Category: Running

Oops, I Forgot To Include ‘Writing Unnecessarily Long Blog Posts’ In My List Of Things You Can Do To Entertain Yourself

(Or ‘The Jacob Marley of posts – by which I mean it’s heavy-laden with links’)

As noted in yesterday’s post, this is a predominantly indoorsy time, so I thought I’d share some stuff that might be of interest – I am, as I hope is clear, in no way saying “you must do this” about any of the following (especially the physical activities suggested), it’s really just a list of things that I’ve enjoyed, and you might too. So with that (hopefully kind of unnecessary) caveat out of the way, on to the list, with its arbitrary categories:

Physical activities

Being indoors all the time is hardly conducive to a lot of exercise – unless you’ve got loads of weights or one of those Peleton things – so it’s probably useful that in the UK one of the accepted reasons to go outside is once a day for exercise. But for people who can’t do that – no open spaces nearby, for example – a lot of folks in the health and fitness business have made their stuff accessible online; you’ve probably seen that Joe Wicks is doing daily workouts every morning, but I thought I’d share a few others. Key thing, I feel, is to find what works for you – they often say that mental and physical health are linked, so keeping the blood flowing is likely to help you stay chipper at this odd time.

I’ve embraced yoga in the last few years and found it’s very much for me, and luckily a couple of my teachers have gone online recently:

Meg of Real Life Yoga is one of the funniest teachers I’ve ever had, as you can probably tell by the video she’s posted of a yoga sequence to do if you’ve got a hangover; but she’s also posted some short, non-morning-after videos aimed at people who are working from home, which are worth a look.

Charlie is a very friendly and supportive teacher and I’ve attended his lessons several times, including a beautiful session in a candlelit church; he’s posted some instructional videos online especially for this time. They’re free to view, but if you can make a contribution that’d be lovely.

I’m currently six weeks into the at-home programme of Broga, which is (as the name suggests) a version of yoga originally aimed at men (or at least, aimed at getting past male preconceptions about whether yoga is for them). It’s hard work, and more actively so than most yoga I’ve experienced, but it’s one of those workouts where you really feel the endorphins and the sense of achievement when you’re done. I’m using the DVD, but they’re very kindly hosting live classes online; as I understand it, you go to their Instagram page and press the Live button, and you should be good to go (I can’t be sure – I’m not on IG myself). Good news here is that not only are many of their instructors donating their fee to charity for doing these classes, but they’re also running additional classes, including ones for families, so definitely worth a look.

And in the world of yoga, one of the most well-known online instructors is, of course, Adriene – millions of subscribers and dozens of videos, suitable for beginners and expert alike, with a whole variety of durations; basically something for everyone, and a great place to start (the only reason I mention her further down the list here is because I wanted to start off with teachers and styles I have personal experience of).

Of course, yoga isn’t the only kind of exercise you can do indoors, and for many other ideas I heartily recommend Nerd Fitness – a site that doesn’t take itself seriously, but does take exercise seriously, and has a slew of great resources and exercise plans: for obvious geek reasons, I like their Batman Bodyweight Workout, but there are loads of other at-home workout routines. Definitely deserves a look, not least for the great Lego setups that illustrate so many of their articles.

Lastly on the physical exertion topic, I like to run – granted, it’s not for everyone (and not everyone is allowed out at the moment), but if you’re thinking this might be the time to try it out, then a lot of people I know (including m’colleague) have had a lot of success with Couch to 5K, often surprising themselves with just how much progress can be made in a pretty short period of time.


Mens Sana in Corpore Sano, as the Romans had it (apologies for that Juvenal joke), and it’s probably fair to say that in the last few years topics of mental health and well-being have been much more openly discussed, with mindfulness and meditation being … well, I’d like to say ‘increasingly popular’, but I have no evidence of that to hand. But I’ve certainly seen a lot more articles on those topics in the papers and magazines, and they seem to get a lot of mentions in podcasts and the like, so I’ll assume this is in some way reflected in reality.

I’ve been a fan of meditation since my teens, and whilst I wish I could pretend that means I’m an expert at it, it still feels like something that I can still learn a lot about – that said, I’ve found it a great way of just getting centred and feeling a bit more in control of one’s thoughts and actions, particularly during turbulent times, so I’d recommend it – here are a couple of apps you can get for smartphones:

Insight Timer – my app of choice, it’s free and you can create your own sessions (selecting duration and background sounds), or listen to the guided meditations or talks by noted experts like Tara Brach.

