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MARCH 2017 – £4.50


“OF COURSE THERE IS GOING TO BE PAIN” Sébastien Chaigneau, downhill champion





Fuel up and slim down with our expert advice

Get stronger, run for longer (and stay injury-free)



Epic running Love and laces: adventures you is running the can do in one day new Tinder?


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MARCH 2017

Editorial director David Castle Assistant editor Isaac Williams Tel: 020 8996 5089 Art editor James Wilkinson Social media editor Melody Smith


Multimedia editor Josh Puttock Contributors Robbie Britton, Steve Way, Martin Yelling, Renee McGregor, Ceri Rees, Jim Old, Rob Griffiths, Matt Maynard, Damian Hall, Laura Fountain, Peter Liddiard, Tim Major, James Carnegie, Michael Donlevy, Jonny Muir, Mark Shearman, Rick Pearson, Dan Stinton



To advertise call 020 8996 5058


hen I first started at MR – a fresh-faced graduate with fully functioning knees – I ran to keep fit. Did I do it? Yes. Did I enjoy it? No. Fast-forward two years and things are a little different... 2016 saw me run my first marathon, my first ultra and – the natural progression – my first 24-hour track race. People talk of the running bug, but this was a full-scale pandemic. In the months that followed, though, I got lazy. The thought of running elicited a vacant stare, a memory of plodding round a 400m track at three in the morning, and the muttered words, “You weren’t there, man.” So, resolved to refind my running mojo in 2017, I signed up to a race, the Brixton 10K (p94), in the hope that it would spark me back to life. And, along with providing depressing confirmation of just how much slower I’ve got, it certainly did that; the post-race feeling reminding me just why I fell in love with running in the first place. For many, though, running’s true benefit lies not in racing but in the adventures it brings. In our lead feature this issue (p46), photographer James Carnegie leads us on a whistle-stop tour of Northern Ireland to prove that, with just a little planning, a day is all you need to run some of the finest routes the UK has to offer. You may not find me scrambling up the Mourne Mountains any time soon, but you will find me running again. Here’s to getting back on track in 2017.

Commercial director Allan Pattison Tel: 020 8996 5058 Advertising manager Cristina Slattery Lopez Tel: 020 8996 5167 Advertising sales executive Alex Sage Tel: 020 8896 5090 Senior marketing executive Paul Clayton Commerical editor Angelina Manzano Managing director Nick Troop Published by Wild Bunch Media Ltd Gable House, 18-24 Turnham Green Terrace, London W4 1QP Tel: 020 8996 5100 Licensing and syndication Allan Pattison Tel: 020 8996 5058 Printed by William Gibbons Tel: 01902 730011

TO SUBSCRIBE CALL 0844 245 6920

Distribution by Marketforce (UK), 2nd Floor 5 Churchill Place, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5HU No part of this magazine may be copied, reproduced or stored in a retrieval system without prior written consent of the publisher. © Wild Bunch Media Ltd 2014. Men’s Running is a UK publication, published by Wild Bunch Media Ltd, and is not associated with any other men’s running magazines.

To subscribe call 0844 245 6920 UK standard annual subscription rate is £29.97 Europe standard annual subscription rate is £50 Rest of World standard annual subscription rate is £80


Photographer and trail runner James Carnegie takes a flight to Northern Ireland to prove a day is all you need for an epic running adventure (p46).


Freelance journalist and old romantic Michael Donlevy meets the happy couples who found true love through their shared love of running (p52).


Legendary athletics photographer Mark Shearman MBE reveals his most memorable year from a career spanning over five decades (p60). ISSN 2042-972X


Turn to page 36 and find out how you can subscribe and get three issues for £1

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SUBSCRIBE TODAY! see page 36 for details

Cover photo: Asics



Day trippers

James Carnegie proves that the best of the UK can be run in a day


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Anatomy of a runner Cigars and sand dunes: Australian middle-distance legend Herb Elliott Gentleman’s guide Our guide to running etiquette reveals the art of over-taking Cross-training Bounder Isaac Williams jumps at the chance of trying plyometrics Treatment room Why poor hip mobility might be leading to knee pain Stronger and longer Resident coach Martin Yelling on why strength training is critical Workout Toe the line: do this full foot workout for better running economy

26  28  30 


In the news The need-to-know facts and figures from the world of running My running life parkrun founder Paul SintonHewitt’s running heroes and life lessons Survivor’s guide Sandals, seeds and sanskrit tattoos: meet the running hippy Way’s world Why adding some pace into your long runs can pay dividends The vaults Middle-distance legends Cram and Ovett clash in an epic 1983 race Superfood Packed full of powerful antioxidants, cherries are a go-to fruit for runners Recipes Back to your roots: two earthy vegetable dishes to power your runs Fat to fit How MR reader Brian Lewis shed seven stone and became a coach Runner’s digest Renee reveals why running doesn’t always mean weight loss

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© James Carnegie

32  34  38  40  42  44 

52  56  60 

True romance Meet the couples who bonded over their love of running Summit special Donnie Campbell’s awe-inspiring Ramsay Round record A year in running: 2012 Mark Shearman’s most iconic snaps


Big Marathon Challenge Find out how the team is faring


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King of the mountain What goes up must come down: the art of downhill running Are you tough enough? An insider’s guide to arguably the toughest 10K in Britain


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Running tech Stryd’s wearable running power meter in the spotlight Trail shoes We put seven of the best offroad shoes through their paces


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Running blind A race with no course map? Welcome to The Drop Buster move Rick Pearson busts a rut with the New Year’s Eve Gut Buster Bucket List Take a trip to the world’s most populous city with the Tokyo Marathon


13/01/2017 15:01

“We don’t stop when we’re tired, we stop when we’re done” Andrei, Marie Curie Nurse What motivates you? Like Andrei, who cares for people living with a terminal illness through the night, or the runner training hard for race day to help fund our services, we are all driven by something. Find your drive with us and sign up today to run for Marie Curie.

Charity reg no. 207994 (England & Wales), SC038731 (Scotland) B215f Photo: Adam Hinton/Marie Curie

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Twelve weeks into a training cycle and with a big race coming up I felt invincible: parkrun PB’s, hitting target pace in hard sessions and feeling stronger than ever. Then disaster struck... bursitis! A month later and zero miles run, I now have a new perspective – one that will change my outlook on running for good! Although I don’t feel myself without my daily run, I realise how much of a gift it was to be able to lace up my trainers in the first place and I’m thankful to have my health and be part of a running community even when I can’t run. In my injured state, I am trying not to wallow but instead focus on giving something back to a sport I am passionate about by volunteering at my local parkrun,


supporting club mates at races and focusing on getting stronger and more resilient so injury doesn’t sideline me again. Everyone will get injured at some point in their running career; the important thing is how you deal with it. Ben Caughers, County Down Ed: It’s easy to get obsessed with split times and PBs, without taking time to reflect on why we run. It sounds like that’s exactly what your injury has allowed you to do, and I’m sure you’ll return a stronger runner for it. Plus, when you do run again, you can flaunt your brand new Soar Running kit!

The writer of this month’s star letter receives a Soar Running voucher worth £100. Soar creates stylish, high-performance kit made from the best materials

WORTH £100


I’ve recently upped my training in a bid to find some form before my first half marathon of the year, but have come across a nutritional problem. Training four or five times a week and working full-time means I’m constantly pretty tired and hungry. What can I do to help combat this? I’m eating quite a bit more than I did before, but I’m struggling to get enough quality protein and carbohydrate into my diet – could sports supplements be the way forward? Jason Poole, Derby Ed: If it’s protein and carbohydrate you’re lacking, a couple of servings of whey protein powder a day might help, but it’s important that you take a look at your existing diet before looking for outside solutions: cut out the junk, eat lots of wholefoods and make sure you eat a balanced meal soon after running.


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exercise and far too much food and drink, I ran for the first time in weeks a few days ago. Needless to say, it didn’t go particularly well… Within five minutes I was horribly out of breath and what was supposed to be a 10K was reduced to 5K for fear that I wouldn’t otherwise return before nightfall (after setting off at 10 in the morning)! So here’s to a healthy 2017; things can only get better! Tom Granger, Aylesbury Ed: Arresting the slump after a few weeks off is never easy, Tom, but get a few runs under your belt and you’ll be fighting fit!



@IngledewStephen – Post run drink after #Edinburgh ‘Kenyan Hills’ @markkenna – Fitness-phobe to ultra-marathon running in 3yrs. Thank you to my friends & family for all your support – It’s Never Too Late! @MensRunningUK

@derekchambers72 – @MensRunningUK very handy if I’m caught short @jones_runs – Advice from @myelling in @MensRunningUK “run when you can”, a cold 4 miler whilst daughter at gymnastics


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Mourne Mountains

Spectacular views over County Down, Northern Ireland, as Matt Buck leads Sean Conway as they run up the Mourne Wall – for more on their impromtu adventure, head to page 46.

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Redbull Dune Busters

Runners tackle the gruelling 10K sand race on Stockton Beach, Newcastle, Australia. A physical and mental test, runners can choose between the quick (hard) way up or the long way round.

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Pictures from the pain cave: a gallery of your grizzliest mid-race gurns. Send in your snaps!




Andrew Bowles Vitality Brighton Half Ma rathon

Mike Barber Great South Run

Ian Gronwalt Cornish Marathon

Mike Drover Andover parkrun

Andrew Bowles wins a ‘Wash Bag Set’ from ManCave: the supremeperformance, natural men’s grooming range with a premium fragrance 12 • March 2017

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Martin Morgan Chingford League Cross Country

Tim Brown Berlin Marathon

Want to share your Race Face? email @mensrunninguk

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© Great Run/PA

Two-time Olympic champion and recently knighted Sir Mo Farah finished a distant seventh in the recent Great Edinburgh Cross Country, as teammate Callum Hawkins (pictured) continued his impressive last 12 months with a hard-fought second place. Scotland’s Hawkins, ninth in the Rio Olympic marathon, was beaten into second by USA’s Leonard Korir in a dramatic sprint, after leading from the gun until the final 15m. “I put everything into dropping him but he was the stronger man at the end,” the Scot said. Farah finished 46 seconds adrift of Korir, with 2016 champion Garrett Heath of the United States in sixth. “It was a hard day at the office,” Farah told BBC Sport. “I’m a little bit behind where I would usually be at this stage of the season. But I’m not panicking this early on in the year – I’ve got to get ready for London 2017.”



A study reported in BMC Medicine that looked at more than 800,000 participants has found that eating at least 20g of nuts a day can reduce risk of heart disease by 30%, cancer by 15%, bring a 40% reduction in diabetes and half the deaths from respiratory disease.   The study’s co-author, Dagfinn Aune from Imperial College London, said: “We found a consistent reduction in risk across many different diseases.  It’s quite a substantial effect for such a small amount of food.” Nutritionist and author Juliette Bryant says, “If eaten roasted and salted the delicate fats can actually be changed into something harmful, and lead to storage of fat in the body. However, if nuts are eaten raw, the body easily processes the essential fats, which support overall health.”

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Words Isaac Williams / David Castle


12/01/2017 17:17



“Having recently taken the plunge and joined my local running club, I’ve taken my first tentative steps into the muddy world of cross-country. My first race, however, was more of a prolonged slide than a run – such is the lack of grip on my shoes. Do I need to invest in a grippier pair of trail shoes, or are cross-country spikes the way forward? Len Jones, Cardiff Get a grip, man! No, literally, get some grip. Whether you choose spikes or off-road shoes depends on how serious you are about your new-found love. Spikes definitely offer better grip, are lighter and less likely to clog with mud. However, the cross-country season is short so, for the best bang for your buck, get a low-profile pair of trail shoes with an aggressive outsole. Team MR


BEKELE VS. BIWOT AT THE VMLM Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele tops the list of world-class contenders announced for the men’s elite race at the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday 23 April. Already a triple Olympic champion and double world record holder on the track, Bekele became the world’s second fastest marathon runner of all time when he won the 2016 Berlin Marathon last September. Stanley Biwott, who won the 2015 New York City Marathon, is likely to be Bekele’s main rival as he leads the Kenyan challenge in the absence of two-time champion Eliud Kipchoge. Former European 10,000m silver medallist Chris Thompson flies the flag for Britain on home roads as he targets a place in British Athletics’ London 2017 World Championship team.

CALLING ALL ULTRA RUNNERS! Salomon is on a mission to find the next stars of ultrarunning, with its Salomon Ultra Running Academy 2017. The Salomon Ultra Running Academies will be organised on three continents: North America, Europe and Asia-Oceania. Eight women and eight men will be selected to spend a week of training with the legends of the discipline, sharing with the experts of the sport and the Salomon product developers. Gregory Vollet, Salomon’s International Sports Marketing Manager, said, “Above all, it’s about sharing the passion. The great thing about enthusiasm is that it’s contagious!,”   The European Salomon Ultra Running academies will take place in Annecy, France, in May. Sixteen runners will be selected for each academy. The best man and the best woman for each one will be invited to participate in the Chamonix 80K in France at the end of June and then to the Trans Alpines. Registration is now open: March 2017 • 15

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Interview Rick Pearson Photography parkrun


11/01/2017 14:59


MY RUNNING LIFE Paul Sinton-Hewitt

The parkrun founder talks heroes, greatest runs and how running can benefit your physical and mental health What does running mean to you? Right from the word go, running was a means for me to regulate my mind. Every day that I run is a day that I feel decent about myself. I have had depression before, and I knew right from an early age that running was a way to manage it. It doesn’t matter how successful someone is – or how successful someone seems to be – everybody has their own demons, and we all need a way to release them. I’m just lucky I’ve got running. Who, if anyone, is your running hero? When I was a kid, I looked up to Bruce Fordyce. He won the Comrades Marathon nine years in a row. I met him through a friend of mine and ended up crewing for him at Comrades. Growing up in South Africa and being part of the running scene, and then seeing Bruce fight so hard to win those races, was the most amazing thing in the world. If you could go for a run with anyone, past or present, who would it be? Usain Bolt. Firstly, I don’t think he’s

cheated. Secondly, he’s much more than a runner. He epitomises what I’d like to see more of in the running community: he’s an individual who’s interesting; he appeals to everyone; he’s an ambassador; he’s absolutely brilliant. If we’re talking about nonathletes, however, I would choose Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama – in that order. Those two people are the most meaningful individuals that have been in my lifetime.

everyone should do it. Physical activity is one of the most important things that a human being can do. All the other things are important too, of course, but the physical side of living is what helps you deal with all of the other stresses and challenges. Doing some kind of physical activity brings balance to your life.

What was your greatest ever run? Purely in terms of performance, it would have to be my 2:36 marathon PB – although I always wanted to run under 2:30. In terms of a race, it’s probably the Valentine’s 10K I ran a number of years ago. I ended up having a head-to-head with a chap called Roy Reeder. He’d trailed me the whole race. About half a mile from the finish, Roy overtook me. Then, with 100m to go, I sped up and overtook him on the line. It was very satisfying!

