Friends make miles go by faster, even if the miles themselves are slower ...



I do a lot of running. I also do an awful lot of miles by myself. Mostly, it's a necessity of timetabling rather than a deliberate choice - fitting runs in around family life and school pick ups and weekend activities and the like. I hardly lack for potential running buddies, given so much of my life actually revolves around running: I'm co-captain of the Windmiler's ladies team, I coach track sessions, I volunteer at junior parkrun or the Hercules athletics sessions my kids have just joined, oh, and yes, I write about it.

And yet... so many miles, all by myself. So many solo track sessions, just me going round in 400m circles with only the sarcastic geese of Barn Elms to watch on, unimpressed. So many long slow runs with only some tunes for company. So many ploddy solo recovery runs. All of which is run up to saying how much I enjoyed two opportunities to run with friends in the last week. On Wednesday, I went for a lovely rambly conversational run with my friend Sarah (of Art of Your Success fame - guys, if you want running-themed Christmas presents, that's the link for you). Nine miles passed ridiculously quickly, and also ensured that I kept my recovery/easy run pace truly easy - when a run is supposed to be "conversational" it really does help to actually have that conversation.

Then yesterday my long run took me to the Fulham 10k - half an hour to get there, 10k chasing Sophie around the streets of Fulham, then half an hour home again. Again, a long run that went by so quickly, thanks to both company.

All of which is really to say to all BTL who occasionally struggle (Phil, you inspired this thought!) - go find running buddies. If you aren't a club kind of person, persuade a friend to get into running just for the company. Strike up the courage to start a conversation with someone you see out running at the same time as you a lot. Join some forums and see if they turn up someone your pace, near you. Whatever you need to find company, because we all need it.

Comments

  1. I do love it when one of my daughters joins me for a run, and my 13 year old is coming to Parkrun with me more frequently now. Other than that, I'm not really a very sociable runner on account of the fact I need all my energy for breathing, not talking.

    For me it was Parkrun on Saturday, lots of beer at a party on Saturday night, then a 'I really don't want to do this, but I shall' 8km hangover run on Sunday.

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  2. Wholeheartedly agree with Kate on the benefits of running with company. Over 18 years or so, I have dipped in and out of running solo and with a group / squad. On the whole, the latter is far more beneficial. I wouldn't have met a lot of people I now consider as close friends if I only ran solo.

    It was a pretty eventual weekend of running and related activities for me. A story in three parts…

    Friday evening was my squad’s annual “beer mile” race. Per usual, I was the race director and chief judge. It’s a nightmare of an event to police, and we even had video footage from various sources, including a Go Pro which we stuck on a sightscreen on the cricket oval! Record number of entries, so we had to run two waves. The top 3 blokes were all under 7 minutes (6:30 for the winner) and the leading female clocked 9:44, just 7 months after giving birth! Some of the highlights were hilarious, including a couple of spectacular spews. Main thing is that everyone enjoyed themselves.

    Saturday morning was parkrun. One of my squad mates who did photography for the beer mile was there so I knew I would have company. After 500m, I turned to him and said something like “We don’t need to go any faster. We keep up this pace and we’ve got this.” I don’t usually make bolshy calls like this within the first km, but we managed to put a pretty sizeable gap on the field. That said, I was effectively pacing my mate and he was hanging onto my shoulder so my perceived effort level was high, relative to the pace I was running. Had to put in a surge at the end to make sure of first place in 17:50. My mate was only 4 seconds behind. My time wasn’t really spectacular, but I’ll take first place and just as significant, I paced my mate to a sub 18. He’s been going through a very tough time lately so I was glad to help out, albeit inadvertently.

    Yesterday was my longest training run of the year. 30km with a select few squad members on a beautiful Sydney morning. The pace picked up at the end and my legs were feeling the pinch somewhat after parkrun but nevertheless managed to average 4:26 mins/km. A classic example of the benefits of running with company! Happy to put that one in the bank, and definitely pulled up better than I did the previous Sunday.

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    1. Great weekend effort LM...but you forgot to include your time for the beer mile...

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    2. I think race director and judge is a euphemism for wimp!

