Archive for the ‘Jogging’ Category

REVIEW: JPMorgan Corporate Challenge

JPMorgan Corporate ChallengeIf you’re a gym-goer who lives in a major city across the globe (London, New York, Frankfurt, Sydney, Singapore or many others), you’ll have undoubtedly seen someone wearing a white t-shirt with ‘JPMorgan Corporate Challenge’ written on the front. If you’re really lucky you may have even spotted someone wearing one that fits them.

On the rare occasion that you actually spot a shirt that hugs the biceps and doesn’t flap around in the air conditioning from your local gym then go over, shake that person’s hand and ask them if they’d like a running partner. The likelihood is that this person has finished the JPMorgan CC in under 24 minutes.

Every year business moguls in their thousands turn up to one of their city’s finest parks to run the JPMorgan Corporate Challenge, an event now over 30 years old and so popular that it boasts nearly a quarter of a million entrants each year across the globe. Part of its popularity is probably down to the length of the race; a manageable 3.5 miles. This gives even the hardest working city trader time to put down his or her Blackberry a couple of times a week to train.

If you’re lucky enough to get a place then the first question you’ll be asked is whether or not you think you can run 3.5 miles in under 21 minutes. If you think you can then you’ll be given a red sticker and, on arrival, you’ll be ushered to the front of the line to be given a relatively clear run to the finish. If you don’t then be prepared for an elbow-jousting scrap for one square-foot of asphalt at every other step.

The start...

The London event is hosted at the beautiful Battersea Park and is a utter schmooze-fest. If you’re a client of one of the corporate giants attending then you’ll be in for plastic glasses and private portaloos. If not, feel free to be intimidated by the size of another company’s hospitality tent and get in the queue for the sub-£5 million-a-year toilets.

It’s a very crowded race once you’ve managed to get over the start line so don’t be expecting to be beating any PBs. You’ll be lucky to get under a minute over your usual time (the London race actually ground to a halt during one bottle-necked corner). The atmosphere makes up for this though. Each year all companies compete in a t-shirt competition and this makes for an interesting read as you progress (this year’s London event was won by Tudor Capital). There’s also an award for the fastest ‘most senior executive’ and, as you can imagine, an incredible amount of money is raised for causes across the globe ($600,000 to charities and even more for not-for-profit organisations).

At the end you’ll get the fabled JPMCC t-shirt and if you’re quick enough, you’ll get one in your size! Wear it with pride.

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4 tips on how to beat your PB:

Post by Dan Worth

Beating your personal best

Okay, so you’re a competent runner. You’re a 10km pro, perhaps have a few half marathons under you’re belt, and maybe even a marathon and, towards the end you’re usually overtaking – and that makes you feel good. But, when the time comes up after the race, there’s a nagging doubt that perhaps you could be doing better. But how? How can you shave off a few minutes here, some precious seconds there, and start to improve those times? Well, thankfully, here are some tips to help you smash that PB:

  1. Race everything

    You see that other runner plodding along 60 meters away? Yeah? She’s going to win £1,000 instead of you unless you catch her in two minutes. Oh and that tree blowing innocently in the wind? It’s going to fall on you unless you’re past it in under 45 seconds. Basically: find motivation, whatever it is, to make yourself run faster than you need to. Overtake other runners, see how long you can stay ahead of a cyclist coming up behind you, imagine a dog is about to attack you, and so on. Anything you can do to exert extra energy will help you reach a new level of fitness. And it’s fun too. This is essentially the Swedish running style known as Fartlek (Speed Play) and is a good way to have fun, and increase your speed, while out running.

  2. Push yourself

    Perhaps this will sound obvious but you’ve got to push yourself. This though, needn’t mean running like Usian Bolt and sweating more than Lee Evans, it just means easing yourself from a position of comfort while running to one of, well, a bit less comfort. Next time you find yourself ticking along nicely, gradually start to accelerate. Nothing major, but a slow, steady increase, so that after about 200 meters you’re doing a good speed. Now maintain that pace for about three minutes, or as long as you feel comfortable with, and then ease back down to a comfortable pace. Speeding up gradually and then easing back down will help to shift the boundary of your most comfortable running speed to one that’s slightly faster than before.

  3. Time yourself

    Investing in a good watch is a great way to go faster. Being able to accurately record how fast and how far you’re running while out and about provides you with a much better way of being able to assess your ability. And using the Fartlek running style (mentioned above) means you can put a specific speed and/or distance limit on each sprint you do – say, 0.4km at 4.30 minutes per km. Garmin, the most well-known brand, have watches that start at around £60 on Amazon and a little shopping around will help you see what seems best.

