Monthly Archives: May 2013

Juneathon

I’ve signed up.

It seems that I can’t exercise moderately, I need to sign up for something, or just not bother. I’ve not really done anything for a couple of weeks after having decided that I’m not doing any “events” this year – ie no big swims, but it seems that without the motivation of an event I can manage to never find the time to do any exercise at all. However, I don’t like doing nothing – hence Juneathon.

For those that don’t know it, the “rules” or guidelines of Juneathon are:

– Run or do some form of exercise every day.
– Blog about it within 24 hours.
– Join the Juneathon group at the Running Free website and log your runs/exercise.
– Visit other blogs and leave comments, giving your support.
– Link to the Juneathon website and display the ‘Juneathon Participant’ logo.

I’m not going to promise to stick to these rules rigidly, but it will give me a focus for the month.

In fact, my promise to myself is to try and do 25 days of running or exercise. It will mainly be running, but also the lake swimming when I can. I’ll blog about it as often as I can, but it won’t be daily. I won’t care about the distance I cover, I’ll just try to enjoy getting out there. But I will try to “join in” with the community. And of course the easy one is the logo (below).

juneathon_participant_logoIf you want to join in – go here to sign up.

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Filed under Motivation, Running, Swimming

Just because they’re “Muslim” doesn’t make them “terrorists”

The attacks last week in Woolwich were horrific and terrifying. Vicious and bloody they have rightly shocked us all. This post is inspired by the fallout of those attacks, but is NOT directly about those attacks. I don’t claim to be an expert on what happened in Woolwich, or what happened in the build up or what has happened in the aftermath.

I say that to provide an excuse for me if I get any facts wrong. This post is not about the attack itself, but it is about the use of the words “terrorism” and “terrorist” so quickly after it happened. Words are powerful – and for a nation they are more powerful than the actual attack, as shocking and horrible as this was for the individuals concerned. The word terrorism is especially powerful. By using the word it allows us to:

– Blame “others” – you know “them”, they’re not like us, they’ve been radicalised by more of the “others”. But it’s certain not our fault.
– Be afraid – terrorism is much more scary a word and a concept than murder. Terrorism has a mass effect and is unrelenting – after all we have to fight a “war” against it, while murder happens one at a time and is unlikely to actually affect us.
– Be racist – this links to the “others” comment above, but if some Muslims are terrorists then maybe we can blame all Muslims
– Ignore the individuals – by calling it terrorism we don’t ask the question about why and how someone can be radicalised – what was going on in their minds and lives to lead them to choose this path?

“Terrorist” is a get out clause to get us to ignore the smaller details, the real issues and the actual lives of those involved. I’m not even going to touch on the issues that the attackers shouted out to the media (about revenge for attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq), this isn’t a post about the global situation and the rights and wrongs of those “wars”. But instead we should consider how and why two individuals decided that this was the best course of action – radicalisation or not. Or perhaps, how these individuals could be radicalised.

Without knowing the facts I would suggest that there aren’t many affluent, successful, comfortable and confident individuals who choose this path. There aren’t many people, irrespective of religion or place of birth, who feel welcomed and happy in this country, who feel they have a future and the chance of a happy life that choose this path. So why don’t we look at the issue surrounding the estates that people live in, the job opportunities open to them, the institutionalised racism they suffer?

Then of course there is the other side to it all – why is a single murder by people claiming a “Muslim” agenda terrorism when similar attacks from so-called “Christians” not considered terror? If terrorism is from “others”, surely reinforcing the “otherness” will only increase these so-called terrorist attacks.

Terrorism is an incredibly emotive word and one which is designed to invoke an emotional response from people. In a situation like this that emotional response is not usually conducive to calming things down and working out ways to reduce further attacks.

We need to be careful how we label attacks such as the one in Woolwich – in my view two idiots with a knife and some “Muslim” slogans doesn’t equate to terrorism.

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No events this year

After my swim this weekend I was mulling over which events to enter this summer, but in the end I’ve decided not to enter any.

I enjoyed my swim at the weekend, but even after all of last year’s efforts and events, I’m still not sure that I love swimming. I enjoy it, I certainly enjoyed last year’s swims, but I’m not desperate to continue.

Last year was all about the challenge, it was all about trying to swim Windermere. It was about doing something that not many people do and pushing myself as hard as I could. All of the other events were part of the vital preparation for that big challenge.

This year… well it’s about me, it’s about whether I really want to. And to be honest I’m not sure I do.

It’s partly that work (here and here) is even busier – and more important as we relaunch BoothChat – than it was this time last year; it’s partly that the weekends away cost around £200 once you’ve added in the entry fee, b ‘n’ b, petrol costs etc; and it’s partly that the water is bloody cold. However, it’s mainly that I don’t have the time or commitment to train up to be better than last year – and if I’m not going to beat someone (even if it is only me) then what’s the point?

So, I’ll keep going to the lake at the weekend, I’ll keep going to the gym and for a run now and again, but no swimming events and certainly no Windermere this year.

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Stop sexist trolling

I read this post last week, it’s by Helen Lewis on the New Statesman blog. In it Helen gets some quite horrifying stories from other female bloggers about the sexist comments and trolling they get – and many are deeply, deeply offensive.

As a male blogger, with very few readers, writing mainly about swimming I don’t tend to get much trolling, especially not sexist trolling. So I can’t really comment about how it must feel to get these kind comments, but I can comment about how it feels to read that there are people (almost exclusively men) making them.

It’s wrong, pathetic, cowardly, weak, childish and it damages us all.

