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Is walking during a run cheating?

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I’m pretty sure the thought of walking during a run has crossed your mind on more than one occasion. But how do you react when this happens? Do you stop and walk or do you do everything you can to avoid walking?

Runners are stubborn creatures and although one part of us may want to stop, pride can often get in our way. Runners can feel frustration, embarrassment or even shame in walking. Yet running is a hobby for most of us. Why are we so hard on ourselves? Is walking really a failure?

A beginners mind
Think back to when you started running. Most of us embarked on training plans that alternated running with walking. Slowly and gradually we built our endurance by walking for a few minutes then running a few more. As beginners we embraced those walking breaks. They replenished our energy, strength and enthusiasm for the next running section and allowed us to stay focused on the task at hand.

Then one day we reached our final destination – that wonderful 5km run with no walk breaks. We felt amazing. No walk breaks equaled success. I wonder if that definition of success has made so many of us reluctant to embrace walking in the middle of a run now, many years on from our formative days. I know as I moved from 5km to longer distance I assumed I had to avoid walking.

But is walking really cheating?
For many years when marathon running, my goal was always to run the entire distance without stopping. I’m pretty sure I was one of those runners who kept jogging on the spot waiting for traffic lights to change afraid to stop for a moment. It was only when I moved to ultramarathon distance that I realised that not only was it okay to walk but it was encouraged. There was no benefit to wasting energy unnecessarily, especially when going uphill.

If runners who were competing at much faster speeds than me were walking, why was I letting my ego hold me back? Surely being energy efficient would be better in the long run. So walking the steep uphills then became a sensible choice for me and to this day, even in much shorter runs, I will walk when I feel like I need to loosen out, catch my breath or refocus. There is no point building up extra tension that will slow me down later.

The run-walk-run method
While my approach to walk breaks can sometimes be quite sporadic, there is a huge movement towards structured run-walk-run training. Coach Jeff Galloway kicked off this approach in the 1970s and over the years it has grown with great success for long-distance competitive athletes as well as recreational runners. His training plans encourage runners to take walk breaks right from the start of their run, even when they are feeling fresh.

These early breaks in a run hit the ego more than anything. Walking in the first mile of a marathon when you are full of adrenaline and positivity can be hard to do. But it does work, if you have the discipline to follow the plan. Thousands of runners of all levels have credited this approach to helping them run faster, avoid injury and speed up recovery.

Make walking work for you
If we see walking as a failure, it is only natural that our body displays this negativity. It is easy to spot a runner who is not happy to be walking. Their plodding steps can often be accompanied by a deflated posture, heavy stride and downward gaze. But this demeanour can wear us out more. If you are going to walk on a run, do it with pride, walk tall, keep your cadence quick and your arms bent like you are running. This way you will recover quick, loosen out, catch your breath and be ready to go again.

A smile wouldn’t go amiss either. In these situations where I feel I need a walk but also a little discipline, I allow myself 100 walking steps and then start running again. If I need to walk again in a few minutes, that’s okay, I always run again after 100 steps. Walking on a run is nothing to be embarrassed about, especially when you learn how it can actually help you run stronger and faster overall.

Challenge your beliefs
If walking during a run has never entered your mind in recent years, can I encourage you to give it a guilt-free go this week. You can check out the full Galloway approach or try a little experiment. Include a one-minute walk every five to 10 minutes on your long run (whatever distance that might be). Yes, the ego will kick in and you might feel silly stopping to walk so soon after starting. But you will have more energy, focus and strength for the next section and may end up running faster overall.

Every training session has a challenge and the hardest part of this one is disciplining yourself to stop when you know you can go on. But don’t dismiss it until you give it a go. It might not be for you right now, but it could be a secret weapon for your running future, in training, at races or even during recovery from injury or running setbacks. If nothing else, it is something new to experiment with while we await the return to races and park runs.

You have nothing to lose. 

Sign up for one of The Irish Times’ Get Running programmes (it is free!). 
First, pick the eight-week programme that suits you.
Beginner Course: A course to take you from inactivity to running for 30 minutes.
– Stay On Track: For those who can squeeze in a run a few times a week.
– 10km Course: Designed for those who want to move up to the 10km mark.
Best of luck!

Mary Jennings is founder and running coach with forgetthegym.ie. Mary’s book Get Running, published by Gill Books, is out now

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Bank of Ireland linked to fund involved in massive European tax fraud

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Bank of Ireland’s services were used by a company involved in a network of hedge funds at the centre of financial transactions, dubbed fraud by a German court, that have cost European tax authorities billions of euro.

The Irish bank’s fund administration unit, Bank of Ireland Securities Services (BOISS), was the custodian bank of an investment fund involved in the scheme.

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Reader question: When must I change to winter tyres in Switzerland?

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While winters have been a little milder in recent years, the snow, ice and sleet can still play havoc with your car.

Landslides and other road damage caused by inclement winter weather can also mean you lose control a little easier. 

Even in city areas, the colder weather can increase the risk of losing control. 

