moving about. learning Chinese, practicing Tai Ji Quan, doing Qi Gong, or simply going out running. resisting the monkey impulses.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Poking around with the sword

At James' class today, bumbled through the lao jia and the Chen sword. Good crew there, about 8 students in all. Nice day for once, so we cracked open the doors for a bit of breeze. Off to youtube now to look for Chen Zheng Lei performing the sword form for reference.

Probably shopping tomorrow (a wedding next weekend, so want to look decent), so I put in a longish run (1:20) this evening. Then back to HQ to catch the last of Wimbledon in between cooking operations.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ploddy re-start

I'm quite glad not to be running London today. Just saw the finish of the elite Women and elite men, and sure enough, it was chucking it down. Same thing 30 miles away, rain, hail everything.

An hour before, during the day's spell of nice weather, I went out for what, in the usual scheme of things, would be my 1-2 hour easy run. This time it was 45 minutes of slow stiff plodding. My legs felt unwilling and the shoes felt tired too. Effects of yesterday's gym? Unused to the feel of pavement? I tried to remember last time I did any outdoor running. The scenery was beautiful though. Along the Wey path, I was chased along by a pair of geese being chased by a swan. So the birds are getting their routines together too.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Trying to keep up

I've got this sensation of falling off the back of the treadmill. Metaphorically of course, my running is comparatively fine.

Troublesome day at work (not enough time!! MSc administrators panicking!! Both of them!!) then felt exhausted, so planned to drift back to the sofa. Mrs Monkey rang up, with troubling developments on the Felix front. A card from the RSPCA (danmn, they're out, must call first thing tomorrow) and explanatory voicemail from the (helpful, understanding) vets. Message to irritatingly anonymous worried neighbours : No, we. are. not. neglecting. our. cat. OK??

She was going to the gym anyway, so I grabbed a Jaffa cake and joined in. Felt ok actually, despite initial lethargy. 15 mins running, various weights and floor contortions, 15 mins x-trainer. Lots of punters (though not as many as in Bloomsbury, which is constantly packed).

Back home to find Felix out somewhere. I update my twitter, in case M wants to follow the plot, and then he chooses that moment to wander back in. Has the panicky old lady fed him, or not? Anyway, he gets another dinner. And another wash.

Because of the wonderful new Pet Porte (photo) , we can do clever things like keep everybody in at night.

Missed Chinese tonight obviously. Read the book, highlighting new words. Pleasantly surprised at the level of comprehension, though I'm making no regular effort to update my vocab. Resolve to try and catch up with Chinesepod. Though not tonight. And so to bed.

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Saturday, March 31, 2007

March Progress

Chinese : classes over for another term. Waiting to hear what will happen next - the classes don't run unless there are a minimum number of students, and some of us (there were 6 left at the end) are dropping out for various reasons. Chinesepod is a great backup, and now that I've got a car adapter, I can crack through the podcasts. I don't listen to Newbie level now, and I keep running out of Elementaries. Intermediates are still slightly too hard.

Running : I seem to be able to manage three sessions a week now, plus one gym. Or two gyms and two runs. Some good runs lately, around familiar loops.

Taiji : At the weekly class, we got to the end of Lao Jia Yi Lu. Admittedly in a very ragged way, but yeah! Off to Wang's class today to do it properly, where we are about 12 moves in. Although the level is more consistent there (only reasonably serious folk turn up), his method is to go over and over the moves rather than go through forms at a high rate of knots.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ploddy start

An old friend of mine has entered the Stratford half, and hopes I'll join him. That means getting the long runs long and a bit of speedwork in, over the next 6 weeks. Maybe even a warm up half, like the White Horse in a month's time.

Out today for the first run with M for a while. We looped behind Loseley House, then back toward the town. The plan was to go on to Bramley along the Downs Link (over the bridge that's been restored, but that was enough for me. My energy bridge is still out.

Over the gap

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Saturday, November 11, 2006


Chinese: 5 weeks into new cycle of classes at UCL. Our teacher left to go and do stuff in Aberdeen, so we have new one. The class is good, full of nice people. We are mostly practicing conversational stuff now.

Tai Chi: Occasional practice. No lessons since the summer break! Our trip to Morocco didn't help us get back into the routine, neither did a whole bunch of worky stuff at the start of term.

Running. M is travelling around madly as usual, so I'll blame my lack of dedication on my inability to persuade myself to go out alone in the cold. I've been down to gym a few times, just to demonstrate to my CV system that there is a plan. Don't know what it is yet.

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Naah, there's no such thing as chee ... is there?

An account of a skeptic/hostile's encounter with reiki, when he was the young Luke Skywalker. As the slightly older version, he reflects:
about five minutes later, I felt really tired. Two minutes after that, I sort of slumped in my chair and the taiji teacher asked me what I was feeling. I said that I could still feel the pain but it’s like it was a thousand miles away. The throbbing was like hearing a drum in the distance. I also felt totally relaxed and calm, like after a total body massage.

He stopped and said that was the power of reiki, and I remember feeling a bit sheepish. Not only did the treatment work to alleviate the pain, but it worked DESPITE me thinking that it wouldn’t. That really surprised me. There was no hypnotic suggestion or chalking that experience up to the power of belief, etc.

