Ultra-running: a little naivety goes a long way

I can hardly call myself a real ultra-runner, having only completed one two-day ultra and 100k in a local backyard ultra. I am certainly in no position to give anyone any advice on how to run an ultra marathon (unless it’s a stranger on the Internet who is looking for an advice from strangers on the Internet). Having said that, there is one piece of wisdom, or rather an observation, that I would like to share:

Naivety is the way to success!

A controversial statement, I know. But think about the best things you’ve ever achieved – about the things you’re the most proud of. For me it is moving to a country without speaking its language (twice), taking the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, smashing my first ever ultra and winning my first ever backyard ultra. All these achievements have two things in common: 1) they were bloody hard; 2) at the beginning, I didn’t have the slightest idea how hard they will actually be.

If I knew in advance about the difficulties I’ll have to endure, the pain and struggles I’ll have to push through, would I (would I really) go for it? Would I truly have the courage to jump right in at the deep end? Or, would I be simply served with a plethora of reasons why I should not even try…

I’m leaning towards the latter.

In all cases, I was well-prepared, but, at the same time, totally oblivious to the difficulties I’ll face. Sometimes the less one knows, the better. It gives one edge and courage. They don’t call it beginners “luck” for nothing.

Before my first ultra, I kept amusing my fellow runners saying silly things like: “How difficult can it be? You just run a little farther than usual, until you get to the finish.” And that’s exactly what I did. Before my first backyard ultra I naively kept saying: “It’s essentially very simple – I’ll carry on running until I’m the last one standing.” I was certain I was going to hold that trophy at the end – no matter what. You can call it naivety. Or, you can call it positive thinking or visualisation. Arguably, it’s a mix of both.

Either way, I could see myself running all the way to the finish line way before the event took place. I could feel my legs working, my muscles engaging when conquering hills, I could feel the sweat on my face and taste the endorphins taking my pain away. Every night, when I lay down to sleep, I envisaged myself running far and achieving something incredible. I could smell the success, the personal victory, and I knew that no obstacle would be too big to stop me.

Recently, I read an interesting column in the Trail Running magazine. It spoke about something called “functional imagery training”. Aparently, one can think their way into finishing an ultra! They compared runners who used “motivational interviewing” against runners who used “functional imagery training”. In the first group, four participants embarked on their ultra and two of them finished, while in the second group all seven runners started and six finished. Coincidence? Perhaps. Whenever I confidently claimed I was going to win a backyard ultra, usual reaction was a hesitant laugh. Well, who’s laughing now?

So before your next ultra try this: Forget the distance. 50 miles? 100K? It’s a tad far, true, but it’s not really that far, is it? One just needs to keep going, putting one foot in front the other, one step at a time, just like on every single training run. So how difficult can that really be, huh? Victory is just around the corner. All you need to do is close your eyes and imagine reaching for that trophy! I promise you, if you are naive enough and determined enough, your dreams will come true…

Brace yourself, but don’t pace yourself

I am known for starting races a bit too fast. I’m sure any guide to running or an experienced runner would advise you not to. It’s not a sensible thing to do. I get it. But hear me out.

First of all, ask yourself why do you actually run? If you run just to be fit, read no more. If you run for the adventure, for the hope of beating the former self and perhaps the person next to you, for the thrill of the unknown, and for the tiny possibility of achieving something you have not even dreamt of, then you might understand me.

Most of us will hardly become Olympic athletes (but who am I to limit your dreams) so achieving something that seems beyond our reach is our equivalent to setting a world record or snatching an Olympic medal – whether it is running further than ever before, or faster than you thought you could, or finishing first at your local parkrun (yes, I know it’s not a race).

So how does one achieve something seemingly unachievable? (I mean something unachievable to that individual, while perhaps totally normal for someone else.) Are boundaries pushed by following a plan to a tee? Are new horizons discovered by being careful? Are limits broken by being cautious and reserved? Never!

