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




I got married there
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 VaryČeské 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?]

The Obecni Dum

So, anyway, on Saturday night I took part in the Birell Grand Prix, 10km on Prague's beautiful streets, from the Obecni Dum down to the Vltava, across the river and then alongside it, with stunning views of Prague castle and the roofs of the old town. There can be few more beautiful city road races. The RunCzech series (of which I will be writing a lot more anon) is doing a brilliant job of putting together fantastic elite fields - which resulted on Saturday in the second fastest mens time and the third fastest womens time EVER - but also beautifully organised mass participation races. Those two don't go together nearly as often as they should. As I say, I'll write more about the series soon because I think what they are doing is really interesting - and boy, do they punch above their weight. The Czech Republic has a population that's not that much bigger than London's and yet they have seven gold-label IAAF races. 


Anyway, my race didn't go entirely according to plan - too busy looking around me, I managed to crash into a road barrier after about 600m - no major damage, just winded and a bit bruised, but with a good race time (for me) out of the window,  I tried to relax and just enjoy the experience. Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to run a good time and forget to take it all in - and when I'm in Prague I want to take it all in. And no, I don't just mean the beer.

Race done, I had some time to enjoy myself, visit a few family spots (including the cafe where my granny used to sneak off from school to meet her best friend - oh, and Vaclav Havel used to hang out there too) and visit a wonderful exhibition. Before heading home, just about surviving the returning stag parties on my plane. Still, Bohemia/Czechoslovakia/The Czech Republic has survived many invasions, so I suppose drunken English idiots is a mere speck on the flypaper of their history. 

So over to you - what did your weekend hold? Come speak of PBs, PWs, and tapering for autumn marathons - six days to Berlin marathon, for a start ... 


*I might be a bit biased

Comments

  1. A
    Have been to Prague once and it was breathtakingly beautiful, from your description of the race it sounds like I should revisit next beer, sorry I mean year. As for me I had a nice relaxed weekend and only did Parkrun. Pretty dreich weather but it was so good to just run and whilst it wasn't my fastest it wasn't my slowest and I felt all the better for it.

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  2. Sounds wonderful Kate, and hope the hip is healing.
    I’m hopefully swimming round the scilly isles this weekend so a tapering couple of weeks for me, which is lucky given my husband has been away all weekend so no running in favour of looking after the bananarettes instead. Had to watch the GNR to get my fix.

    Currently enjoying treadmill interval sessions - seems I commit more when I can’t just stop (of course I know you can on a treadmill but you know what I mean). Did my 800s next to a runner last week who casually ran at 18kph, a 16 min 5 k’er no less. She has/did inspire me to run faster so I will try!!

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    1. Enjoy the Scillies, I assume it's the Scilly Swim Challenge? It's a great set of swims, well organised plus lots of tea and cake. Also good trail running there if you have time - you can run all the way round St Mary's in a couple of hours, it's around 17-18km.

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    2. Yes it is, and thanks for the positive review! A good confidence boost. I’ve heard that there’s a lot of cake loading, as long as don’t make myself sick! I’m going to pack my trainers and hoping to run if time allows. I’ll report back next week!

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    3. I've just read up on the Scilly Swim Challenge R&B and it sounds like a great event! I'm sure you're going to have a blast. I look forward to hearing about it all!

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    4. Oooh, what do you do for treadmill intervals? I've not been brave enough yet -I've only ever used it for easy runs. Most people seem to report they run fast for the same effort on a treadmill but I seem to find it harder most of the time. I'd like to make more use of mine though. Thinking maybe a little 5min hill each day might be good and not anything which would overload training. What do you think?

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    5. Hi Gill. I tend to do the same sort of thing you’d do outside but find I am less inclined to take my foot off the gas when on a treadmill eg. 4x1200, 6x800, 12x400. I tend to play around within a range for speed and recovery times but you get used to it after a bit. For example if you want to improve 5k time you could do 6x800m at desired 5k time and then reduce the recovery time (time in between the 800m) as you progress. If you’re new to running faster on a treadmill you could always just do your easy run and then ramp up the speed at the end to see how you feel (hovering over the emergency stop if needed!) I tend to do less hillwork in a treadmill as I am surrounded by hills so cover that in road work. But definitely would help if you tend to run on the flat more. In terms of speed versus road, mine is pretty comparable. I think some report they run faster/others slower. Hope that helps? (Disclaimer - I’m no expert!!)

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  3. Prague is great, would like to do a race at some point there, but I imagine it's quite hard to get into.
    GNR for me, probably the warmest race I've done yet (Forecasts and boards said 17, but talking to others and the sunburn over my shoulders seems to suggest it was warmer than that). Not a PB but a course best of 1:31:30 and 629th overall (for some context of the heat, 629th last year was 1:28:06).
    It's really a great thing for the region, and when I become emperor of the North East I'm going to declare the day after a regional bank holiday (No, this has nothing to do with the fact that I'm at work today). Just the way all sorts end up doing it, from the fancy dress and people just walking with beer, to the elites and serious club runners, then the pubs all over the region are full on the night of people struggling to walk. Going to start focusing on full marathons from next year, but if ever there is a day I don't want to do the GNR, just pull the plug on me please.

