Weekend in London to watch World Championship Athletics

Quick update on my ankle injury … it is definitely getting better but I’m still not able to run. I’ve been on my bike and also Tim’s Elliptigo which is great fun. I did a short video which I put on my Facebook page.

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Over a year ago 6 friends from Kilbarchan decided to make a trip to London to watch the World Athletics. They decided to choose the final Saturday as it would feature Mo in the 5,000m and Usain Bolt in the 4 x 100m relay.

Grant, who organised the trip, then joined the Fire Brigade and sadly for him he was down to work this weekend so couldn’t go. He asked on our Facebook page did anyone want to take his place. Katrina saw it and said to me that I should go! What a star my wife is!

The six of us met at Glasgow airport on Saturday 12th August at 5.45am in time for our Ryanair flight to Stanstead. Once we arrived in London we caught the train and underground to our hotel Crowne Plaza in the Docklands.

We left our bags at the hotel and set off for the day. We took the Emirates Airline across the Thames and then had some lunch at the O2 Arena.

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After lunch we made our way to the Olympic Park as we were keen to have a wander around and soak in the atmosphere before going into the stadium for the evening session.

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We met up with our good friends Neal, Caroline and Harrison who were also down for the Athletics. We didn’t envy them taking a 14 month old active boy into the Athletics but at least they can tell him when he’s older that he watched the great Usain Bolt in his final race!

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Velodrone

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We went in to the stadium just after 5pm to find our seats and get ready for the action which was due to start at 5.30pm.

It was a great action packed programme ….

FullSizeRender 3We were in the cheap seats, in fact, we were at the very back on the bend before the start of the 100m. The view though was superb and I was pleased that we were at the end of the High Jump as the woman’s final was on which featured Katarina Johnson Thompson and Morgan Lake from GB.

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I love being at live events because you can choose what to watch. When you watch on TV you are directed by the editor but live you can watch anywhere in the stadium.

For example the High Jump finalists came out 40mins before their event started so I was really interesting to watch their preparation and practise before the event. Also in the 5,000m you had the whole field to watch not just the front of the race.

The next five hours just few by as there was so much to watch and enjoy.  The highlights were obviously the 5,000 with Mo Farah doing so well to finish 2nd in the end and the two spring relays with GB winning silver in the woman’s and a surprise gold in the men’s.

It was an amazing atmosphere and I’m so glad I was there to enjoy it.

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5,000m runners heading to the start

We left at 10.30pm and joined the crowds leaving the area. We were back at our hotel just before midnight … in time to watch the end of Match of the Day though I missed Everton’s win against Stoke! But don’t worry I watched the repeat show in the morning!

After the Football I went for a swim and used the cross trainer in the hotel spar. We met up at 10.30am and made our way to Buckingham Palace to watch the 20k walk.

The course is a 2k loop up down from Whitehall to Buckingham Palace which they walk 10 times. The 50k race which was on in the morning was 25 loops! Race walking is a strange discipline but the speeds these top walkers can move is amazing.

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We went for some lunch after watching the woman’s race and then got back in time to watch the end of the men’s race.

Once the race was finished we made our way to Stanstead Airport to catch our 7pm flight back to Glasgow with Ryanair.

Or that is what we hoped. To cut a long story short the flight was cancelled and after considering various options and waiting for some news from Ryanair we hired two cars from Europcar.

We found two other guys who were going to hired their own car which meant we had four in each car to share the cost! The car I was in drove straight home! We arrived in Glasgow at 6.30am. I had time to shower, have some breakfast and then head to work!

Despite the hassle of getting home we had a great weekend and certainly picked a great night to go to the Athletics with 3 medals for GB.

 

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Update on injury and withdrawal from Ring o’ Fire

We arrived home from Bali on Friday night after 4 flights! On Sunday Katrina travelled to Inverness to meet our new granddaughter Lyla who was born last Wednesday. Congratulations to Jo, Jono & Seth.

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I’m back to work this week and then will drive up on Friday to join them for the weekend. I can’t wait to give my granddaughter a cuddle! She looks lovely.

Last night I went to see Matt, physio, to get an update on the way forward with my tendon injury. We were both hoping that the pain would be a lot less by now but even though it is getting easier I can’t hop on my right foot without significant pain.