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    3. Nice running LM, feels like spring/summer is in the air!

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    4. That was harsh Handsome Devil, but possibly well deserved!

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  3. Yep, you just can't beat running with people!

    Great weekend for me, ran the Bedgebury Forest half marathon in Kent on Sunday. It’s a challenging trail/hilly course in an absolutely stunning location , bright autumnal sunshine and frosty start. You really want to wear gloves/tights etc at the start but a few miles in you’re happy that you didn’t and I could’ve traded my t-shirt for a vest. Really loved the challenging two lap course, for once I ran purely by feel as its certainly not a PB course and I’m certainly not in PV shape anyways! It felt slow to me like sub 8m/m pace but I just wanted to stick with the two groups in sight so I was happy and surprised to finish in 1hr35, quite refreshing to run that way, this running just for enjoyment thing may catch on! 

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    1. That's a cracking time for an off-roader, well done!

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  4. I had a nice 13k this weekend, the first half of which I spent running over to meet a friend, and then she showed me one of her favorite running routes.

    Generally I run alone. I used to run with a group about once a week but I made a conscious decision to pull back from it when I started getting little injuries quite frequently. Running with people can be really great, but I find it very hard to have genuinely easy runs when I run with a group. I was shifting my methodology at the time to a more 80/20 method, ie, lots of quite easy running, and the group runs on top of my planned workout was just too much. So I cut them, and stopped getting injured so much.

    I've gotten to the point where I prefer to run alone most of the time. No scheduling, no faffing, peace and quiet. I did enjoy having a bit of company on my weekend run though, so I might start seeking it out often. But I think for me once or twice a week with company is definitely a maximum, and I don't feel like it's a necessity for me. But I do find that I need more alone time than the average bear in general :).

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  5. I like(d) doing both. Long runs better in a group, fast stuff better alone so I'm in control. Also, when on a coached schedule it's hard to find someone doing similar things on the same day in the same place.

    My improvement continues at snails pace. However, I reached the point this week where I'd met all the (arbitrary) tests that I'd set with coach as precursors to a return to 'proper training'...so from next Monday I'm out of phase one of my recovery and into phase 2 (no longer master of my own destiny).

    So, a perfect time for my ankle to pack up and scream 'no more'. Physio tomorrow :(

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    1. I really hope you get a bulk discount in physio hours.

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    2. So sorry that you're continuing to have problems with your ankle. Hope the physio helps.

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    3. I thought you were in phase 2 Asta, simply because your runs on Strava have read #2.**

      Still, it's a step, or steps, in the right direction. Hope it all goes well.

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  6. I don't think I run enough long distances that I feel the need for company, but it does help take your mind off the pain when you have someone to chat to! Or it can be a good excuse to not try as hard at parkrun ;-)

    I did my first Thai trail race yesterday, and won my first every running trophy! I came 5th lady in the 10km race but 2nd in my age group, which here warrants a trophy (first three in every age group and the three overall winners) in most races. So that was quite exciting. I quickly forgot how painful it was (sooo hot! and so much running on soft sand!) and instead am remembering how I let go of my fears to fly down the descents through the jungle, and passed a field full of oxen with sonorous cowbells :-).

    I then had 5 hours of hanging around waiting for my partner to finish his 50km. It was twice round a 25km loop, so I saw him at halfway, where he was looking surprisingly perky and then he ended up coming 6th, with a sprint finish to beat another runner in the last 50 metres! As the organisers had announced the trophy ceremony for 11.30am, he was hoping he'd be back in time for that (5 hours) - but as it happened, the winner took 5 and half hours, and the runners were very spaced out, with my partner taking almost 7 hours to come in 6th. I was starting to get worried as it was his first ever ultra and first time spending such a long time out running in the Thai heat, but fortunately a bucket of ice down his shirt at every water stop managed to keep him heatstroke free (though very wet!).

    So that's our weekend exploits, quite exciting, and hopefully we'll find more local races!

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    1. Running through jungles sounds fantastic! Although I have no idea how you run in that heat - I found the heat totally energy-draining when I went to Thailand! I guess you get used to it?

