Petestack Blog

3 January 2017


Filed under: Running — admin @ 5:23 pm

It didn’t start as a plan to run 372 consecutive days. But salvaging just over 50% mostly ‘token’ running days from a busy final two months of 2015 seemed like pretty poor show, so I set about chasing a January ‘streak’ to make up. Then continued into the start of February for good measure before realising it was a leap year and starting to get further silly ideas…

So how often do you get the chance to run the whole of a calendar leap year? Unless you’re expecting to live through the year 2100, just once every four years, and, if you are, not quite even that! So you’ve been running daily since 29 December and haven’t ‘wasted’ much pre-2016 streak… what could be more natural than targetting the calendar 2016? Except that you also need three days of 2017 to balance the three from 2015, making a total of 3 + 366 + 3 = 372. It’s irrefutable ‘Peter logic’, so don’t argue with it!

The rules? Basically at least three miles and (later) half an hour a day, but I’ve accepted over 25 minutes and under three miles (same as ‘Marcothon’ rules) on some occasions. Personally I’d be looking for at least three miles on the road, but normally only run on roads to get to hills and trails, so have counted some 2.6-to-3.0-milers (less than 1% of the total, and mostly back in January and February) involving steep/rough trail, of which there is plenty round here to slow you down. Most of my runs have met the dual criteria of being at least three miles and at least half an hour, and I’d insist on that if starting again knowing I was going for the year.

What about illnesses or injuries? You just have to keep going! I’ve had to run a few days with leg injury niggles, one with probable food poisoning, a couple with a stinking cough/cold and a couple of weeks with significant upper-body discomfort after I fell over a trestle outside my workshop door in pitch dark! The leg injury niggles were mainly my own fault. Back in March we had one-mile Sport Relief walk/run at the school and I was out supervising. Walked the first half-mile lap of pavement in my regular working clothes (including soft leather shoes), then stupidly ran the second, caught a lot of kids and finished with very tight hams. So might have wrecked the whole thing just two-and-a-half months in, but thought I might as well try my daily run because I’d blown it anyway if I couldn’t, so forced myself to jog one of my shorter courses that evening and managed to run it off over a few (?) days. The food-poisoned and other health-compromised runs weren’t a lot of fun, but I was far enough into the year for all of them not to take no for an answer!

Travel, visitors, busy days, other activities and/or nasty weather? Still no excuse! Had to suss out tiresome logistics like running after (non-running) winter hill days or running first thing before supervising DofE Bronze day 1 and evening after return from day 2. So, with other trips away, courses, meetings, concerts, heavy works in the garden etc., a fair number of runs overall at times (or in states) that weren’t exactly convenient. Likewise the weather… plenty of foul, wet and/or dark runs endured as well as the odd storm (e.g. Barbara and Conor over Christmas 2016) braved. It’s really not practical, this every-day-come-what-may lark, but (while acknowledging that others have achieved far longer streaks that are not for me) good to have done it once!

So how do I feel? Tired. Strong but slow. It’s a completely different challenge than training for and/or completing an ultra run, and goes on even longer! I’ve probably notched up one of my lowest-mileage years through the preponderance of shorter runs in this restless daily programme, but still find myself creaking in a few places and (literally?) miles from my fittest, fastest or lightest shape. Also thought ongoing Achilles and under-heel niggles might be a problem earlier in the year, but curiously seemed to eventually run them off months ago. Does this mean some bits have actually come out stronger despite the daily, no-rest bashing? Dunno, but certainly interested to see how they respond as well as what happens re. general performance/fluidity with the normality of running most days restored after a short break.

Would I recommend it? Well, I’m neither going to say try it nor don’t! Having some concerns even about the 31-day ‘Marcothon’ (which I’ve just completed by accident) as a popular challenge, I’d have to say that pig-headed continuous streaks may do you more harm than good and pig-headed continuous years may do you more harm than pig-headed continuous months. If you’re a regular runner with the experience to classify your own injury niggles as ‘ignore’, ‘take care’ or ‘stop’, I wouldn’t try to stop you any more than I’d want you to try stopping me. But I don’t think you’ll perform at your best on a continuous streak. I really don’t. While I have the undoubted satisfaction of having set a daft target and stuck to it, whether I’ve come out of it (despite current tiredness) with a stronger-than-otherwise base for a more-sensibly-maintainable programme of whatever mileage remains to be seen…

