The fight for equality in cross country continues




Autumn, and the start of the cross country season. I missed Saturday's first fixture due to a prior engagement with a warehouse full of over-excited six year olds and trampolines, but there's a strong argument for missing it anyway. No, not the mud and the hills and general pain: the fact that in 2018, we are still having to make a case as to why women and men should run the same distance.

Regulars of the Guardian blog might remember the piece Maud Hodson wrote on this in January.  This season, a few leagues have moved with the times (it's worth noting that the IAAF world cross country race is the same distance, too) but many have not. Indeed the Met League (or whoever is in charge of their account) tweeted yesterday about "feminist propaganda" and "ideological battles". Yup, equality is now crazy feminist propaganda. Sorry, it is 2018, right? I didn't wake up in 1918?

There is simply no valid argument in favour of not equalising races that I can see. The form the question seems to have been posed in many club and league AGMS is "Would you like to run further across mud and hills". Which sane person would answer that in the affirmative? But there's a vast difference between "Would you like to run further?" and "Do you believe that race distances in cross country should be equal - as they are in every other athletic event?"  The fact that people may prefer or suit a shorter or longer distance is neither here nor there - there are plenty of men who would prefer a slightly shorter cross country distance because it suits them. In fact a sensible suggestion to the old "but it would take longer" chestnut (because obviously women are banned from running marathons for the same reason..) is that the distances meet in the middle: in a league where men run 8k and women around 6k, why on earth not just make everyone run 7k?

Personally, I'd rather cross country races lasted about 30 seconds and then we could just get on with the good bit - eating cake and drinking something hot - but I am quite capable of distinguishing between what I personally like, and what I think is fundamentally right. Wearing green and purple ribbons (the colours of women's suffrage) in support of equality is hardly disruptive to races, and I'll certainly be sporting one in the next cross country race I run.

Let's not forget that it was only in 1984 that women were allowed to run the marathon in the Olympics, and before the 80s there were no distance races at all (the longest being 1500m). And so here we are, in 2018, still peskily asking for equality. So I say again, do I want to run further across hills and mud? Hell no. But tell me I can't, and I'll demand my right to do so.



Comments

  1. It is blatantly ridiculous and i’m amazed there’s even a discussion.

    Though cycling is in a far worse state. No equivalent of the Grand Tours for women, and even the Olympic road race course for Tokyo is so wildly different (shorter and much much less climbing) that’s it’s almost a different discipline. I have held in with / beaten men at any distance on a bike, women are absolutely capable of the time and of the climbing. Things are better than they were - I did the Etape du Tour in 2008 and was one of only 124 female finishers out of about 7000 participants.

    Keep fighting back people!

    I have a great weekend. An epically wet bike ride on Saturday with the dirtiest race number collection ever afterwards.
    Aviemore half marathon on sunday, run as a fast finish long training run, so 10 miles nice and easy then 3 miles with the afterburners lit. 11 minutes off my pb, but a tremendously good fun way to run it. Downhill finish as well, felt like I was flying and I felt wonderfully light on my feet.

    Dramathon coming up this Saturday. 24.2 off road miles, goody bag full of whisky.

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    1. I mean 11 mins slower than my pb of course, didn’t knock 11 off it !

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    2. Aviemore sounds fun - I'll try to do it next year. Couldn't manage this year as I've been on holiday - too much food and wine, and not enough training.

      Good luck in the Dramathon - I've a couple of work colleagues doing it.

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    3. Yes! Cycling is shocking! Why is that, do you think?

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    4. Good luck for Dramathon, I'm doing the Half

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  2. The whole issue becomes more bizarre when you consider that entries for trail races are open to all, regardless of distance and gender - what are they other than an extra-long cross country run?

    I ran one of these yesterday, the Green Leek 10.5k (is this distance now a thing?) Over on Strava kyd wittily renamed it the Green Leak, which was appropriate as it was pouring with rain so hard the whole way round that even Billy Whizz would have struggled to dodge the raindrops. I don't think I have ever been so wet during and after a race, ever - my trainers are still a sodden mess.

    Still, it was a fab route, 95% of it offroad starting on a disused railway and taking in the commons and fields around the outskirts of Kenilworth. The final run-in was a magnificent sprint downhill where I managed to pick off three people to finish third in my age group and 20th woman overall (out of 238) which was very pleasing. It also puts me back at the top of our club handicap series, which I'm completely tripping on, being the kind of runner who will never achieve a podium finish in anything official.

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    1. And I should add - HUGE shoutout to the marshals standing in that rain to see us round. Lots of them were children from the two village schools who were fundraising from the event, and they were brilliant - "You can go that way" was my favourite comment from a little person standing in a dripping wood who must have been all of 6.

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    2. Great result! I used to live near there and enjoyed a Greenway run this summer... It was significantly warmer and drier then though.

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    3. I've lived close by for 10 years and only just discovered the Greenway because of this race. People talk about it all the time, and I see it on Strava routes, but have never quite known how and where to find it! Would prefer to re-visit it when it's a lot drier though...

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    4. trail run races open to every one and cross country only open to club runners

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    5. Ok, but all the more reason for having them the same distance then - club runners are usually more 'serious' about their running, so less likely to balk at the idea of going the same distance.

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    6. Wow! Fantastic racing Ruby. I was impressed with your muddy exploits on strava. Sounds like a great event.

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  3. Running 28 miles on Saturday with an infected blister on my Achilles isn't really one of the brightest things I've ever done, but it sure counts as one of the most painful. Then spent the rest of the weekend trying to bring down some serious inflammation, which made my whole foot swell to the size of a balloon. Just been 'signed off' running by the doctor for seven days.

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    1. Ouch. Although I'm sure you'll welcome the down time.

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    2. Yes, legs have been in a perpetual state of tiredness for ages now!

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    3. That sounds totally ghastly. Are you some kind of masochist?!

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    4. I hope you pay attention to what the doctor has said Mark. No slinking out for a sneaky 13.1 miles!

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    5. Ow. Ow. Here's to a fast recovery!

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    6. @ RunnersAndRiders... just plain stupid. Actually, it hurt less when I ran. When I walk, I tend to heel strike. Therefore, it hurt when I walked. However, I tend to land on my full foot when running, so it wasn't so bad. But from about 24 miles in, it did start to kill me no matter how my foot landed. It wasn't pleasant taking off my pus-drenched sock when I got home.
      @breezehillpete. I'm climbing the walls already and I'm only a day in! But I'm following doctor's orders to the letter... which also involves not wearing any footwear for a few days. Thankfully, I work from home!

