Monday, 28 October 2013

Laughing in the face of the tyrant.

I'm taking a week off work to catch up with myself. A week off means three days because the other things I do are not "work" as I don't get paid for them. Still it's taken the pressure off and I can feel it already. Reading for university has been excruciating as I'm doing a course, the first part of which is justifying the use of qualitative research. The arguments run very deep and argue that scientific positivism is just a stance, albeit the dominant one at the moment and not the only way and not the best way of looking into issues of a human nature. Aristotle introduced the idea of phronesis, an intellectual virtue which is gained from experience and practice and learning from the experience and practice of others. Practice is always localised and takes place in a specific context. Along came the natural sciences and their emphasis on universality and notions of phronesis were forgotten about. So much so that we don't have a word for it in our language.
Bent Flyvbjerg came along and  wrote a book - "Making Social Science Matter" - about all this. The University of Edinburgh liked it, and their students who are doing the "Between Counselling and Research 1" course were fated to have to read it. You can tell how difficult it is just by the sheer number of consonants in his name.
So it has taken me "on a journey". I knew that the outcome of most research papers that I have read - particularly for nursing - don't speak to me, don't answer a question I had asked, and give results that make you think "hmmmm, there's more than one way of explaining that", whereas an honest and first hand account of someone's actual experience of something was generally interesting and felt more useful. I have discovered that this is autoethnography. It might be what I've been doing here all along. (But I doubt it). It may be just an excuse to rattle on about yourself, but if so, so be it. And suddenly our reading for university has taken a turn from being about the current debates about the validity of different types of research and has taken me into the realm of autoethnography. Ya beauty. People rattling on about themselves and what they do. I have always loved it. I can't really be bothered with fiction but I love personal accounts of things.

So anyway. I got up early this morning to do some reading and then get out for one of my low heart rate recovery runs. The reading turned out to be easy and enjoyable- quite a change from tortuous sessions trying to wade through heady philosophical debates. I had read the first paper in no time. Then I went out for my run. I'm almost reluctant to say how good these runs are, I want to keep it to myself, but I needn't worry because I won't have many converts. The point is to go slow enough to keep my heart rate low. I think I should really be keeping it under 130 but this is just too much of a stretch so what I do is try to keep it nearer 130 than 140. Because I'm going to be running slowly I can dress up as warmly as I like. Going out and running and constantly telling myself to slow down is just so the opposite of what I normally do that it's a real pleasure. Running around feeling you could give it a whole lot more effort feels great. And also, I really did think Leith was a horrible place until I started doing this, but it gives you plenty of time to look around. I would still advise avoiding school children at all costs, but other than that, there's a lot of nice stuff in Leith.

The allotments at Leith Links are always good. All those little individual gardens adjusting to the seasons. Each one with a personality of its own.
Running up the Water of Leith there are usually a good assortment of birds. Today there were coots looking like spats and some marble grey looking birds with brown suede heads that caught my eye.
It being autumn, there were all the crunchy leaves lining the paths.
Coming back onto Leith Walk there were the smells, particularly cigarette smoke, fresh coffee and salami.

The only really difficult side of this kind of running is the thought "What if someone I know sees me running this slowly?" There's no easy answer to that...except earlier this year I was running at that speed and had no choice about it, which has put it in perspective. The tyrant in me who judges everyone who runs wearing furry ear muffs is the same tyrant who constantly berates me to run faster. He gets particularly loud when I think I might be spotted running like that. When I'm doing my slow running, I hear him and I have a laugh at him and ignore him and get back to the business of taking in the sights and sounds and smells of what surrounds me.

But I better go. I really do have stuff to do.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Going Coastal

Some wedding shenanigans yesterday resulted in us only running a 2 mile hill run. Not enough to satisfy the need for a good hard thrashing, but enough to have DOMs today. The weather forecast for today was looking appalling and it looked like the only half-decent weather window would be early on. As the clocks were going back over night it wasn't really all that early. So it was that we found ourselves at Gullane at 9am this morning.

It seemed like a good move. The sun was out and the wind was brisk but forecast to become a lot brisker later on. There were some very autumnal things going on. Orange leaves blowing about in the breezes.

At Aberlady bay there was no-one and their dog. There were some foot-prints, some paw prints and a bike tyre track. That was the nearest we got to seeing anyone until we got along to Gullane beach proper. The wind was well behind us and it was just as well. It made running very easy, although any small ups and downs when we were diverted into the dunes brought out shrieks of surprise as both our uphill and downhill legs protested.

Turning back into the wind up the path past Archerfields was a slog. We got some cover from the trees. The last mile on the road we pretend is the last mile of a half-marathon and the game is to pick your pace up even though your legs have had enough. Peter zoomed off. I "let" him and found myself thinking about something else and forgot to run at half-marathon pace. Oh well.