Headspace – probably better known than Insight Timer, and a lot of people swear by it. It didn’t quite do it for me, but that’s probably just me trying to pretend I’m some kind of maverick, swimming against the tide and not liking the same stuff as everyone else. Yeah, lookit me, I’m a rebel. Ahem.

Calm – again, a very popular app, this one has a particularly elegant style (just click on Get Started and enjoy the interface), and even has bedtime stories read by people like Stephen Fry.

As ever, there are a wealth of resources online for this kind of thing, and since meditation essentially boils down to sitting comfortably, closing the eyes and focusing on the breath (as a starter; that’s not the entirety of it, obviously), you should be able to get started for pretty much the sum of zero pence. The best things in life can, after all, be free.

Right, so that’s enough of you looking after yourself, let’s move on to entertainment…

Streaming TV and Films and stuff

I’m not even going to try to list everything that’s available (I know that, for example, the BBC have put loads of box sets of TV series onto iPlayer, and I’m sure you know what kind of thing you’re into), but here are a couple of things I have found and enjoyed…

Netflix – As well as six seasons of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, a delightfully warm-hearted and upbeat comedy, I recently found and thoroughly enjoyed the film Extra Ordinary; put me in mind of a cross between Derry Girls and Ghostbusters, and is a lot of fun. I wasn’t familiar with the cast or creatives involved (apart from Will Forte, who seems to be having a lot of fun), but they’ve all done a terrific job. Really worth your time.

iPlayerAs mentioned above, they’ve put a whole load of shows up to help the nation stay entertained while we’re all indoors, and whilst the list could go on for ages, I’d particularly highlight the fact that every episode of Inside No.9 is there to be watched; they’ve just finished their fifth series, and it’s maintained a consistently high standard, to the extent that I wonder if I, as a viewer might be in danger of taking for granted just how ruddy good it is. If you’ve not seen it yet, this is a great chance to catch up.

And possibly hidden in the films section on iPlayer is the frankly bonkers film Mindhorn, which is funny, clever, and only about 85 mins, so it doesn’t have time to drag. That’s how to do it.

All4I mentioned above that some programmes are so good that it’s easy to almost overlook that consistent quality – and Friday Night Dinner is one of them. The sixth season is currently showing on Channel 4, and there’s no drop in story quality whatsoever, and the performances are just as solid… by which I mean solidly ridiculous, most of the time. All the episodes are currently available to view on All4.

Oh, and I mentioned Derry Girls earlier, which is also on the All4 site, and which is terrific.

Aside from the above (and other streaming services which I don’t have and so haven’t mentioned), there are some interesting cultural whatnots worth checking out:

National Theatre Live – in the last couple of years, the National Theatre have taken to screening filmed versions of some of their plays (and transmitting them to cinemas around the country, which strikes me as a clever way of getting stuff seen by people who (a) don’t live nearby or (b) don’t know if they want to spend forty quid or more on a production they may not like that much).

As theatres are closed right now, the NT has started screening a play every Thursday on their YouTube channel, and it remains there for a week, so don’t feel you have to watch it in real time. As I type this, Jane Eyre is the current play, and I believe that one of the future presentations will be the production of Twelfth Night from a couple of years ago, starring Tamsin Greig, which I thought looked interesting, but never got to see, so I’ll be looking out for that.

Royal Opera House – In a similar vein, the ROH are screening a selection of performances of opera and ballet on their YouTube channel. I’ll cheerfully admit that whilst I like me a bit of opera, ballet’s a bit of a blind spot to me, but maybe this is the perfect time for me to try some, with time and money less at risk if I do so? Worth a look.

Podcasts – are like the radio shows you can pause and rewind, and so are a great way to hear other people’s voices, and opinions, and learn stuff and laugh (or all of those things). Plus you can get on with stuff like washing and tidying while they keep you company. I’m sure you can find a ‘cast (that’s what the cool kids call them, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) on a subject of interest to you, but the following are ones which I always enjoy:

How to Fail – Elizabeth Day talks to successful people, about how they’ve been shaped by their failures… that’s a really dry summary of a really interesting show.

