Running more, running backwards.


St.Neots half marathon a couple of weeks ago. Slowish and steady but comfortable. A flat road race in the main (with a few little hills), and rural. Fourth half this year. What have I learnt? I need to do the run training in preparation for a half rather than leave it until two weeks before the race “because I’m fit already.” I also learnt that a gym work out is not a substitute for running and that if I feel tired and lethargic a good run will make me feel much more energised and alert. I knew all this before, of course, but it’s always good to re-invent the wheel.

Currently, I’m trying to run each day (and managed it on the last six out of seven days). I’m not putting great effort into it, apart from parkrun, and distance is between two miles and eight K. This seems to be very manageable. Interestingly, I feel more tired on the days I’m not running. Sleep pattern has improved as well. I’m not going to run myself into the ground, just staying more consistently active on a daily basis.

Trump and his evil tweets! Good to see Theresa May using the strongest possible language to condemn the racist, divisive hate talk from America’s premier white supremicist. She said “Its wrong!”

I’ve started running backwards on the treadmill in the gym. Its a self propelled machine which means it requires foot fall on a slight incline to move the concave belt. As a result, it feels as if I’m running up hill backwards. Nevertheless, I’m sure I’m developing a significant skill which I can employ with great success when this style catches on. It’s only a matter of time.

Book recommendation: Why We Sleep: the New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker. Very readable. A comprehensive, fascinating account underlining how sleep works, it’s importance for health and why we need the best quality.



Running in Romford, Rowing and Referendum. We are sent reeling in Brexit Land

Raphael parkrun June 18 2016

A bit of parkrun tourism last Saturday. We went to Raphael parkrun in  Romford, just beyond the outer reaches of East London. We met up with our friends who live relatively locally and are involved in the organisation of parkrun. And a lovely run it was, too, around a local authority maintained park within easy walking distance of Romford market, where we had breakfast in a Wetherspoon’s pub. We like Wetherspoons. They’ve got nearly a 1000 pubs in the UK and most are reconverted from old cinemas, banks and other old pubs.

I think Romford is typical Brexit territory and sure enough, we saw a Leave the EU car and van cavalcade wending its way through the streets. They want their country back. They want to drastically curb immigration. They want to be in control of sovereinty and decide our own laws. They frighten me. Please let us Remain!


Cambridge Bumps time a couple of weeks ago. The Bumps comprise of college rowing teams competing on the river Cam. On the last day, a Saturday, they set off together, spaced at intervals of possibly 100 metres and attempt to catch the boat in front by “bumping” into them ie having physical contact. The race for both boats ends at this point. There are a number of races during the day and alternate female and male races. It’s great fun, quite exciting at times, a spectacle to behold, very British and not social class neutral.





I ran a 10k Hoohaah at Hatfield Forest, Essex on Sunday. I didn’t go all out but I still put some effort into it. Very enjoyable and had coffee with good friends after the race.



Janathon Day 24 The rabbits are coming…..


The weather has turned very mild again ( in the East of England). This afternoon it reached 13C and I was wearing a tee shirt (plus a few other items) when I continued building the rabbit proof fence around the polytunnel and allotment area.  I suddenly became aware of large group of rabbits, at least twenty, about 30 metres away, who appeared to be watching me and laughing. Several of them began to jump as if on springs and must have reached a metre in height. By coincidence my fence is a metre high. Clearly I will have to keep an eye on this. If the rabbits team up with the muntjac deer, it could go from bad to worse. I had visions of the deer carrying bunnies on their backs to assist them to jump down over the other side..

I had a lie in this morning so Rupert had a late walk, I went to the Emmaus community shop, did other stuff, worked on the fence and then went for a late two mile run just before dusk instead of a long run as I had intended. Never mind, it was still a productive day. I managed to buy a sturdy six foot by three foot table in Emmaus which is perfect to use as a craft surface for screen printing, cutting stencils and tee shirt design.

The Tory party has announced plans to help Muslim women to learn English and Cameron said a £20m fund would provide classes for all women struggling with the language. He linked better or attainment of English skills with helping to prevent radicalisation. However, the coalition government severely cut funding for language classes aimed at migrant women and between 2008 and 2015  there was a £160m reduction in available funds for teaching English to this target group. This is high end deceit. The Tories specialise in it.

