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running & identity binaries

Good morning, Visual thinker!

As you read this, I’ll probably be horsing around my local park as fast as my long legs will carry me. I’ll be doing a timed 5k run, which is what I do every Saturday morning. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s called parkrun, and it’s changed my life.

You see, I am not a runner. At least that’s how I used to see myself. I’ve always loved playing various sports and games, but running? It just didn’t appeal to me.

Obviously, and like most people, I can run - if pressed. But the identity binary of considering myself “not a runner” prevented me from running, and getting to a point of competence. Competence? Yes, competence! To me, running looks a lot like a skill; it’s difficult to learn at first, but practice regularly, and you can’t fail to improve.

I now run 3 times a week, and no-one makes me do it. I reckon I’ve ran over 600km in the last year. I’m the lightest and fittest my adult self has ever been. But that’s not why I run. I run because I like how it makes me feel. I love how it switches my creative brain to ON. It improves my mood. It helps my confidence. I sleep like a baby.

But it nearly didn’t happen.

Nearly 2 years ago, my then 10-year-old son suggested we do parkrun one Saturday morning. We’d been up in the park recently on a Saturday morning, and seen all the runners run past. It definitely wasn’t for me. But wanting to encourage my son in his exercise, I slightly-grumpily agreed, in a way that fathers often do.

That run was a disaster. We were beginners. His headphones kept falling off (he insisted on bringing them). It was very stop-start. There were tears. After one of three laps, I suggested we quietly sidle off home - but he wanted to finish. Afterwards, I thought to myself, well that’s that...

To my surprise, the young rascal suggested that we try again the following week. I was impressed - and how could I refuse? And this time there were no tears - or headphones. It was still stop-start, and even though it was hard going, we felt good about ourselves for finishing. I discovered that his goal was to complete 10 parkruns, the reward being a free parkrun T-shirt. I don’t remember 10 having goals at age ten, but by the time we had completed 10 parkruns, I was hooked. By then, I could do it without stopping up the hills, and I was getting faster. Each parkrun I decided was my last just became another marker for me to beat the following week.

The thing is - somewhere in the last year I must have decided that I’m now a runner. The very binary that prevented me from discovering running, is the same binary that keeps me running. I run because I am now a runner.

Parkrun is organised by volunteers. It’s free to participate and works on a barcode scanning system, so a short time after the run, your phone pings with your running time and some juicy stats. Roughly 250 people from my local area pitch up every Saturday morning at 9am to run a timed 5k. I’ve got to know a few of them, as perspiring people hang around chatting afterwards. If someone is running a milestone (50 / 100 / 250 parkruns) they’ll even bring some brownies or cake to hand around. Some people walk the 5k, some run it with their dogs, some parents run it with their buggies.

And this is what many people don't yet know. Parkrun is not for runners; it’s for anyone.

Visual Thinkery


The latest version of Visual Thinkery's Remixer Machine is now live! I had the pleasure of giving a live demo at the ALT winter conference last week to a bunch of lovely people. You can now save your visual remixes, share online and even remix someone else's remix. It's already been booked in as a creative engagement tool for a couple of conferences in the New Year.

Feel free to get remixing. If you've got any thoughts in how to make it better, please let me know.
Take me to the Remixer!

First Principles

#comic, #math

Reduction to First Principles

Nothing’s ever fair, is it?

If you’d like to wilfully lose 13 minutes of your busy life, you could watch this video on what makes a fair dice. What are the chances that you make it all the way to the end? Less than 1 in 6, I’d say…

The post First Principles appeared first on Visual Thinkery.

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