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A fitting end

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Here are my beaten up old running shoes, which over the last two years have carried me for about 1,500 miles. I've worn them far longer than I ever should've. They have rips, the soles have large flat-spots which are about to wear through and the cushioning isn't what it was - but wearing them was a bit like wearing a favourite pair of jeans. Old habits die hard. However, now is the time to give them a dignified retirement and get them replaced. This poor old pair of Nike Lunareclipse 3s are being replaced with a pair of ASICS GT-1000 v3s. I only hope that they manage to give such good service.

As you might've gathered at this point, I'm still running - and as September approaches, I'm looking forward to having a new set of challenges to work towards. To kick things off, I've got my name down again for Bristol Half-Marathon. When I run this event, it'll have been six months since I ran my last, so I'm looking forward to blowing out the cobwebs and taking part in a large event again. The race is close to flat and it'll give me a good chance to beat the time of 2hrs 5 mins that I managed last year. As the months go by, my times have gradually got a little bit quicker. I'm still hoping to break that magic two-hour barrier very soon.

Not long after that, in a departure from my usual races, I'm running in something very different event - and to be honest, I'm not entirely sure why I've entered it. Nonetheless, here's a sample of what I'll be up to.


It's called the "Tuff-Enuff, Above & Beyond" run and I'm going to get extremely muddy and wet indeed. If ever there was a suitable place for a pair of trainers to shuffle off this mortal coil, this would be the one - that's of course, should I make it around. Road race this is not.

Finally, should I survive that, I'm down for Exeter's Great West Run in October. I've not entered this event before, so it'll be good to take part in a local event that's been running for so many years.

Which leaves me with one question - up to this point, I'll have run nine half-marathons. Perhaps I should do something big for my tenth? Any suggestions?
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Smashed

October’s coming to an end and the clocks are changing tomorrow. As the daylight goes and the nights draw in, my final running event of the year, the Plymouth 10K brings things to a close. It’s been a good year. In September, I completed Bristol Half-Marathon is 2:05:25, over eight minutes quicker than I completed Plymouth’s Half-Marathon six months earlier. The following weekend, I completed the Ashburton Mud Run with @ms_dalliard and then set yet another best at Cardiff the week after, completing their half-marathon in 2:04:25.

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Annoyingly, I could’ve knocked another minute off that time, but three miles into the race I was desperate for a wee. A time of 2hrs and 3 minutes would’ve been awesome - not just as a personal best, but also because I would’ve been able to hold @bikesian65 to his promise of buying me a pasty and a pint for smashing my time by more than a minute!

To round things off nicely, I also ran the Siblyback 10K last weekend and managed to well and truly break the one hour barrier with a time of 57 minutes. OK, that’s still about 18 minutes off the leader, but it’s confirmation that a two-hour half marathon isn’t far away. I can now sustain nine-minute miles.

In conclusion, this brings me to my objective for the coming year - to complete a half-marathon in under two hours. I’ll now continue training through the winter and chances are that the majority of my running will now be in darkness. With a torch strapped to my head, I’ll keep going and I’m lucky to have a great training venue on my doorstep, free from traffic and other distractions. My first event is likely to be the First Chance 10K in Exeter in January and I’m hoping to keep to maintain a consistent level of performance over the winter. That’ll allow me to have a good chance of completing Plymouth’s half in under 2:00:00.

Finally, I’d like to thank my friends for their encouragement, especially @AMHurley28 who got up at shitty o’clock and joined me on the road-trip to both half-marathons. It was good to have the support. Thanks everyone!
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Autumnal Challenge

It’s been over eighteen months since I started running, an activity that I’m pleased to say has now become a well-engrained habit. I routinely run three times a week and that’s allowed me to keep whittling away at my times. As it stands at the moment, these are my personal bests:


So far I’ve managed to improve a full five minutes on my time from my first half-marathon at Cardiff.

However, it’s now time to look to the future and like most people, I find that I perform better if I’ve got a goal to work to. For that reason, I’ve set myself an autumnal challenge - to run three races in three weeks.


The Mud Run is a shorter event and should (hopefully) allow me to rest my legs a bit between the two half-marathons. I’m hoping to break my personal best at either Bristol or Cardiff - and it goes without saying that I’d like to run Cardiff faster than I did last year!

The decision to take up running was something I’ll never regret because it’s had a positive effect on so many aspects of my life. My energy levels are better, it’s helped with my general fitness, being instrumental in my last jujitsu grading - and it goes without saying that fitter people are happier too!

