ULTIMATE TECH GUIDE 30 MUST-GET GADGETS
E U R T t i r g push
to how ugh pain thro
5 secrets to conquer your Xmas hangover
Fight fatigue with our 20min leg workout
Are your work shoes ruining your feet?
Frozen solid: the coldest race on earth
PLUS ALL THE KIT YOU’LL NEED THIS XMAS MR72_001.indd 1
JANUARY 2017 – £4.50
Tech Fleece Hat BUFF BUFF ® and Flat is Boring® are registered trademarks property of Original Buff, S.A. (Spain)
Made to Last Keep running all winter long with ergonomically designed BUFF® headwear that keeps you comfortable and dry, plus soft reflective stripes make you visible to vehicles 150 meters away.
Look for the hat & neckwear matching in design.
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Buffera Ltd, Cranborne House, Cranborne Road, Potters Bar, EN6 3JN Tel 01707 852244 e firstname.lastname@example.org
Available from most good outdoor retailers and online at: www.buffwear.co.uk
Editorial director David Castle email@example.com Editor Rick Pearson firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 020 8996 5089 Assistant editor Isaac Williams email@example.com
Art editor James Wilkinson firstname.lastname@example.org Social media editor Melody Smith email@example.com Multimedia editor Josh Puttock firstname.lastname@example.org
CAN YOU TRY HARDER?
e all think we’re giving 100% in races. But watching some elite athletes, their faces contorted in late-race agony, I can’t help but ask myself: how hard am I really trying? In Matt Fitzgerald’s How Bad Do You Want It? – a brilliant book with a toe-curlingly bad title – he writes about our ‘unreachable physical limit’. That’s not to say we are all super-athletes of unlimited potential. Quite the opposite: we are all wimps unwilling to break free from our mind-forged manacles. It is not the body that slows us down, but the brain. The bravest athletes – the Prefontaines, Radcliffes and Brownlees – get closer to their physical limit than most. The rest of us? My guess is that we rarely realise more than 80% of our physical potential. Yet we can, with consistent training and iron-willed determination, walk a little further along those hot coals. Perhaps not as far as Radcliffe or Brownlee, but further than we’ve ever gone before. It’s a theme that David Smyth explores further in the month’s ‘Suffer club’ article on page 60, speaking with some of these athletes about how they’re able to push themselves to their very limits. So next time you find yourself in a race, telling yourself the same old lie that you’re trying your hardest, be brave and ask yourself honestly: can I give more? The answer is, inevitably, yes.
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Contributors Robbie Britton, Steve Way, Martin Yelling, Renee McGregor, Ceri Rees, Jim Old, Rob Griffiths, Damian Hall, Laura Fountain, Peter Liddiard, Gareth Charles, Tim Major, Michael Donlevy, David Smyth, Andrew Simms,
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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 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.
Artist and illustrator Peter gets creative on our new ‘Survivor’s guide’ – a field guide to all areas of running. This month: ultrarunning (p16).
Journalist and sub-3 marathon man David speaks with the masters of mental strength to learn how they dig so deep (p60).
Author, analyst and campaigner Andrew travels to the land of clogs and tulips to take part in the Amsterdam Marathon (p92).
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 mensrunninguk.co.uk ISSN 2042-972X
FIVE ISSUES FOR A FIVER
Turn to page 36 and find out how you can subscribe and get five issues for £5
January 2017 • mensrunninguk.co.uk 3
CONTENTS JANUARY 2017 DOWNLOAD THE DIGITAL EDITION
SUBSCRIBE TODAY! see page 36 for details
Cover photo Martin Scott Powell Cover model Ola Nyberg Clothing Vivobarefoot Location Trillevallen, Sweden
ISSUE 72 – JANUARY 2017 MENSRUNNINGUK.CO.UK PACEMAKER
14 16 19 20 22 24 26 28
In the news All the need-to-know facts and figures from the world of running Survivor’s guide Our new monthly feature looks at how to navigate the world of ultras Way’s world Marathon maestro Steve Way offers some top tips for running in the cold Big Marathon Challenge Apply to be part of next year’s BMC for the running journey of a lifetime The vaults Delve into the running archives with our selection of iconic snaps Superfood Why the fat-filled avocado should be on every runner’s menu Recipes Vibrant vegetarian dishes to power your run and aid your recovery Fat to fit How running has helped one MR reader cope with a turbulent few years Runner’s digest Top nutritionist Renee McGregor on how to banish the Xmas hangover
4 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
How hard are you really trying? Why the answer could be: not enough
32 34 38 40 42 44
Anatomy of a runner Explore the training and technique of 400m king Michael Johnson Gentleman’s guide Fight the festive fitness slump by following our five golden rules Cross-training How stand-up paddleboarding offers a run-boosting, full-body workout Treatment room Relax, take it easy: why efficient running begins with the jaw Buggy running masterclass Expert guidance on how you, too, can become a bona fide pushy parent Workout Improve balance and leg strength with our lower-body circuit
47 66 70
Ultimate Tech Guide Thirty of the very best gadgets and gizmos for stat-hungry runners Are running clubs in decline? A look at the health of UK clubs and why all runners should join theirs Shoes wisely How work shoes affect your running
76 80 82
Project Trail It’s taper time for our ultraunners – how are they feeling ahead of race day? Trail mindset Resident wild man Ceri Rees on how to think like an off-road runner Dealing with disappointment GB ultrarunner Robbie Britton explains how to get over a bad run
85 86 88
Running tech A GPS watch, headphones, a ‘lifestraw’ and an app all feature Christmas wishlist Running-related gift ideas – from the small (cheap) to the mighty (pricey) Budget shoes Seven affordable running shoes that won’t break the bank
Amsterdam Marathon Andrew Simms tackles the cobbled streets of Holland’s capital Great South Run David Castle reports from the world’s premier 10-mile event
MAIL PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
In January 2014, I began life as a primary school headteacher and needed something to help deal with the challenges that the role brings. I chose running. Just over two and a half years later I have just secured my first top-10 finish in a local 10K race, but can’t help feel I could have done better. If only I’d put more into my hill sessions... If only I’d maintained three training runs a week... If only I’d not gone off quite as fast... If only I’d pushed harder at the end... If only I could stop myself thinking this way! Running has brought me so much positivity in such little time, but it still has that negativity element of “I could have done better.” I don’t think you can ever stop that, but you can
choose what to do about those thoughts. My response is to: a) make changes to my training and trial the use of a heart-rate monitor and b) sit back and think, “Wow, I secured a top-10 place!” Carl Pattison, Mansfield Woodhouse Editor: A lot of runners are perfectionists: never satisfied, always looking for ways to improve. That’s a good thing – up to a point. It keeps you honest but it can also mean you’re never happy. Try to enjoy your successes. Having run for only two years, you finished in the top 10 of a race. Many people will never do this. Congrats!
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 soarrunning.com
TWEETS OF THE MONTH
@arsenalman2013 – As well as a PB at @ChelmsfordMara getting to finish with my daughter was the best feeling ever @MensRunningUK
sign up for another race, before postmarathon bliss turns into post-race blues.
Having run my first marathon recently, I’m wondering when it’s going to be acceptable to step off the cloud I’m floating on?! No one warned me it would feel this good; I would have done one years ago! Simon Kirkby, Cheshire Editor: Ah, the feeling of post-marathon bliss. Enjoy it. Having run 26.2 miles, you deserve to bask in the glory for a while, don’t you think? Like all good things, however, it won’t last forever. My advice: 6 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
I was particularly taken by Stephen Curry’s letter in the November issue of Men’s Running [on the uniting, community aspect of running]. I’ve recently taken to running (my first race was July) and managed to shave a whopping six minutes off my 10K PB within three months. Now I’ve entered a marathon and find myself thinking about running all the time! I’ve also established a run club with people at work and find the social aspect so much more rewarding than anything I’ve ever done. Ed Gilchrist, London Editor: Great to hear from another runner who’s discovering the uplifting powers of our sport. It really is much more of a group activity than many people realise, and we’d encourage all readers to sign up to their local club (or start their own) to experience this camaraderie firsthand. Also, six minutes off your 10K PB? Please tell me your secret!
@AllHailTheTrail – We can’t all run ALL the time can we? Today I made a beetroot/pistachio recipe from @MensRunningUK practising nutrition for #projecttrail @MensRunningUK – How to train for the mountains in the heart of the city: ow.ly/ eBkF305l4hz @Glenntait – Move to #Edinburgh and it’s easy! @MensRunningUK – Congrats to @ bobdylan for winning the Nobel Prize for literature. If there was a #NobelPrize for running, who would win? @IsaacWilliamsHQ – @Mensrunninguk @bobdylan Sri Chinmoy: spiritual leader, runner and weightlifter extraordinaire
S S I W S E H T G N I K A E M L T T I L A ALPSTER. FLAT gineering
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Â© Ydwer van der Heide / Red Bull Content Pool
Ultrarunner Florian Neuschwander makes light work of the mountainous terrain in the High Tauern national park, where dormant ski slopes provide perfect practice for hill-hungry trail runners. redbull.com
Pictures from the pain cave: a gallery of your grizzliest mid-race gurns. Send in your snaps!
FACE TOP GURN
Ben Groom Two Bays Tough 10
Ian Hughes Northampton Half Marathon
Carl Horth Sundowner Sprint Triathlon
John Hall Ealing Half Marathon
Carl Horth wins a ‘Wash Bag Set’ from ManCave: the supremeperformance, natural men’s grooming range with a premium fragrance mancaveinc.co.uk 10 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
Dale Hepples 2016 Great North Run
Paul Lang n Ealing Half Maratho
Want to share your Race Face? email firstname.lastname@example.org @mensrunninguk
INSIDE 14 IN THE NEWS 16 SURVIVOR’S GUIDE 19 WAY’S WORLD 22 THE VAULTS 24 SUPERFOOD 26 RECIPES 28 FAT TO FIT 30 RUNNER’S DIGEST
IN THE NEWS CRUNCH TIME IN THE BIG APPLE
14 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
MAKING WAVES Conscientiousness hasn’t always been a word synonymous with the shoe industry, but Adidas’ latest venture suggests a turning of the tide. The sports giant recently unveiled the UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley, the first mass-produced footwear created using Parley Ocean Plastic. Featuring a Primeknit upper made from a mix of Ocean PlasticTM, created from plastic waste retrieved by Parley coastal interception and clean-up operations in the Maldives (95%), and recycled polyester (5%), the shoes laces, heel cap base material, heel webbing, heel lining and sock-liner cover are also made with recycled materials. Adidas claims it is ‘inspired by ocean waves, to reflect the shoe’s unique story and Adidas and Parley’s commitment to end the cycle of pollution in the oceans’.
© Badwater.com / ©AdventureCORPS
Two-time Badwater champ Pete Kostelnick has shattered the record for running across the USA. Crossing from Pennsylvania into New York state on 24 October, he finished at New York City Hall a massive four days ahead of the previous world record – which stood since 1980. In order to run an average of 72+ miles a day, Kostelnick rose between 3:00-3:30am for 42 days. Key to the journey’s success was making sure that every step of Kostelnick’s cross-country run was appropriately documented for the Guinness World Records’ consideration. So, each morning, Kostelnick strapped on two identical GPS watches (in case one broke). In the afternoon, he replaced those with two more, while the support team gathered witness signatures, took videos and photos, and assembled media reports. But enough about running: arguably Kostelnick’s most impressive achievement was the 13,000 calories he consumed each day! Flying in the face of nutrition naysayers, his diet consisted of McDonald’s, fizzy drinks, Subway sandwiches, massive steaks and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.
© TCS New York City Marathon
More than 52,000 runners headed to Statten Island for the start of the 2016 New York City Marathon on Sunday 6 November. The cool, sunny conditions also brought a million fans to the streets for the race’s 40th running through the five boroughs. The race, the largest marathon in the world, was won by Eritrea’s Ghirmay Ghebreslassie, who broke the tape in 2:07:51. Not only is Ghebreslassie the first Eritrean to win the race since its inception in 1970, the 20-year-old is also the youngest men’s winner. In the wheelchair race, after dueling for 26.2 miles, Marcel Hug of Switzerland held off Australia’s Kurt Fearnley to win by a whisker. Both men were given the same time – 1:35:49 – with Hug winning by a mere six hundredths of a second.
Words Isaac Williams / Rick Pearson
WELCOME TO THE 6AM CLUB WITH ON
“In April I will run my first every marathon, at Brighton. I’ve been running for about two years now and I know the training through the winter will be hard, but I am looking forward to it in a strange way. Running in the freezing cold and gale-force winds won’t be a problem, but I am getting worried about not being mentally tough enough to take on the 26.2 miles. Are there any good techniques or articles I can read on how to shut out the negative voices and think positive? Derek Chambers, Hamilton
The prospect of running 26.2 miles is a daunting one, no doubt, but there’s plenty you can do to keep positive. We’re fans of Matt Fitzgerald’s How Bad Do You Want It?, which looks at how mentally tough athletes from a variety of sports manage to dig so deep. Speaking of which, check out this month’s feature on mental toughness (p60). Hopefully that should help to provide some inspiration. Team MR
6 CLUB MOTIVATION AM
THE 6AM CLUB HELPS RUNNER STEPH MCCALL FIT TRAINING AROUND HER DEMANDING JOB The On 6am Club is about normal people with busy lives achieving some amazing things through early-morning runs. Each person has their own reason for running at the crack of dawn – high pressured jobs, busy family life – but the 6am Club is their common ground. The club runners have been sharing their stories with us, and this month we speak to Steph… “Hello from the On 6am Club. I’m Steph, currently the only female member of the club. As with Kevin, featured last month, I get up early to meet the other 6am club runners and hit the roads and parks to train before we get on with our day. “For me, it’s about fitting training in around my demanding job. It’s hard work but the buzz you get after completing a run when most of your friends are yet to surface from bed is amazing. This combined with my very high personal running goals, all of which would be a dream if it wasn’t for the guys in the 6am Club along with my other training partners. “The main focus currently is to build on the success of last cross-country season where I earned my first England vest, as well as to make progress on the roads at a national level. This won’t become reality through magic, but I’m ready for the hard work – and the dark and cold mornings through the winter – to make this happen.
© Greater Long Island Running Club
PUSH IT REAL GOOD
A 1:18 half marathon is a great time by any standards – but imagine doing it while pushing two toddlers in a running buggy. That’s exactly what Chris Solarz did at the Suffolk County Half Marathon in New York last month. The 38-yearold pushed his two children – Sebastien, 4, and Sophie, 2 – at 5:57min/mile pace, setting a new world record for the fastest half marathon while pushing a two-person stroller. Solarz is no stranger to world records, having previously set high watermarks for most amount of miles run on a treadmill in 12 hours (77) and fastest marathon as a linked team of five (2:53:24). He’s now started to search for three-person running buggies to accommodate the latest addition to his family, four-month-old Genevieve. Watch this space…
“Running with the 6am Club is a huge motivation and the other athletes have made me believe that progress has no finish line. Add in a great pair of shoes and I have everything I need! I run in On Clouds. The Cloud is a very fast and light shoe with full flexibility, great for training and for races.”
SHARE YOUR 6AM RUN PHOTOS WITH US @ON_RUNNING #6AMCLUBUK VISIT ON-RUNNING.COM FOR SHOES THAT WILL PUT SOME FUN INTO YOUR EARLY MORNING RUN. January 2017 • mensrunninguk.co.uk 15
ALL THE GEAR
Hokas at the ready! Our monthly field guide begins with the wacky world of ultrarunning
ULTRARUNNING HYDRATION PACK: Stuffed with energy gels, gluten-free snacks and a ripped out page from Born to Run, the hydration pack is the ultrarunner’s comfort blanket. Particular points are gained for wearing it shirtless while running in Boulder, Colorado.
SWEATBAND (WORN ON THE WRIST): All the fast guys at the UTMB fashion a BUFF into a wristband, so he must too. Unsure of its practical application, it’s essentially there as a piece of high-priced foliage. But, hey, if it’s good enough for Kilian…
HEADTORCH: Brighter than a neutron star, the ultrarunner’s headtorch makes him look like a moving floodlight. He had to remortgage the house to buy it, but that’s the price of “reactive lighting technology”.
OVERSIZED RUNNING WATCH: Looking more like an armoured vehicle than a timepiece, the oversized watch is the ultrarunner’s most prized possession. If you pass him during a race, he’ll be sounding uncannily like R2D2.
CALF GUARDS: Despite being unsure whether they actually work, the ultrarunner wears his calf guards religiously. He’s even started wearing them on his weekly visit to the shops to buy an ungodly amount of energy gels. WALKING POLES: These foldable fibreglass friends, ubiquitous on the continent, are now making their way across the Channel. Having initially dismissed them as “cheat sticks”, the ultrarunner now even uses them to get up the stairs.
BORN TO (ULTRA) RUN Ultrarunning – the covering of distances of more than 26.2 miles on foot – has been described as “an eating competition with a little bit of running thrown in.” Distances vary from 50K to 3,100 miles. Up next month: the veteran.
