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My workout: ‘Netball gives me a massive buzz’

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

Rachel Bestford, 43, on the fast-paced, high-impact sport

I played netball all through my school years and loved it. When I left school though, there were no clubs I could join. So I got on with adult life, got a job and soon lost my fitness. I never thought I’d play sport again. Then six months ago I came across the Back To Netball scheme, for women like me who haven’t played in a while, and gave it a shot. It wasn’t long before it all came flooding back.

Netball is a seven-a-side team sport; the aim is to pass the ball up the court and put it in the net. You can’t run with the ball – as soon as you’ve grabbed it you have to stop – and each player can only move within certain boundaries, depending on their position. But despite these rules, it’s not at all restrictive; the game has a lovely flow.

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Can you prevent rows about household tasks?

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

Even among couples who share housework and parenting, subtler inequities persist

In her new book Drop The Ball, a manifesto for women juggling jobs and an unequal share of the burden at home, Tiffany Dufu describes a phenomenon I’d never previously seen given a name: “imaginary delegation”. This is the all-too-familiar relationship pattern whereby you see (or just think of) some household task that needs doing, mentally assign it to your partner, fail to inform them you’ve done so, then feel sincere outrage when they disregard the instructions you never gave them.

The problem here is that both sides have an excellent case for feeling aggrieved. The person on the (non-)receiving end naturally protests that he can’t be expected to read minds. But the other person is also justified in saying she shouldn’t need to spell it out: for a cohabiting couple, teamwork demands that both partners keep an eye out for what needs doing, without being told by the other. So the stage is set for the worst variety of domestic row: the kind where both parties are right.

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More middle-aged men taking steroids to look younger

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

Experts warn about growing number of men in their 40s and 50s taking drugs to fight signs of ageing and boost sex drive

Growing numbers of middle-aged men are turning to anabolic steroids to make themselves look and feel more youthful and boost their sexual performance, experts say.

Related: Spiralling anabolic steroid use leaves UK facing health timebomb, experts warn

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Experience: a car crashed into me in the bath

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

I was in the bath when I heard a car outside. Its exhaust was screaming. I knew something was going to happen

It was June 2014, three months after my 17-year-old daughter Maisie and I moved into a small terrace house. I had split from my husband and was working as a painter and decorator. It had been chucking it down all day, and I felt a bit unwell, so after a takeaway with Maisie, I decided to have my first bath in our new home. Maisie perched in the (ground-floor) bathroom with me and we talked about anything and nothing for a while. Not 10 seconds after she’d left the room, I heard the loud noise of a car outside. Its exhaust was screaming, as if the pedal was flat to the floor. I knew something was going to happen, but not to me.

Then it hit. Suddenly I was lifted 4ft in the air, flung through the bathroom wall into the back yard and left lying, naked and soaking wet, on the concrete. There was a deathly silence. My mouth and nostrils were full of dust and rubble.

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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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