Thus Spoke Zarathustra through Phedippidations

the spiral of life.
the spiral of life.

My first run out-doors since missing the Cardiff Half. Rhinovirus  it was called, a posh name for coughing, spluttering and having a headache for two weeks also known as the common cold (and manflu). Deciding a few days before the race to DNS I wanted, for some reason, to reinforce my disappointment so went into Cardiff, shopping, straight after the race, to watch everyone walking about in their tech shirts with medals around their necks. Grrrrr.

Getting back into running slowly I did my five ten-minute runs on the treadmill in the gym (with a different leg then arm exercise between each one) but still needed inspiration from somewhere.

Inspiration came in the form of a notification on my iPhone that a podcast I subscribe to had downloaded an episode. Past Runwelshman press items have referred to Phedippidations, and how on 5th July 2015 episode 329 of this podcast had come out but nothing since. I had enjoyed Steve Runner’s podcasts so much I had left his podcast app on my phone “just in case”. I was rewarded with episode 330 on 16th October 2015 and it provided the inspiration I needed to get outside for a run but not in the way you would think.

Episode 330 was very personal and showed Steve as a different person after a bit of a life change. It may have been a farewell podcast, it may be another three month wait, we shall see (your podcast app is still open on my phone Mr. Walker). 330 was mainly about a book Steve had read a number times called “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” by Friedrich Nietzsche and how it had shaped his life. The show was punctuated with the usual tasteful music and was excellently presented and produced as usual. I am not going to go too heavily into the content of the podcast but would suggest you download this and past episodes.

Talk of Thus Spoke Zarathustra sparked my interest enough for me to download a copy onto my Kindle and to start reading. Among the first pages, in fact in the introduction, was a reference that hit home “Like Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Henry David Thoreau before him, Nietzsche did his best thinking while walking in the open air, so that place was of the utmost importance to him as a philosopher.” This brought home to me how I was missing my me-time, my running while letting my mind run free, my break from concentration and the reason I have never run with music.

So today it was important to run a slow but hilly 7.35 training run and to contemplate Steve’s podcast, his state of mind and my entry into his suggested book. Love the way this book came to me as Nietzsche himself said “Then the life that is saved in the book is immortal since it survives its author’s death with a strange autonomy: It seeks out readers for itself, ignites new life, delights, terrifies, engenders new works, becomes the soul of plans and actions.”

Another book I have read recently, or half read (more on that later) was called “Runner’s World Running On Air” which was previewed on another podcast I listen to (either Marathon Training Academy or The Conscious Runner Podcast) which interested me so I downloaded it onto my Kindle but only read half, if that. I mention it because part of Steve Runners podcast is recorded while he is running and it stood out to me that he breathes in two strides then out for two strides (again more on that later).

The basis for the book is that your body is at its weakest, while running, when you start to exhale. So, if you breath in for three strides and out for two strides then you will start to exhale on a different foot each time thus balancing your body and avoiding injury. If going faster then you can change this to two in and one out. Guess how many pages of the book it takes to get that message over – not many. Interested to find out what the rest of the book had to offer I was horrified to find I had spent money on a beginners running guide – beginner runners go out too fast, it’s ok to walk when you first start etc. No I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you are a complete beginner somewhere between walking and running.

So on my first run outside I tried out the 3/2 breathing pattern and hated it with a vengeance. It messed with my running, it messed with my breathing, I hated it. The only redeeming feature was that it made me think about my breathing pattern, which is two in and two out (see above) and, at the crest of a hill I could slow down my panting and heart rate by employing a 3/2 rate.

What about this for a thought to mull over. Next Easter on March 26th is the World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff. It is on the Saturday and I am already entered. On the following day Easter Sunday is the Pendine Sands Half Marathon (and ultra run but forget that) held on the beach where Donald Campbell used to race Bluebird on land speed record attempts. What about running Cardiff, jumping in the car, bed and breakfast somewhere down west and then running the Pendine Half as a back to back over two days.

