If you are a parent of a state school pupil in the UK, it is sports day across the country this week. Even though it is already Wednesday, tardily I’ve decided that we’ll focus on sports this week; coming first is not important, it’s the taking part that counts.

Sports day itself presents a variety of hazards for the modern parent. On average you can expect to lose two afternoons of work. Worse still you may get caught in an on-again, off-again spiral caused by the British weather. There is also the obligation to join what can be the life-threatening race between parents that normally concludes proceedings.

It’s no joke. A friend of ours once broke an achilles tendon in the fathers’ sack race. As far as I can recall, it took a good year to heal properly. And there’s worse when you consider the headline on the front page of Peak Performance sports science newsletter that dropped through the mailbox this morning screaming “Why fit athletes suddenly drop dead, and how to stop it happening“. Continue reading ’42 and the meaning of life’

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Tweet Sport is usually about expanding one’s aerobic capacity. Knackered Downunder spots a story where that logic gets turned upside down A 15-year-old who was born with a rare congenital heart defect, or “functional single ventricle” — which means she is missing one of the four chambers of the heart, and the blood vessels are […]

Commentators often utter clich├ęs in the face of luck, such as: “it is the same for both players.” Soccer commentator Alan Hansen once said something like this in relation to England’s penalty shoot-out in the Euro 2004 tournament, when captain David Beckham missed. It looked to all on the pitch that the ball moved a moment before Beckham struck it. Unfortunately, this possibility was quickly confined to the history books as yet another excuse for a poor England show. But the truth is that Portuguese players then had an advantage as they each ensured the ball was well placed on the apparently damaged penalty spot.

Turning to this week’s record-breakingly rain-drenched Wimbledon, is it the same for both players when the weather interrupts tennis? Continue reading ‘pray for rain, if you’re unfit’

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Nassim Taleb, author of the New York Times bestseller The Black Swan, was the first person ever to email me here at the Knackered Hack.

No, honestly, it’s true. In the annals of this blog, that was seen as something of a red-letter day (if not a black swan event). But its relative importance on the part of the sender was naturally quite insignificant. Let’s say, our relationship was perfectly asymmetrical. So, when I turned up to meet Taleb at his London hotel recently, without the more imposing affiliation of a national media title with which to introduce myself, it took a while for it to sink in just who in publicity hell I was.

Finally, after 10 minutes, the author exclaimed in his soft Levantine accent: “Ah, I remember! You’re the marathon guy with the picture!”

Rarely have I been so pleased to be recognised for so little. It was nice to know that I registered with Taleb less as a total “unknown, unknown” and more as just faintly forgettable. Taleb had been researching blogs with a view to publicising his latest book, and had hit on this humble site. “I saw you writing about my book Fooled by Randomness on a marathon blog. I said to myself, this guy’s interesting!”

Even better! It’s a rare journalist who gets an actual compliment from the The Black Swan author.

As we exchanged initial small talk about exercise, I explained that I was a bit annoyed by all this complexity stuff of his, because his work has devalued most of my post-graduate business studies. Moreover, after leaving business school I moved on to devote a lot of my spare time to marathon training. But lately, having suffered repeated illness and injury and read the blog of another student of complexity, Art De Vany, I’d been led to the conclusion that this marathon malarkey might be injurious to health as well.

At this point a jet-lagged, publicity-dazed Taleb came alive: Continue reading ‘Caveman lunch with taleb’

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Tweet In an earlier post, I linked to an article on recovery-based training. Here is a more accessible version from the same swimming and triathlon coach and leading authority Wayne Goldsmith. At coaches’ infoservice, golfers will even find out how core stability training will get them driving further. Goldsmith highlights some of the complex variables […]


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