In the pre-feminist days of the caveman there must have been many, many occasions where such a man had to fight off a rival caveman who wanted to dash his brains in with a rock, murder his children, and take his woman for himself.
A caveman death-match could have happened anywhere at any time. It could have happened on the edge of a volcano that was about to erupt or on the edge of an iceberg in a blizzard or, indeed, along by a freezing and stormy sea which is the location of my six hour endurance challenge today in Belfast. The temperature is around 0 with a real feel of -5.
So, anyway, the route we are all doing is just over two miles out and back along a coastal path and I find myself gradually warming up as I plod along at a nice, easy pace. After about 5 miles I’m feeling a bit warmer and start to think everything will go smoothly.
I’m running today with my cousin who has never run a marathon before and has the sole aim of doing the distance of one in the 6 hours. I plod on ahead of him in the first lap and decide I shall catch up to him in a bit.
The sea is grey, angry and wild, and is mercilessly attacking the shoreline as if it was its most hated enemy. The onslaught is savage and rages on and on.
Towards the end of the first lap the wind is so strong against me that I think that if somebody were to attach a string to me, and I were to stop pushing forward against it, I would surely take off into the air like a kite.
At this point I spot a cormorant on the pavement in front of me and he has his wings spread while being blown along the path. I try to take a picture of it with my phone but my hands are so cold that the touch screen thinks I’m dead.
One lap turns into two and two to three and then BAM, I am hit by a massive wave and feel as if my whole body has been frozen to the core. A high five from a runner going in the other direction makes me feel as if my arm could have shattered into a million icy fragments if he had slapped my hand any harder.
My legs go numb, my arms go numb, my face goes numb. Hell, every part of my body goes numb, but sometimes the only way to get out of hell is to keep pushing through it.
To make things worse sea salt has caked my inner thighs and I can start to feel an increasingly stingy soreness all over my man bits. This just does not feel very sexy, this is part of the experience that won’t be going in the blog, I think to myself. I decided to put it in anyway, since I’m feeling daring, and a wicked part of me is even tempted to post photos but I lack the courage since even my own family were too queasy to have a look at my suffering. Isn’t it awful how fear of other people’s opinions holds us back?
Halfway through my fourth lap my cousin waves me to a stop. His whole body is a deep pink and his eyes look like they are badly bloodshot. “I’m too cold, can I have the keys to the car? I can’t keep going,” he says. He also got hit by a wave. I give him the keys and say I’ll see him in a bit.
I plod on and on and eventually decide I shall stop after six laps, which I believed to be a marathon as it said so in an email we received from the organisers.
Coming to the end of the sixth lap, at a time of 4hours 7minutes, I still have plenty of fuel left in the tank and I know I could easily maintain my pace for another two laps and be finished under 6 hours, but rather than giving my all to the moment I start thinking of my cousin in the car, of the fact that I’d like to have the wherewithal to go for a nice meal in the evening and also have enough juice left over so that I’m not a danger to myself or others on the five hour drive back to Galway.
I think again of the death-match scenario that I mentioned at the start of this post. Fuck it, I think, if that lad trying do dash my brains in with a rock is so keen to have my cavewoman wife then he can have her without any further objection from me. Some things just aren’t worth dying for.
Photos by Elma McEvoy.
“So long, suckas!” a chirpy young child ejected as he was being pushed on the swing by his mother.
“Oh, don’t say that,” said mother, “just say ‘so long’ or ‘so long, amigos’.”
Political correctness is a very serious consideration in modern life, so serious that modern mum must teach her children what he/she can or cannot say from an early age. His/her career might depend upon it.
On hearing this exchange between mother and child, I couldn’t help but be offended.
“Amigo” is a Spanish word and this woman telling her child that “So long, suckas” was unacceptable while “So long, amigos” is acceptable makes me fear for the future of the English language since if you start to mix the two then English might devolve into some kind of strange gibberish that might aptly be called Spanglish.
I wasn’t really offended, but a language purist may have been. However, I’m inclined to wonder what will happen if we keep lowering the bar as to what is deemed to be an acceptable thing to say.
Perhaps we should all have our kids’ tongues removed now. It might be prudent to do so.
I think our new age of Political Correctness is making for an entertainment media which is so caught up in trying not to offend people that it is becoming increasingly boring, humourless, phoney and less and less worth listening to, and it’s hardly surprising. If one dares to express an opinion that a percentage of people might be offended by then there is a very good chance of being fired for it.
Political Correctness, thus, and the keyboard warriors who police it by always seeming to be getting offended by something nowadays, seems to me to be a form of censorship, the rules of which are not written down anywhere and seem to be quite random and I can’t help but think of societal structures like Communism and Fascism which were synonymous with censorship.
In Communist Poland, for example, everything western was considered evil so-much-so that if your neighbour found out you had a radio, and were using it to listen to The Beatles, he could report you to the authorities and you might well have been taken from your family in the middle of the night and never seen by anybody ever again.