16 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
MAXIMAL SHOES: Despite being inspired to run by tales of the sandal-wearing Tarahumara Indians, the ultrarunner has long since become a die-hard maximalist. Only shoes with more cushioning than a sofa will do now.
THE MEN’S RUNNING AWARDS 2016 BRAND YEAR
BRAND OF THE YEAR
WINNER You voted in your hundreds and the competition was fierce. But there can be only one winner... So, many congratulations to HIGH5, who beat off all comers to be crowned the Men’s Running Brand of the Year. With a comprehensive range of sports nutrition products covering all pre-, during and post-event needs, HIGH5 has proved to be the brand that has made the most difference to your running in 2016. Our testers said HIGH5 was “excellent value for money” and praised the product’s consistency and taste. In a competitive category, HIGH5 was a worthy winner!
Elite insights from former ‘fat bloke’ turned Olympic marathon man Steve Way
WAY’S WORLD MUST-TRY RUN
Fashion sense: Steve spots a runner inappropriately dressed for the cold
COLD-WEATHER WORKOUT 6 x (3min “on” / 3min “off”) The trouble with interval sessions when it’s really cold is cooling down too much on those recovery jogs. Try out this session instead, which is a great cross between a continuous tempo run and interval training. Make sure you have an extended warm-up before getting into the session. The key detail here is that the “on” intervals should be a touch faster than current half marathon pace and the “off” intervals a touch slower than half marathon pace. I try to aim for 15 seconds per mile above and below, which means even during the “off” intervals you are still working quite hard.
OVER TO YOU
Got a question for Steve? Tweet us: @mensrunninguk
RUNNING IN THE COLD
It may be getting cold and grim outside, but before you go sticking that puffa jacket and woolly scarf on, try to remember that within 10 minutes of starting your run your body temperature will have increased significantly and you will end up regretting those wardrobe decisions. The old saying, ‘dress for the second mile’ is great advice – unless you’re only going for a one-mile run! Get a few essential winter garments correct and you’ll find you don’t need anywhere near as many layers on as you might think. The key to feeling comfortable when out in the elements is warm feet, hands and head. That means making sure your socks, gloves and headgear are all running-specific, technical bits of kit. Once you’re kitted out with your moisture-wicking socks, windproof gloves and lightweight beanie, my advice
is to just stick with two top layers. My go-to running kit – as long as conditions haven’t got ridiculously cold – consists of a long-sleeve baselayer that’s fairly tight fitting, with a standard technical t-shirt over the top. I also recommend reserving the “man tights” for really cold days; your legs are always the first part of your body to warm up and tights can soon feel restrictive and unnecessary if the conditions really aren’t worthy of them. When it comes to winter racing, the key is to make sure you are nicely layered up for a decent length warmup, but when it comes down to the main event just stick to the essentials. Feel free to keep the hat and gloves on, but then it really is time to embrace the cold and get the shorts and vest on!
TIP OF THE MONTH
OFFICIAL UK RANKINGS Interested in knowing how you measure up against all your fellow runners in the UK? Head over to runbritainrankings.com and find out where you sit in the national rankings, as well as what your running handicap score is (just like golf). If you’re motivated by stats then it’s a great website to check out, and as long as you‘ve raced at least one UKA licenced race or parkrun you’ll be on there.
January 2017 • mensrunninguk.co.uk 19
YOUR MARATHON ADVENTURE STARTS HERE!
Got a guaranteed place and a huge goal for a spring marathon? Looking for free training advice and top-to-toe kit to help you have the best possible experience? Then join Men’s Running’s Big Marathon Challenge team for 2017 We’re looking for four men with big marathon dreams who need some help along the way. Their progress will be charted in the magazine and on the website, as well as on the Men’s Running Twitter and Facebook pages. Last year’s Big Marathon Challenge team came on in leaps and bounds from the start of their training in December 2015. For new runner Gary Brazier, it was a chance to receive expert help as he aimed to lose weight and train for his first ever marathon – which he completed in London in April. Jack Davies, one of the country’s fastest OAP’s, proved that age is no barrier to marathon success. The flying Scotsman zoomed round the London Marathon course in 3:33. Globetrotter Jean-Marc Knoll set his sights on one of the world’s most secret 26.2-milers: the Pyongyang Marathon in North Korea. Despite a few injury setbacks, Jean-Marc cross-trained his way to success, finishing in just over four hours. For Adrian Reynolds, who has Tourette’s syndrome, running has always
20 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
been a form of release – and the BMC provided the focus he needed to train for not one but two marathons, Brighton and London, only two weeks apart. If you’d like to follow in the footsteps of these four inspirational runners, read through our entry criteria below and drop us a line! To enter, you must have… A guaranteed place in a spring marathon A big marathon dream: it could be a fast target time, a huge fundraising aim or a major weight-loss goal, for example A clean bill of health and currently be injury-free A positive and friendly attitude A good understanding of and fondness for social media
Be willing to tweet and blog about how your training is going Be available to take part in the initial photoshoot in London on Monday 12 December, 2016 In return, you will receive: Step-by-step coaching and training plans from leading experts Free top-to-toe running kit to keep you warm and comfortable during the winter training months All the pre-, during- and post-run nutrition you can shake a stick at Ongoing support from the MR team on every step of your marathon journey! Whether it’s your first or your 50th marathon, if you meet the above criteria, you can enter!
Email email@example.com and tell us about your big marathon goal, which marathon you are running, your running background, your age and why you would like to be part of the Big Marathon Challenge. Closing date: Tuesday 6 December, 2016.
Photography Eddie Macdonald
IN 2 017 !
“Marathon training can be a long, lonely journey. So being able to take part in this challenge and follow other people’s progress and make new friends was great.”
“Everything about the Big Marathon Challenge was fantastic. Meeting the three other guys and our coach was a highlight – I’m sure we’ll stay in touch.”
“The training plan and encouragement from the coach and other guys on the challenge kept me going. It was a fantastic experience from start to finish.”
“What was my favourite bit? Where do I start?! Meeting all the people involved, the coaching and the support from the brands. A big thank you to all involved.”
January 2017 • mensrunninguk.co.uk 21
Take a trip down memory lane with our selection of snaps from years gone by
22 mensrunninguk.co.uk • Janaury 2017
eb Coe is a picture of composure on his way to breaking the 800m indoor world record in Cosford, Shropshire. His time of 1:44.9 shaved over a second off his own previous world record of 1:46.0, and was the highlight of an otherwise difficult season for the middle-distance great, who was in and out of hospital with toxoplasmosis – a parasitic disease – for most of the year.
Photography Mark Shearman
RUN FOR US - WE’VE GOT YOUR BACK! As the nation’s leading first aid charity we’re there for you and all the other runners putting your bodies through its paces on race day, using your sponsorship to help us teach and deliver first aid where it’s needed most.
Together we can be the difference between a life lost and a life saved.
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FUEL YOUR RUN WITH THE RIGHT STUFF
FAT LOT OF GOOD
Fight fatigue and reduce your risk of injury with a daily dose of avocado WHAT IS IT? Avocado is the name given to a tree native to Mexico, but it’s also come to refer to the tree’s fruit, which is technically a large berry. Grown in tropical climates throughout the world, the avocado’s popularity has soared in recent years with the rise of low-carb/high-fat diets. WHAT DO I DO WITH IT? Delicately slice, layer onto some rye bread, take a heavily filtered photo and upload to Instagram, of course (#EatClean). However, if, for some reason, you don’t feel the need to document your healthy eating on social media, avocados can be used in anything from guacamole to smoothies, salads to margaritas. (Although the health benefits of the latter can’t be guaranteed.) WHY IS IT GOOD FOR MY HEALTH? The avocado is unique in the fruit world because it’s high in healthy fats rather than carbohydrate – 77% of its calories, to be precise, are from fat. This fat, though, is of the heart-healthy monounsaturated variety, which reduces inflammation, lowers cholesterol, helps you absorb more nutrients from other food and may also help to fight cancer. Avocados are also a great source of fatigue-delaying electrolytes. One avocado, for example, provides 35% more potassium than a banana. They also provide calcium and magnesium, which are crucial for muscle functioning and balance.
24 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
Words Isaac Williams Photography istockphoto.com
© TRISTAN FEWINGS / WWF-UK
JOIN THE WILDEST TEAM AT THE BRIGHTON MARATHON FANTASTIC ATMOSPHERE, REALISTIC FUNDRAISING TARGET & PANDA SUPPORT EVERY STEP OF THE WAY…
SIGN UP TODAY: WWF.ORG.UK/BRIGHTONMARATHON #TEAMPANDA © 1986 panda symbol and ® “WWF” Registered Trademark of WWF. WWF-UK registered charity (1081247) and in Scotland (SC039593). A company limited by guarantee (4016725)
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FAST FOOD Recipes taken from The Vegetarian Athlete’s Cookbook, by Anita Bean. Available for pre-order from bloomsbury.com/uk
RECOVERY RISOTTO Recovery-boosting butternut squash and pea risotto CARBOHYDRATE RICH
The perfect refuelling meal after a tough run. It contains a four to one ratio of carbohydrate to protein so will restock glycogen stores and promote rapid recovery.
Serves 2 1 tbsp light olive or rapeseed oil 1 small onion, chopped ¼–½ red chilli, finely chopped Optional: 1–2 garlic cloves, crushed 125g (4oz) Arborio (risotto) rice ½ small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes 400–600ml (14–21 fl oz) hot vegetable stock (or 1½ tsp vegetable bouillon dissolved in boiling water) 200g (14 oz) canned red kidney beans 125g (4 oz) frozen peas 25g (1 oz) freshly grated parmesan 25g (1 oz) pine nuts Freshly ground black pepper
26 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
Photography Adrian Lawrence Food styling Emily Kydd
1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based pan and cook the onion over a moderate heat, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes. Add the chilli and garlic and continue cooking for about 1 minute 2. Add the rice and continue cooking for 1–2 minutes, stirring constantly until the grains are coated with oil and translucent 3. Add the butternut squash and half of the hot vegetable stock, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until the liquid is completely absorbed (about 5 minutes) 4. Add the remaining stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring and continue to simmer until the rice is almost tender (about 15 minutes) 5. Add the red kidney beans and peas and continue cooking for a further 5 minutes. As a guide, the total cooking time should be around 25 minutes 6. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the grated parmesan and pine nuts, and season with lots of freshly ground black pepper 7. Serve with parmesan shavings and extra black pepper
MEXY BEAST Power your run with these simple black bean tacos with salsa PROTEIN RICH
Tacos are a great sharing food, so this recipe works equally well as a family dish or as a speedy meal for two. Black beans are supernutritious, full of protein, iron and fibre, while the raw salsa is packed with vitamin C and antioxidants.
Serves 2 4 corn tacos 400g (14 oz) can black beans, drained 2 tsp olive oil ½ tsp ground cumin ½ tsp paprika ¼ tsp ground coriander For the salsa: 1 large ripe tomato, skinned, deseeded and finely diced 1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped ½ tsp finely chopped fresh chilli (or according to your taste) 1 small clove of garlic, crushed 1 tsp olive oil ¼ red onion, finely chopped 1 tbsp lemon or lime juice Optional: 2 tbsp low fat plain Greek yogurt, to serve
1. In a bowl, mix together the black beans, olive oil, cumin, paprika and coriander 2. In a separate bowl, make the salsa by combining all the ingredients together 3. Warm the taco shells according to pack instructions 4. Take the tacos, bean mixture, salsa and yogurt (if desired) to the table in separate bowls and let everyone dish up for themselves 5. Serve with a leafy salad and cooked rice. sunflower seeds, and garnish with the lime wedges 7. Season with salt and pepper
January 2017 • mensrunninguk.co.uk 27
FAT TO FIT
FAT TO FIT
For Mark Read, the past four years have been far from easy – losing his first wife in 2012 and being diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism this year. Running, though, continues to offer salvation
n injury meant I failed to make the start line for the 2007 London Marathon. That and a new, stressful job, meant my weight steadily crept up. In 2011, I peaked at almost 17 stone. I was on a skiing break in January of that year and someone hit my skis, which resulted in the snapping of my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL). I was quite a lump to shift around on crutches! Fortunately, the physio worked on actions that would allow random movement and eventually the surgeon said my left knee would be almost as strong as before. When my wife suddenly passed away in December 2012 (she was a fitness instructor and healthy) I had dropped to 15 stone. After she passed, I reduced to 13 stone partly through lack of appetite
28 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
but also because work organised a Paris to London ride in which I participated that July. After that ride, I started to be less active again. But then I met my new wife, Vic, in early 2014. She is a keen runner and it planted a seed. She managed to get two of my three boys to attempt the Dulwich parkrun in October 2014 and, not wanting to be left out, I tried to complete one with my then-seven-year-old. What started at 28 minutes for him soon dropped and I couldn’t keep up! That was a bit of a wake-up call. I did some sporadic running but never enough to make any real improvements. I was happy one week to get 26 minutes, only for Max to finish in 23 minutes with a friend – making up three minutes seemed an impossibility to me! That negative mindset and the more comfortable lifestyle with my new
partner saw me go back to over 14 stone by July 2015. Vic and I had spoken about getting married and had considered September 2015. When we returned from holiday in early August we set about doing just that and it gave me around seven weeks to shift some weight. Between the wedding and a child I couldn’t keep up with, I became motivated! The weekly parkruns ‘against’ Max saw me lose more weight (as he got faster and faster). I managed to do the Royal Parks Half Marathon just after my honeymoon in October 2015. I wasn’t well and struggled round in just under two hours. On 25 September 2016 my wife and I did the Moscow Marathon on our first wedding anniversary. It was after that race that I discovered I had a pulmonary embolism [a blockage in the pulmonary artery]. Post-PE diagnosis, my aim is to get well and start running again. It was suggested that running actually saved my life as I knew something was wrong and got it checked out; sedentary people would put the shortness of breathe down to a lack of fitness. Running means a lot to me. It sets me up for the working day, it makes the weekends mine to do as I please and, most importantly, it gives me clarity of thought. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to doing what I love soon.
OVER TO YOU
Have you gone from fat to fit? Email your weight-loss story to email@example.com
BROUGHT TO YOU BY MEN’S RUNNING
CHANGE LIVES… BECOME A CHARITY RUNNER
ou may have already registered for your next running challenge – or maybe you’re thinking about it? Signing up for an event can give you something to aim for, whether that’s getting fitter or achieving a new PB, but choosing to run for charity can give you extra focus and determination. Crossing the finish line is a fantastic feeling, and when you’ve helped to support a good cause in the process it can boost that feel-good factor even further.
CHARITIES NEED YOU
No matter how large or small, your donation can make the world of difference. The majority of charities rely on donations and organised fundraising events are an opportunity to amass vital funds. So you will often find charities have guaranteed places at many races, such as the Royal Parks Half Marathon, which any runner can sign up for as long as they pledge to raise a minimum amount of sponsorship. What goes around comes around, so when you give your support to a charity, they’ll support you in return to make sure you’re race-day ready. Even if you’ve already committed to your next running challenge, it’s not too late to start raising cash. All you have to do is choose your charity, create a JustGiving page and start your fundraising journey today. You’ll have fun and, more importantly, you’ll change a life for the better.
We asked two charities what they would say to convince you to run for them at the Royal Parks Half Marathon on 8 October 2017…
“Being part of Team Panda is a true addiction. ‘Once a panda, always a panda,’ as our runners say! From the moment you sign up, we are with you every step of the way. As a Team Panda member, you’ll receive a fundraising pack filled with great ideas to reach your target, as well as a running vest and a panda headband – complete with ears (of course). And if you sign up for the Royal Parks Half Marathon before February, you’ll be invited to our annual preparation training day at WWF HQ. WWF’s latest Living Planet Report shows the devastating impact humans are having on the world’s wildlife. Unless we act now, wildlife populations will decline by 67% by 2020. We can turn this around. Join Team Panda and support WWF’s vital conservation work. Make a difference and help protect our beautiful planet. Do it for your planet!” Run for WWF... Visit wwf.org.uk/royalparks
“Training for a big run can feel like an uphill struggle. But at St John Ambulance, we know how to keep you going. Think of us as your very own locker room support team: always in the wings, cheering you on. We know how to patch you up when you need it and use all our expert knowledge to give you vital training tips, advice and peace of mind. We’ll be there on race day, not just for you, but for all the runners. Run the Royal Parks Half Marathon for St John Ambulance and you can be a lifesaver, too. With your sponsorship, you will help people across the country to learn first aid. Every penny you raise helps us to put our first aid trainers in schools, equip our volunteers, run our ambulances and deliver expert care where it’s needed most. Together we can be the difference between a life lost and a life saved.” St John Ambulance, call 020 7324 4168 or visit sja.org.uk/royalparks
With festive fun around the corner, Renee McGregor looks at how to cure a hangover
RUNNER’S DIGEST alcohol can dramatically reduce the rate of recovery and healing.
