Monday, 24 September 2012


This could have so easily been one of those weeks to regret, one of those in which every day I almost went for a run, but for one reason or another (bad night’s sleep, long travel with work - pick your excuse) I never actually did. Cue Demi, the heroine of the week! Through gentle prompting and careful sidestepping of my excuses she made sure I got out there, turning missed runs in useful miles and intervals.

Not only that, but she completed her own runs with such great focus and determination, taking her first sprint work and speed interval exercises literally in her stride, that I was too ashamed to skip my own...

It only goes to show that living with someone doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing one’s exercise, but can help in making best use of one’s time (it was the kind of week where the ‘almost runs’ would mean playing computer games instead, and how does that help complete a marathon?)
I also started my strength training this week. I use a site called Jefit to compile my exercise routines, which then syncs with the app on my Android (iOS version available as well) and lets me follow the routine at the gym. What’s more, for all the exercises already in its Exercise Database it contains handy animations and descriptions on how they should be performed. You can of course add your own custom exercises to your routine (which can be split over as many days as you need, to focus e.g. on different body parts on different days) and it remembers both the weights / resistance at which you performed each exercise last time, but also your all time best.

The routine I’ve come up with is built around two sessions per week, Day 1 one working the core, arms & legs and Day 2 the shoulders, chest, back & core. They last about 1h each, plus warm-up. I’ve also come up with a sequence (lasting no more than 15’) of 5-6 other core exercises that I can do at home to make sure I’m working my core the target 3 times per week.
So all went well this week, at least until Saturday came and left... On Saturday day was still longer than night, the sun was shining (by and large), running was pleasant (evenings still bright, but nice and cool) and then that stupid Earth had to stand square to the Sun on Saturday afternoon and then tilt back, past the point of equinox and into winter...  and winter certainly obliged!

But duelling on the Equinox a bit longer, I am informed that in pagan celebration the autumnal equinox marks the start of winter preparations... “It is time to respect the impending dark while giving thanks to the sunlight”. I suppose that for runners that means high-viz vests and waterproofs, careful planning of running routes and times and taking advantage of any opportunities to enjoy running in the natural light. Weekends are an obvious candidate for this of course, but I’ll also try running during lunchtimes at work (my programme includes a number of sub-50minute runs) and will report on how this goes next week.

But while I don’t necessarily mind running in the dark or the rain, there will be times when it is just easier to use a treadmill instead... While I certainly don’t prefer it, it does at least make it easier to keep the speed up during the intervals and I’ve found an unexpected way to combat the boredom... audiobooks! Not exactly in keeping with the image of the sweaty runner thumping away to the beat of “running compilations”, but I enjoy the irony of settling down to listen to a nice read while at 80% of HRmax... it also helps the mind wander and act as a distraction in place of an undulating route or beautiful scenery... Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll always remain an outdoor runner, but a treadmill is better than not running at all.

And a sobering thought to leave you with... the weather and darkness will only get worse, and days are not due to become larger than nights again until three days after Rome! So I better get used to it...

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