5 for Friday

It has been a while since I posted some links to articles or things I’ve stumbled across that have gotten me thinking.  Here’s a few that I came across in the last weeks that have given me pause for thought.

1.  Victoria Arlen loses paraswimming classification

As I have written about before, classification in parasport is complicated to say the least, and fraught with difficulties.  I have been embroiled in discussions about the paratriathlon classification project, both public and via private messages off forums.  Given my own experiences and disappointments, I am now in a place where I believe that in order to affect change, we need to increase demand for parasport.  Although I still register for events as a physically challenged athlete, in my heart I am now all about promoting activity to those who face similar physical challenges to me.

But that said… I do pay attention to classification and how it is developing in sports.  Although I may not be striving for things like the Paralympics, the prospect of elite level sport NO MATTER YOUR ABILITY is an important motivator, and a sign (in my mind anyway) of a truly inclusive society.

Which is why Victoria Arlen losing her classification interested me.  A gold medal paraswimmer at the 2012 Paralympic games, Arlen was declassified just before competition last year but reinstated due to appeals, with the promise that her medical records would be reviewed by an expert panel.  That review just finished, just before the IPC swimming world championships she lost her classificaiton – and ability to compete and defend her title.  What puzzles me is the reporting – apparently the experts decided to bar her from competing because her disability “was not permanent”??

There is a lot of misreporting out there.  So I am not sure of the truth, and probably the only people who know the truth of the case are the expert panel themselves (which based on my experiences, the experts don’t like sharing the rationale or methodology they use).  But if a person is deemed “not disabled” in the world of parasport due to the fact that someday they may recover?  The plot seems to have been well and truly lost.

To quote Victoria:

“What message are we giving the world when we don’t encourage hope for disabled individuals?”

2. Radical Ideas for Improving Employee Productivity

Perhaps not so radical, but I love the way the underlying principle that “you are the expert of your job” is translated into working practice.  Flexible hours, working outside of the office, an assumption of professionalism which does not require “checking in”.  I work for a French company, and although the French have a stereotype for not working (NOT TRUE!) the working patterns they have are as old school as they come.  The fact that companies are out there, companies that embrace “professionalism” and take it to this extreme, allowing individuals to make their own work pattern choices—this excites me.

“Being productive does not translate into being busy.”

So SO true.

3.  Sagging trousers make you dumb?

Thanks to my running coach and the compilation running resource site Form Before Footwear he helped to put together, I have discovered all sorts of new blogs, including the link above to the Gait Guys.  The Gait Guys can get really technical and into the details about why and how people run the way that they do.  But the information is just so interesting, especially if you have a science-y geeky side like I do.

The long and the short of this link is that stride length is a leading indicator of development of dementia.  They use the sagging jeans trend to draw attention to new research (links within their post) to the wider implications – beyond fashion – of a reduced stride length.

As someone with CMT I am not blessed with a long stride length to begin with, but I know that being active has improved my stability and ABILITY to keep striding, to develop better gait patterns.  We all know that exercise is good for us.  But who knew that physical things – like how long your stride is, and the way that stride can shorten over time – are such a strong leading indicator of MENTAL decline?!  The correlation between physical and mental health never ceases to amaze me.  The body is incredible for sure!

4. The #endurancefoodies book club

An online bookclub gone Google?  For endurance athletes?

Yes, you read that right.  Jason of CookTrainEatRace and I were tweeting and I think the comment was made about reading a book and doing a Google hangout to discuss it.  And thus it was, the #endurancefoodies book club was born.

Right now we are reading VB6 by Mark Bittman.  The concept – go vegan before 6pm, then after anything is game.  Oh, there’s a bit more than that, but you get the idea.  So far I’m finding it an interesting read – personally, I can see taking on board SOME of the ideas.  But not all.  For sure it is a great way to get more emphasis on putting plants centre stage in my eating, which is one of my aims. (Although anyone who knows me knows that I love my meat, especially BBQ… but I digress…)

Anyway, the hangout is coming up soon.  If you want to join in the discussion, click onto the post and shoot Jason a message.

5. Chris Froome Looking at Stems

Because not everything needs to be serious, right?  I love this!

Besides lots of cycling images – and oh some drool worthy bikes! – this is hilarious.  “Looking at stem while being cuddled”—seriously… The guys at Sufferfest have pulled off a beauty with this Tumblr.  Thanks to Tamsin for the heads up about this hugely fun time-waster!

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