31 January 2011

Janathon complete ... lots of firsts and lots of thanks

I decided that I would take my youngest son to the gym and run on the treadmill for the duration of his gym program ... and did just that :-)

I just wanted to end Janathon running, even if it was on a treadmill.  I ran 7.2 miles at an average speed of about 7mph.  You get a few looks when you stay on the treadmill that long!  I didn't know how my head managed it really as it really is a bit mindless.

Final Janathon total appears to be 167 miles :-)    (sorry about all the smiles)

Janathon has been a great experience:

I've run more miles in one week than ever before.
My dog has run more miles in one week than ever before!!
I've made more trips to the gym in one month than ever before.
I've blogged more frequently in one month than ever before.
I've probably read and commented on more blogs than ever before.
I think it's the first time I've blogged about my running.
I've sent my first Tweet - only one though.
I've tried out new gym equipment for the first time.
I've had my first Achilles tendon injury (well it's a first).

and ....

I've been fortunate enough to have shared Janathon with a superb group of people. 

At the beginning of Janathon I was thoroughly enjoying the madness that Gary and Auswomble inspired me to greedily eat miles at a rate I suspected my body might disagree with.  Would I have started out more cautious had I known I was going to get an injury, honestly ... possibly, but that would never happen and I loved it.  It wasn't about what my body could manage, I wanted to see what my head could manage.  I know now that I could do some high mileage with a bit more training (and possibly a new body).

The injury is interesting as I have always had one foot that sticks out more than the other.  Over the years I've tried to correct it but it's always been there.  This might be the root of the problem and I will probably see if anything can be done.  I didn't think it would affect my running, I did have an insert put into my ski boots so this might be the solution for running.

I think there has been some discussion about awarding prizes next time.  Personally, I didn't push at the beginning because of the prizes and I'm not sure that they are needed.  On the other hand having prizes is fun too.  As a suggestion, perhaps the prizes might be distributed using a draw amongst all those that completed Janathon successfully - just a thought.

I am in awe of Gary, what an achievement! But I am also inspired by the runners in deep snow (see Yes, I'm Still Running...), the extreme heat such as Auswomble or in the middle of exams I run for cake!

Not forgetting those who have just started running, want to get fit, want to lose weight, training for a first race, marathon or 2011 miles ....  or just want some help to run outside in the cold and wet.  Every blog and every runner has a different story and all inspired in a different way.  In one month you could read about a new baby and sadly about a bereavement.  I regularly read blogs from as far afield as Manchester and also the Netherlands, New York and Australia - pretty amazing really.  I loved the way that running speed didn't segregate runners.  Thank you for sharing your running and a glimpse of your lives during Janathon.  A big thank you to Cathy and her team - Cathy you are a real gem and you deserve a medal.

Finally, I asked about vegetarian meals and had some very helpful feedback - thanks guys.  Runtezza wrote out a favourite recipe and posted it!  You are an absolute star, have a look at http://runtezza.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/vegetarian-recipe-4-u/ I will be making this dish, thanks.

I'm hoping to keep this blog updated, anybody else going to keep on blogging ... but maybe not every day?

30 January 2011

"A machine as versatile as the human body...", 'The Redbreast' and too much sex in 'Transition'

Firstly, thanks for the ideas for freezable vegetarian meals. JogBlog your website does look very interesting, if you haven't seen it, have a look at  Planet Veggie, and Kathryn we have just ordered one of the 101 vegetarian cook books.  It helps to get some recommendations - thanks.

Last night I had an enjoyable evening watching 'Inception' with my youngest son.  The other two boys were out with friends and my wife disappeared upstairs.  I haven't watched a movie from Blockbusters for a while - good fun! 

Transition [Book]I have just finished the book 'Transition' by Iain Banks today.  Very different from his other books, quite a bit of sex that didn't always seem to be in context (i.e. I think there was too much of it or it wasn't written very well).  I wondered if he was trying to write a book with a screenplay in mind.  Some interesting ideas, good plot, fairly interesting characters but I'm just not sure if it wasn't just a bit clumsily put together, it didn't quite flow.  It felt like the author had ideas that he was trying to squeeze into a plot. Still, I think I enjoyed it - it kept me reading to the end. 

The RedbreastI've started reading 'The Redbreast' by Jo Nesbø, I enjoyed 'The Snowman' so hopefully this should be a good read too. 

Today?  It's been a busy day today. 

Went to the gym with my youngest son this morning.  He followed his programme which includes quite a bit of Powerplates work.  I did some different exercises to those that I did yesterday, including about 2.6 miles on the treadmill at about 7mph.

Other than the running, other exercises:

15 minutes cross trainer
3 x 15 single arm row on each side
3 x 15 reverse flye
3 x 15 lateral raise
3 x 15 pec flye

This pushes my Janathon total up to about 160 miles.  I'm in 8th place! I'm sure a few more people will pass me yet ;-)   It's also showing that I'm in 4th place for number of hours of recorded exercise I've completed this month - all a bit of fun.

Precor AMT 100i Elliptical TrainersThere are some notices about indicating that the gym has ordered some more of the AMT elliptical cross trainers.  These are big, sophisticated cross trainers that move your limbs like an insect.  We have two in the gym and seeing as we are to have some more, I thought I ought to have a go - perhaps even tomorrow.  This helps me in my quest to try out all the equipment in the gym.  AMT stands for Adaptive Motion Trainer, evidently it is "A machine as versatile as the human body ...", haven't seen one doing Janathon.

After the gym I took my son off  to a pantomime teenage cast reunion.  Together we were supposed to purchase some sweets and cokes from Booker that my son (this is the youngest I'm still referring to) has been selling at school.  As his gym programme took a little longer, I ended up taking the shopping list and purchasing the items for him, almost £90 worth!

