Sunday, 30 January 2011

The long run

I've just put my run this morning into Gmaps Pedometer. I wanted to check the accuracy of the Garmin. Today I waited a few minutes to allow the Garmin to find the signal so it should have been pretty accurate.

The results. Garmin had me doing 25.31km. Gmap Pedometer had me at 25.576km. So pretty close. Here is the Gmap link:

I'll post the Garmin map here when I've synched the watch.

By the way, I use a garmin 301. In the main it has been great (and you can buy them very cheap now from ebay). The big advantage is the long battery life - about 13 hours of running (or other exercise). The virtual partner is very useful and pushes me to run faster when I use it - not often i have to say. I've thought about getting one of the newer ones. Partly bacause the technology is a bit old now and I'm sure the newer ones would give me more accurate distances and find the satellites quicker.

The main issue for me though is that the battery life on the newest one I like is only 5 hours. And because I'm so slow, it means it would probably run out before I've finished a marathon.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Km per week

And here is how many km I've been running per week over the past 6 weeks.

KM per week

28/11/2010: 7.36km
5/12/2010: 19.09km
12/12/2010: 4.1km
19/12/2010: 22.63km
2/1/2011: 44.86km
9/1/2011: 45.26km
16/01/2011: 54.49km

Yet another chart

This is my average speed graph(km/h) over the last month. I am actually a little bit quicker than this but (see below) the Garmin sometimes doesnt pick up a signal for a while.

Nice to see that I've been getting quicker. Hope I keep it up.

Tomorrow Morning

I'll be up before 6am tomorrow morning for a 3 hour 30 minute run. Go on, sponsor me! (for Openage)

Or (for Helpage International)

Minutes per day

Another running stat. This year I've run on average 44 minutes every day.

A running chart - How many minutes a week?

I've started putting some of my old garmin runs into a spreadsheet. I want to make some nice graphs. I'd quite like to see how my running has changed over the past four years.

So here is the first one. I should add the caveat that i've been using a mix of the iphone and the Garmin watch and it sometimes takes a long time (sometimes up to 1km) to find a signal. In other words, I am probably slightly faster than it looks on the graphs to come over the next few weeks. Still very slow though!

Also, I havent ever kept a paper running diary so there will be lots of times when I have used running machines instead of running outside. This first table shows how many minutes I've run per week since just before Christmas. I know that I have been on a treadmill four or so times on top of this (around new year), so the minutes for the first week should probably be a bit higher.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Christmas is over

I am sad. It's the last piece of Christmas cake. Thanks to Delia (via waitrose) and Michelle. It was fantastic. Missing you already.

Wii (are slowly getting) Fit

This was never intended as a running blog. But over the past few weeks I've found myself becoming obsessed with getting out for an hour.

As you know, I'm now in proper training mode for the London Marathon in April. And I'm really pleased with progress. I've been running on average more than 5 times a week this year and in just three weeks have already started to see my speed and length of run creap up - very slowly mind. I managed over 30 miles last week and am expecting this week to be longer again.

But more surprisingly, Im actually enjoying it. I'm finding that I've become addicted and on my non-running day, I wish I was on the streets.

I've been lucky that the weather so far this year has been OK. Yes damp and miserable but its not been cold/snowy.

I need to improve my running posture and I still refuse to do any stretching. But at the moment its all going well.

Alongside the running I've been eating more healthy food and (quite drastically) cut down on alcohol. The Wii fit tells me I've lost over a stone in just over two weeks. Clearly I do need to lose more if I'm going to manage to get around 26 miles in April. Carrying 16 stone around London just wont work - I doubt my knees will cope.

So, whilst this isnt a running blog, I find myself writing about running. I'm not particularly worried if no-one reads anything I put here and I'm not actually sure any of it is interesting to anyone but me.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

When I was little.


An early morning run along the coast

Up at 5.30 is (pretty much waking everyone else up with my faffing) for my first 3 hour training session for the London Marathon.

All went well, if very slow. Running (jogging?) at a pace of just 6.9km per hour according to the Garmin watch, I managed over 20km.