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    7. The pus-filled sock sounds pretty grim. Nothing worse thantaking a sock off after an incident of some sort, and not knowing what you're going to find inside. As a rider as well as a runner, I've had some nasty horse-related toe horrors too.

      Hope you are well on the mend now though!

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  4. I am new to the running world generally and this news about cross-country distances being different seems ridiculous. I could make comparisons with so many other sports that don't differ, but it seems pointless. And here was me thinking running is nice and egalitarian...

    Anyway, having avoided runing on Saturday as I thought the wind would blow me off the cliff, I braved the lighter winds and heavier rain yesterday. I took a wrong turn and ended up in a very muddy field, so muddy and hilly I could barely walk, which thankfully inspired my about-turn and I then found the proper route, which was less muddy but still pretty soggy and wet. At least there were fewer dogwalkers to avoid (though the ones who were out were wrapped up so much they couldn't see me and thus dawdled through the gates!).

    After all your motivational replies last week, I was all set to sign up for a race that suited me time/location-wise, but it's full. I shall keep looking but until I'm a bit more settled, it might be tricky. But I do have my eye on a parkrun or two and it's my personal goal to have done one before the end of the year (and I've 'fessed that in public now so I better do it!).

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    1. Intrepid running Rosie! I didn't read the comments last week, so not sure what was stopping you from racing, but if you can get out there in heavy rain and persevere through mud, I think you can do anything.

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    2. I recommend listening to 'Free Weekly Timed' podcast which is about parkrun but isn't by them. Some inspirational tales on running in general. Have only just discovered it, so apologies if you know of it already.

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    3. Thanks, Brussels! Having finally bought some trousers helps too as shorts in this weather is a step too far - I don't want to scare the onlookers!

      And thanks, Murmuration, I'd not heard of it. I've recently got into running without listening to anything and quite enjoyed it but nothing stopping me listening to that as I prep myself for a run or two...

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  5. Agree with McWhirr on this. I'm surprised , indeed disappointed, that there is even discussion about this topic in 2018.

    As for my running weekend, it was no way near as I had hoped or expected. Melbourne HM was the feature. For the first time in ages, I woke up on race morning feeling well and even my left hip was behaving. I knew my form was pretty solid, so there was no reason not to have a crack and see how close to my PB I could get. The weather was, however, very warm and fairly windy. The first 5km flew past and I felt in complete control. I had overtaken several packs and found myself in a strong position. But by the 8km mark and battling into a headwind at Albert Park, I seemed to lose a huge amount of momentum. Thought it was an abberation and told myself that this might be a bad patch and that I could pick it up after 10km. Unfortunately the bad patch continued for pretty much the remainder of the race. Was being overtaken by several others, but then again, I also overtook one or two in the process. It was a sufferfest. The final 250km or so is a lap of the MCG, which does make it all the worthwhile. Crossed the line in 1:21:15, which was around 4 minutes shy of what I was aiming for and what I genuinely thought was achievable. As several people commented on my Strava feed, one to quickly forget and move on.

    There was a mixed bag of results amongst my running friends in the marathon, HM and 10km. The most astonishing performance was by the women's marathon winner Sinead Diver who smashed the course record in a 2:25. In those conditions especially, that is absolutely incredible. 41 year old mother of two who only started running seriously several years ago to get rid of post pregnancy weight.

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    1. Hard lines but as you say it happens to everyone. Enjoy the recovery beers and save the analysis for later!

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    2. never mind LM....theres always another race and if you came out of this uninjured then you'll be stronger next time!

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    3. Wow, Sinead Diver should be competing at National level in her age group. That's outstanding even before you mention her age and recent entry to running! Bad luck on your run going off kilter LM, don't dwell, it's still an astonishing time and can be relegated to experience/training run.

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  6. Hi all, I've been away from the Monday debrief for a while but want to get back into it. Can anyone offer instructions as to how to change my commenter name so that it's not the one linked to my Google profile but rather matches my Guardian name? When I click the drop down menu for 'comment as', the only option is my google account, for which I can't change my name.

    (Kate, it might be helpful to have a how-to guide!)

    Thank you, and looking forward to rejoining the Monday briefing!

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    1. Ooh I think I've figured it out! I had to change my Blogger profile settings - doesn't seem to be an option to have multiple user names so I've reverted to my Guardian name. In the process I rediscovered a blog I last updated in 2010!


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    2. I had to create a new Gmail account with my Guardian name. It's a pain, because it means you have to sign out of your usual one and sign in with the Guardian name one to comment!

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    3. Thanks Ruby. I just checked my emails, it doesn't seem to have affected my email name so that's the main thing!

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  7. Also amazed that we are still having this discussion. We have come so far but obviously still have far to go.

    I went on a running camp to Portugal for 4 days last weekend. Lots of slower sociable miles and info gained form the pros and fellow runners. An amazing weekend when I could run without feeling guilty. I was keen to put my knowledge and new found running mojo into action at parkrun on Saturday. I achieved a ‘clutching at straws’ fastest paced PB. The course had altered slightly and was over 5k when compared to my actual PB which was under 5k. I would love to do a sub 7 min/mile paced park run (currently 15 secs over) so am keen to run faster to run faster. There was lots of great racing this weekend and well done to all those that raced in suboptimal conditions!

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    1. That's some top straw clutching! Good to know you're in form though.

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  8. It's been a while, but I'm back. Lots of changes - new job, new country, bereavement... but things are going ok. Managed to meet up with the Bangkok Runners at last this weekend, for a 15km run from a park on the outskirts of the city back into the centre, mainly along residential backstreets and canals, very nice. Makes a change from interminable loops of Lumpini and Benjakitti. Trail running seems very popular here, so I'm looking forward to opportunities to escape the Big Mango for some nature, hopefully without too many snakes.

    The rainy season should soon be on its way out, though I did have an excellent run in a massive downpour last week where it was like running under a power shower - fortunately my Garmin watch seems pretty waterproof!

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  9. It just seems so obvious to me (as an outsider, as one who would rather never run a single step in mud or up a hill) that the distances should be the same for anyone crazy enough to want to subject themselves to such an event. If you don't care for the distance, do a different event - exactly as per every other running event out there!

