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Andy Baddeley: ‘The best thing about running is the running community’

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

The middle-distance Olympian on the loneliness of the call room, a good burger after a race and how runners should keep it simple

Andy Baddeley is a middle-distance runner who competed in the European and World championships, and Commonwealth and Olympic games. He also happens to be the holder of the global parkrun record, running the Bushy Park course in 2012 in 13:48

You actually studied engineering. Do your parents ask you when you are going to stop running and get a proper job? Ha, that’s what people have been saying to me for the last 10 years. When are you going to use that degree you worked so hard for and get a proper job? Because running only started for me as a one-year thing. I was running at a reasonable level through university and then I met my coach in my final year. And it was either do a Phd or move to London, train for a year and see if I get any better. Ten years later I’ve been a professional and went to the Olympics. Never went back to academia.

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My partner believes in homeopathy. How can I convince her that vaccinations are a good idea?

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

Her alternative-leaning mother has raised her to have faith in massively diluted plant extracts but, if we are to go travelling or have kids, surely we need to trust science to keep us safe

My partner (25) of one year has been raised a homeopath by her charismatic and alternative mother, shunning modern medicine, vaccinations, antibiotics, fluoride toothpaste and even anti-malarials when travelling to at-risk areas. Instead she has been always given homeopathic remedies to “cure” her whooping cough, measles and numerous preventable infections. In recent years, she has not been seriously ill, and attributes this to her “activated” immune system. All past recoveries (massively prolonged recoveries) have been put down to the “homeopathic remedy”, where extracts of plants are diluted tens of billions of times, with zero medical or scientific proof.

We have discussed this at length, my partner citing allegiance to her mother for her loyalty to the placebo medicines, and not her own personal beliefs. When I provide facts from verified sources I am met with anecdotal tales without provenance. How do I convince her, if we want to go travelling and one day have children, that she is safest getting herself (and any kids) vaccinated, against her mothers “teachings”?

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The formula for marathon success?

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

Do online marathon prediction calculators offer too rosy a picture? Ian Williams takes a look at the formula, and offers a potentially more accurate one

In case you had not realised, it’s marathon season – and I’m not just talking about the one on the telly – there are at least 30 listed in the Fetch Everyone race finder this month. And, while many runners are happy just to complete this challenging distance, there are plenty who are cramming their heads with calculations, extrapolations and dreams of PB glory.

Unless you are the sort of person who turns up to a marathon in tennis shoes and cut-off jeans, you have probably got a good idea of the sort of pace you are able to maintain over longer distances. But, until you have gone the whole way, it’s hard to know how well you’ll finish. Long runs, fuelling strategies and careful preparation all help, but you’ll find out plenty about yourself in that final six miles.

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How was your weekend running?

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

Who wouldn’t forgo a lie-in for a tub of peanut butter and a 20 mile race? You guys, right? As always, share your weekend triumphs and woes below the line

Ok then. Four weeks to London Marathon. Four weeks until chocolate, large glasses of white wine, and an entire bag of M&S jam doughnuts – inhaled rather than eaten. I always think ‘taper’ is a fairly vague term, as I’ve already done my longest run (weeks ago) and now my last 20+ miler, yet still have a lot of hard runs to do. However, I do feel like the end is starting to near. And thank god for that.

Yesterday’s last 20 miler was done at Kingston Breakfast Run, a race I thoroughly recommend for those who live near enough. There are 8.2,16.2 and 20.1 mile options, a flat route and great goody bags featuring Lidl’s finest. Who wouldn’t run 20.1 miles for peanut butter?* And who wouldn’t get up at 5am on Mother’s Day, also the day the clocks go back, to have breakfast in time?**

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Breaking the pain barrier: safe ways to manage chronic agony

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

Long-term pain is estimated to affect up to 28 million people in the UK, but with the safety of commonly used painkillers under scrutiny, what other measures are effective?