The difference between Politically Correct censorship and Communist censorship, however, is that certain people who were not fond of of the latter could blame their distaste on a tangible and recognisable ideology (I.E: Communism) whereas Politically Correct censorship can come from anywhere at any time and can often seem somewhat random. This is because everybody with a social media account now has a voice and can potentially rally a percentage of the multitudes and enact a career-ending outcry targeted at anybody who dares to express an opinion that a certain percentage of people do not like the sound of.
Thus, it is clear, that if you are in the media then it is safer not to express any opinions of any sort because you might offend somebody and that could end your career.
I was with my 8 year old son when I heard modern mum teaching her son not to say “So long, suckas”, and it led to my explaining to him about the term Political Correctness. My son is bi-lingual and can speak Polish and English fluently and so I asked him if using two different languages in the same sentence made sense to him. “That makes no sense,” he said. The mouths of babes……
No, it’s a terrible picture! I look terrible and no it’s not one for the frame! You are all liars!
I find myself liking people who post belligerent and controversial bile that I don’t even agree with more than people who incessantly say all the right things in such a syrupy sweet way that I may be (more…)
I had aspirations of running a marathon since my mid twenties but every single time I got into the rhythm of training my knees, back, or hamstrings, or something else got screwed up and my running came to an abrupt end. (more…)
Recently, I’ve been indulging my narcissistic tendencies and conducting an experiment to see if the world thinks I am as fascinating and interesting as I like to think I am.
Well, the results are in! I’m not!
I’ve compiled this little list so that YOU too can effortlessly annihilate your following and make yourself invisible in cyberspace.
1. Get drunk and spray your self-pitying bile on your page. I did this. I announced I wasn’t going to take any more marathon pics. Big mistake. I lost about 30 likes in a heartbeat.
2. Make it all about YOU. People, like me and you, are mostly preoccupied with ourselves and we all hope that the world will come to see us as the amazing people that only our mothers believed we could be. Big mistake! All these silly posts I’ve made recently have cost me a good few followers.
3. Post pictures of photos that will offend people. Okay, this is a tricky one. Posting photos of my flabby body or blistered feet didn’t seem to offend anybody (apart from me), but for some reason posting a photo of a beautiful topless blonde cost me around twenty page likes. You will just have to trial and error this one, cos people are weird.
4. Post a load of crap, that’s not crap to you, but which most people deem weird or uninteresting. I’ve been doing this with my posts on barefoot running and sleeping on the floor. While there are a small percentage of people that find such training practices laudable and beneficial, most just think they are a load of nonsense and would rather have their feet amputated than dare to be seen in public with no shoes.
Anyway, thanks for reading this far. I’m delighted that the occasional person is still able to read and finds my shite talk remotely as interesting as I do.
I love YOU for loving ME, cos let’s be honest – we both know I’m AWESOME!
I started doing this a couple of years back on account of suffering a neck injury as well as increased back pain in direct parallel to the increased amount of time I spent hunched in front of my computer like Quasi Modo.
Okay, I don’t sleep directly on the floor – I use a 1cm thick camping mat, but it’s pretty close, right? 🙂
At this point, sleeping in a bed feels very unnatural to me and anytime I do I actually sleep longer and feel a lot more groggy than if I’d slept on the floor.
I’ve done a little research online (as you do) and have compiled the following list based on what I’ve experienced as well as what I’ve discovered. The main discovery is that I feel much more alive on a day-to-day basis.
Initially, I found it rather uncomfortable to sleep on the floor and woke up a lot at night to move about. In spite of this I felt rather fresh in the morning, which I thought odd since I slept less. Gradually though, I accepted that moving about was a part of my nights sleep and since I felt better in the morning in spite of it I’ve come to the conclusion that moving around is a good thing. Why? Because I believe it encourages blood circulation to distribute evenly through your body. Think about it – if you lie on your right side all night, gravity is naturally going to ensure that blood sinks to the right side of your body, thereby meaning that your left side gets less blood.
Additionally, when you lie in various positions, your muscles get pressure applied to them – which doesn’t happen to the same extent in a bed. For instance, when lying on your back you can feel, quite distinctly, your butt cheeks flattening under the weight of your hips. So your muscles get pressure applied to them this way, and hey – correct me if I’m wrong – but isn’t part of that 100 bucks massage you get based on the idea that applying pressure to muscles increases circulation thereby aiding injury prevention? This being the case – by floor sleeping in the various positions you adopt at night – you’re effectively getting up to ten hours of massage (for free) while you’re dreaming some surreal fantasy about knights in shining armour or damsels in distress that are delighted to have met a shining-armour-clad man like you!! And my-oh-my, don’t you look good in that armour, eh? You do! You wear it well. Honest. 🙂
2. Bone density
Bone density is improved through weight bearing exercise. This is a widely accepted fact. In many ways, sleeping on the floor is a weight bearing exercise. Your skeleton is what supports you against the hard floor and this does not happen so much in a bed. Beds absorb the pressure that sleeping on the floor would transmit into your body thereby putting more stretch into your muscles and discouraging your bones from building and maintaining the strength that’s facilitated with the resistance of sleeping on a hard floor.
