Cloudy & cool with muddy patches

It’s been 6 weeks since my last run, which is how long it’s taken me to (almost) get over the coughing bug that I managed to catch whilst working in Budapest.  I sat down on the plane to come home and started coughing… eugh!

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from my run today, such that I almost managed to put it off for another week!  But run I did.

I took the normal short loop out to Wivelsfield, through West Wood and back via the Magical Path.  The weather was largely overcast and the temperature was cool enough for me to be comfortable wearing two layers, longs, gloves and a hat.  The ground was a lot drier than the last time I ran, with the compacted edges turning slightly bouncy, surrounding areas of squidgy and smaller pockets of watery squelch.  The bluebells were out in force.

My chosen warm top layer doesn’t seem to breathe, so despite the temperature I was hot & sweaty when I got back and more than ready for a cold shower… and not just my legs for a change!  I’ll know by Tuesday the extent to which my body is going to complain about a 5 mile run after 6 weeks off, but right now I feel pretty good.

According to Strava I ran 5.7 miles in 59 minutes, an average of 5.8 mph.

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Crossover weather

It’s looking more and more like Spring outside… provided that you’re looking out through the window with the heating on!

Or, like us, you’re willing to wait until early afternoon and have a sheltered south facing garden that acts as a sun-trap… and a warm jumper!

My run this morning had neither of these types of heating so I wore a thick running top over my t-shirt instead.  This was just about warm enough when I was in the shade, but too warm in the sun… which meant that I sweated profusely… which meant that the next area of shade seemed a little cooler!  I ended up taking it off so that i could dry out and warm up… if that makes sense?

I don’t remember it raining this week, but the ground was back to watery mud (and lots of it) so it must have done.

I did my simple local route out to the edge of Wivelsfield, through West Wood, down Hundred Acre Lane and then back on round via Ditchling Common.  According to Strava I completed 6.7 miles in 66 minutes… an average of 6.1 mph.

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Struggling with analogies

If you’re a regular reader, then you’ll know that I’ve been running an experiment on myself for the last six years… I’ve been working to improve my guitar playing, simply by ensuring that I simply play at least 5 minutes every day (following an initial 52 lessons in 2010 with Lucas Cook). One interesting side-effect of this is that I play two types of music.

To wake up my fingers each morning I play two Jazz standards, which together last a total of around three minutes. I’ve been playing these each day for four years (I think) and over that time I have slowly improved, though I still find them complex.

The rest of the time, which is around 20 minutes each morning and often the same again just before I go to bed, I play compositions which I have created myself. These have got ever more complicated over the years as my skills in fingering, picking and bringing notes, chords & melodies together improve.

It strikes me that these two types of progress are analogous to how organisations evolve. Most focus on efficiency and evolve incrementally, whereas others eschew efficiency and are instead constantly adapting to an ever-changing marketplace. To my mind the latter are focused on performance and whilst they are less efficient as a result, they are more engaging and exciting places to work.

It strikes me that the people in the former would trend towards being bored, whereas the latter are constantly adding to their value in the marketplace. I also hypothesise that the former are comfortable in their efficient success, whereas the latter are constantly failing, which is harder work to sustain, even when you’re actually making faster progress.

Do you have a view on this?

I ran from my folks’ place this morning and it was slightly warmer than last week, but still chillsome.  As I ran and the analogy above rolled around my mind, so I realised that I needed new views to break me out of the incremental thinking. Halfway to Ovingdean I turned right and headed over the hill into the next valley, or dean.  This is the one with Ovingdean in it. From there, rather than running down to the sea as normal, I ran up and over into the next valley and down to the sea at Roedean.

I wasn’t quite far enough East to run down the service road to the Undercliff Walk, so I ran along the top of the cliffs and soaked up the amazing view down onto the chalk seabed below at low tide. It has really muted colour-ways but it’s one of my favourite things… as I ran so I briefly chatted to another runner who wholeheartedly agreed.

As I reached the hill before Rottingdean, so I turned left and ran up the ridge to the top of Ovingdean and then on back to Woodingdean.

According to Strava I ran 6.7 miles in 67 minutes, a healthy average (compared to my recent performance) of 6 miles per hour, though I would clearly need to run more frequently to make any progress in improving on this.