    My running weekend was rather fabulous - is that PB klaxon around? Great Birmingham Run half marathon for me on Sunday; I had started the training cycle with the ludicrous (for me) target of 1h30 but realising with 6 weeks to go that I'd have to put four 5k PBs back to back to hit that, I moderated it back to 1h35 (my previous best being 1h38). The forecast for Sunday looked pretty awful - heavy rain throughout - but I had a suspicion that it would actually be great conditions for running; around 10 degrees, light winds, nice cooling rain... I found the 1h35 duracell bunny pacer at the start, and stuck with him like glue as long as I could.

    I've not run with a pacer before and having a group around me helped a lot with the psychology of having other things to think about other than "can I maintain this pace" for 90+ minutes. I added a couple of caffeine energy gels to my usual jelly baby diet at 6.5 and 8 miles, as I often struggle between 8 and 10 miles on a half, and between that and being with the pace group, I felt very strong until about 11.5 miles, just fading very slightly over the last stretch but still holding a reasonable pace.

    I switched my watch to overall time as I came into the last 500m and saw that, at about 1h33m, the 1h35 was right on the cusp... picked up the pace as best I could, steaming towards the finish, and crossed the line in 1h35m14s - over 3 minute improvement on my previous PB and, importantly, edging out by just two seconds the time that a friend set at the Belfast Half a few weeks ago - we have a friendly half-marathon PB tit-for-tat going on so those two seconds felt especially good after she beat me by ~30s at the Wokingham Half earlier this year!

    Overall, it was a great event - the amount of people who came out to cheer us on in awful weather was amazing, Birmingham always does a great job with the crowd support. Today, I can't do stairs, my legs feel like lead, and I'm enjoying every moment of it :)

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    1. Birmingham was my first half in 2012 and I'll always have a soft spot for it - the support is indeed incredible. I'm glad there were people out yesterday - I was eavesdropping on a conversation between two runners next to me on the start line of the Green Leek who were absolutely adamant that there would be absolutely no support whatsoever out in the rain in Birmingham, only kids throwing eggs at the runners. I'm very pleased you've proved them wrong!

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    2. Indeed Ruby - it wasn't as many people as previous years, for sure, but there was still plenty out, and far more than I was expecting to see given the rain! I've done Birmingham for the last four years now. I've missed the Broad Street finish the last couple of years, hopefully by next year the road works will be finished and the "classic" Broad Street finish will return.

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    3. Brilliant stuff, very well done!

      Though I have to say 4x(5k PB pace + 1 min-ish) seems mind-bogglingly difficult, is your 5k PB on the old/soft side? I would die an absolute death attempting that.

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    4. Thanks HD.

      I suspect you're right - I'm sure if I put my mind to it both my 5k and 10k PBs could stand to drop some... the first 10k yesterday was only 20s shy of my current 10k PB (which is over a year old now), and I've never put much effort into 5k (fastest was a random parkrun a few months back where I just decided to go for it).

      I've concentrated mostly on the half marathon distance in recent years - I might have a tilt at lowering the 5k and 10k PBs over the next few months though, sounds like fun!

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    5. Ah, fair do's then. Sounds like they're both there for the taking but obviously it's a choice what you fancy. I've focussed only on 5/10k this year and found the training infinitely more enjoyable than the longer distance stuff. I've yet to decide what 2019 will look like but will probably switch back to the half/25k and tbh I'm already regretting it!

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    6. I think 2019 may well be "a medal a month" for me - running, cycling, whatever, as long as it's got a medal, I'll be there... would be a good excuse to do some faster shorter races!

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  10. Who knew that running lots of hills would make you stronger and faster. Anyway, my time in New Hampshire has definitely made my running much more fun. On Saturday morning I went out in the rain and cold with my daughter for, what turned out to be, a really enjoyable 10 mile run, with more elevation than I’ve ever done in a single run. There was a time when my hands were very cold and gloves could have been used, but in the end I didn’t need them as I eventually got warm. The route included parts of the area I’ve never run before and the views were spectacular, even though there was a lot of rain clouds in the sky. The climbing was at the beginning and the end of the run, with the last mile accounting for over 300ft of elevation.

    Then, on Sunday we started a drive down to Virginia but stopped off in Binghamton, N.Y. to meet up with nondescriptive/Brussels, a regular contributor to the blog and go for a run. When you get the chance to meet a fellow contributor it is very exciting, if a little apprehensive, after all, what happens if you discover you have nothing in common at all. But within the first words exchanged between us you could feel this was going to be fun! It was lovely to meet up with her and chat as we ran through a flat Otsiningo Park. It’s crazy, but it was nondesriptive's/Brussels' training runs on Strava that made me realise the benefits of slow running, but when we actually ran together I found myself running fast, for me! That said running faster didn’t stop me from chatting as we ran through the park. Clearly the hills of New Hampshire were paying results, as well as nondescriptive/Brussels being such good company. In fact, a bit later I’m off to meet her for coffee before continuing the journey to Virginia. If you ever get the chance call in and say hi to nondescriptive/Brussels, you won’t regret it!

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    1. Would love to run with ND! Is her smile as big as it is in all the photos?

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    2. That blog meet-up was definitely my Strava highlight when I woke up this morning!

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    3. That smile is for real ruby!!
      Glad that our meet up and a few beers of your own was a nice pick-me-up LM.

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    4. Great stuff Pete! You're doing pretty well in the blog 'Panini sticker album' competition!

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  11. why always cross country not lighter shot put and javelin 2 less events in heptathlon than decathlon 100m hurdles vs 110 m hurdles (smaller hurdles) smaller barriers in steeple chase

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Reading Kate's post you'll see she's talking about running *distances*, not weights or number of events or the heights of hurdles. And as this is a running blog, shot puts and javelins aren't really relevant.

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    3. its an 'athletic event' correct and my point is they are just as sexist rules is there any reason why women cant throw a heavier shot put or jump over higher hurdles or do the 1500m instead of the 800m. but crucially they are worse as all these events are at the Olympics or world champs with the sexist rules. these things change from the top,
      but my biggest annoyance is when the heptathlon goes on noone mentions why are they not doing the decathlon or why are women doing 100 meters not 110 etc.
      yes i know she was talking about running distances she then claimed that was the only athletic event which was not equal i understand you do not care because you dont do these events but i do care. 'inequality anywhere is a threat to equality everywhere'

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    4. No expert, but is the sprint hurdles distance difference to do with same number of hurdles / shorter stride length? The height difference is massive though, making it a very different event.

