Running in the background

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Like brushing my teeth or remembering to take a scarf when its cold , running has moved from being a thing requiring planning and effort to just something I do.

That’s not to say I do not make arrangements to find time to run, and none more so when I know there is a mileage challenge needing attention, or with winter approaching and the shortening days, there is a bit more consideration needed around running in weather hazards and darkness.

But recently when beyond running, I have been going through a period of change (on Friday I left my job after 8 years  and there are some unknowns on the horizon work-wise), making time to run has felt effortless – and comforting.

My 999 mileage target is on track – almost half way through November the total sits at 865 miles – and with 50 days left of this year,that means I just have to average 2.68 miles each day between now and December 31st.

I am hoping in the next couple of weeks to fit in some longer runs to take me to 900 miles by the end of November, and have signed up to run every day in December. So barring injury or any major disaster I am optimistic.

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999 countdown

Convention has it that resolutions and commitments to life improvements take place at the start of the year, but whether through my love of procrastination or a general ennui over goal setting,  I have ambled through 2017 free of embarking on any big challenges or certainly where running is concerned.

At some point I thought about doing a marathon this year, then I talked myself out of it – deciding that it was always too hot in Edinburgh in May and attempting marathon number 1 at Loch Ness in September might be too much worry for me to deal with for a whole 9 months.

Marathoning can be my 2017 challenge – well maybe…

It seems that without some kind of contest to aim for,I just drift along running wise. While that is just fine and a big part of me wants running to be just a regular thing I do, given how much I have a love/hate relationship with competition, there is no escaping the focus a deadline gives me.

Twas ever thus and maybe this is why when recently browsing through my Nike+  running app and  checking on the leaderboard, I noticed that my mileage for the year was close to 750 miles in late Sept.

With 3 months of the year left, the possibility of reaching 1000 miles seemed doable and the kind of challenge I relish. Setting a target mileage would  help with the inevitable shortfall of winter motivation. As the days shorten and clocks change soon,  much as I prefer running in cooler temperatures – running in darkness does require some incentive.

So I have done the calculations and it looks like I only need to do 20 miles a week – less than 3 a day from now till Dec 31st.

And to make it a bit easier and less of a round number I am aiming to reach 999 miles by Dec 31st .

As of today – mileage stands at 784.7 – so If I can get to 800 by the end of October, I think I am definitely in with a chance of getting that medal.

It’s all about the weather : days 22- 28 everydayinmay

Like many people who live in these meteorologically varied Isles – I spend a lot of time talking about the weather and I fully accept that I may be borderline nerd-like around the subject. I certainly tick a lot of boxes for a would be weather obsessive

1. I am British ✔️

2. I live in Scotland ✔️

3. I run a lot outside ✔️

all I need to complete the set is to take up gardening or farming !

Running or not, I enjoy weather watching and cloud spotting and am not just a fair weather friend of the weather if that makes sense. I love frosty mornings as much as sunny afternoons, get childishly excited when it snows and even like rain.

Harder to love is a grey flat sky, a north wind at a bus stop or a sneaky drop in temperature mid May when you have stuffed your opaque tights to the back of the drawer – but maybe these are just tests that the weather gods present me with to prove that my love is true. ❤

Last week while running every day I experienced a few weather contrasts – Sunday May 22 was spent running in glorious Spring sunshine in Cambridgeshire, Monday 23 and back home my evening run was in bright warm sunshine – lovely. Tuesday 24 I caught the best of the day with a very early run and sunrise capture, but by Wednesday 25 the sun had vanished and my run was a chilly downhill to the train station against a cold headwind. Thursday 26  was just wet and temperatures in single figures. So by Friday 27 I was girding my loins for more cold, grey, windy running but instead enjoyed a late lunchtime run in equable temperatures, no sunshine but  without a breath of wind –  taking me to Saturday 28 – Day 28 of running everydayinmay, where the weather was pleasantly mild, even some patches of blue sky but as I was running with my good companion Alison and  know I am just 3 days away from the finish – I would happily have run through a blizzard 🙂

Along with many others I am running everydayinmay to raise funds for Dimbleby Cancer Care, a charity that provides much appreciated practical and psychological support for cancer patients. If you would like to donate please visit Scout or Sally’s Just giving page. Thank You

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Day 22 – running everydayinmay… in May

I used to think the saying n’er cast a clout till is May is oot – meant you should keep wearing your vest until the end of May – and living in Scotland as I do that makes a lot of sense.