Let me tell you about my recent marathon and half marathon that took place only six days apart – that is a “mistake” no1. No one would advise you to race a half marathon six days after you raced a marathon. It’s madness. But what if you deep down know you are on form despite Mr Garmin telling you you should be resting? I ran a sub 3:30 marathon which was faster than I thought I could. And so I entered a half marathon the next weekend because I felt there is more in me. My first mile was 20 seconds faster than my half marathon PB pace. My head was saying “too fast”. So I slowed down a bit, and then the 2nd female and her “pack” overtook me. In that moment, I stopped looking at my watch and started following her like a donkey follows carrot. I decided I will be third female and no one will take that from me. And so I ran like mad, without looking back once, with my watch beeping splits some of which were stupidly fast. With every step, I felt like I am making a history – maybe not a general running history, but my own – and skipping over what I thought were my limits. I finished with a sprint just in case anyone felt like threating my position (although, as I later realised, the next female was good 3 minutes behind me). I couldn’t believe my eyes when I checked my watch and it was telling me I run 1:34:39 half marathon. The time I was aiming for was about 4 minutes slower.

And that’s why I start my races a bit too fast – because there is always a tiny possibility that I might just manage to maintain that pace and achieve something I did not dare to dreamt of. I smashed 3:28 marathon and 1:34 half because I did not pace myself and because I had the courage to epically fail. To be honest, in my case, failure is not that uncommon, but before each race I tell myself – whether I fail or succeed, either way it’ll be epic! Whether I crash or triumph, I always leave everything out there on the course.

So do carry on sensibly following your watch if that’s your style. But me, I will run with my heart, with no regrets, dizzy from the excitement that I can occasionally achieve something spectacular, or DNF trying. Either way it’ll be epic!

Running 101

Hello enthusiastic new runners! Here is a crash course in running. Everything you need to know:

  • Running gear

In principle, you don’t need any special gear to run. There is no running police to stop you jogging in your old gym trainers or barefoot (like some minimalistic runners do). The rule is that the more you run, the more running gear you’ll need. As I said, your old trainers will probably be sufficient when covering your first few kilometers per week, however, you wouldn’t want to run a marathon in them. Same applies to pretty much all items of clothing. Primark socks will do just fine if your weekly mileage is 10km. Expensive Under Armour socks and running gear snobbery can come later on…

  • Shoes

Having said that, if you were to invest in one piece of running gear, it should be shoes. But hold your horses before ordering those fancy Nikes from a dodgy seller on eBay! First of all, runners often get their running shoes half or a full size larger than their everyday shoes. It’s wise to do that if you want to keep your toenails. Secondly, you need to chose the right type of running shoe to prevent injury and keep running enjoyable. To do that, I’d recommend visiting a running shop and asking for an advice / a gait analysis. You won’t regret it.

  • Pace

You can measure your running pace either in minutes per kilometre, or minutes per mile. Miles or kilometres per hour is a speed measure for vehicles. You are not a car.

As a new runner, try not to worry about your pace too much. The important thing is that you shouldn’t all the time run as fast as you can. Let me repeat that – do not try for a personal record on every single run! Don’t! Speed should be reserved for fast days, intervals, races and similar. Most of the time, you should keep it chilled. Chilled pace means you can comfortably run and have a conversation at the same time.

  • Mileage

So how much shall I run per week? Well, there is no right answer to that question. The key is to build it up. You don’t want to jump from zero to 50km a week. Instead, gradually increase your mileage until you have a solid base. Some say that the increase in distance should not be more than 10%. I tend to disagree, but then again, I am sometimes guilty of being a running cowboy. The bottom line is – start low and make your way up to what feels beneficial and sustainable for you. The upper mileage limit is not created by an opinion of people on the Internet – it is created by your physical capabilities and time you can commit to running.