What’s non-runners’ biggest misconception about running? Non-runners think they can’t run. In parkrun’s life, there are millions of stories of people who’ve said, “I didn’t think I can do it, but I’m doing it now.” Running is hard, but everyone has the ability to regulate just how hard it is. The trick is to start with something reasonable: instead of a kilometre run, try a halfkilometre run. Or try a walk-run-jog. Everybody is capable of running unless they’re suffering from a specific disability or acute injury. Everybody can run, and everybody should run.

What’s the greatest lesson running has taught you? That everyone can do it, and that

Finally, describe yourself as a runner in one word. Average.

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Peace, man! Meet the chia-chomping, sandal-wearing, tattoo-sporting running hippy




HEADBAND: Because when you’re running free, there’s no time for trivial things like haircuts. The headband keeps his carefree locks out of his eyes, and also looks totally rad.

NECKLACE: Handed to him by a North American shaman, the necklace is said to bring happiness, good fortune and a hearty dose of cliché to all who wear it.

PACK OF CHIA SEEDS: Because energy gels are so full of additives, man. The running hippy fuels his run on nothing but chia. He plans on growing his own, but until then he’s happy to spend £10 per organically grown pack.

COPY OF BORN TO RUN: Like a bare-chested missionary, the running hippy is on a one-man quest to spread the barefoot revolution. Non-barefoot-believers simply have to be converted, because although they’ve been running perfectly well up till now, they are blind to the evil that cushions their feet.

TOPLESS : When he’s nailing those gnarly descents in Boulder, Colorado, the running hippy can’t be confined by cloth: he needs to feel the wind against his chest, to be at one with the elements, and to get some air to his latest tattoo.

RUNNING SANDALS: An extension of his holistic approach to life, sandals allow the running hippy to stay in tune with his body and his surroundings.

SANSKRIT TATTOO : While running through the foothills in northern India, something a local farmer said really made an impression on the running hippy: something about peace and love. Unfortunately, he caught the tattoo artist on a bad day, and what’s written on his leg is far from peaceful, but hey, it looks cool.

BORN TO RUN Chris McDougall’s bestselling book focuses on the Tarahumara Indians of the Copper Canyons in Mexico. Discovering that they can run for hundreds of miles at a time, with nothing but sandals on their feet, McDougall concludes that heavily cushioned running shoes are to blame for most injuries; numbing our senses and leaving us out of tune with our bodies. Up next month: the running hipster

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Words Isaac Williams Illustration Peter Liddiard


12/01/2017 17:20


THE UK SPECIALISTS IN RUNNING SHOES, GAIT ANALYSIS, BIOMECHANICAL ANALYSIS & CUSTOM INSOLES “ Running 261km in 24 hours means you need to look after your feet and no one does a better job than Profeet.” Robbie Britton Team GB Ultra runner

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If you’re going to put yourself through hell, you might as well do it in heaven.



The Event Frontrunners

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Elite insights from former ‘fat bloke’ turned celebrated marathon man Steve Way


LONG RUN INTERVALS With the relevant warm-up and warm-down distance either side – to make up the necessary mileage for your long run – add the following interval session in the middle: ■ 24min/18min/12min/6min/3min


Start off with the 24-minute effort at target marathon pace and then make each interval slightly quicker, with three-minute jog recoveries between them. Give it everything you’ve got left for the threeminute interval!


Got a question for Steve? Tweet us: @mensrunninguk


Long running is what makes a marathon runner. It’s as simple as that. If I were to prioritise my top three runs during an average week of marathon training they would be my long run, my second long run and my midweek long run! But how fast should you run it? You’ll get a hundred different answers and that’s perfect, as variation in your long run is not only key to a high level of stimulus and performance improvement but it also keeps things interesting. There is a time and a place for the classic Sunday ‘Long Slow Run’; it’s perfect for the day after a big tempo session or a bit of cross-country when the legs are a bit tender. Meet up with friends and go for a social run where your target is simply time on feet, just don’t get to marathon weekend and find that’s all you’ve done, otherwise you’ll be nowhere near your potential.

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When you decide to incorporate some speed into your long run, make sure you have at least two easy days beforehand. If you are good with selfdiscipline then you can incorporate a race in the middle of your long run which will help massively when it comes to hitting your pace targets. In the later stages of marathon training, I will quite often use a local half marathon in the middle of a 20-mile run, running it at marathon pace or just a little slower. And what about those weeks you want to test out your speed with a shorter Sunday race? You may not be able to fit in a long run at the weekend but, if you can, make sure you have at least one midweek run which is slighter longer to compensate. Drop some speedwork if necessary; I promise you’ll see the benefits come marathon day.



Started a really heavy phase of marathon training and it’s all getting a bit tough? A really simple way to help your body cope is to go to bed earlier; you’ll be shocked what an extra half an hour of sleep a night will do for your training – and it involves no extra work!


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Our Half Marathon Training Guide and Marathon Training Guide are both on sale now at the App Store via the Men’s Running App – they are your perfect training partners! 100





£2.99 Each guide features… ■ Step-by-step training plans ■ Tips on building mileage ■ Injury prevention ■ Nutrition advice

Download now from the App Store! MR74_021.indd 21

11/01/2017 15:36


Take a trip down memory lane with our selection of snaps from years gone by





he look says it all: Steve Cram (right), recently crowned king of the world over 1500m has a grin on his face as he holds off the fastfinishing Steve Ovett in the mile race at Crystal Palace in 1983. Cram was on the up and yet to reach his best; on this night he beat his arch-rival by a mere 15 hundredths of a second - a small gap but it signalled a changing of the guard.

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Photography Mark Shearman


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CHERRIES Cherries are chock full of powerful antioxidants to soothe aching muscles WHAT ARE THEY? This superfruit from the genus Prunus is a ‘drupe’ (stone fruit) native to Eastern Europe and Asia Minor. Its cousins include plums, peaches and apricots. We humans usually eat two species of cherry: wild or sweet-cherry and sour or tart-cherry, either fresh, frozen or canned. Turkey is the top cherry producing nation, harvesting about 500,000 tonnes a year! WHAT DO I DO WITH THEM? Sweet cherries, once washed, can be eaten whole or in fruit salads or added into cakes, breads, muffins and cookies when dried. Tart cherries are used in sauces, jams and pie-fillings. Tart cherry juice concentrate is a favourite drink of athletes; a University of Vermont study shows the red pigment acts like an anti-inflammatory drugs, helping recovery from arthritis and sports injuries. WHY ARE THEY GOOD FOR MY HEALTH? They can help your body fight against cancers, ageing and neurological diseases due to the antioxidants lutein, zea-canthin and beta carotene. Cherries can reduce your risk of heart disease, too, as their antiinflammatory properties scavenge against free radicals. Research has shown cherries can reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. One variety, the West Indian cherry, has exceptionally high levels of vitamin C and vitamin A. Snacking on one handful of cherries every day will do you the world of good, in body and mind.

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Words Tina Chantrey Photography


12/01/2017 11:44

M A R AT H O N | H A L F M A R AT H O N | D U O M A R AT H O N | 5 M I L E R U N




29 OCTOBER 2017 L U C E R N E


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11/01/2017 17:08

FAST FOOD Eat Well Every Day, by Clean Eating Alice, is published by Harper Collins and priced at £14.99

HARD TO BEET Beetroot energy balls for the perfect pre- or mid-run snack CARBOHYDRATE RICH



Easy-to-carry energy balls packed full of the endurance-boosting properties of beetroot


Makes 12 ■ 100g hazelnuts ■ 1 large cooked beetroot, peeled and chopped (about 100g) ■ 2 ripe bananas, peeled and chopped ■ 225g rolled oats ■ 2 tbsp maple syrup ■ 1 tsp ground cinnamon ■ 5 tbsp chia seeds


1. Tip the hazelnuts into a dry frying pan. Place over a medium heat and toast until golden, shaking the pan often. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. 2. In a food processor, blitz the beetroot and bananas to a smooth purée. Add the oats, maple syrup, toasted hazelnuts and cinnamon and blitz again until the mixture forms a smooth paste. Place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. 3. Tip the chia seeds on to a plate and gently shake to evenly spread out. Line another plate with greaseproof paper. 4. Using your hands, take small amounts of the chilled mixture and roll it into balls before rolling in the chia seeds to coat. 5. Place on the lined plate and chill in the fridge for about an hour. If not eating straight away, store in an airtight container in the fridge.

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23g FAT




11/01/2017 15:12


CHILLI CHARGE Butternut squash and quinoa chilli to power your long run CARBOHYDRATE RICH



A great dish to have the night before a race; vitamin-rich and full of slow-release carbs


Serves 2 ■ 70g quinoa, rinsed ■ 1 tbsp coconut oil ■ 1 red onion, peeled and finely diced ■ 1 garlic glove, peeled and minced ■ 1 tsp ground cumin ■ 1 tsp chilli powder ■ 400g butternut squash, peeled and cubed ■ 800g tinned chopped tomatoes ■ 200g tinned red kidney beans, drained ■ ¼ bunch of fresh coriander leaves, chopped ■ 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced ■ Greek yogurt, to serve


1. Put the quinoa into a bowl, cover with boiling water and set aside to soak. 2. Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat until melted. Add the onion and garlic and fry for 5–7 minutes until softened, stirring often and adding the spices for the final minute. 3. Add the butternut squash and cook for 5 minutes, then add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes 4. Drain the quinoa and add to the pan along with a tin’s worth of water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for a further 15 minutes, or until the squash is tender, adding a splash of water if needed. 5. Add the kidney beans for the final 2 minutes to warm through, then serve scattered with coriander, chilli and a dollop of Greek yogurt.





10g FAT



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Determined to get fit after a reality-check moment, Brian Lewis began running, lost seven stone, ran a few ultramarathons, and decided he enjoyed it enough to become a qualified coach



ach day I would look in the mirror and think, “How did I become so big? How can I lose this weight?!” And then I would go back to eating junk. I had a sedentary job and would snack on crisps, chocolate, and bottles and bottles of cola. At age 40, I was 6ft tall and tipping the scales at 19-and-a-half stone. What started me on my fitness journey was biting into a crusty roll and losing a back tooth. From that day, I stopped drinking fizzy drinks and cut back sugary food as much as possible. I started walking more and more, and the weight began to drop off. I was inspired to volunteer for the Torbay Holiday Helpers Network (THHN), which gives holidays to families coping with illness and bereavement, after reading about it in the local paper. When

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I attended running events – supporting runners who were raising money for the charity – they would ask why I didn’t run. I would always say, “It’s not for me; I’m a walker.” Then one day in June 2014, while walking in a water meadow, I decided to try running for a bit. No one was around to see me make an idiot of myself. I ran for a minute, caught my breath and then ran for another minute. I did this for about a mile, then went home and ordered a pair of trail running shoes. I worked out a two-mile run and, using a cheap digital watch, I would time the first and last mile, then see how long I could keep running. Five weeks later I was on the start line for the Totnes 10K trail race, finishing in 59 minutes. I was amazed. Straightaway I booked another 10K for two weeks later

and, for the end of October, a hilly half marathon which I finished in one hour 52 minutes. I was caught by the running bug and, as my weight began to fall, so did my race times. In December 2014 I joined Torbay Athletics Club. A few months later I took my Leadership in Running Fitness and started a beginners’ couch to 5K group in Torbay to raise funds for THHN. When I had to defer from the London Marathon in 2015, I didn’t want my training to go to waste, so I signed up to a trail 50K for July. Since then I have run another three ultramarathons, six marathons and lots of shorter distance events – losing seven stone in the process. The beginners’ running group has grown and over 150 people have taken part. We have also raised more than £1,300 for THHN. I am now the charity’s fundraising manager and together with a volunteer group I organise the THHN City to Sea Marathon and Ultramarathon which takes place each September in south Devon. The thrill and joy I get from seeing all the participants cross the line is amazing. Running has given me so much more than a healthier body; it has given me great friends, lots of laughs, and the ability to inspire and encourage others to embark on their own running journey. Find out more about THHN and City to Sea 2017 at


Have you gone from fat to fit? Email your weight-loss story to


11/01/2017 15:23

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11/01/2017 15:39


Why are you not losing weight from all that running? Renee McGregor has the answers

RUNNER’S DIGEST CALORIE CALCULATOR A 12-stone man, running at 8min/miles, will burn… 5K – 413kcal 10K – 827kcal 13.1 miles – 1,654kcal 26.2 miles – 3,494kcal


ne of the most common complaints I hear in my practice is from individuals who take up a new sport such as running in a bid to drop a few pounds, only to find that it’s not quite that simple. They just can’t understand why their weight is not shifting when they've finally bitten the bullet and started moving a lot more than they were previously. What we know is that in order to lose weight there needs to be an energy deficit between what is being consumed and what is being utilised. So the bottom line is, if you are not losing weight, then somewhere along the line this negative energy balance is not being achieved. In my experience several common themes crop up when looking at the lack of weight loss. The good news is they're easily addressed. Follow these simple fixes and you'll soon see the results you're after. Sports Products. The market is saturated with so many options: gels, bars, energy drinks and recovery drinks

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to name but a few. Look on the side of the packet and it seems that we need a product for everything, and this could be one of the traps you have fallen into. How many of you are guilty of carrying an energy drink on your run, without giving any thought to whether you actually need it or not? Recovery Myths. You should only really take on fuel, during a run, if you are training at a high intensity (that is over 70% of your max heart rate) for over 45 minutes, or during endurance runs of over 90 minutes. Similarly, there seems to be a lot of confusion over recovery and the use of recovery products. There is this misconception that you need to take a recovery product, such as a protein shake, within 20 minutes of completing your run or somehow your muscles will not benefit. Again, not strictly true; timing of recovery is actually dependent on what training session you have just completed, when your next meal is scheduled and also when you will be training next. So if you have done a high-

intensity training session and your next meal is over two hours away or your next training session falls within 12 hours, only then is the 20-minute window a real necessity. In this case, I usually recommend a glass of milk to start the recovery process and also help with satiety. In all other situations, your next meal counts as your recovery. Weekend Routines. Another issue that can throw energy balance off kilter are weekends. For many, it is easy to be more structured and disciplined during the week with our nutrition and training. However, once the weekend arrives we become a little more relaxed and, before you know it, you have made up the calorie deficit of the week. Over-restriction. A further common problem is when individuals cut back too drastically, which actually leaves their



body in a position where it can’t work hard enough to achieve a high calorie burn. Over-restriction also tends to cause a loss of both muscle and body fat. When losing weight, the key is to preserve as much lean muscle mass as possible. This is because muscle mass is metabolically active. If you lose too much muscle, you will find it harder to lose weight in the long run as your metabolism slows down. Overestimation. The final consideration is actually how many calories you are burning through running. It is well documented that treadmills, running apps and other electronic devices that measure energy output, over-estimate. This percentage of error could lead you into a false sense of feeling like you “deserve” that extra portion of pasta, even if your body actually doesn’t need it.