Then one cold May day, I was at some event or other and just chatting during a tea break to two very nice ladies and they kindly pointed out to me that the saying referred to May flowers – or the blossom of the hawthorn tree – which made more sense. Although of course as it happens, May blossom is often not fully out until the end of May certainly in Scotland, so I guess it works either way. There is a lot of folklore associated with the Hawthorn tree but folklore aside, May blossom in full bloom just so, so lovely.

This weekend I was visiting Cambridge and as I am running everydayinmay – on Sunday my day 22 run was a very enjoyable and easy trek along by the river Cam out of the city towards Fen Ditton and Horningsea following the towpath.

Although you can see and hear the motorway from some sections of the route, and now and then a glimpse of a train rattling along a couple of fields away, it feels very rural and pastoral and peaceful. I love how with running you can be just a few miles or minutes away from a city and yet be cast back in time and place and surrounded by nature.

It was a warm, sunny morning and my legs felt surprisingly fresh given that Sunday marked day 22 of consecutive running.  Surrounded by the heady fragrance of white hawthorn blossom, running everydayinmay in May – with a flat route, sunny skies, and a wonderful wildlife soundscape did put a spring in my step.

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Day 22 Miles run 10 – total miles 99

Along with many others I am running everydayinmay to raise funds for Dimbleby Cancer Care, a charity that provides much appreciated practical and psychological support for cancer patients. If you would like to donate please visit Scout or Sally’s Just giving page. Thank You

Friday evening run – day 6 everydayinmay now with video !

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So last Friday  I did my everydayinmay run in the evening after work and caught the best of the day. There are quite few people taking part in this collective challenge, with the shared objective of raising funds for Dimbleby Cancer Care – a charity that supports people who have cancer, providing both practical and emotional support.

We are scattered throughout the country and maybe even in some other countries too – but are connected by a common goal and of course the wonder and splendidness of social media. Depending on which is your channel of choice – you can tune in and find out how fellow everydayinmay companions are doing on any given day.

This is a big motivation for me and I  am sure others , as even when running alone, it never feels that way. And although I run regularly – there is a big difference between choosing to run on selected days and making a commitment to run or move for 5k EVERYDAY for a whole month.

So is quite the bonus to see a Tweet or a Facebook post or Instagram from someone who is just as dishevelled and sweaty and you are.

Rock on everydayinmay people !

In amongst this happy band of walkers, runners, bikers and swimmers sharing their efforts socially – I look forward to Helen’s  record – as Helen does a vlog , featuring live running and with her lovely anchorman son signing off each time – and often stealing the show with some unscripted comment ;).   Helen makes it look effortless (well maybe not the running bit 🙂 ) and so inspired by Helen and flushed with misplaced optimism around my own technical competence I decided to have a go at recording my run last Friday.

I will leave you to judge – but while I was pleased that I could just about manage the co-ordination of feet, hands and looking vaguely in the right direction , I reckon I have quite a bit of work to do before I have any chance of becoming YouTube famous.

So in the interests of sharing that is an essential and enjoyable part of participation in  everydayinmay – here are the 2 videos that made it beyond the cutting room floor.

Sorry about the sniffing …

 

 

We are all doing this challenge to raise funds for Dimbleby Cancer Care, and it would be wonderful if you were able to  make a contribution or sponsor my efforts by sponsoring Scout or Sally here 

All out of sequence – days 9 and 10 everydayinmay

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My quest for life perfection ( hahaha) is a road full of twists and turns and with quite a few cul de sacs and wrong turnings to boot, so while I can just about manage to fit running everyday around working, eating and sleeping – finding time to write about it has stumped me once again.

It is true of course that much as I enjoy running and writing about running,like most of my fellow everydayinmay folk I am fitting time to do this around everydaylife .

So as I tick ‘writing a witty daily column in a national paper’ off my potential career change list, here is a bit of a recap of everydayinmay progress featuring  days 9 & 10 -the murky days in the middle.

Day 9 –  I ran in the evening as just could not drag myself out of bed on Monday morning to run before work, but as it turned out it was worth holding off until the evening as it was a beautiful sun filled, May evening with magical light and blossoms looking very pretty.