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    5. This is just classic whataboutery. You know perfectly well that when I say event I mean standard distances, you've just chosen to be pedantic about it. Because I don't mention other inequalities, it somehow invalidates the one I do mention?

      As it happens I do think that women should also compete in decathlons. However it patently is not the same. To change 6k to 8k would be simplicity itself, particularly where such courses are already marked out and measured for men. To change a heptathlon to a decathlon involves women who have trained specifically for certain events to take on entire new sporting disciplines, which they may have literally never even tried before, and would have to be done gradually. Otherwise it would simply be unfair on those who have trained really hard for the current events. That's not a reason not to do it, but it would have to be done gradually to be fair to everyone. There's also considerable resistance to it from inside the multi event sport. (Multi event sports are also hardly mass participation events, more's the pity as I'd love to give one a go).

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    6. the bad reasoning is when women's hurdles were 80m and 8 hurdles in 1968 changed to10 hurdles and 100 meters same number of hurdles but disproportionately smaller hurdles used 42 vs 33 inch
      anyway im sure women can compete 110m over 42inch hurdles

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    7. What I dislike the most is when someone assumes they know me, what I think, what I do and most of all what I care about, despite never having met me or had a discussion with me. So I'll argue the toss on this one. This is from Kate's opener: "Do you believe that race distances in cross country should be equal - as they are in every other athletic event?" I can't see a claim there that every other athletic event is equal.

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    8. Last sentence should read 'I can't see a claim there that every other athletic event is equal, only a question about distances in cross country.'

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    9. This is just classic whataboutery. i respectfully disagree as im agreeing with the first point of saying cross country races should be equal but then making an additional point that other events should be equal i understand heptathlon decathlons is hard but height of hurdles weight of shot pot and javelin is not.
      and you're comment about multi events not being mass participation is true but irrelevant. because the inequality is shown on the big stage of Olympics it makes it worse than an amateur cross country league.

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    10. on reflection id like to apologise with the acrimonious way i had this discussion i should of said 'kate is right of course however there are other in my opinion more important inequalities in athletics that dont get as much attention' i also apologise for my bad reading comprehension i saw the word athletic event and used it to make a point

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    11. Fair play to you.

      Bit disappointing in a way though, the only things better than watching people argue over disagreements online are 1) otters, 2) people arguing over agreeing.

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    12. "2 less events in heptathlon than decathlon"

      Brilliant :-)

      Also, whenever the decathlon is mentioned one should always quote Steve Ovett:

      "9 Mickey Mouse events and a slow 1500m"

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    13. I challenge anyone to say that to Daley Thompson's face ;)

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  12. Spent the week the not wanting to go out running (too wet, too tired, too windy, etc) but making myself go anyway.

    Saturday was the wettest and windiest day of them all but I dragged myself out of bed and did a very soggy 5k, managed to keep my feet fairly dry until I turned into my street at the end and planted my left foot into a massive puddle before, three steps later, doing the same with my right foot.

    Sunday almost felt like a reward for sticking out the week. Lovely morning running 10 miles and enjoying the autumnal sun. One of those runs where I just went into autopilot, listening to a good podcast whilst ticking off the miles

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  13. I have to confess to having no idea about the differences in distances in these events - nor did I know that women only first competed in Olympic marathons in '84! Must look up and read some more about this.

    No patkrun for me on Saturday, instead I had an hour session with a trainer, which was a birthday gift from my sister. She had intended me to take it well in advance of the Oxford Half I ran last weekend (still no medal received from the organisers Virgin) to help with my training... But since I didn't really do very much in the way of training, I booked it for afterwards.

    I was truly amazed how helpful this session was. In the one hour he analysed my gait, running style, limb and body positions. Gave advice on how I could alter these to improve technique. Also that I needed to buy some decent trainers and throw out the 5 year old 'cheapest from Sportsdirect' I currently use.
    Then I was timed running around a 400m track. We went through warm-up and training exercises I could implement, and strength training. Practiced new breathing and running techniques, and saw how these minor alterations can make a big difference.
    At the end I ran the 400m track again, using some of what I had just learnt and I was 20 seconds faster. This really showed me how, if I can learn some of these new ways, and start using a training plan including intervals, hills, plus other strength building exercises, I can achieve one of my aims - which is to go sub 25 mins at 5k. He thought this was definitely within reach, even 23 - 24 mins.
    So the hard work starts now. My aim this winter is to go faster at parkrun. Then i shall aim for MK Half in May, and hopefully actually use a training plan this time and try to achieve my second ambition - to run a Half in under 2 hours.

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    1. Well done. If you can, and want to, and there's one near you, joining a running club can make a huge difference in motivating you to keep up the sessions and meet those goals.A good club should have all those sessions available, and you'll benefit from people's experience and coaching abilities if there are coaches in the club too.

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    2. Yes you're quite right. The organisers of the local parkrun are running club members so no excuses really.

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  14. It's astounding that the argument has to be won again so many times in each new area we discuss it. And we see the same straw man rebuttals in each area too - some even in the blog comments...

    I had a disappointing week. Both physically and mentally exhausted at present - too much travel made it hard to fit sessions in, and those I did do weren't up to scratch. I console myself that I am on a taper towards next weekend's Abingdon Marathon but I have lost a good deal of confidence about the time I expect to run.

    It didn't help to have a terrible run yesterday - the 18k (half at MP) that I was supposed to do turned into a slower 16k after a bus drenched me (I am sure quite deliberately) early on and I couldn't summon up the energy to push through the rain after that. Will have to try and sleep as much as possible this week and keep fingers crossed.

    At least it will all be over soon!

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    1. Mate, all the very best for this coming Sunday. I know your prep hasn't been ideal. But hopefully that takes the pressure off and you can relax and enjoy it...insofar as one can enjoy racing over 42km!

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    2. Wishing you some extra rest this week and the very best of luck on race day. With your travel schedule I probably would have thrown a tantrum and thrown in the towel already-- mad respect.

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    3. Good luck Squirblej. I hope you're getting all the sleep you need - remember, the hard work is done!

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    4. Very late getting to this this week, but the very best of luck for this weekend.