Well I think that's enough for today, only one more day left of Janathon - it's been great :-)

(P.S.  The 'Blogger' spell checker is very odd, it can't always recognise complete words.  Do other people using 'Blogger' have this problem?)

29 January 2011

Powerplates induction, more gym and freezable vegetarian meal suggestions please

Firstly a request.  I've got the impression that quite a few Janathon participants are vegetarian.  We are looking for recipe recommendations that:
Are freezable in small portions.
Good for feeding hungry teenagers.
Don't use meat replacements.

Powerplates Induction
As I mentioned before, my youngest son and I had Powerplates induction.  Definitely going to add Powerplates to my exercise routine. It's early days but I think I found that the vibration made some exercises a little easier as it had a kind of relaxing effect.  Very good for stretching and massage too.  So I recommend it but I shall have to see the long term benefits. 

My youngest son loved the Powerplates.  I can see that the Powerplates in the gym will be used a little more often in the future ;-)

As I said before, my youngest son had a gym exercise program written for him today.  He is very much into the performing arts and does quite a lot of dancing.  After an audition, he recently became a member of a Street Dance group and he is now keen to develop his strength, balance, aerobic fitness and agility.  I think the gym instructor was quite surprised at preparing a program for a 13 year old with a target sport of dance!  Anyway, my son came home very motivated and wants to attend the gym three times a week! A good result.

Middle son and my wife came to  the gym too.  I'm sure my eldest son would have come along as well but he works on Saturdays. My eldest son is 18 and his Saturday job is Playworker at a local playground/centre for children with special needs and disabilities.  I'm tremendously proud of what he does.  He has responsibility for a child in the morning and another in the afternoon - the child may have any disability or special need. I think I would find this demanding and the fact that he does this as an 18 year old Sixth Former is quite remarkable.  But it's not just a job, you can see that he gets a great deal of satisfaction out of making small steps of progress. I am very, very proud ;-)

I'm probably boring you so to round off the boredom my exercise today was a real mixed bag:

First half an hour was an induction to the Powerplates:

I didn't count how many we did of each exercise, but the exercises included.
press ups
tricep dips
30 sec plank
30 sec side plank
etc etc for half an hour

After this I spent about 45 minutes going on other gym equipment:
3 x 20 leg extension
3 x 20 leg curl
3 x 20 hip abductor (outer)
3 x 20 hip abductor (inner)
3 x 15 shoulder press
3 x 15 lat pull down
3 x 15 bicep curl

No aerobic activity as I still have a bit of a dry cough, I'm sure I'm not contagious though.
Finally, the last 15 minutes we all went back to the Powerplates and ...

1 minute side plank each side
Stretching and massage (which was very good).
Quite a bit of laughter too.

That was my Janathon exercise today - I'm feeling quite pleased :-)

28 January 2011

Gym Ball Extravaganza

The encouraging comments I had after yesterday's post really helped - thanks guys :-)

Not sniffing as much and cough is getting better.  I thought I might run out of inhalers (Symbicort) as I use it more when I have a cough, I certainly wouldn't have had enough for the weekend.  Took me ages to get through to the doctor, eventually got through and all sorted.  It's amazing how much the inhaler helps me recover from a cough compared to in the past.

My doctor wouldn't let me scuba dive last year as I had used my reliever inhaler (sabutamol, blue case) sometimes during high intensity swimming lessons.  I was most frustrated as if I hadn't been exercising I'd not have used it occasionally at these times.  Anyway, I decided that I would have to change my regime and used my other inhaler a little more often than previously (morning and night), this did the trick.  Subsequently I haven't used the reliever inhaler and so I should get the okay from our doctor next time I want to go scuba diving - I do carry it with me when I go running though.  The other way this has helped is that I seem to get over coughs much, much faster.

REEBOK Core Gymball - 65cm (With Pump and DVD)

Back to exercising ...
I decided that I'd keep away from the gym tonight although I'm probably out of the contagious side.  I'm hoping to take my youngest son to the gym tomorrow as we have an induction on the Powerplates and he is having an exercise plan written up.  I expect I should be okay but I won't over exert. So for a change I decided I'd work with a gym ball at home.

I haven't used the gym ball in ages so first thing was to find it, I looked everywhere and eventually found it in the loft.  Then the thing needed pumping up, I must confess that I used a little electric pump to get so far but then it couldn't manage anymore.  So out came the hand pump, put the ball between my legs and started pumping.  I have to say that I was pleased that I wasn't in a public place! Naturally, I would have found this a lot easier when I was younger - my arms were pretty tired afterwards.

I then had to look up some gym ball exercises.  I kept having to run up and down the stairs to check if I was doing each exercise correctly.  Some of the exercises I found quite difficult, as indicated in the list. It was a good session and my heart rate was lower than last night (even after going up and down the stairs).  I still tried not to over exert and I didn't do any exercises that hurt my Achilles tendon.

This was all followed by a thorough session of stretching from one of Matt Robert's books.

The session:
All exercises using a gym ball (except running up and down the stairs and stretching)

Pumping the gym ball up first., phew!
25 x basic crunch
25 x core crunch
25 x back extension
20 x elevated push-up
10 x balanced push-up (difficult)
1 x 1 minute plank (easier on ball)
25 x side crunch each side
25 x opposite limb extension each side
20 x abdominal rolls (phew)
25 x bent knee bridge
10 x twisting prone jack-knife each side (difficult)

Also include running up and down the stairs to check on my computer if I'm doing the exercise correctly!
Followed by gentle stretching.

I did try the odd exercise that I gave up on for various reasons.

I will need to work on the exercises I struggled with.  Janathon total is the same, 157 miles.  Feeling better and feeling happier.

27 January 2011

Sniff! Cough!

Sniff! Cough! Feeling rotten :-(

Well I'm not giving up now but I'm aware I have to be really careful.  I decided that I would not subject other gym goers to my cough and I wasn't sure what I could do there anyway.

