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…

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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!

18 – It’s Not Right – But It’s Okay

Usually I aim for ten minute miles. By no means quick, but fairly decent for a fat bloke still getting into the swing of things.

Today I put my run off for about two hours. A journalist was supposed to call me for an interview, but even when I gave up on that happening I just stared out the window at the dark, cold, wet, windy scene outside and kept thinking “surely there must be other stuff I could be getting on with?”

There absolutely is, but I got up off my arse, changed my running route and managed 5 miles. It may have taken 50mins 56secs, but that’s close enough to my target pace to be happy, especially considering the wind. I slacked off slightly and listened to a podcast rather than myself this time. I’m feeling fairly happy with my show so I thought I’d give myself a treat, and besides, I don’t think I could have tolerated listening to me for nearly an hour! *

It was an utterly uneventful run, I maybe passed one other person the entire time I was out, but to be away in solitude with nothing other than myself for company made it ideal for a loner like me. Besides, back home with a glass of wine and a hot bath, sometimes just getting out there is the achievement rather than any nonsense about distance or time. I feel great. I might not have won the war just yet, but I smashed the tits off the battle. And that’s all that counts right now.

 

* If you can tolerate the idea of listening to me for an hour, please come along to my FREE stand up comedy show at Leicester Comedy Festival this Wednesday, 13th March 2013. You can reserve spaces here.

 

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LCF flyer

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.

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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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Session Fourteen – You’re The Run That I Want (Ooh, Ooh, Ooh)

So then, I chickened out of last night. There’s several excuses for this – firstly, arriving home late after watching Inception left me short of routes, secondly, I’m lazy. But mainly the routes thing.

The easiest route to take would be my ‘usual’, head two miles up the road then turn around and come back. However, it’s also what can only be described as ‘that one that was fucking full of frogs that time’. There. I said it. I’m a little bit frightened. I’m not quite sure what of – I’d kill one if I had to, or even if it just tried to fight me. But the thought of a hundred of the slimy green gets jumping out at me ruled that out.

Route two would take me into and around town. It’s a nice little run to be fair, but at 9.30pm when England are playing, not ideal. I’ve shouted abuse from the safe confines of a pub and if I saw me running past I’d do the same again. There was nothing else for it – Thursday would see me hit the four mile mark.

And hit it I did, friends. Not just hit it, but smashed it. In fact, not only smashed it, I took it out to dinner as friends and it turned into a date and we then got married and had babies together. Okay, so I might not have nailed it quite that well, but 4.18 miles in 52mins 43secs isn’t too bad – not a million miles away from 12 minute miles.

The run was pleasant – there’s a lake near us that’s about a mile and a half to run around, there’s very few frogs kicking about, some swans and not many people. Oh, and a miniature railway and a big railway nearby too. Essentially, it’s got everything I need except a kebab shop.

I stuck Carl Donnelly’s excellent podcast in and whilst listening to people talking is abysmal for speed, it seems to keep me hooked and I forget about the agony my body is going through. There was a brief moment three miles in where I thought “is that it?” but it was a far easier run than one with my mp3s on random.

The next step will be some shorter runs sans-tunes, so that I know I can still run faster than a mobility scooter when required, but for now I’ve nailed surviving the longer runs. I’m hoping to hit five miles on Saturday morning before hopping up to bonny Scotland for the weekend.

No doubt my next blog will be a fortnight away, apologising for not keeping the promise.

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