Research mode

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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!

Water shortage

This morning it was 20 degrees in the shade, at 7am, so I realised a long run would be foolhardy.

However… I may just be that hardy fool.

A trip to Holland & Barratt yesterday had yielded some weird pre-run chemicals and I was interested to see whether it did what it said on the tin.


There was sadly no explosive surge of energy as I ran off down the road just before 8am, but I managed to reach the Beacon two minutes faster than last week and still felt like running.

Most of the route thus far had been under tree cover, but as I neared the top of the Beacon track I kept getting wafts of superheated air coming through the trees from the grass slope below.  Yikes!

Wanting to go slightly further than last week I turned east from the Beacon and headed along to Blackcap, arriving in 1:21.  This meant that I had averaged 5.74mph compared to last week’s 5.5mph at the halfway turn.  I had taken the precaution of carrying a Beet shot and rather than waiting to run out of energy and drank it at this point.

It was really hot along the top of the Downs and I was glad that I had all my black gear on again!  Actually, the wool is very comfortable indeed, despite the heat… it’s really growing on me!  I even noticed on the Armadillo website that when you finally have wrung every use out their stuff, you can put it in the compost heap to good effect.  Green as well as black!


Once again I ran up to the Beacon and then turned north, back the cool under the trees.  Tiredness came over me somewhere between Ditchling and Oldlands Mill, right about the time that my supply of water ran out.  Fortunately for me, Oldlands was setting up for an open day and a very kind steward refilled my water bottle.


I made it back to Ockley Lane and then my mental energy just seemed to evaporate in the heat.  I walked for a couple of hundred metres and then ran walked all the way home… fortunately not too far by that point.

Four Dextrose tablets, two handfuls of nuts, a bowl of porridge, umpteen glasses of water and a cold shower later and I was ready to write.

15.5 miles in 2:50 is an average of 5.47mph, which despite the increased distance and walk/running is still faster than last week… and I’m still awake!  So maybe the Nitro did its job after all… on a crazy hot day to run!

STOP PRESS: Kim quite literally just booked us on a short trip away and I can’t now do the marathon… I’m really sorry Mark!  I’m definitely fit enough to join the guys on a training run sometime though!

More than half out of the box

I’m writing this a week late, on account of the fact that last Sunday afternoon I unaccountably fell asleep on the sofa for two and a half hours.  Poor excuse, I know, but it’s been a  busy week.

During the previous week I had visited The Run Shop in Hove. I arrived good & early to beat the rush but, em, found them closed! Fortunately Ethel’s Kitchen opposite does the best cakes ever and I sat whilst an Americano and a hot chocolate brownie slipped deliciously down my throat.


While sitting there I had two surprise visitors: Fred who was off to Run’s store in Worthing and then Claire, who was taking baby Emma for a walk.  Claire informed me that the BIG man Daren was home so I took myself off there… for more coffee and more cake!

When I returned to Run, Kurt was mobbed with customers, but he’s a really good juggler and he managed to seamlessly add me to the people he was attentively serving.

A little later I was kitted out with new splodge and new socks and the weekend couldn’t come quickly enough!

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The previous week I had also met the lovely guys from Armadillo Merino and although their gear is designed primarily for professional risk takers, it seemed as if it would be pretty good for amateur runners too.  Aside from this, my brother Nigel loves merino wool gear, which is a pretty good recommendation, so I invested in a new t-shirt.

One of the things that Armadillo said is that I’d only want to take it off to wash it (which is not that frequently due to it’s natural odour control properties)… and they were right!  I’ve been wearing it pretty much non-stop since I got it!

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In between meeting Armadillo and going to Run I had spent a fun evening in Lewes with Mark Johnson… in fact I was sat at dinner between him and Richard Garland of Gradient Consultants, who just happened to also be an ultra-marathoner!  A recurrent theme of conversation was my elusive next marathon!

I’ve been caught like this before, by Grant in 2004 (hence doing the Berlin marathon that year), so I’m quite wary of what I say… and reserve the right to change my mind again Mark!

So Sunday eventually came round and there I was, like a small child at Christmas, getting ready to run before 8am!  One final touch was required… some energy!


And then I was off, curious to know what my new splodge could do straight out of the box…. and whether I really could do a marathon in three weeks time.  I headed up to Oldlands Mill where the view was beautiful.


Then to Ditchling and up the Beacon track, where I was grateful that a walker commented on how hot and humid it was… I thought it was just me!

I continued along the top to Jack and Jill then turned around to do the return journey.  It was hard already and I was way past half way through my water, but hey-ho, it was a lovely day to be out and about.

The sun went behind a cloud as I reached the top of Lodge Hill so I took a few photos looking back at the Beacon (aka quick rest).


Then it was back to base for a cold shower and, as I previously mentioned, a rather long snooze on the sofa with my feet angled up onto cushions.

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So the new splodge and I managed 13.75 miles (more than half a marathon) in 2:37, a respectable average of 5.25mph.  Socks, t-shirt and shoes were all great… I’ve lost count of the number of these shoes I’ve had in the ten years we’ve been customers at Run (though I still have them all so a photo will be forthcoming in due course!).

Right, now on to write about this week!