Friday, 9 December 2016


I originally started writing my blog because it gave me an outlet to talk to myself about my running.  I had ambitions to get better and by writing about my experiences, I hoped it would give me additional motivation to get out and run.  It wasn’t really about other people reading it but if people did that was a massive bonus.
My ambition was quite modest, I wanted to be better than average.  My running enthusiasm probably peaked around 2012 and at that time I felt that I was doing ok, I ran a respectable half PB and a reasonable Marathon. Since then I have not always found the motivation to train consistently.  There have been times where I have been frustrated by my lack of form, my lack of fitness and lack of motivation.  This year has been different and frankly that’s very exciting.  Whilst I’ve not gone out and trained as intensively has I have previously done, I have been a little more consistent. My running times are improving but are not quite where they were in 2011/2012.  And this has started raising questions in my mind - am I above or below average? 
Over the last few weeks I’ve started thinking about what being better than average means.   Is it even a valid way to measure how good I am?  There's so many ways to interpret average in the context of running.   
One way is to look at my results in recent events but should I be looking at my finishing position or my times? I quickly concluded that working out an average time for an event involved far too much maths, so I looked at finishing position as a starting point.  If I'm honest it's very flattering.  For example I finished in the top 22% of the field at the Maldon Half.  The following fortnight I finished in the top 37% of the Tiptree 10.  Both are well above mid-field but does that mean better than average? Statistically, I guess it does, but emotionally I'm not sure it's a good enough answer.  In my mind it starts opening up a whole new question of what does a 'runner' look like.  How do you measure or define a 'runner'? Is there some unwritten rule that declares you a runner when you run a sub 3 hour marathon and everyone that can't get there is, well not a runner? A few hours of googling revealed no concrete answers, but I did find a few club standards. So unless you achieve a club standard you are not a runner?  That doesn't feel too fair to normal runners that work hard but perhaps weren't blessed with loads of speed genes. 
Maybe being better than average isn't even measurable, maybe its a feeling. In late October I decided to get up and run the Chelmsford Marathon. It was perhaps a bit reckless but it was massively enjoyable just turning up and then running (mostly) 26.2 miles without any worry about times. My aim was a simple one - just finish.  I did finish and despite not running further than 13 miles for months before I did ok. And I actually felt better than average for just being able to turn up and run.  

Friday, 23 September 2016

The one I wanted to write

It's fair to say that my blog posting record over the last few years, possibly longer has been shockingly bad. More recently I've refocused attention on my original ambition, to be better than a average runner and that has got me thinking about all sorts of stuff.
There's a whole load of psychology going on in my running that I don't yet understand but maybe one day I will and I'll write about it.  But for now I'm just going to write about two of my recent runs. The thing is over the last year I've discovered how brilliant it is running with other people and honestly I love it. Having a commitment with someone else means that you just do it no questions unless cakes are involved. My last two longer runs have been on my own. 
Last Friday I had to help do some route checking for the Saltmarsh75 so I drove out to Tollesbury in Essex to check out the final stage of the run. It took in the RSPBs Old Hall reserve which is a pretty large expanse of freshwater marsh on the coast. The weathers been amazing this summer but not when I chose to run last week, it was properly raining and windy too.  Perfect for being stuck on a marsh miles from anywhere. Despite the driving rain, it was lovely. I set off, the tide was in the marshes were full of birds, I had my head phones in which is quite rare for me these days and I just ran. Nothing more nothing less just ran. On my own in the middle of nowhere, just me, Sigur Ros and a tonne of birds.  Total distance covered 12 miles fellow humans seen 0.  There something great about running in proper weather and then getting in your car soaked through. You know your alive. 
The second run was on Sunday. I'd been faffing about most of the day but wanting to get out and run and a little bit of darkness was not going to stop me.  So I rediscovered head torches. What a brilliant thing they are. My route took me out of my village on to the sea wall and then up what I have affectionately called fucking stansgate road. A two mile drag that never seems to end. Fairly obviously it was dark. Along the sea wall all I could hear was my footsteps, and the waders in the river chirping about. It's such a lovely sounds and I could listen to that for hours.  After reaching Marconi Sailng Club it was time to hit Stansgate.  For some reason I just decided to switch off my head torch. Bloody hell it was dark but I could just make out the Tarmac in front of me against the grassy edges of the road. It was a bit of surreal experience running along not really knowing what I was standing on. My footsteps echoing back down the road and almost sounding like there was someone chasing me. In those circumstances there's only one thing you can do and that's run flat out. Bouncing along with only the feel of the road and the noise of my feet to distract me. Eventually I got to the main road and ran into Steeple and into a car door that someone decided to open as I was passing. How funny I thought and so I clarified how funny it was with the occupant, in the only way a startled runner can... Sorry about that car occupant. 
It was a bit of an out and back route so eventually after my garmin clicked over to 5 miles I spun round and headed back home. It was so much fun running in the dark I did it again back down the hell street of fucking stansgate. Somehow it seemed quicker, maybe because of not being able to see it. It all looks the same in daylight so in pitch black it's not really any different. Apart from a ghostly figure of a startled barn owl jumping off its perch there was nothing to see, nothing at all.  Just hearing my feet and the distant sound of planes coming into on London.  This was the last day of the Paralympics and it got me thinking, that what I'd experienced for a brief 2 mile stint, must be similar to what it must be like running with a visual impairment. Just having to run and trust that there's nothing there waiting to hurt you, like parked cars or curbs. It's probably unlikely, but my thoughts wandered off to think about whether there were any homecoming Paralympians in the planes above waiting to land. I hope there was. 
Before I knew it was faffing about a bit more trying to add enough zig zags in to get over 10 miles. 
So whilst I do love running with people, because you share those moments, there's something quite special about the loneliness and isolation of getting out there on your own and just listening to your surroundings. Running like the wind and just being. 
It's runs like those that remind me why I want to be better than average. 

