Friday 31 August 2012

The History of the Paralympics

Once in while you find a real gem on the TV, that you weren't expecting and watching ‘the best of men’ on BBC2 last month was definitely one of those. This was a real inspirational programme for me and is a drama that follows the development of the precursor to the paralympics - the Stoke Mandeville Games. After watching the drama I wanted to tell you about the main character Sir Ludwig Guttman.

Dr Guttman arrives in England from Germany in 1939 after life in Nazi Germany becomes intolerable. In 1943 Dr Guttman is asked by the British Government to found the national spinal injuries centre in Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire. As director of the centre he believed that sport could be used as a vehicle  for spinal injuries  patients to improve there health, aid recovery and gain self respect. This was contrary to the treatment of spinal injury patients at the time which involved keeping them as inactive as possible.

The first Stoke Mandeville games were founded by Dr Guttman in 1948 on the exact same day the Olympics Games in London began. By 1952 the games had grown massively with competitors attending from around the world. This impressed Olympic officials and lead to the International Stoke Mandeville Games being held alongside the 1960 Olympics in Rome. These are now recognised by the International Olympic Committee as the first ever paralympic games. In 1966 Ludwig Guttman was knighted and received many honours around the world. He died at the age of 80 in 1980.

One thing struck me was that Guttman was a man who was prepared to do things differently - to try things out that had never been done before. This takes a lot of self belief and courage and is something that we can all apply to our running lives - whether it is entering a first marathon, changing running technique or loosing a few pounds!

To me as a keen runner we often tend to look towards the feat of other runners for inspiration, to push us through those twenty miles training runs. However don’t forget the feats of other none running people such as Sir Ludwig Guttman.

What about you who are your inspirations to complete that hard run?

Friday 24 August 2012

The Basics of Natural Running

I am a big fan of the natural running scene having made some major changes to my running technique and running in minimalist running shoes since January 2012. This is something I will be discussing more over the coming month. Anyway if you want to make some changes to the way you run to help reduce injury risk take a look at the film below. It features Daniel Lieberman from Harvard University who is a guru on natural running. It is a great introduction to the topic.