Archive for January, 2013


It’s appeared suddenly, I thought, though on reflection I think it’s been building for a few days, maybe a week.

At the start of January, I put a mile counter on my blog and started tracking how many runs and how far.

Around the weekend, I realised I was in the top eighties, so a bit of a push and I could feasibly top 100 miles in January.

Of course, there’s no reason to do that, it’s an arbitrary total, and I’d figured 1,000 miles in 2013 would be a good target but here I am now aiming towards 1,200 already.

Still, it’d be nice, wouldn’t it?

So, I’ve run every day this week, from short distances to a bit longer, often running at 9pm so as to spend a little bit of time with the family at least.  I ran to work today, and to be honest it was a bit hard after a few days literally on the hoof. Still, I had a running-date with Jon, and after a few false starts at getting out on the trails with Jon I wasn’t about to pass it up.

By the end of work, infused with an amount of carb-loading (can you say Mars Bar?) I was ready for the off.

Off along the Waggonways and head torch on – I’m coming to appreciate the Waggonways more and more – they just go everywhere in the Borough, and off along the Wednesday Lunch Club route. Under the bypass and we’re into the countryside, running the trail to Earsdon. Bit muddy, and a few detours around the wetter bits to avoid the ankle deep water. It’s lovely running at night in the (relative) countryside. You can see the stars, you can hear the wind (not that it was a problem today – what’s with the gales). Into Earsdon and off towards Monkseaton – detour through the houses, then down onto the road toward the sea – to the coast, along to the Spanish City and job’s a good ‘un. Ace time running with Jon, we turned out a decent pace and managed to keep up a chat. Properly looking forward to the next time we can get out.

So, where did I end up? Well, with the 6.1 miles from running home with Jon, I’ve totalled 105.9 miles, so over the 100. Hurrah! If I’m going to do it again next month, I’d better sort myself a bit earlier instead of leaving it to the last minute..

Also, I’ve been following Marathon Talk’s Jantastic challenge and have managed to complete my 3 runs each week. Next week is the start of Febulous, and I need to run 3 per week and 11/12/13/14 miles for my longest run each week. Here we go… 🙂


What a lovely bunch…

Posted: 27/01/2013 in Uncategorized

I’ve been out a few times in the last handful of days; a run down to Tynemouth for a quick hill session on Thursday night, Parkrun on Saturday morning and so on. It’s reminded me that I needed to tell all you runners what a lovely lot you are. I don’t always look salon-ready when running:


See what I mean?

Despite this rather scary appearance, as I plod past you marvellous crowd, there’s always a wave, a smile, a nod or a bit of a look that says, “hello fella, look at us, aren’t we just dandy”. And we are. Whether it’s sunny, windy, raining, a gale, snow, ice or whatever the weather, we’re a sociable lot. Clearly we’re all on a mission too, so we’re not about to stop and chat about the state of the economy, the neighbour’s cat or whether that particular shade of lycra is more offensive on the retina than this one, but that’s a given.

I ran past a whole running club on Thursday night, the dashingly-red North Shields Poly, and was acknowledged within an inch of my life. I could have got a crick in my neck for all the “hello there” nods I was dishing out. I had to go to my backup smile and wave for the last few in the worry that my head might actually fall off. But it was lovely, I went on my way, high as a kite, and full of resolve that I needed to write something about it.

As I ran up and down the hills at the Priory, there was another runner doing the same. He was faster on the uphills, I think I might have been fast on the downhills, so we passed each other quite a few times. A nod, a smile and a quick hello and the connection is made.

Cut to yesterday, and the Parkrun. I know a few folk at the Parkrun – only one or two to talk to, but maybe another half dozen or so to nod at in recognition. Then there are maybe another couple of dozen, maybe thirty that I recognise from earlier Parkruns. So we all gather together in the snow for the off – think everyone’s a bit excited for the snow, we may have lost a couple of runners to snowman-building, it’s hard to tell.

Half-way round the course and I realise one of the Marshals is a guy I know to see, have been waved at when taking photos of the Parkrun, have probably nodded at from time to time, and see quite often see at the Parkrun. He’s volunteered to take the spot at the top of the hill down to the Golden Bridge. I’ve never spoken to him, but I’ve formed the impression that he must be a Nice Guy, so as I plod past, I grin like a fool and tell him he’s doing a good job (it’s a freezing morning, so he really is doing a good job not to turn into a Marshall Popsicle). And off I go, but with a flush of good feeling.

In short, we’ve got a good thing going – I know that if I saw another runner in trouble I’d stop to see if I could help. Would I do that for anyone generally? Not sure I would, though I’d like to be able to say yes.

I wonder if other pursuits lead to the same thing – the only ones I have any experience of would be photography, and in general, while lovely people once you get the initial hello over with, they’re not so inclined to wave and nod – mind, that could be because they’re not running past each other so often… Cyclists seem to be not so likely to acknowledge the existence of other human beings – maybe because there are more of them about, and maybe because they need to keep their hands on the bars?