  4. Plan your race

    This is the time when you might feel like an obsessive runner. Pick a race that’s flat, on a smooth surface, and avoids laps. Have a good breakfast (and a banana) and make sure you’re there in plenty of time to warm up. The race itself is also something you need to plan. The first 3km could dash any hopes you have if you go too slow or get caught in a crowd, so get to a good position in the start and ensure you begin at the pace you’ve planned for. Through 3km to 8km, you want to find that rhythm you’ve built to in training and stick to it: this is where your fancy watch will come in handy, telling you your exact pace, and alerting you if you’re going to slowly, allowing you to pick up the pace before you fall too far behind. Then over the last two kilometers really push it home, using the adrenaline of the race environment, the knowledge you’re close to home, and the fact you’re about to smash your PB, to really shave off as many seconds, or indeed minutes, as you can. Hopefully, this will see you home in your best time yet; and there’s something intensely satisfying about that.

Only trouble is once… now you’ve set it you’ve got to break it again. Back out on the road you go…

Avoid laps...

Dan Worth writes  for a UK business/trade magazine company, across a range of their titles. He has also written articles for Runners World and The Guardian. You can find his blog at danielworth.blogspot.com. Dan ran the London Marathon in 2009, has a half marathon time of 1 hour 42 minutes and his 10k PB is 42:20.
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5 tips for running a 10K race:

5 tips for a top 10k race - sirjogalot.com

For those that have just started running, whether you’re looking to lose a few pounds or you’re keen on running more competitively, a 10k race is a great first challenge to really test your endurance skills.

If you’re a fully fledged marathon runner, 10k is a nice distance to keep yourself in peak physical condition during those winter months and is a fantastic platform to start improving your long-distance times. Because of this, the 10k running race is one of the most popular events in the jogging community.

Here are 5 tips that will ensure that you’ll run and finish a 10k race in the time you’re looking to:

  1. Pick your training plan:
    You’ll need to decide on the training plan for you. This will depend on how seriously you’re going take the race and how far in advance you’ve been given to train. Annoyingly, unless you’re a regular runner, it can take a number of weeks to significantly improve your distance running so if your race is in a couple of weeks then getting round will be your main goal. Runner’s World and Cancer Research UK (beginners and advanced) have some good 10k training plans that are based on how long you have until race day.

  2. iStock_000007397647XSmallChoose the right clothes:
    If you’re new to running then you might be inclined to dust off those old trainers that have been lying in the back of your closet and start pounding asphalt. Don’t. Trainers are the most important tool in a runner’s arsenal and are the one area you should never scrimp on. Visit a recommended athletics store to have your gait analysed and pick up the shoes that are best suited to your running style. Your posture will improve and you’ll avoid unnecessary injury. With shorts, shirts and socks stick to light material and try and avoid heavier fabrics like thick cotton. This will hopefully reduce friction between thighs and armpits and will ‘wick’ away sweat should you get hot. Find out what you feel the most comfortable wearing (and how much leg you’re happy with showing off) and get plenty of…

  3. Practice:
    Unlike training for a marathon, 10 kilometres is a distance that you can perform at the end of each week that’ll leave you enough time to recover for the following week. Get a few 10k practice runs under your belt and try to discover what sort of times you feel comfortable with. Some may manage to crack the sub-one-hour mark on their first attempt. Others may struggle, but you can save yourself a few surprises by having a go around your local park. Use the Google Maps distance measurement tool or the GMAP Pedometer to map out the 10k and work out some split times based on landmarks on your route. It’ll come in handy come the big day as you’ll know whether to slow down or speed up as you reach each kilometre mark. If you’ve got the wallet, there are plenty of GPS tools you can purchase, like the Garmin Forerunner.

  4. Prepare:
    It might not be a marathon, but that doesn’t mean that a good bowl of pasta the night before won’t go down a treat on race day. Stock up on carbs, pin your race number to your shirt and plan your route to the start line the night before. The last thing you want is to arrive late at the start line and exhaust yourself getting there, or worse still, miss the race!

  5. Pace yourselfPace yourself:
    It sounds like simple advice, go steady and you’ll make it all the way round, and it is simple. But the amount of times I’ve been passed in the first mile of a 10k race, only to overtake them by mile 4, is absolutely astonishing. Your aim should be to obtain the much-heralded negative split time, where you run the second half of the race faster than the first. If it’s your first race you will almost certainly get caught up in the mad rush at the start and launch into a 4-minute K pace. You know your body, so you should know your extremities. The rumors that the crowd will keep you going are only true so far. If you run too fast at the start you’ll struggle at the end and you’ll leave the race feeling disappointed and upset with yourself.