HEALING THE HANGOVER
he clocks have gone back, the nights have drawn in, and that can only mean that Christmas party season is coming. Regardless of whether you normally partake in a tipple or not, even the most dedicated runner finds it hard to resist the mulled wine and festive cheer during the Christmas and New Year period. We all know that alcohol and running are not generally best friends, so how do you keep up your training while letting your hair down? The first thing is to be aware of the potential negative effects of alcohol on the body, particularly related to exercise and training: Alcohol interrupts recovery, resulting in a compromised immune system,
30 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
greatly increasing your susceptibility to illness and infection. Drinking excessively affects quantity and quality of sleep, and it is well documented that poor sleep can negatively affect recovery and adaptation from exercise. If you consume a beverage with over 4% alcohol content, it has an increased diuretic affect – i.e you’ll urinate more – which can lead to dehydration. Alcohol reduces cognitive function and reaction time. Alcohol directly interrupts protein synthesis during recovery and adaptation after strenuous exercise. Alcohol intake reduces testosterone production; long term this has a negative affect on bone density. If you are currently injured, drinking
While the above list may seem daunting, it is important to appreciate that indulging in the occasional excessive intake of alcohol, such as during the festive season, is not going to be too damaging. However, it is worth taking some precautions in order to limit any longer term consequences. If you do a hard training session prior to a big night out, make sure that you recover fully with a good combination of carbohydrate and protein – try something like chicken stir-fry with rice or scrambled eggs on toast before heading out to your party. If possible, try to take on some nutrition before you go to bed after a night out – try leaving a pint of electrolyte and a banana by your bed ready to consume on your return. This will help you hydrate and raise blood sugar levels after a night out, alleviating some of the symptoms of a hangover. If you are keen to run the day after a night out, keep it low intensity and fairly short – this is definitely not the time to be doing your tempo run or hill sessions, as doing so is more likely lead to injury than progression.
“IF POSSIBLE, TRY TO TAKE ON SOME NUTRITION BEFORE YOU GO TO BED AFTER A NIGHT OUT” STRANGE BUT TRUE In the Middle Ages, the hangover cure of choice was bitter almonds and raw eel. Today, you might be better advised to reach for eggs on wholemeal toast, washed down with a glass of orange juice.
INSIDE 32 ANATOMY OF A RUNNER 34 GENTLEMANâ€™S GUIDE 38 CROSS-TRAIN 40 TREATMENT ROOM 41 THE OTHER HALF 42 BUGGY RUNNING 44 WORKOUT
ANATOMY OF A RUNNER NAME: MICHAEL JOHNSON DISTANCE: 200M, 400M
Relay good: Johnson celebrates winning the 4x400m relay with Team USA at the 2000 Sydney Olympics – a gold medal that was later rescinded because two of Johnson’s teammates were found guilty of doping
“AS STRONG AS MY LEGS ARE, IT IS MY MIND THAT HAS MADE ME A CHAMPION” ARMS
Michael Johnson might have looked too bulky for a 400m runner (especially when you compare him to new world record holder Wayde van Niekerk), but his powerful arms were an important part of his winning technique. Work on arm strength for forward propulsion.
RUN LIKE JOHNSON POWER
Johnson may have been blessed with an awesome natural physique, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t work hard to improve it. He spent hours in the gym, completing at least three sessions a week. It was rarely heavy weights; rather full-body work with very short recoveries.
Johnson always looked like he accelerated at the 250m point in his races; the reality is that he was slowing down the least. This ability to hold his form was honed in the off-season where he did two longer runs, up to 45 minutes in duration. He was thorough in his preparation: fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
He might have won medals at 200m and 400m, but Johnson had lightning speed over the shorter distances, too (and a 100m PB of 10.09). A favourite speedbuilding session for Johnson was one set of 30m, 40m, 50m, 60m and 70m run on the bend of the track with full recoveries and a standing start.
32 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
Johnson’s powerful legs propelled him to the highest number of sub-44 minute 400s of any athlete. He did a lot of lunges to build leg strength, but unusually no plyometrics (jumping, bounding etc). Much of his training was slower than race pace, but he did a lot of running at 95% to prepare for multiple rounds in competition. It was also an effective way of preventing injury.
High knee lift was one of the keys to Johnson’s success. While others around him were flagging, his work in the gym and natural technique meant he could continue to lift his knees while others wilted. “The more you lift your knees, the more power you put into the track,” he says. “Aim to push down with one leg and pull up with the other.”
Johnson’s unusual style was characterised by his ‘pitter patter’ foot strike and short but incredibly fast leg turnover. One of his favourite sessions for fast feet was 30m efforts over a speed ladder. Johnson believed that was critical to his superior cadence.
Words David Castle Photography Mark Shearman
Johnson’s self-belief was unwavering, yet he managed to navigate that difficult line between arrogance and confidence. He said, “As strong as my legs are, it is my mind that has made me a champion.” His passion for the sport and understanding of what it takes to reach the top has paved the way for his post-athletics career.
Johnson never gave much away on the track, often seeming stern and unapproachable. In truth, he was simply staying focused for the big race. His ability to stay relaxed helped him maintain speed throughout the race. “It sounds counter-intuitive, because sprinting is highly ballistic, but you have to be relaxed,” he says. “People tend to tense up, but if your muscles are tight your arms will come across your body and you won’t be as fast.”
Johnson was famous for his unusual technique, based on a powerful upright posture and short, economical strides. “Efficient technique is efficient technique,” he explains. “If there are eight people in a race and seven are running one way and one is running differently, I would be that one. People think that what the majority do is right but that isn’t necessarily the case. My technique was more efficient but nobody had seen it before.”
MAGIC JOHNSON Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Johnson was the youngest of five children and began running competitively at the age of 10. His talent was obvious from the start: among his collegiate feats, Johnson broke the school record for the 200m in his very first race with a time of 20.41, and in 4x400m relays he clocked a leg at 43.5. He won his first world title over 200m in 1991, beating Frankie Fredericks by a massive margin of 0.33, but a bout of food poisoning wrecked his Olympic ambitions in 1992 and he failed to reach the 200m final. He won his first 200m/400m double in the 1995 World Championships and broke his first world record the following year. Perhaps his most iconic moment was breaking the 400m world record at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, having already captured the 200m title. The camera flashes as he started would have lit up a small city. He ended his career winning the 2000 Olympic title over 400m, aged 33.
January 2017 • mensrunninguk.co.uk 33
11 RUNNING OVER CHRISTMAS GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE
Our monthly guide to running etiquette explores how to keep fit during the festivities
3. RUN TO CLEAR YOUR HEAD
Even for the most restrained runner, it’s easy to over-indulge on booze over Christmas: one minute you’re sipping mulled wine, the next you’re cracking open the vintage Châteauneufdu-Pape and telling your kids Santa’s not real. If you do wake up with a foggy head one day, the solution is simple: go for a run. There’s no better way to dust off the cobwebs.
TOP TIPPLES Most of us enjoy a few drinks over Christmas, but some – when drunk in moderation – are far better for runners than others. Here are three of the ‘best’
1. RED WINE
Wine contains the compound resveratrol, which has been found to prevent damage to blood vessels, reduce cholesterol and prevent blood clots. Just be mindful that a glass doesn’t become a bottle.
1. BUY PRESENTS WITH CARE
Believe it or not, there are a few strange soles out there who – get this – don’t run. Presents should be bought with that in mind. Sure those nice trainers are half price, but your Aunt Judy just turned 90 and she’s not going to be joining the parkrun party any time soon.
4. DON’T EXPECT ANY PBS
Be sure, however, to keep it steady. Christmas nutrition is far more conducive to a snail’s pace jog than a high-octane speed session. So leave the watch at home, enjoy running for the sake of running, and be thankful you’re not sat inside being forced to watch Elf for the hundredth time.
Stout contains flavanoids and can act as a low-level aspirin, reducing the risk of heart attacks and blood clots. It’s a myth, though, that Guinness is full of iron; one pint contains just 0.3g, less than 3% of daily adult needs.
3. VODKA AND SODA WATER
2. GET YOUR CHRISTMAS DAY RUN OUT THE WAY EARLY
If there’s one day of the year when it’s acceptable not to run, Christmas Day is it. But if you simply can’t resist the urge to lace up your trainers and justify the impending mountain of mince pies, get out the door early. A family forced to wait for Christmas dinner is a match for no man. 34 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
At just 97 calories and 0% fat, vodka and soda water should be the drink of choice for the weightconscious runner. Although vodka is, of course, very alcoholic, so try not to offset the calorie counting by stuffing your face after one glass too many.
5. DON’T BE SELF-RIGHTEOUS
Just don’t expect those who are sat inside to take any of your post-run words of wisdom kindly. It can be easy to let the runner’s high get the better of you, but keep any disapproving thoughts to yourself and allow everyone else to lounge around in peace. It’s Christmas, after all. Words Isaac Williams Illustrations Peter Liddiard @ Sudden Impact
OVER TO YOU
Got an etiquette suggestion? Tweet us: @mensrunninguk
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CROSS-TRAINING OF THE MONTH SUP
Rick Pearson takes to the water in an attempt to find out why, when it comes to full-body fitness, the only way is SUP
’m floating gently down the Thames. In my hands is a paddle and under my feet is a 10-foot plastic board. Welcome to the wonderful world of SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboarding). The lovechild of surfing and canoeing, SUP involves standing on an oversized surfboard while using a paddle to propel yourself forwards. Unlike surfing, though, SUP isn’t restricted to the ocean. It can be practised on lakes and rivers. “If there’s a body of water, you can probably SUP on it,” says James Roorda, a Canadian now living in London and the club captain at Eel Pie Island Club SUP. “There’s now even SUP fishing.” But I’m not interested in the meditative qualities of hooks, lines and sinkers; I want to know how SUP can benefit runners. It’s time to grab a paddle, don a lifejacket and get out on the water.
HEART AND LUNGS
While SUP can be as relaxing as a herbal bath, it can also provide a great cardiovascular workout. Roorda has recently completed a SUP half marathon, and there are many other endurance challenges available for the budding SUP enthusiast. “You can make SUP as aerobically challenging as you want to make it. If you want to get in a good aerobic workout, you can really push it
38 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
and get a lung-busting sessions that I would say is comparable to running.”
Like swimming and cycling – two other great cross-training activities for runners – SUP is low-impact. “SUP works the larger muscle groups of your core, back, and shoulders,” says Roorda. “Because balancing on a board requires a lot more balance and effort than simply walking down the street, it's possible to get a fullbody workout, whatever your skill level."
You don’t have to be a sculpted surfer dude to enjoy SUP. All that’s required is decent balance and a sense of adventure. “The sport really is for anyone,” says Roorda. “As long as you are comfortable on the water – and potentially in it – you can learn at your own pace. The water and weather conditions will dictate how quickly you will get up and go, but given ideal conditions – flat water and low wind – anyone can get on the water and almost anyone can stand up and have a go.”
Foot strength is a much-neglected area, although it’s absolutely vital for remaining injury-free. SUP is a great workout for
Photography James Roorda
your ‘plates of meat’, as Roorda explains. “It is great for developing the muscles in your feet that keep you stable. It can be a bit straining at first if you don’t remember to wiggle your toes and lift your heels. If your feet start to go numb or cramp, all you need to do is take a rest on your knees and shortly they get back to feeling normal. After regular paddling sessions, the muscles develop and tend to only bother you on longer paddles of 10K and over.”
The best cross-training activities are low-stress – and there are few things as relaxing as SUP. Our route, a return journey from Eel Pie Island to Teddington docks, is hardly the Spanish Riviera. And yet it leaves me feeling relaxed and restored (as well as slightly sweaty and out of breath). “There is a zen-like feeling you get, being out on the water by yourself or with a few friends, when it is calm and quiet,” says Roorda. “That is the great appeal of the sport to me.” WHAT’S SUP? Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is the fastest-growing watersport on the planet. It originated in Hawaii as an offshoot of surfing, and is now a popular activity on rivers, lakes and oceans all around the world. @mensrunninguk
CROSS-TRAIN Taking a stand: Rick paddles down the Thames
★THE VERDICT AEROBIC BENEFITS MUSCLE BUILDING SAFETY VALUE FOR MONEY FUN FACTOR Find out more at: facebook.com/Epicsuporg
January 2017 • mensrunninguk.co.uk 39
Injury-preventing advice from chiropractor and rehab therapist Robert Griffiths
Smiling for the camera doesn’t just benefit your running photos; keeping your face relaxed also reduces stress and delays fatigue
our jaw is probably the last thing in the world that you think about when you go for a run. However, it is one part of your body that can have a profound impact on the whole of your biomechanical system. Let me explain: your jaw is directly connected into your nervous system, and your brain can instruct your jaw to tighten up or relax depending on your state of mind. If you are about to have a fight with a grizzly bear (i.e a quite stressful situation), your body tightens your jaw and all your other powerful muscles as part of an adrenaline/cortisol-based response (our main stress hormones) to danger. It helps you run away quickly for short periods of time, get out of danger and not get eaten by Mr Bear. However, if you are a runner trying to perform at your best, having a bloodstream full of adrenaline and cortisol is going to lead to one thing: fatigue. This emergency response cannot be sustained for longer than a few seconds. The afterburners will quickly get through all your fuel and leave you hitting the wall like a drunk person. So to prevent this increased release of stress hormones, actively work on keeping your jaw relaxed. The same applies to your breathing – keep it as under control as possible – and your wrists. Just look at the slow motion replay of Usain Bolt running the 200m; his face is almost smiling it’s so relaxed! By keeping your jaw unclenched and loose, you’re sending calming signals towards your brain, letting it know that everything is chilled and happy. That, in turn, allows you to conserve energy and run further or at a greater intensity without passing out!
40 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
RELAX YOUR RUN Smile: a loose jaw sends calming signals to your brain Loosen up: release your shoulders, shake out your arms and make sure nothing’s tense Cup your hands: they should be cupped, not clenched; imagine you’re holding an egg
All runners can do more to combat misogynistic heckling, says Laura Fountain
think it’s safe for me to assume that you’ve never shouted out unwanted comments to a female runner. Not just because you’re a runner yourself, but because you’re a man runner reading a column written by a woman in a men’s running magazine. So that, to me, makes you one of the more enlightened and open-minded in our sport. So why, you might ask, am I about to devote the next few hundred words preaching to the converted on the issue of men heckling women out running, when we’ve already established that this isn’t something you get up to in your spare time? I’m going to answer that with a true
“MY RUNNING GROUPS HAD THREE SEPARATE INCIDENTS OF HURTFUL COMMENTS”
WHAT WOMEN WANT
story that happened recently, and that I’m sure is happening in parks all over the country every week. A few weeks ago, in the space of only 10 days, my running groups had three separate incidents of people making lewd or hurtful comments. Some weren’t passing by; they were standing watching us run and refusing to move on. On the third occasion, I’d had enough of being polite or trying to reason with people who don’t act reasonably. I was with my beginners in the park. It was early evening but still very light. As I often do, I was running with a woman who was at the back of the pack, chatting to her and encouraging her to keep going and to run further than she had in any previous week. We rounded a corner and a man was stood on the path. We ran past him and, as I find is common with this type of person, he waited until we’d passed before he opened his mouth. He commented on the runner’s body
and made sexual comments towards her. I had in my hand my whistle, ready to signal to the rest of the group to stop running their current interval. Instead of ignoring this man and continuing, I turned and blew my whistle loudly at him. My group stopped running and began to regroup. I stopped running too, at which point the man on the path began to walk towards me. He asked me why I’d blown my whistle at him. I told him it was because he’d been inappropriate. His response was that he hadn’t, that I didn’t own the park and that I could [expletive, expletive, expletive]. I politely explained that while I didn’t own the park, myself and my runner owned our bodies and that we decided what was offensive. During this exchange, a group of male club runners ran past. They observed what was going on, and none of them stopped. Not one of them said anything. And that’s why I’m telling you this story. Because while I know you wouldn’t make lewd comments to a woman runner, I also sincerely hope you wouldn’t jog past as another man shouted, swore and made offensive remarks to one. In the words of Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK… Don’t comment on a stranger’s body. Even if you think it’s a ‘compliment’. Just stay quiet or comment on the weather.
January 2017 • mensrunninguk.co.uk 41
PUSHY PARENTS 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.
ove them or loathe them, running buggies are now at many running events. It’s fairly common to see parents on startlines with their children strapped in the chariot of choice, handfuls of breadsticks at the ready, charging off for a run. I’ll hold my hands up right now: I’m a committed buggy runner. It all started with the birth of our daughter seven years ago. After six months without running, my wife, Liz, decided it was time we invested in a buggy she could run with. She wanted to regain some fitness and find a sense of freedom again. We invested in a ‘performance stroller’ and have never looked back.
WHY TAKE UP BUGGY RUNNING?
If you’re a recent father, don’t think that this is inevitably going to signal a temporary stall in your running career. Far from it: investing in a running buggy will soon make you the fastest father in town (depending on the town).
42 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
FOR THE PUSHER It’s childcare on the move! You’re able to bank a run and look after your little one at the same time. It’s good for the guns. Pushing a buggy is actually an impressive workout with a difference. It’s great for your core conditioning to focus on engaging a strong torso and it’s great for building arm strength. You get to spend time with your baby or toddler. FOR THE PASSENGER The experience varies with the age of your child. As a baby (six months or older) your little one will probably sleep immediately; it’s comfortable, relaxing, warm and they’ll love the motion. As they get older you can use the buggy run to explore and get them out in the fresh air. They see you as an active, outdoor role model and together you’re building a great relationship and love for exercise.