Slush Day!

Posted: 19/01/2013 in Uncategorized

Yes, it snowed yesterday, and I got out in the evening. Very nice.

This morning, the Whitley Bay Parkrun was cancelled, so I figured I might have a jaunt up the coast. I’ll be honest, looking out the front window, the ground looked icy, slushy, and a lot less fun than the fluffy flurrys of snow last night.  But, a run’s a run, and I’m taking part in Marathon Talk’s Jantastic challenge and need to fit in at least three runs a week. That’s not so difficult so far, but given the excitable weather I probably shouldn’t pass up the opportunity.

I don’t often set out a gear list, mainly because there’s usually not a lot of it, and also because it would become samey very quickly. However, today I headed out the door with:

  • 2XU Peaked cap – white
  • Original Buff (over my neck, pulled up over the back of my hat and over my chin to keep the chill out
  • Karrimor long sleeve base layer – no idea what it’s called, but it does the job
  • More Mile Alaska thermal top – mmm, toasty!
  • More Mile Montreal thermal tights – mmm, also toasty!
  • More Mile London socks – they’re socks!
  • Ronhill Trail Microlight waterproof jacket
  • Vivobarefoot Breatho Trail shoes – in black/yellow, like foot shaped bumble-bees of goodness!
  • OMM Last Drop 10l pack – with about 1l water in the reservoir, also with my YakTrax just in case.

The last item, my OMM pack was a bit of a last minute decision – I don’t usually carry water unless it’s hot or I’m going a long way, but I’m trying to run with a pack every now and then, as I think that’s the way I’ll go for The Wall – used to be a 100% bum bag user, but the Last Drop has changed my mind a bit since I lucked out and got it to fit perfectly. Also, since I went of hand holding water bottles, a reservoir works OK – not sure I’d want to try and refill it part way through a run, but I’ll sort that when I get to it.

So, dressed to impress and ready to go out. Open the door, start up Strava and off I head. The road seemed fine, if a bit slushy, so I left the YakTrax in the bag and headed to the coast.

The paths here were slushy to say the least, so I headed down onto the beach – no slush there, though the tide had just turned and there was only a metre or so between the high extent of the waves and the concrete wall of the prom. Some bits are a little lower than others, so I had to sprint the occasional bit to get through while it wasn’t inundated. I almost timed it right, too…

Thenclamber over the rocks where the tide was coming in a bit further where the prom ends. The rocks were a bit slippy, but walkable, but I reckon my pace suffered a little bit. Up onto the mini-golf course above, and it was properly waterlogged. Now the trail – Whoa! How much slush? The whole trail was ankle deep in slushy-puddle-ice or something like that. I passed by another runner coming the other way, and knew I was onto a good thing when he told me it was “absolutely atrocious” further on. I mean, I already had wet, freezing feet, so it wasn’t like it was going to get any worse, right?

Onto the second trail up to Seaton Sluice – a few hardy dog walkers, a grey sky and some dark and menacing mega-waves. It was grand.

Ran to the far end of the Sluice, then back the way I’d come. I was just coming back around the headland when the hail started, the consistency of ice, the speed of rain – like tiny needles. I pulled the Buff over the side my cap in the hope it would hold it off a little more. Kind of did… It was hard going with the wind holding me back, the cold and the driving sleet.

Back along the trail, back along the beach and back home. Legs like lead by now. I wouldn’t normally be this bothered at 7 miles, but the going was tough. Good training for something, I’m sure. Nice cup of tea and there you go.

Would like to do it all again… 🙂

Not sure the Ronhill is up for the more serious weather – need to investigate something a little more robust for the winter hills…

Snow Run!

Posted: 18/01/2013 in Running

You may not have noticed, but it snowed a bit today.

So I went for a run.

This, in my head, makes perfect sense.

It was dark, snowy and cold, so I wrapped up in waterproof troosers, waterproof jacket, peaked cap (the specs!) and a Buff over my delicate little face, so I looked like a sporty bandito with a penchant for lycra.

The snow joyfully came down – and with thoughts of illustration I whipped out my phone and shot a quick video of the War Memorial, doing it’s best to look like the Gates To The Underworld…

A little bit of video.

As you can see, it was a little on the weathery side.

There was about 3cm (so just over an inch) of snow out there, and it was great fun whishing along in my Vivobarefoot Breatho Trail shoes. I followed the Parkrun route, in the hope that I could report back and it would go ahead tomorrow – unfortunately it got cancelled, but I can understand why – if you can’t walk there you wouldn’t make it, and you’d need to be well wrapped up.

One interesting thing about Buffs that I discovered – they are great, but they do hold onto the moisture a little – by the time I was done, it was soaked, and the lack of breathability meant that every time I breathed out it expanded like I was some kind of bullfrog. Wonder if there’s some kind of work-around, I really like my Buff and find it madly useful for most things.

