Saturday, 7 May 2011

A full week of 30 minutes runs!

It's been a few weeks, holidays and nothing exciting to write about, but this week I've managed to run 3 x 30 minute runs, and no apparent ill effects from my knees. This is week 2 of the One Hour Running plan, so I'm pretty upbeat about the running. Give it another couple of weeks and I may think about a ParkRun.....we'll see!

It was a very wet run this morning! Running in the rain is pretty cool though, feeling self-righteous AND splashing around in puddles - got to be a good thing! Plus, getting out when it's raining does mean there's a level of dedication to my running!

In other news, I've finished a new song, No Fear'.

No Fear

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Quick update...

I've managed a few 30 minutes runs, but was struck down by the ubiquitous cold that's been doing the rounds. It took a couple of weeks to shift the cough, so a few runs missed.

I resumed last week and the first run was a bit tough - my lungs were not that impressed with me! Another run on Monday saw me start a bit quickly and then run out of steam - I'm blaming the heat ;-) It's possible I shouldn't have run at all as I had a bit of a swollen knee. It wasn't running-related, but it didn't help that I ran for 35 minutes on it! It is still swollen, and I'm typing this with an ice pack on it. Hopefully it's nothing too much and a couple of days rest will see it off.

Anyway, Monday's run was supposed to be the start of the 'One Hour Runner' program (the link doesn't seem to be working at the moment, but I'll try to remember to link to it when it is!), so I hope I can continue it soon....pesky inflammation!

Well, that's about it for now....unless you're interested in the music bit....there's a new song on the horizon.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

A couple of beautiful runs

I've had a couple of lovely runs in the sun this week, and I'm beginning to feel good. I'm still a little nervous about running too much and the return of the knee pain, but I've had a few consistent weeks now.

This week I've run in the park:


and along the canal:



and I've made it up to the heady heights of 28 minutes of continuous running.

Next week is all about the 30 minute runs, and hopefully three of them.

Bring on the sunshine!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

22 minutes and counting

So, I'm up to the dizzy heights of 22 minutes continuous running, as of this morning. Managed 2 miles today, although I may have gone off a little fast for me as it felt harder than normal. Still, it was very cold, which may not have helped. Little trot around the local reservoir today, it's just short of a mile around it, so did a couple of laps - very nice in the sun though.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for Cancer Research's Race for Life. I think this will be my 7th or 8th year running it, but only the second time at the race I've signed up for. It's 5km (3.2 miles) long, but not until the end of July, so plenty of time to get everything stronger. It's a great experience and a great way of raising some money for a great cause.

I've just learned that a ParkRun should be starting nearish to me in the next few weeks, so I might get out and do that in due course too. I may even be able to convince my husband to start running and do it with me!

I'm feeling a bit of running optimism!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Slowly building time on my feet

18 mintues of running along the canal in sunshine today. It may have been brief, but it was beautiful and reminded me why I have to rehabilitate cautiously and hope I can explore further afield as the weather improves.

I had slight concern after my mid-week run, as I was getting some unnerving pain down the outside of my knee, that reminded me very much of the start of my recent knee issues. It wasn't anything much, but I was concerned that after only 16 minutes worth of running, my knee started to show signs of overuse. However, my panic appears to have been premature and it eased off to nothing within about 36 hours. There was no problem today and hours later, I can't feel anything too alarming - phew! I'm getting bored with writing about knee pains and it's not very entertaining to anyone else either!

Still, I learnt something today....if problems do reoccur, and I can only ever run 20-30 minute runs, preferably along the canal in the sun, I could live with that.

Monday, 7 March 2011

And some running.

Today was a mini milestone in my rehabilitation from a nuisance knee problem. Today I managed to run, albeit a very short 1.25 miles, without noticing my knee! That has got to be a good sign!

The trick now, fingers crossed for no more issues, will be to slowly build my fitness up without overdoing it and stressing my knee unduly - I reckon this should be easy enough, my fitness and endurance are poor at best, so there will be no striding out for masses of miles for a while!

The schedule for the next few weeks is to get out and on my feet for a few minutes more each time. Today was about 14 minutes, so two more runs scheduled this week and they'll be 16 and 18 minutes respectively. Once I get past 30 minutes, I hope I shall be able to build more quickly. I've taken to running around the local park, which means a short drive, but more importantly means I can run on surfaces that are a little softer than tarmac. I thoroughly enjoyed this morning's effort in the sun.