  • Races

You don’t need to be a pro athlete to enter running races (although don’t expect to be allowed into Olympics and championships just yet). With running becoming more and more popular, there is a pretty good chance that you’ll have a race within a driving distance every weekend. Normally, you register online, pay a fee and turn up on the day to run for a medal. The longer distance you choose to run, the more it’ll cost, but let’s say you can participate in a standard 5K race for around £20. Included in that price is normally a medal, your pain and suffering trying to achieve a personal best, water, a post-race snack, bag drop and (hopefully) accurately measured time of your run.

You can probably find some little local races that are considerably cheaper but your result may not be chip-timed or there may not be a medal. I personally refuse to race if there is no medal. #priorities

  • Marathon

Marathon is an actual distance. It measures 26.2 miles which is 42.2 km (or 42.195 if you like being precise). No one has ever run a “5K marathon”. Marathon is not an equivalent of a running race (or a fun run).

And yes, it is very far away.

  • PB

PB does not stand for peanut butter. It means personal best – the best time you have ever run that specific distance in. It is also called PR – personal record. It does not count as a PB if you pause your watch and catch a breath during the run (just saying). At the beginning of your running journey, every other run can easily be a PB – enjoy it while it lasts, but don’t kill yourself trying to maintain a PB strike because it is not possible.

  • Running clubs

You can join a local running club to help you train and get motivated. Running club membership is considerably cheaper than a gym membership. They organise joint training sessions, normally aimed at runners of all abilities, quite often local races and other challenges as well as social events. You can probably attend a trial session(s) to see if club running is your thing.

  • Injuries

It is important to recognise injuries from niggles. I am not going to lie, the beginning of your running journey might hurt while your body is getting used to this type of movement. If on your first ever 5K run, your knees or shins hurt, chances are you are not injured, but your body is just trying to figure out what’s this new type of activity about. On the other hand, continuously ignoring niggles can easily lead to an injury. The most important thing is to learn to understand own body, however cliché that may sound.

So that was more or less everything you need to know to get started… Actually, you don’t really need to know half of this stuff. As long as you know how to tie your shoe laces, you’re good to go. Just get out and get running!

Dear new runner…

Dear new runner,

So you have embarked on the mad but rewarding journey of running. Whether you are a shiny new runner, or someone who is rediscovering their passion for running, let me share a few words because it is only four years since I started running, so I remember all the emotions and motions as if it was yesterday.

First of all, a word of warning: You are at a serious risk of having your life hijacked by this sport. Actually, running is not just a sport, it is a lifestyle. I could warn you about all the expensive pairs of shoes you soon realise you “need”, and the ever-growing medal collection that will start taking over your living room to your family’s displeasure, but I willl not mention any of that. One thing I will mention is that running is NOT bad for your knees as you’ll hear over and over (and over) from non-runners.

Running is not just about the physical act of putting one foot in front of the other. It is a physical, mental and emotional challenge. One that will potentially transform yur life, your attitudes, your points of view and your perception of time and distance. Above all, running is a spiritual journey of a sort. It’s like a pilgrimage that carries on and on, never to be completed because there is no actual destination, and this time, however cliché that sounds, the journey is the destination.

Just like most of the time in life, you will have support and encouragement of others. Just this time, quite often the “others” will be strangers on the Internet and your running club members who will understand you and your struggles better than your own family will. That is okay. And quite often, despite all the support, you will be alone to search and find your own strength, battle through setbacks and experience feelings that only you as a runner understand.

So what I would like to say to you – believe in yourself and do not let anyone or anything discourage you. Running is an activity that is all about you and you can make it whatever you want it to be. You will and should do things your way. Because your way is the right way for you. (Unless you do all your runs at race pace and don’t foam roll, in which case your way is totally wrong 😉

And finally, you will be surprised how quickly all the things that now seem impossible will be within your reach. Then you’ll realise the real reason why we all do it – to achieve something we never thought we could. And this feeling, once tasted, is so addictive that it won’t ever let you go. So good luck and congratulations because you have just taken the first step on the journey to forever change your life.

