P25K – Week 6

30th September 2018 — 1

Run 1 (24/09/2018)

After the weekend storm Monday started with bright blue skies. I was out walking the pup at 8am in misty fields, the sun evaporating the morning dew, quite spectacular. I managed to get out running just after lunch, the pup going into a post food coma. Walking up to the park in a black t-shirt it was pleasantly warm for the time of year. There were more squirrels than people in the park and with a lack of threats they were all on the ground foraging.

Once around the field field to warm up and inventory where today’s debris is. I’m here to run 3 km, part of me is thinking I should try for 5 after the success of the last run. I finally convince myself to stick to the plan and set off at a slightly quicker pace knowing I’ll get over the idea fairly quickly if I start putting in some sub 8-minute/km laps.

The first lap is 7 min 14 secs, well I know I’m not going to be doing 5 km now, even if I still wanted to. Which lo and behold I don’t, as I start back up the incline, breathing hard already. Amazing what 7 minutes running can do to focus the mind. I perform the reset trick, cool only 2 laps to go, easy.

The second km is slightly slower 7 min 30 secs, I know I’m outside of any PB. Reset. One lap to go and I’ll do the last 100 metres heading home out of the park. This is not a conversational pace and I’m panting all the way round. Finally get to 3 km last lap in 7 min 24 secs, for a total time of 22m 24s, 40 seconds off my PB. Oh well one for another day.


I’m sure this running business is meant to get easier, but at times especially on these quicker runs it honestly doesn’t feel like it. I’m starting to come to the conclusion that the only thing that is changing is the time and distance the feeling of fatigue and effort required to keep going is the same as that first 60 seconds in C25K W1D1. The last km of my last 5k was easier than the last km of this 3k, what a difference a minute per km quicker pace can make. Wednesday is the next run and the target is 5k.

Run Rating : 

Run 2 (26/09/2018)

It’s another twilight run, in the most ideal running conditions I’ve ever had. No wind, not too warm, not too cold, perfect Goldilock running conditions. I probably won’t see weather like this again this side of Xmas, so best to make the most of it.

Today’s run is 5k and I’m getting my game face on as I take the usual warm up walk around the park. Looks like the keep fit session is kicking off at 7 judging by the number of people congregating on the green.  Other than that a couple of other runners and a bunch of kids on bikes, it’s a fairly standard evening. There’s still quite a bit of debris littering the path but not as bad as last time and strangely not a squirrel in sight.

The first km, I spend the first few hundred metres dialling it back, shorter strides, I’m here for the distance and I always have a tendency to set off to quickly. I realise at the 1 km mark I’ve probably been a little too conservative with a very slow 8 min 41 sec. I should be targeting 8 min.

Onto the 2nd km, I’m still doing my reset mental trick, just got to run 4km. It’s starting to get dark, the fitness club has kicked off, I can see them doing their warm up runs back and forth on the green as I pass at a snails pace. The lap time comes in at 8 min 58 sec, damn that’s really slow. It’s also a first, I usually over compensate in the other direction after a slow lap, I suspect it’s got more to do with the failing light.

3rd km, reset! Cool only 2 laps to go. It really is a silly trick but it seems to work, I think it’s confusing my inner voices and prevents them from building up a head of steam. It’s getting very dark now, my eyes are trying to adapt to the low light conditions. I can’t make out any of the detail on the path anymore, just a vague outline.

That was until I started back down the park and find myself staring into the blinding halogen lights the fitness club have rigged up. It’s blown my tentative night vision, I’m literally running into the light and I can’t see a bloody thing. I just about manage to get around to the 4km mark after a bit of stumbling in a slightly quicker 8 min 33 secs.

Onto the last lap, this is getting insanely difficult, I stumble over something, a branch I think, it could have been a squirrel. I’ll never know. I’ve got Rag’n’Bone Man Human perfectly in sync:

“Maybe I’m foolish
Maybe I’m blind
Thinking I can see through this
And see what’s behind
Got no way to prove it
So maybe I’m blind
But I’m only human after all”

Uncanny, made me laugh and lifted my spirits, once more up the incline, probably, I can only tell by navigating using distant house/street lamps like stars, that and the fact it’s reassuringly harder to run in this direction.

Around the top of the park and it’s back into the closing scene of close encounters again, I honestly cannot see a thing I’m running on pure instinct now. I decide I’m going to have to do this by ear and unhook the headphones in the desperate hope I’ll hear someone before I run flat into them. I finally complete the last km in 8 min 25, ironically the fastest lap and I didn’t even see half of it.

I think it’s my 2nd slowest 5k at 44 min 11 sec, but I don’t care, I’m just amazed I did it in the dark without falling over or punting a fox. I think I’m either going to have to start running earlier in the day or get a headlight. Mind you a headlight wouldn’t have helped with the fitness UFO landing on the green.

I actually lost my bearings completely in the warm down walk, wandered off the path and it took me a good half a minute to relocate it. I honestly expected Richard Dreyfus in a red jump suit to wander past me into the light, all it was missing was a John Williams soundtrack.


The only advantage of running in the dark is it occupies the mind, even my negative voices were lost for critical input, like terrified passengers they were along for the ride. My left knee was aching again in the warm down, not major but still a bit of a concern. The next run is 3km, I think I’ll take it a little easier, but maybe not this easy.

I don’t avidly read about running, just doing it is tough enough but a few extraordinary articles popped up on my radar over the last couple of weeks, that are worth sharing:

  • I’ve been following with envy and astonishment the weekly running reports from Chelsea’s DancingRunner blog, She appears to have a constitution somewhat similar to a shark in that she seems to need to keep running just to live. It’s a fascinating insight into the hard work that goes on behind the scenes ahead of some of more insane race events.
  • An ex work colleague posted this article on female trail runners. Madness, 106 miles with an elevation gain of 32’000 ft, that’s practically the cruising height of a commercial jet. Just reading about it gave me a nosebleed.
  • finally Stephen over at FracturedFaith posted about his latest gruelling marathon experience through terrain that’s so epic it’s the backdrop for Game of Thrones.