1 January 2017

Light streaming from the hill

Filed under: Running — admin @ 2:34 pm

A striking moment on this first day of 2017… I’d run up past the Grey Mare’s waterfall to the marble bench, then along to the cattle grid from where I can see the big pinnacle of the Aonach Eagach where I’d scattered part of my father’s ashes to wish him a Happy New Year. And then, just as I’d started back and was coming to the point at which that pinnacle’s lost from view, the corrie and glen my side of the pinnacles were lit up by streaming rays from the low sun behind the ridge to the south. Now perhaps it was just serendipitous timing, but still enough to stop me briefly to tell him again that I loved him. And then that magic light was gone, but you can see why folk have wanted to interpret natural phenomena as ‘signs’ since time immemorial! :-)

12 December 2016

The Amazing Grace of Running

Filed under: Running — admin @ 11:50 pm

Make of the title what you will — an elegance I’ve admired in others but never had, a quasi-religious reference to the ‘soul-saving’ properties of a physical activity, a nonsensical attempt to compare said activity to a tune in triple time — but here are some thoughts about intangible things set down in something approaching tangible form…

Having just spent a weekend with runners (for the FBU London Pirate’s 50th) and talked at breakfast yesterday of the essential simplicity of running (meaning both its essential simplicity and indispensability), I was driving back up the road from Strathaven listing to a discussion about Amazing Grace on Sunday Morning with Ricky Ross on Radio Scotland. Now here’s a song (and this was discussed) with resonance beyond its more obvious religious overtones… loved, admired and inspiring people the world over for its ‘universality’, memorable sincerity and (despite its association with the tune New Britain we now call Amazing Grace coming 28 years after its author’s death) perfect marriage of powerfully economical words and music. Ask me what other songs I can think of with these qualities and I might say A Man’s a Man for a’ That, Auld Lang Syne (to its original, rather than most popular, tune), Over the Rainbow (yes, to me truly a perfect song!) and… I’m sure there are more but I’d really have to start thinking!

So I was driving back up the road thinking about the ‘running’ conversation… how running is one of the simplest of all activities (requiring less kit and therefore being more spontaneous than, for example, sailing, climbing or even cycling), how I can just grab my shoes and run, how running can be just running while I’m out no matter what kind of mess my house/work/life has been left behind in, how it provides the clearest thinking time because (I suppose) you’re both benefitting from the exercise/environment and free of these other normally unavoidable things… and then it came to me… ‘the Amazing Grace of Running’. It’s been ‘saving’ me for years and will doubtless continue to do so; I’ve said before that ‘running is the solution, not the problem’, so let’s just tweak that a little to suggest that, in running, ‘I once was lost, but now am found’, and in thinking while running, ‘was blind but now I see.’ But then you might also wonder what I’m playing at by entering another big race having said (in the same blog!) ‘while running is still the solution, racing is part of the problem’ and that’s ‘why you’ll *never* see me grace the starting line of that race again’? To which I can only plead that life changes, water flows under bridges and, in wanting to join the only race that could still do this to me once more, I’m ‘racing to run’ rather than ‘running to race’ so absolutely not returning to racing per se. It’s all going to be kept low-key and you’re not going to hear me talking about my goals because I don’t yet know what they are and don’t want to make rods for my own back by broadcasting them even if/when I do.

26 September 2016

Magic numbers

Filed under: Running — admin @ 8:01 pm

Today’s (great) odd numbers are 273 and 99. That’s 273 consecutive days running, 99 to get my three-day 2015/2017 overlaps, 96 to complete the calendar leap year of 2016 and 93 for the year from my start date, so sub-100 no matter how you look at it! :-)

1 September 2016

Two-thirds streak

Filed under: Running — admin @ 9:44 pm

When you like balanced, even numbers, 248 and 124 has to be the best pair yet! :-)

8 July 2016

East Lochaber and Laggan Community Trust

Filed under: Climbing,Cycling,Kinlochleven,Running,Walking — admin @ 10:55 am

Something potentially huge for this area, so please try to get to one of the meetings, folks!

From Andrew Baxter on Facebook:

Some really important meetings coming up next week to discuss how local residents can get involved in a bid for the community to own the Rio Tinto estates, so that the land is owned by the people who live here, not by a multinational company with remote shareholders.

The new East Lochaber and Laggan Community Trust has been set up in response to Rio Tinto Aluminium’s announcement that they would review the Lochaber smelter. The Trust is very keen to see the smelter continuing, if at all possible, and sees an opportunity to work with parties that might run the power stations in Kinlochleven and Fort William, and others that could operate the smelter and/or develop other employment options in the area.