I don’t know if I’ve just tuned in to it, but I notice that more people are running now. We shouldn’t be surprised - it’s a cheap activity, apart from a new pair of running shoes every so often. Coincidentally, I’m on the verge of wearing out my current pair of trainers having run approximately 850 miles in them. That’s something of a novel thing for me, to wear out a pair of running shoes by, you know, actually running in them. I doubt the me of ten years ago would’ve believed I would ever do that!

Look out for another update in October.
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Tumblr

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve started a running log that details my efforts in getting fit for the Cardiff Half-Marathon. If you’re interested in following the story of a chap who most definitely wasn’t born to run, have a look here.
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Unwind

Just a quick post today to give you an update on my grading, which took place on Saturday.

Saturday was a good day. In the morning I attended our club’s yearly seminar, which I always thoroughly enjoy - not just because we had more time on the mat, but because our awesome Maestro Silvano Rovigatti was there to demonstrate. I don’t think there’s ever been a time when I’ve not taken away some useful tips from his tuition, which was particularly useful because he graded us in the afternoon.

Having had two pre-grading sessions during the week already, the grading itself was relatively short. Nonetheless, I think we did ourselves justice. For me, the regular running has helped my fitness no end. My recovery time is now pretty quick and I didn’t get too puffed at all.

As for the grading, well we weren’t graceful nor was our self-defence pretty, but I feel pleased with what I managed. We all took quite a beating and picked ourselves off the floor each time. Here’s an example vidcap for you - I’m the one who’s mid-air.

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So I’ve come away as a second dan, which as you can imagine I’m pretty chuffed about. However, I don’t want this to be the end. If the last few months have taught me anything, they’ve made me realise that I’m pretty fit now and I could do with another challenge to keep me going. It’s likely to be at least three years before I can grade again - so in the meantime I need something to keep my fitness up and not get complacent. For that reason, I’ve submitted my entry for the Cardiff Half-Marathon in October. It’s about five months away and gives me ample time to train and work on my ability to run past 10K. If I can manage that, who knows what will come next?

Don’t be surprised if you see some sort of runner’s log popping up in the near future as it’ll be interesting (for me, at least) to chart my progress. In the meantime, I’m going to sign off and get some alcohol in me. I feel like I’ve deserved one.
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What If?

Ever had one of those, “What If?”, moments? Read More...
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Epiphany

A quick update on my running progress. Read More...
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Monotony

How I’m trying my best to introduce some interest to something that I really don’t like doing… Read More...
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The Final Frugality Challenge Update

Total for December: £31.74
Total for 2007: £1,275.46

So, there you go - I aimed to save £1,500. On the face of it I've failed, although I beg to differ. £100 Per month is still a tangible sum. Unfortunately, the car break-in meant that I haemorrhaged money during the course of December. It was a shame, because I had quite a cheap Christmas. It would have been nice to fully reap the benefits and increase the total saved for the year.

That said, I could have tried harder in many other areas. I managed to do quite well with my shopping, but in other areas I could have been more aggressive. As the challenge was to save money as ethically as I could, I don't think I did badly in that respect. The Good Shopping Guide became my bible and at the same time as saving money, I managed to do so with a relatively clear conscience, so much so that my new habits have become second nature.

The challenge certainly hasn't been a lost cause. Most of the consumer choices I've probably made in not just the last year, but over the last several years have been influenced out of ethics, whether that be finance, food or clothing - it's just that there's more work to be done. For example, the fixed-rate on my mortgage comes up for renewal this year. I'm now in a considerably better bargaining position than at the start of the term and as a consequence I believe I should be able to lower my repayments, whilst using an ethical provider. I'll keep you posted on that one.

I'm also pleased to say that I've observed retailers changing their habits too (M&S is a big example). The optimist in me hopes that consumers consciously choosing to buy "good" products has spurred this on. This is a trend that I hope to see continue throughout 2008, because it'll make my life a lot easier when it comes to making the right choice on what to buy.

Finally, you could argue that the lack of a true motive meant that I had no real impetus to push the project further. For example, I don't have bailiffs knocking on my door, nor do I need to find a job. However, as you'll have seen from one of my previous postings, that might be a different matter - therefore I think I'll be continuing with the exercise, because you never know when it might happen.

It's been an interesting exercise.

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