Category Archives: Lycra

Gary Barlow, septicaemia and a possible amputation?

Another 10km today. When I woke up (and this is gross, so if you’re easily grossed out skip to the next paragraph) my injured thighs had stuck together and as I pulled them apart I tore the scab off the nasty welt on my right leg. I couldn’t find a plaster to cover it for the run, so basically I had to run while one of my legs rubbed an open wound for 55 minutes. I’m so hardcore, I know. Grrr!

(If it’s any consolation if I see a wasp or a spider I shriek and run about flapping my arms and begging my girlfriend to save me, so I’m not 100% masculine).

Anyway the leg is very, very painful tonight, and normally I wouldn’t run for a couple of days to let it heal up, but seeing as it’s Janathon I’ll risk septicaemia and a possible amputation. No pain, no gain people.

Couple of photos from out and about. I shaved off my beard, or at least dropped it to a stubble effect that was fashionable in the early 90s.

Looking at the headphones there I thought I’d waffle on about the art of running while listening to something. What to listen to when you run is an intensely personal choice. It’s also something best kept private. But in true blog style I’m going to share some personal information about myself on this subject! Hooray!

I have always favoured cheap mp3 players. I once owned an iPod and I hated it. So much so I threw it off a garden shed onto the lawn and never found it again. Actually getting music onto it from a PC was so tortuous and long winded it would have been easier to port a 1920’s gramophone around with me instead. In the intervening years I became quite a connoisseur of the cheaper music device. Creative was my brand of choice. I don’t know how they gained my brand loyalty as nearly all their devices lasted 5 or 6 months before breaking. After something like 4 consecutive Creative Zens I settled on buying very, very cheap French manufactured mp3 players instead. Now, while the French have a fairly decent reputation for manufacturing, I do imagine the French mp3 factory to consist of line after line of robot arms holding cigarettes, dressed in stripy T-shirts, arguing about politics and clocking off for two hours every lunchtime.

My current French designed music device is a camera, video recorder, music player, voice recorder, video player and eReader. It also cost less than 30 euros. You do the math. Something has to give there, surely? Indeed, what gives is the fact they saved money on buttons, using the bare minimum to make even simple operations like changing the volume feel like solving a Rubik’s Cube. They also fitted a backlit LCD screen that would be embarrassed by the original Gameboy Advance. As a running mp3 player it’s hopeless. To change tracks I have to pull it out of my pocket (yes, pocket, I don’t agree with the current trend of strapping an iDevice to your arm, it looks stupid, stop it) move it to within 2cm of my face, try to shield it from the sun and then contort my fingers like I’m playing a Mandolin to change a track. It’s really, really dumb. I look stupid when doing it, and if I’m trying to manipulate it while it’s still in my pocket nearby mothers shriek and pull their daughters in close and shield their eyes. “Don’t look at the nasty man Charlotte!”

When I started running I figured the time I spent out on the road would be perfect to fill my cheap mp3 player with politics, history and science podcasts. After a few weeks I’d not only be buffer than Mr Sheen, I’d have Stephen Fry levels of knowledge and wit with which to dazzle family and friends at dinner parties. The problem I found, pretty quickly, was that the more interesting the podcast was, the slower I’d run. I’d also lose a lot of spatial awareness and come out of a daze and find myself heading onto a motorway, or about to be totalled by a passing truck. So I tried music instead. The frustrating thing was that the better the music was the worse I ran, for very similar reasons as the podcasts. I found myself gradually letting my taste and decency barriers down until, and I can’t belive I’m putting this into print, I ran my fastest ever 10km while listening to….


Scouting For Girls.

Now, I have friends who actually physically hiss and retract like a vampire exposed to a crucifix at the mere mention of a band like Scouting For Girls and I can’t but help feel embarrassment that my greatest performance was saved for a band that only have 2 song variants ( 1 – she left me, I’m sad 2 – I’m with her, she’s great!). Even more startling is the fact my fastest ever time for the half marathon came to the Take That comeback album. I’d love to run fast to the Pixies or Mogwai, but it just doesn’t work. Gary Barlow makes me run faster. I can’t explain this, and I can only offer myself to the mercy of the audience and beg forgiveness.

It’s really one of the reasons I refuse to ever buy a pair of full length lycra leggins. I think I’m teetering on the edge of something, and if I let myself go I’ll be in a place no self-respecting tractor owning farmer in rural France wants to be.

See you tomorrow darlings!

Start Time
Jan 4, 2012 11:44 AM
10.00 km
Avg Speed
5:34 min/km
Max Speed
4:39 min/km
931 kcal
119 m / 175 m
61 m ↑ / 51 m ↓


Today dawned FOUL.

As a trudged through horizontal rain doing the morning round of food for all the animals on the farm my motivation for running was dangerously low. Thankfully after a couple of bowls of Sugar Puffs (well, the terrible French equivalent, let us call them Le Sugar Puffs) I was raring to go, and did another 10km.

I’m a little slow at the moment, though. My aim for this year is to finally get my PB for the 10km below 40 minutes. At the moment I’m running 55 minutes, so I think the two months of inactivity and stuffing my face might have impacted my athletic performance somewhat. Still, barring horrible injury, alien abduction or me making the Olympic rowing team (unlikely, as I’ve never rowed) I should be back on top form by the end of the month.

I couldn’t find any especially interesting photographs, so here’s one of my current running shoes.

I think they’re Asics Gel Kayano 17s. Whatever they are, don’t buy shoes like these. They’re heavy and have Delorean build quality. I often think I’d be better stapling two copies of the Radio Times on my feet and running in them. Terrible, terrible running shoes.

Seeing as we’re talking boring, I suppose now would be a good time to point out how bloody boring running is to a non-runner.

It is.

You might not think it is, and I don’t think it is, but to a non-runner any discussion about running is about as exciting as peeling an orange.

They have a point I guess. Running is a fairly tedious sport because it really is quite simple. You put on trainers, you move your legs, you cover a particular distance, you stop. For sure, there’s a flutter of excitement about which brand of Garmin you choose to wear and whether full length lycra leggins should ever be worn by a man (answer: no, never) but by and large running is brutally straightforward.

When a person first takes up running there’s a torrent of achievements. e.g. The first time you manage to run 5km without stopping and vomiting on a passer-by. The first time you run 10km in under an hour and go home and demand sex off your girlfriend as a reward (before she punches you in the face for being cheeky). The first time you outrun another runner, possibly a man in lycra leggins (answer: no, never) and flip them the bird while laughing like a Bond villain. Each of these milestones (or kilometerstones) is something that means a great deal to the runner, but nothing to friends and family. Try to tell a nearest and dearest about any of these achievements and unless they’re a runner themselves the likelihood is that their eyes will glaze over and they’ll absent mindedly start poking themselves with a spoon. Or even worse, they’ll look at you with the cool air of someone who thinks you’re getting ahead of yourself. That running isn’t really a sport for the masses, but an ungentlemanly pursuit that only whippets and Northeners should engage in. It’s hard when you realise that nobody really cares about pace, pronation, cadence, footpods and space-age wicking material like you do. It hurts.

You also have to blame Eddie Izzard for devaluing the marathon distance (“you’re only doing one?”) I felt almost embarrassed to admit that I was only going to run a paltry 42km and then have a rest for a few days afterwards. So not only am I engaged in a boring sport but my end goals are also boring (“you’re not running for 17 consecutive days through a Chilean rainforest dressed only in your Y-fronts? So why should I sponsor you?”)

To top it all, I’m even finding writing this blog post is boring me!

So I’ll stop.