Of running, statistics and painting with kittens.

So the end of the first week of the 2014 marathon training. And I must say I’ve enjoyed it. The running mojo has returned.

I did have some concern after the second half of last year where the motivation to get out and train seemed to have all but dwindled. The rest was my half-marathon times somewhat plateaued behind where they had been from the previous year.

I looked at a variety of different training plans but I’ve actually gone back to the one from 2 years ago.  I think it was the ‘intermediate’ level anyway (what that was supposed to mean I’m not actually sure) and it worked fine.The other ones circulated for Edinburgh involved cross trainer exercises which I don’t really enjoy. And to be fair I cross-train anyway with road running, treadmill and cycling, with a bit of rowing thrown in when I have the time. Also, these newer ones only allow for one day off, not two. I like the extra ‘break’ for two reasons; firstly the obvious one is for recovery time, with the extra day immediately after the weekly endurance run. Secondly, all the training plans are written for people working a regular week-day rota and trying to bend this around a shift pattern takes a little bit of poetic license as well as a bleak sense of humour at times when you have to fit in sleep, food and a 16+ mile run into a 12 hour period.

Even this morning, having woken just before half-eight with the brain telling me to forget about the Park Run (it’s a rare opportunity that I can do them due to work) I managed to get there. Well, I say there. I had been heading for the Stockport course, but due to the large number of traffic lights all going against me, I abandoned this and decided to try Marple instead.

The Marple course is a lot flatter than Woodbank. However it was ankle deep in mud for the most part which gave rise to a number of comedy cartoon moments with legs spinning frantically with no traction or forward motion; thankfully it wasn’t me face-planting into the field but it so easily could have been!

I now know what running spikes are for. Ah well! Either way, my time was poor although the effort was great!

I’ve added a couple of links to some online running software which I’ve been playing with recently.

My running friend Reb put me on to Strava which is a neat community-feel running and cycling system where segments of known routes can be compared directly with other users. The output is fine and quite informative. The only downside is that it cannot sync in with Nike+ (at this time) which means I need to use an extraction website to get the data across. It works well, but takes a bit of messing around to get at the data. Of course, Strava itself runs on mobile phones if you use that approach to your running. Garmin works directly if you use one of their watches.

Whilst getting that Nike+ data I found a link to Smashrun which sets itself up as an analytical tool. All your data gets plugged in, in this case Nike+ can be imported directly (as can Garmin) and Smashrun can pull out a whole load of comparable data. Being a stats nerd myself, this is of great interest to me and of all the sites it’s the one I’ve forked out the money for to get the full details. I will do some updates to cover how I get on.

And speaking of stats, I went to the local Pensions Management Institute meeting last week. I have to keep up my CPD to retain the qualification even though I’m not working in the sector any more (one never knows what is around the corner). But it’s always good to catch up with the people I used to work with and see how things are going (and what scandal I’ve missed).

On the way back to the station we were talking about documentation (well you didn’t expect an exciting topic, surely!) and I found myself using the quite bizarre analogy of a document being so badly written that if you dipped a kitten in paint and let it roll around a sheet of paper, the level of material produced would still be clearer.

Of course, I would never dream of doing such a thing!

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