Aliveandrunning2013 October 30

Went running with the club last night and felt fully recovered. I hadn’t gone out with them for past month and on that occasion  most of the run was in the light. Yesterday it was completely dark before we started the warm up exercises. As usual I took the road running option rather than the track. We did a mile time trial followed by 3 further miles with 3 minute recoveries. I like running in the dark. It does call for many  leaps of faith because  some sections are not illuminated and you can’t see where you are placing your feet. I don’t worry about this because I’m on pavement or road not a rough or rutted terrain so I do not have a sense of greater risk of injuring myself. It’s exciting running in the dark. It feels transgressive, a violation of normal boundaries.

I’ll probably do parkrun at Cambridge next  Saturday and then do the Bonfire Burn 10K on Sunday. Two of my running pals are in the 10K. Both of them are faster than me. I really should find new but much slower buddies so I am regarded as top dog and shown appropriate deference. Last year the weather on the Bonfire Burn day was so dreadful, it went straight to the top of the Worst Weather (Globally) on Race Day (Ever) chart. Low temperature, driving rain, strong wind and a delayed start are not a helpful combination for a top athlete like myself. The conditions were conducive to expiring rather than achieving a personal best. I felt very chilled and only managed to warm up nearly two thirds into the distance. I didn’t enjoy it.

Aliveandrunning2013 October 26

Well done me ! I ran Cambridge parkrun without any twinges, aches, pains or tender bits. Let’s hope my calf injury is consigned to history and slowly recedes from my memory. The race its self was straight forward (as befits a race). Not wanting to show off, I started with the slower runners, who, aware that I was smouldering with barely contained power and energy, whispered to each other. I heard someone say “Why is the Cambridge gazelle with us and not with the elite runners at the front where he surely belongs ? He really is a running hero.”  “Yes,” said someone behind me, “he’s like a greyhound. No-one stands a chance. And so modest !” It was clear everyone thought it was a foregone conclusion that I would win minutes in front of the second person. I took off like a rocket and I felt fantastic. I was smoking hot. I streaked across the finish line only to discover that 133 other runners were inexplicably in front of me. I was handed a finish token engraved with the number 134. I immediately demanded a race inquiry. Something had gone wrong somewhere and it wasn’t me at fault.

I will almost certainly do the Bonfire Burn 10K next weekend. Unusually for a local Cambridge race, there are still places available. This may be due to people’s experience of this race last year. The weather was awful and the start was delayed. I have never run in such poor conditions. The rain, the cold and the wind nearly conspired to kill me before the race started and I didn’t feel much better during the race itself. I’ll be running with a high tog rated waterproof duvet wrapped around me this time.

Lorna remains injured unfortunately. She’s got insertional achilles tendonitis and it’s painful every day, even with restricted walking. Running is out of the question. An ultra sound scan should accurately assess the extent of the problem, and what treatment is required, in about three weeks. I miss running with her. It’s a loss for both of us.


Aliveandrunning2013 October 24

OMG ! I went for a 2 mile run today and my right calf gave no indication that it was less than 100% fully recovered. I felt fit, rested and ready to run regularly again. If I was prone to exaggeration, I might reveal that I have a reservoir of pent up energy such that only a series of Ironman races could assuage. But that would be silly. Instead, after a few weeks of virtually not running, I merely feel like the proverbial coiled spring or maybe a Maserati forced to poodle along in heavy traffic. Perhaps, on Saturday, I will start at the front of Cambridge parkrun alongside the rest of the elite runners. They will herald the return of the Cambridge gazelle and genuflect. They are forced to eat my dust. I succeed in achieving a parkrun national record and trend heavily on Twitter. Alternatively, I run without further injury and enjoy myself. I then decide to do the Bonfire Burn 10K on November 3 and run this comfortably.