Scriptnotes – John August and Craig Mazin’s long-running ‘cast about writing. Mainly for the screen, but loads of lessons about creativity and the like anyway (this week’s episode has Ryan Reynolds and Phoebe Waller-Bridge as guests! How cool is that? Well, actually I don’t know how cool, as I haven’t listened to it yet. But I’ve listened to the previous 444 episodes, and they’ve all been good, so the pedigree of the show and the guests alike suggests it won’t be rubbish).

The One You Feed – host Eric Zimmer talks to people in the fields of religion, psychology, philosophy and … er, let’s say spirituality, about the quest to live a better life. That makes it sound a bit woo-woo, but it’s usually pretty practical, and I’ve learned a lot from it. Your mileage, as they say, may vary, probably dependent on who the guest is in any given episode, but definitely worth a go.

and of course, a whole host of other podcasts are available, from a whole host of sources; BBC Sounds, iTunes, whatever. It’s kind of like the way you figure out what music you like, I guess – have a look in a chosen area, give something a go, see what happens or what it might lead to. Actually, that sounds more like a general approach to life, I guess? Yeah, why not.

I haven’t mentioned books or magazines here – again, there are so many of them around, and most people I know already have enough stuff in their ‘to read’ pile. But this might be a good time to read that book you’ve been ‘planning to get round to’? For my part, I’m thinking of reading some Jane Austen for the first time since secondary school (any suggestions as to whether I should go for P&P or S&S gratefully received. Whaddayamean, that’s not what the literary establishment call the books? Hmph).

Food and Drink

This is, of course, a great time to eat and drink the whole day long, but that may not be the best idea, and I can already imagine the marketing departments of various weight-loss firms are planning their post-lockdown advertising campaigns and rubbing their hands together with excitement. As with so many things a healthy balance is probably the way to go. As I always say, moderation is the only thing one should do to excess.

Drink-wise, do get lots of water, it’s cheap and hydration’s never a bad thing; I’d recommend loads of tea as well, but it’s up to you.

Same goes for food, of course – it’s tricky enough getting hold of some staple food items that you’ll probably want to focus on hitting the usual food groups, though could be a fun time to learn some new recipes – I’ve recently tried out a three-ingredient recipe for peanut butter cookies, which came out pretty well, and was hassle-free. There are loads of recipe sites online, so if you have some stray things in the fridge or cupboard, might be worth a quick online search to see what culinary magic you might be able to perform.

And I think that’s enough to be going on with, don’t you? I hope that there’s at least something – if not several somethings – in the above that might be of interest to you. But even if not, I hope you’re doing okay, and staying safe.

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

Well, what better way to round off things on this blog than to post a picture which I don’t have the real right to post, but which is, y’know, of me? Seems about right somehow.

Anyway, this blog is not dying, it’s moving – or, to be more accurate, I’ll be moving my attentions to my ‘new blog’ and so I doubt I’ll be posting here again (techical issues permitting) for the foreseeable future.

The reason for the move is pretty simple, really – for some time, I’ve been looking into trying to ‘streamline’ the number of places and locations I occupy online, and so I’ve revamped and reshaped my website so that it now includes automatic updates on my Twitter messages, and so it only seems logical that I shift the blog updates over there too.

I speak with utter confidence about this move, but of course if the server crashes or my technical ability reaches its limits, I may well be here again, so I won’t be deleting this blog. Many of the links which you can see in the right-hand column are on the new site, so you don’t have to feel lost and disoriented if you just use his blog as a stepping-stone to other people’s pages. I don’t mind being the guardian of the crossroads, even if Robert Johnson had his misgivings…

Anyway, I hope you’ll come and visit the new blog, and maybe you’ll even be so kind as to add John Soanes to your list of bookmarks? Thanks in advance.

Finally, if this is your last time of visiting, many thanks for your time and eyeballs over the last few years. It’s much appreciated, and as intermittent as my updates may have been in the last year or so, it’s always been reassuring to know that you fine folks were out there reading my nonsense. Seriously, you’ve been fantastic.

And you know what? So was I.

Virgin’s First Time

And welcome to all of you who’ve come here via a search engine; prepare for disappointment.

