Exercise Equipment

Since it`s perfectly acceptable to do any exercise every day for Janathon, and since most training plans advise some cross training anyway, I`ve bought two new instruments of torture…

Must Have Exercise Equipment

…yes, it`s a skipping rope, and a weighted hoop.

I haven`t actually used either of them yet, beyond checking that I could actually skip rope.

I haven`t even been tempted  to hula the hoop. It seems alarming big.

Here`s hoping they don`t land up in the attic along with my must-have abdominal exerciser, assorted weights and pilates bands.

The Abdominal Cruncher aka Waste of Space

The Abdominal Cruncher aka Waste of Space

Of all those things, the abdominal exerciser bugged me the most.

There`s nothing remotely discrete about it. It has an ungainly shape that makes it difficult to store anywhere else besides the attic. It only serves one purpose. It cannot be used as a clothes horse, say(though I`ve tried), or as extra seating for guests,(though they`ve tried).

It cannot be used to exercise any other part of the body besides doing stomach crunches. In fact, it`s one big fat advertisement that the owner in blighted with slack tummy muscles, or, unwanted abdominal fat.

Or, in my case, both.

So yeah, it had to go.

The pilates bands? I don`t believe I ever used them. They were a bargain, I recall, purchased in the heat of the moment and with a big fat promise to Self that I`d attend Pilates lessons someday.

Only Someday, being the eighth day of the week. never arrived.

Luckily, the Pilates equipment had all the discretion the abdominal exerciser lacked. It never taunted me for it`s lack of use. And didn`t gossip about which bits of me needed toning up. So I don`t feel quite so guilty about not using them. In fact, maybe one of the Teens will find a use for them soon.

They`ve already bagged the weights and built up a little collection of their own.

There`s something about Teen Boys and weights. As soon as they hit fifteen, suddenly, you`ll hear the plop, plop and thump, thump of weight lifting and calisthenics and all sorts of training regimes from their bedrooms. My only quibble is, that they`ve taken chunks out of the plaster, and floorboards from over enthusiastic use.

But they sure show their mother up with their dedication to boring exercise drills.

Indeed, given my track record, why should I expect to use the hoop and the rope. No idea.

Eternal optimism, maybe?

Mind you,  it`s early days with Janathon with plenty of cross training days ahead in the half marathon plan.

Oh, and plenty of time for you to sign up to some daily exercise routine if you want. You can have my ab cruncher, actually, and the Pilates bands, if that helps!

Or you could follow The Irish Times eight week online running course. I just saw it in the paper today and it`s a really cool coach to 5km programme. And, from what I can see, there`s no charge for it either.

While considering all these options though, please, `fess up, yourself and tell me if you`ve any exercise equipment that you simply had to have that`s now gathering dust. I can`t be the only one!

Janathon Day Six-I 1/2 miles intervals

Janathon Day Seven 3 1/2 miles jog

No cross training to date!




One of my Saturday pleasures is perusing through The Irish Times. No, not the online edition, the old-fashioned paper version. A pot of strong coffee, something to nibble on and the IT are my idea of heaven.

I`ll wade swiftly through the national and world news sections. On then to soak up the best of the Weekend Review section-I particularly like Michael Viney`s column there. I`ll leave the Sports section to the Teen boys and then, saving the best pleasures til last, I`ll leaf through the magazine section.

My favourite section there-and in all of the newspaper-is Domini Kemp`s food column.

I just love her recipes. They`re generally fusion of tastes, but with strong middle eastern and mediterranean influences. She often plays with vegetarian options too.

She did all of those things last week with her recipe for Falafel.

