Reading and Recuperation

It’s a well known fact that a good book accelerates the recovery process of any physical injury.  So due to recent knee trouble, in an attempt to get back on the road in quick time, i have been reading a little more than usual.  This unexpected upsurge in word-time has coincided perfectly with our recent acquisition of a “laura ashley-style” armchair.  It’s hard to capture in a photo the extent of the delight it brings, but i have made a poor attempt nonetheless; it’s soft, worn finish, it’s firm yet welcoming cushioning, and the warm, regal pattern all combine in some sort of soft furnishing perfect storm to create just the right place to rest your bottom with a book.  Although, it does perhaps look slightly out of place next to a yet-to-be-unpacked box of belongings and a very unloved guitar.


I am, i’ll admit, somewhat intimidated by the chair.  It just sits there, patiently waiting for something significant to happen on it.  Like the writing of some profound essay, or the smoking of a pipe while reading Proust and sipping port.  At times i don’t feel up to it.  The chair, not Proust.  Obviously i don’t feel up to Proust, that goes without saying.

But i’m going to try anyway.  Again, not Proust.  I’m going to endeavour to give the chair the love and attention it deserves.  Who knows, perhaps it will grow to appreciate my soft midland tones, my predilection for dark chocolate digestives, and my insistence on only wearing slippers while sitting in it.  Either way, while my knee recovers at least, i will attempt to record the ups and downs of what could well be a rollicking marriage of reading minds.  First up in the hot-seat was The Picture of Dorian Gray, by the mellifluous Oscar Wilde.  I think this went down fairly well with the chair (i certainly enjoyed it), but it’s early days, and we only read a portion of the book together.  Next, however, is the poetry of Robert Frost and Edward Thomas, for book club.  I suspect poetry will be more of a litmus test for our relationship and i look forward to seeing how we get on.  Goodbye for now, from both of us…



further knee adventures

Right. i haven’t blogged in ages.  or two weeks.  which is ages for a blog that is about four weeks old.  basically, my knee is a little screwed.  i’m not 100% sure of the exact scientific term but it’s broadly to do with the fact that the knee bone is connected to the pelvic bone via a nerve that runs down to my toe.  The long and short of it is i can’t run for three weeks, which presents a little problem vis a vis the marathon.  I’m trying staying positive and assuming i can still make it until someone (with dr. before their name) tells me otherwise. but it’s a little difficult, not to get down.

i’ve got some weird little exercise to do to help with the recovery, even went and bought a big yellow ball on which to do them.  it currently sits in the sports equipment corner of the house but will soon need to be relocated somewhere less obtrusive.


tonight, i mostly spent the evening having my knee shaved by Claire in preparation for some “taping” by the physio tomorrow.  i’m not sure exactly what he’s going to do to it, other than tape it.  i just nodded.  and shaved.  so that’s my news for now.  hurried, obliged, but posted.  i feel a little better, and a little less guilty already.


Training Day


Last Saturday i attended a training (half) day, put on by Get Kids Going!, the charity i’m raising money for.   The afternoon was hosted by David Butler (or DB for those in the know) at his personal training centre, the London Fitness Centre in Parsons Green.  For free.

He introduced us to interval training; the why as well as the how.  Which was good.  But probably the most useful part was the Q&A session where he patiently provided loads of advice and answered all of our rather silly questions.  Some of the best nuggets for me were:

– do your long run on a Sunday morning because that’s when the marathon take place.  Your body gets into a routine over the 15 weeks and if your long run is on a Saturday it will expecting to be resting on the big day.

– if you train with energy drinks use Lucozade Sport because that’s what they’ll hand out during the marathon (i can’t imagine many other sponsorships where all the attendants will will be using your product for three months beforehand)

– always take  fluid at a water stop

– try and have 5 meals a day, and have protein with each meal

– get a heart rate monitor and train at your marathon pace of about 75% max heart rate for long runs

– once you’ve got a routine you like, don’t change anything.  Same energy bars, same kit, same detergent to wash your kit, same food before a long run.

We then heard from an osteopath, whose name i forget (sorry), but who again provided some really useful advice.  Like the importance of stretching.  Apparently most shin and knee injuries can be prevented by 10-15 mins of stretching each morning and evening.  He got down on the floor and showed us exactly what to do, how long for and everything.  I should have got a picture but i was a little embarrassed at snapping a lot – i need to get used to taking random blogger photos in public.  As it is i only managed to get a few low quality pictures of the day.