What is up with these people? I’m under no illusions about my own running, I suspect I’ll never make the start line, let alone the finish line of a marathon and I can guarantee you I won’t be completing a 100+ mile trek up a mountain a few months after child birth. If I do the headline won’t be about the distance.

My own limitations aside, I find these articles hugely inspirational. I admire anyone who knowingly picks the tougher path, even more so when their motivation is just to see where it leads, to see how far they can go. All the time there are people pushing the envelope of what’s possible it gives me faith that in the long run (pun intended) the human race (not intended) will find a way through the many challenges we face.

More practically these and similar articles provide direct support in my own running by giving me pause for thought and the necessary kick up the arse when I’m bitching about doing the next kilometre.

Run Rating : 

Run 3 (30/09/2018)

I should have run last Friday, but it’s been a bit of a mad and busy end to the week. I ran out of hours in the day on Friday. I’d been toying with a cold for the last few days but between copious amounts of fresh air dog walking, pints of orange juice and a mindset of not having time to be ill, I’d seemed to be keeping it at bay. But the exertions of Friday’s long planned ABBA tribute night out with friends, singing myself hoarse in a warm packed room was the last straw. Saturday I was definitely under the weather, not that the pup cared he still wanted his walk.

Sunday after another 5k walk with the pup through glorious sunny autumnal woodland and a touch of breakfast I decided to watch the Russian F1 race. I’m not sure why I bother anymore the outcome was a foregone conclusion, and when it required team orders, it ruined what little enjoyment was left. Crunch time, I can pass out on the couch or get my arse to the park, the park won out, just!

Walking up it was cold, no colder than the previous thew runs but I’m feeling it today. I stupidly decided not to wear my new running jacket thinking it would be warm enough. Normally it would be. My legs feel well recovered after 3 days not running, encouragingly even my left knee is feeling fine. I’m having to clear my chest a few times before kicking off on what should be a quick 3km run.

First km, I’m deliberately running a quicker pace than normal as I’m only out here for 3km. My spirits were raised by the sight of a service dog playing fetch with it’s blind owner. Luckily his helper managed to point his master in the right direction before I got a rubber ring in the face. If that doesn’t put a smile on your face I don’t know what will, nice to see these tireless helpers get some fun time as well. Up the incline and I’m struggling to catch my breath, not surprising the first lap is a silly 6 min 47 secs.

Second lap, I’ve slowed the pace down but I’m not recovering heading to the bottom of the park and by the time I hit the 2km mark at 7 min 11 sec I’m done. I could have done the last km but I would be puffing and panting all the way round, it took me several minutes to recover as it was. It’s another failed run, not because I was under the weather but more about not matching my pace to my capabilities. Not the first time or I suspect last. Ironically enough it’s an Endomondo PB for the “12 minute test” at 1.76 km.

I had to lookup what the 12 minute test or Cooper test was about, turns out it’s used a general measure of fitness (every day’s a school day). I managed to literally scrape into average for my gender/age group, not bad considering there wasn’t a column for how far I would have managed 3 months ago.


I seem to be having more success with dog walking (40km) than running (10 km). I’m also struggling to get 4 runs in a week, it just leaves no wiggle room for the inevitable dramas of life. I was reviewing my progress this week when this article from the theblogrunner popped into my inbox, talk about timing. It raised some interesting points and got me thinking about what am I trying to prove and to whom with my own running?

I started C25K with the broad goal of just getting fitter, and finished being able to run for 30 minutes. It took me a few more weeks to secure my first 5k in 45 minutes. At which point I’d achieved what I set out to prove to myself, that I could get fit and I could run a 5k. So what am I still trying to prove?

Right now I’m trying to prove to myself that I can run 5k consistently, every time I want to. My post C25K run blogs are a testament to inconsistency and I’ve documented the many ways I have failed along with the occasional lessons I’ve learned along the way. For right now my goal as Eminem succinctly says is to “make me do what I put my mind to”. Although I hope that some time in the not too distant future I can find peace with my running and just run, not to prove anything to anyone (including myself), but just to do it for fun without the need to bully and blackmail myself.

Run Rating : 




P25K – Week 5

23rd September 2018 — 0

Run 1 (17/09/2018)

New week, new start and another chance to hit my 16k a week target with 2 x 3k and 2 x 5k. I was out with the pup in the morning, we covered a very leisurely 5k through the woods in what is likely to be one of the last great sunny days of the year, a truly enjoyable walk. I managed to fit the run in the early evening and it was still pleasantly warm.

This evenings run would be 3k as I needed to pickup some groceries and be back home to fire up the BBQ ahead of a friend popping around and it was already going to be tight. I took an extended once round the park warm up as it seemed to help last time. There’s an outside gym class on the green on Monday’s and they where setting up what looked like a bunch of interval training obstacles, lots of fit looking people turning up.

So I set off with the sun just dipping down beyond the horizon behind me. The first km is going well at 7 min 28 secs, it’s feeling comfortable. I’ve also put together a new playlist based on various recommendations and most of the lap “The Distance” by Cake was playing. It’s a track/group I’ve never heard before and it’s a stunning running track, I was literally gliding around.

Second km and it’s now getting dark in the park and the temperature has dropped, great. Another new track/group “Runnin'” by Sinkane and I just gotta keep on runnin, runnin. I’m so glad I’ve mixed up my playlist this is actually fun. Just as I pass the gym class a hundred people sprint at me (on their first exercise) which made me laugh and gave me a boost.

The last 3rd km and I’m feeling pretty good, I’m getting out of breath at the top of each incline but easily recovering half way back down. I’ve also got a really nice rhythm going and a stonking new playlist. This lap features “Demons” by Fatboy Slim featuring the fantastic voice of Macy Gray. I finish off the 3rd km in 7 min 21, I’ve checked the time, I’m out of it, I’m going to be late as it is. Annoyingly I actually want to keep on running, I’m well up for another 2k. Sods law! I run to the shop instead.


Never underestimate the power of music, especially the right music, it can literally carry you around. I’d been listening to the same stale playlist for the last month and it’s fair to say it had lost some of it’s potency, mixing it up made a huge difference. Fresh new tracks, make the time pass far quicker by occupying the mind. I hope I can recreate the performance for my next run, I’ll ensure I have time to do the extra 2k.

