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6.1. The route from Ashwell and Morden’s station (actually in Odsey) is now familiar. It’s cloudy, at the early cusp to rain. The movement feels easier than last week: looser, more relaxed. I watch the watch less. Research says that if you smile or laugh then you’ll feel better. What is cause and effect in our minds? I laugh at myself running and it comes out as a cough.

To go for a run is a choice, like it is to do any job. You don’t know how it will turn out. You might regret it part way through because you find yourself more tired than you thought you’d be. But it’d be strange to blame yourself for making the choice to go. It’s more complicated when other people are involved. Chester v Afshar [2004] UKHL 41 was a medical negligence case centred on the question of causation. A neurosurgeon operated on a patient and operated well. But the patient suffered a complication that she wasn’t warned could happen. The patient (now claimant) confirmed that if she had been warned of the risk of the complication (which was very low) she would have gone ahead with the operation anyway. With the warning, the operation would have taken place in different circumstances. On a different day perhaps, or she might have had a different sort of breakfast, it may have been warmer or cooler on the day. And in those different circumstances, the complication might not have come about.

The judgment went against the surgeon. But how can he be said to have caused the injury? The decision was less about causation than it was about principle and freedom of choice. By not informing his patient of the risk, the patient’s decision to be operated on was not as informed and free as it should have been.

Recognizing an individual right of autonomy makes self-creation possible. It allows each of us to be responsible for shaping our lives according to our own coherent or incoherent – but, in any case, distinctive – personality. It allows us to lead our lives rather than be led along them, so that each of us can be, to the extent a scheme of rights can make this possible, what we have made of ourselves. We allow someone to choose death over radical amputation or a blood transfusion, if that is his informed wish, because we acknowledge his right to a life structured by his own values.”

Ronald Dworkin (Life’s Dominion: An Argument about Abortion and Euthanasia, 1993) quoted by Lord Steyn in his judgment.

What I most expect usually does not happen, but something close to it often does. I expect muscle pain and get aching toes.

  • 11.01 km, Pace 5:04 /km

6.2. There’s a natural pace that I keep coming back to, just about five minutes per km. I can go faster at the start, but then I’ll be slower later. The pace is a signature for this week. Though the run is different to GCR 6.1, the difference in pace in the end is one second per kilometer. So all the variation is around a fixed level.

Thoughts knock about and for a moment I feel trapped while running. An audiobook might help. Murakami listens to pop music. But that’s just distraction. Well, what’s wrong with distraction? For now it feels disciplined to run unaided.

It’s not really possible break things down to the level of steps. It is possible to find reference points and come up with commitments for the way there: eyes off the watch, focus on the breath… Mindfulness recipes like “body scans” recycled for running. Then you get to your gate, tree or pole and it starts again.

Does familiarity with the route make it easier or harder? There’s much more distraction on a new route.

It’s about getting used to the feeling of running, detaching from the usual stimuli, the technology. Focus on what you see, or what you saw. A dead badger: how did it die? A sparrowhawk circles above. The haystacks, the smells, the different surfaces. It’s about tuning in to all of that and structuring a run with new values.

  • 10.94 km, Pace 5:06 /km

This entry was posted in: GCR

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