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  15. THE PB THAT WASN'T
    I ran a HM on Sunday that I'd first entered last year (and was my first HM). It's a great run along Auckland's waterfront, starting at the Mission Bay fountain. It's then a figure of 8 course back to the fountain. I'd bought some new trainers a few weeks ago and was persuaded to try Mizuno instead of my usual Asics. I hate them. I just can't seem to break the bloody things in. By 10km I had bad pins and needles in my feet and by 17km they were numb. Anyway, I crossed the finish line, checked my watch - and bugger me a PB of 2:06:38. Worth the pain I thought. Well, until today when it was announced on Facebook that the marshalls had been standing in the wrong place and we'd been turned around too early. So not only hadn't I run a HM, no PB either! Still, it was a charity run and all the proceeds will go to Indonesia. Still hate these Mizunos though.

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    1. Bin them - feet shouldn’t ever hurt or feel numb running.
      Sorry about the non-pb.
      I heard that the Aviemore 10k was only 8.3k a year or two ago, after the runners followed a bike from the start down the wrong path. Bike was not meant to be leading them, was just heading back to Aviemore the most direct route. Had no idea hundreds of runners were chasing after him!

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    2. Ah, that's gutting. I hope the organisers made a grovelling apology. I hate Mizunos too - I flirted with a pair for a while but never really got on with them. I agree with McWhirr - cut your losses and go back to what you know.

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    3. arghh, that would infuriate me! At least there was the charity aspect as consolation. I love Mission Bay!

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  16. Cross-Country was being discussed at club last week, I think our local runs are the same distance now but don't know if this carries across the whole of Scotland. I had a great weekend of running, did Parkrun in dreich conditions but I felt really good and yesterday was cool and clear so I had a lovely 8 mile run and felt like I could have kept going...oh, and I signed up to my first Marathon too 😯

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    1. Oooh you did? What marathon is it?

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    2. It's the Loch Ness Marathon, I have a year to wait so plenty of time to prepare properly but I aim to do a fair number of Halfs in Spring/Summer to get me to a decent level to train for the full thing

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  17. Low-key week just gone and to come for me as I take it relatively easy before the Muggelsee HM on Sunday. Still contemplating whether to go all out and risk disaster or aim to sneak under a wee PB..decisions decisions. I did manage a 400m in 80.0 (self-timed) at the track in midweek though so just a bawhair off starting with a '7' there for the first time.

    Hat-tip to a couple of club-mates who did the Brockenmarathon on Saturday, a race which to me sounds a complete bloody misery. My gentle club trot at the same time was a much more pleasurable alternative!

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    1. Good luck - I think with a HM it's best to stick to a set pace for the first half, and crank it up after that if you feel good.

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  18. correct me if im wrong but xc leagues are not businesses they are member organisations with agm's and votes so surely it should be easy to get the change trough as when the question is asked who agrees we should have 2 races of 5 miles no one can make a logical argument not to do that.

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    1. Yes but as Kate says in the opening post, when the women are asked there doesn't seem to be a majority for it and clubs (I imagine at least, I am not in the UK running club scene at all and happy to be corrected) are scared they'll struggle to put out teams when they hear reluctance to change.

      There's a small survey referenced here which, if my maths is right, comes out 85-59 against for change among women: https://www.athleticsweekly.com/blog/cross-country-equality-88312/

      I was actually googling for a different article which was more recent which set out the arguments against and had a rebuttal from Maud giving the other view but I can't find it.

      Anyway, as far as I can tell, most adult women aren't too fussed to change but when Scotland (and the IAAF) just did it anyway, it hasn't hurt. To me the bigger issue isn't that what adults run as a historical quirk hasn't been corrected (I largely agree with Paula Radcliffe) but the fact girls and boys are from an early age are still sometimes (I believe in the juniors the equality is coming much quicker) separated into long and short distances which is completely unjustifiable. Adults know better and can make various choices, it's outrageous wee girls now get the short option by default when we know that the reasons behind the historical distance quirks are bollocks.

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    2. interesting i assumed most women would be for it . what is interesting is there is 2.5 million people in 2016 England that ran how many of them compete in cross country? a small amount which says a lot at my club most people dont compete

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    3. @HD totally agree with you about kids' XC. It's 2018 and already we're setting up girls to think they can't run as far as boys-totally nonsensical. Although am pleased to see in Warwickshire at least that the boys and girls (at least the primary-aged ones which is where my son's at) run the same distance.

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    4. The young women I run with, when I do cross country with my university club, almost all say "oh, I couldn't do more than 5km!" They also strike me as very self-effacing when talking about how their race went. I think we have a long way to go in changing the culture so that women grow up confident in our abilities. I'm probably 15 years older than most of them, and I'm trying to set an example. It doesn't come easily to me either, especially talking up my achievements. So far my main success has been talking positively about how I'm feeling at the start when the others are talking down their expectations.

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    5. The English Nationals distances will remain the same this year, but the situation is being monitored: http://www.englishcrosscountry.co.uk/news/ecca-decides-on-national-cross-country-championship-distances-for-senior-men-and-women-for-2019/

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  19. I think the powers that be of XC should offer a 5k short course and a 10k long course for everyone. Problem solved. Everyone is happy. 5k and 10k are optimal distances for different types of runners; this way we get more races and runners can choose the distance they're best suited to.

    I love XC but prefer to stay in the 5k range. And there's a 5k XC race near here next week so I'll be doing that.

    This weekend I had a horsey friend in from the wilds of Canada. The weekend was mostly about doing horsey stuff - riding, tack shops, going to the races in the rain - but I managed to squeeze in some runs at the end of the day. It abruptly turned cold here last week and it's back to layers and outerwear. Hello, long winter.

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  20. My back had a bad week...its to be expected, recovery isnt linear. Luckily junior stepped in to take up the running mantle.

    It was national 'motion day' in Denmark and every kid has to go out and run around a course 'for as long as they want'.

    Last year Asta jnr did 3 laps of the park (1200m) for 3.6k in total...crazy stuff for a 7 year old. This year though....drum roll please....

    10 F@*#%G LAPS!!!!! 12k! 72 minutes of continuous running!!!

    She always makes me proud but this one blew me away. What a little competitor!

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    1. She's amazing, she's got the gene!

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    2. thats impressive however im fascinated in the has to part of ' every kid has to go out and run around a course '

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    3. That's incredible, well done to her!

      Btw I see your post did not reference entering a new age category...mmm!

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    4. Sorry your back's not been happy this week. And... happy birthday? Asta junior is clearly a Duracell bunny in disguise (but also truly her father's daughter).

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    5. @parkrunner - 'has to' in the same way thaty every kid 'has to do maths' during a maths lesson. They can put as much effort into it as they want (or dont want) but there's no skipping school.

