The Star, The Express, The Times, and The Telegraph. Are there any other British newspapers that are now run for less than five quid a week? This, from The Telegraph, is a collector’s item. Evelyn Waugh could not have made it, or indeed the photo of the 13-year-old author, up. (Apologies that the typeface becomes WordPress standard.)
For pics you likely have to go to the Torygraph original, here. But the text is a feast of itself:
David Cameron out of stride with wife Samantha
Huffing and puffing, a red-faced and heavy-legged David Cameron plods along a pavement on his weekly jog, forcing one foot in front of the other on the unforgiving tarmac.
Both David and Samantha Cameron have enlisted the help of personal trainer Matt Roberts (Right) Photo: STEVE BACK
By Nick Collins 7:30AM BST 28 Mar 2011
Meanwhile his wife Samantha breezes through a leafy park accompanied by personal trainer Matt Roberts, looking confident, relaxed and brimming with energy.
Perhaps Mr Cameron was feeling drained or short of sleep, but a careful look at the recent photographs leads to a different conclusion – that while his wife would be well-equipped to tackle a marathon, the Prime Minister is simply not as adept at running as he is at running the country.
In fact, if Mr and Mrs Cameron decided to take exercise together or compete in a race, Samantha would be likely to comfortably outpace her husband, according to an expert analysis of their respective running styles.
While Mrs Cameron’s relaxed upper body enables her to make the most of her energy, the Prime Minister appears rigid, uncomfortable and exhausted – hardly a surprise given his primitive technique.
Despite having recently given birth, Mrs Cameron’s wider stride means she covers almost a third more ground each time she puts her foot down than her husband, and is at much lower risk of injury.
- Sam Cam gets personal 10 Mar 2011
- David Cameron feels the chill on morning jog 24 Nov 2010
By taking too narrow a stride, lifting his toes too high and running in an upright position the Prime Minister is not only slowing himself down but risking shin splints, knee problems and arthritis, according to analysts.
Sam Murphy, a running coach and author of Running Well, said: “I would say Samantha needs a bit of tuition – but compared to her David has appalling technique.
“The first thing I noticed about the Prime Minister was the straightness of his leg on landing – he should bend his knees to dissipate the shock and aim to land with his foot below the knee rather than ahead of him to decrease the impact force.
“People tend to think running is like walking, and that if they want to go faster they should put their leg out further, but actually it is more like cycling. If you want to go faster you want to turn your leg over more quickly.”
To add to Mr Cameron’s embarrassment, he ought to be better at running than his wife because his masculine frame gives him an innate head-start, she added.
“Women biomechanically have more issues to overcome, for example their pelvis is wider, so their thighs are more likely to roll inwards which can put excess force on the knees. There isn’t any advantage that Samantha Cameron would have over David – quite the opposite in fact.”
Both David and Samantha Cameron have enlisted the help of personal trainer Matt Roberts – whose clients include supermodel Naomi Campbell – to help them stay in good shape.
But while Mrs Cameron appears to be benefiting from the fitness expert’s guidance as she jogs alongside him, Mr Cameron may not have taken quite so many lessons on board.
Bob Pritchard, an Olympic trainer with 40 years’ experience of analysing and improving athletes’ technique, said Mr Cameron’s stride width of 50 degrees, compared with his wife’s 65 degrees, is one of the lowest he has ever seen.
In a blog posted on the website of the California-based Somax Performance Institute, Mr Pritchard wrote: “David Cameron recently led some of his Afghan troops in a run and provided an excellent example of how not to run.
“David Cameron is covering 40 per cent less ground than the average, slow marathon runner. Good marathon runners have a stride angle over 100 degrees, which means that Cameron is covering 60 per cent less ground than they are.”
The difference in the couple’s stride angles may not sound like much, but even an extra degree of width can make an enormous difference to the amount of ground a runner is able to cover.
Mr Prichard said in an interview: “The Prime Minister’s wife has a bigger stride angle than he does, though not by much.
“But since you cover two per cent more ground with each stride for every degree you increase your stride angle, she covers 30 per cent more ground with each stride than her husband.
“As in governance, it is not how much you do but how efficient you are that counts.”
The key problem behind Mr Cameron’s awkward style, Mr Pritchard said, is tension – hardly surprising in a man with one of the most demanding jobs in the country.
“Basically, he is tense and stiff. You can see evidence of this tension in his toe lift, which is a phenomenal 27 degrees. Good runners don’t bother to lift their toes when running, as it is a waste of energy.
“Plus, when the toes are lifted like Cameron’s, it forces the runner to land on his heel, which slams the foot flat on the ground, violently stretching the very muscles that the runner is contracting to maintain toe lift.”
Mr Cameron could face worse than the humiliation of being overtaken by his wife if he fails to adapt his style because a short stride can lead to the softening of the cartilage around the knee, long-term knee problems and even arthritis in later years.
Forced stretching also tears fibres in the shin muscles, which can lead to problems as severe as shin splints and stress fractures, the British-born coach said.
However, Mr Cameron is unlikely to change his running style any time soon if he heeds the advice in the official London 2012 Olympics running guide, according to the expert who wrote it.
John Brewer, professor of sport at Bedfordshire University, said: “I have seen lots of top runners and many of them have styles which on the face of it look slightly ungainly, but these are elite runners and that in itself must suggest that they are doing something right.
“In my opinion, the more you try to change someone’s running style through analysis, the more likely it is that you will cause an injury. Naturally the body will need to adopt a running style that suits the individual.”
The danger of comparing the two pictures, he said, is that they only capture a moment in time – but even that is enough to draw some conclusions about the Camerons’ respective running styles.
Mr Brewer said: “Samantha looks fine. The key thing when anyone is running is to stay relaxed and she certainly looks as if she is doing that. The Prime Minister looks more tense, so I would recommend he stretches more before running to improve the flexibility of his hamstrings and calf muscles. That will help him push off more firmly, take a longer stride and make each stride seem that much easier.
“His head is looking more upwards and his neck and shoulders are tensed, so he certainly looks more rigid than Mrs Cameron. His hands are also clenched – that makes you tense and also prevents you losing a lot of heat from your palms, which is important when you are running.
“A lot depends on how tired he is – as people get tired they tend to tense up. But on the face of it Samantha Cameron is certainly the more aesthetic looking of the two.”