I was really hoping to be able to take part in the Ring o’ Fire 3 day ultra starting on 1st September but we both felt that my ankle isn’t going to clear up in time for the race.  I’m pretty gutted as I was really looking forward to taking part in this race.

I knew even before seeing Matt that this was the most sensible decision but it is still hard to accept! I really want to be running ultras for another ten years or more so it is important to look at the bigger picture.

I had wondered whether it would be good to take 6 months off and allow my body to really recover without the pressure of trying to start running too soon. I’ve been running ultras for over 10 years averaging over 2,000 miles a year so thought it might be good for the long term to have a break.

I asked Matt what he thought of that plan and basically he didn’t think it was a good idea! Matt felt that I would lose more than I would gain and make it a lot harder to build up again.

Matt encouraged me to try and use a cross trainer to keep my fitness up so I’m hoping to find one in the schools where I work. I’m also going to finally start some stretching!

The final ultra I had planned to run this year is the Glen Ogle 33 on Saturday 4th November so I’m going to aim for that one as my comeback race! I think this would make sense as it’s a shorter race.

Finally I made some videos of our holiday in Bali. If you like to watch them you can find them on my YouTube channel.

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Book Review – Marathon Woman

Marathon Woman Book Review
by Kathrine Switzer

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This autobiography was republished in 2017 to celebrate the 50th year of Kathrine Switzer’s run in the Boston Marathon when it was a men’s only race.

I was aware, like many others, of the basic facts of Kathrine’s story. How in 1967 she ran the Boston Marathon having entered under the name K. Switzer. The photos of the race director, Jock Semple, trying to pull her off the course are so familiar to most people who know anything about the marathon.

But that is basically all I knew! The book does an amazing job in filling in all the details of how Kathrine trained and built up to the race and all that she did to promote Woman’s running especially in campaigning to get it added as an Olympic event.

The book is so easy to read and page after page I found myself amazed that all this took place within my lifetime. I’m part of the ultra scene where it is just taken for granted that woman compete in races along men.

This year I helped support runners doing the Hardmoors 200 and there were a number of women who completed that race successfully. And that is only the tip of the distances that men and women are completing these days.

What I didn’t realise as well is that masters men were considered too old to compete in the marathon.

‘The Masters runners were important because their development are not dissimilar to the women’s, and we were very supportive of one another. We were pioneers in breaking down gender restrictions in running, and they were pioneers in breaking down barriers of aging.’ (page 182)

The book is divided into six sections ..

Part I: Base
The first five chapters tell Kathrine’s story of her childhood, family and love of running from an early age.

Part II: Build-Up
The next five chapters show how Kathrine trained and built up for the marathon. I wasn’t sure how she ended up on the start line before I read this book but now I do! She trained and trained hard and was well prepared to run the marathon distance.

Kathrine ran regularly with an experienced runner, Arnie, who passed on his many stories of running the Boston Marathon. In those days in the sixties it was a very small event made up largely of elite faster runners.

The chapters on the race itself were excellent and even though I knew she had finished it was riveting to follow her journey and all she had to go through to get to that finish line.

Plus once she had finished the media attention on her was enormous and how she dealt with that is again really interesting and insightful.

Part III: Sharpening
The rest of the book is Kathrine’s story for the next 50 years. I didn’t know any of this so it was fascinating to follow her story of her career both professionally as a sports journalist in a male dominated industry and her running as a runner and also as a race organiser.

Runners today, especially women and older men, have so much to thank Kathrine and others for. They worked hard and broke down so many barriers and obstacles so we can enjoy the events we take for granted.

Slowly but surely woman were allowed to run Marathons and other key races throughout America and the world.

Part IV: Warm-Up
Kathrine’s big goal was to see the Woman’s Marathon in the Olympics. This was her life’s goal really and the chapters in this part show just how hard she had to work to make it happen.

The key was her involvement with the Avon International Marathon who Kathrine worked for. They organised Woman’s races around the world which was a key factor in the Olympic committee allowing the Marathon into the Olypmics.

Part V: The Race
The key to it all was the Avon International London Marathon in 1980. This was a year before Chris Brasher organised the first official London Marathon.

Kathrine’s event was the first marathon around the streets of London which paved the way for Chris Brasher’s event but was absolutely key for seeing the Woman’s Marathon in the Olympics.