      @HD - the age category changes on 1st Jan here - runners are treated like racehorses so we know who the opposition are for the season - no sudden entries from sprightly youngsters!

      @Ruby - thanks! officially hungover!

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  21. How about equality of finish position too so gender is disregarded when compiling the results ?

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  22. Hi 👋new to posting on the Monday Debrief. Happy to be here but sad to be missing out on the XC season and all of its un-equal distances. I live in Paris and haven't yet figured out the French club system, let along if there is an XC league, so in the meantime I'm doing my training runs solo.
    Coming off the back of Chicago Marathon (3min PB!) last week I've had a very chill week of running - didn't even hit 15km! Definitely feels a bit weird and I have to keep reminding myself that this is called 'recovery' and is 'necessary' for the 'long term'. Eh. Just want to run again!

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    1. Congratulations on Chicago! How was your race? Any special changes that you think got that PB, or was it a case of everything just going your way?

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    2. @Brussels - Thanks! The race was fine, didn't pace it particularly well and then slowed down from 30km. However, I held on mentally longer than I usually do when things start going south so some learnings there! No special changes to training really, just don't run fast marathons very often!

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  23. My toe is broken, I'm confined to quarters for a couple of weeks more with an NHS 'sandal'. Doing what I can workout-wise in the meantime to keep me sane. Yorkshire marathon was yesterday, in the pouring rain all day long, oh dear, poor runners!

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    1. Boo. Just think how wet you'd have got though. I was soaked through just doing 10.5k.

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    3. NHS 'sandal' lol. you make it sound almost as sexy as the Fendi vulva scarf I read about in the Guardian yesterday!

      Get well soon KYD!

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    4. Get well soon! At least you got to stay dry..

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    5. Asta - that was a hilarious scarf and picture, thought it must have been fake news/fools day material!
      Tbh the main benefit of my 'sandal' is keeping any clutz away from my foot as it highlights my injury. But yes, it's extremely unattractive.

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  24. It's a really weird one as to how we got in this position; I'm not completely against the idea of different parameters for female sport, there's a discussion in cricket at the moment of shortening the wicket for female players, that is getting a fair amount of support from the female players at the moment, and the argument is very much one that women should be able to manage their sports how they see fit, rather than have to adhere to the rules men made for the men game. There's also different distances and times for cricket boundaries, gold tees, and tennis matches.
    But that's never been the case with running has it? The only difference I know in running is for the hurdles, which I think is to ensure there aren't awkward stride lengths, but all the rest are even distances.
    The biggest weird part of the entire thing though is organisers telling women no, in a kind of "I know what's best for you" way, because that's a great way to run sport. Whatever decision is made about the distances, it should be womens' choice and nobody else.


    Away from that, a very quiet weekend; long weekend off work involved a lot of going out for breakfasts/brunch in the rain and eating to the point that running seemed like a really bad idea. Managed to get out today and ran a HM distance to get back up to speed, I've got a fair bit of pace kept over from the GNR at the moment, so going to try and maintain that till December when I'll start Manchester Marathon training (condolences to the many people who didn't get in the ballot).

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    1. in cricket the differences are only really noticeable at the high end level in league cricket women regularly play in the male leagues. almost the exact opposite of this issue parity at the wxc and not lower down.
      also in cricket theyve only recently become professional so the levels are different in athletics the performances are on par obviously not times

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  25. Just a 70min run with middle 40 at Marathon Pace for me - with marathon pace being 7'10 but knowing that I potentially could push below this. Coach said I had to keep it to 7'10 and finish feeling like I'd not had to try. That was done - it was a challenge keeping the pace steady around that and I say that not as a brag but because it was actually quite fatiguing constantly looking at my watch to make sure I was around that pace, instead of running to feel. It was rather muggy though. So.... one week of taper crazies and then the test of the first post-baby marathon. IThis is the first time since my first marathon that I'm going into a race genuinely unsure if I can even finish the distance. I've always run at least 22 and usually 26 in training as well as 60+ mile weeks. This time I've maxed out at 18miles and on 48 mile week with the rest being closer to 35. Gulp. That said, I'm SO excited! Now id this cold can go away from me and the small boy then I'd be able to get some sleep...

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    1. I can only speak from personal experience, and I'm not an expert by any stretch. That being said, my long run distance was maxed out at around 18 miles as well, and I finished a marathon comfortably. You've already gone the distance before... trust in that cumulative training, the distance is already there. And putting in that amount of training miles with a small child is a feat in and of itself! Good luck!

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    2. You'll ace it Gill, it must all still be in your muscle memory. Four sub-3 marathons in 2017 within months of each other, wasn't it?!! What marathon are you doing this time?

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    3. Enjoy the marathon Gill! You'll be fine with the distance.

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  26. Still no running last week, but finally, I am allowed to start running again - slowly. After another x-ray the sling is off, but still a whole raft of other restrictions. However, at least this time the doctor explained why they were being so careful. I broke it in the worst possible place with the worst possible angle of break and if I stuff up the work done in surgery, it will be very difficult, if not impossible to fix.
    Although allowed to run, after walking 3km back to the station with the sling off, it ached enough to convince me that a few days sling-less walking before running is probably a good idea. Given I had managed 75km walking over the week with the sling and no aches, it just shows the difference without the sling makes. Maybe a slow parkrun next weekend......

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  27. Been away for a couple of weeks, so good to catch up on the chat. The subject matter this week had me reflecting on my other sport, equestrianism, where it is normal practice for women and men to compete on completely equal terms. Though it's not so long ago (OK, in the 1960s and 70s) that women were not allowed to compete in the Olympic three-day event, and one of the top British women had to hand over her horse to a man to ride on the team! Thankfully these days are behind us.

    On the running front, I've been super-lazy, having been on holiday for two weeks. Running was simply not a safe activity whilst on a riding safari in the Okavango Delta in Botswana (best trip ever, highly recommend if you can ride fast, love wide open spaces and aren't too frightened of a) large wild animals and b) a large hole in your bank balance), then was very busy stuffing my face on food and delicious wine in South Africa for week two. But it wasn't all bad - the safari riding was pretty energetic - pony trekking it was not - and spending six hours a day in the saddle was a whole new challenge for my knees and hips. And once in SA, I ran 5k every morning, before starting the eat-and-drink-fest.

