A faster tempo hour

Sitting in the tea-house this morning deep in thought thanks to HBR, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to allocate any time to running.

I was still a little shell-shocked from having watched The Dark Knight Rises, the latest Batman movie, last night.  Whatever my expectations, I was stunned by the scale of this film… if you like fast-paced action films, then this is a must-see.  I really enjoyed it, even though we had somehow managed to miss the film that precedes it in the story… DVD being sought as I write this!

The highlight of my (already interesting) week was attending the Brighton Business School student awards on Friday and presenting Charlotte Horwood with the prize for Best Strategy Student, along with (appropriately) a one-year subscription to Harvard Business Review.  This was especially well deserved as she worked hard enough to graduate with a rare First!

I would encourage other business folk to engage with their local universities (not to mention schools and higher ed colleges)… it really is very inspiring!  Add to this the myriad ways that business and academia can collaborate to drive collective value and I’m surprised that more organisations don’t do it… though the 50 other organisations sponsoring prizes on Friday would seem to agree with me.

Despite the stuff buzzing around in my head this morning, I eventually reasoned that I needed to get on and run, so I climbed aboard the magic carpet with another tempo session in mind.

One of my curiosities at the moment is to what extent the conscious and subconscious can collaborate to good effect, so rather than trying to trick myself into running further that I initially planned, I simply decided to run for one hour at 7mph.

I covered the distance readout with a towel again so that I could focus purely on time-to-go and then set off.  My expectation was that the faster speed would preclude any deep thinking, but this was not the case at all.  In fact, at the end of an hour I had planned out two potentially interesting cognitive experiments.

With just over a minute to go I sneaked a look under the towel to make sure I was ahead of my 7 mile target, but found I was behind, so increased the speed to 9mph to catch up.

Overall, the run was relatively easy (as evidenced by the deep thought) including the short sprint and I could probably have run further if I had been in the mood.  This might well have had something to do with the mid-week run (from which I had tight calves for a couple of days).

Now I’m sitting back in the tea-house with my copy of HBR waiting patiently by my side… while I hurry to finish this post before my lap-top battery runs out!  Have a great week peops!

A loud out

After more than a month sitting pining by the door following the brilliant Eye to Eye event, my mud-caked runners were finally allowed out to play yesterday.

It was a stunningly beautiful day, made more so by the ensemble which consisted of BIG man Daren, and Dai with Henna the dog.  We met upstairs at Jack & Jill and traced the well-worn path through Pyecombe and Wolstonbury Hill, to Clayton and the Tank Tracks.

The discussion was heavy-going to start with as we unpacked our general frustrations, but this lightened as the 6 miles rolled by.  1.25 of collegial conversation, with the 4.2mph average reflecting the steepness of the hills and the heat of the day!


Tempo hour

My life is fast becoming a series of fascinating cognitive experiments.

In the week leading up to last weekend I spent 53 hours researching an alien (to me) commercial sector, first trying to gain a working understanding of it and later attempting to elicit valuable insights and present them in a coherent narrative.  

My approach to the fascinating project was based on one of my creativity hypotheses and whilst some time needs to elapse for the client to be able to measure the real value of the exercise, one thing was abundantly clear: it left me mentally exhausted!  Such that I wasn’t even able to contemplate a run last Sunday.

A contributory factor might have been a generously hearty dinner at Cliff & Nessie’s… where the combined testosterone from that many serious ultra-runners in one room was probably exhausting in itself!

This week has been fascinating for different reasons.  Tuesday I was a participant in a Phd neuroscience experiment into pain at Kings College.  This involved surprisingly little pain allied to the interesting experience of being scanned in an MRI machine, twice.

As I have aged so the subject of pain has become more interesting.  When I was young I remember my father periodically yelping in agony at various twinges brought on by the gardening which he used as a means to relax.  Now I understand those twinges first hand and the only evolutionary modification is that I try hard not to yelp!

Later in the week I had the privilege of helping Brighton Business School to review their new MBA syllabus.  It seems to be an increasingly common theme for me to help people look at challenges from a different perspective, even when, as in this case, the people concerned are consummate specialists and way more learned than I.

So after another thought-provoking week and with a fresh back-ache to ignore (brought on by gardening yesterday) I decided that I really must get a run in.

