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How was your weekend running?

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

It’s never quite the things you expect to derail a training schedule that do so anyway. Anyone else been poorly? As always, share your triumphant PBs and injury woes below the line

Of all the things I half expect to derail a marathon training schedule – niggles or injuries, work/life balances issues, stitches, head not in the right place, etc, coming down with a nasty bug never seems to occur to me. Unfortunately that’s what happened to me last week, so while my weekend running has been fine, I did absolutely none last week. I haven’t taken that many days ‘off’ – if you can call lying listlessly and feverishly in bed watching box sets on the laptop ‘off’ – in years.

A few days on, I’ve regained the ability to run, but totally lost my voice. Not a problem for marathon training, though somewhat limiting my ability to parent (try telling a stubborn five year old to do something she doesn’t want to, without being able to do the “I really mean it now” voice …). I missed two hard mid-week runs, had to limit the length of my long run yesterday to 14 (should have been 19) but all in all, it’s probably not that bad a thing. At least my legs had a rest.

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Is it safe to take melatonin for jet lag?

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

The number of Americans taking the supplement has doubled in five years – but it is controversial and not available over the counter in the UK. So does it work?

Jet lag can be more than just an inconvenience for long-distance travellers. Arriving in a far-off destination where the time no longer matches your internal body clock can trigger insomnia, lethargy and reduced alertness. Which is hardly ideal if you are delivering an important presentation or trying to seal a big deal.

There is little surprise, then, that growing numbers of people are popping pills to counter the effects of jet lag. A government survey published last year found that 3.1 million Americans – 1.3% of the population – take melatonin supplements for jet lag and other sleep problems. Its use more than doubled in the US between 2007 and 2012.

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Dry January: the science behind a detox month – video

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

For many people the start of the year is a chance to recover from Christmas excess. But what are the benefits of an alcohol-free month?

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Picture of the day: a doorway to another world

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

The 2015 Marathon des Sables ladies champion Elisabet Barnes training in Lanzarote on a multi-day training camp. In February, Barnes will head to Costa Rica to take part in the 2017 Coastal Challenge, a multi-stage race that weaves in and out of the Talamancas along Costa Rica’s stunning coastline

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How was your weekend running?

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

Those of us on the marathon training cycle are starting to ramp up the distance on the long runs. Do you treat it as a battle or a practice? As always, come and share your weekend triumphs and woes below the line

I was thinking yesterday about language. Or rather terminology. If you hang out too much on social media, you’d be forgiven for thinking that no one ever just ‘does’ a long run. They smash it. They wallop it. They annihilate it. They downright get violent with it. But you know what they – we – are all actually doing? We’re being good boys and girls, and doing our homework: we’re practising.

It’s not exactly a social media friendly buzzword, recalling as it does tortuous attempts to master piano basics or your times tables. But really, that is basically what you are doing. Long runs – at least when you are half or full marathon training – are as much about practising fighting the voices in the head as they are increasing the endurance in the legs and lungs. You know you can run faster, so you practice running longer. You practice the bits when your head says give up, before you point out to it that actually your legs feel ok. You practice your mantras to block out those voices (for some reason, yesterday, my usual Steve Way-inspired ‘Don’t be shit’ was replaced by Dory’s ‘Just keep swimming’)

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Picture of the day: Britain’s most brutal race

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

The Montane Spine Race is a 268 mile non-stop challenge encompassing the entire Pennine Way. The 2017 race concluded for the frontrunners yesterday with victory for Tom Hollins from Britain. The cut off for runners is 168hrs – Hollins won in 99 hours and change – and was asleep minutes later. Carol Morgan was the first woman, annihilating the course record by a jaw-dropping 43 hours to finish in 109 hrs. Others are still out on the course – the cut off falls on Sunday at 8.35am.

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Can Nike’s two-hour marathon quest learn from Roger Bannister?

