75 WAYS TO
02 FEBRUARY 2020 Â£4.80 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK
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P L U S
IN THIS ISSUE REGULARS
DID YOU JUST SPIT AT ME?
P H OTO G R A P H S : G A M M A- R A P H O V I A G E T T Y I M AG E S , L U C K Y I F S H A R P. I L LU S T R AT I O N : B LO O D B R O S
Nick Butter had some strange encounters on his extraordinary journey around the world – 196 marathons in 196 countries
ON THE COVER Newsstand cover: Photographer: Casey Crafford. Stylist: Olga Kotova. Model: Daneil. Gear: All Salomon. Watch: Apple. Subs cover: Do Sport Live
Why Fit Begins At 50 Younger runners beware; you’re going to find it hard to stay in front
Start Today! Beginners’ couch to 5K run plan. You can do this
The Man Who Ran The World Nick Butter’s 196-marathon, 675-day odyssey took him…well, everywhere you could go
Harness Kipchoge’s Mindset If anyone has the right mental attitude, it’s the first man to run a sub-2:00 marathon P73
It’s Your Year 75 ways to get fitter, burn fat, run strong and be happy
The RW Guide To Sports Nutrition 35 best buys for fuel and recovery
Is This The Most Beautiful Race On The Planet? The Patagonia International Half Marathon is certainly a strong contender
8 Ways To Eat Smarter Adaptogens, biohacking, supercharged water: nutrition has never been easier FEBRUARY 2020 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK 003
CHECK OUT OUR WEBSITE!
IN THE ZONE The day Cathy Freeman made history
Training, gear, news, health, nutrition, races, reviews and much more from the wonderful world of running. Visit runnersworld.com/uk
ON TREND Foods for 2020
Rave Run The Peak District, Derbyshire
Hit The Off Switch Let your body relax. You’ll run better
I’m A Runner Radio presenter Vassos Alexander
My Favourite Run Jonny Muir’s dreamlike run in the Pentland Hills, Edinburgh
The Olympic Moment The day Aboriginal Australian Cathy Freeman took gold in the Sydney Olympics
Run Potato How the humble spud can power your run
Nutrition Can I eat that? Food labels, deciphered
Injury The three-week rule can keep you on the road
Find the balance, p41
Running With Pride How Dudley Garner came back from physical and mental trauma
Peaky Finders Fancy climbing the height of Mt Everest?
Murphy’s Lore Sam wonders if success is all about the smile
Your World Your views
By The Numbers 4:59:22, a record for a combined marathon
Tonky Talk Paul is back. Sort of
Resolve To Be A Better Runner Do runners need a new year’s resolution? Oh yes we do
Ask Jo Our resident Olympian on the joys of the foam roller
Social Movement Jogging Pals leave no runner behind The Flamingo Diaries Meet our new columnist, Lisa Jackson
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What Is RPE And Why Should You Track It? Rate of perceived exertion is a handy training tool for any runner
MAN IN A HURRY Who is Joshua Cheptegei? Hint: he’s fast and Mo Farah should keep an eye on him. runnersworld. com/uk/cheptegei
We reveal the injury that most commonly affects marathon runners. Take a guess. runnersworld.com/ uk/marathoninjury
HUMAN RACE P20
Make Light Of The Dark Six nifty runners’ torches RACE
Supp to the minute, p77
Route Recce Glentress Trail Races, the Scottish Borders
Race Report The Chicester 10K
Start List February races. It’s the new year – time to get moving
SOUND ADVICE This 71-year-old ran her first marathon and is encouraging others to do the same. runnersworld.com/ uk/helenllyodjones
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What’s your running goal for 2020? ‘Mine’s a simple one, but so complicated: I want to return to full fitness after a year of niggles. The mind is willing, but the body has been in a bit of a sulk.’ – John Carroll ‘To run more with my son. He’s nine and has joined the school XC club, and I think we’re ready for some serious bonding time. Oh, and there’s a 53-mile ultra for some “me time”, in case my dad halo was starting to shine there… ’ – Joe Mackie ‘Run for fun. Not an earthshattering concept, but one I’ve never applied to myself. My plan is to sack off the PB-chasing for a year and get out on the trails instead.’ – Kerry McCarthy ‘I’m becoming a dad in early 2020, so my goal is to carry on running in some capacity while accepting that parenting takes priority over PBs.’ – Rick Pearson
JANE WOLFSON Chief Agency Officer JONI MORRISS Group Agency Director CLARE CROOKES Regional Agency Director CHLOE BARRINGTON Agency Director, Print LEE RIMMER Head of Classified LUCY PORTER Head of Business Management ROSE SWEETMAN Business Manager
REID HOLLAND Marketing & Circulation Director JAMES HILL Head of Consumer Sales & Marketing
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TROY YOUNG President SIMON HORNE SVP/Managing Director Asia Pacific & Russia KIM ST. CLAIR BODDEN SVP/ Editorial & Brand Director CHLOE O’BRIEN Deputy Brands Director SHELLEY MEEKS Executive Director, Content Services RUNNER’S WORLD is published in the UK by Hearst UK. Copyright © All rights reserved. RUNNER’S WORLD is printed and bound by Southernprint Ltd, 17-21 Factory Road, Upton Ind. Estate, Poole, Dorset BH16 5SN. RUNNER’S WORLD is distributed by Frontline Ltd, Peterborough. Tel: 01733 555 161 RUNNER’S WORLD is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (which regulates the UK’s magazine and newspaper industry). We abide by the Editors’ Code of Practice and are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism. If you think that we have not met those standards and want to make a complaint please contact email@example.com or visit www. hearst.co.uk/hearst-magazines-uk-complaintsprocedure. If we are unable to resolve your complaint, or if you would like more information about IPSO or the Editors’ Code, contact IPSO on 0300 123 2220 or visit www.ipso.co.uk
EDITOR’S LETTER THE START OF A NEW year is traditionally a time for making plans and setting new goals. For runners, these can be as general as just trying to have more fun, or as specific and measurable as trying to run a PB or tackling a new distance. (For my part, I’m taking on a second ultra in the summer – at 53 miles, it will be my longest ever run. And can I break my 5K PB at the age of 47? Answer: probably not. But I’ll give it a go!) Whatever your target, we’ve got the advice and inspiration to help you smash 2020. If you want to take your first steps as a runner, run faster, go longer or just get more joy from your running, you’ll find expert ways to achieve them in the It’s Your Year feature on page 30. It’s likely your goals won’t be as expansive as Nick Butter’s – he is the first person to run a marathon in every country in the world – but his amazing story (page 44) shows us what’s possible when a grand plan and a bucketload of determination come together. In a similarly inspiring vein, we welcome our new columnist Lisa Jackson – a confessed back-of-the-pack runner who has completed two ultras and over 100 marathons, often while wearing a pink flamingo hat for more fun and enjoyment. In her Flamingo Diaries column (page 29), she says ‘running isn’t about the time you do, but the time you have while doing it’. I couldn’t agree more.
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With the Tokyo Olympic Games on the horizon, the journalist and subthree marathoner looks back at one of the great moments from Olympic history. Get the full story of how Cathy Freeman carried a nation’s hopes in Amazing Grace on p58.
The author of The Mountains are Calling shares the emotional journey he experiences every time he runs from the streets of Edinburgh to the Pentland Hills. Remind yourself of where running can take us with My Favourite Run on p54.
P H OTO G R A P H : JA I M E L I V I N G O O D
PEAK DISTRICT, DERBYSHIRE
THE EXPERIENCE The Peak District National Park covers an area of 555 square miles and takes in parts of Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire. It is one of the most beautiful regions in the country and a natural resource to be treasured. The district was named a National Park in 1951, the first in the country to receive the designation. (The most recent addition was the South Downs in 2010.) With almost 1,800 miles of footpaths and trails, there are routes for runners of all abilities, from low, well-surfaced trails to rugged ascents and descents, and wild moorland. Races of all distances are also organised by clubs in the region, if you fancy something more organised. WHEN TO GO Any time, even deepest winter, as you can see. The weather can change quickly, so do your research before you head out. PHOTOGRAPH Getty Images/ John Finney photography
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WO R D S : R I C K P E A R S O N . I L L U S T R AT I O N : A A R Ó N M A R T Í N E Z 1. J O U R N A L O F A P P L I E D P H YS I O LO GY
The TIPS YOU NEED to GET UP to SPEED
When it comes to midrace fuel, spuds are a smash
IT MAY NOT BE THE first thing that springs to mind when it comes to midrace nutrition,
but the humble potato is giving energy gels a run for their money. A new study1 of trained athletes has found that consuming potato purée during prolonged exercise is as effective as taking in commercial energy gels in terms of sustaining blood glucose levels and boosting performance. Twelve cyclists performed a two-hour time trial, during which researchers measured their blood glucose, exercise intensity and lactate levels. No differences were found between the performance of cyclists who got their carbs from potato purée and those using gels. ‘Potatoes are a promising alternative for athletes because they represent a cost-effective, nutrient dense and whole-food source of carbs,’ researchers concluded. Sadly, this does not work with triple-cooked chips.
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3 TIPS FOR OLDER RUNNERS
STRETCH Range of motion is vital. Try a weekly yoga class or do static stretches at home. And use a foam roller.
LIFT Counteract the decrease in muscle mass with strength work. You’re never too old to start this, either.
WO R D S : R I C K P E A R S O N . P H OTO G R A P H S : G E T T Y I M AG E S * CO U R T E S Y O F P E T E M AG I L L’ S F I R ST 5 K ( AVA I L A B L E N OW )
AGE APPROPRIATE Don’t let the years stop you from getting out there
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER You’re never too old to start running
FIND THE RIGHT TEMPO FOR A PB
GOOD NEWS for all those who start running later in life: you’ll
be as fit as the ‘lifers’ in no time. A study published in Frontiers in Physiology found that runners who started training after 50 could become as fast and as lean as peers who had been running for years. In the study, 150 older endurance runners (the average age was 68) were tested for performance and general health. The results showed that irrespective of whether they had run since they were 18 or 50, their body-fat percentage, muscle tone and athletic performance were similar. However, there is one caveat: the participants were running, on average, five to six times a week. So, to fully enjoy the benefits, you’re going to have to lace up frequently.
If you’re hoping to get a marathon PB this spring, make sure you’re doing your tempo runs. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that men and women who reported doing tempo and interval training were, respectively, 18 per cent and 14 per cent faster than those who did not. But you have to exercise caution: the same study found that tempo running increased the risk of injury. The graph* (right) shows how you can divide up your tempo run to minimise the risk of picking up an injury. Tempo runs should be conducted at a ‘comfortably hard pace’ – think 7/10 effort.
RECOVER Take two easy days after a hard session, and try cross-training (eg swimming) in place of one weekly run.
TOTAL MINUTES Tempo repetition Recovery jog interval
Elite: 1 rep
10 min 10 min
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USE IT OR LOSE IT?
WO R D S : R I C K P E A R S O N . P H OTO G R A P H S : G E T T Y I M AG E S . S O U R C E : 1. R E S O U R C E S , C O N S E R VAT I O N , A N D R E CYC L I N G ; 2 . F R O N T I E R S
No one wants to take a risk with food that may be off, but the various labels used by manufacturers often don’t help consumers to make the right decision UK HOUSEHOLDS THROW AWAY AN
estimated 7.3 million tonnes of food as waste every year. That’s an astonishing figure and one we can all do something to bring down. One way is simply shopping a little smarter and learning to love your freezer, but it would also be useful if we knew for sure what those date labels really mean. In the UK, you’ll find three kinds: ‘use by’, ‘best before’ and ‘sell by’. Understanding them can help us choose wisely and even save some money when we shop.
These dates are there for foodsafety reasons. That’s why you’ll find them on foods such as meat and salad, which go off quickly and carry food-poisoning risks. In short, these are worth obeying. Don’t take chances.
‘Best-before’ dates With these – commonly found on bags of pasta and packets of biscuits – you can be a bit more flexible. They give indications about food quality, such as taste and appearance. So long
FORTY FOUR Percentage of the vegetables in our fridges we actually consume, despite anticipating we’ll get through 94 per cent. A study1 suggests it’s due to confusion over best-before dates.
as you’ve stored your food correctly (ie not keeping your smoked salmon in the bread bin), eating it after its ‘bestbefore’ date is probably OK.
‘Sell-by’ dates These, or ‘display until’ labels, don’t have any legal basis. They’re merely used by retailers to help with stock rotation and, as a result, can be ignored. Many people don’t know this, however, leading to tonnes of perfectly edible food being binned every day.
3 WAYS TO REDUCE FOOD WASTE
TAKE A #SHELFIE Avoid doubling up by taking a snap of your fridge shelf before you shop.
NOW FREEZE Food can be frozen up to the use-by date and most items can be frozen.
CORE’S FOR CELEBRATION
If you eat the whole apple: congratulations! In doing so, you consume roughly 10 times more of the good bacteria found in the fruit than those who chuck the core. A recent study2 found most of the beneficial lactobacilli live in the seeds; it also showed that organic produce tends to have the edge in the diversity of bacteria and range of flavonoids (plant chemicals with health-boosting benefits).
DIAL IT DOWN The average UK fridge is set to 7C, but food will last longer below 5C.
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THANKS FOR THE MEMORY
WO R D S : R I C K P E A R S O N . P H OTO G R A P H S : A L A M Y 1. H A R VA R D T. H . C H A N S C H O O L O F P U B L I C H E A LT H 2 . J O U R N A L O F C L I N I CA L E N D O C R I N O LO GY A N D M E TA B O L I S M
Tiana Memory Oil (£19.99 for 150ml, tiana-coconut. com) has brain-boosting bioactive ingredients to boost memory and maintain cognitive ability by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain cells.
The percentage decrease in the risk of early death in those who swap one daily portion of red or processed meat for fish.1
INTERNAL LOGIC Eliud Kipchoge understands the importance of a strong mind
GET THE MASTER’S MINDSET The mind tricks of Eliud Kipchoge, the world’s fastest marathon runner
EXERCISE FIRST, EGGS LATER
There are arguments for and against running before breakfast but new research2 suggests it offers specific health benefits. The study found that getting a sweat on before your first bite can improves your body’s response to insulin and also lowers your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Study leader Dr Javier Gonzales says, ‘We found that the men in the study who exercise before breakfast burned double the amount of fat than the group who exercised after.’
TRACK YOUR INVESTMENT Eliud Kipchoge, who made history last October by running the first sub-2:00 marathon, logs his workouts in a notebook, to record the effort he has put in. ‘When the race is hurting, I think of my great workouts and training,’ he says. If you do the same, he adds, ‘All will be well. Trust me.’ YOUR MOVE Keep a journal and refer to it before a big race to remind yourself of all your hard work.
JUST KEEP RUNNING
LEARN FROM FAILURE
Even Kipchoge has days when he doesn’t want to run. But he does it, anyway – and so should you. ‘If I keep on running, the body responds,’ he says. ‘You can’t let the bad days deter you.’ Kipchoge compares marathons to life: the hard days make the good ones all the more satisfying. YOUR MOVE If you’re following a running schedule, make a promise to yourself to do every workout, unless injury prevents you from doing so.
Fear of failure can stop runners from fulfilling their potential. Not Kipchoge: ‘The best lesson an athlete can learn from failing is that failing is not suicide.’ Instead, it lets you know you’re pushing your limits. YOUR MOVE At a low-key event – such as your local parkrun – set off at what you imagine may be an unsustainable pace. You won’t know how quick you can go until you test your limits.
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DO THE WALL STRETCH
WO R D S : R I C K P E A R S O N . P H OTO G R A P H : M I TC H M A N D E L . I L L U S T R AT I O N S : A N D R E A M A N Z AT I 1. P R O J E C T R U N 2 1; 2 . J O U R N A L O F O R T H O PA E D I C & S P O R T S P H Y S I CA L T H E R A P Y
Stretch tight hip flexors with this devilishly difficult but worthwhile move
1 / Place a mat on the floor, close to a wall. Kneel on the mat, bring your left knee back and slide your left lower leg up the wall. You want your left foot to be against the wall, with toes pointed.
THREE IS THE MAGIC NUMBER When building up your mileage, try the three-week rule
A STUDY 1 OF 784 RUNNERS training for
a half marathon suggests training load – specifically mileage and pace – are dominant factors in causing running-related injuries. The majority of running plans roughly follow the 10 per cent rule – upping your mileage by no more than 10 per cent each week – but there is an alternative method that’s worth a try and it may even reduce your injury risk. In his new book, Fast 5K, (VeloPress), running coach Pete Magill recommends the threeweek rule. Adopting it means that you give your body three weeks to adapt to each jump in volume and intensity. Why? ‘For lowvolume runners, the 10 per cent rule creates mileage increases that are well below the body’s ability to adapt,’ he writes. ‘For higher volume runners, the 10 per cent rule leads to increases that are likely to produce injury or burnout. The three-week rule is more physiologically sound.’
THREE-WEEK RULE V 10 PER CENT RULE WEEK 1 VOLUME
BASE LEVEL: 10 MILES/WEEK
BASE LEVEL: 30 MILES/WEEK
BASE LEVEL: 50 MILES/WEEK
2 / Step forward with your right foot so it’s under your right knee and your leg is at a 90-degree angle. Lift your torso so it’s upright. Try to keep a flat back.
Percentage of runners who reported a running-related injury or illness during a 16-week build-up to a half or full marathon.2
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ASCENTS OF AWE p22
FASTEST COMBINED 26.2 p28
HUMAN( )RACE NEWS, VIEWS, TRENDS and ORDINARY RUNNERS doing EXTRAORDINARY THINGS
RUNNING WITH PRIDE A head injury left Dudley Garner with physical and mental scars. But running has given him a renewed sense of purpose
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WO R D S : R I C K P E A R S O N . P H OTO G R A P H S : DA N R O S S
IN MARCH 2009, DUDLEY GARNER walked out of a bar in
his hometown of Norwich just as a 17-year-old driver lost control of his car and mounted the kerb. Two days later, Dudley woke up in a hospital bed, his life changed forever. Before the incident, Dudley, who was 27 at the time, worked as a financial adviser. Alongside this, he ran his own record label and played football three times a week. Following the accident, in which Dudley suffered a fractured skull and a broken eye socket, it seemed his sporting days were over. ‘My coordination was shot to bits, so any kind of ball sports – football, tennis, golf – were impossible.’ However, the physical injuries were only part of the problem. Unbeknown to Dudley, he had suffered a brain injury when he was struck by the car, and this led to depression and anxiety. ‘My mood went downhill rapidly,’ he says. ‘At the time, I didn’t really understand that I had mental health issues; I just thought that I had every right to be angry and that my behaviour was justified. I started drinking a lot more, trying to cope. I even had a couple of goes at trying to end it all. Luckily, I was pretty rubbish at that, so here I am.’ When Dudley’s brain injury was properly diagnosed, he began to understand why he’d been feeling the way he had. But accepting he had mental health issues remained a challenge. ‘I’d been prescribed all these antidepressants, which I’d been chucking down the toilet,’ he says. ‘I told myself I was a man and didn’t need things like that. I thought mental health was very taboo, and it wasn’t until I’d basically destroyed a Christmas by being very unpleasant that I accepted I had a problem.’ Shortly after that, in 2013, Dudley started running. His wife signed him up for the Edinburgh 10K and encouraged him to raise money for Headway, a brain-injury charity. ‘She knew that if I raised money for Headway, then I’d end up learning more about head injuries and begin to understand myself a bit better.’ Dudley’s training for the event was somewhat unorthodox. ‘During my first parkrun, I think I threw up three times and stopped for a fag twice,’ he says. ‘I had a tin of beer waiting for me at the finish. That was my recovery drink: a tin of Foster’s. I was a horrendous excuse for a human being at that time.’
‘ I DON’T THINK I WOULD HAVE STUCK WITH RUNNING IF I HADN’T BEEN ABLE TO GIVE SOMETHING BACK’
Top to bottom: Dudley Garner has reclaimed his life; and helped others, too. (inset) After the accident
Despite this, he finished the Edinburgh 10K. ‘I hated it. I remember wanting to get to the finish so I could buy a bottle of vodka and a packet of fags, and then burn my trainers.’ Dudley did indeed buy the booze and cigarettes – but then something unexpected happened. His phone began to ping with messages of congratulations. ‘That was my first runner’s buzz,’ he says. ‘I remember getting this tingling feeling in my spine and realising something had changed. I bought myself a proper pair of trainers that afternoon and signed up for the Great North Run, which I completed four months later.’ Since then, Dudley has run dozens of races and got his marathon time down to 3:39. But it’s his work in the community that’s most impressive. He took up coaching in 2014 and has gone on to set up a running-forwellbeing group, Up The Tempo, and, in 2017, he won the England Athletics Run Together Run Leader
of the Year award. He also won a community award with Norwich City FC, and is now working with them on a running project called Run For Me. ‘I don’t think I would have stuck with running if I hadn’t been able to give something back,’ he says. ‘Because of my head injury, I felt quite worthless. But if I was able to do something that made other people’s lives better, then I felt like there was a reason why I’d survived.’ Recently, when applying for funding, Dudley needed a few quotes from members of his running group. So he sent out a request on social media, asking people to tell him why they run. ‘Some of the responses were incredible,’ he says. ‘I’ve got them printed out by my bedside. If I wake up in the morning and feel crap, I look at their words and see I’ve got a purpose. I’m hugely proud of that.’
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PEAKY FINDERS Meet the running challenge that can make a mountain out of a molehill
MOUNT EVEREST Ascent: 8,848m Time: 20-30hrs Difficulty: 10/10
UNLESS YOU HAPPEN to be ultrarunning wizard Kilian Jornet, it’s unlikely you’ll ever run up Mount Everest. But there is a new challenge that allows runners to do the next best thing: Everesting. The rules are simple: clock up the equivalent ascent of Mount Everest (8,848m) on one hill, in one go, with no sleep. The hill can be as long or as short as you wish; all that matters is that you hit the required amount of ascent. The good news? You don’t have to run back down – Everesting is all about the uphill journey. Andy van Bergen, the Australian cyclist behind the idea, says it was never designed to be a running challenge. ‘When a couple of local runners registered an interest in it, I thought they were bonkers,’ he says. ‘On the biggest days of the Tour de France, riders rack up about 5,000m of ascent; to run close to 9,000m seemed impossible.’ However, 75 runners from 15 countries have completed the challenge, including Carrie Craig (inset). Born in Scotland but now based in Chamonix, France, ultrarunner Craig and
EVEREST TOO HIGH? Try these alternative peaks, the four highest in the UK
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BEN NEVIS (SCOTLAND) Ascent: 1,345m Time: 4-6hrs Difficulty: 7/10
SNOWDON (WALES) Ascent: 1,085m Time: 3-5hrs Difficulty: 6/10
Canadian trail runner Sheri Bastien both recorded their Everesting in July 2019 and now have a place in the Hall of Fame on the Everesting website (everesting.cc), ‘I’d injured my knee skiing and couldn’t run downhill. So I was looking for a challenge,’ says Craig. ‘Sheri and I did it on the Vertical Kilometre route; a ski lift runs next to it.’ The duo started at 4am, and after 10 ascents and 19 hours, they’d joined a very exclusive club. ‘Mentally, it was super-challenging,’ says Craig. ‘As you’re completing the same ascent, you have multiple opportunities to quit when you reach the bottom.’ And there is a specific challenge: ‘Similar to Everest, there’s an area we call the “death zone”,’ says van Bergen. ‘It’s between 7,000 and 8,000m. That’s where we see a lot of people quitting.’ Although van Bergen has completed several Everestings on two wheels, the rise of the two-legged event worries him. ‘I have an unwritten rule: anything I ask people in the community to do, I have to try, so I’m going to have to run one.’
SCAFELL PIKE (ENGLAND) Ascent: 978m Time: 3-5hrs Difficulty: 6/10
SLIEVE DONARD (NORTHERN IRELAND) Ascent: 850m Time: 2-4hrs Difficulty: 5/10
WO R D S : R I C K P E A R S O N . P H OTO G R A P H S : G E T T Y I M AG E S
BY SAM MURPHY
A RACE-DAY PHOTO CAN TELL YOU MORE THAN YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT SAM... Organised Not a piss-up in a brewery, but a warm-up in a brewery. All part of my new weekly running group based at the Curious Brewery in Ashford, Kent. Run first, then drink beer. What’s not to like? runningforever. co.uk/groups
I L L U S T R AT I O N : P I E TA R I P O S T I
hey say every picture tells a story; if that’s true, then the photos taken of me at a recent trail race tell the story of Someone Not Having a Good Day. In one, I look sullen and tense – as if I’d rather be doing anything other than running through beautiful woodland in late autumn. In another, I’m walking and giving the photographer what is known among my friends as the ‘death stare’ – the granddaddy of dirty looks. Even in my finish-line pic, I’m scowling. What’s most galling about this is that the images of me are in complete contrast to every other image the photographer snapped that day, in which mud-splattered runners give the thumbs up, flash cheesy grins, leap over puddles and pose for the camera with their running buddies. Everyone, it seems, is having a great day out. Except me. Now that it’s all over, I feel slightly disturbed – ashamed, even – by my inability to enter into the spirit of the event. While others squealed and chuckled at the mucky conditions underfoot, I could be heard tutting and muttering things such as, ‘Sod this for a game of soldiers.’ I simply didn’t find the experience pleasurable. You might think that once I was back in the warmth of the car, heading home, I’d have found something positive to say, such as, ‘Ah well, it was a lovely route,’ or ‘That’s 13 miles in the bank,’ but instead I scrolled through my appalling mile splits and berated myself for a shocking performance. I’m torn about what tale to tell you about that day; which one rightfully accompanies those dreadful pictures? Is it the defensive one about how frustrating and joyless – and, yes, bloody hard – I find running through ankledeep mud that has the consistency of a smoothie, and tripping and slipping on concealed tree roots, rocks and fallen branches along a bramble-lined singletrack path? Or is it the worried confessional, admitting how much I struggle to enjoy things I’m not good at? (OK, I’m being a bit hard on myself here. Anyone who’s heard me play the guitar can attest that I am pretty terrible at it, but I do
Read Pete Magill’s Fast 5K (VeloPress). The multiple agegroup record holder over the distance has sage advice for PBchasers: ‘Rather than targeting a specific time, make your goal to run faster for your next 5K than you did for your last.’
Wore Without a doubt, the most impressive waterproof jacket I’ve ever had the good fortune to have on a long run in relentless rain: the Gore R7 Shakedry jacket.
enjoy that.) I guess the nub of the issue is that running means a lot to me. It’s a huge part of my identity and the feeling of being inept at it felt threatening, disproportionately so. Enough, in fact, to force me to have a good, hard think about my attitude to racing. What do I actually mean when I say I had a bad race? One: I didn’t feel good on the run – heavy-legged and devoid of energy. Two: I performed badly, as in the time on the clock and the position on the list of finishers. Three: I didn’t enjoy it. Which of these is the worst? Or do they come as a trio? Is it possible to feel bad but still perform well? Yes, it sometimes happens. Is it possible to perform well and not enjoy it? I’d say so. Is it possible to enjoy yourself and not perform well? That, I think, brings us back to the race photos. The story they tell – all except mine – is that it certainly is. I’ll assume that not everyone in those pictures set a PB, ran a great time, or even performed to the best of their ability. But still, they enjoyed the race. Perhaps they weren’t even worrying about how ‘well’ they were running – they were just out there having fun, and the fact that they’d pinned on a race bib before they set off was immaterial. A couple of weeks after the race, I was leading a group on a long run through woodland that was every bit as gloopy and treacherous as that race route, when it struck me that it’s not running in these conditions I detest, it’s racing in them. Without the pressure I put upon myself to perform every time I don a race number, I can enjoy a slow-going muddy trail run as much as everyone else. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s not better trail-running techniques I need, but a change of mindset. For my next race, my definition of success will be how big my smile is in the finish-line photo
FEBRUARY 2020 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK 023
LETTER OF THE MONTH
YO U R WORLD
AGE OF REASON
Show us your brightest bits of be-seen running kit
I’ve been a keen runner for nearly 60 years (I’m 73) and a keen reader of RW for a long time. Since I turned 70, I, along with several fellow members, male and female, of Torbay Athletic Club in Devon, have been forced to compete in the over-65 age group, the highest they acknowledge. Even worse, in some races, women still have an over-60 as the highest age group. This truly is a national ageist disgrace. More and more runners continue into their 70s and some into their 80s, but are denied fair age placings because they/we are just too old to bother about. Shame on the organisers. I hope you understand the widespread undercurrent of bad feeling about this – it’s a big deal to us oldies, anyway, and we’re increasing in numbers steadily. Ray Brown, Newton Abbot, Devon
‘My gingerbread outfit ’
NEVER TOO OLD For Ray, age is just a number
That’s a fair point, Ray. We seen no reason why, with more and more older runners still competing, the categories shouldn’t be extended to include the over-70s and beyond. Keep on running!
