Running in the rain, protected by a house

Apologies for no run last weekend… despite the Bank Holiday weekend I managed to only have one day of rest when I took the opportunity to go to see my folks.  I was also catching up on work and studying most of yesterday, but finished around 6pm and cut the grass as well as the green opposite… I love this time of year!



By the time I emerged from my head this morning (which had been buried deep in Source, by Joseph Jaworski) I had missed the best of the sunlit morning and it was throwing it down with rain.

I contemplated putting on my wet-weather gear… well, not really.  Actually I jumped on the running machine and set it to 7 mph and decided to do 5 miles, or maybe 45 minutes.

After half a mile I increased the speed by 0.2 and carried on increasing each half mile until I had run for three miles and reached 8 mph.  Then I reduced to 7 mph again and increased each quarter mile.  After a final quarter mile at 7 mph I increased to 10 mph in order to sneak my 5 miles in under 40 minutes… 39.51 to be precise, an average of 7.5 mph.

I then cooled down by walking until the 45 minute mark, when my average was still just above 7 mph.  The rain paused just in time for me to go outside to stretch and I’ve spent most of the rest of the day studying… at least I’m enjoying it!

TEDx LBS 2014

On Friday I took myself off to the Royal Geographic Society for my annual pilgrimage to TEDx LBS.  This day of short talks and conversation is a real tonic… I was there for almost 12 hours and my mind has been buzzing ever since.

My congratulations go to the volunteers from the MBA and MiM programme at London Business School for putting on a REALLY professional event.

Rather than provide a synopsis of topics introduced by the 16 TED-standard speakers (which you can see via the link above), I thought I would create a pastiche of the amazing people I chatted to during the day.


Ditchling sans beacon

The chairs on the sunlit deck this morning were damp with dew, so I opted to sup my quadspresso in the tea-house and took the opportunity to read a bunch of articles ahead of tomorrow.  It was warm on the deck, but the tea-house sits against the tall north hedge and it was thus a little chilly, especially with both the door and the side window open.  I didn’t realise how cold until I picked up my empty coffee cup for a refill… it might as well have just had iced-coffee in it!

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I was in ten minds about where to run this morning so in the end I just set out and followed my feet.  After a little gardening yesterday and the inevitable subsequent hay-fever attack from cutting the lawn and the grass on the green, I felt somewhat leaden-footed so I quickly realised my feet weren’t going to take me as far as the Beacon.  Or, more to the point, back again.

I cut through behind Folders Lane,  crossed onto the the common and headed down towards Ditchling behind all the garden centres.  It was firmer going than I had imagined, but still a little icky in places.


I ran down through the middle of Ditchling… it really is a very pretty place!

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There’s an old house for sale at the south end of the High Street which always piques my interest as I drive past.  The length of time that it’s been on the market suggests that the price is set too high (and way out of my price bracket!) but I thought I would take the path round behind it to see if there was more to see… apparently not!

I have occasionally stopped to chat with one of the friendly locals and I bumped into her here, walking her dogs.  Bizarrely she also has a tea-house and a Japanese-influence to her garden… I reckon we’re probably in a real minority around here, but you never know!

I chose the direct accent of Lodge Hill and was rewarded with the glorious view to the south.


Then it was back past Oldlands Mill (passing one of my most favourite houses in the area) and on towards Burgess Hill.


Rather than take the road back into town, I took the detour that Daren & I used to use, passing the water tower and then running along the side of the railway.

Things have changed!  What used to be a very muddy track is now cinder & tarmac.  Whilst it was lovely to run along, it’s not as hairy as it used to be… I remember some really slip-slidey mornings!


Overall the 6.75 miles took me 1:28, though this time includes the conversation about Japan & Japanese gardens so I might have been slightly faster than the 4.6mph average that this suggests!

Return to the Magical Path

It was grey and drizzly outside this morning and having completed some administrative work I thought it would be easiest to run on the machine.  I guess that’s the downside of having a machine to run on!

I’ve read a couple more chapters of Richard Askwith’s book this weekend.  His visceral descriptions of running on cold winter mornings and the amazing sense of well-being that you feel afterwards really resonated… and made me feel a little guilty that I was going to run inside.

