Middlering Miscellaneous

Salomon XR Shift - Side
New Shoes: Salomon XR Shift

First up: I’ve got new shoes!

… and I don’t love them.

After running through my last pair of Brooks Ghosts in just 9 months, I didn’t want to spend another £100 on a new pair. With winter approaching, more of my regular paths will be turning to trail anyway, so decided to get a budget trail pair this time. Non-available sizes in my preferred model, and unreliability of some store brands meant I ended up buying these – Salomon XR Shift. Not the best shoes I’ve tried or run in, but at least I like the colour ;)

Running rut

I’ve not been running much. Take out the Pilgrim Marathon, and I’ve run a total of 81 Km in August and September, combined. My average monthly mileage for the previous 7 months was 109 Km, 34% higher than two months combined.

Part of the reason was in the head. I just didn’t feel like running, so didn’t head out. Another reason was the 2-week vacation and then layoff pre- & post-marathon. Then there was my distinct lack of comfort with the new shoes. And finally, I was carrying a knee ligament injury for most of this period.

October’s not too great either, but this last Saturday’s 24 Km run along the river was a good, happy start.

Chewie & I ran a happy long run

Happy riverside 24K - Chewie abandoned me midway
Happy riverside 24K – Chewie abandoned me midway

Raghs and I have been arguing over me wanting to take Chewie along on long runs. Till I came across this little beauty running 38 miles of Downslink ultra. She agreed to let me test it out, and so we went – father and son, brothers in arms, human and ultra-human, dog and dog-servant – running to Godalming.

It was a beautiful day for a run – slightly overcast, but neither windy nor raining, and with temperatures just perfect to keep me cool, without making it too cold. Met loads of other friendly dogs along the way, including one handsome border collie who decided I looked fit enough to chuck sticks for her, so got me a 5-foot long stick to throw. Twice! :)

Chewie enjoyed the run. He loved it even more that he could go into the river for a swim or a cool down any time he wanted. He loved it that there were fields alongside the winding river most of the way, where he could trot off exploring, and then catch up with me on other side of the loop. It was the happiest I’ve seen on a run in a while!

Chewie showing off in front of St. Catherine's church ruins
Chewie showing off in front of St. Catherine’s church ruins

Raghs had decided to come pick him up from my turnaround point at Godalming. She was pleasantly surprised how happy and full of energy he was at end of a 12km run. Even she agreed, finally, that he clearly had it in him to go for longer runs. A 16-20K run beckons him this weekend.

While he was off home, hesitantly, in the car, I still had the return 12K to run. It was a lot easier to maintain a steady, even faster, tempo, without having to wait for his swim, pee, smell or explore breaks along the way. Yet, it was also more boring. My boy’s really good company, and I really missed him on the way back.

Interestingly, so did many other dog owners whom we’d met on our way out. More than one of them pointed out that I’d *lost* my dog :)

Next: New running bag!

One of the problems I have with running longer solo distances is the inability to carry sufficient water and food. I’ve tried using my hiking backpack – light but very bouncy and loads of sweat on the back – and Raghi’s cycling backpack – drier back but gives chafing injuries on neck and shoulders. The best solution so far had been Raghi’s running water belt. But with just 2x 300ml bottles, it sufficed only for distances of max 15 Km.

A bit of research revealed the Kalenji trail bag as the best budget option out there, and after delaying it for a month, I finally got it a few weeks back.

Kalenji men's trail running bag
Kalenji men’s trail running bag

Used the bag on the long run with Chewie, and it’s just amazing. It’s light weight, keeps the back dry (compared to others I’d tried), has loads of well thought out capacity, and doesn’t move one bit while running. That last one alone was a winner for me.

To top it all, I can now keep my phone in one of the shoulder strap pockets, and thus easily take photos on long runs ;)

Best £25 I’ve spent in a while!

The real rut

4+months, no rides :(
4+months, no rides :(

The running rut was more of a slowdown, and short-lived. The real rut is in my cycling. Discounting the commutes and spinning classes, I haven’t ridden a proper ride on my bike since 7th June – the day of 240 Km at Dragon ride in south Wales.

Initially, it was me just wanting to take a short break. Injury, vacation and marathon training made the break longer. I was looking forward to riding the Octopus with some cycling friends, on the weekend after Pilgrim. But that plan fell apart after they signed up for other events. And, for some reason or another, one more month has passed since. 4 & ⅔ months is the longest, by a margin, that I haven’t ridden since I restarted cycling in early 2010.

Makes me sad. Mad and sad. Cycling is, after all, a big part of my anti-depression cocktail!

The middle ring

The middle ring in this blog’s title, and in my twitter handle, referred initially to the middle chainring on my bike that I ride mostly on.

Considering how little I’ve ridden (ZERO!) in second half of this year, I’m starting to wonder if I even deserve that pseudonym anymore?

Weight trend - up and to the right
Up and to the right – not how you want it in this case

To the rescue comes my unhealthy body. A lack of riding and running through middle months of the year, combined with unhealthy eating, visiting relatives, and vacations means I’ve put on 11 Kg on top of my April weight – going from 74.7 to 86.3 Kg in one go.

The result is that middlering now refers to the ring around my waist – that ugly paunch, instead of my riding gear :(

The good news is that the ‘middle of the year’ is over. I run & ride more in the colder months. October’s rising running mileage, and regular spinning classes are the right beginning, and by March, hopefully, I’ll be back at race weight, and riding happily in the middlering.

Middlering Miscellaneous

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