It’s that time of the year when the nights seem to come crashing in, I realised tonight I’m going to spend a lot of time running in the dark. By the time the sun returns I should have 5k mastered.

Run Rating : 

Run 2 (19/09/2018)

Spent a good part of the morning walking the dog around the local and park and then headed back there just after lunch with the intention of running my first 5k of the week. It was stormy conditions, very gusty and intermittent rain showers, luckily it wasn’t that cold. The park was needless to say fairly empty.

Based on my last performance, I’ve done an extra warmup lap around the park, all the time watching the weather deteriorating and thinking I should start my run it’ll be pouring down shortly. I’ve got my new playlist and I’m intent on picking up where I left off on the last run, i.e. to feel fresh at 3k.

The first km it starts to rain, I’m sheltered under the trees for over half the run so it’s all good. Until half way round and I hit the full force of the wind on the climb back up the park. This is my first experience of having to run into a headwind and let’s just say it ironically takes the wind out of your sails. It’s not like I’m evening get the benefit 0f the wind at my back on the other half of the park as it’s sheltered. In spite of the wind I’ve managed to knock the first km out in 7 min 11 secs. Which for me is recklessly quick, but I’m feeling ok so I push on.

The 2nd km is going fine until I hit the wind again, this time it’s even stronger, in fact it’s so strong the sweat of my forehead is being blown into a horizontal bead of water dousing whoever is unlucky to be passing me on the right. It’s taking quite a bit of effort to get back up the incline and I’m feeling fatigued by the time I’ve hit the top of the park. I’m panting wildely and I can feel it’s taken quite a bit out of my legs, my stride has started to shorten to compensate. Worryingly my pace is 7 min 18 secs which is nigh on suicidal, especially in these conditions.

By the time I hit the 3rd km and the windswept incline again, I’m really not enjoying it and I have all the telltale symptoms of an imminent blow out. I’m having to dig way to deep to get back to the top of the park, my stride now down to baby steps and my breathing out of control, I finally crest the top of the hill. My stomach is doing cartwheels and I suddenly realise I’ve got a bad case of flatulence to have to sort out, that’s another first. So I occupy my time on the down hill section trying to let out a few sneaky ones in a force gale wind, who’s going to tell.

Crunch time, do I have the will to pull myself together and push on for the last 2k or am I going to head to the pits. Needless to say it was the latter, I’d had enough. The last 3km amazingly (or maybe because of) my  flatulence and fatigue was 7 min 21 secs. But I was spent that last km was probably one of the hardest I’ve ever ran.

I’m frustrated that yet again I’ve not made the distance, so much for getting to 3km feeling fresh, more like the walking dead. I check the Endomondo app to stop the run and realise it’s a new 3km PB, shaving almost 40 seconds of the last PB in August. Well that’s something especially in these conditions.



I think I’m going to give myself a pass on this one. I’m still not happy that I failed to manage the pace correctly but on the other hand it was in the face of the first storm of the season, so to come out of it with a PB at least I did some work, even if it was the wrong work.

It of course leaves me with little wiggle room to hit my 16km goal for the week, I’ll need to do 5k on the last 2 runs. The only good news is Friday’s weather is looking better and now I know to run round the park in the other direction if I want the wind against my back.

Run Rating : 

Run 3 (21/09/2018)

I started this run with some trepidation since my last run my left knee had generally ached, the night before it had a worrying stabbing pain when bent beyond a particular point. As a teenager I managed to do some serious damage to my knee while long jumping. I remember it vividly as that evening I watched my first true horror film Alien with my father. The film was made doubly traumatic by the searing pain from my knee at every jump scare. It had taken me several months to recover and a lifetime to get over the movie, even to this day I have an odd bony protrusion on my knee cap. So it’s fair to say I’m a little bit paranoid when it comes to knee pain.

The park was getting dark by the time I started my warm up walk. I’ve come to the conclusion that the extra 10 minutes fast walking really does help, it helps me at least get my mind on the job at hand. At this time of year it is also allowing me to identify and make mental notes of the running hazards, with the recent storm the paths are strewn with debris. It was still pretty windy, but I know from the last run if I go clockwise I’ll have the wind to my back when it matters.

So I set off. I need to average 8 min/km if I’m going to get through this, so I’m dialling back my pace, adjusting my stride to smaller steps. First time round in 8 min 4 secs, spot on pace and feeling pretty good.

I’ve got a new mental trick to try. As I tick off the laps, I’m going to mentally reset, forget everything I’ve run so far and imagine I’m just starting the run, it seems to work – 4 laps is definitely easier to run than 5 laps.

The second km goes well, it’s a good pace as I’m not getting the digging deep feeling in the pit of my stomach on the incline. The second km is 8 min 9 seconds, pacing is going well. Reset. I just need to run 3 laps, that’s my speciality.

By the 3rd km the park is getting pretty dark and it is mostly unlit, I really am having to use my mental map of the route to dance around the branches and other debris. I notice I’m getting very little benefit from the wind at my back on the way back down. The 3rd km is 8 min 20 sec, slow and steady. It’s crunch time the 3km mark is usually my make or break point, my weakest point mentally on these runs. Reset. Cool I just need to run 2km that’s easy.

The 4th km could have been easier, I have to swerve to avoid a Jack Russell that then decides to chase after me nipping at my calf. I try to get my breathing back under control, I’m laughing too much. A little bit further and this time a German Shepherd on a long leash decides it’s going to sniff a post on the other side of the path, the poor owner desperately tries to pull it back, to no avail. I manage to dive out of the way at the last moment. Finally in the near darkness there’s a family walking home, their young daughter on her first bike slams her breaks on to avoid going into my path and then accidentally let’s go and ends up slowly rolling into my new path. Not a problem I’m getting quite good at this obstacle course. All in all an eventful lap, at 8 min 16 seconds. Reset.

Wow all I have to do is run 1km that’s a cake walk, I don’t even feel tired and more importantly my knee is feeling fine. By this point I’m running more from memory than sight with large parts of the park in pitch blackness, I’ll need to start thinking seriously about what winter running is going to mean. The last km is uneventful the only things in the park now are me and snoring squirrels.

