The Joys of Winter

Day 199 – Wednesday 17th July 2013.

I awoke this morning to the sound of wind and rain on the roof, the storm from yesterday still hadn’t passed the big question is will it be bad enough for me to decide not to run? I got out of bed a little later, 5:45am, and headed through the darkness to the back room to peer out into the early morning to get an idea of weather conditions. The sight I saw was heavy rain, and the trees being battered with high speed winds…not a hard decision to make at all, the run was not going to happen.


Probably at the point many people would tell me to just “harden up” and “get out there and do your run even in the Winter conditions”. If it was just raining lightly or looked like it would clear then I would have no problem with doing this, however, I do draw the line at running in the midst of a storm for a number of reasons including, the possibility of sickness which would have a greater effect on my training routine, the danger of falling branches from trees and the chance of slipping over and injuring myself.

I do I find it frustrating when these mornings occur that effect my training regime, it is probably the one thing about Winter that I really am not a fan of. I love the sound of the rain on a tin roof and even the powerful wind blowing through trees, the ability to get warm in winter clothes and the smell of an open log fire would be some of my favourites. It’s the only time that I really miss my gym membership, being able to complete a cross-training sessions inside. Possibly I could have completed some exercises using my body weight at home but I injured my right hand a few weeks ago and I know it won’t be able to take my weight at this point in time.

Day 199

One of my plans is to set up an area in my back shed with a bench so I can get back into doing some weights. My mate Mike Haydon gave me some free weights a few years ago but I just don’t have the area set up to use these at the moment and with the amount of work to get done around the back yard this probably won’t be a reality until early next year. I guess for now all I can hope is this storm has passed by tomorrow morning so I can get back into a run.

The one positive I can take out of all this is that I still have gotten up and can use this time productively to get some more work done.

The Enjoyment of Early Mornings

Day 193 – Thursday 11th July 2013

I know that to many people this will seem a strange statement, especially coming from a musician who, due to the very nature of his work, can be out quite late at night but I am really beginning to enjoy my early morning starts. Don’t get me wrong, there are many mornings that I wake to my alarm at 5:15am and don’t feel like getting up, in fact this morning was one of these due to Zoe, my 4 month old daughter, deciding to wake us up at 4:30am this morning with her singing in her bassinet. What I am beginning to love is all the benefits that go with waking early and committing to a daily run.

This morning I did get up a little later than usual with the clock just turning over to 6:00am. It was still dark and cold as I got ready and headed off for my 4.5km run from home, around Lake Monger and back again. As I mentioned previously my energy levels were feeling a little low due to being disturbed by my daughter serenading my wife and I at a ghastly hour, I suppose some would say we should get used to that though! The resultant in a lack of energy made the run a struggle and I found it difficult to get any momentum and rhythm throughout the entire run, I did manage to work up a sweat so there were at least some positives to take out of the experience.

Day 193_1As I was running this morning I really managed to have the opportunity to take in the beautiful surrounds of the Lake as it awoke to another day. The sun was not up by the time I had finished but in the last 1.5km as I was looking East across the waters you could see a wonderful display of colours beginning to form and take shape in the sky behind the city scape and in the waters of the lake. I really am very blessed to live in such a beautiful city and near an incredible lake where I can exercise regularly.

Day 193I have also been enjoying the extra time in day of my holidays from rising early. I made a decision at the beginning of the week that I wanted to keep my regular routine from the school term with regards to rising. The reason behind this was to try and help me keep in routine making it easier to go back to school without any significant effect on my exercise regime. I have found that I can have a shower, breakfast and get a couple of hours work done before the rest of the house stirs. This has been of huge benefit in getting a number of jobs done for my wedding music business, teaching admin work and general blog writing like this one. It has enabled me to have more time free later int he day for the important things in life including spending time with my family.

One of the great benefit to the early starts was seen yesterday morning, It was raining, I don’t run in the rain, so I got up and into organising all the details needed to complete my tax return. By the end of the day everything tax wise is ready to go to the accountant early next week. As well as completing this I managed to go out with my wife to the shops and hangout over a coffee down by Scarborough Beach for a few hours. That’s what I call being able to enjoy the important things in life.

