Category Archives: Author
Keep your New Years Resolutions in check with some top tips from Gavin Morey, author of the Twelve Week Fitness and Nutrition Programme for Men and the Twelve Week Fitness and Nutrition Programme for women.
Leave the bread and pasta off of your shopping list. You would have heard this before but they are not that good for you and make your body retain water have which will in turn, make you feel and look bloated! Try leaving these out of your diet for one week and see how much weight / cm’s you have lost and how great you feel.
Healthy eating starts with healthy shopping
The key time to avoid shopping is when you’re hungry. Hungry shoppers put more in their trolleys especially naughty foods and sugary foods. Better to shop after a meal. This works to your advantage as you pick up slightly less and you will keep to your plan. Try it, you may be pleasantly surprised.
Sleep is as important as eating and drinking, which is why we spend one third of our lives doing so. It is absolutely vital for maintaining normal levels of cognitive skills like speech and memory.
Enjoy the odd meal out as it can help with weight loss. Reward yourself for reaching a goal and enjoy the company, this will reduce the feeling of deprivation. By trusting yourself to choose the right meal and turning down the bread basket reinforces your sense of self control.
When it comes to drinking alcohol the best advice is to drink ones that are most natural with low sugar, no artificial ingredients. Choose spirits over beer, red wine over white or rose wine, ale over beer.
Water makes up two thirds of the weight of a human body of which your muscle consists of approximately 75% water. Water is as you know the most important nutrient for the body but how much is enough? It’s recommended between 1.5 to 3 litres a day depending on your size, shape and the amount of exercise you do daily.
Bad day, bad week? Don’t panic!
If you are having a bad day or even an entire week try not to panic! Limit the days as much as possible and DONT GIVE UP! If you can turn it around to eating the right foods you can actually lose more weight than actually put on in the first place.
Training – Keeping things fresh
Like with our food, we need to keep things interesting with our training. Whether you buy a new app, buy new clothing or change your fitness sessions all will encourage you to keep exercising and having fun.
New to fitness
When you begin to work out for the first time or incorporating a new exercise routine it’s expected that your body will feel discomfort. This discomfort could be aching, stiffness or muscle soreness (also known as DOMS) that occurs as your body is being put under a new demand. So as you progressively increase the demand overtime your body will adapt and build it’s self up to become stronger physically (muscles) and physiologically (heart and lungs).
The importance of stretching
Stretching is just as important as exercise as it will lengthen your muscle, reduce the feeling of DOMS, promote circulation, increase performance and strength and aid in body awareness.
Gavin Morey is the author of the Twelve Week Fitness and Nutrition Programme for Men and the Twelve Week Fitness and Nutrition Programme for Women.
Ever wondered what Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, Andy Murray or Bradley Wiggins eat?
Anita Bean, bestselling author of Food for Fitness, reveals the dietary secrets of successful sportspeople and explains how you can use the same strategies to take your training to the next level. Anita exposes the truth behind popular sports supplements and debunks popular nutritional myths.
Whether you’re a competitive athlete or you just enjoy working out for fitness, find out the best way to feed your body and hear Anita’s top tips on sports nutrition. This is your chance to come and enjoy a healthy smoothie (or a sneaky glass of wine) with Anita Bean and ask our bestselling sports nutrition expert your questions.
So get your tickets fast!
Anita Bean BSc R Nutr is the author of Food For Fitness and The Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition. She is a registered nutritionist (Sports & Exercise) whose practical style has made her one of the UK’s most respected nutrition writers. Over the years, she has worked with numerous athletes, from club to Olympic level, contributed to numerous health and fitness publications and, as a former British bodybuilding champion, is a strong advocate of an active lifestyle.
Date: Thursday 16th October
Time: Drinks at 6pm and talk from 6.30pm until 7.45pm
Place: Bloomsbury Publishing, 50 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3DP
Cost: £10 / £6 for students, including wine (or smoothies)
Tickets are available to buy online at http://www.bloomsburyinstitute.com or on the door.
Gavin Morey is the author of two new fitness books – the Twelve Week Fitness and Nutrition Programme for Women and the Twelve Week Fitness and Nutrition Programme for Men. He is a highly experienced fitness consultant and muscle therapist to celebrities and major health and well-being companies.
We put a couple of questions to him…
1. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I have to admit it wasn’t until I was in my early twenties when I had the notion of becoming an author. It was floating around my head for a number of years until I plucked up the courage and decided to put pen to paper and draft out the concept of the books.
