Monday, 28 October 2013

Laughing in the face of the tyrant.

I'm taking a week off work to catch up with myself. A week off means three days because the other things I do are not "work" as I don't get paid for them. Still it's taken the pressure off and I can feel it already. Reading for university has been excruciating as I'm doing a course, the first part of which is justifying the use of qualitative research. The arguments run very deep and argue that scientific positivism is just a stance, albeit the dominant one at the moment and not the only way and not the best way of looking into issues of a human nature. Aristotle introduced the idea of phronesis, an intellectual virtue which is gained from experience and practice and learning from the experience and practice of others. Practice is always localised and takes place in a specific context. Along came the natural sciences and their emphasis on universality and notions of phronesis were forgotten about. So much so that we don't have a word for it in our language.
Bent Flyvbjerg came along and  wrote a book - "Making Social Science Matter" - about all this. The University of Edinburgh liked it, and their students who are doing the "Between Counselling and Research 1" course were fated to have to read it. You can tell how difficult it is just by the sheer number of consonants in his name.
So it has taken me "on a journey". I knew that the outcome of most research papers that I have read - particularly for nursing - don't speak to me, don't answer a question I had asked, and give results that make you think "hmmmm, there's more than one way of explaining that", whereas an honest and first hand account of someone's actual experience of something was generally interesting and felt more useful. I have discovered that this is autoethnography. It might be what I've been doing here all along. (But I doubt it). It may be just an excuse to rattle on about yourself, but if so, so be it. And suddenly our reading for university has taken a turn from being about the current debates about the validity of different types of research and has taken me into the realm of autoethnography. Ya beauty. People rattling on about themselves and what they do. I have always loved it. I can't really be bothered with fiction but I love personal accounts of things.

So anyway. I got up early this morning to do some reading and then get out for one of my low heart rate recovery runs. The reading turned out to be easy and enjoyable- quite a change from tortuous sessions trying to wade through heady philosophical debates. I had read the first paper in no time. Then I went out for my run. I'm almost reluctant to say how good these runs are, I want to keep it to myself, but I needn't worry because I won't have many converts. The point is to go slow enough to keep my heart rate low. I think I should really be keeping it under 130 but this is just too much of a stretch so what I do is try to keep it nearer 130 than 140. Because I'm going to be running slowly I can dress up as warmly as I like. Going out and running and constantly telling myself to slow down is just so the opposite of what I normally do that it's a real pleasure. Running around feeling you could give it a whole lot more effort feels great. And also, I really did think Leith was a horrible place until I started doing this, but it gives you plenty of time to look around. I would still advise avoiding school children at all costs, but other than that, there's a lot of nice stuff in Leith.

The allotments at Leith Links are always good. All those little individual gardens adjusting to the seasons. Each one with a personality of its own.
Running up the Water of Leith there are usually a good assortment of birds. Today there were coots looking like spats and some marble grey looking birds with brown suede heads that caught my eye.
It being autumn, there were all the crunchy leaves lining the paths.
Coming back onto Leith Walk there were the smells, particularly cigarette smoke, fresh coffee and salami.

The only really difficult side of this kind of running is the thought "What if someone I know sees me running this slowly?" There's no easy answer to that...except earlier this year I was running at that speed and had no choice about it, which has put it in perspective. The tyrant in me who judges everyone who runs wearing furry ear muffs is the same tyrant who constantly berates me to run faster. He gets particularly loud when I think I might be spotted running like that. When I'm doing my slow running, I hear him and I have a laugh at him and ignore him and get back to the business of taking in the sights and sounds and smells of what surrounds me.

But I better go. I really do have stuff to do.


idleage said...

liking the Aristotle renaissance - the longer I live, the more on the ball I think the old Greeks were. How about trying fastish walking instead of (or as well as) slow running? scenery drifts past effortlessly, time to notice all kinds of trivia.

Yak Hunter said...

I'm not ready for walking yet...

Billy said...

Like the Rio sign. Hadn't thought of the link with Leith before but I suppose they do have the Favela connection.
I'm a great fan of slow running too. Wish I'd known about it when I was younger. It's very Japanese-ey - they do lots of it and are without doubt the best-prepared marathoners on the planet. And would people who see you out running really know the difference between 6 and 10 minute mile pace if it hit them in the face?

Yak Hunter said...

Cheers Billy, I'm sure your slow running looks a bit better than mine. Still, it's only foolish pride at stake. I should get a set of furry ear muffs and be done!