Tomorrow will be an interesting run as I have a gig tonight down in Fremantle. I am hoping that the night isn’t too late but will probably be around 1:00am before I get to bed. Hopefully it’s not too hard to get up after only a few hours sleep,  suppose I’ll know by this time tomorrow!

Now where’s my cup of coffee!

Cold Beginnings

Day 191 – Tuesday 9th July 2013.

I always find it challenging to run regularly in the middle of Winter, something about getting up well before the sun at 5:15am every morning, out of my warm bed, into my running gear and braving the cold conditions regularly under 5 degrees is just not that appealing to me for some reason. I have, however, managed to regularly commit to subjecting myself to this torture four times a week regularly over the last month and a half to two months.

Unlike at the beginning of the year I have not been blogging regularly on my regular runs, this is not due to a lack of wanting to or a lack of completing exercise but rather just a lack of time to sit down and do it. A lot has changed since 2013 began; I am now a Father with my beautiful wife giving birth to a beautiful little girl, I am in a new job working longer hours, a new house and a bigger mortgage to just name a few of these things. Life is just feeling a lot fuller which has made my time limited to regularly blog, I am hoping to be able to start to do this more and also get back into doing it for my gigs and start on teaching resources as well. All that aside though, I’d better get back to my run this morning and progress over the past few months.

At 5:25am my second alarm for the morning went off, I semi-woke up to it before being nudged by my beautiful wife to hurry up and turn it off so that I didn’t wake Zoe up. She had only gotten back to sleep recently after a 4:30am feed and I didn’t want to be the one responsible for waking her up again! I have gotten into the habit of setting two alarms, one at 5:15am and the second at 5:25am this is because a number of times I began sleeping through my alarm due to having the volume on really low to not wake up Zoe.

Day 191I considered rolling over and going back to sleep but knew that in order to continue ti grow I’d need to face the cold so I got up and proceeded to get ready for my run. Like all my runs of the last two months I was to complete a 4.5km course my aim is to do this under 20 minutes, I have only managed to achieve this once so far with most of my runs falling between the 22 and 23 minutes mark depending on the morning and how tired I am feeling. By 5:35am I had made my way out to the car, as usual it was dark and cold with the sun not due up until after 7:00am and the temperature sitting somewhere between 4.7 and 5.1 degrees centigrade.

I arrived at the car park a little away from Lake Monger for my 4.5km run by 5:40am. I retightened my shoelaces to try and prevent them from coming undone on the run and then began the run into the cold. I find the first  one and a half kilometres I feel quite cold, the chill goes straight through my jumper and other layers and penetrates deep to my bones, it didn’t help with my shoelace coming undone 500m into the run meaning  had to stop and do it up before continuing.

One element of the cold mornings I do continue to find quite refreshing, the cold air into my lungs and the feeling of freshness in the air around me. I have stopped listening to music when I run instead listening to the sound of my breathing and it’s rate in relation to the number of footsteps I take. Interestingly this seems to have helped take my mind off the cold and find a more consistent rhythm to my running. By the end of the first kilometre I had found my rhythm in running and was starting to warm up. I felt I was making reasonable time but knew it wasn’t going to be fast enough to break the elusive 20 minute mark.

Having found my natural rhythm for the morning I began the process of thinking of the challenges I foresee my family facing in the future especially with regards to financial decisions and finding the right balance between spending / providing everything that is needed now with saving for the future and ways I can try and increase our income stream. Whilst I still don’t have all answers on this front I am confident that we are on the right track, it’s more a matter of continuing to examine / re-examine possibilities and not hold onto anything as sacred. By the 2km mark I had noticed that my speed had slowed down, largely due to the lack of concentration on my running, I began to correct this and pick up my overall pace which was re-established by the 2.5km mark.

By the time I had returned to my car in the car park 23 minutes had passed. This is not the greatest time that I had run, there’s a lot of room for improvement. I am hoping over these holidays that I can try and stretch myself with some longer runs as well. A few things that I do know, whilst my blogging isn’t happening regularly, the early morning starts are here to stay for the foreseeable future, hopefully I can bring this time down a little more and build on developing a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

An Early Start to the Day

Day 64 – Tuesday 4th March 2013.

