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.


Could be an excellent half marathon – please sort the parking issue.

IMG_0469Car Parking – has to be the first thing said. In its second year this half has grown and, if it grows again next year then parking will be a serious problem. Luckily I was in the area and registered to pick up my number (US=Bib) the day before but many were running from their cars to join the registration queue. .Arriving at 10 to 8 for a 9 o’clock start, as I did, was too late. The queues for the car park were backed up onto the motorway (which was closed to through traffic) and moved slowly towards car parks A and B.

We were told in the pre-race pack to alternate cars between A and B parks but everyone was going for B as it looked closer but wasn’t (could have had a marshall there). By the time I got to A ¬†it was full, the marshalls were running around looking for vacant factory units that didn’t open on a Sunday and parking people there. Then people started parking on the grass and eventually at the kerb side on double yellows.

Some fast runners passed me at about mile 2 and I am guessing they missed the start.

That said, the rest of the race was excellently planned, marshalled and finished. The organisers make a big thing about it being a fairly flat course, which it is, but with one big hill in the middle. Psychologically you are either prepared or scared of this hill as the two slopes before it are sign posted “This is not the hill” When you reach the base of the hill it is signed “This is the hill – honest” and it most certainly was.

For me (finishing in 2 hrs 20 min) my pace was a pretty even 10 minute miling plus change. The mile with the hill in it (7th) was clocked at 12:41 and the following mile, down again, at 9:33. Nobody likes walking in a half marathon but if you were in the group that I was with (see times above) then you soon realised that those around you who were walking the hill were going faster than you running. It is a quick flick of a switch in the brain that says “Ultra runners walk hills” and before you know it you are walking.

From the top of the hill to the finish was mainly down hill with a nasty slope just before the finish labelled “This feels like a hill”

Full marks to the organisers for their pre race info, complete with humour, their marshalling and the finish area. The goody bag was ravished by me with salty crisps and two Mars chocolate covered swiss rolls going down instantly followed by a strawberry drink that I wouldn’t normally touch that went down in one gulp. Bananas could be collected as you went through the goody bag area along with water. The shirt is a tech shirt and is pictured here with the excellent medal.

Will I run this next year – yes, probably, because it is a well run local half in August with nothing else around. There were many running clubs represented this year and I am guessing many more next year so please sort out the parking.

Warning to each and every grandchild of mine. Every time we drive over the new Severn Bridge I will be pointing to the old one and saying “See that bridge over there? Bampa has run across that in the middle of the road!”