Sunday, 27 October 2013

Running for an hour

This morning I tried something I have not done before. I got up early as the clocks has gone back that night. That isn't the new thing I tried though. I have gotten up early before. Even when the clocks have changed. 

I had some muesli and tea then waited for an hour. I went running. With a digested breakfast in my bloodstream. 

As I am not a man of leisure I normally don't get the chance to eat before I run. 

I managed an easy hour of running with a breakfast inside me. Twice the time I normally run for. 

Breakfast huh. I'll be trying that trick again. 

Monday, 21 October 2013

I accidentally ran over 5km this morning

Ok so it was 5.2 km and it was down to me not checking on the GPS but guessing how far I'd run before I stopped.

Even so I ran 5.2km in 36:31 minutes... or 7 mins per km. I realise that this is no speed record or anything, but you have to remember (actually you don't have to at all) that I never got this far last year. In fact I may have caused myself more problems than I solved last year trying to even get here.

I'm just chuffed as I only have to learn to:

a)swim properly,
b) cycle in a different position,
c) stay fit,
d) learn to do all these things back to back,

...and I'll be ready to do a triathlon!!

Hell yeah.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Practical cycling

I'm always amazed at the sheer volume of people that choose to commute on a pure race bike. I'm not sure that I could do it. Carbon fibre plastic bikes that could be ruined by a collision. Road shoes that can't be walked in for fear of ruining the cleats and carbon soles. That and a massive hiking backpack as you can't fit a rack. 

One of the reasons for the brompton purchase is that I want to be able to integrate cycling into my life the way most people use a car. It has mudguards and luggage capabilities that would compromise the honky tonk to the point of making the ride less enjoyable.

What baffles me is the sheer volume of luggage capacity insisted upon by your average cycle commuter. I toured holland with two regular ortleib panniers. I don't need more than a small saddlebag for daily duties. Lunch. Rain cape. Tools. Book. Deodorant. If I need a complete change of clothes I have an s-type bag which I would use instead. Why double panniers and a rucksack would be required for an office job is beyond me. 

The brompton is a practical solution for London. Made in London. Designed in London. Brilliant for every day simple cycling. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

the joy of a brompton... first week together

I have been ill and, as a result, not training properly for the last week and a half. This is massively frustrating, but I'm determined not to cock everything up by over-training again…

I did however pick up my shiny new Brompton so I have been doing a little light cycling.
It’s funny but I was going to write a first thoughts post about the new bike, but actually they are the same thoughts I had last time I had a folder.

When you first sit on a folding bike after riding a fairly stiff and speedy road bike, then it doesn't even feel like the same activity. I am more compact and upright than a road bike with much faster steering. The ride is harder at the front and softer at the back and the marathons (Swalbe Marathon tyres) slow things down.
However I am enjoying cycling for transport and fun.

I have got the gears set at +8% on a stock bike so there is still a physical challenge and who knows, maybe riding around in my everyday clothes on a tiny bike might just end up keeping my bike fitness up a bit over the winter.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Cycle clothing

Like most men, I love a bit of kit. The thing about kit is that it makes you feel special when you use piece of equipment that a lot of thought has gone into.

This week I've ordered a brompton, so naturally my thoughts have turned to suitable attire for riding her in. There are many schools of thought to what makes suitable riding gear, but I tend to fall into the "horses for courses" camp.

My road bike, whilst not a technological carbon and plastic marvel, is comfiest in technical cycling gear. While my heart cries out for merino technical kit at eye blistering prices, deep down I know that some sensible purchases of modern technical kit will see me right in most situations.

I normally ride for several hours with no luggage and no second day. The odour protection offered by merino isn't an issue. Even on a wet commute the priority is drying off on arrival.

So I have promised myself two things.

1. complete decent set of road riding kit (1 winter top and tights, 1 summer top and bibs with a technical jacket).

2. Some simple commuter gear.

Before I get this however I will have to lose some weight. I am not shelling out on cycle clothing to have it end up over-stretched and outsize like the gear I took on Lejog.

The commuter gear is less of a problem size wise... However I measured myself today as I was unsure as to a couple of measurements and did the whole lot whilst I was there.