I've also added some core, strength & balance, and glute exercises to my weekly routine, in the hope that I can achieve a more balanced system and therefore try to lessen the burden on my wonky knees.

So, glucosamine....

Well it seems that scientific clinical trials evidence and anecdotal evidence from individuals are pretty much at odds with each other!

In the red corner, we have the clinical trials evidence, most of which finds that taking glucosamine, chrondroitin or both does not reduce knee pain in people with osteoarthritis (see BMJ 2010 Sep 16;341:c4675, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20847017 for a recent meta-analysis on the supplements). This is a nice summary of the recent BMJ study, http://www.nhs.uk/news/2010/09September/Pages/osteoarthritis-supplements-of-no-benefit.aspx On top of this, I think the NHS have stopped funding these supplements due to the lack of evidence that they are beneficial(although in reality I'm sure it's down to lack of resources too - glucosamine doesn't look very cost-effective though!).

Most of the published evidence seems to be in people with osteoarthritis (OA), so it's impossible to tell if it has any benefit in those without OA who wish to reduce damage to their ligaments or to help build them back up, as well as reducing pain.

So, in the blue corner, we have anecdotal evidence from runners who are noticing a difference after taking it, and have found that it reduces pain or reverses problems they were experiencing. Now this may not be scientific evidence, but in my opinion, should not be ignored. See the Runner's World forum for examples Runner's World forums

Suffice to say, this blog post and my research are of limited value! Science says 'no', but runners say, 'probably yes'. From information on the Runner's World forums, people who have found glucosamine to help are aware that it may be a placebo effect, and that it may only work for certain people. Dosage is also something that is likely to be a factor, although it seems that the supplements probably take about 2-3 months to enter the system properly.

So, maybe scientific research should be performed in healthy sports people to ascertain the benefit or not of glucosamine & chrondoitin as supplements. Otherwise, we will all keep spending our money in the hope that it is helping us to run healthily.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Quick update ....

I've managed 3 little runs (around 1 mile each) and my knee seems to be holding up. Slight hiatus now because of a virus, but I'm currently trying to work out a good running schedule that doesn't see me putting myself at injury risk. Lots of strengthening exercises - glutes, hamstrings, calves, core muscles - will hopefully be included to try to build a strong base. Once I've worked the plan out, I'll post it here to try to help me stick to it!

I'm currently trying to research into whether the dietary supplements glucosamine & chondroitin actually help to protect from joint and cartilage issues or not. You hear them being recommended by loads of people who do a lot of exercise, but evidence is still questionable. A recent edition of Runner's World seemed to have some slightly conflicting info on it's efficacy, so I'd like to look into it all a bit more. I'll post my findings once I've done a bit of literature searching.

On the music front, I have lyrics to a new song (working title: No Fear), but have not had time to do much more than that - practicing for a band gig was taking up my time. I should have some free time over the next few weeks, so hopefully progress will be made.

Hopefully I'll be back with some glucosamine/chondroitin info soon.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

I have run!!

Today I managed to get out for my first run of 2011!

OK, so I only did 1 mile, but that was a conscious decision as my knee is still a bit uncomfortable. I got through the mile with no difficulty and no pain, so I am very, very pleased. Precautionary ice was added when I got back, but I'm optimistic that it won't be any worse tomorrow.

I jogged a very easy mile around the local park and although I could feel my knee to begin with, a few minutes in and I could no longer feel it. I suspect that a bit of exercise is going to do it more good than harm, as long as I continue with the physio exercises and am sensible about how much I do. Hopefully, I get the chance to do a couple of weeks of really easy and short jogs and can build from there.

I have a suspicion that I wasn't doing the physio exercises as well as I should be, so a slight change in technique and intensity and I'm hoping this is the start of some consistent running.

Fingers crossed.

Friday, 4 February 2011

New song - Can't Stop

OK, so after a little hiatus, I am back...and with something to post!

My song is finished! It's called 'Can't Stop':

Can't Stop

The lyrics are quite self-explanatory, but I guess it's about building a relationship up in your head with someone, and then discovering that it's mostly one-sided, but not being able to stop thinking about it.

