Running Progress

Minor delays expected.


SPRING IN MY STEP

21 February 2009

Ah, the sweet, angelic sound of Deptford Park on a day that looks like spring, but isn’t. The snarl of pitbull crosses, the gentle trickle of footballers urinating against trees, the picnic revellers going: “Facking ‘ell, Gav. You left de corkscwew dahn de allotment’. Thankfully, Gav did not look like the sort of person who was going to be too put out by the lack of post-Neanderthal domestic appliance.

The running was at times so hard today that the only thing keeping me going was the thought of introducing my newly cut set of keys to BBB’s shiny black Range Rover come May. BBB is the friend who got me into this charade in the first place. It was only after about 45 minutes that I felt the ‘fuel injection’ kick in and I was OK. But for a 50-minute session that’s not very useful. I’d left a gap of an extra couple of days between Week 7’s first and second sessions to counter ‘the heel problem’. Not pain exactly, but probably medium-range discomfort. Not limping, but a disinclination to walk too far or put too much weight on my right foot. This is annoying as I actually want to progress, but am being cruelly hindered in doing so.

Alcohol

I was the recipient of some peach cider in a can (no point in delving into why anyone would give anyone else such an item unless it was because they didn’t want it themselves) which has only 4.7% alcohol and when poured out feels/looks vaguely like Cava. I think it tricks the brain into thinking that it is having a good time and participating in ‘a few drinks on a Friday night’. At least it cuts out the descent into quite unwarranted merriment and all the baaad things that happen the next morning.

Running Progress

Week 7 of 13. 2 minutes walk. 4 minutes run. 54 minutes. Session 2 of 3.


TICKING ALL THE BOXES

17 February 2009

It’s Week 7 of 13 and this morning saw half-term coming to Greenwich Park, the meter swallowing 50 p in an unwarranted way before starting to flash its lights and not accepting any more dosh and not issuing any parking ticket. The run/walk charade was joyless this morning. It was all about ticking boxes, bums on seats, lip service, tokenism, getting through it. I did my 60 minutes and I ticked Session 1 in Week 7. Maybe I was miffed about ‘my’ park being invaded by clubs assembling football goals and organising themselves in unnecessarily early formations. Maybe I didn’t like them emulating my own 4-2 formation. Maybe I was worried about my right heel which seems to have been wanting to stir up trouble in a rumbling appendix kind of way for a few weeks. I really don’t want to have to confront a member of the medical profession with the dilemma of running through the pain or dulling it with alcohol.

Some deranged gardener on television (not that I watch gardening programmes – this must have been an aside on Working Lunch) seemed to think that spring was near. Bulbs, she said. Bulbs! It’s still dark, though, isn’t it, luv? You can have all the bulbs you like, but if it’s dark at 5.30 pm, it isn’t spring. I think the heel is getting to me more than I will admit. If BBB has made me a cripple through this charade, tensions may indeed shortly arise between Great Britain and Boston over more than a cup of tea.

Alcohol

So I dulled it with alcohol.

Running Progress

Week 7 of 13. 2 minutes walk. 4 minutes run. 60 minutes. Session 1 of 3.