Posts Tagged ‘BUPA London 10k’

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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Checklist:

Looking forward to it...I was a bit of a naughty boy this weekend. My Uncle (who normally lives in Canada) was in London and I couldn’t refuse an opportunity to go and have a few beers on Saturday night. As I didn’t have to run far the next day (50 minutes easy pace), I didn’t think it would do me any harm. On Sunday morning I went out and, on an empty stomach and a hangover, ran 10k in 54 minutes. I felt surprisingly sprightly!

Looking back on it, it probably wasn’t the best idea to push myself that hard the week before the race and I was feeling decidedly guilty today. I’d never have forgiven myself if I’d have injured myself with one week to go, but it’s an incredibly difficult situation to be in. I’ve spent 15 weeks in training to get to this point and have become used to five runs of a healthy distance a week. To go from that kind of regime to running 20 minutes here, 10 minutes there, leaves you feeling a bit useless and it’s very difficult to relax. I don’t know what I’m going to be like after the marathon, but at the moment I can’t sit still! I’m worried I’m going to take all of this energy, run like a 4-year-old at the start of the marathon and burn out after 5 miles.

To take my mind off exercise I’ve come up with a checklist for this week:

Tuesday – (10 minutes at race pace with a warm up/cool down)

  • Buy Compeed
  • Get home and run around the park at Blackheath

Wednesday – (30 mins very easy)

  • Collect remaining sponsorship from office co-workers who haven’t paid yet (Wednesday is pay day)
  • Go to gym and watch The Simpsons while running on treadmill
  • Write blog post

Thursday – (Rest or 25 mins easy)

  • Buy seven new DVDs
  • Go to gym, run and say goodbye to everyone until next year
  • Put running number registration form in my bag so I don’t forget it for Friday and make sure I have my driving license

Friday – (Rest)

  • Print off race course map for family and mark points to meet them (remembering to decide on which side of the road to be on)
  • Go to Marathon Expo to pick up running number and timing chip (using registration form and driving license)
  • Buy ‘Marathon Survival Kit’ from Expo using voucher on page 13 of Marathon News magazine
  • Visit Justgiving* stand, Running Free** stand and Bupa London 10,000*** stand
  • Eat big bowl of pasta
  • Write blog post

Saturday – (15 mins very, very easy jog)

  • Get up early and do run (to tire myself out and fall asleep faster in the evening)
  • Cut toenails
  • Fit timing chip to trainers
  • Fill out the back of my running number and pin it to my vest
  • Plan where to meet family at end of race
  • Watch all seven DVDs back-to-back
  • Eat the biggest bowl of pasta I’ve ever seen
  • Give family MS Society cheering pack (equipped with balloons, inflatable sticks and flags)
  • Sleep

Sunday – (Race day!)

  • Eat baked beans on brown toast and one banana
  • Have two Lucozade Sport pouches (one at 8am and one at 9am)
  • Do 20 push-ups to get the guns looking plumper before donning running vest
  • Walk to start line (sorry guys, I live 30 seconds from it)
  • Get interviewed for MS Society video
  • Say goodbye to friends and family
  • Take empty plastic bottle
  • Hide the fact that you are peeing into empty plastic bottle under orange rain mac
  • Throw bottle to side of road
  • GO!

* To thank them for all of their efforts over the past few months
** Running Free magazine have agreed to do a small piece on me for their post marathon edition
*** I’ll be running the Bupa London 10k a month after the marathon

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Marathon training begins:

…as it seems to have done for a lot of others!

Last week marked week 1 of a 16-week training programme for the intermediate runner. As an intermediate runner I should be comfortable with ‘4-5 hours a week and have previously completed a marathon or 10k race’. Last year I ran in my first race, the BUPA London 10k, and ran a fairly respectable time of 55 minutes.

Before Monday I hadn’t run until before the Christmas break so I’m feeling a little soggy around the mid-section. I’d normally combat this by ‘sucking in’ but trying to do that while running for 1 hour+ is a joke. To be fair, it’s not like I’ll be grabbing any phone numbers as I whisk by (crawl by).

I’d managed to secure a place in the London Marathon 2009 back in November. I applied through the open ballot registration immediately after the 2008 marathon but apparently you either have to be Gordon Ramsey or have run in a marathon a few times before to even dream of getting a place this way. The 10k I ran was for Diabetes UK (I’m a type 1 diabetes sufferer) and I raised just under £600 for them but that didn’t count at all and I couldn’t secure one of their 80 places. I then managed to secure a place running for the MS Society (my sister-in-law suffers from MS), but not before I was denied a place at first and had to be put on their ‘reserve’ list. I thought the hard part was supposed to be the marathon itself!

This week I’ve done 4 hours training. 2 of those were on the treadmills in my local gym. I love running on the treadmill, especially when someone glides up next to me all confident, runs for 20 minutes and walks off bright red in the face, breathing so hard that his personal trainer can hear him while he’s creeping off to the changing room for a cigarette (I would have used the word ‘fag’ but my gym is gay friendly). I look over all smug out of the corner of my eye and mouth ‘pah’.

But the 2 hours of outdoor running leave me feeling pretty pathetic. My attire consists of a grey hoodie, jogging bottoms and a black hat (I look like Rocky) but in the area where I live (Blackheath – the starting place of the London Marathon) there are some supreme athletes. They must be on the same training schedule as me because the number of joggers I’ve seen this week has tripled, and their pace is twice that of mine. I see one of these joggers every morning on my way to work, he passes me at the same point on the pavement. He’s always bounding past and it’s gotten to the point where we exchange the slightest of nods as if to say,

“Morning Ronald McRunner. Legging it again today I see?”
“Yes, I’m awesome.”

I either need a jogging partner (to keep pace with) or I’ll have to start following one of these supreme joggers around as they run. If I’m not in prison for stalking this week I’ll let you know how I’m getting on.

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