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    2. It sounds really amazing, but I agree with Ruby. Over 20 degrees and I become a whinging toddler - "I can't do it! Mummm!" Well done to you!

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    3. This sounds like so much fun! Congrats on the trophy too!

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  7. Running alone is hugely convenient given life so often gets in the way - whenever you get a chance you can be changed, trained, showered and changed again inside an hour, or even less, and there comes a point that's not far off being the main benefit of the sport. That said, had I realised running wasn't only miles of lonely plodding, I suspect I'd have taken it more seriously sooner. Probably not as my main thing, given I only started when too old, injured and knackered for football, but who knows.

    Anyway, I started 2019 yesterday with the 12k loop and a trip to the gym this morning - can't say I've quite clicked the switch to get back into it but the targets are written in sweat for next year will hopefully drag me round winter.

    Well done to everyone getting out and about.

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  8. Recovery continues. This week the swim hurt less and I was able to run the next day, although not to get up in time for parkrun. Managed a sub 50 10K. 128m ascent means it was never going to be that fast. This puts my 10K efforts very close to pre-crash levels, but 5Ks are still a long way off. Hopefully the hilly 10s will help with flatter 5s.

    I mostly run alone for the convenience, but when I get up in time, make an exception for parkrun

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  9. Funny you should post this today Kate, as I had my own running with a friend joy this weekend. Yesterday was Broadway half marathon - the one we've all been waiting for (well, those of you who knew I'd signed up for it back in the heady days of summer at least). For the last few months I've been running up a lot of hills and over a lot of fields, and rotating my ankles in every direction possible to prepare for my first trail half. I do quite a lot of off-road running anyway, and I enjoy the odd XC run, but this would be my first foray into proper trail racing.

    The nicest thing about an entirely new running experience is that there's no pressure to perform, not PB to chase, no expectations to live up to. I was also reassured by experienced trail racers I know that walking up the hills is positively encouraged. Thank goodness for that, as within the first mile there was some hill - 1028 feet of it in fact, up to Broadway Tower. Now I know this would be a mere pimple for the likes of Mark Roulston and MRM, but boy was it a baptism by fire for my quads (they did actually feel on fire)! Two miles later we had to climb up another 500 feet, this time on the road, passed by cyclists channelling their inner Froomes zipping down in the easier direction. After these two biggies there were plenty more drags, albeit a lot shorter - my least favourite being a load of ridged fields, where the constant little ups and downs of the ridges were absolutely energy-sapping.

    But (and it's a big but) - this was running at its most glorious. First up was the generosity of my lovely friend who is a hardened off-road ultra runner who offered to run with me despite having potential to finish in the top five if she'd gone it alone. Her company made the miles vanish, and her experience with the technicalities of ploughed fields, stony downhill tracks, summit headwinds and ridiculous climbs (not to mention a running commentary on what was coming up) was invaluable. She was also in charge of taking pictures and reminding me to look at the views. Everyone should have someone like her to run with.

    We also lucked-out with the weather, which although grey and foggy in the slog up to the tower, cleared to gorgeous blue-skied, orange-sunshined autumn glory at the top. My favourite parts were the woodland paths carpeted with fallen leaves, with the sunshine shafting through the trees turning everything that shade of yellow and orangey-brown that you only get at this time of year. It was cold enough for gloves and long sleeves, but not so cold to take your breath away.

    And finally - well, there I was running in this weather through a field, chatting to a friend, quads burning and lungs gasping, with the Cotswolds spread out beneath me. It felt like an absolute privilege to be there, at that time, with strangers holding open the kissing gates and congratulating you as you stumble past them on an especially steep bit. The final run-in was downhill over the greenest of fields trying to catch a couple of our club mates just ahead of us, all yelling 'woo-hoo' like a bunch of kids. And despite all the walking and determination to just enjoy rather than race, I still managed a pretty respectable time of 2:15:36, was 15th female and 41st out of 132 runners. I've never come that high up in a race before!

    There's just one niggling worry though: on the drive home I couldn't help wish it had been longer. I have a sneaking suspicion this might be the beginning of a lot more trail racing...

