08 November 2009

Autumn Tactics

Running in the autumn is so lovely that on a bright day, even the industrial wastelands of Acton, alongside the canal, look gorgeous in the afternoon sunshine with the rich organges, yellows and reds of the leaves detracting and distracting from the dull greys of the endless tire factories and warehouses along the Grand Union Canal.

Today, I made it as far as the Grand Junction Arms pub in Harlesden (which is pretty close to Ikea, in case I ever have the need or desire to buy a large, flat-pack product and run for six miles with it back home) before deciding that in order to get home before the light started to fade--and to able to nip to Selfridges for emergency Nespresso supplies--I would need to turn back. The further west I ran, the more deserted the towpath became, hence my desire to get home long before dark, as well as my apparent need to get some flashing lights to attach to myself now that winter is approaching even faster than I can run away from it.

It's a pleasant route along the canal--a short jog up the road to get to the towpath and then running on the road while the canal goes under the tunnel in Maida Vale. Next it's through the swanky mansions of Little Venice, which look pretty nice at this time of year, and then out under the A40, through the northern extremes of Westbourne Grove and Notting Hill and then into the less populated parts, which alternate between aforementioned industrial wasteland and gorgeous, countryside-esque, autumnal waterway, with the odd canal-side supermarket and pub thrown in for good measure.

Since my recent discovery that my iPhone fits--just--inside the pocket on my leggings, I've been taking it out running with me instead of the Shuffle. This means not only that I know what time it is and approximately how long I've been running, but I can also listen to other music if I run out of podcasts (and the podcasts sync automatically from my computer without me needing to download manually), find my location in Google Maps and take photos. Thus far, the photos have mainly been of a point-and-click nature as I didn't want to break up my running, not that the iPhone is a top camera but it does well enough outdoors.

Following my decision to at least enter the lottery for a place in next year's New York Marathon, I realised that the approximate times and distances I've been calculating based on post-hoc Google Mapping and length of podcasts aren't going to be an adequate training tool so I've bought a Nike + iPhone sensor, which I can attach to my shoe and which will track all sorts of details about each run I do and sync it to the Nike website. This is potentially dangerous for someone who likes stats and metadata and self-competition, but hopefully it will also be useful.

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