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How was your weekend running?

Jan 2nd, 2017 by

Come and share your triumphs, woes, PBs, questions and next week’s winning lottery numbers below the line as always

I was pondering the issue, the other day, of what’s worth spending money on when it comes to running. The purists (or inverse snobs) will tell you that all you need is a pair of cheap plimsolls and the outdoors, and you are good to go. Fair enough if you can run in those things – I couldn’t even do PE at school in them. My personal view is that when it comes to kit, it’s worth spending money on the things that are right for you. If you are lucky enough that Decathlon shoes work for you, brilliant. If, unfortunately for your wallet, it’s only a £100+ pair that make your feet happy, then that’s money well spent. Other stuff can help: a comfy run-commute bag. A Garmin to track your pace. A windproof winter jacket. None of these are essential, but all can help make your running more pleasurable and thus more likely to be repeated.

However, if there is one thing that I would happily spend a fortune on, it would be a good sports massage. When I win the lottery (a matter of time, obviously) I’ll be employing a full time masseur. I would tell you his name but I’m afraid one of you might win first and poach him. Until I had a really good massage, I never quite saw the point. Sure, it could help ease tight knots of muscle, but wouldn’t a foam roller do that? And was it really worth spending that much on when I wasn’t actually injured? The answer is definitely yes. A really good masseur can not only help you recover and indeed prevent injuries, but make you feel like you’ve been gifted a fresh pair of legs. And that, for any committed runner, is priceless.

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How was your weekend running?

Jan 2nd, 2017 by

Racing, training or starting a December running streak? As always, share your running stories from the weekend below the line

And to think I could have been freezing my toes off doing cross country in a muddy Surrey field this weekend … Instead, I am in Barbados (sorry) having just run the 10k (Saturday night) and the half marathon (Sunday morning, 12 hours later) and I can honestly say that a) I’ve never sweated so much in my life and b) never run so slowly with such enormous effort. However, I must also add c) had such a lovely time.

Clearly the compensations of running in the Caribbean outweigh the drawbacks in the same way that a rhino outweighs a gnat, but blimey it’s hard work. The temperature, even at 5am (when the half marathon and marathon start) is only a degree or so cooler than the peak of around 30 degrees, and the humidity around 85%. Two days to acclimatise and two races in 12 hours is probably not what the textbooks on running in hot weather recommend, but ignore the textbooks, because they rarely have chapters on how to have fun. Or how to cool down afterwards in the sea (that’s me in the picture) and drink iced coconut water for rehydration.

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Sadiq Khan to spend £770m on London cycling initiatives

Jan 2nd, 2017 by

Mayor’s proposed investment gets near levels seen in cycle-friendly nations such as Netherlands and Denmark

London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has promised to spend £770m on cycling initiatives over the course of his term, saying he wants to make riding a bike the “safe and obvious” transport choice for all Londoners.

Following criticism that Khan has not been as bold as his predecessor, Boris Johnson, in committing to new bike routes, and amid increasing worries about air quality in London, Khan’s office has set out what is described as a hugely ambitious programme to boost cyclist numbers.

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Cycling on Vauxhall Bridge: a return visit and some new statistics

Jan 2nd, 2017 by

One year since its opening more cyclists seem to be using one of London’s “superhighway” routes, although not all its goals have yet been met

On Monday I stood on Vauxhall Bridge counting cyclists. Sad but true. I did the same thing almost exactly a year ago following a startling radio station row about how many people were using the newly-opened, two-way cycle superhighway, CS5, to cross the bridge and how many weren’t bothering. My return last week was in order to see what might have changed in the ensuing 12 months. Was CS5 being used more or less? Had the overall number of cyclists crossing the bridge increased or reduced? Were cyclists behaving differently?

The cycle superhighway (CS) in question is on the eastern side of the bridge. During the first bitterly cold half hour I spent on the bridge on a Tuesday morning last November, I counted 98 cyclists – a rate of 196 per hour – crossing the bridge on its western side. Almost all were heading north into central London, as you would expect during the morning peak travel period, and made their way through the motorised traffic into the bus lane. During that half hour, hardly any cyclists took advantage of the signalised crossing provided for them on the southern approach to the bridge to get over to CS5 and make use of that bespoke facility for crossing the bridge.