5km done the last lap in 8 min 8 secs and it was easy. In fact it’s the easiest 5km I’ve ever done. The time isn’t going to trouble my previous PB at 40 min 58 secs it’s almost 3 minutes slower, but the difference is I feel fresh as opposed to dead. Fresh enough to run home another 0.7km, the only thing that stopped me going further was concerns for pushing my luck with my knee.


I’m writing this the morning after the run and amazingly my knee feels fine, better than it had going into the run, which is hugely encouraging. The reset mental trick really helped, I spent most the run (after the first lap) thinking what remained was easy.

I have one more run this week it needs to be another 5k to hit my 16km target. I’ve realised I have a scheduling problem, I want to run every other day, that’s 4 days a week in a 7 day week. If I don’t keep to a mon-sun then my accumulative stats in Endomondo don’t work properly. Basically the maths just don’t work. I either end up running 4 runs and then 3 runs in alternate weeks or stick to 4 days a week and not have a break between them. I’m not hugely happy with either option. My reliability is not helping, running 3k/5k/3k/5k would help by spreading out the distance runs, but when I flake out and leave myself back to back 5k’s it compounds the issue.

Having given it some thought I’m going to stick to 4 days a week, but if I fail the distance it’s a failed run. I’ll add the distance to the week, but I’m not going to push the problem down the line and try and get it back later. That will also force me to commit properly to runs.

I want to see this week out, so I’m still planning for 5k tomorrow. From Monday however I’ll stick to the new plan with a 3km run. I honestly can’t believe how much effort it’s taking just to organise this, surely it should be about the running.

Run Rating : 

Run 4 (23/09/2018)

Just like last week, today’s run didn’t happen. It poured down all morning and by the early afternoon I was fending off a crazed pup desperate for entertainment, So instead I took the pup for a long walk and play in the local dog paddock where he got more than just a little bit muddy. Much to the annoyance of Wen as he was booked in for his next puppy training class an hour after I finally dragged him back home.

This week’s total effort is a little over 11 km’s, pretty much on par with last week. That said at least I managed this week’s distance with a little less messing around than last week (3 runs vs 4) and secured 3 new PB’s, so some progress:

Stat Value Date
12-minute test 1.76km 1/9/2018
Farthest distance 5.72km 21/9/2018
1 km 06 min 38 sec 1/9/2018
1 mile 10 min 56 sec 1/9/2018
3 km 21 min 44 sec 19/9/2018
3 mile 37 min 15 sec 7/9/2018
5 km 38 min 30 sec 7/9/2018
Most calories burned 859 kcal 21/9/2018

I’ll pick this up tomorrow (Monday) with a 3km run.


Who will save us from the AI?

18th September 2018 — 0


So here’s something that a.mused me the other day and should serve as a cautionary tale on the rise and limitations of AI. Out of the blue, my partner says that my blog had become inaccessible from her workplace.

AnimalsDog Days

Archer – Weeks 9-10

18th September 2018 — 0



I’ll be honest, I’m starting to get a little worried. Every seasoned dog owner I meet takes one look at Archer and having learnt his age (4 months) pronounces “He’s going to be a big one”. Typically they say it in a laughing knowing voice while they appease their own monstrous Cerberus. Personally I prefer big dogs but this is starting to get a bit ominous.

Bad Wolf

It’s not helped by the fact that he’s starting to bulk out in the last couple of weeks, and put on some real weight which he loves to throw around. All of that weight is muscle, bone and skin. He already has powerful front legs and chest, the hind quarters are still slightly behind. As for the skin it ranges from being taught against the muscles on his legs and rib cage through to almost 2 inches of unused folds on his back and neck. Plenty of growing room. His soft puppy coat continues to be replaced by the river of cream swirling hair that is flowing down his back, in the right light he almost looks like an exquisite sculpture.

His whiskers also continue to grow, his cute little face is framed by them, above his eyes, around his muzzle and under his chin and they are in some cases several inches long. You would think with all that catfish sensory input he’d be able to catch a treat, you’d be wrong, he’s hopeless.

Chewing continues to be a source of frustration, as you would probably expect given he is essentially a set of teeth on legs. It doesn’t help that he’s starting to show signs of teething. On the whole he’ll stick to his toys or the cat scratch tower that is seeing far more use under his machinations than it ever did under the cats. The garden is taking the brunt of the damage so I guess I should be grateful. He has a special interest in ripping up the lawn in critical obvious places, chewing on trees and digging holes. I wouldn’t mind except for the fact he knows he’s not meant to be doing any of it, and still sneakily does.

The good news is he doesn’t seem to be trying to swallow stuff as much as he was in the past, he’ll often mouth something and then drop it again without me having to dive in. There are of course a few exceptions mostly poop related (horse, rabbit, cat – quite the connoisseur).

Dig Dug

Digging is becoming a thing, he loves to dig which is not surprising given the huge paws and talons. He’s been on a mission to dig a patch between the storage bin and latrine. The problem is the cats love the loose dirt and they take every opportunity to deposit treats. They seem locked in some scatalogical symbiosis, with Archer essentially farming cat turds. It’s proving difficult to break these self-rewarding systems. In fact I’m fairly sure I spotted one of the cats goading Archer into digging another patch, by getting his attention and flip flopping in the dirt.

When he’s not actually digging he’s usually practising digging:


Off Leash/Off Piste

I was talking to a fellow dog owner and we were discussing when is the right time for the pup to get off the leash. His point of view was that it’s as big a deal as “I” wanted to make it. Fair point, there would never be a zero-risk scenario so I would just have to cut the apron strings and give it a whirl. So at one of the big parks far from the roads and with some large fields we gave it a whirl and it went very well. He kept up, was obviously happier and we both had a much more pleasant walk.

The second off-leash walk at the same park went well, except he ran off after another leashed dog and by the time I’d got there the poor owner had been forced to restrain him because he was likely to get attacked by her dog. I made my apologies and that ended off-leash walking for the remainder of the day’s walk.

