Tag Archives: running

Going the extra mile


When Jesus said that we were to go the extra mile he wasn’t encouraging us to be the best we can. He was teaching us that ordinary people can subvert and undermine imperial power. Best of all, he was teaching us the way of active nonviolence.

In Roman times higher ranking soldiers would buy slaves or animals to carry their gear for them. But the ordinary footsoldiers often couldn’t afford that luxury. Instead, they could force a passer by to carry their kit. The law limited the passage of forced labour to a single mile.

But when Jesus called on people to go the extra mile he wasn’t asking them to be selfless or to assist the empire. Instead, he was encouraging people to put the soldier at risk of punishment for breaking the Roman law.

We don’t have to wait on someone else to fix things for us. We can all start now, with dignity and humanity, to build the realm of heaven on earth.

I’m not one for pushing my faith, I’m a Quaker after all, but if you want to read more about this, Walter Wink’s Jesus and Nonviolence is a great place to start.


One of the things I love about running with other people is that you can have conversations about all sorts of things. About faith, motivations, food, running shoes, our past, our present and our future.

Today was my first 2014 run with three of my colleagues. We didn’t do anything subversive though. We ran from our office to Victoria Park and did one lap around the edge. As you can see from the image above it was a beautiful time to be out running and Victoria Park is pretty special too. While we were out we passed a couple more of our colleagues out on a lunchtime walk.

We have a running joke that because one woman is faster than the rest of us then we should keep asking her questions so she uses up more energy as she answers. In practice, we all talk about everything and nothing.

Janathon stats: 3.16 miles in 28:41.

Moves today so far: 3,216 steps and 5.5k run.

Related posts

Symon Hill on celebrating revolution at Christmas

Shaz Runs’ Janathon update and having a husband like a film star

Londonist: Victoria Park is the nation’s favourite


I will be good

“I will be good.” So said an 11-year-old Victoria when told by her governess that one day she would be queen.

With that sentiment in mind I knew that I had to get out and do my first lunchtime run of 2014. To help me deliver on my promise I signed up to Janathon (daily exercise and blogging) and Jantastic (goal-setting in teams).

I will be good. A lunchtime run involves leaving my office in the St Margaret’s House Settlement in Bethnal Green and heading up to Victoria Park. Named after the same Victoria, the park perimeter is around 5km long. Victoria Park contains 218 acres of space. It has a beautiful lake with plenty of birds to watch, though when I run I mostly see the path.

I have a lot of time to think about things when I run. I loved Haruki Murakami’s book What I talk about when I talk about running and I often think of that book while running! Though it is only now looking the book up online that I discover that in my head it is called ‘What I think about when I think about running’.

Mostly today I was thinking about the beauty of the park. I enjoyed seeing a cormorant perched upon a branch above the lake. I was also thinking about how to publicise a vacancy we have at work. We’ve advertised in the Guardian online and Charity Job, but from the last job we advertised eventually appointed someone who saw the role on Twitter. Social networks really are important! So if you know anyone who would like to manage QSA’s Down to Earth funeral advice service, based in east London, send them to www.quakersocialaction.com/vacancies.

I followed a guy for about 3/4 of the way round, he was going only marginally faster than me for the first couple of miles, but I lost a bit of pace in the third mile. I finished with a determined sprint on the final stretch and, partially blinded by the sweat in my eyes, I almost tripped over a wizard’s dog. Well, I way I saw a wizard. It was a man with a fine long silver beard a la Gandalf, with a hat (pointy?) and a long overcoat. It was quite a small dog. I greeted the wizard and his dog as I ran. Who knows when one day I might need his help?

So I got out. I ran. I will be good.

Janathon stats: 3.15 miles in 27:02. Also walking 3.5 miles in my work and nursery commute today.

Related posts

The fat girl’s guide to running downloads the Murakami book

Alastair Campbell’s review in the Guardian of What I talk about when I talk about running.

Mum reports blog on Victoria Park.

Phil Lengthorn sticks with Janathon when the going was getting tougher.

Getting to the point at Parkrun

Parkrun on Saturday was a mixed affair. I’d started with running to the park as my warm up, which was a good idea. When the run proper started, I was feeling good and I made it around about 3/4 of the first lap pacing myself just behind someone who runs within my PB time but better than the times I’ve been running of late.

Unfortunately, as we came up the first of two significant hills I managed to persuade myself that I needed the loo. So I ducked into the toilet behind the cafe. I’m sure I could have waited, I’ve felt worse before and carried on. But I’ve also got into this habit where sometimes I stop mid-Parkrun and use the loo. Usually when I’m running much slower, so this was in itself a first.