Firstly, it reduces open, sensible debate on the internet. One of the best features of the web is that gives anyone a voice. Anyone (with a computer and internet connection) can set up a blog and speak their mind. This is good. This increases our knowledge, our awareness of other people and their views, feelings and outlook and in an ideal world would allow us all to better understand each other and maybe even live together better. But if women are made too scared to comment then we limit half of that and that weakens us all.

Secondly, it makes men look like dicks.

The article asks the women interviewed if they think that anything can be done – and they nearly all seem to shrug and say “not really.” But why not? This kind of abuse would be illegal (I hope) if it was said in a pub, or on the street, so why is it not illegal when said on the internet? I suspect that any woman that is abused to this extent on her blog is unlikely to want to file criminal charges, but does she have to? Why can’t we? Why can I not be offended by this and contact the police? Or if it’s not a criminal law that is broken why can’t we take a civil action?

If Stephen Fry was offering money to help out the Robin Hood Airport “bomber“, then why does he not help here? Or even better, why don’t we set up a Kickstarter campaign?

Actually, why don’t we? I’d happily start one if any lawyer can get in touch to let me know whether we’d have a case and what we’d need to do (in terms of actual money raised).

So, if you know any lawyers, please pass this on to them. And if you are a lawyer, please get in touch in the comments below.

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Chilly swim

I got in the lake again today. As promised last week I went wetsuit free, even though it was colder – 13.1 degrees today.

It took me awhile to actually get in – inching myself into the water bit by bit trying to get used to the temperature. After about five minutes I took the plunge and set off. The lake itself was much quieter than last week – I think that was mainly to the fact that the weather was cold and overcast, as opposed to the bright, sunny, but cold day last week.

I only did 1.5 miles, but I was reasonably pleased with my pace – 57.05 minutes, so 38 minute miles.

It was a lovely swim, relaxed and peaceful – I didn’t push myself too hard, but I managed to move along at a decent lick. Hopefully my speed will improve over the next few weeks as I get used to the open water again, and I haven’t done much else this week, so it was my first real exercise for the week.

So, all in all, a good and successful, if chilly, day.

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Filed under Swimming

Bye bye wetsuit

Yesterday was the day for the first open water swim of the season, well for me at least.

2013-05-11 11.30.30I went up to the lake near Lincoln that I trained in last year and I have to admit to being a bit nervous. It didn’t help that I felt a little bit rough from the night before. I’d only had two cans while watching tv at home, but woke up as if I’d had a skinful, so I was a bit slower getting ready than I should have been and a bit more delicate than I would have liked.

When I got to the lake it was good to see it busy and full of early season swimmers – probably about 50-60 were there. But I wasn’t sure. I mean last year was all about swimming for me, would I be able to maintain the enthusiasm? Especially after achieving my goal. This year was going to be for “pleasure”, would it be?

The water was a cool 14 degrees so, as it was my first swim, I set off in my wetsuit. And I hated it…2013-05-11 11.30.52

It wasn’t fun at all. It was cold and hard work and lonely. You may chat to people as you’re getting in (and they are a friendly bunch), but it’s pretty hard to chat when you’re actually swimming – it’s just you and the water then. I did half a mile (one lap) and thought, “that’s it then. Last year was about the challenge – but it turns out that swimming isn’t really for me.”

I was trying to decide whether I should give it one more lap, or just call it quits, when a couple of lads came to the edge without wetsuits. “Sod it”, I thought, I’ll give it a lap without the suit – I mean it’s not that cold, so I did.

It felt wonderful. Bracing (but not cold), light and natural and actually fun.

So I’m hooked again, but I won’t be bothering with the wetsuit again.

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Fantastic half

Tonight I decided to get into the pool first before the gym, just to see how I could get on without being knackered from the weights.

Normally I like to go to the pool after a weights workout as I like to swim tired. I only get an hour in the pool, so it’s good to swim it as if it’s mile 3 or 4.

But tonight I thought I’d swim half a mile as fresh as possible. The result – 14mins 28seconds. Pretty pleased with that.

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Milky tea

Come the revolution…

People who assume that milky tea is weak tea – those people will the first against the wall. I like my tea “fairly strong, fairly milky”, what’s so difficult about that?

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Finally… Thank you for the music

Thank+You+For+The+Music+pngMonths and months ago I asked you all for some recommendations for some great music that I should buy with an iTunes voucher I had. It sparked a lot of debate and I got a lot of different opinions from people – mainly around Mumford and Sons. Anyway, I’ve finally got round to checking all the results and purchasing the music.

So, the winners are: … drumroll please…

Fleet Foxes by Fleet Foxes

Some Cities by Doves

and of course…

Sigh No More by Mumford and Sons

Thanks all for your comments and suggestions and I’ll listen (and hopefully love) these albums now.

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Come the revolution

The other day my friend @wonky_donky and I were discussing who would be for the chop once he was king. At the time we were discussing charlatan social media “gurus”. Once @wonky_donky is king this will all change – and this is a revolution I could vote for (although I think I may have misunderstood the concept of revolution).

Anyway, it got me thinking, who would be lost to this world when I run the world. There would be a few:

– People who set off for a new lane, just in front of you. I mean just in front you, like JUST IN FRONT. You may be on a training plan, but maybe so am I – I’m just swimming further than you.

– Drivers that drive at 42 mph in a 60 zone, but at 39 mph in a 30 zone. Do I need to say any more?

– Masterchef. I don’t normally watch it, but I saw a bit the other night, is it always that pretentious, pompous and pointless?

Come the revolution, these would all be gone.

Don’t worry, they’ll be more to come. I have awoken a monster!

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