Relaxing stops run

It is seldom these days that you will catch me watching the news.  I subscribe to the view of author Nassim Taleb, who says it is ‘full of noise’, in contrast for example to history, which is devoid of it.  One example of this is what journalists do when there is no story to share… rather than saying nothing and going straight to the next programme, they share what they don’t know, or what they know didn’t happen.

Well, today I didn’t run.  And like a journo, rather than stay silent and have you wonder where my post was this weekend, I’m going to tell you about the non-run.

After a busy week I entered the weekend pretty tired out and then had the kind of quiet, relaxing Saturday that you may have come to expect of me…

First I gave the 15-foot hedge at the back of the garden a manicure with a hedge-trimmer.  Then I trimmed back my neighbour’s 20ft Philadelphus where it overhung the tea-house.  Then I cleaned the baked-on residue of the Phily-flowers from the (normally see-through) tea-house-roof.  Then I manicured the other neighbour’s 20ft Laurel where it overhung the fence, followed by trimming a couple of my more normal sized shrubs.  Then I moved on to edge the lawns, then cut both them and the 1 metre-wide border of the green across the road that the council grass-cutter couldn’t be bothered to cut.  One of my elderly neighbours said the guy had done a quarter of the job… harsh, but not far off!  I bagged up all the cuttings from the aforementioned manicuring and… moved on to wash the cars.  To be fair, that just about finished me off last night!

So this morning, whilst I might just have squeezed in a run before the sun broke through and the temperature soared, I decided to have a Sunday off for a change.

Except for having to clean Kim’s car again thanks to the sterling efforts of a seagull to cover it front to back!  A little like a newspaper, it was black and white and read all over.

Taking a more permissive footpath

It was a Woodingdean day, partly because it was Father’s Day and partly because I had forgotten it was the London to Brighton bike ride.  In fact I only realised the latter en route and was then surprised how easy the traffic was… although it was only a little after 9am.

My intention today was to run to Southease, crossing sufficiently into Cliff’s back yard to call it an incursion without running the risk of discovery.  That’s nonsense of course… I just figured that if I ran the other 2.5 miles to Cliff’s place, then there would be little chance that I would feel like running back again the same day!

My outbound route took me the straightforward way, leaving Woodingdean on Drove Avenue and following the ridge (and the South Downs Way)  all the way around in an arc and down to Rodmell, where I found a new and may I say very open-minded footpath which took me along to the Southease road.

I crossed the bridge quickly (in case of Trolls) and ran as far as the station to prove that I really was there.  So far so good, with 6.6-ish miles taking me 67 minutes, 5.9mph.

The return leg was slightly more convoluted and seemingly, considerably more uphill.  I started by running up and through the deliciously pretty Telscombe (as opposed to the nearby Telscombe Cliffs, which I don’t personally find so charming).  The village sits in a hollow so there’s a very steep hill to climb to get out to the South.

At the top of the road I then turned right with the intention of running around in a little arc to Balsdean Reservoir, but on a whim instead dropped down into the back of Saltdean and ran up past the football ground.  It looked like it might be a more direct route… but wasn’t at all and rather than having to run up the short hill above the pumping station, I was committed to the longer, steeper High Hill above Pickers Hill Farm.

I always think of the reservoir being at the bottom of Woodingdean, but it’s a mile from there to the outskirts, all uphill of course.

Only then could I drop down Balsdean Road to get back without too much more effort.

The return leg was 7.5 miles and took me 90 minutes, a poor 5mph, although in my defence I did stop to take 19 photos en route.

So 14.1 miles in 2.40, giving an average speed of 5.3mph.

My fears about traffic were not unfounded and there were queues back to Falmer and onto the A27 going towards Woodingdean and also at least back to Pyecombe heading towards Brighton.  Fortunately I was going the other way and whilst it was sluggish in a couple of places, I can’t complain.

Surprisingly my legs have yet to feel tired… although there’s time yet!


Le retour de le Bok

Bonjour tout le monde!

After a particularly slow, frustrating afternoon yesterday, I actually contemplated going out for a run (and I can’t remember the last time that happened of an evening!), whilst dinner was cooking in the oven.

Unfortunately I got sidetracked, but the irrepressible Bok must have picked up the vibes, as about an hour later and completely out of the blue, he suddenly thought to call… to arrange a run!

And so at 7am this morning we set out for a delightful run around one of the old circuits: out to the (recently refurbished but now starting to look decidedly dilapidated again) Royal Oak, through West Wood to the industrial estate and back again via the Magical Path and Ditchling Common.

It was a lovely natterful run but, as in the excellent film Le Retour de Martin Guerre, I had to wonder whether this was really the same Bok that I used to run with… and like the film, in an entirely positive way.

I won’t bore you with the important stuff, but this Bok (quite possibly an imposter) did not lead the charge, actually stopped to catch his breath at one point and though he initiated a final sprint to the end, then didn’t have the famous speed of old.