The Avon Marathon was the final event of a series of Marathon’s around the world so fulfilled the key criteria for the Olympics that a new sport had to be contested on three continents and twenty-five countries.

Part VI: Breakthrough
Kathrine and all those who campaigned with her were finally able to get approval for the Woman’s Marathon to be held in Los Angeles in 1984.

I remember that race well as Jean Benoit in her white cap ran off the front of the field and won convincingly against lots of stronger and faster runners. It was a great performance and showed that the event was here to stay.

The final chapter is a collection of other people who were involved in that 1967 Boston Marathon and helps to see the impact that Kathrine had that day and over the years that followed.

As you can tell I really enjoyed the book and would recommmend it to everyone who loves the Marathon!

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Summary of our third week in Bali

We continue to love our time in Bali. Here is a summary of week three. We spent four nights on Lembongan Island which is a 40 min boat ride away from Sanur. Emma & Yonas had never been to the island so it was a treat for them too.

Sunday 16th July
In the afternoon we spent a few hours in Ubud. Katrina and I went for another massage while Emma, Yonas & Noah wandered round the shops and had an ice cream.

We stopped off at our favourite juice shop on the way home. In the evening once Noah was tucked in bed we had a game of Settlers which Emma won!!

Monday 17th July
We were up at 6am and out the door having had breakfast and a shower for 7am. Our ferry to Lembongan wasn’t until 9am but Yonas needed to drop us off and then leave his car with his brother while we were away.

The ferry left on time and was fairly choppy on the way over to Lembongan. We had a bit of a wait for our hotel to send someone for us so in the end Yonas hired a bike and we got ourselves to Taos House which wasn’t too far away.

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The hotel was lovely with big clean rooms and an excellent pool.

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After we had settled in and had a swim Katrina and I walked down to Dream beach which was about a 15min walk. Emma, Yonas & Noad came down by bike a bit later.

Dream beach is a lovely spot with very strong waves crashing into the beach. Yonas and I braved the waves and it was great fun.

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We had a lovely meal out and once Noah was settled in bed played a game of Rummy which Yonas won convincingly.

Tuesday 18th July
We hired scooters for the day and spent the morning exploring the island. It isn’t that big so it only takes 20mins to drive from one end to the other. We ended up at Mushroom beach where we had some lunch and went for a swim.

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While Noah slept Katrina & I went back to Mangrove Beach at the top end of the island and went for a boat tour of the Mangrove swamp. It was so peaceful and relaxing and cool as the trees provided a shade from the sun.

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When Noah woke up we returned to Dream beach for a play in the sand and another swim. For our evening meal Katrina & I made use of the bike and went back over the yellow bridge and found a lovely resteraunt over looking the sea.

Wednesday 19th July
I fancied doing a snorkeling trip but as no-one else was keen I went on my own. I joined about 12 other tourists and we visited 3 sites over the next 3 hours. Each site was slightly different and we saw lots of amazing fish and coral. I’m really glad I went.

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Plus the route took us right around the island by speed boat so it was interesting to see the island from the sea. There is quite a hill in the middle. As we didn’t have the bikes today we wanted down to Mushroom Beach for lunch and then Emma & I hired stand up Paddle boards for an hour.

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It was great fun and once we got our balance we did quite well! I found I was okay when it was fairly calm but each time a speed boat went out and created some waves I was back in the water. At least it is lovely and warm!!

As it was Yonas’ birthday we volunteered to look after Noah for the night so they could go out for a meal on their own to celebrate. We had great fun looking after Noah. We are really enjoying getting to know him. He is such a character and so easy going.

Thursday 20th July
We hired bikes again for the day and explored some places that we didn’t go to on Tuesday.

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We stopped off at a viewing point which looked out to the larger Penida island. I was also able to see the coves where I did my snorkelling.

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Our favourite spot was Secret beach which was a lovely secluded beach with a hotel and swimming pool.

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If you want somewhere quiet and out of the way then I would recommend this location!

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In their afternoon we had a relaxing time at the hotel. Noah & I had great fun in the pool. For our final meal on the island we went to L.Good resteraunt. They did a lovely BBQ with a help yourself salad bar so we definitely got value for money! Yonas & I had the Pork ribs which were excellent.

