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My marathon crossword challenge: 26 clues in 26 miles

May 2nd, 2017 by

Guardian cryptic crossword setter Paul challenged himself to write one while he ran. Here’s how he did it …

You run the London marathon, you need a gimmick. For the past 22 years I have been writing the Guardian cryptic crossword under the pseudonym Paul, after my late brother, and I had already run four marathons in his memory. I realised there are about 26 clues in a puzzle, and 26 miles to a marathon. Suddenly the idea was there, and I began to regret it immediately.

I asked my crossword-setting colleague Richard Browne, AKA Imogen, to fill a grid with 26 words. Twenty-six crossword-loving volunteers were each allocated a mile, and a word. They were briefed to stand within yards of each milepost holding up their word, yelling “Crossword Paul!” to attract my attention as I passed. I then had until the next milepost to think of a suitable clue.

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How was your weekend running?

May 2nd, 2017 by

Sometimes it’s the tough ones that you learn from. Or so I hope. Not the result I wanted in yesterday’s London Marathon, but I’ll move on. Eventually. And as always, I want to hear your own stories from the weekend, whether you ran a marathon or did something altogether more sensible

Well. This is not the post I wanted to write. I wanted to wake up this morning knowing what it feels to be a sub 3 marathoner. Instead I got a kicking. I’ll get up again, slowly, painfully, but I will get up.

Everything looked so good. I wasn’t complacent, I think, but all the signs were there. PBs galore. No niggles, as I had going into Berlin last year. And yet. From mile 14, quad pain which started bad and got worse, far far worse than anything I’ve ever had before. The longest 11 mile run/jog/limp home of my life. An absolute eternity of just saying “one foot in front of the other. Just one foot in front of the other”. Some miles which lasted, I’m sure, about three weeks. Eventually, the finish line. No triumph, just a collapse. Not the picture I had in my head for weeks, months now. 3hrs 10mins, which I do know is not a ‘bad’ time but it’s not what I wanted, or trained for, or hoped for.

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‘Uber for bikes’ comes to Cambridge – if you can find it

May 2nd, 2017 by

China’s popular dockless cycle share schemes allow riders to drop their bike wherever they want. Ofo is the first to launch in the UK – but what will our rider make of it?

Ofo, one of a host of Chinese start-ups hoping to do for bikes what Uber did for taxis, has chosen Cambridge for its first foray into Europe, a trial of which launched without fanfare this week.

Chinese cities have seen hundreds of thousands of these ‘dockless’ bikes hit its streets, that now have tens of millions of regular users.

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London marathon: the runners for whom 26.2 miles is not that far

May 2nd, 2017 by

If you’re an ultra marathon runner, the standard 26.2-mile marathon must be a breeze, right? Well, it depends

I have run the London marathon twice before, and I have also stood on the Embankment cheering runners along those last few miles before the finish. For most people taking part, this is a place – the last few miles of a marathon – they have rarely, if ever, visited. It’s etched across their faces in grimaces or manic grins. Each step is a small mountain, the crowds are a blur … everything is a blur.

Related: Scott Jurek: ‘Being uncomfortable brings us back to our roots’

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It’s good to hear cycling to work reduces your risk of dying. But that’s not why I do it | Laura Laker

May 2nd, 2017 by

The latest study on the health benefits of cycling suggests it can cut the risk of cancer and heart disease. It’s also the most fun you can have on your daily commute

It may not be a surprise to see another study suggesting that cycling to work can drastically reduce your chances of getting cancer and heart disease – those who ride bikes for transport already know how good it makes them feel. However, it’s perhaps yet another motivation for those who don’t, to dust off their bikes – and remember some other reasons cycling to work is so great.

In a five-year study of 263,450 UK commuters, published in the BMJ, researchers at Glasgow University found regular cycling cut the risk of death from any cause by 41%, and the incidence of cancer and heart disease by 45% and 46% respectively.

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London Marathon 2017: what’s your reason to run?

May 2nd, 2017 by

Whether you are lining up for your first marathon, or 100th, and whether it’s for a charity close to your heart, or to smash that PB, we want to hear from you

This year, London Marathon’s organisers have been asking runners for their #ReasonToRun. Well, we want to hear them too. Whether you are running for a charity close to your heart, or were lucky enough to scoop a ballot place and are gunning for a PB, we want to hear your stories.

Perhaps you are one of the 86 runners going for a world record this year, with the Guinness World Record team on standby to approve your efforts. Perhaps you placed a bet with a friend that you could do it, and are starting to get really, really nervous … Whatever your tale, share it via GuardianWitness and we will publish some of the best.

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Royal Institution’s new director Sarah Harper: we must show gold standard for science

May 2nd, 2017 by

Second woman to be appointed in RI’s 218-year history identifies role, in era of fake news, to supply trusted data across many issues from health to climate change and robotics

When Michael Faraday ran the Royal Institution, one of the oldest scientific organisations in the world, the 19th-century chemist took time to pile into public discourse. He ranted about dangerous pollution in the Thames. He debunked the fad of table-turning and blamed the educational system for allowing such nonsense to thrive.

Nearly 200 years later, scientists are still tackling bad thinking and big problems. For Sarah Harper, an Oxford gerontologist who takes the helm proper at the RI on Tuesday, the rise of denialism, fake news and alternative facts, combined with rapid advances in research that raise deep questions for society, mean that a grasp of science, and all its uncertainties, has never seemed more vital.

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Therapy ‘has long-term benefits for mothers with depression’

May 2nd, 2017 by

CBT has positive effects on mental health, financial empowerment and parenting skills, long-term study shows

Cognitive behavioural therapy has significant positive effects on a mother’s mental health, income, employment and parenting skills even seven years after the birth of the child, according to the first study of its kind.

The international research project into the impact of depression on pregnant mothers and their babies, led by Professor Sonia Bhalotra from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex, could have major implications for public policy.

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UTI test used by GPs gives wrong results in at least a fifth of cases, study claims

May 2nd, 2017 by

A large proportion of patients seeking help for urinary tract infections are being misdiagnosed – and even told their problem is psychological, say researchers

A test that is routinely used by doctors to diagnose urinary tract infections wrongly gives a negative result in a fifth of cases, scientists have found.

The findings imply that a large proportion of women who seek medical help for UTIs such as cystitis are being misdiagnosed, with some being told their problem is psychological. Many women with severe symptoms are also likely to have been refused antibiotics.

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Q&A: saturated fat, your health and what the experts say

May 2nd, 2017 by

The key points in a debate between cardiology experts over the link between fat, cholesterol and coronary disease

What’s the fuss about?

A furore has blown up over whether eating saturated fat increases the risk of coronary heart disease after three cardiologists said that “the conceptual model of dietary saturated fat clogging a pipe is just plain wrong”. They also dismissed the drive for foods with lower cholesterol and the use of medications as “misguided”.

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