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Elliott’s coach was a big believer in weight training – contrary to popular thinking at the time that it would build bulk in runners. Cerutty suggested that weight lifting take place three times a week during the conditioning phase. As Elliott said himself, “In the winter and spring of 1957 I must have run 2,500 miles in training and lifted thousands of pounds in weights.”



You don’t go unbeaten your entire running career by taking risks: Elliott trained hard when it mattered and, under the watchful eye of coach Percy Cerutty, simply did the basics well. Long runs, tempo runs, hill repeats, weights, track sessions – all staple elements of Elliott’s training, completed month after month after month.


Cerutty’s system is based around the philosophy that, when training for a race, your whole life is part of the training. You have to fully develop your body – and not just run. He also emphasised doing everything the natural way. This covered everything from running schedules, to eating, to running form.


In the off-season, Elliott enjoyed a smoke or two, but come the hard training, he was 100% focused. He needed to be: the training was tough and relentless but Cerutty’s method was not madness. He wanted to give his athletes the mental edge over their competitors and he was as much into the psychology of running as the running itself. Elliott was a winner who wanted to beat his rivals mentally and physically.

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One of the key features of Elliott’s programme was running up extremely steep sand hills or sand dunes. These reps were done at high intensity and at nearly 100% effort. The hills that he used were extremely steep; they were short in length, too, perhaps only as much as 50m. But there’s no doubt that these hills helped Elliott cope with the punishing demands of his training and racing schedule.


There’s no doubt that Elliott trained hard, but it was the variety of paces he used “to prevent staleness” that gave him the winning edge. One example of an Elliott workout, given in the book Training with Cerutty, was 10 minutes of hard running, then slow running until the athlete recovers, then 10 minutes of hard running (some of the runners kept this going for 90 minutes). Cerutty believed that 80% of a runner’s training should be fast. Train slow, race slow; train fast, race faster!

Words David Castle Photography


11/01/2017 15:29



Elliott spent five months a year laying down the foundations for his exceptional racing form. That meant long, hard runs of between five and 10 miles, with one 20-miler once a month. This was interspersed with fast efforts round a golf course (with reps varying from 100 to 1500m). It meant that Elliott could cope with the Australian and European track seasons that spread over the best part of seven months – and still peak for both.


While all of the above might sound quite regimented, Cerutty wanted nothing more than for his athletes to develop their own training programmes. He wanted it to be “fun” and while his athletes worked their socks off, they ultimately had the final say. As Elliott said, “The runner should be able to judge himself how much training his body needs and, if he’s honest with himself, he’ll learn to differentiate between genuine tiredness and laziness.”

■ EXTRAORDINARY ELLIOTT Herbert James “Herb” Elliott might have retired from competitive athletics at the tender age of 22 in 1960, but he is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest middle distance runners ever. That he went unbeaten from 1957 to his retirement over the distances of 1500m and a mile is a major contributing factor to this, as was his punishing training regime under the legendary Australian coach, Percy Cerutty. Born on 25 February 1938, he was just 20 when, in August 1958, he shattered the mile world record, slicing 2.7 seconds off the mark held by Derek Ibbotson to clock 3:54.5. Later that month, he set the 1500m world record, running 3.36.0, 2.1 seconds under the record held by Stanislav Jungwirth. But it was the Rome Olympics in 1960 that was to be his greatest stage. He mercilessly turned the screw on his competitors, front-running his way to victory to break his own world record with 3:35.6.

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11/01/2017 15:29




OVERTAKING Our monthly guide to running etiquette sheds light on how to pass someone properly in a race


There's nothing worse than being offered words of encouragement or, worse, a pat on the back, by someone who has just demonstrated their superior running ability. Save your "keep it up mate"s for someone slightly less consumed by self-doubt.



MO’S REMARKABLE RECOVERY Despite a dramatic mid-race fall in the 10,000m at Rio, Farah recovered to win his third Olympic gold. :


Despite the bottleneck up ahead, you're on for a PB. So you go for it, cutting up a pack of runners and setting your own life-size game of dominos in motion. The moral of the story? Only make your move when there's space to do so.


Overtaking's a risky business: make an ambitious move and you could find yourself public enemy number one to the pack you've first overtaken and then promptly got in the way of. Know your pace and, crucially, that of those around you.

BEVAN DOCHERTY’S DRAMATIC WIN New Zealander Docherty grabs victory from the jaws of defeat at the 2005 World Cup triathlon. :

PHIL HEALY’S IMPOSSIBLE COMEBACK The 21-year-old comes out of nowhere to win the last leg of the 4x400m at the Irish Universities Track and Field Championships :


This is a small-scale 10K, not an Olympic final; if there's no room to overtake, don't get physical. Bide your time and wait for a gap to appear. Unless, of course, you are in an Olympic final – in which case, thanks for reading, Mo. 34 • March 2017

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You're plodding into the home straight and your PB's out the window. Ahead, a bloke in a banana costume and an old lady are revelling in the applause. Don't sprint for the line – even if it means sacrificing that 246th-placed finish. Words Isaac Williams Illustrations Peter Liddiard @ Sudden Impact


Got an etiquette suggestion? Tweet us: @mensrunninguk


12/01/2017 20:08

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11/01/2017 17:17


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13/01/2017 16:30


If you want an end-of-race kick like Mo, or the relentless pace of Paula, explosive jumping exercises should form a central part of your training, as Isaac Williams finds out


lyometrics is a training method used by coaches to develop explosive power,” says Joe Peat, my personal trainer for the evening ( I’m at Fitness First in Aldgate, Central London, and I’m about to learn that, as well as being a training method for explosive power, plyometrics is about far more than a few half-hearted box jumps. After a quad-numbing ‘warm-up’ of various exercises with the deceptively painful resistance band, Joe has me hotfooting around the gym like, well, like I’ve got hot feet – “I coach my clients to think the ground is boiling hot and they need to react by jumping as quickly as possible,” he says. Vertical jumps and shallow box jumps are followed by single-leg bounds and an exercise that involves stepping off a platform and jumping forwards as quickly as possible – minimising ground contact time. Channelling my inner Tigger is all well and good, you might ask, but just how can jumping improve your running?


“Plyometrics is all about producing the greatest force in the least amount of

time,” says Joe. For exercises like depth jumps where movements are high intensity and ground contact time is minimal, the runners need to produce a reactive response in under 0.2 seconds.” Paula Radcliffe’s physical therapist, Gerard Hartmann, used a simple test to determine strength and power: he had her do 20 hops, as fast as possible, onto a 16-inch box. The benefits were there for all to see: when other runners fatigued, she had the power in her legs to push on. Equally, Joe cites Mo Farah’s 2012 Olympic 5K and 10K double as an example of how runners can apply power training to increase speed when needed: “He runs at maintenance pace for most of the race and during the last 200m you see how he produces more power to accelerate and win the races.”


Throughout my session, Joe stresses the importance of reacting quickly and being explosive with my movements. “No fast runners spend much time on the floor,” he says. “Think about the difference between a bouncy ball or a sponge; I want my runners to be like the bouncy ball off the floor. If you train slow, you

become slow. Plyometric exercises – particularly shock method movements such as depth jumps – teach you to be explosive off the floor, leading to an increase in speed.”


Running first stretches and then shortens the muscles and tendons in our legs as we make contact with the ground. Plyometrics replicates that process – strengthening the muscles and tendons, while providing a respite from the repetitive strain of running. “Programming plyometrics has been shown to enhance strength, speed and avoid injury: ACL tears and lower extremity injuries in particular,” says Joe. "As intensity is high during plyometrics, volume generally should be kept low to enforce good technique at all times. Generally, I would plan reps from eight to 12 with sets of three to six. For more intense jumping, three sets of three to five reps would be sufficient. TRY THIS POGO 3 SETS X 10 REPS BOUNDING 3 SETS X 12 REPS SQUAT JUMP 3 SETS X 5 REPS BOX JUMP 3 SETS X 5 REPS

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■■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■■

Find out more at:

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12/01/2017 20:09


Injury-prevention and recovery advice from our resident sports therapist Lawrence Knott


eeling weak at the knees? Poor hip mobility and weak glute muscles could be the answer. Runner’s knee is a common issue for we runners, so much so that we often revisit it on this page. It can be caused by a multitude of problems but one of the most common is anterior (front) hip tilt. This can mean a few things. It might mean you overpronate when running. You could also have been born with a weakness in this area; either way, if your hip falls away when running it can cause certain parts of the leg to become tighter than others. This can result in hip pain, muscle strains and, most commonly, the notorious runner’s knee. With an anterior hip tilt, the hip flexors (the muscles that help lift your leg) become incredibly tight; the adductors (the muscles that bring your legs together) will also become shortened.

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This becomes more of a problem when you run as opposed when walking because of the increased force we generate through the running action. Not only will the anterior (front) of the hip become tight, we will also see that the gluteal muscles (the big ones in your bottom) are much weaker. This will make your hips unstable when standing on one leg, or during the mid-stance of the running gait. You can test this for yourself by standing on the top of step and doing a single leg dip – if your hip drops to allow you to do this movement, then you have a weakness in your gluteus and tightness in your hip flexors. I have two ‘go to’ exercises to firstly gain more mobility of the anterior hip space and, secondly, to gain hip stability. However this is not a quick fix – a lot of work will be required to help prevent these issues from starting or reoccurring. Photography

LUNGING QUAD/ HIP FLEXOR STRETCH Using a gym ball or sofa, move into the lunge position with your back foot up. Push your hip forward and lift your arms above your head. You should feel a stretch in the hip flexor of the back leg. Hold for 10-15 secs and repeat left and right.

GLUTE BRIDGE Lying on your back, hold on to your hips with your hands, knees bent, shoulder width apart. Lift your hips up into a straight position and hold for 30 seconds. This will help strengthen your glutes and help prevent that recurring runner’s knee pain.

Lawrence runs Knott Kinetics, email


12/01/2017 20:10

Body image issues are not just for women. Insecurity affects men, too, says Laura Fountain




Man in the mirror: it’s not uncommon for men, too, to have body image issues


tanding on the scales staring down at the number below. Looking up to the mirror, turning left and right, prodding at your middle, sucking your stomach in. Scrolling through Instagram and the hundreds of bare midriffs on display; tensed and toned, always just a middle, never a head attached – no face, no smile – as though this is the most important identifier of a person. Does this sound familiar? Men don’t talk about body image as much as women. We women have got more comfortable talking with each other about how we feel about our bodies and the pressure we feel to look a certain way. And I don’t just mean the stereotypical, “Does my bum look big in this?” We’ve started shouting back at the messages we’re bombarded with from the media and, more recently, social media and the pressure to conform to unrealistic body ideals. We’ve asked for more diversity in the models we’re presented with.


The result, as far as I see it, has just been more choice in the unattainable body ideals we’re subjected to. So instead of having to aspire to the size zero of a catwalk model, women can spend all their money trying to look like a Kardashian or become a disciple of #strongnotskinny and rush down the gym after work trying to emulate people like Jess Ennis-Hill whose job it is to train hard for several hours a day. Be anybody but yourself, love any body but your own. Men have fewer options: get yourself a six-pack and be able to do infinite onehanded press-ups. The alternative seems to be a beer belly and conforming to a ‘jolly fat lad’ stereotype, happy to be the butt of jokes about your weight. You’re a man, after all, a man who likes pizza and having his mates call him Homer; who hates lettuce and exercise; who doesn’t talk about ‘feelings’ or societal pressures to look and behave a certain way; and who laughs along with the jokes aimed at

“MEN HAVE LESS OPTIONS: GET A SIXPACK AND BE ABLE TO DO INFINITE PRESS-UPS” him and his weight. Only it’s not funny, is it? To make fun of someone’s appearance, whatever that joke may be, and as much as someone might outwardly laugh off such ‘bantz’, how they’re feeling inside can actually be very, very different. Eating disorders have often been viewed as a female issue, but the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) estimates around 11% of those affected by an eating disorder are male. And according to the charity Men Get Eating Disorders Too, runners are at higher risk of developing anorexia and bulimia. When you stand by the side of a race and watch the runners, you’ll see all shapes and sizes going past. Every age, height, body shape, skin colour, united by running. This sport is for everybody. You might not see someone who looks like you in an advert for running shoes or a race entry website, but that doesn’t mean it’s not for you. The decision to be a runner is yours and yours alone.

HELP & SUPPORT If you’re struggling with how you feel about your body, or are feeling low and need someone to talk to, these organisations can help. BEAT - beating eating disorders Men Get Eating Disorders Too Samaritans

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12/01/2017 20:11

MR STRONG EXPERT ADVICE Martin Yelling is an endurance coach, ex-international athlete and husband to Olympic marathoner Liz Yelling. With a half marathon PB of 66 minutes, Martin specialises in running coaching and hosts the Marathon Talk podcast.


eing a strong runner is not just about running more and more miles. In fact, doing more running to improve running can lead to injury. This is where focused strength development can really help. The strongest runners are those who are able to consistently rack up week after week of training and in doing so develop a whole-body strength that supports their training volume and enables them to push harder, tolerate more and dig deep when it matters. Being a strong runner means you’re robust and resilient, better conditioned, functionally more tolerant to the demands of specific running and at lower risk of injury. Research has shown that specific strength training sessions can improve running performance. Having strong major muscle groups and specific smaller muscles can help runners continue to move with the same effectiveness through a full range of motion. When you start to get tired and the strength

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To really improve your running, strength training really is as fundamental as putting the miles in. Follow these basic principles to be a fitter, stronger, injury-free runner required to execute the same movement pattern weakens, it’s strength training that really helps to drive your forwards. Strength training for runners shouldn’t be about lifting heavy weights or getting buff. Instead, it should be specific to the needs of the individual runner, and functional in that it’s aimed at your weaknesses or the biomechanical areas of concern. It should also be subtle yet effective, complementing the running that you already do. Key fundamentals for strength training for runners include: ■ Strength training doesn’t need to take forever or need to happen at the gym. ■ It’s about control. Correct technique always comes before heavy weights. ■ Think about your progress – start light and build to heavy. Don’t lift what you can’t manage. ■ Remember to breathe!

3 STRENGTH EXERCISES FOR RUNNERS SWISS BALL JACKKNIFE 1 1. Why do it? Strengthen the hip flexors, essential for knee and thigh drive and propulsion. Equipment needed: Swiss ball. Start in a press-up position with shin and ankles on the Swiss ball. Aim to keep your spine in a neutral alignment. Holding a stable position, drag your knees underneath you, bringing the ball forward. Keep your shoulders, neck, spine and hips stable and strong. Move your knees to 90 degrees with your hips, breath as you bring your knees forward. Move forwards for two seconds. Return legs from bent to straight, extended onto ankles on the Swiss ball. Exhale as you return legs backwards. Move backwards for two seconds. A forward and backward movement takes four seconds and equals one repetition. Beginner: 1 set of 6 to 8. Progress to 2 sets of 6 to 8. Expert: 1 set of 25.