Popped on my heart rate monitor and carefully did the following set of exercises making sure my heart rate was low. I did each exercise and then stopped when my heart rate reached about 100 bpm ensuring my heart remeined below 110 bpm.  Then I waited for my heart rate to drop into the 80s. Ended off with some gentle stretching.

I'm sorry there's not much more ...

1 x 25 crunch
1 x 20 oblique crunch each side
1 x 20 reverse curl
1 x 1 minute plank
1 x 1 minute side plank (one each side)
1 x 25 back extension
1 x 25 another abs exercise tha tI don't know the name of!
3 x 20 lateral raise
3 x 15 reverse flye
All followed by gentle stretching

These exercises took about 40 minutes which shows how slowly I was going.  I actually felt better afterwards (and still do).

Janathon miles remain stuck at 157 miles - it woud be nice if it went to 160 miles but we'll see.  Quite a change from the beginning of the month, oh well! 

26 January 2011



It was hard going to the gym tonight as I'm feeling rotten, I've got a cold and I didn't sleep well last night. Yawn. My cold is above the neck so I felt it was safe to exercise despite the fact that I don't want to. I do realise that having picked up a cold there, I'm probably now perpetuating it.  However, I did try to keep bug transfer to a minimum and kept my hands off the equipment wherever I could, kept away from the weights and wiped the cross trainer down.

So really simple tonight - no running, no weights, no grappler, just the cross trainer for half an hour at a healthy aerobic effort level.  Sniff!  Really simple post to. Sniff! 

Janathon mileage stuck on 157 miles, lots of hours though.

25 January 2011

Grappling and tiger art

Yesterday a bit of poetry and today some of my son's art but first what I did for Janathon.

I was very pleased to go to the gym with my middle son today.  He cycles to school every day instead of catching the train and regularly goes to the gym so he's very fit ... plus he eats very healthily!  Not bad for a 16 year old.  As I've explained previously, not unusually for a Dad I'm very proud of my three sons - obviously each of them has his strengths and weaknesses. My middle son is very disciplined, but he is also quite an artist.  He said I could show you one of his pieces, it was difficult to decide but here's one ...

Once again at the gym today I was on the treadmill.  To alleviate my boredom I tried to read the subtitles of the 24 hour news but this was a mirror image and I didn't have my glasses on - I gave up!    I wouldn't  risk doing much more than the mileage I have been running recently so today's mileage was 3.6 miles.  My Achilles tendon is a bit sore but it's not getting worse (I hope) so I think I shall probably maintain the status quo.

My average speed was about (perhaps a little under) 7 mph again, maybe a little slower than yesterday as I have a bit of a cold.  I included a few short speed sessions just to stretch a bit.  I've been wearing my heart rate monitor at the gym (when I can find it) just to check that I'm not pushing too much, I hardly ever wear it when I'm running outside.

The cold I've acquired is probably a symptom of visiting the gym. It's ironic that a place where you go to get healthy is such a good place to pick up bugs. Still, it builds up the immune system I suppose.

I went straight from the treadmill to the grappler (rope pull).  I'm very pleased as I grappled for a full 15 minutes - truth is I've been grappling most of my life.  I used one of the interval settings too which made it a little harder.  This is the longest time I've used the rope grappler and I was feeling okay afterwards, I think it might help my swimming.

That was it! Janathon mileage is now about 157 miles. My mileage is not going to increase dramatically but injury happens and subsequently my focus changed. And I'm still enjoying Janathon. 

24 January 2011

Briefly, I fly

Briefly, I fly

The foot falls and another step forward,
Another step that was to be, that is and another step that will be
And in-between,
In-between I fly
Briefly, I really do fly.
I am me, in control of the next step.
That will be mine to take,
And fly again I shall,
Me, running, me.

Me, but not selfish indifference,
But more free,
The foot falls again and another step forward,
And pain, anguish somehow are left a little behind.
A little of what troubled, sweats away with each footfall,
My steps that I take,
Me in control, the worries that are not so great,
And in-between I fly,
Briefly, I really do fly.

My hopes, my future, my heart,
Pumps forward, my legs push back,
Taking my eyes to the future,
As one life holds all that I am,
In me,
That I was,
That I am right now.
The foot falls once more and another step is done,
And I delight in knowing,
That all will be better,
That I am alive,
Here, now, my body tells me,
My spirit will soar,
I know it, I feel it,
I am doing what I can do now,
Briefly ...
Oh so briefly ...
I really do fly.

A bit of a hard day today, just a few different things I'd rather not talk about.  I wrote this poem in a late afternoon coffee break - I felt much better afterwards.  Helped me complete my work.

Gym again tonight with my wife but just for half an hour.  Ran 3 miles at about 7mph and then did a few minutes on the cross trainer.  Achilles tendon isn't right, it's a little sore so no long mileage for a while I expect.

Met my swimming instructor tonight as I was doing training on Monday nights last year.  I've committed to swimming as from next term.  She's really pleasant and very good, a gold medallist Paralympian but very modest.

Janathon total is about 153 miles.

23 January 2011

A sleepy dog, teenage attire and the word 'solipsism'

Both my oldest sons have exams tomorrow and they have been studying in the kitchen where are dog lives.  He's very pleased to have their company but my sons do stay up late, and our poor dog is looking a little tired.  Poor chap is just not used to the late nights - waking him up in the morning is like having a fourth teenager :-)

Talking of teenagers, I (like many other adults) have a thing about these low slung trousers that reveal underpants. If you've ever seen a toddler walking around with a wet nappy that's seeped through to his pants, well if left the pants start to hang and effectively become 'low slung' owing to gravity and heavier pee soaked pants.  As the pants start to drop, the poor thing can't walk properly and can only walk from below the knees - remember that picture the next time you see a teenage boy with low slung jeans. I have three teenage sons and they are not the biggest offenders ... but they still do, sigh!