I didn’t know what to do with that experience for many years, and, to some extent, I still don’t even today.
In the blogging tradition, I've stolen the punchline, right? If this sort of thing interests you (the boundary between what you know, and what works, and the fractal nature of that boundary) read the full post from Formosa Neijia.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Result of blood test "nothing actionable" though Cholesterol was 6.1. [mmol per litre presumably], which puts me in the uppper 25% or so of the population. That could be lower – recommended is nearer 5 – so I might have to look at the cakes/pies/sausages intake a bit more critically. I know what to eat, but usually am pretty lazy. Oh a nice ham and mozarella sandwich to go with my coffee and almond croissant. OK then.

As a result, somebody has been putting fruit in my lunchtime sandwich box. Fruit! £@&*?!

I went for a little run yesterday, for the first time since the initial chest discomfort anomaly.

Other signs are all about laziness too. I took Chinese in Steps textbook on holiday, read one lesson once with the audio on the iPod, wrote nothing. As a result Mandarin progress feels pretty static (though I seem to be comfortable with most Elementary Chinesepod podcasts) and taiji the same. Short (18-move) Chen is done pretty often (daily-ish), long form not at all (I'll probably forget this over the summer), and silk reeling when I feel like it. Push hands when I bump into Peter, as described before.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Overdoing it?

I should know better, what with my colleague being having been on a heart-surgery rollercoster, and who is now spending hours in sofa-ville, recovering.

The running was going fairly well, which is to say uneventful, until just now. The countryside has been lovely in the sun, and I'd been scampering about it 2-3 times a week. Mostly steady-paced running, usually with the same partner.

This Friday, we decided on Intervals, and round a field/cricket pitch nearby. I've done plenty of 2-minute fast sessions round there before, so I know the procedure pretty well.

DSC00497 DSC09898.JPG DSC00499

Now, you know when you do hard sessions, you usually hold something back? Well I do, anyway, not being temperamentally suited to the make-yourself-puke school of training. This time, having been complemented on my apparent speed (M travels a lot, and was jet-legged, hence 10 s behind), I progressively started to pile on the pressure at each repetition, knocking seconds off the watch each time. " 加油!" you might say. On the last but two reps, I started fairly steadily and was pumping all out for the last 50 yards. On the penultimate rep, I went for it with 120 yards to go. Can't. Talk. On the last one, I pretty much went for it from the beginning. These reps were all in the 1:45 area. Hey not bad. Nice jog home, shower, out for a curry in the evening.

You know when you eat loads, hot food especially, you can get uncomfy in the night? Well it wasn't that. Or had I bruised a rib? We occasionally practice push hands at home, but not with any striking, so it wasn't that. It was more like a soreness inside. Ouch. Sleeping on the other side didn't help. In the morning, the discomfort was still there, associated with a particular organ in the left side of the chest. It would exaggerating to call it pain. Is it possible to red-line a heart, bending the valves? Is it serious? Will it get better by itself?

Saturday was pretty normal, shopping and stuff. World Cup was completely unexciting, about from That Headbutt (Zinedine may have a future as a martial artist?). Lack of excitement is good. Low heartrate is good. I felt OK, but was still aware of Something Different. I cried off the Long Sunday Run, and flopped about at home. Flopped about at the office yesterday.

Today, I trekked through London to get to said colleague's place (two trains and a tube each way, which means about 3 miles of walking). I really felt as if my legs were in a different mode. Not heavy, but prevented from swiftness. It was rather an effort to get about. Normally I bound up stairs two at a time, but today there seemed to be a limit to my rate of progress. I was quite happy to bumble about in third gear. Or just to Sit Down.

Clearly something knows I need to take it easy. I'm going to check with my GP tomorrow. Meanwhile, no more running for a while.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Gaps in the system - outlook fair

If there's one thing runners should not worry about, it's the weather. Right now, the UK is being dampened by a succession of Atlantic storm systems. All par for the course. I think I confused my Chinese teacher more than I should be allowed to with "Ne'er cast a clout 'til May be out", but it holds much truth.

Having said that, it was pretty nice on Tuesday when my usual partner an I did a 6-ish mile loop round Loseley etc. Yesterday was lovely, despite the misery guts forecasters, and I did about 8 miles on my own. Some parts were a bit squishy. This time I took a camera. Here are some curiosities that Surrey tries to hide away:

PuddleFieldSt Francis LittletonLaneOver the gap

(a few more on Flickr)

So far it's looking OK for Sunday's long run. That's normally a sign of a downpour, but I'm not worried. It is what it is.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Munstead and Bramley

We've got a good route established now for the longer Sunday runs. It's got a good hill near the beginning and plenty of options at the end for shortening or lengthening the route as required. We attacked the hill this time, maxing the HR at the top. So much so that I lost count of the seconds when trying to count it. A sign of lack of O2! Really we should be taking these Sunday runs a bit easier. If you are ever near Munstead, look out for the converted water tower, which we ignored completely.

Perfect running weather, bit of sunshine to make things look nice, but cool enough not to dehydrate. We cracked a bit of pace on the flat, didn't dawdle to much at any point, and clocked about 1:50 running time.

No Sunday run next week, as I'm off to Kentish Town again for another day of Wang Hai Jun's tai chi.


Thursday, May 04, 2006


We tried an interval session tonight. 6 x 2' along a nice quiet path on the Loseley estate. That warm weather we're having (that came across on a day trip from France – normal service tomorrow I expect) made things rather sweaty. Six was quite enough.