Marathon training: planned

I wrote out my marathon training plan yesterday. 20 weeks, leading up to Edinburgh Marathon on the 29th of May. I based it on this one, but swapped a lot of the days around to fit in with my life schedule and with the half marathon I’ll be doing in March. I start the plan tomorrow.

It’ll be a pretty big step up from the ‘mile-ish a day plus parkrun most weeks’ that I’ve been doing for the last three months since the London Marathon, but there won’t be anything super long on the plan for several weeks so I’ve got a bit of time to ease back into it.

I’m very excited! This excitement may be tempered in a few days’ time.

Unexpectedly inside

No parkrun this morning 🙁 All my local ones were off due to ice and I didn’t have time to get to the slightly-further-afield ones that were on. Disappointed as I was really looking forward to it this weekend. I went on the treadmill instead and watched a ‘virtual run around Disneyland Florida’ video so that I could pretend it was summer.

Summer on TV
Nice to visit an imaginary world when summer feels very far away.

Planning to get all the boring weekend stuff done today so that I can do the fun stuff tomorrow.

A proper weekend again

First work-ish week of the year done (I’m not back at work till next week but I have been back on my course and there’s been a lot to do so it’s felt like a normal work week in many ways) and so Friday night is appreciated once more. I’ll be back at my home parkrun tomorrow for the first time in ages and spending some time over the weekend setting out my marathon training plan for starting on Monday. In fact I’ve got a bit of a list of stuff to do in general over the weekend but we’ll see how much of it gets done, because I do need a quiet one before work starts in earnest.

The Christmas decorations came down yesterday, which has highlighted a few things that I feel look slightly ‘wrong’ in the house, so I may be doing some furniture moving soon as well.

No picture today (because I’ve decided that I will no longer post random just-taken pictures of whatever’s currently on my side table if I haven’t happened to photograph anything interesting during the week) and no earworm playlist either, because that will be going private and possibly returned to for statistical purposes in the future.

Phone Box Thursday: My Own Personal Phone Box

…and it has a phone inside!

I’ve never had a phone case before but Mum and Dad got me a couple for Christmas. One is a plain clear plastic case that is useful for when I need to take my phone out running. The other is this lovely phone box case, which I’ve been clutching ever since Christmas Day!

Red phone box case
Red phone box case. Quite possibly my favourite Christmas present, and I got some good ones this year!

Another phone box related Christmas gift to discuss next week.

Life without alcohol: three years sober

Three years in, I have settled into sobriety a lot more. I no longer read books about it or do much frequenting of the support communities I used to follow online. It’s been a long time since I had nightmares about accidental drinking. I know what all my go-to booze alternatives are on the rare occasion I find myself in drinking establishments, and in celebratory circumstances (I had a lot of Nosecco and similar over Christmas but I usually prefer to stick to Fanta Zero in the evenings).

I have learnt to handle stress without drinking, although there have been times recently where I feel my mental health is being impacted by the lack of an ‘off switch’ and I am still trying to work out what the replacement ‘off switch’ could be. I am mostly able to look at alcohol and think ‘I don’t have that’ (similarly to not eating meat), rather than ‘I wish I could…’. On the whole, I do not think I am at high risk of drinking again, though of course I know I can’t be complacent about it.

Importantly, I don’t want to drink again. I am, thankfully, starting to forget what it felt like to be in a near-constant state of cumulative hangover, but I know my life is much better now. There’s no reason to go back.

(No picture today. I have run out of ‘thoughtful scenery pictures to illustrate blog posts about sobriety’.)

One eye on normality

Penultimate day of Christmas and we have begun to transition back to normal in our house! We have nearly eaten up all the seasonal goodies and my TechUp course has started again after the Christmas break. However, neither Geth nor I are back at work until next Monday, so we’ve still got a bit of breathing room before total normality resumes.

Between work, studying and marathon training, I’m about to head into a fairly intense few weeks. Nevertheless, I would much rather frontload the year with all the busy stuff in January and February (and hence be distracted from the rubbish parts of winter: bonus points). It looks (at the moment!) as though things will gradually get less busy throughout the course of 2022, which is the good way round.

Just need to avoid taking on too many new projects. Easier said than done!

Last tube of Pringles for this Christmas. The aim is for them to be gone by tonight… I suspect between the two of us we should manage it.