So (because I'm not finished yet) yesterday when Dad (me) is looking for a clean shirt for the gym and wanders downstairs with the belt of his jeans undone and maybe just one button of his button fly undone with (please note reader) a shirt on and (the most important note) no underpants showing whatsoever and in my own house, my own house with no visitors!  What do my eldest two sons say, 'Dad please don't wander around with your trousers undone' !!!!!!  This said in a critical and disparaging tone ... and ... and not a hint, a smidgen of the irony!  (Sorry about the exclamation marks.) Need I say any more ... other than sigh! I still love 'em.

I learnt a new word today (I guess I might have known it once but I'm too old to remember):


Philosophy . the theory that only the self exists, or can be proved to exist.
extreme preoccupation with and indulgence of one's feelings, desires, etc.; egoistic self-absorption.

So back to exercise and all that stuff ...

My youngest son (13) enjoyed his first visit to the gym today and next week they are going to write a plan for him that will complement his dancing.  Also, we are both scheduled for an induction next weekend on the ... Powerplates!  I figured it made sense to have a little help to get the most out of this vibrating contraption, and it is fun to learn with my son - when I'm not embarrassing him.

So about today, today I ran 5.2 miles at 7mph on the treadmill.  A bit of a twinge from my Achilles tendon but I'm going to take it each day at a time.  I'm not sure I can tolerate much more than 5 miles on a treadmill!!  I guess I'm not sure my tendon can take much more either and the treadmill is gentler than the outdoors. Other than a bit of stretching, that was it.

Janathon total is a touch over 150 miles - my goals have changed and I am feeling mildly positive.

22 January 2011

Treadmill running today - yay I'm running but it is boring!

I think I have said before that I have three sons, all teenagers.  This, of course, means that we have a fairly male dominated household - my poor wife! My two eldest sons have girlfriends and they are both here tonight. I realise how different it is when we have a few more females in the house, it's pleasant and ... altogether calmer I suppose. With two sons in 6th form I'm very aware that our lives will change quite dramatically in the coming years, I have mixed feelings about this. Pleased to see my sons become young men that I am very proud of, but sad when I realise how grown up they are and the little boys that they were are memories - time moves on.

Talking of growing up, my youngest son is having his induction at the gym tomorrow.  This will be his first time at the gym and I'm sure he will move from one piece of equipment to the other rather quickly.  He does dance so the gym should help build some strength and (maybe) increase aerobic fitness.  In my experience young people get a little bored at the gym, I can understand this, I get bored too.  Still, I shall have to make it as interesting as possible for him.  Maybe arrange a program for him.

At the gym today I went on the treadmill so I am very pleased.  I ran 3.5 miles too. It is boring though, to be outside would be so much better. My full set of exercises:

3.5 miles on treadmill at about 7mph
3 x 20 leg extension
3 x 20 leg curl
3 x 25 hip abductor (outer)
3 x 25 hip abductor (inner)
3 x 12 shoulder press
3 x 25 tri-cep press
3 x 15 chest press
Janathon miles are up to 145 miles :-)  But how will my Achilles tendon feel tomorrow???

21 January 2011

My wish for some Red Kite running ...

Well that was better.  I have found that my Achilles tendon is fine in the morning but has then started creaking later in the day and yesterday it then started getting sore.  Today it was fine so I decided to us the elliptical cross trainer followed by the grappler and I'm pleased to say all is okay.

I needed some good aerobic exercise as I've had a stressful day today.  I won't go in to details but I'm glad today is over.

The Red Kite (not my photo)

Who knows, I might be able to go running soon. I don't think that I've mentioned before that I associate my running with the call of the Red Kite.  My main running route takes me across some fields and we have loads of Red Kites there.  As I approach the beginning of my run they often give their distinctive call -  I'm missing that call at the moment. A beautiful bird that is now thriving locally since reintroduction a few years back. Hopefully I'll be doing some Red Kite running soon.

My gym session tonight included:

25 minutes on elliptical cross trainer
11 minutes on grappler (rope pull)

Janathon mileage remains at 141.5 miles

20 January 2011

The creak came back, Scout badges and Physics Coursework

The ankle creak came back so no treadmill :-( 

This was useful  ...

... and so was this!

I didn't get to the gym today. Really busy in my work, I started early, finished late, took my son to Stage School, unpicked and then glued badges on a new Scout uniform and helped my son with his A level Physics Coursework (not sure I helped that much)!  I'm tired so this is a short blog post today.

But I did still do some exercises at home.  I concentrated on my core and completed the following set:

2 x 25 crunch
2 x 25 oblique crunch each side
2 x 25 reverse curl
2 x 1 minute plank
2 x 1 minute side plank (one each side)
2 x 25 back extension
It was quite tiring but I do feel I'm getting stronger.
Janathon mileage is 141.5 miles, nothing changes - sigh.

Yes, No or maybe ... I don't know!


I don't know?  Should I or shouldn't I? Do I or don't I? Yes, No ... maybe?  My ankle has stopped creaking, I can't feel any pain so do I try treadmill running again tonight?  Will I make it worse? Maybe I should crosstrain for 5 minutes and then onto the treadmill ... I'll see! ? :-(

19 January 2011

Mr Forgetful and the lost comments

Mr Forgetful - now where did I leave that comment?

With so many people doing Janathon I occasionally find that I leave a comment and then can't remember the name of the blog.  These forgotten comments (and more importantly forgotten blogs) and my inability to recall which of the 200+ blogs they were is really frustrating me.  So there are a few blogs that I haven't returned to, I'm sorry if yours is one of these blogs, although you wouldn't know that was the case, sigh.

This is it!
My ankle is creaking (i.e. my Achilles tendon is rubbing against its sheath).  It's not particularly painful but today I have curtailed any treadmill running or use of the cross trainer.  I decided I would extend my time on the grappler to 10 minutes continuously followed by another 3 minutes.  This gives me a bit more aerobic exercise without flexing my ankle.

