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Personal

My 2019 Year In Running

It’s been a while since I wrote anything here, so I thought I’d reflect a little on what was a surprisingly active running year. I’m pretty out of practice with this writing lark, so apologies if it reads a little clumsy.

TLDR: It started optimistically. I got fat. I then lost weight. During it all, I ran some new types of races. By the end of it, I had clocked up loads of miles (2095, to be precise).

Started Optimistically.

I started the year with an accidental 18 miler, where I jogged to a Parkrun on New Years Day, ran it, found out there was another one a couple of miles away, jogged there, jogged that, got bloody nipples (there are photos in the previously linked Strava post, I’ll leave clicking through to them as an exercise to the particularly masochistic readers), and then realised that I was 6 miles from home with no public transport and Uber/taxis prohibitively expensive – so I jogged back.

It was a reassuringly smug (but slightly sore) way to start the year. Buoyant on a combination of adrenaline and Savlon, I gave myself a quiet mileage target of 2019 miles in 2019.

Got Fat.

In March, we moved house. My commute run grew 3 miles in each direction, the extra mileage led to an increase in appetite, the additional tiredness led to an inability to enact any kind of self-discipline, and like a shit Power Ranger, these attributes combined to create slow, inevitable weight gain.

I was eyeing the Rock’n’Roll Marathon in Liverpool as a late Spring race but ended up opting out due to an extra-stress-due-to-pork-pies-induced flare-up of knee bursitis. I get bursitis now and again, it’s a consequence of falling over a lot and not looking after myself. This was definitely the latter.

Lost Weight.

At the end of April, following my R’n’R did-not-start, I decided I needed to get on top of the weight situation or I’d see another streak ended. I have a long-lived todo to write more about my running streak – what happened to the original one, why I started another, etc – however, that’s a job for another day.

Using a spreadsheet I found on Reddit, I began to track my Total Daily Energy Expenditure and laboriously counted calories. I kept myself engaged by adapting that spreadsheet into a mini-side-project, teaching myself a bit of TypeScript, D3 and Gatsby. Again another blog post, but the repo/mini-write-up can be found on GitHub, and you can see my progress up until November on this little graph here. It stops in November because Christmas has happened and I’ve fallen off my chubby little wagon – again, another thing to come back to later, maybe I’ll get to it in my next year in review (i.e. the next time I update this thing).

New Types of Races.

2009 has seen me run 6 races. This isn’t all that prolific, generally speaking, but for me, it is a record. This year has also opened up new race experiences, from trail running, through to beer runs:

My “season” started in June, where I and a few workmates ran the Pizza 10k in Heaton Park. We did a 5k version in South Manchester last year, and this year it had expanded to two laps of Heaton Park. It’s a good atmosphere, has a fun & interactive warm-up (our three-year-old loved joining in), and we received an awesome pizza-shaped medal & a couple of slices of pizza at the end.

A month later, I ran my first ever trail race – the Royton Trail over by Tandle Hill in North Manchester. A small evening run, held over fun terrain, it was an absolute blast – and the egg mayo sandwiches afterwards were delicious. I liked the trail running experience so much that I actively sought out off-road races after this. A few weeks after, I was able to race literally across the road from my new house at the Hopwood Trot. I found it doubly hard due to it being 2 loops of an awful hill, but in retrospect, I think I performed well. I look forward to running that one again in 2020.

August contained the highlight of my year – the Marple Beer run. 4 pints in 4k. It was an entirely new experience, but one I’ve been passively training myself for since around 2013 – anytime I have a pint or 4 and then run home (would not recommend, by the way). Consequently, I performed way beyond expectations, to the point where I expect I’ll have to train extra hard next year if I want to get any faster.

October saw me take on another beer-related race – the Beer 10k, fortunately, this one was based at a brewery, and the drinks are consumed afterwards, rather than during. The pre-race intro was especially entertaining here – the race director went into all of the calamities that had befallen the race that day (from discarded drug paraphernalia being found during the pre-check through to a freshly fallen tree which required the introduction of a plastic “step” to help scale it) and had us all in stitches. Anyway, by this point, I was starting to feel the benefits of shifting the weight – I was down about 12kg and my times were coming down without really trying.

Which brings me to my most recent race – the 13 Arches Half. A beautiful trail marathon in and around Prestwich. My personal record for a 13.1-mile race was the Great North Run back in 2012, and I think based on this performance, I’ll be able to clear that if I run a bigger road half. I say this because I clocked in at 5 minutes under my PR – I’m not considering it a PB though because the mileage fell a fair bit short of 13.1 (0.4-0.8 miles depending on whose watch you go by). I wasn’t running this to any break records, it was a genuinely enjoyable trail race (even with it being a rainy mud fest), and I’ll go out of my way to run it next year.

Loads of Miles.