Tailor your strength workouts to your personal running goals. If distance is your aim opt for lighter weight and more repetitions (up to 25). If speed or power is your thing, lift heavier and faster for fewer reps (under eight) with more recovery – just make sure you don't compromise technique. Don’t let it compromise your running – it should complement it. Strength training uses muscles in different ways than you may be used to in running; expect a little soreness, and plan your training accordingly. Don’t schedule important run sessions the day after your weights or strength work.


Do you have a question for Martin? Drop us an email at



12/01/2017 20:12

TECHNIQUE DEADLIFT 2 ROMANIAN Why do it? Hamstrings and glutes are key major muscles for flexion, extension, control, stability and strength when running. Equipment needed: 20kg (+) weighted bar. No bar? Try kettlebells or loaded bags. Stand facing directly forwards, feet hipdistance apart. Hold the bar with an overhand grip shoulder-width apart with arms straight. Hinging forwards from the hip, stick your buttocks out behind you and, bending your knees, lower the bar down your thighs. Reach a 30-degree bend in your knees then extend downwards and tip forwards from the hip, lowering the bar below the knees. Keep a strong, flat back, neutral spine, activate your core by drawing the belly button inwards and breath outwards on the lowering motion. Return the bar from below the knees by pushing forwards with the hips and engaging the glutes to return to a controlled upright position. Beginner: Light weight. 1 set of 8 reps. Repeat a second time. Expert: Heavier weight. 3 sets of 8 reps.

SQUAT 3 FRONT Why do it? Improves quad strength, drive and propulsion. Improves knee stability. Equipment needed: Technically you can do this exercise with no weight, but adding weight increases the strength demands. To add weight use a weight plate, sandbag or medicine ball. Stand upright, feet shoulder-width apart, toes facing forward, knees tracking centrally, and hips and shoulders facing forwards. Hold weight at chest height in front of you. The ball can rest gently on chest if applicable. As if you were sitting into a chair, stick your buttocks out behind, bend your knees and lower yourself downwards until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Avoid leaning forwards, keep your upper body balanced by drawing your belly button in and engaging your core. Breath out as you lower. Push through your heels and drive with your quads to return to an upright position. Keep your eyes looking forwards and shoulders retracted. Beginner: Light weight. 1 set of 6 to 8 reps. Repeat x 2. Expert: Heavier weight. 3 to 4 sets of 8 reps.

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12/01/2017 20:12


Foot strength is an oft-overlooked area of a runner’s anatomy, but weak feet can contribute to a host of injuries upstream: from the achilles to the knee. The following ‘toega’ exercises can massively improve your running economy and reduce your risk of injury

THE BIG TOE 1 ROOTING Muscles: Big toe

Why do it? To improve the stabilising strength of your big toe, which can prevent overpronation Technique: Push your big toe down into the floor and raise your other toes off the floor Keep the ball of your foot on the floor Build up until you can hold the position for 30 seconds – until then, pulse your toes up and down Top tip: Make sure you don’t roll your foot inwards in order to lift your toes

Reps and sets: Try to do the exercises for 5-10 minutes, twice a day. All exercises courtesy of Vivobarefoot. To see the original article, head to:

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Words Isaac Williams Illustrations Peter Liddiard @ Sudden Impact


12/01/2017 21:31


TOE OUT 3 BIG Muscles: Big toe

Why do it? To improve the mobility in your first metatarsal Technique: Stand on an exercise mat or soft surface Bend your big toe underneath your foot Keep your other toes out straight Top tip: When viewed from above, it should look as though your big toe has been chopped off

Why do it? To improve mobility in your metatarsals Technique: Leaving your big toe out straight,



Muscles: Big toes, foot arch Why do it? To strengthen your plantar fascia (the thick connective tissue running along the arch of your foot) Technique: Kneel on the floor, with your torso upright Place your hands on your heels Extend your hips as your straighten your arms When your arms are extended, pulse your big toes and gently rock your body back and forth Top tip: Focus on pulsing your big toes only, leaving your other toes as relaxed as possible

bend your other toes underneath your foot Push your big toe into the floor Top tip: Use your hand to bend your toes under your foot if you can’t do so naturally

Muscles: Big toes, foot arch Why do it? To strengthen your plantar fascia Technique: Kneel on the floor, with your torso upright Sit back on your heels Feel the stretch in your toes From that position, pulse your big toes (push them down into the floor repeatedly) to rock your body gently back and forth Top tip: To begin, don’t rest your whole weight on your heels

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12/01/2017 21:31

Left to right: serial adventurer Sean Conway picks up the pace; going awall

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Photography James Carnegie

12/01/2017 21:34

a n i l l A work


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James Carnegie gets a morning flight to Northern Ireland, runs the country’s highest peak and is home before bedtime to prove that, with a little planning and a keen sense of adventure, a day is all you need for an epic running adventure


f you happen to find yourself sat in row 30 of an easyJet airbus sometime soon, you might find a folded OS Map of the Mourne Mountains in the seat pocket. If, like me, you’d previously never heard of them, you’re holding the key to a wonderful adventure. Admittedly, beginning a day trip to an unknown destination without the map you’ve marked a trail on isn’t the best start (especially when you have to be back at the airport eight hours later) but the outcome was a blank slate to run open trails with two good friends, seeing as much of this stunning Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as possible.

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XXXXXXX Clockwise from here: Matt Buck tests his balance on the Mourne Wall; a bemused hiker; Sean caught mid-snack; potato pancakes and Nutella – what more does a runner need? (Nutritional value not guaranteed); an ominous sign

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Situated in County Down in the southeast of Northern Ireland, approximately an hour’s drive from Belfast International Airport, you’d be forgiven for thinking there wasn’t much reason to journey all this way from London, in a day, when there’s surely trails to be run closer to home. While there are perfectly good, nay, great trails on my backdoor here in the North Downs, I’ve run them a lot. Most of us have our favourite routes, shortcuts, hill sections and viewpoints and they serve us well. Discovering new regions on foot, however, is for me the greatest way to combine running with travel. So when my friend Matt Buck’s message popped up, “Fancy running somewhere next Friday?” my thoughts immediately turned to mountains. While my Instagram feed that crisp winter week in early December was littered with lucky runners enjoying the snow-clad Lake District and Highlands, because of work I found myself deskbound. The opportunity to run somewhere new with potential altitude gain and navigation practice was too good to ignore, so I headed straight to skyscanner, my first point of call when free time arises. Belfast for £24 return leapt from the screen and half an hour later, with another runner (Sean Conway) onboard, we were booked. All it took was a scan of Google

Maps for hilly regions within reach of the airport and I knew we had something special lined up. As we screeched to a halt at the trail head, situated on the East Coast five minutes south of the town of Newcastle, we looked up into light grey skies with a route taking us straight to the top of Northern Ireland’s highest peak, Slieve Donard (850m). It’s always a sharp (and painful) reminder of how puny the hill sections I run regularly are when you find yourself panting, hands on knees within minutes of setting off. The reward at the saddle of the Summit was stunning, a view south-east towards Ireland with valleys, peaks and ridges falling away. Although not Alpine in stature or technicality, the terrain had something for all of us: rocky paths, soggy heather bogs and crisp cold streams. The best, however, lay before us. Leading directly to the summit was The Mourne Wall, an eight-foot high, manmade barrier that stretched as far as the eye could see. A local hiker told us (in incomprehensible local dialect) it ran from the coast and was built to contain sheep, but we found it a brilliant trail that just grew steeper and steeper. Topping out the view only improved, giving us 360-degree panoramas north to Belfast and across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man and the Lakes. If you’re going to head straight up a near March 2017 • 49

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“WE MAY HAVE ONLY RUN 12 MILES, BUT WE BAGGED 530FT AND TOOK IN SOME OF THE COUNTRY’S HIGHEST PEAKS” vertical kilometre then the view better be worth it. A short break for water, potato pancakes smeared in Nutella for Sean, and a couple of summit shots, and we hurtled down the side of another majestic wall before scaling the next summit of Slieve Commedagh. This pattern of ascend, descend, continued for most of the afternoon before putting us at our furthest point on Slieve Bearnagh, from which, with dusk and temperatures falling, we knew we had to route back. Putting Matt’s Garmin to the test plus giving him plenty of training for a forthcoming stab at the Dragon’s Back race in 2017, we navigated our way back to the saddle across a sublime trail which cut across the face of a valley head. Running single file, the sun breaking beneath low cloud on the horizon as the valley fell away

beneath, was the high point for us all and exactly why we’d gone to all this effort. Particularly proud of my dry feet up to this point, the ginger adventurer Sean proceeded to lead us through an inescapable bog and with squelching shoes we descended the river in darkness, headtorches blazing, and jumped back into the hire car. It wasn’t until we sat in the airport pub nursing ales that evening that we took in what we’d achieved: we may only have run 12 miles, but we bagged 5308ft and took in some of the country’s highest peaks. Much more than that, however, we’d all ran new terrain, been blown away by the scenery and flew home refreshed, although I did pity the poor souls sat around us as our scent overtook the cabin. This was near the middle of winter and we’d discovered trails which we knew we’d all come back to run again while colleagues went about their usual days. Returning home 16 hours after stepping out the front door and collapsing into bed, my wife murmured, “Good day?” I whispered, “Brilliant” and passed out – with a huge grin on my face. With children, busy work and routines it often seems daunting fitting in training for upcoming races or discovering new trails, but I’ve always believed, with a little effort and for a small expense, you can pack a lot into a day. We may not have the Dolomites, Alps or Pyrenees as our playground but the UK’s National Parks offer a wealth of adventure in return for a short flight, train or drive. Just don’t be late for your plane, train or automobile back home.




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5 ONE-DAY ADVENTURES IN THE UK 1. Brecon Beacons. Summit Pen-yFan and take in the best that South Wales has to offer. 2. Isle of Wight. Run the Isle of Wight’s Southern coastline, from the Needles as far east as your legs take you before catching a ferry back to the mainland. 3. North Downs Way. Pick a section from the 156-mile path: if 100K evades you, head for the nearest train station leading back to London. 4. Loch Ness. A short flight to Inverness dumps you just south of the Highlands, on the banks of the River Ness. Take a 30-minute cab ride to the head of Loch Ness. 5. Lake District. The first train out of Euston brings you to Kendal, heart of the Lake District, for 09:15, leaving you 11 hours to run into the hills before the last train back.

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RUNNING IN N. IRELAND Left to right: Matt (left), Sean (centre) and James atop the Mourne Wall; Sean, tired of running, suspects there’s a quicker way down the mountain

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Running can provide peace of mind, freedom and, every so often, romance. Michael Donlevy meets the couples who hotfooted their way into each other’s lives


our eyes meet over a park bench. You’re both sweating, panting and stretching out after a hard session, and your slightly bleary gaze lingers for what might be considered a fraction too long – if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s being returned by a pair of equally weary eyes. “Do you run here often?” you ask. “No, but I will do now…” It might sound like a cliché, but many couples do meet over a shared passion for running rather than a water cooler at work, and running can provide like-minded people with an introductory service that’s far more effective and long-lasting than a dating app. “I met Rob at a free social running group put on by Runners Need in north London,” says Ashley Scott of her now husband. “I was new to London – and England – and had just come off of being an athlete at the University of Tulsa. I was searching for groups in the area so I could run with people and hopefully make a few friends. “I then realised he trained with the same club as me, but in the Men’s A group. I hadn’t spotted him previously because I was always in too much oxygen debt for much to register during the track sessions! But from there we started going to the pub after club sessions and went on the occasional weekend run and still saw each other almost weekly at Run Camden.” The rest is history, but running is still a major part of the couple’s life together, with all the pros – and, it has to be said, cons – that brings. “Our schedules are similar and I’m not seen as weird for being late or unable to attend something due to running,” she

Power couple: Rob and Ashley Scott met through running

says. “It’s also nice to have someone who understands the pressures of competition. “The cons are that we get virtually zero weekends of just lying around the house drinking tea. Saturday is either a race or a morning session and Sunday is a 9am long run with a group of friends, and we hardly ever get a full weekend at home due to races and such.” One of the biggest plus points is being able to support each other, Ashley says. “I sometimes get fed up with running in general. I competed at a relatively high level and chasing previous times sometimes becomes too much. These are the times I need Rob the most. Running is something I can’t live without, but I can’t say I always enjoy it.” One thing running can do is lead you to share new experiences. “We’ve pretty much always run when on holiday,” says Lucy Greswell of her and partner Chris McCann. “We’ve had great runs in New York’s Central Park, Paris and Barcelona. Once we went with some club friends on a day trip to Belfast – we landed early, went to a gym, got changed and did a morning run around the city, followed by a dip in the pool. Then we did a bit of

Stripe club: Chris and Lucy use running as an excuse to explore new places

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sightseeing and ended up in The Crown Bar for a Guinness before heading home in the afternoon. It was fun, and not something we would have done without the running!” There is just one slight drawback for them, that you should perhaps be aware of if you’re about to head off to your local club in search of romance: “I do miss being able to go out for a nice, steady off-road run together now that we have kids. The logistics of fitting in both of us training is difficult – impossible really – with two little ones, so ‘serious’ training is off the cards for a few years, I think.”


If the thought of juggling running shoes with nappies fills you with dread, kids don’t have to come into the equation. “We met at our athletics club, Nuneaton Harriers, but didn’t get together straight away,” says Eleanor Fowler, 38, whose husband Eric, 52, has grown-up children. “It was only when we happened to be running together and chatting on a club training night that we discovered we got on well. It was an ideal way to get to know each other and after several runs together we discovered that there was a spark between us and, more importantly, that we were both single. We didn’t do much traditional dating – our ‘dates’ were mostly runs on Eric’s favourite routes. “We’ve both been competitive runners for most of our lives and it really helped us to connect – knowing that the other shares that same understanding of the desire to race. We’re very fortunate that we’re able to train together as we run at a similar pace. When we’re both race-fit it can get a bit competitive between us and we certainly push each other hard. This year we’ll be doing the London Marathon again, so it will be interesting to see who comes out on top. “We get asked if we run on holiday – in fact we’ve always taken our kit, even on honeymoon,” she adds. “Most often we take a holiday tacked on to a race fixture. Even when we’re away for a ‘rest’ we’ll find

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Long-distance relationship: Eleanor and Eric Fowler used running to first get to know one another


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Better late than never: Linda and Keith Whitehead only started running together 32 years into their relationship

somewhere to run – in Italy last summer we decided to run up Mount Vesuvius, which drew some strange looks from the locals. “There are a lot of advantages to being in a relationship with a runner, such as being able to devote time to training without feeling guilty. Also, because we train together, it means we get to spend more time as a couple. We’re able to advise each other on training sessions and gee each other up if one of us is lacking motivation. We both share that passion for running and think nothing of going out for a long run on Christmas Day.” And even for established couples, it’s never too late to start running together. “I met my wife Linda at Exeter University in 1973, and we didn’t start running together for at least 32 years,” says Keith Whitehead, 62, from Solihull. “I’d run a bit before that, but Linda only on a treadmill. In the mid-2000s we struck a bargain that she would run outdoors with me if I would do yoga with her. “We both belong to Knowle & Dorridge Running Club and to Solihull Triathlon Club. For KDRC we sometimes run in the same club training session and we’ve often done long weekly training runs together. We frequently enter the same event, but

have only run side-by-side in a race twice, once when I paced her to a half marathon PB at Stratford Raceways. “I retired early in 2007 and really took up my athletic career from that point. Linda still worked part time but in 2011 she finally decided I was having far too much fun so she left work so we could spend more time together.” There’s still time for romance, even in the midst of a busy schedule and after 43 years together. “Once, as Brueton parkrun run director, on a day that coincided with our wedding anniversary, I surprised Linda during my spell on the microphone before the run with a bunch of flowers. Other – male – runners were concerned that I might have set a precedent! “Running couples just understand so much about the other’s passion for running and the problems and compromises it involves,” he adds. “Sometimes we train for and compete in the same event and it’s great to share the day – and the travel and the planning – even if we don’t actually run it together.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Happy Valentine’s Day!

