Category Archives: Shoes

Thon du Jan – Day 5

In a break from Janathon tradition I’m reporting in early today. I’ve already clocked up 11km, but this is a mere taster for the run later tonight, which will be…. erm…well it’ll probably be 11km as well, but I should be breaking 20km today by a fair margin. This should help me claw back lost ground to “fletchea” who has currently overtaken me as the Janathon running god. I want to type a blog post opening in CAPITAL LETTERS again, so retaking the lead is vital and will be done at any cost. I’m not sure who this “fletchea” is – a modicum of investigation has proved he is a credible threat and may actually be a more committed runner than me. But we shall see. We shall see.

Now, you might be thinking “Oh runningthomas, how come you are so fast and can run so far? How can you motivate yourself to achieve so much on a daily basis? Why are you so dashingly handsome? Why…..” STOP! Please. I am a modest man. I can’t take any more praise. However, since you asked so nicely, I thought I’d share some of my running and fitness tips with you today so that you too can emulate my incredible running prowess, if not my ravishing good looks.

Tip 1. Diet.

The only reason to run is so you can eat more crap, guilt free. It doesn’t matter what you eat really – so long as you don’t eat plastic or metal staples (try to remember that). However, my key dietary tip for increased running performance is Tesco Value Digestive Biscuits which I import at vast expense from the UK. Tesco Value Digestive Biscuits are a cheap copy of the McVitie’s Digestive Biscuit a tentpole for British culture and values. If you’re American and reading this (and aren’t still pondering the difference between pants and underpants) then a Digestive Biscuit is essentially what you call a “cookie” and has the texture of a Granola Bar. I think – I can’t pretend to know much about American foodstuffs, though I did once eat a corndog in Seattle. Anyway, back to the biscuits. The Tesco Value versions are cheaper, nastier and leave a taste and texture in the roof of your mouth not unlike wood glue. But they are the cornerstone of sustainable, powerful athletic performance. Trust me on this. For quick-release energy, post-workout recovery, endurance work, whatever, all you need are about 6 of these before you start.

Then 6 once you’ve finished.

Sometimes 6 during.

To be honest, you might as well finish the packet now, you greedy so and so.

Tip 2. Sleep.

Any trained athlete will tell you sleep is important. It’s important for your body to repair itself and for your mind to achieve a poised spiritual balance. Idiots. Trained athletes know nothing. My sleep regime follows what I call the drool – five – shout methodology. To begin you need to stay up as late as you can – 2am or 3am is ideal. You need to reach a stage you black out on the sofa while playing a videogame and wake up an hour later with congealed drool on your chin and a late-night Open University program on the Jacobite Rebellion flickering away on the TV set. You then need to drag yourself to bed for 4 or 5 hours and then get woken up by your partner at 8am shouting at you for forgetting to let the cats out, one of whom has peed in the kids LEGO box and shat on the rug. You then need to spend the first 2 or 3 hours of the day in a haze as 40% of your neurons haphazardly fire at random and you repeatedly drink stiff coffees to return to a near human state. Following this plan to the letter should give you a post-lunch window of 2 or 3 hours where you feel good enough to run – or curl into a foetal ball on the floor and sob – and I bet you you’ll perform better than the “I go to bed at 9pm and wake up to a bowl of organic muesli” crowd.

It will be tough – but remember every day you follow my methodology you will toughen up your body and make it better able to suffer the rigours of sustained athletic performance. Twin this tip with the biscuits in Tip 1 and you’re already 90% of the way to hassle-free long distance running performance.

