The magnificent lunacy of ultra running

This weekend I didn't do a whole lot of running myself - coming down with a cold that turned into a temperature and sore throat yesterday put paid to most of my plans. I did, however, watch an awful lot of miles being run. If only they counted as marathon training, I'd be well ahead of schedule ...

   On Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning we were at Tooting Bec track, watching the early and then the last few hours of the 24 hour track race. Yes, that is 24 hours, round and round a 400m track. Now, I love a good track session. I've been known to tot up 14, 15 miles round one at the peak of marathon training. But 24 hours? Non stop, eating on the go, through a truly grim day and night of pouring rain and autumnal-verging-on-wintery temperatures? That, my friends, is magnificent lunacy.

Why anyone would want do it is a moot question. Perhaps, as Mallory apocryphally said of climbing Everest, "because it's there". When you start to deconstruct any distance fo…

World records, and all the bling in Richmond

WHAT a weekend of running that was. From Kipchoge's peerless performance in Berlin to Kevin Mayer smashing the world decathlon record in France (neither of which, incidentally, could you watch in the UK unless you were glued to a live stream on your laptop) it was an astonishing few hours for athletics.

I've said it before, will say it again: athletics does not need gimmicky new formats or late night razzmatazz, it just needs these stories told properly. One great way to do this is to put this into a perspective we all, as runners, probably know - that of our own PBs for certain distances. This was illustrated brilliantly by Jon Mulkeen aka @Statman_Jon on Twitter yesterday. "If you were to run alongside Kipchoge, how long would you last?" he asked, before translating what 2:01:39 pace looks like across distances from 100m to 5k. Me, I reckon I'd make about 350m before doubling over and hacking up a lung. And Kipchoge did that for 42km.

Just astonishing. Then aga…

Fast times in Prague, and not just from me running away from the stag parties ...

Good morning runners! I am not-very-freshly back in the UK after a few days in beautiful Prague. Now, look: I am not remotely biased*, but it's quite obviously the most beautiful city in the entire world. As well, of course, as being the best place to carb-load on dumplings and rehydrate on beer.

Despite being half-Czech, and having been multiple times (including getting married there), I'd never actually done a race in Prague. 

And following the growth of the RunCzech series, I'd been constantly adding their races on my bucket list. Races in Prague itself, but also Karlovy Vary, České Budějovice and Olomouc - all absolutely beautiful towns. 

[To go off at a tangent, did you know that the Czech Republic has more castles per capita than any other country in the world? Ok, so possibly in a tie with Wales but with (sorry) better beer. Since I am half Czech and a quarter Welsh, should I have natural castle-building abilities? Does Lego count?]

So, anyway, on Saturday night I took …

Holiday miles (and miles, and miles)

Good morning runners! I am still on holiday in sunny Portugal. We were staying in fabulous Club Med up the road, where my training was fuelled by a dangerously good all-you-can-eat buffet, constant snacks and a permanently open bar. I did plenty of miles, but also tried some new things: archery (loved it) golf (fun but not sure I'll be rushing to the driving range again any time soon) and even an aquafit class (hilarious).

Now, though, we are spending our last couple of days in the Victoria hotel down the road. This is where the 2:09 training camp is based, which means I have the advantage of knowing every local running route, though it's rather lonelier on the track or the cross country course without the company of other runners. There's time for one more hard track session tomorrow, though, before it's back to the UK. Someone turn the temperature back up for me, yes?

 Then again, it's only a matter of days before I'm hopping on another plane, this time to Pra…

Holiday training

Just an experiment in embedding Strava data in a blogpost. As you were, everyone, as you were.

Iberian sunshine and helado

Good morning runners! Here we are in our shiny new home* and here I am in Portugal. I arrived with the family yesterday after a few days in Sunny Seville. And when I sunny, what I actually mean is "good god I've been in colder saunas than this". Running in the morning was one thing, but even I wasn't quite insane enough to try an evening recovery run when it was still nearing 40 degrees at 9pm. Though I confess I was a bit tempted ...

It was brilliant, though, to be back in Seville - where I ran the the marathon in February this year** even it made me realise quite how little of a 26.2 mile course I actually take in when I'm racing. Bits of the city would suddenly look very familiar, though largely in a "Oh yes, that's where I nearly tripped over the tram tracks" way rather than a "Oh yes, I remember admiring the magnificence of the world's largest Gothic cathedral" way. Most of it, though, was a blur.

So while back in Spain, I might no…

Welcome to the brave new world

Hello running blog regulars, and welcome to our new home! Sorry, the dust covers are still on and the builders are still making a right mess everywhere and it turns out I forgot to pre-order the new shoe rack for your muddy trainers - mind your feet by the door there - but hopefully we can still find a comfy space to talk about running together.

There were many Monday mornings when, having published the blog, I'd get caught up in other work stuff and not have a chance to look back at the comments for ages. Going back in some hours later, it was always amazing how many conversations, race reports, triumphant tales and gloomy reports of injury woes had already started. I know, without me there! I mean, who would have thought it! And as time passed, I probably started to take the cameraderie and support almost for granted. Well, the last few weeks of blogging over at the Guardian certainly stopped that in its tracks. All your stories of support and advice received, laughs had, and c…