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The quick, the dead and the nervous

Nov 2nd, 2017 by

Running tours through the secret haunts of London keep locals and out-of-towners alike on their toes this Halloween

It’s a misty Tuesday evening in late October and I have exchanged the usual track session with my club for a run with another, quite bizarre group. My heart is thumping hard, not just through exertion but because I’ve had the bejesus scared out of me by a spectre in medieval dress topped off by distinctly porcine features.

“Waaaah! It’s the pig-headed woman of Primrose Hill!” screams Lucy, and we all leg it. The creepy apparition melts into the pitch darkness and our unexpected sprint slows into an easy jog. We giggle, nervously.

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How was your weekend running?

Nov 2nd, 2017 by

Come and share your weekend tales of running glory, nursing niggles or getting covered in cross country mud as always

Today I’m going to start with some running top tips for you, from your expert running blog editor. Firstly, never postpone your Sunday long run until after a birthday party: it won’t happen. Secondly, when instead running this long run on a Monday morning, remember to get on the tube going the right way. Thirdly, if you do get the one the wrong way, try to notice before you’ve rattled past five stops. Yup, Monday is going well so far. Is it bedtime yet?

So, it was a bit of a hectic weekend, but with rather little actual running for me. On Saturday I took part in the Surrey Masters cross-country championships (don’t click on that link if you prefer your websites to have been designed in the last twenty years, by the way) in Richmond Park. Despite a fairly low turnout from our team, we managed to finish second overall in our age group (‘ancient but not as ancient as some’, as I believe it’s official known) and win silver medals. My lack of enthusiasm for cross country has been noted on this blog before, but at least the Richmond Park course involved very little mud, albeit quite a lot of hill and wind.

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‘A world where a 12-year-old can cycle safely’ is the aim, but minister expects others to deliver

Nov 2nd, 2017 by

Jesse Norman wants to make cycling safer, but sees local authorities and charities like Sustran as key facilitators, not government

Jesse Norman, the transport minister whose brief includes cycling, has only been in the job for six months but has already prompted controversy by insisting that cyclists follow the Highway Code, something criticised here on the Bike Blog.

In his office at the Department for Transport in Westminster, he comes across as affable and open – and talks the talk when it comes to bikes for transport.

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Ultrarunner Zach Miller: ‘I love digging in the pain cave’

Nov 2nd, 2017 by

In the world of ultrarunning, he is a cult figure, winning his very first race in record time and charging towards the finish line while others jog. What’s his rush?

Zach Miller is stirring porridge on top of a wood-burning stove. Outside, snow lies on the ground surrounding his log cabin. We’re halfway up Pikes Peak, a 14,115ft mountain in the Colorado Rockies. The front door opens and a runner steps in, a man in his 50s, red-faced from the effort of getting up the mountain. Through the door, the early morning sun flashes off the frozen forest. “I can’t believe you’re here,” the man says, beaming at Miller. “You inspired me to run, man.”

Miller, 29, is something of a cult figure in the world of ultrarunning – long-distance races of any length beyond a marathon, often 100 miles or more. I first heard about him last year, when he was tearing away at the front of the world’s most competitive ultra race, the 105-mile UTMB in France. He finished sixth, but for me, along with many others, the most memorable thing about the race was Miller’s swashbuckling attempt to destroy the field from the start. The accepted wisdom is that it’s best to start off steady and conserve energy: if you go charging off like a startled horse, you’re usually in for trouble. But Miller ran without fear, constantly pushing the pace, and buckling only at mile 92, when he finally surrendered the lead.

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How was your weekend running?

Nov 2nd, 2017 by

Big race weekend, still building up or recovering – what did the weekend hold for you? Come share your stories below the line as always

One of my favourite autumn races took place yesterday – the Cabbage Patch 10 miler. I can’t say I did it much justice on very weary post-marathon legs, but as always it was a great run, through Twickenham, Ham and Richmond, along the river and past some rather bemused dog walkers and startling innocent bystanders. Usually, by mid-October, there is a slight snap in the air, and a warm up top clutched until just before the start. This year it was more like summer – I might not have been racing it, but after about two miles I was feeling like I’d got stuck in a sauna.

