#Run366 – A mile a day

Something strange happened on All Hallows’ Eve, I’m not quite sure what really occurred but somehow I was seduced by the “dark” side and I entered a challenge that does not involve a bike…

I’ve been following the UKSportsChat community on Twitter, which is made up of four fitness groups UKRunChat, UKCycleChat, UKSwimChat and UKTriChat. A separate hour of the week is put aside for each group in which related topics are discussed.  These vary from upcoming events, nutrition, fitness, goals, advice, etc. in fact you can ask any question you like, just add the relevant hashtag i.e #UKRunChat to your tweet.  Although, you might want to turn your twitter notifications off in advance as you are likely to get a lot of responses.

You will be surprised at what gets discussed, last week it was peanut butter of all things, we even had the peanut butter manufacturer Whole Earth Foods join the conversation – whilst I’m sidetracked by peanut butter – have a look at this recipe for Peanut Butter and Banana Ice Cream. I will leave the debate about whether peanut butter is good or bad for heart disease to a later date and/or the comments section, all I will say is I need to consider fuelling for the exercise I’m going to be doing that day and everything in moderation… I think the occasional spoonful of peanut butter will be ok for me, I just need to keep an eye on my salt intake.

Sorry, I digress… back to running.  It was on Halloween night that I read about #Run366 on UKRunChat.  Several of the run chat team had met up with the runner Ron Hill, who has run at least one mile every day for the last 50 years! Following that meeting they were inspired to challenge themselves to run every day for the next year. 2016 is a leap year so #Run366 was born and they invited the run chat community to join them with the tag line “no pressure, no prizes, just a bit of fun”

I thought it sounded like an excellent challenge, one that I should be able to achieve around work commitments and would motivate me to get out regardless of the weather.

So on Sunday the 1st November I became a runner and started my #Run366 streak with an easy mile.  I’m not the fastest by any stretch of the imagination, with an average pace of 12 minute miles but its early days and I need to watch my heart rate.  Like cycling up hills, if my heart rate gets too high I need to walk for a short period.  I’m hoping that as the seasons change I will progress and the distance will increase whilst the walking decreases.

Autumn Two Mile Run
Autumn, the first of my four seasons, hopefully the pace will be faster in the winter.

I’m now nine days into my RunStreak and have covered 13 miles so far, not bad for a cyclist! To help me with the motivation and to run whatever the weather, I announced my intentions on Twitter and added it to my charity fund-raising page. This has resulted in some very kind donations, now when the snow starts falling and its minus something degrees outside it’s the thought of these donations that will ensure I’m out the door and running.

Please consider supporting me in this challenge by donating to Pumping Marvellous on my JustGiving page. It would be very much appreciated by Pumping Marvellous,  the heart patients they support across the country and myself.

Now should I follow @UKTriChat and where’s the best place to buy a wetsuit?

Remain active over the winter, get outside and enjoy yourself.

With the temperature starting to drop, the evenings getting darker and the sportive season drawing to a close many people will be thinking of packing the bike and cycling kit away for the winter.  If this is you, please think again, you can easily continue to ride throughout the winter, you just need to plan ahead.

The change in conditions means that you aren’t likely to get a personal best or be hitting your highest average speeds. So enjoy the slower pace, grab a map, a camera and go out exploring, turn down that road you always pass, find new routes and the enjoy the views and ride.

I came across this lovely little lane, with it’s tunnel effect of trees and leaf covered verges, completely by accident one day whilst out cycling.

Autumn Lane

Another day, I got to enjoy a frosty morning with the mist slowly being burnt away by the rising sun, casting long shadows as I cycled through this avenue of oak trees.

Autumn Morning

The low evening sun with it’s golden light illuminating the landscape, gives you that added incentive to climb up through the valley to find the highest vantage point.

The Meon Valley from Harvesting Lane, Butser Hill

“There is no such thing as the wrong type of weather,  just the wrong choice in clothing” – I can’t remember who said it or where I first heard it, but it is so true.

Plan ahead, check the weather forecast and dress accordingly. You may need to invest in some winter specific bike clothing, but it’s money well spent. I would say at a minimum you should have a windstopper jacket, lightweight showerproof jacket (that you can pack away into a jersey pocket), a pair of roubaix lined bib tights, overshoes, full finger gloves, neck warmer/buff and a windproof skull cap.   If you’re looking for a skull cap I would recommend the Pearl Izumi Barrier Skull Cap, it’s the best for keeping your head and more importantly your ears warm!

Talking about the wind, its generally going to be stronger during the autumn and winter months. Plan your route accordingly and head out into the wind, that way you will have a tailwind for the return leg making the second half of your ride easier. If you want a quick and easy way of checking the general wind direction and speed, take a look at Earth it’s a virtualisation of global weather conditions that is updated every three hours.

Earth: A Global Map of Weather Condtions

If you have the right clothing you can just about tackle any weather conditions, the only time I won’t ride is if it is icy.  Wear what you think is appropriate for the conditions, but think layers.  It’s easy to take off a layer if you get too hot.

I’ve even cycled to the top of Butser Hill (the highest hill in the South Downs) in the snow.

Selfie at the top of a snowy Butser Hill

Again, think layers, here I’m wearing bib tights, a thermal long sleeve base layer, a normal cycling jersey, windstopper jacket, lightweight showerproof jacket, buff and skull cap.  If anything I was probably too warm climbing, but remember it’s colder on the descent.

The top of Harvesting Lane, Butser Hill
The top of Harvesting Lane, Butser Hill

The last item to consider is your bike.  You can ride any bike over the winter, but think about the effect the water and salt will have on the components over time.  I rode my normal road bike over the first winter, but ended up having to replace the headset and a wheel (quick release skewer seized in the hub) so I generally do pack it away and use my old mountain bike over the winter unless it’s dry and sunny. The most important thing is to clean and lubricate the bike after every winter ride if you want to keep it running smoothly and maintain the components.

Harvesting Lane, Butser Hill in the Snow

With my London to Paris ride coming up in April next year I’m going to need to put the training miles in over the winter so ideally I need a road bike for the winter.  I could have gone out a bought a winter road bike, but over my time cycling I have gained a nice collection of spares as certain parts have been upgraded.

I went out I bought a second hand frameset, a cheap set of bars, a stem and a saddle for approx £95 and built up my own winter trainer bike, the only item left for me to do now is add some mudguards and maybe look for a good set of winter tyres.

My Winter Trainer
My Winter Trainer

If you haven’t got a collection of spares, look at the second hand market, there’s some great deals to be had.  Just check the frame is in good condition, look for any dings and dents, rust etc, ask the seller if it’s had any crashes and check the frame/serial number of any potential purchase against a database of stolen bikes, such as Check That Bike and Bike Register

Remember it doesn’t need to cost a fortune, it’s a bike for all those days when the conditions aren’t suitable for your best bike.

The main point is to remain active over the winter, get outside and enjoy yourself.