Upstairs, Downstairs and in the Master’s cabin

It’s an amazing three and a half months now since November 10th when I last ran outside.  It seems unlikely that I would choose to get back out there on a day where the weather was turned up to full, but there it was… Daren was back in town and very little, weather-wise, would stand in the way of my catching up with him.

We met upstairs at Jack & Jill (as opposed to downstairs at Clayton Rec ground) and our run almost instantly turned into a retreat for a cup of tea… the wind was shocking!  Daren is the master of a boat (though I’m not sure that he or the owner would thank me for calling it that) and as such is well used to weather of all kinds, so for him to put his hood up gives a reflection of how bad it was!


Undaunted (well, a little) we faced into the biting wind and got on with our run.

The usual route was taken, which is basically a sublime roller coaster ride down to Pyecombe, up to Woltsonbury, down to Clayton, up the tank tracks to Home Hill and back down to the windmills.  An early comment from Daren made me realise that I was running around puddles… he pointed out that by the time we reached Clayton we would be coated in mud, so there was little point avoiding the puddles at this stage.  The new game was ‘running through puddles’!

We paused at Wolstonbury for the view before slip-sliding down the other side.


As we neared Clayton, we reached the path that is eternally muddy, even in the full scorch of summer.  Today the mud was glutinous and wall to wall so his early assessment had been correct… the best way was through the middle!


This picture is a little shaky because I was laughing… Daren is up to his knees in a muddy puddle and that wasn’t the worst of the mud by any means!

We ran on through Clayton and reached the bottom of the tank tracks, aka Daren’s Nemesis.  This path takes the direct route up the scarp slope of the Downs, but we kept pushing and managed to reach the top without stopping.  The downside of reaching the top was that we came back into the wind, low laden with stinging rain!

The upside was that it was all downhill back to the cars, so we made light work of it.  Strangely enough I got wetter in the few short minutes it took me to remove my muddy shoes and running longs than in the whole of the run… the wind was blowing the rain horizontally into the car, a little like sitting in the surf on the beach.

6.25 miles dispatched in a respectable 1.16 is a shade under 5 mph… not at all bad bearing in mind the conditions.

I enjoyed it so much that I’m inclined to run outside again.. well, maybe when someone turns the weather down a little!

Working downstairs

Another post containing two runs, this time because out of the last ten days, I have spent two days lecturing or in meetings and eight days working at my desk marking (fortunately really interesting) strategy papers.  

On average I spend twice as long marking each paper as I’m paid for (to reach the standard required by my client), but it’s at least pushing me slowly up the experience curve.  HA… of course I’m not always as upbeat as this, but my current task is now complete so I’m currently basking!


Last Sunday I was basking too, this time eating breakfast in the garden for the first time this year… fine weather indeed for the middle of February and all the more so bearing in mind that in the deluge two days earlier, the stone garden had looked more like a river bed!


On the sunny Sunday though I had decided to run a for a little longer and push through to 45 minutes.  I had clearly expected to write my blog post later that same day so I made no notes on the board… and thus, other than vaguely remembering that it was hard work, I have little to say about it.  I covered 5.36 miles, an average of 7.14 mph.


I saw this excellent example of positive PR in the paper this week… it seems like a visit to the cafe at South Downs Nurseries Garden Centre in Hassocks is to be recommended if you’re looking to shed your walking stick!


I’m feeling more generally upbeat this week because, for the first time since the autumn, there was a glimmer of light in the sky when I got up at 6am.  I love the speed that the mornings lighten from here as Spring hastens to take hold.

I’ve been waking up with a painful leg for the last few mornings, probably because, despite being disciplined about getting up to walk around between papers, I have sat at my desk for something like 50 hours in the last week or so.  I really pity office workers… at least I generally get a real mix of working environments.

So today, having completed my mammoth marking task, I was happy to take to the machine once again.  Not wanting to overdo it I started at 7 mph and increased by 0.2 each quarter mile until I had completed a mile.  Then I returned to a base of 7.2 mph and repeated, all the way through to a final quarter mile at 8.2 mph.

Nothing strenuous, but good ground-floor foundation reinforcement!