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Friday 21st July
We spent the morning in the hotel before checking out and catching the 11am ferry back to Sanur. This one was a lot faster and we were back over on the mainland in 25 mins!

We had a such a great time on Lembongan. It felt like a holiday within a holiday! It the vending we had another game of Rummy which I’m glad to report I won!

Saturday 22nd July
Yonas had a driving job this morning so we are having a slower day at home. We are going out for lunch once Yonas gets back. I’ve been following closely the Tour de France and the Open Golf via podcasts and the various websites. There are some great clips on YouTube as well so I’m keeping up to date with various sporting events!

Today is the ultra in Bali that I was hoping to do! I still feel disappointed that I’m not able to run it but hopefully one year when we visit I’ll be able to do it!

My ankle is still sore but it is feeling better. I go through days when I think I’ll definitely be able to run the Run O’ Fire in September and then other days I think there is no way it will be ready. I’ve arranged to see Matt (Physio) again when I get home so between us we should have a better idea.

The highlight of our final week in Bali is out planned hike up Mt Agung. It is over 10,000 high and looks incredible. We could see it from Lembongan.

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It is a two hour drive from here to the point where we will meet our guide at 11pm. It is a 6 hour walk to the top. The plan is to arrive as the sun rises which I’m told is an incredible sight. We then walk back down.

Katrina is a bit nervous about it but she’ll be fine!! Yonas is also going to come and he is also worried about whether he will make it to the top. Report to come!!

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Summary of our second week in Bali

We continue to really enjoy our holiday in Bali visiting Emma, Yonas and Noah. Here is a summary of our second week.

Sunday 9th July
In the afternoon we drove to Kuta to attend the Hillsong Church. It was a long drive as the traffic was pretty busy. We had a drink before the service. It was good to visit and a guy John, from Australia, spoke on Jacob and was really good.

The journey back was also quite long so I don’t think Emma & Yonas will be doing that every week!

Monday 10th July
We had to return the bikes to Ubud today so I cycled the 15miles while Katrina’s bike went in the car. Katrina’s seat and set up meant it wasn’t very easy to ride so that was the best option.

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I went a slightly different route which past lots of different shops selling kites and wood sculptures. It was really interesting.

I met up with the rest of the family in Ubud and we went off for a lovely lunch. We do like Ubud! There are lots of really interesting shops and lots of people wandering around.

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Tuesday 11th July
In the morning after playing with Noah I wrote my book review on ‘The Running Revolution’ for my blog. I will do one on Steve Birkinshaw’s book soon. I’m reading ‘Marathon Woman’ by Kathy Switzer which is excellent. Again book review to come!

Yonas’ brother works in a lovely hotel in Sanur so he was able to book us into a deluxe room for two nights which gives us the chance to have a few days on our own and Emma to have a break!

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Emma & Noah came with us to the hotel and we all enjoyed a swim in the hotel pool before having a wander down to the beach and some food before they headed home and we retired to our hotel.

Wednesday 12th July
Hollie’s 25th birthday! Yet another year when we are not with her. I’ve lost count of the number of different countries she has celebrated her birthday. This year she is in Ruwanda where she is part of an group of teachers who have gone to support local teachers. It sounds as though she is having a great time!

After our superb hotel breakfast we hired a coulple of bikes for the day and went for a ride down the length of Sanur beach which was good fun.

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I found a guy who was hiring Windsurfers so I took one out for an hour. I used to windsurf fairly regularly before I met Katrina which is over 30 years ago! It took me a few minutes to get going but once I did I was away and loved it. There was a constant wind and plenty to get a good speed up.

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We then went for lunch at the Bread Basket which was Hollie’s favourite place to eat when she visited in Easter. So we have a sandwich to celebrate her birthday!

After lunch we went to Hardys store which is a famous shop in Sanur which seeks everything. As we walked in this guy offered us a couple of scratch card type things. We opened them to discover that I had won 2 t-shirts and vouchers for 200,000 (about £12). When Katrina opened hers she had won the star prize. Either a 7 day hotel in a Karma Hotel or a GoPro Camera or 2,000,000 in cash (£120).

We were excited. Well I was hoping that it was the GoPro!! To collect out prize we had to go to the hotel which seemed fair enough. Before we knew what was happening we were in a taxi heading to the hotel.