Not only would this be a challenge to work towards but it might even get me into The Half Fanatics running club. What is going through my mind at the moment, and would have to be run out of my mind, is a note from Angie on the MTA podcast that running back to back marathons is mentally harder than a fifty miler (so assume back to back halves harder than running a marathon) because, she said, in a fifty miler you are running with a goal of finishing the run, with back to back marathons you are running with a goal of finishing the first marathon knowing you have to get up and do it all again tomorrow.

I wonder.


The Irony Of The So-called Energy Drink.

Regular runs of 13.1 on, usually, a Sunday morning, keep throwing up anecdotes that I should really share to see if others have similar experiences.

Today I was passed by the type of car that everyone tries to avoid. At least five lads in a small but tampered with car, travelling faster than the speed limit and, at 6.30am on a Sunday morning, probably returning from a party. I couldn’t see detail inside the car but if I had to guess I would say they were probably wearing their caps around the wrong way. I think I was supposed to be impressed by the driver’s ability to push down on an accelerator pedal with his foot and the fact that the exhaust end that he had bought was too big for the car. I was not impressed and can’t imagine who would be – are you still out there Jeremy Clarkson?

Anyway, the window was rolled down and out from the window came an empty energy can. Whether it was meant to hit me or simply reach the grass banking I am not sure but I couldn’t help but see the irony in the fact that neither the energy drink can nor the thrower had the energy to reach its intended target.

My mind started racing as it often does on a long run and I remembered the days when the only energy drink around was Lucozade (from Glucose Aid) which was apparently, before my time, called Glucozade. In the mid nineteen fifties, if you were ill and, during recovery, didn’t feel like eating, your mother would buy from the chemist shop (yes Chemist – it was deemed to be for illnesses) a large bottle of Lucozade, nicely tied up in an orange see-through wrapper. The idea was that you would drink this liquid glucose, it would spike your blood sugar, your insulin levels would rise to combat the glucose, your blood sugar would drop lower than it was originally and you would feel either hungry for food or thirsty for some more Lucozade. The young ill chappy would also feel much better by looking through the orange wrapping so that the world took on a much brighter and happier outlook.

Years later everyone, but women in general, learnt that sugar wasn’t good for you, for the above reasons, especially if they were dieting and they didn’t want the sugar to make them hungry. Fizzy sugar drinks went out the window, sales plummeted and the soft drinks industry had some hard thinking to do. One solution that they came up with to boost sales was to tell people that the drinks had little or no calories because sweeteners were used to spike your blood sugar instead of sugar. This allowed them to tell you that there was no sugar in the product. The other answer to their problems was the complete opposite of no sugar and that was to put in double or treble the amount and add more caffeine. I have only ever had one of these drinks and that was after three days of drinking Guinness in Dublin on a stag do. I cannot imagine ever wanting to raise my blood sugar level that much in any other circumstance. Are the regular drinkers of these energy drinks tomorrow’s diabetic patients?

Another quick anecdote. Months ago in the deepest, darkest, part of winter,  I was running in full length running compression tights and a jacket. From behind I was pretty genderless (I am a bloke). This was a Saturday early morning and I mention this because Saturday is more of a work day and there are more cars about.  I am always aware of the traffic around me and was very aware of a vehicle behind me that was slowing down. It drew up alongside me and I could see that it was a van full of builders. As soon as they caught sight of my beard and lack of boobs, they sped off at a rate of knots, possibly trying to work out whether they were gay or not. I related the story to a fellow runner in the office who happens to be female. She explained that it was quite common and something that women runners have to put up with. She told me that she has a friend who runs on her own by the side of a canal but that she herself would not. The episode gave me great respect for women runners and I guess us blokes will never really understand the things that have to go through to follow their sport.

Two small things from this morning’s run – let me know your views.

Saw a couple out running with the male running just in front of the female. Is this a macho thing? See lots of women wearing running tights that are compression tights to keep the blood flowing. They are cut off just below the knee so don’t help the calf – why is this?

Happy running, I am going back to my revision for my Welsh exam now. A full day of testing on June 12th which is 2 days before the Swansea Half Marathon.