The last month has been nothing short of a disappointing effort in my overall training regime. After having started the month brilliantly with not missing a day during the month of January I did not train at all throughout all of February, not one run! There are many reasons behind this occurring, the most significant being a long list of injuries. Over the last month I have had a swollen ankle for over a week and a half from someone stomping on me in a social soccer game as well as hip and glute problems. The last few days is the best I have felt physically since January.

All of this aside, I knew it was important for me to now get back into some sort of routine this week. Our baby is due in the next week and if I don’t get on top of training now, as a friend pointed out to me, things are just going to be more difficult later on!

Day 64This morning I decided to ease back into it with a 4.5km run, I was not out to break any records but rather just get it done. I awoke this morning at 5:29 am, my alarm was set for 5:30 so this was great as I didn’t disturb my wife who was still asleep in bed next to me. The morning air felt really fresh and I was looking forward to hitting the pavement.

By 5:45 am I was beginning my run around Lake Monger, the sun had only just risen by this stage. I love the feeling of an early morning run as the sun is just coming up or even starting when it is dark and witnessing that moment of transition from night to day. There is just something about witnessing the entire world wake up to a brand new day, an opportunity for redemption and to start a fresh on many new adventures.

The run itself was quite enjoyable, I didn’t really time myself today although I would say it would have been approximately 25 minutes to complete the circuit. This isn’t the best time int he world but I am happy with how my body felt and I know that if I can continue to get up and get on with my running that this time can very quickly come down.

This year I think one of my goals should be to run in a few races, not to compete but rather to measure my development and hopefully hold me accountable. The first I am thinking of is the HBF run for a Reason. It’s not too long only being 14km so it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge for me.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself but I am hoping that this month will be a much more successful one for exercise and committing to my regime. I suppose all I can do is make sure I get up int he mornings when my alarm goes off and give it my best…let’s see how that goes once the baby arrives!

Reflection is a Powerful Tool

Day 31 – Thursday 31st January 2013.

Today marks the end of the first month of my new training regime. As I write this I am reminded that in order to grow and develop one needs to not only look forward at what is to come but also backwards as to what has previously occurred, assess the results of this and decide how things can be improved to encourage a better tomorrow. I feel that as I write today’s post that I could possibly try and cover some of these aspects.

I have been happy with the progress I have made so far throughout this month, whilst there have been some hurdles including a move which took away a good two weeks of training, I have seen growth and development in my abilities. It is still a struggle to get out of bed and do my runs but I believe already I am seeing the benefits with me feeling fitter and definitely looking like I have lost some of the weight already from around my middle. As my desire for doing this training is to maintain a healthier lifestyle I think that I am hitting this target.

Going forward into the next month I would love to get to the end of February having run on every weekday of the month. This is a challenge that is not impossible but will stretch me, especially with full time work now having kicked in.

Day 31Today’s run began just after 6:00am, it was another planned short run of 4.5km. I started the run feeling quite well although I couldn’t get into a fast rhythm. It was a fairly uneventful run, my focus was on trying to complete the lap in under 20 minutes. I felt whilst this would be a challenging target that it would be possible to achieve if I worked hard throughout the entire run.

By the one kilometre mark I had been running for just over five minutes, I knew that this would be off the pace from what I needed to be setting of 4 minute and 40 seconds per kilometre. I tried to pick up the pace but found it challenging to increase my speed, I did manage this however with my next kilometre coming up in 10 minutes. I then experienced the usual problem, my shoelaces came undone, this time both feet!

Picking the pace back up after the shoelace tying was a challenge, but manageable. Unfortunately by this stage I knew that I wouldn’t be breaking my previous best time and going under the 20 minute mark for the 4.5km. My attention now turned to completing it under 25 minutes, this would still be a reasonable effort on my behalf.

By the time I completed the lap and returned to the car my clock clicked over to 22 minutes and 14 seconds which meant the average kilometre was run in 4 minutes and 54 seconds.

If I can get up early enough tomorrow I might try and extend myself with three laps…it all depends on what time I get up in the morning!

