22 – Here Comes The Summer Sun

It’s been a while since I updated the blog for a variety of reasons. Business, injuries and largely laziness. But here I am, stood in the North Sea, winding down and making a long-awaited return to the blog.

How did I get here? Well I ran, of course. Metaphorically and physically. Having hit 30 recently I seem to be picking up lots of injuries and so my running has been stop start. I’d pick it up, be hitting 3 mile runs then would twist an ankle or damage my heel playing football an I’d be back on the couch for a month.

I’m only just getting back into the swing of things again with the running. I pushed myself to do six miles with the treat of a plods at the beach as my reward. Generally I’ve been running about 3-4 miles but I feel good right now.

I’ll have a leisurely walk back the 2 miles home but I’m well aware that this sort of thing won’t be available come the winter. Sure, there’ll be endless miles of the world to run but the North Sea in December? No chance.

Right, I’m off to dry myself off.

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21 – God Save My Team (And Their Fascist Regime)

Been laid up with a cold, so a lack of runs to report on. Apparently if your body’s working hard to fight illness it’s a tad dangerous to work it harder with exercise, so that’s meant a few days of eating curry, drinking beer and watching TV.

Aside from finally getting round to watching the excellent Breaking Bad, I’ve spent a lot of time watching the media coverage of Paolo Di Canio’s introduction to my football club, Sunderland AFC.

Whilst I’m a massive Hebburn Town fan, Sunderland were the first football club I fell in love with, they were where I learned to love football. I followed them home and away, good or bad (mainly bad), quite literally across the world. Myself and some of the finest people I’ve met in my life thought nothing of plodding across to America to watch our heroes play meaningless pre-season friendly matches.

It’s safe to say I’ve had mixed feelings on Di Canio ever since he was a player. Mindful of his right-wing tendencies, there was still something wonderfully exciting about watching him that continued even into management and has made me think that level of excitement is probably beyond us. We’re a boring club; we don’t do flair. Kevin Ball, a defensive midfielder, is one of my generation’s poster boys. However, now we’ve secured the talents of the mercurial Italian I’m not sure what to feel. I think it best described as underwhelmed.

Underwhelmed that we’ve sacked one of the most successful British managers of his generation (and a Sunderland fan to boot) and replaced him with a man who has managed at League One level for less than a season, and below that the year before. The “fascism thin” just adds to it.

Politically, I lean slightly towards the left. Not a Trot, but someone who believes in fairness, integration in society and generally, everyone looking out for each other. Can I support someone who doesn’t share those same ideological values? The honest answer is that I don’t know.

I don’t know if it matters. I’m struggling to think of someone else within the entertainment industry with far right tendencies that I’m still a fan of. It seems strange there’s so few of them about. I have nothing to compare it to.

I should add that the club’s handling of the situation has been awful. Releasing a vaguely worded statement neither confirming or denying his fascist sympathies and instead repeatedly denying that he’s a racist is odd at best and downright frustrating at worst. Whilst Di Canio’s personal values are exactly that, either deny it or just shut up shop. Don’t just waffle and lie and then get angry at people for not understand something you’ve released that’s indecipherable. My only vague hope is that this gives the team some sort of siege mentality that they need to dig in and survive. Or at least I think I do. Whilst many are talking of boycotting the club until he’s gone, I’m undecided on the matter.

Do I want Sunderland to do badly because they’re managed by a fascist? No. Can I get behind him and hope he’s a massive success? No. Much like the appointment itself, I think my opinion on Di Canio is just one of utter indifference.

20 – The Morning After The Morning After The Night Before

There was no immediate post-Leicester run for me, I’m afraid. After a day battling snow-filled roads getting down and then diversions, accidents and closures on the way up, it’s safe to say Thursday was a write off.

I should add that I quite like driving in the snow. There’s something about it that forces absolute concentration and focus, a challenge that I absolutely love. However when you spend 8 hours a day doing it, it’s safe to say it gets pretty tiring.

I woke to a couple of terrific reviews of Wednesday night’s show (including this one), but that wasn’t enough to make me think “hmm, might stick the trainers on.” Instead I relaxed, drank red wine and ate a lovely Valentines meal while waiting for the mrs to get home. Well done Andy – successful solo show the night before can stay in the book of excuses.