I tried out the Strava running app today – second of my freebie running apps, and it worked fairly well – the actual review will follow once I’ve given it a good try out.

On the way back, I passed another runner, I think we were both surprised to see another mad person out on a snowy night.

Got home made tea, now sitting here and wondering if I should venture out again later, or wait until the morning…. decisions, decisions.


More ice, please

Posted: 17/01/2013 in Running

After yesterday’s joyous plod around the trails of North Tyneside, I was ready for more. In fact, I was so ready that I took my running gear back to work and carved out a bit of lunch time to get out for a quick five miles.

Jon very gallantry lent me his YakTrax, as I’d left mine at home – if you’ve not come across them before, they’re a stretchy rubber mesh that fits over the bottom of your shoe, with springs wrapped around the rubber – the springs are sideways on to the ground, and when you step on the ice they dig in, stopping you from sliding. I hope they didn’t initially try them lengthways on, or there would have been some YakTrax tester trampolining down the path.. I’ve got the regular version, but Jon’s are the sportier ones with a velcro fastening across the top of your foot to stop accidental jettisoning. Very nice they were too, though it was interesting to note that even these slight bits of rubber and spring massively cut down on the sensation coming up from the path as I ran.

From the office, I ran onto the Waggonways – up the track and across the road at Shiremoor – a bit further up the path and under the bypass and TWANG! the landscape opens up in front of you. It’s just ridiculously refreshing when you see open skies, wide vistas and a bit of countryside. Like this:

Earsdon Snow

Just bloomin’ marvellous.

There are three trails heading off from here – Jon has cycled some of them and and says there’s some fine routes to be had. For now though I was heading back the same way as yesterday, up to Earsdon and then back to the office. The snow was less soft, more icy and there were fewer muddy puddles – guess that’s what you get for a sub-zero evening the night before. Crunch, crunch, crunch, I could have been advertising Crunchies. Hey, if Crunchy are looking for people to advertise them, I could help out. I also like Crunchies, so I’m the perfect Crunchy-advertising package.

When I’m out in the countryside, I like to pretend in my head that I’m running an ultra-marathon – I like to believe that this is part of my training plan for …erm… running ultra-marathons. Well, it’s 80% in the mind, they say… it’s fun, but sometimes leads to a Forrest Gump “I could just keep going a bit longer” moment. I’ve never run across America as a result of one of these moments as yet, but I suspect I’m working my way up to it.

As part of my run, I tried out a new GPS app for the phone – I’ve got about eight different free running apps loaded on the phone, and I’m planning to review them and hopefully crown one king. It was not the most successful attempt at a new app that I’ve ever had, but I’ll save all the excitement for when I get around to writing a mini-review. Reckon it’s only fair to give it a few goes before writing anything about it.

Rock on runners!

It was a crisp and wintry lunchtime, and the hardy members of the Lunchtime Running Club headed out into the only mildly lethally slippy ice. The weather was sunny, cold, but there was hardly a breath of breeze.

Not folk to be put off by a bit of snow, we headed out onto the Waggonways, intending to follow the same route as in previous weeks. It turned out that the packed and rutted snow was OK to run on, a slip here and a slip there, but otherwise pretty good. As we got up to Shiremoor and the the turnaround, I figured it would be good to go a bit further – further is better, right? So, on a little bit and under the bypass and into the fields. This is more like it, countryside, snow, horses and trails.

As it turned out that none of us had much of an idea where the paths went, we took vaguely random turns, and ended up, via a lovely set of undulating trails at Earsdon. There are a few ways to get back, but they’re all along the road, so we headed onto a promising looking track. Sure enough, it took us up to the road and back along to the bridge. Back down the Waggonway and to work.

Sounds simple? Well, it was 4.8 miles of fun, a bit slippy, a bit slidey, a bit damp and a fair amount of mud. Came back with one brown foot after a bit of a surprise puddle discovery. A grand bit of company, a new track and a bit of a longer run. That’s more than 2/3 of the 10k, and as such I think qualifies all of us to make it ’round. Once you’ve got 1.4 miles to go you can see the Lighthouse, so I reckon that’ll be enough to keep you going.

It’s interesting the topics you come across while out running – who’s your favourite James Bond, what’s your favourite film, is that a massive puddle over there, can we look at the horses, does anyone know where this path goes?* They’re not the questions that spring to mind when I’m running on my own, and I’m finding that I like running with other people for a bit of a change.  I had a mint time with Allan last night, running around Beaconsfield, slowly turning the hills to mud, and I love running with him on his “Beginning to Run” programme – it’s quite an honour to be part of it.

Reckon I might take my gear back to work tomorrow – it was good fun today, and I could fancy another go on them trails… 🙂

*Sean Connery, Doctor Strangelove, yes – it is (splosh), no you can’t and no-one has a clue.


Posted: 12/01/2013 in Uncategorized

10 miles in under an hour and a half. Very pleased.

That is all.