After a workday Monday this was a very pleasant end to the day.

While I am not doing big daily mileage – I have been doing some longer runs at the weekend and work is a bit full on just now – so today was a kind of rest day for me. Running on my own and without any time pressures, I was mostly ambling along stopping to take pictures, enjoying the sunshine , and amusing local dog walkers with my attempts at ‘selfie under blossom tree’.

Next to running with friends , this is my favourite kind of running –  it’s meditative,therapeutic and after a day at my desk  a perfect way to tease out the workday tension knots.

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Day 9 3.21 miles

Everydayinmay total 42.66 miles

Everyday tips and tricks – day 10

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As a 10 min mile pace runner, 3 songs usually equals a mile covered ( unless listening to my Ramones playlist). This otherwise useless fact is one of many of the mind games and tricks I use to get me get through the occasional patch of running ennui.

It is not that I find running boring – but not all runs are created equal and I do sometimes need to find some extra motivation. As a veteran of taking part in daily running challenges I know there will be days when I don’t feel like running but I also know that once committed to the task my stubbornness and desire for completion will not let me miss a day or give up.

On this current challenge – I don’t even have to run everyday if I don’t want to – I could be mixing it up with walking or cycling or such like – but having started running I recognise that I am now in that mildly addicted trainspotter mindset that I fall into.

I take pleasure watching the days tick off and seeing my monthly mileage increase, so allowing myself a day off running would feel like cheating on my self-imposed target.

Crazy me   

Of course I am only running 5k each day – and it’s a bit of a leveler to consider people who have chosen to run longer distances regularly – most recently thinking of  Eddie Izzard and his inspiring 27 marathons in as many days.

But as a fellow everydayinmay participant – Thomas –  highlighted the other day, most of us taking part in this challenge are doing it alongside our day to day lives, and without a team to offer support finding a time to run or walk or cycle 5k in between taking kids to school, working shifts, travelling on business, eating, sleeping – generally living.

 Just trying to be normal

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Day 10 3.17 miles

Everydayinmay total 45.83 

 

  

 

 

Making time to stand and stare – day 5 everydayinmay

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“What is this life if full of care we have no time to stand and stare ?” – so said WH Davies in his poem Leisure “…. no time to stand beneath the boughs and stare as long as sheep and cows “.

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Like Shylock’s soliloquy from Shakespeare’s Julius Ceasar learned in English class aged 15 and many public information films watched regularly in the 70s  – these scattered  lines are locked nicely in my brain and pop to the surface easily.

The poem Leisure has a simple message with an easy rhythm and while it may not be to everyone’s taste I like it for a couple of reasons. First up it reminds me of my Dad. He was not given to reciting poetry often, but I am pretty sure he introduced me to it quite possibly while out walking the fields. Growing up on a farm I often watched our cows standing and staring and they looked to have the right idea.

And I  like the poem because the sentiment resonates with me  – as a reminder to remember to take some time everyday to just be.

My memories of my Dad are few and fading, as he died many years ago from cancer when he was only 58 and I was not quite 21. Before that my mother had died from a different cancer, so very young at 38 and long before I was old enough to remember her.

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So many of us have an experience of cancer whether through a close family member, a relative or friend. But what I find hopeful is how science and research are progressing in the areas of prevention and cure, so in the space of a generation, a cancer that killed my mother can now be prevented in many cases through vaccination.

And better still, attitudes and support for those who have cancer have got so much better through charities and organisations who exist to provide practical and human support- so far removed from a time of not speaking about the ‘big C’ or other euphemisms around the illness.

Charities like Dimbleby Cancer Care exist to provide the softer care and support for people who have cancer, and they rely on challenges like everydayinmay help to raise much needed funds to help them continue with the support and services they can offer.

Maybe for those of us taking part in this collective challenge it is a way to feel joy in being healthy and alive and having time to stand and stare like those clever cows.

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Day 5 4.03 miles

EDIM total 19.9 miles

If you would like to you can sponsor me via Scout’s page here

 

A game of two halves -day 3 everydayinmay

Today Leicester CIty football club won the English premier league, and breakfast radio was full of football chatter as well it might be. The win is a fantastic achievement by an unheralded club who had narrowly avoided relegation in the previous season, and says much about teamwork and charismatic management.