Motivation to run: my three tips

I typically display (mildly annoying) enthusiasm for running. Motivation is my middle name. I am always excited to go for a run no matter the time of the day, the weather, the niggles… But believe it or not, recently, I’ve been struggling to motivate myself and far too many runs felt like a chore rather than a pleasure, which is scary for someone who takes pride in being a joy runner. Not sure if it’s the time of the year, the lack of sunshine, the fact that I have no immediate races to train for, the combination of all, or something entirely different, but every time I go for a run I genuinely struggle kicking my own butt outta door. Yesteday, I postponed my morning run to the afternoon, and am already dreading the upcoming club 5K time trial.

So, when all the “standard” motivational techniques fail, and/or you are the one who is normally the motivator, but now you are in a desperate need of some motivation, try my three “last resort” motivational steps:

  1. Force yourself

That’s right. Sod motivation. Just force yourself to do it. Say you “must” run because that’s what you do. It’s your duty. It’s your thing. Your life depends on it. If you stopped, you’d lose your identity, you’d lose yourself, you’d lose the confidence boost and the sense of achievement that you love so much. The fear of loss is a motivator strong enough to spring one into action.

  1. Bribe yourself

I’m a master of bribery. I found it’s an excellent way to make my 2 yr old coach comply. Just like I bribe my child, I bribe myself. Carrot is often more effective than a stick. I promised myself a hot bath with a glass of prosecco after my 10 mile run yesterday afternoon. So if running justifies afternoon lazing in bath and sipping bubbles, than running is what I want to do! Try whatever works for you. Pay yourself a pound for each mile ran – an excellent running shoes fund! Or promise yourself a slice of cake! Eating cake after a run is always better than eating dust and not running! Whatever works for you. Promise yourself the world as long as it gets you out of the door.

  1. Run because you can

What can be a better motivator to run than the fact you simply can. Every time I run, I think of all those who would love to run, but cannot, and of the time when I was and will not be able to run. I feel like I need to run because I owe it to them and most of all I owe it to my past and future self. Being able to run but not running, should be a criminal offence. If you were gifted with functioning legs, you need to use them for something better than getting from the sofa to the fridge (although that sometimes seems terribly far away). You ought to run, now, today, because you can, and because there is no guarantee that tomorrow you will be able to. But today, today, you’re fortunate enough you can, so get those running shoes on! Your future self will thank you.

Happy running 🏃‍♀️

New Balance 1080v10: the Cadillac of shoes

I might be a bit late to the party, but still – I have always been a NB 1080 fan. Last year, I went through four pairs of the previous version (v9), while patiently waiting for a decent discount on v10 (I do love a bargain!). So on 2nd January, I broke my New Year’s resolution to stop spending money on running gear and got myself a pair of NB 1080v10 for £95 which is an excellent price given the fact they still go for £135 on New Balance website.

I instantly fell in love with them as my (slightly embarassing) video debut documents. So why do I love them and what are their key characteristics worth noting?

  • They are ultra comfy

I swear they are the comfiest shoes I have ever run in. This is primarily due to two factors: Fresh Foam midsole really makes them ultra-cushioned, while the heel cup (called Ultra Heel) gives your heel a gentle hug. The Ultra Heel deserves a special mention because it was the element that I was the most unsure about, but once experiencing its comfort, it is the element that I appreciate the most and that really makes this shoe stand out amongst its competitors.

  • They come in different widths

Do you have wide feet? You are in luck! This shoe comes in different widths, so besides standard, you can get wide or extra wide fit (or even narrow fit for ladies). I have v9 in both standard and wide fit, so I went for standard fit in v10. The upper is really stretchy, so while I should have probably gone for wide fit, the standard fit does not bring me any discomfort whatsoever.

  • They are light

You will notice immediately that for a cushioned shoe the 1080v10 is surprisingly light. It makes a noticeable difference. While they don’t give you that spring and bounce racing shoes do, running in them feels somewhat effortless so they are perfect for those long easy run.