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    1. That sounds like a dream! Just the sort of race I would like as well. Congratulations and looking forward to hearing about more trail exploits :)

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    2. Trail racing is the best. I never went back to road racing again. :)

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    3. Great write up to what sounds like a brilliant race. Having cycled the area, the last time only in July this year, the hills are pretty unforgiving, so to run those ascents on trails must have been....well.... hard. As for your guide for the day, we all want someone like that, she sounds immense!

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    4. Wow, and I thought my first trail half was tough yesterday but clearly there are many tougher out there! Well done, great run and great write up!

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    5. Lovely write up, those beautiful autumn runs are always some of my favourite of the year... Maybe I'll try running off road at some point. Maybe.

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    6. @jer I suspect I may be on the same trajectory! @Pete she is immense. One of those people that you wish you could be like but know you never will be. I couldn't have asked for better company. And my quads are in agony today! @Mr Sheep - go for it! I think it's addictive.

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    7. Well done Ruby - looks like you had a great course, weather and fun!

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    8. That sounds glorious, Ruby. It makes me feel homesick. Thanks for the beautiful write-up.

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    9. @TD - ah. And sorry!

      The organisers have just posted the finish line photos and ours is fab - really sums up the race. I've added it to my Strava.

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  10. Convenience (time efficiency) means most of my runs in the week are solo. But usually do my long run at the weekend with my other half. Not that we chat much, have a habit of running me first, him behind, mainly due to narrow paths and me liking to be able to choose exactly where to put my feet. Does help when we’re doing the same long runs - was the case all the summer and autumn, but will be deviating soon - HM for him, marathon for me.
    I have a short fuse for faffing, so don’t run with others much. Punctual, organised people would be OK!
    Smug from finding a pair of roclite 305s in inov8s sale for £37.50 - new record low price for a pair of shoes. Should work out around 7.5p / mile - bargain!

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    1. I'm with you about faffers. I'm thinking of one in particular! That said, I went through a phase of running with someone on a Sunday morning and she was punctual all the time. However, I eventually got fed up of running with her because all I ever heard was variations on "I most be slowing you down, you go one ahead, I'll be alright". It didn't matter how much I said that it was social running and there were opportunities for me to run at a different pace elsewhere in the week.

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    2. Wish I could find a bargain pair of trail shoes. I think mine ran their last race on Sunday and the old model is no longer available, so I've got to try and make them hold out a bit longer until the new model is an old one again! 37.50 is a bargain.

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    3. Run4it have a few trail shoes £30 off just now

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    4. I find it's so hard to convince less experienced runners, or people who run in a less structured way, that doing an easy run with them is not hurting me! I guess most people treat exercise as a time in the day when you go as hard as you can, like going to a class at the gym. It is different to think about running either as something you just enjoy, regardless of the pace; or to wrap your head around the idea of training adaptations.

      I have won the battle a few times and I got such a kick out of seeing my friends improve and being able to help motivate them, etc.

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  11. I almost always run alone.There aren't any running groups in my area and in these parts, obesity appears to be more popular than exercise. So I persevere solo.

    Last week was deep-winter cold. Frosty mornings, snow here and there, freezing rain that encased my car in ice. Not much you can do outside in that - for me, it was treadmill treadmill treadmill.

    As the bruise on the sole of my foot is taking its time to stop hurting, I decided to put in a couple of months of aerobic running only. This keeps the paces easy enough so that I'm not tempted to push off hard on my foot. It's also less taxing on my brain, which is right now caught up in a work-related nightmare situation. There are times in life when plodding out 60 minutes of mindless one-foot-in-front-of-the-other comes as a welcome relief.

    Yesterday, autumn pushed winter aside and it was close to 20C. After getting the horses exercised, I ran for 90 minutes on a mix of paved and grass. Thoroughly enjoyable and hoping for more of the same today.