I listened to the Chair of NHS England, Sir Malcolm Grant, discuss the appointment of Simon Stevens as chief executive of the NHS on Today, Radio 4 this morning. Sir Malcolm had a very educated voice. Beautiful diction, nicely modulated, articulate , confident, assured. To doubt him would surely reflect badly on the doubter. His voice was very persuasive and its tone suggested you were either stupid or ignorant or churlish not to agree. Yet he spoke in well rehearsed platitudes and invited us to believe that the world had been scoured to find the right appointee who had the vision, commitment to quality and the degree of integrity to put the patients’ interests first, blah, blah,blah. Their British appointee has spent 9 years in America in the health insurance business and is known to favour an increased role for the private sector in the NHS. Sir Malcolm’s voice is a good example of a class weapon, designed to intimidate and convince and hide the true nature of things. So, Bobs  your uncle, Fannys your aunt and everything is A1 at Lloyds. Wot a North and South ! (mouth -Cockney rhyming slang).

Aliveandrunning2013 October 22

Surely I must be fully fit now ! My calf feels back to normal and it’s sending signals to my brain indicating it wants to start running again. No, not just indicating but demanding. No, not just demanding but vehemently urging. OK, I give in. I’ll (probably) wait until the weekend and do parkrun. If I don’t wait, I’ll go for a two mile run in a couple of days. But, Mr Calf, if I have any further problems, I will never speak to you again.

Half watching The Great British Bake Off : The Final. Like other well produced mainstream food programmes ,the focus is on appearance and taste not health. There is seldom any mention of calories or sugar, fat and salt content. Are these over produced confections healthy ? Will they provide the roughage that my bowel requires? Will my customary good quality poo be compromised if I eat a Bake Off diet ? Importantly, what effect will it have on my calf ?

Interested in sugar ? Read Robert Lustig in today’s Guardian.



Aliveandrunning2013 October 19

It’s hard not running. I feel more tired and physically slower, I’m eating too much and I’m mildly resentful of running buddies who have the nerve to keep on running rather than show solidarity with me and hang up their shoes until I’ve fully recovered. My calf is no longer aching or sore when pressed but the swelling persists. In three weeks, I’m registered to do the Bonfire Burn 10K. I would be able to complete it but there would be a strong chance of re-injuring my calf and setting me back further. Anyway, I’ll see how I progress overt the next fortnight. There’s an equally strong chance I’ll make the wrong decision.

We volunteered at Wimpole Estate parkrun handing out the finish tokens at the end of the race (which are then scanned alongside  a personal barcode and  appear online as a results table). The weather held and the parkland setting was as beautiful as ever. We had coffee with our friends and then we retired to the second hand bookshop where I underwent a near mystical olfactory experience. Yes, that’s right ! A smell, an odor, a fragrance. The perfume of books on wooden shelves. The scent of old fashioned libraries which only contained physical tomes. I had only taken three steps inside when my not so sensitive nostrils took me back to to my childhood and adolescence. I do know a sizeable number of book people actually sniff them as a part of a sensory experience which digital devices cannot provide. Don’t worry if you are such a person. It’s completely normal and entirely conducive to good mental health. Anyway after recovering  my poise, I bought Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach and three Pelican Freud Library paperbacks, Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis and The Psychopathology of Everyday Life. The Freud volumes are not difficult to read but do require a degree of concentration. However you can dip into them. Sometimes you can feel that Sigmund is talking directly to you. His cultural world and psychological insights continue to fascinate and resonate equally. There is an otherness about his writing which in these times of evidence based research is refreshing. That’s an example of the kind of reasoning which I employ to convince me to buy a book. I have an array of different justifications for various types of books or magazines. I usually succeed in making the right decision.

We’ve got a pair of tickets to see the austere looking Donna Tartt in Cambridge soon. I read The Secret History around 1992 and liked it. I’ll have to get a copy of The Goldfinch and get it signed. “Thank you, Ms Tartt. I’ll be sure to buy your next novel when it’s published in ten years’ time. By the way, have you ever thought of going blond?”

Aliveandrunning2013 October 15

It’s not easy being a runner when you are injured. Not so long ago, my friends called me the Cambridge gazelle. I ran like the wind (note combination of metaphor and simile), I leapt over any obstacle, I ruthlessly cut a swathe through inferior runners who fell away in awe as I swept past at a super hero pace. In short I was acknowledged as a running god. But no more. The sun has set so far North it won’t rise again for several months. The legend is tarnished, the glitter slides off, the celebrity stumbles. I am beset with failed body parts. Well, one primarily. My bloody right calf ! It’s going to require much longer to recover and I haven’t done myself any favours by running on it before it was fully healed. I’m metaphorically chastising myself right now and it’s not pleasant. Parkrun is out for the time being and a 10K at the beginning of November is in jeopardy. Or is it ? A possible scenario. A week before, I decide my calf strain has gone and I am fully fit. I successfully run the Bonfire Burn 10K but shortly afterwards my calf starts to ache then hurt. Two days later I am hobbling around, my calf badly bruised and swollen. My injury enters a chronic phase.