My original idea was to write a book that was twelve weeks long because this is the perfect amount of time to see your body change, adapt and develop into what you want. But I didn’t want to just write the book as that has already been done, especially by professionals who may have forgotten what it is like as a novice. That was when I thought I would practise what I preach and put on the weight to show my clients and others exactly what it takes to transform your body.
2. What made you decide to create the Twelve Week Fitness and Nutrition Programme?
I chose to write the twelve week fitness and nutrition programme for two reasons. Firstly from the comments my clients would pass to me regards ‘it’s easy for you to look that way’ or ‘it’s hard for me as I have to train and eat around work and I just don’t have time’. After listening to that for a while I decided I would show them exactly what it takes to change your body. I wanted them and others to see it wasn’t easy, time isn’t a limiting factor for weight loss and it isn’t all down to genes.
Secondly I found it really hard looking through health and fitness books / magazines showing amazing results “IN JUST TWO WEEKS” with the most extreme before and after photos. These books / magazines promise you the earth which the training is mainly plyometric style training (not a great long term plan for your body due to a higher risk of injury) and by following a bodybuilding diet (again not realistic plan as even bodybuilder don’t maintain this type of diet for long).
Due to those two reasons I really wanted to clearly show the progress like no other, hiding behind no gimmicks, trick photography / airbrushing or fake results. I chose to document all of my training sessions to the point of the weight I lifted to the recipes and meals I ate everyday. I choose to take WEEKLY photos and health tests along with monthly postural analysis and fitness test so the reader can see the weekly progress I went through and what they should expect for themselves.
I put on lots of weight (a little over two stone of fat), stopped all kinds of training for 5 to 6 months and got extremely spotty and body conscious. To my detriment my glucose levels at one stage were very close to having onset type two diabetes! I was now ready to start the twelve week programme for men and start the book.
However for Alison, she never wanted me to write a book with her in it but liked the idea of a ladies version. I managed to talk Ali into doing the twelve week plan on the condition it would not be book unless she was really happy with the end results! We documented all tests, photos and diary inserts in the off chance at by the end of the twelve weeks Ali would be happy (I knew Ali would be!). Luckily for every lady out there (and myself) Alison was so happy and the ladies book was born.
3. What would you say are the four main benefits of the programme?
The four main benefits are the basis of the books!
1 – Real Results:
Alison and I have actually done the programmes ourselves first to show the great results that are achievable. We wanted the reader to be engrossed into our lives and encouraged by what we have done and what they can do. We included all aspects of the way we lived (personal diaries/stress & energy levels/sleeping patterns), trained (times we worked out, length of sessions, weights/reps/sets we actually done) and ate (the snacks we used, meals & recipes we followed, shopping lists we stuck by), along with all of our health results and measurements and weekly photos. By seeing how and what we have accomplished sets a precedence for the reader to be encouraged, motivated and empowered to get up and have a go for themselves.
2 – Weight loss but more importantly health benefits:
We wanted the weight loss to be controlled, sustainable and achievable. Exercise is important but the diet in my eyes plays an even more important roll (up to 70% of the way we look and feel). It was the nutrition and recipes that took us the most amount of the time to get right. The recipes we chose had to contain a large variety of ingredients, be very healthy and above all tremendously tasty. We set about creating the recipes to help the body from the inside out, by lowering / balancing glucose and cholesterol levels but with the upside of weight lose.
3 – Transforming your body within twelve weeks but changing your lifestyle forever:
Your body can make a dramatic transformation in such short period of time but it takes the full twelve weeks to make an impact on our habits and routines. The nutrition is the hardest part to change, as you have more than likely fallen into your own routine and lifestyle. To break this you will need hard work, be dedicated and to see results to push you through to the goal you set yourself. When you get to the end and you have achieved what you wanted, you will forever have set yourself new routine and lifestyle. It has been 4 years since we finished the twelve week programme and yes we are both still as fit and healthy as ever, even after Alison has had our little baby boy Morgen. We unconsciously make the right choices of the foods we eat, and we still try to stick to three fish meals, two white meat, one red meat and a vegetarian meal a week for our dinners.
4 – Easy to follow fitness sessions and recipes
The ease and functionality of the book is by far a head and shoulders above the rest. All of the training and recipes have been broken down into step by step guides that will take you through each individual fitness session and recipe day by day, week by week for the full twelve weeks. The nutrition programme has been developed for a family of four and allows you to see the weeks overview first, before it leads you onto the weekly detailed shopping list that you can take out to the supermarket to help you save time, energy and stress.