Third time off-leash walk was going well and we were heading back to the car after a good walk. The park is criss-crossed with bridleways. It’s fairly rare to come across a horse on these tracks. But as you can already guess today there was a lady riding a near shire horse sized beast. She spotted Archer before I spotted her ( thank god) and shouted. The problem was Archer was about 20ft ahead of me, the horse 20ft ahead of him. None of my calls dissuaded him from continuing to move forwards, I’ve no doubt he was thinking it was just a big dog to make friends with. My chasing after him needless to say just made the game all the better.

The lady did a fantastic job of keeping the horse calm as I finally managed to get a hand to Archer’s collar and pull him aside. I made my apologies and thanked my lucky stars that the rider had been so vigilant.

The last time and I mean the last time EVER Archer will be off-leash he decided he would go through 2 wooden and a barbed wire fence to enter an adjacent horse paddock. Where he commenced to chow down on horse poop. Luckily the horses were at the other end of the paddock at the time or this would have been a car crash. But for 10 minutes I could not get him back, no call, nice or berating worked, falling to the ground, walking away, jumping up and down it made no difference. If anything he was slowly heading towards the horses. Finally my friends dog managed to lure him back to where he could be grabbed.

By this point my heart is pounding in my chest and all I want to do is throttle the little b*******. Instead I counted to ten, reminded myself it wouldn’t make any difference and at the end of the day it was my mistake not his. I resolved not to let him off again until I had a bomb proof recall command, if only to safe guard my blood pressure.

Puppy School

He’s booked in for 5 weeks at puppy school. The lessons take place in an old barn the other side of Bluebell Hill and are run by a European lady. Neither myself or Wen have managed to nail down the accent. But we are leaning towards German and not just because she has a huge German Shepherd. Needless to say her beautiful dog was the demonstration model, it followed her every command like it had done it a thousands times, which it no doubt had.

We were expecting a laid back puppy socialization experience with some light training, as it had been at the vet run puppy club. In reality it was a proper education and I’m not talking about the pup. It became clear 30 minutes into the session that it was the owners who were being trained. The teacher rattled off new command after new command, walking around to ensure her instructions were being implemented correctly. There was a 5 minute break at half way for the pups to have a quick drink of water before we got back to learning more of the basics – sit, down, stay, heal etc.

The most useful new command was “touch”. You get your pup to bump it’s nose against the palm of your hand and give him the best treat and biggest praise. Why is it useful, beyond being a fun game it also works as an emergency recall command. So it is used sparing, ideally when the pup is otherwise occupied and only when it can be rewarded. It’s a command I’d wish he’d learned a little earlier and needless to say we’ve been practising in earnest.

The puppy school ended with a tunnel run. There were 4 tunnels of different lengths ranging from approx. 15 metres down to 3 metres. The more experienced pups would run up the longest with some gusto. The new pups had to be thrown into the short section, usually with the teacher holding the entrance end up in the air to prevent the pup trying to get back out. Archer did fairly well, a little reluctant but at least he wasn’t one of the pups desperately scrabbling to get back the way they came in.

It was a really useful class and we ended up with homework – to work on all the basic commands in the coming week.  We need to keep on top of these.  I suspect there might be an exam!




P25K – Week 4

17th September 2018 — 0

Run 1 (09/09/2018)

Another nonsense run I’m afraid. The target was 3km I managed 1km because I was determined to attack it and secure a new 3km record, literally no pacing at all. I got round the first km in 6:49 and was dead. More specifically I couldn’t be arsed to suck up what would have been a painful and slow last 2km.

I broke the cardinal rule yet again do the distance first. If I want to do a quick lap make it the bloody last one not the first! I’ll be back out again tomorrow to do 3km, forget the pace. I was aiming this week to just get out and run 4 straight forward runs, not a great start.

Run Rating : 

Run 2 (10/09/2018)

One of the biggest challenges I have running is fitting it in, which is a bit crazy considering I have very little else I actually have to do. But one way or another I find myself struggling to carve out a specific regimented time of the day, part through apathy and part through well just “stuff”.

Today was a perfect example. In the end I ended up running back from the local pet store where we’d been to try new collar’s/harnesses on the pup. Wen picked us up after work, drove us up there and I resolved to run back, a quick check on Google Earth indicated that a slightly indirect route would be over the required 3 km.

It occurs to me that this, let’s call it abandonment running might just be what I need, as:

  • it’s a non-circular route, I’m really starting to struggle with running around in circles (see last week).
  • getting back home is a fixed primal goal I can get behind
  • less reason to quit – i.e. I have to cover the distance anyway so I might as well do it running it’ll be quicker

So with that in mind and the pup fully kitted out with a new set of bondage gear which all turned out to be slightly too big (will have to wait a week or two before he grows into it), I started running back on a cool and slightly windy evening. No doubt about it summer is over.

The first kilometre was easy, I’m a bit concerned when the app chimes in indicating the split time as 7 min 5 secs. That’s a little too quick (see the last run). Luckily the 2nd km is all downhill. I loved this part of the run, just plodding away with the sun going down behind me and the fact it was all new terrain.

I hit the 2km mark just as I ran out of down hill, time to get to work. I’m trying to plot a route back, I believe there’s a short cut through a pedestrian area, I’ve never been here before and I’m mentally juggling the geography. I decide to risk it, it’s the start of a long climb back up, all the earlier downhill didn’t come for free.

As I’m going up the road I realise I’ve made a terrible mistake, not in terms of the route, it’s on target, but in terms of the ambience. Let’s put this delicately, I’ve turned into chav street and I’ve got no option but to keep on running. Not surprisingly I’m attracting some attention as I go chugging past, luckily thanks to my earphones I can’t quite hear what the slag in her bathrobe (fag hanging out of her mouth) shouts to her mates. I dance around the teenagers conspiring to place their bikes in my path and just keep on going., holding my breath past the cloud of vapour and weed and finally make it to the end of the road. Needless to say I won’t be taking that shortcut again.

The last km has been uphill and between having to dance around, hold my breath and generally trying to look like someone not to be messed with, I’ve wasted a lot of energy. I can feel it as I finally hit a bit of a flat. I’m out here for 3 km so I’m not going to stop before that and I’m negotiating with myself to make it all the way home. But I’m having to dig deep, nausea as always at these times is threatening. I start the process of trying to calm everything down as I start back up another incline, the app chimes in with 7 min 40 secs. Not bad considering most of it was uphill.