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    1. Well done! Brought back memories of 2012 and 2016 for me. I watched the GNR live in Sydney last night. Ridiculous how easy Sir Mo looked for most of the race. Although kudos also to the Kiwi Jake Robertson who finished 2nd and just broke the hour barrier.

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    2. It's the strange thing with competing in it is that you don't actually know much about the elite race, but I heard he completely walked it (OK, not literally, but you know what I mean), I don't think he was that far off the WR either

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    3. He was well off the WR (relatively ofc) but it was still a very good run...he seems to be in solid form for Chicago however for what should be an intriguing race with Rupp, among others. Shame they've brought back pacers mind.

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  4. Greetings all from a springtime Sydney. Once again, time prevents a fuller debrief, but in summary...

    Saturday was a kind-of special parkrun. There was a global parkrun conference in Sydney and many of the delegates, including the esteemed CEO, were in attendance at my parkrun. Only discovered that morning! Huge numbers from a variety of nations made it a great experience. Managed to run an even split 5km to notch a 17:38 and third finisher to boot. My actual target pace was way slower and apart from the last km when I was in a "podium" position, I didn't feel like I was putting in more than 80% effort. Hopefully a good sign? Or maybe it was a fluke?

    Sunday was a solo 23km plod. I usually have some company on a Sunday so it felt a bit weird to be on my own but no dramas with the run itself.

    This coming Sunday is the Blackmores Sydney HM. This could be anything from heroic to pathetic and anything in between. Need to heed Asta's sage words from the other week... "Don't second guess yourself." Oh, and maybe "run faster".

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    1. Good luck for Sunday, reckon you’ve got a good time coming.

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  5. Rhonex's run was extraordinary, he barely looked like he breaking sweat for most of it. The RunCzech organisation is incredible, though they might try to liven up the commentators a bit, they sound like a cure for insomnia on the race highlights.

    I had my latest 10k attempt on Sunday, a couple of weeks on having been 'robbed' of a PB by a short course. This time Junior Handsome was the biggest threat having picked up a bug at Kita - I finally succumbed on Thursday but thankfully it was just a quick one and by Saturday pm I was fine again. I managed to meet a clubmate in the starting pen and knowing he was aiming for sub-45 as well allowed us to team up. And, basically, that was that - 42:49, a PB of well over 2 minutes, and having gone through the first couple of km sharpish, it was never in doubt as I could tell any remnants of my cold were gone and I was feeling great. There was even a 'Once a Runner' like moment in the Tierpark when some sort of horses seemed to run along beside us - rather fitting to our level, they looked more like donkeys than thoroughbreds.

    While I wouldn't say it easy, the whole thing was remarkably controlled. It wasn't pain-free either but at no point did I feel in bother...running with Helge got me into the pace quickly and made sure I didn't do anything rash when feeling good at halfway. I even flew home through the last couple, ensuring a (very rare for me) negative split and pipping someone on the line in a sprint finish. It's remarkable that you can have a goal for so long and when it happens it feels somewhat anti-climatic, no fighting, no desperate sums on the run and no clinging on...but I guess that's a combination of a little luck (perfect weather, mate to run with, cold not arriving 36 hours later) and a lot of training.

    Anyway, there will be a relaxed week to come before a couple of hasty longer runs to prepare for the Müggelsee HM and some 'fun' events where the odd distances mean racing for places rather than times to end the season early in November. I had planned to be a bit more structured again next year but training-plan free 2018 seems to have worked out rather well.

    Well done to everyone racing or otherwise and good luck to those doing Berlin next Sunday. I'll be the 30-minute pacer at the Hasenheide parkrun should anyone wish to say hi.

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    1. Absolutely brilliant HD! You've absolutely smashed your PB. Funny how your description of it being not easy but remarkably controlled matches up with pretty much every PB race I've ever done. Some days it just all clicks and all that training is justified!

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    2. That's a great result HD, congratulations on the massive PB!

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    3. That was a great run HD, miles inside your target. From your description sounds like you raced it really well too.

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    4. Sounds like great racing! I’d love to have a day when it all comes together but good to know it can do!!

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    5. It was a fabulous run HD. You're on such good form.

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    6. Jeez HD, that's some improvement. Congratulations. Hopefully I'll see you at Hasenheide.

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    7. Well done HD. That was a cracking run and huge new PB!

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    8. Congratulations! Terrific run!

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    9. A very belated but heartfelt congrats HD! That's a huge huge PB!

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  6. Afternoon everyone!

    More intervals for me on Friday - 6x800m with 250-500m recoveries... nearly on-pace... felt hard, but they should, right?

    A couple of easy runs over the weekend then another tempo-race coming up this lunch time - 8.3k for me vs 7k for my running companion... he won last week with 8.4 vs 7, I've revised my targets slightly for the Birmingham Half in October so I get to do 8.3 this week instead :) Will report back shortly how that goes.

    Now I want to go to Prague... that's an excellent-looking cake (and architecture blah blah blah of course...).

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  7. Just a couple of runs this weekend; a short recovery run early on Saturday, ahead of a trip to Oxford to see the Tolkien exhibition and dig around in Blackwells; then on Sunday a 13 mile run, my last long-ish run ahead of Berlin. I started out a little too quickly, running close to MP, through the middle third of the run I wondered how long I should keep a quick pace going. In the end I switched off after mile 10 and ran home comfortably in the 6:3x/6:4y range. This week will be mainly recovery running with a short 2.5 mile blast around MP on Wednesday.

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    1. Best wishes for this coming Sunday! You're (as usual) in great shape. Can't wait for your race report next week.

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    2. Cheers LM, I'm looking forward to the weekend, hope to execute well.

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    3. Good luck DavID (love the new moniker), you'll be brilliant!

      LM, hard to believe it was a year ago we were trotting around Hyde Park!

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    4. Good luck at Berlin - can't wait to hear back. Berlin is one of my fondest running memories as it was an out of the blue free place, a better than expected time and I got to meet Kate and a few of the GRB (TMD) gang.

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    5. Best of luck DavID - you're going to smash it.

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    6. Good luck in Berlin David! Will be watching out / tracking/ stalking Strava to see how you go!

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  8. Had my first post-marathon run on Saturday. Meant to do it earlier in the week but was having lots of trouble getting up in the morning and I was on vacation, so I decided to just leave it, although I do regret not having been able to get a few more runs in while in Ireland. Oh well!

    Ended up running Saturday and Sunday, purely because I wanted to. My post-marathon runner's high is still in full effect and I've been running very happy. I'll spend another week just training as I want to and then I need to think about what kind of training I want to do... I have a hilly 27k coming up in mid-October, then possibly a trail 61k in early November.

    It's safe to say I've been well and truly bit by the marathon bug. I was already looking for new races in the airport on my way home!

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  9. Have to agree in the loveliness of Prague.
    Had A very pleasant weekend. Autumn definitely on its way, but had pretty perfect weather for a 16mile run on Saturday. Bit cooler than it has been, but not so cool it was cold when you stopped. Nice run from Grantown to Dava and back on the Dava way, an old railway line. Good practice for the Dramathon as the underfoot conditions are similar. Paced it nice and easy, tired after but not sore.
    Easy bike ride yesterday, great way to recover and get the legs moving. Beautiful yellows and reds, lovely. Until the freezing downpour inside the last 5 miles - a reminder to dig out gear that’s more suited to autumn weather! Usually need it all summer as well, but this has been an exceptional year.
    Saw some superb performances on Strava this weekend, keep up the good work all!

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    1. Sounds a lovely weekend. I'm looking forward to Dramathon too, booked it so long ago I'd almost forgotten about it. Weather definitely turning now though. Will prepare for all eventualities on the big day

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    2. Doing the full or the half? Did the half last year and loved it, full this year. I’ve done 5 races so far this year, weather has been exceptionally good for all of them. Either that will continue or i’m due an epic bad weather day!

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    3. Half for me, hope the good run weather streak continues for all our sakes 😁

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  10. Ran the longest run yesterday - 23 miles, complete success apart from the hamstring injury which has been building up over the past 3 weeks! So I went to the physio this morning and he said no running for a week, to begin with, then we can re-assess. He mentioned things like 're-phasing into the plan, perhaps reducing speed work and volume and 'completing' the marathon rather than aiming for an optimal time. He's a fantastic running physio from Pure Sports Medicine, been on the radio and everything so he knows his stuff.

    Me no like.

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    1. So unfortunate about your hammy KYD. But you are as good as anyone I know about being sensible. Can you cross-train in the meantime?

      FWIW, I don't think speedwork is that essential for marathon training unless you are in elite / sub-elite territory. And that is the kind of training that will aggravate your hammy.

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    2. An easy week shouldn't have too much impact after all your efforts...don't panic. Yet.

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    3. Never fun to get the "no running" prescription but as the others have said, no need to get too downhearted - a week off at this stage won't make too much difference for York.

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    4. A week off is such a frustration in a training block. But rest is just about the best medicine. Try not to worry about the contingency planning until you reassess, maybe you will be doing much better. In the meantime, enjoy the laundry break!

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    5. I’ve avoided the physio to avoid the ‘no run’ before - that is really stupid and doesn’t end well. Good on you for being much more sensible than me, annoying but take the advice and keep your fingers crossed!

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    6. I hope it is just a week off - that should have barely any impact on your target race. It's a chance for your body to absorb the training while taking a small break from the stresses of training.

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    7. 'He's a fantastic running physio from Pure Sports Medicine, been on the radio and everything so he knows his stuff'
      You should probably do as he suggests... (I know you don't want to hear that).

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    8. Fingers crossed a week off will do the trick and you'll be back on the road soon.

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    9. Use your new bike more during the week away from running, if only to keep you from going nuts! I'm sure you won't lose any form in this time.

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    10. Oh that's so frustrating to hear - I hate hamstring injuries, they take too long to recover from and they're so hard to treat. I've been to PureSports and do think they know their stuff.

      I've run more PBs after injuries than I have after clear training schedules though, so I wouldn't give up hope of a good time if you take the time off to recover properly now...! 90% of marathon performance is in the head once you've put in the miles.

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    11. The thing is, if you have done your longest run, you are basically now in a holding pattern until the race anyway. So don't worry about it at all. Rest and tapering may very well clear it up by themselves, and then you'll be in great form on race day.

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    12. Yes, I’m hoping the enforced rest will sweep up any other niggles too.

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  11. Prague is nice as long as you avoid the tourist hell of Prague 1 and 2. The city parks in the 6 and 7 areas are really nice for running and the last decade has seen an influx of good coffee shops which are a necessity for quality of life.

    I ran a race too this weekend, although it was in Frankfort, Kentucky, which is a few notches down from Prague in just about every capacity. Fewer tourists - none, actually - does give it one up on Prague in something. For those who aren't aware (which is probably everyone here), Frankfort is the small town (20k population maybe) that serves as the state capital. Also, no one goes there for the food.

    I'd avoided racing since my total literal meltdown at an overheated (36C) road 5k in July. But this was a fun trail course and I remembered that I won a gift card for dog food there last year so I figured my long-suffering non-outdoorsy dog would support my going to this one.

    Will run for dog food.

    The week had been insufferably hot and humid but Saturday was 19C and on the verge of rain. We gathered in the parking lot for the start, with the more badass of the competitors stubbing out their cigarettes before the whistle. I'm not kidding. This is a tobacco state so healthy lifestyle be damned.

    I felt good for most of the race although there was a section at the end that featured abrupt serpentine turns on a steep hillside. That was hard. But I finished strong and feeling like I can race again without worrying about falling apart. 2nd female and top 10 overall and I could come home and not fear the wrath of Dolly because I won that gift card to the pet food emporium.

    Yesterday it rained so hard all day that I was relegated to a 45-minute run on the treadmill. More of the same for the week, with a hurricane expected to blow through. Sounds like we're headed into wet feet season a little early.

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    1. Wow. That is quite a race report! Congratulations

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    2. Well done on the podium finish! [Re: that 5k in July, I can't really imagine what racing in 36C would be like.]

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  12. I'm not quite sure where the week went to, but by the weekend I was aware that is not run much and certainly no cycling! So on Saturday morning I went out for a run with no game plan but found myself starting closer to home and finding as many inclines/hills as possible. The aim eventually was just to run nice and slowly. Add it was I notched up 9.4 miles by the time I got home. If it hadn't been for an engagement I couldn't get out of it have kept running! Then yesterday I did another 7.5 miles in increasingly heavy rain. Somehow, it was more fun than it sounds. The plan then was you ride with friends in the afternoon but they pulled out due to the heavy showers that kept falling. Add I was already changed, I went out for an hour and a quarter and got thoroughly wet! Got to try and get another long run in this week sometime.

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    1. Dreich weather is here for the forseeable I fear so we best get used to it. Cracking mileage, I need to hit something close to 10 miles this weekend

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  13. I decided to overcome my privacy paranoia and port myself across platforms. I was non descriptive over on the blog - hello!

    My challenge this "Fall" is to really race. My coach and her coaching friend agree that my heart rate data, combined with my inability to keep a smile off my face in race photos, suggest I am not pushing myself to my limits. I know I can run faster - but I don't quite know how to make myself do it.

    This weekend I tried racing against 19 and 20 year olds, travelling with my university's running club to Buffalo for a cross country meet. It turned out I was faster than the lot of them! I gradually overtook the leaders in the first mile or so. I was running on my own from there, with only the fear that one of them would put in a killer final kick to push me along. I did manage to keep the pace up in the middle section, but I slowed in the final km.

    Any tips or reading recommendations on running (and racing) psychology? One area I might work on is goal setting.

    On the topic of cross country, I had a go at recruiting some of my teammates to the #runequal campaign but to no avail. No-one can explain why we ran 5km and the blokes 8km. A quick google suggests these are still the distances in "junior" cross country events in the US, though "grown ups" all do 10km. The verdict among our small women's team was "5km is long enough". I diagnose this as more acquiescence to the way things are than firm belief in the virtue of particular race distances.

    8km does seem an odd distance - but it's surprisingly common. I counted at least three 8km road races I've done over the past year. I can't stand the idea that we should keep doing things this way because that's what we've always done.

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    1. From First to Last by Charlie Spedding is good for psychological insight.

      I reckon 8km is the perfect cross country race although it's just a feeling as to why...clearly it's an entirely subjective matter.

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    2. The Charlie Spedding book is very good, and I also really enjoyed Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor. I bought it for my holiday but read it before I left it was so good! You can get it on Amazon. Great running btw.

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    3. ‘Really race’ - have you been soft pedalling all this time?!
      From what you’ve doen, sure the coaches are right and you’ll do really well.
      Not a running book, and a totally different type of racing, but I found ‘The Rider’ by Tim Krabbe a great insight into the psychology of bike racing. It’s a good read too, and short!

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    4. I'm in the 'Beer Drinkers Guide to Sports Psychology' chapter of Spedding's book today! It's compulsory reading during a marathon taper - or should be. His race reports of his first marathon in Houston and the '84 Olympic marathon are really good.

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    5. I don't want to see you without a smile on your face! But your running is pretty incredible at the moment so perhaps you should try the grumpy approach.

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    6. About time, glad you here Brussels (that's going to turn out to be another prize, isn't it...)

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    7. Now *that* would be a prize! Any local race directors reading this, please take note

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    8. I recommend going to YouTube and watching post-race interviews with Jenny Simpson and Nick Willis. They're both so race savvy and can talk about it in very articulate, lucid, logical terms. It helps you see how a good racer thinks and also that their kind of self-race-talk is possible even for those of us of lesser physiologies.

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    9. Funnily, Brussels/nondescriptive, as soon as I read that your coach thinks that you could run faster I found myself nodding in agreement. And don't ask me why, it's just one of those hunches you get. I have no advice on how to get faster though, I'm just glad that you also know how to run slowly! This will help if I can work out a practical travel itinerary down to Virginia and we can meet up.

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    10. So much of racing is in the head...!

      Charlie Spedding's book looks awesome - have ordered it. Thanks for the recommendation

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    11. One thing that works for me for race psychology is pushing myself to a pace that I know I /should/ be able to do, then distracting myself just enough to not notice how much it hurts - however, if I distract myself too completely I slow down. For me, that means concentrating really hard on my right elbow and looking ahead to the top of a random tree or something ahead. Just keep it going to that tree. Then the next one... And so on.

      The elbow helps because it it in sync with the motion but doesn't hurt while pushing, the trees ahead work because they keep my head up high... But the key is for it not to be something interesting that will take my mind off the process of running - I need to concentrate hard on keeping running fast, but in a way where I don't notice my legs screaming. It's a delicate balance and one that takes a lot of practice to maintain for more than a few minutes. But it's worked well to deliver me a number of PBs.

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  14. We took our running shoes with us to our orchestra weekend and ran up the hill behind before breakfast.
    We found it steep and we are slow but it was very peaceful in the early morning and a great antidote to sitting for two days.

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  15. First foray into the Monday Debrief (on the Guardian or otherwise)! I had a very good outing at the Great North Run, my second ever half marathon. I managed to break my PB by 3 minutes (down to 2:11). Would have loved to get under 2:10 but the amount of weaving, and a gridlock following a medical emergency around mile 4 pushed me back. But still very happy! Absolutely LOVED the atmosphere and support. The North East really put its best foot forward. I feel like I really reconnected with the joy of running (smug as that sounds!). Next challenge still to be decided on. I’m looking for a fast-ish autumn half marathon to try and get my time down a bit further, anyone have any good ideas?!

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    1. Congrats on the PB! I know of a super fast half/full marathon nearer to my neck of the woods but it's a. in 2 weeks and b. quite far from you, probably so it may be useless. But just in case, the Wachau Marathon is known for being a very speedy course.

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    2. That sounds perfect except for a) the timing and b) it’s quite a long way away! It might be one to add though, it looks like a beautiful course. Good luck if you’re running it!

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    3. It's a very nice place for a vacation, very well-known for great wine as well. I have other races on the docket so won't be doing it this year, but hope that I'll be able to fit it in one year.

      Do you know about ahotu.com and myraceland.com? Those two serve me really well when looking for races. There's probably something UK-specific as well but I'm not so well-versed there.

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  16. Prague was one of my husband's first abroad marathons and it was great as a spectator and i think it was a pretty fast course from what he said. Though difficult to compare times as he's gotten a lot better since then.
    I managed to get back to running this week despite a little bit of back pain early in the week. My husband and i went for a recce run around the neighbourhood, found the nearby track and then up to the River Seine north of Paris. It wasn't the nicest of runs as it's very busy both shops and traffic and polluted. Thursday we went to the track to do some intervals...we haven't joined a club yet so just went i tried to do the session my old club did (still on the mailing list ;) - 10x500m), although only manage 8 reps as i had no speed in my legs and back was a little sore. At the end there was a big group of runners starting their session and my husband got chatting to the organiser who said they were 'Adidas Runners Batignolles' and that we should come along and join them.
    Friday i read something that said back pain might be a result of tight hamstrings and to stretch them when on the floor (not from standing) so i tried that and seemed to get a little relief which is helping.
    Saturday i did parkrun and managed a 10s improvement on the previous week and tried to be confident and chat to people, which given they are mostly british and at least english speaking it's a bit easier. There's a couple of girls who i made friends with the previous week and i embarrassingly managed to dress the same as one of them bar the trainers.
    Sunday i plucked up the courage to join the Adidas Runners on their long run from Paris to Versailles which was meant to be 16km, though they had to cut it short by 1km due to another event happening at the original meet point. The route is much hillier than i'm used to but i managed to run the whole route apart from pauses (they stop at turn points to regroup as lots of different levels of runners in the group) and even managed to chat to a few of them in french which is certainly something for me given that i don't really speak french. Hopefully i didn't say anything too stupid. I even learnt a new word - côtes = hills... je n'aime pas les côtes! :D
    Tonight it the first night of training for the Stade France running club after a summer break (who knew running clubs have summer breaks), and my husband is still away for work so going to have to do pigeon french again... :/ at least my back seems ok after the long run so we'll see!

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    1. Just watch out if anyone mentions murs. Don’t want to be going up any murs!

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    2. Looking forward to following your adventures in France!

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    3. Or into any murs - you don't want to do that either. I'll be honest - I'm really jealous of you running and living in Paris!

      Re. back pain - one of the exercises my physio prescribed for my back was targeting hamstrings, so I'm sure there's something in that.

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    4. Great news Pip about getting out and about in Paris, especially when you don't feel confident with the language. I'm not sure I'd have had the confidence to join in with a running group so soon!

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    5. Many congrats for joining the club - what an awesome way to meet people in a new city!

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    6. Thanks guys! Joining the running clubs is the only way for me to get out and about as I work from home so would go mad as my husband is away and the only way I have of making friends. just having to be brave even if I don't feel it the whole time.

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  17. I'm with kyd in the knackered hamstring camp - only a couple of 30 minute tester runs this week, and while yesterday's wasn't niggle-free, it was an improvement on the one earlier in the week. Physio's pleased with progress so hopefully after another week on short-rations I'll be let off the leash.

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    1. Good to hear LB. Despite my doom & gloom, my coach isn't too dispondant about performance issues if I follow the physio's advice and things improve over the next 2 weeks. It's just so bloody frustrating.

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    2. yes, far more important to get to the start line niggle free than worry about missing a few sessions. I actually have to admit that not setting the alarm for a 17-miler this weekend was quite joyous! Probably needed the rest mentally as well.

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    3. I feel your pain. I didn't manage my part of the long run either, in my case due to extraordinary jet lag (see below) but I don't have the excuse of an injury...

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  18. Sorry to hear about the crash in your race, Kate. I think it's quite a common occurrence in races - especially when everyone is bunched up at the start.

    I had a race yesterday. Sky Pilot in Squamish, BC. This race usually comes in 4 flavours. 25km and 14km and also those two distances but with an abseiling section to cut out the really steep descent. Anyway a large storm was forecast so the organisers cancelled the abseiling bits and rerouted the 25km a little.
    I did the 14km which had 800m of vertical in it and I found it quite hard.
    We started off on a small side loop, just to space people out before the big climb started and there were a few people trying to shove through the crowd on that section. Pfff.
    So onto the 400m climb which was up through mud, roots and rocks for the first half, then smooth and steep granite for the second half. There were fixed ropes on the steeper sections to pull yourself up with, but it does get into your head if you start thinking about what would happen if you fell backwards going up.
    A quick circle around the top of the mountain and then down the same way we had come up. Going down the granite was much worse than going up. You just have to relax and trust your shoes. Some people were freaking out a little going down especially on the gravelly sections but I managed to keep it together. Nothing bad would have happened like going off a cliff or anything, but it was quite nerve-wracking. Then lots of down through the forest including quite a long section hanging onto a rope. Finally, the race finished with a 300m climb in about 1.5 km including some more climbing on granite. I finished in 2:17 and was happy with that but I was really tired for the rest of the day.
    The storm held off until the last 2km when I was doing the final climb. Between me starting the climb and the end of the prizegiving was around 2 hours and by then 30mm of rain had fallen. So it was a big adventure and I got really wet and cold at the end, but it was fantastic.

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    1. Hmm. not sure why it is showing me as unknown.
      That was me, Glenn Nicholls, Vancouver, Canada posting that.

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    2. Well done Glenn - must have been quite an effort just to complete it. Can't see me doing one of those to be honest. Not sure if you had to cross the suspension bridge, but something like that would be a real trial - there are some things where I have no head for heights...

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    3. No. We didn't have to do that. The races tend to avoid them. If you get 20 people running across them the resonant forces can get quite high and might make the bridge unsafe. There was enough feeling of exposure without the suspension bridge in there.

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  20. First ever trail run this weekend. Swisspeaks 15k. It was at Bouveret, right at the end of Lake Geneva. It’s a beautiful setting and the weather was bright and sunny.

    The up bit was hard and exhausting. The down bit was hard and terrifying. The flat bit at the end was long and tiring. Surprisingly I enjoyed it and I will definitely do another one!

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    1. I am going to miss the mountains so much....despite having to go so slowly on them....I cannot decide whether the breathless up or the kneeknackering down is worse.

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  21. Struggling to find the Berlin marathon on the telly (UK). Anyone know if it’s being shown anywhere - or will it have to be a streamung job? I’m sure it was on cooncil telly last year - i remember the very long vests in the pace makers (think that was Berlin!)

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    1. You might get it on the red button? If you have a vpn the ARD mediathek will have it on stream.

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    2. I'll look into this - other half will know. Almost sure it'll be streamed somewhere - and probably on Eurosport if you have that?

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  22. Just a nice easy 10 miles for me on Sunday on the most perfect of early autumn days. It was meant to be an easy run but I didn't have a lot of choice as the headwind was brutal. As a result it turned into a first half progressive second half steady pacing-wise - if I"d been clever I could have done a symmetrical mirror image of pacing on Strava (it did occur to me while running that I could do this, but I couldn't be bothered to make the effort).

    Rutland water half next weekend, with no expectations other than enjoying running in a beautiful place before the weather starts to get horrible and I have to start training for Broadway (i.e. up lots of hills and through mud).

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    1. I don't know about you Ruby, but if there is a strong wind I always prefer to run/cycle into it at the start and hope that the wind hasn't changed direction on the return journey. My other running technique in strong winds is to find as many hedges as possible!
      Good luck with Rutland, I'm sure you'll have lots of fun!

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  23. I entered the week having done my furthest ever distance of 19miles last weekend, all in aid of gearing up to the Amsterdam Marathon in October.

    With a severe case of the sniffles I was rather dubious about a 5km timed race alongside colleagues and in Regents Park but put in an (for me) admirable 22:11.

    The weekend meant Tough Mudder in place of a long run, and I think 10miles with enforced ice baths and mudslides is rather a fun addition to a marathon training plan!

    I really need to get back to a regular running routine this coming week though, as I have been struggling to fit in midweek runs of late and am starting to fear undertraining! I need to get my star chart back out (I'm not joking!)

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  24. 16kms for me on Friday followed by Telford parkrun on Saturday morning. It was a strange one, it felt like it was downhill most of the way although my time was nothing special. But it was a lovely run through a leafy park in the centre of town that felt miles away from anywhere. Now there are just a few short runs to keep the legs turning before Sunday and plans A, B and C to formulate.



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  25. That strudel looks superb Kate! Love Prague also, and was lucky enough to get there for the first time in 93, before the stag dos arrived.

    Not so great this week for me, running-wise. The plan said a 9, another 9, and then an 18, which was a huge jump from last week, but I'd done 9, 5, and 16 the week before so I figured it wasn't beyond the realms of possibility.

    The two 9ks went really well - the first on the treadmill on Thursday and the second outdoors on Friday - and I was really pleased to manage that distance on two consecutive days for the first time in ages.

    It had been feeling ever so slightly cooler in the mornings here, and even though it was forecast to be boiling on Sunday, I figured if I could get out early enough I should be OK. I was out the door by 6:20, but the sun was already blazing down, and by 5km I knew the game was up. I did 9km, had a massive 2km walk break, and then managed to run another 3km home. I was vaguely pleased that I did at least run the last 3km, but with three months to go to the marathon and me barely even managing 30km a week, things aren't looking promising at the moment.

    Still, the temps are forecast to drop rapidly this week, and as I type this at 8am Tuesday morning, it's a positively Baltic 20 degrees, so I'm just hoping I can get back into the groove of it over the next couple of months.

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  26. Great to read about everyone's exploits!

    A quieter weekend for me, in preparation for the Crathes half next Saturday. I did a 10k very early on Friday morning over a new route. Quite hilly in parts and I was just under my PB. Felt hard though - I suspect partly due to having been working in London, home late and not too much sleep.

    A fairly full-on horsey day in Sat - my lesson wasn't far off cross-training as my super-steed was on flying form. My core got a good work-out.

    Sunday - a short and slow mooch with the pooch, spiced up with some hill sprints. The pooch just doesn't 'get' the point of these. It was a bit too warm for my autumn running vibe. I'm hoping for cooler for Saturday!

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  27. The GNR for me this weekend. I was aiming to get as close to 2 hours as I could but figured I would finish somewhere between 2:05 - 2:15. Crossed the line at just under 2:10. I was on course for sub 2 hours at 10 mile but then the heat got to me. Plus I got discouraged when I was overtaken by someone dressed as Scoobydoo…. 'pesky kids'.

    This was my first GNR and agree that the support is fantastic, particularly along the finish at South Shields. I've never entered a race as big as this before but I expect this GNR will be a one off as I prefer smaller, lower key events. I got irritated by having to dodge around so many folk who were walking, though to be fair other folk running faster than me probably got irritated trying to get past me. Yeah, it was pretty congested all the way.

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  29. Forgive me TMD for I have sinned. I filtered you. I know I know, it was foolish and callous amd as a result I was wondering why no one had commented when actually it was my own fault. I shall now go and remove said filter so that I don't miss your lovely voices in the future. This weeked the Blands all went on the run. Mr B rang to parkrun, did park run and ran back with the Mini B. I did the same but with a bit extra mileage thrown in and an allegedly Half Marathon Pace effort at the end for the last 20 of the 90mins . Coach said maximum of 6'40 pace but anything under 7 would be fine... so of course this stubborn runner did 6'39 but I'm not sure it would really be fair to call it HMP as it was definitely time to stop by the end. We'll see what Sunday and Harrow Half Marathon brings. I'll be thinking of all you Berlin runners. I plan to run to feel and then try and man up on the second half but this will be by far the furthest and longest effort level run in well over a year so it's going to be an interesting one. Also, the MiniB has suddenly decided to complain occasionally in his running buggy (just a little shout and then fine again - could have been he was tired - he refuses to nap in it) and Mr B has had a calf niggle so who knows what will happen on Sunday. We're not sure if we're being complete idiots but we'll both have our phones on us and we know the area and loads of the marshalls so if it all goes pearshaped Mr B will pull over and ring me.

    Prague sounds like a fantastic place to race. My parents went there a few years ago and were huge fans. I look forward to hearing more about races there, I reckon it's an achievable destination.

    Finally, there's a little bot of FOMO as I see peope entering Boston for next year. But also very excited for you all!

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  30. Well hello all - what a lot of wonderful running everyone is doing!