I am a little bigger than I thought I was. Quite a bit. However I am the same jacket size I thought I was so that's maybe where to start. That and some riding trews, in a relaxed fit

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Kieron Bryan

To Harriet Harman -sent tonight


I have recently learned that someone that I have a great deal of respect for is being wrongly detained in Russia. I'll keep this short as you no doubt receive all sorts of requests on a daily basis. Kieran filmed our "bike to bestival" ride in aid of cancer research uk. At the time he was employed by the times to work on content for the "cities fit for cycling" campaign. I have never liked the times but find well written articles that I disagree with more agreeable than ill informed opinion. We worked with the 3 journalists from the times to produce something to suit both our aims, and they rode and raised money for our cause.

Kieran is being held as part of the group detained with the green peace activists. he is a journalist employed by them to record the events. Whether or not I agree with the protest, Kieran is a journalist and not a pirate. He faces charges of piracy.

He is also your constituent.

Please work as his mp for his release..

Dominic Ball.

Friday, 4 October 2013

A replacement for Emma?

Today I took the plunge and ordered myself a new Brompton. Nearly 4 years ago my “Desert Sand “ 3-speed folding bike was stolen. This bike reawakened my love of cycling by dint of making it so easy to integrate journeys of this type into everyday life. Whereas cycling before I arrived in London had involved the use of a city bike (A 1980’s Raleigh Superbe 3-speed) and my normal clothes plus or minus a layer to account for the elements; Cycling in London on modern bikes involves a change of clothes and a selection of specialist equipment.

The day I purchased “Emma” (as she became known) I had intended to get on the train from work and go up to London bridge. I intended to ride from there to Liverpool Street and then catch a train home from there. I got on the bike to ride and immediately decided to ride to the next station to get a feel for her first. As the station approached I decided to go on to go on to the next one. This continued until I found that I’d forgotten how to fold the thing and so I thought I’d head up the route I had used, once or twice, into town and try and find a deserted spot to practice. It never happened. Every deserted spot had a gang of kids or picnicking mums.  I rode nearly 15 miles on a new bike with an unbroken in brooks with no discomfort and for the first time experienced the slight sadness as one turns into the final road of the journey.

The thing about Bromptons is that they’re expensive. Or is it that you can choose from a variety of options, or just pick one up in the shop. I don’t know, but I have spent the last few months revisiting ideas of what exactly would make the ideal tiny wheeled bike.

I have considered all the other brands. Some are too flimsy. Some don’t fold enough, some fold too much. Some are plain weird. 4 years on and the Brompton seems the best all round choice.
So what did I get?

Clear Lacquer
3 speed (+8% on normal gearing)
Mudguards and pump (no rack)
Brooks B-17
Hard Suspension
Integrated battery lights
Easy wheels
Front luggage block

Basically this*…

Now normally I’d have to wait 4-6 weeks for this to be ready, but I’m assured that they can adapt a stock model. I was a little nervous. Would it be a floor model with the parts swapped? No. The assistant opened a fresh box  with a Clear Lacquer S-Type with 6 gears and said he was going to convert this one with fresh parts held in stock. I’ve checked the website and they are carrying all the stock. I shall have to inspect it thoroughly but this is Compton’s after all. I choose to have my other  bike services here.

So next week I’ll have it.I hope the Honky Tonk isn’t going to be jealous. I imagine she’ll be relieved to be just going out for fun rides no that the weather has turned…

*This photo comes from the custom bike builder page on Brompton's own website

Thursday, 3 October 2013

A first look review (of sorts) of the Suacony Hattori

Around this time last year I first attempted to run in what is commonly referred to as the “barefoot style.” I had had a minor case of Plantar Fasciitis over the summer and had been told by a physio that I needed expensive orthotics and to stop running. I had flat arches and inflamed Fascia in the sole of my feet. I did a bit of reading online and thought I knew better. After a month of wearing no shoes or socks at home and vivo barefoot shoes when I had to leave the house, my arches were back and I was down half a shoe size. Added to this my toes started looking like they were the right length in relation to each other.

I tried a couch to 5K programme that I found online and proceeded to throw myself into it wholeheartedly.

3 weeks in I could barely walk. I had an overuse injury to the ankle and I was out of action with a Darth Vader boot for a while. I had neglected technique. After running in the correct style I went out in my old Saucony shoes and ran with a heel strike. Then did the same in my minimal shoes. Insufficient rest periods as I acclimatised and twisting my ankle all played their part.