I kinda buried the lede with the whole table of contents in the tl;dr thing, but yeah, I smashed through my optimistic-at-the-time intention of running 2019 miles in 2019 by clearing 2095. It’s one of the reasons I’ve had an easy/fat December (my love of all things Stollen aside) – I cleared that target around the 7th December.

My lowest mileage month was January, where I struggled with ITB issues (I resolved to always stretch after that. I’m pretty terrible with resolutions of any type, it seems), but still managed to log 115 miles. And I peaked in October with 228 miles. No particular reason for that, mind – I was just loving running at that point in the year.

I have some plans for what I want to do next year, but I’m kinda keeping them to myself. I have found that what I once thought was some sort of personal-but-public call-to-accountability is in reality documented hubris. It leads to me making every “I’m-gonna-do-this-cos-I-wrote-it” promise an all-or-nothing-throw-it-out-the-window-when-things-go-awry weight around my neck.

And so, I’m gonna stop writing now. Mostly because I’ve run out of hyphens to spew over WordPress. Cheers for making it this far.

Categories
Personal

End of / New Year update (2014/2015)

I’m not going to blather too much on here. Just dot down some bullet points to update you and remind my future self how things are going:
  • My running streak is still alive, it hit 3 years as of yesterday. My real celebration happened in October, when I passed day 1024:
  • Weight is once again well up. This is a problem I continue to have despite putting in 40-60 miles most weeks. It’s the result of a bad diet, a complete lack of discipline, and the high mileage.
  • I read “Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance“* over the Christmas break. It has given me a lot of ideas about how to lose weight while doing my lengthy commute runs.
  • One of the things it recommends is to track body fat rather than weight. So I got myself a set of Omron BF508 Body Composition and Body Fat Monitor Bathroom Scales* in the Amazon Boxing Day sales. I don’t know how they compare to “accurate” methods of measurement. It is a baseline from which to track my progress.
  • According to the book, I’m in the 5th percentile of “athletes” of my age. I’m not an athlete, but it gives me an idea of what other people doing a similar workload to me carry. It also tells me that maybe I should look after myself better.
  • Currently, I’ve marked the book as 3 stars on Goodreads. I shall revisit this in about 6 months and review it based on my results.
  • I once again intend to update this thing more, as a blog that reflects me and where I am right now. Expect more running, more tech stuff, as well as some reflection on the things I have consumed. Revisiting that stuff is both rewarding and useful. I should do it more.
\* I’ve stuck some affiliate links in there. Delete them if you care.
Categories
Personal Technical

Quantified Fatigue

I have had a post in draft since the beginning of the year, all about analysing my running streak as it stands. It picks out the miles I’ve done on it, average mile per run, distributions of milages, that sort of thing. Loads of self indulgent wank, that I felt at the time was “interesting”. Reading back on it now, it’s anything but. In the middle of composing it (according to WordPress, I last touched it 11th February), I stopped measuring pretty much everything. I just got sick. Sick of weighing myself. Timing myself. Caring how far I had ran. Measuring shit definitely works – I have no doubt of that. Anytime I’ve measured something, I have consistently optimised towards that metric – be it weight, speed, bacon eaten. In the case of weight, the opposite also holds true – I put on about 2kg in the month following my “sick of this shit” tantrum. I was still exercising plenty – running at least 30 miles per week in that time, in addition to a couple of BJJ sessions. I just happen to have a better appetite. All of this has made me think – is the value in the “quantified self” movement that people are explicitly going out of their way to measure and observe things that they would like to optimise? If we were able to get these metrics at any point without installing apps, or buying devices, or just plain writing them in spreadsheets, would this value disappear? Beyond being able to say “oh, I’m fat because I do little exercise and eat too many calories” (unlike all of those other fat people), why is a graph such a motivator? I understand that the whole thing is more faceted than “MAKE THE GRAPH GO BIGGER” – there is accountability (to both the tech and other people), QS allows you to find patterns and correlations in the data that you might not have otherwise noticed, as well as a billion other reasons for its existence. It can’t be a coincidence that the latest Apple and Samsung products have a “health & fitness” spin on them. I should note here that I’ve not touched this post since March. The above feelings remain true, but I am a flip-flopper. Picking it back up again in mid-June: Since I started writing this post, I am once again measuring stuff. I want to lose weight (again) because the metaphorical yoyo has retouched the hand. I’m measuring my calorie intake on MyFitnessPal, and that hooks up passively with Endomondo to measure what I’m burning. But my reservations about QS and “Quantified Fatigue” stand – measuring everything explicitly is too difficult, and I’m concerned about how useful implicit & ubiquitous measurement would be after the fact. There’s no real conclusion here – implicit & ubiquitous doesn’t exist, it remains to see how iOS8 & the S5 will perform in this area, and I’m likely to lose a bunch of weight, get bored and put it all back on again. I just figured it was about time I did some writing here, terrible or otherwise.