Sunday, 10 March 2013

On how life is...

The following things are rocking my world at the moment.

This song.

Lana Del Rey | Without You

And this remix of this song.

Ellie Goulding | Figure 8 (Alias Remix) AUDIO ONLY

Sounds a bit dry but... reading actual books. Finding time to read actual books more to the point. I set myself the new year's resolution of reading 24 now 30 books in 2013 -- I'm 10 down already and it's only March so quite pleased with that. There are so many books I have listed over on Goodreads that I haven't yet read but want to, and some off-list titles as well:


Hello, you smoothie.

This might look like a truly dull cup of milk but is actually a banana-honey-yogurt-and-cinnamon smoothie. With oats. YEAH.

I'm not the best at eating fruit in its immediate form (I'm not a mega fan of bananas with any sort of brown marking!) and so much fruit in the UK is imported (except for those two weeks in which they're actually in season); I have a weird stigma about buying fruit off the market especially round here when I'm convinced it's all blighted by the cigarette smoke of passers-by... (never mind in supermarkets when you don't know how much it's all been sprayed etc etc) BUT I'm blissfully ignorant when it comes to zhuzhing a handful of fruit in a blender.

I'm in training for the MoonWalk again this year and have foregone the gym in favour of outdoor training. Which with the exception of Friday's soggy jaunt* is fine. But more on that in the next paragraph. I bought a new blender a few weeks back (I live an exciting life) and have been throwing yogurt, fruit and fruit juice into it at regular intervals ever since. Thus increasing my fruit intake. A bit. A smoothie also staves off hunger for a good while. At least until I see a maple pecan danish with my name on it.

Handy Walking Apps and Sites

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm not one of life's natural gym bunnies. Actually, no, that is a lie -- sometimes I don't mind a gym. But when I'm sweating it out on a machine next to Miss Skinny Von Tiny Bum or between Mr Muscle and the King of Body Odour I'm decidedly less keen. Especially if I'm paying £40 a month for the privilege of feeling even worse about my not-exactly-waif-like physique and inhaling strangers' man-sweat. Ew. No, thanks.

So this year I decided to hit the road a little more keenly in my MoonWalk training. Train 'in the field' as it were. Because as I discovered last year, gym training, hardcore though it may seem, is no substitution for training on the kind of surface you'll be pounding for 26.2 hard miles.

There are some downsides, of course.

It's been a miserable three months weather-wise, snow, rain, -3 degrees and dark when I got up and got home until very recently. And my walking buddy's no longer available to train as last year. And the roads around here are heinously lit. As in, barely lit in some places. When I'm walking with a buddy that's fine, but if I'm walking on my own, well, I need aural stimulation i.e. my iPod and it's not safe for me, a laydee, to be walking on my own, in the dark, with an iPod on even at low volume. (Note to self: buy hi-vis clothing...)

So to put it bluntly, I just hadn't been driven to get out and walk (excuses, excuses).

But then the MoonWalk Facebook Wall started filling up with the proud declarations of people who've done so many miles' training already, and I got the guilt.

Last year I relied on the treadmill to log my mileage. I have a pedometer but it's far from reliable. So armed with my trusty Android and t'interweb I decided to look into possible route-plottin', mileage-clockin' apps to help me build up my training.

And these are what I'm using at the moment:

MapMyWalk (app and site) -- this is more a reflective tool at the moment. I refuse to use it as a live clocking device as it seems quite judgmental in asking for your calorific intake and weight and quite frankly for what I'm doing I don't need MMW to keep count of this (plus I just don't wanna know). BUT for logging my training online it's great. Even if it's stuck on asking me for km rather than miles.

Everytrail Pro (app and site) -- a friend recommended this as it's possible to search for local routes that other walkers have already tried and tested. Which is absolutely great, until there are none in your local area for the distance you want. BUT the best thing about Everytrail for me is using it in conjunction with...

Mapometer (site)! Not available as an app yet, this site does enable you to plot out your own routes (off-road or on-road) on a Google Map, by activity, so you can see exactly how many miles you will clock up, and you can increase or decrease your route accordingly.

You can export your Mapometer route as a GPS file and then import it to Everytrail and check your adherence to the route on your phone. Which is the great bit. Until the battery conks out.

I plotted out a route of 4.5 miles from Shepherds Bush to Clapham (part of my train route home) to walk on Friday.

What I didn't factor in was...
  • Rain. Rain. Rain. Rain. People do seem to have been happily training in the rain -- but for me? Never again (at least not without waterproof trousers and eggs to throw at motorists who splash me at pedestrian crossings). 
Screengrab from Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
  • Lack of visible pedestrian crossings on Old Brompton Road -- I went in search for one, ended up turning up a dead end road, had to come back again.
  • GPS draining my phone battery to nada. Rain soaking my paperback map and my iPod into uselessness.

I didn't take an intended turn off the Battersea Park Road and ended up in Vauxhall. Tired, wet, and slightly off-route. That was it -- I got a bus to Clapham.

However, when I got home and replotted my actual route on Mapometer, including the diversion off Old Brompton Road, I'd done an extra 3.2 miles.

So not all bad news!

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