We’re always being bombarded with adverts and write ups in health + fitness magazines about bone density, reasons to join a gym and lift weights with the frequent citation that it helps maintain and strengthen our bones. But how much bone building and weight bearing will you really do in an hourly 3 times per week gym visit ? And would it be anywhere near as efficient as what you can quite literally achieve in your sleep over the course of your 6-10 hours in bed? Building bone while you sleep surely has to be the preferred option in a hectic, time starved lifestyle? Surely? If you don’t use it, you lose it, right?
It’s natural to assume a foetal position when lying in a nice comfy bed. But think about what happens when you do that! Essentially, in the foetal position, you’re closing up your rib cage. As your head moves forward towards your knees and you pull your knees up, your ribcage becomes more contracted and therefore your lungs are constricted which means it’s harder to breath well while you’re asleep.
I challenge you to try it now!! Lie flat on your back (with no pillows) on the floor and just breath. Notice anything? If you’re anything like me (as in human), you’ll notice that it’s a lot easier to breath. Now try lying in bed in the foetal position – it’s harder to breath, right?
4. Improved posture
I believe many people suffer needless pain and injury because of bad posture. During the first week that I slept on the floor I found it a bit of a stretch on my neck when I lay flat on my back. I don’t feel that stretch anymore because I’ve got used to it. I believe that initial stretch was due to bad postural habits that were created by my seated-in-front of the computer lifestyle which is commonplace and unavoidable and downright unnatural. So, I figure if one’s head is misaligned when you walk then one’s entire body is out of balance and joints have to support pressure in ways they were never supposed to, leading to injury. Aside from that, the Quasi Modo posture surely has to lead to the less efficient breathing as mentioned in the previous point.
But it’s not just with the neck. At first, my back felt peculiar. Think about it – it’s nice (and somehow easier) to slouch into a chair and so most of us do it. This rounds and stretches the back in ways which eventually lead to back injury. Sleeping in a spongy bed adds to this as it takes load off bones and if you take it off the bones then where does it go? I believe a lot of it actually gets diverted into the muscles which stretches and strains them in and unhealthy manner. The bed absorbs it, I hear you utter in dismay, but think about that for a moment. Better – think about it while you’re lying in bed and pay careful attention to the positional dynamic of your musculature. I think you’ll realise that my assertions are correct. Lying flat on one’s back on the floor stretches out the constriction acquired from bad postural habits used during the day. Now that I’m used to sleeping on the floor I find, when sitting, it’s feels much more of a natural inclination to sit up straight which I attribute to the corrective and strengthening nature of floor sleeping.
Interestingly, since sleeping on the floor, I find myself naturally inclined to adopt a head up, shoulders back, chest forward posture when I’m walking and running. I think, aside from opening your lungs more, feeling better and most probably looking better, that one also emanates more confidence. Not intentionally, you understand, but just because of the fact that you FEEL more confident and it’s only natural that if you feel it that you take on the appearance of it.
Did you know that approximately 15% of your pillow weight is made up of dead skin cells, dust mites and all sorts of bacteria. It’s gross to think about. Dust mites apparently can be rather problematic to people with asthma. But hey, who says you have to have asthma to be affected?
Without a bed you don’t really have to worry about having space for one. I use a 1cm thick camping pad and just roll it up and pop it in the cupboard when I get up, which is loads easier than having a big stupid bed that one has to make every morning.
Using no pillows when you lie on your side means you end up using your arms in their place. It leads to your curling your arm up by your head and ultimately giving those shoulders a little bit of a stretch. When I lie on my front, I’m inclined to lie with my arms by my side, palms pressed against the floor. Having suffered shoulder pain for several years I figured it was always going to be something that plagued me. However, miraculously maybe, my shoulder feels a lot better since I’ve been sleeping on the floor. I believe part of my shoulder problem was related to posture and that sleeping on my stomach in the position mentioned above has helped re-align my shoulder and thereby aided the healing process. I feel a bit annoyed that I wasted money on useless physio when this problem was so easily and cheaply fixable.
8. Injury prevention
By strengthening bones and encouraging better posture, I believe you’ve gone a long way towards preventing a whole host of life-related injuries. Stronger and better aligned bones has to go a long way towards this, right?
9. Save money
You don’t need to spend so much money on beds. Also, there’s a good chance you may avoid expensive physiotherapy, doctor’s visits and toxic medication that just masks symptoms and does nothing to cure them.
10. Better brain function
Who are some of the global leaders in technological innovation? That’s right – it’s the Japanese! And guess what – traditional Japanese beds are much harder than what us westerners are accustomed to. Causation does not equal correlation I hear you say. That’s true, but can you close your mind to the possibility that it does on this occasion? Can you? Maybe you can! And you’re entitled to do so. 🙂
11. Increased athletic performance
Better posture, more oxygen, less injuries, and a greater sense of well being is obviously going to lead to better athletic performance, right? It’s a no brainer I’d say. Agree?
12. You will never again need to worry about falling out of your bed
Actually, this could be an old Chinese proverb. It could be. I’m not sure, and if it’s not it should be but I’m claiming copyright if it’s not!!! Here goes:
He who sleeps on floor no need worry fall out of bed!! (Me, 2015 or some wise China man I’ve never heard of! If you are that wise China man – get your people to call my people and let’s do lunch!!!).