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Less mud, more cold

This morning there was one of those chilly north-easterly winds blowing under a blanket of cloud and I decided to run out from my folks place for some variety. In the car I wondered whether I had overdressed, with a thick second layer plus a jacket, hat & gloves. Fortunately my Mother told me that it was just 2 degrees outside… not counting the wind chill factor. My extra layers were definitely needed.

As I ran across the common land towards the ridge, it was clear that the wet mud of the last few weeks had gone. In its place was firm mud with just a little give… a perfect running surface! Perhaps because of this I felt as if I was running a little faster than normal and Strava saw fit to award me a medal for my fastest mile since I’ve been using the app… though I’m somewhat surprised that it equates to 7.75mph.

I didn’t keep it up for long!

I ran down through the middle of Ovingdean to the sea and along to Rottingdean. The sea was nearly calm, which seemed slightly odd given the brisk wind, but I guess that the water was in the lee of the chalk cliffs.

Then it was the long slog back up the hill… this was always one of the downsides of living towards the top of the hill when I was growing up! As I cleared the protection of Ovingdean the wind was really chilly and as I neared Woodingdean so a shower of sharp sleet hit me, pricking painfully at my face. Fortunately it was short-lived and I was soon off the ridge & running back down across the common land.

According to Strava I completed 6 miles in under 59 minutes… an average a little over 6mph.

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More mud, less cold

One glance outside at the inclement weather this morning started me thinking about all the other things that I could more easily do for exercise… such as trying to repeat the Ashtanga Yoga routine that we did when we swapped classes the other week.

However, after a philosophical discussion on the similarities between organisations and individuals, when it comes to the trade-off between efficiency and flexibility, the rain had stopped and there was a trace of warm colour in the low cloud.

The warm colour was matched by the warm temperature… I could easily have gone out in shorts.

I started on the same route as last week and had quickly transformed my clean runners into dirty ones… in fact they seemed to change colour every ten minutes or so with the different kinds of mud.

I took the elongated route in West Wood and ended up running down Hundred Acre Lane.  Given how muddy my shoes were, I was dismayed when my shoelace came undone and I had to retie them… it’s amazing how much of your hands are involved in the process… and thus how muddy my hands were afterwards!

The Magical Path seems to have a drainage problem at one end and was particularly muddy, but at this time of year it still has something a special about it… it almost seems like a throwback to an earlier age.

Then it was back across to base for a bowl of warm water and a scrubbing brush to get my runners ready for their next mud bath.

According to Strava it was 6.4 miles in 66 minutes… not exactly but then it’s not so easy to go quickly when there’s this much mud around!

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My dear, what a run

Pronounced muddier water run.

After a frustrating day yesterday, where having too many work tasks to do meant that I failed to get into the flow of any, I felt it was super-important to get out this morning and run.

Despite being chilly, it was a bright spring-like morning as well… one of those mornings that just simply makes you feel better somehow.  This said, I knew exactly what the conditions underfoot would be.

I opted for a short local run… out to Wivelsfield, up through West Wood and back along the Magical Path.  As expected it was super-muddy.  This was the the kind of mud that has deep footprints & hoof prints, has then frozen, has then been filled up with water and has finally thawed… but only recently, judging by the water temperature!  Despite being deep in places and gloriously splashy, it was safer to run through the middle of it than risk sliding on the super-slippery gradients at the margins.

The photos below should tell you all you need to know!

5.6 miles completed in 58 minutes… not bad given all the slip-sliding around!

On another subject all together, whilst I still have your attention: we have a tradition in our house of ‘unexpecting the expected’.  The upside of such an arrangement is that there are occasional Tuesday or random day presents.  The flipside is obviously that cards or presents aren’t always forthcoming on those days when it’s traditional to give them.  Like today, for example.

So Kim, if you’re reading this… Happy Valentines Day gorgeous!

Sorry that the expected card is absent, but maybe there’s something unexpected hiding behind the sofa to make you smile?

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Glad of the gloves

It was a glorious day today, but there was a really chilly wind.  I ran from my folks place again and my brother questioned whether I really needed the three layers & hat that I was wearing.  Oh yes, I did!  In fact as I ran down the ridge path towards the sea, the wind was so biting that I was glad that I’d also sneaked a pair of gloves out with me!