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  12. I love running with my Saturday morning group at the track but tend to do most of my running solo. Yesterday I did 10 miles starting at dusk (I wanted to go earlier but England's stirring fight back v Croatia kept me in front of the TV). As my plan was to jog along the Thames path from Putney to Barnes and back I had to use the headtorch which has been lying in my cupboard for several months unused. It was quite exciting to run along the trail completely on my own in the gathering gloom- the only diversion being the ghostly shapes of passing runners which suddenly appeared then disappeared into the gloom. I could see well enough to find my way around (just) but was delighted to emerge back into civilisation after an hour or so of intense darkness. Overall, thoroughly enjoyable though. I'm planning another foray after work tomorrow.

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  13. I'm a near 100% solitary runner for most of the same reasons - I do plan to join a club when I regain a bit more control of my time midweek, but as a lot of my running is run-commuting I've got plenty enough on my plate dodging traffic and pedestrians. I did plan to meet up with squirblej of this parish for a long run before our autumn marathons but injury kiboshed that - will try again when back into training proper.

    Another fairly light week for me, though starting to build up a little. I ran a fairly angry fartlek on Saturday morning (recalcitrant children had put me in a foul mood and the paths of Priory park bore the brunt), but Sunday was much more fun - pacing my youngest to a junior parkrun PB which cemented his position as the fastest junior lovebison. 11:10 for 2k at age 5 seems pretty swift to me!

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    1. Running on fuel provided by recalcitrant children! I can imagine it! Well done to Luca though, that is a good time!

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  14. My opportunities to run with company are quite high, but the reality is quite the opposite. Whilst I'm a member of a club, they meet in the evening and it's a 16 mile round trip to get there in the car. Plus, I've always been able to organise my working life, in the last couple of years, so that I run during the daytime which I enjoy much more. That said, I do keep on telling myself that I should venture over there in the evening just to say hi to everyone. So, the biggest chance I normally have of running with others is when I see my either of my daughters, and that is always great fun but a long way to travel!

    Funnily, when I swim or cycle it is much more a sociable thing. Sure, I know that the act of swimming means that you are on your own, but I meet up with my swimming buddies before and after and have a great time. As for cycling, the social side of it has always been big and it just so happens I have loads of close friends who are cyclists, but running not so much.

    Anyway, I had a wonderful time last week getting back into swimming and cycling and the running took a deserved back seat for a while. Just a couple of short runs but that's all I wanted to do. I'll get back to running more when the switch in my brain says "GO".

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  15. I nearly always run alone and I must admit, I enjoy the solitude, always have done. Running with company is a nice aside though although I don't often get the opportunity. I've been doing weekly runs with my husband for about the last 6 months. I enjoy these as they're at a much slower pace than I would normally run, so very conversational (for me, I probably drive him bonkers with my jibber jabber while he's just trying to breathe!) and before you know it, 5 miles have passed by. Very occasionally I'll meet running friends for a run (Ruby!), but I don't have many running friends tbh. Track ... does that count? Not really, it feels like solo running in a group!

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    1. I'm the same really, I appreciate the solitude running alone, but when I do get to run with friends it does feel special. Somehow you feel freed up to chat about stuff you wouldn't otherwise get the chance to (when would you and I ever spent an hour just chatting kyd if we weren't having to navigate the twilight zone of Sydenham?!)

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    2. Haha - I really identify with this! I get so excited when my friends let me run with them that I am exactly like you describe. The phrase jibber jabber is perfect. Even if they claim otherwise, I also think, this must be drinking them bonkers, but I can't help myself.

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    3. I hope they're not drinking themselves bonkers, Brussels, that must be some special kind of Jibber Jabber you're inflicting! : )

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  16. Friends are great... but is there anything better than running with your dog? I love watching him rocket in front of me, his ears pinned back, completely absorbed in the joy of running. I was reminiscing this weekend about a run we took together about two weeks ago. It was a lovely cool day, and he kept a good pace the whole 6 miles. I remember waiting for the moment when exhaustion caught up with him and he would abruptly decide it was time for a rest, but it never came. During the summer I wouldn't get anywhere near that far before we'd have to take a "stretching out on my belly in the grass" break.