The programme includes all breakfast, lunch and dinner meals for the entire twelve weeks which has over 100 recipes. The recipes themselves are very easy to follow with simple step by step directions on the ingredients needed, how to prepare and cook each meal, even to the point of reminding the reader how to prepare for the next days meal. The training has been designed for the men to gain muscle, tone up, get fit whilst losing weight whilst the women’s is about toning up, getting fit and losing weight with the added bonus of shredding some cellulite. You will be able to follow the personal sessions of the authors next to your own which has blank sections to jot down your own results. If you then wanted you can compare yours next to the authors to see how well you are getting on!
4. How did you come up with the recipes for the book?
The biggest inspiration for me, like most, is my mother. She encouraged my brothers and I from an early age to start cooking and above all enjoy all the tastes and texture food can bring. We were brought up on homely food but as the years went by and we were older and able to help in the kitchen my mums culinary skills changed some what and she started to follow various diets. My mum would take a very boring and mundane recipe and change it to a delicious meal exploding in taste. This was the foot stones to where I started and I have taken the recipes she has used throughout the years and made the recipes slightly.
5. Do you have any favourite exercises from the 80 in the book?
To be honest if you asked me I have a couple of favourite exercises in the gym. The first would be pull ups as they are so good at hitting all aspects of your back and can define your shape. The second is the Morey Squeeze (upper) as I find this is one of the best exercises to isolate and hit the upper pectoral like no other exercise out there. Finally I like squats as it they one of the hardest exercises but it’s a foundational exercise that can improve your posture, develop your muscle mass when lifting heavy and increase muscular endurance to help with cardio vascular exercises. Alison would say the exercises she liked the most were dumbbell shoulder press as it really helped tone her shoulder and triceps, reverse shrugs as this exercise helped realign her posture and bring back her shoulders and boxing as it was a great way to vent frustration, get fit and have fun doing it!!
6. Are the weekly shopping lists for the recipes affordable?
The weekly shopping lists back in 2012 we’re worked out at a costing of £45 per head for all the meals and snacks for the entire week, this did however include ingredients that would last longer than a week or two such as extra virgin olive oil and soy sauce.
7. Can the workouts be carried out at home?
The training sessions I carried out we’re actually at home within my own gym in the garage, so yes all the training can be carried out at home. If you wanted to get the same results or better you would need to use roughly the same type of equipment as we used or better.
8. Is there any basic equipment that readers need to follow the programme?
It’s quite hard to say would you get the same results as Ali and I without the correct equipment and the answer would be you probably would have completely different results. The basic equipment was pretty basic for Ali and I to get the results we wanted. For example if you decided to do all body weights instead of using actual free weights then you would certainly get lean and toned but you would not gain the same amount of muscular size and mass. If you were unable to run like Alison and I, you would need to find an alternative that pushes you just as hard (again this would depend on your fitness levels as a fast walk will be hard for one person but easy for another). So yes it is important to get the right equipment for the best results but no it’s not the end of the world as any form of exercise you do with the correct diet will help you lose weight and above all get fitter and healthier.
Read a few sample pages from Gavin’s new books…
Guest post by Anita Bean
Whether you are a competitive athlete looking for those ‘marginal gains’ or you simply enjoy working out for fitness, a great nutrition plan will help maximise your performance. It can help you train harder and longer, and speed your recovery between sessions. Here are a few tips to keep you well fuelled:
1. Fuel up
Of all the foods you could have before a workout, prioritize ones rich in carbohydrates, especially if you will be training for longer than one hour. Include some protein (chicken, fish, cheese, egg, beans) as well as a small amount of fat (olive oil, cheese, avocado) in the meal. Both help lower the overall glycaemic index (a measur
e of how rapidly the blood sugar levels rise) of the meal, provide sustained energy and improve performance. A meat and veg stew with potatoes; a pasta, tuna (or bean) and veg bake; or a chicken & veg stir-fry with rice would be ideal.
2. Eat 2 – 3 hours before exercising
The optimal time for your pre-exercise meal is 2 – 4 hours before training. If you work-out at 7pm, plan to eat between 3 and 5pm. No time to eat a meal? A granola bar; a slice of toast with peanut butter; a handful of nuts and dried fruit; or a banana 30 minutes before you train should give you enough of an energy boost.
3. Begin well-hydrated
It’s important to begin each workout properly hydrated if you want to put in a good performance. Aim to drink 5-7 ml of fluid per kilogram of body weight about 4 hours before exercise – equivalent to 350 – 490 ml for a 70kg person.