This is Jane from Get Kids Going! handing out some forms and generally being re-assuring.


An introduction to interval training.


And an especially blurry image of DB about to impart some running wisdom.


Anyway, thanks to DB, Jane and the unnamed osteopath (sorry) for their time and advice.  It was most useful.



After randomly deciding, for reasons only known to my subconscious, to run for ten miles on Saturday it now transpires that i may have injured my knee.  Idiot!  I haven’t run since so don’t know for sure but it’s been feeling a little odd ever since.  i’m going for a (gentle) run tomorrow to see.  Watch this space.


run the marathon, obviously.

do so having raised £2k for the kids.

write post-run posts the same day rather than the day after.

that’ll do for now.

UPDATE: don’t be a moron and run distances well beyond my capabilities.  take it slow.

don’t run at dusk. on an empty stomach.


Photo via Tomi Tapio on Flickr

ok, so i went all out yesterday to see if i could run ten miles.  The reason i’ve done this is to see if i can stick to this training routine, which sounds great.  It consists of three runs a week (one speed, one tempo and one slow paced, long distance run) in addition to a couple of cross-training sessions each week too.  For someone like me, who doesn’t run a great deal and gets bored quite easily, this is really appealing as you never do the same workout twice in a week and you get to mix in a gym, swim or cycle session.

So i went for 1o miles and just about made it by going really slowly.  I felt fine running home, wasn’t too out of breath although my body was starting to ache.  However, as i came in from the cold to a warm flat i suddenly felt really weird; my eyes were all blood shot, my arms and face was still really cold despite running for nearly and hour and a half, and i just didn’t really feel right.  Mrs MJ was rather concerned and immediately procured a cup of tea and hot bath.  Now, aside from running further than i have run in a number of years i think there are a couple of reasons for this post-run oddness.

As usual i put off the run during the day because i couldn’t really be arsed.  i’d had a good lunch with plenty of carbs and protein but didn’t leave for my run until about two hours later, and as i left i was starting to feel a little peckish again.  So the first mistake, as pointed out by Katy and Danny at dinner last night was going for a run without enough fuel to get me round AND keep my body warm.  The second mistake, which was exacerbated by the first, was running at dusk.  The first third of the run was crisp and fresh.  Primrose hill wasn’t too busy, the sun was all bloodshot as it set and the edge of the park was fairly deserted.  So it was all poignant and lovely.  However, after about 45 minutes of this poignant loveliness the sun disappeared, and it very quickly got dark and fucking baltic.  So i was hit with a lack of fuel and lack of sun one-two combo which basically sent me a bit doo-lally.

Today’s (or yesterday’s) lesson then, is firstly to run earlier in the day when going for my weekend long run (logically midday seems best) and secondly to make sure i’ve eaten at least an hour and a half before running.  i will cross reference this last lesson with the running bible, as it seems rather important.

music or not music?

Just completed my third run in five days.  which is good, i think.  Nothing longer than five miles but so far so good.  I’m running.  Now, as a rule, i don’t really like running to music.  I feel it gets in the way, either of good conversation (for there are few topics out of bounds when two men are running) or of the opportunity to let your mind wander.  A good solo run, neither too taxing nor too comfortable, is a precious opportunity for the rumination of topics usually suffocated by the pressures of daily life.  Like where to find a good reading chair.

However, if i were to listen to some sort of aural stimulus while running, it would ideally be something like this episode of the today programme, guest edited by Zadie Smith.  It’s like a selection box of interestingness, including Jonathan Franzen, Alain do Botton AND the School of Life, and obviously Zadie herself.  Shazam!  It’s also got a cracking wee tribute to David Foster Wallace by Franzen and George Saunders (who i’d never heard of but sounds like the mack daddy of short stories).  I’ve been meaning to read his book Infinite Jest for some time, especially since being in the States earlier this year just after his death where every bookshop i went in to had a mini book-shrine going on at the front of the store.

Annnyyyy-hoo.  Run number three in the bag, music bad quiet pondering of life’s problems good.  Radio 4 rocks.  I’m off to get a post-run thai-tea at the local.