Running — ‘not my favourite’, as we taught the children to say instead of ‘I hate…’ I set a strong pace this morning, a bit warmer than it’s been recently, and felt pretty good throughout, though my glutes were a little stiff. In the end, I bounced back to 10:17, most of the way back to my plateau. Still not my favourite.

A Frosty One

Another 0° morning; honestly, April is more than half gone — a bit of warmth would be welcome. It felt as though I were trying to inhale crystalline frost, unable to draw enough air to keep myself going. My right knee has felt a bit wobbly since my last run, and the chill cut through my sweats so that none of my muscles was willing to limber up and stretch out. Still 10:26, which I’m amply content to consider a win.

For Uselessness

I’ve been ranting about the importance of waste, the value of uselessness, for a while now — at least since I had the task of introducing a programme of Graduate Attributes at the University of Glasgow: a list of promises toward the salutary effects that University study would effect on its consumers students. At the time, I argued that an undergraduate degree in the Arts should not be understood as instrumental toward improving someone’s job prospects, increasing their pay, transferring to them measurable knowledge, or making them docile stooges for ideological governmental or institutional apparatuses. Rather, study in the Arts engenders the question ‘Wouldn’t you rather admire this? Why do you want to be that? What further possibilities can you envision? How do these beautiful things work? How might we learn to do something such as that?’ Three (UK) or four (Scottish/US) years of study should support the capacity to grow up, to form sound judgements and to apprehend quickly what one observes — or at least that’s what I say. That process involves, necessarily, a certain amount of wasted time, or uselessness, and though that be a mortal sin to neoliberal culture, I’m not in the least embarrassed to advocate that alleged waste.*

I will buy a copy of this when I have a little time to read:

Jenny Odell's book, How To Do Nothing

* I am not in favour of consumer-based wastage, not a bit. I am in favour of recognising that human well-being involves time and pursuits that aren’t economically productive, not quantifiable, have no exchange-value to the wider polis. I am against razor-thin margins in employment, in resources, in human welfare.

Really, I Do Hate It

In case anyone has forgotten, I hate running. This morning was cold (4°) and I would much rather have been doing one of a thousand other things. No special impediments (except the air temperature, I suppose), and another mile in 10:13. This begins to look like a plateau.


Not quite as chilly as Wednesday, but my breathing was ragged and my quads were reluctant. I got off to a brisk pace that I had to ratchet down as I ran, to the point that my last quarter mile was largely just a slow jog (aopart from picking up my pace at the corner of Hurst and James). Overall, another day at 10:13 — indeed, a few hundredths of a second faster than Wednesday.

Mieux Encore

The weather outside was foggy, chilly (0°), and quiet, apart from my wheezing and the jingle of my keys in my pocket. I wasn’t expecting much, but when I staggered home I had shaved another ten seconds off my morning run; this morning’s mile was 10:13. Three weeks ago I was pushing to break eleven minutes.

The other day I noticed someone who was starting over at running, who was pleased for their first mile to come in at 13 minutes. I note this (a) to congratulate them for the discipline of running, and (b) to note that when I started I was running about thirteen-minute miles. I won’t say running gets better, but the times do.

Mieux Sauter

This morning I was (as usual) casting about for excuses to avoid running, and the best I could come up with was a generally unsettled feeling in my stomach, and of course my general disinclination to run.

At about two-thirds of my mile, though, my legs were feeling limber and I wasn’t entirely winded, so I shook loose and took two or three actual running steps*, the kind I see other people doing and have not yet myself been able to accomplish. Not, that is, till this morning! Now, that used up so much energy and oxygen that I couldn’t keep up my usual pace thereafter, much less the springy running pace I had just attained — but a few real running steps is more than I had been able to reach up to now. And taking even just a few running steps improved my overall time to 10:24, a nice step forward.

Still plenty of work to do on my breathing/oxygenation — I’m the world’s gasping-est runner — but I do see progress, and that’s enough for me to continue running despite my deep visceral repulsion from this exercise.

* By ‘running’ here I mean that sort of step wherein your thigh rises above my typical jogging-y angle (just a little different from a walking step, only taken a bit faster).

No ‘Re-’ Title

The weather this morning was more chilly than Sunday; I rolled my ankle slightly at the elbow of James Street, and my breathing was laboured, my legs felt heavy. I felt more like breaking stride at some point than I have in weeks. Thus I expected that my time today would turn sharply to the worse. As it turned out, my time was 10:36, so only a few seconds longer than last go.


I set a brisk pace this morning, and that was okay for almost a half mile, but my calves began to resist as I turned off the Iffley Road, so I dialled my pace down for the rest of the mile. Overall, it was a good morning, and my time was 10:30 (my timer will say 10:33, but I was having a hard time finding and hitting the Stop button). (Parenthetically, isn’t it odd that the very, very short interval that it takes you to find and hit the Stop button feels twice or three times as along as it actually takes?

Ok, make it 10:31.

Back At It

This morning’s run went fine. My breathing was rough, but I was pushing my pace, so I have to expect to get winded. The run took 10:33, which gets me back squarely at the sort of pace I ran when I was going all out and taking two or three breaks, so that’s definitely progress.

Endorsement, No Declared Interest

Adele E. Goldberg’s Explain Me This provides further evidence that scholars in biblical interpretation, especially but not exclusively those who pay attention to hermeneutics, should keep at least one toe in the waters of linguistics and semantics. Her index includes only passing reference to names that a few biblicists would recognise as pertinent to their work (Austin, Wittgenstein, Halliday, et al.), so most of my colleagues would have no immediate reason to acquaint themselves with her work — but practically every page touches on aspects of the actual work that biblical specialists conduct.

My strongest recommendation (no specific interest, though the Amazon link would give me a kickback).

Grief, Behaviour, Criticism

In the aftermath of the cataclysmic massacre in Christchurch, several reports have called attention to groups of people performing a haka to express sorrow, solidarity, frustration, and various other powerful affects. This raises a variety of noteworthy topics for reflection (cultural appropriation and exoticising/affect tourism, for starters), but this morning I’m moved to raise the question of the ways a haka appears in British (and American?) journalism to the ways other expressions of ritualised affect might be reported. A procession and requiem Mass, for instance, is a marginal phenomenon in neoliberal, post-Christendom England — not unheard of, not exotic, but nonetheless something most of the audience would perceive to be done by a them rather than an us. What other social constructions of ritualised affect (public wailing) might appear in such contexts, and how are these reported and received? What sorts of derision, appreciation, curiosity, dismissal emerge from which social constituencies?