Two more runs

The recent inconsistency of posting to this site reflects my sense that the current working week, consisting of consultancy, lecturing and all the necessary background preparation that goes with both, started on the 1st January… and that I’ve yet to encounter a weekend.

Not that I’m complaining, as the work is challenging, varied and fascinating.  It’s just not conducive to a serious blogging proposition with its requirement for a predictable flow of posts… not that is a serious blogging proposition, despite its six+ year history!

Since I’m only pausing before the next pressing task on the desk, I’ll be brief.

Last weekend I opted for some intervals.  Working from a base of 7mph I managed to cover 4 miles in 31 minutes 38 seconds, an average of 7.65 mph.  I clearly could have gone faster as I ramped up the speed to 10 mph towards the end.

This morning I followed the same basic pattern but shortened the 7 mph rest periods and generally got the speed up earlier on in the run.  As a result my conscious mind kicked in and I struggled towards the end, limping through the final mile at 7 to 7.5 mph.  Despite this I was only 5 seconds behind last week, with a time of 31 minutes, 43 seconds, at the end of 4 miles.

That’s all for now folks!  Normal service will hopefully be resumed next week… whenever that happens!

Two runs

Between imbibing brain food (aka reading), writing an article, preparing lectures and marking papers, I’ve managed to have a busy couple of weeks.  Such that I ended up deciding not to try to write a speech for a conference, despite it being a really interesting opportunity.  The amount of creative thinking and writing has probably had an impact on my motivation to write this blog, hence managing to skip it last weekend.


We’ve had a period of breakages.  After one particularly windy night, I woke up Christmas Eve to find the fence in tatters… so much for giving the myriad visitors over Christmas a Zen garden to look out on.

The fence has been replaced, but the old bamboo front panels that I made won’t work with it so my mind has come up with a new idea to integrate the new fence into the garden… it’ll have to wait for the Spring though as it’s low priority!  However, the ideation process threw up a great solution for a completely different problem… I now have more than one reason to learn some joinery skills.

I then smashed a salad bowl by clipping it with the cupboard door, our cleaner managed to smash a vase, and I cracked a piece out of my favourite pasta bowl in a drying-up accident.

IMG_1240 IMG_1239

As an incredibly versatile 15 year old ceramic bowl, used at least three or four times a week, it has survived more than 3,000 outings to the table and back to the cupboard via the sink.  If I can manage to glue the fragment back on, it might even see a few more!

What amazes me is how fast accidents happen (in the blink of an eye)… and how much they affect other things when they do.  Even when they are not health-threatening, they still affect our mood.  

My commercial background means that I automatically do a lot of risk mitigation (which must surely be a bore to those around me) but even with this it’s not possible to account for all eventualities or else we’d be living in flame-proof, hypo-allergenic cotton wool.

So, two machine runs to report:

Last week I optimistically started off at 8 mph, but was forced to reduce this to 7 mph after a mile as I just couldn’t hold the pace.  I completed 3.67 miles in 30 minutes, an average of 7.34 mph and was exhausted afterwards.

Today I was more circumspect and started running at 7 mph, but then increased the speed towards the end.  At 30 minutes I decided that I might as well run for a little longer to make the distance 4 miles, which I reached in 33.17, an average of 7.2 mph.  I even wondered about running further still… maybe another time.

I quite often walk outside to stretch afterwards, which I see as the English version of jumping out of the sauna into a freezing lake.  This morning there had been a really heavy frost so I was looking forward to a chilly cool-down, but by the time I got outside, maybe around 10am, the temperature had zoomed up and it was in the ‘cold for a summer day’ category.  England really is the place to go for changing weather!

Time to get back to the brain food… maybe prefaced by lunch!

Call options

2014 has now dawned and thus far it’s an extremely wet and windy year!  A run outside would have been a lovely idea under normal circumstances but, with the weather SO inclement, I chose to run on the machine instead of braving a cold shower outside.

To celebrate the New Year though I decided to go a little further than normal.  Initially I thought that 7 miles would be appropriate, but as the run progressed (hard work at 7 mph) I thought that maybe five miles would suffice.

We’d had a series of house guests from the 18th December onwards, across what turned out to be a truly FAB Christmas!  

Nigel & Kristin flew in from Seattle and stayed right through, my Mum & Dad for almost a week, Debbie & John for five nights (Debbie being my ‘knight in shining armour’ on the catering front!) and Kate & Alex drove down from North Wales to stay for one night.  In addition to this Michael & Jenny came from Wiltshire on Boxing Day and brought Christopher, Philip, Cherry & Helen with them.  Much fun was had!

The tea run!

We ate and drank really well but not to excess, except in the tea department where we eventually ran out of Twinings Earl Grey, something that has probably not happened in my household for 20 years!

We played a lot of guitar too!  My guitar experiment is just coming up to its 4th anniversary and the cumulative effort really paid off over Christmas.

Nigel Foster

The house finally emptied yesterday morning, when I took Nigel & Kristin back to the airport, and I spent the rest of the day tidying up and washing linen.  Ordered calm (and fresh supplies of Earl Grey) only returned yesterday evening!

Back on the running machine, in one of my rambling cognitive excursions, I started thinking about ‘call options‘.  This is essentially a financial instrument used by City folk, but I quite like the general idea behind it.

In my version, the effort put in to learning and honing a new skill allows you to use that skill at some point in the future, thus exercising the option.  You don’t have to use it, but you have essentially bought a call option which means that you can, if you choose… your time and effort was the price.

For example my daily effort in developing my guitar-playing skills over the last four years allowed me to play properly alongside my brother (who is a totally amazing guitar player!) for the first time ever in the 38 or so years I have played… I didn’t have to (and I’m still not brilliant), but it was fantastic to have that option.

Likewise, by designing and running short training courses over the last few years I essentially created a call option that made it possible for me to lecture at UCL and Brighton Business School last year… whilst the Fellowship of Higher Education course that I start in January buys me further options down the line.

In running terms, by putting in the hard work to run five miles I was essentially buying a call option to run a little further, say to seven miles, if I were so inclined.  Two miles is a short run on its own, but tacked on to five miles it makes for a decent run for New Year’s Day.

In the end the lure of being able to write about this slightly tenuous argument was really what finally persuaded me to exercise the call option and run the additional two miles.

So a great start to 2014 with 7.1 miles in one hour… I sense that this year is going to be pretty hard work all round, but hopefully more rewarding as a result.

Of course, having put in more time and effort on the running machine than normal, I then needed to at least try to alleviate the potential after effects in my musculature… thus I didn’t manage to avoid the cold shower after all!

Happy New Year to you all!  I hope that it’s a FAB one!