I know a lot of the regular audience for the blog are involved in writing, though I don’t know how many of you, like me, run; anyway, this is one of those occasional posts about running.

The London Marathon has, for a number of years, been officially known as the Flora London Marathon (though it was rarely spoken of as such), because of the sponsorship provided by a leading spreadable product. Prior to that, if memory serves, it was sponsored by Mars, the ever-popular chocolate bar. Nothing, it seems, symbolises health and a stern training regime so much as sponsorship from a foodstuff containing a proportion of fat.

That used to be the case, anyway. As you can see from the logo, and may have inferred from the Google-baiting title of this post, the 2010 London Marathon is being sponsored by Virgin – a firm whose interests are strangely scattered, from credit cards to cola. No, I don’t quite understand it either.

Anyway, if you’ve applied for a place in the ballot for the 2010 Marathon, the decisions are apparently in the post. However, since the UK postal service is currently being affected by strikes (many people have inevitably noted that it’s hard to tell the difference), the mailout of the YES and NO notifications has been a bit delayed. But Virgin will apparently be e-mailing people this afternoon to let them know.

If you don’t get a place in the ballot (which is the scheme whereby enter a lottery-style system to see if you get a place, and then pay for it), there’ll of course be a vast number of charity places available; those of you with unnervingly long memories may remember that I ran in the 2007 London Marathon for just such a charity.

For reasons which kind of escape me in the cold (well, currently more like grey) light of day, I’ve entered the ballot for the 2010 Marathon, and so I should be receiving an e-mail today to let me know if I’ve got a place. If I haven’t – and I think the odds are pretty slim – then I have, for the sake of my own sanity, vowed not to see about a charity place; in all honesty, the hassle of trying to make sure I reached the target for sponsorship was more of a burden than the physical act of training for, and running, the marathon. So I won’t be doing that again.

No, definitely not. Uh-uh, nosiree. Not doing that again.

Oh no, I’m “protesting too much”, aren’t I? Uh oh…

EDITED at 3.58pm to say: Just had the e-mail to say I didn’t get in through the ballot. And that, as I say, means I won’t be pursuing any other means of getting a place. That’s what I said, and as we all know, what I say goes. Granted, it usually ‘goes’ by the by within minutes, but let’s try for some kind of certainty for once…

My Butch Rapidity And The Dad-Dance I Did

Being the aforethreatened post about the seventh-day activities of one John Soanes; a post whose position in this world is hampered by the contrivance of its title, if not its contents

So, I promised yesterday to tell you about my Sunday of contrasts; the butch morning and the camp evening. And so I shall.

The rugged and manly activity in the morning, lest you should think I’ve taken up yomping or arm-wrestling polar bears or something new and exciting, was my perennial favourite of running. Specifically, the Great Capital Run in Regent’s Park in London. Yes, when much of the capital was groggily waking and wondering why there was a kebab on the pillow next to its face, I was tying on my running shoes and heading off to run.

Not that I was going too far, you understand – it was 5km (which I think equates to 3.3 miles), but I haven’t done a formalised bit of running in a while (possibly not even this calendar year). So I was both looking forward to it, as a test of my running ability, and dreading it in case I ran out of breath, fell to the ground, and soiled myself a couple of metres past the start line.

Still, I made my way to Regent’s Park (assisted, as ever, by London Underground, who had cleverly scheduled engineering works and station closures on eight of London’s eleven tube lines – they’d clearly decided that I’d run better if I’d faced a challenge in getting from A to B before getting to the run, and increased my adrenaline levels).

The race itself began at 10am, but at 9.35am there was a ‘mass warm-up’. This was a good idea as you should warm up anyway, but especially as it was moderately cold yesterday, and there’s nothing to be gained from running with unstretched or cold muscles. And it was a good warm-up session, with stretches of all available muscles, though at one stage I looked at the thousands of us, all putting our arms up in the air at the bidding of one man on a podium, moving in unison, and I couldn’t help but think it looked like a rather scary political rally. Only with tighter-fitting shorts.

Nuremberg aerobics completed, there were some proper – oh, sorry, I mean elite – athletes running as well, and they set off before the rest of us, at a pace that genuinely caused eyes to widen amongst the common herd. And just like the Generation Game, once the display of world-level ability was over, it was time for the less capable to have a go. They gradually moved us forward to the line, and then we were off.