MY MATE MOLLY I was lucky to meet the inspirational Molly Warren [featured in Runner’s World, January 2020] in 2017 and also this year at the Alora Half Marathon in Andalucia, Spain. Both times, she finished before me, my excuses being: had to make a toilet stop; not being used to running in the heat; and the big, big hill. I was not put off by any of these, so I’ll be back again next year. Margaret Sinclair, via email THINK AGAIN As someone who has been affected by pre-race performance anxiety and occasional loss of sleep in the lead-up to big races (big in my mind, at least), Tom Craggs’ piece, Grow and behold (December 2019), struck a chord with me. If I can reframe races as an opportunity to learn something and grow from the experience, this will reduce the self-induced pressure I feel to perform at my best. Setting myself a range of process measures rather than just a single outcome goal (eg time) is a much healthier approach and should allow me to regain the fun that I’ve lost in my attitude to races. Thanks, Tom! Gordon Newlands, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey 024 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK FEBRUARY 2020
Margaret (left) with Molly (right)
ALL INCLUSIVE Your stats about the fastest countries (Nation states, December 2019) misses one really important point: the UK is a long way down the rankings because it is one of the most inclusive countries. Most of our major events set generous cut-off times. My daughter lives in Brussels and has found it hard to track down a first marathon. I ran the Brussels Marathon this year, which had a cut-off time of 5:15, after which you are stopped. I am a sub-2:00 half marathoner, but my first marathon was just over five hours. What we find in Belgium (I race with her when I am visiting) is that once you get to half- and full-marathon distances, they are really only aimed at competitive club runners, and the female participation is much lower than it is in the UK. Parkrun, in their annual report a year or so ago, were proud of the fact that the average parkrun time had got slower over the years because it showed they were getting more people involved. Tony Gore, via email Excellent point, Tony. We should celebrate the fact that runners of all abilities can – and do – enter UK races.
‘You’ll definitely see me in this’
‘I run in the countryside. I need to be seen’
‘Will this do?’
Next month: #TailorMade. Show us kit you've cropped, dyed or tailored
H SWEATIQUETTE As a runner of two years, who joined the sport from the cycling world after a nasty crash, I enjoyed your podcast episode on etiquette immensely, as the life on two wheels used to be riddled with rules, such as what kit is acceptable. For example, yellow jerseys should only be worn by winners of the Tour de France, not office fatties on a Sunday pootle, and replica kit is only acceptable if it’s retro. But back to running: what I do a lot during races if I’m overtaken near the end is to say, ‘Go on, mate, show us how it’s done!’ The recipient nearly always takes it well and comes back with an equally self-deprecating retort. I’ve actually made a couple of Strava friends this way. Beats stony silence any day. Robert Mager, Lancashire Glad you enjoyed the recent podcast episode. We commend you on your running ‘sweatiquette’, too – very generous of you.
P H OTO G R A P H S : G E T T Y I M AG E S
LOSE THE WATCH, GAIN A FRIEND After running a 10K PB – knocking 14 mins off my previous time – I lost my mojo. Reason: I had become so focused on pace and time that I wasn’t enjoying the running. It had become a chore. Enter, stage left, a lad who had hated cross-country at school but now wanted me to help him run a 5K. A week before the race, we went out for a run and talked all the way. It made me realise that it isn’t always about the pace and time; sometimes it’s about getting out there and enjoying the scenery and the company. The following week, we both ran 5K PBs. Watching him cross the line and collect his medal made me feel like a new dad watching his boy take his first steps. Dale Payne, via email LOST IN PARADISE I thought your readers would be interested in an incident that happened to me earlier this year: my big running blunder of 2019! It was on day two of our family holiday in Albufeira, Portugal. It was 8am when I set out to run from the villa at Quinta
WE ASK, YOU ANSWER
Spitting while running is…
‘I have never spat when running, but in this cold weather I have to blow my nose and hope it doesn’t land on me!’ – Niketa Cruickshank
OK IN CERTAIN CONTEXTS ‘Spitting every once in a while, sure’ – Thomas Karbe
*Based on a Twitter poll with 867 votes
Mervyn, safely back in Albufeira
WHAT’S THE WORST RUNNING ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED? ‘You shouldn’t run. It’s bad for your knees/ hips/ankles.’ Joseph Voelker
‘Don’t run because your brain will shake around in your skull and give you minor brain damage.’ Lexi Smith
right before I got a bronze at county level. Zoë Luscombe
‘Running is bad for you.’ Actually, I’ve never felt better. Tracie Emerson
‘Running is a cheap sport!’ Sam Standerwick
‘It’s not worth running a marathon if it’s going to take you more than five hours.’ Emma Giles
‘Strike the ground harder with your foot; it will make you go faster.’ John-Paul O’Toole
‘Running will ruin your joints.’ Well, so will being obese. Joanna McQ
‘If you don’t PB in a race, you’re not trying.’ Totally ruined my enjoyment. Jane Ball
‘It will be fun,’ they said. William Goggans
At mile 14 of the Dublin Marathon: ‘Nearly there!’ Janet Manning ‘You’ll never be any good with feet like that.’ From a well-known running store,
Da Balaia into the old town and back – a distance of at least 10km. Anyway, after running 16km, let’s just say I was lost. I was in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by pomegranate trees. I had been running for 1 hour, 51 minutes. I walked back towards civilisation and, 5km later, managed to get a taxi. Problem was, I couldn’t remember the name of the villa, only that it was near ‘the strip’. When we eventually found it, it was getting on for noon. My wife, daughter and granddaughter were in tears: they’d thought the worst. Moral of the story: when running on holiday, make a note of where you are staying! Mervyn Abrahams, via email
HELP THE AGED Would it be possible to publish an article about training plans for older runners? I ran my first marathon at the age of 60 and have run a marathon every year for the last six years, and managed a PB at London this year. However, interval, speed and tempo work are very punishing on older muscles, which are susceptible to injury and take longer to recover. Anne Henson, via email Happy to oblige, Anne. We’re going to include a training programme for older runners in an upcoming issue.
WHAT’S INSPIRED, IMPRESSED OR, PERHAPS, ANNOYED YOU LATELY ABOUT RUNNING OR RUNNERS? THE WRITER OF THE WINNING EMAIL OR LETTER RECEIVES A PAIR OF SAUCONY TRIUMPH ISO 5S, WORTH £140 RUNNER’S WORLD, House of Hearst, 30 Panton Street, Leicester Square, London, SW1J 4AJ Email firstname.lastname@example.org Tweet @runnersworlduk Facebook runnersworlduk FEBRUARY 2020 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK 025
BY THE NUMBERS
TOMMY AND EOIN HUGHES
YOU’RE ! AMA ZING
TOMMY (59) AND EOIN (34), NORTHERN IRELAND, RAN FASTEST COMBINED MARATHON
IMAGINE RUNNING a sub-2:32 marathon and still not being the fastest runner in
Proposed to his partner on her 100th parkrun
your family. That’s the case for Eoin Hughes, who set a remarkable world record at the Frankfurt Marathon with his father, Tommy. The Northern Irish pair ran a combined time of 4:59:22, almost three minutes faster than the previous record of 5:02:12. Eoin, 34, ran 2:31:30, while Tommy (59) finished in 2:27:30. In fairness to Eoin, his dad is no ordinary runner. He is a former Olympian who represented Ireland in the marathon at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Eoin didn’t start running until he was 30, but has since notched up a string of impressive times from 5K to the marathon. He is in awe of his dad’s achievements. ‘It’s a privilege to race with my dad,’ he told RW. ‘Not everyone has that opportunity, so I try to enjoy it. We don’t get competitive against each other; we just try to do our best in each race that we do.’
2:13:59 TOMMY’S MARATHON PB, SET AT THE MARRAKECH MARATHON IN 1992.
Tommy and Eoin’s combined half-marathon time – incredibly, it’s not a world record.
Age Tommy will be in Jan. His secret? ‘Listen to your body and get lots of rest.’
5:41:12 Fastest combined 26.2 by a mum and son, set by Japan’s Masako (mum) and Tetsuro Kataoka.
Tommy’s average mileage per week in the build-up to the Frankfurt Marathon.
4,220 POPULATION OF MAGHERA, THE TOWN WHERE EOIN AND TOMMY LIVE.
4HRS 59MINS 22SECS
THE COMBINED MARATHON TIME RUN BY EOIN AND TOMMY, A WORLD RECORD 026 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK FEBRUARY 2020
RACHEL WELCH From zero miles to ultramarathon in just two years
If you’re seeking an example of our sport’s ability to improve mental and physical health, you need only look to Rachel Welch. In January 2018, Rachel was a non-runner struggling with depression and anxiety. Two years on, she’s about to run the Peddars Way 48-mile ultramarathon – and has never felt better. It started with RED January, a fundraiser organised by the mental charity MIND, which challenged people to run every day in January. ‘I was struggling with anxiety and feeling low, not wanting to go out,’ she says. ‘But by the end of January, I’d run 115 miles, booked my ﬁrst half marathon and was hooked. Running changed everything for me. I’m not suggesting that if you have depression, going for a run will ﬁx everything. But it took me from a bad place to being able to manage. It’s a self-help strategy for me.’
Rachel is also running the Cambridge Half Marathon for the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust: cwmt.org.uk
WO R D S : R I C K P E A R S O N
Romantic by name, romantic by nature – Mark Valentine made sure his partner’s 100th parkrun was a day to remember: he proposed to her at the ﬁnish line. He popped the question to Stacey Green, his partner of four years, at Worsley Woods parkrun in Salford. Holding a bouquet of ﬂowers, Mark waited on one knee for Stacey to cross the line before asking for her hand in marriage. Mark and Stacey met at Chorlton Runners and Mark says he’d been planning the proposal for six months. ‘I had been dying to tell everyone but largely managed to keep it a secret,’ he says. Stacey recalls, ‘I was totally thrilled and overcome – I said yes at once.’
BY PAUL TONKINSON
NEW YEAR, NEW ME – SAME OLD BODY, BUT STILL…
THE BIG QUESTIONS by John Carroll
Q. How long can I wear my medal after a race?
I L L U S T R AT I O N : P I E TA R I P O S T I
wo steps forward, one step back. Training had been going well and form had been returning, slowly but surely. I had started to remember who I was as a runner; after months of work, I felt I was making progress. I did a cross-country race – loved it. Beating a couple of runners in the last 600m or so felt great, like a tide beginning to turn. Then I began to rise up the pack at the track on Tuesdays, at least for a couple of weeks. For the ﬁrst time in a year I was starting to get near six minutes for some of the mile reps. I was fading quickly after that, but the sense of embarrassment was fading, too. Momentum had kicked in. That’s the crack isn’t it? You get ﬁtter and remember what it was like to feel that way. So you commit a little more. I did a parkrun and went under 20 minutes for the ﬁrst time in a while. Nowhere near my fastest but approaching the feeling I loved. Something subtle was changing in my running style, a sign I’m getting ﬁtter, bouncing a bit more in the stride. Watching runners, I notice that the further up the ﬁeld, the more bouncy it all gets; the forward thrust is more apparent. As you move down the ﬁeld – I’ve noticed it in myself – it seems to be more about economy. A feeling of, ‘I’m trying to run as fast as I can but my focus is to expand as little energy as possible.’ You see more scuttling, low knees and arms. That’s my natural marathon stride – lots of short, quick steps – but for the shorter distances I was loosening up more – longer strides, relaxed shoulders. It was all very exciting. Thoughts of getting faster were nibbling away at my subconscious. The experienced among you will know this is a dangerous time. I was still coming back from a summer curtailed by surgery and back problems. I still have to stretch before I get out of bed, for goodness sake. Also, my lifestyle is not always conducive to running hard. Warning signs have surfaced. One club night, I felt a twinge in my hamstring halfway through a mile rep. I pulled up, stretched, rested, then did another rep. It was OK, though; I got away with it.
A. Tricky one, this. A race medal symbolises your achievement and can mean a great deal after your first event or a race you have had in your sights for a long time. So, feel free to wear it as you make your way from the finishers’ area, and even until you change into fresh clothes. However, if you later find it nestling in your pasta as you enjoy a postrace dinner, you may notice something niggling at the edge of your consciousness. It's your selfrespect and it wants a word.
That weekend, I gigged in Stoke on Friday and Saturday, but drove back to London to do a 10K on Saturday morning. It was worth it; the 10K was a huge leap in the right direction – I raced through 5K in about 19:40, then slowing, but still – 40:19. This was good. Not fast fast, for me, but getting there. I was feeling tired but happy, streamlined and back on form. I wanted to make plans. I put the Manchester Marathon in the diary. I would ramp up my mileage, then buy some performance-enhancing race ﬂats and go for it. These feelings are intensiﬁed with age. There are not many opportunities left for a fast marathon. I’m in the last-chance saloon; in fact, it’s last orders and I’m clawing at the bar as the bouncer – Father Time – tries to drag me out. The following Tuesday I pulled a calf on the ﬁfth rep of a set of 800m repeats. It was awful. I’d been ﬂying: 2:58-59s. Not back back, but on the way. It was a dull ache, and though there was no dreaded ping, I had to stop; the next day, I was limping. My physio mate says it would be seven to eight days off. Not fatal, but a warning. What did I do wrong? Was I coming back too quick? Not enough rest? Was it the driving, the 12 hours behind a wheel at the weekend, all that calf work on the accelerator? It’s obvious I’m going to have to start stretching when I drive. My body has remembered how to run faster, but I’m going to have to look after it. Still, new year, new me, and all that. If I stretch more, and if I can stay off the booze (which I’m getting much better at) and strike the right balance between the mileage and the speedwork, I’m conﬁdent that – if these Vaporﬂys are all everyone is saying they are – I can run faster this year. Good luck to us all in 2020!
Check out Paul and fellow comedian Rob Deering’s running podcast, Running Commentary – available on iTunes and Acast. @RunComPod
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R TRAIL MIX Jogging Pals enjoy one of their regular friendly runs
SOCIAL NT MOVEME
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE Jogging Pals is a running club where no one is left behind ‘I PUT A POST OUT ON NEW YEAR'S EVE 2014, saying that I’d be
running some Couch to 5K courses,’ says Glyn Rose, the man behind Jogging Pals. ‘I’d noticed a lot of people wanted to get into running but didn’t know where to start. The new year was spent answering lots of messages on Facebook and in January the first programme was delivered to 31 people. Jogging Pals started as a hobby. Now it’s a business.’
Lake District-based Jogging Pals offers 10 sessions a week and has a staunch ethos of inclusivity. ‘A massive part of what we do is trying to make sure everyone’s supported,’ it says on their website, ‘but in particular the person at the back of the pack!’ ‘There are running clubs in Kendal,’ says Glyn, ‘but many of our Pals are ladies from their mid 20s through to their 50s, who feel they might not fit in with the
‘WE KNOW HOW MUCH DIFFERENCE RUNNING CAN MAKE – JUST TALKING TO THE PEOPLE ALONGSIDE YOU’ 028 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK FEBRUARY 2020
image of club runners in shorts and vests; they fear they might be too slow and hold people up. That’s something we’re very focused on; everybody's involved, Jogging Pals is totally inclusive. We’ve also had people with disabilities run with us and we’re quite proud of that. We move at people’s paces. We’re all human and we’re all different. We respect that and we support people through that journey. Nobody’s left behind.’ Three years after Glyn’s initial Facebook post, he added friend Wayne Singleton to the staff. ‘We had so many people signed up that we looked at each other and thought, “Hmm, is
there something here?” We decided to make it a business and see where it went. It’s been amazing. It’s exceeded expectations.’ Glyn estimates over 500 people have done the Jogging Pals Couch to 5K programme. The staff roster has grown too, most of them former Pals. ‘We just wanted to get people to run 5K and we assumed they would go off and start running. But they didn't want to leave!’ So Glyn started putting on 5-10K programmes, road and trail programmes, an Improvers programme focusing on form and technique, and a 10-20km programme. They’ve recently added holidays (in the Lake District and Romania) and junior sessions, too. ‘We're getting children being active, but in a fun way, so they don't really realise they're doing it.’ In 2017, Jogging Pals won the Cumbria Sports Award for Community Club or Group. ‘That was pretty special.’ They're also Mental Health Champions for England Athletics and organise ‘run and talk’ sessions. ‘We just encourage people to come along and run – or walk – one, two or three miles and just talk. If you want to talk in confidence to a stranger, that’s absolutely fine and if you just want to talk about the weather, that’s totally cool as well. We know how much difference running can make – just getting out and about and talking to the people alongside you.’ Running has had a big impact on Glyn’s life too. ‘I was a smoker and a drinker – I wouldn't step out for a night unless I had two packets of cigarettes in my pocket. Then I got into running. I can go out for a run and it puts things back in perspective. Running makes a big difference.’
For more info on Jogging Pals, their sessions and their running holidays, visit joggingpals.co.uk
Debra Jones ‘I expected running would make me feel fitter, healthier and stronger, but what I didn’t expect was a new group of fantastic friends. And despite having lived in the Lake District my entire life, I’ve never enjoyed it the way I do now. Jogging Pals has become an extension of my family. I spend as much time in the company of Pals as I do my kids and hubby.’
Justin Williams ‘I was seriously overweight and unfit and I knew I had to change. I decided a structured plan and a support network would be better than joining a gym. Jogging Pals has changed my life. I've lost 5st 5lb, can jog over 10K and have met some wonderful people. The support has been inspiring. I’ve made friendships with both team members and other Pals.’
WO R D S : DA M I A N H A L L . P H OTO G R A P H S : JA M E S K I R B Y
The Flamingo Diaries
BY LISA JACKSON
BURTON AND TAYLOR HAD NOTHING ON ME AND RUNNING
WORDS TO GIVE YOU WINGS ‘The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.’
I L L U S T R AT I O N : P I E TA R I P O S T I
y love affair with running was a late-in-life romance: I didn’t find love until I was in my 30s and, even then, it hasn’t always been easy. No, it’s been a tempestuous relationship littered with break-ups and make-ups, the odd fling, intense passion and ardent aversion. If you’re familiar with the slogan ‘I adore running – just not while I’m doing it’, you’ll get where I’m coming from. Running first set my heart aflutter in 1998. Back then, I was allergic to exercise and, having suffered hot-faced humiliation when I’d repeatedly come last on school sports days, the word ‘running’ was a synonym for ‘shame’. That changed when a colleague invited me to a Race for Life in Battersea Park, London. As a first date, it was awkward but it got my heart racing in more ways than one. I had to walk most of it, but that gave me more time to chat to people, appreciate the atmosphere and marvel at the fact that running didn’t have to be horrible. I realised it could be fun. I found running difficult – I still do – but my feelings deepened and in 10 months I morphed from a fitness-phobe into a fairy-wings-wearing, super-slow marathon runner, completing the London Marathon in a shade under seven hours. This short summary of my running romance doesn’t tell the whole story, however, because along the way there have been innumerable ups and downs. Sure, I loved the way running gave me the chance to talk to strangers for hours without getting you’re-a-weirdo looks, but hated the fact that many a time I felt as if I was slogging through melted cheese. There were periods when I had a few brief flirtations with triathlon and long-distance walking, and others when I fell out of love altogether and didn’t run a step for weeks, or months, finding that, unlike most runners I know, I could live perfectly well without running. Except I couldn’t, and kept running back. In that way, our relationship resembled that between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton: she couldn’t live with him, but couldn’t live without him either. There were also times when I renewed the
This John Bingham quote has inspired me – and, I imagine, countless other tortoise-types, – through every step I have taken to get from nervous newbie to 56-mile ultrarunner. I think it applies to both starting running and attempting races – and, indeed, any dauntingly big life project, such as embarking on a course of study or writing a book. It always reminds me that starting is, by far, the hardest step; by comparison, finishing will be easy, if not almost inevitable.
vows I’d made to running, when it became the fulcrum around which my life revolved as I wholeheartedly committed myself to training for two 56-mile ultramarathons in South Africa and relentlessly pursued my goal of joining the 100 Marathon Club. My relationship with running has never been plain sailing, but the one I have with Runner’s World is blissfully uncomplicated. In 1998, you couldn’t surf the net for training plans, and non-technical running books were thin on the ground, so when I stumbled across RW for the first time, it was love at first sight. The Penguin Chronicles, written by John ‘The Penguin’ Bingham, a 40-something, overweight smoker who transformed his life through running, was my favourite column. I revelled in John’s ‘no need for speed’ philosophy and the way he celebrated tortoise-like runners like me who were at the back of the pack. Like mine, his story was an account of the triumph of tenacity over a lack of talent. I was sad when he retired in 2014 and, ever since, have felt there’s been a penguin-shaped hole in the magazine, one I’m now honoured to have been invited to fill. These days I run all of my races in the (now rather faded) pink flamingo hat I donned for my first ultra, which is why I have named this column The Flamingo Diaries. Following in The Penguin’s waddling footsteps, I hope to spread his message that running isn’t reserved for the fast and the fit. It’s also for the shufflers, the strugglers, the stragglers. In the coming months, as I share my ever-evolving relationship with running with you, I hope you’ll come round to my view that running isn’t about the time you do, but the time you have while doing it.
Lisa is the author of two bestselling running books, Running Made Easy and Your Pace or Mine? The audiobook version of the latter will be available from January 31.
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Whatever your goals for 2020 – take your first steps, get faster, go longer, get leaner, beat injuries or run happier – we have the knowledge you need to make this your best running year
030 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK FEBRUARY 2020
Running has the power to change your life. Here’s how to get going – and make sure you never want to stop
You can spend all year thinking about it and Googling tips, but the key is to just lace up and get out there. Regularly. ‘The biggest thing when you first start out is establishing the habit – getting used to being on your feet,’ says running coach Matthew Meyer. At the start, forget about hitting a certain pace, ditch the idea of reaching a certain distance; instead, just set a time goal. Obviously, a realistic and safe goal will vary according to your starting levels of health and fitness, but Meyer says a good newrunners’ target is to get moving for 20 minutes, three days a week. Eventually, build up to four days, and then you can bump those 20 minutes to 25 and so on.
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With our hectic lives, trying to fit the new commitment of a running routine into your schedule can be a major barrier. So, treat your training time like you would an important appointment, and if you’re really struggling to commit, find a workout buddy or a group so you have a solid reason to get out there often. Also, try laying your running kit next to your bed the night before. It’s one less thing you have to do before a morning run. Treat yourself like a runner – from day one. That means taking time to properly warm up and cool down. ‘A good warm-up makes it much easier to get going and keep going,’ says coach Andrew Kastor. ‘It’s much more than just boosting blood flow to your muscles.’ Your
neuromuscular system, which involves your brain telling your muscles how to contract, gets up to speed. Your body starts churning out fat-burning enzymes, which help your aerobic system work more efficiently. Synovial fluid warms up, which helps lubricate your joints. ‘Too many beginners skip this step without realising how much easier it makes the whole run feel,’ says Kastor. Cooling down, while less critical, allows your body to gradually adjust from running back to a resting state. ‘Just a few minutes’ walking is all you need to let your heart rate return to normal and for your body to clear out any metabolic waste you created during your efforts,’ adds Kastor. Start your warm-up with a few reverse lunges on each leg, followed by squats, side lunges, bum kicks and high knees, and a few minutes of walking before your run. After that, take a few minutes to walk slowly, then foam roll your legs (the quads, hamstrings and calves are good places to work on) or stretch. Even (and, in fact, especially) in the early stages of running, you also want to think about your running technique. Meyer has a few simple questions he tells his clients to ask themselves on the run: Am I forward leaning through the chest? Are my arms swinging? Is my core engaged? Are my knees driving? Are my heels nice and high? ‘Really focus on picking up your heels behind you, especially if you’re feeling tired and your legs are heavy, to take your mind off the run for a little,’ says Meyer. E FEBRUARY 2020 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK 031
5. WALK THIS WAY Whether you’re fresh off the sofa or coming from another sport, running takes time to break into, but you will get there, if you start slowly. One great way to do that is a run-walk programme. With your 20-minute target in mind, focus on a few minutes of running, followed by a period of walking. Meyer suggests aiming to run for three minutes and walking for one minute – continue to alternate until you reach the time goal. If you’re not comfortable with a one-minute walk segment, coach Christine Hinton suggests four minutes of walking and just two minutes of running as an alternative, or try the 10-week walk-run plan below. 10-week run-walk plan: Start and finish each workout with five minutes of walking. Then, alternate the following run/walk ratios for 30 minutes RUNNING
Aim for a six or seven out of 10 in terms of your exertion level during run periods, reducing it to two or three during the walk. You should be able to have a conversation during those three-minute run periods, says Meyer.
Discovering a new area is an easy way to keep up your motivation . ‘You want to get moving, but you also want to be in a beautiful place and spend time exploring,’ says Meyer. It also helps to explore different running surfaces. Runners often have strong opinions about where to run, but the best solution for you as a new runner may be to simply mix it up, says exercise physiologist Shelly Florence-Glover. Vary between roads, park paths, grass and the gym treadmill, and anything else you can access. ‘Soft is not necessarily better,’ says Florence-Glover. ‘Both treadmills and trails may seem 032 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK FEBRUARY 2020
“softer” and therefore safer, but they have their issues. A treadmill belt has a slight shimmy when the belt impacts the bed that can contribute to shin issues. Offroad trails can be uneven and have holes and ruts. Keep it varied; maybe pavement one day, paved road the next and a trail on the weekends.’ When you feel comfortable running for 20-30 minutes at an easy pace (that is, when your exertion level drops below six, and you feel confident in taking it up a notch), it’s time to increase the challenge. Your next step is to either extend your total time on your feet in each session or the
KEEP GOING You may not be looking forward to a run, but do it anyway
number of runs each week. But choose just one option at a time, says Meyer. For instance, you could aim to go for 30 minutes instead of 20. Or run four times a week instead of three. One important rule of thumb: increase your total weekly time or distance by no more than 10 per cent from week to week (see also no. 48). A few things to think about when you start to feel like you just want to stop: for starters, focus on why you decided to start running. ‘Whenever I’m in the middle of a really hard run, I remember, “You chose this and you really love this,”’ says Meyer. ‘Even when it gets
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hard, there’s a reason you went out in the first place.’ Before your next run, Meyer recommends deciding what you want to get out of it to keep your focus. Do you want to get outside and enjoy it? To end it smiling and feeling good? To get mentally or physically stronger? Do you just want to sweat a little? Whatever it is, point it out and use it as your motivation to just keep going. Don’t feel deflated by a bad run – everyone has them. Even the pros. ‘Running is more of a collection of work – day by day, you work for it – and it’s at the end that you see everything,’ says Meyer. ‘So just
focus on turning up a little bit every day. Some days, you’ll feel amazing; some days, you’ll feel terrible. Success is not determined by one day, but by all of them put together.’ A simple running diary offers insight into how far you’ve come, what’s working and what’s not, and keeps you on track to meet your goals. Consider recording the type of run (duration/miles/special workout); effort; food and drink consumed before, during and after; weather; and how you felt. A playlist can help you power through the tough times. ‘Certain
An exercise partner improves the odds that you’ll stick with your routine, according to The American College of Sports Medicine. Here’s why: your run flies by when you’re talking with a friend, and knowing a partner is waiting for you is great motivation to leave the house.
types of music can help lower the perception of fatigue and enhance feelings of vigour and excitement,’ says sports and exercise psychologist Dr Costas Karageorghis, of Brunel University. Just be sure to keep the volume low or opt for open-air earphones so you’re aware of your surroundings: always run safely.
Finally, always remember that you’re a runner, no matter how much time you put in and whether you walk or not. ‘If you get out there and you put one foot in front of the other, you’re a runner,’ says Meyer. Don’t forget it! E FEBRUARY 2020 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK 033
Running is one of the best ways to lose weight. Use these strategies to ensure your miles maximise the fat you lose
Does swimming burn fat? Cycling? How about a luxury boot camp in St Lucia? Yep, they are all great for shedding a few pounds , but you’ll need a pool, a bike or a six-figure salary. If you can afford a pair of running shoes, though, you can run. You can run in the sun. You can run in the rain. You can run in the snow. You can run with a friend. You can run by yourself. You can even run every single day if you’re smart about recovery. This accessibility makes running one of the best ways to lose weight, and boost your fitness and all-round health. However, running for lasting weight loss is more complicated than simply hitting the pavement and hoping the pounds melt away. Here’s everything you need to win when running to lose. 034 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK FEBRUARY 2020
Yes, you need to fuel your efforts, but running is not an invitation to the all-you-can-eat buffet afterwards your goal is losing weight. In fact, you could find yourself gaining weight if you over-fuel your runs. ‘Most people overestimate the calories they burn on a run,’ says coach Angela Rubin. In general, you burn about 100 calories per mile. Here’s the bottom line: if you run three miles, you don’t need to refuel with a 400kcal brownie. ‘Weight loss is about creating a caloric imbalance, where you’re using slightly more calories than you’re consuming,’ says Dr Daniel O’Connor, professor of health and human performance at the University of Houston, US .