After the grappler I mainly concentrated on strengthening my legs and also included exercises for my hip abductors. Let's hope it all works and the creaking stops, I could try a touch of WD40?

I had a read of the Power Plate instructions and exercises but a vibrating plate didn't seem to wise an exercise for my ankle.   

My trip to the gym:

3 x 25 leg extension
3 x 25 leg curl
3 x 25 hip abductor (outer)
3 x 12 single arm row on each side
3 x 25 hip abductor (inner)
10 minutes on grappler (rope pull) increasing resistance

3 minutes on grappler (rope pull)
Now I might not be able to to run and increase my Janathon miles but one benefit of this is that my wife has been going to the gym with me every night except last night :-)  She's doing very well indeed and is doing more aerobic work than me!
Janathon miles are 141.5 plus lots of gym trips. 

18 January 2011

Running robots, treadmills and bugs

Asimo - the first running robot although he runs a bit like I run at the moment

I would quite like to do some robotic engineering and watching the episode on robots from James May's Big Ideas series reminded me of that. Have you seen Asimo run?  However, right now I have a bug in one of my designs and it's getting to me a bit - I find it difficult to think of robotic engineering when I'm stuck on a design problem, oh well!

My background in engineering is in designing and developing equipment for broadcast but over the years I've designed electronics, systems and software in just about every industry, from research, to hardware and software for satellites, medical electronics, aerospace, semiconductors right through to consumer electronics and even electronics for plumbing!  Right now our company is working on quite a range of products so I'm kept pretty busy - particularly on that bug!!!

I have a great deal of video and audio compression experience, and have worked on portable integrated systems. Consequently I have often thought that the ideal system for a runner with ipod, GPS etc.  has not been developed.  In my mind I have slowly been putting together this 'ideal' system for the runner.  But that is the problem, what I think is important and 'ideal' is probably not what others see as important. What would be interesting is to hear what other runners find irritating or good about the gadgets they use.  Perhaps what would be your ideal feature no matter how outlandish!  I'm not saying that I will design it but then it's not out of the question.

Anyway, back to the gym tonight and .... I went on the treadmill.  I ran 1.5 miles :-)   I think my leg is okay too.  I find treadmill running boring and I'm not very good at looking up and watching the TV monitors at the same time - perhaps I put the treadmill on too fast?  In our gym nobody puts on the safety line for treadmill, I don't all the time but if I'm running fast I do, but I'm not sure I've seen anybody else use them. Why is that?  Why do we tend to shun safety devices?  Is it cultural or do all humans behave this way? There just seems to be a pressure 'not' to take safety precautions, interesting.

But treadmill running is running all the same and I'm feeling happier (except for that bug).  I don't think treadmill running counts towards Janathon mileage?  I haven't included it.

Here is my gym session, you will notice that I also did two lots of  '5' minutes on the grappler, that was really hard going and I had to reattach my shoulder afterwards!

5 minutes on cross trainer
1.5 miles treadmill (increasing speed 6.5mph to 9mph)
2 x 5 minutes on grappler (rope pull)
3 x 20 leg extension
3 x 20 leg curl
25 x crunch
25 x oblique crunch each side
25 x reverse curl
1 x 1 minute plank
2 x 1 minute side plank (one each side)
Janathon mileage still 140 miles but who knows when I might have a little run?  And it was soooo sunny today plus a beautiful clear night and the moon looked wonderful earlier.  Did I tell you one of my other interests is astronomy, but time for bed .... I might have a look at the bug before though, sigh!

17 January 2011

Chaos, books, interleaving and leg exercises

Chaos Walking Series (different covers to ours)

I went to the gym today. Yawn!   BUT ... I did some leg exercises and 15 minutes on the cross trainer :-)

Does your gym have (normally expensive) kit that is rarely used?  Our gym has three Power Plates that are hardly used.  I look at them and think what on earth do you do with that?  Are they any good?  Here is a photo of one. I shall have to give it go.

Power Plate with power woman option attached
I have to say that I've not tried all the equipment in our gym.  I suppose I should work my way round and try a new piece of equipment once a week.

Anyway, I've been really busy today.  I'm presently interleaving three projects which is interesting but I am quite tired by the end of the day.  I've just started reading a new book by Iain Banks called 'Transition', the problem is that it interleaves the stories of a number of characters.  All this interleaving is quite hard going, my brain is starting to feel like sliced bread.

However, as I progress I'm finding that 'Transition' is quite a compelling read (despite the interleaving stories) - we'll see.  I've just finished reading the 'Chaos Walking Trilogy' by Patrick Ness.  It's targeted at teenagers/young adults and was quite a good read.  My youngest son has started reading the first book, it takes a little getting used to but I think he will enjoy the series.  My eldest son read the first book a year or so ago and complained that it was depressing.  I can see why he thought it might be but the series doesn't shy from tackling some fairly adult themes of how society functions during war, touches on genocide and how individuals can make a difference. It is a world where 'almost' all thoughts are visible and how humanity adapts to this new world is the source of the conflict that is a link through the books. 

The three books are a touch disjointed but that's not unusual in a series.  I enjoyed reading them.  I've got carried away and ended up doing a book review - I do enjoy reading though. I also wanted to read these books before encouraging my youngest to read them on account of what my eldest son had said about the first book being depressing.

You know the other book I read not that long ago that interleaves different stories is the 'Cloud Atlas' by David Mitchell.  Again I enjoyed it and it was different but not always easy ... but stop talking about books.

Back to the gym.  As you can see from my workout my leg is healing, yippee!

15 minutes on cross trainer
3 x 20 leg extension
3 x 20 leg curl
3 x 12 shoulder press
3 x 20 tri-cep press
3 x 12 bicep curl
1 x 3 minutes on grappler (rope pull)

So Janathon still has me at 140 miles but hopefully I might start running again ;-)

16 January 2011

Another exciting episode ...