I’m still a distance from home and I’m struggling to get everything back under control. I start playing the “just” mental game. Just get to the end of this road, just get to the top of that hill, just get to that corner, just hold on one more minute. Yet again I remind myself this is the bit that counts, hanging on when you don’t want to. I finally make it home, that was a tough 3.7km, especially the last 700 metres.

I’ve set a new 3 km PB of 21:53 shaving 22 seconds off my previous record, that’ll do for today.


This was my first run through an urban environment, I’d generally kept to the parks. I can’t say it really appealed to me even ignoring the unfortunate detour. If you have to be out here running I’d much prefer to do it around some greenery without the risk of being run over every few yards. On the other hand being dropped off far (let’s be honest not really that far) from home and having to run back was fun, it kept the mind occupied pondering routes and the new and varied terrain.

My next run is 5 km and I have a plan to go and run back at the field where I originally started C25K, I’m thinking it’ll be fun to contrast the improvement. The Great North Run was last weekend, it’s a half marathon and as usual there were some incredible inspirational stories. For me though it was a reminder that 5k is not a stopping point, it’s meant to be a milestone on towards 10k and maybe even 21k, I need to push on!

Run Rating : 

Run 3 (12/09/2018)

Change of plan I thought I’d just pop out and do a quick 5k after lunch when the pup would be snoozing. I’d plotted a circular route that was 5km door to door and took in half the route I did in the last run, mostly the downhill bit. It had been raining all morning, so I took my chances between showers to get out there.

The first km was going to be the toughest it’s all up hill, km 2 is flat, km 3 is downhill, km 4 is flat and the last km finished up hill for a few hundred metres. On paper it looked like a solid route. I got to the first km, not surprisingly a bit fatigued, spent half the 2nd km trying to get everything back under control and then noped out of the second half of the 2nd kilometre. I walked the last half of the 2nd km, and then proceeded to run and walk alternately 500m until I managed to drag my sorry ass back home.

I failed pure and simply because I mentally talked my way out of it at the 1.5km mark, having done the hardest km on the route. There wasn’t any huge physical drama, I was a bit of out of breath still recovering from going uphill for a km, but nothing I haven’t seen before. I definitely need to do something about this, it’s getting frustrating. I can do the distance but I routinely still struggle to commit to the run, i.e. grow a pair.

The pointless stats:

The only useful bit of data that came from this run was my feet were killing me in the walks, just like they used to when doing C25K intervals. I’ve run a number of 5k’s now and not suffered anywhere near as much as going back to effectively internal running. Maybe it’ll give me another incentive to not stop running in the future!

I’m not going to rerun this FAIL. I’ve got 2 runs left this week one of them WILL be a 5k let’s hope I can man up between now and then.

Run Rating : 

Run 4 (14/09/2018)

I was out walking the pup around the woods most of the morning, by the time we got back he was shattered so I threw some food at him and shoved him in his crate and headed to the local park on what was an overcast slightly cool midday.

I was pondering if I should eat or just get out there. Having eaten nothing all day and walking most of the morning. The texts book says eat something light (i.e. a banana) 30 mins before running. Unfortunately we are all out of banana’s and I don’t have the luxury of 30m’s. So we’ll be burning what’s left of last nights lasagne or maybe some of my ample body fat would be a real bonus!

On the walk up I’m trying to mentally get my act together, I need a 5k bad. I’ve done a few at this park so there isn’t a question of can I do it, it’s just a question of will I turn up and suck it up when it starts to get tough. I’ve taken an extra lap round the park to build up my resolve and stretch a little more.

I set off on the first km deliberately slowing it all down, “get the distance” going around my head like a an inane mantra. I know I need to get around these early km’s efficiently, failure to manage energy levels will make the last 2 km’s a living hell and increase the likelihood of failure.

Once round the park and the first km is done, no problems. The 2nd km goes past fairly easily as well. I’m just avoiding trying to think how much time or distance I have left, just run each km. Standard running playlist, I need to get around to changing it, it’s starting to get a bit stale.

I hit 3km, 3rd time up the incline the toughest bit of the route. Mentally I’m fighting a voice telling me that’s enough for today, no shame walking away with 3k. Not today, I’m going the distance, I tell myself I’ve only got to go twice more round (or more specifically up). I’m over halfway and each step is now towards home! Don’t ask me, I know I’m running a circuit which is generally equidistant from home, but it helps to visualise getting over a hump and mentally ticking those last 2km’s off.

Hitting the 4km milestone I know I’ve got it done, it’s just a question of hanging on. My left knee is starting to hurt, that’s a bit worrying usually aches go away on these runs. I push on the pain is not that bad, more of a warning than a stop signal. I’m definitely feeling it and I decide to do the last 500m heading down the road towards home.

Not a spectacular run but an important one for me in terms of mental conditioning. The first 3km are not a problem at this 8:14 pace, but the last two km are far from fun. It’s here in this moment of duress I need to spend more time just soaking up the fatigue and mental barrage until I can ignore it.


As with most things in life the dread of something is usually far worse than the reality and for me it’s the same with running. That first 3km is inevitably interspersed with visions (if I fail to adequately distract myself) of what the last 2km are going to be like – i.e. it will hurt and it will be long.

In reality that last 2km is at best uncomfortable and the time passes surprisingly quickly. Far worse is the mental berating I give myself having failed, not because I gave everything and failed, there’s some glory in that, but because I gave up well before I had. I need to do a better job of remembering this while in that first 3km and stop tricking myself.

I have one more run this week. It’ll be Sunday as I’m going to need to go easy on my knee tomorrow, I don’t want any silly injuries, and I was given a clear warning today. I think I’ll aim for another 5k, no idea where yet.

Run Rating : 

Run 5 (16/09/2018)

Didn’t happen, as I ended up doing stuff the whole day. It was 8pm by the time we got back home and I was starving and knackered, so the thought of popping out for a quick 5k in the dark was always going to be a hard sell.

I’m also out of time for this week. as I realised I need to stick to a conventional Monday-Sunday schedule otherwise my Endomondo accumulative stats don’t work properly.