To do this, you also need to factor in the number of calories you burn when you are not running, simply to keep your body functioning (cell production, breathing, processing nutrients, circulation etc). This is known as your basal metabolic rate. Bear in mind that people of the same height, weight, and gender can have different basal metabolic rates. Some are simply born with a more active ‘internal engine’, and fitter people tend to have higher BMRs because they have more muscle and less fat. There are various online calculators that will give you a good idea of your BMR. Add to it the calories you burn per day from running and other activities to work out your overall calorie expenditure.
Adding strengthtraining to your routine is important for many reasons: for a start, it makes you a stronger runner and reduces your risk of injury. ‘Running is only hard on your joints if you don’t have the muscle to support them,’ says Rubin. It also helps you lose weight. ‘The more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you’ll burn at rest,’ she says.
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ALL TERRAIN You can run anywhere, any time
You want a calorie deficit, but nothing too extreme. ‘People often think they need to restrict a large number of calories to lose weight, but if you’re doing that while running, you’re burning the candle at both ends,’ says sports dietitian Tavierney Rogan. Possible fallout includes injury, burnout and bingeing. When you cut carbs or skip meals in an effort to drop pounds, you’re not giving your body what it needs to avoid muscle breakdown. When you run, you use the glycogen in your muscles. So after a run, you need 40-50g of carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores – that’s two to four servings of fruit or complex carbs such as porridge or brown rice. The
food isn’t going to your gut, either. ‘The carbs you eat after a workout are used by your muscles,’ says Rogan, ‘not stored as fat.’ You’ll want to also supplement that fuel with some protein for muscle recovery, too. Cutting too many calories can also trigger a slowdown in your metabolism, as your body responds to the lack of fuel by clicking into ‘starvation mode’, making it nearly impossible to maintain weight loss. Instead of slashing calories, aim for a deficit of 200-250 calories a day. That should result in a loss of 300-350g per week, which won’t flip the starvation switch. We can all agree that an early alarm is rarely an appealing prospect, but it could work wonders for your waistline. A study published in the journal Obesity that examined the habits of people who maintained a weight loss of at least 30lb for at least a year, found that those who consistently exercise at the same time of day tend to get about an hour more of exercise each week than those who vary their workout slots. What time of day didn’t necessarily matter, but the research found that most consistent exercisers do so in the early morning hours. Why? The researchers suggest that consistency helps you ingrain the exercise habit. So if you exercise every morning after you have your coffee, your mind – clever thing that it is – prepares to get going as you smell the java brewing. Also, early morning may be the easiest time to build that exercise habit, because it’s the time when life demands are least likely to derail your plans. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found those who exercised before eating breakfast burned twice the fat of those who exercised after breakfast. This boosted fat burn may be due to an increased availability of fatty acids, which, among other functions, fuel your cells if glucose isn’t available, says Dr Javier Gonzalez, the study author and a lecturer in human and applied physiology at the University of Bath. If you are heading out on an empty stomach, though, aim
for a shorter and easier route, so you’ll avoid running out of steam halfway through.
A study in Plos One found people who skimped on sleep were more likely to have higher body mass indexes and larger waist circumferences than those who got adequate shut-eye. The good news is, running may help you sleep easier and deeper. Many studies have found that daily aerobic exercise – specifically the moderateto-intense type – improves sleep quality. If you run in the evening, make sure you leave enough time before bedtime to let your body temperature and heart rate come down.
All types of running will burn calories and fat, but throwing in some speed in the form of interval or HIIT training will boost your burn. In fact, interval training could help you lose 29 per cent more weight than continuous moderateintensity running, according to a new meta-analysis of studies, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. ‘Interval training seems to change your metabolism, and higher intensity exercise seems to promote physiological changes that might favour long-term weight loss,’ explains study co-author Dr Paulo Gentil. ‘In other words, it makes your body more efficient at burning fat.’ In even better news, you’ll still be burning blubber even after you finish your run. ‘Running at a high intensity will create an afterburn, which is when your body continues to burn calories when you’re no longer moving,’ says Rubin. Try adding four to six 30-second sprints to your normal runs – a study from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, found people who did this lost twice the body fat of those who ran slow and steady. However, as interval training is more taxing on your body, plan two to three days of recovery between sessions.
21. DON’T PUNISH YOURSELF ‘Dieting is about deprivation. Saying “I can’t eat this,” over and over is awful,’ says nutritionist Rebecca Scritchfield. And it doesn’t work in the long term: Everyone has a weight set point, a range
of 10-15lb your body settles into. Dip below that and your brain protects you against further weight loss with hungerinducing hormones. ‘In a war of brain chemistry against willpower, your brain will
win,’ says Scritchfield. She urges runners to ditch the obsession with target weights, and to focus on the many other benefits of running, such as improved sleep and increased energy. E
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British Athletics performance coach Tom Craggs show you how to get up to speed
While we all run for different reasons, many of us do chase the dream of being a fraction closer to the Kipchoges of this world. To get there, you need to step out of your comfort zone. Your body is an eminently adaptable system – we adjust quickly to new stimuli and unless we are prepared to change, our speed tends to plateau quickly. Adding variety and quality to your training week has many benefits: it creates a new stress, which, with the right recovery, will help you build stronger muscles, heart and lungs. Running fast and completing drills can reinforce improved running technique and build strength. It can also give you the mental ‘callusing’ you need to cope with the discomfort you will experience in a short, fast race.
There is no ‘perfect’ way to run, but these drills help to develop your speed and strength. Complete them before hard training sessions and even on easy days to maintain some zip. Pogos
Standing with your feet together jump rapidly up and down in place, keeping your feet in a dorsiflexed (toes up) position. Land on your midfoot to the ball of your foot and aim for a snappy reaction to the ground, which will drive you into your next hop. Straight-leg kick-outs
With your legs straight, move forward by kicking your legs out in front of you and landing on your midfoot with your laces always kept pointing up towards the sky. Aim to keep your abs and glutes engaged as your foot hits the ground to help you ‘pop’ into your next stride. 036 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK FEBRUARY 2020
Short maximal hills
TOM CRAGGS The British Athletics performance coach has over a decade of experience working with runners from beginners to elite GB distance athletes and Paralympic medallists. He’s a man who knows how get you up to speed.
This is a fantastic way to recruit a high percentage of fast-twitch muscle fibres for those of us who are not natural speed demons (ie most of us). Warm up fully and find a steep path on asphalt. Sprint uphill at maximum intensity for 8-10 seconds, completing 4-8 efforts with at least 90 seconds’ recovery between each.
You’ll find full training plans for your chosen race distance at runnersworld.com/uk/training, but here are the perfect sessions for distance-specific speed gains: Key speed session for mile PB-chasers The mile is the iconic distance so many runners – probably most – have never raced. But you should. A perfect blend of speed and endurance, it demands respect. Giving yourself longer to recover between efforts affords you the chance to thoroughly test yourself at race effort. The session 1km / 800m / 600m / 400m / 200m, with 5-6 minutes’ recovery between each. Run the 1km effort at your fastest 3km pace and aim to get a little faster each block with the 400m and 200m at 600-800m pace. The recovery can be static or a slow jog.
Key speed session for 5K PB-chasers The key to the 5K is starting out fast and holding that effort, which is as much a psychological challenge as a physical one. Do you dare run on a red line for long enough? Training for the 5K is about mentally toughening yourself to accept that discomfort and learning to make it routine – or even something you can enjoy.
The session: 4 × 90 secs / 3 × 4 mins / 4 × 90 secs. Run the 4 × 90 secs efforts faster than your 5K pace, with 60 secs’ recovery. Run the 3 × 4 mins at 5K pace, with 90 secs’ recovery. Jog for 2 minutes to recover between each set.
Key speed session for 10K PB-chasers Aside from obvious options such as 6 x 1 mile at race pace, varying effort in longer sessions can deliver a new physiological challenge. The session 10 × 3 mins, alternating 10K pace and 5K pace with 80-90 secs’ rest between efforts
How to boost your running psyche Train and race to effort
Learning to control your sense of perceived exertion is a key skill to master. Give yourself a scale from 0-10, where 0 is walking and 10 is you in an 800m or mile race. Grin and bear it
Research has shown that smiling can help lower an athlete’s sense of perceived exertion. Try it; at worst, you’ll brighten the day of those around you (see no. 65)
33-35. PICK YOUR BATTLES Chasing a PB? When you’re ready, target a naturally quick race. Here are Britain’s best at the key distances: Mile We are lucky to have one of the best mile races in the world right here in the UK. The Vitality Westminster Mile takes you down The Mall and finishes in front of Buckingham Palace, and is a fabulous race to test yourself over the classic distance. 5K The UK’s elite athletes congregate to chase PBs in the setting sun at The Ipswich Twilight 5K. For the rest of us there are multiple waves, throughout the day, so you don’t have to be running sub-14 minutes to benefit from this flat, fast and brilliantly organised race.
Routines can be good for getting you into the right frame of mind, priming you to give your best effort. Work to develop a repeatable pre-session and pre-race routine. When you lay out your kit, what time you arrive before a race, what foods you eat and what warm-up you do should all be factored in. 10K
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Embrace the challenge
‘One thing about racing is that it hurts. You better accept that from the beginning or you’re not going anywhere,’ said US distance runner Bob Kennedy. Running to your best ability is going to feel painful at some point. If you accept that, and embrace it as a normal and positive feeling, you’ll find it easier to control negative thoughts midrace. FORCE THE PACE Speedwork is tough but well worth the hard yards
When the going gets tough, try dedicating those final reps, or metres of a race, to someone important in your life – you won’t let them down.
The UK has many fast 10K races: Leeds Abbey Dash, Brighton Marathon 10K, Telford 10K, Ribble Valley and the Vitality 10,000m are all great options, but my pick would be the Loch Ness Marathon 10K route. The point-to-point course is perfectly set up for fast running, with closed roads and a route that brings you home along the River Ness. E
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DISTANCE LEARNING Ultras demand new mental and physical skills
How to condition your body and mind – and find time in your life – to step up and go beyond marathon distance
DAMIAN HALL The UK Athletics coach and record-breaking ultrarunner has made the podium at many iconic ultrarunning events, including the Spine Race and the Dragon’s Back, and finished fifth in the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in 2018. He has mastered the long game.
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If a race is twice the distance of a marathon, it doesn’t mean your training needs to be twice as hard. Many people complete ultras on around the same mileage as a marathon training plan. Although you’ll be on your feet for longer in an ultra, you’ll be moving slower than marathon pace. It’s significantly less intense and less taxing on joints – repetitive pounding on asphalt is brutal compared with softer, changing terrain that better spreads stress around the body. Also, hiking the uphills (and most trail ultras are lumpy) is not only legitimate but a smart strategy, to preserve muscles. You may even start looking forward to hills and the sneaky walking break they allow.
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In ultra training, consistency is king. That doesn’t mean doing the same thing every day or week, but, rather, getting out regularly – four to six shorter runs a week is better than the same volume over two or three runs – for several consecutive months builds a great endurance base. The long run is the key workout and if you can get in a handful that are 20 miles/four hours or more, you’ll be in a good place. These runs should be mostly easy and as well as the cardio benefits, they are great for sussing out which shoes (think blister-prevention) and other kit works best, and to train your gut (see no. 38). Ultras are eating competitions as much as running events. And eating to fuel long runs effectively is a skill that needs to be honed. Aid stations have piles of flapjacks and cakes – a few even have beer. Gels may be OK for a few hours, but the longer the race, the more you’ll want variety, ‘real food’ and savoury options, such as salty nuts and soup. Use longer training runs to practise fuelling and train your gut to digest food on the go. Well-fuelled long runs will also help you to recover more quickly. Aim for 1g carbs/ per kg of body weight/per hour.
One of the most liberating things about ultramarathons is that no one cares how long a race took you. All
Speedwork isn’t as important for ultras as it is for shorter distances, but one fast session a week will make your ‘forever pace’ feel that little bit easier and give you a change of gear should circumstances – eg the weather turns or you hear a rumour the raspberry flapjacks are about to run out at the next aid station – demand it.
the usual pressures of chasing a PB or maintaining a particular uncomfortable pace, not to mention the repeated wrist-gazing that comes with it, go out the window. It’s usually pointless trying to stick to eight-minute miles, anyway, because the terrain, the weather, the possible darkness or a good chinwag with your new best friend will affect your pace. You can just relax and enjoy the experience of a lifetime.
A first ultra means being on your feet for longer than ever before, which will make you tired and probably a bit fed up. Rule number one: low mood, eat food. Often you’ve just neglected your fuelling and a big chunk of chocolate may give you the lift you need. At other times, you need some mental resilience to see you through. It comes down to how much it matters to you. So, know your ‘why’ before the race. Why are you doing this? It may mean thinking of those who inspire you, or who you want inspire; or of times when others have written you off. It also helps to break the race into bite-sized chunks; try to stay in the moment (ie practise mindfulness) and just concentrate on getting to the next checkpoint. Also, however hard it gets, try to remember how lucky you are to be there. Research shows that feeling gratitude makes us perform better. Discomfort is temporary, but the finish line is forever.
Trail ultras usually involve hills or, perhaps, some night running, so it’s a good idea to practise the specifics of the race, to make it more comfortable, physically and mentally. If it’s likely you’ll be hiking sections of the route, practise that, too, because you’ll be using muscles and tendons slightly differently, and you also need to check your shoes work well for all parts of the route. Plus, it’s good cross-training. For those runners who have family commitments or limited training time – the two often go together – the alarm may need to be set for some awkward times so you can squeeze in those long runs. You should see these early starts as useful mental training for when it gets tough during a race. Smart life/run juggling tactics include run commutes, lunchtime runs, running to or from family activities, running while your kids cycle. Get creative and look for training opportunities everywhere.
Recovery is crucial when your training changes and new stimulus is added. Your number-one priority is sleep. That’s when all the good stuff happens, such as growth hormones being released and muscles repaired. Regular foam rolling is smart, too, to dissipate muscle tightness before it becomes an issue. And pre-emptive physio visits could save you in the long term. Some strength work is wise, too, to help with good form and injury prevention.
45-47. RE ADY TO STEP UP? IMBER ULTRA, 33 MILES, MARCH 8, IMBER-ULTRA.ORG
LAKELAND TRAILS 55K, 55KM, JULY 11, LAKELANDTRAILS.ORG/ULTRA
NORTH DOWNS WAY 50, 50 MILES, 16 MAY, CENTURIONRUNNING.COM
Wiltshire’s Imber Ultra needs minimal navigation skills (it’s not marked, but follows a recognised trail) and is comparatively short, with easy terrain and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. A cut-off time of eight hours is kind, too.
It may throw some fierce, hands-on-the-knees Lake District gradient at you, but the route sticks to good trails, has hard-to-leave aid stations and a friendly, celebratory atmosphere. Plus the scenery is, of course, sensational.
Southeast-based Centurion Running host several highly respected ultra-distance races and have a reputation for creating a friendly atmosphere. The race organisation is invariably excellent and the aid stations are always first class. E
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The top reasons why you’re picking up injuries, and how best to dodge them in the year to come
Runners get injured. But it isn’t because you run – it’s the way you train or a lack of commitment to the important things that support your running. There are two main types of injury – ‘acute’ and ‘chronic’. Acute are those where you can pinpoint when it occurred (eg ankle sprain). Chronic injuries build up over time and are far more common in runners, due to the repetitive nature of running, which amplifies initially minor problems. The good news is it’s easier to predict and to avoid chronic injuries. Here’s how: Your body is great at adapting to the stresses, if those stresses are manageable. Things go wrong when it’s unable to cope with dramatic changes in mileage and/ or intensity. You may have heard of the 10 per cent rule – not increasing your training by more than 10 per cent each week. That metric is simple when you look at distance, but what about intensity? Use a heart-rate monitor to track your effort and/or look at your training programme to ensure you’re not adding too many high-intensity sessions – eg hill sprints – in the motivational excitement of the new year. Try one session at a time for an increase in intensity and work on a lower overall mileage in that period.
If you’re a runner who just runs, you’re asking for some time on the physio’s table. Our bodies respond to load by making us stronger, and after your body adapts to a certain level of specific load from running, your strength will plateau. All may be well until you do something different , such as a cross-country run or hill reps. 040 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK FEBRUARY 2020
PAUL HOBROUGH The elite physio and author of Running Free of Injuries and The Runner’s Expert Guide to Stretching, has a wealth of experience in getting runners back in action and ensuring they’re not back in his treatment room any time soon.
Strength and conditioning work that builds strength in both the prime movers and the accessory muscles (which help posture and control unwanted movement) means you are far less likely to overload these muscles and cause injury. And getting stronger will make you faster, too. The most effective strength moves for runners are single-leg squats, glute activation, calf raises off a step, deep-core activation and hamstring curls on a Swiss ball. Visit runnersworld.com/uk/ strength-training-for-runners for detail on these and more exercises, and how to perform them.
Very few runners I know commit to stretching. The practice has come under scrutiny recently, with some studies failing to show any benefit. But my experience is that those who stretch, or practise yoga or Pilates, benefit from their longterm commitment. I’m such a believer in the benefits that I wrote a book, The Runner’s Expert Guide to Stretching, filled with selftests to check your flexibility and exercises to improve it. Add a yoga or Pilates class to your weekly schedule and try to find time for these key stretches on a daily basis: hip flexor stretch, glute stretch in pigeon pose and soleus stretch against wall (30-40 secs x 3). See runnersworld.com/uk/tighthips; runnersworld.com/uk/glute stretches; and runnersworld.com/ uk/stretching for more details.
Spring marathon on the horizon? Runners accept feeling knackered after a session and going into the next one, so it can be tempting to think you need to suck it up and
cram in the miles, but when you’re training hard, recovery is the most beneficial session of the week. Taking a well-earned day off or a slow and relatively short recovery run, should form the bedrock of any good training programme.
Following a particular type of training (eg a speed session) with another of the same type will overly fatigue specific muscles and energy systems, and leave you vulnerable to injury. Make sure your next session is of a different type to the last, so follow a hard speed session with a recovery run, not another speed session . Mix it up to help your body cope with different types of stress.
How we fuel our bodies is likely to be one of the leading reasons for injury. Starting sessions dehydrated and/or overfed but undernourished means your decision making is impaired, your muscle energy reduced and the likelihood of you making technical errors or simply overworking a struggling muscle group to the point of injury is increased. Replenish your glycogen stores after heavy sessions so you’re restocked for the next time out. Try a generous helping of brown rice. Protein is key for repairing muscles; little and often is the key here, so, as a rule, each meal should include a protein source similar in size to a deck of cards. Also remember that being just five per cent dehydrated will impair performance, so keep an eye on your urine and make sure it’s a light-straw colour.
LEAN IN Stretching can help you stay free from injury
The two biggest causes of injury I see in runners are previous injuries and increasing age. We can’t do much about the latter, but we can address the former. So many runners return to training before they have fully recovered. Everything ‘feels’ fine but without the specific treatments, exercises and time required to rehabilitate, that injury could well return within the first three runs, and then be even harder to recover from. So, listen to your physio. E
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53. MUSCLE IMBALANCES This can refer to one muscle group being dominant over another (eg if the hamstrings are overused due to a lack of glute firing, this can lead to pain in the hamstring tendon). Or the imbalance could be between the left and right side of the body, leading to gait changes and potential overuse injuries on the weak side. Some work with a physio may be required, but for starters, check yourself for these imbalances:
Anteriorly rotated shoulders Shoulders rolled forward is a curse of desk-bound lives. Do the IJWYT exercise (lie face down, arms at your side, then use your arms to make the shapes of those letters in order, holding each position for five secs) to improve posture.
Sway-back posture Are you hanging off your hip flexors and appear from the waist up to be leaning backwards? If so, you need to train your deep core to develop strength and straighten up. Your running will improve, too.
Quadratus lumborum (side flexor in your lower back) Bend to each side without leaning forward or back and see how far down your leg the hand slides. If one hand goes much lower than the other, you have an imbalance. Repeat the move to correct the imbalance.
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DR JOSIE PERRY The sport and exercise psychologist works with everyone from beginners to elites via Performance In Mind (permancein mind.co.uk) to boost performance and help to maximise the psychological rewards sport has to offer.
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It is now widely accepted that aerobic exercise, and particularly running, can boost our wellbeing, mental health and cognitive abilities. Research has found that for mental health issues such as stress and anxiety, time in our trainers can be as effective as pills or psychological therapies. And a study that collated the results of 30 trials found it can also reduce symptoms of depression. But run in the right way and it won’t just ease those negative symptoms, it can create a happier you.
When outcomes are our currency, our happiness is tied to something we can’t control. When we focus on mastery – improving technique, form, fitness or effort – we can control our improvements and feel more positive. Not every run feels great in the moment, but spending a few minutes afterwards working out what didn’t make it great, helps you spot patterns and negative triggers to avoid in the future. Running close to water has been linked to better physical and mental wellbeing, partly owing to of the cleaner air but also because the environment encourages a calmer, more meditative state. A University of Exeter study recommends exercising for two hours a week close to water.
mayhem – to your run. For some inspiration, visit runnersworld. com/uk/stravaart. Remember why you really love running. Not external drivers like medals or praise from others, but your internal motivations; the feelings, the flow and the processes that first captured your heart. A study by Barry University in the US found runners enjoyed a run more when it involved seeing animals or beauty, or if they felt solitude and enjoyed changing senses, views and sounds. Running with others doesn’t just make a session fly by, it’s also a relaxed way of making new friends and, social animals that we are, new friendships will boost our mental wellbeing. A study from the University of Kent found seeing smiling faces when exercising increases our endurance by 12 per cent over those who see grumpy faces. Running alongside someone else can be motivating, as their positivity and enjoyment can be contagious. Their presence can help us work harder, make our efforts feel easier and improve our technique as we subconsciously mirror their style. Use your phone camera. No, not
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Research on the benefits of aerobic exercise for those with anxiety, stress or depression prescribes at least 30-35 minutes, three to five days a week for at least 12 weeks. Not literally. Unless that makes you happy. While setting goals and measuring how we are doing against them helps keep us on track, too much racing can sap the joy. Once a week, run tech-free. If you are using tech, try having some fun and getting creative with it. Develop some Strava art to add some fun, focus – and maybe a little
for a running selfie, but to find something special to share with a loved one. This helps us focus on the environment rather than stay wrapped up inside our own head. The discipline required in running can make us selfish, but running for others opens new perspectives and communities. Joining a group like Goodgym can help both ourselves, and those we help, feel better. If you rarely get time for reading, listening to an audio book while running can provide you with some escapism, keep your mind off the numbers and, if you finish on a cliffhanger, it gets you out the door again tomorrow.
If you have an outcome goal (eg a target race time), break it down into smaller chunks. Each time you achieve one of these, you’ll benefit from the buzz of your brain releasing the reward chemical dopamine. When the going gets tough, research has shown that simple act of smiling can make things feel easier. A study from Ulster University found runners who purposely smiled when struggling had lower oxygen consumption and a lower perception of effort. Use the mental space you get when running to notice your thoughts and distance yourself from the negative ones. Instead of ‘I’m a bad runner’ say, ‘I notice I’m thinking I’m a bad runner.’ This reminds us that we are not our thoughts. Follow the mantra of the US Navy Seals, who say, ‘Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.’ Intense focus on how we run increases our chances of getting into a flow state.
When we have been working on a problem, we think we put it aside when we run. We don’t. In the background, our brain continues trying to crack the problem, often successfully. Use this strategically and run when you feel stuck.
Gratitude, the process of giving thanks for what we have, magnifies positive emotions. If you can find a reason to be grateful at the end of each of your runs, you’ll shift your overall perspective to a more joyful one. Enjoy it. FEBRUARY 2020 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK 043
This page, clockwise from top left: Running solo in Lesotho, mile 8; and mile 14; fundraising in Mogadishu; joined by local kids in Niger; 45C at mile 19 in Somalia; flying the flag in Nepal; sunrise at mile 4 in Malawi. Opposite page, clockwise from the top: Crossing the final finish line in Athens with Kevin Webber; suffering in Bangladesh; making friends in Rwanda; enjoying some UN support at mile 11 in Kabul.
T H E
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G L O B E
The inside story of Nick Butter, the first person to run a marathon in every country in the world E
T R O T T E R
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Getting to grips with the local wildlife in Egypt. Probably not the best option as a running buddy.
When 30-year-old Nick Butter crossed the finish line of the Athens Marathon on November 10 last year, it marked the final steps in a journey far beyond 26.2 miles. It was the last leg of his epic Running the World 196 project, which had seen him run a marathon in every country in the world, the first time it had been done. Beginning in Canada on January 6, 2018, he ran 5,419 miles and raised £119,000 (to date) for Prostate Cancer UK. His achievement took 675 days. RW caught up with the man with the world at his feet.
Why a marathon in every country? I was initially looking just for something that would raise money, but that morphed into trying to find something that hadn’t been done, and after a few hours’ research I realised nobody had done this, so I thought, ‘Let’s see if it’s possible.’ It must have been a mammoth planning exercise… From the initial idea it was a two-year journey to get to the start line, getting to grips with the logistics, safety, visas…all of the complications that arise from trying to get around the world very quickly. It was two years of naivety, of hoping things would fall into place, and of being underfunded from the word go. There were so many elements to consider – for example, we wasted time figuring out if we could work around the weather, but then realised it was impossible to do that on a realistic time schedule.
RW: Where did the 196 idea begin? NB: I started running when I was very young, so perhaps something like this was always in me, but really it was when I was running the Marathon des Sables and met a man named Kevin Webber. We chatted and I was struck by how happy he was, and then I learned he had terminal prostate cancer. He didn’t say, ‘You’ve got to do something for Some countries must have posed major prostate cancer,’ but he told me you’ve got to logistical problems? value your life; and he felt most people don’t We realised there were 15 countries that were fully live with intent, they just fumble from one going to be difficult for one reason or another. day to the next assuming there is always going Miles run at night to be another. For Kevin, being given just two Iran was very difficult, as my visa was refused, years to live had made him realise the potential which was also the case with Yemen. Then we in every day and his story gave me the impetus to think, had to find parts of the countries where I didn’t need a visa [to ‘What can I do with my life?’ Then it was a case of thinking slip in]. It took 29 people to get me in and out of Syria safely. what could I do that couples that with doing something for North Korea was another place that was on the difficult Kev and raising some money for Prostate Cancer UK. list, but that was fine, as the Pyongyang Marathon was one of
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WORLD VIEW the official races I ran in. There were 80,000 people in the stadium, which was insane!
In the cities I tried to take in lots of landmarks. You can see an awful lot in 26 miles, especially when you’re running at a pace where you can take things in and chat to people.