Regent’s Park is a pretty good place to run – it’s generally flat, and the concreted paths we were running on only occasionally turned gravelly, and I have to say that it was well-marshalled; there was never any doubt about where you should be going next, even if – as was the case just before the 4km marker – it was slightly uphill.

I kept up what I felt was a pretty steady pace, and despite the handicap of having to run as part of a cluster of people (something you can’t really incorporate into running practice unless you’re really good at arranging flashmobs), I felt I should be able to make it in under 40 minutes, which was my fairly conservative estimate based on how practice runs had gone. It turned out that I was being overly harsh on myself, though, as I came in at just under 31mins (30m 53s, according to the official timing), which I was pretty pleased about.

The combination of the warm-up and the exercise left me feeling physically fairly enlivened, and awash with testosterone, which of course was important since I was just about to go off to an event which, I sincerely expected, was going to be more camp than Alan Carr performing a tribute to Larry Grayson.

Because, constant reader, I had agreed to attend the BBC Radio 2 event in Hyde Park called Thank You For The Music – a tribute to the music of Abba.

Now, there’s nothing inherently camp about Abba – granted, the intervening years have given their clothes a certain kitsch appeal, but at the time they were pretty much the fashion – and the music’s perfectly fine, though I would make an argument that only a dozen of their songs are ones which, as the cliche now has it, we all know the words to, and not all of them, as some people seem keen to maintain. But I’m not knocking the work, and when Mrs Wife asked if I wanted to come along, I agreed pretty rapidly.

Once the tickets had been bought, though, I suddenly realised that the event had a pretty strong chance of turning into a bit of a camp bash: Lulu was on the bill, then Kylie Minogue was announced as performing, I started to hear stories about ‘lots of people going dressed up’, and I had the sudden feeling that as a heterosexual male, I was going to feel slightly out of place. I foresaw a sea of peacock feathers and spandex, neither of which I can pull off, not with my colouring. Yes, yes, you’re right: I’m just jealous.

Anyway, when we got to Hyde Park, along with some 30,000 other people, I was reassured to see that it wasn’t the case. There were a few people in late 1970s style gear, but not many feathers. In fact, the nearest that I got to a feather boa all night was the white one draped around the neck of the very drunk man who danced – well, all right, swayed – around us for most of the evening, looking (to paraphrase Fight Club) like the corpse of David Tennant, if you gave it too much drink and made it shamble around the party being annoying to everybody.

But he was in the minority. It was a friendly crowd, and the music was pretty decent – The Feeling were clearly having fun, and some of the people I hadn’t heard of were very solid too, though I struggled to hear the vocals by Lulu and, later, Chaka Khan; was there a sound problem, or was someone on the sounddesk dialling them down for other reasons, I wonder? Hmm.

Benny and Bjorn took to the stage at the end, and thanked the crowd, and seemed genuinely rather surprised that their music was eliciting such a strong reaction so many years after it’d been written, which I thought was rather sweet; fireworks went off overhead, and we slowly made our way out of the park, once more to negotiate the hardly-running tube system and go home.

Not bad for the so-called day of rest, then; like New York, London is a city that never sleeps, but of course that means that it can be rather short-tempered, and doesn’t always look its best. Still, beats being bored, I think you’d agree.

That’s enough about my weekend, though; what have you been up to ?

EDITED TO ADD: If you want to see me gasping my way round the Great Capital 5K, click here and enter the race number 727.

As I Know He Reads The Blog, I’d Like To Acknowledge That My Brother – Though He’s Not Imaginary Like Donald Kaufman – Also Does His Job Jolly Well

There’s a poll currently running on the Writers’ Guild Blog : “Do you believe in writers’ block?”

The two answers given are ‘Yes, it’s all too real’, and ‘No, it’s just an excuse to procrastinate’, and if you want to, I think you can still vote, so if you feel strongly either way and want to make your opinion known, follow the above link and click away.

I’ve been mulling it over a bit, partly because of the question asked by the WGGB, partly because of this post by Andrew ‘They Call Me Mister’ Tibbs, though mainly because I’ve recently rewatched Adaptation, a good film which is certainly worth seeing (if you haven’t already done so).