Still can't run so no photos at the moment as I'm trying to keep off my feet whichn means I'm not even walking very much.  I'm doing a family newsletter at the moment and I came across this photo which is from the Royal Parks Half Marathon, sigh, a reminder of when I could run.  I'll be back running soon though :-) Adds a bit of colour to my post.
So it was back down the gym today so this is going to be really interesting.

I used the rope pull (grappler) for longer today and it was really hard work, my shoulders felt like they were going to drop off.  Like so many exercises there is a probably an easier way of using this piece of equipment but I do find I get maximum benefit by extending my arms up as you would for swimming, not that I would extend my arms 'up' when I'm swimming, that would be 'horizontal',  unless I'm drowning  of course.  Well ther you are, the Grappler is also good in case you are drowning and you need to extend your arms up to wave for help. 

This is the Grappler - the machine not the guy!
As I said, I started with the grappler today so my shoulders were quite tired very tired wasted.  I then did some weights but I have to admit that I couldn't manage all three sets on the shoulder press so I wimped out! 

My main emphasis is trying to build my core strength.  I had forgotten to add that I had done 20 reverse curls yesterday.  I have always found this exercise hard going which probably means it's working.  My wife seems to find it easier, probably my heavier legs, who knows?  As a word of caution, don't do core or abs exercises when you have gas. Yes I am trying to spice up my blog on my gym trip.

When I was extended out doing a plank I (perhaps a little bit smugly) thought that I don't see many people doing this exercise.  I turn round and there's a young lady doing the same thing and possibly not straining as much! 

I Achilles tendon feels better but it is still a little swollen so I shall wait a bit longer.

My workout today:
3 sets of 20 tri-cep press
3 x 3 minutes on grappler (rope pull)
3 sets of 12 lat pull-downs
1 sets of 11 shoulder press
20 x oblique crunch each side
25 x crunch
25 x reverse curl
3 x 1 minute plank (including single leg and single leg abduction variations) 
2 x 1 minute side plank (one each side)

Janathon mileage still 140 miles.

15 January 2011

Core variations

Good workout again in the gym.  I used the grappler more today as it certainly gets the heart beating.  I reach for the rope above my head and keep my body fairly straight to try to mimic front crawl. There's a mirror in front of me so I can work on staying symmetrical and straight.  I think it will help my stroke but it's hard work!

I also added some variations on my core exercises without pushing too hard of course.

It was good but I really want to get back to running.  I will see how my Achilles tendon and knee feel like tomorrow but I might go for a 'short' jog with my wife.  I must be disciplined and keep it short and easy!

Thanks for all the encouragement, it really helps.

Exercises I did today:

3 sets of 20 tri-cep press
3 x 2 minutes on grappler (rope pull)
3 sets of 12 lat pull-downs
3 sets of 12 shoulder press
20 x oblique crunch each side
20 x crunch
3 x 1 minute plank (including single leg and single leg abduction variations) 
2 x 45s side plank

Janathon mileage is still 140 miles but my overall fitness is improving :-)

14 January 2011

The Grappler

My messy desk (it's not normally this messy - honest!)
There you are, a photo of my desk. It will have to do as I can't run.

So what can I do?  Well I am trying to identify muscles that I can exercise that aren't aching. This is a worry because, like yesterday, the bottom half of me is broken and the top half is aching a bit more.  As long as the top half doesn't break before the bottom half is fixed I should be okay.

All this gym work on my upper body is not really me.  I used to look at all the young men doing weights and think, 'tut, tut - you should do some aerobic exercise!' .... now I feel a bit of hypocrite.   

So off to the gym we went.  I can't go by myself so my dear wife came along, she wasn't expecting be exercising quite this much when I started Janathon, she isn't complaining. 

Tonight I changed the program a bit again:

3 sets of 20 tri-cep press
5 minutes on arm pedal thing
3 minutes on grappler (rope pull)
3 sets of 12 lat pull-downs
3 sets of 12 shoulder press
20 x oblique crunch each side
20 x crunch
2 x 1 minute bridge 
Not in that order.  I am trying gym equipment I haven't used before.  I hadn't used the grappler before, it's quite hard work and aerobic.  I used it at the end of my gym session but I shall try using earlier next time. The grappler is a rope pull, I imagine it will be quite good for swimming - but what do I know! 
I'm a bit tired tonight and have some work to do so I shall post this and hope I repair soon.
Janathon mileage is stuck on 140 miles and will be for a while I think.  On a positive note I think Janathon is providing me with an all round workout, I really wasn't expecting that.

13 January 2011

Aching on the top, broken on the bottom and can't read the letters

I seem to have established a routine when I publish a Janathon post:

1) Write the post
2) 'Briefly' scan it.
3) Publish it
4) View the post on my blog
5) Spot an error.
6) Fix error and republish post.
7) View the post again, spot another error and decide I'd better read it through properly at least once.
8) Read through and then republish.

9) Then I pull up Millie Lavelle's Google Reader and admire my post there ... spot another error. Fix error and republish.  Go back to Millie's Google Reader, and read a few of the blogs I haven't got round to reading. 

Most of the time I will write a comment, sit back and read it.  Is it too long, too short, missing the point completely, patronising, total rubbish, inappropriate?  The last one I'm particularly sensitive about, the second to last I'm particularly good at and the third to last I sometimes do without realising.

I then go to post my comment and quite often the are-you-human-so-read-the-letters-test will pop up, I glance at the letters and sometimes I'm flummoxed!  Can I make out the letters? What if I get it wrong?  I have to say I don't always get them right - does that mean I'm not quite fully human?  What does it do if you keep getting them wrong?  Does it say 'You are not human, you can't read the letters!'