 

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REVIEW: Sony Walkman W Series

Sir Jog A Lot sells out…

James BarnardLast night I went for my first, post-marathon jog. In 4 weeks I’ll be re-running the first race event I competed in, the Bupa London 10K. I’ve set myself a target of getting round in sub-50 minutes. Last year I couldn’t quite break the 55-minute mark but after training for (and completing) a marathon I should be Señor Speedy Jogales.

First things first, I need to keep my level of fitness exactly as it is. I’d had 9 days to recover from the marathon (which I’d spent eating and drinking myself into a stupor) so I went out on a 3-mile jog around Blackheath. As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s important to have another goal or milestone to focus on after the marathon to stop yourself getting the post-marathon blues (sometimes caused from the lack of endorphins produced during regular exercise). Plus, this time Sally is running with me, so I’ll have a bit of extra encouragement.

I also had a new toy to play with. Just before the marathon I was approached by a digital PR chap who had “an opportunity that I think might interest you” and two weeks later this bad boy arrived in the post; an mp3 player designed specifically for running folk.

Herein lies the dilemma. Do I keep my integrity, send the mp3 player back and continue to write the SJAL blog posts for free (or without perks), or do I sell out, review the thing and keep it? From the title of the post you can guess what I did! To be fair, I’ve already plugged a fair few websites and running products and if this PR agency thinks that my audience (you guys) would benefit from whatever they’re trying to get in the press then I’m more than happy to review it.

So here goes… my first review:

I ran the three miles with the Sony Walkman W Series and it was the fastest three miles I’ve ever run (something like 21 minutes). Unfortunately, the reason for my speed wasn’t due to the inspiring music that had been pre-loaded on to the device, but simply because I didn’t want anyone to see me with this thing attached to my head.

Sony_W_SeriesThe mp3 player is built directly into the headphones and the cable that connects the two, wraps round the back of your head. The theory behind it is brilliant. It gets rid of the annoying dangling cables (that you’d normally have to tuck underneath your shirt) and allows quick and easy access to the controls so you can play, pause, change track and adjust volume really easily. In practice, however, the device is clunky, uncomfortable and a little unsightly. I’m quite a self-conscious person (for the longest time I had issues running in a pair of shorts that show any leg above the knee) so I felt uncomfortable wearing a bright white device* that resembles two bluetooth headsets. You can’t even cover it with a hat because your hat won’t fit!

If this doesn’t bother you (and you have the right shaped head) then you’ll love this device and you’d have no reason not to. The sound quality is brilliant. The headphones resemble the MDR inner-ear series (I have a pair of these and the sound quality is unmatched for the price) and once the device is securely in place there’s no moving it. I’m no Paula Radcliffe head-bobber but the W Series stayed in place throughout my run. It charges in 3 minutes (using a slick little docking station that comes with it) and can hold 2GB worth of music (about 500 songs).


The player also features the new ‘Zappin’ function, which will play a snippet of the chorus of each of your songs (much like a TV advert for a Ministry of Sound CD) until you tap the button and ‘Zap In’ the song you want to listen to. Clever. It sounds cheesy but it’s a very cool way of choosing songs without having a screen in front of you to see what you’re listening to and it’s a lot of fun to play around with.

My advice, try before you buy. The cable that connects the two earpieces doesn’t have much give and if your head isn’t quite the right size then it’ll feel odd and you’ll be constantly trying to adjust it, rather than focusing on your run. I was so busy trying to adjust it that I nearly locked myself out of my flat.  It’s a shame because the concept and the functionality works so well.

Sir Jog A Lot rating: 3/5

* The W Series also comes in black, purple, pink and yellow

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Flora London Marathon 2009: Race Day – part 2

I knew the next section of the course very well, having run it many times before during my training runs. This, however, was not an advantage at all. The Highway, Westferry Road and Eastferry Road are long stretches of tarmac that just seem to keep going and have no poignant landmarks (aside from Canary Wharf in the distance). Although the crowds were brilliant, the numbers had started to drop off and it was down Westferry Road (the Isle of Dogs section) that I started to feel nauseous. At mile 16 the heat became too much for me.

MS Society cheering point: Canary WharfAs I turned the corner to travel back up towards Canary Wharf I began to feel faint and my vision started to blackout. It came over me very quickly and I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I didn’t want to start walking as I knew how hard it would be to start a jog back up again but something needed to change. For the next two minutes I ploughed my way along at barely a jog until I was seriously concerned that I was going to pass out.