  • They seem fairly water resistant

I normally get my shoes soaking wet as soon as I get out of the door, but my 1080v10 seem to manage water really well. I intentionally ran through deep puddles and while they got wet inside, they never felt like I’m running with an entire pond in my shoes (which often is the case with other shoe types). Also, I just ran on snow and ice, and they had a very good grip which is an unexpected bonus because who wants to land on their backside. right?

  • The design

While they look good overall, the design is okay…just okay. I have absolutely nothing negative to say, it just feels like they lack a little bit of oomph, something that makes them extra special and memorable. (Arguably, the Ultra Heel is the one feature that stands out.) But since mine are already covered in mud, who am I to complain? 🙂

Finally, some specs:

Type: Neutral

Heel drop: 8mm

Surface: Road

Weight: 280g (M) / 238g (F)

My size UK 7.5 B (standard lady fit) was 258g. (I am very much tempted to start an investigation into what sizes is the weight data based on and whether this is standardised across shoe types and brands…)

Cushion: maximum, Fresh Foam midsole

Price: £135, but available cheaper on Amazon and websites like SportsShoes or Wiggle.

Overall verdict is that this shoe is a real mile-cruncher that keeps you going while making sure your feet are comfortable. (I tested them on recent a half marathon.) I will definitely run all my easy long runs in them and am confident that they can take one comfortably through a marathon.

Hmmm marathon….that reminds me I haven’t run one for a few months. *Starts planning a marathon route.*

Thanks for reading and pop your NB 1080v10 opinion in the comments below or let me know on Instagram!

So long, 2020

The next person who says they can’t wait for 2020 to be over will get slapped. (Worry not, I’ll sanitise my hands beforehand.) Now, in all seriousness, I am tired of hearing “I just wish this year was finished already”.

First of all, why would anyone wish away the time that was given to them? To me that is an insult to those who do not have such gift. Time of being alive is the most precious thing given to every single one of us over and over again, yet we all take it for granted and only when we are at the end of the road, we realise that there wasn’t enough of it to do all we wanted. We have to stop wishing time away and start appreciating every second of it, whether it is a second of joy or sadness or pain, because quite often, pain is better than no feelings and no sensations whatsoever.

This September I did a 10K race at Dorney Lake. Initially, I was really excited about it, because it was my first race since lockdown and also my first 10K race this year. It didn’t go well. (I was on a second course of antibiotics and only just getting to back normal after a minor running injury.) The race was extremely painful and felt incredibly difficult, and the result was so disappointing I cried at the finish line. Still, it was a positive experience of a sort, because as I was running (and suffering), I thought of all the people who couldn’t run; all the people who consider conquering 10K a lifetime achievement, no matter the pace; all the people who would love to experience my pain because it is nothing compared to the pain they are feeling… So if this race was 2020, I can put my hand on my heart and say that, although it was crappy, I gave it my all, achieved the best I could given the circumstances, and grew a little stronger and wiser.

I appreciate that everyone’s 2020 represented different challenges and pitfalls. I have to admit that introverts like myself found social distancing and restrictions much more manageable than extraverts. (No social functions to attend, yay!) Although I cope quite well with not seeing my friends and family, I am still heartbroken after leaving a job and company I loved. So yes, everyone had different challenges to overcome, but the bottom line is, sitting around and dying for 2020 to end is no productive use of one’s life.

Also, why do people think that 2021 will be any better than 2020? We have absolutely no guarantee of that. It can be just as, or even more horrendous than 2020. (And there is a pretty good chance that it will.) But what if 2021 is our opportunity to stop waiting for good things to happen and for the world to return to its old self. We cannot just sit around and wait for outside conditions to be favourable in order to start living.

Frodo (sitting in a dark cold tunnel of Moria, probably hungry, with no spare clothest and all sorts of nasty creatures trying to track him down to kill him) said: “I wish none of this had happened.” Gandalf’s reply was: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

So while we might not have the power to change the current circumstances, what we have is the ability (a gift and an obligation) to decide how we spend our time.