I did contact my GP surgery to discuss my calf sprain because there was a  very small chance that I had developed a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). I spoke to the practice nurse and my self diagnosis was confirmed. She rang back 10 minutes later having discussed it with a doctor and said I should have a blood test to definitely rule out a DVT. I had a blood test 2 hours later. An excellent service. Thank you.

We watched Stephen Fry : Out There in which he reflects on how much improvement there has been for gay people in his lifetime. It included positive examples like civil partnerships and individual celebrities coming out and shocking instances of proposed laws in Uganda to allow the death penalty for homosexuality. He interviewed a rabidly homophobic church minister who supported the measure and a Government minister for Ethics and Integrity who supports the death penalty. He also spoke to a lesbian who had been “correctively raped”, aged 14. I like Stephen Fry’s approach. It wasn’t that difficult to coax homophobes to spout their sexual fears and hatreds. It’s always dismaying to hear their total absence of empathy and lack of common humanity.

The police are getting some very bad press at the moment. The Independent Police Complaints Commission has questioned the honesty and integrity of police officers who met with Andrew Mitchell MP over the Plebgate row. After the meeting they misrepresented his views at a pre-arranged press conference. But Conservative Andrew secretly recorded the meeting. Eight people, including four police officers, have been arrested and bailed over the September 2012 row at the security gates to Downing Street. The row occurred when Mitchell was told by police not to take his bike through the main gate and  exit instead via a nearby side gate. In a short outburst, he swore at the officers and allegedly called them “plebs”, an interesting class slur.The pleb jibe (alleged) hurt the thin skinned police officers which Mitchell has consistently denied uttering. The police position is becoming increasingly weaker as evidence is amounting that individuals are making up evidence, much like they did following the Hillsborough Stadium  disaster when they blamed the football fans’ behaviour for the deaths of 96 people crushed to death. It seems clear that they have failed to “fit up” Andrew Mitchell and their image is further shredded.

Aliveandrunning2013 October 12

I have not been running since I did parkrun exactly a week ago. My right calf  strain hasn’t fully recovered but I decided to do Cambridge parkrun today and see how it goes. The race was OK. My arch rival Mike beat me by 47 seconds but a secondary arch rival Darien came in a second behind me. Disappointingly, my calf felt sore and slightly painful when pressed. Perhaps I will have to promote this injury from mild to moderate. It didn’t stop us from having coffee with friends which included new pal Maurice and some of us eating homemade cake offered by two chums who were celebrating running 50 and 100 parkruns each.

I’m having difficulty finding T shirts to fit me in national stores like M&S and John Lewis. Supermarket T’s are similarly problematic. They are predominately large fit, unshaped and long. It’s clear these are aimed at men who are overweight and probably have a sizeable paunch or at least an ample waistline. Which means they will have a large mass of visceral fat around their organs. That’s not at all good. It’s very bad. Do they know? Do they care? Someone’s got to buy the cronuts !

Aliveandrunning2013 October 8

I decided to do a little research online regarding my calf problem and found that I almost certainly have “calf strain”. It described symptoms of mild ache at rest to moderate pain on using the affected muscle, swelling, discolouration, redness or bruising and difficulty rising up on your toes or pushing off with your foot. Calf strain is a common injury and often caused by overstretching or by putting excessive force through the calf muscle at the back of the lower leg. In this injury the muscle fibres are stretched and weakened, resulting in bleeding into the muscle. Well, there was mild swelling and a discoloured/bruised area and pain but two days after it feels much better. Therefore I have mild calf strain. The website prescribed rest, ice, compression and elevation. Yeah, yeah, yeah ! I’m a very mild case, mate. I’ve blogged a 140 words and my calf feels appreciatively better than it did at word 1 ! So I will rest for a few more days then do 2 miles and if that’s OK I’ll do the 5K parkrun on Saturday.