Did you consider trying to run an official marathon You encouraged people to join your runs. Who were event in every country? the most memorable people you ran with? Initially, yes, but I quickly realised that even if there were I ran with Paralympian C2 cyclist Alem Mumuni in Accra, official marathons in every country, it would have taken Ghana. He’s an amputee and crutched 10K with me, hopping three of four times as long. I did get involved in some at my running pace, which was inspirational. of the bigger ones, where it made sense in the I ran with nine presidents and over 50 planning and where we thought we could get ambassadors, with recovering alcoholics and media coverage to help the fundraising. I ran cancer patients in Panama and with over 1,000 London, Chicago, the big majors and some people in El Salvador, which was our biggest other fantastic races around the world that just self-organised event, set up with the help of the happened to be at the right time. Coldest marathon ministry of sport and the British ambassador. When there was no official race option, we But I also did quite a lot of runs on my own, tried to arrange our own events. Our first port which had both plusses and challenges. of call was the British embassy, then the ministry of sport in the country and any other interested organisations or clubs Did you have a support crew? locally. Not big official events with numbers and medals, just There was no support crew that travelled with me the whole for people to join me and to have a start/finish and a water time, but my friend Danny joined me for a month in Europe, station or two. That happened in about 60 per cent of the not running, just helping with logistics and keeping me countries, which was incredible, and over 50 British company. Another friend, Andy, joined me for embassies were involved. 19 of the runs spread over the two years. Other than that, it was meeting people in-country. You actually ran more than 196 marathons Access to water was a big issue so I hired on your journey. Why? someone to follow me on a motorbike with I wanted to cover places that are not currently water where it was possible, but it was the recognised as countries by the UN but might Hottest marathon hospitality and kindness of strangers that was be in the future, to future-proof it, if you like. the pinnacle of the trip. And it was often directly correlated So I actually ran 211 marathons in total. to the places where people had the least to give. When I ran out of water in the middle of nowhere in Dominica, a lady How did you decide where to run in each country and who had just filled a bucket from a well shared it with me, what were your highlights? Where I ran was generally based on safety, heat and, crucially, saying, ‘Water is life’, which was a pretty special moment. And where was easiest in terms of travel to and from the countries I drank it because I was so desperately in need of it at the time. on either side. The clock was always ticking. Running along a beach in Oman, a guy About 15-20 per cent of the time I took extra appeared and said, ‘Come on and have dinner time to get to somewhere special to run. There with us,’ and I met his whole family and had was Lake Taupo in New Zealand, and I ran an a shower straight from the run. The kindness entire marathon barefoot on a beach in Bali – around the edges of the running was incredible. my feet were ruined but it was gorgeous. In A lovely lady in Barcelona, who had heard me on Teas drunk Guatemala I ran around a volcano near Antigua; the radio, put me up, then drove me to Andorra Knysna in South Africa was incredible and in Ukraine and supported my run there, then drove me to Nice. It was I ran on a beautiful track just outside Kyiv in foot-deep fresh the people all over the world who made everything amazing. snow and dead silence. The most unusual route was probably around the UN How long did you have to recover between each run? compound in Kabul, but I also ran around the airport On average, I was running three marathons per week, with a grounds in Mogadishu, Somalia, directly under the planes bonus day off every fortnight, so it was run/travel, run/travel, landing. You could almost touch them but it was also right run/day off/travel and repeat, which leaves no time for next to the waves and the beautiful coastline. proper recovery. I often had to run at crazy o’clock in the E
I N T E R V I E W: J O E M AC K I E . P H OTO G R A P H S : D O S P O R T L I V E , @ N I C K B U T T E R R U N
‘I met Nick when we were put together in a tent for the Marathon Des Sables. I was 50 and just happy to be alive. I told him not to wait for a rubbish ‘JUST TO diagnosis to realise you have to do stuff now. I could tell my words had an B E A L I V E impact; a day later he asked if it would be OK if he did something for my favourite charity, Prostate Cancer UK. About a year later, he told me his plan. WAS SO I felt honoured, but as he was about to leave I suddenly felt responsible for S P E C I A L ’ his safety. That feeling didn’t pass until we met up in Athens to run the last one together. I don’t know if Nick will ever really know the difference he has Kevin Webber, made to so many families. People say prostate cancer is a man’s disease but the man who it affects families everywhere. Nick will have saved lives already because inspired Nick’s epic people will have heard him and gone to the doctor; wives and girlfriends will endeavour, gives be making their partners go. Just being with Nick to run the final leg was his take on it emotional. For me, just to be alive was special, as when I waved goodbye to him in January 2018 I did not expect to be here when he finished.’
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morning and then rush to the airport to catch a flight, sleeping on planes with wet clothes in my bag. There were plenty of back-to-back runs, too, so recovery was a challenge.
and with less smoke. People often think that to be carbon neutral you have to plant trees, but you can also help to stop the trees being cut down in the first place.
You must have had some tough times, mentally? How did you stay fuelled and hydrated? The toughest mental part was that I couldn’t hit pause. It As I mentioned, water was a big focus. The average was like being on a ride at a fair where you think it’ll be OK temperature for my runs across the countries in Africa was because it’ll stop in a minute, except that it just did not stop. 44C, so I was getting through around eight litres, which I just had to keep going and keep going – dizzy, exhausted, wasn’t easy to carry or pick up en route. I ditched my running whatever, I just had to keep going. bag because there was no point carrying it if I couldn’t get Part of that stress was knowing that the finish line was a refills. Later, I hit on the strategy of hiring a motorbike rider fixed date and hundreds of people were coming out to run to follow me with water, but this wasn’t always possible. Eating was another problem. I lost 10kg in my first two with me. I couldn’t tell the Athens Marathon to delay the race weeks in Africa through not being able to and in the last four weeks it was 95 per cent eat enough because of the quick schedule, certain I wouldn’t make it, which was so and issues with availability and safety of stressful. The mental stress of lining food. Over the two years, I had around everything up, getting boats at high tide to 35-40 runs with zero food on run day. catch flights, 10 passports, 456 flights going I did take 11 supplements every day – through nearly 600 airports, more than 60 Miles flown multivitamins, probiotics, cod liver oil, cancelled flights and the rerouting, and the amino acids, iron, magnesium – to give my body a chance. constant race against time, was exhausting. My mum prepped a big bag of these pill packets for me, bless her; fortunately, nobody ever questioned them in my luggage. There must have been times when you felt physically drained, though? What sort of pace were you running at? The difficulty of the logistics far outweighed the difficulty of I really wish more people would pay the running, but there were some less attention to pace. I just ran to tough ones. I ran 22 marathons with enjoy it and pace largely depended food poisoning, and a couple with a on who I was running with. If I was kidney infection. Bangladesh was with a good runner and we were one of the hardest because of that having a good chat, the pace infection; it was very hot and humid, Steps on an extraordinary journey sometimes picked up, but other and I lost count of the number of times I’d be running with kids or times I threw up. beginners, or I wasn’t sure of the route, which would slow it We also believe I had a minor heart attack. I have a heart down. The place was also a big factor, of course – in Le Paz, problem – a dodgy bicuspid valve. It’s the kind of thing you Bolivia, the route was mainly steps and at 14,000ft; in Nepal, read about when footballers drop dead on the pitch, and I which was the slowest, I was running just south of the guess another reason to seize the chance to do something Annapurna Circuit and it was really rocky and hilly. like this. It doesn’t bother me too much – every now and again I wake up in the night with my heart racing – but on The project was carbon neutral. How did you make this occasion it was a big pain in my arm and I was struggling that happen? to breathe. I just had to sit down and wait for it to pass. I worked with a company called Natural Capital Partners. I sent them my flight paths and stats, we added a 20 per cent Over 5,000 miles you must have picked up injuries? buffer and they calculated that we needed to offset 45 tonnes I’m generally fortunate with injuries. The worst was an of carbon. Then we worked to do that through four projects Achilles tendon. I was running in Prague with a 16-year-old One was insulating yurts in Mongolia, another was in guy whose dad had driven him over from a nearby city. He Guatemala, providing fuel burners that burn wood slower had never done a marathon before and he was physically
WORLD TRAVELLER 5,419 miles, 675 days, 196 countries. Job done
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WORLD VIEW shaking. I was in pain from the previous one and after 10 miles it went, but I took some Ibuprofen and hobbled the rest. Other than that I picked up a few burns on my legs from motorbike exhausts in cities, and I was hit by a car – just an innocent wing-mirror hit but it shook me and broke my elbow. Were there any times you felt in real danger? Yemen was probably the most scary. I was taken over the border by a guy who was smuggling counterfeit goods at 2am in the morning, and I was in a place with bullet holes in the walls, where I could have been locked up indefinitely without any government support. I hadn’t realised all that until it was actually happening, of course. I was mugged at knifepoint in Lagos market in Nigeria. They surrounded me and kicked me to the floor and I realised there was nowhere to go, but luckily I was with some people and we managed to pay the attackers off in the end. How about the local wildlife? I did have a little accident because of an elephant. I saw a herd while running by the Zambezi River; they weren’t bothered by me but I took my phone out to take a picture and fell over! Then there were dogs...I’ve been chased by dogs all over the world. I was bitten by one in Tunisia and they were a huge problem on some of the Pacific Islands. At the hotel reception in the Marshall Islands, everyone at check-in was handed a key and a stick – that’s how bad it is. I had a pack of at least 20 surround me when I tried to run, which is the kind of thing you don’t plan for because I just didn’t realise it would be a problem. In the end, I had to run 335 laps of a carpark in the rain just to stay clear of the dogs. Kevin then joined you on the final run in Athens. What was that like? Emotional. We had a few tears. It was five years and four days since his diagnosis, when he was told he would only live for two years. So it was very special because he genuinely believed at the time of planning this whole thing that he wouldn’t be there for the end of it, and then he ran over the finish line with me. What do you hope will be the legacy of the project? The legacy I want from not only this project but from my life is to inspire other people to live life to the full, although I hate using that phrase because the words have been used so much that it doesn’t really seem to mean anything anymore. I want to shake people up to live each day with intent and appreciate the enormous privilege we have not only to be alive, but to be alive in a part of the wold where we have such opportunities.
From top: Tending a tea house campfire, Fish Tail Mountain, Nepal; with British military and UN support at mile 26 in Juba, South Sudan; living on the edge, Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa
And what’s next for you? The whole of 2020 will be a speaking tour. I’m booked in to speak at over 100 schools (and I’d like to do more, so if you want me to speak at a school you’re connected to, please email me at email@example.com). I’ll be talking about following your dream and living with intent. The average British person lives for 29,747 days and I’m asking people to think about how many of those days they actually use to the full. Don’t wait for a diagnosis to do something. It doesn’t have to running; it could be anything that makes you happy.
You can donate to Nick’s Running the World 196 fundraising for Prostate Cancer UK at justgiving.com/fundraising/runningtheworld, and read more about Nick, the project and the forthcoming book and documentary at runningtheworld196.com/home, or see @nickbutterrun and nickbutter.com.
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From posture experts telling you to sit up straight at your desk, to coaches urging you to brace your core, we’re forever being told to squeeze, tense and hold. But is this advice doing our muscles and body a disservice?
isit physiotherapist Freddie Murray at his private clinic, Remedy, in plush London hotel The Ned, and you’ll find a man with drooping shoulders and crossed legs, slouching forward as he quizzes his patients, trying to get to the bottom of the aches, niggles, pains or injuries from which they are suffering, It’s surprising – there are few people you’d expect to personify perfect posture better than the man tasked with honing the bodies of elite athletes (Premier League players) and celebrities (Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl credits Murray with transforming his body after a leg injury). But this embodiment of 050 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK FEBRUARY 2020
relaxation is exactly what, according to Murray, you should be looking to emulate for most of your day. ‘Muscles are like light switches – they should be either on or off – and neither state will cause the body problems,’ he says. ‘But if they’re constantly working away in the background – like a dimmer switch – when you’re essentially at rest, they’ll quickly fatigue, leading to increased tension, muscle stiffness and the sensation of pain.’ Indeed, many experts now believe walking around in a state of stress that has you wound tighter than a jack-in-the-box, coupled with training schedules that focus on activating and strengthening muscle groups, is giving rise to an E
TAKE A BRE ATHER Perform this quick test to check if your body is in fight-or-flight mode
Place one hand on your belly and one on your chest and breathe naturally. If the hand on your chest rises first, you’re using your neck and respiratory
muscles to breathe, not your diaphragm. Taking a minute to practise deepbelly breathing is an immediate muscle-relaxing remedy.
ALL WOUND UP This constant stress on our bodies doesn’t just affect our running, it can also spell problems for our health. Musculoskeletal issues, including back pain, neck tightness and upperlimb problems are the second-most common cause of sick days in the UK, costing the nation 30.8 million working days in 2016 alone, according to the Office for National Statistics, and accounting for around one in five of all GP appointments. The issue is that it seems easier to try to correct imbalances or strengthen weak muscles through exercise regimes than tackle the root causes: a fixation on flawless posture, a desire to look as sculpted as possible and a high-stress existence. ‘Society doesn’t advocate people slouching and relaxing their stomachs – it doesn’t make for a good look on Instagram,’ explains Murray. ‘But it’s not a sin to relax, to slouch and release your stomach muscles.’ Letting it all hang out, he insists, is actually normal and healthy, if only 052 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK FEBRUARY 2020
because it encourages the body to switch from the sympathetic nervous system (which powers your fight-or-flight response) to the parasympathetic system, known to conserve energy, slow the heart rate and relax your body. Peter O’Sullivan, professor of musculoskeletal physiotherapy at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, is also attempting to re-educate the masses on how to treat and prevent muscular pain. He believes that a large part of the problem is the belief that strong abs are the holy grail of fitness. He explains that, 15 years ago, almost all the research being published directed experts to prescribe sufferers of persistent back pain with core-strengthening moves. Patients were told to brace their abs and target the transverse abdominis (the deepest of the abdominals) with static planks, which worked for some, but, for many, actually perpetuated the problem. In recent years, O’Sullivan has challenged the evidence and identified the issue. ‘Increased activation of the abdominal muscles increased the activation of the back muscles, creating a bracing effect on the spine,’ explains Murray. As a result, everything seizes up.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS PERFECT POSTURE
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increase in muscle injuries. Think bruxism – the unconscious clenching of the jaw muscles that can lead to chronic pain, tension headaches and dental problems. Or the creeping – often debilitating – lower back pain, tight shoulders and stiff neck that can develop whenever the wheels start coming off at work or home. If only you could flip the switch and turn them all off.
O’Sullivan’s work also sparked a re-evaluation of the importance of ‘good’ posture. ‘To date, no research has found any relationship between posture and musculoskeletal injuries, damage or the development of pain conditions,’ says Dr Eyal Lederman, an osteopath and honorary senior lecturer at University College London’s Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculoskeletal Science. ‘If you’re experiencing pain, what position or posture you sit or stand in is unlikely to be the cause.’ It turns out that there’s no such thing as perfect posture. Indeed, a study published in Manual Therapy, in which 295 physiotherapists were quizzed on what they believed to constitute a neutral spine or good sitting posture, showed that only a sitting posture that ‘matches the natural shape of the spine and appears comfortable and/or relaxed without excessive muscle tone’ was recognised by all as beneficial. Murray adds that, by pushing the idea of bracing your muscles, you are failing to appreciate your body’s natural strength. ‘Most acute back pain tends to get better on its own after six to eight weeks, because the spine is so strong. Sucking in your stomach or holding yourself upright is not necessary – at best – and, at worst, it’s damaging.’ Then there’s the issue of stress and anxiety, whether situational or chronic, which causes the body to tense. Lederman explains that, despite extensive research, the reason tense muscles lead to pain still isn’t known. A potential theory
GIVE IT A REST Use these simple but effective drills to power down when you feel your muscles tightening up is the notion of sensitisation: that pain is created within the central nervous system – in a state of stress itself – and that triggers the illusion that the muscle or muscles residing in the particularly stressed area are painful. ‘Because the experience of pain resides within your nervous system, it’s readily influenced by your emotions and moods,’ says Lederman. ‘This could explain why relaxation, which is also a central nervous system process, can bring about an alleviation of pain.’ BELLY BREATHING
‘Take two mins a few times a day to reset your breath,’ says Freddie Murray. ‘Place a hand above your pubic bone and breathe in through your nose, low into your belly. Watch your
‘Take 20 secs to scan your body for areas of tension,’ says Dr Eyal Lederman. ‘Imagine the area is heavy, soft or melting. Next, feel the weight of your feet on the floor, of your thighs and
hand rise and fall for feedback. Take deep breaths, then move on to lateral thoracic breathing. Put your hand on your lower ribcage and breath deeply into your lower ribcage and back.’
FIGURE OF EIGHT
‘To relieve tension while seated, imagine drawing a box shape with your shoulders,’ says Lynne Robinson. ‘Slide both shoulders forward a little as if along the
‘If you find your neck becoming tense while working at a desk, imagine a figure of eight lying on its side in front of your nose,’ says Robinson. ‘Trace the curves of the eight with your
bottom of two boxes, then up along the front. Slide them back along the top of the boxes, then release them down the back of the boxes. Repeat five times, with your spine lengthened.’
pelvis on the chair, the weight of your torso against the backrest. Feel your arms heavy, your neck soft. Repeat during the day when you feel tension or aches increasing.’
nose, allowing your head to move, too. Start in the middle and finish back in the middle. Go both ways several times. It releases the small muscles at the top of the neck.’
C O R E VA L U E S It’s much better, the experts say, to focus on using the muscles you actually need for movement, rather than over-recruiting all the time. ‘A lot of people think they’re using their deep core muscles correctly, but are, in fact, over-recruiting them,’ explains Lynne Robinson, founder of subscription channel and app Body Control Pilates. ‘To move well, you need muscles working at their ideal length and strength, recruited in the correct order with the right degree of activation by a healthy nervous system. Well-aligned joints will have good range of movement, be stable and have ligaments of a perfect length and tension, and a fascia framework that has just the right amount of give and tautness.’ How to achieve this is a more complicated story. ‘This is the aim of Pilates,’ adds Robinson. ‘You’re training your body to stand, sit and move well with ease, so this becomes automatic, never conscious.’ As for Murray, he’s interested in moving away from the idea of constant muscle activation, and towards a more holistic approach, in the hope of reducing stress. ‘Everyone will experience tight muscles and pain at some point, but now we know the body, including the back, is inherently robust,’ he says. ‘However, if your sleep and exercise are compromised and your stress is elevated, your chances of tightening up and feeling pain increase. I’ve learned to value sleep more than ever – I have a hot bath every evening to relax and I mix up my exercise sessions, because variety of movement is so beneficial. ‘Getting your lifestyle in order is a great tonic for your physical and mental state,’ adds Murray. So, give yourself a break and take a load off. FEBRUARY 2020 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK 053
‘I FEEL AS I ALWAYS FEEL ON A HILLTOP OR MOUNTAINTOP: AS IF IN LOVE, SUSPENDED IN DISBELIEF Running from Edinburgh’s streets to the Pentlands Hills, writer Jonny Muir finds a dream-like realm
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incredulous that I had been all the way down there not very long ago and now I was up here. I have been here before – many, many times. I have stood here in the dazzle of sunshine, in the eye of a storm, in the fearful blackness of a winter’s night, when my headtorch glowed like a star in the sky, and having placed the first marks in virgin snow. Every time is different – a different type of perfection. I can see today. The clarity is exceptional. Winter snow has fallen to the far north and west, and the high summits – tens of miles away – are haloed. Allermuir stands at the centre of the universe: a vision of hill, moor, sea, firth and city. Robert Louis Stevenson, the Edinburgh-born author of Kidnapped and Treasure Island, described the sensation of being in these hills as ‘dreaming’. He was right: to run in high places is to dream. though, this is not a comfortable dream. As I descend Allermuir, the wind fights my every step, numbing my jaw. I drop to a pass and follow a path that is little more than a sheep trod: intermittent, cambering to the left and waterlogged. I move awkwardly, concentrating on where my feet strike the ground. I feel a wave of tiredness and for a few minutes I think about being somewhere other than here. But that is normal, for I am no less happy. I would not come to the hills if running among them was easy. Nothing easy is worth doing. As I turn, like a hand on my back, a benevolent southwesterly propels me up the snaking track to Capelaw, Allermuir’s lower, boggier, less conspicuous neighbour. I imagine myself from above, the lone hill runner, gradually edging closer to the sky, engulfed by the enormity of this 400-million-year-old landscape that what was once the sludge of an ocean floor. I am a speck, literally and metaphorically. A metal post marks the zenith of Capelaw. It is beautifully desolate here – a place that reminds me of rainbows, deep snow and darkness. Today, the low grass stands to attention like the grey stubble of an old man. I pass over the ridge of Capelaw, kicking mud up my legs, and descend to a gloomy pass. I climb again, a three-and-a half minute ascent on a good day, nearer five minutes on this occasion, to regain Allermuir. A pair of sheep stare morosely as I pass, with my hands on my thighs. Over my left shoulder, the sun skims the horizon, setting the western sky on fire. When I run alone in the Pentlands, I rarely pause – and I do not today. A glance at the flecks of flame suffices. It really is not about the view and if I stop, I might break the reverie. I descend. If there is something primeval about hill running, then to run downhill is simply to answer instinct. For early man, running was survival – running to escape, running to eat, running to live and not die. We are designed to run – and perhaps it is running downhill that allies us most closely to our distant ancestors. After the suffocation of moving uphill, my legs are stung into frantic action. Flashing by the heather and grass, I lose height rapidly, first in a succession of leaps, lunges and slides, then in a seemingly uncontrollable set of bounds, arms flailing above my head, embroiled in euphoric terror. Such moments can only be fleeting. One cannot descend a hill forever. Sooner or later we find ourselves in a flat place again, that plain – as author Annie Proulx put it – of ‘ordinary affairs’. I have burst out of that other realm. I am down there again among the metal fences, paint scrawls and pockets of rubbish. I take a final glance behind as I turn left to home. The hills stare back, impassive and resolute. I – the speck – turn my back on them. A minute later, I turn my key in the lock. I am home. For now, it is over, but there will be a tomorrow and the hills will still be there – and part of me is there, too. MAKE NO MISTAKE,
ESEARCHING A BOOK SOME YEARS AGO, I spent several months asking people why they run – or, more specifically, why they choose to take their running to hills and mountains, why they find joy in high places rather than the pavements, roads and parks favoured by the mainstream running community. The responses showed it is not easy to translate the sharpness of sensation and coherence of thought that running triggers once the moment has passed and the fury of adrenaline is becalmed. The shortest and simplest explanation I received, however, seemed to carry most meaning. I was pausing on the summit of Allermuir, a 493m protuberance in the Pentland Hills above Edinburgh, shrouded in one of the oppressive haar fogs that roll over the land from the North Sea. I heard feet first, a light slap-slap on wet grass. A woman, steadily moving uphill to where I stood, loomed out of the mist. Instinctively, I blurted out the question that had been on my lips for months: why? Looking perplexed, she responded with a shrug, but after a moment’s pause, she offered a retort: ‘Why wouldn’t I?’ With that, she left, a ghost disappearing into the gloom of a November afternoon. And that is always the reason: why wouldn’t I? Running out of a city is like leaving a place by train: corridors inside fences, an identikit housing estate, swathes of graffiti, ugly corners of wind-blown litter. For now, the hills are hidden, buried behind the walls of a long alleyway. Quite suddenly, as I cross a road, they mushroom ahead, much closer now, the northern slopes lost in shadow. They are not lofty Cuillin-esque spires; they are not the boulder-strewn wastes of the Cairngorms. They are, I suppose, merely hills. But there is no such thing as a mere hill. And so, as I look up, I slip into another realm.
on a stony track that dissolves into a rutted path and then onto a wedge of grass, angled like the steep, straight climb of a rollercoaster track. As I crest the rise, the wind roars in my ears, dulling my thoughts, like the blur of white noise calming a crying baby. The hills are brown and grey, the purple rugs of summer heather having long been rolled up. Edinburgh, now under my feet, teems, oblivious to the solitary runner moving uphill. I drop into a dip. A momentary lull. Slap-slap-slap-slap. Once over a false summit the wind returns, harder now, clutching at my throat; I inhale the sharp tang of winter and it is as if I have swallowed an ice cube. Hill runners do not run for the view. The woman whose uttered ‘why wouldn’t I?’ was not here that day for the vista. Hill running is not about what you see, it is what you feel. And hills make me feel. I feel as I always feel on a hilltop or mountaintop: as if in love, suspended in disbelief, MY FEET CHEW REASSURINGLY
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Jonny Muir is the author of The Mountains are Calling, the story of hill running in Scotland, and The Heights of Madness, about his 5,000-mile trek around the UK
I L L U S T R AT I O N S : M A R K F R U D D
THE WIND RETURNS, HARDER, CLUTCHING AT MY THROAT
M Y FAVO U R I T E R U N
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OLYMPIC ABORIGINAL AUSTRALIAN ATHLETE CATHY FREEMAN’S 400M GOLD AT THE 2000 OLYMPIC GAMES IN SYDNEY WAS A PERFORMANCE OF BEAUTY, STRENGTH AND SYMBOLIC POWER
MOMENT OF GLORY e an Freem wins th ld go c pi ym Ol 40 0m in Sydney, 20 00
Few moments epitomise grace under pressure so elegantly as Freeman in her green, white and yellow Australian bodysuit surging to Olympic gold. Few athletes have ever carried the heavy weight of symbolism and expectation so lightly around the track. As she put it: ‘To me, running’s like breathing. It’s something that comes really naturally and I’m good at it’ – how effortless she makes it all sound. But to become – and to live with being – an icon who transcends sport, who is cast as bringing together an entire nation and personifying the dawning of a new era? That was anything but effortless. Catherine Astrid Salome Freeman was born in Mackay, Queensland, in 1973, to Cecilia and Norman Freeman, both Aboriginal Australians. Her mother was a cleaner at the local school and a strict disciplinarian. Freeman also had three brothers and an older sister, Anne-Marie, born with cerebral palsy. Their father was a less happy influence – an ex-Rugby League player, he started drinking heavily and behaving violently, and he and Cecilia divorced in 1978. No one could ever accuse Cathy of being slow out of the blocks – she began athletics at the age of just five, under the tuition of her new stepfather, Bruce Barber. From her first race, at eight, she was hooked. One of her primary school teachers raised money for her to attend the state primary school championships and even bought her a pair of running spikes. She ran and ran, and won and won. And so, by the age of 14, when she told her high school careers adviser that her only goal was to win an Olympic medal, it may not have seemed quite so farfetched. By then, she already held national titles in the high jump, the 100m, 200m and 400m. In 1990 she made her first national team, for the 4x100m relay at the Auckland Commonwealth Games. They won, making Freeman the first-ever Aboriginal Commonwealth Games medallist, at the age of just 16. However, just three days later, tragedy struck at home, when Anne-Marie died. At the funeral, Freeman swore that every race she would run from that day would be for her sister. That driving force proved powerful – in 1994 she won double gold at the Victoria Commonwealth Games, Canada – but controversy also followed when she carried both the Australian and Aboriginal flags on her victory lap after the 400m. Australia was divided in its reaction. Some media reports claimed it as a gesture of reconciliation, but with Freeman increasingly aware of her status as a role model for the Aboriginal community, her decision was surely more about representation. At any event, it infuriated the Australia’s Chef de Mission, Arthur Tunstall, who said that if she did it again, she’d be sent home. Freeman ignored him and carried both flags after the 200m, though this time tied together. More improvement followed – she finished fourth in Gothenburg at the 1995 World Championships and won silver at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. The stage seemed perfectly set for a triumphant home Games in 2000. But ominous clouds were gathering. When she was still a schoolgirl, Freeman had met Nick Bideau, then a 30-year-old sports journalist, and a turbulent relationship began. Her family disapproved, and after a few years things started to turn sour. In her autobiography, years later, Freeman revealed that she had suspected Bideau, who was also her manager, of infidelity, and, hacking into his computer, discovered email love letters from Irish runner Sonia O’Sullivan. Distraught at the betrayal, she started drinking and smoking and was only wrenched back onto the straight and narrow by her mother. E FEBRUARY 2020 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK 059
to the Games was anything but smooth, it only ref lected Australia’s own path. I n 19 92 , S yd ney h ad b e en i n competition with Beijing, Istanbul, Manchester and Milan for the 2000 Games. It was far from a unified bid, from a far from unified nation. Since Europeans first arrived on Australian shores, Aboriginal people had seen their land stolen and their cultures systematically destroyed. Though one of the oldest civilisations in the world, with a complex array of over 500 clan groups or nations, with 250 languages, and different and distinctive cultures and beliefs, they were treated as one ‘primitive’ people to be ‘educated’ and erased. In fact, in one sense they were barely treated as people at all – until 1967 they weren’t fully included in the census. While Australia in the early 90s might have wanted to present itself as a modern, multicultural nation, the perfect place to host the Millennium Games, the oppression of Aboriginal peoples was not history, but current affairs. It was only that year, 1992, that the law declaring that pre-European Australia was ‘terra nullius’, or empty land that could legitimately be taken, was finally overturned. Small wonder many felt awarding the Olympics to Sydney would allow Australia’s darkest secrets to be whitewashed. Protesters decided to ta ke action. Campaigners from The Metropolitan Land Council of Sydney, an organisation working on indigenous land rights, sent a dossier to all the rival host cities laying out the mistreatment of Aborigines in Australia. Despite the protests, Sydney pipped Beijing to win the bid. However, protests continued from the award up to the Games, and pressure on Freeman – as one of the country’s few internationally recognisable Aboriginal faces – mounted. The civil rights activist Charles Perkins, a trailblazer and a powerful voice for Aboriginal rights, issued a warning to Olympic tourists: ‘If you want to see burning cars and burning buildings, then come over, enjoy yourselves. It’s “Burn, baby, burn” from now on. We’re going to show to the world that Australia’s got dirty underwear; it might have a clean suit IF FREEMAN’S RUN-UP
and look good on the outside, but there is something awfully wrong on the inside.’ The pressure built on Freeman to boycott the Games, but she resisted: ‘If you take running away from me, you take away a huge part of my life. People say we should be protesting for white people taking indigenous lives away. Why turn around and do the same to one of our own?’ It wasn’t a decision she took lightly; Freeman knew all too well the impact of Australian government policy. She may, by 2000, have been a household name, but she was also the daughter and granddaughter of the Stolen Generation. From 1910 through to the 1960s, thousands of Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their parents and placed in homes in a programme of forced assimilation. It was from her training camp in England, weeks before the Games, that Freeman spoke of her own family story: ‘My grandmother was taken away from her mother because she had fair skin. I was so angry because they [the government] were denying they had done anything wrong, denying that a whole generation was stolen. I’ll never know who my grandfather was, I didn’t know who my great grandmother was, and that can never be replaced. All that pain, it’s very strong and generations have felt it.’ The public lauding of Freeman before the Olympics was supposed to show this history was just that, and firmly in the past. As the sportswriter Matthew Engel wrote before the 2000 final, Freeman ‘has emerged as a symbol of Australia’s edgy transformation from the white, male-dominated imperial outpost that staged the 1956 Olympics to the multicultural melting pot of 2000’. For Freeman, though, this was still her present. So to compete for your nation, to carry the pain of an entire community, and then somehow be responsible for reconciling two halves of a country? Surely this was too much for one person to bear?