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Sprinting: ‘It’s just fun. So much fun!’

Jan 2nd, 2017 by

While the running world seems to be offering longer and longer races, perhaps it’s time for us to take a step back and appreciate the joys of sprinting

I tell almost everyone I know the same story about sprinting. After school, we would race to the local shop for sweets before running back and sitting on the track eating them out of paper bags. As the PE teacher walked into our line of vision, we’d wipe our sticky hands on our shorts and start legging it around the track.

This was what sprinting was to me when I was young. A laugh, and something that came relatively easily. I was by no means a champion, but I was on the girl’s relay team and competed in inter-school competitions, which we always looked forward to as a day out.

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Magic mushroom chemical psilocybin could be key to treating depression – studies

Dec 2nd, 2016 by

Immediate reduction in depression and anxiety for up to eight months seen in patients with advanced cancer given a single dose of psilocybin

A single dose of psilocybin, the active ingredient of magic mushrooms, can lift the anxiety and depression experienced by people with advanced cancer for six months or even longer, two new studies show.

Researchers involved in the two trials in the United States say the results are remarkable. The volunteers had “profoundly meaningful and spiritual experiences” which made most of them rethink life and death, ended their despair and brought about lasting improvement in the quality of their lives.

Related: Tiny minority of people with depression get treatment, study finds

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Tiny minority of people with depression get treatment, study finds

Dec 2nd, 2016 by

In poorest countries, only one in 27 people with depression receive adequate treatment, according to researchers

Only a small minority of people with depression across the world, just one in 27 in the poorest countries, receive even minimally adequate treatment for their condition, a major study has found.

Researchers from King’s College London, Harvard Medical School and the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that even in wealthy countries only one in five people with depression received adequate treatment.

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The emotional life of men: ‘you’ll be right’ isn’t enough anymore | Louis Hanson

Dec 2nd, 2016 by

We have grown up into a society in which males fear sharing emotion with one another, and we continue to teach boys that emotion is not okay

I love my father. He’s kind and caring.

He grew up in a rural family of boys. He learnt from his father, who in turn learnt from his father, that expressing emotion didn’t coincide with his maleness. Not only was vulnerability not a choice, it just wasn’t an option. Things were left unsaid. The masculine ego left seemingly fortifiable. They were a generation of men strong and powerful but emotionally detached.

Related: Highest Australian suicide rate in 13 years driven by men aged 40 to 44

Related: ‘As boys, we are told to be brave’: men on masculinity and mental health

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CBT ‘should be routinely offered’ to women with premenstrual syndrome

Dec 2nd, 2016 by

Gynaecologists advise that cognitive behavioural therapy could help women manage the symptoms of PMS

Women experiencing premenstrual syndrome should routinely be offered cognitive behavioural therapy to help them manage the symptoms, gynaecologists have said.

Around 40% of women experience symptoms of PMS with around 5%-8% having severe symptoms. Physical symptoms can include swollen breasts and bloating, and the psychological symptoms are wide-ranging, including depression, irritability, suicidal thoughts and loss of confidence. The condition can be debilitating, disrupting school, social and work life.

Related: Why is premenstrual syndrome still so badly understood? | Hannah Ewens

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Matt Haig on Christmas: ‘It was an anchor at the bottom of the year. It fixed my childhood in place’

Dec 2nd, 2016 by

The festive period can feel overly sentimental and commercialised, but it also serves as a beacon of hope and joy. Plus: Jenni Murray, John Cooper Clarke, Katherine Jenkins and others on what Christmas means to them

People tend to be snobby about Christmas, and they tend to be particularly snobby about the cultural things it produces: the overly commercialised songs, movies and TV ads. The excess and sentimentality of it, the inclusive, populist spirit, seem designed to bring out the Ebenezer Scrooge in even the most uncommitted of cultural snobs.

I will never join them. Yes, I know Christmas can be a pain. When I was suffering from serious depression, the whole season became a tormenting joke, my own misery highlighted by the contrast with the jollity of my surroundings. But Christmas was also one of the things that helped get me out of that depression. It helped as a marker of progress, since it was always easier to remember Christmases in a way that you can’t remember, say, Octobers.

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