As you may well know, the film tells the story of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s struggle to adapt the book The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean into a screenplay, and interweaves the tale of the book itself with his writing struggles (with something that certainly looks like writer’s block), to the point where the film is ultimately more about that than the content of Orlean’s book (though that just be me preferring the tale of the storyteller than the flora-seller). In the film, Kaufman stares hopelessly at the blank page in his typewriter, wrestling with both problems of story and his own self-worth (made all the more prominent by comparison with his [imaginary] twin Donald, who has enormous success with his own more obviously populist script).

It reminded me rather of the post on Andrew’s blog, which refers to the recent Charlie Brooker programme, wherein a number of writers talked about the importance of actually getting down to writing – Tony Jordan puts it most straightforwardly when he says ‘A writer writes – the clue is in the name’ – and quite a few of them talked about how they’d write without necessarily knowing where they were going with the story. Andrew wrote about how the opposite of this can be to want to plot everything down to the smallest detail, and how that can lead to constant procrastination from the act of getting words down on the page – which is part of Kaufman’s problem in Adaptation.

I’m inconsistent in whether I plan things like mad or just dive into a story (though I invariably like to have an end in mind, lest I should go on writing for ever), although one thing I’ve realised is that it’s better if I keep my story ideas to myself; not for fear of plagiarism, but for the more mundane reason that if I get all giddy and intoxicated with the tale and end up blurting it out (usually in a half-baked form), that tends to dilute the need to write it down because – even on that pathetic level – part of me feels I’ve told the story. God only knows how I reconcile that with pitching and query letters, but I tend to make sure my first draft is finished before I get to that stage.

Anyway, I don’t really have an opinion as to whether Writers’ Block is real, though in a strange way I suspect that’s because I’ve rarely been in a position where my failure to words on paper has been like a kick to my sense of identity. I’ve only occasionally been called upon to write under that kind of pressure (well, outside of work, where the stuff I write about is usually non-fiction, though some might disagree). If I was a paid writer, I can well see that finding the well of inspiration had run dry would be akin to a bout of mental impotence – you want to do it, you know you can do it, but the more you think about it, the less likely it is to happen.

I wish I was more advanced in my writing career than I actually am – and I’m well aware that I’m the only one, ultimately, who can do anything about that – but in a way it does mean that the pressure is lower; by analogy, if I can’t be bothered to go out for a run (as has been the case more often than not since the clocks went back, and I have the waistline to prove it), I don’t have a coach or team who I’m letting down, and who’ll shout at me if I jeopardise my personal advancement, but if you’re a writer by trade, there are a lot of people who you could feel you’re letting down (as well as yourself). I can see why it could be a more pernicious situation if you feel you just can’t find it within you to write (or indeed run), so I wouldn’t want to say it’s not real just because I (fortunately) haven’t experienced it.

The main thing that keeps me from writing as much as I should, or should like to, is the tiresome and predictable issue of, you guessed it, time; again, I’m aware that I could squeeze in more writing and less loafing, and so for me at present this is a bigger challenge than Writers’ Block, though of course that may change in the future.

So, in summary, my concerns: Writers’ Block? Not yet. Writer’s Clock? You bet.

I’m Built Upside-Down – My Nose Runs And My Feet Smell

I don’t write about running that often on the blog – though some might argue that this is because I don’t really go running all that often either…

Anyway, on Sunday I was booked in to do a half-marathon here in London, but when I woke up it was lashing down with rain, and I had one of those poundy-temple headaches, so I decided against it.

And by crikey, I’m glad I did; runners are a pretty lot – after all, it’s ultimately their choice to go pounding the ground in all weathers – but it seems I missed a bad ‘un; according to posts from runners on Run To The Beat‘s own webforum, it was a mess from start to finish – transport difficulties getting there and back, a delayed start, bands not lining the route as promised, timing and distance inaccuracies, limited toilet facilities, and even the t-shirt which was supposed to be in the finishers’ goody bags appears to have been absent. Not exactly what you want when you’ve paid thirty (or in the case of some charity runners, fifty) quid to be there, is it?