And yet it took about the same 45 minutes to complete the 5.23 mile circuit as we quite often used to complete it in.  A merest snip under 7mph.

It took me quite a while to work my way back through all the references to the Bok in my blog, to the last time I actually ran with him.  I’m glad I was sitting down when I finally figured it out: 6th December, 2008… WOW!

That’s 2 years and 7 months ago… it may have felt almost like yesterday, but no wonder he seemed a little different!


It’s been an April-like week here, with the weather alternating between clear sunshine and heavy showers… even hail at one point, which is not such great fun to run in.  So it was a relief to wake up this morning to a kind of normal, overcast day, even though, as I ran off down the road just after 9am, it started to drizzle lightly.

I was quite surprised by the energy I had, fairly bouncing off down the road and it caused me to wonder what was different.

One thing was a little effort this week using some different muscle groups, namely my arms, which you can read about  Cliff is forever advocating that I do more cross training and I know that he’s right… an hour of this every week would certainly help, aside from putting a huge smile on my face!

I had decided to run to the Beacon today and I did so via Oldlands Mill and Ditchling.  Nothing much to report aside from a huge fallen branch that someone had kindly cut a chunk out to stop it completely blocking the path.

As I neared the bottom of my favourite track up the Beacon, I caught a group of cyclists catching their breath ahead of the climb.  I then ran on up the track and on up to the Beacon itself, arriving in 49 minutes, a respectable 6.1 mph average speed over the 5-mile route.

The drizzle was marginally heavier up there, which made the cool wind more apparent, so I turned straight round and headed back.

I reckon that the two cyclists I found catching their breath by the roadside at the top of the hill were from the group I had passed at the bottom, one of whom was recovering horizontally!  As I ran down I encountered the rest of the group at various stages including one who had only reached the half-way mark.  It’s nice to know that runners can beat cyclists at something… there’s no competition in any other regard.

I guess the ideal compromise would be to have a Brompton Bicycle in a comfortable back-pack so you can run up all the hills and coast down the other side!  Maybe it’s time I had a coffee with Emerson!

The route back was equally uneventful and not stopping to take photos probably helped me get home in just 45 minutes, average 6.67 mph.

Overall, 10 miles in 1.34, 6.38mph average, which I’m pretty happy about!

A selection of surly and sociable cyclists

First, let me say congratulations to Phil Stupples for getting a PB at Stockholm… and beating my Brighton marathon time by a couple of minutes to boot.  It sounds as though the Stockholm course also has more hills than Brighton, so I reckon that sorts out which of us is quicker… and we already know which of us is older too so you win on both counts!

This morning was a Woodingdean run and I set out into an overcast and windy morning with the aim of running to Blackcap & back… the run that I had intended to do the other weekend when I instead met Cliff & Joe.

As I ran down past Newmarket Copse I started to encounter cyclists coming the other way and it turned out they were on the Argus three-day event from Winchester to Eastbourne.

Sharing a narrow path with oncoming cyclists can be slightly irritating if said people are surly and lacking in spatial awareness, which many seemed to be today.  They appeared to assume that I was happy to get out of the way and to run through the stinging nettles & bushes at the side of the path… or stop and wait.  And all without so much as a thank you.

The few that actually thanked me, or were just good humoured & sociable, made it all the more obvious that the rest were just lacking in manners, including the one who almost ran me over despite the fact that I had stopped and was cowering well into the bushes.  An apology might have been nice!

As I’ve written here before, I totally understand how difficult it is for cyclists to open and particularly to shut gates, but this fact does not absolve them of the responsibility for doing so.  Horse riders have a similar challenge, if not more so, but they somehow manage the trick.

I ran up past where I met Cliff & Joe and kept going on up the hill, and up the hill, and up the hill, reaching the top of Blackcap at the 1.06 mark.

Here I unwrapped an energy bar, the latest in my recent trial of lightweight sustenance and after overcoming the shock of finding it to be pink, like chewing gum, started chewing.  Let’s be kind and say that it’s good for the jaw muscles, has a passable taste, but is not quick food by any stretch of the imagination.. it took me four minutes to eat half the bar, at which point I got bored and pocketed the rest.

I started running back and briefly caught up with a cyclist removing all the race markers and I suspected, ensuring that all the gates were shut after the ensemble.  Yeah, right!  Of the following five gates I followed him through he left three ajar, including one to a field of sheep.  Not great PR for the Argus methinks, or for the race organisers.

As I neared the A27, it started to drizzle and by the time I had climbed back up past Newmarket Copse again, it was light rain.  But it was warm enough not to worry, besides which the wind was now fully behind me.

Somehow the return leg took one minute less and the overall time of 2.15 for 12.4 miles, average 5.5mph, included the time to eat half a powerbar.