RUN HERE 0FTEN? Looking for love? Try these nailed-on chat-up lines for potential lovers Is that jogger’s nipple or are you just pleased to see me? Would you like to run in phwoarmation? Would you please help with my stretches? If I hold it will you pull it? Will you be my pacemaker? My heart seems to have skipped a beat.

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Photography Tom Owens / Salomon


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The Don The Ramsay Round, with 8,500m of ascent packed into just 56 miles, is one of the toughest endurance challenges in the UK. In December, Donnie Campbell conquered the 24 Scottish summits in record time and became just the second person ever to complete the round in winter. Jonny Muir sheds some light on his extraordinary achievement


onnie Campbell has been running for 20 hours. He is shrouded in the darkness of a Scottish night in December. He is climbing Aonach Beag, the seventh highest mountain in Britain. As he ascends, a wall of snow, glistening in the glow of a headtorch, rears above his head. The microspikes that might have eased his passage are 10 miles away in the backpack of a friend who inadvertently ran away with them. Tom Owens, Donnie’s support runner, gingerly begins kicking steps into the snow. Donnie follows. If I fall or stumble, Donnie thinks, I am going to plummet 500 metres back to the bealach. Game over. Donnie was attempting what only six people had ever achieved – a Ramsay Round in winter. Scotland’s representative among the trio of big 24-hour mountain rounds, the Ramsay – pioneered in 1978 – encompasses a 56-mile loop of 23 Munros, with the first or last mountain, depending on the direction of travel, the little matter of Ben Nevis. Climbing a cumulative 8,600 metres, the statistics are comparable to the Bob Graham Round, but the Ramsay is unquestionably harder. The terrain is more committing, the opportunities for support more complex, the impact of altitude and weather far greater. There is a reason why only 93 people had successfully

completed the Ramsay Round in the 38 years of its existence. Glyn Jones in 2002 was the first to conquer winter, succeeding in an incomprehensible 54 hours. ‘That we can still find adventure when we want it, in this soft underbelly of the rich world, is a right that we should not give up without a fight,’ he wrote after. Only Jon Gay, a Fort William architect, had managed to beat the day in the following 13 winters, clocking 23 hours and 18 minutes in an ‘alpine wonderland’ in February 2013.


Shortly after 9pm on a post-work Friday, Donnie, a 32-year-old personal trainer and former Marine, started running, committing to near-incessant movement amid winter hostility for 24 hours. From the round’s traditional starting point outside the Glen Nevis youth hostel, he climbed into a range of shadowy mountains known as the Mamores. He was alone, ticking off summits – as is the way on the Ramsay – on trust. Crossing the aptly-named Devil’s Ridge between the second and third Munro, Donnie dropped one of the two GoPro cameras he was carrying to film his attempt. He watched it freefall, then disappear into the darkness. He left the

devil for a potential hell, descending 50 metres of dim mountainside to locate the camera. Donnie served in Iraq as an 18-year-old in 2003; this manoeuvre – albeit time-wasting – was not going to daunt him. The going had been good. But this was winter in the Scottish mountains. Inevitably – rightly, perhaps – snow came, with the freshly fallen flakes obliterating compacted ice beneath. Donnie met his supporters for the first time after completing the 10 Munros of the Mamores. He would see them again after another three Munros, as he circumnavigated Loch Treig. At Fersit, the only point at which a road comes close to intruding on the round, he ate like an ultrarunning king: tomato soup, bread, salty crisps, a cup of tea, a can of Red Bull. Having run for 12


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hours, ascending and descending thousands of metres, he was off again. There were still 10 Munros to come, with Ben Nevis, the biggest of them all, lying in wait at the very end. Before beginning the section on the Grey Corries – a ridge of lofty summits that oppose the Mamores – Donnie’s microspikes disappeared, carried unwittingly downhill and away on the back of Andrew Murray, a friend and fellow ultrarunner. The terrain of the Grey Corries makes them runnable – relatively, of course – but the snow created a treacherous surface, forcing Donnie into a determined walk. The short day ended. A second night dropped. And then came Aonach Beag, the crux of the round, Donnie clinging to a snowy precipice, hoping. “When you have been out for 20 hours and you are concentrating for all that time, you are not as stable on your feet,” he said. The runners hauled themselves up the snowy bank, the gradient mercifully receding. The summit was still some way off, but the danger was over. Donnie and Tom – with just one properly functioning headtorch between them – ran on. Time now became the obsession. “I wanted to get significantly under (Jon 58 • March 2017

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Gay’s time) to consolidate the record,” Donnie said. As he bridged the Carn Mor Dearg Arete and crossed the rubbly plateau of Ben Nevis, those watching a live tracker following his movements used social media to speculate on his likelihood of success. They would not have known that the boots of hundreds of Ben Nevis walkers had polished the snow, frustrating the hill runner’s progress. But, below 700 metres, the snow was gone. Donnie opened up, the lights of the glen beckoning far below. With a usual bridge under repair, Donnie had to wade the knee-deep River Nevis to reach the road in the glen. Moments later, he was flashing by the youth hostel, then lying crumpled on the ground. He was a record-breaker: breaching Jon Gay’s time by 12 minutes, becoming only the seventh person to complete a winter Ramsay. The hardest run of his life, Donnie had said soon after. We met a week after his round. He had already been running since: an “easy 10K” on the Wednesday, then a 90-minute run today. On reflection, did he still think the Ramsay was the hardest? The question was posed to a man who once ran 184 miles from Glasgow to Portree on Skye in 44 hours without stopping to sleep. “That did not feel as bad,” he said referring to his seven-marathon effort in 2011. “The Ramsay Round is more remote, more dangerous, and in winter…” His words trailed off. The meaning was abundantly clear. One slip, one lapse in concentration – oblivion awaits. I watched Donnie from the window of the Italian café, its interior reeking with garlic, where we had met. Once on the street, he started running, as if by instinct, disappearing into the Friday night crowds of central Edinburgh. To them, he was just another runner. Donnie would not have minded: after all, the glory is in the doing, Glyn Jones had determined, not in the having done.

Clockwise from left: Donnie power-hikes up a blissfully dry section of the route; compact snow made for treacherous conditions; one of those what-on-earth-am-I-doing moments; regular updates were given on social media; a pit stop to tend to swollen feet

Jonny Muir is an Edinburgh-based author and hill runner. His latest book, The Mountains Are Calling: running in the high places of Scotland, will be published in 2018.


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2012 Athletics photographer Mark Shearman’s most memorable year in running


ark Shearman MBE has been photographing athletics since 1962. In his 55-year career, he’s captured some of the greatest moments in the history of running – the legendary Steve Prefontaine, the Coe vs. Ovett era, the marathon world record getting ever closer to that magic two-hour time – and been to no less than 14 Olympic Games. But his favourite year of all? One that’s still fresh in the memory: 2012. This was the year, of course, of the hugely successful London Olympics – spearheaded by the running achievements of the imperious Mo Farah and Usain Bolt. “2012 was an important year for me;” says Mark, “it marked the 50th anniversary of taking, and selling my first track and field photograph in 1962 – and was of course a time of celebration in the UK with the outstanding London Olympic Games.” Here are his favourite snaps from a very memorable year indeed.

Left to right: Birmingham Diamond League, 24/06/12. Ross Millington (no.22) on his way to winning the 5000m at the Alexander Stadium. London Marathon, 12/08/12. Shortly after the start, with the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben in the background.

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Photography Mark Shearman


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Clockwise from right: National Cross Country Champs, 25/02/12. Camera shy Keith Gerrard, of Newham & Essex Beagles, wins the senior men’s race at Parliament Hill Olympic Men’s 100m Final, 05/08/12. Usain Bolt raises a finger in celebration after successfully defending his 100m title with an Olympic-record time of 9.64. Paralympic Men’s T42 200m, 01/09/2012. Richard Whitehead flexes his muscles after winning the T42 200m, breaking his own world record with a time of 24.38. U23 European Cross Country Champs, 09/12/12. Freshly fallen snow in Budapest makes for tricky cross-country conditions for the under 23’s. Glasgow Diamond League, 08/01/12. Mo Farah is pushed all the way by Augustine Choge of Kenya, but eventually comes through to win the men’s 1500m.

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XXXXXXX Name: Stephen Ingledew Age: 54 Job: Financial services executive Location: Edinburgh Marathon: London Twitter: @IngledewStephen

Have the first few weeks of training been manageable or a big step up in terms of intensity/mileage?  The first few weeks have been great and were a good step up from the base I’d been building in previous months, although a couple of the runs were a bit tough after festive celebrations the night before! Having said that, it’s been really helpful to have more of a structured plan especially to ensure I kept focus over the Christmas period.

p u g n i k Pic

e c a p e th



he festive lay-off provides a host of challenges for the runner-intraining: navigate the mince pies and mulled wine and you’ve still got to find a way of convincing your family just how important that Sunday long run really is. Fortunately, our marathon hopefuls have come out the other side with fitness and relations intact. Now the real training can begin – and for Stephen, Derek, Ben and Neil that means building a solid base early in the year, for marathon success this spring.


“Stephen’s taken to training like a duck to water, really embracing each session. Having a goal marathon target in mind, as he has, meant he wanted to do all his running as close to marathon pace as possible – to prove he can do it. It’s too early in the training cycle to do that so we’ve got him thinking about effort level and not pace.” Words Isaac Williams Photography Eddie Macdonald

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Is the training different to what you’d normally do? If so, have you enjoyed freshening up your running? The main difference has been the threshold runs, which I wasn’t really doing before. The guidance is to run at a pace where you can just speak five or six words so I try to sing a few of my favourite Clash lyrics every so often to stay within the threshold pace of not too slow or too fast. It does mean I get a few odd looks as I pass people on the pathways around Edinburgh singing ‘I fought the law’! What is going to be your biggest challenge over the next few months?  My biggest challenge will be to try and improve my pace so I can test how realistic a sub-three-hour marathon is in the spring. The other challenge may be the Scottish weather if it takes a turn for the worst with snow and gales. So far this winter we have been lucky with the weather: with just the two hurricanes! Do you have any races planned, prior to the marathon, that you can use to test your progress?  I’ve signed up for eight races prior to the London marathon, as I find these a terrific way to check how I am progressing. The first race is a low-key half marathon at Strathclyde Park near Glasgow, followed by an eight-mile hilly race in Kirkintilloch, before doing the fabulous Bramley 20-mile race in February, which is near my old hometown of Reading and the neck of the woods where I fist started running 10 years ago. This is a race I last did back in 2012 in preparation for my first marathon so I’m hoping it will indicate how far I’ve progressed in the last five years. @mensrunninguk

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Name: Derek James Age: 73 Job: Retired teacher Location: London Marathon: London Twitter: @derekjohnjames

Have the first few weeks of training been manageable or a big step up in terms of intensity/mileage? The training has all been manageable and I’ve done everything Ben has set. The mileage is fine – I even did 160 minutes rather than 120 on Boxing Day, as I took a couple of wrong turns on Hampstead Heath! I find the threshold runs as tough as I expected, but that’s what I need I’m sure. I did reverse the sessions set for 2 January, as I could face a long, easy run after New Year’s Eve celebrations but felt sure a threshold sessions wouldn’t have gone down well!

Nutrition: Raphael Deinhart HIGH5 A former elite-level cyclist, Raphael is HIGH5’s technical and marketing coordinator. He’ll be providing expert advice on pre-, mid- and post-exercise nutrition.

Coach: Ben Barwick Full Potential Ben is a biomechanics expert and running coach. He loves seeing the progression of those he coaches, and he’ll help the gents reach the form of their lives.

Is the training different to what you’d normally do? If so, have you enjoyed freshening up your running? The Threshold runs are different. I’d normally have done some fartlek  and some “pyramid” running but not for another month or two. The long easy runs are a little longer than I would normally have done at this stage, and I always worked them out in miles rather than minutes. For the last two years I’ve followed Martin Yelling’s five-runs-a-week plan, but I had been doing two or three runs a week in October and November, so I’m enjoying the extra challenge. What is going to be your biggest challenge over the next few months? Increasing my speed will be a bit of a challenge, as my legs do feel stiffer after a run than they have in previous years. At the moment my threshold efforts are 11K/hr, which Ben says is fine, but I’d like to be able to push it up a bit. If I need to do more for my core that will be a bit of a challenge, as I find the exercises pretty boring to do on my own. I do 18 miles a week in a racing kayak, but I’m not sure whether that’s enough or not. Do you have any races planned, prior to the marathon that you can use to test your progress? I’m entered for the Roding Half Marathon on 26 February and I’d like to do the three runs (12 miles, 17 and 20) organised each year by the Boxmoor Running Club in Hemel Hempstead. They’re excellent as they include a gruelling hill.

Kit: Michael Moore ASICS Michael is a technical representative with a deep knowledge of running apparel. He’ll help the team to get the most from their shoes and kit.

Supplements: Paul Chamberlain Solgar Paul is nutrition and education director for Solgar UK. He has an MSc in Sport and Exercise Nutrition, and over 20 years of experience in the health sector.