My confidence was in tatters as I only regained my freedom from crutches just before we went to India (immediately prior to my 40th birthday.) I was worried I’d done myself that nagging injury that would dog me for life.

Once I had stopped being a drama queen and had completed three months of physio I could walk on it as normal, but I didn’t trust my ankle for sport or even hiking.

Watching the Olympics, and to a greater degree the Paralympics, made me realise that what separated me from the Olympic athletes was dedication, confidence and determination.

I am now running twice a week (let my body adjust) in Saucony Hattori minimal shoes. With a simple short stride, forefoot strike. Light and easy. I’d love to review them but I’ve not worn another pair of “barefoot” road running shoes so I’ll save that for when my next pair arrive.

First impressions from a month of use…

Very lightweight (There is nothing to them);

Difficult to get on in hurry (Separate and loosen as wide as possible then put them on);

Minimal cushioning, very soft sole (I have picked up big splinters and thorns in the sole of these);

Comfier on tarmac than grass (they feel less direct on grass or trail because the damping is added to the damping of the grass making them vague underfoot);

Alright for now.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Morning run

We had Miss S's sister staying (I see a tongue twister forming in my mind) last night. What that means on a practical level is that not only is the spare room full, where I normally breakfast... go figure, but also that somebody is up before me in the morning. Sophie's sister needed to leave at 07:00

I set my alarm for 06:30 figuring that as Sophie and I both needed to be out by 08:00 I could go for a run and the shower would be free when I got back. Who says it's difficult to plan training around a job eh?

It was pitch black as I set off in the drizzle, not quite sure where I was going to run to today. I knew I wanted to be gone for about 35 minutes. After 5 minutes I stopped and stretched by the park. As it was shut (what you don’t want us charging round the park in the dark??) I decided to head up to the pub on the corner of the park and do a lap on the road around the back. This route is roughly equivalent to 2 laps around the park.

Within a few minutes (leaping out of the way of an unlit cyclist on the pavement excepted… really) I was in a little world of my own. This consists of an acute awareness of what my body is doing, that cycles into vague day-dreaming and back into awareness. I used to find that I stayed mostly in the dreamy/vague stage once I’d got there, but it is too easy to forget to think about form and niggles.

Interestingly I was reading the other day that the perfect state of mind for endurance events is a balance between the ability to ignore suffering (and continue) and the total body awareness of form and injury potential from surface and surroundings.

I need feedback on how my feet are making contact with the floor. Whether I have traction or not? Is one foot form better than the other (Yes the right foot flows better)? Ignoring, or even worse not receiving in the first place, this feedback leads to problems. I need this onformation, it helps me to plan my next step. I found myself injured last year running on very wobbly high Saucony Triumph  running shoes, but am working better with their Hattori minimal shoe. I have changed my “foot strike” from a heel strike that ended up as a flat footed step flopping from the ankle to a forefoot strike that is more of a gentle step that quickly drops the heel then rolls through the foot to spring off the toes.

So far so good

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Weird food when left to my own devices

What do vegetarians eat #2?

Weird stuff

My first running race

I have decided to enter a road running race. As you can see from my use of non-technical lingo I am frankly and quite obviously not expert (although technically I am a "Masters Athlete")

In researching the types and levels of training I would need to be able to complete a triathlon,  I came across a handy formula. Time training = proportion of race that discipline takes up...


20 mins swim = 22%
40 mins cycle = 44%
30 mins run = 34%

Now this is all well and good, and when I get into training proper I shall stick to this, the thing is my weak (WEAK!) points are the run and the swim.

So the plan is this. I will train just the running and the swimming until I can cover the distances comfortably (I'm giving myself until Christmas). Then in the New Year I can start a structured training programme to build up for an actual event.

With this in  mind I am going to enter the Regents Park 10km race or the Richmond park 10km in December (Maybe both). If I can build up in two months to running a 10km race then I will be well on my way to being fit enough to run a tired 5km.

All the advice I've read so far point to attempting to good enough on the bike, to come off of the bike section relaxed and with plenty of leg energy. This means I can't let my on the bike fitness drop off over the winter to the level I did last year. I'm thinking one or two round trips to work for now, and then add in spin class after Christmas.