‘IF YOU TAKE RUNNING AWAY FROM ME, YOU TAKE AWAY A HUGE PART OF MY LIFE’
Life and times
YET WHEN THE PRES SURE REACHED its peak, it wasn’t Freeman who cracked. Her biggest threat for the 2000 title was France’s Marie-Jose Perec, who had beaten her seven of the nine times they had raced. Any Hollywood writer scripting this rivalry would surely have cast Perec as a haughty representative of the old guard – the privilege of old Europe versus the Aboriginal underdog. In fact, Perec hailed from Basse-Terre, part of the French Caribbean territory of Guadeloupe. Mocked at school as ‘La canne a sucre’ (sugarcane) because of her lanky frame and height, she had been so nervous before her first athletics meeting that she hid in a cupboard. But visiting coaches from France soon spotted her talent, and thus began an illustrious career. Perec, like Freeman, had run in two previous Olympics, winning 400m gold in 1992 in Barcelona, and both the 200m and 400m in Atlanta, in 1996. She was a proven champion, the greatest ever French sprinter; yet, since 1996, she’d been plagued by injuries and self-doubt. She also suffered from Epstein-Barr Syndrome, E
Key moments in the life of Cathy Freeman, on and off the track, from Olympic victory to motherhood
16 Feb, 1973 Born at Slade Point, Mackay, Queensland
1990 Awarded ‘Young
TA K I N G T H E S T R A I N
Australian of the Year’. Becomes the first Aboriginal to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. Days later,
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her older, sister Anne-Marie, dies.
1992 Becomes the first Australian
Aboriginal to represent Australia at the Olympics. She’s pictured above at the London qualifiers.
1994 At the Commonwealth Games in Canada she wins two golds (200m and 400m) and silver in the 4x 100m relay.
1996 Takes silver at the Atlanta Olympics, behind French runner Marie-Jose Perec.
WORDS OF HONOUR Freeman’s tattoo speaks volumes
1997 Wins gold at the World Championships (Perec does not run). Splits with boyfriend and manager Nick Bideau.
1999 Marries Alexander ‘Sandy’ Bodecker
2000 Lights the
Olympic flame and wins Olympic 400m gold at the Sydney Games, in 49.11. She later says she could have run faster.
2003 Separates from Bodecker after three years of marriage, announces retirement from athletics
2007 Forms the Cathy Freeman Foundation
2009 Marries James
Murch, a Melbourne stockbroker
2011 Her daughter, Ruby, is born
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Powering change Other athletes who have helped to shift attitudes
Jesse Owens The 1936 Olympics in Berlin were supposed to be a Nazi-led showcase of Aryan racial supremacy. One man spiked that narrative – the African American Jesse Owens, who won gold in the 100m, 200m, the 4×100m relay and the long jump. One of the greatest ever performances not only on the track, but in terms of what it represented to a watching world.
CENTRE OF ATTRACTION Freeman lights the Olympic flame in Sydney
Evonne Goolagong The young Cathy Freeman did have one sporting role model from the Aboriginal community – the trailblazing Evonne Goolagong, one of the world’s leading tennis players in the 1970s and early 1980s, and winner of 14 Grand Slam titles. Like Freeman, she has worked as an advocate for Aboriginal rights since retiring.
Colin Kaepernick Using sporting fame to highlight social issues is very much still a live issue. In 2016 American football star Colin Kaepernick started the ‘take a knee’ national anthem protest against police brutality and racial inequality in the US. His career has suffered as a result.
Tommie Smith and John Carlos When Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood on the medal podium at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, heads bowed, fists raised in the Black Power salute as the American anthem played, the reaction was swift. The pair were sent home in disgrace and banned from the Games: but their act made them heroes for many and it became an image seared into history.
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VICTORY Freeman takes gold at the Sydney Games
FLYING THE FLAGS Freeman with the Australian and Aboriginal flags
which causes chronic fatigue. The pressure of expectation on her, too, was not only immense but less justified, given her recent struggles. Just before the heats were due to begin, Perec bolted, leaving Sydney with a trail of rumours and hearsay in her wake. She refused to talk to the press, and her only public comment was posted on her website, where she criticised the Australian media, saying, ‘I have the impression that everything has been made up in order to destabilise me. The Games have hardly begun and already I wish they would end because I’m so scared’. Later, she claimed she had been threatened by an unidentified man in her hotel, and, in a more dramatic turn, she was held for several hours by police at Singapore airport after her companion, the US sprinter Anthuan Maybank, allegedly attacked a television cameraman. Speculation was rife as to what was truth and what was paranoia. But judgment on her from her own country was swift and harsh. Philippe Lamblin, President of the French athletics federation, declared: ‘The whole of France is penalised by this decision. She left like a thief. She had the chance to finish in style but instead she’s gone off the rails.’ It’s hard not to feel sorry for Perec. For all Freeman’s unease with her country’s colonialist history, she was taken to heart by the press and by the Australian people in a way that France never did Perec, despite her Olympic golds. And if only Perec had been on form, what a race it could have been. Freeman herself was disappointed. ‘I was really sad’ she said later, ‘I would really have loved to have had the chance to have raced her and, of course, to have beaten her. But I’ll never have that chance and that’s one thing that really gets to me, always.’ Could an in-form Perec have beaten Freeman? Possibly, but that form was long gone, and one suspects Perec knew it. As it turned out, the much-hyped rivalry was more a passing of a baton from a talent on the wane to one at its peak. If anything, Perec’s departure only ratcheted up the pressure on Freeman. Returning to Sydney from her UK base could have left Freeman in no doubt as to her country’s expectations: a colossal poster of her greeted travellers at the airport, another, near Sydney’s Harbour Bridge, took up the entire side of a tower block. For Australia, Freeman was the Games. Freeman herself seemed immune to it all. Even a pending breach-of-contract lawsuit against her by former boyfriend and manager Bideau seemed not to phase her. ‘I had a deadly sense of self-belief,’ she said later. ‘I’d go to another level and say I had a deadly sense of self-conviction…No one could ever get into this sacred space that only I’m allowed in.’ That sacred space cracked only once, claimed Freeman, in the entire run-up to the Games. ‘I had a little panic attack that lasted for three or four seconds — a very private moment — where I thought, “F*** this, I can’t do this, why am I doing this?” It was a momentary glitch, soon shrugged off. To cement her iconic status at the Sydney Games, Freeman was asked to light the Olympic flame at the opening ceremony. For the organisers, the Aboriginal Freeman symbolising the new dawning of a new era was just too powerful an image to resist. And the moment she lit the f lame is truly an extraordinary one. Dressed in a skin-tight white bodysuit she stands in a ring of rising water and flame. She looks like the heroine of a science-fiction film. And then there is the other iconic suit, the one she raced in. It was, perhaps, an odd choice for someone who apparently felt awkward in front of the cameras. For all its head-turning
looks, though, it was more of a costume and, as with so many superhero costumes, it provided a kind of disguise against the watching world. ‘I wore it in Newcastle [Australia] in a 200m and it was raining and cold and windy and I felt like I was flying through the air’ she explained. ‘I was cocooned in my own world, and athletes want to be in that bubble, you are so single-minded. It felt right.’ In that bubble, she cruised through the heats. She eased in with the first round, doing the minimum required – 51.63 seconds. The second round saw another effortless victory, stepping up to 50.31. And in the semi-final, her foot a little harder on the gas, she thrilled the crowd with 50.01, comfortably the fastest over the line. Then, on Monday, September 25, the final. In the stadium were 112,524 people – the largest attendance in Olympic Games history – and every one of them looking at her, and only her. Millions more watched on TV. Pre-race, for all the talk of ‘deadly self-belief’ she looks nervous, puffing her cheeks out, exhaling and pacing. Then, zipping up her suit and pulling the hood over her head, she dives into that bubble. The gun goes and she is off, propelled out of the blocks by a tidal surge from the crowd. Once running, her face relaxes. Her stride is long, she is calmly focussed, executing the plan she and her coach, Peter Fortune, have agreed to perfection. She eases in, takes the first half of the race steady. Coming into the final bend, Jamaica’s Lorraine Graham and Team GB’s Katharine Merry are clearly ahead of her and the crowd quietens a little – surely this isn’t in the script? But then the burners ignite and 100m later Freeman has run through to history, with clear air between her and the others. She crosses the line in 49.11 seconds, and the crowd give full voice to their adoration. It’s impossible to watch without tingles down the spine. Freeman, though, looks not jubilant, but blank. She sinks to her haunches, pulls down her hood and stares into nothing. It takes an age before she seems to react at all. And then, eventually, smiles appear. She bounds off for her lap of honour with twin flags in her hands. Later, after receiving her gold medal, she runs to the stands to present her flowers to her mum. For years afterwards, that delayed reaction was seen as that of a woman stunned by what she’d done – a release of pressure so great she was unable to comprehend it. Few athletes had ever run with a greater burden of expectation, and she’d carried it round that track to gold. The reality, when she finally explained it, was actually almost comically low key: ‘Some of my brain is very business-like,’ she said. ‘I was a bit disappointed about the time…I was surprised nobody forced it, pushed it a bit…no one really, really committed against me. Nobody really believed they could beat me.’
WO R D S : KAT E CA R T E R. P H OTO G R A P H S : G E T T Y I M AG E S , A L A M Y
‘NO ONE COULD EVER GET INTO THIS SACRED PLACE THAT ONLY I’M ALLOWED IN’
LE AV I N G A LE G ACY AFTER THE FEVER PITCH OF THAT NIGHT, Freeman’s remaining career was muted. She didn’t compete at all in 2001, and in 2002 only as part of Australia’s winning relay quartet at the Commonwealth Games. In 2003, she announced her retirement. Her post-athletics career has focussed on education and Aboriginal rights. In 2007 she set up the Cathy Freeman Foundation, to help close the education gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australian children. While she’s made public appearances – she carried the Olympic flag at the opening ceremony of the Salt Lake City winter Olympics in 2002, and was an ambassador for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018 – she has never pursued fame. Her legacy, though, is profound, and something she is only now beginning to comprehend. ‘The whole story has become larger than who I am,’ she said last year. ‘After I went for a swim recently I walked into a cafe…and a gentleman realised who I was. He was maybe in his early 60s and he got really excited, took me into his personal space and said, “We were there, we were there that night”. He insisted on a photograph and his eyes lit up, his whole demeanour changed. ‘When those moments occur it’s like almost watching a magic show. I have tried really hard each day, each year I get older, to really respect the way that people relate to that one race in September in 2000. It is so intense and it is so honest.’ Intensity and honesty seem excellent epithets for Freeman. While she clearly wants to leverage her own success to help other Aboriginal people in their struggle for equality, she is equally clearly uncomfortable with adulation: ‘My life is an invasion, with sincere intent, but sometimes I do think the price is too high.’ Becoming a sporting icon is one thing, becoming a historical one is a different pressure entirely. But if she has struggled to come to terms with that burden, it only reflects her nation, which, for all the progress made, often struggles to reckon with its past.
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P H OTO G R A P H : G E T T Y I M AG E S
Make a running plan for 2020........p66 Resolution: I will run better............p70 Jo Pavey on the foam roller............p72 Smart foods for the new year.........p73 Rate your perceived exertion......p74
REACH your PERSONAL BEST
FOOD FROM THE FUTURE Biohacking, adaptogens, plant milks, supercharged water… we’ve come a long way since the days of meat and two veg
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It’s time to make a plan for 2020, but you have to be honest with yourself
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Why do it? As runners and coaches, we tend to look for a perfect training plan or system that will lead to predictable and repeatable results. We download a training plan that has worked for someone else, or replicate sessions others have done and wonder why it doesn’t work for us. Unfortunately, sport isn’t always simple. For your training to work properly, it must be realistic in terms of your current level of fitness and needs to be balanced with your lifestyle and ability to recover. Spending time assessing your
strengths and areas for development can help in several ways: A DOSE OF REALISM. It’s hard to set
challenging but realistic goals for your running year unless you know where you are now. Gunning for a sub-40-minute 10K or a four-hour marathon? We all love round numbers but is it achievable? A TAILORED PLAN. A great training plan
isn’t just about preparing you for the demands of your race. A plan that works is a bridge that guides you from where you are now to being able to meet those demands. The
P H OTO G R A P H : G E T T Y I M AG E S
‘KNOW THYSELF’ – it’s a phase that sits nicely on a meme with a misty mountain scene or an image of someone doing yoga on a deserted beach. As a coach, though, working with runners to help them better understand themselves, their lifestyle, body and mindset is at the heart of establishing their path to progress. But how many of us spend the time considering our own strengths and areas for development? As we start a new running year, consider using some simple, practical tools and tests to give you the vital information you need to shape and tailor your training and lifestyle to make big strides in 2020.
This is more than just a meditative process – self-assessment and feedback tools allow you to turn selfreflection into measurable actions.
How to do it First off, you need to set a baseline. Spend time considering a range of areas that affect performance, from physical fitness to psychology, nutrition to lifestyle. Score yourself from 0-10 in each of the areas and then separately score how important you feel each area is. When doing this, keep these guidelines in mind: VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY. It is always best to rely on simple, repeatable and common-sense approaches to measuring and self-assessment. Anyone who has a GPS watch with a VO2 max or race-time predictor knows that they aren’t always the most reliable way to judge your fitness or progression. KEEP IT REAL. There is no point focusing
on the finer details if you don’t have the broad structure of common-sense training, enjoyment, good recovery and healthy diet in place, so focus your assessment on the ‘big’ areas.
SET PRIORITIES Decide what’s important for you
‘checking-in’ process is essential to tailoring your training plan to make it work for you. FOCUSING ON WHAT COUNTS. We live busy lives and with limited time to run, and work on strength training and recovery strategies, we can’t do everything. Taking time to assess where you are will allow you to make sound decisions about the areas you need to work at. GROWTH MINDSET. In December’s column
I wrote about the benefits of a ‘growth mindset’, the ability to improve through self-reflection.
NUMBERS AND NARRATIVE. Runners now have data available instantly on the run and a full breakdown within seconds of finishing. While GPS and heart-rate data can be useful, it is just as important to look beyond the numbers. Consider how you feel as much as what your GPS says. USE EXPERTS. Get the advice of experts
CONSIDER HOW YOU FEEL AS MUCH AS WHAT YOUR GPS IS TELLING YOU
who can help advise you of your current strengths and areas for development. A good sports physio can give you an MOT and advise on conditioning; a dietitian or nutritionist can assess your fueling and recovery habits; and a sports psychologist can help you with mental skills training. See the diagram on p68 for an example of a few areas to consider. The spreadsheet I use with athletes has over 65 areas but it’s often best to keep it simple and focus on those that make the biggest difference. E FEBRUARY 2020 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK 067
Get SMART Once you have your baseline in place, pick four or five of areas where there is a big difference between where you are now and how important that factor is. For each area, develop an action plan outlining where you want to get to, how you are going to get there and how you’re going to measure your progress. Keep your goals SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Here’s an example: ‘I will improve the consistency of my sleep by the end of March. I will do this with a consistent pre-bed routine, getting to bed by 10pm, not using blue-lightemitting devices, or drinking alcohol or caffeine in the 90 minutes before sleep. I’ll measure my progress using a sleep-tracking app.’ There are many ways to monitor yourself (see right for some key ones). The feedback can help ensure you remain on track but progress is rarely linear; developing endurance, self-confidence or nutrition strategies can take time to bear fruit, so look for
A TRAINING DIARY IS ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL SELF-ASSESSMENT TOOLS A RUNNER HAS
trends over time and try not to obsess over every change you notice. Every few months, reassess your baseline and set new plans and SMART goals.
Sleep Sleep is your most powerful recovery tool. But it’s important to not obsess over sleep data. If you know you’re sleeping well, with a good pattern of sleep and wake cycles, and you regularly wake feeling refreshed, that’s enough. If you feel your sleep is inconsistent, broken and you never feel you get enough, tracking how changes to your routine affect your sleep can be useful. TRY THIS: Sleep-tracking devices are increasingly accurate, but selfscoring the consistency and quality of sleep on a scale of 0-5 can be just as effective. How many hours did you sleep? How consistent was your sleep? How energised do you feel?
powerful self-assessment tools a runner has. It provides a snapshot of you on any given day and builds up a picture of your physical and psychological health over time. TRY THIS: Online tools such as Strava are great but a narrative training diary, which collects how you feel as well as the more conventional training metrics, is more powerful. A good training diary is your best self-reflection tool.
Training diary Racing A training diary is one of the most The best way to measure progress if you are racing is to race! No heartrate monitor, lab test or self-scored chart can encompass all the physical and psychological stresses of racing. TRY THIS: Every three to four weeks, aim to run a time trial that is easy to repeat and that relates to the event you’re training for. For example, if you’re looking to race over 5K or 10K, a regular parkrun on the same course can be a great option.
WHERE YOU ARE AND WHERE YOU WANT TO BE 10 9 8
Heart-rate (HR) and perceived effort tests
4 3 2
AVA I L A B L E TRAINING TIME
1 0 1 2 3 4
STRESS L E V E LS
6 7 8
Heart-rate variability (HRV)
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Heart-rate monitors or self-assessed rates of perceived exertion can be a guide to the effort you are putting in on a training session and can be used to monitor trends in your fitness. TRY THIS: If you are training for a marathon, one option is to do a 60-minute run at goal marathon pace and see if your perceived effort or HR drops as the weeks go by. Measuring your effort on a scale of 0-10 is an effective way of judging performance and progression (see p74 for more on this).
M E N TA L S T R E N G T H
KEY FOCUS AREAS
HRV measures the variation in the time interval between consecutive heartbeats. A healthy heart does not ‘tick’ evenly; in fact, an increased heart-rate variability is a sign of good
P H OTO G R A P H S : G E T T Y I M AG E S
THE FLEX LEVEL Good flexibility can improve form
health and a decrease in HRV over a sustained period can be a warning sign of overtraining or sickness. TRY THIS: Many newer GPS devices take HRV readings and there are apps you can download that provide similar data. Note your HRV each morning and monitor trends around your training to ensure that your recovery is progressing well.
get from the wall without your heel coming off the floor and with the knee still in line with your foot. Measure from your big toe to the wall to assess your calf flexibility. • Less than 5cm: Poor • 5-10cm: Fair • >10cm: Good
There are many simple tests that can measure pure strength and strength endurance, to see if your conditioning work is paying dividends. TRY THIS: A hamstring-strength endurance test can measure one of the most important muscle groups in the running gait. Lie on your back with one heel resting on a chair and the other raised in the air. At a rate of roughly every two seconds, raise up into a bridge position and drop
Not all runners needs to increase their flexibility, but simple tests track changes and monitor warning signs. TRY THIS: The knee-to-wall test is easy. Stand facing a wall with the toes and knee of one leg in contact with it, foot flat on the floor. Gradually take your foot away from the wall but keep your knee in contact. Measure the furthest point you can
back to the mat. See how many you can do while keeping your form. • <20: Needs work • 20-30: Fair • >30: Good
Resting heart rate (RHR) As you get fitter, your heart gets bigger and stronger, so it can pump more blood, so, over time, your resting heart rate should drop. TRY THIS: Taking your pulse each morning can show long-term improvements in fitness but a shortterm increase in RHR can be a sign of tiredness or illness. Endurance coach Tom Craggs has an MSc in performance coaching and works on the Athletics Academy of Sporting Excellence Programme for British Athletics.
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RESOLVE TO BE A BETTER RUNNER
The start of a new year is an ideal time to set a challenge, says sports medicine doctor and fitness instructor Jordan Metzl AS THE CALENDAR PAGE FLIPS to January first, many Britons will make a new
year’s resolution. A large number of these post-Christmas promises will include being more active in the coming year – to move more, sit less, use the stairs rather than the lift, and maybe take up a sport. You, on the other hand, probably won’t feel the desire to pledge more movement. You’re already logging double-digit miles each week. You’re active most days – if not, every day. Sure, increased fitness is the most common resolution among the 070 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK FEBRUARY 2020
general population, but doesn’t that mean that we, as motivated runners, can get a pass on the tradition? When it comes to fitness, we’ve already proven we’re up to the task. But if you look at the science, the answer is clear: runners can and will benefit from making a new year’s resolution. The trick is doing it the right way. While many of us daydream about breaking the tape, the truth is that very few of us this will ever finish on the podium. Does that mean we should all quit? No way. But setting a goal that is challenging yet attainable can improve your performance, suggests a study published in the Journal of Economic Psychology. Also, people who make new year’s resolutions are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals than those who
TRAINING battle; the other half is sticking with it in the long run (literally). Here are four essential components that can keep you on track:
Having fun What makes you smile? Does racing light your fire? Or maybe it’s a solo jaunt on empty roads in the quiet countryside? Whatever it is, pinpoint what makes you happy and add more of it to your routine. A 2017 study found runners who smiled during exercise had a lower perceived rate of exertion than those who did not. Translation: smiling makes running feel easier.
THE SOCIAL ASPECT
Motivation comes in many forms, so try different types of social running to see what works
Forming a community
The go-to run buddy
Although heading off to run solo is far better than sitting on the sofa, those who become involved with community-based fitness programmes have been shown to exercise more consistently. Grab a friend, join your local running group or show up to a track night. Doing so will mean you’re much more likely to escape the sofa.
An exclusive running pal is great – until he or she gets injured or goes on holiday. That’s why having multiple training buddies is smart if you love partner runs. You might have a chatty partner for long, slow runs and a performance-focused friend for speedwork days.
P H OTO G R A P H S : G E T T Y I M AG E S
FIRM RESOLVE Make the most of the new year
don’t, says Dr John C. Norcross, a professor of psychology who has studied the determination of those who makes resolutions. A specific goal, such as a Boston Marathon qualifying time or a London Marathon good-for-age time, for example, is key, as additional research shows gunning for a specific finish time that’s just beyond your expected time can push you to run faster. Plus, the goal itself helps quiet the doubts that can creep into your mind. Young elite athletes who attended an hour-long goal-setting session for 12 weeks had less fear of failure than those who didn’t, according to a study in the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. My take: set specific goals that are tough but doable. Intention is half the
Whether it’s a mile or a marathon, we’ve already covered how setting a goal can inject new energy into your running life. But committing to a specific event six months in the future, preferably one slightly outside your comfort zone, will better help you maintain focus. Look for a race in summer that inspires you (and maybe even scares you a bit). If all that does not convince you, we should keep at this running thing all year because it is among the most effective forms of preventive medicine. Studies show runners experience decreased risks of heart disease, depression and even certain types of cancer compared with lessactive people. Although landing a podium position someday would be a nice perk, the real benefit from running lies in the medicine of consistent movement, day after day, year after year.
Feeling positive vibes only No matter your age, the key to staying positive about running is to look ahead, not behind. The truth is: I was faster five years ago than I am today, and even faster five years before that. Looking ahead, I’m lucky to be where I am today. Appreciate what your body and mind can do right now.
The fun-run crew Running with a group helps you stay interested by making running a social experience. First, search for the options you have in your area. Then see which groups match your goals – such as how often they meet or if there are perks, such as postrun drinks.
The coached club If you’re looking for more structure than fun, a coached club might suit. ‘The misconception is that clubs are only for good runners. Actually, clubs are how runners get better,’ says Steve Vaitones, managing director of USA Track & Field New England.
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I sprained my ankle three years ago. How can I strengthen it before I start marathon training?
BY JO PAVEY
ROLL YOUR OWN The foam roller is your friend, though you may not always think so
Jo’s tip: Timeout tactics
Should I use the foam roller before or after running? Or both? If used in the right way, foam rolling can be a valuable addition to your routine both before and after running. As part of your warm-up, it can help increase blood flow to the muscles and improve flexibility. But it’s best to spend only a short amount of time on the roller and to use only light pressure with it. You want to have your muscles ready for exercise but avoid too much tissue lengthening associated with intense static stretching – it’s thought this can reduce muscle strength and power, and affect performance. You’ll be better prepared to run if you prioritise dynamic movements in your warm-up, taking your muscles through a good range of movement in an active way. After your run, your muscles and fascia – the connective tissue that surrounds the 072 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK FEBRUARY 2020
muscles – have a tendency to tighten. So using a foam roller provides a useful type of self-massage or self-myofascial release to work on restrictions in the fascia and muscles. You can control the pressure through your muscles by varying how much of your body weight you put through the roller. After running, spend longer foam rolling, putting more of your body weight through the roller to massage and lengthen those tight muscles. A foam-rolling session is also useful between your runs as part of an injuryprevention strategy. This is a good time to work harder on releasing specific trigger point areas where the muscle fibres and fascia are particularly tight. This will encourage better flexibility and freedom of movement when you’re running.
A foam-rolling session can also provide a core and conditioning workout. For a routine involving all the muscle groups, you need to hold your body weight in various positions and engage your core. I like the BackBaller model, as the rollers are fixed; this allows me to focus on the movement rather than trying to keep the roller in position.
Try heel raises – stand facing a wall (you can touch it for balance) and gently rise up onto the toes of one foot, and work up to doing 10-15. (Do it on both ankles.) Progress to using a step and letting your heels drop lower. Resistanceband exercises are great for strengthening, too. By attaching the band to a fixed point, you can use the band to provide resistance in all planes of motion – dorsiflexion, inversion (turning the foot inwards) and eversion (turning the foot outwards). Barefoot walking – with an emphasis on rising onto your toes – is a good functional exercise; for a more advanced exercise try (cautiously) hopping on one leg. To condition your ankle and help prevent future sprains, you need to work on range of motion, and proprioception, which is the ability to have an awareness of joint position. This can be worked on by practising movements while standing on one leg, or by using a thick piece of foam or a wobble board. I’m new to strength work. What should I do? Concentrate on functional exercises using your body weight (though you will need weights for some moves). Functional movements develop coordination, balance and strength, so they promote good running form and help prevent injury. Try single-leg squats, walking lunges, step-ups, hip bridges and clamshells. For the upper body, pressups and bent-over rows (using dumbbells) are good. Try 10 reps of each exercise on each side and build up to 15-20. A strength-and-conditioning programme should also include core-stability work. Try the plank, as well as crunches done slowly, feet flat on the floor.
P H OTO G R A P H S : G E T T Y I M AG E S . * P L E A S E N OT E : J O PAV E Y I S U N A B L E TO R E S P O N D D I R E C T LY TO Q U E R I E S
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR RESIDENT OLYMPIAN
NUTRITION ADVICE FOR HEALTHY, HUNGRY RUNNERS
P H OTO G R A P H S : G E T T Y I M AG E S . T H I S I N F O R M AT I O N I S N OT I N T E N D E D TO B E A S U B S T I T U T E F O R P R O F E S S I O N A L M E D I C A L A DV I C E , D I AG N O S I S O R T R E AT M E N T. A LWAYS S E E K T H E A DV I C E O F YO U R G P W I T H A N Y Q U E S T I O N S YO U M AY H AV E R E G A R D I N G A M E D I CA L CO N D I T I O N .
BY KIM PEARSON
mental performance and ease mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Ashwagandha, a herbal adaptogen, has been shown to lower cortisol levels, helping to reduce the impact of stress on the body. It can also increase energy levels and boost concentration. TRY: Pukka’s Wholistic Ashwagandha, £16.95 for 30 capsules, pukkaherbs.com
ARE YOU WHAT YOU EAT? Most of us could make healthier choices
8 NUTRITION TRENDS FOR 2020 How to eat cleaner and smarter this year
Ensure you are mentally stronger going into your long-distance runs by eating foods that support cognitive function, such as those rich in omega-3 (oily fish), and anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich foods (brightly coloured fruit and veg). Supplementing with the amino acid tyrosine supports production of the neurotransmitters noradrenaline and dopamine, which can help boost motivation.