Nice to wake up to good news for a change.

So by way of a small homage to the beautiful game – my run today was a game of two halves.

At 6.15 and catching the tail end of a heavy rain shower I did 1.55 miles zig zagging up and down my neighbourhood streets. Several years experience of December daily running has given me a curious knowledge of how you can tally up a mile or two close to home.

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Then as my Nike+ lady might tell me – ‘half way point’.

Next I jumped in my car and drove from Edinburgh to Dunfermline where on Tuesdays I do a training session before work with my PT Katie. The park where we train is hilly – but I volunteered to have lots of hill work for today’s session to fit in some distance. Meaning that the second run was mixed up with frog jumps, squats, walking lunges, and press ups.

Commentators might describe my second half performance as lacking the enthusiasm and brio of the opening first half minutes, and as I discovered it takes a fair few sets of hill reps to cover 1.55 miles.

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Day 3 3.15 miles

EDIM total 12.5 miles

 

 

Music for all seasons – day 2 everydayinmay

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I don’t very often run listening to music, as when I am not running with someone and chatting, I just like to keep my ears open and listen to the sounds of the air. It’s one of many things I notice about running, you hear much more – or I do.

But  waking at 6am to a noisy wind and rainy sky Monday, I thought some music might be needed. My music choice is limited as I don’t seem to ever get round to updating the handful of playlists on my phone, although when I do these daily running challenges  I quite enjoy the repetition of a familiar playlist.

So I know that according to my  ‘Edinburgh Half’  playlist – by the time I get to ‘The Hollies – the Air That I breathe’ – I am pretty close to my 3 mile finish, and that when stepping out on a dark frosty morning ‘the Carpenters -Top of the World’ is pretty essential listening.

This helpful ritual only works if you don’t accidentally switch to shuffle – as I did today – and so instead of Karen Carpenter’s upbeat trill ; first up was Dean Owens’ Snowglobe – a very lovely if poignant tune about loneliness and depression at Christmas time and as the title suggests painting a rather wintry vibe, complete with sleigh bells. Swiftly  followed by ‘First Aid Kit – Emmylou’ – another favourite of mine but featuring these unseasonal opening lines ‘the bitter winds are coming in and I am already missing the summer …’

Luckily shuffle segued neatly into ‘The Kinks -Sunny afternoon’ – so despite running into a headwind and heavy rain, I could just about believe it was May 2nd.

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Day 2  3.17 miles

EDIM total 9.41miles

 

 

May Day run – but not yet casting my clouts :)

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Yesterday as on most Saturdays, I joined my good chum Alison for one of our weekend runs. The  sun was shining, birds were singing, the sky was blue and everywhere there were signs of spring.  We were glad that we had chosen that day to do a longer run than usual and completed a very enjoyable 10 miler along a familiar route – out and back to Balerno on the Dell path.

Today is the first of May – May day. A day when tradition has it that young maidens might rise early and wash their faces in morning dew, a day to set up the Maypole and dance around with the May queen, of Beltane and other festivals to celebrate that Spring is here. (apologies for this rather uninformed brief skim around May traditions – more research needed).

But today the weather is not very May-like in Edinburgh at least – so my May 1st run was under grey skies with a blustery wind and temperatures back into single figures and to be honest did not feel very Spring like. While yesterday I was running in a sleeveless vest, today it was back to Scottish running wear and plenty of layers. I certainly will not be casting my clouts just yet – even though yesterday the May blossom was well and truly out.

No matter – I like to run in all weathers , and today is the first day of a challenge I have joined – Everydayinmay.  This event was set up by Sally Pinnegar to raise funds for Dimbleby Cancer Care, a charity that she has a very personal connection with and sits well with Sally’s approach to life in general – eating healthily, living well and getting outdoors.

As the name suggests it is a challenge to undertake self-powered movement every day in May – walk, cycle, run ,swim, kayak,dance whatever. Being as I am a creature of habit I am aiming to run 5k each day – and looking forward to being part of the collective effort to raise funds.

I am going to try to blog about my efforts reasonably frequently, so just a bit advance notice of repetition. I am not actively fundraising – but if anyone reading this would like to make a donation to this very deserving charity you can sponsor Scout. Scout also takes part in Everydayinmay and writes a very funny blog about his adventures. His Just Giving page is here

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