I`d eaten this dish before in a middle-eastern restaurant and thoroughly enjoyed it. But I`d no idea the main ingredient was chickpeas. Or that it was so easy to make.What`s nice about this Domini Kemp`s recipe is that she has offered gluten free flour in it so that coeliacs can enjoy this falafel too. I made mine with ordinary plain flour though,


  •  500g dried chickpeas
  • 100g flat leaf parsley
  • 100g coriander
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • Few glugs olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Few tbsp spelt or gluten-free flour
  • Sunflower oil


Soak the chickpeas overnight in salted water. Drain, rinse and then blend in a food processor until they resemble fine ground sawdust. Put them in a bowl and then process the herbs with the olive oil and garlic (which you need to crush first). When it resembles green sludge, mix with the chickpeas. The chickpeas should take on a nice green colour. Season well and add enough spelt flour so that when you make a ball between your fingers, it will just stay together, not as well as small meatballs will, but they should be strong enough to be shaped and then put on a plate, carefully.

Heat up the sunflower oil and cook off a batch of balls at a time, carefully turning them over when they are crisp and golden brown on one side. They don’t take too long to cook. Basically, once they are golden brown on all sides, they are done. Drain on kitchen paper, season with more salt and keep them warm in a low oven while you finish the others off. They are lovely cold, and can be re-heated, but taste best when they are eaten soon after frying.

Since the Teens refuse point blank to eat anything that`s both ball shaped and vegetarian, I ended up having this delicious treat all for myself. It`s perfect running recovery food, with all those protein-dense chickpeas. I also ate them cold, and enjoyed them. Then I froze the remainder and ate some more during the week.

I really should do a DNA test and see if I`ve any Middle Eastern leanings as I seriously love that kind of food.

At the very least though, I should have gone the whole hog and made tzatziki. After all it`s just a blend of yoghurt, mint, cucumber,garlic and seasoning. But I dunked in Gardini`s Caesar Salad Dressing instead. Tzatziki will wait till next time. And there will definitely be a next time, as this is perfect running recovery food.

Week seven of Hal Higdon`s Marathon plan done! I did pretty well this week too. Actually began to feel like a runner again on Wednesday`s seven mile run. This weekend is a tad running heavy with a seven mile run today and a gasp! fourteen mile run tomorrow.

So with  seven miles to run and a whole newspaper to read, and tzatziki to make, I`d  better get moving!




Evening Run Skerries Harbour

Evening Sky over Skerries Harbour

Evening Sky over Skerries Harbour

I am sticking to a plan. Hal`s plan. This may see me to the Dublin city marathon in October. It may not. All hinges on injury recovery. And my predisposition to laziness.

If I`m not recovered on time, well then, there`s other races, other days. Meanwhile, I`m going to keep moving and have fun while I`m doing it. Fun actually improves my work ethic. At least that`s my excuse.

Martello Tower Loughshinney

Martello Tower Loughshinney

So, in that spirit, I made a bit of a photorun out of yesterday`s jog. Dropped into Loughshinny, North of Dublin first. Definitely a place worth returning to as it has a really nifty little beach and harbour. Unfortunately, it was exceptionally dull when I got there-lots of grey cloud and grey sand and grey sea so my pic haul there was poor. But it`s definitely worth a return trip.

Lucky Dog

Spot the Dog

By the time I`d made it to Skerries, however, the sun was peeking through. Sadly, our heatwave is gone. Yesterday evening was actually chilly. So chilly I was cursing myself for not bringing my fleece running jacket. Yes, that`s how cold it was. Damn.

Beached Boats

Beached Boats

But the sun was being brave and there were actually a lot of runners and walkers doing their thing along the harbour. Skerries has the advantage of having a very long promenade all along it`s coastline. It has a delightful harbour, terrific harbour and wonderful views of Shennick, Colt and St.Patrick`s island off coast.

Further out is Rockabill Island, with it lighthouse and, I`m told, the largest roseate tern population in Europe. There are boat trips out to Rockabill and to nearby Lambay island. Might be worth a look see some day when I get a lot better at using my new camera.

Skerries Harbour

Skerries Harbour

Pics taken, views enjoyed, I contented myself with a three mile mediocre trot along the coast. My quads were still wincing from a sixteen mile cycle I`d undertaken on Tuesday. Happy days, as it gave me the perfect excuse for a very slow lazy run. No, Hal won`t be happy but I have every intention of making up for that again.

And you know what they say about the road to hell…