Janathon Day 20 The “Gate Keeper”

IMG_20160119_082057978 Rupert is unimpressed by the scary “shadow man” manifestation which appears fleetingly then disappears. That’s the nature of shadows, man! He is the “Gate Keeper.” If “shadow man” is present, you may pass through the “gate,” to gain entrance to the next field, or rather “field”. If you don’t see him, DO NOT PASS THROUGH THE GATE. Rather worrisome, innit! But not as worrisome as Sarah Palin and Donald Trump on the same platform.

After my 10 mile run yesterday, I felt rather good ie tired but relaxed and appreciative of an evening rest. I felt an impulse to have another long run today and had to resist it. I ran a couple of miles only just before dusk.

Aliveandrunning October 30 2014


This is Rupert. He’s a dalmatian. It’s a little known fact that dalmatians’ spots have the ability to change their position overnight. Sometimes they align themselves so he looks more like a zebra than a dog. He has a number of habits, one of which is particularly disconcerting. If I meet other dog walkers and we stop for  a chat in the field, he may well cock his leg up against you and pee. Generally this is hilarious unless you have the misfortune to be the recipient of his largesse. It may take several seconds for you to realise what’s going on and to react promptly ie jump out of the way. I’m considering teaching him to do it on command to people who annoy me.

Not much running going on this week. Following a jaunt to south west London on the weekend, I went down with a heavy cold. In the olden days I would have found the strength to continue running, at least for shorter distances, but now I am Mr Sensible of Cambridge. No runs for a week now. I’ll do a 5k parkrun tomorrow and I’ve got a 10k race on Sunday. If parkrun is a struggle, I won’t do the Sunday race. I’ll still go along and take some pics because us runners love to see ourselves in action.

It’s very dispiriting when the Government and the Great British Public, in the pre-election period, work hand in hand to reach out to the electorate’s  lowest common denominator. There’s clearly an insatiable need to condemn, demonise, vilify and hold in contempt those in society who have the least or whose life chances have been destroyed or sabotaged at a very early stage. At the moment politicians are falling over themselves to articulate in reasonable terms the cruelest of policies. Here’s an excellent example of a scandalous disregard for the value of human life. When the new Foreign Office minister Lady Anelay gave a written answer in the House of Lords at the beginning of the week she announced that our Government would not be supporting future search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean (designed to save drowning, abandoned, sinking illegal migrants escaping to Europe). They die in large numbers already despite rescue services but the British government feels such humanitarian acts serve only to encourage migrants to make the dangerous crossing.

Of course, this absence of humanity will be applauded by large numbers of UKIP voters, Tories and right wingers in general who will accept the logic behind the statement and want other swingeing cuts to go further, either aimed at immigrants or benefit claimants. But they won’t take this logic and apply it elsewhere because it would be election suicide. What about stopping treatment of liver disease, obesity, lung cancer,and  heart disease  for drinkers, over eaters, smokers and non exercisers respectively on the grounds that this medical safety net only encourages them and others to continue their damaging habits. Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are the parasitical  class (again). So much for empathy and Christian values!

The travails of the Naked Rambler continue! Stephen Gough has long believed it should be a given human right to walk around naked in public. To this end he has walked the length and breadth of the UK naked and has been prosecuted and imprisoned on numerous occasions. In fact he has spent a lot of time in prison because he’s in frequent contempt of court (he simply continues to walk naked as soon as he leaves prison). This is just nakedness. It’s not sexual, exhibitionist or threatening. Just unusual. Prison is is cruel option to a non problem. The UKIP/Tory perspective? He’s only got himself to blame. If you let him get away with it, everybody will be at it! If only. 

Aliveandrunning June 5 2014 Juneathon Day 5


Oh no! I turn up to compete in the prestigious Kevin Henry 5K series of club runs (this particular one held at Newmarket, the horse racing town, 16 miles from Cambridge) and someone pointed out that I was still wearing my trusty, much loved and comfortable old slippers. How embarrassing. What a crazy, absent minded dude I am! What did I do ? I ran in my bare feet. Did I really run bare footed? No. Did I forget to wear my trainers? No. I made it all up. It’s called artistic licence.