I’m still really not sure what the problem was. There was a possibility that I was having a hypoglycemic attack. The symptoms were similar (I’d recognise them easily as I have type-1 diabetes) but the shakes weren’t as prominent as when hypoglycemia sets in. Still feeling very unsettled and sick, I began to walk. I became very upset and disappointed in myself. The hardest part to handle was that I knew exactly how far I had left to go and could visualise the route clearly in front of me. I had 10 miles left to cover and just couldn’t picture myself finishing. I began to think about the speech that Monty Halls had given in the Justgiving meet-up and how, later that day, I would have all the time in the world to look back and reflect on my performance. I knew I’d be disappointed but said to myself, “You’ll also remember how shit you’re feeling right now!”

Right at that moment, another MS Society runner ran up from behind me, tapped me on the shoulder and said,

“Come on Sir Jog A Lot, you can do better than that! The best of luck to you.”

… and the second he went past I started to run again. I’d only walked for around 30 seconds but it had felt like a lifetime. I approached the next drink station, grabbed a cool bottle of water, took one gulp and poured the rest over my head. This was the first ever time I’d done that and the feeling was invigorating. I immediately felt much better and picked up the pace again. I wasn’t quite at 10-minute miles but I was running and that’s all that mattered. From then on it was the support from the crowd that kept me running right until the finish. It sounds cliched but I don’t think I’d have achieved anywhere near 26 miles if it weren’t for the support from the crowd, my friends and my family along the route. If you ever do the marathon then my one piece of advice is have someone there with you. When you hit that wall, which I well and truly had done, you’ll need their support more than ever.

Over the next 2 miles I was cheered on by an old school friend who I haven’t seen for yonks, my friends and family at the next MS Society cheering point and a fellow blogger who recognised the ‘Sir Jog A Lot’ on the back of my vest and wished me luck. She had an eventful race. This picture was taken at Canary Wharf.

Canary WharfYou can see the relief in my eyes at seeing some familiar faces. This picture also gives an idea of the casualties there were that day. I’m too delirious to notice the poor bugger to the left of me who was being so violently sick and was in so much pain that the paramedics could hardly touch him. According to the BBC, 6,038 runners needed medical attention that day. It was no 2007 heatwave but it was pretty toasty.

By now I’d started to feel a little cramp set in at my groin and I had the beginnings of sunburn (which would later turn in to full-blown strap marks across my shoulders) but I was really enjoying the experience. London sometimes has a reputation of being a grumpy and impersonal city. Not today. There was not one ounce of discontent or negativity and the whole of London had come together to cheer on a group of runners, who most had never met before or have any affiliation, with as much passion and vigour as a father watching his son score his first goal for his school football team. It was awe inspiring.

At mile 23 the noise was deafening. The walls of the city buildings echoed the screams and cheers from the spectators and it was one of the best moments of my life. I was told later on that one of my friends spotted me at this point and they were screaming my name but I couldn’t hear.

At mile 25 I was plum-tuckered. The last 1.2 miles went incredibly slowly. I must have run a 13 or 14-minute-mile and every inch of me wanted to walk. The MS Society post-race reception was along Birdcage Walk, two turns from the finish line, and I saw my supporters one final time (they did incredibly well to spot me three times during the race). I didn’t quite have enough for a sprint finish but I made it over the line to join an elite group of people who can say…

“I’ve run the London Marathon.”

Time: 4:45:51

MS Society post-race reception

Not the best time and certainly a very long way from my initial target of sub-4 hours (yeah right) but I was over the moon to have finished. The goodie bag was stacked full of post-race treats and it wasn’t exactly light (sports drink, milkshake, apple, Jelly Babies, creams, t-shirt, foil blanket and much more), which made the trip back round to the MS Society post-race reception all the more fun!

I was provided with a sports massage from two burly blokes, the only two men in a room full of female masseurs (I think Lady Jog A Lot had been in and had a word before I got there). They also interviewed me for a video that’ll be used to entice others to run the marathon for the MS Society (link to be posted as soon as it becomes available).

Would I do it again?

You bet your ass I would!

Very proud...

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Eager or Anxious?

Watch out for me on SundayI am now fully immersed in marathon excitement/frustration/anxiety. There are 4 more days to go until this is all over and every part of me is wishing Sunday would hurry up and get here. The lack of exercise is driving me slightly loopy. I’m constantly fidgeting, doodling and finding every excuse to move around. Today I ran up the stairs at work as fast as I could like a little school boy, taking three steps at a time. I even jumped ahead with my checklist and bought my 7 DVDs to watch on Saturday today. One of which was Run Fat Boy Run.