The writer and runner Haruki Murakami says: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” But many of the estimated 28 million people in the UK who live with long-term, chronic pain, would beg to differ. Elderly people with back and knee pain become increasingly housebound, withdrawn and socially isolated. Daily nerve pain, headaches or muscle aches lead to depression, unemployment and fractured relationships. And now a study has questioned the safety of commonly used painkillers – diclofenac and ibuprofen – after finding an increased risk of cardiac arrest among users. So just what are you supposed to do if you are in pain?

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What’s the best age to become a mother?

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

Studies suggest older mothers benefit by being more emotionally mature and financially stable. But there are health risks with waiting longer to have kids. So what’s the best balance?

What’s the best age to become a mum? Between 20 and 35, according to the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. During these 15 years, it’s easier to conceive, and you are less likely to have high blood pressure, a miscarriage or require a caesarian section – need I go on? You’re also more likely to cope with sleep deprivation and have enough energy to win the mum’s race at sports day.

But what’s the best age to start bringing up a child? According to research at Aarhus University in Denmark, it may be a bit older – mid-30s upwards. In a study of 4,741 Danish mothers, being older was associated with raising children with fewer behavioural, social and emotional difficulties at ages seven and 11. In Denmark, the average age for having children is 30.9, and the proportion of babies born to mothers over the age of 40 has quadrupled since 1985. Data from the Office for National Statistics says that the average age of women having children in England and Wales was 30.3 years, with rates in older women rising since the mid-1970s.

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Cycle freight: why the bike is good for moving more than people

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

Better infrastructure for transporting people by bike is great. But cycle freight could free up roads and transform cities and towns too

The plastic bike basket I bought online was billed as “large”, but even so I was amazed when it arrived. This was a behemoth – a cavernous, black box into which you could as easily fit a decent-sized dog as a bag of shopping.

Fitted to my new commuter bike, the initial effect was comical. But such worries were soon forgotten given how astonishingly useful it proved.

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Too many cyclists are injured and killed on UK’s roads | Letters

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

Your correspondent (Letters, 25 March) says 50 cyclists are killed or seriously injured every year in the UK when the actual figure is over 3,300. Having diminished the tragedy faced by thousands of people, he uses the opportunity to condemn cyclists’ behaviour, judge people’s choice of cycle model and accuse them of feeling “entitled to the road”. We all have a duty of care on the roads, and a right to use them, but the Department for Transport’s statistics on cyclist, and indeed pedestrian, casualties show that the prime source of danger lies with heavier vehicles. Peter Walker’s case (Heading for a fall, G2, 22 March) for reducing that danger, and improving the nation’s health, is commendable.
Tom Bogdanowicz
Senior policy and development officer, London Cycling Campaign

• Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

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Fell race tests even the spectators

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

Dent Fell, west Cumbria Runners in the Jarrett’s Jaunt race have little time to appreciate the fell’s panoramic views of the Solway Firth

By hump-backed Wath Brow bridge, weary fell runners step gingerly down slippery banking into the icy waters of the river Ehen, swollen by overnight rain. Ah, the blessed relief as they rub and knead their calves with fingers and thumbs, jabbing deep into the muscles, soothing aches caused by scaling fellsides so steep they sometimes needed hands to help.

Related: Cumbria’s iron man

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‘I always come back from Chianti a kilo or two heavier’

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

Colin O’Brien, author of a new book about the Giro d’Italia, celebrates the Tuscan region’s enduring legacy of cycling heroes and simple-but-superb food, as well as its working class roots

There’s nothing I look forward to more each year than the Giro d’Italia – with the possible exception of Christmas dinner at home in Dublin. It heralds the arrival of summer. The weather in May is still capricious, but once you see the pink of the maglia rosa you know long, sun-drenched days are not far off.

This year is the 100th edition of the cycle race, so it’s going to be pretty special. It ingrains itself into everyday life in a way few cultural events can. One of this year’s stages departs from the village of Ponte a Ema near Florence, birthplace of the great Gino Bartali, three-time winner of the Giro.

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