    Back home, and back to work.... kept up the daily 5ks, and managed a very wet but enjoyable 10k in the lashing rain on Saturday. Oh, and one of my toenails fell off. A first. The one I did harm to in the Edinburgh HM in May. It's neighbour, badly damaged in the Crathes HM in Sept looks bad and will follow suit. I just keep applying more nail varnish meantime.

    Enough wittering. I need a new goal! Pondering a marathon, but just not sure I've got it in me. Certainly not a spring one, as training all winter in the dark and cold when time is tight and horses need more care doesn't work well for me. Maybe an autumn one....? We'll see.

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    1. I'm curious, when a toe nail drops off will it re-grow? I know someone whose thumb was once bitten by a dog and the nail split but never grew again apparently, so was left with a dead split nail.

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    2. Having a toe nail drop off, RunnersAndRiders, is part and parcel. I've had plenty come off over the years... the first, coincidentally, about three or four months after damaging it during my very first HM. And, Murmuration, yes they do. With the distances I run, I put my toe nails through hell and I've always got at least one either in the process of dropping off or growing back.

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    3. I was a bit freaked out at the thought of it happening, but now that it has, I'm fine with it. It doesn't hurt, and there does appear to be a new nail growing, though it has a way to go. Mark, your time frame of 3-4 months seems about right, so I'll be expecting the big ugly one to be ready to depart sometime around Christmas!

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    4. One of my little toe nails fell off about three months after I ran London. The other has been threatening to since April but still hasn't!

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    6. Worst thing was, I was away on business and staying in a hotel when I noticed it was missing, so pity the poor housekeeping staff who may have found a random, unattached and nicely painted toenails somewhere in my room! Gads!

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  28. It's fascinating that some people believe cross-country race distances were ordained by God from the beginning of time, or perhaps dictated to Joseph Smith. I'm a cross-country novice, but the most competitive of the few races I've competed in was 6km for men and 4.5km for women. Odd, yes, but fundamentally different? No. Especially when you consider that courses can vary so much, so you're not racing for time anyway.

    The second thing that strikes me is this perception that 5km is easier, or something akin to a junior event. Tell that to anyone who races 5000m on the track, or indeed signs up to a 5km road race. Yet everyone I've spoken to reacts to the idea of equal distances with the assumption it would be achieved by lengthening the women's race. That's fine with me, but it's also fine with me if it goes the other way. What difference does it make?

    One of the guys on my team told me he wasn't attending the 6km race because he saw it as poor value for money compared to the usual 8km races. Yet women pay the same entry fee every week for 3km less race distance.

    In other news... I had my very first running blog meet-up this weekend, as you may have already read! It was brilliant to have a run around one of my favourite local parks with breezehillpete, and to have a coffee this morning with him and his wife. When I started contributing to the blog, I thought maybe I'd get to know other runners in Sydney, Australia. It turns out that the first time any of my running blog/strava friendships appeared in the real world required both Pete and I to be on the other side of the world from our respective 'home's. I will point out that I beat a bunch of you lot who live and race much closer to Pete and haven't pulled off a meet-up yet! Ha! Pull your socks up, UK-based running bloggers!

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    1. I'm planning a run in the shadow of the Shenandoah national park in the morning, Brussels. Come on down! It only took us 7 hours, though over an hour of that was shopping in an unfamiliar grocery store! Maybe there's bears in them woods! We could go for a multi-state meet up.

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  29. Morning folks. Marathon training continues for me, and it's going well. 27km on Sunday, and I got lucky with the weather again - 13 degrees, cloudy, bits of drizzle here and there. I did it in under average 6 mins per km, which I was really pleased with, although the very last km was a real struggle. Felt a bit nauseous when I got in, but a big glass of milk sorted that out, then 9 hours' solid kip that night and I felt fine Monday morning.

    Another general Japan/not-Japan observation. Whenever you see foreign runners here they nearly always run taking these huge, slow, looping strides, whereas the Japanese almost invariably adopt a very short, quick, pitter-patter style. I remember reading somewhere that the former is a quick way to injury so I use a Japanese style, with a high cadence. Probably makes me look a bit daft, but I've yet to be injured (argh! tempting fate) so I guess it works for me.

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    1. Makes sense. With slow, looping strides you're putting the brakes on with every jolt to the ground rather than seamlessly keeping momentum with quick cadence steps. I had to keep to 178-180 bpm after my ITB injury and it real helped my rehab. I've found it hard to maintain though and don't manage it nearly as often as I should.

      Glad to hear and see your running is going so well TD, you deserve a good mara result.

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    2. Thanks KYD. Yeah, I think my cadence is usually around 180. I always start off lower and have to remind myself to shorten my stride, but it feels really comfortable when I settle into the rhythm.

      Sorry to hear about your broken toe. Give it the full rest so it completely heals, and you’ll be flying again in no time.

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    3. As far as I understand it, long looping steps are more likely to result in heel striking, hence the putting the brakes on. Also, generalising, it seems that (Western) men have this kind of running style more than women (I said I was generalising). Great training run TD-during my marathon training I think I found those 'shorter' long runs tougher than the long long runs, so good going.

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    4. I've always assumed being shorter naturally gave you a shorter, quicker stride. In school I was the cox on the rowing team and when I (all 5ft 5 inches) went on a run with the rowers (all taller) I found I took a lot more strides than those I was running beside.

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    5. Yes, of course, it's all outrageous generalising, but I agree it does seem to be mostly the blokes who run like that, and younger blokes at that. I have a theory they are picturing themselves in some action movie, bounding along like rambo :)

      Don't know about "shorter"! It was hard to actually find somewhere to keep running for 27km, even in Tokyo. I have a 28, a 30, and a 35 left to do, and I have proper routes planned out for them all, so we'll see how I manage them. Thanks for the encouragement anyway!

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  30. I have a lot of thoughts about the cross country stuff and as with many things in that vein, I find that the conversation and the reaction are various societal issues writ small. I am not surprised at all to read in some of the comments that many of the women who they have spoken to don't believe they could run longer distances or don't seem to be so interested in it. I believe that is in part a consequence of upbringing, and I do firmly believe that girls have often been brought up to underestimate themselves. I will leave it at that and say that I do have hope that things are improving and I am very glad to see that we are able to have a mostly civil conversation about this subject here. It may seem small but it is a symptom of a bigger problem, and improving small things is how we will tackle the beast.

    I have a lot more thoughts on this but I will spare you all, as this is a running blog.