'I am, I am - please give me another chance'

'Nope, you can't read the letters. You have failed. You will be removed'

'Removed?  REMOVED?  What will happen now?  It's the wheelchair isn't it, that's what the wheelchair is for.  I AM HUMAN!'


'If you are human .... then you are too stupid.  Good bye!'

Okay, so that doesn't really happen but I do sometimes struggle a bit with those are-you-human-so-read-the-letters-tests.
Talking about comments and inappropriateness.  The other day (yesterday) I posted a comment on a fellow Janathonite's blog and then I realised that I'm the first person to comment on the young lady doing naked yoga post.  Oh dear, that's not appropriate, a middle aged man commenting on a post like that.  Why did I choose this post to comment on?  Because you skipped the one that made references about sports bras (I think), I just can't contribute there, not that I've done any naked yoga either.  I choose blogs to read using Millie's wondrous Google Reader  pretty randomly, I think ... I'm sure 'Naked Wednesday' in the title didn't make any difference. Sigh, that doesn't sound too convincing either! So after posting the comment (because I'm getting tired) I think, 'Hold on, how old is this blogger, I hope she's not a student, she could be half my age, she has flatmates!! I'll be done for harassment.' Sigh, sigh and sigh again!

But about my exercise today, I can't run!  I have a dilemma, the top half is aching and the bottom half is broken.  So the only option is to exercise the aching half - off to the gym I go dragging Mrs Jenks.  The result will probably be more aching on the top half, I hope nothing else brakes  breaks!  I never thought I would be doing so much upper body training in Janathon.

What I did down the gym:

3 sets of 20 tri-cep press
10 minutes on arm pedal thingy (I don't know what it's called and it was the first time I'd used it)
3 sets of 12 lat pull-downs
3 sets of 12 shoulder press
3 sets of 12 chest press
3 sets of 12 single arm row on each side
3 sets of 12 reverse flye
3 sets of 12 lateral raise
3 sets of 12 pec flye
Janathon totals: aching upper body, sore knee, sore Achilles Tendon and I'm stuck on 140 running miles.

Sorry, no pics again unless you want a photo of my desk?

12 January 2011

Better and worse?

Gary V of Local Adventures suggested ice on my knee before and after a run, this has worked really well - thanks Gary.  My knee was feeling much better :-)  I still could only run slowly but all was looking well ...

But unfortunately on my last run my Achilles tendon became sore (same leg as the sore knee).  I finished the run slowly and to be honest it was better running than walking - stopped frequently.  I'm falling apart!

Sorry but all the concentration during my runs resulted in no photos.  Morning run was with my dog, we both got home quite muddy so I turned the outside hose on and washed off Fleet.  As I said it was slow but much better, I was feeling quite positive.

This afternoon my knee was feeling okay, I think I had the odd twinge from my Achilles tendon but all felt fine.  Anyway, I was struggling with a piece of design and really wasn't getting anywhere so I figured I needed to clear my head and went off for a run. I often think through problems when I run and it really helps.  I was taking it slowly and all was going well until about half way - that's when my Achilles tendon started hurting.  It was stop start on the way home and the couple of miles were quite uncomfortable.

Once home I put ice on my knee and Achilles tendon and then proceeded to slosh and rattle around while we were making dinner!  Feels better now, I'll see how the old body feels tomorrow though.  Feeling very tired right now so I need to rest, sorry if this is a bit of a jumbled post.

14 miles today so my Janathon mileage is now 140 miles.

11 January 2011

Neoprene and ice helps

No, my head is not exploding!

That headtorch is a bit scary (saying nothing of the chap strapped to it).

Half way point - I didn't venture down the path.
Well I tried one of those  neoprene knee strappy thingys, I kept fiddling around with it the first mile, decided it didn't seem to be working so I took it off.  After three miles I put it back on again, turned round and ran back home. On my return it worked a little better, I think I had it on too tight initially.  My knee is still quite sore and maybe I should rest it more.  I will go to the gym tomorrow evening and do some leg extensions/curls/bends/cracks/whirls/snaps/pops etc.

Not bad running in the evening despite been hooted at, not sure why?  Taking the photos (which aren't great) was amusing, I think drivers thought I was speed trapping with all my hi-vis gear!

Drivers wondering who the hi-vis chap is taking photos
So it was a bit, or maybe more than a bit, sore but I did 6 miles.  Neoprene strap thingy was also good for holding a bag of ice against my tender knee too ... afterwards that is!  Not even I would consider running with ice strapped to my knee ... well maybe?

Janathon total 126 miles.

10 January 2011

What to do when life is a little bleak

So I'm not running :-(   And I found out that I owe the tax man quite a bit of money (company clerical error) :-(



It could be worse I guess.  So if I'm not running (I really need to give my knee a rest) it's time to go to the gym and do an upper body work. So what did I do ... 

3 sets of 12 Lat Pull-downs
3 sets of 12 shoulder press
3 sets of 12 chest press
3 sets of 12 single arm row on each side
3 sets of 12 reverse flye
3 sets of 12 lateral raise
3 sets of 12 pec flye

Not half as interesting as running but at least I had my dear wife with me.  If I took photos I would have proably been thrown out so you will have to make do with the bleak shot above - stripped down is how I feel after the taxman's assault on me.  I feel a bit better now but I think I'm going to ache tomorrow.

My sons tell me that I shouldn't put noses on smiley or sad faces - what's wrong with noses??

09 January 2011

A big stick and a sore knee

Fleet with a stick that's too big!
 I've got a sore knee, any advice other than don't run on it (i.e. the most sensible advice) please let me know.

Woke up this morning, resting heart rate was down (good sign, as long as it's not too far down!).  Knee was sore but I thought I'd at least try a morning run.

There are some swans in that field

What a beautiful day, frosty morning with a glorious blue sky.  My wife and I set out for our planned run/walk with Fleet our dog.  First we did a half mile walk and then we set off running along the trail.  My wife set the pace and we walked whenever she wanted to.  I very carefully switched on my Garmin for each of the sections we ran.  Good fun it was.

