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Posts by James


A Street Cat Named Bob

By James Bowen

This is the inspirational story of James Bowen, a street musician living in London. One day in March 2007 he found an injured ginger cat in the hallway of his block of flats. The moment the pair found each other was a turning point in both of their lives. Read moreRead more

Italian Language and Culture Centre SEMA

Cos’è l’Italia per voi?

Ah, Italy! What images does Italy conjure up for you? Fashion? Ferrari? Cappuccino? Gelato? Art and opera? Italy has long held a fascination for both me and my wife, especially since a good friend of ours introduced us to the Liguria several years ago.

This year, though, we decided to combine our vacation with a language course. My wife is already proficient in Italian, but for me it was a long overdue exercise. I love Italy, but with every holiday it becomes more and more frustrating not to be able to communicate in Italian and to have to stand there like an ignorant Englishman while my wife does all the talking. And what makes it all the more difficult is that the Liguria is really a region where it’s almost impossible to get by with English; the majority of tourists who visit the area are Italian.
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Captured on film: video analysis of running mechanics

Right foot

By James Gray

Eager to take every precaution in the run-up (no pun intended) to the Bupa Great North Run in September 2012, I have already subjected myself to a comprehensive sports medical, so now it was time to have my running technique pulled apart by the experts.

The analysis I opted for is offered by bständig in Vienna. It is designed to identify any flaws in running mechanics that can ultimately lead to injury and also includes recommendations for corrective measures as well as advice on running shoes.

Injuries are commonly caused by faulty mechanics and there is nothing worse than being sidelined by avoidable injury and compromising your training regime. I often suffer from a nagging knee pain and some discomfort in the hip during and after runs, and I was keen to find out if the experts at bständig could help.

I sat down with qualified sports scientist Pavle Lederer, who fired a list of questions at me to find out what my goals were and if I had any physical complaints. I was asked to perform a series of tasks – standing on one leg, stretching – and Pavle quickly came to the conclusion that my hamstrings, especially in the right leg, were very tight. It was also possible that my right leg is slightly shorter, although it would be up to a medical specialist to diagnose whether this was anatomical or muscular.

Pavle showed me a number of stretching exercises geared towards stretching out the hamstrings before measuring the pressure under each foot. From a computer printout, he was able to show me a precise mapping of the pressure and force in specific areas of the foot during walking. It emerged that I have a tendency to overpronate with the left foot (the foot rolls inward), whereas the right foot tends to roll outward (suppination).

I was then put on the treadmill and asked to run first barefoot while a video captured my technique, and then a second time with the trainers I have been using and which I intend to wear for the Great North Run. Pavle explained that my current trainers compensated well for rotation, although he recommended taking a half-size bigger for my next pair.

By performing the muscle stretching and strengthening exercises Pavle showed me, combined with some gym work, I should be able to prevent any injury as I continue training for the world’s biggest half-marathon this September.

To help me raise funds for Wakefield Hospice, make your donation quickly and easily by visiting

For more information about Wakefield Hospice visit

For more information about the video motion analysis from bständig visit bständig


James Gray takes first vital training steps with sports medical at ÖISM

Vienna-based translator and writer James Gray today took his first serious steps towards training for the Bupa Great North Run 2012, the world’s biggest half-marathon, which takes place this September. James is running to raise funds for Wakefield Hospice in West Yorkshire, UK.

The Österreichisches Institut für Sportmedizin (ÖISM) is the Austrian institute for sports medicine and is based in Vienna. It provides advice to both beginners and more ambitious athletes on physical activity, sports and nutrition.

James today underwent a sports performance test to assess his physical condition and get a better picture of his training needs for the half-marathon. A physician first measured basic values such as blood pressure, body fat percentage and lung capacity before moving on to an ECG.

“Fortunately everything is ticking over nicely!” said James, before hitting the treadmill for the physical part of the test. James was put through his paces, starting off on the treadmill at a leisurely 6km/h for three minutes. The pace was increased in 2km/h increments until James hit the wall at 14km/h.

Afterwards James was given a clean bill of health. “The results were good,” he said. “I’m in better condition than I thought, but there is still room for improvement and it’s clear I need to put in some longer runs and include some interval training.”

James is appealing to sponsors to help him raise funds for Wakefield Hospice, which provided care for his father in his final days. “Everyone is affected by cancer or a life threatening illness at some stage in their lives. Wakefield Hospice provides essential services such as emotional support and terminal care at the end of life. Every donation, however big or small, will help.”

If you wish to support James Gray and Wakefield Hospice, you can make a donation quickly and easily by visiting

For more information about Wakefield Hospice visit

For more information about the Bupa Great North Run visit

For more information about the Österreichisches Institut für Sportmedizin (ÖISM) visit

Bupa Great North Run 2012

James Gray enters Bupa Great North Run 2012 to raise funds for Wakefield Hospice

This September, Vienna-based translator and writer James Gray will be taking part in the Bupa Great North Run 2012, the world’s biggest half-marathon, to raise much needed funds for Wakefield Hospice in West Yorkshire, UK.

The inaugural Great North Run was held in 1981, when less than 5,000 runners were expected to take part. Organisers were astounded when over 12,500 applied and over 10,000 of them completed the very first race. The Bupa Great North Run is now the blue ribbon event in the Great Run series, starting in Newcastle on Tyne and ending 13.1 miles later in South Shields. Some 54,000 runners are expected to take part in the iconic event on September 16, 2012.
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