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

The first four-minute mile man was a runner-scientist, who made changes to the track and his shoes to achieve the feat. But the various two-hour marathon projects are doing their research in the lab and applying it to runners

When Ed Caesar, author of Two Hours, The Quest to Run the Impossible Marathon, wrote in Wired magazine that Nike’s new project to crack the time will be “the most significant moment for running since Roger Bannister’s first sub-four-minute mile in 1954”, my initial reaction was that it could not match the romance of Bannister’s record. Imagine if the biggest sportswear firm in the 1940s had created a downhill mile race won in 3:59. That celebrated image of Bannister falling exhausted and Christ-like into the arms of onlookers would surely not have the fame it does today.

Related: The two-hour marathon: who is it for?

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The long war of mini-Holland in Enfield

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

Disputes about the installation of cycle lanes on main roads through a north London suburb continue to rage

The best way to understand a vast metropolis is to explore it on foot, which is why I walked three southbound miles along the gently curving A105 from Enfield Town to Palmers Green during the morning travel peak. It is one of a matrix of main roads linking a constellation of small town centres in this part of suburban north London. Its route passes a weave of residential streets, the “set back” frontages of large interwar homes and intermittent parades of shops. There is a flow of motor vehicles, sometimes smooth, sometimes fast, sometimes slow. The carriageway is broad. It is also a bit of a battleground.

The root of the hostilities can be traced to March 2014, when Labour-run Enfield Council secured around £30m from Transport for London (TfL) to make the borough more conducive to cycling. Its bid for a big piece of Boris Johnson’s “mini-Holland” fund, created to encourage bicycle travel in Outer London, was distinctive for its emphasis on installing dedicated bike lanes on those very Enfield roads currently dominated by cars. The council’s plans, augmented with further funds, aren’t all about these segregated tracks – there will also be investment in quieter cycling routes. But, as Councillor Daniel Anderson, cabinet member for environment, puts it: “We don’t want to push cyclists down side streets. We need cycling to become a genuine direct alternative for making trips across the borough.”

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How was your weekend running?

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

Cross country, puddle-dodging or wading through snow – what did the weekend hold for you? As always come and share your weekend woes and triumphant PBs below the line

Another weekend, another outing to Croydon. This time the Surrey League XC for me – and another two laps of the muddy, err, delight that is Lloyd Park. Having been dreading it all week, and mentally making molehills into mountains, I was actually pleasantly surprised. The hills weren’t nearly as hilly as last week, the mud wasn’t really any muddier despite a week of rain and snow. Amazing how the mind can trick you – or perhaps, rather, I really must have been feeling under the weather last week. Saturday’s finish even bought a bit of a snow flurry, which perversely seems entirely right for a cross country race.

My new year’s resolution to do more strength and conditioning is also going well, thanks mostly to the TRX device in our attic. Many gyms now have them and I highly recommend if you have the opportunity to give it a go. For something that looks pretty innocuous, they really do give a full body workout, as my rather feeble shoulders and arms often tell me the next day. I need, though, to fetch the kettlebells in from the soggy garden to do some more weight-based work. So lets give the resolution a B-plus for now.

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Running on snow: the gear, the technique, the slipping over

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

Going off-piste in a ski resort ends in a stern lesson not to underestimate the environment – and that’s after seeking expert advice

If you live in a snowy part of the world, you probably already have a solution for running in the stuff. But for those of us who live in regions such as the south of England, where snow flurries are rare, it can be a little intimidating when we do find ourselves faced with a trundle across the lovely white blanket. Will I slip and fall? Will it be too hard, like running on sand? Should I just take the day off? Or the week off (depending on where you live)? Or stick to the gritted roads?

Some of you may be already filing this under #firstworldproblems, especially if I admit that I personally encountered this dilemma while on a skiing holiday in Katschberg, Austria. The lovely Falkensteiner resort where I stayed had a running machine in the gym, sure, but wouldn’t it be more fun and exciting to get out into the mountains. Did the snow really need to stop me?

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