Last week I achieved a total of just over 12km according to Endomondo, although it was probably closer to 10km given I walked a good part of run 3. That is way short of my goal of running 16km a week (2x3km + 2x5km) and a reminder that I need to step up my commitment.

Stat Value Date
12-minute test 1.76km 1/9/2018
Farthest distance 5.04km 21/8/2018
1 km 06 min 38 sec 1/9/2018
1 mile 10 min 56 sec 1/9/2018
3 km 21 min 53 sec 10/9/2018
3 mile 37 min 15 sec 7/9/2018
5 km 38 min 30 sec 7/9/2018
Most calories burned 771 kcal 7/9/2018

I also need to start tracking how much walking I’m doing, I spend about an hour and half every day walking the pup and we are starting to get through some km’s. It obviously doesn’t directly count to running but it does count towards my broader weight loss goals and ultimately a skinnier me will translate into a faster me.


AnimalsDog Days

Archer – Weeks 7-8

3rd September 2018 — 0



Time is flying, summer is officially over and we are into Autumn. There is a definite chill when standing in the garden at 6:30 in the morning waiting for Archer to get his day started. He is now 4 months old and has been with us for 2 months and he continues to grow at a staggering rate, unfolding like an organic transformer to reveal a full-size dog.

I don’t think I fully realised how much he’d grown until I recall him fitting with ease under the small coffee table we have in the front room. His days of snoozing under the table are long gone, he can now easily straddle the table. Of course, it doesn’t stop him trying to get under it on occasion.

He still continues to make progress:

  • socialisation – he loves meeting dogs and people, in that order. He’s probably met another hundred people and their pets in the last couple of weeks. He had his walking buddy Syd over for the day to get him used to other dogs in the house. He’s also booked into a new puppy club next Sunday.
  • cats – no longer a problem they walk past each other, even when Itchy is being a miserable sod and meowing at him. Scratchy has wanted to play with Archer and vice versa but they are talking a different language. As Wen pointed out, a dog tail wag means friend/excitement, a cat tail wagging usually means I’m annoyed back off. I’m sure they’ll figure it out and be frolicking before long. But this is a huge win for peace in the house.
  • training – we are still bedding in the basics, there’s learning and then there’s just reacting. I don’t think the commands are truly in there until he reacts without thinking. If he has to ponder a command there’s a good chance his belligerent side will often step in. Wen has bought a book of 101 tricks to teach your dog, there’s optimism.
  • toilet training – every time I think we are pretty much there we have a mistake. I literally got off the phone to my parents, saying how he hadn’t had an accident indoors only for him to lay a mostly liquid deposit in the middle of the living room. I swear he was listening, more likely I wasn’t! I’m sure he probably gave me a few clues. Someone said if you can go 14 weeks without an accident you can say he’s trained, I haven’t made 14 days yet, but at least we are beyond 14 hours.
  • hoovering – his incessant need to eat anything he can fit in his mouth continues. It means he can’t be out of my eyesight, on the odd occasion he is I will find him chewing on something, my least favourite was the drywall on the side of the house and that was after being just being fed.
  • swimming – no luck yet, I’ve tried him a few times once in the river and once in a lake but he’s flatly refused in both cases. Even when there is an adult golden retriever goading him into getting in and teaching him the ropes. I’ve no doubt it will come, maybe when his proper coat grows out.
  • separation – we’ve been crating him and going out, thanks to modern technology there is a webcam we can use on such occasions so that we can keep an eye on him. Typically he’ll whine for a couple of minutes, before giving a big sigh and going to sleep. He is good for an hour in his crate, 2 hours if he’s been properly fed and worn out beforehand. We, unfortunately, pushed it when we were at a family BBQ, he can’t make 3 hours. I was ten minutes too late, our bad.

I keep having to remind myself he’s only 4 months old, he’s doing extraordinarily well when you factor that in.

A day in the life

We have settled into a bit of a routine which starts early usually with him huffing and puffing and fidgeting around, just enough to ensure I can’t sleep but without being accused of waking me up. I put his collar on, get dressed and carry him downstairs. Yes to the world he might be a big pup now but behind closed doors, he’s still a pussy. We can’t afford the 10 minutes of drama it would take to get him to get downstairs on his own. So I still carry him downstairs, he must be hitting 16kg by this point, all bones and licks.

He does his morning business, needing only a few gentle reminders of why we are standing out there. Then to breakfast, cats get fed first, those are the rules. He then gets his mix of chicken and kibble. He’s got a new insanely expensive special tummy kibble we mix in to settle his stomach as he still continues to have episodes where he’s fast and loose. Not really a surprise as he still continues to hoover up everything and it’s not all going to agree with him.

After breakfast he goes back to sleep until about 9am, usually basking in a sunbeam and I can get on and do some work. We then head out for walkies to one of several parks, I try and mix it up to keep it interesting, dependent on the weather, the tides (I kid you not) and the availability of his walking mate Syd.

Dependent on the venue we usually walk around for a couple of hours, and yes I am aware he’s only meant to have 20 minutes of exercise at this age, but I honestly don’t classify walking 10 yards and getting fussed over exercise. The seasoned dog walkers just laugh and tell me we’ll be out here for hours, and as always they are right. It’s more an exercise in socialisation at this point, meeting as many different types of people and dogs as possible. I know most of the dog owners and their pets temperaments by now.

After walkies, we go back home so he can squeeze in another quick snooze before lunch. More food to bolster him up for the afternoon’s main event, sleeping. This is my other window to do some work in the day. He’ll typically wake up about 4 or 5 when we’ll do a tour of the garden and have a bit of a play. He’ll then occupy himself for an hour, usually chewing something, sometimes even things he’s meant to be chewing.

Somewhere between 6 and 7, he gets his last meal of the day, as always the cats get their evening meal first as they can be less than tolerant of any perceived favouritism. If Archer is having a bad day (gastrically) he might get some of his kibble replaced with rice, just to bind everything together. He loves rice and I love the benefits the next morning.

Early evening is playing and otherwise messing, we bought him a new snek friend I’m getting lots of fun out of tying it around him like a Boa constrictor and watching him walk around with it, I think he likes it as well. He’ll often get a frozen Kong (filled with cheese/meat) or some other treats.

