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Monthly Archives: December 2016


A year is a long time in running

Well, well, well… It’s been a looooong year, but here we are, at the very end of it. I thought I would reflect on some of my running goals, the peaks and troughs, and what running resolutions I might set for 2017.

So how did it go? All in all, I don’t think it was a bad year. There wasn’t a lot of progress in pacing, per se, but I was a lot steadier and more consistent in getting out for runs, and I had some really good months (unsurprisingly during the summer).

Volume Highlight Lowlight
January 32.4 km over 4:51 across 6 runs It’s hard to remember this far back… The usual New Year weather blues!
February 94km over 8:31 across 16 runs Picking up training volume again, including a 54:23 10k The number of runs that are just shy of 5k
March 90.4km over 8:13 across 14 runs First 10k+ run (13.7km in 1:13) That my average pace starts a slow decline here
April 94.2km over 9:06 across 15 runs Steady as she goes… Noticeable pace decrease, including two 10ks (57 and 59)
May 131.8km over 12:05 across 13 runs Two half-marathons (first ever at 1:57, second at 1:58) That I was too cheap to pay for the Runner’s World app training…
June 91km over 8:16 across 12 runs I at least managed an 8-miler I couldn’t face a long long-run this month, having done halves in May
July 112.82km over 10:06 across 17 runs A good increase in the number of runs Quantity =/= distance
August 136.4km over 12:25 across 22 runs Still on the up, including some 10-milers and some 8-milers Average pace is down, though…
September 113.1km over 10:47 across 19 runs Holding fairly steady and enjoying the sunshine Only one 8-miler
October 60km over 5:32 across 12 runs Despite travel and moving house, I’m still managing a few runs a week Most runs now pretty short
November 70.75km over 6:29 across 15 runs Got in a 10k and a 5-miler Pace is still trending down
December 76.18km over 7:05 across 14 runs Starting to pull back up again, distance-wise  Still a bit slower

I have found myself slightly frustrated with Strava after discovering that it didn’t have the delightful Excel download feature of RunKeeper, so pulling together my stats was a bit of a hassle. I’m going to have to think about whether I try Nike+ Run Club (which I think lets you download stats), or the paid-for version of Strava.


  • The two half-marathons I did, just by myself.

I’m happy that my first one ever was supposed to be a 10-miler that I just pushed on with, and it came in sub-2:00. But the fact that I only managed two and then my half-marathon-a-month plan fell apart is indicative of a fairly basic fact: I’m not that interested in longer distances.

  • Running is more part of my everyday routine than in 2015.

There was almost no week when I didn’t run at all. I had some niggles, like shoulder cramps (yep, a weird one) or tight ankles, but still trundled on when and how I could.


  • That the half-marathon-a-month plan fell by the wayside so easily.

I’m partly baffled by quite why this happened, and partly glad that it helped clarify quite what I’m running for.

  • That I still haven’t figured out how best to get speed workouts into my routine.

I do these workouts intermittently, when I’m feeling guilty or in a clear rut. If I want to “progress”, which I guess means getting faster,  then I need to take these more seriously, as well as strength training, etc.

  • That my pacing seems to have decreased.

If this is a function of running longer, then it’s disappointing that I haven’t picked up a great deal across the year, which may reinforce the point above about speed workouts.


A week is a long time in running… (18/12/16)

If I thought last week didn’t go to plan, then I just seriously wasn’t paying attention to my schedule when I made this week’s plan. Not only did I include 8 days (?!), I completely forgot a number of doctor/dentist appointments and PhD writing deadlines that were going to get in the way. It was just all wrong.

This is what I managed, anyway

Date Planned Distance Actual Distance Time Pace
12 December (Strength training)
13 December 10.0km  –  –
14 December 4.0km (run to the bakery!)  –  –
15 December 3.2km (hill intervals)  3.2km + long yoga  19:46  6:03/km (5:57/km GAP)
16 December (Long yoga)  8.0km  44:00  5:27/km (5:28/km GAP)
17 December (Strength training)  ✔  –  –
18 December 5.0km (ParkRun?) 5.9km 32:50  5:30/km (5:47/km GAP)
Total 22.2km  17.1km

Based on actually looking at my calendar for next week, this is how I want next week to go:

Date Distance
19 December 4.0km (run to the bakery!)
20 December (Strength training)
21 December 8.0km
22 December (Travelling: try to stretch and not get a DVT!)
23 December 5.0km
24December 5.0km
25 December (Strength training)
Total 22km

The Marlowe Papers (Barber) – book review

In amongst all of the PhD redrafting and the #NaNoWriMo project that now feels like it was months ago (although I need to get back to it soon…), I have tried to find time to read. In particular, I was really excited to read Ros Barber‘s The Marlowe Papers, a novel in verse that is, in part, about the Shakespeare authorship question.


A week is a long time in running… (11/12/16)

Sooo… This week did not go entirely to plan.