Although I’m ready and raring to go, a side of me is wishing I had longer. I have no idea what I’m going to do with myself after the marathon is over and done with and apparently I’m not alone with this feeling. There is actually a condition called post marathon depression, where a person, instead of feeling relief and a sense of achievement, feels empty and falls into a lull. I’m sure I’ll be feeling the former, plus I have a 10k race booked in after (in which I’m hoping to break the 50-minute mark).

Over the past few days all I’ve done is research the London Marathon in a bid to get a feel for what the experience is going to be like. I don’t want any surprises coming my way on Sunday. In doing so I stumbled across the London Marathon media pack, which contains a multitude of brilliant facts about the marathon – like the following:

  • The most money raised for charity by a single marathon runner was £1,841,138
  • This year over 150,000 people applied to run the marathon, around 50,000 normally get accepted and around 36,000 actually start
  • The most common profession amongst this year’s runners is teaching/education
  • 159 of the runners will be celebrating their birthday on race day
  • 300 litres of blue paint will be used to paint the line on the course that represents the shortest distance
  • 750,000 bottles of water will be distributed throughout the course
  • The fastest time run in a Santa outfit is 3:12:27!

However, this is the most worrying fact…

  • Number of urinal bays at the start = 400

Lets say that out of the 36,000 people that normally start, 20,000 odd are men (this year the number of men out-weigh the women at around 3-1). Lets also assume that every man will need the loo at least once during the build up to the start. That equates to 50 men per urinal! This is probably why the London Marathon magazine in the starters pack contains this picture…

My garden is near the start line!

I’ve always been one for toilet humour.

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The Justgiving Meet Up:

The Justgiving pre FLM meet upIf you write a blog for long enough you eventually come in to contact with people who share the same interests, are going through what you’re going through and have advice and tips of their own. Since starting this blog in January I’ve had a total of 34 comments posted after the articles I’ve written. Most of these are from people who are either running in the 2009 London Marathon or have completed a marathon before. A fair few of these have blogs of their own.

Last night Justgiving gave a few of us the chance to meet up before the big race day to share tips and advice on our marathon training and, more crucially, fundraising. It was at the RIBA in London, which is a 20 minute walk from the office so Sally and I went along.

On entry I was immediately recognised by three people. Sophie and Heather from Justgiving spotted me straight away as they were among those who chose the video as the winning entry for the Justgiving video competition. Sophie has been a big help so far during my fundraising, helping to get an extra £120 towards my sponsorship (£100 for the video win and £20 for the interview). The third was Dan Worth, a fellow blogger and a journalist who lives in the London area. He quickly became used to basking in my blogging fame as the paps spotted us…

@salleeann, @sirjogalot and @danworth

…I wasn’t recognised by anyone else.

We sat down to hear our four speakers.

  1. Monty Halls – conservationist, TV presenter and former Royal Marines officer.
    Monty’s a professional public speaker so obviously had the room engaged. It was a refreshing talk as, although he has an incredible base level of fitness, this is his first marathon and he’s new to the whole experience. Monty’s great advice is that your body has the potential to do a marathon but your mind is what can stop you. He says that if you decide to pull out then you’ll have the rest of your life to think about that decision (i.e. when you’re feeling better back home). He was more eloquent than that. When asked, what will he be eating the night before the race, his answer was, “My entry form…”
    .
  2. Sally Kettle – twice Atlantic rower (once with her Mum) and her running partner Vanessa Gale.
    Sally has run the marathon before and managed to complete it with an injury. Her advice is to enjoy it as much as possible. You could spend the whole run wishing it was over but when it’s finished you’ll miss the experience. She also, during her very passionate speech, gave a quick fundraising tip. People will struggle to give away their money unless they’re getting something back in return. So selling something dirt cheap (her example was a chocalte eclair) for a high price (she charged £1-per-sweet) is a great way to get some extra funds for her charity. Sally raised over £100,000 for her first row across the Atlantic.
    .
  3. Simon Foster – Justgiving’s top London fundraiser (a whacking £28,000 so far!).
    Simon has managed to raise so much for his charity (Teenage Cancer Trust) by having such a compelling story behind his fundraising. Read his Justgiving page to find out more but he had the room in complete silence while he was telling it and it was obviously a very tough story for him to tell. I checked his JG page today and I can spot at least 4 healthy donations from people that attended this event so it speaks for itself. As his fundraising grew, the more it took off. He organised a golf day and Ashley Cole donated his football boots, all fantastic ways to raise cash. He has, however, spent a fair few bob in reciprocal donations!

All in all a smashing event and the JG team were, of course, tweeting the whole thing as it went along. The night ended with a private screening of the award-winning Sir Jog A Lot video. I don’t want to float my own boat or anything but…'Howls' of laughter...

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