WHAT KIND OF BUGGY IS BEST?
Although it’s certainly possible to jog with a regular buggy, I’d strongly suggest a specific running stroller to do a proper job. A specifically designed performance running buggy is fit for purpose for you and much safer for your child. TOP BUGGY BUYING CONSIDERATIONS: • Where are you going to do the majority of your running: on or off road? Look for a buggy that’s fit for purpose for your needs. Wheels and tyres differ in size and performance characteristics. • Look for a fivepoint harness for baby safety, and reclining, padded seats for your kid's comfort. • Sun canopies/hoods are really useful for bright days and to protect from the wet.
Push it real good: all you need to know about the wonderful world of buggy running. By Martin Yelling • Suspension provides a smoother ride – important for baby comfort. If they are comfortable, your run continues! • Consider size, transport and storage. How does the buggy fold up? Will it fit into the car? Can you get it through the front door? (We couldn’t!)
WORD OF WARNING
It’s not all love and laughter. You can guarantee things will kick off and the buggy run will go wrong at some point. You’ve got to be prepared to stop your run, deal with screaming, crying, hunger, nappies and things getting thrown off the buggy. It’s at these times you have to remember that your baby is more important than your run. Also remember that you can’t pop your newborn into a running buggy. They need neck strength to tolerate the vibration. A general consensus is that six month’s old is the earliest to try a buggy run. Flat, smooth surfaces are best and as your baby gets bigger and stronger progress to stony paths and trails.
BUGGY RUNNING TECHNIQUE
• Be progressive. Start with short, manageable runs not too far from home. • Push the buggy directly in front of you with both hands. Keep your arms bent and don’t lean heavily on the handlebars. • The buggy design should allow for a full stride length but take care not to kick the back of the buggy ‘chassis’ when bringing your foot forward to land. • No arm movement. This is perhaps the biggest technique shift. Learning to run without the use of your arms can bring about torso rotation and lower back pain. Relax your shoulders and arms and focus on strong hips and lower back. Stay upright rather than leaning into the buggy.
4 GOLDEN BUGGY RUNNING RULES 1. Positioning at the start. Line up at your chosen event appropriately and in accordance with your goals, aspirations and ability. Some folk can get chippy if you line up at the front, but at the same time lining up at the back with your buggy can be tricky as you try to weave through other runners. Outside edges are a good bet! 2. Give other runners plenty of room in front and to the sides. You can’t react and change direction quickly, so space in front of you is important and safe. 3. Find a clean running line. Running a straight line clear of other runners gives you a smoother buggy run. Be prepared to take corners more slowly and often in a bigger arc. Tilting the front wheel and pushing down with your arms allows for a much tighter turning circle. 4. Don’t take risks. It’s never worth a few seconds to put your passenger at risk or in danger. Always remember that they are your priority, not your time or finishing position.
OVER TO YOU
Do you have a question for Martin? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
January 2017 • mensrunninguk.co.uk 43
Balance is as important as leg strength when it comes to running economy. This circuit uses single-leg exercises, as well as moves that target muscles often neglected by runners, to improve proprioception, power and efficiency
WITH TWIST 1 LUNGE Muscles: Quads, glutes, hip flexors, hamstrings, core
Why do it? A good all-round leg-strengthener, but also great for balance proprioception – essential for trail running Technique: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart Step forward into a lunge position Rotate from your torso to bring your arms round to the side of your front leg Return your arms to the centre Step back into a standing position before lunging with the other leg Top tip: Increase the difficulty of the exercise by doing it barefoot – and therefore removing the stability offered by a shoe – or hold a dumbbell/medicine ball
Reps and sets: Complete the exercises as a circuit. Perform 15-20 reps of each exercise and repeat the circuit three to five times. Rest for two minutes between each circuit.
44 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
Words Isaac Williams Illustrations Peter Liddiard @ Sudden Impact
2 STEP-UP Muscles: Quads, glutes, core, hamstrings Why do it? Strong quads help to protect knees from the stresses of running Technique: Stand in front of a step or bench one to two feet high Step up with your right leg until standing upright on the platform Step down with your left leg
BALL 4 STABILITY HAMSTRING CURLS
Muscles: Hamstrings, core Why do it? To completely isolate your hamstrings and create a powerful kick-back Technique: Lie on your back with both heels placed on a stability ball Raise your hips to form a straight line from shoulders to ankles Roll the ball towards you to form a 90-degree angle
Repeat by stepping up with your left leg Top tip: If the exercise is too easy, grab a pair of dumbbells
Squeeze your hamstrings at the top of the movement Return to the starting position Top tip: Move your feet closer together to force your core to worker harder to stabilise your body
3 SINGLE-LEG DEADLIFT
Technique: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand Keeping your left knee slightly bent, slowly lower the weights to the floor and raise your right leg straight out behind you Once you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, return to the starting position by lifting the weights and moving your left leg back down Repeat on the other side Top tip: Don’t lower the weights beyond a slight hamstring stretch
5 SINGLE-LEG CALF RAISE
Return to the starting position and complete the designated reps on one side before switching legs Top tip: Drop your heel as far below the platform as possible when returning to the starting position
Muscles: Glutes, hamstrings, lower back Why do it? Runners’ quads are often disproportionately strong compared to their hamstrings, which can affect running economy. This exercise strengthens the back of the legs to even out muscular imbalances
Muscles: Calves Why do it? Many runners suffer with their calves; this exercise will strengthen your lower leg muscles and leave them less prone to mid-run fatigue Technique: Stand in front of a low platform such as two stacked weight plates Using a dumbbell or just your bodyweight, place the ball of your feet on the platform and lift one foot off Raise your standing foot up as high as possible (imagine standing on your tip toes)
January 2017 • mensrunninguk.co.uk 45
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ULTIMATE TECH GUIDE 30 BEST TECH PRODUCTS Running’s a simple sport, but who's to say it shouldn’t be jazzed up every now and then? Our selection of the 30 best gadgets and gizmos sorts the innovative from the inane, with the all the products in each category representing what we* believe are the very best in show. The categories chosen are:
1. WATCHES 2. FITNESS TRACKERS 3. HEADPHONES 4. APPS 5. HEADTORCHES *All products listed were tested by members of the Men’s Running team.
ULTIMATE TECH GUIDE
THE BEST... WATCHES
If money is no object, keep track of your progress with these top-of-the-range watches
GARMIN VIVOACTIVE HR
£209.99, garmin.com The vívoactive HR is Garmin’s attempt to assimilate all of its specialities into one device. It’s a smartwatch and your ultimate sport companion – use it for running, cycling, swimming, cardio, golf, rowing, SUP and many, many more. The watch is easy to navigate – there are two multi-use buttons, as well as a touchscreen – making it easy for runners to scroll through options before, during and after training. It uses Garmin’s Elevate wrist-based heart-rate monitoring. We found this pretty accurate compared with a more traditional chest-strap system – and it’s much more comfortable to use. In terms of reviewing your activities and data throughout the day, the Garmin vivoactive HR offers the best of both worlds. You can view progress on your wrist on the colourful display, which is great if you hate the hassle of pairing a unit with your phone. For more in-depth analysis, the bluetooth connectivity allows automatic synching with the Garmin Connect app. It’s here that you can really dig into all your activity data, as well as sync with thirdparty apps like Apple Health. You can also get notifications from your phone, including call and text alerts and even weather reports.
WITHINGS ACTIVITÉ STEEL
£139.95, withings.com Dig a little little deeper into the beautiful simplicity of the Steel and you unearth all manner of functionality. It automatically detects your activity and syncs the data to the Health Mate app. What makes it even better is its compatibility with other things – not just the wider Withings ecosystem (including scales and blood pressure monitor) – but also popular apps like MyFitnessPal.
GARMIN FORERUNNER 235
£269.99, garmin.com The 235 is quick to lock onto a GPS signal and, while running, you can see your pace, distance, time, cadence, calories and more. A built-in heart monitor means you can see your average and max heart-rate and the colour LCD screen clearly visualises heart-rate zone training. Perhaps not as comprehensive as some of Garmin’s high-end units, but it’s still an exceptional sports watch that’s up there with the best.
APPLE WATCH SERIES 2
From £269, apple.com/uk The Apple Watch might be expensive and less sport-specific than some on the market but, for die-hard brand fans, it’s the only choice. It’s got built-in GPS, wristbased heart-rate measurement, activity tracking for a range of sports, and compatibility with workout apps. The Series 2 watches also work with Apple’s new wireless Airpod earphones, so you can listen to music from the watch. One for those looking to make a statement while they run.
RUNTASTIC MOMENT ELITE
£149, runtastic.com The Moment Elite is a solid, nicely designed watch that doubles up as a fitness tracker. It does the basics well, but one feature that many will love is its long battery life – six-months, thanks to a lithium battery. Sync it with the companion app and you get the detail that’s lacking on the Elite’s analogue display. Daily active minutes, distance covered and steps are all there. If you want a watch that gives you the right data and looks the real deal, the Elite is a great option.
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ULTIMATE TECH GUIDE
THE BEST... WATCHES (CONTINUED) POLAR M600
£264.50, polar.com For years, Polar has led the way in producing heart-rate monitors for runners and, more recently, adding built-in GPS and all-day activity tracking to its range has kept the brand up to speed with the market. The M600 builds on the M400, a slimline GPS and heart-rate monitor that syncs to Polar Flow software for in-depth analysis. The big news with this update is the integration of Google’s Android Wear to make the watch a work and lifestyle companion, with voice-activated message response (for Android users), search, and control of some functions. The initial set-up is a bit long-winded, particularly if you’re an iOS user, but once the watch and phone are paired it’s easy to use. Two simple buttons and a bright (if small) touchscreen make it easy to navigate when you’re moving, and the screen lights up with a flick of the wrist so it’s always visible. As a sports watch it’s great, with Polar’s own 6-LED wrist-based heart-rate measurement giving accurate HR stats, and the GPS has improved from the M400 we tested, locking on straight away to start tracking your speed and distance. Through Google Play, you can access thousands of apps and sync to your music, so that you can listen to it without your phone. It feels a bit like a complex and valuable sports watch with a lifestyle bolton, and for Apple die-hards, the Android Wear aspect takes some getting used to. However, for people who are serious about their running and want to stay connected at the same time, it’s a good option.
£359.99, garmin.com Best described as a cross between the Garmin 920 XT and the 630, but with the HR functionality of the 235, the beauty of this GPS watch is its ability to track training across a wide range of sports while delivering fitness tracking 24/7 thanks to the wrist-mounted heart-rate monitor. Smart notifications and advanced running dynamics such as stride length and ground contact time all feature (as they do in the 630).
£159.99, fitbit.com The Blaze is a smart offering from the market leaders in wearable fitness tech. It’s not a sports watch for detail devotees – there’s no built-in GPS, for example – but the intuitive navigation, the social aspect of the Fitbit app, the clear, bright display and the connectivity with other devices make it a fine fitness tracker. It measures heartrate, steps and sleep, as well as automatically sensing activities including cycling and running.
TOMTOM RUNNER3 MUSIC + CARDIO
£219.99, tomtom.com An update to the extremely popular Runner 2, the Runner 3 still features wrist-based heartrate monitoring and 3GB of music storage with a really simple onebutton operation. For version 3, TomTom has added its new route exploration feature. That means you can use the GPS to explore new trails without fear of getting lost, uploading new routes before you go or simply using the on-screen trace to go back the way you came.
From £99.95, pebble.com The Pebble 2 is a great option for runners looking for all-round functionality at a lower cost – and with huge flexibility. The watch monitors activity, steps and sleep, and connects to thousands of apps. It even has a microphone to allow you to dictate message responses. The heart-rate version includes wrist-based heart-rate measurements, linking to the Pebble Health app (as well as others), and all stats are displayed in crystal-clear definition on the ePaper screen.
ULTIMATE TECH GUIDE
THE BEST... FITNESS TRACKERS
Small, smart and simple, these trackers will help you take a holistic approach to your running goals
FITBIT CHARGE 2
£129.99, fitbit.com/uk ‘Fitbit’ has become the new eponym for fitness trackers. Sitting as brand leader ahead of the likes of Apple and Garmin for the last two years, it’s the go-to choice for health conscious consumers and, when you spend some time with the Fitbit Charge 2, you know why. Launched this year as the first upgrade to the Charge HR, it’s got all of its predecessor’s no-fail features, including reliable heart-rate sensors, an ability to automatically recognise exercise activities, monitor sleep and, of course, track your steps, but now also lets you select your activity of choice if you wish – and pull GPS data from your phone as you carry that activity out. All of this – and more – is revealed in the user-friendly (and free) mobile app, where you add additional data such as food and water consumed. You can also input your goals and the tracker will congratulate you when you’ve achieved them and nudge you when you haven’t. The latest tracker can now also assign you with a heart-health score, based on your heart rate and data. With a tap-sensitive display and one-button navigation, it couldn’t be easier to use.
£49.95, withings.com The Go is a simple disc that you can fix into a strap, or a clip – or you can keep it loose in your pocket. It tracks walking, running, swimming and sleeping and it does it all automatically. There are no buttons, just an E Ink screen that shows either the time or how you’re progressing towards your goal. All other information is recorded via the Withings Health Mate app, where you can also log your calorie intake. No frills, no complications, no hefty price tag.
£129.99, tomtom.com For an in-depth look into just how in shape you really are, the TomTom Touch doesn’t just monitor your heart rate and 24/7 activity but gives you a reading of your body and muscle fat percentage. You can view the reading via the TomTom MySports app, where you can also set your body fat goals, see how you’re progressing and observe trends over time.
£80.43, misfit.com There’s a lot to like about the Misfit Ray. It tracks activity well and is small enough to be a good sleep tracker. You can count your steps, measure distance covered, tag different activities (like yoga and cycling) and it’s water-resistant to 50m. There’s no screen, but it still notifies you if you’ve got texts or calls coming through on your phone. You can view your daily data on the Misfit app and also see how much more of each activity you need to do to meet your goals.
£59, welcome.moov.cc The MoovNow has been designed with runners in mind. Aside from all of the usual activity-tracking capabilities, this tracker also offers bespoke coaching. Download the Moov Inc app and you can select a training plan, based on your ability and goals, and a voice coach will guide you through your workouts, telling you what you’re doing well and how you could improve. It also monitors your running form and efficiency. All of which is recorded in the app, alongside pace and distance.
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ULTIMATE TECH GUIDE
THE BEST... HEADPHONES
Power up your run with these clear and crisp stay-put headphones
£79, sony.com Anyone born before the 80s will probably remember trying to run with a Sony Walkman. Lugging the bulky cassette player around on a run was more like resistance training than anything akin to a pleasurable listening experience. Worse yet, portable headphones were terrible back then – they were at least two-thirds sponge. Music and running weren’t compatible. Fast-forward a few decades and things have changed. Sony has evolved its Walkman range from cassettes, to CDS, via MiniDiscs and MP3s. Except now the digital files don’t sit in a separate player – in the case of the NW-WS413s, 4GB of music can be stored in a set of wire-free headphones. The NW-WS413s are bigger than your average set of headphones, but are comfortable to wear and stay in place when you up the intensity of your workouts. And, for those of you who lean towards the tri side of training, these headphones are a real boon. They’re completely waterproof, so you can wear them in the pool – and they allow you to hear ambient sounds, making them safer to cycle with. The sound quality is brilliant, even in the water. The controls on the headphones are easy to navigate and adding music is simply a case of dragging and dropping files. For people who want to train to music, these headphones are an easy way to access the tunes you need to get motivated.
BEATS BY DRE POWERBEATS 3 WIRELESS
£169.95, beatsbydre.com Beats by Dre has taken over the headphone world with its slick designs and crisp sounds. And the latest addition to the Powerbeats line is no different. Sound quality is excellent, they’re a snug fit and they don’t pop out while running. They’ve also got a sturdy design and are easy to set up.
JBL REFLECT MINI BT
£75, uk.jbl.com The main requirements for runners when looking for earbuds are that: a) they stay in your ears, b) they don’t entangle you in several feet of wire and c) they sound good, even over the noise of your laboured breath. The JBL Reflect Mini BT Bluetooth earbuds tick all of those boxes. They come with a range of different size ear-tips that fit comfortably. The cord is also reflective, adding a little extra visibility if you’re running at night.
MONSTER ISPORT FREEDOM
£199.95, monsterproducts.eu If on-ear headphones aren’t your cup of tea, Monster’s iSport Freedom might just change your mind. Despite appearances, they’re impressively lightweight, and the headband’s rubber interior sits snug against your head, so you don’t have to worry about them falling down mid-run. Controls on the right earcup are easy to use – allowing for Bluetooth synching, volume control and track selection. Usefully, they can also be rinsed under the tap after a sweaty run.
SNUGS ACTIVE CUSTOM-FIT EARPHONES
£199, snugsearphones.co.uk We’re willing to bet that you won’t find a better-fitting pair of headphones. That’s because before you can buy a pair, an audiologist measures the inside of your ear (either visit a Snugs store or pay for them to come to you) so that the ear tips can be custom made – to your design preference – and delivered within a few days. All that comes at a hefty price, of course, but the result is silicone moulds that fit perfectly in your ear and stay in no matter the intensity of exercise.