4. Avoid dehydration
If you’re exercising for less than an hour, there’s no need to consume anything other than water during your workout. For most conditions 400 – 800 ml per hour will prevent dehydration as well as over-hydration. Listen to your body and drink when you are thirsty.
5. Fuel on the go
If you’re working-out for longer than an hour, consuming carbohydrate either in the form of a drink or as food provides your muscles with a ready supply of blood glucose for immediate energy. This spares glycogen stores and helps you to train longer. Aim for 30–60 g of carbohydrate per hour – equivalent to 400 – 800 ml cordial (diluted 1 to 6), or an isotonic sports drink; 2 bananas or 50g dried fruit. If you’re exercising hard for longer than 2 – 3 hours, a dual energy source drink (glucose and fructose) may help increase your stamina.
6. Replace fluids
Weigh yourself before and after your session to get an idea of your fluid losses. The International Olympic Committee recommend drinking 600 – 750 ml of fluid for each 0.5 kg weight lost.
If you plan to exercise again within 24 hours, begin refuelling within two hours of your workout. Your recovery snack should contain carbohydrate to replenish depleted fuel (glycogen) stores, as well as 20 – 25g protein to repair and rebuild the muscles. Milk (all types), flavoured milk and low fat milk shakes are ideal, or make your own recovery shake from milk, fruit and yoghurt. If you don’t plan to exercise the next day, simply ensure you get enough protein and carbs over the next 24 hours.
Food for Fitness 4th ed by Anita Bean
The new edition of this book is the ultimate resource for anyone who is serious about sport or fitness. It has been updated to include the very latest nutrition research for exercise and performance. Food For Fitness dispels popular myths and gives you the tools you need to reach your maximum performance, as well as 65 easy, delicious recipes, and sport-specific menu plans.
When the news broke that Sir Alex Ferguson was stepping down as manager of Manchester United and the name of his successor was revealed the following day, I was one of those who claimed that David Moyes was the logical and right choice. I expressed this belief on Danish television only minutes after Moyes had been officially “chosen”, but as it happens, I did in fact already indicate in the book Standing on the Shoulders of Giants that Moyes was the best bet, at least in terms of British candidates for the most impossible job in the world. But (and there is a “but” which has become only more visible in hindsight) I forgot to mention that Moyes being “the right choice” came with a precondition. The name of that precondition was René Meulensteen.
When it became clear in the course of July that Moyes had indeed made a clean cut and released Ferguson’s entire staff, I thus immediately felt the dark clouds assembling above Old Trafford. Ferguson is from Scotland, and so is Moyes. No problem in that. On the contrary, if one knows the history of Manchester United one also knows that the two most successful managers – Alex Ferguson and Matt Busby – are both Scots, and, apart from that, they both occupied the Old Trafford hot seat through more than twenty-five years. These facts, the Scottish connection and continuity, are some of the reasons why Moyes was the right and logical choice. In short, Manchester United have a deep love for both Scots and continuity, and this is why they not only chose Moyes, but also chose to give him a six-year contract. So far so good.
But in the wake of the fabulous Treble-winning season of 1999, a season where the Red Devils had shown what one could rightly label an uncompromising, but at times also naive all-out-attack mentality, Ferguson realised that the United engine was in urgent need of a continental component who could provide the team with tactical finesse and new training methods, since United were being punished in Europe for a similar tactic in the following season. In other words, Ferguson went looking for a new assistant manager to replace Steve McLaren, who after the Champions League final against Bayern Munich in 1999 went his own way. Ferguson found the cosmopolitan Portuguese Carlos Queiroz, and later he hired the Dutchman Meulensteen. With their schooling in the Portuguese and Dutch football philosophy respectively, Queiroz and Meulensteen brought elements of technical flair, tactical flexibility and strategic intelligence into the United team. Neither must we forget that Queiroz, apart from his technical, tactical and strategic inputs, also kept his fellow countryman Cristiano Ronaldo happy, just as Meulensteen kept his fellow countryman Robin van Persie happy in the latter’s first season at Old Trafford. The importance in relation to man management of having a staff with a multinational composition is not to be underestimated in this era of globalized squads.