4 miles took me 31 minutes 38 seconds, an average of 7.58 mph and because I worked up to it slowly, I was not exhausted at the end.  However, with my leg in mind (only painful laying down) my legs got an extended cold shower for their effort!

Hard going four me

It would have been really easy to have skipped my run today as I was enjoying reading and also had a crick in my neck, but I managed to usher myself onto the machine before I had the chance to escape.

I started at the same speed as last week, 7 mph and 7.5 for the first two quarter-miles, but then increased to 8.5 and 9 mph  After the first mile I was 17 seconds off the 8 mph pace and after repeating it a second time, whilst making the speed increases a little early, I was only 13 seconds adrift.

Then my subconscious started to pull rank and I soon found myself running at 6 mph.  It’s a funny thing, that energy-preservation override and more than once I pushed the speed up a little, only to find it come back down again.

4 miles took me 31.29 in the end, an average of 7.6 mph, which is actually not so bad.  I just need to remember to start more slowly next time, whilst Kim pointed out that I had no fuel in advance of the run, so I really was running on empty.

So far I have managed to curb the urge to sleep this afternoon, first by going shopping for a Japanese cherry blossom tree and later by putting some vibrant music on whilst we prepared the stew for tonight.

In the end I didn’t get as much reading done today as I would have liked and the neck crick is still there, albeit less prevalent, but it was really nice to have a more relaxing Sunday after missing all those ones in January.

Research mode

photo (5)

I’m in research mode today, reading reports on strategy & change management in large and unionised organisations to help inform a potential project.  My mind needs space and time to digest the information, so I thought I would try an experiment.

Last year I met the guys from Armadillo Merino, who shared the merits of the merino wonder-material… aside from its lightness, wicking ability and natural odour resistance, what really appealed to me was the idea that I could compost it when it was finally of no use to me as clothing.

As an experiment I bought three t-shirts from Armadillo, giving one to my brother Nigel (kayaker), one to Kurt (runner), the owner of the brilliant running shop Run, and kept the third for myself (lazy oaf?).

Since then, aside from wearing formal shirts for work, I have worn either the Armadillo t-shirt, or another similar merino one, pretty much non-stop.  It really is an amazing material!  Reports from Nigel at Christmas were that, despite already being a merino fan with a large number of garments, he too had worn it a lot because it was so lightweight and comfortable.

Sitting, working barefoot in the sun this morning I became aware that my t-shirt was just starting to pong… I hasten to draw your attention to the ‘starting to’ preface to ‘pong’, lest you think that I’m a slob.

The proto-pong was no real surprise as I had been wearing the shirt on and off since Sunday morning.  Hence, in a break between articles, I quickly hand-washed it, loosely wrung it out and, being in an experimental mood, put it back on. Wet.

It’s certainly more comfortable when it’s dry, but it was no so uncomfortable in its wet state that I felt the need to take it off.

After about 15 minutes the sun went in, which meant that the temperature dropped, my socks and shoes went back on and my fleece too.  I was aware that the shirt was wet, but it wasn’t cold and I was able to carry on working.

In all it took about 45 minutes for the body to become dry with the remnants taking another 15 minutes or so.  Not bad!

While Armadillo’s core target market is service personnel (army, police etc) I can’t help feeling that this is actually a backpackers dream garment too!  And if I still ran an agency I would definitely specify merino for riggers, event managers etc.  Hey, but that’s a whole different experiment!



I seem to be short on time, all round, at the moment… but correspondingly high on frustration for some reason.  

Hmmm… I can’t help feeling that there’s a link there somewhere…

Anyway, I did manage to fit a run in earlier today, albeit on the machine again.  Starting from 7 mph I increased the speed each quarter mile… 7.5 to 8 to 8.5 mph… before going back to 7 mph and repeating for the next mile.  In the final quarter mile I slowly ramped up to 10 mph before finishing, exhausted.

As a result I managed to complete 4 miles in 31.03, an average of 7.74 mph.

The picture above is a neat guitar pedal that my big Bro sent me.  I haven’t managed to figure out how to use most of its features, but it has a very simple 40 second recording facility that allows you to either play along to a riff that you’ve played into it, or record further layers on top.

What this really means is that I have been driving Kim mad playing short melodies again and again and again and again and.. well, you get the picture.  Thank you Bro!