That meant Friday 15th February was the day I’d hit the mean streets again. And so I did. It was just a quick one, I have far too much on today for anything else really but with no headphones I snuck a three miler out in 29mins and 12secs. For someone aiming for ten minute miles, averaging 9 minutes 40 seconds is a terrific achievement (in my eyes at least) and I was very pleased.

I’m also unsure. Usually I like to listen to podcasts or audio books while I’m out running, more than I enjoy music. I’m aware they make for slower, more plodding runs than listening to some up tempo music that you can’t help but work harder to. Now I’m wondering if a bit of music would have gotten me under 29 minutes. I’m almost certain it would. But also, it appears that to a certain extent, silence may be golden too.

Regardless, after a stressful week leading up to the show in Leicester it was nice just to zone out for half an hour. No show to think about, no music to think about or podcast to concentrate on. Just me, my trainers and the streets. And my clothes, obviously.

Although I might try that next if it’ll shed a bit more time off…

19 – Midnight Run

Apologies for the delay uploading my latest blog. Actually no, sod it. The last major delay was two years and now you’ve had to wait a week. Get over yourself.

Anyway, this blog is for a run I did on Tuesday 12th February, one day before I went down to Leicester. I say one day, that suggests I did the sensible thing of getting up early, plodding around for a few miles then cracking on with some last minute show prep.

What I managed to do was get up, waste loads of time dawdling on the Internet before doing loads of show prep and phoning people then dawdling on the Internet again, pausing this routine only to watch old episodes of Richard E. Grant’s Hotel Secrets followed by Home Alone 2.

Just as I laced up my trainers ready to go, a very talented comic by the name of David Haddingham called to check how I was getting on. By the time we’d finished slagging off other comics, Home Alone 2 and chatting about my show the next day it was after 11pm. With my trainers on but the hour far too ridiculous to go out and exercise there was only one option.

That option, obviously, was to knock four miles out in 39mins 52secs. It might have been a cool 2 degrees outside but the chance of forty minutes alone without distractions was priceless. I had my show scrawled all over the back of my left hand and pounded the streets, tightening material in my head and getting in some valuable me time. All without the distractions of other pedestrians and traffic. I might head out a bit later every night if that’s what’s on offer!

Realistically I felt good during the run despite the cold, and while I prefer running in the daylight to the dark, it at least crosses one more excuse (it’s too late to be going out now) from my big book of reasons to not go out running.

Oh, and a four mile run under ten minute mile pace too!

17 – Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

It’s rare to start anything with an apology, but it’s been way, way too long since my last blog so for that: sorry. I know, it’s not often lazy creatives actually acknowledge how lazy they are. I’ll wager the beginning of U2’s next album won’t feature The Edge saying “sheesh sorry it’s been so long since the last one, but the money doesn’t spend itself y’know.” Second apology – I’ve just realised I described myself as a creative there. What a wanker.

The running has been going nicely in the years since my last blog. I completed the Great North Run in 2hrs 37mins, which would have been quicker if I didn’t have to stop at a first aid station for some repairs on some blisters then walk the last two miles. To make myself feel better, a couple of months later I ran 13.1 miles in 2hrs 30mins which was my original target. Mission accomplished.

Since then I’ve been running intermittently – build up to running 10 miles, pick up an inury, stop running for months, build up to running 8-10 mile runs then getting a stupid run of gigs that mean I can’t get out for a week then stopping, or catching colds or just life getting in the way. Thankfully having packed in full time work, time is one excuse I can rarely use.

In fact, running is a great part of my writing process, something quite vital when you make all of your money from writing and performing. Away from the distractions of my house and the internet, just having you and the road means you can get some work done, as long as you’re not too knackered to remember it.

This morning, for example, I went out and did a three mile run in 30mins 19secs. I spent that half an hour listening to the first half of a preview I did of my solo show. Whilst it was definitely one of the weirder runs I’ve had (and coldest, I could hardly breathe after a couple of miles), my full focus was on the show; which gags didn’t work, how much I was waffling, entire bits that need removed or put in another order.

To see the results (of the show), you should definitely come along and see me do it – I’m in Leicester on February 13th for FREE (tickets here) and Glasgow on March 22nd (tickets here) for a fiver.

For now though, I can only promise to blog after every run I do. That won’t be every day, but it will be a lot more regular than once every three years. You can bet your bottom Bono on that.*

* I don’t need to read this blog when out running. I’m well aware that didn’t really work.