Let’s stop wishing the world was different. Instead, let’s search for that silver lining and make the crapmost of the current circumstances regardless of what they are. Use that time. Achieve something. Make yourself proud. Inspire others. Be thankful no matter what. And by doing all that, you will play your own little (but important) part in changing this world and making 2021 better for yourself, for those close to you, for everyone.

So long 2020 and happy 2021!

Christmas gift ideas for runners

Only 10 days till Christmas! And you do not yet have a present for that special runner in your life!! Don’t panic. Get your heart rate back down from the tempo zone. The Runnerd is here to save the day. Actually, if I’m being honest, runners are easy folk to shop for. Here we go:

  • Carbs

Buy them carbs. They need carbs. Carbs are great. How about Christmas themed pasta to help you get into the festive spirit? And someone should seriously start making running shoes shaped pasta. Or medal shaped pasta. In the worst case scenario, pop to your local supermarket, buy alphabet pasta and remove all letters except P’s and B’s. To spell PB. Obviously.

  • Protein shakes

Carbs are covered, so we can now move onto protein. Protein shakes and recovery shakes are always needed. Stay away from boring vanilla and strawberry. There is a whole protein shake world out there with indulgent flavours like cookie dough, blueberry cheesecake and salted caramel. And vegan options are available!

Edit: Although I already have salted caramel protein powder arriving tomorrow, I didn’t resist and just bought the cookie dough one. Please stop me shopping!

  • Running clothes

No runner ever has enough of running clothes. Socks. Gloves. Base layer for cold days. Tops. Vests. Hats. Buffs (to double as a face mask in case of an unexpected need to stop in Starbucks). Shorts and leggings. Christmas themed leggings are popular this year. (I’m trying to resist the urge to buy a pair for myself.)

  • Anything fluorescent and reflective

Dark, long nights and grey days require bright and fluorescent gear. Runners L-O-V-E bright colours. Hi-viz vests always come in handy. Or head and body torches for the truly hardcore runners who are courageous enough to go out and conquer the darkness.

But do not feel limited by the obvious fluorescent choices. How about fluorescent underwear or perhaps fluorescent nail polish?

  • Free Train vest

This handy running vest holds your phone, keys, bank card, and I manage to shove a gel in as well. It’s way less obtrusive than running belts and arm bands. I personally love it.

  • Personalised medal holder

You can never go wrong with anything personalised and a personalised medal holder is one of the coolest presents ever. Just make sure you hurry up ordering it, because personalised items generally take longer to deliver.

  • Strava Summit subscription

Did you know that when you give someone Strava Summit subscription, you will receive two months of Strava Summit for yourself? Plus, you can choose the date when the subscription is delivered (via email), so the surprise won’t be spoiled before Christmas Day.

  • Garmin Running Dynamics Pod

The pod is an excellent gift for the stats obsessed Garmin user. It accurately provides six different running metrics such as cadence and ground contact time. It’s super light and unobtrusive (unlike a chest strap).

  • Books about running

Yes, books about running, because what else would runners do on their rest days than read and think about running? My personal favourite is Lonely Planet’s Epic Runs of the World. It will be a hit with the adventurous runner who loves to travel. Also, the book is a hardcover with lovely high-grammage pages and stunning colourful photos so it has a luxury feel to it.

Okay guys, so hopefully this gives you some ideas. The list of Christmas gift ideas for runners can really be endless, but I got to go now because my other running half is just coming back from a 5K time trial in his brand new carbon-plated shoes. Oh, speaking of supershoes – those would be the ultimate gift for any runner if you have a couple hundred(ish) pounds spare. 🙂 Happy shopping!

Welcome to Lockdown 2.0

It’s fair to point out that this lockdown is little less lockdowny that the previous lockdown. Apart from toilet rolls availability (yay!), the main difference is that schools are staying open so the joy of getting stuck in school run traffic is here to remain. Also this time, we know what to expect which isn’t necessarily a good thing. The financial impact aside, just like last time, the more extraverted you are, the more you are likely to suffer in the next four weeks. Socialising in pubs and cafes with friends? Forget it. Going out for a meal? Dream on! (Ahhh, remember the good times of Eat Out to Help Out scheme?) Non-essential shopping therapy? Not a chance.