When Moyes led Meulensteen go, what did he then do? In contrast to the master, who had realised the need for a continental ingredient in Manchester United’s English and Celtic core, the apprentice brought with him Britishness, Britishness and Britishness. Worst case scenario for a United fan is indeed that Moyes quite simply brought Everton from Goodison Park to Old Trafford. The signs of this have been clear in several matches. But perhaps they were most unambiguous, and symbolically so, in the match against the very Everton team Moyes only abandoned a few months ago. With Roberto Martinez at the helm Everton not only dominated in large periods of the game against Manchester United at Old Trafford, they also secured their victory in what came close to being Fergie Time – that specific period of the match when United historically have excelled in pushing their opponents further and further up the Stretford End and scoring late winners.
Maybe I am too harsh on Moyes. Maybe I underestimate his own tactical intelligence. But I do fear another post-Busby era. Is that too pessimistic? Is it an untimely premonition (untimely because as a United fan one is committed to give Moyes a chance and committed to thinking long term)? Perhaps too pessimistic and untimely, yes, but Meulensteen’s exit was a bad decision. If it was a catastrophically bad decision, only time will tell.
And I guess we could leave it here, hanging in the air in good postmodern fashion. But there is a merciless point that we cannot neglect, namely that seven years are longer today than they were in 1986. And that is not all. It is also much more fatal for a club today to fall out of top 4 than it was then, not just because of financial reasons, but especially because it influences a club’s ability to attract players from the top-top shelf negatively. The consequence is a vicious circle which is almost impossible to break. Just look at Liverpool.
Søren Frank is the author of a brand new book about Manchester United entitled Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants. The book was recently reviewed by World Soccer Talk.
As soon as we’d tweeted about the Bloomsbury Institute Evening with Graeme Obree to celebrate the publication of The Obree Way, tickets sold out quicker than for a One Direction concert.
Last night an audience of cyclists and Obree fans gathered to hear the great man interviewed by journalist Richard Moore. An hour didn’t seem enough – 60 minutes to cover such a varied career – the world records, the World Championships, the UCI, the movie of his life, the highs, the lows, the Beastie… With Richard at the tiller the audience were guided through Graeme’s career, and his own inimitable take on cycling, life and motivation.
Graeme pulls no punches – his refusal to enter the doping programme for Le Groupement lost him his professional cycling career (and the shortest pro contract ever at 11 hours in total from signing it to being kicked off, he laughed…), but he winningly argued that come what may, he retains his self-respect and pride in his decision. Asked about the UCI he was winningly supportive – while their decision-making damaged his career he argued that it pushed him on to continue innovating, and also that without their volunteers and officials cycling events simply wouldn’t happen. Asked what his greatest wish for cycling was he used the opportunity to despair at the lack of support for women’s cycling – and especially a women’s Tour de France.
It was a fascinating opportunity to hear from a cycling legend – an iconoclast and innovator who has pushed the boundaries throughout his career.
Post by Charlotte Croft, Head of Sport
Do you think you have what it takes to write a netball coaching guide?
Do you have top coaching tips and training plans for improving player performance?
Do you know what netball tactics, skills and drills will help players in their different roles on the court?
Bloomsbury Sport are looking for an experienced coach to share their coaching knowledge with netball players, coaches and teachers in a practical coaching book to keep the game fun and challenging, and help players improve their game.
If you think you’re the right person for the job, then get in touch.
Enter your name and email address, along with a bit of background about your netball experience, in the form below, and we will get back in touch with more info.
Guest Post by Anita Bean, Author of The Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition.
Proper nutritional recovery is vital to performance. Failure to replenish fluids and fuel after training can quickly result in sore muscles, fatigue and under-performance at your next training session. Here’s how to promote full recovery after a hard session:
Priority 1: Replace fluids
Your muscles cannot fully recover until your cells are properly hydrated. So make drinking your priority – start drinking while stretching, before you’ve showered. The exact amount you need to drink depends on how dehydrated you are after your workout. The ‘pee test’ will give you an idea how dehydrated you are, otherwise weigh yourself before and after training. For each 0.5 kg (1 lb approx) of body weight lost, drink 600 – 750 ml of fluid (e.g. water, diluted juice or squash, milk – but not all in one go.
Drink little and often – I suggest 100 – 150 ml every 10 or 15 minutes over the next hour or so until your urine is very pale yellow.
Priority 2: Refuel
You need to replace the fuel (carbs) that you’ve used otherwise you will feel sore, achey and tired during your next session.
Take advantage of the 30-minute window: This is when your muscles restock energy levels faster than normal. The sooner you supply your muscles with carbs and protein after training, the quicker they will repair and rebuild. So have your recovery drink/ snack ready in your kit bag or in the car to eat on your journey home.
