The Warm Up

First posts can be difficult. I’ve spent seemingly endless hours choosing a theme, constructing the layout and setting out the skeleton of the blog (which I hope is to your liking, if not please do let me know) without much thought to what I would actually say!

Well, that isn’t totally true. I am clearly setting up this blog for a purpose and have plenty of ideas to fill the virtual pages within (more on that later). But I gave no thought to what I would say first. Jumping straight in with a proper post would be too hasty and I feel the need to get into the swing of blog writing first. Therefore this post will be a contextual preamble, giving background to the blog, its role and myself. It is the metaphorical warm-up.

“Why all the running related puns and quips?”

I hear you ask. The answer is threefold:

  1. I am a runner
  2. I am also a geographer who studies the practice of running
  3. I think I am witty (note the emphasis)

CookSimon

I have been a long distance runner for most of my memorable life, my dedication having waxed and waned (as has my performance) at various points and my perspective has also changed along the way. I have been an athlete, coach, spectator, committee member, recreational runner, injured runner, recovering runner, disgruntled runner, mildly successful runner, very unsuccessful runner and many more guises. Currently I am a recreational runner trying to regain fitness, discipline and the rhythm of running. Having just moved to a new area, this is taking longer than expected.

I have been an academic geographer for a much shorter duration (having always had an interest in people, places and spaces though, I have been a geographer for a comparable time). I am currently based in the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London on an ESRC 1+3 studentship which will involve me undertaking a PhD into the practice of road-running in 2014 after I have completed the MA in Cultural Geography there. Previously I was an undergraduate student in the wonderful School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at Plymouth University where my enthusiasm for geography was fostered and my initial interest in turning running from my hobby to my subject of study began. I am interested in all aspects of running: the routes, the speeds, the durations, the meanings, the representations, the experiences, the clothes, the technology, the emotions, the pains, the sweat, the injuries, the sociality etc. etc. As a geographer I am concerned with how runners engage with places, the world, people, themselves and others; how they use them, misuse them, make sense of them, feel towards them, experience them and how this all impacts back onto their practice as a runner. I am also interested in all types of runners: the just-beginning, the used-to-run-but-now-don’t, the never-run-I-hate it, the professional runner, the male, female, young, old, small, large, quick, slow, frequent to infrequent. Most people have the ability to run and everybody has an opinion about it and as such, are all of interest to my work.

Previous Work

My undergraduate dissertation was entitled Jography: Exploring the Mobilities of Road-Running and was my first voyage into exploring road-running as a mobile and geographical practice. The work received thrilling feedback and proved extremely fruitful as to act as the foundation for my PhD proposal. In August 2013 I learnt that the thesis was awarded the runner-up prize in the national Social and Cultural Geography Research Group annual undergraduate dissertation prize which was is an immense privilege and a fact I am extremely proud of. It also means that the dissertation is now hosted on the SCGRG website which has made it publicly accessible – free to anyone who wishes to read it, which is the biggest thrill of all. I have also had the opportunity to present some work from this dissertation and it is with hope that I am working with a couple of my excellent lecturers at Plymouth to turn it into a journal article.

The Blog

So I have founded this blog in the hope of being able to provide a public platform on which to share and try out my ideas, experiences and research that stem from ongoing studies. I hope it will appeal to both academics and non-academics, anyone who has an interest in running or the how people experience the world. It will contain material that relate solely to geography, that relate solely to running and that address both of them together. It will also feature content on things I am writing, things I am doing, things I am presenting, things I am reading and things I am thinking about. I may also offer my reflections upon academia as I traverse my way through it and doubtlessly I will also contain just general musings and thoughts.

I will also re-blog others’ posts and links to other interesting things but I will try and publish original content at least once a week.

I most certainly do not want this to act as a one-way form of communication however. I encourage anyone to comment on posts, leave feedback, engage me in conversation, recommend ideas for posts, ideas for research topics, ideas for runs. See the Contact page for a whole host of ways to get hold of me. Good, bad or ambivalent, I would like to hear it. I am a very public geographer. I want to engage, debate, discuss, work and disseminate to the public, with the public and in a public arena.

Hopefully we are warmed up enough now. If you like the sound of what you hear then I would really appreciate a subscription, a tweet or any of form of sharing. My next post is already in the pipeline but until then please feel free to peruse the rest of the website and leave any feedback you wish.

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3 thoughts on “The Warm Up

  1. Alice C says:

    Hello Simon, I am following your experimentation with interest.

    As a long time blogger I recommend regular posts of shorter length. There are two advantages – short posts are less intimidating to write and also more likely to be read.

    Regular readers of blogs tend to use RSS feeds and therefore will see your post not in isolation but as part of a list of similar posts – makereading your blog an enjoyable experience so that they want to read your post first.

    Be friendly to your reader – make it punchy, use illustrations, format it so that it is easy to read. You want to maximise the impact of your work and make it accessible – your blog posts will help you practice an engaging writing style so experiment – it is not an assessed essay.

    You should use your site stats to understand your reader and know which topics they enjoy reading. It won’t change what you want to write about but you can mix it up so that a post with a high academic content is balanced by a post with a lighter tone.

    Good luck!
    Alice

    1. simoniancook says:

      Hi Alice, thank you very much for the suggestions and comments. Will certainly try them out and want to do much experimentation with it to strike on a format that I like and is effective. Thanks for the advice and readership, very much appreciated. Best, Simon.

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