    Running with him this Saturday was a different story. We had a huge dump of snow on Thursday night. The special winter parking rules don't apply until December, so snow plows had to work around parked cars, leaving mounds of snow that extended even further towards the centre of the road than usual. Footpaths were, naturally, unevenly cleared and in many cases still several inches deep in icy, partially-compacted snow. Neither of us enjoyed the obstacle course. Thankfully, conditions were a little better for my long run on Sunday. That run was done with human rather than canine company. I have to admit that running with humans was certainly less stressful, and conversation of much better quality!

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    1. My current dog is an unrepentant non-runner, more Couch2Couch than Couch25k. She usually sits in the car while I run and we take a walk after. (Maybe she's onto something - she's going in to her 15th year and is in fine health.)

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    2. I'm not a dog person, but I admit that running with a dog sounds pretty special.

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    3. I've seen a pic or two of Bruce in running action on your Strava; but the pics of him fast asleep on your insta sofa are just something else :) :)

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    4. I love running with my dog and he's loved it too, but unfortunately old age is catching up with him faster than it is me. I feel mean now taking him for more than a couple of miles running, though he'll walk happily all day. He had a bad lung condition last year too, so I'm careful not to put him under pressure. But I agree - running with you dog is joyous!

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    5. Much as I adore my dog, she's a sighthound so she would be utterly bored by anything under 40km per hour, I think. I've taken her lure coursing a few times, though, and watching her run like the wind is spectacular.

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  17. Most of my running is alone - I run a lot and it has to fit around the rest of my commitments. I've been lucky to do some of my recovery running with an early morning group (6am club, I am one of the slower members) and when I'm not in marathon training I try to get along to my running club's sessions. I enjoy the club sessions, it's a chance to chat with my team-mates and coaches (well, between reps).

    My weekend of running included watching my wife complete her second parkrun (PB). Then during my daughter's dance classes around Saturday lunchtime I escaped for a 10 mile smell-the-roses run, consciously aiming for slower running, after a week with two sessions in it and an unexpectedly fast Friday lunchtime run.

    For some reason I didn't get out yesterday until late. Not having planned much of a run I settled on a 15 mile loop from my house, which started easy enough but I pushed the effort during the middle third. At the end of mile 8 I thought, I need to stop this pace soon, so planned on keeping the effort going until I had run 10 miles, before backing off. Perhaps not surprisingly I couldn't get my legs to work very well in this morning's recovery run. Hoping my left leg/glute is back to normal later today.

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    1. Total hardcore, what must the other members of the 6am club run like??!!

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    2. There are at least 4 sub-70 HM-runners in the 6am group, so they race really quickly. The morning run is a recovery run, so I can (usually) keep up.

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  18. I know exactly what you mean Kate - a few years ago when I got back into running, it was me and a work colleague who decided together we would train for and complete a 10k. My previous running life back in the early 2000s was all done solo - an entire marathon training cycle, the only run I did with others being the marathon itself.

    I think the key reason that I've stuck with running this time is that social aspect of it; having someone to natter with on most of the runs, and someone to compare notes with on the hard ones where we might run on our own but can talk about it afterwards.

    This week's running for me has been just keeping it going with a reasonable distance each day, not trying to do anything too fast at the moment. I'm trying to lose a few kg before getting on a ship for two weeks, then Xmas parties, then Xmas, then likely a visit to the US early next year... After all of that, I intend to attempt a sub-1h30 half, so I need to get as far ahead of the game as I can right now!

    I find if I run fast, I get much hungrier, so keeping it to easy/comfortable pace is working better for me at the moment. Plus I'm really enjoying the comfortable-pace running right now, after really pushing myself on distance last weekend.

    Run-streak counter up to 324 days...

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    1. I with you on the run fast = hungrier. As soon as I back off the training and do less miles and less fast running, i’ll lose a bit of weight. Without consciously eating less, but clearly actually eating less (or physics is broken!)

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    2. Yup - I believe there are good physiological reasons for it - the faster you run, the larger proportion of the energy spent comes from muscle glycogen, which the body then tries to replenish in the hours that follow. That replenishment takes glucose from the blood stream, which is, I believe, a key determinant in how hungry you feel.

      Slower run means more energy from stored fat, which does not need to be replenished, as we've all got plenty of that around!

