Today’s lunchtime run in “flyover video”

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(Update 16 Dec 2011: I’ve had to remove the embedded video, as it always autoplays every time anyone visits this website. V annoying!)

Here it is on the mapmyrun website:

A natty feature courtesy of the folks at MapMyRun. You don’t feel the hills quite so much in bird’s eye mode 🙂

Ten toes running diary – Day one

Reading time: 3 minutes

I recently bought a pair of Vibram Five Fingers running “shoes” after reading about barefoot running on the Britmilfit website. I’m not currently doing Britmilfit, but have done over the last ten years and can thoroughly recommend it.

Today I was able to put a last minute client rescheduling to good use, and finally had a chance to get out and try these odd looking things out.

Will report back

In short…

  • yes, you do get some very odd looks – and not just from your kids
  • no, you don’t have to wear socks (though I may try some Injinji at some point)
  • yes, you can run on the pavements and road, but it’s much more pleasant on the paths in the parks
  • warm down, especially your calf muscles
  • people do not clean up after their dogs down Friern Road (pronounced as in Fry ‘n Laurie)


In more detail…

With a place for each toe, it’s an odd sensation putting them on, a bit like trying to put skiing gloves on your child – where you’re not totally in control of each digit.

I’ve worn them round the house a bit already. I was keen to get used to wearing them and to get used to people looking down and pointing at them (in this case, it was my three children, the 16-month old making the oddest noises of surprise).

You have to get used to not landing heavily on your heels, which are no longer have a thick rubber cushion. I thought this would feel odd, but it turns out that my instinct took over – probably in self-protection mode – and I found my running style altered itself fairly quickly.

Early morning a few Christmases ago in Dulwich Woods I’d popped my right ankle – audibly. It’s never been quite the same since, and I was definitely conscious of it running “barefoot”. But it wasn’t painful, it was just there.

On my way in to Dulwich Park I bumped in to local fitness trainer and Goodrich School Fun Run organiser Liz Stuart, and stopped for a brief chat. She reminded me of the need to get used to this new running style gently. I’m glad she did, or I might have been tempted to add in an extra lap of the horse track – which I’m sure I’d be paying for now.

Sure enough, I got some funny looks – bemusement, pity, derision, outright hilarity… so I was glad I’d trained for that.

I’d worried beforehand about sharp stones, glass, dog dirt. In fact I wasn’t convinced it would work at all running on the pavement. But pavement running is okay, and you just have to be a little more vigilent at spotting sharp or squashy hazards.

I kept my first run slow and on the short side – just shy of three miles. One hour later, after stretching down – particularly my calf muscles – I have a very slight burning sensation on the backs of my heels, and my ankle is still there. But generally I feel fine.


Running away with my thoughts

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Just wondering if Twitter is changing the way I think.

Even just thinking that sentence through as I type it, I wonder if I might tweet it, and subconsciously estimate the character count. (54 if you include the full stop, which I may not)

I think of my best tweets when I’m running.

Well, they always seem good at the time. Some even feel profound, insightful, useful, helpful.

When I get home, they’ve vanished.

Thoughts in 140 characters or fewer, processed and filed away somewhere in my prefrontal cortex.

It used to bother me that I couldn’t remember them, but now I accept it’s just part of my internal discourse, described so insighfully by Haruki Murakami in his excellent book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, (which I thoroughly recommend to anyone who runs).

A few weeks ago I had coffee with Matthew Solle, who recorded and summarised our conversation as part of a series he’s putting together on his website. Thankfully Matthew captured some of the things I feel quite passionately about in writing, including my inability to write some of my thoughts down.

Sometimes people kindly offer me advice, such as using my phone’s voice recording facility. I definitely plan to give it a go. I fear I may become too self-conscious and aware of the device to verbalise the thoughts as naturally as when in conversation. And if I commit some of my thoughts to writing, perhaps I might somehow kill them off.

But I also wonder whether sometimes what matters more to me is the thought process itself. To borrow that well-worn cliché, the journey is the destination.