I think, from today onwards, I may be slipping over the border towards ‘late thirties’ rather than ‘mid-thirties’. I am much more okay about this kind of border crossing than I used to be in my younger days. Life is getting better in most ways as I progress through it.

I had a nice normal birthday today (in contrast to last year) because I was able to spend the morning celebrating with family in Edinburgh before travelling back to Newcastle for the evening. I’ve got a few final days of Christmas to enjoy at home before the decorations disappear for another year.

Birthday cake
Dad made me his usual delicious New York style cheesecake. Photo (c) John Cooke 2022.

parkrunday: Portobello #266

It was lovely to be back doing a New Year parkrun yesterday, after missing it during the parkrun COVID hiatus last year. There are no longer opportunities to do New Year’s Day doubles (they were getting over-popular and thus dangerous and so parkrun HQ have put a stop to it), but in all honesty it was a lot less stressful just being able to focus on one parkrun by itself, rather than worrying about getting back in the car and dashing on to the next one like we did two years ago!

Unfortunately (and typically – it hasn’t happened on any of my other runs during Christmas!), my chronic hip/back/leg issue flared up horribly as soon as I started running, and so I didn’t have an enjoyable run. I was about ten minutes slower than I typically have been recently, and it really felt like I was back where I started all those years ago 🙁 The only way is up for 2022, I suppose.

Portobello parkrun
Looking a bit miserable on lap two. Photo by Portobello parkrun.

I expect we’ll be back at one of our regulars next week, and hopefully I’ll be back to a more regular time as well.

…and hello 2022!

Geth and I did do a New Year’s Day parkrun this morning but I’ll save my regularly scheduled parkrunday post for tomorrow. Lots of 2022 stuff to discuss today!

This year’s non-binding New Year Resolutions:

  • Sort out the house. It didn’t happen last year and it may not happen this year, but I would at least like to get some more stuff up on the walls (including that spice rack I bought a year ago) and work out a more manageable cleaning schedule.
  • Don’t book any midweek trips away and assume I can just ‘squeeze any work in’. I’m far too busy to be away during the week. Trips will be weekend-only with very rare exceptions.
  • Get one or two of my years-in-the-making longer game projects published by focusing on those rather than short things for jams and competitions.
  • Use the skills from my TechUP course to build at least two fairly complex websites.
  • Create some games using Python!
  • Take another big chunk off my marathon PB at the Edinburgh Marathon in May.
  • Get back to the fitness level I was when everything screeched to a grinding halt in March 2020.
  • Get my parkrun ‘different events’ total up to at least 30, continue to volunteer once a month, get my Wilson index to 15 (geeky – don’t worry if you don’t know what that is) and take part in parkrun every possible parkrunday!
  • Listen to more music and keep a closer eye on what’s going on with synthwave, industrial and heritage artists.
  • Actually leave the UK for the first time in four years (Ireland is the plan… not going far but it’ll be something!).
  • Catch up with what’s been happening with Doctor Who. It’s my favourite TV series but I’ve drifted away from the fandom over the last few years as I’ve been busy with other things and haven’t been hugely fond of the Whittaker/Chibnall era. I’m about two and a half series behind!
  • Finish all the books I’m reading. I’ve got into an awful habit over the last year where I start a book, read it for a week or so (last thing at night in bed is my reading time), neglect reading for the following week or so (because I’m anxious about not getting enough sleep if I read… even though I know I sleep better if I do), then abandon it and start a different book. This year, I’m going to concentrate on one at a time and read them right to the end. 20 books in 2022 seems like a good target!
  • Make a LOT more time for videogaming by keeping my evenings and weekends free. My game backlog is probably 1,000+ now and it’s time to start whittling that down. It’s my favourite way to relax and I most definitely have not been doing enough relaxing in 2021, so this has to be a real priority over the next year.

It’ll be interesting, as ever, to come back to this post in a year’s time! I didn’t make any resolutions last year except the house-sorting one, which was kind of a fail… let’s hope there’ll be more hits than misses in 2022.

P.S. Happy birthday blog! Four years today since I started my daily rambles.

Shin Megami Tensei V
Geth’s current videogame (which he has been playing nonstop since Christmas Day) is Shin Megami Tensei V, which I got him for Christmas. I would love to spend as much time videogaming as Geth does, and in order to do so I am planning to reorganise a few things this year.