READ MORE: Ten strange Swiss road signs you need to know about

In Switzerland, the law is relatively complex. While there is no hard and fast rule for winter tyres at certain times, you have a responsibility to ensure your vehicle is roadworthy – which means being ready for the conditions. 

When do I need to put winter tyres on – and what happens if I don’t? 

Unlike many of its neighbours – and many cold countries from across the world – winter tyres are not mandatory in Switzerland. 

Therefore, you will not face any penalty if you continue to drive on summer tyres all year ‘round, either on a federal or cantonal basis.  

This is somewhat surprising for people from Austria, Sweden, Finland and some parts of the United States where winter tyres are mandatory during colder months. 

In Austria, for instance, winter tyres are required from November to April, regardless of the conditions. 

In Germany, Italy and Norway, winter tyres are not mandatory on the basis of the year’s calendar, but they are required in certain road conditions. 

However, certain roads can require you to have chains or winter tyres in order to drive on them at certain times.

This will be designated by a sign on a particular road or pass that winter tyres are required. 

Generally speaking, this will be on mountain roads or other passes, rather than in city streets. 

OK, so I don’t have to, but when should I change? 

The Swiss Road Traffic Act (Art. 29) says that all drivers on Swiss roads have a responsibility to ensure their vehicles are in a roadworthy condition. 

In slippery, winter conditions, the best way to ensure that your car does not lose control is to have it fitted with winter tyres. 

There are also insurance obligations to consider. 

The Swiss government notes that drivers without winter tyres may be deemed to be negligent. 

Driving in Europe: What are the Covid rules and checks at road borders?

“In the case of an accident, the driver may be found liable if the car is not properly equipped for the winter. The insurance company may not cover the full cost of the damage or may even take action against the insured person for negligence.”

Touring Club Switzerland (TCS) says that you should consider putting winter tyres on your car if the temperature drops below 7 degrees. 

Auto Suisse says that a default rule to follow is consider replacing summer tyres with winter ones from October until Easter, although this is of course dependent on the conditions. 



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Social media: Why vaccines, paella and ‘tortilla’ trend on Spanish Twitter | Opinion

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The content that gets shared the most on social media is not always an indignant message or an ingenious insult. Sometimes, it can even be pleasant to be on Twitter. This past weekend, the German television network Deutsche Welle published an English-language video special about Spain’s successful Covid-19 vaccination campaign. This video has been shared by Twitter users more than a thousand times in messages that expressed pride and included the hashtag #marcaEspaña (or, Brand Spain).

The Deutsche Welle video compared the 78% rate of fully vaccinated people in Spain at the time the report was made (the figure is now closer to 80%) to the 69% in Italy, 68% in France and 65% in Germany. Some of the reasons put forward to explain this success, despite a slow start, include widespread faith in the country’s public health system, the media’s scant coverage of vaccine conspiracy theories, and also “the devastating first wave of the pandemic.”

Positive messages about Spain from a foreign source are usually popular on social media. But at the same time it seems that if a Spaniard mentions that the country is doing something reasonably well, such as the vaccination campaign for instance, their fellow countrymen have trouble believing it. The impression (not always off base) is that the speaker has an axe to grind or may be trying to sell us a story (or even worse, a flag). But if a foreign media outlet says the same thing – well, we may not be fully convinced, but at least we enjoy hearing it.

And it’s not just with crucial subject matter such as vaccines. It also happens with other less critically important issues, such as Spain’s famous potato omelet, or tortilla de patatas. When a reporter from The New York Times extolled celebrity chef Ferrán Adriá’s version, made with potato chips from a bag rather than freshly sliced potatoes, it prompted nothing but satisfied tweets. But messages about the same recipe shared before the article came out showed a marked difference of opinions, to put it mildly.

It also works the other way around: when our dear old Spain comes under attack, we view it as an affront requiring revenge. There are still Twitter users out there who have not forgiven British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver for making a paella with chorizo in 2016 (at the time, some people compared his creation with the notorious botched restoration of a Christ figure in 2012).

And let’s not forget what happened to an Italian citizen who tweeted this summer that Spain was like Italy, but a bit worse. I will refrain from mentioning his name because he has already put up with enough grief. “Hey guys,” he amusingly tweeted afterwards. “Just checking, does ‘me cago en tu puta madre’ mean ‘I respectfully disagree’?”

I don’t think that Twitter turns us into patriots, fortunately enough for everyone. There’s no doubt that a lot of different elements are at play here: it’s easier to praise the Deutsche Welle video if you are a supporter of public healthcare (or even of the government). As for the food disputes, there is a lot of joking and pretending going on there. There is also an element of surprise: while we find it normal for there to be talk in Spain about the US, the UK or Germany, we are surprised every time Spain is mentioned abroad, and that’s because we tend to view ourselves as rather insignificant (which is understandable). And I’m also not ruling out the view held by some that focusing so much on what the foreign media says is, in itself, quite provincial.

But it’s also true that we should all find some joy in the fact that, once in a while, we can work together to do something well. And perhaps even celebrate with a good tortilla de patatas. I won’t go into whether it should have onion in it or not, because I don’t want to ruin the moment with another argument.



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