Untitled bore off update post

It seems that early autumn is when I think about my blog. Though this year it's a little earlier than it has been in previous years. Running wise it's been a funny year.  I got a VLM place in 2015 but unfortunately had to differ until this year.  In the early part of the year I rediscovered my absolute love affair with running.  I just couldn't get enough, and I loved it.  It took a while time to relise that I couldn't knock out faster runs but the distance came back fairly quickly. Then I discovered blisters and later worked out that not all size 7s are actually equal. Some are euro 40.5 some are 41's and in my case, the former seemed to be a tiny bit small and were the source of my blisters.  So there's a anal runners lesson in there, always read the label! Which is tricky when you're buying online!
That was one of dark points.
Training was made much easier by the fact that I was running with other people. People discovering that they could do remarkable things by putting one foot in front of the other.. Pretty cool really. And then there was the Couch to 5k crowd. One of them has made the transition to a regular runner and on Sunday will finish his second half.  I love that.  I love running with others.
Marathon day was a great occasion as it always is. Having done it before it was less intimidating than the first time and I decided that I'd run with Rachel who I'd trained with a lot of the winter and by luck we managed to get in the same start. It's fair to say she didn't have the best day and the injury she'd been struggling with for a few weeks came back and hurt. By about 8 miles in she was in quite a bit of pain, so obviously the only thing I could do was run off after my own time, sorry Rach.  I knew that I wouldn't be in PB territory as I'd missed too many long runs but I was pretty confident I'd get round and so my mission was to enjoy it and high five as many kids as possible. As I trudged along embankment towards Westminster, I realised that I'd be pretty close to my 2008 time and hopefully a bit under. Maths is not my strongest subject and maths after 20 miles is certainly HARD. But as I turned that famous last corner on to the Mall I finally worked that I was very close to being slower.  I've never ran so hard as I did in those last few hundred meters. But I did beat my previous London time by 3 whole seconds. Ha ha
Then came the post London apathy where I couldn't really face pulling on my trainers. But about May I decided that I was not going to waste all the work. I got out with a few friends and did some trails in the local woods, then increased the distance a bit to do a few runs in the half region.
I've managed a new PB on a 5k and I've got a half marathon coming up on Sunday.
So running wise it's not been a bad year really. Looking at my Strava stats I seem to have run nearly 500 miles so far this year. Not too shabby really...  And I think this winters going to be good for running.  

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Another Anniversary Post

It seems that this is one anniversary that I can't forget. My last two or three posts on here have been separated by a year.  Thats a lot of time not thinking about running (for the record I've been thinking about cycling instead see photo).

Perhaps THIS post IS the start of something new;  A new running bug.  There are positive signs, maybe its the green shoots of a running mojo recovery. There's plenty of self doubt as I've been here before.  It's not the first October that I've found my trainers, found the front door then found excuses or actual reasons to avoid getting out there.  To extend my bad analogy a bit more, perhaps its another dip in my triple dip running recession. Only time will tell and, for me at least, that's actually quite exciting.

A very healthy injection of inspiration has come from work.  In normal circumstances work is an unlikely source of athletic enthusiasm but we've started a Couch to 5k programme and its AMAZING.  It's been a privilege to run with total beginners, people that haven't run since school, but that have found the courage to dust off their reeboks* and raise their heart rates.  A few of them think I'm a little bit strange for rocking up and running round the park with them. Its a odd situation really; why, because I can run 5k would I not be interested in running with someone that can't (yet).  I want to explain that its not really about our speed or the distance we've covered, its about the fact that I've shared in their experience and achievement.  I can see the sparkle of pride in their eyes because they've just run for 3 minutes for the first time. They might hurt more than I do, they're more out of breath than I am at that exact moment, but I know that feeling. I have worn the same shoes.  So my mission over the next few weeks is to convince them that it doesn't matter if we've been running days or weeks or years. We are all runners and you've made me remember that this game is actually about Personal Achievement as much as it about Personal Bests.  So THANK YOU Couch to 5k crowd for helping me remember.