Easing Back to Full Routine

Day 30 – Wednesday 30th January 2013.

Today’s run was another step closer to resuming the full workload that I will be carrying throughout this coming year as a result of the return to school. The remainder of this week I will be at school participating in PD for the teaching staff, and whilst it isn’t the same level of intensity as one on one lessons or running an ensemble it is a considerable step up in terms of strain compared to being on holidays. Part of this preparation meant going to bed at an earlier time than I have been with me being in bed just after 11:00pm.

I woke before my alarm at 5:50am, with my alarm set for 6:00am I spent 10 minutes dozing in bed before getting up to go for the 8km run. I had prepared my cloths for the run the night before but had neglected to get out a couple of items which meant I made a lot of noise whilst getting ready which made me feel sorry for my poor wife. By 6:20am I was in the car and headed to the parking spot to start my run.

Day 30I started my run just after 6:25am, I had hoped to better the previous time I had set for the 8km distance of sub 40 minutes. Today was not the day that I would beat this mark. I felt good at the start of the run, just a little slow and tired with my body still waking up from my slumber. I was surprised at the number of people already out running at this time. This sight is something that I will need to get used to, in the coming days I shall start winding the start time back to earlier as I need to be finished my run by 6:30am once the students return to school next Monday. I am keen to leave enough time to get home and eat a good breakfast before heading into school for 7:15am rehearsals which I will be running most mornings of the week before school.

After my first kilometre I was sitting on a split of 5 minutes and 10 seconds per kilometre. I tried a number of times to increase the intensity of this but my legs just felt like lead and wouldn’t move at a faster rate. I have been really conscious of my running style so far this year and worked on not over extending my stride. After listening to some long distance runners I decided to make the effort to take smaller steps more frequently as this reduces the impact on legs and, as a result in incidence of shin splints and other injuries.

As I came up to the end of my first lap I was feeling a pain in my right shoulder. I think that I was feeling quite tired and it was more of a referred pain from holding my body in a position of stress. I corrected this by trying to relax my upper body as I entered the second lap.

The second lap continued along the same line as the first, I continued to try and increase the pace I was running but kept coming up against a barrier. I had contemplated doing three laps today but during the second lap new that firstly my legs wouldn’t cope and secondly that I would run out of time. Still I tried to push myself and coming up to the last 2km I realised that a sub 40 minute time was not going to happen, my hope turned to running the distance in under 45 minutes, this would still be a respectable time for distance even though it wouldn’t be a PB.

I entered the last km just after the 37 minute mark, I figured the time of 42 minutes would be a good effort. I headed over the footbridge and across to the car park where the time was stopped at 41 minutes and 16 seconds. This being an average time of 5 minutes and 10 seconds per kilometre.

Tomorrow will be a shorter run, only the one lap making a total of 4.5km from the car park. Hopefully I can push myself and better my previous times.

A Shorter Distance

Day 29 – Tuesday 29th January 2013.

Today I continued with my planned regime of alternating between a longer distance run and a shorter distance by completing a 4.5km run from the car park, around Lake Monger and back to the car park. I wanted to try and do this distance in a reasonable time but also was aware that the purpose of alternating distances is to provide some respite for my legs and ensure that I don’t burn out from over doing things.

I began my run just after 8:00am, my legs felt good from the beginning of the run as I picked up the pace to the regular tempo that I wanted to hold throughout the exercise. By the 1 km mark I was making good pace completing it in just over 5 minutes, I felt that if I can hold that sort of pace then it would be a successful outing. My legs began to feel a little heavy as I approached the 2 km mark, the fatigue from the day before had started to set in but I did manage to fight off this fatigue and kept up my pace.

Day 29

Then at 2.5km my shoelaces came undone! I had forgotten this morning to tighten them an paid the price. This always tends to upset my rhythm, I stopped to tie it quickly, and tightly, and got back into the run within 30 seconds. Knowing the effect shoelace tying normally has on me I intentionally picked up the tempo for the next kilometre to counter any loss of rhythm.

As I entered the last kilometre of the run I knew that it wouldn’t be under 20 minutes for it, my hope now was to get under the 25 minute mark. This would still be an acceptable time for 4.5km although it would mean that I had missed the sub 5 minute average. I picked up my pace to stretch for the best time possible and managed to reach the car by 22 minutes and 22 seconds.