But I did run at Newmarket, on the the Rowley mile where they they train race horses. Five clubs take part and probably around 220 runners came along this evening. The weather was fine and sunny and the course is over one big, flat perimeter circle. You can view the whole 5k with a slight sweep of the head. I ran it in 24 mins 27 secs which was OK for me (the going was soft to firm).

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I listened to Radio 4’s The Life Scientific where leading figures in the scientific community are interviewed by Jim Al-Khalili on podcast this morning. He spoke to Professor Sir Michael Rutter, the UK’s first ever child psychiatrist, about his lifelong specialisation in the field of child development, both as a practising psychiatrist and as an eminent researcher. This was very interesting in itself but I was particularly struck by his description of himself as a non-theist Quaker – that is he wasn’t required to believe in an infallible supernatural  entity and an afterlife. It sounds like a contradiction in terms- rather like UKIP or the BNP/English Defence League shrugging their metaphorical shoulders on hearing that sharia law is going to piloted throughout Essex and EU immigration to the UK is going to be encouraged and funded by the taxpayer. There is a non-theist Quaker website and an organisation for non-theist Christians. I think the emphasis is on the moral guidance and teaching provided by religious bodies rather than an all powerful supernatural being. That’s something those charming Bon Secours nuns in Tuam, Western Ireland, need to consider. A complete absence of feeling and humanity.

The Life Scientific on Radio 4, Tuesdays at 9 am and podcasted, Excellent. You don’t have to be scientifically literate, it’s not technical, it’s not hard or boring, just enjoyable. Listen to it.

Aliveandrunning April 30 2014


Someone sent me a draft hard copy of the forthcoming UKIP general election manifesto. It’s not light comedy but you’ve got nothing to worry about if you are British, white, bigoted, racist, unkind, stupid, 100% heterosexual, xenophobic, thoroughly prejudiced, thrive on condemning others, attack minorities who are non British, like “cheeky chappies” who drink and smoke, and have a tendency to predict the end of society as we know it when the assumption is British culture is under attack from foreign forces.

I went running with the club yesterday evening and very pleasant it was too. We road run from the University Sports Track which is on the edge of Cambridge city but only a 15 minute walk to the city centre. It’s adjacent to countryside and fields and also a big new University development. We ran a couple of kilometres to a village and did 4 x 6 minutes at faster than 5k pace with 3 minute recovery times. It’s timed by blowing a whistle so the fastest among us can go further and then we run back in the direction we just came from. The slower ones get overtaken and this doesn’t matter because we are all timed by the whistle and everyone is tested no matter what your ability. There were around 25 of us and about another 35 chose to do training on the track. I always chose road running because it’s so varied and this includes running in darkness in the winter. We are a sociable crowd but it’s also OK to just run or stand alone if chatting amiably is difficult as it is for some people. I am able to chat comfortably when I want to but the conversation tends to be running dominated (race times, Garmin stats, training plans, races coming up, injuries, club news). In the past I’ve tried introduce topics of interest to me, for example UK lamp post design between 1910 and 1933 and convey my passion for lichen but it never seems to capture their attention sufficiently. Still, I’ll persevere.

I like walking around Cambridge, even when it’s packed full of tourists clogging up the small streets. They are particularly good at clogging the pavements when they move around in groups and there is a lull in their itinerary. My inner  sheepdog comes to the fore and I feel I want to run rings around them so they trot into the nearest place of interest in double quick time.

I went into John Lewis to claim my monthly free coffee and cake in their cafe. The counter was double ended and two identical queues of about 15-20 people  clutched their coupons. We all appeared to be in our 60’s. Of course some people didn’t have their coupons and had to pay with real money. Boy, did we laugh at them. What losers! Anyway, I got served just before I lost the will to live and sat down with my Americano, scone and butter in little plastic containers. Unfortunately the task of getting butter onto scone proved a challenge too far. I completely failed to break the thin plastic seal and lift it off. The corner of the container partially broke but stubbornly wouldn’t pull off. My fingernails were useless as was brute strength.Minutes of hard effort yielded no results. Sweat broke out  on my forehead as I attempted to cut the seal with the serrated knife that waited patiently to spread the butter within. I couldn’t do it. The little butter pot had defeated me and I ate the scone dry. I’m sure I heard one of the cash payers laugh cruelly at my plight. I’ve learned my lesson. Next month, when I return with May’s coupon, I’ll be carrying my Swiss Army penknife. No contest!