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Why it’s good to #runandtalk

Nov 2nd, 2017 by

The latest England Athletics #runandtalk week encourages runners to get their mental health issues out in the open

England Athletics #runandtalk campaign – supported by the charity Mind – has given an opportunity for their mental health ambassadors (MHAs) to offer local sessions where anyone can come and give running a try. Bring together the great outdoors, the enthusiasm and experience of the MHAs, plus the expertise of run leaders and coaches, and trying out exercise becomes less intimidating, more welcoming, even – dare I say it – fun.

I’m living proof of the inextricable link between running and positive mental health. Amid the turmoil of a complicated divorce, I set up a morning run group. I wanted to offer support to single mums like me, who could only run when their children were at school. As I went in and out of the school playground, every day, for years, so many of them would share their life issues. We all needed an outlet.

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‘So, how far is it again?’ – How to organise a marathon

Nov 2nd, 2017 by

Andy Palmer of multiple-award-winning races organisers White Star Running answers your questions, from how to set up a race to how to divert errant bulls

My name is Andy Palmer and I own White Star Running. We organise trail events, from one-mile kids’ races up to marathons and beyond. These are some of the questions we are often asked.

How do we plan a new race?
A marathon is 26 miles and 385 yards. Well, road marathons are that distance, as most are officially measured. But if you organise a trail race, things become a bit more flexible. That exact distance is very difficult to achieve if you are running over rights of way, national trails, hills, mountains paths, through streams, over stiles and around the beautiful British countryside. Generally, the off-road world happily accepts that trail running isn’t an exact science, and trusts race organisers to be close enough. However, woe betide the race that comes up below the 26.2-mile distance – people want over, not under. More miles for your entry fee is a good thing. We tend to use the term “ish” for our race: 26.2-miles-ish, half marathon-ish. It’s a get-out-of-jail-free card when the “marathon” is an extra mile or two.

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How was your weekend running?

Nov 2nd, 2017 by

Well I don’t know what you did yesterday but I clocked up marathon number nine. There were loads of races yesterday, so come and share your own triumphs below the line as always

Good morning! Well, good morning from Chicago, where the sun has just risen, so apologies for operating on my local time, leaving you all waiting today. Yesterday was a bit of a busy one: ran a marathon, toured one of the best art galleries in the world, went to a basketball game. Just your usual Sunday, then …

So: Chicago marathon. What a race! The homemade signs (my favourites: “Run faster, I’ve got brunch reservations!” and “Running a marathon burns 675 M&Ms”) and the support, the kids offering hugs for runners, the skyscrapers, the lovely marshals, the high five from the US army and the (joking, I think) offer of a lift home in the back of a police car from a Chicago cop … Just amazing. What a fabulous town, what a fantastic race.

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High street lunch meal deals ‘can contain up to 30 teaspoons of sugar’

Nov 2nd, 2017 by

Health group criticises retailers including WH Smith, Tesco and Morrisons for mix and match deals containing calorific snacks

Some high street lunch meal deals contain the equivalent of up to 30 teaspoons of sugar, according to a survey by a health group which criticises retailers for including super-sized fizzy drinks and calorific snacks such as chocolate and sweets.

Consumers could be putting their health at serious risk by eating and drinking such high sugar combinations on a daily or regular basis, said Action on Sugar.

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Top obstetrician supports women taking abortion pills at home

Nov 2nd, 2017 by

Prof Lesley Regan says taking misoprostol at home allows for safer care than making women travel to clinics

One of the UK’s top gynaecologists has said the decision to allow women in Scotland to take abortion pills at home is “admirable” and she hopes there will be support for the move in England.

Prof Lesley Regan, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), said it was another step in making it easier for women to access safe care.

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