Back in Gullane we could heed the call of coffee and cakes or we could get out of there and go home and have some soup. So home we went. I am full of pea soup. If you squeezed me I could do an impression of the girl in The Exorcist.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Sunday Run

Life got in the way of my Saturday long run this weekend. Life in the form of something else to do. I have been churning out longer runs without even knowing why anyway, so I thought this weekend I'd do about 13 instead. Sunday turned out to be a much nicer day than forecast anyway, so I was glad about it.
Peter had raced on the Saturday (twice!), so he came along too. En route we texted Amanda to see if she wanted to come and she texted back to say she'd be leaving shortly. I thought that it might be nice to have a coffee and a bun right away, to pass the time until Amanda came. Then it turned out she was going to meet us further down the coast so there was no need to wait for her, but by this time the thought of coffee and buns had lodged firmly in my head. I was tired and hungry, so I just went with it!

We never found Amanda. We found her car but not her, although I know she's still alive because we've made contact since, so don't worry.

It was much warmer than it has been, perfectly comfortable to run in a vest. There is a big moon hidden somewhere beyond all the rain-cloud that is going about and this has been affecting the tides and we hit a really low tide. This is a real treat as it means being able to run below the rock-line rather than stumbling over big pebbles on the beach and getting spiked by the sharp grass that grows in the dunes.

Today I forced myself out for a 10 miler round the seat. It was a struggle. I think I had a cumulative lack of sleep to make up for so I spent the afternoon trying to read about Foucault and his power relations and succeeding in having a long, long snooze stretched out on the sofa.

I've got another yoginjury in the form of a sore neck this time but I'm off to yoga in a few minutes because I can't bear to miss it. Hope I survive in one piece.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Ho-hum, only a yum-yum

There was the usual kind of thinking behind today's long run. A brisk easterly was forecast and it would probably be a bit cold so I thought I'd take the train to North Berwick and run back as far as I could be bothered. I wanted to run 20 miles just because I've done a good few 18 milers and there doesn't seem to be any reason not to increase this a bit. Anyway it's a habit to run long and then run longer. I don't really know what it's for.

Peter and Bruce aka coastrider had agreed to meet for a long anticipated fat-wheeled bike and runner outing, so we got the train to North Berwick together and then parted company.

It was a cold wind and I was glad to turn my back on it. The sun would come out from time to time, cheering everything up, but in between times it was pretty cold and grey. I think I was tired after a hard week and I wasn't really going my best. Well not every run can be the best. All the stretch from NB to Aberlady was pretty good anyway. By Aberlady (about 11 miles) I was pretty hungry and thirsty. Sadly, they have ditched their coffee machine at the Londis. In the pastry section there was only a solitary yum-yum left. Not my favourite but it would do. Instead of a delicious coffee I had some cold, flat water, sitting on the wall on a cold grey day.

Well the running didn't get any better after this. At Seton Sands (16 miles) I had the quandary of what to do. Should I plug on to the Pans or Musselburgh or just call it a day? My tummy wasn't great and I was tired. Still, I didn't feel that bad and it seemed a shame to bail so early. I decided to have a coffee, even though it was late in the run, and run at least another 4 miles.

So I had a filter coffee standing next to a wall, trying to stay out the sharp wind. It was the same spot where Amanda and I stood in the winter, hiding from the horizontal snow, trying valiantly to train for the Highland Fling. That was torture. Looking back on it I don't know what the hell I was playing at. I felt terrible and was running really badly that day but for some reason we didn't give up. Amanda must have really struggled too. I was running around 10.40 pace. Anyhoo, things weren't so bad today.

So the next few miles weren't great and I had a growing sense of abdominal discomfort, but I made it to the middle of Musselburgh and caught a bus, and the run down the road from the bus-stop took me up to 21 miles for the day. Not a great average pace - but better than 10.40 pace! And my legs are a bit achy but not too bad.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Autumn run with synchronicity

Nice when someone up there pulls the strings for you. I went on my now usual circuit from North Berwick to Aberlady Bay and back along the beach. I seemed to have hit the rush hour at Aberlady as the bridge was choc-a-bloc with twitchers walking at 2mph...but they were very genial and friendly and I felt ashamed of some of the things I'd thought in the privacy of my own head about them...

Just as I got to the beach the sun came out. It was lovely. The wind was behind me and I cruised along to Gullane.
At Gullane beach carpark there was a huddle of fat-bikers just about to head into Gullane to Cools Ice-cream shop for some cones. Bruce was there with his camera on his head. There will be films!

There were fat-bikers from as far away as Stirling and Glasgow. I accidentally called the gentleman from Glasgow a weegie and got a torrent of abuse and gestures as a reward for my efforts. Those weegies are so talented at that kind of thing. I wanted to be cheekier but I couldn't stop laughing. I wanted to ask him if he didn't feel agoraphobic out under the open skies instead of cuttin' aboot the narrow lanes of Glasgow.

Maybe 2 minutes later Amanda turned up, out of the blue, with Harris, ready for a run. We couldn't have planned it better if we'd tried. I could give her a run back with Harris from North Berwick. (Harris hadn't run that far before), so she came with me for the last 8 miles of my run.

There was much talking and the time flew by. Before I knew it we were in North Berwick and we ran into the fat-bikers for a second time. They found some dark glasses for Amanda in the dunes. She is modelling them above. They were just away off for chips! I found £2.17 in the dunes, so I was over the moon. Sometimes life is just so easy.

After I'd dropped A and H back at Gullane I had a hearty sing-song in the car to Radiohead. It has been a perfect day.