I ran down to Ovingdean Church, on down to the Undercliff Walk and then along to Rottingdean.  There are days when I have less physical energy, but today it was more like I had less mental energy as well.  I even stopped at the window of an Estate Agent to look at the houses… a very thinly veiled excuse to pause for a couple of minutes!

At the top of the High St I turned left onto a path I’d not been along before (which is always odd when you’ve been in an area for 50 years!).  It turned out to be a middle path between the one I normally take past the windmill and the main road up the hill.  After a slippery ascent, it eventually led to the top of Ovingdean, from where I ran back up onto the ridge.

It was at this stage that I received an apologetic call from someone at Barclaycard.  They have been inundating me with direct mail for the last couple of years and my cheerful calls asking to be taken off the database last year obviously had little effect.  A month ago I asked in a more pointed way.  Yesterday I received another letter so I had another more robust conversation… the last two of the three agents I spoke to across 30 minutes assured me that I was no longer on the list as of the beginning of January, but that they print mail 8 weeks ahead so I may even receive another letter or two before they stop.  The nice lady today (remember that it’s Sunday), called to say that the job had not been done properly in January after all, so the 8 weeks would start from today.

I mention this simply to point out how effective having a phone conversation is at taking your mind off running… by the time she rang off (having presumably endured the sound of the biting wind that I mentioned earlier in the earpiece for at least five minutes) I was almost at the top of the hill.  The rest was easy.

According to Strava I ran 6.3 miles in 63 minutes.

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Sneaking a run into January

Last weekend I decided that, having not run yet this year, I should at least get one run in before the end of January. I’m sure that I could have chosen a nicer day, but it was the 31st, so needs must. As you can see from the photos below, it was a mirky day, but at least it stopped raining before I started out.

I ran from my folks place down to Rottingdean the muddy way and then ran back up the road.

According to Strava I ran 5.9 miles in 61 minutes

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Hill Running (sort of)

After a GREAT party in London last night and a 3am bedtime, I didn’t much feel like a run this morning… mostly because I was still asleep!  When I finally did get out it was for a short run around the local roads of Burgess Hill.

The weather is still crazy warm so my shorts and t-shirt got yet another unseasonal outing.

I would show you some photos but new settings in BlueHost or WordPress today (dropping file upload size from 10mb to 2mb) make this too much hassle… any recommendations for a new host gratefully received.

According to Strava I ran 4.1 miles in 37 minutes, an average of 6.5mph.

Shorts, eight for the road

My friends will tell you that I rarely drink and that I will often drive so that I have an excuse which is plausible for those people who have already started drinking (if you follow the logic).  Part of the reason for this relates to an intense dislike of hangovers and part to a preference for retaining my faculties in unpredictable environments.

This said I do really enjoy an occasional G&T (Blue Sapphire of course), a few glasses of wine over dinner with friends, or a glass of Hepworth’s Old if I’m cooking Bolognese sauce (which gets the rest of the bottle).

All of which bears no relation to my post this morning… I’d be under the table (rather than writing this blog) if I’d drunk eight shorts.

The unseasonably warm weather has continued and I couldn’t face the thought of wearing my longs again today… so the shorts made a reappearance.  Not that I particularly wanted to run this morning and though Kim assures me is a normal Sunday sentiment, this was a different kind of reluctance.

Nevertheless, after imbibing a couple of quadspressos and a chapter of a good book, I duly turned up at the front door in my running gear.  So clean was I when I returned to the front door 80 minutes later that Kim actually accused me of having sat the around the corner for the duration.

Good idea (for future reference) but not what happened.  Instead I opted for a rare road run, choosing a boring out and back route which simply saved me the effort of thinking where to go next.  Added to which I know roughly where the mile markers are, so it’s easy to gauge when to turn around.

I actually turned around at the 4 mile mark, scaring a few people by stripping off my base layer and putting just my t-short back on.  Then, feeling slightly less hot on this December day, I retraced my steps, most of which looked a lot like this:

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Overall, according to Strava, I completed 8.2 miles in 75 minutes, an average of 6.5mph.  Now for another drink… maybe a tea without the G.