I never quite know where my lyric ideas come from!! They're often sparked by TV or maybe how people I see interact and just spark a storyline. It's often something very small that sets off maybe a line or two, which I then build on.

The lyrics are here in full in case you can't catch them all (they do come thick and fast in a few bits!):

Verse 1
When you came into my life
I didn't see the signs
Of what could change
What you could be to me
When day turned to night
Revealed your shining light
Opened my eyes
Taught me to believe

Now I...

Chorus
I can't stop thinking about your face
And I can't stop thinking about your ways
And I can't stop thinking about you,
Nooo-oooo-ooooo-oh

I can't stop thinking about that place
And I can't stop thinking about those days
And I can't stop thinking about you
Nooo-oooo-ooooo-oh

Verse 2
Thought I could change your world
And that you'd be in mine
This was our chance to see
All could be so fine
It's all about moving forward
But without regret
Memories may fade
But you're too hard to forget.

I'm pretty pleased with this one, but let me know what you think.

Cheers

Friday, 21 January 2011

Some previous songs

So, as I'm not yet able to post copious amounts of run updates and the songwriting thing takes a while to get done, I thought I'd post links to a couple of my previous works.

In My Head was written and recorded towards the end of 2010 and is my favourite of my tracks so far (you'd appreciate this if you heard earlier efforts!!).

In My Head

Reckless was written at the end of 2009, but it took me months to get a half decent mix.  I bloody hope I get better at it, or I'm never going to get 10 or so songs finished this year!

Reckless

It should be pretty easy to hear how In My Head improved in every aspect on Reckless.  Good to know that I'm improving!  The drums on Reckless are much more 'electronic'.  They use the great software Jamstix 2 (by Rayzoon), but there's no denying that the drums in In My Head sound better and more 'acoustic' .  On this one I've used EZDrummer (by Toontrack), which is definitely my drum software of choice now.

Although my vocals aren't entirely convincing in either, they definitely sound more confident in In My Head.  Hopefully some more singing lessons will have improved them for the new song - not sure after some listening back last night though!

I hope to really progress the track in the next few days, because if I'm going to get an album's worth done, I'm going to need to speed it all up a bit!  I hope to get Can't Stop Thinking finished by the end of the month, but mixing seems to be such an iterative process, and I always need some guidance from my online mates!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Song update

A quick update on how the new song is coming along...

Vocals have now mostly been recorded....well at least until I listen back properly and cringe!  A few backing vocals to work on yet.  Lead guitar parts have also been recorded, including a mini solo - pretty happy with them at the moment.  In theory, all I have to do is choose the best takes and mix it....in practice, I have the most time-consuming part and, for me, definitely the hardest part, yet to do.

I'm happy with the way it's coming along though.

As far as knee rehab is going, I'm still doing 2 different physio exercises to try to correct things a bit, and I suspect it may be improving slightly.  Fingers crossed!

Monday, 10 January 2011

Recording

I've now recorded the bass part and some second guitar parts.  The bass part is about ready to be used after editing, but I'm not sure I've got the right bass part for the chorus yet.  It's currently just the root note following the acoustic chord parts, whereas the verses are mildly more ambitious - I am definitely no bass player!  Might think about a slightly more interesting bass line for the chorus parts later.

I've not listened back to the second guitar parts yet as they probably need to be worked around the vocals.  I have recorded guide vocals so I can have a go at that later too.

I like how the song is beginning to sound and I get such a buzz from jamming around trying to get a part that works for each instrument.  Normally, once I've got the main chord parts and the vocal ideas, I then want to get it all done and recorded asap, but I'm enjoying the recording process and messing around with different parts much more this time.  I don't imagine I'll be saying the same about the mixing process, but that's the bit where I need to think much more and learn about all the tools that make it possible to present a song in its best light.  Writing some of the important bits down here will help me consolidate the information and get it all understood in my head better.  At least if I write it down I can come back to it when I've forgotten by the next song!

Thank goodness for the music though, as I'm beginning to get frustrated about not being able to run.  I'm diligently doing the physio exercises and I shouldn't expect it to be corrected overnight.....but I do ;-)

Thursday, 6 January 2011

The recording has begun.

I managed to spend a bit of time yesterday recording an acoustic guitar part to my new song, Can't Stop Thinking (working title). 