* other running shoes are available but are less classic.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Two firsts

Only a quick post this evening. My two firsts are simple.
1. I've finally run for the first time since August.
2. This is my first 'mobile' post.
The run itself was pretty uneventful, I managed to do 5k just inside of 8 minute miles. The legs felt ok but definatly a bit of a hip niggle again so I will need to keep an eye on that.  My route today was decidedly retro. Just a quick loop of Maldon on my previous stock run route but without accountants to keep to me company.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

730 days

It turns out that its exactly 2 years since my last post on my little running blog.  Its fair to say that running has not been anywhere near a high priority for me since I dragged my way around the streets of Milton Keynes.  Lack of goals has contributed to a general lack of determination to get out the door and run.  When I have run, I've found new niggles and sore bits that have given me enough of an excuse to not run again. Total running mileage for 2014 rests at a rather pathetic 98, that says it all really.

However I have a new goal and that is the Virgin London Marathon next April just a few days after my 40th (coughs) birthday. 

I'm still reeling with the shock of actually getting a ballot place and whilst I'm feeling very lucky indeed, I'm also a bit daunted by the prospect of getting running fit again and doing that without breaking myself.  So what better reason to reinvigorate the virtual arse kicker of my running blog.   
It's still less than a week since I received the 'ultimate running news' so at this stage my objectives are quite modest and because of this I'm seeing rapid progress. This is all very motivating. 

Objectives - Progress
1. Find Trainers - Tick
2. Find Shorts and other running stuff - Tick (it took a while) 
3. Find beloved head torch - Tick 
4. Replace batteries of number 3 - Hmm 
5. Buy Running Mags - Tick 
6. Stop writing lists / blog posts - Errr not yet. 
7. Refer to Rule Five* - Not even close
8. GO RUNNING! - It's the thought that counts right? 

Training starts tomorrow - hopefully. 

* yes its a cycling reference but this 'running blog' is very likely drift into other subjects. Besides Rule five or Rule V seems very relevant. For anyone unaware of Rule V it is HARDEN THE FUCK UP. The other rules are also worth reading, especially the one about male cyclists needing to shave their legs.  I really must work out how to do tables too. 

Monday, 15 October 2012

One month off (or five)

Since the Milton Keynes Marathon earlier in the year, running and blogging have been pretty low down on my list of priorities.  I started this blog as a way of motivating me to pull on the trainers and get out the door.  I also had an underlying desire to find out whether I could become a better than average runner.  I think the last few months have helped answer that question, even though I probably knew the answer when I asked it.

I probably could be a better than average runner*, but I'd have to put in more than the average amount of effort and training.  

At the moment and for reasons that will become clear, more than average hasn't been something that's a realistic option for me or my family.

Don't get me wrong there's not much better in the world than finishing a long run and feeling like it's gone really well.  A new PB is great for the soul and can leave you feeling like you can conquer the world for a few weeks and I really really like that feeling! I want to feel it again sometime soon but a new baby has been giving me a much longer lasting and slightly different feeling of euphoria recently.
When I think about it, perhaps the feeling isn't that different to running a Marathon; you feel like shite and your knackered but its bloody great all at the same time.  Whatever the feeling, Reuben (see pic) is the main reason for a distinct slow down on the running front.
Future runner?
For the last few months any running I have managed to do has been focused on going back to basics.  Getting out purely for fun at lunchtime and with a bit of company from whoever wants to tag along.  Since May my weekly mileage totals have almost always been in single figures and I don't mind a bit.  'Fatherly duties' are now firmly Item 1 on the agenda.  Worries about fitness won't be rekindled until such times as running becomes a bigger part of my life again.

Baby Reuben is now 7 weeks old and I sense some normality around the corner.  You never know, routine might be returning to the Hos household in the next few weeks.  So with that prospect my thoughts are starting to return to putting one foot in front of the other and what might be realistic challenges for the next few months.

In the spirit of going back to basics, my Winter aim is to be a happier than average runner.  To get to that point I guess I am going to have to do some kind of running, so these are my running objectives until Christmas (or may be March) : -  

1. A bit of night running (with my trusty head torch)
2. A few Sunday morning long(er) runs in the sun
3. A 10 miler just for fun
4. A short dog run / jog (with my virtual training partner)
5. A bit of muddy running around Danbury

So that's what I'm planning to do and then I'll try and write a little bit about it.  If that happens then I'll be a happy runner.  If it doesn't I'll still be happy but I probably shouldn't call myself a runner at that point.

* Average does depend on how you measure it!