In the end it was Kim who helped me make the right decision… she was engrossed in work, sitting right next to the running machine.  Thus it was that I pulled my long running tights and gore jacket out of the gear-drawer, rather than my shorts.

When I got outside it wasn’t actually raining at all and I felt quite good as I ran along the road.  It’s always difficult to pace yourself at the start of the run… fast enough to get into a good habit (and to complete the run while it’s still light!), yet slow enough to have the energy to get all the way round.  Especially when you’re not really quite sure how far ’round’ is.

I wrote a lightweight blog called England Garden Gang for a couple of years, commenting on the local grass verges and running little experiments (each of which usually involved me in hard graft!) to see how easy it was to make a difference.  It wasn’t, but after a couple of years of looking really tatty, the verges looked a little better this morning… almost as if they had been cut more than once in the last few weeks.  Is there a local council election looming?


The run proper starts at the end of the road, where the path crosses the railway tracks and tarmac turns to mud.  It felt really good to make that transition… all memories of the running machine forgotten.

You’ll be able to see from the photos that Spring hasn’t reached the branches of the trees, but the shallow depth of the mud suggests that the year is progressing nicely.  Er, well most of the way round at any rate!


My route took me out past the old Royal Oak pub, ripe for development apart from the main road that runs along the front wall of the building.  Rounding this corner in a spirited manner, one morning in about 1986, I lost control of the lightweight van I was driving.  I caught the slide but ran the front corner of the van neatly along the length of the steel railings leaving a pinstripe paint mark… which neither the landlord nor my boss at the time (who owned the van) were very happy about.

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Having touched on the corner of Wivelsfield, I ran up into West Wood, taking a dog-leg out to Hundred Acre Lane and back to increase the distance a little.  Partway into this section I had to take my jacket off before I started to cook.


Back on the main path I passed my friend Lew helping a neighbour in his tractor, which was making heavy work of lifting a one-tonne bag of something.  Lew’s one of those guys that you would expect to be able to lift that kind of load without the benefit of a tractor, so it must have been heavy!

And then I finally got to the Magical Path, a narrow track with ends which used to be hidden.  It’s quite straight, but over the decades trees have grown up to turn it into a twisty route round big adjacent trunks.  It always feels special to be there, hence my name for it, like a little throwback from a previous age.

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What was not so magical was the deep wet mud near the start, nor the fallen tree that was all but barring the way, but these were small distractions.

Then it was across the Ditchling Common and back to base.  I remember that there was a point in the run where I started to flag, but something must have distracted me as I have forgotten where exactly and was on good form by the time I got back.

6.2 miles in one hour and one minute is 6.1 mph, only marginally slower than I did this run on July 23rd last year… the big difference is how good I feel.  Last summer I had to retire to the sofa, whereas today I am (almost) ready for more!  It seems like a winter of treadmill runs may have had a positive effect after all!


One last thing: is this a photo of a fieldmouse?  It was playing merrily on the deck yesterday… I’m just hoping it’s not a baby rat!

Running, but largely out of time

Please forgive me reader, for I have sinned… I’ve not come to confession for 24 days!

I have a vague excuse, with eight 5am starts (two of which I got home circa 11pm), ten 6am starts and way more than half of the daylight hours of the three weekends spent working at my desk.  This is an excuse mind, not a complaint… it’s been a generally fun, engaging and challenging few weeks!

And I did manage to fit in two runs, although one was only a mile and took me more than ten minutes, if the hieroglyphics on my whiteboard are correctly interpreted… average 5.88 mph.  From memory it was an early Monday morning antidote to the lethargy that not running creates.  I think that it did its job, though I clearly didn’t hang around afterwards for long enough to record this fact.

The other, last Sunday morning was more energetic though, alas, still on the machine.  I set the speed to 7 mph and ran for 45 minutes, clocking up 5.28 miles.  The average works out to something like 7.04 mph, as I increased the speed at the end to compensate for the time that the belt takes to get up to speed at the start… and I got a bit enthusiastic!

There, that’s my confession.  Now for some photos: