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 ...

The magnificently bonkers Susie Chan
   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 for running, it all becomes somewhat arbitrary. My own club is hosting a quarter marathon next week, which led someone to carp on Twitter about the 'silly distance'. Non-standard, sure, but silly? Well, when did 26.2 miles become a standard unit of measurement? 13.1, or indeed 10,000 metres? Missed that memo. They are all arbitrary, and our measurements for them - set against our PBs or WRs - are too. Which doesn't mean they don't mean an awful lot to us personally.

The 24 hour race, though, is a somewhat different beast. Now, I've never run a step over 26.2 miles but it seems to me that a race, whatever the distance, when you are working towards a finish point is one thing. One where you simply have to keep going for a set period of time, with no changing scenery, no sense of travel beyond 400m circle, quite another. The challenge becomes, perhaps, even more one raged in the head than a race where you are moving towards a sign proclaiming the finish, however far away that might be.

My friend Susie Chan - of instagram/social media fame - was running, hence bringing my girls along to cheer her on and provide some support. How she managed over 100 miles, despite barely having run much in the last few weeks with an Achilles injury, is beyond me. About 73.8 and change miles beyond me, in fact. Not only that, but she finished in third place, with a smile on her face. Watching her, and the others, go round and round and round is indeed to watch a display of magnificent lunacy. From the 85 year old man who broke numerous world records en route, to the lady I joined for the last 5 minutes, who was apologising for the fact that she was walking after over 100 miles. She was still walking faster than me: I had to scuttle to keep up.

Runners are utterly mad sometimes, but can't they be fabulous? I can't imagine in a million years wanting to sign up for this race, but I am in awe of those who do.



Comments

  1. There was an Ultra near me last week (The River Ayr Way, 40 miles from deepest darkest remote country back into town) and I knew a few folk doing it They all had a great time and much prefer that sort of running to road marathons, no time pressure just enjoying running and being out on squelchy messy routes.

    I did a 10k at Dumfries House (Prince Charles' holiday home in Scotland) It was their first event and an absolute roaring success. The route had every sort of surface you could want including fields, trails, roads, paths water hazards that were unavoidable. I took it easy as I hadn't run all week but my thigh felt ok and it was a timely confidence boost for the Great Scottish Run next Sunday. My preparation hasn't been great but all I can do is try and see what happens on the day.

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  3. Hi all.

    Still not running myself but keeping busy with 5-6 hours of cardio plus 3-4 hours of s+c/back rehab per week. My self-imposed running ban is up on Sunday so almost back at square one. All being well I'll treat myself to a parkrun on my birthday a few weeks later.

    If it turns out that my injury has permanently limited me to speeds of around 10-11kph then maybe I'll just have to train for running 240k around a track next year...

    ...or not. Nutter! ������

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    1. Great to hear that progress is being made! Just take it easy with your comeback, though!

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    2. You seem incredibly collected around this latest injury. That's something else you learn from injury's - how to manage, understand and respond to them. Eventually one starts to learn lessons! I'm talking about myself, I feel less personally aggrieved the more I go through the process, perhaps a harder shell. It's like going through a break-up for the fifth time! Really pleased to hear it's moving forward for you Asta ... what cardio have you been keeping yourself busy with?

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    3. Glad you're staying patient(ish!) and made it back home in one piece(ish!).

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    4. @kyd - the cross trainer...OMG, I hate that thing but bike position is risky and rowing just puts too much force through the lower back area for the time being.

      I did a plank for 8 minutes yesterday. and my squats are getting deeper with more reps. IF I ever get back up to speed then this core work had better pay some dividends!

      I had a really nice summer NOT running and, much as I do love running and competing, it made me realise that there's much more to life (staying in one piece being part of that). My relationship with my youngest is 100x better (daddys boy now, not mummys boy!) and I dont think it is a coincidence. I think I'm definitely a 'run to live' rather than a 'live to run' person now. Or at least, I aspire to be...

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    5. Reading that has made my week! I'm really pleased for you that you've managed to find a favourable balance and found a deeper spot in your son's world. And I hear you about the S&C background work, my core was rock solid when I was off running last summer with ITB!

      I'm becoming a lot more sanguine about it too these days. Whereas last May I was chucking £££ at physios and sports docs so I could somehow reverse the ITB injury to run at CPH, I don't feel as urgent or anxious about the possibility of missing York in a couple of weeks. So be it, I'd rather protect my running.

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    6. If you miss York and still fancy a trip you can have my place in the San Sebastian in Nov if you want KYD :)

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  4. Wow what a weekend and where to begin! Took part as a team of ten in the Reebok Ragnar White Cliffs relay race which is 177 miles non-stop relay starting on Saturday in Sittingbourne and finishing on Sunday at Brighton Mariner.

    Everything about the event was amazing, the organisation was great, to have 30 different exchanges all manned with volunteers and some major exchanges with a great party atmospheres was something else. Can't fault the signage on the course as well, especially as so much of it is run at night in the pitch black with just a head-torch for company!

    We were a team thrown together for a fab charity called Greenhouse Sports (www.greenhousesports.org/) and became best friends by the end of it. The camaraderie was truly unbelievable and we were a mix of running abilities so for some just doing a six mile leg was a real challenge in itself knowing the had more to do!

    As someone who largely does on road, daytime running I never thought I'd enjoy running in the dark, running in muddy trails along the cliff edge in in high winds and sleeping for the odd hour here and there in a minbus but it's I want to do now! There were approx 120 teams but when you're running at certain points you see very few runners so it's a very different kind of solitary running event.

    I highly recommend it and we're all going again next year with a time of 25 hours to beat!

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    1. That sounds brilliant. There wasn't a Japanese TV crew there by any chance, was there? There's a programme on Japanese TV where they follow races like this, and a couple of years ago they did one on a race that sounds pretty much identical to yours, although it may have been over the Pennines. Not sure... Great programme, anyway.

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  5. A 24-hour race during the weather we had this weekend - bonkers.

    Not much running from me this week, taking a little break post-marathon. The break lasted barely 7 days as I popped out for a 5k pootle last night. I plan to run easy this week, I may put a session (or parkrun) in on Saturday if everything feels OK at that point. Legs seem to be OK, had core DOMS on a couple of days last week - that may be an area for S+C over the winter.

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    1. Hard core DOMS after a 2:36 marathon is surely normal in most people's books? :-)

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  6. The downpours on Sunday morning were a timely reminder of the importance of mind over matter. 34km at a good pace, soaked to the bone and the end of the really taxing training reaches its conclusion. I had the decision early Sunday whether to let the weather pass or go for it. I figured it was best to get it out of the way and ended up being one of my most enjoyable runs in a long time. Special mention to SIG double esspresso gel (BOOM!)

    I’ll scale things back between present and the Munich Marathon (14th Oct); but not too much. I think a 10-day taper suits me better. I’m very pleased that despite the fretting over the weather that I slogged it out and feel absolutely fantastic this morning - no niggles or groans from very obedient muscles.

    Has anyone here ran Munich before. It looks very flat on the websites course profile but the race on Strava reads as over 400m elevation. Sich sorgen machen...

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    1. Friends who have run Munich tell me it is "very far from flat"... But it's a very beautiful city!

      Slightly in awe about Sunday being "most enjoyable". I assume that you have been hating running with a passion for a while!

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    2. Ooooh, that is not what I wanted to hear 😦 ! 400+ elevation is definitely hilly but it is contradicted by the website.

      Persevering with a 34km run at MP whilst soaked to the bone. With 10% of it taking place on the appropriately titled “Ducks Hill Road”? What’s not to love!

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  7. After the (relative) excitement of last Sunday's HM, the week just gone was part recovery and then back into training mode. The signs were definitely encouraging:
    - set a new "wattage" PB in the spin bike studio after work on Wednesday when I just planned a gentle recovery
    - managed to snare a 3rd place finish (out of 291) in 17:41 at parkrun on Saturday, and I only intended it to be a hard tempo. At one stage, after a few runners typically went out way too hard, I led a pack of 4. Thought I would deliberately slow down in the 2nd km to preserve myself and see what the reaction was. The reaction was I was overtaken by two guys and despite almost catching them up on the 3rd km, they stretched away in the 4th km and I decided to just stick to my hard tempo plan.
    - managed to back up yesterday morning with a 27km run with a huge turnout from my squad. I did most of the pacemaking and then 4 of us broke away to do a "fast finish", where I managed to hold circa 3:55 mins/km average for the last 6km.

    Next big race is in 3 weeks time. If I can get the balance right between recovery and hardcore, I'm optimistic about my chances of a good performance.

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  8. Ultra marathoners definitely sit on that line of utter madness/utter brilliance, non more so than over this weekend! Blimey. Amazing job all round.

    In less impressive achievements, I fought through an absolute raging hangover & did my first 10km in about six weeks in the pouring rain, tripping down the canal on long sleeves for the first time in months & months. Sorted out my hangover so can’t complain! Slow time due to watching my steps but felt really good at the distance. Getting back to my old fitness levels!

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  9. I’m now two weeks back in the UK and still readjusting. Not only to life in general and screw top bottles of wine, but to not running up 30% gradients on a daily basis. How my quads and calves miss those mountains of Asturias, Cantabria and Andalucia!

    It was the first of my three autumn races at the weekend – a 50K, which was actually 300 metres short of 52K, with a devilish 666 metres of ascent. It was all for a good cause as 100% of the entry fee went towards eye tests and spectacles for children in Uganda. Let’s hear it for race organisers XNRG and the charity Humanity Direct for their amazing gesture.

    To cut a long story short, the route was lovely taking in the Grand Union canal, Wendover Woods, Tring Park, the Ashurst Estate, and the Ridgeway. I finished in 4:32, was third in the over-40 category, and sixth overall. My target pace was 5-minute kilometres. Fast enough to do myself justice, but slow enough to keep forward momentum for most of the day. That would have given me a finish time of about 4:10, but a blister on my Achilles that I had been managing for about a week decided to pop and rub against my running shoe. This was at about 32K, so for the remaining 21.7 kilometres it was all about pain management and just getting the job done. Until that point I was averaging about 4:50 minutes a kilometre and feeling good for it, but I’m still happy at crossing the line in my time (pace wise this was 5:12 minutes a kilometre if you’re interested).

    Next up is the Thames Trot in about a month if I can pull my finger out to enter (a metric 80K from Oxford to Henley along the Thames path) followed by the Hardwolds 80 (that’s imperial) up in the ridings of East and North Yorkshire at the end of November.

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    1. Screw top wine bottles...that made me laugh!

      Anyway, great running Mark, I hope the blister dries up quickly.

      Sadly, saw highlights of our most recent calamity against Arsenal this morning.

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    2. The pop and suck of the cork being pulled out is all part of the fun, Pete! And the blister is my just desserts for mincing around in trainer socks all summer. It's sensible sockwear from now on in. I wasn't at all surprised by our defeat yesterday. I bet Arsenal and That Lot look when they are playing us when the fixture list is released every year and think 'That's at least six points for us no matter what happens this season.'

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  10. This week was frustrating, emptying out my apartment took over. I did get in four runs but yesterday's was much shorter than I wanted, about 8.5k instead of 16k. The time just wasn't there. Hope things can get back to normal this week, I miss my weekly dose of long run zen.

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  11. Hello all!

    Have been absent for a fair few weeks as PhD deadline looms nearer... but this time next week it should be done! Seeing Susie's achievements, and especially following her progress on IG was a real boost to me this weekend. In the pit of despair to see someone doing something so wonderfully crazy with a smile on their face really gave me a renewed sense of vigour about being able to get this thesis finished, no matter how daunting that may seem or how much there is to do. See... running. Giving us lessons for all aspects of our lives.

    This does, ironically, mean I've not been doing much running though.

    After I woke up feeling like I was already hunched over a desk and suffering from intense cabin fever last week I resolved to at least keep things ticking over for the last stretch. So I've resolved to at least head out for a quick 5k every couple of days. My heart rate has skyrocketed, it feels like harder work than it used to, and I can finally feel my glutes icing up in the cold weather. But it is SO GOOD to be out, watching the world, seeing some green, and just erasing some thoughts for a while. Cabin fever also resulted in me signing up for the sheffield half, my first half marathon, in april, so now i'm really looking forward to getting out there and building up the distance again.

    Let the thesis finish and the training commence - and can't wait to be interacting more with this blog again!

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    1. PS. Amid all this, my trusty old Fitbit surge had a catastrophic break. Am borrowing Mr SegPeg's old series 1 Apple Watch at the moment but I'm not sure I trust it and it has no GPS... have been ogling the garmins for a while, so might take the plunge as a post hand-in treat. Any recommendations on which models are best, if its ok to buy refurbed, when/where to source good deals would be much appreciated!

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    2. segpeg - you need to check out DC Rainmaker's blog for the definitive source on all running watches. The most detailed reviews in the business. Fine to buy refurbed if you don't want a new one. (https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2017/11/winter-technology-recommendations.html)

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    3. Good luck! Running kept me sane as I was finishing my thesis as well!

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  12. If nothing else, this weekend I learnt that I need to use a different weather app, as I got up early on Sunday to avoid the worst of the weather. So, so, didn't. Two hours later my five year old welcomed me home by telling me I looked like a wet dog, and he wasn't wrong. Anyway, this was the first long run I'd done in a while, since my hamstring flared up and I new it was likely to hurt a bit, but didn't feel confident going into a marathon in 2 weeks time without knowing how it was likely to respond.

    The good news is that it doesn't seem to affect my pace all that much and I got through 16.5 miles at a decent clip; the bad was that it niggled along the entire time, and is a bit sore today. But it has made me confident that I'll be able to try for a decent time at Chester even if I'll need a decent lay-off afterwards.

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  13. I doubt I could ever get into them, but this and the Backyard ultra appeal more to me than the standard 50-100 Mile/KM ultra races. There's something quite simple at the thought of just focusing on 1 more lap, and any ultra marathon that doesn't involve going off road is good by me.

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  14. I was across the road at Tooting Bec Lido on Sunday for South London Swimming Club's Swim Run - four swims in the pool (water temperature 15 degrees C) alternated with four runs around the Common. The steady drizzle and puddles on the Common made it feel more like a continuous swim. With the wind blowing the leaves from the trees on the runs and leaves swirling around in the pool water on the swims it felt very autumnal. I'm looking forward to more running through puddles in the coming months.

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  15. Fell off the wagon recently, I’ve been eating copious amounts of peanut butter again, it truly is the devil’s spread. So naturally i’ve put on some weight, i’m just concentrating on eating healthy and just getting out there at the moment, it was beautiful this morning in the countryside. The most important thing is that i’ve got my running mojo back, desperately miss those 10k country runs.

    Anyway, on the weekend I took my little niece and nephews on a 2k race; I really enjoyed it. My niece is 8, I think she’ll be a talented runner, she’s quick. She started saying “I can’t keep this pace, I need to stop” I told her that the finish line was just around the corner, when she saw it and the crowd cheering her on, she flew off, I couldn’t even catch her... never been so proud. Most importantly she loved it, smiling and laughing when she finished and buzzing on the walk home. My brother was with my nephews/ his sons... it was raining and cold, I asked one of my nephews if he enjoyed it...”I hated it, don’t ever make me do it again” can’t win them all. Bless.

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    1. Just give in to the peanut butter ClubberLang, you know you want to.

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    2. Ha, ha... I have Jim, can’t fight it.

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  16. to get rebooked, eventually getting a flight out the following day. So, after a jetlagged sleep on Thursday night I went out for a run first thing on Friday morning. It’s a very hilly area in New Hampshire, so I started off nice and steady, doing just over four and a half miles on the look out for any wildlife. My daughter had seen two black bear cubs on this route a few days earlier, but sadly I had nothing exciting to report.
    On Saturday evening, 5pm start, I was a member of a 5 person team doing the Joe English Twilight Trail Marathon-relay, at an equestrian centre in Amherst NH. There were other races taking place as well that set off at the same time, individuals running the marathon and those doing an ultra, seeing how far could go on 6 hours. We were then joined at 7pm by individuals and teams doing a half marathon. The plan was that we would split the 10 laps (2.62 miles) of the equestrian trails equally between us. However, two of the team sort of flagged injuries and elected only to do one lap each. As a result both me and my daughter picked up the two other laps and did three each. The race started at 5pm and I’d asked to do laps three and four before the light went, just so I could familiarise myself with the route and then I’d do my final lap in the dark nearer the end of the race. The route went around a lake and through lots of woods on one side and meadows on the other. It was pretty much an up and down course with precious little flat land, with some of the hills being very steep! My first thoughts were that they wouldn’t be so much fun in the dark. My first lap went well, even though I got all of the steep hills completely wrong putting too much effort in, so, knowing what to expect I slowed down a little for the second lap and got around the course well. The only difficulty I had was that the race belt with the number and running chip, that acted as the baton, came off twice and I had to stop, turn around, pick it up and put it back on. After the second time, i tied a knot in the belt to prevent further mishaps. Also, during the second lap the light started to go very quickly and it was quite dark in the woods but in the meadows the sunset was beautiful!. I then took a break for about 80/90 minutes as other team members went out and I found it difficult to keep my legs loose and warmed up, though when I went out for my final lap they weren’t so bad, it was later on they seized up! It was weird and fun running in the dark with a head torch. As the runners were so split up, you could be running on your own and just get occasional glimpses of light from head torches. The route was marked with yellow blazes, so, as long as you kept them to your left you’d be fine! Also, around the course were about 4 bonfires so you could see the light and hear talking and music as you got closer as well as lots of support as you passed by. I think I was overtaken once in the dark but overtook quite a few people and their headlights helped you plan your overall route. As we passed each other lots of support was given on both sides but one woman made me laugh out loud when I passed her. I had said she was doing well and there wasn’t long to go on this lap, and she replied with a lot of feeling, “This sucks!” Not surprisingly, you run slower in the dark! But it was much more fun than it imagined! I think our team managed 4:08:?? though I've no idea where we were placed.
    Then yesterday morning we went apple picking and then me and my son in law cycled the 38 miles back on as many back roads as we could find. Brilliant riding! My legs are shot this morning though! Got to get my legs ready for a HM next Sunday.

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    1. The problems with cut and paste! This is the first but I managed to miss out...

      Due to Hurricane Ali, my flight to the USA was cancelled on Wednesday and I spent a couple of hours trying .....

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    2. I used to be familiar with Amherst, NH. Haven't been there since the 1980s though. Sounds like a fun race.

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    3. Have been loving the photos and slightly scared of the amount of post-retirement activity you are doing...

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  17. Hi all. No running for me since Berlin either - I was thinking of going out yesterday morning but took one look at the weather and decided that these weren't the conditions to get me back on the road. Hopefully I can get out for a trot this evening.

    For what it's worth, here's a brief report on my experiences in Berlin from the previous weekend as I've been offline for the past week. I joined the 500+ runners at Hasenheide parkrun on the Saturday and managed to say hi to Handsome Devil before the off. It was a really nice course and the organisers did brilliantly to cope with a 700% increase in numbers over the previous week (no thanks to the bore behind me in the finish funnel who was telling everyone how mush better organised things are in Bushy Park).

    Having read DavID's report on his marathon efforts - much closer to Kipchoge's than to mine - I couldn't possibly compete with that so suffice to say that it was a fantastic day in near perfect conditions but I knew that with a three week layoff in the middle of my training cycle I was nowhere near my best (around 3:48) so set off around 4 hour pace, although even that was a bit ambitious. Struggled to find a rhythm for the first few kilometres as it was all a bit crowded but then settled in as things opened up and was really enjoying the experience. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself alongside the 4 hour pacer at around halfway before realising that he'd started in the group about two minutes after mine. As he pulled away with his group it was obvious that there was no chance of a sub 4 hour time but I was still hoping for sub 4:10. However the gap in my training started to tell at around 30kms when there was a noticeable drop in pace and by 37kms things were really tough, but I was determined that I'd finish without walking and so used anything I could to keep myself going. 4:10 was gone but there was a chance of getting in under 4:15 as we made the final turn and saw a big blue arch ahead but, cruelly, it was just a promotion for Erdinger and the actual finish was the other side of the Brandenburg Gate. Some way the other side it turned out and I had less than two minutes to spare but somehow managed to find a bit of speed over that final couple of hundred yards to finish in 4:14:56.

    That was my sixth marathon and probably my favourite (certainly preferable to New York) and the one I'd love to try again one day. Mojo duly rediscovered I'm looking forward to the next big day out.

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    1. Well done! Apologies I meant to catch you in the crowd after for a further chat but obviously not to be. Good effort on the big day.

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    2. No worries, it was pretty busy. Well done to all of you for a good morning's work.

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    3. Well done on getting through the marathon, it didn't sound like too much of a drop-off in the late 30s - that's a pretty solid finish particularly with the layoff during training. It probably ranks as my favourite marathon (I've run it twice now), from the organisation, to the carpet-like course and the way the city gives itself over to the event for the weekend. Sadly, I suspect I can't get back there until 2021 :-(

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    4. Thank you. Well done yourself. That was a fabulous performance.

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  18. I followed this lunacy on Instagram. It sounds almost barbaric 😂.
    Have just decided not to run my next marathon in 2 weeks time which is a bit disappointing but probably the right thing to do. I’ve been so fatigued and off pace that it’s back to the drawing board and will focus on a spring marathon. No idea why this has been the case but I’m trying to be sensible and listen to my body

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    1. With only two weeks to go this sounds like the right decision. It is probably worth checking with your doctor re: iron levels - to rule that out as a possible cause of the fatigue.

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    2. Thanks-I’ve made an appointment as I’ve been anaemic in the past so it’s worth checking. Just didn’t feel up to a marathon at the moment- they take a lot out of you when you’re at your best!

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  19. Like LB, I too got up at 5:30 a.m. yesterday in order to get my long run done before the rains came.. how wrong was I?! On arriving back at the front doorstep 3 hours later, I had to call out to my husband for a towel and a bucket. I kyd you not.

    Unlike Kenton Cooool I didn’t enjoy it! I’ve run in the rain before and haven’t minded it, but it was miserable and relentless this time, and any skipping over puddles was pointless as I’d get water walled by any passing traffic! My cap kept slipping down so I ended up running along looking at my feet (a bit like Asta was), lifting my head up from time to time to see where I was, and repeat. There was a Cancer Research Shine walk which must have been going on all night so I felt sorry for those poor buggers as a normally empty Thames at dawn was strewn with hundreds of people in plastic macs, like the march of the penguins, heading towards Tower Bridge. However, my rain misery can shut up when I saw what Susie Chan had been up to in those conditions! I couldn’t do that in a million, but she is a bit flipping barmy!

    I’m in a bit of a strange place with my impending marathon in 3 weeks. My hamstring injury does seem to be affecting my performance and restricting my pace, plus my long run was not without discomfort, during or after. I’m continuing with slightly modified training to keep my options open, but ultimately there may be a trade off between completing the marathon in a less than optimal/desired time (again!) with the possibility of some drawn out rehab afterwards, or just abandoning it. It’s a tough call, but I’m not making it yet.

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    1. Do you have flexibility on times/dates? A few years ago I binned an October marathon and went to do Florence at the end of November. Very fast and flat course through a lovely city. Heartily recommended.

      I ran Manchester this year on some severe back pain limiting me coming into the event, but I would have thought twice before trying it with a busted hamstring. 42k is just a long way to run on a muscular pain. If you're genuinely not sure, then I would take the decision now to rest, rehab, and adjust your goal by a few weeks. You have plenty of time to build/peak again for November if your life schedule could fit it in. And much better to decide now than in 2.5 weeks when you won't have time to recover.

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    2. Good advice squirblej, I'm still hedging my bets, for this week anyway. I'll have to make my mind up pretty soon!

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    4. I'll second that about Florence - lovely race

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  20. Still not allowed to run on account of surgery to pin my collarbone, which is getting rather frustrating. However, I am allowed to walk and have been walking quite a lot to try and maintain some level of fitness. I managed to walk parkrun this Saturday for the first time since the break. I walked it quite fast as well, at just under 39 minutes. 3 more weeks to my next x-ray and hopefully no more sling and permission to run again.

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  21. ive been following but not commenting here and the other place but have a question do people consider there pbs from official course measured races ie those with the certificate that are listed on power of 10/ run Britain or not

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    1. Unless you're of a very high standard, you can consider whatever course you want to be your PB.

      I just work on the balance of probabilities...if the watch comes in around the correct distance and it's an established run organised by a proper club, I'd count it even on an unverified course. If the watch is miles off and it's a charity run, I wouldn't.

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    2. i guess im worried that i beat a barrier 40 min 10 k and it wasnt measured i think ill just have to do it on a measured course to satisfy myself

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  22. So I read this about a 24-hour race on the track and my first thought is 'well, that's safe.' Safe because you're on a track, safe because support is near, safe because you're not going to go missing without someone noticing for 24 hours or perhaps more.

    Last week in the US, a female runner was stabbed to death - by a stranger - shortly before 8 pm in a well-populated area of Washington, DC. The day before that, a female golfer was murdered - again, by a stranger - on a golf course in Iowa in the mid-morning hours. Her body was found in the pond. And just this morning, an arrest was made in the 2014 murder of a woman who was running on well-used trails in her town in Connecticut.

    There's no point in making excuses for any of this. None of this per capita statistical nonsense or how these incidents are rare. The point is that women are vulnerable to these kinds of attacks by men.

    I don't know what to think the best measure of self-defense is at this point. A treadmill, perhaps? Think about it: the golfer - the European Ladies' Amateur Champion - had an entire set of golf clubs at her disposal and somehow she didn't stand a chance against her attacker.

    I run alone 99.99% of the time. I run on trails, in wild areas, in suburban spaces with paved paths, in grassy parks in daylight hours when no one else is present. I've done martial arts for years, I compete and coach in shooting, I have a background in combat sports. Do I really think that makes me any safer? Of course not.

    No easy answers there. You can point to scores of murdered women who did everything right - carried a phone, told people their route, ran on well-lit and populated streets, etc. and it didn't make a difference.

    (My own running this weekend was relegated to the treadmill as I was officiating at a pony club tetrathlon competition and teaching a shooting clinic. Just enough time at the end of the day to get on the hamster wheel for half an hour.)

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  23. I also saw the lunacy on Instagram. What a trooper/weirdo! Did she have any kind of entertainment like headphones or some king of I-spy game? I spy something beginning with.... L. Lane 10. I spy something beginning with L... Lane 9.... etc etc.

    For me, I did my long run on Friday night. Logistics of baby-wrangling meant that I had to drop the smallboy off at mrB's work and he drove home with him while I ran home via an elongated route. This was the first run with a 'marathon pace' section included in the instructions and I'd been set a certain pace which would have been easy in the past but for now it's something I wasn't sure I could do. Also, it was going to be a test of my mental fortitude as I've not done and effort block that long in ages. Happily, I hit pace and I enjoyed it and felt myself falling into good-old habits. That evening though - wow I felt like John Wayne walking down the stairs! Sunday was the Southern League Road Relays and my club fielded a women's team for the first time in ages. I survived 4.8k(!) around crystal palace and didn't come last. Phew. I did get shouted at by the fierce marshall ladies though who said 'you were told you didn't need to touch at handover'. To which i replied ' actually no, I really wasn't. No race briefing, nothing. No wonder people are nervous about club-meets. Sigh.

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  24. Solid enough week for me, nothing especially exciting other than catching an edge of a pavement tile and going arse over tit on the street. Ouch. Managed 16km home tonight at what, theoretically, is faster than HMP so we'll see how that goes in a few weeks.

    As for ultra-running, I don't really get it...but like Kate, I can kind of understand if it's a race distance. Just plodding for time though...nope and as long as 24 hours, nope, nope, nope. That just sounds utterly miserable for the sake of being utterly miserable tbh.

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    1. Ouch indeed. Filing cabinets, paving stones... You're not having a lot of luck. Hope nothing damaged apart from your pride.

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  25. Morning folks. Things are coming along a bit better here in Tokyo, as they always do when the temps drop. 32km last week and 34 the week before, with a 16 and an 18 as my long runs. They went well, nice and steady, good pace and all that, but they are completely knackering me. I was wiped out most of Monday, never mind Sunday. All a bit worrying since I somehow have to extend those long runs by another 20-odd km, but I'm telling myself I'm going to get steadily fitter and it's going to get steadily cooler. The plan says 22km next Sunday, which will be the first time I've run over HM distance for almost two years, so that will be a good test.

    Another snippet of Japanese running wisdom on the telly the other day: when you're running uphill, turn your toes inward a little so you're slightly pigeon-toed. That way you use your large, powerful bum muscles and save your smaller, less powerful calf muscles. I tried it on Sunday, and it didn't seem to make much difference - definitely not as much as the revolutionary look-down-at-your-feet method - but anything is worth a try.

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  26. Someday I would love to do an ultra, but I can't justify the amount of training time away from the family... The marathon distance (almost entirely psychosomatically, I am sure) does seem to be that wonderful balance between "absurdly far" and "not too far" in that training for a marathon never seems to push me over the edge but there's always a moment in each race when I think "goodness this is a long way". My brother runs ultras and keeps trying to persuade me to do one. One day...

    Last weekend was wet, wasn't it! Like kyd and LB I had checked the forecast and planned to go out before the worst of the rain, but got it completely wrong. Luckily I did take a rain jacket in the end. In my case I was supposed to do 31k at MP - the key test run before Abingdon marathon in a month or so. But the cold and wet meant I never really got going and my route - along the towpath beside the Olympic Park and Regents Canal in London - was a symphony of puddles and slippery mud which rather took the edge off. So I trailed in at about 4.30 pace, well off the 4.13 or so that I should have been running at.

    Worse news was in store - a nagging pain in my right heel over the last few weeks has finally got bad enough that I decided it probably was there after all, and after a quick coach consultation I went to the physio - some incipient PF is definitely there and, as with all these things, seems to be on a "hockey stick" curve now I've noticed it - it's worsening by the day. Very stiff yesterday throughout ankle, calf, and hamstring. Some intensive massage and MET last night and I feel more mobile today but I have to stick it out for the next couple of weeks of training - I then have the taper to recover...!

    If it's not one thing, it's the other...

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    1. Interestingly, if you hear Sophie Power (of Spartathlon / Breastfeeding while doing UTMB fame) she would say that you need less training time to do an Ultra than a marathon as a lot of Ultra 'running' is hiking. I'm not sure how much I'm convinced but she certainly seems to do fine off 40miles a week!

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    2. Something very auspicious about our Autumn marathons (you, me and LB). Do you think yours could be a show stopper? ... Florence perhaps?!