Ran along the seafront from Pagham to Felpham via a circuit of Butlins. And actually quite enjoyed the early hours as it meant I got to see the moon go down and sun rise.

Saw a Fox and a couple of dogs with flashing lights on their collar (couldn't work out what they were from a distance). But fairly uneventful run really!

Very pleased that i managed to increase pace for last couple of miles. Found it relatively easy too.

I've posted a map of the run below.

And if you are inclined, you can sponsor me. (for Openage)

Or (for Helpage International)

Sun rises over Butlins

Location:Bognor Regis


The best running shoes I've ever had were made by Saucony. That is all.

Location:Bognor Regis

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Housing and the Older Consumer

Just before Christmas, Care and Repair England hosted a discussion on the importance of housing in the debate about care and support for an ageing population.

Without a doubt, the largest proportion of household wealth in the UK is held in property, with households headed by 55-64 year olds having the highest average net property wealth, with a median of £200,000. On average, older households hold slightly more wealth in property than those with a household head under the age of 55.

Our recent work for Age UK on the older consumer (1) highlighted that whilst our actual spend on housing declines with age, the proportion of income spent on housing and fuel among the over 50s increase with age. Those aged 75 and over spend 16 per cent on housing and fuel; up from 11 per cent among 65 to 74 year olds. Of course these trends aren’t universal. Those paying rent rather than owning a mortgage will have found that their rental costs have not decreased with age to the same extent as mortgage costs.

But while the cost of paying rent or mortgage is the most obvious housing-related expense, there are other expenses that older households often need to meet. Evidence from a European study suggests that a significant minority of adults who have retired feel it necessary to adapt their house or move home to accommodate their changing needs, so while 14 per cent of European retirees had adapted their home to help with reduced mobility, seven per cent had moved since they retired (The Gallup Organization, 2008). However, these numbers are considerably smaller than the numbers of younger respondents who anticipated taking such decisions upon retirement (60 per cent and 41 per cent respectively).

The survey results may indicate a lack of options for those retirees who anticipated making such changes, or a misperception of their likely needs in retirement. In the UK, the proportion of younger people anticipating the need to adapt their house was 79 per cent, lower only than that of Sweden and Finland, while 66 per cent of non-retired UK respondents felt that they would consider moving after retirement – only the Swedes were more likely to believe they would consider this option (69 per cent). Yet only 18 per cent had adapted their home, and just nine per cent of UK retirees had actually moved; higher than the European average, but considerably less than might be expected given the views of younger respondents.

Data from ELSA give us far more detail about the adaptations present in older people’s homes. The majority of homes have not been adapted, but of those that have, handrails and bathroom modifications are most common. The proportion of properties with various adaptations increases with the age of the respondent, suggesting that the demand for such facilities typically increases with age, as might be expected. In particular, it is noteworthy that the proportion of people with alerting devices, lifts, chairlifts, ramps and widened access approximately doubles over the age of 85, compared with the 80 to 84 year old age group.

Far too often the cost of housing is seen in terms of just the actual cost of the rent or mortgage. But what our research has helped to reveal is the unmet need of the older consumer. We say that we are likely to need our houses adapted but then don’t do it.

Organisations like Care and Repair England do a fantastic job, working to improve the housing and living conditions of older and disabled people. In the context of the debate about paying for care,we cannot risk ignoring the housing related costs facing older people with care needs.

The Government seems to be moving away from the idea of standards for accessible housing and communities. This could prove to have large and costly implications if the long-term impact is higher care costs.

There is also of course a role for the private sector in terms of meeting the needs of the older consumer. We seem to accept that we will need to make adaptations and then don’t actually do it. Private sector suppliers need to promote the universal benefits of accessible benefits of adaptations to all ages. And consumers themselves need to be inspired to actually plan for home adaptations before it is too late to benefit them.

David Sinclair, ILC-UK and David Hayes (PRFC, Bristol University)

(Also published on

(1) The Golden Economy - The Consumer Marketplace in an Ageing Society is available at:

Consumption Patterns among Older Consumers is available at:

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The Flu Crisis. Why we need an adult immunisation strategy.