    The weather here in Austria has been an absolute dream, so on Saturday we were on another mountain. That was a 10k hike with about 1200m of elevation gain all told. Sunday I ran 21k. Not quite as speedy as usual but was happy to get the distance into my legs and felt quite chuffed about my level of activity this weekend. Just what I needed after another week of drudgery in the office. This Sunday I'll be running a 27k race. It is not a peak performance race, rather more for fun. I hope the nice weather will hold.

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  31. As XC is not really my thing (i did one race with my old club and hated it) it's easy for me to say they should be equal. Idealogically i definitely think they should be equal but i sort of understand those that don't want to change the distances because it doesn't suit them as much. We were talking (or rather Mr Messepip was and i was trying to understand) about XC at the club last night as two of the super fast women love it (and are in the french national XC team). Apparently in France there is equality but there's the option of a short course and a long course. I didn't quite catch how far the long course is but the short one is 4km normally (that i might be able to cope with).
    I am not entirely sure when the races start though but i'll let you know how they go if i manage to get roped into one! :D

    Weekend's running - we met a british lady at the parkrun in paris a few weeks ago who has a super fast husband and got chatting and swapped numbers to meet up for runs. They'd signed up for a local 10k just outside Paris: "Boucles de Garches" and asked if we wanted to join and go for brunch after, so even though only a week after the Lyon half we decided to go for it as didn't really matter if it was a bit slow. It turned out to actually be 10.5km and on a really hilly road course! Bah! It's also been unseasonably warm here so not my fastest time ever, but actually given tired legs, hills and the heat it wasn't as slow as i thought it would be. It was really well organised apart from the free for all start and the post race recovery drinks/snacks table was AMAZING! Our friends came 5th male and 2nd female overall (so they are a bit faster than us) but they have similar approaches to running and races so hopefully we'll meet up for more runs in the future. :)

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    1. I'm liking the sound of the post-race drinks/snacks table. Sounds like my kind of event.

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  32. Yorkshire Marathon weekend for me. Thanks to ongoing niggles and other things I've been running less than 20K a week and easing round parkrun outside of 30 minutes. However the cut-off was 7 hours which looked feasible for a jog/walk a bit under 10 minutes a km. After the initial rush of the first few kilometres, I settled in to a run/walk keeping under 8 minutes per kilometre - setting my watch to average lap pace, walking if I felt like it and running if the pace was getting too close to 8 minutes. It's an enjoyable run, starting at the university and heading into the city centre with the Minster bells ringing before heading out to countryside to the east of the city. There was great support at the roadside despite the constant cold and drizzle - it was especially nice to see two ladies who I had been chatting to at Heslington parkrun the day before and who had said that they would come out to support. By the second half, I only had to keep under 9 minutes per km to get in under six hours. I picked up the pace a little in the last few kilometres to get round in 5:22, certainly not my best but also not my worst marathon. I then went back to my guest house and spent two hours under the duvet defrosting. Marathon number 15 done and my 9th letter of the alphabet ticked off (BELPRSVYZ so far).

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    1. Well done, that's quite a while to be out in the pouring rain!

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    2. Well done. 10.5K and 48 minutes out in that rain was more than enough for me!

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    3. 15 marathons - incredible! Congratulations.

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  33. Cabbage Patch 10 for me last Sunday. I went into it with a sore left hip, which appeared after Thursday lunchtime's tempo run. I figured I should run somewhere in the 5:40/5:45 pace area, but went out considerably quicker, 5:32/5:35/5:37/5:37, running in a group that was just a little too quick for me - I fell out the back after four miles, then had a couple of people ease past me in the next two miles, before a solitary four miles to the finish. For the last three miles I just worked as well as I could to keep below 6m/m. I briefly considered a beer refreshment just after the ninth mile, but abstained, hanging on for a 47s PB - 57:28, finishing 13th (2nd in a/c). I suspect with more even pacing and a group to work with I might have run 57-low, something to try next time I race 10 miles.

    I barely had time to get back home to pick up my family for us to all go and run a 5k in my local park to raise money for the Reverse Rett charity. My daughter humoured her younger brother and jogged the first lap before vanishing into the distance on the second lap, my wife ran her first continuous 5k and I got to run the 5k in interval-style with my son - sprint, walk/stretch, sprint, spin-turn/fight imaginary battle, sprint, etc. I enjoyed the flapjack at the finish!

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  34. I posted something deep and meaningful yesterday from my apple device and it just disappeared never to be seen again - google+ seems to be working against me from the iThings. I won't bother with the detail but basically, I agree with Kate and the consensus here. How do I tell my 18 year old daughter that she can't do what my 19 year old son does because of gender? It's not logical and it's not going to happen.

    So onto the recent running. Saturday at 6pm was 20 degrees c with a horrible warm breeze and just felt wrong for this time of year in the North West of England. I managed 9k but came back feeling out of sorts. Sunday was 8 degrees c and beautiful in Macclesfield Forest for a dog walk, despite the rain. Much more seasonally correct. My photos don't live up to Breezehill Pete's of New England but the autumn colours here are pretty good. I was particularly envious of the trail runners and cross country people out doing their thing. The walk and the pub lunch (Ship, Wincle) were a decent reward for braving the rain though so no complaints. I've managed to get out for a pre-work 10k this morning (Tuesday) but again feel out of sorts. No oomph and only 4 weeks until the Cheshire 10k. Some variety needed I think. Happy running, everyone.

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    1. Try running up some hills GJ. Always works for me when I'm feeling out of sorts.

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    2. Hi Ruby, I know I should but I'm a hill-avoider at the best of times. I'll force myself to do some shuttles up and down my local calf burner.

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  35. Folks – SOS! My Dad was supposed to be doing the Birmingham marathon last weekend before it got shortened to a half. He thought he’d signed up for the new distance but got suspicious when he realised a couple of weeks ago he hadn’t heard anything from the organisers. Somehow it hadn’t worked and he was too late to re-sign up. I’m pretty sure he quietly had his eye on a PB and seemed gutted when explaining the situation on the phone the other day. Are there any other halfs coming up in the UK? Preferably midlands or the south west, but London could be doable?

    Regarding the different distances in cross country, I’m happy to add to the echo chamber here. I agree Kate – it’s barmy (..barmy…barmy..)

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    1. rugby half marathon 28 october?

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    2. https://www.runbritain.com/races?&distance=HM heres a list some might be sold out already etc there also might be ones that dont get on the site

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