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  19. Thanks for the mention Kate. And thanks so much to all of you for the support and advice on Strava. I was even a bit snivelly there for a moment on Sunday evening, which is not a good look for a big, ugly, middle-aged bloke. And I do have a running buddy who I do a 5k with once a week (I was just being a drama queen when I said I don't know anyone who runs - sorry Pete) and it is always a nice run, for sure. Unfortunately, though, 5k is his limit so I was stuck out there on my own on Sunday.

    For those of you who haven't got a clue what I'm on about, on Sunday morning I completely f-ed up my longest practice run for my marathon. It was supposed to be 35km, but my body gave out on me at 28, and after a dazed walk around Kinuta Park deciding what to do, I took a taxi home.

    Four weeks ago, I did a 28km run that went beautifully: I felt amazing throughout, stayed comfortably under 6 mins per km pace, and even sped up a bit at the end. It left me feeling hugely confident - maybe overconfident - but for some reason I've been completely unable to reproduce that form ever since.

    I was very down in the dumps on Sunday and Monday morning, but I tend to be a bounce-back-quickly type of guy, and having had a big rethink of my marathon goals, I feel fine now.

    The main thing is to enjoy it (which doesn't preclude it being extremely tough, of course), RUN the bloody thing, and obtain a sense of achievement. What I absolutely don't want to do is go out too fast and have to walk the last 10km. So I'm going to scale my target pace right back. I was never contemplating sub-4, but I did think I might be able to average 5:50-6:00 and come in around 4:10. Since that's now looking very unlikely, I'm now thinking along the lines of 6:30 pace for a 4:30 or even 4:45 finish. There'll be plenty of other marathons in the future to run faster.

    Also, since I still have 3 weeks to go, and since there seems to be an even split between those who taper for 3 weeks and those who taper for only 2, I've decided to use this week to have another bash at 20 miles. Two easy jogs throughout the week, then a 20 miler on Sunday at my new target pace, with caffeine gels (Shotz cappuccino flavour with extra caffeine - they're on their way from Amazon as I type - thanks for the tips guys!) for the later stages. If you think this is a disastrous idea, please let me know!

    Cor blimey, that was a bit long-winded for a single shite run! Anyways, onwards and upwards!

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    1. Resetting your goals sounds very very sensible - a rationale response after the first emotional one. Marathon training knackers you - not unexpected that you can’t ‘perform’ when you’re in the middle of it. Start cautious, but I don’t think you’ll be as slow as you think. And a negative split gets more kudos/brownie points from me than a sub anything!

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    2. Yup, that's a very sensible attitude - having done two marathon races in my life, the one I ran by feel on the day, keeping to a sensible pace and not going too hard, I finished feeling great and enjoyed the whole thing. The other one where I tried to hold what I'd planned as my target pace from early in my training, even though I could feel it wasn't going well, I hated the last, oh, 16 miles of.

      I concur with McWhirr that you may well surprise yourself if you take it easy - the marathon really rewards the cautious approach in my experience. In my first attempt when I ran by feel, I almost sprinted the last half mile I was feeling so great.

      I don't know if you've done marathons before but I would err on the side of caution with a 20 miler that close to the race - don't be afraid to can it early if you're feeling at all fatigued, I'd say.

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    3. Thanks for the replies, guys. I've done one marathon before, a couple of years ago, and completely messed up that one too (haha, what a ridiculous hobby running is). I got a good time in a half in March this year, though, so I decided to give the full 42km another go. According to those sites that estimate your marathon time from your half marathon PB, I should be aiming for around 3:50, but that just seems utterly fantastical to me. I am literally miles away from that.

      I wanted to do the extra 20 miler because so far all I've managed is one 20 miler where I half-walked the last 2 miles, two 17 milers that went well, and Sunday's failed attempt at 23. It seems like way too little when you read about what everyone else is doing. I won't force it though - it would suck more than words can say to get injured at this stage!

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    4. I can't say I noticed you being a drama queen ThD, but it's nice to have that image in my head! I hope the gels work and you're back on track after your long run this coming weekend.