It was pretty time consuming as it always is when setting up the software (known as a DAW - digital audio workstation) in preparation for a new track.  For a start, I always forget that I need drums in place before I record anything else otherwise the timings are miles out.  I find it easier to play along to drums than to a click track, it seems much more natural.  So, I set off putting in some rough drums with EZDrummer - a life-saving piece of software for a drum numpty like me.  Thirty minutes later, I have rough drums that I can play along to.

Next technical bit is to decide on a suitable tone for the guitar part.  And believe me, there are endless combinations of which I am, of course, too lazy to try most of!  In the case of the acoustic part yesterday, I decided on no amps or effects, just a bit of tweaking of an EQ thingy to cut out much of the bassy bottom end - I'll only ditch it in the mix later, and it sounded quite nice and bright.

Then it's down to remembering what to play and not getting freaked out by the red record light!  I wrote out the chords (crap memory!) and looked away from the light (NEVER look towards the light, people!!).  It was surprisingly straight-forward to get most of the song down, although there is a fast change of chord at the end of the verse that was giving me some issues!  A few overdubs and I have something to work with.....I will be spending plenty of time cutting and pasting the good bits together and even longer tightening up the timing, but that's all part of the process.

Stage 1 complete, main acoustic tracks down....

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Music first, half marathon later...

It's becoming clear to me that running is going to be off the menu for a while yet.  My knee is still sporadically sore and I know that the hip/knee weakness needs addressing before I can turn my attention to running again.  The exercises I was diligently doing (for about a week!) are aggravating my knee - I guess that's because they are supposed to simulate my running stride! - so I've started on low intensity physio exercises on my knee for the time being.  I hope I can then progress to some more 'heavy duty' physio exercises.  So for now, I'm going to put the running on the back burner whilst I rehabilitate properly.  Hopefully, I may be able to get the bike out (still in the shed!) and cycle between now and when the running can commence.  In my head, I reckon it'll be a month before I can see where I'm at.

Good job I had another ambition for the year....so, to the album of songs. 

When I first started to entertain the idea of writing songs, I had no idea of the work involved.  Sit down, write some lyrics, strum a few chords, record to tape, sit back and enjoy angst-ridden song.  Sadly, I was deluded!  The writing of the song is quite often the easy bit!  Recording decent sounding guitars, bass, vocals is not so easy, and as for getting drums....nightmare!  Fortunately, the drum problem has been solved for me by Toontrack's EZDrummer, which essentailly does it for me - I have no idea as far as drums are concerned.  Recording other parts improves and quickens with practice, but I'm not so great at performing well with the red recording light staring at me!  Once the recording is done, then there's, in my opinion, the slowest and hardest part of the equation.....mixing!  MIXING!  When I idealistically started writing songs, I had no interest or knowledge of this black art they call production.  'It's all about the song', says I.  I still believe this and spout it often, but I am beginning to realise the importance of mixing and the production of a song.  It might be a great song, but buried under a crap mix and no-one will know if it is or not!  So, I've been laboriously trying to learn about mixing over the past couple of years.  I'm mostly still a bit rubbish, but slowly, I'm beginning to learn more aspects of it.

As I have just about finished writing a new song (working title 'Can't Stop Thinking'), I am about to embark on the less appealing aspects of recording and mixing.  Documenting the process as I go, would be a great way of self-improvement/awareness, and maybe someone else will get something from it too.  Now all I need to do is remember to document it as I go (surprise, surprise, I'm normally very lazy about this!) and go get recording.....hopefully tomorrow.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2011.

As predicted, the blogging ceased over Christmas, but I'll get back on it and doing stuff as of....well, probably after a few days rest to recover from New Year's Eve!   Well, it was a late one last night, the band, Blinkwatch, had a gig last night and it went really well.  We rocked, and the audience were really up for a good night, so we had a blast.  We played a couple of sets and managed a few encores.  One of the highlights of the evening for me was when I was packing the car up and a couple of younger audience members (around 20 years old, I'd think) shouted 'awesome set' at me as they left....kudos with the kids, can't be bad :-)  The crowd went mad for James' 'Sit Down'...what is it with the simple songs!!

Anyway, I did manage to get the rest of the song I'd promised to finish over the Christmas period written, so now all I have to do is learn to play it well and record it!

Here's to a happy and healthy 2011.