All posts by AKMA

Like I Said

Makes no sense at all. This morning, I felt all right — as comfortable as I ever feel when I’m out running — and my breathing was no more constrained than ever, but today I came in at 10:31. I was imagining, on the basis of nothing very sensible, that a twenty-second variance over ten minutes would count as a dramatic margin of difference, but it’s actually only (obvs) two seconds difference for each minute, so I’ll forgo the exclamation points and tone of outrage.

On the other hand, I have to admit that yesterday I ran, twice, to catch a #5 bus at St Aldates, and was not uncomfortable doing so. Except the first time when the driver, when I was ten feet from the front bumper and gesturing emphatically, closed the doors and pulled away.

Makes No Sense

Honestly, this morning I felt almost immobile. My legs were heavy, my breathing was laboured, and my running estimate for time would have come in at about 10:40 or so. I did push the pace in the last third of the run, but I thought I was just going to bring the time in slightly higher than usual. As it turned out, though, much to my surprise, my time for the morning was 10:10.

I just don’t understand this horrible exercise; but (as I was agreeing with an ordinand earlier this week) it does feel good to know I can do it, and to be not-overwhelmed by various other activities. For instance, I can remember a point at which I could no longer bound up the stairs in the college two at a time — but these days, it’s a doddle. It’s pretty obvious that running makes those moments of limberness and strength possible. Thus, I like the benefits, but I still hate the exercise.

Lower Plateau

Somewhere I lost fifteen seconds, because I’ve been consistently running around 10:30 for the last few weeks. This morning I settled into a sluggish pace early, and when I tried to stretch out and shift to a higher gear, it just didn’t happen (till the last fifty metres or so). My knees seemed stiff this morning, and (as usual) my breathing was weak. We’ll see what the warmer weather brings; there could easily be a pollen factor at work, and some work stress and tiredness. Oh, 10:36.

Weekly Miler

After missing Wednesday cos of the rain, I didn’t expect today to be a great run. My expectations were fulfilled, as an ambitious pace settled down to my ordinary wheeze and stumble. No specific impediments this morning (though my back gave me a twinge just before I started my rope-skipping warm-up): just a slow 10:30.

No New Records

I did not beat Wednesday’s four-second mile this morning, but I did operate the timer correctly, and I did make it home under 10:30. The temperature was only 3°, which combined with the phlegm still glopping up my throat and chest to make my breathing less efficient. I set an optimistic pace, but gradually fell back to a basic slog as my wheezing and gasping got less oxygen into my blood. Mild tingle in my right calf in the last 100 metres or so. Final time, 10:27.

That’s Frustrating

No time today, as I evidently bumped the lap timer button shortly after I started (either that, or a just ran a four-second mile). I set a more ambitious pace than on Sunday, and it was a hard push — my chest cold is still making itself felt — but I’m confident that my time was closer to my plateau at 10:13-ish than to Sunday’s 11:24 time. And I did indeed hate the run the whole time.


The weather is grey and chilly; I’m already early, as I’m fighting off a head and chest cold; and, of course, I just don’t want to run. Writing my feelings out this way, however, helpfully obliges me to go ahead and get on with it.

So I went along, set a modest pace, and ran my mile — a little pain in my knees, typically ragged breathing, and my time was 11:26. I’m a little surprised that it was more than a full minute slower than my current usual, but there we are. I ran it just to have kept running, not to improve anything.

First Run of Easter

I skipped Sunday, cos Saturday was busy and late, and I only had four hours sleep (apart from patches of snooze on the coach from London). So today it had been a week without running — and the run (O, how I longed to not-run, how sweet would those minutes of extra rest have been) was boot bad. Breathing was ragged, but muscles responded well and I kept a good pace for the first half mile. In the end, 10:16.


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.