My aim today was simply to run for an hour, so I set the speed to 6mph, covered the distance indicator with a towel (and later the clock too) and just got on with it.  6mph is a great speed for thinking, hence the myriad thoughts above, whilst it is also not too draining on such a gloriously warm summers day.

6.07 miles in one hour, 6mph average.

And now on to my next experiment.  My sense is that I either need to strengthen my back by doing more gardening, or avoid aggravating it by doing less… no guesses which one I’ve chosen!

PS congratulations to my niece Kate and her beau Alex, who got married yesterday!


It was a muggy morning after a night FULL of rain (the front lawn was a swimming pool when I went to bed), but it was too lovely to be inside so I opted for a seat in the tea house.  I was particularly glad that I had ignored Mark’s offer of an 8.30am pick-up to go run the Chichester marathon!

I had been sitting and reading for some time, enjoying the smell of the honeysuckle and chuckling at the sound of a bird who seemed intent on waking the neighbourhood, when I had a minor epiphany.  Joseph Jaworski might even class it as a ‘predictable miracle’.

Epiphanies are not actually an uncommon occurrence hereabouts and this one involved a connection between the fields of neurogenesis and change management: it turns out that one of the reasons that scientists have thought until recently that the human brain is unable to produce new neurons is because the primates used in experiments were stressed…. I’ve lost you, I can tell!

Suffice to say that this is a very useful connection to have made and it gave me plenty to think about… so I decided to go for a gentle run.  Gentle is important here, since it gets more difficult to think the more quickly you run.

My aim was 5 miles at an average of 7mph, but after a first half mile warming up at 6mph, I realised that I would need to ramp up the speed to make my intended average.

7.5mph is just too fast to think clearly, but it was necessary so I paused my brain until I reached the half way mark to ensure I was ahead of the game.  Then I dropped back to 7mph for the rest of the way completing the distance in 42.5 minutes.  Average 7.06mph.

I guess that I should also have drawn a connection between muggy morning and running at more than 7mph… I was still dripping with sweat half an hour later, even after a cold shower!

I wonder if Mark managed to stay dry in Chichester?

Putting my back into it

Those people who have dropped in on us unannounced will testify that we live in a relatively ordered, clutter-free way… down to the showers that get wiped down after each use and our somewhat Zen-like garden.  And yet, with six important visitors expected last Sunday, we still managed to spend most of the Saturday tidying the garden and the Sunday tidying the house.  All of which is a slightly elongated excuse for not running last week.

You will note that my excuse has nothing to do with the Eye-to-Eye odyssey.  I actually had surprisingly few side-effects for my 47-odd miles, although it’s fair to say that mid-way through the following week I suddenly developed a severe case of narcolepsy.

However, mid way through last week (eleven days after the odyssey) I suddenly developed severe back-ache.  This was most likely due to gardening, although by coincidence it occurred around the same time after the Eye-to-Eye as it (or something similar) occured after doing the Tour du Mont Blanc last year, so it might well be a case of over-heavy back-pack syndrome.

Which is my excuse for not joining Mark on the Downs at 8.30am (on a Sunday!!) this morning.

Although I had wimped out of a long run I was still mindful that a short run might indeed loosen my back, so I climbed on the machine this morning safe in the knowledge that I could get off at any point.

I started at 6mph and felt pretty-much-every-otherstep jar my back for the whole of the first mile.  Increasing to 6.5mph for the second mile helped a little, as did increasing to 7mph for the third mile.  Some of this was probably due to my back loosening off, but it’s also much easier to skim along at a faster speed… if only I could hold it for extended periods of time!

7.5mph for the fourth mile was as fast as I wanted to go today so for the fifth and final mile I reduced back to 7mph, desperately trying (and failing) to do mental arithmetic to figure out the average minutes-per-mile covered.  As I’ve mentioned before, as the level of exercise increases, so the bandwidth available for processing data in your head decreases.

I completed 5 miles in 44.17, an average of 6.77mph.

I then spent some considerable time stretching-out while my muscles were warm (read HOT!)… in fact the front of my body looked as if it had been glazed, although you only get a sense of how lobster-like it was from the photo below.