I assumed it was the one in Sanur but no it was about 30mins away! On the way there I did have second thoughts thinking that this could be a trap and we were about to be kidnapped!

It was nothing as sinister as that but just before we arrived the agent said that to get our prize we would have to talk to another agent for an hour about becoming members of the Karma group!!

Now we understood what this was about but in for a penny! Our representative Frank turned out to be a really nice guy from Glasgow in his 60’s . He realised pretty soon that we had no intention of becoming members so we chatted for the regulation hour before she was able to let us go!

The prize Katrina won was a 7 day holiday in one of 5 resorts. One of them is in Germany so we are going to look into that one and if we can find some reasonable flights we might use it! I was disappointed it wasn’t the GoPro!!

We had a taxi back to Hardys where we had left our bikes. We spent the vouchers and continued on our way. So a three hour excursion which was actually quite fu in the end and gave us a glimpse of the luxury some people enjoy on holiday! All the hotels are 5 star and very posh!!

In the evening we had a lovely meal on the beach before heading back to our hotel to watch another episode of Designated Survivor and follow Murray’s quarter final game on my phone. It was sad to see he lost in five sets but it sounded as though his hip injury flared up again.

Thursday 13th July
We spent a relaxing morning at the hotel reading and having a swim. He hcecked out at 12pm and hired bikes again for the day. This time I got one with a child’s seat as we were going to meet the rest of their family later.

We enjoyed a ride along the beach and then met Emma, Yonas & Noah at the Bread Basket for lunch. After lunch Katrina & I took Noah for a bike ride. Noah loved it and was busy chatting away and pointing at lots of things, especially dogs, as we cycled along the beach.

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We met up again with Emma & Yonas and then they went off to meet their American friends Brad & Jana. We joined them for a meal and then headed home.

Friday 14th July
Katrina & I had booked in to do the Green School tour. It lasted just over an hour and it was so good to be able to see where Emma will be teaching. It is an amazing school with a very interesting educational outlook as well and some amazing bamboo architecture.

I did a video of our visit with more photos which again I’ll upload when I can.

It was fun to think that Noah will be going to this school as well. They have a pre-kindergarten so he’ll be able to start that when he is 3.

We spent the rest of their day relaxing at home but we did have an afternoon outing to our favourite juice cafe.

In the evening we played our card game and then had a FaceTime chat with Jo who is staying at our house in Paisley. Jono is building new cupboards for us and they are looking great!

Saturday 15th July
Yonas is taking Brad & Jana to the airport so we are having an easy morning. I wrote up my book review of Steve Birkinshaw’s book while listening to podcasts from Le Tour de France, Wimbledon and the Test March against South Africa.

In the afternoon Emma & Yonas took us on a trip to an amazing water. Tegenungan was about 30mins away and we had such a good time. I did a video of our trip which I’ll try and upload at some point but here are a few photos.

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Sunday 16th July
Our plan today is to have a relaxing morning while Noah sleeps and then have another trip to Ubud where Katrina & I plan to have another massage.

We continue to enjoy various games in the evening with our favourite being a rummy type card game. I’m also happy to report that I have won a few games!!

While we are away our son-in-law Jono has been busy building a new cupboard in our bedroom. It is looking great! Thanks Jono.

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There is no map in hell – book review

There is no map in hell
by Steve Birkinshaw

I first saw this book when I was supporting Andy & Sarah on their Hardmoors 200. My friend Peter Wilkie was reading it while he waited for his runner at Ravenscar checkpoint. I asked him what it was like and he said he was loving it and I would enjoy it.

A few days later the book arrived by post! Thanks Peter. I have been looking forward to reading it as I decided to save it for our holiday to Indonesia. I wasn’t quite sure about the title and having read the book I’m still not sure! But that is the only negative thing to say!

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For those who haven’t heard of Steve he is an elite fell/ultra runner who has won lots of top quality races including multi-stage races like Dragon’s Back.

The main part of the book is about his successful record of running all 214 Wainwrights in the Lake District. He ran faster than the record set by Jos Naylor in 1984. Steve ran it in 7 days and 1 hour.

The book is divided into four sections.

Part 1 I have always run
These chapters help to get to know Steve before he took on the Wainwright challenge. I knew a little about him but after reading these chapters I had a lot better understanding.