We woke yesterday morning to hear that the Chair of the Royal College of GPs, Dr Clare Gerada, had told the Telegraph that private flu vaccinations had affected the “delicate balance” of availability and should be stopped by the Government (1).

She has subsequently denied she wanted the Government to ban healthy people - the so-called “worried well” from being able to access the vaccination in private pharmacies. And the Department of Health have said this is a non-starter anyway, pointing out that “Pharmacies are private businesses and we are not able to prevent them from selling the vaccine commercially”.

Whilst Dr Gerada is certainly right that we need to prioritise the most vulnerable, the spread of flu is prevented not just by vaccinating the most vulnerable, but also those who come into contact with them.

At a recent ILC-UK event we heard about the cost effectiveness and the efficacy of the flu jab for all. We also heard about the importance of immunising adults to protect vulnerable groups. We went as far as debating whether there was a case for compulsion and whether there was a role for employers to vaccinate their workforce.

But the dominance of the flu story across a couple of weeks of news cycles raises the question of: how did we get into this mess?

Ahead of Christmas, there was already talk of the low levels of take-up of the seasonal vaccine. And despite the recent rush and the current shortages of vaccine, it is still the case that the take-up of the seasonal flu vaccine among vulnerable groups is 10 per cent below the level at the same time last year. (2)

Part of the issue has probably been the Government’s decision to not run the advertising campaign in the same way as previous years. The Government decisions to heavily cut back on communications spend after the election was partly motivated by a need for quick spending cuts. Cutting communications across all Departments was seen as an easy target.

The decision may have been partly motivated as a result of public health communications spending attracting criticism and accusations of “nanny state” from the media and government. But, even if the Government was critical of the value of public health communications campaigns, they seem to have made a major mistake by also reducing communications on health protection campaigns.

Alongside the lack of a communications campaign, we have had a long period of media scepticism to (swine) flu, hanging over from the experience of last year. Over Christmas we had a very quiet news cycle which forced the flu story onto national news. It appears that the supply hasn’t been able to cope with the subsequent demand.

But even if these issues were not in place, what the current crisis has highlighted is that we do not have an adequate strategy for adult immunisation in the UK.

Looking at Government websites there is limited advice which suggests adults should take the vaccine. NHS Choices for example, recommends that vulnerable individuals should have the swine flu vaccination but says nothing about whether non-vulnerable adults should (2).

The private pharmacies point out that if you have a busy life and can’t afford to take time away from work or other responsibilities, then you should have the immunisation. For the self-employed, for example, who could lose significant income if they suffer from a flu virus, you could argue that it is irrational not to have the injection.

In the United States, the recommendations are firmer. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the USA this year, for the first time recommended that essentially everybody should get a flu shot every year.

There is an interesting, if technical, detail about the flu procurement model, which is left to GPs locally rather than managed centrally (GPs keep the difference between purchase price and list price as their incentive to vaccinate). The procurement model helps explain the difference between the coherence of the National Childhood Immunisation programme and the more piecemeal approach to adult vaccination.

Of course, we currently seem to have a supply crisis and Dr Gerada is right to prioritise for the flu jab should be “at risk” groups. But stopping the private sector from selling the flu vaccine would be a folly.

Criticism of the “worried well” (as some media commentators have) as selfish is a huge mistake in terms of health protection. In what other area would we criticise people for wanting to vaccinate themselves – and as a result, reduce the risk for themselves and those they come into contact with.

Rather than discourage the private sector, we should actually encourage to better promote vaccinations to adults. After all, if Sainsbury’s can provide a flu jab for £8 (plus nectar points!), it is probably better/cheaper for the “worried well” to get their vaccination from Sainsbury’s than their GP.

There has to be some responsibility on Government. We need to understand the extent to which a lack of an advertising campaign has had an impact for example.

Supply should not be/have been an issue and we must understand why it has been so. The drug companies will make enough drugs if there is demand.

But more fundamentally and quickly, the DH and others also need to put in place proper advice for adults. We need a proper adult immunisation strategy.

David Sinclair