Dame Kelly Holmes, MBE. Garmin Running Ambassador.
stylish and easy-to-use GPS running watch with wrist-based heart rate1
ULTIMATE TECH GUIDE
THE BEST... APPS
Try these ingenious products for low-cost, high-motivation training aids
Free, myfitnesspal.com By far one of the most popular calorie-counting apps on the market, MyFitnessPal is your go-to choice if you’re looking to adopt healthier eating habits. Its USP is simple: log your meals and count your calories each day and you can lose weight – safely and sensibly. You simply select the meals, snacks and drinks you’ve consumed throughout the day from a database of over 5 million foods and the app totals up your daily count. Based on manually inputted data, including weight, height, activity levels and goal weight, the app gives you a daily target calorie count. It also calculates calories burned from your daily activity and connects to a wide range of activity trackers and health and fitness apps, such as Fitbit and Runkeeper, automatically syncing your activity data and adjusting your calorie count accordingly. Your progress is presented in a simple graph, which captures your progress and trends in your eating habits. You can also see a breakdown of the macronutrients you’re consuming, and it warns you if your foods are particularly high in any one macronutrient, such as fat. It will make you think twice before reaching for that extra biscuit…
Free, nike.com When Nike upgraded its popular app to the latest version earlier this year, users despaired as some of their favourite features had been cut back. However, for those giving it a second chance, the new app still retains some of the old app’s best and most advanced features that, unlike most, all remain free. These include personalised coaching, with bespoke training plans based on your goals and current experience, and a leaderboard system.
Free (with in-app purchases), keelo.com If you’re looking to complement your running with some HIIT workouts, Keelo is a great option. The app offers workouts to suit your fitness levels, all of which have videos to follow, to help you get your form right and ensure you’re doing the correct amount of reps. And most workouts are bodyweight-only so they’re perfect for at home.
Free, runkeeper.com One of the most trusty running apps out there, you know you’re safe to leave your GPS watch at home if you’ve got this app turned on. For accuracy, it’s spot-on, recording consistent data, including pace, distance travelled and calories burned. You can also add extra details afterwards, such as your average heart rate and the shoes you ran in. With an upgrade to the paid version, you can get more detailed insights into your performance and also set training and weight-loss goals, and the app will provide you with a workout plan and instructions to help you achieve them.
Free, strava.com One for the competitive athlete. Once you’ve logged your activity via the app, which will give you all the data you need, you can upload to the Strava social feed, where you can also see details of your friends’ workouts and compare and compete. You can also choose to take on a particular segment, completed by other athletes, and see how you perform against them. You can join local clubs or create a club for your team, where you will get your own club leaderboard and can interact with club members.
Whether it’s a training run or you’re pushing yourself to the extremes, you’ll need a light you can trust. The award winning Ledlenser SEO7R headlamp integrates powerful performance and state-of-the-art technologies that combine effortlessly to chase the dark away and extend the day. Highlights include patented Advanced Focus System® optics, OPTISENSE® active light measurement technology, white and red LEDs and the ability to use standard alkaline batteries in this rechargeable light. Reach that personal best with the Ledlenser SEO7R.
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ULTIMATE TECH GUIDE
THE BEST... HEADTORCHES
Light your way with the new generation of ultra-bright headlamps
£145, petzl.com When only the best will do, it’s time to go for the Petzl NAO, the high priest of headtorches. This thing belts out 575 lumens, so you’ll essentially be a mobile lighthouse. The reactive lighting adjusts the light output automatically and it comes with a rechargeable lithium battery, although it can also be powered with AAA batteries. If you’re a technical Luddite, you may find the setting up process slightly too involved, while the premium price-point will be a deal-breaker for many. However, if you’re looking for the best-in-show, this is the torch to go for.
PETZL REAKTIK +
£85, petzl.com/gb An ‘intelligent headlamp’, the Reakitk + connects to a mobile app (MyPetzl Light) that allows you to check battery life and alter the lighting to the activity: trail running, trekking, mountaineering and backpacking. The real star of the show, though, is the 300 lumens of max power, which has an incredible reach of 110m. The rechargeable battery lasts a good few hours, too (depending on the brightness) and the head strap stays firmly in place.
LED LENSER SE07R
£74.95, ledlenser.com/uk If you’re looking for an easy-tooperate headtorch that won’t break the bank, the LED Lenser is the light for you. It has three simple modes: a bright light, a dim light and a flashing light. There’s also an automatic dimming function so if you occasionally look down at a map, you won’t need to manually reduce the intensity of the light. The fit is snug and bounce-free, allowing you to move at full pace without fear of it falling off, while it’s impressive battery life puts it way ahead of its pricier peers.
SILVA TRAIL RUNNER II
£40, silva.se This is a lightweight headtorch that packs a pretty decent level of illumination by combining a strong spotlight and a wide floodlight. It’s extremely simple to use – with just one button to press – and offers four hours of burn time on the brightest setting (10 on the lowest). Equipped with an external rechargeable battery pack, it’s easily re-juiced, and the headstrap offers jiggle-free comfort.
BLACK DIAMOND IOTA
£35, blackdiamondequipment.com Low in price and light in weight, the Iota is the ideal companion on short, less technical trail runs. Boasting a bounce-free fit, 150 lumens of light and a rechargeable battery, it also has three different settings: full beam, dimming and strobe. For early morning and late evening runs around parks and trails, the Iota impresses.
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r e f f u S
b u l c
When training and racing, how hard are you really trying? David Smyth meets the athletes and experts who argue you can always give more
60 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
s R Kelly sang in ‘Bump ‘n’ Grind’, the R&B superstar’s famous song about crosscountry running, “My mind is tellin’ me no, but my body, my body’s tellin’ me YES!” We can receive conflicting messages when racing, and it’s hard to know what to believe. Most confusingly, how can we tell that we’re trying as hard as we can when we run? If you cross the finish line and are able to chat straight away, or indeed feel comfortable enough to natter during a race, you could probably give a little more. The problem is that we don’t usually recognise that until late on. If you can summon a blazing sprint finish at the close (and most of us can – that’s the best bit, isn’t it?), who’s to say that you couldn’t have used that extra energy more effectively in the rest of the race?
“The question, ‘How can a runner tell if he has given his best effort over the full distance of a race?’ is fundamentally unknowable,” says coach and author Matt Fitzgerald, who wrote the book How Bad Do You Want It? “No matter how hard an athlete feels he has tried, he always finishes a race – or at least reaches the point where he begins his finishing kick – with a reserve of physical capacity. This is because runners pace their races based on subjective perceptions of their physical limits, and humans appear to be wired to always underestimate these limits.” You can’t win a top-level race without trying your hardest though, surely, so how do the big boys do it? I ask triathlon gold medallist Alistair Brownlee who, as a less than ideal interview mix of single-minded professional athlete and Yorkshireman, doesn’t have much to offer in the way
© Martin Scott Powell
GIVING IT YOUR ALL
January 2017 • mensrunninguk.co.uk 61
Left to right: Alistair Brownlee is a master of mental strength; Ricky Lighftoot eats hills for breakfast
of deep psychological insights. “It’s hard for me to answer because it comes quite naturally and I’ve done it from a very young age,” he says of his ability to push himself towards first place. He isn’t a believer in visualisation or other ways to train your mind as well as your body for success. “I’ve never let myself focus on crossing the line. I have to remain very much in the moment. I am aware somewhere that I’m really, really pushing hard, but I’m staying in the moment, trying to hold on till the next corner, breaking the race down and staying in the present. My opinion is, train as hard as you can physically, get yourself on the startline and embrace the challenge of the race. Just get on with it.”
62 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
Simple, huh? “You can almost always try harder than you think you can,” he continues. “So basically you do something as hard as you can, then try and do it about five per cent harder.” It makes sense that a good way to understand your effort level is to have done something before. When you do it better the second time, you have measurable proof that you’re trying harder. Plus, as we know, having a goal to beat is a great motivator. Fell running world champion Ricky Lightfoot understands the determination that results from doing less well the first time you try something. When we speak, he’s just back from the Grand Trail des Templiers in France, a 76K race in which
he finished a mere 24th. However, his previous visit was worse. “Two years ago I had an injury at this same race that stopped me finishing it, so I was more determined than ever to finish this time,” he tells me. “I’ve been carrying an injury for about two years. It started hurting after about 30K in this race. I found myself almost wanting to give in and stop. “It’s points like that when you feel a bit of self-pity. I found myself wishing I had my phone so I could call my partner. But I knew it wasn’t going to get any worse. I just kept on telling myself: get a little bit further, get to the next checkpoint. I told myself I wanted to get to the finish, and I was more than happy with that.” You’ll have noticed both Brownlee and
GIVING IT YOUR ALL
5 WAYS Reframe your suffering As author and runner Haruki Murakami reminded us: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” Andy Lane elaborates: “You can train your brain to interpret sensations of fatigue as sensations of goal achievement.” Repeat yourself You know for sure that you’re trying harder if you do the same thing again, and do it better. Set goals You’re more likely to try harder if you perceive your extra effort as worthwhile. So go for that PB, or that good position. Do short intervals The shorter the better, says Lane. “Make each rep short enough for you to go hard and not overthink pacing. When it’s short, you can do another one and develop your ability to say, ‘Yes, I can keep going.’” Pace yourself smart “If you did a parkrun in 20 minutes, the first half in nine and the second half in 11, a lot of people would go by you in the second half and you’d feel awful,” says Lane. “The other way round, you’d be accelerating and finish feeling fabulous.”
Lightfoot thinking about their races only in small increments. If you tried to comprehend the magnitude of, say, the Marathon des Sables and its endless stages all at once, you’d run screaming in the opposite direction. But putting one foot in front of the other, then doing it again, and again, ought always to be something you can manage. In practice you can persuade your brain to think positively about repeating these small achievements, according to Andy Lane, Professor of Sport and Learning at the University of Wolverhampton. It’s interval training that will teach you how to push harder for longer. “If you’re doing 20 reps, you don’t think, ‘I can’t do 17 more of these.’ You don’t have
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© Leo Francis / Red Bull
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b u l c to think about that. You only have to think about the next one,” he tells me. “So you think, ‘Can I do one more? Yes.’ That brings the mindset: ‘Can I go quicker? Yes I can.’ That’s the foundation of mental strength for any endurance event: ‘Can I do this again? Yes. Can I push myself hard? Yes. Is it tiring? Yes. But am I stopping? No!’” A problem that we face is that we almost always feel that we are trying our hardest, even if the reality is that we could try harder. Matt Fitzgerald cites a study in which cyclists completed a time trial, then did it again racing against an avatar on a computer screen that was programmed to do it two per cent faster than each cyclist had done it previously. The cyclists did better the second time, but on both occasions reported that they’d been trying as hard as they could. So what you’re trying to do is increase your maximum tolerance of your perceived effort. “When you complete a hard workout or race and realise that it didn’t kill you, you feel comfortable pushing a little harder in the next one,” says Fitzgerald. But how do we measure that effort during a race? An attempt to run at a
64 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
certain pace per mile can come unstuck when there are hills or a headwind. Using a heart-rate monitor can teach you the top level at which you can work, and help you to know the line to keep just underneath. However, they can lag, continuing to climb after you’ve already reached the top of a hill, for example. Some devices, such as those made by Stryd and RPM2, can now offer a power reading in watts, of the kind used by cyclists. It could be a more accurate way to keep track of physical effort regardless of hills, wind or technical trails. But no one has yet come up with a gadget for measuring mental toughness. For that, you simply have to suffer. “You’ve got to be broken a little before you can improve your mental strength,” says Ricky Lightfoot. “Without seeing how far you can push it, you’ll never know how much you’re capable of.”
“WITHOUT SEEING HOW FAR YOU CAN PUSH IT, YOU’LL NEVER KNOW HOW MUCH YOU’RE CAPABLE OF”
GIVING IT YOUR ALL
THEY’RE HYPERCOMPETITIVE “I’m always trying to win, and view giving up as being no different to losing. Being mentally strong and trying to carry on to the finish is probably my way of winning,” says Ricky Lightfoot.
THEY STAY IN THE MOMENT “When I’m pushing hard, I don’t want my mind to wander off from the here and now,” says Alistair Brownlee. “If you’re in a race thinking, ‘I can’t do this, I have to make myself do this,’ it would already be too late.”
THEY STICK TO A SCHEDULE Says Andy Lane: “Pro athletes’ ability to stick to training programmes is collossal, plus their ability to run on the edge of where it hurts. Most people could get a lot better at learning to cope with more.”
THEY EXHIBIT INHIBITORY CONTROL That’s the ability to stay focused on the thing that you want most, even when confronted with two incompatible things, such as A: wanting to finish quickly, and B: not wanting to suffer.
THEY KNOW IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT EFFORT Technique is important too. “There’s a balance between going as hard as you can and maintaining your technique,” says Brownlee. “You can try too hard and lose out in another way.”
© Martin Scott Powell
5 ATTRIBUTES MENTALLY TOUGH ATHLETES SHARE
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on empty Running
ooming. b is g in n n ru , y As an industr g clubs in in n n ru y n a m So why are so el Donlevy investigates a decline? Mich
he heaving crowd was mad for it: shouting, cheering and revelling in a party atmosphere long into the chilly spring night. There was hot food and cold beer, accompanied by singers and dancers, acrobats and fire-breathers. Yet this wasn’t some random boozy festival this May – there were also athletes, and this was Parliament Hill athletics track. This was The Night Of The 10,000m PBs (highgateharriers.org.uk), a guerilla athletics event organised by Highgate Harriers that has in just four years become the home of the national championships and trials for both the Olympics and World Championships. And it could well be the saviour of one of running’s oldest and most traditional institutions: the athletics club.
A DYING INSTITUTION?
Running clubs are in trouble, we keep hearing. John Bicourt, who, as well as being an international coach, was the English 3,000m steeplechase record holder and a two-time Olympian in the 1970s, says, “Clear evidence from recorded participation across most sports and especially athletics is that numbers and standards of competitors, including the number of voluntary coaches and officials, across the board, are dropping not increasing. “The vast majority of young people at 16 and over are clearly not interested in seriously taking up or continuing competitive sport. They’re simply not motivated enough. The London Olympics were sold to the nation – who paid for them – on the false premise 66 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
of ‘increasing participation and inspiring our young and future generations to take up sport’, yet there was actually a drop in the level of competitive participation from before the Games.” There are potentially many reasons for this. “Normal, everyday life has changed massively and this has had a huge effect on families, so I think a more flexible regime has become important,” says serial marathon runner Steve Edwards (750 and counting). On top of that, it’s clear that more people run to work, during their lunch hours or in the gym – things that didn’t really happen even a generation ago. “Then I was talking to somebody recently who isn’t in a club but can train competitively on his own using Strava. Technology has given people that choice and some have welcomed it as it means they’re not tied to specific training nights or times.” The decline is borne out by Bill Weeks, who was team manager of Belgrave Harriers for more than 30 years. “During that time we won the British Athletics League Premiership 11 times, represented British clubs in Europe 11 times and beat the Luch Moscow team – which comprised mainly their international squad – in a relay competition,” he says. “When I gave up as team manager nobody would do the job so Belgrave withdrew its men’s team from British Athletics League. Now we have a joint men’s and women’s team in the Southern Athletics League Division 1. Track and field’s decline over the last 12 years has seen the demise of three cup competitions – there’s nothing now.”
Or is there? It could simply be the case that what athletics traditionalists expect from the sport is changing. “The 10K was the ugly duckling of British athletics, even at a time when everyone was singing and dancing about Mo Farah,” says Ben Pochee, race director of The Night Of The 10,000m PBs. “There were just no events in this country and athletes were going to Stanford in the States to try to post a qualifying time for the Olympics. You can probably afford it if you’re Mo, but it’s not so easy for everyone else. I saw an opportunity to create an open track meet, to build an event here every year and give it an atmosphere. It was about bringing that running club passion – that’s bubbling away below the surface – to the fore.” The event itself is different to anything that’s gone before, with crowds in Lane 3 and a marquee along the back straight that houses a DJ and booze tent. “The runners go through the tent, which we call the Lactic Tunnel of Love. There are no IAAF regulations stopping people from coming on the track – it’s just tradition. We want to abide by the rules but change the traditions, and it’s worked. We had just 100 spectators in 2012. This year we had over 5,000.” And while The Night Of The 10,000m PBs is a one-off, annual event, it’s indicative of a shift in how runners are using athletics clubs. “Highgate Harriers is an old and one-time traditional club. In the 1970s and 80s it was run by volunteers who had a narrow goal – to compete in events. For people new to @mensrunninguk
JOIN THE CLUB
ÂŠ Anne Bennett
Clubbing together: members of Serpentine running club take part in a speed session around Hyde Park
January 2017 â€˘ mensrunninguk.co.uk 67
the sport now, though, that isn’t as relevant,” says Pochee. “There are so many different types of clubs now – Chorley in Manchester was set up for beginners and now it’s huge. There are women-only clubs, and gay and lesbian clubs. Serpentine in London is great, as they also cater for triathletes and kids, and they mix the training, competing, and social sides really well. Whenever I go to a race they bring the best cakes, and then lead a charge to the pub afterwards.” “Aside from club trips to domestic and foreign races, my local club has organised things like treasure hunts,” says Edwards, while on another level completely there is GoodGym, a registered charity that combines running with volunteering in the community across London and several other towns and cities. And then, of course, there is a new sensation that doesn’t require its members to do any of that stuff, or pay to join: parkrun.