We’ve come a long way since the 5:2 diet went global; there’s now a fasting regime to suit everyone. One of the most popular is the ‘16:8’, which involves eating all your meals in an eight-hour window and fasting for the remaining 16. This is handy if you’re trying to lose weight as part of your training, but make sure you schedule your runs inside the eight-hour window to allow for adequate postrun refuelling for recovery.
cut out all animal products, consider the potential nutrient deficiencies in plant-only diets. It can be harder to consume optimal levels of nutrients, such as iron and B12, essential for energy production. That said, we could all benefit from cutting out processed meat and choosing organic, free range options. Whether it’s adopting meat-free Monday or simply adding more plant protein to your diet in the form of beans, lentils and quinoa, introducing more variety is rarely a bad thing.
Plant milks will become even more popular as we move into the new decade, with options such as almond, soy, rice, oat, coconut, cashew, hazelnut, hemp and even pea milk increasingly available. While many of these plant milks have health benefits (omega-3 in hemp milk, for example), the protein content is often lower than in cow’s milk, meaning they aren’t a like-for-like recovery replacement. TRY: Plenish Organic Oat Milk, £2.75 for 1L, milkandmore.co.uk
The vegan movement is exploding, but before you
Adaptogens can be used to combat fatigue, enhance
It’s time to clean up your pre-run and postrun fuel
The 16:8 approach
game for 2020, so forget gels and drinks full of synthetic additives; instead, opt for DIY options (think apple and peanut butter pots or egg and spinach combos for a postrun protein hit), or if you want a complete racefuel programme with zero effort, try natural brands such as Tailwind (tailwindnutrition.co.uk).
Biohacking Biohacking is all about getting to know the needs of your body, and tailoring your diet and supplements to increase performance and reduce your risk of illness. It is now easier than ever to get to know your body’s specific needs and adjust your nutrition accordingly to boost your running performance. Start the process with an at-home gut microbiome test from atlasbiomed.com and a blood test from thriva.co.
Supercharged water Staying hydrated is key to your running performance but drinking pint after pint of water is a challenge for many people. This year, try fruit- or vegetableinfusing water bottles, to which you can add lime, lemon, cucumber, mint or any number of other ingredients, or try a vitamin-packed ‘microdrink’ such as Waterdrop cubes (en.waterdrop.com), which you can drop into your water to add fruit and plant extracts, with no sugar.
Kim Pearson is a qualified nutritionist, with more than 10 years’ experience. She loves running and pasta in equal measure. kim-pearson.com; @kimmypearson
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WHAT IS RPE AND WHY SHOULD YOU TRACK IT? Quantifying how hard your workouts feel can help you get more from your running
THINK ABOUT THE LAST TIME you did a long, hard run: was there a point where you felt you were going to collapse with the effort? Or die from it? If you’re reading this, you survived (congrats!) – and you probably finished the run, and perhaps walked another mile or so later that day to get beer or pizza. Or both. That’s because exhaustion doesn’t necessarily come from physical limits (such as glycogen depletion or dehydration), explains coach and author Matthew Fitzgerald in his book How Bad Do You Want It? (VeloPress). Exhaustion is more of a psychological barrier, according to research by professor of sports science Samuele Marcora, who studies the psychobiology of endurance performance. You hit the wall when you reach the maximum level of perceived effort you’re mentally willing to endure. If you’ve ever had a treadmill-class instructor yell at you about running at an effort of seven out of 10, you know what a rate of perceived effort or rate of perceived exertion (RPE) is. But is it something you proactively track? It should be. 074 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK FEBRUARY 2020
What exactly is RPE? Your rate of perceived exertion is a subjective assessment of how physically and mentally difficult an exercise is for you. ‘It’s not a number that you should be using in isolation to dictate a training plan, but it is something that can better inform your training so you can be more efficient and optimise your workouts,’ says Megan Roche, an athlete and endurance coach, and a clinical researcher at Stanford University, US. Since the 1960s, sports scientists and coaches have used a scale ranging from 0 to 10 to subjectively assess effort, with 0 being no exertion and 10 being the highest level. Though it is admittedly rather arbitrary, it
does give a runner a way to track performance without fancy tech and, at the same time, considering the many other variables affecting that performance. Yes, some sports watches and activity trackers are incorporating fancy new technology to track your training load, but ‘RPE clues you in to your body’s actual response to what you’re doing’, says exercise physiologist Polly de Mille. This is important because of the crucial role perception of effort plays in running. Training helps your body get fitter, but it also helps your brain become more comfortable with higher levels of perceived effort, writes Fitzgerald in his book. In other words, you have to train your brain to be uncomfortable
HOW TO USE RPE
just as much, if not more, than you train your body. ‘By training with your RPE in mind, you extend your ability to withstand that hard effort,’ says de Mille. When those higher levels of perceived effort become easier, that’s when you can start to push your running performance to the next level.
How RPE helps you
WO R D S : AS H L E Y M AT E O. P H OTO G R A P H : G E T T Y I M AG E S
EXERT YOURSELF Find your limits, then find new ones
‘RPE IS SOMETHING THAT CAN BETTER INFORM YOUR TRAINING SO YOU CAN BE MORE EFFICIENT’
While a coach probably will not prescribe a training programme based on RPEs, you should be paying attention to your RPE while you run. That’s because running workouts shouldn’t be one-intensity-fits-all. Slower, easier runs serve as aerobic conditioning or recovery, while harder speedwork and intervals push your maximum heart rate and ability to sustain higher intensities for longer. The more you take note of your effort level, the better you’ll be at accurately gauging it, says de Mille. And the better you can gauge your intensity, the more you can push yourself and the less likely you are to push yourself too hard. That has two benefits: first, it means that you are unlikely to fall into the moderate-intensity trap, that comfortably efficient pace that inevitably leads to a rut because you’re never doing low- or high-intensity workouts – you’re just...running. And if you have been following a training plan, but the same workouts are starting to feel harder, ‘that pattern of increased exertion is actually a sign that you are overtraining,’ says Roche. ‘If you’re tracking that, you can identify where it started and adjust your future training.’ Like pace and heart rate, RPE is just a tool in a runner’s arsenal – one that reminds you to trust your body and not just swear by high-tech devices. ‘Data, especially data in running, can be imperfect, which can negatively impact the course of your run,’ says Roche. ‘I really like athletes to run by feel because I think that it prevents judgments and provides a more holistic look at a run.’ Because solid training is about the big picture – not just the data points on your activity tracker.
Most runners use metrics such as pace and/or heart rate to determine effort ahead of time. But setting an RPE for a workout can help you account for the effect external factors (eg heat, stress) have on performance. Any such stressor will make your body work harder than normal to hit your RPE. In some cases, that could help you learn how to be comfortable at an uncomfortable pace; in other situations, you may have to adjust your workout to avoid overdoing it. But assessing RPE is highly subjective. To help runners better track how intensely they worked out, Strava introduced a perceivedexertion feature. The effort zones in the app break down like this: • Easy (1-3) Could talk normally, breathing naturally, felt very comfortable. • Moderate (4-6) Could talk in short spurts,
breathing more laboured, within your comfort zone but working. • Hard (7-9) Could barely talk, breathing heavily, outside your comfort one. • Max effort (10) At your limit or past it, gasping for breath, couldn’t talk. If all these descriptions sound familiar, it’s because they are often used to outline heart-rate zones. So how do these RPE zones translate to running workouts? ‘Levels one to three should feel like a recovery effort,’ says Roche. ‘Four to six might be a little more strenuous, like a tempo or threshold run, and then seven to 10 are working into those highintensity interval and speed efforts.’ But because the 0-10 scale is subjective, it’s important to figure out what feels ‘easy’ and ‘hard’ to you, not what someone else deems so.
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GIVE YOURSELF the EDGE
BEST IN TEST 2020
WHAT SUPP? We tried over 100 sports nutrition supplements to find the options that will help you perform at your best – every time
PR E -RU N
Huel Ready-To-Drink £2.79 per bottle | uk.huel.com
training or run-commuting, early starts create a breakfast conundrum. Huel’s total-nutrition meal-in-a-bottle is one answer. No fussy food prep, 26 essential vitamins and minerals, 34g of carbohydrate, plus protein, fat, fibre and phytonutrients – and it’s liquid, so it won’t leave you carrying a food baby. This is perfect portable fuelling en route to early race starts. E WHETHER YOU’RE RACING,
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Motion Nutrition Energise Goji And Acai Pre-Workout
Quaker Porridge To Go
Ancient + Brave True MCT Oil
£24.99 for 12 sachets (£2.08 per serving)
£1 for 2 bars (50p per bar)
£29 for 500ml (34p per serving)
PRE-WORKOUT SHAKES aren’t just for Crossfit fans. This plant-based, vegan-friendly powder combines Matcha green tea and guarana for a jitter-free, steady boost in energy and focus; raw beetroot to improve circulation; and antioxidant-rich Lucuma, Sea Buckthorn and maca to help protect the body from damage during tough runs.
PORRIDGE IS AS MUCH a part of running as wonky race numbers and chafing. But if there’s no time to knock up your steaming oats, here’s the next-best option. Each bar packs 45g of carbs and a healthy portion of oats. What seals the deal is that they can be warmed up in the microwave and eaten hot ahead of cold winter miles.
MCT STANDS FOR MEDIUM CHAIN TRIGLYCERIDES , good fats that offer general health benefits: they help you burn fat as fuel during exercise, as well as lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The oil in this blend has been sourced from coconuts, so it’s veganfriendly, contains no nasties and has a mild taste. Mix into your smoothie or juice.
morning glory Three tips for pre-race fuelling that will help you stay the course Timely top-up Top up your tank 2-4 hours before you race. Choose a carb-rich breakfast with around 50-150g of additional carbs from good sources of glucose and fructose, to promote rapid accumulation of liver glycogen.
OTE Anytime Bars
Sur AltRed Betalains
£1.30 per bar
£60 (inc shipping) for 30 capsules
(£2.00 per serving) | sur.co
WITH 36G OF glycogen-tank-topping carbs in each crumbly flapjack bar, these make a great go-to when you can’t get a proper meal before you run. They are much less dense than a Clif or a Tribe bar, with energy from real fruit and gluten-free oats; and there are five appealing flavours, including banana, apple and cinnamon, caramel and cherry.
BEETROOT HAS LONG been hailed as a natural performance enhancer and studies suggest it’s the phytonutrient betalains – which makes them red – that helps increase efficiency, reduce muscle damage and aid recovery. Taken before and during runs, AltRed capsules deliver 17 times more bioavailable betalains than most beet juices and powders.
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Gel well Taking 40g of carbs in the form of gels 15-20 minutes before a marathon could help boost performance. In one small study of runners at the
Copenhagen Marathon, those who took in the carbs finished, on average, 10 minutes faster than those who didn’t. Pull the trigger Triggering the pre-race poo while you’re in the comfort of home is a race-day holy grail. Drinking a hot drink (coffee or tea) can help. It acts as a vasodilator, widening blood vessels in the digestive system, increasing blood flow and firing up GI activity.
GEAR H Y DR AT ION
SiS Go Electrolyte
£4.99 for 24 tabs (21p per serving)
£24 for 18 sachets (£1.33 per serving)
£15.95 for 20 sticks (80p per serving)
BASED ON A WORLD Health Organization oralrehydration formula, O.R.S tabs contain three key electrolytes – 193mg of potassium, 350mg of chloride and 277mg of sodium. This is combined with just enough glucose to help the body absorb the salts and create a fast-hydrating hypotonic drink when mixed in 200ml of water.
A GREAT SINGLE SOLUTION for pre-hydration and pre-fuelling, these 40g packs deliver 36g of carbs, 27mg of calcium, 5mg of magnesium and 60mg of potassium in a hypertonic drink. The mix of energy and essential salts makes them useful during events where you can carry a bottle, drink steadily and there’s less of a need to take on loads of water quickly.
YOU CAN BUY SOS Electrolyte Mix in bulk tubs but these portable 5g stick packs are a great option for on-the-fly drinks-bottle refills. The powder dissolves quicker than classic effervescent tabs, won’t crumble in your pocket and each serving contains 330mg sodium, 190mg potassium, and magnesium and zinc. Perfect for fast hydration. E
BEST IN TEST 2020
Veloforte Attivo, Vivo & Solo
Secret Training Stealth Big Energy
£5.50 for 3 sachets (£1.83 per serving)
£9.99 for 8 sachets (£1.25 per serving)
£17.99 for 7 servings (£2.57 per serving)
THE CLEANEST, FRESHEST hydration solution we tried, Veloforte’s freeze-dried real-fruit powders get their electrolyte punch from dried coconut water and Himalayan pink salt. Solo provides straight electrolyte replacement, while Vivo has 22g of carbs for an energy kick and Attivo amplifies that with 75mg of natural caffeine. Great flavours, too.
PRECISION HYDRATION’S range of fizzy tabs, hypotonic formula powders and salt pills can be combined to create a hydration plan for before, during and after a race, optimised for the event and conditions. Before you buy, you can fill out a questionnaire or take a simple sweat test to analyse your salt-loss levels and create a more personalised hydration strategy.
IDEAL FOR RUNS over two hours; every 500ml mix of this isotonic energy solution contains 94g of dual-source carbs from a mix of maltodextrin and fructose, to maximise the quantity of carbs the body can absorb in an hour. There’s a bump of electrolytes to aid hydration, and the thinner consistency and fresh watermelon flavour doesn’t linger. E
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M I DRU N F U E L
OTE Super Carbs
Tribal Energy Smoothies
Maurten Gel 100 Caffeine 100
£27.50 for 10 servings (£2.75 per serving)
£9.99 for 6 pouches (£1.66 per serving)
£42 for 12 gels (£3.50 per gel)
ANOTHER DUAL-FUEL COMBO of maltodextrin and fructose for increased hourly energy uptake, OTE’s formula packs in 80g of carbs per 500ml. It turns to gel in the stomach, transporting the carbs so they’re steadily absorbed through the intestine, reducing the risk of tummy troubles that can come with sports drinks that linger higher up in the gut.
THESE FRUIT Y AND fresh smoothies are great for pre-fuelling and long runs. The Morello Cherry and Baobab is delicious; it packs 34g of carbs, Baobab provides a hit of Vitamin C that can help support energy production, and there’s a hit of electrolytes from sea salt to support hydration. They’re resealable too, so you don’t have smash them all in one go.
MAURTEN’S NEW GELS have the same texture as the non-caffeine variety (a bit like the inside of a jelly baby but softer) and they also pack a 100mg caffeine kick – that’s 1.5 espressos – to help reduce the perception of effort. Each gel provides 25g of carbs from a blend of fructose and glucose sugars to maximise energy uptake and to go easy on the gut.
Long Haul Endurance Sweet Potato
SkratchLab Sport Energy Chews
GU Energy Hoppy Trails
£2.79 per pouch
£22.50 for 10 packets (£2.25 per serving)
£1.80 per gel
g uenerg y.com
IDEAL FOR ULTRARUNNERS and multi-dayadventurers, for times you might crave a savoury break from the sweet stuff. There’s steady energy from slow-burn carbs in the sweet potato, coconut oil with MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) helps boost endurance, while dates, turmeric and sunflower seeds pack a nutritional punch.
THESE SOFT JELLY CHEWS are flavoured with real fruit for a sweet but zingy hit of energy. Each chew contains 4g of dual-source carbs from fructose and glucose, and you get 10 in a pack, so you’ll need to eat a fistful to get the kick of an average gel. However, unlike a gel, they’re fantastic for a regular, tiny-top-ups approach to fuelling on the move.
YOU KNOW THOSE T-shirts saying ‘Will Run For Beer’? Well, now you can run with beer. Sort of. It’s not quite supping an IPA on the move but these gels offer brew-like hoppy notes for a less-sweet alternative to standard GUs. There are also BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) to help to reduce mental fatigue and decrease muscle damage.
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GEAR BEST IN TEST 2020
KMC NRG Gel Chocolate Mint
Hüma Chia Energy Plus
Rawvelo Organic Blood Orange
£15.99 for 12 gels (£1.33 per gel)
£22.99 for 12 gels (£1.91 per gel)
£35 for 20 gels (£1.75 per gel)
KENDAL MINT CAKE – that classic adventurer’s fuel – has been reimagined in gel form. This modern spin on the minty sugar slabs retains the peppermint flavour but adds chocolate and citrus twists. At 70g a tube, they’re a bit bulky to carry and you need to watch for mintburn when drinking water after, but if there’s a fresher-tasting gel, we’ve yet to find it.
THESE MALTODEXTRIN-FREE gels blend ingredients such as ground chia seeds, brown rice syrup and fruit purées to create a range of allnatural fuel with 22g of carbs. The texture is closer to real food than most gels and the flavours are cleaner. They also include sea salt and coconut water powder for a higher hit of sodium, calcium, potassium and magnesium.
RAW VELO’S TRIO OF passion fruit and coconut, blueberry and hibiscus, and blood orange gels are a far cry from the artificial dessert flavours such as banoffee pie. Made from a combination of organic fruit juices, coconut sugar and brown rice syrup, they’re almost runny and can be taken without water. You get 20g of carbs in each and they’re compact.
Mountain Fuel Sports Jelly
One Pro Nutrition with BCAAs
£14.99 for 9 gels (£1.66 per gel)
£30 for 20 gels (£1.50 per gel)
£2 per gel
AN ANTIDOTE TO gloopy gels, these all-natural nectars boast an almost-liquid consistency that slips down easy, and squeeze a 22g carb hit into a portable packet. Along with the energy from date nectar, brown rice and maple syrups, the Doppio packs 75mg of slowacting caffeine from guarana and Himalayan pink salt to replace lost electrolytes.
MORE LIQUID JELLY than traditional gel, these so-called hydrogels are ideal if you find gloopy gels hard to swallow. They’re loose in texture, almost vanishing in the mouth even without water. A gelling agent wraps the carbs so they pass through the stomach for easier digestion. Each isotonic tube serves up 20g of carbs, along with electrolytes.
ANOTHER DUAL-FUEL gel that combines maltodextrin with sugars from fruit juice for an improved energy hit, One Pro’s BCAA gels also contain 400mg of amino acids for a performance boost and recovery benefits. They’re more liquid than gel, and the raspberry and watermelon is particularly tasty, with its pleasing hint of toffee apple. E
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R E COV E RY
BEST IN TEST 2020
Montrose Benefit Chocolate Protein
Unived Elite Recovery Mix
£3.25 per bar
£15 for 4 servings (£3.75 per serving)
£13 for 8 sachets (£1.62 per serving)
YOU CAN GET a protein dose from almost anything these days, even water. But if you want a bit of pleasure with your musclerepairing macronutrient fix, these treats are a tasty way to top up, with 15g of plant protein in one 80g bar. The 85 per cent cocoa solids can help improve fat metabolism, reduce inflammation and limit oxidative stress.
MORE LIKE A NUTRIENT-DENSE liquid meal than a protein shake, its vitamin and mineral list ticks pretty much every box for helping you recover from hard sessions. There are 50g of plant-based proteins from oats and peas for all your amino acids, vitamins A-K at close to 50 per cent RDA and 60 per cent of your daily fibre, all wrapped up in a gut-friendly drink.
EACH SACHET OF UNIVED contains 45g of rapidly absorbed carbs and 10g of pea protein. The 4:1 carbs-to-protein ratio is designed to work fast to support muscle repair, but this postrun mix also has electrolytes and vitamin K2-7 to prevent cramp; ashwagandha and curcumin extract to reduce muscle damage; and immune-boosting vitamin C.
refuel and recover The thinking behind recovery nutrition has undergone some changes
£2.50 per bar
£51.68 for box of 12 (£4.30 per shot)
MANY RECOVERY BARS combine protein and carbs in a 3:1 ratio for optimal benefits, but the high sugar levels means they’re best suited to high-intensity or heavy sessions. On lighter, recovery-run days, when you need less carbs, these offer a low-sugar way, with 20g of protein and just 2g of sugar per bar, to top up your protein levels.
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POSTRUN CRAMP pain-fests are caused by motor neurons sending signals to trigger your muscles to lock up. Hotshot’s mix of ginger, cinnamon and capsicum pepper aims to block that. The taste stimulates sensory neurons in the mouth, oesophagus and stomach, sending impulses to prevent those signals being sent to your twitching muscles.
Carbs Taking in carbohydrates immediately after a run speeds up how quickly your glycogen
stores restock after prolonged endurance exercise. But this kind of instant refuelling is only important if you’re planning to run again in the next eight hours, which most of us will not be doing. Golden ratio If you like the convenience of a post-workout shake, studies suggest the optimum recovery mix of carbs to protein in your postrun recovery shake and bars should be 4:1.
WO R D S : K I E R A N A LG E R. P H OTO G R A P H S : LU C K Y I F S H A R P
SiS Protein 20
Protein New studies suggest the ‘anabolic’ window for providing protein to help build new muscle is a good deal wider than first thought. Simply aim to leave no more than four to six hours between your protein-rich pre-workout and post-workout meals.
GEAR GE N E R A L H E A LT H
Xendurance Immune Boost
Bioniq Personalised Supplements
Mission Sleep Rooibos Matcha
£42.95 per 180 capsule bag (23p per serving)
£250 per month
£6.99 for 14 sticks (50p per serving)
WHILE RUNNING IS excellent for physical and mental health, intense sessions can suppress the immune system. This supplement crams 40 vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients from green tea, tomatoes pomegranate, cranberry and spinach, into an easy-to-swallow soft-gel capsule, to give your body a helping hand to stay strong.
INVESTING IN YOUR health doesn’t come much more serious than this bespoke supplement service. You start with a 33-parameter at-home blood test, followed by a consultation with a nutritionist or dietitian to discuss results, before being sent a personalised supplement formula with a mix of 120 micronutrients. The process is repeated every two months.
EXPERTS RECOMMEND a smart sleep routine for improving your shuteye. A hot drink can be a useful bedtime trigger as part of your winddown process. This Rooibos Matcha provides a caffeine-free cup of goodness, with gingko biloba and lavender to reduce stress and enhance relaxation, along with ginger, turmeric and hemp protein to fuel recovery.
BEST IN TEST 2020
Motion Nutrition Power Up
33Fuel Ultimate Daily Greens
GoodRemedy CBD Gummies
£24.99 for 60 capsules (42p per serving)
£19.99 for 30 servings (66p per serving)
£24.99 for 30 g ummies (83p per serving)
THESE CAPSULES are part of a fast-growing sector of the wellness industry called nootropics – supplements that improve brain function. Pop two of these a day with your morning cuppa and its vitamins, minerals, and amino acids (including B3, B5, B12, L-taurine, L-tyrosine and ginseng) will help keep you sharp throughout the day.
BLENDED INTO A smoothie, this powder is a simple and unexpectedly tasty way to get a big hit of nutrients without having to eat your body weight in veg. It’s packed with alkalising wheatgrass, barley grass, chlorella, spirulina, kale, spinach, broccoli for immune support and cinnamon, which stops it tasting like you’re chewing grass.
RUNNERS STRESS their endocannabinoid system, a cell-signalling system that keeps the body’s internal state relatively stable. This can lead to pain and inflammation, but these gummies, made from CBD isolate (a non-psychoactive cannabinoid) not only taste great, they also help reduce those post-training aches and inflammation, and combat stress.
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GEAR SIX OF THE BEST
MAKE LIGHT OF THE DARK Don’t let the winter gloom derail your training
Black Diamond Icon £90 | blackdiamondequipment.com | 500 lumens
but a trusty companion on epic trail runs. As well as a wide and evenly lit beam, it has green, red and blue night-vision modes for different lighting needs (you’ll only need this in streetlight-free rural areas), as well as a decent battery life of 12 hours. A HEAV Y ITEM
Nathan Halo Fire £26 | Bac-e.com | 100 lumens
of fantastic features packed into this torch. Wave your hand in front of the light and it will switch between five modes of intensity. The auto strobe function senses approaching cars and automatically changes to strobe mode to ensure drivers spot you. THERE ARE A COUPLE
Petzl Swift RL £78.95 | trekkinn.com | 900 lumens
from such a small model. The headband is reflective, there’s a battery-level metre and you can choose between the standard (consistent) light option or Reactive Lighting, which changes the light intensity according to your surroundings. EXCEPTIONAL BRIGHTNESS
Unilite PS-HDL9R £130 | unilite.co.uk | 750 lumens EASY TO USE, EVEN with gloves on, this torch gives up to 246 hours of burn time, depending which light mode you use. It’s USB-chargeable and has a battery pack at the rear for backup power, and there’s an anti-dazzle shield you can pull down over the light when necessary.
Silverpoint Hunter XL120RL
AN EXCELLENT BUDGET option. For your modest outlay, you get a decent-strength beam, with a reach of 70m. There are three light settings, as well as side red lights. It is also highly water-resistant and so will stand up to any inclement conditions you may encounter.
Knog Quokka Run £26 | Bac-e.com | 100 lumens THE LOW LUMEN count means this is best kept for times when you’re running in areas that are partially lit. It’s USB-chargeable, offers up to 46 hours of power and the adjustable silicon strap is comfortable and durable. A good budget option for the urban runner.
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WO R D S : K E R RY M CCA R T H Y. P H OTO G R A P H S : L U C K Y I F S H A R P
£12 | snowandrock.com | 120 lumens
Runner’s Collection GYROSCOPIC EXERCISERS
STRENGTHENING • REHABILITATION • INJURY PREVENTION Build extraordinary forearm, wrist & grip strength Inside Powerball’s hard plastic shell is a rotor which can spin faster than a Formula One engine (20,000rpm+) and develop over 80 times its own weight in pure gyroscopic resistance. Spin Powerball® FAST and it’ll develop your forearm, wrist and grip strength for all your favourite sports and pastimes (golf, tennis, cycling, climbing etc) like nothing else on the planet. Rehabilitate painful RSI injuries in the wrists & arms Repetitive tasks like typing, texting, golﬁng, gardening, driving long hours or whatever...can bring all sorts of painful RSI issues to your shoulders, elbows & wrists. Spinning Powerball® SLOWLY for 60 seconds, several times daily, brings immediate pain relief & lasting rehabilitation beneﬁt. Millions sold over the past 20 years, Powerball® is highly recommended by Physios throughout the world and used by professional athletes, musicians, gamers, in fact, anyone looking to keep their hands, wrists and arms pain free and strong, right from ﬁnger tip to shoulder. OVER 1000+ COMBINED – 5 STAR REVIEWS Use Healthy Wrists for a 20% discount on powerballs.com
Shower Oil 150ml | £18 This luxurious foaming Shower Oil has been specially created with beneﬁcial ingredients to help re-mineralise, hydrate and conditiontired and stressed skin. Ideal for skin exposed to the elements during running. The formula also helps re balance your skins unique microbiome and boost its defence against urban pollution. Fragranced with a signature blend of natural essential oils. Use code RUNNER20 to get 20% off at urbanjack.com
POWER YOUR TRAINING WITH PROTEIN
Deliciously ﬂavoured pure whey concentrate, Allsports Pure Whey Protein is naturally rich in amino acids (in particular Leucine) which initiate acute muscle protein synthesis. Taking whey proteins along side your training enhances this process – basically the more you do the better your body becomes at absorbing protein and converting it into muscle. If you are overtraining and not fuelling your body with sufficient carbs and proteins you will start to burn into muscle when training. 450g £16.97. www.allsports-nutrition.com IG allsportsnu
HOW FAR YOU RUN DEPENDS ON YOUR AIM
“GREAT FUN. CHALLENGING. DIFFERENT.”
BASED ON A MILITARY TRAINING EXERCISE CALLED A MARCH AND SHOOT, RIFLE RUN IS A 10KM RUN – IF YOU CAN SHOOT STRAIGHT.
DON’T MISS OUT FIND AN EVENT NEAR YOU WWW.SOLDIERSCHARITY.ORG/RIFLERUN ABF The Soldiers’ Charity is a registered charity in England and Wales (1146420) and in Scotland (SC039189). Registered as a company limited by guarantee in England and Wales (07974609). Registered ofﬁce: Mountbarrow House, 12 Elizabeth Street, London SW1W 9RB.
Say Goodbye to Nip Burn 50 KILOMETERS NO CHAFING GUARANTEED
LET YOUR RUNNING LOOSE
NATURE, WE DON’T DESERVE YOU
Patagonia is a long way to go for a race, but when the scenery is this majestic, you know you have made the right decision.
The beauty of the Patagonia International Half Marathon is hard to believe, finds Kerry McCarthy
THERE ARE TIMES AS AN RW STAFFER when you have to take one for the team, and times when you strike it lucky. My trip to do a half marathon in Chile last year was a combination of both. I’ll give you the spoiler right now, in case you want the short version: it is a race for the intrepid amateur, the average-but-adventurous runner; and it is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before or are likely to again. It’s one continuous Kodak moment (younger readers should ask their parents), and you should insert it somewhere near the top of your bucket list.
