Monday, 23 February 2009

Digest

A brief summary of recent extra-curricular thread-crossing:

First of all, many thanks indeed for this archive addition to my John Madin piece from Owen Hatherley.

Interesting to note from this that Madin was involved in new town planning back in the day. Owen's palpable fury with the civic fathers of Southampton sounds depressingly similar to the way that many residents of Northampton feel about the town's lurching growth and routine destruction of heritage over the last 40-odd years. A discussion relating to said theme has emerged here, borne of Taylor Parkes' discovery of the Development Corporation's tragically embarrassing foray into the pop world back in 1980. The use of the word 'tragically' is acutely necessary here if you're familiar with the wider story, and the town is ironically conspicuous in its' lack of energy, specifically on the part of the Borough Council.

This particular messageboard thread also morphed into some brief ruminations on new town music, whose burgeoning examination is touched upon via these kind words from Charles at Fantastic Journal.

Finally, the architecture theme pivots home to this lovely interview with Bob Stanley on Tecton, Trellick & PVC windows. And apparently just as distanced from ground-level Britain as Goldfinger this week is Morrissey, who, despite patting himself on the back for being "on the line" as a songwriter for so long, proved just how aloof he is from reality with his careers advice.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Enjoy/Endure


Like Logan, I've been running since I hit 30. To be more accurate, I've been running on and off for nearly 10 years but only started to take it seriously around the time of my 30th birthday, and fair enough, Logan himself was a 'Sandman' and not a legit runner, but anyway. This week I've learned that my late and fairly speculative ballot entry to this year's Great North Run has been successful, so a 'lifeclock' of a kind - that which counts down the time I have to train myself up to handling a 13.1 mile run by September 20th - has started blinking.

Although still really a beginner, I enjoy running immensely. Inside a year I've progressed from barely managing a mile three times a week to handling 5 miles every weekday fairly comfortably. My energy levels have increased, my immune system has successfully protected me from myriad seasonal bugs & viruses, and most noticeably, my general mood and sense of well-being has benefited dramatically. My motivation meanwhile stems in the first instance from a need to combat a fairly stagnant day job and ward-off the infinite resulting physical debilitations which have variously afflicted my colleagues, and has in recent months been boosted with the help of a running partner, whose name coincidentally rhymes with Logan.

It's common practice for runners to keep training logs, diaries of progress whose contents can act as reference points to aid long-term technique. It had crossed my mind to chart my own advances via a runner's blog, but to be perfectly honest, after some considerable trepidation ahead of this very weblog regarding its' likelihood to actually be read, I'm fairly certain that any such new blog really would be insufferably boring. Something like a cross between a truncated weather report and a brief and incorrectly detailed appraisal of the latest twinge in my left achilles tendon.

That said, I will post anything I deem of relative broad interest relating to my training. Like I said, I've a long long way to go before I'm in the kind of shape required for a decent showing in the event, so it'll be some journey.

Quite plainly, neither am I on the same planet as a wordsmith as Haruki Murakami, the celebrated Japanese fiction writer who has augmented his literary career with regularly impressive race times in marathons all over the world. He recorded his own experiences as a runner in last year's superb What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, which included some fantastically articulated yet unpleasantly daunting tales, from running the original Greek marathon course on his own (for fun) during the height of summer and to the utter bemusement of locals, to his sole adventure in the seemingly terrifying world of the ultramarathon: a quite matter-of-fact account of some 62 miles in one day which involved a changing up of his trainer size at mile 34 due to swelling, and the depth of pain at mile 47, where he describes his muscles as a "seething Revolutionary Tribunal". Murakami is nearly 60 and his heart beats annually.

So whilst I've no real wish to become a fitness bore, I do fully intend to maintain my running as a long-term daily fixture beyond this September. The feeling of freedom and sense of achievement it gives you is immense - no need for gym fees, plenty of fresh air and an acute sense of reinvigoration every time. Murakami says he's never tried to zealously convert non-runners and that just because it may be right for one person doesn't mean that it's right for another, and I largely concur, but it does strike you on your daily run that no-one seems to even walk these days - in actual fact you're more likely to come across more runners than walkers.

But these are early days. I'm no know-it-all, in fact I don't even know if I'm an over or underpronator (please drop me an email on this if you've noticed either way), and I've not really nailed down a decent runner's diet yet. As an acknowledgement of this, and as a sop to all non-runners and non-believers, I include the above jpeg of the renowned American running guru Jim Fixx, who died of a massive heart attack aged just 52. After running.

(by the way, details on fundraising are yet to be established - if you'd like to sponsor me I'll post info on how to do so as soon as this is confirmed)