FREE AND EASY
“The effect of local parkruns is probably greater than that of Team GB’s success at the Olympics,” says Ros Tabor, secretary of the Veterans Athletics Club. “We have a steady stream of new members from parkrun. We also get a big spike in membership when people get accepted into the London Marathon and want to train properly.” But Laws disagrees on the former. “Parkrun has speeded up the demise of road running clubs, I think, by giving free competition to runners. Club runners have switched to parkruns,” he says. “Plus, clubs used to hold their own open road races and got fees from non-members. That has now stopped.” So how to attract new members? Firstly, it would clearly make sense to target the younger generation. “The adult membership at my local club in the Cotswolds has been in decline for sometime now – it’s the lowest I’ve known since joining them in 2008,” says Edwards. “Conversely, the junior membership has been growing steadily and is very healthy.” Secondly, it takes innovation to attract and retain newcomers. “What we see at our club is very talented juniors leave school, go to university and stop running,” he adds. “The gap in my mind is therefore people in their twenties and early thirties.” And despite its excellent cakes, Serpentine has seen membership fall in recent years, from 2,400 in 2006 to 1,800 today. “The club started in 1982 and 68 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
membership numbers grew relatively slowly but steadily, reaching 500 in 2001,” says Ian Hodge, Serpentine’s committee member responsible for athletics and cross-country. We’re still way above our 2001 membership level, but the decline is something we do see as a trend.”
ACCEPTABLE IN THE 80S
Clubs formed in the running boom of the eighties, like Serpentine, were focused on road running and attracted large numbers, with another boom in the early 2000s,” says Hodge. “I suspect those clubs that hadn’t – or haven’t – diversified into the likes of track and field, cross-country, and/ or triathlon are seeing a decline in membership, as the more casual runners they attract don’t need clubs as much. My feeling is that we are not getting as many casual members as we were 10 years ago and those that do join are more serious and tend to renew their membership and stay with us. We’ve certainly seen a boom in participation in track and field and cross-country over the last few years.” Yet the future certainly isn’t as gloomy as the traditionalists would have you believe, and there could be another reason for the slight decline in Serpentine’s membership – there are now 1,271 running clubs in the UK, compared to 1,072 in 2008, while membership has risen from 98,000 to 150,000 in the same time, so it’s clear that membership is spread over more clubs than it was even a few years ago. What seems to have changed is what people want from their club, which perhaps explains why there are now more of them, catering for newcomers, casual runners and serious competitors. As Edwards says, “The more social type of club is probably more popular now than the training-based club.” But whatever your goal, there will be a club to help you achieve it – and if there isn’t, you could always start your own.
WHERE DO I SIGN? 5 REASONS TO JOIN YOUR LOCAL RUNNING CLUB 1. YOU’LL TRAIN BETTER “People who want to improve and become the best runner they can be do want the competitive edge that trainingbased clubs offer with coaching,” says serial marathon runner Steve Edwards. Technology is great but there’s no substitute for training with a club. That friendly rivalry with fellow club members just makes you work that bit harder.” 2. YOU’LL MAKE FRIENDS “Clubs are generally friendly and open and there are still lots of people who prefer to run with others,” says Edwards. “The added value is the potential to make new friends, share experiences, learn from others and enjoy the camaraderie of being part of a team.” 3. YOU CAN TAKE THE FAMILY Or at the new breed of running clubs you can. “Clubs that cater for families will do well,” says Edwards. “My local club has a great junior section and with that you’ll always get some parents who want to come along and join in.” 4. YOU MIGHT BE BETTER THAN YOU FIRST THOUGHT “Steve Jones, who still holds the British record for the marathon, was a smoker who started out jogging and then joined a club,” says Ben Pochee of Highgate Harriers. “Structured coaching will help anyone improve, and who knows how good you may be?” 5. IT WON’T BREAK THE BANK “Running clubs are not expensive – ours is £36 per year, which includes £13 to England Athletics – so even if people only want others to run with in a less formal way it’s still a good deal,” says Ros Tabor of the Veterans Athletics Club. “A personal trainer or gym membership would cost much more.” The 2017 Night Of The 10,000m PBs World Championship GB Trials edition will take place on 20 May 2017 at Parliament Hill running track. Entry for spectators is free!
Left foot forward: three runners battle it out at The Night of the 10,000m PBs
© Mark Shearman
JOIN THE CLUB
January 2017 • mensrunninguk.co.uk 69
Feet first: look after your feet and you’ll reap the rewards
Are your work shoes ruining your feet? Rick Pearson looks at the importance of wearing well designed lifestyle footwear
s runners, we’re obsessed with the finer points of running footwear: how much does it weigh? Is it neutral or supportive? Will it look good on my Instagram account? But how much attention do we pay to our day shoes? My guess is, not a lot. And yet it’s these shoes, rather than our prized trainers, that we’ll spend the majority of our waking hours wearing. There’s something inconsistent about that, surely? Not only is it inconsistent, it could be detrimental to our feet and, by extension, our running. “If you constrain the foot for seven hours a day by wearing a narrow, tapered shoe with a heel, you’ll get an unfavourable adaptation in its structure,” says Dr Mick Wilkinson, a senior lecturer in sport, exercise and rehabilitation at Northumbria University. “It’s Wolff’s Law: bones conform to the pressures put on them.” In other words, if you wear shoe-shaped shoes, you’ll end up with shoe-shaped feet. This can happen very quickly, too, particularly in children, whose feet are incredibly malleable. Evidence suggests structural change to the feet can happen in as little as six weeks.
FEET OF ENDURANCE
If you want to know what a healthy, functional foot looks like, says Dr Wilkinson, you have to look at someone 70 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
who’s never worn shoes. “A native/natural foot is extremely wide,” he says. “The big toe is in an ‘abducted’ position, flaring out away from the other toes, giving the foot its maximum width right at the front. Haile Gebrselassie had a childhood without shoes and had feet so wide that he struggled to fit into conventional trainers when the sponsors came circling. “However, with all the feedback inherent in going barefoot, he had already acquired the skill of running as a youngster, so his fantastic technique, possibly to a large extent, compensates for the fact that his feet are now actually quite structurally compromised.” Running or walking around barefoot isn’t an option for most of us, of course, so what’s the alternative? “I would encourage people to walk around in a zero-drop shoe, with a roomy toe-box and no toe spring,” says Mark Esteban of Vivobarefoot. “The problem with a lot of traditional shoes is that they defy the anatomical laws of the foot. The result is that most people’s feet become dysfunctional.” One of the major problems with traditional shoes is that they move the big toe inward and upward from its natural position, something that impairs balance and can lead to a bunion. “The bunion comes as a result of a misplaced and therefore dysfunctional big toe that is Photography Martin Scott Powell
January 2017 â€¢ mensrunninguk.co.uk 71
think of it this way: if inflexible and unstable feet are the cause of your running injuries – and for many people they are – long-term it’s going to be more costeffective to invest in a pair of decent day shoes than it is to keep visiting the physio. Consider this statistic: in a healthy foot, 17% of the initial load when running is stored in the elastic arch of the foot and 35% in the achilles – together that’s dealing with over 50% of the overall load. “If your arch isn’t able to stretch and recoil, the 17% of the load that it should be dealing with goes to the next elastic structure, which is the achilles,” says Dr Wilkinson. “The result, almost inevitably, is injury. The problems from dysfunctional or unstable feet travel ‘upstream’, manifesting as problems in the lower leg, knees, hips and even lower back.”
unable to control and stop the natural, inward roll of bodyweight through the foot,” says Dr Wilkinson. “Over time, the uncontrolled, excessive inward roll loads the inside edge of the ball of your foot, and the body responds by adding more bone to deal with that load, resulting in a bunion. Barefoot shoes can’t help at this point – in fact, they’ll make the problem worse as the foot is mechanically compromised and inherently unstable.”
You wouldn’t have to be Karl Lagerfeld to note that a lot of barefoot-style shoes are somewhat lacking in the fashion stakes. Brave is he who turns up to the workplace rocking the suit-and-Vibrams ensemble. Going full barefoot is another shortcut to being handed your P45, while a lot of minimalist shoes have the unwelcome habit of making the wearer’s feet look like a kidney bean. Help is at hand in the form of companies like Xero Shoes and Vivobarefoot, who are now creating shoes that are easy on the feet and easy on the eye. “In the past, a lot of designs have looked orthopaedic or clownish,” says Steven Sashen, CEO of Xero Shoes. “We’re trying to create something with a bit more style. At the company’s core, though, is the same insistence that all shoes be “flat, flexible in all directions and lightweight.” Many minimalist day shoes have a maximalist price tag (all of Vivobarefoot’s lifestyle shoes are north of the £100 mark), and that’s something barefoot manufacturers may need to address if they’re to appeal to the mass market. But 72 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
WALK DON’T RUN
For too many people, their journey in (and out) of minimalist running has been a variation on the following tragicomedy: read Born to Run; believe built-up shoes are the root of all evil; buy a pair of Vibrams; attempt to run big miles like the Tarahumara; get injured; write off minimalist running as gobbledygook; buy a pair of Hokas. There’s another way, of course, but it requires two words that most runners hate: patience and time. You have to walk before you can run – literally. At Vivobarefoot, they encourage all customers who are looking to transition into barefoot running to begin by simply walking round in a barefoot shoe. It’s a bit like in Karate Kid when Daniel-San wants to learn to bust heads and Mr Miyagi has him paint his fence. Daniel-San is askance; but Miyagi, as ever, is right. “I’d encourage people to spend several months, maybe even a year, simply walking in barefoot shoes before they try to run in them,” says Esteban. “And you know what? A sizeable minority of people will never be able to run in barefoot shoes. We’re open and honest about that. But what’s wrong with having a stronger, more stable and pliable foot in the meantime? “I’d far rather someone walked round in a pair of barefoot shoes eight hours a day and wore Nike Pegasus for their one-hour run, than tried to jump into running in barefoot shoes and get injured.” So, isn’t it about time you stopped fretting about your trainers and paid more attention your lifestyle shoes? Your feet just might thank you for it.
“THE PROBLEMS FROM UNSTABLE FEET MANIFEST AS PROBLEMS IN THE LOWER LEG, KNEES, HIPS AND EVEN LOWER BACK”
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The Project Trail team begin the countdown to the Wendover 50. Are they prepared or petrified? 76 mensrunninguk.co.uk â€˘ January 2017
Words Isaac Williams Photography James Carnegie
onths of training and over a thousand collective miles are behind them. But for Dan, Jon and Nic, the hard work is far from over. For many runners, the final weeks of training can prove to be the hardest; growing used to a certain amount of miles can make the simple act of resting more challenging than the running itself. So how are the Project Trailers planning to tackle their respective tapers – and how ready are they for the race itself? Name: Jon Gurney Age: 51 Hometown: Gravesend Job: Bank manager Twitter: @RunRonneyRun
You’re entering the final few weeks of training; are you happy with the progress you’ve made up to this point? My overall fitness feels pretty good. My assessment runs, recovery rates and heart-rate monitoring all suggest good progress has been made. If anything is lacking, it is sufficient focus on pure endurance, but l believe the mix of cross-training and miles in my legs over a number of years will ensure the distance doesn’t defeat me. What’s been the toughest aspect of the training? The toughest aspect has been ensuring enough focus on running. I know it sounds crazy with such a big target ahead, but fitting in hockey and cycling, as well as running sessions, has certainly meant some compromise with my training plan. Where possible I’ve tried to swap sessions of a similar type, so for example an interval session could equal a hockey match and a long run could equal a long off-road cycle. Are you going to struggle to take it a bit easier for the next few weeks? For me, a conscious taper will only apply to the last two weeks. I simply don’t have the high volume of mileage in my legs to warrant a longer taper. I haven’t got any hockey scheduled for the final two weeks, which will save my body from the usual (age-related!) aches and pains that follow
every match and training session. This will leave me free to have a few short, gentle runs before tapering down. What do you see as the biggest challenge(s) between now and the race? I was going to say that my biggest challenge for the final few weeks was to stay injury- and illness-free, and to arrive on race day in the best possible shape. Unfortunately, though, fate has dealt me a blow in the form of a significant knee injury after being hit during a hockey match. My challenge is, therefore, quite simple: to get to the start line. I am hopeful that I’ll be running again within a week, but 48 hours after the injury the signs are not good for such a quick return. The one thing that is certain is that I’ll be doing everything I can to overcome this challenge to ensure I’m on the start line for the big challenge in Wendover.
OUR PROJECT TRAIL PARTNERS 2016
ROBBIE SAYS : “With Jon we are taking the abstract approach of using hockey matches as interval sessions, and he is finding overall fitness is building well – with the TrainAsONE programme alongside. Cross-training is great, but injury can be an issue with sports like football and hockey, which can then affect your consistency. Jon banged his knee, but with a couple of days resting and making rice cakes for race day, I’m sure he’s going to be fighting fit again.” January 2017 • mensrunninguk.co.uk 77
You’re entering the final few weeks of training; are you happy with the progress you’ve made up to this point? To a certain point, yes. I haven’t had any disastrous sessions like I normally do, which is excellent, but my training has been interrupted by other events, and a slightly tight hamstring. However, saying that, I am pleased with the progress in general. I did a trail half marathon in appalling weather conditions – and after 90-minute run the day before – and was only two minutes off last year’s time, so I feel like I am in a good place at the moment. I’m looking forward to doing a really solid last couple of weeks before the taper kicks in.
Name: Nic Porter Age: 41 Hometown: London Job: HR manager Twitter: @trailrunnernic
What’s been the toughest aspect of the training? It’s been tough with the paces set. It’s very different to marathon training, where sometimes I find I struggle to hit the paces in my training because they are slightly too fast. This time it’s the other way round: I have to constantly make a conscious effort not to go out too hard when the runs are longer. I’m learning it’s about being consistent over the whole session and not just being fast. Robbie has been scheduling me some interval and threshold sessions the day before my long run. It’s hard doing those long, slow efforts on really tired legs
ROBBIE SAYS : “Nic was heading for some super high mileage, so we’ve eased back with an extra focus on the quality sessions to ensure that he isn’t completely exhausted on the day of the race. The longer the race, the more important being rested and fresh is come the start, so that will be our focus in the weeks to come. Nic has even been running with his five-month pregnant wife to keep his pace down, but we’ve heard it just slows her down waiting for him…” 78 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
Are you going to struggle to take it a bit easier for the next few weeks? I don’t think tapering will be a struggle; it will be nice to have a bit more time to relax and unwind in the evening after work. I never find tapering hard (especially when the weather is getting colder and it’s nice and warm in the house), I just have to remember I’m not running quite as far as usual so I can’t eat as much food – that’s going to be the real challenge! What do you see as the biggest challenge(s) between now and the race? I think the biggest challenge before the race is making sure that I am in good shape when I get to the startline. I’m really happy with my progress and where I am so it’s just about maintaining that through until race day. I’ve recently incorporated more foam rolling and stretching into my routine and that seems to be helping me recover better – I’m not feeling as stiff the next morning after a long or hard workout the night before. Fingers crossed I’ll have no niggles between now and the race! @mensrunninguk
Name: Dan Stinton Age: 37 Hometown: Manchester Job: Transport project manager Twitter: @AllHailTheTrail
“MY QUADS START QUIVERING JUST THINKING ABOUT IT!”
ROBBIE SAYS : “Dan has just enjoyed a 35-mile trail run – not something I’d usually prescribe in a build-up to a 50-mile race, but as a farewell adventure with a friend. We used the 35-miler to practise pacing, hydration, nutrition and kit for race day, making sure the experience was as valuable as possible for the Wendover 50. The following week saw a real focus on recovery, as you don’t want any hangover from the 35-miler on race day.”
3 TIPS TO THE PERFECT TAPER Caution is king. Always err on the side of caution. One more interval session in the final fortnight won’t make a significant difference on the big day, but getting to the startline with an injury, niggle or just plain tired can make or break your race.
Rest is best. Don’t try to fill your time with other activities or exercises. Instead, when you would do a 45 to 60-minute run, have a 45 to 60-minute rest instead. Try to sleep a bit more, eat healthily, and tie up any loose ends you might worry about during the race.
Be prepared. Make sure everything is ready for race day – be it your kit, your food or your travel logistics. The less stress – mental or physical – you have in the last couple of days, the better. Absolutely anything that can be done in advance, should be.
