Just under 17 weeks to go until the big day and I am still trying to set up a little countdown on the blog, but to no avail so far. The 'add applications' function won't let me add any of the diverse things from Google weather to 'joke of the day' so I will have to carry on trying to keep you entertained with pictures instead.
I'm very pleased with how the weekend went. Managed to get out on Friday night for a 3.5 mile run with one of my housemates. It took about 40 minutes and included some decent hills so I was very happy with that. On Saturday I trained (football) for an hour and a half and then went running again on Sunday - the same route but in reverse this time. Overall then I probably covered about 8 miles or so, including the football, and was active for nearly 3 hours - an improvement on some previous weeks anyway.
Having spent the last 3 or 4 posts solely on my own training I think it's time to spark off a topic of more general discussion, that of i-Pods in the Parish (and of course other events too.)
As a preliminary point I know that in the race regulations it does state that walkers are discouraged from having personal music players. The regulations clearly state that: "the wearing of headphones is inadvisable as it increases the risk to the walker's safety." (Reg 5.)
Clearly this is not an absolute ban on wearing headphones, but I think everyone can see where the organisers are coming from in cautioning against wearing them. This is particularly evident I believe in the earlier part of the race where you often need to hear instructions from marshals when crossing roads (NSC, Union Mills, Marown, Oatlands Road etc.)
There are many people who do choose to listen to music during the Parish, and one argument which I find it hard to disagree with is 'provided I take my headphones out at the obviously dangerous places, like crossing roads, where is the harm in wearing them?' Add to that the fact that usually until at least Santon (depending on how near the front you are) there is nearly always a big group of people around you anyway, and very little risk of you coming into conflict with any traffic, it seems that there should not be an issue with music.
Where I think the pro-headphones argument really comes into its own is for those who are hoping either to finish, or at least continue walking into the evening and night. I'm sure it can get very lonely in the northen parts of the course as the field becomes more and more strung out and the darkness begins to set in. Music can be a great motivator and it is surprising how you can eat up the miles without really thinking about it, once you have a good tune on the iPod. Of course, night walking brings added danger for those with headphones because not only is it more difficult to hear the traffic, it's harder to see it as well...but perhaps more importantly it is harder for you to be seen.
My own personal view is that anyone who wants to listen to music should not be prevented from doing so, provided that they are sensible and are prepared to take out those headphones at crucial times during the day. I think this is reflected in the regulations - the organisers want everyone to enjoy the day as much as possible but have to be mindful of safety considerations as well. I guess the best way to sum everything up is: do what works for you - music or not - but take care.
I've never had an iPod for the Parish itself but I do like to have it with me when I am training (and this includes road walking too, not just pavements.) As long as it is quiet enough for me to be able to hear the whoosh of traffic, I feel safe, particularly as walking on the right hand side allows me to see oncoming traffic from a reasonable distance and adjust my position in the road if needs be. Not that walking in the Manx countryside is ever boring, but some favourite tunes can make the whole thing even better.
I actually went as far as to plumb the depths of iTunes and create a 'walking' playlist (not very difficult, but my first playlist nevertheless.) Prior to that all the music was just 'there' and I would stick it on shuffle and get going. Eventually I got fed up of some of the random songs coming on time and time again, so I decided to tailor the selection so that I would theoretically never have to hit 'next' every 5 minutes.
As well as personal favourites, I also searched for songs with a decent beat that were more or less in time with my walking pace, and added them too. This has been great because it keeps me in a good rhythm and has also reminded me of some songs I would probably not otherwise have on the iPod. Here are a few links to some of them - even if the song is not to your taste (as not all of them are to mine) they are great for keeping in time. Not sure if the hyperlinks will work but if not, copy/paste into your browser should do the trick.
Canned Heat - 'On the Road Again' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIhXiyHjIlg
Brilliant beat. The singing can get on the nerves after a while though.
Booker T and the MGs - 'Green Onions' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFVK0AOB8Vk
...if you don't mind the voice-over for the first 35 seconds!
The Committments - 'Mustang Sally' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sxc8Sm0nXpE
No introduction needed
Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons - 'Walk Like a Man' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LptJktBgbRM
The Ventures - 'Walk Don't Run' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJ11y7pYl-8
Even more appropriate!
Madness - 'Baggy Trousers' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LptJktBgbRM
Bit quick maybe, but harmless fun
So next time you're out for a walk, just imagine yourself cruising along to a bit of Booker T or The Ventures...and maybe give it a try.