Goodbye 2021…

I always intend to post lots of blogs at the end of the year with lots of big lists of all the things I did and the media I consumed and my highlights… but December is always so insanely busy I never get round to it. Maybe in 2022 I will write them as I go along haha! It’ll just have to be one megapost this year…

This year’s big resolution was to sort the house out. I did not do that and now it is one of 2022’s big resolutions. Other things have just taken more priority.

Business exploded in a good way this year, which means that I’m now working a lot more hours. It’s taking a while to adjust my life to this, and I’m beginning to realise that I can no longer just plan a trip away midweek on the assumption that I won’t have much work to squeeze in. 2022 will be a lot stricter in this regard.

I continued writing and coding text adventures and being involved in the wider interactive fiction community, and managed to release four games for various competitions. My highlights were winning the Scott’s Choice Award from legendary text adventure game creator Scott Adams for Barry Basic and the Quick Escape, and winning PunyJam #2 with Morris, my first ever PunyInform release. I also enjoyed making a short game for ParserComp based on photos of the beautiful area around Causey Arch after visiting it with Mum and Dad, and my first ever attempt at speed IF for EctoComp!

Since October I’ve also been very busy with studying for the TechUP Software Development course. I have learnt a lot of Python and other very interesting things that I will be taking forward as my career gradually transitions more towards tech. (The Python knowledge will also enable me to do some very fun stuff with my game development!)

Running has continued on a more positive trajectory this year, with races and parkruns returning. I am nowhere near as fit as I was in March 2020 when everything shut down, but I have still managed two important PBs in 2021 – I took nearly five minutes off my 10k PB at the Sunderland 10k, and more than 45 minutes off my marathon PB at the London Marathon. I have also completed the second year of my daily run streak today and am hugely proud of that, as it’s been very difficult at times. Finally, parkrun-wise I have visited two new-to-me parkruns (Girvan Prom and Southwark) and earned my V25 t-shirt with my 25th volunteer stint!

As usual, I didn’t listen to much new music, but I absolutely loved the long-awaited new Duran Duran album Future Past, and I was over the moon at finally being able to see them live in Birmingham in September. Geth and I then saw Andy Taylor the very next night back home in Newcastle, and we had a great time seeing Soft Cell in Leeds in November. Lots more COVID-postponed gigs to come in 2022 (and some reviews of the ones I’ve recently attended!).

I watched pretty much zero new TV shows and films this year, though there were a few I added to my ‘buy the BluRay at some point’ list. I did record a lot of stuff on my digibox though! Geth has watched thousands of hours of YouTube channels about gaming and running, and I’ve enjoyed those by virtue of being in the same room. I did enjoy the Strictly series in the autumn, as ever.

I didn’t manage to find nearly as much time for videogaming this year as I would have liked, but there have still been a good few games to enjoy. In addition to playing all the other text adventure games in the jams and competitions I entered (see above – and also finishing off the Adventuron Christmas jam games from last year in January!), I finished Bravely Second in time for the much-anticipated Bravely Default II coming out, played Bravely Default II on and off from February but have still not made much headway ten months later, played the interesting demo of Project Triangle Strategy (set for full release on Switch in 2022 as just Triangle Strategy), finished Final Fantasy I (finally! I will be moving onto FFII for 2022), got very freaked out by Return of the Obra Dinn, got most of the way through The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, played about ten minutes of Pikmin Bloom before deciding it wasn’t for me, enjoyed a couple of old ’90s platformers for Christmas that I’ve loved since childhood, started Braid again (will actually finish it this time!), continued enjoying the lovely meditative filler game Link-A-Pix Colour, and COMPLETED EVERY SINGLE DEMO ON THE NINTENDO 3DS ESHOP (a project I’ve been working on for years). Watch out for next year, when I will be putting some serious effort into finding a lot more time for games!

I have lots of plans and resolutions for 2022, but I’ll talk about those tomorrow…

Winter nails
Snowflake leggings and new silver nails – all ready for New Year.

I’ll do a separate earworm playlist post soon…. maybe (I’m considering starting to log that separately from the blog and doing a yearly chart instead). So far it’s three weeks’ worth of Christmas music and Disney/Pixar soundtracks. I must admit I am looking forward to listening to something else in January in order to clear it all from my brain.