Sometimes, a little voice at the back of my head tells me that rather than leaving home, I’d be better off staying at home with my lovely wife and drinking lots of cups of tea. It’s not always possible to listen to that little voice (there seems to be some correlation, for example, between me showing up for work and getting paid for it), but on this occasion, I’m very, very glad I did.

If You Don’t, I’ll Make Some Awful Snickers Joke. Seriously.

In just over a week – Sunday 13 April, calendar fans – my friend Chris will be pounding the streets of this nation’s capital. Which is to say, he’s running the London Marathon.

I did it last year, and frankly it’s dashed hard work, and as Chris is doing it in aid of Mind (the mental health charity), I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that you can sponsor Chris by clicking here. It’s all secure and safe, and you can even boost your donation with the magic of Gift Aid if you’re a UK taxpayer.

And, if you’re one of those people who … well, let’s say ‘forgot’ to sponsor me this time last year, you can salve your conscience by slinging some money towards a similarly worthy cause.

I’ve always said that readers of this blog are lovely and generous and kind, and you won’t let me down, will you? Don’t let the title of this post influence you or anything, but… well, I’m always inclined to think one shouldn’t make threats which one wouldn’t carry out, if you see what I mean.


Your Not-Really-That-Humble Author

I completed the Silverstone Half-Marathon on Sunday, though not in any kind of impressive time (apparently, there’s a connection between training for physical exercise, and being able to do it. Strange, that).

Anyway, since I seem to have acquired some new readers recently, I thought I’d publish this (admittedly rather low-resolution) picture of me running on Sunday, so you can put a face* to the blog, as it were.

*As Victor Lewis-Smith put it, “it must be a face – it’s got ears”.

LINK: Run, That Boy, Run

As regular readers of the blog will know, last year I ran in the London Marathon. In my write-up for it here, I mentioned that one of the smiley aspects of the day was my friend Chris not only coming to cheer me on, but indeed running alongside me for a bit, which was welcome company.

I don’t know if the running bug was transmitted by my sweating onto him or something, but Chris says that he was rather taken with the whole thing, especially the cheerful atmosphere of the crowds lining the route, to the extent he’s managed to snare himself a place in this year’s London Marathon (taking place on 13th April).

As one would only expect from a friend of mine, Chris has decided to do the Marathon to raise funds for a good cause – in this case, the mental health charity Mind – and as I know that readers of this blog are both smart AND generous, I’d like to ask you to sponsor Chris. You can do this by visiting his online sponsor page, which is here. The site, by the way, is totally secure, and if you’re a UK taxpayer the magic of Gift Aid will increase your donation by 28%, so you can look even more generous and impressive.

Please do take a minute to sponsor him – he’s a jolly good egg, running for a darned good cause, and I think he deserves as much support as possible. And if you’re one of the lucky people who’s invited to my wedding later this year, you’ve got a conversation-opening line if you meet Chris: “Hey, didn’t you do the Marathon? Well done – I sponsored you!”

I’ll try to put a more lasting link in the column to the right of the screen, and I’ll probably remind you repeatedly as we get closer to the Marathon itself, but if you sponsor him today, you can regard all my future reminders with a smug sense of being one step ahead of the game.

As ever, I thank you – and I’m sure Chris does too (or at least he would, if he had any breath left in his lungs after all the training).

Ah, It’s Ages Yet – Loads Of Time To Train…

Before I did the London Marathon this year, I said to my lovely bride-to-be that after it was over, I’d probably never run again in my life – not even for a bus. “Uh-uh,” I predicted I’d say, “I’ve done a lifetime’s worth of running, thanks very much.”
She disagreed.

And she is, of course, right: today I’ve signed up to do the London 10K next May. As I’ve commented before, I’ve gained a lot of weight in recent months (I know, the idea that I’m celebrating completing the Marathon is a bit of a lame excuse six months down the line), so this is a perfect excuse for me to lose some of the lard.

Right now, of course, May 2008 seems very distant indeed, but I know full well it’ll come hurtling round the corner with shocking speed… something I’m unlikely to do if I don’t shed my excess weight, so I’d better start thinking about a training plan.

If you’re a Londoner, or even if you’re not, why not consider entering? It does costs a bit of money (£25, to be exact), but the atmosphere at the Marathon was terrific, and of course you get to run in what I, as I’ve said before, genuinely believe to be one of the finest cities in the world…

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