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    3. Hehe - no way, I'm running Abingdon with my ultra-running brother and as he is struggling with back problems it's possibly my only chance to beat him. (He's a former Olympic competitor, not in athletics but it's a pretty high bar to get close)

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  27. I'm pleased that the blog is alive and well in the (not so) new home. After only posting at the end of the previous incarnation, it's time to stop lurking and to contribute this week!

    I did a short out and back again on Saturday, just a quiet few miles that felt reassuringly comfortable, to test my legs before completing my first hm on Sunday.

    Having trained for several months and with solid advice from here in my mind (…"run faster"…) Sunday was nonetheless daunting. There was a time not long ago where running for a bus was a stretch and, as a I was reminded by a spectator's banner close to the start line, I had volunteered to do this so had no-one to blame but myself!

    It was a very soggy start in Bristol and spirits were probably a little dampened at the start line, but as we ran out of the city and into the Avon gorge, everyone settled in to the slog and fairly shortly the weather lifted a little as well. I was aiming for 2 hours (previous pb 2:10), and having started close to the pacer I soon found myself starting to edge ahead. After about 5 miles and feeling pretty confident I had the gas, I decided to put some distance in front of the pacer. All went well, until I had a little wobble in mile 12 - thanks to a dog-leg on the course I had forgotten about I realised I had an extra 400 metres to go than I thought I did! After a quick mental reset, I powered on to the finish. Coming into the final straight I realised I was on for a better time than I had hoped for so was spurred on to sprint the end. Official finish time was 1:58:01.
    Celebrated with cake and beer…and a look through the calendar to find my next race.

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    1. Congratulations and ring the PB klaxon!

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    2. Wow - a 12 minute PB! That is a most excellent result.

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  28. A bit of a fraught weekend for me as Mrs GJ was admitted to hospital with a throat infection meaning all plans went out of the window. I managed a cross country in the fields and woods around Peover in Cheshire that left me a little bramble-damage but it was great fun. You certainly feel it in your ankles and achilles' when you've been jumping over things and going around tree stumps rather than tarmac bashing. My Sunday run was halted by my dog who has decided to be frightened of autumn, again. Every year at this time he refuses to go out until I rattle car keys at him and then he jumps in the boot meaning I have to drive somewhere, walk him home and then run back for the car. So my Strava shows me doing a 2.3km run to fetch the car. With Mrs GJ out of hospital and on the mend I hope to get a decent run in during the week to complete my target of 100km for the month. On the subject of distance, my mapmyrun app informed me that I have completed 2000km since I registered back at the end of December 2016. Not quite up to Susie Chan standards but I'll take it. Happy running, everyone.

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    1. Bizarre behaviour by the dog! has Halloween scarred him? Crispy crunchy leaves too sharp? I'm perplexed, but it's quite amusing!

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    2. We live in the countryside and there is a lot of shooting after 12th August and he hates it. It then leads to bonfire night and I think he senses the change in season and the expectation of fireworks. We do some very odd training with him including one of us driving off leaving the other to walk him home. Once he sees the car goes he happily trots along. He’s happiest at the seaside unless there’s a large boat with a diesel engine. He’s a rubbish dog.

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    3. That explains it perfectly! Remind him of the job description for being a dog though ...

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  29. I did my first Duathlon on Saturday with 2 friends. More than happy with it and it was great fun. Having done lots of cycling in the past, I was faster on the bike than my friends, but completely messed up transition (being "nicely" mocked by the commentator for taking so long). My friend wants me to do a HM up in Aviemore in a few weeks, but I'm not sure I want to or not. On the Sunday I did my first 10 mile run and it hurt by the end.

    Great Scottish Run 10km this weekend coming and I'll decide if I'm up for the HM after that.

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  30. AM I ALLOWED TO RUN IF DIAGNOSED WITH STRESS?

    My doctor says yes, my shrink (oh yes, it's that bad) says no, and good old google tells me I'm mortally ill, hence should not be bothered with such questions... Does any of you have any experience on this?

    To me running feels like the best break possible from everyday life and I am in panic at the though of not being allowed to run for 12 weeks.
    Fact being I'm not doing any intervals and I do not run with a watch or phone, so not running for any other purpose than enjoying the movement and being very careful not to get short breath. I'm running 5 k Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 Saturdays and a short one for fun Sundays with my youngest.
    On the other hand, having had breakdowns Sunday evening, several during Monday and one last night I guess I should do what's necessary and not necessarily what I want to do.

    So all input would be appreciated!

    Besides messing up my life, I'm so amazed by all the effort you all put into your running shoes - truly inspiring.