This evening play session usually ends with zoomies, where for 5 minutes he will go bat shit crazy and race around like he’s on fire, burning up the last of the day’s energy. Then by 8:30 he’s done and falls back to sleep until somewhere around 10-11 where I wake him up (I get my own back for him waking me first thing) for one more visit to the garden, or moth collecting as I like to call it.

Finally, Wen takes his collar off and we take the long walk up the stairs to bed, he can go up them, it’s just down he hasn’t mastered. He’ll go to his crate, curl up and go to sleep with only the odd growl or scuttling of feet where he’s dream running.

Rinse and repeat, the next day with a slightly bigger/heavier pup. I still don’t lock him in his crate overnight and he’ll get up in the night and have a wander around and sleep in a few different places, seems to mostly based on temperature and stretching.

Digging It

I finally took Archer down to the local dog pen. A large fenced area where I could let him of his leash and he’d get an opportunity to properly practise his socialisation skills without the safety of me inches away ready to intervene. There was a father, his daughter and their beagle and for a quarter of an hour Archer had the stuffing kicked out of him by the beagle, he loved it. He’s never happier than when he’s on his back with a set of teeth around his throat. Every time you think it’s gone too far he pops back up tail wagging, eyes wide desperate for more.

After a good roughhousing the pups calmed down and started playing with the little girl. She had a stick and was quietly digging patterns in the sand and they were happy to help out with the hard work of turning her scratched sketches into trenches. Truly a joy to watch, although I have to admit a pang of envy at the speed she had both pups under her command.

As fit as a butcher’s dog

Archer’s weight and size is a constant subject of debate. He’s growing at an extraordinary rate but not in a uniform manner. He seems very lanky with large paws and knobbly knees on his long legs. He has a relatively small head on a long and thin neck, huge chest, skinny stomach going back to a rear section that lacks a lot of the muscle power of his front legs. And it all ends in a tail that has a strange kink in the fur half way along.  His coarse coat has been growing down his back in swirls, when he’s excited it turns out he has hackles that extend all along his back, making him look like he has a Mohican.

When he stretches you can often see his ribs and in the wrong light with his long legs flailing about he looks like one of the victims of neglect off of one of those terrible shock TV ads. A situation not helped by bumping into a couple with a 5-month-old golden retriever that was a good 2 inches taller, super fluffy and well rounded. Even at Archer’s prodigious growing speed, I’ll be amazed if he’s that size in just 4 weeks, we shall see.

He lost the first of his puppy teeth, the top two at the front (see photo above) they have already been replaced with adult equivalents. The rest of his baby teeth seem to be hanging in there for now.

Overall he’s a super fit and ungainly puppy. Most retriever owners I’ve met on my travels have thought he looked fit and warned of the dangers of going too far the other way, especially for this breed. I’ll just be a bit happier when he broadens out a bit as opposed to tending towards looking like a whippet.

An Eye for an Eye

Someone told Wen that there was a Nerf gun that fired tennis balls and she took it on herself to immediately order one. It turned up and sat on the table for a couple of days before I finally unboxed it and took the pup out in the garden for a trial. I must admit I’ve had (and modified) Nerf guns in the past and on the whole, they always lack power, not surprisingly in this age of kids wrapped in cotton wool and lawsuits. So I wasn’t really surprised when the first shot hardly travelled 20 yards, the pup still doesn’t get the idea of chasing balls, so he was even more nonplussed than I was.

I reloaded the gun and fired it again, ok that was a little better, it got some height and another few yards but it was far from spectacular. Archer decided it was so much fun he was going to go back to digging up moss out of the lawn in his favourite patch. I walked over and picked up the ball and reloaded the gun.

I shouted back at Archer to stop chewing the lawn, he was literally making a meal of it. He just looked up and gave one of his s***-eating grins before returning to his mossy meal and me with a loaded gun. Yes, I shot the ball in his direction with the intention of hitting the fence near him. and hoping the noise would be enough to wipe the grin off of his face.

Instead the Nerf gun launched the tennis ball like it was a rail gun and in spite of a crosswind and the fact that Archer was moving it hit him square between the eyes with such force as to throw him onto his back legs, he reared up in the air making an ungodly whining noise, his eyes  blinking rapidly. There was no doubt he really was stunned, when he got his senses back he’s skulked off tail between his leg and hid under a bush.

I’m mortified, trying to coax him back out he’s just flickering his eyelids at me, oh no. I finally get him out from under the bush and fuss over him, he’s still not a happy pup. He continues to blink oddly all the way back to the house, where I threw the gun in a storage bin before checking the safety information to confirm that it did, in fact, say in strict terms not to be fired at people, who would have guessed that it applied to dogs too?

We get in the house and I have a proper looks at his eyes, his left eye is definitely not right, he’s refusing to open it fully, probably because I keep poking my fingers at it. He seems OK though, it was probably the shock I tell myself, he’ll be OK I’m sure he’ll walk it off. Wen gets home I confess that HER gun has damaged the dog. He’s still half asleep, but he’s still not opening the eye fully.  Wen did point out that the aim is to fire the tennis ball away from you when the pup is with you.

Anyway we get to the evening I’m still not sure his eye is good, and I’m seriously worried I’ve blinded him. By this time he really is half asleep and trying to keep an eye open is a fruitless task. I put him in case crate for bed, walk over to turn the lights out, look back and he’s looking at me, one eye wide and one not. Oh crap, I rush him downstairs to show Wen and he’s fallen asleep in her arms, still unable to tell the extent of the damage. It’s too late for the vet, so I spend a sleepless guilt fueled night, thinking of all the worst case scenarios.

Next morning we’re checking him over, it’s a trip to the vet for sure. His left eye isn’t opening up normally, his right eye is fine. Wen’s looking up their opening times and I look down as Archer turns around, his left eye is open and bright and his right eye is half asleep. What the hell? A couple more blinks and both eyes are staring up at me …. got you! I could almost see the doggy grin!

It turns out a half-asleep retriever will often have squiffy looking eyes, I just never really had cause to scrutinise him that closely, but I have no doubt he took the opportunity to teach me a lesson. I got the message, he, on the other hand, is still eating all the moss.