The cycle begins

For the past few months I have been running in maintenance mode. Generally managing to run around the half marathon length at the weekends and a couple of shorted distance runs in the week. However this week saw a foray into the start of an ultra training cycle. I have signed up for next years South Downs Way 50 so need to start the cycle now to get a decent finish.

So this week I had to do something I always like to believe I can but rarely do – the early morning run. I usually start running around 7am but if I am to fit my training in and university it means I have to run closer to 5am. I always tell myself I can do this but when the alarm goes off I switch it off and roll back over. I still did that this week but then after a few minutes thought “No, if I want to train I have to do it in the morning” and managed to yank myself read more

Leadership

In an effort to enhance my employability after leaving university this week I decided to attend a leadership course. I figured it would be a great opportunity to get some face time with leaders from industry and to network. The course was put on by Common Purpose a multinational group that looks at Leadership around the world and the affects on the wider communities. They run a number of leadership courses and the one I attended was for disabled students and sponsored by Santander.

Arriving at the hotel with Ascot I was presented with my first challenge. We had forgotten to bring his food, we had packed the food just not put it in the car. If Ascot ate Pedigree Chum this would have been an easy problem to solve, but he is a delicate sole and eats a very specific food. So specific that it isn’t even for Labradors – No, Ascot believes himself to be read more

A great day out!

I arrived at the Buxton Adventure Film Festival shortly before Heather Dawe was due to speak. I snook into the theatre a little early (its amazing where a guide dog can get you!) and found a seat. I sat down a few seats away from Jez Bragg and was introduced to him.

Jez was at the event talking about his 3,054km run of the Te Araroa trail covering the entirety of New Zealand including multiple water crossings. After a quick chat and swapping our list of events for the following year it was time for the first talk.

Heather Dawe was talking about her amazing running and cycling career. She has achieved some wonderful things and returned from adversity after suffering what sounded like a terrible accident while riding her bike. A car hit her at 50mph and she was thrown over the car. Her talk was captivating and covered everything from running to painting! After the talk there was a read more

To be inspired

When i first began to run I was always of the philosophy I may not be the fittest person around, but I believed in my mental hardiness.  I believed and still do that I can continue to push beyond what I have achieved on any given day.

This hardiness was built on the back of others achievements.  Reading about other runners such as Dean Karnazes inspired me to start down the long road of running long.  Hearing about others achievements inspires me to go outside and see how far I can push.  One of my favourite ever inspirations was by a runner whose name escapes me.  One day someone sent me a link to a youtube video of ultra runners.

The runner spoke of the runners high and that he preferred to explore the low times.  For if he was able to push in the lows the highs would take care of themselves.  There may be a little para-phrasing read more

The Constant

Even with large amounts of vision loss I have still felt the compulsion to keep on running. After you have been running for a while it seems strange to stop. Having a week or two off begins to feel strange, there is a need to pound the pavement (or rubber matting). Due to the compulsion to keep on running even with large amounts of vision loss I have been sticking with the running. I even managed to compete in a short distance event.

The loss of vision has made a dent on my running though, but in more of an indirect way. Learning to run without a reliance on vision means that when you lose more it doesn’t really affect your ability to perform. But what it does affect is the time I have to run. When I am having to spend more time converting materials, or revising due to a change in vision it eats into the time I have to run. So read more

The Cycle

I chose the name of this website to reflect a cycle. My eye condition is degenerative so as time goes on I lose more vision. With each decrease in vision there is an adaptation cycle where I have to relearn how to do complex and simple tasks.

In early May this year I lost a substantial amount of vision. Now considering I had little vision before May this latest change meant a change in most areas of my life. It was also terrible timing, as the end of May was the start of my exam window. This created a substantial problem I had under 4 weeks to learn how to study in a new way and convert all my materials to make them accessible after this latest change.

The only way I could achieve this was to defer 2 exams and sit 2 exams at the end of the month. I created a plan in order to convert all the materials that involved using a couple of read more

Recovery

When training for any event or indeed any goal its important to be able to bounce back quickly from a training session.  The quicker you recover the quicker you can be out training and the easier it is to make gains.  As well as the importance on an increase in training the ability to recover fast also has its benefits when you have a family.  When you are dedicating large amounts of time running the roads its important to recover quickly.  As there are not enough hours in the day for a long run and a long recovery.

Ideally I like to get home shower and rest for 30 minutes and be back out with the family.  This can be incredibly tough after a long run as I am just too fatigued.  It takes all my might to drag myself up from the sofa and go out on a family trip.  Now missing out on those moments due to exhaustive training is a tough balance.

Do I train a read more

Kickstarter a Teddy!

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For those that do not know my wife Sian Wheatcroft  is a crafter. She makes everything from little bags to teddy bears

She is currently running a kickstarter in order to raise funds to create a range of mohair teddy bears.  As a backer you can get a wide range of things, including a PDF pattern or kit, a unique mohair teddy in a range of sizes, right the way up to a group workshop.

Each teddy bear is made by hand and is completely unique. She been making jointed teddys for a few years and holds workshops in schools frequently. She’s also been on the cover of a well known crafting magazine with a tutorial.

She is also working on a series of youtube tutorials to accompany the kits and pattern in her kickstarter. Here’s the first of the series.

Click here to visit her kickstarter page – she only has a few days left and the project only happens if read more

It keeps on changing

I often get asked how I mentally prepare myself to run my outdoor route.  I always answer with the same thing “I just assume the route stays constant and their won’t be any obstacles”.  However that assertion doesn’t reflect reality.  The route has been different recently due to two variable speed and the time of year.

I rarely enter races to obtain a specific time, I am usually happy to finish.  So running quick is not something I usually concentrate on.  But there is a local 5k in my hometown that I decided I would run.   But not just run, run in a competitive time [competitive for me anyway].  So I have been doing some shorted runs outdoors at an increased pace.  This has made navigating a lot harder.  I don’t get a very good read underfoot at speed, so I struggle to correctly locate myself on the pavement, it also means read more

Making Kindle Books Work With VoiceOver on the iPhone and iPad

***UPDATE*** kindle for iOS now supports VoiceOver! and it works fantastically well.  I have left the instructions in place below as they may be applicable for OS X Mavericks and iBooks if Amazon do not relase a VoiceOver compliant version of Kindle for Mac.

 

Being blind access to books is difficult. In an age of digital content you would of thought it would be easy, but no. it is increasing difficult thanks to things like DRM and odd restrictions imposed by eBook retailers.

There are a number of options below that I have broken down by company.

Amazon

Audible
Has a wide rang of audiobooks with a great monthly price. If the book is available as an audiobook this is a fantastic option and I cant recommend it enough.

Kindle

The books are only truly accessible in two scenarios
1. Kindle app for Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD.
2. Kindle for PC with accessibility plugin. read more