10th January 2016

I normally run following at least one day rest (at least from running), but this afternoon, the dogs were asking, no-one else wanted to walk them, so I thought, "why not, maybe a short run?".  I at least took the dogs on a different route, down to Friday Bridge, up the Stitch and around Bar Drove - but it turned out to be a similar length to my recent runs - 4.4 miles in 46 minutes.  That was Running with Dogs No.14.

What really inspired this post though, was what I was just reading in that Richard Askwith book Running Free (2014).  He cites a number of surveys and studies from across both Europe and the USA, that seem to praise running outside in green areas, as opposed to treadmill work inside gyms.  The studies appear to correlate that exercising outdoors, particularly in green areas, appears to offer tremendous benefits to our mental state, our health, our sense of wellness, even perhaps our fitness, compared to working out indoors only.

I have not read any of these studies, but I'm not at all surprised.  It is something that I have considered at length many years ago - the benefits of being close to other species of animals and plants - being out in Nature.  Biophillia.  We are drawn to it, and appear to benefit from it.

The above photograph is of myself.  Taken last week in the pocket cemetery by Anita, using my 50p camera, and that strange Rollei retro 400S film.

Candid reflection on a train.

I captured this photo this week, using my 50p camera (Olympus XA2), loaded with Rollei Retro 400S film.  That film can be very temperamental, often producing dark, underexposed, or overly contrast negatives.  I must remember to stop the camera up, and add a minute to developing time.  However, regardless of it's faults, this film can sometimes produce really interesting high contrast images.  I developed yesterday, it this time in Ilford LC29.

That's the technology.  The image is something else.  I kept seeing her staring into the reflection, not seeing me, but through the window.  Candids of pretty girls can be a dodgy affair, particularly in the confines of a railway carriage - but I couldn't help myself.  I saw this image, and tried to capture it. 

The Upgrade Culture

One of the things that I want to frequently discuss in this journal, are the ways in which I see English society, and the World at large, changing within my lifetime.  That has to be worth recording?

I am presently reading Running Free by Richard Askwith  2014.  I found the second hand book for sale in a local charity shop.  Reading it for running inspiration.  In the early sections he discusses the rise of consumerism in British running during his lifetime.  When he started running, all that he needed were a pair of gym trainers, and to put one foot in front of the other.  Now, a multi-million dollar industry convinces us that you need to spend thousands on the latest running socks, branded running shorts, nutritional recovery drinks, GPS health monitoring systems, and of course, ultra-expensive running shoes.  The markets and their sponsored magazines promote the belief, that without buying their latest necessities, we could never be real, or serious runners.

I was really pleased to read Askwith's views.  I've been expressing the same views with regards to photography for years, in my previous blog The Tight Fisted Photographer, and with my 50p Camera Project, where I used a thirty year old 35mm film camera to take photographs.  I bought the camera from a car boot sale for 50p.  I've also witnessed it in British angling.  You can't be a real or serious angler, unless you sit on that latest, branded, state of the art tackle box.  As if a tackle box could catch you more, or larger fish!  It happens in almost every pastime or interest, and in society at large.  We are told by the markets to buy stuff that we do not need.  To keep spending, to keep upgrading.

Of course, Capitalism, and even Consumerism, is nothing new.  As I've said before with regards to photography, George Eastman soon replaced his first box camera at the start of the 20th Century, with an improved Mk II box camera.  None-the-less, one of the aspects of change that I have witnessed in English society, has been the accelerating expansion of consumerism.  Karl Marx thought that Capitalism was doomed to die, as it would milk the poor, to benefit the rich, until all resources were depleted, and all markets fulfilled.  Maybe he failed to see how Capital could generate new markets, and new desires?  Look at the mobile phone.  We lived perfectly well without them for many thousands of years.  I lived without them for the first thirty plus years of my Life.  I could have never predicted that they would become fashion accessories, and status symbols for young people.  A solid state device that (let's be honest), in casual hands, has a life of six months to three years.  A device that apparently out dates within that time scope, and needs to be upgraded.  Who would have thought that children would be carrying them to school?

The point is, that there was no desire for mobile phones before it was created.  Young people suggest to me, that it must have been incredibly boring and unexciting to live before the Binary Age (before Internet, small computers, smart phones, etc).  Of course it wasn't!  Life was at least as rich, before we felt pressured to carry the latest upgrade Iphone!  The Upgrade Culture.  Perfectly created by Capital.  Keep people working, obeying, paying tax, and of course, consuming the products of the markets.

Running with dogs No.13

Ran this morning 4.4 miles with both dogs, for 46 minutes.  Avoided the deep mud of the first field.  Rewarded dogs with a piece of lambs liver each.  They're knackered now. 

Weighed in on the scales this morning.  169 pounds.  Down from 192 pounds in late November.  A loss of 23 pounds so far.  I've got two posts that I expect to reach soon: 1) drop below 12 stone (167 pounds), and 2) drop into the "Normal" or healthy BMI zone (164 pounds).  Rock n' roll!

Running with dogs - canicross

I just can't understand how some people go out running for fitness - and leave their dogs sitting at home.  It seems perfect logic to me, that you can exercise yourself and your pooches at the same time.  It also gives you the chance to bond with your dogs, in a way that benefits all.

Canicross (Cani-X), is the activity of simply cross country running with a dog or two, harnessed to your body.  The dogs wear suitable activity harnesses (I swear by the Manmat H harnesses over the X back style), attached via a bungee enforced line, with clips to a runner's canicross belt.  The trick is to train the dogs to trot ahead at your comfortable running pace.  Strictly speaking, it is organised as a competitive event, but there is no reason that it cannot be enjoyed purely for pleasure and fitness.

I first started running (and competing) canicross, years ago with a Siberian husky, and also later, with a dalmatian.  I ran this style for around four years.  Things happened in my Life, and I became separated from my dogs.  Without them, I lost my pack, my confidence to run, and slowly, my fitness.  Over the past four years, my health has started to go, I'm aging, and I'm overweight.

I started canicross running again at the beginning of December.  We've completed twelve runs now - each three and a half to a little over four miles long.  I'm feeling so much fitter - and younger!  With a healthy living plan, I've so far lost 22 pounds of weight. Meanwhile - the dogs are looking fit and happy.

The above far too lengthy GoPro video was recorded last week on Run.11.