The role of the community trust would be to own the estate, stretching from Kinlochleven across to Laggan. The Trust will be community led, appointing unpaid voluntary directors. We need to demonstrate widespread community support, so please come along to one of our meetings to find out more:

Monday 11th July 7 p.m. Inverlochy Village Hall
Tuesday 12th July 7 p.m. The Leven Centre, Kinlochleven
Wednesday 13th July 7 p.m Caol Community Centre
Wednesday 13th July 8 p.m Kilmallie Hall
Thursday 14th July 7 p.m. Spean Bridge Community Hall

Please share.

1 July 2016

Half streak

Filed under: Running — admin @ 6:50 pm

(3 + 366 + 3) ÷ 2 = 186 = Friday 1 July, and still my extended ‘January’ plods on! I’ve been faster, fitter, lighter and done more miles at other times, but running every day is a different challenge…

15 May 2016

Petestack for narrower screens

Filed under: Site — admin @ 1:45 pm

[Update: 19 May 2016]
Have to say some of what’s below already smacks slightly of ‘false dawn’, but hopefully cracked it now through a combination of further reading, real-life phone feedback/screenshots and Chrome Developer Tools as apparently the only mobile phone emulator I can trust. So now we’ve got the meta viewport tag, HTML5 replacing XHTML everywhere except the blog (apparently some work to do on validation there), some more thoughtfully-tweaked ‘break points’ in line with what I’ve learned and seen, and things looking/working much better?

Also bashed ahead with a long-desired rebuild of the whole site to parse all those irritatingly uneditable legacy static HTML files as PHP to include main menus, section sub-menus etc. from a much smaller, more maintainable repository, so now much, much easier to make quick site- or section-wide changes where things should be almost infinitely adaptable because the layout’s been predominantly freeflowing/unconstrained from the very start.

[Original 15 May post with some annotations]
As a hand-coding, standards-compliant web designer from my first forays into HTML and CSS to create this site 16 years ago, nobody should be surprised that I’ve always believed in fluid/flexible layouts. But I doubt many designers were really thinking about phones or even tablets back then (I still don’t use them for Internet myself, but try not to forget folk who do), and have been aware for a while now (= years!) that some site elements here like the main menu (still a slicker variation of the original 2000 concept) and blog sidebar (a 2009 addition) were going to be at least ugly on smaller tablets and impossible for many phones. So now finally (!) some quick belated hacks to keep things more or less usable [edit: fail!] in narrow viewports:

  1. CSS max-width now overriding hard-coded sizes for all site images (with a few necessary exceptions like the Kinlochleven main photo) so they shrink with the viewport width.
  2. Hide the menu text at <= 768px width (yes, I’m still thinking way narrower!) because that’s basically neater than reducing font size, allowing word wrap, hiding overflow etc.
  3. Add HTML title attributes to the menu images for when the text’s hidden. [No use when you can’t hover with fingers?]
  4. Restyle the blog sidebar to make it slightly narrower and send it to the foot of the page when there’s no longer room for it down the side. [Stayed put on some phones where I’d expected to see it gone, but hopefully getting there now I’m starting to twig stuff like the difference between physical and logical pixels?]

Now I don’t have a smartphone when my idea of a mobile phone’s a weatherproof, ruggedised brick for the great outdoors, but I have tested my modifications down to phone-type widths in computer browsers without finding anything unusable to the previous degree. So perhaps some of my smartphone-wielding, mobile-browsing friends could give things a whirl (especially the blog) with actual phones and let me know if they’re still finding any absolutely ‘stopper’ issues?

8 May 2016

Short Trail Routes from Kinlochleven

Filed under: Running,Walking — admin @ 11:21 pm

See maps and text at

Something I got absorbed in making for outdoor education and thought might sit well on my website!

30 April 2016

Running streak

Filed under: Running — admin @ 10:33 pm

Some people might get it and some might not (the clue’s in the title above) but, copied straight from tonight’s Facebook post:

(3 + 366 + 3) / 3 = 124 = Saturday 30 April… so, yeah, this has maybe got beyond just ‘finishing January’ (2016) now?

Strangely I need one more day (Sunday 1 May tomorrow) to complete one third of the calendar leap year despite already being over that third of the way counting the last three days of December 2016. But might consider a complete non-running (sometimes called ‘rest’) day on or soon after 4 January 2017 if I get that far! ;-)

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