Conti Lightning Run 2014

The premise of the Conti Lightning Run is simple: teams of one, two or five must run as many 10k laps of a course around Catton Park in 12 hours. The individual or pair or quintet who run the furthest are the winners. I was part of a Men’s Running team that won this year’s…

The agony of the mile

Running and racing is rarely as joyful as the smiling, skipping cover models adorning running magazines would have readers believe. I have had bad times running. And I have had some really bad times. Like climbing a wind-blasted Great Whernside some 55 miles into the Fellsman. Like running the London Marathon with plantar fasciitis. Like…

Running in circles

I ran track (that sounds very American, doesn’t it?) at school. I had a best of 2.13 over 800m. I was distinctly average. I never came close to winning anything. I recall 800m races being uncompromisingly hard. I continued my mediocrity at university, memorably running the 1500m in 4.29 at a BUSA indoors championship while…

Fell running and the Langdale Horseshoe: leaving behind the contrived world

There was no warning. I had hurtled downhill off the rough roof of Thunacar Knott and as I approached Martcrag Moor, the ground, previously solid, became liquid. Wooomph! I began to disappear. Calves gone. Knees gone. Thighs gone. Waist gone. Gasping, a thousand thoughts a moment, body flailing forward, legs scrambling for traction. Swimming, wriggling,…

10 inspirational places to run in Britain

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh A mountain amid a city, a volcanic plug, a tourist honeypot. Run over grassy ramparts, slip beneath the towering Salisbury Crags, try not to stop running on a steep, winding, unending staircase, scramble the final steps to the rocky, breezy summit of Arthur’s Seat. While you are unlikely to be alone, you…

Discovering Strava

I have discovered Strava. Or Strada, as my wife likes to call it. ‘That’s a restaurant chain,’ I point out annoyingly. ‘Totally different.’ I joined Strava earlier this year, but I did not really get it. Another way to record how far and how long you have been running or cycling, I thought. I used…

The travails of a soft southerner in the Lake District

It had all started rather well. I was running in fifth place in the Lowther Trail Run, ticking along nicely. I could not believe my luck. Despite not having raced for three months, with much of that time lost to injury, I was climbing well, descending reasonably and moving purposefully on trail. Entering mile six…

Cornwall: Britain’s best county for running?

Some time ago I posted musings on the best place to run in Britain. I decided on Edinburgh, having spent a while scampering around and about Arthur’s Seat. I have changed my mind. Cornwall – that utopian land of coast, sea and moor – has turned my fickle head. Is this Britain’s best county for running? The case could…

The art of the ultra-shuffle

You have to be an ultra-runner to appreciate the qualities of the ultra-shuffle. To the non-initiated (and count yourself lucky), to ultra-shuffle is to occupy the hazy middle-ground between running and walking. It occurs when the athlete is fatigued to the extent that fluent, hamstring-extending motion is no longer possible – but, while the will…

Running – why time matters (a lot)

When I was training for a sub three-hour marathon, the numbers of consequence were 6.52. Run each mile of 26.2 in six minutes, 52 seconds, and you will run a marathon in under the magical three-hour barrier. I have new numbers of consequence: 8.57. Let’s call them nine-minute miles: that would be a 5k in…

A runner’s worst nightmare? A field of cows

What is my biggest fear about running the Vanguard Way? Completing the full 66 miles? Eating and drinking enough to sustain myself for 10 hours? Conquering 1800 metres of thigh-shredding ascent and descent? I can prepare for those eventualities. A far more unpredictable proposition awaits: the fauna of Sussex and Surrey. My first encounter with…