    I have mixed emotions at present - I had another week of international travel - flew out to Philadelphia on Tuesday and back on the red eye on Thursday evening/Friday morning. Managed to fit in a few treadmill runs in Philly and fitted in a 21km MP/HMP combo on Friday afternoon once back - so I was feeling ok about the week - but then the jet lag kicked in hugely on Sunday morning and I only managed 7.5km of what should have been my 38km longest run. Wasn't fast, either.

    Am sure it was the right thing to bin the run and go back to bed for a couple of hours, but am feeling hugely frustrated as one way or another I seem to have missed a bunch of longer runs in this marathon build up cycle - the spadework and shorter (to half-marathon distance) runs have all been fine but at the end of the day it's the miles in the legs that prepare you for the big race.

    Back in Philadelphia again this week so facing another week of slightly interrupted training. Going to be running the Richmond Half on Sunday but I am worried that the jet lag is going to hit me again - it seems to take a day or so to kick in, which should be "perfectly timed" for the race... And then I have to fly to LA on Sunday after the race so next week doesn't look much better either.

    Guess in the grand scheme of things these are first world problems but it's frustrating to watch the window of potential great performance gradually closing ahead of you.

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    1. Race training while traveling is supremely frustrating, especially when long-haul flights are involved. And it seems like you are traveling quite a bit! Is it ever possible for you to try to fit in a long run right before travel, as in either the same day or the day before? It's also probably not ideal and maybe hard to schedule, but at least more ideal than trying to push yourself through a 38k while jetlagged. At least then your more sedentary day is a recovery day? Although you'd probably have to force yourself up and around in the aircraft more or risk getting very stiff.

      Otherwise, I dunno. You'll get lots of commiseration from me. International travel and the related jetlag/exhaustion was one of the big factors in my disastrous, 30 min personal worst half marathon time in the spring. In general I struggle a lot with balancing my work life with my personal running goals. I nearly gave up on training for my last race because of work deadlines.

      I hope you can figure something out and feel like you're back on it soon.

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    2. I think you’re doing remarkably well given all the travel and jet lag, i know I couldn’t do it! Only had bad jet lag once (a 5 day trip to Perth, Oz), left me feeling really dizzy and completely spaced out, horrible.
      Fingers crossed the jet leg doesn’t hit for your race, but I guess it’ll be what it is. So don’t be disappointed if it’s something not in your control.

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  31. I just went to see the surgeon about my bad 'big toe' which was fractured 2 years ago and has been painful since.

    Her: "blah blah blah not much we can do surgically blah blah blah....one problem I can see though is that you have a really tight calf-muscle. This means that when you land on your heel you roll onto your toe too quickly, putting extra pressure on it"

    Me: "I don't land on my heel, I am a forefoot runner and land on my toes"

    Her: "Well that's the problem, your tight calf is making you run incorrectly, you should land on your heel"

    Me: 😶 😶 😶 😶 😶 😶 😶

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    1. Toe-tally predictable...

      I wish it were easier to find doctors who were equipped/motivated to help you recover athletic performance, vs just "get you back to standard health"

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    2. Oh dear asta! I can virtually see the steam coming off of you! It's amazing how so called experts actually know so little.

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    3. That would be funny Asta, if it wasn't so sad. I'm surprised that she didn't suggest selotaping cushions to your feet to lessen the impact!
      Keep up the x-training, that's if you're doing any!

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    4. Did you at that point stand up and walk out??

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  32. Started a new Autumn regime - hills, intervals and a longer run each week. Hope to build up to some PB efforts. Although nothing in the league of the many extraordinary performances above.
    Bought a new GPS running watch a while ago and its more accurate (?) timing revealed that sadly my previous PBs had all been overly flattering. Oh well, just another impetus to Run Faster?

    On the Big Toe Tale, I'd be careful about seeing any surgeons - for them every problem eventually looks like it needs a scalpel, and you may end up with a recommendation to reduce your toe count - I mean, if it's not there it can't hurt, right?

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  33. Hi, I never actually posted on the Guardian website and have only just got into running this month. I'd seen the monday debrief in the past, so headed over to the guardian to read it only to find it had stopped. Pleased to see it continue on a blog (proper too; not on FB!)

    I've signed up to the Glasgow 10km ( my friends are doing the half marathon) and just started training. I'm hoping it all goes well, and maybe in a years time I'd do the half too)

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    1. Welcome!! Really lovely to see new faces here as well as the regulars. I wrote 'old regulars' there first time and then edited it, as that just sounded a bit rude ;)

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  34. It's Friday as I post this so not really a Monday de-brief but I was reading a few articles online and saw that Kelly Sotherton has just received her bronze medal for the heptathlon at Beijing in 2008 after a drugs cheat finally lost their retrospective appeal. Well deserved Kelly, that's made me smile. Right, I'm off for a run. I might even throw a javelin in recognition of her achievement. (Not really, I haven't got one). Have lovely weekends, everyone and happy running.

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    1. Any day is running de-brief day. Even Friday rest days :)

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    2. Well in that case! I've been out for a random 14k in the drizzle and it was bloody lovely. Thanks for setting the blog up, Kate, me and many others (I hope I speak for them) are thoroughly enjoying it.

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