OFFICIAL PARTNERS COACH SAYS : “As Derek has done some sort of sport all his life, his training has to sensibly reflect this, and we can’t make wholesale changes to his current weekly schedule as it would most likely leave him injured and unable to run. Instead we’ve tweaked some of his runs and made sure there’s plenty of emphasis on recovery.” March 2017 • 65

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Name: Ben Smith Age: 38 Job: HR Project Manager at MoD Location: Kent Marathon: Brighton Twitter: @BenSmithBMC

Have the first few weeks of training been manageable or a big step up in terms of intensity/mileage? I have really enjoyed the first few weeks of training even though my first full week landed bang on Christmas! I survived it, though, and managed to come out the other side and complete every run on my plan. I feel strong at the moment and the plan put together by Ben is a real mix of different sessions which I haven’t really done previously. I am enjoying the sessions as they are different each day and this variety is allowing me to try out different routes, timings and strategies. Is the training different to what you’d normally do? If so, have you enjoyed freshening up your running? In previous years in training for a marathon I have done the same runs, times and distances in training and expected a different result, which just hasn’t happened. Ben has really shaken up my training plan this year, which has given me a fresh outlook and impetus to my training runs. I am also doing some conditioning work this year which will hopefully benefit me in the longer term and become a regular part of my post-marathon training. Although I eat fairly healthily, I have also tried really hard to eat well before and after each run to fuel and repair my body to give me the best chance of making each run worthwhile and meaningful.

COACH SAYS : “Ben’s situation is the opposite of Derek’s: he’s been following the same training plan for the last few years and stagnated, so introducing him to threshold running has been a revelation! He’s a talented runner and with some consistent training over the next few weeks I’m hoping he could see some real improvements.”

What is going to be your biggest challenge over the next few months? It will be interesting to see how the increase in mileage, week by week, affects my performance and motivation. I’m used to upping the mileage from running marathons in previous years, but now each run I do has a specific purpose. Do you have any races planned, prior to the marathon that you can use to test your progress? I have the Hastings Half Marathon and Dartford Half Marathon booked, and I always do the Silverstone Half Marathon which is a good gauge of where I am in my training. I also have a number of faster cross-country runs throughout January and February just to work on my speed.

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BIG MARATHON CHALLENGE Name: Neil Clark Age: 52 Job: Bagpipes teacher Location: Falkirk Marathon: Blackpool Twitter: @NeilCThePiper

Have the first few weeks of training been manageable or a big step up in terms of intensity/mileage? The first few weeks have definitely been a more structured and sensible approach than my previous efforts.  Is the training different to what you’d normally do? If so, have you enjoyed freshening up your running? Before, I ran steady runs of varying lengths. That was it. Now Ben has me doing one long run per week and sometimes two sessions of intervals. I do find the intervals challenging, but I’m now beginning to feel the benefit. Who knows, I might even get faster! I’m also crosstraining in the gym once per week, and I tend to be more structured in there, too. I used to hit the gym basically whenever it was raining, but now I stick to the regime and get out on the road. What is going to be your biggest challenge over the next few months? I have ended up injured in the past as a result of overdoing it – losing weeks of training as a result. That’s my biggest challenge: remaining uninjured, as I have a marathon every month from April. I’m running for Macmillan Cancer Support Scotland, in memory of my best mate Brian, who died from cancer last year, and I don’t want to let him down. Do you have any races planned, prior to the marathon, that you can use to test your progress? Possibly Grangemouth round the Houses 10k in April – it’s nice and flat. Then the Alloa Half Marathon in March.

COACH SAYS : “Neil’s goal for running a marathon a month for the next year is a really interesting one. Trainingwise we are just treating this as any other marathon build-up, looking to set a good base over the next few months. He’s going to benefit from a period of running up and down hills, to help him build his strength up before tackling some longer runs.”

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Photography Mouss Productions


13/01/2017 08:24


DOWNHILL FROM HERE “Unblocking The Mind”: an interview with ultrarunner and downhill master Sébastien Chaigneau

EXPERT ADVICE Matt Maynard is a British runner based in the Chilean Andes. His monthly column, King of the Mountain, is all about running when the terrain gets steep

UTMB where you pass through three countries. Most people take seven days to trek that route. My goal race time is 20 hours. By running well in the mountains you live seven days in 20 hours. That’s the reason I train.

éb Chaigneau is a man who makes seriously good coffee. The 44-year-old Frenchman also has a habit of winning Ultra-Trail World Tour races, like Mount Fuji and the blisteringly difficult Hardrock 100. Over a 15-year professional running career, Chaigneau has run the legendary UltraTrail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) thirteen times, climbing 130,000m over this race alone. He once even came close to beating Usain Bolt’s 100m record when sprinting down a Spanish volcano. But it wasn’t until I saw him making a pot of pre-race coffee that I really understood the man. His secret? Séb Chaigneau is a man who prepares very thoroughly.

In 2001 you struggled through your first mountain race, calling it a lesson in “humilité”. How have you improved so much since? When I started running there wasn’t any knowledge about how to train. For that first race I had a homemade energy gel of crushed walnuts, almonds and milk. It made me ill and tasted gross. Now, as a bio-technologist, I use my knowledge to design detailed annual training plans. I also think community is very important for good mountain running. When I moved to my village of Thorens-Glières I was the only runner. Now we are 120! They sponsor me and I help build new trails. (Seb drives a sponsored “party bus” for the village’s trail runners and had just dropped his son at table tennis before our chat.) At weekends in summer I drive to Les Houches and run up Mont Blanc. It’s hard on the way back down, but when mountain guides and clients stop and ask me where I’ve been they say, “This is not possible!” Opening people’s minds to what the body can do makes me very happy.

Your best results seem to be in very lumpy terrain. Would you say you’re a sucker for punishment? Not necessarily. I choose challenges because of the feeling they give me. Running at sacred Mount Fuji in Japan is always going to be a special experience. Really, uphills are easy. I’m motivated by getting over the other side. I’m thinking, “What will it be like? What animals will I see? How will the trees have changed since last time?” Take for example the

So you push hard on downhills while training? Oh yes! You can lose so much time on the downhills during a race. Lots of runners prepare their bodies very nicely for uphill, but they forget about the other side of the mountain. Downhills are so much more complicated. It’s harder to eat, harder to drink and easier to fall. If you don’t prepare properly for downhills your legs will be completely destroyed for the next ascent.


Sounds like you run some painful training sessions. How do you prepare your mind for these? Of course there’s going to be pain, both in training and racing. You decide – do you want the pain, or do you want to make it easy? You train with pain and you will get great results. You train without pain and you’re going to be disappointed on race day. The body has a lot of possibility; it’s just blocked by the mind. Seb is sponsored by The North Face, Petzl, Garmin, Overstims, and Zamst

SEB'S FAVOURITE HILL SESSION “I do very specific workouts, concentrating on quality running. They are very simple but effective and everyone can try them. You need a hill that’s 200m. Run up it at 100% effort, then walk slowly back down. Repeat 10 times. This winter I completed this workout once per week. The key is to relax on the way back down. Fast downhill running will undo all the good work. Reverse the workout for separate downhill training, but allow up to 12 days between sessions.”

SEB’S FAVOURITE EXERCISE During winter Séb completes two to three gym sessions a week. During the racing season he completes just one ‘top-up’ session per month. “I do lots of plyometric (jump training) using a weight vest, but the most effective exercise is probably the leg press machine. I do just six reps at maximum load. This is the session that makes a difference at the end of a mountain race.”

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Photography Steve Rencontre


13/01/2017 08:34


Affectionately described as ‘almost certainly the toughest 10K in Britain’, the Knacker Cracker is 10K-‘ish’ of lung-busting, quad-wrecking fun. Steve Rencontre sheds some light on the New Year’s Day madness


ou don’t have to be mad to run the Knacker Cracker, but... No, forget it, you do have to be mad to run the Knacker Cracker. When you could be at home, gently sleeping off your New Year’s Eve partying, instead you put on a silly costume and go to the top of Box Hill in Surrey. You do this in order to run down it, then back up it, then down the other side, back up, down again, up again, and finally – you guessed it – down and up again! But you are not alone in your madness. There are nearly 250 like you, all the National Trust will allow, and the race is a sellout every year. You will begin by assembling in a field and singing the National Anthem. Yoda will conduct with his light sabre. Beside you will be a bunch of pilgrims who went astray on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, but it’s OK because they’ve got the Pilgrim’s Way to Canterbury now. Behind you will be pirates, parrots, pierrots and puppets. Possibly cabbages, most certainly kings.

And then you’re off! At 11am pretty much to the second, because this is a Trionium race and Trionium races start on time. If you’re not right at the front, you start slowly because the track is narrow and there’s a lot of people to squeeze through a small gap in the trees, but shortly it opens out and you can see right across the Mole Valley. It seems a long way down, but it will seem a lot longer coming back up. You get back to the starting field, skirt the National Trust car park and you’re into the woods. Lots of tree roots and mud, but it’s reasonably flat for a bit. Then it’s down again, and you know what that means...


Oh look: lovely, muddy, uneven steps! Lots of them, leading sharply down. You run through the car park. There’s somebody dressed as a car running through the car park. Through the car park, across the road and more lovely steps, going up this time. They have been amusingly nicknamed the

‘Eiger Steps’. Best not to think about it, and especially best not to think that as soon as you get to the top, you will just turn round and come straight down again. Knacker your leg muscles on the way up, knacker your knees on the way down; what was this race called again? An almost gentle hill climb awaits you now. Almost. Then you’re back in the woods and now you can run down to the bottom of the valley again. You’re starting to get the hang of it, it’s really quite simple: every time you work hard to get to the top, you then have to throw it all away and do it over. Don’t remind yourself that you’ve actually paid money for this. So it’s up again, and then out into the open at the memorial to Leopold Salomons, who donated Box Hill to the nation, so you can blame him for everything! Round the trig point, maybe stop for water and Jaffa Cakes, look down at the cows grazing peacefully in the meadows below. They’re real cows, not people dressed as cows. Maybe somebody dressed as a cow will be along shortly.


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Back the way you came for a bit and then – well, whodathunkit?! – steps. Hurrah! The marshals shout encouragement and down you descend once more. At the bottom is the River Mole, and you cross by the bridge. This is too easy! Ah, but you come back by the stepping stones. Sometimes the river is too deep and the stones are submerged and impassable, but this year it’s fine. It’s just a question of balance and rhythm. If your legs still worked properly it would be a doddle. Made it! Now all you have to do is climb back up those steps and then it’s a sprint to the finish line. You collect your medal, your t-shirt, your mug, your carrot (yes, your carrot). You get your mug filled with tomato soup and there’s a cheese-andpickle buttie to go with it. Enjoy it, you’ve worked for it! “Never again!” you whimper. And start to think about what costume you might go for next year.

Clockwise from here: Darth Vader’s hot on the heels of a dog, a pirate and Superman; Yoda leads the charge; Cruella de Vil makes light work of Box Hill

KNACKER CRACKER IN NUMBERS Number of runners: 240 Winner: Dan Robinson, 50:34 Course record: Sylvain Garde, 45:51 (2011) Weather: Terrain:

Ascent: 500m Cost: £35 Verdict:

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International ultrarunner Robbie Britton has some lessons from the frontline

BRITT’S SCHOOL asking for water, because no matter how you pronounce “eau” you will get it wrong. I normally go for “agua” in whatever country I’m in to avoid the confusion. Last but not least, people will shout at you. Italians shout “die, die die” and are actually cheering you on. The French want you to “allez, allez, allez” and the Germans expect you to “hop, hop, hop.” Truly, the passion from fans is a beautiful thing. So, if you’ve not raced on the continent yet, get on the interweb and turn that Eurosceptic frown upside down. Allez!

Reign in Spain: Dani Gómez García on his way to winning the 32K Trail Cara los Tajos in Malaga, Spain

ULTRA RULE #8 Don’t set off too fast! It may seem like everyone is doing it and one, just one, may hold this pace to the finish, but you need to run your own race. It’s harder to do in Euro races where everyone is sprinting for the cheese, but you’ll enjoy the second half a whole lot more when you trot past those who went too hard too early.


Just in case we have another referendum about Brexit anytime soon, I’ll try to win some of you over by waxing lyrical on the joys of racing in Europe. It’s not just the food they do differently out here (although if you love cheese, you need to race in Switzerland); the whole racing culture is different. In France, there is even a word for a trail runner, “un traileur” (or “traileuse” for the missus). Nearly every mountain town in Switzerland has its own race, Italians apply to host the World Mountain Running Champs EVERY year and the Spanish supporters are some of the most passionate in the world. If you’re thinking of heading out to the continent for an event, there are a few things you should know beforehand. Firstly, they use poles and it’s not

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cheating (although it still is in Scotland). When I first raced out here, I took the terribly British attitude of frowning upon them. But when the mountain is steep enough to get you on your hands, the poles become invaluable. Another wonderful thing about European races is the pace at which they start. This is scientifically known as “dickhead pace” and everyone is clambering to win the race over the first kilometre, which is less than 1% of the full distance. Check out the UTMB start video for evidence of this. It’s quite possible that everyone is just in a rush to the first checkpoint, which will be amply stocked with cheese, meat, chocolate, pasta, dried fruit, funny gels you’ve never heard of, and loads of friendly volunteers. It’s worth the rush. One thing that is a struggle in France is

■RACE THIS EIGER TRAIL If you’re looking to enter the major Euro races, you need to get involved early because places are snapped up fast. However, there are plenty of little ones you can find around the Alps or Pyrenees. The Eiger Trail have events over all distances and the trails are brilliant.


13/01/2017 09:22


HIT THE TRAILS RUNNING WITH OUR SNEAK PEAK OF THE BEST NEW OFF-ROAD KIT Kalenji Run Light A unique light that sits on your chest, the Run Light’s reach of 20m isn’t comparable to that of a headtorch, but it has the advantage of lighting up the ground directly infront of a runner’s feet. Ideal for technical terrain in low light. RRP: £29.99

Beet It Sport Beetroot Flapjack The Beet It Sport Beetroot Flapjack contains 200mg of dietary nitrates, but is also packed with 53% oat flakes for slow-release energy to keep you going. RRP: £1.85

Ronhill Infinity Torrent Jacket This monsoon-ready jacket from Ronhill is sure to keep you dry, quite literally, whatever the weather. It feels nice and light though, thanks to the Aqualite fabric, while reflective graphics and a large, zipped pocket on the chest keep things practical. RRP: £120

Skins Compression Calf Tights Utilising Dynamic Gradient Compression to ensure optimal compression levels and increased oxygen delivery to your active calf muscles, these cramp-defying calf tights will come into their own in the business end of a race. RRP: £35

Arc’teryx Phase Ar Beanie A low-profile, lightweight, moisturewicking beanie constructed using Phasic™ base layer textiles; perfect for all-weather running RRP: £20 Odlo Kanon Running Shorts Featuring: integrated tights; a rear zip pocket; an adjustable waist; a mesh pocket; and 360-degree reflectivity, this incredibly comfy, lightweight pair of shorts from Odlo would be perfect for spring marathon training. RRP: £55

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Bored of the same old races? Find something different with Racebook, the new fullyinteractive online race listing from Wild Bunch Media, publishers of Men’s Running and Women’s Running. Racebook features the best events with images, video content, location maps and as much detail as anyone interested in running a race will ever need to know – from 5K to ultramarathons.


