Running made simple

img_20160907_205637255

At present I’m running between two and three times a week. Typically I’ll do parkrun locally,  a two miler and a 11-12k longer run. This seems to be more than enough to keep me ticking over and retaining a reasonable level of running fitness which allows me to do the occasional 10k race without extra training.

I’m missing club running but not enough to rejoin. I do have to remind myself that 67% of the reason for leaving was because I was pushing myself too hard (possibly) for someone with heart disease. Research is suggesting that running too far, too often and at an elevated pace is not heart friendly. Research also suggests drinking from the right mug boosts confidence and self esteem. I’ll give it a go.

Cambridge parkrun numbers are still growing. The last two runs have seen record numbers at 546 and 558. Since the course is over a couple of laps and a smaller loop most of which are narrow woodland paths, there’s a lot of congestion at multiple points. This must be a central reason why the parkrun core team has now decided that dogs can no longer run alongside their owners/carers. In short, dogs are now banned. Cue controversy!

We’ve taken to going to London for the day and walking 10-12miles. Recently we explored the development at the back of Kings Cross station which includes a temporary Skip Garden and a reasonably secluded open air swimming pool. It will all be gone in two years and the area will be built on. A great pity because this is the kind of project which gives a place soul and a creative, natural feel. There’s no money in it for the developers, of course.

Still, there is the Regent’s Canal nearby (hopefully no plans to fill it it in) and you can stroll (or run) along most of its  length. We walked from Kings Cross through to Camden Locks and on to Regent’s Park. From there you can leave the canal and walk up Primrose Hill and enjoy a panoramic view of London. That’s the wonderful thing about canals that run through cities and towns. Built two hundred years ago, they bring a feel of history and countryside and calm to the densely populated and over built areas they meader through. Thankfully, they are still around.

DSC_1866                       DSC_1931

Richard Neville, co-founder of Oz magazine, has died aged 74. Neville, Jim Anderson and Felix Dennis were charged with obscenity and conspiring to corrupt public morals in 1971 and the high profile trial was the subject of Tony Palmer’s book,  The Trials of Oz. Well worth reading on a number of levels. Very funny too, with a host of defence witnesses making fast and loose with the po faced prosecutors. John Mortimer QC defended with Geoffrey Robertson and defence witnesses included George Melly, Hans Eysenck, Edward de Bono, John Peel, Marty Feldman Ronald Dworkin and Feliks Topolski.

img_20160907_221606650

You can get this for a song on Ebay. Take a chance and immerse yourself in 60s/70s counterculture colliding with prevailing conventions and conservative society. Hilarious.

Janathon Day 9 We’re gonna be famous for 15 seconds!

IMG_20160109_101302932

A very enjoyable Cambridge parkrun this morning. We had a record 504 runners and BBC Look East came along and filmed the whole proceedings. This picture shows our mate Kerry (who ran his 100th today) being interviewed by Jonathan Park. Kerry’s standing by a supply of cakes and a photo montage of Kerry centred pictures. Just out of shot is a couple of hundred drooling runners being held back by volunteers and gagging to devour the confectionery.

The run was very muddy, as anticipated, but the weather held. No rain and surprisingly mild. The camera man and interviewer Jonathan (who also ran) were very friendly and to blended in comfortably with everyone. They appeared to take possibly ninety minutes of film which might be edited down to a few minute or less. We’ll know on Monday evening when it’s scheduled to air. Hopefully it won’t feature me running with my mouth open and looking as if I’m about to collapse (my default appearance).

We tend to mark 50th, 100th and 250th runs as well as significant parkrun dates, and birthdays, with cakes at Cambridge. We also tend to take a lot of photos. Are we narcissistic? Obviously! Do the majority of other parkruns do this? Hopefully!

After the run we queued in the cafe and then enjoyed a lovely cup of coffee to further reward ourselves in good company. Next week, we’re off to Wimpole parkrun (cancelled today because of water logging)to celebrate their 3rd anniversary. For more of the same.

Perusing my wood pulp hard copy edition of that middle class, bleeding heart liberal, wooly, comfortable, arm chair lefty Guardian newspaper, I came across  an article :

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/08/church-of-england-fears-talks-on-gay-rights-could-end-global-anglican-communion

It discusses the high degree of likelihood of continuing fundamental disagreement in the world wide Anglican communion over gay rights and same sex marriage. As a humanist, I can only continue to marvel at the intrinsic lack of humanity, wilful ignorance and vicious, self serving prejudice in an organisation whose mission statement has something to say about love, tolerance, inclusion and diversity. And there you have it! It doesn’t say that sexuality is on a spectrum, varies within that spectrum for many of us and is often a biological imperative. So centuries old prejudices and sexual fears and anxieties are maintained and justified supernaturally. The church, with the clear conscience of the self righteous, can condemn and preside over the persecution of anyone outside of their definition of God approved sexuality. I think it would be more useful to return to the old, less cruel practice of estimating the number of angels who could stand on the head of a pin!

Sermon over.

I think these summit delegates would benefit from going for a 5k run before they begin to pontificate.

Aliveandrunning October 30 2014

WP_20141030_003

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. http://bit.ly/1tGscI7

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).   http://gu.com/p/42zcp 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 February 26 2014

Out with Cambridge and Coleridge running club last night. Usually, I feel like the fleet footed Greek god Hermes , moving freely between mortal mankind and the divine, delivering messages and protecting travellers.This time I felt wounded, as if Zeus had unleashed a thunderbolt at me in a fit of godly pique. A spot on my right rib cage  felt painful and sore on movement and when I breathed more heavily. The reason for this was rather less exotic than being struck by Zeus’s bolt or tapped by Thor’s hammer.I think I asked too much of my muscles by lifting and throwing heavy items onto a skip we’ve hired.

