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 not 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.

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.