My Dad’s running the London Marathon and raising money for Myeloma UK

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This year on Sunday 13th April, my Dad is running in the London Marathon.

He’s a London Marathon veteran, but this is his first since breaking a bone in his neck two years ago in a near fatal fall while walking in the Swiss Alps.

This year he’s raising money for the cancer charity Myeloma UK. Myeloma is a form of bone marrow cancer, which my Mum was diagnosed with four years ago.

You can donate securely online right now via his Just Giving web page.

What do I do to keep fit?

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Nigel tagged me a wee while ago and I’ve finally had a moment to respond.

Here are a few things I do to keep fit:

  • Running – it’s my Dad’s fault, and it’s his Dad’s fault! There’s nothing quite like it for clearing my mind. The more undulating the better… the Yorkshire Dales and the eastern Pyrennees are perfect, and East Dulwich and surrounding area has plenty to offer too.
  • Cycling – to work – it’s a 12 mile journey each way and I’m managing about 6 journeys out of 10 a week at the moment.
  • Not using lifts and walking up escalators – there are 124 steps at Elephant & Castle, down in the morning, up in the evening. When I’m not cycling of course.
  • Walking – what better way to get to know somewhere than to have time to stop every now and then and look up.

Running track question

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Why do we run in an anticlockwise direction on a running track?

Has it always been anticlockwise?

Is it clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere? [No, actually scrap that]

Does it mean top athletes’ descendants will have shorter left legs than right? [Actually scrap that one too]

Gmaps Pedometer

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Brilliant Google Maps hack, just what I’ve been looking for.

Work out how far you’re walking, running, cycling etc. using virtual map pins.

Turns out I wasn’t far off when I guessed Sunday Circuit at 10km in an earlier post.

Using Gmaps Pedometer here’s the circuit at 9.7km (I’d add 300metres to get to the circuit from where I live and back.

You can also toggle elevation on and off to show you all the hills in profile.

26 miles 385 yards

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Good luck to everyone doing the London Marathon on Sunday.

It’s been years since I ran a marathon (I did 3 Londons and the Vienna – very different atmosphere and architecture!) – but last night I was moved to tears by the inspirational stories told in the BBC’s run-up to the marathon programme. Steve Cram and Sally Gunnel are given 6 months to coach 13 “unfit” people to run the London Marathon (I’ll post up a link if I can find it). Update it’s called Run for Glory

It reminded me of the amazing array of emotions you go through as you prepare for the event, along the course, the finish, and afterwards hobbling around trying to find the “P” tree! Magic.

Sunday circuit

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Good run…

  • Up Dunstans Road and turn left (South) on to Lordship Lane
  • Opposite Harvester on South Circular go through gate and up Cox’s Walk to Dulwich Woods
  • Up hill over disused railway tunnel at back of Sydenham Hill Wood (Nature Reserve) which comes out on Sydenham Hill
  • Turn right along Sydenham Hill to mini-roundabout (towards Crystal Palace Television Transmission Mast)
  • Left at mini-roundabout (as if going to Penge)
  • First right through gate in to Crystal Palace Park
  • Follow path through to where the palace used to stand and then head across park towards Crystal Palace railway station
  • Turn right just before station to bring you out by bus depot
  • Go right (East) back towards East Dulwich
  • Take a left down College Road… until you reach the South Circular by Dulwich College
  • Turn right along Dulwich Common (A205 South Circular)
  • After 250 metres go left through gate in to Dulwich Park
  • Run across park, exit through the gate which takes you up Eynella Road
  • Go up the hill, over the lights at the crossroads, and down Barry Road
  • Turn right at Goodrich Road
  • Go left either down Friern Road or Upland Road to take you to Underhill Road to complete the circuit

It’s quite leafy and fairly undulating. There are some great views North across London and it’s great imagining what it must have been like when The Crystal Palace was in its prime

47 minutes this morning

Not sure how far, feels 10k-ish