When I re-emerged I was much further down the field. I set off and soon found a rhythm I could keep with, which was a little faster than those around me so I made up some ground. One thing that tends to keep me going is thinking of the men’s points table. I don’t have any chance of making it to the top, but a nice way of keeping my focus on a better time is to see the men ahead of me and think about the extra point I get for each man that I finish ahead of. The first placed person of each gender gets 100 points at Hilly Fields Parkrun, second gets 99 and so on down through the field. It doesn’t mean anything in the end really, but it is a helpful way to keep me motivated through the course.

As I ran I made a note of who was ahead of me and noted the men as extra points. There were mostly women immediately ahead of me so there weren’t many immediate points on offer. On the start of the third lap I saw one of the chaps ahead of me cutting off a bit of a corner. I don’t have a problem with this as Parkrun is all about our own integrity and I sometimes cut a corner off a bit if I’ve gone long somewhere else. And I recall some blog advice I read recently suggesting that if you take the tightest line you can through Parkrun you’ll run 5,000 metres and not 5,050 metres, which could help your time.

But there weren’t many points on offer ahead of me so I decided to pass this guy if I could. Only he was going at a decent pace himself. When I got to climbing Vicars Hill (the first of the two big hills, where I had persuaded myself to go to the loo 2 laps earlier) I put a lot of effort in and passed this guy. I decided to put enough distance between him and me that I could perhaps lay off the pace a little.

After the hill there’s some flat and then a big down hill. Sometimes I let my legs fly down there and other times I try and keep my pace together. This time I went for it. As I turned slightly at the bench at the bottom of the hill I looked back and the guy I had passed was not far behind me, also sprinting down the hill.

Usually, as I come to the last hill, it’s really hard and steep and I go relatively slow to save a little for the final stretch. But not this time. I decided to see off this guy properly. I charged up the hill. But as I turned off the grass and onto the tarmac path at the top of the hill the guy was right on my shoulder. He had caught up!

Again, by this time I would normally hold off before making a final sprint for the line but now all I cared about was this single bloody point. I pushed on again, sprinting to the right around the runners immediately ahead. My nemesis went left. After my first burst he was still there with me. So, from somewhere, I don’t really know where, I found the energy and effort to push on again.

When I next dared look round there was space between me and him. A guy who had already finished shouted encouragement from the bench. I wasn’t leaving this to chance. I ran my long legs as hard as I could all the way to the finish.

I came through about a couple of seconds ahead of the other guy and as he came through we briefly connected with handshake fist bump thing. In acknowledgment of the battle, perhaps. But what really mattered was that I had got the point. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I spent the next few minutes lying in the mud trying to get my breath back.

Later when I got my time from the Parkrun website I saw my time – 27:07. Still 2 minutes off my best. The other fellow came through in 27:12, some way off his best of 19:00. 19:00! No wonder he had the legs to push me all the way to the end.

Thanks to the other guy’s efforts I was only 4 seconds off my time from two weeks ago (when I didn’t stop for the loo part way round). Maybe next time I’ll forgo the comfort break and put the effort into a faster time of my own accord. I know I can get back to my PB time, I just need to keep on trying.

When a baby becomes a toddler


My baby has just become a toddler! And the giraffe pictured here above has helped. We borrowed this rather lovely item from Lewisham Toy Library. Taking it out into the local parks and the streets has helped give toddler lots of practice walking and now he’s doing it unaided.

Meanwhile, I ran my NCT route last night in the rain, with a PB of approximately 31minutes. After a few weeks of not running in the week, a colleague told me she tried to get out for 15minutes. I tried it on Monday and ran for 18minutes. And last night I did it again. Nevermind that by the time I got out it was 2140. Nor that it was raining. I found a good rhythm early and had a lovely run. More please!

Evening running in London


After my last post I decided enough was enough. I pulled on my sweater and set off on my good old nct run. It takes me past the homes of everyone who was in our nct class, the teacher’s and the breastfeeding specialist’s. It is just under 4 miles at its shortest. Today I did the clockwise version, running mile splits of 9:00, 8:02 and 8:32, finishing in 32:43 so the last .86 was done in 6:59, with a major sprint finish down the whole of my road. By the time I finished my orange running shirt was a right old sweater.

I love a run in London of an evening.

In a moment, when I’ve picked myself up off the floor, there will probably be a nasty pool of sweat on the carpet, to go with the crushed fruit, stones and baby sick.