Failing – but what to talk about?

This is my first post for a little while, but I’ve (a) been busy, and (b) I’ve not had anything obvious I’ve thought about writing about.

I’ve stepped up my Reading Half training a bit, running 15.3km last Friday, and I’ll try running 16km tomorrow evening, but that’s about it.

Running today via the hospital to visit a colleague to the station, I decided as I’d lectured all morning to take a bit of time to run 5km rather than the 1.6km it actually is, door to door. It was a lovely day, very spring-like.

It made me think that I was concerned about whether I’d keep things up over the winter, but arguably I’ve somehow managed to up my level over the winter. I’m running most days these days, and running a good half a minute per kilometer faster now, too.

Will just have to see how that translates into finishing time in my second half marathon in April…

Reading Half Marathon

Yesterday I entered the Reading Half Marathon. I’d promised my better half that I wouldn’t run any half marathons in 2016, but now I’m running two (with the addition of the Edmonton Half Marathon in August.

Why? Well, part of it is people I know running it, another is where it goes (through my workplace, the University of Reading), part of it is the timing (after the end of term so something “fun” to look forward to).

I’m also “treating” myself to training for it on Friday afternoons, since this term it’s almost certain I’ll be working late on Thursday evenings due to my teaching schedule (2-5pm Thursday, 9-11am Friday), so once I’m done on Fridays I feel I’ve earned myself an afternoon run around the town on the roads the half marathon will take.

Last week I ran the part of the route from the University down to the railway station on my way home, the coming week I plan on running a bit further – out towards Tilehurst to make things up to 10km. After that, I’ll run 12-14km next Friday, and keep ratcheting up until I run the full route sometime before the end of term.

I’m hopeful that it’ll be relatively straightforward, injuries barring, to build up to running 21.1km again – I’m running almost three times that distance, on average, per week, so either I can reshuffle those kms, or add a little to them each week.

2015 in running numbers

2015 was a great year for me. The most life changing event was without a shadow of a doubt the birth of my second child, but less earth shatteringly, I also managed to finally get into a regular routine of exercise – running.

I started running in November 2014, mainly motivated by realising that via smart phones, data can be recorded about runs, and maps plotted much more easily than I’d ever realised. I like data, and I love maps.

After a while that novelty wore off (though I still do enjoy that), but I realised running was great for getting about and seeing more of places.

I’m going to take a few moments and indulge myself in a numbers-based look back at the last year. The numbers make it clear what a different 2015 was to 2014. In 2014 I went on 14 runs from November on, and covered 40.3km in 4h 39m. In 2015 I went on 303 runs, covering 1707.1km in 160h 50m.

I’m a statistician by trade, and that’s a huge structural change. The years 2009-13 would have been characterised by something even lower than 2014, maybe 5-10 runs, covering probably about 30km.

I’m hopeful that the structural break remains; 2016 has started in earnest with 3 runs already totalling 18.1km, and on Saturday I’m taking part in the Woodcote 10km race. In February I’ll be running a 5 mile race organised by the Reading Students Union on campus, then in March the Goring 10km race.

I’m also teaching a forecasting course this term and may well indulge in using some of my running data to make particular points about forecasts and targets…

On (not) running every day

The biggest thing, I think, that running  has forced me to think about is how I use my day.

A constant moan I make is that there aren’t enough hours in the day for all the things I’d like to do (work, family, checking Facebook), but then I manage to make time to go running.

The reality is it’s all about priorities. And also everything in moderation. There simply are days when even going out for 15 minutes is not the right thing when one has a number of other responsibilities – to do otherwise is to be very selfish.

Not running for one day will bring to an end a streak of consecutive days ran, but will that matter, in the grand scheme of things? Who am I trying to impress with my streak of consecutive days of running? Few, if any, of my friends would really care, and would probably actually conclude I’m a little obsessed.

On the other hand, will not running one particular day help reduce the stress levels of other important people in your life? Or will it simply improve their levels of happiness (to put things more positively)? If not, great – go do that epic run. But if so, I think prioritising running every day over everything else is, as I said above, selfish.

Running around the streets of my youth

With it being Christmas, I’m back home and hence running around the streets I used to run (in a playing sense) and cycle around as a very young boy. The one thing I quickly realised was that I was much smaller back then, so distances that seemed long are actually not very long at all. Containing myself to the streets I used to regularly explore around my house would make a very difficult 5k run – lots of tight alleyways with sharp corners which would slow me down – assuming I could even get along them, as some are now totally overgrown.

Nonetheless, I went to school about 1.5 miles away, and hence running around that walking route, and variants of it, plus the area around my old school gets me more satisfying runs, and runs that allow me to reminisce.

Today I’m planning a long run that involves mixing together a few different childhood memories whilst affording me a scenic run (not so easy around here!) along a canal out towards the hills.

Advent Running complete

I snook out on Christmas Day morning for a cheeky half hour run to complete Advent Running.

I’m really pleased I did this. At the start of December, running 30 minutes each day seemed like a lot, and some nights (not least setting out at 22:22 and 22:44 a couple of nights to squeeze a run in) were hard work.

But overall, I’m delighted to have got through the 25 days – actually 31 days as the last 5 days of November I ran at least 30 minutes, and I ran for 40 minutes on Boxing Day.

Marking the shortest day

It’s the shortest day today, always a nice point to get to in the winter – although as it’s been so mild this year it doesn’t really feel like a couple of days from Christmas.

Anyhow, it’s utterly miserable too, but Advent Running being what it is, I went out at lunch time to run for just over 32 minutes. Surprisingly fast, too, but I think this time my phone¬†added to my distance rather than taking away as it has done a couple of runs recently…