This time, whilst not a PB for the distance translates to running each kilometre at an average of 4 minutes and 58 seconds. I had managed to maintain a sub 5 minute per kilometre speed for the entire run.

Tomorrow I might decide to extend myself with an 11.5km run. This will largely depend on the time I manage to start as tomorrow also marks the first day back at school.

The Last of the Late Starts

Day 28 – Monday 28th January 2013.

Today’s run probably marks the last of my late starts for the foreseeable future. The start of the school year means that I will be returning to early starts come Wednesday morning when I have to turn up for the first of the teacher Personal Development days, which means a return to 6:00am starts.

I enjoyed my last late start with an 8km run from where I parked my car, two laps around Lake Monger and back to my car starting at just before 9:00am. The cooler days in Perth has meant it is possible to run later and not have to worry about being too affected by the blistering heat we had prior to the New Year.

The beginning of run went remarkably well, I began at a good pace and felt fresh largely due to the two days rest I have had over the weekend. By the end of the first kilometre I was setting a pace of around 5 minutes and 30 seconds, and felt strong throughout my body. Throughout the first lap I managed to sustain this sort of pace to the point that coming up to the end of my first lap I had run 4km in just over 21 minutes, this meant I was running at a pace around 5 minutes and 15 seconds per kilometre.

Day 28

Along the back straight at Lake Monger you can see for approximately 500 metres in front of you and I could see in the distance a runner who I decided I wanted to catch and pass. I began on this task and slowly managed to pull him closer to me. In another 1 kilometre I managed to over take him and continued to pull away, I had increased my pace to be sitting around the 5 minutes flat per kilometre by my estimates.

As I entered the last kilometre of the run I could see that it would be possible to get under the 40 minute mark if I pushed myself. I tried to increase my pace further but found that my legs were now tiring so I managed to hold the consistency of my pace as I headed back over the footbridge and back to the car. With legs burning I continued across the park to the car park and stopped my watch at 38 minutes and 59 seconds, a new Personal Best time!

The second lap of 4 kilometres I had managed to run in approximately 18 minutes, this being equal to an average time of 4 minutes and 30 seconds per kilometre! It is not surprising that I was feeling tired come the end of the run.

Tomorrow I will need to start at an earlier time and I think it will probably be a lighter running day of one lap around Lake Monger. I think it might be time to consider building up to a 3 lap course (11.5km) later in the week. Fingers crossed everything keeps going well.

Taking Some Wise Advice

Day 25 – Friday 25ht January 2013.

One of the lessons in life I learnt a long time ago is to always listen to the advice people more experienced than you in a field of life. I am not saying that you necessarily have to always do exactly what they say, rather that in listening you can then make an informed decision on what is the right decision and line of action for one self to then take. This morning’s run was definitely one of these moments.

Yesterday I felt great after my run, there was no fatigue or heaviness in my legs and I thought to myself that today I would be able to go out there ad repeat the exact same things, maybe even push it a little harder. Then last night I was playing my social game of soccer and afterwards I talking to a good friend of mine who is right into long distance running and he said in passing that maybe I should look at alternating between harder days and easier days to try and build up the endurance in my legs. I thought about it but didn’t think that I’d need to worry about it overly because I was feeling really good.

Last night at about 9:00pm I was overcome by a wave of fatigue, it was like my whole body all of a sudden crashed. Whilst I didn’t want to go bed early as there’s still a lot to get done my wife managed to get me to listen to her and have a good night sleep.

I got up this morning and found that my legs felt really heavy and tired, the fatigue from the run yesterday had set in. I was still keen to do a run though and it made me think back to what my mate had told me to maybe alternate days. I decided that today would be a shorter run, only 4km in length rather than the 7.5km of yesterday.

I arrived at the car park approximately 250m away from Lake Monger just before 9:0am and began my run. I felt tired, lethargic and heavy throughout all my legs, it was going to be a slow single lap of the lake today. Within 200m I had a middle age woman pass me in running, it was a humbling experience but I kept my concentration on loosening up my legs and getting some movement back into them rather than trying to catch her.