Tip 3. Equipment

Buy cheap. Always buy the cheapest stuff you can. This way you not only support borderline despotic regimes around the world that exploit their workforces but also get the slightly electric tingly feel you can only get on your nipples with a truly cheap running top. Cheaper trainers are best too. You may be tempted to bow to the “knowledgeable” salesperson who insists that paying double or triple what any sane person would pay for a trainer is a good idea. It isn’t. There is nothing better than a shop own-brand running trainer which looks like it was stitched together by someone holding a needle between their bum cheeks. Cheaper trainers are always more comfortable. More expensive trainers try to mould your foot to them. “Hey!” they say “I cost £150, I’m an expensive bit of kit, you need to be doing things my way!” whereas your typical cheap shoe just shrugs its shoulders and goes “whateverrrr“. Lazy shoes make for better running shoes. For sure, one day they’ll fall apart as you’re running along, like a scene from Police Camera Action, shredding into bits and blinding anyone following close behind you in a cloud of rubber and leather fragments, but until then I assure you your feet will be lovin’ it.

So that’s it. Simple eh? You might be asking why with so many running websites and magazines out there nobody else seems to be highlighting these three tips as logical and simple places to start as part of a structured performance improvement plan. That’s because nobody else understands running and biomechanics as well as wot I do.

The proof, as I like to say, is in the results. All I can say is try my method and if you don’t see results after 30 days then I’ll give you your money back. PHONE TODAY.

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Janathon – Day Trois

I AM LEADING JANATHON! 3 DAYS IN AND I’M IN THE LEAD! TREMBLE BEFORE ME MORTALS! TREMBLE BEFORE YOUR NEW RUNNING GOD!

Not that I’m bothered or anything. You know. It’s just for fun. Just for fun….. m’wha ha ha ha ha!

Anyhoo.

I went into the local sports shop today.

Using simple mathematical reasoning I’d worked out that I was going to get through running tops faster than I could wash them, so it was time to invest another 6 euros in a cheap bit of sportswear manufactured by exploited child workers somewhere in South West Asia.

I’m a bit like Henry Ford when it comes to running gear. Any colour as long as it’s black. But as I reached for yet another black running top I stopped and thought “NO”. I took a stand  against my personal monochromatic tendencies today. In a moment of wild abandon I bought a red one. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, or are aware of my general moaning, I’ve always disliked red. I was quite upset when my chunky Garmin 305 GPS was only available in red. I complained endlessly about it to anyone who would listen. When people stopped listening I started complaining to the pets. When they stopped listening I just started having internal dialogues with myself. Like Gollum.

But as I admired myself in the mirror before setting out for my 16.37km run today I noticed I was practically red all over (Joke: What’s black and white and red all over? Answer: ME). Red top, red GPS, red trainers and (I’m going to be open and frank here), red pants. For anyone American reading that’s pants in the underpants sense. For anyone British reading this that’s pants in the pants sense. For anyone else reading this then STOP THINKING ABOUT MY PANTS YOU DAMN BLOODY PERVERT.

I have embraced red. Red is indeed the new black. To begin with I was a little self-concious. I felt like a human strawberry gambolling through the French countryside. But I did notice that rather than the usual wing-mirror grazing I tended to get from French motorists, for once, they steered well clear of me. Fear the strawberry. Respect the strawberry. If I can twin this with my existing approach to terrifying French OAPs late at night I think I can take my campaign of terror to a new level.

I also bought a luminous yellow band with sparkling (red, yes!) lights on it. The idea is, I think, to strap it around your wrist or thigh (if you’re wondering how they manufactured something with a strap capable of adapting to a standard wrist and a standard thigh, then they didn’t, it’s hopeless) and any approaching cars spotting you late at night think they’ve encountered a low flying UFO and keep well clear. I’m not the most masculine of blokes, but the thought of strapping a luminous garter band on my thigh and running around late at night as I sparkle like Tinkerbell is certainly going to be an interesting new life direction, but one I’m ready to take.

I’m half hoping I do get knocked over. As I lay in broken heap on the road and the driver runs towards me in a panic I can wheeze “…you didn’t believe in fairies…. then this happened…. I hope you’re happy”. I can then do a dramatic death rattle and disappear in a puff of glitter.

Leaving just a faint red outline on the road.

Clunky Cakey

Running. Another 10km. Still in eighth. Two people starting to breathe down my neck. Desperate to reach the end now.

Not much of note happened today.