 I feel better ... buggy thingy seems to be going, aching has pretty much gone but my knee, sore! I know that it's just a bit inflamed but it's not happy.
Less than a mile from home

Took some photos, played with dog.  Morning run with wife was about 2.75 miles running and a further 1.5 miles walking.  Knee warmed up so said goodbye to wife a start of trail and off I went for a few more miles with Fleet.


Yachts on Summerleaze Lake

Fleet and I did another 6.5 miles and I returned just in time to take my youngest to his last day at the Panto.  

They were having a party and my son made two cakes as he wanted enough cake for the cast and crew. The left cake lists Tic and Toc with all the other cast and crew below, with the 'Celebs' at the bottom.  Tic and Toc were names of the two groups of kids who were performing - he's loved it.  My wife has a seat for the final performance, my son doesn't know.

Talking of cakes, here is a picture of the Christmas Cake that my middle son made (I mentioned this in an earlier post).  It's delicious and completely homemade :-)

But back to running ...

I was going to go out for another run later, and I would have, had my wife not helped me see reason - my knee is just too sore - any suggestions?  Does hopping count as running?  I might have to switch sports for a while, do a bit of swimming ... maybe.  Sigh!

Janathon mileage:  122 miles

08 January 2011

Blue skies but still not good :-(

The Jubilee River half way through my run.
Backing off the mileage as from tomorrow, maybe.  I think I'm fighting off a bug, resting heart rate is up a little - oh well.  A bit of rest might be in order ... and my knee's a sore.  Too old for this. I haven't been running that long either, about three years now - wonderful asthma drug made the difference.

However, I am planning to go for a short run with Mrs Jenks tomorrow :-)

Did a ten mile run today, why?  A bit sad really but I wanted my Garmin Training Centre week mileage to be a hundred miles - just for me.

Back to my run ...

What I woke up to, the green across the road.
Woke up to a blue sky - happy, happy man.  See photo ->

Not feeling brilliant, head says run, body says no ...
... body, head argument ...
... more body, head argument ...

Go for run, slowly, stopping at regular intervals.

End up running behind lady who I'd normally pass.  Lady happens to be following my route, realise she might be getting worried with strange man staggering behind her!  Don't want to pass her but don't want to stop, she takes a different route - phew!

Then ... 'runner's runs', yipes!  Do I stop?  No, can't see anywhere. Control, focus, mind over ... uh, well, you know.  Keep going, stopping every so often, glancing at watch as if it's planned (very sad).  Focus, control, get to halfway and see top photo. 

By this time mind has done its job, remarkably, tentative relief.  Body still not happy though, so still no speed.
Another photo of the Jubilee River.

Run (jog) (stagger) past pretty young lady on horse.  Smile at her, she ignores me! Irritation, I was bestowing runner's courtesy she probably thinks otherwise, grrr. I've been happily married for almost 25 years, I really don't need this.

<- Take another photo, feel better.

Back over Maidenhead Bridge so I take another photo, see below.

The Thames from Maidenhead Bridge

Reached 10 miles, Garmin Training Centre is happy ... body isn't. I should rest and recover, I'll see how I feel tomorrow ...

111 Janathon miles (feels much, much more than that)

07 January 2011

Wet, very wet and tired, but I got there ... 100 miles :-)

See! Wet and mud!
Wet!  First run in the morning was wet!  Dog was wet! I was wet!  See photo of wet with slippery mud. 7 miles of wet, wet , wet.

More wet and mud!

 Afternoon it cleared :-) dried all my clothes :-) :-) Started running after dry weather has been around for hours, 10 minutes into my run and ... wet!  I get wet all by myself too!  To top it all, a big bus sprays me with more wet! Wet, wet, wet! 10ish miles of wet (but no mud) and I'm so hungry!  Everything is wet ... wet, wet, wet and it's dark and I'm cold and I'm hungry! NO it's not just wet, I'm drenched!

A variation - wet dog walking in mud and wet temporarily ceased to remind you how nice it was when it wasn't wet ... before the wet starts again!

But 4 miles left - 4 miles to get to a hundred miles. Sigh! I can't stop now, I might never do this again.  It's wet outside, and darker, and colder but most of all it's wet .... but I'm so tired, I want to go to sleep, I've had a nice dinner. It's warm inside and so cold outside ... and wet!!!  But it's only 4 miles ... sigh!  But I'm not putting wet clothes back on, and I will find a pair of older 'dry' running shoes ...


... I did it :-)  About 4.5 miles.  And it was dry too!  Although dodging the puddles in the dark with my headtorch was hard going (not all our roads have streetlights). Total rounded up to 101 miles.

100 miles in a week - I'm very pleased with that.  Once I thought I might do it, I decided that I would try and do it early on in case I developed and injury or fell sick. I've bagged it, 100 miles in a week :-) 

Assuming nothing goes wrong, I'm pretty sure that Gary of Local Adventures will win as he seems to be taking the mileage in his stride - very impressive.   Kevin of ...musing...  has little ones, that's exhausting on it's own!  I remember how hard having little ones was, teenagers can be difficult but little ones ...  brilliant fun though, but so are teenagers (sometimes).  I'm very proud of all three of my sons despite the moaning - grumpy middle age man that I am :-(  Well, maybe I'm not that grumpy.

Me? I'm certainly not stopping but I might slow down a bit, see how I feel. I don't use my age as an excuse but I do find if I'm injured it does seem to take a little longer for my body to repair itself. Am I competitive? My 13 year old certainly is! I don't think that I'm that competitive, the goals I have set so far have been my own. Like Kevin I'm really surprised at my mileage so far - I never dreamed I could run so far in one week.  I guess I haven't run that fast but that's okay.

Total so far, 100 miles (over 160 km)  :-)