Patagonia is the wilderness region on the southern tip of South America, straddling Chile and Argentina. It’s home to Torres Del Paine National Park, a conservation area of wind-whipped, snowcapped, raw beauty that sits in what’s known as ‘The Province of Last Hope’. This was the last part of the planet to be colonised by humans as we travelled down to the end of the Americas. The best way I can describe it is that it’s like a 360-degree version of one of those Microsoft mountain-landscape wallpapers. You know how you look at them, perfectly pixelated, and think, ‘They’ve FEBRUARY 2020 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK 087
touched that up – nowhere on earth could look like that’? But it could. It was through here that the race was run. Almost 450 runners (a roughly even split of Chilean and international entrants) turned out across the marathon, half marathon and 10K distances on offer. Although it was bitterly cold, we were lucky: the forecast was for sunshine and low winds soon after the start. Patagonia experiences such placid conditions for an average of 15 days a year. The rest of the time it is apparently a battle to walk half a mile down the road without being buffeted from side to side by the elements. Indeed, Charles Darwin wrote of Patagonia: ‘In winter, the climate is detestable, and in summer it is only a little better…the winds are very boisterous and the sky is almost always clouded: to have a week of fine weather is something wonderful’. Smart man. In keeping with the eco-friendly ‘leave no trace’ ethos of the event, the start village was minimalist. But none of the participants seemed to care – we were all far too busy enjoying being halfway up a remote Chilean hillside while hopping about stiffly to a 1970s disco playlist, as the low-hanging clouds gently caressed the tops of our heads. 088 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK FEBRUARY 2020
Macho Man by the Village People merged effortlessly into Ma Baker by Boney M, and we had barely got through half of the immortal Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (Elton John and Kiki Dee) before the gun went and everyone shuffled off at a conservative pace. We’d all looked at the elevation profile the day before and clocked that it bore a close resemblance to a stegosaurus’s back. The first couple of miles were fairly prosaic – a mist hung along the route and the sharp purity of the air bit at my lungs, making it a challenge to get the breath to settle down. But by the three-mile point, the clouds had burnt away in the morning sun and I rounded a corner to be greeted by the sight of a piercingly turquoise river winding peacefully into the distance, between two vast snowcapped mountains. I stopped and, for the first time ever in a race, whipped out my phone to take some photos. This set the tone for the rest of the race, not only for me but for most of the runners around me. Nobody was interested in what time they ran or what splits they clocked, for two good reasons: 1) the constant undulations made it almost impossible to get into a rhythm – even the front runners walked up the climbs; and
This is not a race in which you should be concerned with your finish time; your watch is the last thing you should be looking at.
PATAGONIA INTERNATIONAL HALF MARATHON
P H OTO G R A P H S : J E F F A DA M S , E D G AU G H R A N
GET THERE Delta Airlines flies to Santiago, Chile, from London Gatwick, from £650rtn (delta.com). A connecting flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas is via Latam Airlines from £47trn (latam.com). Total flight time is 20.5hrs. STAY The Rio Serrano hotel (rioserrano.com) is a sparkle of luxury in the wilderness. SIGHT SEE Your package with Marathon Tours will include activities such as glacier watching, puma spotting, hikes to local waterfalls and much more.
2) as the saying goes in these parts: ‘Those who hurry in Patagonia lose time’, which, I think, is a Chilean way of saying that there’s no point stressing about anything. In this instance, it clearly meant: sod your watch and concentrate instead on making some wonderful memories. A little further on, I stopped to observe a gang of pink flamingos pecking diligently at the lichencovered branches that floated past them; and at the halfway fuel station (bananas, vats of drink from which to refill your own cups, and nothing else – it was all we needed), I took my time sipping something purple and sugary while a pair of condors wheeled overhead, perhaps hoping the strange, fluoro-covered humans would leave something tasty for them. I stopped increasingly frequently in the second half of the race, partly because I was knackered, and partly because there was always something to marvel at, and I cursed myself for only having two eyes. Here, a small herd of guanacos (a kind of Chilean llama); there, a plain of deep-brown marsh grass being flattened by the wind; around the corner, a deep-red mountain ridge that reminded me of the kind of place from which Sioux warriors on
THE RUNDOWN Patagonia International Half Marathon Torres Del Paine, Chile (2019 stats) First man: Alan Carreno, 1:15:45 First woman: Stephanie De Brita, 1:46:44 Last finisher: 4:25:26 No of finishers: 168
horseback launched surprise attacks in 1950s Technicolor westerns. With two miles to go, I came across two bemused local cops guarding the one fork in the road we had to navigate. One gave me a hard stare, then broke into a toothless grin as I shuffled past. No doubt the air of delighted discomfort I carried with me confirmed his view that we foreigners were all completely loco. The finish line was back at our oasis of a hotel, the Rio Serrano. Non-running hotel guests and faster finishers were outside to high five everyone over the line and from there it was a matter of 10 metres to the nearest beer and a seat next to the enormous Mongolian barbecue, which was well underway. A little later, fed and watered, I sat in the window of my hotel room watching the stragglers coming in and the after-party raging. It seemed an ideal moment for contented reflection: right then, in my universe, for miles around there was nothing but mountains, wildlife and runners. Nature coming together in perfect harmony. It doesn’t happen often. This year’s event is on September 5. For the latest package prices, including accommodation, catering, race entry and activities, visit marathontours.com
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GLENTRESS TRAIL RACES Race director Ian Mulvey takes you on a 21km loop in the Scottish Borders
‘THIS WILL BE THE FOURTH year we have run our event,’ says Mulvey. ‘The area is popular for mountain biking, so we asked the Forestry Commission about putting on a run there. Being in February, we never know what the weather will be like. The first year, there was waist-high snow, but it was dry and sunny last year. It feels remote, but it’s only an hour south of Edinburgh. It’s tough, but not stupidly hard.’
Runners gather outside the Glentress Peel Visitor Centre, in the heart of the Tweed Valley. It’s a mile-and-a-half northeast of Peebles, the town that straddles the River Tweed.
Makeness Hill NORTH KNOWE
*This year’s races (10-42km) are on Feb 22 & 23. highterrainevents.co.uk
Middle Hill Caresman Hill
20 KM Soonhope Craig
Glenbield Start of black MTB trail
Kittlegairy Hill 6km
Kirn Law B u z z a r d ’s Nest
Apart from a short ‘evil’ climb, you’re mainly descending along Soonhope Craig. Look out for some of the forest’s rich wildlife, which includes red squirrels, roe deer and buzzards.
Here you ascend before descending Cardie Hill as you overlook Peebles. Parts of this forest were replanted in the 1920s in response to the timber shortage during the First World War.
Cardie Hill Falla Brae
Fort J a n e t ’s Brae
START FINISH 600 400 200 0
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For those doing the full marathon, it’s the same route all over again. For those finishing the half, it’s time for some hot food and a drink back at base.
WO R D S : A D R I A N M O N T I .W
You are now at 587m, the highest point on the run. This lofty vantage point offers you panoramic views towards Edinburgh and the surrounding hills.
To your left are the remains of an Iron Age fort. The site was also inhabited when the Romans set up a camp here on the valley floor, following their invasion of Scotland in 79AD.
This forest is one of the best mountainbiking areas in Scotland. You’re now on one of the ‘black runs’; parts of the trail have acquired names such as Betty Blue, and Britney Spears.
There’s a very short road section, but the remainder of the race is on gravel trails or singletrack walking paths. A steady ascent takes you into Glentress Forest, the largest of seven forests spread across this valley.
GOODWOOD IS GOOD TO GO
The secret to a fast time at the Chicester 10K was to ease around the bend and then open up the throttle for the final straight.
P H OTO G R A P H S : R O O F OW L E R
Kerry McCarthy starts his engine at the Chichester 10K
IN AN IDEAL WORLD, you’d bump a race like this a little further into the year. It’s a PB-hunter’s dream and so a bit of a wasted opportunity for those of us who, by the start of February, are only just starting to think again about any sort of proper training. Mind you, judging by the quick times posted at the pointy end of the field, there were plenty of runners who had managed to fit in some interval training among the LSE (long, slow eating) sessions that are a feature of this time of year. For context, seven runners broke the elite-level 30-minute barrier, GB double Olympian Steph Twell was first woman home and over three quarters of the field finished in less than an hour. The route itself has changed a number of times over the event’s 28-year history and back in 2017 it
switched to the current iteration: the first six-and-a-bit kilometres are on quiet country roads outside Chichester, and the final 3.8km section is a full lap of the track at Goodwood motor-racing circuit. As is often the way with shorter, fast races, much of it passed in a blur but I was dimly aware of an inordinate number of club vests passing me; the course was well planned; the marshals did their job with understated aplomb and there was plenty of water. What did catch my attention was haring past the Rolls Royce HQ and then running along a stretch of Stane Street, which dates back to 70AD. It was built by the Romans, is predictably straight(ish) and connects Chichester with London Bridge, 90 kilometres away. When we turned into Goodwood, which has been restored to look as it
THE RUNDOWN Chichester 10K West Sussex (2019 stats) First man: William Mycroft, 29:32 First woman: Steph Twell, 33:17 Last finisher: 1:32:36 No of finishers: 1,472
Finishing stats ● 30:00 0.7% ● 30:00–59:00 77% ● 60:00–89:00 22% ● 90:00+ 0.3%
did in its 1950s heyday, I had expected to put the hammer down and pick off as many unsuspecting ‘roadkill’ victims as possible on the wide, flat asphalt. But, everyone else seemed to be equally inspired by running on such a venerable track, so my plans of channelling my inner Stirling Moss and cruising my way past a few sputtering engines in the final stages came to nought. The only bum note in the whole proceeding was the long and slowmoving queue beyond the finish line to collect medals and a plastic cup of water – no hot drinks were on offer despite the brisk weather – but, that aside, it’s easy to see why the organisers get close to 1,500 runners turning out here year after year. It’s quick, it’s uncomplicated and it’s how road racing should be. This year’s race is on February 2. Visit chichester10k.com
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THE START LIST
Our selection of the best, fastest, toughest, quirkiest and most enjoyable UK races this month
Thorpe & Egham Half Marathon Over to the organisers: ‘Whether it will be your first race or your 50th, this fast route offers a perfect chance for a chip-timed personal best.’ If that doesn’t get you blowing the dust off your race-day shoes, also bear in mind that the medal features the Magna Carta, which was signed just a few kilometres away, in Runnymede. Egham, Surrey, February 2, runthrough.co.uk
What’s your immediate postrace routine? Do you hang around and sample the goodies on offer or leg it for the car park straight away?
HAPPY 30TH, BRIGHTON! ‘Go and support our other club runners and wait until the last one has finished. Then we go and have a celebratory drink.’ – Claire Kendall Byatt ‘Definitely hang about a bit. See
Brighton Half Marathon Running is a handy skill to have in Brighton, what with all those dive-bombing seagulls everywhere. You can hone your gull-avoiding skills with this oftenwindy seaside half marathon, which takes in many of the sights of Brighton and Hove, with the start and finish just west of the iconic Brighton Pier. This year is the 30th anniversary of the race and, as you might expect in Brighton, there is a pleasingly big focus on sustainability. Brighton, February 23, East Sussex, brightonhalfmarathon.com
what’s on offer, stretch out and shower if there are facilities there or nearby. Followed by
Run Newcastle Valentines 10K If you’ve been trying to convince your loved one to get up off the sofa and join you on a run, this fast and flat Valentine’s weekend outing might be the one to do it. It takes place on asphalt in the wide-open expanse of Newcastle Town Moor. Bonus cute points if you finish holding hands. Newcastle, February 16, runnation.co.uk
some postrace food.’ – Brian Milton ‘Lie down, get asked to move on. Get up, get medal, lie down again, wake up, get bag from collection point. Eat anything in view, be sick, lie down, repeat…’ – Simon Munday
Pilgrim Challenge This one is a monster, but, happily, it’s a monster with plenty of options to make it more or less monstrous, depending on your desires. You are encouraged to run, walk or jog as you see fit over the beautiful Pilgrim’s Way, and while the event is officially a two-day, 66-mile thereand-back between Farnham and Redhill, there is an option to ‘only’ do one day – 33 miles. It’s fair to say this one is incredibly difficult but it also sounds unforgettably fun. Farnham, Surrey, February 1-2, xnrg.co.uk
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The Rhyl 10 mile If you’re looking for some additional motivation to get your speed up, this race will be hosting the North Wales 10-mile road running championship and, as a result, there will be plenty of speedsters taking full advantage of the fast course. It’s along the coast, so while the lack of hills may be a great bonus, there will also be, in all probability, a chilly wind to keep you on your toes. Rhyl, Denbighshire, February 22, runwales.com
Icing on the Cake
‘Smaller events: straight for the exits; in big marathons, I’ll sample all the goodies and enjoy the postrace activities.’ – Ana Iris Paez
SENSE OF DIRECTION
St Davids is the UK’s smallest city (population: 1,841 in 2011) and is also home to one of the UK’s toughest and most scenic marathons. The race starts with a lovely 3.5km of downhill – and then descends (figuratively only) into something much more demanding in the form of several steep inclines. Whoever decided that the home straight should be a flight of 39 steps has a unique sense of humour.
This trail marathon (or half marathon) is an excellent option for the tortoise, though the hare will enjoy it, too. There are only two uphill sections and they are not particularly steep, but holy moly, they do go on for a long time. Good thing the Shropshire Hills are so beautiful. The course is marked but runners are, nonetheless, required to carry a rucksack with supplies, a map and compass. In a masterstroke of planning, the finish is opposite National Trust tea rooms.
St Davids, Pembrokeshire, February 29, muuk-adventures.com
Church Stretton, Shropshire, February 1, codrc.co.uk
Ras Dewi Sant
GO LONG OR SHORT
Polar Bear Challenge
Ever arrive on race day and you’re just not feeling up to whatever the distance is? This event does away with such issues. It’s a loop of just over 5K and runners can complete it as many times as they fancy within the six-hour time limit. Do eight laps for a marathon – by which point the straightforward 30m elevation gain per lap may start to look a little like a mountain in Mordor.
This is the perfect race for runners who want to dip their toes into the intimidating but exciting world of ultramarathons for the first time. In the lead-up to the race, the organisers are putting on free training runs covering the entire route, to help participants build confidence and endurance, and there is live tracking of the race, so your loved ones can watch your great triumph in real time.
Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Warwickshire, February 4, bigbearevents.net
POLL Which best describes your reaction as someone sprints past you 100m before the finish line?*
DO A LITTLE GOOD
The Glasgow 5K and 10K Winter Warmer Run Pateley Pie ‘n’ Pint
WO R D S : S T E P H E N G L E N N O N . P H OTO G R A P H S : S U E H I L L , W I L D M A N M E D I A / PAU L M I TC H E L L * BA S E D O N A N R W O N L I N E P O L L W I T H 886 VOT E S
The name makes it sound so easy. Do a bit of a run, get a pie and a pint. Job done. It’s true, that is essentially it – except this is a tricky five-mile trail loop that, last year, was complicated by the addition of snow. You can loop until you’ve done an ultramarathon or stop after one loop. Science has not yet managed to prove that pies and pints taste better the more loops you do, but we runners instinctively know this to be an incontrovertible fact. Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire, February 1, itsgrimupnorthrunning.co.uk
Winter can be an testing time of year, even for those of us with a roof over our heads. This series of Winter Warmer Runs across the country in February aims to raise funds for the housing and homelessness charity Shelter. The route is prosaic (you run round Glasgow Green) but the scenery is secondary here. There’s no requirement to fundraise – simply participating gives valuable support, from the entry fee – but if you do decide to also raise funds, there is no minimum and every donation will be warmly received. Glasgow, February 22, thefixevents.com
Waverton, Cheshire, February 29, gbultras.com
Annoyed; you sprint even harder to overtake them
You are happy that they’re having a good race
No reaction. It makes no difference to your time
Huddersfield 10K Thirteen quid is quite the bargain for a timed race with prizes, and when a technical T-shirt is thrown in, it suddenly becomes one of the best-value races out there. The course undulates but it finishes fast (possibly because runners know there are delicious bacon butties awaiting). Unsurprisingly, entries are selling fast, so don’t hang about if you want to sign up for this one. Huddersfield, February 23, huddersfieldroadrunners.co.uk
RW ONLINE RACE LISTINGS
The Maverick Exposure Lights Dark Oxfordshire Let’s gloss over the main race details quickly, because we have something remarkable to tell you about this event: 5K, 10K or 15km trail run in the dark, bring your head torch, looks like tons of fun etc…and you might see a wallaby! Yes, a wallaby. Those cute little mini-kangaroos from Australia have taken up residence in the UK (although no one knows for sure quite how that happened), with Henley a particular hotspot for sightings. Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, February 8, maverick-race.com
Thirsty for more? Go to runnersworld. com/uk and click on ‘Events’ in the menu bar. This will take you to our comprehensive race database (powered by letsdothis.com), where you can search hundreds of events by location, distance, date and more.
GRIN UP NORTH
Great North West Half Marathon Thirty-one years on the go is pretty decent pedigree and the Great North West Half Marathon in Blackpool is still going from strength to strength. These days, the field is up to around 1,500 runners tackling laps of the promenade and battling the stern sea winds and changeable weather. Despite the conditions, there’s always a strong turnout from club runners and some quick times are posted. Bizarrely, in 2018, several runners mentioned getting sunburnt. Blackpool, Lancashire, February 16, fyldecoastrunners.com
FEBRUARY 2020 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK 095
I’M A RUNNER
VASSOS ALEXANDER THE SPORTS BROADCASTER ON SHOES WITH SPRINGS AND RUNNING TO CHANGE LIVES I GOT THE SPARTATHLON LOGO TATTOOED ON MY ANKLE. I never
thought I’d be the kind of guy to get a running tattoo, but I am. The ﬁrst time I showed it to my Barnes Runners clubmates, they told me it looked like the Interﬂora logo – and it does! I WATCHED ELIUD KIPCHOGE BREAK THE TWO-HOUR MARATHON while I
‘The first time I laced up a pair of trainers, I knew this was for me’
was doing parkrun with my kids. I had it on my phone and loads of runners were watching. I love the fact we were running as a family as it happened; it’s the closest we’re going to get in our lifetime to a Roger Bannister moment. I’M A BIT DUBIOUS ABOUT THE NIKE 4% SHOES. If they really are a spring
and a shoe, rather than just a shoe, is it the equivalent of the [now banned] swimming wetsuits? What I love about running is the simplicity. If you’ve got a spring on the bottom of your foot, what do the records of old mean any more? I think this wonderful sport, which I love so much, might be selling its soul if this is the way we’re going. I’VE BEEN LUCKY ENOUGH TO REPORT ON SIX OLYMPICS. The
standout moment for me has to be Usain Bolt’s 100m win at Beijing 2008. The athletics landscape changed forever in nine and a bit seconds. CHRIS EVANS SAYS MY RUNNING RUBBED OFF ON HIM. He ran his ﬁrst
CHRIS AND I CAME UP WITH THE IDEA OF RUNFESTRUN as a way of
MINE IS THE TRADITIONAL STORY OF THE BLOKE IN HIS 30 S who starts
MY GREEK HERITAGE DREW ME TO THE MARATHON DISTANCE. I’ve
to expand and thinks, ‘Let me try exercise.’ I started with the gym and hated it, but the ﬁrst time I laced up a pair of trainers, I knew this was for me.
always been aware of the Greek messengers, such as Pheidippides, who inspired the marathon, and it was a big reason I ran the Spartathlon. When you arrive in Sparta, children run with you through the streets. There was this one kid who looked up to me and said, ‘Why are you running so slowly?’ I said, ‘I’ve just run here from Athens.’ He thought about it and said, ‘Yeah, but still.’ I cherish that moment.
I USUALLY RUN TO OR FROM WORK.
If I’m in marathon training, I’ll sometimes do both. It’s just over 10 miles along the Thames Path. I use that for most of my training: long runs, tempos, ﬁve-minute intervals. 098 RUNNERSWORLD.COM/UK FEBRUARY 2020
Vas sos, a c o - p r e s e n te r on the Chris Evans Break fast Show , ( Virgin Radio) was on a r ece n t e p isod e of the Runner ’s World UK podcast, available on iTunes and Ac ast. The 2020 Ru nFestRu n is at Windsor Great Pa r k, May 22-24. r u n f e s tr u n .co.u k
bottling some of the positive energy at the end of a marathon. The ﬁrst one was in Wiltshire in 2018, and it was everything we’d hoped it would be. It’s a great big party: music in the evening, running in the day. THIS YEAR, I’M CONCENTRATING ON THE LONG STUFF. I’m in the
Comrades Marathon, I’m going to give UTMB a little tickle and I’m going to do the Arch to Arc, which involves running from Marble Arc to Dover, swimming the Channel and then cycling to Paris. Wish me luck!
I N T E R V I E W: R I C K P E A R S O N . P H OTO G R A P H : DAV I D TOW N H I L L
London in 2015 without telling anyone. He’s done seven or eight marathons now. He’s a good runner. He’s got Tokyo and London coming up next year.
Kefir Chicken Caesar Salad
CREDITS Photographs: Lisa Shine (p4); Martin Poole (p5, p6, p7, p9) Clean Eating Alice Eat Well Every Day (£14.99, Harper Thorsons) by Alice Liveing; Dan Matthews (p6, p9, p23, p25); Mickey Hoyle (p07, p12, p13, p15, p16, p20, p21, p22, p24, p25, p28-29, p30); Sean Calitz (p08, p30, p31), RGB Digital (p13, p17); Lucky if Sharp (p14, p15); Anton Achilleos (p17); Nina Olsson (p21)
Breakfast Start the day as you mean to go on
Fight cravings These foods will keep you satisfied for longer
Lunch Fuel your training, satisfy your taste buds, feel righteous
Dinner Some are quick, some are slow, all are packed with goodness
Make mine a macro Instead of counting calories, measure your macronutrients
Sweet stuff You deserve a reward, with added nutritional punch
QUICK AND NUTRITIOUS RECIPE S TO START THE DAY RIGHT
BIG BREAKFAST BURRITO An energy-giving, recovery-boosting, cholesterol-fighting parcel of excellence
1 large tomato, roughly chopped Handful coriander Handful chopped onion 1 tsp chopped green chilli Pinch salt 1 tbsp lime juice 1 tbsp water 4 beaten eggs Knob of butter 160g washed baby spinach
Black pepper 2 wholemeal tortillas 1 avocado 1 Roughly blend the tomato, onions, chilli, salt, water and lime juice and set aside. 2 Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Stir in the eggs, add the spinach, salt and pepper. 3 Stir until the eggs are softly scrambled while microwaving the tortillas for 30 seconds.
4 Pour the egg mixture into the tortillas, chop the avocado on top, add your salsa, wrap it all and put it in your face.
SPICY BUTTERBEANS ON SOURDOUGH Beans are a good source of iron, which helps improve blood flow to your muscles
Glug of olive oil 1 shallot, finely chopped ½ garlic clove, crushed ½ tsp smoked paprika ½ 400g tin of butter beans, rinsed ½ 400g tin of chopped tomatoes Salt and pepper 1 slice of sourdough bread
1 Add the oil to a saucepan, then throw in the shallot, garlic, ½ tbsp water and the smoked paprika, and leave to sweat for a few mins. 2 Next, add the butter beans and chopped tomatoes, and leave to simmer on a low heat for 20 mins, seasoning as desired. 3 While that’s doing its thing, toast the sourdough. 4 Serve the beans on toast and dig in.
Eat cold on the go Serves
4 eggs 8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved 50g feta, crumbled Chilli flakes, to taste Salt and pepper Knob of butter Handful of fresh basil, chopped 1 Heat oven to 180C. Whisk eggs in a large bowl, then stir in everything else but the butter. 2 Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat, pour in the egg mixture and leave for 6-8 mins to cook the base. 3 Once the bottom has formed, pop the pan in the oven for 5-10 mins, or until cooked through. 4 Slice into quarters and store in the fridge to eat throughout the week.
HALLOUMI VEGGIE GRILL Protein, vitamin D, calcium – this breakfast (or brunch) is packed with nutrition
2 portobello mushrooms 1 large salad tomato, halved 2 tbsp olive oil 2 slices of halloumi 2 eggs 2 slices of toast ½ tsp chilli flakes 2 tsp mixed seeds, toasted Handful of fresh greens (eg watercress) 1 Put the mushrooms and the tomato on a tray and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Place under a grill until cooked. 2 Meanwhile, in a frying pan, add 1 tbsp olive oil, then add the halloumi and crack in your eggs. Fry the eggs and flip the halloumi to cook on both sides. 3 Plate everything up (halloumi on the toast, eggs on the side), season with chilli flakes and sprinkle over the seeds.
VERY BERRY FLAXSEED PORRIDGE Munch this after a workout – the flaxseeds can help reduce post-exercise inflammation 100g strawberries 50g blueberries 50g raspberries 150g natural yoghurt 50g ground flaxseed 1 tbsp goji berries 1 Easy one, this. Simmer the berries in a pan until soft and juicy (saving a few for the garnish), then mash roughly with a fork. 2 Combine the yoghurt and flaxseed, then serve drizzled with the smashed berries and garnished with goji berries and the reserved fruit.
GREEN SHAKSHUKA Serves
This is great way to pack in your greens (and protein) first thing in the morning 2 leeks, chopped 1 garlic clove, crushed Olive oil Chilli flakes (optional) Bunch of asparagus, chopped 150g petits pois 2 handfuls of baby spinach 4 eggs Salt and pepper 50g smoked trout (optional) 1 lemon
CACAO AND DATE OATS WITH FIGS Serves
1 Sauté leeks and garlic in a large pan (add chilli flakes if using). 2 Add asparagus and sauté for 1 min. Add petits pois and sauté for another min. Stir in the baby spinach until just wilted. 3 Make four wells in the mixture and crack an egg into each one. Cover and cook for a few more mins, until the eggs are cooked through. Season and serve with smoked trout and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Beat the 11am munchies – oats make you feel fuller for longer 50g whole rolled oats 2 tbsp chopped dates 1 tsp cacao powder Almond milk, to cover 2 large ripe figs, cut into quarters. 1 Add the oats, dates and cacao to a saucepan, then cover with almond milk. 2 Cook on a low heat until gently simmering (about five minutes), then serve topped with figs. Simple as that.
BUTTERNUT FLAPJACKS Perfect postrun food 200g oats 1 tsp ground nutmeg 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1 vanilla pod 1 tsp baking powder ¼ tsp baking soda ½ tsp salt 150g roasted butternut squash 450ml almond milk 4 eggs Olive oil
FOR THE TOPPINGS 80g smoked salmon 1 avocado,
sliced 60g soft goat’s cheese 50g pumpkin seeds 1 lemon 1 Make the batter before your run, so the oats soak up the flavours. Pop oats, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a food processor and blitz. 2 Mash the squash in a bowl, then hand blend in 200ml almond milk to form a purée.
Add to the oat mixture. 3 Add the eggs and re-blend, cover and refrigerate. 4 After your run, mix in the remaining 250ml almond milk to loosen the batter. 5 Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan and cook flapjacks in batches until golden – you should get 12 large ones from the batch. 6 Serve, splitting the toppings among the flapjacks; squeeze a little lemon juice over the top.
STRAWBERRY SMOOTHIE BOWL Serves
Super-quick to make and even quicker to eat 6 large strawberries 65g oats 200ml oat milk 100g frozen raspberries 3 large ice cubes Desiccated coconut (optional) Almond flakes (optional) 1 Blitz the smoothie ingredients (aside from for the coconut, almonds and one strawberry) in a blender, then pour into a bowl. 2 Top with whatever you fancy; desiccated coconut and almond flakes are good for added crunch.
SWEET COCONUT PROTEIN SMOOTHIE The hefty hits of protein, fat and carbs make this a winning recovery smoothie 100ml coconut milk 50ml water Scoop of whey protein powder 100g mixed berries 1 banana Â˝ avocado Pour the coconut milk and water into a blender, then add everything else. Blend until smooth, then serve. (Top tip: bulk prepare this by multiplying the ingredients, then freezing, so you have ice-cream-style, pre-run fuel on demand.
FILL YOUR PL ATE WITH FOODS THAT KEEP YOU SATISFIED AND STOP YOU FROM DIVING INTO A SUG ARY SNACK
10 craving-fighting foods
3. COTTAGE CHEESE
Leafy green: just those two words put some people off, but these foods are packed with nutrition. Spinach is a great place to start, as it is easy to add to dishes. It contains compounds called thylakoids, which cause satiety-boosting hormones to flood your system. Fresh ways to fill up Pulverise it in a food processor, then stir into hummus or another dip. Or defrost and drain frozen chopped spinach and mix it into meatballs.
Sure, it has a reputation as being one of those horribly virtuous – and not terribly appealing – foods, but it has a hefty 28g of protein per 225g tub. That protein is known as casein and because it takes a long time to digest, holds hunger at bay for longer. Fresh ways to fill up Blend it with garlic powder, lemon, pepper and oregano for a quick veggie dip; or use it instead of milk in a smoothie to add creaminess and heft.