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10 10 JAYBIRD FREEDOM WIRELESS BUDS RRP: £169.99 These ooze premium style and feel way too classy to get sweaty (though they are sweatproof). The sound is phenomenal – and for sonic snobs, highly customisable in the accompanying app. With over a dozen accessories, from buds to those weird but effective ear-hook things, getting a comfy, secure fit isn’t a problem. The battery lasts four hours – and the battery charger carries another four hours. Top marks!

STRYD RRP: £165 Nothing provides more post-run insight to amaze/ bore other people with than a chest-based heartrate monitor (HR). However, the HR’s all-knowing status is about to be challenged. The wearable Stryd power pod is a 7g, apricotsized, waterproof, carbon-fibre pod easily attached to muddy shoelaces, like a race timer. Stryd defines power as a measurement of performance, technique, muscle strength and condition, and the external environment – the end game being greater running efficiency. The package includes power-based training programmes and your training zones are determined via a series of running tests (no need for a lactic threshold test a la HR). Usefully, vertical oscillation and ground contact time are recorded, which no GPS watch can do, and there’s data for leg spring/stiffness. It’s not perfect science yet – wind impacts the pod for example, thinking you’re going downhill – and it’s too early to be sure the Stryd pod will improve runners, after all it’s only recording data from one leg, not both. But it’s full of promise. Could this be the end of those pesky chest straps?

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ARCHON MOVE HR FITNESS TRACKER RRP: £49.99 This tracker is affordable – which we heartily applaud. Much tech is prohibitively expensive and this may get couchfavouring types up on their feet. As well as smart notifications, it tracks calories burnt, heart rate, distance and sleep – although accuracy of the latter is questionable. It’s also deliciously light, although on a thin wrist the buckle can be uncomfy and the swipe OLED touchscreen lags a bit.

SAUCONY STRIDE LAB APP RRP: FREE With input from Running Anatomy author Jay Dicharry, this app offers you a free stride and movement evaluation. It takes runners through a 30-minute assessment that involves you taking photos and videos of yourself doing exercises – though you will need a treadmill. Then it pinpoints areas where you could improve and provides targeted exercises, stretches and drills to help do so.

Words Damian Hall

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8 10 SAUCONY SONIC REFLEX JACKET RRP: £95 The Sonic Reflex Jacket’s 360-degree visibility makes it the perfect choice for low-light or night-time running. Its wind and water resistance is complemented by extra length at the back (so it doubles up as a good cycling jacket) and the zipped pockets are ready-made for gels or a set of keys. Like most running jackets, it’s best reserved for your colder outings, but warmth and dryness are guaranteed.

9 10 ASICS LITE-SHOW SS TOP RRP: £36 For those of you (most of you, we hope) not comfortable with running bare-chested, Asics’ incredibly lightweight top is the next best option. MotionDry technology and mesh fabric panels work to wick sweat away from your body as your temperature rises, with the mesh fabric also providing a run-boosting level of breathability. The high-visibility Lite-show reflective print will keep you, well, highly visible, and the displaced seams make chafing a thing of the past.

8 10 INOV-8 HALF-ZIPPED MID LAYER RRP: £50 This Inov-8 top is the perfect go-to for cold winter runs, simply for its versatility. With long sleeves, a half-zip and thumb holes it’s designed with the runner in mind and makes for the perfect layering option. And when the weather warms up slightly, it works just as well as a stand-alone top. It’s soft, reasonably light and even pretty useful in a light shower. You might not like the look of its £50-price tag, but you do get what you pay for.

9 10 TRIBE 5-INCH SHORTS RRP: £45 If you’re prone to quad cramp in the latter stages of a long-distance run, these are the shorts for you. The lightweight inner short acts as a compression layer, and proved highly effective for your tester during a recent marathon. The zip pocket and reflective detail are nice touches, while the stretch-woven fabric allows for complete freedom of movement. Perhaps the biggest complement we can pay these is that you’ll forget you’re wearing them: chafe-free comfort awaits!


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8 10 UA COLDGEAR INFRARED BEANIE RRP: £24 If your running suffers during the winter months, this might just be the answer. A lot of winter beanies don’t necessarily keep your head warm, and often can be seen as a hinderance. The soft and thermal inner in this one, however, creates real warmth, and not the type that’ll make you want to dispose of the thing after a mile of running. It’s light and stays relatively dry, too, just like UA’s thermal tops. If you’re a hat wearer, this won’t let you down.

7 10 DHB QUARTER LENGTH RUN SOCK RRP: £4.50 When it comes to a running sock, even the smallest of irritations can put you off your game. The best choices are often the simplest, and that’s certainly the case with this dhb effort. Its knitted construction combines lycra and nylon, which makes for a sleek sock that sits closely to the foot. It’s also pretty soft and doesn’t include any unnecessary bulk, which will no doubt please most runners. Overall, a no-nonsense and comfortable choice.

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8 10 2XU G2 WIND DEFENCE COMPRESSION TIGHTS RRP: £95 OK, we hear you – nearly £100 for a pair of tights, but bear with us. These tights offer more than just a liberal covering of your legs. As you’d expect from 2XU, there’s the graduated compression qualities that promise quicker warm-up and better recovery. But these tights are true winter warriors: the front features rain and wind-resistant panels for added protection, while the rear has special brushed thermal material for added warmth.

8 10 RAIDLIGHT ULTRA VEST OLMO 5L RRP: £70 Raidlight has updated the design of this pack, stripping back some of the weight but adding better support. The bottle holders are incorporated onto the straps and are designed to convert into pockets for supplies, offering multiple configurations. It feels comfortable on and there’s minimal bounce even on the bumpiest of trails. The pack also has a new storage system for trekking poles on the front of the bag, developed for easy carrying and ease of access.

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UPPER ADAPTERWEB met-cradle adapts to the natural movement and swelling of the foot in motion, while the Y-LOCK system holds the heel in place and offers support

MIDSOLE Two-piece POWERFLOW for shock absorption and energy return

6 10 SCARPA NEUTRON RRP: £99.99 Given its vast experience in producing rugged and durable outdoor footwear, it’s no surprise that Scarpa has applied some great features to the Neutron. The grippy Vibram sole and solid toe box make them ideal for technical trails and, considering the supportive construction, they’re also fairly light. A 6mm drop and firm ride mean they may not be everyone’s first choice for a 50-miler but they are otherwise comfortable. Frustratingly, though, they are let down by the fit, which is a little too loose in the heel.

8 10 SALOMON XA ENDURO RRP: £120 This smart-looking performance trail shoe has quite rightly got Salomon fans talking. The most noticeable feature is the elasticated ankle gaiter which is a joy to slip on, while the robust build, solid toe box and firm and grippy ride take more than a few design cues from last year’s innovative S-Lab XA Alpine running boot. The result is a beast of a shoe that’s ideal for tackling the gnarliest of technical terrain but remains remarkably light and responsive. With a sleek modern design, Salomon continue to raise the bar.

8 10 SAUCONY PEREGRINE 7 RRP: £105 Fans of this shoe will be delighted to hear that Saucony has listened to feedback on the previous incarnation, about lack of stability, and added a TPU Exoskeleton upper: the weave of the material helps improve the overall support and secures the midfoot. The result? A lightweight, low-profile trail shoe with an impressive outsole that delivers great traction without clogging up. A full-length EVERUN midsole, meanwhile, delivers impressive cushioning in what is a reasonably minimal shoe.

Testers Isaac Williams / Rick Pearson / David Castle / Tim Major

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INOV-8 ROCLITE 290 RRP: £105 The lightest model in inov-8’s much-loved Roclite range is versatility itself. Equally comfortable on muddy trails as it is on tarmacked roads, it’s the perfect option for those looking to move confidently over multiple terrains. Moreover, for a shoe that’s flexible and fairly lightweight (the 290 denotes its weight in grams), it packs in a decent amount of underfoot protection. Inevitably, the price of such versatility is a loss of specificity: the Roclite is neither as grippy as a fell shoe nor as streamlined as a road racer. But it does an impressive amount of things impressively well.

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New year, new you? In running terms, that might mean training more or training harder, but it might also mean trying something different. If you’re typically a road runner, why not resolve to get out on the trails in 2017? Going off-road could be the lift your running needs – just be sure to head out in the appropriate footwear. A good trail shoe needs to be tough, durable and grippy, but also light enough to run in. Hopefully one of the seven listed can take your fancy – and encourage you to get a bit muddy this spring.

OUTSOLE ROCLITE outsole features a Tri-C rubber compound and multi-directional claw-shaped cleats, each with a wide contact area, providing unrivalled grip over unpredictable terrain and the quick release of debris

9 10 LA SPORTIVA AKYRA RRP: £130 Fans of La Sportiva’s Ultra Raptor will be pleased to know the Akyra is similar, but better. A more aggressive outsole allows you to tear up any terrain, and a more breathable upper means you can clock some high mileage, in comfort. Your tester was impressed by the shoe’s stability over uneven ground, which is provided by the TrailCage System™ technology, placed between the two layers of the upper to provide structure and a snug fit. All this in a relatively lightweight shoe – no complaints here.

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8 10 MERRELL ALL OUT CRUSH SHIELD RRP: £90 Waterproof winter shoes are great at keeping your feet dry but they often lack flexibility in the trade-off with a waterrepellent upper. Enter Merrell’s new winter warrior – an off-road shoe that keeps your feet dry and offers enough flexibility to make you feel that allimportant ground contact. Star-shaped lugs offer good traction whether you’re going uphill or descending, and a plastic plate in the forefoot helps prevent bruises when you blast over rocks and more hostile terrain.

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ASICS GEL SONOMA 3 GTX RRP: £85 Following on from the good-value but unspectacular Gel Sonoma 2, this newand-improved version features the same supportive midsole and foot-hugging, breathable upper, but feels considerably more robust than its predecessor. That’s thanks, in the main, to the waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex upper, which will withstand the boggiest, ruttiest, rockiest of trails. Rear-foot ‘gel’ offers an extra element of cushioning and, although the shoe’s grippy, it performs suprisingly well away from the trails, too.

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STAY IN TOUCH! You don’t have to wait for a month to get your Men’s Running fix! Whether you’re a beginner or improver, our website will help you run better. Visit for free training plans, nutritional tips, workouts and health info! MR74_084.indd 84


@mensrunninguk 11/01/2017 15:43



©Tokyo Marathon Foundation


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RACE REVIEW Top to bottom: runners are dropped in the middle of nowhere; a map that would be incredibly useful if maps were permitted...


Dan Stinton is bundled onto a bus, blindfolded, and driven to the middle of nowhere in order to experience The Drop, a navigation-testing race like no other


can feel the sun shining on the back of my neck as nervous chatter slowly spreads throughout the bus. I see glimmers of light through the edge of my goggles but the eye piece is slathered in green paint so any chance of seeing where we’re going is impossible. As the bus twists and turns round various corners, trying to remember the route seems a pointless exercise so I give up. My thoughts turn to counting up how many calories I’ve eaten recently. It’s only a few days after Christmas and one thing is for certain: this is the biggest carb-load I’ve ever done. This is Team OA’s The Drop. A very different type of race with no maps, compass, phone, GPS watches or money allowed. Competitors are bundled into a bus in the centre of Huddersfield, with all banned items secured in an emergency bag, and driven either five, 10 or 15 miles (as the crow flies) from the town. The aim is, simply, to make your way back to Event HQ using your own two legs. I have no knowledge of Huddersfield, or anywhere close, so I stick with the 10-mile option, hoping that I’ll be able to either ask someone, follow road signs or have a zenlike experience of just knowing the way. As the bus trundles along I try to picture a local map in my head and the realisation dawns on me that I haven’t really prepared

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for this. I try to focus my mind and, remembering the sun on the back of my neck earlier, think we have probably headed north-west (as it turns out a very good prediction!) and decide the best strategy will be to head back south, or at least in that general direction.


A short while after dropping off the 15-milers, the entrants for the 10-miler are ushered off the bus. I lift my goggles, blink into the sunlight and look around. It looks exactly like somewhere within a 10-mile radius of Huddersfield should look, but other than that I have no idea where I am. I recall pub talk of how best to approach the challenge – I’m sure someone said that when cows lie down they always point towards Huddersfield. With no cows in sight, I take the simplest option and follow the bulk of the pack. It’s not long before we reach a large



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RACE REVIEW Clockwise from here: time for a pre-race selfie; apprehensive group photo at the start; long road into Huddersfield; happy to finish; a welcome sign; “I’m sure we’ve passed this wall already?”

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“I SMILE TO MYSELF REMEMBERING MY COLLEAGUE’S COMMENTS THAT I MUST BE THE ONLY PERSON TO EVER WANT TO RUN INTO HUDDERSFIELD!” crossroads and decision time looms. I’ve already spoken to a fellow runner who said he’s local and he runs straight ahead, but pretty much everyone else takes a right. Mob mentality takes over so I follow the main pack. It soon starts to thin out and I start a conversation with another runner named Sarah. I’m still feeling the effects of Christmas, so I’m glad there’s no need for lung-busting paces and I can enjoy taking in my surroundings. I have no idea where I am so some comfortable jogging and chat in the crisp frosty countryside is just what is needed. I ask Sarah how she’s feeling about the race. It turns out she’s from Halifax and is running in a team with Steve (both members of the Halifax Harriers) who is ploughing on some 100m ahead. They have had a dream “drop” because they know where they are! This gives me a conundrum as I almost feel like I’m cheating, but if they take a right turn it would seem complete madness to take a left, so I decide to go with the flow and tag along for a while. Spotting a road sign to Huddersfield gives me some comfort we’re headed on the right track as we run though the Yorkshire town of Halifax, following some slightly backwater routes in broad alignment with the busy A629. Even locals get lost though and before I know it we take a random turn through a dry old field leading up to a steep bank at the side of a dual-carriageway. Before contemplating if it’s a good idea or not, we clamber up the bank and run on the small verge the wrong way up the road. Clearly the desire to find our destination is great but I do smile to myself remembering some of my work colleagues’ comments that I must be the only person to ever want to run into Huddersfield!

I pick up a nice pace as we reach a comfortable downhill section which leads back to the town and the rather fantastic race HQ – a stylish micropub called Arcade Beers. Team OA have a projected a large map on the wall tracking everyone’s position around “The Drop” zone, and while some have clearly taken the scenic route, everyone eventually makes it back to HQ safely. This is a unique race that takes us statsobsessed runners back to basics. It leaves you to simply enjoy the pleasure of running without knowing how far along your journey you are, or how far you have left to go. A metaphor for life if ever I’ve heard one.