You’re entering the final few weeks of training; are you happy with the progress you’ve made up to this point? Time has flown by since we started Project Trail and I’ve been really happy with my progress. There has been lots of solid training but I’ve also fitted in some great confidence-boosting races and fun running experiences, including: running a race in the wrong direction; a jaunt up Snowdon; running up a steep mountain from Croatia into Bosnia; some great parkrun times; a half marathon PB by eight minutes; and being chased in the pitch black by a cow in the Peak District. As a build-up to a 50-miler, it’s been a great few months. What’s been the toughest aspect of the training? I have my last long run coming up soon, but in general the training has been shorter and faster than I had originally expected for 50 miles. There has been a lot of interval sessions with longer durations than I’m used to, so maintaining a quick pace over repeats of six to 10 minutes has been hugely beneficial. Training has also been more frequent than previously, so I’m getting used to lots of running on tired legs. I almost feel like a running robot with relentless running, gritting the teeth and getting on with it! Are you going to struggle to take it a bit easier for the next few weeks? Tapering is like that long wait for a holiday, although during the Wendover 50 there will probably be less pints of lager by the pool at 11am. I’ll welcome the taper in a way, because I know how important it is, but at the same time I’ll be bouncing off the walls wanting to get on with it. I’ll be trying to focus on eating well, staying injury-free and keeping a positive mental attitude towards the race. What do you see as the biggest challenge(s) between now and the race? This is the biggest challenge I’ve ever done so I need to keep believing I can do it. I’ve sort of come to terms with the distance but have a few reservations about the 2,900m of elevation. Putting that into perspective, it’s nearly three times up Snowdon – my quads start quivering just thinking about it! But, of course, each step forward is one more closer to the finish line and I think the fear of not actually finishing this after all the hard training will be enough to keep me going! January 2017 • mensrunninguk.co.uk 79
GET THE TRAIL MINDSET
Stop fretting about your splits and chasing PBs. Embrace the trail and start thinking like an off-road runner, says Ceri Rees
EXPERT ADVICE Ceri Rees is an ex-international athlete and trail running expert. He is the founder of Wild Running, offering trail running and mountaineering trips for people of all abilities.
Despite his competitive instinct, GB trail running international Damian Hall is realistically down-to-earth in his expectations: “I’m much more likely to tell myself I have to be top 10 or similar and enjoy the thrill of racing other people. In a big city race, you can overtake 100 people and there will still be 100 ahead of you. That’s no fun! I also like to try to get as muddy as humanly possible. Sometimes though, especially in mountainous, longer ultra-distance or especially tough races, it can be just about finishing the event and enjoying the experience.”
ff-road running involves more than a change of terrain; it also involves a change of mindset. The accepted rules of road running are turned upside down as trail runners define success by other metrics.
A lot of trail runners love to race instead of train, because the yardstick by which they judge themselves is different to that of their road-based bethren. While there may be no distinction between the competitive nature of trail runners and road runners, to properly engage with trail running you may need to think about reframing what competition means to you. In the 17th century, the age of enlightenment, the definition of competition was: ‘To strive alongside another for the attainment of something.’ According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, today’s definition is: ‘A situation in which someone is trying to win something or be more successful than someone else.’
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If you’ve ever been a road runner, you might remember what it was like to be slightly obsessed with mile splits and data. But to truly enjoy the trails, you need a more flexible relationship with the ticking clock. Splits will be decided by the terrain. Although Hall always wears his Suunto, it isn’t to check his splits. “I look at my Suunto far less frequently in a trail race and when I do it’s to see how many miles are left, not my pace, which is fairly irrelevant, as it’ll likely be much slower than my road running speed anyway. I do enjoy road running sometimes, but I hate the fact it glues my eye to my wrist as I race my watch. I prefer racing other people. Unless they beat me.” When discussing flow, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, author of Finding Flow, describes how all consideration of time loses its meaning. “The sense of time becomes distorted and the activity becomes an end in itself.” It’s a sensation that many trail runners will associate with.
Road running involves the pounding of feet on concrete, which doesn’t sufficiently
challenge your skill range. Natural landscapes, by contrast, offer a mosaic of horizons to stimulate your body and mind. As a result, it is much easier to focus on something external without drifting off on to autopilot. The going underfoot dictates your shoe selection, race approach and, more importantly, your proprioceptive feedback. As each new feature rears up, the terrain provides natural segments or chapters to renew your purpose. Running off-road is just more exciting.
Road runners tend to have well-defined legs and the upper-body of an emaciated toddler. Trail runners, by contrast, come in all shapes and sizes. Ricky Lightfoot, a fireman by trade, is a keen fan of CrossFit and works a lot on his core and upper-body. Jon Albon, the recent winner of the prestigious Glen Coe Skyline, is a big fan of indoor climbing, which requires a certain amount of upper-body strength, as well as great coordination and balance.
The best sight you can hope to see during a road race is the finish line. Not so in trail races, where the scenery can be motivation in itself. “Trail running is much more likely to keep me in the moment, partly because there’s far better scenery to enjoy and, as it changes, it can take your mind off the hurty bits of your body,” says Hall. “Plus a rooty or rocky path makes you concentrate and keeps you in the moment, whereas I spend much of my waking time thinking about things I need to do in the future, or regretting things I did wrong in the past. Trail running is temporary, if sweaty, Buddhism.”
5 THINGS YOU WOULD NEVER HEAR A TRAIL RUNNER SAY 1. “I knocked off a few reps last night in three minutes.” 2. “I just bought a new countdown stopwatch.” 3. “I can’t train because I have to take my dog for a walk.” 4. “I don’t eat cake.” 5. “I hope I don’t get lapped.”
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International ultrarunner Robbie Britton has some lessons from the frontline
BRITT’S SCHOOL electrolyte balance, mind games, route knowledge, personal admin, kit choice, weather management, how long (or little) you spend at checkpoints – the list goes on. When it gets to race day it should be your potential on that day you think about, as there is nowt you can do to change the past. If you blame the training and don’t look for other learning opportunities, you’re just making excuses.
Lessons learned: Robbie (pictured) says that it’s important to learn from a disappointing race
ULTRA RULE #6 The first 80 miles of a 100-miler should be easy. If it feels like hard work then slow down. It’ll hurt from about 20-30 miles, but you shouldn’t be working hard. Save that for the sprint finish.
RACE THIS If you’ve never had a bad race, you’re not trying hard enough. One of the best ways to improve your ultrarunning is to get out there, make some mistakes and – this is the key part – actually learn from them. Making the same mistakes over and over again is not a good thing and it doesn’t make you experienced. It makes you an idiot. Sometimes it may take a couple of instances for a lesson to really sink, but trying to learn from every experience is absolutely vital. As a coach, you don’t wish a bad race upon any athlete you work with, but if it does happen it can become a valuable learning experience. If you have a bad race, or even DNF, as soon as it has happened there is nothing you can do about it. It’s in
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the past so now we make it a positive. Having a bad race isn’t a good thing when it’s happening but as soon as it has happened it’s more valuable and worthwhile than a good race, if you use it correctly. That makes sense, right? Common mistakes in ultrarunning would fill this whole magazine, let alone this page, so we’ll go through one that trumps all others. Runners – beginners and experienced – blame their training for how their race goes and, while it may dictate your potential on the day, it has very little to do with what percentage of that potential you hit on race day. What I mean there is that if you don’t train properly you may well be shit, but just how shit you are on race day comes down to how you manage a whole host of other factors: pacing, nutrition, hydration,
CRAWLEY 6, 12 & 24HR TRACK RACE I’ll admit it: 24hr racing is weird and, to a lesser extent, so are shorter timed distances on the track. The lessons they provide, especially in the mental approach to a point to point race are, however, invaluable. If you can motivate yourself to go forward when pace is inconsequential, your next race with a finish line will be easier on the mind. Plus, it’s part of our heritage – we’ve literally been doing this stuff for deades. Legendary Scotsman Don Ritchie ran an amazing sub-6 minute miles for 100K on the track in 1978 and still has the world record. Be more like Don. runultra.co.uk
© Mark Shearman
WIN OR LEARN
HIT THE TRAILS RUNNING WITH OUR SNEAK PEAK OF THE BEST NEW OFF-ROAD KIT
Mission Vaporactive Performance Compression Top 37.5® technology is the name of the game with this baselayer from Mission. Infused with permanent ‘active’ particles that rapidly attract and evaporate sweat, it does a fine job of keeping you cool and comfortable, whatever the intensity of your run. RRP: £35 missionathletecare.co.uk Ultimate Performance Ultimate Gloves The name suggests UP is confident these gloves are just about the best you can get, and they’re certainly not far off. Wind chill is completely non-existent thanks to the heat-insulating, wind-blocking fabric. But, unlike a lot of wind-resistant kit, the gloves are also nice and breathable, so hot, clammy hands aren’t an issue. RRP: £18.99 ultimate-performance.co.uk
Asics Fujitrail Hoodie Sometimes, it’s the little things that make all the difference and, in the case of the Fujitrail Hoodie, rubber shoulder grips on the shoulders – to hold your backpack securely in place – are innovative and incredibly useful. The jersey fabric blocks out any wind and, if you’re really cold, there’s a snug hood to keep the heat in. RRP: £58 asics.com/gb
SiS Immune Easy to take – just dissolve one of the tablets in water – and great-tasting, SiS Immune aims to support the immune system after intense exercise. With 200mg of vitamin C and 2.5mg of iron, it provides the right dose of vitamins to maintain immune function, without compromising training benefits. RRP: £6.99 scienceinsport.com/uk
Mountain Hardwear Fluid Race VestPack Low-profile and lightweight, this ‘vest pack’ from Mountain Hardwear is perfect for the travel-light ultrarunner. Essential gear fits in quick-access shoulder-strap pockets and the attached hydration sleeve can be accessed over the shoulder or from the lower pack. The shoulder straps are nice and wide so they don’t dig in at all, and inside the main compartment there’s a zipped pocket and key clip. RRP: £50 mountainhardwear.com
Ronhill Trail Cargo Short Always a popular bit of kit among road and trail runners alike, Ronhill’s Trail Cargo Short comes with four elasticated loops for easy, on-the-move access to energy gels. The shorts are lightweight (121g), comfortable – thanks to the inner Bamboo brief and Bonidex waistband – and come equipped with an expandable, zipped security pocket on the back. RRP: £35 ronhill.com
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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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9 10 JBL REFLECT MINI BT WIRELESS HEADPHONES RRP: £79.99 These are sweatproof and lighter than most headphones (they claim to be the “lightest and smallest”). Reflective cables aid visibility and a built-in mic enables phone calls mid-Mariah Carey. But it’s the basics these excel at. As well as excellent all-round sound quality, they’re very comfortable in the ears and stay there effortlessly, even when scampering along at a decent clip. uk.jbl.com
SUUNTO SPARTAN ULTRA ALL BLACK TITANIUM (HR) RRP: £599 Suunto already makes the best GPS sportswatches. But after tech titans such as Apple started producing fancy smartwatches, Suunto went and made the first, er, sportssmartwatch, the Spartan Ultra. So it must be good, right? Well… It’s certainly lighter, smaller, sleeker and more comfortable on the wrist. The colour touchscreen is attractive and mostly fun to play with (sport mode screens aren’t customisable – though this will change), but it lags and isn’t iPhone-level sensitivity (though you can simply use the buttons). A natty breadcrump map helps to get you out of topographical befuddlement and there are some neat additions to Movescount. But there are app-syncing and accuracy issues, with the recording of ascent, for example, over-optimistic compared to the brilliant Suunto Ambit3 Peak. A claimed 26 hours of GPS recording is borderline acceptable for a watch with the word Ultra in the name – most runners don’t get round UTMB that fast. Knowing Suunto, this will be a great watch at some point (wrist heart-rate monitoring is expected before Christmas), but it seems rushed to market. suunto.com
LIFESTRAW STEEL RRP: £43.50 For weekend running breaks, this amazing little water filter could save you from carrying loads of H20 or catching a vomiting bug. It’s chemical- and batteryfree, wand-size and light (160g), while the two-stage filtration system claims to remove 99.99% of bacteria. You just put the straw to lip and water, wait 15 seconds, sip, blow back, then sup away. Plus each purchase provides a year’s safe drinking water for an African child. It’s a win-win. lifestraw.com
5F RRP: FREE Created by a pilot saddened by seeing so many people ill from unhealthy lifestyles, 5F is a free iOS app that helps you “find fit friends” nearby. There are four skill levels, over 100 activities and you’re able to block and flag users if things get weird. Indeed, the hints that it’s actually a quasi-dating app continue in the marketing spiel: “It’s hard to get good matches on Tinder, connect through sports instead.” Either way, it’s an interesting app that has potential. app5f.com
Words Damian Hall
8 10 RUNNING MEDAL HOLDER RRP: £30.99 Sometimes, simply bragging about the amount of races you’ve run isn’t enough. People need to see the evidence. This stainless steel medal holder is 21cm in height and 43cm wide, with room for 25-30 medals – so it’s suitable for all but the most rapacious of racers. It also comes equipped with wall plugs and nails, so making your proudest running achievements plain for all to see takes no time at all. themedalhangershop.co.uk
8 10 RUNDERWEAR MERINO BRIEFS RRP: £25 Here’s the brief: these Runderwear undies are made with comfy Merino Wool that absorbs, stores and wicks moisture away from the body. The latest addition to the Runderwear range guarantees chafe-free comfort, while Thermocool technology maintains optimum temperature. OK, so £25 probably isn’t what you’d normally expect to spend on a pair of pants, but you won’t find a comfier pair. runderwear.co.uk
9 BEST 10
ON A BUDGET
STANCE FUSION RUN SOCKS RRP: £12 - £28 Stance is socking it to the typically unexciting world of running socks with its uniquely designed range. The sock pictured, the Bandit Too Crew, features a custom blend of moisture-wicking fibers to keep your feet cool and dry, while a network of mesh vents wraps from the top of the foot to the arch to further enhance breathability. There’s also a nice amound of cushioning in the heel to ensure blister-free running comfort. stance.com
TRIGGERPOINT GRID FOAM ROLLER RRP: £32.99 The go-to foam roller for the majority of runners, TriggerPoint’s Grid X is a premium product with a premium price-tag. The crosshatching ensures maximum agony – a good thing when it comes to foam rollers – and it’s also sweat-proof and easy to clean. Weight tested to support up to 250kg of load, you can safely put your full bodyweight on the Grid X and even use it to massage your back. Overall, a reliable, hard-wearing and essential piece of kit. chainreactioncycles.com
THE NORTH FACE THERMOBALL JACKET RRP: £145 Think high-quality winter sports jackets and the you probably think of The North Face. In the Thermoball – the latest addition to its long line of cold-defying kit – ‘synthetic down’ insulation makes wind chill a thing of the past. It’s also one of the comfiest jackets we’ve had the pleasure of testing, with an ‘active fit’ that hugs your torso and a cinch cord at the hem to lock in heat. Such is the efficiency of its heat-trapping, it’s best reserved for the coldest of runs. thenorthface.co.uk
OAKLEY RADAR PACE RRP: £400 When a watch and heart-rate monitor isn’t enough, where do you turn? To the eyes, of course! A tad much for the once-a-week parkrunner, but if it’s a constant stream of stats you’re after, set your sights on a pair of these. They offer an impressive array of data, including real-time performance-based feedback, an accelerometer and gyroscope, and stats relating to pressure, humidity and proximity – all via voice activation and a touchpad. uk.oakley.com
NORDIC TRACK C1650 RRP: £1,599 OK, Santa is going to have to be feeling particularly generous if you’re planning on receiving one of these for Christmas. But ’tis the season to be jolly (optimistic), so who knows? It certainly deserves its place on anyone’s wish-list, boasting a host of high-tech features such as a 10-inch touchscreen, fitness stats, adjustable cushioning, and Google Maps workouts from anywhere in the world. You’ll never want to venture outside again... nordictrack.co.uk
ON A BUDGET
ULTIMATE DIRECTION SJ ULTRA VEST 3.0 RRP: £95 An update on the best-selling running vest in the world, the SJ Ultra Vest 3.0 has been created in consultation with ultrarunner and plant-muncher Scott Jurek. It’s lightweight (273g with the two bottles), spacious and supremely comfortable. It also comes with two “cheat sticks” holders and phone-compatible pockets, too, and there’s a plethora of pockets for your homemade vegan snacks. Quite simply, a near-perfect pack. betaclimbingdesigns.com
UPPER 3-D Seamless Print Upper creates a foot-conforming, sock-like fit
STACK HEIGHT 16 mm (includes midsole and outsole)
ASICS NITROFUZE RRP: £65 The Nitrofuze isn’t going to set your running world alight, but it is both lightweight and durable enough to cope with a range of distances and intensities. The toe box is a little tight, so forefoot runners may want to think twice, but the upper in general is very comfy, with open mesh material providing a good amount of breathability. The midsole consists of Asics’ High Abrasion Rubber, which provides cushioning and durability, but does feel a little cumbersome when you’re trying to pick up the pace. asics.com/gb
REEBOK ZSTRIKE RUN SE RRP: £64.95 Marketed as a shoe “for distances of up to 5K and HIIT workouts”, the ZStrike is best suited to the forefoot runner. Flexible and wide in the forefoot, it feels good when moving at higher speeds, and it’s smart and understated in black (an electric blue version is available for those looking to turn more heads). However, your tester experienced a hotspot on the sole of the foot after five miles and, at 290g, it’s actually fairly heavy for a racing shoe. It’s a shame because, these criticisms aside, the ZStrike has the makings of a great shoe. As it is, it’s a near miss. reebok.co.uk
7 10 KALENJI KIPRUN TRAIL XT6 WATERPROOF RRP: £54.99 If there’s one thing guaranteed to grab a trail runner’s attention, it’s a set of seriously impressive lugs. Five millimetres thick and clearly built with slick mud in mind, the XT6 majors in grip. The rest of the design – with a relatively narrow fit, 10mm drop and moderate cushioning – is less extreme and closer to what you’d expect from a neutral shoe in this price range. The lace storage pocket is a nice touch, though. Nothing groundbreaking, but a good option for the muddy trail runner who cares more about a bargain buy than a brand. decathlon.co.uk
Testers Isaac Williams / Rick Pearson / Josh Puttock / Tim Major / Gareth Charles
PEARL IZUMI EM ROAD N 0 V2 RRP: £79.99 OK, so it’s almost £80, but in today’s world that’s still a relative bargain. This light offering from Pearl Izumi is a minimalist runner’s dream. At just 170g, it’s the ideal choice for shorter races and speedy tempo runs. But if you slow down a little, you’ll notice some welcomed, light cushioning, too. It’s only minimal, though, and doesn’t affect the shoe’s flexibility or responsiveness. Durability may be an issue, as the upper material doesn’t feel particularly hard-wearing, but there’s no doubt this a quality shoe that won’t break the bank. pearlizumi.co.uk
Running kit doesn’t seem destined to reduce in price any time soon, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t bargain buys still to be found. This issue, we’ve done a spot of bargain hunting ourselves. None of the shoes reviewed will break the bank, and hopefully one or two will convince you that quality needn’t be dependent on price.
