Easing my way past England Murderball captain Steve Brown

  • Wednesday, March 27, 2013
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Here I am easing my way past England Murderball captain Steve Brown


As I sit writing this I should be on the M1 motorway heading South towards home from Loughborough.

I received a call late on Sunday afternoon informing me that the Step Into Sport Camp was off due to hazardous conditions caused by the heavy snow and ice in the Midlands of England. I wasn't totally surprised and was half expecting the call but the disappointment was huge nonetheless.

For the student I was going to support there was some consolation in that BBC Breakfast News agreed to come to the school on Monday morning to interview him. Hence the above photo of Steve Brown who also agreed to come along where we were able to introduce him to our fusion game, Predator rugby.
It was some consolation to slightly offset the pain of lots of hard work going to waste. This didn't affect me so much but our PE teacher Guy put in hours of  meticulous preparation as he was meant to deliver about seven hours of interactive workshops at Loughborough.
He is a very positive bloke and I know him well enough to be certain that what he prepared will still see the light of day in some shape or form given time!

A sport we call predator rugby

  • Friday, March 22, 2013
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From time to time this blog makes sideways shifts into areas that are not about running per se.

It probably has a lot to do with my upcoming trip to Loughborough University but I have been thinking a lot this week about my job working with young people with disabilities, especially in a sporting context.
At our specialist school we work hard on making sure everyone is included and has a role. I find it hugely motivating and stimulating adapting games and sports to fit every class member. We take an enormously flexible approach, changing games and rules even while a game is in progress to make sure all get a punt and can achieve. It takes quite a paradigm shift in thinking especially if you are a purist. If you were to come and watch us play football for instance you would recognise it as football but not in the shape or form you are used to! Imagine having a group of young people, some in wheelchairs (a mix of electric and manual) and frames, some hearing impaired, partially sighted and some with cognitive disabilities all playing together. It should be chaos but  is highly competitive, rewarding and mostly played in an excellent spirit.
Some of the achievements may look tiny to outsiders but have massive resonance in our environment - and sometimes they have been years in the making and are fleeting but this does not diminish them.
It has a lot to do with adaption, of space and equipment as well as the rules.
Recently we have coined the phrase fusion sports as we take elements from different games and create a new sport out of the mash up. So idly running around with a rugby ball a few months ago led to the (ongoing) development of a sport we call predator rugby. This is a hybrid of wheelchair rugby (murderball) tag and I guess basketball.This fierce game is taking the upper school by storm and the kids have independently written up the rules as they stand at the moment.
This to me, is what success looks like. young people taking ownership, competing hard, feeling stimulated and looking out for each other in community. Success is being able to stand back and let them work it out for themselves.
I love my job, I really do.

I should have set up it's own twitter feed!

  • Thursday, March 21, 2013
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All around me I see people looking for the signs of spring, the evidence that winter is ending and better days are ahead.
This is about my knee again, my bloody knee with all its frustrations, my knee that has become an obsession and constant talking point. Even the girls at school know all about it and follow its progress. I should have set up it's own twitter feed!
I've had four really good physio sessions now and there is an improvement. Its slow but its there. Today I ran from one end of the school hall to the other! Unheard of a week ago when my leg still felt like it was made of wood. I've been told that I have tendonopathy which is a bit generic for my liking but makes sense. I have been manipulated, stretched and massaged by the excellent Patrick from Crystal Palace Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Centre. 
He has given me a set of exercises specifically to strengthen my quads and glutes - identifying how weak glutes have allowed my hips to drop and place strain on the knee joint. On my first visit he had me walking, standing and squatting whilst he watched what my body was doing. My hip flexors? and quads are also extremely tight.
It boosts the confidence and makes me feel like a recovery spring is imminent being treated by someone who is passionate about physiotherapy and clearly very good at his job.
Theres still a long way to go, I estimate another four weeks at least before a slow return to running.






I never want to be seen as a barefoot/ minimalist evangelist


I never want to be seen as a barefoot/ minimalist evangelist but this x ray taken from Jay Dicharry's excellent book Anatomy for runners speaks volumes. Whatever your views it is a fascinating illustration! On the left is a foot in a minimalist shoe with a wide toebox, on the right, a foot in a conventional shoe. It is apparent how the foot on the left is free to move naturally and is so much wider, giving a much more stable base for balance. The big toe so crucial for stability and foot support(80-85%) is able to function as it should.

So the x ray shows no abnormalities

  • Wednesday, March 06, 2013
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So the x ray shows no abnormalities. This is not entirely unexpected - only bone damage would show up. This in it's own way is positive news.
My knee remains in a parlous state though. True I no longer have to crawl up and down stairs but it is still weak and unstable. I cannot even do a hobbling run on it.
I don't trust it.
The way the National Health Service (NHS) is set up in the UK dictates that I have to follow a specific path -Doctor, X ray, Doctor and physio assessment before I can have an MRI scan. I'd rather be following a woodland trail.
It may sound bizarre but I want an MRI. I am worried that the physio's will tell me that I don't have a serious problem and that I can be sorted out with physio and rest.
I don't want to have a serious problem with my knee but I do want my knee assessed deeply, I want to be 100% sure what the issue is. I really don't want to be back in this place in 12 months time. If I need a surgical cleanup then it must happen sooner rather than later.
Tomorrow I have my first physio appointment, lets see what happens!

I shall be returning to Loughborough University

In three weeks time I shall be returning to Loughborough University. This will be a reprise of the Step Into Sport camp run by the Youth Sport Trust. Once again I will be supporting one of the students from my school. 
The camp is run over three days and is a mash up of able bodied  students and those with disabilities. It was such a spectacular success last year that it has been radically expanded for 2013. This year, like 2012, there will be a mix of workshops dealing with all aspects of sport and coaching backed up by notable sporting personalities, Paralympians and Olympians. There will be lots of practical and fun activities involved as well.
Yesterday was both a precursor and a result of last year.
One of the aims of the SIS camp is to give young leaders the tools and confidence to go back into there local communities and schools and put them into practise. As a result of what we learnt in 2012 we held a one day camp where three local schools, one mainstream, and two special schools sent young leaders.
We had various sessions, an icebreaker/ getting to know you session, an inspirational talk by Paralympic Judo bronze medallist Ben Quilter, a session on becoming a sports maker and three workshops on communication, event organisation and team building. Post lunch everything they had learnt was put into practise as three primary schools arrived with two teams each to play in a sitting volleyball tournament run mostly by the young sports leaders.
The precursor to Loughborough 2013 was that three students from our local area are going this year. The day was an opportunity for them to meet each other and for them to get an early taste for what they will be involved in during the three days of SIS 2013.
It was a brilliant day and I am still buzzing from it!
Roll on Loughborough.