Aliveandrunning Janathon January 13

Day 13. A short run of 2 miles a day should be achievable for most Janathon runners, if they are sufficiently motivated. It doesn’t take long and you have the option of before or after work. I might add that a run after you reach home in the evening is an excellent way to wind down and begin to relax your body. Of course, when I was in paid employment, I seldom managed to go running in the evening but it’s a nice standard to apply to others.

An uneventful 2 mile run just before dusk. It was a cold and sunny day. I should have run sooner but I was busy fixing old clay pantiles to my garage roof. I did this successfully and also fixed some guttering so I had a small but perfect sense of achievement when I set out. Tomorrow I’ll be road running in Cambridge, in the evening, with the club.

I’m very confused concerning the reports I’ve read about the amount of running undertaken and the effect on the heart. In the Observer Tech Monthly yesterday, part of an article by Catherine de Lange entitled What Science Says About The benefits Of Running (not available for sharing) discussed running and repeated the same evidence I have heard on other occasions. A study of 20,000 people in Denmark over years found that those who ran lived on average for 6 years longer than those who did not. The biggest benefits came from running between on hour and two and a half hours a week, over two or three sessions, at a comfortable pace. There is speculation that long periods of vigorous physical activity, over an hour or two, puts too much strain on heart muscle, causing it to stretch and tear, which – over years – can lead to stiffening and scarring. One 2011 study found higher levels of fibrosis, or scarring, in the heart muscle of competitive endurance athletes aged 50 or over, compared to others of the same age. It  suggests moderate intensity running in small doses – of about 30 to 50 minutes at a time. Some argue that excessive running  can cause increased calcium plaque build up in the heart, which increases the risk of coronary heart disease.

I had my heart attack 4 months after running the London Marathon, aged 58. I don’t believe that my running regime, before marathon training, contributed to heart disease. I’m well aware of factors that almost certainly did and over many years. I think my level of fitness helped me to recover quickly and allowed me to return to my prior running ability. I could physically do a marathon again and I would enjoy the challenge but I do think it would be asking too much of my heart, given I have established heart disease. OK, no more marathons then. I can live with that (no pun intended) but what about half marathons which would still exceed recommended running levels? I currently run about 3 hours a week. If I do a half marathon, the training will increase for a period of time? Is this OK for me or risky? I don’t know. How about asking a cardiologist? Well, apart from an out patient appointment after discharge from hospital, you never see a cardiologist again. You are prescribed NICE  guideline cardiac medication and are monitored by your GP. There’s not deemed to be a problem if you don’t experience troublesome symptoms. I may give the cardiac rehab nurses  or sports scientist a ring.They provided an excellent 12 week rehab programme after my heart attack and work closely with the cardiologists. It would be good to speak to other runners who have heart problems and hear what advice they have been given concerning mileage and duration.


Aliveandrunning2013 November 20

Out running with Cambridge and Coleridge  last night. As usual I took the road rather than track option. We did two 1.7 mile loops followed by a mile then a warm down jog back to the club. Slightly disappointed we didn’t do 3 loops as suggested initially but it was an enjoyable run in the dark along the mean streets of outer Cambridge. It goes without saying that I felt like a young demi-god effortlessly negotiating irritating obstacles like pedestrians, street furniture, cyclists and cold weather. A chum fell by the wayside, metaphorically speaking, by” pulling” his calf muscle. Not sure what this means exactly. I think it’s one step up from tweaking your calf. I guess it’s a calf strain again partially caused by insufficient rest following a previous strain. Runners,eh ! They just don’t know when to stop running.

Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary, lives up to the mispronunciation  of his name by a Radio 4 news presenter some time ago. He calls for a “duty of candour” concerning medical care mistakes in hospital. the need to prevent cover ups and demonstrate much greater accountability and is requiring hospitals to reveal ward staffing levels. The  Tories are adept at demonizing or condemning practices and conduct which most people would agree is not acceptable but they are not willing to follow through and ask how these circumstances are created. The NHS is being not so gradually dismembered and given to for profit providers while cuts and unrealistic targets force managers to take shortcuts and massage figures. There are many sharp practices which don’t come to light but most of them will have arisen because budget holders are placed in impossible positions. Ever higher standards are sought with less money available and in the context of the NHS judged and evaluated as a for profit organisation.

Interestingly, past and present police officers currently testifying before a parliamentary committee of MPs are revealing that crime statistics have been been altered to boost favourable performance for years. In practice this means some categories of serious crime such as rape, sexual abuse of children and domestic violence are not being investigated and therefore do not swell crime figures adversely. It’s a win-win situation for the police and the government who are able to report that crimes are down on their watch. The police, as well as the Government are a law unto themselves.



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).