I did finally book the car in to have an annoying clunk looked at. We’ve already spent about 500 euros at one garage to eliminate the clunk and after fitting new shock absorbers, exhaust lugs and tightening various bits of the car’s underside it still clunks. It’s the sort of clunk the carefree part of your brain says “oh, it’s only a clunk, I’m sure it’s nothing” and the rational part goes “THE BOTTOM OF THE CAR IS GOING TO FALL OFF AND YOU’RE GOING TO DIE”.

The clunking, to date, has been just the perfect amplitude to sit neatly between my two brain halves – noisy enough to worry about, but not noisy enough to do anything about. The impetus to visit a garage was finally there when we realised our badly adjusted headlights were not only blinding oncoming traffic but probably passing aircraft too. In fact, when I saw that ferry had crashed in Italy because the captain started steering all over the place I felt a twinge of guilt we might have had something to do with it.

I was quite proud that I managed to talk to a dungaree wearing French mechanic in detail about our car problems this morning. As a man there’s always a fear when talking to a “trade” that you’re going to come off as a bit of a tit. Most men overcompensate for this by suddenly becoming a cockney wideboy “yeah, it’s makin’ a noise, but I like stripped the accumulator off the bezelflaps, and had a poke abaaahht mate, but I don’t have the time really, too busy shaggin’ me missus and going to the dogs innit’?” but most trade people can spot this posturing a mile off. I was fortunate I didn’t have to go through this male-on-male ritual, because I kept forgetting the French words for shock absorbers and headlights and just sort of ended up pointed at things and whining “it’s not working, fix iiiit“. Since moving to France I have become slightly more mechanically minded, but I’m battling against genetics and a middle class upbringing which has left me lacking the confidence to get really stuck in on an engine or a car in general. Dad – thanks for the appreciation of modern jazz, but WHAT THE HELL DOES A ALTERNATOR DO?

Our car is awful, mind you. It’s a Korean MPV which they don’t sell in the UK. It rolls and wallows on its suspension like a birthing humpback whale. It is uncomfortable to drive, it only has 5 gears (so sounds like a drag racer when you push it to motorway speeds) and it has the fuel economy of a combine harvester. We tend to call it “The Souris” (The Mouse) because everything inside the car is so badly put together whenever the car jiggles it sounds like there’s a flock of mice having an orgy in the footwells. It’s also my fault we bought it. We’d spent ages looking for a French car, and after so many bitter, bitter disappointments I just snapped and decided to get it. Remember when your mum took you round shoe shops when you were little and her patience finally evaporated after entering the eighth shop? Remember when she’d shout “WE’RE BUYING THIS PAIR OF SHOES. I DON’T CARE IF THEY FIT OR IF YOU BLOODY LIKE THEM OR NOT”? Yeah, I’d reached that stage. Car fatigue.

After yesterday’s mini-rant about positive people I realised I’d forgot to mention their number one irritating trait.

Bringing cakes into an office to share around.

 

Oh!

I used to ask a related question when I was interviewing people (“do you bring cakes into the office for your fellow co-workers to enjoy?“) and if anyone answered yes then things went like Hans Gruber’s death scene in Die Hard (youtube it). You should never, ever, bring cakes into an office. There’s no excuse for it. If your pessimistic co-workers wanted a cake, they’d have got a cake. Bringing a cake into an office for someone else is like a cry for help. It’s needy. It’s clingy. It’s expressing a desperate desire to be loved. It’s not spreading positivity, it spreads resentment. It says “I’ve got the salary/time to waste on buying cakes for you people, LOVE ME, LOVE ME”. It really makes me angry. When people used to bring cakes into my office I’d barge to the front then deliberately, and very slowly, lick each cake and put them back on the tray. It’s the only way to teach positive people their behaviour is unacceptable.

Thinking about it, I might have a “things I hate about positive people” paragraph every day on the blog.

Tomorrow – the evil bastards who arrange office birthday cards.

Running is SO BLOODY BORING

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.

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