We did, indeed, run to the bakery, but I forgot that I hated intervals so much that it would prevent me doing the imagined mile-long jog afterwards. And then the rain gods were angered, and the ParkRun was a wash out, as was the morning I’d set aside to do the 10k. We managed to cobble together a nice Sunday run, though, gallivanting up Twin Peaks and over to the Presidio, so it could have been a lot worse. Plus we stocked up on winter running gear for when we’re back home in a few weeks.

Date Planned Distance Actual Distance Time Pace
5 December 3.2km (hill intervals) 2.0km (hill intervals) 11:02 5:25/km (5:01/km GAP)
7 December 4.0km (run to the bakery!) 4.2km (run to the bakery!) 23:53 5:37/km (5:42/km GAP)
9 December 10.0km  5.1km 27:44  5:22/km (5:26/km GAP)
11 December 5.0km (Parkrun)  –  –
12 December  8.3km 48:36  5:51/km (5:52/km GAP)
Total 22.2km 19.6km

I’ve been trying to do some daily yoga, as I started having back trouble again (supporting respiratory muscles go into spasm… it’s a shoulder blade problem). I’ve also had an early Christmas gift of some free weights, so now I can also do some more strength training, too, which is a win!

This is how I want next week to go:

Date Distance
12 December (Strength training)
13 December 10.0km
14 December 4.0km (run to the bakery!)
15 December 3.2km (hill intervals)
16 December  (Long yoga)
17 December (Strength training)
18 December 5.0km (ParkRun?)
19 December (Long yoga)
Total 22.2km

A week is a long time in running… (4/12/16)

This week was all couples’ running, and I should admit up-front that two of the runs were to a bakery. As things have gotten busier with projects I’m working on (such as my now-complete academic/NaNoWriMo project), I didn’t quite have time for the four runs that I’d planned, and we weren’t drawn to the planned ParkRun on Saturday, as I’m doing lots of driving practice ahead of having to sit a test in the US, and Saturday mornings are quite a good time to play about doing manoeuvres, etc., without annoying people who are actually just trying to go along their way!

Still, I’m fairly committed to doing at least 16km a week, so we did manage to get out this morning for a longer run.

This is how the week went:

Date Planned Distance Actual Distance Time Pace
29 November 4.0km  4.2km 24:33 5:46/km (5:57/km GAP)
30 November 4.0km 4.0km  23:45 5:50/km (5:49/km GAP)
1 December 8.0km  –  –
3 December 5.0km  –  –
4 December  8.0km  47:10  5:51/km (5:48/km GAP)
Total 21km 16.2km

This is how I want next week to go:

Date Distance Time Pace
5 December 3.2km (hills intervals)
7 December 4.0km (run to the bakery!)
9 December 10.0km
11 December 5.0km (we are going to try this ParkRun!)
Total 22.2km

#AcWriMo/#NaNoWriMo: challenge complete

So with the conclusion of November comes reflection, as well as the pleasure of saying that the full piece is now up online: “The Faun of Rome: A Romance”, by Oscar Wilde edited by Nate Maturin.

This November has been one of the most productive #AcWriMo/#NaNoWriMo’s I’ve had, I think in part because it was a combination of the two. Having those two styles of work to complete, when I got tired of plotting or figuring out what people were going to say, I could turn to finding references and connections. I always work best when I have multiple projects on the go, so this was a good combination for me.

The last few days were a little bit of a rush because, after finishing the novel itself, there were all of that paratextual elements to put together, and then of course all of the mark-up for putting each page on Scalar. I didn’t regret reverting back to Scalar 1 for a second. In fact, I’m really glad that I did. Still, though, publishing each page was a laborious process, and if I were to do a similar project again for web, I would probably write in a different application, rather than Scrivener, which is better suited to producing PDFs or the research stages of a project.

One of the things that I didn’t get time to do during November itself was produce a map of Rome, and Tuscany, based on the trips, meeting places, and homes that are mentioned in the novel. I think it would be an interesting visualisation, particularly within the city itself, to show where characters are pushed together and where they are able to find free space for themselves. I’m looking forward to doing this when I get a chance, as I’d like to keep improving the piece.

Finally, although I had some good fun producing matching Voyant visualisations for the two corpuses, they actually threw up some points that I would address if I were to redraft the novel. There wasn’t enough clear water between the two text’s use of proper names, for example. Any updating or editing will probably include addressing some of these points.

This experience threw up for me the question of how conscious authors are of the interpretive mechanisms that are going to be brought to bear on their works. When writing this piece, I had half an eye to the question, “What would an educated reader be excited by here?” Some of the answers were, “Echoes of later works”, and “Stylistic tics”, and I am curious about how much that sort of thinking affects writers more broadly. Although of course a writer is always thinking of the reader and how they might respond to the words on the page, never before when I’ve been writing have I been so conscious at a micro level of how each decision, semi-colon or period, alliteration, chiasmus, etc., etc., might be interpreted.

I’m going to give myself a few weeks now, and then I plan to re-read everything with only my academic head on!