January Habits

January Habits Update: Journaling

We’re just over halfway through the year, so I’m going to review my January Habits and see how I’m getting on. This week, the final week, is Journaling.

This is another habit which I’ve (generally) kept going fairly steadily over the last few months, although to be honest I probably have slipped a bit and don’t always spend as much time on it as I could do. There has been the odd week when I’ve not felt like putting the time in on a Sunday evening to plan for the next week, but I have generally caught up. I have missed one or two weeks, including two weeks ago when I missed my weekly Wednesday evening blog post, so maybe I do need to keep at it.

In terms of content and layout, these have remained broadly similar (if you compare the below image to the one back in January). At the moment a lot of my entries are reminders of what runs I need to do in my marathon training plan, but it is quite handy to be able to see at a glance what I need to be doing that week and plan around it.

This week’s log pages (at time of writing)

The only thing that’s really changed (apart from the styling of the month in the top corner) is adding a couple more items to the tracker and modifying the colour requirements. It’s now more colourful, but I’m not sure I’m making the most of going back and comparing one week to the next.

Some weeks are better than others

I do intend to keep going with my journaling habit (such as it is), but I don’t think it’s completely embedded into my life yet. It may be that I need to tweak it slightly to make it more relevant day to day, but I’m fairly happy with it at the moment so will likely just keep going as I am.

And that’s it for my mid-year review of my January habits. Assuming I’m still blogging at that point, I’ll revisit them again in December to see if they’ve made it through a whole year (although I’ll probably combine them all into one post for a briefer overview).

January Habits

January Habits Update: Cold showers

I know I didn’t post anything lost week. I’m sorry. Absence makes the heart grow fonder or something. Anyway, back to this week’s post…

We’re just over halfway through the year, so I’m going to review my January Habits and see how I’m getting on. This week, cold showers.

I’ve very much had a love-hate relationship with cold showers, but surprisingly this is the most consistent habit that I’ve developed. Apart from when I’ve been away staying with friends or family (such as last week, hence the lack of blog post), almost all my showers have involved cold water.

I’m probably not embracing the cold shower thing completely, but I’ve settled on a few different levels of cold shower. The coldest shower is the icy cold shower which I tend to have after I’ve been out for a run. At the warmest end is a cold-to-lukewarm shower for an after breakfast shower (an icy cold shower straight after eating isn’t so comfortable). And then all my other showers fit somewhere in between those temperatures. Even if I start with a “warmer” shower, I’ll still often turn down the temperature for the last few moments of the shower.

There’s not really much to say other than that I’ll keep going with this habit. It is surprisingly enjoyable to have a cold shower and I would recommend it to anyone (although it probably needs to be tested in the long term, rather than just a one off). I would also recommend showering in the dark. My bathroom light switch broke this week and not being able to see anything adds a whole other dimension to the shower experience.

January Habits

January Habits Update: Exercise

We’re just over halfway through the year, so I’m going to review my January Habits and see how I’m getting on. This week, exercise.

Back in January, things were very different. Although “guidance” rather than “the law”, due to lockdown it was only allowed to do one outdoor exercise per day. Back then I was fine with only going for a short run every day as it helped keep my mental health on track for a day of working from home.

But now, things are returning to normal and I’m back in the office most days and generally just out and about more. I’m also now following a training plan for running the London Marathon in October. Suffice it to say that my short 2km run per day is no longer suitable. Today, for example, my training plan had me run 5 miles (about 8km) and yesterday was 6 miles (just under 10km). Tomorrow is another 5 miles…

I can just about fit a 50 minute (5 mile) run into my schedule before work, assuming I wake up early enough, but anything longer than that and it has to be on the way home or in the evening. And as the training plan goes on, the distances get longer too, so it becomes less likely that I’ll be able to do the exercise before work.

There’s something nice about not even having got to work and already having met the step count target for the day, but I think I am going to have to move my runs to the evening. The good news though is that I’m currently running five days a week as part of my training plan. It’s not the every day that I mentioned in my original January Habits plan, but rest days are important too. I would say I’m still on schedule with this habit. And I’m fine with that.

January Habits

January Habits Update: Waking up early

We’re just over halfway through the year, so I’m going to review my January Habits and see how I’m getting on. First off, waking up early.