    This weekend saw the youngest and me participate in a family run Sunday. The route was 6 k and I thought we were going to run approx. 2-3 k and walk the rest, perhaps enjoying the nice view (route seaside) and the sightseeing options along the route. So I had brought a backpack full of water, bisquits, snacks, proper food and lots of extra clothes, i.e. picnic-style.
    So after the first 2 k I suggested we could walk, but he informed me that he intended to run all the way. I was rather surprised, but thought that it would be okay if I just let him set the pace and then he would walk eventually when he got tired. After having to take a short break to put jackets into the backpack, he started speeding up and overtaking a lot of the other runners, even adding a sprint every once in a while. When asked why he did it, I got the best answers of all: "Because I can". I didn't really know what to say - and having to keep up whith him I didn't have any breath for saying anything anyway. 1 k left he slowed a bit down and asked for how long we had back - I suggested we could walk, as I thought he was tired, but he refused and asked when he could set in the sprint finish! I told him to wait a bit untill we could see the finishing line - and warned him that he probably had to run on his own. When I finally allowed him to sprint, he went off so fast I seriously couldn't keep up with him. So that was a very nice medal very well deserved :)

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    1. For what it's worth Helene, I will give an answer through my own experiences. About 18 years ago I voluntarily stopped cycling due to severe anxiety and panic attacks. I just wasn't enjoying it any more, and I was a 6/7 days a week cyclist. In fact, the pressure of cycling added to my problems. Jump forward to today, my anxiety levels still have to be managed daily, though I'm mostly on top of it. That said, I'm also fairly obsessive about exercising, whether it be swim, bike or run. If I notice that I'm starting to get fixated on exercise, I'll deliberately take a break. I guess that I'm saying you need to make sure that running isn't adding to your stress levels. Good luck with what you decide is right for you.

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  31. Hi Helene - firstly, I'm so sorry. Stress is awful. I took a few months off due to stress a few years ago, and the time off was incredibly valuable to give me space to work through what was causing it and to take the decisions to solve it. Good luck.

    With respect to running during stress, for me it needed to be looked at in the round. Immediately before diagnosis (and rest) I was using running as an escape valve - but it was ineffective as I simply spent a lot of time on my own being anxious about the things that were causing me stress, and didn't share/talk about these issues with others. So it wasn't healthy at that point.

    However, once I went into some counselling for the stress - and learned to discuss/open up with my wife and friends - the running became healthy again as it became sport and exercise rather than a substitute for stress treatment. I would certainly have found a running "ban" stressful at that point. So my advice to you is to explore and discuss with others why you want to run and why they say not - and work through that to a solution which I am sure, over time, will involve running *and* other actions which help you through this period.

    Good luck and lean on all the support you have!

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  32. This weekend was my big 5km PR attempt. I'd been building up to it for several weeks, after talking with one of the local coaches, Chris, after a club run. I told him I find it difficult to believe that I can actually hit my goal race paces. My 5km PR dates back almost a year, and my recent times have been a fair bit slower: closer to 22 minutes than my PR of 21:10. Chris offered to pace me in a local 5km. The idea was that by following his lead, I'd be able to ignore the parts of my brain telling me to slow down, and then I'd have a result and an experience that I could rely on.

    Race day finally arrived on Saturday. There's a path here called the rail trail that's a popular site for 5km races. We'd managed to pick a race that probably had the smallest turnout of the year, and literally the only one that wasn't officially timed. But they did have a clock set up and the route was a certified 5km.

    The "runners - start!" went off, and two guys went out pretty quickly. My pacer (!!) kept the pace steady. I had expected the whole thing to be painful so I was surprised how easy it felt. We overtook one guy and then the other. As we approached the half way U-turn, Chris warned me that it would feel like he was accelerating - because there's a natural tendency to slow down. He said to trust that he wasn't speeding up, just maintaining the pace.

    A couple of times he encouraged me to relax my breathing. He later told me that is an important skill. I can't remember exactly how he explained this. I think it was a way to maintain a hard pace without letting the experience of "red lining" wear you down. My coach has talked about "red lining" as something your body can handle for much longer than you think. Apparently my racing until this point has been more like a tempo run.

    The final mile, final km, and final half mile were tough. My legs were sore but I pushed on, focusing on sticking right on Chris' shoulder. Then there was just the equivalent of one lap around the track to go.

    I crossed the line with the clock reading 20:40. A 30 second PR! 10 seconds faster per mile! I was almost in shock. This is what real racing feels like.

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  33. Sorry for being awol for a while!

    Well done to anyone that raced this week, in particular those crazy people at Tooting track! Not a chance i'm ever going to consider doing that, i got giddy just doing the 1hr race there!

    Settling into life in Paris with some (very limited) work (which i'm doing remotely from the laptop) and i started french classes this week. There's also been lots of running, trying to figure out which group we want to join - still haven't decided, one has much better coaching set up but feels a bit too small a group whilst the other is huge but no individual coaching and fairly standard training and also probably not many fast enough people for mr messepip to feel stretched but has the potential to yield more friends (which is a big part of why we want to join a group). This weekend i managed to do my longest run of 18km before the Lyon 1/2 marathon which is way too soon to feel ready but after the stress of moving and back issues it's the best i've been able to do to fit the long runs in at all. Don't think it'll be a pb race but shouldn't be too far off as managed to do a decent pace at the parkrun on sat, nearly akin to the Tooting parkrun pace which is a much flatter course with more people to run with. The strength and conditioning they do at the smaller club btw is mental! My legs have been like jelly two weeks in a row, we'll see in weeks/months to come whether it's helping me i guess! :)


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    1. Good luck at Lyon and with choosing a club. You should get in touch with Julia of http://carbsandkilometres.com - she’s an Aussie who moved from London to Paris and is a runner. She’s very friendly.

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    2. Haha funny you should mention her! We met her on our very first day in Paris at the parkrun! She's lovely! One of the first things she said to me was "I'll be your first friend!" 😁

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    3. I love it when people are ACTUALLY as nice as you thought they were.

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