I will most likely be unconscious when I bounce.

  • Sunday, May 17, 2015
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“Sometimes it takes a good fall to really know where you stand
           (Hayley Williams)
How do you fall? Or should that be how do you fall with style?
I had a rare trail running fall last week, a stump hidden in the mud caught my toe and I went down in one of those slow motion tumbles, not quite a face plant but more of a left side smear.
It got me thinking so I did some research.
I found an article about surviving a fall and it informed me that:- The odds are not on your side, but survival is possible.
Bittersweet, information.
What else?
1/ I have to grab an object on the way down.
2/ I should attempt to break my fall into segments by hitting objects such as ledges, trees or other objects, this divides my fall into several shorter falls, which gives me a much better chance of surviving.
All great advice so far.
3/ I must relax my body and not hold myself stiff. When I am relaxed my body will absorb the impact of hitting the ground better than when I am stiff.
4/I should bend my knees but not too far.
5/ No matter what height I fall from I should land feet first. I must try right myself before I hit the ground.
I got that wrong then.
6/ Once I land I should try to avoid falling on my back. Falling to the side is statistically best. If I can't manage that, I must try to fall forward instead, breaking my fall with my arms. 
So I got that bit right.
7/ I must protect my head when I land because I will probably bounce. I will most likely be unconscious when I bounce.
And finally, Good physical condition and youth seem to positively influence fall survival rates. You can’t change your age, but if you’re looking for yet another reason to get in shape, here it is. Also, it is best not to fall at all.

Get out there people, it should help you think.

With both my wife and I working in education we often have a variety of education related books in the house at any given moment. One such book on the table right now is called The New IQ, Use your working memory to think stronger, smarter, faster by Tracy and Ross Alloway. It's my wife's current reading but picking it up and idly flicking through it I came across these thoughts...
"In our research we have found that one activity in particular that can pump up your brain power"
The authors go on to explain how the human body is a long distance running machine and that humans can run longer and better than any other mammal. They state that a study by the University of Illinois showed that running improves working memory,  the cognitive function responsible for keeping information online, manipulating it, and using it in your thinking. The study compared weightlifters and runners and found that the former showed no improvement in working memory after a workout yet running boosted mental performance. So far, so good but where it really got my attention was where the theory was extended - by looking at the effects of barefoot running. A Japanese professor, Mitsui Suzuki posits that running has an effect on working memory because it can be unpredictable requiring changes in gait or having terrain variations thus requiring what he termed controlled attention, a working memory skill. The authors of the book wondered if barefoot running which requires a higher level of controlled attention would enhance working memory even further. The realisation that barefoot runners have a lot more to process (how do things feel under their feet, rough, smooth, warm, cold, painful etc) made them wonder if the extra cognitive input from barefoot running led to cognitive benefits. They set up a study where barefoot runners and shod runners filled in a questionnaire and undertook a series of tests. The result was interesting to say the least in that barefoot runners came out with a higher working memory than their shod counterparts. This could be because of the extra sensory stimuli and the fact that barefoot runners need to be aware of everything that is underfoot, they can't ignore the things that shod runners can (sheep recycled grass was given as an example)
Whether you run barefoot/ minimalist or shod though, it seems that running, according to these studies at least, is the form of exercise that best boosts our brain function, another great reason to run!
In my experience I do find that I concentrate far more when running or walking barefoot and do some of my best and most creative thinking during a run or in the hour or so afterwards.
Get out there people, it should help you think.

Whitstable 10K

  • Saturday, May 16, 2015
  • 0
So can these shoes take me to
Who I was before
I was stabbing my sticks into
A vulnerable earth

And I can almost out run you
And those stalking memories
Did I somehow become you
Without realizing

Found a little patch of heaven now
So then I'm gonna turn oysters in the sand
Cause I'm working my way back
I'm working my way back to me again
(Tori Amos)

Whitstable is famous for it's Oysters, those slimy bivalve molluscs we love to eat and a close analysis of a British map will reveal it's the nearest seaside town to the South of London. Recently I ran the Whitstable 10K with 750 of my closest friends. Lining up in the usual restless, sweaty and farting organism that comprises a race start I looked over to my right and spotted the tall, tangle haired figure of one of the best, Michael, who took the above photo at the finish. We had time for a quick chat before the gun sounded and he ran off into the distance to record a fast time. The start was slightly soured for me as some big swinging dick violently shoved me from behind and then hurled an expletive over his shoulder at me as he went past my stumbling form. Totally unnecessary because I was running straight and minding my own business.
Shrugging him off I got into the race itself which turned into what you would expect from a seaside course in late spring, warm, windy and mostly flat, ideal running conditions. I was quickly into a relaxed and mellow stride which ensured the first three miles along Marine Drive came and went with ease. At the three mile mark we turned for the inward leg along the beach front and this became the best part of the race for me. I love running along the coast, I was warm and fluid and we were running up a long, gentle incline with the sea to my right and crowds to the left.
One of the big differences between trail running and road running is that on the trails you have to remain focused and in the moment all the time, you can't afford to make mistakes on twisty, knarly trails. On flat pavement you can relax and put your mind in neutral. I prefer the engagement of the trails, I need the stimulation and the sharpness. This was a race I really enjoyed though, running with a friend it was an easy prelude to a summer of running.