Your apple a day contains, among other nutrients, a fibre called pectin, which release hormones that control feelings of fullness. In a study from Penn State University, US, people who munched the fruit 15 minutes before lunch ate nearly 200 fewer calories at their meal than those who hadn’t. Fresh ways to fill up Add a few slices to a peanut butter sarnie, or layer them on an emmental, turkey and rocket combo. Surprisingly delicious.
For pure protein, you can’t beat ’em (sorry). One study followed two groups: both consumed an equal number of calories, but one ate two eggs and toast with low-cal jam at breakfast, while the other had yoghurt and a bagel with cream cheese. The egg group then consumed 164 fewer calories at lunch. Eggs also contain all the amino acids the body needs. Fresh ways to fill up Crack one into soup or tomato sauce and poach or use to top a pizza.
9. KIDNEY BEANS
Raspberries are high in soluble fibre and studies have shown that they help reduce hunger. Soluble fibre slows down the progress of food through the digestive system. Fresh ways to fill up Make this your go-to jam: mash 170g raspberries with 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1 tbsp water and honey (to taste). Or halve berries and mix with chopped coriander, garlic, onions and lime juice for a fruit salsa to spoon over grilled fish or chicken.
This offers carbohydrates with staying power: one study found that people who ate rye bread for breakfast felt less hungry than people who had breads made with wheat. It has a lower glycaemic index, so you don’t get a spike in blood sugars. Fresh ways to fill up Dice a loaf and toast with a little olive oil and garlic powder for homemade croutons or stuffing. Snack on rye crisps (such as Ryvita) with almond butter and slices of banana.
Meat gets all the paleo glory, but beans bring the protein goodness, too, plus a fibre kick. As one of the top beans for fibre, kidneys get a gold star. Fresh ways to fill up Try them as snacks: toss dried canned beans with olive oil, smoked paprika, cayenne and garlic. Spread on a baking sheet and pop in a 200C oven for 45 minutes, or until crunchy. Or sauté in oil with garlic and onions, add chilli powder, and mash.
That stick-to-your-ribs sensation you get when you eat a bowl of porridge is doing you good. Like raspberries, wholegrain oats are packed with soluble fibre to slow down the digestive process and keep you away from midmorning snacks. Fresh ways to fill up For an interesting change, try savoury porridge toppings, such as marinara and mozzarella, on your usual bowl, or substitute oats for rice in a risotto. No, really, it works.
Fibre isn’t the only stay-full secret of these wholegrain kernels: air-popping means a 375g serving (without butter) rings in at a mere 100 calories or so, and research from Penn State University, US supports the idea that highvolume snacks will help quell hunger for longer. Fresh ways to fill up Crush and sprinkle on casseroles or macaroni cheese, or use it as a frozen-yoghurt topping to zap cravings with a salty-sweet hit.
It’s not just the shells that are tough – the cell walls of these nuts resist digestion, so you absorb only about one fifth of their fat. Plus, the jaw-pumping action required to eat them may help crack hunger; research has found that chewing can trigger your body’s fullness cues. Fresh ways to fill up Toast a handful and tuck them into chicken and veggie quesadillas for added crunch. Crush and sprinkle them on flatbread and top with feta and beetroot.
FUEL YOUR TRAINING AND MAKE YOUR WORK COLLEAGUES JEALOUS
KEFIR CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD Kefir is packed with gut-friendly probiotics 2 chicken breasts, sliced Olive oil Salt and pepper Cos lettuce 2 eggs, boiled and quartered
FOR THE BRITTLE 200ml honey 75g almonds 75g cashews 40g each sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds
FOR THE DRESSING 2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped (optional) 1 garlic clove, crushed 1 tsp Dijon mustard Squeeze of lemon 3 tbsp kefir 1 tbsp olive oil Salt and pepper 1 Heat the oven to 180C and prep the brittle. 2 Boil honey in a non-stick pan for 15 minutes until caramel coloured and gently bubbling.
3 Roast nuts and seeds in the oven for a few minutes, cluster them together and pour the hot honey over the top. 4 Once set, break into pieces. 5 Meanwhile, griddle the chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper. 6 Divide the chicken, lettuce leaves and boiled eggs between two plates; combine the dressing ingredients and pour over, along with the brittle.
MILD COCONUT FISH CURRY Perfect if you are planning an evening run session
1 tsp salt 1 tsp turmeric 4 sea bass fillets 200g chopped onion 3 tsp crushed garlic 30ml coconut oil 3 tsp hot green chilli sauce 20 curry leaves 400ml coconut milk 2 tbsp vegetable oil 200g express basmati rice Handful fresh coriander
CRUNCHY VEG SALAD Serves
1 Mix salt and turmeric, and rub it into the fish. 2 Fry onion and garlic in the coconut oil. 3 Add chilli sauce and curry leaves and cook until the onion is translucent. 4 Add coconut milk and simmer for eight minutes. 5 Meanwhile, fry the fish in the vegetable oil for seven minutes. Microwave the rice for two minutes. And that’s it.
Vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, fibre – and great taste ½ red cabbage, thinly sliced ¼ white cabbage, thinly sliced 1 cauliflower, chopped 75g mixed seeds (eg pumpkin, sunflower, sesame), toasted 75g of your nuts of choice, toasted ¼ red onion, finely chopped Handful of coriander leaves Handful of dried cranberries, finely chopped 2 chopped avocados FOR THE DRESSING 2 tsp agave syrup 1 tsp mustard juice of 1 lime 1 tbsp olive oil 1 tsp chilli flakes 2 tbsp soy sauce Salt and pepper Combine all the dressing ingredients. Then toss together the salad ingredients, pour over the dressing and that’s it.
MISO SALMON SOUP Salmon provides omega-3s Serves
Splash groundnut oil 1 portion dried miso soup 100g bok choi 150g straight-to-wok rice noodles 1 tsp garlic 3 tsp crushed fresh ginger 1 salmon fillet 1 tsp chilli flakes 1 tbsp fish sauce 1 tbsp soy sauce 1 spring onion Coriander leaves 1 Heat oil in a wok until smoking. 2 Make the miso soup in a jug using 160ml boiling water. Add chilli flakes, soy and fish sauce to the jug. 3 Chop the bok choi lengthways, then add to the wok. Stir-fry. Quickly add the noodles garlic and ginger, and sit the fish on top. 4 Pour the soup mix from the jug into the pan so it covers the fish and noodles. Simmer on a high heat for five mins, transfer to a bowl and sprinkle chopped spring onion and coriander.
FILLET OF HAKE WITH CHORIZO The hake provides a big hit of protein and the broccoli is heaving with vitamins and minerals 100g Puy lentils rinsed and drained 50g chorizo 150g Hake fillet 100g Broccoli Pinch of chopped red chilli
1 Rinse the lentils and boil in water for 15 minutes, or until they’re cooked, but retain a little bite. 2 Drain, then fry the chorizo – no oil required – and combine the two. 3 Place the hake on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 8-10 minutes at 180C. Next, bring a pan of water to the boil and add the broccoli, cooking for five minutes. Finally, plate it all up, sprinkle the fish with chilli and serve.
MEXICAN CEVICHE Serves
Citrus fruits are high in potassium, for hydration 300g hake or halibut, cubed 3 limes 1 lemon salt and pepper 1 jalapeño, sliced ½ red onion, chopped 1 avocado, cubed 8-10 cherry tomatoes, quartered Handful of cubed cucumber 1 red chilli, sliced Handful of coriander
QUINOA BURGER Serves
1 Place the fish in a glass bowl. Pour over the juice of 2 limes and the lemon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. 2 Cover with cling film and refrigerate until the fish is opaque and cured (you can toss it occasionally). 3 Remove fish from the marinade and place in a bowl with the other ingredients. 4 Add some zest from the third lime, then squeeze in some fresh juice. Season to taste.
A perfect protein hit for those who are gluten intolerant 80g mixed quinoa, rinsed 1 onion, diced ¼ green chilli, chopped ¼ garlic clove, crushed Splash of oil 1 egg, beaten 20g plain flour 2 tbsp breadcrumbs 1 spelt roll 2 tbsp yoghurt 20g papaya, chopped Chunk of cucumber, diced 2 lettuce leaves 1 Boil the quinoa for 20 mins and drain. Meanwhile, sauté the onion, chilli and garlic in a little oil. 2 In a bowl, mix the egg and flour, add the quinoa and onions, shape into a patty, coat in breadcrumbs and fry until golden. 3 Serve in the roll, topped with the yoghurt, papaya, cucumber and lettuce.
TUNA AND ALMOND POKĂ‰ BOWL Iodine in the seaweed helps keep you properly hydrated during exercise
300g sashimi-grade tuna, cut into 1cm cubes 1 small chopped red chilli 4 finely sliced spring onions 1 small avocado, cubed 30g almonds, chopped 1 tbsp soy sauce 1 tsp honey 60g (dry weight) basmati rice, cooked 1 sheet of nori, torn Handful
alfalfa sprouts Zest of 1 lime 1 tbsp black sesame seeds FOR THE DRESSING 1 tbsp sesame oil 2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce Juice of 1 lime Drizzle of honey 1 Place the tuna, red chilli, spring onions and avocado in a bowl. 2 In a pan, toss the almonds with the soy sauce and
honey and heat for 1 min until caramelised and sticky. Set aside to cool. 3 Mix together the dressing ingredients and pour over the fish mixture. 4 Divide rice between two bowls, top with the fish mixture. And garnish with nori, sprouts, lime zest and sesame seeds.
SAUSAGE ORECCHIETTE Comfort food with a hit of vitamin C from the broccoli
300g orecchiette 1 tbsp olive oil 225g pork sausage 2 tsp crushed garlic 225g broccoli florets Knob of butter 1 tsp chilli flakes Salt and pepper
LEMON CHICKEN COUSCOUS Serves
1 Boil the pasta in lightly salted water for 10 mins. 2 Slice the sausage evenly and cook in an oiled pan on a medium heat for 5-6 mins (let the pieces brown on one side before turning). Remove and set aside. 3 Add the garlic, broccoli and a splash of water to the pan, and cook until tender. Add sausage, butter, chilli and season to taste. 4 Add pasta to the frying pan with a splash of pasta water. Toss the mixture, then serve with a drizzle of oil to finish.
Protein for recovery, fibre to aid digestion 200g cooked chicken breast Zest and juice of Â˝ a lemon 2 tbsp olive oil 150g couscous 200ml chicken stock 125g cherry tomatoes 30g toasted pine nuts Large handful mint leaves Salt and black pepper 1 Place the chicken in a shallow dish and pour over the whiskedtogether lemon zest, juice, olive oil and seasoning. 2 Cover and leave in the fridge for 10 mins to marinate. 3 Place couscous in a bowl and pour over hot stock. After five mins, fluff up with a fork. 4 Fold in the tomatoes (halved), nuts and half the torn mint leaves. Season again. Top the couscous with the chicken, sprinkle with mint and any juices.
Fight Runner’s Fatigue STAY ENERGE TIC WHATE VER DISTANCE S YOU’RE TACKLING WITH THESE ANTI-FATIGUE TIPS
our breath’s getting shorter and faster and your legs feel increasingly like lead, yet you’ve barely started your run. With each step feeling more torturous than the last, you realise it’s time to take note and listen to your body. Welcome to runner’s fatigue – your body’s way of telling you it needs some TLC to carry on working as you want it to. Here’s how to ﬁght back.
R E C O V E R S T R ONG
S L E E P S OUNDLY
‘Sleep is when your body rests, repairs and recuperates, so getting enough is essential,’ says Jo Usmar, co-author of This Book Will Make You Sleep. ‘Monitoring your sleep via an app can help. When do you feel fatigued? What time did you go to bed? Did you wake up during the night? Going to bed and getting up at a similar time every day – yes, even at weekends – helps your body strengthen its circadian rhythm.’
‘Recovery is key when it comes to optimising running performance,’ says nutritionist Kim Pearson. ‘Tracking your food intake can help you structure your diet with the right macronutrients [proteins, fats and carbohydrates] and micronutrients [vitamins and minerals].’ Optimal levels of iron and vitamin D are also important, as deficiency can lead to fatigue, she warns. Help your muscles repair with runner-friendly recovery foods such as eggs, fish, rice, legumes, leafy green vegetables and olive oil.
T R A IN S M A R T ‘It’s important to understand the difference between tired and fatigued,’ says Luke Tyburski, running and mindset coach and author of Chasing Extreme. ‘The former is when you’re physically capable to continue at a certain level of intensity but feel tired from working hard, while fatigued is when your performance is declining. If you normally run a certain time for 7K but found you ran slower this week, maybe you’re fatigued and need a break. Try dropping the intensity or length of your next run, or just take a bit more time out – one extra rest day won’t stop you from improving, whereas overtraining might.’
E AT R IGH T
WO R D S : J O U S M A R
‘If runners aren’t fuelling up to power their runs, it’s highly likely their energy levels and performance will suffer,’ says Pearson. ‘Many runners rely on starchy carbs and neglect protein, which can result in fluctuating energy levels.’ New fat-free, sugar-free Maximuscle Plant Max is an easy way to top up your protein. It has similar protein levels to whey, but is sourced from pea (73%) and brown rice (12%), so it’s soy-free, making it suitable for plant-based diets or anyone looking for alternative protein sources.
Discover the new Maximuscle Plant Max range at maximuscle.com
SIMPLE RECIPE S TO FUEL YOUR TR AINING AND TICKLE YOUR TA STE BUDS
CHICKPEA AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH CURRY Vegan-friendly and soothing
1 tbsp coconut oil 1 onion, finely chopped 2 large garlic cloves, crushed 2-3 red chillies, finely chopped 1 tbsp garam masala 1 tsp ground turmeric 1 tsp ground cumin 1 tbsp chilli powder 1 tin of chopped tomatoes 500g butternut squash, chopped 500g sweet potato, chopped 1 tin of
coconut milk 1 tin of chickpeas Handful of coriander leaves Cooked rice, to serve 1 Heat the coconut oil in a large pot. Sauté the onion, garlic and chilli until translucent. 2 Then add the spices and continue to fry for two minutes. Add more oil if it gets sticky too quickly. Don’t let the garlic or spices burn. 3 Stir in the
tomatoes, reduce the heat to medium and add the butternut squash and coconut milk. 4 Add some water to make sure the squash is covered, then cook for 40 minutes. 5 Add the chickpeas and cook for a further 10 mins until the consistency has thickened. 6 Serve sprinkled with fresh chopped coriander and cooked basmati rice.
* B I O N A CO CO N U T B LO S S O M N E C TA R, £6.65 F O R 35 0 G , P L A N E TO R G A N I C.C O M
CHICKEN AND CASHEW NUT STIR FRY Serves
A 10-minute recipe 1 tbsp coconut oil 1½ tbsp chopped garlic 5 tbsp sambal oelek 400g chicken breasts, sliced 100g cashew nuts, toasted 2 tbsp oyster sauce 2 tbsp coconut blossom nectar 1 tsp soy sauce 2 onions, chopped 10-12 spring onions, sliced 1 tsp chilli oil jasmine rice, to serve
1 Heat the coconut oil in a wok, add the garlic and sambal oelek, and stir-fry for 60 secs. 2 Add the chicken, stir to coat in the sauce and cook for 2 mins. 3 Add the nuts, oyster sauce, coconut blossom nectar, soy and onion, and stir-fry until the onion and chicken are cooked. 4 Divide the stir-fry between four bowls, top with spring onions, and serve with jasmine rice and chilli oil.
Peas are high in vitamins Serves
FOR THE DIP 200ml Greek yoghurt 2 tbsp chopped dill 1 garlic clove, minced 1 tbsp olive oil 1 tsp horseradish paste ½ tsp honey ½ tsp lemon juice Salt and black pepper, to taste FOR THE FRITTERS 200g broccoli, chopped 100g parmesan, grated 200g frozen peas 1 egg, beaten 70g breadcrumbs ½ tsp salt ¼ tsp black pepper 1 tbsp olive oil 1 Combine dip ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate. 2 Heat the oven to 110C and line a tray with greaseproof paper. 3 Blend fritter ingredients except the oil. 4 Heat oil in a pan, split fritter mix into 12 patties and fry in batches for 4 mins each. 5 Serve with dill and horseradish cream.
ROAST CITRUS CHICKEN WITH ZESTY VEG Flavour- and nutrient-packed
Olive oil 2 red onions, cut into wedges 1 butternut squash, sliced 1 large sweet potato, sliced 1 whole chicken, giblets removed 1 orange, zested, halved (1â „2 sliced) 1 lemon, zested, halved, 1 half sliced 8 garlic cloves Handful of thyme 250ml white wine 1 tsp smoked paprika Salt and pepper
1 Heat the oven to 200C and grease a large oven dish. 2 Place onion slices in the centre, the squash on one side and sweet potato on the other. 3 Place the chicken breast-side down on top and stuff with orange slices, a couple of lemon slices, 4 garlic cloves and thyme. 4 Scatter remaining garlic and thyme on the veg and squeeze over the juice from the rest of the lemon
and orange. 5 Pour over wine, and sprinkle the zest and paprika over the lot. Season, wrap the tray in foil and place in the oven. 6 After 30 mins, remove foil, stir veg, turn the chicken and drizzle with oil. Cook for another 45 mins. The chicken is cooked if the juices run clear when you insert a knife into the thickest part of the flesh. 7 Slice the chicken and serve up.
TOFU/LENTIL CURRY A fantastic meat-free curry Serves
3 tbsp oil 100g chopped onion 1 crushed garlic clove 1 tbsp curry powder 1 tbsp ground ginger 100g grated carrot 100g sliced peppers 100g tinned lentils 240ml water 470ml coconut milk 250g firm tofu 1 tsp cumin seeds 1 tsp garam masala Pinch salt Coriander leaves
SWEET POTATO AND PUMPKIN STEAK Serves
1 Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Cook onion and garlic for 2 mins. 2 Add curry powder, ginger, carrot and peppers, and cook, 2 mins. 3 Add lentils, water and coconut milk: bring to the boil. Simmer until lentils are soft. 4 Rinse and cube the tofu. In a pan, heat 2 tbsp of oil. Add cumin and cook, 1 min. 5 Add tofu, leave 2 mins, then fry. Add garam and salt. Cook 2 mins. Add tofu to lentils. Cook 5 mins. Serve with coriander.
Sweet potatoes are loaded with Vitamin C 300g sweet potato, cubed 100g sirloin steak Salt & pepper Â˝ tbsp coconut oil 1 garlic clove, chopped 25g pumpkin seeds Sprig of fresh parsley, chopped Pinch of paprika 1 Place sweet potato in a bowl with a little water and cover with clingfilm. Microwave for 3-4 mins. 2 As that cooks, season the steak and place in a griddle pan with the oil and garlic. Cook for 3-4 mins on each side for medium-rare. 3 Let the steak rest for a minute, before slicing and plating up with the sweet potato. 4 Sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds and chopped parsley, then finish with a generous pinch of paprika.
SPICY BEAN STEW Beans provide lasting energy
Olive oil 1 large red onion, finely chopped 4 celery sticks, chopped 2 carrots, peeled and grated 2 large garlic cloves, crushed 1 tsp smoked paprika 1 tsp cumin seeds 1 tsp cayenne pepper 2 tins of chopped tomatoes 2 large red peppers, chopped 1 tbsp tomato paste 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
125ml red wine Salt and pepper 3 tins beans (borlotti, black beans, kidney or butter) 250ml-500ml vegetable stock 1 lemon Coriander, to serve sliced avocado. 1 Add oil to a large pan and sauté red onion, celery and carrots for 8-10 mins. 2 Add garlic, spices and a little oil, if needed, sauté for 5 more mins,
then add tomatoes, red peppers, tomato paste, vinegar, red wine, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. 3 Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hr. 4 Add the beans and enough stock to cover everything. Simmer for an hour over a medium heat, stirring occasionally. 5 Serve sprinkled with lemon zest, a squeeze of juice, coriander and sliced avocado.
MEATBALLS WITH SPAGHETTI A hit of protein and carbs
215g beef mince 1 egg, beaten Herbs of your choice, chopped 2 tsp olive oil ½ garlic clove ½ onion 25g courgette 50g tomatoes 400g tin of tomatoes 25g aubergine, diced 1 tsp balsamic vinegar 125g brown rice spaghetti
SHIITAKE AND BROCCOLI NOODLES Serves
1 Mix beef, egg and herbs and roll into balls. Chill in the fridge, then fry with half the oil for 8-10 mins. Sit them on kitchen paper to absorb fat. 2 Chop garlic, onion and courgette, and sweat in oil for 15 mins. 3 Add tomatoes and cook for 15 mins. 4 Meanwhile, roast the aubergine at 190C until golden, then add to the sauce, with vinegar. 5 Cook on low heat for 45 mins. Add meatballs, cook through and serve with pasta.
Broccoli helps your body fight postrun inflammation 1 tsp coconut oil 4-5 spring onions, sliced 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed 1 chilli, sliced Knob of ginger, grated 75g mushrooms, sliced 100g sugar-snap peas, sliced 100g long-stem broccoli, chopped Handful spinach 2 tbsp soy sauce 2 tbsp mirin 2 tbsp sake Rice noodles, cooked Coriander 1 lime 1 Heat oil in a wok, add spring onions and sauté for 2 mins; add garlic, chilli and ginger. Add mushrooms. 2 Once cooked, add green veg and the soy, mirin and sake. 3 Sauté for 1 min, then add the noodles and stir-fry until cooked through. 4 Serve topped with coriander and a squeeze of lime.
BRE AK DOWN YOUR INTAKE INTO KE Y FOOD GROUP S TO MAKE SMA SHING YOUR NUTRITION GOAL S A WHOLE LOT E A SIER
Make mine a macro
Here’s a lip-smacking scenario for any runner: you’re at dinner with friends, there’s lasagne, red wine and cake – and you can have whatever you like, because even though you’re eating sensibly, you are not obsessively counting every calorie that goes into your body (never a terribly healthy idea, anyway), which gives you greater flexibility when it comes to food. That sort of scenario is the dream for most of us – and it can be a reality when you stop focusing solely on calories and start counting macros instead. Macros is shorthand for macronutrients, a term used to describe the three key food groups you require for your body to function: carbohydrates (to fuel energy), fats (often seen as the villain but they support cell growth, protect your organs and keep you warm, as well as provide energy) and proteins (to build and repair muscle). Get the right balance of these macronutrients and you will not only maintain a weight in your natural healthy range but you’ll also become more effective at burning fat and building lean muscle to power your runs. It’s the method that many professional athletes and people working in the
fitness industry have been following for years, recognising that not all calories are created equal: 10 calories of fat will be used entirely differently by the body than, say, 10 calories of carbs. ‘The best healthy way of eating is the one that’s sustainable long-term,’ explains personal trainer Russ Howe, who has seen many of his clients achieve superior results through counting macros. ‘A macronutrient approach eliminates boredom,’ he adds. Focusing on the nutritional content of foods puts you back in the driving seat, says Emma Rose, a nutritionist at Fresh Fitness Food. ‘Runners who are not tracking their macros are probably not conscious of where their calories are coming from.’ Plus, macros mean that nothing is off limits – and that’s the kind of maths we appreciate most.
Crunch your numbers » Use the equation below to calculate
THE EATING PLAN FOR YOUR GOALS We’ve done the sums to make the maths of macronutrients easy to digest. All you need to do is choose your health goal – and start eating smart
IN TE O PR
your recommended daily calorie intake, then check the pie charts, right, to see how to split them across your macros depending on your health objectives.
RBS 50% CA
TO BUILD STRENGTH
CALCULATE YOUR ACTIVITY LEVEL
FOR FAT LOSS
% 30 S RB CA
As you lose weight, you may need to recalculate – the less you weigh, the less fuel you need. You’ll need to recalculate if your activity levels change, too.
RBS CA % 0 5 45-
Multiply your BMR by your activity level for your daily recommended calorie intake
FOR CARDIO FITNESS
Heavy exercise (6-7 times per week) 1.725
1 P 5R OT20% EI N
Moderate exercise (3-5 times per week) 1.55
Light exercise (1-3 times per week) 1.375
20 -3 0%
Little or no exercise, desk job 1.2
Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the number of calories you burn with no activity. BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age)
HE A LT H Y A ND E A SY WAYS TO S AT ISF Y YOUR CR AV ING S F OR T HO SE SUG A RY DEL IGH T S
5-MINUTE MOUSSE Cacao (from which chocolate is made) is rich in antioxidants, while the banana and avocado are high in potassium, which helps lower your blood pressure
1 banana, frozen 2 avocados 60ml sweetener of choice (eg agave, honey, maple syrup or coconut blossom nectar) 25g raw cacao powder 3-4 tbsp coconut cream Berries, to decorate 1 Place all of the ingredients in a blender and process until the consistency is thick, smooth and mousse-like.
2 Serve with berries. You can even freeze it and serve as an ice-cream alternative.
CHOCOLATE ORANGE BROWNIES A super-indulgent dessert that’s ready in 15 minutes
4 extra-large eggs 200g dark chocolate (minimum 85% cocoa) Juice and zest of 2 oranges 60ml honey Seeds from 1 vanilla pod 1 tsp baking powder 150g almond flour 1 tbsp coconut oil Raspberries, to serve (optional)
KIWI ICE LOLLIES Serves
1 Heat the oven to 180C, whisk the eggs and melt the chocolate in a saucepan. 2 Add orange juice and zest to eggs, then whisk in the honey and vanilla. 3 Pour in the chocolate and mix well, then gently stir in baking powder and almond flour. 4 Grease a baking tin with coconut oil. Pour in the mixture and bake for 12-15 mins. Serve with raspberries (optional).
Kiwi fruit has been found to help with that crucial recovery tool – sleep 2 kiwis, chopped Handful of baby spinach 5 mint leaves Apple juice, to top up 1 Blitz all of the ingredients in a blender. Divide between 4 ice lolly trays and pour in as much apple juice as needed to fill the moulds – make sure everything is well combined. 2 Add an ice-cream stick and freeze overnight or for at least four hours.
GLOW GRANOLA A crunchy treat without the chemical nasties found in some shop-bought versions
2 tbsp grated ginger 30g desiccated coconut 100g macadamia nuts, chopped 50g coconut flakes 50g almonds, chopped 50g pumpkin seeds 10 medjool dates, chopped Pinch of ground cinnamon Pinch of ground nutmeg 8 tbsp coconut oil 1 Heat the oven to 180C and mix all ingredients in a large bowl, making sure coconut oil coats everything evenly. 2 Spread the mixture out on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 15 mins, or until golden brown. 3 Allow to cool, then pop it into a large sealable container. Multiple snack times, sorted.
COCONUT AND BANANA ICE CREAM A versatile vegan ice cream 2 tins of coconut cream 3 bananas 60ml sweetener of choice (eg agave, honey) 1 vanilla pod
1 Start this recipe two days before. Place the tins of coconut cream in the fridge so the thick cream separates from the liquid. Chop the bananas and freeze overnight. 2 The next day, remove the tins from the fridge and scoop the white cream into a blender (use the clear liquid in smoothies). 3 Add the bananas and your sweetener, then scrape in the seeds from the vanilla pod. Pulse until a very thick liquid forms, then pour into a container and freeze overnight. 4 Scoop the ice cream into bowls and add fruit or nuts.
OAT, SEED, NUT BARS The ultimate portable snack Serves
1 tsp coconut oil, to grease tray 240g rolled oats 30g cacao nibs 100g pistachios, chopped 50g almonds, chopped 50g pumpkin seeds 50g goji berries 30g coconut flour 40g coconut flakes 375ml almond milk 5 dates, chopped 2 bananas
STRAWBERRY CHIA POT Serves
1 Heat oven to 120C and grease an oven tray. Place ingredients (minus milk, dates and bananas). Mix, then form a well in the centre. 2 Heat 250ml milk and the dates in a pan until a syrup forms. Pour into oat mixture and combine. 3 Blend bananas and remaining milk to form a thick liquid. Stir this into oat mixture. 4 Press mixture into the tray and bake one hour; turn oven up to 150C, bake 20 mins, until edges are golden. Cool and serve.
Chia seeds are a fantastic plant source of protein, calcium and omega-3s 6 large strawberries 20g coconut flakes 40g chia seeds 1 tbsp agave syrup 125ml almond milk 2 tbsp cacao nibs A few torn mint leaves 1 Mash up the strawberries, then stir in the coconut flakes. 2 Mix in the chia seeds and agave syrup, then dollop the mixture into a jar. 3 Pour in the almond milk and top with cacao nibs and torn mint. 4 Set aside, and while youâ€™re running, those chia seeds will swell nicely.