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He didn't get where he is today by stealing somebody else's catchphrase.

Where Did The Time Go?

Oh hell, it's August. Doesn't the time pass quickly? Read More...
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M.I.N.D. Over Matter

Well, I'm pleased to say that January is finally over. My total running milage for January was:

edge
As you can see, I managed to reach my target of 100 miles. Am I chuffed? Definitely - and despite my legs feeling a bit tired, I could've carried on for a few more days. As the end of the month approached, I started to get faster again. My resting pulse is now insanely low. Nonetheless, some sports physio to soften up my calfs of steel before my next "thing" would certainly be a good idea. If there's something I've learned during the last month, it's that a normal training regime needs rest days. REDJanuary ended up not being tough because of the distance, but because I had to go out every day, irrespective of the shitty January weather.

It's at this point that I'd like to thank anyone who's pledged sponsorship to MIND (click the link, there's still time) and gave encouragement and support, especially my virtual-running chum @LeoLasagne. He kept the motivation coming and really made me feel like he was running with me, despite living many miles away. Well done to everyone else who took part too. At the time of writing it looks like MIND have raised over half a million pounds, which is amazing.

I'm now going to take a break for a couple of days and then start gearing up for my first half-marathon of the year. Thanks for your support!
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Chasing Unicorns

On this day five years ago, I started running.

Why did I start? Well, the answer is simple. For the previous ten years, I'd been clawing my way through the grades in ju-jitsu and my second-dan grading loomed on the horizon. What harm could a bit of extra cardiovascular work do? I wanted to smash it and feel more in control.

Little did I know what I'd started and how it would snowball in to something bigger.

As the months went by, my fitness improved. My legs, stumpy as they were, started to bulk up. My calf muscles expanded such that I struggled to fit in my usual size of trousers. The infamous "loose-fit" was required to accommodate them. Undeterred, my distances got longer and in the October of 2013, I ran my first half-marathon in Cardiff.

I passed my grading and felt pretty damn good at the time. But why stop running now? Why let all that progress go to waste?

Whatever you've run, whether that be a 5K, 10K, half or full-marathon, you've thrown down a gauntlet to yourself. Can I run faster? Could I run for longer? Should I start raising money? You keep pushing yourself to see what you can do. Running can be a seriously competitive affair, but the competition is in your head.

Covering over 3,000 miles during that five years hasn't stopped me looking for new challenges.

During the course of January, I shall be running every day as part of MIND's RED (Run Every Day) challenge. My distances won't be huge, but that's not the point. As you'll have seen in some of my previous posts, I've mentioned how good running is for boosting one's mental health. When I took my first steps in the park five years ago, little did I know that I'd inadvertently discovered something that was a form of natural medication, but without all those nasty side-effects.

Note: I still believe the "runner's high" is bollocks and about as real as unicorns.

Running every day is a challenge and the barriers are many. Bits of you ache on a regular basis. The great British weather will be bobbins. You keep smelling like a dead horse. However, if you can get over the obstacles in your mind, you've already done the hard bit.

During the course of January, I'm aiming to run 160KM/100 Miles. I completed day 5 today and am feeling quite positive so far, despite how tired my legs already feel. Whilst something of a personal challenge, I urge you to donate to MIND. There are many other idiots like me around the world, doing this and generally getting achey, wet and smelly. Mental health is woefully under-supported in this country and is a cause close to my heart. If you can manage a donation of any sort, I'm sure many people will thank you, albeit indirectly.

I'll let you know whether I break my 100 mile target at the end of the month.
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Achievement Unlocked

I joined ParkRun two years ago. Fifty runs, 250 Kilometres later and I've achieved my first goal.

crop
What I lack in speed, I make up for in perseverance. 100 By the end of 2018, perhaps?
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C30, C60, C74 Go

A few weeks ago I heard an announcement that was something of a surprise, the statement that the MP3 was dead. Whilst I've no doubt that people will still continue to use it for a good while to come, this adds another format to the dead-list, along with cassettes, vinyl*, CD, minidisc, DCC, 8-track and wax cylinder.

Whilst I'll confess I've bought the odd digital download, I still like to have the physical media to add to my collection. My 600+ CD collection continues to grow and I routinely trawl Discogs for other second-hand discs to add to my shelves. I can't see that changing for foreseeable future.

With the death of these formats, there's something else that's been lost along the way - the mixtape.

In my teenage years, the mixtape was one of those things that we all did for our friends and loved ones. Back in the height of the cassette format, I remember many attempts to put together the perfect mix of music on a C60 or C90 (C120s weren't such great quality and used to snap quite easily). The challenge of putting together a mix that used up every second on a side of a C60 was a fun one. Unfortunately in the world of streaming services this just doesn't seem to work in the same way. There's something quite tangible and personal about making your own tape to give to somebody else.

I will confess, however, that I still like to make a slightly-more-modern day equivalent of the mixtape - using minidisc.

Minidisc was a format that was declared dead by Sony back in 2013, although in some areas it's still alive and kicking. Some recording studios continue to use the format and it's still popular in journalism, which is why they still get a good price on sites such as eBay. A standard recordable minidisc contains 74 minutes of music and seems nicely reminiscent of C60/C90 cassettes, albeit with some funky editing facilities. A physical time constraint still remains and time is still required to record the contents.

I bought my minidisc recorder back in 2001 and it's still going strong. My machine, an MZ-R700, is still by modern standards a relatively small device. It nicely fits in the pocket, runs for days on a single AA battery and can record up to five hours on a single disc (although the quality isn't great at that level). I've also got a tiny plug-in microphone, which is ideal if you want to discretely record and make your own bootleg gigs - and blank, new discs can still be bought. Sound dead? No, not really.

As you can see below, it still has its uses - such as recording your vinyl to a format that you can listen to elsewhere….



I have no doubt that the MP3 format will continue to be used for many years to come. Whilst I buy the odd AAC/MP4 track from iTunes, I'm a luddite at heart and still like having some form of physical media to collect - and should iTunes/Amazon/Spotify/whoever go to the wall one day, I'll still have something to show for it. Ultimately, though, I'm convinced that there's no such thing as a dead music format. I'll still rip and burn CDs, I'll still use the MP3 format and I'll still make up my own mix-tape minidiscs. The technology sector is a fickle one and there's already a successor to the current MP4/AAC format on the horizon. Are we going to bin our old iTunes downloads and buy this new format instead in a few years time? I hope not.

Don't believe what the industry tells you. A music format is only dead when you stop using it.

* - Yes, yes, I know vinyl isn't totally dead - but it's definitely "niche".
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