I ran up and down the garden path for a few seconds earlier in the day and pronounced myself fit to run and lo, when we did an 800 metre warm up on the track it felt reasonably OK. However when I did the dynamic warm up exercises and stretching I don’t think I did myself any favours. It felt OK when we jogged over to where we start our road training and then we did 5 x 600m, with a 600 metre recovery jog back to our start position each time. We split up into 4 groups of 5-6 runners according to speed. I was in the slowest group and the slowest in the slowest group. Oh how sudden was my fall from grace! The ignominy, the trashing of my reputation, the shame! Actually, I just ran less fast because the soreness increased and it interfered with efficient breathing. Still, I won’t go running again to the weekend. Parkrun on Saturday and a 5 mile race on Sunday. I’m sure I’ll be back to full fitness by then.

Today, I did a dreadful thing. I hereby make my confession on this blog. I bought a copy of the Daily Mail! I somehow resisted the temptation to blather an excuse about “conducting research” and “not usually making this kind of immoral purchase.” Why did I do it? To compare content with other papers I am more familiar with. I want to confirm my prejudices and pet theories. A preliminary scan of the news (or lack of it) suggests confirmation won’t be difficult. Working hypothesis : the Mail is harmful to your mental health. You risk a substantial increase in levels of anxiety, depression, anger and antagonism. Forensic analysis to follow.

Another interesting snippet caught my eye as I read yesterday’s paper today. Thanos, a Christian thinktank, has found a widespread belief among those surveyed that the poor are to blame for the perceived woes of the welfare system, putting ordinary Christians at odds with bishops who have been protesting about the effects of government cuts. One of the problems with organised religion is that when you have God on your side, you often feel the freedom to express all manner of harsh opinion, unkindness, bigotry and hostility. Faith and righteousness can provide excellent camouflage for aggressive, selfish and class attitudes. All too frequently there is nothing less Christian than a self confessed practising Christian.

Aliveandrunning December 28

200th parkrun at Cambridge today and I have run 148 of them plus another 10 at Wimpole Estate. The weather was fine – sunny and not too cold – but muddy in many places. My arch rival, Mike, was marshaling which left me competing with No. 2 arch rival Diane. As usual I could hardly contain myself. I felt like a rocket in a silo waiting for the FIRE button to be pressed, I was a torpedo restless in its tube. Someone said go and I took off like a particle whizzing around the CERN Large Hadron Collider. Knocking people aside without pity, I broke free from the pack and took on the mantle of front runner only to have my dream shattered. The race had not started yet. I was a highly strung thoroughbred and when a couple having a conversation near me included the word GO I responded instinctively. Boy, was there a copious amount of egg on my face ! Ashen visaged, I apologised to my fellow runners whom I had pushed into a ditch or into muddy puddles and retook my position farther back as a penance. It didn’t go very well. No. 2 arch rival Diane overtook me around half way and I had no gas left in the tank to catch her up. I was startled when a very small child went past me. I’m sure I’ve seen larger tadpoles ! As is the nature of small, young fast children, they suddenly speed up then dramatically slow up, simultaneously weaving from side to side and repeating this strategy. It’s hilarious if you are limited  to running responsibly as a grown up (unless you succeed in getting tripped up). After cutting me up several times, he took off and I was history. He probably complained to the run director that too many old people are cramping his style. Lovely run despite coming 135th out of a field of 336.

Tomorrow I hope to do a 45-60 minute run and on New Years Eve I’ve got a 10 K. Possibly on New Years Day I might be doing one or two differently convened parkruns. As I write this it does seem a tad excessive (for me). It will definitely blow out the tubes and hopefully get me running longer and more frequently again.

Cambridge parkrun is held in Milton Country Park to the north of the city. The course is mainly grass and trail with some narrow paths. I’m sure the trees are closing in at various points. Quite a lot of them look surly and resentful  as we pass by. I’m convinced they’re not happy with the  resultant pounding of over 300 pairs of feet every week. I’ll try to speak to the wood nymphs and reach an accommodation. I saw  Spielberg’s Poltergeist and I don’t want to be plucked off the run path by a malevolent maple.

Alan Turing has been given a posthumous pardon for his conviction following homosexual activity. He committed suicide after being required to undergo  “chemical castration”- experimental hormone therapy to dampen down homosexual urges. The type of work he had been allowed to undertake subsequently was limited because of the supposed risk to security linked to his sexual orientation. There’s plenty of criticism to the pardon under a Royal Prerogative of Mercy which notes he was convicted under due process of the current laws in 1952. Some people argue it’s unfair on the thousands of ordinary, consenting gay men who were convicted under the same laws whose convictions still hold. My view is that all men (and women, if any) who were sentenced under these vicious “moral” laws should be pardoned. Moral panics, and particularly those of a sexual nature, may last for decades or centuries or even become embedded into the culture. In kinder and more enlightened times, I feel it is very important to revisit those nasty, ignorant and bigoted laws and expose their cruelty rather than merely state they were a product of their times. Alan Turing , along with many others at Bletchley Park, shortened the war and saved thousands of lives. The “laws” he transgressed had no right to be laws of the land and contained no justice, only sexual fear and prejudice.

New Year resolutions :

1. Research science fiction literature over last 100 years with view to developing a cult/religion.

2.Consider options to monetise said cult/religion.

3. Complete Janathon (run and blog daily) for month of January.

4. Keep an eye on Pope Francis!