Yesterday, the Guardian carried an article, on page  4, concerning the Metropolitan Police ordering officers not to respond to calls from mental health units and emergency departments for help to control and restrain patients unless there is a “significant threat to life and limb”. There followed a sensible and reasonably balanced  discussion which mentioned that research by Victim Support indicated that people with mental health problems are five more likely than the general population to be victims of assault, with 9% of those questioned saying they were victims of crime in a psychiatric inpatient context, by other patients or staff. By contrast, the Sun’s front page headline screamed 1200 KILLED BY MENTAL PATIENTS with a smaller line below explaining “Shock 10 year toll exposes care crisis”. A classic gutter press headline for consumption by foolish people, the credulous and the pathologically prejudiced. It’s the UK’s biggest selling daily national newspaper (current daily circulation around 2.4m). God protect us from this paper and the people who read it. provides comparison of newspaper headlines in the UK and other countries. Today, the Guardian ran with Hope of Malaria Vaccine Within Two Years After Successful Trials, The Daily Express had MADDY : “WE’LL FIND HER ALIVE”, The Mail – Human Right to Make a Killing which concerned UK taxpayers footing the bill for European Court “payouts to murderers, terrorists and traitors”, the Daily Star’s (Princess) Diana’s Secret Baby. You can compare daily headlines for up to 12 past issues. Read and weep.


Aliveandrunning 2013 October 6

I did it ! I ran the Wimpole Estate Hoo Haar half marathon without having to stop because of my recent calf injury and in a reasonable time (for me) of 1 hour 55 minutes. The course had some steep trail hills and I tend to struggle on these. I think they would have added around 5 minutes compared with a flat course such as the Grunty Fen which I ran 4 weeks ago. My arch rival Mike beat me by 3 minutes and did very well for his first half marathon on this demanding course. Lorna provided vocal support as a marshall on the last gate, about 300 metres from the finish line and met loads of friendly people. My right calf was aching immediately after the race and remains sore. It may well die down over the next couple of days but I won’t go running with the club on October 8. I also felt pretty knocked out when I got home and needed a couple of hours resting/dozing on the sofa. After this, I felt fine.

Aliveandrunning2013 October 5

Cambridge parkrun presented no problem today and I am now assuming my calf injury is fully healed. This is good news, and very timely too, because I’m running a half marathon at Wimpole Hall estate tomorrow. The weather is predicted good with plenty of sunshine and I now feel invincible again. In fact I might run the course then run it again to complete a full marathon. Or I might run it backwards. Who knows what I am capable of ! But putting on my hard hat of objectivity, I remind myself that I am under trained for this distance at the moment and I might re-injure my calf. Quick as a flash, I remove my hard hat and don my cloak of invincibility. I am all powerful and nothing can stop me completing the race in a record time. I decide to keep my cloak on and store my hard hat in the garage.

Lorna’s Achilles’ injury is proving to be more substantial than we first thought and she has now been advised to walk as little as possible for the next week. If the pain and discomfort improve we will know that extended minimal walking and rest is the way to go. Not to run is a big disappointment but at the moment even normal getting around can be painful. So Lorna didn’t volunteer today and I went off to parkrun alone. My arch rival Mike is running in the half marathon tomorrow and decided to keep his powder dry by not doing parkrun. He did support me as a vocal spectator, however, magnanimously clapping rather than hissing as I passed by. He’s beating me by about 2-3 minutes on 10K runs but hasn’t run 13 miles before. With my swirling cloak of invincibility, I’m sure I’ll be a winner.

I still have little understanding why Obama’s health care bill, and the issue of extending medical care to a larger section of those who have great difficulty accessing the help they need, creates such hostility and righteous anger in the Republican Party. Large swathes of America opinion seem to be so foccussed on vested interest or expressing a repugnance of paying extra taxes to support the initiative or fearing a slippery slope to socialism. I can only conclude that the Christian virtues espoused by many Republicans are entirely hypocritical (or perhaps ironic) because the impression I receive is that they are wholly lacking in common humanity, charity and empathy.