I actually quite liked waking up early, but I never quite fully got into the routine of it. I would just about get used to waking up early and then something would disrupt my pattern and I would be back to waking up later again.

I think the main problem was that I didn’t have any incentive to wake up early. Yes, some days I would go for a run (more on that next week), but on the other days I didn’t really have anything productive to do. I did have a few ideas of things to do, but being sat in front on the computer first thing in the morning isn’t what I want to do (I realise I could do other things but that’s what most of ideas revolved around).

The other problem is that real life started to occur. Back in January, everything was locked down and my bedtimes/waketimes weren’t impacted by anything else. Since then though, things like seeing friends, going to the pub, going to the running club, are all things that are done in the evening. And if I stay up later for these things, I don’t want to be waking up early in the morning too.

I have however taken away some things from this experiment. I do still go to bed earlier and wake up earlier than I used to, but not *as* early as I was back in January. And I do still get my 7.5-8 hours sleep every night (I also don’t set an alarm clock now, but maybe that’s a different story). But it feels like a good balance to me.

Out and about

“Walking” From Home

I know, I did a post with a very similar title recently about doing a long walking route where I went home every night and back again the next morning. Well, this one is different.

Back in May, I went out for a 26 mile walk in the Chilterns (I know I’ve done a lot of walking recently). This was a set route with questions to answer at various checkpoints to prove that the route had been followed. All of the grid references for the questions were available before the walk started, and part of the challenge was to plan your own route. But given the questions and the available footpaths between them, there was really only one possible option for the majority of the walk. For example, in the picture below, the only sensible option between points 7 and 8 is to follow the green-dashed footpath (the red line shows the direct line between checkpoints).

However, there was one point where I got distracted and forgot to look for the answer to the question I was on. It was only when I was a few hundred metres later on that I realised I’d missed it out. I knew exactly where the answer was as I’d seen it as I walked past (but just not realised I was supposed to be paying more attention). Rather than go back, I decided I would just check Google Street View when I got home.

And then that got me wondering: how much of the walk could I just do from home on the internet without doing any actual walking. So I thought I would check.

Some answers were very easy to find on Street View (including the one I needed). However, Street View doesn’t generally cover footpaths and so a lot of answers couldn’t be found this way. And even if there is Street View coverage, some questions relied on reading signs which is quite impossible due the image resolution not being high enough.

This is the correct signpost, but good luck trying to answer “What symbol is displayed in a square sign for the National Trust?”

Some of the answers remaining were quite easy to find elsewhere on the internet. For example, there was a question to state the reference number of the trig point at the top of Ivinghoe Beacon. The internet is full of photos of trig points and it was easy to find the answer.

My photo of the trig point plate at Ivinghoe Beacon. There are lots of very similar photos at Trigpointing:UK

Some other questions were guessable based on the context of the question without even visiting the area, although not always correctly. For example, “Happiness grows on what?” is probably “trees” (correct), but “Warning! What vehicles are operating?” is “agricultural” (my initial guess was “farm”).

But a lot of answers couldn’t be found at all (or at least not without specific knowledge of the subject or a much more detailed search).

Number of correct answers visible on Street View or available elsewhere on the internet10
Answers that may or may not be correct based on guesses or incomplete information on the internet6
Number of answers not possible without visiting the actual location16

There were six questions that I could possibly make a guess at based on the question or making an extrapolation based on internet data, and even if these guesses were correct, it would only be possible to get 16/32, a measly 50% score. I don’t know if there was a “pass rate” as such, but I don’t think that only half marks would qualify as completing the route.

I got 100% correct by walking the route and to be honest, I think it would take longer to try and find all the answers on the internet than just doing the walk. And I also had the advantage that I had already done the walk so I knew what the actual answers were and what I should be searching for online. So really it’s well done to the organisers for choosing good questions which can’t be found on the internet and ensures that “walking” from home can’t happen.

If you want to look at the questions (or to do the walk), it’s available here. (Note: You had to do it before the end of May to do it as part of the organised event, which is why I can talk about the answers now.)

Life event

Duvet Day

Two weeks ago was Duvet Day.

Duvet Day, noun. The day at which I switch from using a duvet and duvet cover to just using a duvet cover.

Duvet Day happens every year, normally towards the beginning of June. When it gets too hot overnight for a full duvet, I switch to just using the duvet cover by itself. There’s normally a delay between the temperature increasing and Duvet Day, mainly because removing a duvet from its cover is awkward, as everyone knows.