Eat carbs with protein: To help the body repair and rebuild, you need carbs with protein in a ratio of 3: 1. Ideally you should consume approx 20g protein. You can achieve this either in the form of drink (milk) or food (see below). You don’t need commercial recovery drinks
Opt for a milk drink: Milk, flavoured milk and milk shakes are near-perfect recovery drinks. Research shows that all types of milk after training speed up fuel recovery, encourage muscle gain and even reduce muscle soreness after training. They also help rehydrate the body more effectively than sports drinks, according to recent studies. Opt for whole, semi or skimmed milk; ready-to-drink milk shakes or make your own yoghurt smoothie from fruit, yoghurt and milk OR milk shake powder and milk.
Here are some ideas for post-workout snacks supplying 20g protein:
- 500ml of milk or milkshake plus a banana
- 250ml milk or milkshake plus 2 pots of fruit yoghurt
- 500ml milk or milkshake plus an oat-based bar or flapjack
- 200ml milk or milkshake plus 1 pot yoghurt plus 1 slice of toast and honey
- Homemade milk shake: Blend 1 cup milk, 1 banana, 1 pot yogurt, 1 tbsp chopped walnuts, 1 scoop chocolate milkshake powder and 6 to 8 ice cubes
- Fruit yoghurt smoothie: whizz together 2 pots of yoghurt, 1 banana or a handful or berries and 150ml fruit juice in a blender
- 50g nuts (e.g. almonds or cashews) plus 2 pots of yoghurt
Anita Bean is also the author of the following titles:
Okay, we won’t keep you in suspense anymore. Here’s the second half of the top 10 wackiest and weirdest sports…
(And don’t forget to click on the pics for action videos.)
5. Bog snorkelling
Started in Wales in (surprise surprise) the Seventies, supposedly as a result of a conversation in a pub (as most new sports probably are), bog snorkelling involves racing through a flooded trench dug into a peat bog about 60 yards long, and then racing back again. That’s pretty much all there is to it. Competitors must wear a snorkel and flippers and aren’t allowed to try to swim. Wetsuits are not mandatory, but are probably advisable.
4. Cheese rolling
A round of Double Gloucester cheese is given a one second head start down Cooper’s Hill in the Cotswolds. Hundreds of people charge down after it. The winner is the first one to the bottom of the hill, or the person who catches up with the cheese. But seeing as it reaches speeds of up to 70mph, that never happens. The prize is the cheese, and international fame. You might not want the cheese, given where it’s been. In 1993, 15 people were injured, 4 of them seriously. Organisers received death threats in 2011 after trying to charge a high entry fee, supposedly to try and reduce the number of competitors to comply with the health and safety laws that saw the 2010 event cancelled.
3. Running of the bulls
Because as every real man knows, it ain’t a real sport unless something bleeds. Made famous by Ernest Hemingway, with the encierro at Pamplona in Spain now the best known, bull-running involves penning a bunch of bulls in the streets and then letting them run wild whilst a bunch of idiot humans run in front of them and try to avoid getting gored. The path leads to the bull-ring, where the bulls are tortured until they collapse the following day whilst the same idiot humans whoop and cheer. Over a dozen of these idiot humans have been killed by the bulls at Pamplona in the last century. The heart bleeds. Theirs, mainly. Ours, only sarcastically.
2. Tossing the caber
Perhaps the most emblematic event of the Highland Games, tossing the caber secretly impresses us weedy Sassenachs, but it still amounts to chucking a bit of a tree around. The caber is typically an almost-20ft-long pole made of larch that weighs about 80kg. The aim of tossing it is not just to achieve distance, but to have it land perfectly. The top of the caber should land nearest to the thrower, so the caber can’t just be pushed up into the air and allowed to fall. Ideally it should come to lie at exactly twelve o’clock to the thrower. He loses points the further it lands from this sweetspot, and if the caber doesn’t turn over in the air. The person throwing the caber is called a tosser. No comment.
1. Chess boxing
But surely the weirdest sport currently played is chess boxing. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Competitors play six rounds of chess in the ring, interspersed with five rounds of boxing – if both competitors last that long. Having the strongest fist won’t necessarily secure victory here. Competitors need to be equally skilled with their knights and bishops, because chess boxing matches can be won either way. The sport is currently enjoying an explosion in popularity, though the first proper matches weren’t held until 2003. Interestingly, chess boxing first appeared in 1992 – in the pages of a comic book.