Archive for January, 2007

Tweet Colin Jackson’s intervention last week that Britain’s 2012 gold medal prospects were not encouraging touched that ever-raw nerve of the British press, the anticipation of failure. Accompanying Jackson’s comments were reports that British athletes are more prone to injury than overseas competitors. Overtraining leading to exhaustion creates injury. Is there a chronic problem of […]

It’s hard to argue with 40 years of non-stop running. But when you’ve had a virus that’s kept you off the tow-path for more than a fortnight, the sterling example of British marathon legend Ron Hill can leave you feeling a little disgruntled.

Lancashire born and bred, 68-year-old Ron has the amazing bullet-proof constitution typical of many brought up with wartime austerity. [I hope that's not just the lazy, soft, southern Generation X-er in me talking!] Ron told me on Monday evening, after a lecture in aid of Bath homeless charity Julian House, that a virus had never stopped him running. He said he’d even raced when ill. Start with a cough and a spit and, so long as you warm up slowly, he said, you’d be fine. The thing was not to do too much while run down. Contrary to popular opinion, he said, it was worth changing into your running gear, even if you only covered a couple of miles.

Ron’s uninterrupted running record is unprecedented. He says he has not missed a single day since 1964. But is Ron an anomaly?

I know that my own virus this past two weeks might easily have led to something worse. Two people I know of – a mother and child – contracted pneumonia on top of it. As all my family have had it, more or less as severely, and normally hardy members of the local community have succumbed, I’m not ashamed to have had to take it easy, focus on rest and the best nutrition.

Ron Hill confessed to having run the day after a car crash which crushed his ribs. And on the same day that he had exploratory surgery for a knee injury. He kept this from his family, of course.

It clearly worked for him. But I suspect that more athletes would do more permanent damage by not resting than would succeed by following what appears to be a compulsion to run, even though that compulsion must be a major component in the will to win.

Dr Tim Noakes, author of Running Lore, contends that Ron Hill’s overzealous training programme cost him the Olympic gold in 1972. What might such a win have done to inspire British marathon running for several generations? Noakes also notes that the chronic chest infections Hill suffered at some points in his career would now be regarded as classic symptoms of overtraining syndrome.

Resting heart rate 53

Weight 73 kg

Mood :-(

Sick with virus (16th day)

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I’ve tended to make light of colds in recent years, mocking myself with the comedic idea of “man-flu”. I have an elaborate evolutionary biology-inspired theory of man-flu that I’ll relate at some point in another post. But, after four days of ever-intensifying head cold, I started to wonder whether I did have flu. Some symptoms of muscle ache indicated flu perhaps, but most of the symptoms were confined to above the shoulders.

The last time I felt viral, I resolved that the next time, rather than not exercise at all, I might try a light session (say, 20 minutes on the bike) to see if it would have a positive effect. It is said that such a small amount of exercise is not detrimental, and could have positive benefits. This time there was no way. A week on, even though the symptoms have for the first day today been on balance lighter than the day before, I feel no better than a week ago.

Following the “feed a cold, starve a fever adage”, for which there seems to be some scientific basis, I’ve eaten a lot this week, and experienced some weight gain as a result.

Resting heart rate 51

Weight 73 kg

Mood :-|

Sick with virus (seventh day)

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Tweet       Rugby player Jonny Wilkinson is famous for kicking goals that win England Rugby World Cups. He is also famous for being injury-prone. But he may yet become as famous for endurance, but not of the marathon kind. Since he kicked the winning drop goal against Australia in the 2003 World Cup, […]



The Marginal Revolution has a good link to an article about the psychology of procrastination.

The most salient quotation for non-exercisers in this article is this:-

Fifty per cent of heart attack patients don’t manage to make the lifestyle changes that could save their lives.”

I know what that feels like. It took a major wrench to wake me up and determine I needed to save a few more heart beats for when I might need them much later. The problem is you never know how much time you have.

This fits quite neatly into an area of study that ties the marathon and the concept of delayed gratification together with other ways we tend to favour the short term in the choices we make:-

“Over the years, psychologists have come up with a lot of ideas about what makes people procrastinate. In addition to anxiety and perfectionism, some suggested that procrastinators were self-sabotaging, hostile and rebellious, or depressed.

But for Steel, procrastination can be explained by an insight borrowed from behavioural economics called hyperbolic discounting [my link]. This is the tendency to value near-term rewards more than long-term ones. For instance, some people will choose a payoff of $50 today over $100 tomorrow.”

There’s an old fashioned saying: “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. But, as with all such adages, there are times (whether it is saving for our pensions, or keeping fit) when it may be wrong.

Resting heart rate 53

Weight 72 kg

Sick with heavy virus

Mood :-(

Donate and help me buy back my Fender ('About' tells you why)

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