DROP IN NUMBERS Number of runners: 76 5-mile winner: Karen Thompson, 1:32:33 10-mile winner: Rob Yorke, 1:55:22 15-mile winner: Paul Rose, 2:56:47 Weather:

Terrain: Wherever you decide to go Cost: £55 Verdict:

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Clockwise from here: synchronised running; pre-race nerves; out of bounds; friendly marshalls to guide the way

Rick Pearson heads to the Gut Buster 10 to break a bad habit and enjoy a mulled wine 


n 2016, I became a bit of a walker. Having previously prided myself on my ability to “tough it out” in races, I found myself reduced to a walk as soon as the terrain took a turn for the vertical. Often it was only for a few brief strides. But it had become a habit, and it needed to stop.  So I was determined to make my final race of the year, the Gut Buster, a return to form. Not so much a Gut Buster, if you will, as a rut-buster.  Now in its seventh year, the Gut Buster takes place on New Year’s Eve and offers distances of 10 miles and 10K. Starting and finishing at Butlers Lands Farm, Berkshire, it takes in muddy fields, undulating roads and even a ford. For those looking to get into calorie deficit before the New Year’s Eve partying commences, there are few better options.  After a quick race briefing, during which the assembled throng are informed that “there’ll be plenty of mud this year,” the 10-mile brigade set off, with the 10K runners starting five minutes afterwards. Those running with a time in mind are

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encouraged to get to the front as the narrow opening section provides little chance for overtaking. I position myself about three rows back, noting that the front two rows are essentially composed of schoolchildren who have possibly overestimated their running ability. Off we head, slipping and sliding down the grassy verge. The school kids have done what school kids do – headed off at an utterly unsustainable pace – so I keep things steady, safe in the knowledge I’ll be overtaking them soon enough. 


The first few kilometres are as tough as advertised: thick with mud and unrelentingly hilly. I find myself running with the leading lady, and try to feed off the support she’s getting from the smattering of spectators. By kilometres four and five, we’ve overtaken most of the kids and are starting to make contact with the back of the 10-mile brigade.  The atmosphere is convivial and uncompetitive, with lots of runners encouraging each other along. I attempt Photography Peter Cook


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Clockwise from here: one of the quicker-thanexpected school kids; Rick digs deep; the medalcum-bottle-opener; tongues out if you’re making this look far too easy

to enter into the spirit of things, but am forced to reconsider when I realise I’m too out of breath to form a sentence.  Besides, I have bigger things on my mind. Like the looming hill at kilometre eight. How am I going to get up it without, once more, resorting to a walk? Having read about how Paula Radcliffe used to block out the pain by slowly counting to 100 in her head, I attempt the same tactic. “One… two…. three…” Quickly realising that this only works if you’re a highly disciplined elite athlete, I opt for plan B: man the f**k up, run up the hill.  Thankfully, the end is now in sight. The 92 • March 2017

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final kilometre consists of a steep downhill followed by a muddy ascent to the finish. I’m a mud-caked mess by the end but am buoyed by the news that I’ve finished in sixth place. Granted, I was beaten by one of those kids, but at least I didn’t walk. The post-race goody bag is nonexistent but the medal does double as a bottleopener, which will undoubtedly come in useful this evening. What’s more, there’s some excellent recovery nutrition on offer: a minced pie and a glass of mulled wine. I enjoy both and am feeling pretty good about the race. I busted a gut and got out of a rut. Roll on 2017.  @mensrunninguk

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BUSTER IN NUMBERS Number of runners: 609 Winning 10-mile time: Colin Seymour, 1:04:59 Winning 10K time: Max Martin, 40:29 Weather: Terrain:

Cost: £25 Verdict:


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Clockwise from here: everyone’s favourite aspect of racing – the group warm-up; cresting the hill; we run in peace; Isaac (centre) with Jack (left) and Marcus (right)

BOUNCING BACK Despite the mid-winter weather, Isaac Williams finds cause for some unexpected optimism at the Brixton 10K

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igning up to a post-Christmas race seemed like such a good idea at the time. “New Year, new me” I vowed, reaching for another Quality Street and thinking up one more reason not to go for a run. Toeing the start line of the RunThrough Brixton 10K several weeks on, however, I’ve successfully negotiated the new year, but this isn’t quite the new me I’d hope for: half a stone heavier and, judging by the fiveminute jog to get here, worryingly unfit. Nonetheless, resolved to refind my running mojo, I’m looking forward to using the race as an early-year marker; whatever the result, things can and should only get better. More importantly, I’m running with two friends, Jack and Marcus, and the Photography RunThrough

consequences of losing to either don’t bear thinking about. The race’s name, it must be pedantically said, is a little misleading: the route takes in three laps of the pristine Brockwell Park – a vast, green (hilly!) oasis in south London – rather than, thankfully, the heaving streets of Brixton itself. As is the norm at races these days, a collective warm-up – lots of “come on guys!” and “feel that stretch!” – leaves everyone (or maybe just me) suitably embarrassed and more ready to run/ escape than ever. We ambitiously take our places among the front runners and, after a 10-to-one countdown, we’re off. This is, obviously, at a pace best described as unsustainable, @mensrunninguk

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BRIXTON IN NUMBERS Number of runners: 414 Distance: 10K Male winner: Andrew Inglis, 33:59 First female: Georgina Frost, 40:25 Weather: Terrain:

Cost: £18 Verdict: because despite a fairly well-stocked racing CV, I’ll never learn that comfort levels in the opening minute or so aren’t a good indicator of correct pacing. The first kilometre is characterised by lots of positive self-talk – “you’ve run marathons; this is easy” – and unnecessary bursts of pace to overtake anyone who it would severely hurt my ego to lose to. Then it’s onto the first hill (a subjective term, admittedly: one man’s hill is another man’s mound). “This one’s a killer,” says Jack – a native to these parts and therefore at an unassailable advantage (should I lose) – as we begin the gradual climb. Roughly 600 metres later and we’re at the top, desperately trying to contain wheezed breaths. The beauty of hills,

though, is that they’re double-sided, and just as soon as we’ve reached the summit, we’re flying down the other side. With one lap almost complete, one final shorter, sharper incline awaits, then it’s a loop round some tennis courts at the top before we’re careering back down to the start. “Two laps to go!” encourages a volunteer. “Two laps to go?!” chimes the emergent voice of doubt. By the time I pass the same volunteer one lap later, any self-doubt isn’t so much emerging as screaming aggressively in my face. The consistent pace up till now is becoming harder to cling onto and those hills have taken their toll. In such perilous mid-race situations, though, I find it’s useful to remember that death isn’t

actually upon me. Can I keep running for 15 more minutes? Yes, probably. Happily, that prediction comes true, and quarter of an hour later I’m sprinting – with that uniquely panicked, tunnel-visioned sense of delirium/euphoria that comes on in the final 400m of a race – to cross the line. My 47th-place is some three minutes slower than my PB but, crucially, it is ahead of Jack (49th) and my other running buddy Marcus (59th). As I collect my medal – engraved with various Brixton landmarks – and some sort of remarkably dense protein flapjack, I’m left to reflect on a race that, though far from my best, was at least much better than expected. The bounce back has begun. March 2017 • 95

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Experience a running culture like no other in the world’s most populated city




A relative newcomer on the block, the first Tokyo Marathon was held in 2007 and quickly developed a reputation as one of the events to do – so much so that it was added to the ‘grand slam’ of marathons (the Abbot World Marathon Majors) in 2013.

competitors might be. The toughest thing about Tokyo is actually getting in to the race: it’s even more oversubscribed than London and organisers say that only a 10th of amateur runners are successful. But there are sports travel companies that can guarantee entry as part of a wider travel package, if you can afford it.



It’s the ultimate bucket-list event. Many marathon aficionados leave this event until last to complete their grand slams. The course is fast – downhill at the start, flat in the middle and a little uphill towards the end – there are signs in English and multi-lingual volunteers, and support along the course is unprecedented.


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In Tokyo, obviously. Around a third of the 2017 course will cover new ground. It still starts at Tokyo City Hall but the finish has been moved to just outside Tokyo Station. The course promises to be flatter but you’ll miss out on passing the Imperial Palace, undoubtedly one of the highlights in previous years. Still, at least you’ll get more support along the way!





General entries for the 2018 race will open on 1 August, while guaranteed charity places open a month before. Alternatively, look for a UK sports travel operator with places.

Sunday 26 February, 2017. Words David Castle Photography ©Tokyo Marathon Foundation


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find your local running specialist Buckinghamshire Apex Sports 1 Prospect Court, The Broadway, Beaconsfield Road, Farnham Common, Buckinghamshire SL2 3QQ 01753 647339 Specialist running and triathlon shop offering a wide range of apparel for people of all abilities.

Leicestershire Leicester Running Shop 146a Clarendon Park Road, Leicester LE2 3AE // 0116 2708447 We are a friendly specialist running shop run by dedicated runners. Our main strength is our gait analysis service to help with shoe selection. We’re glad to help with questions or enquiries.

Cumbria Pete Bland Sports 34A Kirkland, Kendal, Cumbria LA9 5AD 01539 731012 The running and fitness specialists. We have everything the runner needs.

Lincolnshire Metres to Miles Running Specialist 15-17 High Street, Epworth DN9 1EP 01427 872 323 Wide selection of shoes, apparel and accessories from the leading brands in running. Experienced runners provide the most comprehensive treadmill gait analysis in the region.

Devon Frank Elford Sports 27 Mayflower Street, Plymouth, Devon PL1 1QJ 01752 265122 Run by runners for runners. Video gait analysis in-store. Kent The Running Outlet 54 Palace Street, Canterbury, Kent CT1 2DY // 01227 379998 Offering a premium selection of running footwear, apparel and accessories from Kent’s premier running specialist. We offer a full video gait analysis for all customers. Lancashire Foot Traffic 463 Blackburn Road, Bolton, Lancashire BL1 8NN 01204 301230 and NOW OPEN IN PRESTON 17 Northway, Broughton, Preston PR3 5JX Just 1 mile from M6/M55 Junction. 01772 860200 The largest selection of specialist running footwear in the North West. Video gait analysis experts. FREE X-SOCKS with all shoe purchases. The Runners Centre King Street, Lancaster, LA1 1LE 01524 845559 The Runners Centre is the North West's premier specialist running retailer. Daily free in-store video gait analysis, plus regular in-store promotions with lots of free goodies. The Runners Centre, where all runners come first. Monday–Saturday 09.30 – 17.30

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London Kings Road Sporting Club 38-42 Kings Road, London SW3 4UD 020 7589 5418 // London’s premier sports store. Brands include ASICS, Brooks, New Balance, Vivo Barefoot, Gore, Nike, SKINS, Zoca and Casall, to name a few.

Surrey Run to Live 74 Church Street Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 8EN 0845 263 8801 Specialist shop with video gait analysis and bra-fitting service. Sussex The Jog Shop 39B George Street, Brighton BN2 1RJ 01273 675717 Warwickshire Coventry Runner 223 Burnaby Road, Radford, Coventry CV6 4AX // 024 7666 8498 Five minutes from J3 M6. See website for details.

Yorkshire SMK Running Now open at: 16 Temple Street, Keighley, BD21 2AD Westgate, Cleckheaton BD19 5ET Scotland Achilles Heel 593 Great Western Road, Glasgow G12 8HX 0141 342 5722 RunUrban Ltd 1035 Cathcart Road, Glasgow G42 9XJ Opening Times: Monday-Saturday 9.30am – 5.30pm Closed on Sunday // 0141 632 9638 This cutting-edge store keeps you streets ahead in style and comfort.

Northamptonshire The Running Shop 11 St. Leonards Road, Far Cotton, Northampton NN4 8DL 01604 701 961 Personal service, gait analysis, mail order welcome. Somerset Running Bath 19 High Street, Bath BA1 5AJ 01225 462555 The best footwear. The very best service. Staffordshire Bournesports 36-42 Church Street, Stoke-On-Trent, ST4 1DJ // 01782 410411 Seasoned runner? Want to take up the sport? We have a range of shoes, clothing and accessories to help. Running Form Physio Form Dallow House Victoria Street, Burton Upon Trent, Staffs. DE14 2LS // 01283 563331 // Video gait analysis, footwear, clothing, accessories, watches, HR monitors and GPS, rehab equipment, shop in-store or online, physiotherapy and sports injury clinic.


0208 996 5167 11/01/2017 15:44


Jim Old finds that man’s best friend can, when on a run, turn into anything but



’m running along a forest path. I round a bend and see two dogs: an Alsatian and some kind of Doberman cross. Barking aggresively, they bound towards me. I consider my options. I could turn and flee. This is the most immediately appealing idea but I realise it would just make me a more attractive prey and only delay my savaging by seconds. I could dive into the bushes but the same would apply. I decide to face them down – to try to psyche them out with my very humanness. I stick out my chin, quicken my step and up my pace. The distance between us closes rapidly. When I first started writing this column a friend said, “You should do one on dogs. You know, haha, bloody dogs!” I nodded and smiled but dismissed the idea. The whole ‘man’s best friend is a runner’s worst enemy’ thing didn’t chime with my experience. Since then, though, I’ve had good reason to reconsider. Back in the woods, these two viciouslooking bastards are almost within pouncing range. They don’t seem the slightest bit bothered by my humanness. Meanwhile, I’m feeling around 90% less brave. Suddenly their owner appears, sees what’s about to unfold and gives a shout. The dogs are instantly reminded that they’re not supposed to hunt people, even if they are running. The Alsatian returns to its master while the Doberman vanishes into the undergrowth in search of something it is allowed to chase. I smile my relieved thanks to the man as I pass. I like dogs. I would own one myself were it not for my wife’s “furlergy” and the fact I could never pick up a freshly laid dog-egg with my hand in a plastic bag without throwing up. I encounter dogs on most of my runs and there’s usually a stepping-over/swerving-round incident. This is OK. Everyone knows dogs have terrible spatial awareness. But while most will ignore us runners completely, even to the point of veering

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blindly into our path, there’s always one who will view us as a plaything, or a preything. Big dogs loose in the woods can be scary but it’s pointless being sizeist when it comes to assessing canine risk. I once had to sprint from a tiny Yorkie that had morphed from an old lady’s companion animal into a spitting, cross-eyed hairball of frenzied psychosis as I ran past. It pursued me, intent on murder, until it outran the length of its extendable lead and was brought up short with a throttled yelp. It was “breedism” that got me into trouble in my most bizarre dogencounter. When a large poodle bounced Photography

up to me as I ran in my local park, I thought: “You’re a poodle, for Pete’s sake. What can you do?” I quickly found out. It positioned itself right behind me and repeatedly placed both forepaws on my heel as I lifted my foot at the start of my stride. I stumbled three times before turning on the dog and shouting, “Go away!” But only a yell from its owner, who was almost helpless with laughter, brought my ordeal to an end. The dog was laughing too, I know it was; tongue lolling, mad eyes rolling. It had done this before. Upending runners was clearly its party trick. What was it my friend said? “You know, haha, bloody dogs! @mensrunninguk

13/01/2017 14:09

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Mens Running - March 2017 UK