For me as a busy parent and an introvert, very little has changed, but I know many people who struggle greatly with the idea of being limited by the lockdown rules for another four weeks (minimum).

Given the change of season and cold weather, it is going be so easy to give in to self-pity, TV, booze and take-outs. Besides, we have cleaned, reorganised and decorated every inch of the house during the previous lockdown, so what’s left to do other than binge watch Netflix and try to survive until the pubs open again, right?

But how about living, rather than surviving? I mean, you have nearly a month of “solitude” so why not emerge on the other end as your better self, rather than someone who earned a million Pizza Hut loyalty points and is a Tiger King expert (is that show still a thing?). This is your chance to surprise the world and exit the lockdown smarter/faster/stronger/leaner/healthier…

Let’s be realistic – it would be extremely difficult to get a six pack in four weeks, but you can start creating positive habits that will continue when lockdown is over. Go for a walk or a run (and bring a friend along because Boris allowed you to), do that online course, start cooking healthy (no, no more banana loaf!), meditate, embark on a push-up challenge…do whatever it is you always wanted to do. Because just surviving is not good enough. So many people would love to have more time in the world and they don’t. You do. So don’t you dare insulting them with this “just surviving” nonsense. Time is precious. So whatever it is you always wanted to do – start now! As in N-O-W. Chop chop!

I ran 11 miles today so if you excuse me, I shall put my feet up and enjoy my well-deserved Friday feeling. Looking forward to hearing all about your lockdown activities and if you need a kick in the bumbum, I’m here to help (=annoy you) as always! 😀 😎

Running Miles: socially distanced races since before Covid

⬆️ Sounds like an exaggeration, but it is true.

I just had the pleasure of running “Don’t Stop Me (Running) Now” marathon by Running Miles. Technically, it was a 6 hours challenge but only a real nutter would run more than a marathon!

So back to my statement above. I have previously done a few events by Running Miles and let me tell you – the pre-Corona ones felt very much the same as the Covid-compliant race today. Why?

  • Limited entries

Running Miles have always taken pride in organising small and friendly events (West London, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire). I believe the entries are limited to 50 participants. So it is very easy to remain socially distant. A huge ✅ for Covid compliance.

Fairly quiet for a marathon finish area
  • 6 hours challenge

Every event accomodates runners doing anything from a few miles to an ultra, which means they will all run at different paces and finish at different times thorough the day. So there are no crowds gathering at the finish line.

  • Laps

All events consist of multiple laps of the same course. That essentially allows you to leave your belongings and refreshments in the pit stop area near the finish/start and refresh yourself as you go instead of fighting for a cup of water at a crowded water station. Having said that, if you run out of refreshments (or crave coke after mile 17), the organisers are always happy to provide you with drinks top ups and snacks.

So yeah, I am not lying when I say that Running Miles have always been Covid-compliant! There were a few minor differences compared to pre-Covid events:

  • No pre-race briefing. Instructions were sent in an email before the race.
  • Staggered starts – start whenever you want approach. Loved it.
  • Handsanitisers and wipes in the start/finish area.
  • Changing facilities were shut, but the toilets were open so one could change in the (clean!) toilet if necessary.
  • Finishers ordered their post-race treats (goody bag) from a “menu” instead of grabbing countless (uhm 6) chocolate bars from a goody table. I can live with that.

What has not changed in the slightest was the great support and friendly atmosphere that I have not experienced at any other race. The organisers were lovely as usual and even remembered my past PB. It was awesome to see familiar faces of some running legends while meeting new future running legends. Thanks Running Miles!

Oh, and I’d almost forgot – I ran a massive marathon PB of 3:55:50 (25 minutes off my previous PB this January). Finally a race that went well for me (Running Miles magic perhaps?). Happy!!!