LCF flyer front

Session Sixteen – One

On the back of nearly seven miles on Saturday, it was time to ease my way back in and try something a little different as well. Actually, compared to the amount of time I’ve spent sat on my arse of late, running technically counts as something different.

Anyway, rather than punish my body over an hour, I thought I’d put a mile in at a faster pace than usual just to see how far I’ve come on. My first session was a mile which was completed in 10mins 50secs – could I complete the same distance under ten minutes this time?

Let’s get the admin out of the way – no, I couldn’t. Let’s get the excuses out of the way – I was bogged down with long heavy shorts not suited to running, a bulky hoody and massive bottle of water which I eventually ditched. And at 10mins 12secs to do 10.02 miles, it was easily an improvement. In fact, take a few seconds off for putting the water down somewhere safe and picking it back up again, and you’re near enough there. Even without the faff, that’s clear improvement.

Tomorrow will need a step up again, either two miles at the same pace or some hill work, ahead of a long one either on Wednesday or Thursday. It’s a busy week of gigs though, so fitting them in is now going to be difficult. We’ll worry about that later. For now though? I’m pretty happy with that.

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  • Session Fifteen – Radio (nearly) Killed The Running Star

    After a slow start we’re starting to get somewhere, baby! That’s right – I called you baby. Mock me, see what I care – it’s unlikely you’re slim and fit, like me. Anyway, a cancelled gig on Saturday night at short notice meant I could go out for my planned longer run and see where I’m at with this whole shebang.

    I had in mind that doing five miles would be nice and should be the minimum aim and at about the same time I should have been stepping on stage, I headed for the lake, which I’ve yet to spot a frog at yet. The lake is about 1.5 miles round and about half a mile away from home if I fanny about and go round the houses getting there. That would mean that to hit five mile I’d need to do three laps and I’d cover a half mile extra as a bonus. Excellent. Only, I hit a few problems early on.

    I thought I’d stick another podcast in and take things slowly and just try enjoy it as best as I could. An hour-long podcast would see me cover four miles even if I took my time, and more likely have me well on my way to five. So I set off from the house, hitting ‘play’ on Five Live’s Fighting Talk, back for the first game of the season. Ten minutes in and my whole phone froze – GPS tracker, MP3 player, the lot. Piss. No way to check my pace (that’ll be the world record attempt out the window then, damn technology), nothing to listen to, just me, my water bottle and nature for company.

    I managed my first lap of the lake no bother. It’s frankly a lovely setting and relatively flat, much better than getting laughed at by charvers or attacked by frogs. Piss-poor terrain compared to the Great North Run, but in terms of a nice run to get miles under your belt, it’s spot on (pics, if you’re desperate for them, here: http://gallery.ashington-ne.co.uk/v/ash-area/museum/?g2_page=2&). As I headed round the second lap in silence… well, with my panting, maybe not silence, but you know what I mean. As I headed round the second lap in silence, I could feel a blister starting to kick in. Annoying, and if I headed home it’d still mean a four mile run, but I was determined to hit five miles. There’s not long left until the GNR and I need to be getting a few serious long runs in, regardless of the time it takes. I’m already facing an uphill battle as it is.

    Despite the night beginning to draw in and me being constantly landed on by flies and midgies, I decided to brave another lap. Brave seems a bit arrogant – I’m pretty sure the soldiers, policemen and doctors don’t see a fat bloke waddling round a lake at a pace better described as a brisk walk than a run and think “wow, what a guy.” Still – sod them. If they’re gonna think like that, they’re the bad guys, not me. Bet that got you back on my side, eh? Or at least confused and on the verge of giving up. Like I was.

    But I battled through the last lap, then headed for home and a bath. I was aching pretty badly – despite being hungry I had no energy to actually eat and I was convinced I’d pushed myself way too far. Now, two days later and about to head out for a fast run, I know I didn’t. I also mapped my run online and discovered I ran a pretty amazing (for me) 6.74 miles. That’s half way! Meaning that, training wise, things are, despite a ridiculous lull in the middle, not going too badly now.

    I’ve no idea of the time it took, thanks to technology depriving me, but truth be told, with no podcast in I know I ran faster than I would have, and the lake is obviously longer than I first thought as well, meaning it’s going to become very handy for adding distance onto runs. Although I’d have liked to have known the time, I went way further than I would and I’m now in a good frame of mind.

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