Weigh anchor, Muttley; there’s a medal in it for you.

So, one week until my next 10k.  Yesterday I couldn’t walk properly because of the pain in my knee.  Sub-50 isn’t looking like such a great prospect anymore, to be blunt about it.  Not getting my hopes up.

Still, I can’t decide what to do – do I wear my Beverley 10k long-sleeved shirt for the Hull 10k?  In accordance with the principle of cross-sport fashion, I should really find something other than running to do, and fast.

The principle of cross-sport fashion sprung up out of a conversation with my brother that I had while we were both studying, and both indulging in an eclectic jumble of sporting pasttimes.  Our theory was that if you turn up to the class/event/practice hall/dojo/whatever in the appropriate uniform/club shirt/complimentary wearable memento of a previous competition, there is an instant expectation that you will have some reasonable level of ability or familiarity with the sport.  Likewise, you can always pick out the beginner in a group by their non-conformance, not so much a statement as a necessity in most cases as pretty much every sports club encourages beginners to turn up in “comfortable” clothing.

A follow on effect of this is that beginners will invariably segregate themselves from the main pack of uniformed club members before class starts, and on becoming part of the club proper they will adopt the uniform asafp.

This is all very hand-waving and qualitative, of course, but it was a fun line of conversation to follow.

What we ended up deciding was that you could gain a psychological edge over your peers (and opponents) by turning up to club A in garb appropriate for club B and vice-versa; for example, by turning up to a kung fu class in a t-shirt from the climbing wall and hanging about by yourself before class starts, people will underestimate your ability to kick their legs out from under them.  Likewise, by going running in the same t-shirt, no-one has any expectations that you’ll be able to run fast.

Although reading that back, apparently what I’m really saying is that climbing t-shirts are great, because they exude an air of laziness and irresponsibility.

I should go climbing again.  The wall in Hull is meant to be very very good, but I must admit the prices are a little off-putting and I don’t think I could justify a full-year membership at the moment.  Still, they might have nice t-shirts to run in.

Preparation.

So, tomorrow I’m running my first race of 2010.

It’s almost been a decade since I last ran a race (which was the Harlow 10 mile*), and while I’ve been training for the last four weeks I’ve come to realise that in the decade that has passed I can no longer comfortably run as fast as I used to, nor can I just start running from cold.  Physically speaking, the me of ten years ago was far, far fitter than the me of today.

On the upside, the me of today is less of an idiot.  Still an idiot, but less of one.

I think.

Still, as part of my pre-race preparation I have started mentally ticking off all the things that I think are wrong and that will lead to me having a terrible time.  For a start, I slept really oddly last night.  I woke up twice, once at 3 and again at 6, and when I finally got up for good, my right knee was aching.  Have I been walking oddly the last few days, or did I put pressure on it during the night?  I don’t know, but I’ve been hirpling around trying to stretch it out all morning.  A couple of k’s warmup tomorrow early might be in order to check that it’s alright.

Also, food.  I worry about food a lot; it’s a combination of the low potassium diet I’m on/meant to be on but the renal dietician won’t see me until July and the knowledge that from now onwards I’m battling my body’s natural tendency to fill out.  With regards to running, and fitness in general, I know I should plan out my approach to food a little more than the standard “open fridge, grab, pile into cakehole” method that has been at the vanguard of my lifestyle since I was tall enough to reach the fridge door handle.  Considering today I’ve had time to grab a latte and a muffin on my way to the post office (after taking Lisa to work and driving back into town), I’m not doing too well on the diet front.  If I don’t sort it out, I’ll either be ravenous or bloated and queasy from over-loading.

Oh! I also have a spot on the inside of my nose.  THE INSIDE. This probably won’t affect my race time at all, but it’s still really annoying and random as hell.  Who gets a spot inside their nose?  Crazy.

It might also rain tomorrow.  I don’t like running in the rain, or indeed the cold, or if it’s too hot, or for any number of variations off of an idealistic memory I have of doing the Nike RunLondon 10K in breezy sunshine that was absolutely perfect.**  There’s not much I can do about the weather aside from hope, but really I should just suck it up.  This is Britain, after all, and anything short of horizontal sleet should be considered fortuitous.

So, we’ll see how it goes.  Report tomorrow, in all probability titled “Toot Toot, all aboard the failboat”.

*where the celebrity guest runner was snooker playing swagger-wank, Ronnie O’Sullivan.  I honestly can’t recall my time from the race, but I do remember that I went flying past him and his gaggle of personal trainers quite early.  I also recall that I went dressed for bad weather and it turned out glorious, so I was boiling all the way round.

**This should actually be a really shameful memory for me, because I latched onto a fairly professionally-dressed runner who was going about the pace I wanted to go at and dogged along behind him the entire way.  Apparently this is the runner etiquette equivalent of sitting next to someone going “AM I ANNOYING YOU YET AM I AM I AM I AM I?” but in all fairness I was a complete beginner at the time and didn’t know better.

Batteries not rechargable. Batteries cannot be replaced.

Getting back into exercise has been fun.  To be straight about it, I’d hardly done anything fitness-oriented since I collapsed last year, and I was starting to feel a bit depressed about it.  Was I avoiding working out because I had been ill, or was it just an excuse?

Well, looks like we’ve sorted out the answer to that.  I’m having cards printed up with “Workshy Bastard” on them as we speak.  I type, even.  Whatever.

So on the other side of that particular wall, I’ve been tempted by the urge to get my tech on, particularly the idea of getting a Nike+ monitor to go with my iPod Touch.

The only problem is in the title.  Batteries not rechargable.  Batteries cannot be replaced. I remember once upon a time there was a guy who railed against the very same thing in the iPod (in early-generation models, the rechargable battery had an effective life of 18 months, less with heavy use, and replacing the battery cost more than a new iPod).  He even went to the point of mocking up some iPod posters with this information on them and sticking them up wherever he could.  I thought it was a good point, but sadly one that most people wouldn’t really have the motivation to take issue with.  At the time, the life-span of the iPod was about the same time as it took the next generation of iPod to turn up.

Still, it annoys me that the Nike+ sensors have the same problem.  They are entirely self-contained, with no option to replace or recharge the battery inside.  1000 hours, depending on use, and as far as I can see there is a small but nevertheless significant number of people reporting that their sensors are getting nowhere near that target.

It annoys me because my heart rate monitor is the absolute opposite.  The strap can be opened with a coin to replace the battery; the watch needs a bit more work because of the water-proof seal inside but nevertheless it’s still a fairly simple operation that can be carried out cheaply at any repair shop.  I’ve had to replace both batteries once, after four years of regular use.  Having something that can’t have it’s back end screwed off and a new battery put in seems like a retrograde step to me.  It feels like a consumable rather than an asset, if you know what I mean.

So, for the moment, I’ll have to stick with the Tracker function on my mobile phone.  It seems to work OK, but is fiddly to set up and I need to wander back and forward for 5 minutes before it gets my location right.  It’s not perfect, but it’s fine for a free application, and  at least I can recharge the damn thing when I want to.

On a side note, I saw the iPad launched to much joy and happiness in the US.  Good for Apple.  I will admit that when my brother came to visit I was extremely jealous of his Macbook Pro but the iPad doesn’t hold the same draw.  It feels like something you’d buy and then sorely regret when version 2.0 comes out two years down the line.  Again, something you can open up and customise would be a welcome improvement.  There’s an obvious line of argument against that – that quite a large amount of customers prefer sleek lines and don’t want to pry their shit open – but that seems specious ground for arguing that we should deny them the option.