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    5. I empathise TD - during my London training I had a horrible run that was supposed to be 20 miles and ended up only just being 15. I cried at about 11 miles and couldn't understand why I was so rubbish, especially so far into marathon training when 15 should have been a breeze. I'm sure it happens to us all.

      I think it's worth having one more go at 20, but with revised expectations as you say. Or take the pressure off yourself and run for a set number of hours rather than chasing the mileage? So run for 3.5-4 hours, say, and stuff how far that gets you so you're training for time on feet?

      Interestingly, one of my club mates who's also a coach is putting a plan together for me for Brighton next year, and he's of the opinion that two 20-milers is sufficient in marathon training so as not to exhaust the body. I'm trusting him...

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    6. It’s weird isn’t it? Sometimes it goes great and sometimes it feels dreadful, for no apparent reason.

      I like your coach’s idea. I’ve become slightly obsessed with that comment in the Guardian a couple of months ago that your five longest runs should total 100 miles, and I need to forget about it.

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  20. I mostly run alone, and mostly like it that way. Like others posting here, for reasons of logistics and efficiency, my weekday runs are at silly o'clock and I do them from the office, so I have a quick shower there before starting the working day. Weekend longer runs have to be fitted around horsey and domestic commitments, so again, are often solitary. But I do enjoy the peace and quiet! I have a busy job and find the quietness of running alone suits me, and I can clear my thoughts. When I do run with others, occasionally, I do enjoy it and the miles seem to go past more quickly. But it can be difficult to organise and find someone who wants to do the same pace and distance, and whose schedule aligns with mine.

    Running has, in general, been quieter of late. I had a diagnosis that my sore left foot is probably the start of arthritis in one of my toes. The friendly podiatrist made me a felt pad for support, and that seems to have helped. I was away with friends in Edinburgh this weekend, and Saturday's 12k was largely a damage limitation exercise after Friday's afternoon tea at the Balmoral Hotel, plus cocktails... Ouch. A steady paced run, alone, early in the morning on Edinburgh's lovely New Town wide pavements and sweeping vistas. Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament were amongst the landmarks - lovely.

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    1. Edinburgh is such a perfect place to run isn't it. We visit friends there every year and I'm slowly discovering its delights via early morning long ones.

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    2. Agree Ruby, it's lovely. So many different options, routes and views. And there's always Arthur's Seat.... I think we've previously shared our respective experiences of that blighter!

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  21. I love the company of others but, as with many on this thread, one of the main draws of running is the ease at which I can fit it into my schedule. I’d always enjoyed team sports but really struggled with the commitment it takes to attend practices, matches etc. The freedom of finding an unexpected hour and a resultant quick pootle out and about is what’s kept me running regularly over the last 6 or so years. I’ve been lucky to find the most casual of running groups in the city I’m currently living in. I go through phases of showing up once-a-week to once-a-month to once-in-a-blue-moon. The huge numbers in attendance every session mean I don’t have to worry about letting the team down if I’m not around.

    My weekend running was rightly overshadowed by a text from my partner in the middle of my long run: “best run ever!!!!”. He’s only been running just over a year, but a year which has included 3 half marathons, the marathon du Medoc and, next weekend, a ‘proper’ marathon. Until this weekend he insisted that he’s only been running because he has spare time (and to counter the all the croissants and chocolatines - an unavoidable consequence of our life in France). As I scrabbled for my keys to the flat at the end of my run, the door was flung open by partner grinning ear to ear announcing his first sub 2h half. “Does it count as a pb if it’s in training?” he asked. “Hell yes!” I said.

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  22. Hello, anyone still reading this week's blog? I just thought I'd drop in and say hello and I hope everyone is ok and looking forward to the weekend, whether they be running for fun or racing. I have just come in from a cold and frosty 12k and it was perfect. No wind, low wintery sun and peace and quiet. Lovely. On the blog topic, I run alone, and on a day like today all I can hear is my own breathing and a regular squeak from my right trail shoe that tells me that my rhythm is good. Happy running, everyone.

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    1. Writing as me cos I can't be bothered to go and change my Google account back to Ruby but just to say yes, I've dropped by today. I'm not running this week but it's beautiful weather for it. Glad you had a good one GJ!

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