TOE BOX Typically spacious to allow toes to splay naturally
OUTSOLE Combines outsole-grade EVA with blown rubber in forefoot for traction, durability and a lively feel
8 10 UA CHARGED RECKLESS RRP: £70 Arguably Under Armour’s most impressive running shoe to date, the Charged Reckless fits like a dream and, at £70, feels like a bit of a steal. The midsole offers a decent amount of cushioning in the heel, but it doesn’t detract from the lightweight feel of the shoe. Breathability is ensured with the knitted upper, which wraps around the foot nicely, and there’s plenty of room in the toe box to allow toes to splay naturally. One slight gripe is that the tongue is a little flimsy and moves around a bit, but it’s a small criticism for an otherwise top neutral trainer. underarmour.co.uk
6 10 KARRIMOR EXCEL 2 SUPPORT RRP: £45 The Karrimor Excel 2 Support can be seen as the lovechild of two more expensive shoes: the Hoka and the Nike Flynit. Combining the former’s maximal cushioning with the latter’s sock-like comfort, it’s a plush support shoe for those looking to run long on the roads. One of its more original features is the Karrimor ‘fit cage’ – not an actual cage, but a kind of ankle collar that keeps the foot locked in place. The result is a secure and comfortable ride, although there’s a bulkiness here that faster runners may find unappealing. sportsdirect.com
7 10 SAUCONY EXCURSION TR10 RRP: £76 Durability and traction are what the Excursion TR10 excels in. The outsole – made from XT-600 carbon rubber – makes light work of any terrain, while the knit mesh upper is built to last, but is also impressively breathable. However, much like its predecessor, the TR9, the shoe is undoubtedly stiff and heavy, meaning it’s more suited to long-distance plods than anything particularly quick. That said, if you’re after a hard-wearing, no-nonsense trail shoe, you could do a lot worse than the tank-like TR10. saucony.co.uk
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 mensrunninguk.co.uk for free training plans, nutritional tips, workouts and health info!
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INSIDE 92 AMSTERDAM MARATHON 94 GREAT SOUTH RUN 96 3366 ULTRA
Clockwise from here: runners set off from the Olympic Stadium; on your marks; race winner Daniel Wanjiru; the route takes in many of Amsterdam’s most iconic landmarks
Andrew Simms navigates the cobbled streets of Amsterdam for a marathon debut to remember
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DAM GOOD W
hy go to Amsterdam for a marathon? My first thought was flat, really flat, although there are a few gradients and a range of cobbles, kerbs and tramlines (all much-discussed but, I found, overstated obstacles). You can also get there by train, so you don’t have to burn the climate in order to burn some foot rubber. In troubled times for Europe, Amsterdam remains one of the continent’s most laid-back cities, and the Dutch are as friendly as a freshly opened tulip. Having sworn never to run marathons (an unnatural distance capable of doing more harm than good, coupled with what always seemed an overdose of forced bonhomie), I entered in a rush of enthusiasm after watching club mates run London. I had to have that experience. Photography TCS Amsterdam Marathon
The marathon starts and finishes in the beautiful, restored brick 1928 Olympic Stadium. Its architect, Jan Wils, founded an influential modernist movement called De Stijl (The Style), gloriously known as neoplasticism. Whether he would have considered the deluge of plastic associated with a mass, modern running event – bags, recovery blankets, shoes, merchandise – an appropriate lateflowering of his artistic ambitions we can only guess. Every training programme hits its rocks in the road, it’s just that with mine for Amsterdam it was literal. Returning from a track meeting at the start of my fourmonth run-in, my bike hit a lump of rock. The result: one arm broken, a wrist mangled and a couple of teeth missing. Training paused for three weeks. @mensrunninguk
DAM IN NUMBERS Number of runners: 12,193 Winner: Daniel Wanjiru, 2:05:20 Weather:
Terrain: Cost: £62 Verdict: ★★★★★★★★★★ tcsamsterdammarathon.nl/en But, never having run much longer than a half marathon, I crept up my mileage until feeling a bit Jonny Brownlee around the 21-mile mark, tapered, and made it to the startline.
Never having run further than 21 miles, I had a nasty suspicion it might all fall apart. I’d heard so many stories of crowding at the start of marathons, and the frustration of not being able to hit your stride early, that I was impressed by Amsterdam’s pinch-point: the simplest of devices of narrowing the beginning, so runners naturally fan out when they pass the start. In dream-like conditions you weave early through the Vondelpark, under the arches of the Rijksmuseum and out towards the towpath of the Amstel River.
Twice early on, the course doubles back on itself so you can stare with incredulity as the elite runners float passed, seemingly having found a cure for gravity. At some point along this stage, I experience the inevitable humiliation of being overtaken by a tall, young Dutch runner dressed in grass hula skirt and flower garland. I mentally reassure myself that, flamboyant as he seems, I’m giving him quite a few years and his costume isn’t really slowing him down. Staging a marathon in Amsterdam (alongside a children’s run, an 8K and a half marathon totalling some 45,000 runners) is a logistical feat. The Netherlands is Europe’s most densely populated country and the city is a labyrinth of canals, narrow streets and magnetic tourist attractions. But, apart
from the crush around the narrow stadium entrance immediately before the start, it’s handled mightily impressively. Back on the course, I approached the infamous last six miles with trepidation. But instead of a wall to run into, with great satisfaction I found myself gliding back passed the man in the hula skirt. The last two miles were, indeed, tortuous. My Garmin swore that I’d actually run nearly half a mile further than the official 26.2 miles. But the incredibly kind woman from the Red Cross saw my wobbling walk at the finish line and made me three cups of sweet tea (perhaps I acted out just a little bit, but the tea just kept coming). I’d set myself the simple target of running – and enjoying – the marathon distance in a beautiful place, at least once. And, thank you Amsterdam, you did it for me. January 2017 • mensrunninguk.co.uk 93
© Great Run / Solent News
A PERFECT 10 David Castle reports from Portsmouth’s iconic 10-miler, the Great South Run
f there’s one thing I always remember when I make my annual pilgrimage to complete Pompey’s finest, the Great South Run, it’s this: you can’t control the uncontrollables. You could turn up to the startline of any race in the form of your life and have the best-laid plans scuppered by things simply beyond your control. Unless you’re blessed with powers similar to X-Men character Storm, then chances are you’re not going to be able to ensure that all the elements are in your favour. This was the talk, once again, in the days leading up to the Great South Run, Europe’s biggest 10-mile race, which regularly attracts upwards of 20,000 runners all hoping to take advantage of the flat course. I was also praying that the South Coast winds wouldn’t rage. Anyone who ran the race two years ago will testify that the last two miles battling the head wind from Eastney to the finish was a race in itself. This year’s event once again doubled as the English 10 Mile Championships and, as a result, attracted arguably two
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of Britain’s best road runners at the moment in local boy Andy Vernon, and Chris Thompson, both former European 10,000m silver medalists. Meanwhile, the female field was headed by multiple World and Olympic medalist Turinesh Dibaba, testing herself over the course for the first time after a slightly disappointing outing at the Great North Run. Lining up in advance of the race – which this year was started by former international Alan Pascoe – the runners were treated to a lively warm-up, although many chose to give this rather embarrassing past-time a miss in favour of a final toilet stop or pre-race nutrition pick-me-up.
The elite women started 20 minutes infront of the main field, with the bulk of runners starting from 10.35, by which time the sun was shining over the Solent and the early-morning frostiness had disappeared to be replaced by blue skies – and a significant breeze coming in from the east. There’s no doubt that, fuelled by a mixture of crowd support and the flat course, the Great South Run has the potential to be PB territory. The first mile wends its way past Southsea funfair, before taking in the sights of historic
Portsmouth. The first few miles are always guaranteed to fly by as you’re buoyed along by the enthusiasm of your fellow runners. The telling point of any 10-mile race is six to eight miles: this year’s race was particularly telling as this was where the chilly easterly wind whipped up into what felt like gale force nine (but was probably only 20mph) and turned the two-mile stretch into a war of attrition. Even the elite runners floundered at this crucial point and fast times went out of the window as thousands battled the cruel headwind. And then it was into the last two miles: the glory stretch from Eastney to the finish. With the strong wind now behind them, runners picked up the pace in search of their respective goals. It was this point that Thompson picked up the pace and dropped his rivals, eventually finishing in 47:23, almost a minute ahead of fellow international Vernon. For the rest of us, it was about clawing back vital seconds to rescue a decent finishing time. Funneled through the finishing area, there were plenty of smiles as runners discussed their performances. Personal bests seemed thin on the ground, but most agreed that the Great South Run had delivered again. If only next year, the wind could be a little more forgiving. Fingers crossed.
Photography Great Run / Peter Langdown
GREAT SOUTH RUN
GSR IN NUMBERS Distance: 10 miles Number of runners: 20,000 Winner: Chris Thompson, 47:23 Weather:
Left to right: all smiles at the finish; no one ever did give him a cuddle; the route takes in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard; runners turn out in their thousands for ‘the world’s leading 10-mile running event’.
Cost: £41 Verdict: ★★★★★★★★★★ greatrun.org/south
January 2017 • mensrunninguk.co.uk 95
Full speed a-sled: brace yourself for the coldest, windiest ultra on the planet
WHAT IS IT?
Regarded by many as one of the toughest, coldest, windiest ultramarathons on the planet, the 6633 Ultra is a self-sufficient race of 120 or 350 miles. Competitors must pull sleds with all their provisions, including food, cooking items, clothing, sleeping kit and other safety gear.
WHY SHOULD I DO IT?
For the chance to run the coldest race on earth. To visit one of the world’s most remote places. To test your limits. You’ll go through some dark moments, but in the end you’ll achieve something very few people would even dream of attempting.
HOW TOUGH IS IT?
As if sub-zero temperatures and the mammoth distance weren’t enough, the route is also ‘undulating’ (a slightly optimistic term) – taking in vast gorges, 96 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
“DANGEROUSLY STRONG WINDS HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO BLOW ARCTIC LORRIES OVER” mountains and creeks. Moreover, at around the 50K point, runners tackle the affectionately known Hurricane Alley – so called because of the dangerously strong Katabatic winds, which have been known to blow Arctic lorries clean over.
WHERE IS IT?
Beginning at the Eagle Plains Hotel in The Yukon, northwest Canada, the 350-miler finishes in the remote town of Tuk.
WHEN IS IT?
HOW DO I ENTER ?
It’s too late for 2017, but to sign up for the 2018 race, head to the below website in May of next year. Space is limited to just 30 hardy entrants.
Friday 10 March 2017. Words Isaac Williams Photography 6633 Ultra
find your local running specialist Buckinghamshire Apex Sports 1 Prospect Court, The Broadway, Beaconsfield Road, Farnham Common, Buckinghamshire SL2 3QQ 01753 647339 www.apex-sports.co.uk 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 www.leicesterrunningshop.co.uk 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 www.peteblandsports.co.uk 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 email@example.com www.metrestomiles.co.uk 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 www.frankelfordsports.co.uk Run by runners for runners. Video gait analysis in-store. Kent The Running Outlet 54 Palace Street, Canterbury, Kent CT1 2DY // 01227 379998 www.therunningoutlet.co.uk 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 www.foot-traffic.co.uk 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 www.runnerscentre.com 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
London Kings Road Sporting Club 38-42 Kings Road, London SW3 4UD 020 7589 5418 // www.krsc.co.uk 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 www.runtolive.co.uk Specialist shop with video gait analysis and bra-fitting service. Sussex The Jog Shop 39B George Street, Brighton BN2 1RJ www.jogshop.co.uk 01273 675717 Warwickshire Coventry Runner 223 Burnaby Road, Radford, Coventry CV6 4AX // 024 7666 8498 www.coventryrunner.co.uk 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 www.smkrunning.co.uk Scotland Achilles Heel 593 Great Western Road, Glasgow G12 8HX 0141 342 5722 www.achillesheel.co.uk RunUrban Ltd 1035 Cathcart Road, Glasgow G42 9XJ Opening Times: Monday-Saturday 9.30am – 5.30pm Closed on Sunday // 0141 632 9638 www.runurban.co.uk 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 www.therunningshop.org.uk Personal service, gait analysis, mail order welcome. Somerset Running Bath 19 High Street, Bath BA1 5AJ 01225 462555 www.runningbath.co.uk The best footwear. The very best service. Staffordshire Bournesports 36-42 Church Street, Stoke-On-Trent, ST4 1DJ // 01782 410411 www.bournesports.com 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 // www.running-form.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org Video gait analysis, footwear, clothing, accessories, watches, HR monitors and GPS, rehab equipment, shop in-store or online, physiotherapy and sports injury clinic.
FOR MORE INFO, CONTACT CRISTINA LOPEZ
0208 996 5167 10/11/2016 13:33
Jim Old, fresh from a speedy outing, relishes the excitement of ‘finding the flow’
MAN DOWN! Floating upstream: Jim reflects on the joy of an unexpectedly quick run
here are days when the wind unexpectedly fills your sails. I wasn’t really hoping for much from the run. I had to squeeze it into a 90-minute slot between getting home from work and collecting my daughter from a school event. As I stood and shivered on my doorstep waiting for my watch to decide where it was, I fretted about the clothes I was wearing, my recent hamstring injury and whether I should go for a run at all. The watch beeped and blinked expectantly at me. I sighed, pressed the button and set off. If nothing else, a little run would scrub off some of the guilt from the massive chip-based cave-in that 98 mensrunninguk.co.uk • January 2017
had been the story of my somewhat excessive lunchtime. Within five minutes I was by the river yet still struggling to shake off the day. “Oh hello, you’re new,” I said to the sudden pain that had appeared on the inside of my left ankle. (Am I the only runner who talks to his niggles?)
I thought about using it as an excuse to turn round but instead I employed my usual strange-new-pain protocol and ignored it. I crossed the bridge and headed downstream on the quieter, tree-lined side of the river. Above me, the blue of a cloudless autumn sky was Photography istockphoto.com
fighting a losing battle with a bronzecoloured sunset. The long shadows of trees made barcodes on the sluggish surface of the Thames. As tarmac gave way to well-worn trail, I realised my shoulders were stiff and hunched; the legacy of a tense day at work and a hideous drive home. I straightened my back and dropped my arms so they dangled by my sides as I ran. I breathed more deeply than the gentle warm-up pace required and noted that the hamstring was fine, oh and so was the ankle. A lady on an ancient bicycle squeaked and jangled past me and I found myself trying to match her speed. This clearly made her nervous so I picked the pace up again and overtook her. It was a nice little burst of speed so I kept it up, the rattling of the old bike receding behind me. I was on familiar ground, my favourite local running route, and I didn’t have to pay too much attention to the rough ground. I began to notice the trees, how some were hanging onto their leaves, a boat on the river, a stately home on the other bank glowing tangerine in the early evening light. And yet I could go faster. I settled my breathing into a steady rhythm with the sound of my quickening footfall and tried to savour the moment, to appreciate this ability to run hard and keep going. Another runner appeared, a big, fit-looking bloke pounding down the narrow path towards me. We passed in an exhilarating whoosh of combined velocity, both caught for a split second in the other’s backdraught. I put on more speed. Could I maintain this new pace? I could – all the way to the next bridge where I dropped down to a jog, turned and headed back the way I’d come. But this was not a day for jogging and soon I was hammering it again. Halfway home I met the other runner, now on his return leg. This time we grinned as we passed; a fleeting moment of shared exuberance in the darkening dog-end of the day. @mensrunninguk
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