Day 25

By the 500m mark my legs were starting to feel a bit better so I slowly started increasing my pace, by the 1km mark I could see the lady who had passed me. My mission became simple, to pass her before the lap finished. I continued to increase my pace and incredibly by the next marker (1.5km into the run) I caught her and passed her. My focus now turned to the other runners and walkers around me and setting myself goals and targets to try and motivate me to keep pushing this lap. Then my shoelace can undone!

It might seem like an insignificant thing but yet again as I stopped to tie my shoelace I found I lost all of my rhythm and momentum. It was difficult getting started up again, I found my legs felt heavier than before and I was coming up to the 2.5km marker by this stage. I tried pushing myself and managed to raise the intensity a little, it was important to me to try and finish well. I headed around the corner and up onto the footbridge, this part really hurt with my legs burning and feeling like lead weights but still I managed to keep pushing through.

I arrived back at my car as the clock ticked over to 9:22am. I managed to complete the 4km run in 22min which is not a bad effort with that being an average of doing each kilometre in 5 min and 30 seconds.

If I am keeping to a training regime tomorrow should be a slightly longer run. Now it’s time to get myself rehydrated and full of food to replace the energy I have lost over the course of the run.

Back to the Grind

Day 24 – Thursday 24th January 2013.

Today is the first day I have managed to get back into my running program for almost two weeks. Whilst I have had every intention of training throughout the move it unfortunately proved too much for me physically with fatigue being the largest factor from being able to do my runs / training sessions.

I woke up today feeling tired and not wanting to exercise but knowing that it isn’t going to get any easier when school goes back next week I managed to get myself organised and motivated enough to go for my run. Today was going to be a 7.5km run which would be Lake Monger (7km) plus an additional 500m with where I parked.

I set myself no real goals from a time point of view, it was more the matter of doing it, but when I got into the car I realised that I had forgotten my iPod which meant that I would be running to no music. I wasn’t sure whether this would prove to be a good thing or a bad thing…only time would tell.

I arrived at the footbridge car park that I would be starting from today at 8:45am and began on my two lap trip around the lake. Although I found myself feeling tight to begin with I found that very quickly I loosened up and was feeling good. I seemed to be setting a good time and pace with my rhythm, I had no way to judge this without my music or a watch but it seemed that I was only being influenced by my rhythm and not the tempo of the songs I listen to.

Day 24Very quickly I found myself half way through the first lap, feeling good and certain that my time was going to be a good one. On a couple of occasions I could feel my pace drop off as my mind wandered through the things I have to get done today and tomorrow (the last few days of holidays), financial concerns and worries, ways I could bolster my number of private students, goals for this year (especially if I wanted to start training towards a long distance race which one of my best mates would be keen for me to do with them), what I was going to do from a Catholic Liturgical music perspective this year and what posts could I write / need to write for both and to help people in their everyday life. I managed to always get refocused quickly and pick the pace back up to a constant rhythm.

By the end of the first lap I was feeling a little tired but still fresh enough that I didn’t even consider stopping, powering through I found myself a quarter of the way through this lap in good time. I began judging my speed against the other runners by how far they had walked / run in the opposite direction by the time I passed them for the second, third and even fourth time. This helped motivate me and push me on, another way I did this was by setting targets of when I would catch the person in front or beat the person in the other direction to a specific object.

The last kilometre of the run I tried to pick up the pace. My legs had started to fatigue from the run and I found myself having to really fight and push to achieve this. I think I did manage to increase my speed, even if it was just a little. The hardest part of the run was at the very end, the footbridge. Running back up the footbridge I pushed myself hard to keep the pace constant, this caused a great burning in my legs all the way through to my car.

Having arrived back at the car I checked the time to find it the time had just ticked over to 9:25am, making the time for the run 40 minutes for 7.5km. This means that I ran 5 min and 20 second kilometres on average. The time is also just off the best speed I had managed for a distance of 7km, I ran an extra 500m in the same sort of time!

All of this good work will be undone if I don’t go for my run tomorrow morning. Here’s to getting back into the grind of everyday life!

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