Yesterday was Re-Duvet Day.

Re-Duvet Day, noun. The day at which I switch from using just a duvet cover to using a duvet and duvet cover.

Re-Duvet Day happens every year, normally towards the beginning of September. When it gets too cool overnight for just a duvet cover, I return to using a duvet inside the cover. There’s normally a delay between the temperature dropping and Re-Duvet Day, mainly because inserting a duvet into its cover is awkward, as everyone knows.

But this year is one of those with an early Re-Duvet day as the temperature has dropped early. Here’s a graph showing the temperature this month:

(Taken from Accuweather)

The first half of this month (bar the 4 June) has been well above the average temperature for this time of year. However the last few days have been far below average, hence the return to a duvet. It does look like the temperature is rising again, and I’m sure there will be a second Duvet Day in the next few weeks. Until then though, it’s back to my trusty 4.5 Tog.


Running out

I feel like I’ve run out of things to say here.

Not because I’ve run out of ideas, but because I’ve run out of content to post. The problem is that I have several ideas for things to write about, but they all take quite a long time to research and write up (and then correct all the errors). Alternatively, I post something short, like last week’s, which is quick and easy, but feels slightly unsatisfying.

I could probably get some of these longer articles posted if I didn’t leave it until last thing on the Wednesday evening to start writing. But the rest of my time is spent doing other stuff, and it’s currently too hot to spend too long sat in front of the computer writing something (especially when I’ve been sat here all day too).

I could probably just not post something weekly, but that seems like admitting defeat. I was tempted not to post something today, but I’m sure someone would have complained (not that I have a huge readership). I’m sure I’ve said this before, but people who blog regularly (with actually interesting content) are impressive people.

I don’t think I’m there yet, but I’m also not throwing in the towel yet.

Wordless Wednesday

Back to life

This is the reason I’m glad I hadn’t thrown away my basil plant.

Life event

Challenge (partially) complete!

I did it. Well, partially did it. Remember the challenge to walk 100 miles in 48 hours? Yeah, I didn’t completely do that. But I did walk 75 miles continuously and in doing so I did achieve the secondary target of walking 50 miles in 24 hours. At triple the distance of my previous longest walk (27 miles), I’m very happy with what I did achieve.

Here’s three things I learnt:

  1. 100 miles is a very long way to walk
  2. 75 miles is also a very long way to walk
  3. Eating a pot noodle without a t-shirt on isn’t the best idea (it’s quite splashy)

Here’s three things I’ve done since finishing the walk:

  1. Slept for 11 hours
  2. Washed all my walking clothes
  3. Realised I’d left my earphones in the pocket of my walking trousers (they’re actually fine)

Here’s three things I should have done since finishing the walk (but haven’t):

  1. Fully unpack my backpack
  2. Clean the mud off my walking poles
  3. Put some effort in to writing a blog post about it

Pizza delivery

I mentioned a few weeks ago that there had been a few occasions when takeaway delivery drivers had incorrectly tried to deliver their wares to my flat, and I questioned whether I should just accept it. (Just to point out here that I never have.)

Fast forward to this week, and a couple of days ago I was sat at home and the doorbell rang. I wasn’t expecting any deliveries so I was surprised when the man announced that he was delivering pizza. Expecting him to have the wrong address, I told him so, but then he read back the address and it matched mine.

It is a pizza chain I’ve used before so they do have my details, but I wouldn’t have expected a national pizza chain to make this sort of admin mistake (and I had never heard of it happening before). Had I somehow managed to pocket order a pizza on my phone? But that was unlikely and surely I would have had some sort of confirmation message. Had someone done a random act of kindness and just ordered me a pizza? I’m not against that idea if anyone does want to do that, but I would probably have expected someone to say something first.

So there I was, with these thoughts running through my head and a man on the doorstep trying to give me pizza which was definitely addressed to my flat. Could I accept the food delivery this time? I had already eaten, but there’s nothing wrong with cold pizza and it definitely wouldn’t be wasted.

Unfortunately at this point, the delivery driver decided to phone the contact number for the order. It turns out my next door neighbours had just put the wrong flat number and there went my free pizza…

Should I just have taken the pizza straight away? Should I just accept every incorrect delivery? Would you have accepted it?