Steve has done all the main rounds in England, Scotland and Wales as well as winning the Lakeland 100 and Dragon’s Back. Plus he had a couple of goes at the Lake District 24hr record where he learnt a lot for the main challenge.

Part 2 Considering the challenge
Like all challenges of this nature there is so much preparation to do both physically and logistically and these chapters help the reader to get a glimpse into what goes into an attempt like this.

Steve has a full time job so all the training and preparation is done outside of work hours which makes it even more amazing.

Part 3 Taking on the Wainwrights
This is the heart of the book and each chapter is a day of the challenge. Steve writes in a very honest and at time matter of fact way about how he was feeling. Obviously there are going to be highs and lows and the chapters record those moments really well.

I was surprised that he had struggles almost from day 1 but how he overcame those and kept going makes compelling reading.

I would imagine the majority of us could never even run at his pace for one day let alone seven but the thing that encouraged me was that he goes through the same battles that I have but at a different pace!

There is so much to learn from the way he got through the tough times and was able to keep moving. From day 3 he was suffering from really bad blisters but was able to deal with them and keep on going to the end.

I also enjoyed the sections from those around him including his wife and kids, support runners and logistic team. It made me realise that this record attempt was far from certain right until the last day.

Part 4 The Aftermath
The final few chapters were about how he recovered from the challenge and he reflected on the achievement.

I really enjoyed the book and would fully recommend it to anyone who loves a challenge! We can all identify with Steve’s struggles even if we can’t quite grasp running that fast for that long!!

 

 

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The Running Revolution – book review

The Running Revolution
By Dr Nicholas Romanov with Kurt Brungardt

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I first came across the Pose Method of running as outlined by Dr Romanov over ten years ago when a former pupil from Hebron School, Peter McKnight, told me about it when we were out for a run.

At the time I was having some problems with my calves and thought it would be good to try a different way of running. I don’t think I went 100% with the method as it does take a lot of practice and effort but I did consciously try and land on my forefoot rather than heal striking and to lean forward rather than back.

Over the last ten years there have been a variety of books encouraging runners to try and find a more natural way to run rather than relying on lots of cushioning on the heal.

When I was sent a copy of Dr. Romanov’s latest book I was looking forward to reading it and seeing how his ideas have developed. This book with co written with Kurt Brungardt who has twenty years of writing about exercise.

The book is in four parts and is the sort of book that if you do it properly and to the letter will take you many weeks to work through. I have read it while on holiday so I’ve not done all the programme but I will aim to give you an idea of the content.

Part 1 Preparing for the Pose
In these seven chapters the authors outline the principles of the Pose Method of running. I found these chapters really helpful as it gives you the background to this way of running and how it works together.

They encourage runners to keep a journal and also how to video yourself so you can monitor improvement and progress. There is also a helpful chapter on choosing the right shoes to be able to practice the Pose Method of running.

Part 2 Ten Lessons
These ten lessons are the heart of the book and if followed carefully will help runners change their running style to one which is more natural and helps prevent injury according to the authors.

The ten lessons cover each of the main elements in the technique and build up lesson on lesson. Each chapter is carefully explained with lots of pictures and explanations and would be easy to follow.

As I mentioned I’ve not put these chapters into practice so I can’t say how easy/hard it would be to follow. I’m now 58 and have been running regularly since I was about 14 years old so I do wonder whether it’s too late for me to try and change how I run but having said that I have altered my style but maybe not to fully take in the Pose Method.

I’m injured at the moment with a sore Tibilais Posterior Tendon injury and I’m wondering whether it would be a good idea to do follow these chapters when I’m able to run again. My particular problem is that I have a bunion on my right foot which does alter how I land and push off which is my particular problem!

The technique encourages a forefront landing so maybe that would be helpful for me so watch this space!

Part 3 The Running Circuit
Going to the Next Level

This next section is a nine week transition period to help the runner move on. It is all about quality over quantity. There are chapters on becoming your own coach and various exercises to strengthen your core.

Part 4 Take it the limit

The final section of the book gives the runner various programmes for running a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Marathon.

Overall I found the book really helpful for someone who is looking to change their running style to the Pose Method of running. It will take a lot of discipline and time but would be well worth it.

I think there are various courses you can take and on line videos you can sign up for to help with the transition.

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