Friday, October 27, 2006

Honesty, Public Discourse and a Virtual Running Club

I have written before about the honesty of running - for the most part you get out what you put in. This nowhere more clearly shown than on the Hard Training thread of the Runners World forum. The seriousness with which they approach their training and the number of mile they run is hugely impressive. Last week a number of them ran the Abingdon marathon and there were loads of good times with some pbs.

I know they all deserved it because they have all been open in describing their training and ambitions. By following the thread you are able to watch as they work out the best ways to train, discuss problems and ask for advice. To me it seems a model of how things, anything, can be achieved: individual commitment and work, collaboration, honest appraisal and a willingness to listen. It is all done with humour and mutual appreciation.

I was thinking about this when reading a couple of things. The first was the NAO report on the failure to pay agricultural grants, which is a case study in how things should not be done, the loss of confidence in the civil service that feels it has to hand over tricky problems to consultants and the defensiveness and evasiveness so that the full scale of the problem is not admitted until it is too late. The other thing was an article by Armando Iannucci on how we now look to comedy as a source of truth in public discourse.

It is a rather brilliant article about the way we discuss serious issues, or rather the way we no longer discuss them seriously:

“When the only way a Prime Minister can get round his wife publicly calling his Chancellor a liar is with a joke, then what's left for a joke-writer to do? Comedy is so prevalent now, it's cool by association. So politicians speak and act according to the rhythms of comedy. Labour trying to portray Cameron as a chameleon - it's an attempted sketch.

This has come about for three reasons: politicians have stopped speaking to us properly, the media has stopped examining their actions in anything like a forensic way, and broadcast culture has become so watered down, so scared of fact, that people are less inclined to turn to anything other than entertainment for information.”

I read agree with it and then feel slightly depressed. The only answer is to go for a run. As I said before running is about honesty and as such it is the perfect antidote to management speak and obfuscations. I run in the woods. I can feel the bracken brush my legs and see the deer cross the path. Again I can feel rooted. But running is only good for me as an individual - it helps my mood, helps me sort things out. It does nothing for the public good.

However there is always the model of Mike Gratton’s Hard Training group which shows that when people come together with a common purpose great things can be achieved. I much prefer to think of this than the Rural payments Agency.


Anonymous said...

Yeah I also enjoy the hard training thread as it's a good read.

beanz said...

haven't read it for a while - maybe I'll go back to it

I know we read the same newspaper but
you express my thoughts so well on many things - are you inside my head?

beanz said...

'it' was the hard training thread!

Highway Kind said...

Ah Beanz I have enough trouble being inside my own head, never mind anybody else's